Cop Block: Fighting Law Enforcement Abuse

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March 25th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Updated February 11, 2016 and September 1, 2016: A complainer identifying himself as Gregory Malandrucco is filing false DMCA takedown notices against this website and many others, including the Chicago Tribune, to silence reporting of this story. Filing false DMCA takedown notices against “fair use” content can result in significant legal liability such as Diebold Inc. experienced when it was forced to pay out $125,000 damages and fees to an activist group against which they filed a clearly unreasonable DMCA takedown notice. See the end of the article for more details.

We’ve recently added an RSS feed for a new web site called Cop Block to our web page. We’re very supportive of the work of other writers and web sites that report on the corruption and misconduct by police, prosecutors, and courts. Our own writers and their families and friends have seen similar abuses in their communities and are outraged by the lawlessness and abuse perpetrated by governments against their citizens.

One recent story on the site that caught our attention is a police brutality incident in Chicago, Illinois, that we summarize below. Click on the title below to link back to Cop Block’s story.

Chicago police beating victims Gregory Malandrucco and Matthew Clark
Malandrucco and Clark

‘They’re Cops; They’re Going to Beat You’

The essence of this story is that two friends from the University of Chicago were eating at a restaurant, somehow triggered rage in plainclothes cops over a trivial issue, and then were beaten both by those cops and uniformed officers who showed up to respond to their 911 call.

University of Chicago lecturer Matthew Clark and Ph.D. student Gregory Malandrucco were eating at Arturo’s Tacos, a local Mexican restaurant. One of them put on his coat while near the door, apparently angering plainclothes cops waiting to leave the restaurant because it delayed them.

When they exited the restaurant, the cops proceeded to pile on top of and beat the men bloody. The men called 911, not understanding who was attacking them and wanting it to stop. Their pleas for help resulted in uniformed Chicago cops arriving on the scene to take over their beating from the plainclothes cops. A woman with the plainclothes cops warned the two to not resist because they were being beaten by cops.

(from Cops Beat Us Unconscious: Suit)

The two men were just about to leave Arturo’s Taco in Bucktown on February 7 at about 3 a.m., Clark recalled. He said Malandrucco was putting on his coat as a group of three people were walking up to the register.

“One of the men gave a pretty aggressive shove to Greg,” Clark recalled. “And Greg said, ‘I’m just putting my coat on, I’ll be out of the way in just a second.’ And everything seemed to be OK. They left. We paid for our meal. We walked out to the parking lot at that point and they were out there waiting for us.”

The officers officers began to yell at them aggressively, Clark said.

“We don’t want any trouble. Let’s just shake hands and calm down and everybody’ll go home. No problem,” Clark remembers saying to the men. “They wouldn’t accept it. They just initiated a physical attack at that point.”

He said the plainclothes officers held him down and beat him until he lost consciousness.

A surveillance camera captured part of the beating.

“As I was laying down and getting punched, this woman that was with them is telling me, ‘Quit resisting. They’re cops. They’re going to beat you,'” Clark said.

When Malandrucco attempted to stop the beating, according to the suit, the officers “responded by beating (him). (They) threw Malandrucco to the ground, hitting his head against the concrete and knocking him unconscious.”

The suit says that at least three uniformed police officers arrived on the scene in marked squad cars. At one point, one of the uniformed officers “switched places with the plainclothes officer who was on top of Malandrucco, holding him down and striking him in the process,” according to the suit.

Another one of the uniformed officers allegedly kicked or kneed Malandrucco, the suit said.

Clark was “bleeding profusely from the wounds on his head” and Malandrucco “was also bleeding from the wounds on his face,” the suit said.

(from University of Chicago student, friend allege cop abuse)

Malandrucco said the alleged attackers didn’t have guns and weren’t wearing anything to identify them as cops. But he assumes they were off-duty cops because of the way they were treated by the uniformed officers and because a woman with them said something like: “They’re cops. They’re going to beat your ass.”

Cops: Pack Predators Who Consider Themselves Above the Law

The lessons learned here are that many cops believe they are above the law and that like a pack of vicious predators they will stick together even when it involves brutalizing, terrorizing, assaulting, and attacking anybody one of them decides to target for whatever reason, even something trivial like a minor delay. Such cops are criminals far worse than many gang members. They should be dealt with via termination of their jobs, black-listing them out of any role or employment in law enforcement, and prosecution for their crimes.

Lawsuit Against City of Chicago

Corrupt governments often disregard these types of abusive conduct by law enforcement. It is in their interests to do so as they are liable for the actions of the criminal cops they employ. The only remedy is a civil suit as prosecutors often won’t touch police misconduct cases unless government liability can be minimized.

Clark and Malandrucco retained Chicago attorney Heather Lewis Donnell who filed Clark et al v. City of Chicago et al in US Federal Court on March 22, 2010, to hold the City of Chicago and any police officers involved responsible for police brutality and misconduct including civil rights and criminal violations against Matthew Clark and Gregory Malandrucco. The parties named in the lawsuit include the City of Chicago, Officer Brian Postrelko, Officer Michael Torres, Officer Nelson Crespo, Officer Elise Middleton, Officer Rick Podgorny, Officer Angelique Martinez, and unknown plainclothes Chicago Police officers.

March 22, 2010 Clark and Malandrucco v City of Chicago

Video of Police Beating

Below you can see a video of part of the beating caught by a security camera outside the restaurant.

Video About Chicago Police Beating Clark and Malandrucco

An extensive version of the beating video, complete with the uniformed cops arriving on the scene to take over restraining one of the victims, was available from CBS 2 but seems to have been taken down as was a video on the NBC Chicago website. Given how mass media often suck up to those in power, should it be a surprise that the publicly available evidence against the thugs running the streets of Chicago has gone missing?

If the allegations are accurate, we hope Clark and Malandrucco will be successful with their suit. Furthermore, area prosecutors should wake up and pursue prosecution and the police department terminate all the police officers who were involved for assault, failure to file required reports, and failure to obtain medical assistance for injuries parties. The world is a dangerous enough place without predatory criminals in American police forces looking to terrorize anybody who offends them in even the most minor way.

Updated February 11, 2016
Clark and Malandrucco have gone to great effort to expose Chicago Police Department for its abusive conduct. Beyond filing a lawsuit and spreading new of the incident to the public and media, they even offered a $10,000 reward for information about the beating.

In City of Silence in 2014, they gave a summary of their version of events and some of the aftermath.

Malandrucco has taken part in protests against Chicago police brutality and continued to write pieces about the experience and aftermath such as I was the victim of police brutality: How I survived my brush with death.

The City of Chicago settled the lawsuit by paying $185,000 in damages. Clark and Malandrucco agreed to the settlement after what they describe as continuing harassment from Chicago police. They describe being tracked and confronted by police who they suspect were using GPS pinging to find them. They also describe an incident that appears to be a bullet being shot through a window into Clark’s condo while they were inside watching TV. The beatings and later incidents wrecked their sense of safety and left them doubtful they could ever trust the police, so they didn’t even call 911 regarding the suspected shooting. They also never learned who the plainclothes cops were.

While there are hopefully some Chicago cops who would regard this whole debacle as disgusting and reprehensible, the case shows that the Blue Wall of Silence is alive and well in the City of Chicago. Residents and visitors to Chicago should assume Chicago Police Department is composed of many armed dangerous criminals likely to physically assault you with no provocation or just cause. Until the cops who would not commit such crimes are willing to arrest and testify against the terrorists in their ranks, unfortunately all Chicago police should be regarded as dangerous predators. Do your best to stay away from the predatory Chicago police. Perhaps consider avoiding visiting Chicago or moving away from the corrupt city if you live there.

Recently we received email claiming to be from Gregory Malandrucco (with no proof at all of his identity) that the pictures posted near the top of this article showing the beaten faces of Clark and Malandrucco are somehow a “copyright violation” and must be taken down. Per US copyright law, these photos are clearly “fair use” in a news article and are not a copyright violation. Further, these photos were published widely in news articles and videos as direct result of the actions of the men at distributing them to raise media attention and let the public know of the beatings and obtain help in finding the identity of the culprits. One could argue that the photos were effectively released into the public domain many years ago, but even if that’s not the case, posting photographs such as these in a news story about widely reported beatings and a resultant lawsuit and settlement is clearly “fair use”. They continue to exist on other websites and in videos, despite how the email claims success at getting other websites such as Huffington Post to remove images of the beaten men.

Given the monumental efforts Clark and Malandrucco have put into publicizing their beatings and trying to hold the Chicago Police Department accountable, a request to remove publicly accessible evidence of the crime seems highly inconsistent. One can’t help wonder if this email could be a tactic of the Chicago Police Department to slowly wipe out evidence of the horrific beating these men received. After all, those who control the present often try to rewrite history to be in their favor.

Updated September 1, 2016
Recently, the complainer, whoever it is (there are many reasons to suspect it is not actually Gregory Malandrucco), has escalated into sending invalid DMCA takedown notices to cause trouble for us and has made libelous statements to our service providers with obvious intent to disrupt service. The complainer has also filed a DMCA takedown notice against the Chicago Tribune, and wisely they have kept the photograph up so the public can see the results of the beatings.

The complainer also seems to be busy at what appears to wipe out evidence of the police abuse by intimidating others, such as shown by these complaints that are attributed to Gregory Malandrucco:

If this complainer really is Gregory Malandrucco who is now trying to help hide the evidence of the crime against him, one must wonder just what is going wrong with him to help out the police by threatening and intimidating others to hide the evidence of abuse? Or maybe he himself has somehow not been honest and is now trying to cover up the evidence of that? That a victim of police abuse would work so hard at intimidating and threatening the same news media that tried to help him out in the first place is appalling. Hopefully it is not really Gregory Malandrucco doing this. The actions are unethical and look like those of an abuser.

Such behavior, whether it is Gregory Malandrucco himself or somebody else pretending to be him, is becoming a news-worthy story of its own and further justifies publishing the photographs as “fair use” in additional articles on this site and others.

Those who understand the widespread and troublesome nature of police abuse and have tried to stand up against it would wonder just what would be motivating a victim of police abuse beaten as the photos show to unethically and illegally threaten and intimidate others making false claims of copyright violations against what is obviously a news article complying with fair use doctrine.

Per US law, filing false DMCA takedown notices against a website that is making fair use of material can subject the complainer to significant legal liability. In the case Online Policy Group v. Diebold, Diebold tried to suppress fair use reporting of its leaked internal email archives. The court protected Online Policy Group’s fair use of that material because “no reasonable copyright holder could have believed that [they] were protected by copyright”. Contrast that with this case in which the people portrayed in the photographs actively distributed them to news media to gain attention and alert the public and gain help at identifying the culprits.

Diebold ended up paying the Online Policy Group $125,000 in damages and fees. It was a settlement, but obviously motivated by the court’s ruling over the alleged copyright violation being so ridiculous just as it is in the offensive attempt to censor news reporting and hide the evidence of police abuse from the public.

This is based upon this section of DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act):

17 U.S.C. § 512(f). “Any person who knowingly materially misrepresents under [17 U.S.C. § 512] that material or activity is infringing … shall be liable for any damages, including costs and attorneys’ fees, incurred by the alleged infringer…who is injured by such misrepresentation, as the result of the service provider relying upon such misrepresentation in removing or disabling access to the material or activity claimed to be infringing….”

In addition, the false complainer is also subject to civil action for libel and tortious interference.

Further Reading

CopBlock: ‘They’re Cops; They’re Going to Beat You’

Chicago’s Approves Settlement Agreement with Clark and Malandrucco

Lew Rockwell: ‘They’re Cops; They’re Going to Beat You’

University of Chicago student, friend allege cop abuse

Cops Beat Us Unconscious: Suit

Pair Allegedly Beaten By Plainclothes Cops Tell Their Story In Vice

Video Shows Cop Assault on Student

New video released in police brutality case

Chicago Mayor Proposes Scrapping Police Accountibility Board For Civlian Investigative Agency

Chicago City Officials Have Acknowledged The Thin Blue Line; Will Other Cities Join Them?

Vancouver Police Brutalize Innocent Civilians

Why You Should Never Talk With Police And Law Enforcement

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