[News] US police are killing people with war-crimes ammunition

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jan 26 10:45:27 EST 2016


    US police are killing people with war-crimes ammunition
    <http://sfbayview.com/2016/01/us-police-are-killing-people-with-war-crimes-ammunition/>

January 25, 2016
*http://sfbayview.com/2016/01/us-police-are-killing-people-with-war-crimes-ammunition/*

*/by Robert Wells /*

Virtually every person shot to death by police handguns in the U.S. in 
the last 20 years has been killed with a bullet that international law 
has declared to be a war crime.

Hollow-point dum-dum bullet before and after firing and impact 
<http://sfbayview.com/2016/01/us-police-are-killing-people-with-war-crimes-ammunition/hollow-point-dum-dum-bullet-before-and-after-firing-and-impact/> 


Hollow-point dum-dum bullet before and after firing and impact

In 2011, the police force of the Oakland Unified School District shot 
and killed 20-year-old Raheim Brown. Revisiting the case in 2015, 
Raheim’s mother Lorianne Davis determined with photographs obtained from 
the police – and the Oakland Teachers for Mumia determined with material 
from a California Public Records Act demand – that Raheim Brown had been 
killed with a fusillade of high-velocity hollow-point Black Talon 
dum-dum bullets, which are the standard service ammunition of the 
Oakland Schools police and of virtually every police agency in 
California and the nation.

The dum-dum bullet is a soft lead slug with a hollow-point and a copper 
coated base. When it hits, the impact causes the lead to mushroom back 
over the copper jacket, expanding the bullet to roughly .60 caliber in 
the first two inches of flesh. This violent expansion, and the extremely 
high velocity, gives the bullet an explosive effect in the victim.

Not willing to leave bad enough alone, in the 1990s the Winchester Arms 
Co. “enhanced” the dum-dum, running copper strips up the side to the lip 
of the hollow-point (the soft lead can still be seen down inside). When 
this spinning bullet hits, and erupts, it splays into six razor-sharp 
claws that tear their way through the body. Winchester christened this 
bullet the “Black Talon”; The New York Times calls it “the 
razor-fingered bullet” in a Nov. 13, 1993, editorial.

Cops estimate that 99 percent – that is, all – of the police agencies in 
the U.S. use the high-velocity half-jacketed hollow-point dum-dum bullet 
as their standard handgun ammunition.


      Virtually every person shot to death by police handguns in the
      U.S. in the last 20 years has been killed with a bullet that
      international law has declared to be a war crime.

In the 1960s, most of the police agencies in Los Angeles County used the 
dum-dum; by now they essentially all do. As the chief surgeon of the 
jail ward, Dr. Margaret McCarren of the L.A. County-USC Medical Center 
had more experience at the time with gunshot victims of high-velocity 
dum-dums than any other doctor in the country.

“In my experience,” she wrote in 1969, “the type of wounds caused by 
these bullets is definitely more severe and represents a radical change 
from the type of wound inflicted by the old type bullet. The 
high-velocity hollow-point bullet shatters the flesh.”

She compared the effect of the dum-dum to “an explosive charge going off 
inside the victim’s body.” A doctor in New York State who performed an 
autopsy on a dum-dum victim said the internal shock had been so great 
that it was impossible to distinguish one organ from another.

It was the “shattering of flesh” that Dr. McCarren referred to, the 
gross physical destruction caused by the dum-dum, that led to the bullet 
being banned in international warfare.


      Cops estimate that 99 percent – that is, all – of the police
      agencies in the U.S. use the high-velocity half-jacketed
      hollow-point dum-dum bullet as their standard handgun ammunition.

The dum-dum gets its name from the old British arsenal in the Dum Dum 
suburb of Calcutta, where in the 1850s the noses of bullets were clipped 
off to make them expand. By 1874, the Declaration of Brussels had 
prohibited the use in warfare of “weapons, projectiles or substances 
calculated to cause superfluous injuries.”

At the Hague Conference of 1899, a declaration was adopted stating that 
“the contracting parties agree to abstain from the use of bullets which 
expand or flatten easily in the human body, such as bullets with a hard 
envelope which does not entirely cover the core, or is pierced with 
incisions” – the classic dum-dum, used by police everywhere in the 
United States.

After ratification by Congress, the Hague Declaration was signed into 
law by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1909, becoming part of the United 
States Statutes at Large (61st Congress, 36 Stat. 2277).

In the 1960s, when the dum-dum bullet first came on the market in pistol 
calibers, cops everywhere considered themselves to be at war with the 
Black community: The COINTELPRO campaign, directed from the very highest 
levels of American government, was an actual shooting war against Black 
people.

Nevertheless, even while admitting that the dum-dum bullet was an 
international war crime, police agencies all across the country rushed 
to adopt it as their standard service ammunition, with the excuse that 
there was nothing illegal about it domestically.

Even so, they tried to keep it quiet. “This is a tough subject,” said 
one manufacturer. “A lot of minority groups might object. We like to 
keep the discussion within law-enforcement circles.”

Police resist the word “dum-dum” because they know it’s a term of 
revulsion to most Americans. But any high-velocity, soft-nose, 
half-jacketed hollow-point bullet designed to expand or flatten easily 
in the human body is exactly the bullet condemned for use against human 
beings by international law. It’s a dum-dum.


      Even while admitting that the dum-dum bullet was an international
      war crime, police agencies all across the country rushed to adopt
      it as their standard service ammunition, with the excuse that
      there was nothing illegal about it domestically.

The police rationale for using the dum-dum is that it’s “safer” – it 
will not “exit a suspect” and go on to hit an “innocent civilian.” It’s 
doubtful this was much of a problem even in the ‘60s, but today, with 
the six-shot police revolver replaced by the semiautomatic sidearm with 
a clip holding 15 or more bullets, police shooting doctrine is now to 
unload dozens of rounds at a time at a suspect.

Amadou Diallo was killed in New York with 19 bullets – police shot at 
him 44 times; in 2010 Stockton police killed James Rivera Jr. with 19 
bullets – they shot at him 48 times; in an incident in Queens, police 
fired 284 times and succeeded in knocking over one civilian; just this 
August, Stockton police opened up on bank robbers and a hostage with 600 
shots. That’s a lot of dum-dum bullets flying around the neighborhood 
without ever “exiting a suspect.”

The other police rationale, more to the point, is that the dum-dum is 
more likely to kill. What seems to be another police doctrine, called 
the same thing everywhere in the country – “bleeding out” – is to leave 
a gunshot victim unattended on the ground for hours: Michael Brown in 
Ferguson, Kenneth Harding Jr. in Bayview Hunters Point, Filiberto Ojeda 
Rios in Puerto Rico …


      The other police rationale, more to the point, is that the dum-dum
      is more likely to kill.

In fact, the police shooting dum-dum bullets is completely indefensible; 
there is nothing that can be said about it that could make it 
legitimate. Once any Black Lives group made certain that their local 
police used the dum-dum – the odds are 99 to 1; in this state they could 
use a document demand under the California Public Records Act – it would 
be a worthwhile reform to campaign to get the bullet out of the 
policeman’s gun, even while he’s still shooting. Especially while he’s 
still shooting.


      The police shooting dum-dum bullets is completely indefensible;
      there is nothing that can be said about it that could make it
      legitimate.

Along with reform is the political question: Cops’ rushing to adopt the 
dum-dum while in an open state of war against Black America, knowing 
full well the bullet is a war crime and making excuses, is an example of 
the vindictive and genocidal attitude of white America toward Black people.

By challenging the police dum-dum, the Black Lives movement could 
assert, even by implication, that Black people, under assault from 
racist police and the white supremacist state, should be entitled to at 
least some of the protections of international law.

/Oakland Teachers for Mumia – Jack Gerson, Bob Mandel and Bob Wells, all 
retired – were among the organizers, along with teacher Craig Gordon, of 
the controversial 1999 Oakland Schools Teach-in on Mumia Abu-Jamal and 
the death penalty. Over the summer of 2015, they and Craig Gordon 
pressured the school district into reinstating an OUSD social justice 
website called “Urban Dreams” that the school administration had taken 
down because of intimidation by the Fraternal Order of Police and Fox 
News. As a news reporter in the 1960s, Bob Wells broke the first story 
about the police dum-dum. Contact him at //communard3 at gmail.com/ 
<mailto:communard3 at gmail.com>/./

-- 
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://freedomarchives.org/pipermail/news_freedomarchives.org/attachments/20160126/2ffd3ae1/attachment.html>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: Hollow-point-dum-dum-bullet-before-and-after-firing-and-impact.jpg
Type: image/jpeg
Size: 772241 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <http://freedomarchives.org/pipermail/news_freedomarchives.org/attachments/20160126/2ffd3ae1/attachment.jpg>


More information about the News mailing list