Black and mixed race people in London more likely to be Tasered

Figures show 40% of cases where stun guns used since 2014 involved people of black or mixed white and black ethnicities

Black and mixed-race people in London have been on the receiving end of more than 40% of police Taser use since 2014, despite accounting for less than one in six of the capital’s residents, the Guardian can reveal.

Figures obtained by a freedom of information (FoI) request show police are disproportionately targeting people of black or mixed white and black ethnicity with the electric stun guns, raising fresh concerns of racism in the force.

Related: Leader of black police officers warns against Taser rollout proposals

Related: Police Taser their own race relations adviser in Bristol

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Bernard Hogan-Howe: armed police deserve more public trust

Threat of investigation and trial is putting badly needed recruits off, the Met’s chief will say in his last big speech before retirement

Britain’s top police officer will warn that there may not be enough armed officers to fight terrorists on London’s streets if they are not given more trust.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, who retires later this month as commissioner of the Metropolitan police, will use his last set-piece speech to make the plea.

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Military police begin patrols in paralyzed Brazilian state

A military police officer (R) talks with relatives of police officers who are blocking the main entrance of police headquarters, during a police strike over wages, in Vitoria, Espirito Santo, Brazil February 11, 2017. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker - RTSY59N

A military police officer, right, talks with relatives of police officers who are blocking the main entrance of police headquarters, during a police strike over wages, in Vitoria, Espirito Santo, Brazil, on February 11, 2017. Photo by Paulo Whitaker/Reuters

SAO PAULO — A few dozen military police returned to duty in Espirito Santo on Saturday, but it was unclear if the force as a whole was ready to end a weeklong strike that has paralyzed the southeastern Brazilian state and led to an outburst of violence in which more than 130 people have reportedly died.

Earlier in the day, the defense minister appealed to “all of the good police officers” to return to the streets, even as he said that life was beginning to return to normal now that more than 3,000 federal troops are on patrol.

The Espirito Santo Public Safety Department said in a statement late Saturday that officers were patrolling in the center of the state capital of Vitoria. It didn’t say how many had shown up for work, but a photo with the statement appeared to show at least a few dozen. The G1 news portal reported that there were 60.

Officers also showed up for work in two other towns, according to Gustavo Tenorio, a spokesman for the Public Safety Department.

It was unclear if the force as a whole was prepared to return to work, however. Earlier in the day, the government said officers had rejected an agreement, announced Friday, to end the weeklong strike for higher pay.

The state has seen an extraordinary wave of violence since the standoff began a week ago when family members of military police surrounded their barracks. The protesters prevented vehicles from exiting, thus paralyzing the force.

Because the military police, who patrol Brazilian cities, are forbidden to strike, relatives of the officers took the lead, but state authorities have accused officers themselves of being behind the movement. Union leaders have denied this, but said they support the protesters’ goals.

Throughout the week, the state has been reliant on federal troops, including both members of the military and the national guard, who have been patrolling the streets of several cities. Defense Minister Raul Jungmann said 3,130 troops were now in the state.

Jungmann told reporters that, since the troops arrived, looting and break-ins have stopped. He also said there had been a reduction in homicides, though the rate remains higher than normal.

In the vacuum left by police, shops have been looted and buses burned. The union representing civil police officers says 137 people have been killed since military police stopped patrolling. The state government has not released a death toll.

Amid the insecurity, most state services ground to a halt, with schools and health centers closing and city buses sitting idle.

Bus service partially resumed in the state capital of Vitoria on Saturday, and hospitals were open, according to Tenorio. But smaller health centers remained closed.

“On Monday, this was a ghost town,” Jungmann told reporters. “Today, we see a city that is getting back to normal: People are on the beach, people are in the streets, people are moving about.”

The government, which is experiencing an economic and fiscal crisis like many Brazilian states, has continued to reject demands for higher pay, though it said Friday it would analyze the system of promotions.

The strike in Espirito Santo inspired a handful of much smaller family protests in neighboring Rio de Janeiro state on Friday and Saturday. However, in Rio, family members did not block barracks, instead demonstrating peacefully outside them. The military police there took to Twitter to repeatedly reassure the population that they were on patrol.

The post Military police begin patrols in paralyzed Brazilian state appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Judge orders NYPD to disclose surveillance records of Black Lives Matters activists

Department officials fought disclosure by arguing protesters might be connected to the Islamic State.

Demonstrators with the Black Lives Matter movement cheer as New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton leaves New York’s City Hall after a news conference, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016. Bratton is leaving the nation’s largest police force, after a tenure in which he received credit for keeping crime down and navigated tension between police and minority communities. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday that Bratton will retire next month to enter the private sector, although he and Bratton wouldn’t disclose details. James O’Neill, the department’s top chief, will become commissioner. CREDIT: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

A New York judge has ordered the New York Police Department to disclose records pertaining to the undercover surveillance of Black Lives Matter activists during protests following the police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Protestor James Logue filed a public records request for video and audio footage taken by uniformed and plain-clothed NYPD officers of the crowds during two Grand Central Terminal protests in 2014 and 2015. The NYPD refused to comply with the request, arguing that disclosing any records would obstruct its ability to do police work.

Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Manuel Mendez ruled Wednesday that NYPD assistant intelligence chief John Donahue’s claims that releasing the data would expose details of ongoing terrorism investigations.

“His speculative and conclusive claims of potential related ongoing investigations of incidents against police officers, both in New York and outside of the state and generalized references to use of materials by the ISIS or ISIL terrorists, fail to provide a causal connection to the protesters and are insufficient to state a generic risk,” Mendez wrote in his decision.

Mendez also wrote that the NYPD made “blanket assertions and fail[ed] to particularize or distinguish their surveillance or undercover techniques and records.” The judge also insisted that using redactions would sufficiently protect the department’s intelligence tactics.

We won! Judge orders NYPD to release records of undercover surveillance of #BlackLivesMatter

 — @KeeganNYC

News broke of NYPD’s undercover surveillance efforts in September after the department responded to the petition indicating that it had multimedia records, metadata, and recorded conversations between police officers.

The NYPD has a history of controversial surveillance programs. The department increased its surveillance operations as part of their effort to combat terrorism, but they were forced to dismantle a 9/11-era program that monitored New York’s mosques and Muslim community. Their surveillance practices continued following the police choking death of Eric Garner.

Surveillance of communities of color and their allies isn’t new. Law enforcement agencies nationwide have increased their surveillance efforts in recent years as Black Lives Matter protests sprung up across the country to bring attention to incidents of police brutality. Beyond recording, police departments have also used online data to track prominent voices in the Black Lives Matter movement.

Wednesday’s legal victory, however, could pave the way for surveillance activity to be disclosed more readily.

Police surveillance of black protesters won’t stop the movement

Judge orders NYPD to disclose surveillance records of Black Lives Matters activists was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Behind Trump joke to sheriff, an offer to defend ugly police lawlessness

Decoding Trump’s offer to ruin Texas lawmakers who want to stop cops stealing from the innocent.

President Donald Trump met with county sheriffs at the White House on Tuesday. CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

A pair of Texas state lawmakers working across party lines to protect citizens from police thievery might have just wandered onto the president’s mercurial, erratic radar.

While hosting sheriffs from around the country in the Roosevelt Room on Tuesday, President Trump told Rockwall County Sheriff Harold Eavenson he’d be happy to help blitz the sheriff’s political opponents. Eavenson had just mentioned an effort by state senators to change the state’s asset forfeiture law, which allows cops and deputies there to snatch more than $40 million a year from people they decide are criminals —without ever charging them with any crime or proving their case to a judge.

Sheriff tells Trump that state senator is doing something he doesn’t like Trump: “Do you want to give his name? We’ll destroy his career.”

 — @SteveKopack

“I told him that the cartel would build a monument to him in Mexico if he could get that legislation passed,” Eavenson told the president.

“Do you want to give his name? We’ll destroy his career,” Trump said, to laughter from the staffers and sheriffs around the table.

Her career, actually.

State Sen. Konni Burton, a libertarian-leaning Republican from a district on the southern edge of the Fort Worth metropolitan area, is behind a bill to stop law enforcement from using mere probable cause to seize everything from cash to houses to vehicles. Trump and Eavenson might find her co-author, state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D), a more comfortable enemy: He is latino and represents a border district instead of a semi-suburban one. Neither Burton nor Hinojosa immediately responded to requests for comment.

The bipartisan pair are indeed looking to curtail asset forfeiture in Texas. The system is not just rooted in a flagrant violation of Americans’ right to due process, Burton argues, but it’s also deeply unfair. Victims of forfeiture have to prove they aren’t criminals, without the help of a public defender, in a court proceeding governed by rules that privilege police claims and set a higher bar for plaintiffs’ motions.

Opposition to asset forfeiture was briefly a non-partisan thing. Even the staunch conservative columnist George Will has savaged the policy as an abrogation of the Bill of Rights and a contortion of the law so absurd it would make an Alice in Wonderland character blush.

Police departments, often themselves strapped for cash, routinely use civil asset forfeiture to seize Americans’ property. Even the loosest connection back to a minor drug crime can cost someone his or her house, and even where no such connection really exists, it can be almost impossible for forfeiture victims to prove their case in court after police take their stuff. In many cases, those police departments warn anyone who criticizes the policy that rolling it back would leave local departments destitute.

Under Burton and Hinojosa’s bill, cops could no longer purloin your cash, car, house, or appliances just because they are pretty sure you committed a crime. They would need to win a criminal conviction first. The bill effectively repeals the practice, a much sterner response than the soft-touch reform packages enacted previously after investigations into asset forfeiture abuses made headlines.

When lawmakers have agreed to change asset forfeiture without destroying it, police organizations have generally been eager to help. When Congress and the Clinton White House took up reformers’ gripes in the late 1990s, the Fraternal Order of Police worked hard to ensure the weakest possible version of Clinton’s preferred legislation made it into law. Congress actually expanded the use of asset forfeiture in some dangerous ways, despite branding its work as a reform bill.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly twisted itself in knots to uphold asset forfeiture without any criminal charge or conviction. Officially, these facial violations of the plain text of the Bill of Rights are legal. The government can keep bringing absurd cases like United States vs. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins until the court sees sense.

Thanks to Trump’s win, asset forfeiture is likely to be expanded yet again. At the very least it certainly won’t be curtailed anytime soon: Incoming Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a staunch advocate of this practice. He’s even insisted that it is almost never used incorrectly. Both Trump and Sessions are hugely deferential to what rank-and-file law enforcement personnel tell them — in this case, that criticisms of asset forfeiture are “fake news” — and skeptical of the kinds of comprehensive outside analyses that have demonstrated abuses and constitutional issues with programs like asset forfeiture.

Perhaps it’s understandable that Trump’s cop-loving regime will push for retrograde policies like this one and reject the amply evidence that such “policing for profit” degrades society and law enforcement alike. But it is not normal or acceptable for a president to casually hint at targeting public servants who disagree with him.

It is dark to imagine the leader of the federal government steamrolling arguments between duly elected Texans about what the rules should be in their state — and darker still to think of him doing so just because a guy with a shiny badge told him a story at lunch.

Behind Trump joke to sheriff, an offer to defend ugly police lawlessness was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Covert infiltration of Grunwick strike to be examined at public meeting

A Metropolitan police undercover unit spied on strikers and their supporters during the well-known Grunwick disputeA public meeting next week will focus on how police covertly spied on a group of striking workers and their supporters.The strike at Grun…