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Good Cop Stripped Of Badge For Whistle-blowing Horrific Brutality Covered Up

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A police sergeant in Joliet, Illinois, has been stripped of his badge and placed on administrative leave after he whistleblew the cover-up of the murder of a man who was tortured to death by his colleagues.

Sgt. Javier “Butch” Esqueda, was emotional when revealing the horrific death of Eric Lurry, a Black man from Joliet, who was choked to death in the back of a squad car in shocking footage captured on video.

“Seeing that video was so disturbing, I cried,” Sgt. Esqueda said. “Every day, having to live with that was a hard thing.”

On Tuesday, protesters marched around the Joliet Police Department shouting for justice for Lurry while praising Sgt. Esqueda, a 27-year police veteran who was fired for breaking the code of silence within law enforcement, reports CBS2 Chicago.

Following the outrage, Joliet City Manager Steve Jones resigned after a City Council meeting where the brutal details surrounding Lurry’s death were discussed. During the meeting, Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk commented that he had “grave concerns” over the dashboard video filmed inside the police cruiser and subsequent cover-up by Joliet PD that ensued after Lurry’s death.

Eric Lurry Jr., a 37-year-old man was arrested in an undercover sting operation after he was allegedly found to be hiding drugs in his mouth. Police claimed that he had experienced a medical emergency while he was in custody which lead to his death at Joseph’s Hospital. However, the facts that emerged following his death from video recorded inside a police cruiser show a much different horrifying story.

In the video, Joliet Police Sgt. Doug May and another officer can be seen violently shaking Lurry while the man is in handcuffs then beating him while holding his nose shut in an attempt to force the drugs out of his mouth. Lurry was motionless as the officers held him down. Beyond that what happens next is bone-chilling an officer at some point in the video places his baton in Lurry’s mouth before officers shined a flashlight in his mouth and Lurry just slumps over motionless.

Esqueda believes that Lurry suffocated to death in this situation and that anyone in the same position would have faced a similar fate.

“He was suffocating,” Esqueda said. “In my opinion, anybody would suffocate in that situation.”

For five months, the video was hidden while the officers who killed Lurry were cleared of any wrongdoing getting away with murder backed by the police Dept according to Esqueda. That was until the hero cop acted gaining unauthorized access to the video from the Will-Grundy Major Crimes Task Force releasing it to CBS2.

However, Esqueada noticed something odd with the tape it was edited and the sound was missing.

“It was almost like the supervisor looks off and says something to somebody, and then you hear the sound cut out,” Esqueda added. “That’s what alerted me that possibly, they were trying to get rid of evidence.”

“There had to be” a deliberate attempt to remove the audio, he added. “There’s no way that can happen.”

Esqueda knew that he faced retaliation from his superiors but he did it because he knew that the family would never get justice if he didn’t, adding that he didn’t want to be apart of the problem. Esqueda also spoke about the George Floyd police murder stating he was appalled by it and cried.

“There’s some fear [of retaliation],” Esqueda said. “[But] when you see stuff like this, you have to come forward. You can’t sit there and be quiet, because then, we’re just part of the problem.”

“In light of everything that’s’ been happening – you know George Floyd really had a lot of us police officers [upset],” Esqueda said. “When we saw that video, a lot of us cried. People don’t believe that.”

“But the thing is, there are a lot of good officers out of 750,000,” he added. “Not everybody is a bad cop. Most cops that I know were upset by George Floyd.”

On Monday, Esqueda was placed on administrative duty in the Joliet PD records section as the department launched a criminal probe and internal investigation into his actions.

“The video that was accessed was shared outside the police department, violating chain of custody and potentially evidence in the criminal matter,” JPD Chief Al Roechner told the Joliet Herald-News. “When this was found out on June 18 of 2020, I immediately opened a criminal investigation.”

Despite being placed on administrative leave, the local community and even the Black Police Officers Association is backing Esqueda.

“He’s a member, and we’re going to back him,” Dave Jackson, president of the Joliet BPOA chapter, told Joliet Patch.

“If someone’s doing the right thing, we’re going to stand right there with them,” he added. “Sergeant Esqueda has been held as a well-respected supervisor and United States Marine and has served his country and his community proudly.”

“Without Sgt. Esqueda drawing attention to this death to city officials, this in-custody death may still be pending,” Jackson said.

Community members are now petitioning for Esqueda to be reinstated on Change.org titled “Immediate and Full Reinstatement of Police Sergeant Javier Esqueda.”

 

Alex Baldridge is an activist and freelance journalist from the midwestern United States who was inspired to become a writer after watching the development of the Wikileaks story and the persecution of Julian Assange. Alex is especially interested in topics like surveillance, the rise of automation, foreign policy, prison reform, and the legal system.

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Colombian Govt Wants To Legalize Cocaine And Then Sell It

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This article was originally published On Dec 3, 2020

Colombia is one of the most notorious producers of cocaine in the world, despite the fact that the country has gone to great lengths in hopes of diminishing the trade of the drug trade within its borders.

Now, some members of the Columbian government are proposing a new approach. They are calling for the drug to be legalized and for the government to take control of the industry for themselves.

In a new bill first proposed earlier this year, senators Iván Marulanda and Feliciano Valencia call for the Colombian government to take total control of the cocaine industry to bolster public funds and cut violent cartels out of the trade.

In a recent interview with VICE, Marulanda explained that the government would purchase coca at market price from the 200,000 farming families that are believed to be involved in the trade.

The senators argued that it would actually be cheaper for authorities to buy the crop from the farmers than it would for them to destroy their crops. It costs the government roughly $1 billion every year to destroy coca crops, while it would only cost about $680 million to buy it.

The thing is, we have to recover control over the state. We’re losing control of the state to corruption, narcos in politics. They’re in municipalities, in departments and in congress. All the way to the highest echelons of government,” Marulanda explained.

From here, the state would supply cocaine to users and research groups looking to study its use for painkillers, but it would not be sold recreationally. However, cocaine use is already legal in Columbia, after a court ruled that personal consumption was a human right.

Marulanda is not sure if his bill will make an impact, or how long it will take to gain traction, but he is hoping to make it a major election issue in 2022.

‘The first big obstacle is to open up the conversation among public opinion. This has been a giant taboo. Colombians are born and raised under this assumption that drug-trafficking is a war. There’s no information about coca and cocaine. So, with this bill we hope to open the conversation,” he explained.

In recent years, the government has stepped up their military-police-style enforcement of the industry, and yet cocaine production continues to grow in the country.

Coca cultivation reached 212,000 hectares last year, a rise of nearly 2% from 208,000 hectares the year before, according to figures released by the White House in March. Potential pure cocaine production, meanwhile, rose to 951 metric tons, an 8% increase, according to the Associated Press.

“It’s pretty remarkable that they manually eradicated 100,000 hectares last year and didn’t move the needle,” Adam Isacson of the Washington Office on Latin America think tank said earlier this year. “I guess it means replanting has at least kept pace.”

It seems that no matter what the government does, the cocaine keeps on coming, so politicians are willing to try things that may drastic. However, as Marulanda pointed out in his interview with Vice, cutting out the criminal middlemen will reduce the violence seen in the country’s drug war, and also make the drug safer for the people who use it.

UPDATE: Historic win for coca/cocaine regulation Bill in Colombian Senate – 22nd April 2021

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Another Little Black Book That Once Belonged To Epstein With New Names Is Found

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It is well-known that the late pedophile Jeffrey Epstein kept detailed records of all the powerful people that he stayed in contact with. There is a notorious “little black book” that was published by Gawker in 2015, which exposed many of the powerful people in his circle. This book is believed to contain the contacts that he most frequently called around 2004 and 2005. However, a new list of contacts, recently published by The Insider, reveals new names that were friends with Epstein in the 1990s.

The new black book has the names of 349 people, many of whom did not appear in the list that was previously released to the public.

Among the names on the list are Suzanne Ircha, who’s married to Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets, famous wall street investor Carl Icahn, supermarket owner John A. Catsimatidis, actress Morgan Fairchild, former New Republic owner Marty Peretz; and Cristina Greeven, the wife of CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.

The new black book was made public through a strange twist of fate. A woman initially found the book in the late 1990s and saved it for many years until she finally sold it on eBay.

Denise Ondayko, the woman who found the book, said she was walking down Fifth Avenue in the mid-’90s when she spotted a black address book on the ground. She said that she didn’t realize it was Epstein’s book at the time, because he was pretty much unknown to the public, but she did realize that it had a lot of famous names and figured that it might be worth something, so she held onto it.

Last year, Ondayko was cleaning out an old storage unit where she was keeping some of her things and she stumbled upon the book. Now that Epstein was all over the news, the information contained in the book was much more obvious to identify.

Ondayko said she reached out to everyone in the media that she could, including John Oliver, Rachel Maddow, and The New York Times, but none of them ever got back to her, so she eventually just put it up for sale on eBay.

The buyer was Chris Helali, an aspiring politician from Vermont. He purchased the book for $425.

Helali also tried reaching out to the media, including journalists that were already reporting on Epstein, but none of them seemed interested. Finally, Nick Bryant, the reporter who wrote the original Gawker black book story forwarded the book to the Insider who decided to publish.

Insider hired Dennis Ryan, a former forensic document examiner and laboratory supervisor for the Nassau County Police Department, to verify the authenticity of the book. Ryan says that the book is definitely from the late 90s, and many of the dates and addresses match up perfectly with Epstein’s properties and known contacts at the time.

The Insider also reached out to dozens of contacts listed in the book who had never previously been publicly associated with Epstein. Fourteen acknowledged on the record that they knew or had met Epstein in the ’90s.

There are over 120 names that appear in both books, including Donald Trump and Bill Clinton. Some of the other names included, Steve Rattner, Beth Anne Bovino, Dominique Bluhdorn, Jill Harth, Ted Field, Robert Nunnery, Stanley Shopkorn, Steve Ruchevsky, Ellen Susman, William and Ann Nitze, Les Gelb, Ron Daniel, Sandy Warner, Cyril Fung, Marius Fortelni, Michael Cutlip. Many of these names aren’t necessarily famous, but they are very powerful people in business and finance.

The address book is now available in a searchable database on the Insider, but it is unfortunately hidden behind a paywall.

 

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Ghislaine Maxwell’s Lawyers Cite Cosby Case As Precedent To Have Her Released From Prison

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Last week, former actor Bill Cosby was released from prison on a technicality, despite the fact that he admitted to drugging and assaulting multiple women, and was accused by many others. After his release, legal experts warned that the ruling could set a dangerous precedent that attorneys in similar cases would use to get their clients released as well.

Now, just a week later, Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers are arguing that she should have her case thrown out on the same grounds, according to The Guardian.

Cosby was released because the prosecutor involved initially didn’t press any charges, and claimed that Cosby would not be facing any legal trouble, so when Cosby later confessed, his confession was called into question and no longer admissible in court. The judge also ruled that Cosby had no chance of a fair trial because evidence that was not admissible was so freely available in the media that the jury was unable to make a judgment without considering those facts.

Photo: AP

Maxwell’s case is similar because the first time that Epstein was arrested for human trafficking, he was given a sweetheart deal by Alex Acosta, a friendly prosecutor. The deal helped Epstein avoid any serious jail time, but it also gave him and his associates legal protection from being held accountable for any future crimes.

Obviously, it is not possible to shield a criminal from the consequences of actions that they will take in the future, so Epstein was arrested again many years later after it was discovered that he continued his crimes long after his initial arrest. If Epstein and his friends did have any kind of immunity from that deal, it ended when they continued to commit crimes after the deal was made.

Still, Maxwell’s lawyers are optimistic after Cosby’s recent release.

“The government is trying to renege on its agreement and prosecute Ms Maxwell over 25 years later for the exact same offenses for which she was granted immunity,” Maxwell’s lawyers wrote in a statement to Judge Alison Nathan.

However, the judge has previously ruled that the deal did not apply to the current case.

In an opinion piece for the New York Daily News, Maxwell’s attorney David Oscar Markus wrote that releasing Bill Cosby from prison was the right decision, and that Ghislaine Maxwell should be released as well. Markus argued that prosecutors should have to keep the promises that they make to suspects, because people will sometimes incriminate themselves if they think they have immunity.

However, many times prosecutors are corrupt and make promises that are against the best interests of the public, as we saw in Jeffrey Epstein’s first “sweetheart deal” with Alex Acosta while he was district attorney in Southern, Florida. Prosecutors are lawyers, they aren’t the judge and jury, and they shouldn’t hold this much power in a case this serious.

Judge Alison Nathan has not yet responded to the recent request, but she did condemn the recent opinion piece that was published by her lawyers in the New York Daily News earlier this week.

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