Colorlines

NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

CHP Officer Who Beat Marlene Pinnock May Face Criminal Charges

CHP Officer Who Beat Marlene Pinnock May Face Criminal Charges

California Highway Patrol officer Daniel Andrew, caught on video by a passing motorist straddling and repeatedly punching Marlene Pinnock on a Los Angeles freeway, may face criminal charges, Los Angeles’s ABC7 reported.

CHP sent its investigation on the incident to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, which now will decide whether to file charges against Andrew, ABC reported. CHP is also conducting its own internal investigation into the incident.

Last month, Pinnock and her attorneys filed a lawsuit alleging that her civil rights were violated. 

Nearly 80% of Ferguson Protestors Taken to St. Louis Jail are Missourians

Nearly 80% of Ferguson Protestors Taken to St. Louis Jail are Missourians

The Washington Post reports that out of the 155 people arrested and taken to St. Louis County jail in connection to the demonstrations against the killing of Michael Brown, 123 are from Missouri—and out of those, nearly all are from the St. Louis area. Just last week, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson blamed protests on what he called “outside agitators.” The numbers obtained by the Washington Post paint a very different picture.

Not included in Washington Posts’s data are the numbers of people who were booked into municipal jails, so it’s possible these percentages will change. And we don’t know who, exactly, was arrested. For example, it appears that at least 12 out-of-town journalists may have been booked into St. Louis County jail; if that’s the case, the percentage of activists arrested from states other than Missouri drops down to just 13 percent.  

Eric Holder Recounts Being Harassed by Police

Eric Holder Recounts Being Harassed by Police

The top federal official in charge of investigating the death of Michael Brown and upholding this nation’s civil rights knows what it’s like to be harassed by the cops. And he told young people and community gathered at St. Louis Community College so on Tuesday.

“I understand that mistrust. I am the attorney general of the United States. But I am also a black man,” Eric Holder said, Politico reported. The head of the nation’s Department of Justice spoke about being stopped, not just as a young person, but also as an adult working as a federal prosecutor. 

Politico’s Lucy McCalmont reported:

Holder recounted to the group of 50 how he was stopped in New Jersey twice, accused of speeding as officers searched his car.

“I remember how humiliating that was and how angry I was and the impact it had on me,” he said.

Holder also recalled how he and his cousin were stopped in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., while heading to a movie, and his cousin started “mouthing off.”

“I’m like, ‘This is not where we want to go. Keep quiet.’ I’m angry and upset. We negotiate the whole thing and we walk to our movie,” the attorney general said. “At the time that he stopped me, I was a federal prosecutor. I wasn’t a kid. I was a federal prosecutor. I worked at the United States Department of Justice. So I’ve confronted this myself.”

His honesty, and willingness to explicitly tackle racial injustice in his role as the attorney general are a refreshing counterpoint to his boss’s stance.

For more on what Holder is up against, read Kai Wright’s breakdown of what Holder is facing in Ferguson.

Eyewitness Video of Kajieme Powell Shooting Contradicts Police Story

Eyewitness Video of Kajieme Powell Shooting Contradicts Police Story

On Tuesday, August 19, 25-year-old Kajieme Powell was shot and killed by two St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department officers, just miles away from where Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson on August 9. A disturbing video of the shooting, taken by an eyewitness, that was released yesterday contradicts the initial statement given by the St. Louis Police Chief after the shooting.

As Andres Jauregui of the Huffington Post reports reports, the initial statement was as follows: 

In a statement delivered before a crowd near the scene of the shooting, St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said that both officers opened fire on Powell after the suspect came within three or four feet of police while holding the knife in an “overhand grip.”

The video shows Powell is much further away then three feet and the object, believed to be a knife, that seems to be in his hand is by his side—not “in an ‘overhand grip.’”

But that’s not all. In his statement, Dotson claimed that, “when [the police officers] initially got out of the car, they did not have their weapons drawn. When the suspect displayed his knife, they drew their weapons.” In the video, both police officers have their guns drawn and aimed at Powell as they’re getting out of the car—before Powell seems to display any weapon.

Furthermore, the officers continued to fire after Powell was on the ground, with at least four additional shots. They seemed to have shot him about a dozen times in total. The video shows Powell pacing back and forth before the police show up, but he does not physically hurt anyone. Storeowners called the police on Powell after he allegedly stole snacks from the store.

Afterwards the shooting, witnesses are heard reacting on the video: “Oh my god. They just killed this man. He didn’t have a gun on him. Now they’re cuffing him. He’s already dead.” Another says, “Over two fucking sodas, man. They could’ve tased that man.”

According to New York Magazine, neighbors have described Powell, who’s heard on the video yelling “shoot me now” multiple times, as mentally ill. He. A 2012 investigation uncovered that approximately fifty percent of people killed by police have mental health issues. The Portland Press Herald states

“In many cases, mentally ill people shot by police have threatened, injured or even killed others. Sometimes, they have threatened suicide or expressed a desire to be shot by the police. Frequently, the use of deadly force seems excessive, if not utterly unnecessary.”

Crisis training in how to deal with the mentally ill is lacking in police departments across the country; according to the 2012 investigation, “virtually all of the officers who pulled the trigger lacked training that might have prevented a tragedy.”

Ramarley Graham’s Parents Drop Off Petition, Rally For Federal Investigation

Ramarley Graham's Parents Drop Off Petition, Rally For Federal Investigation

Constance Malcolm and Frank Graham, parents of Ramarley Graham, led a rally to the office of US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, on Wednesday to demand a federal investigation into the killing of their son.

In 2012, NYPD officer Richard Haste killed 18-year-old Ramarley Graham in his bathroom after breaking down the door to his apartment. The case went to a grand jury and Haste was indicted on manslaughter charges only to have the charges thrown out by Bronx Supreme Court Justice Steven Barrett on a technicality. When another grand jury convened, they failed to indict Haste. In 2013, the Justice Department said the case was under review but Ramarley Graham’s parents have not gotten any updates since then.

During the rally on Wednesday, Frank Graham spoke to the crowd, saying, “my son has been dead almost two-and-a-half years … and I’m still waiting for our day in court.”

The petition delivered to Bharara states

Dear Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara,

On April 12, 2014, Ramarley Graham would have been celebrating his 21st birthday, but two years earlier he was gunned down in his own home by plainclothes NYPD Officer Richard Haste.

As is so often the case involving Black victims of deadly police violence, Ramarley’s killer has not been brought to justice by the Bronx County District Attorney’s office. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has a duty to protect our community against racial profiling and the violence that it creates, especially when local or state prosecutors fail to do so.

This case has been under review by the DOJ and the United States Attorney’s Office since last summer. It’s time for federal officials to take action. By holding Officer Haste accountable for his deadly actions, you can send a strong message to law enforcement across the country that your office will protect our community against racial profiling and senseless police violence.

We demand that you conduct a full and thorough investigation and bring federal charges against Officer Haste.

(h/t Huffington Post)

NYPD Accused of Coverup in Death of Japanese Student

NYPD Accused of Coverup in Death of Japanese Student

Meanwhile, back in New York City…yet another questionable death at the hands of NYPD. Ryo Oyamada, a 24-year-old from Japan who was studying in the U.S., was struck and killed by a speeding patrol car in February 2013. At the time, NYPD said the police cruiser was rushing to respond to a 911 call and had its sirens flashing. Now, more than a year later, evidence emerges that contradicts that account and strongly suggests a coverup to avoid holding the officer accountable in Oyamada’s death, Gothamist reports.

Witnesses at the time of the death told Gothamist and other local media that the officer, Darren Ilardi, didn’t turn on his flashing lights until after hitting Oyamada. After the accident, which took place in the early morning hours near a public housing complex in Queens, witnesses gathered around and responded angrily. They were quickly dispersed and never interviewed for the police report, according to Gothamist. Now, Oyamada’s family lawyer has obtained through Freedom of Information requests a video of the accident recorded by the public housing complex’s security cameras. The video is an edited compilation of footage from two cameras. Gothamist reports:

At the 1:35 mark, the headlights of an NYPD cruiser allegedly driven by Officer Ilardi appear in the upper left-hand corner of Camera 1. It speeds out of the right side of the frame at 1:42, after crossing the intersection of 40th Avenue and 10th Street. (This next block is where Oyamada was killed.) Pausing the video at several points appears to show that the cruiser’s flashing lights were not on, which is consistent with witness statements to the media and contrary to informal NYPD statements, as well as the police report.

At the 1:45 mark, Camera 1 appears to show the first indication that the NYPD cruiser’s flashing lights are on, judging by the reflection of lights on a street sign. This sudden reflection of lights would correspond to witness statements that Officer Ilardi only turned on his flashing lights after colliding with Oyamada.

The Oyamada family’s lawyer told Gothamist he believes the tape has been edited to remove the moment of the accident; the version that is in NYPD’s possession has not been made public. Further, the family charges in its recently filed lawsuit that records reveal Officer Ilardi was not even assigned to the 911 call to which NYPD claims he was responding. 

The case raises still more questions about a culture of lawlessness among police in New York City. In July, Eric Garner, an unarmed black man in Staten Island, was killed when police put him in a chokehold while detaining him for selling untaxed cigarettes. And earlier this month, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara released a 79-page report documenting a “culture of violence” among corrections officers who have abused teenage inmates at the city’s jail on Rikers Island. The report found that more than 4 in 10 male teens in the jail had been subjected to use of force by guards as of October 2012, and that there was a “powerful code of silence” among the jail’s staff that prevented officials from being held accountable for abuse. 

Relative Calm in Ferguson, Twinkie Factory to Close and Selfie Queen

Relative Calm in Ferguson, Twinkie Factory to Close and Selfie Queen

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

  • One of the four remaining Twinkie factories is closing.  
  • Two of three U.S. citizens who were infected with Ebola and miraculously treated will be released soon.
TAGS: Morning Rush

Following Ferguson: Asian Americans Can Choose ‘Invisibility, Complicity, or Resistance’

Following Ferguson: Asian Americans Can Choose 'Invisibility, Complicity, or Resistance'

I’ve got multiracial coalition on the mind today and so, clearly, do others. As Deepa Iyer wrote for The Nation, non-black people of color have a stake in the search for justice for Michael Brown. 

But, efforts to move non-black people of color by reminding them of their own horrid experiences with the cops only have so much power. As Soya Jung, a Korean-American activist, writes for Race Files,

I do not move through the world in the crosshairs of a policing system that has its roots in slave patrols, or in a nation that has used me as an “object of fear” to justify state repression and public disinvestment from the infrastructure on which my community relies. I am not public enemy number one in the ongoing U.S. domestic war over power and resources that has systematically denied black humanity.

Communities of color have unique experiences that should not be equated with one another. People of color in the U.S. all live amidst white supremacy, but not everyone lives as targets of anti-blackness. Jung argues that Asian Americans have three options: “invisibility, complicity, or resistance.”

Far from being an academic issue for race nerds to debate, Asian-American business owners in Ferguson are immersed in the conversation in a very real way, and have called for “unity,” reports The Daily Beast’s Tim Mak. Mak’s story was slapped with an inflammatory headline though, which described the looting of stores as “Ferguson’s Other Race Problem.” 

Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA executive director Stewart Kwoh took issue with that characterization, and released a statement saying so:

In the coming weeks, we will likely hear stories from Ferguson about ongoing protests by African American community members and allies, similar to the days following the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles. At that time, the media pitted communities of color against one another. We cannot allow this to happen again. This is about dangerous, harmful law enforcement practices and the need to end racially-motivated police practices that target communities of color. The Asian American and Pacific Islander community stands in solidarity with the African American community in this fight.

Meanwhile, The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein spoke with U.S. mayors of cities where police have killed young men of color in high-profile case. Two said that looking back, heavy police repression in response to community outrage was a mistake which only further incited the community. Besides Ferguson’s aggressively militarized police response, what else was going on in the area before Michael Brown’s shooting set off his aggrieved, outraged community?

As Jamelle Bouie reports for Slate, a whole lot:

Everyone—or at least, every black person—can recall an incident. Everyone can attest to friends and relatives who have been harassed, assaulted, or worse by the police.

Perhaps one of the most disturbing cases was last year’s shooting of Cary Ball Jr., a 25-year-old black student at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park. The official police report is that Ball crashed his car after a high-speed chase, ran away, and aimed his weapon at officers after they confronted him. Witnesses say Ball had thrown his gun to the ground and was walking toward police—hands up—when he was shot and killed with 25 rounds. A federal investigation cleared the officers. Likewise, that February, surveillance video from a casino showed St. Louis police slamming a black man’s head into the bumper of a vehicle, after a dispute over gambling and trespassing. And in March of this year, a videoshowed St. Louis police officers beating a mentally disabled man in his home, after the family called police for help.

What are you reading today on Ferguson? Please share, and we’ll see you back here tomorrow. 

Cop In Ferguson Who Yelled “I Will F—king Kill You” Removed from Duty

Cop In Ferguson Who Yelled

A police officer that threatened to kill unarmed protesters in Ferguson Tuesday night has been removed from duty after ACLU of Missouri sent a letter to Colonel Ronald Replogle, who serves as superintendent for Missouri’s State Highway Patrol.

The officer was caught on livestream yelling “I will fucking kill you” to protesters in Ferguson. When asked to identify himself, the officer refused and said “go fuck yourself,” instead. 

ACLU of Missouri’s letter stated:

[T]his officer’s conduct—from pointing a weapon, to threatening to kill, to responding with profanity to a request for identity—was from start to finish wholly unacceptable. Such behavior serves to heighten, not reduce, tension.

ACLU-Missouri tweeted that the officer has been removed from duty Wednesday: 

New Policies Will Limit Los Angeles School Police Arrest Powers

New Policies Will Limit Los Angeles School Police Arrest Powers

Los Angeles Unified School District is attempting to shift the tide on school push out with updated school policies announced Tuesday and effective immediately. 

Los Angeles Unified School Police will no longer arrest or cite students for offenses like alcohol or pot possession, AP reported. Instead, students will be referred to administrators and counselors. The move is an effort to keep students in school and away from the juvenile justice system.

“We want students to be with us, not pushed out and sent to jail,” Los Angeles Superintendent John Deasy told AP. “We have been disproportionately incarcerating, disproportionately citing, and disproportionately suspending youth of color, and it’s wrong.”

In recent years, the school-to-prison pipeline has become a national conversation, and LAUSD has picked up on the conversation. Last year, LAUSD became the first district in the nation to stop suspending students for “defiance,” a catchall offense referring to disrespectful behavior, which was disproportionately applied to African American students.

Listen: B.o.B.’s ‘New Black’ Responds to Ferguson

Listen: B.o.B.'s 'New Black' Responds to Ferguson

Rapper B.o.B. has released a new track responding to the killing of Michael Brown’s in Ferguson: 

St. Louis Prosecutor Says Grand Jury Decision Could Take Until October

St. Louis Prosecutor Says Grand Jury Decision Could Take Until October

A grand jury will begin hearing evidence today on whether to indict Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown. According to St. Louis Post Dispatch, county Bob McCullough said the decision could take up to two months and that the “target is mid-October.” The grand jury will meet every Wednesday and will serve a three to four month term. The Washington Post outlined information on how the grand jury will proceed: 

The county prosecutor will present evidence from the investigation of the shooting to the jury, which will determine whether Wilson should be indicted on any criminal charges, including homicide. 

The county prosecutor has not said whether he will call witnesses. But legal experts say that it is likely and that the jury may eventually hear from Wilson. He may be considered a powerful witness — juries have a track record of wanting to believe police.

While authorities are hoping to restore order, some commentators are not convinced the grand jury process will soothe the anger in Ferguson—even if it results in Darren Wilson getting indicted. As Jamelle Bouie of Slate explains, police brutality in the St. Louis area extends much further than what happened to Michael Brown:

The anecdotes of brutality and excessive force out of St. Louis and St. Louis County are rampant and often startling. In 2009, for example, a man was wrongly arrested, beaten by police, and subsequently charged for bleeding on their uniforms. This abuse is so ubiquitous that the shooting of Michael Brown might seem like static against a backdrop of awfulness. But even for the area, Brown’s death was brutal. Which is why—in an otherwise quiet town in an otherwise quiet area—we’re dealing with an explosive fire that shows no signs of ending.

Another Night in Ferguson: Arrests, Pepper Spray and Gun Aimed Right to the Chest

Another Night in Ferguson: Arrests, Pepper Spray and Gun Aimed Right to the Chest

Although there was no tear gas deployed Tuesday night in Ferguson, tensions remained high as police advanced on protesters gathering near the local McDonalds. At least 47 people were arrested, mostly for failure to disperse; police also used pepper spray on a handful of protesters. Multiple journalists reported that police surrounded protesters that were gathering at McDonalds and started arrests after a water bottle was thrown.

Activist Rosa Clemente wrote a harrowing account of Tuesday night’s events on the streets of Ferguson as the police pointed guns and threatened to shoot her and a group of protesters after police attempted to disperse the crowd. Clemente’s group included Talib Kweli, Jessica Care Moore, Phil Agnew of the Dream Defenders, Malik Rhassan of Occupy My Hood, and more. The police surrounded the group with guns drawn, ordered everyone to lie down and told the group that if they “did no stop moving [they] would be shot,” Clemente writes. At one point, a young man in the group named Devin was having trouble breathing:

“The young brother lying on my feet as I was holding him was not able to control his breathing he said “I’m choking” the cop told him to stop or he would shoot him. I told him “try not to move, just lay still I got you.” The gun was at his chest. I looked at the cop and said “please, he is not doing anything. I tried to record but the cop had his finger on the trigger. I could feel Talib’s hand on my back and Jessica behind me. We laid there until one Black officer said “Let them go, we got who we wanted.” In all my life I have never been so terrified. The young brother Devin said thank you I think you saved my life.”

Clemente ended the account by adding, “this is a war zone, a military occupation and our children are the cannon fodder.”

Ferguson Matters for Non-Black Communities of Color, Too

Ferguson Matters for Non-Black Communities of Color, Too

Non-black people of color have a stake in Ferguson’s fight for justice for Michael Brown. So writes Deepa Iyer, an activist and writer who is on the board of directors of Race Forward, which publishes Colorlines.

Iyer writes at The Nation:

African-Americans are the primary targets of law enforcement profiling and violence, as the killings of Oscar GrantSean BellJonathan Ferrell and Eric Garner all attest. But during this past week, LatinoAsian-AmericanArab-American and Muslim organizations have all released statements of solidarity informed by similar experiences with discriminatory law enforcement practices, as well as an urgency to collectively identify and implement solutions.

In fact, Latinos and Asian- and Arab-Americans have a critical stake in reforming discriminatory police practices. While African-Americans in Ferguson must remain the primary voices and decision-makers calling for action to address the murder of Michael Brown, other communities of color can and must join Ferguson’s fight by linking the impact of racially motivated policing with the structural racial inequities that exacerbate it.

Latinos and immigrant communities are well acquainted with racial profiling vis-à-vis their experiences with immigration enforcement. Arab Americans and American Muslims are deeply familiar with what it’s like to be discriminated against and profiled under the pretext of national security, Iyer writes.

But amidst calls for multiracial coalition it can be tempting to equate these types of experiences. The fact remains that African Americans are uniquely and disproportionately impacted by police repression—which includes routine non-lethal harassment and over-policing that never grabs headlines. It’s dishonest to pretend otherwise. The call that communities of color ought to speak up because racial profiling and over-policing impacts them too, is true. But non-black people of color ought to be speaking up because Michael Brown’s killing and the police repression that came in its aftermath are a human travesty. 

When law enforcement trample on the rights of any group, we must all resist: the oppressive, militarized tactics on display in Ferguson have undermined people’s basic rights to peaceful assembly and movement,” Iyer writes.

Eric Holder’s Civil Rights Surge

Eric Holder's Civil Rights Surge

Attorney General Eric Holder strode into St. Louis County today with a much larger agenda than investigating Michael Brown’s killing. Whatever comes of his intervention into the case, Holder’s aggressive posture in Ferguson points to what many Washington observers understand to be his most deeply held goal at the Justice Department: rebuilding its beleaguered Civil Rights Division and restoring its pre-Bush relevance. Publicly, much of Holder’s tenure has instead been marked by his legal defense of the Obama administration’s national security policies. But as an unnamed Justice Department official told the Los Angeles Times today, “The attorney general has always been about race.”

In Ferguson, he steps into a treacherous political landscape. St. Louis County prosecutors began presenting evidence to a grand jury this morning, a process that County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch said will take until “the middle of October.” McCulloch is a Republican who’s held the office for 23 years, and his history with grand juries is checkered. In 2001, a St. Louis Post-Dispatch investigation caught him lying about damning testimony submitted to a grand jury in another fatal police shooting. McCulloch’s history, and his overall political posture as a bullish supporter of cops, have prompted calls for his removal from the case. That was a legal impossibility until Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency, which among other things gives him the power to remove McCoulloch. But the two politicians have been open enemies for far too long for Nixon to move so decisively—particularly given Nixon’s calculations as a moderate Democrat in a conservative state who is none-too-subtly positioning himself for a vice presidential nod in 2016. All of which is to say, there’s not a lot of hope for a clean, clear criminal case against Darren Wilson, at least without something forcing McCulloch to stand down on his own. 

But even with a more fair-minded prosecutor, the deck is consistently stacked in favor of law enforcement when police violence goes on trial. Julianne Hing reported on this hard reality for Colorlines as she covered the trial of Oakland transit cop Johannes Mehserle and the post-Katrina violence in New Orleans. A criminal case is just really tough to make. Here’s how Julianne explained it:

The challenge is that the legal bar for convicting cops of murder or wrongdoing is higher than for civilians. Cops have the benefit of qualified immunity, which allows them not to be held individually responsible for their actions, as long as they can establish that another competent and informed officer would have acted similarly. That’s a problem, for sure, if police brutality and racialized attacks are symptoms of a systemic disease.

So it will be extraordinary in the history of our legal system if Wilson is convicted of murdering Michael Brown. That’s something close observers know, and it’s surely one reason why the Justice Department is already in Ferguson looking for a civil rights case. Typically, that sort of inquiry would come only after a local, criminal case concludes; Holder has sped up the timeline. That’s significant: It means that as the local case takes its predictably disappointing course, particularly if led by McCulloch, everyone will also be able to see a federal inquiry in progress. That may turn out to be more symbolic than anything, but symbolism matters, too.

Holder reportedly saw the national import of Brown’s killing right away and began rallying his staff within hours. That’s not surprising, since he’s opened at least 20 previous civil rights investigations into police misconduct, according to the New York Times. Throughout President Obama’s time in office, Holder’s been a gadfly prodding racial justice onto the agenda of a reluctant White House. He has been most visibly aggressive fighting voting rights challenges, reaching down into local politics with spirited legal actions during each election cycle. But he’s also pushed the administration’s political boundaries on sentencing reform and, importantly, on a simple willingness to name publicly the beast of racism.

Lurking behind all of this is the larger mission that Holder set for himself in 2009. The Bush era was not kind to the Justice Department’s civil rights work. The Civil Rights Division was a focal point for the Bush administration’s most far right members. They transformed it from a watchdog of local wrongdoing into a place to exert political leverage over state attorney generals and begin gaming local level voting processes. Over half of the staff quit or got reassigned when Bush came into office. Up until 2006, the only voting rights inquiry they’d opened was to investigate black politicians in a small Mississippi town, charging that they’d denied the rights of white voters. The sort of openly racist emails that became the hallmark of the tea party right were back then already circulating freely among the federal leadership tasked with protecting the nation’s civil rights. Holder’s confirmation hearings were dominated by discussion of this perversity and of the disaster Bush’s people had made of the department’s civil rights work—and he vowed to fix it. 

So Holder’s actions in Michael Brown’s killing thus far suggest he’s identified Ferguson as a place to show off a newly restored Civil Rights Division. He’s dispatched 40 FBI agents, conducted an independent autopsy and sent in the division’s “most experienced prosecutors,” he wrote in a op-ed in today’s Post-Dispatch. “The full resources of the Department of Justice have been committed to the investigation into Michael Brown’s death,” he declared. The civil rights sheriff, he seemed to be declaring, is back in town.

Jose Antonio Vargas Leads ‘1 of 11 Million’ Campaign for Deportation Relief

Jose Antonio Vargas Leads '1 of 11 Million' Campaign for Deportation Relief

The Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and undocumented immigrant activist is on to his next campaign. Today, Jose Antonio Vargas and 10 other undocumented immigrants called on the Obama administration to make sure the president’s expected executive order on immigration includes expanded protection from deportation for the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants. The campaign was pushed out in conjunction with the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and first reported by the New York Times.

In language comparing immigrants of today to the “pilgrims” of yore who colonized the United States, the campaign calls on President Obama, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to “stop deportations and grant administrative relief to individuals, such as ourselves, who have strong ties to these United States, which we call our home.”

Vargas, Erika Aldape, Maria Guadalupe Arreola—the mother of the prominent immigrant rights activist Erika Andiola, Felipe de Jesus Diosdado, Maria del Rosario Duarte Villanueva, Michaela Graham, Noemi Romero, Eduardo Samaniego, Yestel Velasquez, Aly Wane and Jong Min You all filed applications for deferred action today. 

“For us, it’s really important to ask the question of how inclusive is the Obama administration’s relief going to be?” Vargas told The Huffington Post. “Who is going to get left out, and why?”

The group of 11 participants are meant to symbolically represent the estimated 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Among those included are Noemi Romero, who was charged with identity theft, which is a felony in her state of Arizona where Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has used the law to harshly prosecute undocumented immigrants. A felony conviction disqualifies Romero from eligibility for Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, said NILC attorney Kamal Essaheb. “It’s unfair that people who are targeted have to be further penalized by not being able to take part in administrative relief,” Essaheb said. “Just because someone has a conviction shouldn’t automatically exclude them. We hope [Obama’s executive order] is something that’s truly inclusive.”

For more about the campaign, visit Define American.

This post has been updated since publication.

A German War Correspondent’s Harrowing Take on Ferguson

A German War Correspondent's Harrowing Take on Ferguson

Foreign media outlets have been dispatching war correspondents to Ferguson to bring stories back to their readers and viewers. Several have been arrested, including two correspondents from Germany’s Die Welt. Ansgar Graw and Frank Hermann say they were held for three hours, during which time they denied water and the ability to make a phone call. 

In an English language version of Graw’s account, originally published in German, he explains how Ferguson compares to other war zones he’s worked in:

“This was a very new experience. I’ve been in several conflict zones: I was in the civil war regions in Georgia, the Gaza strip, illegally visited the Kaliningrad region when travel to the Soviet Union was still strictly prohibited for westerners, I’ve been in Iraq, Vietnam and in China, I’ve met Cuba dissidents. But to be arrested and yelled at and be rudely treated by police? For that I had to travel to Ferguson and St. Louis in the United States of America.”

Graw also explains that he asked the arresting officer for his name. “My name is Donald Duck,” the officer responded. 

Cornel West Calls Out Obama’s Hypocrisy on Ferguson

Cornel West Calls Out Obama's Hypocrisy on Ferguson

BBC Newsnight spoke with Cornel West about the protests in Ferguson demanding justice for Michael Brown, where he said the American justice system fails young black people and criticized Obama’s response to the unrest:

“Think about the hypocrisy here. Just recently the President just said ‘oh we tortured some folks’ but they were real patriots, but they were dealing with anguish and therefore, we let them free. But here, we got young people upset. Why? Because they rightly see a murder taking place. But he’s got to be the man of law and order. It’s not law and order when it comes to torture. Just like it’s not law and order when it comes to Israelis committing war crimes in Gaza but he’s law and order now when it comes to poor black people. You say, will wait a minute. The hypocrisy is overwhelming there. Spare me.” 

West also suggested that black communities need local, grassroots movements and not black leaders focused on “market branding … photo opportunities.”

Missouri Politician: Justice is an ‘Anglo American Tradition’

Missouri Politician: Justice is an 'Anglo American Tradition'

In an interview with MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow, Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder was responding to a question from Farrow about whether race is playing a role in Ferguson. Kinder acknowledged that it is—but added additional comments:

“We do not do justice in America in the streets, though. We have legal processes that are set in motion, that are designed after centuries of Anglo-American jurisprudence tradition. They’re designed to protect the rights and liberties of everyone involved. That includes the Brown family, for justice for them and for the community. It also includes the officer who has not yet been charged.”

The thing is, people taking to the streets is so fundamental to the United States’s sense of justice that it’s protected by the First Amendment. And Kinder’s comments about justice being an Anglo-American tradition probably couldn’t come at a worse time—and indicate yet another Missouri politician who’s out of touch.

But let’s not forget that Kinder, who’s a Republican, got a lot of pushback for denouncing a racist rodeo act featuring a clown wearing an Obama mask:

IS Beheads Journalist, Snapchat News Servie and Liberia Seals Entire Shanty Town

IS Beheads Journalist, Snapchat News Servie and Liberia Seals Entire Shanty Town

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

  • Chile’s La Silla observatory reveals an image of two incredibly gorgeous star formations. 
TAGS: Morning Rush
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