Category Archives: National

Officer cleared in Alabama Mall Shooting

Emantic Bradford Jr. was killed by Hoover police in late November. The cop who shot him has been exonerated.

Emantic Bradford Jr. was killed by Hoover police in November. The cop who shot him has been exonerated. A civil trial for damages is pending.

By Free Radical

An unidentified police officer has been cleared of the death of Emantic Bradford Jr. Bradford was shot three times in the head, neck, and back late November in a “Black Friday” sale after a fight broke out in a Hoover, Alabama mall. Hoover is a suburb of Birmingham.

On Tuesday Alabama attorney general Steve Marshall cleared the officer of any wrongdoing.

Officers responded to a fight in the Hoover mall which resulted in shots ringing out. Initial reports claimed that they had shot and killed the mall shooter. However the day after the shooting, the Hoover mayor and police chief confirmed that Bradford was not the shooter.

Although there are no indications that Bradford handled a firearm in a menacing way, Marshall’s report suggested that the officer made a “split-second decision” to “ensure the safety of the people there.”

In December Marshall took over the case from Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr who is the first African-American to hold that position. Marshall insinuated that Carr had relationships with protestors and therefore may have been biased.

Protestors have continued to disrupt Hoover city operations since Bradford’s killing. They have held demonstrations at the mall where he was killed, the home of the mayor, and busy intersections.

Bradford’s father who has often been present at the protests expressed, “Do you understand the feeling that I have every night when I lay down at night. And the memories I have of my child when he was young and when he got older. You don’t feel my pain.”

Along with justice for Bradford, protestors have also called for Marshall to release the officer’s identity and police footage of the incident. Marshall has refused.

The Bradford family intends to take civil action against the city.

Mosby Will No Longer Prosecute Marijuana Cases

State Attorney Marilyn Mosby poses in front of a mural of Freddie Gray who was killed in the custody of Baltimore police.

Marilyn Mosby poses in front of a mural of Freddie Gray who was killed in the custody of Baltimore police.

By Malcolm Speaks

Baltimore’s State Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced Tuesday that marijuana possession will no longer be prosecuted in the city.

“For far too long, we have sat back and watched idly as communities and families are literally destroyed by the failed policies of the war on drugs,“ Mosby told NBC News.

“There is absolutely no link between marijuana and violent crime and we’ve seen that all across the country,” Mosby said.

Therefore, “There is no public safety value” to prosecuting marijuana possession, she added.

The State Attorney stated that marijuana convictions disproportionately affect the city’s Black community and that her office will not process any cases of possession, regardless of a person’s prior criminal record.

“In Baltimore, the majority of citations, even after decriminalization, are issued to Black people,” she told NBC News.

Dana Vickers Shelley, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, agreed with this course of action.

“Even though studies show that black and white people use marijuana at similar rates, black Marylanders are consistently arrested at higher rates for marijuana in every county,” Shelley said at a press conference Tuesday.

However, the Baltimore State Attorney’s Office will continue to prosecute the distribution of marijuana, but only if there is “articulated evidence of intent to distribute beyond the mere fact of possession.”

State Attorney Mosby said that prosecuting marijuana possession is “costly and counterproductive to the limited resources we have in the city of Baltimore.”

“If you ask a mother who lost her son where she would like you to use those resources, she will tell you, ‘l want you to use those resources to find my son’s killer,’ as opposed to jailing and incarcerating people for possession of marijuana.”

State Attorney Mosby also announced that her office plans to vacate almost 5,000 marijuana convictions dating back to 2011.

“Jailing people for marijuana possession is a vast and ongoing moral failure,” Mosby said during her announcement of the new policy. She explained her decision by saying that the communities affected by “unjust” marijuana policies are “still paying a price for behavior that is already legal for millions of Americans.”

The State Attorney told NBC News that even if Baltimore police continue to arrest people for possession of marijuana, she will “release those individuals without charges.”

Birmingham Institute Reverses Davis Decision

Angela Davis has been reoffered the Shuttlesworth award from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

Angela Davis has been reoffered the Shuttlesworth award from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

By Free Radical

In an apparent about face, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) re-invited lifelong freedom fighter Angela Davis to accept its Fred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award. The award recognizes “individuals for their service to civil and human rights causes around the world. It is the highest honor bestowed on an individual by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.”

Angela Davis was originally chosen for the award in September. However, it was ironically Angela Davis’s support for human rights, particularly for the people of Palestine that caught the ire of members of Birmingham’s Jewish community which applied enough pressure on the BCRI to force the organization to rescind the award. According to national reports, the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center sent the BCRI a letter urging them to disinvite Davis because of her support for the divestment of Israel and its apartheid style polices on the people of Palestine. In a statement, the BCRI announced that it “began receiving messages of concern from various segments in the Birmingham Community” which persuaded their January decision to no longer honor Davis.

This decision was met with instantaneous derision. Birmingham’s mayor Randall Woodfin, who is also a member of the BCRI board,was dismayed about the undemocratic process in which the decision was made. In a statement, he expressed, “The crisis of leadership at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute represents a clash of values, wherein the institution responsible for stewarding powerful, poignant and respectful dialogue, has demonstrated that they do not value dialogue with residents of Birmingham and the public at large.”

Even Jewish organizations, such as the Jewish Voice for Peace came to Davis’s defense and created a petition urging the BCRI to reverse the decision.

Davis had also stated that she still planned on coming to Birmingham to attend an “alternative event organized by those who believe that the movement for civil rights in this moment must include a robust discussion of all of the injustices that surround us.”

Yet in a reverse of course, the BCRI announced it would reoffer the Shuttlesworth award to Davis. In a prepared statement, the BCRI expressed “in keeping with its commitment to learning from its mistakes and in order to stay true to the BCRI’s founding mission, the board voted to reaffirm Dr. Davis as the recipient. Dr. Davis was immediately thereafter personally invited to reaccept the award.”

Davis has not announced if she planned to attend the event which honors Fred Shuttlesworth, who headed the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, and for many years was the face of the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement.

In related news, on Saturday, it was announced that Black filmmaker Julie Dash will direct a biopic of Angela Davis. It will be produced by Lionsgate and Sidra Smith. The screenplay will be written by Brian Tucker. Davis will be involved in the project which is set to begin filming in June.

Kalief Browder’s Family Wins $3.3 Million Settlement

By Free Radical

Kalief Browder spent three tortuous years in New York City's Rikers Island jail for a crime he was never convicted of.

Kalief Browder spent three tortuous years in New York City’s Rikers Island jail for allegedly stealing a book bag. He was never convicted of the crime.

This family of Kalief Browder reached a $3.3 million settlement with New York City Thursday.  Browder had been imprisoned at the age of 16 in the city’s infamous Rikers Island prison for three years. He was accused of stealing a bookbag but was never convicted. Nearly two years of Browder’s total jail time was spent in solitary confinement. His trial underwent multiple delays (a total of thirty-one court appearances) due to the city’s inundated justice system and regulations that required him to pay a $3,000 bond which his family could not pay.

Browder’s case was the subject of international outrage highlighting an ineffective and racially discriminatory criminal justice system. He was profiled in a New Yorker article which made him a well known symbol of an unjust court system. Yet he was also uncomfortable with his new celebrity.

A year after his 2013 release, he told the New Yorker “People tell me because I have this case against the city I’m all right. But I’m not all right.” Struggling with the trauma of a prison sentence that involved solitary confinement, brutal beatings, unsanitary conditions, and violently abusive guards, Browder took his own life in 2015.

In a prepared statement the family’s attorney Sanford Rubenstein expressed, “It’s a fair settlement, given the tragedy of what happened here. While no money can ever bring Kalief Browder back, we hope the settlement of this case and the changes that took place at Rikers will result in this not happening to any other victims.”

Just weeks after Browder’s 2014 New Yorker story was published, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio began the process of ending solitary confinement for individuals younger than 18. The city has also initiated the closure of Rikers Island and has proposed to move to smaller neighborhood based prisons.

Citing the example of Kalief Browder, then president Barack Obama ended solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons.

An additional tragedy was his mother and most reliable advocate, Venida Browder, died in 2016 while awaiting the settlement.