Chevron vs. Fullerton

I’ll keep this simple.  Chevron is a lowlife among corporate miscreants.  A dark oilstain on the free market; a corrupted, taxpayer-subsidized payoff and extortion specialist with expertise in despoiling the globe and bullying anyone who challenges them.  They are responsible for disastrous oils spills and damages to EcuadorBrazilNigeria and elsewhere, resulting in loss of life and mind-boggling environmental devastation.  They have also been implicated for human rights abuses in despotic states such as Burma. Even by oil company standards, they kinda suck.

Now, you might say, sure, they’re the bottom-feeders of transnational corporate-oil-trash, and probable warmongers (with a tanker named “The Condoleeza Rice”) but still, what about their property rights?  Good question. Let’s look at Ecuador, where Chevron fouled other people’s property so much that they lost an $18 billion judgment in court.  You violate others’ property rights, you pay.  Unless you’re Chevron. Refusing to pay, they instead filed suit against the indigenous people of Ecuador and their lawyer for racketeering.  Pollute, deny, avoid, bully.  That’s Chevron’s way of handling your demand for the fair treatment of YOUR property rights.

We respect all property rights. Except yours.

So here’s a company with NO respect for property rights, including ours in the US.  In Richmond CA they were recently placed under criminal investigation for intentionally routing pollution around sensors. Pollution that travels into people’s homes and makes them sick. But even psychopaths are guaranteed property rights.  Well fine, they can have their property rights. After all, nobody is trying to seize their property and they can keep drilling for oil and gas as long as they want.  But their property rights to land zoned for oil and gas drilling do not give them the right to build 700 homes on it and call it a park, any more than I have a right to say … open a public Gin-bar on my porch and call it a rehab center.

Mind if I park my oil rig here? “Park.” Get it?

Speaking of everybody’s favorite cocktail base, guess who among our fine crop of candidates supports Yes on W? None other than purported “liberal” and breastfeeding advocate Jan Flory. Evidently police union support and vapid Facebook posts are insufficient resources to counter her well-deserved shortage of voter appeal. So might as well hit up Chevron.

If Chevron’s plan was really in the public interest, would it be necessary to spend $1.3 million dollars in cash on trying to secure the vote? Some befuddled citizens and politicians are agog with the prospect of the oil-soaked carrots being dangled by the plunderous petroleum-peddling plutocrats. Fullerton teachers are particularly ginned up by the prospect of a “Nature Center” they can plan worthless field trips to, where students can learn all about what caving in to special interests looks like as they try to locate the scant vegetation popping up between the expensive and potentially PCB-laced tract homes. The bribe offered to the Fullerton School District (“free money! Gimme!”), as well as the greed of the non-profit moneygrabbing sector shows special interests only too willing to trade their “green” integrity for a little bit of the other green Chevron bilks from the US taxpayer. The fact is however, that city analyses indicate no major new revenue coming in from this development. The schools get some cash, greatly offset in the long-term by having to serve even more students. Nobody else basically gets a dime.

You like me! You really like me!

Greenwashed Yes on W ads are all over the place – on Youtube, Facebook, email, via phone call – everywhere but in most people’s yards since the average citizen has an instinctive sense not to trust professional grifters. They realize that Measure W is a joke. No real park compared to what is possible, just a few lonely ditches surrounding the concreting of North Orange County’s last open space, an already existing park, and a “Nature Center.” Unneeded houses on contaminated oil-lands. Traffic. Dangerous and toxic air pollution (a Chevron specialty) and infrastructural, water, and education costs to a city that can ill afford them. “But think about the children! Doesn’t anybody care about the children?”

Yes, we care about the damn children. Some of us even have some and would like to leave them a bit of undeveloped nature as a legacy. We’ll be saying no to the oil plutocracy’s local con job. No on W!

Now sue me, Chevron.

I Don’t ♥ Fullerton Police

I am still struggling to get over the images from last week’s city council meeting in which one city councilman donned an “I ♥ Fullerton Police” t-shirt while another declared proudly “I support the Fullerton Police Department.” Another incongruous image also hard to clear from my mind: a city council chambers and adjoining room spilling over with people sporting the same t-shirts with the same baffling message.

Mr. Chafee and Mayor Quirk-Silva, I hope you don’t mind me telling you why I find these statements so inexplicable.

The Fullerton Police Department is an institution – an organization which hires individuals to enforce laws. In the last 16 months or so the number of reports of incidents of police misconduct and resulting lawsuits grew exponentially. The Kelly Thomas killing represented the brutality and savagery of out-of-control police, not merely locally, but globally. The brutally damaged face of Kelly dying in the hospital became an iconic image showing the depth of depravity to which law enforcement in our country has stooped. This was then followed by report after report of other victims of Fullerton police brutality: assaults, battery, false imprisonment, sexual assault, false arrest, perjury. Few if any of these crimes by the police were prosecuted, as if police officers in the City of Fullerton were far above the laws they ostensibly enforce. It wasn’t that long ago.  OC Weekly did a whole cover story on “The Bullies in Blue.” Do you remember? You should. Your police force was the shame of the nation.

I’m sure you remember the name Kelly Thomas, because the citizens have insisted that you don’t forget. Do you remember the following names?  Veth MamAndrew Trevor ClarkeEdward QuinonezEmmanuel Martinez.Christopher Spicer Janku. How about the nameless victims of Albert Rincon, Vincent Mater, John Cross, and many others whom you “support” and now publically ♥?

Mr. Chafee and Ms. Quirk-Silva, do you know there were others brutalized by the police who were too afraid to talk, even to us? That they told us stories of being randomly assaulted but refused to go public because of fear that they would be falsely accused and charged if they did? How many others are out there, severely assaulted, beaten, and tortured by “our” police?

These crimes were committed by individual members of the Fullerton police, but the lack of investigations, adequate disciplinary measures (would anything less than firing be appropriate when you look at the details of these cases?), or reports on what the department leadership is going to do to prevent these things from happening again has NOT been forthcoming. All we have as evidence that the department has supposedly reformed – righted these wrongs, fired the brutalizers, implemented mechanisms to ensure that none of this can happen again – is their word. Is that word really good enough, given the severity of the crimes?

We need some type of law enforcement in Fullerton, but we need law enforcement that does not commit harm against the public. This is not a political stance, this is a public right – as basic and elementary a right as we have. The public’s right to safety from its own police comes before loyalty to an institution of government, before political alliances, before personal friendships with officers or officials, before the considerations of endorsements or campaign contributions or ideology or anything else. As elected officials you must serve the public and serving us means protecting us – in this case, from our police department who have shown that they are fully capable of inflicting grievous harm upon vulnerable citizens.

I do not understand how one can in good conscience embrace, love, or unconditionally support an institution that has a history of violently committing harm against the public. Voting your conscience or your beliefs on the issue of soliciting a bid from a rival law enforcement institution is one thing. Expressing love and support for an institution that has repeatedly hurt innocent members of the public, in front of a room swarming with police officers and their supporters, is a slap in the face to the victims and to the citizens of your city.

Unity Versus Justice

I spent a long time listening to the comments at our City Council meeting on August 7 on getting an RFP from OCSD.  There were some good remarks pro and con.  But I also heard a lot of the following:

“Support your Community!”  “Strength in Unity!” “Unite, don’t Divide!” “We need to Come Together!”

Listening to this I was struck that the people offering these platitudes didn’t seem to understand one of the most fundamental characteristics of  a real democracy.  While I hate to quote from former Defense Secretary and accomplished pathological liar Donald Rumsfeld, he did once blurt out the truth at a press conference when he said “democracy is messy.”

The irony of course was that Rumsfeld said this in defense of the chaos he had just created in starting a very undemocratic invasion of another country.  But, democracy is messy, and this messiness is necessary.  Disagreement and debate are also necessary.  Seeking information, such as an RFP, is necessary.  And yes, prospective city council people and Fullerton middle-of-the-roaders,  anger is necessary.  It can be misdirected and incoherent, but in the presence of great injustice anger is a sign of compassion, not of hate. Anger is also one of the few options the powerless have to express their need for justice.  So questioning the Fullerton Police Department’s entire existence may create division between the public and the police (though randomly beating and killing members of the public arguably creates a lot more division).  But so what?  In a democracy, healing divisions between law enforcement (or one law enforcement organization to be precise) and the public is not even close to the highest goal of government.

The penultimate goal of the justice system and those who administer it should always and invariably be justice.   It would be easy to have a community which thought of themselves as unified, but tolerated injustice. Think of a country which experiences unity as it unjustly attacks and wages war against another country; or enslaves a race; or discriminates against certain classes of individuals.  Think of unity as the rallying cry for totalitarian regimes past and present.  Unity and community without justice is nothing more than the acceptance of injustice and oppression.

This is why the appropriate sentiment for Fullerton, or Anaheim, or Downey, or any community where law enforcement has been manifestly unjust is not “let’s all unite together” but “no justice no peace.”  This simple slogan reminds those in power that  justice is the primary goal, and there can be no peace until justice is achieved. If peace comes before justice, the likely result is that there will be no motivation to right past wrongs and to ensure future justice. “Peace” is desirable only once the conditions for peace have been established, and the primary condition is justice.

Another phrase thrown around a lot is “compromise.”  Compromise is essential in any form of human relationships, including politics. But there are a few things which cannot be compromised, and the main one of these is justice.  Remember, we were not too long ago faced with a situation in which police drove around Fullerton, randomly pulled people over, beat them savagely and sadistically, and then falsely arrested them. What sort of compromise could there be in cases like this?  That police officers are given a mild talking-to instead of being terminated and prosecuted?  What kind of compromise can we forge with those who would bludgeon an unarmed and innocent man like Kelly Thomas to death, or those who would shield the men who did?

It is apparent that the coded language of injustice in Fullerton is now built around the following words or phrases: “Unity.” “Coming Together.” “Compromise.” “Support.” “Community.”When you hear these words used in the context of our city be forewarned – someone or some group is conspiring to make sure that justice is not served, so that your rights will continue to be violated with impunity while those in positions of power and privilege are able to keep them.  I don’t want to hear these words used by our elected officials or candidates for public office.  I don’t want the “healing to begin.” I want to hear the following words:

Accountability. Responsibility. And most importantly – JUSTICE.

Or else?  No peace.

What can a police chief do?

Throughout the entire ongoing Fullerton police brutality-fest/fiasco, we’ve been led to believe that a big part of the problem is that officers are protected and shielded and there is nothing anybody can do about it.  It is said that they are shielded by their own, and by a set of laws and court cases which protect them: the Police Officer’s Bill of Rights and associated court decisions

What hasn’t been discussed much is what is actually possible to do.  Let’s say a citizen filed a complaint against the police because of the brutality of an arresting officer:  a Tong or a Thayer or a Hampton or a Ramos or a Cicinelli or… you get the idea, plenty to choose from.

What happens to that complaint?  In Fullerton it gets buried in an officer’s personnel file unless Internal Affairs made the determination that it was grounds for criminal prosecution.  Just think how often that must happen.

But what, if anything, can anybody in a supervisory position do when faced with misconduct by their officers?  Apparently you can fire them.  At least according to Anaheim Chief of Police John Welter.

See, reportedly under Welter when officers get out of line, by say not being very respectful to the citizenry, they are disciplined. “Every time they lose their cool and insult somebody or don’t act professional, we’ll hold them accountable. We discipline them. I’ve terminated probably 12 to 15 officers since I’ve been here.”

Trying to set aside my skepticism for a minute let’s take Chief Welter at his word.  If Welter can do it, why couldn’t Sellers, Hamilton, or Hughes fire every rogue cop in the Fullerton police department? Every cop guilty of abusing and harassing innocent members of the public?  Every cop who roughed up a prisoner just for fun?  Every officer who has harassed a female, been guilty of racism, beaten up someone they perceived as a “bum” or a “gang banger”, given someone a “screen test”?  Every one of the cops who beat Kelly Thomas to death? And maybe even a few cop blog commenters who  do little besides insult the public and are about as professional as a troop of stoned baboons?

I guess any of our chiefs could have.  They just didn’t want to.

Now, I don’t actually believe that Chief Welter means a word he says.  But let’s go ahead and hold him to the standard he claims to have.   Better start doing some more firing Chiefs.  And yes, that goes for Anaheim AND Fullerton.

Who is going to fix the Fullerton Police Department?

And how are they going to do it?

There are a lot of things wrong in Fullerton and a lot of issues at stake in this race.  But one looms over them all.

What are we going to do about our assault-happy cops?

The Kelly Thomas murder was just the culmination of an escalating pattern of brutality and sadistic violence committed by our city enforcers of the law.  This is not exaggeration or casting aspersion as has been documented on this blog with precision and accuracy.  These are not all official facts ; they are all well-documented facts.

Unfortunately here is how the system works.  When a cop decides that for the fun of it he’s going to slam your head into a concrete wall or into the pavement with all his force and then arrest you for Resisting Arrest, you can file a form about it.  That form gets “investigated.”  The results of the investigation are minimal, the officer is usually exonerated, or the complaint is closed without comment.  The record of the cop who did it is unavailable for review by anybody but the Chief or an attorney who needs this information in a court of law.   What we know for a fact this means is that any random police officer can build up a record of brutalizing and seriously injuring random citizens for any reason with virtual impunity.

Also, there is the “respect” thing.  Numerous anecdotes confirm that pre-Kelly Thomas days, giving a Fullerton police officer a little bit of lip meant you were giving up your civil right not to be battered into a bloody pulp and thrown in a cell for good measure.   Because of course people who would do something like that to their fellow human beings because they feel disrespected are so deserving of our respect.  Or something like that.

That’s the FPD.

What I want to know from our fearless candidates is: what are you  going to do about this?  And how are you going to do it?

More Thayer Thuggery

We received some interesting correspondence after our last report on Officer Perry Thayer.  Others wanted to share their experiences with one of the FPD’s “enforcers.”  This particular reader wished to stay anonymous.

The story begins when Fullerton Police were dispatched to his mother’s home after she had threatened to commit suicide.  Uh-oh.  Our reader tells his story:

I arrived at the house I spent my life growing up in, with 5 or 6 officers at the scene peering in through the windows and garage. I quickly exited my car, and identified myself as her son, with a key to open the house.

They ask me if there are any firearms or weapons inside the house, to which I replied no. I also advised the group of officers to stay outside because they are the last thing she wants to see. Keep in mind this whole conversation took place as I was walking up the driveway to the front door with keys in hand.  

I asked them to stay outside one more time as I was entering the house. I closed the door behind me, keeping my focus inside the house. Before the door closed all the way behind me, I felt it hit me in the back and arm with an officer charging through it. He immediately put me in a choke hold, which completely shut off my supply of oxygen, while rapidly repeating “PUT YOUR HANDS BEHIND YOUR BACK” 4 to 5 times in succession. I complied and put my hands behind my back, as my contact popped out of my eye as he tightened his hold.

I was put in handcuffs and taken outside of the house as the officers rushed in. I could hear my Mom’s confusion as to why they were there, and how they were making it worse. She had no idea I was there or that I opened the door.

I asked Officer Thayer why he attacked me. He then pointed to his finger stating I had “slammed the door on me and the other officers”. He told me to look at his finger, where I didn’t see any injuries. Obviously his DAR was on, making him look pathetic as he was trying to gain some kind of evidence from his recorder. I really couldn’t believe a person like this existed, especially in a police uniform.

He then took me to the police station where another officer asked Thayer if I was “another raver kid.” I didn’t know being Korean made me a “raver” kid. Hell, I’ve never in my 23 years of life been to one. I was booked and forced to wait in a room as Thayer was bragging about putting me in a chokehold, and making this whiny, high-pitched voice to imitate my mom. Officer Thayer then opened the door to ask, “did you pass out?” then closed the door. I asked the booking officer what I was being charged for as he was taking me to my cell. 2 counts of assault on a peace officer and resisting arrest. Luckily I made $2500 bail an hour after, but that was more of a miracle in itself to obtain.

I had trouble breathing for a month, as my neck was sore, and I also had a bruised eye. I had lost complete faith in a lot of aspects of life, and was always angry to the point where it affected my social life.

Unnecessarily brutal treatment of in this case, not even a suspect, but merely a potentially suicidal woman’s son, compounded of course by false arrest.  Protecting and serving us again Officer Thayer?

Our reader continues:

After a slew of court dates, personal character reports from employees and church members, I plead guilty to disturbing the peace.  To be honest, the reason why I didn’t want to fight it in court was due to my unfamiliarity with the court system and the fear of more court dates in which I could lose and have that on my record.

I didn’t file a civilian complaint. I don’t know the reason that compelled me not to. Figured I never wanted to step inside that building again.

(On Thayer): Honestly, what kind of a person reacts this way to a potential suicidal situation, in where they could do the most harm, and where I could have resolved the whole situation peacefully? I can’t explain how bound and powerless I felt as a human being in society, or more importantly as a son. Though my charges were knocked down to disturbing the peace, my biggest regret now was not exposing it at the time.

Officer Perry Thayer (artistic depiction)

It seems understandable that after being abused and charged with imaginary crimes for merely trying to prevent a distraught elder parent from killing themselves, one would be reluctant to deal with that police force again. But check out this bit of information:

I’d like to add that during my time in the room while I was waiting to be booked, after Thayer’s conversation with the booking officer, a female officer of upper ranking (apparently a Sergeant who was at the scene) replied to him, “that’s what you’re here for” as it sounded like she pats him on the back to congratulate him.

“That’s what you’re here for.”  To randomly beat, choke, batter, and falsely arrest our citizens?  With supervisors like this, who can be surprised by the ever-increasing reports of the FPD’s off-the-chart thuggishness and violence?

With each new incident, the view that the Fullerton Police Department has gone out of its way to encourage its officers to commit wanton acts of brutality against the public is becoming less of a conspiracy theory and more of an evidentiary certainty.

The Joyride from Hell: Another Victim of Fullerton Police Violence Comes Forward

Obey me and you won't get hurt. Well, scratch that. You're gonna get hurt anyway...

The systemic pattern of abuse that defines the Fullerton Police Department is well-established.  But the allegations detailed in this newly emerging case might give even hardened FFFF readers pause. There seems to be no end to accounts of thuggish, sadistic Fullerton cops getting their sick jollies by brutalizing innocent citizens.

Fullerton College student and Fullerton resident Christopher Spicer Janku, 23 at the time, was with 4 friends around 1:30 AM on the night of August 17, 2008 when the car one of them was driving was pulled over for purportedly running a stop sign on Wilshire Avenue, in Downtown Fullerton.  Chris tells his story:

All rookie looking officers who were looking for fun, I’ve never heard so much rude language from any cop. They arrested me on false charges of being drunk in public, (even though they wouldn’t give me a sobriety test even after I asked them to give me one because they knew I wasn’t intoxicated). I was sitting on the curb with my hands behind my back, a cop came over to put hand cuffs on me, he told me to put my hands behind my back, but they already were.  Before I could even say “officer my hands are already crossed behind my back” the officer grabbed my neck and slammed my face into the curb while yelling out “stop resisting!”  Another officer grabbed me by the legs and dragged me by the knees, shredding my knee caps.

There were five officers at the scene. The gangleader and arresting office was one Officer Perry Thayer.  Janku goes on to describe his torture at the hands of this dedicated public servant:

Another officer then TOOK HIS BOOT and slammed it on my head, pinning it between the curb and used it as leverage to squeeze pressure on my head. I HONESTLY THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO DIE, I WAS SCREAMING PLEASE STOP I’M NOT RESISTING, I THOUGHT MY HEAD WAS GOING TO CAVE IN. I still have migraines to this day. another cop came over and dropped kneed me in the back. Everybody watching was in awe, THEY KEPT YELLING OUT “PLEASE STOP, HE’S NOT RESISTING!”

He (Thayer) was the one who slammed me face first into a curb and then put my head in the gutter face first with his boot on my head.  He purposely put my face into a gutter full of disgusting dirty gutter water to the point where I was almost choking on it, and pushed down on my head to the point where my head almost caved it and I was screaming for my life. If you look at my mug shot, there is nothing but dirty, muddy gutter water and blood all over my face.

Next, our helpful Bobbies – Officer Thayer and his partner Officer Anthony Diaz – took Janku on a joyride from hell. Chris explains:

They put me in the squad car without seatbelting me in and went on a joy ride while blaring satanic heavy metal music in my ear until my eardrums almost exploded.  Around 6-7 times they would hit the gas and then slam on the brakes, so that I was forced to keep cracking my face on the cage.

FFFF readers will recall that although clearly unconstitutional, this is a common FPD procedure, informally known as a “screen test.” Spicer remembers seeing the car pass the Police station, and asked the cops where they were taking him. Their response:  “Shut the F up.”  After the brake-checks:

I came to the department and automatically filed a complaint about the brutality. They put me in a jail cell bleeding from my head down to my feet and bruised and battered WITHOUT EVEN GIVING ME MEDICAL AID.

Janku was unable to figure out what exactly had set Thayer off.  Maybe when he asked Thayer to not thumb through the photos on his cell phone?  Or perhaps this cretinous goon needs no excuse to assault, batter, and violate the civil rights of the taxpayers who pay his ample salary?  Janku’s friend was arrested as well, for simply asking for his ID back from the cops who had taken and failed to return it.

As for the police brutality complaint?   A complete and total stonewall.  The detective in charge deliberately misinterpreted the clear audio recording of Janku’s friends yelling “he’s not resisting!” and asked him “why were you resisting?”  He also had the temerity to ask Janku why he had blood and mud all over his face.

After checking regularly for months and getting no response, Janku was told recently that he had better contact an attorney.  Of course, this is after the statute of limitations had run out and a lawsuit is impossible.  What is Janku left with, besides the bruises and migraines?  Just the awful memories:

I’ve been afraid to go outside my house ever since, I have nightmares and panic attacks from the injustice.

Janku adds that he is unwilling to go to downtown Fullerton since the incident, and one of his friends there that evening is so terrified he refuses to set foot in Fullerton, period.  Way to help out our local economy, coppers!

#66 Perry Thayer

Unlike the marginally more fortunate Veth Mam and Edward Quinonez, Janku is unable to sue the City and make them pay for their abuses.  And Officer Thayer?  Why, he went on to win the coveted Turkey Bowl police football championship along with his buds – the noted false arrest/perjury specialists Kenton Hampton and Frank Nguyen, of Veth Mam lawsuit fame.

Just another night of death-metal mayhem, beating, torture, false arrest, and random abuse of the public by Fullerton’s Finest. No pattern to see here, folks. Move along, now. No need for that department-wide Department of Justice investigation of police brutality and misconduct.  Keep moving.

Oh, and yeah, let’s be careful out there.