The 2020 United States Civil Rights Movement

The Start

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the civil rights movement fought for social justice, mainly for black Americans to achieve equal lawful civil liberties in the USA. The Civil War officially stopped slavery, however not discrimination dealing with the black community. They continued to sustain the overwhelming effects of racism, significantly in the South. Black Americans grew tired of bias as well as physical violence against them. In addition to a number of white Americans, they constructed and also launched a unique battle for equality that went across twenty years.

Throughout Reconstruction, black individuals held leadership duties. They took public office, preferring equality and voting legal rights. The Reconstruction initiative from 1865 to 1877 was to restore the unity of Southern states from the Confederacy, and four million just recently released slaves into America.

The 14th Amendment to the Constitution gave black Americans legal and equivalent protection in 1868, and the 15th Amendment also enabled them to vote in 1870. Yet, various white Americans were bothered that those they had controlled were currently on a kind of equal opportunity.

To diminish blacks, separate them from whites, and remove Reconstruction progression, “Jim Crow” laws were built in the South beginning in the late 19th century. Black individuals were forbidden from accessing the very same towns or institutions as whites. Interracial marriage was illegal. Since they could not pass proficiency tests for the ballot, nearly all black people could not vote.

These regulations were not embraced in the northern states. Nonetheless, blacks ran into discrimination at the workplace or in efforts to purchase a house or get an education. In some states, regulations passed that restricted voting civil liberties for black people.

In 1896 when the United States Supreme Court verified Plessy v. Ferguson for white and black individuals to be “separate but equal,” southern segregation picked up speed.

The Civil Rights Act of 1957

Although all United States residents attained voting rights, various southern states created problems for black Americans. They frequently got people of color to pass confusing proficiency voter examinations that were misleading and consisted of difficult questions.

Showing commitment to the civil liberties activity as well as the reduction of racial pressures in the South, Eisenhower’s administration pressed the U.S. Congress to recognize brand-new civil liberties regulation.

The Civil Rights Act of 1957 was signed into regulation by Eisenhower on September 9, 1957. Because of Reconstruction, this act was the first considerable civil rights regulation that enabled the federal prosecution of individuals who attempted voting avoidance. It likewise produced a commission to review voter fraudulence.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964

Lyndon B. Johnson authorized regulation released by Head of state John F. Kennedy prior to his assassination on July 2, 1964. The act stated equivalent employment for all, constrained citizen literacy tests, and granted federal authorities the right to make sure public centers were integrated.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965

Progressing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 right into law on August 6, 1965, which prohibited the citizen proficiency tests and granted government supervisors in particular voting territories. The act additionally let the attorney general contest regional as well as state poll taxes, leading to the taxes later being unconstitutional in 1966 when it comes to Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections.

The Civil Rights Act of 1968

The Civil Rights Act of 1968, or the “Fair Housing Act,” provided equivalent real estate chances regardless of national origin, creed, or race. It additionally illegalized the disturbance of housing chances as well as legal rights.

The Beginning of a New Civil Liberty Motion

A Contrast of Past and Present

The Black Lives Matter movement objections following the authorities’ killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery remind Margaret Burnham of 1968. At that time, the public reaction to the murder of Martin Luther King Jr., coupled with continuous civil rights and Vietnam War disputes, drove America further into turmoil.

Burnham is a respected university professor of law at Northeastern University School of Law and the director of the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project.

Northeastern University

“This is taking place in a world that is not only deeply fractured, but also deeply fragile because of the coronavirus, the economic crisis that makes the country look a little bit like 1929, and the existential threat of climate change,” Burnham stated. “It’s everything collapsing all around us.

“People who are taking to the streets are doing so not just because they never thought they would see a lynching played out on video,” she says of Floyd, who died at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. “But it’s also because they sense that there is no real plan either to face and defeat the virus or to acknowledge and defeat the pandemic of racism in this country.

“This is what has led to the frustration, as it has in the past.”

Black Lives Matter

Founded in 2013, Black Lives Matter was birthed in action to Trayvon Martin’s murderer’s pardon. Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc has a mission “to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.”

The new motion is effective yet scattered, linked by the pressure of social networks. A Twitter hashtag can link the destinies of those shot by police, going beyond local boundaries as well as time zones. A publicly shared Facebook post can plan protests or events.

Young protesters are sometimes mindful of being called the new civil rights movement because the label cripples the stressful fact of what is being faced by black Americans and since the new motion has not grown.

“Social media plays a big part in everything. I find out information, I put it on Twitter, it starts trending the more people talk about it, and then the institutions start feeling the pressure,” Kwame Rose, a young Baltimore civil rights protester, says.

Kwame’s father informed him at a young age about civil liberties history. Now, he understood he was battling the same fight. Kwame quotes James Baldwin by clarifying: “To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage.”

“I see what’s being done, and I’m mad about it,” he proclaimed.

Departments are reasonable as a motion creates. Alicia Garza, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter, reveals just how the organization has actually been pieced apart by teams who have looked for to change the movement’s message to proclaim that “All Lives Matter.”

“The reality, of course, is that they do,” she says, “but we live in a world where some lives matter more than others. ‘All Lives Matter’ effectively neutralizes the fact that its black people who are fighting for their lives right now.

“I have to be honest, I feel like I live in a constant state of rage, and I think a lot of black people do… It’s more than depressing to me. It makes me angry, particularly when people try to deny it’s happening.”

The Fatality of George Floyd

Who was George Floyd?

George Floyd lived as a 46-year-old papa, investing the majority of his life in Houston, Texas. Charged in 2007 with armed robbery, Floyd took part in a home invasion in Houston. In 2009, he started an appeal bargain punishing him to five years behind bars. Several years later, Floyd looked for a fresh start. Unemployed, he relocated to Minneapolis to obtain work, settling as a truck driver and bouncer. Before the man’s death, he functioned as a security guard at Conga Latin Restaurant, an American Latin dining establishment, in the city. Nevertheless, because of the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, he was left out of work.

Why was Floyd detained in Minneapolis?

Officers replied to a call on May 25 from a store worker who declared Floyd made use of a phony $20 expense to purchase cigarettes. The store’s owner Mike Abumayyaleh told an information source that Floyd consistently pertained to the store as well as never triggered concerns.

What was Floyd’s cause of death?

On June 1, a medical supervisor noted Floyd’s fatality as a homicide, specifying that his heart stopped as the cops pressed on his neck and also held him.

According to info from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office, the cause of death was kept in mind as “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint and neck compression.”

“[Floyd] experienced a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer(s),” it concluded. Listed under “other significant conditions,” the office stated Floyd suffered from heart disease and hypertension. Also recorded were fentanyl intoxication and the recent use of methamphetamine. These determinants were not classified under Floyd’s cause of death.

A different postmortem examination sent for Floyd’s household also explained his death as a homicide, ending that asphyxiation because of back and neck compression was the cause of death. The postmortem examination discovered the compression stopped blood flow to his brain as well as made it difficult for Floyd to breathe.

Who are the officers associated with Floyd’s death?

Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J.Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao were the 4 Minneapolis officers who were present when Floyd was restrained. Chauvin was seen in the viral video footage stooping on the man’s neck.

Chauvin, charged with third-degree murder as well as second-degree homicide, and also his undesirable act of restriction caused protests throughout the globe, later obtaining a charge upgrade to second-degree murder.

BBC

The other three law enforcement officers were fired the day following his death. Not at first charged, the 3 are now charged with second-degree wrongful death and aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

Subsequent Riots

Tuesday, May 26

Numerous people engulfed the streets of the same crime scene on Tuesday to oppose Floyd’s fatality. Yells of “I can’t breathe,” echoed.

“We’re here to let them know this can’t be tolerated, there will be severe consequences if they continue to kill us this will not go on another day,” one demonstrator proclaimed.

At around 6 P.M., the rally transformed into a journey towards the 3rd Precinct. People started rioting, ruining the building as well as squad cars, and damaging windows.

Minnesota Daily

“It’s real ugly. The police have to understand that this is the climate they have created, this is the climate they created,” an additional protester responded.

Police officers consequently showed up in riot equipment, hurling tear gas as well as flash explosives as demonstrators threw rocks, water bottles, and more products at the Minnesota officers. The fierce crowd was measured in the hundreds.

Wednesday, May 27

Authorities released the identifications of the 4 officers involved in the death of Floyd: Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J.Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao.

President Joan Gabel of the University of Minnesota declared they would certainly no longer contract with the police department for law enforcement support during considerable events or for specialized services.

George Floyd’s fatality stayed under examination by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner.

Communities requested charges against the four policemen after they were fired Tuesday.

Thursday, Might 28

Minnesota Daily

With remains of burned cars and also structures, vandalized companies, and fires still ablaze in cities throughout America, firefighters and police functioned relentlessly to continue to remain order as well as safety.

Minnesota Daily

President Donald Trump reacted to the third night of looting and rioting on Thursday.

“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” President Trump tweeted.

Minnesota Daily

Various businesses were set on fire by rioters striking the 3rd Precinct. Jacob Frey, Minneapolis Mayor, announced it was his arrangement for cops to evacuate the district.

“The symbolism of a building cannot outweigh the importance of lives of our officers or the public, we could not risk serious injury to anyone,” Frey stated. “Brick and mortar is not as important as life.”

Friday, May 29

Derek Chauvin, the police officer that knelt on George Floyd’s neck, was jailed on May 29.

With solid connections to the neighborhood, Ellen Vanden Branden and also Erin Horvath voluntarily helped to sweep charred timber, busted glass, and also various other debris outside of a burnt-out structure on East Lake Street in Minneapolis on Friday, May 29.

Minnesota Daily

Protesters erected a barricade, obstructing traffic on I-35W on Friday, and tried to pull items from the back of a UPS vehicle.

Minnesota Daily

Saturday, May 30

3 people were shot, and one died among riots in Indianapolis on Saturday. One officer sustained injuries.

Kyle O. and Andy Murphy of Boy Scout Troop 196, functioned to remove debris beyond a store near the 5th Precinct District in Minneapolis after one more evening of riots on Saturday.

Minnesota Daily

Numerous Seattle police vehicles were set on fire as the troubles raged. Near Westlake Center, press reporters filmed cars ablaze around 4:00 P.M. local time.

Breitbart

A Los Angeles Police Department booth burned in The Grove shopping mall.

CNN

Sunday, May 31

Andrew Johnson aided to clean a looted Target store on Sunday. He said, “It was destroying me to see the community like this, so I wanted to do something.”

Minnesota Daily

A National Guard soldier, together with locals, aided to clean up wreckage at a fast-food restaurant that was damaged in the Minneapolis riots.

Minnesota Daily

25 cities in 16 states enforced curfews. The National Guard had likewise appeared in 12 states and also the District of Columbia.

During demonstrations on Sunday, Lexington, Kentucky, police officers clad in riot equipment knelt as well as prayed with protesters, some embracing the demonstrators.

According to division spokesperson Brenna Angel, adhering to the protesters’ urge for officers to kneel, Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers initially took a knee.

CNN

“It was a beautiful thing,” youth protester Devine Carama notified CNN.

Tuesday, June 2

Over the death of George Floyd, the state of Minnesota submitted a charge against the Minneapolis Police Department. It would explore interaction in prejudiced methods.

Wednesday, June 3

Hennepin County District Attorney Mike Freeman and Attorney General Keith Ellison announced a charge of second-degree murder had been filed against Chauvin in addition to previous charges. The 3 former police officers involved were charged and taken into custody.

Friday, June 5

Washington, D.C., named a street, painting “Black Lives Matter” on the road leading to the White House.

NBC Washington

Monday, June 8

In Seattle, protesters forced authorities out of a whole community block.

On Monday, the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) or the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) was birthed.

The stand-off resulted from a conflict with cops after numerous tries at containing the location.

Saturday, June 13

A Rhode Island school teacher, in addition to two people, were arrested after ruining a monument of Columbus. The 3 were charged with conspiracy and desecration of a grave/monument.

Friday, June 19

Hundreds of people marched Friday in observance of Juneteenth, which “commemorates the U.S. abolition of slavery under President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, belatedly announced by a Union army in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, after the Civil War ended.”

Feelings rose in Atlanta, where Rayshard Brooks was killed by a cop at a fast-food restaurant on June 12. The Atlanta police officer was fired and charged with murder.

Sunday, June 28

Mark and Patricia McCloskey, a St. Louis couple, are being explored by neighborhood law enforcement after being seen in a video clip brandishing weapons at their house after rioters broke through gates of their private neighborhood.

Fox News

Under Missouri’s Castle Doctrine, “a person has the right, has the absolute unmitigated right to protect his or her castle or family while on their property,” the McCloskeys’ attorney Albert Watkins claimed. “And in this particular fact situation, you have individuals who are acting on private property, trespassing as lawbreakers onto private property, damaging and destroying private property and acting in a threatening and hostile fashion, such as to give rise to what any human being would consider to be placing them in a position of abject horror and certainly in a position of feeling in fear of imminent harm.”

Based upon the information, police noted the occurrence as a case of trespassing and assault by intimidation.

Watkins stated the McCloskeys have actually been practicing law for greater than thirty years and “their practices have included, on an ongoing basis, representing individuals in pursuit of protection of their civil rights.”

“I do civil rights cases. Right now, I’m representing a young man who was assaulted by the police who is sitting in prison right now for being involved in a car accident after which the police came in and assaulted him. It’s on video,” Mr. McCloskey claimed. “I mean, I have on the wall of my conference room, I’ve got an anti-slavery broadsheet, the abolitionist broadsheet from 1832. It’s been there as long as I’ve owned this building.”

Saturday, July 4

Independence Day was likewise a day of protest in Minneapolis. “We’re the free people of America, and we’re here to try to really change the country,” Royce White, a 10K Foundation associate, specified. Lots of individuals took part in “The Black 4th.” They assembled on bikes, skateboards, and rollerblades to call for reforms with the country’s immigration plan and also change following Floyd’s death.

KSTP

“A large focus of today is on the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement),” said one person named Pryih. “With what’s going on, particularly at the border and in the concentration camps, and how we feel how that fundamentally goes against basic human rights.” 

Now What?

The George Floyd demonstrations are familiar to preceding demonstrations. By the third week, protests spread to around 650 cities across America.

The demonstrations are development for those requiring justice for Floyd, police reform, yet an overhaul of the justice system in America.

Racial views have mixed over the last 4 years, and also the New York Times records: According to a new study from Monmouth University, 57% of Americans believe that police are using excessive force against African Americans, compared to just 34% of registered voters in 2016 after the police shooting of Alton Sterling.

According to research, individuals of any kind of color are most likely to be eliminated by police, with black men, American Indians, as well as Latinos the most in danger.

It is reasonably very early to describe what takes place next. Racism requires policy changes, from real estate as well as transport to food security, which some claim remains low on the concerns of the USA. The current momentum prolongs hope that perhaps this age will be different.

The physical, emotional, economic, as well as legal effects of police brutality can be staggering. We put much trust on the authorities, and a betrayal of that trust should not go unrecognized or un-pursued. Our police brutality lawyers will not allow that.

At The Cochran Firm, we will be there for you. Our lawyers will listen to your story and advise you on how best to proceed with your claim.

The Cochran Firm built its reputation on the back of its civil rights and police brutality cases. Our founder, Johnnie L. Cochran, made his name in Louisiana and Los Angeles, representing those mistreated and wronged by the police. He believed in serving those wronged, no matter who they were and where they came from. As his status grew, his principles remained the same – stay humble, work fervently, and help those in need. Long after our founder’s passing, his principles live on in the Firm he built.

If you have been mistreated or wronged, a lawyer can help. Please call The Cochran Firm’s 24/7 call center today at 1-800-THE-FIRM (673-1555) or send us a message on our website.

The History of American Police Brutality

The Start of Policing

TIME

In the U.S., the evolution of police followed England. Early colony patrolling functioned in two formal and communal styles, known as the “Watch” system, or private-for-profit policing, named “The Big Stick.” The watch system involved area volunteers whose primary engagement was to report a crisis. Boston established a night watch in 1636, New York in 1658, and Philadelphia in 1700. Still, this was not an efficient means of crime control. Watchmen commonly drank or slept on the job. Many “volunteers” tried to evade military service, were commanded by draft into duty by their town, or operated watch services as a sort of discipline. In 1833, Philadelphia built the first day watch. Then in 1844, New York began a day watch as an extension to its new police unit. The developing watch system was a practice of official law enforcement officers, constables, typically backed by the fee system for warrants.

Constables had numerous non-law enforcement roles to perform, such as assisting as land surveyors and validating the correctness of weights and capacities. In multiple cities, they held the charge of commanding the activities of the night watch. These means of policing served much after the American Revolution. In the 1830s, the first notion of a centralized community police department appeared. Boston authorized the original American police force in 1838. New York City accompanied this in 1845, Albany, NY and Chicago in 1851, New Orleans and Cincinnati in 1853, Philadelphia in 1855, and Newark, NJ and Baltimore in 1857. All vital American centers possessed local police divisions by the 1880s. These newest police systems yielded similar styles:

  1. Bureaucratic
  2. Backed by the public
  3. Full-time, constant employees
  4. Set systems and practices
  5. Subject to necessary governmental authority

New United States police organizations had two principal elements: they were reputably corrupt and blatantly cruel. Local politicians continued with the authority of the police. In most regions, the home political party ward lead selected the police official to control the ward leader’s community. The ward leader usually was the neighborhood tavern keeper, occasionally the area vendor for gambling and prostitution, and generally the governing power over the area’s juvenile gangs who were employed to threaten adversary party balloters. With poor habits, political crime, and coordinated frenzy, it was known that the policemen were wicked. Police typically accepted payoffs to support illegal drinking, hustling, and gambling. They organized master criminals such as robbers and pickpockets to grant protection in trade for news or bribes. They also actively engaged in vote-buying and ballot-box-stuffing. Genuine political operatives displaced to police officers with zero qualifications and limited training. Police department advances were not won. Instead, they were bought. Police drank alcohol while watching, defended vice actions, and were keen to employ oppressive authority. These modern U.S. police units met three controversies:

  1. Should they dress in uniform?
  2. Should they carry guns?
  3. How much power could they apply?

Neighborhood traders and industry people spurred the advancement of community policing and favored uniformed police. The thought was for clear distinguishment by individuals seeking aid, and apparent police occupancy on neighborhood streets. Some police denied wearing a uniform, considering that it would provoke ridicule and display themselves as clearly identifiable targets for violence. Police officers started bearing sidearms, notwithstanding the public’s concern that doing such gave significant power to the police and state. Departments formally armed their police authorities after officers had informally brandished firearms themselves.

In the 1830s and 1840s, use-of-force in apprehension was as controversial as it is today. Because officers were mainly involved in implementing public order laws upon drunkenness and gambling, irritating labor organizers, and surveilling liberated slaves and immigrants, the public’s view supported limitations on use-of-force. However, the advantage of an armed presence allowed to apply deadly force followed the interests of economic elites who fancied established police departments. The troops were believed crucial because the “organizations intervened between the propertied elites and propertyless masses who were regarded as politically dangerous as a class.” From the derivation, police in the United States have been confined to the economy’s desires and demands.

As for the modern-day, it emerges probable that new weight on technology and science, expressly regarding scrutiny of citizens, and on neighborhood appeasement through policing in communities, will replay the downfalls of history as the ways of the future. Today’s stories of police harshness are not a modern phenomenon.

NAACP

Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1963, said, “There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, ‘When will you be satisfied?” This message continues to reverberate in modern times after a lengthy past of brutal encounters between black Americans and police. “We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.”

“This idea of police brutality was very much on people’s minds in 1963, following on the years, decades really, of police abuse of power and then centuries of oppression of African-Americans,” says William Pretzer, Smithsonian museum senior history curator.

Social media and live streams have progressed police brutality incidents beyond the black population and mainstream interpretations. “Modern technology allows, indeed insists, that the white community take notice of these kinds of situations and incidents,” Pretzer says.

As technology has evolved, so has the means of law enforcement. Departments with substantial militant equipment are presented as standard in U.S. neighborhoods. “What we see is a continuation of an unequal relationship that has been exacerbated, made worse if you will, by the militarization and the increase in fire power of police forces around the country,” Pretzer claims. According to the curator, the answers lie in correcting troubled police-community relations and crushing social inequalities.

If you’ve been the victim of police brutality, a personal injury lawyer can help. Please call The Cochran Firm’s 24/7 call center today at 1-800-THE-FIRM (673-1555) or send us a message on our website.

Daily News Egypt

1875-1920 

Deaths by police officers are progressively prominent as a political issue. After examining records from the Chicago Police Department from the 1870s to the 1920s, historian Jeffrey S. Adler found that these killings are not new incidents. During the times records cover, police in Chicago killed 307 individuals, factoring one in eighteen killings in the city.

Throughout the late nineteenth century, police officers’ responsibilities in Chicago were to preserve order, serve alongside reputably corrupt officials, and set down the labor crisis. Officers managed leeway on how to achieve these expectations. In Illinois, criminal law warranted using deadly force in self-defense, to prevent riots that endanger officers, or to deter suspects from fleeing.

However, during the first dates of Adler’s examinations, police cruelty was mainly limited to the overflowing use of clubs. Chicago Police Department officers exterminated around 49 people from 1875 to 1900. This number grew to 65 during the first decade of the 20th century. In the 1910s, it rose to 153. An escalation in violent crime serves to explain the increase in police brutality. Chicago’s homicide percentage almost doubled from 1890 to 1920.

Additionally, the nature of cruelty changed. Through the 1870s and ’80s, most murders resulted from drunken arguments. By 1900, homicides were more inclined to result from robberies concerning numerous middle-class victims. 3% of Chicago’s community and 21% of death by police victims within 1910 and 1920 were Black Americans.

Adler registers that among political stress to exert force on criminals and officers’ answers to “a racially different and seemingly more alien, dangerous class of criminals,” the police often discharged weapons at suspects to hinder escape. This was the single explanation that the police presented for shooting weapons in 41% of police murders from 1890 to 1920. They shot loiterers, thieves, and purse-snatchers. Police also slew bystanders by firing their guns into crowds or confusing the suspect’s identity, which accounted for 1 in 10 slayings by police.

A police officer murdered a child by shooting him in 1910 after mistaking his identity. The police chief unveiled that the boy “probably was large for his age.” This response is analogous to those we receive today.

1957-1966

During the 1950s and 60s, the civil rights action confronted police cruelty and further racial discrimination and segregation, alongside the opposition to the Jim Crow systems in the South. In Detroit, black Americans endured unfairness through a segregated housing market and free schools, discriminatory hiring practices, and racist policing.

Wayne State University

Brutality fixed on black Americans by police officers in Detroit and additional places in the Jim Crow North was rooted in progressive police of racial power. Sometimes, the Detroit Police Department operated illegally, such as unlawful investigative arrests, racial profiling, and actively resisted civil rights requests for a civilian review board to review police cruelty. The department additionally and illegally put labor and civil rights organizations, like the NAACP, beneath political monitoring through the “‘Red Squad,’ a parallel to the Jim Crow South that has received insufficient attention.”

“We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality,” said Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963. “We want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of black people,” was covered within the ten points in the 1966 Black Panther Party Platform.

1973

In 1973, Robert Hoyt rear-ended Raymond Peterson on a highway in Detroit, Michigan. Hoyt allegedly fell asleep while driving home after a late night at work. Peterson, a police officer in an unmarked vehicle, considered the crash was a planned action. Gary Prochorow, Peterson’s partner, witnessed the collision while operating his own unmarked car.

Prochorow also believed the event was intended. After sounding out of his vehicle for Hoyt to pull over, Prochorow fired at Hoyt from his car. Hoyt left the highway in a panic, with the officers trailing closely behind. Eventually, he was left with no alternative but to surrender following an exit ramp. Peterson exited his car and assumed Hoyt reached for a firearm under his seat. “My reaction was instinctive, sharp like a scalpel,” Peterson claimed. “Boom. He went down.”

However, Hoyt was unarmed. Peterson cut his jacket with a knife, cleaned it of fingerprints, and flung it near the crime scene. Hoyt was shot in the abdomen and later pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

In a 1971 Detroit Free Press profile, Peterson was defined as seeming “more like a radical college professor or folk singer than what he is—a Detroit policeman who has probably been part of more violence in recent months than any other cop in the country.” Hoyt was the 10th gun death that Peterson issued across two years.

STRESS, as the police system became noted, unveiled to be an excessive and lawless authority. In 1961, Peterson became a Detroit Police Department officer at 25 years old. During his first years, he was accountable for six injuries and gained 41 citations and commendations. Peterson was chosen in 1971 to enroll in an elite, deeply undercover unit within the agency. The organization fought crime on city roads, but grew wicked in distinguished Detroit’s communities, resembling a killer team. As knowledge about Peterson’s murders broadcasted, he was denounced by some of the city’s occupants and backed by his associates.

1991

In March of 1991, four officers were caught on videotape beating Rodney King after tracking him through Los Angeles, California. The video and results that followed frightened the city and moved the nation. This footage of police cruelty was one of the first of its kind and enduringly altered discussion about race and policing in the United States.

King sped while intoxicated and strived to elude LAPD officers. Numerous units, including a helicopter, trailed him, ultimately forcing the man to cease his retreat. The video filmed by George Holliday reveals the officers applying tasers while kicking and beating the man with batons more than 50 times.

Hammer Museum

“King claims, and several witnesses support him, that he never resisted,” Jerry Bowen, CBS News correspondent, declared. “Twenty-five-year-old Rodney King showed his injuries to reporters — the bruises, broken leg, and the scar from the stun gun which jolted him with 50,000 bolt shocks.”

In April of 1992, officers Timothy Wind, Laurence Powell, Stacey Koon, and Theodore Briseno went to trial and were acquitted by a mostly Caucasian jury. The following days in Los Angeles were loaded with arson, looting, riots, and extreme violence. In a press conference carried out by Rodney King, he begged, “can we all get along?” By the conclusion of the riots, there were over two thousand injuries and 55 deaths.

President George Bush declared the officers’ actions “sickening” and faced violent riots, describing rioters as “revolting.” King settled for $3.8 million and encountered several disputes with police as the years progressed. In 2011, he was detected driving while under the influence. King died in the pool in his backyard in 2012 with evidence of marijuana, PCP, cocaine, and alcohol in his system.

2011

In 2011, St. Louis officer Jason Stockley shot Anthony Lamar Smith after he fled. Stockley considered the man was dealing drugs. After Stockley was reported announcing he was “going to kill this motherf—er,” he was charged in 2016. In 2017, he was acquitted of first-degree murder. Stockley announced he saw a gun prior to shooting, which was considered legally justified.

Stockley’s acquittal sparked riots in St. Louis that launched police units dressed in riot gear following rioters throwing rocks and breaking windows. Protesters proceeded to St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s residence but were halted by officers. The authorities resorted to rubber bullets fired at the crowd and securing hundreds of arrests.

Al Jazeera

In 2013, the department completed a lawsuit for wrongful death with the family of Smith for $900,000. However, Stockley never got jail time. A judge in 2018 allowed the lawyer for Smith’s family to resume discovery in the case after learning the defendants had stored evidence of DNA that conferred Stockley had planted a firearm in Smith’s car. The family was awarded an additional $500,000 a year later.

2016

In Baton Rouge, two officers took Alton Sterling to the ground after responding to an anonymous call reporting Sterling for loitering outside a store to sell CDs. After sounding that Sterling had a gun, officer Salamoni shot him dead. The officers contended Sterling was a threat, concluding that he reached for his firearm. However, the video reveals Sterling motionless before being killed. Protests arose in Baton Rouge following Sterling’s murder, where multiple demonstrators were arrested. The Department Of Justice instated an investigation of civil rights into the occurrence. Salamoni was laid off, but none of the officers were charged.

BBC

2020

In Minnesota, police responded to a call of resident George Floyd using counterfeit money. Derek Chauvin and three other police officers escalated the disturbance in an attempt to apprehend Floyd. With Chauvin pinning Floyd down, footage from bystanders shook the nation. Before his death, Floyd repeatedly sounded that he could not breathe. An autopsy later showed “asphyxiation from sustained pressure.” Another report associated heart disease to his death. All involved officers were fired and charged. Protests, violent riots, looting, murders, and arson developed instantly across the U.S., growing into a public revolution over police cruelty.

Bloomberg

What About Now?

Most police officers are committed and ethical. They work a difficult, life-threatening job, and their days are extraordinarily stressful. However, police officers also exercise a great deal of control over the lives of the people they interact with, and an abuse of this power is particularly egregious. The personal injury lawyers at The Cochran Firm have experience helping the innocent victims of police brutality pursue justice and compensation.

The physical, emotional, financial, and legal consequences of police brutality can be staggering. We place a lot of trust in the police, and a betrayal of that trust should not go unacknowledged or un-pursued. Our police brutality lawyers will not allow that.

At The Cochran Firm, we will be there for you. Our police brutality lawyers will listen to your story and advise you on how best to proceed with your claim.

If you’ve been the victim of police brutality, a personal injury lawyer can help. Please call The Cochran Firm’s 24/7 call center today at 1-800-THE-FIRM (673-1555) or send us a message on our website.

$2.5 Million Verdict for Car Thief Shot to Death by NYC Cop

A jury in New York held the City liable for $2.5 million in the case of a police officer who shot and killed a car thief who struck the officer with his car.

The Supreme Court, Kings County, jury found that officer John Chell intentionally shot the driver, Ortanzso Bovell, from above and behind after he regained his feet. Bovell, a 25-year-old unemployed man, was killed with a single shot to the heart on Aug. 7, 2008.

Plaintiff attorney Jon L. Norinsberg of Norinsberg Law in New York recovered the verdict on March 17, 2017 after a five-week trial. The case is Lorna Wright-Bovell as Administrator of the Estate of Ortanzso Bovell v. The City of New York and John Chell, Case. No. 25659/09.

According to Norinsberg, Bovell was observed in a stolen vehicle by officer Chell and three other officers. The officers approached the vehicle at a red light with guns drawn. Bovell put the car in drive and struck several cars, trying to flee the scene.

The driver crashed into a metal gate where he was then surrounded by the officers again. He put the car into reverse, striking officer Chell with the driver’s side door and knocking him to the ground. At this point officer Chell claimed his gun went off accidentally.

The bullet struck Bovell in the upper left part of his back, hitting the third rib, and traveling through his lung and into the left ventricle of his heart, killing him.

Chell claimed that firearm discharged as he was being hit by the vehicle, however, the ballistics analysis of the trajectory of the bullet was not consistent with his version of events. Plaintiff’s expert forensic pathologist testified that plaintiff was conscious for between 4-5 minutes after the gunshot before he lost consciousness.

The jury found that Chell fired his weapon intentionally at plaintiff, that a battery had been committed, and awarded $2,500,000 for Bovell’s conscious pain and suffering.

The plaintiff experts were John Baeza of Brooksville, FL, testifying on police practices and procedures, pathologist Lone Thanning, MD, of Huntington, NY, and Bruno R. Valenti of Smithtown, NY, testifying about firearms and ballistics.

 

Arizona Judge Tricked Into Censoring Legitimate News

29-Year-Old Megan Welter, Iraqi war veteran and Arizona Cardinals cheerleader.

29-Year-Old Megan Welter, Iraqi war veteran and Arizona Cardinals cheerleader.

Without Notifying Media Organizations, Judge Ordered Dozens of Articles to Be Removed From the Internet

Former Arizona Cardinals Cheerleader Used Legal Maneuverings to Fool Local Judge Into Ordering Legitimate News Stories to Be Taken Offline; Public Citizen Calls for Order to Be Vacated

A court order requiring dozens of news stories to be removed from the Internet – without news organizations’ or journalists’ knowledge – violated the First Amendment and should be vacated, according to a motion Public Citizen filed late Thursday in the Superior Court for Maricopa County in Arizona.

In 2013, then-Arizona Cardinals cheerleader and Iraq war veteran Megan Welter was arrested after calling the police and falsely reporting herself as a victim of domestic violence by her then-boyfriend.

When police arrived, they were shown cell phone video refuting Welter’s assertion and instead arrested Welter for domestic violence. Due to Welter’s military notoriety and high-profile sports job, her domestic call made for unflattering online headlines nationwide in local, state and national publications.

Largest and most noteworthy news organizations

The stories were written by journalists at some of the largest and most noteworthy news organizations in the country, including the International Business Times, Daily Mail, CBS News, ABC News, Fox News, Pro Football Talk, The Arizona Republic, Business Insider and the New York Post.

In an attempt to erase her negative online history, Welter filed a lawsuit in 2016, nearly three years after many of these articles were published. She alleged the news articles amounted to defamation as well as invasion of her privacy.

She sought damages and injunctive relief to remove from the Internet nearly 100 offending stories carried by various defendants, including people and news outlets.

By failing to name or notify the media organizations of the lawsuit and by getting her former boyfriend’s consent to be a defendant, Welter tricked a local judge into believing that all parties agreed to have the stories taken offline and, failing that, delisted from Google and other search engines. Within six weeks, the judge granted the request. It is unclear how effective the order was.

Representing Avvo, one of the sites subjected to the motion, Public Citizen argues that the entire lawsuit and the means by which it was filed amounted to a procedural farce that violated the First Amendment.

Welter should not have been granted injunctive relief to remove stories containing unflattering portrayals of her life. Public Citizen is concerned about an emerging threat to free speech whereby businesses and people are taking advantage of defendants and judges by pursuing what amounts to restrictive gag orders to shut down legitimate complaints and news stories.

Maria Crimi Speth of Phoenix’s Jaburg Wilk is local counsel in the case.

For more information contact: Paul Levy, [email protected], (202) 588-7725
and Don Owens, [email protected], (202) 588-7767

A court order requiring dozens of news stories to be removed from the Internet – without news organizations’ or journalists’ knowledge – violated the First Amendment and should be vacated, according to a motion Public Citizen filed late Thursday in the Superior Court for Maricopa County in Arizona.

In 2013, then-Arizona Cardinals cheerleader and Iraq war veteran Megan Welter was arrested after calling the police and falsely reporting herself as a victim of domestic violence by her then-boyfriend. When police arrived, they were shown cell phone video refuting Welter’s assertion and instead arrested Welter for domestic violence. Due to Welter’s military notoriety and high-profile sports job, her domestic call made for unflattering online headlines nationwide in local, state and national publications. The stories were written by journalists at some of the largest and most noteworthy news organizations in the country, including the International Business Times, Daily Mail, CBS News, ABC News, Fox News, Pro Football Talk, The Arizona Republic, Business Insider and the New York Post.

In an attempt to erase her negative online history, Welter filed a lawsuit in 2016, nearly three years after many of these articles were published. She alleged the news articles amounted to defamation as well as invasion of her privacy. She sought damages and injunctive relief to remove from the Internet nearly 100 offending stories carried by various defendants, including individuals and news outlets. By failing to name or notify the media organizations of the lawsuit and by getting her former boyfriend’s consent to be a defendant, Welter tricked a local judge into believing that all parties agreed to have the stories taken offline and, failing that, delisted from Google and other search engines. Within six weeks, the judge granted the request. It is unclear how effective the order was.

Representing Avvo, one of the sites subjected to the motion, Public Citizen argues that the entire lawsuit and the means by which it was filed amounted to a procedural farce that violated the First Amendment. Welter should not have been granted injunctive relief to remove stories containing unflattering portrayals of her life. Public Citizen is concerned about an emerging threat to free speech whereby businesses and individuals are taking advantage of defendants and judges by pursuing what amounts to restrictive gag orders to shut down legitimate complaints and news stories.

Maria Crimi Speth of Phoenix’s Jaburg Wilk is local counsel in the case.

Read the motion here.

Read the motion here.

Democrats in Congress Sue Trump Over Foreign Business Dealings

ConstitutionReprinted from the Blog for Arizona

Nearly 200 Democratic members of Congress filed a federal lawsuit (.pdf) on Wednesday accusing President Trump of violating the Constitution by profiting from business dealings with foreign governments.

The plaintiffs — believed to be the most members of Congress to ever sue a sitting president — contend that Mr. Trump has ignored a constitutional clause that prohibits federal officials from accepting gifts, or emoluments, from foreign powers without congressional approval.

It is the third such lawsuit against Mr. Trump on the issue since he became president, part of a coordinated effort by the president’s critics to force him to reveal his business entanglements and either sell off his holdings or put them in a blind trust.

Like the previous two federal lawsuits, this one, filed in federal court in Washington, accuses Mr. Trump of illegally profiteering from his businesses in a variety of ways, including collecting payments from foreign diplomats who stay in his hotels and accepting trademark approvals from foreign governments for his company’s goods and services.

But it creates a new group of plaintiffs who claim the president’s actions have damaged them: Democratic members of the House and Senate who say they have been wrongly deprived of their constitutional right to rule on whether Mr. Trump can accept such economic benefits from foreign governments, according to Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who led the effort with Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan.

Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution, provides: “No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.”

“The founders ensured that federal officeholders would not decide for themselves whether particular emoluments were likely to compromise their own independence or lead them to put personal interest over national interest,” the lawsuit states.”

“An officeholder, in short, should not be the sole judge of his own integrity.”

Mr. Trump now faces three distinct groups of legal opponents, each alleging they have been harmed in a different way. Earlier this year, private individuals who own hotels or restaurants or book events at hotels that they say compete with Mr. Trump’s joined a lawsuit filed in federal court in New York by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, a nonprofit watchdog group.

* * *

[E]ach new set of plaintiffs makes it harder for the Justice Department to defend the president on the grounds that his opponents have no legal standing to sue him, Mr. Trump’s critics said. “It puts the government in the position of saying that nobody can address this — not hotel competitors, not states, not members of Congress,” said Norman Eisen, the chairman of CREW, which started the legal efforts. “And you cannot get away with that in a rule-of-law system.”

Mr. Blumenthal, a former Connecticut attorney general, said the president’s companies did business in about 20 countries but were shrouded in secrecy, making it impossible for Congress to carry out its constitutional duty of determining whether he was receiving illegal benefits or emoluments. “The truth is we have no clue about the president’s investors,” he said in an interview with reporters Tuesday. “How much is Russian money?”

“What we are seeking first and foremost is disclosure,” he said. “We cannot consent to what we don’t know.”

For the rest of the article visit http://blogforarizona.net/update-draining-the-trump-swamp-democrats-file-emoluments-clause-lawsuit/

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Undermines Business Interests in Push for Mandatory Disclosure of Litigation Funders

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce submitted a letter on June 1, 2017 ,to the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure to force mandatory disclosure of litigation finance.

In submitting the letter, which renews the 2014 petition to the Committee on the same subject, the Chamber proves once again that its true motives run counter to many of the lofty pro-business, pro-innovation goals that it touts.

Three full years after filing the original petition, the Chamber is unable to assert any new reasons for reconsideration of its request, save for the growth of the litigation finance industry.

“It is ironic that the industry growth which the Chamber identifies as justification for the renewed petition seeking mandatory disclosure of litigation finance actually proves how funding is serving a need: namely, facilitating access to an expensive legal system that otherwise only the most well-moneyed players are able to afford,” said Allison Chock, Bentham IMF’s Chief Investment Officer.

Protecting big business

The contradictions in the Chamber’s positions on litigation finance compared with its stated objectives to promote “fair, efficient and innovative capital markets,” and to fight “for the kind of financial rulemaking that protects consumers and investors, encourages reasonable risk taking, {and} doesn’t constrain innovation and growth,” (see https://www.uschamber.com/financial-regulation) belie its true motives.

“It seems the only interests the Chamber is really trying to protect are those belonging to its big business members, who are eager to retain an advantage they typically enjoy in high-stakes commercial disputes: superior financial resources to litigate,” said Ms. Chock. “Providing a level of financial parity for the parties enables disputes to be decided on their true legal merits,” she continued.

Although the Chamber cites the increase in the use of litigation finance by law firms as a cause for alarm, the reality is that those law firms are, in most cases, using such financing to serve precisely those same underserved and underfunded clients — small-to-mid-size businesses and individuals — who cannot otherwise afford to pay a top-tier law firm on an hourly-fee basis to litigate their claims.

“The fact of the matter is, the larger the potential damages and more complicated the case, the harder it is to win. Commercial litigation finance allows all plaintiffs with strong, meritorious claims access to the tools necessary to hold wrongdoers accountable for their actions in court,” Ms. Chock added. “What we’re seeing in the Chamber’s latest petition is prioritization of big-business interests and an attempt to protect the Chamber’s largest and most profitable members from legal accountability under the guise of protecting the public from ‘third parties interested solely in profit.’”

The Chamber’s proposed rule is also unfairly one-sided. If a plaintiff must disclose the terms, amount, and source of its financial backing for its lawsuit, a truly balanced approach would require defendants to make similar disclosures, including how much they can or intend to spend on the case, their own legal departments’ annual internal and external counsel budgets, their law firms’ projected budgets for the case, hourly billing rates, and the like. “Upon looking more closely at the Chamber’s petition, it becomes clear that a proposed rule change requiring mandatory disclosure of litigation finance should, once again, be rejected by the Committee,” said Ms. Chock.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Under Legal Attack Today

Robert Weissman, Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen

“A CFPB with a director serving at the effective pleasure of the Big Banks and the financial industry will be just another captured regulatory agency in Washington, D.C. We already have enough of those,” says said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen.

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit hears arguments in a case challenging the constitutionality of the law that established the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), created in the wake of the 2008 financial crash to protect Main Street consumers against Wall Street predators.

The legal question is whether the statute that created the CFPB violates separation-of-powers principles by providing that the CFPB director can be removed by the president only for cause. A divided lower court in October held that the agency’s leadership structure is unconstitutional.

In PHH Corporation v. CFPB, Public Citizen, together with the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the National Consumer Law Center and Tzedek DC, filed an amicus brief. It explains that Congress created the CFPB as an independent agency to make sure that the agency could avoid political pressure and capture by the industries whose practices it was charged with regulating.

Control by Big Banks?

“Underlying the constitutional issue at stake in this case is a simple question of crucial importance to all Americans: Does the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau work for American consumers or for the Big Banks? With an independent director, the CFPB in a few years has conservatively saved Americans $12 billion and forestalled countless abuses,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “A CFPB with a director serving at the effective pleasure of the Big Banks and the financial industry will be just another captured regulatory agency in Washington, D.C. We already have enough of those.”

Congress determined that failures of existing regulatory agencies were largely attributable to their focusing on the interests and needs of the financial industry they regulated, while giving insufficient attention to the interests and needs of consumers.

As of February 2017, the CFPB has returned nearly $12 billion to more than 29 million consumers victimized by unlawful and fraudulent activity.

The opponents’ proposition that Congress may confer authority on an independent agency only if the agency is headed by a multimember commission finds no support in past U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the groups assert. Nor does the notion that multimember commissions might be better protectors of liberty than agencies directed by single officers bear on the separation-of-powers issue.

PHH v CFPB is a case between a special interest and the American people. Opponents have spent millions to gut an agency that has stood up for military families, students and seniors who have been harmed by financial crimes,” stated Rachel Weintraub, legislative director and general counsel at Consumer Federation of America. “The CFPB has returned $12 billion to 29 million consumers. The American people need the CFPB to stand up for them. This case is about pulling the agency down.”

 

US Supreme Court Strikes Down Racial Gerrymandering in North Carolina

North_Carolina_Congressional_Map_2012-2014WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the redrawing of two congressional districts by the North Carolina legislature after the 2010 census was an unconstitutional racial gerrymander.

“We are pleased that, once again, the Supreme Court has recognized the pernicious and discriminatory effects of unconstitutional racial gerrymandering on African American and other minority communities,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil rights Under Law.  “Moreover, the Court made it clear that it would not allow states to get away with an unlawful racial gerrymandering by claiming that it’s just politics. This is a critical decision as communities prepare for the 2020 redistricting cycle, where states would still be able to purposely create legitimate majority-minority districts, consistent with this opinion.”

Before the redistricting, the two districts did not have a majority of African-American voters, but had consistently elected candidates who were the preference of most African-American voters.  In affirming the ruling of a three-judge District Court, the Supreme Court found that racial considerations predominated in the drawing of the lines of both districts. The justices also found that the State had not met its burden of justifying its line-drawing by showing it was narrowly tailored to a legitimate state interest.

The Lawyers’ Committee, together with its pro bono counsel Munger Tolles & Olson LLP, filed an amicus curiae brief in the matter.

“The Supreme Court rightly found that North Carolina had unlawfully drawn these congressional districts in such a way as to separate citizens into different voting districts on account of race,” said Bradley Phillips, partner for Munger Tolles & Olson LLP.  “That’s wrong and unconstitutional.”

Read the full opinion here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/15-1262_db8e.pdf

The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The Lawyers’ Committee celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 as it continued its quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment, voting, education and environmental justice.

Jeff Sessions — The Incompetent New Sheriff In Town

By Farron Cousins.

This article is reprinted from the Spring 2017 issue of The Trial Lawyer, which can be read online here.

In spite of the recent chorus of people in the United States clamoring for an alternative to status quo politicians, party loyalty still counts for everything among the elite of Washington, D.C., on both sides of the aisle. There is no better example of what loyalty to your own party can get you than the story of Jeff Sessions.

For two decades, our new Attorney General served as a U.S. Senator from the state of Alabama, where he was one of the most consistent and loyal members of the Republican Party. At every given opportunity, Sessions voted against civil rights, against expanding social safety net programs, and he stood firmly against every justice that former President Obama attempted to appoint to the U.S. Supreme Court. During the George W. Bush administration, he served as a loyal lackey for the Republican Party, standing firmly in his support for a ban on same-sex marriage and in favor cutting taxes on the rich and sending our troops to die in a war based on lies.

Sessions’ loyalty prevented him from ever becoming a target within his own party, something that even longstanding Republicans like John McCain and Mitch McConnell haven’t been able to avoid. That should paint a clear enough picture as to why current President Donald Trump tapped the Senator and former Attorney General of Alabama to be the new Attorney General of the United States. Unwavering party loyalty is always rewarded, especially when both major political parties appear to be fracturing from the inside.

But who exactly is America’s new top law enforcement officer, and what can we expect under his rule? The best place to start when trying to predict the future is to look at the past, so let’s start with the most glaringly obvious of Sessions’ faults.

The Racist Skeletons in The Closet

During Sessions’ confirmation hearings, both Senate Democrats and the media were buzzing with stories of Jeff Sessions’ racist history. But for the most part, few outlets ever took the time to really expand upon that singular talking point, opting instead to just throw out the racist label without offering the full context of just how bad a Sessions appointment would be for African Americans in the United States. While he was a U.S. Attorney in Mobile, Alabama, Sessions was discussing a case with some of his colleagues that involved two members of the Ku Klux Klan who brutally murdered a black man and hung his body from a tree. When Sessions learned that members of the Klan had smoked marijuana before the attack, he remarked to his colleagues that he thought the Klan was “okay until I found out they smoked pot.”

It was that very statement that cost him a federal judgeship in the 1980s, when both Democrats and Republicans felt the man, who claimed he was joking when he made that statement, was simply too racist to serve as an unbiased federal judge. The man who testified in that Senate hearing in the 1980s, Thomas Figures, was a black man who worked with Sessions in Mobile. Figures stated that he did not feel at all that Sessions was “joking” when he made that statement about the Klan, and that on countless occasions Sessions would refer to him as “boy” and had once told him to “be careful what you say around white folks.” Figures passed away two years before Sessions’ most recent confirmation hearing.

Meanwhile, other people who worked with Sessions at the same time came forward during that hearing in the 1980s to say that the man was completely unbiased, and without his work the state never would have been able to launch successful prosecutions against Klansmen. But those facts didn’t change the very words that had previously come out of Sessions’ mouth, and his nomination was voted down.

Voter Suppression

Let’s be clear about one thing: Not all racism is overt. Sessions is a man who was born in the state of Alabama during the time of segregation; He was in his formative years when the Civil Rights movement was taking place, and those types of life experiences are certain to have an impact on how one race views another, depending on the type of household they grew up in. While we don’t know if Sessions’ family was pro or anti desegregation, their position on what was happening all around would likely shape how Jeff himself viewed the world. And judging from his actions and words, it is likely that they weren’t welcoming desegregation with open arms. So even if Sessions wasn’t overtly racist, his actions as both a U.S. Attorney and as the 44th Attorney General of Alabama demonstrate a pattern of behavior that was nothing short of hostile towards people of color.

His most egregious act as Alabama’s Attorney General was his ruthless attempt to suppress the votes of African-Americans in the state. This is another issue that helped prevent him from becoming a federal judge in the 1980s. During his time as AG, he brought dozens of cases against African Americans who had been prominent figures in the Civil Rights movement to trial for alleged voter fraud. His office’s investigation originally swept up more than 100 black citizens of Alabama on voter fraud charges, but due to a complete lack of any evidence, those numbers fell down into the 20s in a very short time.

But the few who did end up on trial were taken 160 miles away from the state capital down to Mobile, an area that Sessions knew would give him a mostly white, if not all white, jury (ironically, the jury consisted of seven black jurors and five white ones, so Sessions’ plan backfired beautifully). The courthouse for this trial was surrounded by FBI agents and police officers, all heavily armed and ready to fire shots at anyone outside that became unruly.

Ultimately, the people brought in on charges of voter fraud were acquitted due to an overwhelming lack of evidence. But Sessions didn’t care — he made his point. Those closest to both Sessions and the defendants are very clear when they tell this story — the men were brought to trial by Sessions because they were helping African Americans register to vote, and that’s what Sessions wanted to put an end to in his state. It wasn’t about the alleged fraud (that didn’t exist); it was a message to black activists that they would go through a similar time-consuming, expensive ordeal if they decided to get their communities active. That was Sessions’ plan all along.

Friend of Wall Street

One of the biggest criticisms of President Obama’s Attorney Generals — Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch — was that they were far too lenient (friendly) with Wall Street banking criminals. Holder came from the corporate defense firm of Covington Burling which has made millions representing these banks, while Lynch actually served on the board for the Federal Reserve Bank in New York. This helps explain why the Wall Street bankers who crippled our economy right before Obama took office never saw a day in prison, instead paying paltry fines that were largely written off and paid for by taxpayers. But if those ties to Wall Street gave you shivers then Sessions’ ties to Wall Street bankers will leave you nauseated. During his time as a U.S. Senator, Sessions received a grand total of more than $2.5 million from the finance industry for his campaigns, making them his single largest industry donor. But the direct financing of his political career is only a small piece of the Sessions puzzle, and he has done everything in his power to make sure that the big banks were well taken care of when he had a say in the matter.

In 2007, Sessions was busted trying to push through legislation in the Senate that would have prevented specific banks from having to pay royalties to a tech company that developed technology to convert paper checks into digital transactions. At the time, these banks were paying billions of dollars a year to use the tech firm to use this technology, but Sessions put forth legislation that would have stopped those payments immediately. But what Sessions didn’t tell anyone is that he owned quite a bit of stock in both Citigroup and Compass Bank, two of the banks that would have been allowed to stop paying royalties under Sessions’ legislation.

It is safe to assume that given his history of coddling Wall Street, we will likely endure another four years of Wall Street bankers ripping off consumers with little to no punishment. Even the paltry fines of the Obama years will likely disappear with Sessions at the helm of the Department of Justice.

Potential Perjury

While his positions on the issues are worrisome, those aren’t even the biggest problems facing the newly-appointed Attorney General. The biggest concerns at the moment center around the fact that Sessions likely perjured himself during his confirmation hearing. Amid the growing fervor over Russia’s involvement or non-involvement in the U.S. elections and in the Trump administration itself, Sessions was asked by Democratic Senator Al Franken during his confirmation hearing if he would recuse himself should an investigation into the matter ever manifest.

This is Sessions’ response to that question:

“Senator Franken, I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I didn’t — did not have communications with the Russians. And I’m unable to comment on it.”

It is important to note that Senator Franken did not ask Sessions if he, personally, had ever had any contact with the Russians. Sessions offered up that information completely on his own. And he was under oath, another major point to consider.

As it turns out, that voluntary piece of information during his confirmation hearing is what could ultimately prove to be his undoing, because evidence has emerged that shows that Sessions did, in fact, meet at least twice with a Russian ambassador during the presidential campaign, making his statement flat out false.

There are several important things to understand at this point. The first is that we do not know why Sessions was meeting with the ambassador. Defenders have claimed that since Sessions served on the Armed Services Committee it was only natural for him to meet with the ambassador, as this practice is common. However, other members of the Committee have confirmed that, no, this is not normal behavior. But all of that misses the point. The argument is not over what he talked to the ambassador about, the point is that the man lied under oath. For all we know the two could have been discussing the merits of pet ownership — the content of the conversation is completely irrelevant to the fact that Sessions denied the meeting under oath, and therefore likely committed perjury. The content and context of the meetings don’t matter.

In the wake of the scandal, Sessions did finally come out and say that he would recuse himself from any investigations involving meetings between the Trump campaign and Russia, but that didn’t stop Senate Democrats and even a handful of Republicans from demanding that Sessions either step down as Attorney General, or that an investigation into the potential perjury get underway.

Only time will tell at this point if the Democrats have the courage and stamina to bring perjury charges, or if they will tire and move on to other issues.

Future

All of the factors mentioned paint a fairly depressing picture of the future of American justice under our new Attorney General. Jeff Sessions has a disturbing history of consistently being on the wrong of social issues from gender equality to marriage equality to racial equality. Couple that with his willingness to allow the “rights” of corporations to trump those of the American public and we can already predict that the next four years — or however long this man remains at the top position of the Department of Justice — are going to be ones in which American consumers are continuously stepped on as corporations get everything that they could ever want from both Attorney General Sessions and the Republicans who gave him his new power.

 

Court Rejects Georgia Officials’ Efforts To Block Voting Rights Lawsuit

Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee

Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee.

A federal district court judge in Georgia agreed that a coalition of plaintiffs representing minority communities has the right to claim the method of electing local officials in Gwinnett County, Georgia denies them from participating equally in electing local officials.

In her opinion in Georgia State Conference of the NAACP v. Gwinnett County Board of Registrations and Elections, Judge Amy Totenberg rejected the County’s argument that claims under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act are limited to members of a single minority group. Judge Totenberg noted that the Eleventh Circuit and other courts have held that coalition claims are permissible so long as the racial groups are politically cohesive. The decision was issued on Friday.

“This case is yet another example of how voting discrimination remains rampant across the State of Georgia,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee. “The court’s ruling recognizes that all minority voters have access to protection under the Voting Rights Act if they are denied an equal opportunity to participate in the political process. From our litigation against Georgia’s illegal registration cutoff for federal runoff elections to its recent racial gerrymander of two State House districts – one of which is in Gwinnett County – much work remains to be done to combat voting discrimination and voter suppression in the state.”

Judge Totenberg also ruled that Gwinnett County’s standing-related challenges are moot because the Plaintiffs filed an amended version of the complaint recently in response to a separate court order. The County will have the opportunity to raise its standing argument again in a subsequent pleading.

Gwinnett County is a majority-minority county according to the 2010 Census, yet no minority candidate has ever won election to a county-level office, including the Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, on behalf of a coalition of Plaintiffs representing African-Americans, Latinos, and Asian-Americans, alleges the process of electing officials to local offices prevents minority voters from having an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.

In their complaint, the Plaintiffs allege that two majority-minority Board of Commissioners districts should be drawn to give African-American, Latino and Asian-American voters an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice. The Plaintiffs in this case include the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO), and nine Gwinnett County voters.

“When minority voters coalesce to form a coalition, they should be protected by the Voting Rights Act,” said Jerry Gonzalez, GALEO executive director. “GALEO is glad that the case moves forward to ensure minority voters in Gwinnett County will be protected against vote dilution.”

“This ruling reaffirms the value of our fusion coalition. Like America, our coalition is black, white, and brown; gay and straight; the faithful and those of no particular faith are united in the belief that working together we can make democracy work,” said Francys Johnson, Statesboro attorney and Georgia NAACP President.

“We are pleased that the Court recognized the broad reach of the Voting Rights Act to protect communities of color that stand together from vote dilution,” said Brian Sutherland of Buckley Beal, the Atlanta-based firm that serves as a co-counsel in the case.

The current Board of Education district map assigns about 74.4 percent of the African-American, Latino and Asian-American voters to District 5 and splits the balance of the minority population across the other four districts where African-Americans, Latinos and Asian-Americans do not constitute a majority of the population. The complaint alleges that the Board of Education districts should be re-drawn to include a second majority-minority district so that minority voters have a fair opportunity to elect candidates of their choice to the Board of Education.

The Plaintiffs are represented by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Crowell & Moring LLP, and Buckley Beal, LLP.