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  1. #21
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    Jan 2007


    One-Third of the World's Women in Prison Are Locked Up In The USA. All 201,200 Of Them

    October 14, 2014 "ICH" - "Mic" - Forbes recently published a map charting the largest female prison populations in the world:

    Source: Niall McCarthy/Statista

    As you can see, it's not even close. Citing data from the International Center for Prison Studies, Niall McCarthy of Statista visualizes how the United States housed nearly one-third of the globe's incarcerated women in 2013. It's a huge problem the American public has only begun to recognize.

    The context: Recently, discussions around the rise of mass incarceration have focused largely on men, most notably, black men. Illustrating this is how 1 in 10 black American males is in prison on a given day, while black men remain nearly six times as likely to be imprisoned in their lifetime than their white peers.

    While those figures are staggering, they're also part of a much larger story. Considering that its total prison population grew by 500% in the past 30 years, it might seem unsurprising that America locks up so many women compared with the rest of the world. But there's another problem: Growth in the number of female prisoners was nearly 1.5 times that of men for this period.

    The reasons: According to the Sentencing Project, the war on drugs is the biggest factor behind why more women are being imprisoned today than ever before.

    For one, they've always been more likely to get locked up for drug-related charges: By 2009, 25.7% of women were in jail on drug offenses versus 17.2% of men.

    At the same time, the dynamics of this growth have undergone a major shift. During the 1980s, harsh (and racist) sentencing policies made black women the primary female casualties of the crack epidemic, including those most often imprisoned. Not so much since 2000: The prevalence of methamphetamine in America's heartland has sparked a 48.4% rise in the number of white women imprisoned over the past decade, compared with a 24.6% decline in the number of black women.

    A prime microcosm is the state of Oklahoma, which houses both the highest volume of meth labs in the country and the highest per capita female incarceration rate in the world, according to Brave New Films. Between 2000 and 2008, 34% of incarcerated women nationwide were locked up on meth charges, while 80% were there for non-violent offenses.

    The results: In any case, the social costs of this rise have been uniquely devastating.

    Brave New Films recently aired an educational short that claimed the following: Not only are a significant percentage of women pregnant when imprisoned, more than 70% are also the primary caregivers of at least two minors. This spells disaster for many families, as children of the incarcerated are systematically dumped into the notoriously problematic foster care system, or "other [similarly] unstable situations."

    On top of which, children of incarcerated parents are five times more likely than their peers to commit crimes.

    Video: http://youtu.be/TjGoekJfrgY

    It gets worse: In terms of the women themselves, female inmates face both higher rates of sexual abuse, mental illness (73% versus 55% for men) and chronic or communicable medical problems (59% versus 43% for men) than their male counterparts, the Sentencing Project reports.

    According to Newsworks, the hiring discrimination that ex-convicts face when looking for work may also be especially pronounced for women. A 2010 Arizona State University study found that 57% of the 50 employers they polled would have called back hypothetical male applicants with a criminal record, but when it came to women with the exact same record, that number dropped to 30%.
    A global crisis: Yet perhaps the biggest revelation about the roots of America's female prison boom comes when you compare it to other countries.

    Specifically, in most nations with comparatively large numbers of incarcerated women, as conveyed in McCarthy's map, they are generally being punished for the same reasons. Thailand, which has the largest percentage of female prisoners (14.6%) in the world relative to its male prisoner population, as well as Brazil, Mexico, Russia and others, boast an overwhelming number of women imprisoned on (wait for it) drug-related charges — just like in the United States.

    So: While the U.S. jails women at relatively staggering rates, it seems the problem leading them there most frequently is the same, or at least similar, around the world. And since prison has repeatedly proven itself to be one of the least cost-effective and socially constructive ways of preventing crime, it follows that a massive reevaluation of global drug policy is in order.


  2. #22
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    Being a cop showed me just how racist and violent the police are. There’s only one fix.

    As a kid, I got used to being stopped by the police. I grew up in an inner-ring suburb of St. Louis. It was the kind of place where officers routinely roughed up my friends and family for no good reason.

    I hated the way cops treated me.

    But I knew police weren’t all bad. One of my father’s closest friends was a cop. He became a mentor to me and encouraged me to join the force. He told me that I could use the police’s power and resources to help my community.

    So in 1994, I joined the St. Louis Police Department. I quickly realized how naive I’d been. I was floored by the dysfunctional culture I encountered.

    I won’t say all, but many of my peers were deeply racist.

    One example: A couple of officers ran a Web site called St. Louis Coptalk, where officers could post about their experience and opinions. At some point during my career, it became so full of racist rants that the site administrator temporarily shut it down. Cops routinely called anyone of color a “thug,” whether they were the victim or just a bystander.

    This attitude corrodes the way policing is done.

    As a cop, it shouldn’t surprise you that people will curse at you, or be disappointed by your arrival. That’s part of the job. But too many times, officers saw young black and brown men as targets. They would respond with force to even minor offenses. And because cops are rarely held accountable for their actions, they didn’t think too hard about the consequences.

    Once, I accompanied an officer on a call. At one home, a teenage boy answered the door. That officer accused him of harboring a robbery suspect, and demanded that he let her inside. When he refused, the officer yanked him onto the porch by his throat and began punching him.

    Another officer met us and told the boy to stand. He replied that he couldn’t. So the officer slammed him against the house and cuffed him. When the boy again said he couldn’t walk, the officer grabbed him by his ankles and dragged him to the car. It turned out the boy had been on crutches when he answered the door, and couldn’t walk.

    Back at the department, I complained to the sergeant. I wanted to report the misconduct. But my manager squashed the whole thing and told me to get back to work.

    I, too, have faced mortal danger. I’ve been shot at and attacked. But I know it’s almost always possible to defuse a situation.

    Once, a sergeant and I got a call about someone wielding a weapon in an apartment. When we showed up, we found someone sitting on the bed with a very large butcher knife. Rather than storming him and screaming “put the knife down” like my colleagues would have done, we kept our distance. We talked to him, tried to calm him down.

    It became clear to us that he was dealing with mental illness. So eventually, we convinced him to come to the hospital with us.

    I’m certain many other officers in the department would have escalated the situation fast. They would have screamed at him, gotten close to him, threatened him. And then, any movement from him, even an effort to drop the knife, would have been treated as an excuse to shoot until their clips were empty.

    I liked my job, and I was good at it.

    But more and more, I felt like I couldn’t do the work I set out to do. I was participating in a profoundly corrupt criminal justice system. I could not, in good conscience, participate in a system that was so intentionally unfair and racist. So after five years on the job, I quit.

    Since I left, I’ve thought a lot about how to change the system. I’ve worked on police abuse, racial justice and criminal justice reform at the Missouri ACLU and other organizations.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think better training alone will reduce police brutality. My fellow officers and I took plenty of classes on racial sensitivity and on limiting the use of force.

    The problem is that cops aren’t held accountable for their actions, and they know it. These officers violate rights with impunity. They know there’s a different criminal justice system for civilians and police.

    Even when officers get caught, they know they’ll be investigated by their friends, and put on paid leave. My colleagues would laughingly refer to this as a free vacation. It isn’t a punishment. And excessive force is almost always deemed acceptable in our courts and among our grand juries. Prosecutors are tight with law enforcement, and share the same values and ideas.

    We could start to change that by mandating that a special prosecutor be appointed to try excessive force cases. And we need more independent oversight, with teeth. I have little confidence in internal investigations.

    The number of people in uniform who will knowingly and maliciously violate your human rights is huge. At the Ferguson protests, people are chanting, “The whole **** system is guilty as hell.” I agree, and we have a lot of work to do.


  3. #23
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    What I've Learned from Two Years Collecting Data on Police Killings


    A few days ago, Deadspin's Kyle Wagner began to compile a list of all police-involved shootings in the U.S. He's not the only one to undertake such a project: D. Brian Burghart, editor of the Reno News & Review, has been attempting a crowd sourced national database of deadly police violence. We asked Brian to write about what he's learned from his project.

    It began simply enough. Commuting home from my work at Reno's alt-weekly newspaper, the News & Review, on May 18, 2012, I drove past the aftermath of a police shooting—in this case, that of a man named Jace Herndon. It was a chaotic scene, and I couldn't help but wonder how often it happened.

    I went home and grabbed my laptop and a glass of wine and tried to find out. I found nothing—a failure I simply chalked up to incompetent local media.

    A few months later I read about the Dec. 6, 2012, killing of a naked and unarmed 18-year-old college student, Gil Collar, by University of South Alabama police. The killing had attracted national coverage—The New York Times, the Associated Press, CNN—but there was still no context being provided—no figures examining how many people are killed by police.

    I started to search in earnest. Nowhere could I find out how many people died during interactions with police in the United States. Try as I might, I just couldn't wrap my head around that idea. How was it that, in the 21st century, this data wasn't being tracked, compiled, and made available to the public? How could journalists know if police were killing too many people in their town if they didn't have a way to compare to other cities? Hell, how could citizens or police? How could cops possibly know "best practices" for dealing with any fluid situation? They couldn't.

    The bottom line was that I found the absence of such a library of police killings offensive. And so I decided to build it. I'm still building it. But I could use some help. You can find my growing database of deadly police violence here, at Fatal Encounters, and I invite you to go here, research one of the listed shootings, fill out the row, and change its background color. It'll take you about 25 minutes. There are thousands to choose from, and another 2,000 or so on my cloud drive that I haven't even added yet. After I fact-check and fill in the cracks, your contribution will be added to largest database about police violence in the country. Feel free to check out what has been collected about your locale's information here.

    The biggest thing I've taken away from this project is something I'll never be able to prove, but I'm convinced to my core: The lack of such a database is intentional. No government—not the federal government, and not the thousands of municipalities that give their police forces license to use deadly force—wants you to know how many people it kills and why.

    It's the only conclusion that can be drawn from the evidence. What evidence? In attempting to collect this information, I was lied to and delayed by the FBI, even when I was only trying to find out the addresses of police departments to make public records requests. The government collects millions of bits of data annually about law enforcement in its Uniform Crime Report, but it doesn't collect information about the most consequential act a law enforcer can do.

    I've been lied to and delayed by state, county and local law enforcement agencies—almost every time. They've blatantly broken public records laws, and then thumbed their authoritarian noses at the temerity of a citizen asking for information that might embarrass the agency. And these are the people in charge of enforcing the law.

    The second biggest thing I learned is that bad journalism colludes with police to hide this information. The primary reason for this is that police will cut off information to reporters who tell tales. And a reporter can't work if he or she can't talk to sources. It happened to me on almost every level as I advanced this year-long Fatal Encounters series through the News & Review. First they talk; then they stop, then they roadblock.

    Take Philadelphia for example. In Philadelphia, the police generally don't disclose the names of victims of police violence, and they don't disclose the names of police officers who kill people. What reporter has time to go to the most dangerous sections of town to try to find someone who knows the name of the victim or the details of a killing? At night, on deadline, are you kidding? So with no victim and no officer, there's no real story, but the information is known, consumed and mulled over in an ever-darkening cloud of neighborhood anger.

    Many Gawker readers watched in horror as Albuquerque police killed James Boyd, a homeless man, for illegal camping. Look at these stats, though (I don't know if they're comprehensive; I believe they are): In Bernallilo County, N.M., three people were killed by police in 2012; in 2013, five. In Shelby County, Tenn., nine people were killed by police in 2012; in 2013, 11.

    Who the hell knew Memphis Police were killing men at more than double the rate the cops were killing people in Albuquerque? But when I emailed the reporter at the Memphis Commercial Appeal to track the numbers back further, I got no response. I bought a subscription, but haven't been able return to research in that region. (Why don't you help me out? Just do a last name search here before you dig in.)

    There are many other ways that bad or sloppy journalism undermines the ability of researchers to gather data on police shootings. Reporters make fundamental errors or typos; they accept police excuses for not releasing names of the dead or the shooters, or don't publish the decedents' names even if they're released; they don't publish police or coroner's reports. Sometimes they don't show their work: This otherwise excellent St. Louis Post-Dispatch article claims there were 15 fatal shooting cases involving law enforcement agencies between January 2007 to September 30, 2011—but provides few names and dates for further research efforts.

    And that list doesn't even get into fundamental errors in attitude toward police killing—for example, the tendency of large outlets and wire services to treat killings as local matters, and not worth tracking widely. Even though police brutality is a national crisis. Journalists also don't generally report the race of the person killed. Why? It's unethical to report it unless it's germane to the story. But race is always germane when police kill somebody.

    This is the most most heinous thing I've learned in my two years compiling Fatal Encounters. You know who dies in the most population-dense areas? Black men. You know who dies in the least population dense areas? Mentally ill men. It's not to say there aren't dangerous and desperate criminals killed across the line. But African-Americans and the mentally ill people make up a huge percentage of people killed by police.

    And if you want to get down to nut-cuttin' time, across the board, it's poor people who are killed by police. (And by the way, around 96 percent of people killed by police are men.)

    But maybe most important thing I learned is that collecting this information is hard. I still firmly believe that having a large, searchable database will allow us not just better understanding of these incidents, but better training, policies and protocols for police, and consequently fewer dead people and police. But normal people don't much care about numbers. Trolls intentionally try to pollute the data. Subterranean disinformationists routinely get out fake numbers. I try to take advantage of the public passion when when an incendiary event happens, like the death of Kelly Thomas, James Boyd, Eric Garner or Michael Brown. Or when a Deadspin writer decides to get involved. My girlfriend calls this "riding the spike." I call it journalism. Or maybe, obsession.


  4. #24
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    STUDY: Wisconsin incarcerate Blacks more than Whites

    Milwaukee incarcerates 1.2% of white people, while its incarceration rate for black people is 12.8%--the highest in the nation. More than half of black men in their thirties have been incarcerated, 75-85% for non-violent drug offenses.

    Pass this along for the millions of people who say racism is not an issue. Cure them of their ignorance.


    A UW-Milwaukee study released this year shows Wisconsin has the country’s highest rate of black male incarceration, by far.

    In Milwaukee County, more than half the African American men in their thirties have served time.The numbers may be shocking, but some in the Milwaukee community aren't surprised, like state Rep. Mandela Barnes."We already knew that the state of Wisconsin put more black men behind bars than they do into universities, but to see the numbers on paper, it helps when we try to build the case and take it it other people," he says. "Now it's on people's minds, now it's on people's radar and now it's time to do something about it."Retired Lutheran pastor Joe Ellwanger has been addressing the issue in his work with the faith community for some time, but still he says there's some startling data in the report."What's really striking from this study, that not only does Wisconsin have the highest rate of African American incarceration, but it is six percentage points higher than the next state," he says. Oklahoma has the next highest rate.

    Ellwanger says the study shows Milwaukee's 53206 zip code is especially affected by the problem. Many men from that area are currently in prison or return there after prison.The reasons behind such a high rate of black male incarceration are complex. But Ellwanger says one cause is a racial divide in prosecutions for drug-related crimes, which he says account for 75 to 85 percent of people in prison."The rate of drug uses and drug sales in the white community versus the black community is almost exactly the same, but there's a saying that if you have the money you get the treatment, if your poor you go to jail or you go to prison," he says. "Though that's an overstatement, there's a lot of truth in it."

    Ellwanger says Wisconsin needs to change how it deals with drug offenders, who often have underlying drug addictions. He says sending people to treatment versus prison isn't just a "matter of compassion," but "a matter of fiscal responsibility.""This is basically why Minnesota has its prison rate down to less than half of what Wisconsin's is," he says. "They deal with low risk persons who have underlying drug addictions and that's the root of the crime."State Rep. Barnes says this isn't to say that people who deserve to be in jail for their crimes shouldn't be incarcerated, but he worries about the economic consequences of such a high rate of imprisonment."It becomes a drain on the entire community once a person (is) in prison," Barnes says. "They aren't able to be productive...They aren't going to be able to be taxpayers. They aren't going to be able to generate revenue for the state.

    They aren't going to be able to be a part of the workforce."Barnes says that can lead to a cycle of violence, in which a previously nonviolent offender in prison becomes violent after learning "violent means of survival."Milwaukee Public Television will be investigating the high rate of black male incarceration in a six-month series, in collaboration with WUWM's "Project Milwaukee" series. MPTV's "Black Nouveau" producer Everett Marshburn says it's important to work toward better understanding the issue."We've got to break the cycle," Marshburn says. "We've got to get people interested in finding solutions and that works both ways. There are institutional issues, but there are also personal issues and things that people have to do, things that men have to do."

    You can find the full list of broadcasts and stories here.


  5. #25
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    The Prison State of America


    Prisons employ and exploit the ideal worker. Prisoners do not receive benefits or pensions. They are not paid overtime. They are forbidden to organize and strike. They must show up on time. They are not paid for sick days or granted vacations. They cannot formally complain about working conditions or safety hazards. If they are disobedient, or attempt to protest their pitiful wages, they lose their jobs and can be sent to isolation cells. The roughly 1 million prisoners who work for corporations and government industries in the American prison system are models for what the corporate state expects us all to become. And corporations have no intention of permitting prison reforms that would reduce the size of their bonded workforce. In fact, they are seeking to replicate these conditions throughout the society.

    States, in the name of austerity, have stopped providing prisoners with essential items including shoes, extra blankets and even toilet paper, while starting to charge them for electricity and room and board. Most prisoners and the families that struggle to support them are chronically short of money. Prisons are company towns. Scrip, rather than money, was once paid to coal miners, and it could be used only at the company store. Prisoners are in a similar condition. When they go broke—and being broke is a frequent occurrence in prison—prisoners must take out prison loans to pay for medications, legal and medical fees and basic commissary items such as soap and deodorant. Debt peonage inside prison is as prevalent as it is outside prison.

    States impose an array of fees on prisoners. For example, there is a 10 percent charge imposed by New Jersey on every commissary purchase. Stamps have a 10 percent surcharge. Prisoners must pay the state for a 15-minute deathbed visit to an immediate family member or a 15-minute visit to a funeral home to view the deceased. New Jersey, like most other states, forces a prisoner to reimburse the system for overtime wages paid to the two guards who accompany him or her, plus mileage cost. The charge can be as high as $945.04. It can take years to pay off a visit with a dying father or mother.

    Fines, often in the thousands of dollars, are assessed against many prisoners when they are sentenced. There are 22 fines that can be imposed in New Jersey, including the Violent Crime Compensation Assessment (VCCB), the Law Enforcement Officers Training & Equipment Fund (LEOT) and Extradition Costs (EXTRA). The state takes a percentage each month out of prison pay to pay down the fines, a process that can take decades. If a prisoner who is fined $10,000 at sentencing must rely solely on a prison salary he or she will owe about $4,000 after making payments for 25 years. Prisoners can leave prison in debt to the state. And if they cannot continue to make regular payments—difficult because of high unemployment—they are sent back to prison. High recidivism is part of the design.

    Corporations have privatized most of the prison functions once handled by governments. They run prison commissaries and, since the prisoners have nowhere else to shop, often jack up prices by as much as 100 percent. Corporations have taken over the phone systems and charge exorbitant fees to prisoners and their families. They grossly overcharge for money transfers from families to prisoners. And these corporations, some of the nation’s largest, pay little more than a dollar a day to prison laborers who work in for-profit prison industries. Food and merchandise vendors, construction companies, laundry services, uniforms companies, prison equipment vendors, cafeteria services, manufacturers of pepper spray, body armor and the array of medieval instruments used for the physical control of prisoners, and a host of other contractors feed like jackals off prisons. Prisons, in America, are a hugely profitable business.

    Our prison-industrial complex, which holds 2.3 million prisoners, or 25 percent of the world’s prison population, makes money by keeping prisons full. It demands bodies, regardless of color, gender or ethnicity. As the system drains the pool of black bodies, it has begun to incarcerate others. Women—the fastest-growing segment of the prison population—are swelling prisons, as are poor whites in general, Hispanics and immigrants. Prisons are no longer a black-white issue. Prisons are a grotesque manifestation of corporate capitalism. Slavery is legal in prisons under the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It reads: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States. …” And the massive U.S. prison industry functions like the forced labor camps that have existed in all totalitarian states.

    Corporate investors, who have poured billions into the business of mass incarceration, expect long-term returns. And they will get them. It is their lobbyists who write the draconian laws that demand absurdly long sentences, deny paroles, determine immigrant detention laws and impose minimum-sentence and three-strikes-out laws (mandating life sentences after three felony convictions). The politicians and the courts, subservient to corporate power, can be counted on to protect corporate interests.

    Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest owner of for-profit prisons and immigration detention facilities in the country, had revenues of $1.7 billion in 2013 and profits of $300 million. CCA holds an average of 81,384 inmates in its facilities on any one day. Aramark Holdings Corp., a Philadelphia-based company that contracts through Aramark Correctional Services to provide food to 600 correctional institutions across the United States, was acquired in 2007 for $8.3 billion by investors that included Goldman Sachs.

    Full article at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/...erica_20141228

  6. #26
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    Study: Immigrants face far harsher punishments in U.S. courts

    Nationality trumps race in sentencing gap

    Study after study has shown that black men do more time in jail than white men who commit similar crimes — an entrenched racial disparity in the nation’s justice system that Attorney General Eric Holder has decried as “shameful” and unacceptable.

    But a new study finds that a previously ignored factor has an even larger impact than race on whether and for how long a person will go to jail: U.S. citizenship.

    Immigrants who lack citizenship are four times more likely to be sent to jail than U.S. citizens who committed the same crimes, according to a study of federal sentencing data to be published in the American Sociological Review this month. Once they’re in jail, immigrants serve two to four months longer than the average citizen convicted of the same crime.

    This sentencing gap between citizens and noncitizens is even larger than ones found between black defendants and white defendants, according to Michael T. Light, the study’s author and an assistant professor of sociology at Purdue University. Lacking citizenship appears to be worse news for a defendant than his or her race. A white non citizen faces more jail time, on average, than a black U.S. citizen convicted of the same crime, the study found.

    Citizenship “appears to trump race and ethnicity when determining punishments for those who violate U.S. law,” the study concludes. The effect was starkest for undocumented immigrants, but even legal immigrants faced significantly longer sentences than citizens convicted of the same crimes, regardless of their race. Most of the sentencing disparity between Hispanics and whites could be explained by the higher percentage of non citizens in the Hispanic group, the study found.

    The sentencing gap appears to have grown with the size of the non citizen population of the country, which has expanded to about 38 million people. Non-citizens make up more than a quarter of the country’s federal inmates. They are generally deported once their sentence is up. Most non citizens in prison are serving time for federal immigration crimes, but the researchers examined only non-immigration offenses committed by non citizens to be able to compare them to the same crimes committed by citizens.

    It’s unclear why non citizens are punished more severely by the courts. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that undocumented immigrants have a right to due process — and legal immigrants should be treated the same by the law. Light theorizes that the disparity might be a reflection of public opinion. A majority of Americans say in polls that they believe immigrants are likely to cause higher crime rates. This perception of higher criminality could result in harsher punishments.

    Holder has called racial disparities in sentencing "unacceptable" and has launched a series of reforms aimed at rolling back mandatory minimums for drug crimes in order to combat them. It’s unclear if these reforms would help close the citizen-non-citizen gap as well, Light said. “Any policy aimed at avoiding unwarranted disparities is a good thing,” he said. “It’s not that we shouldn’t focus on race and ethnicity, but that we should also include nationality.”



    It’s no surprise that such disparity exists. It’s a white privileged society in a whit privileged world. Most in power are white, put there by their own kind. Just a few months ago a story broke of a white judge selling black kids to private prisons and shamelessly claiming his white privileged “entitlement” to earn money over it. And what did he get for his crime? Just 28 years in prison. (http://personaladvisory.com/2013/08/...ns-to-prisons/) And is if blacks didn’t have it bad enough, these nationalists will unjustly set an example of non-citizens, even legal ones with legal residential status and a green card. This is the justice system of the nationalistic ethno-centric war mongering west.

  7. #27
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    What New Stats Show About The School To Prison Pipeline For Black Girls Is Worse Than Anyone Could Have Imagined

    Judging by the statistics, the national focus on the troubled plight of Black boys with initiatives like President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper may be missing a real crisis that’s hidden in plain sight: Black girls are treated even more harshly in American schools than Black boys when compared to their white counterparts—leading to them now being the fastest growing population in the juvenile justice system.

    The numbers are jarring: Black girls across the country were suspended six times more often than white girls, compared to Black boys being suspended three times more often than white boys, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s analysis of the 2011-2012 school year.

    Only 2 percent of white females were subjected to exclusionary suspensions, compared to 12 percent of Black girls.

    Because males are suspended in greater numbers than females, the harsh treatment of Black boys tends to draw all the attention. But a new report by the African American Policy Forum and Columbia Law School called “Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced, and Underprotected” shines a spotlight on Black girls in public school, playing particular attention to what happens to them in the New York City and Boston school systems.

    The report doesn’t appear to be intended to slight the attention currently being paid to Black boys, but rather to suggest that Black girls are just as vulnerable to discrimination and mistreatment in America’s school. In fact, in some cases they may be more vulnerable. As noted by the report’s author, Columbia Law School professor Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw (with Priscilla Ocen and Jyoti Nanda), race may actually be a more significant factor for females than it is for males.

    “This silence about at-risk girls is multidimensional and cross-institutional,” wrote the report’s authors. “The risks that Black and other girls of color confront rarely receive the full attention of researchers, advocates, policy makers, and funders.

    As a result, many educators, activists, and community members remain underinformed about the consequences of punitive school policies on girls as well as the distinctly gendered dynamics of zero-tolerance environments that limit their educational achievements.”

    For instance, the researchers used girls’ responses in focus groups to conclude that the discomfort that some Black girls feel with the increased levels of law enforcement and security personnel, including passing through metal detectors, found in most of their schools was so great that they “were dissuaded from coming to school at all. ”

    In addition, the failure of schools to intervene in situations involving the sexual harassment and bullying of girls contributes to their insecurity at school. Zero-tolerance discipline policies that penalize equally any student involved in an incident winds up penalizing girls for defending themselves against the harassment and bullying.

    “The challenge is real. Black girls receive more severe sentences when they enter the juvenile justice system than do members of any other group of girls, and they are also the fastest growing population in the system,” the authors wrote.

    “Despite these troubling trends, there is very little research highlighting the short and long term effects of overdiscipline and pushout on girls of color.”

    In comparing the disciplinary numbers of Black girls and white girls in New York and Boston, the researchers were challenged to come up with a ratio for expulsions in both cities because no white girls had been expelled.

    “In New York City during the 2011–2012 year, ninety percent of all the girls subjected to expulsion were Black,” they wrote.

    “No white girls were expelled, and thus, no ratio can be calculated; but the magnitude of the disparity can be captured by simply imagining that one white girl had been expelled. Were that the case, the ratio would be 53:1.”

    The authors use several individual stories to highlight how ridiculous the systems’s treatment of Black girls can be. For example, a 12-year-old Black girl at a Georgia middle school faced expulsion and criminal charges after writing “hi” on a locker room wall of her Georgia middle school. In Detroit, an honors student was suspended for her entire senior year for accidentally bringing a pocketknife to a football game.

    “If this is a problem of racial disparity, not only should girls not be excluded from that conversation, they should be front and center because something is happening to Black girls that actually is more of a risk factor than what’s happening to boys,” lead author Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw said.

    Villanova University researchers in 2013 chronicled how Black girls with darker skin were three times more likely to be suspended than girls with lighter skin, showing the deep-seated damage that colorism and white supremacy has done to school administrators.

    Crenshaw said she found both high-achieving and low-achieving girls similarly affected by the harsh environment.

    “These were things that when I went to school would happen—girls getting into fights and having beefs—[but] never led to incarceration,” she said in an interview with The Daily Beast. “Now it does.”


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    Miami Police Caught Using Photos of Blacks as Shooting Targets

    Jan 15, 2015

    A South Florida family is outraged at North Miami Beach Police after mug shots were being used at a shooting range for police training.

    It was an ordinary Saturday morning last month when Sgt. Valerie Deant arrived at the shooting range in Medley, or so she thought.

    Deant, who plays clarinet with the Florida Army National Guard’s 13th Army Band, and her fellow soldiers were at the shooting range for their annual weapons qualifications training.

    What the soldiers discovered when they entered the range made them angry: mug shots of African American men apparently used as targets by North Miami Beach Police snipers, who had used the range before the Guardsmen.

    Even more startling for Deant, one of the images was her brother. It was Woody Deant’s mug shot that taken 15 years ago, after he was arrested in connection to a drag race in 2000 that left two people dead. His mug shot was among the pictures of five minorities used as targets by North Miami Beach police, all of them riddled by bullets.

    “I was like why is my brother being used for target practice?” Deant asked.

    Deant’s fellow guardsmen were angry too, but they tried to console Deant, who was devastated. “There were like gunshots there,” Deant said. “And I cried a couple of times.”

    She immediately called her brother, Woody Deant, who was 18-years old when the picture was taken. “The picture actually has like bullet holes,” Woody Deant said. “One in my forehead and one in my eye. …I was speechless,” she added.

    The City of Medley owns the Medley Firearms Training Center and it leases the facilities to law enforcement agencies in the area. The shooting range staff doesn’t select the targets use by law enforcement and the military.

    North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis admitted that his officers could have used better judgment, but denies any racial profiling.

    He noted that that the sniper team includes minority officers. Dennis defended the department’s use of actual photographs and says the technique is widely used and the pictures are vital for facial recognition drills. But the Deant family questions why officers were firing targets with images of real people, in this case African-Americans, especially at a time when relations between minority communities and law enforcement are so tense.

    “Our policies were not violated,” Dennis said. “There is no discipline forthcoming from the individuals who were involved with this.”

    NBC 6 Investigators spoke with sources at federal and state law enforcement agencies and five local police departments that have SWAT and sniper teams in an attempt to find out if this is a common practice. All law enforcement agencies said they only use commercially produced targets, not photos of human beings for target practice.

    “The use of those targets doesn’t seem correct,” Alex Vasquez, a retired FBI agent, said. “The police have different options for targets. I think the police have to be extra careful and sensitive to some issues that might be raised.”

    Dennis said the police department uses an array of pictures including that of whites, and Hispanic males. What concerns his police department, he said, is that the picture was from someone that happened to be arrested by his agency.

    “That individual would be someone that was on the streets of North Miami Beach,” Dennis said.

    The police chief said his department will resume use of human image targets after it expands the number of images in its inventory. His officers, Dennis said, will not use any booking photos from suspects they have arrested and he’ll direct his officers to remove the targets after they use the shooting range.

    But Woody Deant, who did four years in prison after his 2000 arrest, expressed outrage.

    “Now I’m being used as a target?” said Woody Deant. “I’m not even living that life according to how they portrayed me as. I’m a father. I’m a husband. I’m a career man. I work 9-to-5.”

    The Deants contacted Attorney Andell Brown. He said he finds the use of human images for target practice extremely disturbing.

    “This can create a very dangerous situation,” Brown said. “And it has been ingrained in your subconscious what does that mean when someone [police] comes across Woody or another person on the street and their decision-making process on using deadly force or not.”

    The Deants agree.

    “Automatically in his [police officer] mind he’s going to think target, target, target…,” Woody Deant said.


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    Police Paralyze Indian Man

    An Indian grandfather goes for a morning walk and a white woman calls the police stating that a "suspicious, skinny, black man" is lurking outside. The police come and question the man (who doesn’t speak English) and then grab him and slam him to the ground breaking his spine and causing paralysis.

    video: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=519095608231951

    FBI Admits Many Police Officers REALLY Are Racists

    February 13, 2015

    Are police officers racist? Depending on who you ask, you will get very different answers. But now the FBI has weighed in, and the answer they gave may surprise a lot of people.

    In an unusually blunt admission, FBI Director James B. Comey addressed what he called the “hard truths” about policing. He openly acknowledged the racial bias that exists among police officers across the nation.

    Director Comey said, with serious dismay, that there is a “disconnect” between police and non-white communities.

    “We are at a crossroads,” Comey explained. “As a society, we can choose to live our lives every day, raising our families, going to work and hoping someone, somewhere will do something to ease the tension, to smooth over the conflict… Or we can choose instead to have an open and honest discussion about what our relationship is today.”

    Comey was addressing students at Georgetown University. His words might not have made waves if they had come out of anyone else’s mouth. But they were remarkably honest, coming from the director of the FBI.

    Comey added that law enforcement officers “often work in environments where a hugely disproportionate percentage of street crime is committed by young men of color.”

    “Something happens to people of goodwill working in that environment. After years of police work, officers often can’t help but be influenced by the cynicism they feel.”

    He further noted that whether an officer is “white or black,” they have a different reaction to two young African American men on street than they do to two white men.

    Why? Comey said it is because the African Americans on the street “look like so many others the officer has locked up.”

    He further cited the song “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” which coems from the Broadway musical “Avenue Q” – a song which suggests that everyone makes racial judgments. Comey says it would be ridiculous to believe that police officers do not.

    “Look around and you will find,” Comey quoting, “no one’s really colorblind.”

    “Much of our history is not pretty,” Comey added. “At many points in American history, law enforcement enforced the status quo, a status quo that was often brutally unfair to disfavored groups.”

    Comey explained that police officers must learn from this “inheritance.”

    “Many people in our white-majority culture have unconscious racial biases and react differently to a white face than a black face,” Comey continued.

    “We simply must find a way to see each other more clearly… It is hard to hate up close.”

    The complete text from Director Comey’s speech can be found at the FBI website.


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    Video shows horrific moment cop ‘shoves woman face-first into concrete bench’

    12 Oct 2013

    Shocking footage has emerged of a woman being thrown, by a police officer, towards a concrete bench which left her needing reconstructive surgery.

    The force with which Cassandra Feuerstein, 47, was pushed into her cell was described as ‘unjustifiable’ by her lawyer, who is representing the woman in a law suit against the accused officer.

    Feuerstein’s attorney, Torreya Hamilton, released the CCTV footage earlier this week and said that the incident left her client with horrific injuries including the need for a titanium plate to ‘replace the bones that had been shattered.’

    ‘The video speaks for itself,’ Hamilton said. ‘She does nothing to justify what this male police officer does.’

    Having been arrested for drunk driving in the town of Skokie, Illinois, Feuerstein can be seen in the film removing items of clothing before leaving the cell for further processing.

    She can then be seen being pushed back into her cell, falling face first onto the bench before drops of blood splatter on the floor.

    The officer hasn’t been suspended, though an investigation is ongoing.

    She had also been charged with resisting a police officer, but this has now been dropped, according to the Chicago Tribune.


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    Angela Davis speaks civil rights, anti-Muslim discrimination, and police brutality during UM-Flint visit


    FLINT, MI - -With the prison-industrial complex, racism, police brutality, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim discrimination, and more on the table, Angela Davis didn't leave any activist's stone unturned during her visit to Flint on Thursday.

    The iconic civil rights activist, author and scholar visited the University of Michigan-Flint campus Thursday, Feb. 19, to speak to students and area residents and inspire them to fight oppression.

    Davis worked with the Black Panther Party through her involvement in the civil rights movement, and emerged as a leader of the Communist Party during the 1960s. She also founded Critical Resistance, an organization aimed at abolishing the prison-industrial complex. She was placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List under false charges, and after 16 months of being incarcerated and an international "Free Angela Davis" campaign, she was acquitted in 1972.

    "Forty years ago, we never could've imagined struggling for the same issues," she said on Thursday morning.

    Adorned with a black shirt and her recognizable afro, the Birmingham, Ala., native and retired California educator started her morning in the Harding Mott University Center, where she spoke to about 300 students in a question-and-answer session. She then went to the University of Michigan-Flint Theatre, where she gave a lecture to a standing-room-only crowd of about 450 people. After each event, people met Davis and got copies of her book autographed.

    Davis spoke against the death penalty and why she wants to abolish the prison system, said that anti-Muslim and anti-Arab hate is just as important to tackle as anti-black racism, mentioned how feminism should be used as part of the overall struggle for equality, and said it's time for a new educational system.

    "The education that we have now is so repressive. It's an education that has come to replicate the process of imprisonment," Davis said, adding that children aren't naturally going to sit in one place without moving. "We need to get rid of this educational system. We need to build something new that makes kids take pleasure in learning. Education should allow kids to be different."

    She said that she was in Europe when a grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., decided not to indict police Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of unarmed teen Michael Brown. During multiple trips, she said, people at her lectures and visits asked her about the case, and about police brutality in the United States.

    "It's important for us in the United States to sometimes realize that we're not alone," Davis said.

    Davis concluded her lecture with a call for people to fight oppression in their own way.

    "We can no longer stand idly by. This is one of those moments where we are truly called to participate in building communities of struggle," she said. "We have to say no with our spirits, our combined intellects, and our many bodies. "

    Student Kerry Thomas saw Angela Davis speak during the 1970s with his late older sister, who idolized Davis. He attended Thursday's event in memory of her, while wearing a gray "Hands Up Don't Shoot" sweater designed by his 14-year-old daughter.

    "(Davis') afro and her smile are symbolic of strong black women. A lot of people followed the Jackson 5, but my sister followed Angela Davis," Thomas said. "(In the 1970s) she talked about equality, uplifting the black community, and hidden agendas that the government didn't want us to know.

    "Back then, she talked with a little more strength," he remembered. "Now, she's more laid back, because the times have changed, and you can see it in her voice. But the message is the same."

    Brittni Ward, a senior at University of Michigan-Flint and president of Black Student Union, cites Davis as one of her major influences. Seeing her speak gave her motivation to continue her activism, even when it seems that it is falling on deaf ears.

    "It was amazing to see someone with the same ideals as me, and so many other people at University of Michigan-Flint interested in what she has to say. To replicate that on this campus is great, because it gives energy to a movement and the idea of change and revolution," she said.

    Senior Rachel Strickland fulfilled a class requirement with her attendance, and had previous interest in Davis after reading her work in the past. She said that Davis, and her words, were especially applicable to Flint residents.

    "I really enjoyed the educational section, where she said that education is failing and that we don't need reform, but a whole new structure to keep more kids out of prisons, especially in this community," Strickland said. "So many of my friends have passed away or gone to jail, it's ridiculous."

    Freshman Leon El-Alamin said that Davis' visit added credence to his daily attempts to get other students involved in fighting oppression, and teaching black history to their children and their communities.

    "She's a major inspiration in the movement coming through the '60s and '70s, when she was there with those individuals she spoke about who have passed away or are still incarcerated," El-Alamin said. "It falls on us as a community to know our history, to teach it to our children to know, and give that information about people who laid their lives on the line so we can have a lot of the rights we have today."


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    Inside Chicago's legacy of police abuse: violence 'as routine as traffic lights'

    Ordinary Chicagoans say Homan Square facility, where suspects are interrogated and detained without legal access, fits within a broader tradition of police abuse

    He would go on to investigate torture for a distinguished religious group, become an anti-apartheid campaigner and even an adviser to his city’s mayor. But before all that, in the early 1960s, Prexy Nesbitt was just another young black man thrown over the hood of his car by one of Chicago’s notoriously brutal police.

    Nesbitt, then in his late teens, had put his Checker Marathon between a police cruiser and the vehicle of a woman he saw a cop harassing. The white officer, evidently dissatisfied, drew his gun and pointed it at Nesbitt’s left temple. Later taken to a police station, Nesbitt ultimately got out of the situation unharmed, he remembered, because his schoolteacher father and pediatrician uncle were well respected in their Lawndale neighborhood – where, then as now, the red brick towers and warehouse complex now known as the Homan Square police facility marks the skyline.

    “The class position of my family was the only reason I wasn’t thrown in jail,” Nesbitt, now 70 years old, remembered. “Otherwise, I might even not be here telling the story.”

    Back when Nesbitt was growing up, Homan Square was the Sears Roebuck complex, an engine of economic vitality. Now, among other police functions, it’s a site for interrogations and hours-long detentions without public notice or legal access, compared by locals to a CIA black site. Nesbitt and others with a sense of Chicago’s history – lawyers, activists, an ex-cop, everyday Chicagoans – consider Homan Square to fit within an ongoing, racialized legacy of police abuse and civil-rights denial whose roots are deep, wide and old.

    “The subtle message in the department is white supremacy, white male supremacy,” said Pat Hill, a Chicago police officer from 1986 to 2007 who led the African American Police League.

    Ironically, the Chicago police department itself opened the aperture for a broader look into its behavior on Sunday, releasing a three-page “factsheet” attempting to refute the result of investigations by the Guardian. The press release likened Homan Square’s “several standard interview rooms” to those of the “more than 25 CPD facilities throughout the city”, implying that the facility is more consistent with typical police practices than a departure from them.

    Chicagoans, particularly black and brown citizens, lament that as all too true – that being interrogated and abused, frequently without public notice or legal counsel, has transformed the denial of constitutional rights in their city into a kind of disturbing norm.

    Late last year, following decades of profound systematic abuse, institutional racism and the repeated denial of civil rights, Chicago citizens asked the United Nations to classify what their notoriously brutal police force does to them, in an American city, as a violation of international anti-torture statutes.

    Contained within an appeal to the UN Committee Against Torture – the same watchdog that has looked into Guantánamo Bay and the police killing in Ferguson, Missouri – were a litany of tales describing highly damaging abuse and injustice, completely out of step with alleged crimes. One was the story of a 22-year-old black man, who was beaten so badly when Chicago police found him smoking marijuana that he awoke from consciousness in Cook County jail with “22 stitches in my tongue, two facial fractures, bruised ribs, scrapes all over my body … an orbital fracture, a nasal fracture”.

    Late last week, after multiple Chicago lawyers came forward to the Guardian with allegations of suspects being interrogated without public notice or legal counselat a warehouse known as Homan Square, more young black men from Chicago began telling their stories of being abused, off the books, inside the facility.

    “A monopoly and application of the use of illicit violence is the modus vivendi of the Chicago police department and of governance in Chicago,” Nesbitt said.

    “Violence and the use of illicit violence versus people of color, particularly blacks and Latinos, is as routine in Chicago as traffic lights.”

    Cook County and racial history: ‘It was like modern-day slavery’

    Once taken out of Homan Square and into police districts, Chicagoans caught in the justice system proceed to the fortress-like Cook County jail on 26th and California, run by the Cook County sheriff’s department. The jail itself “systematically violated inmates’ constitutional rights”, according to a 2010 stipulation by the US Department of Justice, through the use of “excessive force by staff, the failure to protect inmates from harm by fellow inmates, inadequate medical and mental healthcare, and a lack of adequate fire safety and sanitation”.

    Cook County and the Justice Department entered into an agreement that year to fix the jail. But a recent civil-rights lawsuit finds more continuity than change.

    The suit, filed in October by Kathleen Zellner – the same Chicago-area attorney attempting a civil-rights lawsuit against the detective turned Guantánamo torturer Richard Zuley – describes an ongoing “culture of lawlessness” at the jail she likened to a “Chicago version of Abu Ghraib”.

    A 27-year-old Jane Doe plaintiff, a non-violent drug offender, spent 27 days at the jail starting in November 2013. She was sexually assaulted – hence the pseudonym – as well as beaten and slashed with a razor; she lost clumps of hair and a tooth. A corrections officer, Darmea McCoy, pegged her for the other inmates as a snitch, accelerating the assault. McCoy is alleged to have told her: “This is not the Hilton and if you don’t like the accommodations then you shouldn’t have made the reservations.”

    Albert Smith, who also said he was made to sleep on the floor of the Cook County jail when he was there in the mid-2000s, said conditions at the jail were “the worst thing you could ever go through”.

    “****, man, it was like modern-day slavery,” Smith added.

    Conversely, Bill Dorsch, who retired as a Chicago police detective in 1994 as a 25-year veteran, said that after decades of outside scrutiny, he considered police abuse in Chicago more exceptional than systemic.

    “I can’t see it really going on now. You get that individual officer who’s got a problem, maybe, with the person he arrested, but I don’t think it’s rampant,” Dorsch said.

    But Hill, who retired in 2007, said that institutional dysfunction in the police force starts at the academy, and is anything but colorblind: “The type of crime that they’re supposed to be fighting is described for them, and the face of the criminals are black.”

    When Hill tried to resist it within the African American Police League, she said she faced retaliation: not only was she called racist names, she recalled, but cocaine and marijuana began showing up in patrol cars she had used during routine inspections.

    “You’re going to always have a Homan Square,” Hill said. “They consider that part of real police work, even though it doesn’t stop any of the dope from coming in here.”

    Alice Kim, a founding member of the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, a group pushing for reparations for Jon Burge’s victims, said Chicago typically covers up its systemic abuses rather than facing them forthrightly.

    “The cover-up angle needs to be explored and made explicit. Mayor Emanuel denies what is happening at Homan Square. There needs to be a real investigation,” Kim said.

    “In the Burge torture cases, the city – from Mayor Daley to State’s Attorney Dick Devine to the police board to the office of professional standards – denied that torture was taking place.”

    Nesbitt, now an adjunct professor at Chicago’s Columbia College, doesn’t live in Lawndale anymore, though he goes back for frequent visits. As his career progressed, he investigated torture and racial persecution for the World Council of Churches’ anti-racism program; campaigned against apartheid in South Africa; and in the 1980s, came to advise Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor.

    Recounting his decades of experience with police, Nesbitt sometimes sounded like he was narrating a gangster story.

    Gloves Davis got his name from putting on gloves “before he beat you”. Two-Gun Pete had a second gun on him so he could plant evidence. When Nesbitt told a black officer where he was taken about the white cop putting the gun to his temple, the officer said: “If he had done that to me, I’d have shot his motherfucking ass.”

    Nesbitt wants Homan Square investigated as well.

    “There are many, many buildings in that complex, so I think there should be an independent inquiry into all those buildings. It’s where the bodies are buried,” Nesbitt said. “Unless you look through all those buildings – somebody; an independent inquiry – the whole story’s never going to come out.”

    full article @ http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2...-homan-square?

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    Cop who berated Uber driver is stripped of badge and gun

    The NYPD detective who was caught on video chewing out an Uber driver has been stripped of his shield and gun, and will be placed on modified duty, police officials said.

    Detective Patrick Cherry has been removed from the department’s elite Joint Terrorism Task Force and will be doing desk duty until he is officially transferred out of the prestigious division.

    “No good cop should watch that video without a wince,” Commissioner Bill Bratton said at a Wednesday press conference. “Because all good cops know that officer just made their jobs a little bit harder.”

    “In that kind of encounter, anger like that is unacceptable,” Bratton continued. “In any encounter, discourtesy and obscene language like that is unacceptable.
    “That officer’s behavior reflected poorly on everyone who wears our uniform.”

    The incident was being investigated by the Internal Affairs Bureau before being taken over by the Civilian Complaint Review Board, police said.

    The CCRB on Wednesday interviewed Sanjay Seth, the passenger who captured the belittling rant on his cellphone, according to the man’s Twitter page.

    In the video posted Monday on YouTube, Cherry blows up in the driver’s face after the Uber driver apparently honked at him and and made a gesture with his hand as he tried to park his unmarked car along the West Side Highway in Greenwich Village.

    “Just gave testimony to CCRB,” Seth wrote Wednesday. “The investigation is in their hands. Here’s to a quick, fair, and thorough resolution to this incident.”

    If a CCRB judge finds Cherry guilty of misconduct, he could end up with a permanent mark on his record, sources said. But any disciplinary action would be solely up to Bratton, who ultimately has final say.

    Cherry has been the subject of a dozen prior CCRB complaints, going back more than 10 years, some for exhibiting the same sort of verbal abuse, a source said.

    The one-sided shouting match was recorded by Seth as he and another man were riding in the backseat of the driver’s vehicle. The video shows Cherry barking into the driver’s face through the open door, at times mocking the man’s accent.

    “Stop it with your mouth. Stop it with your ‘For what sir, for what sir.’ Stop it with that bulls–t, and realize the three vehicle and traffic laws you committed,” Cherry screams during the three-minute tirade.

    “I don’t know what f–king planet you think you’re on right now. Now sit in your f–king car and stay there,” he shouts before slamming the door.

    The abuse continues when Cherry walks back to the car and starts to speak to the driver, identified in the video only as “Humayun.”

    But when the driver responds with “OK,” the cop goes off on him again.

    “OK what? You don’t let me f–king finish. Stop interrupting me,” he screams. “Who do you think you’re talking to here?”

    “Every time I open my mouth, you have something to say.”

    The officer was trying to park an unmarked car along the West Side Highway in Greenwich Village without using a blinker, according to statements made in the video.

    That’s when the Uber driver pulled around and gestured at the plainclothes cop — sending him into a rage.

    “You’re driving up my a— when I’m trying to park the car and then you have to do something with your hands,” he says.

    “I don’t know where you’re coming from, where you think you’re appropriate in doing that; that’s not the way it works. How long have you been in this country?”

    At the end of the video, the cop tells the shell-shocked driver that the only reason he isn’t being arrested is because the officer is too busy.

    “The only reason you’re not in handcuffs going to jail and getting summonses in the precinct is because I havethings to do,” he says. “This isn’t important enough for me. You’re not important enough.”

    Uber spokesman Matt Wing said the berated driver did not receive a summons.

    “The behavior in the video is wrong and unacceptable and we appreciate the NYPD investigating the incident,” he said. “We are in touch with our driver-partner who was subjected to this terrible experience and will continue to provide any support he needs.”


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    Alabama man off death row after 28 years to jailers: You will answer to God

    Anthony Ray Hinton, 58, spent half his life on Alabama’s death row, sentenced to die for two 1985 murders that for decades he insisted he did not commit.

    Over 28 years, the outside world changed while Hinton spent his days largely in a 5ft by 8ft prison cell. Children grew up. His mother died. His hair turned gray. Inmates he knew were escorted off to the electric chair or the lethal-injection gurney.

    He was set free on Friday after new ballistics tests contradicted the only evidence – an analysis of crime-scene bullets – that connected Hinton to the slayings.

    As he left the jail, Hinton said he would pray for the victims’ families as he has done for the past 30 years. They have suffered a “miscarriage of justice” as well, he said. He had less kind words for those involved in his conviction.

    “When you think you are high and mighty and you are above the law, you don’t have to answer to nobody. But I got news for them, everybody who played a part in sending me to death row, you will answer to God,” Hinton said.

    According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Hinton is the 152nd person exonerated from death row since 1973 and the sixth in Alabama.

    “They had every intention of executing me for something I didn’t do,” Hinton said outside the Jefferson County jail in Birmingham.

    Friends and family members rushed to embrace Hinton after his lawyers escorted him outside of the jail on Good Friday morning. His sisters wiped tears, saying “Thank you, Lord,” as they wrapped their arms around their brother.

    Equal Justice Initiative director Bryan Stevenson, who waged a 16-year fight for Hinton’s release, said while the day was joyous, the case was tragic.

    “Not only did he lose his life, he lived a life in solitary confinement on death row, condemned in a five-by-eight cell where the state was trying to kill him every day,” Stevenson said.

    Hinton was convicted of killing two fast-food restaurant workers – John Davidson and Thomas Wayne Vason – during separate 1985 robberies at Mrs Winner’s and Captain D’s restaurants in Birmingham. Investigators became interested in him after a survivor at a third restaurant robbery picked Hinton out of a photo lineup.

    The only evidence linking him to the slayings were bullets that state experts then said had markings that matched a .38-caliber revolver that belonged to Hinton’s mother. There were no fingerprints or eyewitness testimony.

    Stevenson said a defense analysis during appeal showed that bullets did not match the gun. He then tried in vain for years to persuade the state of Alabama to re-examine the evidence.

    A breakthrough came last year when he won a new trial after the US supreme court ruled Hinton’s trial counsel “constitutionally deficient”. His defense lawyer wrongly thought he had only $1,000 to hire a ballistics expert to rebut the state’s case. The only expert willing to take the job at that price – a one-eyed civil engineer with little ballistics training who admitted he had trouble operating the microscope – was obliterated on cross-examination.

    The Jefferson County district attorney’s office on Wednesday moved to drop the case after their forensics experts were unable to match crime-scene bullets to the gun.

    Stevenson called Hinton’s conviction a “case study” in what is wrong with the American justice system.

    “We have a system that treats you better if you are rich and guilty than if you are poor and innocent and this case proves it. We have a system that is compromised by racial bias and this case proves it. We have a system that doesn’t do the right thing when the right thing is apparent,” Stevenson said.

    “Prosecutors should have done this testing years ago.”

    The Alabama attorney general’s office declined to comment.

    Chief deputy district attorney John R Bowers Jr said three experts with the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences examined the bullets ahead of the anticipated retrial in the case.

    Bowers said all three reached the same conclusion: they couldn’t conclusively determine whether or not any of those bullets were fired from the revolver taken from Hinton’s home, or even if they had been fired from the same gun.

    Hinton planned to put flowers on his mother’s grave. After that comes the adjustment to the modern world after spending nearly half of his life in solitary confinement.

    “The world is a very different place than what it was 30 years ago,” Stevenson said. “There was no Internet. There was no email. I gave him an iPhone this morning. He’s completely mystified by that.”


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    Prisoners Protect Officer From Being Raped

    Inmates Who Stopped Rape of Prison Guard Prove They Have More Integrity Than Jailers

    by Jackson Marciana and M. David - March 4, 2015

    Police officers and prison guards alike routinely threaten suspects and inmate with “prison rape.” But recently, a group of inmates came to the rescue of a female correction officer who was almost raped inside a locked vestibule on Rikers Island.

    The incident happened Saturday night, according New York’s The Daily News.

    Inmates tore away the Plexiglas on the outside of the watch post “bubble” that was inside the Anna M. Kross Center at 8:15 p.m.

    One of the inmates who was particularly thin was able to slip inside the “A station” bubble and open the security door to allow in a crew of inmates who pried the would-be rapist, Raleek Young, 27, off of the female guard.

    Young weighs 290 pounds, and was not easy to fend off, as he pulled down his pants and began pleasuring himself while choking the officer, according to court records.

    Young is serving five-to-10-year for raping a 13-year-old girl back in 2007, court records also show.

    New York City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association President Norman Seabrook admitted that without the inmate’s quick response, the situation would have been much worse, and would likely have resulted in the officer’s rape and murder.

    “I appreciate [them] helping a sister officer because that could have been their mother, wife or sister,” Seabrook stated. He admitted that 90% of the inmates “are there to do their time and go home.”

    Why then are so many in prison both threatened with and subjected to sexual assault behind bars without corrections officers coming to their aid the way these inmates came to the aid of their jailer?


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    US cited for police violence, racism in scathing UN review on human rights

    US’ second review before UN Human Rights Council dominated by criticism over police violence against black men

    May 11, 2015 5:04PM ET

    The United States was slammed over its rights record Monday at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, with member nations criticizing the country for police violence and racial discrimination, the Guantánamo Bay Detention Facility and the continued use of the death penalty.
    The issue of racism and police brutality dominated the discussion on Monday during the country’s second universal periodic review (UPR). Country after country recommended that the U.S. strengthen legislation and expand training to eliminate racism and excessive use of force by law enforcement.

    "I'm not surprised that the world's eyes are focused on police issues in the U.S.," said Alba Morales, who investigates the U.S. criminal justice system at Human Rights Watch.

    "There is an international spotlight that's been shone [on the issues], in large part due to the events in Ferguson and the disproportionate police response to even peaceful protesters," she said.

    Anticipating the comments to come, James Cadogan, a senior counselor to the U.S. assistant attorney general, told delegates gathered in Geneva, "The tragic deaths of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Michael Brown in Missouri, Eric Garner in New York, Tamir Rice in Ohio and Walter Scott in South Carolina have renewed a long-standing and critical national debate about the even-handed administration of justice. These events challenge us to do better and to work harder for progress — through both dialogue and action."

    All of the names he mentioned are black men or boys who were killed by police officers or died shortly after being arrested. The events have sparked widespread anger and unrest over the past year.

    More @ http://america.aljazeera.com/article...eid=83e6bcb3fa

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    What If There Was No Video? White SC Officer Charged with Murder of Fleeing African-American Man

    A white South Carolina police officer has been charged with murder after a video showed him shooting an apparently unarmed African-American man who was running away. The killing happened Saturday morning after North Charleston police officer Michael Slager stopped Walter Scott for a broken brake light. On the video, Slager is seen shooting at Scott eight times as he tries to flee. The North Charleston Police Department had initially defended Slager after he said he feared for his life and claimed Scott had taken his Taser weapon. But the video shows Slager shot Scott in the back at a distance of about 15 feet. The video also appears to capture Slager planting an object next to Scott — possibly the Taser gun. The video does not appear to show Scott in possession of the officer’s stun gun at any time. We are joined by longtime South Carolina civil rights activist Kevin Alexander Gray, editor of the book "Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence."

    Video: http://www.democracynow.org/2015/4/8...eid=83e6bcb3fa


    This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: A South Carolina police officer has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder after cellphone video showed the officer shooting eight times at the back of a 50-year-old African-American man named Walter Scott, who was running away. The shooting occurred on Saturday morning after North Charleston police officer Michael Slager stopped Scott for a broken brake light. Walter Scott was a father of four who served for two years in the U.S. Coast Guard. Chris Stewart is an attorney for the Scott family.

    CHRIS STEWART: What if there was no video? What if there was no witness—or hero, as I call him—to come forward?

    JUDY SCOTT: Thank you, Lord.

    CHRIS STEWART: Then this wouldn’t have happened, because, as you can see, the initial reports stated something totally different. The officer said that Mr. Scott attacked him and pulled his Taser and tried to use it on him. But somebody was watching.

    JUDY SCOTT: Hallelujah.

    CHRIS STEWART: There was a witness that came forward with a video, and the initial reports were wrong.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: Before the video was posted online, the North Charleston Police Department and the officer’s attorney defended the use of deadly force. On Monday,The Post and Courier ran a report headlined, quote, "Attorney: North Charleston police officer felt threatened before fatal shooting." The paper reported, quote, "Police allege that during the struggle the man gained control of the Taser and attempted to use it against the officer. The officer then resorted to his service weapon and shot him, police alleged."

    AMY GOODMAN: But video showed the police officer shooting Walter Scott in the back at a distance of about 15 feet. In addition, the video appears to capture Officer Slager planting a Taser gun next to Scott. The video does not appear to show Scott in possession of the officer’s stun gun at any time. Initial police reports also claimed officers performed CPR and delivered first aid to Scott. But the video does not show this. Instead, the officer is seen handcuffing Scott as he remains face down after the shooting, not clear if he’s dead or dying. Another officer later brings a medical kit but is not seen administering CPR.

    On Tuesday, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey addressed the media after the video of Officer Michael Slager shooting Walter Scott was viewed by state investigators and a decision was made to charge Slager with murder.

    MAYOR KEITH SUMMEY: We’ve got 343 police officers in our department. This was a bad decision by one of those 343. And I think the lesson that we take out of this, and hopefully the general public takes out of it, is that when an incident occurs, give us the appropriate time to investigate, find out exactly what happened, and we will act accordingly.

    AMY GOODMAN: A recent study by The State newspaper in South Carolina found it is exceedingly rare for an officer to be found at fault criminally for shooting at someone. In the past five years, police in South Carolina have fired their weapons at 209 suspects. That’s in the past five years. None of the officers have been convicted. That is a person being shot in South Carolina by police once every few weeks, on average, for the last five years.

    Joining us now is longtime South Carolina civil rights activist Kevin Alexander Gray. He edited the book, Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence, and is author of Waiting for Lightning to Strike: The Fundamentals of Black Politics. He’s joining us from Columbia, South Carolina.

    Welcome back to Democracy Now! Can you first, Kevin, respond to this videotape that came out after an initial police report that this officer felt afraid, so he opened fire and killed Walter Scott?

    : Well, if you can get over your initial outrage, you have to commend of the mayor for acting swiftly and bringing charges against the police officer. Obviously, the video shows that the police lied. And that’s not uncommon for police to lie. It’s just lucky that there was someone there to film it. We have to ask the question about the officer’s partner. But it’s clear that the officer lied about what transpired in that parking lot, and—but at least the police department in North Charleston acted swiftly. Now they need to act on some reforms.

    They’ve got a population in North Charleston that’s 47 percent black, yet that police department is 80 percent white. We’ve got to go beyond talking about police reforming themselves. We’ve got to get serious about independent review boards. We’ve got to get serious about the policy on shoot to kill. We’ve got to get serious about whether or not we want ex-military as police officers. We need to take a serious look at just hiring people out of the military because they may have combat experience. Well, serving the people isn’t combat. The police are there to serve and protect, and if the police believe that by killing black people, by treating black people as subhuman, when they think no one’s looking, that that’s going to make their lives safer, it’s not.

    We’ve got to deal with this epidemic of police violence. White people in this country think that it’s just black folk getting killed, and they believe that black people, for the most part, are inherently criminal or, as we say, busted or bustable. And so, when you mention certain things, when you mention drugs, when you mention prior arrests, people turn a blind eye. But more whites get killed in this country by police.

    People better pay attention to this country becoming a police state. We need to tamp down this militarization of police departments. We need to look at the use of force and reform police departments across this country and start keeping track of the number of people that police are killing across this country. I believe it’s been reported that in the first three or four months of this year, over 300 people have been killed by police across this country—not just blacks, not just men, but men and women, people who are mentally ill. We have to take a serious look at how police are operating in this country right now.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Kevin Alexander Gray, do you think that the kind of police reform that you’re suggesting is likely to happen now, given the overwhelming evidence that was presented in this video?

    : Well, we still have to engage in some grassroots organizing. It used to be that the NAACP, at least in South Carolina, was the place that you reported police abuse. The NAACP and other organizations need to step up and reclaim that role of looking out for the citizens and taking these reports, so that we can know what’s going on out there in the community and act on it. But, you know, it takes mobilization. It takes people being involved. It takes people like the fellow who filmed this being courageous enough to provide footage. I’ve had people that have recorded police and were afraid to turn the footage over, because they were afraid of what the police might do when nobody is looking.

    So, you know, people have to be courageous. People have to hold police accountable. People have to hold the prosecutors accountable. People have to hold elected officials accountable. We need to start tracking how the police are operating in these communities. We need to know for certain how many people that the police are killing across this country. I think it’s estimated that police in the United States have killed, what, maybe 7,000 people since 2003, but no one really knows, because no one wants to keep records. We have to demand that the police keep records on every time they fire their weapons and what happens when those bullets leave those chambers.

    AMY GOODMAN: Walter Scott’s brother, Anthony, said his family is grateful for the witness who came forward with the video that led to the arrest of Officer Slager.

    ANTHONY SCOTT: And from the beginning, when it happened the first day, all we wanted was the truth. And I think, through the process, we’ve received the truth. And we can’t get my brother back, and my family is in deep mourning for that, but through the process of justice has been served. And I don’t think that all police officers are bad cops, but there are some bad ones out there, and I don’t want to see anyone get shot down the way that my brother got shot down.

    AMY GOODMAN: That’s Walter Scott’s brother, Anthony. It is quite astounding, Keith, that—Kevin, it’s quite astounding how brave this filmer was. I’m not going to say shooter, but we often say, you know, a person who’s taking the film is a shooter, but on the cellphone filming this and staying with it, not only filming him being shot at eight times—apparently five shots, I believe, went into his body, one pierced his heart—but the officer then handcuffing him as he’s face down on the ground, not clear if he’s dying or dead, goes away, sort of trots away, and gets this what looks like a stun gun, and it appears to be that he places it next to this dying or dead man who is face down on the ground, Kevin.

    KEVIN ALEXANDER GRAY: You know, it’s the idea, for the police officer, that the person shooting the film was invisible and the person he shot was a subhuman or an animal, that he would lie and say that the man tried to take his stun gun—and you can clearly see him planting this, going back and getting that stun gun and throwing it under his body—and then the way that he disrespected a man lying dead on the ground by handcuffing him. And people have to ask the question about him shooting that man running, shooting him in the back. Now, you know, according to the so-called American rugged individualist code, you know, to shoot someone in the back is scurrilous, you’re a coward. And, you know, that—what would have happened if he had shot someone, some innocent bystander? But, you know, I’m glad the young man was brave enough to film that officer’s actions and to call him out for the liar that he is.

    AMY GOODMAN: You know, they were right near an auto parts store. Apparently he was stopped for a traffic stop, Walter Scott was, for a tail light being out. And I wanted to go to the record of Officer Slager, the man who’s been charged with murder. I’m looking at an NBC News report. It says that he had two complaints against him. He was cleared of a complaint regarding use of force. In that case, a man named—alleged that Slager had used his Taser for no reason, slamming him to the ground in September of 2013. The officer was exonerated upon investigation, documents show. I guess the person in that case wasn’t lucky enough for someone to have had a video of what he was doing.

    : Well, and in the same case—in the same way, his partner backed him up. No one is talking about—although the other officer was black, that other officer came out there, and he co-signed basically on that bogus report. So we have to go back and really investigate that whole department. They’ve had allegations of having poor racial relations in North Charleston, as a lot of police departments that operate in predominantly black neighborhoods and especially lower-income neighborhoods. But as I said, it’s this idea for a lot of cops, especially racist, sadistic cops, that black people are subhuman, that they can talk to you any kind of way, that they can disrespect you at a traffic stop. And if, in fact, a traffic stop is going to be a situation where your life is in danger by someone who’s supposed be protecting you—and when you go back and look at the numbers, black people aren’t assaulting police officers. In the last, I think it’s five years, four police officers have been killed, but there’s no epidemic of violence against police officers in this country. And so, we have to look at how policing is being conducted across the board. This idea that police have the right to shoot to kill for charges that if they’re brought to trial would result in a misdemeanor charge—no one should receive the death penalty for a misdemeanor.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, let’s turn to North Charleston Chief of Police Eddie Driggers speaking Tuesday after North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey announced state investigators would charge Officer Michael Slager with the murder of Walter Scott.

    MAYOR KEITH SUMMEY: We’ve got 343 police officers in our department. This was a bad decision by one of those 343. And I think the lesson that we take out of this, and hopefully the general public takes out of it, is that when an incident occurs, give us the appropriate time to investigate, find out exactly what happened, and we will act accordingly.

    CHIEF EDDIE DRIGGERS: It’s been a tragic day for many, a tragic day for many. I’m sure the family is going through remorse over the loss of a loved one. And when you hear news, it’s still tragic, when you first get news just that we’ve been—gotten today.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: That was North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey, followed by the police chief. Your final comments, Kevin?

    KEVIN ALEXANDER GRAY: Well, if that film hadn’t come out, that police chief would have covered up this murder. And, you know, I’m supportive of the family, but justice isn’t served until the officer is adjudicated and found guilty of murder and sentenced to prison.

    AMY GOODMAN: Kevin Alexander Gray, we want to thank you for being with us, civil rights activist and community organizer in Columbia, South Carolina. He edited the book, Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence, and is the author ofWaiting for Lightning to Strike: The Fundamentals of Black Politics. When we come back, we go to Ferguson. Elections took place there. Then to Chicago, where elections also took place there. And then we’ll be speaking with Tavis Smiley about his journey with Maya Angelou. Stay with us.


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    Anti-Muslim speakers still popular in law enforcement training

    March 12, 2014

    Law enforcement officers in Virginia will no longer receive credit for a counterterrorism course taught by a former FBI agent and anti-Muslim activist after the academy where the course was taught canceled its accreditation the day it was scheduled to begin.

    Nevertheless, the three-day course with John Guandolo, which Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins vigorously defended, proceeded at nearby Germanna Community College late last month.

    Some 50 people, many from out of state, reportedly enrolled in the seminar, “Understanding and Investigating Jihadi Networks in America,” advertised as $225 per trainee.

    The Culpeper controversy is the latest law-enforcement training course to draw harsh criticism from Muslim groups who say agencies hire purported experts in Islam or counterterrorism who in fact have other agendas.

    While Muslim-American activists and media reports have raised awareness about anti-Muslim trainers, occasionally resulting in curriculum reviews and canceled classes, many say the problem persists because there are too few police administrators to properly vet courses and instructors.

    The consequences, critics add, go beyond political incorrectness and include undermining public safety and obscuring real dangers as police officers chase bad leads based on profiling.

    After 9/11, several anti-Muslim activists emerged, speaking about Islam to audiences at churches, synagogues, political organizations and universities. With the nation focused on homeland security, many anti-Muslim speakers began offering their courses to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, which paid for them with taxpayer-funded government grants.

    Nearly 13 years later, these speakers continue to win lucrative fees to train law enforcement officers despite a history of rhetoric that seems to undermine their credibility.

    For example, Guandolo, who taught the Culpeper class, is seen saying in a YouTube video with anti-Muslim blogger Robert Spencer that CIA Director John Brennan converted to Islam. In another recording, he claims that Brennan is “unfit for duty,” because he has brought in leaders of Hamas to advise the government.

    In addition, federal court papers claim that as an undercover FBI agent, Guandolo had a sexual affair with a witness that could have interfered with an investigation into corruption by former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, a Democrat from New Orleans.

    “His views on Islam are the equivalent of historical anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic falsehoods,” said Corey Saylor, national legislative director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, wrote in a letter to Jenkins. “Guandolo offers only his own prejudiced and inaccurate conspiratorial views, not solid counterterrorism training.”

    The Southern Poverty Law Center calls Guandolo “a notorious Muslim-basher and conspiracy theorist.”

    Guandolo did not agree to be interviewed but instead provided a reporter with a list of associations between founding members of CAIR and people alleged to be connected with Hamas.

    Other anti-Muslim activists who regularly teach police officers include Sam Kharoba, a Jordanian-born Christian who preaches that Islam is inherently violent and that a Muslim wearing a headband signifies he wants to be a martyr, and Walid Shoebat, a Christian convert who claims to be a former PLO terrorist. Shoebat believes terrorism and Islam are inseparable.

    “All Islamic organizations in America should be the No. 1 enemy. All of them,” he said.

    Spencer, founder of the JihadWatch.com blog and whose anti-Muslim writings were cited by Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, has given seminars on Islam and jihad to the U.S. Central Command, Army Command, the Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group, the FBI, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and the U.S. intelligence community, according to CAIR.

    In July 2011, Gawker reported two of Spencer’s most criticized books, “The Truth about Muhammad” and “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam,” are recommended in FBI training materials.

    Critics of these speakers have in some cases succeeded in getting their courses canceled. In Illinois, three sessions of a course taught by Kharoba were canceled last year; the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said it would no longer use Kharoba. In 2011, the FBI did a review of its materials and trainers after news reports that their materials contained anti-Islamic instruction.

    “I think the issues with them are reasonably well-known federally, but many state and local agencies do not know or do not care,” said Saylor.

    Jenkins declined an interview request.

    According to an editorial in his local paper, The Free-Lance Star, Jenkins became acquainted with Guandolo during a “two- or three-minute conversation,” and didn’t research him until Muslims and others protested. “What he learned did not dissuade the sheriff from moving ahead with the program,” the paper added.

    Prior to Guandolo’s course, Jenkins agreed to let local Muslims and Saylor deliver a presentation to officers where they described the history and beliefs of Islam, and warned about stereotypes and misperceptions about Muslims.

    “I think they looked at his resume, former FBI and former Marine, and did not look much further,” said Saylor. “A quick Internet search reveals his professional and bias issues.”

    Steve Emmons, executive director of Oklahoma’s Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training, said his agency doesn’t have enough personnel to vet the 3,000 course requests the council gets annually.

    “It’s not that we didn’t want to but it was because of the sheer number,” he said. Of his staff of 40, only one person is tasked with curriculum reviews, and only does that part time.


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    From Slavery to Mass Incarceration, Ava DuVernay's Film "13th" Examines Racist U.S. Justice System

    Ava DuVernay’s new documentary chronicles how our justice system has been driven by racism from the days of slavery to today’s era of mass incarceration. The film, "13th," is named for the constitutional amendment that abolished slavery with the exception of punishment for crime. The United States accounts for 5 percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of its prisoners. In 2014, more than 2 million people were incarcerated in the United States—of those, 40 percent were African-American men. According to the Sentencing Project, African-American males born today have a one-in-three chance of going to prison in their lifetimes if incarceration trends continue. We speak to Ava DuVernay. Her previous work includes the hit 2014 film "Selma." With "Selma," DuVernay became the first African-American female director to have a film nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.


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    Chicago Youth Protest Police Militarization and Anti-Muslim Training

    Local police forces get training in military tactics and anti-Muslim rhetoric.


    Yesterday Arab, Black, Latino, Asian, and Muslim youth protested the Illinois Tactical Officers Association (ITOA) training conference and weapons expo being held from October 9-13 at the Stonegate Banquet and Conference Centre in Hoffman Estates, just an hour outside of Chicago. The conference provides SWAT and “counter-terrorism” training for local police departments, state police and Homeland Security agents. The conference’s keynote speaker was Sebastian Gorka whose background includes being an anti-Muslim speaker and author, writer for the far right-wing website Breitbart News Network, and Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor.

    Youth representatives from multiple faith-based and human rights groups who sponsored the rally and march had already obtained 3,000 signatures on an online petition demanding that the Stonegate Banquet and Conference Center stop hosting the ITOA conference. One of the organizers indicated that attempts had been made to meet with the conference center manager without success. The rally at Millennium Park included speeches from the young organizers behind the #StopITOA campaign.

    Skanda Kadirgamar of the War Resisters League emphasized the ITOA conference giving police departments access to “more dangerous weapons on the belts of police officers and dangerous ideas into their heads…ITOA supporters capitalize on a culture of fear. This training actually represents an assault on the security and peace of mind of communities of color.”

    Sofia put the ITOA conference into the context of military violence against across the globe. The tactics they teach are the “night raids used to disrupt the comfort and safety of the people of Pakistan and Iraq. These tactics and technology have been used elsewhere and now it’s coming here…People have been lost. There are always civilian casualties that are remembered by numbers, we never hear their names… Whenever you hear words like ‘public safety’ we need to question that. Public safety meaning more police. The answer is always more violence. Public safety – whose safety is that?”

    Melisa Stephen, from For The People Artists Collective, questioned the government’s spending priorities. “We need resources for our communities, not the military-police complex. As another teacher strike in Chicago demands resources for our schools and more and more mental health crises and emergencies are responded to with military force and SWAT teams, the federal government pours tens of billion dollars into militarism and the use of force. Where are our priorities?”

    The group marched down the sidewalks of Michigan Avenue ostensibly to protest at the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) headquarters to “highlight the ways that Chicago taxpayers are subsidizing ITOA’s militarization and Islamophobia” but made some unscheduled stops along the way. The protestors stopped traffic at Michigan and Randolph by unfurling an orange

    plastic fence across the road, but continued marching when the police arrived. Once the march reached Michigan and Lake Street, a number of protestors sat down across Michigan Avenue and were chained together. The Chicago Police SWAT team arrived and after about an hour working on freeing the protestors they were arrested and taken to the station. Fifteen were arrested, charged with obstructing traffic misdemeanors, and released later that same night.
    One of the protestors explains the wider reach of their campaign against police militarization.

    In their statement of opposition to the ITOA conference, the #STOPITOA stated: “The Chicago Police Department has a history of collaborating with ITOA for tactical training, and ITOA has a long-standing relationship with the Cook County Department of Homeland Security. ITOA promotes its use of military tactics with toxic racism and Islamophobia…The conference will train local police and EMTs to operate ‘like tactical squads in the military’ and incorporate ‘new data and surveillance technology’ in their work, directly contributing to racialized law enforcement violence against communities of color in the Chicagoland area.

    While Chicago is still reeling from budget cuts that have resulted in the closure of over 50 public schools, mental health clinics, and severe cuts to social services, the city spends over $4 million a day on the Chicago police alone. ITOA is directly involved in training and arming those police, even using empty school buildings as training grounds for Cook County officers. Weapons manufacturers from around the world also use ITOA to sell military-grade equipment to local police forces–equipment that shocked the country when it was deployed against civilians in places like Ferguson, Minneapolis, and Baton Rouge (and is used regularly by repressive governments such as Israel).”

    Sebastian Gorka has been involved in training FBI and Special Forces personnel for a number of years. He was identified in a report by the Muslim Public Affairs Council as “one of the top 25 pseudo experts on Islam” along with Robert Spencer and Pamela Gellar.

    “While he is a noted expert on post-Communist democratization in Eastern Europe, as well as defense and national security issues, he has no training in Islamic studies and has made biased comments about Islam.

    For instance, in giving a backhanded compliment to Muslim Americans who helped law enforcement prevent a 2010 terrorist attack in Portland, Oregon, Gorka stated:

    “It’s those Muslims who are American citizens who take the U.S. Constitution seriously and who believe in the values of the U.S. Constitution, those people who understand the best that shariah, for example, is antithetical to the values of this great nation. So I think absolutely, the local community and those people who are patriotic Americans, but also Muslims will be one of the most important sources of intelligence for us.” (Emphasis added)

    Given the statements that Donald Trump has made about Muslims during the Presidential campaign, it is disturbing but not surprising that Gorka is his National Security Advisor.

    But the protestors were also demanding that the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management stop providing funding and resources to ITOA training that includes educating local law enforcement on how to be anti-Muslim.

    Before the protest, some #STOPITOA organizers reported harassment from individuals associated with the conference. After sharing a statement online about a teach-in on issues of police militarization in Illinois, they described many “trolls” making negative comments directed at one of the hosts of the Facebook event page. Another host began receiving multiple anonymous calls followed by immediate hang-ups at her workplace from a number in Maryland.

    But the most disturbing incident was the following:

    “Then, on the evening of Sunday, September 18th – less than a week after publicly launching the #StopITOA campaign – my office was broken into overnight, with several locks picked, multiple locked doors damaged, and drawers rummaged through. My laptop and cameras were the only items taken, despite being in a locked cabinet, while numerous other computers and expensive technology sat out in the open. Ironically, even CPD – who were called by the office manager to submit a police report for insurance purposes – acknowledged that I was the presumable target if only my belongings were taken.”

    The organizers ignored the harassment and attempts at intimidation continuing their planning for the rally and protest.

    The #STOPITOA group has also organized a call-in campaign to the Centre’s manager threatening a boycott of the venue until the Stonegate centre stops hosting the ITOA conference.



    Police, Militarization, and Islamophobia: 4 Things to Remember


    1. Hyper-militarization is the present and future of police and law enforcement in America

    The militarization of police and policing within the United States has been steadily increasing since the beginning of the “War on Drugs” and has only since accelerated with the “War on Terror.” Violent military equipment previously used by the American military, foreign dictatorships, and apartheid regimes in war, occupation, and genocide are now “coming home” and being placed in the hands of America’s police and law enforcement to use against those within its own borders.

    The “1033” program which is passed by the Department of Defense every year–and signed by Obama–gives the Pentagon a budget to give “surplus military equipment” that is “left over from U.S. military campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere” to local law enforcement agencies to use at their will–and at incredibly little cost, if any.

    The “1033” program which is passed by the Department of Defense every year–and signed by Obama–gives the Pentagon a budget to give “surplus military equipment” that is “left over from U.S. military campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere” to local law enforcement agencies to use at their will–and at incredibly little cost, if any.What does this mean for us? Among countless other things, it means an influx of military-grade weaponry into our communities. It means increased police shootings of Black people and Indigenous people. It means amplified baseless surveillance of Muslim communities. It means increased harassment and repression of activists working to challenge state oppression. It means less funding for education and mental health services. And it means more government collaboration with weapons and arms manufacturers who profit from occupation, imperialism, surveillance, and increased state control and repression.

    The corporate sponsor for this year’s ITOA conference was Safariland, a massive weapons manufacturer whose teargas and weapons have been used from Israeli apartheid and military dictatorships to Ferguson, Missouri. While teargas now seems like a normalized part of “crowd control” tactics against peaceful protesters in the USA, it has been classified as a chemical weapon by the United Nations and banned in international conflict at the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993. What America’s military is “not allowed” to used abroad, local police use–while massive weapons manufacturers such as Safariland continue to profit from the resulting violence.But an accelerated trend of hyper-militarization does not stop at law enforcement: tactical, militarized trainings at the ITOA conference were also held for emergency medical technicians (EMTs)–i.e. our health care providers and clinicians. The movement to militarize means government funding itself focuses on violence than meeting community needs. While tactical trainings are required for Chicago Police Department, mental health training is optional–despite the fact that countless police shootings in the USA are in response to mental health crises.Right now, law enforcement agencies across the country are receiving hyper-militarized, anti-Muslim tactical training not only by ITOA and similar associations and organizations across the country, but also by apartheid military regimes. The lines between local law enforcement and the military are ever-more blurring and merging.And it gets worse. Here are 11 more Shocking Facts About America’s Militarized Police Force.

    2. Funding for militarization is taking away resources from our communities.

    An increase of police and law enforcement into the community means more funding for militarization and less funding for community needs.The long-withstanding and intimate relationship ITOA has with our tax-paid government agencies is emblematic of where priorities are in respect to funding. While this year’s ITOA conference was not directly funded by DHSEM, the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) has sponsored countless tactical trainings with ITOA for local and regional SWAT and law enforcement. Moreover, the current Executive Director of Cook County DHSEM is Ernest Brown who, along with being accused of sexual assault, is also himself a member of ITOA.Therefore, funding for hyper-militarized police trainings are largely tax-paid, becoming a massive slap in the face for Muslim communities, Black communities, and communities of color in particular, as they are paying for the baseless surveillence, senseless shootings, and endless violence by the state against their own selves and communities.And it gets worse. These militarized trainings are taking place in exactly some of the same community locations that are being closed due to “budget deficits”–closed schools, primarily on the Southside (where there exists already a lack of government funding for education, among other needs)–are being used as training grounds for police and SWAT.Currently, the Chicago Police Department already consumes 40% of the city budget–and it is only predicted to increase. Just last month, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that he plans on hiring 1,000 new law enforcement personnel over the next two years, although he remains “unclear” on where the funding for their extra $135 million annual costs will come from. Although we can take a guess.While the argument in favor of increased funding for police equates doing so with increased levels of safety, it is important to ask–increased safety for whom? With police shootings of Black people and Indigenous people only increasing, anti-Muslim fear-mongering fueling local militarization and surveillance, over 100 SWAT raids happening daily, and war-like equipment being used against impoverished communities and communities of color, who is befitting from hyper-militarization of police? And how much funding is being burned with it?If the solution is to lower crime, why not increase funding instead for education, libraries, and community resources that lend themselves to the growth and success of a community? When almost half of all of those killed by police have some sort of disability, why is funding going to increase a police force that clearly doesn’t know how to deal with mental health rather than increasing funding for mental health facilities? Why wait for a social issue to arise and deal with it violently rather than work to address the root cause?If how to end violence is the question, the answer is definitely not cutting funding education and mental health services and giving it to fund militarized law enforcement and bring an influx of internationally-banned weaponry into our communities.

    3. Islamophobia is fueling police militarization

    Along with physical and direct funding from tax-paid government agencies, what else is fueling this hyper-militarization of law enforcement?The choice for this year’s ITOA conference keynote speaker is a clear example of the ideological funding of militarization: Sebastian Gorka is a far-right extremist, Trump adviser, and so-called “national security expert.” His career has been largely built from creating and spreading anti-Muslim propaganda in hyper-militarized local, federal, and international institutions and settings–all while using Islamophobia as an excuse to continue to build up and fund militarization both domestically and abroad.Post-9/11 fear-mongering of an “ever-looming threat of radical Islam” is the new norm of America’s political, media, and policing culture. Creating a false threat of “radical Islam” always around the corner establishes a culture of fear that is then used to leverage government agencies to increase spending on military-style weapons (the same equipment used to kill Muslims “over there”) to “protect” the United States domestically. Of course, these weapons are then of course used disproportionately against Black communities, Muslim communities, and impoverished communities of color, despite the fact that white, right-wing extremists “are a bigger threat to American than ISIS.”Law enforcement’s Islamophobic-infused tactical training is already evident not only in the countless cases of police violence against Muslims, but was also clearly on display at the #StopITOA blockade on Sunday when the Chicago Police Department, Fire Department, and SWAT responded to the 15 #StopITOA protesters–two of which were either Muslim or Arab and were subject to various form of additional racial profiling.And as mentioned in no. 1 on this list, the ITOA conference, and countless others like it, give militarized training by anti-Muslim speakers not only just to law enforcement (which is already bad enough), but also medical professionals and government personnel who frequently are invited to attend and engage with the conference. The whole process is a vicious cycle which poses a direct and tangible threat to Muslim communities, Black communities, and communities of color.

    4. Intersectional solidarity is vital for challenging hyper-militarization

    Because the ITOA conference and the greater culture of racism and anti-Muslim militarization it helps to fuel and propel deeply affects so many different communities, the movement to challenge and call for an end to such cycles and systems must also be rooted in intersectional solidarity work. The #StopITOA campaign successfully brought together young activists who are Muslim, Black, immigrant, indigenous, migrant, working-class, undocumented, white, Asians, queer and trans, and of communities of color. The campaign’s statement of opposition was endorsed by over 20 different organizations, including Assata’s Daughters, For the People Artists Collective, American Friends Service Committee-Chicago, the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Chicago, Black Lives Matter-Chicago, Organized Communities Against Deportations, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, and the Arab American Action Network, among others.Along with organizing and executing the act of civil disobedience on October 9th, the #StopITOA campaign also collected over 3,000 signatures on a petition calling on Stonegate to drop the ITOA conference, organized a teach-in to promote community education and discussion, held a press conference, and created a website with information and resources for anyone interested in learning more or getting involved.ITOA and its 29th annual conference is just one small example where hyper-militarization fueled by Islamophobia and supported by tax-paid agencies is able to flourish. Countless tactical training conferences like these take place across the country, and similar efforts like the #StopITOA continue to work to challenge the toxic and harmful culture they perpetuate.Anti-Muslim-fueled hyper-militarization continues to blend the lines between local policing and the military, and doing so requires more and more funding taken from community resources and given to companies and corporations that profit from violence–locally and abroad.



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