Judge Rules Cullman County, Alabama’s Bail System Illegally Discriminates Against the Poor

Explaining to judge

ACLU – Today, people who were jailed simply because they could not afford bail in Cullman County, Alabama, won a significant victory when a federal court judge ruled that the practice of jailing those who cannot pay is unconstitutional.

The judge entered a preliminary injunction order that prohibits Cullman County from continuing to discriminate against the poor through its bail system.

As the Court explained, “Cullman County’s discriminatory bail practices deprive indigent criminal defendants in Cullman County of equal protection of the law” and its justifications for using a bail schedule are “illusory and conspicuously arbitrary.”

The lawsuit was brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Civil Rights Corps, the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama on behalf of Bradley Hester, who was held on a $1,000 bond he could not afford.

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Black families are denied victim compensation more often than white families

Handing over a check

REVEAL NEWS – Every state has a crime victim compensation fund to reimburse people for the financial wallop that can come with being a victim.

Florida is one of seven states that bar people with a criminal record from receiving victim compensation.

The laws are meant to keep limited funds from going to people who are deemed undeserving. But the rules have had a broader effect: An analysis of records in two of those states — Florida and Ohio — shows that the bans fall hardest on black victims and their families.

Administrators of the funds do not set out to discriminate. They must follow state law directing who can receive compensation. But critics call the imbalance a little-known consequence of a criminal justice system that is not race-blind.

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The NRA’s catch-22 for Black men shot by police

NRA logo with guns

THE ATLANTIC – The city of Dallas, Texas, has been rocked by news of an off-duty police officer shooting a black man in his own apartment. On September 6, the off-duty police officer Amber Guyger entered Botham Jean’s apartment and shot him dead.

Most people reacted to the news of the shooting with outrage…

The National Rifle Association’s spokesperson sees the incident a bit differently. Dana Loesch argued that Jean would still be alive had he been armed and shot Guyger instead.

“I don’t think there’s any context that the actions would have been justified,” Loesch acknowledged, but asserted that “this could have been very different if Botham Jean had been, say he was a law-abiding gun owner and he saw somebody coming into his apartment.”

At a time when many conservative writers were expressing empathy for Jean and hoping that justice would be served, Loesch’s disciplined adherence to the NRA’s bottom line stands out.

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Van Dyke trial: Jury sees video of white Chicago police officer shooting Laquan McDonald

Police reaching for pistol

NBC NEWS – Prosecutors on Monday showed jurors video of a white Chicago police officer opening fire on black teenager Laquan McDonald, saying the 2014 fatal shooting was “completely unnecessary.”

The video shows Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times as the 17-year-old, carrying a small knife in one hand, walks away from officers.

Special prosecutor Joseph McMahon told jurors that “not a single shot was necessary or justified” before showing them the video 15 minutes into his opening statement as the trial got underway.

But defense attorney Daniel Herbert argued that Van Dyke “is not a murderer. … He is a scared police officer who was fearful for his life and the life of others and acted as he was trained to do.”

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American man charged in Uganda for racist assault on hotel staff

Huffington Post reports Uganda police arrested an older American man after reviewing a video that showed him striking out at hotel workers and using racial slurs.

The police identified the man as Jimmy L. Taylor, a U.S. citizen who claims to be a missionary. The alleged assault took place in the Grand Imperial Hotel in Kampala, the capital, according to police. Video of the incident surfaced on the internet on Friday, but it is unclear when it was filmed.

Read the full story from Huffington Post.

Protesters topple Confederate statue at UNC

CNN reports that about 250 protesters on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s campus knocked over the school’s controversial Silent Sam Confederate statue, the university said Tuesday.

The statue is the latest among several Confederate monuments to be removed, and its toppling comes as communities grapple with the legacy of a contentious chapter in American history.
A video and pictures from a student show the statue coming down on Monday as students chant, “I believe that we will win.”

Spike Lee says directing ‘BlacKkKlansman’ was an obvious choice

The 61-year-old director was stunned when ‘Get Out’ filmmaker Jordan Peele – who had optioned the story and developed a script for the movie – asked him to take the reins on the saga, which is based on the true story of black policeman Ron Stallworth, who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the late 1970s, but knew his own career history would serve him well on the project.

Spike told the Sunday Times Culture magazine: “When Jordan called me up and told me the premise — a black man infiltrates the KKK — I said, ‘This can’t be true.’ And he said, ‘It’s true’, and I was in.

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John Legend wants Louisiana to remove ‘white supremacy’ from its constitution

CNN reports, that as part of his continued work in criminal justice reform, John Legend is calling on Louisiana to change its constitution.

In an opinion piece published by the Washington Post Tuesday headlined “It’s time for Louisiana to strip white supremacy from its constitution,” the singer writes about the state’s continued acceptance of non-unanimous jury decisions, which he calls “a 120-year-old measure put in place to suppress the rights of African Americans.”

Lawsuit filed over rule banning smoking inside public housing

A lawsuit was filed challenging the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s rule that directs all state and local housing authorities to ban smoking inside and out of public housing facilities nationwide.

HUD’s anti-smoking regulation was finalized during the Obama Administration with an effective date of compliance no later than July 30, 2018. Public housing tenants, many of whom are veterans or minorities, are subject to eviction for violating the new regulation.

Read the full story here. 

Municipality overbooks electronic monitoring units, gets sued

A lawsuit filed in Ohio claims that at least 13 people who have posted bond are still in jail because the county ran out of monitoring units. The lawsuit says Martin has posted bond, but he is required by a judge’s order to wear an electronic monitoring unit and all of the units are currently in use.

According to the lawsuit, the sheriff’s office has told Martin’s family that he is 13th on the waiting list. Read the full story here.