Tag: Phoenix

Black Lawyers to Challenge Police Brutality in 25 Cities

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – In an effort to combat police brutality in the Black community, the National Bar Association (NBA) recently announced plans to file open records requests in 25 cities to study allegations of police misconduct.

BlackLawyerPamela
National Bar Association President Pamela J. Meanes

Pamela Meanes, president of the Black lawyers and judges group, said the NBA had already been making plans for a nationwide campaign to fight police brutality when Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, a White police officer following a controversial midday confrontation in a Ferguson, Mo.

Meanes called police brutality the new civil rights issue of this era, an issue that disproportionately impacts the Black community.

“If we don’t see this issue and if we don’t at the National Bar Association do the legal things that are necessary to bring this issue to the forefront, then we are not carrying out our mission, which is to protect the civil and political entities of all,” said Meanes.

The NBA, which describes itself as “the nation’s oldest and largest national network of predominantly African-American attorneys and judges,” selected the 25 cities based on their African-American populations and reported incidents of police brutality.

The lawyers group will file open records requests in Birmingham, Ala.; Little Rock, Ark.; Phoenix; Los Angeles; San Jose, Calif., Washington, D.C.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Miami; Atlanta; Chicago; Louisville, Ky.; Baltimore, Md.; Detroit; Mich.; Kansas City, Mo.; St. Louis, Mo.; Charlotte, N.C.; Las Vegas, Nev.; New York City; Cleveland, Ohio; Memphis, Tenn., Philadelphia; Dallas; Houston; San Antonio, Texas, and Milwaukee, Wis.

In a press release about the open records requests, the group said it will not only seek information about “the number of individuals who have been killed, racially profiled, wrongfully arrested and/or injured while pursued or in police custody, but also comprehensive data from crime scenes, including “video and photographic evidence related to any alleged and/or proven misconduct by current or former employees,” as well as background information on officers involved in the incidents.

Not only will the NBA present their findings to the public, but the group also plans to compile its research and forward the data over to the attorney general’s office.

Meanes said the group’s ultimate goal is to have a conversation with Attorney General Eric Holder and to ask, and in some cases, demand he seize police departments or take over or run concurrent investigations.

Meanes said federal law prohibits the Justice Department from going into a police department unless a pattern or history of abuse has been identified.

“The problem is that the information needed for that action is not readily available in a comprehensive way on a consistent basis with the goal of eradicating that abuse,” said Meanes, adding that the open records request is the best way to get that information.

Meanes said that the NBA was concerned that the trust had already brrn broken between the police force and the residents of Ferguson and that the rebellion and the protests would continue.

“We don’t think St. Louis County should investigate this. We don’t think the prosecutor should investigate this. There should be an independent third-party investigating this and that is the federal government,” said Meanes.

Phillip Agnew, executive director of the Dream Defenders, a civil rights group established by young people of color in the aftermath of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black teenager in Sanford, Fla., said law enforcement officials taunted, antagonized and disrespected peaceful protesters who took to the streets of Ferguson and at times incited the violence they attempted to stamp out in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown.

“An occupying force came into the community, they killed someone from the community, and instead of being transparent and doing everything they could do to make sure the community felt whole again, they brought in more police to suppress folks who were exercising their constitutional rights,” said Agnew.“If your protocol results in greater violence, greater anger, and greater disenchantment of the people, you have to chart a different course.”

On the heels of the NBA announcement, Attorney General Holder launched two initiatives designed to calm anxiety and frustration expressed by Ferguson’s Black residents towards the local police department over allegations of misconduct, harassment and discrimination.

The Justice Department also introduced a “Collaborative Reform Initiative” to tackle similar concerns with the St. Louis County Police Department and to improve the relationship between police officers and the communities they serve.

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Robin Roberts to Receive Walter Cronkite Journalism Award for Excellence from ASU

Robin Roberts“Good Morning America’’ co-anchor Robin Roberts will receive the 2014 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism from Arizona State University’s Cronkite School.

The university announced that Roberts will receive the award during an Oct. 6 luncheon in Phoenix, reports the AP. Past winners include Bernard Shaw, Tom Brokaw, Diane Sawyer, Jane Pauley, Brian Williams and Helen Thomas.

Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan says Roberts has made outstanding contributions to journalism and demonstrated great personal courage.

The Mississippi native, a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, faced public battles with breast cancer in 2007 and a bone marrow disorder in 2012. She worked for several radio and television stations and ESPN before being named co-anchor of ABC’s ‘‘Good Morning America’’ in 2005.

article via eurweb.com

Rare Martin Luther King Jr. Speech Found in Arizona, Available for Listening on ASU Website

Martin Luther King Jr
MONTGOMERY, AL – MAY 1956: Civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. relaxes at home in May 1956 in Montgomery, Alabama. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

PHOENIX (AP) — Mary Scanlon had no idea a $3 purchase from a Goodwill store in Phoenix would turn out to be a rare link to the civil rights movement’s most revered leader.  Last April, Scanlon was at the thrift store when she spotted a pile of 35 vintage reel-to-reel tapes, including one labeled with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s name. Despite the moldy and torn packaging, she snapped up all of them. “I didn’t really necessarily have any expectation that this tape would be rare,” Scanlon said.

Arizona State University archivists have found that tape is the only known recording of speeches the slain civil rights leader gave at ASU and at a Phoenix church in June 1964. The hour-long audio has since been digitized and is now available for listening on ASU’s website through June 30.

The tape illustrates that King had been eager to visit supporters in Arizona, a state that would draw criticism more than 20 years later for rescinding the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.  Scanlon, who donated all the tapes to the school, said the find is one of the high points of her life.  “To have anything about myself connected in any way to Martin Luther King, what more could a person ask for? I’m so proud,” Scanlon said.

Rob Spindler, a university archivist and curator, said it’s miraculous that the audio was still intact. When he first spoke with Scanlon, he immediately warned her not to try and play the tape.  “When the material is that old, sometimes you only get one shot to preserve it,” Spindler said.

The tapes were taken from the Ragsdale Mortuary, which was owned by Lincoln Ragsdale, a civil rights leader in Phoenix who died in 1995, Goodwill employees said. Spindler sent the tapes to a company in Kentucky to copy them to a digital format. On May 17, Spindler, Scanlon, a university librarian and two ASU professors who have researched King gathered to listen to the recording for the first time. Hearing King’s voice brought most of them to tears.

“It answers a question we’ve had for decades,” said Spindler, who believes it was King’s first public appearance in Arizona. “What did Martin Luther King say to us that night and how did he arrive here in Phoenix? Now we have a much better idea of those things.”

Arizona was the last stop on a West Coast tour King had been doing, Spindler said. The university and the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People worked to get the preacher to come. About 8,000 people attended the June 3 speech at Goodwin Stadium that started about 8 p.m. In his remarks, King focused on the Civil Rights Act, which at the time was stuck in a filibuster in the U.S. Senate.

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