FBI To Finally Collect & Publish Info About Police-Involved Fatal Shootings

(Photo via Getty Images)

(Photo via Getty Images)

Responding to long running complaints about the lack of national data available for how often police resort to deadly force, the FBI on Monday announced plans to track and publish the statistics.

The Washington Post reports that FBI Director James B. Comey described the information as vital in the ongoing debate over policing in the United States.

Via the Washington Post:

Continuing “without comprehensive data only stalls meaningful conversation and fuels empty debates, both within law enforcement and in the communities we serve,” [Comey] wrote in a message accompanying the release of the FBI’s crime statistics for 2014.

This is not the first time Comey has criticized the lack of data available regarding how often police officers shoot and kill people. While the federal government does track some fatal police shootings, federal officials have acknowledged that this data is incomplete. Not all agencies in the United States participate in the voluntary reporting system, which had left a considerable gap in the ongoing public discussion.

Earlier this year, Comey joined former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., who called the lack of information about the shootings “unacceptable,” notes the report.

The criticism came after protests against police violence following several high-profile law enforcement-involved deaths of unarmed Blacks, including Eric Garner in New York City, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio, and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

article by Lynette Holloway 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

Loretta Lynch’s #DeltaSigmaTheta Sorority Sisters Came to Support Her Attorney General Confirmation Hearing

Loretta Lynch Howard Sorority Sisters

Congresswoman Alma S. Adams posted this photo on Jan. 28, 2014. “Supporting Greensboro native, Loretta Lynch, in her confirmation hearing for U.S. Attorney General. #NC12” Alma S. Adams (@RepAdams) via Twitter

Women of the storied African-American sorority Delta Sigma Theta flooded a Senate hearing room on Wednesday to support their fellow sorority sister and Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch.

Lynch, who is set to face a tough hearing for the post, started a chapter of the sorority at Harvard with current Attorney General Eric Holder’s wife, Sharon Malone. Though the connection was seen as controversial to members of the right-wing media, her sorority sisters proudly donned the organization’s signature colors—crimson and cream—in the hearing room.

The sorority was founded in 1913 at Washington, D.C.’s Howard University on tenets of empowerment, justice, and community service. Several current and former members of Congress are members, including Reps. Joyce Beatty and Marcia Fudge of Ohio, Rep. Yvette Clark of New York, and former Congresswomen Barbara Jordan and Shirley Chisholm.

Four Years After He Was Killed By Police, DJ Henry’s Memory Is Helping Kids

Angella and Dan Henry. Angella Henry said she works day and night to keep the memory of her son alive through the DJ Henry Dream Fund

Angella and Dan Henry. Angella Henry said she works day and night to keep the memory of her son alive through the DJ Henry Dream Fund (Credit: Phillip Martin / WGBH)

It’s been four years since a college student from Easton was shot to death by a New York police officer. Since then, Trayvon Martin was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer and Michael Brown was killed by a policeman. The controversial killings of these young black men have sparked community outrage and scrutiny of the behavior of law enforcement. For the family of Danroy “DJ” Henry Jr., they still wait for the legal process to play out — but they’re also finding ways to remember their son.

This Wednesday would have been DJ Henry’s 25th birthday. The Boston NAACP says that day they will send a letter to the organization’s national members asking them to press the Justice Department for a full and complete investigation into the Henry shooting.

For all the heartache, for all the lingering questions, this was a night to celebrate DJ Henry’s life, shaped by a love of sports.

“We just ask that you think about tonight, not as giving us money, but as helping children who would love to say yes say yes,” said DJ’s father, Dan Henry. “These young children, their biggest need is to remain children.”

Dan Henry told an audience of 400 at the fourth annual DJ Henry Dream Fund that he could not think of a better way to remember his son than by helping others succeed.

One of those helped is Quincy Omari Picket.

“My mom heard about it and she went and signed up, and I got a scholarship,” said the 10-year old from Brockton. “I was happy. I was surprised. I lost 30 pounds. I lost all that weight. I tried on my suit and didn’t have to buy a new one.”

As DJ’s life was remembered at the annual fundraiser, his death is still hard to reconcile. Henry played football for Pace University in New York. After a homecoming game on Oct. 16, 2010, he and several friends went to a bar to celebrate. DJ was the designated driver. So when the bar closed, he went to get the car.

Idling in a fire lane, he was told by a cop to move on, according to witnesses. He did. What happened next is as unsettling today as it was four years ago.

Continue reading

Cleveland Police Cited for Abuse by U.S. Department of Justice

A memorial for Tamir Rice, shot by the Cleveland police. (TY WRIGHT FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES)

CLEVELAND — The Justice Department announced on Thursday that a nearly two-year civil rights investigation into the Cleveland Police Department had found a pattern of “unreasonable and unnecessary use of force” that resulted in dangerous and reckless behavior by officers, pointing out the kinds of problems that have angered black residents here and touched off demonstrations across the country in recent weeks.

The abuses cited in the report included excessive use of force by the police involving not just firearms, but also less-than-lethal weapons like Tasers, chemical spray and fists, which were sometimes used for retaliation. The report also said the police had used excessive force against mentally ill people and employed tactics that escalated potentially nonviolent encounters into dangerous confrontations.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., in a sign of the Obama administration’s growing concern about contentious police shootings and other use of force — and with demonstrations in New York; Ferguson, Mo.; and elsewhere — traveled to Cleveland on Thursday to announce the findings himself. The city has been roiled by the fatal shooting last month of a 12-year-old African-American boy by a rookie police officer.

“Accountability and legitimacy are essential for communities to trust their police departments,” Mr. Holder said, “and for there to be genuine collaboration between police and the citizens they serve.”

Continue reading

Eric Garner Grand Jury Decision Inspires Massive NY Protest, Feds To Investigate

NEW YORK (AP) — A grand jury cleared a white police officer Wednesday in the videotaped chokehold death of an unarmed black man accused of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, triggering protests in the streets by thousands  of New Yorkers who likened the case to the deadly police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri.

Protest in Philadelphia and other cities nationwide mirrored the response after the decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown. 

As the demonstrations mounted, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said federal authorities would conduct a civil rights investigation into the July 17 death of Eric Garner at the hands of Officer Daniel Pantaleo.

Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan said the grand jury found “no reasonable cause” to bring charges, but unlike the chief prosecutor in the Ferguson case, he gave no details on how the panel arrived at its decision. The grand jury could have considered a range of charges, from reckless endangerment to murder.

Protesters gathered in Times Square and converged on the heavily secured area around the annual Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting with a combination of professional-looking signs and hand-scrawled placards reading, “Black lives matter” and “Fellow white people, wake up.” And in the Staten Island neighborhood where Garner died, people reacted with angry disbelief and chanted, “I can’t breathe!” and “Hands up — don’t choke!”

Continue reading

Attorney General Eric Holder Announces Plan To End Racial Profiling “Once And For All”

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder gestures as he speaks to members of the community during an interfaith service at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Dec. 1 in Atlanta. (David Goldman/Associated Press)

Addressing the state of race and policing relations, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that he plans to introduce new policies that will end racial profiling “once and for all.”

Speaking to a capacity crowd at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where the 1960s civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was a preacher, Holder said he’d lay out specific policy changes in the coming days, but acknowledged that the events in Ferguson, Missouri, had laid bare significant issues regarding policing and race relations.

“The issues raised in Missouri are not unique to that state or small city,” he said.

Tackling those issues would require systemic changes and a commitment at the federal, state, and local levels to change how law enforcement interacts with the public.  “Our police officers cannot be, or be viewed as, an occupying force, disconnected to the communities they serve,” Holder said. “Bonds that have been broken must be restored; bonds that never existed must be created.”

Part of that effort, he added, would be “rigorous new standards and robust safeguards to help end racial profiling once and for all.”

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: