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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Acorn Runs Off the Rails: 'We're just community organizers, just like the president used to be.'

By JOHN FUND

On Monday, the U.S. Senate voted 83-7 to strip Acorn, the premier community organizing group on the left, of more than $1.6 million in federal housing money meant to assist low-income people obtain loans and prepare tax forms. This dramatic step followed last Friday's decision by the U.S. Census Bureau to sever its ties with the organization, one of several community groups it was partnering with to conduct the nation's head count.

Both of these actions came after secretly recorded videos involving employees in Acorn's Brooklyn, N.Y., Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Md. and San Bernardino, Calif. offices were televised on Fox News. The videos were recorded by two independent filmmakers who posed as a prostitute and a pimp and said they were planning to import underage women from El Salvador for the sex trade. They asked for and received advice on getting a housing loan and evading federal taxes.
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Botched Paramilitary Police Raids: An Epidemic of "Isolated Incidents"

"If a widespread pattern of [knock-and-announce] violations were shown . . . there would be reason for grave concern." —Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, in Hudson v. Michigan, June 15, 2006. An interactive map of botched SWAT and paramilitary police raids, released in conjunction with the Cato policy paper "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids," by Radley Balko. What does this map mean? How to use this map View Original Map and Database

Key

Death of an innocent. Death or injury of a police officer. Death of a nonviolent offender.
Raid on an innocent suspect. Other examples of paramilitary police excess. Unnecessary raids on doctors and sick people.
The proliferation of SWAT teams, police militarization, and the Drug War have given rise to a dramatic increase in the number of "no-knock" or "quick-knock" raids on suspected drug offenders. Because these raids are often conducted based on tips from notoriously unreliable confidential informants, police sometimes conduct SWAT-style raids on the wrong home, or on the homes of nonviolent, misdemeanor drug users. Such highly-volatile, overly confrontational tactics are bad enough when no one is hurt -- it's difficult to imagine the terror an innocent suspect or family faces when a SWAT team mistakenly breaks down their door in the middle of the night. But even more disturbing are the number of times such "wrong door" raids unnecessarily lead to the injury or death of suspects, bystanders, and police officers. Defenders of SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics say such incidents are isolated and rare. The map above aims to refute that notion.

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