Chicago Police Seize Home Brew Beer Making Equipment, Beer Bottles, And Caps In Warrantless Raid – 9 Arrested, Handcuffed And Shackled To Bench For 18 Hours – Lawyers Barred From Visiting

May 19, 2012

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS — As dignitaries arrive for the NATO Summit in Chicago, protesters and police are making news for an arrest controversy earlier this week in Bridgeport.

For the first time, as CBS 2’s Pam Zekman reports, one of the nine protesters scooped up by police in a controversial raid says he was mistreated and his civil rights violated.

Darrin Annussek says he walked to Chicago from Philadelphia to participate in Occupy protests, only to be seized by police in a raid on an apartment at 32nd and Morgan.

“For 18 hours, we were handcuffed to a bench and our legs were shackled together,” he said. “Some of our cries for the bathroom were either ignored or met with silence.”

Annusek was released Friday morning along with four others reportedly suspected of preparing molotov cocktails. At least one other detainee was released several hours later Friday.

Kris Hermes, of the National Lawyers Guild said: “There is absolutely no evidence of molotov cocktails or any other criminal activity going on at this building.”

A tenant who agreed to host the out-of-town protesters says the police did seize his home-brew making equipment, including buckets, beer bottles and caps.

“If anybody would like some, I would like to offer them a sip of my beer,” said William Vassilakis.

The National Lawyers Guild says the warrantless raid violated their clients’ civil rights.

“It is outrageous behavior on the part of the City of Chicago,” said Sarah Gelsomino.

On Friday, Chicago cops returned to the Bridgeport neighborhood. But police officials refuse to comment on the case.

“We’re not going to talk about it. It’s an ongoing investigation,’’ said Police Supt. Garry McCarthy

Zekman asked Annussek if police would be able to latch onto any previous arrests. He told her, “Myself, I have no arrests.”

However, CBS 2 confirmed Annussek was arrested in December in connection with another Occupy event, in Raleigh, N.C.

The National Guild Lawyers say they have not been allowed to talk to others still in police custody.

If they are not charged by 11:30 p.m. Friday they have to be released, the lawyers say.

The detainee released Friday evening, Robert Lamorte, said he had hitch-hiked to Chicago from New York. He said he doesn’t plan on visiting Chicago again.

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New York City Police Continue Warrentless And Without Probable Cause Searches Of Pedestrians – 10 Percent Rise From Same Period 12 Months Ago – 90% Of The Searches Result In No Charges Or Other Action Against Those They Harassed

May 12, 2012

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – New York police conducted more than 200,000 frisk searches in the first three months of this year, a 10 percent increase from the same period last year, even as critics say the practice often is racial profiling.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have long defended the program as one that saves lives and has helped bring violent crime down to historic lows, making New York one of the safest big cities in America.

But the New York Civil Liberties Union and other groups say that black and Latino New Yorkers are stopped with alarming frequency, even though in the great majority of cases they are found to have done nothing wrong.

Last week, the organization released a study that found that in 2011, police performed more stop and frisk searches of young black men than the total number of young black men living in New York.

So far this year, almost all of the stops have involved men, while blacks made up more than half of the stops and a third involved Latinos. About one in ten of those stopped were white and 3 percent of the stops were Asian.

Police spokesman Paul Browne said the demographic breakdown corresponded to crime data. The department provided the data to the New York City Council on Friday and to reporters on Saturday.

Nine in ten stops resulted in no further police action. An arrest was made in five percent of the stops, and a summons was issued in another five percent of cases, down slightly from 2011, police said.

There was a 31 percent jump in the number of illegal firearms confiscated from suspicious individuals, compared to the same period last year.

There were 129 murders through Friday in New York this year, representing a drop of more than more than 20 percent compared to a year ago, police said.

According to Kelly, the fact that crime is down as stop-and-frisk incidents are up is no coincidence.

“If history is a guide, the vast majority of those lives saved were young men of color. Last year 96 percent of all shooting victims in New York were black or Hispanic, as were over 90 percent of murder victims,” Kelly said.

The highest number of murders was recorded in 1990, when there were more than 2,200 homicides. Since 2002 there have not been more than 600 murders in a single year. That is the year Bloomberg took office and named Kelly the head of the city’s police force.

But the stop and frisk program has vocal critics.

“This program is not an effective crime-fighting tool,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU. “And yet it takes a monumental toll on the freedom and dignity of hundreds of thousands of innocent New Yorkers of color every year.”

Some say the stop-and-frisk program is alienating the support of minority communities and undermining community-based policing.

“We cannot continue to stop, question and frisk nearly 700,000 New Yorkers in this way without doing harm to the relationship between police officers and the people they are protecting, particularly in communities of color,” said New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Quinn, a likely candidate for mayor in 2013, released a statement in response to the data, calling for “significant reform,” including better monitoring, supervision and accountability.

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Los Angeles California Police Under Investigation After Crazed Cops Search Section 8 Homes Without Warrants, Seeking To Identify Motorists Who Live In Section 8 Housing

August 19, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is being investigated for alleged “systemic” civil rights violations during routine traffic stops by trying to identify people who live in publicly subsidized housing, federal officials said Friday.

The U.S. Justice Department is conducting a civil investigation into the alleged discriminatory policing by the sheriff’s deputies in the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale, both in the Mojave Desert’s Antelope Valley, federal officials said.

Deputies from sheriff stations in those two communities also allegedly conducted warrantless searches of African-American families’ homes under the auspices of a housing authority compliance inspection, and housing authority investigators based at the two stations allegedly accompanied deputies during the compliance checks, federal officials said.

Sometimes, the deputies allegedly approached the home of a recipient of what is known as Section 8 subsidies “with guns drawn and in full SWAT armor,” conducted searches and asked questions unrelated to housing programs, Justice Department officials said.

The Justice Department inquiry will focus on whether the two sheriff stations “engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination on the basis of race or national origin,” federal officials said.

“In interviews with affected individuals and community representatives, we heard troubling accounts of allegedly unjustified stops and searches,” Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez said in a statement.

“We will be investigating whether there is a pattern of racially motivated stops and arrests,” Perez said. “We intend to peel the onion to its core, and gain a precise understanding of what is happening in these two areas.”

Sheriff Leroy D. Baca appeared at the news conference Friday with Perez in downtown Los Angeles and said his department is cooperating with the investigation.

“We are not going to enforce the laws on the backs of the poor who are in effect obeying the law,” the sheriff said.

The Antelope Valley has experienced explosive population growth over the past two decades, and African-Americans and Latinos now make up almost 60 percent of Lancaster and almost 70 percent of Palmdale, Perez said.

Justice Department officials will also look at whether leaders in the two communities “adopted a policy or practice designed to drive certain residents out of the community,” Perez said.

The cities of Lancaster and Palmdale don’t have their own police forces, and they contract with the sheriff, Perez said. Federal authorities will investigate allegations of deputies working alongside city officials, Perez said.

Palmdale City Hall was closed Friday, and officials there and in the city of Lancaster couldn’t be reached immediately for comment.

The sheriff stations in those communities show disproportionately high rates of misdemeanor and obstruction arrests in comparison with other stations, federal officials said. Also, the two cities have “unusually high rates of misdemeanor arrests and particularly high rates of arrests of African-Americans,” Perez said.

The federal inquiry is being carried out under a police reform provision enacted in the wake of the Los Angeles police beating of Rodney King in 1991, and the Justice Department now has the authority to investigate “patterns or practices of the deprivation of constitutional rights or violations of federal law,” Perez said.

In a recent e-mailed letter to the sheriff, Perez wrote that the Justice Department will conduct its inquiry in conjunction with another ongoing investigation begun in June into allegations that the cities of Palmdale and Lancaster violated the Fair Housing Act.

The Los Angeles County Housing Authority is also being investigated for an alleged “systematic effort to discriminate against African-Americans and Latinos,” federal officials said.

“We’ve been working with (Justice Department investigators) cooperatively since we were notified on June 16,” said Emilio Salas, deputy executive director of the Los Angeles County Housing Authority.

His agency looks forward to the inquiry and any recommendations that the Justice Department may come up with, he said.

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