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Police Officer Fired 5 years Later

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New York, NY – After over 5 years of investigation, Daniel Pantaleo, a New York City police officer, has finally been fired for using an illegal chokehold that led to the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed Black man accused of selling untaxed cigarettes.

Police commissioner James O’Neill announced on Monday that he has fired Pantaleo based on a recent recommendation from a department disciplinary judge. Pantaleo had been on desk duty with pay since Garner’s death, but has now been terminated from his position following the administrative trial which ended in June. Pantaleo will also no longer qualify to receive pension.

Many officers were on the scene but Pantaleo was the officer who was caught on video putting Garner in a headlock while he wrestled him to the ground in a violent arrest in 2014. Garner died shortly after arriving at the hospital.

During the arrest, Garner pleaded repeatedly, “I can’t breathe.” It became a rallying cry for national protests over race and the police excessive use of force.

Autopsy results confirmed that Garner died of heart attack and noted that the chokehold was a factor on his death. A medical examiner also ruled Garner’s death a homicide, but a grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo in 2014.

In addition, the Department of Justice announced back in July that it would not file any charges against Pantaleo.

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Denver, CO Governor Diversifies the Bench

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Five Black women are currently serving as judges in Colorado, which is a record-breaking number in the state. They were appointed by Gov. Jared Polis during a period of less than two years.

In October 2019, Frances Johnson was appointed for the 4th Judicial District Court in Colorado Springs, making her the first Black woman to hold the position in general jurisdiction.

A month after that, Nikea Bland became the first Black woman appointed to a Denver district court of general jurisdiction.

“It’s 2020, and there shouldn’t be any Black firsts left, but here we are,” Bland told Essence. “I’m just glad to see we are finally moving forward. It’s progress.”

This year, Pax Moultrie was selected to the Denver Juvenile Court in February, Samorreyan “Sam” Burney was assigned in the 4th Judicial District County Court in Colorado Springs in April, and Jill Dorancy was appointed a district court judge in July.

Polis, who took office in January 2019, appointed more Black women to the statewide bench than all the 42 previous governors combined. The efforts were done in accordance with his commitment to have representation for everyone.

“I am honored to appoint several highly qualified and dedicated Black women to serve in Colorado’s judicial branch — it’s about time! I am committed to building a Colorado for all, which is why we need more people of color in positions of leadership and represented in our government, in order to truly reflect our community,” Polis said.

Moreover, the appointments are somehow surprising to many, especially that the state consists of 84% white and 4% Black population.

“It’s not the first place that people from outside the state would think of as diverse,” Moultrie said. “This is an example of what happens when people in leadership positions embrace and value diverse talent. If it can happen here in Colorado, it can happen anywhere!”

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Crime

Faith Leaders Unite to Ban Chokeholds and No-Knock Warrants

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Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Members of City Council
100 Military Plaza #4
San Antonio, TX 78205

Faith Leaders Unite to Ban Chokeholds and No-Knock Warrants 

COPS/Metro, in partnership with Community Churches for Social Action (CCSA), and the Baptist Ministers’ Union (BMU) calls on the City of San Antonio to take direct and immediate action to completely ban police use of any neck restraint (strangleholds, chokeholds) collectively referred to as lateral vascular neck restraint (LVNR),  along with the use of no-knock warrants in any instance. Although changes have been made to San Antonio policing policy since the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, these changes do not go far enough.

One only needs to look around the country to understand why complete bans on these procedures are needed, both to ensure the safety of citizens and build trust with communities of color. In the past month alone, we have seen the impacts of systemic racism on communities. Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by police as his children looked on, while here in our own San Antonio community, a local insurance adjuster, Mathais Ometu, was detained, manhandled, and jailed for the simple offense of jogging while Black. Systemic racism and bias are widespread and deeply rooted, and San Antonio is no exception. We must follow the examples of cities like Dallas, Minneapolis, New York, and Louisville; each of which have enacted policies that aim to take subjectivity and officer discretion out of the equation when it comes to the use of tactics that disproportionately dehumanize Black and Brown people.

Police Chief McManus argues that the city has already made changes to prohibit the use of the chokehold and no-knock warrants, but after reviewing the San Antonio Police General Operating Manual available on the city’s transparency website, Section 501 and  Section 504 both have clear language that allow these dangerous practices. Chokeholds can be used as one of multiple deadly force options if the officer has “reasonable belief” that their life or the lives of others are in danger, while no knock warrants are also permissible if “the officer in charge can articulate particular exigent circumstances” that would require an unannounced entry. After bearing witness to unjust uses of force only compounded by lax police discipline and accountability procedures, how can communities trust in the “reasonable use” of these deadly tactics?

Many of our local conversations about police reform become wrapped up in the intricacies and limitations of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the San Antonio Police Officers Association (SAPOA) and the city. Although there is much in the CBA that needs to be addressed, we don’t need to wait until 2021 to make specific, actionable change on these two policies that threaten the lives of our citizens and further damage and erode trust between Black and Brown communities and police.  The City Council has the power to change these policies today.

If white community members were disproportionately arrested, profiled, assaulted, and killed by the use of these two use of force policies, certainly the policies would be changed immediately. 

Will San Antonio rise to the occasion and put its money where its mouth is in the fight for equal justice and policing? For us to truly live into the “Compassionate SA” ethos, we must make the strides available to us today. Each step pushes us forward in the march toward equity. COPS/Metro, Community Churches for Social Action and the Baptist Ministers’ Union call on City Council to do what is right: take action and immediately ban the use of chokeholds and no-knock warrants.

Sincerely, 

Sr. Gabriella Lohan, Sisters of the Holy Spirit
Leader, COPS/Metro

Pastor Patrick Jones, Pastor, Greater Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church
President, Baptist Minister’s Union

Dr. Jerry Wm Dailey, Pastor, Macedonia Baptist Church
Chairman, Community Churches for Social Action (CCSA) 

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Biden/Harris 2020

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It’s official, former Vice-President and Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden has named California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate. She is the first Black and Indian American woman to represent California in the United States Senate,

Kamala Harris grew up believing in the promise of America and fighting to make sure that promise is fulfilled for all Americans. Kamala’s father immigrated to the U.S. from Jamaica to study economics and her mother immigrated from India. Kamala’s mother told her growing up “Don’t sit around and complain about things, do something,” which is what drives Kamala every single day.

Kamala started fighting for working families in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, where she focused on prosecuting child sexual assault cases. From there, she became the first Black woman elected as San Francisco’s District Attorney. In this position, she started a program to provide first-time drug offenders second chances with the opportunity to earn a high school degree and find a job.

In 2010, Kamala became the first Black woman to be elected California Attorney General, overseeing the country’s second largest Justice Department, only behind the U.S. Department of Justice. In this capacity, she managed a $735 million budget and oversaw more than 4,800 attorneys and other employees. As California Attorney General, Kamala fought for families and won a $20 billion settlement for California homeowners against big banks that were unfairly foreclosing on homes.

Kamala worked to protect Obamacare, helped win marriage equality for all, defended California’s landmark climate change law and won a $1.1 billion settlement against a for-profit education company that scammed students and veterans. Kamala also fought for California communities and prosecuted transnational gangs who drove human trafficking, gun smuggling and drug rings.

Since being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016, Kamala has introduced and co-sponsored legislation to help the middle class, increase the minimum wage to $15, reform cash bail, and defend the legal rights of refugees and immigrants.

Kamala serves on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that deals with the nation’s most sensitive national security and international threats.  She also serves on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee where she oversees the federal government’s response to natural disasters and emergencies, including the Trump administration’s response to COVID-19.

On the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kamala has held Trump administration officials accountable and was a powerful voice against Trump’s conservative judicial nominations.

Kamala graduated from Howard University, where she was in the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, and earned a law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of Law. 

Kamala has been married to her husband Doug for the past six years. She is the stepmother of two children, Ella and Cole who are her “endless source of love and pure joy.”

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