It ought not come as a surprise by now. Institutions with school resource officers—that is, school-based law enforcement personnel—report student arrests for disorderly conduct at nearly five times the rate of schools without similar personnel on campus, according to an infographic released by Boston University. The graphic examines the unequal toll that zero-tolerance policies and discipline have on black and Latino students, and the long chain of consequences that harsh discipline can trigger for young people—including lockup, expensive court-related fees and fines, and a cycle of arrest and jail time. The takeaway is that harsh discipline not only doesn’t benefit its targeted students, it also sets them on a path that’s dangerous and difficult to correct.
Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:
- John Kerry says he’ll soon be in Paris, which was the site of a massive rally attended by nearly 4 million people in support of France’s 17 slain police officers, journalists and other civilians.* Attendees included heads of state who coincidentally routinely imprison and kill journalists.
- Meanwhile, no massive rallies for the estimated 2,000 people killed in Nigeria.
- IS issues threats on the U.S., France, Australia and Canada.
- Today marks the five-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti.
- Cuba releases 53 political prisoners as part of renewed relations with the U.S.
- Gas prices hit a nearly six-year low in the U.S.
- The slender Galaxy A7 is here.
- The Golden Globes snubs Selma, stays racist and proves that Gina Rodriguez is everything. Oh, and it also gives Reuters a chance to write that women are apparently fashion accessories.
- Here we go: Taiwan confirms the outbreak of two new avian flu strains.
- Bionic implants may allow people paralyzed from spinal cord injuries to walk again.
*An earlier version of this post read that 17 journalists were killed in France; the post has been amended to reflect that 17 people, including journalists, were killed.
Natural disasters like Typhoon Haiyan—which devastated the Philippines in 2013—displace more people than war, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center in Geneva. And as climate change sets off increasingly lethal natural disasters, so will the numbers of environmental refugees increase, Reuters reported.
It is a reality that governments must prepare themselves for. In 2013, some 22 million people were displaced by extreme natural disasters like typhoons, earthquakes and tsunamis, a number three times the number of those who were forced to migrate because of war, according to the IDMC.
“Many more people in a growing population live more exposed to extreme weather,” Jan Egeland, the head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, which runs the IDMC, said this week at a conference in Oslo, Norway.
Climate change, rising sea levels, and extreme weather are decimating people’s homes and access to safe food and water. In 2011, experts predicted that by the year 2020, just five years from now, some 50 million people will be forced to migrate because of environmental degredation. Earlier this summer, New Zealand accepted a family Grist called the world’s first official environmental refugees, who cited climate change as the reason why they had to flee their homeland.
A growing group of people, organized by Black Lives Matter, has been camped out in front of the Los Angeles Police Department’s headquarters since December 29 protesting the extrajudicial killings of Ezell Ford and Omar Abrego in August. The ongoing encampment ranges from about five to 30 people at any given time.
Organizers, who are using the hashtag #OccupyLAPD, says they won’t leave until their two demands are met: they want officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas—who shot and killed Ezell Ford, an unarmed black man on August 11—to be terminated; they’re also demanding District Attorney Jackie Lacey file murder charges against Wampler and Villegas, based on an autopsy released in late December. Chief Charlie Beck has agreed to meet with the group today, nearly two weeks after the encampment began.
The autopsy for Omar Abrego hasn’t yet been released, but graphic video of his killing shows a group of officers holding an unarmed, bloodied, screaming and handcuffed Abrego down on August 2. Abrego was declared dead on August 3.
We caught up with Povi-Tamu Bryant, who works with Black Lives Matter in Los Angeles, today to ask about the encampment.
Why did you decide to camp out in front of the LAPD headquarters?
Ezell Ford’s autopsy was released December 29 and it clearly indicates that he was murdered. After its release, we wanted to put pressure on the city to begin the process of justice for Ezell Ford and to value his life by terminating the officers who were responsible for killing him, Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas, as well as pressing murder charges against them. We’ve been camped out in front of the LAPD headquarters pressing for those demands and we’ll be staying until our demands are met.
You’ll be meeting with LAPD Chief Charlie Beck soon—but how has the LAPD responded so far?
We’ve had a range of what I’d call intimidation tactics used against us. In the early morning hours, we’ve had a really big group of about 30 police officers breaking down our encampment and surrounding us. We’ve also done a lot of sidewalk art trying to hold up our resilience and healing as we’re in this process together. But for the past four or five days, officers have power washed it off the street, which I think is an excessive and unnecessary use of resources during California’s drought.
We wanted to deliver a letter to Chief Beck requesting a meeting with him on Tuesday, but two of our members were denied access to the headquarters even though other folks were being allowed access. We were told that headquarters was closed to anyone without official police business—and so they were denied access and arrested.
But you’ve also had a lot of supporters, too.
We’ve had really amazing support from people. We started with a smaller encampment and have been able to expand it because of huge community support. Folks have been supporting by providing meals throughout the day—we’ve been able to provide breakfast, lunch and dinner for everyone nearly every day. We’ve also had folks donate tents, sleeping bags, blankets and hand warmers that came in really handy when it was cold last week. We’ve had passerby cars honking in support. We’ve had brilliant artists come out and show up for us.
We’ve had movement folks from L.A. too. On New Year’s Eve, Occupy Venice came out and flashed up #BlackLivesMatter on LAPD headquarters. We had our own little bat signal and that was really fun!
Do you know whether the District Attorney’s office is considering your demand to bring charges against Wampler and Villegas?
We’ve been told that the two officers are on desk duty and not out on patrol. We’ve been in communication with the District Attorney Lacey’s office, but she’s currently out on leave. Her office has expressed some interest in following up with us, so we’re prepping for a meeting with her to sit down with her so she can hear from the community directly about the importance of pressing charges against these two officers
You work with Black Lives Matter and have been evoking Omar Abrego—who was a non-black Latino. Why is that?
It’s significant to acknowledge the different ways in which folks are experiencing police brutality, and to also understand that black folks and brown folks have some similar and some different experiences with police. In Los Angeles in particular, Omar Abrego and Ezell Ford lived in the same community, were being police by the same officers and were killed within days of each other.
For Black Lives Matter, it’s important to acknowledge the disparities and differences that black folks experience police violence—while also acknowledging that black identity isn’t limited. When we say that black lives matter, we’re talking about all black lives and that includes Afro-Latino folks, black immigrant folks, black queer folks, black trans folks. We’re trying to lift all that up right now.
For three weeks now, the nation’s largest police force appears to have launched a major work slowdown*. In New York City, police union officials deny an organized action but there’s no denying statistics showing that arrests for low-level offenses and parking and traffic tickets are way down. During the first week of 2015 and in a city of 8 million, NYPD arrested three people for turnstile jumping, compared to 400 during the same week in 2014. More than 16,000 parking summonses were handed out in early 2014; a little over 1,000 were handed out over the same week this year—at a loss of about $10 million-a-week in city revenue. And courts are less busy, too, the Daily News reports, as misdemeanor arraignments are also down.
While commentators parse its implications, the apparent work slowdown comes after December’s brazen daylight ambush of two Brooklyn officers, which cracked open a subterranean rift between officers and mayor Bill de Blasio. And perhaps unintentionally, the NYPD’s work slowdown is also answering protesters and many city residents’ calls to either end or rein in “broken windows” policing. So how’re those most affected reacting to the latest trend in policing? The Marshall Project’s Eli Hager went to Brooklyn’s Marcy projects to find out. One resident, 28-year-old Devaughn Rozier says:
“You normally see they’d be posted up on Marcy and Floyd, Marcy and Stockton, Marcy and Myrtle; they’d be posting up on all these corners,” he says, sizing up a nearby group of high school boys, the same way he says the police eye him and his friends. “They’d be up on the roofs of the projects, in groups of three. They’d be saying the probable cause for searching me and running my ID was I lived in a building with drug trafficking going on in it, even though that building has, like, 5,000 people staying there.”
“Now,” he says, smiling, “that’s free land.”
Read more at TMP.
*A previous version of this post stated incorrectly that NYPD officers have gone “on strike.” There’s no indication of a labor walkout or full work stoppage.
Over at Fusion, Jorge Rivas and Hector Batista catch up with residents of a South Los Angeles neighborhood that was rocked by the police killings of Omar Abrego and Ezell Ford. Both men died within weeks and blocks of one another last summer, and their communities have united around calls for justice.
Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:
- President Obama has a plan to allow students of any age to attend two years of community college for free—if they attend at least halftime and maintain a C+ average.
- Two men suspected in the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris have taken at least one hostage.
- The U.S. added 252,000 jobs in December; the unemployment rate has fallen to 5.6 percent—though wages have slipped, too.
- Are you ready for domestic robots?
- Bill Cosby actually makes a rape joke and everyone actually laughs.
- Was it arrhythmia that made Beethoven’s music so “heartfelt”?
- It’s still not too late to see Comet Lovejoy.
Despite increasing diversity on college campuses, women and students of color report undergrad experiences filled with subtle yet denigrating microaggressions, according to a report (PDF) from Harvard University’s Voices of Diversity project.
Researchers looked into students’ experiences at four college campuses—Missouri State University, and three other anonymous universiites in the South, Midwest and Northeast—to explore a frequent claim that African-American and Latino students’ academic difficulties and comparatively lower graduation rates are unrelated to campus social climates.
What researchers heard from respondents is African-American students are trying to get their education in an environment where their classmates express surprise that they’re enrolled at an elite private college. Muslim students go to school alongside students who jokingly wonder whether they’ve got bombs in their backpacks. Those experiences wear on students’ psyches, researchers found. Researchers also found that when available, women’s studies and ethnic studies courses “are held in low esteem,” by others on campus. And not unrelatedly, students of color and women reported feeling like their own contributions and ideas were not taken seriously by their peers when they spoke up in class.
“Simply changing the representation of various groups does not in and of itself ensure that the experiences of racial/ethnic minority and women students are as positive as those of their white and male counterparts,” the report’s authors wrote. “Since institutional change tends to be slow, one cannot assume that increases in numbers of students of color have been accompanied by adequate changes in what has been called the ‘chilly climate’ for students of color and for women in undergraduate populations at predominantly white institutions.”
h/t Inside Higher Ed
Cleveland officials yesterday released new extended video showing the 30 minutes following the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by officer Timothy Loehmann. At 1:40 the video, which has no audio, shows Rice’s 14-year-old sister running onto the scene. Before she can reach her brother, Loehmann’s partner, officer Frank Garmback, rushes forward to force her to the ground. There, she struggles to get up while Loehmann comes over to guard her and Garmback returns to stand over Tamir. Ultimately, she’s handcuffed and placed in the squad car—steps away from where her brother lays dying.
On that Saturday afternoon in late November, Rice had been playing in the park with a BB gun, which, according to reports, looked like a real gun. Officers were responding to a call from dispatch. Loehmann, who shot Rice within two seconds of his squad car arriving on the scene, had previously been ruled unfit for duty.
The video shows grainy footage from the surveillance camera of the Cudell Recreation Center. According to the NEOMG, Cleveland’s police department “will hand over its evidence to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty’s office. Prosecutors will present the evidence to a grand jury, which will decide whether to criminally indict any officers involved.”
Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:
- One suspect is under arrest and two more are sought in connection to the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris.
- Two people are dead and more than 20 are injured following an 18-vehicle accident in Pennsylvania.
- Baby, it’s cold outside.
- Wet Seal is closing more than 300 stores—laying off 3,700 people.
- Is the FCC signaling that it might just go along with a free and open internet?
- 2015 has a leap second—and that’s causing Y2K-like fears.
- Bill Cosby was back on stage and no one disrupted him.
- Nine people from two states have contracted measles while visiting Disney theme parks in Southern California.
After serving nearly 21 years in prison for murder, 46-year-old Derrick Hamilton this week became the 11th person in less than a year to have his name cleared by Brooklyn’s new district attorney. Ken Thompson’s central reform since taking office last January is the Conviction Review Unit (CRU). Staffed by 10 lawyers, the team’s priority, Thompson tells The New Yorker, “is to give freedom to people who were convicted during the…era of mass incarceration but don’t belong in prison.”
One reason Thompson’s unit stands out, experts say, is that instead of relying on DNA evidence to exonerate the innocent, it reviews tougher cases where fault may lie in human errors like negligence, misconduct or judgment.
Hamilton, a father of five, has been out on parole since 2011. He maintained that he had been out of state when the 1991 murder occurred. As a result of Hamilton’s and a number of other accusations, the district attorney’s office has been reviewing more than 70 cases worked by discredited homicide detective Louis Scarcella, now retired.
Read more about Thompson’s CRU on The New Yorker.
Maher Hathout, a renowned doctor and interfaith leader known as the “father of American Muslim identity,” died from liver cancer just after New Years. He was 79.
Hathout was born in Egypt in 1978 and moved to New York and then Los Angeles in the 1970s, where he helped found the first-ever co-ed Muslim Youth Group and the Islamic Information Service. Here’s more from the Huffington Post:
Hathout was a devoted interfaith activist who worked with organizations and individuals throughout southern California to promote causes for peace and justice. In 1988 he co-founded the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), which works to promote civil rights for American Muslims and helps foster relationships between Muslims and other faith communities in the United States.
“Thirty years ago, no Muslim leader other than he was talking about he American Muslim identity, that home is where our grandchildren are raised not where our grandparents are buried,” MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati said in an email to HuffPost.
Hathout also helped found the Religious Coalition Against War in the Middle East in 1991 and served on the Board of Directors of the Interfaith Alliance and Claremont Lincoln University. He was a charter member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, the western partner of the Council on Foreign Relations and served as Chairman of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California.
Read more about Hathout’s life and work.
Investigators are searching for an approximately 40-year-old balding white man in connection to an explosion outside a Colorado Springs, Colo., chapter office of the NAACP on Tuesday. A crude incendiary device was deliberately placed outside the building and blasted, but a gas canister placed nearby failed to ignite.
No one was injured in Tuesday’s bombing and it caused only minor damage to the building—but the FBI is indicating the explosion outside the NAACP may be no accident. This, according to the Guardian:
FBI special agent Amy Sanders said she couldn’t say whether the explosion was targeting the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.
“We believe it was deliberately set and are investigating all potential motives at this time,” said Sanders in an email.
“A hate crime is one possibility,” she added.
The building that houses the NAACP also houses a barbershop. According to Newsweek, the local NAACP chapter president is reluctant to call the act a hate crime.
Points In Case, an online humor site aimed at college students and recent grads, has published a post featuring images of six imaginary Barbie dolls: Rehab Barbie, Facebook Barbie, Xbox Barbie, Hotflash Barbie, Lesbian Barbie and “Illegal Immigrant” Barbie. Janet Eve Josselyn, who wrote the post, offers Mattel “contemporary alternatives to existing Barbie dolls,” and provides deriding captions for each doll.
For immigrant Barbie, Josselyn writes:
Illegal immigrant Barbie is tethered to a bunch of children and comes with a compass and a coyote. Her hair is unkempt and her cheeks lack the rosy glow of the 20th century Barbies. She is armed with wire cutters and sandwiches wrapped in tin foil. She clutches Ken’s phone number in the event that she is detained by the Border Patrol.
The doll, which is pregnant with a black eye, is seen pushing a grocery cart full of children and beer cases—and carries a bag of cigarettes, hard liquor and a mac and cheese box.
This imaginary Barbie is thankfully not for sale.
(H/T Latino Rebels)
Bombings in Paris, Sanaa and Colorado Springs, December Job Growth, Phylicia Rashad Defends Bill Cosby
Some of the stories I’m reading up on this morning:
- At least 12 people are dead in Paris after gunmen shoot up a French satirical magazine known for its Islamophobic content; the gunmen are currently at large.
- At least 35 people are dead after a car bomb attack in Yemen’s capital of Sanaa explodes outside a police college.
- The FBI is searching for a suspect following a bombing outside an NAACP chapter in Colorado Springs.
- According to payroll processor ADP, employers added 241,000 jobs in December—that’s more than expected.
- Intel says it’s investing $300 million “to achieve full representation of women and under-represented minorities” in the next five years.
- Phylicia Rashad essentially contends that the 21 women who have accused Bill Cosby of attacking them are all part of a giant conspiracy to destroy his career.
- The CDC says alcohol poisoning kills half a dozen people in the U.S. each day—mostly white men ages 35-64.
- NASA reveals a better image of the Eagle Nubula, first captured by Hubble in 1995. It’s gorgeous.
In a final parting shot before leaving office, former Arizona state superintendent and longtime foe of Tucson’s ethnic studies curriculum John Huppenthal filed a memo last week declaring Tucson’s current “culturally relevant” courses in violation of the state law.
The courses, which are required under a decades-old federal desegregation order, replaced Tucson’s ethnic studies curriculum, which was outlawed when the Arizona state legislature passed HB 2281 in 2010, which was adopted as Arizona Revised Statutes 15-112. With its current “culturally relevant courses,” Tucson Unified School District “has failed to meet several provisions of the 2012 Settlement Agreement settlement and is once again in clear violation of A.R.S. 15-112,” Huppenthal wrote, Tucson’s KVOA reported. “Furthermore, I am deeply concerned by the fact that the noncompliance appears to extend beyond classes taught from the Mexican American perspective and now also includes classes taught from the African American perspective.”
Tucson’s public schools reminded Huppenthal that the courses are actually court-mandated—the result of a 1974 federal desegregation order. “That order … requires us to develop and implement culturally relevant courses taught from both the Mexican American and African American perspectives,” the district responded, KVOA reported.
The final word in this, just the latest phase of the yearslong struggle in Arizona over how and whether to teach classes which recognize the heritage and histories of Arizona’s students and the state itself, will actually be left to Arizona’s brand new schools superintendent, Diane Douglas.
If Douglas sides with Huppenthal’s findings, Tucson faces a 10 percent cut in state funding, which would mean a loss of $14 million per year, the Arizona Daily Star reported.
New York City police officers again turned their backs on mayor Bill De Blasio this Sunday at the funeral for Officer Wenjian Liu, 32. The action disregards a memo issued by the police commissioner asking officers not to repeat the silent protest shown during the funeral of Officer Rafael Ramos, 40. Both Ramos and Liu were killed in a surprise attack by lone gunman Ismaaiyl Brinsley this December. Its aftermath has revealed extraordinary tension between the nation’s largest municipal police union, department leadership, City Hall and residents just as civilian protesters were escalating calls for police reform.
As with Ramos, hundreds of officers turned their backs just as the mayor began Liu’s eulogy. According to the Washington Post, even out-of-town officers joined in. Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke tells the Post, “We might be reaching a tipping point with the mind-set of officers, who are beginning to wonder if the risks they take to keep communities safe are even worth it anymore. In New York and other places, we’re seeing a natural recoil from law enforcement officers who don’t feel like certain people who need to have their backs have their backs.”
There appears to be disagreement within the rank-and-file however. “It’s two different police departments inside those walls,” one retired officer tells the Post. “There are officers who really feel that the mayor has turned his back on the police department and that they are in increased danger. And then there are the officers who go home and tell their sons the same things that the mayor said he told his — if you’re black, be careful around police.”
This Sunday’s funeral marks the third time in less than a month that officers have publicly turned their backs on the mayor. The first incident occurred in the hallways of the Brooklyn hospital where officers Ramos and Liu died.
Some of the morning’s headlines:
- A manhunt is underway for two suspects in the non-fatal shooting of two NYPD officers in the Bronx last night. Both are expected to recover.
- Congress convenes today and Republicans will be in control for the first time since 2007. Oh, and it’s still 80 percent white, 80 percent male, and pretty pissed off at House Speaker John Boehner.
- The Palestinian push for statehood is gaining momentum.
- The launch of a SpaceX rocket was pushed back because of a technical problem and may be rescheduled for Friday.
- Florida’s same-sex marriage ban was lifted at the stroke of midnight. Now that the unions are legal in the sunshine state, 70 percent of Americans live in the 36 states where gay marriage is now legal.
- Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell faces sentencing today on 11 counts of public corruption. He could get 10 years in prison.
- Take a look at the new Mercedes-Benz self-driving car.
- Los Angeles football fans are hopeful, but not certain, that the St. Louis Rams are moving back home.
- Everybody’s moving to Oregon.
There’s no doubt that 2014 was an intense year.
As we approach the new year, we’d like to thank you for reading, tweeting, commenting and generally engaging with Colorlines this year. With your help, our tiny staff has provided context for breaking news, continued our coverage of ongoing stories, and kept you up on culture. We’ve also brought you Life Cycles of Inequity, a special multimedia series that explores how systemic racism impacts black men’s lives, from birth to death.
You know you won’t find coverage like this—by and of people of color—anywhere else. And your readership means the world.
The fact is good writing and real reporting costs money. With your donations, we can continue to bring you this daily news site where race matters. (I know everyone says this, but we truly do welcome one-time and monthly gifts of any size!)
To quote the late, great poet Gwendolyn Brooks, “We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” Around here we take those words seriously.
Peace, power and time,
Akiba Solomon, Editorial Director
PS: You may notice that we’ve been publishing fewer pieces. That’s because we’re taking some time off. But no worries. We’ll be back at full speed in January 2015.
Black LGBT people in the U.S. are more likely to live in states that don’t prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation, according to a new report (PDF) from the Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA School of Law. That difference puts some 890,000 black LGBT people at risk of being discriminated against with no legal protection, researchers found.
Those findings come from a new report that examines the disparities in life experiences for LGBT people who live in states that don’t prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation. The Williams Institute compared Washington, D.C, and the 21 states that have laws on their books prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation with the 29 states—primarily Midwestern, Southern, and Mountain States—that don’t. They found that states that offer employment protections are more likely to have an LGBT-friendly social climate than states that don’t. That line translates to differences in income, health outcomes and access, and food insecurity.
Unsurprisingly, LGBT people in the U.S. have widely different experiences depending on their race and geographic location. By one estimate, more than one in six LGBT people who live in those 29 states without state anti-discrimination laws is black, even though black people are estimated to be roughly 15 percent of the LGBT population in the U.S.
Check out the rest of the report at the Williams Institute.