Tag: aggressive police tactics

Street Sandra Bland Stopped On Renamed in Her Honor

Prairie View City Council members in Texas are hoping a road renamed after activist Sandra Bland will serve as a constant reminder of the injustices they say she suffered in Waller County, USA Today reports.

City officials are also hopeful that the road, which leads to Bland’s alma mater, Prairie View A&M University, will also encourage law enforcement to make better choices and always follow best practices when making stops on University Drive, which will become Sandra Bland Parkway for three to five years before the council votes on the matter again.

“I am overwhelmed, and I am just truly thankful to the city of Prairie View,” Geneva Reed-Veal, Bland’s mother, said in a press conference here after the decision to rename the road.

“This is the first step, the very first step,” Reed-Veal said. “There’s still so much more that needs to be done.”

Bland, 28, was stopped on the same road July 10 for allegedly failing to signal a lane change. When Texas state Trooper Brian Encinia felt his power threatened by Bland’s wit and matter-of-fact tone, he arrested her on a charge of assaulting a public servant.

She was found hanging in her jail cell three days after her arrest, a death that has been ruled a suicide but is also being treated like a murder investigation. According to CNN, the Texas Rangers and the FBI are investigating Sandra’s death.

“It is very much too early to make any kind of determination that this was a suicide or a murder because the investigations are not complete,” Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis told reporters. “This is being treated like a murder investigation.”

Mathis said the case would go to a grand jury.

“There are too many questions that still need to be resolved. Ms. Bland’s family does make valid points that she did have a lot of things going on in her life that were good,” Mathis said.

Earlier this month, family members filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against arresting officer Encinia and two guards at the Waller County Jail where Bland died, along with the Texas Department of Public Safety and the county. The New York Times reports that the lawsuit states Encinia made up a reason to arrest Sandra and that jailers failed to react when she refused meals and “had bouts of uncontrollable crying.”

Bland’s family maintains that she never should have been stopped and arrested and they want the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate.

article via blackamericaweb.com

PROTEST: Hundreds Shut Down Decatur, GA For #AnthonyHill, U.S. Veteran Killed By Police

Anthony Hill Protest
Brandon Marshall carries a photo of Anthony Hill as protesters march through the street demonstrating Hill’s shooting death by a police officer, Wednesday, March 11, 2015, in Decatur, Ga. (AP Photo/David Goldman) 

Hundreds took to the streets of Decatur, Georgia yesterday, stopping traffic, chanting and holding signs like “Demilitarize the police” to protest the officer-involved shooting death of Anthony Hill, an unarmed 27-year-old black man in DeKalb County, a suburb of Atlanta.

Protesters, using hashtags like #Antlanta and #AnthonyHill are questioning the use of force against Hill, an Air Force veteran who was naked and unarmed, when he was shot and killed by a white police officer on Monday.

Activists announced the protest with an email asking this very question reports the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

“Anthony was naked and unarmed at the time of the shooting, yet Officer Olsen found him to be enough of a threat to take his life.”

The officer who shot Hill, a seven-year veteran of the force has been identified by police as Robert Olsen, and has been placed on administrative leave, reports Reuters via The Huffington Post.

Hill was shot after he was dealing with what looked to be a mental health issue, said the DeKalb County police Chief Cedric Alexander on Monday. Alexander confirmed that police received a call about a man “acting deranged, knocking on doors, and crawling around on the ground naked.”

After “running towards a responding officer,” Hill was shot twice. Police found no weapon. Almost immediately, Twitter was flooded with the hashtags #AnthonyHill and #BlackLivesMatter.

Ironically, Hill had used the #BlackLivesMatter himself in the days before his death, reports Reuters:

“The key thing to remember is, #blacklivesmatter, ABSOLUTELY, but not moreso than any other life,” Hill wrote on his Facebook page on March 6.

In another post the same day, he said, “No man (or woman) is ever going to stop me from living the life I envision…Empower yourself. Show these kids that #blacklivesmatter by living yours like it does.”

Hill is at least the third African-American man since Friday who was unarmed when shot dead by police. Thousands have been rallying for the last few days in the streets of Madison Wisconsin for 19-year-old Tony Robinson, who was killed by police last week. Aurora, Colorado police confirmed that Naeschylus Vinzant, 37, was unarmed when he was shot and killed with one bullet by police on Friday.

Hill’s shooting investigation went to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in an effort at “transparency.”

article by Angela Bronner Helm via newsone.com

Justice Department Finds Pattern of Police Bias and Excessive Force in Ferguson

04FERGUSONweb-articleLarge
Ferguson, Mo., police officers at a news conference in August. A Justice Department report will force Ferguson officials to either negotiate a settlement with the department or face being sued by it on charges of violating the Constitution. (WHITNEY CURTIS FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES)

WASHINGTON — Police officers in Ferguson, Mo., have routinely violated the constitutional rights of the city’s black residents, the Justice Department has concluded in a scathing report that accuses the officers of using excessive force and making unjustified traffic stops for years.

The Justice Department, which opened its investigation after a white Ferguson police officer shot and killed a black teenager last summer, says the discrimination was fueled in part by racial stereotypes held by city officials. Investigators say the officials made racist jokes about blacks on their city email accounts.

Ferguson is a largely black city with a government and a police force that are mostly white. After the shooting of the teenager, Michael Brown, the city erupted in angry, sometimes violent protests and looting. Since then, Ferguson has been at the center of a national debate over race and policing that has drawn in President Obama, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey.

The report’s findings were summarized by a federal law enforcement official. The full report is expected to be released on Wednesday. A separate report is expected to clear the officer, Darren Wilson, of any civil rights violations in the shooting of Mr. Brown.

Ferguson officials now face the choice of either negotiating a settlement with the Justice Department or potentially being sued by it on charges of violating the Constitution.

In compiling the report, federal investigators conducted hundreds of interviews, reviewed 35,000 pages of police records and analyzed race data compiled for every police stop. They concluded that, over the past two years, African-Americans — who make up about two-thirds of the city’s population — accounted for 85 percent of traffic stops, 90 percent of citations, 93 percent of arrests and 88 percent of cases in which the police used force.

Black motorists were twice as likely as whites to be searched but were less likely to be found in possession of contraband such as drugs or guns.

The findings reinforce what the city’s African-American residents have been saying publicly for the past year: that years of discrimination and mistrust created the volatile environment that erupted after Mr. Brown’s shooting.

article by Matt Apuzzo via nytimes.com

Congressional Staffers Walk Out of U.S. Capitol in Protest of Police Killings

congress walkout

WASHINGTON — Dozens of congressional staffers walked out of their offices Thursday afternoon to show solidarity with demonstrators who are protesting the decisions not to indict police officers who killed Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Just after 3:30 p.m., the staffers stood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol with their hands raised in the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture. In interviews, the staffers said they felt the need to express their support for demonstrators calling for police accountability for officers who take the lives of unarmed black men and women.

“We’re coming out here to let them know, no, it’s not business as usual, our lives matter, we’re asserting our humanity and our dignity,” one congressional staffer told The Huffington Post.

“Even though we go to work in these prestigious buildings among prestigious people, we go home and we’re still profiled, we still are part of those statistics,” the staffer added. “It could have been any one of us who was Eric Garner, who was Mike Brown.”

Most staffers did not speak to the press, and none who did agreed to give their names.

Another staffer said that while there may be longterm changes that come about as a result of the protest movement, it was important to assert that it was wrong to allow police officers to take lives without being held accountable.

“They want to put cameras on police officers, which is a great idea, but the Eric Garner case was seen on live TV; the entire world saw it,” said one young black congressional staffer who participated in the walkout. “President Obama said protests are necessary. This is a necessary protest.”

congress walkout

Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-Texas), who took part in the demonstration, said the protest represented “the best of American democracy.” He said he hoped the effort had bipartisan support, and pointed out that a majority of Americans now support some reforms, like having body cameras on police, even in places “thought to be conservative,” like Texas.

The walkout was planned by the Congressional Black Associates, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Staff Association and the Congressional Hispanic Staff Association.

article by Dana Liebelson and Ryan J. Reilly via huffingtonpost.com

John Legend and Chrissy Teigen Hire Food Trucks to Feed Protesters in New York

Chrissy Teigen and John Legend (ANDREW GOODMAN/GETTY IMAGES)

Despite New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton’s prediction that public demonstrations over the Eric Garner and Ferguson Grand Jury decisions would “peter out,” the protests are still going strong thanks, in part, to a generous contribution from musician John Legend and his wife model and food blogger Chrissy Teigen. The couple purchased a fleet of food trucks to serve up free food to hungry protesters in New York’s Lincoln Square.

Though neither Legend or Teigen is on the ground or taking direct credit for the trucks, Teigen did retweet the following message to her 500,000 followers:

https://twitter.com/ophelporhush/status/541671670797574144

For his part, Legend has let his art do the talking for him. The musician (who was just nominated for several Grammy awards) co-wrote a stirring track from the upcoming (and sadly timely) film Selma about the three Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 which led to to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The track, entitled “Glory,” contains the lyrics: “That’s why Rosa sat on the bus/That’s why we walk through Ferguson with our hands up.”

article by Joanna Robinson via vanityfair.com

Soledad O’Brien’s New “Black in America: Black and Blue” Documentary on Aggressive Police Tactics to Air 11/18 on CNN

Soledad-O’BrienSoledad O’Brien‘s new documentary “Black in America: Black & Blue” premieres Tuesday, November 18 at 9 PM ET on CNN. The new installment of her “Black in America” series touches a hot button issue, in the wake of the Ferguson, MO shooting and riots. The documentary will portray the personal stories of the men affected by aggressive policing tactics, many of whom were able to document the confrontations in shocking videos.

Among the stunning statistics that O’Brien points out, the NYPD reported made more than 5 million stops between 2002 and 2013.  80 percent of those stops were African American or Latino, and 88 percent of the stops did not result in arrests, summons, or evidence of any crime.

“What is so shocking is that this police practice was used around the country – and in some places still is – with the theory that police were stopping criminals,” said O’Brien. “It’s shocking that the city where this was popularized was stopping so many innocent people.”

See the full press release below:

Continue reading “Soledad O’Brien’s New “Black in America: Black and Blue” Documentary on Aggressive Police Tactics to Air 11/18 on CNN”

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