Monday, May 2, 2016

May Days: L.A. Cop Killed Homeless Man

"Los Angeles Joins Debate on Force After Police Killing of Homeless Man" by Ian Lovett New York Times  April 16, 2016

LOS ANGELES — When rioters exploded into the streets here a quarter-century ago, angry that the police officers who had been caught on tape beating Rodney King might escape criminal punishment, this city became a national symbol for police violence run amok.

And now, as the district attorney, Jackie Lacey, considers whether to bring charges against an officer who shot a homeless man last year, the atmosphere in Los Angeles demonstrates the growing pressure that prosecutors now face to move aggressively against officers who kill civilians.

For the first time in his six-year tenure, the police chief, Charlie Beck, has called for the prosecution of an officer in a fatal on-duty shooting. The police commission, which oversees the Los Angeles Police Department, also condemned the shooting as unjustified, and activists have also urged Lacey to indict. “If she does not file charges, especially in light of the chief’s recommendation, she’ll essentially commit political suicide,” Najee Ali, a civil rights activist and community organizer, said of Lacey.

The shooting occurred amid a roiling national debate over police use of deadly force, particularly against minorities, that has led to mass protests in a number of cities. As in many of the other deaths, a video has played a crucial role, raising questions about the officer’s explanation of the shooting.

Criminal charges for on-duty police shootings remain rare, nowhere more so than in Los Angeles, where no officer has been charged with murder or manslaughter for an on-duty shooting for more than 15 years.

From 2005 until the end of 2014, nonfederal law enforcement officers across the country were charged with murder or manslaughter only 47 times, though officers kill around 1,000 people each year, according to Philip M. Stinson, a professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, who has tracked fatal police shootings.

Half of those killed were white.

But activists see evidence that public officials are increasingly sensitive to the national outrage over shootings of unarmed black people.

Except this was black on black.

“I do think people are paying more attention,” Stinson said, though he added that the change was not yet statistically significant because of the small sample size. “No one cared to notice this stuff was going on across the country for a long time. Now the media is paying attention. Prosecutors know they’re being watched and they’re paying attention.”

The union that represents rank-and-file Los Angeles police officers stressed the importance of evaluating each case on its own merit, regardless of the national uproar. 

Why did the name Fuhrman just cross my mind.

Connie Rice, a civil rights lawyer who has been involved with reforms within the Los Angeles Police Department, said Beck’s willingness to push for criminal charges in the case reflects substantial changes that began under the previous chief, William J. Bratton.

“This tells me the culture is moving in the right direction,” Rice said. “I’ve talked to many officers about different shootings, and they’re all upset about them. There’s a willingness to step back and say, ‘Was this reasonable?’ Twenty years ago, they weren’t even upset the person was dead.”

Bratton, now the New York police commissioner, became police chief here in 2002, at a time when the department was reeling from a devastating scandal involving a band of corrupt officers who framed and shot suspects, stole evidence, and even organized a bank robbery, ultimately leading to a federal consent decree. He has been credited with rebuilding relationships with minorities and sharply reducing crime....

You mean the cops were acting like a gang?



"Law-enforcement motorcycle club slipping into outlaw status" by Sadie Gurman Associated Press  February 02, 2016

DENVER — One of the nation’s fastest-growing motorcycle clubs is composed largely of military personnel, police officers, and prison guards. It also embraces the regalia and traditions of outlaw biker gangs — a choice that has provoked deadly clashes with other groups.


The Iron Order club insists it is a law-abiding, charitable brotherhood of family men who just like to ride. But some observers say its members are increasingly becoming entangled in violence with other biker groups, blurring the line between professionals sworn to uphold the law and a biker culture with a long history of criminal activity.

We call them agent provocateurs, and this opens a whole new avenue of thought regarding who is sabotaging legitimate protest as well as creating chaos.

‘‘It’s almost like they are playing dress-up on the weekend and acting out what their perception of an outlaw gang is,’’ said David Devereaux, a spokesman for the National Council of Clubs, which represents hundreds of motorcycle groups. ‘‘They create aggressive situations with other motorcycle clubs in opposition to the culture.’’

Like I have always said, the state is the biggest gang going.

The latest skirmish occurred on Jan. 30, when the Iron Order and the Mongols motorcycle club clashed in a brawl that left a Mongols member dead.

The two groups blame each other for inciting the violence at the Colorado Motorcycle Expo, a gathering of biker groups from across the country. Police are not sure what set off the fight, which left seven other people shot, stabbed, or beaten. More than one person fired a weapon during the melee, including a Colorado Department of Corrections officer who wore patches that clearly identified him as a member of the Iron Order.

No one has been arrested, adding to the frustration of other groups that complain Iron Order members pick fights, then use their law enforcement connections to avoid prosecution.

It’s not uncommon for police officers to join motorcycle clubs. Some groups exist exclusively for police, such as the Blue Knights, which has almost 20,000 members and performs community services year-round. A source of friction is that the Iron Order consists of both law enforcement and other professions, and it adopts emblems more common to well-established gangs, according to observers.

The Iron Order says its members have lawfully defended themselves during confrontations provoked by other groups that feel threatened by the club’s rapid growth and its open disregard for time-honored rules of motorcycle culture.

An Iron Order recruit fatally shot a member of the Black Pistons motorcycle club during a June 2014 fight outside a bar in Jacksonville Beach, Fla. The shooter said members of the other group attacked him and broke his nose.

Cops do it to the tune of 2.1 citizens per day, according to the Washington Post.

A few years earlier, in 2011, an Iron Order member was stabbed by another gang member in South Carolina. And a 2014 melee at a Baltimore strip club involved Iron Order members who were attacked by riders from the Iron Horsemen group who wielded flashlights, hammers, bats and knives.

Maybe these cop gangs could start taking on all the other gangs, 'eh?

Accounts of some of those episodes were contained in a 2014 report from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives describing the involvement of the military in motorcycle gangs. The report described Iron Order as one of the nation’s fastest-growing clubs that continues to expand into territories normally controlled by well-established outlaw gangs despite the violence, the report said. 

Looking to clean up the turf, are they?

The ATF says the club ‘‘infuriated’’ the most notorious motorcycle gangs, such as the Hells Angels and Pagans, by wearing a three-piece patch arrangement with a crescent-shaped bottom patch bearing the name of a state. The bottom ‘‘rocker’’ historically belonged to outlaw gangs, called ‘‘one-percenters.’’

The good one percent.

But Iron Order never sought their permission to use it and took colors already claimed by other clubs, said John C. Whitfield, an Iron Order attorney and a member himself.

You are saying all the violence is over a damn patch? Come on!

The group formed in 2004, seeking the mystique of outlaw gangs without the crime, he said. The founders liked the motorcycle fellowship, which reminded them of the camaraderie of a military unit or a police department.

‘‘We wanted to kind of change the dynamics of the motorcycle world,’’ Whitfield said. A lot of members like the three-piece patch for its ‘‘cool factor,’’ he said. ‘‘There’s a little bit of danger that kicks in, and it kind of makes these weekend warriors feel like they are a little bit dangerous. But we’re not.’’

The group usually goes out of its way to avoid crime, even requiring its members to have concealed-carry weapons permits as a way to vet for convicted felons, said Steve Cook, executive director of the Midwest Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Investigators Association, which offers training for police agencies.


Now we know who was behind that melee in Texas. 

So how many drills are these guys being called out for anyway?


Off-duty Chelsea police officer killed in motorcycle crash, officials say

Motorcyclists ride from Revere to East Boston for veterans