MoJo Author Feeds: Jaeah Lee | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/rss/authors/90086 http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en The Feds Are Finally Investigating the San Francisco Police, But Here's the Catch http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/02/heres-why-justice-department-investigating-san-francisco-cops <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Nearly two months after San Francisco police officers <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/12/police-shot-and-killed-man-san-francisco-week-heres-what-you-should-know" target="_blank">shot and killed</a> a 26-year-old black man named Mario Woods, officials at the US Department of Justice have <a href="http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/Default.asp?Item=2842" target="_blank">announced</a> that they will launch a comprehensive review of the police department's policies and practices.</p> <p>The federal review will "help identify key areas for improvement" in the department's operational policies, training practices, and accountability procedures, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement released Monday.</p> <p>The announcement comes amid a public outcry over Woods's death last month, which sparked protests and prompted city officials to call for an independent investigation into the incident. On December 2, officers surrounded Woods on a sidewalk in the Bayview district neighborhood after identifying him as a possible suspect in a stabbing that took place earlier that day. The incident was recorded by several onlookers who uploaded cellphone footage to social media, attracting widespread attention.</p> <h3 class="subhed">Push for review</h3> <p>One video showed Woods standing with his back against a wall, facing at least six officers pointing their guns at him. They ordered him to drop a knife. When Woods did not comply, officers fired bean bag pellets and pepper-sprayed him. At one point, Woods appeared to walk away from the officers, and seconds later multiple shots rang out. A total of five officers opened fire, San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr later told reporters. Woods was pronounced dead at the scene. The officers who fired their guns were placed on leave after the shooting but have <a href="http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/matier-ross/article/S-F-cops-in-Mario-Woods-shooting-are-back-on-the-6769959.php" target="_blank">since returned</a> to desk duty. Woods' family and supporters have demanded the firing of Suhr, who formerly headed the Bayview police station. Family members, who say Woods had struggled with mental health issues, have <a href="http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2015/12/11/family-of-stabbing-suspect-killed-by-san-francisco-police-files-federal-lawsuit/" target="_blank">also filed</a> a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the city.</p> <p>Several members of San Francisco's board of supervisors, community leaders, and civil rights advocates <a href="http://www.sfexaminer.com/sf-board-of-supervisors-calls-for-federal-investigation-into-woods-shooting/" target="_blank">have called for</a> an independent investigation into Woods' death and the department's use-of-force policies. Suhr and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee also jointly requested the federal review, according to the DOJ statement, and "have publicly committed to providing the resources necessary for its successful completion."</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/630_IMG_6496.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Protesters march toward Super Bowl City in San Francisco on January 29, 2016. </strong>Jaeah Lee</div> </div> <p>The Justice Department's review into the SFPD, however, differs significantly from the "<a href="http://www.justice.gov/crt/special-litigation-section-cases-and-matters0#police" target="_blank">pattern and practice</a>" investigations into police departments such as those in Ferguson, Missouri, and Cleveland. Pattern-and-practice investigations, handled by the Civil Rights Division and meant to identify department-wide civil rights violations, typically result in court-ordered reforms that are monitored by a judge or a third party and sometimes last more than a decade. The SFPD review, led by the Office of Community Oriented Policing, will result in a report laying out recommended reforms as well as progress reports on their implementation. But those reviews tend to take place in a shorter time period, and the reforms are not legally binding.</p> <h3 class="subhed">Other cases</h3> <p>Woods's death&nbsp;is the latest in a <a href="https://www.aclunc.org/sites/default/files/A%20Department%20in%20Denial%20-%20The%20San%20Francisco%20Police%20Department%27s%20Failure%20to%20Address%20Racial%20Profiling.pdf" target="_blank">long line</a> of controversies involving the San Francisco police and their use of force against citizens, particularly those suffering from mental health issues, and communities of color.</p> <ul><li>More than 60 percent of all fatal police shootings by SFPD cops since 2010 involved people who had a history of mental health problems, <a href="http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/S-F-police-killing-of-mentally-ill-man-exposes-6797077.php?t=c3ef42d5a90a4808f6&amp;cmpid=twitter-premium" target="_blank">according</a> to the <em>San Francisco Chronicle</em><em>. </em></li> <li>Last February, 20-year-old Amilcar Perez-Lopez was <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/02/amilcar-perez-lopez-san-francisco-police-killing" target="_blank">shot to death</a> by two plainclothes SFPD officers in the Mission District neighborhood. Officials said he was carrying a knife.</li> <li>A month later, a judge <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/4-San-Francisco-cops-cleared-in-Alex-Nieto-killing-6079794.php" target="_blank">cleared</a> four other cops for their involvement in the March 2014 death of 28-year-old Alex Nieto, who allegedly pointed a Taser at police officers. District Attorney George Gascon said the officers, who fired a total of 59 shots, reasonably mistook the Taser for a pistol.</li> <li>The SFPD also came under heightened scrutiny last April, when Suhr moved to fire eight officers over their 2012 exchange of <a href="http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/SF-Police-Chief-Officers-Suspended-Racist-Text-Allegations-Officers-298598851.html" target="_blank">racist and homophobic</a> text messages. In December, a judge ruled the officers <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Judge-rules-in-favor-of-S-F-cops-who-wrote-6713191.php" target="_blank">could not be fired</a> or otherwise disciplined because the department had waited too long to address the case, allowing a one-year statute of limitations for any personnel investigations&mdash;set by the Peace Officer Bill of Rights&mdash;to lapse.</li> </ul><p>Some experts have already expressed concern that the DOJ's current review of the SFPD does not go far enough.</p> <p>"It doesn't have the teeth that the Civil Rights' Division investigation does," Aaron Zisser, a former attorney for the division, <a href="http://www.sfexaminer.com/doj-to-launch-toothless-review-of-sfpd/" target="_blank">told</a> the <em>San Francisco Examiner</em> on Monday. The current review, Zisser said, was a strong indicator that there will not be a broader civil rights investigation.</p></body></html> Politics Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Top Stories police Tue, 02 Feb 2016 01:30:05 +0000 Jaeah Lee 295476 at http://www.motherjones.com Cop Tells Drivers to Run Over Black Lives Matter Protesters http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/01/minnesota-cop-run-over-black-lives-matter-protesters <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>A St. Paul, Minnesota police officer has been placed on administrative leave after allegedly telling drivers to run over Black Lives Matter protesters who planned to block traffic as part of a march on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.</p> <p>Around 1 a.m. on Saturday, a Facebook user named "JM Roth" <a href="http://www.twincities.com/crime/ci_29400416/st-paul-cop-allegedly-urged-drivers-hit-black" target="_blank">posted</a> a comment on a <em>Pioneer Press</em> article about the scheduled protest that said: "Run them over. Keep traffic flowing and don't slow down for any of these idiots who try and block the street." The comment then suggested how drivers could legally justify hitting protesters with their cars:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/20160118__1-JMRoth_policeBLM.jpg"><div class="caption">Screenshot by Andrew Henderson, via St. Paul Pioneer Press</div> </div> <p>Andrew Henderson, a local activist who maintains the Minnesota Cop Block Facebook page, first noted and reported the comment, which has since been deleted, to the St. Paul Police Department. In phone conversations he recorded and <a href="http://www.twincities.com/crime/ci_29400416/st-paul-cop-allegedly-urged-drivers-hit-black" target="_blank">uploaded to YouTube</a>, Henderson told Saint Paul Police Department officials that the "JM Roth" account belonged to Sergeant Jeffrey M. Rothecker. Henderson said Rothecker had admitted in previous comments that he was "JM Roth."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/aX2x19Mnz68" width="640"></iframe></p> <p>St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Police Chief Thomas Smith have <a href="http://www.twincities.com/crime/ci_29400416/st-paul-cop-allegedly-urged-drivers-hit-black" target="_blank">denounced</a> the comment and <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/01/19/police-officer-suspended-for-allegedly-urging-drivers-to-run-over-black-lives-matter-idiots/" target="_blank">announced</a> that an investigation into the matter is underway.&nbsp;Senior Commander Shari Gray, the head of the department's internal affairs unit, also met with Henderson on Sunday, according to the <em>Pioneer Press</em>.</p> <p>"There is no room in the Saint Paul Police Department for employees who threaten members of the public," Coleman said in a statement released on Monday. "If the allegation is true, we will take the strongest possible action allowed under law."</p> <p>The St. Paul Police Federation, the union for officers, is representing Rothecker, <a href="http://www.startribune.com/st-paul-police-officer-on-leave-after-allegedly-telling-drivers-to-run-over-black-lives-matter-marchers/365697691/" target="_blank">according to</a> the <em>Star Tribune</em>.</p> <p>The news comes one year after motorist Jeffrey P. Rice struck a teenage girl who was protesting outside a Minneapolis police station. The girl was part of a November 2014 demonstration that took place after a Ferguson, Missouri grand jury declined to indict the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown. The girl <a href="http://www.startribune.com/nov-25-car-plows-through-protesters-during-ferguson-rally/283891941/" target="_blank">suffered</a> a minor leg injury. Last October, Rice, who is from St. Paul, <a href="http://www.startribune.com/motorist-pleads-guilty-to-misdemeanor-is-fined-for-driving-through-protesters-in-minneapolis/330442631/" target="_blank">pleaded guilty</a> to a charge for failing to yield to a pedestrian. He was fined $575 and ordered to attend a driver's education course.</p></body></html> Politics Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Top Stories police Tue, 19 Jan 2016 21:53:13 +0000 Jaeah Lee 294331 at http://www.motherjones.com What the Hell Happened to the Chicago Police's "Crisis Intervention" Training? http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/01/chicago-police-program-was-supposed-prevent-deaths-quintonio-legrier <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The fatal police shooting of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/12/chicago-police-shooting-quintonio-legrier-bettie-jones-witnesses" target="_blank">Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones</a> on December 26, 2015, has spurred calls to reassess how Chicago cops are trained to approach people who may be having a mental health crisis. Yet for years, the city's crisis intervention training program&mdash;which is designed to prevent such tragedies&mdash;was considered one of the nation's best.</p> <p>LeGrier, 19, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/12/chicago-police-shooting-quintonio-legrier-bettie-jones-witnesses" target="_blank">was fatally shot</a> at the front door of his father's home after police <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/12/chicago-police-shooting-quintonio-legrier-bettie-jones-witnesses" target="_blank">responded</a> to a 911 call about a man carrying a baseball bat. Jones, 55, was a neighbor who lived in the same building and shared the same entrance as LeGrier's father. She was accidentally struck by the gunfire, police officials <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/01/us/chicago-police-shooting-quintonio-legrier-bettie-jones.html?_r=0" target="_blank">said</a>.</p> <p>LeGrier's father, who had initially called 911, <a href="http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/7/71/1207663/father-19-year-old-killed-chicago-police-officer-knew-messed" target="_blank">later told the <em>Chicago Tribune</em></a> that his son had "some emotional problems" after spending time in foster care and had previously been admitted to a hospital for those issues. It remains unclear if LeGrier gave any indication of his son's mental health history during his 911 call. Chicago police officials have declined requests to release any call recordings, citing the ongoing investigation.</p> <p>In response to LeGrier's and Jones's fatal police encounter, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has <a href="http://abcnewsradioonline.com/national-news/chicago-mayor-rahm-emanuel-directs-police-to-review-crisis-t.html" target="_blank">called</a> for an immediate review of the way cops are trained to handle calls requiring mental health assistance. Meanwhile, advocates have pointed out how a shortage of resources has compromised what used to be seen as a promising crisis intervention program.</p> <p>Here's some key background on an aspect of police training that's been increasingly drawing national attention:</p> <p><strong>What exactly is crisis intervention training, and why does it matter?</strong> Crisis intervention is a type of police training that prepares officers for encounters with people who may be suffering from mental illnesses. A group of law enforcement officials, mental health experts, and community advocates started the first of these programs in Tennessee in 1988, after a Memphis police officer shot and killed a man with a history of mental illness.&nbsp;Such training can help reduce unnecessary arrests and use of force, research shows. Approximately <a href="http://www.popcenter.org/problems/mental_illness/PDFs/Deane_etal_1999.pdf" target="_blank">7 percent</a> of all police encounters with the public have involved people with mental illnesses, according to one 1999 study. And the <em>Washington Post</em>'s <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2015/12/29/why-police-calls-involving-the-mentally-ill-often-end-in-tragedy/" target="_blank">ongoing count</a> of fatal police shootings in America suggests that number is on the rise. About a quarter of those killed by the police in 2015 were experiencing a mental illness or an emotional crisis, the <em>Post </em>estimates. Today, there are an estimated 2,700 crisis intervention programs <a href="http://www.cit.memphis.edu/overview.php?page=6" target="_blank">across the country</a>.</p> <p><strong>How did Chicago's program start?</strong> Chicago began offering crisis intervention training to its officers in 2005, after a <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2002-05-11/news/0205110131_1_police-officer-knife-plainclothes-officer" target="_blank">spate of incidents</a> in which mentally unstable individuals died during encounters with the police. Today, roughly 1,900 of the force's active-duty officers (about 15 percent) have undergone the 40-hour course, according to the Chicago Police Department. Chicago's crisis intervention training is voluntary, as is typically the case with police departments. The Chicago police academy also offers nine hours of training on mental health issues.</p> <p>The program showed a lot of promise at the outset, with strong support from then-Police Superintendent <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/03/us/03chicago.html?_r=0" target="_blank">Philip Cline,</a> says Amy Watson, an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In a <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2990632/" target="_blank">2010 study</a>, Watson and her colleagues found that officers who received crisis intervention training were more likely to direct people to mental health services and less likely to use force. Similar studies have found that specialized training can reduce arrests and help officers avoid getting injured during encounters with people who may be mentally ill.<a href="#clarification">*</a> Chicago's crisis intervention program was "the most widely recognized and adopted best practice model of specialized response in the nation," the city's then-deputy police superintendent, Alfonza Wysinger, <a href="http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/04-29-1WysingerTestimony.pdf" target="_blank">testified</a> to a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee in 2014. But recently the program has suffered from a lack of support and funding, according to Watson and mental health advocates.</p> <p><strong>What changed?</strong> The city's support for the crisis intervention program started to wane after Cline retired in 2007, according to Watson. The number of staff managing the program declined from 10 to 4 people, even as the number of 911 calls requesting crisis intervention help has gradually <a href="http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/04-29-1WysingerTestimony.pdf" target="_blank">increased</a>. Funding for crisis intervention trainings, which is usually provided by the state-funded Illinois standards and training board, has also been inconsistent. Last year, when Illinois lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner deadlocked over the state budget, the state training board <a href="http://wqad.com/2015/09/28/police-training-halted-by-illinois-budget-impasse/" target="_blank">had to cancel</a> hundreds of police trainings, including crisis intervention, due to lack of funding. About 200 Chicago police officers missed out on the course as a result, <a href="http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:o2NDQQxEFMIJ:bigstory.ap.org/article/e4c1900cda4d42b48b48db23fc31ae0d/advocates-say-chicago-police-crisis-training-has-languished+&amp;cd=1&amp;hl=en&amp;ct=clnk&amp;gl=us" target="_blank">according to</a> local mental health advocacy groups.</p> <p><strong>What about other services for the mentally ill?</strong> Between 2010 and 2014, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Illinois cut spending on mental health services by 32 percent. Fifty percent of Chicago community mental health centers shut down, along with 30 percent of state facilities.<strong> </strong>For people dealing with mental illness, it's now "a choice between calling 911 or waiting two months for your appointment," says Watson, the professor from the University of Illinois at Chicago.</p> <p>The Chicago Police Department was likely underreporting the number of calls involving people with mental illnesses, which already vastly outnumbered trained officers on duty, <a href="http://In%20his%20testimony%20before%20the%20Senate%20Judiciary%20Subcommittee,%20former%20deputy%20superintendent%20Wysinger," target="_blank">according to</a> the former deputy superintendent, Wysinger. The shortage of resources means there's more risk that officers and the people whom they encounter will get hurt.</p> <p><strong>What more do we know about the LeGrier and Jones cases? </strong>In theory, 911 dispatchers in Chicago should be trained to find out if a caller requires assistance from a crisis-intervention-trained officer, Watson says. But the Chicago Police Department's crisis intervention team, which has been understaffed and stretched thin, has not trained the city's 911 dispatchers since 2011, she says. It's unclear if LeGrier's father informed the 911 dispatcher of his son's mental health history, and if the dispatcher who took the 911 call from LeGrier's father asked any questions to determine if specialized help was needed. The Chicago PD has declined requests&mdash;including from <em>Mother Jones</em>&mdash;to release a recording of the call. Dispatcher's notes <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-police-shooting-911-calls-met-20151228-story.html" target="_blank">obtained</a> by the <em>Chicago Tribune</em> described a male caller who said someone was threatening his life but refused to answer questions. In a second 911 call placed 30 seconds later, the caller said his 19-year-old son was "banging on his bedroom door with a bat," according to the notes. The dispatcher who relayed the call to officers described it as a "well-being check" and a domestic disturbance, the <em>Tribune</em> reported.</p> <p>In addition, there isn't a clear and consistent system for 911 dispatchers to identify which officers in the field are trained in crisis intervention. Generally speaking, police department supervisors <a href="http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/04-29-1WysingerTestimony.pdf" target="_blank">are supposed</a> to send to dispatchers&mdash;who are employed by the city's Office of Emergency Management and Communication&mdash;a list of trained officers, their shifts, and assigned dispatcher zones. "That list doesn't always get sent," Watson says.</p> <p>It's unclear if any of the officers who were at the scene that day had received the voluntary 40-hour crisis intervention training. Even if a trained officer had been present, Watson says, it's hard to say if the shooting could have been prevented. "It really depends on what they saw when the door opened," she says.</p> <p><strong>What's next? </strong>The Chicago Police Department plans to hold 26 crisis intervention training sessions in 2016, making the course available to an additional 910 officers, a Chicago police spokesperson <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/advocates-chicago-police-crisis-training-languished-35981088" target="_blank">told</a> the Associated Press. That still falls short of Watson's <a href="http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2015/12/29/mental-health-crisis-training-cops-faces-funding-gaps-lack-buy" target="_blank">recommendation</a> to train about 35 percent of Chicago officers&mdash;which would ensure there is one crisis-intervention-trained officer assigned to each shift and police district at all times. But training more officers alone will make little difference, in Watson's view. The Chicago PD will also need to fix the staffing shortages on its crisis intervention training team and address the gaps in working with outside agencies, including the 911 call center and local clinics.</p> <p>More broadly, Watson says, the state will need to restore funding for mental health that has been slashed over the years, resulting in clinics closing across Illinois. Last year, roughly 10,000 Chicago patients lost care after five community clinics <a href="http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/7/71/548596/mental-health-services-provider-shutting-may-31" target="_blank">shut down</a>. "Things have gotten worse pretty quickly," Watson says. "There's just been less and less." That's added to the burden on police officers to assist people in need of treatment.</p> <p id="clarification"><em>*The story has been updated to clarify the sources of these findings.</em></p></body></html> Politics Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity police Fri, 15 Jan 2016 11:00:10 +0000 Jaeah Lee 293491 at http://www.motherjones.com The Texas Trooper Who Pulled Over Sandra Bland Was Just Indicted http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2016/01/texas-trooper-sandra-bland-indicted-perjury-encinia <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Wednesday, nearly five months after Sandra Bland was found dead in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas, a grand jury has charged the state trooper who initially arrested the 28-year-old black woman with perjury.</p> <p>Trooper Brian Encinia <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/07/sandra-bland-police-dash-cam-video-texas" target="_blank">pulled over</a> Bland in Prairie View on July 20, citing an improper lane change. Dash cam footage later released by county officials showed that the encounter quickly escalated after Encinia ordered Bland out of her car. In the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/07/sandra-bland-police-dash-cam-video-texas" target="_blank">video</a>, Encinia can be heard saying, "I'm going to drag you out of here," as he reached into Bland's vehicle. He then pulled out what appeared to be a Taser, yelling, "I will light you up!" Encinia eventually forced Bland to the ground as she protested the arrest. Encinia <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/07/texas-waller-county-sandra-bland-racial-tensions" target="_blank">arrested</a> Bland for "assault on a public servant" and booked her into the Waller County jail, where she was found dead three days later.</p> <p>The video raised questions about how a woman who was on her way to start a new job wound up dying in custody. An autopsy determined that Bland died of "suicide by hanging," but Bland's family countered that suicide seemed "unfathomable" and asked the US Department of Justice to investigate the incident. County officials said Bland had asked to use the phone about an hour before she was found hanging in her cell. Bland's family said they had been trying to help her post bail.</p> <p>Encinia's class A misdemeanor perjury charge, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine, relates to a statement he made in the incident report following Bland's arrest. It comes a few weeks after the Waller County grand jury concluded that no felony had been committed in Bland's death by the county sheriff or jail staff.</p></body></html> MoJo Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Top Stories police Wed, 06 Jan 2016 23:41:58 +0000 Jaeah Lee 293446 at http://www.motherjones.com A Grand Jury Just Decided Not to Indict the Cop Who Killed 12-Year-Old Tamir Rice http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/12/grand-jury-does-not-indict-cop-who-killed-tamir-rice <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em><strong>Update (3:08 p.m. ET, 12/28/2015):</strong> The family of Tamir Rice has issued the following statement:</em></p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Here's the response from <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TamirRice?src=hash">#</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TamirRice?src=hash">TamirRice</a>'s family: <a href="https://t.co/1aCUSja0QT">pic.twitter.com/1aCUSja0QT</a></p> &mdash; Jaeah J. Lee (@jaeahjlee) <a href="https://twitter.com/jaeahjlee/status/681565419484897280">December 28, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <p>On Monday, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/john-crawford-tamir-rice-ohio-police-shooting-deaths" target="_blank">more than a year</a> since 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by a Cleveland police officer, a grand jury decided not to indict the cops involved, Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said that despite "the perfect storm" of errors that day, those errors "did not constitute criminal conduct."</p> <p>On the afternoon of November 22, 2014, less than 10 minutes after a man called 911 to report a person in a park waving around what appeared to be a gun, Loehmann and his partner Garmback drove up directly in front of Rice, with Loehmann emerging from the patrol car and shooting the boy almost instantaneously. Surveillance footage showed the officers standing around for several minutes after the shooting without giving Rice, any kind of first aid or tending to his wounds. The boy died at a hospital the next day. The gun in Rice's possession turned out to be a toy replica.</p> <p>Monday's decision emerges after more than a year of public controversy and investigations into the incident, first by the Cleveland police department and then by the Cuyahoga County sheriff's office, which in July handed over its findings to McGinty. Beginning in October, McGinty released three independent reports assessing the legality of Loehmann's and Garmback's actions. The reports, written by experts tapped by the prosecutor, all appeared to absolve the officers of misconduct. Their release to the public long before the grand jury decision was unusual&mdash;grand jury proceedings are typically closed off to the public&mdash;and the move prompted Rice's family and supporters to call for a special prosecutor to take over the case. Neither Loehmann nor Garmback ever spoke to investigators, as <em>Mother Jones</em> <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/tamir-rice-investigation-cleveland-police" target="_blank">first reported in May</a>, but in December the two officers released public statements for the first time since Rice's death.</p> <p>Here are the key events that led up to the grand jury decision:</p> <p><strong>November 22, 2014:</strong> A 911 caller tells a police dispatcher that a man who is "probably a juvenile" is waving around a gun that is "probably fake." The call taker <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/06/tamir-rice-police-killing-911-call-investigation" target="_blank">fails to relay</a> those details in the dispatch computer system and codes the call a "priority 1." A radio dispatcher requests officers to the scene. Tamir Rice is shot and killed within 10 minutes of the 911 call.</p> <p><strong>December 3, 2014:</strong> A report from the <em>Cleveland Plain Dealer</em> reveals that Loehmann's personnel record showed the officer had a <a href="http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2014/12/cleveland_police_officer_who_s.html" target="_blank">troubling history</a> with handling guns in the past. According to reports by supervisors at the Independence Police Department&mdash;where Loehmann served a six-month stint in 2012 before joining the Cleveland police&mdash;he was "distracted" and "weepy" during firearms qualifications training. An Independence deputy police chief wrote that Loehmann "could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal," and recommended that the department part ways with him.</p> <p><strong>December 5, 2014:</strong> Rice's family <a href="http://www.cleveland.com/court-justice/index.ssf/2015/01/amended_lawsuit_filed_by_tamir.html" target="_blank">files</a> a federal wrongful death suit against Loehmann, Garmback, and the city of Cleveland.</p> <p><strong>January 2015:</strong> The Cuyahoga County sheriff's office <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/tamir-rice-cuyahoga-county-investigation-cousin" target="_blank">takes over</a> the city's investigation into the shooting.</p> <p><strong>June 11, 2015:</strong> A Cleveland judge finds there is <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/06/judge-finds-probable-cause-charge-cop-who-killed-tamir-rice-murder-charge" target="_blank">sufficient evidence</a> to charge both Loehmann and Garmback, but leaves that decision up to the county prosecutor.</p> <p><strong>June 13, 2015:</strong> After five months, the county sheriff's office <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/06/tamir-rice-investigation-prosecutors-cleveland" target="_blank">releases the results</a> of its probe. Loehmann and Garmback, as <em>Mother Jones </em>was the first to report, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/tamir-rice-investigation-cleveland-police" target="_blank">refused</a> to speak with investigators despite multiple requests by investigators to interview them.</p> <p><strong>October 11, 2015:</strong> Cuyahoga County Prosecutor McGinty <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/10/new-tamir-rice-investigations-cleveland-police-shooting-6-takeaways" target="_blank">releases two reports</a> that conclude Loehmann's actions were "objectively reasonable" and constitutional, suggesting the investigation may not lead to charges. The two reports note that possible tactical errors made by the officers&mdash;such as whether Loehmann issued a warning before firing shots&mdash;are not relevant to the findings. The release of the reports <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/10/tamir-rice-leaked-reports-grand-jury" target="_blank">stirs a public outcry</a> and prompts Rice's family and supporters to call for McGinty's recusal from the grand jury process and for a special prosecutor to take over the case.</p> <p><strong>November 12, 2015:</strong> McGinty releases a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/11/tamir-rice-another-leaked-grand-jury-report-911-call-squad-car" target="_blank">third report</a> that focuses on the potential mishandling of the 911 call and whether Garmback's decision to drive the squad car to within feet of Rice contributed to the shooting. The report concludes that the 911 dispatcher and both officers' actions were reasonable.</p> <p><strong>November 28, 2015:</strong> Two outside law enforcement experts, retained by the Rice family's attorneys, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/11/two-experts-police-shooting-tamir-rice-reckless-avoidable" target="_blank">conclude</a> in their reports that Loehmann's and Garmback's actions were "reckless" and unjustifiable under the law. They challenge the three earlier reports released by the county prosecutor.</p> <p><strong>December 1, 2015:</strong> After a yearlong silence, Loehmann and Garmback <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/12/officers-release-public-statements-first-time-tamir-rices-death" target="_blank">release</a> their written accounts of what happened on the day of the shooting. Their statements are made public through the county prosecutor. "I had very little time as I exited the vehicle," Loehmann wrote of the moments before he fired two shots at Rice. "We are trained to get out of the cruiser because 'the cruiser is a coffin.'" He added, "I saw the weapon in his hands coming out of his waistband and the threat to my partner and myself was real and active."</p> <p><strong>December 15, 2015: </strong>Rice's family formally requests a Department of Justice investigation into the boy's death and the prosecutor's handling of the grand jury proceedings.</p></body></html> Politics Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Top Stories police Mon, 28 Dec 2015 19:15:31 +0000 Jaeah Lee 290541 at http://www.motherjones.com The Controversial "Rule" Police Rely on to Shoot and Kill Supsects http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/12/police-shootings-laquan-mcdonald-mario-woods-knives-21-foot-rule <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Last month, the attorney representing the Chicago police officer who shot and killed 17-year-old <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/11/laquan-mcdonald-chicago-police-shooting-video-explainer" target="_blank">Laquan McDonald</a> offered an explanation for his client's actions: "There is this 21-foot rule," the attorney, Dan Herbert, <a href="http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2015/11/20/laquan-mcdonald-video-when-will-it-be-released/" target="_blank">told</a> CBS News. "It talks about how an individual is a significant threat to a police officer when they're in that 21-foot boundary."</p> <p>Chicago police officials said the black teen held a four-inch folding knife on the night of the shooting last October, and that he waved it aggressively at Jason Van Dyke and other officers, ignoring orders to drop the weapon. But the video, released in late November on court orders, showed McDonald was wielding a knife but was shot with 16 bullets as he was facing away from the officers and then fell to the ground.</p> <div><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/millionsmarchcrop.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> <div id="mininav-header-text"> <p class="mininav-header-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> More MoJo coverage on policing: </p> </div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-275911"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/05/police-school-resource-officers-k-12-misconduct-violence"> Chokeholds, Brain Injuries, Beatings: When School Cops Go Bad</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-285486"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/09/police-training-reform-research"> Why No One Really Knows a Better Way to Train Cops</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-277586"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/06/tamir-rice-police-killing-911-call-investigation"> How Cleveland Police May Have Botched a 911 Call Just Before Killing Tamir Rice</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-279731"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/07/native-americans-getting-shot-police"> Native Americans Get Shot By Cops at an Astonishing Rate</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-275231"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/05/police-shootings-caught-on-tape-video"> Here Are 13 Killings by Police Captured on Video in the Past Year</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-273291"> <li><a href="/mojo/2015/04/walter-scott-michael-slager"> The Walter Scott Shooting Video Shows Why Police Accounts Are Hard to Trust</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-275306"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/05/tamir-rice-investigation-cleveland-police"> It&acirc;&#128;&#153;s Been 6 Months Since Tamir Rice Died, and the Cop Who Killed Him Still Hasn't Been Questioned</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-258221"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/08/police-shootings-michael-brown-ferguson-black-men"> Exactly How Often Do Police Shoot Unarmed Black Men?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-268206"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/01/police-misconduct-payments-eric-garner-nypd"> The Cop Who Choked Eric Garner to Death Won't Pay a Dime</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-275796"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/05/tanisha-anderson-killing-cleveland-police"> A Mentally Ill Woman's "Sudden Death" at the Hands of Cleveland Police</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> </div> <p>A week later, a video emerged showing multiple police officers in San Francisco fatally shooting another knife-wielding suspect, Mario Woods, on December 2. San Francisco PD officials <a href="http://www.sf-police.org/index.aspx?page=3763&amp;recordid=1396" target="_blank">said</a> Woods was the suspect of a stabbing that occurred earlier that day, and that Woods refused to relinquish a kitchen knife even as officers ordered him to drop it, fired bean bag pellets, and pepper-sprayed him. A cell phone video from a bystander showed Woods standing against a wall, surrounded by the police with their guns drawn. As Wood began to walk away, an officer stepped in his path, and a series of gunshots rang out. Five officers opened fire, according to the SFPD.</p> <p>Both McDonald's and Woods's deaths have sparked <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/11/laquan-mcdonald-chicago-police-shooting-video-explainer" target="_blank">protests</a> and raised questions about whether it was <a href="http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/article/Mario-Woods-unnecessary-death-6686745.php" target="_blank">really necessary</a> for the officers to open fire against suspects who had knives but didn't appear to pose an immediate threat. And with lethal force by the police under intense scrutiny, experts are now <a href="http://www.policemag.com/channel/patrol/articles/2007/10/rethinking-the-21-foot-rule.aspx" target="_blank">calling</a> <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/05/us/police-start-to-reconsider-longstanding-rules-on-using-force.html" target="_blank">attention</a> to how the "21-foot rule" cited in the McDonald case&mdash;referring to a decades-old article about handling suspects who are wielding edged or blunt weapons&mdash;has been widely misconstrued over the years.</p> <p>The concept originated with a March 1983 <em>SWAT</em> magazine article, "<a href="http://www.theppsc.org/Staff_Views/Tueller/How.Close.htm" target="_blank">How Close Is Too Close</a>," by Dennis Tueller, a retired lieutenant and former firearms instructor with the Salt Lake City Police Department. "Let's consider what might be called the 'Danger Zone' if you are confronted by an adversary armed with an edged or blunt weapon," Tueller wrote. Tueller conducted a series of tests and found that in the time it took for the officer to unholster, aim, and shoot his gun&mdash;1.5 to 2 seconds&mdash;the attacker could cover a distance of 21 feet.</p> <p>Tueller never called this idea a rule, but that's how it became known. "The '21-foot rule' concept spread throughout the law enforcement community almost like a virus," Ron Martinelli, a retired cop and forensic criminologist, <a href="http://lawofficermagazine.com/article/training/21-foot-rule" target="_blank">wrote</a> in a March 2015 <em>Law Officer</em> article about the so-called rule. "Tueller never imagined when he designed his simple firearms training drill that, 30 years later, the 21-foot rule would eventually become a police doctrine that is taught and testified to hundreds of times a year."</p> <p>The problem is that interpretation of Tueller's concept has been too simplistic, explains Seth Stoughton, a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law and a former police officer in Florida. "If the officer is already aware that a person has a weapon and pointed at the suspect, then the officer needs much less than a second and a half to make a decision to fire," he says. "But it's also dangerous for cops because, in some cases, 21 feet doesn't give enough time to properly respond to an aggressive threat." He added, "Nevertheless, it remains enshrined in policing."</p> <p>In recent years, Martinelli and other policing experts <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/05/us/police-start-to-reconsider-longstanding-rules-on-using-force.html?_r=0" target="_blank">have</a> <a href="http://www.policemag.com/channel/weapons/articles/2014/09/revisiting-the-21-foot-rule.aspx" target="_blank">raised</a> concerns. In an interview with the<em> </em>Marshall Project's Beth Schwartzapfel last month, even Tueller <a href="https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/11/25/will-the-21-foot-defense-work-for-the-chicago-cop-who-shot-laquan-mcdonald#.tBPoJOuZ7" target="_blank">tried to address</a> the misinterpretation of the concept. "I have more than a mild disagreement with that term," Tueller said.</p> <p>The "21-foot rule" isn't typically required curriculum in police academies, but as Stoughton and others note, it remains widely cited and taught as part of informal training seminars. After revisiting Tueller's research, Martinelli said he found "no forensic testing, examination, reconciliation of data, or scientific oversight of a research model was ever conducted." He added, "The truth is that the 21-foot rule should not be considered to be an absolute rule at all."</p> <p>Despite the recent efforts to <a href="http://www.policemag.com/channel/patrol/articles/2007/10/rethinking-the-21-foot-rule.aspx" target="_blank">clarify</a> it, Stoughton says, "the '21-foot rule' remains one of the persistent and frustrating urban myths of law enforcement training."</p> <p>Curtis J. Cope, a policing consultant who previously served as an officer and a training instructor, says he believes most officers are well aware that the "21-foot rule" is not a rule in and of itself, and that they operate based on the departmental policies and laws governing the use of force. "If you're going to be faced with a knife, you need to know the potential for you being stabbed or cut," he says. "You need to be able to figure out what types of defenses you're going to be able to utilize based upon the circumstances that you're faced with."</p> <p>But many police officers in America are trained to draw their guns when facing a potentially lethal threat, Stoughton says, even though the threat to officers from suspects holding edged weapons&mdash;such as knives&mdash;has "decreased substantially" over the past few decades. "Officers get very little training in confronting suspects other than using a firearm," he says, because much of their training focuses on deadly encounters, when in reality officers are more likely to face less lethal or nonlethal threats.</p> <p>A <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/05/us/police-start-to-reconsider-longstanding-rules-on-using-force.html" target="_blank">recent survey</a> of 281 police agencies found that young officers spend far more time getting trained on firearms and defensive tactics than on de-escalation tactics and crisis intervention. But officers need more training on how to contain and disarm suspects without a gun, Stoughton says. He points to past examples such as police in the United Kingdom <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFaPooJBDSg" target="_blank">disarming</a> a man waving a machete by closing in on him with riot shields, and Seattle police <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1997/04/05/us/standoff-in-heart-of-seattle-ends-after-11-long-disruptive-hours.html" target="_blank">disarming</a> a man with a knife using a ladder after an 11-hour standoff. "Without that training and experience, officers fall back on the weapon that they know they can rely on&mdash;and that's a firearm."</p></body></html> Politics Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity police Mon, 14 Dec 2015 11:00:08 +0000 Jaeah Lee 291736 at http://www.motherjones.com The Racially Charged San Francisco Police Shooting You Don’t Know About But Should http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/12/police-shot-and-killed-man-san-francisco-week-heres-what-you-should-know <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><head><script>(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&amp;version=v2.3"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script></head><body><p>Dozens of people gathered at a candlelit vigil on Thursday night in San Francisco, at the spot where 26-year-old Mario Woods <a href="http://www.sfexaminer.com/suspect-fatally-shot-by-police-idd-as-26-year-old-man/" target="_blank">was killed</a> by police the day before. Woods, who is black, <a href="http://www.ktvu.com/news/55611577-story" target="_blank">died</a> in a hail of bullets fired by San Francisco Police Department officers on Wednesday afternoon in the city's Bayview district. Police identified him as the suspect in an attack whose victim was apparently <a href="http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2015/12/03/mario-woods-stabbing-suspect-killed-sfpd-confrontation-caught-on-video-san-francisco/" target="_blank">stabbed in the shoulder</a> but is expected to survive. Police officials <a href="http://www.sf-police.org/index.aspx?page=3763&amp;recordid=1396" target="_blank">said</a> Woods was wielding a kitchen knife that he refused to relinquish even as officers ordered him to drop it, fired bean bag pellets, and pepper-sprayed him.</p> <p>The moments leading up to the shooting were captured on several <a href="http://www.sfexaminer.com/officer-involved-shooting-reported-in-bayview-neighborhood/" target="_blank">widely circulated videos</a> <a href="http://sfist.com/2015/12/03/videos_of_fatal_sfpd_shooting_raise.php" target="_blank">recorded</a> on cellphones. In one, Woods can be seen standing with his back against a wall, surrounded by police whose guns are drawn. When Woods begins to walk away, an officer steps in his path, and within seconds a series of shots rings out. SFPD Chief Greg Suhr <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Police-say-SF-officer-shoots-suspect-in-Bayview-6671485.php" target="_blank">told</a> reporters that a total of five officers opened fire. (<em>Warning: graphic images</em>)</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-version="6" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"> <div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8 ; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50.0% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;">&nbsp;</div> </div> <p style=" color:#c9c8cd ; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;"><a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/-z3eBvPopx/" style=" color:#c9c8cd ; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none;" target="_blank">A video posted by HotRod (@daniggahot)</a> on <time datetime="2015-12-03T00:59:25+00:00" style=" font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;">Dec 2, 2015 at 4:59pm PST</time></p> </div> </blockquote> <script async defer src="//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js"></script><p>Woods died at the scene. A resident who lives next to the site of the shooting told <em>Mother Jones</em> that he counted at least 36 shell casings on the sidewalk after the violence was over. <a href="https://www.facebook.com/larry.salomon/videos/10153728869169871/" target="_blank">Another angle</a> also captured the shooting (graphic).</p> <div id="fb-root">&nbsp;</div> <script>(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script><div class="fb-video" data-allowfullscreen="1" data-href="/larry.salomon/videos/vb.580714870/10153728869169871/?type=3"> <div class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"> <blockquote cite="https://www.facebook.com/larry.salomon/videos/10153728869169871/"><a href="https://www.facebook.com/larry.salomon/videos/10153728869169871/">Another angle from yesterday's police shooting in Bayview (SF)</a> <p>This was taken by one of my students who lives a block away.</p> Posted by <a href="https://www.facebook.com/larry.salomon">Larry Salomon</a> on Thursday, December 3, 2015</blockquote> </div> </div> <p><em>SF Weekly</em> <a href="http://www.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2015/12/03/man-shot-by-sfpd-idd-as-mario-woods-was-on-gang-injunction" target="_blank">reported</a> that Woods had been a gang member in 2009 and had previously served prison and jail time for possession of a firearm by a felon. Woods' mother, Gwendolyn, <a href="http://abc7news.com/news/exclusive-mother-says-san-francisco-police-executed-her-son/1108980/" target="_blank">told ABC7 News</a> that her son had suffered from mental health issues but was getting through them. "He just needed some help," she said. "He fought past them.<strong>" </strong>She told interviewers that her son had "gotten his uniform" for his new job with the United Parcel Service<strong> </strong>that he was slated to begin the day after he died<strong>.</strong></p> <p>The San Francisco police department<strong> </strong>has had <a href="https://www.aclunc.org/sites/default/files/A%20Department%20in%20Denial%20-%20The%20San%20Francisco%20Police%20Department%27s%20Failure%20to%20Address%20Racial%20Profiling.pdf" target="_blank">a troubled history</a> of police aggression and racism toward minority communities. In February, four San Francisco police officers were cleared in <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/4-San-Francisco-cops-cleared-in-Alex-Nieto-killing-6079794.php" target="_blank">the shooting death of Alex </a><a href="http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/4-San-Francisco-cops-cleared-in-Alex-Nieto-killing-6079794.php" target="_blank">Niet</a>o, a 28-year-old Hispanic man who was shot 10 to 15 times by police in March 2014. Police officers mistook a Taser for a gun. In March, a series of racist and homophobic text messages sent among a group of officers in 2011 and 2012 emerged as part of a federal case against a former San Francisco police sergeant convicted of corruption charges, <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/S-F-chief-moves-to-fire-7-more-officers-over-6177739.php" target="_blank">according to the <em>San Francisco Chronicle</em></a>. The department <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/San-Francisco-dealt-setback-in-racist-text-6342528.php" target="_blank">tried to fire eight officers</a> and suspend several others involved, but the disciplinary process is ongoing. In August, a video of more than a dozen San Francisco police officers <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/san-francisco-police-homeless-man-prosthetic-leg_55d3909ae4b055a6dab1c8f9" target="_blank">surrounding and tackling a disabled homeless man</a> went viral, spurring outrage.</p> <p>Neighborhood residents where Woods was shot questioned the level of force used to subdue him.</p> <p>"They had six officers against this one little guy," area resident Cedric Smith <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Man-shot-dead-by-S-F-cops-IDd-as-26-year-old-6673167.php" target="_blank">told the <em>San Francisco Chronicle</em></a>. "They could have used batons. They could have backed off. They didn't need to shoot him." And Chemika Hollis, another resident, wondered why police officers shot him so many times. "How can you feel a threat when you have 10 cops around you?" she said.</p> <p>Thursday's vigil was set up on the spot where Woods was gunned down, with pictures of him, candles, and a sign posted to the wall reading, "Black Lives Matter." A few blocks away from the vigil, dozens more gathered at a community meeting in the St. Paul of the Shipwreck Catholic church, while others held a<strong> </strong>peaceful protest outside.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/jlee630.jpg"><div class="caption">Jaeah Lee</div> </div> <p>San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr has said the officers were justified in shooting Woods, and he promised a thorough investigation.</p> <p>"It's a tragic loss anytime somebody dies. We never want to do that," he told reporters after the shooting. "But this is all they could do. I really don't know how much more you can make it plain to a wanted felon that he should drop the knife."</p></body></html> Politics Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Top Stories police Fri, 04 Dec 2015 20:32:43 +0000 Jaeah Lee and AJ Vicens 291261 at http://www.motherjones.com Grand Jury Decision "Very Near" in Police Killing of 12-Year-Old Tamir Rice http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/12/tamir-rice-grand-jury-police-statements <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The grand jury investigating the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by Cleveland police last fall is "now very near a decision" on whether to recommend criminal charges against the shooter, according to a lawyer for one of the two officers involved.</p> <p>Officer Timothy Loehmann, who shot and killed Rice within two seconds of arriving on the scene (a Cleveland park) is the sole subject of the criminal investigation and grand jury proceedings&mdash;although three <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/11/two-experts-police-shooting-tamir-rice-reckless-avoidable" target="_blank">outside</a> <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/06/judge-finds-probable-cause-charge-cop-who-killed-tamir-rice-murder-charge" target="_blank">reviews</a> of the case have stated that the actions of Officer Frank Garmback, who pulled the officers' cruiser to within a few feet of the boy, warrant a criminal investigation as well.</p> <div><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/225px_tamir.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> <div id="mininav-header-text"> <p class="mininav-header-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> More MoJo coverage on Tamir Rice </p> </div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-265961"> <li><a href="/mojo/2014/12/tamir-rice-st-louis-county-police"> St. Louis County Police on Tamir Rice Killing: "Kids Will Be Kids?" </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-290776"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/11/two-experts-police-shooting-tamir-rice-reckless-avoidable"> 2 Reports Slam Cleveland Cops for "Reckless" Killing of Tamir Rice</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-289341"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/11/tamir-rice-another-leaked-grand-jury-report-911-call-squad-car"> Another Report Suggests the Cop Who Killed Tamir Rice May Not be Charged</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-287326"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/10/tamir-rice-leaked-reports-grand-jury"> Outrage Is Growing Over the Tamir Rice Investigation</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-286666"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/10/new-tamir-rice-investigations-cleveland-police-shooting-6-takeaways%20"> 6 Takeaways From New Probes Into the Police Shooting of Tamir Rice</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-277586"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/06/tamir-rice-police-killing-911-call-investigation"> How Police May Have Botched a 911 Call Before Killing Tamir Rice</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-276491"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/06/tamir-rice-investigation-prosecutors-cleveland"> Tamir Rice Investigation Results Released by County Prosecutors</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-277106"> <li><a href="/mojo/2015/06/judge-finds-probable-cause-charge-cop-who-killed-tamir-rice-murder-charge"> Judge Finds Probable Cause to Charge Cop Who Killed Tamir Rice</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-276556"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/06/officer-tamir-rice-beating-case"> Officer in Tamir Rice Case Was Accused of Beating a Woman</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-275306"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/05/tamir-rice-investigation-cleveland-police"> The Cop Who Killed Tamir Rice Still Hasn't Been Questioned</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-275031"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/05/tamir-rice-cuyahoga-county-investigation-cousin"> The Tamir Rice Killing: "I Feel So Disgusted With the City of Cleveland."</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> </div> <p>On Tuesday, after a year of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/tamir-rice-investigation-cleveland-police" target="_blank">silence</a>, the two officers released <a href="#statements">their own accounts</a> of the shooting, which took place last November 22 and was captured in surveillance footage. Loehmann and Garmback had remained tight-lipped despite multiple interview requests from county sheriff's investigators and subpoenas from the grand jury. With a grand jury decision imminent, it was "time for us to present our statement to the Sheriff, if we were going to do so," Michael Maloney,&nbsp;Garmback's attorney, told <em>Mother Jones</em> in an email. (The prosecutor's office would not discuss the grand jury's timetable, and Loehmann's attorney has not responded to requests for comment.)</p> <p>"I kept my eyes on the suspect the entire time," Loehmann <a href="http://prosecutor.cuyahogacounty.us/pdf_prosecutor/en-US/Tamir%20Rice%20Investigation/Officer%20Loehmann%20Statement.pdf" target="_blank">wrote</a> in his letter, adding that he and Garmback thought Rice was going to run toward a nearby community center. "I was fixed on his waistband and hand area. I was trained to keep my eyes on his hands because 'hands may kill.'" Loehmann wrote that he saw Rice pull out a gun, and that he then fired twice toward Rice's hands. One of those shots struck the child in the abdomen&mdash;he died at a hospital the next day.</p> <p>Garmback, in <a href="http://prosecutor.cuyahogacounty.us/pdf_prosecutor/en-US/Tamir%20Rice%20Investigation/Officer%20Garmback%20Statement.pdf" target="_blank">a separate letter</a>, wrote that he first saw Rice had a gun "about the time Ptl. Loehmann exited the cruiser. The male was pulling it from the right front area of his waistband. I thought the gun was real." In June, the county sheriff's <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/06/tamir-rice-investigation-prosecutors-cleveland" target="_blank">five-month investigation</a> revealed that the 911 dispatcher had <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/06/tamir-rice-police-killing-911-call-investigation" target="_blank">failed to relay</a> the caller's description that Rice was "probably a juvenile" and that his gun was "probably fake." Indeed, it was a toy replica.</p> <p>The officers' statements, which attorneys for Rice's family called "self-serving" and "inconsistent," left key questions unresolved. The accounts were "flatly contradicted by the objective video footage," the family lawyers wrote in their own statement on Tuesday. "Hopefully, the grand jury will see through this."</p> <p>Loehmann and Garmback, for instance, claimed Rice was heading toward the recreation center before he turned toward the squad car as it pulled up. But that's not apparent in the surveillance video. Loehmann also wrote that he and Garmback issued multiple warnings for Rice to show his hands as the cruiser pulled up, and as Loehmann was getting out. Garmback, however, wrote that the car windows may have been rolled up.</p> <p>The officers' statements revealed troubling tactical errors, according to Dave Klinger, a former cop and a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. For one, Loehmann described the scene as "an active shooter situation." That's inaccurate, Klinger explains. "An active shooter is <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/12/san-bernardino-shooting" target="_blank">what happened in San Bernardino</a>&mdash;someone who is actively shooting at people. So right off the bat something is not right. There's so much we don't know about what was going on in this guy's mind and the mind of his partner officer."</p> <p>The biggest tactical blunder, Klinger says, was in Garmback's pulling the vehicle so close to Rice. Garmback wrote that "the cruiser did slide when I applied the brakes. I am not sure how far. The car did not stop where and when I intended." Even so, Klinger says, "the bottom line is that you don't come barreling in. You follow him if he runs. You don't get up close. That doesn't make any sense."</p> <p>Klinger, who has testified as an expert witness in police-shooting cases, adds that the verbal warning Loehmann and Garmback said they issued&mdash;"show me your hands"&mdash;was a "brain-dead" move. "It's not a warning, it's a command," Klinger says. "And it's the wrong command to issue when someone has their hands not in plain view in that moment. I do not understand why police officers are sometimes trained that 'show me your hands' is an appropriate thing to do when somebody who you believe had a gun has their hands not in plain view."</p> <p>Neither officer explained in his letter why he neglected to administer first aid or tend to the child's wound&mdash;even after the scene was secured. Earlier this year, Cleveland police sergeant Janell Rutherford <a href="http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2101805-tamir-rice-investigation.html#document/p145" target="_blank">told</a> investigators that the city's police vehicles are not equipped with first-aid kits, and that Cleveland officers receive no medical training at the academy, except for CPR.</p> <p>The officers' statements are the latest pieces of evidence made public by county prosecutor Timothy McGinty. Beginning in October, McGinty <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/10/new-tamir-rice-investigations-cleveland-police-shooting-6-takeaways" target="_blank">released</a> three reports from current and former law enforcement officials he'd tapped for that purpose. The reports unanimously concluded that Loehmann and Garmback had acted reasonably under the law, and that any tactical errors they may have made did not warrant criminal charges. In releasing those reports, McGinty broke with a longstanding tradition of keeping grand jury documents off limits to the public, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/10/tamir-rice-leaked-reports-grand-jury" target="_blank">raising suspicions</a> about his motives. Rice's family and supporters have called for a special prosecutor to take over the case.</p> <p>Klinger, the former cop, says the officers' tactical errors don't rise to the level of criminal offenses, although they may facilitate a settlement in a wrongful death suit the Rice family has filed against the city. But two expert <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/11/two-experts-police-shooting-tamir-rice-reckless-avoidable" target="_blank">reports</a> released last week by the family's lawyers call the officers' actions "reckless" and legally unjustifiable. Those findings were echoed in June by the Cleveland <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/06/judge-finds-probable-cause-charge-cop-who-killed-tamir-rice-murder-charge" target="_blank">judge</a> who found probable cause to charge the officers, but left the decision to the county prosecutor.</p> <script src="//assets.documentcloud.org/embed/loader.js"></script><script> dc.embed.load('http://www.documentcloud.org/search/embed/', { q: "document: 2631170 document: 2631171", container: "#DC-search-document-2631170-document-2631171", title: "Tamir Rice Case: Officer Statements", order: "title", per_page: 12, search_bar: true, organization: 14 }); </script><noscript> <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/public/search/document%3A%202631170%20document%3A%202631171">View/search document collection</a> </noscript></body></html> Politics Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity police Thu, 03 Dec 2015 11:00:12 +0000 Jaeah Lee 291016 at http://www.motherjones.com Two Expert Reports Slam Cleveland Cops for "Reckless" Killing of Tamir Rice http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/11/two-experts-police-shooting-tamir-rice-reckless-avoidable <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Saturday, attorneys for the family of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/06/tamir-rice-police-killing-911-call-investigation" target="_blank">who was shot to death</a> by a Cleveland cop last November, released two new reports concluding that the actions of the two officers involved, Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback, were "reckless" and "objectively unreasonable" by legal and professional standards.</p> <p>The reports were authored by Roger Clark, a former Los Angeles County deputy sheriff, and by Jeffrey Noble, a former deputy police chief for Irvine, California, who were retained by the Rice family's attorneys. Both former police officials have concluded that Loehmann, who fired the shots, and Garmback, his partner who drove the squad car to within a few feet of Rice, committed a series of tactical errors that were legally unjustifiable. The officers created a dangerous and avoidable situation, they say, that jeopardized the safety of the officers and the boy. The officers, Noble writes, "engaged in reckless tactical decision-making that created the danger, thus the use of deadly force was excessive, objectively unreasonable and inconsistent with generally accepted police practices." That conclusion fits with the analysis of other policing experts who have <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/tamir-rice-investigation-cleveland-police" target="_blank">weighed in</a> on the case.</p> <p></p><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/millionsmarchcrop.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> <div id="mininav-header-text"> <p class="mininav-header-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> More MoJo coverage on policing: </p> </div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-275911"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/05/police-school-resource-officers-k-12-misconduct-violence"> Chokeholds, Brain Injuries, Beatings: When School Cops Go Bad</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-285486"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/09/police-training-reform-research"> Why No One Really Knows a Better Way to Train Cops</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-277586"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/06/tamir-rice-police-killing-911-call-investigation"> How Cleveland Police May Have Botched a 911 Call Just Before Killing Tamir Rice</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-279731"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/07/native-americans-getting-shot-police"> Native Americans Get Shot By Cops at an Astonishing Rate</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-275231"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/05/police-shootings-caught-on-tape-video"> Here Are 13 Killings by Police Captured on Video in the Past Year</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-273291"> <li><a href="/mojo/2015/04/walter-scott-michael-slager"> The Walter Scott Shooting Video Shows Why Police Accounts Are Hard to Trust</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-275306"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/05/tamir-rice-investigation-cleveland-police"> It&acirc;&#128;&#153;s Been 6 Months Since Tamir Rice Died, and the Cop Who Killed Him Still Hasn't Been Questioned</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-258221"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/08/police-shootings-michael-brown-ferguson-black-men"> Exactly How Often Do Police Shoot Unarmed Black Men?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-268206"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/01/police-misconduct-payments-eric-garner-nypd"> The Cop Who Choked Eric Garner to Death Won't Pay a Dime</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-275796"> <li><a href="/politics/2015/05/tanisha-anderson-killing-cleveland-police"> A Mentally Ill Woman's "Sudden Death" at the Hands of Cleveland Police</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> <p>In their review of the surveillance footage of the shooting and its aftermath, Clark and Noble both concluded that Rice was not holding a weapon when the officers drove directly up to him in a Cleveland park, and therefore posed no immediate threat to the officers. "It is absolutely critical to emphasize that no weapon was visible to either Officer Loehmann or Officer Garmback upon their arrival on the scene," Clark wrote. "Officer Loehmann jumped out of the car with his gun in his hand before the car had even come close to a complete stop. Thus, it appears that Officer Loehmann must have unholstered his gun while en route to the call."</p> <p>Clark and Noble's conclusions differ starkly from those of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/10/new-tamir-rice-investigations-cleveland-police-shooting-6-takeaways" target="_blank">three previous reports</a>, also written by former or current law enforcement officials, which suggested that Rice may have been holding a gun or reaching down toward his waist when the officers approached. Those three reports were released recently by Timothy McGinty, the county prosecutor leading the grand jury investigation, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/10/tamir-rice-leaked-reports-grand-jury" target="_blank">sparking controversy</a> over their apparent absolution of the officers.<strong> </strong><strong>(Read all five reports <a href="#reports">below</a>.)</strong></p> <p>Clark also noted that the 911 operator who took the call, Constance Hollinger, relayed "grossly incomplete information," and that her actions justified "significant discipline or discharge." As <em>Mother Jones</em> <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/06/tamir-rice-police-killing-911-call-investigation" target="_blank">first reported</a> in June, Hollinger did not enter the caller's details about Rice being "probably a juvenile" and the gun being "probably fake." But even setting aside those details, "based upon what he observed and knew at the time, it was unreasonable for Officer Loehmann to jump out with his gun drawn and immediately open fire within 1.7 seconds at a person he could not be sure was the subject of the dispatch."</p> <p>Clark and Noble also criticized the assessments released by McGinty from previous experts. In part they pointed to the "glaring omission" of statements from Loehmann and Garmback&mdash;who have refused to speak with investigators in the year since the shooting, as <em>Mother Jones</em> <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/tamir-rice-investigation-cleveland-police" target="_blank">first reported in May</a>. They also noted the grainy surveillance video, captured at a distance, and how it was misused by the previous experts: "Their reports ignore and/or distort the objective evidence," Clark wrote. "All three experts appear to speculate about what the officers might have seen or thought."</p> <p>Clark and Noble also zeroed in on Loehmann's record, including the officer's history of "lying to his supervisor" and how he suffered from <a href="http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2014/12/cleveland_police_officer_who_s.html" target="_blank">emotional instability</a>. Both concluded that Loehmann's prior record not only tainted his credibility in the Rice case but also demonstrated that he was unfit for duty as an officer and never should have been hired in the first place. "Hiring and retaining plainly unfit police officers is a recipe for disaster," Clark wrote. "In this case, the obvious delinquencies in this regard lead to a tragic and unavoidable fatality."</p> <p>With the grand jury continuing to hear evidence and deliberate on whether Loehmann should face criminal charges, attorneys for the Rice family submitted the two reports to McGinty, who they say has failed to "impartially investigate and prosecute this case." Attorney Zoe Salzman confirmed to <em>Mother Jones</em> that McGinty has since agreed to present the two reports commissioned by the family's attorneys to the grand jury.</p> <p id="reports">Read all the expert reports being considered by the grand jury below.</p> <div class="DC-search-container" id="DC-search-document-2624173-document-2624172-document-2624179-document-2624180-document-2624181">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//assets.documentcloud.org/embed/loader.js"></script><script> dc.embed.load('http://www.documentcloud.org/search/embed/', { q: "document: 2624173 document: 2624172 document: 2624179 document: 2624180 document: 2624181", container: "#DC-search-document-2624173-document-2624172-document-2624179-document-2624180-document-2624181", title: "Tamir Rice Case: Expert Reports", order: "title", per_page: 12, search_bar: true, organization: 14 }); </script><noscript> <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/public/search/document%3A%202624173%20document%3A%202624172%20document%3A%202624179%20document%3A%202624180%20document%3A%202624181">View/search document collection</a> </noscript></body></html> Politics Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Top Stories police Tue, 01 Dec 2015 11:00:15 +0000 Jaeah Lee 290776 at http://www.motherjones.com Uncovering the Painful Truth About Racism on Campus http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/11/racism-campus-protests-mizzou-yale-craig-wilder <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>After a series of racist incidents <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/11/university-of-missouri-president-resigns-racism-football-hunger-strike" target="_blank">sparked</a> campus-wide protests at the University of Missouri, demonstrations have <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/live/2015/nov/18/studentblackout-anti-racism-protests-universities#block-564cc33ae4b0a51fe2018c3f" target="_blank">spread rapidly</a> across the country, from <a href="http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S44/78/51S96/index.xml" target="_blank">Princeton</a> and <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/13/us/dean-at-claremont-mckenna-college-resigns-amid-protests.html?_r=0" target="_blank">Claremont McKenna</a> to the <a href="http://fusion.net/story/234750/university-of-south-carolina-race-protests/" target="_blank">University of South Carolina</a> and <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/live/2015/nov/18/studentblackout-anti-racism-protests-universities#block-564cd9abe4b0e98c91b0d661" target="_blank">Stanford</a>. Students from dozens of colleges and universities have raised <a href="http://www.thedemands.org/" target="_blank">demands</a> ranging from improvements in student and faculty diversity to the <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/11/13/georgetown_students_protest_a_residence_hall_named_for_a_slave_selling_jesuit.html" target="_blank">renaming of campus buildings</a>, and even <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/11/13/georgetown_students_protest_a_residence_hall_named_for_a_slave_selling_jesuit.html" target="_blank">reparations</a>. Several university heads and professors <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/education/2015/11/13/3721978/student-dean-california-resigns/" target="_blank">have resigned</a> amid the upheaval.</p> <p>Fully understanding the rising wave of campus protests over racial injustice requires looking back centuries, explains Craig Steven Wilder, a historian at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Wilder spent more than a decade researching the fraught racial history of America's colleges and universities&mdash;including their roots in one of the country's most ignominious eras. "It's difficult to celebrate diversity while standing in front of buildings that are named after slave traders," he says.</p> <p>Wilder spoke to <em>Mother Jones</em> about how that history came to light, and how it informs current politics and the evolution of the Black Lives Matter movement.</p> <p><strong>Mother Jones:</strong> What went through your mind when you first heard about the protests at Mizzou and Yale?</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/WilderatSt.Johns_.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Professor Craig Steven Wilder. </strong>Courtesy of MIT</div> </div> <p><strong>Craig Steven Wilder:</strong> I had just given a talk at Yale. One of the things that came to mind was the reemergence of a student activism that is increasingly important on our campuses and also in the broader social conversation about racial inequality and racial justice. If you look back at what's happened over the past few years, with both Occupy and Black Lives Matter, you'll see a heavy student involvement. The fact that they're now beginning to articulate a kind of common vision seems to me predictable.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> In 2013, you published <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/19/books/ebony-and-ivy-about-how-slavery-helped-universities-grow.html?_r=0" target="_blank"><em>Ebony and Ivy</em></a>, a book about the role slavery played in the founding of America's earliest colleges and universities, dating back to the 1700s. Do you see any connection between the racial injustices then and the protests we are seeing now?</p> <p><strong>CSW:</strong> It actually dates back to the early 1600s, to the founding of the very first English academy in the American colonies. I don't see a direct linear connection between those things, but there is a connection. Institutions are a product of their histories, like <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/11/13/georgetown_students_protest_a_residence_hall_named_for_a_slave_selling_jesuit.html" target="_blank">Georgetown has experienced</a>. We have campuses that are filled with buildings named after founders and early participants in the founding and establishment of universities who both owned and traded human beings. It's difficult and awkward to celebrate diversity while standing in front of buildings that are named after slave traders.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/2D%20Pennsylvania%20Gazette%201747_330.png"><div class="caption"><strong>An advertisement for a slave auction on a ship owned by a charter trustee of the College of Philadelphia, now the University of Pennsylvania. </strong>Pennsylvania Gazette/Courtesy of Craig Steven Wilder</div> </div> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> For those who haven't read your book, tell us more about how slavery played a significant role in the growth of American universities.</p> <p><strong>CSW:</strong> Every college that survived the American Revolutionary War did so by attaching itself to the slave economies of the Atlantic world. It's those economies that sustained them. Slavery wasn't just an aspect of their early history&mdash;slavery decided which colleges would survive. When Harvard was founded in 1636, it was founded just before the Pequot<a href="#correction">*</a> war breaks out&mdash;the war between the Puritans and the native communities of southern New England which culminates in the massacre of several hundred Pequot, and the survivors are sold into slavery in the Caribbean. The ship that sells them is the first to transport slaves out of the British colonies. It returns with African slaves to New England. The year that it returns, Harvard gets its first slave on campus. Yale became a college that expanded in the 18th century by finding more intimate connections to slavery, including owning a small slave plantation in Rhode Island that it leased out to a series of slaveholding tenants. The rent from that estate helped Yale establish its first graduate program and its first scholarship.</p> <p>There's an academic revolution that happened in the quarter century just before the American Revolution. There are only three colleges in the British colonies until the 1740s. William and Mary in Virginia, Harvard, and Yale. Then, between 1740 and 1769, seven new colleges get established. That's the moment when the slave trade is peaking. New wealth is being produced in the Americas that allows the various Christian denominations to establish colleges to help cement their presence in the colonies. Engineering schools in the pre-Civil War period were largely funded by people who were making significant amounts of money off the products of slavery: cotton manufacturers, textile manufacturers in New England, and sugar refiners in places like New York.</p> <p>You spend a whole bunch of time in the university archives and then you walk outside to put coins in the meter or to grab a sandwich, and you're walking past buildings named after the people who are in those records&mdash;the slave traders and slave owners. Those legacies are very real.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> When did we first begin to see universities confront these legacies, and where?</p> <p><strong>CSW:</strong> It's just before 2003, when Ruth Simmons, an African American woman who had been president of Smith, is selected as the next president of Brown University. President Simmons decided to challenge the university and the trustees and the alumni body by establishing a commission to look directly at Brown's relationship to the slave trade, and to bring forth a report on it, to make it public, with suggestions of ways of addressing that history. Northern universities in particular have been terribly effective at hiding their relationship to the slave trade. So that was a moment of tremendous courage.</p> <p>It didn't happen in a complete vacuum. A couple of years before Simmons became Brown's president, Yale had its 300th anniversary, during which they often commission a history. Yale's history focused heavily on its contribution to the abolitionist, anti-slavery movement. A lot of Yale graduates became abolitionists, but the university was actually anti-abolition in its official position. Even more important, Yale had a much longer history with slavery, like all of the universities did, than it did with abolitionism. A group of graduate students and staff pointed this out on a website, "<a href="http://www.yaleslavery.org/Resources/summ.html" target="_blank">Yale, Slavery, and Abolition</a>." There was a huge backlash. People accused them of attacking the university by bringing up things that were uncomfortable to deal with at the moment when people should be celebrating.</p> <p>But whatever the motivations, it's simply true that these universities have a much deeper relationship with slavery, which they've successfully avoided. Brown gave a template for how to wrestle with this history.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> We've also seen a <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/conservative-backlash-mizzou-protests-may-backfire" target="_blank">backlash against</a> the protests at Mizzou and Yale. Where do you see this coming from?</p> <p><strong>CSW:</strong> I once gave a radio interview in which one of the callers accused me of digging up the past, which is a strange accusation to make against a historian&mdash;that's the job description. What that accusation really is, is the protest of someone who's uncomfortable with a certain historical truth. I think there's a fear of where this will lead.</p> <p>When I was doing the research for the book, you have these references to enslaved people who are on campus. At Princeton, after the president died, his slaves were auctioned off from the president's house. The founder of Dartmouth showed up to New Hampshire with eight enslaved black people. He's got more slaves than faculty. He's got more slaves than active trustees. I'm not the first one to have seen this. But a lot of historians have made the decision that what they were seeing isn't all that important to the story they were telling.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/3D%20CollegeSlaves1826_0.png"><div class="caption"><strong>Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) in Lexington, Virginia, leased its slaves to bring in additional revenue. </strong>Library of Congress/Courtesy of Craig Steven Wilder</div> </div> <p>When these investigations first started, one of the fears was that any acknowledgement that slavery played in the histories of institutions would lead to calls for reparations. That's an extraordinarily cowardly position to take. The truth can't be held hostage to our fear of consequences.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> Has the lack of diversity among university faculty and students had anything to do with the time it has taken to accept these truths?</p> <p><strong>CSW:</strong> I think in the past 25 to 35 years, the increasing diversity of American colleges and universities has created the conditions for beginning to unpack some of this history and to challenge it on campus. On historically white, predominantly white university campuses, we've developed a tendency to celebrate diversity and to talk about diversity as a positive good, particularly for marketing purposes, and how we should be ranked with competitors. But at the same time, there's been a reluctance to do the very difficult work of managing a diverse community of people and thinking about what it really requires to sustain a diverse community of people.</p> <p>The business of dealing with diversity has gotten harder to do as colleges and universities have gotten more corporatized, as costs have inflated, and as we've turned to our upper administration to deal with the business of raising money, building campuses, expanding endowments, and primarily focus on the fiscal health of the institutions. One of the things we've created is a generation of higher education officials who don't necessarily have the skill set to manage diversity.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> How do the ongoing campus protests tie in with the Black Lives Matter movement that emerged more than a year ago?</p> <p><strong>CSW:</strong> Actually, I believe that the campus protests are influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement. Some of these students got their initial experience in organizing and political action from BLM. It is, unfortunately, not difficult to see how the social crises that produced BLM also play out on campus. These movements are grassroots reactions to social injustice.&nbsp;</p> <p>I also think this is a moment where we need to look at the health of our university system more broadly&mdash;is it performing the role we think it's supposed to? And as the students come to experience their own campaign's successes and failures, their goals will evolve. The original Montgomery bus boycott had very modest aims. It wasn't until community action began to experience its own power that the aim of desegregating the transit system emerged. Even in a movement that broad and spectacular and historically significant, you have this evolution. So what I see happening with the students is that&mdash;much like the student athletes over the past several years who've been pushing for compensation and recognition of the roles they're playing, and the money that's being generated off their labor&mdash;their aims have been evolving over time.</p> <p>Diversity is not disconnected from those broader conversations. It needs to be embedded in those broader conversations, which is how we hold ourselves accountable over time. It's how we avoid this habit of pretending to be surprised by things that we know are bubbling up on our campuses.</p> <p id="correction"><em>Correction: The original version of this story misspelled the name of the Pequot tribe.</em></p></body></html> Politics Interview Education Race and Ethnicity Top Stories Fri, 20 Nov 2015 11:00:08 +0000 Jaeah Lee 289886 at http://www.motherjones.com