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Tag: civil rights

Grand Jury Decision in Ferguson Won’t Stop Justice Department Investigation

By Steve Neavling
www.ticklethewire.com

Chaos erupted in pockets of Ferguson Monday night after a grand jury decided not to charge a white police officer who shot an unarmed black teenager.

So what’s next? The Justice Department is investigating whether Officer Darren Wilson violated the civil rights of Michael Brown. But don’t expect him to be charged, the Washington Post reports.

The Justice Department also will be examining the policing practices in what likely will lead to wholesale reforms, the Los Angeles Times reported. Investigators will be reviewing excessive force cases and arrest reports in search of a pattern of violating residents’ rights.

Reforms are more common than charges, the LA Times wrote.

Although civil rights investigations tend to drag on, Attorney General Eric Holder said he hopes to wrap up the probe by the time he leaves office, possibly as early as February.

Were Police in Ferguson Heavy-Handed During Response to Protests? Justice Department Investigates

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has launched a review of the police response to 16 days of Ferguson protests in wake of the fatal shooting of an unarmed teen, CNN reports.

The review will examine the handling of crowd control, protesters and the media.

The task will be undertaken by a 12-person team that will include Justice Department officials and current and former police chiefs.

The assessment started last week.

Attorney General Eric Holder has criticized the police response, which has been widely considered heavy-handed.

The review comes as law enforcement braces for the outcome of the grand jury that will decide whether to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.

Justice Department Lacks Evidence to Warrant Civil Rights Charges Against Ferguson Cop

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Not enough evidence exists to bring civil rights charges against the white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, investigators for the Justice Department said.

The Washington Post reports that the Justice Department is reluctant to acknowledge the lack of evidence because of high tensions in the greater St. Louis area.

Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon maintains the case is still open.

“This is an irresponsible report by The Washington Post that is based on idle speculation,” Fallon said in a statement.

But the Post interviewed other law enforcement officials who said it was not premature to conclude the investigation is ending.

“The evidence we have makes federal civil rights charges unlikely,” one said.

 

Justice Department Launches Independent Review of Baltimore Police Department After Complaints

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Department of Justice is launching an independent review of Baltimore’s police force following a string of complaints from residents about excessive force and other alleged abuses, the Baltimore Sun reports.

But instead of launching a full-scale civil rights investigation, the Department of Justice will work directly with police – an approached called a collaborative review.

“The civil rights division is a part of the process,” U.S. Attorney Ronald L. Davis said, “and they retain the ability to come into Baltimore if reform is not made, if recommendations are not implemented. … Nothing is off the table.”

The request follows a Baltimore Sun report that revealed the city paid out $5.7 million in court settlements and judgments over alleged police misconduct since 2011. Virtually every officer involved has never been charged.

The review will include consultants working with community members, elected leaders, cops and union officials. The consultants also will ride with officers and review the culture, practices and polices of the police department, the Sun wrote.

“This is very strong process,” Davis said during a news conference at the U.S. attorney’s office in Baltimore. “I want to reassure the community this is about helping the city of Baltimore reform. This is not about forcing them to reform in a way that we decided.”

From Good to Great: AG Eric Holder Championed for Civil Rights Like No One Before Him

By Jamelle Bouie
Slate

On Thursday the families of Michael Brown and Eric Garner joined with the NAACP, the National Urban League, the National Action Network, the National Bar Association, and the Black Women’s Roundtable to call for a full federal investigation in the police killings of the two young men.

The Rev. Al Sharpton was part of the event, and he was about to take questions from those assembled when the news broke that Attorney General Eric Holder intended to resign from the administration. Naturally, Sharpton had a few words for the occasion.

“There is no attorney general who has shown a commitment to civil rights like Eric Holder,” said Sharpton, “If he is resigning, the civil rights community is losing the most effective civil rights attorney general in American history.”

That is high praise, but it’s hard to say it’s unreasonable or unjustified. When President Obama entered office, the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department was in shambles, neglected by President Bush and staffed with a coterie of partisan operatives. Long-serving lawyers left the office, case files were closed with little explanation, political appointees sought to block liberals from career positions, and anti-discrimination efforts were few and far between.

At his confirmation hearing at the beginning of Obama’s term, Holder made the Civil Rights Division his priority.

To that end, Holder took aggressive steps to repair the damage of the previous administration and restore the traditional priorities of the Civil Rights Division. On voting rights, Holder was a strong advocate against voter identification laws, attacking the 2012 Texas law as a “political pretext to disenfranchise American citizens of their most precious right” and comparing some practices to Jim Crow laws. “Many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them—and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them. We call those poll taxes,” he said.

To read more click here.

Other Stories of Interest

Justice Department Investigating Police-Involved Shooting of Black Man at Wal-Mart Store

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department’s increased reviews of police department practices has reached Ohio after a grand jury opted no to indict officers involved in the unusual fatal shooting of a man at a Ohio Wal-Mart, the Associated Press reports.

Pledging a “thorough and independent” investigation, the Justice Department said it’s trying to determine whether any civil rights laws were violated in the Aug. 5 death of John Crawford III, 22.

Crawford, who is black, reportedly was waving a gun in the store and didn’t obey commands when police arrived.

Police shot and killed Crawford. Turns out, he had an air rifle taken from the Wal-Mart shelf.

“The Crawford family is extremely disappointed, disgusted and confused,” the family said in a statement. “They are heartbroken that justice was not done in the tragic death of their only son.”

Other Stories of Interest

 

 

6 Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputies Sentenced Up to 41 Months in Prison for Interfering with Civil Rights Investigation

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Six deputies for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department were sentenced Wednesday to up to 41 months in prison for interfering with a federal civil rights investigation at a jail.

The federal judge told the defendants that they lacked “courage to do what is right” and showed no remorse.

The sentencing follows a federal jury’s determination that the defendants tried to influence witnesses, threatened an FBI agent with arrest and hid an FBI informant from investigators.

“Blind obedience to a corrupt culture has serious consequences,” United States District Judge Percy Anderson told the defendants before sentencing.

The defendants were:

  • Gregory Thompson, 54, a now-retired lieutenant who oversaw LASD’s Operation Safe Jails Program, who was ordered to serve 37 months in prison and to pay a $7,500 fine;
  • Lieutenant Stephen Leavins, 52, who was assigned to the LASD’s Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau, who received a 41-month prison sentence;
  • Gerard Smith, 42, a deputy who was assigned to the Operation Safe Jails Program, who was ordered to serve 21 months in prison;
  • Mickey Manzo, 34, a deputy who was assigned to the Operation Safe Jails Program, who received a 24-month sentence;
  • Scott Craig, 50, a sergeant who was assigned to the Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau, who was sentenced to 33 months; and
  • Maricela Long, 46, a sergeant who assigned to the Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau, who received a sentence of two years in federal prison.

“Interference with a federal investigation cannot be tolerated,” said Bill Lewis, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “The sentences imposed today allow us to move forward toward an environment of mutual trust and the common goal of delivering justice to victims of crime. I look forward to continued collaboration with our trusted partners at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.”

Flood Wipes Out Significant Portion of FBI Documents on Civil Rights, KKK

FBI photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A flood has wiped out a good portion of the FBI’s documents on the civil rights era.

IO9 reports the discovery was made recently after a professor had requested documents related to the Ku Klux Klan.

Those documents – and many more – were destroyed when the FBI’s archives in Alexandria, Va., were flooded.

Hundreds of thousands of pages of other documents were destroyed. They include 41 volumes on the National Negro Labor Council, 23 volumes on Claude Lightfoot, 19 volumes on the Nation of Islam and eight volumes on Detroit’s civil rights issues.

The professor, Trevor Griffey, wrote in his blog:

A more important question, however, is: why are these archives in the possession of the FBI at all? Why does the FBI continue to retain millions of pages of historically significant files, many of which are over 50 years old, that have no relevance to its contemporary law enforcement mission? Why have these files not already been transferred to the National Archives?

Many of the historically significant files destroyed in the Virginia flooding included a series of files that were supposed to have been transferred to the National Archives during George W. Bush’s second term….Almost ten years later, these files should not still be in the FBI’s possession.

Other files of major significance to the study of racial justice, the left, and U.S. foreign policy— particularly the FBI’s 105 series files, which include hundreds of thousands of pages of files on the Black Panther Party— remain in the FBI’s possession and decades away from ever being declassified or transferred to the National Archives.

These and other historically significant files that sit in secret FBI warehouses are vulnerable to more than just flooding. Decades-old standards for determining historical significance that tend to treat local history as unimportant, combined with wide latitude granted to FBI records management staff, have resulted in tragic and reckless destruction of many historically significant files.