What’s Happening In Baltimore Didn’t Just Start With Freddie Gray

By Simon McCormack, the Huffington Post

This week’s chaos on the streets of Baltimore has been decades in the making.

An officer stands near a blaze on April 27, 2015.

An officer stands near a blaze on April 27, 2015.

Violence erupted in the city on Monday after days of largely peaceful protests over the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who recently died of injuries he sustained while in police custody. But Gray’s death was just the latest point on a timeline stretching back generations, one that encompasses all manner of racial inequity and human indignity.

On April 6, 1968, just two days after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., riots broke out in Baltimore. When the dust settled on April 7, three people were dead, 70 were injured and more than 100 had been arrested, and numerous buildings were burned and destroyed,according to Baltimore magazine.

The Maryland Crime Investigating Commission Report of the Baltimore Civil Disturbance of April 6 to April 11, 1968 later summed up the event in a few sentences that could have easily been written yesterday: “…Our investigation arrives at the clear conclusion that the riot in Baltimore must be attributed to two elements — ‘white racism’ and economic oppression of the Negro…”

The decade following the riots saw significant white flight from Baltimore, as factory jobs in the Rust Belt city dried up. The city lost more than 100,000 manufacturing jobs between 1950 and 1995… they left behind a shrunken tax base and an enervated local economy.

As factory jobs moved overseas, most of the opportunities for employment that replaced them did not pay very well. A 2012 Brookings study found that jobs in low-paying industries like food service grew by more than 60 percent in Baltimore from 1980 to 2007…

In addition to all this, residents of the neighborhood must contend with disproportionate levels of deadly violence. People who live in Sandtown-Winchester and the adjacent Harlem Park neighborhood are “more than twice as likely to be killed than residents of Baltimore overall,” Slate found.

And civilian violence isn’t the only kind rendering these streets unsafe. Between 2011 and September 2014, the city of Baltimore shelled out $5.7 million to cover police brutality lawsuits, according to a Baltimore Sun investigation.

Faced with intractable poverty, high rates of deadly violence and a “poison” relationship between citizens and the police, it’s perhaps not surprising if many Baltimore residents feel like Pierre Thomas, 37, a protester who told NPR this week that calls for “peace” only come when the powerful feel threatened.

“Where was the peace when we were getting shot? Where’s the peace when we were getting laid out? Where is the peace when we are in the back of ambulances? Where is the peace then?” Thomas said. “They don’t want to call for peace then. But you know when people really want peace? When the white people have to get out of bed, when cops have to wear riot gear, when the cops start talking about, oh we got broken arms. Then they want peace.”

“Peace?” Thomas went on. “It’s too late for peace.”

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Loretta Lynch Sworn In As U.S. Attorney General

By Jennifer Bendery, the Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — Loretta Lynch was sworn in as U.S. attorney general on Monday, becoming the first African-American woman to fill the position.


“It seems like such an understatement to say my heart is full, but it is,” Lynch said. “I have to thank the president for his faith in me and asking me to lead the department that I love to even greater heights.”

Lynch, who until now was U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, was confirmed by the Senate last week after months of GOP delays. Many Republicans voted against her confirmation, not because she lacks the qualifications but because they are mad about President Barack Obama’s recent executive action on immigration. Lynch will defend the action in her new role.

During her remarks Monday, Lynch ticked off some of her priorities as attorney general: fighting crime, strengthening victims’ rights, combating cyberattacks and ending the modern “slavery” of sex trafficking…

“The challenge,” Lynch said, ” for you, for me, for all us that love this department and love the law, is to use the law to that end. To not just represent the law and to enforce the law, but to use it to make real the promise of America, the promise of fairness, the promise of equality, of liberty and justice for all.”

Lynch added, “If a little girl from North Carolina who used to tell her grandfather in the fields to lift her up on the back of his mule so she could see way up high, Granddaddy, can grow up to become the chief law enforcement officer of the United States of America, we can do anything.”

Vice President Joe Biden swore in Lynch during a ceremony at the Justice Department. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), one of her strongest proponents in the Senate, was also in attendance…

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Thousands dead, few prosecuted

By Kimberly Kindy and Kimbriell Kelly, the Washington Post 

Among the thousands of fatal shootings at the hands of police since 2005, only 54 officers have been charged, a Post analysis found. Most were cleared or acquitted in the cases that have been resolved.

Chevy Malibu riddled with bullets by Cleveland police after a chase. The unarmed couple inside were killed. Officer Michael Brelo, who fired 34 shots at the vehicle and then climbed on the hood to fire 15 more through the windshield, has been charged with 2 counts of voluntry manslaughter.

Chevy Malibu riddled with bullets by Cleveland police after a chase. The unarmed couple inside were killed. Officer Michael Brelo, who fired 34 shots at the vehicle and then climbed on the hood to fire 15 more through the windshield, has been charged with 2 counts of voluntry manslaughter.

…Some 54 officers were charged over the past decade for fatally shooting someone while on duty, according to an analysis by The Washington Post and researchers at Bowling Green State University. This analysis, based on a wide range of public records and interviews with law enforcement, judicial and other legal experts, sought to identify for the first time every officer who faced charges­ for such shootings since 2005. These represent a small fraction of the thousands of fatal police shootings that have occurred across the country in that time.

In an overwhelming majority of the cases where an officer was charged, the person killed was unarmed. But it usually took more than that.

When prosecutors pressed charges, The Post analysis found, there were typically other factors that made the case exceptional, including: a victim shot in the back, a video recording of the incident, incriminating testimony from other officers or allegations of a coverup.

Forty-three cases involved at least one of these four factors. Nineteen cases involved at least two…

But even in these most extreme instances, the majority of the officers whose cases have been resolved have not been convicted, The Post analysis found.

And when they are convicted or plead guilty, they’ve tended to get little time behind bars, on average four years and sometimes only weeks. Jurors are very reluctant to punish police officers, tending to view them as guardians of order, according to prosecutors and defense lawyers…

Among the officers charged since 2005 for fatal shootings, more than three-quarters were white. Two-thirds of their victims were minorities, all but two of them black…


Most of the time, prosecutors don’t press charges against police — even if there are strong suspicions that an officer has committed a crime. Prosecutors interviewed for this report say it takes compelling proof that at the time of the shooting the victim posed no threat either to the officer or to bystanders…

In a third of the cases­ where officers faced charges, prosecutors introduced videos into evidence, saying they showed the slain suspects had posed no threat at the moment they were killed. The videos were often shot from cameras mounted on the dashboards of patrol cars, standard equipment for most police departments…

Stinson, a Bowling Green criminologist, said it is often the case that questionable police shootings are an act of passion. Sometimes, he said, the encounters start with something as simple as a traffic stop and escalate when someone fails to obey the officer’s directions…

Of the 54 officers who were charged for fatally shooting someone while on duty over the past decade, 35 have had their cases resolved. Of those, a majority — 21 officers — were acquitted or saw their charges dropped…

As hard as it is for prosecutors to win a conviction or an admission of guilt, it’s even harder to persuade a judge or jury to give an officer significant prison time.

For the nine officers convicted in state prosecutions, sentences ranged from six months to seven years, The Post analysis shows. One of the other cases, the shooting death of the 92-year-old woman in Atlanta, was taken up by federal prosecutors, who added civil rights violations to manslaughter charges and won stiffer sentences, ultimately sending the two convicted officers to prison for six and 10 years.

Six of the officers who faced state prosecutions were convicted after going to trial. On average, they got 3 1/2 years…

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Michigan business owner denies being a racist despite hanging nooses and a Confederate flag outside his properties

By David McCormack, dailymail.com

A businessman in suburban Detroit is under fire from unhappy neighbours after hanging a Confederate flag and nooses at his two properties in the area.

A noose on display in Livonia, MI.

A noose on display in Livonia, MI.

Robert Tomanovich, who owns Robert’s Discount Tree Service in Livonia, Michigan, first hung a noose from a tree and a Confederate flag, printed with the slogan ‘I ain’t coming down,’ on a fence at his home.

When neighbors complained, a second noose appeared on a tree outside his tree-cutting business which operates at a second property on the same street.

Tomanovich, 55, has denied his actions are racist, although an employee has admitted that the second noose was a deliberate move to antagonise locals…

When the local TV network attempted to speak to Tomanovich on Friday he refused, although his wife Lindy tried to explain the noose as a tribute to a dead friend.

‘Robert has a friend that died in that way (hanging himself), and that’s in memory of his friend,’ she told WXYZ. ‘There’s no crime in hanging a noose.’

An unnamed employee was quick to take credit for the noose at Tomanovich’s business. ‘Screw ’em… We’re gonna put more up,’ he said…

On Monday, Tomanovich spoke to the Daily News and said accusations of racism were ‘stupid.’

‘I know black guys, I have black friends. We’re all laughing at this stupidity. Do you know how many white guys were hung back in the day? This isn’t racist. But all of a sudden it’s out of control.’


He said he had put up the Confederate flag because ‘I like the colors’.

Tomanovich also said he has since taken down the nooses and flags, but refused to apologize.

‘I don’t need to defend this to nobody. My business is doing very well,’ he said. ‘I only want this story to get bigger. I want people to know I’m not a racist.’

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1.5 Million Missing Black Men

In New York, almost 120,000 black men between the ages of 25 and 54 are missing from everyday life. In Chicago, 45,000 are, and more than 30,000 are missing in Philadelphia. Across the South — from North Charleston, S.C., through Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi and up into Ferguson, Mo. — hundreds of thousands more are missing.

They are missing, largely because of early deaths or because they are behind bars. Remarkably, black women who are 25 to 54 and not in jail outnumber black men in that category by 1.5 million, according to an Upshot analysis. For every 100 black women in this age group living outside of jail, there are only 83 black men. Among whites, the equivalent number is 99, nearly parity.

1.5 Missing Black Men

African-American men have long been more likely to be locked up and more likely to die young, but the scale of the combined toll is nonetheless jarring. It is a measure of the deep disparities that continue to afflict black men — disparities being debated after a recent spate of killings by the police — and the gender gap is itself a further cause of social ills, leaving many communities without enough men to be fathers and husbands.

Perhaps the starkest description of the situation is this: More than one out of every six black men who today should be between 25 and 54 years old have disappeared from daily life….

Map where blk men are missing

And what is the city with at least 10,000 black residents that has the single largest proportion of missing black men? Ferguson, Mo., where a fatal police shooting last year led to nationwide protests and a Justice Department investigation that found widespread discrimination against black residents. Ferguson has 60 men for every 100 black women in the age group, Stephen Bronars, an economist, has noted.

FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 19: Lakiah Payne (L) and Michael Brown's sister, Deja Brown, visit a memorial for him that is setup on the spot where he fell after he was shot by police on August 19, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Protesters have been vocal asking for justice in the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer on August 9th. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

FERGUSON, MO – AUGUST 19: Lakiah Payne (L) and Michael Brown’s sister, Deja Brown, visit a memorial for him that is setup on the spot where he fell after he was shot by police on August 19, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Protesters have been vocal asking for justice in the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer on August 9th. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The gap in North Charleston, site of a police shooting this month, is also considerably more severe than the nationwide average, as is the gap in neighboring Charleston. Nationwide, the largest proportions of missing men generally can be found in the South, although there are also many similar areas across the Midwest and in many big Northeastern cities. The gaps tend to be smallest in the West.

Incarceration and early deaths are the overwhelming drivers of the gap. Of the 1.5 million missing black men from 25 to 54 — which demographers call the prime-age years — higher imprisonment rates account for almost 600,000. Almost 1 in 12 black men in this age group are behind bars, compared with 1 in 60 nonblack men in the age group, 1 in 200 black women and 1 in 500 nonblack women.

Higher mortality is the other main cause. About 900,000 fewer prime-age black men than women live in the United States, according to the census. It’s impossible to know precisely how much of the difference is the result of mortality, but it appears to account for a big part. Homicide, the leading cause of death for young African-American men, plays a large role, and they also die from heart disease, respiratory disease and accidents more often than other demographic groups, including black women….

The disappearance of these men has far-reaching implications….

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When ‘Deshawn’ And ‘Greg’ Act Out In Class, Guess Who Gets Branded A Troublemaker

by Macrina Cooper-White, the Huffington Post

Research has shown that young black students in American schools are expelled and suspended three times as often as white students. Now a disturbing new study from Stanford University reveals one factor behind such disproportionate punishment.


The study showed that teachers tend to view black students more harshly than white students even when their disruptive behavior is exactly the same — possibly triggering a destructive cycle.

“We have shown experimentally, for the first time, that teacher responses can contribute to racial disparities in discipline,” the researchers wrote in a paper describing their research, which was published online April 8 in the journal Psychological Science. “In fact, teacher responses may even help to drive racial differences in student behavior — differential treatment by teachers, to some extent, may inspire repeated misbehavior by black students.”

For the study, a racially diverse group of more than 250 teachers were shown records that described two minor infractions committed by a student. Half of the records were labeled with stereotypically black names (such as Deshawn or Darnell), and half with stereotypically white names (such as Greg or Jake).

After reading about each infraction, the teachers were asked how bothered they were the student’s misbehavior, how severely they thought the student should be disciplined, and how likely they were to consider the student a “troublemaker.”

…When it came to a student’s first infraction, there was no difference in the teachers’ attitudes toward the white and black students. After reading about a second infraction, however, the teachers were more likely to feel troubled by the black students’ behavior, to want to mete out severe punishment, and to label the student a troublemaker.

…The researchers argue in their paper that when a student has multiple infractions, negative racial stereotypes are more likely to kick in. Teachers are more likely to see the infractions of black students as fitting into a larger pattern of bad behavior.

“It’s not that these are racist people, it’s just that we all are exposed to stereotypes in the world,” Jason Okonufua, a graduate student at the university and the study’s lead researcher, told Reuters.

The researchers call this phenomenon the “black-escalation effect.” And they say it’s the same thing that happens outside the classroom.

…The researchers said they hope their findings will encourage the development of new psychological interventions to mitigate the problem…

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Citizens Stand For Economic Equality With #BlackWorkMatters And The #FightFor15

By Jessica Dickerson, the Huffington Post

…One particular civil rights focus took the main stage on Wednesday: #BlackWorkMatters. In a push for racial justice, protesters took to the streets in cities across the country — from New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Sacramento and New Orleans — to demand a $15 per hour minimum wage and the creation of a union for fast food workers.

Protesters march in Chicago on Wednesday. April 15.

Protesters in Chicago on Wednesday. April 15.

Black Youth 100, a non-profit organization… explained The Black Work Matters campaign — also known as the Fight For $15 — which calls attention to the disproportionate number of young black people who work in low wage jobs and the experiences they have in these positions.

“It’s a fight for the dignity of workers,” says Charlene A. Carruthers, the National Director BYP100. “It’s a fight for workers to be able to collectively bargain. It’s a fight for workers to actually be in safe environments where their issues and their grievances can be heard.”

The mission of the campaign, which was also a part of Wednesday’s protests, is to empower low wage workers to negotiate fair terms for their employment. Low pay and unsafe work environments plague jobs for parents and families that work in fast food and other low wage industries, according to BYP100 Chicago Chapter co-chair Janae Bonsu. “It’s inhumane,” she says….

Wednesday’s protesters hope to achieve economic justice not just for the lives of low wage workers and their families, but the health of the entire American economy.

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Protests In U.S. Cities Against Police Violence Prompt Arrests

By Sebastien Malo, Reuters

Protesters in several U.S. cities blocked highways and swarmed police precincts, leading to at least two dozen arrests in demonstrations touched off by fresh cases of police violence against unarmed black men.


Marching across New York’s Brooklyn Bridge, some 250 placard-bearing activists organized by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network protested the latest incidents of violent police tactics used against minorities.

Hoisting signs reading “Stop murder by police” and “Stop killer cops,” they said they hoped to spur national discussion on the issue. At least 12 people, some of whom appeared to be school-aged, were arrested following a brief scuffle with police after they crossed the bridge.

Police in Los Angeles said they arrested 15 protesters in a group of nearly 100 after they stopped on Metro Rail tracks and ignored orders to disperse.

Elsewhere on the West Coast, more than 100 protesters in San Francisco surrounded a police station and disrupted a meeting at City Hall of the Board of Supervisors. In nearby Oakland, demonstrators massed outside the Oakland Police Department and swarmed onto Interstate 880, according to local television images.


Sign-waving protesters marched through downtown Seattle, briefly blocking commuter traffic at various points, though the demonstration was peaceful and there were no arrests, police and transit officials said.

And in Wisconsin, about 100 protesters, mostly high school students, blocked a major roadway in Madison, where last month’s fatal shooting of unarmed black teen Tony Robinson Jr. by a white police office has triggered a series of demonstrations.

Galvanizing their cause was the April 4 fatal shooting of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man shot in the back by a white police officer in North Charleston, South Carolina. The shooting was captured on video, and the officer has been charged with murder…

Another group of protesters, led by Justice League NYC, has embarked on a 250-mile trek to Washington from New York City to demonstrate against police-related deaths. They are due to reach the National Mall on April 21…

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Protesters Against Police Brutality Begin 9-Day March From New York To D.C.

By Christopher Mathias, the Huffington Post

NEW YORK — A march from New York City to Washington, D.C., to protest police brutality started Monday morning in Staten Island — the borough where Eric Garner died last summer after being put into a chokehold by a New York police officer.

Justice League marchers cross a bridge from Staten Island into New Jersey.

Justice League marchers cross a bridge from Staten Island into New Jersey.

About 100 protesters gathered at the foot of the Outerbridge Crossing in preparation for the nine-day, 250-mile trek. Many wore T-shirts bearing Garner’s famous last words, “I can’t breathe,” and others held signs reading “#BlackLivesMatter.”

Sade Swift, a 19-year-old New School student, told The Huffington Post she was marching because she’s “tired of creating hashtags” for unarmed men of color killed by the police: #EricGarner. #MichaelBrown. #RamarleyGraham. #TamirRice.#AkaiGurley. And, most recently, #WalterScott.

“I’m tired of seeing all these people that look like me on the news, so that’s why I’m marching,” said Swift, who grew up in Washington Heights…

Swift is a member of The Justice League, the New York-based organization behind the event, dubbed “The March 2 Justice.” About 100 protesters are making the entire journey, spokeswoman Lindsey Wagner told HuffPost, and others will join in for different legs of the trip along the way…

Sade Smith, far right, with three other protesters before the start of Monday's march

Sade Smith, far right, with three other protesters before the start of Monday’s march

Carmen Perez, the Justice League march director, told HuffPost that when the protest ends in Washington on April 21, organizers will hold a rally on the National Mall with musical performances.

“We want to shed light on the injustices that are happening in different communities, particularly around police brutality, and the mass incarceration of our black and brown communities,” Perez said…

The Justice League is pushing for the passage of three federal bills during the march: the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, which would create funding to improve conditions in local and state juvenile justice programs; the End Racial Profiling Act, which would prohibit police from profiling anyone based on their race, ethnicity or national origin; and the Militarization Bill, which would limit police departments’ ability to purchase military equipment from the Department of Defense.


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Here’s A News Report We’d Be Reading If Walter Scott’s Killing Wasn’t On Video

By Ryan Grim and Nick Wing, the Huffington Post

This article is written as if the alleged murder of Walter Scott had not been captured on video that was made public Tuesday by The New York Times and other outlets.

A North Charleston police officer was forced to use his service weapon Saturday during a scuffle with a suspect who tried to overpower him and seize the officer’s Taser, authorities said.

Patrolman Michael Slager

Patrolman Michael Slager

The man, who has a history of violence and a long arrest record, died on the scene as a result of the encounter, despite officers performing CPR and delivering first aid, according to police reports…  The State Law Enforcement Division has begun an investigation into the incident.

Police identified the officer involved as Patrolman 1st Class Michael Thomas Slager and the suspect as Walter Lamar Scott, 50, of Meadowlawn Drive in West Ashley…

The incident occurred behind a pawn shop on Craig Street and Remount Road. Slager initially pulled Scott over for a broken taillight. During the stop, police and witnesses say Scott fled the vehicle on foot. When Slager caught up with him a short distance from the street, Scott reportedly attempted to overpower Slager. Police say that during the struggle, the man gained control of the Taser and attempted to use it against the officer.

It was during that scuffle that the officer fired his service weapon, fatally wounding Scott…

Slager’s attorney maintained that the officer believed he properly followed all procedures and policies before resorting to deadly force.

“This is part of the job that no one likes and wishes would never happen,” Police Chief Eddie Driggers said, according to a release. “This type of situation is unfortunate and difficult for everyone. We are confident that SLED will conduct a complete and thorough investigation into the incident and provide their findings to all concerned.”…

Slager was placed on administrative duty, pending the outcome of the state investigation…

This article relies entirely on local news reports, which sourced their version of events to information from police, the attorney for the officer, “witnesses” and police statements. Many of those claims turned out to be lies. Slager has been charged with murder. Whenever possible, this article pulls verbatim from local news reports.

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