The Body Count Rises In The U.S. War Against Black People

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By Ajamu Baraka for Counter Punch – Again, there is anger, confusion and calls for justice from the black community of Seattle, where the latest killing took place. Many might remember that it was in Seattle where two members of the local black community attempted to call out the racist and hypocritical liberal white community during a visit by Bernie Sanders. The black activists were subsequently shouted down by a majority of Bernie’s supporters. One of the issues that the activists wanted to raise was the repressive, heavy-handed tactics of the Seattle Police Department. Some have argued that this rash of killings of black people caught on video or reported by dozens of witnesses is nothing new, that the images of police chocking, shooting and beating poor black and working-class people is now more visible because of technological innovations that make it easier to capture these images. They are partially right. As an internal colony in what some refer to as a prison house of nations that characterizes the U.S. nation state, black communities are separated into enclaves of economic exploitation and social degradation by visible and often invisible social and economic processes.

Philando Castile’s Killer Acquitted Despite Forensics That Contradicted His Case

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By Jeremy Stahl for Slate – Philando Castile’s killer, police officer Jeromino Yanez, was acquitted of manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm on Friday. The case of Castile’s shooting last July in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota had sparked mass protests after his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds posted a dramatic and wrenching video of the shooting’s aftermath. The video, taken with Reynolds’ 4-year-old daughter in the car, included footage of Castile lying in a puddle of blood after he was struck five times from seven shots. Castile had informed the officer that he was carrying a firearm, for which he had a permit. Shortly thereafter, Yanez opened fire. In his opening statement, Yanez’s defense attorney claimed that Castile was holding his gun when he was shot. “He has his hand on the gun,” Engh reportedly said during opening arguments. “The next command is, ‘Don’t pull it out.’ … [Yanez] can’t retreat … But for Mr. Castile’s continuous grip on the handgun, we would not be here.” The prosecution argued that the 32-year-old school cafeteria supervisor with no violent criminal record was reaching for his driver’s license—as Yanez had instructed—and not his gun when he was shot.

Lawsuit, Citing ‘Thin Blue Line,’ Seeks Federal Court Oversight Of CPD

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By Jon Seidel, Fran Spielman and Mitch Dudek for Chicago Sun Times – Accusing Mayor Rahm Emanuel of trying to cut a “back-room deal” with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, lawyers for Black Lives Matter Chicago and other community groups filed a class-action lawsuit Wednesday seeking federal oversight of the city’s police department. The 132-page complaint immediately blew up the debate over police reform in Chicago. It may force City Hall to the negotiating table after the mayor tried to abandon the idea of a federal monitor. Or, it may lead to a lengthy court battle. Six individuals and seven community groups are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was brought on behalf of people who “have been, or in the future will be, subjected to use of force by the CPD.” It also targets 15 police officers, as well as the city. “CPD officers abide by an ingrained code of silence and ‘warrior mentality’ wholly disconnected from the policies that exist on the books,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers wrote in the complaint. “The ‘thin blue line’ reigns supreme. The city of Chicago has proven time and time again that it is incapable of ending its own regime of terror, brutality and discriminatory policing.”

Cleveland Fires Officer Who Killed Tamir Rice

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Children protest Tamir Rice’s death in New York City in November 2015. Cleveland announced a $6 million settlement with Tamir’s family on April 25, 2016.

By German Lopez for Vox – On November 22, 2014, Tamir Rice was throwing snowballs and playing with a toy pellet gun in a Cleveland park when a police car rolled into the snowy field. Within two seconds of getting out of his squad car, officer Timothy Loehmann shot and killed the 12-year-old. Two and a half years later, the Cleveland police department fired Loehmann, Mike Hayes reported for BuzzFeed on Tuesday. But the termination is not solely due to the shooting, but rather as a result of Loehmann “providing false information” when he applied to the department several years ago. Loehmann could still appeal the firing through his union. Meanwhile, the officer who drove Loehmann to Rice, Frank Garmback, is suspended for 10 days and will get additional training. Last year, the city of Cleveland announced it would pay the Rice family $6 million in a lawsuit settlement over the shooting. Before that, former Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty announced that there would be no criminal charges filed against the officers involved — arguing that while there was miscommunication between a 911 dispatcher and the officers, there wasn’t enough evidence to suggest that the cops had cleared the very high bar for criminal charges in police shooting cases.

Police Officer Fired After Kicking Handcuffed Man In Face

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By Andrew Emett for Nation of Change – Captured on cellphone video running towards a handcuffed man on the ground and kicking him in the face without provocation, a Georgia police officer was immediately fired on Thursday after his supervisors viewed the footage. According to the arrest report, both officers at the scene failed to include the unnecessary use of force in their version of events. Around 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Gwinnett County Police Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni reportedly noticed a car changing lanes without using a turn signal and missing a license plate. While conducting a routine traffic stop, Sgt. Bongiovanni called for backup after smelling marijuana and recognizing the driver of the vehicle from a previous arrest in August. According to Bongiovanni’s incident report, he ordered Demetrius Hollins out of the car when the suspect became belligerent and attempted to push away from him. Stuck in traffic, a bystander recorded the arrest on his cellphone as Bongiovanni used a Taser to take Hollins to the ground.

North Miami Police Officer Charged In Shooting Of Charles Kinsey

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By Amanda Batchelor for ABC News – Cellphone video shows Charles Kinsey lying on his back in July 18, 2016, with his hands in the air in the area of Northeast 14th Avenue and Northeast 127th Street. Sitting next to him was an autistic man holding a toy truck. Police said they were called to the area about a man who was walking around with a gun and threatening to commit suicide. Sivano Hernandez, who recorded the shooting, told Local 10 News that Kinsey was being submissive and trying to calm down the autistic man, identified as Arnaldo Rios, who was holding a toy truck. “Before police even showed up he laid down with his hands up,” Hernandez said. “Everybody at this point thought that the little toy (truck) was actually a gun because it looked silver and shiny.” In the video of the incident, Kinsey is heard telling officers that he is unarmed. Authorities said Aledda was behind a car 152 feet away when he shot Kinsey.

Two Years After Sandra Bland, Justice For Wakiesha Wilson

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By Sikivu Hutchinson for The Feminist Wire – In July 2015, African American activist Sandra Bland died in police custody after challenging a white officer who stopped her for an alleged lane change violation. Bland’s death generated national exposure for the high rate of suspicious police custody deaths among African Americans (Bland was one of five black female policy custody deaths that July). Like Bland, the majority of black women who die in police custody have been detained for minor, non-violent offenses. Nationwide, one in nineteen black women will be incarcerated during their lifetimes for nonviolent offenses—four times the rate of white women—placing them at even greater risk of being re-victimized in prison.

Tear Gas, Bottles Fly As Paris Police & Anti-Brutality Protesters Clash For 3rd Night

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By Charlotte Dubenskij for Russia Today. Paris, France – Hundreds of protesters have gathered in front of police station in Paris for the 3rd consecutive night to vent their anger over the killing of a middle-aged Chinese man over the weekend. Tensions quickly escalated into clashes with police again firing tear gas in an attempt to disperse the angry crowd. RT’s correspondent at the scene, Charlotte Dubenskij, reports that police used tear gas to break pockets of protesters as the crowd continues to shout “Police assassins!” Paris, France – Hundreds of protesters have gathered in front of police station in Paris for the 3rd consecutive night to vent their anger over the killing of a middle-aged Chinese man over the weekend. Tensions quickly escalated into clashes with police again firing tear gas in an attempt to disperse the angry crowd. RT’s correspondent at the scene, Charlotte Dubenskij, reports that police used tear gas to break pockets of protesters as the crowd continues to shout “Police assassins!” “We’ve been seeing bottles thrown. We’ve got tear gas flown, pepper spray. I actually had it right in my face, we’ve been sort of with the crowd as it’s moving,” Dubenskij said.

Police Killings In The US Continue To Rise

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By Rachael Revesz for Independent – More people have died at the hands of law enforcement in the US so far this year than during the same period in 2016, casting a dark shadow over the Donald Trump administration as it invests more power in the police. By 19 March this year, 271 people have already been killed by police, compared with 262 people by the same date in 2016, according to a database called Killedbypolice.net. There were fewer deaths (255) in 2015 and even fewer (209) in 2014 by the same point. The rising numbers do little to reassure critics of Donald Trump, who signed an executive order in February to invest more power in the police and who has all but scrapped the former Justice Department’s investigation into law enforcement violence around the US.

Disturbing Secret History Of NYPD Officer Who Killed Eric Garner

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By Jack Jenkins and Carimah Townes for Think Progress – On July 17, 2014, NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo wrapped his arms around Eric Garner’s neck and squeezed. He held tight as his colleagues slammed Garner, 43 years old and asthmatic, to the ground. Garner, who was unarmed at the time, gasped for air, arm outstretched, saying “I can’t breathe” over and over as officers piled on top of him. Then he was silent. The next day, when the New York Daily News released video of the encounter, Garner had already died from neck and chest compression. His death sparked national protests about police violence against the black community, and his final words, “I can’t breathe,” became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement.

New Charges In Laquan McDonald Shooting Case

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By Andy Grimm for Chicago Sun Times – Prosecutors on Thursday tacked on 16 new counts to the first-degree murder charges against Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke in the shooting of Laquan McDonald. A new indictment handed up by a grand jury last week adds the 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, apparently one for each shot Van Dyke fired at McDonald, special prosecutor Joseph McMahon said in a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse. The new indictment, returned on March 16, still includes the six counts of first-degree murder and one count of official misconduct that were charged in November 2015, when the case was being handled by former State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.

Jury Awards $10 Million To Family Of Man Left On Jail Cell Naked With Broken Neck

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By Jessica Remer for ABC Tulsa – TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) — Jurors have awarded the family of Elliott Williams more than $10 million after a wrongful death lawsuit against the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office. Williams died in the Tulsa County Jail in 2011. Lawyers for Williams’ family argued the sheriff’s department violated his civil rights when deputies left him on the jail floor with a broken neck. After a three-week trial, jurors found in favor of Williams’ family, awarding them $10 million from Tulsa County and another $250,000 from former Sheriff Stanley Glanz. The family’s attorney, Dan Smolen, says finding the jail responsible for Williams’ death was the only conclusion a jury could reach.

Chile’s Indigenous Mapuche Protest Deadly Police Brutality

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By Staff of Tele Sur – Chile’s Mapuche, who make up roughly 10 percent of its population, are more likely to be killed by police than non-Mapuche people. Dozens of Chile’s Indigenous Mapuche protested police terror in Temuco on Friday, calling on law enforcement to stop violence against their youth. The protest was organized by the parents of Brandon Hernandez, a 17-year-old Mapuche student who was shot by police last December during an anti-government demonstration. Chilean police sergeant Cristian Rivera shot Brandon in the back with a shotgun, leaving the teenager in critical condition.

Protests Begin After Off-Duty LAPD Officer Fires His Weapon During Altercation

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By Megan Reynolds for Jezebel – Hundreds of protestors filled the streets Wednesday night in Anaheim after an off-duty LAPD officer fired his weapon during a confrontation with a 13-year old boy Tuesday. KTLA reports that the incident occurred Tuesday afternoon and “began over ongoing issues with juveniles walking across the officer’s property,” according to a statement from the Anaheim police. The boy in question “is alleged to have threatened to shoot the off-duty officer,” but as KTLA notes, that is disputed in the cell phone footage of the incident as well as by the parents of the boy in question. KTLA first published a story about the incident Tuesday night, which led to the boy’s family contacting the police with their side of the story. The footage, shot in broad daylight, shows the officer holding the boy by the sweatshirt as a group of teens gather to watch. “They’re grabbing a minor,” a girl says, as the boy in question protests.

Trump Puts Black Lives Matter On Notice

Protesters in Charlotte, North Carolina, in September after the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.
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By Leon Neyfakh for Slate – The new White House website went live following Donald Trump’s inauguration Friday, and it contained a bracing message implicitly directed to supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement: Your kind is not welcome in Trump’s America. “The Trump Administration will be a law and order administration,” reads a page on the website titled “Standing Up for Our Law Enforcement Community.” It continues: “President Trump will honor our men and women in uniform and will support their mission of protecting the public. The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it.”