Congressional Veto Overrides Pres Reagan’s (R) Repeal of Civil Rights

03/19/2015

Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987

 The Civil Rights Restoration Act was a U.S. legislative act which specified that recipients of federal funds must comply with civil rights laws in all areas, not just in the particular program or activity that received federal funding. This Act, also known as the Grove City Bill, was first passed by the House in June 1984 (375-32) but failed to pass in either chamber after divisions occurred within the civil rights coalition over the issue of abortion. In January 1988, the Senate accepted an amendment by Senator John Danforth (R-MO) which added ‘abortion-neutral’ language to the Bill, a move that was opposed by the National Organization for Women but which resulted in passage of the bill in both houses.

Although President Ronald Reagan (R) vetoed the Bill, as he had promised to do, Congress overrode the President’s veto by 73-24 in the Senate and 292-133 in the House. This was the first veto of a civil rights act since Andrew Johnson vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1866. The passage of this bill thus overturned the Supreme Court‘s 1984 decision in Grove City v. Bell. It applies to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Restoration_Act_of_1987

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How the U.S. Became More Unequal: Minority Rights, Equality &  Ronald Reagan 

Published on Sep 6, 2013

Reagan opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson (D).

Reagan gave a States’ Rights speech at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the town where three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964, when running for president in 1980 (many politicians had spoken at that annual Fair, however).

Reagan was offended that some accused him of racism. In 1980 Reagan said the Voting Rights Act was “humiliating to the South”, although he later supported extending the Act. He opposed Fair Housing legislation in California (the Rumford Fair Housing Act), but in 1988 signed a law expanding the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Reagan was unsuccessful in trying to veto another civil rights bill in March of the same year. At first Reagan opposed the Martin Luther King holiday, and signed it only after an overwhelming veto-proof majority (338 to 90 in the House of Representatives and 78 to 22 in the Senate) voted in favor of it. Congress overrode Reagan’s veto of the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988. Reagan said the Restoration Act would impose too many regulations on churches, the private sector and state and local governments.

No civil rights legislation for LGBT individuals passed during Reagan’s tenure. On the 1980 campaign trail, he spoke of the gay civil rights movement:

“My criticism is that [the gay movement] isn’t just asking for civil rights; it’s asking for recognition and acceptance of an alternative lifestyle which I do not believe society can condone, nor can I.”

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Congressional override of a veto by President Ronald Reagan
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March 22, 1988
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On this date, by a vote of 292 to 133, the House of Representatives joined the Senate in overriding President Ronald Reagan’s veto of S. 557. Also known as the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987, the bill amended Title IX (Prohibition of Sex Discrimination) of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 1985 the Supreme Court rendered a decision in the sexual discrimination case, Grove City v. Bell, ruling federal anti-discrimination law can only be applied to federally funded programs. In response to the court decision, the new law broadened the scope of applicability to close up loop holes in civil rights laws. Before Congress passed S.557, President Reagan threatened to veto the legislation. Speaker of the House, Jim Wright (D) of Texas informed President Reagan that it would be, “ill-advised” to veto the legislation. Once the President signed the veto on March 16th, Wright stated that he “was confident that the Senate and House would move swiftly to override this unfortunate and short sighted veto.” The President, “may want to turn the clock back on Civil Rights, but the American people do not,” Wright said.
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The Facts Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987 

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On former House Speaker Jim Wright (D) on November 2013 was denied a voter ID card at a Texas Department of Public Safety office.
Speaker of the House Jim Wright (D) of Texas

Speaker of the House Jim Wright (D) of Texas

“President Reagan may want to turn the clock back on Civil Rights, but the American people do not”

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First Lady Michelle Obama Asia Travel

03/17/2015

 Around the world 62 million girls are not in school. Millions more are fighting to stay there. Let Girls Learn is a new effort by the United States Government, and led by USAID, to provide the public with meaningful ways to help all girls to get a quality education. In support of the effort, USAID also announced over $230 million for new programs to support education around the world.  Then, even if they can reach a school, they may not have the trained teachers, adequate materials, or support they need to learn to read, write, and do basic math. Recent events in Nigeria focused the world’s concern on their plight. It’s time to Let Girls Learn.

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First Lady Michelle Obama travels to Japan and Cambodia from March 18-22, 2015. She will be joined by Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet for the trip. While in Japan, the First Lady will highlight the importance both countries place on international girls education, and the plans to deepen our partnership on this issue through development programs and collaboration between the Peace Corps and Japan’s Overseas Cooperation Volunteers.  The First Lady will then travel to Cambodia, one of the first 11 countries to be included in the Let Girls Learn Peace Corps initiative in the program’s first year.  In Cambodia, Mrs. Obama and Peace Corps Director Hessler-Radelet will see up close how community-driven solutions are changing girls’ lives, a key component of the Let Girls Learn Peace Corps program. In both Japan and Cambodia, the First Lady will share her trip with students through daily online diary entries and a collaboration with PBS LearningMedia. PBS LearningMedia will offer opportunities for young people to connect to, and learn from, Mrs. Obama’s trip, and will provide resources for U.S. classrooms that explore the culture, geography and current events in Japan and Cambodia.

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March 16, 2015

Op-Ed by First Lady Michelle Obama: “Let’s Ensure That Every Girl Can Learn

First Lady Michelle Obama: Let’s Ensure That Every Girl Can Learn

This week I will travel to Tokyo to join Akie Abe, the wife of Japan’s prime minister, as the United States and Japan announce a new partnership to educate girls across the globe. As part of this effort, the U.S. government has launched an international initiative, called “Let Girls Learn,” to help girls in developing countries go to school and stay in school.

These new investments—along with previous investments by countries like the United Kingdom—reflect a growing global consensus that when 62 million girls world-wide are not in school, that is not only a tragic waste of human potential. It is also a serious public-health challenge, a drag on national economies and global prosperity, and a threat to the security of countries around the world, including our own.

The research is unequivocal: Girls who attend secondary school marry and have children later, and they have lower maternal and infant-mortality rates and lower rates of HIV/AIDS. Every additional year of education can increase a girl’s earning power by 10% to 20%; and sending more girls to school can boost an entire country’s economy. National-security experts have even noted that educating women can be a powerful tool to fight extremism, violence and instability.

The question today is no longer whether to invest in global girls’ education, but how, particularly when it comes to adolescent girls. As of 2012, every developing region in the world had achieved, or was close to achieving, gender parity in primary education. The gender gap persists in secondary education, however, because adolescence is often when girls are first subject to the cultural values and practices that define, and limit, the prospects of women in their societies.

We cannot address the issue of girls’ education unless we are also willing to confront the complex issues that keep so many girls out of school in the first place: from female genital cutting/mutilation, to early and forced marriage, to economic disincentives like unaffordable school fees and the loss of girls’ household labor.

Safety is a perfect example. Many parents in the developing world are afraid that their daughters will be sexually assaulted while walking to or from school. This is an understandable concern to which any parent can relate. But in many communities, parents aren’t just worried about terrible physical and emotional harm to their daughters, they are also worried about the harm to her marriage prospects—that she’ll be considered “damaged goods” and have no one to provide for her in adulthood.

For more: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/03/16/op-ed-first-lady-michelle-obama-lets-ensure-every-girl-can-learn

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Let Girls Learn - No Exceptions

FLOTUS in Cambodia

Let Girls Learn - Q&A

Michelle Phan, YouTube star and advocate for girls’ empowerment, will sit down with the First Lady in Tokyo and ask her your questions. Ask now with the hastag #LetGirlsLearnQA on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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First Lady Michelle Obama Travel Itinerary

March 18-19, 2015 – Tokyo, Japan

First Lady Michelle Obama meets with Mrs. Akie Abe, the Spouse of the Prime Minister of Japan
Prime Minister’s Residence, Tokyo, Japan

First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks on the importance both countries place on international girls education
Iikura Guest House, Tokyo, Japan

First Lady Michelle Obama and Mrs. Akie Abe meet with Japanese university students and share stories from their own educational backgrounds
Iikura Guest House,  Tokyo, Japan

First Lady Michelle Obama meets with the Emperor and Empress of Japan
Tokyo, Japan
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March 20, 2015 – Kyoto, Japan

First Lady Michelle Obama visits the Kiyomizu-Dera Buddhist Temple
Kyoto, Japan

First Lady Michelle Obama visits the Fushimi Inari Shinto Shrine
Kyoto, Japan

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March 21-22, 2015 – Siem Reap, Cambodia

First Lady Michelle Obama meets with Mrs. Bun Rany, the First Lady of Cambodia
Siem Reap, Cambodia

First Lady Michelle Obama and Peace Corps Director Hessler-Radelet see up close how community-driven solutions – which are key components of the Let Girls Learn Peace Corps program – are changing girls’ lives
Siem Reap, Cambodia

First Lady Michelle Obama and Mrs. Bun Rany, the First Lady of Cambodia, meet with high school students
Siem Reap, Cambodia

First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks on the importance both countries place on international girls education
Siem Reap, Cambodia

First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks to Peace Corps Volunteers
Siem Reap, Cambodia

First Lady Michelle Obama hosts a roundtable with Peace Corps Volunteers, local community leaders, and civil society members
Siem Reap, Cambodia

#LetGirlsLearn

#FLOTUSinCambodia

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Consumer Bill of Rights

03/12/2015

jfk 1962 consumer bill of rights speech

On March 15, 1962, President John F. Kennedy (D) presented a speech to the United States Congress in which he extolled four basic consumer rights, later called the Consumer Bill of Rights. The United Nations through the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection expanded these into eight rights, and thereafter Consumers International adopted these rights as a charter and started recognizing March 15 as World Consumer Rights Day.

Background
Before the mid-twentieth century, consumers had limited rights with regard to their interaction with products and commercial producers. Consumers had limited ground on which to defend themselves against faulty or defective products, or against misleading or deceptive advertising methods.

The consumer movement began to gather a following, pushing for increased rights and legal protection against malicious business practices. By the end of the 1950s, legal product liability had been established in which an aggrieved party need only prove injury by use of a product, rather than bearing the burden of proof of corporate negligence.

Helen Ewing Nelson was a drafter of the Consumer Bill of Rights and sought an outlet for distributing it. During Kennedy’s election campaign he made a promise to support consumers. After his election, Fred Dutton, a colleague of Nelson’s and a government officer who advised the president, asked for Nelson’s suggestions on how the president could support consumers, and she sent him the Consumer Bill of Rights. Kennedy presented those rights in a speech to Congress on March 15, 1962. In that speech he named four basic rights of consumers.

Four basic rights

The right to safety

The assertion of this right is aimed at the defense of consumers against injuries caused by products other than automobile vehicles, and implies that products should cause no harm to their users if such use is executed as prescribed. The right was further formalized in 1972 by the US federal government through the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This organization has jurisdiction over thousands of commercial products, and powers that allow it to establish performance standards and require product testing and warning labels.

The right to be informed

This right states that businesses should always provide consumers with enough appropriate information to make intelligent and informed product choices. Product information provided by a business should always be complete and truthful. Aiming to achieve protection against misleading information in the areas of financing, advertising, labeling, and packaging, the right to be informed is protected by several pieces of legislation passed between 1960 and 1980.

Some of the legislation which was made because of the assertion of this right include the following:

The right to choose

The right to free choice among product offerings states that consumers should have a variety of options provided by different companies from which to choose. The federal government has taken many steps to ensure the availability of a healthy environment open to competition through legislation including limits on concept ownership through patent law, prevention of monopolistic business practices through anti-trust legislation, and the outlaw of price cutting and gouging.

The right to be heard

This right has the ability of consumers to voice complaints and concerns about a product in order to have the issue handled efficiently and responsively. While no federal agency is tasked with the specific duty of providing a forum for this interaction between consumer and producer, certain outlets exist to aid consumers if difficulty occurs in communication with an aggrieving party. State and federal attorney generals are equipped to aid their constituents in dealing with parties who have provided a product or service in a manner unsatisfactory to the consumer in violation of an applicable law. Also, the Better Business Bureau is a national non-governmental organization whose sole agenda is to provide political lobbies and action on behalf of aggrieved consumers.

For more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumer_Bill_of_Rights

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President Obama’s Consumer Rights Actions

May 22, 2009 Credit Card Bill of Rights
President Obama signs the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009, marking a turning point for American consumers and ending the days of unfair rate hikes and hidden fees.

Mar 23, 2010 Patient’s Bill of Rights aka ObamaCare
President Obama signed  The Affordable Care Act into law. Six months later, critical consumer protections – a “Patient’s Bill of Rights” – take effect. The Patient’s Bill of Rights puts an end to some of the worst insurance abuses and puts consumers, not insurance companies, in control of their health care.

July 21, 2011 The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for consumer protection in the financial sector is established. Its jurisdiction includes banks, credit unions, securities firms, payday lenders, mortgage-servicing operations, foreclosure relief services, debt collectors, other financial companies operating in the United States.

Feb 23, 2012 Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights
President Obama presented a framework for protecting privacy and promoting innovation in the glogal digital economy

Mar 10, 2015 Presidential Memorandum — Student Aid Bill of Rights: Taking Action to Ensure Strong Consumer Protections for Student Loan Borrowers
President Obama proposed a new Student Aid Bill of Rights that outlines a series of new actions that direct the Department of Education, Department of Treasury, Office of Management and Budget, Office of Science and Technology Policy and Domestic Policy Council, working with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Social Security Administration, to make paying for higher education an easier and fairer experience for millions of Americans.

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Ferguson Steps Toward Amendment

03/11/2015
Riot police stand guard as demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 13, 2014. Police in Ferguson fired several rounds of tear gas to disperse protesters late on Wednesday, on the fourth night of demonstrations over the fatal shooting last weekend of an unarmed black teenager Brown, 18, by a police officer on Saturday after what police said was a struggle with a gun in a police car. A witness in the case told local media that Brown had raised his arms to police to show that he was unarmed before being killed. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Riot police stand guard as demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 13, 2014. Police in Ferguson fired several rounds of tear gas to disperse protesters late on Wednesday, on the fourth night of demonstrations over the fatal shooting last weekend of an unarmed black teenager Brown, 18, by a police officer on Saturday after what police said was a struggle with a gun in a police car. A witness in the case told local media that Brown had raised his arms to police to show that he was unarmed before being killed. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Ferguson Police Department (Missouri)

Controversies

2009 Henry Davis incident

In September 2009, officers mistakenly arrested Henry Davis based on an outstanding warrant for another man with the same name. While in custody, Davis was beaten by four officers. Davis was charged with “property damage” for bleeding on the officers’ uniforms.[12] Davis was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Davis later pled guilty to two reduced charges and filed a lawsuit against the officers and the department. The lawsuit was dismissed.[13]

Hiring issue

Between July 2009 and December 2010, the department hired a police officer who had previously been fired from the Saint Louis Police Department after being accused of assaulting two minors, one a 12-year-old girl, with his service weapon. The officer was acquitted of the charges in 2010.[14] A state commission found the man had committed “a criminal act”.

2011 death of Jason Moore

In September 2011, a Ferguson police officer used a TASER device on Jason Moore, a man who had a mental illness. After Moore ran down the street yelling and pounding on cars, the officer used the TASER device on him. When Moore tried to get up from the ground, the officer used the TASER twice more and Moore then stopped breathing. He died of a heart attack. His family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Ferguson Police Department for the death of Mr. Moore.

2014 shooting of Michael Brown and unrest

On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, who was not armed, however had just attacked a local store owner and Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, was fatally shot by Officer Wilson while on duty.

Peaceful protests and civil disorder broke out the day following Brown’s shooting and lasted for several days. As the details of the original shooting event emerged from investigators, police grappled with establishing curfews and maintaining order, inciting further unrest amongst the Ferguson community. Members of the Ferguson community demonstrated in various ways in the vicinity of the original shooting. The protests began the day after the shooting. On August 10, a day of memorials began peacefully, but some crowd members became unruly after an evening candlelight vigil. Local police stations assembled approximately 150 militarized officers in riot gear.

Chief of Police Tom Jackson drew criticism for his department’s release of information about Brown’s death, which was described by the Associated Press as “infrequent” and “erratic”, as well as for the aggressive response of his police department to the unrest at Ferguson in the days immediately after the shooting.

Jackson said that his top priority in Ferguson was race relations and committed to reach across the racial, economic, and generational divides in the community to find solutions, and said he welcomes the Justice Departmenttraining on racial relations between police and the residents, in which two-thirds of the residents are black and all but three of the police force’s fifty-three officers are white.

Six weeks after the incident, a press relations firm released a video in which Jackson apologized to Brown’s family for taking too long to remove Brown’s body from the street, and to the peaceful protesters who felt they couldn’t exercise their constitutional rights, saying that “For any mistakes I’ve made, I take full responsibility”. He also said that he was truly sorry for the loss of their son. An attorney for Brown’s family responded that the apology came at a time in which trust in Jackson “has reached an irreversible low”.

On October 24Amnesty International published a report declaring human rights abuses by Ferguson police. The report cited the use of lethal force in Brown’s death, racial discrimination and excessive use of police force, imposition of restrictions on the rights to protest, intimidation of protesters, the use of tear gas, rubber bullets, and long range acoustic devices, restrictions imposed on the media covering the protests, and lack of accountability for law enforcement policing protests.

A grand jury declined to indict Wilson which led to further protests, some of which were violent. This incident and the aftermath resulted in world-wide criticism of police tactics and highlighted racism in the United States.

Justice Department investigation and report

On September 2014, the Justice Department initiated a civil rights investigation to examine concerns about the department’s practices, as well as reviewing its internal investigations of use of force during the preceding four years.  Jackson said he welcomed the investigation. The DOJ investigation concluded that police officers in Ferguson routinely violated the constitutional rights of the city’s residents, by applying racial stereotypes and discriminating against African-Americans. Internal city e-mails indicated that town officials view the department as a revenue source.

An article in The Washington Post, highlighted key insights gleaned from the report, which they describe as “scathing”, including:

  • The city’s practices were shaped by revenue rather than by public safety needs.
  • A singled missed, late or partial payment of a fine could mean jail time.
  • Arrest warrants were “almost exclusively” used as threats to push for payments.
  • The 67% of African Americans in Ferguson account for 93% of arrests made from 2012-2014.
  • The disproportionate number of arrests, tickets and use of force stemmed from “unlawful bias,” rather than black people committing more crime.
  • Officers used canines in law enforcement, and in every dog bite incident reported, the person bitten was black.
  • From October 2012 to October 2014, every time a person was arrested because he or she was “resisting arrest,” that person was black.

The Los Angeles Times published a pieced addressing a municipal code called “Manner of walking along roadway” described in the report. This code is designed to require pedestrians to walk on the sidewalks or on the side of the road, but according to the report, Ferguson police used the code to harass blacks, with African Americans accounting for 95% of manner of walking along roadway charges from 2011 to 2013. The town imposes the highest fines in the region for violations of “manner of walking.”

VOX summarized key findings in the report, including police and municipal officials sending racist emails, police arresting black residents when they were trying to care for loved ones who were hurt, officers abusing their power and disregarding the law as part of the department’s culture while supervisors supported them, and that race had everything to do with who was stopped by police, and against whom they used force.

For more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferguson_Police_Department_(Missouri)#Controversies

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After The Shooting of Michael Brown

 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Attorney General Holder Delivers Update on Investigations in Ferguson, Missouri
Washington, DC, United States

Good afternoon.

I would like to take the next few moments to address the two investigations that the Justice Department has been conducting in Ferguson, Missouri, these last several months. The matter that we are here to discuss is significant not only because of the conclusions the Department of Justice is announcing today, but also because of the broader conversations and the initiatives that those conversations have inspired across the country on the local and national level. Those initiatives have included extensive and vital efforts to examine the causes of misunderstanding and mistrust between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve; to support and strengthen our public safety institutions as a whole; and to rebuild confidence wherever it has eroded.

Nearly seven months have passed since the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. That tragic incident provoked widespread demonstrations and stirred strong emotions from those in the Ferguson area and around our nation. It also prompted a federal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, with the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Missouri and the FBI seeking to determine whether this shooting violated federal civil rights law.

The promise I made when I went to Ferguson and at the time that we launched our investigation was not that we would arrive at a particular outcome, but rather that we would pursue the facts, wherever they led. Our investigation has been both fair and rigorous from the start. It has proceeded independently of the local investigation that concluded in November. And it has been thorough: as part of a wide-ranging examination of the evidence, federal investigators interviewed and re-interviewed eyewitnesses and other individuals claiming to have relevant information and independently canvassed more than 300 residences to locate and interview additional witnesses.

This morning, the Justice Department announced the conclusion of our investigation and released a comprehensive, 87-page report documenting our findings and conclusions that the facts do not support the filing of criminal charges against Officer Darren Wilson in this case.  Michael Brown’s death, though a tragedy, did not involve prosecutable conduct on the part of Officer Wilson.

This conclusion represents the sound, considered, and independent judgment of the expert career prosecutors within the Department of Justice.  I have been personally briefed on multiple occasions about these findings.  I concur with the investigative team’s judgment and the determination about our inability to meet the required federal standard.

This outcome is supported by the facts we have found – but I also know these findings may not be consistent with some people’s expectations.  To all those who have closely followed this case, and who have engaged in the important national dialogue it has inspired, I urge you to read this report in full.

 I recognize that the findings in our report may leave some to wonder how the department’s findings can differ so sharply from some of the initial, widely reported accounts of what transpired.  I want to emphasize that the strength and integrity of America’s justice system has always rested on its ability to deliver impartial results in precisely these types of difficult circumstances – adhering strictly to the facts and the law, regardless of assumptions.  Yet it remains not only valid – but essential – to question how such a strong alternative version of events was able to take hold so swiftly, and be accepted so readily.

A possible explanation for this discrepancy was uncovered during the course of our second federal investigation, conducted by the Civil Rights Division to determine whether Ferguson Police officials have engaged in a widespread pattern or practice of violations of the U.S. Constitution or federal law.

As detailed in our searing report – also released by the Justice Department today – this investigation found a community that was deeply polarized; a community where deep distrust and hostility often characterized interactions between police and area residents.

A community where local authorities consistently approached law enforcement not as a means for protecting public safety, but as a way to generate revenue.  A community where both policing and municipal court practices were found to disproportionately harm African American residents.  A community where this harm frequently appears to stem, at least in part, from racial bias – both implicit and explicit.  And a community where all of these conditions, unlawful practices, and constitutional violations have not only severely undermined the public trust, eroded police legitimacy, and made local residents less safe – but created an intensely charged atmosphere where people feel under assault and under siege by those charged to serve and protect them.  

Of course, violence is never justified.  But seen in this context – amid a highly toxic environment, defined by mistrust and resentment, stoked by years of bad feelings, and spurred by illegal and misguided practices – it is not difficult to imagine how a single tragic incident set off the city of Ferguson like a powder keg.  In a sense, members of the community may not have been responding only to a single isolated confrontation, but also to a pervasive, corrosive, and deeply unfortunate lack of trust – attributable to numerous constitutional violations by their law enforcement officials including First Amendment abuses, unreasonable searches and seizures, and excessive and dangerous use of force; exacerbated by severely disproportionate use of these tactics against African Americans; and driven by overriding pressure from the city to use law enforcement not as a public service, but as a tool for raising revenue.

According to our investigation, this emphasis on revenue generation through policing has fostered unconstitutional practices – or practices that contribute to constitutional violations – at nearly every level of Ferguson’s law enforcement system.  Ferguson police officers issued nearly 50 percent more citations in the last year than they did in 2010 – an increase that has not been driven, or even accompanied, by a rise in crime.

As a result of this excessive reliance on ticketing, today, the city generates a significant amount of revenue from the enforcement of code provisions.  Along with taxes and other revenue streams, in 2010, the city collected over $1.3 million in fines and fees collected by the court.  For fiscal year 2015, Ferguson’s city budget anticipates fine revenues to exceed $3 million – more than double the total from just five years prior.  Our review of the evidence, and our conversations with police officers, have shown that significant pressure is brought to bear on law enforcement personnel to deliver on these revenue increases.  Once the system is primed for maximizing revenue – starting with fines and fine enforcement – the city relies on the police force to serve, essentially, as a collection agency for the municipal court rather than a law enforcement entity focused primarily on maintaining and promoting public safety.  And a wide variety of tactics, including disciplinary measures, are used to ensure certain levels of ticketing by individual officers, regardless of public safety needs.

As a result, it has become commonplace in Ferguson for officers to charge multiple violations for the same conduct.  Three or four charges for a single stop is considered fairly routine.  Some officers even compete to see who can issue the largest number of citations during a single stop – a total that, in at least one instance, rose as high as 14.  And we’ve observed that even minor code violations can sometimes result in multiple arrests, jail time and payments that exceed the cost of the original ticket many times over.

For more: http://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-holder-delivers-update-investigations-ferguson-missouri

UPDATE:  Ferguson police chief will resign Wednesday, sources say

 3/11/15  15 minutes ago Carey Gillam; Additional reporting by Lisa Lambert – Reuters
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 KANSAS CITY (Reuters) – The police chief of Ferguson, Missouri, will resign on Wednesday, following a scathing U.S. Justice Departmentreport that found widespread abuses in the city’s policing and courts, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

Chief Thomas Jackson would be the latest in a string of departures since the findings of the Justice Department probe were announced on March 4.

Protesters have called for his removal since the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager last summer, which led to the Justice Department report that found widespread racially biased practices in his department.

The death of Michael Brown, 18, set off a national furor over police use of deathly force that has continued to reverberate. During weeks of protests over Brown’s death, Jackson’s department floundered in attempts to calm things down, and state and county law enforcement took over the situation.

Jackson would follow Ferguson City Manager John Shaw, who resigned on Tuesday, and Municipal Judge Ronald Brockmeyer, who quit on Monday. Last week, three police departmentemployees were fired for offensive emails cited in the Justice Department report.

Thomas Jackson, has commanded the police department since he was appointed by the city manager in 2010. The department has a total of 54 sworn officers divided among several divisions.

Attorney General Eric Holder said last week the Justice Department would use its full authority to reform the police department, including possibly dismantling it.

The Justice Department report detailed numerous incidents of routine harassment of African-American residents.

For more: http://news.yahoo.com/ferguson-police-chief-resign-later-wednesday-fox-news-183807227.html

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2 officers shot at protest outside Ferguson police station

3/12/15 23 minutes ago AP

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Two officers were shot in front of the Ferguson Police Department early Thursday, authorities said, as demonstrators gathered after the city’s police chief resigned in the wake of a scathing Justice Department report alleging bias in the police department and court.

A 32-year-old officer from nearby Webster Groves was shot in the face and a 41-year-old officer from St. Louis County was shot in the shoulder, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said at a news conference. Both were taken to a hospital, where Belmar said they were conscious. He said he did not have further details about their conditions but described their injuries as “serious.”

For mre: http://news.yahoo.com/st-louis-post-dispatch-2-officers-shot-ferguson-055552082.html

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Thursday, March 12, 2015
Attorney General Holder Statement on the Overnight Shooting of Two Officers in Ferguson, Missouri

Attorney General Eric Holder released the following statement Thursday on the overnight shooting of two officers in Ferguson, Missouri:

“This heinous assault on two brave law enforcement officers was inexcusable and repugnant.  I condemn violence against any public safety officials in the strongest terms, and the Department of Justice will never accept any threats or violence directed at those who serve and protect our communities—from this cowardly action, to the killing of an officer in Philadelphia last week while he was buying a game for his son, to the tragic loss of a Deputy U.S. Marshal in the line of duty in Louisiana earlier this week.  Such senseless acts of violence threaten the very reforms that nonviolent protesters in Ferguson and around the country have been working towards for the past several months.  We wish these injured officers a full and speedy recovery.  We stand ready to offer any possible aid to an investigation into this incident, including the department’s full range of investigative resources.  And we will continue to stand unequivocally against all acts of violence against cops whenever and wherever they occur.”

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Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

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GOP Senate Record of 122+ Days Delay of US AG Nomination Loretta Lynch

03/10/2015


Loretta Lynch nomination lingers for no reason

3/06/15 09:27AM By Steve Benen – maddowblog

Loretta Lynch was nominated to serve as U.S. Attorney General 118 days ago. Over the last several decades, no A.G. nominee has had to wait this long for a confirmation vote. And yet, here we are, still wondering why the Senate’s Republican leadership still won’t allow members to vote up or down on Lynch’s nomination.

It’s tough to defend, and just as important, it’s evidence of a Senate that’s failing as some rudimentary tasks.

Specifically on Lynch, the Democratic minority yesterday made clear how absurd it is that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won’t bring her nomination to the floor.

Senate Democrats on Thursday intensified their push for a vote on the confirmation of Loretta E. Lynch as attorney general, arguing that her nomination should not be held up because Republicans are angry with President Obama over executive action on immigration.

“The delay is wrong and it is irresponsible,” Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said during a conference call with reporters. “She should be judged on her merits and not used as a pawn in a proxy fight over the president’s immigration policies.”

It’s tough to disagree. Lynch sailed through her confirmation hearings; she’s already received the Judiciary Committee’s bipartisan backing; and by all appearances, she has the votes needed to clear the Senate and get to work.

And yet, McConnell waits. When Defense Secretary Ashton Carter was advanced at the committee level, his nomination was on the Senate floor two days later, and he was confirmed easily. Lynch was nominated before Carter, she cleared committee last week, and yet the whole process is being slow-walked for reasons the GOP has struggled to explain.

For more: http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/loretta-lynch-nomination-lingers-no-reason

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Leahy Again Urges Senate Vote For AG Nominee Loretta Lynch

March 4, 2015

WASHINGTON (Wednesday, March 4, 2015) – Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) took to the floor on Wednesday for a second time this week to call for a confirmation vote for Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch.

Lynch’s nomination was reported on a bipartisan vote by the Judiciary Committee last week.  Her nomination has been pending longer than those of the five previous Attorneys General.  Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday, Leahy highlighted Lynch’s record as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York which he said “shows that as Attorney General, Ms. Lynch will effectively, fairly, and independently enforce the law.”

Leahy also highlighted Lynch’s compelling personal story and the example set by her father, the Reverend Lorenzo Lynch, a Baptist preacher who in the 1960s opened his church’s basement to the civil rights leaders and students who organized lunch counter sit-ins in North Carolina.

Reverend Lynch “taught his only daughter that ‘ideals are wonderful things, but unless you can share them with others and make this world a better place, they’re just words.’  The fact that she has dedicated the majority of her career to public service reaffirms that she has lived those ideals of justice in the service of others,” Leahy said.

“All Senators should examine Loretta Lynch’s nomination based on her record, her accomplishments, and her extraordinary character,” he added.  “I call on the Republican Leader to schedule an immediate vote on Loretta Lynch’s confirmation, which has been pending 116 days.  Let us not deprive the American people of even one more day of having Loretta Lynch as their Attorney General.”    

For more: http://www.leahy.senate.gov/press/leahy-again-urges-senate-vote-for-ag-nominee-loretta-lynch

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Selma to Montgomery March – 50th Anniversary

03/05/2015

http://www.bcjubilee.org

The three Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 were part of the Selma Voting Rights Movement and led to the passage that year of the Voting Rights Act, a landmark federal achievement of the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement. Activists publicized the three protest marches to walk the 54-mile highway from Selma to the Alabama state capital of Montgomery as showing the desire of black American citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote, in defiance of segregationist repression.

A voters registration campaign in Selma had been launched in 1963 by local African Americans, who formed the Dallas County Voters League (DCVL). Joined by organizers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), they began working that year in a renewed effort to register black voters. Most of the millions of African Americans across the South had effectively been disenfranchised since the turn of the century by a series of discriminatory requirements and practices. Finding resistance by white officials to be intractable, even after passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ending segregation, the DCVL invited Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the activists of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to join them. SCLC brought many prominent civil rights and civic leaders to Selma in January 1965. Local and regional protests began, with 3,000 persons arrested by the end of February.

On February 26, activist and deacon Jimmie Lee Jackson died after being mortally shot several days earlier by a state trooper during a peaceful march in Marion, Alabama. The community was sorrowed and outraged. To defuse and refocus the anger, SCLC Director of Direct Action James Bevel, who was directing SCLC’s Selma Voting Rights Movement, called for a march of dramatic length, from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery.Bevel had been working on his Alabama Project for voting rights since late 1963.

The first march took place on March 7, 1965. Bevel, Amelia Boynton, and others helped organize it. The march gained the nickname “Bloody Sunday” after its 600 marchers were attacked at the Edmund Pettus Bridge after leaving Selma; state troopers and county posse attacked the unarmed marchers with billy clubs and tear gas. Boynton was one of those beaten unconscious; a picture of her lying wounded on the bridge was published and televised around the world. The second march took place March 9; troopers, police, and marchers confronted each other, but when the troopers stepped aside to let them pass, King led the marchers back to the church. He was seeking protection by a federal court for the march. That night, a white group beat and murdered civil rights activist James Reeb, a Unitarian Universalist minister from Boston, who had come to Selma to march in the second march, which had been joined by many other clergy and sympathizers from across the country.

The violence of “Bloody Sunday” and of Reeb’s death led to a national outcry and some acts of civil disobedience, targeting both the Alabama state and federal governments. The protesters demanded protection for the Selma marchers and a new federal voting rights law to enable African Americans to register and vote without harassment. President Lyndon Johnson, whose administration had been working on a voting rights law, held a televised joint session of Congress on March 15 to ask for the bill’s introduction and passage.

With Governor Wallace refusing to protect the marchers, President Johnson committed to do so. The third march started March 21. Protected by 2,000 soldiers of the U.S. Army, 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard under Federal command, and many FBI agents and Federal Marshals, the marchers averaged 10 miles (16 km) a day along U.S. Route 80, known in Alabama as the “Jefferson Davis Highway“. The marchers arrived in Montgomery on March 24 and at the Alabama State Capitol on March 25. With thousands having joined the campaign, 25,000 people entered the capital city that day in support of voting rights.

For more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selma_to_Montgomery_marches

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50th Anniversary “Bloody Sunday”, The Selma-to-Montgomery March 

March 5 – March 9 Event Schedule 

SELMA TO MONTGOMERY: 50 YEARS LATER

“Bloody Sunday”, The Selma-to-Montgomery March Fact Sheet

Selma To Montgomery Voting Rights Trail, a U.S. National Historic Trail

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Alabama police chief apologizes to Freedom Rider congressman

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3/4/13 By Craig Giammona, NBC News

An Alabama police chief brought Rep. John Lewis to tears Saturday, apologizing to the noted civil rights leader for failing to protect the Freedom Riders during a trip to Montgomery in 1961.

Lewis and fellow civil rights activists were beaten by a mob after arriving at Montgomery’s Greyhound station in May 1961. [The march was tried again but the marchers were again brutualized. The third time was successful with the protection of the US Army].

On Saturday at ceremony at First Baptist Church, the city’s current police chief, Kevin Murphy, apologized to Lewis and offered him his badge in a gesture of reconciliation, telling the longtime Georgia congressman that Montgomery police had “enforced unjust laws” in failing to protect the Freedom Riders more than five decades ago.

Lewis, who was arrested during civil rights protests in cities across the south, said it was the first time a police chief had apologized to him.

“It means a great deal,” Lewis said. “I teared up. I tried to keep from crying.”

Lewis and other members of Congress were taking part in the 13th Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage to Alabama, a three-day event that also included trips to Selma, Tuscaloosa and Birmingham.

Murphy said the decision to apologize was easy.

“For me, freedom and the right to live in peace is a cornerstone of our society and that was something that Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and Congressman Lewis were trying to achieve” Murphy said. “I think what I did today should have been done a longtime ago. It needed to be done. It needed to be spoken because we have to live with the truth and it is the truth.”

For more: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/03/17167907-alabama-police-chief-apologizes-to-freedom-rider-congressman?lite

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Leonard Pitts Jr.: What was won in Selma 50 years ago being lost today

3/03/2015 6:14 PM Leonard Pitts Jr – Miami Herald

First, they sang God Will Take Care of You.

Then they walked out of Brown Chapel to a playground where they organized themselves into 24 groups of 25 each and set out marching. Their route out of Selma took them onto Highway 80, which is carried over the Alabama River by a bridge named in honor of Confederate general and Alabama Ku Klux Klan leader Edmund W. Pettus.

It was about 2:30 on the afternoon of Sunday, March 7, 1965.

At the foot of the bridge, the marchers were met by Alabama state troopers. Some were on horseback. Major John Cloud spoke to the marchers through a bullhorn. “It would be detrimental to your safety to continue this march,” he said. “And I’m saying that this is an unlawful assembly. You are to disperse. You are ordered to disperse. Go home or go to your church. This march will not continue. Is that clear to you?”

He gave them two minutes to comply. Just over one minute later, he ordered troopers to advance.

They moved toward the marchers, truncheons held waist high, parallel to the ground. But something seemed to overtake them as they pushed into the demonstrators. The troopers began to stampede, sweeping over unarmed women, children and men as a wave does a shore.

Teargas filled the air. Lawmen on horseback swept down on fleeing marchers, wielding batons, cattle prods, rubber hoses studded with spikes. Skin was split. Bones were broken. The marchers were beaten all the way back into town. A teenager was hurled through a church window. On the bridge, the cheers and rebel yells of onlookers mingled with the shrieks of the sufferers and became indistinguishable.

Thus was the pavement of the freest country on Earth stained with the blood of citizens seeking their right to vote.

By rights, this 50th anniversary of those events should be an unalloyed celebration. After all, the marchers, fortified by men and women of good will from all over the country, eventually crossed that bridge under federal protection, marched for four days up Highway 80 and made it to, as the song says, glory. They stood at the state capital in Montgomery and heard Martin Luther King exhort them to hold on and be strong. “Truth crushed to Earth,” he thundered, “will rise again!”

The Voting Rights Act was signed into law. And African Americans, who had been excluded from the ballot box for generations, went on to help elevate scores of citizens who looked like them to the mayor’s office, the governor’s mansion, the White House.

So yes, this should be a time of celebration. But the celebration is shadowed by a sobering reality.

In 2013, the Voting Rights Act was castrated by the Supreme Court under the dubious reasoning that its success proved it was no longer needed. And states, responding to a nonexistent surge of election fraud, have rushed to impose onerous new photo ID laws for voters. When it is observed that the laws will have their heaviest impact on young people, poor people and African Americans — those least likely to have photo ID — defenders of the laws point to that imaginary surge of fraud and assure us voter suppression is the furthest thing from their minds.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/leonard-pitts-jr/article12306056.html

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US Minorities Civil Rights Timeline 1863-1963 (ProPresObama.org Civil Rights Timelines ™)

US Minorities Civil Rights Timeline 1964-2009 (ProPresObama.org Civil Rights Timelines ™)

The First Family along with others cross the E. Pettus Bridge

The First Family along with others cross the E. Pettus Bridge

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March 7, 2015
President Obama delivers remarks to commemorate the
50th Anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’ Selma to Montgomery Marches
Selma, Alabama

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#Selma50thJubilee


2015 International Women of Courage

03/03/2015

Intl Women of Courage Awards

Established in 2007, the annual Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award honors women around the globe who have exemplified exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for human rights, women’s equality, and social progress, often at great personal risk. This is the only Department of State award that pays tribute to emerging women leaders worldwide.

First Lady Michelle Obama and The State Department honor a group of extraordinary women with the International Women of Courage Award on March 5, 2015. The award recognizes women around the world who have shown exceptional leadership in advocating for women’s rights and empowerment, often at great personal risk.

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2015 International Women of Courage Awardees

Captain Niloofar Rahmani, Afghan Air Force (Afghanistan)

Ms. Nadia Sharmeen, journalist, women’s rights activist (Bangladesh)

Ms. Rosa Julieta Montaño Salvatierra, Founder and Director, Oficina Jurídica para la Mujer (Bolivia)

Ms. May Sabe Phyu, Director, Gender Equality Network (Burma)

Ms. Béatrice Epaye, President, Fondation Voix du Coeur (Central African Republic)

Ms. Marie Claire Tchecola, nurse, Ebola survivor and activist (Guinea)

Ms. Sayaka Osakabe, Founder and Representative, Matahara Net (Japan)

Ms. Arbana Xharra, Editor-in-Chief, Zeri (Kosovo)

Ms. Tabassum Adnan, Founder, Khwendo Jirga (Pakistan)

Ms. Majd Chourbaji, External Relations Director, Women Now for Development Centers (Syria)

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March 05, 2015
Prepared Remarks of First Lady Michelle Obama for International Women of Courage Award
Note: Due to inclement weather, the International Women of Courage event has been cancelled.

 

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March 5, 2015 – 1:00 PM ET Canceled due to inclement weather
2015 International Women of Courage Award 
Presented by U.S. State Department Deputy Secretary Higginbottom
Dean Acheson Auditorium, U.S. Department of State

#womenofcourage

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US Women’s Rights Movement Timeline 1848 – 2009 

PBO_Womens_Quote_lrg

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WH Council on Women and Girls
* Blog
White House Support
Resources
Data & Fact Sheets

For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/cwg
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