Ferguson Police Chief Resigns After DOJ Exposes Systemic Racism

Originally published on March 12, 2015, at NationofChange.org

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson announced his resignation on Wednesday after a scathing Justice Department report revealed systemic racism throughout the government of Ferguson. Accused of racial discrimination and repeatedly violating civil rights, Chief Jackson has decided to step down along with the city manager, a municipal court judge, and two police officers who immediately resigned in the wake of the Justice Department’s investigation. Although the Department of Justice declined to file charges against Darren Wilson, their investigation exposed a culture of unlawfully targeting black people for profit and ridicule.

“It is with profound sadness that I am announcing I am stepping down from my position as chief of police for the city of Ferguson, Missouri. My resignation will be effective March 19, 2015 to provide for an orderly transition of command,” Chief Jackson wrote in his resignation letter. “I will continue to assist the city in any way I can in my capacity as a private citizen.”

According to the Justice Department report, the police in Ferguson disproportionately stopped, arrested, cited, and used force on black residents while exchanging racist emails between officers and court officials. After analyzing the Ferguson Police Department’s data on stops, searches, and arrests between 2012 and 2014, the DOJ discovered that blacks accounted for 85% of all traffic stops, 90% of citations received, and 93% of people arrested were black. 88% of the cases in which officers reported using force had been against black people, and all 15 people bitten by police dogs were black.

In order to generate revenue for the city, police officers engaged in contests to impose the highest number of unfair fines on black residents. According to Attorney General Eric Holder, officers regularly violated the First, Fourth, and 14th Amendments without consequence while charging black residents with unlawful allegations, including “manner of walking along roadway.”

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16 Unarmed Black People Killed by Police this Year

Originally published on December 13, 2014, at NationofChange.org

At least 16 unarmed black people have been killed by police officers this year including a woman and two children. According to law enforcement officials, these people lost their lives in instances of poor police training, miscommunication, justified tactics, and excessive brutality. Although the majority of unarmed individuals killed by police this year have been black, officers have also been killing unarmed people of other races.

On January 16, Jordan Baker was allegedly killed in a case of mistaken identity. Working off-duty as a mall security guard, Houston PD Officer Juventino Castro confronted Baker because he fit the description of some robbery suspects who had recently held up three stores while wearing black hoodies. Castro claims Baker charged at him, forcing the off-duty officer to shoot Baker to death. A grand jury is deciding whether to charge Castro with killing Baker.

In August, North Augusta Public Safety Officer Justin Craven was charged with misconduct in office for gunning down a 68-year-old unarmed man named Ernest Satterwhite. After a slow-speed chase that ended in Satterwhite’s driveway on February 9, Officer Craven ran up to Satterwhite’s car door and shot him to death. The prosecution sought to charge Craven with voluntary manslaughter, but the grand jury indicted him on a misdemeanor instead. Satterwhite’s family has filed a lawsuit alleging Craven had disobeyed orders and lied about Satterwhite trying to grab his gun.

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Justice Department Investigating NYPD Cop Caught Killing Eric Garner on Video

Originally published on December 5, 2014, at NationofChange.org

Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Wednesday that the Justice Department will conduct an investigation into the death of Eric Garner after a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict the NYPD officer responsible for using a banned chokehold resulting in Garner’s death. Garner is one of at least nine unarmed black people killed by police in recent months. To date, no officers have been charged with the deaths.

Around 4:45pm on July 17, Eric Garner and his friend, Ramsey Orta, were discussing where to eat dinner when a fight erupted nearby. After Garner assisted in breaking up the fight, NYPD Officer Justin Damico approached Garner and accused him of selling untaxed cigarettes. Orta pulled out his phone and began recording the incident on video.

As Garner argued with Damico, Officer Daniel Pantaleo approached Garner from behind and attempted to grab his wrists. After Garner held his arms up in a nonthreatening manner and told the officers not to touch him, Pantaleo immediately placed Garner in a chokehold even though the maneuver has been banned by the department since 1993.

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UN Torture Report Condemns US Human Rights Abuses

Originally published on December 1, 2014, at NationofChange.org

The United Nations Committee Against Torture released a report addressing a myriad of human rights violations committed by the U.S. government. While commending President Obama for qualifying enhanced interrogation techniques as torture, the U.N. Committee decries his administration’s lack of transparency, refusal to prosecute, and inability to prevent rampant abuse.

In its first review of the U.S. since 2006, the U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment held hearings in Geneva throughout November. U.S. Representative to the Human Rights Council Keith Harper and State Department Acting Legal Adviser Mary McLeod gave statements during the proceedings, while the parents of Michael Brown testified against police brutality.

“The United States is proud of its record as a leader in respecting, promoting, and defending human rights and the rule of law, both at home and around the world,” stated McLeod. “But in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, we regrettably did not always live up to our own values, including those reflected in the Convention. As President Obama has acknowledged, we crossed the line and we take responsibility for that.”

In the conclusion of its report, the Committee applauded President Obama’s statements qualifying enhanced interrogation as torture at a press conference on August 1. The president admitted, “In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did things that were contrary to our values.”

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NYPD Cop Shoots and Kills Unarmed Man for No Reason

Originally published on November 23, 2014, at NationofChange.org

While routinely patrolling a Brooklyn housing project on Thursday night, an NYPD officer shot and killed an unarmed man who police admit had not been engaging in any criminal activity. The officer involved in the shooting claims he accidentally discharged his weapon, but city officials believe the officer’s inexperience and cowardice caused the innocent man’s death.

After hanging out at his girlfriend’s apartment on the seventh floor of the Louis H. Pink housing project in Brooklyn, Akai Gurley and his girlfriend Melissa Butler attempted to take the elevator downstairs around 11:15pm on Thursday. Tired of waiting for the elevator, Gurley and Butler chose to take the stairs down instead. Butler entered the dimly lit stairwell and began descending the steps as Gurley followed her.

On the floor above them, NYPD officers Peter Liang and Shaun Landau were conducting a routine vertical patrol of the building. As Officer Liang entered the stairwell from the eighth floor with his flashlight and gun drawn, he fired a single shot striking Gurley in the chest. Gurley managed to stagger down to the fifth floor where he collapsed.

“They didn’t identify themselves,” recalled Butler. “No nothing. They didn’t give no explanation. They just pulled a gun and shot him in the chest.”

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Five Unarmed Black Men Killed by Police Within a Month

Originally published on August 20, 2014, at NationofChange.org

In less than a month, cops have been responsible for killing at least five unarmed black men. Police officials have confirmed Eric Garner, John Crawford, Ezell Ford, Dante Parker, and Michael Brown were not carrying lethal weapons when authorities executed them. As racial tensions continue to escalate in Ferguson, militarized law enforcement agencies show no signs of ending the violence.

On July 17, NYPD Officer Justin Damico accused Eric Garner, 43, of selling untaxed cigarettes. A witness recorded video footage of Garner arguing with Damico when Officer Daniel Pantaleo crept up behind Garner and placed him in a chokehold. Officers piled on top of Garner as he weakly repeated, “I can’t breathe.”

After releasing the chokehold, Pantaleo placed his knee on the back of Garner’s head pressing his face into the pavement. Garner died of cardiac arrest induced by Pantaleo’s chokehold. The NYPD banned the use of chokeholds in 1994 after an officer placed Anthony Baez in a chokehold resulting in his death.

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FBI Investigates Rioting After Cop Kills Unarmed Teen

Originally published on August 12, 2014, at NationofChange.org

The FBI has joined the investigation into the police shooting of an unarmed teenager that incited rioting and looting this weekend in Ferguson, Missouri. As incidents of police brutality continue to escalate in violence, the residents of Ferguson retaliated by vandalizing stores and police cars while pelting officers with rocks, bricks, and bottles.

On the afternoon of August 9, Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson were walking in the street when a police car pulled up alongside them. According to the Ferguson Police Department, Brown shoved the officer as he was exiting the vehicle. A struggle ensued inside the car over the officer’s firearm. The officer fired a single shot, and Brown fled from the vehicle. Brown was roughly 35-feet from the police car when the officer fired multiple shots killing Brown, who was unarmed.

But Dorian Johnson and multiple witnesses disagree with the official version of events. According to Johnson, the officer pulled up next to them and ordered, “Get the eff onto the sidewalk.”

After exchanging a few words, the officer extended his arm out of the window and grabbed Brown’s neck. The officer allegedly choked Brown while pulling the 18-year-old into the car. As Brown managed to escape, the cop exited the vehicle and fired.

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