In Wyoming, Reporting Environmental Damage Could Land You in Prison
A law passed by Wyoming Republicans officially makes it illegal for citizens to collect evidence of pollution on public land that could lead to a government investigation of environmental destruction.
Wyoming Governor Matt Mead signed Senate Bill 12 into law in March making it a criminal offense to “collect resource data,” such as photographs of polluted waterways and land that is private, public, or federal outside of city limits. Violators of the law could face a $5,000 fine and/or prison time. According to ThinkProgress,
Under the law “collect” means to “take a sample of material, acquire, gather, photograph or otherwise preserve information in any form from open land which is submitted, or intended to be submitted to any agency of the state, or federal government.” The laws says that only citizens who are given express permission to collect such evidence can actually do so, which quite frankly makes it easier for public and private employees to cover up environmental wrongdoing. For example, if a cattle rancher allows his herd to graze too close to public waterways on public land and the cattle cause an E. coli outbreak in the water that could poison people, citizens who collect evidence of this to report to government agencies would be subject to prosecution. In short, the law is an effort to silence and censor whiste-blowers and environmental activists from proving that landowners are illegally polluting public lands.
The Wyoming Sierra Club condemned the law in a statement to ThinkProgress as a broad effort to prevent scientific research and other efforts to help protect the environment.
“We are deeply concerned that this poorly written and overly vague bill will prevent concerned citizens and students from undertaking valuable research projects on public lands, out of fear of accidentally running afoul of the new law (the scope of which no one clearly understands) and being criminally and civilly prosecuted. There is no need for this new bill, and we can only conclude that it is an attempt by private landowners to scare people away from valid research efforts on public land.”
This effort by Wyoming Republicans happened at the same time that Republicans in the United States Senate voted unanimously to sell public lands, including national forests and waterways, to states whose conservative governments will likely turn around and sell those lands to private industry for mining, logging, and drilling.
Why conceal this information instead of using it to clean up the environment?
According to a recent Slate article, a local environmental group found that many Wyoming streams are contaminated by E. coli bacteria. That contamination comes from cow waste that has seeped into waterways. Ranchers don’t want to change their operations, cutting off the source of the pollution. Instead, they chose to cut off the source of complaints.
We’ve seen this strategy from big animal ag interests before.
More than 20 state legislatures have introduced bills limiting public access to information about animal farming since 2011; four have passed. So-called ag-gag laws are aimed at whistleblower workers and concerned neighbors who share photos or videos from factory farms. This “gags” people from coming forward to report food safety threats, workers’ abuses, environmental problems, and animal welfare issues. Many of these laws are based on a “model law” drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in 2002. ALEC is a conservative group for state legislators funded by corporations. The group promotes an anti-regulatory, pro-industry agenda.
Of all the industries that would benefit from citizen oversight, the beef industry, which has seen drastic cuts in government inspectors, may rank the highest.
Here are just a few reasons why:
Working on a factory farm or in a slaughterhouse is a dangerous job. Workers labor for long hours, are paid little, and experience high injury rates.
Animal waste can contain high concentrations of Salmonella, E. coli, and Cryptosporidium. These pathogens, along with antibiotics, ammonia, heavy metals, and hormones can end up in waterways humans use for drinking and swimming.
Time and time again, whistleblowers have come forward with horrific accounts of animal abuses. In a recent investigation in Wisconsin, video shows workers cutting off cows’ tails with pruning shears, spraying them in the face with high-pressure water hoses, and dragging them by their necks with ropes attached to tractors.
The meat industry has argued for self-regulation to avoid government inspectors. And they have threatened workers who come forward with complaints of illegal and unethical behavior.
We live in a democracy; it’s time we start behaving like one. State legislatures should not be able to suppress information or muzzle citizen activism intended to improve our health and safety.
Today the systematic police oppression of minorities continues, as South Carolina appears to have set the bar at a new low. A black couple was pulled over for driving a new car with new vehicle plates. There is nothing illegal about this, but the officer’s dash cam clearly shows that this is the reason for pulling them over. Let’s suppose that he was just checking to see if the car was really a new purchase.
After handing the driver her license and sales receipt back, the dash cam shows the officer telling a male passenger to get out of the car. He cuffs him, searches him, and tells him that he is bringing in a drug dog to walk around the car. Then, he tells the man he is “going to pay for this one, boy.” While they are conveniently off camera.
The dog is brought in and apparently smells drugs so the cop rips the car apart but finds nothing. The dog cannot find anything either. The officer is convinced that the man must have drugs. Why? Because, according to the officer, he remembers dealing with him while he was working in a drug unit, years ago.
Off camera, the officer decides to do a more aggressive search and runs his hands up into the passenger’s rectum hard enough that he can feel what the passenger says is a hemorrhoid. The officer says that it can’t be a hemorrhoid because it’s too hard and he’s had hemorrhoids and knows that’s not what they feel like. The man insists and objects to the search.
Dear South Carolina police officers: Reasonable suspicion and probable cause aren't suggestions. That's the law. https://t.co/mWbzkrFpEA
The officer can be heard radioing in the event and says that he has to let the couple go because even though he pulled his pants and underwear down and took pictures of the man’s rectum he could not get a visual and the man must have the rock cocaine inside of him.
“He said it was a hemorrhoid. It ain’t no… it was a rock. It was a rock of crack. It’s gotta be a rock. He’s got it up in his butt…I got nothing else to go on. Nothing. Yeah, we’re gonna have to cut him loose here.”
The man asked the officer why he did all of this. The officer said it was because he “knew” him.
The man asked the officer if he had seen how many years it’s been since he’d been in trouble, stating that he has kids now, and the woman driving the car is his wife.
The officer told him that drug dealers and users have kids, too. Then he told him to get the car detailed so other dogs don’t “hit” on it. He then thanks them and leaves.
Footage of the Full Traffic Stop bellow.
Originally Published on Apr 2, 2016
WATCH Above- Police ‘sexually assault’ black couple during roadside cavity search . Two South Carolina residents are suing the City of Aiken and its department of public safety over what they say was an illegal cavity search in broad daylight.
The Aiken Standard reports Elijah Pontoon and Lakey Hicks filed the lawsuit last September. It was moved to federal court in November.
“Black man subjected to “illegal” public cavity search by white police officers” suit alleges that white police officers subjected an African American man man to a humiliating anal search, and that they also partially stripped searched his wife, all in open public, on nothing more then suspicion that they might possess illegal drugs. A formal complaint supported by the video evidence alleges, and court records confirm that on the 2nd day of October, 2014 police officers performed and illegal search and an extra judicial anal cavity search on a black South Carolina man in search for what they claim could of been a “hard rock of Crack” in Mr. Hick’s anus.
Although it is true that Hicks has a criminal record that includes past drug charges, he’s had a clean record since 2006. He told Medlin that he has kids now, indicating that his past actions don’t reflect on his present condition. Medlin claimed he remembered Hicks and had dealt with him on previous occasions, which gave him reasonable suspicion to perform the search.
“You’ve got something here right between your legs. There’s something hard right there between your legs.”
The lawsuit, filed by both Hicks and Pontoon, names Medlin, along with several other officers and the Director of the ADPS officers, as defendants. Court documents show that the defendants are accused of improper search and seizure and improper actions.
The South Carolina police officers are being sued under the Federal law and Federal Causes of action, and Hicks and Pontoon are seeking punitive damages. The Director of ADPS and the City of Aiken are being sued under the State law causes of action, although no punitive damages are being sought against them. According to the lawsuit, Pontoon and Hicks say they were illegally stopped by officers for a paper car tag and searched without consent. In addition to the cavity search, the complaint says a female officer exposed Hicks’ breasts on the side of the road, with a search performed in the presence of three male officers. South Carolina Police Search: Cops Perform Illegal Cavity Search During A Routine Stop SC New York taxi drivers to be banned from flirting with or ejaculating on passengers cabs stopped speeding Capt. David Turno said in a statement that the city denies the allegations. Turno wasn’t available Saturday for further comment.
In this video Luke Rudkowski shows you what he saw on the ground in Paris France during the illegal COP21 protest. Many expected an intense day with a State of Emergency still implemented and protestors facing 6 months to 1 year in jail for demonstrating. Luckily the day unfolded a lot differently than what people predicted. (more…)
From its pages, we learn that the board views the NSA’s metadata collection program — which was revealed by Edward Snowden — as illegal, without “a viable legal foundation under Section 215, implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited value…As a result, the board recommends that the government end the program.”