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Tag: civil rights

JFK Files Prompt Calls to Publicly Release Files on Civil Rights Killings

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Tune into 910AM the Superstation at 11 a.m Friday for a discussion on the release of files on civil rights killings. 

The long-awaited release of secret John F. Kennedy assassination files has prompted a push for the FBI to release secret or redacted files on killings during the civil rights era.

Students from Highstown High School in New Jersey lobbied Congress to make the files public.

“This issue is not as prominent within the mainstream media, but it should be,” one of the students, senior Zabir Rahman, told the Clarion Ledger. “The families of the victims of these atrocious crimes deserve justice if they can get it and some measure of closure.” 

The students used the JFK Records Collection Act of 1992 as a model for what they called the “Cold Case Records Collection Act of 2017,” which would create an independent review board to coordinate the release of classified records on civil rights killings.

Many of the killings are detailed in FBI files that remain largely redacted. They include the KKK’s 1964 killing of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner and the 1959 lynching of Mack Charles Parker.

FBI records on the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. also contain redactions.

Activists also are calling on redacted files relating to the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X.

Civil rights lawyers said the largely secret files make it difficult to solve cold cases.

The measure to release the files was introduced in March by U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, an Illinois Democrat, and is under consideration by the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee.

So far the bill has received bipartisan support. Also backing the bill is Cynthia Deitle, a former FBI special agent who ran the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Cold Case Division.

“The Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act of 2017 is a crucial piece of legislation that must be passed by Congress and signed by President Trump,” she Deitle in a statement. “We as a society can no longer wait for vital records housed within the FBI to stay within their exclusive control. The federal government needs to release the records to researchers, academics, journalists and others who are devoted to finding the truth as to what happened to thousands of individuals who were murdered as a result of racially-motivated homicides. We have the ability, with passage of this act, to rewrite history and bring justice long delayed.”

FBI Terrorism Unit Warns of Potential Violence from Black Activists

Protest in Detroit. Photo by Steve Neavling.

Protest in Detroit. Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A leaked FBI report shows the federal government is worried that “black identity extremists” are a violent threat.

The August 2017 assessment by the FBI’s counter-terrorism division claims that “perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence.” 

The assessment has raised concerns among civil rights activists that black activists will be targets of surveillance.

“When we talk about enemies of the state and terrorists, with that comes an automatic stripping of those people’s rights to speak and protest,” Mohammad Tajsar, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Guardian. “It marginalizes what are legitimate voices within the political debate that are calling for racial and economic justice.” 

In a statement to Foreign Policy, the FBI said it cannot initiate an investigation based solely on an individual’s race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, or the exercise of First Amendment rights.” 

FBI Launches Civil Rights Investigation into Mass Shooting at Tennessee Church

Emanuel Kidega Samson

Emanuel Kidega Samson

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has launched a civil rights investigation into the mass shooting that killed one woman and wounded eight others at a church in Nashville, Tenn., on Sunday.

“The Memphis FBI Field Office’s Nashville Resident Agency, the Civil Rights Division, and the US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee have opened a civil rights investigation into the shooting at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee,” David Boling, spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Nashville, said in a statement.

“The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence. As this is an ongoing investigation we are not able to comment further at this time.”

Police identified the attacker as Emanuel Kidega Samson, 25, a legal U.S. resident who came to the U.S. from Sudan and lived in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Authorities were still unsure of a motive Sunday evening, but church members told investigators that Samson attended the church a few times in the past year or two.

Samson first opened fire in the parking lot at the Burnette Chapel Church, fatally shooting a woman who was walking to her car. Samson then walked into the church with two pistols, shooting six people. Samson also was injured from a self-inflicted gunshot to the chest and was hospitalized for several hours before he was taken into police custody.

He is expected to be charged today with murder and other related charges.

Ex-FBI Agent Writes True-Crime Book about Civil Rights Abuses in Small Texas Town

Former FBI agent writes true-crime book.

Former FBI agent writes true-crime book.


By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former FBI agent is writing his first true-crime book about corruption, extortion and staged burglaries in the unlikely Texas town of Tenaha.

Former Agent Stewart Fillmore began investigating the case in 2009 and has turned it into a book entitled, “Tenaha: Corruption and Cover-Up in Small Town Texas.”

“You know dirty public officials. I think that’s an intriguing topic to a lot of people,” Fillmore told KTRE.

The case involved a federal civil lawsuit that accused elected officials in the small town of stopping black motorists and seeing their money and property under the threat of arrest.

“There was nothing that we found to be illegal that would rise to the level of putting someone in jail,” Fillmore said.

Fillmore got a break int he case after receiving a letter by then-Constable Fred Walker.

“It was an extortion letter and it was from someone calling themselves Jack Frost,” Fillmore said. “Jack Frost claimed that Fred Walker and another individual named Rod McClure were stealing narcotics out of the Tenaha City Marshal’s evidence room and that Jack Frost, in this extortion letter, wanted $70,000 from both of them for his silence.”

Trump’s Pick to Head DOJ Civil Rights Division Spurs Criticism

Eric Dreiband was nominated to

Eric Dreiband was nominated to head DOJ Civil Rights Division.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s nomination to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division has drawn criticism because he previously defended major corporations and others against discrimination lawsuits.

Eric Dreiband, who served as general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under George W. Bush, defended companies accused of discrimination based on age, pregnancy and religion, CNN reports. 

The labor attorney for Jones Day would undermine “fundamental civil rights priorities,” the NAACP Legal Defense Fund said last week.

“Dreiband has devoted most of his career to defending corporations in employment discrimination cases and advocating for weaker antidiscrimination protections in the workplace,” the statement said. “He also has a troubling lack of experience, having done no significant work in other issue areas central to the Division’s mission, including urgent priorities like voting rights and policing reform.”

Danita Gupta, who held the same position under President Barack Obama, wrote in a statement: “Whoever leads the ‘crown jewel’ of the Justice Department must have deep relationships with stakeholders and marginalized communities, and have a deep, abiding faith in our nation’s civil rights laws. They must respect the laws that touch everyone, rights that people have literally died for. They must respect the role of what has been called the conscience of the federal government. In all those regards, Eric Dreiband is woefully unqualified to lead the Civil Rights Division.”

The White House fought back Friday.

“The White House judges nominees on the merits of their character and not on the clients they once represented as counsel,” White House spokeswoman Kelly Love told CNN. “Mr. Dreiband is highly qualified to run the civil rights division, and we are privileged to have his service.”

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Raids Pennsylvania Home of Suspected White Supremacists

FBI file photo of KKK items.

FBI file photo of KKK items.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI raided a Pennsylvania home as part of an investigation into white supremacists.

About 50 agents from the FBI and other federal agencies raided the home in Phillipsburg near Penn State University in central Pennsylvania.

Federal authorities declined to provide more specifics about the investigation or raid.

“It’s more than just a guy in his basement. That’s for sure,” Southern Poverty Law Center senior investigative reporter Ryan Lenz told lehighvalleylive.com.

Neighbors said the they often saw white supremacists at the home that was raided.

Justice Department May Reopen Investigation into 1955 Killing of Emmett Till

Emmett Till

Emmett Till

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is considering reopening its investigation into the brutal 1955 killing of Emmett Till.

The infamous case took a new turn recently when a witness, Carolyn Bryant Donham, admitted she lied during the murder trial when she testified that the black teenager touched her.

Till’s killers were not convicted.

“Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him,” Donham was quoted as saying in a new book, “The Blood of Emmett Till.”

“The Department is currently assessing whether the newly revealed statement could warrant additional investigation,” Acting Assistant Attorney General T.E. Wheeler II wrote U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson in a letter, the Clarion-Ledger reports. 

But Wheeler warned that historic cases such as this are difficult to prosecute.

“We caution, however, that even with our best efforts, investigations into historic cases are exceptionally difficult, and there may be insurmountable legal and evidentiary barriers to bringing federal charges against any remaining living persons,” he wrote.

Till was only 14 when two brothers abducted him on false claims that he wolf-whistled at Donham. Till was brutally beaten and shot in the head.

His death was a major impetus for the civil rights movement.

Other Stories of Interest

Jones: Jeff Sessions Shows No Respect for Black Lives After Consent Decree Review

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the Trump campaign.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the Trump campaign.

Solomon Jones
Philadelphia Inquirer

After the recent actions of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, even the few black voters who supported Donald Trump despite his bigoted campaign rhetoric must now admit the obvious. A vote for Trump was a vote for racist policies.

Sessions’ decision to order a broad review of federal agreements with dozens of law-enforcement agencies is nothing short of an attack on black and brown people. After all, those agreements were necessitated by systemic police abuses targeting minority communities. Attempting to pull out of those agreements – most of which have already been approved in federal court – delivers an indisputable message: Black lives don’t matter to the Trump administration.

And make no mistake. This is about black lives.

That truth is not lost on activists who’ve long fought systemic police abuses targeting blacks. Few of them are surprised that Sessions – who once was denied a federal judgeship based largely on allegations of racism – is the man leading the charge.

“Jeff Sessions’ entire career in the justice system is rooted in racism and anti-blackness,” Asa Khalif, who leads Pennsylvania Black Lives Matter, told me. “If there was ever a time to rally and stand together as black people, it’s now.”

Given that Trump thanked black people for not voting after his surprising Electoral College victory, I think Khalif is right. We must stand together, because the examination of police departments across the country were spurred by high-profile police killings of unarmed African Americans. The same black people featured prominently in Justice Department reports that meticulously documented patterns of systemic police abuse.

The Obama administration compiled one such report following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died after suffering a spinal injury in a police van when officers failed to properly restrain him with seat belts. Based on interviews, documents and an extensive review of six years of data, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division concluded that the Baltimore Police Department engaged in an ongoing pattern of discrimination against African Americans.

The report minced no words in laying out the truth.

“BPD’s targeted policing of certain Baltimore neighborhoods with minimal oversight or accountability disproportionately harms African-American residents,” the report said. “Racially disparate impact is present at every stage of BPD’s enforcement actions, from the initial decision to stop individuals on Baltimore streets to searches, arrests and uses of force. These racial disparities, along with evidence suggesting intentional discrimination, erode the community trust that is critical to effective policing.”

To read more click here.