Friday, September 12, 2014


"The Los Angeles Police officers involved in the use of lethal force (i.e. the killing of Ezell Ford) in Newton Division on August 11, 2014 were Police Officer III Sharlton Wampler, Serial No. 36135, and Police Officer II Antonio Villegas, Serial No. 38218, both assigned to the Newton Area Gang Enforcement Detail," a press statement issued by the LAPD reads.

It tooks the cops two weeks to name the officers involved.

Officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas are both assigned to the Newton Division Gang enforcement detail. Wampler has served on the force for 12 years while Villegas has served for eight years.  According to officials, they supposedly hesitated to make the officers' identities public because they wanted to see if anyone had made threats against their safety. 

Where have we heard that one before?

The LA Times has reported:

Court records showed Wampler was named in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed in 2011, alleging he was one of two LAPD officers who held a man's head underwater in South Los Angeles.

The suit claimed that on Aug. 30, 2009, a man identified as Daniel Hernandez accidentally sprayed one of the officers with a hose, prompting one of the officers — the suit did not say which one — to pepper-spray Hernandez and pin him to the ground. The suit alleges that both officers dragged Hernandez to a children's swimming pool and forced his head into the water.

When the officers pulled his head from the water, the suit alleged, Hernandez told them he couldn't breathe. They responded by laughing and submerging his head again, the suit said.

The lawsuit was dismissed in December 2012.

And that takes us directly to the story below from U.S. Hypocrisy for Scission's Cops and Jails Friday report.

One of the Los Angeles Police Officers Who Murdered Ezell Ford Has a History of Terrorizing Communities

LAPD crime police brutality
Lavell Ford (blue shirt, center), Ezell Ford’s brother, stands among community residents calling for Justice.
LAPD Newton Division’s “Gang Enforcement Detail” Officers Sharlton K. Wampler and Antonio Villegas are the cops responsible for shooting Ezell Ford to death in South Los Angeles last month, according to a press release from the Los Angeles Police Department. The release of the names comes a full two weeks after the two cops shot and killed the unarmed 25 year-old in his own neighborhood as he laid on the ground on August 11, even as he complied with the officers’ demands. Much like Darren Wilson – theFerguson cop who murdered Michael Brown (another unarmed young Black man gunned down by cops in his own neighborhood) – Wampler and Villegas were likely given the chance to flee and go into hiding. Also like Wilson, both officers are now on paid vacation.
A picture of an LAPD "gang enforcement"detail.
A picture of an LAPD “gang enforcement”detail.
Contrary to what the LAPD may want to claim, they did not release the names of the officers to members of the Ford family or to the public for that matter out of the goodness of their own hearts. After weeks of protests, the department only decided it was important to let the community know the names of Ford’s killers after a political blogger, Jasmyne Cannick, leaked the names of 2 LAPD officers on her website after much hesitation. As she wrote in her August 27 post,
I hadn’t revealed that information up until now because I had hopes that the Department would do the right thing and tell the community in a timely manner. 
Unfortunately they did not, so Cannick went public with the information. (*) Whoever the source of her information, they were at least partially on the money, as the name of Sharlton K. Wampler was indeed 100% accurate. The second name her source relayed to her was not Antonio Villegas, however.
Los Angeles Police DepartmentTwo days later the Department came forward naming Wampler (who makes $104,113.44 annually for his “policing”) and Villegas as the officers involved in the shooting, though they would not acknowledge that Jasmyne’s blog post was a motivating factor in their sudden willingness to be more forthcoming. Instead, their excuse was that they were worried about “potential threats to the safety of the officers.” Both officers it turns out are veterans of the Los Angeles Police Force, Wampler with a whopping 12 years under his belt and Villegas with 8. As far as the rest of the specifics regarding the case, the entire department is keeping a tight lid. All we have is a shaky account given by police that doesn’t at all match with the eye witness testimonies of neighborhood residents.
Rest in Peace
Ezell Ford
It’s important to point out that the police themselves are unable to provide a reason for why they stopped Ezell Ford in the first place, saying only that he was walking on the sidewalk and appeared to be making what they referred to as “suspicious movements”. (Note: Michael Brown was supposedly stopped and shot because hewasn’t walking on the sidewalk. Is there anywhere that young Black men can walk without having to be stop, questioned, harassed and brutalized?) This appears to have been part of a “routine stop” this particular department conducts on a regular basis in and around the neighborhood. They involve police officers randomly stopping, frisking and violating Black people in their own residential neighborhoods, searching for anything at all they can find. Members of the community say it happens almost daily, and they are sick and tired of the cops being there more often than not for the purpose of harming them instead of being their to protect them. One eyewitness even saw the same officers who would shoot and kill Ezell Ford in the neighborhood the night before Ford’s life was taken. He says they were harassing him, despite knowing that Ford, as one neighbor put it, “wasn’t all there”.
Los Angeles
According to the police version of events, Ford out of nowhere decided he was going to “struggle” with one of the officers right before he “attempted to remove the officer’s handgun from its holster.” If we are to believe their story, then we are also supposed to take it as a given that this was justification enough for them to fire multiple gunshots into the young man’s body and killing him. Needless to say the cops’ story is disputed. In the words of LeRoy Hill, who saw the entire incident go down, “They had him in the corner and were beating him, busted him up, for what reason I don’t know; he didn’t do nothing… The next thing I know I hear a ‘pow!’ while he’s on the ground. They got the knee on him. And I hear another ‘pow!’ No hesitation. And I hear another ‘pow!’ Three times.” When Ford’s mother Tritobia Ford rushed to the scene to see what happened, the cops raised their batons at her in an attempt to intimidate her. Not once did they ever try to console her. Another witness is quite clear of the fact that he heard the officer who was pinning Ford to the ground yelling out to the other officer, “Shoot him!” After that, “three bullets were planted in Ford’s back while he was lying on the ground.” Rather tellingly the cops did not have a dash-cam mounted on their patrol vehicle at the time Ford was shot.
Lavell Ford holds a candle at a vigil held for his brother.
Lavell Ford holds a candle at a vigil held for his brother.
The fix is already in. While the autopsy results are being withheld from the family and the public, both officers are on paid leave as the “internal affairs” committee conducts its erroneously titled “investigation”. Time and again, we see that internal affairs investigations are nothing more than a farce used to justify a subsequent acquittal. And the department’s smear campaign against the victim (who they keep referring to as the “suspect” whereas the officers who killed him aren’t in any way “suspects”…) went into immediate effect.
In a familiar attempt to smear a young Black man’s reputation by stereotyping and demeaning him, the department issued a completely irrelevant statement declaring, “It is unknown if the suspect has any gang affiliations.” (**) While this statement simply says it is “unknown”, the insinuation is that he does despite not a single shred of evidence for this being the case. On another note it is also unknown whether Officers Sharlton K. Wampler or Antonio Vellegas have affiliations with the Ku Klux Klan or other white supremacist organizations. Nor can it be said with 100% certainty that the LAPD is not an undeclared chapter of the American Nazi Party or is not affiliated with other neo-Nazi fascist groups.
This isn’t even the first time Sharton K. Wampler has terrorized innocent civilians. In August, 2009 he and LAPD Officer Alfred Garcia invaded the Hernandez family’s home without cause or producing a search warrant. They found the family gathered in the back yard, and Daniel Hernandez, not knowing his home was being invaded, accidentally sprayed either officer Wampler or officer Garcia with a water hose he was holding in his hand. This sent the officers into a fit of fury and uncontrollable rage. At first they walked over to him and maced him in his face. They then proceeded to rough him and his brother up. And last but not least, they even attempted to drown him in the family’s own mini-pool. They did all this to Daniel Hernandez in the presence of his terrified young daughter, whom he recalls was screaming in terror as the police officers were drowning her father.  A2011 Civil Rights lawsuit carries a chilling description of the events.
Hernandez and his brother were brutalized by two LAPD Officers who invaded their home. One of the officers was none other than Ezell Ford's killer, Sharlton K. Wampler.
Daniel Hernandez and his brother were brutalized by two LAPD Officers who invaded their home. One of the officers was none other than Ezell Ford’s killer, Sharlton K. Wampler.
[NOTE: When the document refers to the Plaintiffs it is referring to members of the Hernandez family. When it refers to SCENE DEFENDANTS it is referring to LAPD Officers Sharlton Wampler and Alfred Garcia]:
Plaintiff DANIEL HERNANDEZ was then dragged by the SCENE
DEFENDANTS to the children’s pool set up in Plaintiffs’ yard. The SCENE
DEFENDANTS began forcing Plaintiff DANIEL HERNANDEZ’s head and face into the
pool which made breathing impossible for him. The SCENE DEFENDANTS would
occasionally let Plaintiff DANIEL HERNANDEZ’s head out of the water at which point
he informed officers that he could not breathe and was drowning. In response the
SCENE DEFENDANTS laughed, Viciously struck plaintiff DANIEL HERNANDEZ’s
upper back and submerged Plaintiff DANIEL HERNANDEZ’s head again. This
attempted drowning was intended by the SCENE DEFENDANTS to place Plaintiff
DANIEL HERNANDEZ and the other PLAINTIFFS and bystanders in fear for their lives
and to coerce and intimidate them. Plaintiff DANIEL HERNANDEZ felt like he was
drowning and suffocating and thought that he was being told to get up. He tried to get
up and was violently pushed down into the water and suffocated again. This
happened numerous times.
19. At this time, Plaintiffs MANUEL HERNANDEZ and MARIA DE JESUS
HERNANDEZ, Plaintiff DANIEL HERNANDEZ’s father and mother, came forward in a
non-threatenting manner pleading and begging the SCENE DEFENDANTS to not
drown their son and to allow him to breath. The SCENE DEFENDANTS pushed·and
into the house telling Plaintiffs MANUEL HERNANDEZ and MARIA DE JESUS
HERNANDEZ that they are “the police” and would do “whatever they wanted” to
Plaintiff DANIEL HERNANDEZ, and threatened Plaintiffs MANUEL HERNANDEZ and
MARIA DE JESUS HERNANDEZ by saying: “It will go better for him [Plaintiff DANIEL
HERNANDEZ] if you remain quiet because. We will do what we need to. You are not
going to call or tell anybody. No one is going to believe you anyway.”
HERNANDEZ were repeatedly kicked, punched and struck throughout their bodies.
The punches and kicks to the back, buttocks, ribs, legs and arms of DANIEL
purpose other than to torture and humiliate these PLAINTIFFS. [...] Furthermore… the SCENE
DEFENDANTS and DOE Defendants 30-80 conspired to conceal the truth as to the
circumstances under which PLAINTIFFS were beaten, tortured, drowned, threatened,
and humiliated.
21. The SCENE DEFENDANTS… entered PLAINTIFFS’ property without invitation, cause, or warrant, and
SCENE DEFENDANTS pushed and shoved them and threatened and intimidated
plaintiffs MANUEL HERNANDEZ and MARIA DE JESUS HERNANDEZ by telling them
that they would arrest and file charges against them and their family if they said
anything about the conduct of the police officers….
Black America protest police killings and brutality
image-signWhat are we to make of all this? Well for one thing the LAPD is still hopelessly racist andcorrupt. But beyond that there is the realization of what many have long asserted, that American “exceptionalism” is nothing but a farce. People all over this nation are incapable of leading normal, healthy, peaceful lives when they are made to live in a state of constant fear that at any moment a police officer is going to stop and harass them while they are walking down a street, or when they are driving down the road in a car, or even while they are sitting within their own home. The police in 2014 are literally terrorizing and destabilizing entire communities with their morally unethical tactics. If not brought to an end, it doesn’t bode very well for the future.
The former pastor of the First AME Church, Rev. Cecil “Chip” Murray, asked a question while speaking at Ezell Ford’s funeral on Saturday which we all should be asking of ourselves and of our nation, “America, oh, America, you’re getting richer, but are you now getting a little old for this?”
A cousin of Ezell Ford mourns the loss of a loved one whose life was taken by police.
A cousin of Ezell Ford mourns the loss of a loved one whose life was taken by police.
People demand an end to extrajudicial executions by the police in front of Los Angeles Police Department.
People demand an end to extrajudicial executions by the police in front of Los Angeles Police Department.
* This isn’t even the first time this this year the same department brutally murdered someone and refused to go public with the officers’ names. Little over a month ago police killed 37 year-old Omar Abrego. Once again, Jasymyne Carrick’s blog had to go public with the information that a secretive and conniving police force refused to disclose.
** The Department has even gone as far as trying to smear Ezell Ford’s grieving family and friends who call for justice by falsely accusing them of having “gang affiliations” simply because of a music video they made containing the popular phrase “Fuck the Police”. Truthfully the PD should be thankful that harsher words haven’t been said about their gestapo-inspired tactics.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


What is happening in Liberia and across West Africa is not only an Ebola epidemic, but is an affront to humanity.  Ebola, like other infectious diseases including AIDS, TB, Malaria, and the like has one common vector.  That vector is poverty.  Infectious diseases follow the path of least resistance and the least resistance follows the path of inequality - a path laid down by a history of colonialism, imperialism, racism, and global capital.  Margaret Chan, WHO director, admitted that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is so large, severe and difficult to contain because of poverty.  How else to see it?   The most affected nations, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are among the poorest in the world.  Prensa Latina points out:

In these countries, only one or two doctors are available for every hundred thousand inhabitants, and they are concentrated in urban areas. Isolation rooms, and even the capacity of the hospital to control infection, are practically nonexistent.

In an interview a few days ago with Amy Goodman, Dr. Paul Farmer makes clear,

The Ebola outbreak, which is the largest in history that we know about, is merely a reflection of the public health crisis in Africa, and it’s about the lack of staff, stuff and systems that could protect populations, particularly those living in poverty, from outbreaks like this or other public health threats....
...I think the most important thing to understand is that this is a reflection of long-standing and growing inequalities of access to basic systems of healthcare delivery, and that includes the staff, the stuff and, again, these systems. And that’s what—that’s how we link public health and clinical medicine, is to understand that we’re delivering care in the context of protecting the health of the population. And so, if you go down to each of these epidemics—that are, of course, one epidemic—and you ask the question, "Well, do they have the staff, stuff and systems that they need to respond?" the answer is no.... are the impact of health disparities in general, right, pre-Ebola epidemic, right. That is, you’ve got some people living in Medieval conditions still in the 21st century and some people living in the 21st century. And how do we move more people from here to here? Like, you don’t have to have—you know, treble your GDP to start building a health system. Health systems help grow your economy, investing in health and education. So, to me, that’s the big picture—rich world, poor world—rather than a narrow view of an incident, although I think we should be commenting on them.

The question is this where has everyone been?  It's not like this is something new. The people of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone needed adequate healthcare services before this outbreak happened.  Are we to expect that a healthcare system from out of the last century which is incapable of coping with regular day to day disease is suddenly somehow going to cope with the likes of ebola?

Paul Farmer again refers to all this as structural violence.  He says the real fight in the war against infectious diseases is the fight against poverty and injustice.   He is right  health problems are, in many ways, the product of social organization, and to deal with them , we have to take  on the social conditions and social organization that give rise to them.   Today, that has to mean taking on global capital.  Long before the latest outbreak of Ebola,  inequalities have powerfully sculpted not only the distribution of infectious diseases, but also the course of disease in those affected.   Speaking about AIDS back in 1996, Dr. Paul Farmer wrote:

AIDS has always been a strikingly patterned pandemic. Regardless of the message of public health slogans—“AIDS is for Everyone”—some are at high risk for HIV infection, while others, clearly, are at lower risk. Furthermore, although AIDS eventually causes death in almost all HIV-infected patients, the course of HIV disease varies. Disparities in the course of the disease have sparked the search for hundreds of cofactors, from Mycoplasma and ulcerating genital lesions to voodoo rites and psychological predisposition. However, not a single association has been compellingly shown to explain disparities in distribution or outcome of HIV disease. The only well demonstrated cofactors are social inequalities, which have structured not only the contours of the AIDS pandemic, but also the course of the disease once a patient is infected. 

It isn't just AIDS or ebola. 

Nearly 9 million people develop active TB disease each year - and an overwhelming 95% of these cases occur in developing countries.

Malaria and poverty are intimately connected. Judged as both a root cause and a consequence of poverty, malaria is most intractable for the poorest countries in the world. Malaria affects the health and economic growth of nations and individuals alike and is costing Africa about $12 billion a year in economic output.  Ninety percent of all deaths from malaria occur in Africa.  The WHO says  malaria remains inextricably linked with poverty. The highest malaria mortality rates are being seen in countries that have the highest rates of extreme poverty (proportion of population living on less than US$ 1.25 per day) .

Studies have proven that not only are infectious diseases a plague of poorer nations, they are a plague of the poor living in rich nations.  

A paper by Zulfiqar A.  Bhutta, and others found at  Infectious Diseases of Poverty notes:

‘The infectious diseases of poverty’ (IDoP) is an umbrella term used to describe a number of diseases, which are known to be more prevalent among poorer populations rather than being a definitive group of diseases [1]. Apart from the ‘big three’ infections—tuberculosis (TB), malaria, and HIV/AIDS—IDoP also comprise a set of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) [2]. These infections are not only attributable for almost nine million annual deaths globally, but are also responsible for the massive economic burden due to their associated disabilities [1]. These are not restricted to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), but manifest in poor populations globally with a significant proportion of mortality among children under five years of age. Apart from TB, malaria, and HIV/AIDS having specific targets outlined in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), other infectious diseases have, by default, slipped into the ‘neglected category’.

I'm thinking if these were not diseases of the poor they would not have, "slipped into the 'neglected category." Let's face, the billions of people in the world have also slipped into the neglected category.

Anyway, let's get back to Ebola where I have an article to attach which has little to do directly with the above, but much to do with it indirectly, if you just give it some thought.  One thing it might lead you to think about is Avian Flu of the likes of H5N1.   Flu can be and H5N1 could become highly contagious.  Flu escapes outside the boundary lines of the poor much more easily and quickly then the above mentioned diseases.  A true flu pandemic, I just bet, would not slip into the neglected category.  A true flu pandemic of something like H5N1 with a mortality rate of close to 60% would overwhelm not just the healthcare resources of poor nations, but would overwhelm those of the rich as well...such an epidemic might well kill global capital...unfortunately while killing most of us along with it.

The first article below is from Avian Flu Diary.  The second article is long and comes from a 2005 issue of Foreign Affairs.  In that article it cites an H5N1 with a mortality rate of 20% which is far below the reality.  Since that article was written numerous new strains of avian flu have been uncovered in China and other parts of Asia, many very similar to the make up of the 1918 flu, which by the way had nowhere near the mortality rate of H5N1.  Anyway, if you are up for it, take a look.

PS: Did I mention that many believe with the growth of multi resistant bacteria we are about to or have already entered a post antibiotic era.  Just sayin...

Conventional Wisdom And Epidemic Disease Spread


Not so very long ago (last spring, to be exact) the conventional wisdom was that Ebola was simply too debilitating, and too lethal, to have `legs’ . . . to spread beyond a limited geographic area.  Those infected were `too sick to travel’, and small outbreaks would inevitably `burn themselves out’  in relatively short order.

While a horrible disease, Ebola seemed fairly easy to contain.   At least, until this summer, when it wasn’t anymore.

Today Ebola is spreading – unchecked – in three countries (Liberia, Sierra Leone & Guinea) and has made inroads into two others (Nigeria & Senegal).  The number of infected is easily a magnitude greater than any outbreak previously seen, and the true extent of the outbreak isn’t even known.

We’ve seen official estimates (and they are just that, estimates, based onincomplete information) from the World Health Organization that by the end of the year 20,0000 people could be infected.  When that number was first announced two weeks ago (see WHO Ebola Response Roadmap), it seemed an shockingly high number.

Since then, we’ve seen estimates (again based on assumptions and incomplete data) that project potentially an even higher toll.
In Science Mag’s Disease modelers project a rapidly rising toll from EbolaChristian Althaus of the University of Bern suggests that cases could possibly reach 100,000 cases by year’s end.  And his isn’t the highest number being bandied about.

Today, Science Editor Tom Clarke of Channel 4 News in the UK has published a blog called the Terrifying mathematics of Ebola, where he interviews Professor John Edmunds, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – on just how bad this outbreak could get.

Keeping  Yogi Berra’s famous caveat in mind, that `'It's tough to makepredictionsespecially about the future.’, I’ll refer you to:

Terrifying mathematics of Ebola
Ebola treatment facilities in Monrovia, the Liberian capital, are now so overwhelmed they are turning away up to 30 infected people every day according the medical charity Medecins sans Frontieres.
Given the rate at which the virus is spreading, it says the virus will soon be having an “apocalyptic” impact on the country and its neighbours unless there is a dramatic increase in international assistance.
“It could get very bad indeed,” said Prof John Edmunds, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. ”And I mean you can’t rule out some sort of nightmare doomsday scenario.”
(Continue. . .)

In this interview Professor Edmunds warns that the number of new cases is doubling about once every two weeks, and that Ebola has the potential to infect half the population of Liberia. Coming from a less credentialed scientist, that sort of speculation might be easily dismissed.  But not so, in this case.

While I’m not terribly comfortable with any of the projections offered to date, it doesn’t take a master statistician to see what a doubling of cases every two weeks  (or even every month) would mean. Granted, over the long run you’d run out of susceptible hosts for the virus, so you can’t extrapolate that progression forever.

But in the short run, it can add up very fast.

Whether the `right number’  ends up being 20,000 or 100,000 or even more, the real point is we are in uncharted territory with this Ebola outbreak, and no one really knows where this goes from here. While I still believe that with a concerted international effort, this outbreak can still be contained, it is going to exact a heavy human and economic toll.

In closing, I would also note that over the past decade the conventional wisdom has also said that Avian flu viruses (like H5N1) couldn’t cause a pandemic unless they lost considerable virulence because – like Ebola - they are `too deadly’ and they `kill theirs hosts too quickly’ to spread effectively.

That’s the trouble with conventional wisdom. You can only take comfort from it up until the moment it no longer applies.