Posts Tagged ‘racial profiling’

A vigil for change

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 11:05 am by

ferrellProtesters gathered together in Charlotte, North Caroline to address the depressing reality of police brutality against people of color. A year ago, a police officer was charged with shooting and killing a 24 year old unarmed black man, Jonathon Ferrell.

Jonathon was a former A&M University football player who moved to Charlotte a year prior to be with his fiancée. At the time of his shooting, he was working two jobs and had high hopes of returning back to school to receive his automotive engineering degree. The night of September 14th, Jonathon had been seeking assistance for a car accident when he was violently targeted. A woman who had been home alone with her baby was frightened and did not understand why Ferrell was knocking at her door at such a late hour. Ferrell left to seek aid elsewhere and the woman called the police. In the end, instead of receiving help from a person of the law, he ended up dead from multiple gunshot wounds. This shooting had no cause. Not only did the woman who called the police say nothing about Ferrell being threatening but he also made no violent move toward Officer Randall Kerrick. (more…)

Grassroots success stories

Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 8:33 am by

raices en tampa

A Victory against ICE

On September 11, 2014, the people of Raices en Tampa came together to organize two actions that finally got the attention of Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. They came together to “Stop ICE Holds” of immigrants that had been placed without a judge’s consent or degree.

Two days after they began, the police department gave in and decided to changed their policy to require adequate evidence and support from a judge prior to imposing a hold. This is a great step in combating and reforming unruly immigration enforcement.  When local police officials partake in ICE detainers, they are given power that lacks them direct oversight from ICE. This allows for officials to to detain individuals illegally.

 

black lives matter#BlackLivesMatter

#BlackLivesMatter is a new a trending social media campaign.  On September 5, 2014, a rally was organized at the University of Virginia to support and uphold the idea behind this phrase – protesting the violence that is continually and unjustifiably pitted against African Americans.

The Black Student Alliance, students, faculty, staff and community members gathered to bring the much needed attention to the police brutality, racism and  “representations of blacks as athletes or criminals”. They marched together, reading poems and names of those who have been wrongfully killed. It was a peaceful protest but one that shows that Ferguson though be quieting down, the nation is not finished.

Black actress detained for kissing her White companion: is an end to racial profiling in sight?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 8:30 am by

Racialprofiling

Actress Daniele Watts was accused of prostitution this weekend after kissing her companion. A Los Angeles Police Officer assumed she was a prostitute because she, a Black woman, kissed her companion, a White man, in public. In the meantime, law enforcement agencies are still trying to figure out how and why Michael Brown was shot and killed. Even now, nearly six years after his inauguration, people still can’t stop talking about President Obama’s race.

Our society is fraught with racial tensions, bigotry and everything in between. What are our lawmakers doing to help? First introduced in 2001 by Sen. Russell Feingold (D. Wisc) and Rep. Jon Coners (D. Mich), the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) has been both popularized and unreasonably shot down in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010. So it is no surprise that in the wake of recent  tragedies that people are once more pushing for its passage. But will it finally come to be? Or will it once again succumb as a piece of legislation that is forever wanted but never actualized? (more…)

Don’t want to give police your name? You may be arrested.

Sunday, August 31, 2014 at 4:19 pm by

States_with_Stop_and_Identify_LawsVideo posted online on Tuesday depicts the arrest and TASERing of an unidentified black man in St. Paul, Minnesota for seemingly little reason other than his refusal to state his name, the Twin Cities Daily Planet reported.

“Why am I going to jail?” the man can be heard saying toward the end of the nearly 6-minute long clip.

“It’ll be explained to you,” a male officer responds.

The video, which seemed to have been taken on a cell phone this past winter, begins with a female officer walking beside the man and asking for his name.

“Why do I have to let you know who I am?” the man asks. “I don’t have to let you know who I am if I haven’t broken any laws.”

Unfortunately, in some states (though Minnesota is not even one of them), individuals may face arrest if they refuse to identify themselves to police officers, even if the officer has no reason to suspect that a crime has been or is being committed. So-called stop and identify statutes require an individual approached by police to give his or her name or face arrest.  Such statues are problematic.  First, stop and identify laws lend themselves to pretextual stops that may result in racial profiling.

Furthermore, no reasonable suspicion, much less probable cause, is required for arrest.  Indeed, if a police officer chooses to ask a person for his or her name, that person may be arrested for nothing more than refusing to give a name. This is both patently absurd and egregiously unconstitutional.

What can we do about it?

Know your rights: Is your state a stop and identify state?  Take a look at the map above and determine whether police in your state may legally require you to identify yourself (stop and identify states are colored in red).

Spread the word: Take the time to educate others, even if all you do is post blog post to your social media pages.  The more people know, the more prepared they are to assert their rights.

Contact us at info@bordc.org to learn how to get involved.

 

 

Targeting racial minorities in urban areas: ‘The Newburgh Sting’

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 10:29 am by

NEWBURGHSTINGposterOn May 20, 2009, four men from the impoverished and largely African-American city of Newburgh, NY, were apprehended for an alleged terror plot. They had no history of violence or terrorist ties, but had been drawn by a Pakistani FBI informant into a carefully orchestrated scheme to bomb Jewish synagogues in a wealthy New York City suburb and fire Stinger missiles at U.S. military supply planes. Their dramatic arrest, complete with armored cars, a SWAT team and FBI aircraft, played out under the gaze of major TV outlets, ultimately resulting in 25-year prison sentences for the “Newburgh Four.”

Amidst the media frenzy surrounding the case, political figures extolled the outcome as a victory in the “war on terror” and a “textbook example of how a major investigation should be conducted,” though others believed the four men were victims of FBI entrapment. The documentary The Newburgh Sting delves deeply into this case–one of many cases across the country where people have been allegedly drawn into a plot with extreme consequences.

This is an impressive film that deals with issues of racial profiling in a unique way. Watching this is a fantastic way to educate yourselves and others on issues regarding governmental overreach as it relates to racial profiling and targeting in this country. The Newburgh Sting is currently available on HBO.

Yet another black man is killed in Missouri

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 10:44 am by

After 11 days of protests after the police murder of Michael Brown, people are still in the streets.  Now they have another reason: A police officer shot and killed another black man, 25-year-old Kajieme Powell, this time in St. Louis City–fewer than three miles from the unrest in Ferguson. Right after noon yesterday, police say a man with a knife charged officers. Police are still trying to determine what happened and keep the peace.

A crowd former shortly after the 12:20 p, shooting, carrying signs and protesting. “Hands up! Don’t shoot! Hands up! Don’t shoot!” they chanted. According to police, Powell shoplifted energy drinks from a local market.  The second time he did this, police were called to the scene.  When police arrived, they say Powell charged the officers with a knife once.  The second time he charged, they say, they opened fire.

Witnesses on the scene gave reports. One witness said, “The store owner and the alderwoman said the suspect was armed with a knife, acting erratically, pacing back and forth in the street talking to himself.” Another witness reported Powell saying, “Kill me.” (more…)

Another black man shot by police

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 at 9:14 am by

michael-brown-shootingAnother young black man was shot and killed last Saturday.  Michael Brown, 18, was gunned down by a police officer on the afternoon of Saturday, August 9 in a St. Louis suburb. He was shot multiple times and killed by a Ferguson police officeroutside an apartment complex. Police say the shooting occurred after a struggle for the police officer’s gun.   But local residents aren’t so sure.

Having graduated from Normandy High School in St. Louis in the spring of 2014, Brown was scheduled to start classes at Vatterott College, a Missouri trade college, this past Monday, August 11.  On the day of his death, he was visiting his grandmother, who lives in Ferguson, MO, a working-class suburb of St. Louis.

When he was shot, Brown was unarmed.  Indeed,  all shell casings found at the scene were from the police officer’s gun. Furthermore, at least one shot was fired from the police car. Brown was killed while he was standing about 35 feet away from the car.

Shortly after the shooting, a crowd gathered on the scene.  Protests began and continued through Saturday afternoon.  Another protest at the Ferguson Police Department headquarters happened Saturday evening. The number of demonstrators varied—a CNN report says that there were up to a thousand protesters at the peak of the demonstrations, while other reports say there were about two hundred. Adding insult to injury, police shot into the crowd during Saturday afternoon’s protests.

(more…)

2 Chicago men arrested for participating in activism

Monday, August 11, 2014 at 9:55 am by

Stop_and_FriskKevin Tapia and Felipe Hernandez—young Latino men from Chicago’s southwest side—spent the weeks leading up to the Affordable Care Act’s enactment going door-to-door on behalf of their community, informing residents of the imminent changes laid out in the new law. They found jobs with Grassroots Collaborative and worked to make sure that the citizens of their local neighborhoods would be covered in time for the March 31 deadline.

With the law’s rollout less than a week away, Tapia and Hernandez’s efforts had brought them to Garfield Ridge—a predominately white neighborhood. There they were greeted by four police officers who stopped them, frisked them and charged them with unlawfully soliciting business. Though the Chicago Sun-Times initially reported that the police were responding to a local 911 call presuming Tapia and Hernandez’s work to be little more than an attempt to scam the elderly, Grassroots Collaborative have highlighted the incident as an obvious example of racial profiling.

The precedent for a legal framework regarding stop and frisks was established in 1968 via the United States Supreme Court’s seminal ruling in Terry v. Ohio. The Court’s decision indicated that—in the absence of probable cause for an arrest—the Fourth Amendment to the United State’ Constitution protects citizens from police interrogation and frisks unless the officer can outline a “reasonable articulable suspicion” for a stop and frisk.

Probable cause is often subjective but even the most seasoned prosecutor would be grasping at straws in arguing that these officers acted within their purview when they stopped, frisked and arrested Tapia and Hernandez. The officers were responding to a deeply speculative neighborhood call two young men were engaging in entirely nonviolent behavior. What basis they had for fearing Tapia and Hernandez were armed and dangerous wasn’t clear at the time and hasn’t become any clearer since. (more…)

BORDC joins ACLU brief challenging NYPD spying

Monday, July 14, 2014 at 12:57 pm by

Last Thursday, BORDC signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief submitted by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey in the case of Hassan, et al., v. City of New York, which challenges the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) surveillance of Muslims, mosques, and Muslim-owned businesses in New Jersey. The brief, which was submitted to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, explained that the lower court erred when it issued a decision in February dismissing the plaintiffs’ claims.

hassan

Other organizations on the brief included Latino Justice PRLDEF, the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Garden State Bar Association, the Hispanic Bar Association, and the Association of Black Women Lawyers of New Jersey.

“When a person presents evidence that a government agency has singled them out for harsher treatment because of their race, ethnicity or religion, the government bears a heavy burden of justifying its actions,” stated Rutgers Law School-Newark’s Acting Dean Ronald Chen, who is serving as the ACLU-NJ’s cooperating counsel in the case. “The plaintiffs deserve to have their day in court to challenge being profiled by the NYPD.” (more…)

The Court finally shows up for work (Part II)

Monday, June 30, 2014 at 8:12 am by

Part I of this series explained the Supreme Court’s decision in Riley v. California, and why it represents so dramatic an evolution from prior cases where the Court failed to grasp the implications of digital technology for the privacy values pervading the Bill of Rights. This follow-up post explains the social forces animating the decision, with crucial implications for any number of social issues going forward.

Where it came from: is the Court “in front,” or behind?

It remains important to recognize how a broader social debate made possible last week’s decision in Riley v. California. Only in examining the influence of mass debate on elite legal discourse can we understand how digital privacy — or other contested rights — will evolve in the future.

A long-running debate among legal theorists questions whether, and how, courts are influenced by broader public debates beyond the courtroom. On the one hand, courts are inherently reactive institutions.

On the other hand, courts have occasionally advanced justice while the political branches remain mired in majoritarian prejudice: in Brown vs Board, the Court — not Congress — forced desegregation on the South, just as Goodridge v. Dep’t of Public Health placed a Massachusetts court near the front of the marriage equality movement (disclosure: I was part of the legal team representing the mayor of new Paltz, NY in a 2004 marriage equality case).

Brown vs. Board is relevant not only in demonstrating an example of the Court’s occasional proactivity, but also in rejecting “separate but equal” systems for people of different races. Lost in most commentary about the Riley decision has been an awareness of its serious implications for race, which in turn help reveal whether Riley reflects a Court “out in front,” or instead, one lagging behind American society.

(more…)