Monday, July 26, 2010

A small update

I've decided to occasionally include some international news from now on. Though I still want to keep the focus of this blog on the happenings of the United States and there are several other sites which do an excellent job of reporting on the events of other countries (see some of the links to the right,) these are often limited to purely anarchist attacks and don't always carry news of the more generalized events of socail war.

Lastly, thanks to those of you who have contributed articles, communiques, etc. You can always leave news items in a comment or if you prefer a little more anonymity, shoot an email to artculturework at riseup dot net.

Riot in small town after traveler is killed -- Saint-Aignan, France

Three hundred soldiers are patrolling a normally tranquil village in France's Loire Valley after dozens of armed travellers clashed with police.

The riot erupted on Sunday morning in Saint-Aignan after a gendarme had shot and killed a traveller who had driven through a checkpoint, officials said.

Travellers armed with hatchets and iron bars then attacked the village police station and hacked down trees.

They also toppled traffic lights and road signs and burned three cars.

"It was a settling of scores between the travellers and the gendarmerie," said the village mayor, Jean-Michel Billon.

He said the travellers also pillaged a bakery in the village. Just 3,400 people live in the village in a popular tourist region of central France.

Dangerous driver

Prosecutors quoted by the French TV channel TF1 said a traveller called Luigi had failed to stop at a police checkpoint on Friday night and had dragged a gendarme on the car bonnet for 500 metres (yards).

The gendarme escaped with only minor injuries. As the driver approached a second checkpoint he accelerated towards two gendarmes, one of whom opened fire.

The car continued on to Saint-Romain-sur-Cher, where the driver's body was later recovered, the prosecutors said.

Luigi had picked up another traveller after the first checkpoint, the TF1 report said. It is not yet clear why Luigi had tried to flee the gendarmes.

In separate rioting at the weekend, youths clashed with police in the Alpine city of Grenoble.

Four men were arrested in a dawn raid on Sunday after they allegedly fired at police during a riot early on Saturday in the suburb of Villeneuve.

The rioting was triggered by the death of 27-year-old Karim Boudouda, who was shot by police on Thursday during a chase.

Air conditioning units removed from stores -- San Francisco, CA

Jerry Young did a double take on his way into work at the Sprint store and JC Penney Catalog Center on Route 34 in Derby Thursday.

The giant air conditioning unit for the building was missing from the front of the retail shops.

“As I was walking in I said ‘Something is missing,’” Young said.

He’s not the only one: There’s been a rash of commercial air conditioners thefts in the Valley, specifically Ansonia, police said.

“It’s not just any Tom, Dick or Harry stealing these air conditioners,” Young said. “They’re familiar with getting around, getting the power off. Supposedly they’re getting it off without spilling the freon.”

Police said some entire units — which typically measure about 3 feet by 3 feet — were stolen.

But in most cases, the thieves are removing the exterior casing, cutting the electrical power supply and stealing the internal systems/copper tubing, Williams said. Police believe they might be doing it to get cash for the scrap parts.

Ansonia police Monday issued an alert to downtown businesses to be on the look out for anything suspicious.

“During the past six weeks, the Ansonia Police Department has received several complaints regarding the tampering with and theft of business air conditioning systems,” Lt. Wayne Williams said in an e-mail. “The suspects are accessing both ground units and rooftop units.”

Derby reported one theft — the one at the JC Penny store — and Seymour police said they had a similar theft several months ago at the Tri-Town Plaza buildings, which are vacant.

Lt. Justin Stanko said Derby police are sharing information with area departments and are trying to develop a suspect.

Ansonia had six reported thefts in the downtown area, including the building at 158 Main St, where the Valley Indy office is located.

The others were businesses on Main and East Main streets in Ansonia, including Banko’s music shop.

The thieves are brazen enough to steal during the day, Williams said.

One man, a white male in his 30s with a stocky build and short brown hair, was observed carrying a unit in a cart in Ansonia.

He told a witness he was performing maintenance on the system, Williams said.

The unit had probably just been stolen from 200 Main St., police said.

The units range in cost from $2,000 to $12,000 to replace, Williams said.

Williams said the police department has increased downtown patrols in response to the thefts.

Churchgoers' cars set on fire during service -- Columbia, SC

People leaving a church service in Anderson County walked out to find their cars had been set on fire.

According to the Hopewell Fire Department, 8 cars caught fire and 4 others were damaged in the New Springs Church parking lot Sunday morning.

Church was in service during the blaze, officials said.

At this time the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Jewelry store smash n' grab -- Keizer, OR

A thief smashed a window at a local jewelry store to get inside and then made off with several expensive items.

The burglary happened late Sunday evening at Boucher Jewelry, located in the 4900 block of River Road North.

According to the Keizer Police Department, an estimated $10,000 worth of jewelry was stolen. When officers arrived the thief had already fled the scene. A K9 officer tracked the scent to an adjacent parking lot where tire tracks were found. Police say it appeared the thief took off from that location in a vehicle.

Darth Vader robs bank -- Long Island, NY

When a six-foot man strode into a Long Island bank yesterday dressed as sci-fi super villain Darth Vader, customers and staff thought it was a joke.

But they soon realised how serious the man was when he produced a handgun and demanded cash.

Police in New York are now trying to trace the phantom menace, who stuffed cash into a bag and disappeared.

The man entered the Chase Bank in East Setauket around 11:30am, wearing the distinctive Darth Vader mask, a long black cloak and - slightly out of character - camouflage combat trousers.

One customer thought the outfit was so funny that he started joking with the dark lord as he tried to pull off his heist.

Suffolk County Police Detective Sergeant William Lamb said: 'The customer thought it might have been a joke, and not a serious attempt at a robbery.'

But staff and customers were left in no doubt when the man then produced a handgun from a bag and screamed, 'This is not a joke' to cashiers.

Police have released CCTV images of the man stuffing the money into a drawstring bag featuring a New York Yankees logo.

As he left the robber punched another customer who tried to stop him.

The bank was still checking its drawers last night to figure out how large his take was, Detective Lamb said.

It was the second recent off-the-wall bank robbery. On Wednesday, the NYPD arrested a man dubbed the 'Bouquet Bandit', who acquired his unusual nickname after bringing flowers and potted plants into the banks he robbed.

String of smash n' grabs -- Burien, WA

A serious burglary problem is plaguing Burien - with more than a dozen smash-and-grab burglaries in the past month or so.

The victims are all small business owners trying to make a go of it in the slow economy. And they have to spend more money fixing broken windows than replacing what the thieves grabbed and got away with.

Cinder blocks went through the windows of Star Nails and its next door neighbor - Happy Garden.

The thieves took only a candy machine from the nail salon - but hauled the entire cash register out of the restaurant.

"It's real easy to smash out a window with the glass on the front door, run, scoop out what you want - and go," says Sgt. John Urquhart of the King County Sheriff's Office.

"What's unusual about this particular rash is that we've had so many - 13 in a month's time - and they're all in the same geographic area," he adds.

Every business hit has a glass store front, and most are either on First Avenue South or Ambaum Boulevard, in Burien.

Thieves found the concrete they needed to break into the Burien Oil Change Express - right out front. It was a lot of work for just $25 left inside.

And at B Town burgers, owner Mario Pieris told KOMO News the thieves took $150 out of his cash register - but it cost him $400 to fix the front door they smashed.

"Whoever did it has got this thing down to a science," says Mario.

Urquhart says, "There's not a whole lot of risk. ... They don't care about alarms - by the time the alarm goes off and the police show up they're long gone."

Burien's police chief says the thieves do it either to get cash for food or drugs.

Now business owners there are doing more to protect themselves.

"We've been more careful with our closing procedures and opening procedures as well," says Mario.

Police say they are working on leads - but wouldn't release any details.

Arson attempt at marines recruiting station -- State College, PA

State College police said it appears someone tried to set a rear door on fire at 242 S. Fraser St., which houses the Marine Corps Recruiting Center in State College.

The incident, which occurred sometime Wednesday night or Thursday morning, was reported early Thursday. Police said the door was charred, but failed to catch fire and the damage was minimal.

The incident comes as police are investigating what they say are an unusual number of nuisance fires in recent months, including a fire Sunday morning that destroyed a police car parked behind the State College Municipal Building on Allen Street.

Shotguns stolen from police station -- Gallaway, TN

Police issued shotguns were stolen from a local police station over the weekend.

The City of Gallaway is offering a $500 reward for information leading to an arrest of the person behind stealing the guns.

Saturday between 12:00 pm and 7:00 pm, someone threw a brick through a window of the unoccupied police department. The burglar unlocked a door through the broken window and kicked in another door.

After gaining entry to the building, the suspect stole several Remington 12-gauge shotguns and a taser gun.

A full inventory of weapons was scheduled to be conducted.

ATM Stolen from restaurant -- Portland, OR

An ATM was stolen from a restaurant on Southeast Powell Boulevard early Monday morning, police said.

Portland Police Bureau spokeswoman Mary Wheat said officers responded to an alarm at The Original Taco House, located at Southeast 35th Avenue and Powell Boulevard, and found the restaurant's doors noticeably damaged.

Officers also said the restaurant's stand-alone ATM had been stolen.

Wheat said they haven't made any arrests in the burglary and have no suspect information.

Nate Waddle, the owner of the restaurant, said the theft was unsettling.

"It really breaches your sense of security, knowing that something you've worked hard for all your life and somebody can just come in and rip you off," Waddle said.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Letter bomb for oil exec family -- Houston, TX

Houston police and federal authorities confirmed Tuesday that a pipe bomb sent to the home of a local oil executive was meant for his wife and not him.

Vennie Wolf, 58, was injured Friday evening when she opened a shoebox-size package that shot out shrapnel and nails.

As they chased leads, officials Tuesday said they believed the incident in northwest Houston was an isolated one. But they refused to discuss the investigation's progress or why Wolf may have been targeted by the bomb.

"It's an ongoing investigation," said Rob Elder, assistant special agent in charge at the Houston office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which is looking into what happened along with the Houston Police Department.

Curiosity won out

The package had arrived outside Wolf's home in the 2100 block of Seamist Court a few weeks earlier.

Authorities do not think the package was brought there by the U.S. Postal Service, but they're not saying where it came from.

Wolf was hesitant to open the package when it arrived because she didn't know who it was from, officials said, but she later opened it out of curiosity.

Wolf was taken to Memorial Hermann-Northwest Hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries. She was later released and is now recuperating, police said.

Speculation about the bombing has run rampant in Wolf's neighborhood, which neighbors said has always been quiet and safe.

Some neighbors said the box had arrived disguised as a box of chocolates, but police declined to confirm that.

The shutters were drawn at the home Wolf owns with her husband, James Brock Moore III, and no one answered the door Tuesday.

Moore did not return a phone message at Adams Resources Exploration Corp., where he has been president since 1998.

Wolf and Moore appear to have kept a low profile in Houston. The couple is listed in University of Houston records as making a small donation to the university's engineering program, which Moore graduated from in 1964.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Police officer killed with own gun -- Chicago, IL

A Chicago police officer working a detail dedicated to addressing youth violence was shot and killed when a man grabbed the officer's gun and shot him outside a police building in the Englewood neighborhood.

The officer was leaving the facility at 61st Street and Racine Avenue about 3:45 p.m. and was walking to a parking lot when he got into a struggle with a 24-year-old man who disarmed the officer and shot him, Assistant Supt. James Jackson said.

The man then tried to rob someone at gunpoint a short distance away, Jackson said. Officers from the facility heard shots and exchanged gunfire with the suspect and shot him, Jackson said.

Preliminary reports say the officer was shot in the head.

The suspect was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where a group of uniformed and plainclothes officers stood outside the entrance of the emergency room this evening.

Calvin Jefferson, 28, said the suspect is his brother and was in critical but stable condition after being shot in the chest. "I'm still shocked," said Jefferson, adding that his brother has always been a bit of a loner who is secretive and didn't talk much to others.

The slain officer was 43 and an 11-year veteran, according to Jackson. Friends said he was married but had no children. Police were not releasing his name because some relatives had not been notified yet.

The officer was typically an instructor at the training academy, but was operating out of 61st and Racine as part of Operation Protect Youth.

"If your son or daughter came on the job, he's the guy you'd want to train them," said Assistant Deputy Supt. Matthew Tobias, who used to run the academy. "He understood what the oath meant. He understood what a priviledge it was to wear the uniform of a Chicago police officer."

The shooting left those who knew the officer stunned by the sudden loss.

"I want people to know that he's a great man and gave the Chicago Police a great name," said Mazen Istanbouli, a DePaul professor and close friend of the officer. "He was a giver, he never thought of himself and always thought of others."

Istanbouli, who is blind, said the officer helped him train and competed by his side in triathlons.

Istanbouli said the two had known each other for about three years. Istanbouli said the officer accompanied him to the New York City and Chicago triathalons, running and biking and swimming alongside him and serving as his guide.

The two most recently ran together at a run for fallen police officers in Chicago this spring. Just today, Istanbouli said, he brought up the officer's name because he wanted the officer to accompany him at an upcoming bicycle race.

Istanbouli recalled the officer's humility, particularly after they ran a race and Istanbouli tried to thank him: "He said, 'I'm doing this for you not for me, I don't need the medal, I'm doing it for you.' He helped me out with training and he helped me out throughout the process with swimming and running and biking, the whole thing we did everything."

He said his friend is always in his mind when he hears about police tragedies because "police officers' lives are always out there. It's just shocking."

Police officers and family gathered outside the slain officer's home on the South Side this evening. Police guarding the door to the family's home said relatives would have no comment.

The officer's body was taken to the Cook County medical examiner's office, where an autopsy is scheduled Thursday. An office spokesman would not provide any other details of the officer.

Around 8:30 p.m., officers held blue and white umbrellas over the slain officer's family as they pulled up to their home and walked through the rain to their front door.

Cheri Ricardo, 41, said she lives across the street from the police building and heard about 10 gunshots, but didn't think too much about it because the neighborhood has been growing more violent despite the police presence.

Ricardo, who has six children, said there are a lot of kids in the neighborhood. She has lived across from the police building for about two years, and she said the police building, along with another police facility, hasn't helped reduce violence.

"This neighborhood is exactly what it is, it's wild," said Ricardo. "That police station in my opinion did not stop any immediate crime in this neighborhood. ... It's not doing any good."

She said gang members in the area are "bad and bold, they do not care and have no respect or anything. They still shoot up and down the street when they want to."

The Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates shootings involving Chicago police officers, were gathering evidence on the scene this evening, said IPRA spokesman Mark Smith.

Police said the suspect has an extensive criminal history. Cook County court records show he has been arrested more than a dozen times over the years, mainly for possession of cannabis.

Most of those cases were dismissed, except for a 2006 case when he pleaded guilty to possession and received two years probation. In May of 2009, he pleaded guilty to marijuana possession and received one year of conditional discharge, which he completed satisfactorily on May 21.$53340

Thieves strike country club members -- Kingwood, TX

A rash of crimes is occurring at a place meant for relaxation, and now it has some members on edge. In the past three months, there have been several car burglaries at the Kingwood Country Club.

Police are actively pursuing leads. One thing they know for sure is that it appears the thieves are staking out their targets before they strike.

At the Kingwood Country Club, some members admit the sense of security here is so real that it's easy to get complacent.

"We think sometimes we're in a little bubble here in Kingwood," club member Laurel Erickson said.

But that bubble may have burst after a rash of smash and grab car burglaries. Nearly a dozen have been reported in the last three months -- all in broad daylight.

"They could just stand around until no one is out here," club member Lisa Moyer said. "I'm sure it's easy."

What's more is that the thieves seem to know which vehicles have valuables left inside of them. Some members seem to be more vulnerable than others.

"Lots of moms toting around three kids like I am today and maybe being a little distracted," member Jill Whtie said.

It's a crime of opportunity. While they've had a security officer in the past, the country club is banking on its members and employees to be more vigilant.

Management believes it's more effective.

"These guys are not deterred by seeing a security guard in the area," said Mike Feild with the Kingwood County Club."They wait for him to leave, and then they hit, and they're gone."

Using our exclusive CrimeTracker, Eyewitness News found that car burglaries in Kingwood were up slightly, to 8 percent, through May of this year. These crimes are not isolated to just the country club.

"We go look to see if they're any clues and then we go investigate and figure out," Houston Police Department Lt. C Brown said. "We've had a fair amount of success in things like that."

Police are warning residents to take these crimes seriously and not to leave any valuables in plain sight -- even if they plan on being away from their vehicles for just a few minutes.

"You have to value your things," said Marilyn Foil. "You have to take care of them."

"Burly bandit" robs several banks -- USA

Law enforcement officials are seeking the public's help in apprehending a man they believe is responsible for a total of 10 bank robberies in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

The heavyset man, dubbed by the FBI the "Burly Bandit," concealed his face in different ways in each heist. He has used sunglasses, a wig, and hats, including a cowboy hat, officials said.

He has threatened to kill bank tellers and brandished a weapon. He is considered armed and dangerous, the FBI said in a statement.

The man is described as white, in his late 40s to early 50s, about 6 feet tall, weighing 250 to 300 pounds, with short brown hair.

The bank robberies happened in Darien and Somers, Conn.; Warwick, R.I.; Merrrimack, Hampstead, and Londonderry, N.H., and Tewksbury, Tyngsborough, Fitchburg, and North Attleboro, Mass. from April 12 to July 2.

ALF sets fire to restaurant -- Sandy, UT

The fire at the Tiburon restaurant was small but enough to shut the place down.

"We don't know if they forced their way in or found an unlocked door," said Sandy Police Sergent Troy Arnold.

Overnight, ABC 4 News received this e-mail....It said, "The ALF (animal liberation front) is watching and there is nowhere to hide. The arson at the Tiburon restaurant in Sandy Utah was done because of there (sic) sale of Foie Gras (young duck) and other 'wild game'. Animals exist for there (sic) own purposes, not human ends. Go Vegan! ALF Lonewolf."

A spokesperson for ALF says the menu is a big problem with activists, "This is not a delicacy. It's nothing more than animal cruelty and animal abuse served on a plate."

ABC 4 News took the e-mail to Sandy Police, "Anytime we have a fire, particularly something that might be an arson and someone actually claims responsibility for it, it's concerning for the police department. We're going to take this information you brought to us seriously," said Sgt. Arnold.

Detectives took down clues that may lead to the identity of the so-called "Lonewolf". It's the third time Lonewolf has surfaced following a fire. The Tandy Leather Store in Salt Lake City and a Denver sheepskin shop were fires in which Lonewolf claimed it was done to save animals.

"Activists feel like they're in a position where their voices can't be heard, and as long as their voices can't be heard people will find other ways to get the message across," says spokesperson for ALF.

Copper thieves score big -- Fort Myers, FL

Thieves caused $100,000 damage while stealing copper coils from air conditioners at a vacant Cape Coral shopping center.

The theft and damage was reported Tuesday at the center at 1843 N.E. Pine Island Road.

Property manager Sharon Stamper told police that she found holes in the roof of the vacant Circuit City store.

She said copper coils were removed from eight air conditioners in the store.

The thieves also broke into adjacent vacant stores and took copper coils out of four more air conditioners, Stamper said.

She said it will cost $100,000 to replace the air conditioning units.

Flames for new city hall -- Olympia, WA

An apparent anti-police arsonist entered the new City Hall, used some kind of chemical accelerant and set fire to a stack of construction materials, causing an undetermined amount of damage and setting back a $35.6 million project that had been on schedule.

Firefighters were called to the four-story building under construction in the 600 block of Fourth Avenue East at 5:34 a.m. Thursday. They put the fire out within minutes, but the damage was done. The fire, though confined to one room, spread smoke through the building, blackening new drywall. It also melted wiring on the first and second floors.

It’s unclear when the fire was started, but it was after workers had quit for the day on Wednesday.

The fire was set in what will become the police department’s squad room, said Rick Dougherty, project manager for the new City Hall.

“(Expletive) PIGS” was spraypainted in red on one of the walls outside the room where the fire started.

“To think it was caused by someone deliberately is really disappointing,” City Manager Steve Hall said. “We don’t know a whole lot yet about how it started … or when.”

No one at the scene was injured. Police were investigating the fire as suspicious.

Construction workers arriving on the job Thursday morning discovered the blaze and called 911. The Olympia Fire Department was dispatched at 5:34 a.m. and arrived at 5:37 a.m. The fire was reported out at 5:49 a.m.

An estimate of the damage probably won’t be ready until today, Dougherty said. Investigators were expected to be on the site Thursday from insurance companies for both the city and the contractor, Hoffman Construction.

Dougherty said he didn’t want to speculate about how long the fire would set the project back. No work was done on the site while fire and police departments investigated. City employees were expected to move into the new City Hall at the beginning of next year.

Dougherty said it was the second attempt in two days to set a part of the site ablaze. On Wednesday, a Hoffman employee discovered that someone had tried to set fire to a construction trailer where the company has makeshift offices. The small fire singed the corner of the trailer but did no significant damage.

Cmdr. Tor Bjornstad said police had been made aware of that fire, and had stepped up patrols Wednesday night in the area. He said police would remain on alert. Private security and surveillance cameras may be brought in, he said.

Such anti-police sentiments are not uncommon among vandals.

“We get a lot of anti-police graffiti,” Bjornstad said.

Dougherty said that there have been minor incidents of vandalism at the site before — some construction signs tagged or stolen. But nothing serious.

“It’s a rough neighborhood,” he said. The new City Hall is being built there, in part, to change that, he said.

The fire won’t affect plans for street improvements around the building, Dougherty said. The right-turn-only lane on Fourth Avenue to Plum Street will remain closed from Jefferson Street to just past the Chestnut Street intersection. Parking on the south side of Fourth Avenue between Jefferson Street and Plum Street will be restricted.

By Thursday afternoon, police still had no suspects, Bjornstad said.

“I think our best hope is a tip of some kind,” he said.


Olympia police made an arrest today in connection with an apparent arson fire that caused damage to the new City Hall Thursday.

Olympia police made an arrest today in connection with an apparent arson fire that caused damage to the new City Hall Thursday.

According to a news release:

Joshua A. Stacy, a 20-year-old transient, was arrested on two counts of second-degree arson and two counts of second-degree burglary. Olympia police detectives arrested Stacy after receiving information from the state Department of Corrections that Stacy, a Level III sex offender who wears a GPS monitoring device, was at the scene of the arson.

Stacy has a conviction as a juvenile for reckless burning.

Grocery store smash n' grab -- Alapaha, GA

Authorities are searching for two smash and grabbers who broke into an Alapaha grocery before dawn Tuesday.

They shattered a glass door. Investigators say one of them turned off the the surveillance camera system, but not before they were caught on tape. We have the video to show you.

If you look in the corner of the screen you see one suspect run in. Berrien County authorities believe that person unplugged the video survelliance system at the Alapaha Station Food Depot. Before the video was stopped, they were caught on tape. The second suspect runs in jumps over the counter wearing a white hoodie and a bag on his shoulder.

"It's kind of a hot spot right here," said T.J. Griffin of Glass Unlimited.

The man looks around for money and then jumps back over the counter. Berrien County authorities say $1,000 was stolen in cash and coins.

"We've replaced a lot of broken glass in the front and a lot on the doors so we stay here a good bit," said Griffin.

Griffin says they've come out to repair glass here several times in a last seven years.

Pieces of glass are swept up. The burglars threw a brick through the door that completely shattered the glass.

"When they want to get in they'll use what they can to get in and it creates a lot of damage," said Griffin.

Rita Green of Green restaurant which is across the street from the Food Depot says someone's tried to break in the back door of the restaurant.

"It's just too many people breaking into other folks stuff," said Green. "It just needs to be stopped."

Investigators believe the suspects in the Food Depot burglary are customers of the store but they haven't identified them yet.

Serial bank robber strikes again -- Atlanta, GA

Atlanta Police are searching for a suspect in a series of area bank robberies. On Thursday, they released photos of the man, whom they say hit another bank earlier in the day.

Thursday morning’s robbery took place at the Chase Bank located at 3695 Cascade Road in Atlanta.

Police believe Thursday’s robbery is connected to two other robberies at the same Chase Bank on Cascade Road. One of them took place on April 22, 2010. During that robbery, police say the man presented a note and was armed with a handgun. He got away with an undisclosed amount of money, and police say he fled in a burgundy car.

The suspect in the April robbery was described as a black male in his late 20s to mid 30s who is between 6’0” and 6’2” tall. He was about 200 pounds with a stocky build, and he was wearing a black and gold Pittsburgh Pirates baseball cap, tan colored polo-style shirt, and dark pants.

Police say a second robbery took place at the bank on June 10, 2010 at about 10:53 am. They say the bank was robbed by a black man in his late 20s to early 30s who is between 5’6” and 5’9” tall. He is 220-230 pounds with a stocky build, and was wearing a red baseball cap, a black t-shirt with a design on the front showing two large, multi-colored hand prints with the world ‘COOGI,’ black pants, and black sneakers.

In that robbery, the suspect presented a demand note and displayed a black semi-automatic hand gun. Police say the got away with an undisclosed amount of cash in a silver mini-van with multiple bumper stickers on the back.

Solidarity for Oscar Grant -- USA

Police car attacked -- Tacoma, WA

A Tacoma police patrol car was vandalized early today parked outside the officer's North End home, the department reported.

The car's windows were smashed out and three of the tires slashed. The vandals spraypainted the rear panel and trunk area with the words, "Oscar Grant was here," Tacoma police spokesman Mark Fulghum said.

The officer interrupted the vandals, who ran off. A police dog searched the area but didn't find the suspects, Fulghum said.

The vandals were described as men wearing hooded sweatshirts. The patrol car was towed to Tacoma police headquarters for processing, Fulghum said.

The graffiti was a reference to the fatal shooting of Grant in California early on Jan. 1, 2009. He was not armed. The officer was found not guilty of second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter Thursday. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

The verdict led to protests and scores of arrests overnight in Oakland.


Black bloc throws down -- Portland, OR

At 10pm protesters marched from Peninsula Park occupying the streets and demonstrating against the police as a result of the verdict given to Oakland Police Officer Johannes Mehserle who killed Oscar Grant January 1st 2009.

Oakland BART police officer Johannes Mehserle fired a single shot in Oscar Grant's back and proceeded to handcuff him as he lay down in his own blood. What made this case so important is the overwhelming amount of evidence that was take by bystanders at the time. Although the police made every effort to confiscate any footage that would incriminate them and sweep yet another brutal case under the carpet, footage spread all over the internet and made the mainstream media. Riots ensued in the following days in Oakland and the police were unable to control the situation, forcing the Mayor and District Attorney to arrest and charge Mehserle.

Today Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and not 2nd degree murder, or 1st degree murder as many would have desired. Portlanders mobilised at short notice to speak out against the police and the fresh verdict, marching to Martin Luther King Boulevard from the park shouting, "ACAB - All coppers are bastards" amongst other terms. The police were all over the scene, monitoring beforehand from afar as people gathered for the event. A number of windows were smashed at a Bank of America on Martin Luther King Blvd. and at Portland Community College - Cascades Campus. At all times the police urged the protesters to move on to the sidewalk or they would be arrested whilst two bike cops led the plethora of police cars.

At one point I was threatened with arrest for taking a picture in the street and was told to move immediately away from the scene. It seems that press freedom is not on the cards for the police here, and this is an important issue if people are to know what is really going on in their local town or community. (See Vol. XXX, Issue 2 of The Portland Alliance for an article relating to Fortune 500 corporations owning all American Wire services).

Oakland is now in the eyes of America for the wrong reasons at a time when budget cuts in California will see many loose their jobs on the Oakland police force. The verdict today is another loss for communities against the police and the brutal tactics they choose to employ in the line of duty.

The protesters split up fairly rapidly at the end and at least 3 arrests were made.


Police substation receives graffiti -- Seatle, WA


"Concerned community members from Seattle and Olympia took to the streets of Seattle, WA outraged over the verdict of "involuntary manslaughter" in the murder of Oscar Grant by Oakland Police officer Johannes Mehserle.

Many of you may be familiar of the case of the black teenager who was punched by a seattle officer for jaywalking. If not, a little background:

This comes on the heels of another video taped outrage at the hands of an SPD officer, this time with a Mexican "suspect":

However, [some of] the people are fighting back:

Tell a friend..."


Police substation also receives a sledgehammer -- Seattle, WA

Our news partners at The Seattle Times are reporting that the SPD drop-in location at 23rd and Union suffered its second violent attack within a week when a man and woman broke out three windows with a sledgehammer:

"At least four witnesses called 911 just before 11:30 p.m. Sunday to report hearing loud thuds as two people swung sledgehammers at the windows of the substation at the corner of 23rd Avenue and East Union Street, said police spokesman Jeff Kappel."

The suspects were spotted near 25th & Cherry, ID'd by the witnesses, and arrested for felony malicious mischief.

Last week protesters left anti-cop graffiti on the building following the California verdict against a police officer who shot and killed an unarmed man.


Police car attacked -- Santa Cruz, CA

The communique:

"R.I.P. Oscar Grant

On Friday night, we attacked an unmarked police car parked in the Seabright neighborhood, slashing all of its tires & breaking 4 of its windows. The message left on the car, "RIP Oscar", speaks for more than one victim of police violence, but for all of us who suffer under a police state.

From Oakland to Sac-Town,
The Bay Area and back down,


Police vehicles attacked -- Baltimore, MD

Le communique:

Early this morning in Baltimore, we defaced three police vehicles with slashed tires, spray paint, and feces on door handles & through an open window to say 'Fuck you'

and to express solidarity with the mobs rioting and looting in Oakland after the Oscar Grant verdict, and the 80+ people arrested there.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Oscar Grant verdict leads to looting, vandalism, arson -- Oakland

The agitators have struck again.

After about three hours of passionate but largely peaceful protests by hundreds of people who converged on downtown Oakland late Thursday afternoon, a splinter group of protesters, many wearing masks, egged on the crowd and ran through the streets breaking store windows, looting and setting fires before police moved in with flash-bang grenades.

People started pouring into the intersection at 14th Street and Broadway after the surprisingly quick verdict in the Johannes Mehserle trial. The former BART police officer was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant III on Jan. 1, 2009.

Police officers, while visible and prepared, allowed the crowd of about 1,000 to block the street and set up a podium. One after the other, speakers grabbed a bullhorn to express grief and anger. Many urged the crowd to keep the protest peaceful, and by 8 p.m. there were only a few arrests for fighting with police and instances of rocks being thrown by a smaller group that tried unsuccessfully to march down Broadway toward police headquarters.

But all that changed after dark. By 10:30 violent protesters had left a trail of destruction down Broadway and throughout Uptown, smashing windows and looting. They hit Foot Locker and Sears -- even ripping clothing from mannequins. Windows were smashed at Far East National Bank, Luka's Taproom, Ozumo Japanese, Oaksterdam University, Oakland Coin and Jewelry Exchange, Whole Foods, Grace Beauty Supply, JC Jewelry, the Acura dealership showroom, Wells Fargo, California Bank and Trust, US Bank and Bank of the West. There had been 50 arrests, and anticipating many more.

Stephen Allen, a 22-year-old protester from West Oakland, got caught near a mob that broke through the gate of the Foot Locker shoe store and looted the store of sneakers and sportswear. Moments later, a masked man, in one swift and violent blow with a long object, broke the window of the Far East National Bank across the street.

"Before the sun went down I was happy with everything," Allen said. "It's no longer about Oscar Grant. The people who went in there and came out with shoes; that's not about Oscar Grant anymore. What we had before the sun went down, that was justice. This is just pure stupidity."

Councilmember Larry Reid echoed those sentiments.

"I just hope it doesn't get any worse that what it's been so far. This certainly is not peace or justice for Oscar," said Reid, shortly after police cleared 14th Street and Broadway.

City and law enforcement officials, religious leaders and community organizers had for weeks urged a calm, peaceful response to the verdict. Recreation centers, churches and other nonprofit groups had opened their doors to allow people to gather and express their feelings without resorting to the same sort of violence that left a trail of smashed windows and other property damage downtown during protests in January 2009.

The city had prepared for the worst, though for a while it looked as if it might not be necessary. Many downtown merchants boarded up their windows days in advance of the verdict, and downtown businesses and local, state and federal offices sent their employees home as soon as it was announced. Several law enforcement agencies pledged their support and trained with Oakland police in past weeks.

During the evening, a phalanx of officers stationed at 11th Street and Broadway contained the crowd and prevented it from spreading. The Fruitvale BART station, where Grant was killed, was quiet. As a precautionary measure, the CHP closed down freeway onramps and offramps at Sixth Street and Broadway to prevent protesters from getting onto the freeway.

Grant's grandfather, who lives in Oakland, came downtown to be with the peaceful crowd. He called on the community not to "dishonor his grandson" with violence.

"I don't like the verdict but there are ways to deal with it without being violent," he said. "I do not want (people to use) violence to try and solve the verdict that happened today."

The African-American community has been galvanized since the fatal shooting of Grant, 22, an unarmed black man from Hayward who was with a group of friends heading back from attending New Year's Eve festivities in San Francisco when they were pulled from a BART train at the Fruitvale station in Oakland after a fight.

The actual shooting was recorded in photos and videos taken on numerous cell phones. One such photograph, of Mehserle as he stood with his Taser drawn, was snapped by Grant himself as he sat against the wall on the platform minutes before he was shot.

In a news conference at the city's Office of Emergency Services, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums said he would stand with Grant's family if they weren't satisfied with the verdict and wanted to explore other options for trying to seek justice.

Dellums thanked the community for responding in a "passionate and (verbally) aggressive, but peaceful way." He said people have a constitutional right to express themselves but he hoped they would do it in a manner that is respectful to Grant, his family and the community, and "show the nation that we can handle adversity."

The mayor's office coordinated with local nonprofits, including Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth, to send ministers, elders and other community members out in orange vests to talk to youths who had gathered in the streets and who were angry over the verdict.

"So many community groups have made the point that violence is not justice," said the Rev. H. James Hopkins of Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church. "So, justice needs to have nonviolent measures. It's hard to see those videos and think that today's verdict was justice."

Oakland residents Yafeu Tyhimba, 41, and Keba Konte, 43, put up a chess board in the crosswalk at 14th Street and Broadway and began playing a game.

"It's a thinking man's game," Konte said. "And that's what we need to be doing tonight."

Michelle Washington owns a hair salon in the 300 block of 17th Street. She said people should find a more effective outlet for their pain and anger.

"People who riot, I have no respect for," Washington said. "They are hurting innocent people and we didn't have anything to do with what happened. If you are going to do something, get up and vote. That judge (in the Mehserle trial) would not be re-elected."

Many people who took to the streets, churches and recreation centers disagreed with the verdict. Others, while not happy, said they were gratified that a police officer was convicted of shooting an unarmed black man, because that is rare. They credited the numerous videos of the incident with assuring the conviction.

"I just felt that, as a voice, we are the people. Oscar Grant, that could have been anybody's child," said Elisher Muhammad, who owns a beauty shop on 17th Street. "It's sad to know that somebody could get away with a mistake like that, even if it was a mistake."

An officer with the Alameda County probation department, who asked that his name not be published out of fear he would lose his job, said he wasn't surprised by the verdict.

"Oftentimes when I get stopped by police, they let me go when they see my badge, but when I'm wrong, I'm wrong," he said. "I feel like (the verdict) was a slap on the wrist. I don't trust the system and I work for the system."

Several organizations hosted speakouts and music earlier in the evening for people to express themselves in nonviolent ways. About 100 youth nestled in comfortable couches at the Youth Uprising community center in East Oakland and took turns expressing their anger and frustration over the verdict during an open forum. At the Mosswood Recreation center in North Oakland, a multigenerational group gathered in a circle and shared feelings of sorrow and a variety of other emotions, said supervisor Karis Griffin.

"It's just a place where people are coming to talk about how they feel," Griffin said.

Abel Habtegeorgis, spokesman for the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, said the community needs to focus on changing the system.

"We want to address the system that recruited and trained Johannes Mehserle, that's the fight we need to continue on," he said. "We want to see as much effort and energy as police put into preparing for a riot, put into putting the community onboard and engaging in forums and workshops."

Knots of agitators tried to stir up the crowd earlier in the evening. But when one young man started shouting that the crowd should riot he was quickly quieted by Oakland resident Brenda Appleby.

"Maybe the verdict was wrong, but this is my community and my town," Appleby said. "We have to stop talking about (the shooting) like it just hurt us black people. We need to stop looking at just color. This is about what happened to a human being."

Police Chief Anthony Batts, who earlier said that the verdict provided an opportunity for people to come together to talk about race and other issues, had hoped for a calm response. He blamed outsiders for ruining things for Oakland's businesses and residents, and he said his officers had gotten word that the anarchists, recognizable by their masks, were planning something.

"They want crowds to overreact, and they want police to overreact," he said. "We kind of anticipated that."

But he said the police were trying not to fall into their plan, he said.