Friday Links

Friday, July 29th, 2011

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49 Responses to “Friday Links”

  1. #1 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    RE: Puppy faking own death

    LOL that was hilarious. Here’s hoping that this pooch remembers that maneuver if her home is ever the subject of a SWAT raid. Well shit, I had to say it. Hope I didn’t spoil the fun.

  2. #2 |  omar | 

    What is wrong with the commentators over at Hit-and-Run? On the horrifying beating article, the discussion starts off with dogpiles of name calling and team herding.

    Keep it real, agitatortots!

  3. #3 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    RE: Kelly Thomas…

    “Thomas’ father, a retired Orange County sheriff’s deputy, has asserted that officers used excessive force to subdue his son, who was unarmed, slight and of medium height.”

    Holy god that was terrible to listen to. I wonder if surveillance is available from other sources, since the view was mostly blocked. If you have that many officers arriving to assist, that level of force is just unforgivable. Though we could not see exactly what the officers were doing, the results (Thomas’ battered face) pretty much explain what happened. It was a beat down, not an attempt to restrain a disturbed person.

    The most heart- breaking part of it for me was hearing him yell for his dad. Maybe in his state of mind he thought his dad was still out there on the job and would come to rescue him from the amped up thugs that were kicking the shit out of him in front of stunned witnesses. Too sad.

    Someday the witnesses to this kind of shit may not just stand there and film the beating and complain about the excessive response of the police. Someday, they may be more inclined to physically intervene to stop police brutatlity, as they might any other beat down on the street. That day obviously isn’t here yet. I can understand why the bystanders were intimidated and did not do it this time, but times may change. I hope that Kelly’s dad goes after Fullerton PD aggressively, and speaks about this atrocity as a former police officer. Ultimately, police officers (active and retired) are going to have to confront this behavior directly if they want to save American law enforcement from its own excesses.

    RIP Kelly and my deepest sympathies go out to his father and all who cared about him. No one should be tortured in the street for having a schizophrenia. Today’s officers have access to plenty of training on interacting with the mentally ill if they would actually make the effort to learn.

  4. #4 |  Roho | 

    “It is prohibited for any person or group to engage in any type of First Amendment activities within the main Orange County courthouse complex grounds, unless the First Amendment activities occur within a designated Exempt Zone…”

    So, if I understand correctly, this gentleman is about to go to jail for nearly a year for “Engaging in free speech outside of a designated free speech zone.” They’re not even going with the more traditional, “He was on courthouse property, and failed to leave when asked, thus trespassing.” It’s explicitly, “He engaged in free speech where free speech is not allowed,” in both the charge and sentence.


  5. #5 |  albatross | 

    Many people in US society, right now, enjoy a kind of informal immunity to prosecution for a wide range of crimes. Executives at large companies (especially banks), policemen, spies, and various levels of political appointees are, in practice, simply not prosecuted when their crimes aren’t so spectacularly awful they can’t be ignored.

    If I were someone counting on that informal immunity, I’d be getting a bit worried right now. That immunity probably can’t exist in a world where loud public discussion of it can’t be suppressed or at least quieted down a bit. In a world where police beatings often come with video footage and pictures of the victim, and where the story isn’t blackholed to keep on the good side of the cops, I wonder how much longet it will continue to exist. I suspect (though with less confidence) that the same is true for abuses by spies, CEOs, and politicos. (In particular, the details of the US torture program would probably have been seen by almost no one in the US, had it not been for the internet.)

    There are people who committed truly horrible crimes (in general, much worse than anything US impunity covers, at least below the John Yoo/Doug Feith level) in many countries, who went on living their lives in their home countries, trusting in the informal arrangements and the power of their friends to keep them safe. And one day, something changed, and those people found themselves in court, and soon thereafter, in prison.

  6. #6 |  albatross | 

    I’m certainly no lawyer or constitutional scholar, but wasn’t the idea of the first amendment supposed to be that the whole *country* was a free-speech zone? (Indeed, I’m pretty sure Congress isn’t allowed to make laws criminalizing speech outside the US either, though you might want to ask Anwar Alwaki how that’s working out for him these days.)

  7. #7 |  Kristen | 

    What is wrong with the commentators over at Hit-and-Run? On the horrifying beating article, the discussion starts off with dogpiles of name calling and team herding.

    Funny, I thought it started off with a misquote from Chinatown

  8. #8 |  ChicagoSucks | 


    I think that story goes a little beyond a kick in the nuts. That’s more like an industrial steel press ball crushing.

  9. #9 |  Charlie O | 

    Maybe, just maybe, someone might get fired in the Fullerton beating. But criminal charges, I wouldn’t hold my breath. Cops in SoCal have been getting away with killing the citizenry with reckless abandon since the 1940s. No one goes to jail. No one pays. What is needed is more Sagon Penns.

  10. #10 |  zendingo | 

    i want to cry, the Kelly Thomas story is too much……………..

  11. #11 |  croaker | 

    So…when is the complaint on Judge Perry going to the state bar?

  12. #12 |  Marty | 

    society’s are supposed to be judged by how we treat our weakest members… what a horrible story. the before and after pictures really drive it home. In my mind, I can see the mag lights crushing him.
    I cannot imagine the pain that family’s feeling. Fuck those cops.

  13. #13 |  A Puppy Has Received Acting Lessons From Big-Time Hollywood Directors » | 

    […] Radley Balko) Posted by Scott Lazarowitz at 1:23 […]

  14. #14 |  Warren Bonesteel | 

    It appears LEO’s across the nation have declared war against the American people.

    What happens when the American people reciprocate and declare war against LEO’s?

  15. #15 |  Cyto | 

    Helmut – your idea of bystanders intervening doesn’t work so well. It normally gets you a felony.

    Just like the poor guy who was convicted for resisting arrest in his own home when there was no underlying reason to arrest him, the state won’t look kindly on a good Samaritan who tries to prevent an illegal beating by the police. Instead of getting your hero’s medal you’ll be carted off to jail. Merely approaching the scene of an arrest can get you arrested, speaking up in defense of the victim only makes it worse. But if you dare place hands on an officer you are going to jail for assault on an officer, interfering with police duties, resisting arrest… a laundry list of charges.

    Quickest example I could think of: a couple of skater kids protest an officer choking their friend. Watch as it escalates step by step until they are all arrested.

  16. #16 |  Curt | 

    I was suffering from some Agitator withdrawal. Radley definitely fixed that with a forceful kick to the nuts today.

    Thankfully the dog clip was funny enough to make me put down my pitchfork and torch and go back to work.

  17. #17 |  ClubMedSux | 

    I couldn’t even bring myself to watch the video. What amazes me, though, is that in the comments of the original story a police officer immediately jumped in with the standard, “You don’t know the whole story; you don’t know what it’s like” excuses. Having grown up on the South Side of Chicago with friends and family members who are cops, I’m more sympathetic to this argument than many who comment here (and admittedly that’s a pretty low bar) when it comes to things like gang members in dark alleys. But THIS? Under what fucking circumstance could THAT kind of beating of a 135-lb. man be justified?

    This got me thinking… What drives me INSANE with cops is that they constantly implore you to put yourself in their shoes (“you don’t know what kind of animals are out there;” “you don’t see what we see;” “we just want to make sure we come home to our families”) but yet they show virtually ZERO desire to EVER put themselves in somebody else’s shoes. As skeptical as I am of most police officers, when I read a story I honestly try to see it from their perspective as well. I have a hard time believing many cops do the same with respect to the “civilian’s” point of view.

  18. #18 |  Nipplemancer | 

    RE: the pamphleteer – the judge granted him bail so he is free while he appeals.,0,1930140.story

  19. #19 |  Zargon | 


    Instead of getting your hero’s medal you’ll be carted off to jail.

    Unless they decide to save themselves some paperwork and earn a paid vacation, as in this case…

  20. #20 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    #14 Cyto: “Helmut – your idea of bystanders intervening doesn’t work so well. It normally gets you a felony.”

    Yes, you’re probably right about that, at least for now. Documentation and widespread distribution may be the best option at this point. Perhaps repeated viewing of these incidents will disabuse people of the notion that these events are totally isolated and are committed by “a few bad apples.”

    If the videographer makes himself/herself inconspicuous it usually works better. It might be satisfying to run up to the scene and trot out “the whole world is watching” platitudes, but it might also get you arrested (wrongfully) and your cell phone or camera smashed or tampered with (criminal damage to property, theft, etc if you or I do it). If successful, the footage should then go to You Tube (or a similar service), the media, and then the police department/or DA”s office in that order.

  21. #21 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    #9 Charlie O:

    Might have missed this part of the article, Charlie.

    “Penn led a troubled life after his acquittal. His father was arrested and imprisoned on drug charges. Penn was in and out of jail for various crimes – getting into fights and domestic abuse.

    Most recently, in 1999, he was arrested on suspicion of trespassing and disturbing the peace at the San Diego Sports Arena, but was not charged.

    In 1997, Penn was arrested after a scuffle with five police officers. He had been stopped after making an obscene gesture to a U.S. immigration officer.

    In 1993, he was sentenced to two years in state prison for violating probation by throwing a brick at his wife’s truck while she and her 3-year-old daughter were inside. He had been placed on probation in 1991 for forging a restraining order against a former girlfriend’s new boyfriend.”

    Oh, and did the intern in the squad car deserve to die too, Charlie. Well played. It is commenters like you that will be used to marginalize Balko and readers of The Agitator. Sounds like your martyr was pretty much a low life thug. Thanks a pant load, Charlie.

  22. #22 |  Cyto | 

    One of the commenters on IndieRegister brought up an interesting point about a conflict of interest.

    The judge in the pamphleteer case wrote the law (issued his order) making the behavior illegal, judged that the defendant violated the law and then passed sentence. Nowhere in the process is there even a second person, let alone a system of checks and balances. This is the case for all contempt orders, but it is particularly odious in this case as the defendant wasn’t in this judges court or involved in a case before the judge at the time. He managed to reach out into society at large and declare the first amendment null and void within an arbitrary radius of his court.

  23. #23 |  MDGuy | 


    I’ve been following this story on several sites and you’re exactly right — the cop apologists are all trotting out the standard lines: “We don’t know all the facts yet. The video doesn’t show anything. We shouldn’t rush to judgment.” Then, without a hint of awareness of the irony and hypocrisy, they make wild unsubstantiated assumptions about the guy who was beaten to death: “He was probably high on drugs! He was there breaking into cars! How do we know he wasn’t armed with a screwdriver?!”

  24. #24 |  Mattocracy | 

    “According to the Sentienel, Chief Judge Belvin Perry signed an order early this year banning the distribution of nullification pamphlets that were “meant to influence jurors.”

    So what does the judge think the prosecution and defense are trying to do to the jurors during the case?

    I’ve never sat on a jurry. But I’m guessing that the judge never explains jury nullification to a jury when giving them instruction. Am I wrong?

  25. #25 |  demize! | 

    I love the whole “you weren’t there” schtick. By the picture alone any reasonable person can make the determination that whatever occurred the violence administered was so obscenely, excessively, over the top, the level of brutality so abject that there would be no reasonable explanation. You have a large number of heavily armed violent thugs with state imprimatur for their acts engaging in a vicious feral pack attack on a helpless mentally I’ll man. Society’s very strongest preying on it’s most vulnerable. Police are the ultimate parasitic class they produce no goods or services, nothing but corpses and battered bodies

  26. #26 |  Jerry | 

    My dad was a cop for 20 years and he is appalled at the utter lack of professional most cops these days have. He doesn’t even like cops anymore and he was one of them.

  27. #27 |  fwb | 

    If one reads the Constitution, one finds there can be only 4 federal criminal statutes. The feds do not have police powers except in the 3 clauses granted police power over 4 areas. All the otehr federal criminal statutes are unconstitutional. If this were not true then those who framed the Constitution and placed the 3 clauses within its words did not understand the document they were creating.

  28. #28 |  pegr | 

    Besides the obvious 5th amendment prohibition of double jeopardy, the 10th amendment applies as well:

    “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

    That means that there cannot be cases of overlapping law, ever. If the Feds can do it, the states can’t. If the states can do it, the Feds can’t.

  29. #29 |  Difster | 

    I can’t recall exactly but I could swear that Thomas Kelly looks very familiar. I’m almost certain I’ve talked to once or twice.

    This is the type of case where I recommend some good old street justice against the cops.

    I wonder, I was carrying (almost impossible to legally in Orange County), would I have the balls to blast away at those cops for what they were doing? Given the sheer numbers, it would probably be a death sentance for me.

    But then, being all surrounded, it might have been difficult to see how bad of beating he was getting.

  30. #30 |  Mario | 

    Regarding the incident with the Fullerton police, it will be found that the officers on the scene followed procedure. The young man brought the harm to himself because he would not stop resisting. In fact, from what I can tell the police gave him somewhere between 150 to 200 opportunities to stop resisting, which is arguably above and beyond the call of duty.

  31. #31 |  Andrew S. | 

    How dare you demean those brave officers in Fullerton? They had to sit helplessly while the deceased gentleman repeatedly ran into their fists and batons. Even while he was on the ground helpless, they couldn’t stop him from continuing to beat himself up with their fists. Those men are heroes! Heroes I say!

  32. #32 |  SJE | 

    I feel sorry for the cop whose son was brutally killed by other cops. I must ask: how many times did HE participate in the blue wall of silence to cover up excessive force, corruption, or other things?

  33. #33 |  Bronwyn | 

    I see this and think of my uncle, a man with schizophrenia and manic depression who ran away to California, where he threw his lithium into the Pacific. My uncle is long gone, replaced by whatever persona took over his mind. I worry about just this sort of thing happening to him… and we’d never know about it, because he doesn’t use his own name and privacy laws mean no one can even tell us if he’s alive, much less whether or not he’s at their facility.

    Small comfort that Kelly at least has someone to claim his body and tell his story. How many have been lost without a word being said or a soul noticing?

  34. #34 |  Bronwyn | 

    This is really breaking my heart… my little one is asking what’s wrong, so it must be showing. How many helpless people like this have been murdered by these power-tripping cowards? I’m no psychiatrist, but this isn’t just criminal behavior, it’s pathologically evil.

  35. #35 |  JS | 

    Bronwyn I think you said it best. It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes to turn the public against these criminals. I guess unless these stories make the evening news on CNN, ABC news, Foxnews, etc. then the majority of the public will continue to be totally unaware that their brave heros have turned into the single biggest thtreat to public safety in the country.

  36. #36 |  homeboy | 


    I know exactly how you feel. I read the story, played the video, and just wept. The sound of that poor man’s voice crying out for his father just moments before his consciousness left this world forever seared into me. The voices of observers remarking on the victim being tased five times before the beating alarmed me. Hearing the thugs scream “Stop resisting” at a victim laying at their feet, and hearing witnesses scoff at the notion of resistance while cops were standing on the victim’s back and continuing to beat him infuriated me. And knowing the pain, the futility, and the hopeless impossibility of reform attendant to all of this simply broke my heart.

    Twenty minutes after I watched this, my wife came home from a long, eventful day at work. Though there was plenty that she was eager to tell me, the first words out of her mouth were, “Honey, what’s wrong?” I guess it shows.

  37. #37 |  Charlie O | 

    #21 Helmut,

    You missed the point. Sagon Penn shot and killed a San Diego cop (with his own gun), claimed self defense and was acquitted. What happened after that is irrelevant to my point.

    What isn’t made clear either in the article, is that Sagon Penn essentially had a target on his back after that. I lived in San Diego at the time of the Sagon Penn shooting and trial. The SDPD more or less put a bounty on his head. Even though he was acquitted, he never really had a chance after that.

    My point only was that here was someone who successfully defended himself against a thug with a badge and gun.

  38. #38 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    I wonder how many cops have fantasies about running into a homeless man of about 130 pounds who attacks him. I have to believe, based on their actions across thousands of cases over decades, most every cop would love to club a defenseless man to death if given even the smallest provocation.

    These cops are akin to a pro-boxer beating to death a 4-year old who steps on his toes. I don’t know what to call the POS internal investigator who finds no wrong-doing.

  39. #39 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    He had been stopped after making an obscene gesture to a U.S. immigration officer.

    Why the fuck is this a criminal act? There is NO REASON! These pussies need to DEAL. WITH. IT.

  40. #40 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    Indirect contempt? WTF?
    What kind of Mickey Mouse place has Orlando become?
    Oh, wait…

  41. #41 |  JS | 

    Homeboy #36, reactions like yours kind of restore my faith in humanity.

  42. #42 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @34 – “Pathologically” ?

    Look, there’s no reason to assign mental illness to the cops here. There’s no reason to believe they didn’t know precisely what they’re doing.

    (And I object to amateur DSM-IV diagnoses anyway, I have enough medical training for that, without being able to make them myself…)

  43. #43 |  Bronwyn | 

    @ Leon

    I felt it was a word that may erroneously suggest an excuse, and that was not my intent. It does seem to me though, that people who do this are wired for it. So perhaps “organic” is a more accurate term… I don’t know. There’s something very wrong with people like this, and instead of sidelining and ostracizing them, we give them badges, weapons, great benefits, and carte blanc to destroy anyone and anything they wish.

  44. #44 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    #37 Charlie O:
    “What isn’t made clear either in the article, is that Sagon Penn essentially had a target on his back after that. I lived in San Diego at the time of the Sagon Penn shooting and trial. The SDPD more or less put a bounty on his head. Even though he was acquitted, he never really had a chance after that.”

    He may very well have had a target on his back. I concede that much. But look at the WHOLE list of incidents. They were not all officer initiated issues. For example:

    “In 1993, he was sentenced to two years in state prison for violating probation by throwing a brick at his wife’s truck while she and her 3-year-old daughter were inside. He had been placed on probation in 1991 for forging a restraining order against a former girlfriend’s new boyfriend.”

    Where there is smoke, there is often fire, Charlie. Frankly, it sounds to me like he had a problem with women, not just the POlice. It is also worth noting that you never addressed the fact that he fired into a squad car and wounded a police intern:

    “Penn then shot Riggs, killing him, and fired into Riggs’ patrol car and wounded Sarah Pina-Ruiz, a woman who had been riding along to learn about police work.”

    So is it ok to shoot a girl who was sitting in a squad doing a ride along? That part doesn’t sound like self defense to me. But, if that is your contention, you are not seeking justice, you are simply condoning the same us against them mentality on display in many incidents of police violence.

    Again, watch who you lionize. I would have many issues with the ideas of William F. Buckley, but I do agree with his statement that “ideas have consequences.”

  45. #45 |  EH | 

    “Penn then shot Riggs, killing him, and fired into Riggs’ patrol car and wounded Sarah Pina-Ruiz, a woman who had been riding along to learn about police work.”

    Maybe she shouldn’t have been in the car, then. That’s certainly the logic used when an innocent someone catches an errant slug in the ghetto. Using the police’s own internal logic, it’s such a dangerous job that such things should be expected.

    Besides that, as above, any former-cop who is “disgusted” with the way cops are now means nothing if they don’t help non-cops understand what’s going on in cops’ heads. It’s not enough to pay lip-service on this topic.

  46. #46 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @43 – “Wired” for it?

    I’d suggest strongly otherwise. It’s down to training, both the (often inadequate) training they receive before going on duty, and what they are trained as new cops is the norm for the profession.

    Otherwise perfectly sane human beings can do terrible things when they’re trained to do so. This is, of course, not recognised as a defence in most countries legal systems…

  47. #47 |  JOR | 

    The problem isn’t that the training is ‘inadequate’, it’s what the training is aimed at accomplishing, which is to construct a macho warrior tribal identity around ruthlessness, authority, and perceived indispensability. To that end, the training is clearly perfectly adequate, as these ‘incidents’ illustrate. (And it’s true that they’re probably not “wired” for this sort of thing… at least, before training. The training is intended to rewire them into the total assholes they’re required to be to serve their purpose.)

  48. #48 |  CyniCAl | 

    @ #29 | Difster

    You with me on not spending any money in Fullerton from now on? Come down to Tustin, the cops don’t beat people to death here. Yet.

  49. #49 |  White Indian | 

    Maybe the Fullerton cops were Libertarians defending private property.

    “Cops must be unleashed, and allowed to administer instant punishment … unleash the cops to clear the streets of bums and vagrants. Where will they go? Who cares?”

    ~Murray Rothbard
    American author and economist of the Austrian School who helped define modern Libertarianism