Criminal Justice

A SWAT Team Wrongfully Raided Her Home. Now Cops Say Footage From the Raid Is Private Since No One Was Killed.

Plus: A wave of educational gag orders, marijuana banking measure moves forward, and more...


Judge says footage shouldn't be made public. In May 2020, a SWAT team burst into the Raleigh, North Carolina, home that Yolanda Irving shared with her five children. For nearly two hours, the cops poked around and pointed guns at the family, searching the home and three of Irving's kids. "The entire family was terrified that they were about to be shot and killed," Irving's lawyer said in court this week. The cops were looking for drugs and money, one officer told Irving.

They had the wrong house.

Their search warrant listed her address but featured a picture of another place, Irving told the Raleigh News & Observer. "I never got an apology. I never got anything from the Raleigh Police Department," she said. "You have my kids scared. I am petrified.…On top of that, you are running behind my son with a gun. I could have lost him."

Now, Irving is fighting for the release of bodycam videos of the encounter. She and her neighbor—who was also detained during the encounter—have taken the matter to court with the help of civil rights group Emancipate NC.

"This footage and case provides a great opportunity for public assessment of no-knock raids, as well as the use of confidential informants," her lawyer, Abraham Rubert-Schewel, told a judge this week.

The raid on Irving's home was one of the last investigations involving Omar Abdullah—a Raleigh police detective accused of improperly arresting 15 black men in fake drug busts. Abdullah—and an informant who was involved in these busts. "The informant has since been charged with obstruction of justice, as prosecutors started to dismiss drug charges in those cases," the News & Observer reports. Abdullah was fired in late 2021, after more than a year on paid leave.

On Wednesday, Wake County Superior Court Judge G. Bryan Collins ruled that footage from the raid of Irving's home could be released to her attorney but could not be made public.

"These rulings are the game being played by the rules law enforcement creates and not in the best interest of the public or transparency," tweeted Emancipate NC. "Living people have just as much right as the dead to have the public see the trauma they suffer at the hands of police."

"The decision denying public release of BC footage is disappointing," said Rubert-Schewel. "We plan to ask the Court to reconsider."

"The RPD claimed release was inappropriate because it was not a 'critical incident,'" tweeted Rubert-Schewel. "Yolanda Irving and her family very easily could have lost their lives. We are too late if we wait until that moment to shed transparency on these important issues."

"Importantly, nowhere does the [bodycam] statute discuss 'critical incidents,'" he added. "The relevant questions include whether release is necessary to advance a 'compelling public interest.'"


PEN America looks at new educational gag orderswhich were enacted in 10 states in 2021. "Last year's wave of educational gag orders – legislative restrictions on the freedom to learn, read, and teach…focused predominantly on K-12 schools; only 26% of the proposed gag orders explicitly implicated higher education institutions," the group reports. But this year will be different:

In 2022, educational gag orders are being aimed squarely at colleges and universities to exert ideological control over what is being taught and read in classrooms and lecture halls.

Last year, only three states (Idaho, Iowa, and Oklahoma) passed these sorts of laws aimed at colleges and universities. "This year's crop of educational gag orders, however, suggests their proponents are increasingly seeking to exercise ideological control over college teaching," notes PEN America:

According to a recent legislative review by PEN America researcher Jeffrey Sachs, 46% of all educational gag orders filed so far this year implicate higher education directly.  As of January 24, there were 38 higher education-focused bills under consideration in 20 states.


A good marijuana and banking measure is tucked into a bad bill. "The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday preliminarily approved an amendment that would protect banks that work with state-legal marijuana businesses," reports Marijuana Moment.

But while the measure was procedurally adopted in a voice vote without debate as part of an en bloc package with other amendments, a roll call vote was requested for formal passage, which is expected on Thursday.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) has been seeking potential vehicles for his Safe and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which has previously cleared the chamber five times in some form. His latest attempt is to attach the measure to large-scale innovation and manufacturing legislation that's now advancing through Congress.

Following roll call votes on amendments on Thursday, floor action to officially pass the comprehensive bill known as the America COMPETES Act is planned by the end of the week.

More on the America COMPETES Act here.


More criticism of the EARN IT Act. We looked at this bill—yet another attempt to amend Section 230 of federal communications law—and what people were saying about it earlier this week. Since then, criticism of the measure keeps on pouring in, especially over the EARN IT Act's provisions regarding encryption.

"Strong encryption means platforms don't know what their users are doing. EARN IT allows platforms to be sued or prosecuted under state laws for 'recklessly' disregarding risks to children that they would not even be aware of because they use strong encryption," noted Ari Cohn of TechFreedom in a statement. "This liability will pressure platforms to create security flaws ready for exploitation by hostile actors."

"Under the new version of the bill, offering users encrypted services can be considered evidence of an intermediary's liability for [child pornography] claims, even if it cannot be considered an 'independent basis for that liability," explained the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) in a press release. "By dramatically expanding the risk of lawsuits intermediaries will face over user-generated content and their use of end-to-end encryption, the bill will cause intermediaries to over-remove even lawful content and disincentivize them from offering encrypted services, to the detriment of all internet users."

CDT President and CEO Alexandra Reeve Givens described it as "paint[ing] a target on the backs of providers who offer end-to-end encrypted services."


• The Pentagon said a U.S. raid in northwest Syria was "successful." The White Helmets, a Syrian civil defense group, said that it killed six kids.

• Japan is using a huge surveillance network to track elderly people with dementia.

• "Is there a constitutional right to sex work?" asks the Boston Review. "The Supreme Court recognizes the right of consenting adults to an erotic life free of state control. Given that, it shouldn't matter whether sex is your job."

• Facebook lost about half a million users in the last three months of 2021.

• The 10 worst colleges for free speech.

• Yikes:

• Mississippi legalizes medical marijuana.

• In Chicago, "19 people convicted of crimes they did not commit, all tied to former Chicago police sergeant Ronald Watts, will have their cases thrown out," WGN-TV reports. So far, 115 cases associated with Watts have been thrown out.

• The first episode of Justin Amash's podcast is out.

• "Trump's pandemic travel bans received vastly different media treatment than Biden's," writes Reason's Matt Welch.

• Pandemic lessons from Denmark:

• LOL: