Tag Archives: civil rights

Officer convicted in killing of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards — a rare outcome in police shootings

A former police officer in Texas has been found guilty of murder in the high-profile shooting death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards — a rare victory for civil rights activists seeking justice for the dozens of unarmed African American men and boys who have been killed by police officers in recent years.

As Judge Brandon Birmingham read the verdict Tuesday against Roy Oliver, who worked in the Dallas suburb of Balch Springs, sobs came from the gallery of the packed courtroom. The last time an on-duty police officer in Dallas County was convicted of murder was in 1973. Oliver could be sentenced to life in prison.

“I’m just so thankful,” Jordan’s father, Odell Edwards, told reporters. “Thankful, thankful.”

Daryl Washington, an attorney representing the family, said the verdict meant more than justice for Jordan.

“It’s about Tamir Rice. It’s about Walter Scott. It’s about Alton Sterling,” he said, naming victims of police shootings in recent years. “It’s about every, every African American, unarmed African American, who has been killed and who has not gotten justice.”

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted a link to a news story about the conviction, saying that Jordan’s “life should never have been lost.”

On the night of April 29, 2017, Oliver fired an MC5 rifle into a Chevrolet Impala carrying Jordan and two of his brothers as it pulled away from a high school house party. Jordan, who was struck in the head, died later at a hospital.

Police initially said the vehicle had backed up toward Oliver “in an aggressive manner,” but body camera video showed the car was moving away from him and his partner. Days after the shooting, Oliver, who had served in the department for six years, was fired.

Jordan’s stepbrother, Vidal Allen, was driving the car the night of the shooting.

“I was very scared,” Allen testified. “I just wanted to get home and get everyone safe.”

Oliver, 38, has said he feared for his life and his partner’s safety.

“I had to make a decision. This car is about to hit my partner,” Oliver testified in the trial. “I had no other option.”

After a weeklong trial, it took the jury one day to reach a verdict.

Jordan’s death echoes other police shootings involving black boys and men. But no convictions were handed down in most of those cases.

In November 2014, Cleveland police got a 911 call about someone brandishing a pistol near a park — the weapon, the caller said, was “probably fake.” But in an incident captured on camera, a police cruiser pulled into the park and Officer Timothy Loehmann jumped out and opened fire. Within seconds, 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who had a toy gun, was dead.

Even before Tamir’s death, the U.S. Department of Justice had been investigating the Cleveland Police Department. A month after his shooting, it released a report saying Cleveland police displayed a pattern of using unnecessary force.

A year later, a grand jury decided not to indict Loehmann in Tamir’s death, saying he had reason to fear for his life.

In September 2016, in Columbus, Ohio, police shot and killed Tyre King, 13, who was carrying a BB gun while running from police. A grand jury declined to file criminal charges against the officer who killed him.

And in May 2017, an Oklahoma jury acquitted an officer who shot and killed Terence Crutcher, 40, as he stood with his hands above his head along a rural highway.

Those cases and others illustrate the difficulty of convicting police officers. The law in most places gives them the benefit of the doubt.

Prosecutors usually must show that an officer knowingly and intentionally killed without justification or provocation. A fear of harm has been successfully used as the justification for many shootings, even when the victim turned out to be unarmed.

The most recent case that ended in a conviction came last year when Michael Slager, a former officer in North Charleston, S.C., was first tried on murder charges in the April 2015 shooting of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man who was stopped for a driving with a broken taillight. But after those proceedings ended in a mistrial, Slager pleaded guilty to a civil rights violation and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The last Dallas County police officer convicted for murder while on duty was Darrell Cain, who shot and killed 12-year-old Santos Rodriguez after forcing him to endure a version of Russian roulette while handcuffed inside a patrol car.

There was no immediate reaction to Thursday’s verdict from local or national police groups.

John Fullinwider, a longtime Dallas activist and co-founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality, said Oliver’s conviction came as a surprise.

“I expected to see an angel fly over City Hall before I saw this murder conviction,” he said. “This is a victory, but we really need independent federal prosecutors in all fatal police shootings.”

Lee Merritt, a civil rights attorney who represents the Edwards family, said the conviction was justice for the country.

“We’ve seen time and time again, no charges, let alone convictions, in these high-profile shootings,” he said. “It is my hope that this is a turning point in the fight against police brutality against blacks.”

SOURCE

Advertisements

Hugh Hefner Passes Away at 91

Iconic Playboy founder Hugh Hefner has passed away at the age of 91. A statement from Playboy Enterprises revealed that Hefner died of natural causes.

Hugh Hefner Passes Away at 91

Hefner’s son Cooper, who is Playboy Enterprises’ chief creative officer, released a statement reading, “My father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom. He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognizable and enduring in history.”

Hugh Hefner Passes Away at 91

Hefner was survived by his wife, Crystal, his sons, Cooper, David and Marston, and his daughter.

Police Put on Leave after Arresting Nurse

A Salt Lake City police officer has been put on paid leave after he was filmed arresting and roughing up a nurse at a hospital for refusing to allow blood to be drawn from an unconscious patient.

Nurse Alex Wubbels said she was frightened when the police officer handcuffed and dragged her screaming from the hospital in July.

After Wubbels and her lawyers released the dramatic footage of the arrest in the state of Utah, prosecutors called for a criminal investigation and Salt Lake City police put Detective Jeff Payne on paid leave on Friday.

In a tweet, the police department said another “employee” who was involved was also on administrative leave pending investigation.

“This cop bullied me. He bullied me to the utmost extreme,” Wubbels said in an interview with The Associated Press news agency. “And nobody stood in his way.”

The Salt Lake City police chief and mayor apologised and changed department policies in line with the guidance Wubbels was following in the July 26 incident.

Wubbels said she adhered to her training and hospital protocols to protect the rights of a patient who could not speak for himself.

The video has gone viral, with many on social media once again raising questions about police brutality in the United States.

Payne wrote in a police report that he grabbed Wubbels and took her outside to avoid causing a “scene” in the emergency room.

He said his boss, a lieutenant whose actions also were being reviewed, told him to arrest Wubbels if she kept interfering.

The detective left Wubbels in a police car for 20 minutes before realising that blood had already been drawn as part of treatment, said her lawyer, Karra Porter. Wubbels was not charged.

The hospital said it is proud of the way Wubbels handled the situation.

The patient was a victim in a car crash and Payne wanted the blood sample to show he had done nothing wrong, according to the officer’s written report.

The patient, William Gray, is a reserve police officer in Rigby, Idaho, according to the city’s police. They thanked Wubbels for protecting his rights.

Gray is a semi-truck driver and was on the road when a pick-up truck fleeing from authorities slammed into him and his truck burst into flames, police reports say.

SOURCE

Heyer’s Mom “not talking” to Trump

Mother of Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer revealed on Friday morning she is “not talking” to President Trump after he criticized “two sides” for the violent protests that broke out in Virginia last Saturday.

Thirty-two-year-old Heyer was killed last Saturday when a car plowed into a group of counterprotesters opposing the “Unite the Right” rally. Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, strayed from directly speaking to Trump’s rhetoric in response to Saturday’s events during her memorial service on Wednesday, but did not hold back during a Friday morning appearance on “Good Morning America.”

“I’m not talking to the President now,” Bro said on Friday. “I’m sorry. After what he said about my child, and it’s not that I saw somebody else’s tweets about him. I saw an actual clip of him at a press conference equating the protesters like Ms. (Heather) Heyer with the KKK and the white supremacists.”

Trump tweeted about Heyer on the day of her memorial service, referring to her as a “truly special young woman.”

“Memorial service today for beautiful and incredible Heather Heyer, a truly special young woman,” Trump tweeted. “She will be long remembered by all!”

Trump opened himself up to criticism when he repeated his “both sides” response to Charlottesville during a Tuesday press conference — a statement that was met with rebuke from Democrats and Republicans alike. While he tweeted about Heyer on Wednesday, the president was criticized for not directly calling the family — but Bro revealed there has been attempted and successful engagement between her and the White House.

“At first I just missed his calls. The call — the first call looked like actually came during the funeral. I didn’t even see that message,” Bro said. “There were three more frantic messages from press secretaries throughout the day and I didn’t know why that would have been on Wednesday, and I was home recovering from the exhaustion of the funeral and, so I thought well, I’ll get to him later and then I had more meetings to establish her foundation, so I hadn’t really watched the news until last night.”

James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio has been charged with second-degree murder in the case of Heyer’s death.

SOURCE: AOL

Inside the Women’s March & History in the Making

Donald Trump hammered home in his inaugural address outside the Capitol building Friday the promise he had sewn onto so many red ballcaps: that he would Make America Great Again. In the same spot the following day, protesters with far less nostalgia for America’s past – women who lived through the Civil Rights movement, who came of age in an era when abortion was criminalized, who have vivid memories of a time when gay men and women were regularly victimized – have gathered to say, We are not going back. 

gty-womens-march-washington-4-jt-170121_12x5_1600

An estimated 500,000 marchers – more than double the crowd that showed up to watch Trump’s swearing-in – are squeezed onto the National Mall with their families and their hand-drawn signs and their pink knit caps, waiting for their turn to talk at the Women’s March on Washington.

They self-describe as “nasty,” but for the most part the marchers are good: they don’t push, they carry their possessions in translucent bags, as requested, and their posters don’t have poles or sticks or stakes. Some are frustrated to see the evangelical Christians who are parked in the middle of the Mall hoisting signs that read “Attention Rebellious Jezebels” and “Abortion Is Murder” with strictly verboten metal poles.

devin-yalkin-womens-march-01-4bceb7e8-a807-49f4-baa8-320fa929ab2f

It isn’t fair, but add it to the fucking list: Hillary Clinton earned three million more votes than Donald Trump and still lost the presidency. Women earn 80 cents on the dollar compared to men – women of color even less. They have only 19 percent representation in Congress.

As they’ve proven by turning out in record numbers all over the U.S. and the world Saturday, women are tired of double standards. So they surround the anti-abortion protesters and chant, “My body, my choice!” and “Love trumps hate!” loud enough to drown out the bullhorn.

A teenage boy leans out from the Newseum’s second-floor balcony, waving and kissing his star-spangled Make America Great Again hat and hollering, “Jesus loves you! Donald Trump loves you!” as the march sweeps down Pennsylvania Avenue. The marchers channel Michelle Obama, drowning him out with chants of, “When they go low, we go high!”

170121143229-womens-march-london-0121-exlarge-169

For the millions of men and women pouring into the streets around the world Saturday, the march is a show of force, proof that for however many people are happy about Donald Trump’s inauguration – and that number is far smaller than he or his press secretary would have us believe – many more are unhappy. Across the country, and in countries around the globe, people are showing up to drown Trump out.

Just past the Newseum, four women – ages 57, 66, 77 and 79 – are sitting on a bench, watching as a line of police vans cuts through the protesters. One of the women, Roberta Safer, explains why they drove together from Maryland for the march. “I demonstrated in 1957 for Civil Rights,” she says. “It’s still the same problems, and Donald Trump’s cabinet picks are going to reverse many of the things that we’ve had. … It just upsets me to see us go backwards.”

Her friend Rosanna Mason has similar concerns. “My wife, before she died, was a teacher. I’m getting texts constantly from her students: ‘What about me, what about me? Am I going to be deported? Are they going to send me to [conversion] therapy?’ A lot of people are scared.” She says she tells them the only thing she can: that she remembers how she coped as a lesbian before gay rights were mainstream. “I remember back in the Seventies, I remember the Eighties, the violence. I tell them to hold on to your friends. … because when we all do it together, we’ll be stronger.”

devin-yalkin-womens-march-04-cd74913b-8dfb-423e-8c7f-b1eb9378dc76

The Bikers for Trump have set up a counter-protest in support of the new president at a park on Pennsylvania Avenue. There aren’t more than 20 Trump supporters there, but they have a stage equipped with speakers blasting Lee Greenwood, Toby Keith and Kid Rock at an unreasonable volume. At one point, the group’s head, Chris Cox, gets onstage and tells the marchers, “On November 8th, America voted, and it voted for Donald Trump.”

“Three million votes! Three million votes!” they chant back.

Off to one side, 31-year-old Courtney Miller is holding a sign that reads, “Sorry. Were my civil rights getting the way of your privilege?” She asks a man in a Confederate hat why he still wears it even though the South lost. He retorts by asking her why she has black pride – her people lost too, he says. For ten minutes, he tries (and fails) to defend an indefensible point, while she maintains her composure, trying, maybe in vain, to reason with him.

“You never get anything accomplished by fighting, by yelling and screaming. We’re not going to get our points across. We might leave here today and agree to disagree, but maybe I said something that will make him think,” Miller says after the interaction. “I’m standing here because my grandparents had to do this. Now I have to do this. I’m hoping my kids don’t have to do this. We’re marching for the same things, and I’m getting tired.”

SOURCE: RS

Russell Simmons Offers Brandon Marshall Endorsement Deal

NFL linebacker Brandon Marshall has found a supporter who can offer him more than his sympathies, following reports that a second Marshall sponsor has pulled its endorsement in response to his recent protest of the National Anthem.

Russell Simmons Offers Brandon Marshall Endorsement Deal

Music mogul Russell Simmons took to Instagram upon learning the news on Tuesday [September 13], and extended Marshall an opportunity to recoup some of his lost bucks while he continues to stand for what he believes in.

Russell Simmons Offers Brandon Marshall Endorsement Deal

“Which other company is supporting Brandon? It says two endorsements,” Simmons asked followers, before jumping the gun on a possible partnership. “RUSHCARD is in. We will find Brandon and make him an offer and make him a deal.”

Russell Simmons Offers Brandon Marshall Endorsement Deal

Marshall is one of the players who has followed Colin Kaepernick‘s lead in bringing a call for the nation to address racial injustice, to the NFL in 2016. In fact, while Kaepernick sparked the movement back in August, Marshall was the first to abstain from observing the anthem during the regular season, rallying various players around the league to continue joining after he took a knee during the star-spangled banner before the year’s inaugural game against the Carolina Panthers on Thursday.

Russell Simmons Offers Brandon Marshall Endorsement Deal

Within 24 hours of staging his dissent, Marshall’s partnership with Air Academy Federal Credit Union was severed. On Monday came news of another voided endorsement, when CenturyLink announced it’s parting from Marshall. Interestingly enough, CenturyLink is the sponsor of CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks themselves have had an overt presence among the league’s protesters, demonstrating with interlocked arms during pre-game ceremonies on Sunday. There has been no word as to whether CenturyLink plans on punishing the Seattle team, but the company’s maneuver could none the less spell out inhibition among players who are planning to protest, as it’s reached over the sport includes a partnership with DirecTV.

SOURCE: VLADTV