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The same old same old

October 26, 2014

Via Instapundit, I came across this article by Kevin Williams at NRO. He talks about several other cases in addition to Joseph Adams’.

Meet the New Serfs: You
Accountability is only for the little people.

The New Haven SWAT team must have been pretty amped up: It was midnight, and they were getting ready to bust down the door of a man wanted on charges involving weapons violations, robbery — and murder. They were not sure how many people were in the house, or how they’d react. After a volley of flash grenades that set fire to the carpet and a sofa, they moved in, guns drawn. A minute later, they had their man zip-tied on the floor.

If only they’d double-checked the address first.

Bobby Griffin Jr. was wanted on murder charges. His next-door neighbor on Peck Street, Joseph Adams, wasn’t. But that didn’t stop the SWAT team from knocking down his door, setting his home on fire, roughing him up, keeping him tied up in his underwear for nearly three hours, and treating the New Haven man, who is gay, to a nance show as officers taunted him with flamboyantly effeminate mannerisms. [...]

And when Mr. Adams showed up at the New Haven police department the next day to fill out paperwork requesting that the authorities reimburse him for the wanton destruction of his property — never mind the gross violation of his rights — the story turned Kafkaesque, as interactions with American government agencies at all levels tend to do. The police — who that same night had managed to take in the murder suspect next door without the use of flash grenades or other theatrics after his mother suggested that they were probably there for her son — denied having any record of the incident at Mr. Adams’s home ever having happened. [...]

In a sane world, the New Haven authorities would have shown up at Adams’s house with a check, flowers, and an apology, and a certificate exempting him from taxes for the rest of his life. In this world, people in his situation get treated by the government like they are the ones who have screwed up. And of course they’d say they had no record of the episode — getting information about your situation from any government agency, especially from one that is persecuting you, requires an agonizing effort.

In the same vein, here’s an interesting essay by Frank Serpico at Politico. (Tip o’ the hat to Paul.) Mr. Serpico describes a lot of the corruption and egregious violence he saw during his career as a policeman. He ends his essay with a list of recommendations for reining in out-of-control police forces, the most important one being independent review boards.

The Police Are Still Out of Control
I should know.

In the opening scene of the 1973 movie “Serpico,” I am shot in the face—or to be more accurate, the character of Frank Serpico, played by Al Pacino, is shot in the face. Even today it’s very difficult for me to watch those scenes, which depict in a very realistic and terrifying way what actually happened to me on Feb. 3, 1971. I had recently been transferred to the Narcotics division of the New York City Police Department, and we were moving in on a drug dealer on the fourth floor of a walk-up tenement in a Hispanic section of Brooklyn. The police officer backing me up instructed me (since I spoke Spanish) to just get the apartment door open “and leave the rest to us.”

One officer was standing to my left on the landing no more than eight feet away, with his gun drawn; the other officer was to my right rear on the stairwell, also with his gun drawn. When the door opened, I pushed my way in and snapped the chain. The suspect slammed the door closed on me, wedging in my head and right shoulder and arm. I couldn’t move, but I aimed my snub-nose Smith & Wesson revolver at the perp (the movie version unfortunately goes a little Hollywood here, and has Pacino struggling and failing to raise a much-larger 9-millimeter automatic). From behind me no help came. At that moment my anger got the better of me. I made the almost fatal mistake of taking my eye off the perp and screaming to the officer on my left: “What the hell you waiting for? Give me a hand!” I turned back to face a gun blast in my face. I had cocked my weapon and fired back at him almost in the same instant, probably as reflex action, striking him. (He was later captured.)

When I regained consciousness, I was on my back in a pool of blood trying to assess the damage from the gunshot wound in my cheek. Was this a case of small entry, big exit, as often happens with bullets? Was the back of my head missing? I heard a voice saying, “Don’ worry, you be all right, you be all right,” and when I opened my eyes I saw an old Hispanic man looking down at me like Carlos Castaneda’s Don Juan. My “backup” was nowhere in sight. They hadn’t even called for assistance—I never heard the famed “Code 1013,” meaning “Officer Down.” They didn’t call an ambulance either, I later learned; the old man did. One patrol car responded to investigate, and realizing I was a narcotics officer rushed me to a nearby hospital (one of the officers who drove me that night said, “If I knew it was him, I would have left him there to bleed to death,” I learned later). [...]

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LEAP’s Top Ten

October 17, 2014

A nicely done post (with good graphics). RTWT – it won’t take long.

10 Shocking Reasons To End The Drug War

This is not your ordinary Top 10 Buzzfeed list. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of law enforcement officials opposed to the war on drugs, created this list to show why the War on Drugs has been one of the most disastrous policies in American history. From mass incarceration and tremendous loss of life to billions of dollars seized from citizens every year, drug prohibition is a colossal failure. We need you to share this list to help get the word out. Help grow the number of people in this country and around the globe demanding legalization, regulation and control.

andy-griffith-2014

Via Carpe Diem

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A lighter look at civil forfeiture

October 11, 2014

John Oliver takes a cheeky look at civil (asset) forfeiture. You may be surprised by some of the things he mentions.

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Something pretty cool in New York

October 5, 2014

If you read all the posts about cops here, you might come away with the idea that they’re mostly cruel people who enjoy abusing their power. They’re not, of course; my own interactions with police have been positive by and large. And I think that police officers show the same mix of good and bad folks that’s in the general population.

So for a little balance, here’s a story about a cop and a young child that’s good news. Congratulations to Sergeant Hildenbrand for helping to save this boy’s life.

Police officer drives car and does CPR at same time on toddler

RED HOOK, N.Y. (WABC) –
A Red Hook police sergeant thought he was just pulling over a speeder; instead it turned out to be a frantic dad trying to get help for his son.

The 22-month-old was having a medical emergency and the officer took quick action that saved the little boy’s life. [...]

On Monday, Morgan’s 22-month-old boy, also named Matthew, suffered a seizure and collapsed. The 19-year-old grabbed the small lifeless body and jumped into his car. Speeding through the Dutchess County Village of Red Hook, Morgan and Police Sergeant Patrick Hildenbrand spotted each other at just about the same time.

“I was going and then he hit his lights and then as soon as I seen that I stopped and I ran to his car. You get through traffic a lot faster,” Morgan said.

“He has a young boy in his hands and he’s running at me, yelling at me, his son is not breathing. ‘I think my son is dead, my son is not breathing,'” Hildenbrand said.

What happened next is extraordinary. Morgan, now in the back seat of a police SUV held his son close to the partition and watched as the 35-year-old policeman drove to the hospital and performed CPR on the boy at the same time.

“I reached my hand back here as I’m driving, moved my body over and started doing all the compressions and feeling for a pulse while I could still operate the vehicle,” Hildenbrand said. [...]

“I really don’t think this child would be here today if it wasn’t for those efforts. I think the key is when you can start rescue CPR out in the community it certainly, the earlier you start it the better outcomes you have,” said Dr. John Sabia, of Northern Dutchess Hospital.

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Something rotten in Maryland

October 1, 2014

This is the opening of a recent editorial in The Washington Post. If you read the whole thing, it makes this case really smell fishy.

A judge wrongly throws out an officer’s assault verdict in Prince George’s County

IN PRINCE George’s County, it is now clear that the police, without provocation, can beat an unarmed young student senseless — with impunity. They can blatantly lie about it — with impunity. They can stonewall and cover it up for months — with impunity. They can express no remorse and offer no apology — with impunity.

The agent of this travesty of justice, and this impunity, is Judge Beverly J. Woodard of the Prince George’s County Circuit Court. Judge Woodard has presided in the case involving John J. McKenna, a young University of Maryland student who was savagely beaten by two baton-wielding Prince George’s cops in March 2010, following a men’s basketball game on the College Park campus.

The beating of Mr. McKenna was videotaped; had it not been, the police, who filed no report and then falsely claimed that he instigated the incident and attacked them, may never have been investigated or charged. Yet despite the fact that a jury convicted one of the police officers, James Harrison Jr., of assault nearly two years ago, Judge Woodard has now thrown the verdict out and closed the case.

Via Radley Balko

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Another one bites the dust

September 27, 2014

Paul sends a link to this article at Vice about a utopian settlement project called Galt’s Gulch Chile. Has any utopian settlement ever lasted for more than a couple of decades?

Based on this article, it sounds as though this project didn’t fall apart so much as it never got started.

ATLAS MUGGED: HOW A LIBERTARIAN PARADISE IN CHILE FELL APART

It was a good idea, in theory anyway. The plan was to form a sustainable community made up of people who believed in capitalism, limited government, and self-reliance. The site was already picked out: 11,000 acres of fertile land nestled in the valleys of the Chilean Andes, just an hour’s drive away from the capital of Santiago, to the east, and the Pacific Ocean, to the west. Residents could make money growing and exporting organic produce while enjoying Chile’s low taxes and temperate climate. This was no crackpot scheme to establish a micronation on a platform floating in the middle of the ocean (a common libertarian dream)—this was a serious attempt to build a refuge where free marketers and anarcho-capitalists could hole up and wait for the world’s fiat currencies to collapse. They called it “Galt’s Gulch Chile” (GGC), naming it for the fictional place where the world’s competent capitalists flee to in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

The project was conceived in 2012 by four men: John Cobin, an American expat living in Chile who once ran unsuccessfully for Congress in South Carolina; Jeff Berwick, the globe-trotting founder of the Dollar Vigilante, a financial newsletter that preaches the coming end of the current monetary system; Cobin’s Chilean partner; and Ken Johnson, a roving entrepreneur whose previous investment projects included real estate, wind turbines, and “water ionizers,” pseudoscientific gizmos that are advertised as being able to slow aging.

That initial group quickly fell apart, though today the principals disagree on why. Now, two years after its founding, the would-be paradise is ensnared in a set of personal conflicts, mainly centered on Johnson. Instead of living in a picturesque valley selling Galt’s Gulch–branded juice, the libertarian founders are accusing one another of being drunks, liars, and sociopaths. GGC’s would-be inhabitants have called Johnson a “weirdo,” a “pathological liar,” “insane,” a “scammer,” and other, similar things. Some shareholders are pursuing legal action in an effort to remove him from the project, a drastic measure for antigovernment types to take. Johnson, who remains the manager of the trust that controls the land, claims all the allegations against him are false. So what happened?

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What he said (5)

September 24, 2014

A good essay about what science is and what it’s not. (The author’s emphasis below.)

How our botched understanding of ‘science’ ruins everything

Here’s one certain sign that something is very wrong with our collective mind: Everybody uses a word, but no one is clear on what the word actually means.

One of those words is “science.”

Everybody uses it. Science says this, science says that. You must vote for me because science. You must buy this because science. You must hate the folks over there because science.

Look, science is really important. And yet, who among us can easily provide a clear definition of the word “science” that matches the way people employ the term in everyday life?

So let me explain what science actually is. Science is the process through which we derive reliable predictive rules through controlled experimentation. That’s the science that gives us airplanes and flu vaccines and the Internet. But what almost everyone means when he or she says “science” is something different.

To most people, capital-S Science is the pursuit of capital-T Truth. It is a thing engaged in by people wearing lab coats and/or doing fancy math that nobody else understands. The reason capital-S Science gives us airplanes and flu vaccines is not because it is an incremental engineering process but because scientists are really smart people.

In other words — and this is the key thing — when people say “science”, what they really mean is magic or truth.

H.T. Jeff

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