John Oliver on the ongoing problems in Ferguson, MO and the militarization of police.

If you’ve been paying attention to the news at all over the past week you’re already well aware of the problems in Ferguson where police officer Darren Wilson shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown six times resulting in his death. The people of Ferguson rose up in protest and the initial response from police was not handled well and things have gone from bad to worse since then. Events there have brought into focus several issues not the least of which is the long-standing legacy of racism in America, but also a newer problem in regards to the ongoing militarization of America’s police forces.

John Oliver on Last Week Tonight did a segment on both of these issues that is well worth watching:

This whole situation has been poorly handled from the start and it looks only to get worse before it gets better. With any luck, all of this will bring about some much needed changes not just in Ferguson, but across the country.

Man arrested for breath mints spends 3 months in jail.

Donald May of Florida was driving home one afternoon when cops pulled him over ostensibly for expired tags and then things went downhill fast:

May was pulled over for an expired tag on his car. When the officer walked up to him, he noticed something white in May’s mouth. May said it was breath mints, but the officer thought it was crack cocaine.

“He took them out of my mouth and put them in a baggy and locked me up [for] possession of cocaine and tampering with evidence,” May explained.

The officer claimed he field-tested the evidence and it tested positive for drugs. The officer said he saw May buying drugs while he was stopped at an intersection. He also stated in his report May waived his Miranda rights and voluntarily admitted to buying drugs.

May said that never happened.

“My client never admitted he purchased crack cocaine. Why would he say that?” attorney Adam Sudbury said.

That’s a pretty good question. It’s also curious that the officer says he saw May buy the drugs when he originally said he pulled him over due to expired tags. Still, it shouldn’t take long for things to get straightened out, right? I mean it was breath mints. That should be pretty easy to establish in short order.

Of course not. Don’t be silly. Most crime labs have a backlog to contend with. So they tossed May in jail, where he was unable to raise bond, so he sat there for three months until the crime lab was able to confirm that the candy was just candy. In the meantime his life went to hell as a result:

“While I was sitting in jail I lost my apartment. I lost everything,” he said.

While May was behind bars, the Kissimmee Police Department towed his car and auctioned it off. He lost his job and was evicted. Now May is suing the city for false arrest and false imprisonment. He wants to be compensated for the loss of his car and job.

In short the Kissimmee Police Department ruined this man’s life over fucking breath mints. This is what the “War on Drugs” has come to. You can be arrested on mere suspicion, held for months until the crime lab gets around to examining your evidence, and the police can happily sell your car while you’re rotting in jail. That last fact galls me to no end. The forfeiture laws in this country are ridiculous. At the very least you should have to be convicted in a court of law before any forfeiture of property to the police is allowed.

Man ejected from Yankee Stadium because left his seat during “God Bless America.”

From the You-Have-To-Be-Fucking-Kidding-Me file:

wcbstv.com – Fan Ejected From Yankee Stadium For Bathroom Break

During the patriotic 7th inning stretch at Yankee Stadium, nature called on Bradford Campeau-Laurion. When he tried to leave his seat during the traditional singing of God Bless America, however, he says he was stopped by a NYPD officer who said he’d have to wait until the song was done.

“I then said to him, ‘I don’t care about God Bless America. I just need to use the bathroom.’ As soon as I said that, he immediately pinned my arm behind my back,” Campeau-Laurion told CBS 2.

The 29-year-old says two officers pinned both of his arms behind his back and ejected him from the stadium.

“He shoved me out the front gate and told me get out of their country if I didn’t like it,” he said.

Apparently the New York Yankees have some sort of rule mandating that fans aren’t allowed to leave their seats during the playing of God Bless America and it’s enforced by the ushers, stadium security, and the NYPD. Needless to say, this is absolutely ridiculous and the fan has contacted the local ACLU to look into a lawsuit. Meanwhile the Yankees are saying this is a police matter and what is the response of the cops? They’ve opted to lie about it:

“The officers observed a male standing on his seat, cursing, using inappropriate language and acting in a disorderly manner while reeking of alcohol, and decided to eject him rather than subject others to his offensive behavior.

Campeau-Laurion was at the game with a Yankees season ticket holder who couldn’t believe the cops allegations.

“That’s ridiculous,” said the fan, who asked not to be identified. “That’s completely false.”

Seems to be a matter of policy with some police departments these days to make shit up when they’re caught doing something they shouldn’t.

Hat tip to God is for Suckers.

Why innocent people should never talk to the police.

Saw a couple of really fascinating videos over at Bruce Schneier’s blog by Professor James Duane of the Regent University School of Law about why in a criminal matter you should never ever talk to the police or any other government agent without a lawyer. Guilty or innocent, it doesn’t matter, nothing you say can help you.

Here’s Professor Duane’s video:

Followed by an equally fascinating video featuring George Bruch from the Virginia Beach police department who basically tells you that everything the Professor said is true:

I’m fortunate in that my dealings with the police have been few and very far between. The last encounter was when I unsuccessfully tried to turn left back in November of 2003 and, in retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have said much to the police, but I did and I was convicted and fined for “failure to yield to oncoming traffic” despite the fact that the people that hit me were running the light. Granted it’s a misdemeanor traffic accident and not a murder trial, but I probably would’ve fared better had I invoked my right to not self-incriminate. I don’t foresee ever being in a position where I’d be under suspicion on more serious charges, but then life is unpredictable so these videos make for some very compelling education just the same.

Bonus points for the repeated lesson that “people are stupid.”

God arrested for selling cocaine near church.

God just can’t seem to stay out of trouble. First he gets arrested for breaking and entering and now he’s caught selling cocaine:

Authorities began investigating God Lucky Howard in April, and he was arrested on Saturday. Police say he sold the cocaine to undercover detectives in his neighborhood. When officers searched his home, they reported finding another 22 grams of cocaine and a scale.

Jail records show Howard was charged with several counts drug possession and distribution, which include increased charges for being within 1,000 feet of a church, a school and public housing.

Who knew God was such a trouble maker?

Saturday Morning Confusion!

Here we are with our usual Saturday Morning Confusion about the world at large, and people in particular.

This week the decision on who to nominate for “Asshole of the Week!” did little to help the situation, since it seems everybody and his brother was eager to claim the title.

(By the way, “Everybody and his Brother,” are in no way related to Buddy Whats’is Name and the Udder Fellers!”)

I sorted through a long list of candidates and came up with a few possible suspects that were certainly deserving of the title.

The first of these lucky people is Harry Nibourg and his mis-guided co-horts who helped put together the Canadian Big Valley Creation Science Museum out in Western Canada, where a lot of these idiots live.

He says they hope it will help convince skeptics that their belief in a literal interpretation of the Bible—complete with massive flood, dinosaurs walking the earth side-by-side with humans and a seven-day plan only 6,000 years ago to get it all started—is based on scientific fact rather than blind faith.

(Goes to show we don’t need no stinkin’ American museum to confuse everyone, we can do it quite well on our own!)

“Evolution is not a science—please, please don’t call it a science,” Nibourg said as he walked through the one-room museum he has spent years and hundreds of thousands of dollars bringing into existence.

(This alone is enough to have this asshole nominated and then committed!)

Next are the U.S. Republicans in general for suggesting that nuclear weapons should not be ruled out in our disagreement with Iran.

A second-tier candidate, California Rep. Duncan Hunter, was more direct, saying the United States reserved the right to dissuade Iran militarily in any manner it chose.

“I would authorize the use of tactical nuclear weapons if there was no other way to preempt those particular centrifuges!”

“You shouldn’t take any options off the table,” said the leader in the Republican pack, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, when asked whether a tactical nuclear strike might be necessary.

The only reason they weren’t automatic winners, hands down, of “Assholes of the week” was the fact that I believe this was only political rhetoric, and in no way an actual rational proposal. (Although you never know!)

Our next candidate was Roy Pearson, a District of Columbia administrative law judge, who first sued Custom Cleaners over a pair of pants that went missing two years ago.

He was seeking about $65 million under the D.C. consumer protection act and almost $2 million in common law claims. Through the goodness of his heart he has reduced the claim to $54 million!

He is now focusing his claims on signs in the shop -that have since been removed- that Jin Nam Chung, Soo Chung and Ki Chung committed fraud and misled consumers with signs that claimed “Satisfaction Guaranteed” and “Same Day Service.”

This is a perfect example of a need for a change in the U.S. libel laws.

If you initiate a lawsuit and lose, you should pay the other sides legal bills. This would reduce frivolous litigation immediately.

Yes, there are lots of candidates for this prestigious award of “Asshole of the week” and after much deliberation I had to give the prize to the Vermont State Police Force and State Police Sgt. Todd Protzman.

Displaying the Hubris that is so prevalent amongst law enforcement officials, they charged and arrested a woman for staring at, and making faces at, a police dog!!!

Prosecuting a woman for `staring’ at a police dog is absurd,” said her lawyer.

“People are allowed to make faces at police dogs and officers to express their disapproval.

It’s constitutional expression,” said public defender Kelly Green, who represented Jayna Hutchinson.

Hutchinson, 33, of Lebanon, N.H., was charged with cruelty to a police animal and resisting arrest after a July 31 incident in West Fairlee in which police were called to a market to investigate a report of a brawl.

They were approached by Hutchinson, who told one officer she had been assaulted the day before by one of the men involved.

She asked Vermont State Police Sgt. Todd Protzman to take her statement but he refused, telling her she smelled like alcohol and was drunk but that he would take her statement at another time.

After a heated exchange, she approached Protzman’s cruiser, where his dog Max was waiting, putting her face within inches of the window and “staring at him in a taunting/harassing manner,” Protzman wrote in an affidavit.

“While the defendant taunted my canine, Max was focused on the defendant and the perceived threat she presented to him,” the affidavit said. “He was no longer focused on me and the other officers at the scene.”

Officers arrested Hutchinson, adding the resisting arrest charge because she pulled her arms and upper body away during the arrest.

She registered 0.21 percent blood-alcohol content on a breath test, more than twice the legal limit for drivers in Vermont. (except she wasn’t driving!)

On Tuesday, two days before Hutchinson was to go to trial, Orange County State’s Attorney Will Porter decided to drop the charges, after viewing a videotape of the incident over the weekend.

“I think it was going to be difficult to prove her conduct changed the dog’s behavior,” Porter said. “Most of the time (in harassment cases) people would come tell the court what it felt like. Dogs can’t do that.”

Without the cruelty charge, jurors would be unlikely to convict her on the resisting arrest, Porter said.

So, to Sgt. Todd Protzman and the cops in Orange Country N.H. goes our coveted Asshole of the Week trophy!!!!

Your “hush, hush, and on the Q.T.” scribe;
Allan W Janssen