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November 2015
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Tag: civil rights

FBI’s Program about Violent Extremism in Schools Draws Criticism

schoolBy Steve Neavling

An interactive program designed by the FBI to help teachers and students identify warning signs of violent extremism has drawn strong criticism Muslims and civil rights leaders, the New York Times reports. 

The program, called “Don’t Be a Puppet,” predominately focuses on Islamic extremism, even though that has not been a factor in school shootings and attacks.

The New York Times wrote:

In the campaign against terrorists such as the Islamic State, law enforcement agencies have been stepping up efforts to identify those susceptible to recruitment. The agencies have enlisted the cooperation and advice of religious and community leaders. But the controversy over the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s new online tool is one more indication that there is no consensus on who should be involved in detecting and reporting suspects, and where to draw the line between prevention and racial or religious profiling.

“The F.B.I. is developing a website designed to provide awareness about the dangers of violent extremist predators on the Internet,” a spokeswoman for the agency said late Sunday, “with input from students, educators and community leaders.”

Video: Former DEA Agent Clashes with Black Lives Matter Activist over Anti-Police Rhetoric

By Steve Neavling

It was a heated moment Monday afternoon between a former DEA official and a Black Lives Matter activist.

“For too long, we have lived in a society that has poured resources, too many resources, into a policing system that creates an unsafe situation, especially in black communities,” Black Lives Matter organizer Melina Abdullah said on CNN.

But some of the anti-police rhetoric, such as chanting, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon!,” drew a strong response by former DEA agent David Katz.

“Are you listening to me?” he asked after repeating some of the chants now associated with BLM, including one where participants chants, “What do we want? Dead cops. When do we want them? Now.”

“Are you listening?” he repeated.

Other Stories of Interest

Congressional Bill Seeks to Remove J. Edgar Hoover’s Name from FBI’s Headquarters

J. Edgar Hoover

J. Edgar Hoover

By Steve Neavling

Saying J. Edgar Hoover stomped on the civil rights of Americans, a congressman has introduced a bill to remove the former FBI director’s name from the bureau’s headquarters building, WREG Memphis reports. 

Congressman Steve Cohen said Hoover’s poor treatment of African Americans, gay people and others is reason enough to remove the name.

“The civil rights we enjoy today are in spite of J. Edgar Hoover, not because of him. Yet, his name adorns one of the most prominent buildings in our nation’s capital and one that houses one of the agencies of government responsible for justice,” Cohen said. “Given his well-documented abuses and prejudices towards African Americans, gays, and lesbians, I believe it is past time to remove his name from this place of honor.”

He added: “His efforts to silence Dr. King and out homosexuals working for the government were deplorable and a stain on our nation’s history and on the FBI,” he added.

Eight other members of Congress are sponsoring the bill.

Jeffrey Sallet Becomes Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s New Orleans Division

Jeffrey Sallet

Jeffrey Sallet

By Steve Neavling

The new special agent in charge of the New Orleans division has plenty of experience investigating public corruption and civil rights abuses.

Fox 8 reports that FBI Director James Comey has appointed Jeffrey S. Sallet to take the post.

Sallet, who has worked for the FBI since 1997, was most recently the chief of public corruption and civil rights section in the Criminal Investigative Division.

Sallet was the case agent for the investigation of Joseph Massino, the family boss of the Bonanno La Coa Nostra.

Border Patrol Agent Charged in 2012 Shooting Death of Mexican Teenager

border patrol 3By Steve Neavling

A Border Patrol agent who killed a Mexican teenager in a cross-border shooting was charged with second-degree murder, CBS News reports. 

Lonnie Swartz was indicted by a federal grand jury, an attorney for Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez’s family said.

“The Elena Rodriguez Family is grateful to the DOJ (Department of Justice) for this first step in the pursuit of justice, and remain steadfast in their resolve to seek full transparency from the U.S. Border Patrol on behalf of Jose Antonio,” Parra said.

Swartz’s attorney said he expects his client to plead not guilty on Oct. 9.

Swartz said his life was in danger when he shot the 16-year-old on Oct. 10, 2012, when he said the teenager was among a group of rock-throwers.

His family said Swartz wasn’t throwing rocks and was walking home from a basketball game when he was shot about 10 times.

FBI Passes Up Another Opportunity to Re-Open Civil Rights Cold Case

Lloyd Gaines/Wikipedia

Lloyd Gaines/Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling

Soon after winning a landmark legal battle to become the first black student in the University of Missouri’s law school, Lloyd Gaines vanished in 1939.

The FBI declined to investigate in 1940 and 1970.

Records obtained by the Associated Press show that the bureau again declined to investigate the case between 2006 and 2013, despite reviewing more than 100 others as part of the Department of Justice initiative and Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Act.

“They should have done more way back when,” said nephew George Gaines, a retiree who lives in San Diego. “I don’t believe there would have been much uncovered more recently. People die, memories fade, records are destroyed. And some people choose not to remember.”

In 1938, the Supreme Court ruled that Gaines, who grew up in St. Louis, must be allowed into the law school or the university must establish a separate law school for black people.

What happened to Gaines remains unclear. Some believe he was killed; others believe he moved to Mexico.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Opens Investigation into Fatal Shooting of Man Carrying Air Rifle

broward countyBy Steve Neavling

Jermaine McBean was listening to music through earbuds and carrying an air rifle when a sheriff’s deputy fatally shot him in 2013.

The FBI has opened the an investigation into the shooting to determine whether McBean’s civil rights were violated when he was shot by Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Peter Peraza, the Associated Press reports. Authorities said he may not have heard the commands to drop the gun because of the music.

Deputy Peraza was responding to a 911 call about a man openly carrying what appeared to be a rifle down the street.

The FBI investigation will focus on whether the deputy used excessive force in a “willful” or “unreasonable” manner.

A separate state investigation is ongoing.

Baltimore Mayor Asks for Full-Scale Civil Rights Investigation of Police Department

By Steve Neavling

In an unusual move for a city, Baltimore’s mayor is asking for a full-scale civil rights investigation into alleged abuse within the police department following a riot over the police-involved death of Freddie Gray and other black suspects.

“We all know that Baltimore continues to have a fractured relationship between the police and the community,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said, reports the Baltimore Sun. “I’m willing to do what it takes to reform my department.”

Spokeswoman Dena Iverson said Attorney General Loretta Lynch “is actively considering that option in light of what she heard from law enforcement, city officials and community, faith and youth leaders in Baltimore.”

The Justice Department has conducted investigations of police departments in 20 cities, including Cleveland and New Orleans.

The investigations typically take 18 to 24 months.