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Rising fascism in the US

 
 
revelette1
 
  3  
Reply Thu 2 Aug, 2018 07:43 am
Quote:
Black Lives Matter activists in Memphis, Tennessee learned last week that they’d made some new friends on Facebook: Local law enforcement.

The discovery occurred in a very roundabout way. In response to a lawsuit brought by the ACLU in Tennessee, which alleges that the Memphis Police Department have violated a 1978 consent decree promising not to spy on local political activists, Memphis city officials released a cache of previously sealed documents. Within that document dump of more than 300 pages of court filings and depositions was an interesting disclosure: An admission that the cops used a fake Facebook profile, deployed in 2016 and 2017, to monitor surreptitiously on Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists.

The materials released by city officials painted a detailed, if reluctant, portrait of how the Memphis police — under the direction of its Office of Homeland Security, a special team created after the September 11, 2001 attacks — used social media platforms to spy on BLM activists. The recent surveillance program started in reaction to large protests against police shootings across the country and, in particular, to BLM-led demonstrations following the 2015 Memphis police shooting of 19-year-old Darrius Stewart.

Among the pages of court filings and depositions in the ACLU case, police officials acknowledged creating an internal PowerPoint slide show — titled “Blue Suede Shoes” — that catalogued the names and faces of BLM activists who participated or were arrested in connection with protests following Stewart’s death.

Memphis police were able to secure public and private social media posts, according to the court documents. In one case, the police obtained a private Facebook post of a BLM activist who had recommended a Saul Alinsky book, prompting the police to gather collected information on that nonpublic post as well as the names of 58 friends who “liked” the post.

In one of the depositions, Officer Timothy Reynolds admitted that police used a fake Facebook profile for “Bob Smith” in order to befriend and monitor activists, whose activities were subsequently reported to police officials. Information gathered by “Bob Smith” was used to track BLM activists, their social media contacts, and, in one case, an activist’s spouse.

City officials strongly defended its activities in a statement, arguing that police have behaved lawfully and protected residents from violence as well as defending protesters’ First Amendment rights. As the city’s Chief Legal Officer Bruce McMullen argued in a statement, modern technology requires a change in police tactics.

“The ACLU of Tennessee’s lawsuit is based on its allegations of violations of a 1978 consent decree,” McMullen said in his statement, which was accompanied by a fact sheet outlining the city’s rebuttal of the ACLU suit. “Its interpretation of that 40-year old consent decree is out of step with modern police techniques. The consent decree was drafted before the internet – before smartphones, body cameras, or any type of digital cameras. The City is confident MPD’s social media practices do not raise any constitutional issues.”

Memphis Police Director Michael W. Rallings contributed an additional defense of the police in a statement. “Monitoring these public social media posts is simply good police work, which has allowed us to make operations plans to protect both demonstrators and counter-demonstrators, keeping everyone safe without violence,” Rallings said.

But these disclosures in Memphis invite a comparison to the efforts made by the Trump administration to label BLM as a “Black Identity Extremist” group.

Late last year, Foreign Policy magazine obtained a copy of a “Black Identity Extremist” memo issued internally by the FBI counterterrorism division, which “declared that black identity extremists pose a growing threat of premeditated violence against law enforcement.” That document cited numerous instances of violent extremism, pinning them on the current wave of demonstrations that have erupted in the wake of a wave of violent encounters between police and black Americans.

Foreign Policy’s reporting prompted a swift and sharp rebuke from civil libertarians, and notable black activists and lawmakers, who drew comparisons to the FBI’s COINTELPRO, or counterintelligence program, of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, which targeted civil rights activists such as leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Rev. Martin Luther King.

Speaking at a news conference last November, shortly after the Black Identity Extremist memo was revealed, Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond condemned the Trump Justice Department for spying on black Americans and labeling them a threat to the nation.

“It’s a characterization and it’s very inaccurate of the movement that is going on,” he said. “We don’t want anyone to view Black Lives Matter or other organizations that protest as an extremist group or a domestic terrorist group because we think that’s very dangerous.”

This week’s disclosure of the Memphis Police Department’s social media skullduggery — first reported by George Joseph of The Appeal, an online publication that specializes in legal and criminal justice news — comes as a shocking reminder of past misdeeds in Memphis, where city officials agreed 40 years ago to stop the clandestine tracking of civil rights activists. Today, however, city leaders see no contradiction between its history of illegal spying and its contemporary use of social media to collect information on individual or groups that police deem a threat to public safety.

To be sure, the ACLU of Tennessee has a long and acrimonious history with the Memphis police over its spying practices, going back to its 1976 investigation of the city’s domestic intelligence unit, which illegally destroyed documents it had collected on civil rights groups. More recently, the ACLU of Tennessee filed a lawsuit against the city in March 2017, after it was discovered that the city had created a list of names for people requiring a police escort when visiting City Hall based on their participation in Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

“If any surveillance was conducted for the purpose of gathering political intelligence, it would flout the consent decree that’s been in place for nearly four decades,” said Thomas H. Castelli, legal director of the ACLU of Tennessee in a press release last year when filing the suit. “Likewise, the creation of a police escort list based on people’s speech, assembly, or associations would clearly chill protected expression, in violation of the First Amendment.”

Officials at the ACLU in Memphis declined to comment directly on the case, citing its involvement in pending litigation. In an email statement provided to ThinkProgress, Lindsay Kee, communications director for the ACLU in Tennessee, offered up a competing fact sheet, laying out its current complaints against the Memphis police.


TP
0 Replies
 
neptuneblue
 
  2  
Reply Thu 16 Aug, 2018 06:23 am
Colorado Baker Sues State Again, After Refusing To Make Cake For Transgender Woman
August 16, 20186:12 AM ET
JAMES DOUBEK

Baker Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, manages his shop in Lakewood, Colo., on Wednesday. He's suing state officials in a case involving his refusal to make a case celebrating gender transition.

The Colorado baker who won a Supreme Court case over his refusal to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple is suing state officials, alleging religious discrimination over his refusal to make a cake celebrating a gender transition.

Attorneys for Jack Phillips, who owns Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., said Wednesday that the state is "continuing to single out Jack for punishment and to exhibit hostility toward his religious beliefs."

The case involves an incident from June 2017, when lawyer Autumn Scardina said she asked for a cake with a pink interior and blue exterior to celebrate the anniversary of transitioning from male to female. "The woman on the phone told me they do not make cakes celebrating gender changes," Scardina wrote in a complaint to Colorado's Division of Civil Rights.

"That's a cake I can't create for anybody," Phillips told Colorado Public Radio.

On June 28 of this year, Colorado regulators said there was "sufficient evidence" to support Scardina's claim of discrimination based on her transgender status and ordered the two sides to "compulsory mediation."

"I know the Bible says that God created male and female and that we don't get to choose that, and we don't get to change that," Phillips told CPR. "And I don't feel like the government has a right to compel me to participate in creating a cake that promotes that message."

In Narrow Opinion, Supreme Court Rules For Baker In Gay-Rights Case
Phillips is asking the court for permanent injunctions against the state from enforcing Colorado anti-discrimination laws against him as well as $100,000 in punitive damages.

Phillips prevailed in the Supreme Court earlier this year in a case that began in 2012 when a same-sex couple asked him to create a cake for their wedding.

"But the 7-to-2 decision was on the narrowest of grounds," NPR's Nina Totenberg reported, "and left unresolved whether business owners have a free speech right to refuse to sell goods and services to same-sex couples."

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is named as a defendant in the new lawsuit, said he expects the issue to return to the Supreme Court, according to The Denver Post.

Daniel Ramos of the LGBTQ advocacy group One Colorado responded to the news, saying in a statement, "All people – including LGBTQ people – deserve to be served equally in public spaces, & no religious belief gives anyone the right to pick & choose whom they serve & what laws they want to follow."
ehBeth
 
  3  
Reply Thu 16 Aug, 2018 09:07 am
@neptuneblue,
I don't really understand why people tell the baker what the purpose of cakes is. Unless it is to get a lawsuit started.

I've seen the pink/blue combo done at pregnancy reveal parties. Not a big deal for a baker.

If you really want a pink/blue cake, order it. No need to announce what it's for. Put your own decorations on it.

Blickers
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Aug, 2018 09:28 am
@ehBeth,
It could be he ordered the cake with a message printed on it celebrating the transition. I do believe, however, that the baker was probably selected because they expected him to sue.

I think the baker has a chance to prevail in this case. Not a sure thing, but a chance.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Aug, 2018 09:51 am
@Blickers,
Yup. Reads like it was done to provoke legal action. Trying to feel sympathetic for anyone involved. Failing.
neptuneblue
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Aug, 2018 10:07 am
@ehBeth,
I think it sets very dangerous conditions. If my kid graduates from college and I want a cake that has a pic of his wheelchair, will that order get turned away because if a belief handicapped people shouldn't live? Where do beliefs end and commerce takes over?
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Aug, 2018 10:12 am
@neptuneblue,
neptuneblue wrote:
I think it sets very dangerous conditions.


it doesn't set a precedent. it reflects the way things currently are - it is not changing anything.

I understand and appreciate legitimate concerns/complaints/lawsuits. I don't have a lot of sympathy for actions taken strictly to trigger lawsuits. I probably should (echoes of Rosa Parks) but I don't.
Baldimo
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Aug, 2018 02:24 pm
@ehBeth,
This was done on purpose, they are now targeting him specifically to shut him down. Just like in the first case, he was targeted because he was a Christian and was known to not make custom cakes that didn't fit with his beliefs. He refuses orders at Halloween for those themed cakes.

He has never refused to sell anyone standard items and in the first case offered to make the cake and send it to another cake decorator for the customization, they declined and wanted him to do all the work.

Either one of these people could have gone to Cakes by Karen, that's where my wife and I got our wedding cake, it's in Lakewood CO, the same city where Masterpiece is located. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission isn't very civil and they are going to lose this case.
coluber2001
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Aug, 2018 02:33 pm
Franklin Graham, right-wing evangelist, son of the late Billy Graham, fanatic true believer, chauvinistic Trump supporter, and full-time nut warns about god's wrath.

0 Replies
 
InfraBlue
 
  2  
Reply Thu 16 Aug, 2018 03:29 pm
@ehBeth,
ehBeth wrote:

neptuneblue wrote:
I think it sets very dangerous conditions.


it doesn't set a precedent. it reflects the way things currently are - it is not changing anything.

I understand and appreciate legitimate concerns/complaints/lawsuits. I don't have a lot of sympathy for actions taken strictly to trigger lawsuits. I probably should (echoes of Rosa Parks) but I don't.

Are you saying that you don't agree with triggering lawsuits for the sake of triggering lawsuits, or are you saying that you don't agree with triggering lawsuits as a means towards an end? Also, are you saying these concerns/complaints/lawsuits aren't legitimate? How should Rosa Parks and the civil rights activists have approached the issue otherwise?
Baldimo
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Aug, 2018 04:20 pm
@InfraBlue,
Quote:
Are you saying that you don't agree with triggering lawsuits for the sake of triggering lawsuits, or are you saying that you don't agree with triggering lawsuits as a means towards an end?

Trigging lawsuits with the only purpose of shutting down a business is the problem, that is the only end that is being justified by these lawsuits. They don't want people like him making money.

Quote:
Also, are you saying these concerns/complaints/lawsuits aren't legitimate? How should Rosa Parks and the civil rights activists have approached the issue otherwise?

No, they are not legitimate. If he had refused to even do business with them on a normal basis, they might have a point. He refuses to use his artistic talents to create messages he doesn't agree with, if they wanted a cake with frosting and flowers or whatever else you put on a non-personalized cake, that would have been fine with the owner.

Quote:
How should Rosa Parks and the civil rights activists have approached the issue otherwise?

This doesn't even compare to what Rosa Parks did and went through. There are no laws or rules by the state of CO or any of the cities of the state which prevent gay or trans people from doing anything, as was the case with Rosa Parks.
0 Replies
 
neptuneblue
 
  2  
Reply Thu 16 Aug, 2018 05:28 pm
@Baldimo,
How is this any different than the Housing industry sending in "checkers"? If an apartment manager tells a black couple that they won't rent to them and points them to another complex that has a higher ratio of minorities, that's against the law.

Although the gay wedding cake is settled, this one isn't. And may have traction to concede to the rights of all individuals.
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Thu 16 Aug, 2018 05:36 pm
@InfraBlue,
InfraBlue wrote:

ehBeth wrote:
I don't have a lot of sympathy for actions taken strictly to trigger lawsuits.


Are you saying that you don't agree with triggering lawsuits for the sake of triggering lawsuits


hard to believe that what I said wasn't clear
Baldimo
 
  -1  
Reply Thu 16 Aug, 2018 05:47 pm
@neptuneblue,
Quote:
How is this any different than the Housing industry sending in "checkers"?

Housing vs customized cakes?

Quote:
If an apartment manager tells a black couple that they won't rent to them and points them to another complex that has a higher ratio of minorities, that's against the law.

Apples and oranges.

Quote:
Although the gay wedding cake is settled, this one isn't. And may have traction to concede to the rights of all individuals.

It's the same exact situation, forcing him to create a customized cake.

0 Replies
 
revelette1
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Aug, 2018 07:09 am
Quote:
Acting EPA head spreads misinformation on fuel efficiency standards in ‘must run’ Sinclair segment

The interview was one of Sinclair Broadcast Group's "must-run" segments.

Acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler, in one of his first television interviews, championed the Trump administration’s widely criticized efforts to roll back Obama-era auto fuel efficiency and emissions standards.

In an interview with the conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group, Wheeler said the EPA believes that freezing auto standards for five years “will save over 1,000 lives a year.” The acting administrator also claimed the American consumer will save $500 billion over the course of the regulation.

Recent research, however, has found that strengthening auto fuel efficiency and emissions standards can actually improve road safety and save lives, media watchdog group Media Matters for America noted in a Monday blog post.

Experts also have highlighted the fact that the current standards the Trump administration is seeking to roll back are projected to save consumers $1.7 trillion in fuel costs.

Wheeler’s interview with Sinclair Broadcast Group chief political analyst Boris Epshteyn, former senior adviser to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, is a “must-run” segment. All of the conservative media company’s 100 local TV news stations are required to broadcast the interview with Wheeler, according to Media Matters.



TP
0 Replies
 
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Aug, 2018 10:48 am
@ehBeth,
ehBeth wrote:

InfraBlue wrote:

ehBeth wrote:
I don't have a lot of sympathy for actions taken strictly to trigger lawsuits.


Are you saying that you don't agree with triggering lawsuits for the sake of triggering lawsuits


hard to believe that what I said wasn't clear

It would have been clear enough, but then you conflated that with Rosa Parks making it decidedly unclear, hence the questions.
0 Replies
 
 

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