Author Archive | aaroncynic

Chicago Police Department Faces Lawsuit Over Stop And Frisk

Photo: Josh Koonce

Photo: Josh Koonce

In the wake of a study by the ACLU showing that Chicago police stop and frisk more people, particularly African American men, than any other city, six men have filed suit against the department.

Aaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

Six African American men from the South and West sides have filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department over its “stop and frisk” procedures. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the men by the law firm Romanucci & Blandi against the City, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and 14 unnamed officers, alleges CPD’s practices have violated their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights and calls for a class-wide judgement declaring it unconstitutional. The firm is also calling for others who believe their rights have been violated to come forward.

The suit comes after a March ACLU report revealed that Chicago Police lead the nation in stop and frisk procedures, four times that of New York City, which recently saw rulings to curb the practice.… Read the rest

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Chicago Poised To Become First City To Pay Reparations For Police Violence

Michael Pereckas (CC BY 2.0)

Michael Pereckas (CC BY 2.0)

Aaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

Victims of police torture by Jon Burge and his notorious “midnight crew” are one step closer to reparations today, as Mayor Rahm Emanuel agreed to a package deal for survivors which includes a $5.5 million dollar fund. Survivors of Burge and his men say they were subjected to a variety of abhorrent and brutal torture procedures when being questioned— most often for crimes they knew nothing about— including electro-shock, Russian roulette, mock executions, beatings and more. Burge and the midnight crew tortured suspects to extract false confessions, which landed several men on death row.

According to the deal, a now amended ordinance brokered by the People’s Law Office, Amnesty International, Project NIA, Chicago Torture Memorials and several other groups, some 118 victims of the former Area 2 Commander and their families will be eligible for financial compensation and other benefits.… Read the rest

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CPD Still Stonewalling Privacy Advocates On Releasing Information About Surveillance

A Chicago Police officer films protesters and a journalist at the NATO demonstrations in 2012 (photo courtesy of Kate Harnedy)

A Chicago Police officer films protesters and a journalist at the NATO demonstrations in 2012 (photo courtesy of Kate Harnedy)

Aaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

Privacy advocates filed another lawsuit yesterday in the ongoing battle to get the Chicago Police Department to provide information on the covert cell phone tracking systems it uses. Activist Freddy Martinez, who has filed similar suits twice before, filed one against the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office yesterday via Loevy and Loevy, a civil rights law firm. According to a press release from the firm, the suit charges the State’s Attorney has:

“Willfully and intentionally violated FOIA by refusing to produce records related to the presentation of evidence obtained through use of cell site simulators on the basis that it would be too ‘burdensome’ and is insufficiently important to justify the work involved to produce the records.”

The Chicago Police Department is one of many law enforcement agencies employing technologies such as Stingray, a brand-name and generic term for a device which mimics cell phone towers and collect data from phone calls, texts and more.… Read the rest

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Chicago’s Austerity Mayor Might’ve Won, But A Progressive Movement Is Percolating

2015_4_9Garcia

Garcia giving his concession speech (photo by Aaron Cynic).

The race for Chicago mayor has wider implications than just how the nation’s third largest city will govern itself for the next four years. The city has long been a testing ground for disastrous “free market” reforms in education and home to many other privatization schemes, which only grew larger under Rahm Emanuel. While another four years with him as mayor could push this agenda forward, the recent electoral race has helped coalesce what could be a powerful movement of resistance.

Aaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

During the last four years in office, many have criticized Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s imperial-like qualities. Between his “Mayor 1%” moniker, his style of legislating by press release along with a City Council that voted with him nearly 100 percent of the time, Emanuel garnered a reputation for running Chicago like a king, rather than a mayor.… Read the rest

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ACLU Report: Chicago Now The Stop And Frisk Capital of U.S.

Doug Siefken (CC BY 2.0)

Doug Siefken (CC BY 2.0)

Aaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

Chicago Police are leading the way now in “stop-and-frisk,” surpassing even New York City’s use of the controversial practice. According to a report released by the Illinois American Civil Liberties Union yesterday, CPD conducted a quarter million stops that did not lead to an arrest, with Chicagoans being stopped more than 4 times as often as people in New York.

“Chicago has been systematically abusing this practice, for reasons that are not justified by our constitution,” said Harvey Grossman legal director for the Illinois ACLU.

As in New York (and many other places nationwide), the stops disproportionately target people of color. African Americans were subjected to 72 percent of all stops and more stops occur per capita in neighborhoods populated predominantly by people of color. On average, 93.6 per 1,000 Chicagoans were stopped. In Englewood, that number jumps to 266 per 1,000 but around Lincoln/Foster, it’s 43 per 1,000.… Read the rest

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Homan square is the blackest of the black holes: New Revelations About CPD ‘Black Site’

On Wednesday, the Chicago Police Department responded to a Guardian exposé detailing CIA style interrogation tactics at the building on the 3300 block of West Fillmore Street with a typical “nothing to see here” attitude, calling NATO demonstrator Brian Church’s allegations of torture and abuse “false,” and blaming the death of another detainee, John Hubbard, on an accidental heroin overdose.

Aaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

New stories of abuse and interrogation tactics reminiscent of now freed police torturer Jon Burge however, continue to make national headlines. Kory Wright, a now 29 year old man living in Bronzeville, told The Intercept’s Juan Thompson of his 2006 experience with several others at the Homan facility:

For six hours, a sweaty Wright sat zip-tied to a bench with no access to a restroom, a telephone or water. “They strapped me — like across, kind of — to a bench, and my hands were strapped on both sides of me,” he says.

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Indiana Police Face Lawsuit After Officers Break Window, Taze Man During Traffic Stop

Aaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

A family from Hammond, Indiana is suing the Hammond Police department for excessive force after what should’ve been a routine traffic stop turned violent. Lisa Mahone was driving with her boyfriend Jamal Jones and her two children to Stroger Hospital when Hammond police pulled her over for not wearing a seatbelt. CBS2 reports Mahone admitted to the violation and asked for a ticket so she could continue on her way to the hospital to visit her dying mother.

Though Mahone was the operator of the vehicle and produced valid identification and proof of insurance, police demanded to see identification from Jones as well. Jones informed the officers he didn’t have ID, as he recently received a ticket. After attempting to reach into the backseat and produce the ticket from a backpack, the officers drew their guns.

Mahone’s 14-year-old son then began recording the encounter with his cell phone and Mahone dialed 911.… Read the rest

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An Open Letter to My Democratic Spammer

Campaign signs, Santa Ana, 1926 by Orange County Archives via Flickr (CC by 2.0).

Campaign signs, Santa Ana, 1926 by Orange County Archives via Flickr (CC by 2.0).

Writing and covering politics, I pretty much end up on everyone’s campaign fundraising list during election season. No one ever asks, one day I simply get a new email that sounds similar to every other email screaming about how if no one donates money now the Koch brothers will own us forever or just a little more dough will make a huge difference to the campaign and “don’t you want to see real change in (insert city/state/country)?”

Sorry guys, just because I covered the time you showed up to a march somewhere or said something mildly interesting that had more substance than a 20 second talking point once doesn’t mean I want to open my barren wallet and give you the dust, lint and crumpled business cards inside. Forget about money, I’d much rather eat tonight and your fundraising dinner with the bag boiled vegetables and bland chicken is worth less than the frozen pizza in the back of the ice cabinet at the liquor store I’m surviving on.… Read the rest

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Privacy Activist Sues Chicago Police For Records Related To Cellphone Monitoring

Local police departments nationwide are using technologies like Stingray to track and monitor cell phones, and they are very secretive about it. Several organizations and activists across the country are doing their best to dig as deep as the rabbit hole goes.

Aaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

A local privacy activist has filed a second lawsuit aimed at the Chicago Police Department after CPD released a handful of documents admitting it has equipment that monitors and tracks cellphones. Freddy Martinez filed his first lawsuit against CPD in June, demanding it turn over records related to purchases of ISMI catchers, commonly referred to as “Stingrays,” devices which mimic cell phone towers and collect data from phone calls, texts and more. Martinez’s first suit garnered a meager three pages of invoices that show CPD purchased the technology.

In an interview with CBS Chicago, Freddy Martinez said:

“It’s strongly suspected that the Chicago Police Department does monitor protesters and constitutionally protected activities.

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High Tech Lamp Posts To Collect Massive Amounts Of Data In Chicago

2014_6_25_sensorsChicago, one of America’s already most surveilled city, may be getting a new set of potentially privacy invading equipment installed in the downtown area this summer. Called “The Array of Things,” sensors attached to lamp posts and streetlights will measure everything from the weather to foot traffic in the area, using data collected from cell phones. While its creators say they won’t keep any personal information, privacy advocates are still skeptical.

Aaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

Researchers hope to gain deeper insight into how Chicago lives and breathes via an ambitious sounding system of sensors placed on lamp posts throughout the city. The “Array of Things,” a project coordinated by the Chicago Department of Innovation and Technology and the Urban Center for Computation and Data as part of “Initiative 3” in the City’s technology plan. The project is funded by a $200,000 grant from Argonne National Laboratories.… Read the rest

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