Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sandra Bland: Grand Jury Declines to Indict

The New York Times reports that:
CHICAGO — Grand jurors in Texas declined on Monday to indict anyone in connection to the July death of a Chicago-area woman, Sandra Bland, who was found hanged in her cell at the Waller County jail, one of the special prosecutors assigned to the case said.

But Darrell Jordan, the special prosecutor, said that “the case is still open,” and that grand jurors would reconvene next month to discuss other aspects of it.

Many activists have called for charges against Brian Encinia, the Texas state trooper who arrested Ms. Bland after a routine traffic stop in Prairie View, northwest of Houston, turned contentious. Mr. Jordan said Monday’s decision not to indict anyone related only to Ms. Bland’s death and to the conduct of the jail staff.

“It’s all in the way you phrase it,” said Mr. Jordan, one of five special prosecutors in the case. “The case is not over. That’s what I’m stressing right now. The case is not over.”

Ms. Bland, who was 28 and black, had recently moved to Texas from Illinois to accept a job at Prairie View A&M University, her alma mater, when she was pulled over on July 10. Her death days later attracted international attention and added momentum to a national debate over the treatment of black people by white police officers. Her family has publicly disputed the authorities’ findings that she committed suicide.
I do not know if Sandra Bland committed suicide or not. She was a Black Lives Matter activist. As such, I find it difficult to believe that she took her own black life.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Freddie Gray: A Mistrial Declared in the William Porter Case

The Baltimore Sun reports that:

A judge declared a mistrial Wednesday in the case of Baltimore Police Officer William G. Porter after jurors said they had failed to reach an agreement on any of the charges against him in the death of Freddie Gray.

The decision, which came a day after jurors told Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams they were deadlocked, frustrated activists who had watched the first trial in Gray's death closely. Outside the downtown courtroom, city officials and community leaders pleaded for calm, and authorities reported two arrests, but no violence or serious disruptions.

Porter, 26, the first of six police officers to be tried in Gray's death, remains charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. Gray, 25, died in April after suffering a severe spinal cord injury in the back of a police van.

Jurors deliberated for three days before Williams declared the mistrial. The decision now throws the other trials into flux.

Prosecutors chose to try Porter first, planning to use him as a witness at the trial of Officer Caesar Goodson. Goodson, who is charged with second-degree murder, was slated for trial in the first week of January.

fter the mistrial, attorneys were to meet with Williams Thursday about scheduling a new trial for Porter.

Gray's family said they were hopeful prosecutors would retry Porter. Gray's stepfather, Richard Shipley, said jurors "did the best that they could," while Gray's twin sister, Fredericka, joined protesters.

The Gray family's attorney said, "This saga is not over."

"This hung jury does not mean it's the end of Officer Porter's case," attorney Billy Murphy said. "It's just a bump on the road to justice. And you know the road to justice has a lot of bumps."
Some of the protesters do not share Mr. Murphy's optimism.

The Mayor said that we must respect for the outcome of the judicial process. I disagree.

We do not have to respect a system that denies us justice. We do not have to respect a system that callously disregards our black lives. We will only respect a system that respects us. The protests must continue until justice prevails. Justice for Freddie Gray.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Officer Daniel Holtzclaw Found Guilty of Raping Black Women

The Atlantic reported that:
An Oklahoma County jury handed down a series of guilty verdicts on Thursday night in the trial of former Oklahoma City Police Department officer Daniel Holtzclaw, who allegedly raped and sexually assaulted at least 13 black women in the neighborhood he patrolled.
Holtzclaw, who turned 29 years old on Thursday, faced 36 charges in total. The jury found him guilty of 18 of them, including four of the six counts of first-degree rape. For each of those charges, the jury recommended a sentence of 30 years. The other charges against him ranged from indecent exposure to sexual battery and forcible oral rape. Jurors deliberated for four days over the extensive indictment before rendering their verdicts.

For the victims' stories, please read the BuzzFeed article entitled The 13 Women Who Accuse A Cop Of Sexual Assault, In Their Own Words

In the YouTube video, below I provide my commentary.

Freddie Gray: William Porter Jury is Deadlocked

The Baltimore Sun reports that:
Judge Barry G. Williams on Tuesday ordered a deadlocked jury back to work, asking them to try harder to reach a consensus on Officer William G. Porter's guilt or innocence in the death of Freddie Gray.

The 12-member panel is charged with reaching a verdict on four charges against Porter: involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. If they cannot, Williams will be forced to declare a mistrial on the undecided counts, leaving it to prosecutors to decide whether to retry the case.

After 10 hours of deliberations that began Monday afternoon, jury members sent a note to Williams on Tuesday afternoon indicating that they were deadlocked. The panel did not elaborate on whether the members were split on one, some or all of the charges, or which way they were leaning.

Williams, meeting the jurors in open court, instructed them to return to deliberations. He read from a portion of the jury instructions that said the members must come to a unanimous decision in order to reach a conviction or acquittal. Jurors then deliberated for about two more hours before breaking for the day.

They will return Wednesday morning.

The weight of their work in a secluded jury room within the Baltimore Circuit Court could be felt throughout the city.

Gray, 25, suffered a broken neck and severe spinal cord injury in the back of a police transport van after his arrest on April 12. His death a week later prompted widespread protests against police brutality, and his funeral was followed by the most intense rioting and looting in the city since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.

Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby charged Porter and five other officers in Gray's arrest and death on May 1, and many have watched the proceedings in Porter's trial closely.
As reported on CBS Baltimore, "out of the 12 jurors chosen, eight are women, four are men; five are African American women, three are African American men, three are white women and one is a white man."

I wonder if the jury is divided along racial lines. Hopefully, the jury will make progress and render a fair and just verdict soon. In order for this City to heal, we need justice for Freddie Gray. No justice, no peace.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Freddie Gray: Baltimore Awaits William Porter Verdict and Prepares for Rebellion

The Baltimore Sun reports that:

The mayor activated an emergency headquarters, the city school system warned students against violence and even the Obama administration asked for calm Monday as Baltimore began the wait for a verdict in the first trial of a police officer in the Freddie Gray case.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she wants business to continue as usual across the city but activated the Emergency Operations Center on Monday morning "out of an abundance of caution." The move put representatives from the city's police, fire, transportation, health and public works agencies in the same room, "coordinated to respond if needed," she said...

The jury began to deliberate Monday afternoon in the criminal trial of Officer William G. Porter, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.

Bmore Bloc, which has led marches against alleged police brutality, called for a protest if Porter is acquitted. "If Porter walks, shut it down," the group said on social media. The People's Power Assembly said it would hold a protest and vigil outside the courthouse during jury deliberations until a verdict is reached.

The city's preparations stem from the looting, violence and arson that followed a week of peaceful protests after Gray's death in April. The rioting started with a confrontation between city students and police outside Mondawmin Mall on April 27. Rawlings-Blake's administration was widely criticized as being unprepared.
For assessments of the case, check out the video commentary from attorney Warren A. Brown and Real News Reporter Jaisal Noor.

Justice for Freddie Gray!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Is Donald Trump the New Hitler?

Yesterday, I watched the documentary Apocalypse Hitler. While watching the documentary, I was alarmed by the similarities between Nazi Leader Adolf Hitler and Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump.

In Germany, there was a devastating economic depression. In order to ascend to power, Hitler exploited the German people's fear and the feeling of powerlessness. Using his superior oratory skills and theatrical effects, Hitler projected strengthen at time when a weak people needed a protector. Hitler studied theater and used that knowledge to inflame the passions and emotions of the people.

Similarly, in the wake of terrorists attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, many of the American people are fearful and vulnerable. They want a strong President who will keep the American people safe. Using his good oratory skills and talent as a reality show actor, Trump projects strengthen at a time when the American people need someone to protect them from terrorism. In fact, Trump boasted about how he rises in the polls whenever a tragedy occurs. Similar to Hitler's mastery of theatrical technique, Donald Trump learned how to appeal to an audience through his successful reality television program, the Apprentice.

As documented on Apocalypse Hitler, Hitler was a master of falsifying history. Recently, Trump has been falsifying history of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Despite the complete lack of any evidence whatsoever, Trump continues to fan the flames of hate by lying about Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the horrific 9/11 terror attacks. No matter how many news reports debunk his fallacious assertions, Trump's supporters, like pigs to a slop, devour his untruths to satiate their deep-seated prejudice and hatred against Muslims.

Like Hitler, Trump practices demagoguery. Trump stokes fear and panders to hate and prejudice.  Hitler despised an entire religious group, the Jews. Hitler was an anti-Semite. In his demented mind, Jews were responsible for all of Germany's problems.  Prior to carrying out the "Final Solution" of genocide, Hitler discriminated against the Jews. He forced Jews to wear badges to distinguish themselves from the rest of the population. As noted on Wikipedia, Hitler excluded Jews from civil service, barred Jews from owning farms, barred Jews from owning newspapers, disbarred Jewish lawyers and excluded Jews from schools and universities. Hitler burned down synagogues.

Similarly, Trump despises an entire religious group, the Muslims. Trump is an Islamophobe. If elected, Trump plans to discriminate against Muslims. In his twisted mind, all Muslims should be collective blamed and punished for the actions of a maniacal, barbaric fringe minority.  Like the Nazi badges for Jews, Trump does not oppose requiring Muslims to carry special IDs.  He does not oppose requiring Muslims to register in a database. Furthermore, Trump advocates increased surveillance of Muslims and the closing of mosques. Despite opposition from Republicans and Democrats, Trump wants to ban all Muslims from entering the country. Unfortunately, the political establishment's opposition only emboldens Trump and fires up his delusional supporters.

At least for now, Trump's proposed discriminatory measures are not nearly as draconian as Hitler's discriminatory measures. However, if Donald Trump is elected President, we do not know what will happen. He could be the new Hitler. The Nazi Party started with gradual discriminatory measures that eventually led to unspeakable horrors. We must do everything in our power to prevent Trump from the Republican nominee. The world cannot afford another Hitler.