Category Archives: National

Flint Water Crisis Also a Fertility Crisis

By Free Radical

Contaminated water in Flint said to have impacted pregnancies.

Contaminated water in Flint said to have impacted pregnancies.

According to research conducted by two health economists, Flint’s water crisis caused lower pregnancy rates and more instances of infant mortality among city residents.

Scholars David Slusky of Kansas University and Daniel Grossman of West Virginia University found that after April 2014, women in Flint saw their pregnancy rates drop 28% while the city’s fetal death rate increased by 58%.

April 2014 is when the city of Flint switched its water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River, which has been described to have “the presence of fecal coliform bacteria, low dissolved oxygen, plant nutrients, oils, and toxic substances.” Water from the Flint River was also found to be 19 times more corrosive than water from Lake Huron.

The toxicity of Flint’s drinking water was acknowledged by the state of Michigan more than a year after the switch in September 2015. This is after throngs of Flint resident complaints’ of dirty, pungent, discolored water went ignored. By this time, severe lead positioning had already impacted many members of this community.

In comparison to other Michigan cities, babies born in Flint weighed less, were born earlier, and took longer to pick up weight.

As a result of the Flint water crisis, fifteen state and local officials have been criminally indicted, including Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon, state Chief Medical Executive Eden Wells, and Liane Shekter-Smith, the fired head of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s drinking water unit.

Nick Lyon’s manslaughter case, the most serious charge to emerge out of the crisis, began Thursday.


Justice Department Ends COPS Probes

By Free Radical

Under the Trump administration, COPS will discontinue its investigative services.

Under the current administration, the COPS division will discontinue its investigative services.

On Friday, the same day the St. Louis Circuit Courts acquitted ex-cop Jason Stockley of murder, the Justice Department announced that it would end an Obama era program intended to publicize police misconduct.

The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) will cease its procedures to investigate and publish police department shortcomings. This work will shift back to the Justice Department’s civil rights division while COPS will focus on advising police departments on best practices and becoming more collaborative.

Presenting the change as a cost-cutting measure, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reasoned that the realignment is “a course correction to ensure that resources go to agencies that require assistance rather than expensive wide-ranging investigative assessments that go beyond the scope of technical assistance and support.”

This reflects the current administration’s efforts to scale back what little protections were cultivated for citizens against police brutality during the Obama era. Last month, Sessions rescinded an Obama era policy which limited shipments of military equipment to local law enforcement agencies.

According to the Washington Post, some police departments actually preferred the COPS investigations as they were less intrusive than court ordered reforms.

The realignment will impact 14 police departments who are currently in the COPS protocol. The investigations of their agencies will now come to an end.



Chicago Cop Convicted in Surprise Verdict

By Free Radical

Chicago cop Marco Proano was recently convicted of excessive force.

Chicago cop Marco Proano was recently convicted of excessive force.

In what many have called a rare judicial victory for proponents of police reform, a federal jury convicted Chicago policeman Marco Proano of excessive force last week. According to NPR, this is the first time a Chicago cop has been convicted of a federal crime while on duty in nearly 15 years.

In December 2013, Proano and his partner backed up other officers who had stopped a group of black teens for speeding in a stolen car. Dashcam footage shows that Proano held his gun sideways and emptied its magazine after the teens attempted to get away. Proano continued even after the car hit a light pole.

Two of the teens were injured but there were no fatalities.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Erika Csicsila stated in her closing argument that “He came out of his car like a cowboy, he pulled his gun out, held it to one side and aimed it at those kids to send a message and to show who was in charge.”

This is not Proano’s first time recklessly using force while on duty. According to the Chicago Tribune, he shot a 20-year old woman and in July 2011. Proano also shot 19 year old Niko Husband at a dance party. Not only was he not charged, but he was awarded a commendation for valor.

Proano will be sentenced in November.

Autopsy: Charleena Lyles Fatally Shot Seven Times by Police

The autopsy of Charlena Lyles.

Charlena Lyles’s autopsy.

By MCNS Staff

Wednesday, an autopsy revealed that a pregnant black woman was shot seven times by Seattle police.

On June 18, the Seattle police opened fire on Charleena Lyles in her apartment after she called the police to report a burglary. The mother was almost four months pregnant at the time of the shooting. One of the bullets penetrated her uterus, striking her unborn child. As a result, she and her unborn son died at the hospital.

The two officers opened fire on the 30-year-old, 100-pound woman in front of three of her four children after an exchange of words. Her one-year-old and four-year-old children were crawling nearby and her 11-year-old son was in another room. The location of her fourth child was not reported.

Attorney Karen Koehler said that they decided to release the autopsy report to dispel the public assumptions about the case. Toxicology reports were also included which showed that Miss Lyles didn’t have alcohol or drugs in her system at the time. Additionally, the autopsy report shows that Charleena Lyles was shot seven times, including two shots in the back.

The decision to release the autopsy harkens to Emmett Till’s mother’s decision to have an open-casket funeral for her son.

The officers, Jason Anderson and Steven McNew said that they started shooting at Lyles when she lunged at them holding knives.  However, the fact that she was shot in the back, as indicated by the autopsy, leads family members to question the officers’ side of the story.  The Seattle Police Department is still investigating the deadly shooting while both officers are on paid administrative leave.

Lyles struggled with mental illness and had an interaction with the police just two weeks before she was fatally shot. Police responded to a domestic violence call at the house and found Lyles holding a pair of shears close to one of her children. She allegedly talked to police about changing into a wolf and accused them of being members of the Ku Klux Klan. The officers persuaded Miss Lyles to drop the shears and waited with her until her sister could arrive to take care of her children before taking her to jail. Her fatal shooting by police came just a few days after she was released from jail and ordered to seek mental health treatment.

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett hosted a rally and benefit for the children of Charleena Lyles this past Saturday, thus starting a scholarship fund for them.