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1 year ago · by · Comments Off on Incidents of BLM Protesters Being Run Over Across the US

Incidents of BLM Protesters Being Run Over Across the US

 

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Researchers at the University of Chicago have documented 50 incidents of Black Lives Matter protestors being hit by cars from May 27 to June 17 across the country. The rash of attacks where they say right wing extremists have used their vehicles as weapons against Black Lives Matter protestors. Of those, five were by law enforcement and 45 by civilians. At least 18 are categorized as deliberate attacks; another two dozen are unclear as to motivation or are still under investigation, according to a count released Friday by Ari Weil, a terrorism researcher at the University of Chicago’s Chicago Project on Security and Threats. Weil has tracked vehicle-ramming attacks, or VRAs, since protests began.
Four were ruled accidental, including the viral incident when a tanker barreled down a highway in Minneapolis, sending terrified protesters running for their lives. Authorities later released the driver without charges, saying he had acted foolishly but did not deliberately target protesters.
The 20 people facing prosecution in the incidents include a state leader of the Virginia Ku Klux Klan, as well as a California man who was charged with attempted murder after antagonizing protesters and then driving into them, striking a teenage girl. Video footage of some attacks shows drivers yelling at or threatening Black Lives Matter protesters before hitting the gas.
In New York, an SUV driver sped through a peaceful protest march in Times Square, narrowly missing several people. In Bloomington, Indiana, two people were injured when a driver rammed a peaceful march demanding justice for a Black activist who survived an attempted lynching. In Long Island, New York, police arrested a man after he allegedly plowed his SUV into a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters, injuring two people. One ramming in Boston unfolded live on the local TV news, with the reporter at the scene saying, “Several people just got hit! Several people just got run over!”
A 27-year-old man, Dawit Kelete was charged with vehicular homicide, vehicular assault and reckless driving after barreling into a Black Lives Matter protest on a closed Seattle freeway, killing protester Summer Taylor, 24, and seriously injuring nother protester, Diaz Love, 32. Kelete allegedly drove his white Jaguar onto a closed section of the interstate where ongoing demonstrations have been occurring, and slammed into Taylor and Diaz.
Surveillance video captured the 2013 Jaguar apparently speeding down the freeway, swerving around cars supporting the protest that were blocking the lanes, and striking Taylor and Love, who were walking on the shoulder. The blow knocked them into the air, over the roof of the vehicle, and onto the pavement. According to the charging documents, Kelete allegedly did not slow down as he drove on the shoulder, aiming for the two.
The last rash of vehicle rammings occurred in 2015 and 2016, Weil said, when the “Run Them Over” meme was popularized in far-right circles in response to Black Lives Matter protests and demonstrations against the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. The most high-profile attack occurred a year later, during the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. James Alex Fields previously espoused neo-Nazi and white supremacist beliefs. He was convicted of hit and run and first degree murder after he plowed his car into a crowd, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and wounding dozens of others.
“To see dozens of these incidents occur over two weekends was surprisingly high. I want to caution that this isn’t just a far-right, neo-Nazi thing, but it’s becoming something that’s encouraged broadly, and I think that should worry everyone,” Weil said.

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1 year ago · by · Comments Off on More Police Reforms Passed As Civil Unrest Continues

More Police Reforms Passed As Civil Unrest Continues

 

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With mass uprising over police brutality showing no signs of abating, more policy changes are taking shape around the country.  San Francisco announced last week that trained, unarmed professionals will respond to noncriminal calls instead of police. Colorado lawmakers passed a bill to introduce sweeping police changes, including banning choke holds and requiring officers to intervene if they see excessive force being used. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he will reallocate $3 million from the police department’s budget toward public health initiatives. The Minneapolis City Council unanimously passed a resolution to replace the police department with a community-led public safety system.  Minneapolis Councilmember Alondra Cano said, “We acknowledge that the current system is not reformable, that we would like to end the current policing system as we know it.”

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont imposed a series of reforms on the Connecticut State Police, including a ban on choke holds, a mandate that officers use body cameras and dashboard cameras, and restrictions on a program that funnels military equipment to local law enforcement.  Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a police reform bill into law, prohibiting the use of a choke hold in an arrest “except when a person cannot be captured any other way or has used or threatened deadly force” and preventing an officer from being hired in Iowa if they have a previous felony conviction, were fired for misconduct, or left before they could be fired for misconduct.  The bill also requires annual anti-bias and deescalation training for law enforcement and allows the Iowa Attorney General to prosecute officers for a criminal offense resulting in the death of a human being.

Michigan State Senator Jeff Irwin introduced Senate Bill 945 which would require the addition of “implicit bias, deescalation techniques, and mental health screening” as part of the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards certification process for new law enforcement officers.  The bill was drafted before the death of George Floyd in response to the broader problem of police brutality and passed the State Senate unanimously on June 4. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas announced a series of police reforms, including whistle blower protections, independent review of officer-involved shootings, and use of body cameras by police officers.  New Jersey has banned police departments from using choke holds and similar neck and carotid restraints.  According to Attorney General Grewal’s order, “Because these tactics create a substantial risk of death or serious bodily harm, officers who cause a subject’s death or injury while performing them face potential criminal liability” except when “deadly force is necessary to address an imminent threat to life”.

Meanwhile, counties and cities across the country, including Cleveland, Denver and Indianapolis, are declaring racism a public health crisis. Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant is calling for a section of downtown known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone to remain permanently in community control. Protesters took over several city blocks last week after the Seattle Police Department abandoned its Capitol Hill precinct and stopped trying to violently disperse marches.  The Seattle City Council voted unanimously to ban police use of tear gas and choke holds.

The New York Police Department announced it is dismantling its plainclothes anti-crime unit and the 600 officers in the unit will be reassigned. In 2018, news outlets reported plainclothes anti-crime officers had been involved in 31% of fatal police shootings in New York since 2000. Meanwhile, Albuquerque, New Mexico, has announced plans to create a new civilian department made up of social workers and others to respond to non-emergency 911 calls. In Georgia, the state Legislature reopened with a call to pass a hate crimes bill. Georgia is one of four states with no hate crime laws.

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1 year ago · by · Comments Off on Many Cities Announce Reforms As BLM Protests Continue

Many Cities Announce Reforms As BLM Protests Continue

 

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As historic protests continue to sweep the country two weeks after the death of George Floyd, the Minneapolis City Council announced it would move to disband the city’s police department. Nine members of the council — a veto-proof majority — made the vow during a community rally. The vow to disband the police came just days after the Minneapolis City Council voted to ban chokeholds and neck restraints. Congress is slated to introduce reforms that include a chokehold ban, a limit on qualified immunity for officers and a restriction on military weapons. While news reporting may be bias, social media videos of police brutality toward peaceful protestors has sparked many local governments to take action as the protests continue. Although many of these reforms will be subjected to a long debate among local officials, some activists say it is a good start.
In Louisville, KY, the City Council unanimously passed “Breonna’s Law” Thursday night that banned the use of “no-knock” warrants. The legislation was named after Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT, who was killed in her home while in bed in March by Louisville police officers while executing a no-knock warrant. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, who suspended the use of no-knock warrants last month, said he will sign the bill. “This is one of many critical steps on police reform that we’ve taken to create a more peaceful, just, compassionate and equitable community.” The officers involved in Taylor’s death are under investigation and have been placed on administrative leave.
New York’s state legislature voted to repeal parts of a provision that shielded police disciplinary records from the public. The repeal of 50-A means that police officers across the state must disclose personnel records used to evaluate performance. Criminal justice advocates have been pushing for the repeal for years. The legislation also bans officers from using chokeholds, prohibits false race-based 911 calls and appoints the state attorney general to be an independent prosecutor in any case where an officer shoots an unarmed person. The state Senate approved the bill and the state Assembly approved it with later in the day. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also announced a sweeping set of reforms that would shift funding from the NYPD to other sectors of the city’s budget. De Blasio said he will work with the city council to hammer out the details over the next three weeks, but told reporters Monday that the amount would be “something substantial.”
Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced she will sign the emergency legislation passed by the City Council that bans the police from using neck restraints on suspects. The bill also bans the use of tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse protesters. The Council also passed a bill that requires the mayor to release police body camera video from any police-involved death or serious use of force within three days of the incident. The family members of the person involved in the incident will be the first to see the video, according to the bill’s language.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced short- and long-term changes to the city’s police force to address the concerns about police from residents. She said she will review the Seattle Police Department’s budget with a “special focus on listening community voices throughout the process.” Durkan has also called for an independent prosecutor at the state level to investigate and prosecute any police officers as well as updating the department’s procedures for mass protests.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced that the state will ban police departments from using chokeholds, carotid artery neck restraints or similar tactics. Grewal said their use has led to several incidents where a suspect suffered asphyxiation. The order provides an exemption “in the very limited situations when deadly force is necessary to address an imminent threat to life.”

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