Tag: US Justice Department

Justice Department Finds Pattern of Police Bias and Excessive Force in Ferguson

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Ferguson, Mo., police officers at a news conference in August. A Justice Department report will force Ferguson officials to either negotiate a settlement with the department or face being sued by it on charges of violating the Constitution. (WHITNEY CURTIS FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES)

WASHINGTON — Police officers in Ferguson, Mo., have routinely violated the constitutional rights of the city’s black residents, the Justice Department has concluded in a scathing report that accuses the officers of using excessive force and making unjustified traffic stops for years.

The Justice Department, which opened its investigation after a white Ferguson police officer shot and killed a black teenager last summer, says the discrimination was fueled in part by racial stereotypes held by city officials. Investigators say the officials made racist jokes about blacks on their city email accounts.

Ferguson is a largely black city with a government and a police force that are mostly white. After the shooting of the teenager, Michael Brown, the city erupted in angry, sometimes violent protests and looting. Since then, Ferguson has been at the center of a national debate over race and policing that has drawn in President Obama, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey.

The report’s findings were summarized by a federal law enforcement official. The full report is expected to be released on Wednesday. A separate report is expected to clear the officer, Darren Wilson, of any civil rights violations in the shooting of Mr. Brown.

Ferguson officials now face the choice of either negotiating a settlement with the Justice Department or potentially being sued by it on charges of violating the Constitution.

In compiling the report, federal investigators conducted hundreds of interviews, reviewed 35,000 pages of police records and analyzed race data compiled for every police stop. They concluded that, over the past two years, African-Americans — who make up about two-thirds of the city’s population — accounted for 85 percent of traffic stops, 90 percent of citations, 93 percent of arrests and 88 percent of cases in which the police used force.

Black motorists were twice as likely as whites to be searched but were less likely to be found in possession of contraband such as drugs or guns.

The findings reinforce what the city’s African-American residents have been saying publicly for the past year: that years of discrimination and mistrust created the volatile environment that erupted after Mr. Brown’s shooting.

article by Matt Apuzzo via nytimes.com

Legal Recreational Pot Industry Opens in Colorado

ptionEmployees help customers at the crowded sales counter inside Medicine Man marijuana retail store, which opened as a legal recreational retail outlet in Denver on Wednesday Jan. 1, 2014. Colorado began retail marijuana sales on Jan. 1, a day some are calling "Green Wednesday." (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Employees help customers at the crowded sales counter inside Medicine Man marijuana retail store, which opened as a legal recreational retail outlet in Denver on Wednesday Jan. 1, 2014. Colorado began retail marijuana sales on Jan. 1, a day some are calling “Green Wednesday.” (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

DENVER (AP) — Crowds were serenaded by live music as they waited for the nation’s first legal recreational pot shops to open. They ate doughnuts and funnel cakes as a glass-blower made smoking pipes. Some tourists even rode around in a limo, eager to try weed but not so eager to be seen buying it.  And when the sales began, those who bought the drug emerged from the stores, receipt held high and carrying sealed shopping bags, to cheers.

“I’m going to frame the receipt when I go home, to remind myself of what might be possible: Legal everywhere,” musician James Aaron Ramsey, 28, who did some time in jail for pot possession in Missouri and played folk tunes with his guitar for those in line.  Activists hope he’s right, and that the experiment in Colorado will prove to be a better alternative to the costly American-led drug war, produce the kind of revenue that state officials hope and save the government costs in locking up drug offenders.

Just on the first day, prices had already risen to more than $500 an ounce, but it’s too soon to say whether that will hold.  Washington state will open its pot industry later this year. Both states programs will be watched closely not just by officials in other states, but by activists and governments in other countries because the industries will be the first to regulate the production and sale of the drug.

Continue reading “Legal Recreational Pot Industry Opens in Colorado”

Parents of Trayvon Martin to Join Saturday Vigils

In this image released by NBC, parents of Trayvon Martin, Sybrina Fulton, left, and Tracy Martin appear on the "Today" show in New York. Martin's parents plan to participate in separate vigils Saturday. Sabrina Fulton and her other son Jahvaris Fulton, will join Al Sharpton outside New York Police Department headquarters while Tracy Martin is set to be at a similar event at a federal courthouse in Miami. (AP Photo/NBC, Peter Kramer)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Trayvon Martin’s parents plan to participate in separate vigils Saturday.  Martin’s mother and her son, Sybrina and Jahvaris Fulton, will join Al Sharpton outside New York Police Department headquarters.  Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, is set to be at a similar event at a federal courthouse in Miami.  Sharpton’s National Action Network is planning rallies in 100 cities to press for federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman.  The Justice Department is investigating whether Zimmerman violated Martin’s civil rights when he shot the 17-year-old during a confrontation last year in Sanford, Fla.  Zimmerman says he fired in self-defense.  He was acquitted last Saturday of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges.

article by Shaquille Brewster, AP via yahoonews.com

Justice Department To Review George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin Case

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WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 25: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder makes a statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act at the Justice Department on June 25, 2013 in Washington, DC. The high court ruled that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which aimed at protecting minority voters, is unconstitutional (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department says it is looking into the shooting death of Trayvon Martin to determine whether federal prosecutors should file criminal civil rights charges now that George Zimmerman has been acquitted in the state case. The department opened an investigation into Martin’s death last year but stepped aside to allow the state prosecution to proceed.

In a statement Sunday, the Justice Department said the criminal section of the civil rights division, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Middle District of Florida are continuing to evaluate the evidence generated during the federal probe, in addition to the evidence and testimony from the state trial.  The statement said that, in the government’s words, “experienced federal prosecutors will determine whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation.”

article via huffingtonpost.com

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
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