The US Department of Justice and county officials in Phoenix on July 15 agreed to settle parts of a discrimination lawsuit filed against the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in 2012. The DoJ filed charges against the Sheriff's Office for discriminatory practices in traffic stops, work and home raids, and in county jails, as well as claims of retaliation. The settlementreached with the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors did not address the allegation that Sheriff Joe Arpaio's agency racially profiled Latinos when making traffic stops in their effort to prevent illegal immigration. Supervisor Steve Gallardo said the settlement is in the best interest of saving tax-payer's money by avoiding an expensive trial. The remaining issue will proceed to a scheduled Aug. 10 trial in the US District Court for the District of Arizona.
In the wake of last week's massacre at Charleston's Emanuel AME Church, there have been a few rare media mentions of the Gullah people of the Sea Islands, a barrier chain that stretches from South Carolina to Florida. Queen Quet Marquetta Goodwine, head of state of the Gullah/Geechee Nation, spoke to the Charleston City Paper after the massacre, saying that many members of Mother Emanuel are Gullah—as were some of the nine shooting victims. The church had once hosted a traditional Gullah libation ceremony to honor the people's ancestors. "Mother Emanuel has embraced me as a mother for many, many years on my journeys to Charleston," Queen Quet said, but added that after the bloodshed, "It will be difficult for me to re-enter those doors." She said she counted massacre victim Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the church's pastor and a state senator, as a friend. WJCL of Savannah, Ga., also noted that the Gullah Geechee Commission of Johns Island, SC, expressed shock at the massacre and offered condolences to the survivors.
Amnesty International said June 18 that all 50 US states fall below international standards on police use of lethal force. The report indicates that many states have no regulation on police use of lethal force or ones that fall below international standards. UN principles on the use of lethal force limit force to "unavoidable instance in order to protect life after less extreme means have failed," but the majority of states do not require police to use less-violent means before lethal force nor do they require them to identify their intent to use lethal force. The report also indicated that 13 US states fall below the United States' own constitutional standards established in Tennessee v. Garner, which states that police may not use deadly force to prevent a suspect from escaping "unless the officer believes that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others." An investigation revealed that 522 people have been killed by police this year. Those statistics also indicate Black people were twice as likely as white people to be unarmed during the encounter.
Online activists are calling for the Confederate flag that remains flying outside South Carolina's state house after nine parishioners were shot dead at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston to be removed on the grounds that it is "insulting" to the victims of the shooting. Gawker reports that, in fact, every flag at the state house is flying at half mast in honor of the slain—except the Confederate one! Apparently because the Stars-and-Bars is so revered that it requires an act of the state legislature to even lower it. So, the flag of slavery stays proudly at full mast in the wake of a massacre of Black folks at a church associated with the anti-slavery and civil rights struggles. The mind boggles.
A Muslim rights organization called June 3 for a thorough investigation into the fatal shooting of a Muslim man in Boston. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) made the request a day after 26-year-old Usaama Rahim was killed by police after having been under surveillance by the Joint Terrorism Task Force. CAIR Director Jennifer Wicks also requested that authorities release video footage of the shooting, which shows the incident between Rahim and local police. Boston Police Commissioner William Evans told the Boston Herald that "military and law enforcement lives were at threat" and that the video shows the police officers "backtracking" as Rahim approached them.
Robert Doggart, apparently an ordained minister in something called the Christian National Church, pleaded guilty last month in a plot to massacre Muslims at an upstate New York village known as Islamberg. Doggart, a resident of Signal Mountain, Tenn., was detained by the FBI April 11 as he was evidently planning to burn down the school, mosque and cafeteria at Islamberg—formerly Hancock, in Delaware county along the Pennsylvania border, in the southwestern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. "Our small group will soon be faced with the fight of our lives," he wrote in an indiscrete social media post. "We will offer those lives as collateral to prove our commitment to our God. We shall be Warriors who will inflict horrible numbers of casualties upon the enemies of our Nation and World Peace." Court papers say he intended to use an M-4 assault rifle and explosives, and sought to recruit volunteers for the attack from right-wing militia groups. He was apprehended while planning a reconnaissance mission to Islamberg. Doggart ran as an independent for Congress in Tennessee's 4th District last year, but was handily defeated.
The UN Committee Against Torture has urged the US (PDF) to begin prompt, impartial investigations into all cases of police brutality and excessive use of force by police officers, and to limit the use of electrical discharge weapons. The committee expressed concern over the use of force against people of "certain racial and ethnic groups, immigrants and LGBT individuals, racial profiling by police and immigration offices and growing militarization of policing activities." The committee especially cited reports that the Chicago Police Department has harassed, racially profiled and used excessive force on African American and Latino youths. In particular, the report "expresses its deep concern at the frequent and recurrent police shootings or fatal pursuits of unarmed black individuals."
Seven activists were arrested from Nov. 22 to Nov. 23 for nonviolent acts of civil disobedience during the 25th annual protest against the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly the US Army School of the Americas (SOA), at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. The protest's sponsor, SOA Watch, opposes the US Army's training of Latin American soldiers, charging that SOA graduates have been among the region's most notorious human rights violators. A special focus on the US government's treatment of immigrants marked this year's activities, which followed US president Barack Obama's Nov. 20 announcement that his government would grant a temporary deferral from deportation for several million undocumented immigrants.