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Tag: black lives matter

The Supreme Court, Police Shootings and Black Lives Matter

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Have the frenzied media coverage of incidents involving police shootings of African Americans and the protests of Black Lives Matter activists affected the Supreme Court?  The Court has not addressed a case involving race and the criminal justice system in some time, but two such cases are scheduled for oral argument this month.

Coincidence or a legitimate attempt to weigh in on a crisis jeopardizing law enforcement lives and the faith of minority Americans in the fairness of the criminal process?

US_Supreme_Court

The Court exercises discretion in at least three ways: what cases to accept for hearing (only about 1% are heard), the timing of oral argument (these cases were set for the first month of the 2016-2017 term), and in the individual votes and opinions of the Justices). The first two seem to demonstrate a special sensitivity to this subject which is embroiling race relations in America.

However, the other related question is whether the open seat on the Court from the death of Justice Scalia will affect the Court’s ability to decide these cases and to resolve conflicts in the lower courts. A 4-4 vote will mean that the lower court decision will stand. In these two cases the lower courts both rejected the petitions of minority defendants on racial issues.

The first of the two cases is Buck v. Davis, a death penalty appeal which has bounced around the Texas state courts, the federal district court in Houston and the 5th Circuit since Buck’s sentence of death in 1996. Buck was convicted of capital murder of his ex-girlfriend and a man at her house in a jealousy-fueled shooting spree. During the penalty hearing his defense attorney, who had a notoriously bad record in capital cases, called a psychologist to testify on the subject of Buck’s likelihood of posing a danger in the future.

In Texas the jury must unanimously conclude that the defendant poses a danger of violence to warrant the verdict of death. The defense psychologist testified that the fact that he was Black made him statistically more likely to be dangerous. Ultimately, however, the psychologist was of the opinion that he was at a lower probability of being dangerous. His report, which included the race analysis, was admitted as a defense exhibit. The prosecutor reiterated this race opinion in cross-examination and the witness’s conclusion in his closing argument.

On the most recent appeal, the 5th Circuit concluded that, although racial appeals had long been unconstitutional in criminal trials, the defendant had not met the standard of a substantial showing of prejudice to justify a Certificate of Appeal. There had been no proof that the result would have been different without the expert’s testimony in view of the defendant’s callous actions and his lack of remorse. The defense showing on appeal was not extraordinary and the prejudice de minimis.

This particular psychologist had repeated this race-based statistical opinion in six other capital cases, and the Texas Attorney General announced in a press conference that it would not oppose re-sentencing in all of those cases. However, a new Attorney General reneged on this promise as to Buck’s case.

In addition to the race-based issue, the case illustrates the tension in capital cases between two important principles. In cases involving the death penalty errors in the trial are painstakingly reviewed and appellate opinions often reach to achieve due process. On the other hand, there is a need for finality in the resolution of criminal cases. The length of time capital defendants sit on death row today is considered by some to be a failure of finality in the system.

Read more »

Black Lives Matter Activists Claim FBI Agents Urging Not to Protest at RNC

Photo by Steve Neavling.

Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Black Lives Matter activists said FBI agents have been urging them not to protest at this week’s Republican convention in Cleveland.

The Washington Post repots that Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson asked President Obama to instruct the FBI to stop contacting activists ahead of the convention.

The Post reports:

Activists in Cleveland, San Francisco, New York, Minneapolis, and St. Louis have all told The Washington Post that they have been visited by FBI agents in recent days, which the activists consider an intimidation tactic.

One activist with Campaign Zero, the group co-founded by Mckesson, tweeted about a recent encounter he had with an FBI agent.

An activist in New York said an agent visited his home earlier this week.

“I don’t want to talk about particular groups here but there is a concern anytime there’s an event like this that people from across a spectrum of radical groups will be attracted to it,” FBI Director James Comey said during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing.

Homeland Security Secretary Says He’s ‘Concerned’ about Race Relations

Jeh Johnson

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

After numerous rallies nationwide following the police shootings of black people, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said he’s “concerned” about race relations in America.

Trying to speak to both police and protesters, Johnson said, “Violence never solves anything.”

“An eye for an eye leaves everybody blind and at this point, we need to stand with our law enforcement community,” Johnson said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Johnson also was referring tot he sniper attack the killed five officers and injured seven others in Dallas.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, speaking with Johnson, criticized Black Lives Matter.

“The reality of the Black Lives Matter movement is it is significantly focused, primarily focused on police and their efforts to portray police and the police profession in a very negative way, which is unfortunate,” he said.

Other Stories of Interest

Post-Dispatch: Social Justice Movement in Ferguson Gets Off Track

Ferguson protest.

Ferguson protest.

By Blake Ashby
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Something has gone terribly wrong with the social justice movement. The heavy lifting of making things better is being consumed by a free-floating anger that has little connection to what is actually happening in our country.

Think I’m exaggerating? Some of the angrier members of the social justice community are calling for the recall of Ferguson Councilwoman Ella Jones. She is a very clever political operator who worked her way up, built relationships, accumulated allies and got elected. She is also African-American, as are most of her constituents.

So why are they trying to get Jones kicked out? Because the Department of Justice wants Ferguson to spend an extra $2 million implementing community policing, and Jones and every other council member pushed back and said we can only afford to spend a million. Basically, Jones was voting to spare her constituents $1 million in extra taxes. Activists have concluded that not increasing taxes on the African-Americans who actually vote for her makes Jones a traitor to African-Americans in the rest of the country.

And of course the DOJ sued the city of Ferguson on Feb. 10; the night before, the council had unanimously voted to accept the consent decree the city’s attorneys had negotiated, with a small number of cost-saving modifications. The DOJ used some fairly dramatic language to suggest that Ferguson was somehow fighting progress and clinging to its racist past.

But … did the DOJ even read the proposed changes? Basically, the City Council asked the DOJ to delay implementation for three months while the city looked for a police chief and not require Ferguson give all of its police officers substantial raises. These two changes, along with hiring a local instead of Washington monitor, took the first-year costs down from about $2 million to about $1 million.

The DOJ wants Ferguson to give its mostly white police force a very large raise in hopes the city will be able to recruit more African-American officers. Once the consent decree was publicly released and scrutinized, the city realized the very high cost of the raises.

To read more click here. 

Trial Begins for 1 of 6 Baltimore Cops Accused in Death of Freddie Gray

Freddie Gray protest, via Wikipedia.

Freddie Gray protest, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The closely watched trial in Freddie Gray’s death began Monday with jury selection for the first police officer to trial, the Associated Press reports. 

The trial is expected to resume today in Baltimore Circuit Court in a case that fueled the Black Lives Matter movement.

Six officers have been charged in the death of 25-year-old Gray, a black man who died while in police custody.

William Porter, who is also black, is accused of refusing to get medical treatment for Gray during a 45-minute trip in a police van.

Gray died of a severe spinal injury sustained while in police custody.

The AP reported that Porter is the first being tried because he could be a potential witness.

Video: Former DEA Agent Clashes with Black Lives Matter Activist over Anti-Police Rhetoric

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It was a heated moment Monday afternoon between a former DEA official and a Black Lives Matter activist.

“For too long, we have lived in a society that has poured resources, too many resources, into a policing system that creates an unsafe situation, especially in black communities,” Black Lives Matter organizer Melina Abdullah said on CNN.

But some of the anti-police rhetoric, such as chanting, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon!,” drew a strong response by former DEA agent David Katz.

“Are you listening to me?” he asked after repeating some of the chants now associated with BLM, including one where participants chants, “What do we want? Dead cops. When do we want them? Now.”

“Are you listening?” he repeated.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Director James Comey: A Chill Wind Has Blown Through Law Enforcement Over the Last Year

FBI Director James Comey in Chicago

FBI Director James Comey in Chicago

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

CHICAGO —  Reality or hunch?

FBI director James Comey, echoing remarks he made a few days ago at the University of Chicago Law School, said Monday he thinks violent crime is on the rise this year, at least in part, because officers are being increasingly scrutinized and are more reluctant to do their jobs in a world where a misstep can be seen on video around the world.

“Maybe something has changed in policing. In today’s YouTube world, are officers reluctant to get out of their cars and and do the work that controls violent crime?,” Comey asked, delivering a speech before thousands in attendance at the International Association of Police Chiefs in Chicago. “Are officers answering 911 calls, but avoiding the informal contact that keeps bad guys with guns from standing around?

“I spoke to officers in one big city…who described being surrounded by young people with mobile phones, video cameras rolling, as they step out of the car, taunting them, asking what they want and and why they’re there.  They described a feeling of being under siege and were honest and said ‘we don’t feel much like getting out of our cars.'”

“I’ve been told about a senior police leader who told his force, our political leadership has zero tolerance for you all being connected to another viral video.  The question is are these kinds of things changing police behavior in cities around the country?”

“The honest answer is, I don’t know for sure whether that’s the case,  I don’t know for sure whether even it is the case that it explains it entirely.   But I do have a a strong sense that some part of what’s going on is likely a chill wind that has blown through law enforcement over the last year. That wind is made up of a whole series of viral videos and the public outcry to follow them.  And that wind is surely changing behavior my common sense tells me.”

Comey also expressed the concern that the divide between the black community and law enforcement is getting wider.

“The challenges are complicated, layered, and painful to be honest. I imagine two lines. There’s a line of law enforcement and there’s the line of communities we serve, especially communities of color in the hardest hit neighborhoods in this great country of ours,” Comey said.

“And I actually feel those two lines arching apart. Each incident that involves perceived or actual misconduct by police  that’s captured on video and spreads around the world bends this line this way. Each incident that involves an attack on a member of law enforcement bends our line that way. I have seen those lines arching apart in a lot of different ways. I actually see an example..of that arching through hashtags. Through the# blacklivesmatter and the #policelivesmatter.

“Of course each of those hashtags and what they represent adds a voice to an important conversation,” he said. “Each time somebody interprets  #blacklivesmater as anti-law enforcement one line moves away.  And each time that someone interprets #policelivesmatter as anti-black , another line moves away. I actually feel the lines continuing to arch away, may be accelerating, incident by incident, video by video, hashtag by hashtag, and that’s a terrible place for us to be.

He said the black community and law enforcement need to demand answers.  And academics need to hit it hard and examine the issues.

 

 

Former DEA Special Agent Calls Out ‘Black Lives Matter’ for Suggesting ‘Frying’ Police

black lives matterBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former DEA agent clashed with a Black Lives Matter organizer who called for “frying” police.

The verbal confrontation broke out on CNN after Rashad Turner said his group was not supporting violence when they chanted, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon.”

Turner said the group was referring to holding police accountable for violating the rights of citizens, BizPack Review reports. 

Former DEA Special Agent David Katz called it nonsense.

“When my fellow Americans are murdered in a church in South Carolina I weep,” Katz said. “When you start weeping for white cops who get shot down in Houston then I’ll be talking the same message you talk.”

Turner continued to insist that protesters did not condone violence against police/

“I’m not sure what a good cop is,” Turner insisted. “We’re getting hung up by this rhetoric that’s making white people uncomfortable or causing that discomfort. Every day as a black man I’m uncomfortable simply because of the color of my skin.”

Other Stories of Interest