The 2020 George Floyd/BLM/Police Brutality Protests Discussion Thread


United Kingdom
Oh they still keep coming

"The city of Philadelphia will pay a Black woman $2 million after police allegedly pulled her from her car, beat her, and separated from her nephew and toddler."

However, that's not the end of the story, as the National Fraternal Order of Police posted this on social media around the time of the incident:


Yep, they dragged her from her car, beat her, took her son and nephew away from her, and then a police union used an image of one of the children as a piece of propaganda!

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“National Fraternal Order,” huh? Sounds cultish. And I say this as a guy who usually thinks most policefolk are good people.
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Southwest Eastnorthernton
“National Fraternal Order,” huh? Sounds cultish. And I say this as a guy who usually thinks most policefolk are good people.
I respect law enforcement on the whole (though that respect isn't unconditional, as I've said), but the FOP, particularly its leadership, are ****ing garbage. It exists to shield bad actors from consequences.
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Southwest Eastnorthernton
Police accountability—once seldom-discussed among national politicians—has become a topic of constant conversation in Washington, D.C., as lawmakers attempt to bang out a compromise on criminal justice reform. Central to that debate is qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that makes it onerously difficult to hold government officials accountable in civil court when they violate your constitutional rights.

The doctrine was once obscure. Yet qualified immunity reform is now the flashpoint of those negotiations. After months of parleying on Capitol Hill, a compromise that once looked promising is now in jeopardy. Some Republicans are reportedly proposing an alternate option: Instead of reforming qualified immunity, they want it to be codified in the law.

Any movement on qualified immunity was seen as a nonstarter when Donald Trump was president, but a group of Republicans led by Sen. Tim Scott (R–S.C.) showed an increased willingness to work out a reform during this congressional session. While the GOP would not acquiesce to letting victims sue individual police officers, Scott announced that he would be open to having departments foot the bill for misconduct.

That compromise now appears to be crumbling. Though the Fraternal Order of Police had told Sen. Cory Booker (D–N.J.) it was open to the proposal, two other cop lobbies, the National Sheriffs' Association and the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), have now weighed in on the other side.

In a meeting led by Scott and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.), the sheriffs rejected the idea that their departments would have to take the heat for rogue officers' actions. Meanwhile, NAPO sent its members a message headlined "Urgent, Action Needed! Senator Booker Proposes Horrible Police Reform Bill."

Some Republicans now want to move in the opposite direction: They want qualified immunity—a creation of the U.S. Supreme Court—to be codified into federal statute. Alternatively, Graham has proposed letting departments be sued but only for cases involving death and serious bodily injury, which he calls a "sweet spot."

Qualified immunity protects misbehaving state actors from federal civil suits unless the precise way they misbehaved has been ruled unconstitutional in a prior court ruling. In practice, it has shielded a cop who killed a man who had been sleeping in his car; two cops who tased a suicidal, gasoline-covered man, causing him to burst into flames; and a cop who shot a 10-year-old boy while aiming at a nonthreatening dog. Often, the courts don't shy away from condemning such conduct—and sometimes openly admit that the victim's rights were violated. Yet the above officers did not have to face accountability for their actions, as there were no previous court rulings on the exact matters at hand.

But the doctrine also protects actions that extend beyond death and serious physical harm. Consider the more than two dozen cops who received qualified immunity after throwing explosives into an innocent 78-year-old man's home during a SWAT raid on the wrong house, or the two cops who got qualified immunity after stealing $225,000 during a search warrant, or the cop who ruined a man's car after conducting a bogus, two-hour-long drug search for which he lied to obtain consent. Under Graham's proposal, those victims would still be barred from suing.

That's what some police unions and Republicans are trying to maintain, and perhaps to entrench even further.
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Southwest Eastnorthernton
I remarked on this in a fleeting profile post when I first heard about it, but Tim Cushing has since written a fantastic piece on the subject.
Well, here's something unexpected, delivered in a somewhat tone-deaf fashion. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety has partnered with a mother whose son was killed by a Minnesota police officer to hopefully reduce the number of times people are killed by police officers for following instructions during traffic stops.
“License and registration, please." It's what we expect to hear when law enforcement stops us for a moving violation.

But today, many motorists ask themselves when the appropriate time is to reach into their glove box, purse or back pocket for the information.

The Minnesota State Patrol, along with several law enforcement agencies across the state, want to make it easier for drivers to store the information and for law enforcement to see when motorists are reaching for documents.

It's called a “Not-Reaching Pouch." Its intent is to store a person's driver's license, and insurance card in a pouch that's kept in plain sight in the vehicle on an air vent or other visible location.

The Department of Public Safety (DPS) recently purchased some Not-Reaching Pouches, which were created by Valerie Castile in partnership with Jacquelyn Carter, to help reduce deadly force encounters between law enforcement and citizens during traffic stops.
This isn't a new product or one the DPS came up with. Another person whose son was killed by police in Virginia came up with the idea and it was championed by Philando Castile's mother after her own son was shot and killed during a traffic stop. If you don't want to get the pouch from a cop, anyone can purchase one directly from the creator's website.


But the DPS's rollout leaves a lot to be desired. As does the product itself when it's being handed out by government employees, as it implies the solution to easily scared officers isn't better training and less reliance on deadly force, but rather asking citizens to defuse the walking bombs that have pulled them over.

The press release is also written in an exonerative tone, distancing these public servants from the public servants who have killed residents of the state. The problem isn't "people" having trouble figuring out when it's "appropriate" to reach for their IDs and insurance information. They do it when they are asked or instructed to. The problem is that they sometimes get shot while attempting to comply with officers' instructions.

But the most problematic aspect of this partnership between people whose loved ones have been killed by cops and the agency that oversees the Minnesota State Police is the statement that accompanies this tricky rollout:
“We are continually looking for ways to reduce deadly force encounters as these instances can be catastrophic for police officers, and community members ," said DPS Assistant Commissioner Booker Hodges. “By working together with Ms. Castile, who has tirelessly advocated for these since her son was killed in a deadly force encounter with law enforcement, we are hoping these pouches help in some way reduce these instances, even if it's just one."
Appreciate the sentiment, Booker, but these "encounters" always seem to go one way: officer "fears," officer fires. These are routine traffic stops that ended with the killing of someone by police officers -- killings that were done in response to movements made by drivers and passengers attempting to comply with officers' requests and orders. This statement attempts to spread the blame around, as though deadly force is inherent to the "encounter," rather than deployed by officers who seem to believe anytime someone moves while sitting in a vehicle, it's to retrieve a weapon.

It's a well-meaning effort but it's undercut by the agency that's performing it -- one that has already exonerated officers by referring to the killing of drivers by cops as "deadly force encounters," robbing the dead of their agency and understating the severity of officers' actions and overreactions.

Despite those drawbacks, it's a huge step forward for any government agency to hand something like this out. The DPS's decision to buy these and hand them out is an implicit admission it knows there's something wrong with policing in the state, if not the nation. If it is willing to give drivers something that might prevent "even just one" senseless killing, it is making it clear police officers cannot be trusted to remain calm (and nonviolent) during traffic stops without the assistance of those they're interacting with.

Sure, in a perfect world, the government would already be on top of this, firing bad cops, engaging in more prosecutions of violent cops, refusing to indemnify officers being sued over rights violations, and stocking agencies with employees who understand and respect the fact their real employers are the people they serve. But if this was a perfect world, no one would have come up with this idea. So, you do the best with what you have and keep pushing to make it better.
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Southwest Eastnorthernton
Last year, in the wake of George Floyd’s grisly murder at the hands of Derek Chauvin, Senator Tim Scott was filled with idealistic passion on the need for police reform. Scott, a Republican, had a pragmatic idea. Police departments would have to follow basic federal standards on some practices, like banning choke holds and no-knock warrants, or else they would lose federal funding.

Here is how Scott described his policy, in a PBS interview in June 2020:
Judy Woodruff: Well, Senator, as you know, Democrats are calling for an outright ban on certain measures, like a choke hold or the so-called no-knock warrant.

Sen. Tim Scott: Yes.

Judy Woodruff: In your proposal, you are saying these things should be tied to federal funding, that, if departments go ahead with them, they risk losing funding.

Sen. Tim Scott: Yes.

Judy Woodruff: And yet you also said today that this is something that should be debated, the choke hold should be debated, for the American people to hear.

So, it sounds like you’re open to a complete ban on a choke hold. Is that right?

Sen. Tim Scott: Well, I would say — say it this way. My legislation gets us to the position where, if you are in a law enforcement department that does not already have a ban on choke holds, you do not have access to the federal funding.
Scott was trying to stake out a compromise between the Democratic proposals to ban dangerous practices outright and the right-wing instinct to let police do whatever they want. Using federal funds as a lever, without imposing outright bans, was the middle ground.

Scott’s problem is that police unions don’t accept this middle ground. He has spent the last year negotiating a police-reform bill with Democratic Senator Cory Booker. The Scott plan of conditioning federal funds on those reforms was a centerpiece of the bill. But as the police unions refused to sign on to it, Scott himself backed away from the idea.

Speaking on CBS yesterday, Scott dismissed the notion of tying federal grants to standards as a scheme to “defund the police”:
We said simply this: “I’m not going to participate in reducing funding for the police after we saw major city after major city defund the police.” Many provisions in this bill that he wanted me to agree to limited or reduced funding for the police. That’s a lose-lose proposition …

We have about a billion dollars in grant money that goes to police. When you start saying in order to receive those dollars, you must do A, B, and C, and if you don’t do A, B, and C, you literally lose eligibility for the two major pots of money the Byrne grants and the COP grants. When you tell local law-enforcement agencies that you are ineligible for money, that’s defunding the police, there’s no way to spin that …

What I did not agree to was the cuts that come from noncompliance. When you say once again that in order for you to receive the money for the Byrne grants or the COP grants, you must do the following, and if you don’t do the following, you lose money — that’s more defunding the police. We saw that tried throughout the country.
Defunding the police is a completely different concept than the one Scott came up with and then decided he hates. Defunding the police is a policy based on reducing policing as an end in and of itself. The Scott proposal was to use funding as a lever to prod the police to adopt better and more humane practices. The goal is not to spend less money or to have less police. But since Scott could not sell the cop unions on it, he decided to depict his own idea as defunding the police.

We have seen this story before. Republican comes up with promising centrist idea. Democrats try to negotiate a law based on that idea. Right-wingers decide the idea is extreme. Eventually, Republican ends up calling his own idea dangerous and extreme.
I watched that Face The Nation interview with Scott on Sunday. I saw him make this assertion that tying funding to compliance with reform constituted defunding. It was completely irrational (with no implied correlation between irrational assertions and skin color) even without knowledge of his previous position.
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Southwest Eastnorthernton
A bit more on the remarks referred to above.
Two police associations released a statement expressing disappointment over police reform negotiations ending on Capitol Hill last week after a bipartisan group of lawmakers said it had reached an impasse.

"The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) are disappointed that Senate negotiators could not reach agreement on police reform legislation, and we thank all those Members of Congress who partnered with us in this effort," the joint statement from the IACP and the FOP said.

"Despite some media reports, at no point did any legislative draft propose 'defunding the police,'" the statement added. "It is our joint belief that the provisions under discussion would have strengthened the law enforcement profession and helped improve the state of community police engagement without compromising management and officers’ rights, authorities, and legal protections."

On Sunday, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), who was negotiating reform efforts with Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), claimed that the bill advocated for "defunding the police."

"We said simply this, 'I'm not going to participate in reducing funding for the police after we saw major city after major city defund the police,'" Scott said on CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday of Republican demands.

Meanwhile, Booker said the reform would have allocated "millions of dollars more" to police.

"We want to help officers with mental health issues. We want to collect more data, so we should give more resources," Booker said on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday.

The House has twice passed a sweeping bill named after George Floyd, a Black man who was killed when a white police officer kneeled on his neck, that bans chokeholds, carotid holds and "no-knock" warrants at the federal level; overhauls qualified immunity; and creates a national police misconduct registry.

But the bill has gone nowhere in the Senate, with Republicans opposed to provisions that would limit legal protections for police accused of wrongdoing.

The police associations added in their statement that they would "remain steadfast" in their efforts to "hold ourselves accountable for our actions."
Things aren't looking so great for the Republican senator if the receipts brought by the law enforcement orgs are accurate.

While "defund the police" may be a popular narrative with specific segments of the population, it seems to be little more than a right-wing bogeyman in Congress.
It seems this all came about a while ago, but I'm only just finding out about it so I'm posting here in case it's news to anyone else. But the LA Sheriff's Department has actual gangs made up of their own deputies. Wtf?? Some of their initiations are violence or murder of the public. What timeline or multiverse are we living in?!

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Southwest Eastnorthernton
The attorney for a man found not guilty on all charges of shooting at Minneapolis police officers during the unrest that followed George Floyd's killing last year has released evidence in connection with the incident, including body camera footage that shows he returned fire at police in self-defense before he surrendered and was assaulted by officers while on the ground.

Following a trial in July, a Hennepin County jury acquitted Jaleel K. Stallings, 29, of eight counts, including second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault and second-degree riot regarding the May 30, 2020, incident, five days after Floyd's death.

According to charges, police in an unmarked van patrolling the area of 15th Avenue S. and Lake Street fired 40-millimeter marking rounds — commonly known as rubber bullets — at Stallings, and he returned fire with a handgun before his arrest.

Stallings' acquittal was first reported by the Minnesota Reformer, which was also the first outlet to publish body camera footage of the incident before his attorney, Eric Rice, more extensively released it. The footage shows police riding down the street in a van firing the marking rounds without warning at bystanders or yelling "go home!"

The footage then shows them encounter Stallings, who had a permit to carry a firearm in public, and did so because of the threat of white supremacists in the area, crouched behind his pickup in a parking lot near S. 14th Avenue. At 10:53 p.m. an officer fired a single marking round at Stallings, striking him in the chest. Stallings, who according to his attorney did not realize the unmarked van was full of police officers, returned fire three times as he ducked for cover.

"Once in cover, Mr. Stallings learned that the occupants of the van were law enforcement officers, and Mr. Stallings immediately surrendered," Rice said in a statement. Nearby surveillance footage shows Stallings immediately go to the ground. Officer Justin Stetson and Sgt. Andrew Bittell punched and kicked Stallings, who did not resist, as he said, "Listen, listen, sir!" before he is pulled to a sitting position, bloodied and dazed.

Stallings rejected a plea deal from prosecutors that included a nearly 13-year prison term before he took the case to trial and was acquitted.

Police spokesman officer Garrett Parten said Tuesday that an internal affairs investigation is underway and declined to comment further. Other body camera footage released by Rice from that night includes:

• Footage from Stetson's body camera shows him repeatedly firing marking rounds at protesters before yelling "Gotcha!" while officer Kristopher Dauble laughs and the two fist-bump.

• Footage from officer Michael Osbeck's body camera shows him speaking with Lt. Johnny Mercil, who said "[Expletive] these media," and mockingly said, "Hold on a second, let me check your credentials, make a few phone calls to verify ..."

"They think they can do whatever they want," Osbeck said.

"There's a [expletive] curfew," Mercil said.

While observing a group and debating whether to make an arrest, Mercil said, "This group probably is predominantly white because there's not looting and fires."

Mercil, who oversees MPD's use of force training, was a prosecution witness in the trial of ex-officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murdering Floyd on May 25, 2020.

• Footage from officer Joseph Adams' body camera shows him commenting that it was a "busy night" to Cmdr. Bruce Folkens, who said, "Tonight it was just nice to hear 'We're gonna find some more people instead of chasing people around ... you guys are out hunting people now, it's just a nice change of tempo ...[Expletive] these people."
These ****ers did this despite wearing body cameras because they expected to be protected. History told them they would be and too many still are.

Body camera footage below. Language warning.

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Southwest Eastnorthernton
A fEw BaD aPpLeS
Is that really so hard to believe?

I'd wager the overwhelming majority of LEOs are just working a job, doing the right thing and hoping they don't find themselves in a situation that really tests their training. A smaller subset are likely there to genuinely better their community.

I believe it to be a minority of a minority who are truly bad actors with the greater minority in a position to see that they aren't held accountable for bad acts and possibly ensure that those who try to expose the bad actors are the ones who are punished. The bad actors are the ones who get attention. This isn't a failing of those who bring the bad actors to the public's attention as some are likely to suggest, rather they need to be exposed so that there's an opportunity for a change to the toxic dynamic.
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Southwest Eastnorthernton
Luke Stewart, a 23-year-old Black man, was asleep in his parked car on March 13, 2017, when he was approached by police officers Matthew Rhodes and Louis Catalani. He was parked legally in Euclid, a suburb of Cleveland, and he wasn't posing a danger to anyone.

Catalani knocked on Luke’s window, startling him awake. They did not announce themselves as officers. Luke sat up and started the car. Catalani and Rhodes immediately opened Luke's car doors and reached inside to forcibly remove him. Catalani grabbed Luke’s arm, and he wrapped his arm around Luke’s head and pulled, while Rhodes pushed from the passenger side.

Scared, Luke attempted to drive away, but Rhodes jumped into the passenger seat. Luke looked at Rhodes and asked, “Why are you in my car?”

Rhodes attacked Luke. He punched him, stunned him with a Taser six times, then used the Taser to strike him in the head. Luke never hit back. Moments later, Rhodes shot Luke five times, killing him. Rhodes had been in the car with Luke for only about one minute before he opened fire.

Rhodes had no reason to jump into Luke's car, let alone to use deadly force against him. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals held that a jury could find that Rhodes’ decision to shoot Luke had violated his constitutional rights. However, even acknowledging this, the court dismissed Luke’s civil rights lawsuit. Why? Because of the hotly debated, court-created doctrine of qualified immunity.

Qualified immunity was meant to protect officers from gray areas and unforeseeable changes in the law: Officers can be held liable only for violations of clearly established laws, and they are protected when they had no advance notice that their conduct would be unconstitutional. The question of what is "clearly established" is constantly in flux but has generally been interpreted in a manner that protects police even when they demonstrate a lack of concern for people’s lives and safety. Unless a court has already found that a highly similar fact pattern violated the Constitution, qualified immunity will protect police from lawsuits and trial.

This defies common sense and undermines constitutional rights for all people. Any reasonable, safe and professional police officer should know the Constitution doesn’t permit police to see a person who isn’t committing a crime, open their car doors, jump into the vehicle, beat them and kill them. But Luke’s case was tossed out of federal court because that same situation had not previously been considered in court – so Luke’s constitutional rights in that situation were not clearly established in the eyes of the court.

In practical terms, that means so long as officers continue to violate people’s rights in unique ways, courts will not hold them responsible.

Federal law allows officers to use deadly force when facing an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm. But qualified immunity shields officers from accountability when they act unreasonably and in violation of the Constitution. Qualified immunity is particularly concerning when used to absolve officers who create dangerous situations and then rely on the danger to justify killing people.

Rhodes made the unreasonable, unnecessary and extremely dangerous decision to jump into Luke’s car – and then to remain in that car when he could have left. Luke did not present an emergency or danger to the community, and such drastic action was not necessary.

Rhodes put himself in danger, then he used the danger he created to justify shooting and killing Luke.

Rhodes remains a police officer today. The Euclid Police Department did not discipline him for his actions. And because of qualified immunity, Rhodes has been completely shielded from civil liability under federal law.

For the Stewart family, Luke’s death remains an open wound. Knowing that Rhodes has never been held accountable causes them pain and fear daily.

“It’s disappointing and disheartening that the system allows Matthew Rhodes to be shielded by qualified immunity when it’s clear as day that he murdered Luke out of an act of rage and impulse,” says his sister, Terra Stewart.

Luke Stewart was killed for sleeping while Black. Qualified immunity robbed his family, and community, of accountability.