Tag Archives | Civil Rights

Want to Record The Cops? Know Your Rights

There are some very disturbing videos circulating the Internet right now, depicting the deaths of unarmed civilians at the hands of trained, armed men. Many of these videos even show individuals being shot in the back, or as they try to flee.

Pittsburgh G20 Summit Protests -  514

These are videos of police officers in America killing unarmed black men like Oscar Grant and Eric Garner. And, as the most recent case shows, without these recordings, much of America might not have any idea exactly how much of a problem this is.

Citizen videos of law enforcement encounters are more valuable than ever. And for those who are wondering—it is legal to record the police.

The police don’t always seem aware of this. There have been incidents across the country of police telling people to stop filming, and sometimes seizing their camera or smartphone, or even arresting them, when they don’t comply.

In the most recent citizen-filmed incident to gain widespread media attention, on April 4, white police officer Michael Slager shot and killed 50-year-old black man Walter Scott in the back as he ran away in North Charleston, South Carolina. … Read the rest

Continue Reading

The Woman Who Tried To Murder Dr. King

izolaheadshot

William Bastone, Andrew Goldberg, and Joseph Jesselli write at The Smoking Gun:

On the eighth floor of a nursing home in Queens, New York, a 98-year-old woman sits slumped in a wheelchair in the hallway outside her room. She is sleeping, oblivious to the roar coming from the television of her next-door neighbor, who is watching “The Price is Right” at an ear-piercing volume.

Though the corridor is uncomfortably toasty on this July morning, the woman has a knitted shawl over her shoulders. She is wearing green sweatpants, a green t-shirt, and black shoes with Velcro closures. The remaining wisps of her hair are gray and tangled. In her clenched left hand is a wad of tissues that she will use to absent-mindedly dab at her face and rheumy eyes.

As she naps in the hallway, it is hard to imagine that frail Izola Curry was once a would-be assassin, a woman who nearly changed the course of U.S.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Government Agents ‘Directly Involved’ in Most High-Profile US Terror Plots

Watertown FBI raid - agent entering house

Tim Pierce (CC BY 2.0)

We’re shocked, just plain shocked, that the FBI and other US law enforcement agencies “targeted American Muslims in abusive counterterrorism ‘sting operations’ based on religious and ethnic identity,” per Human Rights Watch. From The Guardian:

Nearly all of the highest-profile domestic terrorism plots in the United States since 9/11 featured the “direct involvement” of government agents or informants, a new report says.

Some of the controversial “sting” operations “were proposed or led by informants”, bordering on entrapment by law enforcement. Yet the courtroom obstacles to proving entrapment are significant, one of the reasons the stings persist.

The lengthy report, released on Monday by Human Rights Watch, raises questions about the US criminal justice system’s ability to respect civil rights and due process in post-9/11 terrorism cases. It portrays a system that features not just the sting operations but secret evidence, anonymous juries, extensive pretrial detentions and convictions significantly removed from actual plots.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Far Above Cayuga’s Waters: Cornell Reprises Race At The Big Reunion Weekend

Cornell University SlopeIthaca, New York: How can you be in the past and present at the same time?

Go to your college reunion.

I did, this past weekend, up on the forever beautiful and very green Cornell campus in Ithaca, New York. About 350 members of a class of 2400 trekked back to remember how we were, and to see how the ravages of age and affluence have affected us. I probably hadn’t bonded with as many fellow students because I was an independent, and not in a fraternity or athletic team. I was an early responder to activism.

We also had a moving memorial for more than a hundred, of the fallen, including my late friends Bernie Moss, Daniel Patrick Cassidy and Robin Williams. My co-editor Kenneth Barry Rubin of Dialogue Magazine was not on the list because he had dropped out earlier.

There were many people there I didn’t know then, and perhaps didn’t want to know, but I did run into some old friends and was thrust back into discussions of the racial /civil rights issues that mobilized us to care in our college years, and still top the list of the University’s and the country’s unfinished business.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

The Next Civil Rights Issue: Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet

"The Troll King and the Princess"

“The Troll King and the Princess” (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (PD)

The internet can be a damn caustic place, especially for women. From disgusting comments, to threats, stalking and more.

via Pacific Standard

I was 12 hours into a summer vacation in Palm Springs when my phone hummed to life, buzzing twice next to me in the dark of my hotel room. I squinted at the screen. It was 5:30 a.m., and a friend was texting me from the opposite coast. “Amanda, this twitter account. Freaking out over here,” she wrote. “There is a twitter account that seems to have been set up for the purpose of making death threats to you.”

I dragged myself out of bed and opened my laptop. A few hours earlier, someone going by the username “headlessfemalepig” had sent me seven tweets. “I see you are physically not very attractive. Figured,” the first said. Then: “You suck a lot of drunk and drug fucked guys cocks.” As a female journalist who writes about sex (among other things), none of this feedback was particularly out of the ordinary.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Republicans Now Seeking To Prevent Women From Voting

votersIt’s no longer just about minorities, the poor, and college students; introducing the next target for disenfranchisement. The New Civil Rights Movement notes that Republicans in Texas (and a number of other states) have now devised and passed new voter ID laws that will render a large fraction of female voters, but not male voters, ineligible to vote:

As of November 5, Texans must show a photo ID with their up-to-date legal name. Only 66% of voting age women have ready access to a photo document that will attest to proof of citizenship. This is largely because women have not updated their documents with their married names. Suddenly 34% of women voters are scrambling for an acceptable ID, while 99% of men are home free.

A birth certificate is not enough. Women voters will have to show legal proof of a name change: a marriage license, a divorce decree, or court ordered change; and they have to be the original documents.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Supreme Court Strikes Down Key Portion Of Voting Rights Act

voting rights actThe Supreme Court giveth some rights, and taketh others away. The Los Angeles Times reports:

A sharply divided Supreme Court has struck down a key part of the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965, freeing the Southern states from federal oversight of their election laws and setting off a fierce reaction from civil rights advocates and Democratic leaders.

The court’s conservative majority moved boldly Tuesday to rein in a law revered by civil rights groups that is credited with transforming the South by ensuring blacks could register and vote. In doing so, the court eliminated a tool that the Justice Department used hundreds of times to prevent cities, counties and states from adopting allegedly discriminatory voting rules.

Speaking for a 5-4 majority, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. pronounced the Voting Rights Act’s pre-clearance process a “resounding success” — and then declared it unconstitutional. The decision is likely to be felt in small towns and cities across the South, legal experts said.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Why You Should Never Speak To The FBI Without A Lawyer Present

From the ACLU of Massachusetts comes words of wisdom from civil rights lawyer Harvey Silverglate, who explains quickly and clearly why activists (or anyone else) should never have a conversation with an FBI agent without a lawyer and tape recorder present. The reason? Because the FBI is capable of blackmailing almost anyone into becoming an informant:
Learn how the FBI can manipulate what you say and use it against you, and how to prevent them from doing so! With civil liberties and civil rights attorney Harvey Silverglate.
Continue Reading

China Releases Its 2012 Report On Human Rights In The United States

human rightsIt may be a bit ludicrous for the Chinese government to criticize other nations over human rights, but that doesn’t mean that their observations are wrong.

Via China Daily, excerpts from the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China’s report titled “Human Rights Record of the United States in 2012,” released a week ago:

The State Department of the United States recently released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012, posing as “the world judge of human rights” again. However, the U.S. turned a blind eye to its own woeful human rights situation and never said a word about it.

In the U.S., elections could not fully embody the real will of its citizens. Political contributions had, to a great extent, influenced the electoral procedures and policy direction. During the 2012 presidential election, the voter turnout was only 57.5 percent.

The U.S. has become one of the developed countries with the greatest income gap.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

ACLU Uncovers Illegal Debtors’ Prisons Across Ohio

debtors' prison

Despite being blatantly unconstitutional, citizens are commonly being jailed for their inability to pay tickets and fines, wreaking havoc on people’s lives (and costing the state far greater sums than the unpaid tickets), ACLU Ohio reveals:

The resurgence of contemporary debtors’ prisons sits squarely at this intersection of poverty and criminal justice. In towns across the state, thousands of people face the looming specter of incarceration every day, simply because they are poor.

For Ohio’s poor and working poor, an unaffordable traffic ticket or fine is just the beginning of a protracted process that may involve contempt charges, mounting fees, arrest warrants, and even jail time. The stark reality is that, in 2013, Ohioans are being repeatedly jailed simply for being too poor to pay fines.

The U.S. Constitution, the Ohio Constitution, and Ohio Revised Code all prohibit debtors’ prisons. The law requires that, before jailing anyone for unpaid fines, courts must determine whether an individual is too poor to pay.

Read the rest
Continue Reading