717 posts categorized "Public Safety"

September 25, 2014

"Why did you shoot me?"

Yet another example of (1) the boneheaded recklessness of some cops, and (2) the value of dash cams. The ghost of Oscar Grant, on the platform at Fruitvale Station, is in the room.

September 23, 2014

Philadelphia police wrapping up investigation into attack on gay couple

Aubrey Whelan and Mike Newall at The Philadelphia Inquirer report:

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said Monday that the department has concluded its investigation into a Center City assault that left a gay couple seriously injured - and that the District Attorney's Office is now reviewing the case.

"We feel that there is sufficient evidence to have charges placed against some of the individuals there," Ramsey said in an interview.

As prosecutors review differing accounts of the Sept. 11 incident, the case has spurred calls for changes to the state's hate-crime statute, which does not cover crimes motivated by sexual orientation.

On Monday, Ramsey also said he supports modifying the state law, which he said "needs to change, and change very quickly."

Ramsay is D.C.'s former police chief. He received GLAA's Distinguished Service Award from Frank Kameny in 2007.

September 11, 2014

13 years ago today

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(Photo courtesy U.S. Public Safety News & Events)

In lower Manhattan last night, a tribute in lights on the eve of today's 9/11 anniversary. Among the legacies of that awful day have been reckless military adventures abroad and threats to civil liberties here at home. Citizen, awake!

August 28, 2014

Colbert Report: Outrage in Ferguson

Jon Stewart on #Ferguson: Race/Off

Excessive Force

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(Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

My column this week discusses the police abuses and racial injustice exposed by a recent police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. Here's an excerpt:

When civil disorder followed the fatal shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, it was fueled by police aggression that exacerbated existing community mistrust.

Ferguson police, overwhelmingly white in a community two-thirds black, offered a case study in how not to handle lawful protests. While failing to release a proper incident report and initially withholding Wilson’s name, they put out information to imply Brown deserved his fate. Never mind the double standard whereby (say) gun-waving white radicals like Cliven Bundy in Nevada are spared deadly force.

As police innovated daily escalations (infringing First Amendment freedoms, firing tear gas and rubber bullets at reporters and peaceful protesters), community leaders including Alderman Antonio French urged restraint, blocked looters, and transmitted events on social media. Capt. Ron Johnson of the state highway patrol showed maturity by replacing riot gear with respectful community engagement, though events (and some headstrong officers) outflanked him.

Live tweets and subsequent reports reveal belligerent officers with a history of abuse. While demonstrators chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot,” outsiders instigated violence that gave police an excuse to “drop the hammer,” as SiriusXM radio host Mark Thompson put it. A Missouri GOP official called on-scene voter registration efforts “disgusting.” So pointing guns at protesters is not a provocation, but registering voters is?

Read the whole thing at Metro Weekly.

August 25, 2014

Michael Brown's funeral service

Video of Michael Brown's funeral service, held Monday at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis. May he rest in peace.

New Yorker cover: Ferguson, MO

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Beautiful New Yorker cover this week, by Eric Drooker. Hands up, don't shoot.

August 22, 2014

News outlets misgender Detroit shooting victims

Raw Story reports.

Oh dear lord.

August 19, 2014

Civil rights veteran marches in solidarity

Rep. John Lewis, renowned civil rights champion and veteran of the Freedom Rides and Bloody Sunday, marches in Atlanta to show solidarity with the peaceful protesters in Ferguson, Missouri.

Meanwhile in Ferguson, the protests are being infiltrated by violent outside agitators.

August 18, 2014

John Oliver on Ferguson, MO and Police Militarization

John Oliver nails it once again.

August 16, 2014

November 20 - Transgender Day of Remembrance

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Save the Date: Transgender Day of Remembrance 2014 takes place Thursday, November 20th.

(Hat tip: David Mariner)

Ferguson residents gather to stop looters

Jerry Markon, Wesley Lowery and DeNeen L. Brown report for The Washington Post.

FBI asks for help

Hands up

Video of Ferguson, Missouri on August 11, taken by Alderman Antonio French.

Man of the Week: Antonio French

"We're better than this." St. Louis Alderman @AntonioFrench (L) urges calm in the streets of Ferguson. Many protesters spent Friday night protecting stores from looters. Below is a message from one of his young supporters urging people to help protect the neighborhood tonight. Here we see an inspiring example of citizen leadership.

Mike Brown eyewitness crime scene video, Ferguson, MO

This chilling video was one of the first taken on the scene after a police officer killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown a week ago in Ferguson, Missouri. Imagine this was your street. Can you? Solving the problem may depend on it.

(Hat tip: Antonio French)

Suspected Looters

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Kinda sorta.

(Hat tip: Lauren Chief Elk - ‏@ChiefElk)

August 14, 2014

'All we say to America is be true to what you said on paper'

Tell it, Martin. Words from 46 years ago that are as apt as when he spoke them, the day before he was taken from us.

August 13, 2014

Sectarian Scavengers

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(Photo by Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons)

My latest column is now up at Metro Weekly. It is subtitled, "Amid war and plague, right-wing Americans export religious intolerance." Here's an excerpt:

In Entebbe on August 9, more than one hundred LGBT Ugandans celebrated the first Pride Uganda since the Constitutional Court overturned the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) for being passed without a quorum. Entebbe is on Lake Victoria, and the paradise suggested by some of the photos would not make you think the revelers risked mob violence, unless you noticed the masks some wore.

A British name for an African lake is a relic of the same colonial legacy that keeps homosexuality illegal despite AHA being tossed out. African leaders are strangely selective in their outrage over Western influences. They embrace foreign laws, religions, and aid while treating sexual minorities who have always lived among them like hostile aliens. American evangelicals like Scott Lively incited the persecution with the slander that gays recruit and sexually abuse children. This pious vulture denies any responsibility for the consequences, including LGBT Ugandans being hunted like animals.

Read the whole thing here.

August 12, 2014

Don't shoot

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NYT reports on the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri following the murder of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by police.

If you think that racial discrimination had nothing to do with it, check this out from the LA Times:

"Blacks make up 65% of Ferguson's population, yet they accounted for 93% of arrests after traffic stops, 92% of searches and 80% of traffic stops in the city last year, according to a racial profiling report by the Missouri attorney general.

"Blacks in Ferguson are twice as likely as whites to be stopped by police even though police find contraband for 34% of whites stopped, versus 22% of blacks, said Scott Decker, a criminologist on a team contracted by the attorney general's office to compile the data."

August 06, 2014

Gay reporter makes Archbishop Nienstedt squirm

Fox 9 reporter/anchor Tom Lyden, who is openly gay and in a long-term relationship, interviews Minneapolis-St. Paul Archbishop John Nienstedt. CityPages reports:

Fox 9 reporter/anchor Tom Lyden's interview with the archbishop was especially noteworthy. Lyden, who's married to a man he's been in a relationship with for more than two decades, grilled Nienstedt about his own sexuality and anti-gay views. The line of questioning culminated in the archbishop acknowledging that his beliefs about the sinfulness of same-sex sexual relations don't seemingly make much sense at all.

Click here for the 30-minute raw video of the interview.

August 04, 2014

R.I.P. James Brady

The video clip above was the first televised news bulletin of the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981, in which his press secretary, James Brady, received a head wound that would change his life forever. (When ABC News anchor Frank Reynolds gave the bulletin, it was not yet known that Reagan had been hit.) NYT reports on Brady's death earlier today:

James S. Brady, the White House press secretary who was wounded in an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan and then became a symbol of the fight for gun control, championing tighter regulations from his wheelchair, died on Monday in Alexandria, Va. He was 73.

His family confirmed the death but did not specify a cause.

On the rainy afternoon of March 30, 1981, Mr. Brady was struck in a hail of bullets fired by John W. Hinckley Jr., a mentally troubled college dropout who had hoped that shooting the president would impress the actress Jodie Foster, on whom he had a fixation. Mr. Hinckley raised his handgun as Reagan stepped out of a hotel in Washington after giving a speech.

I remember the date of those awful events at the Washington Hilton Hotel because it happened to be my twenty-fifth birthday. A few times in the years that followed, I encountered Jim and Sarah Brady at La Fonda Restaurant on 17th Street (which closed in the 1990s), where he would have to be assisted down the few stairs to the restaurant. They were gracious and unpretentious people, who became gun control advocates after Jim's debilitating injury from the assassination attempt. At this point, the prospects of any kind of gun control have never been more grim, with the nation held hostage by an astonishing level of ideological fervor over the need for guns and more guns. The Bradys tried to make a difference. Here's to both of them.

August 01, 2014

I Can't Breathe: a Broadway protest of the killing of Eric Garner

The Daily News today reports that the NYC Medical Examiner has ruled that Eric Garner was killed by a police chokehold, a restraining tactic that is still being used despite being long forbidden.

ANC commissioner accused of hate crime

Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Leo Dwyer, who represents my own single member district (ANC2B07), was arrested yesterday for a 3 a.m. incident at 17th and Corcoran Streets, in which he allegedly attacked a homeless man, threw his belongings into the street, and sprayed him with cleaning chemicals. Dwyer is a bartender at J.R.'s at 17th and Church Streets. More details will emerge in the next few days. But such an attack is shocking.

Homeless people are among the most harmless of people in my experience. And "there but for the grace of God go I" is the appropriate attitude about them, in my view. If one cannot help them or speak to them in a civil manner, one should just walk by. Dwyer has a couple of challengers for his ANC post, and this attack, if reports are accurate, will quickly end it for him.

July 31, 2014

Transgender girl stabbed on Metro train; culprit arrested

A transgender girl was stabbed on a Metro train in Fort Totten yesterday in an apparent hate crime. The suspect has been arrested. WTOP report here.

July 24, 2014

Radio Raheem And The Gentle Giant

Embedding of this video by Spike Lee is disabled, so you have to click on the link to view it.

Twenty-five years after Lee's Do the Right Thing portrayed the murderous use of a chokehold by NYPD officers, and long after the use of chokeholds was banned, the real-life Eric Garner was killed by an NYPD officer in the same manner. This is murder.

July 18, 2014

Calls for resignation mount for Minnesota archbishop in scandals

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Laurie Goodstein at NYT reports:

Just two years ago, the Roman Catholic archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis was making headlines as a leader in the battle against same-sex marriage. But for the last year and a half, the archbishop, John C. Nienstedt, has been battling to hold onto his post in the face of a series of scandals, which further deepened on Tuesday with the filing of an explosive affidavit by the former chancellor of the archdiocese.

Your Holiness, why does this man still have a job? Kindly stop apologizing and take action.

Déjà vu: NY father dies after police chokehold

25 years after Do the Right Thing, NYPD cops are still using the chokehold. The Root reports:

Witnesses say that Eric Garner was breaking up a fight when police approached him about selling untaxed cigarettes. A struggle ensued, a police chokehold was applied and moments later Garner was dead.

This is excessive, barbaric, and unacceptable. As Radio Rahim would say, ‪#‎fightthepower‬.

Mayor de Blasio vows a full investigation.

Obama: evidence suggests Russia-backed separatists downed Malaysia Airlines

Update: London-based Russia Today reporter Sara Firth has resigned in protest over the lies her employer demanded regarding the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. Good for her.

"The cure for AIDS may have been on that plane."


Nobel-winning French virologist Françoise Barré-Sinoussi expresses grief and loss over the crash of flight MH17.
(Video courtesy The Australian)

There have been reports that more than 100 of those aboard Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 were on their way to the World AIDS Conference in Melbourne. If so (and there have been conflicting reports), the crime of the downing of the commercial jetliner might also be devastating for AIDS research.

One of the passengers was eminent AIDS researcher Dr. Joep Lange, executive scientific director of the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development and former president of the International AIDS Society. Dr. Lange once said, "If we can get a cold can of Coke to any part of Africa, we can certainly deliver AIDS treatment." That remains true.

The Guardian reports that a team of OSCE inspectors was barred from the crash site by Russian-backed rebels:

The commander of the rebel unit, a man called Ilya who is known as Commander Glum, expressed annoyance as the OSCE team stood its ground, keen to access the scenes of carnage. 'OSCE came here without negotiating,' he shouted, as they prepared to leave...We didn’t agree to meet the OSCE here, go away,' he added, firing a warning shot. The five-strong convoy departed rapidly.
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(Photo courtesy The Guardian)

July 17, 2014

Trans sister of NBA star found dead in Baltimore

HuffPost reports on the murder of trans woman Mia Henderson in Baltimore early Wednesday morning.

The violence keeps happening. Condolences to Mia and her family, and may those responsible be found and brought to justice.

Meanwhile, Transgender Lobby Day was held on Capitol Hill Tuesday by the National Center for Transgender Equality and five other groups. The need for both cultural and political work on behalf of trans equality is all too apparent.

July 09, 2014

Washington Lawyers' Committee approves

Our friends at the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs tweeted today during the Judiciary Committee hearing on three bills. I testified for GLAA on two of them, including the bill to repeal Prostitution Free Zones. @WashLaw4CR liked what I had to say, including my statement about redlining during questioning.

GLAA testifies for repeal of Prostitution Free Zones

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(At witness table: Cyndee Clay, HIPS; Kishan Putta, ANC 2B; Maneka Sinha, Public Defender Service; Rick Rosendall, GLAA)

Today I testified for GLAA before the D.C. Council Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety on Bill 20-760, the Repeal of Prostitution Free Zones Amendment Act of 2014. I filled in for GLAA Secretary Saul Cruz, who was out sick. Below is my reading text. Full written testimony is here.

Good morning, Chairman Wells. I am Saul Cruz, Secretary of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, which was founded in 1971.

GLAA strongly supports repeal of Prostitution Free Zones, as we testified in 2012. We therefore thank Councilmembers David Grosso, David Catania, and Mary Cheh for introducing Bill 20-760, the "Repeal of Prostitution Free Zones Amendment Act of 2014."

The use of PFZs facilitates discriminatory profiling of transgender people. As our colleagues in the DC Trans Coalition note:

  1. The Attorney General has determined that PFZs cannot be defended in court and are likely unconstitutional.
  2. MPD suspended PFZ implementation and said it was working to rescind its PFZ general order.
  3. Eliminating PFZs is a step toward reducing violence against sex workers.
  4. PFZ repeal makes sense from a public health perspective.

In our written testimony we quote extensively from 2005 testimony by Stephen M. Block, then legislative counsel for ACLU of the Nation's Capital. I will not read those passages. I will just note that we include his many case law citations to emphasize that PFZs are not only ineffective and harmful, but unconstitutional.

Continue reading "GLAA testifies for repeal of Prostitution Free Zones" »

July 03, 2014

GLAA supports increasing Office of Police Complaints access to police information

On July 2, I testified for GLAA before the D.C. Council Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety on Bill 20-63, the "Police Monitoring Enhancement Amendment Act of 2013." Here is a portion:

We support Bill 20-63 with a requested change. The Police Monitoring Enhancement Amendment Act of 2013 would, as the summary says, "give the Office of Police Complaints access to information and supporting documentation of the covered law enforcement agencies to improve the monitoring and evaluation activities of the Police Complaints Board."

This proposed reform has been kicking around the Council for several years. We thank Chairman Mendelson and Councilmembers Cheh and Bowser for re-introducing it. However, when they introduced similar legislation in 2009, the City Paper reported that the bill specified that the board "shall have unfettered access to all information and supporting documentation of the covered law enforcement agencies...."

By contrast, the current bill refers to "reasonable access." The difference between "unfettered access" and "reasonable access" is the difference between real access and mere rhetoric about access. "Reasonable access" is a vague and slippery term that can mean anything and nothing. If our intent with the present bill is to enhance police accountability by granting OPC statutory access to information, that access should be clearly stated and not conveyed by ambiguous wording that effectively turns it from a requirement into a suggestion. We urge that you restore the bill's teeth by changing "reasonable" back to "unfettered."

Read the whole thing here. Police Chief Cathy Lanier is strongly opposed to the bill, which she hyperbolically said would endanger the public safety. Once again the Bad Cathy comes roaring back! I am sorry, but OPC needs unfettered access to the data in question to do its job. Chief Lanier is wrong. The Council should pass the bill.

Thanks to Monica Hopkins-Maxwell, the new Executive Director at ACLU of the Nation's Capital, who agrees with GLAA on this and who presented excellent testimony.

July 02, 2014

Twin Cities archbishop accused of child molestation

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(Photo: KARE)

Local news station KARE in Minneapolis/St. Paul reports:

Archbishop John Nienstedt, the head of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, has been accused of inappropriately touching a minor in 2009.

In light of the accusation, the Archbishop will step down from public ministry while the church and St. Paul Police investigate the incident. The accuser alleges Nienstedt touched his buttocks during a "public photo session" following a confirmation ceremony.

I am shocked, shocked to learn that a homophobic archbishop has been accused of such a thing.

June 19, 2014

Spate of anti-trans robberies hits Eastern Avenue corridor

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Police Chief Cathy Lanier posted the following Wednesday night on the MPD-SLU listserv:

Good evening,

I want to take this opportunity to share a recent pattern that has emerged in PSA 608, along the Eastern Avenue corridor and side streets. Between June 10th and June 18th, during the hours of 2:00 am and 6:00 am in the morning, with the exception of one, there have been five robberies in which the victims are all transgender. In each case the victim is approached by one or more suspects and demands are made for their purse. The descriptions of the subjects are not the same. There were guns displayed in at least two of the robberies and verbal threats were used in others. In the most recent robbery, on June 18th at 2:30 am, MPD arrested two juveniles and recovered the property that was stolen from the victim. At this time, we do not believe that these robberies are related as MPD has been provided varying descriptions by the victims.

If any member of the community has information related to these robberies, we are requesting that you contact MPD at 202-727-9099. Additionally anonymous information may be submitted to the department’s TEXT TIP LINE by test messaging 50411. We have also requested the support of our community advocates to provide outreach to the victims in these cases. The Sixth District is working with both MPD’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLU) and The Prince Georges County Police Department to enhance patrols and investigate these crimes.

Cathy L. Lanier
Chief of Police

June 12, 2014

Chief Lanier addresses town hall on police-trans issues

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The Blade reports:

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier told a transgender community town hall meeting Tuesday night that her department is moving quickly to implement recommendations by an independent task force on ways to improve police response to crimes targeting the transgender community.

Lanier, who was joined by nearly a dozen high-level police officials, including a captain and sergeant in charge of the police Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, said the overwhelming majority of officers are sensitive to the needs and concerns of transgender citizens.

May 07, 2014

Why Are So Many LGBT People and People Living with HIV Behind Bars?

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From the Center for American Progress, an interesting infographic and report that were the subject of a lunchtime panel today.

May 06, 2014

SPLC: Man Who Tried to Kill Hundreds at Gay Bar Pleads Guilty to Arson Only

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(Seattle police photo)

David Neiwert at Southern Poverty Law Center reports:

The man who tried to kill a crowd of 750 people packed inside a popular Seattle gay bar by setting it afire on New Year’s Eve has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of arson. Despite some evidence that he was motivated by hatred of LGBT people, Musab Mohammad Masmari will not face federal hate crime charges....

The plea agreement specifies that prosecutors will only seek a five-year prison sentence for the crime. However, prosecutors told KOMO-TV that the judge was free to ignore their recommendations and sentence Masmari to a prison term ranging up to 20 years.