40,000 Californians Download ACLU App…..Ferguson’s High Priced “Negotiation” With Justice….Chief Charlie Beck Thanks the TroopsMay 5th, 2015 by Celeste Fremon
APPROXIMATELY 40,000 CALIFORNIANS DOWNLOAD THE NEW ACLU MOBILE JUSTICE APP IN 5 DAYS
Last month a South Gate, California, woman was filming a police action when a Deputy U.S. Marshall saw her, strode over and smashed her phone to the ground.
As of last Thursday, the ACLU of California has an app for that with their new Mobile Justice CA, a free smartphone app that allows people to record video that, at a finger touch, is sent straight to the ACLU—or more specifically to their cloud storage.
The video also stays on your phone so that you retain a copy as well.
It is the transmission that is key, of course, because—as the above video demonstrates—it prevents anyone from deleting the only copy of a recording.
Since MobileJusticeCA was released less than a week ago, the app has been downloaded “around 40,000 times,” said the ACLU’s Peter Bibring when we talked on Monday. Bibring is director of police practices and senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s Southern California branch, and one of those most involved with the project. “So we’re calling that successful,” he said.
(By the way, the ACLU of California is made up of the state’s three big regional branches: the ACLU of Southern California, the ACLU of Northern California, and the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.)
MobileJusticeCA is not the first such application that the ACLU has distributed. The newly launched California app is an improved variation on an app introduced in New York a couple of years ago, when there was a push among activists to document stop-and-frisk incidents. A few other states, like New Jersey, and Oregon, followed suit.
Then California worked with the software developers to make various improvements over the original, said Bibring,.
For instance, unlike the New York version, which only allowed a short recording, the new version allows you to record as long as you want, or at least as long as your battery holds up.
Other improvements in the California incarnation include access—through your phone— to the ACLU’s full library of know your rights material. Plus, there’s a feature that allows someone who is recording a police action to send out an alert that will be seen by others nearby who may then show up to record too.
When I asked Bibring if he was at all concerned with some of the privacy issues that some critics have mentioned since the app was introduced.
“Actually, I’m proud of our privacy policies on this application,” he said.” For example, unless you submit it to us, we don’t collect any kind of information about you. We don’t have your name, or any kind of device ID, or anything else. We just have the video.”
The video exists on the Amazon cloud server, with whom the ACLU has contracted. “And they’re extremely exacting about not collecting access to any personal data.” said Bibring.
In truth, unless the video is flagged by the sender as evidence of possible civil rights violation, ACLU staffers will, in most cases, never look at it, and it will be purged in a few months.
The ACLU is partnering with the Ella Baker Center to do a six month campaign to engage people about ways to promote police accountability in their neighborhoods, said Bibring.
“People unquestionably have the first amendment right to film law enforcement,” he said. “So one of the things we are trying to do with this app is to make sure that people know their rights.”
FERGUSON HIRES 1,335 PER HOUR LAWYER TO FIGHT…ER…NEGOTIATE WITH THW D.O.J.
There’s no question about the fact that Dan K. Webb, 69, is a brilliant attorney. But the fact that Ferguson, MO, has hired one the nation’s highest paid lawyers, in a contract that grants him his full fee for guiding their negotiations with the U.S. Department of Justice, has drawn criticism. In certain pro bono cases, Webb works for a lowered fee. Not this time. His hourly price tag is nearly twice that of the highest paid lawyers—$700 per hour—working in Missouri in the whole of last year.
According to St. Louis Despatch reporters Christine Byers and Stephen Deere, who broke the story after they managed to wrestle a copy of the engagement letter showing the hiring terms away from the Ferguson City Council, which tried very, very hard to keep the letter secret, then reportedly redacted it energetically after they realized they didn’t have a legal leg to stand on in the face of the Dispatch’s Public Records Act request.
Eventually, persistent reporters Byers and Deere got the whole thing which you can read here.
Yet, the most interesting part of the hiring of Webb is not so much that Ferguson, which has been reported to be skating perilously close to bankruptcy, has chosen to pay such an unusually high fee, it is why they were interested in Webb specifically, a story that the Dispatch reporters say came from Webb himself.
It seems that, after interviewing other suitable attorneys and firms with successful experience with this precise kind of negotiation process between the DOJ and a law enforcement entity in need of reform—like, for example, the firm that represented the city of Albuquerque recently to negotiate its consent decree—-Ferguson was attracted to Webb when they learned he had represented the infamous and very colorful Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, when Arpaio and company were facing a DOJ lawsuit.
Here’s a clip from Byers and Deere’s story:
it was Webb’s involvement in Maricopa County, Ariz., which is the subject of a Justice Department investigation, that attracted the attention of Ferguson, Webb said. The DOJ alleged that the Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Joseph Arpaio engaged in discriminatory and otherwise unconstitutional law enforcement actions against Latinos.
In 2012, the DOJ filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against Maricopa County, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and Arpaio. In a press release, the DOJ wrote: “negotiations were unsuccessful, primarily because the county and Arpaio refused to agree to any independent oversight by a monitor.”
“They have been the most belligerent” of the communities in negotiations with DOJ, said Walker, the professor at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
CHARLIE BECK THANKS THE TROOPS FOR MAY DAY PEACE
Last Friday was May Day, which brought thousands to downtown Los Angeles for marches, demonstrations and celebration. Expecting big crowds, and a teensy weensy bit jittery about what the day might bring, what with the anger and grief still spilling out of Baltimore and elsewhere, the Los Angeles Police Department wisely called a tactical alert.
Happily, however, it was a peaceful day. And LAPD officers were reportedly helpful and firm, when need be, but not at all aggressive.
So, over the weekend, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck posted a thank you to sworn department members on the police union’s internal website.
To the men and women of the LAPD,
I want to personally thank you for showing the professionalism of the Los Angeles Police Department to the world on May Day. Your efforts allowed thousands of protesters and marchers to exercise their rights protected by our Constitution.
While there were some tense moments yesterday, I witnessed firsthand how LAPD officers exercised discipline and extraordinary professionalism while thousands of people took to the streets to express their views about a number of issues. The fact there was not a single incident, arrest or citation throughout the day is remarkable and indicative of your preparation, professionalism and respect for the communities we serve.
Despite the heat and the sensitive times we face in the law enforcement community across the country, each and every one of you shined. From the leadership team to the men and women working and walking with the various community groups, you did a phenomenal job and I am so proud of you. Like you do daily, you made the LAPD badge shine and the nation took notice.
Thank you and be safe out there.