The New York Police Department must disclose documents and video revealing surveillance of Black Lives Matter protestors at Grand Central Terminal in 2014 and 2015, a judge has ruled. The case, brought by protester James Logue, challenged the NYPD’s denial of a Freedom of Information Law request for information on its monitoring of rallies following the police killings of Eric Garner in Staten Island and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
Logue decided to file the request after suspecting that police were “compiling dossiers” on individuals at the peaceful protest, his attorney David Thompson said. The NYPD had argued that revealing its tactics would interfere with law enforcement work. But Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Manuel Mendez ruled the NYPD could not decline to comply with the law on such “overly broad” grounds.
NYPD authorities “make blanket assertions and fail to particularize or distinguish their surveillance or undercover techniques and records,” Mendez wrote, adding that the department had failed to show why the use of redactions could not protect ongoing investigative work.
The judge noted that the MTA and Metro-North, which also monitored the rallies, responded to Logue’s FOIL request with some paperwork. Mendez ordered the NYPD to comply with Logue’s request within 30 days. He signed the ruling last Monday, though it was made public Wednesday.
Ezell Ford street memorial (photo via latimes.com)
article by Kate Mather and David Zahniser via latimes.com
The Los Angeles City Council agreed Wednesday to pay $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of Ezell Ford, whose 2014 killing by Los Angeles Police Department officers became a local touchstone in the national outcry over police shootings.The settlement comes two weeks after Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey announced she would not criminally charge the two officers who shot Ford during a scuffle in his South L.A. neighborhood.
The Aug. 11, 2014 shooting of Ford, a 25-year-old black man, generated controversy almost immediately. More than two years later, local activists and others use his death as an example in their ongoing criticism over how officers interact with black and Latino residents. Many — including those with the Black Lives Matter movement — still describe the shooting as an unjust killing, continuing to chant Ford’s name along with others killed by police.
Ford, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, was walking near his South L.A. home when two officers assigned to an anti-gang unit tried to stop him. After Ford ignored officers’ commands, authorities said, Officer Sharlton Wampler tried to grab him. He later told investigators he thought the 25-year-old was trying to toss drugs. Authorities said Ford then knocked Wampler to the ground and tried to grab his gun during a scuffle, prompting both Wampler and his partner to shoot.
In a 28-page memo outlining their decision not to charge the officers, prosecutors said Ford’s DNA was found on Wampler’s holster, and bloodstains on the officer’s uniform and scuff marks on his utility belt suggested Ford was on top of him during the struggle. In 2015, the Police Commission concluded that Wampler violated LAPD policy when he fired at Ford. The board said it looked at the “totality of the circumstances” — not just the moment he fired — and faulted the officer’s decision to approach and physically contact Ford.
Ava DuVernay’s “13th” opened the 54th New York Film Festival with a jolt of topical urgency, shaking up tradition as the first documentary to kick off the festival and addressing head-on the issue of mass incarceration and its historical roots. The crowd at the premiere screening rose to its feet when the credits rolled — and then did it a couple more times after that: once when the lights came up on the filmmakers, activists and academics involved in the film, and again when DuVernay appeared for a brief talkback after the movie.
Heightened security measures, a reaction to the Sept. 17 bombing in Chelsea, made the opening the first in recent memory to involve bomb-sniffing dogs and security wands. Famous faces including Oprah Winfrey, Common and Don Lemon turned out for the film, which confronts issues at the forefront of the current political conversation: race, inequality, the fallout of slavery, police brutality and Black Lives Matter.
“This moment, this Black Lives Matter moment, it’s not a moment. It’s a movement,” said DuVernay on the red carpet before the film’s world premiere (in words she would later echo when she addressed the crowd in the theater). “People thought, ‘Oh, will it last?’ Well, it has lasted. It’s changed things. It’s forced candidates to talk about things that they did not talk about in previous elections. It’s opened people’s minds. It’s changed art-making. It’s changed music. People are seeing things through a different filter now.”
On Friday night, cheerleaders for the DeSoto and Cedar Hill high schools’ football teams in Texas knelt during the national anthem before the game between their two schools to protest the treatment of people of color in the United States. What’s more, on Tuesday, the DeSoto girls’ volleyball team took a knee during the national anthem at one of their games as well.
Their actions, and the backlash that followed, didn’t go unnoticed, and Albert Woolum, a white Navy veteran, saw not only the protest but the abuse that the girls suffered and knew he had to act. He found out when the next volleyball game would be and made sure he was there, not only to show his support but also to participate in their protest. During the national anthem, he took a knee, and he spent the entire game in a Black Lives Matter t-shirt.
Woolum later explained his decision to support the girls and their protest: “The decision they made to kneel at their last game, they caught a lot of flak for that. I saw that on the news. I looked when their next game was, and I came to support them to let them know somebody in the white community cares.”
Check out one Twitter reaction, below, and more in the original article:
A cohort of racial justice and civil rights organizations delivered a petition advocating for major police reforms to the Department of Justice this afternoon. With more than 500,000 signatures, the petition urges the White House to defund police departments that reject community-based reforms. It also calls for justice in the fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Color of Change, which led the effort, partnered with Advancement Project, BYP100, the Movement for Black Lives Policy Table, Black Lives Matter and the NAACP for a 2 p.m. press conference.
The petition reads:
Our criminal justice system is not properly holding police accountable. We must defund police departments that employ officers who are quick to kill and condone practices that do not value Black life. Our nation, politicians and many police are in agreement that police departments need reform, however, no one is ensuring this reform happens—and more and more Black people are getting killed because of it.
Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean only Black people think black lives matter. And New York’s Jewish community proved that last Thursday when Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) marched and rallied in the name of BLM in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood.
According to ParkSlopeStoop.com, JFREJ held a successful and peaceful rally “protest police violence against people of color, and demand police accountability through the passage of the City Council’s Right To Know Act.”
Beginning at Jay Z’s formerly-owned Barclay’s Center, Yehudah Webster, JFREJ member and leader of Jews of Color, began a call and response chant on his microphone. “Even though we are angry at the injustice of police brutality,” Webster said, and the crowd responded, “we gather here for love, for lost brothers and sisters, our communities and each other.”
JFREJ explained why they were marching by saying, “Jews say Black Lives Matter not only because we know what it is to be oppressed, but also because police violence against Black people is deeply personal for Black members of the Jewish community.”Take a look at the march moving from Brooklyn to New York’s Bond street below. ParkSlopeStoop.com also reports that while also rallying to let people know Black Jews Matter, protestors also “called for the fair passage of the Right to Know Act, which has two primary components: “Requiring NYPD officers to identify themselves” (Intro 182) and “Protecting New Yorkers against unconstitutional searches” (Intro 541).”