Anti-World Cup Protests Countdown To Kick-Off

Riot police fired percussion grenades and teargas at anti-World Cup protesters in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro on Thursday as the countdown to the kick-off was marred by demonstrations in at least 10 Brazilian cities. Just hours before the opening ceremony at the Itaquerão stadium, about 100 protesters started fires and threw rocks at police in an apparent attempt to block a road leading to the venue.

The confrontation led to at least one arrest and five injuries, including a suspected broken arm suffered by a CNN producer who was hit by a teargas canister.

Amnesty International accused the police of using excess force. “The Brazilian authorities must, without delay, investigate why excessive force was used against peaceful protesters, bring those responsible to justice and ensure this does not happen again,” said Atila Roque, director of Amnesty International Brazil.

The “Our Cup is on the Street” protests are targeting the high cost of the stadiums, corruption, police brutality and evictions. Similar demonstrations have been organised via social networks in 100 cities, including several that host World Cup games, such as Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza, Porto Alegre and Recife.

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City Agrees To Largest Occupy Wall Street Settlement Ever

During Occupy Wall Street’s heyday in 2011 and 2012, the NYPD made them pay, again and again and again, for exercising their right to assembly and free speech. Nearly three years later, New York City taxpayers are still paying for the NYPD’s approach to policing lawful protest. Today, lawyers announced the largest settlement with New York City yet, with the city paying out $583,024 to 14 protesters who were arrested for disorderly conduct on January 1st of 2012.

Sources familiar with today’s settlement said that that the case was ready to go to trial before Judge Shira Scheindlin until a few months ago, when, while being deposed for the trial, a senior NYPD official who was present during the arrests was unable to point out in videos of the event a single moment when any of the defendants committed any act of disorderly conduct.

According to the protesters’ complaint, the demonstrators were part of a march passing through the East Village that night when police ordered them to disperse.

“This was a constitutionally unlawful order,” said Wylie Stecklow, a lawyer for the protesters, at a press conference at City Hall today. “The march was not yet blocking the sidewalk, and just minutes before this unlawful dispersal order, the police had ordered the marchers to keep walking.”

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War Gear Flows To Police Departments

NEENAH, Wis. — Inside the municipal garage of this small lakefront city, parked next to the hefty orange snowplow, sits an even larger truck, this one painted in desert khaki. Weighing 30 tons and built to withstand land mines, the armored combat vehicle is one of hundreds showing up across the country, in police departments big and small.

The 9-foot-tall armored truck was intended for an overseas battlefield. But as President Obama ushers in the end of what he called America’s “long season of war,” the former tools of combat — M-16 rifles, grenade launchers, silencers and more — are ending up in local police departments, often with little public notice.

During the Obama administration, according to Pentagon data, police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.

The equipment has been added to the armories of police departments that already look and act like military units. Police SWAT teams are now deployed tens of thousands of times each year, increasingly for routine jobs. Masked, heavily armed police officers in Louisiana raided a nightclub in 2006 as part of a liquor inspection. In Florida in 2010, officers in SWAT gear and with guns drawn carried out raids on barbershops that mostly led only to charges of “barbering without a license.”

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Brazil Readies ‘RoboCop’ Riot Squads For World Cup

As Brazilians opposed to outrageous sums of public money spent on preparations for the upcoming World Cup protest with marches and strikes, the nation’s government and its police forces are boasting that they have planned for all contingencies ahead of the games, including plans to clamp down on dissent and disruption by establishing “security zones” and deploying armies of riot police in uniforms described as something out of a sci-fi movie.

In San Paulo on Wednesday, an estimated ten thousand people marched on the Arena Corinthians Stadium, where the international soccer tournament will begin next week, as they called for better treatment for the city’s homeless people as well as increased funding for public transportation, health services, and low-income housing. Anti-World Cup demonstrators take part in the so-called “World Cup without the people, I’m in the street again” protest in Sao Paulo, Brazil on June 4, 2014. (AFP Photo/Nelson Almeida)Watch:

In addition, as of Thursday, the union of metro workers in San Paulo announced it was going on strike to protest low wages. A famously congested city to begin with, a worker’s strike during the World Cup—as international tourists pour in—would wreak havoc.

And last week in the capital city of Brasilia, indigenous protesters clashed with riot police on horseback as they voiced their anger at the dissonance between money spent on the games and the lack of resources available to the nation’s consistently neglected and disregarded populations.

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Boston: Police Spies Tracked Occupy JP, Whole Foods Protests

A controversial Boston Police spy agency tracked the local Occupy JP events, Whole Foods Market protests, and a vigil for the suicidal son of acclaimed marathon bombing hero Carlos Arredondo, recently released secret documents reveal.

The Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC) documents, dating to 2011, put a new context on the Boston Police’s unprecedented, widely criticized arrest of peaceful Whole Foods protestors that year. And they show a spy agency obsessed with anything it thought related to the Occupy Boston movement—even citing a benefit concert at JP’s Midway Café down to the ticket prices.

JP resident Robin Jacks, one of the activists who organized the 2011 Occupy Boston camp, appears repeatedly in the files. In an email to the Gazette today, she blasted BRIC as distracted and creepy.

“Why were we BRIC’s targets? What is the point of any of this? How did this monitoring help the city? BRIC’s silence on this speaks volumes,” Jacks said.

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NYC’s Top Cop Defends Racist Policing At Israeli Conference

On 13 May, New York Police Department commissioner Bill Bratton delivered the keynote address at Israel’s first ever National Conference on Personal Security in Jersusalem.

Accompanied by NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence John Miller (formerly a CBS senior news correspondent), Bratton also met with Yohanan Danino, the Inspector General of the Israeli police, and Yoram Cohen, director of Israel’s notorious Shin Bet secret police.

In his 30-minute speech, which can be viewed in the above video, Bratton offered a uniquely revisionist history of American policing and proposed a dystopian vision for a future in which Israel is held up as a model for law enforcement worldwide.
“World’s strongest democracies”

“We are fortunate in the United States and Israel to live in the world’s two strongest democracies,” declared Bratton, kicking off his speech with the mythology and pandering we’ve come to expect from US officials visiting Israel.

Bratton went on to offer an odd interpretation of how a democracy functions.

“In a democracy,” he said, “the first obligation of government is public safety.”

This may come as a surprise to those who were under the impression that the government’s most essential role in a democracy is to ensure the civil and human rights of the people it represents.

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NYPD Inspector General Facing Call To Investigate Spying

Philip Eure, the NYPD’s new Inspector General, begins his job today with a complaint against the department’s practice of spying on political organizations.

The AP revealed what many had known for decades: NYPD operatives attend meetings of groups like the Jena Coalition, the International Solidarity Movement Chapter, and Occupy Wall Street. A police memo obtained by the AP [PDF] showed that a spy even traveled to New Orleans in 2008 to sit in on meetings for a variety of social justice groups.

Some of the groups mentioned in the report are responsible for today’s complaint. “We need tangible, concrete proposals of how we can ensure the NYPD does not target an entire group, set of groups, or political activists in general based on their participation in political advocacy,” the complaint states.

Technically, those guidelines already exist: the NYPD is supposed to abide by the Handschu Decree, which since 1986 has stated that police may not spy on political groups when there is no “reasonable indication” of unlawful activity. Evidence can be collected on groups where there is no evidence of criminal activity, but only if the City gets the approval of a three-member oversight board.

After 9/11, a judge allowed the NYPD to bypass that panel and significantly loosened the “reasonable indication” rule, allowing police to spy but only note conversations that concern possible criminal activity. But it appears that the department has even ignored this guideline: the memo detailing the actions of the political groups obtained by the AP has details of innocuous plans for demonstrations, not illegal activity.

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Distressing Cecily McMillan Update From Court Appearance

Cecily McMillan, a 25 year old Occupy Wall Street activist who last week was sentenced to a 90-day stay at Rikers for assaulting a police officer on St. Patrick’s Day in 2012, had a court appearance today for her Dec. 7th, 2013 arrest where she is being brought on charges that she interfered with a police investigation of two people who jumped a turnstile at the Union Sq. Station.

This misdemeanor case was a lynchpin of ADA Erin Choi’s case against McMillan because she is also being accused of interfering with a police investigation and then having an anxiety attack. McMillan stated in this Dec. 7th case that she was forced by the officer to go to Bellevue Hospital after taking her glasses away (she is practically blind without glasses/contacts) and also had problems breathing due to the tightness of her dress. McMillan also stated that when the officer who brought up her file and saw that she had an open felony case, he stated to her, “ADA Choi is going to have a field day with this”. The police officer stated that she was cursing at them at prevented them from making an arrest. The two people who actually jumped the turnstile were never arrested or processed.

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In Complaint, Activists Seek Audit Of New York Police Surveillance

Several groups plan to file a formal complaint on Tuesday seeking an audit of the New York Police Department’s intelligence gathering operations, after recent revelations that the department had been monitoring political activists, sending undercover officers to their meetings and filing reports on their plans.

The groups said the complaint would be the first over surveillance to be filed with the department’s new office of inspector general; it is likely be a closely watched test for the office, whose duty is to oversee the tactics and the policies of the police.

The City Council, despite opposition from former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, created the office last year after complaints about the overuse of stop-and-frisk tactics and surveillance of Muslim communities.

The complaint being filed on Tuesday follows the release of documents by The Associated Press this spring revealing that undercover police officers had attended meetings of liberal political organizations and kept intelligence files on activists.

Several of the groups mentioned, including Friends of Brad Will, worked together to draft the complaint.

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Florida Couple Fined, Threatened With Jail For Feeding Homeless

A Florida couple who retired from their management jobs to care for the poor vowed Monday to wage a tenacious legal fight days after being fined more than $300 each for violating a local law.

Debbie and Chico Jimenez openly admit committing the act that earned them two citations apiece: feeding more than 100 people who are homeless in Daytona Beach.

Police in Daytona Beach also threatened them with arrest and incarceration, if they offer any more of their home-cooked meals at Manatee Island Park, a gathering the Jimenezes say they’ve hosted every Wednesday for the past year.

“The worst thing is, these are people we have grown to love, they’ve become like family to us, and now we’re not allowed to go down and do that anymore. It’s just heartbreaking. I have cried and cried and cried,” said Debbie Jimenez, 52, a retired auto parts store manager. She and her husband, 60, a retired construction manager, operate New Smyrna Beach-based ministry called “Spreading the Word Without Saying a Word.”

“One of our (homeless) friends said that Wednesday is just not going to be Wednesday anymore,” Debbie Jimenez added. “We were given 10 days to either pay the fine or tell them we’re going to court. We’re going to court. The police don’t like it. But how can we turn our backs on the hungry? We can’t.”

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Police Testing Spy From The Sky Technology

In Compton last year, police began quietly testing a system that allowed them to do something incredible: Watch every car and person in real time as they ebbed and flowed around the city. Every assault, every purse snatched, every car speeding away was on record—all thanks to an Ohio company that monitors cities from the air.

The Center for Investigative Reporting takes a look at a number of emerging surveillance technologies in a new video, but one in particular stands out: A wide-area surveillance system invented by Ross McNutt, a retired Air Force veteran who owns a company called Persistent Surveillance Systems.

McNutt describes his product as “a live version of Google Earth, only with TiVo capabilities,” which is intriguing but vague (and also sounds a lot like the plot of this terrible Denzel movie). More specifically, PSS outfits planes with an array of super high-resolution cameras that allow a pilot to record a 25-square-mile patch of Earth constantly—for up to six hours.

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Protest Against Police Brutality Ends In Arrests

Although many in the public perceive Occupy Denver to be a thing of the past, the organization remains quite busy, staging regular protests that recently were dubbed “reprehensible” by the Denver Post.

More evidence of ongoing activity: This weekend, a downtown march featuring OD and Anonymous resulted in a dust-up with Denver cops that ended with the arrest of six demonstrators and claims of police brutality — the subject of the march in the first place.

Get details and see photos and videos below.

On April 5, the Post published “Shame, Occupy Denver, shame,” an opinion piece by the paper’s Jeremy Meyer that decried ongoing protests by the organization against the city’s urban camping ban, passed in 2012.

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NYPD Arrests Veterans Protesting At Vietnam War Memorial

Three military veterans were arrested at New York City’s Vietnam Memorial after taking part in a protest that activists said was part of an attempted revival of the Occupy movement, a push that began Friday with events planned worldwide.

About 100 protesters at the New York memorial shouted “shame” and “no justice, no peace” as police loaded the three veterans and two other protesters into the back of a van.

Activists said they had planned to read the names of fallen U.S. soldiers at the memorial in lower Manhattan, but police said the park had closed at 10 p.m. so the public was not allowed to be there. The rally was organized by Veterans for Peace (VFP), a nonprofit organization that says it is dedicated to educating the public about the costs of war.

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Judge Allows Occupy Lawsuit Alleging Police Offered Pot

Cops who asked “Occupy” protesters to smoke pot so police could see how they behaved should have known that what they were doing was unconstitutional, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge John Tunheim said a lawsuit brought by two protesters could continue against three named officers and two identified only as John Doe 1 and John Doe 2.

In his ruling Monday, the judge said the part of the suit that involved four other plaintiffs against a host of other law officers and their departments should be dismissed because they hadn’t stated a claim that was specific enough.

The judge left the door open for action on those claims, though, saying the dismissed plaintiffs could add more specific allegations and file an amended complaint.

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