737 posts categorized "Public Safety"

December 18, 2014

14-year-old exonerated, 70 years too late

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George Stinney, wrongly convicted and executed in 1944 at age 14 in South Carolina, was exonerated Wednesday by circuit court Judge Carmen Mullen. When he went to the electric chair, he was so small he had to sit on a phone book for the execution.

We do not have the knowledge of gods. There are too many people with motives to lie, to make false accusations, to seek out a scapegoat, to set an example. We should abolish the death penalty if only for this reason. It is good for Stinney's name to be cleared at long last; but his life was stolen. The sadness of this is beyond adequate expression.

December 16, 2014

Cleveland's Hawkins: 'A call for justice shouldn't warrant an apology'

Cleveland.com reports:

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins defended his wearing a "Justice for Tamir Rice" shirt during warm-ups before Sunday's game against the Bengals.

"My wearing of the T-shirt wasn't a stance against every police officer or every police department," Hawkins said. "My wearing of the T-shirt was a stance against wrong individuals doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason to innocent people."

Hawkins made the statement the day after Cleveland police union president Jeff Follmer called Hawkins' shirt "pathetic" and said Hawkins should stick to playing football.

Bravo, Mr. Hawkins.

December 15, 2014

Stop Corizon from running D.C. Jail healthcare

GLAA sent letters like this one to all D.C. Council members on Monday afternoon:



Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance
Fighting for equal rights since 1971
P.O. Box 75265, Washington, DC 20013


Monday, December 15, 2014

The Honorable Phil Mendelson, Chairman
Council of the District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20004

Dear Chairman Mendelson:

We urge you to vote against the Office of Contracting and Procurement's recommendation to award the new five-year D.C. Jail healthcare contract to Corizon, a for-profit company with a bad track record.

This is especially scary for people with HIV, transgender people, and anyone with mental health or medical issues. Quality mental healthcare during incarceration is important to successful reintegration into society.

Continue reading "Stop Corizon from running D.C. Jail healthcare" »

December 11, 2014

December 13 - #Justice4All march in DC

December 07, 2014

Season's Bleedings

My column this week is about a travesty of justice in the Michael Brown case in Missouri. Here is an excerpt:

What is the fuss about? Succinctly: A police officer who was more an occupier than a protector used deadly force to subdue a jaywalker, then prosecutors presented the case for his defense.

As protests sprang up across the nation and overseas last week, Wilson resigned from the force. St. Louis County police shut down a vigilante operation by the Oath Keepers militia. Twenty-year-old Deandre Joshua was murdered during the unrest on the night of November 24. When President Obama said after the grand jury announcement, "[T]here are still problems and communities of color aren't just making these problems up," reactions from the right would make you think he had torched a storefront.

Carlton Lee, Michael Brown Sr.'s pastor, received dozens of racist death threats in recent weeks, and his church, far from the riots, was burned down as he was off trying to keep the peace. Vowing to rebuild at a Sunday service beside the ruins, he urged love in response to the haters.

It is an old struggle....

Read the whole thing here.

Banned from a gay dads' group for raising Michael Brown

Activist Doug Kerr writes at HuffPost:

Watching the events unfold in the suburbs of St. Louis that night, however, I felt a tremendous anger rise up in me as a father. I decided to post a comment in the group about how angry I was and how scary it feels to raise a black son in this world today. There are thousands of other black and white gay families raising black kids, and on a night like this surely they must also be feeling rage, fear and despair.

First the thread was shut down, then he was expelled. Shaking my head.

November 30, 2014

Calling out Don Lemon

CNN's Don Lemon has been embarrassing a lot of us lately with his stupid comments on a number of topics. His comments this past week from Ferguson were too much for one Charles Wade. More on this here.

Tweets of the times

Season's Greetings

Darren Wilson resigns, no severance package

November 21, 2014

Trump, unclear about his antecedents

November 20, 2014

Trans women tell GLAAD their experiences

In honor of Trans Awareness Week and the Transgender Day of Remembrance, our friends at GLAAD have released this video.

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2014

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The Transgender Day of Remembrance is being observed today around the world, as we can see in the photo above tweeted by Pepe Julian Onziema in Uganda. The observance in Washington, D.C. is at the Metropolitan Community Church at 474 Ridge St NW. Here's the description from the Facebook event page:

Doors Open at 6:00 PM - Program will start closer to 7:00 PM

The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.

According to The Transgender Day of Remembrance Website:

"The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, an action that current media doesn't perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgender people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who've died by anti-transgender violence."

November 18, 2014

On Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby
(Photo by Evan Vucci, The Associated Press)

Bill Cosby has entertained generations of Americans with his comedy. He is an educator and has created memorable children's programming. His creation "Little Bill" always says "Hello friend" because that's what Ennis, his murdered son, always said. Cosby is a great philanthropist. One does not want to believe that such a beloved and respected figure is a serial rapist. But 14 alleged victims, one of whom he settled with out of court, coupled with his silence, make it hard to credit his lawyer's dismissals. Sadness is all over this; but the seriousness of the accusations raises troubling questions about wealth and fame putting someone above the law. I sure could have done without this news.

Here are several relevant items:

Update: A thoughtful essay from Katie McDonough at Salon.

'Dress for the job you have, not the job you want'

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What Mr. Oliver said. BTW, I want to meet the young man in that iconic August photo from Ferguson and tell him how awesome he is. He became John Lewis, Hosea Williams, and six hundred marchers in Selma, right there on W. Florissant. Awesome courage. And thank goodness photojournalists were there, also risking their lives to bring us the story.

November 14, 2014

Who are the real thugs?

November 03, 2014

D.C. lawyer Van Teasley murdered in Dominican Republic

Awful news today. D.C. Attorney Van Teasley, seen above in testimony from 2008 on the bias-related murder of Tony Randolph Hunter, was found bound, gagged, and strangled in his vacation home in the Dominican Republic.

GLOV Chair Paul Tupper writes:

It is with sadness that I share with you that a member of the GLOV family, Van Teasley, was found slain in his vacation apartment in the Dominican Republic on Friday. Rather than detail the circumstances of his death, which you can find online, I’m going to try to honor him by focusing on this contributions to GLOV and DC’s LGBT community.

In 2008, Van, a longtime Washington defense attorney, helped coordinate a candlelight vigil for Tony Randolph Hunter, a hate crime victim who eventually died from injuries suffered during his attack. Many of you may remember that the case sparked outrage in DC’s LGBT community because of how the case was investigated by the police and how it was handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The assailant was eventually offered a chance to plead guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge, for which he served the maximum sentence of six months in jail. During this time Van also joined GLOV leadership in testifying before the City Council at a Judiciary Public Hearing on Hate Crimes, articulating how such crimes and how they are often mishandled have long-lasting impacts on our community.

In full disclosure, I never met Van. But as I research him and his work with GLOV, it’s clear to me that his contributions continue to be the blueprint for which we advocate for DC’s vulnerable citizens. I understand he was much loved by many and won’t be soon forgotten. He will forever hold an important place in GLOV’s history. Please keep him and his loved ones in your thoughts during this very difficult time.

If you knew Van and would like to share stories about him, I invite you to do so on GLOV’s Facebook page.

We can take inspiration from Van's eloquent cry for justice on behalf of Tony Hunter. Whether justice can be obtained in his case remains to be seen. In the meantime, our hearts go out to his family and friends. That such hatred continues to kill us is a sobering reminder of the work that remains. Let us channel our outrage into conquering the hate, even if the lives we save are people we never know.

October 30, 2014

Woman who made video about catcalling is getting rape threats

This is very disturbing, even though you would have to be living under a rock to be surprised. Kelsey McKinney writes on Vox:

This video wasn't made for women facing harassment. It was made for men who remain blissfully unaware of how women are treated when they walk down the street. But instead of listening, instead of taking the time to realize how women might feel when men yell at them, these commenters — backed by their anonymity and privilege — have threatened to rape Roberts for daring to talk about it.

Let's lay this out in plain terms. Women are forced to feel uncomfortable and scared for walking down the damn street. Then, when one woman takes the time to show just how uncomfortable those interactions are, people threaten to physically assault her. If the video reminded us that women are constantly made to feel unsafe when they leave the house, the response is a reminder that women are constantly made to feel unsafe when they simply turn on their computer.

The problem here isn't just that men are ignorant of how women are treated. The problem is that many know exactly what they're doing to women, and will try to intimidate and silence women who try to fight back.

Harassment is not a compliment. It is easy to dismiss complaints of this kind of treatment if you are not routinely subjected to it. We need to check our privilege.

I was about to copy a tweet from @Hollaback, the producer of the video, but its Twitter account has been suspended. This appears to illustrate the reality of our misogynistic culture: Men who are called on their sexist and harassing behavior often react angrily and try to silence those who call them on it. Claims of fraud etc. are part of their arsenal. We are so far from done in pushing for equality. We need to defend our sisters.

Now this: Catcalling video edited out the white guys.

And this parody.

October 27, 2014

GLAA: racial disparities in police stops must end

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(Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

Today I will testify on behalf of GLAA at an oversight hearing of the D.C. Council Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety on the Metropolitan Police Department's stop and contact policies and procedures. In it I cite findings and recommendations by our allies in the ACLU and NAACP. Here is my conclusion:

In looking at citizen complaints of police practices, we keep coming back to disparities by geography, race, and class. This is unacceptable. As I wrote in 2012, "It is easier to make excuses for stopping and frisking if you are never targeted by police based on your skin color."

Not only police but citizens in all eight wards must face the inequities around us with open eyes. When the law is not enforced in a fair and equitable manner, we undermine respect for the law. The standard carved above the entrance to the Supreme Court, "Equal Justice Under Law," is more a mockery than a reality for all too many. Dr. King issued the challenge the day before he was struck down: "All we say to America is be true to what you said on paper." If his words continue to sting, perhaps it is because love of country is all too often an excuse for self-congratulation instead of a call to self-correction.

Read GLAA's full testimony here.

October 09, 2014

Civil Forfeiture

Introducing Law & Order: Civil Forfeiture Unit, starring Jeff Goldblum. This is funny, but the problem is real, and it is appallingly arbitrary and unjust. Police departments are enriching themselves simply by seizing people's cash during stops and keeping the money without charging the people with a crime, based on arbitrary and evidence-free claims like, "No one carries that much cash for an honest purpose."

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

Nov. 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.