Police: Violent felon who was behind bars used smuggled cellphone to order shootings

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COLUMBIA, SC – An inmate in at the Kirkland Correctional Institution in Columbia, SC has been accused of using a cell phone to order shootings from prison.

Harvester Jackson, 27, has been charged with accessory to attempted murder, accessory to discharging a firearm into a dwelling and accessory to arson, according to a report from 13NewsNow.
Jackson is currently serving a 10-year sentence for armed robbery and second-degree burglary.

In his latest known foray into crime, it is alleged that he ordered a shooting targeted at an unnamed woman’s house and ordered her car to be burned.

The victim said that this was not the first time this happened. She told investigators that Jackson is her former boyfriend and he has threatened to target her before.

Jackson has also been tied to shootings of homes on August 12, 2018 and August 27, 2019. He is also being investigated for the shooting of a car during the 2018 incident. They owner of that car was also a former girlfriend of Jackson.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, said at a news conference that the convicted violent felon used a cellphone to order these crimes.

Jackson was relocated to the Kirkland Correctional Institution in Columbia earlier this year. According to the South Carolina Department of Corrections, this is a Level 3 Facility.

“Level 3 facilities are high-security institutions designed primarily to house violent offenders with longer sentences, and inmates who exhibit behavioral problems.

Housing consists of single and double cells, and all perimeters are double-fenced with extensive electronic surveillance. Inmates at level 3 facilities are closely supervised and their activities and movement within the institution are highly restricted.”

Sheriff Lott said that the investigation into the people involved on the outside continues. He said that this underscores that cellphone jamming technology in these prisons is needed now.

Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling agreed saying, “This is no different than a weapon in the hands of an inmate,” Stirling said of the ongoing issue of inmates using cellphones.

“It’s like Groundhog Day, it keeps happening over and over.”

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Stirling has testified in front of Congress about the problem of cell phones in prison. He has indicated that it is the cell phone companies who have resisted the efforts to jam the signals.

“Jamming completely shuts the door,” Stirling said. These inmates “are taken out of society, but they are still causing harm to society. … I don’t understand the holdup. We need Congress to act.”

Lott agreed saying, “these crimes can be stopped if the FCC does what it’s supposed to do and jam cellphones. These people are in prison because they committed a crime, but they get a cellphone and get on Facebook and call people, and you get a house shot up and get a car burned.”

The Communications Act of 1934 broadly prohibits jamming devices, including cell phone jammers.  This prohibition has lead to smuggled cell phones being used to plan and commit several criminal actions.

For example, in 2019 Federal prosecutors charged five South Carolina prisoners with conning at least 442 service members out of a total of more than half a million dollars in November 2018.

Two other South Carolina prisoners, John William Dobbins and Carl Richard Smith await trial for multiple scams operated using contraband cell phones out of Lee Correctional Institution, including one catfishing scam that ended in the suicide of army veteran Jared Johns.

Senate Bill 952, Sponsored by Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) was introduced on March 3, 2019.  The bill would amend the Communications Act of 1934 to allow state and federal correctional facilities to operate jamming systems that would interfere with cell phone operation. 

The bill was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on Mach 28, 2019 where it sits to this day.

Supporters of the bill say that it improves public safety by helping prevent convicted criminals, such as Harvester Jackson, from continuing their criminal activities while incarcerated.

“Prisoners have used contraband cell phones to direct illegal activities outside prison walls, including hits on rivals, sex trafficking, drug operations, and business deals,” Sen. Cotton said in a press release.

“Cellphone jamming devices can stop this but the Federal Communications Act doesn’t allow facilities to use this technology. [Under this bill] criminals serve their time without posing a threat to the general public.”

Opponents, such as David Fathi, Director of the ACLU National Prison project,  blame the prisons, saying that they create the demand for the cellphones by making it “very difficult and expensive for prisoners to all their loved ones through legitimate channels.”

In the mean time, while advocates of the incarcerated like the ACLU stymie attempts to keep the general public safe.

The ACLU’s cries indicating expensive calls to loved ones are the driving force are contradicted by The Richland County Sheriff’s Department in a tweet saying that “inmates mostly use phones to plan crimes outside the prison.

While politicians and lobbyists battle it out, people like Harvester Jackson will continue to take advantage of porous prison boarders, and law-abiding citizens will not even be safe from criminals who have been locked up.

This is the same ACLU that’s calling to destroy the Department of Homeland Security, mind you.

The American Civil Liberties Union tweeted Monday: 

BREAKING: We’re calling for the dismantling of the Department of Homeland Security. 

Dismantling DHS, breaking it apart into various federal agencies, and shrinking its federal budget will allow for more effective oversight, accountability and public transparency. 

Nearly 20 years of abuse, waste, and corruption demonstrate the failure of the DHS experiment. Many knew DHS to be an ineffective superagency, but President Trump has converted DHS into our government’s most notable badge of shame.” 

The call to dismantle and defund the Department of Homeland Security comes at a time when the massive federal agency is critically needed. 

The department’s 240,000 employees are dealing with the threat of a pandemic, layered on top of already wide-ranging duties like cybersecurity, counterterrorism, aviation security, border security, protection of national leaders and infrastructure and emergency response. 

Right now, DHS agents are working to slow the spread of the coronavirus by limiting all non-essential travel across borders. Within US borders, they’re working non-stop to defend against criminals who are attempting to use COVID-19 for financial gain. 

In Portland, violent and destructive protests are dovetailing with the pandemic, and the federal agents sent in to serve and protect have become punching bags for controversy. 

That’s where the liberal civil rights organization is building the cornerstone for its shaky argument. It is using the protestor versus police clashes in the Rose City, as purported evidence to dismantle one of our nation’s frontline federal protectors. 

In an op-ed in USA Today, ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero wrote: 

“In recent weeks, the actions of federal agents have shown us all that the Department of Homeland Security isn’t capable of acting consistently with the Constitution, and should no longer exist in its current state. The scenes unfolding in Portland, Oregon, and elsewhere are a reminder of the red flags many have raised about DHS throughout its history: that its powers are too great, and that it lacks the oversight and management to be effective.” 

In the article, Romero doubles down on the ACLU’s past claims that paramilitary forces kidnapped protestors after coming to Oregon uninvited by the governor. 

Those claims have been proven untrue in recent weeks. 

Federal agents have been in Portland since last month when, according to a DHS press release, they were invited in by Oregon Governor Kate Brown. The press release reads: 

Such cooperation between federal and state/local law enforcement is routinely done in every city in the United States. As a result of the governor’s long-delayed, though welcomed, change in direction, the area of the Hatfield Federal Courthouse has finally seen a stark downward trend in violence perpetrated towards federal facilities and federal law enforcement officers. While some violence has continued in the city, Sunday, August 2nd marked the first evening in nearly two months with zero reported attacks against federal officers or property thanks to the coordination between federal, state, and local law enforcement.” 

The op-ed also links the turmoil in Portland to the White House. Romero writes: 

“If there is one thing we have learned from the authoritarianism on display in Portland, it’s that we have to remove the loaded weapon that sits on the proverbial coffee table in the Oval Office.” 

He suggests dismantling DHS, breaking it into smaller federal agencies and using its funding for oversight and public transparency. 

As of Monday night, DHS has yet to respond to the article or the ACLU, seemingly prioritizing national security over social media mudslinging. 

Portland Mayor lashes out at Department of Homeland Security: “Stay inside or better yet leave Portland all together”

July 15, 2020 – PORTLAND, OR– It’s the kind of story that makes you wonder if these politicians believe in law and order at all.

On Tuesday, Mayor Ted Wheeler lashed out at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) via his Twitter account.

Throughout a handful of tweets, the Mayor is seen urging federal agents to “stay inside” or “leave” as the city faces its 6th straight week of protests against racism and police brutality. 

According to FoxNews, DHS deployed officers from multiple federal law enforcement agencies this month to help protect government installations, including the courthouses. Demonstrations have taken place from coast to coast after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. 

Since Floyd’s death and the protests, city businesses have reported $23 million in losses due to looters and rioters.  This is happening amid a coronavirus pandemic that is already causing massive economic damage to businesses around the country.

Businesses all over the country are trying to figure out how and if they can survive both the pandemic and the protests. 

In Portland, chaos has broken out in the city’s streets, often aimed at federal property as activists and some local leaders have objected to the presence of federal officers. According to FoxNews, over the weekend, a 23-year-old demonstrator allegedly struck a federal officer in the head with a hammer outside the courthouse.

This same demonstrator is accused of beating a hole into the building’s door with the hammer before officers came inside. According to the Portland Police Bureau, the demonstrator then struck the officer in the head and shoulder with the hammer before being taken into custody. 

According to Wheeler’s tweets:

“The best thing they can do is stay inside their building or leave Portland all together.”

He also criticized DHS for not cleaning the graffiti of the federal buildings by saying:

“While we’re busy cleaning our streets and buildings, the two federal buildings are covered with graffiti that has been there for weeks on end.”

According to the Portland Police Bureau, they have been struggling to contain the unrest. Their department’s official Twitter account shows images and videos of the demonstrations that have been going on for weeks on end. Some of the videos and images shared shows projectiles hurled at police, crowds refusing to clear out, and weapons seized from protesters.

Here is another post from @Portlandpolice:

Police officers have been injured in a number of incidents on multiple occasions due to protesters throwing fireworks at them. Chief Chuck Lovell said in a statement:

“Our officers are tired, but they are resilient. Our community deserves better than than nightly criminal activity that destroys the value and fabric of our community.”

In contrast, other city leaders are exploring ways to reform the city’s police with proposals such as establishing a civilian board of commissioners or a community-controlled oversight board. 

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Here is a recent article from Law Enforcement Today regarding the recent protests in Portland:

Protests continue in Portland as fires set, federal officers attacked – here’s the latest

PORTLAND, OR– According to authorities, during a protest that started Saturday night, federal law enforcement officers used tear gas and crown-control munitions on those who were protesting near Portland’s federal courthouse. 

According to the Seattle Times, federal officers at the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse asked for help from city police at about 2 a.m. Sunday after protesters resisted arrest and threw bottles at them.

The Portland Police Bureau said that announcements were made for protesters to leave the area and the crowd finally dispersed around 3:20 a.m. 

According to the police, during the protest, fires were started in trash cans and dumpsters, but no buildings were threatened. One person was arrested on suspicion of unlawfully pointing a laser.

Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) reports that friends and family of a demonstrator say a 25-year-old man was struck in the head and injured by an impact munition fired by the authorities.

Video posted to social media shows the man apparently being struck in the head while holding a speaker loft.

Desiree LaBella, the mother of Donavan LaBella, said that her son suffered facial and skull fractures. He had surgery and came out early Sunday morning and was able to respond to the doctors. His mother said to OPB:

“He was awake enough to give me the OK to talk to me. He’s had some facial reconstruction surgery. They’re just watching him right now.”

In a statement, Governor Kate Brown called for federal officials to scale back their response to the protests, which have consistently taken place for the last six weeks following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Brown said in her statement:

“The events of last night at the federal courthouse were the tragic and avoidable result of President Donald Trump, for weeks, continuing to push for force and violence in response to protests.”

Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty criticized the federal officers. In a statement she said:

“This reckless and aggressive behavior has not put someone in the hospital. This protester is still fighting for their life and I want to be clear, this should have never happened. If this continues a life will be taken and it won’t matter whether a federal officer or a Portland police officer did it, it won’t bring that person back.”

Portland’s Deputy Police Chief, Chris Davis said in a statement:

“Agitator corps of violent protesters are responsible for vandalism and chaos in the city.”

Chief Davis made a distinction between Black Lives Matter protesters, who he said were not violent and a smaller group pf people he repeatedly called “agitators.”

Below is an update on the incident from the Portland Police Bureau:

“On July 12, 2020 people began gathering in Chapman Square and Lownsdale Square near SW 3/SW Main at about 6 p.m. People socialized, ate food, banged drums, and listened to speeches.

At about 10 p.m. the group began blocking traffic on SW 3rd and on SW main. By 10:30 p.m. a bonfire was burning in what used to be water troughs at the base of the old elk statue in the middle of SW Main.”

“The crowd remained in both parks and in the streets for the rest of the evening. Throughout the evening people dragged plywood from nearby construction sites or boarded up buildings to keep the fire burning.

People fired Roman-Candle and bottle rocket fireworks toward the Justice Center.

People lit a large bonfire in the middle of the east crosswalk at SW Main/SW 3rd. At one point, people set wood on fire that members of the crowd had propped against the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse. A person fired objects from a wrist rocket toward the U.S. Courthouse.”

“At about 1:30 a.m., the crowd gathered around the large bonfire in the crosswalk and built it up by burning plywood, cardboard, paper, and other debris.

Portland police officers approached SW 3/SW Main at about 2:30 a.m. to make the scene safe so Portland fire & rescue would put out the bonfire.

Portland police made public address announcement for the crowd to leave the area. As Portland fire & rescue approached, someone fired a ball bearing from a wrist rocket at the firefighters.

Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Deputies assisted Portland Police making the scene safe. Once the fire was extinguished, police and deputies disengaged. “

“Some of the remaining crowd congregated in the intersection and began moving park benches from Lownsdale Square into the intersection.

Others moved more plywood and other debris into the intersection. Portland Police made public address announcements to stop lighting fires for the safety of those present.

Some in the crowd ignored the announcements and built a new fire which others put out. The crowd slowly dwindled over the next hour.”

Riots cost Portland $23 million. City leaders don’t seem to have a plan to end them – but the police union does.

PORTLAND, OR –   Portland Oregon has reportedly suffered $23 million in damages and customer loss due to violent nightly protests.

Rioters have converged nightly into downtown Portland, looting, vandalizing, and throwing projectiles at police. Politicians have none nothing but pander to the mob, and have so far not condemned this violence, save for a string of tweets from Mayor Ted Wheeler.

Now, Portland Police Association (PPA) is taking action. More on that in the second half of this article.

Of the damage from the rioting, Deputy Chris Davis stated:

“There’s a very big difference between protests and the kind of mayhem that we’ve seen every night. … The Black Lives Matter movement is not violent. The story that we’re going to talk about today is about a small group of agitators that is attempting to hijack that message and use it as a cover for criminal activity.”

The protests are now in their sixth week. Protesters and some politicians were not happy with the use of tear gas used by police, but with the fairly large group of rioters growing in numbers, it’s unclear how they expect officers to control the group. 

PPA President Daryl Turner discussed Wednesday at a press conference on FOX12 the need for peace for all residents of Portland, as well city safety as protests continue nightly. 

Turner said:

“For forty days, thousands of people have poured out onto the streets calling out for change. For over 40 days a small number of people have hijacked those calls for social justice and use the cover for peaceful protest to burn and loot our city. It’s enough.

“Over half a million people call this city home. All of Portland deserves safety, security and a nonviolent platform to speak their minds.” 

He also expressed his lack of confidence with the City Council:

“I have no confidence that city council will stand up for all of Portland.

“I have no confidence that the city will stop the rioting, the looting and protect the safety and livelihood of Portlanders.

“I have no confidence that the City Council will guide the PPB forward to a new era of policing that prioritizes community safety, equity, reform, and police funding.

“I have no confidence that City Council respects and supports its rank-and-file officers who work tirelessly to better our community.

“I have no confidence that City Council wants to be part of the solution that closes the divide between police and our communities.”

According to KGW8 on June 17th, The Portland City Council has passed the 2020-21 budget 3-1 with plans to cut $15 million from the police bureau, taking away 84 positions. Current requests for defunding the department was at $50 million according to Unite Oregon. 

City council Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty tweeted in a series of tweets yesterday:

“While the PPA came out this morning with a vote of no-confidence in City Council, I remain undeterred and continue to work on the change demanded by the public.”

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KATU2 received word from Hardesty in response to Portland Police Association’s (PPA) President Daryl Turner statements:

“This is not an unusual tactic when the public tide turns against the PPA or no longer allowing them to dominate the dialogue around policing and I will continue to work on change as the public demands and will not be intimidated by them.”

Turner’s “tactic” includes real solutions, which he wrote of in a press release:

“Our City Council should stand up and remind our communities that we must work to heal our City, not destroy it. Violence in our streets does not fix social and racial inequities. Burning down the Justice Center or destroying a federal courthouse brings no one justice.

“If City Council won’t stand up for Portland, we will. The PPA will be pushing two initiatives forward that are focused on community safety, police funding and reform, and internal and external racial equity.

“Pastor Rev. J.W. Matt Hennessee and I will hold standing, quarterly roundtables that bring together police and our community.

We will be inviting members of the faith community, local community members, local law enforcement executives, local law enforcement officers, and local and state elected officials to attend.

The simple act of sitting together and talking can be profound. We want change. We want healing.

We want to ensure that we protect all Portlanders and give them a constructive, meaningful opportunity to speak openly and freely about social and racial justice. To get there, we must continue to engage with one another. We must continue to have difficult conversations.

“We won’t stop there. The words “police reform” don’t scare us. In my 29-year career, I have evolved daily as a person and as a police officer.

And every day, the Police Bureau has grown and improved as an organization. Now is the time to continue growing, improving, and evolving.

Defunding police in our City will not improve or reform the police. To reach those goals, we must invest in our Police Bureau.

To that end, the PPA has announced an eight-part reform platform based on reasonable and constructive efforts to improve policing services for all of Portland, available at www.fundpolicereform.org.”

As of the time of this writing, no politicians have responded to Turner’s statement.

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