Showing posts with label NYPD. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NYPD. Show all posts

Monday, December 29, 2014

Ferguson/Garner protests: The uprisings will continue until...

By Charles Brooks
  
Photo credit: digitaldefection via www.flickr.com
For over a month now, the world has witnessed a special moment unfolding in America where literally thousands upon thousands took to the streets in a stunning display of mass resistance in response to, not one but two recent controversial grand jury rulings. The world took notice of the rebellious uprisings emerging in city after city – from Ferguson, Missouri to Brooklyn, New York to Oakland, California – making their presence felt uptown as well as downtown, in the ‘hood’, and on college campuses. Protestors infiltrated and disrupted holiday shopping, Thanksgiving parades, Christmas events – brought the nation’s major highways and the railroads to a stop – gnarling traffic for miles.  
Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue via www.flickr.com
Two separate high profile grand jury proceedings in St. Louis and New York City ruled against indicting police officers, Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo – in essence validating their use of deadly force against Michael Brown and Eric Garner, respectively. The vastly unpopular rulings triggered an incredible wave of mass resistance protesting against not just the police brutality issue but also against the abysmal lack of accountability for killing unarmed African American men. The grand jury’s decision not only exonerated the use of deadly force with no criminal charges but the decision also reinforced the notion that such deadly force is indeed the standard operating procedure, particularly when unarmed African Americans are involved. But there’s more - the grand jury’s decision essentially enables the uninterrupted freedom of both officers and allows them to return to their jobs, to walk the beat above ground while the bodies of Michael Brown and Eric Garner lay buried below ground. 


The ruling triggered painful reminders from a wretched racist past.  Take for example, the ruling serving as a reminder of the second-class citizenship that typically characterized Black America in the days before integration – you know, like when lynching was routine.  Another reminder of how unjust and unequal the criminal justice system is towards the black communities that make up Black America.  Another reminder of the Black America’s relationship with the police and how different that relationship is with other communities that make up the nation. Another reminder of the role the police had during the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements – as the first line of defense -  the brutal enforcers of Jim Crow and legal segregation. Another reminder of their role with COINTELPRO. And yet another reminder of the tragic failure of the state to recognize black humanity.  
  
Photo credit: Rose colored Photo via www.flickr.com
Consider for a moment what activist Rosa Clemente recently noted when she underlined significance of the ruling: “…The grand jury’s refusal to indict Darren Wilson means that the physical evidence, testimony of witnesses, police report on the incident, and Wilson’s own inconsistent and implausible account will never be subject to cross-examination, scrutiny, and comparison before a jury.”  Simply put, Ms. Clemente nailed it in pointing out the implications when police are left unindicted – no trial, no public scrutiny, no transparency and certainly no accountability. That’s why so many are just infuriated with the grand jury refusals to indict, and in fact, held very little hope for indictments of police officers Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo.  Deep down…we already knew…
Photo credit: sierraromero via www.flickr.com
Take the Michael Brown case for instance where there were issues from the start. There were several events that instilled doubt within the local Ferguson community and larger extended community who demanded justice. Aside from not having a video of the shooting, Mr. Brown’s character came under heavy scrutiny, while the Prosecuting Attorney, Mr. McCullough refused to recuse himself from the case despite the strong conflict of interests.  Doubts around the Brown grand jury grew stronger as leaks spilled out, at one point, almost daily.  For days, all eyes were squarely riveted on Ferguson as we constantly heard that a decision “was coming any day now.” We braced ourselves for the worst… During this time the Governor announced his plan to deploy the National Guard, and declared a state of emergency…before an emergency.  Businesses fortified themselves as if preparing for a hurricane to blow through town. Schools closed down. Gun sales hit the roof. And then the announcement was made hours after the day turned into night - at the nighttime hour of nine o clock - Darren Wilson will not be indicted.  The Ferguson community erupted at the news and the rebellious uprising was in full swing quickly spreading across the country like California wildfire.  To make matters worse, we gradually learned about disturbing issues with the grand jury – first, the inconsistent presentation of evidence, and most recently, the apparent issues with lying witnesses. 


Then less than two weeks after the Brown grand jury decision, the Garner grand jury decided not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo. Despite the cellphone video showing an illegal chokehold used on Mr. Garner by Mr. Pantaleo as well as Chief Examiners Report that
ruled Mr. Garner’s death a homicide!   Just like the Brown case, there were issues with the Garner case from the start – community demands for a special prosecutor, concerns regarding a jury pool being picked from a biased pro-police Staten Island community and the Staten Island District Attorney seemingly delaying the grand jury process considering they didn’t start hearing evidence until nearly October – almost three months after Mr. Garner was killed. To make matters worse, nearly ten days after the Brown grand jury ruling, the Garner grand jury was announced and the public response was both swift and fierce with a flurry of daily protests around the country. 

And then two New York City police officers were gunned down on a Saturday afternoon – and you can sense the gradual shift in the narrative as the pro-police forces began to assert themselves. The police killing was immediately linked to the protests, and echoed loudly with inflammatory commentary by police union chief Pat Lynch, former governor George Pataki and former mayor Rudy Guiliani.  Ironically though, calls were made to halt the protests against the police violence while making no mention of stopping the pro-police protest rallies or their divisive rhetoric.  Nonetheless a debate quickly emerged – should the protests continue in light of the two dead NYPD officers?  But the real question is not whether the protests should continue or not but rather - When will police officers be held accountable for their criminal use of deadly force?

Meanwhile, the protest demonstrations continued unabated – and for a few good reasons. Let’s see, the issue of police brutality and violence has become a national crisis.  An issue that has been ongoing for many years with no apparent repercussions or consequences for police use of excessive deadly force. The police officers routinely get the benefit of the doubt regardless of the questionable circumstances that ultimately feeds doubt.  And then, aside from the Brown and Garner grand jury rulings, police officers were also not indicted in grand jury cases for Ezell Ford, John Crawford, Jonathan Baker, and Keyarika Diggles.  Yes – the protests have continued…and for good reason.

  
See The Blackboard's posts about the death of Eric Garner, Part I and Part II, and the death Michael Brown.

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Eric Garner: Resisting arrest or Resisting harassment (Part II)


The tragic death of Mr. Eric Garner that came as a result of the choke hold – an illegal police maneuver banned since 1994 – continues to provoke nationwide outrage, particularly in black communities.  Consider for a moment, the reasons igniting this outrage – the excessive use of force leading to yet another death of an unarmed black man, and the political support for police in the face of a blatant lack of accountability to these seemingly routine acts of police misconduct and murder.  But there’s deeper factor to consider here – the historical roots that branches out to the limbs of indifference afforded to black life.

Mr. Garner’s death continues to spark outrage because of the many people who can relate and connect through personal experience – the thousands who have been stopped and harassed by the police - and lived to talk about it. The thousands of stories about controlling that feeling that just grips you when you see the bright flash of the red and blue lights in your rear view mirror. Or the harassment that comes with being repeatedly stopped and frisked.  Or the feeling of being fully aware that even the slightest encounter with the police can turn bad…and sometimes fatal.  This connection was played out when the video was being played over and over again to the collective nods of approval. People are outraged because they connected with Mr. Garner when he crossed his arms in front of him and told the police officers that it stops today…we all knew what he meant by ‘it’. Mr. Garner said to the officers: "...Every time you see me you want to wrestle with me.  I'm tired of it...it stops today...I'm minding my own business officer. Please leave me alone...I told you for the last time, please leave me alone."

This is why Mr. Garner’s death continues to resonate with the public consciousness - because of their connection to a shared experience.  The outrage grew in the aftermath of Mr. Garner’s death when more videos displaying similar criminal acts by NYPD were released as well as chokehold statistics – 1022 chokehold incidents between 2009-1013.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Blackboard Weekly Report - 4/21/14

International
  • Zimbabwe celebrated the 34th anniversary of their independence. See here for the press statement released by Secretary of State John Kerry and a brief summary of their history here from the Government of Zimbabwe.  
  • Professor Hilary Beckles, Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission, is urging young people across the Caribbean to play a role in their reparation struggle. The Jamaican Observer reported Prof. Beckles comments during a lecture: "There are many people in the world who believe that all they have to do is sit quiet and allow the older leaders of this campaign to pass away," he said. "You are the descendants of those who have survived and that gives you, the younger generation, a special responsibility to honour this history."
 White House
  • President Obama: The President held a press conference last week, responding to questions about the Affordable Care Act and the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.   During the press conference, President Obama tells Democrats not to run from health care issue with 2014 mid-term elections approaching. “I think the Democrats should forcefully defend and be proud of the fact that millions of people (have insurance)…I don't think we should apologize for it. I don't think we should be defensive about it…” 
  • Affordable Care Act Update:  The White House announces 8 million have signed up for health insurance via the market exchanges.   
  • Ukraine Crisis Update:  The Guardian reports that US secretary of state John Kerry urged Russia on Monday to meet Ukraine halfway in trying to defuse the crisis. See coverage of the ongoing Ukraine crisis by CNN, The Guardian, and the BBC.
  • Justice Department:  Attorney General Holder announced the Justice Department’s initiative to reduce sentencing disparities for drug offenders in the federal prison system by expanding the criteria for clemency.  “The White House has indicated it wants to consider additional clemency applications, to restore a degree of justice, fairness, and proportionality for deserving individuals who do not pose a threat to public safety.  The Justice Department is committed to recommending as many qualified applicants as possible for reduced sentences.  
  • First Lady: The Washington Post reports that last Thursday, First Lady Michelle Obama  and entertainer Bow Wow joined 37 students from Chicago public high schools for a tour of Howard University.  But the First Lady’s scheduled graduation address in Kansas is causing a stir   - Parents and students alike have expressed anguish that the first lady’s speech and limited seating for families detract from a day that should center on the graduating students and their loved ones.
 National
  • Restoring the right for convicted felons to vote appeared in Virginia and in Iowa. In Virginia, the Governor has signed an executive order enabling an easier process to gain voting rights; drug offenses will no longer be on the list of crimes that need a waiting period, and the waiting period for violent offenders will decrease from 5 years to 3 year.  
  • Meanwhile in Iowa, felons will continue to be disqualified despite a recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling, 5-1 that some felonies may not rise to the level of barring voting rights.
Local
  • New York politico Basil Paterson passed away.  See obituary by Meyer, Suozzi, English and Klein – the firm Mr. Paterson joined in the early 1980’s. See additional coverage in the New York Amsterdam News.  
  • The New York Police Department (NYPD) had dismantled the unit that spied on Muslim communities. The ACLU noted that NYPD spied on their places of worship, and businesses they frequent – based on nothing but their religious beliefs and associations. For additional information see the ACLU’s fact sheet and the Associated Press investigation into NYPD intelligence.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Stop & Frisk: Bloomberg Deception and fear mongering

Less than three months after New York City’s controversial policing practice, stop and frisk, was ruled unconstitutional by Judge Shira Scheindlin, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit granted a stay on her ruling and removed the judge from the case. The October 31st ruling by the federal court of appeals blocks the numerous remedies outlined by Judge Scheindlin that would align the maligned police practice with the US Constitution until the whole appeals process plays out. So the appointment of monitor to oversee reforms, revised policies and training regarding stop and frisk and racial profiling, and the use of “body-worn cameras in a “pilot” project in one precinct per borough – “specifically the precinct with the highest number of stops during 2012” – would now be put on hold.

Since the ruling, a motion was filed by NYC attorneys to vacate or throw out Judge Scheindlin’s decision; and the police unions have gotten involved with their requests to the appeals court – apparently a tactic to neutralize Mayor-elect DeBlasio’s intentions to drop the appeals once in office.