Tag: Justice Department

Issa Rae’s GoFundMe for Alton Sterling’s Children Reaches Over $660,000

Issa Rae (photo via Facebook.com))
Issa Rae (photo via Facebook.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to theurbandaily.com, Issa Rae, star and creator of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl and the upcoming HBO series Insecure, in an effort to take positive action after the police shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana earlier this week, started a scholarship fund for his children.  t not only exceeded its $200,000 goal within hours, it is currently at over three times that amount, at $664,986.

“Can we get a scholarship fund going 4 #AltonSterling’s son/kids?” she tweeted Wednesday (July 6). “Some of us feel helpless when these things happen, but that’s a small step.”

Sterling, a 37-year-old father of five, was fatally shot by police outside of a Louisiana convenience store on Tuesday. A graphic video of the altercation shows Sterling being held on the ground before being shot multiple times in the chest and back. The incident has sparked national protest, and a civil rights investigation has been opened by the Justice Department, the New York Times reports.

If you would still like to donate, go to: https://www.gofundme.com/2d3eze7g

Toyota Must Pay $22 Million for Charging Minorities Higher Interest Rates

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 10.06.00 AMarticle via clutchmagonline.com

The Justice Department and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Tuesday announced a settlement resolving allegations that Torrance-based Toyota Motor Credit Corp. discriminated against black and Asian/Pacific Islander borrowers in auto lending.

Toyota has agreed that it will not increase rates it quotes to car dealers as well as limiting the discretion of its dealers to charge interest rate markups.

The $20 million settlement will provide compensation to those who took out loans from Jan. 2011 up until last month. In addition, the company will also pay $2 million to black and asian borrowers with markup disparities.

“TMCC does not tolerate discrimination of any kind, even perceived or unintentional, from its employees or business partners — this principle extends to fair lending practices,” according to the company.

“While TMCC respectfully disagrees with the agencies’ methodologies to determine whether industry lending practices have been discriminatory, the company shares the agencies’ commitment to ensuring that consumers can count on competitive and fair auto financing options,” the statement continued. “The actions TMCC will take under this agreement are intended to further that commitment.”

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibits such discrimination in all forms of lending, including auto lending.

Chicago Protesters Shut Down Michigan Ave. on Black Friday to Protest Shooting Death of #LaquanMcDonald

ChicagoProtest
Chicago Protest on Black Friday in honor of Laquan McDonald (Photo: Kelly Hayes via Twitter)

Thousands of protesters braved rain and chilly temperatures to flood Chicago’s high-end shopping district Friday to demand justice in the wake of the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald

Tuesday, the city released the heartbreaking video of McDonald’s shooting and announced former Chicago PD officer Jason Van Dyke would be charged with first-degree murder. The timing of the announcement angered many who wondered why it took more than a year to charge Van Dyke given video evidence that he shoot the teen 16 times, 14 of which came while McDonald lay on the ground.

Today, thousands of protesters took to Michigan Avenue, one of Chicago’s premier shopping districts, to demand the mayor, police commissioner, and state’s attorney resign. Continue reading “Chicago Protesters Shut Down Michigan Ave. on Black Friday to Protest Shooting Death of #LaquanMcDonald”

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Offers Law Enforcement Help For Kidnapped Nigerian Girls

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#BringBackOurGirls Protest in Nigeria 5/2014

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is offering law enforcement assistance to help rescue more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, a senior Justice Department source told The Huffington Post on Monday.

Holder has also ordered an intelligence assessment of Boko Haram, which the United States designated as a terrorist organization in November 2013. The group, whose name means “Western education is sin,” receives training from al Qaeda and its affiliates.

“Let me be clear,” Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday during a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo. “The kidnapping of hundreds of children by Boko Haram is an unconscionable crime, and we will do everything possible to support the Nigerian government to return these young women to their homes.”

On April 14, members of Boko Haram invaded a boarding school in Nigeria, pulled 276 girls from their beds and packed them into trucks. At least 53 girls have escaped, while the rest are allegedly being sold as brides to local militants for $12, according to the girls’ relatives.

Abubakar Shekau, a man claiming to be the leader of Boko Haram, took credit for the kidnapping in a video obtained Monday by Agence France-Press and said he is selling the girls as wives to prevent them from receiving a Western education.

“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” Shekau said, according to a CNN translation. “There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women.”

Shekau added, “Girls, you should go and get married.”

The Nigerian government claims to be handling the situation, but weeks after the kidnapping, Nigerian officials appear to be no closer to finding the missing girls. The government’s perceived ineptitude has inspired international protests and the globally trending Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.

“Access to education is a basic right & an unconscionable reason to target innocent girls,” former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote Sunday on Twitter. “We must stand up to terrorism. #BringBackOurGirls.”

The State Department’s annual report on global terrorism, released last week, found that Boko Haram “receives the bulk of its funding from bank robberies and related criminal activities, including extortion and kidnapping for ransoms.” The group has killed thousands of people in Nigeria since 2009, according to the report.

It is unclear whether Nigeria will accept Holder’s offer of help. CNN reported that Nigeria has not yet asked for help from the United States in finding the girls, possibly because they do not want “visible American forces in their country.”

article by Laura Bassett via huffingtonpost.com

 

Attorney General Eric Holder Calls for Ex-Felons to Get Their Voting Rights Back

eric holder

Attorney General Eric Holder called on a group of states Tuesday to restore voting rights to ex-felons, part of a push to fix what he sees as flaws in the criminal justice system that have a disparate impact on racial minorities.

“By perpetuating the stigma and isolation imposed on formerly incarcerated individuals, these laws increase the likelihood they will commit future crimes,” Holder said during a speech at a criminal justice reform event hosted by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights at Georgetown University Law Center on Tuesday. “They undermine the reentry process and defy the principles of accountability and rehabilitation that guide our criminal justice policies. And however well-intentioned current advocates of felony disenfranchisement may be, the reality is that these measures are, at best, profoundly outdated.”

From the Washington Post:

Holder said that current laws forbidding felons from voting make it harder for them to reintegrate into society. He pointed to a recent study, which showed that felons in Florida who were granted the right to vote again had a lower recidivism rate. …

Holder does not have the authority to force states to change their laws, but his request could influence the debate to restore voting rights. His appeal is part of a broader effort currently underway by the Justice Department to reform the criminal justice system, which U.S. officials say often treats minority groups unfairly.

Eleven states currently restrict voting rights after a person has been released from prison and is no longer on probation and parole. These laws affect about 5.8 million Americans. It’s estimated that 2.2 million are black citizens—or nearly one in 13 African-American adults. 

“It is unwise, it is unjust, and it is not in keeping with our democratic values,” Holder said. “These laws deserve to be not only reconsidered, but repealed.”

article via clutchmagonline.com

 

Attorney General Eric Holder Expands Changes in Drug-Case Policy

Attorney General Eric Holder, speaks about the mandatory minimum policy at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 2013 annual legislative conference in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Attorney General Eric Holder, speaks about the mandatory minimum policy at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 2013 annual legislative conference in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department is expanding a major change in federal drug sentencing policy to cover pending drug cases, Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday.  Last month, Holder said certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenders — those without ties to large-scale organizations, gangs or cartels — no longer will be charged with offenses that impose severe mandatory minimum sentences.

Holder said he now has broadened the new policy to cover defendants who have not yet been convicted in drug cases that could involve lengthy mandatory prison sentences. The policy also may be applied, at the discretion of prosecutors, to a defendant who has entered a guilty plea, but has not yet been sentenced.  Mandatory minimum prison sentences, a legacy of the government’s war on drugs, limit the discretion of judges to impose shorter prison terms.  Holder says the government should reserve the most severe prison terms for serious, high-level or violent drug traffickers.

“Some federal drug statutes that mandate inflexible sentences — regardless of the individual conduct at issue in a particular case — do not serve public safety when they’re applied indiscriminately,” Holder told a criminal justice issues forum of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this week, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said that in one case, a first-time offender arrested with less than 2 ounces of cocaine was sentenced to 10 years in prison because of mandatory sentencing guidelines. Paul has drafted legislation along with committee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., that would give judges wider sentencing discretion as one way to relieve prison overcrowding and bring down the exploding costs of operating prisons.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press via thegrio.com

‘Mandatory Minimum’ Sentences to End for Many Non-Violent Drug Offenders

Eric Holder

SAN FRANCISCO — Federal prosecutors will no longer seek long, “mandatory minimum” sentences for many low-level, nonviolent drug offenders, under a major shift in policy aimed at turning around decades of explosive growth in the federal prison population, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. announced today.  The nation’s top law enforcement official called for a “fundamentally new approach” to enforcing drug laws in order to help alleviate prison overcrowding and reduce race-based disparities in drug prosecutions.

“It’s clear – as we come together today – that too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good law enforcement reason. It’s clear, at a basic level, that 20th-century criminal justice solutions are not adequate to overcome our 21st-century challenges,” Holder told the annual meeting of the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates in San Francisco. “And it is well past time to implement common sense changes that will foster safer communities from coast to coast.”

The new policy involves the prosecution of low-level, non-violent drug offenders who have no ties to gangs, cartels or other large-scale organizations. They will be charged with offenses that — like those for most crimes — specify a range of months or years, allowing judges to decide sentence length.  Holder has long argued that mandatory minimums are contributing to the fact that the number of inmates in federal prisons has increased by 800 percent since 1980, far faster than the growth of the U.S. population.

Investigation Finds No Evidence AG Eric Holder Knew Of “Fast and Furious” Gun-Running Sting

 

Attorney General Eric Holder

A long-awaited report on the U.S. government’s controversial gun-trafficking operation known as “Fast and Furious” released Wednesday found no evidence that Attorney General Eric Holder knew of the botched effort to trace the flow of guns to Mexico’s drug cartels prior to its public unraveling in January 2011.  The report by the Justice Department’sInspector General Michael Horowitz said there is “no evidence that … Holder was informed about Operation Fast and Furious, or learned about the tactics employed by ATF in the investigation” before Congress began pressing him for information about it in early 2011. Continue reading “Investigation Finds No Evidence AG Eric Holder Knew Of “Fast and Furious” Gun-Running Sting”

Obama Administration Drops Defense Of Anti-Gay Marriage Law

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a major policy reversal, the Obama administration said Wednesday that it will no longer defend the constitutionality of a federal law banning recognition of same-sex marriage.

Attorney General Eric Holder said President Barack Obama has concluded that the administration cannot defend the federal law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. He noted that the congressional debate during passage of the Defense of Marriage Act “contains numerous expressions reflecting moral disapproval of gays and lesbians and their intimate and family relationships – precisely the kind of stereotype-based thinking and animus the (Constitution’s)Equal Protection Clause is designed to guard against.”

The Justice Department had defended the act in court until now.

“Much of the legal landscape has changed in the 15 years since Congress passed” the Defense of Marriage Act, Holder said in a statement. He noted that the Supreme Court has ruled that laws criminalizing homosexual conduct are unconstitutional and that Congress has repealed the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Holder wrote to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, that Obama has concluded the Defense of Marriage Act fails to meet a rigorous standard under which courts view with suspicion any laws targeting minority groups who have suffered a history of discrimination.

The attorney general said the Justice Department had defended the law in court until now because the government was able to advance reasonable arguments for the law based on a less strict standard.

At a December news conference, in response to a reporters’ question, Obama revealed that his position on gay marriage is “constantly evolving.” He has opposed such marriages and supported instead civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. The president said such civil unions are his baseline — at this point, as he put it.

“This is something that we’re going to continue to debate, and I personally am going to continue to wrestle with going forward,” he said.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.