The far-right can easily be associated with Christian fundamentalism. This can be seen in many contexts, from the Ku Klux Klan to the Proud Boys and this latest example of fundraising. I say “latest” because, last year, Christians raised inordinate amounts of money for right-w9ing shooter Kyle Rittenhouse.
The Guardian reports:
A data breach from Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo has revealed that millions of dollars have been raised on the site for far-right causes and groups, many of whom are banned from raising funds on other platforms.
It also identifies previously anonymous high-dollar donors to far-right actors, some of whom enjoy positions of wealth, power or public responsibility.
Some of the biggest beneficiaries have been members of groups such as the Proud Boys, designated as a terrorist group in Canada, many of whose fundraising efforts were directly related to the 6 January attack on the United States Capitol.
The breach, shared with journalists by transparency group Distributed Denial of Secrets, shows the site was used for a wide range of legitimate charitable purposes, such as crowdfunding medical bills, aid projects and religious missions.
Across at least 11 crowdfunding campaigns associated with the Proud Boys, members of the group, including some now facing conspiracy charges related to the Capitol attack, raised over $375,000. Some of these fundraisers netted large amounts of money in a short period.
After the Proud Boys chairman, Enrique Tarrio, was arrested on 4 January on charges related to firearms and the vandalism of a black church at a previous rally, a fundraiser billed as a “defense fund” made $113,000 in just four days.
A large proportion of that money came from a number of high-dollar donors who elected to be anonymous on the website, but whose identifying details were nevertheless preserved by GiveSendGo.
The anonymous donations included $1,000 from an email address associated with Gabe Carrera, a Florida-based personal injury lawyer who bills himself as the attorney who rides. Another $1,000 which came to Tarrio was associated with an email address belonging to Paul C Gill, a Honolulu-based Hawaiian Airlines employee and former pilot who has previously made donations to Donald Trump’s campaigns and to the Republican party, and who has offered public political commentary in the form of letters to the editor in local newspapers.
Of Tarrio’s donors, none immediately responded to requests for comment except for Gerardo G Gonzalez, who anonymously donated $1,000 to Tarrio on 7 January.
Public records show that Florida-based Gonzalez is a former pharmacist who owns at least six properties in Miami Beach and Homestead, Florida. His apartments, apartment buildings and an acreage lot have an assessed value in excess of $2.4m, and in prior decades has sold other properties worth millions more.
In a telephone conversation, Gonzalez said that his support of the Proud Boys was motivated by his belief that “there is no systemic racism in this country”, and his opposition to “BLM and Antifa” who he said represented “the real extremism” in the United States. He also used derogatory terms for Latinos and Democrats.
Other Proud Boy fundraisers raised large amounts, and attracted a similar range of high-value anonymous donations.
Following the Capitol riots, a fundraiser in the name of “Medical Assistance to DC Proud Boy victims” made $106,107 on just 6 and 7 January. One anonymous donation for $5,000 was associated with an email address belonging to Ou Yin Lu, a Hacienda Heights, California, resident and businesswoman who had previously donated $14,640 to Trump’s campaign funds, the Republican National Committee and a former California state representative Bob Huff during the 2020 campaign funding cycle.
Also, after charges were laid on the Proud Boys organizer Joe Biggs for his alleged role in the Capitol attack, an anonymous donation for $1,000 came from an email address belonging to a New York woman whose social media accounts list her as a state-employed special education teacher. Overall, Biggs raised over $6,000 on the site.
So on and so forth.
Exclusive: Internal NYPD documents shed new light on the Strategic Response Group, or SRG, the heavily militarized police unit behind the crackdown on George Floyd protesters.
When thousands of New Yorkers poured into the city’s streets last summer following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, they were met with the very police violence they had come to protest.
In the days following Floyd’s death, and then again during protests last fall, New York police arrested hundreds of people, many with no probable cause. They pepper-sprayed protesters and struck them with batons, trapped them in the streets with no way out, pushed them to the ground, and shoved them with bikes. In Brooklyn, on May 30, an officer pulled down a man’s Covid-19 mask and pepper-sprayed him at close range, bragging about it to fellow officers but failing to provide the man with medical assistance, as required by police regulations. Days later, another officer in Brooklyn struck a protester in the back of his head while he was complying with orders to disperse, causing a gash that required ten staples. And in the Bronx, on June 4, police in riot gear corralled hundreds of people before an 8 p.m. curfew, then beat and arrested them under the watch of the department’s highest-ranking uniformed officer, Chief of Department Terence Monahan.
Over multiple incidents, police regularly and unjustifiably used force against peaceful protesters, with state investigators finding that they beat people with blunt instruments at least 50 times, unlawfully pepper-sprayed them in at least 30 instances, and pushed or struck protesters at least 75 times. Officers targeted and retaliated against people engaging in constitutionally protected activity, New York Attorney General Letitia James’s office concluded, and “blatantly violated the rights of New Yorkers.”
Leading the violent crackdown was the New York Police Department’s Strategic Response Group, or SRG, a heavily militarized, rapid-response unit of several hundred officers. Since its founding in 2015 to deal with public disorder events and terrorist acts, civil rights advocates have objected to the deployment of the unit to protests, and then-NYPD chief of department and later Commissioner James O’Neill pledged at the time that the SRG would “not be involved in handling protests and demonstrations.”
The pledge turned out to be hollow. That same year, the SRG was deployed against Black Lives Matter protesters. Since then, the unit’s armor-clad officers and bike squads have become a regular presence at protests, where they stand out for their confrontational and aggressive tactics. After each confrontation, complaints about the unit streamed into the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the independent body tasked with reviewing allegations of police abuse. Investigators found a disproportionate number of SRG officers accused of wrongdoing to have exceeded their legal authority, when compared with the wider department. The group earned a reputation among activists as the NYPD’s “goon squad.”
Inside the SRG
Despite its visibility, little is publicly known about the SRG and how its specialized officers are trained to respond to protests. Even the frequently cited number of 700 SRG officers is an estimate; the NYPD will not confirm the unit’s headcount.
Now a series of internal documents obtained by The Intercept shed new light on the police unit behind some of the most brutal repression of protests in the wake of George Floyd’s killing. The Intercept is publishing three of the public records with this story, including the SRG’s guidelines and manuals for its field force operations and bike squads.
The documents offer a comprehensive overview of how the SRG operates. They outline the unit’s responsibilities during routine assignments to precincts across the city, to which its officers are dispatched in response to spikes in crime and during special mobilizations, including to protests. The documents provide instructions regarding “mass arrest” procedures, guidelines for officers equipped with Colt M4 rifles, and directions for plainclothes, “counter-surveillance” officers tasked with shadowing tactical teams in the field.
Marked as “law enforcement sensitive” and bearing destruction notices, the documents also detail a variety of formations and maneuvers for bike squads and teams of officers on foot and in vehicles. Some of the maneuvers described in detail are variations of what the NYPD refers to as “encirclement,” the police’s name for what demonstrators call “kettling,” a technique civil rights advocates have long denounced as leading to police abuses.
Over the last months, a series of scathing reports by independent agencies condemned the NYPD’s response to the protests. The reports, which underscored the department’s lack of preparedness and officers’ poor training, contributed to a narrative that has become frequent in the wake of police abuses: that officers would have better handled such situations with better training — and thus more resources.“Training is the easiest thing for elected officials to call for every time there is a controversy around police violence. That has historically never worked to actually decrease police violence.”
That narrative is complicated by the internal documents reviewed by The Intercept. Many of the policies laid out in the documents were not followed last summer or during more recent police crackdowns on protests. But the documents also raise questions about the content of police training on protest response itself. While paying lip service to protesters’ constitutional rights, the documents do little to explain how those rights should be protected, offering instead page after page of instructions on how to circumvent them.
A spokesperson for the NYPD defended the SRG’s training, which he said includes a specialized SRG Academy as well as an annual, two-day course and eight monthly, two-hour unannounced drills. Members of the SRG Bicycle Squad participate in an annual two-day refresher course, he added. In August 2020 the department expanded training on the policing of protest to all members of the service.
“The NYPD protects the Constitutional right to peaceful protest, and works to ensure public safety for any New Yorker exercising their First Amendment rights,” the spokesperson, Sergeant Edward D. Riley, wrote in a statement to The Intercept. “Many different units of the NYPD respond to major events — including protests — to ensure the safety of the public at these events.”
The NYPD documents include several drawings of tactical maneuvers as well as photos taken during police training and real-life protests, including some featuring prominent activists like Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, and Jose LaSalle. Overall, the SRG materials reflect a heavy-handed approach to the policing of protest and echo the war-on-terror mentality on which the unit was premised, at one point referring to protesters as potential “hostile targets.”
Joo-Hyun Kang, director of Communities United for Police Reform, a coalition of community organizations, argued that the problem with the NYPD’s response to the protests was not so much a matter of preparedness as of culture.
“Training is the easiest thing for elected officials to call for every time there is a controversy around police violence,” she said. “That has historically never worked to actually decrease police violence, or increase the firings of officers who violate people, or increase accountability.”
The NYPD documents, which detail a clear chain of command in protest situations, also underscore how top department leadership, rather than rogue cops, bears responsibility for police actions during the protests, including the decisions to “kettle” people and resort to mass arrests. The Civilian Complaint Review Board received more than 300 allegations of police abuse in connection to the protests, and dozens of New Yorkers offered hours of harrowing public testimony about police brutality.
The incidents are now at the heart of a series of federal lawsuits against the city, including one by the New York attorney general. Nearly 450 people have also indicated their plans to sue the city individually over their treatment at the hands of police, suits that are expected to cost taxpayers millions in settlements.
The lawsuits zero in on abuses by SRG officers. In one, attorneys seeking to represent hundreds of protesters accuse the city of “deploying one particularly problematic, inadequately trained, poorly supervised and disciplined group of NYPD members: the NYPD’s Strategic Response Group.”
“SRG officers are not only inadequately trained to respond to peaceful protests,” the attorney general’s office echoed in its own complaint, “but their training in terrorism response, which necessarily requires aggressive tactics and extreme force, is almost certain to result in constitutional violations when applied to peaceful protesters.”
Critics of systemic police abuses noted that in seeking reforms to police’s protest responses, the lawsuits risk the pitfalls of previous, similar efforts that followed high-profile crackdowns on dissent and led to little substantial change.
“There’s no justice in it, there’s no real improvement,” said Alex Vitale, a sociology professor and the author of “The End of Policing,” who was involved in some of those earlier efforts. “It’s really hard to say that things really got any better as a result of that. They just work around it, or they just ignore it.”
The “Goon Squad”
The SRG was conceived by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first NYPD commissioner, Bill Bratton, as an elite unit to deal with both “counterterror” and civil disorder. Originally approved in 2015 as a 350-officer unit, the SRG included teams in each borough and incorporated the Disorder Control Unit, or DCU, which had been central to aggressive crackdowns on mass protests in the past. The DCU had been instrumental in policing large events like Occupy Wall Street and protests surrounding the 2004 Republican National Convention, which resulted in massive numbers of arrests and alleged abuses. The crackdown on the 2004 protests led to record legal settlements, which observers say could be surpassed by suits surrounding last summer’s uprising.
Within a year of its founding, a controversial push to expand the NYPD’s head count by 1,300 officers ended up doubling the size of the SRG. Its budget quickly ballooned from $13 million to nearly $90 million. Equipped with state-of-the-art anti-riot gear and heavy weaponry, as well as its signature fleet of bicycles and combat armor-clad riders, the SRG, a voluntary unit, attracted cops looking for “more action,” many with lengthy misconduct records. Since 2015, SRG officers have met peaceful protests with violence, failed to intervene as far-right activists assaulted counterprotesters, and participated in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man.“We have to understand this is part of the fabric of how the NYPD has historically treated protests and has historically treated Black, Latinx, and other communities of color.”
Despite initial reassurances to the contrary, the SRG ended up policing protests far more than it did any “counterterrorism” work — already the job of the NYPD’s Counterterrorism Bureau — but it brought its militarized mentality and tactics to the policing of civil unrest. The SRG engaged in what the unit’s guidelines refer to as “high visibility static deployment,” a show of force intended to “provide and enhance visibility at sensitive or other locations.” The unit dispatched officers donning military-style gas masks, ready for the “hazards of a weapons of mass destruction event” thanks to training in Chemical Ordinance, Biological and Radiological Awareness, or COBRA.
Organizers like Kang, of Communities United for Police Reform, opposed the formation of the SRG in its early days, not least because of the group’s conflation of protest with terrorism. That the SRG was quickly deployed to protests, despite assurances that it would not be, was to Kang emblematic of “the NYPD being able to unilaterally do whatever it wants, at any time that it wants.”Kang noted that the department faced no pushback from the administration over its broken promise and added that the City Council did not hold a hearing about the SRG until a public uproar over its role in the arrest of immigrant rights activist Ravi Ragbir by federal immigration agents in 2018.
Ultimately, Kang said, the SRG’s abuses reflected broader issues with the NYPD as a whole.
“The SRG is a symbol of the hyper-aggressive, militarized, unaccountable police violence in New York City, but that’s not exclusive to the SRG,” she said. “We have to understand this is part of the fabric of how the NYPD has historically treated protests and has historically treated Black, Latinx, and other communities of color.”
According to the NYPD documents, one of the SRG’s core missions is to “respond to citywide mobilizations, civil disorders and major events with highly trained personnel and specialized equipment to maintain public order.” The documents lay out procedures for dealing with emergencies, to which the SRG can respond by answering calls over citywide radio.
Unlike with emergency calls, the SRG often has advance notice and time to prepare for protests. As soon as a detail is approved, an SRG field intelligence officer begins compiling a package of information on the situation for distribution to the SRG executive staff and commanding officer. According to the SRG documents, the intelligence packets include information such as the group size, planned arrests, key members of the protest group, and the group’s hierarchy. Based on the intelligence, SRG executives make tactical decisions and supervisors debrief officers on the response plan, including the “past history of this event or others involving this location or organization.” Other SRG documents repeatedly refer to the unit’s reliance on intelligence and the monitoring of social media.
When the SRG arrives at a protest, it plays a supporting role in the NYPD ecosystem. SRG officers report to the local commander in charge, who has the authority to order arrests. Before such an order, according to the documents, SRG officers are instructed to follow directions and not to exercise discretion. They may make arrests unilaterally if they witness any felony or serious misdemeanor, such as vandalism, reckless endangerment, possession of a weapon, or assault. But the decision to engage in mass arrests of protesters for nonviolent behavior like unlawful assembly or “obstructing governmental administration,” the most frequent protest-related charges, rests squarely with department leadership.
As the NYPD’s premier riot breakers, SRG units come heavily equipped, ready to make a show of overwhelming force against demonstrators. When a show of force fails, the SRG has a catalog of formations designed to break up protests. According to the SRG documents, these range from the basics, such as the “Wedge Formation,” used to split a crowd in half, to the more advanced, such as the “Separation Formation,” used to get between two dueling factions of protesters and push them apart.
One of the maneuvers best known to protesters is the “Encirclement Formation,” which is used “when there is a need to take a group of people into custody,” according to the guidelines. Commonly known as “kettling,” the formation allows police to surround protesters, leaving them no means of escape. Encirclement formations can be as small as one squad of eight officers or as large an entire platoon of four squads. In either case, the move to encircle protesters indicates that the decision to arrest has already been made, the document notes, and that the targets have been chosen.On paper, the SRG’s formations may seem well organized, but in practice, their execution is violent and chaotic.
On paper, the SRG’s formations may seem well organized, but in practice, their execution is violent and chaotic. At a September demonstration in Times Square, SRG officers encircled a group of people protesting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, including several on bikes, before they had even started moving, a protester who took several videos of police that day told The Intercept.
“The moment the bikes lined up on the street, the NYPD just immediately rushed over, started grabbing people by their hair, like five or six officers per person, throwing people to the ground, arresting all the bicyclists,” he said. “The protest hadn’t even really started yet.”
The Bike Squad
The SRG takes considerable pride in its bike fleet and deploys it frequently to protests. Rather than tamping down disorder, the SRG’s interventions have sowed chaos amid largely peaceful demonstrations.
The training material repeats department lore about the founding of New York’s very first “Scorcher Squad” fleet of bicycle cops by Theodore Roosevelt when he was police commissioner in 1895. Today’s SRG bike squad is modeled after the Seattle Police Department, and some of the early SRG bicyclists received training in Washington.
The bike squad’s high maneuverability is perhaps the SRG’s most important tactical innovation and the only function of the SRG that is not redundant with previously existing NYPD units. The bike squad has the capability to speed ahead of protest marches, and the SRG documents instruct bike officers to report real-time protest intelligence back to command, such as overheard plans, identities of “aggressors” and “ringleaders,” presence of improvised weapons, and injuries. The bike units can also move ahead to flank protests, selectively blocking streets to dictate the path of an oncoming march.
NYPD training documents say that in close quarters, the bicycle represents a “force multiplier”: One cop on a bicycle can take the place of three officers with batons. In addition to bike versions of on-foot formations, the bike squad has its own moves, such as the “power slide” and the “dynamic dismount,” which consist of an officer lunging from a moving bicycle without breaking speed, taking down a suspect by surprise.
“Get bicycle up to a controlled rate of speed and aim for target. While in attack position, swing right leg over the rear of bicycle,” an SRG bike squad training module states, “After step through, place right foot on ground and dismount bicycle … make contact with subject and proceed with arrest or rescue.”
One of the unit’s highly visible tactics, the “Mobile Fence Line,” used to “gain ground and compliance,” employs SRG officers standing with their bikes across their chests, forming a line tire to tire. Shouting “MOVE BACK!,” the bicycle fence will advance aggressively over short distances. When a mobile fence line rakes across a protest area, it is because the police intend to make arrests, according to the SRG documents. One way this happens is with a maneuver called a BLAM.
In the “Bike Line Arrest Maneuver,” officers are instructed by the SRG documents to shout “BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!” as they advance. The documents outline the procedure for scooping people, right down to the “clinch” hold used to restrain them in emergency situations. “Clinch maneuver is control of subjects head by clinching your hands and arms behind the head of subject and bringing head against your chest,” the BLAM training module states, adding a warning: “DO NOT CHOKE HOLD, DO NOT BLOCK AIRWAY.”
During the June 4 incident in the Bronx, SRG officers used bicycles as weapons in what Human Rights Watch later described as a “planned assault” on protesters. In public testimony to the attorney general’s office, demonstrators described what happened when the SRG bike squad’s mobile fence line advanced: “The officer right in front of me gave a command, and they raised their bikes and rammed into me and all protesters in the front,” testified Sami Disu, an adjunct professor at John Jay College, adding that he was also pepper-sprayed during the incident.
Others described being squeezed by the advance. Another protester arrested that night, Christina Ellsberg, described how the SRG trapped a group of protesters: “They tightened their ranks and forced us together using their bikes and swinging batons until we were crushed and trampling each other,” Ellsberg said in the testimony. “At that point, panic set in. People were screaming, others struggling to breathe.”
Push for Accountability
As the SRG’s aggressive tactics against demonstrators came into stark display last summer, top city officials stood by the police. De Blasio repeatedly defended officers’ conduct, and NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said, hours after police kettled and arrested dozens of protesters in the Bronx incident, that the action had been “a plan which was executed nearly flawlessly.”
Virtually everyone else condemned the police’s handling of the protests, with civil rights groups like the New York Civil Liberties Union and the public defenders of the Legal Aid Society denouncing police’s “indiscriminate brutalizing of peaceful protestors” throughout the demonstrations.
In their joint lawsuit, NYCLU and Legal Aid are seeking damages for a dozen people who were beaten, pepper-sprayed, shoved to the ground, and arrested during several incidents last summer. The lawyers also want the police to declare that police violated the First and Fourth amendments.
In another class-action lawsuit, attorneys are seeking damages on behalf of a potentially enormous group of plaintiffs, including “all people arrested between May 28 and June 6, as well as all people who have been or will be subjected to the NYPD’s practices of violently disrupting protests.”
And in its own lawsuit, the New York State Office of the Attorney General has called on the courts to install an independent federal monitor to oversee the NYPD’s policing tactics at future protests as well as a declaration that the tactics deployed last summer were unlawful. (A federal judge has temporarily combined these lawsuits.)
As his record on policing came under scrutiny during the protests more than at any time in his troubled tenure, de Blasio, in his last year in office, once again pledged reforms. “I’m reflecting on what happened in May and June, and I look back with remorse,” the mayor said last December.“The SRG should be disbanded, yes. But that in itself won’t solve all the problems of what the SRG actually symbolizes.”
He and Shea pledged to accept the recommendations of the city’s Department of Investigation, which called for the NYPD to create a new protest response unit that does not report to the SRG and to “reevaluate the central role of the Strategic Response Group and Disorder Control Unit in response to large protests given their orientation to handle counterterrorism, riots, and other serious threats, and better calibrate their use to circumstances that require such specialized force.”
Others, like New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, have gone further. In a set of recommendations, Stringer, who is running for mayor, called for tactical police teams and heavily armed officers to be removed from protests altogether, replaced by a mostly civilian force tasked with managing the movement of people during large demonstrations. “The SRG Disorder Control Unit should be disbanded,” Stringer wrote.
Yet disbanding the SRG won’t do much if its role and tactics end up repurposed under a new unit, critics warn, citing the SRG’s roots in the DCU and the NYPD’s long history of shutting down controversial units only to resurface them with rebranded names. Because the department operates with virtually no transparency, the public and even elected officials sometimes don’t learn of internal changes or the shuffling of units and officers until months after these changes happened, said Kang.
“The SRG should be disbanded, yes,” she added. “But that in itself won’t solve all the problems of what the SRG actually symbolizes: the hyper-militarization, the hyper-aggressive policing tactics. That’s not an SRG problem only, that’s an NYPD problem.”
The police are not the military and shouldn’t be used, armed, nor trained like it. Police are not an occupying force to put down and keep under control the population. This is problem with hyper militant super aggressive cops is not just an issue for NY but one that is nation wide. Hugs
Hello everyone. Sundays are the worst days for political cartoons. I have 115 bookmarked web sites I check for cartoons and today was very slim picking. Most all the political ones were posted already this week. So I filled in with other cartoons. Be well and I hope you have a great wonderful enjoyable day. Hugs
On the April 8 broadcast of Fox News Primetime, Tucker Carlson offered perhaps his most explicit justification yet for the core belief of the so-called “great replacement” conspiracy theory, telling viewers that “Third World” invaders are coming to replace them and reshape their environment, and that they should do something about it.
White supremacist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes explained what Carlson actually meant in his statements, lamenting that Carlson wasn’t more direct and theorizing that he probably had to dial it back in order to avoid consequences at Fox.
Other racist and extreme far-right media personalities and social media accounts also backed Carlson, celebrating him for broadcasting “what nationalists have been talking about for decades” and defending him against criticism.
Various Telegram accounts associated with white supremacists movements and the far-right
Can there be any doubt now about what Fox News, and the right want? The right wing media has been pushing this agenda for decades. Before that we had other means they distributed it with just printed paper. I remember a guy I knew who lived near us in WPB who would leave a print out his friends printed on our doorstep. It was full of the local news and especially the police blotter with the most hateful incorrect descriptions and venomous langage. The most racist garbage you could imagine. Once we found out who was doing it we put a stop to it. But this guy was a world traveler, had money, was at one time someone in the entertainment industry and well known to the wealthy social community. And his views were repugnant. He once went off on a black mail delivery person because he accused her of stepping off the sidewalk to his house onto his lawn before delivering his mail. Hearing the yelling I went out and got involved, to back her up if anything came of it. Afterwards he wanted to have words with me, that ended quickly and decisively as you may imagine. He never spoke to Ron and I again as long as we lived there and we did not mind at all. Hugs
When Lt. Caron Nazario said he was afraid to get out of the vehicle, one officer responded, “Yeah, you should be.”https://video-images.vice.com/articles/607067beffb4d20095425bf8/lede/1617985811128-screen-shot-2021-04-09-at-114919-am.png?crop=1xw:0.9257142857142857xh;center,center&resize=1000:*SCREEN CAPTURE OF WINDSOR POLICE DEPARTMENT BODY CAMERA FOOTAGE FROM THE DEC. 5, 2020 INCIDENT.
Caron Nazario was driving his newly-purchased Chevy Tahoe home when two police officers pulled him over in Windsor, Virginia, whipped out their guns, and started barking orders.
With their weapons raised, the officers demanded that Nazario, a Black and Latino man, get out of the SUV. Nazario looked in the mirror and saw he was being held at gunpoint, then placed his cellphone on his dashboard to film the December 5 encounter. He repeatedly asked to know what was going on. At one point, he even admitted to being afraid to leave the vehicle.
“Yeah, you should be,” one of the officers responded.
Nazario, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, was coming home from work and in full uniform at the time.
“I’m serving this country, and this is how I’m treated?” Nazario told the officers, according to his cellphone video.
By the end of the incident, the cops would threaten Nazario, pepper-spray him in the face, and knee-strike him in the legs, according to body camera footage, Nazario’s cellphone video, and legal filings. Later, when Nazario was in tears and on the ground of a gas station parking lot as officers put him in handcuffs, he repeated, “This is fucked up, this is fucked up.”
The officers allegedly told Nazario if he were to complain, they’d charge him with crimes like obstruction, eluding, and assault on a law enforcement officer—potentially destroying his military career.
But now Nazario has a lawyer. And he sued the two Windsor police officers, Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker, on April 2, alleging violations of his constitutional rights under the Fourth and First Amendments.
“He’s a sworn member of the United States Army. He swears an oath to support to defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic—and the way these officers behaved, this implicates the oath that he takes,” said Jonathan Arthur, an attorney for Nazario.
Arthur said Nazario thinks he was racially profiled. His hope with the lawsuit is to hold the officers accountable and send a message to other law enforcement officers “that this type of behavior will not be tolerated,” Arthur said.
The Windsor Police Department and Gutierrez did not immediately respond to VICE News’ requests for comment. Contact information for Crocker wasn’t immediately available.
The incident ostensibly began after an officer believed Nazario was driving on U.S. Route 460 without a rear license plate, according to the lawsuit. While the SUV was new to Nazario, meaning he hadn’t gotten permanent plates yet, he still had a temporary plate taped to the inside of his rear window, the lawsuit notes. The temporary tags are visible in the body camera footage.
Nazario slowed down his vehicle within seconds of the police pursuing him and activated his turn signal. Because it was dark, Nazario also drove for less than a mile—below the posted speed limit—until he reached a well-lit BP gas station, where he pulled over. In all, it took about 1 minute, 40 seconds for Nazario to pull over after Crocker initiated the stop, according to the lawsuit.
Still, the cops claimed in a report Nazario was “eluding police,” had a dark window tint, and lacked plates, so officers treated the incident as a “felony traffic stop,” or a traffic stop they believed to be risky. One of the officers admitted later that they knew why Nazario had pulled into the BP—it happened all the time, and was a maneuver often used by people of color, according to the lawsuit.
Once he was in the BP parking lot, Nazario was ordered to put his hands out of his car window and turn the vehicle off, according to body camera footage. He was also ordered to get out of the vehicle multiple times by both officers as he asked, “What’s going on?”
The officers were not “willing or able to articulate why they had initiated the traffic stop,” according to the lawsuit. Gutierrez told Nazario, who did not immediately get out of the car despite repeated orders to do so, that he was “fixin’ to ride the lightning,” according to body camera footage.
“This is a colloquial expression for an execution, originating from glib reference to execution by the electric chair,” the lawsuit alleges.
Gutierrez attempted to remove Nazario from the car with an “arm-bar,” but failed, according to the lawsuit. The officer pepper-sprayed Nazario in the face and continued to order him out of the SUV, body camera footage shows. The pepper spray caused Nazario’s dog, which was in a crate in the back of the vehicle, to start choking, according to the lawsuit.
After Nazario got out of the vehicle, he was allegedly hit with “knee-strikes” to the legs. Officers continued to strike him after he was on the ground and in tears, according to the lawsuit.
Once Nazario was in handcuffs, the officers pulled him up and began to interrogate him. Medics also responded to provide assistance to Nazario, who said his eyes were burning.
Meanwhile, Crocker searched Nazario’s SUV “without permission or authority” to locate a firearm that Nazario said he had, according to the lawsuit. Crocker “radioed the serial number back to dispatch to see if the firearm was stolen.”
While interrogating Nazario, Gutierrez said the problem was that Nazario hadn’t exited the vehicle, according to the lawsuit.
Nazario was told that he could leave without charges if he would “chill and let this go,” according to the lawsuit—or, he could be charged, have to go to court, and face the consequences in his military career.
The body camera footage adds to the many documented, aggressive police traffic stops of non-white people that have drawn attention in recent years.
“I made the decision to release him without charges,” an incident report narrative from Gutierrez, submitted in the lawsuit as an exhibit, reads. “The reason for this decision is simple; the military is the only place left where double jeopardy applies. Meaning that regardless of what happened in civilian court the military could still take punitive actions against him.”
“Being a military veteran,” Gutierrez’s report continued, “I did not want to see his career ruined over one erroneous decision.”
I am amazed at the amount of right wing cartoonist / media that seem to deliberately misconstrue and distort what Biden is trying to do, the legislation to make things better in the US, and to bring the US in to the 21st century to compete with other advanced nations. All because of the idea that the government should serve the wants of the wealthy upper class which the elected officials are members of, but never work for or help the lower incomes average people of the country. This is all so the wealthy can increase their wealth more, the poor will get more in a desperate situation. The want to create a third world banana republic where they control everything, have everything, and the people are just their servants to use and dispose of when they are no more use. But it is the disinformation, the lies they spew and draw that makes me wonder their motives. Hugs
As for the situation on the border, so many attempts by the right to make this a new problem. They seem to forget this surge happens every two years about. Remember these people have to travel by foot and other lower income slow means. Remember most are running for their lives and safety, not just to work for a better living, and yes the ones that want to work for a better living are important also. Biden has not changed the rules, even though he has tried. He is still operating under the rules tRump put in place because tRump made it really hard to change his asinine polices and the Republican Ag’s like Paxton of Texas who is indicted for his own crimes have vowed to sue everything Biden tries to do on the border to make things better. Yes the Republican do not want things better, because they would rather have an issue they can bash the Democrats with than help the people living in those horrible conditions. Biden is trying to make things better by opening up better and larger facilities. Biden is still using the send everyone back because of Covid policy that tRump people implemented. The US is by law and treaty required to admit and process the people asking for asylum, and so Biden has asked for more resources to process them rather than jail them. Why put able body people who are willing and want to work in jail to wait for several years to get a hearing. We need more judges and staff to process the people which could cut the time down to a reasonable few months. Also the huge issue is the housing of minors. They are coming, they are here, and they need to be treated as the children they are. Children! So they can not be dropped off at a bus station in Mexico nor in the US as tRump was doing with adults. The ICE detention centers are not designed or big enough to hold them and ICE shouldn’t be holding kids. So Biden has asked Fema to step in and help provide housing and structure for these kids.
I nearly choked on my morning coffee when I read the stories of the Republicans so righteously complaining that Biden was giving housing to “them illegals foreigner while letting our valiant warriors struggle to live while homeless”. Oh woe the military members who struggle to live in dignity under Biden, who has been president for a few months. Meanwhile the Republicans had the White House for the last four years, the Senate for the last four years, and the House for two. What did they do for the veterans? Nothing! They slashed the VA budgets while spending lavishly on new defense programs for weapons and wars. In fact the Covid America Rescue Plan that Biden put forward and the Democrats passed had money to help homeless veterans among other funds for helping veterans and the homeless both. The Democrats did this! Not one Republican voted for it! Not one Republican voted to give money to help homeless veterans get help. So Republicans can shut up until they put up. This is the New Republican way, vote against anything that helps people but take credit for it if people like it, or rail against the problem that they refused to help fix.
These angered me because it is an attempt by Republicans to hide their bigotry while claiming that the legislation would increase something that is not happening now. The big lie is that that election fraud in an amount to change elections has happened. It never has in my life time and I am an old @#@#@. tRump did not lose because there was that much election fraud, He lost because 8 million more people voted for Biden. That is why the Republicans do not want “those” people to vote, they did not vote for their guy. The minor fraud that was found in every investigation was done by Republicans for tRump! The reason is Democrats value democracy and the idea of the right to vote. We want everyone who is eligible to vote. We would like to stop restricting other wise eligible from voting. One person one vote. The reason is that Democrats are willing to appeal to the people and work to get their votes. Republicans do not care for democracy. They want power because power increases their wealth. Because they wont appeal to the people nor work to win their votes, they have decided they don’t want people to vote. They want to rule, they want to force people to live as they say rather than do what the people ask.
This again is pure misdirection and misinformation. The public supports people needing verification to vote. So do Democrats. However Republicans have written laws that require identification that people who normally vote Democratic are less likely to have. Why is a college ID not a valid ID but an NRA card is? People who live in cities tend to vote more Democratic, and people who live in big cites tend not to drive their own cars, so they do not have drivers licenses. In some states older people have trouble getting a drivers license or state ID. If they live in the country they have to travel a distance when they do not drive to a place to get a card, and then they have to produce identification that they may not be able to get. What this is designed to do is to add more steps to vote, to use the right to vote. These are people who all their lives have voted before these new laws to stop them, they are citizens, they have a legal right to vote that the Republicans are trying to take a way. If the Republicans want people to have a set ID for voting they need to make that ID easily available and at no cost. Help the people get the ID’s the Republicans want people to use for their right to vote. Restrictions to rights should happen rarely and for real problems. Republicans losing elections is not a real problem. These laws restricting voting, making voting harder is a bigoted attempt to find a problem to hang their racism on. If you think this is not racism why is the restrictions always aimed at making it harder for POC and other minorities like Native Indians to vote, but makes it easier for older white people to vote? Yes it is racism.
The idea that raising the tax rate is going to tank the economy and cause corporations to flee the country is a joke. It is not true and wont happen. This is brought to you by the same people that have for 40 years told you that if you keep giving more and more money to the wealthy the economy will soar as that wealth trickles down to you. The wealth never reaches you at the bottom does it? It was a lie designed to make the wealthy richer and you poorer. So stop believing those same Republicans now. The fact is the country and the economy has historically done much better when the wealthy and corporations paid a lot more. It makes sense. The wealthy and the corporations can afford to pay more, the burden doesn’t harm them. However when the burden was shifted to the lower incomes and poor they suffer hardships as they do not have the resources to pay for everything. That gives Republicans the joy of calling for even more cuts to services that help the lower incomes, while again claiming they need to give more money the wealthy to fix a problem created by doing just that. Also look around the world. Every country that taxes the wealthy and corporations have more services for the people, have higher ratings, and still have wealthy and corporations that did not flee. Don’t buy into the fearmongering, but instead look around, open your eyes to what is happening around the world. The US is falling farther behind in almost every measure now. We are far from #1 in anything but military spending. Other countries are putting money into schools for their people, into medical care for their people, into infrastructure for the people, reusable energy, electric cars and charging stations among many improvements. China is accelerating research in to reusable energy to corner the market. The US use to be the world leader, but that was when businesses and the wealthy paid their share of the burden instead of demanding all the money of the country be in their pockets. Also the same people that loved no bid give away contracts worth millions and billions during the tRump years suddenly have a problem with well targeted spending plans and want to pretend that spending on things that help the people and make life better for the average person is feeding the swamp. Get real. There is no comparison between what tRump / Republicans did and what the Biden team is doing now.
Really, less regulation on the food we eat? Look the facts are that some country wont even let US dairy and meat products be sold in their countries because the US standards are so poor. There is things in our food that turn my stomach if I think too hard on it. It doesn’t have to be a game of truth or dare to eat. Our food and water needs to be safe to eat and drink. But years of lower standards have made food, especially lower priced foods a gamble. Do you want your meals with your family to be spent wondering if you or your loved ones will get sick from eating? The Republicans want you to picture a loving caring big business that always does the right thing. The truth is most business do what ever they can get away with to make money. In fact officers of a publicly traded company have a federal duty to shareholders to make as much money as possible even if it does harm or hurts people. Money is king by law. So the laws, rules, and regulations have to be created to keep the money grab from being deadly or harmful to everyone. Again it is normal in a developed nation to have rules and regulations, laws restraining the worst impulses of greed. Is the US a developed advanced nation or a banana republic?
This one is 50/50. I included it to show how each side can use the information to their advantage. The money grubbing cooperate Republican DeSantis is well know for playing to the wealthy for money. The money flows large in Palm Beach County for politicians. DeSantis we to meet with some local government leaders, that is true. However he met only with like minded Republican ones. He left out the majority of the elected officials. The ones he talked to were like himself and of course wanted to send as much business as possible to a private business rather than government workers. There is money to be made dishing out vaccines. So Publix got the deal and Desantis and possibly other local politicians got some also. However many board members who were asked by 60 Minutes denied that they talked to DeSantis or would have wanted Publix to get the vaccine contract.
Facts are important and I recommend people educate them selves on these and other issues instead of following a opinion host who makes millions spouting misinformation or is paid to cause confusion and rage by claiming wrongs where no exist. Hugs