“Abolish the police” is an activist slogan, not a policy embraced by elected Democrats.
In New York City, for example, the police budget is once again on the rise.
Police reform is popular. Activist slogans are not. Some Republicans want to conflate the two.
At a hearing last month, Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, made an astonishing claim: Leading members of the Democratic Party don’t just want to reform policing, he said – they want to get rid of law enforcement altogether.
“There are multiple elected Democrats who vocally embrace abolishing the police,” Cruz claimed. “It’s not just the mayor of New York City. It’s not just the mayor of Minneapolis. It’s not just the mayor of Portland that advocated abolishing the police.”
As Cruz told it, it was getting damn near impossible to find an elected Democrat who doesn’t support “getting rid of the men and women in blue that keep us safe.”
The problem is that it’s not true, of course, and Cruz’s office could not provide any proof that it is. This is something the senator said was not a mere inference but a position these mayors had been vocal about endorsing. Asked for such evidence, Dave Vasquez, a spokesperson for the senator, told Insider he’d be “following up shortly.” He never did.
An activist slogan, not a Democratic position
The truth is that while some activists have embraced the slogan, “Abolish the police,” few of them would be happy if they were identified as Democrats, positioning themselves far to the left of any mere liberal. And none of them hold public office, much less the top job in cities where police played an active role in both inciting and quelling civil unrest last summer.
Fewer still truly believe what Republicans like Cruz would have people think.
“Defund does not mean abolish policing,” notes Rashawn Ray, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “And, even some who say abolish, do not necessarily mean to do away with law enforcement altogether.”
For better or worse, these activists have chosen revolutionary rhetoric for what is essentially a reformist demand: not that we abolish the entire concept of upholding the law, but that we end policing as it exists today – where officers from outside the community enjoy “qualified immunity” for wrongdoing on the job – and replace it with a system where cops with guns are, for example, not the first responders to every mental health crisis.
At most, elected Democrats support shifting some money from law enforcement to other priorities. Bill de Blasio, the New York City mayor that Cruz accused of wanting to abolish blue lives, embraced that after nationwide protests against police killings. The result was the country’s largest police department receiving $10.2 billion in 2021, down from $10.5 billion the year before – much of it due to a “one-time reduction in overtime expenses,” according to the nonpartisan Citizens Budget Commission.
Indeed, for 2022, the New York police budget is going back up to $10.4 billion. Abolition this is not.
Abolish cops? Democrats say ‘that’s a bad idea’
In Minneapolis, Mayor Jacob Frey – another proponent of “abolishing the police,” per Cruz – has discussed a “structural revamp” of the police department that employed Derek Chauvin, the officer convicted of murdering George Floyd. “But abolishing the police department? No, I think that’s a bad idea,” he told NPR.
In Portland, meanwhile, the police budget under Mayor Ted Wheeler – another alleged proponent of abolition – went from $214.9 million in 2017, his first year in office, to $244.6 million this year.
Sen. Cruz says he thinks “abolishing the police is insanity.” He should take comfort, then, in the fact that even America’s liberal mayors have no intention of doing it.
Last month, Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, said negotiations over a bipartisan police reform bill had fallen apart because his Democratic colleagues had sought to “defund” law enforcement.
That was too much for even the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents more than 356,000 members of law enforcement, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. “[A]t no point did any legislative draft propose ‘defunding the police,'” the groups said in a joint statement. Indeed, the opposite: “the legislation specifically provided additional funding.”
The truth is that, to the chagrin of some on the left, the number of Democrats who support significant cuts to police spending is few, and the number who support abolishing law enforcement altogether is zero. And the truth is Republicans know this.
They also know that, as slogans go, defunding or abolishing police (whatever nuance activists might intend) poll terribly, and one way to derail overwhelmingly popular police reform – and hurt the Democratic Party – is by tying it to something that it is not.
The Senate is no stranger to grandstanding or demagoguery – to politics – but extraordinary claims require at least something in the way of evidence. When asked for some, Cruz and his staff came up empty.
The Justice Department accidentally unsealed court documents that included a rare “keyword warrant,” according to an exclusive Forbes report.
The warrant reportedly ordered Google to identify the user names and IP addresses of anyone searching three names, a phone number, or address related to the victim of a Wisconsin kidnapping case over a span of 16 days.
Federal investigators filed the warrant in hopes of narrowing down human trafficking and sexual assault suspects, documents reviewed by Forbes revealed.
Before the Wisconsin case’s documents were temporarily made public, only two keyword warrants had been previously unsealed. Last year, police looking into an arson attack outside the home of a witness in the R Kelly trial ordered Google to share a list of IP addresses linked to searches for the arson victim’s address.
Per CNET, investigators then obtained a warrant for the suspect’s personal search history, which showed he searched for the terms: “where can i buy a .50 custom machine gun,” “witness intimidation,” and “countries that don’t have extradition with the United States.”
While some legal experts believe such warrants violate First Amendment rights by potentially punishing people for what they search online, the ACLU told Forbes that they are most concerned that they are being requested in secret.
The ACLU’s New York chapter asked Google in a letter last year to oppose “the alarming growth in law enforcement searches of Google user data” through both keyword search and geofence warrants.
“These blanket warrants circumvent constitutional checks on police surveillance, creating a virtual dragnet of our religious practices, political affiliations, sexual orientation, and more,” the letter said.
“As with all law enforcement requests, we have a rigorous process that is designed to protect the privacy of our users while supporting the important work of law enforcement,” a Google spokesperson told Forbes. Google did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Groups that represent more than 350,000 members of law enforcement are pushing back on a GOP senator’s claim that efforts to forge a bipartisan compromise on police reform legislation collapsed because Democrats were seeking to “defund” law enforcement.
In an interview with CBS News over the weekend, Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, said negotiations on a police reform bill in the Senate fell apart because members did not want to “participate in reducing funding for the police after we saw a major city after major city defund the police.”
But in a joint statement issued Tuesday, the Fraternal Order of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police said such claims were untrue.
Saying they were “disappointed” that negotiations fell apart, the groups said that, “at no point did any legislative draft propose ‘defunding the police.'” In fact, “the legislation specifically provided additional funding to assist law enforcement agencies in training, agency accreditation, and data collection initiatives.”
Scott’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
The measure would also have established a national registry of police misconduct, making it more difficult for problematic officers to find employment after being forced out of a department elsewhere.
Republicans and police alike had objected to the language on qualified immunity, with Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, proposing instead to increase federal prosecutors’ ability to prosecute police wrongdoing, The Wall Street Journal reported.
In their statement, the nation’s leading police groups said the reforms that had been under consideration “would have strengthened the law enforcement profession.”
Five Texas cops are suing Tesla after a car that was allegedly on Autopilot injured the policemen during a traffic stop.
The policemen are filing the lawsuit seven months after the accident occurred on February 27 in Splendora, a suburb in Houston, Texas. At the time, the officers had pulled over another car into the right-hand lane of the expressway and were in the process of conducting a drug search with a canine when the Model X slammed into the two police cars at 70 miles per hour. The Tesla pushed the cars into the officers and the driver that had been pulled over, the lawsuit said. The court document did not detail the nature of the injuries.
The suit alleges that Tesla has falsely advertised that its Autopilot software can execute driving functions better than a human. Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuit alleges that Tesla’s Autopilot mode was “completely unable to detect the existence of at least four vehicles, six people and a German Shepherd fully stopped in the lane of traffic” because it does not recognize cars and pedestrians when lights are flashing. The suit said Tesla has not fixed the issue, despite multiple crashes with first responders.
Tesla’s Autopilot – which enables the cars to steer, accelerate, and brake within the lane – has been under increased scrutiny in recent months. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is currently investigating Tesla’s driver-assist Autopilot feature after it identified over 11 crashes since 2018 in which a Tesla in Autopilot or “Traffic Aware Cruise Control” mode has struck vehicles at first-responder scenes. The majority of the accidents have taken place at night and have included emergency vehicles with flashing lights, flares, and traffic cones.
“The officers want to hold Tesla accountable, and force Tesla to publicly acknowledge and immediately correct the known defects inherent in its Autopilot and collision avoidance systems, particularly as those impact the ongoing safety of our nation’s first responders,” the lawsuit said.
The policemen are seeking damages for multiple injuries and permanent disabilities in a range of $1 million to as much as $20 million. The officers are also suing Pappas Restaurants for allegedly overserving alcohol to the Tesla driver before the accident. Police reports from February show the driver was taken into custody due to suspicions the individual was driving under the influence.
Pappas Restaurant did not respond to a request for comment from Insider, but told local news that the restaurant will be conducting an investigation into the allegations.
The NYC Sheriff’s department posted the news on Twitter, saying its road patrol deputies had been busy impounding the vehicles, which were found on various streets in Manhattan.
The New York Post reported that the vans, which were advertised on Airbnb for $100 a night, were touted as a cost-effective way to experience the city.
Ads for the van rentals said the vans were a “private room,” that could accommodate up to three people. “Glamp in a spacious camper Van in NYC!” one read.
Fox Business reported that a traffic enforcement agent detected that five of the vehicles parked in the East Village had long-expired registrations and number plates. Some dated as far back as 2000.
Following an investigation by the city’s Sheriff’s office and the NYPD Document Fraud Unit, authorities discovered an “operation of alleged fraudulent and illegally registered vehicles being used as Airbnb rentals on various streets in Manhattan,” Sheriff Joseph Fucito told The Post.
The cars have been confiscated since, according to authorities. Airbnb did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Uptin Saiidi, a California-based journalist and video creator said he was sold to the “glamping” experience which offered him the “#VanLife experience for just $97.” But upon his visit, he noticed several concerns.
He told the Post that the key to the van, which was left in a lockbox, could not start the engine. The van also had a parking ticket when he arrived, he said.
Saiidi described his stay as “awful” and “smelly.” He added: “You have people literally outside walking and talking and cars trying to parallel park next to you all-night long.”
The owners of the vans are yet to be identified in the ongoing investigation.
Bottles of True Fruits smoothies had obscene drawings, sexual comments, and an anti-police slogan inscribed on them.
The inclusion of “ACAB,” short for “all cops are bastards,” angered France’s police unions.
Monoprix, a French supermarket chain, said that it would recall bottles with the offending packaging.
French retailer Monoprix has recalled a smoothie range aimed at teenagers following criticism of its packaging by national police unions, according to local reports.
Bottles of the special edition smoothies, released by German brand True Fruits to mark the start of the new school year, contained obscene drawings, curse words, and sexual comments.
Also featured among the scribbles was the anti-police acronym “ACAB,” short for “all cops are bastards.”
The “ACAB” acronym originates in 1920s England, but it has become a slogan more recently used by those who oppose police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by police officer Derek Chavin.
The inclusion of this slogan on the bottles drew the ire of France’s police unions, Le Parisien reported.
The nation’s largest police union, Alliance Police Nationale, condemned the “anti-cop hate” in a Twitter post. It described the slogan’s inclusion as the “perfect way to destroy police-population relations.”
Axel Ronde, the general secretary of the Police En Avant! union, tweeted: “How can you tolerate anti-police inscriptions on your product, @truefruits?”
On Tuesday, Monoprix reacted to the backlash by announcing that it had decided to remove the incriminating products from its shelves.
“Product packaging of the True Fruits brand bears intolerable inscriptions and does not conform to our values,” the tweet said. “We have immediately alerted the supplier and are withdrawing it from the affected stores.”
Monoprix and True Fruits did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
The fencing is expected to come down “soon” after the September 18 rally if “everything goes well,” Manger told reporters.
Law enforcement officials are preparing for potential clashes and violence at the event, as counterprotests are being scheduled on the same day and inflammatory rhetoric surrounding the event has increased online, according to an internal Capitol Police memo obtained by CNN.
“We are closely monitoring September 18 and we are planning accordingly,” Manger said in an emailed statement to Insider. “After January 6, we made Department-wide changes to the way we gather and share intelligence internally and externally. I am confident the work we are doing now will make sure our officers have what they need to keep everyone safe.”
Fencing was initially erected around the federal government building following the January 6 riot, which saw supporters of former President Donald Trump overpower police and break into the Capitol complex. The fencing remained up until July.
The upcoming event is being organized by Look Ahead America and led by Matt Braynard, the former director of data and strategy for the Trump campaign, Insider previously reported. It is scheduled to take place at 12 p.m. local time on Saturday at Union Square, a public plaza located just west of the Capitol building.
Top Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, were briefed on Monday by Capitol police on the forthcoming security measures.
The California Assembly just passed a bill that aims to increase the accountability of law enforcement in the state.
Gov. Gavin Newsom now has 12 days to sign or veto the bill, which passed the California Assembly with a vote of 46 to 18 on Friday. It was previously passed in the state Senate on May 26 with a vote of 26 to 9.
The bill, if signed into law, adjusts qualified immunity – the defense that protects state and local government officials, including law enforcement, from individual liability unless there is a clear violation of constitutional rights – for law enforcement.
It would also set up a process by which law enforcement officers charged with wrongdoing including sexual assault, excessive use of force, perjury are stripped of their badges.
The bill, which failed in the California legislature last year, reemerged as a result of the George Floyd protests.
California is one of only four states – Hawaii, New Jersey, and Rhode Island are the others – without a decertification process for police officers meaning officers that are convicted of a felony can still get jobs in different departments.
The California bill, co-authored by state Sen. Toni Atkins, is similar to the decertification process in Massachusetts, which just became law in January 2021.
“California is able to revoke the certification or licenses of bad doctors, lawyers, and even barbers and cosmetologists, but is unable to decertify police officers who have broken the law and violated the public trust,” said Sen. Steven Bradford, also a co-author of the bill, pointed out to Insider.
Officers accused of misconduct would undergo a fair review process, per the bill, and those convicted of a crime would be registered into the National Decertification Index. This would prohibit them from working in law enforcement in states that have a decertification process.
For Bradford, who represents Gardena, California, the implications of the bill hit close to home. California Senate Bill 2, or Kenneth Ross Jr. Decertification Act, is named after a 25-year-old Black man who was killed by Gardena Police Officer Michael Robbins on April 11, 2018.
The killing of Kenneth Ross Jr.
Police received calls on a Wednesday afternoon in 2018 about a shooting in front of a building on Van Ness Ave. in Gardena, according to a report from then-District Attorney Jackie Lacey. One caller estimated that 20 shots were fired. According to the report, the suspect was described as a Black man with locs near El Segundo Blvd and Van Ness Ave.
Several officers responded, including Sargent Michael Robbins. Ross Jr. was running away when officers shouted commands at him. Robbins, using a department-issued AR-15 rifle, fired two shots as Ross Jr. was running away.
Video footage from officer body cameras and dash cameras was released nearly two years later. His mother describes the video of the incident at multiple rallies. She said that after Robbins shot and killed him, they still handcuffed and searched his body.
The Gardena Police Department said in a press release that a gun was found on the scene and that he’d fired a gun earlier.
The Ross family attorney disputes this claim, however. “They said he had a gun. We have the video of when he fell,” Haytham Faraj told local news station KABC. “They then handcuff him to search him. They do search him. They find nothing.”
The Gardena Police Department did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Robbins was later absolved of all wrongdoing by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in 2019 – then Lacey’s office. The District Attorney’s office said in a press release at the time, “It is our conclusion that Officer Robbins acted in self-defense and in an effort to arrest a dangerous fleeing felon.”
State Sen. Bradford told CapRadio that Robbins had been involved in previous shootings as an officer in Orange County before joining the department in Gardena – a claim that local activists told Insider when pointing to their support of this bill.
Los Angeles activists and organizers have been demanding justice
Sheila Bates, an organizer with the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter, told Insider that this is the second year of bringing the bill back “in the names of all of those who we have lost.”
Latinos, who make up 39% of the California population, account for 46% of police killings in the state, while the percentage of police killings (15.2%) is more than double the state population of Black people (6.5%), according to Calmatters, a nonprofit newsroom.
Calmatters estimates that between 100 and 200 people die at the hands of law enforcement in California each year. Local news station KTLA estimates that 885 people have been killed by police in Los Angeles County alone since 2000 – most of whom were Black or Latino. The Los Angeles Times Homicide Report – a free tool that tracks, categorizes, and details the deaths of victims – estimates that 22 people have been killed by law enforcement so far in 2021 in Los Angeles County alone.
Albert Corado, a co-founder of People’s City Council-LA and a candidate for LA City Council District 13, told Insider that he became an abolitionist when his sister, Mely Corado, was killed by LAPD while doing her job at Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake – a neighborhood in Los Angeles.
“And so, as it stands, because cops have qualified immunity, they can do something, kill someone and then basically move on and go to another department, and move to another city and be hired as a police officer,” Corado told Insider.
The bill aims to decertify convicted officers
The Kenneth Ross Jr. Decertification Act aims to strengthen the accountability of law enforcement.
A decertification process would prevent law enforcement who have been convicted of misconduct – ranging from excessive force and sexual assault to dishonesty and falsifying evidence – to continue their career in law enforcement.
The Peace Officer Standards Accountability Division, under the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), would look into “serious misconduct that may provide grounds for suspension or revocation of a peace officer’s certification.” An advisory board would then make the recommendation about the officer’s certification to POST. POST would then act accordingly.
Two now-former Torrance police officers, who were relieved of their positions last year, were charged with conspiracy and vandalism on Thursday, August 19, for an incident that involved a spray-painted swastika on the inside of an impounded vehicle.
Bradford told Insider that, without a decertification process, these officers could be hired on to a new department and “continue their racist and hateful misconduct.”
Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
“It’s incredibly important that there’s a bill get passed so that we can finally be able to make sure that officers who engage in misconduct aren’t able to go to another community in another department and terrorize and kill people in another department and another, in another community from their department,” Bates told Insider.
What opponents of the bill say
Qualified immunity was established in 1967 as a result of the Pierson v. Ray US Supreme Court case. The court ruled that so long as the misconduct or violation was executed in “good faith,” the law enforcement officer could rely on qualified immunity.
Critics of qualified immunity say that it’s hard for plaintiffs to get accountability for alleged officer wrongdoing. This specific bill adjusts the Tom Bane Civil Rights Act of 1987 to “make it easier for a family to seek justice if your civil rights have been violated, if you have been falsely arrested or framed or brutalized or denied medical assistance,” Bradford told Spectrum News 1.
Those who support it say qualified immunity allows officers to do their jobs without worrying about potential individual lawsuits. And the part of the bill that tweaks qualified immunity is opposed by law enforcement groups.
“If this bill was just about decertification, we’d probably have no issue with it, but it’s not, and they call it the decertification bill, but it’s much more than that,” Shaun Rundle, deputy director for the California Peace Officers’ Association, told Spectrum News 1.
In a statement to CapRadio, Brian Marvel, President of the Peace Officers Research Association of California, said “SB 2 reaches far beyond the police licensing process and includes policies that would be incredibly burdensome on cities and counties that employ peace officers.”
The National Police Support Fund, a grassroots pro-police organization, believes that qualified immunity is necessary for police officers to do their jobs.
“As homicides and other violent crimes continue to rise around the country, qualified immunity is essential for allowing police to do their jobs without fear of baseless legal action that could ruin their reputations and their careers,” the organization said in an article on their website.
“Officers must have room to make mistakes or have moments of bad judgment without worrying about being sued,” the National Police Support Fund said on their site.
Insider reached out to several California police departments and lawmakers who declined to comment on the bill.
The Los Angeles DA’s office, now run by George Gascón, however, released a press statement saying it was in support of the bill.
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In one post, Manning shared an image that said, “I am not vaccinated by choice and that’s my right.”
In another, Manning encouraged people to stock up on the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin, frequently used to deworm horses, and increasingly being taken by people in a misguided attempt to treat or prevent COVID-19.
On August 16, the Torrance Police Department arrested a man in a 7-Eleven parking lot who was passed out in a car containing Xanax pills, a loaded firearm, methamphetamine, a scale, drivers licenses and credit cards in other individuals’ names, and more than 300 unopened mail-in ballots for the California gubernatorial recall election.
Investigators, including TPD’s Special Investigation Division, the US Postal Service, and the LA County District Attorney Public Integrity Unit, are looking into how the man, whose name has not been released, obtained the ballots and what he intended to do with them, TPD said in an August 23 post on Facebook.