For Prison Radio:
"The Last Vestiges of Slavery in America, The Criminal 'Just Us' System"
By Kevin Cooper, Innocent Man on Death Row, San Quentin, October 2015
Mumia Abu-Jamal's Fourth of July
Frackville, Pennsylvania—Tens- or even hundreds-of-thousands of Americans, like those in the visiting room of the State Correctional Institution at Mahanoy, drove often for hours on the Fourth of July weekend to visit relatives or friends who are locked in cages. Millions suffered the painful absence this weekend of a father, a mother, a brother, a sister, a son, a daughter or a friend. These people, mostly poor people of color, understand a dark truth about the cruelty and ultimate intentions of the corporate state. They know that "freedom," "justice" and "liberty," especially if you are poor, are empty slogans.
"We live in one of the most un-free systems on earth," said the Black revolutionary and author Mumia Abu-Jamal, whom I visited Saturday, July 2, 2016. "Mass incarceration is a reality endured by millions of people in prison and in the systems of repression that exist outside of prison. What does freedom mean to poor people who cannot walk freely down a street? What does freedom mean when they cannot find work? What does freedom mean when there is no justice in the courts? What does freedom mean when Black people cannot attend a Bible study in a church without the fear of being murdered? Where is this American freedom they keep telling us about? I don't see it. Black folks are more in danger, and being killed in even greater numbers, than during the reign of terror that was lynching and Jim Crow."
Abu-Jamal, who is fighting off hepatitis C that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and the privatized prison medical service refuse to treat, scoffed when I asked him about the differences between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
"Donald Trump is the real face of the ugly American empire," he said. "Yes, he ain't pretty. He ain't Black. He ain't a woman. He has a fake tan and orange hair. His rhetoric is cruder. But his ideas are the same. The two major political parties are the abject servants of Wall Street and American empire über alles. They each support militarism, at home and abroad. They each support the indiscriminant murder of civilians from drones. They each support the worldwide archipelago of secret prisons. They each support mass incarceration of poor people, the suspension of habeas corpus and torture. It is only their talk that is different. What is the difference between being beaten up by a Black cop or a white cop? The only solution is to rise up to stop the cops from beatin' our asses and shootin' us in the streets, our homes and our cars. I can assure you voting for Hillary Clinton won't make a damn bit of difference. The Ku Klux Klan, after all, once served as the unofficial armed wing of the Democratic Party. You can't invest hope in an organization with a history like that.
"The Black political elites, including Barack Obama, are powerless," he went on. "They are emblems. They are not the voice of Black America. They are like a ventriloquist's dummy. They mouth the same words the white corporate masters mouth. They do not make white America uncomfortable. They do not name unpleasant truths. They never lifted their voices to denounce Bill Clinton's decision to massively expand our system of mass incarceration. And they do not lift their voices now. They go right along with the repression. And they are well paid for it."
Abu-Jamal, a journalist and author of books such as Live From Death Row and a former member of the Black Panther Party, is serving a life sentence in the killing of a Philadelphia police officer. Despite flagrant irregularities in his trial and evidence tampering, he was sentenced to death in 1982. His sentence was later commuted to life without parole. He spent 30 years on death row.
The prison's visiting room, with a wall lined by vending machines that only the visitors were allowed to use, was crowded with families. Children played in groups or ran across the floor, darting in and out of rows of chairs.
A guard, seated on a raised platform, periodically bellowed through a loudspeaker. He recited every admonishment twice. "Children must be supervised by an adult. Children must be supervised by an adult."
"… Like every prisoner must be supervised by a prison guard who is a racist and an idiot," Abu-Jamal muttered when one announcement ended.
Abu-Jamal understands that radical change exacts a high price. It takes years, sometimes decades, to achieve. It requires dedication, self-sacrifice, unwavering belief in a new vision of society, a trenchant understanding of the mechanisms of power, a willingness to suffer persecution, go to jail and even, when the elites truly feel threatened, face the daily possibility of being murdered. No political revolution was ever achieved without these qualities and this acceptance of risks and steadfastness.
"Black people will probably vote for Clinton," he said with resignation, "but this symbolizes the emptiness of hope. They fear Trump. They should look closely at the pictures from Trump's third wedding. Hillary Clinton is in the front pew of the church. Hillary, Bill, Trump and Melania are shown embracing at Trump's estate afterwards during the reception. These people are part of the same elite circle. They represent the same financial interests. They work for the same empire. They have grown rich from the system. The words they shout back and forth during political campaigns are meaningless. Trump or Clinton will deliver the same political result. They will serve, like Obama, corporate and military power. And if they were not willing to serve these centers of power they would not be allowed to run. Their job is to manufacture hope during election campaigns that ultimately end in betrayal. This is why they spend billions on elections. They need to feed the illusion that our voices matter, that we are participants in their closed systems of power.
"The liberals and the Democrats are in many ways more dangerous than the right wing," he said. "Repression and neoliberalism are more effectively instituted by Democrats such as Bill and Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. They sound reasonable. But because what they do is hidden it is more insidious and often more deadly."
"Do not leave your trash in the cup holders. Do not leave your trash in the cup holders," the loudspeaker blared.
Abu-Jamal looked toward the guards, all of whom were white.
"Bill Clinton developed a rural employment program called prisons," he said. "Prisons are the economic lifeblood of these poor white communities. The only time these people have any contact with Black people is when they put them in cells or escort them in shackles. Prisons are the gift William Jefferson Clinton gave to poor, rural whites that keeps on giving."
"The system is broken," Abu-Jamal said. "It has to be torn up, root and branch. And this has to be done from the bottom up. If we keep electing and re-electing these puppets we will keep getting played. We have to form political parties that reflect our political ideas. We have to stop surrendering to false parties and politicians that do not represent us."
He said he places his hopes in groups such as Black Lives Matter that have taken to the streets. He said that if he could he would be in the streets of Philadelphia, where he was raised, during the Democratic convention.
"This is our hour of protest," he said. "We have to physically resist. We will reclaim our power when we say no, when we refuse to cooperate. We must, in everything we do, defy the architects of imperialism, neoliberalism and mass incarceration. We cannot enable, in any way, this system to perpetuate itself.
"It is time to raise holy hell," he went on. "We need to demonstrate in the streets. We need to use megaphones. We need to hold teach-ins. We need to sell radical books. We need to make the streets our commons."
Again the loudspeaker boomed: "Children must put away the toys they took out of the children's room. Children must put away the toys they took out of the children's room."
Prisons, like the rest of the society, have been privatized. Prisoners are billed for an array of services and items that once were the responsibility of the state. Corporations, which make billions off the prison system, run phone services, food services, medical services and commissaries. They have established for-profit prisons and detention centers. Prices for basic services and necessities such as shoes have soared.
"Services that were once the responsibility of the state have been outsourced to corporations, as in the rest of society," said Abu-Jamal, who works as a trash collector. "We are worth what we are able to pay. If we pay nothing, in their eyes, we are worth nothing."
"When [prisoners] fill out a sick call slip, a request for medical attention, we have to also sign a cash slip," he said. "The medical visit costs five or ten dollars. This may not sound like a lot. But a prison job only pays $30 a month. Prices are constantly going up. Wages in prisons have remained the same since the 1980s. Most prisoners can only go to buy items from the commissary after begging their mothers, grandmothers or girlfriends for money."
"In February, Global Tel Link began selling electronic tablets in the prison for $150," he said. "They charge 25 cents for an email and $1.80 to download a song. And you have to pay them in advance. The state pays Wexford Health Services $298 million a year to run the medical services. The more medical services are cut, the greater the profit. You go to medical and most of the time they tell you to go to the commissary to buy Tylenol or throat lozenges. If you fall in the yard and need a wheelchair they charge you $25. If you can't sit up they charge you $75 for a motorized cart. They will not treat my hepatitis C, saying it is not advanced enough, but of course it is because the medicine is expensive. It costs between $87,000 and $95,000. A price like this exists solely to enrich pharmaceutical companies. I could get the same drug from India for a few thousand dollars. There is a guy in my block, Joseph Kish Sr., with stage-four hepatitis C and cirrhosis. They have denied him treatment because, they said, he will get out soon. There is always a reason not to treat us. Prisons have replaced state psychiatric hospitals. MHM Correctional Services is paid $89 million a year to handle the mentally ill. It does little more than medicate them. And remember most guards, especially with overtime, make more money, about $100,00 a year, than a full professor at a university."
"They are doing to us on the inside what they are doing to us on the outside," he said. "They are letting poor people die or killing them for profit. Things will get worse and worse until people can't take it anymore. These corporations won't stop. No one in the political class will make them stop. It is up to us."
—Information Clearing House, July 4, 2016
Orlando response; Pride in Chelsea Manning
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We must not let the Orlando nightclub terror further strangle our civil liberties: Chelsea's new op-ed
After last weekend's tragedy in Orlando,Chelsea Manning cautions us that our response to such violence can be also be dangerous in her June 13th Guardianopinion article.
"We must grieve and mourn and support each other," Manning states, "but in our grief and outrage we must resist any temptations to let this attack – or any attack – trigger anti-Muslim foreign policy, attacks on our civil liberties or as an excuse to descend into xenophobia and Islamophobia."
"We are not safe and secure when the government uses us as pawns to perpetrate violence against others."
Chelsea Manning, Guardian OpEd
June 13, 2016
This morning, I woke up in my cell to an even more shattered and fractured world. We are lost. We are devastated. We are bewildered. We are hurt. And we are angry. I haven't been this angry since losing a soldier in my unit to an RPG attack in southeastern Baghdad during my deployment in Iraq in 2010.
An attack like this is carefully planned and executed to maximize attention by inflaming the passions of a helpless public..
Chelsea can continue to be a powerful voice for reform, but we need your help to make that happen. Help us support Chelsea in prison, maximize her voice in the media, continue public education, fund her legal appeals team, and build a powerful movement for presidential pardon.
Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:
A. EVENTS AND ACTIONS
B. ARTICLES IN FULL
A. EVENTS AND ACTIONS
Defying the Tomb: Selected Prison Writings and Art of Kevin "Rashid" Johnson featuring exchanges with an Outlaw Kindle Edition
Join the Fight to Free Rev. Pinkney!
Click HERE to view in browser
Today is the 406th day that Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, Michigan
languishes in prison doing felony time for a misdemeanor crime he did not
commit. Today is also the day that Robert McKay, a spokesperson for the
Free Rev. Pinkney campaign, gave testimony before United Nations
representatives about the plight of Rev. Pinkney at a hearing held in
Chicago. The hearing was called in order to shed light upon the
mistreatment of African-Americans in the United States and put it on an
international stage. And yet as the UN representatives and audience heard
of the injustices in the Pinkney case many gasped in disbelief and asked
with frowns on their faces, "how is this possible?" But disbelief quickly
disappeared when everyone realized these were the same feelings they had
when they first heard of Flint and we all know what happened in Flint. FREE
REV. PINKNEY NOW.
Please send letters to:
Marquette Branch Prison
Rev. Edward Pinkney N-E-93 #294671
1960 US Hwy 41 South
Marquette, MI 49855
Please donate at http://bhbanco.org (Donate button) or send checks to BANCO:
c/o Dorothy Pinkney
1940 Union St.
Benton Harbor, MI 49022
On December 15, 2014 the Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, Michigan was thrown into prison for 2.5 to 10 years. This 66-year-old leading African American activist was tried and convicted in front of an all-white jury and racist white judge and prosecutor for supposedly altering 5 dates on a recall petition against the mayor of Benton Harbor.
The prosecutor, with the judge's approval, repeatedly told the jury "you don't need evidence to convict Mr. Pinkney." And ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE WAS EVER PRESENTED THAT TIED REV. PINKNEY TO THE 'ALTERED' PETITIONS. Rev. Pinkney was immediately led away in handcuffs and thrown into Jackson Prison.
This is an outrageous charge. It is an outrageous conviction. It is an even more outrageous sentence! It must be appealed.
With your help supporters need to raise $20,000 for Rev. Pinkney's appeal.
Checks can be made out to BANCO (Black Autonomy Network Community Organization). This is the organization founded by Rev. Pinkney. Mail them to: Mrs. Dorothy Pinkney, 1940 Union Street, Benton Harbor, MI 49022.
Donations can be accepted on-line at bhbanco.org – press the donate button.
For information on the decade long campaign to destroy Rev. Pinkney go to bhbanco.org and workers.org(search "Pinkney").
We urge your support to the efforts to Free Rev. Pinkney!Ramsey Clark – Former U.S. attorney general,
Cynthia McKinney – Former member of U.S. Congress,
Lynne Stewart – Former political prisoner and human rights attorney
Ralph Poynter – New Abolitionist Movement,
Abayomi Azikiwe – Editor, Pan-African News Wire<
Larry Holmes – Peoples Power Assembly,
David Sole – Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice
Sara Flounders – International Action Center
MESSAGE FROM REV. PINKNEY
I am now in Marquette prison over 15 hours from wife and family, sitting in prison for a crime that was never committed. Judge Schrock and Mike Sepic both admitted there was no evidence against me but now I sit in prison facing 30 months. Schrock actually stated that he wanted to make an example out of me. (to scare Benton Harbor residents even more...) ONLY IN AMERICA. I now have an army to help fight Berrien County. When I arrived at Jackson state prison on Dec. 15, I met several hundred people from Detroit, Flint, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids. Some people recognized me. There was an outstanding amount of support given by the prison inmates. When I was transported to Marquette Prison it took 2 days. The prisoners knew who I was. One of the guards looked me up on the internet and said, "who would believe Berrien County is this racist."
Background to Campaign to free Rev. Pinkney
Michigan political prisoner the Rev. Edward Pinkney is a victim of racist injustice. He was sentenced to 30 months to 10 years for supposedly changing the dates on 5 signatures on a petition to recall Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower.
No material or circumstantial evidence was presented at the trial that would implicate Pinkney in the purported5 felonies. Many believe that Pinkney, a Berrien County activist and leader of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO), is being punished by local authorities for opposing the corporate plans of Whirlpool Corp, headquartered in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
In 2012, Pinkney and BANCO led an "Occupy the PGA [Professional Golfers' Association of America]" demonstration against a world-renowned golf tournament held at the newly created Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. The course was carved out of Jean Klock Park, which had been donated to the city of Benton Harbor decades ago.
Berrien County officials were determined to defeat the recall campaign against Mayor Hightower, who opposed a program that would have taxed local corporations in order to create jobs and improve conditions in Benton Harbor, a majority African-American municipality. Like other Michigan cities, it has been devastated by widespread poverty and unemployment.
The Benton Harbor corporate power structure has used similar fraudulent charges to stop past efforts to recall or vote out of office the racist white officials, from mayor, judges, prosecutors in a majority Black city. Rev Pinkney who always quotes scripture, as many Christian ministers do, was even convicted for quoting scripture in a newspaper column. This outrageous conviction was overturned on appeal. We must do this again!
To sign the petition in support of the Rev. Edward Pinkney, log on to: tinyurl.com/ps4lwyn.
Contributions for Rev. Pinkney's defense can be sent to BANCO at Mrs Dorothy Pinkney, 1940 Union St., Benton Harbor, MI 49022
Or you can donate on-line at bhbanco.org.
State Seeks to Remove Innocent PA Lifer's Attorney! Free Corey Walker!
The PA Office of the Attorney General (OAG) filed legal action to remove Corey Walker's attorney, Rachel Wolkenstein, in November 2014. On Tuesday, February 9, 2016 the evidentiary hearing to terminate Wolkenstein as Corey Walker's pro hac vice lawyer continues before Judge Lawrence Clark of the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas in Harrisburg, PA.
Walker, assisted by Wolkenstein, filed three sets of legal papers over five months in 2014 with new evidence of Walker's innocence and that the prosecution and police deliberately used false evidence to convict him of murder. Two weeks after Wolkenstein was granted pro hac vice status, the OAG moved against her and Walker.
The OAG claims that Wolkenstein's political views and prior legal representation of Mumia Abu-Jamal and courtroom arrest by the notorious Judge Albert Sabo makes it "intolerable" for her to represent Corey Walker in the courts of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Over the past fifteen months the OAG has effectively stopped any judicial action on the legal challenges of Corey Walker and his former co-defendant, Lorenzo Johnson against their convictions and sentences to life imprisonment without parole while it proceeds in its attempts to remove Wolkenstein.
This is retaliation against Corey Walker who is innocent and framed. Walker and his attorney won't stop until they thoroughly expose the police corruption and deliberate presentation of false evidence to convict Corey Walker and win his freedom.
This outrageous attack on Corey Walker's fundamental right to his lawyer of choice and challenge his conviction must cease. The evidence of his innocence and deliberate prosecutorial frame up was suppressed for almost twenty years. Corey Walker must be freed!
Read: Jim Crow Justice – The Frame-up Of Corey Walker by Charles Brover
Go to FreeCoreyWalker.org to provide help and get more information.
TAKE ACTION: Mumia is sick
Judge Robert Mariani of the U.S. District Court has issued an order in Mumia's case, granting Mumia's lawyers Bret Grote and Robert Boyle's motion to supplement the record.
Hepatitis C is a progressive disease that attacks Mumia's organs, skin and liver. Unless the court orders the new hepatitis C treatment - one pill a day for 12 weeks, with a 95% cure rate - Mumia's health will remain at serious risk.
Take Action for Mumia
Call prison officials to demand immediate treatment!
SUPPORTERS OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL, AND FREE QUALITY HEALTH CARE FOR ALL:
The Oasis Clinic in Oakland, CA, which treats patients with Hepatitis-C (HCV), demands an end to the outrageous price-gouging of Big Pharma corporations, like Gilead Sciences, which hike-up the cost for essential, life-saving medications such as the cure for the deadly Hepatitis-C virus, in order to reap huge profits. The Oasis Clinic's demand is:
PUBLIC HEALTH, NOT CORPORATE WEALTH!
PUBLIC HEALTH, NOT CORPORATE WEALTH!
IMMEDIATE AND FREE TREATMENT FOR ALL HCV-INFECTED PRISONERS!
NO EXECUTION BY MEDICAL NEGLECT!
JAIL DRUG PROFITEERS, FREE MUMIA!
This message from:
Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
PO Box 16222 • Oakland CA 94610 • www.laboractionmumia.org
06 January 2016
Mumia Is Innocent! Free Mumia!
Imam Jamil (H.Rap Brown) moved
Some two weeks ago Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown) was moved by bus from USP Canaan in Waymart, PA. to USP Tucson, Arizona. His mailing address is: USP Tucson United States Penitentiary P.O. Box Tucson, AZ. 85734 (BOP number 99974555)
Sign the Petition:
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, THE Bureau of Prisons, The Governor of Georgia
We are aware of a review being launched of criminal cases to determine whether any defendants were wrongly convicted and or deserve a new trail because of flawed forensic evidence and or wrongly reported evidence. It was stated in the Washington Post in April of 2012 that Justice Department Officials had known for years that flawed forensic work led to convictions of innocent people. We seek to have included in the review of such cases that of Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin. We understand that all cases reviewed will include the Innocence Project. We look forward to your immediate attention to these overdue wrongs.
ASAP: The Forgotten Imam Project
P.O. Box 373
Four Oaks, NC 27524
Luqman Abdullah-ibn Al-Sidiq
When Drone Whistleblowers are Under Attack,
What Do We Do?
STAND UP, FIGHT BACK!
We honor Stephan, Michael, Brandon and Cian!
These four former ex-drone pilots have courageously spoken out publicly against the U.S. drone assassination program. They have not been charged with any crime, yet the U.S. government is retaliating against these truth-tellers by freezing all of their bank and credit card accounts. WE MUST BACK THEM UP!
Listen to them here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43z6EMy8T28
PLEASE HELP THEM:
1. Sign up on this support network:
2. Sign this petition NOW:
3. Call and email officials TODAY, listed below and on FB site.
4. Ask your organization if they would join our network.
Statement of Support for Drone Whistleblowers
(Code Pink Women for Peace: East Bay, Golden Gate, and S.F. Chapters 11.28.15)
Code Pink Women for Peace support the very courageous actions of four former US drone operators, Michael Haas, Brandon Bryant, Cian Westmoreland, and Stephan Lewis, who have come under increasing attack for disclosing information about "widespread corruption and institutionalized indifference to civilian casualties that characterize the drone program." As truth tellers, they stated in a public letter to President Obama that the killing of innocent civilians has been one of the most "devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world."* These public disclosures come only after repeated attempts to work privately within official channels failed.
Despite the fact that none of the four has been charged with criminal activity, all had their bank accounts and credit cards frozen. This retaliatory response by our government is consistent with the extrajudicial nature of US drone strikes.
We must support these former drone operators who have taken great risks to stop the drone killing. Write or call your US Senators, your US Representatives, President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, and CIA Director John Brennan demanding that Michael Haas, Brandon Bryant, Cian Westmoreland, and Stephan Lewis be applauded, not punished, for revealing the criminal and extrajudicial nature of drone strikes that has led to so many civilian deaths.
URGENT: Sign and Share NOW! Drone Whistleblower Protection Petition
Contacting your Government
- White House comment line: 202-456-1111
- Email President Obama: firstname.lastname@example.org and cc email@example.com
- White House switchboard: 202-456-1414 for telephone numbers of your Senators and Representatives.
- Email your Senators and Representatives:
-Contact Ashton Carter Secretary of Defense: Go to http://www.defense.gov/About-DoD/Biographies/BiographyView/Article/602689 and select appropriate icon.
- Contact John Brennan, CIA Director: Go to
https://www.cia.gov/about-cia/leadership/john-o-brennan.html and select appropriate icon.
For more information on the 4 Drone Whistleblowers:
(Must see Democracy Now interview with the 4 drone operators)
Code Pink Women for Peace: firstname.lastname@example.org
Commute Kevin Cooper's Death Sentence
Sign the Petition:
Urge Gov. Jerry Brown to commute Kevin Cooper's death sentence. Cooper has always maintained his innocence of the 1983 quadruple murder of which he was convicted. In 2009, five federal judges signed a dissenting opinion warning that the State of California "may be about to execute an innocent man." Having exhausted his appeals in the US courts, Kevin Cooper's lawyers have turned to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights to seek remedy for what they maintain is his wrongful conviction, and the inadequate trial representation, prosecutorial misconduct and racial discrimination which have marked the case. Amnesty International opposes all executions, unconditionally.
"The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man." - Judge William A. Fletcher, 2009 dissenting opinion on Kevin Cooper's case
Kevin Cooper has been on death row in California for more than thirty years.
In 1985, Cooper was convicted of the murder of a family and their house guest in Chino Hills. Sentenced to death, Cooper's trial took place in an atmosphere of racial hatred — for example, an effigy of a monkey in a noose with a sign reading "Hang the N*****!" was hung outside the venue of his preliminary hearing.
Take action to see that Kevin Cooper's death sentence is commuted immediately.
Cooper has consistently maintained his innocence.
Following his trial, five federal judges said: "There is no way to say this politely. The district court failed to provide Cooper a fair hearing."
Since 2004, a dozen federal appellate judges have indicated their doubts about his guilt.
Tell California authorities: The death penalty carries the risk of irrevocable error. Kevin Cooper's sentence must be commuted.
In 2009, Cooper came just eight hours shy of being executed for a crime that he may not have committed. Stand with me today in reminding the state of California that the death penalty is irreversible — Kevin Cooper's sentence must be commuted immediately.
Senior Death Penalty Campaigner
Amnesty International USA
Kevin Cooper: An Innocent Victim of Racist Frame-Up - from the Fact Sheet at: www.freekevincooper.org
Kevin Cooper is an African-American man who was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death in 1985 for the gruesome murders of a white family in Chino Hills, California: Doug and Peggy Ryen and their daughter Jessica and their house- guest Christopher Hughes. The Ryens' 8 year old son Josh, also attacked, was left for dead but survived.
Convicted in an atmosphere of racial hatred in San Bernardino County CA, Kevin Cooper remains under a threat of imminent execution in San Quentin. He has never received a fair hearing on his claim of innocence. In a dissenting opinion in 2009, five federal judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals signed a 82 page dissenting opinion that begins: "The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man." 565 F.3d 581.
There is significant evidence that exonerates Mr. Cooper and points toward other suspects:
The coroner who investigated the Ryen murders concluded that the murders took four minutes at most and that the murder weapons were a hatchet, a long knife, an ice pick and perhaps a second knife. How could a single person, in four or fewer minutes, wield three or four weapons, and inflict over 140 wounds on five people, two of whom were adults (including a 200 pound ex-marine) who had loaded weapons near their bedsides?
The sole surviving victim of the murders, Josh Ryen, told police and hospital staff within hours of the murders that the culprits were "three white men." Josh Ryen repeated this statement in the days following the crimes. When he twice saw Mr. Cooper's picture on TV as the suspected attacker, Josh Ryen said "that's not the man who did it."
Josh Ryen's description of the killers was corroborated by two witnesses who were driving near the Ryens' home the night of the murders. They reported seeing three white men in a station wagon matching the description of the Ryens' car speeding away from the direction of the Ryens' home.
These descriptions were corroborated by testimony of several employees and patrons of a bar close to the Ryens' home, who saw three white men enter the bar around midnight the night of the murders, two of whom were covered in blood, and one of whom was wearing coveralls.
The identity of the real killers was further corroborated by a woman who, shortly after the murders were discovered, alerted the sheriff's department that her boyfriend, a convicted murderer, left blood-spattered coveralls at her home the night of the murders. She also reported that her boyfriend had been wearing a tan t-shirt matching a tan t-shirt with Doug Ryen's blood on it recovered near the bar. She also reported that her boyfriend owned a hatchet matching the one recovered near the scene of the crime, which she noted was missing in the days following the murders; it never reappeared; further, her sister saw that boyfriend and two other white men in a vehicle that could have been the Ryens' car on the night of the murders.
Lacking a motive to ascribe to Mr. Cooper for the crimes, the prosecution claimed that Mr. Cooper, who had earlier walked away from custody at a minimum security prison, stole the Ryens' car to escape to Mexico. But the Ryens had left the keys in both their cars (which were parked in the driveway), so there was no need to kill them to steal their car. The prosecution also claimed that Mr. Cooper needed money, but money and credit cards were found untouched and in plain sight at the murder scene.
The jury in 1985 deliberated for seven days before finding Mr. Cooper guilty. One juror later said that if there had been one less piece of evidence, the jury would not have voted to convict.
The evidence the prosecution presented at trial tying Mr. Cooper to the crime scene has all been discredited… (Continue reading this document at: http://www.savekevincooper.org/_new_freekevincooperdotorg/TEST/Scripts/DataLibraries/upload/KC_FactSheet_2014.pdf)
This message from the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. July 2015
CANCEL ALL STUDENT DEBT!
Sign the Petition:
Dear President Obama, Senators, and Members of Congress:
Americans now owe $1.3 trillion in student debt. Eighty-six percent of that money is owed to the United States government. This is a crushing burden for more than 40 million Americans and their families.
I urge you to take immediate action to forgive all student debt, public and private.
American Federation of Teachers
Campaign for America's Future
Democracy for America
RH Reality Check
Student Debt Crisis
Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson
Write: Lorenzo Johnson
301 Morea Rd.
Frackville, PA 17932
Email: Through JPay using the code:
Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC
Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com
B. ARTICLES IN FULL
1) New Cars Are Too Expensive for the Typical Family, Study Finds
AS prices for new vehicles continue to rise, the cost of an average new car may be a stretch for typical households.
A new analysis from Bankrate.com found that a median-income household could not afford the average price of a new vehicle in any of the 50 largest cities in the country, though cars are more affordable in some cities than others.
"The new reality is that cars are becoming more expensive," said Steve Pounds, a personal finance analyst for Bankrate. "People are having to make tough decisions about financing."
The average price of a new car or light truck in 2016 is about $34,000, according to Kelley Blue Book. That's in part because new cars are loaded with helpful but expensive safety features like collision-avoidance systems.
Bankrate calculated an "affordable" purchase price for major cities, using median incomes from United States census data, and factoring in costs for sales taxes and insurance. In San Jose, Calif. — the heart of Silicon Valley — the median income is about $84,000, and an "affordable" new car purchase price is about $33,000 — close to, but still below, the average new car price.
In lower-income cities, however, affordable purchase prices for a typical family are far below the average cost of a new car. In Hartford, Conn., where the median income is about $29,000, an affordable purchase price is about $8,000 — about a quarter of the average new-car price.
That sort of squeeze helps explain why many people are borrowing more, for longer periods of time, to finance a car purchase. Experian Automotive said that in the first quarter of this year, the proportion of new cars bought with the help of financing rose to more than 86 percent, and the average loan amount topped $30,000, which is the highest since Experian began tracking the data. The average term for a new-car loan is now 68 months — about five and a half years — and some loans stretch as long as seven years.
(Auto leases are also becoming more popular because they often offer lower payments than a traditional car loan. Leases accounted for more than 30 percent of new-car transactions in the first quarter, Experian reported. With a lease, the customer makes payments for a set period of time, then typically can choose either to return the car to the dealer or to buy it.)
Longer-term loans carry risks. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau warns that borrowers who take out long-term loans end up paying more for the car over all, and also run a greater risk of being "upside down" on the loans, meaning owing more than the car is worth.
Bankrate noted that a traditional rule of thumb is the "20/4/10" rule: Car buyers should aim to put down at least 20 percent in cash, take out a loan for no more than four years and keep the cost of principal, interest and insurance to no more than 10 percent of household income.
If you have to abandon those guidelines, the car you want may simply be too expensive. "To me, if you need to finance to five, six or seven years, you can't afford it," said Jeff Bartlett, deputy cars editor at Consumer Reports.
Ron Montoya, senior consumer advice editor with Edmunds.com, noted that interest rates were still low for new-car loans, but advised shoppers to keep the loan term at no more than five years. (Edmunds has an online calculator that you can use to estimate how much you can afford to pay. He also recommends checking the cost of insuring a specific model before buying it, so you won't be shocked when you get your insurance bill after you've made the purchase.
Here are some questions and answers about buying a new car:
When is the best time to shop for a new car?
While car sales may abound on holiday weekends like the Fourth of July, shopping on a run-of-the-mill weekday may actually be preferable. There is less traffic to deal with when taking test drives, and sales representatives have more time to answer your questions. "Buy when it's right for you," Mr. Bartlett said, not just because dealers are promoting incentives.
Mr. Pounds suggests shopping when car manufacturers are beginning to introduce new model years — typically in late summer or early fall. Prices may be more reasonable for the outgoing model year at that time. But be aware that you may have fewer vehicles to choose from.
How can I make sure I'm choosing the right financing option?
People are often diligent about researching the type of car they want to buy, but they're much less likely to do their homework when it comes to financing the purchase, according to a report this month from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
To help consumers comparison-shop, the bureau has created an auto loan "shopping sheet" that can help you calculate the total cost of a car loan and compare offers.
Should I buy a used car instead?
Used cars, particularly those that are just two or three years old, often offer the best value, Mr. Bartlett said. Not only is the initial price lower, but costs like collision insurance and taxes are also lower. If getting the latest safety features, like automatic braking, is a priority, however, make sure to look only at very recent model years. And be sure, he said, to have a used car inspected by a reputable mechanic before you buy it.
2) Drone Strike Statistics Answer Few Questions, and Raise Many
By SCOTT SHANE JULY 3, 2016
WASHINGTON — The promise of the armed drone has always been precision: The United States could kill just the small number of dangerous terrorists it wanted to kill, leaving nearby civilians unharmed.
But the Obama administration's unprecedented release last week of statistics on counterterrorism strikes underscored how much more complicated the results of the drone program have been.
It showed that even inside the government, there is no certainty about whom it has killed. And it highlighted the skepticism with which official American claims on targeted killing are viewed by human rights groups and independent experts, including those who believe the strikes have eliminated some very dangerous people.
"It's an important step — it's an acknowledgment that transparency is needed," said Rachel Stohl, an author of two studies of the drone program and a senior associate at the Stimson Center, a research group in Washington. "But I don't feel like we have enough information to analyze whether this tactic is working and helping us achieve larger strategic aims."
More broadly, President Obama's move to open a window on the secret counterterrorism program takes place against a background of escalating jihadist violence that can be called up by a list of cities that includes Paris; San Bernardino, Calif.; Brussels; Orlando, Fla.; Kabul, Afghanistan; Istanbul; Baghdad; and now Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Apart from the dispute over the number of civilian deaths, the notion that targeted drone strikes are an adequate answer to the terrorist threat appears increasingly threadbare.
"There's a massive failure of strategy," said Akbar S. Ahmed, a former Pakistani diplomat and the chairman of Islamic studies at American University in Washington. Drones have simply become one more element of the violence in countries like Pakistan and Yemen, not a way to reduce violence, he said.
Among young people attracted to jihadist ideology, "the line to blow yourself up remains horrifyingly long," he said. "That line should be getting shorter."
A senior Obama administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the classified program, said the recent series of major terror attacks in urban areas had all been directed or inspired by the Islamic State.
The classified counterterrorism drone campaign, he said, has targeted other groups, notably Al Qaeda's old core in Pakistan, its branch in Yemen and the Shabab in Somalia. No attack in the West in the past year has been traced to those groups, suggesting that the strikes have been effective, he said. The drone strikes in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan are, for the most part, carried out by the military in a separate program.
In Friday's release, the White House made public an executive order laying out policies to minimize civilian casualties in counterterrorism strikes and a plan to start making public the basic statistics on strikes each year.
At the same time, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released the first official estimates of those killed during Mr. Obama's presidency in strikes outside the conventional wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Though the announcement did not say so, the classified strikes took place in Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, and the vast majority used missiles fired from unmanned drone aircraft, though a few used piloted jets or cruise missiles fired from the sea.
Since 2009, the government said, 473 strikes had killed between 2,372 and 2,581 combatants. They are defined as members of groups, like Al Qaeda and the Taliban, that are considered to be at war with the United States, or others posing a "continuing and imminent threat" to Americans.
In the most sharply debated statistics, the statement estimated that between 64 and 116 noncombatants had been killed. Officials said those numbers included both clearly innocent civilians and others for whom there was insufficient evidence to be sure they were combatants.
The numbers were far lower than previous estimates from the three independent organizations that track strikes based on news reports and other sources. The Long War Journal, whose estimates are lowest, counted 207 civilian deaths in Pakistan and Yemen alone. The security policy group New America in Washington estimated a minimum of 216 in those two countries, and the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimated the civilian toll under Mr. Obama between 380 and 801.
With no breakdown by year or country, let alone a detailed strike-by-strike account, the Obama administration's new data was difficult to assess. For example, according to multiple studies by Human Rights Watch, Yemen's Parliament and others, an American cruise missile strike in Yemen on Dec. 17, 2009, killed 41 civilians, including 22 children and a dozen women. At least three more people were killed later after handling unexploded cluster munitions left from the strike.
If those 41 are included in the new official count, as appears likely, that would leave only 23 civilians killed in all other strikes since 2009 to reach the low-end American estimate of 64. By nearly all independent accounts, that number is implausibly low. Obama administration officials declined over the weekend to discuss any specific strikes or otherwise elaborate on the statistics.
Scott F. Murray, who retired from the Air Force as a colonel after 29 years, was a career intelligence officer involved in overseeing airstrikes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. He said that while he had not been involved directly in the counterterrorist strikes outside those war zones, the civilian death estimates were "lower than I would have expected."
He said civilian deaths could result from multiple causes, including incomplete intelligence about the identities of people on the ground, equipment failure and human error.
Perhaps most often, Mr. Murray said, problems arise when civilians enter a target area before drone surveillance begins, or when a civilian suddenly enters the strike zone just before a strike.
"The night you choose to strike, it may be that the in-laws arrived earlier in the day or the children's birthday party is ongoing and you weren't watching when everyone arrived," Mr. Murray said. "Those are the things in war that drive you to drink. You never ever have perfect information."
Brandon Bryant, who worked on Air Force drone teams from 2006 to 2011 and has become an outspoken critic of the program, recalled one strike in 2007 targeting a local Taliban commander. As the Hellfire missile sped toward the small house, he said, a small child — possibly frightened by the missile's sonic boom — ran into the house and was killed.
"Those things are burned into my brain — I can't really forget them," Mr. Bryant said. He added that he believed total civilian deaths were much higher than the administration's estimate because of officials' wishful thinking, rather than deliberate deception. "They're just deluding themselves about the impact," he said.
The senior administration official acknowledged the fear and frustration produced by the recent urban attacks and said Mr. Obama's strategy went far beyond drone strikes, incorporating the military battle against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, counter-messaging against jihadist groups, and support for allies facing the same enemies as the United States.
American officials strongly defend the necessity of targeted killing, and the president's executive order suggests that he believes the drone program will endure far beyond his presidency. But deaths from terrorism have risen sharply since 2011, according to the Global Terrorism Index, compiled annually by researchers, and there is worry inside and outside the government that the United States and its allies are winning battles but losing the ideological war.
Of particular concern is the possibility that the rash of attacks carried out in the name of the Islamic State is just the beginning — not because the group is getting stronger but because it is getting weaker. As the United States and its allies uproot the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, its supporters may turn to terrorism wherever they are, many terrorism experts believe. In most of those places, like the cities hit hardest in recent months, no drone strikes will be possible.
3) Black Man's Fatal Encounter With Police Splits Mississippi City Known for Harmony
By RICHARD FAUSSET JULY 3, 2016
TUPELO, Miss. — The blue lights flashed in the rearview mirror of the Ford Focus. The man behind the wheel, a 37-year-old African-American, pulled over, opened the door and sprinted into the Mississippi night.
Soon, a white police officer was giving chase on foot, accompanied by his police dog.
The officer would eventually find and fatally shoot the man, Antwun Shumpert, here on the evening of June 18, plunging this small city — famous globally as the birthplace of Elvis Presley, but known regionally as a beacon of relatively progressive racial attitudes — into what has become a tragically common American morass of anger, racial division and hard questions about the treatment of black men at the hands of the police.
Mr. Shumpert's death poses another question: how to extract the truth from the familiar story lines and racial narratives that can alternately cast light on what happened or obscure it.
The controversy here has also been amplified by assertions, made by Mr. Shumpert's defenders and repudiated by city officials, that his killing echoes some of the cruelest episodes of the South's past.
The lawyer for Mr. Shumpert's family, Carlos Moore, said that Mr. Shumpert was unarmed and that an attack by the police dog left his groin area "mutilated." Mr. Shumpert's hospital records describe damage to his groin as a result of a gunshot wound.
Even so, Mr. Moore last week displayed photos of Mr. Shumpert's corpse in a news conference, including one that appeared to show a yawning tear where his scrotum met his inner thigh. Mr. Moore invoked the lynching of Emmett Till and the legacy of the Ku Klux Klan, and criticized the city for not taking down the Mississippi state flag, which incorporates the Confederate battle flag.
"They have declared open season on us, and they are killing us with impunity," said Mr. Moore, who is black. "And the question is: Are you going to sit there and allow them to do it?"
Tupelo's mayor, Jason Shelton, a 40-year-old white Democrat, said that the police have told him that the dog never bit Mr. Shumpert. And an Atlanta-based doctor who specializes in emergency medicine and reviewed the photographs of Mr. Shumpert's body for The New York Times said on Friday that he saw little evidence of a dog attack.
Mr. Shelton said on Thursday that the police told him Mr. Shumpert had attacked the officer, maneuvering on top of him and repeatedly punching him in the face. The mayor initially declared the shooting "justified" — a statement that outraged many black residents here who note that the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation may not complete its investigation for months.
By Friday, Mr. Shelton — who was elected with significant black support in 2013 — was standing among dozens of peaceful protesters in City Hall, telling them that he should not have used the word "justified."
But in a separate interview, he said, "There has been no evidence to contradict the Tupelo Police Department's version of the events in this case."
Some here said they would withhold judgment until the outcome of the investigation, which is being monitored by the F.B.I. and the Justice Department. But the battle lines in this city of 36,000 are hardening.
"Well, I mean, why did he run? That's my question," said Justin Cook, 24, a white man who was shopping at a Walmart last week. Mr. Cook said he had little reason to doubt the city.
On Thursday, Mr. Moore filed a $35 million civil rights lawsuit in Federal District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi. That evening, hundreds of anguished residents, nearly all of them African-American, packed into the Temple of Compassion and Deliverance church for a community meeting. Some wore T-shirts that declared "Justice 4 Ronnie," a reference to the name Mr. Shumpert commonly used. A number of attendees said in interviews that they could not imagine that the officer's use of deadly force was justified.
The speakers, many of them prominent local ministers, said the Tupelo police had a history of engaging in racially discriminatory practices. Black residents said that racial profiling was a problem here, an assertion that was also made in a "Cultural Diversity Assessment" commissioned by the city and released in 2008.
Mr. Shelton said the report examined the city's government under a previous administration, at a time when the Police Department was run by a different chief. And he noted that he and other elected officials had recently created a task force with the goal of encouraging peace and communication between the races and avoiding the kind of conflagration that engulfed cities like Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo.
James Hull, a pastor who hosts a local radio show, said it was "half-true" that "we've got our own Ferguson." Like Ferguson, he said, there was a killing that he believed to be unjust. But unlike Ferguson, he said, the protest here would be peaceful.
Some, like Doyce Deas, 71, pray that will be true. Ms. Deas, a former City Council member, is one of a number of residents who have worked to help the city live up to the example set in the 1960s by black and white leaders who managed to guide Tupelo through school desegregation peacefully and without triggering so-called white flight. It is part of what locals call the "Tupelo Spirit," local shorthand for a civic-minded, racially tolerant culture that many here, even black critics of the Police Department, believe has helped Tupelo attract industry and set it apart from other Mississippi towns.
Ms. Deas, who is white, spoke as though some fragile, precious edifice might crack. "I just don't want to see our community torn apart," she said.
Mr. Shumpert had been driving his friend Charles Foster's car that Saturday night. The two men played together on the local semipro football team, the Lee County TiCats, and they were going to pick up a shirt that Mr. Foster wanted to wear to a team party.
Football was Mr. Shumpert's passion. He was a fast, agile, broad-shouldered man who had little problem competing with players who were much younger than him.
Mr. Shumpert, who worked in construction, dreamed of being a coach, but his dreams may have been hampered by a criminal record. In 2006, he pleaded guilty to burglary and larceny here in Lee County, Miss. He was also under indictment on a 2013 charge of theft by deception stemming from an episode in Midland County, Tex. Tupelo officials said he had an outstanding warrant.
Mr. Foster said he was surprised when Mr. Shumpert told him he was going to run away after being pulled over last month. Mr. Foster said they had been driving the speed limit and otherwise obeying the law.
Mr. Shelton said that according to the Police Department's account, Mr. Shumpert hid in the crawl space of a nearby home after running from the car.
"My understanding is that the canine was sent in to try to get Mr. Shumpert out from underneath the home," Mr. Shelton said. Then, he said, "Mr. Shumpert essentially jumped out from the crawl space" and was soon on top of the officer, "repeatedly punching him in the face."
The mayor said the officer was on his back when he shot Mr. Shumpert four times.
Mr. Shelton said he was unaware of any witnesses other than the officer, whom he identified as Tyler Cook. On Friday, city officials released a photo of what they said was Officer Cook about an hour after the episode. It shows him with cuts on his nose, his face discolored.
City officials would not release much other information about Officer Cook. Mr. Shelton said he was unaware "of any blemish" on the officer's record, except for one episode in which he tackled a white teenager during a burglary call, which turned out to be a house party, and broke the youth's tooth. Officer Cook, who has been placed on paid administrative leave, could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Shelton dismissed Mr. Moore, whose main law practice is based in Grenada, Miss., roughly 90 miles from Tupelo, as an "outsider" who had "come in with a clear agenda to do harm to the city."
He also said that the photos of Mr. Shumpert's body that Mr. Moore has shown to the public were taken after Mr. Shumpert had undergone a surgery in an attempt to save his life, and after his autopsy. Mr. Shelton said he had reviewed photos of the body taken the night of the shooting and saw no evidence of the injuries that Mr. Moore says were caused by the dog.
Mr. Moore, a former candidate for the State Senate, made headlines this year when he filed a lawsuit arguing that the state flag, with its embedded Confederate banner, "incites private citizens to commit acts of racial violence."
Mr. Moore provided The Times with Mr. Shumpert's medical records from the North Mississippi Medical Center, where he was taken after he was shot. A "physical summary" of Mr. Shumpert written by a doctor notes, "There was a gunshot wound to the right groin that separated the scrotum on the left side and entered the upper thigh."
Dr. Hany Atallah, the chief of emergency medicine at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, reviewed photographs of the body that Mr. Moore provided to The Times. Because he had not viewed the body in person, Dr. Atallah said his opinion could not be definitive. But he said the wounds did not seem consistent with a dog attack.
The wound in the groin, he said, seemed too linear, and devoid of tissue damage, to have been caused by bites, which, he said in an email, "tend to cause jagged, irregular wounds with multiple punctures."
Mr. Moore said he had identified an eyewitness who would attest that the dog "attacked Mr. Shumpert in his groin."
In his lawsuit, Mr. Moore also claims that the dog "severely clawed Mr. Shumpert on his back and inflicted other injuries and bruises," and that the officer punched him in the face and "kicked or stomped" his mouth, knocking his teeth toward his throat.
Though the photos Mr. Moore provided show what appear to be long, deep lacerations on Mr. Shumpert's back, the hospital records say there were "no abrasions/lacerations noted on the back" on the night he was admitted. They also note bruises on his bottom gums and a missing tooth, and lacerations under one eye and the bridge of his nose.
On Thursday afternoon, Mr. Moore stood on the steps of the Lee County Justice Center in a suit and sunglasses, flanked by Mr. Shumpert's family members, to announce the $35 million lawsuit.
He removed the glasses with a flourish, and looked into a bank of news cameras. "Make no mistake about it," he said. "I'm coming after you, Tupelo."
While some white residents here are worried about Mr. Moore's tone, many African-Americans have welcomed it.
"I think he had to come in here with that kind of message," said Quiana Bouldin, 38, a hairstylist at the A Plus Barbershop & Salon. "His job is to make people think about what's going on, and bring light to the Police Department."
4) One Robber's 3 Life Sentences: '90s Legacy Fills Prisons Today
By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS JULY 4, 2016
BURKEVILLE, Va. — Lenny Singleton is the first to admit that he deserved an extended stay behind bars. To fuel his crack habit back in 1995, he walked into 13 stores over eight days and either distracted a clerk or pretended to have a concealed gun before stealing from the cash register. One time, he was armed with a knife with a six-inch blade that he had brought from his kitchen.
Mr. Singleton, 28 at the time, was charged with robbery and accepted a plea deal, fully expecting to receive a long jail sentence. But a confluence of factors worked against him, including the particularly hard-nosed judge who sentenced him and the zero-tolerance ethos of the time against users of crack cocaine. His sentence was very long: two life sentences. And another 100 years. And no possibility for parole.
There is a growing consensus that the criminal justice system has incarcerated too many Americans for too many years, with liberals and conservatives alike denouncing the economic and social costs of holding 2.2 million people in the nation's prisons and jails. And Congress is currently debating a criminal justice bill that, among other provisions, would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders.
But a divide has opened within the reform movement over how to address prisoners who have been convicted of violent crimes, including people like Mr. Singleton, who threatened shop owners but did not harm anyone. Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union favor a swift 50 percent reduction in prison populations, while conservative prison reform organizations like Right on Crime prioritize the release of nonviolent offenders and worry that releasing others could backfire and reduce public support.
Nonviolent drug offenders make up only about 17 percent of all state prison inmates around the nation, while violent offenders make up more than 50 percent, according to federal data.
As the prison population has increased sharply over the past 30 years, so too has the number of those sentenced to life. Mr. Singleton is among nearly 160,000 prisoners serving life sentences — roughly the population of Eugene, Ore. The number of such inmates has more than quadrupled since 1984, and now about one in nine prison inmates is serving a life term, federal data shows.
"People are celebrating the stabilization of the prison population in recent years, but the scale of mass incarceration is so substantial that meaningful reduction is not going to happen by tinkering around the edges," said Marc Mauer, the executive director of the Sentencing Project, a Washington-based nonprofit that advocates changes in sentencing policy.
The United States, which has about 4.4 percent of the world's population, holds 22 percent of its prisoners, according to theInternational Centre for Prison Studies, a research organization based in England.
Mr. Singleton's prison term, which makes it likely that he will die behind bars, attracted little attention in 1996. It was common then for judges in Virginia and the rest of the country to impose long prison terms for crack-related crimes. Still, even hard-line prosecutors who were active during that period say Mr. Singleton's sentence seemed unduly harsh for crimes in which no one was hurt.
"Crack cocaine scared the hell out of a lot of people," said William G. Broaddus, a former Virginia attorney general who is now in private practice and had no role in the case. "It's disappointing there wasn't more consideration as to why this man did this. Do we really want to keep him in jail for the rest of his life? Having said that, it doesn't surprise me in the slightest that this judge meted out the sentence that he did."
William F. Rutherford, the judge who sentenced Mr. Singleton, has been retired for years. During a recent series of interviews, he said he had no recollection of the case, but after he reviewed Mr. Singleton's court files, he said he had no regrets about how he handled it.
"Under the circumstances," he said, "it would not be unusual for me to give out that kind of sentence."
Mr. Rutherford, who turned 89 in June, was known in Norfolk, Va., legal circles for his tough sentences, and he acknowledged that he was an intimidating presence on the bench.
"I'm a no-nonsense guy and I wouldn't take any crap off of defense lawyers or anybody," he said. "The people in jail did not like coming into Courtroom No. 7."
D. J. Hansen, the prosecutor in Mr. Singleton's case, said Mr. Rutherford "had a reputation for being one of the tougher judges" in the courthouse. Mr. Hansen, who is now a deputy commonwealth's attorney in Chesapeake, Va., added that "Virginia is a hard state" when it comes to doling out punishments, and pointed out that he sought a life sentence for Mr. Singleton because of the serious nature of the robberies.
When compared with recent cases, Mr. Singleton's sentence appears to be disproportionately harsh. The maximum penalty for second-degree murder in Virginia is 40 years, and people convicted in recent months of attempted murder and similar crimes have received sentences far shorter than Mr. Singleton's. For example, Tamar Harris, 21, who shot and wounded a police officer, was sentenced in April to 23 years in prison, and Jermaine Rogers, 30, of Norfolk, who pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder, was sentenced in March to 10 years.
Mr. Singleton, 49, who is called "Pops" by other inmates here at the Nottoway Correctional Center in central Virginia, has largely forgotten the details of his weeklong crime spree. Unlike many of his fellow inmates, he does not claim he is innocent.
He recalled in an interview that before each robbery, he would smoke crack and drink a 12-pack of beer. In all, he got about $500.
"After I sobered up, I couldn't believe what I had done," he said. "I was like, 'Damn, Lenny, what the hell?'"
Mr. Singleton played football at Langston University, the historically black college in Oklahoma from which he graduated, and later joined the Navy, but was kicked out for using drugs. In prison, he has attended substance abuse classes and become a devoted reader of self-help books from the prison library.
He works in a furniture plant at the prison and earns 80 cents an hour building furniture used in Virginia's universities. But a percentage of his pay is subtracted for court costs and fines, and he still owes the state $1,800.
Last year, he married a high school classmate, Vandy, with whom he had lost touch. They recently compiled a book of their letters detailing his incarceration and her battles with cancer.
Mr. Singleton, who prison officials acknowledge has never committed an infraction behind bars, has filed for a conditional pardon with Gov. Terry McAuliffe, saying in part that his court-appointed lawyer failed to adequately represent him. Mr. Singleton said he had been unaware that he could be sentenced to life in prison until he had already pleaded guilty.
His lawyer at that time, Jon M. Babineau, said he was legally prohibited from discussing Mr. Singleton's case because of Virginia's attorney-client privilege laws, but said he had done his best to represent his client.
In a prison administrative office on a recent morning, Mr. Singleton said he had seen inmates convicted of murder and rape come and go, and was hopeful that he would not die in prison.
"I was out of my mind on drugs, but I wasn't going to hurt anybody," he said. "I was just after the money."
5) Can Obama Pardon Millions of Immigrants?
By PETER L. MARKOWITZ JULY 6, 2016
WHEN the history of President Obama's legacy on immigration is written, he will not go down as the president who boldly acted to protect millions of families from the brutality of our nation's unforgiving immigration laws. The Supreme Court made sure of that last month, when it deadlocked on the legality of his program to defer the deportation of parents of American citizens and residents. Instead, he will be judged on what he actually did: deport more immigrants than any other president in American history, earning him the moniker "deporter in chief."
However, President Obama can still act to bring humanity and justice to an immigration system notoriously lacking in both. He can do so by using the power the Constitution grants him — and only him — to pardon individuals for "offenses against the United States."
The debate over the deportation deferral program has been framed as a question of the division of powers. Both sides agree that Congress is the only entity that gets to define offenses against the United States. Reasonable commentators also agree that the president enjoys prosecutorial discretion to determine which deportation cases to pursue and which to forgo. The difficult question is whether a categorical decision to decline to prosecute millions begins to intrude on Congress' power. While the program is consistent with the way previous presidents have used prosecutorial discretion, without guidance from the Supreme Court, debate will surely continue.
There is one area, however, where the president's unilateral ability to forgo punishment is uncontested and supported by over a hundred years of Supreme Court precedent: the pardon power. It has been consistently interpreted to include the power to grant broad amnesties from prosecution to large groups when the president deems it in the public interest.
Such pardons have been used by presidents including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. Most recently, Jimmy Carter issued a pardon to around half a million men who had violated draft laws to avoid military service in Vietnam.
It's a common assumption that pardons can be used only for criminal offenses, and it's true that they have not been used before for civil immigration violations. However, the Constitution extends the power to all "offenses against the United States," which can be interpreted more broadly than just criminal offenses.
A pardon could not achieve everything the deferred deportation program aspired to — notably, it could not deliver work permits. However, it has a certain operational elegance to it that would avoid many of the political battles surrounding the deferral program. No application process would be necessary. A pardon becomes immediately effective upon issuance by a president. With fewer than 300 words and a signature, President Carter's pardon became effective on his first full day in office.
The enormous administrative undertaking that would be required to put into effect the deferred deportation program — which some in Congress had hoped to defund — would thus be wholly unnecessary. Indeed, Congress would be impotent to restrict the president's pardon as the Supreme Court has made clear that "Congress cannot interfere in any way with the president's power to pardon." If immigration enforcement agencies or any future administration failed to respect the pardon, individual beneficiaries could use it as a shield in any deportation proceedings that followed.
President Obama has plenty of time left to issue such a pardon. There is solid historical and legal precedent for him to do so. And although it would probably bring about legal challenges, opponents could not use the legal system to simply run out the clock, as they have with his deferred deportation program. A deferred deportation program could be undone by a President Trump. Unconditional pardons, in contrast, are irrevocable.
Finally, some would surely argue that a pardon protecting a large category of immigrants from deportation would, just like the deportation deferral program, effectively amount to a repeal of laws enacted by Congress. However, pardons do nothing to alter the law. They protect certain past offenders from punishment and prosecution, but leave the law unchanged as applied to any future violators.
President Obama has deported around 2.5 million people. That is about the same number as were deported in the entire 20th century. His apparent strategy was to demonstrate his bona fides on enforcement in order to persuade recalcitrant Republicans to work with him on immigration reform. It didn't work. It turns out that you don't convince people to be more humane on immigration by deporting immigrants hand over fist.
We are left with a brutal legacy of millions of families torn apart, many simply for doing what they needed to do to protect and feed their children. President Obama will not be judged on his intentions or his attempts on immigration, but rather on his real impact. This is his last chance to establish a legacy of pragmatic compassion.
6) Alton Sterling Shooting by Police in Baton Rouge Sets Off Protests
By JONAH ENGEL BROMWICH JULY 6, 2016
Scores of protesters gathered in Baton Rouge, La., on Tuesday night after a black man was fatally shot in an encounter with police officers earlier in the day, an incident that was captured in a graphic cellphone video that began circulating on social media.
The victim, Alton Sterling, 37, was killed in a shooting at about 12:35 a.m. on Tuesday, the Baton Rouge police said in a statement. The police had received a call from someone who reported having been threatened by an armed man wearing a red shirt who was selling CDs outside a store in the eastern part of the city, the statement said.
A police spokeswoman reached early Wednesday said that she could not comment beyond the statement, which provided no details of what it called an "altercation" between Mr. Sterling and the two officers who responded.
William Clark, the coroner of East Baton Rouge Parish who is known as Beau, said that Mr. Sterling had died at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and back.
A cellphone video shot by a bystander, which was released later in the day, showed Mr. Sterling being tackled by a police officer. He is then held to the ground by two officers, and one of the officers appears to hold a gun above Mr. Sterling's chest. (The linked video is graphic.)
The two officers were placed on leave immediately after the shooting, according to the police statement. It is unclear whether Mr. Sterling had a gun, though there are some reports that police recovered one from his pocket. Someone on the video can be heard saying, "He's got a gun."
On Twitter, Mr. Sterling's name began trending on Tuesday night, as members of the Black Lives Matter movement expressed disgust and anguish at his death. Images from social media showed large numbers of protesters marching in Baton Rouge.
A crowd outside of the Triple S Food Mart, where the shooting happened, swelled to more than 200 people, according to The Baton Rouge Advocate, with many demanding that the officers be punished.
At times, they chanted, "Black lives matter," and "hands up, don't shoot," rallying cries that have echoed at protests across the country in recent years over concerns about racial bias in shootings by police officers.
In a Twitter post early Wednesday, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson called the shooting a "legal lynching."
Representative Cedric Richmond, Democrat of Louisiana, released a statement early Wednesday that expressed outrage over the shooting and called on the Justice Department to investigate.
"I ask the leaders and citizens of Baton Rouge to join me in demonstrating our anger with dignity and demanding proper focus on our cause with perseverance," he said. "His family and the citizens of Baton Rouge — especially the citizens of North Baton Rouge — deserve answers and that is what we will seek in a fair, thorough, and transparent way."
State Representative C. Denise Marcelle, who was briefed by the police, told a local broadcaster that the officers had been wearing body cameras during the confrontation with Mr. Sterling but that they fell off during the struggle.
She said investigators had recovered surveillance footage from cameras mounted at a convenience store and on the dashboard of a patrol car.
A lawyer for the Sterling family, Edmond Jordan, who is also a state representative, said that he did not know whether Mr. Sterling carried a gun and that several relatives he had spoken with "were not aware that he had a gun."
Mr. Jordan, speaking on CNN, said he did not think the shooting was justified and questioned why the officer fired, and then waited to fire again.
"The city has to give some good answers," he said, "and I think don't they will be able to."
Mr. Jordan urged calm in the community, asking that the protests remain peaceful out of respect for Mr. Sterling.
7) Obama to Keep 8,400 Troops in Afghanistan
By MARK LANDLER JULY 6, 2016
WASHINGTON — President Obama said on Wednesday that he planned to leave 8,400 American troops in Afghanistan, deferring a decision to cut the deployment to 5,500, and underlining that the United States will remain militarily entangled there for the foreseeable future.
Graphic: More Than 14 Years After U.S. Invasion, the Taliban Control Large Parts of Afghanistan
Mr. Obama announced his decision a day before he is scheduled to travel to Poland for a NATO summit meeting.
"The security situation remains precarious," Mr. Obama said in an appearance at the White House. "Even as they improve, Afghan security forces are still not as strong as they need to be. The Talibanremains a threat. They've gained ground in some cases."
8) Michael Brown's Mom, on Alton Sterling and Philander Castile
JULY 7, 2016
St. Louis — I CRIED on Wednesday as I watched, like much of the country, the horrifying video images from Baton Rouge, La., showing a black man being shot to death, in the back and chest, after being wrestled into submission by two white police officers. On Thursday, I woke up to the news of a black man in Minnesota, shot by the police during a traffic stop. I am devastated and infuriated.
Death isn't pretty for anyone, but what these families now face is the horror of seeing their loved one die over and over, in public, in such a violent way. They face the helplessness of having strangers judge their loved one not on who he was or what he meant to his family but on a few seconds of video. Mr. Sterling died in a very lonely way, surrounded by his killers. Can you imagine a lonelier death? Mr. Castile died with his girlfriend and her young daughter watching as he was gunned down.
Sometimes it seems like the only thing we can do in response to the police brutality that my son and so many other black boys and men have suffered is to pray for black lives. Yes, they matter, but is that changing anything? What is going to be different this time?
There is again an uproar, and people are going to once again do a lot of talking about black-on-black crime versus white-on-black crime. Truth is, black on black crime is perpetuated by systemic injustice and social ills. But, real talk, this debate is meaningless so long as we still live in a world where a black man can get killed for selling cigarettes on the street, where a black boy can get killed for waving a toy gun.
It's a problem when you look to the law as a protector and it comes into your community and shoots people dead with no remorse or consequences. It is a problem that you have some law officers trying to do the right thing, and then others who bring shame on the badge.
Someone asked me what I would say to Mr. Sterling's family, if I had the chance. To tell the truth, I wouldn't know what to say. When Michael was killed, people tried to talk to me, but I was in shock; I didn't know how to respond. I know enough now to advise well-meaning people to pause before offering kind words. So many told me, "I am so sorry for your loss." After a while, all the "sorrys" bled together, and at the end of it, nothing changed. Let Mr. Sterling's family members grieve with the people in their lives who knew him before everyone else saw these shocking images and felt they had to put their two cents in.
The mothers I've met along the way — Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin's mother; Wanda Johnson, Oscar Grant III's mother — we've helped one another cope, and we'll try to do the same for Mr. Sterling and Mr. Castile's families. I'll never forget meeting Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice. I looked at this strong woman and was amazed to think that she was just starting a horrible journey, one that will never end, one that I am still on.
When their children are killed, mothers are expected to say something. To help keep the peace. To help make change. But what can I possibly say? I just know we need to do something. We are taught to be peaceful, but we aren't at peace. I have to wake up and go to sleep with this pain everyday. Ain't no peace. If we mothers can't change where this is heading for these families — to public hearings, protests, un-asked-for martyrdom, or worse, to nothing at all — what can we do?
Since I lost my son to a police shooting, I've done a lot of thinking. I've gone to therapy, as have my other children. I've started a foundation in Michael's honor. I've campaigned in St. Louis to mandate body cameras on police officers at all times. We cannot assume that justice will be done. So I will never stop talking about my son or fighting for justice for him.
People will try to twist the words of Mr. Sterling and Mr. Castile's families and turn them into something ugly. These men will be called "thugs" and much, much worse. It's already happening. Click on the comments section of any article you read about their deaths, and you will be shocked by the racist comments of people who insist — insist — that they obviously deserved to die.
So what would I say to their families? When you're ready, and if you need me, I'll be there for you. But the people I would really like to say something to are the ones who claim that justice will prevail. Whose justice? When justice comes to the one who didn't pull the trigger, that's when I'll believe you.
9) What White America Fails to See
By Michael Eric Dyson
July 7, 2016
IT is clear that you, white America, will never understand us. We are a nation of nearly 40 million black souls inside a nation of more than 320 million people. We don't all think the same, feel the same, love, learn, live or even die the same.
But there's one thing most of us agree on: We don't want the cops to kill us without fear that they will ever face a jury, much less go to jail, even as the world watches our death on a homemade video recording.
You will never understand the helplessness we feel in watching these events unfold, violently, time and again, as shaky images tell a story more sobering than your eyes are willing to believe: that black life can mean so little. That Alton B. Sterling and Philando Castile, black men whose deaths were captured on film this past week, could be gone as we watch, as a police officer fires a gun. That the police are part of an undeclared war against blackness.
You can never admit that this is true. In fact, you deem the idea so preposterous and insulting that you call the black people who believe it racists themselves. In that case the best-armed man will always win.
You say that black folks kill each other every day without a mumbling word while we thunderously protest a few cops, usually but not always white, who shoot to death black people who you deem to be mostly "thugs."
That such an accusation is nonsense is nearly beside the point. Black people protest, to one another, to a world that largely refuses to listen, that what goes on in black communities across this nation is horrid, as it would be in any neighborhood depleted of dollars and hope — emptied of good schools, and deprived of social and economic buffers against brutality. People usually murder where they nest; they aim their rage at easy targets.
It is not best understood as black-on-black crime; rather, it is neighbor-to-neighbor carnage. If their neighbors were white, they'd get no exemption from the crime that plagues human beings who happen to be black. If you want interracial killing, you have to have interracial communities.
We all can see the same videos. But you insist that the camera doesn't tell the whole story. Of course you're right, but you don't really want to see or hear that story.
At birth, you are given a pair of binoculars that see black life from a distance, never with the texture of intimacy. Those binoculars are privilege; they are status, regardless of your class. In fact the greatest privilege that exists is for white folk to get stopped by a cop and not end up dead when the encounter is over.
Those binoculars are also stories, bad stories, biased stories, harmful stories, about how black people are lazy, or dumb, or slick, or immoral, people who can't be helped by the best schools or even God himself. These beliefs don't make it into contemporary books, or into most classrooms. But they are passed down, informally, from one white mind to the next.
The problem is you do not want to know anything different from what you think you know. Your knowledge of black life, of the hardships we face, yes, those we sometimes create, those we most often endure, don't concern you much. You think we have been handed everything because we have fought your selfish insistence that the world, all of it — all its resources, all its riches, all its bounty, all its grace — should be yours first, and foremost, and if there's anything left, why then we can have some, but only if we ask politely and behave gratefully.
So you demand the Supreme Court give you back what was taken from you: more space in college classrooms that you dominate; better access to jobs in fire departments and police forces that you control. All the while your resentment builds, and your slow hate gathers steam. Your whiteness has become a burden too heavy for you to carry, so you outsource it to a vile political figure who amplifies your most detestable private thoughts.
Whiteness is blindness. It is the wish not to see what it will not know.
If you do not know us, you also refuse to hear us because you do not believe what we say. You have decided that enough is enough. If the cops must kill us for no good reason, then so be it because most of us are guilty anyway. If the black person that they kill turns out to be innocent, it is an acceptable death, a sacrificial one.
You cannot know what terror we live in. You make us afraid to walk the streets, for at any moment, a blue-clad officer with a gun could swoop down on us to snatch our lives from us and say that it was because we were selling cigarettes, or compact discs, or breathing too much for your comfort, or speaking too abrasively for your taste. Or running, or standing still, or talking back, or being silent, or doing as you say, or not doing as you say fast enough.
You hold an entire population of Muslims accountable for the evil acts of a few. Yet you rarely muster the courage to put down your binoculars, and with them, your corrosive self-pity, and see what we see. You say religions and cultures breed violence stoked by the complicity of silence because peoples will not denounce the villains who act in their names.
Yet you do the same. You do not condemn these cops; to do so, you would have to condemn the culture that produced them — the same culture that produced you. Black people will continue to die at the hands of cops as long as we deny that whiteness can be more important in explaining those cops' behavior than the dangerous circumstances they face.
You cannot know how we secretly curse the cowardice of whites who know what I write is true, but dare not say it. Neither will your smug insistence that you are different — not like that ocean of unenlightened whites — satisfy us any longer. It makes the killings worse to know that your disapproval of them has spared your reputations and not our lives.
You do not know that after we get angry with you, we get even angrier with ourselves, because we don't know how to make you stop, or how to make you care enough to stop those who pull the triggers. What else could explain the white silence that usually greets these events? Sure, there is often an official response, sometimes even government apologies, but from the rest of the country, what? We see the wringing of white hands in frustration at just how complex the problem is and how hard it is to tell from the angles of the video just what went down.
We feel powerless to make our black lives matter. We feel powerless to make you believe that our black lives should matter. We feel powerless to keep you from killing black people in front of their loved ones. We feel powerless to keep you from shooting hate inside our muscles with well-choreographed white rage.
But we have rage, too. Most of us keep our rage inside. We are afraid that when the tears begin to flow we cannot stop them. Instead we damage our bodies with high blood pressure, sicken our souls with depression.
We cannot hate you, not really, not most of us; that is our gift to you. We cannot halt you; that is our curse.
10) Dallas Shooting Leaves 5 Police Officers Dead; Suspect Is Killed
JULY 8, 2016
DALLAS — At least one sniper, who said he wanted to shoot white police officers, killed five officers and wounded seven others at a demonstration in Dallas on Thursday night against police shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana, officials said. The sniper was killed, and three other people are in custody, officials said.
During an hourslong standoff after the attack, in which two civilians were also wounded, the gunman told police negotiators that "he was upset about Black Lives Matter," the Dallas police chief, David O. Brown, said on Friday.
"He said he was upset about the recent police shootings," Chief Brown said. "The suspect said he was upset at white people. The suspect stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers."
The police killed the suspect using an explosive delivered by a robot, he said, and arrested three other people, but it was unclear how many people actually fired on the police.
Officials at first said that at least two snipers had carried out a coordinated ambush, firing rifles from triangulated positions, including from one or more elevated posts in downtown buildings. But later they declined to say if there was more than one gunman.
The dead gunman was Micah X. Johnson, 25, a senior law enforcement official said.
The sequence of events this week tore at a nation already deeply divided over questions of policing and race, pivoting from anger and despair over shootings of black men by the police to officers being targeted in apparent retaliation. It dealt a blow both to law enforcement and to peaceful critics of the police.
"All I know is that this must stop, this divisiveness between our police and our citizens," Chief Brown said.
Just hours after President Obama, reacting to video recordings of the shootings in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights, Minn., spoke in anguished terms about the disparate treatment of the races by the criminal justice system, he felt compelled to speak again, saying that nothing could justify the violence in Dallas.
"There has been a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement," Mr. Obama told reporters Friday morning in Warsaw, where he was attending a NATO summit meeting, after speaking by phone with Mayor Mike Rawlings of Dallas. "Police in Dallas were on duty doing their jobs, keeping people safe, during peaceful protests."
Officials refused to say whether they believe the three suspects arrested and the one killed were the only ones involved. They would not identify the four or say much about them while the investigation was underway. "We're not satisfied that we've exhausted every lead," Chief Brown said.
"Our profession is hurting," he said. "Dallas officers are hurting. We are heartbroken. There are not words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city."
The sniper who was killed, while holed up on the second floor of a parking garage, told the police that there were explosives planted downtown, but after a sweep of the area, officials said none had been found. He also claimed he had acted alone, Mr. Brown said.
The attack appeared to be the deadliest for law enforcement officers in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001.
The shootings, only a few blocks from Dealey Plaza, where President John F. Kennedy was assassinatedin 1963, transformed an emotional but peaceful rally into a scene of carnage and chaos, and they injected a volatile new dimension into the anguished debate over racial disparities in American criminal justice. The gunfire, starting just before 9 p.m., sent thousands of terrified marchers, including families with children, running for cover, while police officers ran the other way, guns drawn, and returned fire at the gunmen.
Bystanders captured extraordinary video of the shootout on downtown streets, with officers taking shelter behind patrol cars and pillars, and tending to their fallen comrades.
Chief Brown said negotiators had spent hours trying to get the cornered suspect to surrender, but he "told our negotiators that the end is coming and he's going to hurt and kill more of us, meaning law enforcement, and that there are bombs all over the place in this garage and downtown."
"The negotiations broke down, and we had an exchange of gunfire with the suspect," the chief said. "We saw no other option but to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the suspect was."
The three other suspects were a woman who was taken from the garage and two others who were taken in for questioning after a traffic stop.
Chief Brown said the suspects in custody were not providing investigators with many details. "We just are not getting the cooperation we'd like, to know that answer of why, the motivation, who they are," he said.
They "planned to injure and kill as many law enforcement officers as they could," Chief Brown said.
"Some were shot in the back," he said. "We believe that these suspects were positioning themselves in a way to triangulate on these officers."
The police said that four of the dead were Dallas police officers and that one was from the Dallas Area Rapid Transit force. The transit agency identified him as Brent Thompson, 43. He joined in 2009 and was the first DART officer to be killed in the line of duty.
The chief said he had contacted the F.B.I. and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for help in the investigation.
Chief Brown said that he was not confident that the police had apprehended everyone involved in the shooting, and that a rigorous investigation would continue until "we are confident that all suspects have been captured."
"I can just tell you I've never been more proud of being a police officer and being a part of this noble profession," he said.
Jane E. Bishkin, a Dallas lawyer who represents five of the officers who were shot, said the wounded officers were expected to recover. She said one of the injured officers, a woman, suffered a serious injury to her left arm and may be disabled as a result.
The shooting unfolded near one of the busiest parts of the city's downtown, filled with hotels and restaurants as well as Dallas County government buildings. Videos of the scene circulated widely on social media. In many of them, gunshots could be heard ringing out against a city illuminated by flashing police lights. Teams of armed officers could be seen running through the area.
Although the shooting occurred during a rally to protest police-involved shootings, it was unclear what relationship the gunmen had to the demonstration. It was initially unknown what the motives were, "except they fired on the police," said Clay Jenkins, the Dallas County judge and the county's chief executive.
"All government buildings in that area are on lockdown," he said. "That's the government center where this is happening."
Chief Brown said it was too early in the investigation to say whether there was any connection between the snipers and the demonstration. He suggested that those involved had some knowledge of the march route.
"How would you know to post up there?" he said. "So we're leaving every motive on the table of how this happened and why this happened." He added, "We have yet to determine whether or not there was some complicity with the planning of this, but we will be pursuing that."
A witness told CNN that she was standing on Main Street shortly before 9 p.m. when "all of a sudden we started hearing, 'Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop.' "
"I don't think I've ever run so fast in my life," she said.
More than an hour after the shootings, before the suspects were in custody, the mood in Dallas remained tense.
In one section of downtown, officers asked an African-American man wearing a bulletproof vest to walk toward them. The man slowly approached with his hands up, and a crowd of onlookers became angry and shouted and cursed at the police. An officer had his gun pointed at a black woman, and many in the crowd quickly began filming the scene with their cellphones. The tension eased as people in the crowd chanted, "Black lives matter."
The shootings occurred after Mr. Obama, reacting with the same horror as many Americans to a video of a dying man in Minnesota who was shot by the police, implored the nation to confront the racial disparities in law enforcement while acknowledging the dangers that officers faced.
In Warsaw on Friday morning, Mr. Obama said that anger about racial disparities in criminal justice was no grounds for violence. "We will learn more, undoubtedly, about their twisted motivations, but let's be clear: There's no possible justification for these kinds of attacks, or any violence against law enforcement," he said.
He added: "Our police have an extraordinarily difficult job, and the vast majority of them do their job in outstanding fashion." He said that Thursday night's attack was "a wrenching reminder of the sacrifices that they make for us."
Mayor Rawlings cautioned residents that the downtown area was still a crime scene and told people who worked in the area to check DallasCityNews.net to see which buildings were open.
"It is a heartbreaking morning to lose these four officers that proudly served our citizens," he said. "To say that our police officers put their life on the line every day is no hyperbole, ladies and gentlemen. It's a reality."
The protest was planned by Dominique R. Alexander, an ordained minister and the head of the Next Generation Action Network. He said that the organization "does not condone violence against any human being, and we condemn anyone who wants to commit violence."
"I was right there when the shooting happened," Mr. Alexander said.
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