Did D.C. Police Give Supremacists Too Much Help?

Critics wonder whether Washington, D.C., police spent too much effort protecting two dozen white supremacists at a Sunday rally. The rally’s organizer said the event went so smoothly, he wants to return.

As the Washington, D.C., region tallies the cost of a massive police effort to protect two dozen white supremacists who rallied on Sunday, some are questioning whether the extremist group received too many accommodations, the Washington Post reports. D.C. police and the mayor called the event a success — no injuries, one minor arrest — and said security measures were designed to separate white nationalists and counterprotesters with a history of violent clashes. Those same methods included what appeared to observers as amenities — police escorts and a semiprivate Metro rail car to spirit the rally’s organizer, ­Jason Kessler, in and out of Washington. “All these police here, and they’re protecting them?” said ­Bethan Neal, who joined thousands of counterprotesters held by police at a distance from Kessler and his group.

The region’s ability to ensure a peaceful event may turn out to be a double-edged sword. Kessler, who thanked law enforcement agencies for protecting his right to free speech, said it went so smoothly, he’d like to return. “Hopefully we’ll do more demonstrations in the D.C. area in the future,” he said. Police called the rally a unique event that should not set a precedent for other small groups with incendiary messages to expect the same level of police protection. A spokesman for D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said the violent history between Sunday’s groups set it apart. He said that getting Kessler’s group safely out of Lafayette Square, where the rally was staged, required an “alternative plan” because the anti-fascist group known as antifa and other groups had gathered outside the rally’s entrance points. “There was a sense that tensions were rising,” the chief said. The supremacists walked to the park, flanked by police. After the rally, they left amid an angry throng with the help of police.

from https://thecrimereport.org

With More Police on Streets, No Weekend Chicago Murders

Chicago’s five most violent police districts will get 600 additional weekend officers and police will continue to break up large unsanctioned parties “until we’re comfortable things are stabilized,” says Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.

Chicago’s five most violent police districts will get 600 additional weekend officers — and police will continue to break up large unsanctioned parties — “until we’re comfortable things are stabilized,” says Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The costly overtime that is difficult to sustain was hastily authorized to prevent a repeat of the bloodbath on the first weekend of August that left 71 people shot, 12 of them dead — and it worked. There were no homicides and only 33 shootings this past weekend.

Johnson was asked how long the additional attention and manpower would last at a time when the Fraternal Order of Police has warned of burnout by officers whose requests to take time off have been refused. “Until we’re comfortable that things are stabilized, we’ll continue to have ’em out” there, the superintendent said. Asked about the different crime totals on the first two August weekends, Johnson said, “We looked at large gatherings … and paid attention to ’em. But crime is cyclical. You never know when this stuff is gonna pop out.” Mayor Rahm Emanuel applauded Johnson for “getting on something immediately quick” and “making adjustments” in police tactics.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Chicago Violence Toll Tied to Poor Neighborhoods

Chicago is flourishing economically but the wealth is not equally distributed and neither is crime. A dozen poor, minority neighborhoods account for half of the city’s shootings.

In an analysis of Chicago crime data, Axios reports that while the city’s homicide rate is not the highest in the U.S., Chicago has consistently had more total killings than any other U.S. city, with 27 people killed since the beginning of the month. Racial segregation, wealth inequality, gangs and the inability of law enforcement to solve crimes have fueled the gun violence epidemic, and a handful of minority, impoverished neighborhoods have had the brunt of the impact. Gun-related homicides this year have dropped since the spikes in 2016 and 2017. This year still has the third highest number of homicides of the past 15 years.

Chicago is flourishing economically, with a record-low unemployment rate of 3.8 percent  and a third of its city workers making at least $100,000. The wealth is not equally distributed over the starkly segregated neighborhoods, and neither is the violence. Lack of resources and opportunities often lead young people in poor communities to turn to violence, community leaders and gun regulation advocates say. A dozen poor, minority neighborhoods account for 50 percent of Chicago’s shootings, says a study by Northwestern University. There were 215 shootings in the Austin neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago in the first seven months of the year, almost 12 percent of the city’s total. Adam Alonso of BUILD Chicago said children in neighborhoods like Austin walk out of the house with the belief “they might not make it back home.” The median income in the majority-African-American neighborhood is $20,000 less than the median income for Chicago, and almost a third of the neighborhood’s residents live below the poverty line. The gun violence problem will be solved once the economic and racial equality problems are solved, said Colleen Daley of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Chicago Violence Toll Tied to Poor Neighborhoods

Chicago is flourishing economically but the wealth is not equally distributed and neither is crime. A dozen poor, minority neighborhoods account for half of the city’s shootings.

In an analysis of Chicago crime data, Axios reports that while the city’s homicide rate is not the highest in the U.S., Chicago has consistently had more total killings than any other U.S. city, with 27 people killed since the beginning of the month. Racial segregation, wealth inequality, gangs and the inability of law enforcement to solve crimes have fueled the gun violence epidemic, and a handful of minority, impoverished neighborhoods have had the brunt of the impact. Gun-related homicides this year have dropped since the spikes in 2016 and 2017. This year still has the third highest number of homicides of the past 15 years.

Chicago is flourishing economically, with a record-low unemployment rate of 3.8 percent  and a third of its city workers making at least $100,000. The wealth is not equally distributed over the starkly segregated neighborhoods, and neither is the violence. Lack of resources and opportunities often lead young people in poor communities to turn to violence, community leaders and gun regulation advocates say. A dozen poor, minority neighborhoods account for 50 percent of Chicago’s shootings, says a study by Northwestern University. There were 215 shootings in the Austin neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago in the first seven months of the year, almost 12 percent of the city’s total. Adam Alonso of BUILD Chicago said children in neighborhoods like Austin walk out of the house with the belief “they might not make it back home.” The median income in the majority-African-American neighborhood is $20,000 less than the median income for Chicago, and almost a third of the neighborhood’s residents live below the poverty line. The gun violence problem will be solved once the economic and racial equality problems are solved, said Colleen Daley of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Arrests of Immigrants With No Record Tripled Under Trump

Federal arrests of undocumented immigrants with no criminal record have more than tripled under President Trump and may still be accelerating. A lawsuit blames a new ICE tactic of arresting without warrants people who are driving or walking down the street and by using large-scale “sweeps” of likely immigrants.

Federal arrests of undocumented immigrants with no criminal record have more than tripled under President Trump and may still be accelerating, finds an NBC News analysis of Immigration and Customs Enforcement data from his first 14 months in office. Responsible for the surge is a new ICE tactic of arresting without warrants people who are driving or walking down the street and by using large-scale “sweeps” of likely immigrants, charges a class-action lawsuit filed in June by immigration rights advocates in Chicago. ICE “administrative” arrests of immigrants without criminal convictions have spiked 203 percent in the first 14 months of Trump’s presidency compared with the final 14 months of the Obama administration, growing from 19,128 to 58,010. During the same time period, arrests of undocumented immigrants with criminal records grew just 18 percent.

An administrative arrest is an arrest for civil violation of immigration law. A criminal conviction can mean any misdemeanor or felony from jaywalking to murder, including previous immigration offenses. Mark Fleming of at the Immigrant Justice Center, which filed the lawsuit, believes many of the kinds of arrests that ICE is making under President Trump are new. “What’s really different about this enforcement action is that they are literally doing roving stops, whether by car or on foot, stopping people without any sort of articulable facts,” Fleming said. “It sends a message to the Hispanic community that we intend to racially profile you in your communities.” ICE official Matthew Albence told to the Senate Judiciary Committee last month that in the current fiscal year, nearly 90 percent of people arrested by ICE came to ICE’s attention after an arrest for a local, state or federal criminal violation. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit say the Trump administration’s aggressive tactics are ensnaring non-criminal immigrants who are detained and questioned without warrants and without probable cause.

from https://thecrimereport.org

How Police Disciplinary Records Can Affect Crime Cases

Nineteen convictions in California were dismissed when prosecutors learned that police officers were being investigated for misconduct. California is the only state where prosecutors may not obtain personnel files of police witnesses.

Pittsburg, Ca., police officer Michael Sibbitt was about to testify in a murder trial when a lieutenant from his department told the court that the officer had resigned more than a year earlier during an investigation into whether he had falsified reports and used excessive force. The 2015 revelation had a sweeping effect, the Los Angeles Times reports. Nineteen convictions secured with help from two officers were dismissed after prosecutors learned of the misconduct investigation. The incident rocked the criminal justice system in the San Francisco suburb and showed how information from officers’ confidential disciplinary files can change the outcome of cases if courts are made aware of the material.

The case was unusual because the lieutenant took it upon himself to reveal the officer’s background. Most of the time, getting this information into court is a convoluted process that often leaves judges, attorneys and jurors in the dark about misconduct by officers who take the stand in criminal proceedings. “It’s one of the more stark examples of why we need to have more transparency about police officers’ backgrounds,”  says Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor who teaches at Loyola Law School. Internal records of police misconduct are confidential in California, but state law allows judges to order police agencies to bring personnel files to court if an officer’s credibility is formally challenged.  In 21 states, records of significant police discipline are public. In many others, prosecutors and defendants are able to access them, eliminating the need for a judge’s private review. California is the only state in which even prosecutors cannot directly access the personnel file of a police witness. State lawmakers are weighing a proposal this month that would allow the public to see some law enforcement misconduct records.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Justice Activists Assail NY Parole Board

Two criminal justice advocacy groups say that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has failed to fill positions on the state parole board and that some members are not giving inmates a fair shake.

The New York State Board of Parole is woefully understaffed, and two members who have deep political and police ties routinely reject prisoners without giving them a chance, charges a scathing report by criminal justice activists, the New York Daily News reports. Commissioner Walter Smith, a politically connected board member since 1996, consistently denies parole to prisoners convicted of violent crimes and is prone to losing his temper and mocking inmates seeking to convince him they’ve turned their lives around, say the organizations Release Aging People in Prison and the Parole Preparation Project. Commissioner Marc Coppola attends hearings unprepared, often mixes up case files and fails to consider required aspects of a prisoner’s life behind bars, the report says. “The governor can and should dismiss these commissioners immediately and replace them with qualified candidates who better reflect the identities and experiences of people in prison,” the groups maintain.

Prisoner advocates and police unions are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to overhaul the board. Critics want the state to add staff as well as depoliticize how members are selected. The board is staffed with only 12 of 19 commissioners, who must handle an average of 12,000 cases each year. The board has not been fully staffed since Cuomo took office, said Dave George of the aging-inmate activist group. The state budget allocated money for 16 parole commissioners this fiscal year. A lack of staff has made it impossible for the board to review cases thoroughly, prisoner advocates say. In May, the board interviewed 70 prisoners in Fishkill Correctional Facility in one week. “Such severe understaffing has led to myriad procedural problems, overworked commissioners, higher caseloads, shorter parole interviews, and less time for individualized evaluations of parole applicant files,” the report says. Patrick Bailey, a parole board spokesman, said the report contains “false accusations.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Prison Reformer Larry Meachum Dies at 79

Meachum oversaw prison systems in Oklahoma, Massachusetts and Connecticut and directed federal corrections programs in the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs in the 1990s. He won a Supreme Court case on prisoners’ rights.

Larry Meachum, a prison reformer who as a habitual runaway as a youth might well have wound up in jails instead of running them, died last month in Florida, the New York Times reports. He was 79. Meachum oversaw the prison systems in Oklahoma, Massachusetts and Connecticut and directed federal corrections programs in the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs in the 1990s. At the time, the criminal justice system was struggling to cope with record crime rates, mandatory sentences and so-called broken windows neighborhood policing, all of which led to a rising number of arrests and mass incarceration.

While he was later criticized for coddling inmates, Meachum started one of the first prison boot camps — a version of shock therapy that he later disavowed — and his name was on a prisoners’ rights lawsuit, Meachum v. Fano, decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. The court ruled 6-3 in 1976 that Meachum had not violated an inmate’s right to due process when, as a Massachusetts warden, he transferred the man to a more inhospitable prison without a hearing. During his career, he worked to improve drug treatment and other medical services for inmates, curb gang violence, reduce recidivism by offering education and occupational training, provide facilities for recreation to reduce idle time, and start supervised release programs. Mike Lawlor, Connecticut under secretary for criminal justice policy and planning, described Meachum as a man who surrounded himself with “people who understood the concept of redemption and who appreciated the basic humanity of prisoners.” At DOJ, Meachum developed and oversaw drug abuse testing and treatment and post-prison programs for inmates. He retired in 2003.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Some Progress Cited in ‘Disorganized’ Ferguson Court

The Missouri State Auditor investigated Ferguson’s municipal court after the Michael Brown shooting and found many problems. The auditor says the court is trying to address her findings but “there is still work that needs to be done.”

More than a year after finding significant problems with the Ferguson, Mo., Municipal Court, a new report shows the city has made some progress in fixing a system that was in disarray, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Last year, state Auditor Nicole Galloway issued a stinging report that said boxes of court records had become moldy after a water leak. She found pervasive disorganization, a reluctance by local officials to cooperate with her staff and $26,000 in illegal fees, earning the court the state’s worst ranking. The audit also cited a lack of oversight that resulted in at least $1,400 in missing funds.

“My last audit discovered careless and disorganized records management that led to serious questions as to the ability of the court to effectively serve citizens,” Galloway said. “While there is still work that needs to be done, efforts are underway to address the audit findings and implement better processes moving forward.” While Ferguson has not pursued criminal prosecution or restitution for the missing money, officials have worked to implement new procedures to better prevent and detect loss or theft in the future, Galloway said. The city has been under intense scrutiny in the four years since an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, was shot to death by a Ferguson police officer.
Galloway said the problems in Ferguson weren’t very different from most of the 20 other courts she has audited since taking office, saying municipal courts statewide appear plagued with illegal procedures, poor transparency and weak records management.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Manslaughter Charge in FL Stand Your Ground Case

The sheriff had refused to charge Michael Drejka for killing Markeis McGlockton in a parking dispute, citing the state law allowing people to shoot in self-defense. A prosecutor said the facts support a manslaughter charge.

Prosecutors charged Michael Drejka, the man accused of killing Markeis McGlockton in a shooting that has reignited a debate over Florida’s stand your ground law, with manslaughter, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe said his office “filed the charge we think we can prove.” Drejka, who turned 48 since the shooting, had avoided arrest since he shot McGlockton, 28, on July 19 because of the controversial self-defense law that eliminated one’s duty to retreat before resorting to force. Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said his agency was precluded from arresting Drejka because the case was “within the bookends of stand your ground and within the bookends of force being justified.”

The encounter started when Drejka, of Clearwater, Fl., confronted McGlockton’s girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, about why she had parked at a food store in a handicap-reserved parking space without a decal. McGlockton emerged from the store and pushed Drejka to the ground. Drejka then pulled out a gun and shots McGlockton. He told deputies he was in fear of further attack. The warrant for Drejka’s arrest said McGlockton had immediately backed up when he was confronted with the firearm. State legislators revised the law last year to put the onus on prosecutors to disprove a stand your ground claim instead of on defense attorneys to prove one. Drejka has been the accused aggressor in four incidents since 2012. He was not arrested in any of the cases and does not have a criminal history in Florida. two of the previous cases were road rage incidents documented by law enforcement in which he was accused of showing a gun. A third was an argument a few months ago over the same parking space in which Drejka confronted another man and threatened to shoot him.

from https://thecrimereport.org