Archive for the 'Civil Rights' Category

Bad Voodoo

April 3, 2008

All you need to know about what we are doing in Iraq.

Based on hand-held videos shot by National Guard troops serving their country, some of whom are on their 5th tour. Watch how tired these people are and ask yourself why we allow this to happen.

Frontline presents Bad Voodoo’s War. (To watch the video, click on the  “Watch the Full Program Online” link on the right side of the page.)

Troubled Oregon Police Officer Arrested for DUI

February 12, 2008

Officer William J. Bergin

Sandy, Oregon police officer William J. Bergin, known for his role in the notorius shooting of 27-year old Fouad Kaady, was arrested for DUI in March 2007. This front page article from the Sandy Post newspaper tells the story. Bergin remains on patrol.

[Update: This article revealed that Bergin resigned from his position with the Sandy Police on October 24, 2008. The first comment to this article pretty much sums up my feelings about the whole thing.]

[Update: Bergin was arrested on November 13, 2008 on charges of felony identity theft, first-degree official misconduct and use of an invalid license. Read the story here.]

Oregon District Judge Slams USA Patriot Act in Mayfield Case

September 26, 2007

Oregon District Judge Ann Aiken slammed the US government Wednesday, declaring that key portions of the USA Patriot Act violate the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution. The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unlawful search and seizure of “their persons, houses, papers and effects”.

Oregon attorney Brandon Mayfield was targeted by the US government for suspected involvement in the March 2004 bombings of commuter trains in Madrid, Spain that killed 191 persons and injured more than 1000. Mayfield, a practicing Muslim, was arrested after FBI agents allegedly determined that his fingerprints had been found on a bag used by the bombers. Acting under authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), as amended by the USA Patriot Act, federal agents searched Mayfield’s home and office, tailed him and his family, bugged his home and workplace and tapped his phones.

Judge Aiken found that even though the FBI stated that one of Mayfield’s fingerprints was a “100 percent” match to a print lifted from evidence at the scene of the bombings, Spanish authorities had insisted that the print actually belonged to an Algerian militant named Ouhane Daoud. Aiken found that federal agents issued “false and misleading affidavits” in order to justify invasive searches and Mayfield’s arrest as a “material witness” to the bombings.

Aiken found that the US government improperly revised the FISA law under the Patriot Act to conduct illegal surveillance of domestic criminal activity under the guise of terrorism surveillance.

“For over 200 years, this Nation has adhered to the rule of law – with unparalleled success,” Aiken wrote in her 44-page opinion. “A shift to a Nation based on extra-constitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill-advised.”

Citing the US Supreme Court’s words from a prior case, Aiken affirmed: “The price of lawful public dissent must not be a dread of subjection to an unchecked surveillance power. Nor must the fear of unauthorized official eavesdropping deter vigorous citizen dissent and discussion of Government action in private conversation. For private dissent, no less than open public discourse, is essential to our free society.”

[UPDATE: As expected, the Bush regime, er, administration, has appealed the decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.]

Feds Play Terrorism Card in Oregon Green Scare Case

May 5, 2007

Federal prosecutors filed a motion in the District of Oregon Friday asking Judge Ann L. Aiken to lengthen the prison sentences of 10 defendants convicted of eco-sabotage in a series of actions beginning in 1995. Prosecutors argue that the defendants constitute a terrorist network and that sentences agreed to during plea negotiations are subject to a “terrorism adjustment” under the United States Sentencing Guidelines Manual of 2000.

Judge Aiken will hold a hearing in her Eugene courtroom on May 15 to discuss the government’s motion. She will finalize prison sentences for the defendants beginning May 22.

The 159-page Sentencing Memorandum filed Friday is the most detailed document to date on the government’s version of the story. Here is a related article from the Oregonian.

Whose Streets?: Portland Police Violence at First Amendment Assemblies

April 29, 2007

On Tuesday May 1, the Northwest Constitutional Rights Center and the Portland chapter of the National Lawyers Guild will release a written report titled “Whose Streets? Recommend- ations to the Portland Police Bureau for Responding to First Amendment Assemblies”. The report is accompanied by a short video I produced for the Center that richly details how badly the Portland police continue to respond to First Amendment activities on the streets and sidewalks of the city. (Warning: This video is stark.)

This project is compiled from Center files and contains video shot from 2002 to 2006 by street video activists, legal observers, corporate media and the police themselves.

I am posting the video a couple of days early because I will be volunteering with the Portland Legal Defense Network to monitor and respond to arrests or police misconduct during the May Day march Tuesday afternoon.

A Picture That Says It All

March 12, 2007

This photograph from the 1965 Portland Rose Festival was reprinted in today’s paper. It shows a local high school rock and roll band with the futuristic name EPIX jamming on the stage of the Memorial Coliseum while a row of Portland police officers wince and cover their ears.

I think this picture says it all. And I would give just about anything to know what their set sounded like.

Click here for a larger version of the photo.

Courtesy of The Oregonian.

State of the Police State: James Chasse’s Family Fights Back

February 10, 2007

On Sunday, September 17, 2006, two Portland police officers and a Multnomah County sheriff’s deputy murdered James Chasse, Jr. (right, at the age of 14) in the Pearl District neighborhood of the city. Police officers Christopher Humphreys and Kyle Nice and Multnomah County deputy Bret Burton chased Chasse, tackled him to the ground, repeatedly kicked and punched him, Tasered him and hogtied his arms and legs behind his back. James was a slight 145 pound man carrying a backpack with some comic books and a sandwich.

The beating fractured 16 of James’ ribs and punctured one of his lungs. While he was restrained, James lost consciousness and paramedics were summoned. (See photos of the scene.) When a crowd began to gather around the scene of the assault, according to a lawsuit filed by the family Thursday, the officers began to loudly assert that he was “a transient” who was “on cocaine” and had “14 cocaine convictions”.

None of it was true.

James, 42, was a resident of the neighborhood, had no drugs or alcohol in his system and had never been convicted of any crime. His only “crime” was being schizophrenic and running away from the police who frightened him on the street.

The police never informed the paramedics of the vicious beating they had given their victim or of his loss of consciousness. Instead of transporting him to a hospital for treatment, the officers lifted James into the back of a squad car while he was still hogtied and took him to jail. Nurses at the jail refused to allow James to be booked into custody, yet failed to call 911 or render any medical examination or treatment to the broken man. The officers put him back into the car, still hogtied, and drove toward a hospital without lights or siren.

James died in the back seat before reaching the hospital.

A Multnomah County grand jury cleared all of the officers of wrongdoing. Each of the officers is still on patrol.

On Thursday of this week, James Chasse’s parents and siblings filed a federal lawsuit in the District of Oregon. A copy of the lawsuit is available here. A thread on the Portland Indymedia website which describes James Chasse’s life and personality is located here.

Brave New Year

December 31, 2006

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Saddam Hussein execution this weekend and have a few observations about it. First, I do not agree with the death penalty under any circumstances, even for dictators. Especially when it is so plain that the defendant was tried by a victors’ kangaroo court with no right to cross examination or true appeal.

The US media repeatedly trumpeted the “fact” that Saddam was executed by Iraqis outside the Green Zone, with NO AMERICANS PRESENT. It only took one day for me to find an article stating that the execution took place on an American military base (!), in a building which houses the site of the former regime’s military intelligence organization. Which begs the question, “How can no Americans be present when the whole thing is being conducted inside the wire of one of the occupiers’ bases??” What, were they outside the door?

The US media showed a lot of video of Iraqis celebrating the death of the dictator, but I learned today that there was a surprising LACK of celebration in the streets. In fact, according to some observers, the execution of Saddam on the holiest day of the Muslim year, the Eid al Adha, is likely to make him a martyr in the eyes of Sunnis, and possibly a prophet. The execution, carried out by the United States and the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government, is very likely to further inflame ethnic tensions and sectarian violence and increase Sunni attacks on their American occupiers, all so George W. Bush can get his rocks off. Read what a well-known female Baghdad blogger nicknamed Riverbend has to say about all of this.

I recall Bush talking tough about the murderers who kill their victims on camera and then post the videos online as a further act of terror. Now Bush himself is posting his own snuff films on the “Internets”. WARNING: This cellphone video of Saddam’s execution is real and WILL be disturbing to most viewers!!

Lastly, I note that the last day of 2006 also saw the 3000th officially acknowledged dead American servicemember in the Iraq occupation. How much larger is this number going to be by the last day of 2007? And after that?

[Postscript: When I first posted this article, I used a photo that I created from one frame of the “unofficial” video of Saddam’s hanging, the cellphone video that leaked onto the Worldwide Web within minutes of the execution. I decided to take the picture down because I think it might be a little too much for the casual visitor to this site to see a man swinging from the end of a hangman’s noose. I have posted the image here if you still want to look.]

State of the Police State: Fouad Kaady’s Family Fights Back

September 7, 2006

Fouad Kaady was 27 on September 8, 2005 when a gas can in his vehicle exploded, burning him severely. He crashed his car, tore off his clothes, and staggered down the street dazed and confused. Burned flesh fell from his body as stunned witnesses called 911 to summon medical help.

Minutes later, a Sandy, Oregon police officer and a Clackamas County deputy shot Kaady seven times, though witnesses said he was unarmed, naked, badly burned, disoriented, and had not threatened the police officers or attempted to flee the area. The officers had turned back an ambulance that waited in vain to treat the man’s burns.

Neither officer was disciplined and both are still on patrol.

On Tuesday in the federal district court of Oregon, famed litigator Gerry Spence filed a lawsuit on behalf of Fouad Kaady’s family, one year after the tragic event. Here is the link to an article I wrote on the lawsuit. Here is a PDF of the lawsuit.

Anniversary of Portland Police Riot on August 22

August 20, 2006

Two days will see the 4th anniversary of the infamous Portland Police riot of August 22, 2002. At the time, a couple thousand people were in the streets to tell George W. Bush what they thought of his plan to launch an immoral and illegal war on Iraq. (Won’t go into all of it right now, but it seems pretty clear that the people were right and Bush quite wrong.) W was at a fundraiser in the Hilton and his handlers weren’t real happy to hear “GEORGE BUSH SUCKS!” echoing off the cavernous walls of downtown high rises, so the Portland Police Bureau and the Secret Service decided to beat the people down. Here is a radio piece I co-produced for KBOO-FM on October 25, 2002.

The City of Portland paid nearly $1,000,000 to settle the resulting lawsuit in 2004.