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Hundreds remain jailed after Occupy LA raid December 2, 2011


December 2, 2011

by legitgov

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Hundreds remain jailed after Occupy LA raid 01 Dec 2011 About 240 people remained in jail Thursday night after an LAPD operation to clear the Occupy L.A. encampment around City Hall in Downtown Los Angeles, police said. On Thursday, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office filed criminal charges against 19 people arrested. Their bail was set between $5,000 and $20,000 depending on the charges, according to the City Attorney’s Office. LAPD’s raid the Occupy L.A. encampment early Wednesday resulted in the arrest of 292 people, primarily for failing to disperse from the area around 1st and Broadway once police declared the gathering an “unlawful assembly.”

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Blagojevich adviser Rezko jailed November 22, 2011

Antoin Rezko (centre) was acquitted of some of the charges against him, such as attempted extortion

Disgraced former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s top fundraiser has been sentenced to 10-and-a-half years in jail for corruption.

Antoin Rezko, a former Chicago real estate developer, used his influence to secure government deals and kickbacks.

The 56-year-old also was a political fundraiser for Barack Obama during his campaigns to be senator for Illinois.

Mr Obama was not accused of wrongdoing, but his political enemies attempted to exploit the issue in 2008’s election.

‘Extensive corruption’

Rezko’s legal team had asked the federal judge to set him free, taking into account the three-and-a-half years of prison time he has already served.

But as she passed sentence, US District Judge Amy St Eve said: “You defrauded the people of Illinois; you engaged in extensive corruption throughout the state of Illinois.”

Syrian-born Rezko was convicted in 2008 of fraud, money laundering and planning millions of dollars in kickbacks for contracts during Blagojevich’s term in office.

Blagojevich was convicted this year on charges that included trying to sell President Obama’s old Senate seat. He is expected to get about 10 years when he is sentenced next month.

Rezko’s sentencing was postponed after he agreed to co-operate with prosecutors, but authorities say he could not provide any useful information.

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Occupy protests: live coverage of latest developments November 8, 2011

5.15pm: That’s it for today, thanks for reading. We’ll be back with more on the Occupy movement tomorrow.

4.47pm: Tweet from @OccupyWallStNYC:


Going LIVE now at #OccupyDOE, where students/teachers/parents meeting 4 a #GeneralAssembly on pub Ed: bambuser.com/channel/occupy… #ows #occupyedu

3.36pm: Is Black Bloc hijacking Occupy Oakland? That’s what CBS News wants to know.


“It could be seen as a battle for the image of the Occupy movement. One demonstrator struggles to put out the flames of a burning barricade as others masked and dressed in black pull him away,” CBS News correspondent John Blackstone says in the report, which shows a number of protesters dressed in black seemingly intent on causing damage.

The report continues:

It wasn’t the only time during a huge Occupy demonstration in Oakland this week that protesters found themselves on opposite sides. When dozens of black clad marchers began attacking a supermarket, others urged them to stop — finally linking arms to protect the store from further destruction.

One demonstrator, Sheik Anderson, distanced most of the protesters from the violence.

“We called the mayor’s office the moment we understood what was going on over there,” said Anderson. “That was an anonymous action, that was nothing to do with Occupy Oakland.

3.14pm: The Occupy Arrests project says there have been 3,350 arrests globally since the Occupy movement began. That’s a lot of arrests.

2.53pm: The 11 mile march from Washington Heights to Zuccotti Park is more than halfway there, and seems to be going strong. On Twitter @endtoendfor99 is documenting the progress – here’s a video they’ve just posted:

1.16pm: An interesting discussion is taking place on reddit over a Veteran’s Today article which claims 100,000 people attended the Occupy Oakland general strike, as opposed to the around 7,000 claimed by some media outlets.

Zennie Abraham writes at Veteran’s Today:

Oakland’s Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan (a capable and politically smart leader in a tough position) got the Occupy Oakland General Strike crowd count massively wrong: it’s not 7,000, but 100,000.

This blogger has been in Oakland since 1974. The largest crowd at Frank Ogama Plaza was for a speech by then-Senator, now President Barack Obama in 2007, and for which was estimated at 18,000. Barack filled the space with people.

The Occupy Oakland General Strike had that many people in the plaza for most of the day, while two huge crowds were outside of it: one marching down Broadway, the other a set of people walking around various parts of downtown Oakland with protest signs.

You can’t take a snapshot of an event like this, because of its time length; you have to think of it as a dynamic. In any population there are births, deaths, in-migration, and out-migration. For the Occupy Oakland General Strike, there were no births, thankfully no deaths, but a lot of in-migration and out-migration.

What was so amazing about the size of the crowd both inside the plaza and just outside of it, then marching to the Port of Oakland, was that it did not decrease in size; it increased. And that was with some people leaving it, and others coming in from BART and from around Oakland via foot or other parts of the Bay by car.

For that to happen all day long and considering the capacity of the plaza and the crowds outside of it points to 100,000 people. I’ve never seen anything like that in the entire history of this city.

He concludes: “The bottom line is all of this Occupy Oakland General Strike business has been misreported. The count is 100,000, not 7,000.”

Most on reddit seem to disagree. Occupy Oakland estimated 30,000 people attended in some form during the strike, although has not gone into detail about how it reached that figure.

To throw in my tuppence/two cents worth, I was in Oakland from 6.30am on Wednesday until 4am on Thursday, and don’t think there was anywhere near 100,000 people.

12.30pm: On Alternet Nick Turse documents his attempts to “get some answers” on the NYPD surveillance tower at Occupy Wall Street.

Turse attempted to speak to police officers in and around the tower, and reports that he was told “the location of the Sky Watch had nothing to do with the protests”.

[Officer Anthony Torres] was adamant that while the surveillance truck at the other end of the block was a response to the occupation of Zuccotti Park, the Sky Watch unit was to keep an eye on the nearby World Trade Center site. Now, the fact that Sky Watch’s four cameras never seemed to point toward “Ground Zero,” but instead the streets right around the park suggested otherwise. So did Sky Watch’s location and a high fence around the construction site, so I pressed him about which cameras were for which surveillance task. “We have cameras for everything,” he responded.

With time, Torres mellowed and glad-handed me for a bit, so I hoped it would rub off on the silent Guzman. I asked him how long they kept him cooped up in that little metal box. He gave me a long stare and stayed stony silent. “That’s not a question we like to give out answers to,” Torres responded in his stead, breaking into laughter and noting that while there’s often someone inside the metal cube, it didn’t much matter because there were always cameras running.

Satisfied with my answers, Torres soon left and Guzman re-entered the Sky Watch. As the metal contraption rose on its hydraulic legs, I took note of exactly which directions its four cameras were facing. As per usual, none were pointing at the World Trade Center site. Instead, the main roof cam swiveled to focus on me. Maybe Guzman did have a sense of humor. Or maybe that was his way of sticking it to me. Who knows what he was thinking behind those blacked-out windows. So I waved to him a few times, circled around to take notes on all the cameras and moved on.

Over the course of the afternoon, I would loop back to Sky Watch to survey its cameras, noticing that a cruiser, with a cop inside, had now taken up a spot next to its base.

Whenever I stopped to take notes on the cameras, which never did point anywhere but at the environs of the park or the sidewalks around the tower — at least when I was near — the cop in the cruiser would take note of me.

11.30pm: An update on Occupy Oakland from the local Oakland Tribune newspaper:

Four days after its largest organized effort to date, the Occupy Oakland camp was quiet Sunday as the weather turned to a bitter chill.

Police said they expect the downtown camp will become less active as the weather gets colder and rainier, potentially driving campers to seek indoor shelter. After warm, sunny weather treated 7,000 protesters at Wednesday’s general strike to an energizing day, Bay Area weather quickly turned wintery, with light rain and temperatures dropping to the mid-40s.

Temperatures are expected to drop again later this week, with rain likely again over the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

While the camp was subdued, protesters continued to use social media to spread their message and rally for their cause.

On Sunday afternoon, an Oakland protester going by the Twitter handle of GonzOakland pointed demonstrators to a video posted on YouTube that appeared to show police shooting a projectile at a man holding a camera.

And a group called Citizens for Legitimate Government said Sunday they hope to promote a nationwide general strike on Nov. 28.

Expecting deep cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security to be included in Congress’ upcoming budget recommendations, the group wrote that “the vast majority will not have the corporate, military and financial oligarchy to thank on Thanksgiving.”

10.46am: Susie Cagle is a graphic journalist based in Oakland who has been covering the Occupy protests there since they began.

She was arrested while reporting from Oakland on Wednesday night/Thursday morning – when police used tear gas for the second time in a little over a week. Here’s her story of what happened after she was detained:

When I told my arresting officer that I was press, I was first told, “We’ll take care of that in a minute.” That next minute turned into 15 hours in two different jails.

First, we were split up by gender for transport a few blocks south to be booked. This took three hours. Upon arrival at North County jail, we were searched by Alameda County sheriffs (“Do you have any weapons of mass destruction?” they asked while grabbing at our breasts) and urine tested for pregnancy. That night bled into day, when all 25 women were transferred to another jail 40 minutes outside Oakland, because no jail in the city is technically equipped to handle female inmates.

Upon transfer to Santa Rita jail, demonstrator Andrea Barrera was denied her prescription antibiotics and threatened with recourse. “Maybe I’ll accidentally lose your paperwork and you’ll be here all week,” Sheriff Fox told her, only one of many times such a threat was made against us “prisoners.” Barrera did not receive her medication until her release.

After transfer, we were subjected to another round of searches, this time more invasive than the last. While standing single file in a hallway with male inmates leering and licking the windows in their cell doors, we were told to hold out our bras and shake our breasts. “Come on, ladies, shimmy,” said one sheriff. “Get into it. Shimmy.”

Journalists have no special protections in Occupy demonstrations, especially journalists representing national media organizations. Local police rules give privilege to local media with locally dispensed “official” press passes, resulting in a local media who are more or less embedded with the government. This system actively discourages prying outside eyes.

10am: Occupy Wall Street protesters are taking part in an “11-mile neighbourhood march” this morning, walking from Washington Heights in north Manhattan to the OWS base of Zuccotti Park.

Demonstrators say the march will “connect New York’s communities with the Occupy Wall Street Movement”. Local elected officials and community leaders will participate in the march as well as OWS protesters, according to the group’s press release:

“Our communities have been devastated by the economic assault on middle class and poor families, even as Wall Street has enjoyed a historic financial bonanza,” said State Senator Adriano Espaillat (Manhattan/Bronx). “We are marching together because we want to stand up for the 99% who have been left behind in this economy and build a stronger society that works for all Americans, not just the select few.”

Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez said: “When we march on Monday, we’re marching for jobs, we’re marching for affordable housing, we’re marching for a millionaire’s tax. On Monday we are marching to let the city know that the 99% in Northern Manhattan are calling for justice.”

Tyler Combelic, a volunteer with Occupy Wall Street said: “We’re proud to stand with our brothers and sisters from diverse communities around New York. We know that communities of color have been especially hard hit by a system that promotes inequality and punishes everyday Americans in favor of Big Banks and the Corporate Elite. We are ready to work together to build a stronger, more equitable America.”

Meanwhile the occupation continues in Oakland, where two Iraq war veterans have been hospitalised following clashes with police. Kayvan Sabehgi, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was admitted to Highland hospital’s intensive care unit on Thursday night. He told the Guardian he was beaten by police batons, resulting in a lacerated spleen.

Follow live updates on the Occupy movement across the US here.

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Police brutality charges sweep across the US October 23, 2011

Officer Michael Daragjati had no idea that the FBI was listening to his phone calls. Otherwise he would probably not have described his arrest and detention of an innocent black New Yorker in the manner he did.

Daragjati boasted to a woman friend that, while on patrol in Staten Island, he had “fried another nigger”. It was “no big deal”, he added. The FBI, which had been investigating another matter, then tried to work out what had happened.

According to court documents released in New York, Daragjati and his partner had randomly stopped and frisked a black man who had become angry and asked for Daragjati’s name and badge number. Daragjati, 32, and with eight years on the force, had no reason to stop the man, and had found nothing illegal. But he arrested him and fabricated an account of him resisting arrest. The man, now referred to in papers only as John Doe because of fears for his safety, spent two nights in jail. He had merely been walking alone through the neighbourhood.

The shocking story has added to a growing sense that there are serious problems of indiscipline and law-breaking in US police forces. Last week the feminist author Naomi Wolf was arrested outside an awards ceremony in Manhattan. She had been advising Occupy Wall Street protesters of their rights to continue demonstrating outside the event. Instead, as she joined the protest, she was carted off to jail in her evening gown. That incident is only the most high-profile of many apparently illegal police actions around the protests. One senior officer, deputy inspector Anthony Bologna, created headlines worldwide when he pepper-sprayed young women behind a police barricade.

A report from the New York Civil Liberties Union recently looked at police use of Taser stun guns in the state, and revealed that in 60% of incidents where they were used, the incident did not meet the recommended criteria for such a weapon. Some cases involved people already handcuffed and 40% involved “at risk” subjects such as children, the elderly or mentally ill. “This disturbing pattern of misuse and abuse endangers lives,” said the NYCLU’s executive director, Donna Lieberman.

In Los Angeles, officers in the sheriff’s department are accused of physically abusing some prison inmates and having sex with others. An internal report, obtained by the Los Angeles Times, revealed allegations that included beating people visiting relatives in jail. In Pittsburgh, there is the case of Jordan Miles, a high-flying high-school student stopped by three plainclothes policemen. Miles, 18 at the time, was walking to his grandmother’s house and had no idea who the men were, as they did not identify themselves. He ran, but the officers caught him and beat him so badly that he ended up in hospital. He is undergoing neurological treatment for memory problems and has had to drop out of college.

Yet it was Miles who was charged with aggravated assault – a case that a judge later threw out. His mother, Terez Miles, said: “We are no strangers to police brutality in the city of Pittsburgh, but what they did was terrible and then they lied about it.”

In Chicago, Jimmel Cannon, 13, was shot eight times by police who claimed that he had a BB gun in his hand. His family said that he had his hands in the air. In Tucson, Arizona, former marine Jose Guerena was killed by a Swat team on a drugs raid. They found nothing illegal, but Guerena was shot 23 times.

The list goes on. Miami is still dealing with the fallout of the fatal shooting of Raymond Herisse. He had been driving a car out of which police claimed gunshots came. However, it took three days before they produced a weapon. They also confiscated and destroyed the phones of people trying to record the incident.

“There is a widespread, continuing pattern of officers ordering people to stop taking photographs or video in public places, and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply,” said Chris Calabrese, of the American Civil Liberties Union. Campaigners say the spread of camera phones is why so many incidents of brutality are appearing.

In another recorded call, Daragjati complained to a friend: “I could throw somebody a beating, they catch me on camera, and I’m fired.” Some activists have taken that to heart. Diop Kamau, a former officer, runs the Florida-based Police Complaint Centre, which investigates allegations of police abuse nationwide. “Police are now facing an onslaught of scrutiny because everyone has a cellphone,” he said.

Kamau said that many police departments still had a culture of secrecy and many officers believed that there was little likelihood of punishment even if caught. “The police fill in the blanks. They say what happened and they will be believed,” he said.

One weakness is that there is no central organisation for the police, and local departments do not release data on complaints or allegations of abuse. “The problem is that there is an absence of research,” said Professor John Liederbach, an expert in American policing at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. As the list of complaints and incidents grows, that might be about to change.

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Knox prosecuting lawyer to appeal October 4, 2011

Italian lawyer Manuela Comodi says the prosecution will appeal against the decision by a Perugia court to acquit Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito of murdering the British student Meredith Kercher.

The American and her former Italian boyfriend have spent almost four years in jail after being arrest over the murder in November 2007

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