Police force use of facial recognition technology in public spaces risks turning people into “walking ID cards,” a civil rights group has told RT.
Campaign director at Privacy International, Harmit Kambo, said the technology, which scans people’s faces against a mass database of facial profiles, risks labeling innocent people as “troublemakers.”
His comments come after the Home Office announced it will invest more in facial recognition technology for police, despite widespread criticism that it may be illegal as it infringes the right to privacy.
Transparency activists, MPs and independent regulators are concerned that police forces across England and Wales currently have 16 million facial profiles stored in their databases – the equivalent of almost 25 percent of the population – which can be used alongside the technology.
“Widespread use of facial recognition technology in public will have a profound impact on the freedom we take for granted when we go about our daily lives in public spaces.
“It turns us all into walking ID cards,” the Privacy International campaigner said. Although CCTV surveillance has been in use for several years, the new scanning technology brings monitoring to a “whole new level,” and risks giving the police unprecedented powers, Kambo warned.
“The police will have the power to know where you are, even if they do not suspect you of any crime whatsoever.”
The Home Office said a biomimetic strategy will be published in “due course.”
Kambo also raised concerns over the lack of a public and parliamentary debate about the use of the “intrusive” technology and the extent to which police forces are able to deploy it.
The Metropolitan Police plans to use facial recognition technology at the Notting Hill Carnival next week, which attracts up to 2 million revelers every year.
However, the Privacy International campaigner questioned the implications the real-time use of such technology will have on the public.
“Will it mean that everyone who attends the Notting Hill Carnival later this month will have their face photographed and kept on a police database permanently?
“Will it mean that everyone who attends peaceful protests, marches and demos in the future will be profiled as potential troublemakers?”
The use of the monitoring system at the carnival has been branded “institutionally racist,” as it targets Britain’s largest African-Caribbean event.
“It is racial profiling. They are coming and putting everyone’s face in the system,” Stafford Scott, of the anti-racism charity the Monitoring Group, said, according to the Guardian.
“A technique they use for terrorists is going to be used against young black people enjoying themselves.
“They are still institutionally racist, that will impact on communities like mine.”
Dashcam footage has been released showing three Texas police officers subjecting a college student to a shocking road-side vaginal search that lasted 11 minutes.
Charneisha Corley was a 21-year-old college student with no criminal history when she was pulled over by police in Harris County, Texas on June 21, 2015, for allegedly running a stop sign.
Corley, now 23, was told to step out of the car after deputies said they smelled marijuana. After officers found nothing in the student’s vehicle, Corley was told a female deputy had been called to conduct a body search.
Upon the deputy’s arrival, that search resulted in Corley apparently being body-slammed to the ground, her pants being roughly ripped off, her legs spread and her vagina probed for 11 excruciating minutes, the newly released dashcam footage shows.
The incriminating footage was released Monday by Corley’s lawyer, Sam Cammack, in an attempt to vindicate his client who has been charged with two misdemeanors; resisting arrest and possession of 0.02 ounces of marijuana.
Cammock, who called the incident “rape by cop,” said that prior to the assault, one officer can be heard saying on the tape: “oh we’re going to find something, if we have to put our hands on her.”
“The same officer bodyslammed Ms Corley, stuck her head underneath the vehicle, and completely pulled her pants off leaving her naked and exposed,” Cammock told KRIV.
“They then took Ms Corley and put her ankles behind her ears, both of her ankles, in a spread-eagled position, and begin to search for something in Ms Corley’s cavity in her vaginal area,” the lawyer added.
Harris County prosecutor Natasha Sinclair said, “No one in this office stands by the search the way it was conducted.”
“No one condones that. No one thinks it’s appropriate. It should not have happened,” she said. However, the deputies involved may not be punished for their actions, with Sinclair saying: “Bad decisions, bad judgement, may not rise to the level of criminal offence.”
The two deputies, Ronaldine Pierre, 34, and William Strong, 37, were put on office duties pending the outcome of the case against Corley and could face prosecution depending if the case goes to trial.
Criminal charges against the deputies involved were dropped by the DA on August 4, the day the case was set for trial, but refiled minutes later citing new “secret” evidence. Cammock has asked for a special prosecutor with no ties to Harris County to handle the case.
Cammack told LawNewz that the female deputy made a deal with DA prosecutors to testify against the other two deputies in exchange for avoiding indictment. Cammack called the prosecutors’ process “disgusting,” because he believes it denied necessary information to the grandy jury.
“At the end of the day … I believe this District Attorney did a favor for somebody,” he said.
Police claim killing of 25 criminals in Manila’s week of bloodshed as President Duterte continues crackdown.
Twenty-five criminals were killed, including 14 in anti-drug operations, overnight in the Philippine capital Manila in a second night of heavy bloodshed this week as President Duterte’s fierce war on drugs intensified.
Thursday’s killings across Manila followed 32 deaths in near-simultaneous police operations on Monday night through to Tuesday in Bulacan province, marking the deadliest period of Duterte’s controversial crackdown that has killed thousands of Filipinos.
Joel Napoleon Coronel, director of Manila Police District, told reporters the 14 were killed in sting operations and 11 other deaths were robbers who were also involved in narcotics.
The identity of the killers of the 11 people were not known and the incidents were under investigation, police reports said.
On Wednesday, President Duterte praised the operations, adding that he will order the shooting of human rights advocates.
“Let’s kill another 32 everyday, maybe we can reduce what ails this country,” local media quoted Duterte as saying in a speech during the 19th anniversary commemoration of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption at the presidential office.
The administration’s aggressive war on drugs, which resulted in thousands of killings, has earned condemnation from various human rights advocates not only in the country, but also from abroad.
The president said he is expecting an outcry from human rights advocates and assured that the police have his support. He lambasted local and international human rights groups for condemning his drug war, saying these groups were turning a blind eye on the victims of drug-induced crimes.
“Many are being killed because the policemen are working. They are protected under my watch.
“Tell them [human rights advocates], ‘police, shoot those who are part of it. If they are obstructing justice, you shoot them’,” he said.
Despite the criticisms, Duterte expressed a firm stance to destroy the apparatus of the drug trade, which he said is “taking a toll on the lives of the people”.
Al Jazeera’s Jamela Alindogan, reporting from Pampanga in the Central Luzon region, said Duterte had been “flip-flopping” on his statement.
“President Duterte, in his campaign, promised to end this problem within the first six months of office. However, last week he said no president will be able to solve the problem of drugs in the country,” she said.
Police chief Romeo Caramat said that the series of raids has led to the arrest of 109 drug suspects and the seizure of 34 guns, two grenades and 14 live ammunitions.
He said $19,500 worth of methamphetamine and 765 grams of marijuana were also recovered.
“We wanted one space that was just a little different. It’s not an aggressive, hetero-jock space that’s dominated by cops and soldiers. It’s a place where you’re safe from that.”
“And we don’t want to make police stronger so that they can hurt people more efficiently. It’s not a personal thing, but if you put that uniform on, and quite honestly I view that as an occupying enemy army.”
A story about an Atlanta gym owner, Jim Chambers, who refuses to serve police officers and members of the military is having a ripple effect in the community. Now, local media is reporting that a cop has challenged Chambers to a boxing match at an upcoming event.
It all began when a military veteran saw a sign posted outside Chambers’ EAV Barbell Gym that read:
“Rules: Do whatever the fuck you want, correctly, except crossfit cultism — no fucking cops.”
The veteran was offended and sent a photo of the sign to Atlanta’s 11Alive News, who proceeded to publish a story with the following opening:
“A shocking and vulgar sign about police officers has been posted in front of a local business in Atlanta. The sign could be seen from the street with the curse word blurred out, but the message is clear: It says no cops allowed.”
In speaking to 11Alive News for the story, Chambers not only defended his policy but also expanded it.
“We’ve had an explicitly stated ‘No Cop’ policy since we opened, and we also don’t open membership to active members of the military,” he said.
Chambers has since taken the sign down, but as he told 11Alive News, the move was about shielding members of his gym from criticism and not about any faltering of his stance:
“I didn’t want the other folks there to take the heat that I’m willing to take.”
Chambers, a lifelong political activist, explained that most of the people who work out at his gym are minorities who feel uncomfortable around law enforcement. He says his gym, which also doubles as a meeting place for other local activists, simply isn’t an appropriate place for cops to come and burn off energy:
“We wanted one space that was just a little different. It’s not an aggressive, hetero-jock space that’s dominated by cops and soldiers. It’s a place where you’re safe from that.
“And we don’t want to make police stronger so that they can hurt people more efficiently. It’s not a personal thing, but if you put that uniform on, and quite honestly I view that as an occupying enemy army.”
To be clear, the atmosphere at EAV Barbell Gym is described on its website for anyone to view beforehand:
“We require no one to agree with any set of politics, but if you are hostile to the fringe, you ought to look elsewhere. We wanted to create a gym that wouldn’t be prohibitive due to cost, or overly aggressive, exclusionary jock culture. We want elite athletes and total newbs, anyone looking to pick up a bar. Meatheads welcome, too, so long as tolerance abounds.”
Unsurprisingly, Chambers’ story evoked a strong reaction in the community, and by Thursday, 11Alive News was reporting that a local cop was challenging the gym owner to a fight.“He seems like he might enjoy getting the opportunity to punch a cop in the face and I’d be happy to oblige him and give him that opportunity,” seven-year police veteran Tommy Lefever told the news outlet.
Lefever explained that the idea is about gaining Chambers’ respect:
“I found, you sweat, you bleed with somebody, you exchange punches with somebody in a sport like boxing, it’s hard not to respect the guy for getting in there with you afterward.”
Continuing, the officer says that first step could begin a path toward changing Chambers’ mind:
“Gaining mutual respect for one another in the boxing ring might be the start of something that can help overcome differences in world view, ideology, what have you.”
When told of Lefever’s challenge by 11Alive News, Chambers laughed and wanted to know if it would be a fair fight before he accepted.
In a statement, the Atlanta Police Department didn’t comment on the “no cops” policy but said it wouldn’t prevent officers from responding to an emergency at the gym. Chambers says he never has and never will require assistance from cops, and in the meantime, his policy breaks no laws.
To Vincent Champion, Atlanta cop and southeastern director for the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, it all sounds suspect.
“I don’t understand why you’d put a sign like that up at all,” he told11Alive News. “Without talking to the man, this appears to be hate for law enforcement and for what reason? Are you doing something illegal?”
The strong reaction to the story from the community has even pulled another Atlanta gym into the fray. Google search confusion has caused Village Fitness, which is around the corner from Chambers’ gym, to receive phone calls and walk-ins from people regarding the controversial policy.
Police in the United States are breaking records in 2017 by killing a record number of the same people they claim to serve and protect, and there is no change in sight under the current administration.
In 2017 alone, police have killed 746 people in the U.S., according to the Killed By Police database, which puts this year on pace to become the deadliest year on record. In contrast, in the first seven months of 2016, police killed 714 people; the number was slightly higher in 2015 with 725 killed; and it was noticeably lower in 2014 with 663 killed and in 2013 with 353 killed.
One case from this year that received a host of media attention occurred on July 15 when Justine Damond, a 40-year-old Australian woman was shot and killed by police in Minneapolis, after she called 911 to report a disturbance in her neighborhood. As The Free Thought Project reported, while audio was released from the shooting, neither one of the two officers on the scene chose to turn on their body cameras, and the Somali officer who shot and killed Damond had several complaints on his record.
In addition to the increase in police shootings, the U.S. is also under a new administration, which has expressed overwhelming support for all of the characteristics that lead to an empowered police state.
In an address to the National District Attorney’s Association conference on July 17, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions promised to increase the federal government’s civil asset forfeiture programs.
“In addition, we hope to issue this week a new directive on asset forfeiture—especially for drug traffickers,” Sessions said. “With care and professionalism, we plan to develop policies to increase forfeitures. No criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime. Adoptive forfeitures are appropriate as is sharing with our partners.”
President Trump shared his thoughts on the topic of police brutality during a speech at the Suffolk County Police Department in New York on July 28. He encouraged officers to be “rough” on suspects, and those surrounding him responded by clapping and cheering.
“Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over? Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody—don’t hit their head. I said, you can take the hand away, okay?” Trump said.
While Trump’s comments were in reference to gang members, it should be noted that the same treatment he is advocating is the type of treatment that led to the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who died in police custody in April 2015, after suffering from “high-energy” impact from his time riding in the back of a police transport van.
2015 was a year in which 725 were killed in the first seven months, and 1,216 killed overall. It marked a noticeable increased in police killings in the first seven months, when compared to 2014 with 663 killings and 2013 with 353 killings.
While the increase in police killings in 2017 will be written off and justified by many, it is important to remember that the longer the public sits back and does nothing—especially when key government officials are sharing such inflammatory rhetoric—the more likely it is that the numbers will continue to increase.
RCMP officer Abe Snidanko in his red-serge uniform. Snidanko was the RCMP’s premier narcotics agent in Vancouver during the hippie era, and inspired the Cheech and Chong character Sgt. Stadanko in the movies Up in Smoke and Nice Dreams. Photograph By Vancouver Sun
In the 1960s, the name Abe Snidanko sent chills up the spine of every hippie in Vancouver. Snidanko worked undercover with the RCMP drug squad, and busted numerous longhairs for pot and other drugs.
Snidanko’s fame went international when former Vancouverite Tommy Chong used him as the inspiration for Sgt. Stadanko, the opening track on Cheech and Chong’s 1973 comedy album Los Cochinos.
The fictional Sgt. Stadanko also appeared in the Cheech and Chong films Up in Smoke and Nice Dreams. But what the real Sgt. Snidanko thought about his fictional counterpart is unknown — he declined interviews.
Snidanko died Aug. 2 at his home in Richmond, two months shy of his 80th birthday.
“He had renal failure, heart (failure), everything just shut down,” said his son Ryan. “But he did pass away very peacefully. He was home, he didn’t want to go to the hospital. He was very stubborn that way.”
Adrian Snidanko was born in Smokey Lake, Alta., and grew up in Edmonton, where he was a Golden Gloves boxer. He joined the Mounties when he was 18 and was posted to B.C., initially in Penticton and then in Vancouver.
“He was one of the first members in the Vancouver street crew, (policing) street-level trafficking in the Downtown Eastside and around the city,” said Ryan. “Drugs were a federal jurisdiction back then, so the RCMP had jurisdiction over it.”
As Vancouver became a hippie haven and pot use spread, Snidanko worked hard to stem the tide. Psychedelic music promoter Jerry Kruz recalls that Snidanko went all out at a 1966 Steve Miller show at Kruz’s venue, the Afterthought.
“He had all the traffic stopped on (Fourth Avenue), it was like a movie scene,” said Kruz. “I came out in front and the whole street was blocked off, he had barriers at each end of the street, at Arbutus and Yew. Abe came in with a procession of cops behind him, Abe and (his cohort Const.) Brown.
This would not occur in any decent civilization. This is plain barbarism. Why do people glorify America is beyond me. The USA is disintegrating on itself inch by inch by the actions of its own petty government officials. Yeah USA, you’re a real nation of winners. For sure. Disgusting. Let’s hope the prosecutor and judge are Christians so they can go to the hell they believe in.
“Looking at the bigger picture, Piland’s case may serve as an indictment of a justice system and a pharmaceutical industry that will go to great lengths to ensure the truth about cannabis is never told. After all, Piland is a medical doctor who gave up his medical practice to pursue a lifetime of research into cannabis.”
Prosecutors in North Carolina used exaggerated claims to sentence a retired doctor to over 18 years for using cannabis to help his autistic son.
The doctor’s charges were based on the discovery of a couple of old prescriptions that belonged to his deceased parents, and 58 grams of poppy seeds.
The daughter of a doctor who was sentenced to 18 years in prison after he was reported for using cannabis to help his autistic son, is now speaking out about how the state went after her father and ensured that he received the maximum sentence.
To highlight how corrupt the system is, around the same time the doctor was sentenced to 18 years for helping people with a plant, a deputy who admitted to despicable acts against an innocent woman received no time behind bars.
Former deputy Robert Retford, with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department, was arrested last November on charges of sexual assault. His alleged victim was apparently seeking help from the deputy when she said he beat her, raped her and defecated on her, and then made her drink his urine. This month, Retford pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the woman and will not spend a single day in jail.
The blue privilege plea deal was negotiated last May, and for admitting to the heinous crimes against his victim, he was only sentenced to six months probation — no jail.
The Free Thought Project first reported on the story of Dr. Gordon Piland III in March. He was arrested after a school social worker reported that he was giving cannabis-infused goat milk to his autistic son. When conducting a follow-up search of Piland’s home, police found marijuana plants growing in the backyard, two bottles of decades-old prescription pills, and a small bag of poppy seeds, which was a gift from a horticulturist.
In an exclusive interview with TFTP, Piland’s daughter Lucy Snow claimed the prosecution used the fact that Piland was in possession of his deceased parents’ prescriptions, and his property’s proximity to an unmarked daycare, as impetus to charge him with trafficking in heroin. As a result, Piland was sentenced to 18-24 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
As we previously reported:
“Monroe Gordon Piland III (69) has lived an amazing life according to some estimates. In the late 1960s early 70s, Piland served as a naval officer, during the Vietnam war. Upon his return to the states, he earned a degree in nutrition from The University of California – Berkeley, and later a medical degree from the prestigious Wake Forest University, formerly a Southern Baptist university. He completed his medical residency in Elizabeth City, NC, and was a board certified medical doctor from 1979-1984.”
While Piland has managed to keep his love for cannabis under the radar since in the 80s, he was going through a tenuous custody battle over his autistic son. His son’s mother was not a cannabis advocate, yet Piland would offer his son goat’s milk infused with cannabis as treatment for his behavioral and cognitive deficits. When the school’s social worker discovered the fact, she sent police to his home to investigate.
As TFTP has reported, many parents—including some politicians—are now giving their children cannabis for autism with astounding results.
That home visit led to the medical doctor’s arrest and conviction in March. At trial, Piland didn’t stand a chance. Snow said her dad’s first mistake was to represent himself in court and take on Assistant District Attorney Alex Bass head-on.
“He was super content to go to court to share his knowledge of medical cannabis and let the chips fall where they may,” Snow said. “But, unfortunately, he couldn’t find a lawyer that wasn’t intimidated by Bass’s trumped up charges and that was willing to fight for him, so he resorted to representing himself, which had disastrous consequences.”
Snow said that instead of charging Piland with possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor in the State of North Carolina, Bass decided to charge him with trafficking heroin. Here is what Snow said was found by police when they searched Piland’s home:
“What was found: A 2009 half-full bottle of Percocet/Oxycodone in my grandmother, Lillian Piland’s name, that my dad had failed to dispose of/recycle properly. A single full bottle of Duramorph, belonging to my grandfather, but this wasn’t a charge or used in court as the bottle was full. A few poppy seeds were gifted from my uncle, my mom’s brother, who is a landscape architect and gardener.”
According to Snow, Bass used the Percocet belonging to Piland’s deceased mother and the fact that a home daycare was located nearby to throw the full weight of the law against her father. She said the fact that he was in possession of several pounds of marijuana was never presented in court, making the cannabis activist seem like a heroin dealer and not the curative shaman that he was.
“I don’t know why my dad kept the old pharmaceutical pills, but he tended to be kind of a pack rat or just not be bothered by the little things,” Snow said, noting that one of the key pieces of evidence used against her father was something he didn’t realize he had. “Dad says he didn’t even remember having them as they were found in the back of a drawer.”
Snow said Dr. Piland was naive when he went to trial thinking, that if he just told the truth about his cannabis activism, no jury would convict him.
“After the search and seizure of his house, I think my dad really thought he had a chance to lay his life’s passion and work all out there. I think similar to say, Caitlyn Jenner, somewhere inside he just didn’t want to hide anymore, knowing what he knows and being the ripe age of 70. He was super content to go to court to share his knowledge of medical cannabis and let the chips fall where they may.”
After the prosecution presented its case, and without his own legal representation, the jury took less than 30 minutes to convict Dr. Piland of trafficking heroin—presumably due in part to his possession of 58 grams of poppy seeds. Here’s what about twice that amount looks like:
Snow told The Free Thought Project that she wishes her father had been given a plea deal, but said the prosecutor knew he could easily get a conviction, due to the fact that the senior citizen was choosing to represent himself. As a result, the physician’s daughter now views her father’s conviction with disdain, and especially resents ADA Bass who she says lied about her father and mischaracterized him.
“DA Alex Bass stated my dad had ‘a large cache of dangerous and highly addictive opioid drugs for sale and distribution’ and he knows this is a lie. The truth is only a SINGLE nearly decade old forgotten pharmaceutical bottle belonging to my deceased grandmother and the happenstance of living near an unmarked daycare was used as evidence for sending my non-violent father to prison for life.”
The teacher and daughter of a marijuana activist now accuses prosecutor Bass of sending an innocent man to prison and says he knew full well Piland was no heroin trafficker.
“Bass’s decisions were not only immoral, but go against many standards that Prosecutors are sworn to uphold,” Snow said. “He knows good and well, without a doubt, as does anyone who looks at the evidence, that opium or heroin selling, trafficking, or usage was not occurring.”
Snow said the punishment does not fit the crime, and she pointed to other cases where people were convicted of trafficking in heroin but received much softer sentences.
Piland’s life story might have been written differently had he resided in a state other than North Carolina. To date, there are 29 U.S. states that have legalized medical marijuana in some form. In fact, in some of those other states, Piland may very well have been able to serve as a certifying doctor for medical marijuana, given the fact that he once held board certification as a practicing MD. But he chose to live in the state he loved, and now has to pay a heavy price for dabbling in marijuana.
Looking at the bigger picture, Piland’s case may serve as an indictment of a justice system and a pharmaceutical industry that will go to great lengths to ensure the truth about cannabis is never told. After all, Piland is a medical doctor who gave up his medical practice to pursue a lifetime of research into cannabis. Unfortunately, anyone who may want to glean from what he knows will have to go and visit him in the Marion, NC Correctional Institute.