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Dozens March to Ban Tasers in Santa Rosa
by Carl (impactpetaluma [at]
Thursday Feb 19th, 2009 2:47 PM
On Friday, February 13th, about 75 people took to the streets of Santa Rosa for an unpermitted demonstration to demand that the Sonoma County Sheriffs Department end their use of Tasers. Tasers killed two people in Sonoma County near the end of 2008, and have killed 5 people in the County in the last 2 years. The October 22nd Coalition Against Police Brutality has recently announced a campaign to ban Tasers in the county.
Last Friday, February 13th, about 75 people gathered in Courthouse Square to demand that the Sonoma County Sheriff's end their use of Tasers, a deadly device which has led to five deaths of unarmed civilians in our community over the last two years. The October 22nd Coalition Against Police Brutality organized the protest as part of a new campaign demanding the end of Taser use in Sonoma County.
After a brief rally, people took over both lanes of Mendocino Ave. (the main downtown street) during rush hour. Marchers ranged from high school students to grandmothers of the local victims of police brutality. A marching band followed the protest, lifting the spirits of the participants and helping everybody to brave the freezing, wet weather. Many people joined the march as it went along. One student from the local junior college remarked, "I was pissed off because i had to sit in traffic behind the march, then i heard what you were chanting and i was like 'fuck yeah,' so i parked my car and joined the march!"
At one point, about 10 youth came running out of a Taco Bell to join the march.
After about a half mile, the police arrived to order us on to the sidewalk. we did not obey, but instead moved in to one lane of traffic so cars could pass. the officers did not seem interested in confronting the march, which was a little more militant than they're used to.
The march headed all the way to the Sheriffs Department, about 2 hours from where we started. We were surprised to see a small counter-protest lined up in front of the doors of the Sheriffs office. About 6 people stood there with massive American flags and silly grins on their face. They admonished us for "exploiting the families who have lost their loved ones." Unfortunately for them, they said that to the face of Val Barber, whose son Jessie was murdered by Santa Rosa PD a little over a year ago. He was mentally ill and unarmed. SRPD tased him, then shot him, then tased him again. Val is now working with the O22 Coalition and is in the middle of a lawsuit against the county and the SRPD.
The counter-protesters didn't seem interested in picking a fight with us either. Two representatives of O22 tried to enter the building to present our demands to the Sheriff. Unfortunately, the Sheriff is terrified of the organized resistance of the community and locked the doors. They did deem it necessary, however, to observe the marchers from the second story window, dressed in riot gear.
We held a brief rally in front of the office. speakers from different police accountability groups, as well as families of victims of police violence, spoke to the crowd. Then there was a short open mic and several more people from the march spoke. The march ended with everyone feeling very energized and optimistic. This campaign is gaining momentum and we are confident we will win.
The Sheriff says that the chances of them outlawing Tasers are "slim to none." This only means that we are going to have to step up our tactics and continue to put pressure on the Sheriff, both in the media and in the streets.

Upcoming actions include a vigils for Jeremiah Chass (16 year old shot to death by the Sheriffs two years ago) and Samuel Martinez (died after being refused medical treatment in Sonoma County Jail last year).

Planning meetings for the campaign take place every Sunday at 5pm at Free Mind Media infoshop, 546 Pacific Ave. Santa Rosa, CA
Everyone is welcome to join.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Kenny Dumbrill
(kbtdumbrill [at] Friday Feb 20th, 2009 7:40 PM
What is the next step? The sheriffs dept. and others are probably saying, "Here we go again". Marches attract a little attention for a while, maye till the newspaper comes out the next day.

Wouldn't it be wiser to have someone influential either from the local or state level to voice our concerns? We can make a little noise or we can get prolonged attention by being backed by someone more powerful than our united voices.

Just a thought.
by Excited-Delirium Dotcom
Saturday Feb 21st, 2009 7:21 PM
(This is worth repeating....because it is so very important and relatively unknown.)

Canada's federal police force, the RCMP, has finally admitted the duh-obvious: tasers can kill.

Here are the exact words: "The RCMP's revised [Taser] policy underscores that there are risks associated with the deployment of the device and emphasizes that those risks INCLUDE THE RISK OF DEATH (uppercase emphasis added), particularly for acutely agitated individuals."


Up until this point, some people pretended that it was still a silly assertion, or an open question. It's not. Tasers can kill.

Amnesty found that tasers were linked to 37 of 100 autopsy reports they studied. That's 37% in spite if all the propaganda and lawsuits against coroners. So 37% is therefore a low-ball number, but it still extrapolates to about 150 of the 400 taser-associated deaths that have been documented (and the 400 itself is possibly a low-ball number since it depends on someone reporting the death and the taser usage).

Now if they were only used to replace guns, then this sort of risk-of-death wouldn't be an issue. But tasers are not used to replace guns - only the most ill-informed schmucks still think that. In fact, and you can check your own local statistics, tasers are used roughly two orders of magnitude (~100x) more often than police have historically used their guns. Your local figures may vary, and it may even vary over time. But it seems to be about 100x for the stats I've seen. One-hundred times is a very fair round number.

So you have a device that is potentially lethal, the manufacturer still won't admit this liability-inconvenient fact, they also control the training, and have a massive propaganda campaign, so many police forces still believe Taser International and use the taser anytime they feel like it. So it becomes a street-level death lottery. Not good. Back-talk a cop and you might die. Lie down in a diabetic coma and the police can taser you to try to get you to respond and you might die. Incidents like these are seemingly endless. Where's the ethics?

And in Touch Torture (a.k.a. pain compliance) mode, skip the taser and just use the glowing end of a lit cigarette. Both are intensely painful. Both can leave minor burns. Cigarettes are cheaper and there's less risk of cardiac death. So the glowing end of a lit cigarette wins on all counts. Any ethical difference you can think of? Any at all? (Does this help to clarify your thoughts at all?)

Did you ever notice that all the taser training and demonstrations are ALWAYS shot into the subjects' back, never the chest?

Did you know that Taser's lawyer (Mr. Brave) has registered many URLs that include the words "Excited Delirium"? Just a small part of their propaganda campaign to direct friendly coroners to assign the cause of death to that often-meaningless condition that conveniently leaves zero postmortem clues - exactly as perhaps would a taser-induced cardiac-arrhythmia death. This is called 'The Proof Issue' and it has given Taser International a five-year head start.

Did you know that Bernie Kerik was on their Board of Directors during a critical period? He now faces many charges and 142 years in prison. Not just him - their French distributor was arresting for an illegal campaign against taser critics. Friendly police officers have been found to be in conflict of interest with Taser. Many many others skirt the law but have clearly unethical relationships with Taser.

Did you know that Taser International claimed that their 1999-era M26 taser was safe "BECAUSE" it was high frequency and very low duty cycle? Then in 2003 they introduced the X26 that has an output that contains significant amounts of 19 Hz low frequency and is therefore 100% continuous duty cycle (which would make it doubly less safe by their very own logic).

Did you know that taser-associated deaths show a step-function rise starting in 2003 (coincident with the introduction of the X26 taser)?

My blog has about 800 posts with all sorts of information. The vast majority of it is linked back to sources so you can fact-check to your heart's content. There are some very interesting findings as the examples above demonstrate.

by veillifter
Thursday Feb 26th, 2009 10:38 PM
This movement needs to unite with the movement in Oakland post-Oscar Grant.