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Category Archives: Arrested For Standing Up For Your Rights

FOUR YEARS IN PRISON For ‘Annoying’ a Cop? Here’s Why This POLICE STATE Law Is NOTHING NEW!

The New York State Senate has voted that it should be a felony to “annoy” police officers. The New York State Senate passed a bill this week that “creates the crime of aggravated harassment of a police or peace officer. The bill (S.2402), sponsored by Senator Joe Griffo (R-C-I, Rome) would make it a felony to harass, annoy, or threaten a police officer while on duty.

“Police officers who risk their lives every day in our cities and on our highways deserve every possible protection, and those who treat them with disrespect, harass them and create situations that can lead to injuries deserve to pay a price for their actions.”

The bill establishes this crime as a Class E Felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.

“At a time when shocking incidents of disrespect and outright confrontation are at an all-time high, the men and women who patrol the streets of our cities deserve every possible protection we can offer them,” Senator Griffo stated. “My bill would make it a crime to take any type of physical action to try to intimidate a police officer. This is a necessary action because we can see from the rise in incidents that too many people in our society have lost the respect they need to have for a police officer. We need to make it very clear that when a police officer is performing his duty, every citizen needs to comply and that refusal to comply carries a penalty.”

Utica New York Police Department Chief Mark Williams said he is “grateful” to see this bill pass through the Senate. Williams explains that, “Our police officers have a very dangerous job” he explained, adding that they “need the support of our government leaders to help make them safe.”

He adds, “All too often persons are physically challenging police officers in the line of duty. Currently in those instances where an officer is physically attack [sic] (short of sustaining a physical injury) the lawful charge is only a violation. The consequences are way too low for the offender and it sends the wrong message to the public.”

The message, apparently, should be that beating your wife is a lesser offense than “annoying” a cop.

“Citizens do not have the legal right to physically challenge the authority of an officer lawfully performing their duties,” Williams added. What he did not explain, however, is how prosecuting “annoyance” is now equal to prosecuting “physical threats.”

“Threats, intimidation and physical force used upon our police officers not only erode respect for our criminal justice system, but also endanger the public as well.”

This is a classic false equivalency fallacious argument. But the police aren’t asking our opinion of the bill; they are telling us the way that it’s going to be.

Here’s how the legislation reads, according to the New York state legislature web site:

Screen-Shot-2013-06-06-at-11.46.07-AM-e1370533665789

To further complicate this issue, it is illegal for firearms to be purchased by felons. As “annoying” a cop would be a felony under this law, it may well become controversial among gun owners as well. The bill, if passed, would allow police to strip people of the right to own a weapon based on whether or not they “annoy” them.

But beyond this issue is the fact that this law would only formalize what has been the policy of so many police officers all along. We have seen Police CHOKE an African American CHILD holding a puppy for simply giving them ‘Dehumanizing Stares’. For many, if the police want to arrest you, they simply charge you with “disorderly conduct” for taking a tone they do not like. The onus is on the accused to prove their innocence and such charges are typically raised against those least able to afford a descent attorney to argue their case.

This bill would bring such practices of rogue elements of law enforcement out of the shadows. It would mainstream such discrimination and normalize police state abuses. When coupled with New York City’s existing “Stop and Frisk” policies, this bill has many asking just how much more totalitarian things can get?

 

NYPD cuffs on-duty postal worker in Brooklyn for yelling after police car nearly hit his truck, B’klyn Boro President furious — WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE

Top NYPD brass should deliver a strong rebuke to four officers and a lieutenant who cuffed an on-duty postal worker last week because he shouted at them, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said Tuesday.

Glenn Grays, 27, of East New York, says he was driving along President St. in Crown Heights on March 17 when an unmarked police car nearly hit his mail truck.

Frustrated, the postal worker shouted something out of his window at the unmarked police car — which promptly stopped, backed up and disgorged four plainclothes cops and a lieutenant.

From that point on, Grays’ run-in with the plainclothes police was captured on cellphone video by bystanders, who can be heard repeatedly asking the officers why the mailman was stopped.

The postal worker was carrying a large brown cardboard box when police approached him.

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“It is not a crime for someone to voice outrage after almost being struck by a vehicle … It is not a crime to state that you’re angry at someone who almost hit you. That is not a crime,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams stressed.

The video shows the cops asking him for identification, and Grays answers that it’s in his mail truck.

The cops then pull him away from the door — and the postal worker doesn’t resist.

He was cuffed and put in the back of the unmarked vehicle, which then drove away — leaving the postal van unattended.

“They place handcuffs on an on-duty postal employee delivering the U.S. mail. If they would do that to him in his postal uniform, they would do it to any person of color in that community,” Adams said Tuesday at a press conference, where he played the video.

Adams said the postal worker was brought to the 71st Precinct Stationhouse and issued a summons.

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Glenn Grays, 27, of East New York, says he was driving along President St. in Crown Heights on March 17 when an unmarked police car nearly hit his mail truck.

“They issued him a summons in hopes of sweeping this under the rug,” said Adams, who wants Internal Affairs to investigate the four cops and the lieutenant.

“It is not a crime for someone to voice outrage after almost being struck by a vehicle … It is not a crime to state that you’re angry at someone who almost hit you. That is not a crime,” he stressed.

Adams said the postal worker had never had any run-ins with the law before and had a clean record.

“He is traumatized,” Adams said.

The NYPD on Tuesday said the incident was under review.

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Todd Maisel/New York Daily News

Adams also noted the NYPD could be in trouble for leaving the mail truck unattended.

Grays’ mother, Sonya Sapp, from Fort Greene, told reporters she started to cry when she saw her son — one of six — getting cuffed in the video.

“ I worry about all my boys, every day, every second of every day,” she said. “I’m just sorry that it happened and I don’t want it to happen to anyone Else’s son.”

Adams also noted the NYPD could be in trouble for leaving the mail truck unattended.

“I believe there were federal violations. Number one, leaving that truck unsecured. Number, two, interrupting the delivery of mail. There are clear NYPD procedures when you are arresting a federal employee,” he said. “We don’t know if even those basic procedures were followed.”

Dad Arrested for Taking 15 year olds Daughter’s Phone as Punishment for inappropriate textes.

When Ronald Jackson found a text he thought was rude and inappropriate on his then-12-year-old daughter’s phone in September 2013, he took the cell away. But the child’s mother, Michelle Steppe, balked at his action — and she called the police.

Steppe and Jackson have not been a couple for years, and Steppe is now married to a Grand Prairie, Texas, police officer. When the police showed up at Jackson’s door later that day and asked for the iPhone 4 back, Jackson refused. “At that point I decided the police don’t interfere with my ability to parent my daughter,” he told KHOU 11 News on Wednesday.

The cellphone in question. (Photo: KHOU)

But Steppe insisted that the phone belonged to her, and three months after Jackson refused to return it, he got a citation in the mail for theft of property. He was offered a plea deal in January 2014 if he would return the phone. Instead, Jackson hired an attorney and requested a jury trial.

The case moved to Dallas County and, unbeknownst to Jackson, a warrant was issued for his arrest. The police showed up at his door around 2 a.m. in April 2015, and Jackson was handcuffed and taken to jail.

“It made no sense to me for them to show up and make a big deal out of something that was a small thing,” Jackson said. “I couldn’t believe they would go to this extent for a cellphone. It didn’t seem right.” He posted $1,500 bail and was released after a night in jail.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Cameron Gray, Jackson’s defense attorney, told KHOU Wednesday. “You would think we were on the Jerry Springer Show.”

After just a two-day trial — in which Jackson’s daughter, now 15, testified — Dallas County Criminal Court Judge Lisa Green ordered the jury to find Jackson not guilty, citing insufficient evidence to prove a theft charge. Steppe disagrees with the verdict. “Even if you purchase something with your own money and have a receipt, it’s not yours,” she said. “Someone can take it from you.”

Although Jackson won the case and is allowed to keep the phone, he said he has had to separate himself from Steppe and his daughter because of this incident. “I can’t ever have a relationship with them again,” he said.

On KHOU’s Facebook page, most commenters have been supportive of Jackson’s disciplinary action. One person wrote, “Good job dad. Inappropriate text are definitely a reason to lose the phone.” Another lamented the big-picture consequences: “The poor girl just lost her relationship with her dad because her mom was being petty.”

Still another commenter wished both parents had acted differently, posting, “In my eyes both of them have growing up to do,” and suggesting that Jackson’s punishment hold for his home but not the mother’s. “It’s called co-parenting for a reason people!”

Top photo: Ronald Jackson and his attorney, Cameron Gray. (KHOU)

Man’s Peaceful Facebook Post About Corrupt Cops Leads to Felony Charges, Endless Persecution

Boise, ID – A mistrial was called in the case of police accountability activist Matthew Townsend, who faces a potential five-year prison sentence for writing a Facebook post critical of a Meridian, Idaho police officer who arrested him without justification. His new trial, which is scheduled for three days, will begin on February 29.

Trial Judge Lynn Norton prompted Assistant Ada County Prosecutor James Vogt to move for a mistrial during the opening argument of defense counsel Aaron Tribble after Townsend’s attorney mentioned that the original arrest involved an alleged jaywalking violation, and that Townsend is now charged with a felony for complaining about the arrest on Facebook.

As before Vogt stated the reasons for his objection, Norton instantly asked the prosecutor: “Are you going to move for a mistrial?” Tribble pointed out that the charge had been described as a felony, and that the size of the jury – fourteen panelists, evenly divided between male and female – made it clear that the offense being considered was a felony, rather than a misdemeanor. Vogt protested that the instructions to the jury do not permit them to be informed of, or take into account, potential sentencing options, and contended that they likewise “cannot take into account the degree of the offense.”

The Idaho Rules of Criminal Procedure do not address that question. Courtroom spectator A.J. Ellis, who recently served jury duty in neighboring Owyhee County, told The Free Thought Project that “during jury selection we were explicitly told that the case before us dealt with a misdemeanor offense.” Several trial attorneys contacted for comment by The Free Thought Project in multiple states likewise reported that a mistrial on the grounds cited by Vogt at Norton’s prompting struck them as a novelty.

Tribble’s opening argument was interrupted by objections no few than four times before Norton invited Vogt to move for a mistrial. Both the prosecutor and the clearly partisan trial judge (about whose previous behavior more will be said shortly) were visibly unhappy with Tribble’s presentation. He informed the jury that “I don’t think your time is going to be well served” by the trial, because the prosecution cannot prove a key element of the alleged offense. Specifically, that Townsend intended to prevent Corporal Richard Brockbank of the Meridian Police Department from testifying in the preliminary hearing on the misdemeanor charge.

“There are nine elements to this offense,” Tribble pointed out to the jury. “The prosecution’s evidence addresses eight of them.” The ninth – intent – cannot be proven with the available evidence.

During his opening argument, Vogt repeatedly emphasized an artfully crafted and dishonestly cropped version of Townsend’s March 18, 2015 Facebook post:

Tomorrow, I go to pretrial at the Ada County Courthouse to claim that my charge of “resisting or obstructing” a supposed jaywalking investigation after Meridian Police Department – Idaho officer RICHARD BROCKBANK refused to charge me after I demanded that he charge me for the “crime” that he supposedly stopped me for, is terroristic in nature and in other ways unconstitutional and criminal.
The cop refused to charge me for said “crime” that he was accusing me of and so I walked away… and was soon after kidnapped and hauled away by several costumed State goons for my disrespect of officer Brockbank’s harassment towards me.
I’m hoping that the REAL reason I was harassed to begin with will be released by the State rather than I… we shall see. If my case isn’t dismissed tomorrow upon my request, I will begin a non-violent and legal shame campaign that will be remembered. HOA “upsets”, protests in the aggressors neighborhoods (I know where you all live- this is notification of knowledge and future protests, not a threat), mailers, door hangers, online ads, local and (hopefully) national media- I’ve done it before and I can do it again as well as other peaceful, but… annoying avenues will commence.
The State has 3 options: drop the charges and leave me alone; 2) Endure my non-violent retaliation (do you want to be the focus of my rage?); 3) Kill me and deal with those that know, love, and care about me. Make your choice.” (Emphasis added.)

That message was “tagged” to the Meridian Police Department, every media outlet in Boise, and – since Townsend didn’t know how to contact Corporal Brockbank directly – everyone with the surname “Brockbank” on Facebook.

Studiously avoiding Townsend’s explicit repudiation of violence or unlawful action, and the fact that this statement was directed not merely at Brockbank but the media, Vogt pretended that this was a direct threat to Officer Brockbank and his family. He did this by repeating, as if in a mantra: “I know where you all live … leave me alone or be the focus of my rage … kill me.”

“As it happened, Corporal Brockbank was out of state when the post was made,” Vogt observed, pandering to the jury’s patriotic impulses by saying that the officer was attending his son’s graduation from a military academy. He was far from his family when “his wife called” to report the “threat” from a “perfect stranger,” the prosecutor melodramatically intoned.

“Mr. Townsend gave Brockbank a choice, and he promised consequences,” Vogt concluded. “And, by the way, `I know where you and your family live.’”

When reduced to print, the rhetorical tactic employed by Vogt is best described as “lying through ellipses” – strategic omission of the most critical facts.

Through this misdirection, Vogt sought to divert the jury’s attention from the fact that the supposed ultimatum was not directed at Brockbank – the only witness against him — but at “the State.” It was “the State” that threatened to punish him, to kill him if he resisted, and that had the power to drop the spurious charges against him. He never in any way attempted to deter Brockbank from testifying freely, fully, and truthfully, and there is no evidence that this was his intent. To the contrary, he clearly expected that if Brockbank testified truthfully the “resisting and obstructing” charge would be dismissed: After all, Townsend expressed the hope that “the REAL reason I was harassed to begin with” would be made clear during the proceedings.

Rather than an attempt to suppress Brockbank’s testimony, or suborn perjury from him, that statement was an admonition that he tell the truth — offered in the confidence that if the officer testified fully and truthfully the charge would be dismissed.

The facially absurd claim that Townsend’s Facebook post constituted a “threat” to anybody has already been adjudicated. During the March 19, 2015 preliminary hearing on the misdemeanor charge, the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office attempted to have Townsend’s bail revoked and demanded that he be taken into custody on the felony “witness intimidation” charge. After hearing exactly the same evidence against Townsend that would be used in his felony trial, District Judge James Cawthon ruled that he saw no “threats related to any type of physical harm, violence, things of that nature, to the officer involved in this case, or his family.”

As defense attorney Tribble summarized to the jury in his January 19 opening statement, at the time of the arrest a year ago, Townsend “was protesting taxes.” Brockbank, according to his incident report, saw Townsend entering a crosswalk before the light changed (which doesn’t constitute “jaywalking”), and sought to “educate” him about pedestrian safety. After Townsend asked if he was being charged, Brockbank didn’t answer, so Townsend simply exercised his legal right to walk away.

“At this point, Brockbank said, OK, I’m going to arrest you for resisting and obstructing,” Tribble recounted. “And now what began as a jaywalking case has become a felony charge….”

It was here that Vogt objected, and after the jury was removed from the courtroom Judge Norton helpfully suggested that he move for a mistrial. This isn’t the first time Norton has acted as a coach for the prosecution.

On January 8, Townsend’s attorney argued a motion to dismiss the case for lack of evidence regarding the key element of the offense – namely, intent to intimidate a witness. Tribble had presented a detailed and compelling memorandum on behalf of the motion, and argued it for roughly ten minutes before Judge Norton.

When his turn came, Vogt consumed twenty seconds in requesting that Norton simply rule against the motion, a request that the trial judge eagerly granted.

At this point, despite the fact that the prosecution didn’t bother to make an argument in opposition to the motion, Judge Norton did so.

“One thing that I would want to note is that Mr. Tribble does seem to argue that there must be direct evidence to support an element,” Norton observed in an entirely gratuitous critique of a motion she had just dismissed. “Evidence can be direct or circumstantial” for intent to intimidate, she insisted, and “the law does not differentiate between direct evidence and circumstantial evidence.”

The only “circumstantial” evidence of “intimidation” would consist of speculation, inference, and imputed motives. As the official who would rule on admissibility, Norton has indicated that she intends to give the prosecution as much latitude as it may need to make a “circumstantial” case for an offense that — by statute and precedent — requires direct evidence in order to sustain a conviction.

“The jury can consider circumstantial evidence, looking at all of the evidence as a whole and not just looking at one particular statement,” Norton declared.

While the prosecution will apparently be permitted to impute “intent” to Townsend on the basis of things he didn’t say, write, or do, Norton insisted that the defendant’s actual words are not definitive evidence of his intent.

“Just because in this particular case there was a note in that particular Facebook post where he referred to – as almost as a caveat referring to `’non-violent’ – that doesn’t mean that that’s binding on a jury to actually decide that’s what his intent was, any more than an assault is remediated just because as the person pulls the gun away from somebody’s head they say `just kidding,’” Norton asserted, reciting an argument that was made by the prosecution during last April’s probable cause hearing, and reiterated during the January 19 jury selection.

The tortured analogy between pointing a gun at a terrified person’s head and writing a nasty note on Facebook offers decisive proof that both the prosecution and Judge Norton know this case is without merit: Under Idaho case law, Townsend could not be convicted of witness intimidation if he had pointed a gun at Brockbank – as long as there was no direct evidence that this was done to prevent him from testifying “freely, fully, and truthfully.”

In 2011, the Idaho Court of Appeals overturned a witness intimidation conviction in which relatives of a man facing a narcotics charge, acting on the suspect’s direct request, invaded the home of a potential witness and held her at gunpoint.

Saying that he was acting on behalf of “Michael” – that is, Michael O’Neill, the jailed defendant – one of the invaders told witness Sarah Phelps, “You’re f***ed; you’re going down,” as he thrust a .45 caliber handgun in her face.

The Appeals Court recognized that because there was no direct evidence that this violent crime was committed for the purpose of “affecting future testimony,” as opposed to “retaliation,” it did not meet every element of the offense called witness intimidation.

Of course, Sarah Phelps was a mere Mundane, rather than a swaggering, armor-clad dispenser of State-sanctioned violence.

A separate Idaho state precedent deals with a supposed threat made by Coeur d’Alene resident John Anderson against  Officer Timothy Neal of the Coeur d’Alene Police Department, who was scheduled to testify against Anderson in a domestic violence case.

According to Officer Neal, Anderson left a voice mail message saying that if the case went to trial, he would “get me on the stand and let people know I’m gay.”

Making that claim in public would apparently injure Officer Neal, so he charged Anderson with felonious intimidation of a witness – thereby making that claim part of the public record. Anderson, who acted as his own defense counsel during his trial, was convicted on charges of misdemeanor battery and felonious witness intimidation.

Sentenced to a year in prison and two years of supervised probation, Anderson appealed his case to the Idaho Supreme Court, which overturned the latter conviction because of improper instructions to the jury. The trial judge erred by failing to explain that the State had to prove every element of the offense, which includes not only an effort to intimidate or harass a witness, but the intention to prevent the witness from “testifying freely, fully and truthfully” in court.

“The jury may have concluded that Anderson did not leave the recorded message for the purpose of preventing Officer Neal from testifying freely, fully, and truthfully, but rather for the purpose of venting his anger or simply to irritate or annoy Officer Neal,” observed the Court. “It is the State that bears the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Anderson possessed the intent at issue….” (Emphasis added.)

As defense counsel Aaron Tribble tried to explain to the jury — before being silenced by a dishonest prosecutor and a clearly biased judge — there is no evidence that Matthew Townsend intended to scare Corporal Brockbank from testifying fully and truthfully. When the trial opens on February 29, the prosecution’s case will have to be built on the claim that Brockbank was terrified of Townsend, irrespective of the defendant’s intent.

During the probable cause hearing in the Townsend case last April, Brockbank strode into the courtroom in full battle array for the purpose of testifying that he is an incontinent coward who had been frightened and intimidated by Townsend’s innocuous Facebook post.

In defense of what passes for his character, there’s no evidence that, in this case at least, Brockbank committed perjury