Category: struggle against torture
A year after George Floyd’s death, pent-up rage remains as Louisiana faces its own policing issues

A year after George Floyd’s death, pent-up rage remains as Louisiana faces its own policing issues

It began with a few dozen protesters shouting into traffic on North Claiborne Avenue in New Orleans, four days after George Floyd was killed last May under a police officer’s knee in Minnesota.

Hours later, a wave of rage over Floyd’s death and the policing of Black people in America began spilling across the state.

Thousands of protesters poured into the streets in Lafayette and hundreds more in Lake Charles, Shreveport and the state Capitol in Baton Rouge. Smaller groups took to the courthouse in Houma, the civic center in Monroe, a gritty corner in the West End of New Iberia.

Protesters gather around a Henry Lipkis mural in Jackson Square depicting the slain George Floyd.

In New Orleans the protests ran for weeks into the summer, including a clash on the Crescent City Connection in which police lobbed tear gas and fired projectiles.

The cry that echoed loudest at those protests was Floyd’s: “I can’t breathe.”

The pent-up outrage that was unleashed over the Floyd killing one year ago remains, fueled most recently by Louisiana’s own horrific contribution: police body cam footage unearthed by the Associated Press last week showing Black motorist Ronald Greene dying in a brutal, long-hidden 2019 encounter with White Louisiana State Police troopers.

How much Floyd’s death, or that of Greene, has altered attitudes in Louisiana over police accountability is uncertain — though there are indications of a shift.

Lawmakers this week are debating a host of policing reforms, including tight limits on chokeholds and no-knock warrants. Advocates also are pushing for legislation to end the “qualified immunity” that shields misbehaving police officers from state lawsuits seeking damages.

This undated handout photo provided by Christopher Harris shows George Floyd. (Christopher Harris via AP)

The bills came out of a task force the Legislature set up a month after Floyd’s killing, as a debate over the use of excessive force by law enforcement roiled nationally.

“This is really about being who we say we are as a country,” said Judy Reese Morse, president and CEO of the Urban League of Louisiana. “Quite honestly, the proof is in the pudding, and the pudding just doesn’t taste good right now.”

A survey released in April by LSU’s Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs found a wide gap between how Black and White respondents viewed racial discrimination in various contexts. But on one point the majority agreed: Black people are treated less fairly by police.

Ted Quant, a longtime civil rights activist in New Orleans, said the video of Floyd’s final moments provided evidence that couldn’t be explained away.

“People witnessed George Floyd being murdered. They could see it. And it couldn’t be covered up, it couldn’t be lied about,” Quant said. “I think it was an education for the people of America.”

The nonprofit E Pluribus Unum, founded by former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, released its own survey this week. It found similar divisions across the Southern states.

While a large majority of Black respondents said Floyd’s killing and others prove there is a systemic problem, “Whites have a tendency to want to say it’s a few bad apples,” Landrieu said of the survey results.

Still, Landrieu pointed to a broader agreement for the notion that Floyd was wrongfully killed and that more reforms need to happen, as well as support for getting rid of total civil immunity for offending police officers.

“One of the things the public is demanding now, across racial and party lines, is transparency — before you can get to accountability,” Landrieu said. “People do not think we have done enough. Everyone wants the police to treat people with great respect and great dignity. That’s a pretty high line of common ground.”

The family of African American George Floyd appealed on Tuesday for sweeping police reform on the anniversary of his murder by a white officer as they met President Joe Biden at the White House.

George Floyd’s family urges police reform on anniversary of murder
Updated 14:54, 26-May-2021

Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, talks to reporters alongside other family members and lawyers after meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House, May 25, 2021. /CFP

The family of African American George Floyd appealed on Tuesday for sweeping police reform on the anniversary of his murder by a white officer as they met President Joe Biden at the White House.

The president and Vice President Kamala Harris hosted several of Floyd’s relatives in the Oval Office after the family spoke to top lawmakers hoping for progress on police reform.

“If you can make federal laws to protect the bird, the bald eagle, you can make federal laws to protect people of color,” said Philonise Floyd, George’s younger brother, after a private meeting in the Oval Office.

Floyd’s mother, siblings and his daughter Gianna, along with family lawyers, had earlier gathered at the U.S. Capitol with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic members of Congress.

A mural reading “I Can’t Breathe” at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 25, 2021. /CFP

“We have to act. We face an inflection point,” said Biden in a statement issued by the White House after meeting the family nearly a year after their first encounter ahead of Floyd’s funeral.

Biden said he was “hopeful” that a deal could be struck on the police reforms after the Memorial Day holiday this weekend, though the president reportedly had set Tuesday as a deadline for passing police reform legislation.

Floyd, 46, who died in handcuffs with his neck pinned to a Minneapolis street under the knee of Derek Chauvin – a white policeman, has become the face of a national reckoning with racial injustice and police brutality in the U.S.

Chauvin, 45, faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced on June 25. The three other officers at the scene have pleaded not guilty to aiding and abetting Chauvin, and will go on trial next year.

Local leaders and politicians, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, seventh from left, kneel for more than nine minutes to remember the murder of George Floyd in New York, May 25, 2021. /CFP

How the U.S. remembered Floyd

In Minneapolis, a foundation created in Floyd’s memory by some in his family organized an afternoon of music and food in a park near the downtown courtroom where Chauvin was convicted last month of murdering Floyd.

Later on Tuesday, mourners gathered for a candlelight vigil at the stretch of road where Floyd passed away.

By the afternoon, small crowds were gathering at the intersection for a festive, sunny afternoon of music and children’s activities. A man set out paint ready to create a fresh mural in the square, which has been closed to most vehicle traffic for a year and is filled with flowers and art commemorating Floyd and other Black victims of police violence.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey were due to join activists in a city park for a silence of nine minutes and 29 seconds – the time that Chauvin knelt on Floyd, in memory of Floyd’s murder.

Demonstrations were planned in New York City and Mayor Bill de Blasio joined activists in kneeling in silence for nine minutes and 29 seconds. Earlier on Tuesday, Shaun Donovan, a Democratic candidate for mayor, was among a group of five protesters arrested for blocking traffic near a major tunnel into Manhattan.

A bullet casing is seen after shots were fired in George Floyd Square on the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, May 25, 2021. /CFP

Events at George Floyd Square were briefly interrupted by gunfire on Tuesday. One person was reported injured as at least 20 rounds were fired. Police said the incident remains under investigation, and it is unclear if the shooting is connected to events in the area commemorating the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s death.

Legislation has been pursued in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia to increase the accountability or oversight of police, and 24 states have enacted new laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The laws have included the mandating of body-worn cameras for officers, banning neck restraints or making it easier for the public to see police officers’ disciplinary records.

Read more:

U.S. House approves police reform bill named after George Floyd

(With input from agencies)

Black men get longer prison sentences than white men for the same crime: report

Black men get longer prison sentences than white men for the same crime: report

Inmates put their hands behind their backs as they return to their dormitory from the cafeteria Sept. 21, 2011, at Richland Parish Detention Center southeast of Monroe.
Inmates put their hands behind their backs as they return to their dormitory from the cafeteria Sept. 21, 2011, at Richland Parish Detention Center southeast of Monroe.(File photo by Scott Threlkeld)

African-American men in the criminal justice system serve longer sentences than white men who commit the same crime, according to a new federal study reported by ABC News Friday (Nov. 17).

After a review of demographic data of the country’s prisons from 2012 to 2016, the U.S. Sentencing Commission found that sentences for black men are 19.1 percent longer than for white men. When the commission accounted for violence in an offender’s past, black men last year also received sentences that were 20.4 percent longer than their white peers.

“After controlling for a wide variety of sentencing factors, the Commission found that Black male offenders continued to receive longer sentences than similarly situated White male offenders, and that female offenders of all races received shorter sentences than White male offenders,” the report stated.

The full ABC News report can be read online.

Note to President Trump: Torture and Syrian ‘Safe Zones’ are Wrong
worker | January 26, 2017 | 8:38 pm | Analysis, Donald Trump, political struggle, Russia, struggle against torture, Syria | Comments closed
Villages in north-eastern Syria liberated from ISIL

Note to President Trump: Torture and Syrian ‘Safe Zones’ are Wrong

© Sputnik/ Valery Melnikov

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Alexander Mercouris

US President Donald Trump continues the blizzard of activity with which he has begun his Presidency with pronouncements that the practice known as ‘waterboarding’ works, and that he wants to see ‘safe zones’ established for refugees within Syria.

In the case of “waterboarding” and other practices euphemistically referred to by the CIA as “enhanced interrogation techniques” President Trump says that despite his own opinions he will defer to those of his military and intelligence chiefs.In the case of his proposal for “safe zones” President Trump is however — according to media reports — asking his military and intelligence chiefs to return with proposals in 80 days to set them up.

President Trump is wrong on both these issues.

“Waterboarding” and “enhanced interrogation techniques” are quite simply forms of torture, and that apart from a small number of marginalised dissidents is now the consensus view amongst jurists.

Torture is an immoral and despicable practice. It is also illegal.

In light of this to debate whether or not it “works” is a fallacy. By way of illustration, dropping a nuclear bomb on ISIS [Daesh] might “work”. No one in their senses proposes it.

As it happens whether torture “works” in the way President Trump and some people in the CIA appear to think is debatable. Whatever intelligence the US actually obtained by torture when it was in use during the period of the George W. Bush administration — the value of which has anyway been widely questioned — it did not result in the US breaking or defeating Al-Qaeda. On the contrary Al-Qaeda was stronger and more popular amongst disaffected Muslims at the end of the Bush administration than it had been at its start.During their confirmation hearings before the Senate President Trump’s nominees for the posts of Defence Secretary and CIA Director — General Mattis and Mike Pompeo — said they would not reintroduce torture. In General Mattis’s case, it seems he opposes torture in principle. President Trump should heed his advice.

On the question of “safe zones”, this proposal was advanced during the era of the Obama administration’s policy of achieving regime change in Syria. Though some of its advocates liked to claim that the “safe zones” were intended to protect civilians, in reality they were obviously intended as US protected base areas for the US-backed Jihadi fighters who were fighting to overthrow the Syrian government.President Trump says that his administration will no longer continue with this regime change policy. Unlike earlier advocates of “safe zones” he does genuinely seem to want to establish them in order to protect civilians.

This is consistent with President Trump’s policy of wanting to stop refugee flows to Europe and the US by keeping Syrian refugees in “safe zones” in Syria rather than have them come to Europe and the US.

If so, then this proposal is doubly misconceived.

Firstly, if the US does commit itself to setting up “safe zones” inside Syria, then as night follows day the US supporters of regime change in Syria — who remain influential in the US despite the change of administration — will try to use them for their original purpose: as US protected base areas for US backed Jihadi fighters seeking to overthrow the Syrian government.

The US would find itself drawn into the Syrian conflict in order to achieve regime change in Syria, which is the opposite of what President Trump says he wants.

Secondly, as regards the question of refugee flows from Syria, President Trump and Western commentators may not have noticed the fact, but this was last year’s problem, not the problem now.

In 2015 and 2016 — and indeed in previous years — fighting in Syria was intense, causing millions of refugees to flee Syria in order to escape the fighting.Today the Syrian government has consolidated itself, re-establishing its control over the key cities of Damascus and Aleppo, and in Syria’s populous coastal hinterland which lies between them.

There is a Russian-Turkish brokered ceasefire in place, which is being generally observed, and the conditions of life for most Syrians are now far more secure and peaceful than they have been in years.

If President Trump genuinely wants to end refugee flows from Syria, then he should act to support this process, which has already reduced refugee flows substantially, by backing the ceasefire and the peace talks in Astana. By contrast trying to create “safe zones” in Syria — especially when they are no longer needed — can only upset and destabilize this process, which would most likely cause the flow of refugees to resume.It is to be hoped that President Trump’s advisers will explain this to him, as will doubtless the Russian government when he finally begins talking to it.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

RESPONSE TO: Americans Have Grown More Supportive Of Torture
worker | November 15, 2016 | 12:45 pm | Analysis, political struggle, struggle against torture, Struggle for Peace | Comments closed
By A. Shaw
In some countries, sectors of parties, electorates, and peoples are judged to be either swine or human based in large part on whether they stand for or against human rights.
Respect for human rights is a kind of gauge of being human.
There was a sector of the German electorate and people who supported Nazi swine.
There is a sector of Islamic people which supports the Islamic State swine.
The Nazi and the Islamic State are the same in the type of acts they committed or commit which reduce both of them to the level of swine.
The top four ways in which they violated human rights are:
(1) They kidnap people.
(2) They throw people into concentration camps.
(3) They torture people.
(4) They murder.
Kidnapping, concentration camps, torture, and murder are the things that turn on swine the most. Swine feel a powerful rush when they do these things.
This doesn’t mean that all or most USAs are swine.
Citing Pew data, Brittany Lyte, writing in 2014 for the website Five Thirty Eight, said this.
“Data shows that popular opinion on the use of torture by the U.S. government has subtly shifted since 2004, when Pew Research Center began polling Americans on the subject. Pew asked whether torture used against suspected terrorists to gain important information is justified, finding a majority of respondents (53 percent) said torture could never or only rarely be justified. But over the next five years, public opinion slowly reversed.”
So, in 2004, the majority sector of the electorate and people opposed torture.
Apparently, there has been a change of mind.
“In Pew’s 2011 report — its most recent — 53 percent said the U.S. government’s use of torture against suspected terrorists to gain important information can often (19 percent) or sometimes (34 percent) be justified, marking a turnaround from 2004,”
Lyte reported.
So, 53% of the USAs are now pro-torture.
 In only seven years, the swine succeeded in dragging down a large number of USAs to the moral level of swine.
The GOPs naturally are the most swinish of all USA parties.
“There are stark differences in opinion on torture along party lines. A large majority of Republicans (71 percent) said torture could be at least sometimes justified, compared with 51 percent of independents and 45 percent of Democrats, according to Pew research,” Lyte reported.
The conclusion is that a huge sector of the USAs favor torture.
We would be more civil if we substitute the term reactionary for swine.
How did the reactionaries win over so many USAs?
The capitalist press — or more correctly, the lying cappie press — presented the question to the USAs as: Should the US regime torture suspected terrorists to get information?
Suspicion means there is no need to show probable cause that the suspect is a terrorist. It means that there is no duty to inform the suspect why he or she was kidnapped. It means the suspect is not entitled to counsel or trial. It means false accusations from snitches get innocent people tortured.
Even if the suspect is a terrorist he or she has certain limited rights under the Geneva Convention and the US Anti-Torture Act. Both laws are designed to prevent violations of human rights of prisoners of war and political prisoners.
The lying cappie press deceived most USAs into believing that troops, cops, spies, and mercenaries employed by the rogue US regime would only torture if they had a basis for their suspicion.
That’s nonsense.
Most reactionary degenerates in the US military, police, mercenaries, and intelligence agencies torture people to gratify their passion for sadism and malice, not to confirm suspicions about politics.
The gratification of foul passions is a kind of personal or individual motive for torture.
There is also a political motive for torture.
“Getting information” is not relevant to 95% of torture committed.
The rogue regime in the USA has the same motive to torture as the Nazi and Islamic State which is to paralyze the victims of aggression with absolute fear so that they will be easier to oppress.
In most cases, the Nazi didn’t torture Jews because the Nazi wanted information. The Nazi tortured to scare the shit out of the Jews while the Nazi oppressed and annihilated them.
If information were the motive, why did Nazi torture four year old kids?
The rogue regime in the USA tortures Afghans, Iraqis, USAs, and others not to become informed but to scare the shit out them so that they will welcome US oppression.
On Nov. 14, 2016, the International Criminal Court announced that it may indict and prosecute US leaders who presided over torture in Afghanistan.