Pope Francis arrives in Turkey, where he’s to meet with Muslim leaders and denounce violence against Christians and other minorities in the Middle East.
Pope Francis arrives in Turkey, where he’s to meet with Muslim leaders and denounce violence against Christians and other minorities in the Middle East.
The events in Ferguson, Missouri, are a “tragedy,” but the United Nations Committee Against Torture “has to respect the decision” of the authorities not to prosecute Officer Darren Wilson for shooting Michael Brown, committee member Alessio Bruni said Friday.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Authorities shot and killed a man who they say opened fire on Austin police headquarters early Friday morning, and a bomb squad was called in to search his vehicle.
The man also targeted a U.S. courthouse and the Mexican Consulate, Assistant Poice Chief Raul Munguia said at a news conference. Officers were searching the suspect’s Austin-area residents for possible explosives. Police did not immediately confirm whether the man, whose name was not immediately released, had explosives.
The gunfire was reported at 2:22 a.m. Friday, Munguia said, and some bullets hit police headquarters. Munguia did not immediately say whether the consulate and the courthouse were damaged. Both were closed at the time of the gunfire.
“An officer outside the building saw the suspect, fired at the suspect, the suspect went down,” Munguia said.
Officers then saw what appeared to be an improvised explosive device in his vehicle, and that “the suspect was wearing some type of vest,” Munguia said. He did not provide additional details on the garment.
Police are trying to determine a motive for the gunfire, which shut down a stretch of Interstate 35 for hours but had reopened Friday morning.
CAIRO (AP) — Two senior Egyptian army officers were killed early Friday morning as security forces arrested more than 100 Islamists ahead of planned anti-government demonstrations.
The officers were killed in separate shooting incidents by unidentified assailants in Cairo; two army conscripts were also injured. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media. Interior Ministry spokesman Hani Abdel-Latif said seven bombs were dismantled around the country. The Islamists’ call for nationwide rallies to topple the government and in defense of their religion is their first attempt in months to hold large protests in the face of an overwhelming crackdown since the military’s ouster last year of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
Security forces, which earlier vowed to use “lethal force,” have responded with a massive lockdown since dawn. Armored vehicles deployed across the city while cement blocks sealed off roads leading to security headquarters, the presidential palace and the Ministry of Defense.
TV networks carried live footage of Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab chairing an operations room inside the Cabinet to follow up on developments.
While previous demonstrations by Morsi supporters have played down their Islamist nature — focusing instead on opposing the coup against Morsi and restoring Egyptian democracy — the calls for Friday’s protests have featured an overtly religious tone. The ultraconservative Salafi group organizing the rallies has warned of a war against Islam and urged protesters to raise Qurans in the air. The theme of the demonstration is “Muslim Youth Uprising.”
The Salafi Front posted instructions Friday on its Facebook page, listing the names of mosques as gathering points and asking supporters to chant “God is Great” immediately after the end of prayers.
Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood group supported the protest call but warned its supporters against being dragged into a violent confrontation.
“There are credible news and reports about heinous plots by intelligence agencies, police and their paid thugs to commit massacres against revolutionary protesters and the Egyptian people at large,” the group said in a statement. “We call on all anti-coup protesters to give the criminals no opportunity to use violence or spill Egyptian blood.”
Lawyers and women’s advocates welcomed the proposed national law, but said there were loopholes that would allow police officers to shirk taking action on those calls at their discretion.
In July 1967 President Lyndon B. Johnson formed the 11-member National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, better known as the Kerner Commission, to explain the riots that had plagued U.S. cities each summer since 1964 and provide recommendations for the future. The commission’s 1968 report, known as the “Kerner Report,” concluded that the nation was “moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal.” The commission warned that unless conditions were remedied, the country would face a “system of ‘apartheid'” in its major cities.
One of the major issues the commission examined was the conduct of police in African-American communities across the nation. Among its findings and recommendations, the commission concluded:
The abrasive relationship between the police and the minority communities has been a major — and explosive — source of grievance, tension and disorder. The blame must be shared by the total society.
The police are faced with demands for increased protection and service in the ghetto. Yet the aggressive patrol practices thought necessary to meet these demands themselves create tension and hostility. The resulting grievances have been further aggravated by the lack of effective mechanisms for handling complaints against the police. Special programs for bettering police-community relations have been instituted, but these alone are not enough. …
The Commission believes there is a grave danger that some communities may resort to the indiscriminate and excessive use of force. The harmful effects of overreaction are incalculable. The Commission condemns moves to equip police departments with mass destruction weapons, such as automatic rifles, machine guns and tanks. Weapons which are designed to destroy, not to control, have no place in densely populated urban communities.
That was 1968. Is Ferguson, Missouri, the existential reality of America in 2014?
When the St. Louis County grand jury, after deliberating over whether to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown Jr., decided not to bring any charges against him, it was the spark that reignited the longstanding anger and simmering distrust of the system among African Americans in Ferguson and across the nation. Their “cup of endurance” had run over. The inconvenient truth is that many African Americans see that decision as further confirmation of their belief that nothing has changed since the Kerner Report of 1968, and that nothing will; a police officer who shoots and kills an unarmed black man will almost always be exonerated.
The question of whether or not Officer Wilson could have shot to disable Brown rather than kill him is now irrelevant. To black youth and African-American communities in Ferguson and nationwide, the necessary response now is “No justice, no peace!”
To those reading this who may think I am exaggerating: Consider the recent shooting of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black boy carrying a toy pellet gun, by police in Cleveland, Ohio. Ask yourselves this question: Had the boy been white instead of black, would the police have fired their guns to kill him?
It does not reduce the anger of African Americans in Ferguson and other communities that, nationwide, more young black men die at the hands of other young black men than at the hands of police. I don’t have the space here to go into a more extended discussion of this issue, but suffice it to say that “black-on-black” crime is a contributor to the hopelessness that’s so pervasive today among black men 25 and under.
Most white people in America, and many middle-class or professional African Americans, might say, “But why do they have to overturn police cars and set fire to innocent businesses?” I’d respond that such acts, though deeply wrong, are nevertheless expressions of the aforementioned hopelessness experienced by so many black youth today. Their acts of violence say, in effect, “You don’t listen to us; we don’t matter in your world. You have no idea of the numerous, ever-accumulating acts of disrespect by the police against us over the years. Unless you pay attention to and address the systemic hostility we experience daily from police, you will never understand us. Moreover, whether or not you believe us no longer matters, because we will no longer be ignored. You will pay attention to our pain!”
President Obama appropriately condemned the violence, saying, “Burning buildings, torching cars, destroying property, putting people at risk — that’s destructive, and there’s no excuse for it. Those are criminal acts…. [N]othing of significance, nothing of benefit, results from destructive acts.” He explained that the achievements of the civil-rights movement and the passage of the Affordable Care Act “happened because people vote … because people organize. … That’s how you actually move something forward.”
Unfortunately, I believe that these comments, though necessary, will have only limited success at easing the pain of young black youth in Ferguson and nationwide. Something more urgent and more direct is needed. The historic domestic and international accomplishments of the equally historic presidency of Barack Obama risk being overshadow and diminished by a perceived failure of his administration to substantively address the ticking time bomb of distrust between the police and young black men in our country today. So here’s what I propose: The president and the attorney general should immediately convene a meeting at the White House of young black men and their representatives and the chiefs of police of most major urban communities to address this crisis head-on.
And the issue is not just a political question; it is a moral question. As such, it is the unavoidable responsibility of parents and grandparents from the” Joshua generation” to save our children. We are legacy trustees of the hopes and dreams of our forefathers and foremothers from the days of slavery and its ideology of white supremacy. Consequently, we have a responsibility, here and now, in this second decade of the 21st century, to put an end to the license to kill our young black men that police across our nation seem to believe they possess. After Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, we elder “Joshua generation” trustees cannot say we did not know what was happening to our young black men under the United States’ criminal-justice system today. If we don’t act to save our children, who will?
The killing of so many of our young black men by police across the nation is — to paraphrase James Baldwin — our fire this time.
FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — The word spread within minutes of Michael Brown’s death — a young black man with his hands raised in surrender had just been shot by a white cop.
Soon, “Hands Up. Don’t Shoot!” became a rallying cry for protesters in the streets of this St. Louis suburb and a symbol nationwide of racial inequality for those who believe that minorities are too often the targets of overzealous police. Yet the witness accounts contained in thousands of pages of grand jury documents reviewed by The Associated Press show many variations about whether Brown’s hands were actually raised — and if so, how high.
To some, it doesn’t matters whether Brown’s hands literally were raised, because his death has come to symbolize a much bigger movement.
“He wasn’t shot because of the placement of his hands; he was shot because he was a big, black, scary man,” said James Cox, 28, a food server who protested this week in Oakland, California.
Some witnesses said the 18-year-old had his hands held high toward the sky as Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson gunned him down midday Aug. 9. Others thought they saw his hands partially raised, about shoulder high. To some witnesses, his palms appeared out, as if surrendering. To others, his palms seemed open, as if glancing at his wounded hand or gesturing with an attitude of “what are you going to do about it.” Some said Brown’s hands weren’t raised at all.
The truth may never be certain. Despite a three-month state grand jury investigation and an ongoing federal probe, no one has publicly disclosed any photos or videos capturing exactly what transpired.
After a Missouri prosecutor announced Monday night that the grand jury had decided not to indict Wilson, the symbolic chant of “Hands Up. Don’t Shoot!” rang out from protesters from Los Angeles to New York to London.
In Ferguson, some protesters have been wearing shirts with the phrase as they demonstrate outside the police station.
Protester Taylor Gruenloh, a 32-year-old white man from nearby Florissant, said that while he believes there’s truth to claims that Brown had his hands raised when shot, the lack of proof makes little difference to protesters who have found it to be a unifying force.
“Even if you don’t find that it’s true, it’s a valid rallying cry,” he said. “It’s just a metaphor.”
Brown had been walking with a friend down the center of Canfield Drive when Wilson, passing in his patrol vehicle, told them to move to the sidewalk. They did not. Wilson testified that he then realized Brown was a robbery suspect. A scuffle broke out at the vehicle. Wilson fired a shot that hit Brown in the right hand. When Brown ran, Wilson gave chase. At some point, Brown stopped and turned toward Wilson, who opened fire.
Wilson told the grand jury that Brown had his left hand in a fist at his side and his right hand under his shirt at his waist, and was charging toward him.
The phrase “hands up” is peppered throughout the grand jury documents, as prosecutors and investigators tried to clarify exactly what witnesses saw. In quite a few cases, it’s unclear exactly what the witnesses say they saw, because the gestures they made for grand jurors weren’t described in the transcripts.
Some of the witness accounts of the shooting differed so much they didn’t seem like the same scene.
“I saw him in the middle of the street on his knees with hands up,” one witness said. “(The) officer came up to him and shot him in his head and he fell.”
Another witness was insistent that Brown was on his feet and did not raise his hands.
“The officer was already in pursuit of him. He stopped. He did turn, he did some sort of body gesture, I’m not sure what it was, but I know it was a body gesture,” the witness said. “And I could say for sure he never put his hands up after he did his body gesture, he ran towards the officer full charge.”
In some regards, the disputed circumstances of Brown’s death highlight the inherent troubles with eyewitness testimony.
“It’s difficult for people under the best of circumstances to accurately report what happened,” said Elizabeth Brondolo, a psychology professor specializing in the effects of race on mental and physical health at St. John’s University in New York.
For Wilson and others at the shooting scene, what they say they saw may depend not just on their vantage point, but also their view of life, she said.
“The truth always really matters, but it’s important to recognize that past experience to stereotypes also influences the perception of hands being raised,” Brondolo said.
After the Ferguson grand jury announcement, several hundred protesters marched through central London with their hands raised, shouting “Hands Up. Don’t Shoot!” Others carried hand-made banners saying “Black lives matter.” The Brown shooting has particular resonance in London, which was rocked by days of rioting following the 2011 death of Mark Duggan, a young black man shot to death by police under disputed circumstances.
Architect Evan Chakroff was among the protesters this week in Seattle. He said the “Hands Up” gesture is far from a literal representation of the circumstances of Brown’s death.
“My sense is that it’s totally symbolic and a way of representing powerlessness” in the face of inequality and militarized police, he said.
Several demonstrators said focusing on the exact circumstances of Brown’s shooting misses the point of the slogan.
“This is not about one boy getting shot in the street, but about the hundreds just like him who have received the same callous and racially-influenced treatment,” said Oakland, California, protester Gabe Johnson, a middle school teacher. “So ultimately, no, it doesn’t matter at all if somehow we can say for sure whether this one young man really said these words or had his hands up.”
Associated Press writers Jim Suhr and Phillip Lucas, Alina Hartounian in Phoenix, and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this report.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Demonstrators who can’t make bail after being arrested during Los Angeles protests linked to the Ferguson police shooting will be released in time for Thanksgiving dinner, police said Thursday.
About 90 people remained in jail after being arrested late Wednesday, and those who weren’t able to pay the $500 bail were to be released on their own recognizance, LAPD Commander Andrew Smith said. A total of 338 people were arrested over three days during protests in Los Angeles, including 145 on Wednesday.
Those with outstanding warrants or who were arrested on suspicion of a felony will not be released, but those taken in for disturbing the peace and failure to disperse — both misdemeanors — will be freed, Smith said.
Many of them would have otherwise remained in custody until Monday, when courts reopen after the holiday weekend.
“We have the legal right to keep them until Monday but it’s the holidays,” Smith said.
Another 35 people were arrested in Oakland on Wednesday following a march that deteriorated into vandalism.
On Monday and Tuesday, some demonstrators in Oakland vandalized businesses and blocked freeways.
During the demonstration Wednesday in Los Angeles, people marched to a federal building and police headquarters but were turned away by police after heading toward the county jail and then the Staples Center arena.
Nine people were arrested for sitting in a bus lane on U.S. 101 near downtown during one of the busiest driving days of the year.
KANO, Nigeria (AP) — The father of a 14-year-old child bride accused of murdering her husband said Thursday he was appealing to a Nigerian court to spare his daughter the death sentence.
Wasilat Tasi’u is on trial for the murder of her 35-year-old husband, Umar Sani, who died after eating food that Tasi’u allegedly laced with rat poison. “We are appealing to the judge to consider Wasilat’s plea,” her father, Isyaku Tasi’u, told The Associated Press on Thursday.
On Wednesday witnesses told the High Court in Gezawa, a town 60 miles outside Nigeria’s second largest city of Kano, that Tasi’u killed her husband two weeks after their wedding in April. Three others allegedly died after eating the poisoned meal.
The prosecution, led by Lamido Soron-Dinki, senior state council from the Kano State Ministry of Justice, is seeking the death penalty.
The case calls into question the legality of trying a 14-year-old for murder under criminal law and the rights of child brides, who are common in the poverty-stricken, predominantly Muslim northern Nigeria region.
“She was married to a man that she didn’t love. She protested but her parents forced her to marry him,” Zubeida Nagee, a women’s rights activist in Kano, told AP. Nagee and other activists have written a letter of protest to the Kano state deputy governor.
Nagee said Tasi’u was a victim of systematic abuse endured by millions of girls in the region. Activists say the blend of traditional customs, Islamic law and Nigeria’s constitutional law poses a challenge when advocating for the rights of young girls in Nigeria.
Justice Mohammed Yahaya adjourned the court until December 22. Tasi’u is in state juvenile custody.
Once again, the streets are electric with anger after a white police officer evades charges for fatally shooting a black man. Sirens screech and wood batons push back marchers protesting from Missouri to New York to Los Angeles. This time the cadence of “No Justice, No Peace” has been replaced with “Hand’s Up. Don’t Shoot.”