Tag: Attorney General Loretta Lynch

Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Department of Justice to Start Collecting Data on Deadly Use of Force by Police

Protesters hold signs in front the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department during a demonstration in Charlotte, N.C., Sept. 23, 2016, following the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott by police three days earlier and subsequent unrest in the city.
Protesters at demonstration in Charlotte, NC after Keith Lamont Scott shooting by police. (Nicolas Kamm / GETTY IMAGES)

article by Breanna Edwards via theroot.com

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday that it will begin collecting data on deadly police encounters nationwide, starting early next year, the New York Times reports.

As the report notes, it marks the beginning of the most ambitious effort the federal government has ever made to track police use of force, coming after the nation has been rocked time and time again with the aftermath of such brutal encounters.

As the Times notes, the project will not only collect data on fatal shootings by local, state and federal officers, but will also include data on the deaths that occur in police custody through suicide or natural causes.

“Accurate and comprehensive data on the use of force by law enforcement is essential to an informed and productive discussion about community-police relations,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement. “In the days ahead, the Department of Justice will continue to work alongside our local, state, tribal and federal partners to ensure that we put in place a system to collect data that is comprehensive, useful and responsive to the needs of the communities we serve.”

Read more at the New York Times and the Department of Justice

U.S. Court of Appeals Rejects Strict North Carolina Voting Law Targeting African Americans

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 1.02.04 PM
(Screenshot via nbcnews.com)

article by Zachary Roth via nbcnews.com

A federal appeals court on Friday struck down the heart of a North Carolina voting law seen as the strictest in the nation, finding that Republican lawmakers intentionally discriminated against African-Americans when they passed it.

A divided 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the measure’s provisions “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.”

The ruling is just the latest court win for voting rights advocates. A different federal appeals court ruled this month that Texas’s voter ID law is racially discriminatory and must be softened. And a district court softened Wisconsin’s ID law, too, though that decision is being appealed.

North Carolina Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore said of the ruling, “we can only wonder if the intent is to reopen the door for voter fraud, potentially allowing fellow Democrat politicians like Hillary Clinton and Roy Cooper to steal the election. We will obviously be appealing this politically motivated decision to the Supreme Court.”

The voting law imposed a voter ID requirement, cut early voting opportunities, eliminated same-day voter registration and banned out-of-precinct voting, among other provisions.

The court found that by 2013, African-American registration and turnout rates had reached near parity with those of whites. But weeks after the Supreme Court weakened the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013, Republicans said they planned to enact an “omnibus” voting law.

The court’s ruling continued: “Before enacting that law, the legislature requested data on the use, by race, of a number of voting practices. Upon receipt of the race data, the General Assembly enacted legislation that restricted voting and registration in five different ways, all of which disproportionately affected African-Americans.”

Attorney General Loretta Lynch praised the appeals court’s decision.

“I am pleased that the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has struck down a law that the court described in its ruling as ‘one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history,'” she said. “The ability of Americans to have a voice in the direction of their country — to have a fair and free opportunity to help write the story of this nation – is fundamental to who we are and who we aspire to be.”

To read full article, go to: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/appeals-court-strikes-down-strict-north-carolina-voting-law-n619836

Obama Administration Issues Guidelines to Allow Transgender Access to Public School Bathrooms

(screenshot via cnn.com)
(screenshot via cnn.com)

article by Emanuella Grinberg via cnn.com

(CNN) The Obama administration issued guidance Friday directing public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms matching their gender identity.

A joint letter from the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice went to schools Friday with guidelines to ensure that “transgender students enjoy a supportive and nondiscriminatory school environment,” the Obama administration said Thursday.
 
The announcement comes amid heated debate over transgender rights in schools and public life, which includes a legal standoff between the administration and North Carolina over its controversial House Bill 2. The guidance goes beyond the bathroom issue, touching upon privacy rights, education records and sex-segregated athletics, all but guaranteeing transgender students the right to identify in school as they choose.
 
“There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said. “This guidance gives administrators, teachers and parents the tools they need to protect transgender students from peer harassment and to identify and address unjust school policies.”
 
The letter does not carry the force of law but the message was clear: Fall in line or face loss of federal funding.  Justice and Education Department officials have repeatedly made clear that under their interpretation of Title IX, the federal anti-discrimination law in education, schools receiving federal funds may not discriminate based on a student’s sex, including a student’s transgender status.
“The guidance makes clear that both federal agencies treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX,” the administration said Thursday.
 
LGBT groups praised the announcement, calling it a validation of transgender rights and a repudiation of so-called “bathroom bills” that ban people from using public bathrooms that do not correspond with their biological sex.
 
“These groundbreaking guidelines not only underscore the Obama administration’s position that discriminating against transgender students is flat-out against the law, but they provide public school districts with needed and specific guidance guaranteeing that transgender students should be using facilities consistent with their gender identity,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.
 
“This is a truly significant moment not only for transgender young people but for all young people, sending a message that every student deserves to be treated fairly and supported by their teachers and schools.”
The letter emphasizes the departments’ shared position that schools must treat transgender students the way they want to be treated based on their gender identity, regardless of how others may feel about it.

Mother Emanuel AME Shooting Suspect Dylann Roof Indicted On Federal Hate Crime Charges

Attorney General Loretta Lynch announces federal hate crime charges against Emanuel AME Church shooter Dylan Roof (photo: nytimes.com)
Attorney General Loretta Lynch announces federal hate crime charges against Emanuel AME Church shooter Dylan Roof (photo: nytimes.com)

The man accused of killing nine Black parishioners at the historic Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, S.C. was indicted on federal hate crime charges Wednesday, the New York Times reports.

Dylann Roof, 21, was also indicted on other charges, including killing someone while obstructing religious freedom, a charge eligible for the death penalty.

Roof, who admitted to police he killed the nine people attending a prayer meeting because they were Black, was already facing nine counts of murder in state court, but the Justice Department said “the shooting was so horrific and racially motivated that the federal government must address it,” the Times writes. In fact, as pointed out by Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Wednesday, South Carolina does not have hate crime laws, backing the reasoning for federal charges.

According to the NYT:

A grand jury was expected to return a federal indictment on Wednesday afternoon. It was not immediately clear how that indictment would affect the state prosecution. The Justice Department has the option to delay its case and wait to see how the state case ends before deciding whether to proceed with a second trial. Under federal law, a hate crime does not, by itself, carry a possible death sentence.

Authorities have linked Mr. Roof to a racist Internet manifesto and said he was in contact with white supremacist groups before his attack on the Emanuel A.M.E. Church. He was photographed holding a Confederate flag and a handgun.

“I have no choice,” the manifesto reads. “I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the Internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”

In all, Roof was indicted by a grand jury on 33 federal counts. His tentative trial is set for July 11, 2016.

article via newsone.com

Eric Garner’s Mother Gwen Carr Appears Before Lawmakers, Says Baltimore Riots Should Be A Wake-up Call

Gwen Carr According to Eric Garner’s mother Gwen Carr, the riots going on in Baltimore should serve as a wake-up call to lawmakers in New York that something needs to change.

Carr, along with several relatives of police victims traveled to Albany, New York Tuesday to demand that Governor Andrew Cuomo sign an executive order that would allow special prosecutors to step in to investigate police-related shootings, The New York Daily News reports.

She went on to say that many of the people who are rioting in Baltimore have reached a breaking point and in many ways, they are risking their lives to protect the lives of others who are in danger of being killed off by police in the future.

“It is very sad to see the city burning like that but sometimes people get so frustrated and they say enough is enough,” she said about Baltimore. “It just seems to me just watching it that they’re just laying their lives on the line to protect other people in the future.”

As for lawmakers, Carr had this to say:  “They need to wake up and see what’s really going on,” Carr said. “What caused this to happen? That’s the question they should ask and then correct that.”

Governor Cuomo had initially proposed criminal justice reforms that include appointing a special monitor to review cases involving deadly police encounters but has not gone as far as to allow special prosecutors to step in.

Carr and others, however, did not feel that this would be enough. Following their meeting Tuesday, Alphonso David, counsel to the governor, said that Cuomo promised to approve special prosecutors if the Legislature did not pick up his plan.

“We had a productive meeting, where both the Governor and the families of these victims had a detailed and respectful discussion on how to best reform the criminal justice system,” said David. “The Governor believes that his reform package is a balanced approach that would correct real and perceived inequities that exist within the system and he is intent on passing them in the remaining weeks of the legislative session.”

“He made it clear that if these reforms were not approved by the Legislature, he would sign an order creating a special prosecutor for police-involved fatalities,” David continued.

In a perfect world, lawmakers would have begun paying closer attention to these police-involved killings a long time ago. Hopefully, Governor Cuomo keeps his word and lawmakers across the nation will follow suit.

In other news, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that she will be sending two government officials to Baltimore to meet with faith and community leaders, as well as city officials.

article by Jazmine Denise Rogers via madamenoire.com

President Obama: Police Must Hold Officers Accountable for Wrongdoing

President Barack Obama (Photo via thegrio.com)
President Barack Obama (Photo via thegrio.com)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said the Baltimore riots show that police departments need to hold officers accountable for wrongdoing “instead of just the closing-ranks approach that all too often we see.”

In an interview broadcast Wednesday morning on “The Steve Harvey Morning Show,” Obama said his heart goes out of the Baltimore officers who were injured by rioters. He said there’s no excuse for that kind of violence and Baltimore police showed “appropriate restraint.”

But he said police departments have to build more trust in minority communities by building accountability and transparency.

“It’s in their interest to root out folks who aren’t doing the right thing, to hold accountable people when they do something wrong, instead of just the closing-ranks approach that all too often we see that ends up just feeding greater frustration and ultimately, I think, putting more police officers in danger,” Obama said in the interview taped Tuesday and broadcast on black radio stations nationwide.

Obama said Attorney General Loretta Lynch is reaching out to mayors to let them know what resources are available for retraining police and providing body cameras to hold them accountable. But he said solving the problems is going to require a broader political movement that addresses problems like poor education, drugs, absent fathers and limited job opportunities.

“If all we’re doing is focusing on retraining police but not dealing with some of these underlying issues, then these problems are going to crop up again,” Obama said.

“Unfortunately we’ve seen these police-related killings or deaths too often now,” Obama said. “And obviously everybody is starting to recognize that this is not just an isolated incident in Ferguson or New York, but we’ve got some broader issues.”

“I’ve seen this movie too many times before,” he added.

Asked whether he would visit Baltimore, Obama said he didn’t want to draw resources away from addressing the violence. “Once things have been cleared up, I think there’s going to be a time I go back to Baltimore.”

article by Nedra Pickler via thegrio.com