Has the Right Finally Repealed the Civil Rights Act? | truthdig

The 45 million African-Americans in the United States are unequal before the law vis-a-vis European-Americans and becoming moreso.  In the age of Jim Crow (the white South’s attempt to prevent them from having the full rights of citizens after their emancipation from slavery), African-Americans often were denied the right to vote and were subject to arbitrary, summary judgement and even lynchings.  They could not so much as drink from the same water fountain as European-Americans.

Although segregated drinking fountains haven’t reappeared, in many ways the right wing in the United States has largely undone the advances of the 1965 voting rights act. [Read more]

From nightsticks to night vision: see what your local police are packing | The Verge

Police in the United States share little with their early American predecessors in all dimensions: technological, procedural, and political. When the union was still young, the professional police forces we know today didn’t exist. Instead, police were paid and hired more like freelancers in their local communities. Americans inherited community policing practices from England, where law enforcement powers were imbued in the people.

While political and social forces have shaped how police look and act today, technology has driven many of the major changes over time. And it’s not just military uniforms and big guns; information technology, like the 911 system, have widened the rift between the police and the communities they serve. In a 1990 opinion from The New York Times, the editorial board wrote that the “tyranny of 911″ contributed to a deteriorating relationship between police forces and the public. “The 911 system forces police into a reactive posture,” the Times wrote, “rolling in after a crime occurs to take information that might or might not lead to an arrest.” [Read more]

Ferguson is Everytown, U.S.A. | ACLU

The tragic killing of college-bound teenager Michael Brown has raised questions about the frequency with which police kill unarmed black men in America. The answer, unfortunately, is far too often.

Just three months ago, on a warm April afternoon, a white police officer shot and killed Dontre Hamilton, a 31-year-old black man, in downtown Milwaukee’s Red Arrow Park. According to the Milwaukee police chief, the officer was “defending himself in a violent situation.” But the eyewitness report of a Starbucks barista paints a very different picture. [Read more]

Demand that Cops Stop Acting Like Soldiers. Plus: How to Help in Ferguson | The Nation

When residents of Ferguson, Missouri, took to the streets to protest the killing of teenager Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson, they were met with assault weapons, armored vehicles, tear gas and police decked out in full riot-gear. A community already suffering the loss of one of its own found their town occupied by what appeared to be a paramilitary force.

If the police looked ready to fight a war, it’s because that’s what their equipment was designed for. Much of it came courtesy of the Department of Defense’s 1033 program, which sends “surplus military equipment” to police departments. Since 1033 was introduced in the late 1990s, the federal government has sent $4.3 billion worth of military hardware to local and state police forces. The program has a particularly brutal effect on communities of color, as it is used primarily to execute the disastrous and racist “war on drugs.” While the images in Ferguson have just recently become familiar to many, police have long used SWAT teams outfitted in military gear to serve warrants for arrests for minor drug crimes, terrorizing whole communities and sometimes injuring or even killing people in the process. [Read more]

Ferguson police will keep arresting reporters | Politico

Police in Ferguson, Missouri, are continuing to arrest journalists and have said that they will continue to do so because of safety concerns, despite condemnation from media organizations that say such detentions are unwarranted.

On Monday, in a night that saw two protesters shot and 31 people arrested, police detained at least two reporters. Getty Images staff photographer Scott Olson, who has taken some of the most iconic photos of the unrest in Ferguson, was arrested and released shortly thereafter. Intercept reporter Ryan Devereaux was shot at with beanbags and spent the night in jail. He was released Tuesday morning without charges. Sports Illustrated’s Robert Klemko, Financial Times’ Neil Munshi and The Telegraph’s Rob Crilly were also briefly detained by police on Sunday. [Read more]

The real looting of Ferguson: its black citizens never had a chance to get by | The Guardian

The symptoms of structural racism stain America everywhere, but its execution is particularly perverse in places like Ferguson. It’s not just that black drivers are stopped more often for alleged crimes than white drivers, despite the Missouri attorney general’s report that white people break the law more often. It’s not that Ferguson’s police force is 94% white in a town that’s two-thirds black. It’s not even, as Jeff Smith wrote in Monday’s New York Times, that black people – many unemployed – “do more to fund local government than relatively affluent whites” by way of those stops and the subsequent fines.

The real perversion of justice by way of modern American racism is that black people in Ferguson – like black people in the greater St Louis metropolitan area and nationally – are marginalized economically and physically from day one. That is the real looting of Ferguson. [Read more]

Klan heading to Ferguson to ‘guard white businesses,’ back shooting of ‘n*gger criminal’ | The Raw Story

Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members from three different states are reportedly traveling to Ohio to hold a two-day fundraiser for the officer who shot unarmed teen Michael Brown, and to “guard white businesses.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) first reported last week that that the New Empire Knights of the Ku Klux Klan had begun raising money in support of the Ferguson police officer who killed Brown. [Read more]

The Ugly Smearing of Michael Brown | The Daily Beast

In the days since the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, there has been some good reporting on the ground in Ferguson, Missouri—and a heavy dose of unsubstantiated allegations against the unarmed teenager.

Brown’s August 9 killing sparked days of tense demonstrations in the town, with police firing tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters, stores looted, at least one business set on fire. On Thursday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon removed local police from the protests, and the Missouri Highway Patrol took control in the St. Louis suburb. Then, Friday, police finally released the name of the officer who shot Brown, Darren Wilson, along with a report indicating that Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson were suspects in a convenience-store robbery shortly before the shooting. (Johnson’s lawyer confirmed to MSNBC that Brown had taken cigars from the store.) [Read more]

Police Officer Threatens To Shoot Reporter Live-Streaming Protests In Ferguson | thinkprogress

Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Ferguson on Sunday night. The situation quickly spiraled out of control when police fired tear gas into the crowd well before the midnight curfew. It’s unclear what prompted the police action.

Capturing the dramatic events for the world was Mustafa Hussein, a student who works at a local all-volunteer music station, Argus Radio. The station is using video equipment it purchased to live-stream concerts to broadcast the protests in Ferguson. [Read more]

America’s new racial low point: More crying black mothers, and tear gas on our dreams | Salon

Six bullets. More than I can count on one hand. That is how many times preliminary autopsy reports indicate that Michael Brown was shot. Nothing about the youthful infraction of strolling down the middle of a residential street in one’s own neighborhood justifies having your life ripped away from you by an irate officer firing six bullets as you face him, hands up in surrender.

I cannot even fathom what Mike, “Big Mike” as his friends call him, felt as each of those bullets entered his flesh. I do know a little of the rage, despair, helplessness and hopelessness that black communities have been left to feel in the aftermath of his death. I know he stayed conscious long enough to put his hands up, to try and surrender, as if to say, “I want to live. Please don’t kill me.” [Read more]

What Should Protesters Be Demanding in #Ferguson? | Slate

But when you read down the page, you can be excused if you don’t know what the protesters want. The people who gathered in Tahrir Square in 2011 wanted Mubarak to go. The people who gathered outside the Capitol in April 2010 wanted Congress to vote down the Affordable Care Act.

What do the people in Ferguson want? We have some ideas, but they’re not leading the coverage and they’re not shared by the protesters. The front page of this paper gives us an update on Mike Brown’s autopsy, on school closures, on how the protests are “embod[ying] conflict for viewers around the world,” and on injuries sustained in the protests. In an editorial, the newspaper calls for “leaders” to “emerge” and “communicate clearly, among themselves, among each other and to the public,” until the unrest can end. It’s echoing the sentiments in this Julie Bosman report, which finds protesters and would-be community leaders squabbling and directionless. [Read more]

The Murder of Black Youth Is a Reproductive Justice Issue | The Nation

If you have followed the aftermath of the August 9 killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown, then you have most likely seen the image of his stepfather holding a makeshift cardboard sign that reads, “Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son!!!” You have likely seen the photo of Brown’s mother staring into the camera, her husband encircling her neck with his arm, her eyes swollen to slits after what must have been hours of crying and asking questions that went unanswered.

The grief-stricken face of the parent is everywhere in moments like this, these too frequent moments when a young person loses his or her life to the senseless, ceaseless fear and hatred that black bodies arouse. It seems to matter little what that body is doing at the time it’s mowed down. Approaching a stranger’s porch to ask for help, listening to music with friends, walking home from the corner store—no activity is safe from the knee jerk responses set off by racial hatred or implicit bias. Whatever the preceding action, a human being is dead and his or her parents are left to convince the public and the courts that their offspring had a right to expect another day on earth. [Read more]

Itemizing Atrocity | truthout

According to the Economist, “America’s police have become too militarized.” Not to be outdone, Business Insider published an article by Paul Szoldra, a former US marine who professed to be aghast at the scenes of camouflage-wearing, military-weapon-toting police officers patrolling the streets of an American city  in armored vehicles. Szoldra quotes one of his Twitter followers, another former soldier, who wrote: “We rolled lighter than that in an actual warzone.”

Some may be surprised to see such stories run in magazines like the Economist and Business Insider, but suddenly discussions about America’s militarized police forces are semi-mainstream. In the wake of the police killing of African-American teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the subsequent riots and protests, social media is littered with images of tear gas, tanks, and police in military gear with automatic weapons — all aimed at black people in the city. [Read more]

How black America and white America see the Ferguson shooting, charted | quartz

The protests that have been going on for the past week in Ferguson, Missouri, after black teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer, have brought back to light the racial tensions that still exist in the US. A new study by the Pew Research Center confirms that even our consumption of news about the shooting and the demonstrations, and our reactions to it, are divided along racial lines.

According to Pew’s research, while 80% of black Americans believe that the shooting “raises important issues about race,” only 37% whites feel similarly, while 47% of them think race does not deserve as much attention as it’s getting. [Read more]

Obama says it is ‘probably useful’ for US to review police militarization after Ferguson | The Verge

President Obama today gave his longest and most detailed statements about the weeklong clashes between protesters and heavily armed police in Ferguson, Missouri, saying he was open to the idea of reviewing the collection of federal programs that supply local police departments with surplus military gear. “I think it’s probably useful for us to review how the funding has gone, how local law enforcement has used grant dollars, to make sure that what they’re purchasing is stuff they actually need,” a visibly tired Obama said at a White House press conference this afternoon, after cutting his vacation short to return to Washington, DC.

The president also sought to defend the police response to some extent, saying “it’s clear that the vast majority of people are peacefully protesting. What’s also clear is that a small minority of individuals are not,” in reference to looting of several stores in Ferguson and reports that Molotov cocktails were thrown at police. [Read more]

Tear-gassing cops’ new opponent: Why Gun Owners of America wants reform | Salon

Last Wednesday night may have marked a shift in U.S. policymaking attitudes. As the police in Ferguson, Missouri, just straight-up started arresting and tear-gassing and pointing their snipers and death tanks at everyone, all while wearing unnecessary and some might say counterintuitive tuff guy jungle-camo outfits, the nation seemed to collectively realize that this was insane. Why are suburban police departments armed to duel with Megatron in situations where they’re supposed to be “keeping the peace”?

It, of course, wasn’t the first instance of the growing trend of police militarization – wherein local police departments are outfitted with hand-me-down goodies procured by the Defense Department, allowing the friendly local constable to warp into an expensive murder-robot sent on a mission to exterminate the scourge of jaywalkers. But the scene in Ferguson caught the public’s eye to such an extent that politicians and officials — the president, the attorney general, the speaker of the House, the Senate majority leader, Missouri politicians, and de facto libertarian leaders felt compelled to weigh in. [Read more]

This Is The Most Important Reform Ferguson Can Enact To Give Its Black Residents A Voice | thinkprogress

If you compared the racial makeup of Ferguson, Missouri’s population as a whole to that of its government, it would be easy to mistake the city for an enclave of Jim Crow. Although nearly 70 percent of Ferguson is black, 50 of its 53 police officers are white. So are five of Ferguson’s six city council members. The mayor, James Knowles, is a white Republican.

Ferguson can help ensure that its leaders more closely resemble its population, however. They just need to hold their elections at a time when voters are actually likely to show up. [Read more]


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