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Tag: civil rights

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. 

Woman at FBI’s Philadelphia Office Claims Sexual Discrimination After She Was Demoted

Megan Lampinski is suing the FBI for sexual discrimination. Photo via Linked In.

Megan Lampinski is suing the FBI for sexual discrimination. Photo via Linked In.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A woman who previously headed the FBI Philadelphia office’s computer unit claimed Thursday that she was demoted and replaced with a male employee.

In a civil rights lawsuit, computer specialist Megan Lampinski was removed from her job as a supervisor the information technology division in 2008 because of sexual discrimination, Philly.com reports. 

“The government asserts she was a poor supervisor…. The evidence doesn’t back that up,” Lampinski’s attorney, Maurice R. Mitts, told a jury in the civil trial, noting glowing performance evaluations that Lampinski had received before she was demoted.

Lampinski, 52, was promoted to supervisor in the information technology unit in 2004. Then four years later, she said, she was given a nonsupervisory position in security screening, a job for which she had no experience.

The FBI asserts that Lampinski wasn’t performing well.

“There was no discrimination and no retaliation,” said government attorney Kelly A. Smith.

The trial continues Friday.

Homeland Security Pledges to Help Investigate Uptick in Hate Crimes

Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center.

Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security pledged to help investigate a rise in hate-based crimes, from bomb threats to Jewish institutions to shootings of Indian nationals.

Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly said Thursday that the “apparent hate-inspired attacks and harassment against individuals and communities” are “unacceptable.”

DHS’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and the Office of International Engagement will be used in the investigations.

So far this year, about 90 Jewish community centers and schools have received threats, often about bombs.

Homeland Security’s help is long-awaited as civil rights leaders have questioned the Trump administration’s slow response to addressing an uptick in hate crimes.

Full Homeland Security statement:

Over the past few weeks, our country has seen an unacceptable and disturbing rise in the number of apparent hate-inspired attacks and harassment against individuals and communities. I strongly condemn any violent acts to perpetuate fear and intimidation not only against individuals, but entire communities. I pledge the full support of the Department of Homeland Security to assist local, state, and federal investigations into these incidents.

In response to these attacks, I have directed the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties to work with impacted communities. We will heighten our outreach and support to groups affected by these incidents to enhance public safety. The Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties will hold Incident Communication Coordination Team calls with impacted communities. The DHS Office of International Engagement will also continue to work with foreign governments whose nationals have been affected by these violent acts.

The United States has a history of welcoming and accepting individuals regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or national origin. Freedom of religion is a cherished American value, guaranteed by the United States Constitution. DHS is committed to protecting all people’s right to that essential freedom.

Activists: Reopen Case of Emmett Till After Witness Lied About What Happened

Emmett Till

Emmett Till

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Civil rights activists and others are calling for the federal government to reopen its investigation of the killing of Emmett Till, a black teenager who was killed in Mississippi in 1955 for allegedly flirting with a white woman.

The renewed interest in the case comes after Carolyn Bryant, who accused Till of grabbing her and asking her for a date, said she was not physically assaulted by the 14-year-old. The revelation came in a book, “The Blood of Emmett Till.”

“Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him,” the author Timothy Tyson quoted her as saying.

On Monday, activists rallied outside the Mississippi Capitol, calling for justice for the teen, whose killers were found not guilty by an all-white jury. They later admitted they killed Till.

Activists believe Donham should be charged.

“We just don’t want a conviction,” community activist Duvalier Malone said. “We want an apology.”

What remains unclear is what Donham could be charged with.

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.”