Archive for the ‘Civil Rights’ Category

It’s Time to Separate Race and U.S. Firearms Policy

Friday, February 28th, 2014

(Huffington Post) It's time to separate race and U.S. firearms policy.

Racial disparities exist throughout the American judicial system. As I've written before, African Americans are more likely than white Americans to be stopped and frisked, to have their car searched at a traffic stop, to be arrested and convicted on a drug offense (even though they are less likely to consume illegal drugs — see Fig. 18here), and to receive the death penalty.

But it wasn't until the shooting of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman's subsequent trial that another huge racial disparity became evident. African Americans who kill a white victim are 10 times less likely to be deemed justified in killing than whites who kill a black victim. The recent trial of Michael Dunn, who was charged with the murder of Jordan Davis, pushed the issue back in the spotlight.

That disparity is not proof that there is racial animus in criminal justice system case processing. But potential sources of any disparity need to be examined empirically, and the magnitude of this disparity is so large that it warrants particular attention.

Full story…

Lawmakers Unveil Proposal Broadening Voting Rights Act

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

(Huffington Post) House and Senate lawmakers unveiled bipartisan legislationon Thursday that would repair — and broaden — a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act struck down last year by the Supreme Court.

The bill would expand the power of federal courts to stop discriminatory voting changes before they are implemented by lowering the bar for plaintiffs seeking a preliminary injunction of a law in any federal court in the country.

It would also update the formula that determines which parts of the country require pre-clearance for voting changes to include places with recent voting rights violations, and create "uniform transparency requirements" to keep communities informed about voting changes.

Full story…

UCLA to probe African American judge’s excessive force claims

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

(Los Angeles Times) UCLA is conducting an internal investigation into allegations by an African American judge that excessive force was used by campus police officers when they stopped him on suspicion of not wearing a seat belt.

UCLA officials say David S. Cunningham III, a former Los Angeles Police Commission president, ignored officers' orders to stay in his car.

Cunningham has filed a complaint against the officers, saying they shoved him against his car, handcuffed him and locked him in the back seat of their police cruiser.

"During the course of the traffic stop, police officers instructed the driver to stay inside the vehicle and returned to their patrol car to run a routine license and registration check," UCLA said in a statement released late Monday afternoon. "Despite these instructions, the driver left the vehicle – an escalating behavior that can place officers at risk."

Cunningham "stood in the roadway" and refused to get back in his car, the statement said. As a result, he was temporarily handcuffed. He was released at the scene shortly after being cited for failing to wear a seat belt.

Full story…

Court to decide if race preference bans hurt diversity

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

(USAToday) To hear Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette explain it, what could be wrong with a state constitutional amendment that "shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin?"

Just about everything, says Mark Rosenbaum of the American Civil Liberties Union and a host of civil rights groups. "While that makes a good bumper sticker … it's not the truth," Rosenbaum says. "Instead of healing the nation's wounds, it's actually opening those wounds."

Those two views will play out before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, almost precisely a year after the justices heard another major case on a subject that has divided the nation — and the high court — for decades: affirmative action.

On the docket will be the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, a 2006 constitutional amendment banning the use of racial preferences in public university admissions. It may not be a close fight. Lawyers for Schuette (pronounced Shoo-tee) are likely to convince the conservative court that, as Chief Justice John Roberts put it a few years back, "the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

Full story…

North Carolina governor vows to fight Justice Department voter ID lawsuit

Friday, October 4th, 2013

(Guardian) North Carolina's Republican governor has pledged to fight a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice in response to a measure that introduces some of the most stringent voting laws in the country.

Governor Pat McCrory said that the lawsuit, which warns that the new restrictions are intentionally designed to set the clock back by discouraging African Americans from exerting their democratic rights, is without merit.

The lawsuit, lodged with a federal district court in North Carolina on Monday, calls for four key provisions of the state's new legislation to be blocked on grounds that they would have a discriminatory effect on minority voters. It also calls for the state to be put back into a form of federal oversight – or "pre-clearance" – that was removed in June when the US supreme court struck down elements of the Voting Rights Act that had been a cornerstone of race relations in the US since 1965.

Announcing the legal challenge, the attorney general Eric Holder said that allowing North Carolina's new restrictions to stand would be "inconsistent with our ideals as a nation … This is an intentional attempt to break a system that was working; it defies common sense."

Full story…

Fifty years after March on Washington, economic gap between blacks, whites persists

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

(Washington Post) Even as racial barriers have tumbled and the nation has grown wealthier and better educated, the economic disparities separating blacks and whites remain as wide as they were when marchers assembled on the Mall in 1963.

When it comes to household income and wealth, the gaps between blacks and whites have widened. On other measures, the gaps are roughly the same as they were four decades ago. The poverty rate for blacks, for instance, continues to be about three times that of whites.

“The relative position of blacks has not changed economically since the march,” said William Darity Jr., a professor of public policy, economics and African American studies at Duke University. “Certainly, poverty has declined for everybody, but it has declined in a way that the proportion of blacks to whites who are poor is about the same as it was 50 years ago.”

That is hardly what labor leader A. Philip Randolph, the event’s visionary, had in mind when he called for a mass march for “Jobs and Freedom.” For decades, Randolph, founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first predominantly black labor union, had pushed for economic equality for black Americans.

Full story…

Two Powerful Signals of a Major Shift on Crime

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

(NY Times) Two decisions Monday, one by a federal judge in New York and the other by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., were powerful signals that the pendulum has swung away from the tough-on-crime policies of a generation ago.

Critics have long contended that draconian mandatory minimum sentence laws for low-level drug offenses, as well as stop-and-frisk police policies that target higher-crime and minority neighborhoods, have a disproportionate impact on members of minority groups. On Monday, Mr. Holder announced that federal prosecutors would no longer invoke the sentencing laws, and a judge found that stop-and-frisk practices in New York were unconstitutional racial profiling.

While the timing was a coincidence, Barbara Arnwine, the president of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said that the effect was “historic, groundbreaking, and potentially game-changing.”

Full story…

New York’s stop-and-frisk policy is unconstitutional, judge rules

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

(The Guardian) A New York judge ruled Monday that "stop-and-frisk" searches carried out by city police are unconstitutional – and ordered that a federal monitor be brought in to oversee their reform.

In a major victory for civil rights activists who have long contended that stop-and-frisk amounts to racial profiling, US district court judge Shira Scheindlin said the stops violated individuals' right to privacy and equal treatment under the law.

She added that testimony had led her to believe that the NYPD carries out more stops of black and Hispanic residents, "even when other relevant variables are held constant".

"This is so even in areas with low crime rates, racially heterogenous populations, or predominantly white populations," Scheindlin ruled.

Full story…

Dwyane Wade and his sons wear hoodies for Trayvon Martin on the cover of Ebony

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

(Yahoo) Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade has been an active presence in discussions surrounding the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin ever since the story gained national traction in March 2012. At the time, Wade posted a photo to Facebook of himself wearing a hooded sweatshirt (mimicking Martin's clothing on the night he was killed in a display of solidarity), took part in a photo featuring 13 members of the Miami Heat in the same outfit, wrote Martin-inspired messages on his in-game shoes, and spoke openly about why the event resonates with him and other black men. It's both a personal and public issue for Wade, something that speaks to both his experiences and those of others like him.

With George Zimmerman having been acquitted of murder charges for Martin's killing in July, the magazine Ebony has issued four special covers featuring the headline "We Are Trayvon" and feature stories on the verdict and surrounding subjects for its September issue. In addition to a cover featuring Martin's mother Sybrina Fulton, father Tracy Martin, and brother Jahvaris Fulton, three famous African-American men posed with their sons in hoodies. That group includes Wade, his 11-year-old son Zaire, and his six-year-old son Zion.

Full story…

‘Racism Is Already Half Non-Existent’: Daily Show Tries To Heal America’s Racial Wounds

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

(Mediaite) On Tuesday night’s Daily Show, correspondentsSamantha Bee and Jessica Williams decided to take charge of the conversation on race and convened two panels, one all-white and one all-black, to finally have a conversation on race. Bee sweated profusely in the room with the black group, while Williams facepalmed with every racially blind comment made by the white group.

Bee assured the black group that she wasn’t scared of them, that her sweating is just a minor medical condition. Meanwhile, Williams polled her white group and was surprised to see them admitting that not only is racism not a big deal anymore, it’s “already half non-existent.”

The black group insisted race is still a big issue in the United States, while the white group thought race is “talked about too much.” Bee was called out on her white privilege, while one of the white people told Williams this is the first time a black person’s interviewed her.

Full story…

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