‘Unite the Right’ Rally in D.C Dubbed ‘Pathetic Failure’

Vox news reporter German Lopez reports there were plenty of reasons for the low turnout from white nationalists at Sunday’s Unite the Right rally, including alt.right organizers’ fear of retribution. He quotes neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin as warning prospective participants: “Getting doxed as a neo-Nazi street fighter will ruin your life, forever.”

After last year’s disaster in Charlottesville, very few white nationalists showed up to the follow-up rally in Washington, DC– which turned out to be “a total dud,” reports Vox. 

Police and counterprotesters significantly outnumbered a small group of “Unite the Right” participants, with about 30 rallygoers, representing a loose coalition of groups including white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

They arrived in Vienna, Va., and took a public transit train into the city, where they headed to Lafayette Square across the street from the White House.

A sea of counter-protesters met the group during the hourlong gathering. Dozens of police officers were in the area, some on horseback. The far-right group had a permit to protest in the park until 7:30 p.m. but left shortly after 5 p.m., as it began to rain.

Some protesters threw eggs at police officers. Chants of “Go home Nazis” echoed through the park.

According to Vox news reporter German Lopez, there were plenty of reasons for the pathetic turnout from white nationalists, but the main reason is the disaster in Charlottesville.

“Charlottesville was a complete disaster,” he contended. “A moment that was supposed to somehow win white nationalists favor actively turned much of the nation against them when they engaged in violence and, in one case, literal murder.”

Lopez listed several more reasons for the low turnout, such as rallygoers fear of repercussions similar to that of Charlottesville.

“Several Charlottesville attendees had their identities revealed — which resulted not just in public shaming but in some attendees getting fired from their jobs,” said Lopez.

“That’s why neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin warned people to not go to this year’s rally, writing, ‘Getting doxed as a neo-Nazi street fighter will ruin your life, forever.’”

More, organizers of the 2017 Unite the Right have been embroiled in lawsuits filed by victims of the violence that took place.

And many of the alt-right’s biggest personalities, like Richard Spencer, lost funding platforms because, understandably, platforms like Patreon and PayPal didn’t want to be associated with advocates for the return of the Third Reich.

One white nationalist attendee (best known for sobbing uncontrollably at the thoughtof his imminent arrest) was even recently banned from entering the state of Virginia.

However, Jason Kessler, who organized the Unite the Right event, said he did not care about the low turnout.

“We had to prove the point we could do this rally and people would be safe” he concluded.

This summary was prepared by TCR staff reporter Megan Hadley.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Judge to Decide Whether Trump Met Family-Reunification Deadline

On Friday, federal Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego will determine if the Trump administration met Thursday’s court-imposed deadline to reunite almost 2,600 children separated from parents.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego is expected to determine Friday whether the Trump administration met Thursday’s court-imposed deadline to reunite almost 2,600 children separated from parents who were apprehended at the border with their families.

The government had reunited 1,442 of the 1,637 children deemed eligible as of 6 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday, according to USA Today.

Trump lawyers contended that they were on track to reunify all of the children with parents the government has deemed eligible for reunification by midnight.

Yet 700 children still remain ineligible for reunification, including 431 whose parents may have been deported and 120 whose parents waived reunification.

An attorney from the American Civil Liberties Union condemned the Trump administration’s decision to deem many parents ineligible for reunification. This includes up to 463 parents who have already been deported without their children and several hundred others who may have mistakenly waived reunification, either out of confusion or under government pressure.

“The only deadline they met was their self-defined deadline,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

The administration missed its first deadline of reuniting all children under five by July 10. By that date, the government had reunited 57 of the 103 “tender age” children with their parents.

Among those who have been reunited with their families, many children remain afraid that they will be abandoned again.

“I think that some of the children very quickly attach. Others, there’s a distance. There’s this caution, this lack of certitude, and part of it is not understanding what happened,” Ruben Garcia, the director of an immigrant-assistance center in El Paso, Tx., called the Annunciation House, told the Guardian.

The Department of Homeland Security’s internal watchdog has agreed to review the separation of families, as well as the conditions at border protection facilities where migrant children are held, in response to scores of congressional requests.

Judge Sabraw will also decide whether to grant a motion filed by the ACLU asking for a stay blocking the government from deporting reunified families for at least seven days.

Trump lawyers argue that the seven-day stay will interfere with the government’s authority to enforce immigration laws. The ACLU says that families need time to discuss legal options with their children or their lawyers, such as whether to fight their deportations and seek asylum, and whether to be deported together or whether to allow children to remain in the U.S. with relatives to seek asylum on their own.

“Many of the children were separated for months and months and months,” Gelernt said.

The government could at least give families seven days to figure out their options, she concluded.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Prosecution Numbers Increase Along Southwest Border: Report

New data from TRAC Immigration shows that prosecutions related to apprehensions by U.S. Customs and Border Protection along the southwest border increased this spring.

New data shows that prosecutions resulting from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) apprehensions along the southwest border increased this spring.

According to TRAC Immigration, records for May 2018 show that a total of 9,216 new federal prosecutions were brought as a result of referrals from CBP in the five federal judicial districts along the southwest border. That was an 11.1 percent increase from the 8,298 comparable prosecutions recorded during April–and a 44.7 percent increase over March figures.

The upward trend follows U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ April 6, 2018 announcement of a zero-tolerance policy for those who “illegally cross over our border.”

While the policy has resulted in increased criminal prosecutions, zero-tolerance does not accurately describe the reality on the ground, said TRAC (Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse), a data research organization based at Syracuse University. In May 2018, a generous estimate indicates criminal prosecutions were used in only about one-third of total Border Patrol apprehensions.

CBP reported that the Border Patrol apprehended 40,338 individuals along the southwest border in May who were trying to illegally enter the country.

Family separations, the Administration stated, was the inevitable consequence of prosecuting everyone caught illegally entering this country.

However, since less than a third of adults apprehended illegally crossing the border were actually referred for prosecution, the stated justification does not explain why the Trump administration chose to prosecute parents with children over prosecuting adults without children who were apprehended in even larger numbers, said TRAC. The administration has not explained its rationale.

But as a practical matter the announced zero-tolerance policy didn’t eliminate prosecutorial discretion.

Criminal prosecution along the southwest border, photo courtesy of TRAC

The Southern District of Texas led southwest border prosecutions during May with 3,996, double the 1,959 it recorded during April. The Southern District of California also recorded an increase. That district had the lowest number in April among the five border districts, but climbed past New Mexico’s prosecution numbers in May.

Other regions experienced declines. While Tucson, Ariz., had the largest number of recorded prosecutions during April (1,392), its May numbers fell to 1,149. Despite this drop, Tucson still had the third-largest total for criminal prosecutions in May, just below Del Rio, Texas. Las Cruces, N.M., as well as Laredo and Pecos/Alpine, Texas, also saw declines.

A full copy of the report can be found here.

 Megan Hadley is a staff reporter for The Crime Report. She welcomes readers’ comments.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Few Gang Members are Undocumented Immigrants: Report

While President Trump condemns illegal immigrants who come into the US as “gang members” and “criminals,” statistics show that only 0.09 percent of illegal immigrant detainees come from Central American gangs, according to AP. Instead, it’s often people fleeing gangs who are trying to get into the United States.

While President Donald Trump continues to condemn illegal immigrants who come into the US as “gang members” and “criminals,” federal data shows that only 0.09 percent of illegal immigrant detainees come from Central American gangs, reports the Associated Press.

Instead, it’s often people fleeing gangs who are trying to get into the United States.

President Donald Trump tweeted in June that “illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be … pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13.”

Yet very few gang members try to get into the United States. In fiscal year 2017, the US Border Patrol carried out 310,531 detentions of people who were in the U.S. illegally, but only 0.09 percent of them belonged to the gangs operating in Central America, according to US Customs and Border Protection statistics.

These findings are “not at all surprising” according to an immigration expert.

“The people coming to the US are fleeing gang violence (among other threats to their lives and human rights), they are not primarily the gang members themselves,” said Susan Akram, a clinical professor on immigration at Boston University school of law, in an interview with The Crime Report.

“As many reports have been documenting for years, the rise of gangs in Central America is a result of the development of violent gangs in the immigrant communities within the US–particularly LA–many of whom were deported to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, where they had not lived since childhood,” she said. “Having no options for education or jobs, they maintained and expanded their gang activities and turned to extreme violence.”

And according to Akram, the US plays a part in the reason immigrants are fleeing.

“The US itself bears some of the responsibility for the causes of this flight,” she said.

Reasons include: its longstanding interventions in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua that destabilized those countries governance during the 1980’s; the US’ exporting of its ‘border control’ to Central America, particularly Mexico, through such policies as Plan Frontera Sur and Plan Merida; the depression of wages and job opportunities caused by NAFTA and CAFTA; and the development of massive corporate agribusiness that has forced thousands of Central Americans off their lands and privatized their resources (particularly water).

Thus, America has an obligation to care for immigrants fleeing their homeland, she concluded.

Washington should “provide asylum to persons fleeing such kinds of persecution and harm, which the US is bound to through its treaty commitment under the US Refugee Protocol.”

Megan Hadley is a reporter for The Crime Report. She welcomes comments from readers.

Can Mexico’s New President End His Nation’s Violence and Corruption?

Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador has a long road ahead to dismantle corrupt politics and end rampant violence in Mexico, according to experts. “I think the biggest hurdle is that corruption is everywhere and the biggest challenge is where do you start?” David Shirk, an expert on security in Mexico, told The Crime Report.

Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador has a long road ahead to dismantle corrupt politics and end rampant violence in Mexico, according to experts.

“I think the biggest hurdle is that corruption is everywhere and the biggest challenge is where do you start?” David Shirk, an expert on security in Mexico and professor at the University of San Diego, told The Crime Report.

Obrador, a former Mexico City mayor who won a decisive victory Sunday with 53 percent of the votes on a platform that included pledges to tackle his country’s endemic violence and corruption, will have to make difficult decisions early on in the presidency, such as whether or not to prosecute corrupt government officials, Shirk said.

During his campaign, Obrador vowed to root out official corruption— long unaddressed by outgoing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s ruling PRI party, according to Politico. 

But whether or not Obrador will prosecute governors at the state level, and other top officials, remains unclear.

One way that Obrador could could restore justice is by strengthening the National Anti-Corruption Commission, a commission created under the previous administration to fight corrupt politics, but was never really used, said Shirk.

Under the National Anti Corruption Commission, Obrador may be able to prosecute government officials by making the commission a prosecutorial body.

“He can also give them more funding and do more things to strengthen that commission” said Shirk.

“The most important thing he can do if he is sincere about fighting corruption is to show support to that commission. Obrador needs to strengthen the institutions that are intended to fight corruption.”

Obrador also vowed to focus on ending poverty in Mexico rather than pouring more resources into a war on drugs that under the previous administration had been led by the army.

In his 400-page platform, Lopez Obrador laid out a detailed plan to revitalize farms of the rural poor and to boost industries, including through government procurement programs that favor national content — a measure reminiscent of Trump’s America First policies. He’d also shift focus from a war on drugs to poverty-fighting measures to bring down violence, including offering salaries for unemployed youth, even as he’s pledged austerity.

Another way Obrador pledged to overcome the war on drugs is to offer amnesty to nonviolent drug offenders.

See also: Next Mexican President May Offer Amnesty in Drug War

“Obrador is likely to take Mexico’s current drug policies and expand them significantly to include amnesty for dealers and individuals who are involved in drug trafficking,” said Shirk.

Notably, this election was one of the bloodiest in Mexico’s history, with over 100 candidates injured or killed in connection to the election, an unprecedented level of violence fueled by the country’s powerful drug cartels.

Megan Hadley is a reporter for The Crime Report. She welcomes comments from readers.

from https://thecrimereport.org

High Court Ruling a ‘Victory’ for Digital Privacy Rights, says ACLU

Americans have won a “ground breaking” victory for privacy rights in the digital age, thanks to last week’s Supreme Court decision requiring police to seek a warrant in most cases to access cell phone data, according to a privacy expert with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). 

Americans have won a “ground breaking” victory for privacy rights in the digital age, thanks to last week’s Supreme Court decision requiring police to seek a warrant in most cases to access cell phone data, according to a privacy expert with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). 

The ruling “opened up the path for future cases to apply the Fourth Amendment to all kinds of digital data that American’s can’t avoid using in their daily lives,” said Nathan Wessler, the ACLU attorney who represented Timothy Carpenter, the defendant in the case.

Timothy Carpenter, had been sentenced to 116 years in prison for his role in robberies of Radio Shack and T-Mobile stores in Michigan and Ohio. Cell tower records that investigators received without a warrant bolstered the case against Carpenter.

Investigators received the cell tower records with a court order that requires a lower standard than the “probable cause” needed to obtain a warrant.

See also: Cops Need Warrant to Obtain Cellphone Data, High Court Rules.

Wessler noted that as technology develops, privacy rights will have to follow.

In an interview with The Crime Report, he called the ruling “a strong rejection of the government’s position that by merely using modern technology (which results in data storing) we give up privacy rights to digital records.”

“The ruling strongly defends people’s privacy rights and cell phone location data, which can reveal so much private information about where we go an who we spend time with.”

According to Wessler, without proper privacy laws, law enforcement has access to a plethora of information through data sharing.

“Technology is giving police capabilities that were unimaginable a decade or two ago and right now there are many other ways police are gathering evidence,” he said.

He listed facial recognition, smart devices that monitor heart rate, news apps that reveal what you’re reading and what your politics are, and dating apps that reveal your relationship status as possible information that police could collect.

There are so many permutations of sensitive digital data that courts will have to be grappling with very soon, he warned.

“But going forward, cautious and responsible police and prosecutors should get warrants whenever they request phone data.”

“If they don’t, they are risking [having] their evidence thrown out when courts interpret what Supreme Court was talking about.”

Megan Hadley is a staff writer for The Crime Report. She welcomes comments from readers. 

from https://thecrimereport.org

Disgraced Movie Mogul Harvey Weinstein Might Go Free: Here’s Why

The #MeToo era has improved the climate for prosecuting accused sexual predators like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby. But according to experts, the legal hurdles to conviction remain formidable.

At the dawn of the #MeToo era, will changing attitudes towards sexual assault against women be enough to convict former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein?

Over 70 women have accused Weinstein of sexual assault, sexual harassment and rape (allegations he fervently denies).  The deplorable conduct he has been accused of in Hollywood and other places has sparked national outrage and fueled the fire for the #MeToo movement. Women across the country have started to speak out against sexually exploitive and abusive behavior of powerful, wealthy men like Weinstein–and the world is listening.

But, despite his many alleged crimes and the public’s cry for justice, Weinstein could walk away unscathed by the criminal justice system.

Here’s why:

Due to outdated sex crime laws not only in New York (where Weinstein is being charged with sex crimes against two different women) but across the country, the movie mogul could escape a damning prison sentence, experts tell The Crime Report.

In criminal court, prosecutors must prove beyond reasonable doubt that a sex crime did occur, and “that can be very difficult,” said Jeff Herman, known as a “go-to” lawyer for sex crime cases in Hollywood.

Herman acknowledged his doubts about the prosecution because the burden of proof is “very high” in these kinds of “he said-she said cases.”

Editors note: Herman is currently representing Dominique Huett and Kadian Noble, two of Weinstein’s accusers, in civil court.

Prosecutors will also have to prove the encounter was non-consensual, raising issues about the definition of consent under state law.

Proving Forcible Compulsion is Hard

In New York, rape is defined as “forcible compulsion” — compelling the victim through the use of physical force or the threat of immediate death, physical injury or kidnapping.

Many of Weinstein’s victims claim they were coerced into performing sexual acts, but Weinstein could argue they were not physically forced or fearful for their lives, lawyers warn.

“One of the problems in a case like this is [that] Weinstein will have the ability to argue that it doesn’t matter that the victim didn’t want to do what he wanted, because she eventually gave in,” said Wendy Murphy, an impact litigator and adjunct professor of sexual violence law at New England Law in Boston.

“And a jury might respond ‘she didn’t want to consent but she did eventually. Yes he pressured her, but it was consensual,’” said Murphy.

For example, actress Lucia Evans, one of the accusers in the criminal case against Weinstein, ‘sort of just gave up’ when she was being assaulted, she told The New Yorker.

Evan’s full account of the assault, as reported by Ronan Farrow in the groundbreaking New Yorker article “From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories,” shows the loopholes Weinstein’s defense may be able use against her. 

“He forced me to perform oral sex on him.” As she [Evans] objected, Weinstein took his penis out of his pants and pulled her head down onto it. “I said, over and over, ‘I don’t want to do this, stop, don’t,’ ” she recalled. “I tried to get away, but maybe I didn’t try hard enough. I didn’t want to kick him or fight him.” In the end, she said, “he’s a big guy. He overpowered me.” She added, “I just sort of gave up. That’s the most horrible part of it, and that’s why he’s been able to do this for so long to so many women: people give up, and then they feel like it’s their fault.”

Under US law, giving up could be seen as an indication of consent.

“In a civilized country, it wouldn’t be a debate about whether its acceptable to coerce someone and cause them to give up control of their body; it would simply be illegal to coerce someone,” said Murphy.

“But I am concerned that Weinstein’s lawyers will be able to argue ‘she said no, but then she changed her mind.’”

Weinstein’s victims’ feelings of distress, coercion or desperation may not be enough to convict him.

Will Victims Testify?

This sobering reality is juxtaposed with one facet of the criminal justice system that has proven to work in the #MeToo era: bringing in all the victims in to give their testimony.

In the Bill Cosby trial, five women were able to give their testimony in front of a jury and judge.

Cosby’s victims were brought in as “prior bad acts” to demonstrate his pattern of drugging women and then raping them. And it worked. Cosby was convicted on three counts of sexual assault for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004.

Under rule 404, multiple victims can be brought before a jury to show “character evidence, crimes, or other acts” and can be a saving grace in sex crime cases.

Without the five other women who testified, Cosby probably wouldn’t have been convicted, experts told The Crime Report.

“A one on one case would be very difficult to convict” said Jonathan Mandel, a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney and a former L.A. County prosecutor and public defender.

“It matters that all the woman stood up,” he said.

Although Weinstein has over 70 woman accusing him of sex crimes, due to statute of limitation laws, among other reasons, Weinstein is only being charged with crimes against two women. But the same statute of limitation laws do not apply to victim testimony.

Under rule 404, all of the women who have accused Weinstein might be allowed to give their testimony in front of the court.

Perhaps. Ultimately, the decision will come down to the judge. If Weinstein’s case goes to trial, the judge will have the final decision over whether or not character evidence can be used.

“That’s the ammunition,” said Mandel. “They [the prosecution] need 15 women to stand up and say ‘I wasn’t interested in advancing my career, this guy is an animal.’”

Mandel said he was sure the prosecution would bring in a brigade of victims, if permitted by the judge.

“It’s going to be really ugly if it goes to trial,” he concluded.

Megan Hadley is a staff writer for The Crime Report. She welcomes comments from readers.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Weinstein Wants Jury Trial on Insurers’ Refusal to Pick Up Tab for His Defense

Harvey Weinstein wants jurors to decide whether Chubb Ltd. and other insurers are acting in “bad faith” by refusing to pay to defend him against almost a dozen lawsuits accusing him of assaulting or sexually harassing women over four decades.

Harvey Weinstein wants jurors to decide whether Chubb Ltd. and other insurers are acting in “bad faith” by refusing to pay to defend him against almost a dozen lawsuits accusing him of assaulting or sexually harassing women over four decades, reports Bloomberg.

Weinstein’s lawyers said in court filings Monday they want an eight-day trial in federal court in Manhattan on the issue of insurers’ refusals to pick up the tab for his defense under policies that exclude coverage for “sexual molestation.”

A trial date hasn’t been set.

Chubb, based in Zurich, filed a countersuit against Weinstein and said it won’t pay him to defend against the women’s allegations.

Weinstein, whose studio sought bankruptcy protection in the wake of the scandal, was arrested in Manhattan in May on rape charges and released after posting $1 million bail and surrendering his passport. He denied the charges. That same month, his Weinstein Co. was sold to Lantern Entertainment in a deal worth about $437 million.

The case is Federal Insurance Co. v. Weinstein, 18-cv-02526, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

The former movie producer, who faces a wave of sexual-assault claims stretching back to the 1970s, was ousted from his studio in October 2017 after the New York Times and the New Yorker published accounts in which women accused him of sexual harassment and rape.

He has denied any non-consensual sexual activity. Weinstein is scheduled to return to court on Sept. 22 for a hearing on motions in his case, according to N.Y.C. prosecutors.

This summary was prepared by Megan Hadley. She welcomes comments from readers.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Trump Official: 30,000 Undocumented Kids Could Be Held by August

A senior administration official at the Department of Health and Human Services says the agency expects to be taking in about 250 children a day as a result of the crackdown on illegal immigration that started in May, even as President and Mrs. Trump declared in separate statements they “hated” seeing kids taken from their parents. That could mean some 30,000 kids will be detained by the end of August, the official said.

The Trump administration could be holding 30,000 undocumented immigrant children by the end of August as a result of its push to enforce federal immigration laws, which has led to the separation of children from their parents and guardians as those adults are prosecuted, reports The Washington Examiner. 

A senior administration official who asked not to be identified said the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been taking in about 250 children per day in recent weeks (HHS is the agency that is taking in children when they are separated from their families).

An HHS official also added that the agency expects to be taking about 250 kids each day at least for the next two months. If that estimate holds, HHS could be caring for 18,500 more children by the end of August. The official said as of Friday, HHS was already holding 11,500 children, which means the total could hit 30,000 by August.

The practice of separating children from undocumented immigrant adults has become highly controversial in the last few weeks, and the media has highlighted the issue by revealing the horrible conditions of immigration detention centers, where children are being held in cages and separated from their families.

Inside an old warehouse in South Texas, hundreds of immigrant children wait in cages created by metal fencing. One cage had 20 children inside. Scattered about are bottles of water, bags of chips and large foil sheets intended to serve as blankets, the Associated Press reports.

One teenager said she was helping care for a young child she didn’t know because the child’s aunt was somewhere else in the facility. She had to show others in her cell how to change the girl’s diaper.

The U.S. Border Patrol allowed reporters to visit the facility where it holds families arrested at the southern U.S. border, responding to new criticism and protests over the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy and resulting separation of families.

Yet reporters were not allowed to interview any of the detainees or take photos.

More than 1,100 people were inside the large, dark facility that’s divided into separate wings for unaccompanied children, adults on their own, and mothers and fathers with children. The cages in each wing open out into common areas to use portable restrooms. The overhead lighting stays on around the clock.

The Border Patrol said 200 people inside the facility were minors unaccompanied by a parent. Another 500 were “family units,” parents and children.

In a statement last Friday, Trump condemned the practice of taking away children at the border, declaring, “I hate the children being taken away,” but he falsely blamed Democrats for a law requiring it.

First lady Melania Trumo said she also “hates” to see families separated at the border and hopes “both sides of the aisle” can reform U.S immigration laws, according to a statement Sunday about the controversy over separation  of immigrant parents and children at the U.S- Mexico border.

Democrats responded to the president’s statement by saying that no law mandates the separation of children and parents at the border.

They claimed the current crisis is the result of a Trump administration policy that went into effect in May, which sought to maximize criminal prosecutions of people caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally. More adults were jailed as a result of the policy, which led to their children being separated from them.

Mrs. Trump didn’t refer specifically to the Trump administration’s “no tolerance” policy, which was causing a spike in children being separated from their families.

Megan Hadley is a staff writer at The Crime Report.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Who Else Could’ve Stopped the Parkland Massacre?

While school resource officer Scot Peterson has been under intense scrutiny for not stopping the mass shooting in Parkland, FL, another gun expert says that credible messengers could be used in schools to prevent mass shootings.

Scot Peterson, then the school resource officer in Parkland, FL, waited outside while students at Stoneman Douglas High School were being shot in February, sparking national outrage, including a tweet from President Trump condemning his cowardly actions.

Peterson has issued a public apology and explanation for not going inside the school. “I didn’t get it right,” Peterson admitted. “But it wasn’t because of some, ‘Oh, I don’t want to go into that building. Oh, I don’t want to face somebody in there.’ It wasn’t like that at all.”

Peterson said he never thought the gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas was targeting students and staff inside — even though school shootings have become tragically common, even though he had trained school staffers on how to respond to an active shooter, and even though he said over the radio at one point that he heard shots “by, inside the 1200 building” reported NBC News.

“It haunts me that I didn’t know,” he said. “I was trying to do the best I could with no information or intel at the time. … And it was just something happening so fast.”

But is Peterson the only individual who could have stopped the mass shooting?

“There shouldn’t be a need for a ‘Scot Peterson’ in the first place” said Hailey Nolasco, an expert on guns in schools, told The Crime Report.

Nolasco, from the New York City Mayor’s Office to Prevent Gun violence, argued that another kind of person could help prevent a school tragedy– a credible messenger.

Credible messengers are individuals who have experienced gun violence in their own lives, and go into schools to relate to troubled young children about the dangers and consequences of violence.

A credible messenger could detect, and stop, a troubled student, such as Nicholas Cruz (Parkland, FL shooter) from shooting up a school, Nolasco noted.

In New York City, credible messengers have been placed in all five boroughs and work for the Crisis Management System, a program started by Mayor Bill de Blasio to reduce gun violence.

A credible messenger is someone who may have been in prison for using guns, Nolasco said. “These individuals are sent out into the community to mediate conflicts and instead of retaliation.”

By relying on credible messengers in the schools, there is less of an emphasis on law enforcement, such as school resource officers, Nolaso argued.

While the Crisis Management System has been implemented in high risk schools in New York, the program is applicable to schools across the U.S., Nolasco said.

“Credible messengers should be in every school. That would be amazing to have as part of public safety approach to reducing violence in general because they are relatable and a safe place for young people to be able to voice what’s going on in their lives.”

While Nolasco believed Peterson was wrong staying outside the school and saying he ‘didn’t know what was happening,’ she argued having other resources in schools could have prevented the massacre.

For Peterson, he plays February 14 over and over in his head. He cringes when his name is mentioned on the news or in headlines, and he obsessively replays the day’s events, he told the Washington Post. He worries when he shows his identification somewhere that he’ll be recognized.

According to Nolasco, society should start thinking from a preventive side instead of a reactive one.

“We need to look for the signs from shooters” she concluded.

“Look for someone is withdrawn let them know they are supported.”

Megan Hadley is a reporter for The Crime Report. 

from https://thecrimereport.org