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White Racism in America's Police Departments Is So Much Worse Than Most Americans Understand

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CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues' new book exposes the under-reported "ghost skins": hidden white supremacists in law enforcement.

Jeff Pegues, Prometheus Books / Alternet

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http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_295048607_0.jpg?itok=ZQOSynSY San Francisco, May 15, 2015: SFPD officers pat down a black man in San Francisco. Overall, black Americans are arrested at 2.6 times the per-capita rate of other Americans. Photo Credit: ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock

AlterNet Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from the new book Black and Blue: Inside the Divide Between the Police and Black America by Jeff Pegues (Prometheus Books, May 2017).

Ghost Skins

The vast majority of police officers across the nation are doing the right thing. But there is a small percentage who are tarnishing the badge. Over the last several years, in addition http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/black_and_blue_cover.jpgto the police shootings that have sparked calls for reform, there have been scandals in departments from coast to coast. Some of those scandals have highlighted explicit racism within the ranks. Once again, technology plays a role in how that racism is exposed, as text messages often unearth bigotry in the rank and file. In 2015, an internal investigation in Miami Beach, Florida, revealed that sixteen officers had sent hundreds of racially offensive, sexist, and pornographic e-mails. Two of the officers were high-ranking and were believed to be the main instigators.

According to CBS reporting, Miami Beach police chief Daniel Oates informed reporters that the internal investigation uncovered 230 e-mails that were demeaning to African Americans and women or pornographic in nature. Many were reported to be depictions of crude racial jokes involving President Obama or black celebrities such as golfer Tiger Woods. One showed a woman with a black eye and the caption, “Domestic violence. Because sometimes, you have to tell her more than once.” One of the racially offensive e-mails depicted a board game called “Black Monopoly” in which every square says “go to jail.”

Jeff Pegues is the justice and homeland security correspondent for CBS News. In this capacity he has participated in closed-door interviews with FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson. In the aftermath of Michael Brown's death in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, Pegues orchestrated an interview with the chiefs of police representing four major U.S. cities. In 2015, he covered all angles of the Charleston, South Carolina, church killings, beginning with the manhunt for the suspect and culminating with a special report analyzing President Obama's eulogy at the funeral of State Senator Clementa Pinckney.

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How America Outlawed Adolescence

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André Chung

  • At least 22 states make it a crime to disturb school in ways that teenagers are wired to do. Why did this happen?
  • Related: From the Archives | Where Do We Draw the Line When It Comes to Zero Tolerance in Schools?

Amanda Ripley, the Atlantic

November, 2016 | One monday morning last fall, at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina, a 16-year-old girl refused to hand over her cellphone to her algebra teacher. After multiple requests, the teacher called an administrator, who eventually summoned a sheriff’s deputy who was stationed at the school. The deputy walked over to the girl’s desk. “Are you going to come with me,” he said, “or am I going to make you?”

Niya Kenny, a student sitting nearby, did not know the name of the girl who was in trouble. That girl was new to class and rarely spoke. But Kenny had heard stories about the deputy, Ben Fields, who also coached football at the school, and she had a feeling he might do something extreme. “Take out your phones,” she whispered to the boys sitting next to her, and she did the same. The girl still hadn’t moved. While Kenny watched, recording with her iPhone, Fields wrenched the girl’s right arm behind her and grabbed her left leg. The girl flailed a fist in his direction. As he tried to wrestle her out of her chair, the desk it was attached to flipped over, slamming the girl backwards. Then he reached for her again, extracting her this time, and hurled her across the classroom floor.

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From the Archives | Where Do We Draw the Line When It Comes to Zero Tolerance in Schools? T.C. Kelly, Free Advice Legal

  • It is with good reason that the Justice Department has urged schools to abandon their zealous enforcement of zero tolerance policies. Some administrators are reluctant to do so because zero tolerance policies allow administrators to deflect blame for their actions by saying “I’m just enforcing the policy.” But the Due Process Clause requires schools to treat students fairly. That means exercising judgment to distinguish behaviors that merit punishment from those that don’t. The wise exercise of discretion might be more difficult than the blind enforcement of a zero tolerance policy, but it is also more just.
  • Related: The West’s War on Children

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With Executive Order on Policing, Trump Declares Racialized War on Dissent

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A protester faces a line of police officers in the days after the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 10, 2016. (Photo: Edmund D. Fountain / New York Times)

  • The order can be read as an official authorization, from one white supremacist -- Steve Bannon -- to another -- Jeff Sessions -- to pursue the most racist and reactionary criminal legal policies in recent memory.
  • Related: Can Customs and Border Officials Search Your Phone? These Are Your Rights

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Friday, February 10, 2017 | On the heels of the much ballyhooed meeting that an obsequious Donald Trump conducted this week with local law enforcement officials from across the country, the president titillated the gendarmes with a threat to destroy -- COINTELPRO style -- an unnamed Texas state senator rumored to be introducing legislation to prevent law enforcement from financing police operations by seizing arrestees' property before they have been found guilty in a court of law. On Thursday, Trump followed up with an executive order that gave the recently confirmed Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions a carte blanche to bring down the wrath of the federal government on anyone who is unfortunate enough to have a confrontation with a cop, a prison guard, a border patrol officer or who knows who else outfitted with a badge and carrying a gun.

At first blush, the order could be seen simply as a wildly unpopular president playing macho man to our nation's police departments and their reactionary police unions. The unions have been chafing over being curbed by the previous administration's Department of Justice (DOJ), which, by means of pattern-or-practice investigations and consent decrees, started to put the brakes on racist police violence. On its face, Trump's new order looks like much bluster, with no enforcement mechanisms. Many of the provisions will need to be passed by Congress, receive funding and ultimately, pass constitutional muster -- a hurdle that the authoritarian Trump administration, with its white supremacist hatchet men at the helm, seems unwilling to pay even a trifling respect.

Flint Taylor has been litigating cases against police torture in Chicago for 30 years and is one of the lawyers for the families of slain Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. Together with his law partner Jeffrey Haas, Taylor was trial counsel in the marathon 1976 civil trial. For more information on the Hampton/Clark case, the history of the Black Panther Party and the FBI's program to destroy it, visit PeoplesLawOffice.com.

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http://www.truth-out.org/images/Images_2017_03/2017_0317phone.jpg (Photo: Deyvi Romero)  

Can Customs and Border Officials Search Your Phone? These Are Your Rights, Patrick G. Lee, ProPublica / Truth-out

  • Recent incidents have revived confusion and alarm over what powers border officials actually have and, perhaps more importantly, how to know when they are overstepping their authority.
  • Related: What you — yes, you! — can do to save America from tyranny.

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If the Elusive Mr. Gorsuch is Confirmed, the Legitimacy of the US Supreme Court Won't Recover.

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  • Part 1: If Gorsuch is confirmed, the legitimacy of the US supreme court won't recover.
  • Never before has Senate leadership so openly and intentionally played political games with our highest court. The consequences are staggering.
  • Part 2: The Elusive Mr. Gorsuch
  • A long day of questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee yielded few substantive hints about how Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch will act on criminal justice or any other substantive topics.
  • Related: Plenty of evasion, little drama.

Compiled by David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest

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Part 1: If Gorsuch is confirmed, the legitimacy of the US supreme court won't recover.

Never before has Senate leadership so openly and intentionally played political games with our highest court. The consequences are staggering.

Russ Feingold, the Guardian UK

https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/4c6e652e398b242b73020acba75576294b1853cf/0_0_3440_2064/master/3440.jpg?w=620&q=55&auto=format&usm=12&fit=max&s=b4d4f40b0cf1ac999169f86d131fe546 Republican senators abandoned their constitutional responsibilities and blocked Judge Garland’s nomination last year.’ Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP

Monday 20 March 2017 | While Russia’s involvement in our elections is unquestionably horrible, and it will likely take many more drip, drip, drips before we know the full extent of it, our democracy is facing an equally devastating threat much closer to home.

On Monday, when Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing is scheduled to begin, the Republicans will attempt to complete their cynical political takeover of the US supreme court, launched last year when they failed to confirm or to even give a hearing to Judge Merrick Garland.

Russ Feingold was a 16 year member of the US Senate Judiciary Committee.

Full story … 



Part 2: The Elusive Mr. Gorsuch

A long day of questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee yielded few substantive hints about how Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch will act on criminal justice or any other substantive topics.

The Marshall Project

March 22, 2017 | “No promises.” A long day of questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee yielded few substantive hints about how Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch will act on criminal justice or any other substantive topics. New York Times He repeatedly refused, as have his predecessors, to discuss the merits of cases or causes that he said he may face as a justice. Roll Call  And he said he had made no deal with President Trump on abortion to get the nomination. Atlantic

Republicans praised him as a restrained, independent jurist. Democrats pressed him on his prior positions on employment law, religious liberty, and corporate rights. Washington Post

Related: Plenty of evasion, little drama. NPR

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Special Project | Trump's Sanctuary Cities Plan is Straight Out of Breitbart, Radical Right Playbook

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Alex Amend, Southern Poverty Law Center

http://evergreenedigest.org/sites/evergreenedigest.org/files/SPLC%20Hatewatch%20banner.jpg January 26, 2017 | The aim is to pressure the many major cities and states that have already announced their unwillingness to cooperate with the administration’s increasingly hardline policies against undocumented immigrants. Because these communities have generally declined to task local law enforcement with enforcing federal immigration laws, they have come to be known as sanctuary cities.

For anyone familiar with Breitbart News under Stephen K. Bannon, it’s obvious that this new fear-mongering tactic comes straight from the playbook of the man who is now the chief strategist and senior counselor to the president. Bannon’s Breitbart has championed such hardline anti-immigrant ideas for years.

Alex Amend: Digital Media Director, Southern Poverty Law Center

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The Positive Effects of Sanctuary Policies on Crime and the Economy, Tom K. Wong, Center for American Progress

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The Data Are Clear: Sanctuary Counties See Lower Crime Rates and Stronger Economies

 

A Crackdown On Our Right To Stand Up

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Above Photo: From Socialist Worker 

  • Nicole Colson explains how Republican-led legislatures are trying to push through laws to criminalize dissent–in the hopes of stopping the growing fight against the right.
  • Related: 'People Have the Right to Take to the Streets'

Nicole Colson, Socialist Worker / Popular Resistance

https://secure.consumersunion.org/images/content/pagebuilder/Industry-telling.jpg February 14, 2017 | Less than  three weeks into his presidency, Donald Trump is clearly what George W. Bush once claimed to be: “a uniter, not a divider.” Only he’s been uniting many hundreds of thousands of people in protest and many millions in outrage at his bigoted, right-wing actions since taking office.

But Trump’s right-wing admirers around the country have seized on a strategy to push back against mass protest–by criminalizing it. Lawmakers in multiple states are proposing measures explicitly designed to curtail dissent.

Nicole Colson is a reporter for Socialist Worker and a contributor to the International Socialist Review and CounterPunch. She frequently writes on civil liberties, the environment, women’s rights and culture. 

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Related:

'People Have the Right to Take to the Streets' Janine Jackson, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)

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Janine Jackson interviewed Mara Verheyden-Hilliard about the inauguration protests for the January 27, 2017, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.

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Florida Supreme Court: More than 200 death row inmates were given unconstitutional death sentences

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  • The court found that death sentences decided by a judge, not a jury, were unconstitutional. More than 200 inmates are affected by the ruling, which only applies to sentences imposed since 2002. That means more than half of the people on death row will get re-sentenced. 
  • Related: Another Botched Execution

Rene Stutzman and Gal Tziperman Lotan, Orlando (FL) Sentinel

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http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2009/01/11/opinion/justice190v.jpgDecember 22, 2016 | he Florida Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the state's death penalty was so flawed for so long that more than half of the people on death row may be entitled to new sentencing hearings.

That opinion, handed down in a pair of decisions Thursday, covers more than 200 inmates awaiting execution — and includes all of those who were sentenced after 2002 or whose appeals were not final by that year.

It is a legal decision that death row inmates, defense attorneys, prosecutors and the families of murder victims have awaited since January, when the U.S. Supreme Court found the state's death penalty unconstitutional.

Rene Stutzman and Gal Tziperman Lotan, Staff Writers, Orlando (FL) Sentinel 

Full story … 

Related:

Another Botched Execution, Martha Rosenberg, opednews.com

  • As the nation is horrified by another botched execution, a capital defense lawyer in Texas, legal scholar in New York and the former warden of San Quentin work against capital punishment.
  • Rachel Maddow's Harrowing Description Of Botched Arizona Execution
  • Cops Behaving Badly, June 28,2014

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