Many thanks to NAASCA's Terri Lanahan, Butte, Montana,
for her research into the news that appears on
the LACP & NAASCA web sites.
‘Police are a force of terror': the LGBT activists who want cops out of Pride
Queer groups are protesting mainstream festivals and organizing alternative events that recognize ongoing police mistreatment of LGBT people
by Sam Levin
San Francisco -- It took half a century, but this LGBT Pride month, the New York police department (NYPD) finally apologized for the infamous 1969 raid on the Stonewall gay bar.
Some queer New Yorkers had a simple response: apology not accepted.
“It was a symbolic PR stunt,” said Colin P Ashley, a local queer black activist. “The NYPD is still an oppressive force in so many lives.”
Ashley is part of Reclaim Pride, a coalition that wants more than a 50-year-late apology. The group wants police removed from Pride altogether.
Queer and trans activists across the US are engaging in “cops out of Pride” efforts this month, with protests and alternative “cop-free” events that seek to recognize the ongoing police mistreatment of LGBT people. These groups are pushing back against corporate-sponsored parades that embrace police in the name of “inclusion” and “unity” – and return to the radical and riotous roots of the movement.
“Police have often been a force of terror for queer and trans communities,” said Malkia Devich Cyril, a queer activist and leader in the group Movement for Black Lives, who said they won't be attending San Francisco Pride due to the way police and corporations have co-opted it.
“The efforts to remove policing from Pride are really efforts to ensure safety for the communities that are there. It's a protective act. It's an act of resistance,” said Cyril, whose mother was a member of the Black Panthers. “It's an act that attempts to restore some measure of safety to our rights to organize.”
Opposition to law enforcement marching in Pride parades is not new, but has intensified this year as the festivals have adopted themes honoring the anniversary of Stonewall, the LGBT rebellion against police abuses that led to the first Pride march and cemented June as Pride month around the globe.
“The tide is growing around the idea of restricting police involvement in Pride across the country, and across the world,” said Ashley, whose group is organizing a Queer Liberation march on 30 June separate from the city's world-famous parade. Police aren't invited.
Some Pride organizers have argued that the festivals are an opportunity to build bridges between law enforcement and queer communities, that LGBT officers deserve to march, and that the police brutality of 1969 is not today's reality. But in California, New York, Florida and other regions this year, activists are standing up to pro-police LGBT leaders.
‘Police are not standing with us'
“We're not going to ‘build a bridge' with police officers who keep burning them down,” said Alex Andrews, a sex worker activist in Florida, who was upset to learn this week that a police contingent was scheduled to march just a few groups behind her Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) coalition at St Pete Pride on Sunday. “We want to march and we want to be proud participants, but there's going to be this element of fear that is going to be following us.
Sex workers were integral to the original Stonewall riot, and many who work in the underground industry today are queer and trans people who have reported suffering violence, arrests and harassment at the hands of police.
“It's kind of a punch in the gut,” said Kristen Cain, another SWOP organizer in Florida, who is bisexual. Pride is about “family for me”, she said, the holiday she most cherishes every year, but now she is feeling anxiety about police: “They are not standing with us, they are actively fighting against us.”
Some queer groups have organized mass actions in response. In Sacramento, hundreds of demonstrators blocked an entrance to the city's festival, carrying “No Cops at Pride” and “Black Trans Lives Matter” signs. Pride organizers had initially said police would be banned from marching in uniform to honor community members “harmed by police violence”, but reversed course days before the event.
“Police don't protect us,” said Ayotunde Ikuku, who is part of a group called Still Here that organized the protest. “Every other day, we are trying to not be murdered by them.”
Ikuku, a 22-year-old non-binary black activist, said some Pride attendees were uninterested in learning about the protest, and even enraged at the disruption. A group of older white gay men were openly hostile, racist and violent to the protesters, they said: “There was such unwarranted anger misdirected at us.”
Some videos captured physical confrontations, and at least one man mocking a protester for being trans.
“There was just a lot of hate,” said Ikuku, adding that it was clear some gay people were satisfied with marriage equality and uninterested in the continued struggles of other LGBT people: “They could support us, too, and would lose nothing from doing that … Pride is about showing up for our community who is not shown up for, who is not heard.”
Police violations of LGBT Sacramento residents are also not a concern of the past, activists noted. Last year, a black trans woman protesting the police killing of unarmed Stephon Clark was arrested by Sacramento police and thrown in the male section of the county jail.
Independence Taylor, a 21-year-old Still Here activist, said that when he was a homeless teenager on the streets of Sacramento, police would mock and threaten him and the other trans and queer youth, waking them up in the middle of the night.
With police welcomed by festival organizers, he said, “I worried about the security and safety of my friends of color … It makes me feel like any wrong move could be cause for them to walk up to me and harass me.”
Some of the attendees opposing Still Here just wanted to “party” or believed Pride should be about “love and unity”, said Taylor, adding that he wished the event was welcoming to low-income and homeless queer people, who can't afford tickets: “Don't keep people out … Pride to me should be a day of community building and community education.”
While some have argued that police are necessary for public safety purposes at Pride, others have said there are ways for communities to provide their own security. Ikuku cited the work of the Black Panthers as a model for community patrols.
Why gay cops aren't welcome
In San Francisco, home to one of the biggest Pride parades in the country, the police department (SFPD) has given out rainbow “pride patches” for officers to wear this month, and has a “Pride SUV” that will drive in the parade, a spokesperson said, adding that officers and their “families and friends are looking forward to walking in this year's parade”.
SF Pride's theme this year is “generations of resistance”, which some critics have argued is particularly insulting given this embrace of SFPD, which raided a queer hangout spot in 1966, sparking a rebellion against police in a riot that pre-dated Stonewall.
“Kick cops and corporations out of pride” stickers are common around the Bay Area, spread by an activist group called Gay Shame, made up of mostly working-class trans people of color.
Police “exist to kill and torture black and brown people”, the group said in an email to the Guardian. “If you are [celebrating] cops, you are celebrating white supremacy, there is no way around it. A Pride cop car is like a rainbow confederate flag.”
They added: “People say that we just need more trainings and more LGBT cops, but you cant reform a system that is built on racial terror.”
At Pride in Detroit this year, neo-Nazis disrupted the celebrations and police, in effect, provided an armed escort for the white supremacists in an effort, officials said, to prevent violent clashes.
In New York, the police commissioner's belated apology was limited to the event 50 years ago, and did not acknowledge ongoing problems.
“We reject this apology. It's empty,” said Natalie James, a co-founder of Reclaim Pride. “It implies as if the police abuses are a [historical] thing.”
Ashley said the apology did not change his mind that police should be unwelcome at Pride – including the gay ones: “While I understand the struggles of black police in an institution that is racist, and I understand the struggles of gay officers in an institution that is still homophobic, the institution as a whole is still oppressive to these communities.”
One day after the commissioner's apology, Layleen Polanco, a trans woman, died inside New York's notorious Rikers island jail, where she was housed in solitary confinement, and stuck behind bars because she couldn't afford bail for a misdemeanor charge.
“We have made no progress,” said James. “The NYPD as it exists is antithetical to queer liberation."
Policing the Community: The Challenges and Prospects of Community Policing in South Sudan
Community policing or policing the community: The challenges and prospects of community policing in South Sudan
by Akuot Aquila Apiu
Juba, South Sudan -- Community oriented policing is a proactive philosophy that promotes solving problems that are either criminal, affect the quality of life, or increase citizens fear of crime. It involves identifying, analyzing and addressing community problems at their source. Strategies involve in community policing include community partnership, problem solving and change management. However, in South Sudan, we are saddled with major challenges of policing.
These are manpower shortage; inadequate funding, corruption, inadequate logistic support and infrastructure, lack of serviceable information and technological equipment to cover all the areas of the State are responsible for the current state of the police. Therefore, it is recommended that there should be serious retraining towards attitudinal change and professional efficiency and proficiency among both the rank and file and other officer cadre of the police.
Community policing is anchored on a systematic relationship between the police and the entire citizenry. Police roles and functions are not simply law enforcement but also include tackling a huge range of community problems. The transition from traditional policing to community policing is a global phenomenon and the South Sudan police cannot be an exception. Indeed, community policing as a philosophy and practice is a veritable vehicle for police reforms.
The South Sudan police Act 2009 embraced community policing as a pragmatic approach to police reforms. The stage was indeed set for a clear departure from traditional policing, that was reactive and incident based, to a problem – solving oriented policing that is proactive with the community as the cornerstone of policing objectives.
Like several other nations world over, South Sudan police force embraced the philosophy of community policing on the principle that in a democratic society, the police are interested by their fellow citizens to protect and serve the public's fundamental rights to liberty, equality and justice under the law. To fulfil that privileged role, the police must be a part of, not apart from, the communities they serve.
Community policing is a paradigm shift that seeks to focus on constructive engagement with people who are the end users of the police service and re – negotiate the contract between the people and the police thereby making the community co – producers of justice and a quality police service. The most recent attempt made by the South Sudan police force to improve its performance was the introduction of community policing programme in 2009.
This was part of the Force's effort to change policing to a modern and professional policing capable of providing maximum security of lives and property. Community oriented policing is a proactive philosophy that promotes solving problems that are either criminal, affect the quality of life, or increase citizens fear of crime. It involves identifying, analyzing and addressing community problems at their source.
Police are organized to defend and preserve the interests of the dominant groups and classes in society. Consequently, the significance of police as either facilitators or inhibitors of change initiatives will depend on the character of their society. In a totalitarian and economically inequitable society, police role will be more to defend the status quo of political oppression and economic injustice. In contrast, in a democratic society the police are more likely to provide services that will enhance development and democracy.
Strategies for Community Policing
Community policing perspective differs in a number of ways from a traditional policing perspective. In community policing, the police must share power with residents of a community, and critical decisions need to be made at the neighborhood level. Achieving the goals of community policing requires successful implementation of three essential and complimentary components or operational strategies: community partnership, problem solving, and change management.
Community Partnership: Establishing and maintaining mutual trust between citizens of a community and the police is the main goal of the first component of community policing. Police have always recognized the need for cooperation with the community and have encouraged members of the community to come forward with crime-fighting information. The police no longer view community as a passive presence connected to the police by an isolated incident or series of incidents. The community's concerns with crime and disorder become the target of efforts by the police and the community working together.
Problem Solving: Problem solving requires a lot more thought, energy, and action than traditional incidents-based police responses to crime and disorder. In full partnership, the police and a community's residents and business owners identify core problems, propose solutions, and implement a solution. Thus, community members identify the concerns that they feel are most threatening to their safety and well-being. Those areas of concern then become priorities for joint police-community interventions. For this problem-solving process to operate effectively, the police need to devote time and attention to discovering community's concerns, and they need to recognize the validity of those concerns.
Change Management: Forging community policing partnerships and implementing problem-solving strategies necessitates assigning new responsibilities and adopting a flexible style of management. Traditionally, patrol officers have been accorded lower status in police organizations and have been dominated by the agency's command structure. Community policing, in contrast, emphasizes the value of the patrol function and the patrol officer as an individual. It requires the shifting of initiative, decision making, and responsibility downward within the police organization. The officer must become responsible for managing the delivery of police services to the community. Patrol officers are the most familiar with the needs and concern of their communities and are in the best position to forge the close ties with the community that lead to effective solutions to local problems.
Under community policing, police management must guide, rather than dominate (which is not the case now). The actions of the patrol officer must ensure that they have the necessary resources to solve the problems in their communities. Management must determine the guiding principles to convert the philosophy of the agency to community policing and then to evaluate the effectiveness of the strategies implemented.
Challenges to Community Policing in South Sudan
Despite numerous efforts by various police administrations to curtail the level of crime in South Sudan, crime and social disorder still persist in the country. Thousands of lives and millions of pound worth of property are being lost as a result of one crime or the other. Some believed that the inability of the South Sudan police to ensure maximum security in the country is as a result of so many social and technical constraints, among which are lack of equipment and sour relationship between police and public.
Corruption: Wide spread corruption in the police force is fueling abuses against ordinary citizens and severely undermining the rule of law in South Sudan on a daily basis. Countless ordinary citizens are accosted by armed police officers who demand bribes and commit human rights abuses against them as a means of extorting money. These abuses range from ordinary arrest and unlawful detention to threats and acts of violence, including sexual assault, torture, and even extrajudicial killings (Human Rights watch,).
Police is not unique. Corruption exists in South Sudan police force much the same as it does in any other police organization the world over, except perhaps, in terms of its extent and the organization's reaction to it. However, the issue of corruption in the South Sudan police as noted above cannot be treated in isolation of the larger society.
Police routinely extort money from victims of crimes to initiate investigations and demand bribes from suspects to drop investigations. Corruption in the police is so endemic that it has eroded public trust and confidence they have in the police. To achieve any success in combating corruption in the South Sudan police one has to take a holistic approach and most importantly understanding the growth and existence of corruption within the police.
Institutional Constraints: According to allegations levelled against the institution and its personnel, some of which have proven to be true, include arbitrariness in exercising its power, corruption, perversion of justice, and delays in the administration of justice. Various factors have been blamed as constituting a stumbling block to the effective administration of justice and efficient maintenance of law and order in South Sudan.
Other factors are inadequate manpower (both in strength and expertise), insufficient education and training, inadequate equipment, and poor conditions of service of the average policeman. The long-term failure of the authorities to address police bribery, extortion, and wholesale embezzlement threatens the basic rights of all South Sudanese. Therefore, good policy is the bedrock for the rule of law and public safety.
The police is arguably the most visible agent of government and citizens often assess the character of a government through its police force. This is because the police are the “guardians” of society. To a large extent, the growth , action and behavior of the police as an institution not only reflect the political and economic character of society, but also mirror what those in power are willing or able to tolerate or condone or perhaps even demand of the police.
Police Perception: Another important factor that has been neglected for many times is the perception of the police force itself by the police officers. Questions that readily come to mind are: What is police officer's perception of the citizens they claimed to be serving? What is the perception of citizens to police officers in South Sudan? To be frank, the image of police in the eyes of South Sudanese is bad arising from all the factors enumerated above.
Military Orientation: The police as it is now came out of a military administration. That is probably the biggest challenge we face – turning it from a force into a service.
Godfatherism: is an endemic problem in South Sudan, which the police still battle with. Godfatherism is the funding and abetting of vices and shielding “connected” criminals from justice by government agents and highly placed officials entrusted with the power and authority to investigate and prosecute such vices. It has become a dominant issue in African polity and impedes the course of justice in virtually all the countries in Africa.
Furthermore, many highly placed public officers in South Sudan are known to pervert the course of justice by the virtue of their closeness to the seat of power. Often, the police get sucked in, and this accounts for their complicity in several unresolved crimes across the country.
Many of these problem in the South Sudan police force are self – evident and have been sources of serious concern to the public, governments, police authorities and officials, the mass media and human rights organization in the country. What is required is a determination to address the problems.
The knowledge of human rights among the majority of policemen is poor. This might be as a result of the long period of military struggle. Although policemen are taught the principles of the rule of law, in reality this is not put into practice because military rule does not recognize the rule of law. In the new democratic dispensation, policemen should be given intensive on-the-job training on citizens' fundamental rights which they must uphold at all times.
Community Policing and Community Development in South Sudan
As noted above, security is crucial to the community and constitutes one of the important social services provided through community development. In other words, it requires the cooperation of the government and the community. Communities cannot handle matters of security alone it requires the cooperation of the security agents like the police. Conversely, the police cannot ensure security or tackle crime alone, it requires partnering with the community.
Security is very essential to community development because both life and property have to be safeguarded for development to occur. No development, not even community development for that matter can take place where there are no peace, law and order. Security does not only facilitate development, it is one of the features or ingredients of development that is to say that it is co-extensive with development.
Community policing as implemented in South Sudan has not ensured security and safety in South Sudan let alone facilitate community development. Rather than community policing, the South Sudan police has been busy policing the community alienating the people more. Thus, insecurity, crimes and disorder have scared investors away from South Sudan, crippled economic activities and hindered development in the communities. So long as the South Sudan Police Force engages in policing the community instead of partnering with the community in matters of security, safety and development in the communities will continue to elude South Sudan.
The South Sudan police force has not met the minimum demands of democratic policing which cardinal elements are “Justice, equality, accountability, and efficiency” These elements imply the following: Justice means that all individuals ought to be treated fairly and their rights are respected. Equality means, first, that all…ought to received policing service sufficient to feel safe in their community.
Equality also means that there ought to be representative participation from all members of society in the delivery of policing services. i.e. that it requires equal and inclusive security forces. Accountability means that the actions of a body aresubjected and that there are formal channels that individuals can use to lodge a complaint. Finally, efficiency means that services are provided in a cost effective manner.
To enhance community policing in South Sudan, I recommended that:
There should be serious retraining towards attitudinal change and professional efficiency and proficiency among both the rank and file and other officer cadre of the police. There is need for the police to improve its public relationship. They should see South Sudanese as their fellow human beings who deserve to be treated with a high level of courtesy and decorum.
The National Government should as a matter of urgency equip the police with ultra-modern arms and ammunitions as well as security gadgets. This has become necessary now more than ever to enable the force fight the gruesome scourge of armed robbery and orchestrated kidnappings ravaging the entire length and breadth of the country.
South Sudanese should help the police to discharge their duties optimally. They could do this through giving vital information to them on the activities of undesirable elements in the society. Such invaluable information could help the police to perform creditably.
The police should be shielded from political appointments (though not possible now). The role of law enforcement in any civilized society is to serve and protect the citizens. This is because political appointments corrupt the officials, destroy spirit de corps, skew their sense of neutrality and impartiality, and infuse a sense of allegiance to appointing authority. It is a major obstacle to police effectiveness and must be discouraged at all cost if improved police performance must be achieved.
There is the need for Government to steadily increase logistic funding, so that the police can work towards attaining the standard patrol practice of developed countries. There should be a massive injection of funds into the police force so that operational and logistics equipment can be acquired.
Crime in our society has become rather sophisticated. The police should, therefore, acquire up-to-date weapons and equipments, which it deems necessary for the successful performance of its duties.
There should be an improvement in the conditions of services of policemen. This will go a long way in removing any justification or predisposing circumstances for corrupt practices or the extortion of the public in the performance of their duties. The living conditions of policemen should be improved. Policemen live in barracks built several years ago which are poorly maintained.
Police authorities should put in place structures to motivate honest, dedicated and hardworking policemen. Promotion should be giving to deserving officers as at when due. This is because denial of promotion is a major cause of the low morale and that seems to have permeated and pervaded the entire force.
There is every need to reposition the police in South Sudan to conform to what is obtainable in other countries of the world. Security is a very sensitive issue and no nation can afford to toy with it. Corruption has eaten deep into the fabric of South Sudan society and seems intractable, but the situation can be remedied given disciplined and forthright leadership and a citizenry that is united in its resentment to corruption.
The police force as an institution is one that the South Sudanese society cannot do without. It is however, necessary that in-depth and comprehensive reforms be carried out within it to make it a force that will satisfactorily discharge its constitutional duties without alienating, or making itself an enemy of South Sudanese people.
Police officer looks to connect with Saskatoon's diverse communities with an empathetic ear
Const. Derek Chesney works with the cultural relations unit
by Eric Anderson
Const. Derek Chesney credits his approach to communication — direct, respectful, full of empathy — to growing up on a ranch in southeast Saskatchewan surrounded by cowboys.
"I got to listen to a lot of old guys B.S. back in the day, and they tell stories of humanity and people," he said.
The veteran police officer is a member of the Saskatoon Police Service's cultural relations unit. Its job is to forge relationships between the police force and the city's various communities.
The unit started in the early 2000s as an attempt to repair the disconnect between the Indigenous population and the police. While that remains an important focus, Chesney said the scope of his work has changed because of Saskatoon's increasing cultural diversity.
"In recent years, with immigration, with the sexual and gender diverse community coming into its proper place, and everybody else in-between, we now have broadened our horizons to working with everybody from the Saskatoon Open Door Society to the new immigrants in the city," Chesney said.
'He can see the spirit in people'
Chesney's talent of earning the trust of people from all walks of life was evident last Friday during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations in Saskatoon's Victoria Park. He shook the hands of local Indigenous leaders, spoke with newcomer families about the importance of the day, and helped staff from OUT Saskatoon raise a two-spirit teepee.
Vernon Linklater appreciates Chesney's ability to place himself in the shoes of others and view the world from their perspective. The Saskatoon Public School Board trustee and family violence worker at The Friendship Inn was one of the first people to shake Chesney's hand on National Indigenous Peoples Day.
"'Rock Your Roots' .. walk a step toward reconciliation," says co-organizer of Saskatoon event.
Linklater calls Chesney a personal friend and a friend to Saskatoon's Indigenous community.
"We come to ceremony together. He goes along with the police as well as on his own time. He's brought his family. I've seen his children grow up in ceremony. Just like I see ceremony as very important, he sees it too. That's the kind of guy Derek is. He can see the spirit in people."
From the ranch to the Punjab
It's been an interesting journey for Chesney to end up in this role.
After finishing a hockey career in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, he returned to his family ranch just in time for the mad cow crisis to hit the cattle industry. It prompted Chesney to leave the ranch and enrol in sociology and Indigenous justice studies at the University of Saskatchewan with the goal of becoming a police officer.
In 2006, as part of his studies, Chesney travelled to India for six weeks.
"We got to spend a week in the Punjab, which is the breadbasket of India and home of the Sikh people. Once I got to know the Sikh people, I was like, 'OK, they are just Saskatchewan farm boys.'
"I started drawing those lines between the similarities of stuff, and if you peel away all the things that you perceive as difficult, we have a lot of similarities," he said.
'I deal with the other 95 per cent'
Chesney describes his role within the Saskatoon Police Service as public relations, and it's one he embraces.
"In policing, they say you deal with five per cent of the population 95 per cent of the time. I deal with the other 95 per cent — the people that support the police. Maybe they come from countries where police can be a little bit corrupt. We're there to build that bridge and build that connection," he said.
Chesney has enjoyed his five years with the cultural relations unit, but is excited for a change. In January, he will return to walking a beat in downtown Saskatoon — a challenge, given the rise of crystal meth use in the area.
But he knows the lessons learned from his years building relationships with different communities in Saskatoon will serve him well.
"If you can listen and communicate with people, you can avert a lot of stuff."
Civil society demands ‘community policing' legislation
Civil society urged Government to introduce legislation for community policing, fiscal decentralization of funds to police stations, allocation and provision of funds to investigation officers at all levels in Punjab.
As part of new PTI led Government, Police reforms agenda is one of the major parts of its manifesto that aims to provide relief to the local communities and access to justice.
Community policing is a successful model introduced in many countries of the world but the provincial and federal government have not yet made any legislation to introduce and strengthen community policing in Pakistan.
The initiative of community policing can help in reforming police and controlling crimes through community engagement at every police station level.
Syed Kausar Abbas, Executive Director of Sustainable Social Development Organization (SSDO) said that the PTI led Government at federal and provincial level could not take any practical steps yet and need to introduce community policing as part of their police reforms agenda.
He said, the community policing is the successful model to bridging gaps between police and the public and combat crimes through community engagement at local level. He also emphasized on the allocation of budget and fiscal decentralization of budget to the Station House Officer of each police station.
Kauser maintained that the police stations does not have the enough resources to deal with the criminal activities in their localities and provide relief to community due to unavailability of funds and lack of resources due to which they takes bribes from the victims.
The budget of the police station should be given to the Station House Officer (SHO) of the respective police station and he/she should be responsible to manage the affairs of the police station through budget, he suggested
There is a lack of trust between the police and the citizens due to which the criminal activities are not controlled by the engagement of the community. Government should make immediate legislation on the community policing to engage the local communities and stakeholders to build the trust and bridge the gaps between communities and the local police, Kausar Abbas added. He urged the government to take immediate measures of police reforms and introduce community policing at all levels in Pakistan.
YouTube deleted 130 rap videos to help police fight street gangs responsible for thousands of stabbings
by Jim Edwards
UK police are monitoring more than 2,000 "drill" rap videos on YouTube in their war against London street gangs.
YouTube has deleted 130 videos at the request of police because of their links to crime. The gangs use YouTube to threaten rivals and boast about their attacks. And the police have used YouTube videos as evidence against gangs in court.
The stakes are high: More than 4,000 people a year are stabbed in London, mostly in gang conflict.
At least four rap groups are now banned by court order from performing or publishing their music.
Drill rappers are angry. "This is a threat to freedom of speech. Nobody in a free society should be imprisoned for words," one group says.
As soon as the dark blue Ford Mondeo pulled to a stop on Gordon Road that night, the 16-year-old boy standing at the side of the road knew he had made a mistake. He had been tricked into the rendezvous by an acquaintance. Driving the car was Isaac Donkoh, 21, a local rapper who also ran a gang in the Beckton E6 postcode area, a dreary neighbourhood in the east of London. It is best-known for being the home of the world's largest gasworks. Donkoh's crew that night consisted of four teenagers - two other 16-year-olds and two 14-year-olds.
Donkoh and his colleagues got out of the car, and forced the 16-year-old into the vehicle. Once inside they threatened him with a machete and tied two plastic bags over his head.
"I thought they were probably gonna kill me," the boy later told police.
In fact, they needed him alive. They wanted to torture him.
Over the next two hours, Donkoh and the others stripped the boy naked, beat him with a pole, cut him with scissors, forced him to swallow cannabis, and scalded his head and feet with boiling water. Then they made him call his parents and beg for £1,500 (about $1,900) as a ransom.
The gang filmed the whole thing on an iPhone. In April of this year, London Metropolitan police later used it to secure convictions and prison sentences against all four young men.
The police were particularly interested in Donkoh's nascent career on the "UK drill" rap music scene. "Donkoh fronted drill music videos for his gang which goaded rivals and recruited boys as young as 14 to commit serious violence," Detective Chief Inspector Jim McKee said in a statement after the case was over. "We identified a direct correlation between his drill videos which glorified violence and shootings and stabbings on the streets."
The Donkoh torture case - and the drill music linked to it - is not an isolated incident.
'Operation Domain' tracks and controls London's drill rap scene, aided by YouTube
YouTube has removed 130 rap videos from its platform at the request of London police, who allege that the videos are weapons in a gang war that has led to hundreds of stabbings across the city in the last couple of years.
At least 20 convictions have been made in the Metropolitan Police's "Operation Domain" investigation of rap gangs, all leading to convictions. Eighteen received prison sentences.
The most controversial part of the campaign is the extent to which police are now monitoring - and banning - music videos on YouTube to track gang warfare and prevent attacks. The police told Business Insider that they are currently tracking more than 2,000 music videos in their database. "As of 21 June, the Met has submitted requests to YouTube to remove 154 of the 2,040 indexed videos, 130 have been removed," according to Detective Superintendent Mike West.
Two professional rappers, who go by the name Skengdo x AM, are now banned by a court-sanctioned "criminal behaviour order" from making music, performing songs, or publishing music videos without the approval of the police.
They received nine-month suspended prison sentences in January for an unauthorised performance of their music. "It [the CBO] was breached when they performed drill music that incited and encouraged violence against rival gang members and then posted it on social media," the Met told Business Insider.??"The injunction was originally made against the individuals as they were members of a gang in Lambeth and were associated with the escalating gang violence in the borough."
A further 11 less well-known rappers in groups linked to the 1011 and W12 gangs are also banned from performing without police permission.
An official for YouTube confirmed to Business Insider that the company was cooperating.
"We have developed policies specifically to help tackle videos related to knife crime in the UK and are continuing to work constructively with experts on this issue. We work with the Metropolitan Police, The Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime, the Home Office, and community groups to understand this issue and ensure we are able to take action on gang-related content that infringe our Community Guidelines or break the law," a spokesperson said.
The music bans raise obvious issues around censorship, free speech and creativity: Should the police have the power to ban the mere performance or publication of music? Is YouTube right to cooperate?
London's gangs are responsible for thousands of stabbings per year
From the police point of view, Operation Domain is a straightforward law enforcement action. The scale of London's gang wars is terrifying: In the 2018-2019 year ending in March - the most recent numbers the Met has published - there were 4,277 stabbings. The previous year there were 4,732. There were 122 homicides of all types in the most recent year, an indicator that stabbings tend to leave their victims alive.
There were more than 1,300 stabbings in London, and 80 murders, in the first six months of 2018 alone, according to a Sky News investigation. "The overwhelming majority of these are gang-related," Sky's Andy Hughes reported. The conflicts are conducted between dozens of tiny postcode-based crews. It's not a "war" as such. More like a chaotic free-for-all, conducted in continuous fits and starts.
The police say that they are simply responding to criminal threats and incitement. The fact that the threats rhyme and are delivered via slick videos on YouTube makes no difference, police say.
"Gangs try to outrival each other with content - what looks like a music video can actually contain explicit language used by gangs to threaten each other. They can include gestures of violence, with hand signals suggesting they are firing weapons and graphic descriptions of what they would do to each other," superintendent West said. "The speed at which an online disagreement can escalate into violence, often very serious violence, is staggering."
Slow, ominous beats and lyrics about violence, revenge, and demands for respect
The police are focused on a single genre of music: UK drill.
Drill was invented in Chicago sometime around 2010. But it has been taken to another level entirely in London. UK drill is characterised by slow, ominous beats with a cinematically gloomy melody looped on top. Rappers deliver their lyrics rapid-fire, in strong London accents. The songs are predominantly about gang violence, revenge, and demands for respect.
UK drill videos also have signature visual tropes. They're often shot on a low budget, with dark, shadowy backgrounds. The performers pose in masks and bandannas as if they fear being identified, and they flash various threatening hand signals. Conspicuously absent are the wealth symbols - jewelry, cars, swimming pools - that populate mainstream US rap videos.
The whole scene looks like a fantasy of what a scary London street gang might look like.
The police say that, in fact, they are London street gangs - who are genuinely scary.
It is not clear where the rap groups end and gangs begin
For instance, five members of the Notting Hill-based group 1011 were arrested last November while carrying three machetes, a large knife and two baseball bats, according to The Guardian.
They were sent to prison in May 2019 for conspiracy to commit violent disorder, receiving sentences ranging from one year to three years and six months. "The gang pleaded guilty at Kingston Crown Court on Wednesday, 16 May, after arming themselves with machetes and baseball bats to take on a rival gang last November," West said.
The 1011 gang/group is now banned from making music for three years without police supervision.
"The gang can meet in public to make music if they have authorisation from police. They must notify police of any new official music videos (i.e. filmed by media companies) they feature in within 24 hours of publication. They must also provide police with a list of their official videos that are currently unpublished so they can be taken out of circulation if they breach the conditions of the CBOs," West said.
"He called other gang members who quickly arrived and a large group, armed with large knives, swords and wooden sticks, launched an attack"
Prior to that, eight members of the W12 gang in Shepherds Bush were sentenced in September 2018 for their involvement in a melee in which one of their members was stabbed in the back, leaving him with serious injuries.
One member had spotted members of a rival gang from Kensington and Chelsea on their turf in the White City section of Shepherds Bush.
"He called other gang members who quickly arrived and a large group, armed with large knives, swords and wooden sticks, launched an attack on the three males," West told us. "They chased them through the area and the incident ended in a violent confrontation during which one of their own - [a 16-year-old] - was stabbed in the back."
Both gangs evaded the police that night but, astonishingly, the Kensington and Chelsea crew made two drill videos describing the fight. The lyric to one song went, "Wit 2 shanks up creep up like luga leave man cut now the 12s all hot." The police were able to identify the gang member who had carried two knives ("shanks") that evening. "The 12s all hot" is a reference to the police presence that moved into the W12 postcode area after the clash. Another member uploaded a video to his Instagram account while he was awaiting trial. They were all convicted and given a range of sentences, the longest being four years.
The cases put police officers in the unique position of being music critics who make legal judgments about what song lyrics really mean. The lyrics and the videos were used as evidence to convict the men. "They [the police] presented evidence to the courts of a number of drill music videos to demonstrate the tensions between the groups," the Met said in a statement given to Business Insider.
"We are not trying to prevent young people's artistic expression but when music is being used to encourage violent attacks we must act, as the public would rightly expect us to do so," the Met said.
Skengdo x AM are now all-but banned from performing unless they are willing to go to prison
The most controversial rap ban was the CBO affecting Skengdo x AM. They were previously the subject of an injunction on their music due to their association with the 410 gang in Brixton, South London. They played a gig at the Koko venue in Camden, capacity 1,400, in December. The police said the concert breached the CBO. It "was breached when they performed drill music that incited and encouraged violence against rival gang members and then posted it on social media." The pair - real names Terrell Doyley and Joshua Malinga - were given nine-month suspended sentences.
Skengdo x AM are now all-but banned from performing any of their music, unless they are willing to go to prison. Neither performer made himself available when Business Insider reached their manager.
Civil liberties campaigners such as Index on Censorship and Liberty are appalled.
Another drill group, Krept and Konan, started a Change.org petition demanding that the police stop using the Serious Crime Act to prosecute drill artists. (The band did not immediately return a message requesting comment.)
"The police are using laws made for terrorists and sex offenders to criminalise musicians who sing violent lyrics," their petition states. "It means that the police no longer have to prove any link between an artist and a specific act of violence to secure a conviction for 'inciting violence'. This is a threat to freedom of speech. Nobody in a free society should be imprisoned for words."
The police seem to be aware that they're treading into civil rights territory.
In an email, Detective Chief Superintendent Kevin Southworth told Business Insider, "We're not in the business of killing anyone's fun, we're not in the business of killing anyone's artistic expression - we are in the business of stopping people being killed. When in this instance you see a particular genre of music being used specifically to goad, to incite, to provoke, to inflame, that can only lead to acts of very serious violence being committed, that's when it becomes a matter for the police."
Donkoh and his crew -the boys who tortured the 16-year-old in Beckton - did not receive CBO bans on their music, however. They were not needed.
Donkoh will be in prison for the next 12 years. The other four received two-and-a-half years apiece.
Right time for state police
by Editorial Board
A report the other day that President Muhammadu Buhari had instructed Ministry of Justice (MOJ), Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to work out modalities for the implementation of the report of a committee which was set up in August last year on police reform is gratifying. The Panel was set up in response to abuses, which the citizenry had suffered in the hands of men of the Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), notorious for extra-judicial killings. The special-purpose committee was chaired by Tony Ojukwu, secretary of NHRC and it came out with broad and fundamental suggestions on how policing could be more effective in Nigeria. More gratifying is it that the executive summary of the findings was made public immediately.
The Panel's findings generated nationwide interest because the issues of state police and national security were addressed. Though the social media buzzed with the wrong information that the president had approved the creation of state police, no one was in doubt about the public expectation that state police is expedient at this time. Obviously, Nigerians were excited that Buhari gave a nod to state officials to prepare a White Paper on the core issues of the report. This is encouraging and the ruling party along with all stakeholders must ensure that the nation takes a decisive step on this fundamental reform.
The president deserves commendation for creating room for state police and national security to be discussed under the framework of human rights. For state police to be created, we need a constitutional amendment, which would extricate policing from the exclusive list. This is where the National Assembly comes in. The Eighth National Assembly had initiated moves to revisit the 1999 Federal Constitution on state policing. However, the effort was thwarted by politicking and conflicting interests – from various quarters.
Yet, the panel's report, like the El Rufai report before it, recommended the creation of state police in recognition of the deep and fundamental cracks in the policing architecture of the country. With a population of nearly 200 million citizens spread in 36 states across six geographical zones, it is foolhardy to stick to the atavistic notion of a central police command. Policing communities requires close proximity to the area so that preemptive and preventive actions could be taken at all times.
State Police refers to the idea of the constituent parts of the nation creating and deploying security personnel for the purpose of protection of citizens and crime detection. Under such an arrangement, the state governors working in consonance with other constitutional organs would hire police officers. Such officers are expected to be accountable to the people of the state as represented by the governor and House of Assembly. This contrasts fundamentally with the current practice in which a central command under the Federal Government polices the entire country. The State Police Commissioners are not obliged to take orders from state governors who ironically are refereed to chief security officers, under this convoluted arrangement.
How may a chief security officer carry out his functions if he is not equipped to perform his duties? This is one of the anomalies of the federal system that was foisted on the nation by the military. Some critics of state police have opined that the state governors are likely to abuse the powers invested in them. The counterpoint to this is that existing structures in the legislature and the judiciary will serve as a check on the governors. Besides, the federal police will still be operated and where there is an inadequacy, the federal authorities would step in.
The American system has made provisions, for example, for federal crimes and crimes that are within the purview of other security agencies like the sheriff's office. Our local experiences and cultural affiliations do call for the adoption of local policing to reduce the level of insecurity in the country. No federal state can be homogenous in all facets of life. Indeed, the federal system best suits a country with a diverse people spread over vast geographical distances. Thus policing ought to be a local concern. In the light of current experiences the need for a return to state policing cannot be over-emphasised. Already, there are quasi state or community police organs in the country in the form of vigilante groups and traffic regulators in some states. These have complemented the efforts of the federal police. Lagos State is a clear example of this state-policing brand ambassador. State policing, therefore, is expected to stick closer to local issues, which an Inspector General sitting in Abuja may not be bothered about.
Specifically, ours is the only federal system the world over that operates a unitary style of policing. Elsewhere and as we have seen, the local governments, the campuses, the transport agencies, the maritime world, hospitals and other sectors require their own police. These would then be coordinated by an appointed state official. The security architecture currently in existence has led to serious security breaches to the extent that ethnic militias are beginning to rise. Some ethnic leaders are also calling for self-defence measures because in their view, policing as offered by the Nigeria Police Force has failed. Also, it is an open secret that some state governments have been funding police activities in their states owing to paucity of funds from the Federal Government.
Furthermore, there is widespread perception that the Nigeria Police is inherently corrupt and inefficient and cannot be trusted to protect citizens in their dire hours of need. The present federal police is a force that acquiesces readily to the federal authorities to the detriment of local security. How else do we account for the criminal failure of the police to arrest the perpetrators of dastardly crimes committed by herdsmen across the country? Lives are daily lost to vagabonds and criminals in the form of armed robberies and kidnapping. And curiously, the Federal Government appears to be at a loss on how to deal with enormous security challenges arising.
We, therefore, call on the National Assembly working with the presidency to respond positively to the report of the NHRC panel. The expected constitutional changes would easily sail through once there is a consensus among stakeholders. The Federal Government should read up the report of the 2014 National Confab, the El Rufai Committee recommendations on policing.
Mr. President should not miss this opportunity to yield to the wishes of the people. The notion that we are not mature enough to run state police at this juncture is balderdash. It is through practice and innovations that a country makes progress. To do the same thing in the same way and expect a different result is tantamount to a Sisyphean effort. Nothing will come of it.
June 28, 2019
Law Enforcement News
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Two LAPD officers were hospitalized Friday after their patrol car was involved in a crash with another driver. The crash happened just before 1:40 a.m. on Imperial Highway near Success Avenue. The collision left the patrol vehicle with major front-end damage, and both front seat air bags were deployed. Both officers have been taken to the hospital, but their conditions have not been released. The driver of the other car suffered minor injuries. Alcohol may have been a factor in the crash, according to officers on the scene.
Thousands Mourn Fallen Sacramento Police Officer Tara O'Sullivan
Thousands of law enforcement officials, community members, and family and friends of Tara O'Sullivan gathered at Bayside Church on Thursday to mourn the loss — and celebrate the life — of the Sacramento officer killed last week in the line of duty. Speakers at the ceremony warmly recalled the 26-year-old East Bay native who knew she wanted to be a police officer from a young age and excelled at the job. Eulogies from O'Sullivan's peers in law enforcement remembered her as a determined, standout recruit. Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn read a self-evaluation O'Sullivan wrote at the end of her training: “It's done. Oh wow … this is the end of a chapter I've worked to achieve since I was 16,” she wrote. “Time to achieve my newest goal: field training.” The rookie officer, who grew up in Pleasant Hill, was helping a woman move out of her northeast Sacramento home after a dispute the evening of June 19 when a man with a history of domestic violence fatally shot her with a high-powered rifle, officials said. A standoff ensued, and efforts to rush O'Sullivan to the hospital and save her life ultimately failed.
San Francisco Chronicle
Man Barricades Himself In South L.A. Apartment After Police Chase, LAPD Says
A man suspected of burglary is in the midst of an hours-long standoff with police after he fled from authorities and barricaded himself in an apartment in South Los Angeles early Friday, police said. LAPD officers responded to a report of a burglary suspect at Jefferson Boulevard and San Pedro Street about 3:30 a.m. The man got into a vehicle and drove off when police arrived, Officer Mike Lopez said. Police chased him to 65th Street and South Broadway, where he ran out of the vehicle and into a nearby apartment. Officers found a firearm inside the car he had been driving, Lopez said. The SWAT team is responding to the apartment complex to try to coax the man out. It was not clear immediately whether anyone else was inside the apartment.
Los Angeles Times
64-Year-Old Homeless Man Dies After Being Stabbed By Unknown Assailant At Reseda Park: LAPD
A 64-year-old man died days after he was stabbed by an unknown assailant at Reseda Park, LAPD officials said Thursday. The incident was reported about 6:30 a.m. June 20 at Reseda Park, near the intersection of Etiwanda Avenue and Kittridge Street. Responding officers found the victim on a picnic table bleeding from his abdomen area, Los Angeles Police Department officials said in a news release. The victim managed to tell officers that he was homeless and sleeping on a table when he woke up with a severe pain in his stomach before noticing that he had been stabbed and was bleeding, police said. The man was taken to a hospital, where he died from his injuries on Tuesday. He was identified by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner's Office as Olegario Gomez. Police did not release any additional details about the stabbing and are asking for the public's help with information in the case.
Police Pursuit Of Reportedly Stolen Vehicle In South LA Ends In Crash In Hawthorne
A motorist in a stolen car led police Thursday on a chase from south Los Angeles to Hawthorne, where the man was taken into custody after rear-ending another car, authorities said. Los Angeles police officers began chasing the car about 6:45 a.m. at Century Boulevard and Figueroa Street, said Los Angeles police Officer Greg Kraft. The motorist sped onto the nearby southbound 110 Freeway, got off of the freeway onto westbound El Segundo Boulevard and crashed into another car shortly after 7 a.m. at Crenshaw Boulevard, where police boxed the suspect's car in for a few minutes. The suspect then sped off again and drove onto the westbound 105 Freeway before exiting onto southbound Prairie Avenue. The car then rear-ended another car at El Segundo Boulevard, where the suspect was taken into custody about 7:20 a.m. Paramedics treated the man for unspecified injuries. His name was not immediately released.
LAPD Searching For Suspect In Alleged San Fernando Valley Hate Crime
Police are asking for the public's help identifying a man who they say stopped a church service by performing Nazi salutes. According to the Los Angeles Police Department, the suspect is being investigated for Hate Crime trespassing and disturbing a religious meeting. According to police, the suspect allegedly stopped a religious service at a church in the Devonshire area June 9 by pacing and performing Nazi salutes. The suspect was described as a 6-foot-1 white male between the ages of 20 and 30 years old with black hair and brown eyes with an estimated weight of between 180 and 220 pounds. Police say he was last seen wearing a black skull cap, black hooded sweatshirt, a red shirt, blue jeans and red Converse shoes. Anyone with information is asked to call the LAPD's major crimes division at 877-527-3247.
Details On Hit-and-Run Driver Who Killed Holocaust Survivor
New details in the search for a hit-and-run driver who killed a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor in Valley Village.
NBC 4 Video
Nipsey Hussle Was Shot With Two Guns After ‘Snitch' Comments To The Accused Gunman, Records Show
Nipsey Hussle spent part of the afternoon of March 31 signing autographs, taking photos with fans and talking with friends at the Hyde Park strip mall where he owned several businesses. Less than a half hour into his visit, Eric Holder approached the famed rapper, who was with a larger group, and the two shook hands. They had a four-minute conversation, and at some point, the topic turned to snitching. “Apparently, the conversation had something to do with [Hussle] telling Mr. Holder that word on the street was that Mr. Holder was snitching,” Deputy Dist. Atty. John McKinney told a grand jury in May, saying that was a serious offense in the gang world. “The conversation wasn't particularly intense. It wasn't particularly belligerent.” But the conversation was enough, the prosecutor said, “that it moved Eric Holder to a point of wanting to return to the parking lot and kill Nipsey Hussle.” After they talked, Holder picked up chili cheese fries from a nearby burger shop, got in a woman's car and they drove off. Soon after, the 29-year-old man returned, a gun in each hand, and allegedly opened fire.
Los Angeles Times
Alleged Human Trafficker Targeted Victims On Social Media, Including 16-Year-Old With Autism
Authorities say an alleged human trafficker targeted victims on social media, including a 16-year-old with autism and they're seeking the public's help in identifying additional potential victims. Investigators with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department say 23-year-old Bryan Barkley recruited victims between October 2018 and February 2019. He then created online advertisements of a sexual nature. Barkley arranged for the female victim with autism to be taken to his home in View Park with a ride share service. He then held her for several days and forced her to engage in sex acts with multiple men. Police believe there are more victims and are asking them to come forward. They are also seeking information about the identities of two females using the names "Mercedes" and "Ranae" who may have helped Barkley. Barkley is in custody on charges of human trafficking of a minor with a bail set at $150,000. Anyone with information should call the L.A. County Sheriff's Department Human Trafficking Task Force at (323) 526-5156.
Police In California Find $100,000 Worth Of Meth, Cocaine, Heroin In Child Car Seat, Stroller
The U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested a woman in California after finding drugs in her child's car seat and stroller. The 25-year-old woman was arrested in Murrieta on Wednesday, June 12. When authorities searched the vehicle, they found 23 packages containing methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin wrapped in cellophane that had been hidden inside one of the children's car seat and stroller. A child was sitting in the car seat when the drugs were found, according to U.S. Border Patrol. Authorities declined to identify her, citing an ongoing investigation. The woman was arrested and turned over to the Riverside County Sheriff's Office for further investigation. Agents confiscated 32.1 pounds of meth, 2.31 pounds of cocaine, and 4.55 pounds of heroin with a combined street value of $101,680. Authorities said the vehicle was being driven by a man with two women and three children. The three minor children released to the custody of the second passenger, their 32-year-old aunt.
Los Angeles - Local Government News
|Mayor Eric Garcetti Says 7,000 Housing Units For Homeless Are In The Works
Mayor Eric Garcetti is fighting back against critics who say Los Angeles hasn't built any homeless housing with the billion dollars voters approved under Measure HHH. Speaking on Eyewitness Newsmakers, he said starting with the fiscal year July 1, there will be results. "You'll see the beginning of those 107 projects opening. We actually opened our first one here in the San Fernando Valley just a couple weeks ago, our first HHH facility," he said. "There's about 7,000 units of housing that's about to come online, fully funded, under construction and, or about to open." The mayor's critics, who blame him for the homeless crisis, are gathering recall efforts. They would need 350,000 signatures to force an election. "We live in a political world of kind of repeal and replace. I'm frustrated something can't be done overnight," Garcetti said. "And I'm going to fight, obviously, any effort to recall me. But more importantly, I'm going to fight to bring people home for the last minute I'm mayor in this town."
A New Park Is In The Works In Sun Valley, And The City Is Asking The Public For Ideas, Feedback
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Los Angeles Daily News