When there are no Mulligans

December 14, 2009 by James E. Johnson Jr. · Comment
Filed under: Crime 

It keeps coming at me like the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. Since I read the New Yorker article in September I have not been able to get beyond the story of Cameron Todd Willingham.

My mother always told me to put myself in someone else’s place as a way to a better empathize or understand what that person is going through. And yet I cannot come close to imagining what Cameron Todd Willingham was going through in his last moments.

Two days before Christmas in 1991, a fire rushed through the Willingham home and killed all three of Cameron Willingham’s daughters. According to some eye witness accounts, after Willingham escaped the fire, he made attempts to go back and rescue his daughters. He was restrained with handcuffs to prevent his reentry for safety reasons. Read more

The Circus Continues: Arpaio Raids Social Service Agency

December 11, 2009 by Jill Garvey · Comment
Filed under: Crime, News, Politics 

Thursday afternoon Sheriff Arpaio’s deputies raided the offices of a social service agency in Phoenix. This latest act of intimidation is tied to his ongoing attacks against Maricopa County supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox. Wilcox has been an outspoken opponent of Sheriff Arpaio’s. On Tuesday, County Attorney Andrew Thomas brought a grand-jury indictment against Wilcox. Ironically, Andrew Thomas is Sheriff Joe’s good buddy.

Arpaio and Thomas, who are the County’s top two law enforcement officials, have been embroiled in a nasty feud with county supervisors.

Arpaio’s deputies took boxes of paperwork from the agency, Chicanos Por La Causa, which was planning an anti-Arpaio demonstration. According to the Phoenix New Times a demonstration now seems unlikely in light of the raid. Chicanos Por La Causa provides social and educational services for the local community.

But the craziness doesn’t stop there. Andrew Thomas appeared before reporters on Wednesday to discuss why he brought trumped-up criminal charges against a veteran superior court judge.  Judge Gary Donahoe is on Arpaio’s bad side for jailing one of his deputies. Shockingly, the deputy was punished by Judge Donahoe for breaking the law. Par for the Arpaio-gone-nuts course. Read more

Will Lady Justice Be Saved?

November 16, 2009 by James E. Johnson Jr. · Comment
Filed under: Crime, Politics 

The once strong and proud Lady Justice, protector of human rights and civil liberties, has herself become a victim and her moral voice has been muted. She’s been bound and gagged (by the Patriot Act) and some government officials are trying to lock her in history’s basement. Two cases are indicative of Lady Justice’s peril.

First, in 2002, Maher Arar a Syrian-born Canadian citizen was abducted by the U.S. government on false information from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that he was a terrorist. The United States held Arar for 12 days before handing him over to Syria, even though Syria has been listed as a state sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. since 1979 and the U.S. knew that the torture of Mr. Arar was very likely. In Syria, Mr. Arar was tortured and kept in a grave-like cell for over 10 months. Read more

Remembering Marcelo Lucero

November 5, 2009 by Stephen Piggott · 1 Comment
Filed under: Crime, Immigration 

Do you remember what you were doing almost one year ago on November 8, 2008? I remember it clearly; I was watching my favorite soccer team Manchester United lose to their massive rival, Arsenal, after giving up two stupid goals. The team and fans put this sad day behind them and went on to win the league title, but for the family of Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero, this day continues to bring them sadness and pain. It was on this day nearly one year ago when their beloved son and brother, Marcelo, was stabbed to death in Suffolk County, New York by a gang of teenagers who were on a hunt to “kill a Latino, any Latino.”

Mr. Lucero’s mother, who hadn’t seen him for 14 years since he left Ecuador to come to the United States, followed in her sons footsteps after his death to demand justice. By all accounts, Mr. Lucero was a quiet, kind man who got along with everyone. He rarely traveled at night for fear of being attacked by white gangs that preyed on Latinos in the area. These hate crimes give us firsthand accounts of the statistics that we reported on months ago about the dramatic rise in hate crimes, especially against Latinos in the past few years. Read more

Dallas Police Ticket Drivers for Not Speaking English

October 25, 2009 by Jill Garvey · Comment
Filed under: Crime, News 

Sheesh. Writing tickets for not speaking English? Really? According to the Dallas Morning News several knuckleheaded cops are doing just that.

Dallas police wrongly ticketed at least 39 drivers for not speaking English over the last three years, Police Chief David Kunkle announced Friday while promising to investigate all officers involved in the cases for dereliction of duty.

Pending cases will be dismissed, and those who paid the $204 fine for the charge, which does not exist in the city, will be reimbursed, Kunkle said.

“I was surprised and stunned that that would happen, particularly in the city of Dallas,” Kunkle said. “In my world, you would never tell someone not to speak Spanish.” Read more

Indifference & Racism: Fertile Ground for Violence

October 13, 2009 by Jill Garvey · Comment
Filed under: Crime, News, Politics 

While I was on vacation a terrible tragedy occurred in Chicago. A teenage boy, Derrion Albert, was beaten to death, caught in the middle of a brutal street fight. It happened just before Chicago was anticipating a win as the host city for the 2016 Olympics. Suddenly, between the Obamas, Oprah, and a grainy video of a poor kid’s life ending, Chicago was all the media wanted to talk about. Every time I flipped on the TV there was another reporter directing lame questions like, “Why is Chicago’s youth out of control?”, into news cameras. It seemed the more they asked, the further they got from the truth. And the more I watched, the angrier I became. I saw one interview with a group of guidance counselors who correctly pointed out the lack of funding for schools from which they had been laid off. That’s part of it, but it’s also about affordable housing and taxes and police brutality. Why was it so difficult for everyone to just say what’s at the core of all these things?

This isn’t about youth violence. It’s about poverty and displacement and racism. In a deeply corrupt and segregated city, it’s the very poor who are trapped under the rotting insides of its shiny facade. Children caught in inescapable economic despair will turn to gangs, and the chaos that comes along with them, because they have nothing else to rely on. Read more

Crosspost: Lawsuits Against Two West Michigan Meat-packing Plants

October 1, 2009 by Sarah Viets · Comment
Filed under: Crime, Economy, Food Justice, Health, News 

Workers in west Michigan are suing against two meat-packing plants for lost wages according to a recent article in the Grand Rapids News.

By Nardy Baeza Bickel, The Grand Rapids Pres…

GRAND RAPIDS — Two area meat-packing plants are being sued separately in federal court for allegedly not paying their workers for a full day, including the time spent putting on and taking off their required protective gear.

While the suit is being brought by a dozen workers, the number of plaintiffs could swell to 1,400 current or former meat-packing employees if the lawsuits achieve the class-action status being sought.

At issue are thousands of dollars in alleged unpaid wages, said Robert Alvarez, an attorney for employees of local Boar’s Head Provisions Co. Inc. and Michigan Turkey Producers Cooperative Inc. plants.

Read more

Lessons of the Tulsa Race Riots

September 3, 2009 by Jill Garvey · Comment
Filed under: American Identity, Crime 
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3108/2634752229_bb18c5fb4a.jpg

On May 31, 1921 the reputation of Oklahoma was irreparably harmed when racial tensions turned violent in the thriving town of Tulsa. With over 300 African Americans murdered (some estimates reach into the thousands), and thousands of homes and businesses destroyed in just one day of mob violence - it was one of the cruelest days in American history. It is believed the sheriff deputized members of the white mob as they set upon Tulsa’s prosperous black neighborhoods.

On June 29, 1921, an article appeared in The Nation by Walter F. White, (future director of the NAACP). His chilling testimony of what he found in the aftermath continues to stand as a stark warning for America today and tomorrow:

“One could travel far and find few cities where the likelihood of trouble between the races was as little thought of as in Tulsa. Her reign of terror stands as a grim reminder of the grip mob violence has on the throat of America, and the ever-present possibility of devastating race conflicts where least expected.” Read more

Crosspost: Preying on Immigrants in Need, Chapter 79B

August 23, 2009 by Jill Garvey · Comment
Filed under: Crime, Immigration 

Came across a great article at The Unapologetic Mexican by guest contributor David Bennion of Change.org.

Newsday highlighted yesterday New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s recent announcement of a crackdown on three NYC-area businesses charged with defrauding clients looking to resolve their immigration status.

The article is vague on this point, but I’m going to assume from the context and my experience that the three businesses are run by nonlawyer “notarios” who routinely abuse their positions of influence in immigrant communities to defraud newly arriving immigrants or those desperate enough to try anything to resolve their legal status.

Cuomo is right when he says the consequences of bad legal advice can rip families apart and destroy lives, but I wonder why it is that the authorities always seem to go after the “notarios” and other nonlawyers, when every low-income immigrant knows that immigration lawyers can be even worse than notarios. New York State has even set up a backchannel fund to compensate immigrants defrauded by attorneys in what looks to me like an effort to keep the “bad immigration attorney” stories out of the papers. Maybe I am missing something, maybe I don’t know the whole story, but that’s what it looked like to me on the ground during my two years of immigration practice at a Catholic nonprofit in Brooklyn. Read more

Arpaio Sued for Detainee Mistreatment and Death

July 23, 2009 by Jill Garvey · Comment
Filed under: Crime, News 

Sheriff Arpaio of Maricopa County is facing two more lawsuits due to the mistreatment and death of inmates at his prisons. The details of the death of David McClurg are especially tragic. A diabetic, McClurg developed gangrene within six weeks after being detained. He was a pretrial detainee, which means he had not been convicted of a crime

His family maintains that he was housed in overcrowded conditions and not provided a diet necessary for a diabetic. Apparently McClurg’s diet changed so radically for the worse upon entering the Maricopa County jail system that it was the first time he experienced symptoms. Read more

Hate Activity Increasing, it’s a Fact

July 22, 2009 by Stephen Piggott · Comment
Filed under: American Identity, Crime, Politics 

Last month, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights released their brand new report on hate crimes in America entitled, Confronting the New Faces of Hate: Hate Crimes in America. The report was co-authored by Wade Henderson and Michael Lieberman. Earlier this week I listened in as both men hosted a phone press conference to promote their report. Both Wade and Michael introduced the report and its findings before opening up the floor for questions. Before describing the reports disturbing findings, Henderson described two high profile hate crimes that have gained national attention. He first talked about last week’s murder at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC before moving on to the story of Luis Ramirez who was beaten to death by teens in Pennsylvania in 2008. After introducing the report, Henderson and Lieberman went on to discuss the reports main themes and some of the more shocking findings in their research. Here are some of the main themes and facts:

In 2007, 7,624 hate crimes were reported in the United States. From 2003-2007 hate crimes against Hispanic’s increased nearly 40%. Read more

Arpaio Supporters Exhibit Dangerous Rhetoric

July 10, 2009 by Jill Garvey · Comment
Filed under: Crime, Immigration 

This most recent video from Humanleague shows us once again the people who are supporting Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona. It’s a chilling look into an environment occupied by violent racists and the immigrants they target. This is exactly why Shawna Forde felt justified in breaking into a Latino family’s home and murdering a little girl and her father.

While some of the individuals featured on this video may be unstable or exhibit strange behavior, they are not crazy. These are functioning adults who are perfectly capable of behaving in a reasonable manner. They choose not to. They choose hate over tolerance. They choose to advocate violence over rational dialogue. Violence against immigrants occurs because bigots in positions of power (Sheriff Joe) set the stage and provide an atmosphere that make it acceptable. Read more

March Against 1968 Riot Cops Reunion

June 29, 2009 by Cloee Cooper · Comment
Filed under: Crime, Politics 

On June 26th, 2009, over a hundred people gathered in protest at the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) in Chicago. Beyond the police barricade, the FOP held their 1968 Riot Cop Reunion. Outside, people stood with signs, “Fight Racism, Stop Police Brutality”. The officers who cracked heads at the 1968 Democratic Convention and the Division Street riots of 1966, and murdered Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were celebrating with today’s police. According to the protestors, “the police are still occupying our communities and repressing our rallies”.

Chicago Copwatch in conjunction with other Chicago activists and organizations organized a rally and march to highlight the violence of the Chicago police in the 1960s, as well as their violence today. If you were at the demonstration, you would have seen some of the same anarchist and punk crowds that often attend anti-capitalist, anti-state demonstrations. However, scattered amongst the people who stood in anger outside of the reunion, were survivors of the 1968 riots. Read more

Campaign to Renounce Anti-Immigrant Groups Needed to Stop Violence

June 22, 2009 by Katie Bezrouch · 2 Comments
Filed under: Crime, Immigration, Politics 

We have been keeping a close eye on the murder case of Raul Flores and his nine-year-old daughter, Brisenia. Jason Bush, Shawna Forde, and Albert Gaxiola broke into the Flores’ home on May 30th and shot them, point blank, in cold blood.

The three suspects belong to the Minutemen American Defense (MAD), a vigilante anti-immigrant group. Shawna Forde is the leader, and has been tied to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. FAIR is frantically attempting to distance themselves from this horrible act of violence, which is proving a difficult task considering Shawna Forde was named as a representative of FAIR in 2006.

Nativist groups appear unrepentant in the aftermath of a tragedy they helped create. Jim Gilchrist’s group, Minuteman Project (which supported Forde), even had the nerve to post this article on father’s day.

This is not just insensitive, it’s a clear signal that these extremist groups will not stop inciting hatred and violence. Not until reasonable Americans demand it. Read more

Child Killer Represented National Anti-Immigrant Group

June 15, 2009 by Eric Ward · 1 Comment
Filed under: Crime, Immigration 

Brisenia Flores was too young to die. At nine years-old her life was cut short by bullets fired at the hands of anti-immigrant activists—individuals who had been instructed by a larger movement that the United States was being invaded. For years alleged pundits like Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin have sold this racial fantasy to the American public and now a nine-year old girl has paid the ultimate price.

For Shawna Forde (41), Jason Bush (34), and Albert Gaxiola (42) Brisenia was not just a young child with her whole life ahead of her, instead she and her family were forced against their will into a world where they became part of an alleged “foreign army” whose lives held no worth. Read more

Existence is Bleak for Women Incarcerated Globally

June 15, 2009 by Amy Spicer · Comment
Filed under: Crime, International 

With the devastating sentencing of two American journalists, North Korea once again is thrust into the spotlight. With no due process Laura Ling and Euna Lee have been sentenced to 12 years in the notorious labor camps of North Korea. One can only hope that with the power behind these two women there will be a swift resolution and they will be returned home to their families.

However, what about the thousands of women who simply don’t have the resources or people working on their behalf as these two women do? Women are at risk constantly in countries where they are both marginalized and economically disadvantaged. Read more

Minutemen Members Murder Nine Year Old and Father

June 14, 2009 by Jill Garvey · 13 Comments
Filed under: Crime, News 

On May 30 three members of the Minutemen American Defense (an anti-immigrant group) broke into the home of the Flores family and killed them. They murdered Raul Junior Flores, his 9 year old daughter, Brisenia, and injured her mother. Jason Bush, Shawna Forde, and Albert Gaxiola have been charged with two counts each of first-degree murder and other charges. The suspects believed that there would be large amounts of cash and possibly drugs in the home. They shot the family because they did not want to leave witnesses. The suspects allegedly believed that two little girls would be at the home and looked for the second girl so they could also kill her. The other daughter was not at home.

Shawna Forde

The three people involved have a history of using anti-immigrant sentiments as an excuse to act violently against Latinos. The group that they belong to, Minutemen American Defense, and other groups like it, such as the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps, Minutemen Project, and ALIPAC are dangerous vigilante groups who believe they have the right to take the law into their own hands. Read more

Holocaust Museum Shooting Implies Deeper Domestic Terror Threat

June 11, 2009 by Jill Garvey · Comment
Filed under: American Identity, Crime, News 

Yesterday’s shooting was pre-meditated and foreseeable. Everything about the shooting at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington was intentional. Even James Von Brunn’s age, 88, may have been meant to send a message. 88 is a number revered by Hitler-worshipers. The letter ‘H’ is the eighth letter in the alphabet. 88 is code for “HH”, or in neo-Nazi speak “Heil Hitler”.

Considering Von Brunn’s background, this number probably held special significance for him. A twisted sort of golden birthday perhaps or an inside nod to the white nationalist movement he was active in for several years.

Von Brunn’s attack is another in a series of major planned or executed attacks by individuals involved with white nationalist groups since Obama’s presidential win became reality last Fall. Read more

Holocaust Museum Shooting: The Rising Tide of Racism and Anti-Semitism

June 10, 2009 by Rev. David L. Ostendorf · 1 Comment
Filed under: Crime, News 

James Von Brunn

James W. Von Brunn is a cold-blooded anti-Semite and white supremacist, and nothing less than a domestic terrorist. His assault on people in the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. today is yet another incident in the rising tide of deadly attacks across the nation by those who hate peoples of color, Jews, immigrants, and “others.”

For years Von Brunn has had deep roots in the nation’s white supremacist movement. His relationship to Willis Carto, the vile anti-Semite founder of the Liberty Lobby and The Spotlight newspaper is long-standing, as revealed in his rambling 2004 diatribe against Jews, the Federal Reserve, and African Americans (“Federal Reserve Caper and Precedents”). He is not—as some are attempting to describe him—simply an old man, mentally unstable, or suicidal. He is a hardcore racist and anti-Semite. Read more

Back to Basics on Abortion

June 6, 2009 by Jill Garvey · 2 Comments
Filed under: Crime, Health, News 

I am conflicted on abortion. It has always made me uncomfortable to reconcile cherishing the miracle of conception and preserving the lives of women. Late-term abortions, especially, make me very sad. When I put myself in the shoes of women who make that choice, I cannot fathom their circumstances. As a woman who has lived all my life with opportunity and support from those around me, I will never come close to understanding a woman in that position.

So I stopped trying to understand and started working to change a system that forces women to make such desperate choices. It is not my place to judge a woman whose shoes I will never have to walk in. The late Dr. Tiller was performing abortions for women who would have tried to abort themselves. Women who 60 years ago would have killed themselves in the process. Read more

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