Obama to declare Stonewall Inn the first national monument to LGBT rights

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The Associated Press reports that the Stonewall Inn, birthplace of America's most fabulous protest, will become the first national monument to LGBT rights in the U.S.

The gritty tavern, known colloquially as the Stonewall, became a catalyst for the gay rights movement after police raided it on June 28, 1969. Bar-goers fought back, and many more joined in street protests over the following days in an uprising widely credited as the start of large-scale gay activism in New York and around the word. Annual pride parades in hundreds of cities commemorate the rebellion.

The White House declined to comment. Yet Obama has paid tribute to the site before, most notably in his second inaugural address in 2013. In what's believed to be the first reference to gay rights in an inaugural address, Obama said the principle of equality still guides the U.S. "just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall."

Tweet tip! Things that Stonewall was not:

• The birthplace of gay rights. • A "gay" riot. • Cornfed straight-acting country boys fixing the city. Read the rest

NYPD cops charged with felonies after beating up mailman

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Two NYPD detectives who beat up a uniformed U.S. Postal Service mail carrier were charged with felony assault in Queens wednesday. Angelo J. Pampena, 31, and Robert A. Carbone, 29, were also charged with perjury after CCTV footage of the incident demonstrated that they had lied in their official reports of the arrest.

Mailman Karim Baker's harassment by NYPD began after giving street directions to a stranger who later killed two officers, reports the New York Times. But the October 2015 incident went beyond the usual stop and search, leaving Baker disabled.

Mr. Brown and Mr. Subin said the detectives approached Mr. Baker as he left work on Oct. 21, 2015, in Corona, Queens. Mr. Subin said the encounter was captured on surveillance video from a building across the street, and had been paired with audio from a 911 call from Mr. Baker’s cellphone that recorded what occurred.

Mr. Subin said the officers had asked to see his client’s identification and when he asked why he was being stopped, the officers told him he was parked too close to a fire hydrant. Mr. Baker then called 911 to ask for help, but he dropped the phone when the officers began pummeling him, Mr. Subin said.

The district attorney said Mr. Baker was seated in his car when the detectives punched and kicked him multiple times in the face and body and dragged him from the vehicle. Mr. Baker sustained spinal fractures and a knee injury and has not been able to return to work, Mr.

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Video shows Fort Worth cop pepper-spraying passing bikers from roadside

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A police officer in Fort Worth was taken off patrol Monday after video surfaced showing him pepper-spraying passing bikers from the side of the road. WFAA reports that a force spokesman admitted "pepper-spraying drivers is not a department-endorsed tactic" and confirmed an investigation was underway.

News 8 spoke Monday to Jack Kinney, the man who recorded the video with his helmet camera, and Chase Stone, who edited the video and posted it to Facebook. They say a group of about 200 motorcyclists were traveling up northbound U.S. 287 in Fort Worth Sunday afternoon when a Fort Worth police officer pulled over one of the motorcycle group's "safety vehicles," which is a vehicle that follows behind bikers in case of an incident.

In the edited video, which slows down and zooms in at one point, so viewers can see more clearly, the officer appears to spray something directly into oncoming traffic as he exits his vehicle. The bikers say it was pepper spray.… "His intent was to hit the bikers for sure, there’s no doubt about it," Stone says.

The emerging defense appears to be "people were complaining about the bikers weaving," as if pepper-spraying them at speed is going to make the roads safer. Read the rest

Anti-Beyonce rally a flop

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The only people who turned up to the much-hyped Anti-Beyonce rally in New York? Fans, one of whom waved a placard asking "Where yall at?"

New York magazine's The Cut reported a grand total of three anti-Beyonce protesters, including a man named Ariel Kohane who told reporters he thought the song "Formation" was a call for violence against police.

Early Tuesday a tweet from "Proud of the Blues" account called on protesters to attend.

Conservatives tried to organize the event, at NFL headquarters, to protest Beyonce's recent performance at the Super Bowl. Featuring black-clad dancers in vaguely-military outfits (and followed-up by a music video portraying police violence against minorities) it led to complaints she was being "divisive" and "the real racist."

But so few turned up to support the complaints yesterday that it's became an embarrassment to those who had promoted the event online.

Here's Saturday Night Live poking fun at white folks dealing badly with getting woke by the new song:

The above photo was taken by Miss Al Boogie on Twitter. Read the rest

Cop fired after pointing gun at ex-wife's new husband

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Here's how you actually get fired sharpish if you're a bad cop: you go up to your ex-wife's new husband, put your service gun in his face, then tell him you're going to kill him.

“Although [victim] Knupp was scared for his life, (Knupp) said, ‘You don't scare me, Ed,' ” according to the affidavit.

The detectives said [Cpl. Edward J.] Huwalt resumed calling Knupp “pedophile,” “pervert” and other derogatory names. The detectives allege Huwalt told Knupp to pull over, but Knupp responded that he was leaving and drove away. Knupp reported the threat to borough officials the next morning, and Berger called the detective bureau to investigate.

Brown and Kranitz said they determined that Huwalt's service handgun, a Sig Sauer .357 caliber Magnum, has a blue finish “and matches the description given by Charles Knupp

Ligonier Borough Council unanimously voted to sack Huwalt, 61. Huwalt's also been charged with making threats, reckless endangerment and harassment. Read the rest

Cleveland wants Tamir Rice's family to pay the EMS bill generated by killing him (UPDATE: Claim withdrawn)

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The City of Cleveland has filed a creditor's claim against Tamir Rice's estate. Tamir Rice is the unarmed 12-year-old kid shot dead on sight by a Cleveland cop; they want his parents to pay the EMS bill for the boy's "dying expenses."

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Pittsburgh police chief wants to fire cop who beat up teen

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Last year, Pittsburgh Police officer Sgt. Stephen Matakovich was captured on camera beating up a 19-year-old outside Heinz Field. After lying about the circumstances, he was charged with assault—only to find the charges dismissed last week by a judge.

When video of the attack found its way to the media, however, the story changed: police chief Cameron McLay has now suspended Matakovich and says he will fire him, while prosecutors are planning to refile charges against the officer.

WPXI 11 reports that it'll be hard to make it stick: Matakovich can appeal the decision to city executives who can overrule McLay, then take it to an arbitration panel, where he can select one of the three people tasked with the final decision.

Deja vu: in 2003, Matakovich was recorded threatening to assault a superior officer, but was let off the hook over his own supervisor's objections. Read the rest

Report: more than a third of police forces may destroy civilian complaint records

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Following the release by hackers of a tranche of police union documents, The Guardian's analysis reveals that "more than a third of police departments allow or require destruction of civilian complaint records."

contracts obtained from the servers of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) found that more than a third featured clauses allowing – and often mandating – the destruction of records of civilian complaints, departmental investigations, or disciplinary actions after a negotiated period of time.

The review also found that 30% of the 67 leaked police contracts, which were struck between cities and police unions, included provisions barring public access to records of past civilian complaints, departmental investigations, and disciplinary actions.

Samuel Walker, a professor in criminology at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, said there was “no justification” for the cleansing of officers’ records, which could contain details of their use of force against civilians.

“The public has a right to know,” Walker said. “If there was a controversial beating, we ought to know what action was actually taken. Was it a reprimand? A suspension?”

It's not just darkness clauses. Other union rules include a clause in Independence, Missouri's pre-2007 contract, where officers “involved in a shooting incident” could not be interrogated for at least 12 hours. The Guardian has many similarly ugly unions contract clauses on offer. A union spokesperson's excuse is blandly familiar: if the complaint isn't substantiated when the police investigate themselves, it should be expunged to protect the officer's reputation.

Leaked police files contain guarantees disciplinary records will be kept secret [The Guardian] Read the rest

Watch Judge Vonda Evans sentencing racist cops to years in jail

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Racist cops in Inkster, MI., set out to pull over a black motorist and beat him up. One of them, William Melendez, was jailed for no less than 13 months today for his part in the attack, and Judge Vonda Evans's sentencing statement was a powerful and stirring moral condemnation of his behavior and that of his fellow officers, police culture, and the cynicism it leads to.

Watch the footage at Fox 2 Detroit's website. Warning: racial slurs.

Judge Vonda also spoke before the sentencing, saying Melendez and his officer were playing a "game" when they decided to pull over Dent.

"You forgot the eye of justice was watching. The dash cam designed to protect you - caught you. You knew better," she said.

Update: thanks to Aaron Hamer for the embed link. If you're looking for the best quote, it starts at 4h 22m Read the rest

Video emerges of Pittsburgh cop beating up teen

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Only after assault charges against Pittsburgh police Sgt. Stephen Matakovich were dropped did the public get to see the video of him beating up a teenager.

The off-duty cop, working as a security guard, claimed that 19-year-old Gabriel Despres kept his hands in his pockets after being ordered to remove them and was therefore a "threat."

A judge agreed Monday that Despres was the aggressor and dismissed the charges against Matakovich, reportedly to cheers among police gathered in the courtroom.

But now the FBI plans to review the case after the video of the Nov. 28, 2015 incident outside Heinz Field was posted online.

Though Matakovich also maintained that Despres lunged at and punched him, the video shows otherwise. The grainy footage depicts Matakovich shoving Despres to the ground and launching a series of punches to his head. Despres lifts his arm at one point to shield himself from the blows, but does not appear to retaliate or resist.

It's not Matakovich's first time in the news: in 2003, he was videotaped threatening to beat up a superior officer on the Pittsburgh Police force, but was let off the hook despite protests from his own commander.

Word of the review came a day after a district judge dismissed charges against Sgt. Stephen Matakovich, a 22-year veteran, who had been accused of using unnecessary force in taking down Gabriel Despres, 20, of South Park.… District Justice Robert Ravenstahl’s decision Monday to dismiss charges of simple assault and official oppression against Sgt.

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Justice Department to investigate SF Police, as protests over Mario Woods killing continue

Mario Woods, shot to death by SFPD officers in Dec., 2015.

As protests continue over the death of Mario Woods, who was shot and killed by an SFPD cop in December, the Justice Department announces it will conduct a “comprehensive review” of the San Francisco Police Department.

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Dashcam captures Oregon cop violently kicking motorcyclist

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If you're a cop in Oregon, I guess the way to get promoted is to rear end your unmarked patrol car into a motorcycle and then violently kick the nonresistant rider with enough force to break his collarbone. It'll cost taxpayers $180,000 to settle the lawsuit against you, but that not your problem! Read the rest

Mistrial declared in Freddie Gray police brutality case

Police clashed with protesters near Mondawmin Mall after Freddie Gray's funeral. [Reuters]

A Baltimore judge declared a mistrial Wednesday after jurors were unable to reach a verdict in the case of Freddie Gray, who died after suffering severe injuries while in police custody.

After three days of deliberations, a hung jury was announced for all the charges filed against William Porter, the officer charged with manslaughter, reckless endangerment, second-degree assault and misconduct in connection with Gray's death.

Gray, who was arrested after running from police in April, died after his neck was broken inside the back of a police van, which made multiple stops after picking him before heading to the station. He was not seat-belted in the van and Porter allegedly refused to get him medical care.

Five officers were charged over Gray's death, but NBC News reports that the case against Porter was deemed by prosecutors to be their strongest and an indicator of their chances of success in the other trials.

Over the past two days, the jury of four black women, three black men, three white women and two white men gave signals that they were locked in tense discussions. On Tuesday they told Judge Barry Williams that they were deadlocked and he sent them back to deliberate.

Earlier on Wednesday the jurors asked for a transcript of witness testimony — a request the judge denied. Shortly after, jurors let the court know that they were hung.

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As jury deliberates in Freddie Gray death trial, Baltimore schools warn students not to protest

Police clashed with protesters near Mondawmin Mall after Freddie Gray's funeral. [Reuters]

Jurors in Baltimore, Maryland are now deliberating whether a police officer is guilty of manslaughter and assault in the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died from a spinal cord injury that took place while he was in police custody last April. We know about Gray's death in part because someone took video of his arrest. His family says the police killed him, and it's hard to imagine they're wrong.

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New crowdfunding campaign to help local independent journalists hold police accountable

Reuters

Today Freedom of the Press Foundation is proud to announce a new crowd-funding campaign that will fund local journalists around the United States to file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and other transparency lawsuits aimed at uncovering video evidence of police misconduct and brutality against unarmed men and women. You can donate to the fund here.

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Video of 5 San Francisco police officers shooting a Black man dead goes viral

Photo: @Daniggahot on Instagram

In a now-viral police killing video captured in San Francisco, a 26-year-old man stands up against a wall as a group of police officers aim their guns at him. Mario Woods, 26, was then shot to death, execution-style.

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Cops kick in wrong door, kill wrong man

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An unarmed North Carolina man was shot dead this weekend by Sheriff’s deputies in Harnett County, who reportedly kicked in his door after misidentifying his home as that of a suspect in another crime.

WNCN reports that John Livingston, 33, was shot several times during the incident. Few answers are forthcoming on the circumstances.

[room-mate] Carroll says sheriff’s deputies knocked on their door around 3:30 a.m.

Carroll said they were looking for someone that no longer lived there. When deputies asked Livingston if they could search the trailer, Livingston said “not without a search warrant,” according to Carroll.

Livingston then closed the door.

“The cop kicked in the door, got on top of him, started slinging him around beat him…” Carroll said.

The officers involved are on administrative leave, but their identities have not been released, according to ABC news. One of the deputies received minor injuries, but they were not specified. Read the rest

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