Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Fiery object" thrown into courthouse -- Vallejo, CA

A three-alarm blaze destroyed thousands of criminal files early Wednesday morning after someone threw a fiery object through a records room window at the Solano County Courthouse in Vallejo.

The fire forced the courthouse to close for at least a day.

The blaze began in the same area that friends of a drug crime suspect bombed in 1997 to thwart his prosecution, said Vallejo fire Chief Doug Robertson.

A smoke detector signaled the fire department at 4:04 a.m. and the first units arrived four minutes later, Robertson said. A patrolling police officer also reported the fire, officials said. The blaze was contained in 45 minutes and extinguished 45 minutes after that, he said.

Damaged or destroyed were the office of criminal investigation and incoming criminal files, said Solano County sheriff's spokesman Gary Faulkner. It was not immediately known if copies of destroyed documents existed.

Fire investigator Bill Tweedy told reporters during a midmorning news conference, "The building was locked, the fire was started from the outside" when an object was thrown through the window.

"After another four or five minutes, at the rate it was burning, it could have been a devastating fire for the county," Tweedy said.

No one was injured.

Robertson said fire and water damage was confined mostly to a small portion of the 5,000-square-foot records room that lacked a sprinkler system. He said other parts of the building hadsprinklers, but not the records room because it was not required at the time it was built.

Faulkner said about 60 full-time employees including judges work in the building and about 140 prospective jurors had been expected to report for duty.

Those with business at the courthouse were asked to call 707-207-7475 for instructions.

Vallejo attorney Parker Taft, showed up and was told on the courthouse steps that closing arguments in a civil trial in which he was involved would be delayed.

The fire began in the same area where friends of Kevin Lee Robinson, 30, set off a bomb in January 1997, presumably to destroy evidence against him. He was convicted, however, and in February 1998 he received a 110-year prison term.

That courthouse explosion blew out nearly two dozen windows, destroyed part of a wall and damaged several businesses.

"Barefoot bandit" strikes again -- Madison County, NE

Colton Harris-Moore is now officially a wanted man in Nebraska.

An arrest warrant released Tuesday from Madison County, Nebraska for Harris-Moore now details several break-ins, stolen cars and attempted airplane thefts that officials believe are possibly connected to the infamous "Barefoot Bandit."

Authorities believe the 19-year-old has been responsible for stealing as much as $1.5 million in property. He's been on the run since he escaped from a Renton group home in April 2008.

He apparently began his trek out of the Northwest earlier in the spring, donating $100 to a Raymond animal hospital and stealing a $450,000 yacht from Ilwaco to get across the Columbia River. The yacht was recovered in Warrenton, Ore., where police Tuesday positively identified him as the suspected thief.

Harris-Moore then allegedly stole more cars as he made his way toward Idaho.

A few days after Harris-Moore's trail went cold in Boise, on June 12, authorities in South Dakota noticed a vehicle with Washington plates had been abandoned in Spearfish. But now the trail leads further across the Midwest and into Illinois.

Detectives in Madison County have detailed a chain of events they believe are all connected to Harris-Moore:

* A car stolen from Spearfish, S.D. was recovered in Yankton, S.D.

* Also in Yankton, on June 18 at 3 a.m., a homeowner called police to report he found a naked man inside home. The homeowner tried to catch the man, but the intruder pointed a laser sight at the homeowner and told him to leave. The homeowner told detectives he feared it was attached to a gun and left. He called police, but the intruder fled before officers arrived. Officers canvassed the area and found there had been attempted break-ins at 12 other nearby homes. Detectives also noted a minivan had been stolen.

* The next night, someone tried to pry the doors open at the airport in Norfolk, Neb. Detectives found that someone had tried to use a broom handle to force open a cockpit window in an attempt to unlock a plane, but was not successful. Later, police recovered the stolen minivan from Yankton in a nearby park and discovered a Cadillac Escalade had been stolen from the airport.

* The stolen Escalade was recovered in Pella, Iowa, where another car was stolen. That vehicle was found dumped at the airport in Ottumwa, Iowa. Police there reported that someone had attempted to break into a plane, but was not successful there either.

* Detectives say yet another car was stolen from near the airport, and a few miles south of the airport, a Frito-Lay truck was burglarized and several bags of snack food were stolen.

* That stolen vehicle from Ottumwa was found in a ditch in Dallas City, Ill., but the trail has gone cold from there.

Norfolk detectives say they obtained surveillance video from the break-in at their airport and sent it to the Seattle office of the FBI and the Island County Sheriff's Department, whose detectives are familiar with Harris-Moore from his suspected capers through the years. Det. Sgt. Beech with Island County said he and his staff were "85-90% sure" the person shown in the surveillance video is Harris-Moore.

Investigators are also collecting DNA samples and fingerprints from the various break-ins in an effort to conclusively tie the break-ins to Harris-Moore. In the meantime, Harris-Moore is now a wanted man in Madison County for investigation of burglary and theft.

Hackers steal large sum from escrow company -- Pasadena, CA

A total of $465,000 was recently stolen from California-based Village View Escrow via 26 consecutive wire transfers.

"Owner Michelle Marisco said her financial institution at the time -- Professional Business Bank of Pasadena, Calif. -- normally notified her by e-mail each time a new wire was sent out of the company’s escrow account," writes Krebs on Security's Brian Krebs. "But the attackers apparently disabled that feature before initiating the fraudulent wires."

"Marisco said that a few days before the theft, she opened an e-mail informing her that a UPS package she had been sent was lost, and urging her to open the attached invoice," Krebs writes. "Nothing happened when she opened the attached file, so she forwarded it on to her assistant who also tried to view it. The invoice was in fact a Trojan horse program that let the thieves break in and set up shop and plant a password-stealing virus on Marisco’s computer, and on the PC belonging to her assistant -- the second person needed to approve transfers."

Fire to the malls -- Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix police are looking for the person who intentionally set a fire last Friday morning inside the J.C. Penney store in Christown Spectrum Mall.

The fire started inside a fitting room.

Clothes quickly spread the fire and flames shot 15 feet high. The store filled with thick smoke. The entire mall had to be evacuated while firefighters worked to put out the fire.

Phoenix Investigators said they are looking for a person of interest who was caught on surveillance video.

The man is 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet all, 250 to 270 pounds and Hispanic or Native American with a goatee. He also was wearing a thick pony tail that was possibly wound in a tight ball on the back of his head.

There were no injuries and mall patrons and employees safely evacuated.

Riots predicted if Oscar Grant trial is a not-guilty -- Oakland, CA

An e-mail from a cop predicts massive riots if the BART officer on trial for murdering Oscar Grant is found innocent. The e-mail indicates that there will be a short amount of time for police to prepare for riots if the officer is acquitted, but does not go into detail. The most interesting part of the article:

"Oakland PD is expecting riots (to the degree of the LA/Rodney King riots) if/when a not-guilty verdict is read. This is not an exaggeration. Every law enforcement agency in the area is preparing for large scale crowd control and vandalism. We will only be given a two-hour heads-up before the verdict is public. Intel has been gathered indicating a "professional" protest group, called the Black Bloc, is planning to organize in the area. The Black Bloc is an anarchy group or style which frequently uses Molotov cocktails and arson during demonstrations. They wear ski masks, gas masks, helmets and body armor and attack police."

Early morning bank robbery -- Prince George, MD

Prince George’s County Police have released surveillance photos in hopes of identifying a bank robbery suspect.

The suspect has a distinctive feature: A piercing above the left side of her top lip, according to police.

Police described her as a black female, about 5-foot, 6-inches tall and weighing about 160 pounds. She was last seen wearing a black short-sleeve shirt, blue jeans, black flip-flops and sunglasses -- and armed with a black-handled handgun, according to police.

Shortly after 11 a.m. Friday, the suspect walked into the M&T Bank in the 6200 block of Oxon Hill Road posing as a customer, according to police. Once inside, she suspect passed a note demanding money, which she received. She fled on foot.

Another attack on police building -- Hemet, CA

A pre-dawn fire that set off ammunition at a police evidence building was likely linked to six booby trap attacks on law enforcement officials in this small Southern California town, authorities said Monday.

No injuries were reported in the fire inside the unmarked building. Arriving firefighters also had to deal with heavy smoke and security locks.

The fire was doused in less than 30 minutes.

"This makes us think whoever's behind this is letting us know they're still out there," police Lt. Duane Wisehart said. "It just doesn't end. We're doing everything we can."

Detectives were trying to determine how much of the burned evidence was involved in cases awaiting trial.

Police Chief Richard Dana said none of the evidence came from the previous attacks on police in Hemet, located about 90 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

Investigators were proceeding on the assumption the fire was the seventh attack in the past six months targeting police and city property.

Police have not identified any suspects in the attacks.

On Dec. 31, a natural gas pipe was rerouted into the headquarters of an anti-gang unit. The building filled with flammable vapor, but an officer smelled the danger and the building emptied before anyone was hurt.

In another attack, a ballistic device strapped to a fence at a gang task force compound sent a bullet within inches of an officer's face.

There also have been several other suspicious fires, including one at a police rifle range and another in March that burned four city trucks in a parking lot several blocks from the Police Department.

No one has been injured.

Duo escape from jail -- Brownfield, TX

Authorities are searching for two inmates who escaped from the Terry County Jail early this morning.

The Terry County Sheriff's Office reported David Lee Rodriguez, 35, and Cornelio Zepeda Delgado, 23, escaped from the jail between 1-3 a.m. today using the ventilation system.

Rodriguez is described by the sheriff's office as a Hispanic man, 4-foot-4 and 140 pounds with a shaved head and brown eyes.

Delgado can be recognized as a Hispanic man, 5-foot-11 and 143 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.

Rodriguez had been put in jail for attempted murder and assault while Delgado was jailed on misdemeanor theft charges.

Flames for Board of Education and other state buildings -- Cambridge, MD

Authorities say arson is to blame for an early Tuesday morning fire that caused thousands of dollars in damage to buildings belonging to the Dorchester County Board of Education.

The Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office says the blaze broke out at around 2:31 a.m. in a 12-foot by 20-foot wood frame shed located on 2465 Cambridge Bypass in Cambridge. The shed, which belongs to the Dorchester County Board of Education, sustained about $3,000 in damage. The shed fire spread to four nearby vehicles, as well as the Dorchester Career and Technology Center. Those fires caused an additional $60,000 in damages. There were no reported injuries.

It took 30 firefighters from the Rescue, Church Creek and Linkwood fire companies approximately 20 minutes to get the blaze under control.

Apple store smash n' grab -- Gilbert, AZ

Two young men smashed through the plate-glass door of an Apple Store on Tuesday and took nearly $10,000 in merchandise, police said.

Apple Stores experienced heavy traffic during the weekend, and the company said Monday it sold more than 1.7 million units of its new iPhone in the first three days, making it the most successful product launch in their history. The new iPad is also a hot ticket item for hi-tech lovers.

The men used large rocks to smash through the glass door of the SanTan Village shopping center on Williams Road about 3 a.m., police said, causing $30,000 in damage.

The break-in, which triggered the alarm system, was caught on surveillance video. Police are investigating.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Queer dance party gets a bit rowdy -- Seattle, WA

To make Pride weekend in Seattle a little more exciting, a dance party consisting of about 250 people took to the streets and threw road blockades in the way of police, attacked a Bank of America, slashed some tires, and evaded arrest. Here is one first-hand account:

"This is a personal account of my experience at the Queers Fucking Queers dance party that took place the morning of June 27th, at 12:00am. This is being stated only with the intention of making clear the use of the term ‘I’ throughout the article rather than the collective ‘we’ and is not meant to distance the article from other members of the Arctic Circle Collective.

'So, umm, do you guys know about some queer dance party?' was overheard while I stood with friends at Madison & Union. 50 or so people crowded the sidewalk here outside The Pony bar on Capitol Hill, a neighborhood of Seattle that was host to a great number of corporate-sponsored Pride events, all of them taking place in bars and clubs and, therefore, exclusionary towards queer youth and those who choose not to drink. This was the meet-up spot for the Queers Fucking Queers dance party, for which flyers had been seen posted up around Capitol Hill over the past couple of days.

'Where is the music?' I asked one of my comrades at 12:02am, two minutes after the dance party was supposed to have begun. No sooner had I asked than I began to hear a heavy bass beat coming from beyond the other side of the crowd. I stood on my toes to see over the tops of heads and saw 15 or so people in beautiful, sparkling masks appear from around the corner, pulling a stereo system rigged to a bike trailer. Upon turning toward the music and the small group in masks, the crowd on the sidewalk began to cheer and clap and within just a few moments close to 100 bodies spilled onto Madison, including my own, and we all began to dance like we just don’t give a fuck.

It was in this moment that we collectively shattered the illusion of the commodity, in which our feelings and emotions surrounding our everyday lives are inevitably devoured by the spectacle, digested and broken down and separated from any true worth, and eventually shit out as things ready to be sold back to us. Those that stand to profit by maintaining the spectacle would have us believe that queer pride exists within rainbow flags, or within queer bars and clubs, all available for purchase at the right price.

In this moment, however, and the following hour, we were able to prove to ourselves, our lovers, and our friends that queer pride, much like courage, is a constant that freely exists within each of us, available at any moment to be seized by anyone who wishes to do so. And seize it we did.

After about 10 minutes of dancing the cops inevitably appeared behind the crowd. Although I had earlier this day received a text message saying 'dance till the cops show up,' it was apparent that no one was willing to give up the streets so easily. Rather, we danced harder. The flashing lights of the cop cars seemed to strobe in time with the thumping bass, which in turn seemed to be in sync with our fiercely beating hearts.

Queers of all ages and identities that refused to find space for themselves in corporate pride liberated this space without any organizers or leaders, in which, for an hour or so, we were able to allow our bodies to move and act freely, with intention, and autonomously, with collective strength. The despair and alienation we feel every single fucking day under a capitalist, hetero-normative system manifested itself in queer youth dancing on top of Mercedes’ and BMW’s they knew they would never be able to afford while others slashed the tires, and a Bank of America window was splintered into a thousand little shards. As if to say to the pigs watching from their inside their cars: we’re not gay as in happy, we’re queer as in fuck you.

The cops attempted to force people to the sidewalk with their cars but we simply walked around them and kept to the streets. A few cops got out of their cars and watched us dance past. Perhaps amazed that no one seemed afraid of them, that no one gave a fuck that they were there. Or perhaps slowly coming to realize how fucking boring and meaningless their jobs and lives are, standing on the edge between becoming a sane human being again and joining us, or getting back in their cars and continuing their lives as regulated by the spectacle. Eventually they chose their cars.

At one point I was dancing near the front of the crowd and noticed that I no longer saw the flashing red and white lights of the cop cars. I moved to the sidewalk and stood on my toes to see over the crowd. The cops were gone! The Seattle police had given up on trying to corral us!

We passed beer gardens in which people watched us from behind chain link fences, and clubs that had long lines of people standing outside, waiting for their turn to pay whatever exorbitant cover charge in order that they, too, be allowed to enter the beer gardens, which seemed to look a lot like cages. Always urging those we saw on the sidewalks to give up their roles as spectators and to become participants in this fleeting moment of autonomy, our numbers swelled to close to 300.

I was witness to two young people that had walked with me to the meet-up spot dancing in each others arms, perhaps feeling empowered for the first time ever in a space that was free from the laws and power of the state, a space in which they really were taking back their lives. At one point I overheard two female-bodied people that had joined us from the sidewalk shout to each other, 'We should be doing this every night. This is fucking queer pride!'

Indeed, we should be doing this every night. We should be making it clear every day to those in power that we’re queer, we’re here, and yes, if you want to fuck with us we will fuck you up. We refuse to fit inside of gender norms, corporate-sponsored events and hetero and cissexist culture. We now know what it feels like to seize control of our lives back from the state, and to seize the streets back from the cops. We know what it feels like and now we won’t ever stop. We can’t ever stop. It feels way too fucking good."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Another wonderful attack in the Rose City -- Portland, OR

Police Union HQ smashed up again. If it ain't broken, don't fix it? Or perhaps if it ain't broken, break it?

The communique:

"PPA office smashed up the night of June 23rd. Fuck them, from defending murderers, to demanding hidden contract meetings, they deserve worse!
Dear Portland Police Aliance,

Your office was smashed last night because it fills us with rage that the police exist. You have always worked tirelessly in the interest of white supremacy and the rich at the expense of everyone else.

Now, without even the flimsiest of punative measures for cops who kill, beat, taze, and terrorize the marginalized people of portland, just to spit in the eye of this city you demand closed negotiations for your next contract.

We're letting you know that when you hold negotiations in seclusion we will try to open them any way we can (for now with rocks through windows).

We think that you, the PPA, should dissolve yourself, but in leiu of that elect a glazier in your upcoming union presidential election, as trend seems to indicate that you will be having a lot of open air meetings in the future.

Rocking the vote,
Scott Westerman"

Anarchists attack Portland Business Alliance -- Portland, OR

The short, but sweet, communique:

"In retaliation to the recent passage of the second sit-lie ordinance, as well as the continued police violence carried-out against marginalized communities here in Portland: during the June 19th police abolition march, an autonomous group of anarchists smashed-up the offices of the Portland Business Alliance located off 200 Southwest Market Street."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Several cars set on fire -- Santa Cruz, CA

An arsonist or arsonists set five cars ablaze early Sunday in a potentially dangerous crime with no clear motive.

Investigators are probing whether the rash of Eastside arsons is connected to recent suspicious car fires on the Westside and in Aptos.

Sunday's fires, reported between 2:50 and 3:30 a.m., destroyed BMW, Jaguar and Acura sedans, a Honda Passport and a Toyota pickup, police said. The vehicles were parked on Market Street, Grunewald Court, Branciforte Drive and Grant Street.

On Branciforte Drive, flames from the Acura leapt into a tree feet away from a propane tank. And on Market Street, a fire in the Passport came within about 9 feet of the home, police said.

"This is an unusual act of vandalism," Capt. Steve Clark said. "And it's very frightening to have someone light your car on fire in front of your house. Not only is there the costly damage to the car, but the potential for residual damage and injury."

The cars seem to have been targeted at random, Clark said.

"It appears to be a crime of opportunity," he said.

Police believe the arsonist or arsonists entered the cars, poured an unknown accelerant inside and set them on fire, he said.

Investigators hope to uncover a lead from a home video monitoring system and will check area gas stations for clues as well, he said.

Mark Ramos of Santa Cruz Fire said four car arsons were reported on the Westside between February and May. The cars

were torched on four nights on Gharkey Street and Almar Avenue, Ramos said.

Those early morning fires also were started by an accelerant poured on the outside of the cars, he said.

"It is unusual, but it's hard to say if they are linked," Ramos said. "We are waiting to hear back from the Police Department to see if there is any pattern as to who owns the cars."

The cars Sunday were well-involved when firefighters arrived, he said.

Neighbors reporting hearing explosions, he said, which could have come from tires or the accelerant.

"They burn hot and fast," Ramos said.

Orie Peifer, who lives on Branciforte Drive, said the sounds of a fire truck woke him Sunday. He went outside to see his father's Acura on fire. The flames had started to burn a tree near a neighbor's propane tank.

"It's baffling," Peifer said. "I don't know who would do something so stupid."

Peifer's neighbor, Forest Bayer, said a deputy knocked on his door and told him to get ready for a possible evacuation.

Bayer said he hasn't seen anything like it in his 30 or so years there.

"I just figured they had a bunch of meth and it blew up or something," he said. "It's too bad."

Robin Davidson, 30, said the 1991 Toyota truck that she uses for her landscape business, RobInscapes, was destroyed on Grunewald Court. Several tools inside were also ruined, she said. Her roommate had recently bought the four-door BMW that was set on fire, she said.

Her truck was unlocked, she said.

"It's a safe neighborhood," Davidson said. "I'm just still dumbfounded. I don't know why someone would do this. It's like the thing that happened downtown on May 1 -- if this is activism or anger or terrorism, I just don't understand what good could possibly come of this or what point it is going to prove."

In Aptos, the motive for a car fire earlier this month is also unclear.

Aptos Fire Chief Tom Crosser said investigators have yet to determine what caused June 8 fires in a Honda sedan and four trash bins at Deer Park Shopping Center.

Lynn Miller of Aptos said he called 911 about 1 a.m. after hearing crashing sounds followed by explosions. He said he could see flames from behind some trees near his home.

"It was very alarming," he said. "You wonder if it's just random. This stuff has a tendency to catch on."

Sheriff's Sgt. Dan Campos said there is a strong indication the same person is responsible.

"It's fairly rare," he said. "And it's an act of malicious mischief that is particularly egregious in light of the recent fire disasters we've had in our county. No one in this county is a stranger to the damage fire can cause."

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Students attack cops after police attempt to break up fight -- Poughkeepsie, NY

Five students have been charged by Poughkeepsie City Police with rioting following a melee near Poughkeepsie High School on Thursday.

Four boys and one girl, ages 13 to 15, were charges after police were called to the scene of a fight in the roadway at Fox Terrace and Edgar Street. When officers tried to arrest one boy who had refused to disperse and was inciting the crowd, he and other youths began attacking the officers.

The five taken into custody were arrested on charges ranging from riot to resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration, attempted assault on a police officer and attempting to take an officer’s weapon. One had a box cutter on him.

All five were taken to Family Court. Two youths were sent to secure detention, but because of limited space, the other three were sent to a non-secure facility.

Anti-police fliers found near area of gang homicide -- Santa Cruz, CA

An apartment complex manager found inflammatory fliers Wednesday morning posted just down the block from where gang members killed a Santa Cruz High School student last fall.

The fliers set off a wave of speculation as to who is responsible, if the threats are legitimate and what can be done to quell unrest in the community.

The anti-police fliers went up in the Chestnut Townhomes and Apartments the day after two suspected gang members - one of who is a Mexican national in the United States illegally - were arrested in connection with the stabbing death of Tyler Tenorio. The 16-year-old was killed in a clash with gang members at the corner of Chestnut and Laurel streets, near the apartment complex, on Oct. 16.

"In our opinion, this is a campaign of intimidation," Santa Cruz police spokesman Zach Friend said.

One of the fliers encourages people to push back against police. "We need to take justice into our own hands."

The second flier is titled "hood unity" and says "No snitching. No collaboration." It calls Santa Cruz police a "Neo-Nazi gang" and criticizes the department's partnership with federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement gang investigators.

"Whatever other beef we might have, ICE and the police are our common enemies," the first flier states.

Santa Cruz police started working with federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement gang investigators last month to curb gang activity in the city. Since Tenorio's death, five of the city's past seven homicides were gang related, according to police.

After the fliers were reported Wednesday, police issued an officer-safety warning.

"It makes you a little more vigilant," Santa Cruz police officer Jason Kelley said Thursday. "We just want to be careful."

ICE officials said the agency is focused on immigration enforcement that goes after criminals first, but that people have the right to voice their opinions.

"We're certainly get a lot of people protesting," said Lorie Haley, ICE spokeswoman.

No direct threats have been made and police acknowledge that pasting fliers to parking signs with a glue stick is not a typical gang tactic.

The tone of the fliers leans more toward anarchist sentiments, though no one has claimed responsibility for the fliers, police said.

"These are the most clear and direct attempt at intimidation and inciting violence that have been found in recent memory," Friend said, adding that literature associated with the May Day downtown riot and past UC Santa Cruz animal rights protests were not as inflammatory as these fliers.

The partnership with ICE, one of four federal agencies currently assisting in Santa Cruz police investigations, has been controversial, but the fliers marked the first outward expression of anger.

"It speaks to something different," Friend said. "We're confident that this does not reflect the overall community sentiment but the department is getting frustrated by the push-back we're feeling from a small, unrepresentative group."

But people are concerned about immigration officials working in the city, according to Santa Cruz councilman Tony Madrigal said. Despite some outreach by police, some Latino residents worry ICE agents are patrolling with beat cops in Santa Cruz and may stop them on the street.

Madrigal urged police to hold a Spanish-language meeting to explain the department's new direction in combatting gang crime.

"It really would go a long way toward building trust, two-way communication and collaboration between our Police Department and the community," Madrigal said. "The real goal for all of us is to have a safer community. We all understand that the police department cannot do it alone."

Nane Alejandrez, director of the community-based peace movement Barrios Unidos, denounced the call to violence in the fliers but agreed that people in the local Latino community are afraid. He said Santa Cruz needs more alternative programs to keep kids out of gangs and that his group would like to help.

"We need to have a dialogue with police. We need to sit at the table," said Alejandrez, whose organization also does national and international work, and is often consulted by police chiefs elsewhere in the U.S.

But Santa Cruz police and Barrios Unidos have been at odds recently.

During a well-attended community meeting earlier this month, Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Rick Martinez said his agency no longer works with the organization because Barrios Unidos doesn't do enough to discourage gang participation.

"That was a very inaccurate portrayal of what Barrios Unidos is," Barrios Unidos board member Carmen Perez said. "Barrios Unidos does not condone violence. We do not support it."

However, Alejandrez said people's possible gang affiliations are not a concern when they turn to the organization for help.

"I don't ask them whether they're a gang member or not when they come in," he said. "They're a human being."

Thursday, with the aroma of sage lingering in the air from a recent cleansing ceremony at the Barrios Unidos campus on Soquel Avenue, Perez and Alejandrez said the organization, founded three decades ago, promotes spirituality, healing and peace. Barrios Unidos sponsors family activities, such as traditional folklórico dance, and employs outreach workers assigned to do prevention and intervention work in Santa Cruz neighborhoods, they said.

"It's not about suppression," Perez said. "It's about creating sustainable community solutions."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Lakers fans riot again -- Los Angeles, CA

Despite a massive Los Angeles police presence Thursday night, sporadic violence broke out near Staples Center after the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.

Crowds hurled bottles and other objects at police, smashed marquees, jumped on vehicles, broke windows, and set rubbish dumpsters and vehicles on fire along Figueroa Street north of Staples Center and on Flower Street.

Police fired non-lethal rounds to disperse the crowd at Figueroa and Venice Boulevard after several small fires were set, as well as at 11th and Hope streets. At 7th and Flower, a car believed to be a taxicab was engulfed in flames.

At least one person was beaten unconscious as fights broke out on Flower Street near Olympic Boulevard. A bicyclist was injured when struck by a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department vehicle near 11th and Flower streets, according to the LAPD.

In all, there were multiple injuries but no loss of life, officials said. One police officer suffered a broken nose. As night wore on, fire crews responded to many rubbish fires and some vehicle fires, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The LAPD declared an unlawful assembly moments after the game ended.

Hundreds of officers in patrol cars, on foot and on horseback moved in to clear streets and break up the crowds. At least 12 people were arrested for crimes including public drunkenness, vandalism and inciting a riot. One person was arrested for assault on a police officer, authorities said.

Several dozen people rushed onto the 10 Freeway near Figueroa and Washington boulevards, disrupting traffic, the California Highway Patrol said.

At 8th and Figueroa, Lakers fans and a phalanx of more than two dozen police, wearing riot gear and wielding batons, faced off. The stand-off began when a bunch of fans tore down a traffic sign and then ripped out two newspaper stands and lighted the papers on fire. When the police marched up Figueroa, about two dozen abreast, the crowd slowly receded. Some people were throwing energy drinks, which had been passed out for free after the win. Others posed for photos in front of the line of police.

A group of overzealous fans began smashing the windows of a black Honda and trying to turn it over. Others protested the violence: "You isn't from L.A.! This is L.A. No burning!" one person in a Kobe Bryant jersey shouted.

The YMCA at 11th and Olive Street was vandalized as taggers marked graffiti up and down the side of a wall. Another person upended a traffic sign and bashed in several windows.

That was too much for two men. "It's getting too hot, dog," one of them said to his friend. "Let's bounce!"

The LAPD reported that things seemed to be calming down after 11 p.m.

In 2000, the LAPD was criticized after mayhem erupted following the Lakers' championship victory. Roaming mobs torched vehicles and looted and vandalized businesses near Staples Center with seeming impunity. The department fared better after last year's championship but still needed a few hours to gain control of rowdy fans.

Top LAPD officials had vowed to do things differently this year and relied, in part, on a strategy of keeping large groups from roaming the area around Staples Center.

As the Lakers battled the Celtics in the first half, crowds began to form at the Nokia Theatre plaza across from Staples Center.

Witnesses said the LAPD was quick to respond when the throng began to grow.

A black-and-white police cruiser drove through the middle of the plaza, splitting the crowd as officers on foot began to move people from the area, according to diners at nearby restaurants.

"It was controlled chaos. They blocked them and pinched them so everyone had to leave out the same side," said John Hall of Bakersfield, who watched the scene unfold from the ESPN Zone.

With the plaza area cleared, officers shut down Figueroa Street at Olympic Boulevard to pedestrian traffic. About 100 people gathered at the corner after they were stopped from heading south toward Staples Center.

Some of them crowded the window at La Bella Covina restaurant, trying to watch the game on a television inside.

Police patrol cars lined Chick Hearn Plaza. Two trucks of police in riot gear and another group of officers on horseback lined up along Figueroa and Olympic as people assembled nearby.

Meanwhile, inspectors with the Los Angeles Fire Department were checking bars to ensure they had not exceeded maximum capacity.,0,3239781.story

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Youth detention center riot -- Savannah, GA

Authorities responded in riot gear after juvenile inmates got out of control at the Savannah Regional Youth Detention Center overnight.

Officials said that just after midnight inmates barricaded themselves in a room and lit at least one trash can on fire inside the facility.

Authorities said 11 juveniles held nine others hostage and one of them was beaten and taken to a local hospital. The 11 inmates were taken to the Chatham County Jail overnight for security reasons but were are back to the detention center Thursday, according to authorities.

Savannah-Chatham Metro Police, Georgia State Patrol and the Chatham County Sheriff's Office's Correctional Emergency Response Team were all called in for back up. Southside firefighters also responded.

The CERT team entered the facility wearing full riot gear and the inmates surrendered after a few minutes.

According to Steve Hayes, spokesman for the Department of Juvenile Justice, a full investigation has been launched into what happened and why. He stated that all inmates involved were boys between the ages of 13 to 17.

The investigation could take several weeks, and it could be that long before any charges are filed against those resposible.

Fire set to SUV -- Springfield, IL

Police are investigating a fire that was set in a 1999 Ford Expedition in the 2200 block of East Laurel Street early Wednesday.

The fire was reported about 12:10 a.m. Witnesses said a vehicle drove north about the time the fire broke out.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze and arson investigators were summoned.

The people who live on the property told police they didn’t know what the vehicle was doing there or who it belonged to. However, the registered owner walked up to police and confirmed the SUV was his. He said the vehicle had been parked all day and he had no idea why someone would set fire to it.

Upon investigation, police determined an amplifier, four speakers in a wooden box and a stereo were missing from inside the vehicle.

Vandals wreck baseball diamond -- Vallejo, CA

For the second time in a week, the offices of the Babe Ruth League in Vallejo have been vandalized. And now, the vandals have become more brazen.

Graffiti on the grandstand at the main baseball diamond in Vallejo has been painted over, from vandalism earlier in the week. But now, League Field Representative John Larson says all ten plexi-glass windows were busted out.

”They left a note for us that said, ‘Wilson people, next time leave the doors unlocked,’” said Larson.

The baseball diamond is in Wilson Park. Larson says the vandals were unsuccessful at torching the offices.

”They tried to start a little bit of a fire. In the same place where we found the note we found some ashes where they tried to burn another piece of paper,” said Larson.

During the first break-in vandals destroyed 18 stadium lights, which had just been donated. They also smashed computers and spray painted trophies.

Police are now investigating the incident, lifting fingerprints and DNA from the note that was left behind.

Man escapes corrections center -- Wilmington, DE

State prison officials are looking for a convict who walked away from the Plummer Community Corrections Center in Wilmington.

Officials said 20-year-old Raymond R. Brown, who was serving a violation of probation sentence, jumped a wall at the center Tuesday night and fled.

Brown is a black male who is five feet four inches tall and weighs 170 pounds. He was last seen wearing a white tank top, light blue pants and a white cap.

Brown was serving a 17-month sentence for violating probation on a charge of possession with intent to distribute drugs.

Flames for church and pastor -- Cromwell, KY

Fires at a church and at the home of its pastor in Ohio County, Ky., are being investigated as arson by Kentucky State Police.

According to state police, at 11:10 p.m. Tuesday, Ohio County dispatch received a report of a structure fire at “There is Hope Community Church” on Old Bethel Church Road in Cromwell, Ky., and a area fire departments were sent. About 10 inutes later another report was received of a residential fire in the 2700 block of US 231 in Cromwell.

The residence belongs to Darrell Blacklock, who is the pastor of “There is Hope Community Church,” police said.

A Kentucky State Police arson investigator and detective are investigating the two structure fires with help from the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Police said investigators are in the process of determining the origin of the fires.

A bank robbery, complete with escape -- Newtown, CT

On 06/17/2010 at approximately 11:30 am a white male wearing shorts and a T-shirt entered the Main Street Branch of the Newtown Savings Bank in Newtown, CT and demanded money from the teller. A note was passed to the teller that stated he had a gun. After obtaining an undisclosed amount of cash the suspect exited the bank. Newtown Police were called to the scene. A K9 was deployed to the scene to assist with locating the suspect who had apparently left the area. Investigation has led Police to believe the suspect to be Shane Parsons, age 36 formerly of Newtown. Parsons has an active warrant with Newtown on unrelated Burglary charges.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Inmate sets fire in van, deputy gets burned -- Augusta, GA

A Bibb County sheriff’s deputy suffered serious burns to his hand in a fire set Sunday morning in an inmate transportation van.

Deputy Scott Rickert was sent Monday to the Still Burn Center in Augusta.

“They did some skin grafts and bandaged his hand and he’ll be back,” said Bibb Chief Deputy Russell Nelson.

Rickert and another deputy picked up 39-year-old Willie Lamar Porter at Coliseum Medical Centers to be transported for a mental evaluation at East Regional Hospital in Augusta. Before they hit Shurling Drive, Porter allegedly set fire to a seat in the back of the van, Nelson said

Rickert looked around for a fire extinguisher then patted out the fire, he told Nelson.

“It must have been a small fire or he wouldn’t have tried to put it out,” Nelson said. “It was just one of those involuntary reactions.”

Rickert injured his hand on the burning plastic seat, he said.

Acting public information officer Lt. George Meadows said Porter was charged with arson and making terroristic threats after Rickert and the other deputy on the trip brought the unruly prisoner to the Bibb County Law Enforcement Center.

Porter had become disruptive at the Coliseum hospital even before the trip began, Nelson said.

“He had been fighting with him (Rickert) at the hospital,” Nelson said.

Before the van could get a little more than a mile down the road, the deputies noticed the fire and Porter was the only other person riding.

“He somehow got hold of a lighter and lit the seat on fire,” Meadows said.

Porter, of Lamar Street in Macon, was booked into the Bibb County Law Enforcement Center shortly after 4 p.m. Sunday, according to jail records.

Rickert was treated and released Sunday from The Medical Center of Central Georgia, but needed to receive further treatment in Augusta due to the nature of the injuries.

Elementary school smashed up -- Lincoln, NE

Lincoln police believe vandals ransacked a former elementary school building during the weekend, causing $3,000 in damages.

A maintenance worker discovered the vandalism on Monday morning at the former Hawthorne Elementary School.

The vandals sprayed fire extinguishers throughout the building, broke doors, shattered glass and smashed computer monitors, police said.

Footprints at the scene led investigators to believe at least three people were involved.

Police are eyeing a possible connection to recent vandalism at other schools.

Hacker steals $640,000 from Education Dept. -- New York City, NY

A tech-savvy thief stole more than $640,000 from the Education Department, a shocking example of how the agency's lax oversight has cost taxpayers, a special investigation shows.

Albert Attoh hacked into the Education Department's petty cash account and gave several others the codes so they could pay for their student loans, gas bills and purchases at Home Depot.

The users then paid off Attoh.

Attoh, who was not a city employee, was sentenced to a year in prison and fined $275,000 in April for the theft, which occurred between 2003 and 2007.

"It is difficult to understand how the (Education Department] accumulated years of account statements, reflecting hundreds of thousands of public dollars spent to pay bills, but did not review them," Special Commissioner Richard Condon wrote in a report released yesterday.

Education Department officials said they had fixed the problem. "Once we became aware of these activities in February 2007, we put in place a tight set of controls and processes to ensure the security of petty cash accounts," said Education Department spokesman Danny Kanner.

But Condon noted an incident just last year when a clerk stole more than $60,000 because no one looked at statements that showed his personal purchases, including global travel with his family.

A note for the bank teller -- Solana Beach, CA

A thief used a demand note to rob a North County supermarket banking center Monday afternoon.

The man handed the message to a teller at the Wells Fargo branch in a Vons store on Lomas Santa Fe Drive in Solana Beach shortly before 1:30 p.m., sheriff's Lt. Harold Turner said.

A description of the bandit, who fled with an undisclosed amount of cash, was not immediately available.

Portable classrooms set on fire -- Los Altos, CA

An arson fire at Loyola Elementary School in Los Altos caused about $10,000 worth of damage to two portable classrooms Sunday night, authorities said.

The fire at the school, 770 Berry Ave., was reported about 11:40 p.m.

"It was a minor fire," said Jeremy Davis, a Santa Clara County arson investigator. "It affected two of the trailers. The wood siding has to be replaced, but most of it's smoke damage inside."

Someone lit the contents of a plastic recycling bin — possibly paper — and pushed it against the side of the building where the two classrooms meet, Davis said. A wood bench nearby was also set on fire.

Davis said the blaze was "definitely an arson fire." The county fire department is investigating but does not have any suspects, he said.

Copper thieves take on cell phone towers -- Edmond, OK

Copper theft is nothing new. But recently, crooks have gone to new heights to steal the valuable metal. There have been several reports of thieves getting into cell phone tower sites and raiding hundreds of feet of copper. Over the weekend, Justin Tyner, Eric Selby and Jason Sanders were arrested in Canadian County. An alert Deputy spotted a suspicious car in a rural area and pulled over the driver.

Inside the car, he allegedly found evidence linking the suspects to thefts in Norman, Edmond, Oklahoma City and the Yukon area.

Edmond Police Spokesperson Glynda Chu says, "The disturbing thing is they had all these maps, including two that were hit in Edmond. They were very sophisticated. They had a plan and went from one tower to another.",0,4039526.story

Teen vandals strike cars -- Edmond, OK

Edmond police spent a lot of time this weekend in The Trails housing addition taking reports on more than 15 cases of vandalism.

This is one of more than a dozen tires damaged by vandals.

Damage estimated at more than $5,000 was reported to vehicles and houses in this west Edmond neighborhood.

Police think there are other incidences of vandalism that have not been reported yet, said Glynda Chu, Edmond Police Department spokeswomen.

"Parents need to know where their kids are,” Chu said. "They made the whole neighborhood sick. You have got to give your kids something to do and make sure they are supervised.”

Three juveniles were arrested in connection with a window being shot out at a home at 2600 Jaclyns Trail. The teens were 14 and 15 years old. They admitted to a single vandalism case, but denied any others, Chu said.

The teens, who attend Star Spencer, Millwood and Midwest City high schools, were arrested on vandalism complaints. Officers on Sunday found 11 holes in a window pane at the house and numerous BBs on the ground underneath the window, according to a police report released Monday.

Other incidents were reported Saturday morning. There were 15 tires punctured, one rear windshield smashed, one rear window broken, four windows to houses damaged and a vehicle that had been keyed.

The incidents occurred on Woodhollow Trail, Jills Trail, Jaclyns Trail and Julies Trail. The housing addition is between Santa Fe and Western avenues and Edmond and Danforth roads.

"Some of the vehicles had to be towed,” Chu said. "The tires are just trashed. It is just sad.”

Thursday, June 3, 2010

ICE Office smashed up -- Loveland, CO

A communique for us:

"Over the weekend of the 15th of May, an ICE field office in
Loveland, Colorado was attacked. Every window and door was shattered,
totaling around twelve panes in all.

The unmarked facility is one of many such hidden ICE buildings in
the U.S. that attempt to operate in secrecy. One tactic used by ICE to
maintain this secrecy is to take people from their homes in the middle
of the night to be "processed" before taken to privately-owned ICE

By operating in secrecy, ICE is able to maintain this particular
sub-station within a shopping and residential district without
revealing the repression used to create and sustain borders.

This action was taken in the climate typified by SB1070 in Arizona
and local anti-immigrant sentiment. However, the ICE office would have
been targeted regardless of legislation.

Resistance and attacks against manifestations of borders, prison
and power will continue as long as families are separated and people
are imprisoned, deported, and harassed.

As others have said--NO DEPORTATIONS!!! NO BORDERS!!

Solidarity means attack."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Flag vandalism on Memorial Day -- USA

From Oregon to Minnesota to Ohio, vandals trampled on Old Glory over the Memorial Day weekend. In one Ohio town alone, approximately 25 American flags were found set ablaze on Monday.

At least one national veterans group called for those responsible for the "shocking and reprehensible" acts of vandalism to be quickly arrested and prosecuted.

Police in Wooster, Ohio, were going door-to-door early Tuesday in search of the people who torched roughly 25 flags and flagpoles along Saunders Drive and Morgan Street, Capt. John Quicci said.

"They were set on fire," Quicci told, adding that an investigation is ongoing.

No suspects or motives had been identified, according to Quicci, who was unable to estimate damages to the 3-by-5-foot flags and the 10-foot metal poles placed outside of residents' homes by the annual Wooster Rotary Parade of Flags project.

The people who torched the flags face charges of criminal damaging and arson, Quicci said.

"We're treating this very seriously," he said.

In Minneapolis, a fire was set late last week to an American flag hanging outside a Marine veteran's home. The residence was spared and no injuries were reported, but the flag was destroyed.

Elizabeth Hawley said she found the ashes Thursday morning and called the act "very disturbing." She said her husband is keeping his feelings reserved, but she knows he's upset.

Hawley told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that she thinks the flag-burning was a random act of vandalism.

In Portland, Ore., Christian Ashby and his wife awoke Sunday to find their American flag torn down, covered in obscenities and burned outside their home, reported. Flying the flag has special meaning to his family, Ashby said.

"Well, we have some close relatives, especially my wife, who had a cousin who suffered from [post-traumatic stress disorder] and took his own life," Ashby told the website. "So, we have some very dedicated family to veterans of the United States services. So, it means a lot to us to fly the flag."

Ashby said a local man who served two tours in Vietnam loaned him another flag after posting news of the vandalism online.

Ryan Gallucci, a spokesman for AMVETS, a national organization representing 200,000 veterans, said he found the acts of vandalism "shocking and reprehensible," particularly on Memorial Day weekend.

"We absolutely condemn it," Gallucci told "Memorial Day is one of our country's most significant holidays and a chance to honor the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. For someone to desecrate the American flag on Memorial Day, it's unconscionable, it's unforgivable."

Gallucci called for quick closure to the ongoing investigations in at least three states.

"The people who are responsible for this need to be apprehended and held accountable for their actions," he said. "We shouldn't tolerate it, regardless of what the excuse is. We need to get to the bottom of it."