Category Archives: National

WV Teachers Strike Victorious

By Free Radicalimages

On Tuesday, West Virginia governor Jim Justice announced he would approve a 5 percent pay increase for all of the state’s school employees and a 3 percent hike for all other state workers. His concession effectively ended a four day teacher strike that closed all West Virginia public schools since Thursday February 22.

West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee responded to the tentative deal saying “We are taking this deal in good faith.” However it still needs to be approved by the state legislature causing Lee to warn “We reserve the right — we may have to call our people back out again.”

After a “cool down” period on Wednesday, teachers will return to class on Thursday.

The immediate spark that caused the strike occurred on February 21 when Justice approved a more moderate raise of 2 percent followed by 1 percent increases for the following two years. Justice’s legislation also did not address the rising costs of health care for employees which teachers are still very concerned about. The governor announced he would convene a task force to determine health care resolutions but has not made any promises.

#Boycott NRA Gaining Steam

By Free Radical

Vakerie Castile

Vakerie Castile

In the wake of the deadly school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School a wave of businesses have ended their relationships with the National Rifle Association. By Saturday, Enterprise, First National Bank, Hertz, and Avis, and Symantec have severed ties.

Members of the gun advocacy organization had enjoyed perks and discounts from the companies. However the Florida shooting which resulted in 17 deaths and at least 14 injuries, renewed calls for gun control and a #boycottnra social media campaign.

This most recent development may signal a turning point in the gun control debate as even previous hardliners such as President Donald Trump as well as Florida’s Governor Rick Scott and US Senator Marco Rubio have called for some reforms. They include increasing the age limit to 21 for gun ownership, banning bump stocks to assault rifles, and requiring background checks that more closely scrutinize mental health. However bans on higher caliber assault rifles have not been proposed by these and many other Republican members of Congress, much to the chagrin of a growing high school student movement advocating gun control.

Attacks on the NRA have also come from African-Americans. As conservatives have renewed calls to arm school personnel in order to prevent mass shootings, critics have noted the NRA’s virtual silence in the wake of Philando Castjle’s killing. Castile, a school worker was killed in Minnesota in 2016 after he alerted suburban St. Paul police officer Jeronimo Yanez that he had a gun which he was licensed to carry. The NRA, which champions second amendment rights, did not mount anything remotely close to the public relations campaigns they have become known for in Castile’s defense.

In an interview with the New York Daily News, Castile’s mother, Valerie, pointed to race as the reason for the NRA’s silence in her son’s case. She noted that “My son was one of the good guys, but him being black, obviously they didn’t see him as a good guy.”

Baltimore Cops Convicted of Robbery and Racketeering

By MCNS Staff

Rogue cops Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor.

Rogue cops Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor.

Two Baltimore police detectives have been convicted of robbery, racketeering and conspiracy this past week in a trial that is part of a federal investigation into corruption in the city’s police force.

The two detectives, Daniel Hersl, 48, and Marcus Taylor, 31, were each convicted of racketeering conspiracy, racketeering, and robbery under the federal Hobbs Act, which prohibits interference with interstate commerce. The detectives joined other cops from the Baltimore’s elite Gun Trace Task Force who already pled guilty in a conspiracy that included overtime fraud.

The two former officers face up to 20 years in prison on each count for a total of 60 years, according to The Associated Press.

The trial consisted of statements by four former detectives who testified that the Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force was made up of thugs with badges who stole cash, resold looted narcotics then lied under oath to cover their tracks. They detailed acts of police criminality including armed home invasions stretching back to 2008.

“Their business model was that the people that they were robbing had no recourse,” acting U.S. Attorney Stephen Schenning said after the verdict. “Who were they going to go to?”

Over two weeks in federal court, four former members of the once-lauded unit who earlier pleaded guilty took the stand in their new prison uniforms and admitted to crimes denied for years during internal investigations and lawsuits. The officers were found to have stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, drugs, guns and luxury accessories while pretending to be seizing the goods for legitimate enforcement activities. They concocted reasons to chase and search suspects or enter houses without warrants to sift through goods they wanted and they covered up their involvement in car crashes when rogue pursuits went bad.

While the convictions may seem to be happening in a vacuum, Baltimore and other major US cities face rampant police corruption and subsequent reforms. After the verdicts, Acting Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa said in a statement that the indictment and trial “uncovered some of the most egregious and despicable acts ever perpetrated in law enforcement,” and said he has zero tolerance for corruption.

Much of the behavior which drew the convictions was uncovered under federal investigations as routine violations of residents’ civil rights, particularly against African Americans. Many of the behaviors have been highlighted over the past few years in social justice demonstrations across the US, intensifying after the police killings of unarmed Black people like Michael Brown, Jr. in Ferguson, MO and Freddie Gray in Baltimore.

Dirty Cop Might Clear Meek Mill’s Name

By Free Radical

Meek Mill

Meek Mill

On Thursday, rapper Meek Mill’s legal team won their petition to have an appeal hearing that may lead to his eventual release from prison. The motion followed the recent discovery by the Philadelphia Inquirer that the city’s District Attorney maintained a confidential file of police officers whose histories of corruption and racism was so treacherous that they could not be used as witnesses.

One of those cops is Reginald Graham who was the arresting officer in 2007 which led to a 2008 trial and conviction. Graham, now retired, was the sole witness at a 2008 trial in which Meek Mill was convicted. Graham’s testimony has come into greater question after the discovery of two affidavits by fellow officers.

One officer, Jerold Gibson, who witnessed the arrest, contradicted Graham’s claim that the rapper pointed a gun at him. Gibson noted that Mill discarded his gun and was not told to put it down by Graham. Moreover, Graham never had to duck for cover for fears that Mill would shoot him as he claimed.

Another cop, Jeffrey Walker, gave testimony that while he worked in Philadelphia’s narcotics division with Graham, the latter officer frequently misused confidential informants and fabricated probable cause to attain search warrants. In asking about Graham’s arrest of Meek Mill, Walker noted that it “bears the hallmarks of a fraudulent affidavit, written to manufacture probable cause for the search warrant.”

Meek Mill has been the subject of a national crusade for criminal justice reform following his sentence of a two to four year prison stint after he was convicted of violating the terms of his probation. The sentence, many have deemed to be excessive, came after infractions such as popping a wheelie on his motorcycle.

His music and cause has been celebrated most recently by the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles who opened the game to his music. Even more recently, Slovenian Olympian Tit Stante placed the viral #freemeekmill hashtag on his snowboard at the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.