Tag Archives: police officer

Milwaukee legislators offer ‘Sleeping in the Park’ bill

State Reps. Frederick Kessler, Jonathan Brostoff and David Bowen and Rep.-elect David Crowley are proposing legislation to prevent law enforcement officers from arresting or attempting to arrest a person for simply sleeping in a county park.

The measure is a response to the shooting death of Dontre Hamilton in Milwaukee on April 30, 2014, by a Milwaukee police officer. The officer had been responding to concern that Hamilton was sleeping in Red Arrow Park. Hamilton had been questioned by two other officers and was found to have been doing nothing more than sleeping.

He was questioned a third time in a situation that escalated to a fatal confrontation.

“Given the tragic death of Dontre Hamilton, it raises questions about the alleged violation he committed by simply sleeping in Red Arrow Park,” Kessler said in a press statement. “For that simple concern, Mr. Hamilton was confronted by two officers initially, on two occasions, and then later, after being questioned by a third officer, lost his life.”

Brostoff stated, “Public parks are for people, period. This legislation will help members of our community who simply want to enjoy a public park and decrease the sort of harassment that led to Donte Hamilton’s terrible demise.”

“If we do not govern to prevent this kind of human rights violation, who will?” asked Crowley. “For too long we have seen an erosion of human rights, especially in communities of color. We need to take proactive steps with legislation like this to ensure the rights of all citizens, without stifling the honorable work of law enforcement.”

The legislation would allow for police to arrest someone sleeping in a county park if that person is known to be wanted for arrest on other charges or the officer believes the individual is a threat to public health or safety. The measure also would provide for county ordinances that prohibit sleeping in a park, but limit the penalty for doing so to a forfeiture of not less than $10 and no more than $200, plus costs.

“There has to be more common sense,” Kessler said. “If you are merely sleeping in a county park, and an officer has no reason to believe you have committed another crime and there is no warrant for your arrest, then there is no reason to be arrested or questioned if all you are doing is sleeping. This legislation is a simple proposal and will hopefully prevent a tragedy such as that involving Dontre Hamilton from happening again.”

Petitioners call on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign

More than 10,000 people have signed a petition urging Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign over the city’s handling of the fatal shooting of a black teenager.

“It’s not enough to fire the police chief,” said RootsAction.org cofounder Norman Solomon. “The buck stops with the mayor, and he should resign.”

“Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s clear contempt for the public and the law has been exposed by the existence of a video,” added RootsAction.org campaign coordinator David Swanson. “This video has emerged as videos are emerging from across the United States revealing police murders. It is the proliferation of videos that we can be sure is new. Police murders and their coverups, we have good reason to believe, are not new at all.”

“It isn’t a surprise that Rahm Emanuel kept the video behind closed doors,” said RootsAction.org associate Jamani Montague. “I remember the education scandal a few years back, when Rahm was found responsible for using districtwide funding and donations to technologically revamp Walter Payton College Prep, one of the already wealthiest high schools in the Chicago School Distinct. His secrets have served as stairs to his political success and recognition.”

“But,” said Swanson, “nothing can justify the coverup that Emanuel has overseen, never correcting the outright lie that Laquan McDonald was shot while lunging with a knife. We need Emanuel’s resignation, a public review of the coverup by a citizens board, policies to prevent such coverups in the future, the prosecution of the killer in court, and a ban on the training or arming of local police by military institutions.”

RootsAction.org is an online initiative dedicated to galvanizing Americans who are committed to economic fairness, equal rights, civil liberties, environmental protection — and defunding endless wars.RootsAction is endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Coleen Rowley, Frances Fox Piven and many others.

Madison Mayor Soglin statement on death of Tony Robinson

At the scene of the shooting, I said this is a tragedy beyond description. Today, we begin what will be a difficult period for our city. Madisonians honor and respect the young life of Anthony Robinson. I say this without knowledge of the indispensible facts of what happened Friday night but out of respect for the dignity of every person.

His mother and father, siblings, relatives and friends lost a loved one. His parents are living their worst nightmare. Our hearts, our thoughts go out to the family and friends who are grieving.

Our community has many questions, questions that I share. There will be answers. There is a new state law that mandates an independent investigation into officer involved shootings. Investigators from the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation were on the scene immediately last night. We must give them time to do their job.

I met members of the family and members of the community who were at the scene last night and heard their concerns. I talked to Chief Koval and discussed those concerns, while offering support for our police officers and the difficult public service they perform every day. The Madison Police Department has a well-earned reputation as one of the finest departments in the Country.

We all deserve to know the facts in this case. Tony Robinson’s family deserves that, our community deserves that, and the Madison Police deserve that. When the answers come, we will be open and transparent in communicating them.

Our police officers serve us with respect, valor and dignity, a few hour earlier they were faced with hostile gunfire and managed to end that confrontation safely,

On this, the anniversary of the first March on Selma, let us remember the words of Dr. King 50 years ago: “The road ahead is not altogether a smooth one. There are no broad highways that lead us easily and inevitably to quick solutions. But we must keep going.”

The City of Madison, our police officers, our community, and I must and will keep moving forward with compassion, with understanding, with a commitment to facing the facts, finding the truth, and making necessary changes to ensure this great City is always more equitable and just. 

Dane County NAACP statement on fatal shooting by police

The Dane County NAACP extends our thoughts and prayers to the family of Tony Robinson, the 19-year-old African American male who lost his life in a police-involved shooting.

Each new case of an African American person killed is a grim reminder of the urgent need for reform in the use of force against American citizens. Although excessive use of force disproportionately affects African Americans and people living in poverty, it can affect people everywhere regardless of race, age or gender.

Whenever this kind of tragedy occurs, questions arise about police training and appropriate use of force. We must remind the investigating authorizes of the need for transparency, that black lives do matter, and sadly, another family is now experiencing the pain of loss in Madison, Wisconsin.

We must push for solutions within our criminal justice system that will help keep our communities safe, our children protected and our officers properly trained.

While there will be reactions from community leaders, faith leaders and concerned citizens, the NAACP calls for calm and vigilant monitoring of events as they unfold. We will work with the Madison community and the Wisconsin NAACP State Conference of Branches to ensure justice for Tony Robinson.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. 

Timeline of events in Ferguson, Missouri

A timeline of key events following the fatal police shooting of an unarmed, black 18-year-old in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.

AUG. 9 – Michael Brown and a companion, both black, are confronted by an officer as they walk back to Brown’s home from a convenience store. Brown and the officer, who is white, are involved in a scuffle, followed by gunshots. Brown dies at the scene, and his body remains in the street for four hours in the summer heat. Neighbors later lash out at authorities, saying they mistreated the body.

AUG. 10 – After a candlelight vigil, people protesting Brown’s death smash car windows and carry away armloads of looted goods from stores. In the first of several nights of violence, looters are seen making off with bags of food, toilet paper and alcohol. Some protesters stand atop police cars and taunt officers.

AUG. 11 – The FBI opens an investigation into Brown’s death, and two men who said they saw the shooting tell reporters that Brown had his hands raised when the officer approached with his weapon and fired repeatedly. That night, police in riot gear fire tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse a crowd.

AUG. 12 – Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson cancels plans to release the name of the officer who shot Brown, citing death threats against the police department and City Hall.

AUG. 14 – The Missouri Highway Patrol takes control of security in Ferguson, relieving St. Louis County and local police of their law-enforcement authority following four days of violence. The shift in command comes after images from the protests show many officers equipped with military-style gear, including armored vehicles, body armor and assault rifles. In scores of photographs that circulate online, officers are seen pointing their weapons at demonstrators.

AUG. 15 – Police identify the officer who shot Brown as Darren Wilson, 28. They also release a video purporting to show Brown robbing a convenience store of almost $50 worth of cigars shortly before he was killed, a move that further inflames protesters.

AUG. 16 – Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declares a state of emergency and imposes a curfew in Ferguson.

AUG. 17- Attorney General Eric Holder orders a federal medical examiner to perform another autopsy on Brown.

AUG. 18 – Nixon calls the National Guard to Ferguson to help restore order and lifts the curfew.

AUG. 19 – Nixon says he will not seek the removal of Ferguson prosecutor Bob McCulloch from the investigation into Brown’s death. Some black leaders questioned whether the prosecutor’s deep family connections to police would affect his ability to be impartial. McCulloch’s father was a police officer who was killed in the line of duty when McCulloch was a child, and he has many relatives who work in law enforcement.

AUG. 20 – Holder visits Ferguson to offer assurances about the investigation into Brown’s death and to meet with investigators and Brown’s family. A grand jury begins hearing evidence to determine whether Wilson should be charged.

AUG. 21 – Nixon orders the National Guard to begin withdrawing from Ferguson.

SEPT. 25 – Holder announces his resignation but says he plans to remain in office until his successor is confirmed.

SEPT. 25 – Ferguson Chief Tom Jackson releases a videotaped apology to Brown’s family and attempts to march in solidarity with protesters, a move that backfires when Ferguson officers scuffle with demonstrators and arrest one person moments after Jackson joins the group.

OCT. 10 – Protesters from across the country descend on the St. Louis region for “Ferguson October,” four days of coordinated and spontaneous protests. A weekend march and rally in downtown St. Louis draws several thousand participants.

OCT. 21 – Nixon pledges to create an independent Ferguson Commission to examine race relations, failing schools and other broader social and economic issues in the aftermath of Brown’s death.

NOV. 17 – The Democratic governor declares a state of emergency and activates the National Guard again ahead of a decision from a grand jury. He places the Ferguson Police Department in charge of security in Ferguson, with orders to work as a unified command with St. Louis city police and the Missouri Highway Patrol.

NOV. 18 – Nixon names 16 people to the Ferguson Commission, selecting a diverse group that includes the owner of construction-supply company, two pastors, two attorneys, a university professor, a 20-year-old community activist and a police detective. Nine of its members are black. Seven are white.

NOV. 24 – The St. Louis County prosecutor announces that the grand jury has decided not to indict Wilson. During ensuing protests, at least a dozen buildings and multiple police cars are burned, officers are hit by rocks and batteries and reports of gunfire force some St. Louis-bound flights to be diverted.

Thousands rally across U.S. after grand jury fails to indict Ferguson officer

Thousands of people rallied late on Nov. 24 in U.S. cities, passionately but peacefully protesting a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer who killed a black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri.

People led marches, waved signs and shouted chants of “hands up, don’t shoot,” the refrain that has become a rallying cry in protests over police killings across the country.

In Milwaukee, protesters gathered in Red Arrow Park before the decision was announced from Missouri. Red Aarow is where a police officer fatally shot an unarmed Dontre Hamilton seven months ago.

The most disruptive demonstrations were in St. Louis and Oakland, California, where protesters flooded the lanes of freeways, milling about stopped cars with their hands raised in the air.

Activists had been planning to protest even before the nighttime announcement that Officer Darren Wilson will not be charged in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

The racially charged case in Ferguson has inflamed tensions and reignited debates over police-community relations even in cities hundreds of miles from the predominantly black St. Louis suburb. For many staging protests on Nov. 24, the shooting was personal, calling to mind other galvanizing encounters with local law enforcement.

Police departments in several major cities braced for large demonstrations with the potential for the kind of violence that marred nightly protests in Ferguson after Brown’s killing. Demonstrators there vandalized police cars and buildings, hugged barricades and taunted officers with expletives on Nov. 24 while police fired smoke canisters and tear gas. Gunshots were heard on the streets and fires raged.

But police elsewhere reported that gatherings were mostly peaceful following the announcement.

As the night wore on, dozens of protesters in Oakland got around police and blocked traffic on Interstate 580. Officers in cars and on motorcycles were able to corral the protesters and cleared the highway in one area, but another group soon entered the traffic lanes a short distance away. Police didn’t immediately report any arrests.

A diverse crowd of several hundred protesters marched and chanted in St. Louis not far from the site of another police shooting, shutting down Interstate 44 for a time. A few cars got stuck in the midst of the protesters, who appeared to be leaving the vehicles alone. They chanted “hands up, don’t shoot” and “black lives matter.”

“There’s clearly a license for violence against minorities, specifically blacks,” said Mike Arnold, 38, a teacher. “It happens all the time. Something’s got to be done about it. Hopefully this will be a turning point.”

In Seattle, marching demonstrators stopped periodically to sit or lie down in city intersections, blocking traffic before moving on, as dozens of police officers watched.

Groups ranging from a few dozen to a few hundred people also gathered in Chicago, Salt Lake City, and Washington, D.C., where people held up signs and chanted “justice for Michael Brown” outside the White House.

“Mike Brown is an emblem (of a movement). This country is at its boiling point,” said Ethan Jury, a protester in Philadelphia, where hundreds marched downtown with a contingent of police nearby. “How many people need to die? How many black people need to die?”

In New York, the family of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man killed by a police chokehold earlier this year, joined the Rev. Al Sharpton at a speech in Harlem lamenting the grand jury’s decision. Later, several hundred people who had gathered in Manhattan’s Union Square marched peacefully to Times Square.

In Los Angeles, police officers were told to remain on duty until released by their supervisors. About 100 people gathered in Leimert Park, and a group of religious leaders held a small news conference demanding changes in police policies.

A group of about 200 demonstrators marched toward downtown.

The marchers briefly shut down the northbound and southbound lanes of Interstate 110 in downtown Los Angeles, according to City News Service. People stood and lay in the northbound lanes and the center divider. California Highway Patrol officers declared an unlawful assembly.

After midnight, about 100 police officers wearing riot gear fired hard foam projectiles into the ground to disperse about 50 protesters on Pico Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Another group of about 30 people marched all the way to Beverly Hills, where they lay down in an intersection.

Chris Manor, with Utah Against Police Brutality, helped organize an event in Salt Lake City that attracted about 35 people.

“There are things that have affected us locally, but at the same time, it’s important to show solidarity with people in other cities who are facing the very same thing that we’re facing,” Manor said.

At Cleveland’s Public Square, at least a dozen protesters’ signs referenced police shootings that have shaken the community there, including Saturday’s fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who had a fake gun at a Cleveland playground when officers confronted him.

In Denver, where a civil jury last month found deputies used excessive force in the death of a homeless street preacher, clergy gathered at a church to discuss the decision, and dozens of people rallied in a downtown park with a moment of silence.

Twitter: #Ferguson

Associated Press writers Olga R. Rodriguez in San Francisco; Jim Salter and Alan Zagier in St. Louis; Tami Abdollah in Los Angeles; Kantele Franko in Columbus, Ohio; Sean Carlin in Philadelphia; Deepti Hajela in New York; Michelle L. Price in Salt Lake City; and Joshua Lederman in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.



Ohio mayor resigns after calling police officer ‘queer’

The mayor of a southeastern Ohio town has resigned over accusations that she repeatedly called a gay police officer “queer” in front of his colleagues and created a hostile work environment.

Jackie Welker, council president in the Village of Pomeroy, tells The Associated Press that 78-year-old Mayor Mary McAngus submitted a letter of resignation Saturday.

Police Chief Mark Proffitt told the council this week that McAngus referred to Officer Kyle Calendine as “queer” in front of other officers and dispatchers. He says that at one point she said, “I don’t like a queer working for the village.”

Proffitt had warned the council that McAngus’ alleged comments could open the village to a lawsuit.

Calendine says the situation worsened in recent weeks.

McAngus did not immediately return a call for comment.

Lambda urges court to drop aggravated assault charge based on HIV status

Lambda Legal has filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the New York Court of Appeals to drop an aggravated assault charge leveled against a man because he’s HIV positive.

“The last time I checked, being HIV-positive is not a crime,” said Scott Schoettes, HIV project director with the New York-based group. “And a person should not face criminal punishment – or, as in this case, significantly enhanced penalties – simply because he or she happens to be living with HIV.”

The case dates to September 2006, when David Plunkett was arrested following an altercation with police during which Plunkett allegedly bit an officer.

Later, Plunkett revealed to police that he is HIV-positive. That resulted in the man being charged with aggravated assault upon a police officer, a felony premised on the use of a “dangerous instrument.”

Schoettes said, “There was no possibility of transmission here. The real ‘dangerous instrument’ appears to be in the hands of the prosecutors, who are twisting this law to trump up the charges against a man who is living with HIV.”

“The notion that saliva can transmit HIV is contrary to the scientific evidence. As an association representing HIV care providers and scientists, a key tenet of our work is to advance accurate and evidenced-based policies, including on how HIV is transmitted. Prosecutions like this one fuel HIV-related stigma and discrimination and set back HIV prevention efforts,” said Andrea L. Weddle of the HIV Medicine Association.

At the American Academy of Medicine, Bruce Packett II said, “It’s really disheartening that after three decades there is still confusion in the legal system about the ways by which HIV can be transmitted and the ways by which it cannot. HIV criminalization laws and prosecutions built on these misconceptions stoke unfounded fears and can lead to discrimination against people living with HIV.”

Lambda Legal’s argues that the “realities of HIV transmission risk do not support prosecuting Mr. Plunkett under a law addressing the use of a dangerous instrument and that this charge leads to public misunderstanding of how HIV is transmitted, contributes to stigmatizing people with HIV and undermines important public health goals.”

The case is People of the State of New York v. Plunkett.

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