Tag: Department of Justice

President Barack Obama Signs Emmett Till Bill To Reopen Unsolved Civil Rights Cases

President Barack Obama (photo via vibe.com/Getty Images)

article via vibe.com

President Barack Obama signed legislation earlier this month that allows the FBI and the Department of Justice to reopen unsolved civil rights cases. Initially titled Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes, the updated version of this bill now allows both agencies to bring to justice those who committed crimes prior to 1970.

Named after Emmett Till, the 14-year-old boy from Chicago who was taken from his bed in the middle of night, beat and shot by two white men for allegedly whistling at a white woman, the Justice Department is being encouraged to reach out to “activists, advocates and academics working on these issues.”

Other departments who will aid in resolving these cases include the Cold Case Justice Initiative at Syracuse University, Northeastern University School of Law’s Civil Rights and and Restorative Justice Project, The Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project at Emory University.

To read full article, go to: POTUS Signs Emmett Till Bill To Reopen Unsolved Civil Rights Cases

U.S. Department of Justice Petition Gains 500K Signatures, Heads to D.C. to Demand Police Reform

Rashad Robinson, Color of Change executive director, delivers the petition to the Department of Justice on Aug. 3, 2016. (Screenshot courtesy of ColorOfChange.org, via Twitter)

article by Yessenia Funes via colorlines.com

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 ProjectBYP100, 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.

To read full article, go to: DOJ Petition Gains 500K Signatures, Heads to D.C. to Demand Police Reform | Colorlines

U.S. Justice Department Sues Ferguson, Mo., to Force Police Reform

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch ce Department (Photo via newsweek.com)
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch (Photo via newsweek.com)

article by Stephan A. Crockett, Jr. via theroot.com

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Wednesday that the Department of Justice has filed a federal lawsuit against Ferguson, Mo., after the City Council voted Tuesday to change the terms of a deal that would have brought sweeping changes to the city’s embattled Police Department.

“The residents of Ferguson have waited nearly a year for their city to adopt an agreement that would protect their rights and keep them safe,” Lynch said, according to ABC News. “They have waited nearly a year for their Police Department to accept rules that would ensure their constitutional rights. … They have waited decades for justice. They should not be forced to wait any longer.”

The Justice Department launched an investigation into the Ferguson Police Department last year after the shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown by Police Officer Darren Wilson in August 2014. Wilson was not charged in the shooting, but the Justice Department investigation found “systemic and systematic racial bias within the force’s policing practices,” ABC reports.

The findings of the investigation were announced last year, and the city of Ferguson and the Justice Department began negotiations that ABC notes lasted 26 weeks, seeking an agreement that would address the Justice Department’s findings.

In January it was announced that the two sides had reached a tentative agreement that was set to include a complete overhaul of basic policing practices, including “how officers conduct stops, searches and arrests, use their firearms and respond to demonstrations,” among other significant changes, the Associated Press reports.

ABC notes that Ferguson leaders, however, had always balked at the tentative agreement, which they estimated would cost the city $3.7 million during the first year alone.

Gina Prince-Bythewood and Sanaa Lathan Reunite for Racially-Charged Police Shooting TV Project at Fox

Sanaa Lathan
Sanaa Lathan (PHOTO COURTESY OF FOX)

Fox is developing a new event series revolving around a racially-motivated police shooting.  The project hails from “Love & Basketball” writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood and will star Sanaa Lathan, who starred in the 2000 film.

The untitled event series examines the dangerous aftermath of a police shooting when an African-American cop kills a white teen in Tennessee. Lathan (“The Perfect Guy”) will play an expert investigator who digs into the case, alongside a yet-to-be-cast special prosecutor sent to the town by the Department of Justice. The duo must navigate the media attention, public debate and social unrest that accompany such a volatile case, as they seek justice before the divided town erupts into a race war.

The announcement of the project comes amidst of an uproar of recent media attention on racially-motivated police attacks, most notably the Trayvon Martin case, in which the African American teenager was fatally shot by George Zimmerman. The Fox project, however, features a race-flipped scenario with a white teen being killed by a black cop.

Prince-Bythewood, along with Reggie Rock Bythewood, will serve as writers and exec producers on the 20th Century Fox project, which will be directed by Prince-Bythewood. Brian Grazer and Francie Calfo will also exec produce. Prince-Bythewood’s Undisputed Cinema and Imagine Television will also produce.

The event series reunites Lathan and Gina Prince-Bythewood, who worked together “Love & Basketball.” Prince-Bythewood and Bythewood also worked together on “Beyond the Lights.”

article by Elizabeth Wagmeister via Variety.com

Loretta Lynch Confirmed by Senate as United States Attorney General

Loretta Lynch confirmed by Senate as new U.S. Attorney General (Photo via eurweb.com)
Loretta Lynch confirmed by Senate as new U.S. Attorney General (Photo via eurweb.com)

Loretta Lynch was confirmed Thursday as attorney general, the first black woman in American history to hold the country’s top law enforcement post.

The Senate approved Lynch, a federal prosecutor from New York, on a 56-43 vote after an unusually lengthy confirmation delay. President Barack Obama nominated Lynch as the successor to Eric Holder in November.

Lynch’s path to becoming the first African American woman to serve as attorney general was fraught with partisan bickering — fighting that continued on Thursday.  Obama said the Justice Department would benefit from Lynch’s experience as a “a tough, independent, and well-respected prosecutor.”

“Loretta has spent her life fighting for the fair and equal justice that is the foundation of our democracy,” the president said in a statement on Thursday. “As head of the Justice Department, she will oversee a vast portfolio of cases, including counterterrorism and voting rights; public corruption and white-collar crime; judicial recommendations and policy reviews – all of which matter to the lives of every American, and shape the story of our country.”

Holder said he was pleased the Senate recognized “her clear qualifications.”

“I have known and worked closely with Loretta for many years, and I know that she will continue the vital work that this Administration has set in motion and leave her own innovative mark on the Department in which we have both been privileged to serve,” Holder said in a statement. “I am confident that Loretta will be an outstanding Attorney General, a dedicated guardian of the Constitution, and a devoted champion of all those whom the law protects and empowers.”

Continue reading “Loretta Lynch Confirmed by Senate as United States Attorney General”

End Racial Profiling Act 2015: Democratic US Lawmakers Re-Introduce Minority Protections Bill

John Conyers
U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D- Mich., is pictured during a House Judiciary Committee hearing. On Wednesday, Conyers and Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., re-introduced the End Racial Profiling Act in Congress.  (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

Democratic lawmakers are making yet another attempt to pass legislation against racial profiling in local law enforcement. On Wednesday, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., and Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., announced they would re-introduce the End Racial Profiling Act for at least the third time in the last three sessions of Congress. Previous bills have failed to get hearings or clear the Senate and House committees with law enforcement oversight.

The latest measure, coming as tensions rise between police and communities of color amid a wave of police killings of black men, would stop police officers from racially profiling African-Americans and Latinos, as well as Muslims, Sikhs and other minority groups that have long complained of targeting by law enforcement. Last year, the Department of Justice expanded policies that protect racial and religious minorities from profiling by federal law enforcement agencies.

The DOJ rules don’t apply to state, county and local law enforcement; the proposed law would expand on them by requiring states to certify their compliance with policies discouraging racial profiling. The announcement by Cardin and Conyers was welcomed Wednesday by civil rights leaders and activists.

“Racial profiling robs people of their dignity, undermines the integrity of our criminal justice system and instills fear and distrust among members of targeted communities,” Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said in a statement.

Studies have shown how generally ineffective and counter-productive racial profiling has been as a law enforcement tool, Henderson said. Officers can become overly distracted by racial stereotypes and overlook individuals posing serious threats to public security, he said. But despite the evidence of its ineffectiveness, racial profiling expanded after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., in the guise of counterterrorism and immigration enforcement.

Senate and House versions of the law were introduced one day after the “March 2 Justice,” a group of activists against racial profiling and police brutality who walked 250 miles from New York to the U.S. Capitol, arrived in Washington. The group met Wednesday with members of Congress to urge passage of the racial profiling ban.

article by Aaron Morrison via ibtimes.com

2 Ferguson Police Officers Quit & 1 Clerk Is Fired After Racist Emails Are Made Public From Justice Report

Ferguson Police Department
(Photo courtesy Getty Images)

Three Ferguson employees are currently out of jobs after racist emails discovered during the course of the U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation of the city’s racial bias against African-Americans in the police department and judicial system. Capt. Rick Henke and Sgt. William Mudd of the Ferguson police department resigned from the force on Thursday and the city’s top court clerk Mary Ann Twitty was fired earlier in the week once emails showing President Barack Obama as a chimpanzee were found in the DOJ’s investigation.  CNN is reporting several of the employees shared and forwarded the emails but none of them were punished, until now.

Other disgusting emails featured a topless woman dancing in Africa with the caption, “Michelle Obama’s High School Reunion,” was sent Oct. 2011 and in June of that year of a man being described as attempting to place his dogs on welfare due to the animals being “mixed in color, unemployed, lazy can’t speak  English and have no … clue who their Daddies are.” Meanwhile, demands for Police Chief Thomas Jackson’s removal from office were made yet again, after the DOJ cleared ex-cop Darren Wilson who gunned down unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, of federal civil rights charges.There is no evidence which suggest Jackson and other police administrators were aware of the emails.

In the DOJ’s report, it described a “pattern and practice” held by the Ferguson police and courts of discrimination against Blacks. The report revealed black drivers were more than twice as likely than others to be searched during a traffic stop, face excessive force by the police during unnecessary stops.

article by Jillian Bowe via hellobeautiful.com

Demonstrations Across the Country Commemorate Trayvon Martin

(Photo Credit: Monica Almeida/The New York Times)
Thousands of demonstrators gathered in dozens of cities today to mourn Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager shot to death in a confrontation with a neighborhood watch volunteer early last year, and to add their voices to a debate on race that his death has set off. The gatherings began around noon EST at federal buildings across the country.  They came a week after George Zimmerman was acquitted by a court in Florida of Mr. Martin’s killing; days after angry protests erupted in the wake of that verdict; and hours after President Obama said, in a heartfelt address, that “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”

Mr. Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, addressing dozens of people outside the federal courthouse in Miami, said, “I vowed to Trayvon when he was laying in his casket that I would use every ounce of energy in my body to seek justice for him.  

“I will continue to fight for Trayvon until the day I die,” he added. “Not only will I be fighting for Trayvon, I will be fighting for your child as well.”  At a rally in New York, over cries of “We’re all Trayvon Martin,” the Rev. Al Sharpton, one of the organizers of the gatherings, told a crowd of hundreds that Mr. Martin’s death should prompt a movement.  Mr. Sharpton said that he wanted to ensure an aggressive federal investigation of Mr. Zimmerman and fight against Florida’s broad self-defense laws. “Last Saturday we cried,” he said, “but this Saturday we march.”

Continue reading “Demonstrations Across the Country Commemorate Trayvon Martin”

Today, Across the Nation, Vigils Will Call for ‘Justice for Trayvon’

Protester at Trayvon Martin Rally in Los Angeles, 7-17-13 (Photo by Lesa Lakin)
Protester at Trayvon Martin Rally in Los Angeles, 7-17-13 

Ira Acree spent two hours passing out fliers in front of the Dirksen Federal Building in downtown Chicago, hoping to spread the word about a “Justice for Trayvon” vigil at noon Saturday — one of at least 100 planned in cities across the nation.  On the way back to his car, Acree, a pastor, spotted a television in the lobby of the parking garage. A crowd had gathered in front, as if “watching the football game,” Acree said. President Obama was speaking.

In his first comments since a six-woman jury acquitted George Zimmerman of murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, Obama spoke frankly and reflectively, relating his experiences with race and racial profiling. “Trayvon Martin could have been me,” the President said. Obama’s earnest words moved Acree almost to tears.  “I just think that the president’s words may help whites across the nation at least understand us,” Acree said. “And be a little bit more emphathetic toward our actions tomorrow.”  Acree chairs the board of a social justice group in Chicago called the Leader’s Network, which is helping organize Saturday’s vigil.

The 100-city “Justice for Trayvon” vigils, which the RevAl Sharpton announced Tuesday on the steps of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., will be staged mostly at federal court buildings across the country. In California, rallies are scheduled in Los Angeles, Oakland, Palmdale, Riverside, Sacramento, San Francisco and the Monterey County city of Seaside.  Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, and Martin’s brother, Jahvaris, will attend a rally in New York City, along with Sharpton. Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, is attending a vigil in Miami.

With the vigils, organizers are hoping to build momentum for the filing of federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman.  A day after the jury delivered a not-guilty verdict, Sharpton’s civil rights organization, the National Action Network, held a conference call with local organizers.

Continue reading “Today, Across the Nation, Vigils Will Call for ‘Justice for Trayvon’”

GBN Quote of the Day – Attorney General Eric Holder on Combating Stand Your Ground Laws

Attorney General Eric Holder
Attorney General Eric Holder

According to newsone.com, on Sunday Attorney General Eric Holder spoke to the NAACP regarding the Department of Justice’s ongoing inquiry into filing federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman in the aftermath of his acquittal in the Trayvon Martin trial.  Holder may not have been direct about the possibility of the DOJ bringing suit, but he was direct about his opinions on gun violence, inequality and the danger of “Stand Your Ground” Laws:

Today – starting here and now – it’s time to commit ourselves to a respectful, responsible dialogue about issues of justice and equality – so we can meet division and confusion with understanding, with compassion, and ultimately with truth.  It’s time to strengthen our collective resolve to combat gun violence but also time to combat violence involving or directed toward our children – so we can prevent future tragedies. And we must confront the underlying attitudes, mistaken beliefs, and unfortunate stereotypes that serve too often as the basis for police action and private judgments.

Separate and apart from the case that has drawn the nation’s attention, it’s time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods. These laws try to fix something that was never broken. There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if – and the “if” is important – no safe retreat is available.

But we must examine laws that take this further by eliminating the common sense and age-old requirement that people who feel threatened have a duty to retreat, outside their home, if they can do so safely. By allowing and perhaps encouraging violent situations to escalate in public, such laws undermine public safety. The list of resulting tragedies is long and – unfortunately – has victimized too many who are innocent. It is our collective obligation – we must stand our ground – to ensure that our laws reduce violence, and take a hard look at laws that contribute to more violence than they prevent.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
%d bloggers like this: