Sacramento, CA – State and local officials will try to remove the term “lynching” from California law after the statute, originally created to protect black detainees from angry white mobs, has been used to prosecute a woman of color in what her lawyer calls an “incredibly ironic” turn of events. Maile Hampton, 20, will stand before a judge on April 9 and answer to a felony charge of lynching. Hampton, of Sacramento, appeared Monday in Sacramento Superior Court surrounded by more than 30 supporters. “It’s ironic that this code section was designed and passed to protect, primarily, African Americans from vigilante justice,” said Linda Parisi, Hampton’s attorney. “But that’s not how it’s being used.”
The judge who allegedly turned Ferguson’s municipal court into a city cash cow resigned Monday, and the Missouri Supreme Court ordered a new jurist to take over the city caseload. The Supreme Court of Missouri said in a statement that it was assigning Judge Roy L. Richter to take over Ferguson Municipal Judge Ronald Brockmeyer’s court “to help restore public trust and confidence.” Reform advocates who said Ferguson is one of many small municipalities in St. Louis County that routinely violate the rights of residents said the judicial moves are a good start. “I hope that it marks the beginning of a long process,” said Brendan Roediger, a civil rights lawyer and St. Louis University Law Scool professor who is involved in a lawsuit against Ferguson and a neighboring municipality. Roediger said Brockmeyer “was never the worst municipal court judge” in the St. Louis region, where similar conflicts exist in many courtrooms. A group of residents waiting outside a closed meeting of the Ferguson City Council on Monday night cheered the news. “That’s big,” said Melissa Sanders, 32, of Ferguson. “I’m elated — for now.” Sanders, of the activist group Lost Voices, said she was concerned that “they may be just pacifying us.”
In August 2010, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Domestic Terrorism Analysis Unit distributed an intelligence bulletin to all field offices warning that environmental extremism would likely become an increasing threat to the energy industry. The eight-page document argued that, even though the industry had encountered only low-level vandalism and trespassing, recent “criminal incidents” suggested that environmental extremism was on the rise. The FBI concluded: “Environmental extremism will become a greater threat to the energy industry owing to our historical understanding that some environmental extremists have progressed from committing low-level crimes against targets to more significant crimes over time in an effort to further the environmental extremism cause.” Since the 2010 FBI assessment was written, the specter of environmental extremism has been trotted out by both law enforcement and energy-industry security teams to describe a wide variety of grassroots groups opposed to the continued extraction of fossil fuels. Yet even as the resistance to “extreme energy projects” has grown in size and scope, there is little evidence to support the breathless warnings about “eco-terrorism.” Nevertheless, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and many state law enforcement agencies continue to promote the idea that environmental extremism is on the rise. At the same time, numerous intelligence-sharing networks between the private sector and law enforcement have been established at every level of government, giving rise to an unprecedented energy-intelligence complex.
“We understand now that we have mass power,” said Jordan, who pointed to the indictment Tuesday of Officer Peter Liang for the November shooting death of Akui Gurley in a Brooklyn housing development as an example of what Black Lives Matter has been able to accomplish since its inception. Even the NYPD’s recent promotional efforts for the film “Selma” are a testament to the power of the movement, she said. “They have to show they are not the bad guys, because they pretty much look like the bad guys.” Still, going forward, Jordan and others are proceeding with caution. “It is really important that we understand our strength is in numbers, that our narrative and our actions are very clear so that we cannot be misconstrued,” said Jordan. “We’re training people really heavily in militant nonviolent action and de-escalation. They are waiting for any opportunity to vilify us. But you can expect to see a stronger, more coordinated movement going forward. It’s about maximizing and taking control of the energy we have shown in the streets.”
On Monday NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton announced a new heavily armed, machine gun carrying special force that would be used to fight civil disturbances and protests as part of an anti-terrorism unit. The article below reports they have backed off from the machine guns, no doubt because there was a lot of protest, but are still planning a new task force to respond to protests. According to the NYPD the task force will “handle the demonstrations and protests… respond to any sort of civil disorder. They’ll also be able to respond to citywide mobilizations.” The announcement of the task forces was vague in how they would handle protests and what their special training would involve. Mayor di Blasio and Commissioner Bratton need to be forthright about the tactics they will be using. What kind of special training will this special task force have? How will they be armed? What role will infiltrators and disruptors play? Will police instigate violence and property damage? How will they protect the constitutional rights of protesters? The terrible record of the NYPD demands transparency. Take action to demand transparency and that your constitutional rights be protected…
Police Commissioner Bratton made the announcement earlier today at an event hosted by the Police Foundation at the Mandarin Oriental. He said that the new 350 cop unit, called The Strategic Response Group, will be dedicated to “disorder control and counterterrorism protection capabilities” against attacks like the hostage situation in Sydney, which the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence John Miller said was an inevitability in NYC. This new squad will be used to investigate and combat terrorist plots, lone wolf terrorists, and… protests. “It is designed for dealing with events like our recent protests, or incidents like Mumbai or what just happened in Paris,” Bratton said, according to CBS. “They’ll be equipped and trained in ways that our normal patrol officers are not,” Bratton explained. “They’ll be equipped with all the extra heavy protective gear, with the long rifles and machine guns. . .
When I found in the papers that I “attacked a policeman” – I looked at my four year old daughter Lena and then I went to the window and looked at my neighborhood. I have police families who live nearby and they are reading that I attacked one their own? Even without witnesses, videotape evidence or even the willingness of the District Attorney to press charges – they would endanger me in this way. And now Lena has nightmares… It’s a wonder that I’ve been an activist for so long without this kind entrapment. Maybe the humor and music in our approach to protest has protected me. Ultimately, I’ll grow from this. Our singing activism will be braver.
Protesters interrupted lunch in a Capitol Hill cafeteria Wednesday, holding a “die-in” to honor Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager who was killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri, last summer. About 50 protesters congregated in a U.S. House of Representatives office cafeteria in Washington, D.C., chanting “Black Lives Matter” and taking over the space in front of the cash registers. They held signs reading “outlaw racial profiling” and “stop jump outs” and stayed on the floor for about four and a half minutes, recalling the four and a half hours that Brown’s body remained face down in the street after he was shot. The protesters included Jewish, Christian and Muslim clergy and people of faith.
Founded in 1966 in Oakland, Calif., to combat police violence, the Black Panther Party and its story are a key part of our nation’s still-complicated racial narrative. When it was conceived, the Black Panther Party called for “an immediate end to police brutality and murder of Black people.” Relying on the right to bear arms contained in the Second Amendment to the Constitution, the Panthers organized armed citizen patrols to monitor police behavior. It was a controversial approach to an intractable problem, but it provoked important debate. Of course, the police violence and misconduct that inspired the founding of the Black Panther Party 50 years ago have not gone away. In just the last six months, the deaths of Michael Brown, John Crawford III, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice – and the lack of indictment of police officers for any of their deaths — have shaken black communities to the core. But today, unlike in the 1960s, there are no shootouts between protesters and police.
Over 50 Cities Nationwide Rally Against Police Abuse and For Racial Justice on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Thousands of people across the country took to the streets to reclaim the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a radical who sought national transformation, not just voting rights for all but an end to militarism, challenged capitalism and an end to racism. Ferguson Action wrote “From here on, MLK weekend will be known as a time of national resistance to injustice.” Thousands of people took to the streets on Monday rebuking what they say is the “sanitized” version of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and calling to restore the legacy of a man whose protests, like their own, were never “convenient.” The nationwide actions marked the birthday of the civil rights leader in a year that saw renewed calls for racial justice in the face of persistent inequality, discrimination, and police targeting of communities of color. Capping off almost a week of demonstrations, organizational meetings, and other pledges of resistance—all done with the intent to “Reclaim MLK”—grassroots coalition Ferguson Action issued a specific call for Monday: “Do as Martin Luther King would have done and resist the war on Black Lives with civil disobedience and direct action. Take the streets, shut it down, walk, march, and whatever you do, take action.”
Activists protesting what they call “police and state violence against black people” chained themselves to concrete-filled barrels and blocked a busy Boston-area highway at the height of the Thursday morning commute. The protesters north of the city chained themselves together using plastic pipes. A total of 29 people were arrested at the two protest sites. A statement explaining the protest: “In the past 15 years, law enforcement officers in Boston have killed Remis M. Andrews, Darryl Dookhran, Denis Reynoso, Ross Baptista, Burrell “Bo” Ramsey-White, Mark Joseph McMullen, Manuel “Junior” DaVeiga, Marquis Barker, Stanley Seney, Luis Gonzalez, Bert W. Bowen, Eveline Barros-Cepeda, Daniel Furtado, LaVeta Jackson, Nelson Santiago, Willie L. Murray Jr., Rene Romain, Jose Pineda, Ricky Bodden, Carlos M. Garcia, and many more people of color. We mourn and honor all these lives. We must remember, Ferguson is not a faraway Southern city. Black men, women, and gender-nonconforming people face disproportionately higher risk of profiling, unjust incarceration, and death. Police violence is everywhere in the United States. A comment on the inconvenience ” Disruptions are temporary. Structural racism in this country is ever-present. These disruptions don’t occur in a vacuum. Context informs them. To get that many people to disrupt life all across America means that the legal, less risky channels for addressing one’s grievances have been exhausted.
The #BlackLivesMatter movement is seeking to reclaim the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in protests across the nation with the hash tag #ReclaimMLK. People are not focusing on his “I Have a Dream” speech but instead on his challenge to the United States as the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world” as well as his criticism of capitalism. When King was murdered he was preparing to lead an occupation of Washington, DC — Resurrection City — as part of the Poor People’s Campaign. King had already shown himself to be a powerful organizer and mobilizer of people in the Civil Rights movement, but at the end of his life he had taken on other big causes and was mobilizing people to challenge capitalism and militarism. Since his death both of those issues have gotten worse and much of the world and many thousands in the United States are organizing to challenge them. King described three interlocking evils: “the sickness of racism, excessive materialism and militarism.”
Richard Beary President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police told a personal story of how as a child he saw Vietnam Veterans returning home from War only to be called baby killers or spit on. He compared that with the treatment of police officers in general in the current political climate. Sam Walker, Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Nebraska-Omaha went further to say that, “Skin Color doesn’t matter. If you have a bad department, its a bad department.” The latter notion was openly disputed by Jennifer Eberhardt, Associate Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and recent recipient of the famed MacArthur fellowship’s “Genius grant” who offered her award winning study on how race alters perception especially in the criminal justice context and stressed the need for Implicit Bias Training. Sherrilyn Ifill President and Director-Counsel NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund said it best, “When a cop rolls up and shoots a 12 year old kid in 2 seconds, then something is wrong.”