Wednesday, January 7, 2009
A ministers' organization today called on elected officials to form a committee to study ways to combat rapidly increasing violence among Houston's African-American youth.
"We're going to scream from the rooftop" until elected officials respond by forming a committee to study the problem, said the Rev. Robert Jefferson, pastor of Cullen Missionary Baptist Church.
Jefferson, the director of special projects for Houston Ministers Against Crime, spoke at a news conference the group held a day after Police Chief Harold Hurtt called on local churches, schools, businesses and other organizations to join him in developing innovative ways of addressing an alarming increase in the number of Houston's young black men killing each other.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The report by Yale Law School professor Ian Ayres for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California found that once stopped, African Americans were 29% more likely to be arrested than whites. Latinos were 32% more likely to be arrested in an identical category.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Anthony Smith Jr. is black, poor and a native of Cleveland's East Side. So is Dontez Orr. Both are in their early 20s.
Each had a life-altering encounter with police two summers ago that grew from trivial events. Smith was jaywalking on East 65th Street near Fleet Avenue; Orr was driving south on Interstate 71 at night with an unlighted rear license plate.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 7, there have been 130 reported rapes in the city, compared with 94 over the same period last year, according to statistics presented at City Hall this week.
Police officials said they did not know what exactly is driving the numbers, but believe it is an increase in reports of acquaintance rapes, such as date rape.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
But two weeks before the Aug. 15 event, Robinson police detained Mr. Vielma and his brother, Alberto, both undocumented Mexican immigrants. They now face deportation.
The brothers were taken into police custody after an employee at Kohl's department store accused Alberto Vielma of shoplifting. He called Eduardo Vielma, who came to the store with his boss from nearby Pizza Milano.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Acknowledging that racial profiling exists among some LAPD officers but is almost impossible to prove, the Los Angeles Police Commission ordered the department on Tuesday to create a mediation process that allows citizens to confront cops they accuse of targeting them because of their race.
The commission also demanded that the independent inspector general audit the department's investigations into complaints of profiling - none of which has ever been found true.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
NEW YORK In the midst of being raped, Jennifer Thompson-Cannino told herself to pay attention to details that would allow her to identify her attacker.
She was able to give police in North Carolina a description that led to a sketch of the suspect. Then she identified a man from photographs, picked him out of a lineup and told jurors she was certain he was the rapist.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
The judge overseeing the criminal cases for the remaining Jena Six defendants was removed against his will Friday for making questionable remarks about the six black teenagers charged. They're accused of a December 2006 attack on a white high-school classmate in the central Louisiana town of Jena that led to widespread protests.
Judge J.P. Mauffray Jr. had acknowledged calling the teens "troublemakers" and "a violent bunch" but insisted he could be impartial. Judge Thomas M. Yeager, who was asked by defense attorneys to review the case, found there was an appearance of impropriety and took Mauffray off the case.
"The right to a fair and impartial judge is of particular importance in the present cases," Yeager wrote.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
LANCASTER, Calif. -- Male prisoners in the nation's largest corrections system, long kept segregated by race in an effort to temper violence, will soon be sharing cells with inmates of other ethnicities.
A program aimed at integrating California's prisons for men will begin in coming weeks at two facilities and will be extended to the state's 28 other penitentiaries over the next year or so, officials said.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Civil rights groups called Thursday for ending the state police practice of searching vehicles during routine traffic stops, citing new statistics that show black and Hispanic motorists are searched more often even though drugs or other illegal items turn up more frequently among white drivers.
In a letter to Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the groups said the state-funded research shows that minorities are unfairly singled out by police departments around the state. They called on him to order the Illinois State Police to end "consent searches," in which drivers agree to open their cars for inspection.
"Now we have the proof in the pudding and that is that not only are [these searches] occurring with greater frequency among minority drivers, but that they are occurring with dramatically less effectiveness," said Harvey Grossman, legal director for the ACLU of Illinois.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Hate crimes in Los Angeles County rose to their highest level in five years last year, led by attacks between Latinos and blacks, officials said Thursday.
The annual report by the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission showed hate crimes rose by 28%, to 763, with vandalism and assault leading the way.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
The UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination harshly criticized the US record on race after considering oral and written testimony submitted by the US government. In its conclusions issued today, the committee urged the US to rectify the “stark racial disparities” in criminal justice systems throughout the country.
Monday, May 19, 2008
More than two decades after President Ronald Reagan escalated the war on drugs, arrests for drug sales or, more often, drug possession are still rising. And despite public debate and limited efforts to reduce them, large disparities persist in the rate at which blacks and whites are arrested and imprisoned for drug offenses, even though the two races use illegal drugs at roughly equal rates.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
From the New York Times: About 1,100 people have been executed in the United States in the last three decades. Harris County, Tex., which includes Houston, accounts for more than 100 of those executions. Indeed, Harris County has sent more people to the death chamber than any state but Texas itself.
Yet Harris County’s capital justice system has not been the subject of intensive research — until now. A new study to be published in The Houston Law Review this fall has found two sorts of racial disparities in the administration of the death penalty there, one commonplace and one surprising.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
From NYTimes.com: In a slow-moving march that filled streets, spilled onto sidewalks and stretched for miles, more than 10,000 demonstrators rallied Thursday in this small town to protest the treatment of six black teenagers arrested in the beating of a white schoolmate last year.
Chanting slogans from the civil rights era and waving signs, protesters from around the nation converged in central Louisiana where the charges have made this otherwise anonymous town of 3,000 people a high-profile arena in the debate on racial bias in the judicial system.
“That’s not prosecution, that’s persecution,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson the founder of the RainbowPUSH Coalition and an organizer of the demonstration, told a crowd in front of the LaSalle Parish Courthouse. “We will not stop marching until justice runs down like waters.”
The Jena High School students, known as the Jena Six, are part of a court case that began in December, when they were accused of beating a white classmate unconscious and kicking him and a prosecutor charged them with attempted murder.
The beating was preceded by racially charged incidents at the high school, including nooses hanging from an oak tree that some students felt was just for white students. The tree has been cut down.
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Sunday, September 16, 2007
From USATODAY.com: The Philadelphia's embattled police chief, acknowledging that police alone cannot quell a run of deadly violence, has called on 10,000 black men to patrol the streets to reduce crime.
Sylvester Johnson, who is black, says black men have a duty to protect more vulnerable residents. He wants each volunteer to pledge to work three hours a day for at least 90 days.
"It's time for African-American men to stand up," Johnson told the Philadelphia Daily News, which first reported the story Wednesday. "We have an obligation to protect our women, our children and our elderly. We're going to put men on the street. We're going to train them in conflict resolution."
The program's backers include Dennis Muhammad, a former Nation of Islam official who has been hired by police departments in Detroit, Syracuse, N.Y., and other cities to conduct community-sensitivity training.
Philadelphia, the nation's sixth-largest city, has nearly 1.5 million residents, 44 percent of them black. It has notched 294 homicides this year. More than 80 percent of the slayings involve handguns, and most involve young black males. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
NYTimes.com: Authorities decided Wednesday not to pursue hate crime charges in the kidnapping and weeklong torture of a black woman, instead going after the suspects, who are white, on state charges that carry stiffer penalties.
While federal civil rights or state hate crime charges remain an option, a state kidnapping count that carries a sentence of up to life in prison will provide the best chance for successful prosecution, officials said.
''As a practical matter, sentenced to life, what else can be done?'' U.S. Attorney Charles T. Miller told The Associated Press.
Six people face charges, including kidnapping, sexual assault and lying to police in the torture of Megan Williams, 20, at a remote hillside home in Big Creek.
State hate crime charges, which carry a sentence of 10 years, could come later, prosecutor Brian Abraham said. State sexual assault charges carry a penalty up to 35 years in prison.
The woman's captors forced her to eat rat droppings, choked her with a cable cord and stabbed her in the leg while calling her a racial slur, according to criminal complaints. They also poured hot water over her, made her drink from a toilet, and beat and sexually assaulted her during a span of about a week, the documents say.
Williams was not a random target, prosecutor Brian Abraham said Wednesday. She had a ''social relationship'' with one of the suspects, he said. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Saturday, September 8, 2007
From nj.com: A court-appointed team monitoring the New Jersey Police's efforts to end racial profiling found the agency appears "to have reached a watershed moment" by correcting questionable tactics used during motor vehicle stops.
With the monitor's latest report, issued yesterday, Gov. Jon Corzine said "it's very close to the time" when he will ask a federal court to end oversight of the State Police that began in the wake of a 1998 shooting on the New Jersey Turnpike when two state troopers stopped a van carrying four minority men and riddled it with bullets. Three passengers in the van were seriously wounded and the event triggered a national debate on racial profiling. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
From boston.com: Activists are questioning why violent tragedies in urban centers like Hartford don't get the same media and government attention that has surrounded the recent slayings of a Cheshire mother and her daughters.
The Rev. Cornell Lewis, a Hartford minister, said yesterday that Republican Governor M. Jodi Rell's response to urban violence has been "slow as molasses."
Rell called for a review of the state's criminal justice system soon after the July 23 burglary and arson in suburban Cheshire. The crime left Jennifer Hawke-Petit and daughters Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, dead.
State legislators also called for an investigation of the state's parole system after learning that the two suspects in the Petit killings were parolees. Lewis said similar responses are needed when young people die in Connecticut's inner cities. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]