NEWS of the Week
on some issues of interest to the community policing and neighborhood activist across the country
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles from local newspapers and other sources constitutes but a small percentage of the information available to the community policing and neighborhood activist public. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view ...
We present this simply as a convenience to our readership ...
NOTE: To see full stories either click on the Daily links or on the URL provided below each article.
July 21, 2013
First Unsolved Homicide Summit held in Monterey Park
Though it cannot undo the damage done by a murder, the arrest and conviction of a killer can bring a family some answers and a sense of justice. But the thousands of Los Angeles County families of homicide victims whose slayings remain unsolved are left to deal with unanswered questions and the knowledge that their family member's killer is at-large.
To provide information and support to those families still waiting on justice for their slain loved ones, Los Angeles County sheriff's officials partnered with other law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and victim advocacy groups Saturday to host their first-ever Unsolved Homicide Summit at the Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau in Monterey Park.
"We are here out of a sense of love for you," Sheriff' Lee Baca told the dozens of families assembled at the meeting. Some had cases which had been solved, but many were still waiting for the day they will learn their family member's killer has been captured.
"How you feel matters," he said. "How you suffer matters."
3 bodies found in northeast Ohio city
EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio (AP) — Three bodies have been found wrapped in plastic bags in a Cleveland suburb and police will continue a search for possibly more victims Sunday, East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton said.
The bodies were found about 100 to 200 yards apart and a 35-year-old man was arrested and is a suspect in all three deaths, although he has not yet been charged, Norton said late Saturday.
The suspect is a registered sex offender and has served prison time, the mayor said. In police interviews, the man led them to believe he might have been influenced by convicted serial killer Anthony Sowell, Norton said in an interview with The Associated Press.
"He said some things that led us to believe that in some way, shape, or form, Sowell might be an influence," the mayor said.
Sowell was found guilty in 2011 of killing 11 women and hiding their remains around his Cleveland home. He was sentenced to death and is in an Ohio prison.
Community policing curbs crime in West Side neighborhood
Crime is down in the community near West End Park, Police Chief William McManus said Saturday during West End Hope in Action Beautification Day, noting that most crimes from murder to burglary have seen a drop.
The Police Department statistics apply to an area bordered by West Martin Street, Culebra Road, Northwest 24th Street and North Colorado Street and compare crimes recorded between Jan. 1 and June 30 in 2012 and 2013.
“Our crime overall is down significantly,” McManus said at the event. “We should be very, very proud of ourselves. ... We are an example for other neighborhoods in the city.”
McManus said the emphasis on public safety in the neighborhood started about a year ago, when the co-chairman of West End Hope in Action, Carlos Gonzalez, invited him to walk through the neighborhood and discuss problem areas involving crime. The group was started to combat prostitution and drug-dealing in the area and to help residents access health care, Gonzalez said.
South Bend police reaching out
Program aims to build trust, community relations
SOUTH BEND -- It's another day in the city as officers from the South Bend Police Department HUD Patrols begin their normal routine patrolling the streets. But on this summer day, Officer Derek Dieter is working a very different beat.
Having traded his regular uniform for one that includes a white shirt with black shorts, he stands at his cruiser now dubbed the “policemobile” as children from a west-side neighborhood stand around him looking in the car and picking out books.
“Can I please have another book report sheet?” asked Marcus Northern, 8. “I finished my book, and now I want to write my report for you.”
According to Dieter, what he's doing is not exactly revolutionary. For years, police departments have been trying with varying success to reach out to residents with community policing, trying to get acquainted with people in the neighborhood.
'Safest place' designation questioned by alderwoman
Frederick's officials should be cautious when touting how safe the city is, Alderwoman Karen Young said at a workshop last week.
She commented on a recent article in The Frederick News-Post about how the Frederick-Gaithersburg-Bethesda area moved from fifth to first place on the list of secure places to live among metropolitan areas with a population of 500,000 or more, according to Farmers Insurance Group.
Particularly serious crimes, also called part one crimes, increased in the city by 8.7 percent from 2011 to 2012, Young pointed out.
“I'm concerned about communicating a certain sense of performance when, in fact, we have some challenges as well as some potential staffing issues,” Young said.
The city has one of the highest volumes of calls per officer in the region, Young said.
July 20, 2013
Obama says Trayvon Martin 'could have been me' years ago
WASHINGTON (AP) - In a rare and public reflection on race, President Barack Obama called on the nation Friday to do some soul searching over the death of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his shooter, saying the slain black teenager "could have been me 35 years ago." Empathizing with the pain of many black Americans, Obama said the case conjured up a hard history of racial injustice "that doesn't go away."
Obama's personal comments, in a surprise appearance in the White House press room, marked his most extensive discussion of race as president. For Obama, who has written about his own struggles with racial identity but often has shied away from the subject in office, the speech signaled an unusual embrace of his standing as the nation's first black president and the longing of many African-Americans for him to give voice to their experiences.
"When you think about why, in the African- American community at least, there's a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it's important to recognize that the African- American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn't go away," Obama said during his 20-minute remarks.
A Florida jury last week acquitted George Zimmerman of all charges in the February 2012 shooting of Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old. The verdict was cheered by those who agreed that Zimmerman was acting in self-defense, while others protested the outcome, believing Zimmerman had targeted Martin because he was black.
L.A. County sheriff making progress on jail reforms
The Sheriff's Department has implemented almost two-thirds of the reforms sought by a blue ribbon commission to stamp out excessive use of force in its jails but says millions of additional dollars are needed to implement the rest, according to an independent monitor.
Richard Drooyan said the department has implemented 37 of 60 recommendations made by the Citizens' Commission on Jail Violence 10 months ago, including hiring an assistant sheriff to manage the jails, drafting new policies governing the use of force, and rotating staff more frequently to prevent deputies from forming "cliques" or what the ACLU calls "savage gangs."
"The remaining recommendations that do not require funding should be completed by the end of the year, if not sooner," he added in a report to be formally submitted Tuesday to the county Board of Supervisors.
Although 15 of the remaining 23 recommendations require additional funding to be fully realized, department spokesman Steve Whitmore said Sheriff Lee Baca is satisfied with the pace of reforms.
Secret court renews NSA phone surveillance
WASHINGTON — A secret court on Friday extended the National Security Agency's authority to collect and store the phone records of tens of millions of American cellphone customers, the top U.S. intelligence official confirmed.
The decision by the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court amounted to a routine renewal of the legal framework for one of the government's most sensitive and controversial data-collection programs. But it was the first time U.S. officials have publicly acknowledged the step.
The existence of the top-secret collection effort was one of the key revelations in a series of leaks last month by Edward Snowden, the former NSA technical contractor who exposed new details of the spy agency's surveillance programs.
Snowden provided newspapers with documents describing the NSA's systematic efforts to collect "metadata" from cellphone records, including phone numbers and information about the time and length of phone calls. Among the documents was an April court order by a FISA judge ordering a Verizon subsidiary to provide the NSA with data on all telephone calls by its customers.
Elderly men held for years in 'dungeon' at Houston home
Four men, apparently invalids, were being held for years while residents of the house stole their Social Security or veterans checks.
Police answering a 911 call at a home in North Houston Friday discovered four elderly men being held in a "dungeon" garage for as long as 10 years while residents allegedly confiscated their Social Security or veterans checks, according to local media reports.
KTRK-TV quoted police as saying at least one of the four -- ages 79, 54, 74 and about 65 --had been held against his will for 10 years.
Three men found Friday morning were unable to walk and were taken to a Houston hospital, KTRK reports. They appeared to be suffering from malnutrition.
"One of them seemed to think he was picked up off the street and brought here," said Police Sgt. JW McCoy, according to KTRK, the local ABC affiliate. "In exchange for beer and cigarettes and a place to stay, he had to turn over his Social Security check."
DNA match links confessed Boston Strangler to last slaying in the spree
A DNA match has been made from the remains of Albert DeSalvo, the confessed Boston Strangler, to crime scene evidence from a 1964 slaying that was part of the Strangler's murder spree, authorities announced today. The discovery sheds new light on the dark, decades-old mystery of a killer who preyed on women in Boston in the 1960s.
DeSalvo admitted to 11 murders that transfixed and terrified the city. But he was never convicted of them. And his confessions to murdering the women from 1962 to 1964 had long been questioned because of inconsistencies in his story.
DeSalvo's remains were unearthed from a Peabody cemetery last week in an effort to help resolve the lingering doubts. Investigators were looking to see if DNA from his body matched evidence collected in the slaying of Mary Sullivan on Beacon Hill, who was apparently the Strangler's last victim. The test results were finalized this morning.
“I hope this brings some measure of finality to Mary Sullivan's family,” Attorney General Martha Coakley said in a joint statement with the Suffolk district attorney and Boston police. “This leaves no doubt that Albert DeSalvo was responsible for the brutal murder of Mary Sullivan, and most likely that he was responsible for the horrific murders of the other women he confessed to killing.”
TSA to expand speedier screening — for a fee
The Transportation Security Administration plans to dramatically expand its program to get travelers through airport checkpoints faster by inviting them to pay a nominal fee for voluntary background checks.
TSA's Pre-check program offers travelers separate lines at checkpoints, where they leave on shoes and light coats and keep laptops in their bags. The free program operates at 40 airports and now covers members of frequent-flier programs for Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, United, US Airways and Virgin America airlines. Airlines invite frequent-fliers to apply with little more than the information provided when buying a ticket.
But TSA Administrator John Pistole announced Friday the agency will expand eligibility for the program to include travelers who pay a one-time fee of $85 for five years, to cover an application with identifying information such as address and birthplace, a background check and fingerprinting.
Enrollment centers are initially scheduled to open in the fall at Washington's Dulles and Indianapolis airports, but the program is expected to expand at numerous locations nationwide.
Columbus Police Form Community Policing Unit
The Columbus Police Department has formed a pro-active community policing unit called C.O.P.P.S., which stands for Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving. The new unit begins work tomorrow.
Police Chief Jason Maddix says Officers Troy Love, John Searle and Toby Combest will be assigned to the unit and will work a variety of assignments such as saturation patrols, parades, community events and neighborhood meetings. Their primary purpose will be to suppress criminal activity and further the department's community policing efforts.
"The demand for this unit came from our citizens. We now have the resources to focus squarely on drug dealers and other criminals who may be embedded in our neighborhoods," Maddix said. "The C.O.P.P.S. unit will be a direct extension of our narcotics team, detective division and public relations office. I have high expectations for these officers, who were selected based upon their commitment to community policing, work ethic and high activity levels. We already have a long list of assignments for these officers, so they will be busy."
The recent hiring and training of several new Columbus police officers has providing the staffing level to form this unit. The Columbus Police Department anticipates being at full staff - 79 sworn officers - by November.
Policing the 'flash mobs'
A Hollywood rampage is a reminder that police need sufficient resources to keep pace with technologies and social movements that can undermine public safety.
As crime in Los Angeles has dropped from the frightening levels of the 1990s to the astonishingly low rates of the last decade, pressure from residents and leaders to spend more money on law enforcement has turned into pressure to instead spend less, especially when so many other city services have been cut to accommodate shrinking budgets. But a well-trained police department with enough officers and expertise to respond rapidly to trouble isn't simply a previous era's priority. It is a perpetual need.
Tuesday night's rampage in Hollywood, which may have been incited and organized through social media, is a reminder that police need sufficient resources to keep pace with technologies and social movements that can undermine public safety, and to respond in force to more than a single spot within the city at any given time.
Police speculated that a group of teenagers communicating through Twitter targeted the entertainment and tourist district for an evening of lawlessness in part because they knew a large number of officers would be deployed elsewhere — in the Crenshaw district, where on previous nights peaceful protests against the acquittal in Florida of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin were interrupted by violence. As many as 40 or 50 teenagers converged on Hollywood, where they knocked down pedestrians and in some cases took their cellphones, watches and other items. No serious injuries were reported, but the episode was not merely an irritating romp by teenagers with too much time on their hands. There were robberies and assaults.
July 19, 2013
Have You Been Missing Your Senior Lead Officer Lately?
If so, you're not alone—and neither is your senior lead, who's been patrolling other neighborhoods more frequently.
In June, Highland Park Senior Lead Officers Mark Allen and Fernando Ochoa spent an average of three of their four workdays policing the neighborhood—and “if there's a sense that senior lead officers are being pulled away” from their primary responsibility, “the short answer is yes,” according to Los Angeles Police Department Northeast Division Capt. Jeff Bert.
Allen's and Ochoa's 25-percent absence from Highland Park isn't anything out of the ordinary, however, and is part of what the LAPD does every summer to cope with the absence of officers on vacation, while trying to meet the force's mandate to consistently have at least 85 percent of its officers on patrol duty.
“But that number increases because there's more crime in summer and more cops are needed on patrols,” Bert told Eagle Rock Patch in an interview Thursday.
But summer also happens to be the time when the number of officers on vacation hits an annual peak.
“At any one time in the year, no more than 11 percent of cops are on vacation—and we're at that 11-percent level right now,” Bert said. “When you couple that with the 85-percent patrol requirement, it becomes a challenge” for senior lead officers to focus exclusively on their communities.
Police photographer releases photos of Boston bombing suspect on night he was captured
Massachusetts State Trooper relieved of his duties, will face disciplinary hearing next week
BOSTON -- A police photographer, furious with a Rolling Stone cover photo he believes glamorizes the surviving Boston Marathon suspect, released gritty images Thursday from the day he was captured.
Photos released to Boston Magazine by Massachusetts State Police tactical photographer Sgt. Sean Murphy show a downcast, disheveled Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with the red dot of a sniper's rifle laser sight boring into his forehead.
The pictures were taken when Tsarnaev was captured April 19, bleeding and hiding in a dry-docked boat in a Watertown backyard.
Murphy said in a statement to Boston Magazine that Tsarnaev is evil and that his photos show the "real Boston bomber, not someone fluffed and buffed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine."
The April 15 bombing killed three people and injured more than 260. Massachusetts Institute of Technology officer Sean Collier was allegedly killed April 18 by Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, who died following a shootout with police later that evening.
Detroit: How the Motor City went bust
Kevyn Orr, the city's appointd emergency manager, formally sought federal bankruptcy court protection.
DETROIT — Detroit, the once-thriving Midwest metropolis that gave birth to the nation's auto industry, is now the largest city in U.S. history to file for bankruptcy.
Kevyn Orr, the city's appointd emergency manager, formally sought federal bankruptcy court protection on Thursday after Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, approved the filing, deeming the decision necessary "as a last resort to return this great city to financial and civic health for its residents and taxpayers."
"I know many will see this as a low point in the city's history," Snyder wrote in a letter authorizing the bankruptcy filing. "If so, I think it will also be the foundation of the city's future — a statement I cannot make in confidence absent giving the city a chance for a fresh start, without burdens of debt it cannot hope to fully pay."
In the letter, Snyder explained his decision by citing statistics that have hobbled the city's operations:
• The city's unemployment rate has nearly tripled since 2000 and is more than double the national average.
• The homicide rate is at historically high levels, and the city has been named among America's most dangerous for more than 20 years.
• Detroiters wait an average of 58 minutes for police to respond, compared with the national average of 11 minutes.
• An estimated 40% of the city's street lights didn't work in the first quarter of 2013.
• Roughly 78,000 city structures have been abandoned.
World Trade Center owners' bid to sue airlines for 9/11 attacks blocked
A Manhattan federal judge barred a multibillion-dollar lawsuit, citing state laws prohibiting ‘double recovery on the same loss.'
The owners of the World Trade Center were blocked Thursday from filing a multibillion-dollar lawsuit against the two airlines whose hijacked planes brought down the twin towers.
The ruling from Manhattan Federal Judge Alvin Hellerstein came after a four-day trial where the doomed skyscrapers' owners sought to sue for at least $3.5 billion in the 9/11 terrorist attack.
“If this case were to go forward, the WTC companies would not be able to recover anything against the airlines,” Hellerstein ruled in the non-jury trial.
Real estate developer Larry Silverstein and World Trade Center Properties have already collected nearly $5 billion toward reconstruction.
But they sought additional money from United Airlines Inc., American Airlines Inc. and the latter's parent company, AMR Corp., alleging their negligence let the terrorists board the flights.
World Trade Center 40th anniversary:
A look back at the iconic Twin Towers through the years
(Slideshow on site)
From the FBI
Homegrown Terrorism -- Self-Radicalized American Incited Violent Jihad Online
Those who have met Emerson Begolly in person might describe him as a shy young man. But online, the 24-year-old was the complete opposite—he forcefully incited jihadist violence against Americans and Jews. And when FBI agents attempted to talk to him in 2011, he reached for a loaded handgun in his pocket and then bit the agents who disarmed him.
Today, a federal judge sentenced Begolly to eight years and six months in prison for soliciting others to engage in acts of terrorism within the United States and for using a firearm in relation to an assault on FBI agents. Begolly pled guilty in August 2011 after being indicted less than a month earlier.
“This is a guy who definitely had the potential to hurt people,” said Special Agent Blake McGuire, who led part of the investigation from our Pittsburgh office. “He was a disaffected U.S. citizen who was susceptible to the message of violent extremism, and he became self-radicalized on the Internet. That type of offender—the so-called lone wolf—is extremely dangerous,” McGuire added, “because they can be difficult to discover before they resort to violence.”
Begolly came to the FBI's attention in 2010 when he began posting violent material on an Islamic extremist Internet forum. Using the pseudonym Abu Nancy, the Pennsylvania resident and occasional college student solicited fellow jihadists to use firearms and explosives against American police stations, post offices, Jewish schools and daycare centers, military facilities, train lines, and water plants. He further urged his audience to “write their legacy in blood” and promised a special place in the afterlife for violent action in the name of Allah.
July 18, 2013
Letter to the Editor
Police can not do it alone. Business, education, civic clubs, all across the community spectrum, It Takes A Village to Raise A Child. The most important element of a successful Community Policing Initiative is one citizen who knows the issues their community faces and stays alert to what is going on around them.
The power of the cellphone kicks in if anyone sees a child in distress or senior citizen all manner of community life improves if everyone would join a Community Policing Initiative in their community. Hartford, New Haven, the whole state mobilized to know the issues and stay alert in a pro-ctive prevention effort ready to make the 911 call if anyone is in danger.
Michael Cluney, Mansfield
Kid Protection Network
Getting Police Out of Immigration Enforcement
A new bill in Boston would limit local officers' cooperation with the federal Secure Communities program.
Should local police have to enforce immigration rules against undocumented people not implicated in criminal acts?
A drive is on in Massachusetts to free state and local law enforcement from having to cooperate with certain aspects of the federal Secure Communities program, which targets people for deportation.
According to an American Friends Service Committee tally of Department of Homeland Security data, 200 people have been deported since the federal government started up the program in Massachusetts last year, and 62 percent of them had no criminal histories.
A bill, Senate 1135/House 1613, filed at the request of Unitarian Universalist Mass Action and a coalition of community groups, would limit the responsibilities of police in the Bay State to targeting people who are 18 or over, have been sentenced to five years or more in prison, and have not been released by a state court.
The bill—called, like similar bills elsewhere, the Trust Act—also requires that when people are detained by police, they be given lawyers before being turned over to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) officials. And the costs of detention would have to be paid by the federal government.
Oak Park Police to Host Free Youth Basketball Camp
Largely successful within the community, camp serves 80 kids, in its 20th year.
Oak Park police officers may do a great job protecting and serving the residents of Oak Park, but some are taking that responsibility even a step further. Every year, a team of officers from the department's community policing division hosts a youth basketball camp—and it's free to any Oak Park child between the ages of eight and 14. This year marks the camp's 20th event.
“We started it as an initiative to connect with youth in Oak Park, and over the years it has really grown in popularity,” says Commander Ladon Reynolds of the department's community policing division. “Since we first launched the camp, it has more than doubled in size.”
The division created the camp as a way to connect to youth in Oak Park.
“Any opportunity to engage youth is an opportunity that should be taken,” Commander Reynolds says. “The camp gives the young people the opportunity to see officers outside the preconceived role that they play. The officers engage the kids as mentors and develop relationships. And it's reciprocal. It's positive for the kids, the officers and for the community as a whole.”
Police record license plates by the millions
WASHINGTON—You can drive, but you can't hide.
A rapidly growing network of police cameras is capturing, storing and sharing data on license plates, making it possible to stitch together people's movements whether they are stuck in a commute, making tracks to the beach or up to no good.
For the first time, the number of license tag captures has reached the millions, according to a study published Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union based on information from hundreds of law enforcement agencies. Departments keep the records for weeks or years, sometimes indefinitely, saying they can be crucial in tracking suspicious cars, aiding drug busts, finding abducted children and more.
Attached to police cars, bridges or buildings—and sometimes merely as an app on a police officer's smartphone—scanners capture images of passing or parked vehicles and pinpoint their locations, uploading that information into police databases.
July 17, 2013
Manchester Police Turn To Community To Help Curb Crime
All this summer, NHPR's newsroom will take a closer look at crime in Manchester and how it affects the city and its residents. We're calling the series Queen City Crime. Today, we begin with a look at Manchester's Police Department and how it balances small-city challenges with big-city problems. A renewed focus on community policing is helping the department solve some of its staffing issues.
On the morning before the Boston Marathon bombings, the Manchester Police Department's Chief David Mara swore in seven new officers. That got them to a new total 212 officers and the number is budgeted to rise to 221 by the end of the summer. But those new recruits aren't the only ones helping to tackle crime in the Queen City.
Diane Lavigne started the Rimmon Heights Watch Group on the west side in 2006. One of the city's largest groups, they meet once a month at the Chez Vachon restaurant after hours.
With a population of about one hundred ten thousand residents, rookie Officer Kevin Jusza, nicknamed “Captain” after his rank in the Army, sees problems of all sizes.
From the White House
Expanding National Service
In his 1989 Inaugural Address, when President George H.W. Bush uttered the words “a thousand points of light” he launched a movement. By signing the first National Service Act in 1990, President Bush ushered in the modern era of national service, setting the stage for the creation of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).
Likewise, President Obama long has believed that service builds stronger communities and can improve the lives of those who take part. In his first 100 days in office, he signed the bipartisan Serve America Act that set out a plan to increase AmeriCorps, our flagship national service program. Since that time, applications to AmeriCorps have reached an all-time high and more Americans are volunteering than at any previous point in the past five years.
The Administration has responded to this new demand by launching new programs such as FEMA Corps and School Turnaround AmeriCorps that create new pathways for people to serve. In these new “Corps,” young people are serving their country, while gaining valuable experience in fields such as emergency management or classroom instruction that can help to prepare them for the workforce.
WEEKLY ADDRESS: Strengthening our Economy by Passing Bipartisan Immigration Reform
WASHINGTON, DC— In this week's address, President Obama said that two weeks ago, a large bipartisan majority in the Senate voted to pass commonsense immigration reform, which would add a big boost to our economy, strengthen Social Security, and modernize our legal immigration system to make it more consistent with our values. The President urges Congress to quickly take action to fix our broken immigration system and keep America strong for years to come.
The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online at www.whitehouse.gov at 6:00 a.m. ET, July 13, 2013.
Remarks of President Barack Obama -- Weekly Address
The White House -- July 13, 2013
Hi, everybody. Two weeks ago, a large bipartisan majority of Senators voted to pass commonsense, comprehensive immigration reform – taking an important step towards fixing our broken immigration system once and for all.
From the Department of Justice
Justice Department Statement on the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Case
"As the Department first acknowledged last year, we have an open investigation into the death of Trayvon Martin. The Department of Justice's Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, the United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation continue to evaluate the evidence generated during the federal investigation, as well as the evidence and testimony from the state trial. Experienced federal prosecutors will determine whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation of any of the limited federal criminal civil rights statutes within our jurisdiction, and whether federal prosecution is appropriate in accordance with the Department's policy governing successive federal prosecution following a state trial.”
July 16, 2013
Zimmerman acquittal shows need to re-evaluate ‘stand your ground' laws
Here's the lesson from the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case: What is lawful is not necessarily just. The family and friends of Martin learned that bitter lesson Saturday night when George Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of the 17-year-old.
It is not necessary to argue with the jury's unanimous verdict. Enough legal experts have concluded that the state didn't prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and that requires acquittal.
Still, this is what happened. Martin, an African-American wearing a hoodie, was walking unarmed through a gated community. Zimmerman, a wannabe cop and neighborhood watch leader, was armed and steaming mad that Martin was on his turf. Police instructed him not to confront Martin, but he ignored them and did it anyway. When it was over, Martin was dead. That is somebody's fault, and how could it be that of the unarmed victim?
Whether the shooting was an accident, a product of rage or Zimmerman reacting to Martin's response to an aggressor, the armed man who chased down Martin is alive, the teenager is dead and, as a matter of law, Zimmerman is not responsible. Something is wrong. Even while legally innocent, Zimmerman is morally responsible for Martin's death.
Legal Immigrants Seek Reward for Years of Following the Rules
Angeles P. Barberena has always tried to follow the United States' immigration laws. She dutifully filed her petition to become a resident, complied with the requirements and paid her taxes and fees.
That was 17 years ago. Ms. Barberena, who is from Mexico, is still waiting. Her file is inching through a backlog, and she has several years to go before she will receive the green card that will make her a permanent resident.
As Congress debates an overhaul of the immigration system, Ms. Barberena often feels like yelling with frustration. “It's been so long and we did everything by the rule,” she said, speaking from her home near Nashville. “Now it seems everything is about illegal immigrants and nothing is about us.”
While stark differences between the Senate and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives have centered on border security and a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, another major issue is snagged in the dispute: the plight of more than 4.4 million aspiring legal immigrants like Ms. Barberena, who are languishing in backlogs in a broken system.
July 15, 2013
Zimmerman verdict protests heat up as Justice Department considers filing civil rights charges
NEW YORK - Thousands of demonstrators from across the country - chanting, praying and even fighting tears - protested a jury's decision to clear neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager while the Justice Department considered whether to file criminal civil rights charges.
Rallies on Sunday were largely peaceful as demonstrators voiced their support for 17-year-old Trayvon Martin's family and decried Zimmerman's not guilty verdict as a miscarriage of justice. Police in Los Angeles said they arrested several people early Monday after about 80 protesters gathered in Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard and an unlawful assembly was declared. The New York Police Department said it arrested at least a dozen people on disorderly conduct charges during a rally in Times Square.
The NAACP and protesters called for federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman, who was acquitted Saturday in Martin's February 2012 shooting death.
The Justice Department said it is looking into the case to determine whether federal prosecutors should file criminal civil rights charges now that Zimmerman has been acquitted in the state case. The department opened an investigation into Martin's death last year but stepped aside to allow the state prosecution to proceed.
The evidence generated during the federal probe is still being evaluated by the criminal section of the Justice Department's civil rights division, the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office for the Middle District of Florida, along with evidence and testimony from the state trial, the Justice Department said.
Journalist: Edward Snowden has 'blueprints' to NSA
RIO DE JANEIRO—Edward Snowden has highly sensitive documents on how the National Security Agency is structured and operates that could harm the U.S. government, but has insisted that they not be made public, a journalist close to the NSA leaker said.
Glenn Greenwald, a columnist with The Guardian newspaper who first reported on the intelligence leaks, told The Associated Press that disclosure of the information in the documents "would allow somebody who read them to know exactly how the NSA does what it does, which would in turn allow them to evade that surveillance or replicate it."
He said the "literally thousands of documents" taken by Snowden constitute "basically the instruction manual for how the NSA is built."
"In order to take documents with him that proved that what he was saying was true he had to take ones that included very sensitive, detailed blueprints of how the NSA does what they do," the journalist said Sunday in a Rio de Janeiro hotel room. He said the interview was taking place about four hours after his last interaction with Snowden.
Greenwald said he believes the disclosure of the information in the documents would not prove harmful to Americans or their national security, but that Snowden has insisted they not be made public.