Tag Archives: Justice

Minnesota Cop, Gun, and a Congressman’s Son

These poor Minneapolis Cops need a gun to defend themselves from a lone black kid with his hands up…Turns out the black kid in question happens to be the son of a Congressman.

More protests in Minneapolis over police shooting of Jamar Clark

Two people were arrested early Friday morning after dozens of people protested in front of the north Minneapolis police precinct Thursday night, close to where officers on Sunday shot and killed Jamar Clark, an unarmed black man. The controversy had spread through social media Thursday, after an image of a police officer pointing a weapon at U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison’s son Jeremiah at the protest went viral on Twitter.

Keith Ellison, D-Minn., said in a retweet of the image: “Photo is agonizing for me to see. My son is PEACEFULLY protesting w/ hands up; officer is shouldering gun. Why?”

Jamar Clark is the latest in a series of unarmed black people killed by police in the United States in recent years, fueling protests around the country and rekindling a national civil rights movement. The city’s 4th Precinct has been the center of protests since the shooting early Sunday morning.

On Thursday, Ellison said he supports protesters’ demands that investigators release video of the fatal shooting.

Last year, after a grand jury decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Keith Ellison had tweeted, “Worried for my sons.”

On Friday morning, th Minneapolis Police Department tweeted early Friday that two men were arrested on suspicion of felony damage to property. Police say they spray-painted walls and windows of a precinct building with profane messages during a protest.

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Posted by on November 20, 2015 in BlackLivesMatter


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Is “The Fix” In on the Tamir Rice Investigation?

Commented that the two “experts” hired by the DA were questionable, at best in my last blog on this. In June, a judge found “ample probable cause” for the DA to file charges…But so far no charges have been filed.

Further, in the Kangaroo Grand Jury, neither officer has been requested to testify.

Things appear to following the path of the Michael Brown Grand Jury.

Is the grand jury process stacked in favor of the cop who killed the 12-year-old?

Tamir Rice’s sister and mother at the park where the 12-year-old was gunned down.

On Saturday, October 10, the prosecutor overseeing the Tamir Rice grand jury investigation released two reports authored by independent experts and concluding that Timothy Loehmann, the cop who killed the 12-year-old African American boy in Cleveland last November, acted within the law. The Cuyahoga County prosecutor, Timothy McGinty, knew this was an unusual move to make during grand jury proceedings. “Historically, the norm in most places has been that there’s an incident, and then a long investigation shrouded in secrecy, followed by a conclusion that sometimes mystifies large segments of the public,” a spokesperson for McGinty’s office told Mother Jones regarding the publication of the two reports. “We’re trying to break that pattern.”

But the reports have sparked outrage from Rice’s family and supporters, who saythe grand jury investigation amounts to “a charade aimed at whitewashing” and are demanding that a special prosecutor take over the case. Some legal experts suggest that the reports could improperly influence the pool of people serving on the grand jury, who began hearing evidence in recent weeks and will ultimately determine whether Loehmann should face charges. The development adds to a cloud of questions hanging over the case ever since Rice’s death almost a year ago—including why Loehmann and his partner who drove the squad car, Frank Garmback, have never spoken to investigators.

Delores Jones-Brown, a former prosecutor in New Jersey and a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, says it was unusual that McGinty enlisted a Colorado prosecutor and a former FBI agent to analyze the evidence and then release their findings. “I have never seen an incident in which that happened before,” she said, adding, “Normally it would be the defense attorney’s responsibility to get those kinds of experts.”

Tim Young, the director of Ohio’s public defenders office, sees McGinty’s release of the reports as “a measured attempt to try and reduce potential backlash” if the grand jury decides to not indict Loehmann. “The idea that this is somehow making it more fair and transparent, I think, is disingenuous. They’re still going to present this case in a private proceeding that you may or may not get to see the transcript of. We won’t know how they present Tamir.”

As fatal officer-involved shootings have fueled a nationwide debate about policing and racial injustice in America, prosecutors and grand juries have come under scrutiny. Some prosecutors have taken unconventional steps in response to criticism; after a grand jury declined to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown, St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch released the evidence reviewed by jurors in that case. In August, California became the first state to ban the use of grand juries in officer-involved shootings.

Prosecutors are now in a tough position, says Dave Klinger, a former police officer and a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. “No matter what happens, the prosecutor is going to get criticized,” he says. The use of outside investigators by a prosecutor, he adds, is not unheard of in grand jury proceedings. “The goal in a situation like that is to explain to the grand jurors in detail about things that perhaps the prosecutor really doesn’t know him or herself, about police training, practice, or tactics, so that the jurors can have a better understanding of what it is that officers are supposed to do.”

The experts who reviewed Loehmann’s use of deadly force, Colorado prosecutor S. Lamar Sims and former FBI agent Kim Crawford, emphasized that the circumstances leading up to and immediately following the shooting were not relevant to their findings. “To suggest that Officer Garmback should have stopped the car at another location is to engage in exactly the kind of ‘Monday morning quarterbacking’ the case law exhorts us to avoid,” Sims wrote. Some policing experts have said that Garmback’s pulling up to within 10 feet of Rice just seconds before Loehmann shot him was among glaring tactical errors made by the two officers. And neither Sims nor Crawford mentioned the fact that for several minutes following the shooting, Loehmann and Garmback stood around without administering first aid to Rice while he lay bleeding on the ground.

“To say that the actions were constitutional does not [necessarily] relieve the officers of negligence or recklessness,” says Jones-Brown. That decision is ultimately up to the prosecutor and the grand jury, she says, adding that a special prosecutor should be appointed. “I’m afraid the damage may have already been done by disseminating these reports.”…Read the Rest Here

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Posted by on October 28, 2015 in BlackLivesMatter


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Impact of BLM – Prosecutions of Officers Alleged Guilty of Shootings Up

Why are Republicans like Chris Christie so adamant in their opposition to BLM?

Because it is working. It is causing a new look not only at violence perpetrated by bad Police, but at the entire judicial system as well as the carceral state. It threatens to tear down a supporting pillar of white privilege and system of disenfranchising minority voters.

Prosecution Of U.S. Police For Killings Surges To Highest In Decade

A dozen officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter this year resulting from shootings.

The number of U.S. police officers charged in fatal shootings has hit the highest level in a decade in 2015, new research shows, driven by greater scrutiny over use of deadly force.

Public outrage over the deaths of black men at the hands of police in New York, Missouri and elsewhere have spurred prosecutions. Police body cameras and bystanders’ videos also have helped bring cases, but even with the upturn, only a small percentage of police killings result in charges, lawyers and analysts say.

A dozen officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter this year resulting from shootings, up from an average of about five a year from 2005 to 2014, said Philip Stinson, an associate professor of criminology at Ohio’s Bowling Green State University. He sifted court records and media reports as part of research for the Justice Department on police crimes and arrests.

The 2015 number does not include six Baltimore officers facing trial for the death of Freddie Gray. The 25-year-old black man died in April from a spinal injury after he was arrested and bundled in a transport van. Four of the officers face murder or manslaughter charges.

None of the officers has been convicted, and over the previous decade just one in five officers charged was found guilty, said Stinson, a former police officer.

Stinson, attorneys and criminologists say it is too early to tell if the upturn indicates a permanent change or is a statistical fluke.

“We can tell for one year, but is that just an anomaly or is it a trend?” said Stinson.

The prosecutions represent only a small fraction of the killings by U.S. police. A Washington Post database last week showed 796 fatal police shootings this year, and one maintained by the Guardian newspaper recorded 927 deaths from all causes.


The United States has lacked official numbers on police-related deaths, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch said this month that the Justice Department was trying to improve data on the use of force by police. A study for the department said in March that less than half of arrest-related deaths had been reported under two programs.

At least two states, California and Texas, and several local jurisdictions, including Houston, Dallas and Fairfax County, Virginia, have started public databases on police-related shootings or deaths.

Ezekiel Edwards, director of the criminal law reform project at the American Civil Liberties Union, said mayors, prosecutors and lawmakers were under increasing public pressure to act when a questionable police shooting occurred.

“It’s not that there has been this massive uptick in civilian deaths. It’s just that there has been this massive uptick in scrutiny and protests,” he said.

Widespread protests over police brutality exploded over the August 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by an officer in Ferguson, Missouri. A grand jury declined to indict the officer, Darren Wilson, and the Justice Department cleared him of civil rights violations.

Besides the Baltimore police, the officers charged this year include:

— Michael Slager, a former North Charleston, South Carolina, patrolman facing trial over the death of a black man who ran from a traffic stop and was shot in the back. A bystander caught the incident on video.

— Ray Tensing, an ex-University of Cincinnati officer, charged with murder for the July death of an unarmed black motorist during an off-campus traffic stop. Tensing’s body camera showed the stop and the shooting.

— Stephen Rankin, a former Portsmouth, Virginia, officer, faces a first-degree murder charge for the April shooting of a black teenager in a Walmart parking lot….The rest here


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Police Chief Support for Smarter Sentencing Act

The US System of incarceration as a system of political and racial control has failed. To begin to straighten the mess out, President Obama has proposed “The Smarter Sentencing Act”.


A New Approach to Criminal-Justice Reform

As the Smarter Sentencing Act nears its vote, a new group of police chiefs and prosecutors hopes to influence the debate.

Criminal-justice reform is taking a significant step forward this week. On Wednesday, more than 130 police chiefs and prosecutors announced a new organization with the goal of curtailing mass incarceration. President Obama willhost a discussion with its members and the Marshall Project on Thursday, while the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to vote on the Smarter Sentencing Act, which hopes to reform mandatory-minimum sentencing and the federal prison system.

The group, Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, is a project by the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan policy institute that specializes in legal and criminal-justice issues. The new group’s membership includes NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, Cook County District Attorney Anita Alvarez, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey.

“We know firsthand that more incarceration does not keep our country safe,” Garry McCarthy and Ronal Serpas, the group’s co-chairs, wrote in a USA Todayop-ed on Wednesday. “Our experience and research show that good crime control policy is not about locking up everyone. It’s about locking up the right people.”

The group’s four main issues draw upon many of the themes that have animated criminal-justice reform. They note that “more than 50 percent of prison and jail inmates have a diagnosed mental illness, and 65 percent of prisoners meet medical criteria for substance abuse and addiction,” citing successful efforts to rework the system in Miami’s courts. They praise California’s Proposition 47, which reduced a broad swath of nonviolent drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, as well as sentencing reforms in Georgia, Kentucky, and New York. And they cite the need for closer relationships between law-enforcement agencies and the communities they serve…

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Posted by on October 23, 2015 in BlackLivesMatter


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“AllLivesMatter” = White Supremacy

Really good article from over at “The Root”. I agree with most, if not all of what the author is saying. AllLivesMatter is nothing more than a diversion, and a denial of the basic human right of black folks to seek redress for a system of racial privilege which catastrophically affects their lives. It is an extension of Jim Crow, in that it denies the very existence of a Criminal Justice System which has ripped any possibility of the American Dream from the poor – and serves as a constant reminder to the rest of the black community of their tenuous position in American Society. A mechanism of political and citizenship disenfranchisement, built upon the foundation…

That All Lives do not matter.

Where I tend to wander into question is the statement “Racism is “a polymorphous agent of death.” as expressed by Leonard Harris. The goal of racism is the preservation of a system of privileges and outcomes for the majority group. It’s result may be death, especially in terms of it’s enforcement upon the body Minority – but death is neither necessary or quintessential to its goal. The use of power as a mechanism to enforce a system of racism, where the minority group has the ability and cohesion to reject racism and attack it’s benefit to the majority group, is violence and death. As such, the use of power to enforce a racist system isn’t “racism” – it is business as usual in many human endeavors – in this writer’s humble view. The goal isn’t elimination – the goal is subjugation and incorporation into the economic and political gestalt as a resource.

If you eliminate the Minority Group, as HItler and others of his ilk attempted to do – then in a system of racism and privilege another group needs take it’s place. Which is the very reason poor whites support political racism on the part of the Republican Party.

Do the Math on #AllLivesMatter and It Equals White Supremacy

The unfortunate truth is that the hashtag #AllLivesMatter is a reaffirmation of white supremacy.

Let me be clear here. Yes, all language is contextual, and at face value, this particular hashtag, #AllLivesMatter, seems to be an affirmation of humanity. However, let us not be fooled into reading the word “all” as in “everyone.” We are reminded that the Founding Fathers used the same language of humanity. We do, indeed, “hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” In the language of U.S. politics, “all” has never meant everyone. #SomeLivesMatter.

More important, #AllLivesMatter does not have an organic origin. If the hashtag began on its own—organically—it might be possible to rally around its humanist potential. But this is not the case here. Contextually speaking, #AllLivesMatter is a rejoinder. It is a retort. It originates in direct response to the creation of the hashtag and movement #BlackLivesMatter. And it is here that we find its promotion of white supremacy.

For the past couple of years, I have given talks and presentations with a general title of “Diversity Kills.” This “diversity kills” theory is a three-part argument. No. 1, “diversity” has become a shortened pseudonym for “racial diversity,” and the way that institutions and universities practice “diversity” has become a new form of racism (i.e., organizations may want a face for the poster but have few plans to become more inclusive of nondominant cultures). Diversity becomes tokenized. Diversity equals racism.

No. 2, and most important to this conversation, is my definition of racism. Racism is “a polymorphous agent of death.” Racism is “group-differentiated vulnerability to premature death.” This is to say that at the end of racism is death. Racism is a wanton disregard for humanity and life. Raced bodies are more likely to have shortened life expectancies, higher asthma rates, closer proximity to contaminations, and less access to health care, quality food and water. In addition, as Frank Wilderson once put it, raced bodies also seem to “magnetize bullets” (pdf). At the end of it all, it means inessential dying and gratuitous mortalities. Racism equals death.

The third, and last, part of the argument involves doing the math. If diversity equals racism, and racism equals death, then diversity equals death. Or … diversity kills. This is meant to be both metaphorical and literal—e.g., hypertension, stress, anxiety and hostile work environments. Diversity takes years off the lives of raced bodies. Diversity kills.

It is the racism-equals-death equation that gives the #BlackLivesMatter movement its resonance. #BlackLivesMatter has become significant to the new organizing movement precisely because it clearly and crisply identifies the truth of the racism-equals-death equation. As oppressed people speak back to and challenge white supremacy, there is a dire need for a mantra that counters anti-black racism … counters death … i.e., #BlackLivesMatter.

The response of #AllLivesMatter is an attempt to shift our focus away from the value of black lives. It is an effort to divert our attention away from the end result of racism: the death of black, brown and raced bodies. #AllLivesMatter is not a life-valuing statement. As Talib Kweli recently told an audience, “All lives will matter when Black Lives matter.” Replacing “black” with “all” is an attempt to respond to and ultimately replace (that is, silence) #BlackLivesMatter. It is a statement of disregard. It’s a denial of the reality that racism equals death. And the unfortunate truth is that this is the work of white supremacy.

Sean Eversley Bradwell is an assistant professor at Ithaca College. He is coordinator of the minor in African-Diaspora studies at Ithaca’s Center for the Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity and has research and teaching interests in educational policy, race theory and hip-hop culture.

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Posted by on September 5, 2015 in The New Jim Crow


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Stacking Juries Against Black Defendants

The American Legal System is stacked against the poor, and persons of color. Whether the case is Civil or Criminal, a minority defendant pays a “Black Tax” on the outcome of the trial proceeding based on the sometimes intentional, and often subconscious bias of the jury. As such a Jury Trial is not the shield for the innocent it is for white defendants.

The process of racial Jury “stacking” has been exposed before, and addressed by the Appellate and Supreme Court. Yet it continues. Perhaps, in addition to the focus on Law Enforcement, BLM and other organizations need to attack the system at it’s very roots – the Judicial.

The Old Jim Crow Jury

Exclusion of Blacks From Juries Raises Renewed Scrutiny

SHREVEPORT, La. — Here are some reasons prosecutors have offered for excluding blacks from juries: They were young or old, single or divorced, religious or not, failed to make eye contact, lived in a poor part of town, had served in the military, had a hyphenated last name, displayed bad posture, were sullen, disrespectful or talkative, had long hair, wore a beard.

The prosecutors had all used peremptory challenges, which generally allow lawyers to dismiss potential jurors without offering an explanation. But the Supreme Court makes an exception: If lawyers are accused of racial discrimination in picking jurors, they must offer a neutral justification.

“Stupid reasons are O.K.,” said Shari S. Diamond, an expert on juries at Northwestern University School of Law. Ones offered in bad faith are not.

In Louisiana’s Caddo Parish, where Shreveport is the parish seat, a study to be released Monday has found that prosecutors used peremptory challenges three times as often to strike black potential jurors as others during the last decade. That is consistent with patterns researchers found earlier in Alabama, Louisiana and North Carolina, where prosecutors struck black jurors at double or triple the rates of others. In Georgia, prosecutors excluded every black prospective juror in a death penalty case against a black defendant, which the Supreme Court has agreed to review this fall.

“If you repeatedly see all-white juries convict African-Americans, what does that do to public confidence in the criminal justice system?” asked Elisabeth A. Semel, the director of the death penalty clinic at the law school at the University of California, Berkeley.

As police shootings of unarmed black men across the country have spurred distrust of law enforcement by many African-Americans, the new findings on jury selection bring fresh attention to a question that has long haunted the American justice system: Are criminal juries warped by racism and bias?

Some legal experts said they hoped the Supreme Court would use the Georgia case to tighten the standards for peremptory challenges, which have existed for centuries and were, until a 1986 decision, Batson v. Kentucky, considered completely discretionary. (Judges can also dismiss potential jurors for cause, but that requires a determination that they are unfit to serve.)

But many prosecutors and defense lawyers said peremptory strikes allow them to use instinct and strategy to shape unbiased and receptive juries. “I’m looking for people who will be open, at least, to my arguments,” said Joshua Marquis, the district attorney in Astoria, Ore.

Jeff Adachi, San Francisco’s elected public defender, said peremptory challenges promote fairness. “You’re going to remove people who are biased against your client,” he said, “and the district attorney is going to remove jurors who are biased against police officers or the government.”

Another Courthouse Guarded By a Confederate Memorial

Reprieve Australia, a group that opposes the death penalty and conducted the Caddo Parish study, said the likelihood of an acquittal rose with the number of blacks on the jury. No defendants were acquitted when two or fewer of the dozen jurors were black. When there were at least three black jurors, the acquittal rate was 12 percent. With five or more, the rate rose to 19 percent. Defendants in all three groups were overwhelmingly black.

Excluding black jurors at a disproportionate rate does more than hurt defendants’ prospects and undermine public confidence, said Ursula Noye, a researcher who compiled the data for the report. “Next to voting,” she said, “participating in a jury is perhaps the most important civil right.”

‘It Dashes Your Hopes’

Prospective jurors arriving at the courthouse here walk past a towering monument to the Confederacy, featuring grim likenesses of four Confederate generals.

Carl Staples, a 63-year-old African-American, recalled how the monument made him feel when he reported for jury duty. “It dashes your hopes,” he said, taking a break at the gospel radio station where he works as an announcer. “It has its roots in the ideology of white supremacy.” He said much the same thing during jury selection in a 2009 death penalty case, and that played a part in his dismissal for cause.

‘It Dashes Your Hopes’

Prospective jurors arriving at the courthouse here walk past a towering monument to the Confederacy, featuring grim likenesses of four Confederate generals.

Carl Staples, a 63-year-old African-American, recalled how the monument made him feel when he reported for jury duty. “It dashes your hopes,” he said, taking a break at the gospel radio station where he works as an announcer. “It has its roots in the ideology of white supremacy.” He said much the same thing during jury selection in a 2009 death penalty case, and that played a part in his dismissal for cause….Read the Rest Here

The New Jim Crow – Just Like the Old Jim Crow…Just sneakier

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Posted by on August 16, 2015 in The New Jim Crow


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Marissa Alexander Released on Bail

Marissa Alexander is the Florida woman who was sentenced to 20 years in prison…

For shooting some drywall.

In the same state where George Zimmerman got “not guilty” for murder – and doesn’t seem to be able to go to jail for shoving guns in the faces of his soon-to-be ex-wife and girlfriend.

At least she gets to spend this Thanksgiving, and possibly Christmas with her kids while awaiting retrial.

Woman Sentenced For Firing Alleged ‘Warning Shot’ At Her Husband Gets Released

The Jacksonville woman awaiting a new trial in a controversial “stand your ground” case is free on bond.

First Coast News ( reports that Marissa Alexander was released from jail Wednesday. According to the Duval County Clerk of Court, she must remain under house arrest while awaiting trial.

In 2012, Alexander was sentenced to a mandatory 20-year prison sentence for firing what she insisted was a warning shot during a fight with her husband. She tried to invoke Florida’s “stand your ground” law, but the judge threw out her self-defense claim.

An appeals court ruled in September that the judge in the case gave improper jury instructions.

Alexander says she fired a bullet at a wall in 2010 to scare off her husband when she felt he was threatening her.



Posted by on November 28, 2013 in The New Jim Crow


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