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Tag: civil rights

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.”

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.