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Tag: civil rights

Sen. Booker Blasts Trump’s Choice for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions

Sen. Cory Booker

Sen. Cory Booker

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Sen. Cory Booker delivered passionate testimony Wednesday that claimed Sen. Jeff Sessions would not seek justice for everyone if he was the next U.S. attorney general.

“If confirmed, Senator Sessions will be required to pursue justice for women, but his record indicates that he won’t,” the New Jersey Democrat said. “He will be expected to defend the equal rights of gay and lesbian and transgender Americans, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend voting rights, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend the rights of immigrants and affirm their human dignity, but the record indicates that he won’t.”

Despite complaints from opponents of Sessions, it appeared unlikely that Democrats could stop the Republican-controlled Senate from confirming him.

Civil Rights and immigration advocates have opposed Sessions’ appointment.

Former attorney general Michael Mukasey disagreed, saying Sessions is “thoroughly dedicated to the rule of law and the mission of the department.”

Police Reforms Likely Won’t Be Priority of Trump’s Justice Department

Militarized police

Militarized police

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Eight years of police reforms under President Obama could be undone with the election of Donald Trump.

That’s a big concern for former Attorney General Eric Holder, who has described the Civil Rights Division as the department’s “crown jewel,” Vice News reports. 

Trump’s choice of Alabama Sen. Jeff Session as attorney general has raised serious concerns because his voting record and statements as a senator suggest he believes the federal government should not be involved with policing.

And with Trump’s pledge to reestablish “law and order,” many worry that the Justice Department is poised for a dramatic shift in priorities

Vice News wrote:

The Justice Department under President Barack Obama focused on criminal justice and police reform more heavily than past administrations did.

Laurie Robinson, who served as assistant attorney general from 1993 to 2000 and then again from 2009 to 2012, characterized Obama’s personal interest in the issue as “highly unusual” for a president but “helpful in spearheading attention.”

Ezekiel Edwards, director of the Criminal Law Reform Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, added that “the Obama administration understood better than previous administrations the calamities that were taking place.”

Trump Selects Controversial Sen. Jeff Sessions for Attorney General

Jeff Sessions

Jeff Sessions

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for attorney general is Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, a controversial pick because of his staunchly conservative positions on immigration, gay rights and Muslims.

The 69-year-old, four-term Alabama Republican also has a history of making racist statements, which kept him from getting a judgeship under President Reagan in 1986.

Sessions, for example, said the NAACP and other organizations are “communist inspired” and “un-American organizations with anti-traditional American values,” the New York Times reported at the time.

During a committee hearing in 1986, Thomas Figures, a black assistant U.S. attorney who worked for Sessions, testified that the Alabama Republican said he thought KKK members were “OK, until he learned that they smoked marijuana.”

Sessions also has argued that immigrants don’t have constitutional protections and that prison sentencing shouldn’t be overhauled for drug convictions.

When Trump proposed a complete shutdown on Muslims entering the U.S., Sessions defended the idea.

Asked whether he would serve in Trump’s administration Thursday, Sessions said he’d be “honored.”

Judge: Conditions at Border Patrol Detention Centers Violate Civil Rights

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A federal judge plans to order Border Patrol to improve sleeping conditions at detention centers in Arizona, saying the detainees’ civil rights are being violated.

U.S. District Court Judge David C. Buru, who is presiding over a lawsuit filed on behalf of three former detainees, said the conditions must be improved, Tucson.com reports.

“I think the deprivation of sleep, at the very least, in this case is a violation of the civil rights of a civil detainee and that needs to be fixed,” Bury said at a hearing in Tucson on Tuesday.

Bury’s plan to grant preliminary relief is not a formal order, but he said he plans to work with both sides to work out a solution.

While acknowledging “the Border Patrol has a really tough job,” Bury said it’s still no excuse for inhumane conditions.

“The complexity of government operations cannot trump civil rights, neither can budgetary constraints,” the judge said.

An attorney for the detainees said they are constantly interrupted while trying to sleep because agents are constantly processing new detainees.

Border Patrol’s ‘Icebox’ Conditions Raise Troubling Questions in Court

Detainees used these mylar mats to stave off the cold in detention centers.

Detainees used these mylar mats to stave off the cold in detention centers.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol has come under fire from federal prosecutors and civil-rights advocates following the discovery that immigrants are forced to sleep on cold concrete floors.

Tucson.com reports that the floors were so called that they earned the nickname, hierleras,” or iceboxes.

A federal hearing on the issue began Monday, and U.S. District Court Judge David C. Bury said he has “concerns” about the court filings.

Bury also referenced statistics that show most detainees are forced to stay in detention centers twice as long as the agency’s recommendation of 12 hours or less.

Border Patrol defended the actions, saying it’s doing the best with limited resources.

“But this court can’t be concerned with budgetary issues,” Bury said.

FBI Investigates Fire at Black Church Where ‘Vote Trump’ Tagged on Side

2000px-washington_county_mississippi_incorporated_and_unincorporated_areas_greenville_highlighted-svgBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating a fire that tore through a black church in Mississippi that was scrawled with the message, “Vote Trump,” in silver spray paint.

The bureau’s civil rights investigation is in coordination with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations.

The suspicious fire Tuesday night caused heavy damage to the 200-member Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Greenville, Mississippi, the New York Times reports. 

Mayor Errick Simmons described the fire and graffiti as a “heinous, hateful, cowardly act.”

“We consider it a hate crime … because of the political message which we believe was intended to interfere with worship and intimidate voters,” Simmons said. “This act is a direct assault on people’s right to freely worship.”

The FBI said it’s working with all levels of law enforcement.

“The FBI Jackson Division is aware of the situation in Greenville, and we are working with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to determine if any civil rights crimes were committed,” state FBI spokesman Brett Carr said in an email.

Justice Department Shakeup Seeks to Jumpstart Probe into Eric Garner’s Death

Eric Garner with his children, via National Action Network

Eric Garner with his children, via National Action Network

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

In an unusual shakeup, the Justice Department has dumped a New York team of agents and lawyers investigating the death of Eric Garner, who was killed when a police officer placed him in a chokehold over selling untaxed cigarettes.

The Justice Department is replacing the agents and lawyers after the case has been stymied over a dispute between federal prosecutors and FBI officials about whether to file charges, the New York Times reports.

Prosecutors with the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department have been in favor of filing charges, saying there is sufficient evidence in the case.

Recently FBI agents were replaced with agents outside of New York. Federal prosecutors were taken off the case.

It’s not yet clear whether the civil rights prosecutors will work solo to present evidence to a grand jury.

The Justice Department and FBI declined to comment.

The shakeup was criticized for the attorney of Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who placed Garner, 43, in a chokehold.

“If it is true that the Justice Department is rejecting the recommendations of seasoned F.B.I. agents and assistant United States attorneys, this is a gross miscarriage of justice,” the attorney, Stuart London, said. “In our system of justice, politics should never take the place of the rule of law.”

Ex-Louisiana Cop Admits He Lied about Striking Woman in Civil Rights Case

HomerLouisianaPoliceDept (1)By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former Louisiana police officer who used excessive force on a woman in 2012 has pleaded guilty to violating her civil rights and lying to the FBI.

Homer Police Department Officer Willie Fred Knowles was accused of pushing the woman to the floor and striking her face and body, the Guardian reports. 

When questioned by the FBI, the officer falsely claimed the woman pounced on him and that he never struck her.

Authorities said Knowles also used his taser against two people in 2012 “without justification.”

He faces five year in prison when sentenced.

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