The Washington Post is compiling a database of every fatal shooting by police in 2015, as well as of every officer killed by gunfire in the line of duty.
Overall, blacks were killed at three times the rate of whites or other minorities when adjusting by the population of the census tracts where the shootings occurred.
A South Carolina police officer shot at an unarmed, fleeing 50-year-old Walter Scott 8 times on Saturday, killing him. Officer Michael Slager claimed that Scott wrestled his taser away and he "felt threatened". But this time there was video of the incident, and Slager has been charged with Murder. [more inside]
Today, the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division released its report on the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department, whose officer, Darren Wilson, shot and killed Michael Brown in August 2014, prompting large-scale, nationwide protests, which only increased following a grand jury's choice not to indict Wilson for the killing. [more inside]
Hotter Than Lava: Every day, cops toss dangerous military-style grenades during raids, with little oversight and horrifying results. [Via]
"some of these prognostications may seem a wee bit hyperbolic, a bit paranoid, maybe even a little nutty" What will American civil liberties look like in 2015? If things take a turn for the worse, they might look a little familiar. Slate also explored this terrain today, but not at such length. [more inside]
In 1961, one dogged black woman took a stand against illegal police tactics. Today the fine folks at The Marshall Project profile one very important American you probably know almost nothing about. [more inside]
Why Did Michael Brown Die in Ferguson? - According to the police of Fergusson, Missouri it was because he reached for an officer's weapon, necessitating that he be shot multiple times as he ran away empty handed. Eyewitness tell a different story. Whatever happened the killing has prompted demonstrations and looting. Ferguson police responded in full force, firing teargas and wooden rounds into crowds of protestors and sealing the area off from the media. In the wake of the tragedy questions of racial profiling, the paramilitarization of police and media depictions of black shooting victims have been raised. Meanwhile the shooter has not been named to preserve his safety.
Earl Sampson has been stopped and questioned by Miami Gardens police 258 times in four years. He’s been searched more than 100 times. And arrested and jailed 56 times. Almost every citation was issued at the same place: the 207 Quickstop, a convenience store on 207th Street in Miami Gardens. But Sampson isn’t loitering. He works as a clerk at the Quickstop.
When police carried out a routine stop-and-search of her boyfriend on the London Underground, Gemma Atkinson filmed the incident. She was detained, handcuffed and threatened with arrest. She launched a legal battle, which ended with the police settling the case in 2010. With the money from the settlement she funded the production of this animated film, which she says shows how her story and highlights police misuse of counterterrorism powers to restrict photography. [more inside]
"The message to [t]his generation is very clear: don’t get any fancy ideas about being an engaged citizen. Go back to your X-Box and X-Factor, and leave politics to the millionaires in charge." - Johann Hari of the Independent reporting on an unnerving trend in the UK. [more inside]
Robert Pinter, a 52-year-old gay man who was arrested for prostitution at the Blue Door in the East Village on Oct. 10, spoke at the town hall meeting. He said a young man ... cruised him in the store. He was "charming and persistent, and we agreed to go home for consensual sex, but as we were leaving he said, 'I want to pay you $50 [to have sex].' I didn't respond, but I thought it was strange," Pinter recounted. As the men left the store, Pinter said, a group of men who did not show police identification pushed him against the wall. "I thought I'd been set up by a gang," he said. "I asked them why they were doing this to me. I was totally clueless. They handcuffed me and said, 'Why the f--- do you think we're arresting you — loitering for the purpose of prostitution.'"Reminiscent of the criminalizing of consensual gay sex in the Stonewall era, New York City cops are using questionable tactics to target, entrap, and falsely arrest gay men.
"'We want that shock. We want that awe. But at the same time, we don't want people to feel their rights are being threatened. We need them to be our eyes and ears'.... [Police] officers might, for example, surround a bank building, check the IDs of everyone going in and out and hand out leaflets about terror threats." While there have been no specific threats of terrorism against Miami, "'[t]his is an in-your-face type of strategy. It's letting the terrorists know we are out there,' [Deputy Police Chief Frank] Fernandez said."
From The Slow Wheels of Justice [Department] we read that "there have been persistent complaints of excessive force by officers of Prince George's County Police Department, Maryland over many years. Cases of concern include police shootings; deaths in custody from dangerous restraint holds or other force and unresisting suspects mauled by police dogs....In November 2000 the US Department of Justice opened a civil rights investigation into the police department to determine whether it engaged in a "pattern and practice" of brutality and racial discrimination....However, after 20 months of investigation, the Justice Department has not yet issued any public findings or recommendations to the police department."