Tag: racial profiling

Starbucks Incident Prompts Philadelphia Police Department to Implement New De-Escalation Policy in Trespass Cases

via philadelphia.cbslocal.com

The Philadelphia Police Department has issued a new policy prompted by the controversial arrests of two black men at a Center City Starbucks in April.

The police department says the new “Defiant Trespass” policy will better guide officers when called to investigate and enforce defiant trespass complaints.

“The department is committed to addressing any concerns about racial bias in the department’s policies and practices. After examining various aspects of the incident that took place at Starbucks coffee shop in Center City on April 12, 2018, department leadership recognized a need for a policy that would better guide officers when called to investigate and enforce defiant trespass complaints,” the department said in press release on Friday.

Under the policy, a person can face the charge of “Defiant Trespass” if, while knowing he or she is not licensed or privileged to do so, the person enters or remains in any place where notice against trespassing has been given by:

  • Being told to leave.
  • Postings that are legal and would likely come to his or her attention.
  • Fencing or other enclosures designed to exclude intruders.
  • Postings at each entrance on a school ground that say unauthorized visitors are prohibited.
  • Being told to leave a school or its grounds by a program official, employee or police officer.

Officers have also been provided with guidance on how to respond to calls related to trespassing on private business property that is open to the public. Police say this will allow police officers, with direction from their supervisors, to use greater discretion in taking actions that are most appropriate for each individual case.

The policy states officers are expected to de-escalate and mediate the disturbance between the owner and the offender before an arrest is made. Depending on the circumstances, police say the charges can range from a summary to a misdemeanor.

The department says they have taken steps to turn the Starbucks incident into a positive learning experience.

“We’ve made a lot of progress and will continue to do so as we explore and implement new practices that reflect the importance of diversity, public safety and accountability,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney called the policy a “positive step.”

“I’m pleased that the Philadelphia Police Department thoroughly reviewed its internal policies and created clearer guidance for police officers responding to calls related to trespassing on private business property that is open to the public. The new policy will allow police officers to use greater discretion in taking actions that are most appropriate for each individual case,” said Kenney. “This can lead to fewer arrests, and, most importantly, will ensure that our officers are not placed in untenable situations at the behest of retailers.”

Trayon Christian, a Teen Racially Profiled At Barneys, Receives $45,000 Settlement

Trayon Christian gets settlement from Barneys
Teen Trayon Christian gets settlement from Barneys after being racially profiled (photo via pix11.com)

Barneys has reached a settlement with a Black teen who was racially profiled in the luxury department store and wrongfully arrested by the NYPD.

Pix11 reports Trayon Christian was awarded $45,000 from the company this week. The incident happened in April 2013, when the then 19-year-old went to the Manhattan location to purchase a $348 Ferragamo belt. Barneys employees allegedly believed he bought the belt with a fraudulent credit card.

Christian was approached by NYPD officers and subjected to a reported “stop-and-frisk” procedure before he was arrested. His attorney, Michael Palillo, claims the NYPD was called by personnel, however police say there were officers already present in the store.

Following Christian’s encounter, Barneys faced intense scrutiny and was fined $525 million for racially profiling Black and Latino shoppers. In Aug. 2014, Christian shared his thoughts on the matter with Pix11:

“The settlement was in the best interest of the city,” a spokesperson for the city law department told PIX11 News.

“It made me feel much better, like [they’re] actually on top of them about something.”

That was Trayon Christian’s reaction to New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s announcement Monday morning that the state had fined Barneys $525 million after investigators found that the store had indeed profiled black and Latino shoppers.

When asked if today’s ruling makes it a little bit easier? Christian said, “Yeah, it does, just a little bit.”

Details regarding Christian’s own lawsuit remain private.

article by Desire Thompson via newsone.com

#CrisisAtIthaca: Students Stage Walkout, Demand Presidential Resignation Over Racism At Ithaca College

Students of Ithaca College stage walkout to protest racism on campus (photo via YouTube)
Students of Ithaca College stage walkout to protest racism on campus (photo via YouTube)

Following the uprising at The University of Missouri at Columbia, over 1,000 students at New York’s Ithaca College staged a walkout Wednesday afternoon demanding the resignation of President Tom Rochon, who students believe has inadequately responded to incidents of racism on campus.

As reported by CNN, students gathered in the quad on Wednesday afternoon chanting “Tom Rochon, No Confidence.” Protesters gave testimonials and speeches before laying on the ground in silence for a 25 “die-in”. The college newspaper, The Ithacan posted a copy of the document passed out by protesters titled “The Case Against Tom Rochon.” In it, students outline several major complaints against Rochon including his “disregard for minority community members” and his “questionable” ethics. The document also sites grievances that span the duration of President Rochon’s seven year tenure and allege that the racial climate at Ithaca has led to “exceptionally low campus morale” and overall student dissatisfaction.

The student run, People of Color at Ithaca College group is urging a student vote of “confidence” or “no confidence” in Rochon by November 30. The college’s faculty council also is seeking a referendum on Rochon.  According to The Ithacan, racial tensions on the campus have been bubbling over the last several weeks with  many faculty members walking out of the Oct. 27 “Addressing Community Action on Racism and Cultural Bias” event with students, also led by People of Color at Ithaca College.

Several of the inciting incidents at Ithaca include a “Preps” or “Crooks” party that encouraged students who wanted to participate at “Crooks” to dress in a “thuggish” style with “bling.” The party was canceled following student complaints. This followed an earlier panel event where a Black female was student was referred to as a “savage” by alumni panelist. That followed a protest in September against racial profiling by campus police officers.

“In general, the college cannot prevent the use of hurtful language on campus. Such language, intentional or unintentional, exists in the world and will seep into our community. We can’t promise that the college will never host a speaker who could say something racist, homophobic, misogynistic or otherwise disrespectful.” Rochon said in a statement to the posted on the Ithaca College website in October. He adds, “Even so, we reaffirm our commitment to making our campus an inclusive and respectful community,”

A vote of no confidence would not force Rochon to step down, although students and faculty are hoping it will force the Board of Trustees to take action.

Chair of the Ithaca College Board of Trustees, Tom Grape, issued a statement on Wednesday. In it, he validates student concerns but does not indicate any intention of removing Rochon. Full statement below:

It is not easy to see the IC community that I love going through such a difficult time—to see so many of our students recounting experiences that leave them feeling fear, pain, and alienation at a time in their lives when they should instead be feeling welcomed, supported, and inspired.

I respect that many of our students and faculty are choosing to express their concerns about Ithaca College’s climate and direction though their public discussions and their votes. The board members and I remain committed, as always, to making decisions that take into consideration the input we receive from the college’s executive leadership, as well as the voices of faculty, students, staff, parents, and alumni.

Tough times bring out the true character of a community. I hope that we will continue to see these conversations maintain the standard of mutual respect, a commitment to truth, and an assumption that human beings must seek connection and common ground in order to make a difference.

The most vital role of the Board of Trustees is to ensure that Ithaca College has the best possible leadership and the strongest possible resources to ensure its short-term and long-term health. Board members and I are in contact on a daily basis with the president and other campus leaders about the issues that are taking place, and I am committed to helping the institution address its problems so that we may become the Ithaca College that we all know we can be.

We understand that the issues are serious and significant, and we are listening. I am certain that Ithaca College will emerge from this chapter stronger and more resolute in its direction forward, and the board and I are actively partnering with Tom Rochon and other campus leaders to make sure that happen. – Tom Grape, Chair of Ithaca College, Board of Trustees

President Tom Rochon announced the new chief diversity officer position on Nov. 10. Wednesday, Roger Richardson, associate provost for diversity, inclusion and engagement was appointed as interim while a national search is conducted to fill the position.

article by Leigh Davenport via hellobeautiful.com

Black Parole Officers Sue Police Department After Being Racially Profiled By White Cops

Police
(Photo Source: JEWEL SAMAD / Getty)

Four NYPD parole officers have filed a civil lawsuit against the Ramapo Police Department after claiming they were racially profiled during a recent traffic stop, CNN reports.  The officers were stopped on April 21 while attempting to carry out an arrest warrant and wearing their badges, bulletproof vests, and a placard on their truck’s dashboard.

The force claims they received a 911 call about “four big people” with “bulletproof vests on” riding in an unmarked car. According to CNN:

Mario Alexandre and his colleagues — Sheila Penister, Annette Thomas-Prince and Samuel Washington — are all black New York State Parole officers. The parole officers have filed a civil lawsuit, alleging that they were racially profiled by the white officers and that their detainment was unnecessarily malicious and reckless.

In addition to being punched by a lieutenant, Alexandre says he showed his badge but was ignored by the rest of the officers.

Penister said that when she attempted to show her New York State ID to a police sergeant, he “became enraged and approached her in a threatening manner with his hand held on the butt of his gun,” court documents state. When all parole officers were identified, they allege they were still forcibly detained and not permitted to leave.

Penister later told reporters she still suffers anxiety towards other officers. All of the parole officers have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Ramapo Town Assistant Attorney Dennis Lynch says the police officers acted accordingly.

Lynch said called the actions of the police officers “reasonable under the circumstances” and that the “parole officers had not notified the town that they would be in town.”

The officers have not been placed on suspension, despite demands from the victims.

article by Desire Thompson via newsone.com

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

Attorney General Eric Holder Announces Plan To End Racial Profiling “Once And For All”

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder gestures as he speaks to members of the community during an interfaith service at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Dec. 1 in Atlanta. (David Goldman/Associated Press)

Addressing the state of race and policing relations, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that he plans to introduce new policies that will end racial profiling “once and for all.”

Speaking to a capacity crowd at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where the 1960s civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was a preacher, Holder said he’d lay out specific policy changes in the coming days, but acknowledged that the events in Ferguson, Missouri, had laid bare significant issues regarding policing and race relations.

“The issues raised in Missouri are not unique to that state or small city,” he said.

Tackling those issues would require systemic changes and a commitment at the federal, state, and local levels to change how law enforcement interacts with the public.  “Our police officers cannot be, or be viewed as, an occupying force, disconnected to the communities they serve,” Holder said. “Bonds that have been broken must be restored; bonds that never existed must be created.”

Part of that effort, he added, would be “rigorous new standards and robust safeguards to help end racial profiling once and for all.”

Continue reading “Attorney General Eric Holder Announces Plan To End Racial Profiling “Once And For All””

Macy’s Settles Racial Profiling Probe With New York State for $650,000

176518936-sign-hangs-above-macys-in-the-magnificent-mile-shopping
(SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES)

Macy’s is coughing up $650,000 to settle accusations of racial profiling against its store in New York City’s Herald Square, the Associated Press reports.

The retail giant signed on to an agreement on Tuesday with the attorney general of New York. Macy’s agrees to adopt new policies against profiling, train its employees, treat customer complaints seriously and better record any detentions made, the newswire reports.

Macy’s is also required to post a “customer’s bill of rights” in English and Spanish in all of its stores in the state as well as on its website.

“It is absolutely unacceptable—and it’s illegal—for anyone in New York to be treated like a criminal simply because of the color of their skin,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in light of the settlement.

According to AP, the investigation into the store’s treatments of its customers of color began in February 2013, following several complaints from black and Latino customers, among others. Some of the complaints dated back as far as 2007, detailing customers’ claims they were detained at the stores even though they had not stolen or tried to steal anything.

Some customers who were not fluent in English were not allowed to make phone calls, were denied an interpreter and were made to sign trespass notices that they did not understand, AP notes.

“To be clear, our company’s policies strictly prohibit any form of discrimination or racial profiling, and any occurrence of such behavior will not be tolerated in our organization,” Macy’s reiterated in its own statement. “Moving forward, our company will be initiating a series of measures including enhanced training and education for our loss prevention and sales associates. We also will be adopting an expanded role for our security monitor to help ensure that we have the right policies and procedures in place, and that we are constantly reviewing our compliance with them.”

This news comes shortly after luxury retailer Barneys New York agreed to a settlement, this time for $525,000, to deal with its own accusations of racial profiling.

Read more at ABC News.

article by Breanna Edwards via theroot.com

Barneys Agrees to Pay $525,000 to Settle Racial Profiling Allegations after Civil Rights Review

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi
(Photo Credit: CHRISTIE M FARRIELLA/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Barneys New York has agreed to pay $525,000 to settle allegations that the upscale retailer deliberately targeted minorities entering its Madison Ave. flagship store.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s investigators heard from customers and former employees that a pattern of racial profiling began last year when the high-end store tried to crack down on a dramatic spike in shoplifting and credit card fraud.

Complainants told Schneiderman’s civil rights division that the store’s security team — known as the “loss prevention unit” — made a habit of keeping watch over black and Hispanic shoppers in disproportionate numbers.

“This agreement will correct a number of wrongs,” said Schneiderman, “both by fixing past policies and by monitoring the actions of Barneys and its employees to make sure that past mistakes are not repeated.”

Trayon Christian, 19, says he was accused of fraud after buying a $349 Ferragano belt at Barneys in April 2013.
Trayon Christian, 19, says he was accused of fraud after buying a $349 Ferragano belt at Barneys in April 2013. (Aaron Showalter/New York Daily News)
Kayla Phillips, 21, was accused  of credit card fraud after buying a $2,500 Celine bag February 2013.
Kayla Phillips, 21, was accused  of credit card fraud after buying a $2,500 Celine bag February 2013.

In a 27-page settlement document signed by both parties Friday, Schneiderman released a series of findings from a nine-month review based on interviews with nearly a dozen complainants in the so-called shop-and-frisk case, including shoppers and former employees.

They alleged that black and Hispanic customers were unfairly targeted when they entered the pricey store at 660 Madison Ave.

The store’s own data showed that from October 2012 through October 2013, black and Hispanic shoppers were detained “at rates far greater than their percentage of the store’s customer base.”

The review began this past October in response to a series of Daily News articles exposing numerous complaints about racial profiling at Barneys and Macy’s.

Schneiderman’s review of Macy’s continues, but Barneys executives last week agreed to the settlement.

As part of the deal, Barneys agreed to pay the $525,000 in fines and legal expenses, to hire an “anti-profiling consultant” for two years, to update its detention policy and to improve training of security and sales personnel.

article by Greg A. Smith via nydailynews.com

Sybrina Fulton Speaks Out Against Stop-And-Frisk Policies (VIDEO)

Sybrina FultonThe mother of Trayvon Martin spoke out Sunday against the stop-and-frisk police practice in New York City, saying neither police nor civilians have the right to stop someone because of their race.  Critics say the stops target blacks and Hispanics who aren’t doing anything wrong. Earlier this week, a judge told New York City that its policy was racial discrimination. The city plans to appeal.  “You can’t give people the authority, whether civilian or police officers the right to just stop somebody because of the color of their skin,” Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton said on NBC’s Meet the Press.

Over the past decade, New York police have stopped, questioned and sometimes patted down about 5 million people; 87 percent were black or Hispanic. About 10 percent of the stops spur an arrest or summons. Police find weapons a fraction of the time.  New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly defended the use of stop and frisk Sunday and said violent crimes would increase if the practice were abandoned.  “The losers in this, if this case is allowed to stand, are people who live in minority communities,” he said on CBS’ Face the Nation.

Fulton’s attorney, Benjamin Crump, said the stop and frisk policy targeted people by race and noted it was still being used as the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech approached.  “It actually takes us away from his poignant words of, ‘I dreamed my children would be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin,’” Crump said.  Fulton has said neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman “got away with murder” in the 2012 killing of her son, largely because of Florida’s self-defense law.

Protesters had been occupying part of the Capitol in Tallahassee, calling for an examination of the Florida law since Zimmerman was acquitted last month. Zimmerman claimed self-defense in shooting the 17-year-old Martin during a fight; Martin’s supporters say Zimmerman profiled and followed him because Martin was black.

article by Associated Press via blackamericaweb.com

New York City’s Stop-and-Frisk Practice Violated Rights of Minorities, Judge Rules

Leroy Downes, a plaintiff in the stop-and-frisk trial, spoke at a news conference after a federal judge ruled that the practice violated the rights of minorities. (Ruth Fremson/The New York Times)

In a repudiation of a major element in the Bloomberg administration’s crime-fighting legacy, a federal judge has found that the stop-and-frisk tactics of the New York Police Department violated the constitutional rights of minorities in New York, and called for a federal monitor to oversee broad reforms.  In a blistering decision issued on Monday, the judge, Shira A. Scheindlin, found that the Police Department had “adopted a policy of indirect racial profiling” that targeted young minority men for stops. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said the city would appeal the ruling, angrily accusing the judge of deliberately not giving the city “a fair trial.”

The mayor cited the benefits of stop-and-frisk, crediting the tactic for making the city safer and for ridding the streets of thousands of illegal guns.  But in her ruling, Judge Scheindlin found that in doing so, the police systematically stopped innocent people in the street without any objective reason to suspect them of wrongdoing.  The stops, which soared in number over the last decade as crime continued to decline, demonstrated a widespread disregard for the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, as well as the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, according to the 195-page decision.

Judge Scheindlin’s criticism extended beyond the conduct of police officers; in holding the city liable for a battery of constitutional violations, the judge found that top police officials acted with deliberate indifference. She said that police commanders were content to dismiss allegations of racial profiling as “a myth created by the media.”  Citing statements by the mayor and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, Judge Scheindlin accused the city of using stop-and-frisk as a checkpoint-style policing tactic, with the intent of deterring minorities from carrying guns on the street.

“I also conclude that the city’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner,” she wrote.  The judge designated an outside lawyer, Peter L. Zimroth, to monitor the Police Department’s compliance with the Constitution.

Judge Scheindlin also ordered a number of other remedies, including a pilot program in which officers in at least five precincts across the city will wear body-worn cameras in an effort to record street encounters. She also ordered a “joint remedial process” — in essence, a series of community meetings — to solicit public input on how to reform stop-and-frisk.

Continue reading “New York City’s Stop-and-Frisk Practice Violated Rights of Minorities, Judge Rules”