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TOPIC: police brutality


Beware: Robot Police Dogs May Be Coming To Your City, Training Still Required

Numerous cities have acquired dog-like robots for policing. Researchers say the lack of transparency and other practical and ethical questions are worrying.

In late May, after months of debate, the Los Angeles City Council approved the donation of a four-legged, doglike robot to the nation’s third-largest police department. The approval was granted at a public meeting that was interrupted at times by shouting, applause, banners such as “No Robot Dogs,” and the ejection of disruptive protesters, according to The Los Angeles Times.

In the end, the council voted 8 to 4 to accept the nearly $280,000 in-kind gift from the Los Angeles Police Foundation of the robot manufactured by Boston Dynamics, a Massachusetts-based robotics firm that is the global leader in developing quadruped robots for policing and surveillance.

The Boston Dynamics model given to the LAPD — named "Spot" by its manufacturer — is roughly the size of a golden retriever, weighing about 70 pounds and standing about 2 feet tall when walking. The robot is designed to be either remote controlled or fully autonomous. It can climb stairs and open doors. The robot can be customized to detect hazardous substances like carbon monoxide or some combustible gases. The various payloads available include sensors, cameras, and microphones, and can be customized with thermal imaging, among other features.

The Los Angeles City Council’s move to accept the donation will require quarterly reports on the deployment and use of the robot. Its sign-off was necessary as a result of a recent state law — Assembly Bill 481 — that requires police departments to seek approval and outline use policies before acquiring military-grade hardware.

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This Happened — August 18: Steve Biko Is Arrested

Steve Biko, a leader of the Black Consciousness Movement, is arrested on this day in 1977 in South Africa.

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Are Police Dogs Actually Throwing Officers Off The Scent?

In 2020, Salt Lake City abruptly terminated its K9 unit for pursuing and apprehending suspects. Not much changed. In fact, a lot of the evidence around using police dogs is sketchy, and the practice has worrying connections with racial terror.

The 911 call came early the morning of April 24, 2020: A man was reportedly at the home where his estranged wife lived, violating the protective order she had against him. Police arrived, spotlighting the backyard with flashlights. Jeffery Ryans, a 36-year-old Black man, stood outside smoking a cigarette.

According to body camera footage, officer Nickolas Pearce ordered him to the ground and warned that if Ryans didn’t comply, he’d release his dog, K9 Tuco. As Pearce and the other arriving officers approached and Ryans dropped to the ground, Pearce commanded the dog to attack: “Hit! Hit!”

“I’m on the ground,” Ryans shouted. “Why are you biting me?”

He continued yelling and screaming, the footage shows. When police cuffed Ryans, face down on the ground, Pearce urged Tuco to release its grip.

Ryans’ arrest was largely unreported until, months later and in the midst of Black Lives Matter protests, The Salt Lake Tribune published a story, along with the video footage. The original 911 call, it turned out, was less than straightforward. According to a civilian review board report, Ryans had erroneously believed the restraining order had been lifted; his estranged wife had invited him to the house; a child called 911.

More recently, on July 25, 2023, a police officer in Ohio in the U.S. released a dog on a black truck driver who was trying to surrender. But research has cast serious doubt on whether police dogs are actually effective.

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Moscow Drone Attacks, Palestinians Flee, L.A. Supermoon

👋 નમસ્તે*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Russia reports drone attacks on Moscow as Putin takes part in his first international event since the Wagner mutiny, thousands of Palestinians are fleeing the Jenin refugee camp, and enter Threads, Meta’s response to Twitter. Meanwhile, German daily Die Welt gets exclusive access to the production floor of the armament Rheinmetall factory, which is running at Cold War levels to supply Ukrainian forces.

[*Namaste - Gujarati, India]

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Grégoire Poussielgue

Why The Riots In France May Push Macron Further To The Right

The riots and looting continue after the police shooting death of a 17-year-old in the outskirts of Paris. Already embattled over labor reforms, French President Emmanuel Macron's hopes to make peace with center-left allies are getting pushed aside by demands for law and order.

– Analysis –

PARIS – After surviving multiple strikes and street protests this spring against his reform to raise France's retirement age from 62 to 64, Emmanuel Macron was counting on something of a truce. The French President, who was reelected last year on a centrist platform, told aides to plan on a period of 100 days, leading up to the July 14th Bastille Day national holiday, to bring calm to the country and kick-start the projects of his second term that had been slow to take off.

Any such plans have been shattered by urban riots and a sudden surge of violence following the death of young Nahel M last Tuesday, killed by a police officer at a traffic stop.

For the past five days, the riots have continued, accompanied by looting, fires and attacks on public buildings. According to the Association of French Mayors, 150 mayors’ offices or other municipal buildings have been attacked since Tuesday, an unprecedented number.

The riots and looting have affected not only low-income neighborhoods on the outskirts but also the upscale centers of major cities, such as Marseille. With 45,000 police officers deployed every night, the government is implementing an unprecedented mobilization that even surpasses the measures taken during the 2005 riots.

This firmness seems to be paying off. A slight and fragile calm was observed the past two nights. However, the situation is far from being under control. A new threshold of violence was crossed Saturday night with the attack on the residence of Vincent Jeanbrun, the mayor of L’Haÿ-Les-Roses, near Paris, with the intention of setting his house on fire while his wife and two young children were inside.

Macron’s schedule has been disrupted with one urgent priority: restoring calm. After returning earlier than planned from the European summit in Brussels, he then had to cancel his state visit to Berlin. Last March, social tensions related to the pension reform had already led to the cancellation of the visit to France by King Charles III of England.

The government is doing everything possible to avoid giving the impression that the situation is slipping out of control despite the shocking images circulating on social media.

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In The News
Cécile Cornudet

French City Outskirts Ablaze, Again: What's Different From 2005

Small, mobile and organized groups of young people full of violence and hatred for the police: an emerging movement a far cry from the "banlieues" riots in 2005.


PARIS — In recent years, social unrest in France has taken on new forms, and colors, almost relegating violence in the urban outskirts to the background. "Red caps", "yellow jackets" and "black blocs" made the headlines, while the banlieues have seemed almost quiet since the 2005 riots sparked by the deaths of two teenagers who were hiding from the police. Sure, since then there have been plenty of clashes, but no riots, even during the strict lockdown in 2020.

But the powder keg was still there, and an all-too-familiar spark lit the fuse: police violence against a young man from the urban periphery. On Tuesday, an officer shot dead Nahel M., an unarmed 17-year-old of North African descent at a traffic stop north of Paris. Unrest erupted, with no signs of abating: According to the French interior ministry, 667 arrests have been made across France so far, as violence continues in Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Pau, Toulouse and Lille. Rioters faced off with police, as buildings and vehicles were torched and stores looted.

But some things have changed since 2005. Images posted on social networks, for instance, acted as an accelerant. "It all took off very quickly and very powerfully", noted a ministerial adviser. A single video of the incident — showing officers shooting Nahel M., in his car at point blank — has been seen and shared millions of times, spreading anger and fanning fury.

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Ian T. Adams and Seth W. Stoughton

Tyre Nichols And The Systemic Problem Of Elite Police Units — A Brief History

The officers charged in the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols were not your everyday uniformed patrol officers.

Rather, they were part of an elite squad: Memphis Police Department’s SCORPION team. A rather tortured acronym for “Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods,” SCORPION is a crime suppression unit – that is, officers detailed specifically to prevent, detect and interrupt violent crime by proactively using stops, frisks, searches and arrests. Such specialized units are common in forces across the U.S. and tend to rely on aggressive policing tactics.

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Sabotage, Desertions, Gamers? Why It's Getting Harder For Iran To Squash Protests

Faced with the resilience of the national protests, Iran's security forces are now facing unusual acts of sabotage on state installations, and clerical authorities have started to wonder which of their loyalist forces can be firmly relied on still to defend the regime.

Ten weeks into the nationwide anti-state uprising in Iran, the regime's security agencies face a crisis driven by four key factors: 1. Losses among the ranks through disobedience, desertion or negligence on the streets; 2. insufficient forces because of casualties from clashes; 3. rising number of acts of subversion and sabotage, especially targeting strategic installations; 4. cyber-attacks and security traps laid from abroad.

At the same time, the Iranian regime is facing an apparent change of tactics among protesters compared to previous rounds of unrest, which is particular to the new generations involved in this movement. Senior officials of the Revolutionary Guards corps — the body effectively coordinating the repression — say the protesters are mostly aged between 15 and 25 years.

It is a kind of Gen-Z brigade working with older and experienced protesters who led previous rounds of protests in 2009, and especially 2017 and 2019 when public unrest reemerged with particular vigor.

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Firoozeh Nordstrom

Is Elon Watching? How Chaos At Twitter Could Impact Iranian Protesters

Two anonymous Iranian Twitter users spoke about their hopes that Iran's protests could hasten the end of the unpopular regime, and what Elon Musk's takeover of the the platform could mean for them.

The world has been paying special attention to the scope and endurance of anti-state protests in Iran that erupted in September after the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. A key to maintaining momentum and attention has been social media, with users and activists eager to stay in contact and communicate around what many in Iran hope will be the movement to end the 40-year Islamist reign.

Social media's role in resisting oppressive regimes dates back to the protests of the Arab Spring, and more than 10 years later, Twitter in particular (with the option to have an anonymous account) is being used again in Iran.

However, since Elon Musk's takeover of the platform, serious concerns have been raised about whether the platform will survive. Ciaran O’Connor, senior analyst at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, said in an interview that "If Twitter was to ‘go in the morning’, let's say, all of this—all of the firsthand evidence of atrocities or potential war crimes, and all of this potential evidence—would simply disappear."

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Lina Attalah

Yes, Iran's Protests Are Different This Time — But How Will It End?

Mass demonstrations and civil disobedience continue to take place in Iran, shaking both its ruling regime and the world. But beyond the headlines, gauging what effects they will really have is a trickier exercise. Mada Masr asked Iranian political scientist Fatemeh Sadeghi about the biggest acts of civil disobedience Iran has seen in decades.

CAIRO — Iranian protesters have continued to take to the streets of their country six weeks since 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was killed by the country’s morality police after they arrested her for “unsuitable” attire.

Protests have spread across the country, with girls in schools, students in universities and labor groups in workplaces galvanized by the movement. Amnesty International reported that military bodies instructed province commanders to “severely confront” the protesters. Rights groups estimate that over 200 people have been killed, including at least 23 children, while thousands have been arrested.

On Oct. 15, a deadly fire broke out in Tehran’s Evin Prison, known to hold human rights activists, journalists, students, lawyers and other opposition figures, raising questions about the circumstances behind the incident. Eight prisoners died, according to official statements, but human rights groups estimate the casualties to be higher.

In this conversation with independent Egyptian media Mada Masr, Fatemeh Sadeghi, a political scientist focused on political thought and gender studies and living between Tehran and London, where she is a research associate at the UCL Institute for Global Prosperity, charts the protests’ evolution over the past month and the state’s response to it.

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Firouzeh Nordstrom

Mahsa Amini, Martyr Of An Iranian Regime Designed To Abuse Women

The 22-year-old is believed to have been beaten to death at a Tehran police station last week after "morality police" had reprimanded her clothing. The case has sparked the nation's outrage. But as ordinary Iranians testify, such beatings, torture and a home brand of misogyny are hallmarks of the 40-year Islamic Republic of Iran.


TEHRAN — The death in Iran of a 22-year-old Mahsa Amini — after she was arrested by the so-called "morality police" — has unleashed another wave of protests, as thousands of Iranians vent their fury against an intrusive and violent regime. Indeed, as tragically exceptional as the circumstances appear, the reaction reflects the daily reality of abuse by authorities, especially directed toward women.

Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian girl visiting Tehran with relatives, was detained by the regime's morality patrols on Sept. 13, apparently for not respecting the Islamic dress code that includes proper use of the hijab headscarf. Amini was declared dead two or three days after being taken into custody. Officials say she fainted and died, and blamed a preexisting heart condition. But neither her family nor anyone else in Iran believe that, as can be seen in the mounting protests that have now left at least three dead.

For Amini's was hardly the first arbitrary arrest, or the first suspected death in custody under Iran's Islamic regime.

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Juan Pablo Vargas

Raid On Gay Sauna In Bolivia Reveals The Many Faces Of Homophobia

Police raided a gay sauna. The police's actions — and the following media storm – were violent in more ways than one.


Every LGBTQ+ person has experienced the fear of kissing their partner on the street. Many of us have been beaten, insulted or given reproachful looks for doing so, as if a show of affection was a perverse act.

✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

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