Tag: police brutality

Rant of the Week: Jon Stewart – We Can’t Breath

Although the New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo was finally fired last year, he was never arrested or indicted for Eric Garner’s death. In the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, all four police officers were fired within 48 hours and indicted for second degree murder. Six years ago, in an eight minute …

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All Four

Attorney General Keith Ellison to elevate charges against officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck; also charging other 3 involved By Stephen Montemayor and Chao Xiong Star Tribune Attorney General Keith Ellison plans to elevate charges against the former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck while adding charges of aiding and abetting …

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This Is Not America

Rant of the Week: Trevor Noah – Domino Effect

This is not so much a rant as it is a thoughtful look at societies response to racism and police brutality. Trevor shares his thoughts on the killing of George Floyd, the protests in Minneapolis, the dominoes of racial injustice and police brutality, and how the contract between society and black Americans has been broken …

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Texas and America Needs This Man In The Senate

Texas Democratic Representative Beto O’Rourke, who represents Texas 16th congressional which includes El Paso, is running for the Senate seat currently held by first term Republican Senator Ted Cruz, probably the most disliked senator on both sides of the aisle. Sen. Lindsay Graham jokingly once said, “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of …

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Embattled NYC Police Commissioner Resigns

New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton abruptly announced yesterday that he would resign his position effective September 1. He had already signaled that he would not remain after the end of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s term ends in 2017. He will be taking a position in the private sector and will be replaced by …

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I Stand With Her

A nurse and mother from Pennsylvania, Ieshia Evans, stood alone on the street in Baton Rouge, Louisiana protesting the murder of a 37 year old black man by that city’s police. She was unarmed silent in front of a wall of heavy armed police. Yet, she was confronted by two heavy armed officers and arrested …

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A License To Kill

Is anyone surprised at the decision by a Cleveland, Ohio grand jury’s vote not to indict the white police officer who fatally shot Tamir Rice, an African American 12-year-old? A grand jury declined to indict officer Timothy Loehmann, who opened fire on Tamir less than two seconds after arriving at a park where the 12-year-old …

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Managing Anger

I’ve been really much too angry to talk about many of recent events both here in the US and overseas. Since the bombing of the Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctor Without Borders) hospital by the US military in Kunduz, Afghanistan to Friday’s mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, trying to remain objective …

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Elizabeth Warren Said What We Needed To Hear

In an address at Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston, established by her late predecessor, Sen. Ted Kennedy, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) got to the heart of the Black Lives Matter movement and what everyone should be doing to end racial inequality.

Transcript for the speech as it was written can be read here

Ferguson: One Year Later Nothing Changed

It is one year since a young black man was gunned down by a white police officer on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri for jay walking. Michael Brown’s death and the subsequent cover up of his murder by the police and prosecutor’s office sparked months of demonstrations that were marked by more police brutality and violation of the constitutional rights of the protestors and the press.

Seven months later, the Justice Department cleared the white police officer, Darren Wilson, of civil rights charges. However, in a scathing report the police and the courts routinely demonstrated racial bias and violated the constitutional rights of the black citizens of Ferguson with illegal traffic stops, arrests without reasonable suspicion and excessive fines for minor infractions. Then Attorney General Eric Holder misguidedly thought that this report would effect change. The still mostly white Ferguson city council rejected the report and its reforms. And, as seen by this week’s violence, arrests of reporters and use of excessive police tactics during the demonstrations on the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death, nothing has changed and once again there is a state of emergency in Ferguson and St. Louis County.

The state of emergency was precipitated by the shooting and critical wounding of an 18 year old black man by undercover police who claim that the young man was firing at them. The officers were not wearing body cameras and unmarked vehicle they were in was not equipped with a dash camera. So there is only their word.

In the original New York Times article, this quote, cited by Esquire‘s Charles Pierce, from State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal, whose district includes Ferguson, was removed:

“After a year of protest and conversation around police accountability, having plainclothes officers without body cameras and proper identification in the protest setting leaves us with only the officer’s account of the incident, which is clearly problematic,” Kayla Reed, a field organizer with the Organization for Black Struggle, said in a statement. State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal, whose district includes Ferguson, said on Monday that she was seeking information about the shooting. “I’m just trying to figure out the timeline of events and ensure that police officers are following protocol,” said Ms. Chappelle-Nadal, who has been active in protests here. The shooting, which came toward the end of an otherwise peaceful day, was another vexing turn for activists and the authorities alike. It was the second consecutive night of gunfire on West Florissant Avenue.

There is also the issue of arresting reporters on bogus charges supressing freedom of the press:

Huffington Post, Washington Post Reporters Charged For Doing Journalism In Ferguson (UPDATE)

by Michael Calderone, Huffington Post

“You’d have thought law enforcement authorities would have come to their senses about this incident.”

Reporters from The Huffington Post and Washington Post have been charged with trespassing and interfering with a police officer’s performance, a chilling setback for press freedom coming nearly a year after their arrests in Ferguson, Missouri.

The Huffington Post’s Ryan J. Reilly and Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery were arrested while working out of a McDonald’s on Aug. 13, 2014, just four days after white police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.

Police claimed the journalists, who were covering the unrest that followed the police killing, didn’t leave the restaurant fast enough.  Reilly described a police officer shoving his head against glass during his arrest, while Lowery said an officer pushed him into a soda machine. Both Lowery and Reilly were quickly released and not charged with any crime at the time.

The decision to charge Reilly and Lowery now is especially surprising, given that St. Louis County settled just last week with two other journalists arrested while reporting in Ferguson.

Until recently, Reilly and Lowery believed their incidents with police were long over with. The Huffington Post reported last month that the St. Louis County Police Department filed incident reports in late April describing the two reporters as trespassing in the McDonald’s. Police referred their cases to the St. Louis County counselor’s office, which, given a one-year statute of limitations, had until Thursday to bring charges.

Peaceful, unarmed protesters and reporters doing their jobs are harassed and arrested. Now, the vigilantes have arrived:

Heavily-armed members of a controversial right-wing “patriot” group added an extra dose of unease to protests in Ferguson, Missouri, early Tuesday.

The Oath Keepers organization says its members – all former military, police and first responders – pledge to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

However, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar described their presence as “both unnecessary and inflammatory.”

Protesters and police confirmed that a handful of Oath Keepers with what appeared to be assault rifles, bulletproof vest and camouflage gear were seen early Tuesday on the streets of Ferguson, which was under a state of emergency following demonstrations pegged to the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death.

Several protesters confronted members of the group, asking why they were allowed to openly carry weapons.

“I’m happy that we’re able to defend ourselves,” one Oath Keeper replied in footage from NBC station KSDK. “It’s been our right for a long time.”

The St. Louis County Police Department said it would consult with the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorneys Office about the legalities of the issue.

Missouri allows individuals with concealed weapons permits to openly display firearms, unless it is done in an “angry or threatening manner.”

Shawn McGuire, a spokesman for St. Louis County Police, said he did not believe officers had confronted the Oath Keepers or told to leave.

Holy crap on a pogo stick, protesters are arrested for lawful assembly, two reporters are being railroaded, black men are still being indiscriminately shot by white cops, yet, civilian white men, armed to the teeth are allowed to roam free on the streets of Ferguson, unchallenged by the police or courts. Seriously, nothing has been learned from last year. Not one damned thing.

The Ugly Truth About the US Criminal Justice System

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

With the latest incident in Waller County, Texas that ended in the suspicious death of Chicago civil rights activist Sandra Bland three days after she was arrested for a minor traffic infraction, the discussion of racism and brutality by officers in police departments across the United States has again been raised. The account of Ms. Bland’s arrest and death are being questioned by the family, civil rights groups and the media.

Footage has emerged of police allegedly slamming the head of a woman to the ground as she was arrested just days before she committed suicide in jail.

Sandra Bland, a Chicago civil rights activist, was found dead in her cell at Waller County Jail in Texas.

She had been booked three days earlier on grounds of assaulting a public servant after the fraught arrest by the side of a highway, during which she angrily accused officers of harming her.

An autopsy performed a day later classified her death as suicide by hanging – though friends and family have said there is no way Bland would have killed herself.

Bland was part of the ‪#‎BlackLiveMatter movement and posted videos about civil rights and racism on social media.

In an effort to quell the public outcries for more thorough investigation, Texas authorities released the police car dash-cam video. However, this raised even more questions since the video not only contradicts arresting officer Brian Encina’s written account of the traffic stop and the events that led up to Ms. Bland’s arrest, the video also appears to have been edited which the Texas Department of Public Safety is denying.

In the video, which is more than 52 minutes long, there are several spots in which cars and people disappear and reappear. When it released the video, the Public Safety Department did not mention any editing. The audio ends more than a minute before the video images do.

One of the more conspicuous anomalies comes 25 minutes and five seconds into the video, when a man walks from a truck off screen and then reappears suddenly at the spot where he began walking. The image flutters for a moment before resuming.

There are no breaks in the audio during this time. People are heard talking through the video gaps.

In another spot at 32 minutes and 37 seconds, a white car appears on the right side of the screen and then disappears. A moment later, what appears to be the same car comes back into the frame and turns left. During this time, Encinia is talking about what occurred during the arrest. There are no breaks in his speech.

What look like the same cars keep appearing in the same locations, following their same paths, beginning at 33 minutes and 4 seconds.

Again, the audio continues uninterrupted.

The glitches in the video sparked a wave of skepticism and questions in social media, with many critics arguing that the evidence had been edited.

Ed. Note: The original video in the article was disabled by the user, presumably the Texas Department of Public Safety, who said that a new video would be posted later. This a full, unedited copy of the one that was originally posted.

One of those critics is “Selma” director Ava DuVernay who said in a tweet

Racism and brutality are ingrained and systemic in many police departments. Worst of all it is condoned and covered-up by those who are charged with oversight of these departments. The host of MSNBC’s “All In” Chris Hayes discussed the problems encountered by former Chicago Independent Police Review Authority Investigator Lorenzo Davis, who was fired from his job for refusing orders to reverse his findings of unjustified shootings by Chicago police officers.

After being confronted on stage at NetRoots Nation in Phoenix, Arizona by “BlackLivesMatters protestors, Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called for major police reforms after he watched the dash-cam video. While much racism is rooted in economic issues, it is also systemic in our society and the heritage of white supremacy. The battle for equality for blacks and other oppressed minorities is far from over in this country. “BlackLivesMatter. Let’s start making it matter to the criminal justice system and hold these officers of the law accountable for the laws they break.

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