Elections cops all set to respect Black people's rights just like regular cops do.
The Florida legislature, in a bid to steal the title of "national laboratory for bad government" from Texas's state Lege, voted Wednesday to give Gov. Ron DeSantis another item on his 2022 wish list. DeSantis pined in January for an entire law enforcement agency aimed at preventing election fraud, which is as extremely rare in Florida as anywhere else, and now he's got almost what he wanted, if downsized a bit.
DeSantis had requested that the Legislature spend $6 million to set up a new "Office of Election Crimes and Security," with a statewide staff of 53 employees and, we'd assume, full tactical gear so it can storm and subdue unruly voters who attempt to subvert the vote by giving water to old people waiting in line to vote. Instead, the Washington Post explains, the legislature gave him a $2.5 million squad that will have just 25 employees. The Post didn't offer details on what amount of the budget will be allocated to outfit each election cop with the most voter-intimidating mirrored sunglasses available.
As we noted when DeSantis first floated this awful idea, Florida's 2020 election fraud seems to have been limited to three retired folks from the Villages, all Republicans, who were charged with voting in both Florida and by absentee ballot in other states. We sure hope the new election cops can handle coming caseloads, with only eight or so cops per frauder instead of the 17 DeSantis wanted.
The Post notes that the vote cops will be the first such police force in the nation, although you have to figure that every Republican governor who has an eye on higher office will be demanding one now. The agency will be part of the Florida Department of State, so it will answer directly to DeSantis, at least when the officers aren't napping at their desks waiting for some fraud to happen.
Haha! As if! You see, to go along with the new voting cops, the Legislature enacted some brand new restrictions on voting, just to keep them busy — on top of the new election law that Florida passed just last year, which apparently didn't include enough voter suppression measures already.
Among the fresh new terrors will be an all-new ban on "ballot harvesting," which is the scary term Republicans use for what had until last year been a common practice: collecting absentee ballots at a church or community center and then delivering them to election offices. Despite there not having been any fraud resulting from the practice, it was banned in last year's voting law; the new measure passed yesterday ups the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony if someone possesses more than two absentee ballots. Each count will be subject to a fine up to $50,000 and five years in prison, so if you have two elderly aunts, be sure you deliver both their ballots to the elections office before you mail your own.
“So now we’re criminalizing certain acts around the elections process that most folks, particularly in the Black community, have long held as a way to assist those in need,” said Genesis Robinson, political director of Equal Ground, a voting rights advocacy group. “To spend time in jail for simply trying to be a good neighbor, that’s a problem.”
In addition, the legislature requires county election supervisors to purge voter rolls annually, instead of the previous every two years. We'll assume that next year, that will be changed to a monthly purge of inactive voters, regardless of whether there's been an election between purges. Another new rule imposed a $1000 fine for switching a voter's party registration without their consent. That one at least addresses something real, since in February, more than 100 senior citizens in Miami found out their party affiliation had become "Republican" without their having requested a change.
And in a move that's sure to make everyone stop complaining about the 2021 law's restrictions on absentee ballot drop boxes, the name has been changed to “secure ballot intake stations.” You can see why something important like THAT would have to be harder to use. (The Post notes that the restrictions on drop boxes is being challenged in federal court; no word on whether renaming them will make that lawsuit moot.)
It's not clear what other red state legislatures will come up with to match or top Florida's new election police. Mandatory frisking of all voters? DNA tests before voting? Life imprisonment for going outside the little circles on the ballot? Sales of surplus fighter-bomber aircraft to county elections bureaus?
We're looking forward to these and other innovations. America is built on the sanctity of the ballot box, and the best way to ensure the integrity of our elections is to make sure they're protected from common voters.
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It’s a bold move.
Perhaps the biggest bipartisan applause moment during President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address that didn’t involve dragging Vladimir Putin came when he vowed to rain cool, hard cash on the police:
We should all agree: The answer is not to defund the police. It's to fund the police. Fund them. Fund them. Fund them with resources and training.
Everyone knows that the “Defund the Police” slogan is why George Floyd was murdered and Breonna Taylor was fatally shot in her own bed. Someone needed to stop the slogan before it killed again. White moderates who are at no risk from police violence have graciously offered some replacements like “Defund Police Brutality” or “Fund Police Accountability” or “Maybe Only Kill Half As Many Black People This Year.” Those are all greatly appreciated, but Biden didn’t actually unveil a new police reform slogan Tuesday night like an updated iPhone. He was more like Tim Cook shrugging and saying, “Let’s give that 1990s iMac another shot.”
I’m told that Biden was just doing that wonderful bipartisan triangulation where on the surface, he's directly appealing to white suburbanites but if you read between the lines and squint hard, what he’s really saying is, “We’re going to fix police violence with more resources and training.” The problem is that American law enforcement is systemically broken. If you fund additional resources and training for the mob, you can assume they’ll use it to become more efficient mobsters with flashier pinky rings. Sure, it’d be nice if they used that extra money to move away from their whacking lifestyle, but you don’t want to take that on faith.
We’ve been through this already: The police collectively don’t believe they need better training and have frequently insisted the actions that result in dead Black people is the product of all that great training. Cops don’t “oopsie” into lethal choke holds. This is how they’re trained, and if you ban the choke hold, you might as well let murderers run rampant through the streets.
The police are deliberately trained to become a militaristic, occupying force that sees every civilian (especially within communities of color) as a potential lethal threat. New York Times columnist David Brooks of all people acknowledged this in a feature for The Atlantic, "The Culture of Policing Is Broken":
Recruits are told that a guy with a knife 21 feet away can run up and stab you before you have the chance to draw your gun. Even when your gun is drawn on someone with his back turned, he can pivot and pull his trigger before you have the chance to fire. Recruits listen to the desperate radio cries of officers killed in the line of duty, and the message is: Don’t ever let this happen to you. When in doubt, as the saying goes, it is “better to be judged by 12 than carried by six.”
Democrats rightly don’t want to lose elections to MAGA dolts because of what they believe is bad messaging. What’s important to understand is that it’s not just “Defund the Police” that’s a “bad message,” it’s police reform in general. Democrats did try to negotiate police reform after George Floyd’s murder, but Republicans gutted anything meaningful, such as ending qualified immunity, before Senator Tim Scott torpedoed the deal outright. He later accused Democrats, including his buddy Cory Booker, of trying to defund the police, even though the bill would’ve offered more funds for "mental health resources, data collection, officer recruitment and body cameras." Scott selectively defined “defunding” as not rewarding the police departments that keep Derek Chauvins on the force.
SCOTT: Here's what we know: We have about $1 billion in grant money that goes to police. When you start saying, "In order to receive those dollars, you must do A, B and C. And if you don't do A, B and C, you literally lose eligibility for the two major pots of money — the Byrne grants and the COP grants — when you tell local law enforcement agencies that you are ineligible for money, that's defunding the police, there's no way to spin that.
Cops have happily profited off BS reforms — like in Seattle, where the police department added training sessions to comply with a 2012 court agreement with the US Department of Justice that required Seattle to curb excessive force and biased policing. Officer Ron Morgan Willis made a fortune in overtime pay while running these sessions that produced no constructive results. However, police have consistently protested most bitterly whenever one of their own is held accountable for hospitalizing an old man or shooting a suspect in the back.
The police are untouchable “made men,” and Americans of all races will desperately pony up what’s required to maintain their “protection.” The Black victims of police violence whose names become trending hashtags are considered the collateral damage from preserving law and order. Push the police too hard, demand too much — as in any — accountability and they’ll just quit. Then where you will be? In The Purge, that’s where!
In 2019, Biden admitted that supporting some of the more draconian measures in the 1994 crime bill was a “big mistake.” But it was the same pattern: Democrats needed to present as “tough on crime” and they couldn’t stop to think about the fallout on already vulnerable communities. President Bill Clinton said at the time:
"Gangs and drugs have taken over our streets and undermined our schools," he said. "Every day, we read about somebody else who has literally gotten away with murder."
Criminologists have since confirmed that the “soaring murder rates and violent crime had already begun what would become a long downward turn” when the crime bill was passed. Improving economic conditions can do more than cops cracking skulls, but more cops became indelibly linked with safer streets. And it’s happening again.
Biden’s remarks are probably a sound political move, but don’t pretend that it has anything to do with actual police reform. I once believed the “bad apple” theory of law enforcement and then I started talking to the “good apples.” All I can do now is hope my son and I don’t become the next trending hashtag.
Follow Stephen Robinson on Twitter.
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Ottawa PD could be making up some shit, it has definitely happened before.
Police in Ottawa have started arresting protesters in an effort to break up the rightwing "Freedom Convoy" today. Yesterday, police arrested two leaders of the occupation, Tamara Lich and Chris Barber, and today, the BBC reports, police have set up nearly 100 checkpoints around the area near Parliament Hill, where the remaining protesters are still blocking roads even after a court ordered them to disperse.
In an alarming development, the Ottawa Police tweeted that the protesters had "put children between police operations and the unlawful protest site" and that the children "will be brought to a place of safety."
Protestors have put children between police operations and the unlawful protest site. \n\nThe children will be brought to a place of safety.— Ottawa Police (@Ottawa Police) 1645203738
While a number of people replied that they hadn't seen any children in various livestreams of the protests, it's been known that there are kids there with their parents. Other Twitter replies noted that if people are willing to put their kids in danger by refusing to vaccinate, and by keeping them at a protest site that's been declared an illegal assembly, using them as human shield doesn't seem too far-fetched. On the other hand, "police making shit up" isn't completely outside the realm of possibility either. Once we have more information, we'll definitely update with additional details.
If the pro-virus protesters are indeed putting kids between themselves and the police, it's definitely not a brand-new idea. Wingnut "constitutional sheriff" Richard Mack, the far-Right former sheriff of Arizona's Yavapai County, proposed a similar tactic during the 2014 armed standoff between Cliven Bundy and federal agents at Bundy's Nevada ranch.
Mack was quite open about his brilliant plan, explaining on Fox News that he thought it would be great for Bundy's cause — not letting the feds seize cattle after Bundy had refused to pay grazing fees for years — if women could be the first to die in a possible shootout between militias and law enforcement:
“We were actually strategizing to put all the women up at the front,” he said. “If they are going to start shooting, it’s going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers.”
The bloodbath didn't happen, possibly to Mack's dissatisfaction; we're assuming that the police in Ottawa are also not inclined to take any precipitous actions, especially since there appear to be plenty of spots where no kids are present.
The New York Times also reports that yesterday, Ottawa police officers went around the protest encampments
handing out a notice telling demonstrators they were breaking the law and faced arrest. It warned that anyone taking a minor to an unlawful protest could be fined up to 5,000 Canadian dollars “and/or potentially spend up to five years in prison.”
The article noted that while a few parents left, unwilling to risk arrest, many parents were unconcerned by the warning, because what kind of monsters would take away children of those whose cause is just? At least we can be pretty certain that Canadian police are planning to keep records of who's been arrested and where their children are.
Still, American wingnuts were happy to contend that the police are the baddies. Here's former rightwing blogger Beth Baumann bidding adieu to freedom in Canada, with a reply from Yr Editrix, who as always, is correct:
what is the world coming to when I can't even endanger my own children and use them as human shields?— Master Rebecca Schoenkopf, Wonkette Editrix, King (@Master Rebecca Schoenkopf, Wonkette Editrix, King) 1645205276
Baumann: Hello, tyranny.
Rebecca Schoenkopf, Boss Of You: what is the world coming to when I can't even endanger my own children and use them as human shields?
We'd also remind you that various far-Right anti-medicine parents routinely accuse the government of tyranny when it tries to enact laws that would keep them from killing their kids with faith healing, not sure why that occurred to us just now, the end.
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The Canadian SCOTUS shall hear of this outrage!
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked Canada's Emergencies Act to allow the national government temporary emergency powers to bring an end to wingnut truckers' blockades of border stations. Trudeau said it was necessary for the federal government to act:
"It is now clear that there are serious challenges to law enforcement's ability to effectively enforce the law," Trudeau told a news conference Monday afternoon.
"It is no longer a lawful protest at a disagreement over government policy. It is now an illegal occupation. It's time for people to go home."
The truckers and hangers-on have blocked traffic at major border crossings, caused hundreds of millions of dollars of economic disruption, snarled traffic in Ottawa, harassed residents for wearing masks and for not being white, constantly blown their big damn truck horns in neighborhoods, and called for an end to all anti-COVID health measures and for Trudeau's resignation. The disorder has been loudly supported — rhetorically and financially — by US rightwingers, who wish America could please have similar chaos too.
We should note that in saying it's time for this idiocy to end, Trudeau didn't even call the occupiers "patriots" or say that he loved them very much. How divisive!
What's All This Emergencies Act, Then, Eh?
The CBC reports the Emergencies Act will give police enhanced powers to break up public gatherings — like blockades or occupations of streets — that are deemed to be illegal or dangerous, and will also allow the federal RCMP to enforce municipal or provincial law, if needed.
The government is also designating and securing critical areas such as border crossings and airports. Invoking the act will also allow the government to make sure that essential services — such as towing services to remove trucks — are rendered, said Trudeau.
The emergency declaration also will allow the government to crack down on funding for the blockades, as the CBC explains:
Convoy organizers have raised millions of dollars. They raised money first through the GoFundMe crowdfunding site. When GoFundMe shut the fundraising campaign down, organizers pivoted to the Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said that under the Emergencies Act, crowdfunding platforms and the payment service providers they use must register with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), the national financial intelligence agency. They must also report large and suspicious transactions to FINTRAC.
Freeland said that regular criminal statutes limited the government's ability to go after crowdfunding platforms that were funding the blockades, which have been declared illegal:
We are making these changes because we know that these platforms are being used to support illegal blockades and illegal activity which is damaging the Canadian economy.
The enhanced government powers under Trudeau's declaration are limited; Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms still applies, and the emergency declaration expires after seven days unless the government gets approval from Canada's parliament. If either house votes against it, the declaration would be revoked.
New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh said yesterday that his party will support Trudeau's Liberal Party in the vote in Parliament, which should ensure passage, although Singh also said the declaration was "proof of a failure of leadership" on Trudeau's part:
"The reason why we got to this point is because the prime minister let the siege in Ottawa go on for weeks and weeks without actually doing anything about it, allowed the convoy to shut down borders without responding appropriately," he said.
Fact Check: Not Wrong, for sure.
Also too, various members of the Conservative Party whined about how public health measures were divisive and mean and if Trudeau really cared he'd end pandemic restrictions and let Canadians freely infect each other for freedom. Yes we are paraphrasing.
Depending on how you count, this is either the first time the emergency law has been used, or the fourth, since in the 1980s the current law replaced an older law, the "War Measures Act," that was used during both world wars and during a 1970 kidnapping in which Quebec separatists held two hostages. (That may or not be on the quiz later, kids.) That 1970 use of the earlier law was invoked by Trudeau's father, then-PM Pierre Trudeau.
Mean Police Seize Peaceful Protesters' Guns, Won't Let Peaceful Protesters Ram Cops
The RCMP seized a cache of arms, ammunition, and insurrection accessories and arrested 12 people near the blockade of the Coutts border crossing between Alberta and Montana yesterday. Alberta RCMP Superintendent Robert McKale said the armed group had apparently embedded itself within the larger bunch of blockaders a few days after the blockade started.
There was a heavy stash of weapons and these weapons were brought by people who had the intent on causing harm. And there are also people here who are here to protest and very likely didn’t know what was going on,” McKale said.
Ah, but were they also very fine people? The weapons seized from the peaceful protesters included 13 long guns, handguns, several sets of body armor, a machete (for getting through the dense Alberta jungle, no doubt), a bunch of high capacity magazines, and "thousands" of rounds of ammunition. Eleven people were arrested at the scene, and a twelfth was arrested in a traffic stop shortly after.
The investigation is ongoing, although no charges have yet been filed.
Also, there have been two incidents near the Coutts blockade where peaceful protesters attempted to use vehicles to slam into police, for Liberty.
Sunday night, a huge farm tractor and a semi-truck (sans trailer) attempted to ram a police vehicle. The police officer was able to swerve out of their way, fortunately:
Police followed the suspects to an area where protesters were gathered. The driver of the tractor was identified and police are working to locate him so he can be taken into custody. The tractor and semi were both seized by the RCMP.
The RCMP said this is an example of “the militant mindset” of a small group of the protesters.
Then on Monday afternoon, yet another peaceful protester aimed a semi at police, this time at a checkpoint about 13 miles (2,200,000 centimeters) north of the border crossing:
[Around] 12:45 p.m., police said a semi-truck driving north toward the Milk River RCMP check stop accelerated and drove toward police members.
“The driver swerved at the last moment and hit some traffic cones which were on the roadway,” a release said.
The driver was arrested close to the scene for Criminal Code offences, RCMP said. This was the 13th person arrested in connection with the protests at the border crossing.
If there was a related assurance that this person too was very different from the rest of the blockaders, we seem to have missed it.
Truckers' Secret Chat Invaded By Ram Ranchers, Double Agent
Buzzfeed News reporter Paul McLeod said in a Twitter thread yesterday that the antivaxx/pro-chaos truckers' communications have been breached by troublemakers, hooray, and the interruption appears to have helped, in part, to confuse the dipwads enough that the RCMP had an easier time of clearing the blockade from the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. McLeod provided live updates from an online "emergency meeting" yesterday:
First, a participant complains the protesters' Zello channel was spammed with that excellent gay porno cowboy anthem "Ram Ranch," and when the truckheads moved to a new channel, it turned out that the moderator of that group had also tricked the poor innocent jerkwads. We'll just copy McLeod's hilarious tweets, avec linkies:
The problem was the moderator of the channel turned out to be a double agent. “This person gained our trust. We trusted them as a moderator,” the guy says.
“Traitor! Traitor!” another person yells.
That moderator who turned out to be “part of the resistence” apparently shut things down and ruined their ability to communicate, allowing the police to roll up the blockade. “It’s a morale blow,” he said.
Another guy adds: “What a clusterfuck."
Aaaand someone started playing Ram Ranch on this feed. [The "emergency meeting" feed — Dok]
“Christ on a cross!” one protester yells.
McLeod noted that as more resisters crowded into the "emergency meeting" chat, he was soon unable to keep real and spoofed commenters straight.
There’s lots of talk of needing money. “None of us know how to use that goddamn bitcoin,” says one guy.
“I’ve got kids… I need some money here. I can’t do this,” says another.
“What happened to the money we donated? I gave $600” says one woman.
“It’s gone. Byyyeeee” says another.
This has gone way off the rails. Actual quote just now: “What is this Ram Ranch people are talking about? Is it somewhere we can go and get our money?”
The punking continued merrily; in response to gripes about how the truckers can't even get insurance, another voice claimed to be a trucker who could help — and then played the "Curb Your Enthusiasm" theme, another popular clip with the "Ranchers."
After another guy goes on a monologue about sucking off truckers, the protesters are trying to figure out how to kick out all the Ram Ranchers.
“I don’t understand what’s happening,” says one woman. “People are just disgusting."
Quotes that are either from truckers or ranchers pretending to be truckers, I can no longer tell:
“I’ve been rammed too many times over these last couple weeks.”
[A solid 20 seconds of someone blowing their nose]
The emergency meeting was overrun with Ram Ranchers, and we say God Bless Our Northern Porn Trollers, the end.
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