Judge Rules NYPD Must Disclose Surveillance of Black Lives Matter Protesters Under Freedom of Information Law

NYPD authorities “make blanket assertions and fail to particularize or distinguish their surveillance or undercover techniques and records,” Mendez wrote. (SAM COSTANZA/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

article by Stephen Rex Brown via nydailynews.com

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.

To read more, go to: NYPD must disclose surveillance of Black Lives Matter protesters – NY Daily News

Family Of Eric Garner Gets $1 Million Settlement from Staten Island Hospital

NEW YORK - DECEMBER 3: A protester holds up Garner's photo while walking on the West Side Highway December 3, 2014 in New York. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

A protester holds up Garner’s photo while walking on the West Side Highway December 3, 2014 in New York. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

 

The family of slain Staten Island man Eric Garner received a $1 million settlement from the area hospital that dispatched paramedics to the scene of his fatal encounter with police. In court documents obtained by the Associated Press, the details of the settlement were initially confidential and not part of an earlier settlement the family was awarded last July, reports the news agency.

From the AP:

The settlement with Richmond University Medical Center is confidential and wasn’t part of the $5.9 million agreement announced by the city in July. But the figure was disclosed in court documents filed in Surrogate’s Court on Staten Island that outline how the money will be dispersed to his family. Garner left no will.

The figure is the maximum claim allowed under the hospital center’s liability insurance policy, according to court papers.  The hospital center had no comment on the settlement, according to spokesman William Smith. Garner’s lawyers didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

The court documents highlight that the paramedics did not properly assist Garner after Officer Daniel Pantaleo used a chokehold maneuver to bring the larger man down in the July 2014 incident.

Two paramedics and two emergency medical technicians were suspended without pay but eventually were reinstated and reassigned to jobs that did not involve patient care.

Garner’s widow, Esaw Garner, will get $2.4 million of the total settlement funds according to the court documents. Garner’s children will get monies ranging from $195,000 to $996,000.

To read more, go to:  http://newsone.com/3359172/family-of-eric-garner-gets-1-million-settlement-from-staten-island-hospital/

Ta-Nehisi Coates Receives National Book Award For Nonfiction; Robin Coste Lewis for Poetry

Ta-Nehisi Coates marked another professional triumph Wednesday night by winning the National Book Award for nonfiction for “Between the World and Me,” his timely, bestselling meditation on race in America.

In an acceptance speech that prompted a standing ovation from the black tie-clad crowd at Cipriani Wall Street in New York, Coates dedicated the award to Prince Jones, a Howard University classmate who was killed while unarmed by a police officer and who figures prominently in the memoir, written as a letter to Coates’ teenage son.

As Coates explained, the officer responsible for Jones’ death was never disciplined for the killing.

“I’m a black man in America. I can’t punish that officer. ‘Between the World and Me’ comes out of that place,” said Coates, a national correspondent for the Atlantic who was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship in September.

National Book Award Poetry Winner Robin Coste Lewis (photo via poetry project.org)

National Book Award Poetry Winner Robin Coste Lewis (photo via poetryproject.org)

“We are in this moment where folks are recording everything on their phones. Every day you turn on the TV and you see some sort of violence being directed at black people,” Coates said, alluding to controversial incidents caught on tape, including the death of Eric Garner, the arrest of Sandra Bland and the killing of Walter Scott, an unarmed man shot and killed in South Carolina this year.

“I have waited 15 years for this moment, because when Prince Jones died, there were no cameras, there was nobody looking.”

Robin Coste Lewis was also named a winner last night – she took the poetry prize for her debut collection, “Voyage of the Sable Venus,” a reflection on the black female form throughout history.

article by Meredith Blake via latimes.com

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

Bill from CA Senator Holly Mitchell to Bar Secret Grand Juries in Police Deadly Force Cases Signed into Law by Governor Jerry Brown

Both measures were part of a spate of proposals introduced by lawmakers earlier this year on police accountability; some of the more controversial bills dealing with body-worn cameras or reporting on use-of-force incidents have stalled in the Legislature.

Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) offered the grand juries measure in response to high-profile incidents in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City, where grand juries declined to indict police officers for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, respectively.

Mitchell said her bill, SB 227, would help make judicial proceedings more transparent and accountable. Los Angeles and Santa Clara counties already have opted not to use grand juries when an officer’s actions may have caused someone’s death.

“One doesn’t have to be a lawyer to understand why SB 227 makes sense,” Mitchell said in a statement.  “The use of the criminal grand jury process, and the refusal to indict as occurred in Ferguson and other communities of color, has fostered an atmosphere of suspicion that threatens to compromise our justice system.”

The measure was opposed by law enforcement groups, including the California Assn. of District Attorneys, which argued the grand jury system was a useful prosecutorial tool.

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“Straight Outta Compton” Heading to $40 Million-Plus Opening This Weekend

Photo via slashfilm.com

Photo via slashfilm.com

The reviews so far have been great, Dr. Dre has already dropped his well-received companion album,  and  Variety.com predicts the F. Gary Gray-directed “Straight Outta Compton” is will open to over $40 million on box office receipts this weekend.  Made on a $29 million budget, “Compton” is already looking like the sleeper hit of the summer.

According to thegrio.com, director Gray (“Friday”, “Set It Off”, “The Italian Job”) teamed up with remaining members of the historic west coast rap group, Ice Cube, DJ Yella, Dre and MC Ren, (Eazy-E died in 1995) to tell the ups and downs of their incredible story.  The film, named for the title track on N.W.A.’s 1988 debut album, stars Ice Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Ice Cube), as well as Jason Mitchell (Eazy-E), Corey Hawkins (Dr. Dre), Neil Brown Jr. (DJ Yella) and Aldis Hodge (MC Ren).

A large part of the appeal of the film that is reaching beyond the built-in fanbase of N.W.A. is the timeliness of the subject and subject matter in the wake of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland and continued revelations and exposés of nationwide police brutality and racism.  While “F**k The Police” stirred controversy when initially released, today it can be heard as prescient protest.

When asked how N.W.A. would respond to the social commentary of today, Gray thinks the revolutionary rap group would respond to #BlackLivesMatter similarly to how they reacted to what they were experiencing nearly 30 years ago. “Probably the same way they did back then. They were pretty frustrated. They spoke their mind,” he said.  “They were honest about it, and I think they would respond the same way. ‘Hey listen it’s time to change. It’s time for a change.’”

When it comes to hip-hop artists today, Gary, as well as Ice Cube, DJ Yella and O’Shea Jackson Jr., feel fellow Compton native Kendrick Lamar is truly influential and follows closely in the big footsteps that N.W.A. created.

“It’s hard to duplicate N.W.A., but I like what Kendrick Lamar is doing,” said Gary. “I like what J. Cole is doing. These guys are conscious, and at least I know Kendrick is from the streets of Compton and stuff like that, so they’re authentic. And I think a lot of that comes from the N.W.A. or at least era.”

Straight Outta Compton opens in theaters this Friday, August 14. Check out the trailer below:

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

New York City Agrees to Pay Family of Eric Garner $5.9 Million

Mr. Garner and his wife, Esaw, during a family vacation in 2011. (Photo via nytimes.com)

New York City reached a settlement with the family of Eric Garner on Monday, agreeing to pay $5.9 million to resolve a wrongful death claim over his killing by the police on Staten Island last July, the city comptroller and a lawyer for the family said.

The agreement, reached a few days before the anniversary of Mr. Garner’s death, headed off one legal battle even as a federal inquiry into the killing and several others at the state and local level remain open and could provide a further accounting of how he died.

Still, the settlement was a pivotal moment in a case that has engulfed the city since the afternoon of July 17, 2014, when two officers approached Mr. Garner as he stood unarmed on a sidewalk, and accused him of selling untaxed cigarettes. One of the officers used a chokehold — prohibited by the Police Department — to subdue him, and that was cited by the medical examiner as a cause of Mr. Garner’s death.

The killing of Mr. Garner, 43, followed by the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., in August, set off a national debate about policing actions in minority communities and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.

Mr. Garner’s final words — “I can’t breathe” — repeated 11 times, became a national rallying cry. A Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer who used the chokehold, Daniel Pantaleo, fueled weeks of demonstrations. The protests eased after two police officers in Brooklyn were fatally shot in December by a man who said he acted to avenge Mr. Garner’s death.

The killings of the officers shook the city anew, deepening tensions between the police and Mayor Bill de Blasio and slowing a push to enact a host of criminal justice reforms. Last year, Mr. Garner’s relatives, including his widow, Esaw Garner, and his mother, Gwen Carrfiled a notice of claim— a procedural step that must precede a lawsuit — against the city. In the notice, they said were seeking $75 million in damages. Since then, the family has been in talks with the comptroller’s office.

“Mr. Garner’s death is a touchstone in our city’s history and in the history of the entire nation,” the comptroller, Scott M. Stringer, said in a telephone interview late on Monday. “Financial compensation is certainly not everything, and it can’t bring Mr. Garner back. But it is our way of creating balance and giving a family a certain closure.”

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