Legislation Inspired By Michael Brown’s Murder Covers Race, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity
Two African-American Democrats in Missouri, ground zero for the #BlackLivesMatter movement in the wake of Michael Brown’s 2014 murder at the hands of Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson, have introduced a bill that would ban police profiling of racial and other minorities, including gays.Â
The bill would require Missouri law enforcement officers to report the “perceived race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, English language proficiency or national origin” of motorists and pedestrians who are stopped by police. Agencies would then report the data to the state, and if it were to show a pattern of police profiling, they could be subject to increased officer training requirements, funding cuts and even de-certification.Â
In addition to anecdotal evidence such as Brown’s shooting, existing data in Missouri shows that a ban on racial profiling by police is sorely needed. Missouri already requires law enforcement officers to report the ethnicity of those who are stopped, and in 2014, blacks were 75 percent more likely to be pulled over than whites, according to The St. Louis Post Dispatch.Â
“Blacks and Hispanics also were more likely to be searched as a result of those stops â€” even though white drivers were more likely to be in possession of drugs, weapons or other illegal contraband,” the newspaper reports.Â
Unfortunately, a column in theÂ Post DispatchÂ misrepresents the new bill,Â known as the Fair and Impartial Policing Act, by referring to it in a headline as a “driving while gay” measure andÂ questioning the rationale of requiring police to record characteristics that aren’t readily discernible. Not surprisingly, commenters expressed outrage about the proposal, even calling one of the bill’s authors, stateÂ Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, a “communist.”Â
To be clear, though, the bill would prohibit law enforcement officers from asking drivers, passengers and pedestrians for anything other than ID, motor vehicle registration, name and address. In addition, the identities of those who are stopped and the officers who stopped them would remain private.
Moreover, numerous studies have shown that LGBT people, just like other minorities, routinely are victims of police profiling â€” especially transgender and gender-nonconforming people, queer people of color, and homeless youth.
In a 2015 paper titled “Discrimination and Harassment by Law Enforcement Officers in the LGBT Community,” researchers at UCLA’s Williams Institute wrote:
“A 2014 report on a national survey of 2,376 LGBT people and people living with HIV found that 73% of respondents had face-to-face contact with the police in the past five years. Of those respondents, 21% reported encountering hostile attitudes from officers,Â 14% reported verbal assault by the police, 3% reported sexual harassment and 2% reported physical assault at the hands of law enforcement officers.”Â
In December 2014, in response to controversies nationwide over fatal police shootings, the U.S. Department of Justice released guidance prohibiting federal law enforcement officers from profiling based on race and other factors, including sexual orientation and gender identity. At the time, the National Center for Transgender Equality said the DOJ guidance didn’t go far enoughÂ because it exempted TSA and border security agents, as well as certain anti-terror investigators, in addition to state and local law enforcement officers:
â€œAt a time when many communities are reeling from violence at the hands of police misconduct, our nationâ€™s commitment to equality must be firm and without exception,” NCET Executive Director Mara Keisling said. “Whether ‘driving while Black,’ ‘flying while Muslim,’ ‘walking while Latino,’ or ‘walking while trans,’ it is always and everywhere wrong.”Â
(Notably, the Missouri bill includes sexual orientation and gender, but not “gender identity,” in its definition of “biased policing.” However, it includes “gender identity” in describing a violation of the statute.)
In March 2015, President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing released recommendations mostly focusing on racial profiling, but also addressing LGBT issues. The recommendations included legislation similar to the new Missouri bill, as well as establishingÂ search and seizure procedures “that cease using the possession of condoms as the sole evidence of intent to engage in prostitution-related offenses.”Â
Also last year, Democratic Congressmen Ben Cardin and John Conyers reintroduced the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA), which also includes sexualÂ orientation and gender identity. The bill currently has only 99 co-sponsors:
“From Stonewall to stop-and-frisk, LGBTQ people … have long been targets of profiling and other forms of discriminatory policing,” Lambda Legal wrote in support of the bill. “The consequences have ranged from deportation to death, arrest to assault, homophobic harassment to humiliation.”Â
Maryland â€” site of widespread protests over the 2015 death of Freddie Gray by Baltimore police â€” recently became the first state to enact a ban on police profiling of minorities, including LGBT people, and it seems likely that other progressive states will soon follow suit.
Let’s just hope debates about these critical measures aren’t reduced to “driving while gay.”
This article has been updated.Â
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‘We Are Not Going to Control the Pandemic’: Trump Top Aide Meadows Makes Damning Confession During CNN Interview
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows waved the white flag on Sunday morning, admitting the administration has all but given up on trying to “contain” the coronavirus pandemic, saying they are directing their efforts to “vaccines and therapeutics.”
With “State of the Union” host Jake Tapper pointing cases of COVID-19 are on the rise, Meadows attempted to attack CNN over their coverage of the pandemic, to which Tapper replied, “It’s coming from all sorts of places because the pandemic is out of control.”
“So here’s what we have to do,” Meadows attempted. “We’re not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation.”
“Why aren’t we going to get control of the pandemic?” Tapper pressed.
“Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu,” Meadows shot back with Tapper insisting, “But why not make efforts to contain it?”
“We are making efforts to contain it,” said Meadows at which point the CNN host interrupted with, “By running all over the country and not wearing masks? That’s what the vice president is doing.”
Saying the administration needs to focus on “therapies or vaccines or treatments,” Meadows then changed the subject to attacking presidential frontrunner Joe Biden.
MEADOWS: We're not going to control the pandemic
TAPPER: Why not?
M: Because it's a contagious virus
T: Why not make efforts to contain it?
M: What we need to do is make sure we have the proper mitigation factors to make sure people don't die pic.twitter.com/0DYgk4rB3T
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 25, 2020
Court Slaps Down Trump’s Attempt to Intimidate Pennsylvania Voters
At a Friday night rally, Republican President Donald Trump talked about his attempts to have “poll watchers” in the swing state of Pennsylvania, an attempt that a local court recently ruled as illegal.
“I think we’re leading everywhere,” Trump said at the rally. “We think in Pennsylvania doing great. We got to be very careful Philadelphia. They play games in Philadelphia, and they won’t let us watch the count in Philadelphia… So we’re watching Philadelphia.”
Trump then told his White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to “please watch Philadelphia … because I don’t like what I’m hearing about Philadelphia…. I don’t like what I see going on in terms of what’s gone on over the past, and probably what’s going on. Think of it. They fought like hell that we can’t watch them. Count the vote, what’s wrong with watching? why can’t we have poll watchers? And so we’re in court right now poll watches in Philadelphia. But we’re doing great in Pennsylvania, gotta watch Philadelphia.”
"Why can't we have poll watchers? And so we're in court trying to have poll watchers in Philadelphia." — Trump pic.twitter.com/E4xCSFJqEk
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 24, 2020
First off, the so-called poll watchers are needless seeing as there’s zero evidence of voter fraud at polling places, so Trump’s “watchers” are little more than intimidators meant to make Democratic voters nervous.
Second off, it’s not Meadows’ job to handle poll monitoring, election monitors or lawsuits. The White House Chief of staff serves as a “liaison among members of the President’s cabinet and the White House [and is] is responsible for directing, managing and overseeing all policy development, daily operations, and staff activities for the President.”
Third off, on Friday, local Judge Gary Glazer ruled that the Trump campaign’s attempt to have poll-watchers at the state polls isn’t allowed under state law. The Trump campaign had sent unauthorized poll watchers into satellite poll offices where local election officials register voters and help people fill out their mail-in ballots, but the officials kicked the watchers out.
Trump said his watcher should be allowed to monitor such offices, but a bipartisan Philadelphia City Commission said that the satellite locations don’t qualify as official polling stations and therefore don’t qualify as a place allowed by state law to have poll watchers. Judge Glazer agreed.
On September 27, Politico wrote that Trump had hired dozens of lawyers from three major law firms and recruited thousands of volunteer attorneys to contest election results in 17 key states considered vital to his re-election.
In response, Biden campaign spokesperson Michael Gwin told the publication, “The Biden campaign has assembled the biggest voter protection program in history to ensure the election runs smoothly and to combat any attempt by Donald Trump to create fear and confusion with our voting system, or interfere in the democratic process.”
This Democrat Is Beating His GOP Opponent, So the Right-Wing Is Lying About Him Dressing Up As Hitler
Arizona senatorial candidate Mark Kelly is currently beating his Republican challenger Martha McSally by about 5 percentage points. So a right-wing media outlet decided to try and take Kelly down by posting a photo and lying about him dressing up as Nazi leader Adolf Hitler during his school days at the Merchant Marine Academy.
On Friday, the right-wing website the National File shared photographic “proof” that Kelley had dressed as Hitler, and the post quickly went viral. But Kelly’s former classmates Jennifer Boykin, Peter Lindsey, Mark Baden and Ed McDonald have all said that the image isn’t of Kelly.
Lindsey in particular said someone contacted him with the image via the professional social network LinkedIn asked “and asked if the person in the costume was Mark Kelly. I told them no, and want to say again, Mark is not in those photos. I have spoken to numerous classmates about this evening, and they concur that he is not in any of these pictures. The people spreading these lies should stop.”
“The person who reached out to Lindsey was identified by the campaign as a paid consultant for a super political action committee aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-K.Y., that is spending millions of dollars to help defeat Kelly,” AZCentral.com reports.
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