POSTED: 21 NOVEMBER 2007 - 7:00am HST

"Unified Command" and excessive force

image above: Pittsburgh police used tasers on protestors at a counter-recruiting protest on8/20/05

by Larry Geller on 18 November in The Disappeared News

What's the chance of Lingle's "Unified Command" using excessive force?
What will happen should there be demonstrations against the Superferry when it finally sails to Kauai or Maui?

Are the harbor police and Coast Guard polishing their equipment in preparation for their assault against the demonstrators? Of course, that's what it will be, because the only way to remove someone from the water in front of a ferry will be to take action against them in some way.

We don't know what kind of weapons or other gear has been ordered up for the harbor police because the Coast Guard has declared the purchase to be secret (See the State Procurement Office website for the procurement request). I wonder if there are Tasers in their arsenal that might be used should there be protests?
Police and other law enforcement across the country are becoming increasingly casual and complacent about using extreme and sometimes deadly force against unarmed and unthreatening citizens.

They have also, for some time, demonstrated that they could care less about free speech and constitutional rights. After all, there are few consequences for police misconduct. Courts in New York dismissed charges against nearly all of the 1,700-1,800 people detained (some just passing by) during the 2004 Republican National Convention. Cops certainly knew that what they were doing was illegal, but they also obviously didn't care. They lied and altered evidence. Police don't usually pay for their actions. Someone gives the orders and they carry them out. Someone gives them Tasers and they use them. It's the civilians who are hurt.

The combination of increased police interaction with peaceful protest and their increasing willingness to use excessive force has revived a Kent State mentality in law enforcement. Triggers are being pulled and capital punishment is being delivered by ordinary beat cops. Some people can survive the torture of having 50,000 volts applied to their bodies, others die.

A man died today in Maryland after being tased. Less than a week ago a man was killed with a Taser in Canada.

Can it happen in Hawaii? You bet. The Superferry issue has polarized people to the extent that some kind of protest is likely, and at the same time, Governor Lingle has chosen to deal with it in military fashion by forming her "Unified Command." This is a recipe for trouble if her intent is to escalate force against unarmed citizens.

Not only are police around the country interfering in peaceful protests and other constitutionally protected activities, but more of them are being equipped with Tasers. With these weapons they can kill without cause. Deaths are predictable and are occurring. Yes, people are being electrocuted by police, not by decisions of any jury.

Will police or the Coast Guard use Tasers in Hawaii?

When police use force, it's increasingly possible that people will be killed, especially if Tasers are involved. Amnesty International notes that:
More than 11,000 US law enforcement agencies (mainly police departments but also prison and jail agencies) are reported to use Tasers or similar devices: dart-firing electro-shock weapons which can also be applied directly to the body in what is known as "drive stun" mode (similar to traditional stun guns). From June 2001 to 30 September 2007, Amnesty International has recorded more than 290 deaths of individuals in the USA and Canada struck by police Tasers. While the organization does not reach conclusions regarding the role of the Taser in each case, it believes the deaths underscore the need for thorough, independent inquiries into their use and effects.
Of the 291 reported deaths, the organization has identified only 25 individuals who were reportedly armed with any sort of weapon when they were electro-shocked; such weapons did not include firearms.

Amnesty International acknowledged in its statement that there may be "stand-off" situations where Tasers in dart-firing mode could effectively be used as an alternative to firearms to save lives. However, the potential to use Tasers in drive-stun mode (where they are used as "pain compliance" tools when individuals are already effectively in custody), and the capacity to inflict multiple and prolonged shocks, renders the weapons inherently open to abuse.

Most readers will be familiar with the September 17 incident at the University of Florida when police forcibly removed a student who was questioning Sen. John Kerry at a Constitution Day forum. After the student was already restrained, the police used a Taser in drive-stun mode. The incident was captured on video so the world was able to see someone blasted with electricity for his act of speaking out. The student was already down on the floor when they zapped him. There clearly was no danger to the police.

I debated whether to include the video here. Parental guidance would be good (no matter how old you are). I decided to include it because this is a serious issue. And if anyone protesting on the Neighbor Islands is tased, this is what they will be experiencing.

On October 14th 2007, Canadian police killed an unresisting man at Vancouver Airport. He died after being tased multiple times. It's all on video. The police at first confiscated the video but legal action broke it loose. And no, you don't have to watch it, but here it is if you would like to witness a police execution unfold:

A UCLA student who was tased when he did not have his student ID with him. It's famous for the police line, "Back up or you'll get tased too" when students afterwards asked police for their badge numbers.

At UCLA, police freely chose to use a potentially deadly weapon when there was no threat to their safety whatsoever. The threat against the students asking for their badge numbers is troubling because it shows that they were willing to use their weapons quite casually. I hope they aren't allowed to take them home, just in case their kids act out or they get into a fight with their wives.

It's not just Tasers, of course. Police have used guns repeatedly in New York City against unarmed African-American men. The latest incident was last week, in which a man holding a hairbrush was pumped full of 20 shots. Also in New York, police showered 51 bullets at a black man leaving a bachelor party who was also no threat to anyone. At least in the latter incident, three officers will face charges.

What's important is to understand that interactions with armed law enforcement can turn deadly very quickly. These days they wield more than wooden batons.
Maybe this post will discourage confrontation. I hope it will lead the Governor or other authority to require that Tasers and similar weapons be left back at the police station if there is a ferry protest.

The Legislature should also debate banning these weapons from use in Hawaii. Capital punishment is illegal here, and Tasers can and do kill.

If I am overreacting, so be it—this post won't hurt anyone.



POSTED: 21 NOVEMBER 2007 - 7:00am HST
Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act

by Mike Shooltz on 20 November 2007

The following info comes from the website where I listened to Amy Goodman's story on this new law this morning. It is a chilling law which is obviously focused on stifling any and all dissent against our government.

And the fact that it passed the House by a vote of 400-6 makes it clear that there is no difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. Dennis Kucinich was one of the 6 dissenting votes. The entire interview is available on the above website today.

May we have the wisdom to know what is right and the courage to do what is right.

"A little-noticed anti-terrorism bill quietly making its through Congress is raising fears of a new affront on activism and constitutional rights. The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act was passed in an overwhelming 400 to six House vote last month. Critics say it could herald a new government crackdown on dissident activity and infiltration of universities under the guise of fighting terrorism.

The bill would establish two government-appointed bodies to study, monitor and propose ways of curbing what it calls homegrown terrorism and extremism in the United States. The first body, a National Commission, would convene for eighteen months. A university-based "Center for Excellence" would follow, bringing together academic specialists to recommend laws and other measures.

Critics say the bill's definition of "extremism" and "terrorism" is too vague and its mandate even more broad. Under a false veil of expertise and independence, the government-appointed commissions could be used as ideological cover to push through harsher laws.

Following last month's approval in the House, the Senate version is expected to go before the Judiciary Committee this week."

see Jessica Lee in www.Independent,org

see also:
Island Breath: ITT Security Attack
Island Breath: The Superferry War
Island Breath: Olympia Washington
11/18 /07
Island Breath: Hawaii Anti-Militarism
Island Breath: HSF, Navy & Govling
Island Breath: Legislature Contact List
Island Breath: HSF Slice & Swath Technology 9/5/07
Island Breath: Maritime Administration & EIS 9/3/07
Island Breath: Support from Oahu's DMZ 8/30/2007
Island Breath: DMZ - Stop the Strykers 7/2/07
Island Breath: Superferry & Military