You Don’t Have to Let Them in

A couple people have sent us this clip from the latest cop show, Police Women of Broward County. I don’t know what exactly to say about it except that if you’ve decided it’s necessary to grow your own marijuana at home, you should really teach everyone in the house about their rights during police encounters, so that they don’t rat you instantly when cops come to the door.

Either there was simply no plan in place here, or the young man just completely freaked when he saw police in the doorway. Regardless, “it’s not mine” is a really awful response when police are inquiring about the possibility of contraband in your home. I would have recommended “do you have a warrant?” instead.


Photos from Our Upcoming Film

I’m thrilled to announce that we’ve wrapped shooting for Flex Your Rights’ upcoming film, 10 Rules for Dealing with Police! And we’ve got pictures to share.

We’re now in the editing phase and are scheduled to release the completed film before the year’s end.

Shooting was an exhilarating process, and I can scarcely describe the joy of seeing our vision finally come to life. Our production team, led by Producer Roger Sorkin and Director Rubin Whitmore, did an outstanding job controlling the chaos. And Billy Murphy dazzles as our starring narrator.

My heartfelt thanks goes out to all of you for continuing to support our work and making this project possible. (If you’re signed up to our email list, you’ll be the first to know when the completed film is ready.)

BTW: It’s not to late to see your name appear in the screen credits! If you donate $100 or more to 10 Rules between now and Oct. 15, your name will appear in the screen credits. For each additional $100 you may add a friend or family member’s name too.


The Epidemic of Pot Arrests in New York City

Marijuana possession is technically decriminalized in New York City. Yet in 2008 NYPD made 40,000 marijuana possession arrests. How did they do it? Friend of Flex Prof. Harry G. Levine explains how in this excellent Alternet analysis. Few scholars appreciate the connection between easy pot arrests and the waiver of constitutional rights as well as he does.


Some Thoughts on the Gates Arrest

A rather typical encounter

Last week’s media frenzy surrounding the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. illustrates once again that concerns about racial profiling and police abuse are as potent as ever in American culture. The incident itself is fascinating not only because of what happened, but because of what didn’t happen. No blood was shed, no property destroyed, and no one will be facing years behind bars. Instead, we’ve witnessed a rare event in which the media has had the opportunity to debate a much more common scenario: a misunderstanding that escalated into hostility and a questionable discretionary arrest.

Supreme Court Upholds Fourth Amendment in Strip Search Case

Flex Your Rights Hero Savana Redding

Today, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in Safford Unified School District #1 et al v. Redding that school officials violated the 4th Amendment when they strip searched a 13-year-old girl. Savana Redding was subjected to a strip search that included looking inside her underwear after the school principal received a tip that she might be in possession of prescription ibuprofen. None was found.

By a strong majority, the Court declared the search unreasonable under the 4th Amendment, finding that a full strip search was unjustified based on the nature of the drugs and in question and the absence of specific evidence that contraband would be found in her underwear.

Bad Cops Caught on Camera

Surveillance cameras are great for catching bad guys red-handed. Unfortunately, far too often, the outrageous crimes caught on camera are committed by police officers:

As is common in excessive force cases, the victim received several criminal charges, all of which will likely be dropped in light of the compelling video evidence. Whether the officer responsible for this savage assault will be disciplined remains to be seen, but this story certainly has “major lawsuit” written all over it.

Meanwhile in Florida, the same exact thing happened. The suspect was charged with felony assault on a police officer, until this video surfaced:

Anyone can plainly see that it was the police who were guilty of assault, not the other way around. And worse yet, the prosecutor who dropped the charges couldn’t even bring himself to admit that the guy was innocent:

“We thought based on the facts and the evidence, including the videotape, that there was no reasonable likelihood of conviction at trial,” said Lee Cohen, assistant state attorney in charge of misdemeanor cases.

Of course, it shouldn’t be a question of whether or not you can convict him. The guy didn’t do anything wrong. The police broke his nose, lied about it, and dragged him through a terrifying six-month legal battle that could have ruined his life. After all that, the only decent thing to do is admit he’s innocent, give him the mother of all apologies, and hope he doesn’t sue the department for all it’s worth.

As video technology grows cheaper and more ubiquitous, examples of gratuitous police brutality, cover-ups and false arrests are emerging routinely. Simultaneously, the web provides an efficient mechanism for exposing such conduct to the public and drawing much-needed attention to patterns of police abuse and misconduct that would otherwise have been known only to the victims. It should go without saying that police are responsible for protecting public safety – as opposed to beating up innocent people – and it’s just shameful that it’s even necessary to constantly review the tape to make sure our police officers are telling us the truth.

Alas, the real turning point in the fight against police brutality may come not because police culture takes a meaningful stand against misconduct, but rather because it may soon become nearly impossible for police to horribly abuse their power without getting caught on hidden camera.


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