Justice Department

Here Are the Police Practices the Justice Department Wants to Investigate in Ferguson

Attorney General Eric Holder is launching an investigation into the conduct and practices of the Ferguson, Mo., police department. | EPA

National Journal

The probe will examine the local police department’s use of deadly force and protocols for stops, searches, and arrests.

Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday that the Justice Department will open a civil-rights investigation of the Ferguson Police Department following weeks of protest in response to the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old.

The Justice Department will probe documented allegations of police misconduct, as well as an alleged history of racial discrimination, to determine whether Ferguson officers have violated federal civil-rights laws.

Holder met with officials and members of the community in Ferguson last month, when the St. Louis suburb was in the midst of protests for the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown.

“People consistently expressed concerns stemming from specific alleged incidents from general policing practices and from the lack of diversity on the Ferguson police force,” Holder said Thursday. “These anecdotal accounts underscore the history of mistrust of law enforcement in Ferguson that has received a good deal of attention.”

Holder said Ferguson Mayor James Knowles, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, and other city officials have pledged their cooperation in the investigation. The probe, he said, will “assess the police department’s use of force, deadly force. It will analyze stops, searches, and arrests. And it will examine the treatment of individuals detained at Ferguson’s city jail, in addition to other potentially discriminatory policing techniques and tactics that have been brought to light.”

Other police departments that were involved in handling the protests last month may not be immune from the Justice Department’s scrutiny, Holder said. “If at any point we find reason to expand our inquiry to include additional police forces in neighboring jurisdictions, we will not hesitate to do so.”

Holder also announced Thursday that the Justice Department will work with the St. Louis County Police Department in a “collaborative reform effort,” a comprehensive review of policies and training practices. The department was pulled off the scene in Ferguson just days after protests began, due to heavy-handed crowd-control tactics that included the use of tear gas and military-style equipment.

A separate Justice Department probe is looking into the events of Aug. 9 to determine whether Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Brown, violated Brown’s civil rights.

The Justice Department investigations will unfold parallel to an FBI civil-rights probe launched just days after Brown’s death. At the same time, a grand jury in St. Louis County is hearing the details of the case, but the jury will likely not decide whether to bring charges against Wilson until mid-October.

10 things you need to know today: September 4, 2014

President Obama chats with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the NATO summit. 

President Obama chats with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the NATO summit. (AP Images/Charles Dharapak)

The Week

The Justice Department investigates Ferguson police practices, NATO leaders meet with Ukraine’s president, and more

1. Justice Department inquiry will focus on Ferguson police practices
The Justice Department is expected to announce as early as Thursday that it is launching a civil rights investigation into the police department in Ferguson, Missouri, where a white officer shot and killed an unarmed black teen, Michael Brown, last month. Some witnesses said Brown had his hands up, but the officer said Brown rushed him. The killing set off weeks of unrest in Ferguson, a predominantly African-American suburb of St. Louis. The investigation will cover training, the use of force, and other practices. [Los Angeles Times]

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2. NATO opens a summit focusing on the Ukraine crisis
NATO leaders are starting a two-day summit in Wales on Thursday where they will mull bolstering their support for Ukraine in its battle against Russian-backed separatists. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was expected to meet with President Obama and several European leaders before the summit begins to repeat his call for arms and other support, and possibly rekindle his controversial bid to join NATO. Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled a peace plan Wednesday that essentially entrenches rebel gains. [Reuters, The Washington Post]

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3. Judge upholds Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage ban
A federal judge upheld Louisiana’s gay marriage ban on Wednesday, interrupting a courtroom winning streak for advocates of same-sex marriage. State officials named in the lawsuit said they were pleased with the ruling, but lawyers representing the seven same-sex couples who challenged the ban said they would appeal. Before Wednesday’s ruling, courts had ruled in favor of gay marriage more than 20 times since the Supreme Court struck down key parts of the Defense of Marriage Act last year. [New Orleans Times-Picayune]

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4. Democratic candidate quits Kansas Senate race
Democrat Chad Taylor dropped out of the election for U.S. Senate in Kansas on Wednesday, leaving his party with no candidate in the race. The unexpected move could improve Democrats’ goal of ousting incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, however, because it will let independent candidate Greg Orman to challenge Roberts head-on in November. Orman, whom Roberts’ campaign manager calls a “closet Democrat,” led Roberts 43 percent to 33 percent in a head-to-head race in an August poll by Public Policy Polling. [The Wichita Eagle]

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5. Al Qaeda launches a jihadi offshoot in India
Al Qaeda has launched a new branch in India, the terror group’s chief, Ayman al-Zawahiri, said in a video posted online Wednesday. He said the new offshoot, Qaedat al Jihad, would fight to return Islam “to the Indian subcontinent, which was part of the Muslim world before it was invaded.” India put four heavily Muslim states mentioned in the 55-minute video on alert. The push comes as al Qaeda faces increasing competition for recruits and funding with the rise of the rival extremist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. [The Associated Press]

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6. Tesla reportedly has chosen Nevada for its battery “Gigafactory”
Electric-carmaker Tesla Motors is expected to announce Thursday that it has chosen to build a massive new battery in Nevada following a five-state competition. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said in the past that the winning state would have to provide $400 million in tax incentives. The so-called Gigafactory will make batteries for the next generation of Tesla vehicles, but it will be big enough to supply other companies, too. Tesla and partner Panasonic plan to spend up to $5 billion on the facility. [USA Today]

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7. Bloomberg returns to his old job at the company
Michael Bloomberg is returning to run the company he founded, Bloomberg LP, eight months after stepping down as New York City’s mayor. The financial data and media firm announced that Bloomberg, who is still the majority shareholder, would replace CEO Dan Doctoroff at the end of the year. Doctoroff, one of Bloomberg’s former deputy mayors, became CEO in July 2011. The move was unexpected because the 72-year-old billionaire had said he would concentrate on philanthropy after leaving politics. [New York Daily News]

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8. Sotloff’s family breaks its silence on his murder
The family of slain journalist Steven Sotloff said through a spokesman Wednesday that he was no “war junkie,” just a man who “wanted to give voice to those who had none.” The spokesman, Barak Barfi, said at the Florida news conference that Sotloff’s killers could not “hold us hostage with the one weapon they possess: fear.” Then, speaking in Arabic, he challenged the leader of the group that beheaded Sotloff — the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria — to debate the tenets of Islam. [ABC News]

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9. Andrew Madoff, son of convicted swindler, dies
Andrew Madoff, who was the last surviving son of imprisoned swindler Bernard Madoff, died Wednesday at a New York City hospital where he was being treated for cancer. He was 48. Andrew and his older brother Mark — who hung himself two years after his father’s arrest — were the ones who alerted federal agents that their father had confessed to them that his investment business was actually a gigantic Ponzi scheme. Andrew, who worked for his father, called the swindle a “father-son betrayal of biblical proportions.” [The New York Times, The Washington Post]

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10. Perez and Wallace join The View
The View has picked actress and activist Rosie Perez and political commentator Nicole Wallace as the final two hosts for the coming season, which debuts Sept. 15. The pair will join Rosie O’Donnell and Whoopi Goldberg, the only host returning after a house-cleaning at the ABC talk show. Perez said she was “beyond thrilled, honored, and completely surprised.” Wallace, who served as communications chief during George W. Bush’s presidency, called the news “both humbling and incredibly exciting.” [USA Today]

These 7 GOP Governors Are Refusing to Crack Down on Prison Rape. Now the Obama Administration Is Calling Them Out

Андрей Бортников/Shutterstock

 

Mother Jones

Seven states, all led by Republican governors, are defying a federal law aimed at cracking down on the nationwide epidemic of prison rape—and on Wednesday, the Obama administration started calling them out.

The law in question, the Prison Rape Elimination Act, was passed by a Republican Congress and signed by President George W. Bush in 2003. In 2012, after years of study by a bipartisan federal commission, President Barack Obama’s Justice Department finalized the law’s requirements, and gave states about two years to start trying to comply. Forty-three states did. But today, nearly two weeks after the May 15 deadline, Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, and Florida are still not complying with the law—and several GOP governors say they’re ignoring the law on purpose.

So far, at least five Republican governors have notified the Justice Department that they aren’t going to try to meet the new prison-rape reduction rules. The mandatory standards, “work only to bind the states, and hinder the evolution of even better and safer practices,” Indiana Governor Mike Pence wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder on May 15. Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter​ missed the deadline, then wrote a letter to the administration complaining the law had “too much red tape.” And in a letter dated March 28, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a possible contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, called the law “counterproductive” and “unnecessarily cumbersome.” The prison rape rules “appear to have been created in a vacuum with little regard for input from those who daily operate state prisons and local jails,​” Perry wrote.

Otter, Pence, Perry, and the other GOP governors opposing the prison-rape reduction are a minority in their own party: More than 20 other Republican governors have embraced the new rules. And Perry is wrong: The rules, which have been under development for years, weren’t created without input from prison operators. The commission that studied the prison rape issue included Gus Puryear​ , who, at the time, was executive vice president for the Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest owner and operator of private detention facilities; James Aiken, who had more than 33 years in managing and assessing correctional facilities; and a federal judge first appointed by George W. Bush.

Under the law, prisons are required to maintain a “zero-tolerance policy” regarding sexual abuse, perform background checks on prospective staff, prevent juveniles from being housed with adult inmates, provide external and anonymous channels for prisoners to report sexual abuse, and provide physical and mental health care to victims. Facilities must be audited every three years, and states that don’t comply are subject to a 5 percent reduction in federal funds.

An estimated 4 percent of state and federal prison inmates and over 3 percent of jail inmates reported experiencing at least one sexual assault in the previous year, according to the Justice Department. “No one should be subjected to sexual abuse while in the custody of our justice system,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole ​said at a press conference on Wednesday. “It serves as a violation of fundamental rights, an attack on human dignity and runs contrary to everything we stand for as a nation…. Jurisdictions that do not comply with the standards… will be held accountable.”

10 things you need to know today: May 20, 2014

Wanted.

Wanted. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

The Week

The U.S. accuses Chinese officials of hacking, a judge throws out Oregon’s gay marriage ban, and more

1. Justice Department files hacking charges against five Chinese military officials
Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday announced that the Justice Department was charging five members of the Chinese military with cyberespionage for allegedly hacking American corporate computer systems to steal secrets and pass them on to Chinese competitors. Holder said the case represented “the first ever charges against a state actor for this type of hacking.” China said the accusations were “purely ungrounded and absurd.” [U.S. News & World Report]

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2. Judge throws out Oregon’s gay marriage ban
A federal judge ruled Monday that Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Michael McShane said the policy, defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, violated the Constitution’s guarantee that all Americans will be treated equally under the law. Within an hour of McShane’s ruling, 23 same-sex couples waiting inside the building hadobtained marriage licenses. [The Christian Science Monitor]

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3. U.S. considers evacuating embassy in Libya
The Pentagon is preparing to evacuate the U.S. embassy in Libya, as fierce fighting rages between forces loyal to renegade general Khalifa Haftar and Islamist militiamen. Washington is monitoring the situation in the capital city of Tripoli “minute by minute, hour by hour,” a defense official told CNN on Monday. The commander of the Libyan army’s special forces said Monday that he joined Haftar’s supporters, hampering government efforts to regain control. [CNNReuters]

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4. Abu Hamza convicted on terrorism charges
Radical Islamic cleric Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, also known as Abu Hamza, was convicted Monday on 11 terrorism charges. Mustafa, who preached incendiary sermons in the U.K., including one praising the Sept. 11 hijackers, was charged with helping set up the violent 1998 kidnappings of 16 American, British, and Australian tourists in Yemen, and trying to establish a terrorist training camp in Oregon, among other charges. He could face life in prison. [BBC NewsThe New York Times]

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5. Credit Suisse pleads guilty to helping clients avoid taxes
Swiss bank Credit Suisse pleaded guilty on Monday to criminal conspiracy for helping wealthy American clients evade income taxes for decades. The financial giant — the largest to plead guilty in such a case in 20 years — agreed to pay $2.6 billion in penalties. A dozen other Swiss banks are also under investigation. [USA Today]

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6. Thai military declares martial law
The Thai army imposed martial law on Tuesday to restore order after six months of anti-government protests and a court ruling removing embattled prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and several cabinet ministers. Army chief Prayuth Chan-Ocha called on rival political factions to resolve the political crisis. He said the move was not a coup, but that martial law would remain in effect until “peace and order” were restored. [BBC News]

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7. New Hampshire town official quits after calling Obama the “N” word
Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, police commissioner Robert Copeland, who provoked an outcry by publicly using a racial epithet to refer to President Obama, has resigned, Police Commission Chairman Joe Balboni said Monday. Copeland resigned in a curt email to Balboni. He has refused to apologize, saying he was “not phobic.” A hundred people attended a commission meeting last week, many demanding Copeland’s resignation. [New Hampshire Union Leader]

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8. Moscow orders Russian soldiers away from Ukraine border, again
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Tuesday ordered soldiers back to their bases after exercises near the Ukraine border. Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the same order Monday. World leaders were not impressed, saying Putin had promised to pull back before but had not done it. NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said removing Russian troops would be the first step toward deescalating Ukraine’s political crisis. [Reuters]

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9. The CIA promises not to disguise spy work as health programs
The Central Intelligence Agency has vowed never again to use an immunization project as cover for its operations, as it did three years ago in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, a White House spokesperson said Monday. The deans of 12 public health schools wrote to President Obama last year to protest the CIA’s bin Laden investigation in Pakistan, masked as a hepatitis vaccination campaign, saying it had a chilling effect on health programs. [The Washington Post]

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10. NBA formally charges Sterling with harming the league
The National Basketball Association on Monday formally charged longtime Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling with damaging the basketball league with racist remarks. NBA officials gave Sterling, 80, until May 27 to respond to the charge and set a June 3 hearing for the NBA Board of Governors, where the other 29 team owners could vote to remove him. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has already banned Sterling for life. [Reuters]

Fed’s Halt Return of Zimmerman’s Gun

ABC News

George Zimmerman can’t get back the gun he used to kill Trayvon Martin, but nothing is keeping him from purchasing another gun if he wants, Florida police said today.

Federal and local authorities said plans to return Zimmerman’s Kel Tec 9 pistol were put on hold after the Department of Justice announced a new investigation to determine whether Zimmerman violated 17-year-old Martin’s civil rights.

“The Department of Justice put a hold on all of the evidence in the case. The evidence will not be returned until such time as they release the hold,” said Sanford Police spokesman James McAuliffe.

McAuliffe, however, told ABC News that there is nothing legally preventing Zimmerman, who was acquitted in Martin’s murder on Saturday, from purchasing a new firearm.

“I do not believe that there is” any legal reason Zimmerman would not be able to purchase another gun, McAuliffe said.

Zimmerman was acquitted by a jury of six women who found he acted in self-defense when he shot the unarmed teenager in February 2012.

The verdict produced an outcry ranging from Martin’s parents to protests in cities across the country. Zimmerman, 29, immediately went into hiding following the verdict.

On Sunday, Zimmerman’s lawyer Mark O’Mara said Zimmerman was entitled to get the gun back and needed it “even more” than before his acquittal, given the controversy surrounding the case and frequent threats to his life.

“I think that he feels truly in his heart that if he did not have that weapon that night he might not be here…. [He] would have continued to get beat even though he was screaming for help,” O’Mara told ABC News in an exclusive interview last week.

Earlier this week, Attorney General Eric Holder called Martin’s death “unnecessary” and vowed to proceed with a federal case.

Zimmerman’s attorney was travelling and not available for comment on the decision to retain all evidence pending DOJ orders. Zimmerman’s brother, Robert, also declined to talk about the gun.

GOP Rep To Zimmerman Demonstrators: ‘Get Over It’

I’m certain this politician believes what he’s saying.  However, in my opinion he hasn’t a clue what tens of thousands of people across the nation are feeling.

Then again as a Tea Party member or sympathizer (see photo) he probably just doesn’t give a damn…

The Huffington Post.

Shortly following the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the Florida man who fatally shot unarmed teen Trayvon Martin in 2012, Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) offered his advice for listeners displeased with the jury’s verdict.

“Get over it,” the congressman said during a Tuesday appearance on WMAL’s “Mornings on the Mall” radio show.

Harris had joined the program to discuss the Affordable Care Act and impending votes in Congress, but the conversation shifted to Zimmerman, who was found not guilty in the 2012 shooting on Saturday.

When asked if he’d been following the heavily publicized courtroom drama, Harris denounced the media frenzy surrounding the case, expressing frustration that “with all the huge issues going on in the world, with unrest in the Middle East, [the public eye is] hung up on this one case where this one fellow was in fact found not guilty by a jury. That’s the way the American law system works,” he said. “Get over it.”

As the high profile case dominated the airwaves, many caught in its emotionally charged aftermath argued that merely “getting over it” is not an option.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, has urged citizens “on the side of truth and progress” to take part in nationwide demonstrations on Saturday in an effort to spur a federal investigation of Zimmerman.

“Trayvon had undeniable civil rights that are to be protected under the laws of this nation,” Sharpton said. “We must fight for those rights because he no longer can.”

During his WMAL appearance, however, Harris argued that intervention by the Department of Justice would be “purely political,” and would require lawmakers to “look at ways to rein in the Justice Department.”

“To consider going after a person who, under our system, has been found not guilty, is incredulous,” he said.

Why Are Homeowners Being Jailed for Demanding Wall Street Prosecutions?

That’s an excellent question…

Rolling Stone Magazine

Bankers go free while cops tase peaceful protesters and the Department of Justice targets journalists

A two-day long housing protest outside the Department of Justice this week has resulted in nearly 30 arrests and several instances of law enforcement unnecessarily using tasers on activists, according to eye-witnesses. The action – which was organized by a coalition of housing advocacy groups, including the Home Defenders League and Occupy Our Homes – called for Attorney General Eric Holder to begin prosecutions against the bankers who created the foreclosure crisis.

“Everyone here is fed up with Holder acknowledging big banks did really bad stuff but [saying] they’re too big to jail,” says Greg Basta, deputy director of New York Communities for Change, who helped organize the event. Holder has previously suggested that prosecuting large banks would be difficult because it could destabilize the economy. The attorney general recently tried to walk those comments back – but the conspicuous lack of criminal prosecutions of bankers tells another story, one thatRolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi has written about extensively.

Gangster Bankers: Too Big To Jail

Alexis Goldstein, a former Wall Street employee and current Occupy Wall Street activist who was also at the event on Monday, agrees. “I want Eric Holder to uphold the rule of law, regardless of how much power the criminal has,” says Goldstein. She says the lack of criminal prosecutions has created a “culture of immunity” that only gets further entrenched by the small settlements that banks now consider a cost of doing business. “There’s no risk,” she says, adding that the DOJ is effectively “incentivizing breaking the law.”

Around 400 homeowners and 100 supporters took part in Monday’s actions outside the DOJ, according to Basta. One of them was Vera Johnson, of Seattle. “I’ve been dealing with foreclosure issues for three years,” says Johnson, just minutes after being released from the jail where she was held for over 24 hours for participating in this peaceful protest. Bank of America recently granted Johnson a loan modification after the media picked up on a Change.org petition that she started to save her home; this reprieve turned out to be a time bomb, as her rates were set to return to their original levels after four years. It’s an all too common story, and Johnson went to Washington, D.C. to “join in solidarity” with others in similar situations.

Many of this week’s protesters have been black and Latino homeowners, who were hit particularly hard by the foreclosure crisis. Mildred Garrison-Obi – a black woman from Stone Mountain, Georgia – was evicted from her home in 2012, though with the help of Occupy Our Homes she was able to return to it after four months of facing homelessness. “It was devastating,” says Garrison-Obi, who was arrested today in a related action held outside of a law firm where Holder was once a partner. “But I’m not alone.”

Activists note with dismay that the government has been significantly harder on people who stage nonviolent demonstrations against Wall Street than it has on the crooked bankers responsible for the housing crisis. Goldstein and Basta both say they witnessed law enforcement using tasers on multiple protesters this week. Johnson says that several hours before her arrest, as she and others sat on planter boxes outside the DOJ, a Department of Homeland Security officer asked, “Do you want to get arrested?” and then, “Do you want to get tased?” Later, when she refused to unlock her arms with another protester after three warnings – hardly a violent act or a threat to public safety – she says she was tased from behind on her left arm. She turned around to see the same officer, who she recalls telling her, “That’s what you get.”

Carmen Pittman, an activist with Occupy Our Homes in Atlanta, suffered similar treatment at this week’s protests. In video footage of her arrest, Pittman appears to have her arms interlocked with another protester.

Continue reading here…

How Do You Steal a Dream? Supreme Court hears suit to kill Voting Rights Act

I’m inclined to believe that this Supreme Court (The Rehnquist/Roberts Court) does not want to tarnish it’s legacy further and thus, will reach a just decision on the issue…

Greg Palast

Jim Crow is alive and well — and he has mounted a new attack on the law Martin Luther King dreamed of: the Voting Rights Act.

Today, February 27, the Supreme Court will hear a suit brought by Shelby County, Alabama, which challenges the right of the Department of Justice to review changes in voting procedure. Example: Attempts to cut the number of early voting days, to expunge “illegal alien” voters without any evidence, refusing Spanish-language ballots, have been blocked by the Department of Justice and courts because they have stopped Black and Hispanic citizens casting ballots.

Sixteen states are subject to this “pre-clearance” law, every one with a history of Jim Crow rules such as “literacy” tests — Blacks had to recite the Constitution, Whites “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

Dixie moans it’s been picked on unfairly, but the “pre-clearance” states, chosen by an arithmetic formula, include all or parts of the “Confederate states” of California, Arizona, Alaska and New York.

All those above the Mason-Dixon line are on the civil-rights hot-water roster because of a history of hostility to Hispanic citizens. In 2006, for example, the Republican Secretary of State of California rejected 42% of voter registration forms because the names were “unusual” and difficult to type into records! The names, like Chávez and Muhammad, were only “unusual” for Republicans.

New York’s mayor Michael Bloomberg is happy to pre-clear his city’s changes with the Justice Department and has told that to the Court. But once again, as Dr. King said in his Dream speech, in Alabama, the “Governor has his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification” — to nullify the 15th Amendment’s right to vote and to interpose himself between federal law and the enforcement of this basic American right.

And the Southland? In 2000, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris purged tens of thousands of African-Americans from voter rolls, labeling them “felons” when their only crime was VWB: Voting While Black. All — every one — were innocent. And again, in 2012, Florida Governor Rick Scott targeted 180,000 voters, mostly Latinos, as illegal “alien” voters. The Governor, when challenged by the Justice Department, cut the “alien” list to 198 but in the end, could only produce evidence against one.
If it were not for Section 5, the pre-clearance law, the purges, gerrymandering and other racially bent trickery rampant in Florida, Arizona (with its profiling and harassment of Hispanic voters) and Alaska with its bias against Native Americans would be so much worse. Without review — and the threat of review — Americans would once again lose the rights that the Constitution promises, won with the blood of our Fathers.

At the same time, we cannot ignore the Jim Crow and José Crow tactics that create long lines of voters of color in Ohio and other states.

Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan signed massive expansions of the Voting Rights Act, tripling its reach. It is time to extend the law’s protections again — to Ohio, to Wisconsin, to everyone.

When every American is protected by the Voting Rights Act review of voting changes, then all of us may be secure that our votes will not be nullified by politicians abusing the voting system to seize office through tactics racist in effect, if not intent.

A half century ago this year, Dr. Martin Luther King shared his dream with America:

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’

“We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

King’s dream is the American Dream — which no Court should take away. It is a mighty stream which must touch all citizens in every state.

Without “pre-clearance,” the Voting Rights Act is an empty promise — with purged, blocked and intimidated voters having to protest after an election to the very officials elected by the vote thievery that put them in office.

If this Supreme Court removes “pre-clearance” Section 5 on the grounds that it does not apply to every state, then the solution is simple and just: apply pre-clearance to every state.  Every American deserves a review by Justice of laws which tell us who can vote — and who can’t.

As King admonished us, we must not be satisfied when we see Black folk, a half century after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, stand in line for six hours to vote whether in Miami or in Cleveland.

We petition the Court and Congress to let freedom ring.

Justice Dept. Ends Investigation Into Goldman Sachs Mortgage Abuses Without Pressing Charges

 

 

After four years of investigating Goldman Sachs’ blatant mortgage abuses, the crooks go free.

What the heck does this say to the next round of crooks coming out of Wall Street with their derivatives and toxic debris.

People go to jail for stealing a loaf of bread while others stay free after stealing from the entire global finance system and simply walk away unscathed.

This is one of the few things I don’t like about this administration.  Some people say they are beholden to the Banks for helping to get Obama elected in 2008.  I tend to believe that, but wonder why Obama is still in the tank with Goldman Sachs, et al.   Now, they refuse to endorse or support Obama’s bid for a second term…

Think Progress

After a year-long investigation into Goldman Sachs, the bank singled out by a Senate investigative committee for its abusive mortgage practices in the run-up to the financial crisis, the Justice Department announced Friday that it would not press charges against the bank. Goldman Sachs became of the face of widespread mortgage fraud and abuse that led to the subprime mortgage crisis when evidence that it had made trades described by its own bankers as “shitty deals” came to light during a Senate investigation in 2011.

The Department of Justice, however, concluded that it did not have enough evidence to meet the “burden of proof” required for charges, the Wall Street Journal reports:

“Based on the law and evidence as they exist at this time, there is not a viable basis to bring a criminal prosecution with respect to Goldman Sachs or its employees in regard to the allegations set forth in the report,” the statement read. [...]

In a statement Thursday, Goldman said: “We are pleased that this matter is behind us.”

DOJ’s investigation began after an April 2011 report from the Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations revealed that Goldman Sachs had pushed its clients to make trades on risky mortgage-backed securities and credit default swaps even as the bank was betting the same securities would lose value. Though Goldman Sachs was “doing God’s work,” according to chief executive Lloyd Blankfein, other bankers described pushing “shitty deals” on customers. In March of this year, a Goldman Sachs trader lambasted the bank’s “toxic and destructive” culture in a scathing resignation editorial in the New York Times; a former Goldman partner followed up the next week by admitting that the bank’s “commercial animals” had duped customers and peddled “junk” to its clients.

The Securities and Exchange Commission also declined to press charges related to the bank’s role in a $1.3 billion sale of mortgage-backed securities, a reversal from last month when it indicated that it would recommend criminal prosecution. In July, Goldman settled a civil suit with the SEC for $550 million, and it faced sanctions from the Federal Reserve in September.

DOJ reserved the right to re-open the case and press charges should new evidence emerges, but for now, the case seems the latest in a string of them in which the biggest purveyors of the toxic assets that led to the financial crisis walk away with minimal penalties and, in many cases, no penalty at all.

 

Eric Holder: Voter ID Laws Are ‘Poll Taxes’

Eric Holder Voter Id Poll Tax

Was there ever any doubt?

The Huffington Post

Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday he opposes a new photo ID requirement in Texas elections because it would be harmful to minority voters.

In remarks to the NAACP in Houston, the attorney general said the Justice Department “will not allow political pretexts to disenfranchise American citizens of their most precious right.”

Under the law passed in Texas, Holder said that “many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them – and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them.”

“We call those poll taxes,” Holder added spontaneously, drawing applause as he moved away from the original text of his speech with a reference to a fee used in some Southern states after slavery’s abolition to disenfranchise black people.

The 24th amendment to the constitution made that type of tax illegal.

Holder spoke a day after a trial started in federal court in Washington over the 2011 law passed by Texas’ GOP-dominated Legislature that requires voters to show photo identification when they get to the polls.

Under Texas’ law, Holder noted, a concealed handgun license would serve as acceptable ID to vote, but a student ID would not. He went on to say that while only 8 percent of white people do not have government-issued photo IDs, about 25 percent of black people lack such identification.

“I don’t know what will happen as this case moves forward, but I can assure you that the Justice Department’s efforts to uphold and enforce voting rights will remain aggressive,” the attorney general said.

Holder said the arc of American history has always moved toward expanding the electorate and that “we will simply not allow this era to be the beginning of the reversal of that historic progress.”

“I will not allow that to happen,” he added.

The attorney general spoke at the 103rd convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which is launching a battle against new state voter ID laws. NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous has likened the fight against conservative-backed voter ID laws passed in several states to “Selma and Montgomery times,” referring to historic Alabama civil rights confrontations of the mid-1960s.

Holder, the first black man named U.S. Attorney General, was received with resounding applause, a standing ovation and chants of “Holder, Holder, Holder” at the convention.

Those chants quickly changed to “stand your ground, stand your ground,” a reference to a Florida law that neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman is using to defend fatally shooting Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager he encountered while patrolling his community in February. Police did not initially arrest or charge Zimmerman, saying the “stand your ground” law allowed self-defense. He was later charged with second-degree murder.

Holder said the Justice Department under his leadership has taken unprecedented steps to study and prevent violence against youth and address the high homicide rate among young black men.

Finally, the attorney general noted with pride that the U.S. Supreme Court in two recent rulings regarding President Barack Obama’s health care law and immigration laws passed in Arizona, largely supported the federal government and the Department of Justice. However, he said, he remained concerned that Arizona law enforcement, under the portion of the law upheld by the court, would be able to check the immigration status of any person suspected of being in the United States illegally.

“No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like,” Holder said.