Showing posts with label policing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label policing. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Vigils For Tortuguita: Land Defenders Erupt In Solidarity

Land defenders and justice movements everywhere will not be terrorized into silence. They will not let the story of their sibling’s murder be controlled by their killers, nor by the powers who hide behind the killers.

On the evening of January 21, a couple dozen people came out in the rain and grouped together in a circle outside of Whatcom District Court, in Bellingham, Washington. These members of the Bellingham Forest Defenders, a group working to defend a public forest called “Box of Rain”, peacefully gathered to mourn the death of a fellow forest defender on the other side of the country.

Tortuguita

The vigil was held to mourn the death of Tort, a protestor in Atlanta, Georgia who was killed on January 18 by police while defending the Weelaunee Forest from clearcutting and construction of a massive police training facility, known as Cop City, to those who oppose it.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesperson claims that Tortuguita, a nonbinary person who had been a vocal proponent of nonviolence, refused orders to leave a tent and shot a state trooper. Other law enforcement officers then returned fire, killing them. No body cameras captured the event. “Although we have bodycam footage from the day of the operation, we do not have bodycam footage of the shooting incident. The law enforcement officers wearing bodycam were not close enough to the shooting itself to capture it,” GBI’s Nelly Miles said. Calls for an independent investigation are growing.

Forest defenders, like Tort, are occupying the forest by living in trees and destroying equipment to resist the building of the campus. The city calls them “domestic terrorists” and police treat them like enemy combatants.

Cop City will be a $90 million state-of-the-art police training facility into which major corporations are investing millions of dollars and financially pressuring politicians to push the plan forward. Though the land designated for Cop City is owned by the City of Atlanta, the nonprofit Atlanta Police Foundation is working to raise millions from private sector companies to fund over 80% of its construction. The Atlanta Police Foundation’s Board is filled with executives from nearly all of Atlanta’s big-name companies like Delta, Waffle House, the Home Depot, Georgia Pacific, Equifax, Carter, Accenture, Wells Fargo and UPS, among others. It reads like a ‘who’s-who’ of corporate Atlanta.

defendtheatlantaforest.org

Thousands of miles away, at the edge of another precious forest ecosystem endangered by capital’s encroachment, Bellingham’s vigil participants did more than grieve. They honored their comrade by learning about the movement work being done in Atlanta and shared stories, songs, and poems of love and grief for protestors, for the forests, and for their communities. Information was also shared about ongoing local work to protect old, ecologically significant forests in Whatcom County and Western Washington.

One member of the Bellingham Forest Defenders, Hayley, commented, “While none of us knew Tort personally, his death by police has certainly hit many of us hard. We offer public solidarity with the movement in Atlanta while reminding ourselves of why we actively struggle to protect public forests here in Whatcom County. We hope that folks in Atlanta might see this coverage and know they are in our hearts and minds.”

Over the last few days, a growing number of such solidarity vigils have been held across the US, from Cincinnati to New Orleans to Los Angeles, by organizations and communities on the front lines of ecological destruction and racialized violence, where brutal, militarized police response to protesters has become commonplace. Declarations of international solidarity have come from as far as Germany, the UK, and Kurdistan. Tort’s death has made it clear that there is no place left on Earth where people do not share the pain and rage of ecocide and murder carried out on behalf of corporate and state powers.

These are just some of the multiplying events now sprouting up in cities and towns across the world…

May be an image of ‎1 person, outdoors and ‎text that says '‎KILLED BY ATLANTA POLICE DEFENDING THE WEELAUNEE FOREST Tortuguita January 18, 2023 بد שے SUNDAY JAN 22 7PM HOFFNER PARK VIGIL OF RESPECT AND SOLIDARITY CINCINNATI STANDS WITH TORT, ATLANTA, AND ALL FOREST DEFENDERS‎'‎‎

Cincinnati

May be an image of text that says 'ATLANTA POLICE MURDERED WEELAUNEE FOREST DEFENDER IN HONOR & SOLIDARITY Tortuguita WEDNESDAY JANUARY 25 Armstrong Park (NEW ORLEANS/BUL ANCHA) 6pm BRING: CANDLES, FRIENDS, FLOWERS, SIGNS, WORDS'

New Orleans

May be an image of text that says 'Vigil for Tortuguita Tortuguita was killed by Georgia state troopers on Wednesday, January 18th while protecting the Weelaunee or "Atlanta' Forest We will gather to honor their life and mourn their loss Krutch Park Tuesday, January 24th 6:30pm Bring candles, flowers, music, and friends Solidarity from Knoxville to Atlanta @firstaidcollectiveknox'

Knoxville

May be an image of 1 person, fire and text that says 'Vigit Honoring Tort Sunday, January 22 7PM ฺ Los Angeles City Hall *on Spring across from Grand Park Bring candles and posters to honor and mourn our lost sibling Tortuguita'

Los Angeles

May be an image of 1 person, tree, outdoors and text that says 'SOLIDARITY VIGIL FOR TORTUGUITA Tuesday the 24th 24th 5:30- 7:30pm Location in Akron TBD'

Akron

May be an image of 1 person, tree, outdoors and text that says 'Vigil for Cami Tortuguita Monday, January 23 7:00 pm Bank of America 5636 Lemmon Ave, Dallas Tx 75209'

Dallas

May be an image of text that says 'On January 18, POLICE MURDERED A FOREST DEFENDER SATURDAY JAN 21 8P MEET AT WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK WEAR BLACK IN MOURNING WE ARE ALL FOREST DEFENDERS'

New York City

May be an image of text that says 'Candlelight Vigil For Tortuguita Atlanta Forest Defender Killed by Police Saturday, January 21st at 5:30 pm Miller Park, Chattanooga TN On Wednesday,Ja 18, 2023, Atlanta police killed Tortuguita, a cherished friend, community organizer, activist, and Atlanta forest defender. We gather to honor their life, mourn their loss, and stand in solidary with the Defend the Forest movement and those continuing to protect communities from violence. Bring: candles, flowers, art, other offerings, music, and friends. Chattanooga to Atlanta Stop Cop City!'

Chattanooga

May be an image of sky and text that says 'Vigil for Tort Murdeved by Gorgia State Police for defending the Weelaunee Jovest in Attanta NW 4 St and NW 3 Ave, Miami Sat. 1/21 @ 7 PM Wear black and bring candles'

Miami

May be an image of 13 people and text that says 'fnb_tally Tallahassee, Florida ROER MANUEL TORTUGUITA PAEZ TERAN'

Tallahassee

May be an image of book

Massachusetts

May be an image of tree, mountain and text that says 'STS SOLIDARITY CO0 S5SSS QITY VIGIL TLANT 00087 FOREST On 1/18/23, a Forest Defender was murdered by police in Atlanta, Georgia for protesting EFEN deforestation and "Cop City", a new police training compound. We will come together to mourn and honor their life. Wear black. Saturday 1/21 8:30 pm Clark Park 002-68 Philly oeEO FOREST'

Philadelphia

May be an image of outdoors and text that says 'VIGIL FOR ATLANTA FOREST DEFENDER Oakland Park in Pontiac PM 1/20 bring candles, flowers friends ಸ wear black in mourning SOLAENINI'

Pontiac

May be an image of 1 person and text that says 'Pooo rivercityclimatecollective St. Louis, Missouri VIGIL FOR ATI ANTA FOREST DEFENDER MURDERED BY POLICE Fissst Justice for Tortuguita Labr Mt Sat Jan 21 6:30PM Stone Shelter Tower Grove Park St. Louis TOnS Stop Cop City ~Defend Atlanta Forest'

St. Louis

May be an image of 2 people and text

London

May be an image of text that says 'VIGIL FOR TORTUGUITA ANDLAND DEFENDERS EVERYWHERE On Wednesday January 18th, cops in Atlanta shot and killed an activist defending the Weelaunee Forest. We will gather to mourn Tortuguita and to stand together in rage and solidarity with all our friends and comrades defending the forest in Atlanta: against cops, against prisons, against the life- destroying forces of capitalism- everywhere. SUNDAY JANUARY 22ND RATHAUS NEUKOELLN 15H Bring candles, bring words of strength and love for comrades in Atlanta, bring flowers and offerings, bring your voice.'

Berlin

May be an image of 6 people, people standing, outdoors and text that says 'DEFEND ATLANTA FOREST STOPCOPCITY'

Anonymous

May be an image of 6 people and text

Rojava

May be an image of 1 person, flower and outdoors
Solidarity Vigil Images Courtesy of @DefendAtlantaForest

The international outpouring of rage and solidarity at this most recent act of police brutality has a common thread – that land defenders and justice movements everywhere will not be terrorized into silence. They will not let the story of their sibling’s murder be controlled by their killers, nor by the powers who hide behind the killers. The Atlanta Forest Defenders and other local organizations like Community Movement Builders have begun publicly demanding an independent investigation into Tort’s death, into the charges of domestic terrorism for arrested forest defenders, and into the wider police raid of January 18th.


Further outrage and support is coming from diverse groups beyond land defenders and social movements. It turns out, you don’t need to be a police abolitionist or even an environmentalist to oppose Cop City – but Cop City is creating more police abolitionists and environmentalists. On Jan 23, Doctors from Emory’s School of Medicine published this scathing condemnation:

“As health care workers, we strongly condemn the repeated escalation of police violence in their interactions with members of the public protesting the construction of Cop City. On various instances, in both the streets of Atlanta as well as in the Weelaunee Forest/Intrenchment Creek Park which is under threat of destruction, police have used violence including reports of toxic chemical irritants such as tear gas, rubber bullets and now live ammunition which most recently resulted in the police killing of one of the forest defenders, Manuel ‘Tortuguita’ Teran. A year after police in the U.S. killed more people than any prior year since records started to be tracked in 2013, we recognize violence perpetrated by police to be harmful to public health. We are also concerned by the detentions and the charges of domestic terrorism levied at individuals arrested while protesting the destruction of the forest. This fits within the context of a disturbing pattern and threat to public health whereby the USA has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world; perpetuated by a judicial and legislative system that targets Black and Indigenous peoples, migrants, those living in poverty, those who are unhoused, as well as environmental and social activists.

The construction of Cop City will not solve a government’s failures to listen to the wishes of members of the community, its failure to stop the widening gap between rich and poor, the lack of affordable housing, the negative effects of gentrification and racism, or the poor and unequal access to nutritious food, healthcare and mental health services. As physicians, we recognize that these failures have negative consequences on the public’s mental and physical health. Instead of strengthening community health, Cop City will be a dangerous attempt to invest in harmful and violent solutions, strengthening the corporate and political powers that seek profit over the well-being of the people, while simultaneously eroding and transforming natural and public spaces into privately owned property. The public health evidence for developing healthy and thriving communities strongly opposes the expansion of policing and its subsequent violence. All Atlanta communities deserve more life affirming investments, not those that value private property over human life.

For the well-being of the city and its residents, it is imperative that all police forces cease their continued escalation and violent activity by permanently withdrawing from the forest. We call on Georgia State University to end its support of the Cop City project and also the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE) project. We also call on Atlanta mayor Andre Dickens, the Atlanta city council and the Dekalb County government to withdraw from all plans regarding the construction of Cop City; and for the Dekalb County government to withdraw from the land swap with Ryan Millsap and instead keep Intrenchment Creek Park a public park. We also call on Brasfield & Gorrie to end their contract with the Atlanta Police Foundation and cease all construction that furthers the destruction of the forest which has and will harm the community and the public health.

Signed,
Michel Khoury, MD, Co-director of Georgia Human Rights Clinic
Amy Zeidan, MD, Co-director of Georgia Human Rights Clinic
Mark Spencer, MD, Co-Leader, Internal Medicine Advocacy Group
Suhaib Abaza, MD, Co-founder, Campaign Against Racism ATL chapter
Social Medicine Consortium”

Weelaunee Forest Defenders “tree-sitting”

If one life might become a beacon to galvanize a movement, we owe it to that life to pause and mourn their death. Rejoining the circle of forest friends holding hands in the rain, the below speeches were shared during Saturday’s vigil by Bellingham Forest Defenders in memory of Tort and in solidarity with all who are on the front lines of direct-action…

Carly, Bellingham Forest Defender:

“In the anarchist group Invisible Committee’s piece To Our Friends, they say:
“’Friend’ and ‘free’ in English … come from the same Indo-European root, which conveys the idea of a shared power that grows. Being free and having ties was one and the same thing. I am free because I have ties, because I am linked to a reality greater than me.”

Forest defense movements in Bellingham have given me freedom through my friends. My friends have shown me how radical love can be fuel for movements. In bowls of homemade soup, in tightly linked arms on frontlines, in holding my hand when news like Tort’s death comes. My friends trust each other to keep momentum building, to bring each other along, especially when we falter in the face of everything working against us. I want to share with you some words from Tortuguita’s friends and comrades in hopes that by sharing parts of their love and grief, we can help carry everyone touched by Tort’s death along with us as we keep building momentum for a more just future, one that Tort lived and died fighting for.

The first reads:
“I remember Tortuguita as one of the softest and most generous people in the woods, a perpetually positive presence, ready with a smile and anything else they could offer to brighten your day. They were an optimist, assuming the best of people and demonstrating through their own actions just how good humans can be. I miss them already. Condolences and solidarity to all their family, friends, and comrades. We lost one of our best.”

The second reads:
“I didn’t know Tort for very long, but I am honored to have met them. In the short time I knew them, they were constantly putting a smile on my face, they had a laugh that was so infectious and always wanted to help others however they could. They had a deep love for music and would send me whatever their favorite song was at the moment. They were sweet, kind, and believed in a better world for all and the generations that will come after us, free from violence, destruction, and evil. Their love for the forest should be instilled in all of us, and their passion for protecting human life is an example we should all look up to. You fought hard, friend, and brought so much good to this world; now it’s time for you to rest, we will carry on your legacy and ensure you are never forgotten.”

Building strong community ties and a deep connection to place is vital in standing for the protection of old forests across the country and in Western Washington. We would love to have you along in this work, which involves seeking out threatened forests and standing up for them in front of decision and policy makers. This momentum for forests and for the communities that depend on them for clean water and air, connection to place, and habitat support is building. Moments like this, when we lose a comrade, however far away, offer time to pause, grieve, and gather ourselves to keep the fight going. Thank you for being here.”

Weelaunee Forest

Sophie, Bellingham Forest Defender:

“Tortuguita was a friend, lover, street medic, mutual aid organizer, and forest defender. They were loved and cherished deeply by the people in their lives and the movements they were a part of. Known as Manual Teran, they chose the alias ‘Tortuguita’ for themselves because it means Little Turtle, and is a nod to the Indigenous man who led victorious Native American resistance to white settlement in the Ohio river valley.

On January 18th, Tortuguita was tragically killed at the hands of the police while camped in the Welaunee forest in Georgia, where they and other protestors had been living in community since November of 2021 in order to stop the development of what is nicknamed “Cop City”. Cop city is proposed to be the largest police training facility in the United States, which plans to include military-grade training facilities, a mock city to practice urban warfare and riot control, and dozens of shooting ranges – it’s not a coincidence that cop city is being built in Atlanta, a city that lost two thirds of its police force in the midst and wake of the BLM riots.

The death of Tortuguita is a heart wrenching and brutal reminder that the work people do to preserve and generate life can be dangerous, traumatizing, and sometimes even fatal – especially when it’s effective, especially when we are winning. We mourn the death of Tortuguita because they were a kind, brave, and loving person who did not deserve to die, and we also mourn their death so that the work they did and the example they set is not forgotten, so that we remember the power and importance of resistance and relationship. The protests in the Welaunee forests are not just about stopping one violent project or saving one forest, they are about the collective power and responsibility we have to implement, for ourselves, the systems of care and community that will sustain our world.

In Tortuguita’s honor, we will keep creating poetry and art, participating in mutual aid, fighting for abolition, mending, knocking down borders, transitioning, putting our bodies in between the state and its victims, and building radical models of care and community. At the foundation of all this is deep and loving support for one another, until the systems in place become irrelevant. The state’s interests are not and have never been the preservation of life, equity, or prosperity. The state’s aims are to maintain power and generate capital, and in its attempt to do this it does not care about who or what is hurt along the way.

Today and everyday we remember those who were killed at the hands of the police. The following names are a few of those who have died because they were either working to rebuild a faulty nation, or simply surviving in it. May they inspire us to continue to work towards a world where there are no police and no need for cop cities or coal terminals or prisons.

George Floyd
Breonna Taylor
Trayvon Martin
Fred Hampton
Mark Clark
Oscar Leon Sanchez
Keenan Anderson
Dante Wright
Andre Hill
Manuel Ellis
Aura Rosser
Atatiana Jefferson
and Manual Teran, or Tortuguita

Please join me in a minute of silence. In this time, if you would like to speak out a name to add to this list, please feel free to do so.”

Reach out to Weelaunee Forest Defenders or Community Movement Builders in Atlanta, to bellinghamforestdefense@gmail.com or the Center for Responsible Forestry in Bellingham, or to an organization close to home. 


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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

ACTION ALERT: Crime Claims of CNN’s New Police Expert Don’t Hold Up to Facts

In its latest
 move to the right, CNN recently hired former NYPD flack John Miller as its “chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst.” As Josmar Trujillo observed more than five years ago (FAIR.org, 6/21/17), Miller “has spun the revolving door between law enforcement and media like perhaps no one else,” moving back and forth between jobs at the NYPD, FBI, ABC and CBS.

Just last year, while working for the NYPD, Miller falsely testified that there was “no evidence” the department had spied on Muslims in mosques—when, in fact, AP had won a Pulitzer in 2012 for uncovering how after 9/11 the NYPD “systematically spied on Muslim neighborhoods, listened in on sermons, infiltrated colleges and photographed law-abiding residents” (Popular Information9/7/22). Shahana Hanif, the Muslim city council member who called out Miller’s lies, told Popular Information:

"John Miller had the audacity to lie under oath about the nature of this program to my face…. Someone like John Miller should not be in public service nor should they be given a platform on a mainstream cable news network.

Predictably, within days of joining CNN, Miller offered up a healthy dose of dishonest copaganda to the network’s audience.

Heads I win, tails you lose

CNN: NYC Crime Rates

John Miller misexplains crime stats to CNN‘s audience (New Day9/7/22).

On CNN New Day (9/7/22), anchor John Berman brought up the issue of crime in New York City, noting that murder and shooting rates had fallen over the past year, and asking Miller to explain “how…that was achieved.”

Miller replied:

"Well, I know how it was achieved because I was there. And that was achieved by extraordinarily smart deployments, which is the Bronx was driving the shooting numbers for the city a year ago. They flooded the Bronx with police officers on overtime. They flooded the Bronx with police officers working a sixth or seventh day.

They shifted tours around. They were very strategic, watching every shooting, every dot on the map and pushing resources there. And they were able to suppress that. 

Berman then asked Miller how to explain the seeming anomaly that “you can get the murder right and shootings down, but robbery, felony assaults and overall crime, all up? Miller responded:

"When you take the larceny, burglary, auto theft, these are all covered under New York’s new bail reform laws, which is, criminals know — criminals have very good intelligence, as good as the police when it comes to collecting information and distributing that among each other—they know that there are certain charges where the judge in New York state, not just New York City, is legally prohibited, prohibited by law, from setting bail in that case. So they know I commit the crime, if I get caught, I’ll be out as soon as I get my hearing. Now, that has caused recidivism, which was always a problem, to skyrocket. So basically when you look at the larceny, the robberies—which are just larcenies where somebody tried to stop them—the burglaries, the auto thefts…. We have people, John, coming from New Jersey, where they have plenty of cars, to steal cars in New York City, because they know if they get caught, they will not go to jail.

In sum: some crimes are down because police have flooded crime-ridden neighborhoods, but that same flood of police has nothing to do with an increase in other crimes, because bail reform.

NY Post: NYPD’s own stats debunk claims of bail reform leading to spike in gun violence

New York Post (7/8/20): “Most people released under the criminal justice reforms or amid the pandemic had no known ties to the bloodshed…. Cops should focus on the flow of illegal guns into the city.”

Unsurprisingly, this is exactly the argument Miller’s former employer, and New York mayor and former cop Eric Adams, have been making recently, based on data they will not publicly release, and that contradicts all actually available data (City and State New York8/3/22Crime and Justice2021; Quattrone Center, 8/16/22).

Curiously, when shootings were up in 2020 (and other crimes were down), the NYPD’s argument had it that that was the result of bail reform. At the time, the total mendacity was called out by even the right-wing, cop-loving, Murdoch-owned New York Post (7/8/20). Now with the crime rates reversed, the NYPD and its allies are hoping the baseless bail reform blame will stick on a different target.

Contrary to evidence

In fact, murder and shooting rates are down slightly nationwide, after two years of increases. Criminal justice observers note that, while one should always be cautious in attempting to explain short-term changes in crime rates because of the many interacting factors involved, the nationwide shifts strongly point to national, rather than local, causes—foremost among them the major social and economic dislocations caused by the Covid-19 pandemic that have diminished as pandemic-related restrictions have lifted (Brennan Center, 7/12/22). Gun sales in particular have been mostly dropping since the spring of 2021, after a massive spike from March 2020 through January 2021—a surge in available weaponry that surely encouraged the rise in gun-related crimes like homicide and shootings (FAIR.org7/20/21).

Indeed, it would be very surprising if the NYPD were able to significantly reduce shooting rates by “flooding the Bronx with police officers,” as most research has found no or minimal reductions in violent crime with increased policing—including in New York City. Instead, more cops mostly translates into more arrests for low-level crimes, and the substantial costs those impose on heavily policed communities (FAIR.org1/27/22).

Vera: U.S. pretrial and total jail population, 1970–2015

Vera Institute (4/19): “While the pretrial population comprised about half of people in jail prior to the early 1990s, it now accounts for approximately two-thirds of people in jail nationwide.”

Bail reform is not a policy that says that people who get caught “will not go to jail.” The purpose of bail historically was to make sure that someone accused of a crime—presumed innocent until proven guilty—would show up for their trial. But over the past few decades, the number of people in jail who have not yet been convicted of a crime has increased dramatically, and bail has become a punishment for the poor and a cash cow for the multi-billion dollar bail bond industry.

In fact, research shows that pretrial detention increases the likelihood of conviction, the harshness of the sentence, and the likelihood of recidivism. Given that detainees often wait months for trial, pleading guilty regardless of the circumstances can often seem like the best option for getting back to their life, job (and income), family and community. That pretrial detention also increases crime shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the disruptions it causes in people’s lives, and given that their increased conviction rate makes it harder for them to get work after release (Vera Institute, 4/19).

New York State’s 2019 bail reform prohibited bail for most misdemeanor and nonviolent felony charges, and required judges to consider the person’s ability to pay when setting bail. Other states and cities have pursued similar reforms. These reforms have reduced the number of people in jail awaiting trial. But according to all available evidence, they haven’t increased crime.

In the most comprehensive assessment of the impact of bail reform on recidivism in New York City, the city’s Office of Criminal Justice reported that as of June 2021, pretrial rearrest rates—the recidivism Miller claimed was skyrocketing “because they know if they get caught, they will not go to jail”—”have remained consistent over time and have not changed with bail reform,” at around 4%. And fewer than 1% are arrested for felonies, like auto theft and burglary.

Moreover, rollbacks in spring 2020 to those reforms allowed judges to set bail for even nonviolent felony cases that involved “persistent felony offenders”—which means the recidivism Miller and the NYPD are highlighting is not impacted by bail reform.

In other words, basically everything Miller said about NYC crime was false pro-punishment propaganda. And that’s what passes for “objectivity” at today’s CNN.


ACTION: 

Please ask CNN to explain why a person who lied repeatedly and under oath about law enforcement actions, and is now misrepresenting the evidence on the causes of crime trends on CNN‘s own programming, should be offered to its viewers as an expert on police policies and practices.

CONTACT:

Messages to CNN can be sent here (or via Twitter @CNN). Please remember that respectful communication is the most effective. Feel free to leave a copy of your message in the comments thread of this post.



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Reprinted with permission.  FAIR’s work is sustained by their generous contributors, who allow them to remain independent. Donate today to be a part of this important mission.
Please support and visit The Brooks Blackboard's websiteour INTEL pageOPEN MIND page, and LIKE and FOLLOW our Facebook page.

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Friday, February 4, 2022

'Shame on Them': DOJ Will Not Reopen Tamir Rice Case

"I think they're pitiful and pathetic, and at this point no one is going to get justice when it comes to police shootings in America," said Rice's mother.



February 1, 2022                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
The mother of Tamir Rice, who was shot to death at age 12 by a Cleveland, Ohio police officer, condemned the U.S. Department of Justice's decision not to reopen her son's case.  "Shame on them," Samaria Rice told Buzzfeed News Monday after receiving a letter from the DOJ regarding the Biden administration's decision. "I think they're pitiful and pathetic, and at this point no one is going to get justice when it comes to police shootings in America. It's disgusting I don't have an indictment for my 12-year-old son."

"Curing a defective state process... is consistent with the fundamental purpose of the federal civil rights laws and squarely within the mandate of the DOJ."

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, who heads the DOJ's Civil Rights Division, told the Rice family in a letter dated last Friday that federal prosecutors who looked at the case could not prove that Rice's civil rights were violated intentionally when he was shot and killed by the officer.

The letter referenced Section 242 of Title 18 in the U.S. Code, which states that "an officer acted ‘willfully’ if he did so with bad purpose—that is, with the specific intent to do something the law forbids—to deprive a person of their constitutional rights."

"After viewing, and exhaustively evaluating the available evidence in this matter," Clarke wrote, "career prosecutors determined that the federal government could not meet this high standard."

Rice was killed in 2014 after a witness called 911 to report that he was playing with a pellet gun outside a recreation center in Cleveland. Officer Timothy Loehmann shot and killed the boy less than two seconds after pulling up to the scene in a police car, according to video evidence.

The Trump administration said in December 2020 that it would not bring charges against the officer and a grand jury decided not to indict Loehmann as well.

The Cleveland Police Department has been under court-ordered supervision since 2015 after an investigation that began before Rice's killing found its officers had a "pattern or practice" of using excessive force and violating people's civil rights.

Samaria Rice sent four letters to the Biden administration asking the DOJ to reopen her son's case, citing the "long-standing and systemic excessive force problem" in the Cleveland Police Department as one reason to consider federal charges.

Fifty legal scholars signed one of the letters arguing that "covening a federal grand jury and prosecution under Section 242 is warranted."

The scholars cited two federal cases that demonstrate the fact of the case "satisfy the requirement" of Loehmann's intent to violate Rice's civil rights, including United States v. Couch:

The Sixth Circuit upheld jury instructions that explained the intent element to include "reckless disregard" of constitutional rights, and that intent could be inferred from circumstantial evidence. Specifically, the jury instructions in Couch included the explanation that "intent is a state of mind and can be proven by circumstantial evidence" and that it is "not necessary for you to find that the defendants were thinking in constitutional terms at the time of the incident, as a reckless disregard for a person’s constitutional rights is evidence of a specific intent to deprive that person of those rights."

In our view, the tragic and unnecessary shooting death of Tamir Rice presents an important opportunity for the Department to clarify and cement a clear, fair, and proper interpretation of Section 242 that fully realizes the purpose of the statute as enacted by Congress.

"Curing a defective state process—in this case, one that appears to have been impermissibly slanted to protect local white law enforcement officials from accountability in the shooting death of a young black child—is consistent with the fundamental purpose of the federal civil rights laws and squarely within the mandate of the DOJ," wrote the scholars.


This article originally appeared at CommonDreams.org. Originally published on February 2nd, 2022. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. 

Please support and visit The Brooks Blackboard's websiteour INTEL pageOPEN MIND page, and LIKE and FOLLOW our Facebook page.

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