Tag Archives: Trayvon Martin

Officer who killed Milwaukee man to receive disability pay

A police officer who fatally shot a man in a downtown Milwaukee park will receive duty disability pay.

Christopher Manney filed a claim saying the shooting and aftermath caused him to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The disability retirement pay usually amounts to about 75 percent of an officer’s salary — and it’s tax free. The Journal Sentinel reports Manney’s gross salary was about $71,000. 

The city’s Annuity and Pension Board approved the claim based on a review by a panel of doctors. 

Prosecutors ruled the shooting justified, but Manney was fired for failing to follow department protocol in his approach to Dontre Hamilton at Red Arrow Park in April 2014.

Manney said Hamilton grabbed his baton and attacked him with it, and the officer shot him more than a dozen times.

Hamilton’s death sparked outcry in Milwaukee and a movement against police violence, led by Hamilton’s family.

Earlier this month, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Maria Hamilton, mother of Dontre Hamilton, as well as other parents whose children died in shootings to outline her criminal justice and gun control plans. The mothers of Michael Brown and Tamir Rice attended, as did family of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis.

Walker headlining right-wing ALEC conference

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is headlining the conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council, the right-wing bill mill powered by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers.

Walker, a Koch-brother loyalist was joining Mike Huckabee and others at the annual gathering, being held this year in San Diego and giving a special platform — behind closed doors — to the GOP candidates for president.

ALEC — the membership includes politicians and corporations — provides model state and local legislation, including measures that roll back worker rights, encourage racial profiling, block voting access and provide defenses for gun violence.

Walker, perhaps more than any other governor, has delivered on moving ALEC-backed bills, including the anti-union, anti-choice and anti-public education measures enacted in Wisconsin over the past five years.

ALEC’s annual meeting began on July 22 with workshops and other programs. Walker and Huckabee were scheduled to speak on July 23.

Conference-goers were met by protesters outside the Manchester Grand Hyatt. Some carrying signs that read “Stop the Assault on Working People” and “Big $$$ Out of Politics.”

The hotel restricted access to the building to include only registered guests.

George Zimmerman arrested for domestic violence — again

George Zimmerman, whose acquittal of murdering an unarmed black teen in 2013 made him a hero on the political right and a symbol of what’s wrong with so-called “stand your ground” laws on the left, was arrested on Jan. 9 for allegedly throwing a wine bottle at his most recent girlfriend.

The incident is the latest in a series of domestic violence charges that Zimmerman has faced.

The Associated Press reported that Zimmerman, 31, was arrested for aggravated assault at his home in Florida’s Seminole County about 10 p.m. on Friday. He was released on a $5,000 bond Saturday afternoon.

At a court appearance earlier today, he was ordered to avoid contact with the woman, who was not identified. Judge John Galluzzo also ordered Zimmerman to stay out of Volusia County, where the woman lives, and to pack up any personal belongings his girlfriend might have left at his home and give them to his lawyer.

Zimmerman, who wore blue scrubs and handcuffs, appeared calm during the brief hearing. At one point, he laughed and joked with an officer as he signed paperwork.

Although the incident didn’t involve a firearm, the judge ordered Zimmerman to surrender any weapons in his possession. Zimmerman is scheduled to appear back in court on Feb. 17.

Zimmerman was acquitted in 2013 of a second-degree murder charge for shooting an unarmed teenager, Trayvon Martin.

Since his acquittal, Zimmerman has had several brushes with the law, including:

• He was arrested on charges of aggravated assault, battery and criminal mischief after his then-girlfriend said he pointed a gun at her face during an argument, smashed her coffee table and pushed her out of the house they shared. Samantha Scheibe decided not to cooperate with detectives and prosecutors didn’t pursue the case.

• Zimmerman was accused by his estranged wife of smashing an iPad during an argument at the home they had shared. Shellie Zimmerman initially told a dispatcher her husband had a gun, though she later said he was unarmed. No charges were ever filed because of a lack of evidence. The dispute occurred days after Shellie Zimmerman filed divorce papers.

• Zimmerman has also been pulled over three times for traffic violations since his acquittal.

United Nations condemns U.S. racism as reverberations over Ferguson continue

Even as Ferguson grows calmer, recent indictments in the St. Louis suburb continue to provoke outrage around the world.

Ferguson and St. Louis County have been sued in federal court for the use of excessive force and the false arrest of innocent bystanders during the civil unrest following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old African American.

The United Nations has issued a report condemning the United States for widespread violations of the human rights of people of color.

The federal lawsuit, filed Aug. 28, seeks $40 million in damages. Plaintiffs include a clinical social worker who says she and her 17-year-old son were roughed up and arrested after not reacting quickly enough to police orders to evacuate a McDonald’s; a 23-year-old man who says he was shot multiple times with rubber bullets and called racial slurs while walking through the protest zone to his mother’s home and a man who says he was arrested for filming the disturbances.

Attorney Malik Shabazz said the lawsuit could be broadened to include additional plaintiffs. Ferguson and St. Louis officials have declined comment on the suit.

The U.S. Department of Justice is considering a broad investigation into whether a pattern of using excessive force by Ferguson police has routinely violated people’s civil rights. At least five police officers and one former officer in the city’s  53-member department have been named in civil rights lawsuits alleging the use of excessive force.

In fact, there have been four federal lawsuits, including one that is on appeal, and more than a half-dozen investigations of the Ferguson police department over the past decade. Charges have included killing a mentally ill man with a Taser, pistol-whipping a child, choking and hog-tying a child and beating a man who was later charged with destroying city property because his blood spilled on officers’ clothes. 

Persistent discrimination

On Aug. 29, the United Nations blasted the United States for the use of excessive force on display in Ferguson during the demonstrations following Brown’s killing. After examining records and hearing testimony from witnesses, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination concluded that minorities, particularly African Americans, are victims of unacceptable disparities in the United States. The finding was especially embarrassing for the nation coming just months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to scuttle the Voting Rights Act of 1965, claiming that institutionalized animus toward blacks is no longer a problem in this country.

A CERD panel of 18 independent experts grilled a U.S. delegation on Aug. 13 about what the experts called persistent discrimination against AfricanAmericans and other minorities, including within the criminal justice system. U.S. Ambassador Keith Harper told the panel that the nation has made “great strides toward eliminating racial discrimination,” but he also conceded that much work is yet to be done.

Among those who testified before CERD in Geneva was Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teen killed in Florida by a neighborhood watch volunteer. Also attending was Ron Davis, father of Jordan Davis, a 17-year-old who was shot dead in a car in Florida during an argument over loud rap music in November 2012.

At an Aug. 29 press briefing announcing the committee’s conclusions, CERD vice chairman Noureddine Amir said, “Racial and ethnic discrimination remains a serious and persistent problem in all areas of life from de facto school segregation, access to health care and housing. (Ferguson) is not an isolated event and illustrates a bigger problem in the United States, such as racial bias among law enforcement officials, the lack of proper implementation of rules and regulations governing the use of force, and the inadequacy of training of law enforcement officials.”

CERD, which monitors a treaty ratified by 177 countries, including the United States, also concluded that the “Stand Your Ground” laws in 22 states, which indemnify Americans who kill because they fear their lives are in imminent danger, should be reviewed to “remove far-reaching immunity and ensure strict adherence to principles of necessity and proportionality when deadly force is used for self-defense.”

The Aug. 9 shooting of Brown in the St. Louis suburb, which is 70 percent black and has a police force that’s nearly all white, is just the latest in a long list of police and vigilante killings of unarmed black men in recent years. The protests that rocked Ferguson in the wake of the shooting worsened after local law-enforcement stepped in with military equipment, tear gas and rubber bullets. 

Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who shot Brown, has been put on paid leave and is in hiding. A St. Louis County grand jury has begun hearing evidence and the U.S. Justice Department has opened its own investigation into what happened to Brown.

Another St. Louis police officer who was assigned to day patrols in Ferguson during the height of the protests was forced into retirement after a 2012 video came to light in which he called himself “a killer” and warned that he would kill anyone who got in his way. In addition, officer Dan Page, a 35-year-veteran of the force, made hateful, racist remarks about President Barack Obama and slurs against LGBT people during the widely viewed rant.

Page, who retired with full benefits, also shoved CNN host Don Lemon on camera during a report from the scene. 

‘Two shootings away’

Since Brown’s slaying, four additional unarmed black men have been killed by police, according to Mother Jones magazine. Marches and rallies demanding justice for Brown and other African-American victims of police brutality have been held repeatedly in cities across America, including here in Wisconsin. 

Citing seemingly intractable conditions of poverty, joblessness, despair and segregation in Milwaukee, Ald. Milele Coggs issued a statement saying that the city is two shootings away from a situation like the one in Ferguson.

“The death of Mike Brown was Ferguson’s spark, and if Milwaukee does not make changes soon, I believe our spark is coming,” she said.

Demonstrators rallied in Milwaukee on Aug. 17 in Brown’s memory. They marched to Milwaukee police headquarters, blocking traffic while officers helped divert drivers.

On Aug. 22, a diverse crowd of about 250 people staged a tearful rally organized by Milwaukee’s African American Engagement Roundtable. The racially mixed crowd included people of all ages and circumstances — students with backpacks and at least one woman with a Coach purse

The event began with rally leaders reading off the names of dozens of unarmed black men who’ve been shot down in the streets of America by police. There was a moment of silence, followed by a chant of “black lives matter.”

The setting was Milwaukee’s Red Arrow Park, where 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton, an unarmed black man suffering from schizophrenia, was shot as many as 15 times by an MPD officer in April. Hamilton’s father presented an impassioned speech, saying that after nearly four months, his family has yet to receive an explanation from police or the district attorney’s office about what happened to his son. The officer who shot Dontre Hamilton has not been charged or named publicly.

Hamilton’s death was the first following the adoption of a new law in Wisconsin that requires outside investigations of cases in which deaths occur while people are in police custody. The state Division of Criminal Investigation has issued a report on Hamilton’s case to the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office, but its contents have yet to be released.

Hamilton’s father, who said the wait has been excruciating for him and his family, told the crowd that the white establishment looks at black men as “bugs” that “need to be exterminated.”

“We need to understand that all of our hearts beat the same,” he pleaded to an enthusiastic response.

The father of Corey Stingley also spoke. Sixteen-year-old Stingley was asphyxiated by three adult white men after stealing a bottle of alcohol at a corner store. Stingley referred to the three men as “vigilantes.”

Following the rally at Red Arrow Park, more than 100 people under the watchful eyes of riot police, chanted, “No justice, no peace,” and stopped traffic as they marched down West State Street to the Milwaukee Municipal Court building, which also houses MPD’s administrative offices. There, they staged a sit-in and called on Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn to meet with them.

A third rally was held in Milwaukee on Aug. 19 and more actions are planned.

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Ferguson police stripped of authority as vigils for slain black teen Michael Brown take place from coast to coast

Local police in Ferguson, Missouri, were stripped yesterday of their authority after days of violent clashes during which police used surplus military weapons against crowds protesting the police slaying of an unarmed black teen.

The Missouri Highway Patrol seized control of the St. Louis suburb following a fourth night of angry confrontations Wednesday over the Aug. 9 killing. An unnamed police officer shot Michael Brown, an 18-year-old who was set to start college this week, 10 times in the head and chest.

Brown, who was black, was apparently slain after a verbal altercation with the white cop who shot him. Ferguson is 70-percent black, but nearly the entire police force is white.

On Wednesday night, officers in riot gear used tear-gas on the crowd and arrested peaceful black demonstrators in scenes that dredged up nightmare memories of the 1960s black civil rights era. Commandeering armored vehicles, police were equipped with short-barreled 5.56-mm assault rifles that can hit specific targets as far away as 500 meters, according to published reports.

Assessing the accelerating events of the past several days, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon yesterday ordered the highway patrol, led by Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who is black, to take control of the situation. Nixon’s decision was announced shortly after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder spoke with Brown’s family and President Barack Obama spoke out publicly about the incident for the first time.

The change in law-enforcement will ensure “that we allow peaceful and appropriate protests, that we use force only when necessary, that we step back a little bit and let some of the energy be felt in this region appropriately,” Nixon said, as quoted by The Associated Press.

Ferguson residents have complained about police officers’ response beginning with the immediate aftermath of Brown’s shooting, when they brought out dogs for crowd control. County polic led both the investigation of Brown’s shooting and attempts to keep the peace in the small city.

County Police Chief Jon Belmar said his officers showed “an incredible amount of restraint” after being showered with rocks and bottles and having their vehicles destroyed.

As with last year’s Trayvon Martin shooting, social media brought international attention to the tragedy. Ferguson spawned a proliferation of hashtags and was the dominant subject yesterday on Twitter, Facebook and other sites, according to the AP.

Journalists and protesters offered real-time pictures, videos and text reports — and the world responded with outrage.

Police have said Brown was shot after an officer encountered him and another man on the street. They say one of the men pushed the officer into his squad car, then physically assaulted him in the vehicle and struggled with the officer over the officer’s weapon. At least one shot was fired inside the car. The struggle then spilled onto the street, where Brown was shot multiple times.

But Dorian Johnson, who was with Brown when the shooting occurred, had a much different story. He told reporters that the officer ordered them out of the street, then grabbed his friend’s neck and tried to pull him into the car before brandishing his weapon and firing. He says Brown started to run and the officer pursued him, firing multiple times.

Attorney General Eric Holder has said federal investigators have interviewed eyewitnesses to the shooting. A person familiar with the matter, who spoke with AP on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said federal authorities have interviewed Johnson.

Rallying communities from coast to coast under the Twitter hashtag #NMOS14, activists organized vigils for Brown in over 100 U.S. communities this evening, including at such historic sites as the St. Louis’ Gateway Arch, Boston Common and New York’s Union Square. The vigils featured a minute of silence at 7:20 p.m. EDT.

“We are not protesting. We are not going to be chanting or anything of that nature,” Chantelle Batiste, an organizer of the vigil at New Orleans’ 225-year-old Lafayette Square, told the local NBC affiliate. “We want to make sure everyone comes like-minded and everyone stays peaceful.”

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Carlos Santana wants to save the world with music

Try to speak with Carlos Santana about his new album and he’ll want to talk about another topic: changing the world.

The veteran musician says he is planning a concert aimed at encouraging and motivating the development of young black and Latino men in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death and Donald Sterling’s racist comments. He wants to hold the event next year in Florida and is working with Harry Belafonte.

“I’m not show biz and entertainment, I’m an activist,” he said. “I’m a person who with passion believes that we can change the world, we can transform hate and fear forever with the right songs and the right timing.”

Santana’s latest album, “Corazon,” debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 albums chart last week. It features Juanes, Gloria Estefan and Miguel, and Santana said it wasn’t hard finding “Cinderella or Cinderfella” to guest on the songs, which he calls “glass slippers.”

“We said, ‘Hey man, this is going to be great at the Latin Grammys. We got to make an impact there,’” he recalled. “And I go, ‘Latin Grammys, why stop there? Why don’t we go to the World Cup?’ Well guess what, we’re closing the World Cup with brother Wyclef (Jean)!”

In an interview with The Associated Press, Santana, 66, had advice for Jay Z, and talked about his tour with Rod Stewart.

AP: How does it feel to release another album?

Santana: I feel really, really honored to gain people’s trust. People opened their hearts and their wallets. … It allows me to do more things with my brother Harry Belafonte and (activist) Dolores Huerta. … And so we want to have a concert and bring Jamie Foxx and different kinds of artists, musicians of all colors and utilize this attention and this energy. … Obviously (with) what happened with Donald Sterling and what’s happening with people throwing bananas at soccer stadiums, you know, we have a lot to heal.

AP: Who else do you want to invite to the concert?

Santana: I’d like to bring (NBA Hall of Famer) Dr. J (Julius Erving) and (former NBA player and mayor of Sacramento) Kevin Johnson to San Quentin and talk to the brothers, black and brown, broadcast it in all the prisons and call the event ‘You Cannot Break My Spirit.’

AP: How did your tour with Rod Stewart come about?

Santana: I can say it the way Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock would say it, ‘Both of us love to play spiritual music to touch all hearts.’ That’s one thing. The rascal in me … says, ‘We both love black music. We like to play black music for white people.’

AP: There are a number of collaborative tours this summer, from Kiss and Def Leppard to Beyonce and Jay Z. Who would you like to see hit the road together?

Santana: I’d like to see Metallica and Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock to broaden the wings. Metallica did a thing with a symphony, so they’re capable, of course, of playing without volume or with volume. I just like to expand popularity with genius. … I invite brothers like Jay Z who have the money to start bringing the African brothers back to the United States. Since 9/11, if your name is Idrissa Diop or if you have a Muslim name, they won’t let you in. But they let the Irish people in and they let the Canadian people in and people from Australia. Man, how come you don’t let the African people come in? … If I had the money and the means that Jay Z has, I would bring African musicians. … I’m going to invite them. We’re going to create something like this in Las Vegas where we can co-headline, because these brothers need to be taken to schools in America so the brothers (here) can learn how to play the drums again. That’s the thing I have in common with Africa — I understand the drum … it’s in my DNA.

Nativity features Trayvon Martin instead of Jesus

A Southern California church nativity scene is featuring a bloody Trayvon Martin in place of the infant Jesus in an effort to stir a community conversation about gun violence.

The nativity scene on the lawn of the Claremont United Methodist Church — which shows Martin in a hoodie, slumped over and bleeding — was created by 57-year-old congregant and artist John Zachary.

Zachary, who in the past has created installations addressing homelessness and poverty, said he wanted to make the Nativity relevant to modern times and generate a community conversation, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Zachary said he chose to focus on the Florida teenager whose shooting death captured the nation to draw a parallel to the dark times in which Jesus was born.

But some faithful have shuddered at the depiction and called it sacrilege.

Retiree Viola Saunders, who stopped and took some pictures of the scene with her phone, said she thought the Nativity was too sacred to modify. “It’s pretty bad,” she told the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. “It takes away from the original.”

Lead pastor Rev. Sharon Rhodes-Wickett said the church 35 miles east of Los Angeles is a progressive community where many congregants seek to challenge their minds, and hearts, but she can understand if some find the depiction “too edgy.”

“It’s hard to look at a young man who’s shot and bleeding to death. But even though I’m uncomfortable with it, that’s the point,” she told the Daily Bulletin. “We have to take a look at the violence.”

The scene will remain in place at the church through Jan. 5.

On the Web…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOmTvwMvbmc

George Zimmerman arrested today for felony assault

George Zimmerman was arrested today and charged with assault after deputies were called to the home where he lived with his girlfriend, who claimed he pointed a shotgun at her during an argument.

Zimmerman pushed the woman out of the house and barricaded the door with furniture, Chief Deputy Dennis Lemma said at a news conference, as reported by The Associated Press. Samantha Scheibe gave deputies a key to the home, and they were able to push open the barricaded door.

Zimmerman was charged with aggravated assault with a weapon, battery and criminal mischief.

“Just when you thought you heard the last of George Zimmerman,” said neighbor Catherine Cantrell. She said the woman who lived in the home was very sweet and quiet.

Zimmerman, 30, was acquitted in July of all charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager. Zimmerman claimed he shot the 17-year-old to defend himself during a fight in February 2012 inside a gated community in Sanford, just outside Orlando.

He wasn’t charged until 44 days after the shooting, leading to protests nationwide from people who believed he should have been immediately arrested. The case sparked accusations that Zimmerman had racially profiled Martin, and demonstrations broke out again after his acquittal. Federal authorities are now reviewing the case the see if Martin’s civil rights were violated.

Zimmerman has had other brushes with the law since his acquittal.

Zimmerman and his estranged wife were involved in a domestic dispute in September, just days after Shellie Zimmerman filed divorce papers. Zimmerman has also been pulled over three times for traffic stops since his acquittal.

In 2005, Zimmerman had to take anger management courses after he was accused of attacking an undercover officer who was trying to arrest Zimmerman’s friend.

Later that year, Zimmerman’s former fiancée filed for a restraining order against him, alleging domestic violence. Zimmerman responded by requesting a restraining order against her. Both requests were granted, and no criminal charges were filed.

Police detain Zimmerman after alleged domestic incident

Authorities in Lake Mary, Fla., were investigating an alleged domestic violence incident involving George Zimmerman, the former neighborhood watch volunteer acquitted earlier this year of all charges in connection with the fatal shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that Zimmerman had been detained after a complaint filed by Zimmerman’s estranged wife in Lake Mary mid-afternoon on Sept. 9.

Police in the quiet community were investigating a possible domestic battery, according to the report. Zimmerman’s wife, who has filed for divorce, allegedly called police to report that Zimmerman threatened the family “with his hand on his gun.”

The early report also alleged that Zimmerman battered his father-in-law.

The newspaper, in its online report, said authorities said the investigation was in an early stage and it was unclear if there would be an arrest.

Lake Mary is not far from Sanford, where in February 2012, Zimmerman fatally shot Martin, who was black. Zimmerman claimed the shooting was in self-defense and he initially was not arrested by Sanford police.

Public outcry and a subsequent investigation by Florida authorities led to Zimmerman’s arrest and trial. His acquittal in July prompted protests throughout Florida and across the country and led to broad discussions about stand-your-ground laws and racial profiling in America.

Editor’s note: This story is developing.

‘Die-in’ staged at ALEC conference to protest Stand Your Ground laws

More than 70 protesters, many of them wearing hoodies, staged a “die-in” outside the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago’s Loop to protest the “stand your ground” laws promoted by the American Legislative Council, better known as ALEC.

ALEC is holding its 40th anniversary conference this week at the hotel. The organization is behind a number of campaigns to enact right-wing legislation at the state level, including in Wisconsin. ALEC has provided model legislation against immigration, abortion rights and voting rights and gun control.

ALEC’s model Stand Your Ground bill is based on Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which was cited as a factor in the fatal shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman was acquitted of charges in connection with Martin’s death. Police, early in the investigation, said they didn’t arrest Zimmerman because Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law allowed him to claim self defense, even though Zimmerman confronted and pursued the unarmed teen. 

The hoodies worn by demonstrators at the Aug. 8 action referenced the shooting – Martin was wearing a hoodie the night he died. Some of the hoodies worn by demonstrators had targets on them. And in a mass wave, the demonstrators “died” on the sidewalk outside the hotel.

“As a Latina, Stand Your Ground is detrimental to my safety and that of all people of color,” said protester Angelica Sanchez of the Illinois Hunger Coalition. “I have to worry that if someone doesn’t like my skin color or the way I talk, they’ll decide I’m a threat.”

Shani Smith with Stand Up! Chicago said she is the mother of a black teenager. “These laws encourage people to act on irrational fears fed by biases and prejudice. I know that where I see my son — a caring, creative, vulnerable young man – others may see a dangerous stranger. We’ve lost enough young black men in this country to fear and prejudice.”

At the end of the protest, demonstrators stood and shouted, “Stand Up to ALEC.”

More demonstrations were expected later Aug. 8 and on Aug. 9.