Tag Archives: police deaths

The other epidemic: white supremacists in law enforcement

Law enforcement agencies have been breeding grounds for far-right ideology for decades, and it’s not just an American problem.

By Simon Purdue,  Published 8-6-2020 by openDemocracy

George Floyd protests on their ninth day in Miami. Photo: Mike Shaheen/Wikimedia Commons/CC

 

As protests continue to bring cities across the United States to a standstill, the problem of racist policing is more evident than ever before. The murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis PD was just the latest in a long line of violent assaults on people of color by law enforcement, and his name joins an ever-growing list of people who have been killed by those who are sworn to protect and serve. The United States is grappling with the issue of police racism in front of the world, and the scale of the conversation currently happening is unprecedented, and sadly still not enough.

While the unconscious bias of some officers of the law has been laid bare for all to see, the conscious and hateful bias of others has remained largely in the shadows. The systemic issue of racial profiling is evident, but the hidden epidemic of far-right activism in police forces around the country is an insidious and even more dangerous threat. The links between the police and organized racism are as old as the institutions themselves. Continue reading

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Prohibited From Holding Police Officer to Account, Federal Judge Calls on Supreme Court to Overturn ‘Qualified Immunity’

“Those who violate the constitutional rights of our citizens must be held accountable. When that day comes we will be one step closer to that more perfect Union.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-7-2020

Image: change.org

Handing down a ruling to dismiss a civil lawsuit which alleged a police officer violated a Black man’s Fourth Amendment rights during a traffic stop in 2013, a federal judge in Mississippi made clear that he sided with the plaintiff—and demanded the U.S. Supreme Court overturn legal precedent that makes it nearly impossible for the judicial system to hold officers accountable for rights violations. 

Calling for an end to qualified immunity, which dates back to a 1982 ruling and shields police from civil liability in most cases, U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves turned his ruling into a plea for justice for plaintiff Clarence Jamison as well as countless other Black Americans who have faced violent abuse and deadly use of force by officers. Continue reading

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Police with lots of military gear kill civilians more often than less-militarized officers

A police tactical team in Ferguson, Mo., responds to 2014 protests against a white officer’s killing of Michael Brown, a young Black man. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Casey Delehanty, Gardner-Webb University

Police departments that get more equipment from the military kill more civilians than departments that get less military gear. That’s the finding from research on a federal program that has operated since 1997 that I have helped conduct as a scholar of police militarization.

That finding was recently confirmed and expanded by Edward Lawson Jr. at the University of South Carolina.

This federal effort is called the “1033 Program.” It’s named after the section of the 1997 National Defense Authorization Act that allows the U.S. Defense Department to give police agencies around the country equipment, including weapons and ammunition, that the military no longer needs. Continue reading

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Trapped: why George Floyd’s death resonates so deeply

Shared archetypes can be immensely powerful in the struggle to uproot racism.

By Nilufar Ahmed.  Published 6-28-2020 by openDemocracy

Protesting the Murder of George Floyd, Washington, DC, May 31, 2020. | Wikimedia Commons/Ted Eytan. CC BY-SA 2.0.

The brutal death of George Floyd and the protests it has sparked have had remarkable effects in communities all over the world. Statues glorifying slavers have been removed in the US and UK, and murals supporting Black Lives Matter have spread across the globe.

Sadly, the death of Black people at the hands of the police isn’t a new phenomenon, so what precipitated this response now? Part of the answer lies in timing, with both police violence and Covid-related mortality heavily shaped by race. “We are not conflating these separate
incidences,” as the Black and Asian Counselling Psychology Group puts it, “but highlight them together to demonstrate how racism permeates and impacts Black lives.” Continue reading

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Polls: Four Weeks of Protest Have Radically Altered American Views on Police

American voters now support sweeping changes to policing; 83 percent want a ban on racial profiling, 92 percent want police to be required to wear body cameras and White Americans’ concern over police violence has increased by 50 percent since 2019.

By Alan Macleod  Published 6-19-2020 by MintPress News

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Just four weeks of protest have radically altered Americans’ views on the police and what their role in society should be. Once almost exclusively the domain of activist groups, moves to comprehensively change, defund or even abolish the police are rapidly gaining momentum with the public.

new study published this week by Data for Progress shows that voters overwhelmingly (58 percent to 24 percent) support the creation of a new agency of first responders to deal with problems in the community – an agency that would explicitly undermine the police’s purview. The public would like to see the service, whose agents would resemble social workers more than police officers, take over a great number of situations police currently deal with, including mental health crises, drug addiction problems (including overdoses), and issues regarding homelessness. Significant numbers of people want to see the new agency tackle issues like spousal abuse and all non-violent crimes as well. “For elected officials looking to strengthen their communities and take action in the face of mass protest on police brutality, creating a non police first-responder agency proves to be a popular option that deserves their attention,” the report concludes. Continue reading

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‘Deeply Disappointing’: Supreme Court Slammed for Refusing to Examine Doctrine That Bolsters Police Immunity

“Recent events demonstrate the urgent need for Congress to stand up for the rule of law and abolish qualified immunity.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-15-2020

George Floyd protests in Washington DC. Photo: Rosa Pineda/CC

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear several cases involving a longstanding legal doctrine giving police officers and other government officials sweeping immunity from civil lawsuits, a decision that comes in the midst of a nationwide uprising against police brutality and racial injustice.

The doctrine of “qualified immunity” has come under growing criticism from lawmakers and rights groups since the May 25 killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. As CNBC explained, “the burden imposed by qualified immunity on victims of police violence is exacerbated by the fact that prosecutors rarely charge officers for excessive force violations, often leaving civil lawsuits as the only remaining avenue.” Continue reading

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1,250 Former DOJ Officials Demand Investigation Into Barr’s Involvement in Violently Dispersing Demonstrators Near White House

“None of us would ever have considered directing or engaging in such actions to be consistent with our oaths to support and defend the Constitution.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-10-2020

Screenshot: WUSA9

More than 1,250 former Department of Justice employees on Wednesday called on the department’s inspector general to open an investigation into reports that Attorney General William Barr personally ordered the tear-gassing of protesters in Washington, D.C. on June 1.

The former employees wrote that Inspector General Michael Horowitz must get to the bottom of Barr’s involvement in the dispersing of the crowd, which was part of the nationwide uprising against racial injustice following the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Continue reading

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George Floyd Protests: US Arrests Now Higher Than Hong Kong Protest Total Figures

While the world condemns China for its response to the Hong Kong protests, the numbers and the images make clear that the US has responded to its popular uprising with more force and less tolerance than Beijing

By Alan Macleod   Published 6-5-2020 by MintPress News

Protesters react to tear gas at George Floyd protests in Washington, D.C. Photo: Roas Pineda/Wikimedia Commons/CC

After just over a week of demonstrations, the number of Americans arrested in the George Floyd protests far exceeds that of over a year’s worth of protests in Hong Kong. A survey of just 30 police departments conducted on Tuesday found that they had collectively detained over 11,000 individuals, meaning the actual number detained across the entire country is certain to be higher. That compares to around 9,000 for Hong Kong.

Chinese authorities have been roundly condemned by Western governments and by human rights organizations for their excessive use of force, using tear gas and rubber bullets that have harmed protestors. However, in more than a year of near-constant conflict, authorities have not killed anyone. In contrast, at least 17 people have been killed protesting in the U.S. The National Guard was almost immediately activated and deployed to 24 states, with the president encouraging authorities to shoot anyone deemed to be “thugs” or “looters.” “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Trump tweeted. Police seem to have taken that message to heart, shooting and killing Sean Monterrosa, an unarmed 22-year-old in Vallejo, California, while he was kneeling and had his hands up. Meanwhile, on Wednesday LAPD shot a homeless, wheelchair bound man in the face. Continue reading

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‘I Took the Helmet Off and Laid the Batons Down’: Michigan Sheriff and Police Didn’t Disperse Their Town’s Protest—They Joined It

“Do I think this has solved the issue between police and unarmed black, human beings? No. But I do believe that this type of leadership is a positive step in the right direction and gives me hope for black men and women around the world and for all of humanity.”

By Common Dreams. Published 5-31-2020

Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson joins protesters as they walk for George Floyd. Screenshot: YouTube

Amid a national wave of uprisings against police brutality in response to last week’s brutal murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota—but in contrast to a wave of aggressive and violent responses from law enforcement to those demonstrations—a scene in Flint, Michigan that played out Saturday evening offered an alternative to aggressive police tactics as a local sheriff and his fellow officers laid down their riot gear and joined with those members of the community who came out to voice their outrage and sorrow.

When Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson, his deputies, and local officers were confronted by community members who marched on the Flint Township police station, witnesses described how Swanson told the crowd he wanted their pleas to be heard and that the police wanted to be in service of their demands and the protest itself. Continue reading

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It’s Time for Effective Oversight of Police Violence

Would the possibility of mandatory sentencing make a police officer think twice before pulling the trigger? What about them having to forego their pensions, or pay victims’ families from their 401Ks?

By . Published 10-14-2019 by YES! Magazine

Thurma. n Blevins “Please don’t shoot me!” March in Minneapolis on July 31,2018. Photo: Fibonacci Blue/Flickr

Atatiana Jefferson is dead.

The 28-year-old was shot and killed in her Texas home by a Fort Worth police officer on October 12. According to reports, the officer was responding to a nonemergency call for a wellness, or welfare, check. Jefferson’s neighbor made the call when he saw “both her front doors opened and all the lights on in her house” at 2 a.m.

Police body cam footage of the shooting shows the officer walking around Jefferson’s house for a little over a minute before yelling, “Put your hands up. Show me your hands [unintelligible],” and immediately fires his weapon. The officer—who is not heard identifying himself as law enforcement in the footage—claims he “perceived a threat,” according to a statement issued by Fort Worth police. Continue reading

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