Ferguson Police Chief Is Out; Leaves With $100K Severance Package

File this under “Gee, that took too long.”

Via Buzzfeed:

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson resigned Wednesday in a “mutual decision” between him and city administrators, Mayor James Knowles said during a news conference.

Jackson, who led the department during at the time of Michael Brown’s fatal shooting, city unrest, and a federal report that criticized local law enforcement for rampant racial discrimination and a focus on generating revenues over public safety, will walk away with a severance package worth roughly a year’s salary, Knowles added.

Jackson’s severance package will pencil out to about $100,000, Knowles said. That’s despite leading the department for only about five years. Ferguson’s former city manager, John Shaw, received a similar severance package when he resigned this week.

Missouri: Emails Show Racial Bias At Ferguson Police Department

Emails made available from the Ferguson Police Department to the Department of Justice for the purpose of investigation show a long, ugly history of racial bias within the department.

A sample of emails included:

• A November 2008 email stated that President Barack Obama would not be President for very long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.”

• A March 2010 email mocked African Americans through speech and familial stereotypes, using a story involving child support. One line from the email read: “I be so glad that dis be my last child support payment! Month after month, year after year, all dose payments!”

• An April 2011 email depicted President Barack Obama as a chimpanzee.

• A May 2011 email stated: “An African-American woman in New Orleans was admitted into the hospital for a pregnancy termination. Two weeks later she received a check for $5,000. She phoned the hospital to ask who it was from. The hospital said, ‘Crimestoppers.'”

• A June 2011 email described a man seeking to obtain “welfare” for his dogs because they are “mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and have no frigging clue who their Daddies are.”

• An October 2011 email included a photo of a bare-chested group of dancing women, apparently in Africa, with the caption, “Michelle Obama’s High School Reunion.”

• A December 2011 email included jokes that are based on offensive stereotypes about Muslims.

Officials sent the emails from their city accounts “almost without exception” and apparently during work hours.

Investigators found no evidence that anyone was disciplined or that anyone asked the sender to stop sending such emails, which were forwarded to others.

More at USA Today.

Texas Police Officers Support The Freedom To Marry

New PSA from Fort Worth, Texas police officers (my hometown!) in support of marriage equality.

From the clip description: Three police officers from Fort Worth, Texas talk about why they support the freedom to marry in Texas – and speak out on their support for their colleague Chris Gorrie, a detective who wants to someday marry his partner Justin.

“Texans believe in freedom and liberty, and part of that is being able to marry who you love. Chris should be able to marry whoever person he loves.”

The ad is airing across Texas this week in advance of a key federal appeals court hearing Friday.

From The Houston Chronicle:

The $100,000 TV buy will air Sunday and Monday, just days before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is slated to hear arguments in a case challenging Texas’ constitutional ban on gay marriage.

“The aim is to show gay Americans are really completely integrated into the fabric of our society,” said Mark McKinnon, a former advisor to President George W. Bush and Texas chair of Southerners for the Freedom to Marry. He called the ads an “electronic blanket” to reinforce a recent wave court cases validating LGBT Americans right to marry in other states.

Learn more at www.texasformarriage.org and www.freedomtomarry.org.

NYT: Police Respect Squandered in Attacks on de Blasio

From the New York Times Op-Ed:

With these acts of passive-aggressive contempt and self-pity, many New York police officers, led by their union, are squandering the department’s credibility, defacing its reputation, shredding its hard-earned respect. They have taken the most grave and solemn of civic moments — a funeral of a fallen colleague — and hijacked it for their own petty look-at-us gesture. In doing so, they also turned their backs on Mr. Ramos’s widow and her two young sons, and others in that grief-struck family.

These are disgraceful acts, which will be compounded if anyone repeats the stunt at Officer Liu’s funeral on Sunday.

The New York Police Department is going through a terrible time, and the assassinations of those officers only underscore the dreadful dangers that rank-and-file cops face every day. And, in truth, there is some thanklessness to being a cop. Officers often feel beleaguered, jerked around by supervisors and politicians, obligated to follow rules and policies that can be misguided, held responsible for their mistakes in ways that the public is not, exposed to frequent ridicule and hostility from the people they are sworn to serve. It has always been that way with cops.

But none of those grievances can justify the snarling sense of victimhood that seems to be motivating the anti-de Blasio campaign — the belief that the department is never wrong, that it never needs redirection or reform, only reverence. This is the view peddled by union officials like Patrick Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association — that cops are an ethically impeccable force with their own priorities and codes of behavior, accountable only to themselves, and whose reflexive defiance in the face of valid criticism is somehow normal.

Since the two New York Police officers were killed on December 20th, arrests have plummeted 66% in the city, compared to the same time period last year.

I understand a sense of fear after the deaths of the two officers. But a huge drop in parking violations? The New York Post is calling the drop a “virtual work stoppage” in protest of the mayor.

• Citations for traffic violations fell by 94 percent, from 10,069 to 587.

• Even the number of parking violations have sunk by 92 percent, from 14,699 to 1,241.

If true, I don’t know if that really serves the NYPD in terms of ‘respect.’

Mayor De Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton are meeting with five police union heads today to attempt to address concerns and move the city past the currently widening rift.

Cleveland Browns’ Andrew Hawkins On Wearing “Justice For Tamir Rice and John Crawford” T-shirt

Speaking without notes, wide receiver Andrew Hawkins spoke to the press today about wearing a T-shirt during warmups for this past weekend’s NFL game that read “Justice For Tamir Rice and John Crawford.”

The T-shirt earned criticism from the Cleveland Police Union, who called the protest “pretty pathetic” and demanded an apology from Hawkins.

The Cleveland Browns issued a statement of respect for the Cleveland Police Department but added their support for  “our players’ rights to project their support and bring awareness to issues that are important to them if done so in a responsible manner.”

Here’s Hawkins’ statement:

“I was taught that justice is a right that every American should have. Also justice should be the goal of every American. I think that’s what makes this country. To me, justice means the innocent should be found innocent. It means that those who do wrong should get their due punishment. Ultimately, it means fair treatment. So a call for justice shouldn’t offend or disrespect anybody. A call for justice shouldn’t warrant an apology.

“To clarify, I utterly respect and appreciate every police officer that protects and serves all of us with honesty, integrity and the right way. And I don’t think those kind of officers should be offended by what I did. My mom taught me my entire life to respect law enforcement. I have family, close friends that are incredible police officers and I tell them all the time how they are much braver than me for it. So my wearing a T-shirt wasn’t a stance against every police officer or every police department. My wearing the T-shirt was a stance against wrong individuals doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons to innocent people.

“Unfortunately, my mom also taught me just as there are good police officers, there are some not-so-good police officers that would assume the worst of me without knowing anything about me for reasons I can’t control. She taught me to be careful and be on the lookout for those not-so-good police officers because they could potentially do me harm and most times without consequences. Those are the police officers that should be offended.

“Being a police officer takes bravery. And I understand that they’re put in difficult positions and have to make those snap decisions. As a football player, I know a little bit about snap decisions, obviously on an extremely lesser and non-comparative scale, because when a police officer makes a snap decision, it’s literally a matter of life and death. That’s hard a situation to be in. But if the wrong decision is made, based on pre-conceived notions or the wrong motives, I believe there should be consequence. Because without consequence, naturally the magnitude of the snap decisions is lessened, whether consciously or unconsciously.

“I’m not an activist, in any way, shape or form. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred I keep my opinions to myself on most matters. I worked extremely hard to build and keep my reputation especially here in Ohio, and by most accounts I’ve done a solid job of decently building a good name. Before I made the decision to wear the T-shirt, I understood I was putting that reputation in jeopardy to some of those people who wouldn’t necessarily agree with my perspective. I understood there was going to be backlash, and that scared me, honestly. But deep down I felt like it was the right thing to do. If I was to run away from what I felt in my soul was the right thing to do, that would make me a coward, and I can’t live with that. God wouldn’t be able to put me where I am today, as far as I’ve come in life, if I was a coward.

“As you well know, and it’s well documented, I have a 2-year-old little boy. The same 2-year-old little boy that everyone said was cute when I jokingly threw him out of the house earlier this year. That little boy is my entire world. And the No. 1 reason for me wearing the T-shirt was the thought of what happened to Tamir Rice happening to my little Austin scares the living hell out of me. And my heart was broken for the parents of Tamir and John Crawford knowing they had to live that nightmare of a reality.

“So, like I said, I made the conscious decision to wear the T-shirt. I felt like my heart was in the right place. I’m at peace with it and those that disagree with me, this is America, everyone has the right to their first amendment rights. Those who support me, I appreciate your support. But at the same time, support the causes and the people and the injustices that you feel strongly about. Stand up for them. Speak up for them. No matter what it is because that’s what America’s about and that’s what this country was founded on.”

Cleveland Police Union Demands Apology From Cleveland Browns

At Sunday’s Cleveland Browns football game, Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins made headlines by wearing a T-shirt in pre-game warmups that read “Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford III.”

Twelve year old Rice was shot and killed by Cleveland police last month playing with a toy rifle; 22 year old Crawford was shot by police at a Wal-Mart while holding an air rifle.

Now, Cleveland Police Union President Jeff Follmer has demanded the Cleveland Browns apologize for the T-shirt’s appearance.

From Talking Points Memo:

“It’s pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law,” the statement read, as quoted by WEWS. “They should stick to what they know best on the field. The Cleveland Police protect and serve the Browns stadium and the Browns organization owes us an apology.”

The Browns later issued a statement saying that the organization respects both the work of the Cleveland police department and their own players’ right to protest.

“We have great respect for the Cleveland Police Department and the work that they do to protect and serve our city,” the statement read, as quoted by the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “We also respect our players’ rights to project their support and bring awareness to issues that are important to them if done so in a responsible manner.”

Time Lapse Video: Millions March In NYC

Shot at the intersection of 6th Ave and 29th Street in New York City, approximately 90 minutes of footage is condensed to twenty-eight seconds.

From Time:

Thousands of people took to the streets of New York City on Saturday to demonstrate against police violence in the wake of several deadly confrontations this year between officers and unarmed black citizens.

According to reports, more than 25,000 people marched in New York on Saturday. Hundreds of miles away in Washington DC, thousands more held a similar protest.

(h/t JMG)

Subway Police Arrest Musician After Reading Aloud Statute That Allows Him To Play

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I’m not anti-police in any way. But it’s clear the cop couldn’t put his ego aside after being wrong about the law. The musician literally knew the exact statute to quote.

Here is the law the officer actually reads aloud:

Section 1050.6c
Except as expressly permitted in this subdivision, no person shall engage in any nontransit uses upon any facility or conveyance. Nontransit uses are noncommercial activities that are not directly related to the use of a facility or conveyance for transportation. The following nontransit uses are permitted by the Authority, provided they do not impede transit activities and they are conducted in accordance with these rules: public speaking; campaigning; leafletting or distribution of written noncommercial materials; activities intended to encourage and facilitate voter registration; artistic performances, including the acceptance of donations.

Bolding is mine.

Missouri: Self-described “Killer” cop suspended after violent, anti-gay remarks come to light

CNN reports that the police officer who shoved news anchor Don Lemon on the air earlier this week has been suspended after wild remarks regarding violence, the President, the Supreme Court and Muslims came to light.

A Missouri police officer involved in maintaining security in troubled Ferguson was put on administrative leave Friday after a video surfaced showing him railing about the Supreme Court, Muslims, and his past — and perhaps, he said, his future — as “a killer.” The officer, Dan Page of the St. Louis County Police Department, became something of a familiar face to many earlier this month when video showed him pushing back CNN’s Don Lemon and others in a group in Ferguson. At the time, CNN was reporting on the large-scale and at times violent protests calling for the arrest of a white Ferguson police officer who shot and killed African-American teenager Michael Brown.

In his rambling remarks on the video, he talks about what he describes as a draft replacement for the U.S. Constitution, the “four sodomites on the Supreme Court,” and a visit to Kenya “to our undocumented President’s home.” He refers to Barack Obama as “that illegal alien who claims to be our President.” Page frequently references violence, including nine combat tours in the Army, during which he did “my fair share of killing.” Speaking about Muslims, he says pointedly: “They will kill you.” On domestic disputes, he opines: “You don’t like each other that much, just kill each other and get it over with. Problem solved. Get it done.” On urban violence, he predicts that “when the inner cities start to ignite, people are going to start killing people they don’t like.”

And lastly, Page says, “I personally believe the Lord Jesus Christ is my savior, but I’m also a killer. I’ve killed a lot and, if I need to, I will kill a whole bunch more. If you don’t want to get killed, don’t show up in front of me.” Belmar, the head of the St. Louis County police department, said all the talk about killing was especially disturbing to him. “As a police chief, that’s something I’m not going to be able to endure,” Belmar said.

In addition to Page, a second Missouri officer, Matthew Pappert, was suspended for inflammatory comments made on social media which included “These protestors should have been put down like a rabid dog the first night.”

I believe in these officers having the right to free speech, but it’s seriously disconcerting to hear that peace officers with guns are talking about killing and putting protestors “down.”

Watch the CNN report below: