WATCH: Police Officer Reprimanded For Throat-Grab Incident in Kalamazoo


KALAMAZOO, MI — A police sergeant was reprimanded for inappropriately grabbing a man by the throat during a July 10 arrest on Kalamazoo’s Northside.

The grab was described by Kalamazoo Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley as “a subject control method not taught or recommended.”

Hadley announced the reprimand Tuesday afternoon involving Sgt. Derrick Turner, a 10-year veteran officer who was patrolling the 700 block of Hawley Street on July 10, when the incident occurred.

A complaint about the incident was leveled by the family of Diante Churchwell, 20, of Kalamazoo. He and his younger brother were arrested that night.

After saying he had reviewed an internal investigation, KDPS policies, video evidence and the sergeant’s work history, Hadley stated in a press release that he would “sustain” the complaint about the incident “and found that Sgt. Turner violated the Use of Force Policy by utilizing ‘a subject control method not taught or recommended.’”

He said Turner was given a written reprimand by him for the violation of KDPS Policy and will undergo additional training.

Hadley said Turner had just arrested Churchwell’s 17-year-old brother Antonio at about 9:14 p.m. outside an abandoned house in the 700 block of Hawley Street when Turner and other officers were approached in an aggressive manner by Diante Churchwell. Hadley stated that Diante pushed pass some officers to find the officer who had arrested his brother.

On Tuesday, Aug. 15, KDPS released two body cam videos and a patrol car dash cam video of the incident.

“Sgt. Turner had every right to address the aggressive manner and approach utilized and displayed by Diante Churchwell,” Hadley said. “However the method he chose was not appropriate for the circumstances and fell outside KDPS policy.”

Hadley said, however, “I did not find the actions by Sgt. Turner to be malicious or egregious.

The charges come as a surprise to the family of Antonio and Diante Churchwell, their parents say.

Timeeko Churchwell, father of Diante and Antonio, said he has seen the body cam videos and thinks Diante was inappropriately grabbed by the throat. Attempts to contact the father Tuesday afternoon were not successful. But Rev. Strick Strickland, local NAACP president, said he is disappointed by the officer’s punishment.

“I’m not mad. I’m not angry. I’m disappointed,” said Strickland, who leads the Metropolitan Kalamazoo Branch of the NAACP. He said he hopes to meet with KDPS on Wednesday, Aug. 16, to learn how the decision was made and “talk about how we move forward from here.”

“We said initially that we were looking for accountability and also looking to make sure that there was no double-standard,” he said, speaking of police officers compared to other citizens. “However, if I put my hands around your neck it’s an assault. If you put your hands around my neck it’s an assault. But if KDPS puts their hands around your neck it’s a written reprimand. I find that to be unacceptable and distasteful at the least.”

Strickland met with a KDPS command officer days after the incident on behalf of the Churchwells. He said the incident was not one that involves a violation of civil rights but one in which the community wants to hold the police responsible for policing themselves.

Among other things Hadley noted in his findings, “It is evident from the officer’s body cam video, he (Diante Churchwell) was displeased with Antonio’s arrest and demanded to speak with the arresting officer. After being advised he would have to wait, he pushed his way through the scene where the arrest took place and vigorously walked toward Sgt. Turner. Diante Churchwell is heard utilizing racially charged language towards Sgt. Turner as he advanced towards him in an aggressive manner coming face to face with Sgt. Turner.”

Both Churchwell and Turner are African-American men.

“Video clearly captured Diante’s aggravated emotional state in his body language as well as verbal language,” Hadley stated, “which a reasonable person/officer would feel an assault is probable.”

Antonio Churchwell, 17, faces a charge of delivering or manufacturing a controlled substance (narcotics or cocaine) less than 50 grams; and for assaulting, resisting or obstructing a police officer. Police video shows Turner in a physical struggle with Antonio after ordering him to take his hand out of his pocket.

KDPS alleges that Turner found a bag of suspected crack cocaine in Antonio’s pants pocket.

The drug charge carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison upon conviction. The resisting and obstructing police charge is punishable by up to two years in prison.

Diante Churchwell, 20, faces a charge of attempted assaulting, resisting or obstructing police. That is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail or a fine of up to $1,000.

Source: http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2017/08/police_officer_reprimanded_for.html

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WATCH: Baltimore Officials Agree to Pay $135K to Unarmed Man Shot by Police


Baltimore’s spending panel has approved a $135,000 payment to settle a lawsuit filed by an unarmed man who was shot in the leg by police.

The payment to John Rau III settles the lawsuit he filed against police Major Byron Conaway and the Baltimore Police Department. The Board of Estimates, which is controlled by Mayor Catherine Pugh, voted for the deal.

At issue were the events of Sept. 28, 2015, near the 2400 block of Washington Boulevard in Morrell Park. Conaway approached Rau, suspecting narcotics activity, according to city officials.

Conaway said Rau did not respond to commands and refused to show his hands. Fearing Rau was armed, Conaway shot Rau in the thigh. No weapons and drugs were found on Rau.

Rau said he suffered physical, emotional, mental and financial injuries as a result of the shooting. He filed a lawsuit seeking $1 million in damages.

City lawyers said they decided to settle the case after reviewing the facts and legal issues involved in the suit.

In 2016, Baltimore prosecutors said the police commander did nothing illegal and determined the shooting was justified. The prosecutor who investigated the case told The Baltimore Sun at the time that Conaway had no way of knowing that Rau wasn’t armed.

Prosecutors explain why they decided shooting by Baltimore police commander was justified
The shooting was captured by a surveillance camera.

Rau told investigators he couldn’t initially tell who Conaway was, then was startled when the officer drew his firearm and pointed it toward him, according to his taped interview with police.

“I ain’t do nothing, and you’re pointing a gun at me,” Rau said. “I just had a feeling he was going to shoot me. And he shot me.”

Source: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-ci-shooting-settlement-20171011-story.html

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Judge Upholds $15M Verdict Against Lakewood in Killing of Unarmed Man

Leonard Thomas, a 30-year-old father and unarmed black man, was killed by police in 2013. A jury awarded more than $15 million to his family, and a judge has upheld the jury verdict.

A federal judge has upheld a $15.1 million jury verdict against the city of Lakewood in Pierce County, Police Chief Mike Zaro and two other Lakewood officers for killing Leonard Thomas during a 2013 SWAT operation, taking the opportunity to scold the defense for suggesting the jury was motivated by fear of racial backlash if it exonerated the officers for killing an unarmed black man.

In a blistering 69-page order published Thursday, U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein rejected a string of post-trial motions by Lakewood, Zaro and two other officers — Sgt. Brian Markert and Officer Mike Wiley — asking her to either reduce or set aside the verdicts, grant the officers immunity from liability or order a new trial.

Instead, Rothstein swept aside the defense’s stubborn rejection of the verdict and insistence in the face of all evidence that the unarmed Thomas, a 30-year-old father who was having an emotional crisis, posed a threat to police or his 4-year-old son when he was shot by Markert, a SWAT sniper, after a four-hour standoff at Thomas’ home in Fife.

Rothstein found there was ample evidence for the jury to have concluded that Zaro and the others acted outrageously, unreasonably and with malice and callous indifference to the life of Thomas, or the impact their actions would have on his young son and parents.

Thomas’ mother, Annalesa Thomas, said she’s grateful: “I am speechless and in tears and thankful beyond words,” she wrote in an email. “Leonard’s justice prevailed.”

Instead of trying to help Thomas, the judge wrote, every step police took that night made it more likely he would die.

But Rothstein reserved her sharpest comments to chastise the city’s lawyers for repeatedly implying that the case — and the jury’s verdict — was influenced by race.

In pleadings and during a Dec. 5 hearing, attorneys from the Seattle firm Keating Bucklin and McCormack — hired to represent the city — argued that community sentiment about police use of excessive force against African Americans improperly influenced the verdict.

At the hearing, attorney Richard Jolley told the court that “what the jury found here is that they weren’t going to go back to their individual communities and tell the people that they associate with, we found in favor of white cops that shot an unarmed black man.”

Rothstein took judicial umbrage at those remarks and the defense contention.

“Without any evidence — without any factual foundation whatsoever — defendants have chosen to malign one of this country’s most sacred civic institutions, the impartially selected petit jury,” she said.

“The suggestion that this jury flouted its charge and colluded to hold government officials liable merely to advance the jurors’ individual reputations is not simply frivolous; it is insulting to our constitutional order,” she wrote.

“And the notion that the American justice system can be characterized by an illegitimate solicitude for black victims of alleged police misconduct is so painfully ahistorical that one wonders whether Defendants advance this argument seriously,” she said.

She found the argument particularly vexing, she said, since it was the defense that successfully persuaded her to preclude showing prospective jurors a video about unconscious bias, that they helped pick and approved the jury, and “notwithstanding the fact, should it even matter, that none of the jurors were African American.”

In addition to $8.6 million in compensatory damages, the jury imposed $6.5 million in punitive damages: $3 million against Zaro, who was in command that night and who gave the orders that led to the shooting; $2 million against Markert, the sniper who shot Thomas in the stomach with a precision high-powered rifle; and $1.5 million against Wiley, who led an assault team that blew down the back door of Thomas’ house and killed the family dog, Baxter.

The city has argued that those damages would amount to a “financial death sentence” for the officers, since they are not covered by the city’s insurance.

“The jury’s conclusion that the Defendants’ escalation and use of force resulting in the death of Leonard exhibited malice, recklessness, or callous indifference to Plaintiffs’ rights was a reasonable conclusion based on the evidence presented to them,” the judge found.

The city of Lakewood declined to comment on the judge’s ruling.

“The city continues to have no comment as this is active litigation,” Brynn Grimley, communications manager for the city, said in an email.

For full story visit: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/crime/scolding-defense-judge-upholds-15m-verdict-against-lakewood-police-in-killing-of-unarmed-black-man/

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Bypassed Police Sergeant Alleges Cheating on 2015 Lieutenant’s Exam


Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson could not substantiate allegations of cheating on a 2015 police lieutenants exam that allegedly benefited three women, one of whom is now married to Police Supt. Eddie Johnson.

But that’s apparently not good enough to satisfy Sgt. Hosea Word, who claims he was bypassed because of the cheating that benefited Johnson’s wife, Lt. Nakia Fenner, along with Lt. Maryet Hall, the wife of former First Deputy Supt. Al Wysinger, and Lt. Davina Ward, who was allegedly involved with then-Deputy Superintendent Eugene Williams.

Word filed a lawsuit in federal court this week, alleging that Johnson, Wysinger and Williams “shared the answers” to the 2015 exam “with certain female officers that they were dating or had married.”

The goal was to “manipulate the examination process and to ensure that their wives and girlfriends would score well on the lieutenant’s exam,” the suit alleges. The alleged cheating “enabled persons to be promoted who had not fairly and honestly earned that right.”

The episode is “part of a pattern and practice that includes rigging hiring and promotion examinations” that the city was aware of and chose not to remediate, the lawsuit states.

Word took the 2015 exam and ranked 280 out of 700.

His lawsuit names four defendants: the city of Chicago, Johnson, Williams and Wysinger.

It seeks a preliminary injunction “ordering removal of the promotion list tainted by the fraudulent testing” and the appointment of an “independent and impartial special master or third-party to oversee the testing process” at the police department.

If granted, such an injunction would also prohibit the city from retaliating against Word, reimburse him for attorney’s fees and expert costs, and award him “all relief to which plaintiff may be entitled.”

The Law Department refused to comment on the lawsuit.

Williams was a subject matter expert who helped develop the exam and was the “final reviewer of potential exam content.” He has repeatedly refused to discuss the coaching allegations and has since retired.

The three women were among 26 sergeants promoted after doing well on the test. Hall scored a No. 1 ranking. Fenner finished 17th. Ward was No. 24.

Last year, Ferguson cleared the three women of allegations that they cheated on the exam with help from Williams, now retired.

That’s even after interviewing 20 individuals, including “the chief who held an invite-only study group,” reviewing 300,000 emails and conducting searches of 600,000 files on the chief’s hard drive to locate relevant documents.

Ferguson did conclude that “historically based perceptions of preferential treatment . . . could be mitigated” with more rigorous controls throughout the promotional process.

The inspector general’s follow-up advisory also highlighted what Ferguson called a “matter of significant concern” that may have impeded his investigation into Johnson’s fiancee and the other two women, all of who recorded high scores on the exam and were subsequently promoted to lieutenant.

Although the inspector general has primary responsibility for investigating misconduct affecting hiring and promotions in the post-Shakman era, Ferguson noted that the police department’s Bureau of Internal Affairs “failed to forward the original complaint” about cheating on the 2015 lieutenants exam to his office in a “timely fashion.”

“The 13-month delay . . . hindered timely inquiry and may have contributed to the widespread failed recollections,” Ferguson wrote then.

Internal Affairs “should have forwarded the original complaint” to the inspector general’s office immediately as the police department hiring plan requires, he said.

In response, the police department “acknowledges limitations” in the process for drafting and administering promotional exams.

In a scathing report on the Chicago Police Department, the U.S. Justice Department discussed Ferguson’s investigation of Johnson’s fiancee and the others, and devoted a section to CPD’s much-criticized promotion process.

“In addition to litigation concerning the tests’ discriminatory impact, promotional exams also have been tainted with allegations of cheating and cronyism in the exam’s preparations or administration,” states the report. The women weren’t identified, but sources said the investigation was looking into allegations that Williams, a former finalist for police superintendent, improperly coached them.

Word’s lawsuit points to the DOJ report.

“When unqualified or under-qualified persons are promoted to higher ranks within the CPD, those persons are more likely to authorize or condone the use of excessive force against civilians and are not as knowledgeable or capable of employing or instructing others on de-escalation,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit claims the “wives and girlfriends” of Johnson, Wysinger and Williams “did not score in the top tier” of the 2006 lieutenant’s exam and that Wysinger’s wife was ranked 280 out of 700.

Source: https://chicago.suntimes.com/chicago-politics/bypassed-police-sergeant-alleges-cheating-on-2015-lieutenants-exam/

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WATCH: Ex-Commissioner Speeds But Shows Badge and Gets Out of Traffic Ticket

Knox County Commission candidate R. Larry Smith

An at-large County Commission candidate, also an ex-commissioner, got out of a speeding ticket in December after flashing a badge to a Knox County deputy.

R. Larry Smith was pulled over for going 60 mph on East Emory Road. The entire incident is captured on Sgt. Dustin Farmer’s police body cam.

“The reason I pulled you over is you were doing 60 (mph) back there on East Emory, OK,” Farmer said. “And normally that wouldn’t be a big issue, but there is just a lot of people coming through there right now, OK. I understand you’re in a hurry to get where you’re going and it’s New Year’s and the holidays, all right.”

Farmer asked Smith to show some identification and Smith haphazardly pulled out the badge while pulling out his ID.

“It’s all right, it’s all right,” Farmer said while waving his hand.

“All right, thank you, bud,” Smith said.

Knox County Sheriff Office spokeswoman Martha Dooley said the badge Smith pulled out is not the current badge used by anyone at the Sheriff’s office.

“It’s a different badge. I will tell you that. We changed over,” she said. “The current badge is circular with a star inside it.”

When reached by phone Friday night, Smith said the badge is a sheriff’s office-issued handgun carry permit he got in 2014. He said it expires later this year. He did not have a handgun in his vehicle when he was pulled over.

“I did not flash a badge as seen on the video. I did not flash a badge,” Smith said.

“(It was a) handgun carry permit issued to me on Oct. 8, 2014, issued to me by the Knox County Sheriff Office. I didn’t ask for any special treatment.

“I did not request not to be cited for the traffic violation,” he continued. “It was his decision not to ticket me.”

Dooley said the sheriff’s office is looking into the incident. She said the body cam video is legitimate.

“R. Larry Smith does have an active special deputy card that allows him to carry a weapon,” Dooley said in an emailed statement. “He was issued the card when he was a Knox County Commissioner and has renewed it ever since then.

“It’s up to the officer’s discretion in most incidents whether a warning or a ticket will be issued. Officer Farmer stated he had been warning drivers on Emory Road and intended to do the same when he stopped Smith.”

A star-shaped badge appears in former Knox County Commissioner R. Larry Smith’s wallet as he retrieves identification after being stopped for speeding.

Smith served two terms on commission representing North Knox County’s 7th District before leaving office because of term limits.

The USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee reported in October that a prosecutor decided not to press sexual battery charges against Smith although the alleged victim was “very credible.

Smith was accused of inappropriately touching the woman in her home while he was selling insurance on Feb. 27, 2017, according to the investigative file obtained by the USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee. The woman said she was a friend of Smith’s family.

Source: https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/local/2018/01/12/video-ex-commissioner-speeds-but-flashes-badge-get-out-traffic-ticket/1030227001/

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Cop Caught on Video Smashing Handcuffed Woman’s Face to the Floor—No Charges

handcuffedhandcuffed

Coldwater, MI — Last July, Tiffany McNeil would walk into the Branch County Jail only to leave in a stretcher moments later after being brutally assaulted by a police officer and knocked unconscious while she was handcuffed. That police officer was identified in a report by TFTP last month as Coldwater police officer Lewis Eastmead and now it appears the department is letting him quietly slip away with no punishment.

As is the case so many times, officers who are facing potential punishment for crimes committed while on duty, they are allowed to quietly resign and become gypsy cops only to be hired at another department down the road. While we cannot confirm that is the case in Coldwater, it appears from the department’s tight-lipped statement that it is highly probable.

As WTVB reported this week, Coldwater City Manager Keith Baker said in a two sentence statement on Friday night that Lewis Eastmead was no longer employed by the City of Coldwater.

He did not say if Eastmead was terminated or if he resigned. All Baker said was that Eastmead was no longer employed by the city as of January 12th, 2018 and that as a result of ongoing litigation, no further comment will be made at this time, reported the WTVB.

Because of the heavy public backlash over this video, if Eastmead was fired, this information would’ve been released to show that the department cares about accountability and transparency. However, this move makes it quite obvious that they care about neither.

What happened while McNeil, 31, was being processed into jail that fateful day is now the subject of a federal lawsuit alleging that police used excessive force and then lied about what happened. The incident—in which a half dozen cops stood by and watched their brother in blue smash a handcuffed woman’s face into the pavement—was also captured on video.

“It was absolutely egregious, disgusting, thug-like conduct,” McNeil’s attorney, Solomon Radner, said. “You don’t expect that from police officers, and it shouldn’t be tolerated.”

On July 24, police were called to McNeil’s home by her husband during an argument. According to the lawsuit, McNeil had been drinking which sparked the argument.

McNeil was arrested and brought to the Branch County Jail to be processed for the incident. As police bring her into the secured entrance, we can see this disturbing scenario unfold.

The woman-beating cop is seen shoving McNeil’s face into the concrete wall for several minutes. The entire time, McNeil is non-combative and not resisting in the least—not to mention, she’s in handcuffs.

All of the sudden, the officer begins pressing her face into the wall with both hands before pulling her backward and slamming her face-first into the concrete floor. McNeil was knocked out immediately.

During the attack on the restrained woman, five other cops watched as their brother in blue degraded the young woman by shoving her face into the wall and not a single one of them intervened as he slammed her to the floor.

In a most disturbing image, once Eastmead realizes McNeil is knocked unconscious, he rolls his victim over to reveal a puddle of blood on the floor coming from the massive gash in her head.

“I told you to relax,” the officer yells, with his knee now on McNeil’s back as she lay motionless on the ground.

For nearly 15 minutes, police prodded the unconscious woman as she lay entirely unresponsive on the concrete. Finally, EMTs arrive and bring her to the hospital where, according to Radner, McNeil received 17 stitches and was treated for a concussion.

After being treated in the hospital, police charged McNeil with felony resisting a police officer. To justify this charge, police then lied on their report, claiming McNeil was being “combative” and “actively resisting arrest,” according to the lawsuit.

Obviously, McNeil was not being combative as we can clearly see that fact in the video. She was doing nothing wrong when Eastmead attacked her.

“The cover-up started almost immediately. Unfortunately for them, we have audio and video recordings of what took place and they’re not going to be able to hide from that,” Radner said. “The bottom line is that officer Eastmead grabbed her, spun her around, threw her face first into the concrete with such force that it knocked her unconscious.”

Radner explained that police brought the felony charge against her to force her into taking a plea deal for the domestic misdemeanor charge to which she pleaded no contest. The felony resisting charge was then dropped.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Eastmead and about a dozen other officers and police department supervisors, including the officers who witnessed the incident, are listed among the defendants, with some identified by name and others listed as John Doe. McNeil is also suing the city of Coldwater.

Along with the excessive force claim, the lawsuit alleges unreasonable seizure; abuse of process and malicious prosecution; that the other police officers failed to intervene “to prevent the violation of Ms. McNeil’s constitutional rights,” and that city failed to properly screen, train and supervise its police officers. It seeks at least $75,000 in damages.

The Coldwater police department has yet to even announce that they plan on investigating this video and they have made no mention of any discipline Eastmead may have faced. As for McNeil, she is too scared to live and Coldwater anymore and has since moved.

Below is a video of what a woman abusing predator does when given unchecked authority and is accountable to no one.

Source Article from http://thefreethoughtproject.com/cop-handcuffed-woman-isnt-charged/

Paradigm Shift: Court Rules 11yo Girl Can Treat Her Seizures with Cannabis—In School

cannabiscannabis

Schaumburg, IL — In a testament as to how the world is rejecting the war on cannabis and, instead, embracing its incredible medicinal properties, an Illinois court has just ruled that an 11-year-old girl will be able to treat her seizures with cannabis — while at school.

Nothing highlights the hypocrisy, immorality, and sheer idiocy of the drug war quite like marijuana prohibition. Here we have a medicine that kills cancer cells, saves the lives of countless epileptic children, heals broken bones, relieves pain, treats PTSD, is not dangerous, and exhibits a variety of other incredible benefits – yet the state will kill you over it. The good news is, however, that in spite of the reefer madness maniacs tightening their grip on the drug war, people are resisting and the effects are saving lives — Ashley Surin is one of them.

When she was much younger, Ashley found herself in a battle for her life as leukemia took over. Thankfully, she won that battle but not without consequences. As a result of the chemotherapy, Ashley developed seizures.

Luckily for Ashley, however, medical marijuana helped to drastically decrease those seizures.

“We’re amazed with her progress,” Maureen Surin, Ashley’s mother told NPR. There was a catch, however, in treating Ashley’s seizures with cannabis — she couldn’t go to school — because it was illegal.

Ashley’s family wasn’t going down without a fight though and this week, in a landmark ruling, she won that fight.

As NPR reports, her parents filed a lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday against Schaumburg School District 54 and the State of Illinois, claiming that the state’s ban on taking the drug at school violates the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). On Friday, a judge ruled in their favor after hearing from the school district, which reportedly had concerns that its employees may be subject to legal penalties for helping Ashley with her medications.

“What people seem to misunderstand here is that medical marijuana is a prescription like any other drug,” the girl’s attorney, Steven Glink, said. “Prohibiting it in school would be the same as prohibiting other medications such as Ritalin, Adderall or Concerta.”

To be clear, Ashley is not smoking joints at school. She simply wears a patch that delivers the cannabis which keeps her seizure free.

Clarifying that point, the judge in Ashley’s case said, “No one’s saying she wants to fire up a bong in math class,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

While this ruling is certainly a victory for Ashley and all children whose lives can improve from the use of cannabis, it could be short-lived thanks to the current administration’s war on this most amazing plant.

In the land of the free, citizens found in possession of a plant — that grows wild on every continent except Antarctica — can and will be kidnapped, caged or killed. In fact, in just the short time it took you to click this article and read the above paragraphs, someone was just arrested for cannabis.

According to the most recent FBI statistics available, an American citizen is kidnapped and caged for cannabis — on average — every 48 seconds.

An estimated 653,249 American citizens — who harmed no one — had their lives ruined in 2016 for possessing this plant, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Crime In the United States (CIUS) report.

“Arresting and citing over half a million people a year for a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol is a travesty,” said Morgan Fox, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Despite a steady shift in public opinion away from marijuana prohibition and the growing number of states that are regulating marijuana like alcohol, marijuana consumers continue to be treated like criminals throughout the country. This is a shameful waste of resources and can create lifelong consequences for the people arrested.”

Arresting people for cannabis is good for business — the police state and big pharma business, that is. If we look at who’s lobbying to keep cops kidnapping people for a plant, we see that it is money, and not morals, that motivates this issue and children in states where the plant is illegal, suffer as a result.

While states have moved to decriminalize this plant, the damage done by its prohibition is immense, irreversible, and nothing short of tyrannical. It is high time humanity stand up and demand an end to this brutal and murderous war on a plant.

Source Article from http://thefreethoughtproject.com/judge-cannabis-girl-school-medicine/

WATCH: Police Tell Student Activists Their ‘Free Speech’ is Scaring Other Students

free speechfree speech

In yet another test of the U.S. Constitution’s protected freedom of speech, the Constitution Club at Southern Illinois University (SIU) inflated a giant beach ball and asked students to come by, grab a sharpie, and write whatever they felt like writing on the ball.

The students’ free speech rights exercise was quickly interrupted by campus police who informed the club members they had received complaints about the ball and the group would need to stop their activities.

According to Campus Reform, the reason SIU chose to attempt to stop the demonstration was that campus police said the students did not go through the proper channels to be able to hold the demonstration:

Executive Director of University Marketing and Communications Doug McIlhagga telling Campus Reform that the activists were in violation of the university’s policy “governing freedom of expression and demonstration activities.”

“The demonstrators didn’t follow the proper University procedure for a public forum by going through the Vice Chancellor of Administration’s Office for approval,” he elaborated. “We normally get the ‘Request For Use Of The Designated Public Forum’ form. However in this particular instance, we did not.”

Ultimately, the group was allowed to continue with their free speech demonstration but not before having to make contact with campus police to explain their actions. The SIU police did not appear to want to interrupt what the group was doing but were under marching orders from their superiors.

“This is not considered like a public place,” one campus police officer told the students. “Right now, we’re going to have to put the ball away … it’s freaking a lot of people out … people are reporting that they’re scared of the beach ball, and what’s going on here.”

At issue is whether or not a university campus, a public facility, is, in fact, private property or public property. If it is public property, then the group should not be compelled to go through any channels of approval. Instead, the group is subjected to what some consider an arbitrary process, which attempts to secure the outside approval of a third party (in this case, the Director of University Marketing and Communications) to get the blessing for what the Constitution already allows.

It is not the first time a group on campus has been accosted by police for attempting to assert their free speech rights. As TFTP reported last January, several college students were arrested for passing out pocket-sized copies of the U.S. Constitution and signing students up for membership in their conservative student organization. The incident occurred at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, Michigan, and involved members of Young Americans for Liberty who were arrested on Sept. 20, 2015, and charged with trespassing.

Brandon Withers and Michelle Gregoire were arrested and spent nearly 7 hours in jail for their unapproved distribution of the U.S. Constitution and for allegedly attempting to recruit others to their club. The “offenses” resulted in demands the students remove themselves from campus property. The students refused to leave and were arrested by campus police and charged with trespassing.

According to The Washington Times, Scottsdale, Arizona-based “Alliance Defending Freedom,” a nonprofit legal organization that “advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith,” filed a lawsuit on their behalf Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. Senior ADF counsel Casey Mattox issued a statement wherein ADF claims their clients’ constitutional rights supersede any unlawful school rules denying them such freedoms.

Kellogg Community College had established several rules regarding the exercise of free speech and has established a free speech zone. Additionally, the distribution of materials, according to the college, must be approved first by the department known as Student Life. In other words, the exercise of students’ first amendment rights according to the U.S. Constitution is regulated by the public school’s Student Life department. And the school defines free speech as “solicitation,” another activity which must be pre-approved.

In the case of the “free speech ball” that caught the attention of campus police in Illinois, it raises the question of whether anyone actually saw it as a threat, or if they were just reporting it to see if the students involved had jumped through all of the proper hoops with the university in order to hold their demonstration.

Source Article from http://thefreethoughtproject.com/campus-police-free-speech-ball/

Cops Destroyed for Shaming Couple Over Selling Shrimp, Forced to Delete Their Facebook Page

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Monroe County, FL — In the land of the free, if you try to raise some extra money by selling a willing customer a product—you can and will be charged and arrested—if you don’t pay the state for permission beforehand. A married couple in Key West just learned the hard way that entrepreneurial spirit—the very fabric of America—will not only be crushed by armed agents of the state, but they will also brag about it on social media.

Last week, the Monroe County Sherrif’s office was so proud that they protected the citizens..ahem..their paychecks, that they took to Facebook to gloat in the fact that they detained and extorted a couple for selling shrimp.

“Couple charged with illegal shrimp sale,” read the start of the post dedicated to publicly shaming a couple for trying to make an honest buck.

According to City-Data.com, when compared to the rest of the country Key West, Fl has 78.6 percent more crime. This higher crime rate makes perfect sense given the fact that the sheriff’s department brags about arresting innocent people who merely forgot or felt it not necessary to pay the state for the privilege to sell another person a 5lb bag of shrimp.

Instead of applying resources to investigating rapes, murders, thefts, burglaries, or assaults—which just so happen to occur hundreds of times a year in the county—police were scouring Facebook to catch a married couple who’d dare sell shrimp without a license.

When reading the department’s post, you’d think the sheriff’s office nabbed themselves a criminal mastermind, hell-bent on fleecing the citizens of Key West. Sadly, however, the only ones hell-bent on fleecing the citizens of Key West are the ones who claim to protect them.

Deputy Seth Hopp saw the Facebook posts offering five pound bags of shrimp for $40. The Facebook accounts belonged to 41 year old Iliecer Noa and his wife, 37 year old Carolina Aviles, both of Key West. Deputy Hopp checked with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to see if either person had the proper license to sell saltwater products. Neither one had any commercial fishing licenses.

Deputy Hopp went to their residence on North Roosevelt Boulevard in Key West and confronted them. The couple said they bought a 70 pound bag of shrimp for $80 from a guy riding a bicycle on Stock Island. They made a total of $300 selling the shrimp. They said they had planned to return to Stock Island and buy more so they could keep selling shrimp.

Not surprisingly, the department has since removed their post and, it appears they have deleted their Facebook page all together.

The good news is that the overwhelming majority of the comments on this post called out the sheriff’s office actions for what they were—tyranny.

To be clear, this couple was NOT illegally poaching or otherwise stealing shrimp. They were simply trying to make an extra buck reselling shrimp they had purchased.

You should be ashamed of yourselves. Without government who would harass otherwise nice hard working people. Pirates, that’s all you are. Modern day pirates,” wrote Carey Appling.

How dare they not pay tribute to the king! Our country runs on extortion, and we wonder why more people don’t start small businesses these days… you can’t even trade natural resources without being hassled by the kings guards. Next we need to go after people selling their goods in that unregulated market they call “garage sales.” Everyone knows those are a front for drugs. Same goes for lemonade stands. Those kids are clearly selling meth,” wrote Josiah Loven.

Summing up the reason for so much animosity toward police, Wesley Thomas wrote in a poignant comment,

Oh good, the fish police are here! Please, save us from unlicensed fish sales which threaten our very way of life with their cheap pricing and convenience.

Tell me, how do you people in the MCSO sleep at night knowing that everyone is laughing at you for being a complete joke?

You are exactly the sort of people who would have arrested those who were illegally freeing slaves.

Shame on you.

There you have it. Clearly, the sheriff’s department does not represent the will of the people—at least those willing to call them out on Facebook—yet the extortion continues. In America, everyone deserves the pursuit of life, liberty, and hapiness—as long as you can afford to pay the state for said pursuit—otherwise, you’ll be publicly shamed on social media and arrested. Go USA!

Source Article from http://thefreethoughtproject.com/cops-brag-facebook-arresting-couple-selling-shrimp-internet-destroys/

Hypocrisy: Trump Signs Veterans’ Mental Health Bill as Jeff Sessions Declares War on Their Medicine

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President Trump signed an executive order that was presented as an effort to improve veterans’ mental health treatment, just days after reports claimed that Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to wage war on their medicine by rescinding a policy that keeps federal prosecutors from aggressively enforcing federal law in states where cannabis is legal.

Trump signed an executive order titled, “Supporting our Veterans during their Transition from Uniformed Service to Civilian Life” on Jan. 9. The order calls for the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and the Secretary of Homeland Security to work together to provide “seamless access to mental health treatment and suicide prevention resources for transitioning uniformed service members in the year following discharge, separation, or retirement.”

The measure is intended to improve reintegration into civilian life and to prevent suicide if at all possible. But the type of mental health services Trump is asking for almost certainly do not involve using cannabis for PTSD, depression, or chronic pain. That is because the U.S. Attorney General just rescinded the Cole memo, allowing state Attorney Generals to go after legal weed.

As The Free Thought Project has reported on numerous occasions, legal cannabis and access to it is not supported by VA hospitals. In fact, we interviewed one veteran who suffers from PTSD and lives in Phoenix. For privacy reasons we will call him “Jeremy.”

Jeremy told TFTP that his disability benefits are directly connected to his blood tests. If his blood does not demonstrate a measurable level of psychotropics then the VA will end his disability benefits. In other words, if he does not take dangerous antidepressants and antipsychotics then he loses his monthly cash benefit.

While Trump’s executive order will guarantee 100 percent of veterans will now be able to get mental health benefits (whereas only 40 percent were able to get them before), what veterans really want is access to legal weed. So do the majority of Americans. They also do not want to be forced to take psychotropics, drugs that have actually caused the very suicides the executive order has stated it is attempting to combat.

Jeremy is a budtender at a Phoenix-area marijuana dispensary. He said he loathes being forced to take psychotropics but cannot part with the significant disability payouts each month. So he takes as little as he possibly can and throws away the rest. He says weed works much better and he would use it exclusively if he could.

Sessions’ move to rescind the Cole memo follows months of similar actions by the government. As TFTP reported in July, the House Rules Committee blocked an amendment called the “Veterans Equal Access,” which would have allowed the VA to discuss cannabis as an option for veterans’ treatment in VA hospitals. The amendment did not pass largely because cannabis is still classified as a Schedule I narcotic (purely for political and Pharma-Cartel reasons) much to the dismay of a majority of Americans, including veterans advocacy groups, like the American Legion, who want cannabis made available to veterans.

Veterans who choose to go against the VA and to use cannabis as a viable mental health protocol not only face the loss of financial benefits, they run the risk of prison time as well. Kristoffer Lewandowski is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC was arrested in Oklahoma for personal possession of marijuana. He says the VA had him taking 18 different medications daily for his PTSD, which included deadly opiates. At one point, he was taking 180 Percocets per month, but the drugs were killing his liver.

After finding that cannabis worked better, Lewandowski quit taking his prescription pills. Because Oklahoma does not have medical marijuana, he began growing a few plants for his personal use and treatment of PTSD. The police discovered the plants and arrested him.

Lewandowski was charged with cultivating marijuana, and the police confiscated the ounce of cannabis they found. They charged his wife as well and took their children away. After getting approval from the OK district attorney, the family bonded out of jail and moved to California. But Lewandowski’s freedom was short-lived. After missing an appointment at the Veterans Administration’s psychiatric hospital, he was arrested again. Later, he accepted a plea deal and was allowed to stay in California to continue taking the plant he says saved his life.

While Trump’s executive order sounds like a great idea by giving all veterans access to mental health services, what veterans really need and want is universal access to cannabis as a natural treatment for depression, PTSD, and pain. Instead, they are given prescription pills, which are needlessly driving up the suicide rate among veterans.

Ironically, one of Trump’s campaign promises was for veterans was that they would be able to bypass the VA and go wherever they wanted for treatment. That promise has yet to be fulfilled and almost certainly did not mean going to the marijuana dispensary for their medicine.

It’s time for Congress to act on behalf of all veterans and Americans to legalize marijuana across the nation. Too many people are in jail, are going to jail, and are being charged with felonies for a plant—one that has demonstrated the power to treat pain, depression, addictions, and to prevent suicide.

Source Article from http://thefreethoughtproject.com/trump-signs-veterans-mental-health-bill-jeff-sessions-war-medicine/