When Caitlin Cullen looks at the former Wally Schmidt Tavern on the near north side, she sees more than the future home of her restaurant, the Tandem, where chicken and family-style entrées will be the specialties. She sees what could be a bridge between the Lindsay Heights neighborhood and downtown.
STATEMENT OF PRESIDENT ASHANTI HAMILTON
AUGUST 15, 2016
For generations, Milwaukee has been a city crying out for justice. But
there is no justice in a mob scene, and the time is now to come together
as a city and peacefully reflect on our problems instead of inciting
more of them.
Accordingly, I’m calling on every Milwaukeean to practice nonviolence
and restraint in the nights ahead. If you feel the need to make your
voice heard, I would expect you to do it peacefully, and to obey the
lawful orders of the police officers charged with protecting our lives
and our property.
There is a process for investigating the police-involved shooting that
precipitated this weekend’s unrest, and I would ask our residents to
withhold their judgment until they have learned more of the facts in
this matter. I am told there is body camera footage of the shooting, and
that when it is shared, it will bring additional facts to light. We are
pushing to expedite the release of this video and these facts as much as
Make no mistake about it, the frustration and the anger that we’ve seen
expressed–sometimes violently–are very real, and so are the
disparities that created them. Our city is home to neighborhoods full of
kids and young people who feel trapped without opportunity, without hope
and without role models. They see a world that’s passing them by because
of where they were born and the color of their skin.
We have struggled for too long just to _begin_ to rebuild our city, and
we will not stand by and let violence and incivility tear it all down
again. The sort of unchecked rage and destruction we have witnessed
these past two nights hasn’t put us any closer to finding solutions for
our problems. Hurling bricks through windows doesn’t fix anything, but
picking those bricks up and building something, as a community, might. I
hope my neighbors will join me in seeking a peaceful solution to our
Lawrence Hurley, Chris Prentice of Reuters via Huff Post Black Voices
Before the killing of three law enforcement officers on Sunday and the fatal shooting of a black man by police earlier this month, Baton Rouge was a city divided between the police and the policed.
Tensions in Louisiana’s state capital go back years. For many residents, the police force has been viewed as overly aggressive and unrepresentative of a city where over half the 230,000 residents are black and where racial problems date back decades.
Minorities are “very wary of police and often afraid of them,” says Michele Fournet, a veteran Baton Rouge criminal defense lawyer.
It was unclear whether there was a link between Sunday’s shootings and the recent unrest over the police killings of black men in Baton Rouge and Minnesota. Police told CNN the shootings on Sunday did not appear to be race-related.
Officers were responding to a call of shots fired when they were shot in what Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden described as “an ambush-style deal.” Three officers were killed and three others wounded. The gunman is dead.
“It is unspeakable that these men risking their lives to protect and serve this community were taken out the way that they were,” Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards told a news briefing.
“The hatred just has to stop,” he said.
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AP via Huff Post Black Voices
NORMANDY, Mo. (AP) — A St. Louis County medical examiner has said an 18-year-old who exchanged fire with an officer died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said Saturday.
The medical examiner’s autopsy concluded that Amonderez Green died after a single gunshot wound.
“The autopsy showed Green sustained one gunshot wound, which was located under the chin,” St. Louis County police spokesman Brian Schellman said in a news release Saturday.
Ballistic evidence of the bullet confirmed the round was fired from a .38-caliber revolver, the same type of weapon that police said Green produced Thursday when he was confronted by a Normandy officer after relatives of Green called authorities “seeking police and medical intervention.”
Green died early Thursday, 14 hours after a confrontation with a Normandy officer in which they exchanged gunfire but neither was struck.
The confrontation was near Ferguson, which is still on edge 14 months after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, 18, who was black and unarmed. Green also was black. The Normandy officer, a 12-year veteran of the department, is white. He is on paid administrative leave pending the investigation.
Police said Green was suicidal and ran a short way before shooting himself.
Green’s father and others had questioned the Normandy police department’s account, though Normandy police Cpl. Tameika Sanders has said there was no question that Green killed himself.
Schellman said in the release that the investigation is still active and that police are seeking information and witnesses in the case.
By Nick Wing & Julia Craven -Huff Post Black Voices
It’s been almost a year since a St. Louis County prosecutor cleared Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. We’ve seen some significant changes since Nov. 24, 2014: Missouri overhauled its corrupt municipal court system, the push for police body cameras kicked into high gear and Black Lives Matter activists have made police reform an issue in the Democratic presidential primary.
And new data released Monday shows that just 10 months into the year 2015, more officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter in fatal shootings than in any full year in the past decade.
Between January and October, prosecutors have announced such charges for 12 officers, according to data compiled by Philip Stinson, an associate professor of criminology at Ohio’s Bowling Green State University. (Only a few of the actual shootings took place this year, including former North Charleston Officer Michael Slager’s shooting of Walter Scott in April, and former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing’s shooting of Sam DuBose in July.)
While this number might not seem very high, especially considering the seemingly constant stream of stories about police violence, it’s a significant increase. Between 2005 and 2014, Stinson found that an average of five officers each year faced charges of murder or manslaughter after shooting civilians. By contrast, we’re on pace to see 14 or 15 such indictments by the end of 2015, nearly three times the annual average over the previous decade. This will be encouraging to police reform advocates who have gotten increasingly vocal about just how frequently law enforcement officers shoot civilians — and how rarely they are indicted.
But only in the face of an overwhelming resistance to charge police officers could 12 or 15 indictments look like substantial progress. And given that the country has historically failed to hold officers accountable for shootings — even in the rare instances in which they are charged — there may be little reason for broader optimism.
In the absence of federally collected data on police killings, both The Washington Post and The Guardian have launched their own tracking projects. The Post reports that 809 people have been fatally shot by police so far this year, while The Guardian says officers have killed 940 people when all causes of death are counted. Of these 940 people, 184 were unarmed and of those, 60 were black.
Stinson, himself a former police officer, believes the increased attention being paid to police brutality may have contributed to the rise in prosecution, though he adds that it’s too early to tell whether 2015 is a statistical outlier or an indication of a trend. At any rate, he says a handful of charges isn’t likely to eliminate skepticism about the general failure to prosecute police officers.
“About 1,100 people a year get killed by police officers in this country, and I gotta believe that more than five or 12 a year are unjustified,” he told The Huffington Post. “But most of those shootings are found to be justified, because there’s not video to contradict the officer’s written reports and statements, there’s not another officer to contradict the officer’s statements.”
And just because a few more cops are being prosecuted this year doesn’t mean they’ll actually be convicted. History certainly suggests that the odds will be in the officers’ favor.
Since 2005, just 14 officers have been successfully prosecuted on charges related to fatal on-duty shootings, a rate of about one in five, according to data compiled by Stinson and researchers at The Washington Post. Most faced lesser charges of manslaughter, and the average jail sentence was just over three years. In a few cases, officers pleaded down further, earning lower jail sentences and the option to have their records expunged. In the most severely punished case, two Atlanta police officers who killed a 92-year-old woman in a botched drug raid faced sentences of six and 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to felony voluntary manslaughter and a federal civil rights violation.
There has yet to be a police officer successfully convicted in 2015. None of the 12 cases announced this year have concluded yet, and a number of shooting prosecutions that began in previous years are ongoing, meaning it’s possible several more officers will be convicted in the near future.
But there’s no reason to take that possibility for granted. Investigations into police misconduct often begin as joint operations between the prosecutor’s office and police departments. Because the two entities tend to work closely together on a variety of matters, critics charge that these probes can fall victim to a problematic conflict of interest, both before and after charges are announced.
Furthermore, a Supreme Court decision has established that an officer’s decision to use lethal force must be based in “objective reasonableness,” an abstract standard that gives officers broad leeway to argue that their actions were necessary. This regularly leads judges to exonerate officers charged in connection with fatal shootings.
And even when a case does make it to a jury trial, many reform advocates say that format is even more skewed in favor of the officer, from the selection process all the way to the actual courtroom proceedings. In general, jurors tend to side with officers. They’re regularly instructed to look at the situation through the officer’s eyes and often hesitate to second-guess their actions.
“We don’t really know what juries do behind closed doors, and when push comes to shove what we’ve seen so far is that juries are just incredibly reluctant to convict officers for these on-duty cases that involve something that they recognize is related to policing,” said Stinson. “Even when you have video footage that would suggest otherwise, they just aren’t likely to convict.”
The increase in police indictments this year may be a welcome sign, especially if it suggests that some prosecutors are actually starting to take a less forgiving approach to police shootings. But charging more police officers for alleged impropriety in killings is just one small step toward much-needed broader reform.
“I conclude that this tragic and unfortunate death was the result of a lawful use of deadly police force and that no charges should be brought against Officer Kenny in the death of Tony Robinson Jr.,” said Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne.
Protesters march on May 12 after hearing the officer who shot Tony Robinson would not be charged.
Ozanne said that marijuana, Xanax and psychedelic mushrooms were found in Robinson’s system.
Shortly after the district attorney’s announcement, the Wisconsin Department of Justice released its report, which similarly suggested that Robinson’s allegedly erratic behavior could be explained by the use of ‘shrooms.
Robinson’s death sparked protests in Madison, and hundreds of people attended his funeral in mid-March.
On Tuesday, Chris Ahmuty, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin, criticized the decision not to file charges as leaving a “cloud of uncertainty” over the circumstances of and responsibility for Robinson’s death.
“If Officer Kenny did not violate the law, then is anyone legally responsible for Mr. Robinson’s death?” Ahmuty said in a statement. “Does the criminal law protect individuals like Mr. Robinson from deadly force exercised by police officers? Are police officers above the law?”
Ahmuty also called for greater transparency from the police. “Furthermore, what will the Madison Police Department do to ensure that Madison police officers stop killing unarmed individuals, when they have killed three people in the past 11 months? The MPD needs to find ways to hold officers accountable, so that they will know there will be consequences for their actions,” he said.
“They could have done a lot. What they didn’t do was give my son any respect,” Irwin told the Associated Press, noting that she doesn’t think the investigation was thorough enough.
At a Tuesday evening press conference, Robinson’s grandmother, Sharon Irwin, said he had been “slandered from the beginning” and decried the way he had been portrayed by the district attorney and in local news.
“I will miss him for the rest of my life, when you go home and don’t have to deal with this anymore,” Irwin said. “This is forever for me.”
“The exhaustive independent and transparent investigation into this tragic incident has confirmed that Officer Kenny’s actions on the night of March 6 were lawful and in response to a deadly threat, from which Officer Kenny sustained numerous injuries, including a concussion,” he said in a statement.
Palmer added, “Our hearts go out to Mr. Robinson’s family, and we appreciate the challenges and emotions that this incident has inspired.”
He called for the city to unify and engage in a “community-wide dialogue to strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and the people it serves, and to otherwise move forward in a way that protects all of our citizens and the officers that police our streets.”
During the press conference Tuesday, the family’s attorney, Jon Loevy, said Robinson’s relatives support the right of community members to express their anger and frustration, but he also urged restraint.
“The family feels strongly that protests should be not violent. They should be calm,” Loevy said. “This is not a situation where people should get hurt or the community should tear itself apart. We’re confident the community of Madison is not about that because Tony’s not about that.”
Some protesters holding “Black Lives Matter” banners gathered near Williamson Street shortly after the district attorney’s decision was announced.
Just after the state’s inquiry into Robinson’s death began, his uncle, Turin Carter, had said he trusted investigators would act “with integrity,” NBC News reported. Wisconsin and Connecticut are the only U.S. states in which officer-involved shootings cannot be investigated by the law enforcement agency involved
By SCOTT BAUER of AP via Huff Post Black Voices
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Known as a liberal haven with a long history of progressive politics, Madison takes pride in being named one of the nation’s best places to live, raise a family and retire, lovingly embracing its unofficial motto as “77 square miles surrounded by reality.”
But the fatal shooting of an unarmed young biracial man by a white police officer in the heart of one of the city’s most liberal neighborhoods is forcing a renewed discussion about the racial divide in a community where African-Americans make up 7 percent of the population but account for a disproportionate share of arrests, incarcerations and children in poverty.
“Madison relies on its progressive history and past to ignore the current realities,” said Sergio Gonzalez, a 27-year-old graduate student at the University of Wisconsin who grew up in Milwaukee. “It’s unfortunate it takes the death of a 19-year-old to open up the eyes of Madison.”
Tony Robinson was shot and killed by police officer Matt Kenny early Friday evening while investigating a call that the young man was jumping in and out of traffic and had assaulted someone. The officer heard a disturbance and forced his way into an apartment where Robinson had gone. Authorities said Kenny fired after Robinson assaulted him.
The Associated Press had described Robinson as black based on police descriptions of him as African-American. But at a news conference Monday, family members repeatedly emphasized that he embraced a biracial identity from having a white mother and black father.
Since the shooting, the police chief and mayor — both white — have struck a conciliatory tone with black leaders, who have organized peaceful protests and marches in reaction to the shooting. The police chief apologized for the shooting on Monday without acknowledging any wrongdoing by the officer or the department. An investigation by the state Department of Justice is ongoing.
Those who have worked for years on addressing Madison’s racial disparities hope that the shooting brings new attention to underlying problems in the city of 240,000 that is anchored by the university and the state Capitol.
A 2013 report by Wisconsin Children and Families analyzed census data to paint a picture of two Madisons — one where white people were thriving and blacks were struggling.
The report showed that the unemployment rate for blacks in Dane County, which includes Madison, was 25 percent in 2011 compared with 5 percent for whites. That was a larger divide than both the state and national average.
Other statistics are even more striking. The percentage of black children living in poverty in Madison was 58 percent over a three-year period ending in 2013, compared with 5 percent for white children. Nationally, 38 percent of black children were in poverty over that time.
Student test scores, juvenile and adult arrests rates, incarceration rates and graduation rates all show massive gaps between whites and blacks.
“This is one of the best places in America, and I love this community. But until we solve some of the issues in this city, we can’t call ourselves progressive,” said Michael Johnson, leader of the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County. “It’s like a cancer. You have to root out the problems causing the economic challenges for the city.”
Erica Nelson, project director for the Race to Equity report, said since it was released there have been small improvements in the numbers, but the problems remain.
“Madison is a wonderful place to live, but it also to its detriment relied on the status quo of that reputation for a long time and therefore was able to brush under the rug many of these issues, or they haven’t been brought to the forefront,” she said. “It’s easy to live in this self-satisfying status quo.”
Jacquelyn Hunt, a mother of seven and grandmother of four who moved to Madison from Chicago 25 years ago, said Madison’s white liberals have convinced themselves there is equity and justice in the city.
“But we’re finding out more and more that’s not the case,” said Hunt, who is African-American. She came to the Capitol on Monday to join high school students who walked out of class to speak out against the shooting.
The message can be a difficult one for a city where President Barack Obama carried 78 percent of the vote in 2012 and residents pride themselves on their progressive politics.
The shooting occurred on Williamson Street, affectionately known as Willy Street by the locals, just one block from a well-known natural food co-op. Rep. Mark Pocan, an openly gay Democratic congressman, used to live just a few blocks away. In a statement, he noted that black men in Madison are arrested at eight times the rate of whites.
“My hope,” said Pocan, who is white, “is that out of this tragedy comes an opportunity for our community to grow stronger together.”
Rhea Vedro, a white woman who carried a sign that said “White Silence = White Consent” to Monday’s rally, said it’s easy for people in Madison to ignore the racial divide.
“There are two or three different Madisons,” Vedro said. “People don’t really mix unless they have to in school.”
Madison’s racial problems are systemic, said Stace Rierson, a 46-year-old white woman who came to the rally wearing a T-shirt that said “Racism Still Exists.”
“White liberals have so much privilege in Madison,” she said. “For others to gain power, someone else has to give up their power. And are whites ready for that?”
The Detroit police officer who fatally shot a sleeping 7-year-old girl will not be retried, officials said Wednesday.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement that her office was moving to dismiss the case against Officer Joseph Weekley. He was originally charged with involuntary manslaughter and careless discharge of a firearm causing death, a misdemeanor, after Aiyana Stanley-Jones was killed in 2010 during a botched police raid at her home.
Weekley’s first trial in 2013 ended in a mistrial. In a second trial last year, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway dismissed the manslaughter charge after a motion by the defense. The jury again deadlocked while deliberating whether to convict Weekley of the lesser charge, causing a second mistrial.
“Today we personally informed the family of Aiyana Stanley–Jones that we have made a decision that we would not be going to trial for a third time in the Joseph Weekley case,” Worthy said, calling Hathaway’s decision to dismiss the manslaughter charge “unfortunate.”
Shortly after midnight on May 16, 2010, members of the Detroit Police Department’s Special Response Team initiated a raid on the Stanley-Jones home in search of a murder suspect. Weekley was first through the door and allegedly had difficulty seeing when another officer threw a a flash-bang grenade. Weekley fired his gun, killing Aiyana, who had been asleep on the couch with her grandmother.
Weekley maintained that he only shot because the grandmother, Mertilla Jones, struck his gun. She denied touching his weapon, and at trial the prosecution questioned why Weekley had his finger on the trigger.
As activists around the country have widely protested the police killings of unarmed black individuals, including Eric Garner in New York City and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Detroiters have added Aiyana’s name to the list of victims. In October, Roland Lawrence, chairman of the Justice for Aiyana Committee, condemned the judge’s decision to dismiss the manslaughter charge against Weekley.
“Surely, the death of a baby by a well-trained police force must be deemed unacceptable in a civilized society,” Lawrence said in a statement at the time.
The prosecution will move to dismiss the case against Weekley Friday morning.
America is a country where practically anything is possible with the right money behind you.
Black Americans’ spending power in this country is presently valued at approximately $1.1 trillion dollars annually. Yes trillion, with a “T”, per year.
In the wake of the grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown, Jr., frustration, anger and grief abound. The failing of the system struck a different nerve this time. Another Black life, instantly devalued by the system of so-called justice in this country.
People are now struggling with the questions of “What can be done?” “How can we make them hear us?” Many are expressing their discontentment with rallies and marches, raising their fists and voices to the sky in an effort to be heard. What long-term plan could we enact to actually make a palpable change? Thoughts have turned to boycotts, the historic action of those that feel oppressed by a system greater than they. With Black Friday coming up, it seems as easy a target as any.
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By Carey Gillam and Kenny Bahr
ST LOUIS, Mo. Oct 9 (Reuters) – Police clashed with protesters in St. Louis on Thursday for a second night after an officer killed a black teenager, ahead of a weekend of planned rallies in the area over the August killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.
Throughout the night, as many as 400 demonstrators spread out across several city blocks in south St. Louis, angrily shouting and chanting at rows of police officers, many of whom were clad in riot gear.
Dozens of protesters had met earlier at the site in the Shaw neighborhood where 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers Jr. was shot dead on Wednesday by an off-duty white officer working for a private security firm in what police described as a firefight.
But demonstrations grew increasingly chaotic. At one point early on Friday morning, a line of police pushed towards a group of several dozen protesters who jeered and cursed at them, pepper-spraying those who refused to disperse.
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson told local television station Fox 2 that at one point during the tense protest, someone behind the massive crowd threw a knife that struck an officer’s body vest at the shoulder.
He added that a police car and several businesses and residences had been damaged and that U.S. flags were burned. Two people had been arrested by midnight local time, Dotson said, during which one officer suffered minor injuries.
The St. Louis area is bracing for further unrest over the killing of Brown by a white police officer two months ago, with Myers’ death on Wednesday expected to add fuel to the fire.
Several civil rights organizations and protest groups, including Hands Up United, planned to mark the weekend with marches and rallies in St. Louis and the suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, where Brown was killed.
The groups are demanding the arrest of the officer who killed Brown, and want to draw attention to police treatment of black Americans. Protest organizers said they are planning only peaceful activities, but fear that Wednesday’s killing of the black teen might trigger violent outbursts.
“We never advocate violence … But I do know that people were angry last night and they will be out this weekend,” said Tory Russell, a leader of Hands Up United. “I don’t know what they are going to do.”
At least 6,000 have registered on an organizing website for the “weekend of resistance” events in and around Ferguson, which kick off on Friday with a “Justice Now” march to the office of St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch.
The weekend is to be capped with actions of “civil disobedience” on Monday.
Organizers said they are also planning to create a “memory altar” to victims of police violence and to hold a candlelight march carrying a coffin to the Ferguson Police Department.
Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said law enforcement officers throughout the area are planning for large crowds and possible violence.
“There are a lot of people coming into town,” said Knowles. “We are going to be prepared. There is intel out there that there are people wanting to do bad things. And people who want to cause a problem are going to use that (the shooting on Wednesday) as a rallying cry,” he said.
The police department would not identify the 32-year-old officer who shot Myers. Police said Myers fired multiple times at the officer, before the officer returned 17 shots and fatally wounded him.
The officer was not hurt and was placed on administrative leave as the shooting is investigated, police said.
Relatives of Myers said he did not have a gun, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The shooting sparked protests that raged until dawn on Thursday. One person was arrested and several police vehicles were damaged in the unrest, police officials said. (Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City, Mo.; Editing by Catherine Evans).