(Repost from CNN –Eliott C. McLaughlin)
New video captured hours before Michael Brown was killed shows the 18-year-old exchanging marijuana for cigarillos with the clerks of a Ferguson, Missouri, store, a documentary director told CNN on Monday.
(Repost from CNN –Eliott C. McLaughlin)
New video captured hours before Michael Brown was killed shows the 18-year-old exchanging marijuana for cigarillos with the clerks of a Ferguson, Missouri, store, a documentary director told CNN on Monday.
CNN’s Azadeh Ansari, Dianne Gallagher, Sara Sidner, Faith Robinson, Joe Sutton, Janet DiGiacomo, Amanda Watts and Chris Cuomo contributed to this report.
Tallahassee, FL — On September 13, 2016, Victor Holman of Lifecycle Performance Professionals will be launching CopCritic – the first ever live streaming mobile app and website focused specifically on ensuring safe interactions between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
A preview of the app can be viewed on YouTube video here:
CopCritic allows the public to view, monitor, rate, comment on and escalate situations where officers are over aggressive or someone’s life is in danger. The app itself and the 3 L’s process (Launch, License, Let) is designed to de-escalate potential life threatening situations during routine stops.
How the app works:
* User pushes the Live Stream button when confronted by police
* CopCritic notifies app user’s emergency contacts and sends them link to live stream
* CopCritic app broadcasts the live interaction with police
* Stream is archived to a channel based on the police station and location
* Public can view live and archived streams
* Viewers can rate, comment on and escalate live streams
* Data gathered from ratings, comments and forum posts are used to help improve knowledge and training for law enforcement
The mission of CopCritic is to end the avoidable violence, which law abiding citizens sometimes encounter when interacting with police; to balance the systemic injustices and unfair treatment that ultimately lead to excessive force and shootings; to disarm the tensions police have when approaching minorities; and to ensure both party’s safety.
The app also aims to help law enforcement understand what is considered good and poor behavior from the public’s perception, and to provide law enforcement with data and analytics to help the better understand the communities they serve and improve training.
When asked why change is needed, founder Victor Holman said, “Police have killed at least 1,624 people in 2015 and 2016. 198 of them were unarmed. Only 10 cases have resulted in an officer being charged with a crime. The intent of CopCritic is not to charge officers with crimes, but to avoid these incidents all together. CopCritic will save lives.”
According to a recent nationwide survey, 61% of officers do not always report serious abuse by fellow officers. And 52% turn a blind eye to excessive force committed by fellow officers.
“With CopCritic, we will be able to identify officers that have a history of aggressive behavior, and get them the proper training they need before another tragic accident occurs,” Holman adds. “It’s time for transparency in these incidents!”
According to statistics, 11 million Blacks and Hispanics will get pulled over. 716,000 will get searched and 386,000 will experience excessive force. This means that we, and our cell phones, may be the only line of defense when it comes to incidents with aggressive and abusive law enforcement officers.
Benefits to the Public:
* Complete transparency with law enforcement interactions
* A standard process for ensuring safety for police and public
* App user’s loved ones get notified immediately when there is a situation
* Encourages police to be on their best behavior
Benefits to Law Enforcement:
* Officers can increase public confidence and trust
* Streams can be used as training tools
* Complete transparency. Captures more than patrol car can
* Peace of mind knowing citizen is asking for safe, peaceful interaction
* Provides a bridge between law enforcement and community
Benefits to Parents:
* Parents will know when child is in police custody
* Child has a standard, safe process for interacting with authorities
* There is complete transparency in the way their child is handled
* Their children will know loved ones are with them
* Parents can respond faster
* This issue is at the forefront of race relations
* Noted politicians, athletes and other celebrities have called for change
* America (and the UK) is open for ideas to create change
* Because ALL LIVES MATTER
This application launches on Tuesday, September 13th. Funds raised will help cover the hardware, bandwidth, data analytics and law enforcement training expert costs. All are encouraged to make a difference and help fund the CopCritic Kickstarter campaign, which can be found at the following link: www.kickstarter.com/projects/339738421/copcritic-app-helping-police-and-public-communicat
For more information, Victor Holman can be contacted at (888) 861-8733.
Ryan J. Reilly -Huff Post Politics
WASHINGTON — Former Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday drew parallels between Black Lives Matter protests and the civil rights movement, dismissed the notion floated by the FBI director that the so-called “Ferguson effect” may be resulting in increases in crime, and said the country is still too afraid to talk about race.
Holder also said that it may make sense for the federal government to only distribute grants to police departments that meet certain standards, which could help rein in abusive behavior by law enforcement. He suggested that the Justice Department, and perhaps the federal government more broadly, could tie grants to “some sort of conduct assessment” to ensure the money only goes to departments that “conduct themselves in appropriate ways.” He added that such a proposal would likely require congressional approval.
Holder, who made civil rights and criminal justice reform signature issues in his Justice Department, stepped down as the nation’s top law enforcement official in April upon the confirmation of Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
He spoke with a handful of reporters on Wednesday, along with Taylor Branch, a Pulitzer Prize winning author who chronicled the civil rights movement and the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Taylor will receive the 2015 Records of Achievement Award from the National Archives Foundation on Wednesday evening, and Holder will interview him at the event.
Branch and Holder spoke about the differences between the civil rights movement a half a century ago and the current struggle for racial equality.
“I think many of the issues are in some ways the same,” Holder said. “It’s a question of people wanting to be treated in appropriate ways, having their government respect them and accord them the rights to which they’re entitled as American citizens. Different issues, but I think it’s at some level, the same basic concerns, the same basic desires.”
Holder said there is no “unquestioned leader” who is a modern analogue to King, but added that such a figure might not be necessary.
“Do we have here a moment, or do we have a movement? That, I think, is still up in the air,” Holder said. “From my perspective, I’m not so certain.”
Holder, who traveled to Ferguson, Missouri, following the death of Michael Brown in August 2014, also disputed FBI Director James Comey’s speculation that police officers’ fear of being caught in viral videos is leading to an increase in crime. Holder has praised Comey’s speech about the history of tension between law enforcement and communities of color, and did so again on Wednesday, calling his comments “gutsy.” But said he believes the comments on the “Ferguson effect” aren’t based in fact.
“I don’t agree with the comments that he’s made about, or the connection he’s drawn, between the so-called ‘Ferguson effect’ and this rise in crime,” Holder said, adding that Comey seemed to be relying on anecdotes rather than data.
“You can’t base policy on anecdotal evidence,” Holder said. “It’s hard for us to understand why crime dropped to historic lows over the last 40 years. I think it’s probably equally difficult — or even more difficult — to explain why crime has gone up in some places, violent crime has gone up in some places, over the past 12 months. But I don’t think it’s connected to the so-called Ferguson effect.”
Holder’s comments echoed those of President Barack Obama, who told police chiefs at a speech in Chicago on Tuesday that it was important to “stick with the facts” and not “cherrypick data or use anecdotal evidence” when talking about criminal justice. Many chiefs there said they don’t believe officers are somehow backing down over fear of going viral.
“I frankly don’t think police officers are laying down on the job,” Holder said. “I don’t think they’re taking a knee, as I saw somebody put it. I don’t think police officers are taking a knee, they’re out there doing what they went to their job to do.”
“What I said then, I think is still pretty accurate,” Holder said. “Talking about racial things, especially given this nation’s history when it comes to racial matters, is a very, very difficult thing to do from both sides. We’ve become quite adept at finding ways not to deal with racial issues, and I think that is to the detriment of our country and out ability to make progress.”
“We see situations where officers will reach out to young people and work with them. They’ll go into the classrooms with them. And so we’re hoping that these examples can be models for other police departments. But we’re also hoping that community leaders can work with police departments to build these connections so that we can all tell our children how to respect authority, but not to be afraid of police.”
Reuters via Huff Post Black Voices
WASHINGTON, May 30 (Reuters) – U.S. police have shot and killed 385 people during the first five months of this year, a rate of more than two a day, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.
The death rate is more than twice that tallied by the federal government over the past decade, a count that officials concede is incomplete, the newspaper said.
The analysis is based on data the Post is compiling on every fatal shooting by police in 2015, as well as of every officer killed by gunfire in the line of duty.
“We are never going to reduce the number of police shootings if we don’t begin to accurately track this information,” said Jim Bueermann, president of the Police Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving law enforcement.
The Post analysis comes as a national debate is raging over the police use of deadly force, especially against minorities.
Federal Bureau of Investigation records over the past decade show about 400 fatal police shootings a year, or an average of 1.1 deaths a day. Reporting of shootings by police agencies is voluntary.
But the Post’s analysis indicates the daily death toll for 2015 is close to 2.6 as of Friday. At that pace, police will have shot and killed nearly 1,000 people by the end of the year, the paper said.
The Post’s analysis showed that about half the victims were white, half minority. Among unarmed victims, two-thirds were black or Hispanic.
Based on census numbers for the areas where the killings took place, blacks were killed at three times the rate of whites or other minorities.
The victims ranged in age from 16 to 83. More than 80 percent were armed with potentially lethal objects, mostly guns. Ninety-two victims were identified as mentally ill.
Police are authorized to use deadly force when they fear for their lives or the lives of others. Three of the 385 fatal shootings have resulted in an officer being charged with a crime.
Current and former police chiefs and other criminal justice officials told the Post police must begin to accept responsibility for the killings. They said that many deaths could be blamed on poor policing.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
By Ian Simpson of Reuters via Huff Post Black Voices
WASHINGTON, April 21 (Reuters) – Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Baltimore on Tuesday to protest the death of a 27-year-old black man who died after being arrested by local police.
The U.S. Justice Department is looking into the case of Freddie Gray, who was arrested on April 12 and a week later in a hospital after slipping into a coma, a spokeswoman said.
A preliminary autopsy showed Gray died from a spinal injury.
Baltimore police have identified six officers who have been suspended over the death, which sparked outrage in the largely black city and renewed concern about law enforcement treatment of minorities in the United States.
The crowd of protesters gathered on Tuesday evening outside the city’s Western District police headquarters and marched to the spot a few blocks away where Gray was arrested, according to aerial footage on local television.
The protest was peaceful and was winding down at about 9 p.m., CNN reported.
Officers arrested Gray because he fled when they approached him on a street, an incident captured by bystanders’ video recordings.
They found a switchblade knife in his pocket and put him in a police van for transport to a station. When Gray was taken from the van, he was unresponsive and transported to a hospital.
Demanding “Justice for Freddie,” the protesters were calling for the six officers to be charged with first-degree murder, according to CNN.
They could be seen raising their hands in the air, in what has become a protest sign since the August 2014 death of Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
Some witnesses said Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man, had put his hands in the air and said “Don’t shoot” before he was killed. The U.S. Justice Department in a report later said it could not confirm those accounts and said they were not credible.
In the Baltimore case, a Justice Department spokeswoman said: “Based on preliminary information, the Department of Justice has officially opened this matter and is gathering information to determine whether any prosecutable civil rights violation occurred.”
Police identified the officers suspended with pay as Lieutenant Brian Rice, 41, Sergeant Alicia White, 30, Officer William Porter, 25, Officer Garrett Miller, 26, Officer Edward Nero, 29, and Officer Caesar Goodson, 45.
Gray’s death follows a series of killings of unarmed black men by white police. The deadly encounters include incidents in New York City and North Charleston, South Carolina.
(Additional reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst in New York, Suzannah Gonzalez in Chicago and Julia Edwards in Washington; Writing by Ian Simpson; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Ted Botha, Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler)
Most of the police force and several officials resigned after the small town of Parma, Missouri elected its first African American woman as mayor, reported KFVS.
Tyrus Byrd, a former city clerk, was officially sworn in as mayor on Tuesday after beating incumbent Randall Ramsey. Ramsey had served as mayor of Parma for 37 years under two terms.
The outgoing mayor said five of the city’s six police officers submitted their resignation, citing “safety concerns.” Parma’s city attorney, clerk and water treatment supervisor also quit.
Some Parma residents say they aren’t worried about safety now that the police force has shrunk. “I think it’s pretty dirty they all quit without giving her a chance,” resident Martha Miller told KFVS. “But I don’t think they hurt the town any by quitting, because who needs six police for 740 people.”
At her swearing in ceremony, Byrd said that she is looking to getting things in order for the city.
A Michigan police officer who appears in a recent video punching an unarmed black man more than a dozen times has a record riddled with allegations of planting evidence, falsifying police reports and using excessive force.
Dashcam video from January released by Click on Detroit last week shows officers in the Detroit suburb of Inkster pulling over 57-year-old Floyd Dent. Mere seconds after police approach the vehicle, an officer identified by the local news station as William Melendez begins punching Dent, as other officers use a Taser on him and kick him. Dent was hospitalized for several days.
The officers said Dent threatened to kill them, while Dent said he was being cooperative and it was the officers who made a threat.
Officers also said they found cocaine in Dent’s car, but he and his lawyer say the drugs weren’t his. They say they believe officers lied, pointing to a moment on the dashcam video that appears to show Melendez removing a baggie from his pocket as officers look through the vehicle.
The incident — which is currently under investigation — prompts questions about the officers’ conduct and possible department oversight, even more so when compared to allegations from others who’ve accused Melendez of wrongdoing.
Melendez is currently named in a lawsuit brought by Inkster resident Dashawn Acklin, who says seven officers entered his friend’s house in July 2011 while he was in the bathroom. When he exited, the officers allegedly told him to get on the ground where they handcuffed him. The lawsuit states that though Acklin was compliant, one officer choked him and beat him until he lost consciousness and another maced him. The suit says Acklin was subsequently hospitalized and never charged with a crime.
Melendez previously served as a Detroit police officer until he resigned in 2007. In 2003, more than a dozen officers were indicted on criminal charges for allegedly stealing drugs, guns and money from suspected drug dealers, as well as planting evidence and falsifying reports. Melendez, then known by the nickname “RoboCop,” was accused of being the ringleader. He was acquitted at trial in 2004.
Another notable example of the allegations against Melendez comes from resident Clifton White. In a 2004 lawsuit, White alleged that Melendez (with other officers) arrested him three times in 2001 and 2002, in each instance falsifying police reports to say he had drugs on him. The lawsuit also alleges Melendez repeatedly made threats and intimidating statements to White and his neighbors, one time telling White, “If I don’t get mine, I don’t play fair.” The lawsuit was settled.
Darell Chancellor also had a run-in with Melendez in 2002, according to a lawsuit he filed the following year. Chancellor says he was arrested and spent more than 200 days behind bars after Melendez planted a gun on him. The lawsuit alleges Melendez and other officers wrote false reports to back that up. When Chancellor complained that it was not his gun, he said Melendez warned him to “shut the F up before he put some dope on [him] too.” The charges against Chancellor were dismissed, and his lawsuit was settled.
The officer was also a defendant in two wrongful death lawsuits. In 1999, the city paid the family of Lou Adkins $1 million after Melendez and another officer fatally shot him during a traffic stop. In 2003, Melendez and several other officers allegedly entered Ernest Crutchfield’s home without permission or a warrant and fatally shot Crutchfield, who was unarmed and in his kitchen, three times. The lawsuit, since settled, claims officers then lied on police reports to cover up their conduct.
Melendez is also accused of misconduct in several additional lawsuits.
Dent, who has no criminal record, and his attorney say they believe race made him a target, according to the Detroit Free Press.
According to a Pew Research Center poll last year, only 17 percent of black respondents had great confidence that police treat people of both races equally, compared to 35 percent of whites. There’s a similar racial gap when it comes to whether someone thinks police will use excessive force on subjects.
While incidents of excessive force can cause a swarm of media attention, attorney David Robinson — who was a Detroit cop for more than a decade before leaving to practice law — told The Huffington Post many “slip under the radar,” in part because of a system that makes it challenging for citizens to report complaints. Still, he sees use of force cases constantly.
“The most poignant point you can make that things haven’t changed, [is] these incidents are caught and captured on recordings,” he said. “Police officers realize they’re being recorded, but they still do it. So excessive force is that bad of a problem.”
Robinson, who represented Crutchfield’s family and others who have made complaints against law enforcement, reviewed the video of police stopping and detaining Dent. “There’s no question that the officers’ actions were excessive,” he told HuffPost.
Michigan State Police are investigating the incident with the cooperation of the Inkster Police Department.
Dent was charged with drug possession and is due in court Wednesday for a hearing. A judge previously dismissed assault and resisting charges against him after viewing the dashcam video.
Inkster’s police chief did not return a request for comment.
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 recent police killings of numerous black men have sparked outrage and prompted nationwide responses from activists seeking to bring about change — and New Year’s Eve was no exception.
As revelers nationwide bid goodbye to 2014, protesters brought in the new year by rallying in major U.S. cities, proving that the fight to end police brutality against black lives will not vanish anytime soon.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered to coincide with the evening’s celebrations. While the protests were more subdued than those held in recent weeks, many continued to rally and spread awareness of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
About 100 protesters marched through New York City to Times Square on Wednesday evening where thousands were gathered to participate in the city’s popular New Year’s Eve celebration. However, police reportedly blocked protesters from entering crowded areas and demonstrators instead staged “die-ins” in nearby areas.
“Blow your whistle, raise your fist. We refuse to live life like this!” protesters chanted as they marched through the city.
In Boston, activists held a peaceful protest outside the Boston Public Library where dozens of people staged a “die-in” to speak out against the recent deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice and Ezell Ford — all of whom are black men who have lost their lives to police killings in the past year.
Never in recent history has the concern over police brutality and racial profiling been more prevalent than it was in 2014.
“There’s a lot of pressure for us not to do this but we thought it was a fundamental right that we have in this country,” one protest organizer, Brock Satter, told CBS Boston.
A small group of protesters gathered in Cleveland, Ohio, where 12-year-old Rice was shot and killed by a police officer in November. However, temperatures hit 20 degrees and the crowd reportedly began to disperse shortly before 11 p.m.
“No New Year under this old system. We can’t breathe,” signs read, a reference to Garner’s death.
Many of the night’s protests were organized by The Stop Mass Incarceration Network, which is a group committed to bringing an end to racial injustice in policing. The protests were planned to “Rock in the new year with resistance” as part of a collective effort to show the issues will not lose steam.
Earlier on Wednesday, about 75 protesters stormed police headquarters in St. Louis with an “eviction notice” and called for amnesty for protesters charged with non-violent crimes. Five people were arrested while several other protesters were pepper-sprayed on camera.
Meanwhile, signs posted on walls around the building read:
“We are informing you that the police department is scheduled to be reclaimed by its citizens today, December 31, 2014.” It was signed, “We the people.”