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Tag: race

Former FBI Director Hoover Would Have Been Suspicious of Comey’s Speech on Race

FBI Director James Comey

By E.J. Dionne
Washington Post

Last week’s speech by FBI Director James Comey at Georgetown University was remarkable on its own terms, but revolutionary in the context of his agency’s history. You wonder if the late J. Edgar Hoover would have accused Comey of subversive intent.

“All of us in law enforcement must be honest enough to acknowledge that much of our history is not pretty,” Comey said. “At many points in American history, law enforcement enforced the status quo, a status quo that was often brutally unfair to disfavored groups.”

He explained why he keeps on his desk a copy of Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s approval of Hoover’s request to wiretap Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “The entire application is five sentences long, it is without fact or substance, and is predicated on the naked assertion that there is ‘Communist influence in the racial situation.’” He calls agents’ attention to the document, he said, “to ensure that we remember our mistakes and that we learn from them.”

And who would think an FBI director would cite Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist, a song from the Broadway hit Avenue Q? His point: “Many people in our white-majority culture have unconscious racial biases and react differently to a white face than a black face.”

Yet Comey was unabashedly pro-cop. He fondly recalled his grandfather, William J. Comey, who rose to head the Yonkers, New York, police department. “Law enforcement is not the root cause of problems in our hardest-hit neighborhoods,” the FBI director said. “Police officers — people of enormous courage and integrity, in the main — are in those neighborhoods, risking their lives, to protect folks from offenders who are the product of problems that will not be solved by body cameras.”

To read more click here.

FBI Director Comey Delivers Candid Speech about Racial Biases in Law Enforcement

Director James B. Comey speaking in Orlando.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James B. Comey delivered a candid speech Thursday about the strained relationship between police and African Americans, saying officers who work in areas with high black crime often develop a racial bias, the New York Times reports. 

Comey said the speech was intended to create a healthy dialogue that didn’t exist after the shooting of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

It was the most extensive address about race ever give by an FBI director, the Times wrote.

“All of us in law enforcement must be honest enough to acknowledge that much of our history is not pretty,” he said. “At many points in American history, law enforcement enforced the status quo, a status quo that was often brutally unfair to disfavored groups.”

Comey cited research that suggests unconscious racial biases.

“Although the research may be unsettling, what we do next is what matters most,” Mr. Comey said.

Comey to Become First FBI Director to Speak Publicly About Race at Length

FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

No FBI director has spoken publicly and at length about the issue of race.

Until today.

FBI Director James B. Comey plans to discuss the strained relationship between police officers and African Americans at a speech at Georgetown University, the New York Times reports.

Comey is expected to discuss how well-intended law enforcement can unconsciously discriminate against black people by more closely scrutinizing them.

The decision to address race shows that Comey is beginning “to show how he’s a much different F.B.I. director than the previous ones,” said Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum.

“Not to take anything away from the previous directors, but it was almost as though they thought, ‘This is something we shouldn’t weigh into.’ The F.B.I. director is looked upon by police chiefs who have been talking about this issue for years as a very important person, but they haven’t used their position as a bully pulpit to underscore how important civil rights and race is in policing.”

Suicide or Lynching? FBI Joins Inquiry into Black Teen Found Hanging in North Carolina

Lennon Lacy

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

It was a disturbing discovery – a black teenage boy hanging from a swing set in a trailer park in North Carolina.

Was it a suicide or a lynching?

The state has determined that 17-year-old Lennon Lacy committed suicide in August.

But the New York Times reports that the FBI has agreed to join an inquiry after family members and the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP urged the bureau to intervene.

The formal request for the FBI’s involvement came from Thomas G. Walker, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Last week, a march was organized to show solidarity with Lacy.

“They have the resources and the mandate of law and the kind of specialized training to look at these facts on all sides,” the Rev. William J. Barber II, the president of the North Carolina N.A.A.C.P. and an organizer of Saturday’s march, said of the F.B.I.

The state has defended its handling of the investigation and said there was no evidence of a lynching.

Obama Administration to Ban Racial Profiling Among Federal Law Enforcement

Atty. Gen. Holder/doj file photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

In an effort to curb racial profiling, the Obama administration plans today to announce new rules for federal law enforcement, the Washington Post reports.

Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. wants to prevent federal officials from using gender, race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity to open cases. The plan also calls for ending racial profiling from national security cases.

But the new rules won’t cover local governments unless they are working with federal task forces.

Protests have sprung up nationwide following grand jury decisions not to indict two white cops who killed Eric Garner in New York City and Michael Brown in Ferguson, both of whom were young and unarmed.

“At this historic moment in our nation’s race relations, the release of this revised guidance is an important signal of progress, but it does not completely address the need for reform of policing tactics at the state and local level,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberty Union’s Washington Legislative Office.

 

FBI Warns Of Violence in Wake of Decision About Ferguson Police Officer

Michael Brown

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is worried about “likely” threats and attacks targeting law enforcement after a grand jury determines whether a Ferguson police officer will be charged with killing an unarmed Michael Brown, ABC News reports.

The FBI also warned law enforcement of possible attacks on electrical facilities and water treatment plants.

“The announcement of the grand jury’s decision … will likely be exploited by some individuals to justify threats and attacks against law enforcement and critical infrastructure,” the FBI said in an intelligence bulletin. “This also poses a threat to those civilians engaged in lawful or otherwise constitutionally protected activities.”

The FBI’s concerns were not over peaceful protesters.

“The FBI assesses those infiltrating and exploiting otherwise legitimate public demonstrations with the intent to incite and engage in violence could be armed with bladed weapons or firearms, equipped with tactical gear/gas masks, or bulletproof vests to mitigate law enforcement measures.”

 

 

Justice Department Lacks Evidence to Warrant Civil Rights Charges Against Ferguson Cop

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Not enough evidence exists to bring civil rights charges against the white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, investigators for the Justice Department said.

The Washington Post reports that the Justice Department is reluctant to acknowledge the lack of evidence because of high tensions in the greater St. Louis area.

Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon maintains the case is still open.

“This is an irresponsible report by The Washington Post that is based on idle speculation,” Fallon said in a statement.

But the Post interviewed other law enforcement officials who said it was not premature to conclude the investigation is ending.

“The evidence we have makes federal civil rights charges unlikely,” one said.

 

Attorney General Holder Says Ferguson Police Department Needs ‘Wholesale Change’

Courtesy of DOJ

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. called for “wholesale change” in the Ferguson Police Department, the Associated Press reports. 

Holder sad in a question-and-answer session with a newspaper at the Washington Ideas Forum that serious changes are needed.

“I think it’s pretty clear that the need for wholesale change in that department is appropriate.”

But Holder didn’t elaborate or discuss leadership changes at the department.

Holder defended his 2009 remarks that America is a “nation of cowards” when it comes to race, saying the country is “still reluctant to talk about issues of race.

Holder said he hopes his legacy involves improving the country.

“As a person who tried to make the country better and used the power of his office to raise issues that too often were not addressed,” Holder said.