police brutality

How Do Civilian Clothed Police Make Police More Accountable?

Photo credit: NBC News

Picture description: On the left is a portrait of Nouman Raja and on the right is a portrait of Corey Jones.

In light of Corey Jones' death, I am wondering how protocol allowing police to be on duty while in civilian clothes creates an environment of police accountability.

"A police officer shot and killed Corey Jones after his car broke down on a Florida highway" last month. "Jones, 31, was on his way home after playing drums early Sunday when his car stalled along Interstate 95." According to the police, "Palm Beach Gardens police Officer Nouman Raja believed it was an abandoned car and stopped to investigate ... as on duty but was wearing civilian clothing and driving an unmarked car."

"A source close to the investigation told CNN on condition of anonymity Wednesday that investigators believe the shooting was a result of Jones and Raja misidentifying each other. The source said Raja felt he had to check the car because there had been burglaries in the area recently and that burglars had parked near the ramp where Jones' vehicle was. Raja "was working as part of a detail related to a string of burglaries in the city," Stepp told reporters Tuesday. The anonymous source told CNN on Wednesday that investigators believe Raja may not have made it sufficiently clear he was an officer and that Jones may not have heard what the officer said. Palm Beach Gardens police have not said how or whether Raja identified himself to Jones."

Given that Corey is black and given how many extrajudicial police killings of black people that has happened in the past year alone, I am skeptical how much Raja wearing uniform would have changed whether Corey would be alive with us today. However, there is something to be said about the power that Raja possesed as an on-duty police officer out of uniform. Raja was not indentifiable as a state agent while he held the priveleges of being one. If we as citizens cannot even identify who is and who isn't entrusted with the power to "protect and serve", then how can we adequately hold them to appropriate standards set out by international human rights? How did Raja being in plain cloths lend itself to a situation of police accountability before he killed Jones? Even though police are rarely indicted for murder after they kill, how can we increase police accountability to a point where people are proactively held accountable?

One thing I know is that it doesn't start with civilian clothed police.





Man Tased More Than 20 Times in 30 minutes by Police the Night he dies

Photo credit: Gwendolyn Smalls

Picture description: A portrait of Linwood Lambert. He is wearing his work uniform.

"Linwood Lambert, 46, was tased over 20 times in thirty minutes by police the night he died, according to Joe Messa, an attorney for the Lambert family."

Documentary Review: Winter on Fire (Ukraine)

Jackie Fielder's picture

I did not know much about Ukraine, except that separatists loyal to Russia shot down that one commercial airplane this past year, until I watched Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom. Winter on Fire is a perfect introduction to the conflict in Ukraine and the ongoing human rights crisis therre. A slimy president, who promised the people membership to the European Union, went back on his promise and had secret talks with Russia, Ukraine’s former oppressor. At the center of all of this are the youth in my generation who were born in a Ukraine free from Russia’s leash. They grew up with the promise of European Union membership and all of the accompanying freedoms (and problems) dangling over their heads.

            Whether or not you believe western liberal ideas about freedom and equality are overrated and not actually practiced, this documentary makes it tough for one to argue that Russia’s company is welcomed peacefully by the people. After the president goes back on his promise, the people organize and occupy the center of the administrative city in Ukraine, Maidan. Much like the Gezi protests and the Egyptian rebellion, these peaceful demonstrations of civil disobedience used humor, teach-in’s, barricades, national pride, and courage to resist the repressive Berkut, the iron fist of the president. Iron batons, metal shields, rubber bullets, tear gas, flash grenades, and eventually, live ammunition could not weaken the youth’s grip on what they say is a free future for generations to come.

            Winter on Fire is an inspiring documentary that capitalizes on the resilience of human beings and rejuvenates one’s hope for progress and unity in the face of oppression.





Coalition of Organizations Shut Down McCormick Place Streets During Policing Conference

(Picture description: woman sits on top of a yellow ladder. Hoisting her right fist in the air, she holds up the Pan-African flag in her left hand. The background is a tree whose leaves have fallen.)

Several organizations in Chicago came together around an international police conference.

South African police fire tear gas at students in university fees protest

(picture description: two police officers struggle with a student who is on the ground holding one police officers leg. People in the background are watching, photographing and filming the interaction. )


"Riot police in South Africa have fired tear gas and stun grenades at hundreds of students who stormed the parliament precinct in Cape Town in protest at a proposed hike in university fees."


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