Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:










UNACpeace@gmail.com           518-227-6947              www.UNACpeace.org

UNAC Statement on the Bombing of Libya

The recent bombing of Libya is a continuation of the seven months long campaign of bombing carried out five years ago.  At that time the U.S. and its NATO allies succeeded in destroying that country's government and assassinating President Gaddafi. Prior to that attack, Libya was the most prosperous country in Africa, with the highest standard of living and health care, education and other social benefits for its people. Today it is a failed state, a wasteland that is bleeding refugees to Europe, Tunisia and other countries seeking to escape the horror that the U.S. and NATO have created. The most recent bombing, ostensibly to combat ISIS, will not bring security to the people of Libya, but will continue the destruction of that country and cause more civilian casualties and refugees.[read more]

UNAC Protests NATO in Warsaw and the U.S.

UNAC sent a representative to Warsaw, Poland to participate in the meetings, conferences and demonstration organized to oppose NATO as it held its summit in Poland.  UNAC administrative committee member, Phil Wilayto spoke at the meetings and demonstration and brought solidarity from the U.S. antiwar movement. Below is Phil Wilayto's report from Poland

Phil Wilayto speaking at anti-NATO meeting in Warsaw

New York anti-NATO rally

Rally against NATO in Warsaw

The NATO Summit & the Opposition

By UNAC Administrative Committee member Phil Wilayto

Poland's beautiful capital city of Warsaw was locked down tight for the latest Summit meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as leaders of NATO's 28 member countries gathered July 8 and 9 to make decisions that seriously increase the risk of war with Russia.

Despite the lovely weather, few locals were on the streets, long stretches of which were cordoned off. Uniformed police officers in bright neon-green vests seemed to be everywhere, many with weapons drawn. Helicopters whirred overhead, military vehicles rumbled over cobblestone streets and police sirens sounded as motorcades carried dignitaries to and from the National Stadium by the winding Vistula River where the NATO Summit was held. [read more]

UNAC joins solidarity delegations to Syria and the Philippines

During the month of July, UNAC members joined a fact finding delegation to Syria and one to the Philippines. The delegation to Syria was sponsored by the U.S. Peace Council.  Judy Bello, a member of the UNAC Administrative Committee joined this delegation as well as Gerry Condon, vice-president of Veterans for Peace, a UNAC affiliated group and Joe Jamison a leader of the Queens Peace Council and a member of UNAC. Below, is a report from Judy Bello on the findings of the delegation.

UNAC Report back on the US Peace Council Fact Finding Delegation to Syria

By Judy Bello

We had a lot of interesting meetings in Damascus with members of the government and with representatives of civil society.  We met with the Chairman of the Lawyers Guild, Members of the Board of the Chamber of Industry, the Orthodox Bishop of Damascus and the Grand Mufti of Syria, as well as people working with and participating in human resource development programs of the Syria Development Trust.  In every meeting, we introduced ourselves and Henry explained that we were there to hear their stories and see with our own eyes the situation they were confronting. SANA News followed us everywhere and reported on our meetings daily.    The show of solidarity means a lot to the Syrian people. [read more]

On their return, members of the delegation held a press conference at the UN.  That press conference can be seen here:


Also in July, UNAC Administrative Committee member Joe Iosbaker was part of a solidarity delegation to the Philippines.  Also on the delegations was UNAC Administrative Committee member and chairperson of BAYAN, USA, Bernadette Ellorin.  BAYAN, USA is a coalition of Filipino groups in the US.  Below is a report on the delegation by Joe Iosbaker.

International Solidarity Delegation to the Philippines

Joe Iosbaker

As you know, the Filipino group, BAYAN (New Patriotic Alliance) is a member of UNAC. They had invited UNAC to send delegates this summer to join a delegation of international activists to visit the Philippines. The delegation was a response to the growing crises in their homeland: human rights abuses, multinational corporate globalization, land grabbing and other violations of indigenous rights, extra judicial killings, political prisoners, and more. [read more]

Join UNAC at the No War 2016 conference in Washington, DC, September 23 - 25, 2015

For more information:  http://worldbeyondwar.org/NoWar2016/

Save the Date.
The next UNAC conference will be held in Richmond, VA from April 21 - 23, 2017

Also, UNAC is a co-sponsor of the Southern Human Rights Organizers' Conference, which will be held in Mississippi from December 9 - 12.  UNAC has been making important inroads in the South for the movement against the wars at home and abroad.  This will be an important conference for the movement as a whole and UNAC will also contribute financially to make it a success.  If you can help with this effort by making a contribution for the conference, please contribute here:https://www.unacpeace.org/donate.html and the money will be used for the SHROC.

UNAC has added a page on political prisoners in the U.S. to our web site.  Please see:https://www.unacpeace.org/political-prisoners.html

UNAC will also be adding a blog to our web site with articles, video and more from our members and friends.  More information will follow soon.

* All reports and articals represent the ideas of the author and not necessarily of UNAC or any of its affiliated groups.

If your organization would like to join the UNAC coalition, please click here: https://www.unacpeace.org/join.html



Don't forget to save dates for Ali Abunimah speaking in Berkeley on Oct. 18, Chivvis Moore's book event on Sept. 27 in Oakland -- and Noura Erakat in Oakland Nov. 17!

Tickets for Ali's event will be available very soon, more info on all these events below.


Book Reading with Bay Area Author/Activist Chivvis Moore
Tuesday, September 27 in Oakland

Please Join Us!

Book Reading with Bay Area Author/Activist CHIVVIS MOORE

& her new memoir:

First Tie Your Camel, Then Trust in God: 

An American Feminist in the Arab World

Tuesday, September 27, 7pm

360 42nd Street, Oakland

FREE -- and we hope you'll buy Chivvis' book, which benefits MECA!

What begins as a trip to meet Hassan Fathy – Egyptian author of the influential Architecture for the Poor – becomes a 16-year odyssey, one that stretches from a year working in a master carpenter's shop in Egypt to 11 years teaching English in Palestine. Offering a portrait of a land and a people not found in headlines or sound bytes, Chivvis' book humanizes the misunderstandings and tragedies that arise when we fail to appreciate the humanity at the core of us all.

"I have been reading your beautiful, sad, and deeply moving story, learning a lot of disturbing history about something I thought I knew about but never saw in such depth. This is an important memoir that…evokes tears and also some laughter, with a great sense of compassion and empathy."

–Alan Rinzler, former editor, Simon & Schuster

"I cried all the way through reading First Tie Your Camel. The tone, the genuine and honest description of reactions and feelings about the experiences, enabled me to truly understand for the first time why, as a Palestinian living in the West Bank, I always feel so upset and physically ill."

– Muna Giacaman, Instructor, Bir Zeit University, West Bank

"Chivvis takes us on a journey that is fascinating, eye-opening, and ultimately heart-breaking – initially as a fresh-eyed newcomer working in a 1970's community in Cairo that most Americans have never seen – to life in occupied Palestine, before and after the 2nd intifada…She leads from the heart, earning hard-won respect from Palestinian neighbors, students, colleagues. Honest, unassuming and vulnerable, she asks the hard questions."

– Penny Rosenwasser, MECA staffer & author, Hope into Practice, Jewish women choosing justice despite our fears

Chivvis Moore lived 16 years in the Arab world, including 11 years in the West Bank. She has earned her living as a journalist, carpenter/general building contractor, editor and teacher.

Wheelchair accessible

Cosponsored by Joining Hands, Jewish Voice for Peace/Bay Area

Electronic Intifada co-founder/director Ali Abunimah
Tuesday, October 18 in Berkeley

Electronic Intifada co-founder/director ALI ABUNIMAH!

Tuesday, October 18, 7pm

First Congregational Church of Berkeley

2345 Channing Way (@ Dana)

Ali Abunimah is a Palestinian-American journalist and author of "The Battle for Justice in Palestine" -- which won the 2014 Palestine Book Award -- and "One Country, A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse." He received the 2013 Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship and has been an activist on these issues for over 20 years.

Alice Walker calls him "a special voice to champion us, one that is… fierce, wise -- a warrior for justice and peace -- someone whose large heart, one senses, beyond his calm, is constantly on fire."

Tickets available soon!

Benefit for MECA, wheelchair accessible

Cosponsored by KPFA, Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), Jewish Voice for Peace/Bay Area

COMING UP NOVEMBER 17 IN OAKLAND: Palestinian Activist/Scholar/Human Rights Attorney 

NOURA ERAKAT, Back in the Bay!


Rumi's Caravan: Recitation of World Poetry -- benefiting MECA

Saturday, September 10 in Oakland

Copyright (C) 2016 Middle East Children's Alliance All rights reserved.

Middle East Children's Alliance

1101 8th Street

Berkeley CA 94710 United States



Chelsea Manning Support Network

Chelsea faces charges related to suicice attempt

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Chelsea Manning threatened with indefinite solitary confinement for suicide attempt

Yesterday, (July 28) Chelsea Manning found out she is yet again being threatened with the possibility of indefinite solitary confinement.

In a jarringly callous move, Army officials are charging Chelsea with "offenses" related to her suicide attempt earlier this month.

If convicted, her punishment could be indefinite solitary confinement,reclassification into maximum security, and an additional nine years in medium custody. Her chance of parole may be negated.

Read the charge sheet here, dictated over the phone by Chelsea to a Support Network volunteer.

"It is deeply troubling that Chelsea is now being subjected to an investigation and possible punishment for her attempt to take her life. The government has long been aware of Chelsea's distress associated with the denial of medical care related to her gender transition and yet delayed and denied the treatment recognized as necessary," said ACLU Staff Attorney Chase Strangio. 

"Now, while Chelsea is suffering the darkest depression she has experienced since her arrest, the government is taking actions to punish her for that pain. It is unconscionable and we hope that the investigation is immediately ended and that she is given the health care that she needs to recover." Read more here

Chelsea has already faced indefinite solitary confinement threats last year, for innocuous institutional offenses, such as having an expired tube of toothpaste.

Sign the petition

Our friends at Fight for the Future have created a petition where you can sign on to a letter condemning the US Army's attack on Chelsea.

Write the Secretary of the Army

Pressure the Secretary of the Army to take a personal interest and dismiss these cruel and absurd charges against Chelsea.



WASHINGTON, DC 20310-010

Help us pay for Chelsea's legal representation

This May, Chelsea's appellate team filed a brief beginning her appeal process. Your support is critical, not just to continue fighting these ongoing threats from prison officials, but to help challenge Chelsea's draconian 35-year prison sentence and her unjust Espionage Act conviction.

Thank you to those who have already contributed, and to everyone who continues to support Chelsea during this long and strenuous process.

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.

Please donate today!










Defying the Tomb: Selected Prison Writings and Art of Kevin "Rashid" Johnson featuring exchanges with an Outlaw Kindle Edition

by Kevin Rashid Johnson (Author), Tom Big Warrior (Introduction), Russell Maroon Shoatz(Introduction)




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


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


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. 

New medical records documenting Mumia's deteriorated condition from February and March, will be presented June 6th. Judge Mariani has also instructed the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to provide any updates and changes in DOC hep C treatment and policies which affect the plaintiff's treatment.

Calling into Prison Radio, Mumia noted: 

"My friends, my brothers, it ain't over 'til it's over, but there is some motion. It means that we're moving closer to hopefully some real treatment not of my symptoms, but of my disease. I thank you all for being there. And freedom is a constant struggle. I love you all. From what used to be death row, this is Mumia, your brother."

Mumia remains quite ill. While stable, his curable hepatitis C is still active and progressive. The only treatment Mumia has received over the last 14 months to this day is skin ointment and photo therapy. He has not received the medically indicated treatment for hep C, the very condition that put him in the Intensive Care Unit in March 2015. 

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.

Before the court is the preliminary injunction motion, which demands immediate medical care.

The exhaustion of administrative remedy and the procedural hurdles make it extremely difficult for people in prison to actually get their grievances heard through the review process. The Prison Litigation Reform Act was passed specifically to create these very almost insurmountable barriers to access to the courts.

Please read the New Yorker article, Why it is Nearly Impossible for Prisoners to Sue Prisons.

In Abu-Jamal vs. Kerestes, one very telling point was when the DOC's Director of Medical Care, Dr. Paul Noel, took the stand. He said that he had never testified before in court! He has worked for the DOC for over a decade.   

That meant that no prisoner had access to adversarial cross examination. Before Mumia's day in court in late December 2015, no prisoner ever had the opportunity to expose the PA DOC's blatant lies. Lies so bold that Dr. Noel disavowed his own signed affidavit, and in court he stated that he "did not sign it and it was false and misleading". The knowingly false and fabricated document was put in the record by Laura Neal, Senior DOC attorney.

Take Action for Mumia

Call prison officials to demand immediate treatment!

Dr. Paul Noel-Director of Medical Care, DOC
717-728-5309 x 5312

John Wetzel- Secretary of DOC
717+728-2573 x 4109

Dr. Carl Keldie-Chief Medical Officer, Correct Care Solutions
800-592-2974 x 5783

Theresa DelBalso-Superintendent, SCI Mahanoy
570-773-2158 x 8101

    Tom Wolf, PA Governor 

    Phone  717-787-2500

    Fax 717-772-8284                                             

    Email governor@pa.gov

    Sign the Petition now to demand Mumia's right to life-saving hepatitis C care.

    Help Mumia's lawyers prepare to demand access to Mumia's medical records from court!

    Thank you for keeping Mumia in your heart and mind,

    Noelle Hanrahan

    Director, Prison Radio


    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:







    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




    Major Battles On

    For over 31 years, Major Tillery has been a prisoner of the State.

    Despite that extraordinary fact, he continues his battles, both in the prison for his health, and in the courts for his freedom.

    Several weeks ago, Tillery filed a direct challenge to his criminal conviction, by arguing that a so-called "secret witness" was, in fact, a paid police informant who was given a get-out-of-jail-free card if he testified against Tillery.

    Remember I mentioned, "paid?"

    Well, yes--the witness was 'paid'--but not in dollars. He was paid in sex!

    In the spring of 1984, Robert Mickens was facing decades in prison on rape and robbery charges. After he testified against Tillery, however, his 25-year sentence became 5 years: probation!

    And before he testified he was given an hour and a ½ private visit with his girlfriend--at the Homicide Squad room at the Police Roundhouse. (Another such witness was given another sweetheart deal--lie on Major, and get off!)

    To a prisoner, some things are more important than money. Like sex!

    In a verified document written in April, 2016, Mickens declares that he lied at trial, after being coached by the DAs and detectives on the case.

    He lied to get out of jail--and because he could get with his girl.

    Other men have done more for less.

    Major's 58-page Petition is a time machine back into a practice that was once common in Philadelphia.

    In the 1980s and '90s, the Police Roundhouse had become a whorehouse.

    Major, now facing serious health challenges from his hepatitis C infection, stubborn skin rashes, and dangerous intestinal disorders, is still battling.

    And the fight ain't over.

    [©'16 MAJ  6/29/16]

    Major Tillery Needs Your Help and Support

    Major Tillery is an innocent man. There was no evidence against Major Tillery for the 1976 poolroom shootings that left one man dead and another wounded. The surviving victim gave a statement to homicide detectives naming others—not Tillery or his co-defendant—as the shooters. Major wasn't charged until 1980, he was tried in 1985.

    The only evidence at trial came from these jailhouse informants who were given sexual favors and plea deals for dozens of pending felonies for lying against Major Tillery. Both witnesses now declare their testimony was manufactured by the police and prosecution. Neither witness had personal knowledge of the shooting.

    This is a case of prosecutorial misconduct and police corruption that goes to the deepest levels of rot in the Philadelphia criminal injustice system. Major Tillery deserves not just a new trial, but dismissal of the charges against him and his freedom from prison.

    It cost a lot of money for Major Tillery to be able to file his new pro se PCRA petition and continue investigation to get more evidence of the state misconduct. He needs help to get lawyers to make sure this case is not ignored. Please contribute, now.


      Financial Support: Tillery's investigation is ongoing, to get this case filed has been costly and he needs funds for a legal team to fight this to his freedom!

      Go to JPay.com;

      code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

      Tell Philadelphia District Attorney

      Seth Williams:

      Free Major Tillery! He is an innocent man, framed by police and and prosecution.

      Call: 215-686-8711 or

      Write to:

      Major Tillery AM9786

      SCI Frackville

      1111 Altamont Blvd.

      Frackville, PA 17931

        For More Information, Go To: Justice4MajorTillery/blogspot


        Rachel Wolkenstein, Esq. (917) 689-4009RachelWolkenstein@gmail.com



        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.

        In solidarity,

        James Clark
        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




          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

          Courage Campaign

          Daily Kos

          Democracy for America


          Project Springboard

          RH Reality Check


          Student Debt Crisis

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          Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson

          Updates from Team Lorenzo Johnson

          Dear Supporters and Friends,

          Show your support for Lorenzo by wearing one of our beautiful new campaign t-shirts! If you donate $20 (or more!) to the Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson, we will send you a t-shirt, while supplies last. Make sure to note your size and shipping address in the comment section on PayPal, or to include this information with a check.

          Here is a message from Lorenzo's wife, Tazza Salvatto:

          My husband is innocent, FREE HIM NOW!

          Lorenzo Johnson is a son, husband, father and brother. His injustice has been a continued nightmare for our family. Words cant explain our constant pain, I wish it on no one. Not even the people responsible for his injustice. 

          This is about an innocent man who has spent 20 years and counting in prison. The sad thing is Lorenzo's prosecution knew he was innocent from day one. These are the same people society relies on to protect us.

          Not only have these prosecutors withheld evidence of my husbands innocence by NEVER turning over crucial evidence to his defense prior to trial. Now that Lorenzo's innocence has been revealed, the prosecution refuses to do the right thing. Instead they are "slow walking" his appeal and continuing their malicious prosecution.

          When my husband or our family speak out about his injustice, he's labeled by his prosecutor as defaming a career cop and prosecutor. If they are responsible for Lorenzo's wrongful conviction, why keep it a secret??? This type of corruption and bullying of families of innocent prisoners to remain silent will not be tolerated.

          Our family is not looking for any form of leniency. Lorenzo is innocent, we want what is owed to him. JUSTICE AND HIS IMMEDIATE FREEDOM!!! 

                                    Lorenzo's wife,

                                     Tazza Salvatto

          Lorenzo is continuing to fight for his freedom with the support of his lead counsel, Michael Wiseman, The Pennsylvania Innocence Project, the Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice, and the Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson.

          Thank you all for reading this message and please take the time to visit our website and contribute to Lorenzo's campaign for freedom!

          Write: Lorenzo Johnson

                      DF 1036

                      SCI Mahanoy

                      301 Morea Rd.

                      Frackville, PA 17932

           Email: Through JPay using the code:

                        Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


                        Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com


                        Directly on ConnectNetwork -- instructions here

          Have a wonderful day!

          - The Team to Free Lorenzo Johnson

          Write: Lorenzo Johnson

                      DF 1036

                      SCI Mahanoy

                      301 Morea Rd.

                      Frackville, PA 17932

           Email: Through JPay using the code:

                        Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


                        Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com













          1)  Justice Department to Release Blistering Report of Racial Bias by Baltimore Police

          AUG. 9, 2016

          "Dayvon Love, 29, a founder of the Baltimore advocacy group Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, said that changes would come only when civilians have a say in whether officers should face punishment."




          The Justice Department has found that the Baltimore Police Department for years has hounded black residents who make up most of the city's population, systematically stopping, searching and arresting them, often with little provocation or rationale.

          In a blistering report, coming more than a year after Baltimore erupted into riots over the police-involved death of a 25-year-old black man, Freddie Gray, the Justice Department is sharply critical of policies that encouraged police officers to charge black residents with minor crimes. A copy of the report was obtained by The New York Times.

          The critique is the latest example of the Obama administration's aggressive push for police reforms in cities where young African-American men have died at the hands of law enforcement.

          The findings, to be released Wednesday, are the first formal step toward the Justice Department's reaching a settlement with Baltimore — known as a "consent decree" — in which police practices would be overhauled under the oversight of a federal judge. The department started the inquiry at the invitation of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

          To show how officers disproportionately stopped black pedestrians, the report cited the example of a black man in his mid-50s who was stopped 30 times in less than four years. None of the stops led to a citation or criminal charge. Black residents, the report said, accounted for 95 percent of the 410 individuals stopped at least 10 times in the five and a half years of data reviewed.

          The most pronounced racial disparities were in arrests for the most discretionary offenses: For example, 91 percent of those arrested solely for "failure to obey" or "trespassing" were African-American, even though the city is 63 percent black, the report found.

          In one telling anecdote from the report, a shift commander provided officers with boilerplate language on how to write up trespassing arrest reports of people found near housing projects. The template contained an automatic description of the arrestee: "A BLACK MALE."

          "The supervisor's template thus presumes that individuals arrested for trespassing will be African-American," the report stated, describing the sort of detentions the language was intended to facilitate as "facially unconstitutional."

          The report indicated that the frequency of arrests without probable cause was reflected in the fact that booking supervisors and prosecutors had declined to file charges, after arrests by their own officers, more than 11,000 times since 2010.

          Two weeks ago, Maryland prosecutors dropped charges against the last of six officers charged in the April 2015 death of Mr. Gray, who sustained a fatal spinal cord injury while in custody. With that, Baltimore joined a growing list of cities where police-involved deaths sparked outrage, and even riots, yet no one was held accountable in court.

          While no consent decree has been reached, the report states that the city and the Justice Department have agreed in principle to identify "categories of reforms the parties agree must be taken to remedy the violations of the Constitution and federal law described in this report."

          "I don't think at this point, it's about justice for Freddie Gray anymore," said Ray Kelly, a director of the No Boundaries Coalition, a West Baltimore group that provided its own report on police abuses to the Justice Department. "Now it's about justice for our community, for our people."

          City Councilman Brandon Scott, vice chairman of the council committee that oversees the department, said the next fight could be over how to pay for the police overhaul.

          Baltimore is among nearly two dozen cities that the Obama administration has investigated after they were accused of widespread unconstitutional policing. Using its broad latitude to enforce civil rights laws, the Justice Department has demanded wholesale change in how cities conduct policing. In several cities, including Seattle; Cleveland; and Ferguson, Mo., those investigations began in the aftermath of a high-profile death that sparked protests and in some cases riots.

          Police chiefs, prosecutors and experts say the investigations have forced cities to address longstanding, entrenched issues far beyond the targeted cities.

          "Chiefs are constantly looking at these reports, not just to learn lessons and best practices from each other, but also what pitfalls we can avoid," said Scott Thomson, the police chief in Camden, N.J., who is also the president of the Police Executive Research Forum.

          But court-ordered reform can take years, which does little to ease the frustration of activists who say that police officers too often go unpunished for deadly encounters with unarmed people.

          Dayvon Love, 29, a founder of the Baltimore advocacy group Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, said that changes would come only when civilians have a say in whether officers should face punishment. Mr. Love described frustrating meetings with Justice Department officials — including Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch.

          "I was very skeptical and not really that enthused about meeting with them," Mr. Love said. At one point, he said, he asked Ms. Lynch what she could do to change state law and give civilians more power over the police. "She said what I figured she'd say, which is that from her position as attorney general, she can't really do anything about it."

          The Supreme Court has given police officers wide latitude in how they can use deadly force, which makes prosecuting them difficult, even in the killing of unarmed people. For the Justice Department to charge an officer with a federal crime, the bar is even higher. Prosecutors must show that the officer willfully violated someone's civil rights.

          State and federal investigators cleared the officer who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson and those who killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland. Federal prosecutors are still debating whether to bring charges in the death of Eric Garner on Staten Island. Local prosecutors did not.

          In Baltimore, black residents have been complaining for years of systematic abuse by the department. When the city's top prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, failed to get any convictions in Mr. Gray's death, many in the city's poorest African-American neighborhoods were not surprised.

          After the 1991 beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles, Congress gave the Justice Department the power to investigate police departments for patterns of civil rights violations. The Obama administration has used that authority more aggressively than any other. Prosecutors are enforcing consent decrees on police departments in 14 cities.

          "We tend to confront systemic problems only when forced to by seemingly extraordinary events," Vanita Gupta, the Justice Department's top civil rights prosecutor, said last year.

          In Seattle, the investigation followed an officer's shooting of a Native American woodcarver in 2010. The shooting was ruled unjustified, but prosecutors said they could not meet the legal standard to file charges. The federal authorities, however, found a pattern of excessive force and ordered the Police Department to provide better training and oversight. In recent years, the Justice Department has held Seattle up as an example of how cities can best respond to scathing investigations.

          In other cities, the changes are just beginning. After months of arguing and delay, officials in Ferguson accepted a settlement in March that will force the city to change its policies on when officers can use stun guns, shoot at cars and stop pedestrians. Officials in Cleveland agreed in Mayto follow strict new standards governing how and when its officers can use force.

          The report is sure to fuel a broader debate on aggressive policing practices, as it blames much of Baltimore's woes on so-called "zero-tolerance" policies adopted in the late 1990s. They were aimed at anyone on the streets whom officers viewed as suspect, making heavy use of stop-and-frisk and other confrontation techniques.

          But the approach, the report found, "led to repeated violations of the constitutional and statutory rights, further eroding the community's trust in the police."

          While Baltimore officials have sought to curb the most extreme zero-tolerance policies, the legacy of the strategy continues to vex the department.

          One example the report cited was a police sergeant who recently posted on Facebook that the "solution to the murder rate is easy: flex cuffs and a line at" the central booking office, made up of people arrested on charges of loitering.



          2)  Woman Is Accidentally Killed by Police Officer Playing 'Bad Guy' at Training Academy in Florida

          AUG. 10, 2016




          A woman was accidentally shot and killed in Punta Gorda, Fla., by a police officer in a role-play exercise at a citizens training academy meant to help members of the community understand law enforcement tactics, the authorities said on Tuesday.

          Chief Thomas P. Lewis of the Punta Gorda Police Department said at a news conference late Tuesday that the woman, Mary Knowlton, 73, had been killed in a "horrible accident" at the training session hosted by the department earlier that day.

          The chief did not name the officer or address why he used live rounds in the training session.

          Ms. Knowlton was one of about 35 residents who had attended the session. She and another participant were randomly selected to participate in "shoot/don't shoot" scenarios, a role-play exercise intended to teach people how to make decisions when confronted with lethal force, Chief Lewis said.

          Ms. Knowlton was shot during the first scenario, the police said. The authorities did not say where she was shot or how many times, but Sue Paquin, a local photographer who was covering the event, told The News-Press in Fort Myers that the officer had fired several shots at Ms. Knowlton.

          According to a post by The Charlotte Sun on Facebook, the officer had been playing a "bad guy" in the scenario when he shot Ms. Knowlton.

          Ms. Knowlton was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, where she was pronounced dead.

          Chief Lewis said the officer who shot Ms. Knowlton has been placed on administrative leave and that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would conduct an investigation into the shooting.

          According to a Facebook pagebelonging to Ms. Knowlton, she was originally from Minnesota and had worked as a librarian.

          Shocked residents of Punta Gorda, a harbor town of about 16,000 people near Fort Myers, reacted to the shooting on Facebook. On Wednesday, a debate about whether the officer should have been armed was brewing on the Police Department's page.

          "An accident, really, so that makes it OK?" one observer noted. "Live rounds used in a citizens training exercise."

          The department had operated the scenarios as part of its training program for about two years without incident, Lt. Katie R. Heck, a public information officer, said in an email.



          3)   Legislators Take Aim at New Jersey Student Loan Program's Tough Tactics

          AUG. 8, 2016




          Almost a dozen people with harrowing experiences with New Jersey's controversial student loan program testified on Monday before state lawmakers, detailing its aggressive collection tactics and onerous terms that some said had ruined them financially.

          "Hesaa destroyed my family," Tracey Timony, referring to the state's Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, said at a hearing before the Higher Education and Legislative Oversight Committees of the New Jersey State Senate.

          Ms. Timony had co-signed on her daughter's loans totaling $140,000. After her daughter defaulted, Ms. Timony was sued by one of the agency's collection firms and has since declared bankruptcy to get more manageable monthly payments.

          The hearing was prompted by an investigation published last month by ProPublica and The New York Times into the agency, which runs the largest state-based student loan program in the country, with nearly $2 billion in outstanding loans.

          The agency charges higher interest rates than similar federal programs, the investigation found, and has strikingly broad collection powers. If borrowers fall behind on payments, the agency can garnish wages, seize tax refunds and revoke professional licenses, all without getting a court judgment.

          State legislators, who on Monday pushed forward two measures that would give a break to borrowers in the program, said they were troubled by the agency's tactics.

          "We need to end this program, start over from scratch and find ways of providing assistance for students so that they can get an education without it bankrupting them," said Senator Robert M. Gordon, a Democrat from northern New Jersey and the chairman of the Legislative Oversight Committee.

          The agency's executive director, Gabrielle Charette, declined to testify at the hearing. Instead, she sent a letter to legislators, explaining that because the agency is currently conducting an internal review, it would be "premature" to testify on the concerns of borrowers and legislators. Ms. Charette added that the agency would brief the State Senate in the future.

          "We're disappointed that the agency didn't show up," Stephen M. Sweeney, a Democrat and president of the State Senate, said before the hearing.

          An executive from the agency had previously dismissed reporting from ProPublica and The Times as "one-sided," calling the investigation a "biased op-ed."

          As ProPublica and The Times have detailed, repayment of the state loans cannot be adjusted based on income, and borrowers — alongside their co-signers — are given few breaks, even when facing disability or death.

          A college graduate who defaulted on his loans after he learned he had cancer and lost his job was sued by the agency for more than $250,000. A mother who co-signed on her son's loans is continuing to pay off his debt, even after he was murdered.

          Several speakers at the hearing demanded the agency provide better assistance programs for struggling borrowers, specifically a rehabilitation program to help bring defaulted loans current.

          "The design of any responsible student loan program must address the needs of the most vulnerable borrowers," argued David McMillin, a lawyer with Legal Services of New Jersey, a nonprofit organization that provides free legal assistance to low-income state residents.

          Over the past five years, the agency has sued an increasing number of borrowers. In 2010, the agency filed fewer than 100 lawsuits against borrowers and their co-signers; last year, the number of suits rose to over 1,600.

          New Jersey's loan program is financed through tax-exempt bonds, which require the agency to keep losses to a minimum.

          "Were Hesaa not to utilize the tools provided by the Legislature, we would not be fulfilling our statutory requirements or our fiduciary duties to our bondholders," Marcia Karrow, the agency's chief of staff, said in response to previous questions from ProPublica and The Times.

          After the hearing, the Higher Education Committee passed a measure that would forgive the loans of deceased borrowers, sending the bill to the Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration.

          Under the proposed law, parents or guardians who co-sign loans for their children would no longer be held responsible for the loans if their children die. After the death of a borrower, a parent or guardian would have 120 days to provide the agency with a death certificate to get the loan forgiven.

          Legislators also proposed on Monday another measure that would require the agency to obtain a court order before seizing wages, rescinding tax refunds or suspending professional licenses of delinquent borrowers.

          "It will help the agency not just automatically destroy lives," said State Senator Sandra B. Cunningham, a Democrat from Jersey City, who is the chairwoman of the Higher Education Committee. "If it goes through the court system, there will have to be checks and balances with it that they don't have now."



          4)  LA Sheriff's Department Admits Deputy Killed An Unarmed, Innocent Man

          Deputies originally said the man was a suspect in a carjacking, but said this week that he had nothing to do with the crime.

           08/09/2016 10:34 pm ET


          LOS ANGELES ― Donnell Thompson, an unarmed 27-year-old man shot to death by a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy last month ― and who the sheriff's department had originally identified as a suspect in a carjacking ― was actually innocent, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department admitted this week.

          "We have determined that there is no evidence that Mr. Thompson was in the carjacked vehicle, nor that he was involved in the assault on the deputies," LASD said in a statement Tuesday.

          In the early morning hours of July 28, Thompson, who was black, was shot and killed by an LA sheriff's deputy following a carjacking in which a suspect crashed a stolen car in a Compton neighborhood and fired on sheriff's deputies. Following a search, the carjacking suspect was arrested.

          But shortly after that arrest, sheriff's deputies responded to a 911 call in the same neighborhood by a resident who found Thompson lying in his yard. LASD deputies believed Thompson to be a second suspect in the carjacking incident. Sheriff's officials claim Thompson was in a position on the ground that concealed his hands and that they thought he may have been armed. They also say he didn't respond to their commands and that at one point he stood up and "charged at the deputies."

          That's when a deputy shot and killed Thompson from the turret of an armored vehicle. No weapons were recovered in the incident.

          Brian Dunn, an attorney who is representing the Thompson family, said that it was a series of "tactical blunders" by LASD that led to the shooting, one that was clearly a "mistake."

          "We've done our own investigation and have not heard anything to suggest that Donnell Thompson was in any way acting in an aggressive manner or in any way demonstrating that he posed a threat to anyone," Dunn told The Huffington Post. "He hadn't committed a crime, he was not wanted, he had not done anything wrong, he was legally authorized to be where he was, he was legally authorized to be doing what he was doing, he wasn't breaking the law and he wasn't armed ― when you take that backdrop of facts it's just not only a tragedy, but it's a homicide, in every sense of the word."

          Dunn was also critical of the sheriff's use of an armored vehicle in this situation. 

          "In a civilian neighborhood, they bring an urban assault vehicle," Dunn said, "the BearCat, it's like a tank. Their response to this situation was so aggressive. Their tactics were so aggressive."

          Dunn said he has filed a federal civil rights claim against the county and that a lawsuit is forthcoming. 

          While LASD admitted Tuesday that Thompson was not involved in the carjacking, the department has not characterized the shooting as a mistake nor has it publicly apologized for killing an innocent man.

          "Knowing what we know now, do we wish it hadn't happened?" LASD Capt. Steven Katz said at a news conference. "It speaks for itself."

          The Thompson family has demanded an apology for the killing. Thompson's oldest sister, Matrice Stanley, told the Los Angeles Times that her brother may have had diminished mental capacity and also that she believes race was a factor in the shooting.

          LASD said that the deputy who killed Thompson, who has not been identified, has been reassigned to non-field duties. An investigation into the shooting is ongoing.



          5)  Clouds of Dust Hang Over Arkansas Program to Fight Blight

          AUG. 13, 2016




          PINE BLUFF, Ark. — It was a win-win proposition, a redemption for wayward men in a city in need of redeeming. Inmates and parolees would get training and job skills for a new start; in turn, this blight-plagued city in the Arkansas Delta would be freed of hundreds of abandoned homes, the unwanted souvenirs of decline.

          Over the course of seven months, the city got its end of the bargain, as scores of eyesores were knocked down and carted away.

          For the workers, who swung sledgehammers and hauled debris for months on end with the barest of training or protective gear, covering their mouths with sleeves amid clouds of shimmering and potentially toxic dust, it was hardly any bargain at all.

          "They sold us on a dream," said Michael Mills, 31, a construction worker who had been in jail on robbery charges.

          The Mulligan Road program, a nonprofit organization created and run by Arkansas corrections officials, was described by its supporters as one of the most ambitious projects of its kind in the country. Starting last fall and scheduled to run for two years, the program was to free the economically ailing city of Pine Bluff of 600 blighted houses while the participants, here in the state with the nation's fastest-growing prison population, were to gain valuable instruction, experience and even some money.

          But after rounds of cost-squeezing, what was envisioned as a bold prisoner rehabilitation program increasingly became a municipal project on the cheap. In interviews, more than a half-dozen of the participants described being sent daily with scant protection into demolition sites presumed by the authorities to contain asbestos, which when inhaled in the slightest amounts can lead to incurable cancer. Similar operations in the private sector have led to criminal charges, environmental and workplace safety experts said.

          "Clearly a contractor couldn't expose its workers to asbestos on hundreds of demolition jobs," said David Uhlmann, a professor at Michigan Law School and former chief of the environmental crimes section at the Justice Department. "Why should the state be allowed to expose inmates to harmful pollution?"

          After a reporter's inquiries, the federal Environmental Protection Agency sent inspectors to Pine Bluff in May; within days, the agency issued a letter threatening penalties for a litany of health and safety violations. The project was quietly shut down.

          In a letter to the E.P.A., the director of Arkansas Community Correctionsaid federal officials had "totally failed to communicate" the rules about worker protection. The letter acknowledged that information about such rules was sent to state officials, but said they were "never mentioned" in several subsequent conference calls with the E.P.A. last summer, even as state officials "continually asked" about regulatory compliance.

          "The program has been very successful on many accounts for both the city as well as the inmates involved," Kevin Murphy, the chief deputy director of Arkansas Community Correction and the director of Mulligan Road, said in an email. Of descriptions given by the inmate participants, Mr. Murphy said "many of the statements are just not true."

          In the original design, participants in the Mulligan Road program would receive training in construction and demolition work, and be provided "G.E.D. classes, substance abuse and addiction treatment, life skills training, job readiness training and computer skills training," according to a 2014 memo. They would be paid up to $1,000 for work during their six-month stretches; many would be set up with post-prison jobs and would be allowed to leave prison months early. There were plans for Mulligan Road statewide, but Pine Bluff was the test run.

          The city could use it. A casualty of mechanization and other changes to American agriculture, the once-thriving city of Pine Bluff, population 45,000 and dropping, is among the poorest cities in the country. It has drawn unwanted international attention for its violent crime rate. In the latest indignity, several buildings downtown have simply collapsed, the piles of debris now blocking traffic on Main Street.

          "It didn't get this way overnight," said the mayor, Debe Hollingsworth. She believes that fortunes have been turning during her four-year term: Several manufacturers have announced plans to open nearby and, perhaps most important, the crime rate has declined. She attributed this to a new policing strategy, but said crime hung on tenaciously among the hundreds of abandoned houses.

          "We had a budget of about $75,000 a year to take down homes," the mayor said. "We would have never caught up."

          In came the prisoners.

          While prison labor has often been criticized as exploitative, studies have shown that certain well-designed programs can reduce recidivism or at least hold off boredom and disheartenment. Programs that put inmates to work on civically needed but potentially risky jobs are not rare — thousands of those who fight forest fires in California are prisoners — and Pine Bluff is not the only place where the work is clearing blight.

          The sheriff's department of Cook County, Ill., runs a program in which inmates are trained in demolition and have in three years torn down 110 blighted houses. Sheriff Tom Dart said in an interview that the project took time, in part, because of safety measures like asbestos removal, which is carried out by private contractors. "We have to do this thing right because otherwise it's a disaster waiting to happen," he said.

          As it came together in the spring of 2015, the plan in Pine Bluff was to move forward with 600 demolitions. Giving the funding constraints, the project would have little more than two years and $830,000 to get this done, or as much of it as possible. Even with low-cost labor, it was a very tight squeeze.

          Officials with Pine Bluff and Mulligan Road approached the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality looking for ways to bring down expenses, particularly the high cost of required asbestos remediation.

          They began looking at a 2008 state guideline that granted some leeway for isolated demolitions of abandoned buildings. At the time of its adoption, state and federal memos warned explicitly against carrying out large projects "in a piecemeal fashion" just to qualify. But this time, officials agreed that a 600-house project could fit, if the demolitions were scattered strategically around the city.

          No asbestos surveys would be done and no asbestos removed; the presence of asbestos in the buildings would simply be presumed. As a "show of good faith," the city agreed to send a fire truck around to wet the debris and keep down the dust.

          Last fall, about 30 inmates who had agreed to be the first participants in the program began arriving at a secured complex of brick duplexes on the edge of the city. For a few hours over two or three days, they watched safety videos while an instructor, according to those interviewed, nodded off to sleep in the back. The videos spent "just a few minutes" on demolition procedures, said one participant; other videos concerned safety measures on factory floors or in steel working. No certification was given.

          The inmates wore outfits picked from a local clothing drive, and at demolition sites they were handed hard hats, gloves, safety glasses and disposable dust masks to be used and reused for days — masks with a disclaimer on the packaging warning against use around airborne asbestos or lead particles.

          Then they went to work: parolees and probationers with sledgehammers first, inmates coming in to finish tearing down the structures. On some days, dust grew so thick that it would clog up the machinery, billowing up again even after a fire truck had come by, sprayed down the debris and left. The men began to ask for respirators, some of them having worked in construction, but the chief on-site supervisor, a state corrections official, spoke of tight costs or reminded workers they could always just go back to jail.

          "We're not paying for nothing else," is what Marcus Maxwell, a 28-year-old prisoner, remembered hearing.

          Choosing to return to prison, as the inmates understood it, would be considered a violation and result in an extended sentence.

          So they stayed.

          Environmental experts said they could think of no regulatory flexibility that would allow for procedures like these. Even in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, where some leeway was granted for the thousands of necessary demolitions, strict worker-protection rules still applied. This was critical, said Dwight Bradshaw, an asbestos expert with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, given that more than two-thirds of the structures tested were found to contain asbestos.

          "If you know there's asbestos there, or presume there's asbestos there, you have to protect your workers," said Mr. Bradshaw, who described cases in the past of government officials' violating asbestos regulations that led to "significant penalties and jail time."

          David Gray, an E.P.A. spokesman, declined to comment on what federal officials were currently doing in the case in Pine Bluff, citing an "enforcement action which is ongoing."

          Mr. Gray rejected the assertions of state officials that the E.P.A. had fully known how the project was being carried out, saying the agency "would not endorse any activity that violated federal law. " The E.P.A. inspections in May found the on-site supervisors unqualified, and the protective gear, health monitoring and use of fire trucks either deficient or simply nonexistent.

          After the E.P.A. inspection, a frustrated Mr. Murphy sent an email to city officials saying it would be too expensive to address the agency's listed shortcomings. "We have shut down the project," he concluded.

          By that time, the first inmates in the program were finishing up. Some original participants were already back in prison, having committed some violation or another on the project. The ones who had finished received payments of varying amounts; some were set up with nearby jobs, though those who lived away from Pine Bluff had little luck. They did, however, gain something from their months there: a nagging anxiety about what might lie in store in the years ahead.

          Scared is the right word, said Mr. Maxwell, now at work cutting grass. "I think about it every day."



          6)  To Recruit More Women, Marines Turn to High School Sports Teams

          AUG. 13, 2016




          MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. — The United States Marine Corps is looking for a few more good women.

          And this time the campaign is a bit different. Marine recruiters are turning to high school girls' sports teams to find candidates who may be able to meet the corps' rigorous physical standards, including for the frontline combat jobs now open to women.

          The Marine commandant, Gen. Robert B. Neller, says he wants to increase the number of women in the corps to 1 in 10.

          "I've told them that 10 percent is where we want to go and they're working on it," General Neller said in an interview. "Go recruit more women. Find them. They're out there."

          For years, only about 7 percent to 8 percent of the corps, which numbers 184,200, has been women. It is the smallest percentage of women among all the military services. But after the Pentagon's decision to allow women who qualify to serve in combat jobs, thousands of new infantry, armor and other frontline posts are now open.

          General Neller said he wants to see women in some of those posts. That order now rests with Maj. Gen. Paul Kennedy, the head of the Marine Corps' recruiting command.

          General Kennedy is aggressively recruiting women for the service. He is sending targeted mailings, changing advertising to better represent female Marines, and traveling the country to meet with coaches and female athletes who may be well-suited for the rigors of Marine service.

          In particular, General Neller believes female wrestlers are good candidates.

          "We looked at that and said, 'Wow, that's kinda what we're looking for,'" he said. "They're disciplined, they're fit, they're focused on their mission."

          According to General Kennedy, the Marines, for the first time, are mailing recruitment literature to thousands of high school girls. Updated advertising will show active-duty female Marines doing their jobs on the battlefield.

          "The biggest complaint that we've heard and we're reacting to is that we were showing women in some of our material — whether it's commercial or print or whatever — and they were always training," General Kennedy said. "And that was a mistake."

          Already he has gone to the Women's Basketball Coaches Association conference and has targeted wrestling and other sports gatherings this year.

          In those sessions, he said, he is working to debunk misconceptions about women in the Marine Corps, including worries about sexual harassment and sexual assault, limits on career options, lack of stability and difficulties with balancing family life.

          "We got to talk to them, got to show them there are plenty of female married officers and enlisted, that it's not a good ol' boys club anymore when you talk about the career issues," General Kennedy said in an interview in his office at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

          The other military services attract far more women, and may be viewed as more receptive than the Marines, whose slogan used to say it was looking for "a few good men." The current slogan is more inclusive: "The Few. The Proud. The Marines."

          The Air Force has the highest percentage of women serving on active duty, with more than 19 percent, followed by the Navy at 18.6 percent, the Army at 14.4 percent and the Marines at 7.9 percent, according to Defense Department data from May.

          The key, General Kennedy said, is to reach influencers — parents, coaches — and to convince them that their daughters and athletes will be treated fairly. And he said he allays fears that women would be forced into combat jobs they do not want.

          The recruiters, however, know it will not be easy. Data suggests they have to contact twice as many potential applicants to find a female candidate as they would to find a man. So far, very few are interested in the combat jobs.

          In a Chicago suburb, Maj. Shanelle A. Porter, the commanding officer of Recruiting Station Chicago, said most women coming in the door just want to be Marines, but so far two women have said they were looking for frontline roles.

          The women, she said, want to be pioneers.

          "They're looking for that challenge," Major Porter said. "They're trying to show we can do it, too."

          A Marine for 13 years, Major Porter participated in college and professional sports — running the 400 meters — for seven years. Her goal is to make sure that any female recruit she sends to training is ready.

          Some cannot do a pull-up or hang from a bar for long enough. And sometimes they need to become faster, so they can finish the 1.5-mile run in 13.5 minutes.

          All female recruits, she said, go on a "high-risk action plan" for at least five months that includes vitamin supplements, weight management and an exercise regimen that includes weights, cross-fit training and a pull-up program.

          For General Kennedy, having a female Marine like Major Porter available to talk to female recruits and their families is helpful. Women make up 165 of the corps' 3,565 recruiters, and five of the 48 recruiting station commanders. For now, he says, that is sufficient.

          "They don't actually need a female recruiter," General Kennedy said, adding that the first person a potential recruit meets in a high school or a shopping mall does not have to be the same gender.

          "There has to be a female in the process," he said. "At some point, you've got to have a woman that can answer the specific questions and maybe even answer the parents' questions."

          Already, he is having some success and is on track to send enough women to boot camp this year to hit 8.7 percent of the annual recruits, or about 3,100 women. The 10 percent goal would require him to bring in about 3,400 women recruits a year; he believes that is well within reach.

          "We're going to exceed the goal that was set for us. I feel confident," said General Kennedy. "I think we can blow through 10 percent like it's an elevator stop."



          7)  Unrest in Milwaukee After Fatal Police Shooting

          AUG. 14, 2016


          Angry crowds confronted the police in Milwaukee on Saturday night, setting fires and throwing rocks, after an officer shot and killed a fleeing armed man earlier in the day.

          One fire, at a gas station in the Sherman Park neighborhood, burned unattended while gunshots kept firefighters from extinguishing it. Other fires burned at an auto-parts store, a beauty supply company and a bank branch.

          One police officer was hospitalized with a head injury after a brick was thrown through the window of his patrol car, Mayor Tom Barrett said at a news conference early Sunday morning. The police reported just before 3:30 a.m. that order was being restored to the area.

          Three people were arrested on unspecified charges during the mayhem, during which crowds of at least 200 people flooded the streets, said Assistant Chief James Harpole of the Milwaukee police.

          The shooting and protests come as communities across the nation scrutinize what many see as excessive use of force by law enforcement officers, particularly against black people. Protests broke out across the country last year after a police officer in Madison, Wis., fatally shot an unarmed biracial man.

          The race and identity of the officer and the man shot and killed on Saturday were not immediately released.

          Many of the protesters were black, and Alderman Khalif J. Rainey expressed the frustration within the community. "The black people of Milwaukee are tired," he said. "They're tired of living under this oppression.

          "What has happened may not have been right," Mr. Rainey said, "I'm not justifying that, but nobody can deny that there are racial problems here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that have to be rectified, because if you don't, you're one day away."

          The Saturday shooting came after more violence in Milwaukee. Five people were shot and killed overnight Friday, Mr. Barrett said at a news conference recorded by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel earlier on Saturday. At least two of those occurred near where the officer shot the man on Saturday.

          The violence overnight Saturday erupted after an officer killed a man who the police said was armed with a semiautomatic handgun and who fled after a traffic stop.

          The police said two uniformed officers stopped two people in a car at about 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. The police did not provide details on why the car was stopped, though Mr. Barrett said the incident began when police spotted a "suspicious vehicle."

          Both occupants ran from the car. During the pursuit, Mr. Barrett said, an officer ordered the man to drop his gun and fired when he did not, striking the man in the chest and an arm. He said the gun held 23 rounds.

          The man, described by the police as a 23-year-old Milwaukee man with a lengthy arrest record, died at the scene.

          The handgun had been taken in a burglary in March, the police said. The officer was not named, but officials said he was 24 and had been an officer for three years. He was placed on administrative duty.

          Mr. Barrett appealed to parents to keep their children off the streets in order to restore calm in the neighborhood. "Parents, get your kids home," he said at the news conference.

          Mr. Barrett said that the officer was wearing a body camera that he understood to be operating and that the investigation into the shooting would be conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Justice because the case involved a Milwaukee police officer.

          Correction: August 14, 2016 

          An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of a Milwaukee alderman. He is Khalif J. Rainey, not Raney.



          8)  Why American Schools Are Even More Unequal Than We Thought

          Education is deeply unequal in the United States, with students in poor districts performing at levels several grades below those of children in richer areas.

          Yet the problem is actually much worse than these statistics show, because schools, districts and even the federal government have been using a crude yardstick for economic hardship.

          A closer look reveals that the standard measure of economic disadvantage — whether a child is eligible for a free or reduced-price lunch in school — masks the magnitude of the learning gap between the richest and poorest children.

          Nearly half of students nationwide are eligible for a subsidized meal in school. Children whose families earn less than 185 percent of the poverty threshold are eligible for a reduced-price lunch, while those below 130 percent get a free lunch. For a family of four, the cutoffs are $32,000 for a free lunch and $45,000 for a reduced-price one. By way of comparison, median household income in the United States was about $54,000 in 2014.

          Eligibility for subsidized school meals is clearly a blunt indicator of economic status. But that is the measure that policy makers, educators and researchers rely on when they gauge gaps in academic achievement in schools, districts and states.

          The National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called the Nation's Report Card, publishes student scores by eligibility for subsidized meals. Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act and its successor, the Every Student Succeeds Act, districts have reported scores separately for disadvantaged children, with eligibility for subsidized meals serving as the standard measure of disadvantage.

          With Katherine Michelmore, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Michigan, I have analyzed data held by the Michigan Consortium for Educational Research and found that this measure substantially understates the achievement gap.

          In Michigan, as in the rest of the country, about half of eighth graders in public schools receive a free or reduced-price lunch. But when we look more closely, we see that just 14 percent have been eligible for subsidized meals every year since kindergarten. These children are the poorest of the poor — the persistently disadvantaged.

          The math scores of these poorest children are far lower than predicted by the standard measure of economic disadvantage. The achievement gap between persistently disadvantaged children and those who were never disadvantaged is about a third larger than the gap that is typically measured.

          Education researchers often express test score differences in standard deviations, which allows for a consistent measure of gaps across different tests, populations and contexts. Measured using that conventional approach, the gap in math scores between disadvantaged eighth graders and their classmates in Michigan is 0.69 standard deviations. This places disadvantaged children roughly two grades behind their classmates. By contrast, the gap based on persistent disadvantage is much wider: 0.94 standard deviations, or nearly three grades of learning.

          In fact, there is a nearly linear, negative relationship between the number of years of economic disadvantage and math scores in eighth grade. These lower scores do not appear to be caused by more years of disadvantage, however. When we look at third-grade scores, nearly all of the eighth-grade score deficit is already in place. By third grade, those children who will end up spending all of primary school eligible for subsidized meals have already fallen far behind their classmates.

          What is the explanation? It appears that years spent eligible for subsidized school meals serves as a good proxy for the depth of disadvantage. When we look back on the early childhood of persistently disadvantaged eighth graders, we see that by kindergarten they were already far poorer than their classmates.

          We can see this with national data. The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, run by the Department of Education, tracks a sample of children who started kindergarten in 1998. Among children who were eligible for subsidized meals through eighth grade, household income during kindergarten was just $20,000. For those who were only occasionally eligible, it was closer to $47,000, and for those never eligible, $80,000.

          These data also show that persistently disadvantaged children are far less likely than other students to live with two parents or have a college-educated mother or father. Just 2 percent of persistently disadvantaged children have a parent with a college degree, compared with 24 percent of the occasionally disadvantaged (and 57 percent of those who were never disadvantaged).

          No one ever actively decided that eligibility for subsidized meals was the best way to measure students' economic disadvantage. The metric was widely available and became by default the standard way to distinguish between poorer and richer children. But it was always an imprecise measure, and we can do better at little cost.

          Many states now use administrative data on eligibility for means-tested programs such as welfare benefits and food stamps to automatically qualify children for subsidized meals in school. Since these programs have a range of income cutoffs, their eligibility flags can be used to distinguish between children who are extremely poor and those who are nearly middle class. The children whose families persistently receive benefits will be the neediest of all.

          Why does all this matter? Many federal, state and local programs distribute money based on the share of a district's students who are eligible for subsidized meals. But schools that have identical shares of students eligible for subsidized meals may differ vastly in the share of students who are deeply poor. The schools with the most disadvantaged children have greater challenges and arguably need more resources.



          9) American Simone Manuel speaks out on police brutality, race after earning Olympic gold

          Martin Rogers, USA TODAY Sports 11:14 a.m. EDT August 12, 2016


          RIO DE JANEIRO – American swimmer  Simone Manuel  spoke out about the United States' police brutality controversy after claiming a historic gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle at the Rio Olympics on Thursday night.

          Manuel became the first African-American female swimmer to take gold in an individual event when she surged home in the final half of the second lap to finish in a time of 52:70.

          That tied her with 16-year-old Canadian  Penny Oleksiak , the pair sharing a new Olympic record and both receiving a gold medal.

          Manuel said that her victory was extra special in the context of ongoing race issues in the U.S.

          "It means a lot, especially with what is going on in the world today, some of the issues of police brutality," Manuel said. "This win hopefully brings hope and change to some of the issues that are going on. My color just comes with the territory."

          Australia's  Cate Campbell  was a strong favorite going into the race, but Manuel remained calm as her rival faded. Manuel finished in blistering fashion.

          When Manuel looked up after touching the wall, she saw red lit dots on her block that indicated she had at least finished among the podium places, and admitted she was "super surprised" when she turned around and saw the "1" next to her name on the scoreboard.

          For Manuel, the victory could not have been sweeter. In the lead-up to the event she forced herself to briefly distance herself from the significance of being a rare black swimmer representing the U.S, in order to focus on chasing victory.

          "It is something I've definitely struggled with a lot," Manuel said. "Coming into the race I tried to take weight of the black community off my shoulders. It's something I carry with me. I want to be an inspiration, but I would like there to be a day when it is not 'Simone the black swimmer.'

          "The title of black swimmer suggests that I am not supposed to win golds or break records, but that's not true because I train hard and want to win just like everyone else."

          When Manuel and teammate  Lia Neal  were both selected for Rio, it was the first time two black female athletes were chosen to be on the American swim team at the same time.

          Manuel will compete again later in the meet in the 50-meter freestyle and previously took silver as part of the 4x100 freestyle relay team.

          "This medal is not just for me. It is for some of the African-Americans who have come before me," she added, referencing former Olympians  Maritza Correia  and  Cullen Jones . "This medal is for the people who come behind me and get into the sport and hopefully find love and drive to get to this point.



          10)  Private federal prisons more dangerous, damning DoJ investigation reveals

          By Oliver Laughland

          August 12, 2016


          Privately operated government prisons, which mostly detain migrants convicted of immigration offenses, are drastically more unsafe and punitive than other prisons in the federal system, a stinging investigation by the US Department of Justice's inspector general has found.

          Inmates at these 14 contract prisons, the only centers in the federal prison system that are privately operated, were nine times more likely to be placed on lockdown than inmates at other federal prisons and were frequently subjected to arbitrary solitary confinement. In two of the three contract prisons investigators routinely visited, new inmates were automatically placed in solitary confinement as a way of combating overcrowding, rather than for disciplinary issues. 

          The review also found that contract prison inmates were more likely to complain about medical care, treatment by prison staff and about the quality of food. 

          Contract prisons almost exclusively incarcerate low-risk inmates convicted of immigration offenses. These facilities house around 22,000 individuals, mostly deemed "low risk", at an annual cost of $600m. They are operated by three private companies: Geo Group, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), and Management and Training Corporation (MTC). 

          Investigators determined that these facilities were also more dangerous than others in the federal system. For example, the report found that inmate on inmate assaults were 28% higher in contract prisons, and confiscation of contraband mobile phones occurred eight times more.

          At the Eden detention center in Texas, operated by CCA and one of the three institutions routinely visited by investigators, the inspector general found that staff failed to discipline inmates in over 50% of disciplinary incidents. 

          "This is the latest in a whole series of reports and investigations that have found very serious issues with Bureau of Prisons shadow systems of private prisons," said Carl Takei, a staff attorney with the ACLU's national private prison project and one of the authors of the 2014 report Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped In Our Shadow Private Prison System, which investigated contract prisons in Texas.

          "Federal officials should be reconsidering their alliance on private prisons and developing plans to begin cancelling these contracts, rather than continuing this experiment." 

          Among the most stark of the ACLU's 2014 findings was the severe medical understaffing and "extreme cost cutting" that limited inmates access to healthcare. 

          Elements of these findings are replicated in the inspector general's report, which identified serious flaws in the oversight of medical care in a number of contract prisons. 

          "In one instance," the report documents, "when an inmate had trouble breathing, the contract prison medical staff told him to place a sick call, which would put him on a list of inmates waiting to be seen by medical personnel instead of being treated immediately.

          "However, after he died, the mortality reviews showing this deficiency gave the onsite monitors no guidance on what steps to take to require corrective action. As a result, contractor deficiencies went uncorrected and corrective actions were delayed." 

          The inspector general recommends that the US justice department should convene a "working group" to probe the causes of the disparity in safety standards between contract prisons and publicly operated facilities, and states that federal government should strengthen oversight provisions across the board.



          11)  Racial Violence in Milwaukee Was Decades in the Making, Residents Say

          AUG. 14, 2016




          The burning buildings, smashed police cars and scuffles between police officers and angry protesters on Milwaukee's north side over the weekend might have seemed like a spontaneous eruption.

          But for many in the city's marginalized black community, it was an explosive release decades in the making.

          Milwaukee is one of the United States' most segregated cities, where black men are incarcerated or unemployed at some of the highest rates in the country, and where the difference in poverty between black and white residents is about one and a half times the national average. There are barren lots and worn-down homes all over the predominantly black north side, while mostly white crowds traffic through the restaurants and boutiques downtown, or inhabit the glossy lakefront high rises.

          Add to that the disrespect that many black people say the police show them, and many of Milwaukee's African-American residents are unsurprised by the volatile response after a police officer fatally shot a black man on Saturday — even though, as it turns out, the officer also was black.

          "This isn't just, 'Oh, my gosh, all of a sudden this happened,'" said Sharlen Moore, 39, who lives in Sherman Park, the mostly African-American neighborhood where the shooting and unrest occurred. "It's a series of things that has happened over a period of time. And right now you shake a soda bottle and you open the top and it explodes, and this is what it is."

          Milwaukee, a city of nearly 600,000, joins other embattled parts of the country like Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo., where police killings did not so much draw outrage for the deaths alone, but for the systemic problems that have so many black people feeling hopeless.

          In some ways, city officials had been bracing for, if not expecting, a surge of unrest.

          After federal prosecutors declined last year to charge a former Milwaukee police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, the city's police chief, Edward A. Flynn, asked the Justice Department to work with his department to examine its patterns and practices. The review, Chief Flynn has insisted, would show that his department was doing things right and committed to transparency.

          In that shooting from 2014, the victim, Dontre Hamilton, had a history of mental illness and had been sleeping in a park when the officer, Christopher Manney, approached him. Mr. Manney, who was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, said that Mr. Hamilton, 31, had grabbed his baton and hit him, though some witnesses disputed that account.

          Chief Flynn received praise from some black people for firing Mr. Manney, but some criticized the chief because he refused to say that the shooting itself was unjustified.

          "At the end of the day, he's going to support his officers, even when wrong is wrong," Ms. Moore said.

          The authorities are still investigating whether the officer in Saturday's shooting did anything wrong. The police have so far said that two men ran from a car, one of them was armed and when he refused orders to drop his gun, an officer fatally shot him.

          In his two and a half decades as a Milwaukee police officer, Cedric Jackson said he did not feel that supervisors appropriately addressed concerns of wrongdoing within the department. One common practice, he said, was that after catching suspects who ran, officers would rough them up.

          "If they caught you in a backyard or alleyway, they'd want to beat you up," said Mr. Jackson, who is black and retired in 2011.

          His complaints about that custom to colleagues and supervisors were ignored, he said. As was the dismay he expressed about how officers policed communities that were predominantly black. White officers, he said, "really viewed blacks as less than them or animals or not deserving of respect."

          That is how Noble Durrah, 17, said he felt he was treated one day when he was walking home from school with his 4-year-old niece. The police appeared to be chasing someone and they ran through an alley and stopped him. A white officer grabbed him, he said, shoved him down and swore at him as he told him not to move.

          The officer continued his chase and then returned to ask him questions, Mr. Durrah said. "I was like, 'You just pushed me down and was roughing on me, and you expect me to tell you stuff,'" Mr. Durrah recalled.

          Timothy Durrah, 53, Noble's great-uncle, added that "Milwaukee is one of the most prejudiced cities there is."

          That problem, some residents say, began from the time black people started migrating to Milwaukee in large numbers in the second half of the 20th century.

          They settled there as the city's manufacturing economy began to dwindle, when jobs disappeared or moved to the suburbs. Many black people found themselves trapped in substandard living conditions on the north side without stable jobs to help them reach a better life.

          For a time, efforts to tear down the racially discriminatory housing barriers went unheeded, if not ignored. Vel Phillips, the first black woman elected to the City Council, saw her colleagues repeatedly vote against a fair housing ordinance she proposed in the 1960s. As the Council failed to act, riots broke out in July 1967 that led to the deployment of the National Guard. That unrest left at least three dead, 100 injured and 1,740 arrested, according to the Milwaukee County Historical Society.

          While historians do not point to a single inciting event for that riot, it came at a time of growing resentment over housing segregation, poor schools and the construction of highways that wiped out many black businesses and households in Bronzeville, which was the economic heart of black Milwaukee.

          "Unless something is done about the uninhabitable conditions that the black man has to live in, Milwaukee could become a holocaust," the Rev. James E. Groppi, a leading civil rights activist at the time, told the City Council five days before the 1967 riot started, according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

          Father Groppi, who died in 1985, eventually would lead 200 straight days of protests, and the city finally passed its fair housing law after Congress passed its landmark federal legislation in 1968.

          But while many formal discriminatory barriers have fallen, many black residents of Milwaukee today see a persistent racial divide that they say has created an urgency similar to what Father Groppi expressed decades ago.

          "The people have been calm," Dontre Hamilton's brother, Nate, told reporters two years ago after local prosecutors declined to file charges. "The people have not stood up. So when will we stand up?"

          Imbalances in mortgage lending continue to stifle homeownership and devalue predominantly black areas. A study released last month by National Community Reinvestment Coalition found that while black people made up 16 percent of the metro population in 2014, they received only 4 percent of the loans.

          While court-ordered and voluntary desegregation programs had helped to usher in school integration by 1987, those programs have since faded and schools in the metropolitan area are as segregated now as they were in 1965. Nearly three in four black students attend schools where at least 90 percent of the students are not white, according to Marc V. Levine, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Only 15.7 percent of Milwaukee Public School students tested proficient in reading in 2013-14, and 20.3 percent in math.

          And even those people fortunate enough to graduate from these highly segregated schools have a grim outlook. Nearly one out of every eight black men in Milwaukee County has served time behind bars, according to a 2013 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee study. The black unemployment rate in Milwaukee County is 20 percent, nearly three times greater than for white people.

          These social ills foster a grim cycle, said Reggie Moore, who is the director of the city's Office of Violence Prevention and is married to Ms. Moore. They create transient communities with a lot of poverty, he said, where residents are less likely to be invested and engaged in what is going on, which allows crime to fester more easily.

          Tackling the root causes of crime would be the most effective way to make the community safer and calm tensions, he said.

          "I think it's a matter of having a dual conversation about what justice needs to look like in this particular situation, but also the broader conversation of what a just community looks like," Mr. Moore said. "What are the systemic issues that need to be addressed around poverty, racism, segregation and inequity to reduce the likelihood of this happening again?"



          12)  Milwaukee Police Make 'Multiple Arrests' in Second Night of Unrest

          AUG. 15, 2016




          The authorities in Milwaukee struggled into Monday to maintain order in part of Wisconsin's largest city, which was gripped by unrest after a police officer killed an armed man on Saturday.

          The city police said early Monday that officers in northwest Milwaukee had made "multiple arrests" and that officials had used an armored vehicle to retrieve a shooting victim.

          Although the police reported a night of unrest — the Police Department's Twitter account also said that officers had been targeted with projectiles that included rocks and bottles — Milwaukee officials did not summon the National Guard, which Gov. Scott Walker activated on Sunday "to aid local law enforcement upon request."

          The second night of disorder heightened concern that Milwaukee, with a glittering lakefront that belies its stark racial and economic divides, might be in the opening days of sustained protests about the practices of the police. It was not immediately clear how local officials would respond to the second night of unruliness, but Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee had suggested on Sunday, the day after angry crowds confronted the police and set fires, that additional violence could provoke a curfew.

          By Monday morning, it was clear that the city's efforts to keep peace, including Mr. Barrett's assertion that the man who had been killed had been armed with a handgun when he was shot, had also faltered. The police chief, Edward A. Flynn, identified the man as Sylville K. Smith, a 23-year-old African-American, and said that the officer who had fired the fatal shot is also black.

          "He happens to be African-American, with several years of experience, and he's a very active officer," Chief Flynn said of the officer. "And we are concerned for his safety."

          The police said the officer, who has not been publicly identified, was 24 years old and had been placed on administrative leave. The state, as required by law, is leading the inquiry into the shooting, which Milwaukee officials said had happened after Mr. Smith and another person fled a traffic stop Saturday afternoon.

          When Mr. Smith did not comply with an order to drop his semiautomatic handgun, Mr. Barrett said, the officer opened fire, striking Mr. Smith in the chest and an arm.

          "This event probably took 20 to 25 seconds," Chief Flynn said. "I mean, there was virtually no time between the officer unhooking his seatbelt, turning on his body camera, getting out of the car and immediately there was a foot chase."

          The police did not release video of the episode, but Chief Flynn said that the officer's recorded actions appeared "credible and legally protected."

          But in some of Milwaukee's predominantly black neighborhoods, the killing was yet another outgrowth of exceedingly aggressive and misguided police tactics in this city of about 600,000. The shooting occurred less than two weeks after a coalition that included the N.A.A.C.P. and the American Civil Liberties Union urged Milwaukee to create a civilian oversight panel in a city with some of the country's highest rates of incarceration or unemployment for black men.

          "This city is the most hypersegregated city in the United States, and if you think you can bring in people to patrol to make our streets safe, you can't," Fred Royal, the president of the Milwaukee branch of the N.A.A.C.P., said this month. "The only way you can do that is deal with the economic disparities."

          The Milwaukee police have been under closer scrutiny for months. In December, after prosecutors did not bring charges against a former Milwaukee officer in the 2014 killing of an unarmed black man, the Justice Department announced that the city would participate in its "collaborative reform process," which will yield nonbinding recommendations that federal officials hope will improve "community-oriented policing practices, transparency, professionalism, accountability and public trust."

          The entire process, which is also playing out in places like North Charleston, S.C., and St. Louis County, Mo., takes years and is distinct from a civil rights inquiry that could monitor changes to eliminate unconstitutional patterns or practices.



          13)  Number of Women in Jail Has Grown Far Faster Than That of Men, Study Says

          AUG. 17, 2016

          "The study found that the number of women held in the nation's 3,200 municipal and county jails for misdemeanor crimes or who are awaiting trial or sentencing had increased significantly — to about 110,000 in 2014 from fewer than 8,000 in 1970.(Over all, the nation's jail population increased to 745,000 in 2014 from 157,000 in 1970.)"




          When Dolfinette Martin was convicted of shoplifting more than $700 worth of clothes in Louisiana in 2005, she had five children, no money and an addiction to cocaine.

          Seven years later, in 2012, Ms. Martin became one of a growing number of impoverished women released from prisons and jails whose plight has been largely overlooked during continuing efforts to reverse mass incarceration, according to criminal justice experts.

          "That cycle of poverty — not a lot of resources, not a lot of jobs, the lack of education, you kind of give up," said Ms. Martin, 46, who now works as an administrative assistant.

          On Wednesday, the Vera Institute of Justice and a program called the Safety and Justice Challenge released a report that found that the number of women in local jails in the United States was almost 14 times what it was in the 1970s, a far higher growth rate than for men, although there remain far fewer women than men in jails and prisons.

          The study found that the number of women held in the nation's 3,200 municipal and county jails for misdemeanor crimes or who are awaiting trial or sentencing had increased significantly — to about 110,000 in 2014 from fewer than 8,000 in 1970.

          (Over all, the nation's jail population increased to 745,000 in 2014 from 157,000 in 1970.)

          Much of the increase in the number of jailed women occurred in counties with fewer than 250,000 people, according to the study, places where just 1,700 women had been incarcerated in 1970. By 2014, however, that number had surged to 51,600, the report said.

          And even as crime rates declined nationally, the trend toward jailing women in rural counties continued: Incarceration rates for women in sparsely populated counties rose to 140 per 100,000 in 2014 from 79 per 100,000 in 2000, the study found. During the same period, incarceration rates for women in the nation's largest counties decreased to 71 per 100,000 from 76 per 100,000.

          "Once a rarity, women are now held in jails in nearly every county — a stark contrast to 1970, when almost three-quarters of counties held not a single woman in jail," the report said.

          The counties with the highest rates of jailed women are nearly all rural and include Nevada County, Calif.; Floyd County, Ga.; and St. Charles Parish, La. Each has a population of fewer than 100,000 people but a rate of incarceration for women of more than 280 per 100,000, according to the Vera Institute.

          Like Ms. Martin, 46, who was arrested on shoplifting charges 10 times and was held in jails and prisons throughout Louisiana from 1994 to her final arrest in 2005, the study found that a vast majority of the women are poor, African-American or Latino, and have drug or alcohol problems. About 80 percent have children.

          Most have been charged with low-level offenses, including drug or property crimes like shoplifting, but a growing number are in jail for violating parole or probation, for failed drug tests or for missing court-ordered appointments. Others are unable to make bail or pay court-mandated fees and fines, the report said.

          The trend echoes what has occurred in policing over the past two decades, as the police and prosecutors have focused on offenses that might have once been overlooked, even as rates for more serious crimes have declined, according to the Justice Department. The result, critics say, are overcrowded prisons and jails, many of them filled with nonviolent offenders.

          "As the focus on these smaller crimes has increased, women have been swept up into the system to an even greater extent than men," said Elizabeth Swavola, one of the authors of the Vera report.

          The study found that women accounted for 26 percent of total arrests in 2014, compared with 11 percent in 1960.

          And the most common offenses that led to arrests involved drugs.

          Between 1980 and 2009, the arrest rate for drug possession or use doubled for men but tripled for women, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

          The troubles caused by the arrest of a woman responsible for supporting a family can sometimes never be undone, said Laurie R. Garduque, director for justice reform for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which funds the Safety and Justice Challenge, whose mission is to create fairer, more effective local justice systems.

          "It has a cascading effect," she said.

          During an interview, Ms. Martin said that her children — ages 10 to 16 when she was last arrested — had all once excelled in school, but that they had lost their ability to focus during her absences after the shoplifting arrests. None of her five children, who were taken care of by one of Ms. Martin's nieces, graduated from high school, and her eldest two were incarcerated for various periods, she said.

          "I missed a lot of time," said Ms. Martin, who recently received her associate degree in business office technology. "You live with a lot of regret, a lot of guilt — tremendous guilt — when you have kids in the street trying to survive."



          14)  In U.S. Jails, a Constitutional Clash Over Air-Conditioning

          AUG. 15, 2016





          JENNINGS, La. — The air inside the Jefferson Davis Parish jail was hot and musty. Prisoners, often awakened by the morning heat, hoped for cooling rain after nightfall. And ice, one inmate recalled, brought fleeting relief in the cell she called a "sweatbox."

          Even though summer temperatures routinely roar past 100 degrees here, the jail, like scores of other jails and prisons across the country, has no air-conditioning.

          "It's hot," Heidi Bourque, who was locked up this month for theft, said of the jail as she sat in her home, where the glowing red digits of the living room thermostat showed the temperature as a chilling 62. "It's miserable."

          Her complaints are unlikely to move local residents, who approved funding to build a new jail after local leaders promised two years ago that it would not pamper inmates with air-conditioning. But they speak to a broader debate about the threshold for when extreme temperatures become cruel and unusual punishment.

          Continue reading the main story

          Judges from Arizona to Mississippi to Wisconsin have declared over the years that the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution forbids incarceration in decidedly hot or cold temperatures. Still, prison reform activists encounter deep resistance in their quest to cool the nation's cellblocks.

          "It's almost impossible for courts to deny the constitutional violation because extreme heat undoubtedly exposes individuals to substantial risk of serious harm," said Mercedes Montagnes, a lawyer for three inmates with health issues who challenged conditions on Louisiana's death row. "Now what we're grappling with is the remedy."

          Officials offer a range of justifications for the absence of air-conditioning and for their reliance on cold showers, plentiful liquids and fans to help prisoners manage in the heat. Some contend that cooling systems are prohibitively expensive to install, particularly in older facilities.

          In places like Louisiana and Texas, sweltering states where elected officials cherish tough-on-crime credentials, it is politically poisonous to be perceived as coddling prisoners. And many officials simply say that temperatures are not anywhere near as dire as prisoners and their lawyers claim.

          "For the first 20 years of my life, I lived in a house with no air-conditioning," said Jim Willett, the director of the Texas Prison Museum and a former warden at the state's death house. "I just have a hard time sympathizing with anybody over air-conditioning."

          The Louisiana Department of Corrections declined to comment, citing the lawsuit by Ms. Montagnes's clients, who said that they had at times chosen to sleep "on the hard floor, in spite of the risk of bites from fire ants, because the floor is slightly cooler than their beds."

          A spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which is facing an array of lawsuits over the issue of jail temperatures, including a class-action case, said in a statement that "the well-being of staff and offenders is a top priority for the agency and we remain committed to making sure that both are safe during the extreme heat."

          The spokesman, Jason Clark, said that 30 of his agency's 109 facilities are fully air-conditioned, but he asserted that retrofitting all the department's other prisons would cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

          The disputes surrounding the climate of modern incarceration can be partly traced to 1981, when the Supreme Court concluded that "the Constitution does not mandate comfortable prisons." About 35 years later, states, counties and cities are interpreting the court's words in their own ways.

          In Texas, state regulations require that temperatures in county jails "shall be reasonably maintained between 65 degrees Fahrenheit and 85 degrees Fahrenheit in all occupied areas." But that standard does not apply to state prisons.

          In Louisiana, the placement of a city or parish border can dictate the relative comfort of a night in a local lockup. Pretrial inmates here in Jefferson Davis Parish, a rural area of about 31,000 people where the heat index on a recent afternoon hit 106 degrees, spend their days and nights in the small jail on the third floor of the courthouse. There are fans, but no air-conditioning.

          "We don't want to make it real comfortable for them because we don't want them to want to come back," Christopher Ivey, the chief sheriff's deputy, said in his climate-controlled office two floors beneath the jail. "We try to get it and keep it at a level that it's comfortable enough that they can survive."

          Mr. Ivey, who said no parish inmate had suffered a heat-related illness since the sheriff took office in 2012, said he believed the jail's temperature never exceeded 80 degrees. But a jailer who dropped by Mr. Ivey's office suggested that temperatures regularly reached the mid-90s.

          "You don't leave there not moist," Mr. Ivey acknowledged. Parish officials, who have not faced a court challenge about jail temperatures, did not agree to requests for a tour of the facility or interviews with current inmates.

          But after her release, Ms. Bourque, 25, described an environment where inmates found little relief.

          "It's hot as hell," she said. "The church ladies come over there, and I told her that. And she was like, 'No, I believe hell is hotter.' And I was like, 'It's just an expression. It's hot as hell.'"

          Inmates, lawyers and doctors described similar conditions inside other jails across the South, and some said that temperatures endangered the lives of prisoners with health problems.

          "Once these buildings heat up in the summertime, they never really do ever cool back down again," Keith M. Cole, a plaintiff in the Texas class-action case, said at the Navasota prison where he is serving a life sentence for murder and is being treated for heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. "Air-conditioning to me wouldn't be a comfort. It's a necessity — it's a medical necessity."

          Mr. Cole, 62, said that he understood public skepticism of air-conditioning for prisoners, and that he might have even embraced such an opinion before he was sentenced in 1995. But in an interview, he said, "This isn't about comfort. This is about life or death."

          Dressed in the plain white uniform of a Texas inmate, he spoke for nearly an hour in the prison's air-conditioned visitation center. "This is beautiful," he said. "This is paradise right here. You couldn't ask for anything better than this."

          The state said that adding air-conditioning at Mr. Cole's prison would cost of more than $22 million, with about $478,000 in annual operating costs.

          Many of the pending cases could take years to resolve. A federal judge in Baton Rouge, La., ruled in Ms. Montagnes's favor in 2013, but lawyers for the state and the prisoners are still haggling over fixes after an appeals court's ruling. One proposed solution, detailed in a court filing this month, is what officials described as a "Cajun cooler," which both sides said "essentially consists of a combination of an ice chest, a fan and a duct that emits cool air."

          And as the court battles continue, both sides question why the issue has become such a protracted, expensive battle.

          "In the South, almost everybody has air-conditioning," said Jeffrey S. Edwards, a lawyer for Mr. Cole. "This isn't a luxury anymore. Almost everyone has it, except for these inmates."

          In Jefferson Davis Parish and elsewhere, plenty of people wonder why climate control is even before the courts. Prisoners are serving punishments and do not merit, as people here repeatedly put it, "a country club jail." (Such worries are common: The Florida Department of Corrections felt compelled to list "prisons are air-conditioned" at the beginning on a list of "misconceptions.")

          But since the May 2014 vote here, law enforcement and civic leaders in Jefferson Davis Parish received what they regarded as dispiriting news: Some electronic features of the new jail will need to be kept cool to remain operational.

          So the prisoners will get air-conditioning, after all.



          15)  Navajo Nation Sues E.P.A. in Poisoning of a Colorado River

          AUG. 16, 2016




          DENVER — The Navajo Nation filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the Environmental Protection Agency and several corporations, saying that poisoned water that flowed from a punctured Colorado mine last year disrupted hundreds of lives near a critical watershed.

          The disaster, the federal suit says, has heightened economic and spiritual pain in a region hamstrung by poverty and drought. The tribe is seeking to hold the agency and corporations accountable, be made whole for at least $2 million spent on testing and alternative water sources and be compensated for lost revenue and psychological damages.

          "We cannot just sit back and let the E.P.A. do what they've been doing, just doling us pennies," said the president of the Navajo Nation, Russell Begaye, in a telephone interview. "This river is the main river that gives life to the whole region, not just those who live around the river, but the entire nation. This is our lifeblood. It is sacred to us."

          A spokeswoman for the E.P.A., Nancy Grantham, said the agency could not comment on active legal issues. Representatives from the mining companies and the E.P.A. contractors declined to comment or did not return messages.

          The lawsuit stems from an August 2015 episode in which contractors hired by the E.P.A. to assess a shuttered gold mine — the Gold King in southwest Colorado — accidentally broke the mine's seal, causing about three million gallons of chemical-laced orange sludge to flow into the Animas River south of the mine and then into the San Juan.

          An image of three kayakers on the Animas River became a neon media sensation, drawing attention to a problem that continues to plague the West: The region has thousands of old, acid-filled mines, some leaching into waterways, others that could burst at any time. The mines have filled with poison from water and air entering earth cavities, mixing with sulfurous minerals.

          50 MILES

          Gold King Mine
















          The E.P.A. took responsibility for the accident and has spent $29 million to address cleanup and compensate communities, including the Navajo Nation. But people along the spill's path have continued to feel its effects. The sludge coursed through Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. The E.P.A. is considering whether to declare the area around the Gold King a Superfund site.

          The Navajo reservation, a vast region of red rocks that sits south of the mine, was hit particularly hard by the spill because leaders told people not to use water from the San Juan River for weeks after the E.P.A. said it was safe. Mr. Begaye, the Navajo president, said he was wary of the claim that the stream was healthy enough for agricultural and other use.

          Irrigation lines were cut off. Corn, melons, hay and wheat never made it to market. The spill, the president said, delivered a psychological lashing in a drought-stricken place where water is gold, many live in poverty and the San Juan River holds financial and spiritual power.

          The lawsuit names several defendants: the E.P.A.; two contractors called Environmental Restoration and Harrison Western; four mining companies called Gold King Mines Corporation, Sunnyside Gold Corporation, Kinross in Canada and Kinross USA; and 10 unnamed individuals.

          It alleges that mismanagement of the mine, which had been closed for years but never cleaned up, caused it to swell with toxic water and eventually burst. The suit says that 880,000 pounds of metals spilled out when the Gold King burst, and that "roughly 80 to 90 percent" remains embedded in the river upstream, ready to flush into the Navajo Nation during rains and storms.

          Near the Gold King in Colorado, toxic water continues to flow out of the mine at a rate of 570 gallons a minute. A nearby water treatment plant put in place by the E.P.A. removes 95 percent of contaminants.

          The agency says that the water below the mine and the treatment facility has generally returned to prespill conditions, and local governments have instructed residents to resume recreational and agricultural activities on the Animas and San Juan Rivers.

          The suit is the latest to come out of the mine blowout. Earlier this year, New Mexico sued the E.P.A. and the State of Colorado over the accident. And the E.P.A.'s Office of the Inspector General has opened a criminal investigation into the spill.



          16)  New York City to Pay $4.1 Million to Family of Akai Gurley

          AUG. 16, 2016





          New York City has agreed to pay more than $4 million to the family of Akai Gurley, the unarmed man killed in a Brooklyn housing project in 2014 by a police officer on patrol, according to a lawyer for Mr. Gurley's family.

          The city will pay the bulk of the settlement, $4.1 million, said Scott Rynecki, who represents Mr. Gurley's domestic partner, Kimberly Ballinger, and their 4-year-old daughter, Akaila Gurley. The New York City Housing Authority will pay an additional $400,000, and the officer, Peter Liang, will pay $25,000, Mr. Rynecki said.

          The settlement, reported by The Daily News, was finalized on Monday afternoon by Justice Dawn M. Jimenez-Salta of State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, after two months of negotiations. Efforts to reach a lawyer for Mr. Liang and the city's Law Department late Monday were unsuccessful.

          Mr. Gurley was killed on Nov. 20, 2014, by a ricocheting bullet fired by Mr. Liang, who was on a night patrol in a dark stairwell in the Louis H. Pink Houses in the East New York neighborhood.

          Mr. Liang was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, and the Police Department fired him. But in April, Justice Danny K. Chun of State Supreme Court in Brooklyn reduced the charge to criminally negligent homicide, describing the shooting as essentially an accident. He sentenced Mr. Liang to five years of probation and 800 hours of community service.

          The case frustrated many in the Asian-American community who felt that Mr. Liang, who is Chinese-American, was used as a scapegoat during a national debate about the policing of black communities. And many African-Americans protested the shooting, citing concerns with tactics used by officers in housing projects and drawing parallels to other fatal shootings of unarmed black men.

          At the sentencing, Mr. Liang apologized to Mr. Gurley's loved ones. "The shot was accidental," he said. "My life has forever changed."

          The $4.1 million will be paid out in structured settlements to Akaila, starting when she turns 18 years old, though Ms. Ballinger may petition the court to receive a small portion, perhaps in the form of a monthly stipend, Mr. Rynecki said. A college fund will also be established for Akaila.

          "She looks forward to raising Akaila to be a productive member of society and someone Akai will be proud of," Mr. Rynecki said.



















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