Report: Racial profiling by Nebraska law officers
OMAHA, Neb. — A new report by a civil liberties group states Nebraska law enforcement officers stop and arrest a disproportionate number of non-white drivers.
According to the report released on Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Nebraska, African-American and Hispanic drivers in the state are more likely than white drivers to be stopped, searched and arrested. The ACLU used data compiled by the Nebraska Crime Commission for the report.
As an example, the report notes that Black drivers make up 9.6 percent of stops in Lincoln, even though Blacks make up only 3.5 percent of the city’s population.
The ACLU suggests that the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center in Grand Island and individual departments implement annual training specifically designed to address racial profiling.
Brown OKs bills on ‘kill switch,’ Obama presidency
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Jerry Brown has signed bills on a wide range of topics, from smartphone protections to curriculum updates.
The governor on Monday announced signing SB962 by Sen. Mark Leno, which makes California the first state to require smartphones to offer a “kill switch.” The San Francisco Democrat said the anti-theft technology would allow smartphone owners to render their devices useless if stolen.
The governor also signed AB1912, which encourages schools to teach about the historical significance of Barack Obama becoming the nation’s first African-American president. The bill is by Assemblyman Chris Holden, a Democrat from Pasadena.
And under AB2393, counties will be allowed to increase vehicle registration fees to pay for fingerprint identification programs. The bill is by Democratic Assemblyman Marc Levine of San Rafael.
N.Y. sergeant union: No
to Dem convention bid
NEW YORK — One of New York City’s police unions announced its opposition to the city’s bid for Brooklyn to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention, saying that crime is on the rise and criticizing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s public safety policies.
The Sergeants Benevolent Association, which has 13,000 members, took out a full-page ad in Tuesday’s The New York Times saying that the city was “lurching backwards to the bad old days of high crime, danger-infested public spaces, and families that walk our streets worried for their safety.”
“Mayor de Blasio has not earned the right to play host to such an important event,” read the ad, which was an open letter from union president Edward Mullins to the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
The ad denounced de Blasio, a Democrat who took office in January, for providing “a public platform to the loudest of the city’s anti-safety agitators.” The line was a clear reference to the Rev. Al Sharpton, the fiery civil rights leader who was invited to speak at City Hall after a Black Staten Island man was placed in a fatal chokehold by a white New York Police Department (NYPD) officer.
“The NYPD is understaffed, overworked and underpaid,” the ad read. “Morale among police officers is low, and there are few signs that it will get better any time soon. Our Mayor cannot be a leader in the fight against crime without supporting his police force.”
De Blasio dismissed the ad as a negotiating tool in the union’s ongoing contract talks with the city.
“It’s clearly an effort to advance their position in terms of their contract talks,” said de Blasio before an unrelated Brooklyn news conference. “It’s an irresponsible act on their part. It’s fear-mongering to try to benefit their own position in contract talks.”
De Blasio also disputed the ad’s claim that crime was rising in the nation’s largest city. Though shootings have ticked up so far in 2014, homicides are down, as is the overall crime rate.
“Negotiate based on the facts,” de Blasio said. “Don’t try to stoke fear in the city we love.”
The police department’s top spokesman, Stephen Davis, said in a statement Mullins was entitled to his opinions, which “are not shared by the NYPD.”
The head of the city’s detectives union supported the letter, though New York’s other police unions, including the large Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, which represents rank-and-file officers, did not respond to a request for comment about the ad. A spokesman for the DNC also declined to comment.
A delegation from the DNC toured Brooklyn and its bid’s centerpiece venue, the Barclays Center, earlier this month. The other contenders for the convention are Philadelphia, Phoenix, Columbus, Ohio and Birmingham, Ala.
A decision is expected by early next year. The Republicans have announced that their convention will be in Cleveland.
Police investigating deaths
of Detroit woman, man
DETROIT — Authorities are investigating the shooting deaths of a 56-year-old Detroit woman and her 55-year-old estranged boyfriend as an apparent murder-suicide.
Detroit police said officers found the woman’s body on Tuesday afternoon in the basement of her northwest side home. She’d been shot multiple times, and relatives said she hadn’t been seen since Saturday.
Southfield police said they found the man’s body on Tuesday beneath Southfield Freeway overpass.
Southfield Deputy Chief Nick Louissia said Wednesday the man shot himself once in the chest.
Detroit police officer Jennifer Moreno said investigators haven’t definitely concluded that it’s a murder-suicide.
5th arrest in New Orleans
drive-by shooting case
NEW ORLEANS — Police in New Orleans report a fifth arrest in connection with a drive-by shooting that killed two people and seriously injured a mother and two children.
Police said 34-year-old Michael Finnie was arrested on Wednesday in Chalmette on two counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted first-degree murder. Police said Finnie is believed to be the driver of the vehicle used in the Aug. 10 shooting.
Police have said 33-year-old Terrance McBride was the shooters’ target. McBride and 16-year-old Jasmine Anderson were killed. Five others were hit by gunfire including a mother and her sons, ages 2 and 4, who were seriously injured.
Others arrested include the alleged gunmen: 23-year-old Joseph Nelson III and 20-year-old Blair Taylor. Each faces charges of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.
Memphis brings market
wine votes to 75
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Election officials have certified that Memphis voters have submitted enough signatures for a November referendum on supermarket wine sales, bringing the total number of communities holding a vote on the issue to 75.
Currently, wine can only be sold in liquor stores. But a state law that passed this year will allow it to be sold by grocery and convenience stores starting in July 2016 if citizens vote to approve the change.
Red White and Food, a coalition that lobbied for the change, said on Tuesday that certifications this week in Chattanooga and Memphis brought the statewide total to 75. The submission deadline was Thursday. Only communities that currently allow package stores or liquor by the drink are eligible to hold votes.
Ohio’s largest county
records 90 heroin deaths
CLEVELAND — The medical examiner in Ohio’s largest county said 90 people died of heroin-related overdoses in the first half of the year, a slight decrease from the same time period a year ago.
Dr. Thomas Gilson said he’s encouraged the numbers in Cuyahoga County have dropped from 97 deaths during the first half of 2013 but remains concerned about the large number of young victims.
Data released by Gilson on Tuesday show women accounted for about one in every five heroin-related deaths this year, the lowest level since 2010.
Gilson said eight of every ten victims were white, just under half lived in Cleveland and a quarter were ages 19 to 29.
Last year the county recorded 195 heroin-related deaths, shattering the previous record of 161 fatal overdoses in 2012.
Ocala officials seek repeal
of ‘saggy pants’ ban
OCALA, Fla. — Two Ocala officials want to repeal the city’s so-called “saggy pants ban,” an ordinance that prohibits anyone on city property from wearing pants that sag well below the waistline and expose undergarments.
The councilmen, Jim Hilty and Brent Malever, initially voted for the ban, but now say it’s too ambiguous to enforce. The mayor has called for a special meeting on Tuesday to address the issue.
The ordinance, proposed by Councilwoman Mary Sue Rich, has come under fire from the NAACP and others who say it targets young Black men.
The Ocala Star-Banner reported that Rich, who is Black, denied the law targets any one group and said the saggy pants are disrespectful.
Violators can be fined up to $500 and spend up to 60 days in jail.
Nevada activists protest
Missouri police shooting
RENO, Nev. — Activists and leaders of the NAACP in Nevada joined the call on Monday for the immediate arrest of a Ferguson police officer who shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old Missouri man more than two weeks ago, triggering raucous street protests and police patrols in the St. Louis suburb.
Officials for the Nevada NAACP and the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN) delivered letters with their demands to the U.S. attorney’s offices in Reno and Las Vegas just hours after Michael Brown was eulogized on Monday at his funeral in St. Louis.
In addition to arresting officer Darren Wilson, the Nevadans called for the firing of the Ferguson police chief and the appointment of a special prosecutor in the case. They also want U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to launch a nationwide investigation of “systemic police brutality and harassment” that they say is widespread in minority communities nationally.
“Sadly, cases of racialized profiling and harassment keep happening again and again and again across the country,” said Bob Fulkerson, PLAN’s state director. “We are asking Eric Holder to help break this cycle.”
Pat Gallimore, 2nd vice president of the Reno-Sparks NAACP, brought her grandson, Boston, in a stroller to a brief demonstration in front of the U.S. attorney’s office in Reno with another half dozen activists who held up photographs of Brown.
“I got racially profiled just the other day,” Gallimore said. “My bad. I was driving a raggedy car. I had just backed out of my driveway and was pulled over. It happens all the time if you are driving around and you are Black. We have to put a stop to it.”
Brown was unarmed when he was shot Aug. 9 by Wilson, who is white. A grand jury is considering evidence in the case, and a federal investigation is also underway.
— Compiled from the Associated Press
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