Tag Archives: Merrick Garland

Facebook Removing Posts About Mailing Abortion Pills—But Not Guns

“Corporations are not your allies in the advancement of civil rights,” said one observer.

By Kenny Stancil  Published 6-28-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Trusted Reviews/CC

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s reactionary majority struck down Roe v. Wade last Friday, Facebook and Instagram have been swiftly removing posts informing people that they can obtain federally approved abortion pills through the mail while ignoring posts offering to mail guns.

An Associated Press reporter’s Facebook post that said, “If you send me your address, I will mail you abortion pills,” was removed within one minute on Monday, according to the news outlet. Continue reading

Share Button

‘Senselessly Unjust’: Ex-Chicago Cop Who Killed Laquan McDonald Released From Prison

The Justice Department is facing pressure to bring federal charges against Jason Van Dyke, who served less than half of his 81-month sentence after being convicted of second-degree murder.

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 2-3-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: C. Presutti/VOA

Critics of police violence toward Black Americans expressed outrage as Jason Van Dyke, the former Chicago cop who killed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014, was released Thursday after serving just over three years in prison for a state murder charge.

“A white officer who murdered a 17-year-old Black child by firing 16 shots into his body is walking free today after just three years behind bars. Think about that. Just three years for a violent, vicious attack that killed a child,” tweeted Kina Collins, a Democratic candidate running to represent Illinois’ 7th Congressional District, which includes part of Chicago.

A Cook County, Illinois jury found Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery in October 2018. He was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison the following January. The judge’s decision to merge all charges for sentencing was significant because the 16 battery counts each had a mandatory minimum of a six-year prison term.

“An 81-month sentence for the gruesome murder of a child was inadequate in the first place,” said Collins. “For Van Dyke to walk free in less than half that time is senselessly unjust.”

WGN TV reports that Chicago activists “plan on holding a ‘large demonstration’ in Federal Plaza Thursday around 4:00 pm to express their displeasure, with at least 15 social and civil rights groups pledging their attendance.”

Leading up to Van Dyke’s release this week, activists, the NAACP, and political figures have urged the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to update the public on an investigation that was announced in April 2015 and to pursue federal charges against the convicted murderer.

“We’ve been crying aloud for federal charges on Jason Van Dyke for the past three years,” community organizer William Calloway told WGN TV. “It shouldn’t take this to happen, to be on the cusp of his release, to get federal charges pressed on him.”

Tracie Hunter, McDonald’s grandmother, said of Van Dyke that “this man doesn’t need to get out. We are seeking federal charges. The time he did wasn’t enough.”

Collins, in her Thursday morning Twitter thread, said that “I’m calling on U.S. Attorney John Lausch Jr. and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to intervene and bring federal charges against Jason Van Dyke to ensure that he is held accountable.”

The congressional candidate also blasted former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s recent confirmation as U.S. ambassador to Japan. U.S. Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) on Wednesday similarly slammed Emanuel’s new post and called for federal charges against Van Dyke.

Bush also shared a letter that NAACP leaders sent to Garland Tuesday which said the “lack of resolution” in the investigation coupled with the release of the “disgraced” ex-cop is “clearly alarming” and “has given rise to very vocal concerns and unrest” in Chicago.

“We trust that you find the matters alarming as well,” wrote NAACP president Derrick Johnson and Illinois State Conference president Teresa Haley, urging Garland to close the investigation and “move forward with appropriate and applicable federal charges based on the federal grand jury findings and other relevant evidence.”

A DOJ spokesperson confirmed to CNN that the department received the NAACP letter as well as one from Illinois’ two Democratic U.S. senators, who wrote to Garland that “the facts of this case remain shocking and upsetting,” and demanded an update on the federal investigation.

As Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, the Senate Judiciary chair, detailed:

In April 2015, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced a joint federal and state investigation into the shooting; however, there was never an announcement that the federal investigation had closed after Van Dyke was convicted of state charges. In October 2019, when activists called for federal civil rights charges against Van Dyke and other officers involved in the cover up of the murder, the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to state whether the federal investigation was still ongoing or closed. Last week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office again declined to comment on the status of the investigation.

Van Dyke’s state conviction and sentencing do not preempt or negate the interest of the federal government, if the evidence supports charging Van Dyke with violating McDonald’s civil rights under Section 242 of Title 18. The recent federal civil rights case against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin demonstrates this; after Chauvin was found guilty by a state jury and sentenced to 22 years for murdering George Floyd, Chauvin pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges under Section 242. Chauvin admitted that his willful use of unreasonable force resulted in Floyd’s death. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Chauvin faces a sentence of over 20 years in prison.

“We urge the Justice Department to carefully and expeditiously complete its investigation,” the senators wrote, telling Garland that they “look forward to your prompt report” on the probe.

Collins, in a statement Tuesday, said that “this is a step in the right direction” for the senators, “but let’s be clear: we don’t just need an update, we need charges filed.”

“This is an open and shut case,” she said. “This murder was a clear-cut violation of Laquan McDonald’s civil rights. Just like in Chauvin’s case, the federal charges against Van Dyke should be straightforward. It’s past time for the federal charges to be filed.”

U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García, who represents Illinois’ 4th Congressional District, said Thursday that “there can never be justice for Laquan McDonald, but Jason Van Dyke’s early release negates even the small measure of accountability that his conviction provided.”

“Van Dyke’s early release is a slap in the face to our communities, and today I join the call for the Department of Justice to consider bringing civil rights charges against Van Dyke,” García added. “Laquan’s life mattered. Black Lives Matter.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).
Share Button

Some Prisoners Released During Pandemic Can Stay on Home Confinement, Says DOJ

“We commend the attorney general for listening to thousands of families who asked not to be separated from their loved ones.”

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 12-21-2021 by Common Dreams

Protesters from the Decarcerate Minnesota Coalition and the Twin Cities Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee
outside the Department of Corrections headquarters in St. Paul.in July 2021. Screenshot: KARE 11

Rights advocates and progressive U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday welcomed an announcement that some federal prisoners released to home confinement during the Covid-19 pandemic will not be required to return to prison—a reversal of a controversial Trump administration policy.

“We commend the attorney general for listening to thousands of families who asked not to be separated from their loved ones,” tweeted the ACLU. “Thousands of people can now breathe a sigh of relief knowing they will be able to remain in the communities where they have been living and working.” Continue reading

Share Button

Biden Admin Urged to ‘Prevent a Historic Wave of Evictions’ by Extending CDC Moratorium, Speeding Up Aid

“Far too many renters are struggling to access emergency rental assistance programs and are at risk of losing their homes when the moratorium expires,” said the president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-15-2021

Photo: AFSC

The National Low Income Housing Coalition is calling on the Biden administration to “prevent a historic wave of evictions this summer by extending, strengthening, and enforcing the federal eviction moratorium and by implementing a whole-of-government approach to distribute emergency rental assistance more efficiently and effectively to those most in need.”

The national moratorium on residential evictions for nonpayment of rent—a life-saving measure issued last September by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to curb the spread of Covid-19—is set to expire on June 30. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said that discussions are ongoing as to whether the agency will prolong its partial ban on evictions. Continue reading

Share Button

#MidtermsBeforeSCOTUS Takes Off as Democrats Told to ‘Stiffen Their Spines

“Here it is, plain and simple. McConnell set the rule. Now, he and Senate Republicans need to follow it.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-27-2018

Screenshot: ABC News

“Mitch McConnell should follow the Mitch McConnell rule. Let the American people have a say when women’s health and equal rights are on the line.”

As the #MidtermsBeforeSCOTUS hashtag began to take off on Wednesday, that was how Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) responded to the news that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring, a move that gives President Donald Trump the chance to nominate a second ultra-conservative justice and push the high court even further to the right.

The “McConnell rule” Warren cites is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s infamous 2016 declaration that no Supreme Court justice can be confirmed during an election year—a completely fabricated directive that allowed McConnell to steal a high court pick from former President Barack Obama. Continue reading

Share Button

#EndTheLies: Abortion Rights Advocates Slam All-Male Majority’s SCOTUS Ruling on Fake Women’s Health Centers

“They claim it’s a free speech issue but they have no problem forcing doctors to lie to women seeking abortion with medically inaccurate information that even many doctors oppose.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-26-2018

Photo: SFGate/Twitter

Demanding unlicensed anti-choice health centers “stop the lies” they tell women who are facing unwanted pregnancy, reproductive rights advocates on Tuesday railed against the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in which the majority ruled that so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” can withhold crucial health-related information from patients.

“Fake” health centers were able to secure their victory thanks to the “stolen seat” inhabited by Justice Neil Gorsuch, noted groups including NARAL Pro-Choice America.

“Five male Supreme Court justices gave crisis pregnancy centers the right to lie to women today,” said Heidi Hess, CREDO Action co-director, in a statement. “Rather than affirm women’s right to control their bodies and their lives, the Court voted to control women, and to set the stage for even more attacks on our reproductive rights.” Continue reading

Share Button