June 26, 2018 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 231

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Topics: UN special report on extreme poverty in the United States; Lush’s spycops ad campaign in the UK. People: Bill, Rachel, Nate. Recorded: June 24th, 2018.

Episode 231 (28 min):
AFD 231

Note that all episodes for the rest of the summer will only be a half hour long.

Related links

AFD 231 US Poverty and Lush Spycops campaign links (PDF)

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Music by friend of the show Stunt Bird.

January 21, 2015 – Arsenal For Democracy 114

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Topics: Republican State Attorneys General, the NYPD mutiny, US-Russian relations. People: Bill, Nate, Sasha. Produced: January 19th, 2015.

Discussion Points:

– How are Republican Attorneys General helping corporations fight common sense regulation?
– Is the NYPD beyond the control of the people of New York City and Mayor De Blasio?
– The end of nuclear partnership: When should the US view Russian actions as threatening versus posturing?

Episode 114 (52 min)
AFD 114

Related links
Segment 1

AFD, by Sasha: State Attorneys General are ruining the Earth. Literally.
NYT: Energy Firms in Secretive Alliance With Attorneys General

Segment 2

AFD: NYC: Overwhelming opposition to the NYPD mutiny
The Globalist, by Bill: New York: De Blasio Vs. a Renegade Police Department
AFD: The NYPD: America’s Secret Police
AFD, by De Ana: #BlackLivesMatter means just that, not that police lives don’t
Reuters: Off duty, black cops in New York feel threat from fellow police

Segment 3

Boston Globe: Russia ends US nuclear security alliance
The Globalist: Kaliningrad: Achilles’ Heel for the West

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And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

The Globalist | De Blasio Vs. a Renegade Police Department

This article was originally published in The Globalist.

In recent weeks, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has seen hundreds of police officers turn their backs on him at two funerals for two fallen comrades.

The city’s police force – which is the nation’s largest by a factor of three and is typically known by the shorthand “NYPD” – has also dramatically scaled back their arrest rate and policing activities on the instructions of their union. They have even demanded his resignation.

Even before tensions reached a fever pitch with the deaths of the officers and the recent protests over police brutality and racism, relations had been strained between the NYPD and the mayor.

In November 2013, de Blasio, who is white himself but has two biracial children, was elected mayor on a platform to end the controversial “stop-and-frisk” policing tactic that has disproportionately targeted racial minorities in the city.

The policy has also been deemed an unconstitutional search-and-seizure by a federal judge. De Blasio’s opposition to the policy vaulted him first to the Democratic Party nomination in a big field, and then to a landslide 72% victory in the general election.

In most major democratically governed cities (or countries) around the world, that would be a clear mandate for implementing reforms to the police. Confoundingly, that is not so in a U.S. city – and certainly not in New York City.

There, instead, the police form an intractable deep state that vigorously resists and publicly denounces any effort by its elected superiors to assert democratic control.

Bloomberg’s Army

In November 2011, while still mayor of New York, Mike Bloomberg delivered the now-notorious line: “I have my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh biggest army in the world.”

This speech occurred shortly after the NYPD’s heavy-handed breakup of the Occupy Wall Street protest in Zuccotti Park, and it struck a nerve for many Americans concerned with the militarization of U.S. law enforcement.

Indeed, the most alarming part was not so much Bloomberg’s braggadocio and arrogance, but rather that the comparison seemed more accurate than he himself likely intended. His other remarks made clear he fancied himself chief of a sovereign state-within-a-state – New York City within the United States.

The real state-within-a-state

The recent “mutiny” by the NYPD against Mayor de Blasio – from public displays of disrespect to unilateral work slowdowns – has underscored, however, that the real state-within-a-state is New York City’s police force itself.

Under Bloomberg and his very pro-cop predecessor Rudy Giuliani, the NYPD served administrations that did not challenge its authority or refuse requests to extend its authority and mandate. Thus, the elected leadership never faced opposition from that “seventh biggest army.”

Bill de Blasio, on the other hand, is finding that – like the security forces of a third-world country – one dares not cross the Big Apple’s big army. In that respect, he is learning a lesson the city’s first African-American Mayor, David Dinkins, learned the hard way in September 1992.

Back then, 4,000 off-duty officers stormed barricades around City Hall, while their uniformed comrades watched gleefully, during a police riot against Mayor Dinkins’ proposal for an “independent civilian agency” to monitor police misconduct.

Ironically, Dinkins had actually dramatically expanded the city’s police force.
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The NYPD: America’s Secret Police

Misconduct by the NYPD (with or without the apparently irrelevant backing of the law, based on their recent disrespect for their elected leader) extends from the individual level – stop-and-frisk encounters or the chokehold killing of Eric Garner – to the systemic and massive.

As a reminder: It took until April 2014 for the NYPD to shutter a terrifying surveillance program against Muslim communities, which was established after the 9/11 attacks.

That program not only sent undercover spies to Muslim neighborhoods in the city to track ordinary New Yorkers going about their daily lives, but it extended across the entire northeastern United States – well beyond the bounds of New York City.

The program was advised by the CIA (see previous link) but acted without the knowledge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In true Orwell fashion, it was named the “Demographics Unit.”

Such “secret police” behavior – down to the inscrutably euphemistic name – is like something out of Tsarist Russia.

Such programs — or indeed national security in general — are not supposed to be the role of a municipal police force. Activities by the NYPD in the past decade and a half suit the secret police forces of a 19th century reactionary monarch in Europe far more than a 21st century American liberal democracy.

Flag of the New York City Police Department

Flag of the New York City Police Department

AFD Radio Special: Black Lives Matter Protests

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Topic: Ferguson and Beyond — What happens next in the growing movement? Panel: Jamie Nesbitt Golden, Ama, and JP. Host: Bill. Recorded: December 7th, 2014.

AFD Episode 110:
Ferguson Special II

Panelist bios

Jamie Nesbitt Golden, from Chicago: Freelance writer, participant in the August rallies in Ferguson and the November rallies in Chicago
Ama, from St. Louis County: Lives next to Ferguson, wife owns a business there, 12 year county resident, participant in the August rallies in Ferguson
JP, from St. Louis County: Lives near Ferguson, 10-year U.S. military veteran, 20 year county resident

Related links

Black Lives Matter official website
Hood Feminism
Jamie’s Twitter
STL Public Radio: St. Louis County Emergency Fund Tapped for Police
The Atlantic: How Police Unions and Arbitrators Keep Abusive Cops on the Street
Jacobin: The Bad Kind of Unionism
Daily Camera / Boulder News: Sam Carter, ex-Boulder cop, convicted on all counts in Mapleton elk trial

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iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

What have we learned so far from Wisconsin’s police shootings law?

According to an article from Al Jazeera America, Wisconsin’s groundbreaking law on investigations of shooting deaths by police has not (so far) resulted in any cops facing consequences, but it has revealed a lot more information on cases that previously would have remained shrouded in mystery.

So far this year, law enforcement in the state has shot and killed 6 people. Not a big pool of data, but still worth examining. Of those 6 cases, 2 were suicidal (so, not a helpful response by police), 1 was allegedly attempting to burn down the house of his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend (a sheriff’s deputy), and 3 were schizophrenic (but not necessarily having an episode). At least 3 of the victims were already known to the specific law enforcement members involved in the shootings.

This is, of course, not really a revelation — mentally ill or developmentally challenged civilians in the United States have long been the victims of fatal incidents with the police — but it provides more information and case studies that should be used to advocate for increased training for how police can and should respond to people with serious mental health issues or other mental difficulties, to avoid chaotic responses that end in tragedy.