Congratulations to member The Business Monthly for winning 17 MDDC Press Association awards, including News Organization of the Year!
The Business Monthly also had a first-place win in the design contest for the Howard County Chamber's 2021 Business Guide and Directory.
Good news! MDDC Press Association cited WJW for excellence in 2021. Click here and see the stories that topped the judges' lists.
The Baltimore Jewish Times is proud to announce that we won five awards this past week at the MDDC Press Association contest. The JT won awards in editorial, religion reporting, news design, breaking news and medical/science reporting.
A proud day for the DSB crew! Today our staff was delighted to learn that we won the MDDC Press Association's 1st place award in Advertising-Driven Special Publication/Standalone for the 2021 print edition of Delaware Seaside Bride magazine. 🎉🥇🎉
With the legislative session scheduled to begin in less than a week, we, along with Common Cause Maryland, CASA, League of Women Voters of Maryland, NAACP - Baltimore City Branch, and MDDC Press Association are calling on both the Senate and House of Delegates to improve their COVID-19 protocols. The organizations outlined reasonable recommendations and feedback that will help eliminate confusion and ensure the public can observe and participate remotely in both chambers during the full 90-day legislative session.
Read the full release here: https://bit.ly/3HIxHiJ
In addition to winning News Organization of the Year at the MDDC Press Association awards, the BBJ also swept five categories in its division.
Congratulations to all the organizations who won awards and thank you to our readers and advertisers and to the MDDC Press Association for their support of local journalism.
Another big day for our staff at the MDDC Press Association awards! In its division, the Coastal Point's new website won first place for General Excellence; Shaun Lambert won first place for Breaking News Photo, as well as second place in both Photo Series and Sports Action Photo; and Executive Editor Darin McCann swept all three editorial/column categories, taking first and second places in Editorial, Local Column: Critical Thinking and Local Column: Feature or Humor. We'll have more staff recognition coming soon.
Corruption at the Top Levels of Delaware Government. This Stinks and the true tragedy is that...No one is at all surprised.
Exposé: Is Law Enforcement in LA County Terrorism?
By John Burl Smith
Black Lives Matter protests have made the “Fugitive Slave Act of 1850” a today concern for African Americans. Law enforcement is a deadly plague America’s slavery’s descendants and other brown, red and yellow people. The demand to defund police is to addresses brutality and murder by law enforcement. Whether it is termed defunding or reforming policing must change.
Recent reports discussing law enforcement across America are very disturbing, because they identify police criminal enterprises and good old boy networks that are hidden within policing operations and media fails to expose sham investigations disguising police gangs from the public. A series of eye opening exposés on Los Angeles County, California, reflect the depth of the problem. Deputy Austreberto Gonzalez, a decorated Marine veteran, with the Compton Sheriff Department (2007), filed a whistleblower complaint charging, “A gang of deputies, ‘Executioners,’ terrorized me and other deputies. Deputies who do not go along with this gang of ‘Executioner’ deputies’ demands are harassed, beaten, intimidated and denied promotions.”
Deputy Gonzalez was targeted, after reporting a fellow deputy, Thomas Banuelos, was beaten by an “Executioner,” outside the patrol station. Now he says, “I’m afraid for my safety and the safety of my family.” His attorney, Alan Romero, told EyewitnessNews, “He should be. These are very violent people, in a very violent gang, you know—violence, shooting, and beating people. These deputies celebrate after shooting citizens at ‘tattoo parties.’ They also set illegal arrest quotas and control duty assignments.”
Compton city leaders sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra requesting civil rights investigations into the Compton sheriff station, but received “no response.” Days after deputy Banuelos was assault by an “Executioner,” Gonzalez filed an anonymous report with internal affairs. However, his text was posted at the parking lot entrance saying: ‘ART IS A RAT.’ This was the first direct ‘Executioners’ retaliation against me.”
“Executioners’ sport matching tattoos and are celebrated throughout the LA Sheriff Department.” Gonzalez continued, “Executioners,’ wield tremendous power, commanding obedience at Compton station. The ‘Executioner’ tattoo has a skull with N**i imagery and an AK-47. The tattoo signifies a deputy has been ‘inked’ for shooting a citizen, which they received during ‘inking parties.’ ‘Executioners’ set illegal arrest quotas and threatening work slowdowns anytime their power is threatened. They ignore or respond very slowly to calls for help, if they are not given preferred assignments, promotions or other advancements,” according to Gonzalez’s claim.
Gonzalez detailed this surreal tragedy, “Deputy Jaime Juarez an inked ‘shotcaller’ for the ‘Executioners,’ and enforces illegal work slowdowns. They stopped performing their duties to ‘impose their will’ on CPT. Juarez attempted to flex the gang’s muscle with Captain Larry Waldie, pressuring him to change Training and Scheduling for deputy positions. Captain Waldie assigned shifts, a very desirable position for the gang, which would allow their members to receive preferential shifts assignments. When Capt. Waldie refused, Deputy Juarez signaled ‘Executioners’ to stage a work slowdown.”
‘Inked’ deputies with monikers like—Spartans, Regulators, Grim Reapers and Banditos—are the source of long-standing concerns; such groups currently operate at several sheriff stations, constituting criminal enterprises within law enforcement. Such ruthless groups have sparked multiple internal investigations, but despite recent FBI probes, these groups remain entrenched, leading civil liberties advocates to accuse the Sheriff’s Department of complicity and turning a blind eye.
Att. Romero, who represents Gonzalez proclaimed, “We have a gang that has grown so powerful it dominates every aspect of life at the Compton station. It essentially controls scheduling, the distribution of informant tips, and assignment preferences for gang members.” Contrarily, Sheriff Alex Villanueva say, “I have ordered an investigation. But I know there is no gang of any deputies running any station. But, I am disturbed by the allegations in Gonzalez’s claim and swift administrative action is being taken.”
Sounding like Donald Trump, disclaiming “any responsibility for COVID-19 deaths,” Villanueva said, “I take these allegations very seriously and recently enacted a policy specifically addressing illicit groups, deputy cliques, and subgroups, and I instituted measures in February that prohibit deputies from participating in cliques.” However, Inspector General Max Huntsman contradicted Villanueva’s rosy scenario, “I am not aware of no implementation whatsoever of the policy. My office has not been able to effectively investigate these secret societies because of obstruction by the Sheriff’s Department. It’s in writing, but has not been implemented, no investigations have been conducted,” Huntsman told the Civilian Oversight Commission. Moreover,“ state government seems complicit.”
Gonzalez’s complaint states, “Gangs at Compton station numbers about 20 deputies, while 20more are prospects or associates. Most work at night and communicate through WhatsApp. Black and female deputies are not allowed in these gangs. Nearly all CPT Deputies involved in high-profile shootings and out-of-policy beatings at CPT have been ‘inked’ members of the ‘Executioners.’ Roughly 1/5of the 100 deputies at the Compton Station are part of the ‘Executioners gang,’” his filing says. “Some 20other deputies are closely associated with the gang, awaiting ‘Executioners inking.’ Members become ‘inked’ as ‘Executioners’ after executing members of the public or commit acts of violence to further gang power. Deputies refused to partner with me, while a dispatcher, an “inked” deputy, dumped excessive calls on me. ‘Executioner’ retaliation against me forced my resignation from a field training officer position, Gonzalez explained.
The subculture of matching tattoos is not a new phenomenon. Deputy gangs are deeply rooted in the LA County Sheriff’s Department. Secret societies are blamed for glorifying brutal policing. Sean Kennedy, member of the Civilian Oversight Commission, a professor at Loyola Law School, stated “My students and I have identified at least 17 department gangs.” Although Sheriff Villanueva claims gangs do not exist, defenders say “gangs represent hard work, boost morale and camaraderie.” Moreover, last year the FBI interviewed deputies about gangs falsely reporting violence, while violating civil rights of the public, but no report has surfaced. The Rand Corporation, a nonprofit research agency, studied gang culture at CPT, its report was due in January, but was not released.” Maybe, “Executioners” also dominate “The Rand”.
While flooding media with disclaimers, CPT still face extra scrutiny over high-profile uses of force allegations. The arrest and beating of Dalvin Price in May is an example. Three deputies beat Dalvin severely. Also, Andres Guardado, an 18-year-old, was shot fatally in the back five times in Gardena by a deputy. Such beatings and shootings sounds like “inking parties.” Compton police gangs were first revealed in the civil case of Donta Taylor, 31, killed by a deputy, during a foot chase in 2016. Another LA County ‘inking party’ possibly that was settled for $7million. A deputy, Samuel Aldama, admitted under oath to having ink, a calf tattoo, depicting a skull with arifle, a military-style helmet in flames and “CPT” for Compton. Att. Romero said, this is the same image found posted at ‘the station’s parking lot entrance saying: ‘ART IS A RAT.’ A top jail official stated that, ‘gangs of deputies’ at Men’s Central Jail ‘earned ink’ by breaking inmates’ bones.
Once gang revelations exploded in the press, Sheriff Villanueva condemned Gonzalez’s claim, like Donald Trump blamed his predecessor, “I implemented reforms to stop abuse and corruption committed by former Sheriff Lee Baca and his Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, tattooed members of the Vikings.” Again however, two deputies complained in 2017 that they were improperly punished with undesirable assignments for not meeting illegal arrest quotas and were told by a sergeant: “Yes, you should have known that by now.” Illegal arrest quotas allow deputies to double arrest numbers each month, which also means hundreds of citizens’ civil rights” were violated. According to Att. John Sweeney, who represented the Taylor family, “This is an atomic bomb that has been dropped on law enforcement and it reflects Gonzalez’s claim.”
Sweeney’s firm represents another excessive-force case involving the same deputies from the Taylor case. Deputies beat Sheldon Lockett and used racial slurs at him, during an incident in 2016, LA County denied allegations. Today, Lockett’s attorneys are citing Gonzalez’s claim in their court filing to reopen discovery, seeking to depose several deputies again and examine their WhatsApp accounts.
Compton is now considering defunding the Sheriff’s Department, and believed that will save $7 of the $22-million it spends for policing. Sheriff’s deputies have been operating like a1920s mob of gangsters. Deputies fired 120 rounds at an unarmed man in a moving vehicle, wounding him four times in2005. In 2009, a 16-year-old boy was fatally shot in the back by a Compton deputy, who claimed the boy pointed a gun at him. The family’s attorney said the deputy planted a “drop weapon.” These shootings fit Gonzalez’s description of “inking” requirements of the “Executioners.”
Deputy Thomas Banuelos said, “I endured five years of ‘bullying and intimidation’ from ‘Executioners,’ at the Compton station. I received a very violent vicious and bloody beating that nearly killed me, at the hands of an ‘Executioner.’ He had me on the ground and just bashed my head with his elbow over and over and over again. I suffered injuries to my head, but did not report the beating because ‘Executioners’ told me ‘not to cooperate with investigators and to lie about the violent attack. They threatened even ‘more violence,’ so I had to meet with Deputy Eugene Contreras, an ‘enforcer’ of the gang.
Deputy Contreras told me ‘if you open your mouth, you’ll be labeled no good,’ this meant I would be open to sudden retaliatory attacks at the station by all members of the gang.” Att. Romero told EyewitnessNews, “Banuelos was also ordered by the department not to talk about the matter until they complete their investigation.” However, Banuelos spoke up by filing his complaint.
Gangs of deputies like the “Vikings,” “Regulators,” “Jump Out Boys,” “3000 Boys,” “Banditos” and now the “Executioners” have infested the LA County Sheriff’s Department for decades. A county document obtained by EyewitnessNews lists dozens of cases since the 1990s related to deputy gangs leading to nearly $55 million in court judgments and settlements. Many lawsuits, including one related to the “Banditos,” are still pending.
Although this may read like an action novel, it reflects a real very very deadly situation for black residents of Compton. Derrick Cooper, founder of the L.A. City Wildcats Youth Academy in Compton said, “I was arrested last Thanksgiving while preparing a meal for my group. I wasn’t told why I was arrested. At the county jail, I was locked butt naked in a shower, with over 200 other men. Deputies said, ‘I fit the description of someone they were looking for.’ Deputies hauled me off, as young black men looked on. Then, I was released without charges. The department apologized, but that did not change what happened. It did not erase the incident from my kids’ minds. Maybe that was the point; showing them black people’s rights is not respected!
Jermelle Henderson, who city officials call a community partner, who contributes toys and food in the community, said, “A deputy pulled me over at gunpoint. They grabbed my arms, pulling me out of the car, and put me in handcuffs. I asked why she was doing this. She said, ‘Oh, this is what we do in Compton.’ I was handcuffed and detained in the back of a patrol car, before I was released with no explanation. The deputy recognized me as owner of Taco Mell, and she had come by ‘for a care package.’” Henderson’s attorney, Walter Mosley said, “He’s not a gang banger, and not a drug dealer... he makes food for our community. But, the way things are in Compton, he didn’t know if he would make it home from a traffic stop.”
Compton’s City Council was outraged again on August 6, 2020 when Mayor Aja Brown was forced from her car and humiliatingly searched by LA County deputies. The Council called on the State of California to investigate allegations of violence, intimidation, terrorism, false arrests, excessive force and other corruption charges against the Compton Sheriff’s Department and deputies gangs like “The Executioners.” Jasmyne A. Cannick of CNN detailed Mayor Aja Brown’s appealing and degrading encounter, during a “traffic stop.” She called for state AG Xavier Becerra and the U.S. Justice Department to investigate deputy gangs in the LA County Compton Sheriff’s Department. Police use of excessive force, discriminatory policing, improper stops, searches, arrests and murders of citizens in Compton; but neither commented, as though they supported the Sheriff, rather than Mayor Brown.
Mayor Aja Brown said, “I was driving through the city, when a Compton sheriff’s deputy made a hard u-turn in traffic to pull me over. I was with my husband and baby daughter. I rolled my window down and asked why I was being pulled over. Within seconds nine sheriff deputy vehicles arrived on the scene. They ordered me out of my car, while demanding I spread-eagle with my hands on the squad car.” The Mayor should have been recognizable by people she employs, which speaks volumes about deputies open disregard for black people’s rights, because not one spoke up or questioned her treatment.
While manhandling Mayor Brown, deputies claimed she ran a red light, which she adamantly denies, but did not seem to matter. “Although deputies claimed they stop me for running a red light, they immediately began looking for drugs, of course none were found. They frisked me down, as if I was a criminal. Mind you, I was accompanied by my husband and my infant daughter in her car seat. I did not look like a drugs trafficker. My infant daughter was screaming at the top of her lungs, as deputies pulled her father from the car to search him and the car.” A watch commander arrived, after Mayor Brown was manhandled and degradingly searched, he released her before they hauled her off to Jail.
“Although I filed an official complaint with the LASD, the response was totally unsatisfactory. I plan to file a lawsuit against the LA County Sheriff; that is the only thing they understand. They will remember who I am and how I look, after that. And, even though deputies gave me a ticket, they tore it up without explanation.” I believe the Mayor was right, they realized they did not dare show up in court to defend the ticket and violating her, and her family’s civil rights, not to mention humiliating and degrading her in front of her husband, who had to watch, deputies run their hands all over her. Thank God they did not demand a cavity search, as in many cases with black women!
Consider the psychological anguish inflicted upon her, an infant child, and husband, during that entire episode. This was an insult to her constituents, who are embarrassed for her, not to mention the mental trauma, seeing their leader treated in that manner. Following that disgusting displays of contempt and disregard suffered by Mayor Brown, as a city official, the painful and deadly truth of police gangs on the innocent is never considered. Politicians across America should be outraged, while expressing total indignation and revulsion, that a city Mayor was treated with such disregard by police. Where is Gov. Gavin Newsom’s support for Mayor Aja Brown’s fight against police gangs in Compton?
I truly feel Aja Brown’s husband’s rage and anguish, as both women he cares most about were degraded and humiliated before his eyes. But, a black man in America knows in such situations any show of outrage could get him, as well as his family killed, while police claim she and he were angry over the traffic ticket. More importantly, with “qualified immunity” no one would pay. Black Lives Matter only if white Americans watch black people die for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
In fact, I believe, those cops recognized Mayor Brown, which is why they made the u-turn. Defunding the Sheriff Department by Compton will put all those deputies out of cushy jobs, which was the point of the charade. They were putting Mayor Aja Brown in the place. Compton is their town, they run it, and can handle her any way they pleased, or were it, “misogynoir?” No white woman in America, let alone an elected official, would never be manhandled and subjected to such total disrespect. We know Republicans are cowards; Donald Trump loved degrading women, so why are Democrats silent? My question is without a federal motorcade, would deputies recognize Sen. Kamala Harris, who has been labored angry, would she be made to spread-eagle and patted down, as Mayor Aja Brown?