Efforts to curb police brutality ‘met with more force’ – pepper-sprayed teacher

By RT

Hagopian – an activist promoting black causes in the Seattle area – was pepper-sprayed by a police officer after speaking at a Black Lives Matter rally on Martin Luther King Day. He was walking away from the gathering, on a sidewalk, when he was suddenly pepper-sprayed in the face.

He has decided to sue city authorities and the police for $500,000 in damages.

In video footage of the incident – which was filmed by a bystander, and where Hagopian is clearly visible – a small crowd is standing on the sidewalk and in the road.

READ MORE: Seattle faces $500k suit for pepper-spraying school teacher (VIDEO)

A female officer in a line of other officers appears to drastically overreact to the situation. She screams at the people facing her – who do not appear to be any threat whatsoever – to move back. She pepper-sprays them just as Hagopian is walking past at a normal pace while chatting on his mobile phone. The other officers remain calm and silent, but do not intervene to stop what appears to be an overreaction by their colleague.

READ MORE: New video shows white Seattle cop arresting 70yo black veteran for carrying golf club

The pepper-spray left Hagopian with searing pain in his eyes, ears, and face.

The history teacher said city authorities have not commented on the incident, even though it happened almost two weeks ago.

“We still don’t have the name of the officer…I hope the city will respond rapidly to address this incident and others like it. I’m not the only one who’s faced this type of overreaction from the police here in Seattle,” he told RT.

He explained that the police officer’s actions in Seattle are reflective of the wider problem of police brutality in the US.

“Every effort to curb police brutality seems to be met with more force,” Hagopian said.

Via:: RT.com

Civilians arrive in Sloviansk as they escape city of hell

SLOVIANSK, Ukraine – The snow is melting, causing the streets in front of the railway station of the former separatist-controlled Sloviansk to be covered in mud and water. Representatives of local authorities and a group of volunteers patiently await buses transporting the people that have fled Debaltseve, the nearby Donetsk Oblast city where fighting is ferocious.

Via:: Kyiv Post

Conflict Leaves Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided, Terrified

By webdesk@voanews.com (Al Pessin) People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year.

Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change — even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood.

In the Luhansk district town of Papasna, just 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, a house belonging to a couple named Valentina and Yuri was destroyed this week by a Russian-made Grad missile, officials said.

Valentina was home at the time. She said something hit her in the head and she fell down. She couldn’t see, but she crawled in the direction of the doorway.

“I came out and nothing was left,” she said. “The house is gone. Nothing is left. I was in shock. I’m in shock now, because I grew up in this house. It was my parents’ house. My father built it with his own hands.”

Yuri held what he said were fragments of the missile. He said the authorities took away the larger pieces.

“I don’t know how my wife survived,” he said. “It’s incredible. It seems this is the front line.”

Yuri and Valentina have moved to an apartment elsewhere in town, but Valentina said she wouldn’t go any farther.

“I will never go anywhere away from my motherland,” she said. “My parents’ graves are here. I was born here. I grew up here. I will never leave this place.”

Down the street, the arrival of reporters and Ukrainian officials sparked an argument. Some neighbors said they were eager for the rebels to return.

A man named Nikolai, a retired paramilitary guard who has sent his children to safety in Russia, said, “We didn’t ask you to come from the West. Mind your own business. Go to church! Do whatever you want! We just want this. If we want to go to church, we go. We want to live here and work. We don’t need anything else.”

His neighbor Alla, a retired glassworks engineer, said she just wanted to go back to the way things were before the war started last summer.

“We lived here mixed — northern Russians, Ukrainian and Russians, mixed,” she said. “Your mother could be Ukrainian and your father could be Russian. Russians came here to restore Donbas, the mines. Everything was fine. We want peace, peace and peace.”

At City Hall, workers prepared plastic sheeting to patch damaged windows and roofs, and they worried about the rebel advance.

“I’m scared, very scared,” said Natalia, a city worker. “But what to do? We are living. We don’t have any place to go, so we live, and work.

“We work under shelling. It’s scary, but still … ,” she said with a shrug.

Another city worker, Olga, said, “We can leave. We have a place to go. But I can’t. I have my parents here. I just can’t leave. I can’t allow myself. We sent our child, but it hurts so much.”

A statue of Lenin still presides in the Papasna city square, and the winter gloom seems to accentuate the mood. Part of a story with geopolitical implications is playing out here. And whatever their political leanings, local residents feel profound change may be coming again to their once-ordinary town, where not long ago no news was made at all.

Via:: Voice of America

Thousands march in London to protest housing crisis

By RT

Groups of protesters gathered to listen to speeches at Elephant and Castle and Shoreditch before marching towards City Hall.

Demonstrators carried banners reading “People before profit” and “Build council homes. Take the wealth of the 1%.”

As rents, evictions, and homelessness continue to rise, campaigners are demanding that London Mayor Boris Johnson take measures to create a fairer housing market. Protesters are angry with what they believe is the failure of politicians to take meaningful action to tackle the crisis.

An estimated 2,000 people rallied around City Hall, urging the mayor to build more council homes, control private rents, and put an end to the demolition of housing estates.

London: March for Homes demonstrators cross Tower Bridge earlier. #MarchForHomes#Austerity Pic Via @GuardianHousingpic.twitter.com/NhVcR4qOpW

— Revolution News (@NewsRevo) January 31, 2015

Tom Crawford, 63, is one of those affected by the crisis. He and a band of loyal supporters have been fighting an eviction notice for a home he has lived in for 25 years. He claims that his mortgage has long since been paid off.

“The courts are supposed to be protecting the people [but] they’re protecting the banks. The police are supposed to be protecting the people – that’s their oath – and they don’t stand on their oath, and they protect the banks,” Crawford told RT.

Some 40,000 homes were repossessed in the 12 months leading up to September 2014 – a 49 percent increase from four years ago.

Some flats on Aylesbury estate, Elephant and Castle have been squatted in protest at housing crisis. #marchforhomespic.twitter.com/0LWHcAvMI6

— Izzy Köksal (@IzzyKoksal) January 31, 2015

Organizers of the March for Homes protest say that more than 344,000 people are on council waiting lists, as rents have surged by an average of 13 percent a year since 2010.

British Constitution Group chairman Roger Hayes, who is working to help save the Crawfords from eviction, told RT: “We have the evidence, the facts, to present to the courts – but the courts ignore us. The courts say ‘We’re not interested in that.’ And the reason they do that is because the judiciary has been told ‘if you fight against the banks the whole financial system will collapse.’”


Via:: RT.com

Alaska community officer accused of Tasering 2 young kids because they asked him to

By RT

The mother of one of the boys, Terry Ward, said the incident occurred last December when a group of about eight or 10 children were getting ready to play a game of kickball outside the Boys and Girls Club in Kake, Alaska, local media reported.

The club is situated next to the VPSO office. When one of the officers walked by the boys, Ward’s 11-year-old son and one of his friends reportedly asked the policeman to use his Taser on them.

“They were talking about being Tased, and my son did ask to be Tased, and he Tasered him on his arm or his wrist,” Ward told the local Juneau Empire newspaper.

She said she didn’t know if the weapon he used was a Taser or a stun gun. A Taser shoots barbs into a person’s skin, whereas a stun gun is just put next to the skin.

Although the boy wasn’t harmed in the incident, Ward worries that there may be a lasting psychological or emotional effect, and says that a VPSO officer should know better than to Taser a child.

“I’m just not happy about the situation. To me this is considered child abuse,” she said.

Ward is also concerned about the fact that she was not properly informed of the incident by the authorities. She only found out about the incident from a friend about a month later.

“She was asking me how my son was doing after the incident, and I was like, ‘What is she talking about?’” Ward said.

Alaska State Troopers, who supervise the VSPOs, are now investigating the incident. Kake is a small remote community about 100 miles south of Juneau, the capital of Alaska.

The VSPO is the only permanent law enforcement presence in the town.

A spokeswoman for the Alaska State Troopers, Megan Peters, based in the city of Anchorage, told the Juneau Empire that the VSPO officer concerned is Mac McGonigal, who was assigned to Kake in 2013.

The Empire reported that it attempted to get his side of the story, but that no one was at the office on Friday despite multiple visits.

However, Peters maintained in an email that the “Parents or the guardians of the involved children were contacted.”

Ward says this was not the case, claiming she was only contacted a week ago by the head officer in Kake, James Smith, who asked her to come to the office. She refused unless a lawyer was present.

VSPO officers are trained to deal with public service emergencies and basic law enforcement. They do not carry firearms.

Via:: RT.com

Alaska community officer accused of Tasering 2 young kids because they asked him to

By RT

The mother of one of the boys, Terry Ward, said the incident occurred last December when a group of about eight or 10 children were getting ready to play a game of kickball outside the Boys and Girls Club in Kake, Alaska, local media reported.

The club is situated next to the VPSO office. When one of the officers walked by the boys, Ward’s 11-year-old son and one of his friends reportedly asked the policeman to use his Taser on them.

“They were talking about being Tased, and my son did ask to be Tased, and he Tasered him on his arm or his wrist,” Ward told the local Juneau Empire newspaper.

She said she didn’t know if the weapon he used was a Taser or a stun gun. A Taser shoots barbs into a person’s skin, whereas a stun gun is just put next to the skin.

Although the boy wasn’t harmed in the incident, Ward worries that there may be a lasting psychological or emotional effect, and says that a VPSO officer should know better than to Taser a child.

“I’m just not happy about the situation. To me this is considered child abuse,” she said.

Ward is also concerned about the fact that she was not properly informed of the incident by the authorities. She only found out about the incident from a friend about a month later.

“She was asking me how my son was doing after the incident, and I was like, ‘What is she talking about?’” Ward said.

Alaska State Troopers, who supervise the VSPOs, are now investigating the incident. Kake is a small remote community about 100 miles south of Juneau, the capital of Alaska.

The VSPO is the only permanent law enforcement presence in the town.

A spokeswoman for the Alaska State Troopers, Megan Peters, based in the city of Anchorage, told the Juneau Empire that the VSPO officer concerned is Mac McGonigal, who was assigned to Kake in 2013.

The Empire reported that it attempted to get his side of the story, but that no one was at the office on Friday despite multiple visits.

However, Peters maintained in an email that the “Parents or the guardians of the involved children were contacted.”

Ward says this was not the case, claiming she was only contacted a week ago by the head officer in Kake, James Smith, who asked her to come to the office. She refused unless a lawyer was present.

VSPO officers are trained to deal with public service emergencies and basic law enforcement. They do not carry firearms.

Via:: RT.com