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Posts Tagged ‘SAN FRANCISCO POLICE DEPARTMENT’

ALLAH’S DEATH ANGELS: PART FIVE (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on June 17, 2014 at 12:20 am

In San Francisco, the sudden collapse of the citywide police dragnet brought new shivers of panic to an already frightened citizenry.

Many whites stopped going outdoors after dark.  Even police officers frequently looked over their shoulders as evening approached.

Some whites–especially in the heavily Italian North Beach area–began talking about spreading vigilante terror among blacks.

And the murder-spree affected the city financially: The tourist trade–on which San Francisco depended for so much of its revenue–sharply declined.

The reaction of blacks was entirely different.

During the manhunt for the notorious “Zodiac” serial killer in the late 1960s, San Francisco police had relied heavily on dragnets and interrogations of young white men resembling a composite sketch.

But blacks charged racism when the same tactic was used to hunt for the supposed lone “Zebra” gunman. 

Zebra-Killer

Many blacks blamed “unemployment” and “oppression” for the attacks.  When interviewed by the San Francisco Examiner, none condemned the murders or expressed sympathy for their victims.

Then, on April 22, 1974, a break finally came in the case.  Anthony Cornelius Harris decided to tell the police what he knew about the men responsible for the murders.

Before doing so, he visited the parents of his close friend, Larry Craig Green–who was one of the “Zebra” killers.  He hoped that, through Green’s mother, he could persuade his comrade to go with him to the police as a witness against the other three Death Angels.

While at the home of Green’s parents, he called Green.

“I knew right there it was impossible to get him to admit to doing anything,” Harris later testified.  “He told me to get the hell out of his house and never to come back.”

Later, Harris phoned the Black Self-Help moving and storage company where he had been working for the last six months.

One of the Muslims he spoke with was Green, who warned him: “Man, they’ve got a contract out to kill you, your wife and the baby.”

It was then that Harris realized that he, his wife, Debra, and their newborn son had been marked for death by his former friends.  There was nowhere else to go but the police if he wanted to stay alive.

So, on April 22, 1974, he came forward as a police witness.

Many police believed Harris had been one of the killers himself.  He bore a strong resemblence to the suspect in a police artist’s sketch: A young black man with a short Afro and pointed chin.

But Harris insisted that he hadn’t murdered anyone, and that he had resisted efforts by his friends to enlist him in their murder spree.  He claimed to fear for his life at the hands of his fellow Muslims.

The police immediately placed Harris and his family under round-the-clock guard.

At 5 a.m. on the morning of May 1, 1974, more than 100 police officers assembled at the San Francisco Hall of Justice.  They were heavily armed–with shotguns, submachineguns and automatic rifles.

Their assignment: Arrest seven men believed responsible for the brutal series of murders known as the “Zebra” case.

At a given signal, police charged into the various homes and apartments where the suspects lay sleeping.  None of the wanted men offered any resistance.

Three of the seven were soon release for lack of evidence.  The remaining three–Larry Craig Green, Manuel Moore and J.C. Simon–were held at high bond.

A fourth suspect, Jessie Lee Cooks, was already serving a life sentence in prison for his admitted murder of Frances Rose, a physical therapist, on October 30, 1973.

Cooks would be charged with other “Zebra” murders by a San Francisco grand jury on May 16, 1974.

The trial began on March 3, 1975, and lasted longer than any previous one in the history of California–376 days.  Testimony from 181 witnesses–115 for the prosecution–filled 13,331 pages of trial transcript.

San Francisco Superior Court

The Nation of Islam paid for the legal representation of every one of the defendants except Cooks, who had admitted to murdering Frances Rose.

On March 13, 1976, Larry Craig Green, Manuel Moore, Jessie Lee Cooks and J.C. Simon were convicted of multiple murders.  All were sentenced to life in state prison.

Harris remained under heavy police guard throughout his tenure as a witness.  Then he was flown to Houston, Texas, and kept under the watchful eye of the local police.

From there he moved to El Paso, and then on to Las Vegas.  For a time, he came under the protection of the Justice Department’s Witness Security Program.

After the trial, Harris received a portion of the $30,000 reward.  Eventually he turned up in Oakland, and then ultimately disappeared.

The toll of victims taken by the “Zebra” killers had been staggering:

  • Sixteen murdered
  • Five wounded
  • One raped
  • The attempted kidnapping of three children

At the time of sentencing, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Joseph Karesh turned to a wall map showing where each of the murders had taken place.

“As I look at this map and see all these dots,” said Karesh, “I hope we do not forget all these people who have been reduced to dots.”

ALLAH’S DEATH ANGELS: PART FOUR (OF FIVE)

In Bureaucracy, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on June 16, 2014 at 12:10 am

According to the man who became the prosecution’s star witness against the notorious “Zebra” killers of San Francisco, entering the Death Angels wasn’t easy.

According to Anthony Harris: “[The Death Angels] is supposed to be a pretty high branch of the Nation of Islam, supposed to be 2,000 people inside it.

“And every time you kill a person, you’re supposed to have somebody witness your killing the person for verification when you go back to Chicago,” the national headquarters for the Nation of Islam.

Chicago Headquarters of the Nation of Islam

It was there, said Harris, that the photographs or eyewitnesses had to appear before the prospective Death Angel could receive his winged badge of membership.

“And after you get to killing people,” the Death Angels “give you a pair of wings to put on your neck, and they take a picture,” testified Harris.

“They say you kill four children, you automatically become a captain, or a lieutenant.  If you kill five or six women, you become a lieutenant.  Or kill nine men, the number of completion, and they give you a rank.”

Extra status was attached to Death Angels who mutilated the bodies of their victims.

“If you cut their heads off, and cut the legs and arms off and cut them open wide with a lot of blood, it’s supposed to symbolize you’re very vicious and that you could be well trusted.

“The killing was so, if they see you do it, they know for a fact you’re not a police officer and you’re not involved” as an informer,” testified Harris.

The slayings were always proceeded by elaborate safety precautions.  These included disguises, escape routes and the use of safehouses.

“In case you kill someone in that area,” Harris later testified that his Muslim friends were told, “you can automatically go to that house.  There won’t be any questions asked about it at all.

“They made that clear all the time, every Saturday, at the Fruit of Islam (FOI) meetings.  The FOI was the enforcement and disciplinary arm of the Nation of Islam.

“They said that if you’re going to kill someone, come right out and say it.  Let us know ahead of time so we can set up a good alibi.”

Recruiting poster for the Fruit of Islam, the elite guard of the Nation of Islam

Non-Muslims were not to be trusted or used in any way.

“Our own attorneys,” the listeners were told at these weekend meetings, “will lie for you,” Harris quoted one of the Muslim speakers as saying.

On the night of January 28, 1974, J.C. Simon, Larry Green and Manuel Moore launched their most spectacular assault on San Francisco whites.

Shots and screams echoed throughout the city as the killers, cruising in a fast-moving black Cadillac, literally turned the streets into a shooting gallery:

  • Tana Smith, a secretary, was slain while waiting at a bus stop.
  • A derelict, John Bambic, was murdered as he rummaged in a garbage can.
  • Vincent Wollin, a pensioner, was walking down the street when one of the gunmen fatally overtook him.
  • A housewife named Jane Holly was killed in a Laundromat while she removed clothes from a dryer.
  • And Roxanne McMillan, another housewife, was critically wounded and left paralyzed from the waist down as she walked down a flight of stairs to her apartment.

Each of these victims had been shot twice in the back by a black gunman using a .32 automatic pistol.

Just hours before the murder spree, Anthony Harris had asked his friend, Larry Green, why their comrade, J.C. Simon, was so depressed and irritable.

“He’s pretty pissed off because he didn’t make lieutenant,” Green had replied.  “He didn’t have enough kills on his record.”

The killings continued up to mid-April, 1974.

On April 20, 1974, San Francisco’s liberal mayor, Joseph L. Alioto, authorized a city-wide police dragnet to flush out the still-supposed lone gunman.

Throughout the city, roving squads of specially-assigned officers stopped and questioned over 600 young black men.  Those stopped were thought by police to resemble a vague description of the “killer,” as given by witnesses and surviving victims.

Some blacks were stopped so many times they were issued special identification cards to prevent future police interrogations.

The dragnet failed to flush out the Zebra Killers, but it touched off an uproar within the black community.  Mayor Alioto was heatedly denounced by civil rights and religious activists.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People filed a suit in federal court for the Northern District of California to halt the stops.

On April 26—six days after the dragnet began—San Francisco’s U.S. District Judge Alfonzo J. Zirpoli acted on the NAACP’s suit.  He declared the stops an unconstitutional violation of blacks’ civil rights.

In the future, ordered Zirpoli, police would need specific information leading them to believe that whoever they stopped had committed a crime or was in the process of doing so.

ALLAH’S DEATH ANGELS: PART THREE (OF FIVE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on June 13, 2014 at 12:10 am

The reign of the “Zebra” killers began on October 20, 1973–with the machete decapitation of Quita Hague and the near-murder of her husband, Richard.

Almost immediately after the two Black Muslims finished hacking their victims, flashbulbs began popping.  Two other cars, driven by members of the Nation of Islam, had pulled up

Several camera-toting Muslims started taking pictures of the blood-soaked murder scene–as evidence of Larry Green’s and Jessie Lee Cooks’ worthiness as Death Angels.

A series of murders followed.

On October 30–ten days after the abduction of Richard and Quita Hague–Jessie Lee Cooks struck again.

He shot Frances Rose, a physical therapist, four times in the head and neck as she sat in her car at the entrance of the parking lot to the University of California Extension.

Cooks was arrested within a few minutes and only a short distance from the scene, still in possession of the murder weapon, a revolver.

He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life imprisonment on December 14, 1974.

He would be tried again and convicted of other murders, along with the other “Zebra” defendants on March 13, 1976.

On November 25, Salem Erakat, a grocer, was found shot in the back of the head in his mom-and-pop market, which lay across the street from the San Francisco Federal Building.

On December 11, a San Francisco resident named Paul Dancik was fatally shot three times as he used a public telephone.

On December 13, Arthur Agnos, a former administrative aide to San Francisco Assemblyman Leo T. McCarthy, was shot and wounded while standing on a street corner, talking to two friends.

He would survive and later serve as Mayor of San Francisco from 1988 to 1992.

On Christmas Eve, Larry Craig Green and J.C. Simon asked Anthony Harris to help them take some packages to a nearby beach.

“When I unloaded the truck, I recall getting a lot of blood on my hands,” Harris later testified as a witness for the prosecution.  He asked Simon and Green what was in the packages.

“They said, it was probably a dog or a cat,” said Harris.  Later, he learned that the package had held a human body.  But he never learned whose.

Harris helped to dispose of similar packages “about 40-some times.”

Harris was taken along by the “Zebra” killers on several shootings.  Later, Harris reasoned: “I guess they thought that, sooner or later, I would join their little clique.”

One night, Harris, J.C. Simon and Manuel Moore parked their black Cadillac near an apartment complex.  Simon and Moore got out, leaving Harris in the vehicle.

“The next thing I knew,” said Harris, “I heard a gunshot.  Manuel started running from the same area that the gunshot came from.”

Moore and Simon jumped into the car.  As the vehicle sped off, Harris saw “what appeared to be a body” lying on the sidewalk.

On another occasion, Harris asked his comrades what had happened after he heard shots ring out.

“Just watch television or listen to the radio, and you’ll see what happened,” one of them said.

Harris learned from the news later on that “somebody had been shot and killed.”

Between killings, Harris and his friends attended regular meetings at the Black Self-Help, the Muslim-owned furniture-moving company in San Francisco.

The Black Self-Help

At some of these meetings, as many as 40 to 50 or more Muslims were present.

“They were talking about killing people,” Harris later testified.  Films were shown “of the Watts riots [in 1965]   and different riots taking place throughout the past, black people being beaten down by the police and shot.”

The meetings’ participants were asked, “Could we allow this to continue?  They said the only way to stop it was to act and be vicious…like the police department.

“That you had to…be able to go out and just deliberately take a baby and smash his head against the wall and kill him and, if you have to, even drink the blood to show how vicious you are.

“And they showed us a large number of pictures” on a bulletin board “of a lot of bald-headed men with little white wings on their necks, and identified each guy as being members of the Death Angels.”

Harris was told that “if I wanted to be a member of the Death Angels, that I’d have to go out and kill people to get some wings.”

Not only was the wearing of a pair of white wings a symbol of belonging to the Death Angels, so was a shaved head, stated Harris.

Only certified members of the Death Angels could enter Muslim temples with shaved heads.  Anyone else who entered such a temple with a shaved head “can be killed or put out of the temple for coming in like that.”

ALLAH’S DEATH ANGELS: PART TWO (OF FIVE)

In Bureaucracy, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on June 12, 2014 at 12:15 am

While an inmate at San Quentin prison, Anthony C. Harris became a devout member of the Nation of Islam.

At that time, the spiritual leader of the Nation was Elijah Muhammad, who preached a gospel of black separatism and superiority.  Muhammad taught that whites were literally the incarnation of evil, a race of “blue-eyed devils.”

Elijah Muhammad NYWTS-2.jpg

Elijah Muhammed

To test the worthiness of His Chosen Black People, proclaimed Muhammad, Allah had allowed their 400-year persecution by these “bleached-out, grafted snakes.”

But that great testing period would soon come to its end.  Then would follow the literal, heaven-sent destruction of all whites.  At the conclusion of this divine slaughter, Allah would create a paradise earth for His Chosen Black People.

It was also in San Quentin that Harris met two other inmates who would radically change his life: Manuel Moore and Jessie Lee Cooks.

Both men asked Harris–a fifth-dan kung-fu expert–to teach them the martial art–so they could kill whites.

Harris agreed to supply the lessons.

The three men had a conversation in the temporary Muslim temple in the prison–about “killing people and cutting their heads off–just white people,” Harris later testified in court.

After Harris was paroled on October 15, 1973, he drifted into San Francisco.  There he made a new friend–Larry Craig Green, who helped him into a job at the Black Self-Help, a Muslim-owned, furniture-moving company in the city.

Yet another new friend he made there was J.C. Simon.

Soon he was reunited with Jessie Cooks, who had been paroled in July.  The release of Manuel Moore followed in November–as did his own arrival in San Francisco.

In September or October, 1973, Harris and 12 to 13 other Muslims–including Simon, Cooks and Green–met at J.C. Simon’s San Francisco apartment.

“They asked me,” Harris later testified, “was I able to kill anyone?  Did I have my mind together?  They wanted me to work in the [Muslim] temple” as a kung-fu instructor.

At a second meeting at Simon’s apartment, a large, velvet-lined case was prominently displayed.  In it were two machetes, three pistols–a snubnose .38 revolver, a .357 Magnum and an automatic–and a shotgun.

“They asked me, how did I feel about white people?  Did I feel they were my enemy?  Was my mind together enough to destroy my enemy?

“And I just told them, ‘I don’t know what you mean by destroying my enemy.'”  Harris told the other Muslims that he had no enemies.

“They wanted me to go out and kill some people, to show them I could be trusted among them.  They told me I would have to make some kind of move sooner or later.”

Once again, Harris found himself under cross-examination: was he ready to take his first step towards joining the elite of Allah, the Death Angels?  Was he willing to assist his brethren in destroying the blue-eyed white devils?

To drive the point home, the Muslims showed Harris photographs of his brother, stepbrother, mother, sister and fiancee.

“They told me I knew too much about the organization, and something could happen” to Harris himself and his family unless he joined the group of future killers.

Still, Harris refused to commit himself to the coming plot to slaughter whites.

So his companions decided to enlist him in their cause in one dramatic–and lethal–move.

On the night of October 20, 1973, Americans were glued to their TV sets.  President Richard Nixon had just fired Special Watergate Prosecutor Archibald Cox and disbanded the Watergate Special Prosecutor’s office.

On that same evening, Harris stood at a bus stop, waiting to be taken home from his job at the Black Self-Help, when a panel truck driven by Larry Green pulled up in the bus zone.

Next to Green, in the passenger’s seat, sat Jessie Lee Cooks.  Both men offered Harris a ride home, and he accepted.

The truck drove around for awhile, then parked in the shadows near Powell and Chestnut Streets, in a residential neighborhood.

A few minutes later, the three Muslims spotted a young–and white–married couple, Richard and Quite Hague, strolling nearby.

Hague, 30, worked as a mining engineer for the San Francisco office of Utah International.  Quita, 28, was a reporter for the Industrial City Press, in South San Francisco.  The previous month they had celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary.

Cooks stopped the Hagues, asking for directions.  Then he shoved a pistol into the back of Richard Hague and  forced the couple into the rear of the panel truck.

The Hagues were bound, beaten and driven to a remote spot in the San Francisco industrial district.  There they were yanked from the van.  Larry Green seized a machete and, with one stroke, nearly decapitated Quita Hague.

“He got blood all over him,” Harris would later testify.

“Larry came over with the knife and said something about, ‘You ought to have seen all the blood gush out of her neck.'”

Green handed the machete to Cooks, who slashed Richard Hague about the face and back of the head.  Left for dead, Hague would eventually recover–and testify against his wife’s killers.

ALLAH’S DEATH ANGELS: PART ONE (OF FIVE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics on June 11, 2014 at 12:30 pm

From October 20, 1973 to April 20, 1974, San Francisco was rocked by a series of random, brutal attacks against whites.  The assailant was at first thought to be a lone black gunman.

The toll finally reached 16 murders, five woundings, one rape, and the attempted kidnapping of three children.

The rampage, however, was not limited to San Francisco.  Throughout California–from Bakersfield to San Diego–at least 93 other whites were murdered, according to later police investigations.

To end the San Francisco slaughter, teams of police decoys roamed the streets, posing as hitchhikers, a favorite target of the supposed lone gunman.

To prevent ham radio operators from honing in on their operation, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD)used a special high-frequency “zebra” radio band.

When the use of this became known, the slaughters were dubbed “the Zebra case” by the media.  Most people assumed the term referred to black-on-white crime.

But the killer failed to blunder into any of these ambushes.

On April 20, 1974, then-Mayor Joseph Alioto–desperate to end the slaughter–authorized a massive, city-wide dragnet.

Over 600 young black males were stopped and questioned by police who were armed with only a vague description of the killer, as given by surviving victims.  Some blacks were stopped so many times they were given special ID cards to prevent future stops.

Civil libertarians and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) protested vigorously.  The NAACP filed a complaint with U.S. District Judge Alfonso J. Zirpoli in San Francisco.

Just six days after the dragnets began, Zirpoli declared the stops illegal.

In San Francisco, the tourist trade fell off.  Many whites stopped going outside after dark.  Some whites began talking about forming vigilante committees and spreading similar terror among blacks.

Then, on April 22, 1974, a break finally came in the case.

Anthony Cornelius Harris, a tall, thin, handsome member of the Nation of Islam–otherwise known as the Black Muslims–came forward as a police witness.

At 28, he was a fifth-dan kung-fu expert who always dressed well and spoke softly.  He also had firsthand knowledge of the “Zebra murders.”

Anthony Harris

Tne killings, said Harris, weren’t the work of a crazed loner.  They were being carried out by a group of militant Black Muslims who made use of elaborate security precautions.

Harris’ intimate knowledge of the killers stemmed from their having been among his closest friends for over six months.

According to Harris, the killers had repeatedly tried to enlist him as an accomplice.  But Harris–so he later claimed–could not bring himself to commit cold-blooded murder.  This led his friends to suspect that Harris might be a police informer or agent.

Harris began fearing for his life.  He also wanted the $30,000 reward being offered for the capture of the still-supposed lone gunman.

On May 1, 1974, police–acting on Harris’ information–arrested seven suspects.

Chief Assistant District Attorney W.H. Guibbini asked for high bail for three of the suspects after their indictment.  Presiding Superior Court Judge Clayton V. Horn raised it to $300,000 each.

The accused killers remained in jail before and during their trial.

Four of these were tried and convicted.  On March 29, 1976, they were sentenced to prison for life.

They were Larry Craig Green, 22; Manuel Moore, 29; Jessie Lee Cooks, 29; and J.C. Simon, 29.  They appealed their convictions to the California Supreme Court–which affirmed them.

Jessie Cooks, Manuel Moore, J.C. Simon and Larry Craig Green

During his testimony as a prosecution witness, Harris was guarded constantly by San Francisco police.

When the SFPD’s resources began to be strained, Harris was placed on the Witness Security Program, operated by the U.S. Marshals Service for the Justice Department.

Also known as WITSEC, it offers protection, relocation and new identities to those who testify against organized crime groups.

Harris was eventually given a new name and relocated to a series of different states.  He received a portion of the $30,000 reward he was seeking.  Then he vanished altogether.

What follows is an inside account of the “Zebra” death cult, as depicted through the grand jury testimony of the star witness against the killers: Anthony C. Harris.

* * * * *

Born in Long Beach, California, in 1946, Anthony Cornelius Harris got as far as the sixth grade.  He clashed often with police and, on January 3, 1969, he was convicted for assaulting a policeman.

He was released from prison in May, 1970, when he won a reversal of his sentence at the California Supreme Court.

But he was once again arrested and convicted, in 1971, of second-degree burglary in Los Angeles.  For this, he drew a sentence at San Quentin prison.

And he also met two of the future “Zebra” killers: Manuel Moore and Jessie Lee Cooks.

Cooks had been convicted of robbery; Moore had been sent to prison for burglary.  Both wanted Harris, a fifth-dan kung-fu expert, to teach them the martial arts.

According to Harris, Cooks wanted to learn kung-fu so he could kill whites “because they had castrated and killed our ancestors and stomped our babies’ heads in.”

FBI DOESN’T SPELL P-O-T: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, Law, Law Enforcement, Social commentary on May 23, 2014 at 12:11 am

On November 6, 2012, Americans overwhelmingly re-elected Barack Obama as President of the United States.

And on the same date, Americans in Colorado and Washington state overwhelmingly voted to decriminalize and regulate the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana by adults over 21.

Both measures called for setting up state licensing schemes for pot growers, processors and retail stores.

But at the Federal level, marijuana remains a prohibited, Schedule 1 drug.

And in a marijuana-related decision–King v. Kentucky–the Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that police can force their way into a home without a warrant.

By an 8-1 vote, the Court upheld the warrantless search of an apartment after police smelled marijuana and feared that those inside were destroying incriminating evidence.

Police drug raid

Prior to the November 6 marijuana-legalization votes, the Obama Justice Department had issued a policy for handling states that had legalized “medical marijuana.”

This said that Federal officials should generally not use their limited resources to go after small-time users, but should investigate and prosecute large-scale trafficking organizations.

The result was increased Federal raids on marijuana dispensaries–much to the outrage of potheads and liberals.

Since the legalization of “recreational marijuana” in Colorado and Washington state, senior White House and Justice Department officials have considered taking legal action against those states to undermine their voter-approved initiatives.

The Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in particular sees the legalization of marijuana as a direct challenge to its authority to enforce Federal anti-drug laws.

US-DrugEnforcementAdministration-Seal.svg

The agency’s official position in marijuana is as follows:

Marijuana is properly categorized under Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), 21 U.S.C. S 801, et seq. 

The clear weight of the currently available evidence supports this classification, including evidence that smoked marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no accepted medical value in treatment in the United States, and evidence that there is a general lack of accepted safety for its use even under medical supervision.

The campaign to legitimize what is called “medical” marijuana is based on two propositions: first, that science views marijuana as medicine; and, second, that the DEA targets sick and dying people using the drug.  Neither proposition is true. 

Specifically, smoked marijuana has not withstood the rigors of science–it is not medicine, and it is not safe.  Moreover, the DEA targets criminals engaged in the cultivation and traficking of marijuana, not the sick and the dying.  This is true even in the 15 states that have approved the use of “medical” marijuana.

Click here: http://www.justice.gov/dea/docs/marijuana_position_2011.pdf

Among the DEA’s weapons: Federal asset forfeiture laws allow the Justice Department to seize properties used to facilitate violations of Federal anti-drug laws.

To increase the penalties for violating such laws, Congress amended the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984.

Section 881(a)(7) authorizes the forfeiture of real property “which is used, or intended to be used, in any manner or part, to commit, or to facilitate the commission” of a felony violation of the Federal Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970.

Congress intended that section to attack the economic power underwriting illegal drug operations.  As a result, the Justice Department can seize houses and/or land from a landowner owing to a tenant’s illegal drug activity.

This holds true even if the landlord didn’t participate in or claimed to be unaware of the drug-law violations.

Before civil forfeiture can proceed, two requirements must be met:

  • An exchange of a controlled substance; and
  • A substantial connection between the property and the illegal activity.

Once the government has proved the property was used to “facilitate” the violation of Federal anti-drug laws, seizure of the property can occur.

This usually means invoking the “innocent owner” defense: “I didn’t know or consent to what was going on.”

It’s up to the landowner to prove his innocence.  And proving a lack of knowledge and/or consent is extremely hard.

If an “affirmative” defense can’t be proved, forfeiture of the property is virtually inevitable.

The U.S. Attorney General then has the legal right to sell the forfeited property.  The profits from this sale can then be forwarded to various agencies of the United States Government.

Prosecutors and case agents think of this as a tax on criminality.

There is an additional incentive for local and State law enforcement agencies to seize properties involved in drug-law violations: They are allowed to keep some of the proceeds once the property has been sold.

Thus, financially-strapped police departments have found pursuing drug-law crimes a lucrative way to fill their own coffers.

Still, the Federal Government finds itself not only at war with marijuana-legalizing states but with itself.

President Barack Obama has claimed that the affects of marijuana are no different than those of alcohol.  But Michele Leonhart, director of the DEA, opposes legalizing marijuana as “reckless and irresponsible.”

This has reportedly led her boss–Attorney General Eric Holder–to order Leonhart to “get in line” with the administration’s efforts to legalize marijuana and lessen the penalties for people who commit federal drug crimes.

Until there is a concensus by lawmakers and citizens on what America’s policy on marijuana should be, the results will be continued tension and confusion.

FBI DOESN’T SPELL P-O-T: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In History, Law, Law Enforcement, Social commentary on May 22, 2014 at 12:50 am

The FBI has a problem.

The Bureau needs more specialists to combat cybercrime–especially now that the Obama Justice Department has indicted five Chinese military officials for hacking into American companies to steal trade secrets.

On the other hand: Many of the tech-savvy experts the FBI wants to hire are as much into marijuana as they are into computers.

On May 19, FBI Director James Comey tried to inject a note of humor into this situation when addressing a New York conference.

FBI Director James Comey

Comey said the FBI was grappling with balancing its desire to recruit a strong workforce against changing attitudes on marijuana use by states and young adults.

“Some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview,” said Comey.

The comment landed Comey in hot water at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committe on May 21.

“Do you understand that that could be interpreted as one more example of leadership in America dismissing the seriousness of marijuana use and that could undermine our ability to convince young people not to go down a dangerous path?” asked Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama).

“Very much, Senator,” Comey replied. “I am determined not to lose my sense of humor, but, unfortunately, there I was trying to be both serious and funny.

“I am absolutely dead-set against using marijuana. I don’t want young people to use marijuana. It’s against the law.  We have a three-year ban on marijuana.   I did not say that I am going to change that ban.”

By this, Comey meant that the FBI will not hire anyone who has used marijuana during the previous three years.

Comey was referring to marijuana’s still being illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act.  Despite this,  many states now allow its use for “medical” purposes.

In Colorado and Washington state, it can be legally used for any purpose.

Which, in turn, brings up a salient point:

The dangers of secondhand smoke are now almost universally accepted, even by smokers.  But from a strictly health-related viewpoint, there is as much reason to restrict exposure to marijuana smoke.

Consider the following from the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment OEHHA) of the State’s Environmental Protection Agency:

“MARIJUANA SMOKE LISTED EFFECTIVE JUNE 19, 2009 AS KNOWN TO THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA TO CAUSE CANCER [06/19/09]

“The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) of the California Environmental Protection Agency is adding marijuana smoke to the Proposition 65 list, effective June 19, 2009.

“Marijuana smoke was considered by the Carcinogen Identification Committee (CIC) of the OEHHA Science Advisory Board at a public meeting held on May 29, 2009.

The CIC determined that marijuana smoke was clearly shown, through scientifically valid testing according to generally accepted principles, to cause cancer.

“In summary, marijuana smoke is being listed under Proposition 65 as known to the State to cause cancer:”

Yet marijuana smoke is treated as something harmless, even as a subject for humor.

On “The Tonight Show,” Jay Leno often joked about the growing number of “patients” who need “medical marijuana” as a remedy for glaucoma.

In San Francisco–long known as a bastion of tolerance for drug-abuse offenses of all types–police are cutting back on the enforcement of drug crimes.

Marijuana

This is especially true in the case of marijuana.

The SFPD claims this reflects a shift to focusing on violent crime,

The decline is also partly due to a 10% staff cut during the past two years, as well as a $600,000 reduction in state and federal grants for drug enforcement.

The president of a property management agency recently told me that if a tenant complains of marijuana smoke pollution from another unit, the police will not enter the unit from which the stench is coming.

Yet marijuana remains illegal under the Federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), classified as a Schedule 1 substance.

A Schedule 1 substance is defined as having the following characteristics:

  • It has a high potential for abuse.
  • It has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
  • There is a lack of accepted safety for its use under medical supervision.

And despite the unwillingness of the SFPD to enforce anti-drug laws, a 2011 Supreme Court decision allows police to force their way into a home without a warrant.

By an 8-1 vote, the Court upheld the warrantless search of an apartment after police smelled marijuana and feared that those inside were destroying incriminating evidence.

In addition, Federal asset forfeiture laws allow the Justice Department to seize properties used to facilitate violations of Federal anti-drug laws.

On November 6, 2012, Americans overwhelmingly re-elected Barack Obama as President of the United States.

And on the same date, Americans in Colorado and Washington state overwhelmingly voted to decriminalize and regulate the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana by adults over 21.

Both measures called for setting up state licensing schemes for pot growers, processors and retail stores.

On December 6, 2012, hundreds of potheads gathered at Seattle Center for a New Year’s Eve-style countdown to 12 a.m., when the legalization measure took effect.

When the clock struck, they cheered and lit up in unison–as though inhaling cancerous fumes and a skunk-like stench was something to celebrate.

 

REAL COPS AREN’T TV COPS: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, Law Enforcement, Self-Help on October 18, 2013 at 2:15 am

Bill was visiting Daly City when he got threatening call from a stranger.

A resident of San Francisco, he filed a complaint with his local police station as soon as he returned to the city.

But then an Inspector named Jones told him: “You need to also file a report with the Daly City Police Department.  Otherwise, we can’t help you.”

So Bill called the Daly City police–and was quickly told he didn’t need to file a report, since he had already filed one with the San Francisco Police Ddepartment (SFPD)

Angered, Bill decided to make a complaint. He dialed the main number and said, “Chief’s office, please.”

Bill didn’t expect to speak with the chief, Greg Suhr.  Speaking with one of Surh’s aides would be enough.

Police departments are quasi-military organizations, where hierarchy counts for everything.

A sergeant-secretary answered the phone.  Bill outlined what had happened–and didn’t hide his anger at having been blackmailed at a time when he most needed help.

The Chief’s secretary was sympathetic, took Bill’s number, and promised to get back to him soon.  A few minutes later, he called back.

The secretary said he had spoken with Inspector Jones, who had tried to trace the phone number of the person who had threatened him.  But that hadn’t been possible.

The number went to a Google phone exchange, which could be used by callers who didn’t want to reveal their actual number.

The next time Bill spoke with the Inspector, he detected a more helpful attitude.  Still, no one in the SFPD offered Bill any advice on how to deal with an unprecedented situation.

Bill again visited a local police station.  He  brought a detailed, written account of who he suspected might be responsible for the threat.

Inspector Jones accepted it.  Bill asked what would happen next.

Jones said he would forward Bill’s report to the District Attorney’s office.  They would then decide whether to prosecute.

Bill continues to remain uncertain–of the danger he faces, of what police and prosecutors might do on his behalf.  He remains alert whenever he goes out, but that’s all he can do.

Unlike celebrities, he can’t afford bodyguards.  Unlike public officials, he can’t count on round-the-clock police protection.

When dealing with police, it’s best to remember the following:

Above everyone else, police look out for each other.

Robert Daley, a police reporter for the New York Times, spent one year as a deputy police commissioner.  He bluntly revealed this truth in his 1971 bestseller, Target Blue: An Insider’s View of the N.Y.P.D.:

“In effect, the citizen who murdered his wife’s lover was sought by a team of detectives, two men.  But he who killed a cop was sought by 32,000.”

That’s why the Mafia didn’t kill cops.  Only sucidal people took on those odds.

Don’t expect the police to do for you what they’ll do for one another.

In February, 2013, a fired LAPD cop named Christopher Dorner declared war on his former colleagues.

The LAPD assigned security and surveillance details to at least 50 threatened officers and their families.  A typical detail consists of two to five or more guards.  And those guards must be changed every eight to 12 hours.

And those details stayed in place until Dorner was killed in a firefight on February 12.

Money makes the difference.

Police claim to enforce the law impartially.  But that happens only in TV crime shows.

If you’re rich, your complaint will likely get top priority and the best service the agency can provide.

But if you’re poor or even middle-class without high-level political or police connections, your case will likely go nowhere.

Don’t expect your police department to be as efficient as those in TV police dramas.

“I want this rock [Hawaii] sealed off,” Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) routinely ordered when pursuing criminals on “Hawaii Five-O.”

Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett

But in San Jose–a city close to bankruptcy–residents can’t get police to respond to break-ins because the police department is dangerously understaffed.

And in San Francisco, if you’re assaulted and can’t give police “a named suspect,” they won’t assign the case.  As far as they’re concerned, the solvability rate is too low.

Among the realities of real-life law enforcement:

  • Many police departments lack state-of-the-art crime labs to analyze evidence.
  • Files often get lost or accidentally destroyed.
  • Some officers are lazy, indifferent or incompetent.
  • Police are notoriously competitive, generally refusing to share information with other officers or other police departments–and thus making it easier for criminals to run amok.
  • Even when police ”solve” a crime, that simply means making an arrest.  The perpetrator may cop to a lesser offense and serve only a token sentence–or none at all.  Or he might be found not guilty by a judge or jury.

The result of all this is disillusionment with law enforcement from a deservedly–and increasingly–cynical public.

REAL COPS AREN’T TV COPS: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, Law Enforcement, Self-Help on October 17, 2013 at 1:50 am

On TV, if an innocent citizen is threatened by a criminal, the cops spare no expense protecting him–or her.

If s/he’s really lucky, s/he’ll get protection from no less than the Top Cop HImself–such as Steve McGarrett (on Hawaii Five-O) or Elliot Ness (on The Untouchables).

If you think that’s how real-life cops operate, you’re in for a shock.  Especially if you have to entrust your life to them.

Consider the case of a friend of mine I’ll call Bill.

Bill was shopping in a Home Depot in Daly City when his cell phone rang.  Assuming it was someone he knew, he casually answered it.

The caller proved to be someone he didn’t know.  More ominously, it was someone he wouldn’t want to know.

“You got my friend kicked out,” he said.  “And I’m going to get you.  I know who you are and where you live.”

Bill explained–truthfully–that he hadn’t gotten anyone kicked out.  For a few moments he had no idea who the caller might be talking about.

Then he remembered: About two months earlier, an aggressive psychopathic tenant had been evicted from his apartment building.  Bill hadn’t had anything to do with the eviction.

True, the property management company supervising the complex had tried to recruit him to testify in a lawsuit against the psycho-tenant.  But Bill had wanted nothing to do with the case.

There were some risks just not worth taking–especially when a man who routinely threatened others lived only two floors below.

Still, the tenant had clearly been told by someone else that Bill had played a role in his eviction.  Just days before he was to move out, he shouted at Bill: “I’m being evicted, and you’re responsible for it!”

The next day, by unfortunate coincidence, Bill again ran into the psycho-tenant, who shuted: “I’m being evicted, and I’m sure that makes you happy!”

So now, as Bill listened to the unknown caller making his threat, he felt 99% certain that even if he didn’t know the caller, he knew the man on whose behalf he was calling.

Bill stayed calm, trying to draw the caller into giving some specific information.  But the caller refused to be tempted, and Bill hung up.

Thinking it over, Bill was worried: His cell phone number was known to only a few people–and certainly not to the evicted tenant.  Someone had clearly gone to a great deal of trouble to find it.

For the moment, he took some heart in that the caller’s number showed up on his cell phone.  No doubt the police could quickly trace it, he assumed.

(He soon found out they couldn’t.  The number was to a Google phone exchange, which could be used by callers who didn’t want to reveal their actual number.)

As soon as Bill returned to San Francisco, he visited a police station and made out a report to a uniformed officer.

Later that day, he called the station to provide more information.  He was connected to an Inspector Jones (not his real name).

In the police world, an Inspector is a figure of real authority and prestige.  The word “inspector” will open doors that may well be closed to other police officers.

So Bill assumed he was dealing with the elite of the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD)

To his surprise, Jones asked if he had filed a report of the incident with the Daly City Police Department.

“No,” Bill said.  He had simply been visiting Daly City when the call came in.  No one had assaulted him in Daly City  And he believed the call had almost certainly come from San Francisco.

“Well,” said Inspector Jones, “you must file a report with the Daly City Police Department.  Otherwise, we can’t (that is, won’t) help you.”

Bill asked: ” Can I make the report over the phone?”

“No,” said Jones, “it has to be made in person.”

Bill: “I don’t have a car.  I don’t know where the Daly City Police Department is.”

“Well, we can’t help you until you do it,” said Jones.

So Bill called the Daly City Police Department.  A female officer soon came on the line.  Bill outlined the reason for his call.

“Did you file a report with the SFPD?” the officer asked.

“Yes,” said Bill.

“Then you don’t need to file one with us,” said the officer.

“Are you certain?” asked Bill.

“Yes.”

Now Bill was not so much worried as angry.  He re-dialed the SFPD–but this time, at a far higher level: The Office of the Chief of Police.

he didn’t expect to speak with the Chief himself.  But that wasn’t necessary.  It would be enough for him to reach someone who worked directly for the Chief.

Police department are quasi-military organizations.  They are rigidly hierarchial.  At a police station, a captain wields Godlike authority over everyone beneath him–detectives, sergeants, uniformed officers.

And if a captain wields Godlike authority over his subordinates, the Chief is the uniformed version of God to everyone else in the department.

STRIPPING DOWN FOR THE FBI

In Bureaucracy, Law Enforcement on September 27, 2013 at 12:00 am

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has always encouraged Americans to report anything they consider a threat to national security or a violation of Federal law.

But recently the FBI has adopted a practice that is almost certain to sharply decrease the number of people willing to report knowledge of a crime.

Earlier this year, a friend of mine named Jim visited the San Francisco field office of the FBI.  He wanted to report a violation of Federal computer fraud and harassment laws.

This meant visiting the San Francisco Federal Building (technically named the Phillip Burton Federal Building, in honor of the late San Francisco Congressman).

At 450 Golden Gate Avenue, located close to the Civic Center and City Hall, it serves as a courthouse of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

It also lhouses offices for such Federal law enforcement agencies as the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Marshal’s Service.

To enter, you must first show a driver’s license or State ID card.  Then you must remove

  • Your belt
  • Your shoes
  • Your watch
  • Your wallet
  • All other objects from your pants pockets
  • Any jacket you’re wearing
  • Any cell phone you’re carrying

All of these must be placed in one or more large plastic containers, which are run through an x-ray scanner.

Then, assuming you avoid setting off any alarm system, you’re set for your next big screen test.

This comes when you enter the 13th floor office of the FBI.

According to Jim: You walk into a large room filled with several comfortable chairs that sit close to the floor.  Ahead is a window such as you find in a bank–made of thick, presumably bulletproof glass.

A secretary on the opposite side greets you, and asks why you’ve come.

You say that you want to speak with an agent about what you believe is a violation of Federal law.

If you’ve done your homework, you should know at least the general legal area this violation falls under.  And you’re even better-off if you know what division of the FBI is assigned to handle it.

For example: Jim knew the acts he wanted to report were a violation of Federal anti-computer hacking and harassment laws.  He also knew that these violations are handled by the FBI’s Cybercrime Division.

So he asked to speak with an agent from that division.

The secretary said she would see what she could do.  But before he could speak with an agent, he would have to show her his driver’s license or State ID card.

The secretary made a xerox of this, and then handed the card back.

Then, as if that wasn’t enough, he had to fill out a single-page form, where he was required to provide his:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Social Security Number
  • The reason he wanted to speak to an agent

Of course, he could refuse to fill out the form.  But then the secretary would refuse to let him meet with an FBI agent to gain help in resolving his problem.

In Jim’s case, his request to speak with an agent specializing in Cybercrime was denied.   He would up speaking instead with the “duty agent”–whichever luckless person has been assigned to deal with the public that day.

Unofficially, the “duty agent” is the one who takes the “nut calls” from, among others, the mentally disabled who claim they’re picking up KGB transmissions in the fillings of their teeth.

In Jim’s case, the “duty agent” he drew specialized in Gang Violence.  While this is definitely a worthy subject for investigation, it had nothing to do with the matter Jim wanted to talk about.

The agent candidly said he knew nothing about cybercrime.  Which meant he couldn’t give Jim even the barest information about what he might expect to happen after submitting his report.

Fortunately, Jim had thought ahead enough to write up a detailed, three-page report of the cyber attacks he had recently experienced.  He now gave this to the agent.

The agent promised to forward it to the Cybercrime Division.

Jim asked when he might hear from someone there.  The agent said this was highly unlikely.

Jim was surprised.  The agent was in turn surprised that Jim would expect anyone to get back to him.

“I would think,” said Jim, “they would want to ask me a few questions.  And give me some idea as to what was going on in my case.”

The agent said that if the FBI wanted more information, they would contact him.  And, no, they wouldn’t give him any hints about what–if anything–was happening in his case.

That was assuming they chose to investigate it.

No one at the FBI ever contacted Jim.

So if you want to report a crime to the FBI, be prepared to give up a lot of your own privacy beforehand.

And don’t expect to receive even the courtesy of a call-back in exchange for all of it.

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