In the News:
McCain Wants to 'Surge' American Communities
ABC News reports from John McCain's appearance at the Urban League in August 2008:
Answering a question about his approach to combatting crime, John McCain suggested that military strategies currently employed by US troops in Iraq could be applied to high crime neighborhoods here in the US.
McCain called them tactics "somewhat like we use in the military. You go into neighborhoods, you clamp down, you provide a secure environment for the people that live there, and you make sure that the known criminals are kept under control. And you provide them with a stable environment, and then they cooperate with law enforcement."
The way he described it, his approach sounded an awful lot like the 'Surge' in Iraq.
Coerced into Snitching, Woman Jumps Off Bridge Instead
A woman who was arrested on drug charges and then pressed into working as an informant jumped from a bridge into the near-freezing Wenatchee River, Washington State in early July. The 43-year-old woman, Sandra I. Duffy, jumped about 20 feet to the water, which is about 48 degrees. She had been arrested earlier on probation violation warrants and drug charges, including possessing methamphetamine.
Ms. Duffy had previously worked with the Columbia River Drug Task Force, and agreed to help buy cocaine from a seller who wanted to meet on the bridge.
Duffy was recaptured two days after jumping, and was identified, arrested and jailed for investigation of escape, obstructing justice and theft for getting out of the handcuffs.
Source: Associated Press
SWAT Raids Mayor's House, Kills His Dogs
On an August evening, in the tiny Washington, DC suburb of Berwyn Heights, a SWAT team from the Prince Georges County, Maryland, police department, stormed a home, killed two dogs, then handcuffed one of the homeowners and his mother-in-law on the floor for hours as the dogs' blood drained around them.
That homeowner happened to be the mayor of the town, a fact which has drawn a lot of attention to the incident. The rationale for the home invasion was that a package of marijuana had been delivered to the home. What was mentioned in the press, but not reflected on, is that the package had actually been brought to the home by the police.
A drug dog in Arizona smelled marijuana inside a package at the post office, addressed to the mayor's wife. Police brought the package to Maryland, and disguised as postal workers delivered it to the house. The box sat outside all day. When Mayor Calvo came home, he brought the box inside, placed it near the door, and went upstairs. The SWAT team then stormed the house, killed the dogs, and locked the people up.
Source: Drug War Chronicle (US)
Private US Firm Teaches Torture to Mexican Police
Videos showing Mexican police learning torture methods appeared on the Internet in July as the country, soon to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. anti-drug aid, is seeking to improve its human rights record. The videos show officers in the city of Leon, about 150 miles northwest of Mexico City, forcing one of their colleagues to crawl through vomit and injecting carbonated water into the nose of another.
An instructor, whose face can be seen in one video, barks out commands in English. Leon Police Chief Carlos Tornero told the Associated Press that the instructor is from a private U.S. security firm, but he declined to say which one.
Mexican and international human rights organizations expressed concern over the videos.
"This is troubling," said Sergio Aguayo, founder of the nonprofit Mexican Academy for Human Rights. "In the past, torture was usually hidden. Now they don't even bother."
NYPD Retaliates Against Club Owner
Last year, New York police officers arrested four men in a city nightclub on charges of selling $100 worth of cocaine. After six months and the men's life savings, their names were cleared, because club surveillance video showed that the undercover cops had no contact with the accused men in the two hours they were in the club.
Now, club owner Eduardo Espinoza says the police are retaliating against him because he made the tapes available to defense counsel. Espinoza had received just two summonses in the two-and-a-half years he owned the club prior to turning over the videotapes. He has received more than a dozen since.
"I've been harassed so much, I'm selling my business," said Espinoza, owner of Delicias de Mi Tierra on 91st Place in Elmhurst. "Every two to three weeks, there's cops in here, searching the bar. If there's no violation, they'll make it up. I lost all my clients -- everybody's scared to come in my place right now."
Source: Reason Magazine
Brazil Appeals Court Rules Drug Possession Not a Crime
In March, a Brazilian appeals court in São Paulo declared that possession of drugs for personal use is not a criminal offense. Several lower courts had previously ruled in the same way, but the ruling from the São Paulo Justice Court's 6th Criminal Chamber marked the first time an appeals court there had found Brazil's drug law unconstitutional as it pertains to simple drug possession.
The ruling came in the case of Ronaldo Lopes, who was arrested with 7.7 grams of cocaine in three separate bags on the night before Carnival began in 2007. Lopes acknowledged that the drugs were his and said they were for his personal use, and was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison as a drug trafficker. But the appeals court judges threw out the trafficking charge since it was based on an anonymous complaint. It then threw out the possession charge, saying it was unconstitutional.
In his opinion in the case, Judge José Henrique Rodrigues Torres said the law criminalizing drug possession for personal use was invalid because it violated the constitutional principles of harm (there is no harm to third parties), privacy (it is a personal choice), and equality (possessing alcohol is not a crime). "One cannot admit any state intervention, mainly repressive and of penal character, in the realm of personal choice, especially when it comes to legislating morality," he said.
Source: Drug War Chronicle (US)
Officer Acquitted in Mother and Child Shooting
LIMA, Ohio -- Tarika Wilson, 26, was killed in January by Sgt. Joseph Chavalia, and her 13-month-old baby, Sincere Wilson was shot in the shoulder and hand, with an injured finger amputated afterward. An 11-man Lima SWAT team raided Tarika Wilson's house in search of her boyfriend, Anthony Terry, who was wanted on drug charges.
Sergeant Chavalia was acquitted in August of misdemeanor negligent homicide and negligent assault. The sergeant is white; Wilson was black.
Calling the all-white jury's verdict "an injustice," Rev. Jesse Jackson said the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, an activist group he founded, plans to take action in the situation, but only under the leadership of Lima's Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, a coalition of the city's black religious community.
Source: The Blade (OH)