My white neighbor thought I was breaking into my own apartment. Nineteen cops showed up.

white

 

The place I call home no longer feels safe.

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On Sept. 6, I locked myself out of my apartment in Santa Monica, Calif. I was in a rush to get to my weekly soccer game, so I decided to go enjoy the game and deal with the lock afterward.

A few hours and a visit from a locksmith later, I was inside my apartment and slipping off my shoes when I heard a man’s voice and what sounded like a small dog whimpering outside, near my front window. I imagined a loiterer and opened the door to move him along. I was surprised to see a large dog halfway up the staircase to my door. I stepped back inside, closed the door and locked it.

I heard barking. I approached my front window and loudly asked what was going on. Peering through my blinds, I saw a gun. A man stood at the bottom of the stairs, pointing it at me. I stepped back and heard: “Come outside with your hands up.” I thought: This man has a gun and will kill me if I don’t come outside. At the same time, I thought: I’ve heard this line from policemen in movies. Although he didn’t identify himself, perhaps he’s an officer.

I left my apartment in my socks, shorts and a light jacket, my hands in the air. “What’s going on?” I asked again. Two police officers had guns trained on me. They shouted: “Who’s in there with you? How many of you are there?”

I said it was only me and, hands still raised, slowly descended the stairs, focused on one officer’s eyes and on his pistol. I had never looked down the barrel of a gun or at the face of a man with a loaded weapon pointed at me. In his eyes, I saw fear and anger. I had no idea what was happening, but I saw how it would end: I would be dead in the stairwell outside my apartment, because something about me — a 5-foot-7, 125-pound black woman — frightened this man with a gun. I sat down, trying to look even less threatening, trying to de-escalate. I again asked what was going on. I confirmed there were no pets or people inside.

I told the officers I didn’t want them in my apartment. I said they had no right to be there. They entered anyway. One pulled me, hands behind my back, out to the street. The neighbors were watching. Only then did I notice the ocean of officers. I counted 16. They still hadn’t told me why they’d come.

Later, I learned that the Santa Monica Police Department had dispatched 19 officers after one of my neighbors reported a burglary at my apartment. It didn’t matter that I told the cops I’d lived there for seven months, told them about the locksmith, offered to show a receipt for his services and my ID. It didn’t matter that I went to Duke, that I have an MBA from Dartmouth, that I’m a vice president of strategy at a multinational corporation. It didn’t matter that I’ve never had so much as a speeding ticket. It didn’t matter that I calmly, continually asked them what was happening. It also didn’t matter that I didn’t match the description of the person they were looking for — my neighbor described me as Hispanic when he called 911. What mattered was that I was a woman of color trying to get into her apartment — in an almost entirely white apartment complex in a mostly white city — and a white man who lived in another building called the cops because he’d never seen me before.

On Sept. 6, 2015, a man called the Santa Monica Police Department to report a burglary in his apartment building. This is an excerpt of that call. (Santa Monica Police Department)

After the officers and dog exited my “cleared” apartment, I was allowed back inside to speak with some of them. They asked me why I hadn’t come outside shouting, “I live here.” I told them it didn’t make sense to walk out of my own apartment proclaiming my residence when I didn’t even know what was going on. I also reminded them that they had guns pointed at me. Shouting at anyone with a gun doesn’t seem like a wise decision.

I had so many questions. Why hadn’t they announced themselves? Why had they pointed guns at me? Why had they refused to answer when I asked repeatedly what was going on? Was it protocol to send more than a dozen cops to a suspected burglary? Why hadn’t anyone asked for my ID or accepted it, especially after I’d offered it? If I hadn’t heard the dog, would I have opened the door to a gun in my face? “Maybe,” they answered.

I demanded all of their names and was given few. Some officers simply ignored me when I asked, boldly turning and walking away. Afterward, I saw them talking to neighbors, but they ignored me when I approached them again. A sergeant assured me that he’d personally provide me with all names and badge numbers.

I introduced myself to the reporting neighbor and asked if he was aware of the gravity of his actions — the ocean of armed officers, my life in danger. He stuttered about never having seen me, before snippily asking if I knew my next-door neighbor. After confirming that I did and questioning him further, he angrily responded, “I’m an attorney, so you can go f— yourself,” and walked away.

I spoke with two of the officers a little while longer, trying to wrap my mind around the magnitude and nature of their response. They wondered: Wouldn’t I want the same response if I’d been the one who called the cops? “Absolutely not,” I told them. I recounted my terror and told them how I imagined it all ending, particularly in light of the recent interactions between police and people of color. One officer admitted that it was complicated but added that people sometimes kill cops for no reason. I was momentarily speechless at this strange justification.

I got no clear answers from the police that night and am still struggling to get them, despite multiple visits, calls and e-mails to the Santa Monica Police Department requesting the names of the officers, their badge numbers, the audio from my neighbor’s call to 911 and the police report. The sergeant didn’t e-mail me the officers’ names as he promised. I was told that the audio of the call requires a subpoena and that the small army of responders, guns drawn, hadn’t merited an official report. I eventually received a list from the SMPD of 17 officers who came to my apartment that night, but the list does not include the names of two officers who handed me their business cards on the scene. I’ve filed an official complaint with internal affairs.

To many, the militarization of the police is primarily abstract or painted as occasional. That thinking allows each high-profile incident of aggressive police interaction with people of color — Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray — to be written off as an outlier.

I’m heartbroken that his careless assessment of me, based on skin color, could endanger my life. I’m heartbroken by the sense of terror I got from people whose job is supposedly to protect me. I’m heartbroken by a system that evades accountability and justifies dangerous behavior. I’m heartbroken that the place I called home no longer feels safe. I’m heartbroken that no matter how many times a story like this is told, it will happen again.

Not long ago, I was walking with a friend to a crowded restaurant when I spotted two cops in line and froze. I tried to figure out how to get around them without having to walk past them. I no longer wanted to eat there, but I didn’t want to ruin my friend’s evening. As we stood in line, 10 or so people back, my eyes stayed on them. I’ve always gone out of my way to avoid generalizations. I imagined that perhaps these two cops were good people, but I couldn’t stop thinking about what the Santa Monica police had done to me. I found a lump in my throat as I tried to separate them from the system that had terrified me. I realized that if I needed help, I didn’t think I could ask them for it.

Editor’s note: The Santa Monica Police Department told The Washington Post that 16 officers were on the scene but later provided a list of 17 names. That list does not match the list of 17 names that was eventually provided to the writer; the total number of names provided by the SMPD is 19. The department also said that it was protocol for this type of call to warrant “a very substantial police response,” and that any failure of officers to provide their names and badge numbers “would be inconsistent with the Department’s protocols and expectations.” There is an open internal affairs inquiry into the writer’s allegations of racially motivated misconduct.

 

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Violent SC Arrest Reflects How African-American Girls Are Disproportionately Disciplined in Schools, Study Author Says

The recent violent arrest of an African-American girl at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina, is prompting outrage on social media under the hashtag #AssaultAtSpringValley, and activists say the incident is just one piece of the larger problems of institutionalized racism and the school-to-prison pipeline.

Girls of color, especially black girls, “face much harsher school discipline than their white peers but are excluded from current efforts to address the school-to-prison pipeline,” according to “Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected,” a recent study from Columbia Law School and the African American Policy Forum.

The study, which cites the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), found that, on average, black girls enrolled in New York City and Boston schools are disciplined 10.5 times more than their white counterparts. The rate is even greater than that of black boys, who are disciplined an average of seven times more than white boys, according to the study.

Additionally, black girls are expelled and suspended at higher rates than white girls in New York City and Boston, according to the DOE data cited in the study. In New York City, black girls are expelled 53 times more and suspended 10 times more than their white counterparts, the study found, and in Boston, black girls are expelled 10 times more and suspended 12 times more than white girls.

The study’s lead author, Kimberlé Crenshaw, told ABC News today that the incident in South Carolina is “precisely the example of the broader, systemic problem with having turned our educational system into a school-to-prison pipeline, especially for students of color.”

“School is now a place where punishment and discipline are prioritized over serving students and educating them,” said Crenshaw, a professor of law at Columbia University who specializes in issues of race and gender. “Any moment where a student falls outside scripted behavior becomes an opportunity for law enforcement to come in, criminalizing ordinary things people do every day.”

“This girl not listening to the teacher, though sitting peacefully in her chair, has become justification for law enforcement application of severe coercion and force that led to severe bodily injury,” Crenshaw said.

After video of the incident surfaced this week showing school resource officer Ben Fields violently dragging the girl out of the classroom, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott announced on Wednesday that Fields was fired.

Though an internal investigation determined Fields was not wrong to try and remove the student from the classroom, after being asked to do so from the teacher and a school administrator, the problem was in how he attempted to do that, Lott said.

However, Fields’ lawyer Scott Hayes said in a statement that he believes Fields’ “actions were justified and lawful throughout the circumstances of which he was confronted during this incident,” and that “Fields’ actions were carried out professionally and that he was performing his job duties within the legal threshold.”

But Crenshaw said she believes the root of the problem is the actual legal system that allows people like Fields and Hayes to believe this is OK.

“I think it’s useful to recall that a lot of these statutes like ‘disrupting the classroom’ or ‘disturbing the peace’ have long been historically used to oppress and criminalize black people” such as in the case of “folks who did sit-in demonstrations during the Civil Rightsmovement,” Crenshaw said. “It’s precisely this use of state coercion that was used to maintain racial and colonial relations.”

The incident in the South Carolina is also an example of the double-discrimination of “institutionalized, systemic racism and gender bias in America” that black girls face, according to Crenshaw.

“Black girls are punished, many times violently so, for questioning and challenging authority, which is something that is often celebrated and encouraged as a sign of intelligence and critical thinking in white boys,” she said. “If a parent did to their own kids at home what school resource officer Ben Fields was seen doing on video, “that kind of behavior would land someone in prison or jail for abuse. What makes this perfectly acceptable to some is the pre-existing belief that black children deserve it.”

Crenshaw said she believes that “police officers should be taken out of schools” and that “teachers need to be trained to handle a variety of situations, not just rely on police officers as a crutch.”

“Trouble dealing with a girl looking at her cell phone or not listening is not an appropriate expenditure of a public safety resource,” she said. “We have to move back to the idea that education isn’t about teaching people to bow to rigid rules. That’s not what democracy is about.”

SOURCE

Why the Police Want Prison Reform

WE-NEED

“We need less incarceration, not more, to keep all Americans safe.”

Criminal justice reform groups have been saying this for years. This time the source is unexpected: More than 130 of the nation’s top law-enforcement officials, including big-city police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors and attorneys general, have joined the call to end to the harsh, counterproductive practices and policies that have driven America’s devastating prison boom, destroyed communities and written off an entire generation of young men of color.

In a news conference on Wednesday, officials who have spent their careers fighting crime stood up to say that too often, the aggressive approach has only made matters worse. “It’s really clear that we can reduce crime and at the same time reduce incarceration rates,” Garry McCarthy, Chicago’s police chief, said. The group includes, among others, the police chiefs of New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Houston.

It was a remarkable moment, even as it underscored the central role the police and prosecutors have long played in creating and sustaining the current incarceration crisis.

The group is focusing on three broad areas of reform, all of which have been successful in cities and states around the country.

First, more alternatives to arrest and prosecution, which would reduce the number of people entering prison in the first place. This is particularly important for substance abusers and the mentally ill, who make up disproportionate numbers of those behind bars.

Second, the reduction or elimination of overly severe sentencing laws, which have been shown to have little or no impact on future crime, even as they destroy lives and burden state budgets. The police chiefs called for some nonviolent felonies to be reclassified as misdemeanors, as California did last year, and for other small crimes to be taken off the books. They also seek the reform of mandatory-minimum sentences, and giving judges more flexibility to tailor punishments to individual circumstances.

Third, the rebuilding of relations with local communities, especially those of color, where the trust between residents and the police has completely broken down.

To achieve these laudable goals, law enforcement officials will have to limit their own extremely broad powers. It remains to be seen, for example, how the group will square its push for fewer arrests with aggressive policing philosophies like the deeply problematic “broken windows” approach, which was pioneered by New York’s police commissioner, William Bratton, a member of the new group.

And, of course, many district attorneys and law-enforcement officers strongly oppose any real reform. They have pushed back vigorously against even moderate measures, like decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. And they are among the loudest voices protesting Congress’s efforts to pass bipartisan federal sentencing reform, which the new group supports.

More than anyone else, the police understand what violent crime looks like. They risk their lives every day. If they can stand up and say that America needs to change fundamentally the way it handles crime and punishment, everyone should be listening.

SOURCE

Video Of Washington DC Cops Forcefully Detaining A Teen For #BankingWhileBlack Sparks Protests

Video Of Washington DC Cops Forcefully Detaining A Teen For #B...

Video Of Washington DC Cops Forcefully Detaining A Teen For #BankingWhileBlack Sparks Protests

Posted by Roland Martin on Wednesday, October 14, 2015

“I Feared For My Life:” Teen Tackled By D.C. Police Speaks Out, May File Civil Rights Lawsuit

During a Thursday press conference, the Washington D.C. college student who was chased, tackled, and injured by police earlier this week gave the explanation ironically used by officers in fatal shootings — the same (and valid) declaration uttered by many in communities of color when encountering those sworn to protect them.

 

He feared for his life. So he ran.

 

The statement is a familiar mainstay adopted by officers in cases where they use fatal or brutal force — and many times, wrongly so — but it’s not hard to believe that 18-year-old Jason Goolsby indeed thought he might die when a police SUV sped towards him and White officers jumped out with guns and pepper spray. Especially in the wake of a number of highly publicized police brutality incidents; one of which occurred just miles away in Baltimore this spring.

 

“HE WAS WELL AWARE OF THE FREDDIE GRAY INCIDENT, AS WELL AS NUMEROUS OTHER INCIDENT OF POLICE BRUTALITY. HE TRULY BELIEVED [THE OFFICER] WAS GOING TO SHOOT HIM,” THE TEENAGER’S LAWYER, PETER GRENIER, SAID AT THURSDAY’S PRESS CONFERENCE.

 

“I SEEN A GUN AND PEPPER SPRAY,” GOOLSBY SAID. “I FEARED FOR MY LIFE. I DIDN’T WANT TO DIE.”

Goolsby, a musician, was just standing at the ATM, contemplating whether or not to withdraw money for a studio session. But the student and his friend “were taught that when police cars drive up on black men, they have good reason to be afraid,” DCist reports. So the only logical thing for the University of the District of Columbia student to do was run.

 

And that’s what he did. But had the White woman who he opened the door for at the bank not felt “uncomfortable” at his mere presence, the incident might not have happened in the first place.

 

According to DCist:

 

AS THE 18-YEAR-OLD UDC STUDENT DECIDED WHETHER HE STILL WANTED TO TAKE OUT THE CASH, HE SAW A WHITE COUPLE HEADED TOWARD THE ATM WITH THEIR BABY, GRENIER SAID. INSTINCTIVELY, GOOLSBY OPENED THE DOOR FOR THEM TO MAKE IT EASIER TO GET THE STROLLER THROUGH.

 

ONCE THEY WERE INSIDE, HE DIDN’T EXCHANGE ANY WORDS WITH THE FAMILY. BE HE DID THINK IT WAS STRANGE WHEN THE WOMAN SAID SHE HAD FORGOTTEN SOMETHING IN THE CAR AND HEADED OUT WITHOUT DOING THEIR CLEARLY INTENDED ERRAND OF TAKING OUT MONEY.

 

D.C. POLICE SAID IN A STATEMENT THAT THEY GOT A CALL “FOR A SUSPICIOUS PERSON, THREE SUBJECTS MAY BE TRYING TO ROB PEOPLE AT THE ATM.” THE WASHINGTON POST REPORTS THAT THE 911 CALLER TOLD THE OPERATOR: “WE JUST LEFT BUT WE FELT LIKE IF WE HAD TAKEN MONEY OUT WE MIGHT’VE GOTTEN ROBBED.”

 

UNAWARE OF THE CALL, GOOSLBY THEN LEFT HIMSELF AND WAS HEADING TOWARD A 90 BUS STOP TO VISIT HIS BROTHER AT HOWARD UNIVERSITY WHEN A FAST-MOVING POLICE SUV HEADED STRAIGHT TOWARD HIM, HIS LAWYER SAID. THINKING THAT THE CAR WAS ABOUT TO RUN HIM OVER, HE QUICKLY JUMPED ON THE CURB AND WAS BOTH SCARED AND BEWILDERED WHEN THE WHITE POLICE OFFICER DRIVING THE CAR DEMANDED HE GET ON THE GROUND.

The incident, Goolsby’s lawyer suggested, was indeed about race.

 

“BEING BLACK IS NOT PROBABLE CAUSE FOR BEING ARRESTED OR DETAINED,” GRENIER SAID, ADDING THAT THEY WOULD CONSIDER FILING A LAWSUIT AFTER THEIR INVESTIGATION INTO THE INCIDENT WAS COMPLETE. “I HAVE ZERO DOUBT THAT IF THESE YOUNG MEN WERE WHITE, NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED,” HE SAID.

Grenier is currently reviewing whether the civil rights of Goolsby and the friend who videotaped the incident, Michael Brown, were violated after being profiled, detained for two hours, and then released.

 

For Goolsby, whose shoulder was injured in the melee, he just wants to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

“I want to see justice,” he said at the conference.

Want a great group Halloween costume? Look no further! This one is topical AND politically correct.

Satire or not? What you think of this video? You think it’s funny or not? How come the black kid gets white face paint but the white kid doesn’t?

White Cops And Unarmed Black Civilians Playset!

Want a great group Halloween costume? Look no further! This one is topical AND politically correct.

Posted by Funny Or Die on Friday, October 9, 2015
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