News Round-Up: October 5, 2021

Pride flag flies in the breeze

Some news items you might have missed:

The Advocate: Southwestern High School in Piasa, Illinois, held a flag-themed day, and one student brought a rainbow Pride flag. A fellow student told him to get rid of the flag, and when the first student asked why, another schoolmate began punching and beating him while trying to take the flag away. The accused attacker has been charged with aggravated battery. Continue reading “News Round-Up: October 5, 2021”

Derek Chauvin Sentenced To 22.5 Years In Prison In George Floyd Murder

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison after being found guilty of second degree murder, third degree murder and manslaughter.

From Mother Jones:

In Minnesota, the maximum sentence for unintentional second-degree murder — Chauvin’s most serious crime — is 40 years, but the recommended sentence for people with no prior criminal record is 12.5 years. Judge Peter Cahill said on Friday that he added 10 years to the presumptive sentence “based on your abuse of a position of trust and authority, and also the particular cruelty shown to George Floyd.”

With good behavior, Chauvin, 45, could be paroled after serving two-thirds of his sentence, or about 15 years.

Prosecutors had asked for a 30 year sentence, and Chauvin’s attorney asked for probation and time served.

It’s worth remembering that Chauvin tortured Floyd to death, in public, in front of children. People are sentenced to life in prison for far less.

Here’s the sentencing by the judge as well as the statement Chauvin made today:

NYC Pride Reverses On Gay Cops Marching In Parade, Then Reverses Again

The logo for NYC Pride 2021

The logo for NYC Pride 2021

Heritage of Pride, the group that organizes New York City Pride events each year, reversed it’s decision to ban gay armed police officers in uniform from marching in this year’s Pride Parade last night.

The original decision, announced last week, sparked days of controversy voiced by the Gay Officers Action League (GOAL).

So, last night the general membership voted to allow uniformed gay officers to march in the parade

“By a 55-40% margin (5% abstaining), they voted to let GOAL march in uniform with concealed weapons but NOT to have an ‘NYPD’ contingent in the parade,” wrote Andrew Humm on Facebook. “Andre Thomas, the co-chair, resigned as did some other people of color at the meeting who were left in tears.”

But at 1:30am, the HOP board announced they had reversed the reversal, saying they “voted to set a new policy regarding GOAL’s participation in an effort to be mindful and focus on our mission of creating safe space for marginalized communities.”

“It fell under our purview to do so, as elected representatives of this organization,” continued the board. “We firmly believe that this decision is in the best interest of our community.”

Having decided the officers “will not march armed and in police uniforms,” the board shared it may consider allowing gay officers to march out of uniform and without armed weapons.

The Executive Board of HOP cited past actions by police officers against LGBTQ people and POC as the reasons for excluding armed police officers in uniform.

The NYPD, and policing across America, is fundamentally flawed. These are institutions started as slave patrols, and continue to oppress Black, Brown, Indigenous, POC, LGBTQ+ individuals, and individuals who stand at the intersections of these identities.

Over their lifetime, Black men have a 1 in 1000 chance of being killed by the police. LGBQ people are six times more likely to be stopped by the police.

Nearly 3 out of 4 of lethal anti-LGBT hate crimes committed against transwomen and girls.

Transgender individuals who survive violence are 3.7 times more likely to experience police violence compared to non-transgender survivors and7times more likely to experience physical violence when interacting with the police.

Until 2021, transpeople in New York could be arrested for wearing clothes that did not correspond with their sex assigned at birth. And after over 267 complaints related to abuse of force by NYPD when dealing with protesters, only two officers have faced serious disciplinary action.

In the past year, as Black Lives Matter protests spread across the nation following the murder of George Floyd and other Black men, HOP notes that NYC police officers attacked queer people who took part in the protests.

HOP also points out that the gay rights movement was born out of a vicious 1969 police raid on the Stonewall Inn gay bar.

That said, due to pressure from LGBTQ advocacy groups, the NYPD issued an official apology in 2019 for the 1969 raid as well as for years of brutal treatment of LGBTQ people in the city. In their statement last week, GOAL made note of the work being done by gay  police officers to improve relations between police and the LGBTQ community.

As I reported last night, the New York Times editorial board penned an op-ed this week calling the banning of gay police officers by HOP a “misstep.” The Times added that the decision “disproportionately affects L.G.B.T.Q. police officers, many of whom have been fighting for reforms; they shouldn’t be judged, and even set back, by the worst behavior of their colleagues.”

Officer Investigated After Video Shows Suspect Being Punched While Restrained

A peaceful protester is punched by a Louisville police officer while four more cops restrain the man
(screen capture via Facebook)

Disturbing video posted to social media appears to show a Louisville, Kentucky, police officer punching a protester as four other officers are involved in restraining the man.

From WLKT:

A Louisville Metro police officer is facing an internal investigation after video surfaced on social media of him striking an individual several times in the face.

The video was posted to Facebook Sunday and shows five police officers involved in the attempted arrest of the man at Jefferson Square Park.

The video shows the officers force the man to the ground, and as that’s occurring, one of the LMPD officers begins striking the individual in the face. Once the man is mostly on the ground, the officer can be seen repeatedly striking the individual.

The four other officers continue to pin the man down as they try to arrest him. 

The man, identified as Denorver Garrett, was booked on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Chief Erika Shields said in a statement, “This raises serious questions and is not consistent with LMPD training.”

Read the full article here.

No Charges For Cops Who Shoved 75-Year-Old Resulting In Brain Injury

(screen capture)

The two Buffalo police officers who shoved a 75-year-old man during a protest last June and left the man bleeding in the street will not face any repercussions for their actions.

“We as a society give police the authority to use force,” the District Attorney told reporters today. “The question comes down to if it crossed the line.”

From The Daily Beast:

A grand jury has declined to indict two Buffalo cops caught on camera shoving a 75-year-old protester during a June 2020 anti-police brutality protest and leaving him in a pool of blood, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn announced Thursday.

Aaron Torgalski, 39, and Robert McCabe, 32, were each charged with assault in the second degree, a Class D felony, for shoving Martin Gugino, a longtime peace activist in the upstate New York city, during the June 4 protest in the wake of George Floyd’s police killing.

A viral video showed Gugino falling down, blood pooling around his head after he hit the pavement. On June 30, Gugino was released from the hospital with a brain injury.

Video: Miami Police Officer Sucker-Punches Woman At Airport

(screen capture)

From the Miami Herald:

A Miami-Dade police officer was relieved of duty after body-camera footage surfaced Wednesday night of him hitting a woman who was yelling at him at Miami International Airport.

The video, obtained by the Miami Herald, shows a masked officer speaking to a Black woman in a terminal on Wednesday when she becomes irate and begins taunting him. “You acting like you white when you really Black…what you want to do?” the woman says.

The unmasked woman steps up to the man, putting her face right in his before he strikes her in the face. “She headbutted me,” he says as the officers rush in to handcuff her.

The officer has apparently been identified as Antonio Clemente Rodriguez, a Black officer of Puerto Rican heritage, who is currently assigned to the airport.

The woman’s identity hasn’t been revealed to the public.

Steadman Stahl, the president of the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association, told the Miami Herald the officer hit her with an “open-hand slap,” sometimes called a “diversionary strike.”

I understand the woman got in the officer’s face but is sucker-punching her the answer? I thought he’s wearing a badge because he’s been trained to manage and de-escalate situations?

Miami-Dade Police Department Director Alfredo Ramirez III tweeted that he was “shocked and angered” by the video, and that in addition to relieving the officer of duty, he’s asked for an investigation into the incident.

NYC Police Pepper Spray Peaceful LGBTQ Demonstrators

Pandemonium broke out at the Queer Liberation March Sunday afternoon in New York City as New York Police officers swarmed what was described as a peaceful demonstration on the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

The incident occurred near New York’s Washington Square Park amid supporters for the Black Lives Matter and Black Trans Lives Matter movements.

The Gothamist reports two demonstrators were being arrested for graffiti when protesters attempted to intervene. Police officers reportedly responded using pepper spray on several in the crowd.

One witness told The Gothamist the mood was like an upbeat dance party prior to the arrival of the police.

“We were dancing right in front of the arch on 5th ave and out of nowhere, cops started storming into the crowd,” Mike Perles, a 29-year-old city employee, told The Gothamist. “They pushed everyone in front of them out of the way and onto the ground. They pushed a reporter who was taking photos down and started randomly pepper-spraying people.”

“I couldn’t see anyone instigating,” added Perles. “It seemed like they felt outnumbered after entering a huge group and panicked and started beating people up.”

Pippa Bianco, a volunteer for NourishNYC, described the scene before the police arrived as “totally peaceful.” She was picking up food for a volunteer food station when the police rushed into the crowd.

While helping demonstrators get water after they were pepper-sprayed, Bianco says she saw a police medic pouring water into the eyes of two other officers who were standing downwind of the pepper spray and accidentally got the irritant in their eyes.

“The arrests that apparently incited the clash were reportedly over graffiti,” wrote Teen Vogue politics editor Lucy Diavolo, who attended the march. “In the midst of the blockade, I heard someone try to start a ‘graffiti is art’ chant.”

Diavolo adds that she could identify herself in videos posted to Twitter. “I can see the cops going wild; in one video, an officer uses a nightstick to knock down someone already on their knees with their hands raised above their head.”

On Twitter, openly gay City Council Speaker Corey Johnson called for a full investigation into clashes between protesters and police. Johnson called the use of pepper spray on the peaceful protesters “incredibly disturbing.”

In spite of the use of force by police, the organizers of the event said the vast majority of the march was a peaceful celebration attended by over 50,000 supporters.

“DO NOT let the NYPD ruin a gorgeous day like today, on the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion,” wrote the group on Instagram. “The sun, the rain and the rainbow came out for us today! And we made history. Let’s carry this spirit forward! Let’s continue supporting our Black Queer and Trans Communities!”

View this post on Instagram

WOW! THANK YOU! An estimated 50K of you joined us on the streets today, plus over 373k views here on Facebook!! So much love to all of us for building an IRL and virtual community, standing for Black Lives and against police brutality through the 2nd annual #QueerLiberationMarch. As of now, we understand that there has been one arrest, as well as many more who experience violence at the hands of the police. Again, if you witnessed or experienced police violence, send photo/video documentation to: Jail support is already in place and trying to make sure everyone arrested is released safely. AND ONE FINAL MESSAGE: DO NOT let the NYPD ruin a gorgeous day like today, on the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion! THE SUN, THE RAIN AND THE RAINBOW came out for us today! AND WE MADE HISTORY! Let’s carry this spirit forward! Let’s continue supporting our Black Queer and Trans Communities! Let’s show up for each other, TOGETHER. Keep loving, keep chanting, keep dancing, keep living. HAPPY PRIDE! Videos/photos: @leandrojusten

A post shared by Queer Liberation March (@queermarch) on

(source: The Gothamist, Teen Vogue, NY1)

Atlanta Police Officer Faces 11 Charges In Murder Of Rayshard Brooks

Former Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe (via Atlanta Police Dept)

From the New York Times:

A former Atlanta police officer was charged on Wednesday with murder and aggravated assault in the killing last week of a black motorist outside a fast-food restaurant, and prosecutors revealed chilling new details of the late-night encounter, including that the officer kicked the dying man after shooting him twice in the back.

The former officer, Garrett Rolfe, faces a total of 11 charges in connection with the death of the motorist, Rayshard Brooks. The shooting, which was captured on a widely circulated video, has prompted the resignation of Atlanta’s police chief and further inflamed the tensions over race and policing that are roiling the nation.

At a news conference on Wednesday to announce the charges, prosecutors said that Mr. Rolfe declared, “I got him,” after firing the fatal shots at Mr. Brooks. Mr. Rolfe kicked the victim, prosecutors said, while his partner stood on the fatally wounded man’s shoulder.

Mr. Rolfe and his partner, Devin Brosnan, both of whom are white, then failed to render aid for more than two minutes, said Paul L. Howard Jr., the Fulton County district attorney.

Brosnan was charged with three counts, including aggravated assault and violations of oath, although he is said to be cooperating with prosecutors in the case.

News Round-Up: June 17, 2020

Joel Green (via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: Wise words of the day from fitness guy Joel Green (above) – “It’s not about your reflection, it’s what you see beyond it.” #DreamBigger

Washington Blade: Sara Hegazy, 30, an LGBTQ rights activist from Egypt who was arrested for raising a rainbow flag during a 2017 concert in Cairo died by suicide on Sunday at her home in Canada. She was reportedly tortured for months in prison before an Egyptian court ordered her release on bail in January 2018.

KIT212: Kenneth’s weekly ‘Wrestle Wednesday’ (below) is really worth the click 🙂

(via kenneth-in-the-212)

CNN: Martin Gugino, the 75-year-old protester who was pushed to the ground by two Buffalo, New York police officers earlier this month, has a fractured skull and is still unable to walk, his lawyer said in a statement provided to CNN. Gugino’s attorney passed along a message from the senior protester: “I think it’s very unnecessary to focus on me. There are plenty of other things to think about besides me.”

NY Daily News: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has issued an order requiring all lawmakers to wear masks in committee hearings after Rep. Tom Rice (R-South Carolina) announced he and several family members have contracted the COVID-19 virus. Rice has refused to wear a mask at House meetings. Pelosi has ordered the Sargeant at Arms to deny entry by any violators.

OMG Blog: RuPaul is so good at ‘Family Feud’ he doesn’t even need to hear the question! Watch below.