The “Bounty” Police Force? Albuquerque Officers Face Protests, Probe over Spate of Fatal Shootings
1 April, 2014 – Democracy Now
Outrage is growing in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after the latest incident in a spate of police shootings. Video footage captured by a police helmet camera shows officers killing James Boyd, a homeless man who appeared to be surrendering to them at a campsite where he was sleeping. Boyd is seen picking up his belongings and turning away when officers deploy a flash grenade and then fire six live rounds at him from yards away. The Albuquerque Police Department has come under federal scrutiny for being involved in 37 shootings since 2010, 23 of them fatal. This week the FBI confirmed it is investigating the killing of Boyd, and the Justice Department has already been investigating the city’s police shootings for more than a year. We are joined by Russell Contreras, an Associated Press reporter who was tear-gassed while covering the Sunday protest and has been following the police shootings. We also speak to Nora Tachias-Anaya, a social justice activist whose nephew, George Levy Tachias, was fatally shot by police while driving in Albuquerque in 1988. Tachias-Anaya is a member of the October 22 Coalition To Stop Police Brutality.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
RENÉE FELTZ: We begin today’s show in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where hundreds marched over the weekend to protest a spate of deadly police shootings. The march began peacefully, lasting at least eight hours, and ended when police fired tear gas at demonstrators who blocked traffic. Albuquerque has one of the highest per capita rates of fatal police shootings in the country. In the latest incident, police killed a homeless man named James Boyd, who appeared to be surrendering to them at a campsite where he was sleeping.
AMY GOODMAN: Video from a police helmet camera shows Boyd picking up his belongings and turning away from the police, when the officers deploy a flash grenade and fire six live shots at Boyd from yards away. That’s after he picked up his belongings and appeared to turn away. Police fired beanbags and let loose a police dog on Boyd as he lay on the ground, still alive, pleading with officers not to hurt him and saying he could not move.
This is a clip from the Albuquerque police video of their encounter with James Boyd. Boyd died from his injuries the next day. After footage of the police shooting him went viral, the hacker group Anonymous called on people in Albuquerque to protest.
ANONYMOUS: Recently, a video has been released to the public which shows Albuquerque police officers murdering a man in cold blood for illegally camping. This man, which was schizophrenic, obviously had no intention of hurting these police officers. On the contrary, this man looks as if he is simply attempting to protect himself from visually fierce, militarized thugs. Whether this man had a history of crime is irrelevant. We drastically need to address the growing police state that has occupied our country. When will we say, “No more”? How many more citizens will be murdered? Naturally, the APD will attempt to label Anonymous as a terrorist organization for our demands of justice. But the question has to be asked: Who do we terrorize? Is it not the growing police state that terrorizes its own citizens?
AMY GOODMAN: On Sunday, Anonymous claimed responsibility for taking down the Albuquerque Police Department’s website for several hours.
The police department has come under federal scrutiny for being involved in 37 shootings since 2010, 23 of them fatal. This week, the FBI confirmed it’s investigating the killing of James Boyd, and the Justice Department has already been investigating the city’s police shootings for more than a year. …more
Bahrain Shias protest against government
22 March, 2014 – Al Jazeera
Thousands of Bahrainis, mainly from the Shia majority, demonstrated near Manama on Friday against what they described as sectarian discrimination in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.
“No to discrimination,” chanted protesters brandishing Bahrain’s red-and-white flag as they marched along Budaiya main road, which links Shia villages with the capital, witnesses said.
Some protesters later clashed with riot police, who replied with tear gas.
Ali Salman, the chief cleric of the main Shia formation Al-Wefaq, was among leaders of the opposition who participated, according to images the group posted online.
They carried posters of prominent opponents jailed over their roles in the short-lived uprising of February 2011, including the Sunni head of the secular Waed party, Ibrahim Sharif, who is serving a five-year sentence.
“Sectarian discrimination is eating into the body of Bahrain in a systematic way applied by authorities,” opposition groups said in a statement at the end of the demonstration, referring to the Al-Khalifa dynasty.
The protest was held on the occasion of the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Bahrain remains deeply divided three years after authorities quashed a Shia-led uprising, with regular protests sparking clashes with police, scores of Shia jailed on “terrorism” charges and reconciliation talks deadlocked. …more
On 10 March 2014, 27 experts sent a letter to United States President Barack Obama urging him to address the growing crisis in Bahrain with counterparts in Saudi Arabia during his upcoming visit to the country. Please continue reading for the full letter or click here for a PDF.
Dear President Obama,
We are writing to encourage you to discuss the crisis in Bahrain with your counterparts in Saudi Arabia during your upcoming visit to the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia has significant influence in Bahrain through its strong political, economic, and social ties with the Bahrainis. Real and lasting stability in Bahrain can only be achieved through genuine reform, and we call on you to urge the Saudi leadership to play a more constructive role in this regard.
As Deputy Secretary of State William Burns recently noted, when the United States and the Gulf “work in concert, we can help shape outcomes that not only advance reform, but also advance stability.” You have a key opportunity to achieve this goal in Bahrain.
As the situation in Bahrain continues to deteriorate, addressing this issue must be an urgent priority. The State Department recently assessed the Bahraini government’s progress in implementing the recommendations of the 2011 Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), and found that only five of its 26 recommendations were fully implemented. The assessment also recognized the Government’s failure to investigate claims of torture and cases that resulted in death, to ensure that individuals are no longer charged or detained for exercising their right to free speech, or to foster an environment that promotes dialogue.
Efforts last year to negotiate a political solution collapsed after the process failed to deliver any real progress, key opposition figures were arrested, and human rights violations continued. As you said in 2011, “The only way forward is for the government and opposition to engage in a dialogue, and you can’t have a real dialogue when parts of the peaceful opposition are in jail. The government must create the conditions for dialogue, and the opposition must participate to forge a just future for all Bahrainis.” That was true then, and remains true today. …more
Videos, Photos Offer Evidence of Press Corruption by Gross Understimation of Protest Size in Bahrain
The Western Press has deliberately underestimated the size of Bahrain Anniversary Protest. They have consistently reported the crowd size at 10s of thousands, when photo evidence suggests crowds in the 100s of thousands. This is an indication that Al Khalifa Public Relations Dollars have effectively bought “Western Media” outlets to “contrive a false reality” about the Situation Bahrain. Phlipn Out.
3 Years of Rape, Torture, Murder, Gassing, Police Impunity, is Retalitation Against Police Surpirse?
Hall’s work in cultural studies offers unique insight into the role of the youth in the Arab revolutions.
Stuart Hall’s revolutionary legacy
16 February, 2014 – Mark LeVine – AlJazeera
Of all the insights offered by the seminal Jamaican-British cultural theorist Stuart Hall, who passed away on February 10 this year, one of the most relevant for anyone concerned about the Arab world today was his argument that “identities are an endless, unfinished conversation.” It’s hard to think of a better summary of why the revolutions that started with so much hope across the Arab world in the winter of 2010-2011 have had such a hard time producing a positive outcome.
It’s not merely that elites and the systems that have long protected them remain too powerful for their peoples to bring down. It’s that in this long but still liminal historical post-Cold War moment, precisely what kind of “people” Egyptians, Moroccans, Libyans, Bahrainis and others want collectively to be remains very much undecided.
Stuart Hall is perhaps the best known exponent of the academic discipline of cultural studies, which emerged in the post-war era, first in the UK, then in the US and soon after that globally as one of the most important approaches to studying contemporary societies. From his early days with the New Left Review and then at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies in Birmingham and the Open University, Hall’s research studied how and why political and economic systems retain the consent of societies, even when their policies do not serve their economic or political interests.
Of all the disciplines that emerged out of Karl Marx’s economic and historiographic theories, none could claim to have taken his call for schools not merely to interpret the world but openly to change it with and through the knowledge they produce as has cultural studies. Of course, whether or not they want or are willing to admit it, all scholars are engaged in the business of transforming the world, or at least people’s perception and experience of it. It’s just that most of the time they reinforce rather than challenge the status quo.
Cultural studies’ activist roots run deep into the pre-World War II era, when studies of culture in Britain were relegated to workingmen’s associations lectures and adult education courses. It was only after the War that the burgeoning number of “youth” suddenly became a problem governments needed to address in order to manage society at large.
Building on the insights of thinkers like Antonio Gramsci and his concept of “hegemony,” Michel Foucault’s studies of the myriad ways power and knowledge flow through societies, and the seminal research of the Frankfurt School, cultural studies scholars explored emerging post-War British youth subcultures to understand how their unique sense of style, and their seemingly rebellious and threatening attitudes towards the establishment, most often reinforced rather than challenged the hegemonic political systems of the West.
From the start, cultural studies scholars understood that movements such as the Mods, Teds, hippies, punks, and hip-hoppers, all contained the potential for political action. Some even directly participated in powerful movements such as the civil rights and anti-war movements. Yet all fell prey to what Thomas Frank has so well described as the “conquest of cool” by capital – the seemingly ineluctable ability of the market to coopt, commodify and in so doing defang even the most subversive forms of popular culture.
Part of Hall’s genius was his ability to understand the relationship between the strengths and weaknesses of subcultures and the emerging global ideology and political economy of neoliberalism and neoconservatism, which he described under the rubric of “thatcherism”.
At the very moment that a neoconservative, semi-authoritarian populism was becoming politically, economically and culturally ascendant across the US and UK, Hall’s research opened up youth culture globally to investigation by scholars working in a variety of disciplines. The goal of his research was continuously to seek to make theory more relevant to practice, to provide tools for exploring popular culture that would help scholars not merely understand its dynamics, but help young people more successfully reshape their societies towards a more just and equitable future.
Sub-, counter- and revolutionary cultures
Given the importance of “youth” to any hope for political change in the Arab world (as the Carnegie Middle East Center put it not long before the outbreak of the Arab uprisings), the work Hall helped foster has opened innumerable paths to study the way culture, politics, and economics are aesthetically embedded in one another, in particular through the consumption of various forms of artistic production.
As the Arab world became more fully enmeshed in global neoliberalism and globalised Euro-American cultural norms and patterns of consumption began to penetrate the region, the need to apply the insights of cultural studies to the changes being experienced by the emerging generation of citizens became more important. The writing, was quite literally on the walls, in the soccer stadiums, in the lyrics of hiphop songs and the dark explosive sound of the local heavy metal scenes. All of these portrayed a situation far at odds with the rosy picture of countries like Tunisia and Egypt painted by the IMF and the World Bank.
Indeed, when I met the first generation of bloggers in Egypt and across the region in the 2000s, it was abundantly clear that they saw little place for themselves in the changing political-economic landscapes of their countries. They increasingly had the means to imagine, define and pursue alternative futures than the ones being – or rather, not being – laid out for them by their societies. …more
Bahrain sends letter to UN chief
16 February, 2014 – Gulf Daily News
BAHRAIN yesterday sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, highlighting the systematic campaign of terror faced by the kingdom.
Minister of State for Information Affairs and official government spokeswoman Sameera Rajab submitted the memo to United Nations Information Centre director for the Gulf Countries Nejib Friji.
It is in response to a statement made by UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky.
“We would like to remind the Secretary General that Bahrain has been confronting, for years now, a systematic terror campaign, perpetrated by a misled group directly condoned and harboured by extremist religious figures and backed by foreign parties, which provide radical ideological indoctrination, training in the use of homemade explosives and all types of weapons, which they get through smuggling, noting that Bahrain has foiled a number of dangerous smuggling operations.
“We would like to inform the Secretary General that the February 14 Coalition, which operates outside the realm of the law on opposition societies and parties, calls for civil disobedience, disrupts citizens and residents’ interests and attacks policemen with firebombs (Molotov cocktails) and homemade explosives,” the letter said.
“We would also inform Mr Ban that this same group, officially branded a terror organisation by Bahrain, had claimed responsibility for planting booby-trapped cars in public places, which caused the death of policemen and endangered citizens and residents’ safety and security.
“We would like to draw to the attention of the Secretary General that the authorities in Bahrain are dealing with these developments in accordance with the law and in full commitment to the international human rights conventions and the international human rights law.
“The authorities in Bahrain abide, with utmost transparency, by legal procedures to maintain social security and safety,” the letter said..