During last night’s protests for Mike Brown in New York City, this happened on CNN. And it was awkward:
This is what I’m reading up on today:
After a series of “auditions” with news anchors, first reported by CNN’s Brian Stelter, police officer Darren Wilson appears to have selected ABC’s “World News Tonight” or anchor George Stephanopolous for his first interview since fatally shooting Michael Brown on August 9.
Watch the teaser above. The interview airs tonight at 6:30 p.m. EST on “World News Tonight.”
Michael Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, visibly broke down before a crowd of supporters and a phalanx of cameras last night as news spread that a St. Louis grand jury decided not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of her unarmed, 18-year-old son. McSpadden learned of the decision, according to USA Today, through a phone call received by Benjamin Crump, a family attorney, minutes before the public announcement.
[She] cried and shouted when Crump told her there was no indictment and that the prosecutor was willing to meet with the family. ... Her body vibrated with pain as she jumped to her feet. “I do want to meet with him right now,” McSpadden screamed. “What do you mean no indictment?!” She then ran out of a hotel room followed by family members.
Wilson, like Brown’s family, issued a public statement last night stating in part, “Officer Wilson followed his training and followed the law.” Wilson’s testimony to the grand jury in which he describes encountering and ultimately shooting Brown, has been publicly released (see page 195). At one point, Wilson, a little under 6 ‘4” and 210 pounds to Brown’s 6’ 4” nearly 300 pound frame, describes grabbing him: “I felt like a 5-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan.” Summaries can be found at CNN and the Washington Post.
After a Ferguson grand jury failed to indict Officer Darren Wilson in Mike Brown’s killing, nationwide protests and actions took place to bring attention to the extrajudicial killings of young black men. Here’s a look at different scenes from across the country.
Ferguson: Protesters gather in 90 cities http://t.co/P7NLTXBU4U Black lives do matter but why don’t they matter w/black on black murder— NJ Kingston (@jakeandpooky) November 25, 2014
Union Sq protest in NYC for Ferguson and Mike Brown https://t.co/MhQSxsI3qW— Mikell Kober (@mikellkober) November 25, 2014
This is what I’m reading up on today:
President Obama, who addressed the nation Monday evening shortly after a grand jury announced that it declined to indict Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown, said that while, “the decision was the grand jury’s to make,” disappointment and anger about the announcement “is an understandable reaction.”
Obama echoed the calls of Michael Brown’s family who in recent days have called for peaceful protests following the grand jury’s decision. “Michael Brown’s parents have lost more than anyone. We should be honoring their wishes,” Obama said, also adding an appeal to police officers in Ferguson, “to show care and restrained in managing” protests.
But Obama also commented on the popular frustration with law enforcement officers and their policing of black and Latino communities. “We need to recognize the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges we still face as a nation. The fact is in too many parts of this country distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color.”
“Some of this is the result of the legacy of racial discrimination in this country,” Obama said. “This is tragic because nobody needs good policing more than poor communities with high crime rates.”
“There are still problems and communities of color aren’t just making these problems up,” Obama said, adding that there are still too many cases in which “the law too often feels as if it is being applied in a discriminatory fashion.”
A St. Louis grand jury today decided not to charge Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, 28, with the fatal shooting this August of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown. The much anticipated decision comes three months after the Saturday afternoon shooting ended with Brown’s body lying uncovered in the street for four hours and Wilson reportedly leaving town soon after. Local police and city government response both in the immediate aftermath and the ensuing weeks drew national and international attention to Ferguson, Missouri, population 21,000, and ignited more than 100 days of protests.
Police in Utah have killed more people in the past five years than gang members, drug dealers or child abusers. That’s the sobering finding of a Salt Lake Tribune review of nearly 300 homicides over the same period. Only intimate partner violence surpasses police use of force as the most common way that Utah residents kill each other. A number of high-profile incidents this year—Michael Brown’s, Eric Garner’s and John Crawford’s deaths, the death this weekend of a 12-year-old Cleveland boy holding a toy gun, and a slew of cell phone videos capturing police brutality—has catapulted the issue of “police use of force” and public trust into main street conversations. Last month, outgoing attorney general Eric Holder urged the creation of a national commission to examine and modernize police tactics and training.
Marissa Alexander today accepted a deal in which she pled guilty to three counts of aggravated assault in exchange for a three-year sentence, reportedly including time already served. She had previously faced up to 60 years in prison for firing a gun at—and missing—her estranged husband who had a history of domestic violence. Alexander made national headlines after unsuccessfully invoking Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law, a key part of George Zimmerman’s successful defense in the murder of Trayvon Martin.
(h/t First Coast News)
Emotions over so-called black on black crime continue to run high. In a testy “Meet the Press” segment yesterday about Ferguson, NBC’s Chuck Todd couldn’t get a word in edgewise after former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani bemoaned the lack of attention paid to “black on black violence” by Todd, perhaps other media and show guest Michael Eric Dyson. A third guest, lawyer Anthony Gray who represents Michael Brown’s family, looked on. After highlighting cities around the country with disproportionately white police departments, Todd asks Giuliani, “How do you make a police force that looks like the community they serve?” Giuliani answers initially but quickly changes the subject to “black on black crime,” a popular subject among both blacks and whites, that The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates has long pushed back against.
Giuliani argues that black-on-black crime explains high white police presence. Watch above for Dyson’s response.
(h/t Meet The Press)
This is what I’m reading up on now:
The controversial Secure Communities (S-Comm) program is coming to an end under Obama’s executive action on immigration. A new program called the Priority Enforcement Program, or PEP-Comm for short, will take its place. But will it be much better?
In his announcement Thursday, and then nearly verbatim in Las Vegas Friday, Obama stressed new targets for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS): “Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids,” the president said. “We’ll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day.”
Those dichotomies raise concerns for some. “I was thinking about how certain communities are over-policed à la Ferguson,” says Angela Chan, policy director and senior staff attorney at the Asian Law Caucus. “This juxtaposition forgets the reality that some communities are over-policed and over-criminalized.”
Like PEP-Com, its predecessor created a path to deportation. The program—which began in 2008 under George W. Bush and escalated under by Obama—required local jails and prisons to hand over the fingerprints of anyone being processed to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), including people who hadn’t yet had their day in court. If ICE deemed the person a threat it would issue them a so-called detainer, a 48-hour hold in a local jail or prison. Although detainers were supposed to last up to two days, many were extended by weeks or months at a time. And although S-Comm was created to catch undocumented immigrants, it often swept up U.S. citizens, even those who hadn’t been convicted of a crime. Some local agencies and entire states refused to cooperate with S-Comm because the detainers weren’t warrants issued by a judge. Rather, they were the result of decisions made by a federal agency plagued with problems.
The National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) led the charge to end S-Comm and explicitly demanded its end in the days leading up to the president’s announcement. In some ways, it seems like NDLON has won.
In a November 14 memo [PDF], Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson conceded that the program essentially failed:
The Secure Communities program, as we know it, will be discontinued.
The goal of Secure Communities was to more effectively identify and facilitate the removal of criminal aliens in the custody of state and local law enforcement agencies. But the reality is the program has attracted a great deal of criticism, is widely misunderstood, and is embroiled in litigation; its very name has become a symbol for general hostility toward the enforcement of our immigration laws. Governors, mayors, and state and local law enforcement officials around the country have increasingly refused to cooperate with the program, and many have issued executive orders or signed laws prohibiting such cooperation. A number of federal courts have rejected the authority of state and local law enforcement agencies to detain immigrants pursuant to federal detainers issued under the current Secure Communities program.
Under the president’s new program, most people who haven’t been convicted of crimes won’t be issued a detainer—although undocumented immigrants who are suspected of terrorism may be targeted. In addition, PEP-Comm will ensnare people found crossing the border, gang members, those convicted of felonies, people who’ve been convicted of three misdemeanors, and those who have one “significant misdemeanor” on their record. Significant misdemeanors include domestic violence, burglary and drug-selling. Instead of issuing a detainer, Johnson’s memo instructs local and state agencies to notify ICE that the person is question will soon be released.
But the Asian Law Caucus’ Chan finds what she calls alarming similarities between S-Comm and PEP-Comm—particularly when it comes to local and state agencies doing the work of what should be federal enforcement. “The bones of the program are the same. Under S-Comm, fingerprints are transmitted to Immigration and Customs Enforcement by local police. Under PEP-Comm, the same thing will happen.”
Chan adds that any entanglement with local law enforcement is a threat to public safety because it invites police to select people for deportation instead of protecting their welfare.
Time will also tell whether agents honor the directives of Johnson’s PEP-Comm memo.
Under President Obama’s historic executive action announced Thursday, Maru Mora Villalpando, a Washington State-based undocumented immigrant activist with the #Not1More campaign, could win a three-year reprieve from the threat of deportation. But Villalpando, who talked to Colorlines while attending a gathering of other undocumented and immigrant rights activists Thursday night, said “As Obama was speaking, we kept bringing up names of people we know who will not qualify.”
They include Ramon Mendoza, a father and undocumented immigrant who led a 56-day hunger strike inside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Wash., this spring. He has a DUI on his record, Villalpando said, which under the terms set out by the White House, will make him ineligible for protection from deportation. Cipriano Rios, who also went on a hunger strike while in detention, is a father, but of DACA kids—undocumented youth who were given short-term work permits and deportation relief by Obama two years ago. Rios has no U.S. citizen children so he will not qualify. And Miguel Armenta, Villalpando said, has “been detained six months, he is gay, HIV positive, and he doesn’t have children. He won’t benefit from deferred action.”
“I can go on and on with names,” Villalpando said. As large and as historic as Obama’s second executive action is, with the potential to offer nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants short-term work permits and a shield from deportation, it’s also limited in scope. The terms are stringent: It will apply only to those who have been in the U.S. for five years or more; those who came to the country as young teens; and parents of U.S. citizen children and green-card holders. People with various criminal violations on their records will be barred from relief.
Immediately after the announcement, organizers and advocates tallied up who won’t qualify for relief, identified broad classes of people who will continue to be criminalized under the updated enforcement regime—and named a people’s win. Those who will lose out include:
Parents of DACA Youth + Seasonal Workers + LGBT Immigrants + Domestic Violence Victims
Excluding the parents of DACA youth “is a huge example of family separation,” said Catherine Tactaquin, executive director of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. “Not to include parents [of DACA recipients] in this pool is actually kind of mean. You will have families who, on one hand, have children who are DACA recipients and have some reprieve, but on the other hand, their parents won’t.”
The rub here is that in the years following Obama’s first deferred action to benefit undocumented youth, it was their parents who stood at the forefront of national organizing. They did so even as the Obama administration steadily racked up 2 million deportations. “After all the work they put in,” said Families for Freedom executive director Abraham Paulos, “it is unjust.”
Seasonal agricultural workers and others who work so-called “low-skilled” jobs who don’t have ties to U.S. citizen children will also be excluded, noted Sandra Sanchez, director of the Iowa Immigrant Voice campaign for the American Friends Service Committee. And many women who’ve escaped violent spouses aren’t eligible for visas covered by the Violence Against Women Act. “They are going to be left behind,” Sanchez said.
Black Immigrants + People With Felonies
When Obama announced that the U.S. would put a stronger emphasis on deporting “felons, not families … Gang members, not a mother who’s working hard to provide for her kids,” activists who advocate for black and criminalized immigrants raised serious concerns about that rhetoric and the policy it’ll inform.
“People with felonies have families too,” said Paulos, whose organization Families for Freedom advocates for families who’ve been separated by criminal deportation.”That’s a false binary [Obama] is setting up,” said Tia Oso, the Arizona organizer for the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. Oso pointed out that because blacks in the U.S. are already targeted by the War on Drugs and racial and ethnic profiling by police, partnerships between law enforcement and immigration authorities mean that black immigrants are in detention and criminal deportation proceedingsat a rate five times their actual presence in the U.S. undocumented community.
Paulos pointed out the irony of what he calls “explicitly anti-black policy”:”President Obama—the son of an African from Kenya, who is part of a mixed-status family [that had] an undocumented aunty and [has] an uncle with a conviction, says, ‘If you’re a criminal — you’ll be deported.’”
LGBT Youth + People Convicted of Low-Level Crimes
Research shows that LGBT youth experience homelessness at a disproportionate rate. So cutting off young LGBT immigrants with records of “low-level survival crimes,” such as prostitution and others connected to homelessness, will disproportionately affect LGBT immigrants, especially transgender immigrants, said Harper Jean Tobin, policy director at the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Basing relief on parental relationships,” and limiting benefits to those who haven’t landed in the criminal justice system will exclude most of the estimated 267,000 LGBT undocumented immigrants in the U.S., Tobin said
What’s more, when Obama describes “felons,” he leaves out pertinent details, advocates say. The U.S. has designated “illegal entry”—entering the country without papers or authorization—a misdemeanor but made “illegal re-entry”—crossing back in the U.S. after a prior deportation—a federal felony offense. In the last decade, prosecutions for illegal re-entry have skyrocketed some 300 percent, and, as prosecutions have increased, the proportion of those who have no or only a minor criminal record has also ballooned. It turns out that those who risk criminal prosecution, incarceration and deportation are usually people who crossed back into the U.S. to reunite with children and loved ones.
On Thursday night Obama touted his record of beefing up the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border without noting that many Border Patrol agents who have abused migrants and killed those who live along the border aren’t held accountable for their actions. “To say we’re going to double up our efforts on enforcement is really insensitive to what the impact has been,” said National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights’ Tactaquin.
Obama’s ongoing emphasis on border enforcement and enforcement across the U.S. also ignores the evidence that “what has affected the level of migration has been things like the improved economy in Mexico or increased violence in Central America,” Tactaquin adds. “It’s not had to do with levels of border enforcement.”
The People’s Win
For immigrant rights activists who have fought against the enforcement program Secure Communities, its elimination is a victory. But, #Not1More’s Villalpando and others raised concerns that the program which will take its place, “Priority Enforcement Program,” (PDF) is just the same deportation dragnet by another name.
Still, the executive action itself, “is the undocumented people’s victory,” said Villalpando. “The reason he did it is because of all the pressure undocumented communities built up to this point, so we must thank the people who went on hunger strike and even the people who got deported.”
“We have at least 5 million reasons to celebrate,” said AFSC’s Sanchez. “But we have just as many—another 5 or 6 million reasons to keep working.” To Iowa Immigrant Voice’s Sanchez, the real win was that the president “finally stood up to respond to the people’s will.”
Attorney General Eric Holder appears in a new video released today that touts new guidelines for best practices for policing ahead of a St. Louis grand jury’s decision on whether to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in connection with the shooting and killing of Mike Brown. In it, Holder also encourages peaceful demonstration.
It’s still unclear when the indictment will be announced, but the St. Louis Post Dispatch is reporting that the Jennings School District will be closed Monday and Tuesday in anticipation of an announcement this weekend. School will be back in session for Jennings schools students on December 1.
Two other local school districts, Riverview Gardens and Ferguson-Florissant haven’t announced any school closures, and it’s not known whether Hazelwood schools, also in the area, will close next week.
Among the actions President Obama is taking in his executive action on immigration is introducing Deferred Action for Parents, or DAP. The program will be administered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Parents of all U.S. citizen children or legal permanent resident children born on or before November 20, 2014 are eligible. Parents of children that are recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, are not—and neither are soon-to-be parents whose children are born today or anytime after.
DAP recipients will be eligible for work authorization and be granted relief from deportation for a renewable three years at a time. In order to obtain DAP, parents must demonstrate a constant presence in the United States for the last five years, submit biometric data, as well as pass a criminal background check. Although there was early talk of paying back taxes for the last five years, no such condition exists in DHS memos and wasn’t mentioned by Obama in his remarks Thursday evening. Any parent who is already an enforcement priority for the administration is automatically ineligible for for the program.
Like DACA, DAP does not provide legal status—it’s temporary relief from deportation. It’s estimated that more than three million parents will be eligible for DAP. The fee to apply for DAP will be $465 for each parent, but eligible immigrants won’t be able to apply until late May 2015.
This is what I’m reading up on today:
Under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, undocumented youth are eligible to obtain a work permit and relief from deportation for a renewable two years at a time—so long as they meet certain criteria. They must have arrived to the U.S. before the age of 16, have been here for a minimum of five years, have graduated high school or have a GED, or have completed a tour of military service. But, any person seeking DACA must have been under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012, the date DACA was first announced.
Activists have long insisted that that upper age limit is far too arbitrary. Under Obama’s executive action, the upper age limit is suspended—which means that anyone who was at least 16 when they entered is now eligible, no matter their age today. The date of arrival for eligibility moves from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010. DACA will also be available for a renewable three years at a time, instead of the current two years.
Anyone who arrived over the age of 16, regardless of whether they attended and graduated high school in the U.S., is still not eligible. The cost is still $465 to apply, and a background check, including biometrics, remain part of the program.
The program’s expansion will take 90 days to roll out, by which time newly qualified immigrants can apply. It’s estimated that close to 300,000 people will be eligible for DACA under this move.
Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, the day when we remember all of the lives lost to transphobic violence. This year has been especially deadly for trans women; Aniya Parker’s murder last month in Los Angeles was just one of growing list of women who’ve been violently killed this year because of their gender identity. Over the summer, 28-year-old Zoraida Reyes’s body was found in a parking lot behind an Orange County Dairy Queen. In total, 12 transgender women have been killed in the United States in the past 12 months.
Statistics show that trans women of color were the victims of 67 percent of all hate-motivated homicides of LGBT people in 2013. Over at BuzzFeed, Dominic Holden detailed the frightening scenario in Ohio, where four transgender women have been killed in just 20 months.
Tiffany Edwards, 28, is one such woman who was killed in June. And as Holden explains:
Though violence against transgender people is widely considered a national epidemic by LGBT advocates, the state of Ohio has seen a particularly disturbing trend. Tiffany Edwards was the fourth transgender woman killed in Ohio in the last 20 months. Three of the victims were transgender women of color. The Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization (BRAVO) also reports 14 incidents of non-fatal hate-motivated attacks on transgender people throughout the state in 2013. Many attacks go unreported. Most recently in Ohio, on Nov. 3, Candice Rose Milligan, 33, was hospitalized after being beaten in broad daylight by a group of men who allegedly yelled, “That’s a dude in a dress,” the Toledo Bladereported.
You wouldn’t know it by the tenor of the recent gubernatorial elections, but states’ pockets have grown fat under President Obama. That’s because his two signature economic initiatives—the 2009 Recovery Act and the 2010 Affordable Care Act—pumped tens of billions of dollars into state coffers, giving state leaders the chance to bolster services without raising revenue. At least at the local level, you’d think fiscal conservatives would love the guy.
The National Association of State Budget Officers published a report today outlining spending trends. To my eye, here’s the takehome: States have largely stopped making new investments in services, so what their residents do and don’t get from government has been driven primarily by federal choices. First, take a look at this graph from the report, which shows federal and state spending trends over the past three fiscal years.
So overall state spending fell in fiscal year 2012—marking the first decline in total state spending in the 27-year history of this annual report. That was a big, historic change. It corresponed with the gradual sunsetting of the 2009 Recovery Act. Remember that? The reviled stimulus spending that eked out of Congress at a level much lower than economists of all stripes recommended? Well, the initial surge of stimulus spending ran out, federal funding to states plummeted by nearly 10 percent and overall state spending fell for the first time in a generation. The White House and others have argued that the stimulus averted a full-on depression. But imagine if it had been funded at the levels economists recommended?
Anyway, that didn’t happen. But in fiscal year 2014, total state spending shoots back up. This coincides with the onset of Obamacare—or specifically, the expansion of Medicaid, which has put an additional $41.8 billion into state budgets this fiscal year. Here’s what that looks like for Medicaid programs themselves, again in a graph from the state budget directors’ report.
This is important not only because it has allowed more than 8 million poor people to get health insurance. That’s happened while barely affecting state spending on the program. Understand that Medicaid has been and remains the biggest ticket item in any state’s budget. It accounts consistently for roughly a quarter of overall state spending; K-12 education comes in second, at about 20 percent. Every dollar the states don’t spend on Medicaid, is money they can invest elsewhere—in higher education, transportation, tax breaks.
So the Obama years have been very good to state budgets. The feds have financed massive public investment in local services that have staved off collapse for both the overall economy and for residents in the greatest need. But they have done so over the kicking and screaming objections of a great many local elected officials. Funny, that.