Urgent Warning Issued by Human Rights Group over New Police Bill in Congress

 

 

| May 30, 2017

 

(ANTIMEDIA) Last week, Human Rights Watch penned an open letter to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees voicing their strong opposition to a new bill that would make it nearly impossible to sue police for constitutional violations. Senator John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Representative Ted Poe (R-Tex.) proposed the identical bills on May 16th “to protect law enforcement officers, and for other purposes.”

Co-Director of Human Rights Watch Alison Parker writes that H.R. 2437/S.B. 1134, or the “Back the Blue Act,” doesn’t protect police from danger, but rather “protects police departments from liability, and removes incentives for those departments to monitor themselves and improve the quality of their policing.”

 




The proposed bill would make significant amendments to Sections 1983 and 1988 of the U.S. Code, shielding police officers from civil liability even in cases of grievous misconduct, making new federal crimes out of offenses already covered by state laws and imposing harsh mandatory minimum sentences.

Qualified immunity already provides police with broad protection from liability by requiring proof that not only were an individual’s rights violated but whether or not a reasonable officer was aware that their misconduct violated the plaintiff’s rights. Qualified immunity has been described by experienced civil rights litigator and professor of law Alan K. Chen as “one of the most impenetrable barriers to liability for constitutional violations.” According to Professor Chen, “the Court has shaped the doctrine in ways that make it more closely resemble absolute immunity.”

Under the Back the Blue Act, if police can prove that the violation and any injuries or damages inflicted“incurred in the course of, or as a result of, or . . . related to, conduct by the injured party that, more likely than not, constituted a felony or a crime of violence . . . (including any deprivation in the course of arrest or apprehension for, or the investigation, prosecution, or adjudication of, such an offense),” the offending officer would be responsible for out-of-pocket expenses only. The law would also preclude victims from recovering attorneys’ fees.

As the letter explains:

This amendment means that if police arrest someone for selling marijuana, and beat him without justification, that person may only recover medical expenses, but nothing for emotional distress, pain and suffering or punitive damages to deter future misconduct. If a police officer unlawfully shoots and kills someone committing an act of vandalism, the police department would be liable for funeral expenses and nothing more. Such a limit on liability would make it much harder for victims of abuse to secure effective legal representation, and remove a major restraint on unjustified violence by police officers.”

The new bill also imposes harsh mandatory minimum sentences under federal law for any assault on a police officer causing “bodily injury,” which is defined to include injuries as minor as a bruise, abrasion, or even the temporary feeling of physical pain. This removes the court’s discretion, preventing judges from issuing sentences proportionate to the individual circumstances of the case. In addition, the Back the Blue Act will expand the federal death penalty to include those convicted of killing police, removing certain habeas corpus protections and again limiting judicial discretion — even in states that have abolished the death penalty.

“Under the guise of protecting officers, this bill would make police less accountable, which can only undermine their legitimacy with the communities they serve,” said John Raphling, senior criminal justice researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Congress should reject this dangerous bill.”

Human Rights Watch’s observations are all the more vital considering at least 385 Americans have been killed by police this year alone, and officers around the country continue to impose constitutional violations on citizens every day.

 

Music To My Ears

L. Steele / March 22, 2006

Think back for a moment to yourself as a child. It’s probably safe to assume that you
were like any other kid growing up and had a dream of what you wanted to be. So is that
who you are today? Don’t feel bad if you are not, most people lose site of their dream
for one reason or another and wind up slaving away for “the man”. I have a habit of
thinking back to my childhood and remembering my dream. Probably the biggest reason
I do that is because a person gets tired of busting his ass for the higher society that are
afraid they may have left you too many crumbs. Such is the life you have been
conditioned for, but thats a totally different subject. Anyway, my dreams have always
involved music. I met one of my best friends at school in fourth grade, as we got to know
each other I realized he too had a love for music. I found that he dreamed of being a
race car driver or a rock star. Myself, I loved the thought of being a rock star, but I also
dreamed of changing the world for the better. Of course like so many we never reached
our dream, there are many reasons for this. My friend  now works the same 9 to 5 (more
like 7 to 5) job where he has been since graduation. I move from job to job, not because
I am super smart, but because I usually end up fired every 3 to 4 years. Theres just
something the high society does not like about people who take a stand for whats right.
For my viewers who have to work the day to day routine, you know what I am talking
about. This is the way life in America has become, stand down or we will make your life
hell. But for those who have the courage to stand back up and continue for the honor of
doing all you could, you’ll die knowing you kept your dignity.

Though I never took myself where I wanted to be, I have held on to my passion for
music. I love to hear music that is composed with greatness, and I also love music that
has a powerful message. These days, this is a very rare find. I would say my all time
favorite style of music would be from the 80’s. The music of the 80’s didn’t have too
much of a message, with a few exceptions, but it was happier music. Most of todays
music is filled with depression. The majority of it is filled with somebody’s misery. I do find
a likening to some of it, but hardly any of today’s artist dare to write a song that gets to
the root cause of all the misery. Most of today’s musicians are blinded by wealth, so
they’ll take the safe route. They won’t dare chance their fame by taking a swing at the
establishment. Nor will they dare to step up to the plate and realize the responsibility
they have for being an impression on the youth. So much talent gone to waste. It upsets
me so much because music is very powerful. Music is a part of everything, and
influences everything. The late 60’s may never have seen such a large movement
without the support of it’s musicians. Sometimes I have to laugh when I turn to a station
that plays the latest rock hits. All of these hard core angry tough guys, yet they are
afraid to say how they feel about the condition of our great nation. I often think of one
band in particular with music so popular and influential. This certain band (will remain
nameless) which once was the tough guys, suddenly turned into a bunch of wimpy sell
outs hiding behind lawyers, afraid that they might lose a buck. This particular heavy
metal band once had a message in their music, something they believed, until they
wanted to sell a few more Cd’s. Greed blinded their vision.

Music has the power to change the world, but it seems as if most musicians no longer
want to make the world a better place. Thats the conclusion I was slowly coming to until
a few weeks ago. I was losing hope for the rock scene. Rockers, once the spokes
people for telling it how it was, had become a flock of sheep abusing free speech just to
get their kicks from cursing for the fun of it. They hold so much power in their hands, but
they don’t know what to do with it.

My outlook quickly changed a few weeks ago when I stumbled upon the website for
“Poker Face”. I posted a quick reference after viewing their site at www.pokerface.com
and clicking on a sample of a bit of their music. Today, I have had the chance to check
out the entire “made in America” Cd and I am more than glad to have had the chance.
So I wanted to write this article for my viewers that have not had a chance to hear these
guys. Check these guys out, you will not be disappointed. My front page will have tracks
of their music playing from time to time.

Poker Face hits home with their music. This is one of the best bands I have heard in a
very long time. They are one of a kind. The music is great and they are not afraid to tell
it how it is. The Cd comes with an insert which is just awesome, and it also comes with an
interactive element for your computer. Very cool and very informative. If anybody in the
music biz believes in America, these guys are the ones. True patriots who are not afraid
to step out of bounds and get right in the face of the elite. This is true talent. I am blown
away.


 

If you want to listen to a bunch of fakes telling you how miserable they are living their
dreams, it won’t be hard, just listen to the weekly top 40. If, however, you would like to
hear some real heartfelt music from freedom loving American patriots, check out Poker
Face. Their music is real and straight from the heart. If nothing else, these guys are
brave. To use your talent in a proper way and not be afraid to express the truth takes
guts. Poker Face has the dream, the vision, the guts and the talent to get the job done.
This is exactly the music I have been waiting to hear. Give these guys a listen, and if you
agree that this is great stuff, I urge you to flood your local radio station with request and
spread the word. The system has a way of censoring the truth, but the truth can’t be
kept silent forever. Poker Face’s music is speaking for America, so I am more than
happy to spread the word to get their message out.

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