Thousands of pro-democracy protesters effectively shut down Hong Kong International Airport on Monday, the fourth day they have occupied one of the world’s busiest airports as part of the mass demonstrations—against police brutality and a controversial extradition bill—that have rattled Hong Kong since June.
The protests were initially spurred by a bill that, NPRexplained, “would have allowed people in radHong Kong to be sent to mainland China to face trials in courts controlled by the Communist Party, sparking fears of politically motivated prosecutions targeting outspoken critics of China.” Although Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam quickly suspended the measure and later declared it “dead,” demonstrators continue to demand its full withdrawal and Lam’s resignation. Continue reading →
Police deployed tear gas and fired rubber bullets at protesters in Puerto Rico’s capital city of San Juan late Wednesday on the fifth consecutive day of mass demonstrations to demand the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló.
The Miami Heraldreported from the scene as hundreds of protesters and police faced off on the colonial streets outside La Fortaleza—the governor’s mansion—in the neighborhood of Old San Juan. Continue reading →
Capitol Police became physically aggressive toward journalists who were trying to speak with senators at the Russell Senate Office Building on Thursday afternoon, according to a Roll Call report. (Photo: @pkcapitol/Twitter)
Press freedom advocates and journalists described a Friday report of Capitol Police manhandling and shoving reporters in the Russell Senate Office Building as “bizarre” and “disturbing,” with some calling the altercation an incident far more likely to take place in a totalitarian regime than in a democracy.
As Roll Call reported Friday, Capitol Police pushed and “slammed into” reporters on Thursday afternoon around the time that senators were voting on the spending bill. The police attempted to prevent reporters from speaking to lawmakers—a practice that is common in the Senate Capitol basement, where the incident took place. Continue reading →
Razan al-Najjar is the latest victim in Israel’s onslaught of Palestinians to go viral. The 21-year-old nurse was shot dead by a sniper. Her only weapon? A wad of medical gauze. She’d been treating protestors who’ve been rallying for their right to return to homes they were expelled from as refugees.
Unfortunately, the death of another unarmed civilian is hardly even news to Palestinians.
May 14, the day the United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem in symbolic support of recognizing the city as Israel’s capital, was also the bloodiest day in this recent wave of demonstrations. In just one day, at least 50 Palestinians were killed and 2,400 more injured by the Israeli military. (Other counts put those figures even higher.) Continue reading →
Results of an independent autopsy on Friday debunk the police assertion that Stephon Clark was facing and advancing towards the officers. (Photo: Stephen Melkisethian/flickr/cc)
Protests over the deadly police shooting of 22-year-old unarmed Stephon Clark are continuing on Saturday, with a former NBA player set to lead a rally in Sacramento to continue the call for justice and accountability.
“I love Sacramento and this community will always be a part of me,” said Matt Barnes, whose basketball career included playing with the Sacramento Kings. “As the father of two boys, I can’t stay silent on this issue. We clearly need to unite, organize, and act to bring the accountability that is so desperately needed. This rally is the beginning to seeing that change.”
The schedule rally follows four consecutive nights of protests over the March 18 shooting. Continue reading →
The account is reportedly being operated by one of Erica’s co-workers, who has posted numerous updates about her condition as well as shared messages of support for her family and hope that she would recover. The confirmation of Erica’s death was followed by another message: Continue reading →
Washington, DC – Several weeks into the first trial of the individuals who were mass arrested during President Trump’s inauguration in DC on January 20 (J20), the prosecution is almost ready to rest its case. The arrests occurred at 12th & L streets when police chased, trapped, and surrounded the ‘anti-capitalist and anti-fascist’ protest march.
The first trial group comprises those who insisted on their right to a speedy trial. Jury selection began on November 15, and the trial itself started with opening arguments on November 20. The next group of defendants exercising their right to speedy trial is set for trial later this month but may be delayed to January; many other trials for the remaining defendants are scattered throughout 2018. Continue reading →
Police beating firemen in Girona. Photo: Gerry Lynch/Twitter
As of Sunday afternoon, more than 760 people were injured in Catalonia after Spanish police clashed with voters who attempted to cast votes for the region’s independence referendum, which Madrid has deemed unconstitutional, Reutersreports.
Despite the reports of violence, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy praised the police force for its actions in Catalonia Sunday.
BREAKING: Spanish PM thanks police, says they acted with “firmness and serenity” to Catalonia’s independence referendum.
Catalan officials say Spanish police have injured more than 330 people who tried to vote during Catalonia’s independence referendum on Sunday.
Madrid has declared the vote unconstitutional, but Catalan citizens and members of the regional government have vowed to move forward with it. In recent days they have protested by the thousands, and even occupied more than 160 local schools that were set to serve as polling stations, in attempts to avoid the national police’s promise to prevent voting.
The BBC reports:
Police officers are preventing people from voting, and seizing ballot papers and boxes at polling stations. In the regional capital Barcelona, police used batons and fired rubber bullets during pro-referendum protests.
Catalan emergency services said they had treated 38 people who were injured when police pushed back crowds of voters and forced their way into polling stations. The Spanish interior ministry said 11 police officers had been injured.
Catalan firefighters even battled with police officers on Sunday, trying to protect voters from the national police. Videos of their exchanges quickly circulated on Twitter:
As police continue to seize ballot materials, Catalan government officials are allowing voters to print their own ballot papers and use any open polling station if theirs is shut down. Ballot papers simply as voters “Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?” and instruct them to check a box for “Yes” or “No.”
The regional government leader Carles Puigdemont condemned violence by the national police and Guardia Civil, who were sent to Catalonia to help with Madrid’s effort to stop the vote.
“The unjustified use of violence,” Puigdemont said, “by the Spanish state will not stop the will of the Catalan people.”
Several public figures outside of Spain turned to social media on Sunday to condemn the violence:
Police violence against citizens in #Catalonia is shocking. The Spanish government must act to end it now.
The Morton County Sheriff’s Department deployed a tank and sprayed peaceful protesters with a water cannon amid below-freezing temperatures on November 20, 2016. (Photo: Dark Sevier/flickr/cc)
The years-long, Indigenous-led fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) briefly captured the nation’s attention last fall as images of peaceful resisters being sprayed with water canons and surrounded by police in tanks and other military-grade equipment were spread widely, fueling global outrage and a fierce protest movement against the oil pipeline.
Now that the pipeline is operational and already leaking, internal documents obtained by The Intercept and reported on Saturday reveal the deep collusion between local police forces, the pipeline company, and defense contractors as they executed “military-style counterterrorism measures” to suppress the water protectors. Continue reading →
It was not always a crime to enter the United States without authorization.
In fact, for most of American history, immigrants could enter the United States without official permission and not fear criminal prosecution by the federal government.
That changed in 1929. On its surface, Congress’ new prohibitions on informal border crossings simply modernized the U.S. immigration system by compelling all immigrants to apply for entry. However, in my new book “City of Inmates,” I detail how Congress outlawed border crossings with the specific intent of criminalizing, prosecuting and imprisoning Mexican immigrants.
Knowing this history is important now. On April 11, 2017, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his plan to step up prosecutions of unlawful entries, saying it’s time to “restore a lawful system of immigration.” This may read like a colorblind commitment to law and order. But the law Sessions has vowed to enforce was designed with racist intent.
The Mexican immigration debate
The criminalization of informal border crossings occurred amid an immigration boom from Mexico.
In 1900, about 100,000 Mexican immigrants resided in the United States.
By 1930, nearly 1.5 million Mexican immigrants lived north of the border.
As Mexican immigration surged, many in Congress were trying to restrict nonwhite immigration. By 1924, Congress had largely adopted a “whites only” immigration system, banning all Asian immigration and cutting the number of immigrants allowed to enter the United States from anywhere other than Northern and Western Europe. But whenever Congress tried to cap the number of Mexicans allowed to enter the United States each year, southwestern employers fiercely objected.
U.S. employers had eagerly stoked the era’s Mexican immigration boom by recruiting Mexican workers to their southwestern farms, ranches and railroads, as well as their homes and mines. By the 1920s, western farmers were completely dependent on Mexican workers.
However, they also believed that Mexican immigrants would never permanently settle in the United States. As agribusiness lobbyist S. Parker Frisselle explained to Congress in 1926, “The Mexican is a ‘homer.’ Like the pigeon he goes home to roost.” On Frisselle’s promise that Mexicans were “not immigrants” but, rather, “birds of passage,” western employers successfully defeated proposals to cap Mexican immigration to the United States during the 1920s.
The idea that Mexican immigrants often returned to Mexico contained some truth. Many Mexican immigrants engaged in cyclical migrations between their homes in Mexico and work in the United States. Yet, by the close of the 1920s, Mexicans were settling in large numbers across the Southwest. They bought homes and started newspapers, churches and businesses. And many Mexican immigrants in the United States started families, raising a new generation of Mexican-American children.
Monitoring the rise of Mexican-American communities in southwestern states, the advocates of a whites-only immigration system charged western employers with recklessly courting Anglo-America’s racial doom. As the work of historian Natalia Molina details, they believed Mexicans were racially unfit to be U.S. citizens.
Western employers agreed that Mexicans should not be allowed to become U.S. citizens. “We, in California, would greatly prefer some set up in which our peak labor demands might be met and upon the completion of our harvest these laborers returned to their country,” Friselle told Congress. But western employers also wanted unfettered access to an unlimited number of Mexican laborers. “We need the labor,” they roared back at those who wanted to cap the number of Mexican immigrants allowed to enter the United States each year.
Amid the escalating conflict between employers in the West and advocates of restriction in Congress, a senator from Dixie proposed a compromise.
Senator Coleman Livingston Blease hailed from the hills of South Carolina. In 1925, he entered Congress committed, above all else, to protecting white supremacy. In 1929, as restrictionists and employers tussled over the future of Mexican immigration, Blease proposed a way forward.
According to U.S. immigration officials, Mexicans made nearly one million official border crossings into the United States during the 1920s. They arrived at a port of entry, paid an entry fee and submitted to any required tests, such as literacy and health.
However, as U.S. immigration authorities reported, many other Mexican immigrants did not register for legal entry. Entry fees were prohibitively high for many Mexican workers. Moreover, U.S. authorities subjected Mexican immigrants, in particular, to kerosene baths and humiliating delousing procedures because they believed Mexican immigrants carried disease and filth on their bodies. Instead of traveling to a port of entry, many Mexicans informally crossed the border at will, as both U.S. and Mexican citizens had done for decades.
When the debate stalled over how many Mexicans to allow in each year, Blease shifted attention to stopping the large number of border crossings that took place outside ports of entry. He suggested criminalizing unmonitored entry.
According to Blease’s bill, “unlawfully entering the country” would be a misdemeanor, while unlawfully returning to the United States after deportation would be a felony. The idea was to force Mexican immigrants into an authorized and monitored stream that could be turned on and turned off at will at ports of entry. Any immigrant who entered the United States outside the bounds of this stream would be a criminal subject to fines, imprisonment and ultimately deportation. But it was a crime designed to impact Mexican immigrants, in particular.
Neither the western agricultural businessmen nor the restrictionists registered any objections. Congress passed Blease’s bill, the Immigration Act of March 4, 1929, and dramatically altered the story of crime and punishment in the United States.
With stunning precision, the criminalization of unauthorized entry caged thousands of Mexico’s “birds of passage.” By the end of 1930, the U.S. attorney general reported prosecuting 7,001 cases of unlawful entry. By the end of the decade, U.S. attorneys had prosecuted more than 44,000 cases.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, the vast majority of immigrants imprisoned for breaking Blease’s law were Mexicans. Throughout the 1930s, Mexicans never comprised fewer than 85 percent of all immigration prisoners. Some years, that number rose to 99 percent. By the end of the decade, tens of thousands of Mexicans had been convicted of unlawfully entering or reentering the United States. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons built three new prisons in the U.S.-Mexico border region: La Tuna Prison in El Paso, Prison Camp #10 in Tucson and Terminal Island in Los Angeles.
Only the outbreak of World War II halted the Mexican immigrant prison boom of the 1930s. The war turned the attention of U.S. attorneys elsewhere, and Mexicans workers were desperately needed north of the border.
With few exceptions, prosecutions for unlawful entry and reentry remained low until 2005. As a measure of the war on terror, the George W. Bush administration directed U.S. attorneys to adopt an “enforcement with consequences” strategy. In 2009, U.S. attorneys prosecuted more than 50,000 cases of unlawful entry or reentry. The Obama administration continued the surge, betting that aggressive border enforcement would help bring a recalcitrant Congress to adopt comprehensive immigration reform. It did not.
By 2015, prosecutions for unlawful entry and reentry accounted for 49 percent of all federal prosecutions and the federal government had spent at least US$7 billion to lock up unlawful border crossers.
Throughout this most recent surge, the disparate impact of criminalizing unlawful entry and reentry has endured. Today, Latinos, led by Mexicans and Central Americans, make up 92 percent of all immigrants imprisoned for unlawful entry and reentry.
Attorney General Sessions still wants more. Traveling to southern Arizona to announce his plan to even more aggressively prosecute unlawful entry, he signaled that, in the years to come, most prosecutions will happen on the U.S.-Mexico border and will target Mexicans and Central Americans.
When the number of Mexicans as well as Central Americans imprisoned on immigration charges soon booms, there will be nothing unwitting or colorblind about it. Congress first invented the crimes of unlawful entry and reentry with the purpose of criminalizing and imprisoning Mexican immigrants and it has delivered on that intent since 1929. The Sessions plan will bear a similar result and, in the process, discharge the racist design of Blease’s law.