New York City Mayor Says, #BlackLivesMatter

New York City Mayor Says, #BlackLivesMatter

Set to a backdrop of ongoing protests, New York City’s police union and mayor are publicly at odds over the grand jury’s decision not to charge officer Daniel Pantaleo in the video-taped homicide of Eric Garner. Elected on a progressive platform, Mayor Bill de Blasio heads not only the country’s largest city but its policing laboratory. New York City is where policies like COMPSTAT and “broken windows” got their start. De Blasio also has a bi-racial son with his African-American wife, Chirlane McCray. And it’s partly from that personal lens that de Blasio framed his 20-minute response to the grand jury’s decision at a press conference this Wednesday. The result is a speech that whatever its limits, strikes an unprecedented note of empathy for the fear felt by black and brown families:

Chirlane and I have had to talk to Dante for years about the dangers he may face. He’s a good young man, law abiding young man who never would think to do anything wrong. And yet because of a history that still hangs over us, the dangers he may face, we’ve had to literally train him, as families have all over this city for decades, in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers—who are there to protect him. … For so many of our young people there’s a fear and for so many of our families there’s a fear. So I’ve had to worry over the years. Chirlane’s had to worry, “Is Dante safe?” each night. There’re so many families in the city who feel that each and every night: “Is my child safe?” And not just from the painful realities of crime and violence in some of our neighborhoods but, are they safe from the very people they want to have faith in as their protectors. That’s reality. …

You’ve heard in so many places, people of all backgrounds utter the same basic phrase. They’ve said, black lives matter. And they said it because it had to be said. It’s a phrase…that should be self-evident. But our history sadly requires us to say, black lives matter.

Notwithstanding that it’s the present that necessitates the phrase, #BlackLivesMatter, “the people” was another powerful theme of de Blasio’s speech. His insistence that change comes not from city hall or police leadership but “people who’ve demanded it,” make it worth the listen (see clip above).

While de Blasio re-emphasized his faith in commissioner William Bratton (known for implementing COMPSTAT and “broken windows”), he displeased at least another key sector of police leadership. Cops, according to their union, felt, “thrown under the bus.” Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association:

“[Mayor de Blasio] spoke about, ‘we have to teach our children that their interaction with the police and that they should be afraid of New York City police officers.’ That’s not true,” Lynch said. “We have to teach our children, our sons and our daughters, no matter what they look like, to respect New York City police officers, teach them to comply with New York City police officers even if they think it’s unjust.”

The war of words in New York City is the latest pushback from police unions feeling under siege—and it’s serving to draw attention to their roles in advancing accountability and keeping abusive cops on the street. Asked about race and policing, Chuck Canterbury, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police says, “it’s not an issue of race”:

The FOP’s been on record over the last 15 years denouncing racial profiling. It’s not a legitimate police practice; it’s not taught in any police academy in the country. That doesn’t mean there aren’t officers who have racial bias. But any cop who demonstrates any form of racial bias should be put off the job, and we support that.

The one topic that’s not being discussed and is never discussed is [that] we don’t believe it’s an issue of race. We believe it’s an issue of poverty. Communities that have distrust of law enforcement — it’s because law enforcement is the only part of government they ever see. They’re poor; infant mortality rates are higher; single-family homes are higher; unemployment is higher; people don’t live as long as the average American. And that is the issue in every community in America that we police.

Read more in The Washington Post


Black Trans Woman Killed in Los Angeles While Pounding on Door for Help

Deshawnda “Tata” Sanchez, 21, desperately sought help as she pounded on the front door of a home in Compton in the early morning hours of Wednesday morning. But help arrived too late. Sanchez was shot and killed by someone detectives believe was out to rob her.

“Deshawnda is a transgender female,”  LAPD Detective Christopher Barling told KTLA. “At this point we cannot say it’s a hate crime but we have not ruled out that as being a possibility.”

A heart-wrenching but potentially helpful detail in the case is that the killing was caught on a nearby surveillance camera. Diana Williams, Sanchez’s sister, watched it.”The footage, it was heartbreaking,” she said.

Sanchez’s death seems eerily similar to Aniya Parker’s, another black transgender woman who was killed in Los Angeles in recent months during what police suspect was a robbery. Parker’s killing was also caught on camera, and while a $50,000 reward has been offered in the case, no one has been arrested for the crime.

Shortly after Parker’s death in October, the Anti-Violence Project issued a statement bringing attention to a rash of recent murders of transgender women of color. The statement noted that the organization has “documented 18 anti-LGBTQ homicides last year. Of those homicide victims, almost 90 [percent] were people of color, almost three-quarters (72 [percent]) of homicide victims were transgender women, and more than two-thirds (67 [percent]) of homicide victims were transgender women of color.”

The group detailed homicides of trans women since June 2014:

  • June 3: the body of Kandy Hall was discovered in a field in Northeast Baltimore in what local police believe to be a homicide.
  • June 12: Zoraida Reyes’s body was discovered behind a Dairy Queen in Anaheim, Calif., Her death has been ruled suspicious by investigators because it is believed her body was moved to that location, but has not yet been ruled a homicide.
  • June 19: the body of Yaz’min Shancez was found behind a Budget Truck Rental on Powell Street in Fort Myers, Fla. According to local media reports, local police believe her death to be a homicide, and her body had been burned.
  • June 26: Tiff Edwards was found shot to death in the middle of the road in Walnut Hills, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati.
  • July 16: Mia Henderson was discovered in an alley in Baltimore while police were serving a search warrant in the area. According to police, she appears to have died from trauma to the body, indicating homicide.
  • August 15: An unidentified gender non-conforming person was the victim of a homicide in Detroit. Police have arrested Eduardo Moss, who they believe was the victim’s partner, in connection to this homicide. Local authorities also believe this homicide is connected to two other attacks against transgender women in Michigan in recent weeks.
  • September 7: Alejandra Leos, a transgender woman of color, was shot outside her home following a domestic dispute that originated within the home. Marshall Pegues, age 21, has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder in connection with her death.

Last month, BuzzFeed’s Dominic Holden reported that transgender women in Ohio are at the heart of a national crisis.




223 Arrested in NYC, Grammy Nominations, Cosby Sues Accuser

223 Arrested in NYC, Grammy Nominations, Cosby Sues Accuser

Here’s what I’m reading up on:

  • Two hundred and twenty three people were arrested in New York City as nationwide protests continue over a grand jury’s decision to not indict officer Daniel Pantaleo for choking Eric Garner to death. 
  • Bill Cosby says he’s the victim, and is suing one of the many, many women accusing him of sexual assault. 
  • The flu vaccine won’t help much against mutations to this season’s most common flu virus. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

More Than 80 #ThisStopsToday Actions Planned Nationwide for Thursday

More Than 80 #ThisStopsToday Actions Planned Nationwide for Thursday

The people who brought you the Tumblr that listed actions ahead of a St. Louis grand jury’s decision to not indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson—the Ferguson National Response Network—brings you the list of actions planned for Thursday, the day after a Staten Island grand jury failed to  indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo for choking Eric Garner to death.

So far, there are 84 planned actions in 29 states, plus the District of Columbia. While some of the protests are taking place in parks and college campuses, others are happening outside of government buildings such as police headquarters and courthouses. There will be actions in:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • D.C.
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • Ney York
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Washington D.C.
  • Wisconsin

Be sure to check the Ferguson National Response Network’s Tumblr, which also lists actions by state, for updates. Submissions to announce non-listed events are accepted on a linked page

White Phoenix PD Officer Shoots and Kills Unarmed Black Man

White Phoenix PD Officer Shoots and Kills Unarmed Black Man

An unnamed white Phoenix police officer shot and killed an unarmed 34-year-old black man, Rumain Brisbon, Tuesday evening.

Brandon Dickerson, who told FOX-10 that he was with Brisbon when the officer approached and that he didn’t hear the officer give any commands. According to police, Brisbon ran when approached; the Phoenix Police Department claims that after a brief struggle, Brisbon reached for a bottle of prescription painkillers in his pocket—which the officer mistook for a gun.

Phoenix Police spokesperson Sergeant Trent Crump told the local news station that the officer who shot and killed Brisbon “was doing what we expect him to do, which is fight crime.”

Brisbon’s family is being represented by Phoenix attorney Marci Kratter, who told that the story appears incomplete; her office is conducting its own investigation into the killing. 

Cleveland Shooter of Tamir Rice Ruled Unfit for Duty

Cleveland Shooter of Tamir Rice Ruled Unfit for Duty

The white Cleveland police officer who shot black 12-year-old Tamir Rice within seconds of arriving on the scene was effectively dismissed from a smaller, suburban police department two years ago. About an emotional breakdown Officer Timothy Loehmann had on the gun range, his then-supervisor wrote, “leads one to believe that he would not be able to substantially cope, or make good decisions, during or resulting from any other stressful situation.” That’s according to a damning five-page letter (see pp 56-60) written in November 2012 by Deputy Chief of Police Jim Polak of Independence, Ohio. The letter was released this week as part of Loehmann’s 60-page personnel file. Polak ended his review of Loehmann, who was on the force six months, by “recommending he be released from the employment of the City of Independence. I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct these deficiencies.” Rather than firing him, It appears that Independence allowed Loehmann to resign. Cleveland’s police department hired him this past March.

Polak’s letter raises broader questions around police hiring and, in particular, how transfers between jurisdictions are handled. As local media reported this morning, Cleveland police did not review Loehmann’s Independence file before hiring him.

Attorney General Eric Holder is expected in Cleveland today, The Department of Justice has been investigating excessive force complaints long levied at Cleveland’s police department.

Hundreds of mourners gathered yesterday for the funeral of 12-year-old Rice, who had been playing with a replica toy gun at the time of the shooting. According to early reports, dispatch did not relay crucial information to responding officers that his gun “was probably fake” and that Rice was “probably a juvenile.” Video of the incident showed that officers shot Rice within two seconds of arriving on the scene.

(h/t NEOMG)

#CrimingWhileWhite Trends After No Indictment in Eric Garner Case

#CrimingWhileWhite Trends After No Indictment in Eric Garner Case

Following last night’s decision by a Staten Island grand jury not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for killing Eric Garner this July, something extraordinary happened on Twitter. 

All night long whites took to #crimingwhilewhite to publicly document their past crimes and how police treated them they believe, because they were white. Alone, one or two tweets would’ve elicited a few SMHs and easy comparison to comedian Dave Chappelle’s white buddy, Chip (see clip above). But taken together #crimingwhilewhite is perhaps the first large-scale public confession from whites that, “Yes, I’m raced, too. Race isn’t just something that a black person brings into a perfectly unraced room.” Check out the #crimingwhilewhite stream yourself; it’s fascinating. A sample of early tweets (unverified) are below. 

Reaction appeared to be largely positive:

83 Arrested in NYC, Jobless Claims Decline, New Drug May Heal Spinal Cord Injuries

83 Arrested in NYC, Jobless Claims Decline, New Drug May Heal Spinal Cord Injuries

Here’s some of what I’m reading up on this morning:

  • Jobless claims continue to decline—although that doesn’t help a slow holiday shopping season. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

The Ugly Idea That Killed Eric Garner

The Ugly Idea That Killed Eric Garner

Jewell Miller is the mother of Eric Garner’s infant daughter. Yesterday, she spoke with a New York Times reporter as she pushed her 7-month-old girl around the scene of the two crimes—Garner’s alleged* trespass of New York tax law, and the New York Police Department’s crime against humanity. “Again the system has failed us,” Miller told the reporter. “How? How? I don’t know how.” But she did know how, and so she answered herself. “I think he has done the job that he was trained to do,” she said of Officer Daniel Pantaleo, whose chokehold ended Garner’s life, “and I think he did a good job—to kill us.”

It’s unfair to say NYPD officers are trained to kill black people. But Miller isn’t using hyperbole when she says Pantaleo was doing his job and doing it well when he encountered Garner on July 17. For nearly a generation, it has been NYPD’s explicit policy to marshal a big response to small things, to treat the illegal distribution of 75 cent loosies with the gravity of a violent felony. This approach has been so widely recreated in cities around the country that broken windows policing, as it’s called, is now synonymous with effective policing. And it is this noxious, conventional wisdom that a grand jury failed to indict yesterday.

Officer Pantaleo may or may not ultimately be held accountable for his crime—by the department, by the feds or by the heavens. Whatever happens, justice does not lie in his fate. Justice will be found in the degree to which Mayor Bill de Blasio lives into the words he spoke following the grand jury announcement.

“There is a momentum for change that will be felt in every neighborhood,” de Blasio insisted, ticking off reforms already underway—a pilot program for body cams on cops, some decriminalization of marijuana possession, new limits on stop-and-frisk. But in considering reform, it’s instructive to revisit the circumstances that led Pantaleo to grab Garner around the neck and drag him to the ground.

As WNYC’s Robert Lewis reported back in September, Pantaleo is a poster boy for broken windows policing. He’s been on the force since 2007, and in that time records show him as the arresting officer in 259 criminal court cases. They are overwhelmingly for minor crimes like pot possession; just 24 of them were for felonies. “Two-thirds of Pantaleo’s cases that made it to court ended with a dismissal or a guilty plea to a disorderly conduct violation,” Lewis reported, “which is a little more serious than a speeding ticket. He is one of the most active cops on Staten Island.”

This is what broken windows cops are supposed to do. They beef up their ranks in priority neighborhoods and get in folks’ faces over anything and everything. I’ve lived in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, for about a decade. Our neighborhood has for many years been on NYPD’s list of target spots for broken windows—“impact zones,” as they’re called. It’s unexceptional here to swap stories of run-ins with bizarrely unreasonable cops—telling us stop lingering by the subway entrance, to get out of the street, to move along. Eric Garner’s frustrated response to that constant harassment will appear routine to anyone who’s lived in neighborhoods like ours. He’d just broken up a fight, and now here was NYPD in his face, again. “Every time you see me you wanna arrest me,” Garner snapped. “I’m tired of it. It stops today.”

NYPD brass had ordered the 120th precinct to make a priority out of interrupting the sale of untaxed cigarettes, according to a Daily News report just after Garner’s death. It was a recurring “quality-of-life” issue, a spokesperson told the paper. Garner had been arrested for violating New Yorkers’ quality of life in this way eight times. So Pantaleo and his colleagues were doing their job and doing it well. And when Garner pushed back on their outsized response to his petty alleged crime, they escalated further. After all, that is the oxymoronic premise of broken windows policing: the cops should escalate things in order to keep things under control, and that will keep us all safe.

The contradictions within this idea beg unpleasant questions: Who is us and what is danger? Commissioner Bill Bratton gave some indication of the us and them of New York City crime and safety not long after he took the department’s helm. In a March speech at the Waldorf-Astoria, Bratton reassured business leaders that he’d stand firm behind broken windows policing.

“We will be focusing on ensuring that aggressive begging and squeegee pests, all those activities that create fear and destroy neighborhoods, graffiti, all those seemingly minor things that were so much in evidence in the ’80s and early ’90s here, don’t have the chance to come back.” He vowed a late-night tour of the subway with criminologist George Kelling, one of the intellectual fathers of broken windows. “George and I are going to go out, kind of like old times for us, riding the rails and getting a sense.” But don’t worry, he insisted, their Old West posse would treat New York City’s terrifying “pests”—also known as poor people—“respectfully” and “compassionately.”

Eleven times Eric Garner told the cops huddled around him that he couldn’t breathe. His unanswered pleas for respect and compassion echo in the canyon that separates the conceptual niceties of broken windows from its ugly, grinding reality.

In the hours following the grand jury announcement, the idea of body cams for cops morphed quickly from a hopeful reform to a Twitter punchline. After all, the whole incident here was recorded and the whole world has seen it. Still, maybe body cams will bring some marginal reforms; the record’s mixed in jurisdictions where they’ve been deployed. But the real killer here isn’t in the margins. It’s not the tools cops use. It’s not their training. It’s not the rigged game of grand juries. At least, these things aren’t at root. The root problem is a consensus that we make cities safe by harassing the residents of their black neighborhoods. It is that idea that must be indicted and convicted and put away for good.

*Post has been updated since publication to reflect that Garner had not been convicted of selling loose cigarettes on the day he was killed.

Southeast Asian Activists Urge ‘Solidarity With Black People’ Post Garner Non-Indictment

Southeast Asian Activists Urge 'Solidarity With Black People' Post Garner Non-Indictment
In response to a grand jury’s failure indict Daniel Pantaleo, the white Staten Island police officer who was captured on video choking unarmed, black Eric Garner to death, a collective of Southeast Asian activists have issued an
open letter encouraging solidarity with black people. The letter—unedited:

To our loved Southeast Asian people,

WE HAVE BEEN WITNESS TO SEVERE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AGAINST THE BLACK COMMUNITY, AND WE HAVE HEALING AND ORGANIZING TO DO: On Monday November 24th, a St. Louis County prosecutor announced that Mike Brown’s killer will not be indicted. We are heartbroken with rage and sadness that another Black child was murdered in the street and no one will be held accountable. And again today, justice has been denied as the system chooses to hold no one accountable in the murder of Eric Garner by the NYPD. We cry for the families of Mike Brown and Eric Garner as they are forced to find peace through their own means and struggle. We are pained to our core that the community’s truth is so violently and publicly stripped away through legal system processes that weren’t built to honor our truth.

WE NEED TO DO OUR WORK OF CONNECTING OUR STRUGGLES TO THOSE OF OUR BLACK SISTERS, BROTHERS, AND KINFOLK: On Monday, our world stopped. But for many in our community, it didn’t. We know what it means for our lives to be taken by armed bodies of US government while no one pays attention, here and in our homelands. We know what it means to be forced to find peace with our trauma, and find justice on our own without solidarity from the outside world. We know what it means for the truth of our experience to be stripped from us by the system, and then have to live with our truth in the shadows and be invisible in our intergenerational trauma and pain. As Black communities charge genocide, war and state violence on their lives and futures by the forces that are meant to protect them, we know deeply the meaning of these very words and experiences as we carry the weight and history of mass human rights violations against our people from one side of the world to the other.

AS A SOUTHEAST ASIAN COMMUNITY, LET US REMEMBER OUR DEEP RESILIENCE AND COLLECTIVE HEALING THROUGH OUR OWN STRUGGLES, AND OFFER OURSELVES, OUR LOVE, AND OUR SOLIDARITY TO THE BLACK COMMUNITY: Our solidarity work must begin with organizing and transforming ourselves, our families, and our loved ones by understanding how anti-black racism has impacted our own community. Let us feel the division and injustice that systemic colorism and anti-blackness has done to our community, as we are taught to value those of us who are light-skinned over those of us who are dark-skinned. Let us see that the struggle of Black communities against police and state violence directly impacts our community’s survival as we face that violence as well. Let us be clear through this understanding that while our oppressions are connected, our oppression is not the same. Black bodies are systemically and historically dehumanized in this country in ways we will never face. We must now also own our failure as a Southeast Asian community to be in solidarity with the Black community in times of crisis and movement. And we must do better, right now.

WE MUST READY OUR MINDS AND HEARTS FOR A BLACK LIBERATION MOVEMENT THAT ALL OF OUR LIVES DEPEND ON, BECAUSE OUR LIBERATION AS SOUTHEAST ASIANS MUST DEMAND THAT PEOPLE AND THE SYSTEM TRULY BELIEVE THAT BLACK LIVES MATTER: Now is the time for us to show up and unveil the raw truth of our beings as Southeast Asian survivors and warriors, and bring it with our Black family. We will not remain calm. We will not believe that property is more valuable than life. We will not turn our heads as Black people are shot every 28 hours by police or vigilantes in this country. We will respect and follow the leadership of those most marginalized on the ground - Black youth, Black queer folk, Black trans folk, Black mothers, and Black sisters. We will be guided by those who have been in the streets for over 100 days using their voices and bodies to demand justice and dignity. It is no longer enough to watch. We will roll up our sleeves, hit the streets, and do our part to make the world stop.

In love,

Your family of the Southeast Asian Freedom Network (SEAFN)

Mekong NYC
Freedom, Inc.
Providence Youth Student Movement
1Love Movement
SOY-Shades of Yellow
VAYLA New Orleans

An Appreciation: Eric Garner

An Appreciation: Eric Garner

On the July day when a Staten Island policeman choked Eric Garner to death—on video—he dared to stand up for himself. The cops had stopped him too many times to accuse him of selling loosies. He declared that he wouldn’t take it anymore, that he was sick of being harassed. He asked the police to leave him alone. Begged them to, really. Their response was a call for backup, to swarm him and to set it up so that Officer Daniel Pantaleo could choke him to death. Tonight, when officials announced what we expected, that the white policeman who strangled the black 43-year-old father and husband wouldn’t even be tried for reckless endangerment, there is fury.

Folks are staging “die-ins,” flanking Christmas tree lightings and shutting down highways. News people are reassuring viewers that the protest is non-violent. White commentators are telling the public how people of color feel about the police. Apparently we weren’t loud enough in Ferguson or Brooklyn, Oakland or Cleveland or Philadelphia. People haven’t written enough pieces like this one to convey that bald fact. Hell, the videos of Garner’s extermination, the Walmart footage of John Crawford, the two-seconds-long lynching of Tamir Rice just haven’t been in the right key.

On Twitter I posted that a white cop would need to publicly disembowel, fry and eat a black man for a grand jury to allow a trial. That gruesome tweet got no “favorites” or retweets. But these killings are absurd enough in their mundanity to conjure up such a horror-flick picture. As absurd as Michael Brown’s stepfather being pressured to apologize for his hurt and rage. As absurd as policemen’s unions acting indignant when a few professional football players throw their hands up (don’t shoot, please). As absurd as the media patting families of victims on the head when they ask—no warn—folks to keep it peaceful. Because the police slaying of an unarmed loved one is just what they need to be more like Gandhi or King.

Eric Garner told the police to leave him be. He was slaughtered (not “murdered,” that’s a criminal charge) for asserting himself. Tonight Eric Garner’s widow asserted herself. She told a crowd at a press conference, “Hell no.” Hell no, I do not accept belated condolences from Daniel Pantaleo. Apparently the Garners go the route of putting ground up glass in massa’s food and breaking the tools.

Eric Garner repeated “I can’t breathe” before he died, but before that he said no. His widow is now saying no.*

So, NO.

*Post has been updated since publication for style and clarity

TAGS: Eric Garner

What Obama Says He’ll Do About Police Brutality

What Obama Says He'll Do About Police Brutality

After his Monday meeting with law enforcement officials, politicians and community leaders, President Obama announced a White House plan to build trust between civilians and police in light of events in Ferguson. The plan will:

1. Establish a task force on police accountability
Obama has assigned Philadelphia Police Department Chief Chuck Ramsey and George Mason University professor and former assistant attorney general Laurie Robinson as co-chairs of the task force charged with reaching out to “law enforcement and community activists and other stakeholders” to hear their ideas. In three months they will report back to the president with best practices to create police accountability, transparency and trust. They will also propose how the federal government can work with state and local communities to institutionalize these best practices.

Chief Ramsey has long led a department with a spotted record on police brutality. In an article posted on AlterNet Tuesday, Steven Rosenfeld outlines troubling tactics, including overseeing the false arrests of more than 700 people in 2000, targeting videographers and using undercover officers to provoke confrontations.

2. Demilitarize the police
The federal government’s 1033 program is responsible for getting military-grade equipment into the hands of domestic law enforcement. Following a massive show of force in Ferguson in August, President Obama ordered a review of the Pentagon’s weapons program. With that review in now, Obama is planning to sign an executive order that specifies how we are going to make sure that that program can help, how we’re going to make sure that that program is transparent, and how are we going to make sure that we’re not building a militarized culture inside our local law enforcement.”

The 1033 program is pretty mismanaged as it is. As Jorge Rivas and Daniel Rivero uncovered in their investigation for Fusion, 184 local police departments have been dropped from the program, either because equipment went missing or because they violated the program rules. And we’re talking pretty serious equipment such as missing M16 assault rifles and even two Humvee vehicles. As it stands, police departments that are booted from the program can’t get new military-grade equipment—but they get to keep the equipment they’ve already recieved. 

For some, the president’s overture comes a little too late.

“It’s unbelievable that we haven’t established checks and balances for the 1033 program,” said Millennial Activists United’s Ashley Yates of the president’s plan. Yates was one of eight community activists who attended a meeting with the president at the White House on Monday. “We put military weapons in cities to combat terrorism, but they produce terrorism. I am terrified when I see a Humvee parked on the corner in my neighborhood.”

3. Fund body cams for cops
Obama wants to invest in funding and training for police officers. This includes introducing community policing measures and 50,000 body-worn cameras. He’s going to need Congress to sign off on a $263 million spending package to make it happen—$75 million will be slated for body cams alone. The president hopes that “the training and the technology […] can enhance trust between communities and police.”

Body cameras won’t necessarily put an end to police brutality—and the beatings and/or killings of Rodney King, Oscar King, John Crawford and many more have been caught on camera with little to no consequences for the officers who caused the harm. That leaves some activists doubting the outcome of this initiative.

“All across Ohio people are calling for front facing body cameras for police,” said the Ohio Students Association’s James Hayes during a press call on Tuesday. “But the truth of matter is that body cameras aren’t a sure thing. Will police be able to turn them off? Will the public have access to [footage] or get justice after an incident?”

4. Convene community meetings
Attorney General Eric Holder has been tasked with participating in community conversations about police brutality in order to produce more solutions. According to the president, Holder will “begin a process in which we’re able to surface honest conversations with law enforcement, community activists, academics, elected officials [and] the faith community.” Holder’s work will parallel the Ramsey and Robinson task force to tackle what Obama calls “a solvable problem” that needs sustained engagement around the country.

Some folks are already proposing more solutions.

“One tool that will allow us to have healthy conversations is the collection and dissemination of data about [police killings],” said Hayes, who would like to see data from precincts gathered the way data from schools is collected. “Much of the data that exists is incomplete—it’s either not being collected at departmental or municipal level and or it’s voluntary for them to collect it and send it to the FBI.”

During his remarks on Monday, President Obama praised two of the eight activists he met with that day: Brittany Packnett and Rasheen Aldridge. According to USA Today, Aldridge—who once idolized the president—was let down by Obama. “I felt disappointed,” Aldridge told the publication.

Obama’s press secretary, Josh Earnest, has said that the president is still considering whether to visit Ferguson himself, following a story published on Politico that explains how the president debated a visit to the site where Darren Wilson killed Mike Brown but decided to stay in Washington instead. 

No Indictment for Officer Daniel Pantaleo, Who Choked Eric Garner to Death

No Indictment for Officer Daniel Pantaleo, Who Choked Eric Garner to Death

A Staten Island grand jury has decided not to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, who was captured on camera placing Eric Garner in a chokehold on July 9, resulting in his death. Garner was being questioned for selling loose cigarettes near the Staten Island Ferry stop. 

Garner’s killing had been ruled a homicide, but today’s decision means he won’t face criminal charges for his death. Pantaleo had been stripped of his gun and placed on desk duty. Despite today’s decision by the grand jury, Pantaleo may face further discipline

Black St. Louis Cops Issue Statement, Stand by Rams

Black St. Louis Cops Issue Statement, Stand by Rams

A group representing St. Louis’ black police officers issued a statement this Monday* standing by five Rams players who entered Sunday’s NFL football game doing “hands up, don’t shoot,” widely perceived as a gesture of support for Ferguson protesters. The African-American group’s support directly contradicts that of the St. Louis Police Officers Association, which issued its own public statement against the Rams and has raised significant financial support for former officer Darren Wilson. The statement appears on the Facebook page of the Ethical Society of Police, which describes itself as “the primary voice of African American Police Officers in St. Louis City,” and according to its Web site, dates its founding to at least 1968. Their statement reads in full: 


The Statements of the St. Louis Police Officers Association does not represent the opinion of a majority of African American Officers. 

General Counsel, Attorney Gloria McCollum, on behalf of THE ETHICAL SOCIETY OF POLICE- St. Louis, STATES: 

“THE ETHICAL SOCIETY OF POLICE, is the primary voice of African

We think that their actions were commendable and that they should not be ridiculed, disciplined or punished for taking a stand on this very important issue which is of great concern around the world and especially in the community where these players work. 


The Ethical Society of Police has been the primary bridge between African American community and the police department for many years. The Ethical Society will use its best efforts to continue to work with the community leaders and the Department of Justice to address issues that affect our community such as racial profiling, police brutality and disparities in hiring and disciplining practices of African American Officers. 

GLORIA J. MCCOLLUM, General Counsel for the Ethical Society of Police, - St. Louis, Misouri


*Post has been updated since publication to correct that the statement issue date was Monday, December 1, not Tuesday, December 2.

What Does it Feel Like to be a Black Mother During Ferguson?

What Does it Feel Like to be a Black Mother During Ferguson?

In a powerful essay over at Bustle, Mikki Kendall breaks down what it feels like to be a mother in the precarious minutes, hours, days and months between the time when Darren Wilson shot and killed Mike Brown and now—after a St. Louis grand jury declined to indict Wilson.

Here’s a snippet:

“In other words, you do everything you can to help bring this crisis to public attention because, while you’re waiting for justice for one mother’s baby, you have to keep your hands busy and that might as well be doing the work of trying to make the world see how violently threatened all of our Black babies are. And that’s really what it feels like to be a Black mother at this moment in America: Complete terror at knowing the real vulnerability our kids face simply by existing, pressing urgency to do what we can to illuminate and solve the conditions that create that threat, and desperate outrage when justice isn’t doled out fairly.”

You can read Kendall’s entire essay over at Bustle.  

Chicago Approves New Minimum Wage: $13-an-Hour

Chicago Approves New Minimum Wage: $13-an-Hour

Just in time for the two-year anniversary of the fast-food workers’ Fight for $15 campaign, Chicago yesterday adopted a higher minimum wage. The city’s new $13-an-hour wage floor is expected to be phased in by 2019 and comes less than a month after nearly 70 percent of Illinois residents voted, in a nonbinding referendum, for a new $10-an-hour state minimum by 2015. Fast-food workers kicked off their fight for a $15-an-hour minimum wage with national strikes in November 2012 and have been at the forefront of calls throughout the country for similar increases from low-wage workers in other industries like healthcare and retail.

The Illinois state minimum remains $8.25-an-hour. Some officials, according to Northern Public Radio, are worried that during this session the statehouse will consider business-backed legislation prohibiting municipalities from raising their minimums above the state’s. Franchisee owners are mobilizing nationally to counter the growing union-backed movement for a higher minimum wage, the Wall Street Journal reports.

San Francisco recently became the second U.S. city this year to join Seattle in adopting the highest minimum wage in the country at $15-an-hour.

(h/t NPR)

Cosby Sued for Sexual Battery, NYC Grand Jury Decision, Mike Brown’s Stepdad Investigated

Cosby Sued for Sexual Battery, NYC Grand Jury Decision, Mike Brown's Stepdad Investigated

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:

  • Brian Williams slow jams the immigration executive action news on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”:

    TAGS: Morning Rush

    Are Police Unions Choosing Labor Rights Over Public Safety?

    Are Police Unions Choosing Labor Rights Over Public Safety?

    Are police unions choosing labor rights over the public’s safety? That’s the question Conor Friedersdorf raises in a provocative op-ed in The Atlantic today. It’s a timely look at allegiances given the St Louis Police Officers Association’s letter threatening boycott and condemning Rams players’ “hands up” gesture during Sunday’s pre-game introductions as well as its fundraising effort for Darren Wilson. Friedersdorf culls examples of police unions’ influence in protecting the jobs and pensions of officers who have been disciplined. One such example is Oakland policeman Hector Jimenez, a case that reporter Ali Winston covered for Colorlines in 2009 and 2011. As told by Friedersdorf:

    In 2007, [Jimenez] shot and killed an unarmed 20-year-old man. Just seven months later, he killed another unarmed man, shooting him three times in the back as he ran away. Oakland paid a $650,000 settlement to the dead man’s family in a lawsuit and fired Jimenez, who appealed through his police union. Despite killing two unarmed men and costing taxpayers all that money, he was reinstated and given back pay.

    There are other egregious examples like Chicago’s Jon Burge, 66, who, despite torturing at least 100 black men while police commander, this year got to keep his $54,000-a-year pension. His supporters on the pension board, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, were police officers.

    Friedersdorf notes that, “[not] every officer who is fired deserves it, [and not] every reinstated cop represents a miscarriage of justice”—but his small sampling of disciplined-then-reinstated officers, alone, also illustrates a need for reform.

    Read the full story at The Atlantic.

    Father of Cop Who Killed Tamir Rice Says Son Believes He Acted Properly

    Father of Cop Who Killed Tamir Rice Says Son Believes He Acted Properly

    Fred Loehmann, father of one of the two police officers who shot and killed Tamir Rice in Cleveland on November 22, says his son Tim Loehmann believes he had no choice but to shoot the 12-year-old African-American boy, the Northeast Ohio Media Group reported. 

    “He’s living his life,” Loehmann said of his son Tim, an eight-month rookie with the Cleveland police academy. The officer was with his partner, veteran Fred Garmback, when they sped up to a park gazebo where Rice was playing with an airsoft gun. In an exchange that lasted just two seconds, Loehmann jumped out of the car and shot and killed Rice as his partner Garmback pulled up to Rice. “I had no choice,” the elder Loehmann recalls his son telling him.

    Rice’s shooting death came amidst the final days of tense anticipation as the nation awaited a St. Louis grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, a black teen.

    A funeral for Rice is being held at 11am ET on Wednesday, NBC reported. 

    Former NFL Player-Turned-Actor Terry Crews on What Makes a Man in 2014

    Former NFL Player-Turned-Actor Terry Crews on What Makes a Man in 2014

    A highlight of a new interview with “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” actor Terry Crews is when he tells a story of his 6-year-old son’s shame at having to admit feeling afraid in front of him (12:45-15:07). He saw himself in his son’s vulnerability and handled it in a way that’s perhaps different from how he grew up in 1970s Flint, Mich. Crews recently keynoted a Canadian conference, “What Makes A Man,” and sat with Elamin Abdelmahmoud* to talk feminism (“it scares men”) and manhood.  His talk comes at a time when a number of high-profile and beloved male entertainers—Bill Cosby, Ray Rice and, in Canada, Jian Ghomeshi—are forcing public and revelatory conversations about the bounds of appropriate manhood. Crews, who’s spoken openly about growing up watching his father hit his mother, doesn’t mind all the debate though. He thinks it gives men an opportunity to re-direct and choose healthier ways to be.


    * Post has been updated since publication with the correct name of Crews’ interviewer, Elamin Abdelmahmoud of “The Agenda with Steve Paiken.”

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