TIME Hong Kong

Claims of Police Brutality Threaten to Escalate the Hong Kong Protests

Police have been caught on video beating up a political activist

In a case that has shocked Hong Kong and inflamed tensions in a city now in its third week of mass pro-democracy protests, six police officers have been caught on video kicking and beating a prominent political activist.

The man allegedly assaulted was Civic Party member and social worker Ken Tsang, who was one of 45 people arrested early Wednesday as demonstrators attempted to throw up fresh barricades across a major thoroughfare leading to the main financial district.

(PHOTOS: See Inside Hong Kong’s Protests)

In the video, Tsang offers no resistance to police.

Mabel Au, local director at Amnesty International, said there was little doubt of “excessive force” after Tsang was filmed being “taken to a dark corner” and “kicked and beaten up by the police for four minutes” with hands secured behind his back. “We are very shocked and disappointed by such behavior,” she said.

Video of the attack has been repeatedly broadcast on local television news and the officers involved have been assigned to other duties.

A spokesman for Tsang told TIME the police’s actions were “clearly criminal” and reassignment was not enough. “They should be arrested,” he said.

A police statement early Wednesday expressed “concern” over the video and promised that the police would conduct an investigation “impartially.”

Trouble sparked shortly before 10 p.m. local time on Tuesday, when several dozen demonstrators stopped traffic at the Lung Wo Road tunnel, a key artery that runs by Hong Kong’s government headquarters and parallel to the main protest site.

After attempting to intervene, some 30 police officers became trapped in the tunnel, hemmed in by protesters on either side. Scuffles broke out and the police retreated.

Protesters then set about reinforcing defenses. Hollow median dividers were filled with water and steel railings intertwined with cable ties, car tires and plastic wrap. Concrete blocks were hauled out of the tunnel’s gutter and secured by steel wire to block the roadway. Meanwhile, hundreds gathered on the lawns of Tamar Park, beside the shimmering waters of Victoria Harbour.

Demonstrators also built a symbolic grave for the head of the city’s government, Chief Executive (CE) Leung Chun-ying, also known as “C.Y.” Protesters are demanding the 60-year-old resigns and his successor chosen by free elections in 2017. The central government in Beijing insists that it must screen all candidates first.

“Everyone wants C.Y. to step down, but if that’s all that happens the next [CE] will be just the same and nothing will change without first changing the political system,” says Angel, a 30-year-old protester.

An uneasy calm held over Lung Wo Road until around 3 a.m., when hundreds of police brandishing batons and pepper spray bore down to clear the area. Davis Matthews, 27, showed TIME video footage of an officer firing pepper spray into his face.

“I wasn’t protesting anything, or shouting, but just documenting what was going on,” he said. “It was like a military action. We made eye contact just before he sprayed me and he didn’t seem happy.”

Police and legislators insist the demonstrations are an issue of law and order, and that officers are simply reclaiming public roads. Supporters of the democracy movement insist the conflict—now the most politically significant protest in China since the Tiananmen occupation of 1989—can only be solved by dialogue.

“We are eager, we are happy to engage in dialogue, but they turn us down,” pro-democracy lawmaker Emily Lau told a Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents Club luncheon Tuesday. “The way out is for the government to have talks.”

However, the potential for meaningful negotiation is hindered by a lack of leadership. The democracy movement is comprised of a disparate collection of students, liberal politicians and activist groups—and protest actions, such as last night’s attempt to barricade Lung Wo Road, are happening spontaneously.

Alex Chow, leader of the Hong Kong Students’ Federation, admitted Wednesday that the previous evening’s foray “wasn’t the students” at all. “It was an action launched by people discussing it online … launched by the citizens,” he said.

Fred Choi, 35, a radio engineer speaking by the westernmost barricades on Lung Wo Road, told TIME “We are not [from any of the main political groups] but independents who care about democracy.”

On Thursday, Chief-Executive Leung—whose approval rating has dropped to an all-time low of 42%—is due to address the Legislative Council, but students have pledged to block his path, giving renewed potential for clashes with police.

Many ordinary citizens are becoming frustrated by the continued disruption caused by the protests. The city’s subway is at breaking point, as commuters try to find alternatives to taking motor transport through the protest areas. Retail businesses near the protests are also hard hit.

However, the video of police officers apparently assaulting a peaceful demonstrator will galvanize support for the protesters, who have planned a large demonstration outside the city’s police headquarters on Wednesday afternoon.

Kai Ming Wong, a 43-year-old engineer, tells TIME he couldn’t focus on work after hearing about the police violence. “It’s ridiculous,” he said. “How are we going to trust the police in the future? It’s never been like this in Hong Kong before.”

—With reporting by Per Liljas, David Stout, Elizabeth Barber and Helen Regan / Hong Kong

TIME Drugs

Denver Police Warn Trick-or-Treaters of Marijuana-Infused Candy

"Once that candy dries, there's really no way to tell the difference between candy that's infused and candy that's not infused"

Denver police have warned parents to beware tricks rolled inside Halloween treats this year: marijuana-infused candy.

The Denver police department posted a YouTube video on Monday that shows how difficult it is to tell ordinary candy apart from knock-off candy that edible marijuana manufacturers buy in bulk and spray with a hibiscus hash oil.

“Once that candy dries, there’s really no way to tell the difference between candy that’s infused and candy that’s not infused,” said Patrick Johnson, proprietor of Urban Dispensary, one of several marijuana retailers that have cropped up across the state since the substance was legalized for recreational use last year. “There’s really no way for a child or a parent or anybody, even an expert in the field, to tell you whether or not a product is infused or not.”

His recommendation? Trash any candy that isn’t sealed in a recognizable, brand-name wrapper.

TIME Crime

See Pictures of the Weekend of Protests Around St. Louis

More acts of civil disobedience are planned beginning on Monday

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in and around St. Louis over the weekend, calling for justice after two racially charged police shootings since August.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that several days of demonstrations called “Ferguson October,” which marked just over two months since unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white police officer, gave way to a sit-in at St. Louis University during a rally for Vonderrit Myers Jr., another black teenager who was fatally shot on Oct. 8. Police say Myers fired at them first, but his family insists he was unarmed. Additional acts of civil disobedience are planned beginning on Monday.

[St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

TIME Crime

Sinister Clowns Frighten Residents in Central California Towns

Police have arrested one suspect for chasing children

Residents of Bakersfield, Calif., are on edge following reports that creepy clowns brandishing weapons are taking to the street late at night.

Reports of menacing clowns have also been on the rise in the nearby city of Wasco over the past week, where unknown individuals have been donning colorful garb and masks or face paint in order to scare locals.

Rumors have also spread that some of the bozos have been armed with guns and machetes. On Saturday night, police responded to a call that one clown was allegedly carrying a firearm; however, authorities were unable to track down the individual, reports Reuters.

“We’ve had multiple of these clown sightings all over town,” said Bakersfield police lieutenant Jason Matson, according to a report in the local press. “He was gone by the time we arrived.”

On Thursday evening, police arrested a 14-year-old male for harassing children; he was later booked at the Kern County Juvenile Hall and charged with annoying a minor. At least one child “was clearly scared as a result of being chased by the clown,” said local officials.

TIME Crime

Scenes From a Second Night of Protests Over Police Shooting in St. Louis

Protesters took to the streets for a second night in St. Louis after holding a candlelight vigil for Vonderrit Myers, the 18-year-old black man who was killed by a white off-duty officer. Authorities say the officer returned fire after Myers began shooting, but Myers' family claims he was unarmed. The incident comes about two months after unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot in nearby Ferguson, Mo., and has reignited protests over racism and excessive force by police in the area

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: October 6

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Diversity in recruitment – not residency restrictions – is the best way to build a police force that reflects the community where it works.

By Batya Ungar-Sargon and Andrew Flowers in FiveThirtyEight

2. To save Libya, western powers need to abandon the ‘war on terror’ framework and convince factions there to negotiate.

By Mattia Toaldo in the European Council on Foreign Relations

3. Cricket protein requires 20% fewer resources than beef protein. Are bugs the next big thing?

By Katie Van Syckle in Bloomberg Businessweek

4. China’s fluid definition of terrorism – often changing at the convenience of the country’s leaders – keeps the nation from being an effective partner against ISIS.

By Richard Bernstein, Ely Ratner, Jeffrey Payne, James Palmer, and Fu Hualing in ChinaFile

5. Modern pro sports commissioners are CEOs, not stewards of a public good. Split the commissioner job in two.

By Will Leitch in New York Magazine

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Crime

Watch Demonstrators Interrupt a St. Louis Symphony to Sing a ‘Requiem for Mike Brown’

Audience members sang "Which side are you on, friend, which side are you on?"

About 50 audience members interrupted the St. Louis Symphony’s performance Saturday night to sing a requiem for Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager whose killing sparked weeks of often protests in Ferguson, Mo.

As the orchestra was about to play the second act of German Requiem following intermission, a man stood up in the audience and sang, “What side are you on, friend, what side are you on?” according to the St. Louis American. He was soon joined by dozens of the audience members for the second refrain, “justice for Mike Brown is justices for us all.” The demonstrators repeated the verses over and over again, you can watch the video (shot by St. Louis American reporter Rebecca Rivas) above.

Demonstrators in the balconies hung banners that said “‘Requiem for Mike Brown, 1996-2014″ and “Racism lives here.” After a few minutes of singing, they started chanting “black lives matter” as they left the theater. The demonstration was organized by Sarah Griesbach, a 42-year old white woman who has been protesting against racial inequalities in the St. Louis area since Brown’s death in early August.

[St. Louis American]

TIME Crime

Behind the Messy Science of Police Lineups

Thomas Haynesworth answers questions from the media after he was released from the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Va., on March 21, 2011.
Thomas Haynesworth answers questions from the media after he was released from the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Va., on March 21, 2011. P. Kevin Morley—Richmond Times-Dispatch/AP

A National Academy of Sciences report recommends sweeping changes to how police departments conduct lineups as researchers remain at odds

In 1984, Thomas Haynesworth—an 18-year-old resident of Richmond, Va.—was accused of rape by five women, one of whom had identified Haynesworth by spotting him on the street. Later, four other victims picked his face out of a police lineup. That was the man who raped them, they said. One of them even told the jury, “He had a face I couldn’t forget.”

Haynesworth was convicted in three of the attacks and sentenced to 74 years in prison. But he was innocent.

In 2009, DNA testing linked Leon Davis, who had been convicted of other assaults in the Richmond area around the same time, to one of the women who initially accused Haynesworth of rape. Several attorneys eventually investigated the cases involving Haynesworth and reached the conclusion that in fact Davis was responsible for all three rapes. In March 2011, Haynesworth was released from prison after almost 30 years behind bars. In December, he was fully exonerated.

The Haynesworth case is one of the most egregious to emerge from the fallibility not only of human memory but of police lineups and the way they’re often conducted around the country.

Most people think of the lineup the way it’s often shown in movies or on TV: You bring a handful of unsavory guys into the police station. One of them is the real suspect while the others are just fillers. Then the witness immediately points and says, That’s him!

But few departments conduct lineups today with live suspects. Most use photo arrays, sometimes on a computer, that are presented to a witness. Over the last few decades, a handful of researchers have studied the way those lineups are administered with troubling conclusions: Too often, police lineups lead to eyewitness misidentifications, put innocent people in prison and allow the real culprits to go free.

According to the Innocence Project, eyewitness misidentification has been a factor in 72% of convictions that have been overturned by DNA testing. The National Registry of Exonerations, which works in conjunction with the University of Michigan, traces 507 of the 1,434 exonerations back to mistaken witness identification. But according to researchers, many police departments don’t know the underlying problems associated with troublesome lineups, don’t have the resources to conduct better ones, or are confused as to the best way to go about them.

On Thursday, the National Academy of Sciences, a non-profit organization of experts and academics around the U.S., released the first comprehensive report to review decades of literature on lineups while offering sweeping recommendations on how they should be conducted, including ensuring that those administering them are not aware of the suspect’s identity, developing standard instructions for witnesses so as to not bias their pick, videotaping the ID process and recording confidence statements from witnesses at the time of an identification.

“Eyewitnesses that lead to erroneous convictions are very disturbing,” says Tom Albright, a professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, who co-chaired the committee. “It’s bad for society if the bad guys go free, and it undermines the criminal justice system, which is a serious long-term problem potentially.”

A number of factors can affect a person’s memory, especially in a charged moment like when a crime is taking place. If someone has a gun, for example, we’re more likely to pay attention to the weapon than the face of the person holding it. Our emotions and internal biases can alter the way we remember an incident. Or maybe the problem comes from something as simple as the angle from where someone witnesses a crime and an inability to get a good look at the perpetrator.

“I argued that what we should be concentrating on are the variables over which the justice system has some control and help advise the legal system about how they might reduce the likelihood of mistaken identifications,” says Gary Wells, an Iowa State University professor who has been the leading researcher on lineups for years.

Wells was essentially a one-man shop of eyewitness research through the 1980s and into the 1990s. He helped introduce the idea of the double-blind procedure, in which officers who were administering a lineup didn’t know the real suspect from the filler picks. By doing so, officers couldn’t ask leading questions that could bias the witness. He championed sequential lineups (photos shown one at a time) over simultaneous lineups (photos shown together and often six at a time), arguing that it was a more difficult task for eyewitnesses and would provide a higher standard for IDing a suspect.

But his research often went unnoticed, remaining stuck in the halls of academia and not taken seriously by law enforcement or merely unknown to officers in the field.

“I think we’d still have this huge gap where the work we’ve done would be written off as pointy-headed researchers in the lab,” Wells says, “until the DNA exonerations came.”

Around the late 1990s, as DNA testing took off, it turned out that a number of false convictions could be traced back to witness misidentification. Soon after, then-Attorney General Janet Reno created a working group that included Wells to produce some basic guidelines for how police departments in the U.S. should conduct lineups.

In the last 15 years, a number of police departments have begun taking those reforms seriously. Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and San Diego have all changed the way they conduct them in the last several years, and most of those agencies have implemented blind, sequential procedures.

For the most part, the recommendations released by NAS on Thursday endorsed many of the things for which Wells has been long arguing. The report calls for law enforcement agencies to provide officers with training on vision and memory as well as guidance on how to prevent contamination of a witness with leading questions that could affect their decision-making. It also calls for double-blind lineups and standardized instructions to inform witnesses that the suspect may or may not be in the lineup. It pushes agencies to document confidence judgments from witnesses at the time of an identification, confidence that can often irrationally grow in strength by the time they’re called to the witness stand. And it urges agencies to videotape the entire ID process.

However, it doesn’t recommend sequential or simultaneous lineups, in part because the academic debate over the two has gotten messy.

A new way of studying the accuracy of a lineup has emerged in the last few years, most prominently by John Wixted of the University of California-San Diego, who uses something called a “receiver operating characteristic,” or an ROC curve, which takes into account witness confidence in an identification. Eyewitness confidence numbers are plotted along the curve and appear to show that administering a simultaneous lineup has produced more accurate IDs than sequential ones. Other ROC studies appear to have similar findings.

Another study conducted by Wixted and Karen Amendola of the Police Foundation has analyzed lineup selections as they relate to the strength of evidence in actual cases over time in Austin, Texas. That study also appears to have found that sequential lineups are not superior to simultaneous ones and that, in fact, innocent suspects are less likely to be mistakenly identified from simultaneous lineups.

Some researchers, however, dispute those studies. Among the naysayers is Jennifer Dysart, an associate professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

“They’re getting these really crazy data that are completely inconsistent with the general pattern of results,” Dysart says.

She says she believes Amendola has incorrectly analyzed her numbers regarding the Austin evidence-based findings and didn’t have a sample size big enough to conclude that simultaneous lineups are a superior method. But she also believes there may be ulterior motives at work in the new ROC analyses done by Wixted and others.

“I think they want to take down Gary because he’s been the lead researcher in the field of eyewitness identification for over 35 years,” she says.

“There’s a lot of noise out there,” Wells acknowledges, referring to the ongoing simultaneous/sequential debate. “I think it’s fair to say that it’s unresolved at the moment. I have a feeling that in the end, we’re going to end up discovering that there’s not a huge difference between them.”

The NAS recommendations steer clear of the back-and-forth entirely. But most lineups researchers praised the report’s findings overall, including Wells.

“This is a huge shot in the arm,” Wells says. “It’s a ringing endorsement of the science. And now we have the task of bridging the gap between the science and the legal system.”

TIME justice

Ferguson Protesters Arrested in First Confrontation With Police in Weeks

A police officer observes the crowd gathered in protest the police shooting of teenager Mike Brown, Ferguson, Missouri, Sept. 29, 2014.
A police officer observes the crowd gathered in protest the police shooting of teenager Mike Brown, Ferguson, Missouri, Sept. 29, 2014. James Cooper—Demotix/Corbis

A new round of clashes after nightly taunts by demonstrators

Police in Ferguson, Missouri arrested about half a dozen protesters Thursday night after days of late-night demonstrations and repeated acts of civil disobedience, marking an end to a period of relative calm after weeks of violent clashes between demonstrators and law enforcement after the August shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson.

Those arrested included members of an activist group known as the Millennials as well as a freelance journalist for CNN, The Washington Post reports. It’s not clear on what charges the protesters were arrested, but according to the Post, the demonstrators had been staging confrontations with the police for days, linking arms to block the street or loudly chanting in the streets well past an 11 p.m. noise ordinance.

On Thursday, police reportedly asked the group to quiet down, which sparked only louder chants and an eventual clash between law enforcement and demonstrators, reports the Post.

[The Washington Post]

TIME Crime

WATCH: Florida Police Officer Tasers Unarmed 62-Year-Old Woman in Back

He has been put on administrative leave with pay pending an investigation

A Florida police officer is under investigation after he was caught on camera firing a Taser into the back of a 62-year-old woman.

Terry Mahan of the Tallahassee Police Department was with colleagues responding to reports of brazen narcotics sales on Tuesday afternoon when the incident occurred.

Three people were arrested at the scene, after which a woman, Viola Young, approached the squad car apparently to inquire about one of the detainees.

She was advised to stay back, according to a police statement Wednesday, and an altercation ensued. At one point Mahan yanked Young’s arm and then fired the Taser as she attempted to walk away.

Tallahassee Police chief Michael DeLeo said that the video was strong enough evidence to put Mahan on administrative leave with pay pending an investigation.

“We will conduct a thorough investigation into this incident,” he said. “We want to be transparent with the community by sharing what we can at this point, including the video.”

Neither Young nor the three others arrested have been charged with any drugs offenses.

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