Tag Archives: MN

Viral Facebook Live Video Shows Ohio Man Being Beaten and Punched During Arrest

Euclid Ohio Police Brutality Arrest Beating

A viral Facebook Live video shows a man being violently arrested in Euclid, Ohio.

A live-streamed video that was making its way around Facebook on August 12th (2017) shows a man being violently arrested in Euclid, OH. (Note: many of the people sharing the video had for some reason misidentified the location as Edina, MN.) As of right now, there aren’t a lot of details outside of what can be seen on the video. (That video is embedded below.)

Later in the evening, the Euclid Police Department did release a statement in which they said that the cops pulled a man named Richard Hubbard III, who is from Cleveland, over for a traffic violation. They then decided to arrest him for some unspecified reason. Euclid is a suburb of Cleveland.

According to the EPD statement, Hubbard refused to turn around and face away from them when the police officers ordered him to. Initially, there are two cops involved in the beating. Eventually, at least three other cops arrive and begin helping handcuff Hubbard.

The cop, that can be seen hitting Hubbard numerous times, including in the back of his head, has not been identified yet. Currently, he is on paid vacation while his co-workers perform an “investigation.”

A woman who can be seen recording with her cell phone apparently was arrested also once the other cops arrived.

Below, is the statement from the Euclid police, via Fox8.com in Cleveland:

Euclid police released a statement about the incident, saying that just before 10:30 a.m., an officer pulled over Richard Hubbard, 25, of Cleveland, for a moving/traffic violation near 240 East 228th Street.

Hubbard was ordered out of the car told to face away from the police as he was taken into custody. Police say that Hubbard ignored that order and began to physically resist as the officer took him into custody.

The violent struggle, pictured below, lasted for over 3 minutes.

Update: Partial dash cam video (also embedded below) has been released, which is included as an update to the previously cited Fox8.com post. However, it’s still not very clear even on that video why the police saw Hubbard as a threat when they initially decided to arrest him.

According to the new statement from police, Hubbard was being arrested for not having a license. In addition, although it isn’t shown on either video, the statement says that Hubbard was tased. (The taser can be seen being thrown onto the street after it apparently wasn’t effective.)

They also state that they thought he was going to run, but he appears to be boxed in between the car, the open car door, and the officer who would later assault him. It doesn’t seem like he would have much of an opportunity to run, even if that was his intention.

Bystander Video

Local News Report With Dash Cam Video

Homemade Shotgun Turned In For $100 at Minnesota “Buyback” Program Showcases the Futility of Gun Bans

Minnesota Buyback Program Wood Pipe ShotgunAlthough largely ineffective and mostly just for show, gun “buyback” programs are pretty common nationwide. They allow local governments and police departments to put out PR stories saying that they have removed “X” amount of guns from potentially falling into the hands of criminals. In reality, the low amounts paid for guns turned in at these type of dog and pony shows pretty much guarantee that the vast majority of those participating will only be giving up unwanted and often poorly maintained guns that barely fit the requirement that they be in working order, if at all.

Earlier this week, during a buyback program held by the Minneapolis Police Department someone took that to the next level and turned in a block of wood with a pipe duct taped to it in exchange for a $100 dollar gift card.

Via the Washington Free Beacon:

Minneapolis police purchased a homemade shotgun consisting of a piece of wood and lead pipe during a gun buyback program on Saturday.

The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, a state-based gun rights groups, announced on its Facebook page that a man had been paid $100 in gift certificates for a makeshift shotgun at the event. A picture of the shotgun posted on the group’s page illustrates the primitive nature of the firearm. The serial number, written in marker on the piece of wood, reads “BuyBacksDontWork01” and demonstrates the gun was created as a statement against such programs.

The original Facebook post by Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus:

Some people have expressed doubt about whether the story was real based on the idea that the gun was “obviously” not a functional weapon and wouldn’t be accepted. However, Minneapolis police spokeswoman Catherine Micheal confirmed that it was accepted during the buyback event, stating that it had been inspected and found to be operable in spite of it’s crude construction. And in all likelihood it is very much the case that this chunk of wood and pipe is a legitimate shotgun.

While that construction is incredibly crude, this type of shotgun is in fact a real and very functional firearm. Known as “slam fire shotguns,” homemade, manually fired shotguns are a real thing. Essentially, they consist of two pieces of pipe, a firing pin, and an improvised handle. The firing pin is installed within one of the pipes which is slightly larger in diameter than the pipe that holds the shotgun shell and is placed within the larger pipe. In order to fire the gun, the inner pipe is manually pulled back against the firing pin.

The design of these improvised weapons can be extremely rudimentary as in this case, however just by putting a little more work into it and upgrading the materials used, slam fire shotguns can be turned into very effective, but cheap weapons. If you watch the video embedded below, you’ll see an example of just how much potential one of these could have in the hands of a knowledgeable and skilled gun enthusiast.

Much of the reaction to this story has been to mock the effectiveness of gun buyback programs. There’s plenty of good reason for that. Now that this has gained a bit of attention people opposed to gun restrictions could set out to thwart buybacks by spending a few dollars (or less) on building a slam fire shotgun simply to turn it in at one. In fact, someone has reportedly already (this time unsuccessfully) attempted to try that approach by showing up at one such event with a “duffel bag full” of them. Of course, it wouldn’t be long before the police responded by not accepting them or making the exchange value low enough that it wouldn’t be worth the trouble.

There is a larger point that this highlights about gun bans, though. It’s simply impossible to legislate gun possession out of existence. One of the biggest flaws in the idea of gun bans is that, unless Superman comes along and uses his super speed to round up every gun in the world, then squeezes them into a giant ball and throws them out into space, guns will still exist and criminals will still acquire guns. In fact, the reality shown by this is that even if he did that and then every gun factory on the planet was bulldozed people would still have the ability to fairly easily manufacture a firearm that they could then throw at Superman after he deflects all their bullets. (I’m purposely leaving out the fact that gun bans never actually apply to all weapons just for the sake of argument.)

Zip guns, which slam-fire shotguns are a subset of, are nothing new. They were widely used by resistance forces in occupied areas during the Second World War. They were simply and cheaply made and could more than likely be accomplished as a “DIY” project. The United States Army even had a mass produced version of a zip gun made with the intention of airdropping them en masse into Nazi occupied territories of Europe. While they were not particularly accurate, long lasting, or effective when compared to military issue weapons, you potentially only had to use them once against an occupying soldier in order to acquire a better firearm.

Slam fire shotguns are legal in almost all states within the United States, but are mostly owned by collectors or people who just appreciate the novelty of them here. That’s because of the availability of professionally constructed guns within the country. However, not surprisingly, zip guns are quite popular in places with restrictive or outright prohibitions on guns.

Via Wikipedia:

Improvised firearms are most commonly encountered in regions with restrictive gun control laws. While popular in the United States in the 1950s, the “zip gun” has become less common because of the greater ease of obtaining firearms. In India, use of improvised country-made pistols is widespread, especially in the regions of Bihar and Purvanchal. The manufacture of these weapons has become a cottage industry, and the components are often manufactured from scrap material, such as gun barrels fashioned from trucksteering wheels.[3] In areas like South Africa, improvised firearms are more common. In a study of Zululand District Municipality, South Africa, it was found that most improvised firearms were crude, 12-gauge shotguns, with a simple pull and release firing mechanism; like the .22 rimfire cartridges; shotgun shells also operate at low pressures, making them more suited for use in weak, improvised barrels.[8] Even in the absence of ammunition, homemade powder can be used; such firearms were the subject of a crackdown in the People’s Republic of China in 2008.[6]

People will find a way.

Minnesota Gun Buyback Program Paid $100 For a Pipe Taped to a Piece of Wood

A slam fire shotgun that was turned in to a Minnesota buy back program for $100

In spite of how it looks, this “slam fire” shotgun is a functioning gun that legitimately was turned in to a Minnesota buyback program for $100.

Although largely ineffective and mostly just for show, gun “buyback” programs are pretty common nationwide. They allow local governments and police departments to put out PR stories saying that they have removed “X” amount of guns from potentially falling into the hands of criminals.

In reality, the low amounts paid for guns turned in at these type of dog and pony shows pretty much guarantee that the vast majority of those participating will only be giving up unwanted and often poorly maintained guns that barely fit the requirement that they be in working order, if at all.

Earlier this week, during a buyback program held by the Minneapolis Police Department someone took that to the next level and turned in a block of wood with a pipe duct taped to it in exchange for a $100 dollar gift card.

Via the Washington Free Beacon:

Minneapolis police purchased a homemade shotgun consisting of a piece of wood and lead pipe during a gun buyback program on Saturday.

The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, a state-based gun rights groups, announced on its Facebook page that a man had been paid $100 in gift certificates for a makeshift shotgun at the event. A picture of the shotgun posted on the group’s page illustrates the primitive nature of the firearm. The serial number, written in marker on the piece of wood, reads “BuyBacksDontWork01” and demonstrates the gun was created as a statement against such programs.

The original Facebook post by Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus:

Some people have expressed doubt about whether the story was real based on the idea that the gun was “obviously” not a functional weapon and wouldn’t be accepted. However, Minneapolis police spokeswoman Catherine Micheal confirmed that it was accepted during the buyback event, stating that it had been inspected and found to be operable in spite of it’s crude construction. And in all likelihood it is very much the case that this chunk of wood and pipe is a legitimate shotgun.

While the construction is incredibly crude in this instance, this type of shotgun is in fact a real and very functional firearm. Known as “slam fire shotguns,” homemade, manually fired shotguns are a real thing. Essentially, they consist of two pieces of pipe, a firing pin, and an improvised handle. The firing pin is installed within one of the pipes which is slightly larger in diameter than the pipe that holds the shotgun shell, which is placed within the larger pipe. In order to fire the gun, the inner pipe is manually pulled back against the firing pin.

The design of these improvised weapons can be extremely rudimentary as in this case, however just by putting a little more work into it and upgrading the materials used slam fire shotguns can be turned into very effective, but cheap weapons. If you watch the video embedded below, you’ll see an example of just how much potential one of these could have in the hands of a knowledgeable and skilled gun enthusiast.

Much of the reaction to this story has been to mock the effectiveness of gun buyback programs. There’s plenty of good reason for that. Now that this has gained a bit of attention people opposed to gun restrictions could set out to thwart buybacks by spending a few dollars (or less) on building slam fire shotguns simply to turn them in at one of the buybacks. In fact, someone has reportedly already (this time unsuccessfully) attempted to try that approach by showing up at one such event with a “duffel bag full” of them. Of course, it likely wouldn’t be long before the police responded by not accepting them or making the exchange value low enough that it wouldn’t be worth the trouble.

There is a larger point that this highlights about gun bans, though. It’s simply impossible to legislate gun possession out of existence. One of the biggest flaws in the idea of gun bans is that, unless Superman comes along and uses his super speed to round up every gun in the world, then squeezes them into a giant ball and throws them out into space, guns will still exist and criminals will still acquire guns. In fact, the reality shown by this is that, even if he did do that and then every gun factory on the planet was bulldozed over, people would still have the ability to fairly easily manufacture a firearm that they could then throw at Superman after he deflects all their bullets. (I’m purposely leaving out the fact that gun bans never actually apply to all weapons just for the sake of argument.)

Zip guns, which slam-fire shotguns are a subset of, are nothing new. They were widely used by resistance forces in occupied areas during the Second World War. They were simply and cheaply made and can be accomplished as a “DIY” project. The United States Army even had a mass produced version of a zip gun made with the intention of airdropping them en masse into the Nazi occupied territories of Europe. While they were not particularly accurate, long lasting, or effective when compared to military issue weapons, you potentially only had to use them once against an occupying soldier in order to acquire a better firearm.

Slam fire shotguns are legal in almost all states within the United States, but are mostly owned by collectors or people who just appreciate the novelty of them here. That’s because of the availability of professionally constructed guns within the country. However, not surprisingly, zip guns are quite popular in places with restrictive or outright prohibitions on guns.

Via Wikipedia:

Improvised firearms are most commonly encountered in regions with restrictive gun control laws. While popular in the United States in the 1950s, the “zip gun” has become less common because of the greater ease of obtaining firearms. In India, use of improvised country-made pistols is widespread, especially in the regions of Bihar and Purvanchal. The manufacture of these weapons has become a cottage industry, and the components are often manufactured from scrap material, such as gun barrels fashioned from trucksteering wheels.[3] In areas like South Africa, improvised firearms are more common. In a study of Zululand District Municipality, South Africa, it was found that most improvised firearms were crude, 12-gauge shotguns, with a simple pull and release firing mechanism; like the .22 rimfire cartridges; shotgun shells also operate at low pressures, making them more suited for use in weak, improvised barrels.[8] Even in the absence of ammunition, homemade powder can be used; such firearms were the subject of a crackdown in the People’s Republic of China in 2008.[6]

People will find a way.

Related Content on NVCopBlock.org:

Even the Police Are Saying “F=ck The Police!” At This Point

Earlier this month, a St. Louis Park (Minnesota) police officer was arrested for driving drunk after hitting a parked car outside a bar that she (presumably) had been getting drunk inside.

More surprising than the fact that she was an off-duty cop, had attempted to flee the scene, or even the fact that the cops who caught her actually arrested her was that she chose that moment to display a bit of workplace discontent. She’s also apparently a fan of NWA and was in dire need of a bathroom break.

So yeah, this happened…

Via Fox9.com:

Chaunte Lee Ford, 27, is charged with third-degree DWI, collision with an unattended vehicle, careless driving, and interfering with a peace office for the Aug. 5 incident outside of the NE Palace Bar.

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According to the criminal complaint, an off-duty police officer was walking toward the bar when he heard a loud crash. Multiple patrons standing in front of the bar yelled and waved their arms, saying the car that hit the parked vehicle was driving away. The off-duty officer saw a Toyota Scion driving slowly down Lowry Avenue with the front airbag deployed. The car was also driving on the rim of the right front tire.

When asked if the Scion was her car, Ford began to cry and said that she was a police officer and that she was sorry. As other officers arrived, Ford stood by the trunk of the car, hysterically crying. According to the complaint, she said, “I f—ed up!” several times.

Ford was allegedly “hostile to the officers” and made “obscene gestures and comments toward them.” When asked if she needed an ambulance, Ford yelled, “F— you. I don’t need an ambulance. F— that and f— you.” She also made general anti-police statements such as, “F— the police! I f—ing hate cops and I hate that I’m a cop! All you guys do is harass black people!”

At one point, Ford pulled down her pants, squatted on the ground and urinated. She refused to take a field sobriety test, refused to take a breath test and refused to be handcuffed. Ford eventually took a breath test, which registered a .20 BAC.

BTW, I’m not gonna say she’s wrong in her statements, in fact I think more cops should be honest about the nature of their profession, but #JusSayin that probably wasn’t the time or place to come out with it. Based on the past behavior of the Good Cops who show up and find a Bad Apple drunkenly ramming into things, there’s a pretty decent chance she would have just gotten a ride home and very disappointed look from them and possibly a slightly sore wrist.

False Arrest and Assault at Menards After Refusing Search

The following post and video was shared with the CopBlock Network by Charles M. Waters, via the Cop Block Submissions Page.

Along with the video description, Charles states:

I would love if everyone could spread, embed, and post my video. I am also trying to get a crowd funding campaign going to pay for my attorney, to take this fight to THEM.

Date of incident: March 27th, 2016
Officers Involved: Officer Newbury,  Badge #147; Officer Kirchner, Badge # 131; Officer Madson, Badge #85
Department Involved: Coon Rapids Police Department
Phone No.: (763) 767-6481
Address: 11155 Robinson Dr NW, Coon Rapids, MN 55433

I never participate in “receipt verification”, and previously have never had a problem. I have a real issue (apparently due to autism) with my privacy and property, and never felt OK with having to submit anything I own to “inspection”. I feel that if a store wishes to treat paying customers like assumed criminals, they have no business being in business.

So on this date, I had already given my receipt four times to three different people just to get my merchandise. I showed my receipt AND proof I actually picked up my merchandise, to the gate guard. He insisted I open my trunk, but I refused. He said “You could have anything you want in that trunk”, to which I asked if he had any evidence I took anything I did not pay for.

They refused to open the gate, so I called police as I was being falsely imprisoned at this point. Police arrived, and although I was the complainant, they only spoke with the manager of the store. Then they demanded I open my trunk. I refused. They said they would get a warrant, I invited them to do so.

Instead, they searched me, THEN handcuffed me and placed me in a squad car. I was told that they would just leave me there and I would not be let out until I complied with a search they could not get a warrant for. Then they went after my wife, told her neither of us would leave “today” until she opened the trunk. She reluctantly complied, out of fear they would do the same to her.

Whatever you may think of what I should or should not do with respect to opening my trunk, these facts remain:

  1. I had not committed any crime, nor had I even been ACCUSED of one.
  2. I was the one calling to report a crime that Menards was, in fact, committing against ME, and all the elements of that crime were readily apparent to officers.
  3. They said they would get a warrant, but they knew they could NOT.
  4. Knowing that they could not get a warrant, they caused deliberate harm to compel us to do something they could not lawfully accomplish.
  5. Upon being proven innocent, of a crime no one accused, I was deliberately assaulted without any cause or reason.

The Chief of Police has said in so many words his officers actions were appropriate and within the confines of the Constitution.
They can literally just cuff you and put you in a squad car, and threaten to keep you and your wife from your children indefinitely, when they can’t get a warrant. They can “compel” you to “comply”.

Here is where you can tell the arresting officer how you feel.
Coon Rapids Police Department

And feel free to review the police derp-artment here:
Coon Rapids Police Department – Reviews

– Charles M. Waters

Questionable FBI Surveillance Aircraft Fleet Outed by Coalition of Journalists, Activists, And Techies

The following post was submitted to the CopBlock Network by Isiah Holmes, who has been featured several times previously on Cop Block, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. In this post, Isiah discusses the use of aircraft FBI to conduct surveillance and the role that private citizens (along with the media) played in uncovering and exposing the program’s existence and just how widespread its use is.

(Note: The FBI’s use of surveillance aircraft to spy on activists and protesters was also discussed by Asa J in an earlier post published in August of last year.)

Mice Chasing The Hawk

There exists a variety of stories notorious — amongst those whom it concerns — for their uncanny quality of illuminating hidden plights and unsung heroes. Such tales, unfortunately, rarely experience veneration in modern western society. For the sake of this piece, think not of the many examples of centuries old legends and fables. Instead, accept the challenge of recognizing just one of this variety’s countless modern manifestations. For instance, when a loose coalition of professional and citizen journalists, activists, and techies blew the lid off the FBI’s questionable, nationwide aerial surveillance program. Blew the lid–only to have the story locked into a press loop where it ultimately succumbed to starvation. This piece might be considered a functional revival of the tale.

It began in Baltimore in 2015, after Freddie Gray’s death in police custody and during the subsequent protests and riots. Cameras were everywhere, whether belonging to Baltimore PD, press, bystanders or active civic dissidents. No one, however, anticipated cameras and cell phone collection tech, for that matter, having circled above them for days. International Business Times reports, Benjamin Shayne, leader of the police radio site www.scanbaltimore.com, was among the first to notice unusual air traffic. Shayne took to Twitter: “Anyone know who has been flying the light plane in circles above the city for the past few nights?” The planes, according to IBT, which flew from April 30th-May 2nd 2015, appeared shortly after Baltimore initiated a city-wide curfew.

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Following Benjamin’s tip, a coalition of Twitter and Reddit users, including one former ACLU employee, united to monitor the planes. According to IBT, a trove of data on the aircraft was compiled through their combined talents. Exact flight paths, docking airports, and owners were tracked. The planes were now being watched back.

According to a Washington Post piece, although one plane appeared to lack a tail number, a second was tracked back to “NG Research.” The company’s website boasts of expertise in air quality, aerosol chemistry, and health effects, but speaks not on why its plane was over Baltimore that day.

Once questions started flooding web feeds, the FBI, surprisingly, released a statement glistening with trepidation. “The aircraft,” officials said; according to the Washington Post, “were specifically used to provide high altitude observation of potential criminal activity to enable rapid response by police officials on the ground.” An Improv Online investigation into suspicious planes had–undoubtedly–forced “The Man” to come forward publicly on this “program.” Perhaps it’s safe to say that information, or rather free information, is power.

Due to the government’s reluctance, as well as technology concerns, the ACLU filed several FOIA requests. In tandem with the ACLU’s push, the Associated Press launched their own in depth investigation on the aircraft’s purpose and origin. As it turns out, an entire FBI controlled surveillance-purposed fleet waited for them at the end of the rabbit hole.

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The manned planes, carrying both powerful cameras, including infrared cameras, and cell phone data collection technology reputedly operate above cities quite often. All the craft, the Huffpost reports, are superficially attached not to a government program, but to fictitious companies used as fronts. Many sources reported on the infrared camera’s capabilities of literally seeing people inside of homes. The very nature of the technology is rather wide reaching and indiscriminate, meaning non-targets frequently are recorded. A 2001 Supreme Court decision, Kyllo v. United States, Washington Post reports, held using thermal imagers to “see details” inside enclosed buildings without a warrant amounts to an unlawful search.

AP journalists also discovered that despite the program’s capabilities, deployments are rarely approved by a judge. In light of this fact, according to the Huffington Post, FBI asserts the planes are deployed only for specific, ongoing investigations. Exactly what sort of investigations is entirely unclear.

In fact, nearly a year later, even basic information on the program is vigorously withheld. In terms of explicit references, the HuffPost reports, little more than already heavily censored Justice Department Inspector General reports is public. “The FBI’s aviation program is not secret”, says spokesman Christopher Allen. “Specific aircraft”, he continues, “and their capabilities are protected for operational purposes.” Allen, according to the HuffPost, asserts the planes are not “equipped, designed, or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance.” The FBI also, apparently, allocates the fleet as air support for local departments, on-request.

fbi-spy-plane-2-bSuch statements downplaying the possibility of bulk data collection do nothing, however, to explain the plane’s flight patterns. The AP, the HuffPost reports, uncovered flights orbiting large, enclosed buildings for extended periods of time. These areas, such as Virginia’s Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Minnesota’s Mall Of America, made photo surveillance unlikely. Rather, electronic signals collection, the AP found, proves far more effective under such circumstances. The FBI planes, according to the AP’s flight data analysis, by 2015 had flown over at least 40,000 residents.

Conversely, officials did attribute gear capable of identifying people by their cellphones, even when not making calls, to the craft. Officials, the HuffPost echoed, say such devices, which mimic cellphone towers into providing basic subscriber information, are rarely deployed. The FBI’s cryptic program, sources claim, conjures memories of reports of suspicious planes circling US neighborhoods in 2003.

Through its investigation, the Associated Press was able to track 50 planes down to at least 13 fake companies. No, this is not hyperbole. They’re literally fraudulent, not real, lies, or whatever synonym you care to choose. FVX Research, KQM Aviation, NBR aviation, and PXW Services, according to the Huffington Post, were included among the AP’s findings. It’s interesting to note that, at least with these four companies, all have three letter acronym names. Not, of course, unlike the Federal Bureau of Investigations. A 2010 federal budget document, according to the HuffPost, verified the FBI’s fleet size at around 115 craft.

So really, to what extent is the federal law enforcement organization being brazenly, shamelessly deceptive? The FBI, according to the HuffPost, did ask the AP to not include any company names in its reporting. The bureau reputedly used the taxpayer dollars which would go towards replacing the disclosed companies as a kind of blackmail. Classy. The AP, of course, declined the FBI’s request as only publicly accessible information was used.

Most of the aircraft, despite belonging to different “companies”, were registered under a specific name–Robert Lindley. Registration documents signed by Lindley’s hand, HuffPost reports, display at least three distinct signatures. Hoping to verify the man’s existence, the AP has tried and failed to reach Robert through multiple Washington-area phone numbers under that name. FBI officials, to this day, refuse to comment on whether or not Lindley is a government employee.

By analyzing the plane’s flight data, journalists discovered the FBI fleet flew over more than 30 cities over a 30 day period. Since April 2015, two months before the Huffington Post piece, at least 100 flights circled both major cities and rural areas. Associated Press photographers even captured an image of a plane circling like a ghostly hawk in northern Virginia’s skies. The aircraft, the HuffPost reports, sported both a variety of suspicious antenna under its fuselage and a mounted camera.

Cities on the FBI’s flight list include: Houston, Phoenix, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, and southern California. Some of these cities, a quick google search reveals, were subject to recent protests and/or civil unrest, such as California, Chicago and, of course, Baltimore. Despite any such public data professional and citizen journalists, analysts, or researchers may gleam, fundamental questions abound. What precisely is the purpose or function of this specific program? How long has it been operational, and under what laws is it bound or regulated? Where does excess data and footage go? How far is too far?

FBI Surveillance BaltimoreDespite the FBI’s recent downplaying of its surveillance program, its statement before congress in 2009 really says it all. “Aircraft surveillance has become an indispensable intelligence collection and investigative technique which serves as a force multiplier to the ground teams.” According to the Huffington Post, this was part of the FBI’s bid to Congress for $5.1 million in funding for the so-called “spy plane” program.

Ask yourself, what does this statement and the amount of money the FBI requested, taken either alone or together, say about the program? Does it seem like its aircraft and the technology they’re equipped with would be so rarely utilized as officials claim? “A lot of questions are unclear”, says ACLU staff attorney Nathan Wessler, the Washington Post reports.

Is it safe to suppose at least part of the programs mandate involves surveillance of generously populated protests, rowdy or otherwise? Almost sensing the question lurking about its flank the Justice Department, the HuffPost reports, maintained its “drones” don’t deploy “solely” to monitor First Amendment protected activity. In Baltimore’s case, according to FBI and Federal Aviation Administration documents, both night vision and inferred tech scanned crowds below. The documents, Washington Post reports, were obtained by the ACLU through Freedom Of Information Act requests.

An FBI official, under anonymity due to the programs sensitive nature, claimed the planes were ensuring public safety. The official, according to Washington Post, used a “potential for large scale violence and riots” as justification. “Potential”, suggesting the planes were in the air before the ground atmosphere went agro. In case you’re wondering, documents also showed no evidence of a warrant being obtained prior or after the Baltimore operation.

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If there’s at all a silver lining in any of this, it’s how much independent people really contributed to the story. Most of the information used to track, verify, and ultimately link the planes to FBI’s program hid within a slush of online data. Even the Associated Press wouldn’t have conducted an investigation had Benjamin Shayne not first tweeted about the suspicious planes. A decentralized online contingent of bloggers and Reddit users, not the organized press, was the first to conduct any serious inquiry. It’s an utter travesty that the same headline, “FBI behind mysterious surveillance aircraft over cities”, along with nearly the same AP articles, were published across the board. If that’s not a press loop then a challenge goes out to anyone who can give a more textbook example.

For anyone interested conducting a more concurrent investigation, technologist John Wiseman, Fusion.net reports, has some tips to offer. Wiseman himself used public records to get flight routes, some of which can be found online. One would be surprised what kind of legitimate information floats about the slush untouched simply because no one, except those who care, bothers to look. John also reputedly used a modified radio receiver to pick up aircraft transmissions, and tracked tail numbers, provided by the Washington Post, to a fake company. Wiseman, Fusion.net reports, recommends sites like flightradar20 and flightaware for tracking aircraft registration numbers.

Here’s where this blog gets functional! Anyone willing, able, and/or both are by all means invited to rehash the investigation. Larger news organizations might feel subliminal pressure from the feds to keep quiet, edit stories, or what have you, but the people will not. How hard would it be to, say, check up on new data on the already “found out” planes? Where are they now? Have they traded hands or do the front-companies still stand? Speaking of the “companies”, they’re fair game too! NG Research, for example, has a website which can be easily found by googling the company name. No, there isn’t any product listings on the page. No, the page hasn’t changed for over a year despite it apparently being an actual company. A functional revival of the FBI’s surveillance program, even if not published, may prove uniquely valuable in the days to come.

– Isiah Holmes

Minnesota Cop Caught Stealing From Kids’ Holiday Toy Drive And Drugs From County Drop Box

Deputy Travis Sebring definitely has to be the front runner for Police Officer of the Year with this entry into the “Most Inappropriate Crime Spree” portion of the annual Bad Apple Pageant and Parade.

Via the SCTimes.com:

A Meeker County sheriff’s deputy charged with stealing from the county law enforcement center and courthouse has resigned, the sheriff’s office announced Thursday.

Travis Sebring appeared in court Thursday facing four felonies, including three counts of drug possession and one count of theft. A criminal complaint against Sebring says he stole multiple times from a drop box for excess prescription drugs, stole two large garbage bags full of toys from a county Christmas toy drive, and also stole a wooden chair from a government building.

According to the complaint:

Chief Deputy Dan Miller saw Sebring, who was off-duty at the time, digging through the drug drop box on Nov. 25. The drop box is meant for members of the public to drop off excess prescription drugs for proper disposal, and as a deputy Sebring had a key to the box. Sheriff Brian Cruze then reviewed video surveillance of the area where the box is located and saw a pattern of Sebring digging in the box, taking out a bag, leaving view of the camera, and then returning and placing the bag back in the box.

On Dec. 19, Cruze reviewed video of Sebring walking through the basement of the courthouse carrying two full garbage bags. The basement was full of toys donated for a program providing toys to families in need of holiday assistance. Sebring took the bags into his squad car and left with them at the end of his shift, the complaint states.

On Jan. 2, Cruze viewed video of Sebring taking a wooden chair from the courthouse and placing it in his squad vehicle before ending his shift and leaving with the chair.

On Tuesday, sheriff’s investigators placed two bottles of a controlled substance in a plastic bag and left it in the drop box. Around 30 minutes later, Sebring took the bag from the box, and he later returned it empty, the complaint states. When investigators approached him, he admitted he had been stealing from the box for up to a year for personal use. He also admitted he took toys from the toy drive and gave them to family members. And he said he had taken the chair and it was currently in his garage.

Authorities searched his home and found several toys, the chair, and more than 100 prescription medication tablets.

Admittedly, it’s early in the year and some cops are able to get well below the typical and expected levels of scumbag limbo almost as if they’ve been formally trained to do so. However, it’s hard to see someone beat getting drugged up on stolen drugs, while literally stealing toys from children. (At Christmas, no less.) The wooden chair thing is a bit confusing, but I’m assuming that counts toward some sort of tie-breaker or bonus points on the Bizarro World Point Scale. So, he’s got that extra cushion inside his bag of stolen toys, as well. (You saw what I did here.)

I suppose there’s always room for a dark horse to play spoiler, but it’s hard to even envision that happening at this point. Well played Former Deputy Sebring!

Head of Minneapolis Police Union (Only) Fired After Vicious Assault on Handcuffed Prisoner

Officer Blayne Lehner, who was also the elected (by all those Good Cops trying to rout out the Bad Apples within the Twin Cities) director of the Police Officer’s Federation of Minneapolis, has been fired after being named in at least his second major lawsuit involving excessive force and civil rights violations within the past three years.

In this particular instance, Ofc. Lehner brutally kicked a man in the face, who was already handcuffed and sitting in the back of a police car. Not surprisingly, in spite of the massive and undoubtedly permanent damage his attack caused to his victim, Lehner is not facing any sort of charges and his firing is the only sort of repercussions that will result.

Via Fox 9 News:

The most recent lawsuit was filed last August as a result of a traffic stop near this south Minneapolis coffee shop in December 2013.  Lehner is accused of kicking 18-year old Luis Garcia in the face. Garcia was said to be handcuffed and in the back of a squad car at the time.

Garcia’s lawsuit reads in part, “Lehner’s vicious kick broke plaintiff’s jaw; an open fracture causing the bone to protrude through his gums and knocked out his two front teeth.”

It further states that Garcia’s injuries required multiple root canals, his jaw to be wired shut, stitches to his lower lip and severe lingering headaches.

That’s quite the representative the police union has out there in Minneapolis. BTW, Lehner was the second cop from Minneapolis to be fired recently. Previously, Officer Rod Weber was recorded on a suspect’s cell phone threatening to break his leg. The Federation is expected to fight hard to get both of these Heroes back into their magical uniforms as quickly as possible.

Former Minnesota Deputy Admits Pawning Items Seized as Evidence

Former Ramsey County Deputy Thomas Keith Rudenick agreed to a plea deal late last month involving property he received as evidence in crimes he was investigating. Former Deputy Rudenick admitted in his guilty plea that instead of checking the items into evidence or returning them to the victims, who they had been stolen from originally, he pawned them and kept the money he received from those illegal sales.

Rudenick had retired on February 1st from the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office after 25 years. His thievery was actually discovered as a result.

According to the criminal complaint:

Rudenick’s department colleagues divvied up items and files left in his office after he retired and began checking on cases that appeared to be unresolved.

In one case, an officer called the victim of a residence theft to confirm Rudenick had returned her items and learned that he had not.

The items had not been entered into evidence, so the officer checked the automated pawn system and discovered Rudenick had pawned items matching those reported stolen in the case.

The Washington County attorney’s office was asked to handle the investigation to avoid a conflict of interest.

In all, Rudenick pawned items valued at $4,600 to $5,200 between December 2014 and May 2015, according to the charges.

Former Ramsey County Deputy Thomas Rudenick

Former Ramsey County Deputy Thomas Rudenick

In spite of Rudenick having agreed to plead guilty to a felony charge, his plea deal stipulated that he would only have to serve not any more than 30 days in jail. He also agreed to pay restitution to the rightful owners of the property he pawned. An additional gross misdemeanor that he was originally charged with was dismissed as part of the plea deal, as well. His formal sentencing is scheduled for December 18th.

Andrew Henderson Meets with Minn. Chief Over Previous Police Intimidation For Filming

Andrew Henderson Police ReportRecently, Ademo posted about an interaction Andrew Henderson, a CopBlocker from the St. Paul area in Minnesota, had with a police officer who had tried to intimidate him because he was filming near a police station. This happened shortly after the St. Paul Police Department held a seat belt enforcement campaign that was really just a thinly veiled opportunity for revenue generation.

Knowing that many police themselves don’t wear seat belts when driving, Andrew decided to go down to a location near the police station and film to see how many he could find disregarding the rule that they had just placed such a heavy emphasis on for regular citizens. Not surprisingly, he had no problem whatsoever spotting officers hypocritically ignoring the seat belt law.

Not long after, an employee of the St. Paul Police Department, Officer Alba-Reyes, drove up to where Henderson was filming. During the interaction between Alba-Reyes and Andrew (which can be viewed in its entirety in the video below), the officer misstates several laws, including that he has a right to detain Henderson for filming and that the public sidewalk is actually private property. He then threatens to arrest him “if he continues trespassing on private property.”

About a month later, Andrew had a meeting with St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith concerning this incident and the behavior of that officer. This included several inconsistencies and omissions within the official police report that was filed by Alba-Reyes. However, it apparently didn’t include an update on the St. Paul Police Department’s investigation into whether public sidewalks are in fact public or private property. (Make sure you check out Andrew’s YouTube channel for lots of great informative videos.)

During my meeting with Chief Tom Smith, I expressed my concerns on my encounter with officer Armando Alba-Reyes while…

Posted by Andrew J Henderson on Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Below is Andrews summary of that meeting via a Facebook post:

During my meeting with Chief Tom Smith, I expressed my concerns on my encounter with officer Armando Alba-Reyes while recording police officers from a public sidewalk.

  • Officer Alba-Reyes stated in his report that I was using a “bypod”, which I was not. I do not own or have ever used a bipod. The pictures he took would have proved this.
  • Officer Alba-Reyes seemed to believe that I do not have access to the Saint Paul Police policy manual, though it is publicly available at: http://www.stpaul.gov/DocumentCenter/View/70740.
  • Once I was threatened with arrest if I did not leave, I immediately walked to my vehicle and drove home, and did not continue to film vehicles as officer Alba-Reyes stated in his report, the video can be found here: https://youtu.be/J9P-4kV7Z9k.
  • Officer Alba-Reyes never turned in the pictures he took of me to the Saint Paul Police Department data vault as he is required to under Minnesota Statutes Chapter 13, and did not include them in this report.
  • There was a dashcam in the police vehicle as indicated in the report, but officer Alba-Reyes either did not turn it on or decided to not upload the content to the Saint Paul Police Department data vault.

The encounter can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/ONQXJjY_Yfk?t=4m38s (Also embedded below – editor)

Chief Smith understood my concerns, but could not give me answers as to why Officer Alba-Reyes report was not entirely factual or what happened to the photos he took of me.

I encouraged Chief Smith to adopt a policy regarding citizens filming law enforcement officers as recommended by the Department of Justice (http://www.justice.gov/…/spl/documents/Sharp_ltr_5-14-12.pdf), in addition to submitting a couple of policies to him and his staff from other agencies such as the District of Columbia Police Department (https://go.mpdconline.com/GO/GO_304_19.pdf) and the Department of Homeland Security (http://mocek.org/…/2…/06/DHS-FPS-Bulletin-HQ-IB-012-2010.pdf), as well as case law about citizens First Amendment right to document law enforcement personnel engaged in their public duties (http://media.ca1.uscourts.gov/pdf.opinions/10-1764P-01A.pdf), and to better train officers on engagement with those who chronicle police occurrences.

I hope Chief Smith will take this opportunity to transition and advance with this paradigm shift in policing.

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