By Sabal Trail Resistance for It’s Going Down. The story is still unfolding about a man, 66 year old James Leroy Marker, who lost his life to police bullets after an act of sabotage that disabled a section of Sabal Trail pipeline construction in Marion County last week, on February 26, 2017. We know that there will be more to say in the coming days or weeks, as family and friends come forward with stories of James’ life. But we felt a need to acknowledge what has happened while the incident is fresh on peoples’ minds and questions are surfacing around his motivations, the value of the actions he took and the response of law enforcement. First off, it must be noted that his action effectively disabled recent construction activity in a highly controversial area, mere miles from the crossing of preserves including Pruitt, Halpata Tastanaki and the Marjorie Carr Greenway, with sensitive wetlands and endangered species being impacted.
Staff for #RememberTrayvon. The murder of Trayvon Martin was the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement that accelerated with the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and has grown with the deaths of so many other blacks at the hands of police. Here are several campaigns to remember Trayvon: #TrayvonTaughtMe digital toolkit and campaign:The #TrayvonTaughtMe digital campaign highlights the beginnings of the Black Lives Matter movement, and how Trayvon’s extrajudicial murder and his family’s commitment to ending gun violence and strengthening communities catalyzed a generation of organizers and activists to take action for Black lives. #OurSonTrayvon campaign: In collaboration with Gbenga Akkinagbe, founder of Liberated People, and activist-writer Michaela Angela Davis, BLM is supporting the launch of the #OurSonTrayvon campaign, whose goal is to create a sustainable movement humanizing Black children in the collective imagination. #DearTrayvonsMom letter writing campaign: is soliciting love letters to Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother and #TalkAboutTrayvon digital toolkit and campaign: seeks to launch a conversation among white people about the conditions that led to the extrajudicial murder of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of George Zimmerman.
By Juliet Linderman and Eric Tucker for Associated Press. Vanita Gupta, the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, said the agreement will make the city safer for everyone, including officers. “The city and BPD will implement comprehensive reforms to end the legacy of Baltimore’s zero-tolerance policing,” she said. “And in its place, Baltimore is empowering officers to engage in proactive, community-oriented policing.” The Justice Department agreement mandates changes in the most fundamental aspects of police work. Known as a consent decree, it is the culmination of months of negotiations and is meant to correct constitutional violations identified in the report released last year.
By Simon Moya-Smith for Indian Country Media Network. The number of Native Americans killed by police nearly doubled in 2016 compared to the previous year, according to reports. Last year, an estimated 21 Native Americans were killed by law enforcement. In 2015, police killed 13 Native Americans, The Counted, a tabulation of all police killings in the U.S., revealed. A 2014 study by The Center of Juvenile and Criminal Justice reported that, per capita, Native Americans are more likely to be killed by police than any other demographic in the U.S.
By Adeshina Emmanuel for In These Times. President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Senator Jeff Sessions (R – AL), a longtime ally, to become his attorney general. Sessions is known as an immigration hard-liner with an alleged history of racist remarks and actions, sparking fears that his confirmation could mean major changes at the Department of Justice (DOJ)—especially as it relates to communities of color. “I would hope the folks who have been activists around police reform, who have built an important and effective movement, will see this as a moment where that movement needs to get bigger,” says Jonathan Smith, former DOJ official. Activists concur, but not just because of the potential shifts in the DOJ. Master notes that Trump’s presidency has emboldened proponents of white supremacy, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia and anti-Muslim sentiments in the U.S. She says that means activists from marginalized groups have to change their approach, bolster their bases and collaborate more with one another. “Trump’s regime … doesn’t stop our work,” says Samantha Miller, a Baltimore area organizer.. “It makes it more pressing.”
By Erica Snipes-Garner for Alternet. NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo killed my father, Eric B. Garner, on July 17, 2014. The idea that Pantaleo receives a substantial increase in pay after murdering my father and no one noticed is silly. Someone knew about this. This was Mayor Bill de Blasio’s bonus for a job well done and de Blasio has put his political future on the line to defend this corrupt institution. This underscores why we need transparency, the Right To Know Act, and a permanent special prosecutor. This also underscores why de Blasio is fighting tooth and nail to hide the disciplinary records of this killer cop on payroll. He already knows what we do not. As long as police officers like Daniel Pantaleo and Michael Zak are on the force and reporting to work in the 120th precinct and getting bonuses for corruption, we can never be serious about healing and building relationships with the community.
By Carimah Townes for Think Progress – The last time Beverly Smith had a full conversation with her son, Alonzo, was October 30, 2015. It was a Friday, and even though the weekend had just begun, he was thrilled about the upcoming week. The 27-year-old, who worked with special needs students, had booked several gigs as a part-time portrait model. When she received the news, Beverly couldn’t have known it would be the last time she’d share a joyful moment with her youngest child.
By Sebastian Murdock for Huffington Post. Chicago police on Friday released video that shows the moments right before they fatally shot an unarmed black teen last week. Paul O’Neal, 18, was shot in the back while fleeing from officers last Thursday night after allegedly stealing a Jaguar in the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook. Body camera footage released Friday shows an officer firing rounds into the vehicle as it swiped cop cars. Officers can be seen then giving chase to O’Neal on foot. The teen hopped a fence into a residential back yard, where he was shot multiple times in the back. Police said the officer who killed O’Neal did not have a working body camera, according to ABC 7. “Bitch-ass motherfucker,” an officer can be heard saying as he delivers a kick to O’Neal, who lies motionless on the ground. Other officers yell at the teen to put his hands behind his back. “They shot at us too, right?” an officer can be heard asking. O’Neal did not have a gun on him.
By Joshua Serrano for Other Worlds – Philando Castile and Alton Sterling became the latest black Americans to turn into Twitter hashtags when videos of their deaths at the hands of police circulated on social media. But I couldn’t bring myself to watch them. I still remember the helpless frustration I felt, my stomach twisting in knots, as I watched the video of Eric Garner being choked to death while screaming “I can’t breathe.”
By Samuel Sinyangwe for Medium. This week, a new study reported by the New York Times made waves in the ongoing national discourse on race and policing. “Surprising New Evidence Shows Bias in Police Use of Force but Not in Shootings,” the headline read. The study’s most striking — and most reported — finding was that officers were about 24% less likely to shoot at black people compared to whites in what the researcher defined as similar situations. Upon further inspection, there are a number of issues that call this finding into question. First, this headline-grabbing result is based on data from one police department — Houston. That means that the most audacious conclusion this study can hope to offer is that racial bias may not explain shootings by Houston police. But even that conclusion is suspect. First, it’s clear in looking at the data that Houston police department uses deadly force against black people at significantly higher rates than their white counterparts. For example, since 2013, 57% of people killed by Houston police have been black despite black people comprising only 25% of Houston’s population.
By Mercy Yang for Reader Supported News. As the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling at the hands of police officers stir up national debate on law enforcement practices, a new database unveils hundreds of Chicago Police Department misconduct lawsuit settlements between 2012 and 2015 ― costing a whopping $210 million in total and revealing yet another financial burden on taxpayers. “Settling for Misconduct,” an extensive database from The Chicago Reporter published this week, highlights allegations of Chicago’s excessive policing methods, ranging from false arrest to unwarranted killing, particularly in Latino and black communities, leading to 655 settlements in four years. Multimillion-dollar police misconduct settlements, such as the one stemming from the killing of Chicago teenager Laquan McDonald, tend to garner national attention. But the database reveals that the City of Chicago pays much smaller sums of money to plaintiffs on an average of every other day. The average payment was just $36,000.
By Kevin Zeese for Popular Resistance. The Afromation protest in Baltimore stood up for black life and the importance of black culutre in the face of ongoing killings. To understand the reasons for protests in Baltimore and across the nation, we must look at the “race-based trauma” caused by police killings. As we prepared to march, I was talking with two of our colleagues. They described how it felt to be an African American man and see video of people who look like them being killed by police for no reason. It creates a trauma that requires them to act in order to stop it. The demands of the Afromation protests are reasonable: 1. An all-elected civilain complaint review board to give communities control of the police and self-determination; 2. A ten percent cut in the police budget away from militarization of the police and surveillance of the community with the funds used for community programming.
By Chris Steele for Popular Resistance. Denver Black Lives Matter protest July 2016. Photo by Chris Steele. Protesters block Lincoln Street in front of Colorado State Capitol. Photo by Chris Steele. At least a dozen protesters have been camped out in front of the Denver City and County Building Since July 7, 2016. Along with the camp out, on July 7, an estimated 200 protesters took to the streets of downtown Denver shutting down intersections in a solidarity rally with Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter 5280 (BLM) says they will be camped out in front of the Denver and City County Building for 135 hours, one for each African American killed by police this year, which is now up to 138 since their statement.
By Redditt Hudson for Vox. On any given day, in any police department in the nation, 15 percent of officers will do the right thing no matter what is happening. Fifteen percent of officers will abuse their authority at every opportunity. The remaining 70 percent could go either way depending on whom they are working with. That’s a theory from my friend K.L. Williams, who has trained thousands of officers around the country in use of force. Based on what I experienced as a black man serving in the St. Louis Police Department for five years, I agree with him. I worked with men and women who became cops for all the right reasons — they really wanted to help make their communities better. And I worked with people like the president of my police academy class, who sent out an email after President Obama won the 2008 election that included the statement, “I can’t believe I live in a country full of ni**er lovers!!!!!!!!” He patrolled the streets in St. Louis in a number of black communities with the authority to act under the color of law.