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The Strange Case of Sandra Bland and Waller County, Texas Justice

The Story…

Texas sheriff involved in the death of Sandra Bland fired from previous post for racism

Sandra Bland died in police custody this past Monday. Visiting Texas from Chicago to interview for a college job at her alma mater of Prairie View A&M, she was pulled over for a routine traffic violation (failure to use her turn signal). Everything from that point forward screams racism and foul play, including her death in the Waller County jail Monday.

The first red flag is that Bland was officially arrested on Friday for assaulting a police officer. What we see from a bystander video is her telling the officers she is in pain and cannot hear after her head was slammed on the ground by the male arresting officer. The video is below.

We have now learned that Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith, who made the first public comments about Bland’s in-custody death, was suspended for documented cases of racismwhen he was chief of police in Hempstead, Texas, in 2007. After serving his suspension, more complaints of racism came in, and Smith was actually fired as chief of police in Hempstead:

Council members are reviewing video of four arrests and detentions over the past month. The officers and police chief, who are the targets of the complaints, are white. Some residents are calling for a third of the city’s 15 person police force to be suspended, disciplined, or fired.

Allegations of racism have led to the Hempstead police chief being suspended and ordered to take anger management classes.

The Hempstead city council has been reviewing the case since last week and finally came to a decision at around 2am Tuesday. A number of residents have come forward with claims of racism by at least four white police officers.

The council reviewed the complaints, along with videotapes before making their decision to punish Chief Glen Smith. Some say it wasn’t enough. The chief says he respects the decision.

“My action during the arrest did not meet professionalism as it should with language and I’m not above policy and procedure, no more than any officer of this city,” said Chief Smith.

It would seem that once a law enforcement officer—a chief of police no less—is suspended and then fired for racism and abuse, his ability to serve in law enforcement would cease.

Texas: Trooper in traffic stop violated policy

A trooper who pulled over and later arrested a woman found dead in her jail cell was put on desk duty Friday for violating procedures, the Texas Department of Public Safety said.

Sandra Bland, 28, was arrested July 10, and after spending the weekend in the Waller County jail, she was found hanged in her cell Monday. Harris County’s medical examiner said the death was a suicide, but Bland’s family disputes the finding.

The FBI has joined the Texas Rangers in investigating the circumstances surrounding her death. The state Public Safety Department and Waller County district attorney have requested that the FBI conduct a forensic analysis on video footage from the incident.

In arresting Bland, the trooper “violated the department’s procedures regarding traffic stops and the department’s courtesy policy,” state public safety officials said Friday without specifying what procedures the trooper, whose name has not been released, had violated…

…But Elton Mathis, Waller County district attorney, said Friday that no cameras were in the jail cell where she was found dead. Cameras monitoring the hall outside her cell show no one entered or left it between the time she last spoke with deputies through an intercom system and when her body was discovered

“It appears she had used a trash bag to hang herself from a partition in the ceiling, which was used to give inmates privacy,” said Mathis, who also said Bland seems to have been the only female incarcerated in the jail at the time.

The Texas Commission on Jail Standards cited Waller County jail Thursday for not properly monitoring inmates but wouldn’t say whether its citation is related to Bland’s death. All inmates must be observed once every 60 minutes, and any inmate deemed suicidal must be observed in person every 30 minutes, Executive Director Brandon Wood said.

Smith said Thursday that jailers used an intercom to check on Bland less than an hour before she was found dead.

Sandra was arrested  after being stopped for not properly signalling a lane change – a standard DWB harassment scenario. In the arrest video, she is heard telling the Officers that they had slammed her head to the ground so hard, she couldn’t hear, which would seem to be good reason to have her checked out by a Medical Professional, prior to incarcerating her. In another video being circulated she can be heard telling the Officer to “keep his %**& hands off of her”. Which raises the question of why, for a minor traffic stop, which should have at worst, wound up in a ticket…Was the cop manhandling her?

As usual in every one of these cases, the racist right has gone into full defense mode of the cops, the first step of which is to “dirty up” the image of the victim. You know, the usual – ‘He was a thug”, “He had a rap sheet a mile long”, “He was violent”. Or in this case because the victim is a black woman – “She was mentally ill”, “She resisted arrest”…

Now, I saw the inside of a few jail cells back in the ’60’s demonstrating for Civil Rights or against the Vietnam War…

And for the life of me I don’t remember the sometimes nice, sometime not deputies conveniently leaving a rope over in the corner with a convenient metal bar across the ceiling, or a plastic bag with which the prisoner could suffocate themselves…

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2015 in The New Jim Crow

 

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Progress in Texas – Ivy Taylor Elected Mayor of San Antonio

Mayor of San Antonio, Ivy Taylor

Proving that there is progress…Even in (currently) Republican dominated Texas…

Ivy Taylor Elected Mayor of San Antonio in Runoff

Ivy Taylor has been elected mayor of San Antonio, becoming the first African-American elected to the post.

Taylor, who was appointed interim mayor last summer, defeated former state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte in the runoff election Saturday. Taylor captured the election with nearly 52 percent of the vote.

Taylor said in her victory speech, “The work starts on Monday at City Hall. We come together now as a city.”

Taylor last July was on the San Antonio City Council when fellow members voted to appoint her as mayor to replace Julian Castro. He became secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2015 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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SCUMUS 5 Support New Jim Crow Voting Law in Texas

No surprise here. The most political court in US history has come up with the usual vote to support Jim Crow Voter ID in Texas to assure a Republican victory by disenfranchising more than 600,000 minority voters.

The Supreme Court’s Kleagle – The 5 Thugs in Robes Again interfering in elections just as they did in 2000

 

Supreme Court allows Texas voter ID law for now

Texas election officials can go ahead and enforce a controversial voter identification law opposed by the Obama administration and civil rights groups, the U.S. Supreme Court said early Saturday.

The decision comes just two days before early voting begins in the state.

A civil rights leader reacted harshly to the ruling, calling it an “affront to our democracy.”

“Today’s decision means hundreds of thousands of eligible voters in Texas will be unable to participate in November’s election because Texas has erected an obstacle course designed to discourage voting,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

While the court offered no reasoning for its decision, it backs up a federal appeals court ruling Tuesday saying that voting procedures shouldn’t be upended so close to the election.

That decision came in response to a federal judge’s ruling after a nine-day trial that a Texas law requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls is unconstitutional.

“The Supreme Court has repeatedly instructed courts to consider the importance of preserving the status quo on the eve of an election,” the 5th Circuit court said.

Proponents say the law will help prevent voter fraud. Critics say such practices make it harder for poor, minority and disabled people to vote.

Minority and civil rights groups who banded together to oppose the law said it was among the most restrictive in the nation.

Some 600,000 people in Texas lack state-issued IDs, according to the U.S. Justice Department — which rejected Texas’ law as a violation of the Voting Rights Act.

Nationwide, the NAACP says 25% of African-Americans and 16% of Latinos of voting age lack a current government-issued photo ID.

Saturday’s decision doesn’t speak to the constitutionality of the law — only whether it can be enforced in this fall’s election. Continued legal challenges are a certainty, Ifill said.

While the court’s majority didn’t offer any explanation for the ruling, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a nearly seven-page dissent, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Ginsburg said the costs associated with the law — obtaining identity cards and the documents needed to get them — aren’t as insignificant as backers claim, and argued they harken back to the use of the poll tax in the late 1800s and early 1900s as a method of preventing blacks from voting.

“The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters,” Ginsburg wrote.

The first day of early voting in Texas is Monday. Voters will choose a new governor to replace outgoing Gov. Rick Perry, new lieutenant governor, and new attorney general in addition to voting on one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats and several House districts.

 

America’s disgrace

 

Stand Your Ground to Vote

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2014 in The New Jim Crow

 

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NRA Tea Bagging Gun Nut Cowards of Texas

What kind of man needs to round up 40 of his buddies armed with semi-automatic assault rifles, and machine guns…

To confront a group  of unarmed housewives?

Apparently there are a number of small weenie, no cajone, chickensquats in Dallas, Texas.

Once upon a time the folks in Texas had character – like it or not.  I really don’t understand why the good folks down there haven’t run the yellow-bellied cabrones out of the state on a rail yet.

 

40 Armed Gun Advocates Intimidate Mothers Against Gun Violence In A Restaurant Parking Lot

On Saturday, nearly 40 armed men, women, and children waited outside a Dallas, Texas area restaurant to protest a membership meeting for the state chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a gun safety advocacy group formed in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

According to a spokeswoman for Moms Demand Action (MDA), the moms were inside the Blue Mesa Grill when members of Open Carry Texas (OCT) — an open carry advocacy group — “pull[ed] up in the parking lot and start[ed] getting guns out of their trunks.” The group then waited in the parking lot for the four MDA members to come out. The spokeswoman said that the restaurant manager did not want to call 911, for fear of “inciting a riot” and waited for the gun advocates to leave. The group moved to a nearby Hooters after approximately two hours.

MDA later released a statement calling OCT “gun bullies” who “disagree[d] with our goal of changing America’s gun laws and policies to protect our children and families.” The statement added that the members and restaurant customers were “terrified by what appeared to be an armed ambush.” A member of OCT responded by tweeting, “I guess I’m a #gunbullies #Comeandtakeit.”

This is not the first time that gun advocates have rallied at MDA events. In March, a group of armed men crashed a MDA gun-control rally in Indianapolis. Other gun advocate groups will hold rallies this upcoming December 14th, the anniversary date of the Sandy Hook shooting.

Licensed gun owners are allowed to carry concealed weapons, but Texas is one of six states that prohibits open carry of handguns. Attorney General Greg Abbott, a likely Republican successor for Gov. Rick Perry (R), has vowed topermit concealed handgun owners to display their firearms in public. Four GOP contenders for lieutenant governor similarly hope to put in place open carry laws if elected.

 
 

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Texas Republican Judge Quits Tea/Republican Party “of Bigots”

Hope to see a lot more of this happening around the country…

Texas Republican Judge Switches Party, Denouncing GOP as Party of Bigots and Hate-Mongers

 

A Republican Judge from San Antonio, Texas, has announced he is quitting the GOP and will seek re-election as a Democrat, saying that he can no longer be part of political party whose identity is based on hate, bigotry and destroying people’s lives.

Bexar County Judge Carlo R. Key made his announcement in a YouTube campaign video, where the image shifts between the judge sitting at his bench and screenshots of Republicans—from Sen. Teed Cruz to state politicians—boosting their agenda or career by harming others.

Key’s words speak for themselves. Here’s a transcript, where he ends by urging others who share his moderate temperament and respectful demeanor to join him.

I have tried to live a life of principles. These principles have been shaped by mi familia, my community and my country. In fact, it is my dedication to these principles which has lead me to the law in the first place and has guided me to becoming a judge. These values are simple. I believe that justice demands fairness. It demands careful and intelligent probing of evidence. And above all else, justice can only be served without prejudice toward race, color, creed or whom you choose to love.

These principles have served as the bedrock upon which my rulings have been made. They are also my driving force. That is why I can no longer be a member of the Republican Party. For too long, the Republican Party has been at war with itself. Rational Republican beliefs have given way to character assassination. Pragmatism and principle have been overtaken by pettiness and bigotry. Make no mistake. I have not left the Republican Party. It left me.

I cannot tolerate a political party that demeans Texans based on their sexual orientation, the color of their skin or their ecomonic status. I will not be a member of a party in which hate speech elevates candidates for higher office rather than disqualifying them. I cannot place my name on the ballot for a political party that is proud to destroy the lives of 100s of 1000s of federal workers over the vain attempt to repeal a law that will provide health care to millions of people throughout our country.

That is why I am announcing that I am now running for re-election as a Democratic candidate for County Court of Law 11 in the 2014 elections. My principles have led me to the Democratic Party. I can only hope that more people of principle will follow me. If you believe these values are your values, then I respectfully ask you to join me and let’s work together to keep dignity, fairness and respect for rule of law in our county courts.   

Texas Democrats welcomed the judge’s decision but said they were not surprised by it.

“I’m not surprised,” said Matt Angle, director of the Lone Star Project. “Republican state leaders in Texas have moved so far out of the mainstream. They have become so divisive that fair-minded Texans are turning away. Judge Key is a prominent and respected public official, so his actions appropriately draw attention, but every day I hear from people who formerly supported Republican candidates, but now won’t do it.”

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2013 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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Standing Tall – Texas Senator Wendy Davis

Another Progressive standing up for her beliefs -Texas Democrat Senator Wendy Davis staged an 11 hour filibuster last night bringing the Rethugly Senate to it’s knees in trying to pass the most restrictive anti-abortion legislation in the country…

So…When we’ve got folks with this kind of grit willing to stand up against Rethugly evil…

WTF can’t President Obama and Senator Harry Reid kick some Rethugly ass?

They can start by filling every single Federal Court Judicial vacancy, and dropping the nuclear option on Rethugly intransigence tying up the judicial appointments.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2013 in Domestic terrorism, General

 

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Great Teachers – Presidio, Tx Rocket Club

Been through this little town once – on my way to somewhere else…probably Chihuahua, Mexico or Big Bend Park. It’s about the only settlement bigger than a gas station between El Paso, Texas and Nueveo Laredo about 600 miles away (Texas is BIG, Y’all!). The only reason it sticks in my mind at all is the name similarity to the Presidio in San Francisco.

People are scarce out there!

This one also caught my eye because I, as a kid was also into building rockets…

And what, at least to my viewpoint is one cool teacher!

File this one under – “Save America – Deport a Republican!”

For Texas rocketry club and their inspirational teacher, the sky is just the beginning

Where the Rio Grande and the Rio Conchos meet in west Texas is believed to be the oldest continuously-cultivated land in America. But the most precious crop you’ll find there today is dreams.

CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman went “On the Road” — and met a woman who cultivates them.

In the middle of the Texas desert, on the border with Mexico, there’s a brief break in the cactus called Presidio.

If you’re a kid looking to escape the poverty and isolation of Presidio, there’s really no greater vehicle than the Presidio Rocket Club. In fact, even though it is in one of the poorest school districts in Texas, Presidio probably has more aspiring aeronautical engineers than any other town in America.

And what’s even more amazing than their location is their inspiration — a little firecracker of a science teacher named Shella Condino.

“I wanted to teach the kids: You want something so bad, you put your heart into it,” she said.

Shella started the club five years ago. Never mind that she didn’t speak Spanish and the kids barely spoke English. Never mind that rocket science is rocket science. The fact that it’s hard is part of the reason she thought these kids absolutely had to learn it. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2012 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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