Body Cam Footage Appears to Show Baltimore Police Planting Drugs, Again

By MCNS Staff

indexBaltimore police officers are under fire again, for the second time in two weeks, possibly being caught on video planting drugs while on duty.

Another video of police appearing to be planting drugs was released last Tuesday by Josh Insley, a Baltimore defense attorney for Shamere Collins, whose traffic stop and search was at the subject of the police body camera footage.

Officers arrested Collins on November 29, 2016 after a traffic stop in which they said that they said someone on the passenger side of the vehicle appeared to be engaging in drug sale activity according to case records. After approaching the car, they stated that they smelled marijuana. The officers then searched the vehicle and said they recovered bags of heroin as well as marijuana. As a result of this claim, Collins was charged with felony distribution of narcotics.

“Those drugs were not in that car when we were pulled out, the state dismissed the case against me and my attorneys are reviewing the tapes to see what steps to take next,” Collins said in a statement. “I think they put something in my car,” Collins told NBC News.

Three separate police body camera videos of the incident may support her claim.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the existence of the footage was first made public by the office of the Baltimore public defender, which represented Collins in the criminal case. That office said the video “appears to depict multiple officers working together to manufacture evidence.”

One video, time-stamped at about 11:50 pm, shows an officer searching the driver’s side, including between the seat and console and under the seat. He spends about a minute searching the area and does not find anything.

In a second video, time-stamped about 12:20 am, officers can be seen standing around as one officer asks if anyone had searched the area near the driver’s seat. He begins searching and quickly pulls out a small bag.

In a third video, also time-stamped about 12:20 am, and recorded from the body camera of the officer conducting the search, the officer can be seen pulling the bag from the driver’s seat area, which he suggests contains marijuana and other drugs.

The video, obtained by the Baltimore Sun, was authenticated by the Baltimore Police Department.

Although none of the police in the video have been named, police say that the officer who found the drugs is different from the officer who conducted the initial search, and had a stronger notion of where to look.

The video is the most recent incident that has increased already intensified scrutiny of the Baltimore police department, in a city with high crime rates and questionable police actions like the death of Freddie Gray Jr., who died after a being arrested and transported in the back of a police van. A scathing U.S. Department of Justice report described the Baltimore Police Department as engaging “in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the Constitution or federal law.” As a result, a federal judge approved a consent decree that mandated sweeping changes to the department.

Two weeks ago, the Maryland Office of the Public Defender released a similar video that showed an officer plant, then later, retrieve drugs in the back yard of a Baltimore residence. The video shows three officers were involved.


Mississippi Nissan Employees Vote Not to Unionize

By Free Radical

tpugxc4vkmx41cw9puiaNational sources have confirmed that workers at Nisaan’s Canton, Mississippi auto plant decided not to accept the United Auto Workers’ bid to represent them. A two day vote ending on Friday culminated in a tally where 2,244 anti-union voters (nearly 63%) defeated 1,307 pro-union voters.

According to the New York Times, the contest had considerable racial overtones. The majority of Nissan workers are Black in one of the nation’s most heavily Black and poor states.  This predicament, where few high paying, stable jobs are available to African-Americans has engendered loyalty among employees who can make more than $20 per hour and receive paid holidays, vacation time, and retirement packages. These pay scales and benefits are rare to nonexistent in central(but really most areas of) Mississippi.

Yet racial resentment uneasily coexists with appreciation. Some Black employees claim that White workers are disproportionately given promotions based on their race and not their merit.

However this unionization battle is bigger than Mississippi. For decades, automakers have moved operations from the North, with its storied history of labor activism and victories, to the South which has been historically more successful in defeating union efforts.

Critics argue that while the rope thrown to African-Americans by car companies provide a temporary lifeline in better compensated jobs, that same rope becomes a noose crippling any efforts to gain further concessions and greater control over the means of production. Furthermore, African-Americans are constantly reminded of their own vulnerability as car companies can threaten to pack up their operations and move elsewhere as had been the case when northern plants have closed down in previous decades.

These fears are not theoretical as the UAW has alleged that Nissan forewarned workers that if they unionize the plant could close and workers’ jobs would not be guaranteed if they chose to strike.

It is unclear where the UAW plans to go from here. They spent considerable resources in Mississippi only after they lost another fight to unionize Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2014. In a market heavily stratified by class and race, the future of labor rests squarely on the shoulders of Black workers. As they go, so does the movement.


Trump’s DOJ Gears Up to Attack Affirmative Action

By Free Radical

Nancy Leong, Professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law argues that Asians are being coopted by White conservatives to attack affirmative action.

Nancy Leong, Professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law argues that Asians are being coopted by White conservatives to attack affirmative action.

Earlier this week the New York Times reported that the DOJ is looking to marshal its resources to attack affirmative action.

The newspaper’s report stems from a leaked document of the DOJ’s civil rights division seeking lawyers who are interested in working on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”

The DOJ has attempted to downplay the issue, having its spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores on Wednesday call the Times story “inaccurate.” She stated that the Justice Department is currently only seeking to investigate one complaint by an Asian-American who alleges racial discrimination in one university’s admissions policies.

The Times has since responded saying that it seems difficult to believe that the DOJ would make such an aggressive request for attorneys for just one case. Moreover, the leaked memorandum mentioned “investigations” as plural rather than one investigation.

Observers, such as scholars Nancy Leong and Erwin Chemerinsky have noted that Asian-Americans have been targeted by White conservative activists

US Gives to African Drought Relief

By Chuma Kisu

Parched land in Somalia after months of no rain.

Parched land in Somalia after months of no rain.

According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the US gave $169 million to drought and food relief efforts in Ethiopia and Kenya.

USAID said in a statement that it had provided $137 million in aid for Ethiopia and nearly $33 million for Kenya.

The latest funding comes after the US pledged $639 million last month in urgent food assistance for Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen.

Increased aid comes as numerous countries in the region face crisis-level food shortages due to armed conflict, prolonged drought and economic upheaval that have also resulted in a lack of medical care, sanitation, shelter and safety.

Meteorologists have blamed a series of severe back-to-back droughts in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa region on fluctuations in ocean temperatures known as the Indian Ocean Dipole. While rain is expected early next year in Somalia it is unlikely to offer immediate relief.

The USAID statement said, “With this new funding, the United States is scaling up emergency food assistance, while providing specialized nutrition supplies to treat malnourished children, and also furnishing safe drinking water and essential health services.”

The funds for Kenya would help support refugees fleeing neighboring conflicts as well as Kenyans suffering from drought, the agency said. Rising food prices in Kenya have also been an ongoing concern.

The assistance for Ethiopia, which has also been struck by a severe drought, included enough food to feed 3 million people, USAID added.

While the hardest-hit area in Somali region of eastern Ethiopia is not plagued by conflict, it is remote with poor infrastructure and hard to reach.

“It is not a famine but it is rising up to the levels of getting close to famine,” said Matt Nims, acting director of Food for Peace at USAID. “That is why we want to act now so that we’re not into that stage.”

According to international reports the United Nations estimates that 795 million people worldwide are undernourished, mostly in developing countries. It has already warned of mass starvation in Yemen, Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan.

Last month, The United Nations said that while many people in South Sudan are still going hungry, the worst of the famine had eased.

In Yemen, a two-year war has increased concerns about mass starvation and disease.