Tag Archives: police deaths

Two Years After George Floyd Murder, Biden to Issue Executive Order on Police Reform

“The entire culture and mentality needs to change to bring these words to life, and to save lives,” said one civil liberties advocate.

By Julia Conley  Published 5-24-2022 by Common Dreams

George Floyd Protest in Washington, DC – May 30 2020 Photo: Geoff Livingston/flickr/CC

Exactly two years after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, President Joe Biden on Wednesday is expected to unveil an executive order aimed at reforming federal policing standards and pushing state and local law enforcement agencies to improve their policies as well.

Civil rights groups on Tuesday expressed cautious optimism regarding the upcoming order, which has reportedly changed since a draft document was leaked earlier this year and garnered criticism from police groups. Continue reading

Share Button

Investigation Shows Hundreds of US Cops Being Trained by Far-Right Extremists

“Bad training is instilling bad behavior,” said one criminal justice reform advocate.

By Kenny Stancil  Published 5-6-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Tony Webster/flickr/CC

Hundreds of cops across the United States have been taught by individuals who espouse far-right extremist views, according to a new investigation that was published Friday to sound the alarm on a burgeoning and unregulated private training industry.

Reuters identified five law enforcement trainers who have been hired by police and sheriffs’ departments nationwide despite their support for right-wing militia groups, including the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and Three Percenters; the QAnon conspiracy, which baselessly claims that Democrats and Hollywood stars belong to a cabal of Satanist pedophiles and cannibals; and former President Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” that the 2020 election was stolen. Continue reading

Share Button

Mass Student Walkouts Over Police Killing of Amir Locke

Locke, a 22-year-old Black man, was killed last week by police executing a no-knock search warrant.

By Julia Conley.  Published 2-8-2022 by Common Dreams

Demanding accountability from local leaders, hundreds of high school students in Minneapolis and St. Paul walked out of their classes on Tuesday at noon in protest of the fatal police shooting of Amir Locke during a no-knock raid.

The youth-led group MN Teen Activists organized the walkout, which included students at St. Paul Central High School and Capitol Hill Magnet School in St. Paul and Southwest, Roosevelt, and Washburn high schools in Minneapolis, as well as other schools in the surrounding suburbs. 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

‘A Win for Civil Rights’: Federal Judge Blocks Florida GOP’s Anti-Protest Law

The court’s decision, said a coalition of civil rights groups, “serves as a powerful reminder that such unjust and unconstitutional efforts cannot stand.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Puvlished 9-10-2021

George Floyd protests in Miami, Florida on June 6, 2020. Photo: Mike Shaheen/Wikimedia/CC

Civil liberties and racial justice advocates are celebrating after a federal judge ruled Thursday that Florida’s anti-protest law is unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable.

In his 90-page decision (pdf) granting civil rights groups’ request for a preliminary injunction, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker said the law—passed by Florida’s GOP-controlled House and Senate and signed in April by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in response to demonstrations against police violence and racial injustice—violates rights to free speech and peaceful assembly as well as due process protections. Continue reading

Share Button

‘Racist, Unconstitutional, and Anti-Democratic’: Florida Senate Passes GOP Anti-Protest Bill

“This bill is a disgrace to our state.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-16-2021

George Floyd protests in Miami, Florida on June 6, 2020. Photo: Mike Shaheen/Wikimedia Commons/CC

After Florida’s Senate Republicans on Thursday passed an undemocratic anti-protest bill—expected to be signed into law by its chief proponent, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, as early as next week—the state’s ACLU chapter condemned GOP lawmakers for “aiming to shut down political speech they disagree with in a direct attack on the First Amendment and at the cost of Black and Brown people.”

House Bill 1 “is racist, unconstitutional, and anti-democratic, plain and simple,” Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, said in a statement. Continue reading

Share Button

Aurora Police Killed Without Consequence, Now Their Protestors Face 48 Years for “Kidnapping” Cops

The cops and the district attorneys want people to see what we are going through — the conditions of our arrests, our experiences in jail, and our legal battle — and to think that this is what you risk when you stand up against them. – Lillian House, Aurora Activist and Defendant

By Alan Macleod   Published 3-4-2021 by MintPress News

Lillian House, left, and Joel Northam. Courtesy | Lillian House

Elijah McClain would have turned 25 last week. However, in 2019, the introverted Black massage therapist was killed on the street by police in his native Aurora (a part of the Denver metropolitan area). None of the officers involved have faced charges for the incident. Yet the leaders of mass protests against the killing are now facing up to 48 years in prison on a host of charges they see as retaliation for standing up to police power.

Three activists — Lillian House, Joel Northam, and Eliza Lucero face a preliminary hearing on March 9. A fourth, Terrence Roberts, is also facing similar, though more minor charges. Continue reading

Share Button

From Police Violence at Home to Killing Civilians in Unending Wars Abroad, US Faces Human Rights Reckoning at UN

An ACLU leader urged the incoming administration to “take bold actions on day one to reverse President Trump’s harmful policies.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-9-2020

The United States on Monday faced criticism over its human rights record from allies and adversaries alike at the United Nations as the country submitted to its first Universal Periodic Review of the Trump administration.

All 193 U.N. member states must undergo UPRs, which are held at the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC)—from which the U.S. withdrew in 2018 over alleged anti-Israel bias—in Geneva, Switzerland every five years. Continue reading

Share Button

‘These Are the Actions of a Fascist’: Press, Rights Advocates Warn of Dangerous Pattern as Trump Again Lauds Violence Against Journalists

“An American president does not praise violence against a reporter for doing his job. That is what an ugly, insecure two-bit dictator does.”

By Lisa Newcomb, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-23-2020

Ali Velshi was hit by a rubber bullet while covering the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis. Screenshot: MSNBC

Free speech advocates warned against President Donald Trump’s authoritarian rhetoric demonizing journalists following a speech at a rally in Pennsylvania on Tuesday in which the commander-in-chief celebrated violence against members of the press.

“Trump has been inciting hatred of reporters for years,” Mark Follman, national affairs editor for Mother Jones, tweeted. “As a result, American journalists have faced many violent threats… Trump veils it with mockery—but this behavior is no joke. It’s fascist, and it’s dangerous.” Continue reading

Share Button

‘There Has to Be Retribution’: Trump Openly Endorses Extrajudicial Killings of Suspects by Law Enforcement

“State violence to advance the end of ‘retribution’ is death squad logic,” said one critic.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-13-2020

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Minden-Tahoe airport in Minden, Nevada on September 12, 2020. Screenshot: YouTube

Discussing the recent police killing of a self-described anti-fascist suspected of fatally shooting a far-right activist in Portland, Oregon, President Donald Trump openly endorsed extrajudicial executions in a Fox News interview Saturday, declaring that “there has to be retribution.”

“I put out, ‘When are you going to go get him?’ And the U.S. Marshals went in to get him,” the president told Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, referring to Michael Forest Reinoehl. “This guy was a violent criminal, and the U.S. Marshals killed him. And I’ll tell you something—that’s the way it has to be. There has to be retribution.” Continue reading

Share Button