What if cops were Skittles?

According to Vox, police have killed over 2,000 people since Ferguson. Their map of fatal encounters illustrates the point with red dots.

That made me wonder. What if cops were Skittles?
Continue reading

Boston Marathon bombing investigation reveals security state’s hypocrisy toward photographers (shooters, know your rights)

It’s become a little too common a story:

  1. police thugs beating the hell out of a citizen (who may or may not have done anything)
  2. citizen with camera takes pictures or video of police abuse
  3. police arrest photographer
  4. because apparently it’s illegal to record police brutality

The new trend is to make photographing the police illegal, although they will also arrest you for “obstructing law enforcement” – something you can apparently do from a distance. The Ministry of Homeland Security even wants us to view public displays of photography as potential terrorist activity.

But in Boston last week, the authorities were singing a very different tune, begging citizens to review their stills and video from the site of the Marathon bombings for clues to the identity of the attackers. How convenient. And utterly hypocritical. Carlos Miller over at PhotographyIsNotACrime is dead on the money.

After more than a decade of profiling citizens with cameras as potential terrorists, law enforcement officials are now hoping these same citizens with cameras will help them nab the culprits behind the Boston Marathon terrorist explosions.

Adding to the hypocrisy is that these same authorities will most likely start clamping down on citizens with cameras more than ever once the smoke clears and we once again become a nation of paranoids willing to give up our freedoms in exchange for some type of perceived security.

After all, that is exactly how it played out in the years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks where it became impossible to photograph buildings, trains or airplanes without drawing the suspicion of authorities as potential terrorists.

In fact, the Department of Homeland Security along with the FBI routinely advises that photography in public must be treated as suspicious activity – even after a federal lawsuit forced DHS to acknowledge there is nothing illegal about photographing federal buildings.

CATEGORY: PhotographyI have friends who have been hassled by the police and private security for engaging in perfectly legal activity, and I even had a rent-a-cop try to chase me away from a parking deck once even though it wasn’t the subject of my shooting. Since the authorities are unacquainted with the Constitution and the law, it’s up to us to help them.

So, if you’re a shooter, read this from the ACLU. In fact, print out a copy and stick it in your camera bag. While we’re at it, here’s a nicely constructed one-pager called The Photographer’s Right from Bert Krages, a nationally recognized attorney and photographers’ advocate. If you’re confronted by police or security, be polite, but feel free to assert your basic Constitutional rights.

Thanks to Lisa Wright for pointing me at this story and to Stuart O’Steen for the Photographer’s Right link.

Norwegian Wood: peace and love and senseless murder

By Patrick Vecchio

I have a jukebox in my brain that starts playing as soon as I get out of bed. It plays all day long unless my mind is occupied. Music at the start of the day is not necessarily a good thing, because sometimes I hate the song. This morning, for example, it was a song by Olivia Newton-John. It’s gone, and only now can I mention Ms. Newton-John, having purged the earworm.

Later, while I was driving, my shuffling brain cued up The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood.” I’m not a Beatles fan. Hadn’t heard the song in years. But there it was as I motored along:

I once had a girl
Or should I say, she once had me. Continue reading

The UC-Davis pepper-spraying incident report is out: this is perhaps the worst campus-related clusterfuck since Kent State

You no doubt remember the infamous Lt. Pike and the his pepper-spraying assault on lawfully assembled #Occupy UC-Davis students last year. If not, let’s begin with a brief reminder.

Some of you might read my lead sentence above and think “oh, look, that ‘lawfully assembled’ part is biased. Fucking hippie.” Continue reading

Nota Bene #122: OWStanding

“When I lie on the beach there naked, which I do sometimes, and I feel the wind coming over me and I see the stars up above and I am looking into this very deep, indescribable night, it is something that escapes my vocabulary to describe. Then I think: ‘God, I have no importance. Whatever I do or don’t do, or what anybody does, is not more important than the grains of sand that I am lying on, or the coconut that I am using for my pillow.'” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #117: Wake Up!

“Hollywood is so crooked that Mafia gangsters are entirely outclassed and don’t stand a chance. People in Hollywood are smarter. They have more sophisticated knowledge of money and deals and how to steal legally rather than illegally.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #115: RIP No. 32

“If you’re really pro-life, do me a favor—don’t lock arms and block medical clinics. If you’re so pro-life, lock arms and block cemeteries.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #112: GOOOLLLLLLLL

“Freedom of any kind is the worst for creativity.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #110: WEHT SWK?

“In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and eternity.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #107: Zzzzzzzzzzzzz

“I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #106: [no title due to budget cuts]

“Working for a major studio can be like trying to have sex with a porcupine. It’s one prick against thousands.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #101: Your Pal, Mike S.

“The guys who are shooting films now are technically brilliant, but there’s no content in their films. I marvel at what I see and wish I could have done a shot like that. But shots are secondary for my films, and with some of these films, it’s all about the shots. What’s the point? I’m not sure people know what points to make.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #99: Heed the Peace Gnome

“You just pick up a chord, go twang, and you’ve got music.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #97: toDwI'ma' qoS yItIvqu'!

“To be truly free, and truly to appreciate its freedom, a society must be literate.” Continue reading

Nota Bene #91: No Joke

Well I figured I’d give you all a break Continue reading

Ten years on: the enduring lessons of Columbine

Part one of a series

April 20, 2009: 11:19 am MDT

Ten years ago a co-worker turned to me and said something that I’ll never forget, no matter how long I live: “Hey, Sammy, there’s been a school shooting in Littleton.”

Since that day a great deal has been written and said about Columbine High School and the events of 4.20.99, and like a lot of other people I’ve tried my hardest to make sense of something that seemed (and still seems) inherently senseless. Tried and failed. Now, ten years on, the grief hasn’t fully dissipated here in the city that I have come to call home, and even if we manage to understand the whos, whats, and hows, there’s a part of us that’s doomed to wrestle forever with the whys. Continue reading

Onstage on the street: policing as performance at the DNCC

By Ann Ivins

video and editing  by JS O’Brien

Street theater is a traditional medium of political dissent, but the protesters at the 2008 Democratic National Convention might do well to look to the Denver police for a lesson in clear and effective improvisational performance.

Confronting our inner vigilante (part 2)

Is taking justice into your own hands ever justified?

I Don’t Like the Looks of This

Early one recent morning, I boarded a subway on the 1 line, which runs north and south on the west side of Manhattan, at about 6 a.m. A wiry guy in his mid-twenties a couple of inches shorter than me, who was supported by a crutch, bent over a seated woman wearing ear plugs. “Can you hear me?” he asked. Continue reading

Confronting our inner vigilante

Is taking justice into your own hands ever justified? (Part 1)

If you’re not from New York, the name Bernard Goetz may not ring a bell. The expression “subway vigilante” might though.

In 1984, four young men surrounded Goetz, a geekish electronics repairman, in a New York subway car. They wielded no weapons, but one of them demanded $5.

Goetz, who had been mugged once before, interpreted the exorbitance of the figure, as well as their threatening posture, as the prelude to another mugging. Continue reading

Sean Bell's killers will walk, but should they?

by JS O’Brien

Nearly every morning for the past few weeks, I’ve brewed a strong cup of orange pekoe, sat down at my computer, and googled “Sean Bell” to get the latest information from a weeks-long trial. In case you haven’t heard, Bell is a young man who was gunned down on the morning of his wedding day by New York City cops who fired 50 shots at Bell and his two companions, claiming that one of them had a gun. No gun was found.

Club Kalua

There is a wealth of information on the case here, including a nifty visual recreation complete with comments. If you prefer a more narrative style, you can find it here. But for those who’d rather not read all that, here’s a capsule of the events. Continue reading