Want Friendlier Cops? Hire More Blacks and Latinos, says Study

Does the race or ethnicity of police officers make a difference in how they behave on the streets of the neighborhoods they patrol—and how they see their jobs? A study released Friday suggests it does, and the authors—both from the University of Central Florida—say it supports arguments that law enforcement diversity is crucial to restoring trust and legitimacy in America’s police forces.

Does the race or ethnicity of police officers make a difference in how they behave on the streets of the neighborhoods they patrol—and how they see their jobs?

A Florida study released Friday suggests it does, although the authors admit their findings aren’t conclusive.

The study found “significant” variation among African-American, Latino and white police officers in West Palm Beach, FL, not only in their attitudes towards community policing, but in the way they regarded citizens who needed help—even in cases that did not involve serious crimes.

“Officers of color harbor much less negativity toward citizens and are more willing to see them as worthy of help, including for matters not involving serious crimes,” said the study, which also found that black and Latino officers displayed less cynicism about their jobs than their white colleagues.

The authors of the study, Jacinta M. Gau and Eugene A. Paoline III, both of the University of Central Florida, based their findings on responses to a survey administered during morning roll call over a week-long period in July 2016 to 149 beat cops—representing more than half the 228-member West Palm Beach Police Department.

Some 35% of the department’s uniformed personnel are black or Latino. While that was still not reflective of West Palm Beach’s population—the authors cited U.S. Census Bureau figures showing that over half the city’s 107,000 residents were persons of color— they argued that the racial breakdown of the city’s force reflected the nationwide trend towards increased diversity in hiring, and was substantial enough to make it the focus of their survey.

Although more than 200 officers actually participated in the study, the authors focused on beat cops whose responses they felt would more clearly reflect street knowledge and experience.

Their findings offered some statistical support for arguments by police reformers that diversity is crucial to improving police-community relations—particularly in at-risk neighborhoods where trust and confidence in law enforcement are at a low ebb.

The authors said the survey results suggested that black and Latino officers “may be uniquely important to fostering the reliable public support” that allows police to effectively protect public safety.

“A greater representation of minority officers may translate into better service provision and police–community relationships,” they said, noting that both black and Latino officers were more “favorably disposed than whites” towards partnerships with businesses and community groups in crime-prevention efforts.

While nearly all the officers shared similar opinions about the importance of the law-and-order aspects of their job (catching criminals), “Black and Latino officers seem to view citizens more favorably than white officers do (and) are significantly more likely to believe that victims deserve police assistance and that they are genuinely helping people when they answer calls for service.”

The authors made clear their study did not attempt to analyze the reasons for the disparity, and they notably avoided any suggestion that racist attitudes played any role in the differing responses.

They noted that other studies have shown that much of the cynicism ascribed to police was the result of attitudes learned from colleagues over time as they acquired more experience in their jobs—and as they dealt with commanders and supervisors.

The study did not provide more detailed data on the officers’ gender, experience or economic background, and the authors made clear that more studies of other law enforcement agencies around the country, conducted over longer periods of time, were essential before drawing any definitive conclusions about the influence of an officer’s race on his or her behavior.

But they said their findings underlined the need for police leaders and supervisors to pay more attention to keeping officers of “all races sensitized to the importance of their actions during face-to-face interactions with citizens,” which is also among the conclusions of former President Barack Obama’s 2015 Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

“Without calling white officers out,” the authors said, “(their) negative leaning seems to suggest a need for police leaders to pay attention to officers’ attitudes and the way in which they approach citizens.”

At a minimum, they said, their findings made clear that increasing the diversity of police forces should continue to be high on the agenda of police managers and policymakers.

Officers of color are increasing in number across the country.

The authors cited figures showing that the ranks of minority officers in municipal and county agencies nearly doubled between 1987 and 2013, from 15% to 27% .

A full copy of the study, which will be published in Justice Quarterly under the title “Officer Race, Role Orientations, and Cynicism toward Citizens,” is available here.

This summary was prepared by Stephen Handelman, executive editor of The Crime Report. Readers’ comments are welcome.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Black-White Youth Incarceration Gap is Growing

While youth incarceration in the U.S. has been dropping, since the start of the century, black children were four times more likely to be incarcerated than were white children.

Youth incarceration rates are dropping but there is a widening gap between black and white youth confinement, NPR reports. Criminal justice reform advocates say a heightened police presence in minority areas is to blame. Justice Department data shows a 54 percent drop in incarceration of people under 21 between 2001 and 2015. In 2015, 152 of 100,000 youths were incarcerated in the U.S. — a drop from 2001, when 334 of 100,000 youths were behind bars.

An analysis by The Sentencing Project of federal data since the start of the century showed that in 2001, black children were four times more likely to be incarcerated than white children. By 2015, black children were five times more likely than white children to be incarcerated: some 86 of 100,000 white children were incarcerated, while the number for black children was 433 of 100,000 behind bars. Every two years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzes youth risk behavior, including alcohol use, drug use, behaviors that contribute to violence and others. The results from its 2015 study show black youths are not committing more crimes in proportion to white youths. There are some slight behavioral differences. White youths are more likely to carry weapons, drink alcohol and do harder drugs, while black youths are more likely to get into fights, smoke marijuana and handle drugs on school property.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Is Football Kneeling Debate Straying from Criminal Justice?

Last year, quarterback Colin Kaepernick made clear that his sitting during the national anthem was a protest against racial injustice, especially police killings of black people. Activists are concerned that the debate over other players’ kneeling “means absolutely nothing” to racial justice issues.

While a debate over professional football players kneeling during the national anthem consumed much of the nation, demonstrators in St. Louis protested the acquittal of a white former police officer in the fatal 2011 shooting of a black man, marching inside a mall and through the streets in daily protests for more than a week. Racial justice activists are concerned that the essential issues they have spent years trying to highlight — police brutality and systemic racism — could get lost in the growing national dialogue emerging from football stadiums, reports the New York TimesWhen former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first made headlines last year by sitting during the national anthem, he made his motive clear: He was protesting racial injustice, especially the police killings of black people, an issue that began drawing increased national attention after the 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

Now, with President Trump criticizing kneeling players, leading many players, owners and league officials to band together, motivations have become murky, racial justice advocates and protesters say. Are they fighting for free speech or against police brutality? Is the anti-racism message of kneeling being co-opted by a league and owners more concerned about their bottom line than black lives? “This new wave of everyone kneeling, it means absolutely nothing,” said L’lerrét Jazelle Ailith of Black Youth Project 100, an activist organization. “It’s become very basic and watered down.” Ailith and other activists fear that the latest debate involving football players could cause the focus of the activism started by Kaepernick to stray from its original intent. Trump urged football team owners to fire players who did not stand for the anthem, saying they should “get that son of a bitch off the field right now.” Ailith said the protests should not focus on the president, but on achieving racial justice in areas like policing, education, health care and the economy. 

from https://thecrimereport.org

Philadelphia Weighs Racial Impact of Bail Reforms

Some worry that a risk-assessment tool under development could predict recidivism by weighing factors that serve as a proxy for race and socioeconomic status, ultimately incarcerating more black and brown defendants while allowing white defendants to go free.

BillyPenn.com looks into the racial ramifications of bail reforms that are part of sweeping changes to Philadelphia’s criminal justice system. City officials are working with top data scientists to develop a computerized risk assessment tool that looks at a variety of factors and assigns a defendant a label: low-, medium- or high-risk. Bail will be assigned from there, and the ultimate goal is to get more pretrial defendants out of the city’s jails while working to eventually end cash bail entirely. Criminal justice reform advocates see the end goal as a good one. But there’s a real concern that computerized risk assessment tools could predict recidivism by weighing factors that serve as a proxy for race and socioeconomic status, ultimately incarcerating more black and brown defendants while allowing white defendants to go free.

Hannah Sassaman, the policy director at the Media Mobilizing Project who was recently awarded a fellowship to study risk assessment models, said there are factors beyond race and zip code — which won’t be incorporated into Philadelphia’s risk assessment tool — that can stand as a proxy for race, whether it’s conviction record, job status or arrest history. “If we know convictions are caused by those systemic racist factors, how can we have convictions as a proxy for dangerousness?” she said. The development of a new risk assessment tool for Philadelphia is part of a number of strategies being implemented by a team of stakeholders working on a three-year project to reduce Philadelphia’s prison population by a third. Much of those efforts are being funded by a $3.5 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Serial Killer Law Cited in LA Murders of Black Men

Kenneth Gleason of Baton Rouge, who is white, is charged with killing two men in cases that may have been racially motivated. He will be charged under a Louisiana law that allows for the death penalty for serial killers.

A 2009 Louisiana law making it easier to subject serial killers to the death penalty could have a profound impact on Kenneth James Gleason, the Baton Rouge man who was booked Tuesday on first-degree murder counts in a pair of fatal shootings last week, reports The Advocate. East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors sought the change to the first-degree murder statute after reputed serial killer Sean Vincent Gillis was convicted in 2008 of first-degree murder. The jury deadlocked on the death penalty, and Gillis was sentenced to life in prison. First-degree murder, which is punishable by death in capital cases, requires an aggravating circumstance, such as murdering someone while committing another crime like armed robbery or killing someone under the age of 12.

Prosecutors complained to state lawmakers after the Gillis trial that serial killers often murder without committing another aggravating crime. Authorities say Gillis confessed to killing eight south Louisiana women between 1994 and 2004. He was booked in seven of those deaths. Prem Burns, who prosecuted Gillis and helped push the change in state law, said it was sorely needed so serial killers would not be rewarded for not committing an aggravating crime in addition to each individual murder. Gleason, who is white, is booked with first-degree murder in the killings of Donald Smart, 49, and Bruce Cofield, 59, both black men. Authorities have said the shootings may have been racially motivated. Smart was shot Thursday night while walking to work his overnight shift at a cafe. Cofield was apparently homeless and frequently panhandled at the intersection where he was shot on Sept. 12.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Ferguson Drops Charges Against Man Held at Gunpoint

The city dismissed the five-year-old case against Fred Watson, who was featured in a Justice Department report that criticized the city for targeting African Americans and making unconstitutional arrests.

Fred Watson of Ferguson, Mo., won a small victory in a long battle, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. More than five years have passed since the Navy veteran was held at gunpoint by a Ferguson police officer before being arrested, having his car towed and being jailed.

More than two years have passed since Watson was featured, without being named, in a Justice Department report that blasted police in Ferguson for targeting African Americans, making unconstitutional stops and arrests, and treating the city’s police and court system like an ATM. On Monday, all nine municipal charges against Watson were dropped.

The Ferguson prosecutor did not notify Watson or his lawyers with the nonprofit ArchCity Defenders law firm, and offered no explanation. Prosecutor Lee Clayton Goodman told the Post-Dispatch that Watson’s case fell within the guidelines set out in Ferguson’s consent decree with the Justice Department, in which the city agreed to dismiss certain municipal court cases.

After being charged, Watson lost his security clearance, then his six-figure job with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. The $58,000 he had saved for his first two years of law school has been spent on food and other daily expenses. Watson said he has battled depression and is broke. He has been living out of storage units and sleeping in basements and the back seat of his car. Still pending is a federal lawsuit Watson filed against Officer Eddie Boyd III and Ferguson.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Two Groups Challenge Legality of Arpaio Pardon

Advocacy groups charge that President Trump’s pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio was unconstitutional because it undermined the power of the federal judiciary.

Two advocacy groups are challenging President Trump’s pardon of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, alleging that the president’s move was unconstitutional because it undermined the power of the federal judiciary, reports Politico. The Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center, a public interest law firm, asked to file an amicus brief in an Arizona court, where Arpaio is seeking to vacate a conviction after Trump granted him a pardon last month. A second group, the Protect Democracy Project, filed an amicus brief arguing that the pardon is unconstitutional.

Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, has repeatedly been accused of using racist law enforcement tactics and mistreating inmates. A Justice Department civil rights investigation concluded that his department racially profiled Latinos. Arpaio lost a re-election bid last year. In July, he was convicted of criminal contempt of court because he had continued to detain immigrants without sufficient reason after a federal court order told him to stop. Trump pardoned Arpaio in August, pointing to his “selfless public service.” The MacArthur Justice Center brief contends that Trump’s pardon of Arpaio violated the Constitution because “it has the purpose and effect of eviscerating the judicial power to enforce constitutional rights.” The MacArthur Justice Center lawyers argue that, while broad, presidential pardon power can not be used to undermine the judiciary’s ability to enforce the Bill of Rights or the Fourteenth Amendment.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Living Under Joe Arpaio’s ‘Reign of Terror’

San Francisco DA George Gascón repeatedly clashed with Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio when he headed the Mesa, Ariz., police department.  In an exclusive interview co-published by TCR and WitnessLA, he calls on prosecutors and law enforcement officials around the country to “stand together” in defense of the Constitution following Trump’s controversial pardon.

As the debate over last Friday’s presidential pardon of Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., continues to roil the nation, TCR highlights a law enforcement figure who repeatedly clashed with the self-styled “toughest sheriff” of America for comment.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, who served as chief of the Mesa, Ariz., police department between 2006 and 2009, possesses a trove of hard-won personal knowledge about how Arpaio works—perhaps more than nearly any other law enforcement figure in the nation. A 28-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, Gascón rose to become second in command of the LAPD under Bill Bratton, overseeing 8,000 patrol officers, before he became the chief cop in Mesa,a city more populous than Atlanta, Kansas City  or Miami. Although it’s been nearly 10 years since Gascón, who fled Castro’s Cuba with his family at the age of 13, clashed with “Sheriff Joe,” his memories and observations represent a vivid reminder of the activities that led to Arpaio’s conviction.

In a conversation with WitnessLA Editor Celeste Fremon, Gascon spells out the constitutional violations that he says were committed by the sheriff  “almost on a daily basis,” discusses what it was like to work under Arpaio’s “reign of terror,” and suggests how prosecutors and law enforcement should respond to President Trump’s “mockery of the rule of law.”

WitnessLA: What was your reaction when you first heard on Friday night that the president had pardoned former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio?

San Francisco DA George Gascon. Photo courtesy @George Gascon

George Gascón: Well, you know it was incredibly emotional for me because I lived around the reign of terror of Joe Arpaio for three years. I saw firsthand the number of constitutional violations that were being committed by Joe almost on a daily basis.

I remember that I was asked to give sworn testimony at a Congressional hearing in 2009 about the 287-G program, the precursor to Secure Communities, which is the program where local law enforcement is deputized to do immigration work for ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Arpaio had one of the largest group of such officers anywhere in the nation, and they were absolutely trampling over people’s rights.

WLA: Give us an example of the kind of “trampling” you’re talking about.

Gascón:  For instance—and this was very common—you would have Joe’s deputies out in the early morning when construction workers, farm workers and gardeners are headed to work. Pickup trucks would be out on nearly every road in the county, and there would be some brown-looking people in the truck. The officers would spot a truck like that and make a traffic stop, or a “pretext” stop, and then ask everybody for their for their papers. Those individuals who couldn’t show identification proving to the satisfaction of the deputies that they were here legally, would be arrested and taken to jail.

They’d arrest people who were green-card holders, and many times they’d arrest U.S. citizens, and would hold them for hours. When I was providing testimony for Congress, a 19-year old Latino man (joined) me. He was a citizen, born in Phoenix, but he was still detained for 18 or 20 hours in one of those sweeps, before he could prove that he was U.S. born.

Another common strategy was for Arpaio’s people to go in the morning to the K -12 schools in a community, especially the elementary and middle schools where kids were more likely to be driven to school by their parents.

The deputies would make traffic stops with anybody who looked Latino. This caused the community parents to become so terrified, that kids were not being taken to school. I had parents coming to me for help, asking, “How do I get my kids to school?”

WLA: Why was it an abuse of rights for Arpaio’s deputies to stop one of those farm worker crew trucks, or those parents? 

Gascón: You cannot simply target people on the basis of race, or the color of their skin, to do police work. You can use color or race when you are looking for a pre-identified suspect, and you see someone who meets that description. But you cannot simply say, for instance, I’m going to stop all green people because some green people may be committing crimes.

So, what the Maricopa County sheriff was doing is basically saying, OK we know that most undocumented immigrants in Maricopa County are going to be of Latino origin. A lot of Latinos are brown-skinned people. So if we start making traffic stops of people who look like this, we are going to have a high degree of probability that eventually we’re going to find some people that are here without documents.

Then Joe’s people would do sweeps where they’d look for people who matched the stereotypical look of immigrant workers of Latino descent, and they would stop them— sometimes for a valid traffic violation (or) sometimes they would just fabricate the cause. In either instance, the deputies would question the people they stopped about their legal status. If the deputies thought the answers weren’t satisfactory, those folks would be arrested and ICE would be notified.

The problem is, first of all, the predicate way of going after people just based on their apparent national origin and racial characteristics is unconstitutional.

Second, because often Joe’s deputies had so little to go on, they were actually arresting and holding people for hours in lock-up facilities when the people they arrested had a legal right to be in this country or, in some cases, they were born here. All that is a violation of our constitutional right to due process under the Fourth and the 14th Amendment.

Editor’s Note: The Supreme Court ruled a century ago, and again in 2011, that whether people have immigration documents or not, they are still afforded the same protections as citizens.

Staring Down Sheriff Joe

WLA: At some point Arpaio appeared to go to war with you personally.

Gascón: My opposition to his work became very public, with a lot of media coverage. Because of this, there was a time where Joe decided to get some questionable warrants to search several Mesa city government facilities, including the public library, the main city administration building, and a police facility.

So early one morning , I get a call from our dispatcher saying,  “Hey, there’s a large number of men dressed in what appears to be tactical gear mustering at a local park.”

We were a little concerned because we’d had a couple of issues recently where the cartels came in to do hits on their adversaries, and they’d have people dressed in police tactical gear. So we weren’t sure what we were dealing with, because no one had notified us that this operation of Sheriff Arpaio’s was going down. So our officers were very concerned about who this group might be.

I told them to have a supervisor approach the group very peacefully and try to identify them. When my people went, they immediately determined that they were Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies, with dogs, and a bunch of extra (individuals) who Joe’s people said they were just doing a training exercise.

Typically, as you probably know, when one agency is going to do a tactical operation in another agency’s jurisdiction they notify them. But they not only didn’t notify us; when we saw them, they lied to us, which is unheard of between law enforcement agencies.  We decided we were just going to monitor them quietly from afar, which is what we did. But then the next thing we knew, we had groups of deputies storming the main city administration building.

What we learned later, is that they were looking for undocumented workers on the janitorial staff. Then they stormed through the city library. I believe there were 20 women on the cleaning crew. And three did not have the ability to show they were here lawfully, and they were arrested.

A side story to this is that one of those women arrested had young kids at home who were left alone in their house for over a day until people figured out the mom wasn’t there, and there were no adults in the house.

Then later that morning, the group also hit a police facility where the Mesa Police Department kept all the credentials for all the city’s workers. And [Arpaio’s deputies] went in and took the hard drives of the computers that had all this information.

The whole idea behind this whole thing was that I, as the Chief of Police, was facilitating the credentialing of undocumented workers to work for the city, which wasn’t the case. It all fell apart. But this is kind of the thing he did.

Immigration and Public Safety

WLA: Los Angeles Chief of Police Charlie Beck and other law enforcement officials have repeatedly stated that having local cops help ICE is not in the best interests of public safety. Please explain why you believe that is true.

Gascón: Let me give you two concrete examples. One happened when I first became chief of police in Mesa. A person came to me and said, “We have a young woman we know who was brutally assaulted and raped. She is from Guatemala and is undocumented. And she is afraid to go to the hospital to get medical treatment because that might lead to people reporting her to the federal government.

She also refused to report the crime to the police because she was afraid of being deported.

So you had a woman who had been brutally raped, needed medical assistance, and really needed to have law enforcement investigate the case, but who didn’t want to do any of those things because of her immigration status. We were finally able to get her the medical assistance she needed.

But she was never willing to make a police report. This didn’t happen in Mesa, but happened in another jurisdiction nearby in Maricopa County.

We came to find out later that the person who sexually assaulted her had likely been involved in other previous sexual assaults and eventually assaulted and raped another woman. So this is an example of why you don’t want community members to be afraid to report a crime. When that happens, the criminal elements in the community believe they can act with impunity because certain victims, and certain witnesses, are not going to report them.

WLA: What other examples should we know about?

Gascón: When I came to Mesa, the city was having problems with violent crime, and with property crime. During my tenure there, we were able to reduce both kinds of crime substantially. But, during that same time, in the unincorporated area of Maricopa County, meaning the areas that were not policed by a local police force, but were policed by Joe Arpaio’s sheriff’s department, crime consistently went up. And many of those unincorporated areas actually bordered our city.

When we looked at it, [we found that] the reason why crime was going up there just across the city line while, in similar communities, crime was going down, was because, number one, we began to develop a relationship with our community members, who were then willing to come and report crime and work with us.

And number two, we were able to dedicate our resources to deal with what local law enforcement is trained and chartered to do, which is to deal with local crimes. Whereas in the case of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department, people were afraid to report crimes, because they did not know if they, or a neighbor, could be deported as a result. And also, crime enforcement suffered because a lot of Joe’s resources were being taken away from the primary function of law enforcement, and were put instead toward immigration enforcement.

There was one town that was policed on contract by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department. When that town later decided to create its own police department, they found out that there were hundreds of sexual assault cases that had gone uninvestigated because the sheriffs didn’t have the resources to both.

WLA: I read something about that in prepping for this interview. I think there were 400 uninvestigated sexual assault cases, 32 cases involved children, one involved a two-year-old child.

Gascón: It’s been a while, but that sounds about right. Those are the reasons why you as citizen should be very worried about having your local police engaging in doing immigration enforcement work. It can harm public safety. And, at the end of the day, this is where I think there is such a lack of moral authority in the decision that the president made to pardon Joe Arpaio.

The president often talks about the rule of law. Well, if you’re such a guardian of the rule of law, how do you square a pardon for this guy who has been violating the rule of law on a regular basis—massively?

The Road to Criminal Contempt

WLA: Let’s talk about the court order that Arpaio defied that led to the president’s pardon. We know that the ACLU filed a federal class action lawsuit against Arpaio in 2007, alleging that he and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office engaged in racial profiling and unlawful traffic stops of Latinos. Four years later, the lawsuit went to trial. What came next?

Gascón: In 2011, after the federal jury found Maricopa County and Joe guilty, Joe was ordered by the court to stop those illegal practices. But this was right around election time, and for the first time he was challenged by someone who might have a chance of beating him. But Joe also knew that, for him, in Maricopa County immigration had always been a winning issue. So he decided to continue those illegal patrols, even though he had been ordered by a federal judge not to do it.

WLA: So then, five years later, in May 2016, U.S. District Judge Murray Snow handed down a 162-page ruling finding Arpaio guilty of civil contempt of court. When Joe still didn’t stop, Snow referred Arpaio and three of his aides to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, requesting that they be prosecuted for criminal contempt of court. He was convicted in July 2017.

Gascón: By the way, Judge Snow, who found him in contempt of court, is a very conservative Republican judge. So you can’t make the argument that this was some bleeding-heart liberal judge appointed by Obama. That is just not the case. [George W. Bush appointed Snow.] He is a very conservative jurist, but someone who believes in the rule of law.

What President Trump has done here is a complete mockery of the rule of law. He provided a pardon for a law enforcement official who consistently violated the Constitution, who was found to have violated the Constitution with racial profiling by a federal civil trial process. And after he was ordered by a judge to stop this unconstitutional behavior, he continued to violate the constitution anyway.

And how do you square the fact that Maricopa County has paid millions and millions of dollars in lawsuits for all his wrongful actions? That money should be going to public safety, not to attorneys for plaintiffs whose rights were violated.

WLA: What are next steps for law enforcement, and for others who disagree with these actions?

Gascón: Well, there are a lot of lessons here, just as there are a lot of lessons in what happened in Charlottesville, because many of these recent events are intertwined. One main lesson is that we cannot look the other way. We have to speak up. We have to make it clear that we’re not going to allow our nation to be overtaken by hate and by a complete disregard for the values that we hold dear.

As for what’s next, whether you’re a law enforcement officer or you’re a gardener, we all have to stand together, because our shared values of tolerance and inclusion are the ultimate defense to hatred and xenophobia—whether we’re black or brown or white or Jewish, or any other group, it doesn’t really matter. There are some things that are immoral about what is happening in our nation and we have to speak up and we have to confront it with lawful means, but we have to be clear about it.

WLA: Is there a specific place for prosecutors in the kind of actions you just talked about?

Gascón: I think we all play an important role.  I find this [alt-right]  white supremacy, or white nationalism, or whatever you want to call it, to be extremely disturbing, and shameful. But as the district attorney of San Francisco County, our office is going to prosecute anybody, regardless of what side of the political spectrum you come from, if you commit a violent crime at a demonstration. So as much as I disagree with those people, they will have the protection of the San Francisco DA’s office as individuals to exercise their freedom of expression.

That protection is precisely what makes us different from some other countries in the world. And this is the difference, quite frankly, between us and the current administration. We know what the rule of law is, and we’re prepared to uphold the rule of law—for everyone. We will not look the other way.

Editors’ Note: On Monday, the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) added its voice to the chorus of condemnations of the Trump pardon, calling the move  an “affront” to the U.S. judiciary process.

The Crime Report is pleased to co-publish this interview with WitnessLA.  Readers’ comments are welcome.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Trump Pardons Ex-Sheriff Arpaio for Contempt

Former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio says the pardon “shows how [Trump] backs up law enforcement.” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) says the pardon “undermines [Trump’s] claim for the respect of rule of law.”

President Trump pardoned former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio for his criminal contempt conviction, removing the only legal consequences the lawman faced stemming from a long-running racial-profiling suit, the Arizona Republic reports. The White House announced the pardon Friday evening in a news release that recounted Arpaio’s lengthy career of “admirable service” in federal and local law enforcement and called him “a worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.” Arpaio said, “I’m very appreciative of the president issuing that pardon. It shows how he backs up law enforcement.” Arpaio, who lost a 2016 re-election bid ending 24 years in office, hinted the pardon could set up a political comeback: “I told my wife that I was through with politics. But now I’ve decided I’m not through with politics because of what’s happening.” Arpaio plans a news conference to discuss the “abuse” of the justice system.

Arpaio, 85, was convicted of criminal contempt on July 31, and was scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 5. Trump and Arpaio have enjoyed a warm relationship since the early days of Trump’s presidential campaign. They share a hard-line stance on immigration, and Arpaio was one of the earliest public figures to offer Trump his full-throated endorsement. Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican whom Arpaio endorsed during Ducey’s 2014 run for governor, said the former sheriff deserves credit for his long tenure in law enforcement and public service. U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), said that while the pardon is within the president’s authority, “doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Mayors Meet on Violence, Stress Holistic Approach

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges hosted a national conference on combating youth violence and fielded questions about a recent spate of shootings in her own downtown entertainment district. “It’s wrong, it’s bad, it should not happen in our city,” she said. “It did happen in our city. And we are doing everything we can to find whatever strategies we can to end that violence.”

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges hosted a national conference on combating youth violence and fielded questions from the media about a recent spate of shootings in her own downtown entertainment district, reports KARE-TV.

“It’s wrong, it’s bad, it should not happen in our city,” Hodges said. “It did happen in our city. And we are doing everything we can to find whatever strategies we can to end that violence.”

She said she’s working with Police Chief Medaria Arradondo to map out a plan after two recent gun fights that resulted in injuries to innocent bystanders. Other mayors on hand for the Cities United Conference came to Hodges’ defense, noting that outbreaks of gun violence are not unique to Minneapolis and are the result of many complex factors including increased access to firearms.

“In many of our cities, unfortunately, they are seeing upticks in crime – big cities, medium size and small,” said former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, a Cities United co-founder.

The mission of Cities United is to strengthen cities by helping city leaders trade ideas and learn from the experience of others about what innovations have worked.  The fourth annual convening of the organization in Minneapolis was devoted to finding ways to save young people, especially African-American and Native American males, from the epidemic of gun violence.

“The reality is most of these kids involved in this violence have not received love, support, expectations or discipline,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, noting that the underlying conditions that were not created overnight and will take time to solve. The mayors group takes a holistic approach, recognizing the importance of access to housing, jobs, mental health services and reforms making it easier for former offenders to reenter communities.

from https://thecrimereport.org