Hey RLD Family! Check out my latest piece which appears on the ACLU of Florida blog.
In the wake of mass shootings, there has been a narrative about who should and should not carry a gun in America. Politicians and high-profile gun groups like the NRA routinely rally to support gun owners and the Second Amendment.
But does their support include all gun owners? The silence is deafening when it comes to people of color and their gun rights.
Three high profile examples come to mind: Philando Castile, Jemel Roberson, and EJ Bradford.
In July 2016, Philando Castile was pulled over while driving in Minnesota. He was a licensed gun owner, and during the stop, disclosed this information to responding officer Jeronimo Yanez. When he reached for his license per the officer’s request, he was shot and killed by the officer. The usual smear campaign ensued – his driving history of minor civil infractions was trotted out before the public. The officer was discharged after being acquitted of criminal charges.
But where was the outrage from the NRA for the death of a licensed gun owner? Rather than vilify the victim, where was the support from the gun community? A spokeswoman from the NRA went so far as to blame Castile in his own death.
Last month, Jemel Roberson was shot to death by a police officer in a Chicago area bar. There was no question as to whether he was a good guy with a gun – he was a security guard at a bar who had just managed to subdue a shooter. As he had the gunman pinned to the ground, the clothing that he was wearing bearing the label “security” did not save him from an officer’s bullet.
Emantic “EJ” Bradford was killed by a police officer in Hoover, Alabama earlier this month. He was shot three times in the back while fleeing a mall shooting. Reports indicate that when the shooting began, EJ pulled out his gun and was assisting other shoppers to safety.
What did the three men have in common?
Read the rest of the article here.
Yesterday, I was pulled over.
The reason given was that my license plate cover was too dark. I never thought it was, nor had I been warned for this previously.
In the past, I had my prosecutor’s badge to protect me — not anymore.
I’m the number two in the state for the most powerful civil liberties organization – the ACLU.
And I felt fear.
I placed my hands over the steering wheel, in full view of the officer. When he asked for my registration, I made sure to move slowly, with my hands continuously in full view.
He commented on my sports car, and my President Obama pin hanging from my rear view mirror. He also commented on my novelty license plate. My plate can be construed in several ways — commonly it is thought to support Black Lives Matter. In truth, the plate is a combination of mine and my husband’s initials. I don’t correct people, because I support intelligent policing. I always liked the double entendre.
Read the rest in the Huffington Post here.
It’s beginning to seem like another day, another police shooting video. We’ve all seen the videos — Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, now Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. The videos go viral, folks become outraged, protests are sparked….but that outrage does not always translate in the court of law.
Why is it, that if these cases get to trial, that the videos do not trigger a quick guilty verdict? Often the outcome is the exact opposite of that.
The simple answer is desensitization. The video is shocking the first couple times you see it, but after a while, the impact lessens. The same way we see kids become desensitized to violence after repeatedly playing violent video games or watching scary movies, is the same way jurors become desensitized after the repeated playing of a troubling video.
There’s no real solution — but it is food for thought.
Ben Hancock at Law.com wrote an interesting piece on this phenomenon.
SAN FRANCISCO – Viral videos of police shooting victims Philando Castile and Alton Sterling in their final moments have left much of the American public seething, saddened and convinced that deep-rooted racial bias led the officers to fire their weapons.
But as compelling as the videos are—and as important as they have become in the broader debate about law enforcement and race—they rarely have the same decisive impact in court that they have on the way the public perceives an event.
Lawyers who have been involved in police shooting cases and dealt with videos as evidence say that often a case rises or falls on what the camera didn’t capture. Attorneys representing accused officers point to a camera’s technical limitations, or the fact that it didn’t see the angle the officer saw, which can wither a criminal or civil rights case targeting the officer.
Sometimes, the more a video is played in court, the less impact it has, and desensitizing a jury to a video’s violence often emerges as a deliberate defense strategy—as does drawing the jury’s attention to uncertainty around what happened immediately before the camera was turned on.
See the rest here.
Please see my latest article addressing the violence we have seen in recent weeks in the Huffington Post.
Usually I Wait.
When there is a high-profile case, a police shooting, something that has tensions and emotions riled up. I wait. I wait until all the evidence comes in, I try not to rush to judgment, I wait in order to look at things as objectively as possible.
Then I saw the Falcon Heights shooting video.
And I cried.
I cried for a woman that I do not know and have no connection to. I cried, because I watch her come to the realization that her boyfriend has just been killed right in front of her. I felt her agony as a victim of crime.
See the rest here.