Category Archives: National

Emanuel AME Survivors Push to Sue Federal Government

By Free Radical

The Emanuel AME Church was the site of a 2015 mass shooting which killed nine people.

The Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina is the site of a 2015 mass shooting which killed nine people in total.

The families of the victims of the horrific Emanuel AME church mass murder which occurred in 2015 have moved forward with their lawsuit against the federal government. They assert that had a routine background check been conducted properly, Dylan Roof, who committed the heinous act, would not have gotten the hand gun in the first place.

Even by the FBI’s own admission, if its guidelines were followed, Roof would not have been able to purchase the firearm.

Roof had previously been arrested for drug possession in Columbia, South Carolina, just weeks before the mass shooting in Charleston. However, the jail clerk incorrectly listed the Lexington County’s Sheriff’s office as the arresting agency. Therefore when a federal examiner contacted the Lexington County office when Roof attempted to purchase a gun, that office directed them to the nearby agency in Columbia. Yet the federal database did not list Columbia and therefore the examiner contacted the West Columbia office which also did not have Roof’s record.

In describing the next chain of events, Billy Wilkins, who represents the victims’ families, says, “So what does she do? Nothing. She quits,”

Roof, after waiting for the mandatory three day period, then purchased a gun at a West Columbia store. This gun was used in the massacre.

Despite clear evidence of errors, Thomas Ward, the deputy assistant attorney general, told judges that the standard operating procedures, which were not followed, are only guides but are not binding.

The judge has yet to make a ruling in the trial. In December 2016, Roof was convicted of 33 federal charges including hate crimes and firearms violations. He has also been sentenced to death.

Mother of Philando Castile Helps Seniors Graduate by Paying Off Lunch Debt

Valerie Castile, the mother of Philando Castile honors her son's legacy by paying the outstanding lunch balances of high school seniors.

Valerie Castile, the mother of Philando Castile honors her son’s legacy by helping Minnesota seniors graduate by paying their outstanding lunch balances.

By Malcolm Speaks

The mother of Philando Castile, a Black man who was shot and killed three years ago by a Minneapolis-area police officer, made a major donation in order to carry on his legacy.

Philando Castile was a cafeteria supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School in Saint Paul, Minnesota and was known to pay for students to eat when they didn’t have money. Therefore, his mother presented a check to another high school in a nearby town in order to pay the lunch debts for hundreds of 12th-graders, thus allowing them to graduate.

Robbinsdale Cooper High School was presented with a check for $8,000 from Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile on Thursday, April 25, which will permit 334 students who previously owed money to graduate. The check came from the Philando Castile Relief Foundation, which was established to help victims who have been affected by gun and police violence as well as to help the St.Paul and Minneapolis MN school districts pay off negative school lunch balances for students.

“This is something that Philando held near and dear to his heart,” Valerie Castile said during a news conference, adding it’s just the thing her son would do as a supervisor at J.J. Hill. “He’d pay for children’s lunch meals out of his own pocket instead of letting a child go hungry that day he would pay for it himself.”

The gift is just the most recent time that Philando Castile’s mother has presented a check to a school in memory of him. In October 2017, she also presented a $10,000 check on behalf of his foundation to the school where he was employed.

Castile was pulled over by police officer Jeronimo Yanez in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, on July 6, 2016. Castiles’s partner, Diamond Reynolds and her young daughter were in the vehicle also. Castile was shot as he reached for his license and registration, which Yanex had requested. This shooting, the aftermath of which was live-streamed on Facebook by his girlfriend, occurred after Castile informed the officer that he had a gun in the car and was licensed to carry it.

New Hampshire Dirty Cop List Made Public

By Malcolm Speaks

A recent court ruling threatens to release a list of poice officers who lack credibility.

A recent court ruling threatens to release a list of New Hampshire police officers who have  credibility issues.

A superior court judge issued an order last Tuesday for the release of the names of approximately 250 New Hampshire law enforcement officers who may have credibility issues.

The New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism, along with several newspapers and the ACLU of New Hampshire, all sued the New Hampshire Department of Justice in order for it to release the infamous “Laurie List” under the state’s Right to Know law.

The Department of Justice argued that this list, which is also known as the “Exculpatory Evidence Schedule,” or EES, is confidential because it contains personnel-related information, which is generally shielded from disclosure.

In his ruling, Judge Charles Temple wrote that since there is no “employee-employer relationship” between the officers who work for local police departments, and the DOJ, the records could not be considered personnel-related. Therefore, the EES “is not a personnel file within the meaning of the statute,” according to Judge Temple.

The state has retained such a list since 1995 in order to notify defendants in criminal cases when an officer with possible credibility issues is involved, as required by law.

However, during oral arguments in the case last October, New Hampshire Solicitor General Dan Will, argued that “per legislative directive, this is strictly confidential stuff.”

But the court cited a previous ruling that the state’s Right to Know law is meant to ensure “the greatest possible public access” to information and thus, sided with the petitioners.

“When you keep information like this secret, it creates distrust and suspicion,” stated Gilles Bissonnette of the New Hampshire ACLU. “It’s bad for the public, it’s bad for police. It is really critical that we don’t undermine faith and confidence in law enforcement, but that’s what secrecy does.”

The Attorney General’s office could appeal the decision in the state Supreme Court. However, the Solicitor General, in a statement said, “the Court did not order the immediate production of an unredacted EES. The Court’s order is not a final order in the case and, therefore, is not subject to immediate appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.”

Nevertheless, in a statement, Nancy West of the N.H. Center for Public Interest Journalism, said, “I hope this means we will be able to publish the full unredacted Laurie List right away.”

Flint Residents Can Sue Federal Government for Lead Poisoning

According to a new ruling, Flint residents can sue the federal government for what many believe is its lax oversight of the city's water crisis.

According to a new ruling, Flint residents can now sue the federal government for what many believe is lax oversight of the city’s water crisis which had begun in 2014.

By Malcolm Speaks

A federal judge ruled that residents of Flint, Michigan can move forward with lawsuits that were filed against the US federal government for their failure to protect them from the poisoning of city water, according to CNN.

The lawsuits state that the Environmental Protection Agency was too slow to intervene in the crisis and US Judge Linda V. Parker ruled that the federal government is not immune from legal action in this case.

More than a dozen lawsuits, including class-action cases, were filed against Michigan and the City of Flint after it was verified that the city’s water had been contaminated with lead as early as of 2014. However residents’ drinking water continued to be contaminated and they were given misinformation about its safety. Even as of this year, U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee stated that the city’s water quality is improving but he doesn’t trust that it’s safe to drink.

At least one lawsuit also clarified that the state hadn’t even treated the water with an anti-corrosive agent, which is in violation of US federal law.

“The impact on the health of the nearly 100,000 residents of the City of Flint remains untold,” Parker wrote in Thursday’s opinion and order. “It is anticipated, however, that the injury caused by the lead-contaminated public water supply system will affect the residents for years and likely generations to come.”

The lawsuits also charge that the EPA “negligently responded to the water crisis,” according to the court ruling.

“The EPA was well aware that the Flint River was highly corrosive and posed a significant danger of lead leaching” into residents’ homes.

The EPA also knew the health risks posed by lead exposure and that local authorities “were not warning Flint’s residents that they were being supplied lead-laced water. Quite to the contrary, the EPA learned that State and local officials were misleading residents to believe that there was nothing wrong with the water supply,” the judge wrote.