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Police Brutality

Almagro condemns vandalism and police brutality in Colombia — MercoPress

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Almagro condemns vandalism and police brutality in Colombia

Saturday, May 8th 2021 – 08:41 UTC

“The OAS General Secretariat recognizes peaceful protest as a fundamental basic right that must be protected by democratic institutions,” Almagro said.
“The OAS General Secretariat recognizes peaceful protest as a fundamental basic right that must be protected by democratic institutions,” Almagro said.

Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary-General Luis Almagro Friday condemned “the cases of torture and murders committed by the forces of order” in Colombia where unrest reigns supreme since April 28.

 

Multiple protests have taken place in Colombia since President Iván Duque submitted to Congress a tax reform bill which was going to be easy on the wealthiest and harsh on the middle class in contrast to the world’s current trend of shifting the burden towards those who can afford it, as it has already been the case in Argentina and Bolivia and which is encouraged by world leaders such as US President Joseph Biden or United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

 

These demonstrations have been crushed by police forces with unprecedented brutality which the world was able to witness through homemade videos that went viral over social media. Colombia has so far recorded 37 violent deaths this year according to the NGO Tremors.

“The OAS General Secretariat recognizes peaceful protest as a fundamental basic right that must be protected by democratic institutions,” Almagro said.

He added that “ the right to protest is a right of individuals and society and must be highly valued as a form of political participation”, he added.

Almagro underlined as well that those who do not protest also have rights and these cannot be violated when fundamental rights of the population such as health, work, education and free movement are affected. “In this sense, the cessation of the blockades is urged when these fundamental rights of the people are violated and a broader social peace is supported within the framework of the demands that they want to make,” said Almagro about road blockades that have affected the normal supply of food and medicines to various cities nationwide.

But he also regretted state-endorsed violence: “We especially condemn the cases of torture and murder committed by the forces of order,“ he said.

”We value the report sent by the Ombudsman’s Office to the Attorney General’s Office regarding the prosecution of criminal responsibility by those members of the public force who have exceeded themselves and who have committed a crime violating fundamental rights of citizenship,“ Almagro went on, as he called for the prosecution of those who have committed actions of a terrorist nature against the institutions and authorities of the State.

”The OAS General Secretariat demands that external and internal actors who induce violence and destabilization of the country stop these actions and calls on organized violent groups to stop their criminal actions,“ Almagro pointed out.

The Organization of American States supports the conversation process led by the national government and calls for all social and political forces to work together towards this goal.

The United Nations have also called for a stop to criminal actions in Colombia and opposed the ”loss of life, incidents of violence and the disproportionate use of the force during protests.” The UN stood in favour of “the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to protest to be guaranteed, and [insisted] that any action by the public force must fully observe the protection and respect for human rights.”

“The Peace Agreement signed in 2016 offers elements to regulate these guarantees and strengthen citizen participation,” the UN said. It also condemned any form of violence, such as vandalism against infrastructure, serious cases of sexual violence and actions that violate human rights, which is why it urged the national government to accelerate the process of ”investigation, prosecution and punishment” of those responsible.

 

 

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Police Brutality

Twenty-three years removed from the Rose Bowl, ex-Washington State CB Ray Jackson is now a dedicated police chief and proud father who still has the ultimate resentment for Michigan

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GREENWOOD, Ind. – If you didn’t know where to look, it might be hard to track down Ray Jackson these days; ironic because tracking down others is what the former Washington State cornerback did best during his playing career in the late 1990s.

A member of the swarming “Palouse Posse” defense that helped guide WSU to the 1998 Rose Bowl, Jackson didn’t settle in the state of Washington when he stopped playing college and professional football. Nor did he make a permanent retreat to Southern California – the other move that would’ve made the most sense for someone who grew up in Santa Ana and played at powerhouse Mater Dei before accepting a scholarship from WSU coach Mike Price.

Instead, Jackson moved East. Just not all the way East.

When you find him in the smallish Indianapolis suburb of Greenwood, you’ll know you’ve got the right Ray Jackson. Sitting on the top shelf of a wooden cabinet inside his corner office at the Center Grove Police Department, where Jackson serves as the Chief of Police, is a diploma from WSU alongside a wooden football with a Cougar head carved into the side. There’s also a commemorative football from the ’98 Rose Bowl featuring WSU and Michigan logos at either end.

Oh, it’s best not to bring up the Wolverines around Jackson.

His oldest son, Trayce Jackson-Davis, is a 19 point-per-game scorer for Indiana’s basketball team who recently elected to put the NBA on hold so he could return to the Hoosiers in 2021-22. That means at least twice a year in the Big Ten, Jackson is able to treat an old wound when IU and UM play; just don’t ask him if he’s pulling for his son’s team or rooting against the Wolverines. Before Jackson-Davis committed to Indiana, he actually had an offer from Michigan. Ray’s youngest son Tayven, a four-star prep quarterback who recently committed to Tennessee – and had WSU as one of his final nine schools – was also targeted by the Wolverines and at one point during the recruiting process, Jackson had to stomach a full conversation with UM coach Jim Harbaugh.

At different times, both boys received the same guidance from dad.

“I’m like, ‘Nah you don’t go to Michigan,’” Jackson said. “Two schools you can’t go to: Michigan or UW.”

Jackson’s office may be the most impressive WSU shrine in the state of Indiana. Photos of the ex-cornerback playing for the Cougars fill out the shelves and two helmets sit on a nearby table. One is a modern icy white lid that Jackson must have obtained at some point in the last few years. The other is a game-used throwback. It’s grey with “Cougars” script running across each side and a rose stem coiled between the letters. More of Jackson’s Rose Bowl wardrobe is in tow on a chilly Thursday afternoon in April. There’s the white No. 2 jersey he wore on Jan. 1, 1998, along with the thick, gold, diamond-coated ring players received as a commemorative gift for playing in the “Granddaddy of Them All.”

As for memories of the game itself – one that culminated with Ryan Leaf spiking a football at Michigan’s 26-yard line, a split-second too late – Jackson’s first thought is this: “Man, just 30 more seconds.”

Which leads to this: “For me, I got torched for a touchdown by Ty Streets, so I think about that moment all the time. What if I would’ve just turned a little sooner? What if I would’ve got hands on him?”

And ultimately this: “But all those things happen for a reason. It’s fueled me to be the person I am today.”

•••

As a boy growing up in Southern California, Jackson may have visualized himself gliding across the green turf at the Rose Bowl, but not all fantasies revolved around football. His best friend’s dad served as a police officer in the city of Santa Ana and often during long car rides, Jackson would quiz him to gain a better understanding of the job and everything it entailed. Jackson’s interest in police work also coincided with the rise of LA-based hip-hop group N.W.A, which gained notoriety in 1988 for a hit song highlighting police brutality and racial injustice.

“People were just being harassed,” Jackson said. “So I was like, you know what, I want to change the perception of police officers.”

So, Jackson was able to live out both dreams – he reached the mountaintop as a college football player in the ’98 Rose Bowl while simultaneously working toward degrees in criminal justice and sociology. When a brief stint playing pro football ended, Jackson instantly dove into his second career, passing a clearance test for the LA Sheriff’s Department before working his way through the police academy.

Ever since, he’s been the equivalent of a multi-positional player, working in a variety of roles for police departments in both California and Indiana. Within the LA County Sheriff’s Department, he worked custody and patrol while serving as a member of the Emergency Response Team. When he relocated to his wife’s home state of Indiana, he logged five years as a patrol officer – 2½ of which were spent as a School Resource Officer (SRO). At one point, Jackson juggled work with a S.W.A.T sniper team while teaching fourth- and fifth-grade students the D.A.R.E program.

“I don’t think I have a favorite,” Jackson said, “but I really have a passion for helping people, so whether that be giving someone a dollar or enough money to get on the bus or pulling somebody, helping somebody take a tire off their car. The littlest things. That’s when you go home at night and lay your head down and you’re like, okay I helped one person today or I helped two people.”

The Center Grove School District sponsors its own police department, of which Jackson currently serves as chief. It’s a change of pace from the work he was doing in inner city Los Angeles in the early 2000s, but that doesn’t make it any less fulfilling.

“There’s been a lot of kids we’ve helped or we’ve mentored and we didn’t bust them,” Jackson said. “It’s always nice when you’re driving in a community and you pull over and for me, I was getting my car washed at this car wash place up here and the manager there was a kid that got in trouble here at the school. First thing he said, he goes ‘Chief Jackson, I really appreciate the way you handle things and I am where I am today because of you.’”

•••

Altering the perception of police officers – Jackson’s motive for joining the force – is a challenge the former Coug cornerback is still navigating. In many cases, it’s in worse shape than it was when Jackson started two decades ago, possibly reduced to an all-time low last summer after the murder of George Floyd.

In Jackson’s mind, “the same issues we’re having today are the same issues we were having in the 80’s, just minus the social media piece.”

Jackson approaches issues of police brutality and racial injustice from a unique perspective. As a black man in a predominantly white profession, living in a predominantly white suburb – according to a 2010 census, 91.1% of Greenwood residents were white – he’s been subjected to racially-motivated remarks or actions from coworkers. Other times, he’s watched fellow officers approach or react to a situation in a manner he didn’t agree with.

“But I never let them dictate what I was going to do,” Jackson said. “I always tried to do everything by the book, go above and beyond. So if I’m willing to do that and if I had other partners that had the same beliefs I had, I always thought we were going to a better place. But like I said, you focus on the bad apples and it really ruins it for the guys that do the job for the right reasons. And there’s a lot of guys out there doing the job for the right reasons.”

Heading up a police department isn’t something Jackson ever planned on, but it’s given him a larger platform for change. Upon stepping into his current role, Jackson introduced new policy and procedure that largely centered around the message of “treat people like you want to be treated.” Law enforcement would be in a better place if more officers could adopt that way of thinking, he maintains.

“I think if we can do a better job of training officers – younger officers – and even officers that have been in the job for 20, 25 years,” Jackson said. “Sometimes they’re hardened to those things, so I think if we can take a better approach to that, our training regimens and learning how to deescalate situations and communication, those are the three keys for me.”

Jackson insists the four years he spent playing football at WSU had a profound impact on his career in law enforcement – not only because of its tangible physical benefits. WSU’s locker room was a melting pot of cultures, races, backgrounds and belief systems, so connecting with more than 100 teammates has helped him relate to a wider net of people as police chief.

“When I go into houses or deal with people, I sometimes know the right things to say or I can relate to them a little bit because I show them a little bit of compassion, whether it’s something in language, whether it’s something in their culture – taking off shoes,” he said. “Anything.”

•••

Jackson’s office is situated in the heart of Center Grove High School, where Tayven won a 6A state football championship in 2020, where Trayce became one of the top 20 basketball recruits in the country winning Gatorade Indiana Boys Basketball Player of the Year and where his daughter, Arielle Knafel, led the Trojans to a state volleyball semifinal before playing collegiately at UIndy and Norfolk State.

Among the perks of his current job is proximity to his children, who’ve always had to make decisions in high school knowing Chief Jackson was never too far away.

“I’ve loved it,” Jackson said. “I got to be a part of all my kids’, made all their games, I knew they were in trouble before they were in trouble, had good relationships with all their teachers, with the admin. And you get to help kids as well, so it’s a plus.”

Jackson maintains his favorite aspect of playing at WSU was being able to suit up with his brother Chris, a member of the Cougars’ “Fab Five” receiving corps. There were actually four Jackson siblings who went to school on athletic scholarships, something that inspired Ray to sketch out a similar – and ultimately successful – blueprint for his own children.

“So going into it, I’m like okay well my kids are going to get scholarships too and so far it’s worked out,” he said. “We’re blessed. So it’s been a good thing.”

Tayven Jackson hears about the glory days often and regrets not being able to take an official visit to the place where his father created so many memories. Before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, Jackson was planning to tour the Pullman campus and meet WSU’s coaching staff, which offered the accomplished prep quarterback on Jan. 23, right before he took the court for a varsity basketball game.

“He’s talked to me about (WSU) forever,” Tayven said. “Just about how when he was in college, it was the best time of his life and he’s made so many good memories and so many good friendships and relationships. … I definitely want to check it out and see my dad’s reaction and see how happy that place probably makes him.”

Jackson-Davis had a basketball offer to play at WSU, though the Cougars never had a legitimate chance under Ernie Kent with the likes of Indiana, Michigan State, UCLA, Ohio State, Purdue and Butler also pursuing the 6-foot-9 forward. Knafel at one point was a WSU volleyball target, but the Cougars’ pedigree under coach Jen Greeny wasn’t enough to persuade her to move West.

“And that hurt,” Jackson said, “but it’s her decision, so I’ll never force that on them.”

Jackson is a dedicated father, loyal husband and proud police chief who’s still as committed as he once was to the rather overwhelming task of changing how Americans view those in law enforcement. That keeps him busy enough and come the fall/winter, he’ll have to figure out how to balance a full schedule as Center Grove’s Police Chief while making obligatory trips to nearby Bloomington and not-so-nearby Knoxville to support his sons’ athletic endeavors.

But, sometimes when he lets his mind wander, or takes in the football artifacts inside his Greenwood office, Jackson can’t help but revisit the football game in 1998.

“We lost to Michigan, but we could’ve easily won that game, we could’ve easily been national champions. Coulda, coulda, coulda,” he said. “It didn’t happen, but I try to look at the positives. We’re all healthy, got to play in an awesome game that I can share with my kids.”

Even with the wisdom and perspective Jackson gained at some point in the last 23 years, some things never change. He may not have any more kids to dissuade from attending the University of Michigan, but the sight of navy blue and maize yellow still sets off an internal siren.

“I still hate Michigan,” Jackson insisted. “Still hate them.”

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Police Brutality

Violence continues at Washington Square Park; curfew now at midnight

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Violence continues at Washington Square Park after it closed at midnight, police say.

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And Washington Square Park remained open overnight, after the NYPD decided not to enforce the new 10:00 PM curfew. It comes after clashes with officers on Friday and Saturday as they tried to close the Park. Police arrested 22 people. Most face disorderly conduct charges. No word yet on any arrests last night. A 10:00 PM curfew was implemented because of complaints about noise and illegal activity, including drug use at the park.

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Police Brutality

Santa Rosa police ‘set officers up to fail’ with projectiles fired during George Floyd protest, investigation finds

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The Santa Rosa Police Department’s purchasing decisions as far back as 2018 contributed to officers firing four tactical rounds designed to penetrate windows and walls at people protesting racism and police brutality last summer, according to newly released reports on the disciplining of two officers.

Flawed decisions to purchase rubber bullets — controversial in their own right — as well as similar-looking rounds for puncturing barricades collided with an aggressive police response to protests over police brutality, racism and the death of George Floyd last May, leading to the permanent injury of a protester in Santa Rosa.

Two officers were disciplined with 20-hour unpaid suspensions as a result of the investigations made public this week, one for firing the unauthorized rounds without checking and another for misusing a projectile launcher and shattering a protester’s mouth with a rubber bullet.

“This investigation revealed culpability at a department level as well as at an individual level,” SRPD Lt. Ryan Corcoran, the officer in charge of the department’s professional standards division, wrote in a review of Wednesday’s findings about the projectiles.

The resulting injuries to citizens were severe. A Healdsburg man struck with an unauthorized round lost a testicle, while the Santa Rosa man struck in the face with the misused rubber bullet required multiple surgeries. Both were part of lawsuits against the police and the city and received large settlements.

Jerry Threet, the chair of the Sonoma County Human Rights Commission, which has called for more accountability for how police handled the protests, said the punishments didn’t satisfy activists who had been involved in the protests. “Suspension without pay for maiming someone for life,” Threet said, “is that harsh enough?”

The release of the investigations into the two officers’ use of force comes a month after public hearings that showcased a continuing community divide over the city’s response to last summer’s protests. Elected officials meanwhile continue to grapple with whether and to what extent the city should institute new policies governing how its police department responds to protests.

“It’s something that we all have a vested interest in ensuring never occurs again,” Santa Rosa City Councilwoman Victoria Fleming, chair of the council’s public safety committee, said of the misuse of rounds and resulting injuries. She said her committee plans further discussions on the police response in the wake of May’s tense public hearings, and she hopes to hear more from the department itself.

“It’s too soon for me to see the exact policy direction of where we should go,” she said.

Police Chief Ray Navarro said his department had instituted a number of policy changes in the wake of the various investigations into its protest response. The department had increased training for using the 40mm launchers, separated the barricade rounds from the rubber bullets and was purchasing rubber bullets with distinctive blue tips, he said.

Further, the department had instituted policies putting the decision about when to use tear gas and the nonlethal rounds in the hands of lieutenants, not just lower-ranking sergeants, he said.

“I think we’ve addressed a lot of the issues that have come up,“ Navarro said. The department welcomed the public safety subcommittee meetings and further public discussion of its policies, he said, but he worried about restrictions on his officers’ use of nonlethal weapons.

“If we don’t have these particular options what do we have left?” if a protest turns violent or destructive, he said. “How do we resolve the situation? I have not heard from the public a particular solution.”

The documents, released under a state law that requires the publication of investigative reports into any police use of force that causes death or serious bodily injury, show that in January 2020 the Santa Rosa Police Department purchased 52 40mm launchers, with the ultimate goal of outfitting every patrol car with one of the weapons.

In separate procurements between 2018 and 2019, the department purchased the rounds designed to penetrate barricades, and “rubber bullets” designed for riot control. Both had black tips and were of a similar size and shape, but had distinctly different purposes.

The barricade rounds are designed to punch through a building or car window, or even a thin door, and release gas, Navarro said. They are designed for use in standoff situations with barricaded subjects.

Camera footage, interview transcripts and the disciplinary documents filed against two officers show how the procurement decisions and the tense demonstrations collided during a long night of protests as officers fired round after round from the 40mms.

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