A Guardian series examines Kern County, California, where police have killed more people per capita than anywhere else in the US this year
Bill Maher and “The Hateful Eight” filmmaker Quentin Tarantino discuss his recent efforts to call attention to those killed in police shootings in this clip from November 6, 2015.
Atlanta Hawks wingman Thabo Sefolosha made news on April 18 when he was arrested along with his teammate Pero Antic at 1 Oak, a nightclub in New York, and charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and obstruction of governmental administration.
From afar, it’s a wild story: Milwaukee Bucks forward Chris Copeland was there separately that night, and got stabbed shortly as the club let out around 4:00 a.m. It sparked a series events that ended with Sefolosha getting arrested, breaking his leg, and missing the playoffs altogether. The first-seed Atlanta Hawks, without Sefolosha, went on to get swept in the Eastern Conference finals by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
On Oct. 9, Sefolosha was exonerated of all three charges by a jury in New York. A week ago, he sued the NYPD for $50 million. We didn’t know a whole lot else about the incident until today, when our friends over at GQ dropped a piece in which Sefolosha explains in his own words what transpired over the last six months.
New Jersey governor and Republican candidate says movement is creating an environment that puts officers at risk
The Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie said on Sunday the Black Lives Matter protest movement was creating an environment that could put police officers at risk.
Speaking on CBS, he said: “I don’t believe that movement should be justified when they are calling for the murder of police officers.”
He also accused President Obama of supporting the movement and encouraging “lawlessness” while not backing up law enforcement.
Protests under the Black Lives Matter banner have coalesced around a number of deaths of African American people, most often unarmed, at the hands of police officers.
The movement first organized after the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teen, by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch leader who was later acquitted of charges regarding Martin’s death.
Other high-profile deaths have included those of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in Staten Island, in New York City. No officer was charged over the deaths of Brown and Garner, leading to protests and – in Ferguson – extensive civil unrest.
In September, Black Lives Matter said in a statement that conservatives were trying to turn the movement into a danger to officers.
“We’re targeting the brutal system of policing, not individual police,” the movement said on its Facebook page. “The Black Lives Matter Network seeks to end the system of policing that allows for unchecked violence against black people.”
Christie, the governor of New Jersey and a former US attorney, presents himself as a tough voice on law and order issues. He is nonetheless well down in polls regarding the 15-strong Republican presidential field.
On Sunday he said Black Lives Matter was “creating” an environment, as, he said, some of its supporters had chanted for the death of police.
Obama last week defended Black Lives Matter, urging the nation to take police treatment of black Americans seriously.
“We, as a society, particularly given our history, have to take this seriously,” Obama said.
Activists opposed to permanent appointment of Baltimore’s interim police commissioner left early Thursday
Activists opposed to the permanent appointment of Baltimore’s interim police commissioner occupied City Hall on Wednesday night and told police they wouldn’t leave until the commissioner and mayor agreed to a list of their demands, including changes to police tactics and significant investment in education and social services.
Police officers have converged on Baltimore’s City Hall early Thursday morning, and least six protesters could be seen being led away to vans and vehicles.
At least 25 officers lined up outside City Hall and more police stood out back as protesters were led iff, several with hands behind their backs. Protest sympathizers outside chanted: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom, we have nothing to lose but our shame!”
One of the organizers of protesters occupying Baltimore City Hall, Kwame Rose, left the building about 3:30 a.m. on Thursday before the police arrived. He was in tears, saying several police officers had arrived and that activists still remaining inside were now facing a threat of possible arrest. It is unclear if anyone was arrested.
On Wednesday night, members of the Baltimore Uprising coalition, which includes both high school and community activists, had begun shouting from the upper gallery of City Council chambers as a Council subcommittee prepared to vote for Kevin Davis as permanent commissioner. The full council will vote on the appointment Monday.
“All night, all day, we will fight for Freddie Gray!” the activists chanted amid calls to postpone the vote. “No justice, no peace!”
Freddie Gray, a black man, died in April from injuries received while in police custody. His death sparked unrest and rioting in the city. The first trial in the case against six Baltimore police officers charged in Grey’s arrest and death is scheduled to be held Nov. 30.
A new Justice Department report gave a total of 113 lessons learned and a half-dozen themes that “permeated all aspects of the police response” during the height of the demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo., last year.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
The Obama administration Wednesday issued an after-action assessment of the police response to the demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo., that erupted last year following the killing of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black resident of the city, by Darren Wilson, a white police officer.
The report, conducted by the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services office, focused on the 17-day time frame between Brown’s death and his funeral. The assessment does not provide a lot of new information, but it does provide greater insight into how policing tactics and strategy unfolded during that time when the atmosphere between law enforcement and demonstrators was especially tense.
There were a total of 113 lessons and a half-dozen themes that “permeated all aspects of the police response,” according to the report. Some of those included inconsistent leadership, lack of understanding of community concerns with law enforcement and use of “ineffective and inappropriate” tactics that escalated instead of diminishing tensions.
The report made clear it was not casting fault with a particular law enforcement department.
“The purpose of this assessment was to objectively catalogue observations and findings, not place blame or levy accusations against the agencies assessed and their personnel.”
Investigators found that more than 50 different law enforcement agencies were involved at the height of the response. This led to confusion, questions of which agency was in charge and some “inconsistency of policy applications.”
The report found both the St. Louis County and Ferguson police departments used canine units for crowd control at the homicide location on Aug. 9, the day Brown was killed, inappropriately. The canines were used within “accepted policing practices” for tracking suspects on three other occasions.
Militarization tactics during the demonstrations were also called into question by the report, specifically one known as the overwatch tactic, in which officers used rifle sights to survey the crowd from positions atop tactical vehicles.
VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass. – Memo to 2016 candidates from Black Lives Matter: We will continue to disrupt your events no matter what you do or say, and we won’t stop anytime soon.
There’s more. The movement, whose angry exchange with Hillary Clinton was revealed this week following an earlier shout-down of Bernie Sanders, has a potential new target: Barack Obama.
He may be the first black president, but he won’t be immune, said #Blacklivesmatter network co-founder Patrisse Cullors in an interview with POLITICO on Martha’s Vineyard, the president’s vacation spot, where she is participating this week in racial-justice panels.
Cullors, a 31-year-old Fulbright scholar and former activist for prisoners’ rights, co-founded Black Lives Matter as a grass-roots response to police killings and other violent acts against inner-city blacks. The group has veered sharply away from other civil-rights organizations with its Occupy-like rhetoric and disruptive tactics.
The persistent chanting and stage-crashing have successfully thrown off candidates from Republican Jeb Bush to Sanders, the Socialist running for the Democratic nod.
The mother of Michael Brown says she will “never forgive” the “cold and malicious” police officer who shot and killed her son nearly one year ago in Ferguson, Missouri.
“He wouldn’t even admit what he did was wrong. He wouldn’t admit he had no reason to do what he did,” Lezley McSpadden said of former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. “I’ll never forgive him.”
McSpadden said of Wilson: “He’s evil, his acts were devilish.”
Wilson killed Brown on Aug. 9, 2014, after stopping him because he was walking in the street, not on the sidewalk. The killing of Brown, an unarmed black teen who, according to some accounts, had his hands in the air at the time of his death, by a white police officer sparked widespread protest and renewed debate over police targeting of black men.
McSpadden’s comments to Al Jazeera followed an interview with Wilson published by The New Yorker, in which he admitted that, aside from ongoing litigation brought by the Brown family, he seldom thought of the 18-year-old Brown.
“Do I think about who he was as a person? Not really, because it doesn’t matter at this point,” Wilson said, before adding that he believed Brown didn’t have a proper “upbringing.”
McSpadden responded to Wilson’s comments by saying the officer was the one who “didn’t have the right upbringing.”
“Because those are words that you just don’t use, especially after you took somebody’s life and you know you had no reason to,” she said. “But he can’t hurt me with his words. What he did last year hurt me really bad, so his words mean nothing to me.”
Wilson, who scuffled with Brown before the shooting, told authorities that he feared for his life during the confrontation and fired his gun in self-defense. Witnesses, however, contend that Brown was in a nonthreatening position when Wilson fired the fatal shots.
The leaders of America’s cities have serious concerns about race relations, minority communities and policing issues as the nation approaches the one-year anniversary of last year’s unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, a POLITICO Magazine survey finds. And urban public schools—widely identified by experts as the key to improvement of neighborhood conditions, racial equity and social mobility—won’t offer a solution anytime soon, according to large majorities of mayors who also expressed deep dissatisfaction with the state of their city’s public education systems, citing lack of funding, high drop-out rates and racial segregation as their leading causes of concern.
Fully nine out of 10 mayors surveyed expressed concern about the state of race relations and police in their city, according to the survey, with nearly a third describing themselves as “deeply concerned” about race and policing in their cities. The revelation illustrates the intensity and seriousness with which mayors have taken up the issue, as cities from Baltimore to New York City to Ferguson have dealt with public unrest over the last year.
The findings were part of POLITICO Magazine’s second quarterly national Mayors’ Survey, conducted over the course of July as part of the magazine’s award-winning “What Works” series, which heard from 31 mayors spanning the country from Philadelphia to Tampa to San Francisco to New Orleans to Anchorage. While not scientific—the large majority of respondents were Democrats, 77 percent, as well as three independents and four Republicans—the survey represented a diverse range of cities from across the nation and showed clear trends across cities of varying sizes, political traditions and geographic regions.
Debates and flare-ups around alleged police misconduct have seized cities as disparate as Philadelphia, Madison and Houston—each governed by mayors who participated in the POLITICO Magazine survey—and across the nation, mayors have begun to lead efforts to repair community trust and broach policy discussions about department conduct.