Category Archives: Civil Rights

Police Officer Charged with Murder of Unarmed Man

My son's car is being repaired and I had to pick him up after classes today. He explained how today had been a particularly good day because two of his professors had very interesting guest speakers in class. One of those speakers was a police officer and childhood friend of the professor. The officer explained how most cops are good and how he the and professor had grown up in a ruff area and were frequently harassed by police. His motivation for becoming an officer was to make changes from the inside. 

Unfortunately, shortly after our ride home, the news of yet another shooting and killing of an unarmed person by police was on the news. As I have stated before, I believe that most cops are good cops, but good cops aren't the problem. There is a major problem with the way some officers target and interact with members of the black community.

A police officer with the North Charleston, SC Police Department, was arrested today, Tuesday April 7th, for a shooting that took place Saturday morning after a traffic stop concerning a brake light. The officer, Michael Slager, claimed he had feared for his life because the man had taken his stun gun during a scuffle after the traffic stop. His arrest took place after a video surfaced that shows him shooting an unarmed man eight times who was running away.

Walter L. Scott, a 50 year old Coast Guard veteran and father of four, who family members said was preparing to get married was identified as the victim. Five of the eight bullets hit Scott, his family’s attorney said; four of those struck his back, the other hit an ear.

 

"I can tell you that as the result of that video and the bad decision made by our officer, he will be charged with murder," North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey told reporters Tuesday. "When you're wrong, you're wrong. And if you make a bad decision — don't care if you're behind the shield or just a citizen on the street — you have to live by that decision." 

Unfortunately, it takes someone taking a video at the exact moment of a police shooting before its considered a bad decision or a possibility that a crime was committed. When police are not held accountable for their questionable behavior, it encourages other officers to commit even bolder acts. For years, rouge cops have been getting away with what have been blatant abuses of power and using deadly force unnecessarily. 

Michael Slager didn't even hesitate to shot, because most likely he felt his story of feeling threatened would be believed. Two people filed complaints against Slager during his time with the force, including one man who said the policeman shot him with a Taser for no reason in September 2013.

A woman who witnessed the 2013 incident and gave her account to the investigators at the time, and told a newspaper reporter that Slager pulled Mario Givens, who was clad in boxer shorts, from his home and shot him with a Taser. Internal investigators exonerated Slager of any wrongdoing, even though the suspect in that case was never arrested.

Attorney David Aylor, who released a statement on Slager’s behalf earlier this week, said Tuesday that he wasn’t representing the officer anymore.

I will be fifty years old in August, the same age as the victim. It's bad enough having watch out for criminals, but having to fear normal interactions with the police only adds insult to injury. I understand some people reading this will think, but what about all the other killings being committed?

Other than murders that occur during the heat of passion, most murders are committed by criminals participating in illegal or illicit behavior. They do not have the public trust and most people when being approached on the street by a stranger has a heightened sense of awareness and mentally sizes up the stranger to determine the appropriate level of precaution. When threatened by a stranger or criminal, a person may take defensive action to protect themselves. 

A person doesn't feel a sense of obligation to engage with a stranger and can therefore avoid some potentially dangerous situations. However, a police officer has public trust and more importantly government sanctioned authority over you and openly carries a weapon. A person feels compelled to follow the instructions and direction of a police office and therefore will automatically interact with the police officer, even during a chance encounter on the street.

When a person feels threatened by a police officer, they are less likely to take defensive actions; and even if they did, most likely the police version or assessment of the situation will be believed over the citizen's. If a person uses deadly force to protect them self from a rouge officer, that person will certainly be charged with murder. The only viable option available to an innocent person being threatened by a police officer is the flee, however, that very act of running away will be used to justify deadly force against them.

Below is a longer version of the video of Mr. Scott being killed. After you watch it, I want you to consider whether most people, including yourself, would have believed the officer's version that his life was in danger, if this video didn't exist.

Victoria Middleton, executive director of the ACLU of South Carolina, urged state and federal officials to start a broad probe into North Charleston police policies, training and allegations of racial profiling. Past calls for such an investigation have been met with no response, she said.

Update: 4-9-2015

The dash cam video from Michael Slager's squad car was released today. The video shows Walter Scott, exiting and running. Based upon what's visible in the dash cam video, there doesn't appear to be any apparent reason for Mr. Scott to take of running the way he did. The dash cam indicates that Slager's approach and demeanor appear to be appropriate. Mr. Scott running the way he did certainly appears to have escalated the situation and it will certainly be argued that he would still be alive if he had not run. There appears to be a passenger in the car with Mr. Scott and hopefully he will be able to provide some reason or explanation for Mr. Scott's behavior. Based solely on the dash cam, Mr. Scott made a poor decision and was in the wrong. However, what has been shown in the shooting video, Mr. Slager made a worse decision and there was no justification for a trained police officer to use deadly force in that situation and in that manner. Mr. Slager certainly new the dash cam video would have supported his lie about believing himself to be in danger.

 

President Obama’s 50th Anniversary ‘Bloody Sunday’ Selma Speech

President Obama delivered a magnificent speech at the 50th aniversary of  'Bloody Sunday' in Selma, Alabama at the Edmond Pettus Bridge. The President mentioned the Ferguson Protest in the same spirit as Selma and discussed the DOJ Ferguson Investigation report.

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., John Lewis returned to Selma to speaks at the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday”. 50 years after John Lewis was beaten, he introduced President Obama on the very bridge where he was beaten.


The History of "Bloody Sunday"

The three Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 were part of the Selma Voting Rights Movement and led to the passage that year of the Voting Rights Act, a landmark federal achievement of the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement. Activists publicized the three protest marches to walk the 54-mile highway from Selma to the Alabama state capital of Montgomery as showing the desire of black American citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote, in defiance of segregationist repression.

A series of discriminatory requirements and practices disenfranchised most of the millions of African Americans across the South since the turn of the century. The African American group known as The Dallas County Voters League (DCVL) launched a voters registration campaign in Selma in 1963. Joined by organizers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), they began working that year in a renewed effort to register black voters. Finding resistance by white officials to be intractable, even after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended segregation, the DCVL invited Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the activists of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to join them. SCLC brought many prominent civil rights and civic leaders to Selma in January 1965. Local and regional protests began, with 3,000 people arrested by the end of February.

On February 26, 1965, activist and deacon Jimmie Lee Jackson died after being mortally shot several days earlier by a state trooper during a peaceful march in Marion, Alabama. To defuse and refocus the community's outrage, SCLC Director of Direct Action James Bevel, who was directing SCLC's Selma Voting Rights Movement, called for a march of dramatic length, from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery. Bevel had been working on his Alabama Project for voting rights since late 1963.

The first march took place on March 7, 1965. Bevel, Amelia Boynton, and others helped organize it. The march recently gained the nickname "Bloody Sunday" (a term more commonly applied to an analagous incident in Northern Ireland dating from 1972) after its 600 marchers were attacked at the Edmund Pettus Bridge after leaving Selma; state troopers and county posse attacked the unarmed marchers with billy clubs and tear gas. Law enforcement beat Boynton unconscious; media publicized a picture of her lying wounded on the bridge worldwide.

The second march took place March 9. Troopers, police, and marchers confronted each other, but when the troopers stepped aside to let them pass, King led the marchers back to the church. He was seeking protection by a federal court for the march. That night, a white group beat and murdered civil rights activist James Reeb, a Unitarian Universalis minister from Boston, who had come to Selma to march in the second march. Many other clergy and sympathizers from across the country also attended the second march.

The violence of "Bloody Sunday" and of Reeb's death led to a national outcry and some acts of civil disobedience, targeting both the Alabama state and federal governments. The protesters demanded protection for the Selma marchers and a new federal voting rights law to enable African Americans to register and vote without harassment. President Lyndon Johnson, whose administration had been working on a voting rights law, held a televised joint session of Congress on March 15 to ask for the bill's introduction and passage.

With Governor Wallace refusing to protect the marchers, President Johnson committed to do so. The third march started March 21. Protected by 2,000 soldiers of the U.S. Army, 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard under Federal command, and many FBI agents and Federal Marshals, the marchers averaged 10 miles (16 km) a day along U.S. Route 80, known in Alabama as the "Jefferson Davis Highway". The marchers arrived in Montgomery on March 24 and at the Alabama State Capitol on March 25. With thousands having joined the campaign, 25,000 people entered the capital city that day in support of voting rights.

The route is memorialized as the Selma To Montgomery Voting Rights Trail, and is a U.S. National Historic Trail.


For those that think it's too much trouble to protect and preserve your rights in court, consider how much trouble those that came before us went through that fought and died so that you could have privileges that you now take for granted.

Eight days after "Bloody Sunday", President Lyndon Johnson addressed Congress and the American People and delivered his Voting Rights Speech.

 

Pattern of Civil Rights Violations by the Ferguson PD

Watch the video of Attorney General Eric Holder discussing DOJ Ferguson investigation findings

 

The DOJ Ferguson Investigation Report (PDF) Format | The DOJ Michael Brown Death, Darren Wilson Shooting Investigation Report (PDF)

Justice Department Finds a Pattern of Civil Rights Violations by the Ferguson Police Department

The Justice Department announced the findings of its two civil rights investigations related to Ferguson, Missouri, on Wednesday March 4, 2015.  The Justice Department found that the Ferguson Police Department (FPD) engaged in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the First, Fourth, and 14th Amendments of the Constitution.  The Justice Department also announced that the evidence examined in its independent, federal investigation into the fatal shooting of Michael Brown does not support federal civil rights charges against Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.

“As detailed in our report, this investigation found a community that was deeply polarized, and where deep distrust and hostility often characterized interactions between police and area residents,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.  “Our investigation showed that Ferguson police officers routinely violate the Fourth Amendment in stopping people without reasonable suspicion, arresting them without probable cause, and using unreasonable force against them.  Now that our investigation has reached its conclusion, it is time for Ferguson’s leaders to take immediate, wholesale and structural corrective action.  The report we have issued and the steps we have taken are only the beginning of a necessarily resource-intensive and inclusive process to promote reconciliation, to reduce and eliminate bias, and to bridge gaps and build understanding.” 

“While the findings in Ferguson are very serious and the list of needed changes is long, the record of the Civil Rights Division’s work with police departments across the country shows that if the Ferguson Police Department truly commits to community policing, it can restore the trust it has lost,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division.  “We look forward to working with City Officials and the many communities that make up Ferguson to develop and institute reforms that will focus the Ferguson Police Department on public safety and constitutional policing instead of revenue.  Real community policing is possible and ensures that all people are equal before the law, and that law enforcement is seen as a part of, rather than distant from, the communities they serve.”

Attorney General Holder first announced the comprehensive pattern or practice investigation into the Ferguson Police Department after visiting that community in August 2014, and hearing directly from residents about police practices and the lack of trust between FPD and those they are sworn to protect.  The investigation focused on the FPD’s use of force, including deadly force; stops, searches and arrests; discriminatory policing; and treatment of detainees inside Ferguson’s city jail by Ferguson police officers.

In the course of its pattern or practice investigation, the Civil Rights Division reviewed more than 35,000 pages of police records; interviewed and met with city, police and court officials, including the FPD’s chief and numerous other officers; conducted hundreds of in-person and telephone interviews, as well as participated in meetings with community members and groups; observed Ferguson Municipal Court sessions, and; analyzed FPD’s data on stops, searches and arrests.  It found that the combination of Ferguson’s focus on generating revenue over public safety, along with racial bias, has a profound effect on the FPD’s police and court practices, resulting in conduct that routinely violates the Constitution and federal law.  The department also found that these patterns created a lack of trust between the FPD and significant portions of Ferguson’s residents, especially African Americans. 

The department found that the FPD has a pattern or practice of:

  • Conducting stops without reasonable suspicion and arrests without probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment;

  • Interfering with the right to free expression in violation of the First Amendment; and

  • Using unreasonable force in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The department found that Ferguson Municipal Court has a pattern or practice of:

  • Focusing on revenue over public safety, leading to court practices that violate the 14th Amendment’s due process and equal protection requirements.

  • Court practices exacerbating the harm of Ferguson’s unconstitutional police practices and imposing particular hardship upon Ferguson’s most vulnerable residents, especially upon those living in or near poverty.Minor offenses can generate crippling debts, result in jail time because of an inability to pay and result in the loss of a driver’s license, employment, or housing.

The department found a pattern or practice of racial bias in both the FPD and municipal court:

  • The harms of Ferguson’s police and court practices are borne disproportionately by African Americans and that this disproportionate impact is avoidable.

  • Ferguson’s harmful court and police practices are due, at least in part, to intentional discrimination, as demonstrated by direct evidence of racial bias and stereotyping about African Americans by certain Ferguson police and municipal court officials.

The findings are laid out in a 100-page report that discusses the evidence and what remedies should be implemented to end the pattern or practice. The findings include two sets of recommendations, 26 in total, that the Justice Department believes are necessary to correct the unconstitutional FPD and Ferguson Municipal Court practices.  The recommendations include: changing policing and court practices so that they are based on public safety instead of revenue; improving training and oversight; changing practices to reduce bias, and; ending an overreliance on arrest warrants as a means of collecting fines.

The Justice Department will require that the recommendations and other measures be part of a court-enforceable remedial process that includes involvement from community stakeholders as well as independent oversight.  The Justice Department has provided its investigative report to the FPD and in the coming weeks, the Civil Rights Division will seek to work with the City of Ferguson and the Ferguson community to develop and reach an agreement for reform, using the recommendations in the report as the starting point.      

The federal criminal investigation into the fatal shooting of Michael Brown sought to determine whether the evidence from the events that led to Brown’s death was sufficient to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Wilson’s actions violated federal civil rights laws that make it a federal crime for someone acting with law enforcement authority to willfully violate a person’s civil rights.  As part of the investigation, federal authorities reviewed physical, ballistic, forensic, and crime scene evidence; medical reports and autopsy reports, including an independent autopsy performed by the U.S. Department of Defense Armed Forces Medical Examiner Service; Wilson’s personnel records; audio and video recordings; internet postings, and; the transcripts from the proceedings before the St. Louis County grand jury.  Federal investigators interviewed purported eyewitnesses and other individuals claiming to have relevant information.  Federal prosecutors and agents re-interviewed dozens of witnesses to evaluate their accounts and obtain more detailed information.  FBI agents independently canvassed more than 300 residences to locate and interview additional witnesses.

The standard of proof is the same for all criminal cases: that the defendant committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.  However, unlike state laws, federal criminal civil rights statutes do not have the equivalent of manslaughter or a statute that makes negligence a crime.  Federal statutes require the government to prove that Officer Wilson used unreasonable force when he shot Michael Brown and that he did so willfully, that is, he shot Brown knowing it was wrong and against the law to do so.  After a careful and deliberative review of all of the evidence, the department has determined that the evidence does not establish that Darren Wilson violated the applicable federal criminal civil rights statute.  The family of Michael Brown was notified earlier today of the department’s findings. 

Due to the high interest in this case, the department took the rare step of publicly releasing the closing memo in the case.  The report details, in over 80 pages, the evidence, including evidence from witnesses, the autopsies and physical evidence from the analysis of the DNA, blood, shooting scene and ballistics.  The report also explains the law as developed by the federal courts and applies that law to the evidence.

 

Friendship Nine

The Friendship Nine was a group of African American men who went to jail after staging a sit-in at a segregated McCrory's lunch counter in Rock Hill, South Carolina in 1961. The group gained nationwide attention because they followed an untried strategy called "Jail, No Bail", which lessened the huge financial burden civil rights groups were facing as the sit-in movement spread across the South. They became known as the Friendship Nine because eight of the nine men were students at Rock Hill's Friendship Junior College. They are sometimes referred to as the Rock Hill Nine.

Today, after 54 years of being labled as "Felons", The Friendship Nine were officially exonerated in court. Martin Luther King Jr. stated, "Justice too long delayed, is justice denied". Although, I am glad that these men's names have finally been cleared, the fact that it took so long to do so is a complete failure of justice. Most likely in the future, say 20, 30 or even 50 years from now, there will most likely be a story of someone wrongly convicted in 2015 finally getting justice.

There are too many stories of men, some of whom have spent half of their lifetime in jail, because they have been wrongly convicted of crimes. Learn to fight for your rights and get justice today, so people won't have to celebrate 50 years from now that justice has finally reached you.

Grand Jury Decision in Eric Garner disgraceful

Yet another grand jury deciding white police officers should not be indicted for the killing an unarmed black man. This time the victim denied justice was a non violent grandfather from New York. This is why everyone needs to learn their rights and how to invoke them properly.

For those unfamiliar with the situation, Eric Garner according to witnesses broke up a fight prior to police arriving. The two involved in the fight walked away as police approached, but Mr. Garner stayed. Mr. Garner was subsequently accused of selling regular tobacco cigerettes individually rather than by the pack, which is illegally in New York. The police seemingly did not witness Mr. Garner selling cigerettes and Mr. Garner tries to plead his case that he did not sell anything. The video does not show Mr. Garner taking a fighting or agressive stance, he simply states he does not want to be arrested for something he did not do. Watch the video below for yourself shot by Mr. Garner's friend, which is the voice you hear narrating the video in real time.

Black Concentration Camps?

Food for thought

In anticipation of the Darren Wilson grand jury decision, the governor has declared a state of emergency, photos of hidden federal police vehicles parked at a hotel garage were posted on social media resulting in the firing of the hotel employee who posted the pictures, the national guard has been activated and a general sense of apprehension has gripped the area.

The video below which discusses the controversial "King Alfred Plan" a plan to control and or eliminate black and other people during civil unrest is offered as food for thought especially concerning the recent militarized police response to a mostly peaceful protest.

I am not certain when this lecture was given, but the reference to Colin Powell being the current Secretary of State, suggest during the Bush administration. Bush accepted Powell's resignation in November 2004, so this video is most likely more than a decade old. Compare the predictions with what is happening in response to the Ferguson Protest.

Rex84

Rex 84, short for Readiness Exercise 1984, was a classified scenario and drill developed by the United States federal government to detain large numbers of American citizens deemed to be "national security threats", in the event that the President declared a "State of National Emergency". The plan was first revealed in detail in a major daily newspaper by reporter Alfonso Chardy in the July 5, 1987, edition of the Miami Herald.

The existence of a master military contingency plans (of which REX-84 was a part), "Garden Plot" and a similar earlier exercise, "Lantern Spike", were originally revealed by journalist Ron Ridenhour, who summarized his findings in an article in CounterSpy. Rex 84 was similar to a plan in a 1970 report written by FEMA chief Louis Giuffrida, while at the Army War College, which proposed the detention of up to 21 million "American Negroes" if there were a black militant uprising in the United States.

Transcripts from the Iran-Contra Hearings in 1987 record the following dialogue between Congressman Jack Brooks, Oliver North's attorney Brendan Sullivan and Senator Daniel Inouye, the Democratic Chair of the joint Senate-House Committee: 

[Congressman Jack] Brooks: Colonel North, in your work at the N.S.C. were you not assigned, at one time, to work on plans for the continuity of government in the event of a major disaster?
Brendan Sullivan [North’s counsel, agitatedly]: Mr. Chairman?
[Senator Daniel] Inouye: I believe that question touches upon a highly sensitive and classified area so may I request that you not touch upon that?
Brooks: I was particularly concerned, Mr. Chairman because I read in Miami papers, and several others, that there had been a plan developed, by that same agency, a contingency plan in the event of emergency, that would suspend the American constitution. And I was deeply concerned about it and wondered if that was an area in which he had worked. I believe that it was and I wanted to get his confirmation.
Inouye: May I most respectfully request that that matter not be touched upon at this stage. If we wish to get into this, I'm certain arrangements can be made for an executive session.

Contingency plans by the US Government for rounding up people perceived by the government to be subversive or a threat to civil order have existed for many decades.[8] For example, from 1967 to 1971, the FBI kept a list of over 100,000 people to be rounded up as subversive, dubbed the "ADEX" list.

Public Policy Memorandum 23 (PP23)

Memo by George Kennan, Head of the US State Department Policy Planning Staff. Written February 28, 1948, Declassified June 17, 1974. George Kennan

National Security Study Memorandum 200

National Security Study Memorandum 200: Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests (NSSM200) was completed on December 10, 1974, by the United States National Security Council under the direction of Henry Kissinger. It was adopted as official U.S. policy by President Gerald Ford in November 1975. It was originally classified but was later declassified and obtained by researchers in the early 1990s.

The basic thesis of the memorandum was that population growth in the least developed countries (LDCs) is a concern to U.S. national security because it would tend to risk civil unrest and political instability in countries that had a high potential for economic development. The policy gives "paramount importance" to population control measures and the promotion of contraception among 13 populous countries. This is to control rapid population growth which the US deems inimical to the socio-political and economic growth of these countries and to the national interests of the United States, since the "U.S. economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad", and these countries can produce destabilizing opposition forces against the United States.

It recommends that U.S. leadership "influence national leaders" and that "improved world-wide support for population-related efforts should be sought through increased emphasis on mass media and other population education and motivation programs by the UN, USIA, and USAID."

Named countries

Thirteen countries are named in the report as particularly problematic with respect to U.S. security interests: India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Turkey, Nigeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil. These countries are projected to create 47 percent of all world population growth.
The report advocates the promotion of education and contraception and other population control measures, stating for instance that "No country has reduced its population growth without resorting to abortion". It also raises the question of whether the U.S. should consider the preferential allocation of surplus food supplies to states that are deemed constructive in the use of population control measures.

Presidential Review Memorandum 46 

The document on the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library website is purported to be a forged document, titled Presidential Review Memorandum 46.