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UN concerns of U.S. police brutality

Written By Kenneth Brooks on 12-03-2014 | in Freedom, Critical Thinking, Democracy, Race, Government,

The United Nations’ anti-torture panel reported concerns with United States domestic policy with a high incidence of police brutality and shooting—especially against unarmed “African-Americans” and Latinos. Other concerns were growing militarization of policing activities, racial profiling and harsh conditions in many prisons. The panel expressed those concerns during its investigation of U.S. compliance with 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment.

In perfect timing, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani proved the basis of the panels concerns with remarks that tried to justify the need for brutal domestic policy based on racial profiling.  He said on national television the police killing of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson was the exception that does not exemplify a larger national problem. He said people should be protesting the bigger problem that “93 percent of blacks are killed by other blacks.” Giuliani and many other Americans ask, “What about the poor black child that is killed by the other black child? Why aren’t you protesting that?” They make this deceitfully indirect appeal to racism believing wrongly that it cancels charges of police brutality based on racial profiling.  

The American Declaration of Independence and United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) recognize “the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. In the Constitution, the American people ceded limited authority to government to protect the general welfare. Only someone ignorant of those facts would ask flippantly why the people do not express the same concern for the killing of one child by another they do for police killings.

Americans have special concerns about police fatal shootings of civilians, because police officers kill in the name and authority of the people and not as individuals. To whom would the people protest over the killing of one person by another since they did not grant this power to the killer?

In addition, Giuliani defended police policy during his administration of stopping and frisking people based on skin color and “Latino” ethnicity to “save them from killing one another.”

City of New York’s stop-and-frisk policy under Giuliani was a mugging by police officers of five million people—mostly Black-race-labeled or Latino labeled—with nine out of ten eventually walking away without arrest or a ticket according to official findings. This police policy of treating people as a racial stereotype violated UDHR—Article 6 “Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law. Article 7 All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.  Article 9  No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile. 

The same as other muggings, the frisking by police were armed assaults to advance goals of the mugger. They used force to invade the privacy of victims’ possessions and body with accompanying threat of physical harm to all that resisted. The only difference is that government does not classify those type police muggings as crimes. The victims do not have remedy for the indignity they endured, nor protection from repetition.

The 10-member UN panel recommended that all instances of police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement officers are investigated promptly, effectively and impartially by an independent mechanism with no institutional or hierarchical connection between the investigators and the alleged perpetrators.  The fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a Cleveland, Ohio police officer meets the standard for investigation.

Deputy Chief Edward Tomba explained, this is an obviously tragic event where a young member of our community lost their life. We have got two officers that were out there protecting the public that just had to, you know, do something that nobody wants to do.  This mischaracterization of events is why the people need to conduct an independent investigation of all fatal police shootings. Police reports and video focuses attention on the three to sixty seconds preceding the fatal shooting and the potential threat to officers. However, this event and police responsibility began on the public member’s report to government authority about someone waving a gun in a public park.  

Police officers had the duty to conduct a proper investigation that included consideration the report could be false. It may involve a child that viewed the officers as trusted individuals he may approach with a toy. It may involve a non-hearing person unable to hear commands and who may make hand movements in communication. It may involve a mentally ill or intoxicated person that lacked the ability to respond immediately to police commands. Or, it may be someone with criminal intent who may surrender if given time to consider the choices.  

Nobody reported anyone in imminent danger. Therefore, responding police officers should have kept a safe distance from the suspect for safety and with backup in place to prevent a potentially dangerous person from escaping. They should have delayed closer contact until they had more information about the suspect, the nature of his weapon and his intentions  The two police officers rejected this cautious and responsible approach that provided the best potential for a fatality-free resolution. Instead, they moved close to the suspect and unnecessarily placed themselves in danger. They created the crisis situation leaving only the option of an immediate compliant response to their verbal commands by the person or a fatal shooting.  

 

 

Vallejo School District's unethical conduct

Written By Kenneth Brooks on 08-14-2014 | in Critical Thinking, Vallejo, Ethics, Government,

Vallejo City Unified School District (from now on "District") employees engaged a policy of deception and false statements in response to public record requests to prevent me from inspecting public records promptly at its headquarters according to law. They claimed falsely the School Board retained and authorized DWK attorneys to speak for the District regarding my record requests. They set a charge of $234.16 that I must pay for a copy of a public record that was about 14 times greater than legal costs of duplication.

I made an August 22, 2011 public record request to see records of the District's August 2011 training of staff and teachers how to deal with students of color. It prompted the following series of contradictory and untruthful responses by the District with correspondence from DWK attorneys to me also addressed to Bishop and Shackelford.

  Superintendent Bishop and Manager of Public Record Requests Shackelford asserted the District displayed all records of the August 2011 on its website. (District's  false assertion #1) In a September 7, 2011 teleconference, Bishop admitted she had videotaped records of the training after I expressed doubt about the denial. (District assertion #2 that reversed assertion #1)

Bishop asked me to delay inspection of the videotapes until she completed the CD production copies for her advisory group. I agreed, although the California Public Records Act ("CPRA") required that she make the request in writing for a delay of no more than 14 days. My September 27, 2011 email telling the District to comply with the CPRA after 20 days passed.

DWK attorney's October 4, 2011 email asserted the District did not have records of the August 2011 training it had not already provided to me. (School District assertion #3 contradicting assertion #2) I responded with a recital of Bishop's September 7, 2011 remarks.

DWK attorney's October 27, 2011 email, "[T]he videotape of the training has been compiled and copied. The reproduction cost is $234.16. Please advise if your are willing to pay the fee. (School District assertion #4 contradicting assertion #3) I disagreed that I must pay costs to inspect a public record.

DWK attorney's emails of October 31, 2011 and November 01, 2011, "If you would like to have the compilation, the $234.16 in reproduction cost must first be paid to the District. If you would instead, like to view the source tapes and/or the compilation at the District Office, you may do so by appointment, free of charge. (District's assertion #5 contradicting assertion #4)

In a November 2, 2011 email, I made a November 3, 2011 appointment to see only the source videotapes. School District employees did not deliver them. I asked Shackelford about the missing videotapes and she directed me to leave the District's office and wait for the attorneys to contact me. DWK responded November 4, 2011, "[T]he CD you were given an opportunity to view yesterday include all the source material from the training." (New School District assertion #6 contradicting assertion #5)

I questioned the authority of DWK to speak for the District regarding my public record request in an October 31, 2011 correspondence to Superintendent Bishop, Shackelford, and DWK.

 DWK attorneys November 1, 2011 response, "I can assure you that our office has been retained to represent the District with regard to your Public Record Act requests and that we are authorized by the District Board and Dr. Bishop to speak on the District's behalf in this  matter." (School District false assertion of DWK's authority #1)

I asked in a February 15, 2012 record request, "[T]o see the public records in the District's files of the contract or document designating or authorizing DWK law firm to act as the District's public records agent for making responses to public records request submitted by Kenneth Brooks."

DWK attorney's February 24, 2012 response, "As you know, DWK is legal counsel to the District. Its authority to act as the District's agent stems from, and is dictated by, its agreement for professional services with the District. If this is what you are referring to with regard to the term public records agent please let me know and the District will provide you with a copy of that agreement." (School District deceptive assertion of authority #2 contradicting assertion of authority #1)

 The red herring fallacy in logic is one of relevance whereby someone with goals to deceive responds to a subject different from and not relevant to the subject discussed. The first sentence of DWK's response identifies its duty as independent contractor to act as the District's legal counsel based on the Agreement for Professional Services made May 2011. This subject is different from the subject of my February 15, 2012 record request. The agreement for professional services would task DWK to advise the superintendent if the law exempted a record from disclosure. It did not authorize DWK at the rate of $211 to $255 per hour to communicate information or copies or records that by law I had the right to receive directly from employees of the District at its headquarters. 

Superintendent Bishop's letter of May 21, 2013 said,  "In his February 24, 2012 correspondence to you, Mr. Gould explained that there wasn't a document specifically authorizing DWK to represent the District in this matter, rather that there was an agreement between DWK and the District authorizing DWK to more generally provide legal services as required." (District's assertion #3 that retracts DWK false assertion of authority #1) Nevertheless, she continued the red herring diversion by referring to the non-relevant agreement for professional services.

Bishop added, If you were not satisfied that DWK was authorized to represent the District, then the DWK invoices with references to your CPRA matters and cancelled District checks for payment . . . should have sufficiently answered that question for you. (District's false assertion #4 of DWK's authority) Contrary to Bishop's assertion, those paid invoices are only evidence she misspent the District's money without proper authority since she previously admitted the School Board did not retain DWK for this purpose. 

I filed a Writ Petition of Mandate in Superior Court September 10, 2013 for an order to compel School District to deliver the videotapes and other records for my inspection. The District filed this sworn declaration of Alana Shackelford,  "[W]e received the DVD from the person who recorded the training. We offered Mr. Brooks the choice of receiving a copy of the DVD (in exchange for production-related costs) or coming to the District's office to view the DVD. Mr. Brooks chose to come to the office to view the DVD, which he did on November 3, 2011."(Shackelford's false declaration #1 disproved by DWK emails of October 31 and November 1, 2011 and Brooks email November 2, 2011 disprove   )

Shackelford continues,  "Mr. Brooks refers to "source tapes" from the August 22, 2011, training. I do not know why he keeps implying that the District has other "source tapes" he was not provided when he came to the District on November 3, 2013. (Shackelford false assertion #2)  Shackelford's next remark, contradicts the previous remark, "Although the District's attorneys referred to videotapes in their letters to Mr. Brooks." (Shackelford's assertion #3 contradicting her false assertion #2 about the videotapes)

Shackelford's declaration the District received the DVD from the videographer affirms the District had not incurred $234.16 cost of compiling the videotapes onto the CD that it set as costs I must pay for a copy of the CD. The CPRA sets direct costs of duplication as the amount a government agency may charge for the copy of a public record. Direct costs of duplicating the CD should amount to no more than $15.00. The District or Solano District Attorney should charge those employees with fraud as it would charge me if I knowingly claimed reimbursement from government of costs 14 times greater the actual costs I incurred.  

There were other occasions of Superintendent Bishop's perverse application of authority. On May 15, 2013, I asked District for a response to my April 29, 2013 record request that was five days past the time required by law. Instead, Superintendent Bishop directed me to leave the District's office and wait for a letter response. Four months later, I included this record request in the Writ Petition when the District still had not responded to it.

The District's October 4, 2013 correspondence blamed me because Superintendent Bishop had not responded to my April 29, 2013 record request before I filed the Writ Petition. It said, "You failed to notify the District of this oversight even though Dr. Bishop represented in her May 21.2013, correspondence that "all responsive and unprivileged documents . . . have been produced." This response shows that Superintendent Bishop's compliance with law is so arbitrary that she confuses herself and office staff members about the truth and about compliance standards. Nevertheless, they are persistent in shifting blame. Probably, they believe I owed Bishop another opportunity to demean me.

Respect for truthfulness and open-mindedness are personal traits required for learning, for proficient reasoning and for academic institutions tasked to assist students' learning.  Vallejo School District administrators' conduct models an opposite philosophy of deception and authoritarianism. Vallejo School Board and city residents can move to correct this deficiency or remain passive and endure the result. Our children deserve corrective action.


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