5 NOPD Officers Guilty in Katrina Murders

danziger-defendants.jpg

Five current or former New Orleans police officers were convicted in the Danziger Bridge murder case, and subsequent cover up. They are, from top left: Kenneth Bowen, Robert Faulcon, Robert Gisevius, Arthur Kaufman and Anthony Villavaso.

The wheels of Justice turn slow, and they are often out of alignment, and way too often can be bought -

But every once in a while they actually produce justice…

5 NOPD officers guilty in post-Katrina Danziger Bridge shootings, cover-up

A jury this morning convicted all five New Orleans police officers accused in the Danziger Bridgeshootings, which took place amid the chaos after Hurricane Katrina and claimed the lives of two civilians, and a cover-up of startling scope that lasted almost five years.

The verdicts were a huge victory for federal prosecutors, who won on virtually every point, save for their contention that the shootings amounted to murder. The jury rejected that notion, finding that the officers violated the victims’ civil rights, but that their actions did not constitute murder.

Sentencing for the five officers, all of them likely facing lengthy prison terms, has been set for Dec. 14 before U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt.

Four of the five officers — Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Robert Faulcon and Anthony Villavaso — have been in custody since their arraignment.

The fifth, retired Sgt. Arthur “Archie” Kaufman, who was not involved in the shootings but headed the police investigation into them, remains free on bail.

In remarks on the courthouse steps shortly after the verdicts were rendered, lead prosecutor Barbara “Bobbi” Bernstein said she was “in awe” of the relatives of the bridge shooting victims. Without their persistence, she said, the truth about the incident would never come to light.

Lance Madison, whose brother, Ronald, was shot and killed on the bridge, and who was jailed for allegedly shooting at police, thanked the jury and the federal authorities who brought the case, while noting he will never get his brother back.

“We’re thankful for closure after six long years of waiting for justice,” Madison said.

The landmark civil-rights case — one of four major federal cases involving use of force by New Orleans police to result in indictments so far — has been closely watched around the nation.

Because of its sheer magnitude, the Danziger case was the most high-stakes of the nine civil-rights probes into the NOPD the Justice Department has confirmed. Before today’s verdicts, five other former officers, all of whom testified during the six-week trial, had already pleaded guilty to various roles in the shootings and the subsequent cover-up.

The two other cases to go to trial so far — involving the deaths of Henry Glover and Raymond Robair at the hands of police — both resulted in convictions, although two officers accused of different roles in the Glover case were acquitted, and a third officer who was convicted recently had that verdict vacated.

While today’s verdicts close the book on most aspects of the Danziger case, one officer charged in the cover-up still faces charges: retired Sgt. Gerard Dugue, who is set to be tried Sept. 26…

Rosa Parks Papers Reveal Rape Attempt

Rosa Parks was a prolific writer,  keeping copious notes on the events of the day, as well as her experiences. Historians reviewing her papers have come up with a few surprises…

Rosa Parks Auction

Rosa Parks essay reveals rape attempt

Long before Rosa Parks was hailed as the “mother of the civil rights movement,” she wrote a detailed and harrowing account of nearly being raped by a white neighbor who employed her as a housekeeper in 1931.

The six-page essay, written in her own hand many years after the incident, is among thousands of her personal items currently residing in the Manhattan warehouse and cramped offices of Guernsey’s Auctioneers, which has been selected by a Michigan court to find an institution to buy and preserve the complete archive.

The Associated Press was provided with some samples of the documents in the archive, including portions of the essay. Archivists had reviewed the documents for Guernsey’s and provided descriptions of their contents.

Civil rights historian Danielle McGuire said she had never before heard of the attempted rape of Parks and called the find among Parks’ papers astounding.

It helps explain what triggered Parks’ lifelong campaign against the ritualistic rape of black women by white men, said McGuire, whose recent book “At the Dark End of the Street” examines how economic intimidation and sexual violence were used to derail the freedom movement and how it went unpunished during the Jim Crow era.

“I thought it was because of the stories that she had heard. But this gives a much more personal context to that,” said McGuire, an assistant professor of history at Wayne State University in Detroit. Her book recounts Parks’ role in investigating for the NAACP the case of Recy Taylor, a young sharecropper raped by a group of white men in 1944.

Of her own experience, Parks wrote, “He offered me a drink of whiskey, which I promptly and vehemently refused. . He moved nearer to me and put his hand on my waist. I was very frightened by now.”

“He liked me. .. he didn’t want me to be lonely and would I be sweet to him. He had money to give me for accepting his attentions,” she wrote.

“I was ready to die but give my consent never. Never, never.”

Most people know the story of Parks, a black, middle-aged seamstress who refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955. Guernsey’s President Arlan Ettinger said her personal papers reveal a much more complex individual, one who spent a lifetime fighting for racial equality and against the sexual violence of black women.

Parks is credited with inspiring the civil rights movement with her solitary act of defiance on Dec. 1, 1955, that led to the Supreme Court outlawing segregation on buses. She received the nation’s two highest honors in her lifetime, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor.

She died in 2005 at age 92, leaving the trove of personal correspondence, papers relating to her work for the Montgomery branch of the NAACP, tributes from presidents and world leaders, school books, family bibles, clothing, furniture and more – about 8,000 items in all.

“It is wonderful and breathtaking,” Ettinger said. “It will be up to the institution that ends up with it to make this material known to the world.” …

 

Another Civil Rights Era Murder Solved?

This one apparently solved by the work of a local newspaper. Morris may have been murdered by the KKK for nothing other than the perspicacity of being a black man operating a successful business with both black and white customers.

Frank Morris (in the apron and visor) is seen standing in front of his shoe shop in the 1950s. He was killed when his shoe shop burned down in Ferriday, La., in 1964.

Frank Morris was in the Apron and visor in the middle of the group standing in front of his store

 

Paper names ex-Klansman in civil rights murder

Early on the morning of December 10, 1964, Frank Morris ran out of his shoe store, his clothes and skin on fire.

People who saw him in the hospital afterward said the African-American businessman was so badly burned they didn’t recognize him.

“Only the bottom of his feet weren’t burned. He was horrible to look at,” said the Rev. Robert Lee Jr., now 96.

Morris survived for four days before dying — long enough to tell the FBI that two men had broken into his store while he slept, smashed windows, doused the place in gasoline and told him: “Get back in there, nigger.”

Locals in Ferriday, the small Louisiana town where Morris lived and died, remember him as having both white and black customers, which was rare for black businesses in the segregated South in the days before civil rights. He would come out of his store onto the sidewalk so white female customers wouldn’t have to go inside alone.

No one has ever been charged with killing him. But Wednesday, more than 46 years after his death at age 51, a local newspaper has named two men it believes were part of a Ku Klux Klan “wrecking crew” that torched his store and murdered him.

One, Arthur Spencer, is still alive. The second, O.C. “Coonie” Poissot, died in 1992.

The Concordia Sentinel, based in Ferriday, reports Spencer’s son and the brother of his ex-wife both say Spencer told them he was involved in the killing.

Spencer’s ex-wife, Brenda Rhodes, says Poissot told her that he and Spencer were on the wrecking crew that burned Morris’s store.

“It came at a time of great lawlessness in this parish, when the Klan was in control of this parish — or if not in control, a great influence,” said Sentinel editor Stanley Nelson, using the Louisiana term for county.

The newspaper’s sources all indicated that the Klan wrecking crew didn’t necessarily expect Morris to be in the store when they burned it.

Spencer’s former brother-in-law, Bill Frasier, said he’d once asked Spencer if he ever killed anyone.

“We did accidentally one time,” Spencer said, according to Frasier.

Sentinel editor Nelson said many racially motivated killings in that era were done by people who might not have planned to commit murder — but should have known what they were doing.

“Almost all of the people that were killed in those days, no one set out to kill,” he said. Some beatings got too violent, for example, he said.

But, he added, “When you go to burn a building, you run the risk that a person is going to be there.” Continue reading

In the End, For Conservatives – It’s Always About Their Racism

Here’s the core of the arguments against Atty General Holder’s DOJ. And up until the last paragraph, the author makes a reasonable case of why is the DOJ involved in such minor things that should be handled within the purview of the local school administration or at worst – State Courts.

‘Civil Rights’ Gone Wild
To the Civil Rights Division, pilgrimages and stiletto heels matter more than actual violations of the Civil Rights Act.

The Author  points out several cases where Federal involvement seems a bit on the overkill side such as -

In the latest outrage, the Civil Rights Division is suing the board of education in the leafy Chicago suburb of Berkeley, Ill. The board’s offense? It would not allow a middle-school computer-math-lab teacher to take off three weeks during December’s crucial end-of-semester course reviews and final exams in order to make a pilgrimage to Mecca…In 1977, in TWA v. Hardison, the Supreme Court held that it is an “undue hardship” if the employer has to “bear more than a de minimis cost” in order to provide the accommodation.

The author hints at going off the rails here with:

Extremists in the Civil Rights Division are pouncing on other school policies as well. When it was first formed in the 1960s, the division pursued cases of real discrimination — cases where, for example, black students were harassed or intimidated or provided with intentionally inferior education.

Why? Because one of the problems with the Bushit Administration’s DOJ was a complete ignoring of Minority Civil Rights for a all hands on deck, fruitless search for the Holy Grail of conservative bigots – cases of reverse discrimination.

They managed to actually find and prosecute 1 case in 8 years, despite 12,000-16,000 cases of discrimination against minorities being referred to the DOJ by local authorities a year… Which they ignored. So when the author is referring to “Extremists”… The Bushit Administration perversion of the Civil Rights Division resulted in filling the Division with…what? Good Ol’ Boys?

The current cases involve two schools in upstate New York that supposedly discriminated against one male student who wore a pink wig and makeup and another male student who wore a wig and stiletto heels and wanted to be able to “dress like a woman.” These students had violated the schools’ common-sense dress codes and were told to change clothes and remove the makeup. That prompted the Civil Rights Division to come knocking. The boys were being treated “differently” from female students, and such differential treatment, the division asserted, “implicate[s] the civil rights laws that we enforce.”

Sounds reasonable. The local school system should have the ability to define a dress code for all students as far as I can see. One of my personal heroes is the principal in memphis who has developed “The Urkel” System -

But then the author goes and quotes these scumbags -

As Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity observes: “The Obama administration apparently believes that it is unconstitutional for high schools to have a dress code that makes distinctions between what is appropriate dress for males and what is appropriate dress for females.” Clegg also points out that the division’s attempt to equate “sexual-orientation discrimination” with sex discrimination, by asserting that the use of sexual “stereotypes” is an instance of the latter, is nothing but naked bootstrapping (if you will pardon the expression). But legal justification or not, in the eyes of the warped and silly (but dangerous) lawyers inhabiting the division, barring boys from wearing stiletto heels is a serious civil-rights violation.

For those not familiar with right-wing racist code language, “The Center for Equal Opportunity” is one of the KKK organizations in suits that occupies the right, whose sole purpose is to re-segregate schools fully with the financial and legal support of the so called “Federalist Society” made up of right wing, and racist lawyers little better than the Council of Conservative Citizen scum they shill for.

So our writer isn’t really pissed about th DOJ’s intrusion  into local decision making, as much as he is pissed that such intrusion isn’t on behalf of re-segregation, and the re-institution of Jim Crow.

The proof?

Oddly, one of those views is that discrimination by some racial groups is perfectly acceptable. This explains why the Justice Department dismissed the New Black Panther Party voter-intimidation case it had already won. It is why this administration is studiously not pursuing cases like the one filed against Southern Illinois University in 2006 for maintaining a paid fellowship program that categorically excluded white males from applying. It was the Bush administration’s race-neutral enforcement policy in such cases that enraged the radical civil-rights organizations that dominate Washington and formed the basis for much of the unfair and misleading criticism of that administration’s enforcement of civil-rights laws.

The “author” in this case, was one of the racist scumbags illegitimately placed in the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division during the Bushit Administration, who now works at one of the right wing’s premier racist “think tanks”…

Hans A. von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a former counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Justice Department.

Methinks this conehead sheet wearer…

Has a problem.

If the best the right can do is to complain that Atty General Holder is a “bad man” because he won’t let them be bigots-in- charge anymore.

They have a weaker case than even I thought, and I already had them as the “bargain brand” in those toilet tissue commercials where one drop of water cases where you wouldn’t want to set the good china on the cheap stuff…

That Defective Southern Memory Thing…

Former RNC Chair, and current Governor of Mississippi Haley Barbour’s fond memories of White Citizen’s Councils …

And the reality.

How Things Change... The Old...

The Real Story of the White Citizens’ Council

And New. Former Republican Senator George Allen and Council of Conservative Citizens

Although the term “historical revisionist” seems to have been co-opted these days by committed right-wingers who typically reserve it for liberals who refuse to adhere to the true and sacred American narrative according to Limbaugh and Beck, apparently Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour didn’t get the memo.  In a recent interview with The Weekly Standard, Barbour, who is a favorite of the ultraconservative, race-baiting Council of Conservative Citizens, offered a startling new interpretation of this group’s massive resistance-era antecedent, the arch-segregationist White Citizens’ Council, whose title was subsequently deracinated to become the Citizens’ Councils of America.  When asked how his hometown of Yazoo City, Mississippi came to integrate its public schools relatively peacefully in 1970, Barbour responded:

“Because the business community wouldn’t stand for it,” he said. “You heard of the Citizens Councils? Up north they think it was like the KKK. Where I come from it was an organization of town leaders. In Yazoo City they passed a resolution that said anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get their ass run out of town. If you had a job, you’d lose it. If you had a store, they’d see nobody shopped there. We didn’t have a problem with the Klan in Yazoo City.”

Mississippi Governor and Former RNC CHair Haley Barobor at Council of Conservative Citizens BBQ

The White Citizens’ Council was formed in July 1954 in Indianola, a little north of Yazoo City in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, by a World War II veteran and plantation manager, Robert B. “Tut” Patterson, and some local businessmen and politicos.  The council organizers had been inspired by a speech by Judge Tom Brady, also a Mississippian, who called on Southern whites to mount an organized resistance campaign against the Supreme Court’s integration decree.  The Council spread across, and ultimately out of, Mississippi, generally attracting the white economic and political elites of the Deep South’s Black Belt counties but later making some inroads among blue-collar whites in the cities as well.

Pledged to maintain white supremacy, the councils foreswore violence but did their best to intimidate blacks who might think about challenging the status quo and to make painful examples of those who did.  Perched atop the local economic pyramid, the councils’ white elites could seriously reduce, if not cut off entirely, the flow of commerce and credit, not to mention employment, to blacks who got out of line.  Council leaders typically made it a point to see that the names of any black persons who had attempted to register to vote or signed petitions for school desegregation made their way to the local newspapers so that whites in the community would know which blacks to fire, turn off their tenant farms, or deny credit.  An Alabama council member summed up his group’s aims quite candidly when he explained, “We intend to make it difficult, if not impossible, for a Negro who advocates desegregation to find and hold a job, get credit, or renew a mortgage.” Continue reading

Morning Joe: Haley Barbour under fire

Former RNC Chair, now Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour’s relationship with the Council of Conservative Citizens – aka the KKK in suits, shines through again. Robinson misses Barbour’s cozy relationship with the Council of Conservative Citizens in Mississippi today.

 

 

Another Civil Rights Era Conviction

Wish some of these prosecutors were as efficient at convicting the politicians, bankers, and Wall Street types who bought our country to economic disaster…

And we had a few Judges who weren’t corrupt, who would lock them up for 10 or 20 years for their crimes.

Yet another conviction for a 50 year old crime -

 

Jimmie Lee Jackson

 

Ala. ex-trooper pleads in civil rights-era slaying

A white former state trooper pleaded guilty Monday to a lesser charge in the 1965 shooting death of a black man at a civil rights protest, a killing that inspired historic voting rights marches.

James Bonard Fowler, 77, entered the plea of misdemeanor second-degree manslaughter two weeks before he was scheduled to go to trial on a murder charge for the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson. Jackson’s shooting in the city of Marion set off protests at nearby Selma that led to passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Fowler was sentenced to six months in jail in Geneva County, his home county.

Fowler was accused of shooting Jackson in a cafe as a protest march turned into a melee in Marion on the night of Feb. 18, 1965. Fowler claimed Jackson was trying to grab the trooper’s gun and that he fired in self-defense.

District Attorney Michael Jackson, who in 2005 became the first black prosecutor elected in Marion County, reopened the case and took it before a county grand jury, which indicted Fowler on a murder charge in May 2007. Jackson, who died at a Selma hospital days after the shooting, is now honored in civil rights museums in Alabama as a martyr of the movement.

Fowler, who apologized to Jackson’s family after entering the plea Monday, said he didn’t mean to kill anyone that night in 1965.

“I was coming over here to save lives. I didn’t mean to take lives. I wish I could redo it,” he said.

Defense attorney George Beck said Fowler agreed to plead guilty to the reduced charge because he was concerned he couldn’t get a fair trial in Perry County and his health is poor.

“He wants to put it behind him,” he said. “It puts to rest a long chapter of civil rights history here in Perry County.”

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