Monday, June 3


‘I Can’t Breathe’: 

5 Years After Eric Garner Dies,

An Officer Faces Trial 



From The New York Times

© Mark Kauzlarich/The New York Times Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, at a protest in 2015 outside the Manhattan office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The last words Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, uttered on a New York City sidewalk in 2014 instantly became a national rallying cry against police brutality. “I can’t breathe,’’ Mr. Garner pleaded 11 times after a police officer in plain clothes placed his arm across his neck and pulled him to the ground while other officers handcuffed him.
The encounter was captured on a video that ricocheted around the world, set off protests and prompted calls for the officers to be fired and criminally charged.
Mr. Garner’s death was part of a succession of police killings across the country that became part of a wrenching conversation about how officers treat people in predominantly poor and minority communities.
Now, the officer who wrapped his arm around Mr. Garner’s neck, Daniel Pantaleo, 33, faces a public trial that could lead to his firing. Officer Pantaleo has denied wrongdoing and his lawyer argues that he did not apply a chokehold.
The trial, scheduled to start Monday at Police Department headquarters, has been long-awaited by the Garner family, whose campaign to hold the police accountable for what they say is an unjustified use of force took on greater significance after Mr. Garner’s daughter, Erica Garner, died in 2017.
The city paid $5.9 million to settle a lawsuit with the family after a grand jury declined to bring criminal charges.
But Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has fought and delayed the family’s efforts to have all the police officers involved in the encounter punished.
“It was at least a dozen more who just did nothing, or either they pounced on him, they choked him, they filed false reports,” Mr. Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, said in an interview. “It’s about all of those officers who committed an injustice that day and they all need to stand accountable.”
Officer Pantaleo faces charges of reckless use of a chokehold and intentional restriction of breathing. His lawyer says that Officer Pantaleo did not use a chokehold, but a different technique that is taught to officers in training and is known as a seatbelt.
So the trial will have to settle two questions at the heart of the case: Was the maneuver Officer Pantaleo used a chokehold? And, if so, was the officer justified in using it to subdue an unarmed man during a low-level arrest?
On Thursday, the Police Department judge overseeing the trial said that prosecutors must prove that Officer Pantaleo’s actions went beyond a violation of departmental rules and constituted a crime — an unusually high bar.
Video of the fatal encounter was recorded by Ramsey Orta, a friend of Mr. Garner’s who is expected to testify at Officer Pantaleo’s trial. It captured Mr. Garner telling officers in street clothes to leave him alone after they approached him outside a beauty supply store on July 17, 2014, not far from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.
Mr. Garner had repeated encounters with the police and believed that he was being harassed.
“This stops today,” he told the officers before they moved to arrest him over accusations that he was selling untaxed cigarettes. As one officer tried to grab Mr. Garner’s hand, he slipped free. Then Officer Pantaleo slid one arm around Mr. Garner’s neck and another under his left arm and dragged him to the ground. On the pavement, he begged for air.
The medical examiner ruled his death a homicide and said he died from a chokehold and the compression of his chest from lying prone. The findings are a crucial issue in the trial and Officer Pantaleo’s defense lawyer plans to dispute them.
Stuart London, the police union lawyer representing Officer Pantaleo, said the technique his client used was the seatbelt maneuver taught in the Police Academy, not a chokehold. He plans to argue that Mr. Garner, who was overweight and severely asthmatic, died because of poor health.
“Those who have been able to not come to a rushed judgment, but have looked at the video in explicit detail, see Pantaleo’s intent and objective was to take him down pursuant to how he was taught by NYPD, control him when they got on the ground, and then have him cuffed,” Mr. London said in an interview. “There was never any intent for him to exert pressure on his neck and choke him out the way the case has been portrayed.”
The Civilian Complaint Review Board, an independent city agency that investigates allegations of police misconduct, is prosecuting the case against Officer Pantaleo and is seeking his termination.
But the ruling on Thursday by the judge, Rosemarie Maldonado, the deputy police commissioner in charge of trials, denied Mr. London's motion to dismiss the case. But her ruling means that prosecutors need to prove that Officer Pantaleo’s actions rose to the crimes of assault and strangulation in order to avoid the state's prohibition on bringing misconduct charges more than 18 months after occurrence.
Colleen Roache, a spokeswoman for the review board, said prosecutors understood their obligation when they served Officer Pantaleo with the charges last July.
But critics have said the review board's failure to file charges sooner had made the prosecutors' case significantly harder to prove.
The Police Department banned chokeholds in 1993 amid concern about a rising number of civilian deaths in police custody. In 2016, the department added an exception to its chokehold ban under certain circumstances, which critics said made it easier for officers to justify its use.
After Mr. Garner’s death, the Police Department spent $35 million to retrain officers not to use chokeholds, but they continue to use the maneuver and rarely face punishment.
The trial is expected to last two weeks, with testimony from about two dozen witnesses. Officer Pantaleo has not decided whether he will testify, Mr. London said.
When the trial ends, Deputy Commissioner Maldonado, will decide if Officer Pantaleo is guilty. If guilt is determined, she will recommend a penalty to Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, who will make the final decision.
Short of firing, any discipline of Officer Pantaleo, a 13-year veteran, may never become public because of a state law that shields police disciplinary records from public disclosure.
The delays and secrecy surrounding officer discipline are part of the reason that police reform advocates say the public has lost trust in the city’s process for assessing complaints against officers.
The de Blasio administration fought to keep prior abuse complaints against Officer Pantaleo secret, including one stemming from a car stop in which the occupants said he strip-searched them on the street.
The records were eventually leaked, but the administration won several court rulings broadening the scope of the secrecy law.
“It’s been de Blasio and his administration who’ve been blocking the whole time that I’ve been trying to get the officers fired,” Ms. Carr said.
The trial will revisit a painful chapter marked by months of protests with marchers chanting Mr. Garner’s final words.
Not long after a Staten Island grand jury in December 2014 decided not to charge Officer Pantaleo with a crime, two officers were ambushed and killed by a gunman while sitting in their patrol car.
To Mr. Garner’s family and their supporters, his death discredited a crime-fighting strategy that the police and mayors have cited repeatedly as helping to drive crime rates to their lowest level in recent history. The strategy relies on targeting lower-level offenses that the police believe create the environment for more violent crime.
But critics say it has resulted in racial profiling, targeting mostly black and Latino men in poorer neighborhoods.
The Police Department delayed disciplinary proceedings against Officer Pantaleo for years because of an ongoing federal investigation. But with prosecutors in the Department of Justice divided over whether to bring charges, police officials decided to allow the disciplinary process to move forward.
Officer Pantaleo and Sergeant Kizzy Adonis, who was the first supervisor to arrive on the scene where the police were confronting Mr. Garner, were stripped of their guns and placed on desk jobs. Sergeant Adonis, who has since been restored to full duty, has been administratively charged with failing to properly oversee officers, but a date for her disciplinary trial has not been set.
A state judge recently denied Officer Pantaleo’s motion to have the civilian review board removed from the case. He argued that the agency lacked jurisdiction because the person who filed the complaint was not involved or an eyewitness.
“It’s time for Eric Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, the rest of the Garner family, and the people of the City of New York to have closure,” Fred Davie, the chairman of the civilian review board, said in a statement.
On the stretch of Bay Street where Mr. Garner died, the type of behavior that drew police attention five years ago persists. People peddle loose cigarettes and a sign affixed to a door outside an apartment building warns against selling heroin on a stoop.
“It’s a hustle block,” Christopher Sweat, a retired chef, said. “It’s a regular mood until the cops get called.”
Nearby, a plaque memorializes Mr. Garner’s death as a murder, adding, “May his soul rest in peace.” Passers-by on a recent afternoon were unanimous in their belief that Officer Pantaleo deserved to be fired.
“It was a blatant chokehold,” said Keenen Hill, 46, a maintenance man who lives in the neighborhood. “Stevie Wonder saw that.”
Laura Dimon and Ali Winston contributed reporting.

Tuesday, January 22

An opinion I can agree with from a columnist at the Washington Post:


Above all else, Trump is a bully

Columnist

Tuesday, January 15


Judge strikes down Trump administration's plan to add a citizenship question to 2020 Census

by Richard Wolf USA Today
Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross was shielded by the Supreme Court from having to tell
 lawyers why he wants to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. (Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP)

WASHINGTON – A federal district judge Tuesday struck down the Trump administration’s plan to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census, ruling that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross lacked the authority to do so.
The much-awaited decision by federal district Judge Jesse Furman is likely to wind up at the Supreme Court, which next month is scheduled to consider a portion of the case – whether Ross can be required to give a deposition about the reasons for his decision. But Furman’s ruling temporarily makes that question moot.
Ross announced the addition of the citizenship question last March, but it has been tied up in court. The government has not asked about individuals' citizenship on the Census since 1950.
Opponents, including California, New York, the American Civil Liberties Union and immigration rights groups, contend fears of deportation among undocumented immigrants will cause them to be undercounted. 

Sunday, October 21

I Could Have Told Them This 5 Years Ago!!!

Report says the UN's global 'war on drugs' has been a failure!!!

Updated 6:01 PM ET, Sun October 21, 2018




































































I'm sure that a very many people can say they knew it just like I did. The "war on drugs" has done nothing but make those who manufacture and sell drugs be more ingenious in what they do. It didn't  make those reports on huge drug busts any more frequent; it made them come less frequently because the traffickers were getting better at what they did!

A Colombian police officer lays out packages of cocaine seized in the city of Cali


(CNN)The United Nations' drug strategy of the past 10 years has been a failure, according to a major report by the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), which has called for a major rethinking of global policy on illegal narcotics.
The report claims that UN efforts to eliminate the illegal drug market by 2019 through a "war on drugs" approach has had scant effect on global supply while having negative effects on health, human rights, security and development.
According to the report, drug-related deaths have increased by 145% over the last decade, with more than 71,000 overdose deaths in the United States in 2017 alone. At least 3,940 people were executed for drug offenses around the world over the last 10 years, while drug crackdowns in the Philippines resulted in around 27,000 extrajudicial killings.
Packets of cocaine seized in the German port of Hamburg.

The IDPC, a network of 177 national and international NGOs concerned with drug policy and drug abuse, is urging the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs to consider a different approach to narcotics strategy for the next 10 years in the run-up to a March 2019 summit in Vienna, Austria.
"This report is another nail in the coffin for the war on drugs," said Ann Fordham, the Executive Director of IDPC, in a prepared statement. "The fact that governments and the UN do not see fit to properly evaluate the disastrous impact of the last ten years of drug policy is depressingly unsurprising."
The UN was not immediately available for comment on the report, which was made public Sunday.
"Governments will meet next March at the UN and will likely rubber-stamp more of the same for the next decade in drug policy. This would be a gross dereliction of duty and a recipe for more blood spilled in the name of drug control."
In 2017, Mexico, for example, recorded its most murderous year on record due to soaring levels of drug-related violence. As previously reported by CNN, the Mexican National Institute of Statistics and Geography revealed that there were 31,174 homicides over the course of the year -- an increase of 27% over 2016.
Mexico had more homicides in 2017 than previously reported, statistics institute says
In addition to fueling violence, the existing policy of criminalizing drug use has also resulted in mass incarceration, the report said. One in five prisoners are currently imprisoned for drug offenses, many on charges related to possession for personal use.
The report also said that 33 jurisdictions retain the death penalty for drug offenses in violation of international standards. However in March, US President Donald Trump proposed making drug trafficking a capital offense in response to the country's ongoing opioid crisis. 
Trump's death penalty plan for drug dealers a 'step backwards,' experts say
"What we learn from the IDPC shadow report is compelling. Since governments started collecting data on drugs in the 1990s, the cultivation, consumption and illegal trafficking of drugs have reached record levels," wrote Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, in the report's foreword.
    "Moreover, current drug policies are a serious obstacle to other social and economic objectives and the 'war on drugs' has resulted in millions of people murdered, disappeared, or internally displaced."
    Last week Canada became the first country in the G7 group of industrialized nations to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

    Saturday, October 13

    Are These People To Be Believed?

    My  response would be a resounding NO!! No matter who it is, anyone who hears something coming from the mouths of Trumpers should definitely take it with a huge 'grain of salt'! It's bound to be mistaken, have errors, or be a downright lie. This is a piece from August 14, but in my opinion, nothing has changed; when she does appear, what she says is wrong, stupid, or a lie.

    Sarah Sanders’s bizarrely incorrect argument about how Trump is helping black Americans

    President Trump’s rejoinder for accusations that he’s racially insensitive — or racist — is to point to how much he has done for the black community. He’ll point to the unemployment rate, for example, noting that joblessness among African Americans hit record lows during his presidency. (The rate has since bounced back up slightly.) The implication seems to be that his policies have been specifically targeted toward helping black and Hispanic Americans.
    On Tuesday, during one of her infrequent appearances in front of the White House press corps, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tried to put a finer point on Trump’s economic achievements for nonwhite Americans.
    “This is a president who is fighting for all Americans, who is putting policies in place that help all Americans — particularly African Americans,” she said. “Just look at the economy alone. This president, since he took office, in the year and a half that he’s been here, has created 700,000 new jobs for African Americans. That’s 700,000 African Americans that are working now that weren’t working when this president took place.”
    She continued: “When President Obama left after eight years in office — eight years in office — he had only created 195,000 jobs for African Americans. President Trump in his first year and a half has already tripled what President Obama did in eight years. Not only did he do that for African Americans, but for Hispanics — 1.7 million more Hispanics are working now.”
    Over the past several years, the employment rate has increased consistently, month over month. It’s a trend that didn’t begin in January 2017 with the inauguration of Donald Trump but shortly after the end of the recession during Barack Obama’s first term.
    The data make clear that there has been a steady upward trend since early 2010 — among whites, blacks and Hispanics.
    On Tuesday, during one of her infrequent appearances in front of the White House press corps, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tried to put a finer point on Trump’s economic achievements for nonwhite Americans.
    “This is a president who is fighting for all Americans, who is putting policies in place that help all Americans — particularly African Americans,” she said. “Just look at the economy alone. This president, since he took office, in the year and a half that he’s been here, has created 700,000 new jobs for African Americans. That’s 700,000 African Americans that are working now that weren’t working when this president took place.”
    She continued: “When President Obama left after eight years in office — eight years in office — he had only created 195,000 jobs for African Americans. President Trump in his first year and a half has already tripled what President Obama did in eight years. Not only did he do that for African Americans, but for Hispanics — 1.7 million more Hispanics are working now.”
    Over the past several years, the employment rate has increased consistently, month over month. It’s a trend that didn’t begin in January 2017 with the inauguration of Donald Trump but shortly after the end of the recession during Barack Obama’s first term.
    The data make clear that there has been a steady upward trend since early 2010 — among whites, blacks and Hispanics.
    What’s more, the increase in each group has been consistent; the slope of each line in the large graphs above has been largely consistent. So one wonders: How could it be the case that Trump has created three times as many jobs for black Americans? One thought might be that Sanders is counting Obama’s entire tenure, and black employment is now only slightly above where it was when jobs hit their low during that period. But black employment had rebounded to pre-recession levels by mid-2013.
    So what’s going on? The explanation is simple: Sanders is wrong. By a lot.
    We looked at three periods to try to give Sanders the benefit of the doubt: Entire administrations (January 2009 to January 2017 for Obama and January 2017 to July 2018 for Trump), the last 19 months of each administration (meaning all of Trump’s and the final 19 months of Obama’s) and the first 19 months of each.
    In terms of entire administrations, there was a much larger expansion of the number of black jobs under Obama than Trump — four times as many. Among Hispanic Americans, the expansion was even bigger. Among whites, the job growth under Obama was more modest, relative to that under Trump, in part because the drop in the number of jobs held by white Americans during the recession was so sharp. (See the chart at right, which we’ll get to in a second.) As a percentage, the increase in white employment under Obama was twice what Trump has seen. That’s over eight years, though, not less than two.
    Over the last 19 months of Obama’s administration, more jobs were created for black and Hispanic Americans than the same period under Trump. During those last 19 months, whites experienced lower job growth than they have under Trump. During the first 19 months of each administration, there’s no contest, because of the recession.
    Sanders was right that about 700,000 jobs have been added in the black community and that 1.7 million more Hispanic Americans are working than when Trump came to office. Both numbers are low, in fact.
    Compared with Obama’s eight years, though, Trump has — understandably! — underperformed.
    Update: Shortly after the press briefing concluded, the Council of Economic Advisers admitted that they’d provided incorrect information to Sanders. Later, Sanders herself rescinded the numbers in a tweet.
    If you want to see the graphs and charts which spell out all the actual numbers,just click this link.