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ATF Investigating 250+ Fires in Minneapolis Amid Unrest Following George Floyd’s Death

Via Pixabay

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The ATF is investigating more than 150 fires that broke out during unrest following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

“We are making excellent progress with tremendous help from the public,” ATF Special Agent Terry Henderson tells KARE-11 news.

So far, nine people have been arrested in connection with the fires. Another 20 persons of interest have been identified, and the ATF is trying to track them down.

“This is a large scale, large scope event. It is certainly unprecedented for this field division to have this many fires at one time,” Henderson says.

“We have seen a tremendous response from the public providing us with information in regards to these crimes.”

Agents are combing through surveillance and cell phone footage.

ATF Agent Shot During Raid of Pittsburgh Home; a Dozen Suspects Arrested

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

An ATF agent was shot and hospitalized early Tuesday during a raid in a Pittsburgh neighborhood following a wiretap investigation into drug dealing.

A dozen suspects connected to the house have been arrested, TribLive reports.

Medics treated the agent at the scene before he was taken to a hospital in stable condition, John Schmidt, acting special agent in charge of the ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division, said.

“We train for these types of situations and that training paid off today,” Schmidt said. “In our efforts to conduct operations as safely as possible, we have medics on our Special Response Teams for instances just like today — our highly trained medics were able to quickly provide medical care to our special agent and helped insure the best outcome possible in this instance.”

The homeowner, Dion Williams, 44 was charged with possession and conspiracy to distribute at last 5 kilograms of cocaine since November. The 11 others who were arrested were charged and face between 10 years and life in prison.

The investigation is connected to a larger drug-trafficking probe involving the “11 Hunnit” street gang, U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said.

“For too long, the ’11 Hunnit’ gang has terrorized the law-abiding residents of the City of Pittsburgh and the Hill District,” Brady said. “Through the four indictments of 22 members and associates of ’11 Hunnit,’ we have effectively dismantled this gang and its grip on our city.”

DOJ Creates Online Tool to Make It Easier to Report Civil Rights Violations

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has created a new online tool for the public to report a civil rights violation.

The Civil Rights Reporting Portal is designed to make it easier for victims of civil rights violation to launch a complaint.

“The department is committed to upholding the civil and constitutional rights of all people in the United States,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division says in a news release. “The Civil Rights Reporting Portal will make it easier for the public to connect with us, which in turn makes us more effective at upholding these important rights. I encourage the public to use this portal to report civil rights violations.”

The Civil Rights Division enforces federal laws that forbid discrimination based on race, national origin, disability, gender, religion, familial status, or loss of other constitutional rights.

People who suspect they are the victim of a criminal civil rights violation, such as a hate crime or police misconduct, are encouraged to contact their local FBI office.

FBI Arrests El Paso Man Accused of Threatening to Kill Black Lives Matters Protesters

Black Lives Matter protesters in Detroit.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI arrested a 42-year-old El Paso man who posted a racist video in which he threatened to kill Black Lives Matter protesters, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

Manuel Flores faces up to five years in prison on a federal charge of making a threat over the internet.

The FBI arrested Flores on Monday in the Dallas area after authorities say he admitted recording and uploading a video to YouTube entitled “N***** Lives Matter” in which he said “my dream is (to) at least … take out at 200 N*****.”

In the video, which shows what appears to be an AR-15 resting on his feet, Flores said he planned to travel to Dallas and dare protesters to “stop him.”

Flores was arrested in the Dallas area.

As of Wednesday, Flores was in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service awaiting to be transferred to El Paso for a preliminary hearing that has not yet been scheduled.

FBI Director Wray Visited Minneapolis Field Office That Is Investigating Death of George Floyd

FBI Director Christopher Wray in Atlanta. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Christopher Wray stopped by the bureau’s Minneapolis Field Office Tuesday morning to meet with employees and get updates on the investigation into the death of George Floyd.

Wray visited the office for a quick “welfare check” on agents who are working on the civil rights case and investigating violent protests, Minneapolis FBI spokesman Kevin Smith told the Associated Press.

Agents are trying to determine whether civil rights charges are warranted against former Minneapolis police officers Derek Chauvin, J. Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao.

Wray also was briefed on the civil rights investigation.

Ex-FBI Attorney James Baker Joins Twitter As New Deputy General Counsel

Former top FBI attorney James Baker

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

James Baker, the former top attorney for the FBI, has joined Twitter as the social media company’s new deputy general counsel.

Twitter’s general counsel, Sean Edgett, tweeted the announcement Monday.

“Thrilled to welcome @thejimbaker to @Twitter as Deputy General Counsel,” Edgett said. Jim is committed to our core principles of an open internet and freedom of expression, and brings experience navigating complex, global issues with a principled approach.”

The move is certain to infuriate Trump. As general counsel for the FBI during the bureau’s investigation of Russia and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, Baker played an integral role in the probe, which the president has called a “witch hunt.”

Baker, whom The Washington Post described as “one of the most trusted, longest-serving national security officials in the government,” was reassigned in December 2017. Baker resigned from the FBI in May 2018 and joined the Brookings Institute.

Trump has clashed with Twitter when the social media company began fact-checking some of his tweets.

Harvey Goldstein: A Reimagined Police Force Must Be A Win/Win To Make A Difference

The author is an organizational development consultant, psychologist, trainer, and speaker for public safety, non-profit, and private sector entities.

By Harvey Goldstein

George Floyd.

The lurid almost macabre murder of George Floyd will not easily dim from our minds eye. Our nation cannot and should not turn away from transfixed horror and moral revulsion at indifference in taking a life. This and a string of recent incidents has raised the heat from a simmering stew of social injustices to a boiling caldron of suppressed and unattended grievances. Against a backdrop of rising hate crime, the broad coalition of protesters have unleashed a reservoir of ill will toward police as a lightning rod for institutional distrust and disgust. In a civil society, innocent loss of life is always tragic and matters. The broad-based firestorm of protest springs from a blatant visual that confirmed the worst fears of all peoples. This betrayal of “legitimacy “by four police officers has ignited the most negative portrait of police service. Acts of seeming retribution and displaced anger at police leaves us all at a crossroads.

Gandhi suggested that “we must be the change we want to see in the world.” The public outrage at malign police intent ought not be ascribed to the entire police profession with a broad brush. To do so resonates with the same venal tone as the racism that is being railed against. What is certain is that the explanation of “a few bad apples “will no longer quell long standing, high profile grievances about unequal treatment of minorities.

The Issues Are Not Just Black And White

Harvey Goldstein (Linkedin photo)

In the role of a civilian police psychologist for four decades I bear witness that the vast majority of the law enforcement community is comprised of professional, decent, incredibly giving, kind, brave, helpful and compassionate people. Most are repulsed by a policeman totally bereft of the humanity that so many labor daily to protect. To demonize them would be a further travesty of justice. If you ask a police officer if they are racist, they are likely to say that there isn’t a racist bone in their body. Past studies on the police population suggest having spontaneous negative biases doesn’t necessarily result in discrimination. I believe that there are biased automatic precursors to behavior that sometimes result in outright racism and sometimes not. Regulating the underlying catalyst for aggressive escalation is what needs to be targeted in training scenarios and assessments.

The outcry for “defunding “police springs from raw and earnest anger but portends no real viable alternative. Defunding smacks of self-defeating naivete. It can only hurt the law-abiding people in communities when you don’t have good cops to respond to crime.

Throwing the baby out with the bathwater is not the solution. However, the bathwater needs refreshing, and the tub does need a sound scrubbing. A wider lens reveals another side to the story.

When considering “police reform” will that include the “oversight” institutions that have failed us mightily, leaving law enforcement without clarity, more defined limits or corrective guidance? Instead, the “parental” institutions have provided wide berth and cover for extreme behaviors with scant accountability.

“Police officers don’t face justice more often for a variety of reasons — from powerful police unions to the blue wall of silence to cowardly prosecutors to reluctant juries. But it is the Supreme Court that has enabled a culture of violence and abuse by eviscerating a vital civil rights law to provide police officers what, in practice, is nearly limitless immunity from prosecution for actions taken while on the job. The badge has become a get-out-of-jail-free card in far too many instances.”

5/29/20, How the Supreme Court Lets Cops Get Away With Murder, New York Times

Unions who are effective defenders of salary and work conditions do harm to their profession when they defend any and all police actions as righteous. These messages all give oxygen to more extreme tactics towards those deemed non-compliant. If there is one thing you can count on in this life it is that a behavior reinforced is more likely to reoccur.

Read more »

Matthew R. Alcoke Named Special Agent in Charge of Counterterrorism Division of Washington Field Office

The FBI’s Counterterrorism Division.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Matthew R. Alcoke has been named special agent in charge of the Counterterrorism Division of the Washington Field Office.

Alcoke had been serving as a deputy assistant director in the Counterterrorism Division at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Alcoke became a special agent for the FBI in 1997 and spent 15 years as a case agent on the FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force in the Chicago Field Office. In addition, he served as Behavioral Analysis Unit coordinator in Chicago from 1999 to 2012 and as a SWAT operator from 2006 to 2012.

In 2012, Alcoke was promoted to supervisor of a Chicago Safe Streets and Gang Task Force in 2012 and served as the violent criminal threat program coordinator.

In 2015, Alcoke became assistant section chief in the Counterterrorism Division at headquarters, leading the operational analysis branch of the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force. In 2016, Alcoke transferred to the International Terrorism Operations Section 2 as an assistant section chief, providing program management oversight for counterterrorism investigations in Europe, the Middle East, and the Levant, as well as the Counterterrorism Fly Team.

In 2017, Alcoke became assistant special agent in charge of the Criminal Branch of the Atlanta Field Office before returning to headquarters as a section chief in the Office of Partner Engagement in 2018. He was promoted to deputy assistant director in the Counterterrorism Division in 2019.

Before joining the FBI, Alcoke served as a patrolman for the Cleveland Police Department. He graduated from the Miami University in Ohio.