Manuel Diaz with his daughter in undated family photo. (OC Weekly)
On July 27, 2012, 24-year-old Manuel Diaz was shot in the back of the head by Anaheim police officer Nick Bennallack. Officers then stood over Diaz, who was unarmed, for three minutes, watching him twitch and bleed out before doing anything. It was an execution.
Almost two years later, a federal jury has rejected a lawsuit against the officer and the city filed by Diaz’s mother claiming police used excessive force. Why? Because it happened in a neighborhood where there are gangs and Diaz was, according to police, dressed like a “gang member”.
On this week’s episode of Unauthorized Disclosure, Kevin Gosztola and I speak with independent journalist and filmmaker Raven Rakia about the Michael Dunn verdict, Jordan Davis’ defiance of respectability politics, the lack of outrage over police killings, and how structural and implicit racism work together to perpetuate what Raven calls the “presumed guiltiness of black bodies.”
The prosecution’s omission of race from the Dunn trial, explained Raven, “plays to the need for a colorblind society…so people don’t have to take responsibility.”
I encourage you to read Raven’s moving response to the Dunn verdict here. Also, follow her incredible work on twitter at @aintacrow.
In the discussion portion of the show, Kevin and I talk about the nuances missing from US media coverage of the protests in Venezuela and Ukraine, the LAPD’s Israel-inspired love affair with drones, the US Border Patrol killing a Mexican man for allegedly throwing rocks at the officers chasing him, a terrible court decision that absolves the NYPD of wrongdoing for spying on Muslims, and the the disastrous implications for press freedom in the aftermath of the David Miranda case.
The HoverMast-100, an Israeli surveillance drone that the LAPD hopes to add to its arsenal. (Image source: Sky Sapience website)
The Jewish Journal has an incredible write-up on the Los Angeles Police Department’s recent visit to Israel.
For nine days early this month, eight of the LAPD’s highest ranking officers toured Israel on a trip organized by LAPD Deputy Chief and commander of the Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau Michael Downing, and headed by LAPD Information Technology Bureau commander Horace Frank.
While it’s unclear how much the trip cost taxpayers, Frank told the Journal that the trip was financed with “grant funding that was available for us to look at emergency technologies and best practices.”
Since 2001, the US government has doled out tens of billions of dollars in federal grants to local and state police departments in the name of fighting terrorism, so it’s likely that the grant that paid for the LAPD’s Israel trip came from DHS.
Though LAPD officers have visited Israel in the past, this appears to have been the most high-level trip to date. But it wasn’t your typical propaganda tour.
Instead of stopping at the Western Wall or Yad Vesham, officers visited Israel’s private security firms and drone manufacturers, most of them formed by former members of Israel’s top-secret 8200 Unit, which, like the NSA, engages in mass spying and cyber warfare. Read more
In the fourth episode of our podcast (we’re working on a name, I swear), Firedoglake’s Kevin Gosztola and I speak with Chloe Gleichman from the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI CATS) about three Michigan activists who face up to two years behind bars for participating in nonviolent direct action to prevent the construction of an Enbridge Inc. tar sands pipeline.
Last summer, three members of MI CATS—Vicci Hamlin, Barb Carter and Lisa Leggio—locked themselves to excavators at an Enbridge construction site to block the the expansion of a pipeline that ruptured in 2010, flooding the Kalamazoo River with 800,000 gallons of crude oil. On January 31, the three were found guilty of misdemeanor trespassing and resisting and obstructing police, a felony that carries with it a maximum two year prison sentence. Their sentencing hearing is scheduled for March. Until then, they are stuck in prison because the judge denied them bond.
It’s a crime how little attention this story has received. These nonviolent activists are on the front lines of preventing the transport of Canadian tar sands oil, which threatens the health and safety of the entire planet. Their communities are directly impacted by the havoc these pipeline companies and their dirty product wreak. Meanwhile, the system that’s supposed to be protecting them is instead colluding with oil companies to muzzle and imprison their victims. These brave activists need and deserve our support.
I’m not sure when but very soon you will be able to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, where you can download it automatically. But before that can happen, we need to come up with a name. In the spirit of listener-powered media and community engagement, we’d love to hear your ideas for possible names and of course we will credit you and give you many shout outs if we your suggestion is the winner. You can leave your recommendations in the comments section or tweet us at @kgosztola and @raniakhalek. We look forward to hearing from you! Read more
Jordan Baker, a 26-year-old Houston Community College student and father, “took his last breath in a trash-strewn alley behind a Northwest Houston strip center” on Thursday, January 16, all because he was a black man wearing a hoodie.
Houston police officer J Castro, an 11-year veteran who was moonlighting as a security guard for the strip mall that night, was on the lookout for hoodie-wearing armed robbery suspects. Castro says Baker, who was unarmed, matched the description and he shot and killed him as a result.
Andre Fiorentino (Photo courtesy of Andre’s sister, Arden Hunt)
(See update at bottom.)
Andre Fiorentino, 32, says he was unarmed when two Coatesville, Pennsylvania, police officers opened fire on him last month outside his home. He was struck several times and nearly bled out while shackled face down on the ground in front of his mother and 14-year-old son.
Just one day after the incident, the authorities determined that the shooting was justified based on police claims that Fiorentino was armed with two guns and shot at them twice, prompting officers to return fire. Fiorentino has since been charged with attempted murder of two police officers.
But his family isn’t buying it.
Fiorentino’s sister, Arden Hunt, contacted me a few weeks ago about her brother’s case. She pointed to several holes in the police narrative about what took place that night and expressed dismay at the authorities for spending less than 24 hours investigating the incident.
“They justified the shooting within 24 hours without talking to my brother,” Hunt told me. “He couldn’t even speak. He was in an induced coma.” Read more
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced at a news conference earlier today that 54-year-old Theodore Wafer of Dearborn Heights, Michigan, will be charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and felonious use of a firearm for the shooting death of 19-year-old Renisha McBride, a black Detroit woman who is believed to have been seeking help following a car accident.
Wafer insists his shotgun discharged accidentally and that, having mistook McBride for an intruder, he was acting in self-defense.
However, Worthy pointed out that there were no signs of forced entry and that Wafer had opened his front door before firing at McBride through a locked screen door.
“There is no duty to retreat when you’re in your own house, but someone who claims self-defense must have an honest and reasonable belief of imminent death or imminent rape or bodily harm,” Worthy told reports. Based on the evidence, “We do not believe [Wafer] acted in lawful self-defense,” she said. Read more