civil rights

White House
3:26 am
Tue December 16, 2014

President's Task Force To Re-Examine How Police Interact With Public

President Obama announces the creation of a policing task force Dec. 1 as Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey (left) and George Mason University criminology professor Laurie Robinson look on.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 3:09 pm

Earlier this month, after the events in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y, the White House announced the creation of what it's calling a Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

The group's job is to find ways to strengthen the relationship between police and the public, and to share recommendations with the president by late February.

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Justice for All
10:39 am
Sat December 13, 2014

Protesters Rally In 'Justice For All' Marches In 3 Cities

Melissa W. Green, right, and her daughter Reshae Green holds up their signs at Freedom Plaza during the "Justice for All" march and rally on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington on Saturday.
Jose Luis Magana AP

Originally published on Sat December 13, 2014 6:38 pm

Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET

Thousands of demonstrators gathered today for a "Justice for All" march in the nation's capital to protest decisions in Missouri and New York not to indict police officers involved in the deaths of two black men.

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Opinion
9:15 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Gun Rights Outweigh Gun Control In New Pew Survey

More than half of American women now say owning a gun protects people from becoming victims of crime, according to Pew. Here, a woman carries a rifle at a gun rights rally at the Utah State Capitol last year.
George Frey Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 12:36 pm

For the first time in at least 20 years, significantly more Americans say it's more important to protect the right to own guns than to control gun ownership, according to the Pew Research Center.

The survey found that more than half of Americans (52 percent) sided with gun rights compared with the 46 percent who favored gun control.

The findings represent the continuation of a shift that was only briefly interrupted by the Newtown, Conn., school shootings in 2012.

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Sweetness and Light
10:05 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Deford: What's Wrong With Pro Athletes Taking A Stand?

Members of the St. Louis Rams raise their arms to protest the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Mo., before a game last month. The players faced a backlash from St. Louis police and have been asked to apologize.
L.G. Patterson AP

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 6:23 am

A common complaint I've long heard was that current athletes were selfish and not politically involved like their passionate forebears –– players like Jim Brown, Billie Jean King, Bill Russell and Arthur Ashe.

My response was, "Well, how many of the modern athletes' peers are especially engaged in social controversy?" It wasn't fair to compare the sensibility of the athletes of, say, 1995 or 2005 to those of 1965; the apt comparison is with other members of their own cohort.

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White House
4:12 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Obama Administration Unveils New Limits On Racial Profiling

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 5:44 pm

The Obama administration released new guidelines today to ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement officers. The guidelines replace ones adopted by the Bush administration in 2003.

The new rules prohibit profiling based on race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, religion or sexual orientation and apply to federal officers, such as the FBI and Secret Service and any local law enforcement that work with them on task forces.

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Civil Rights
10:30 am
Mon December 8, 2014

Bay Area Protests Turn Violent For Second Night In A Row

Protesters light a dumpster on fire, early Monday in Berkeley, Calif., as raucous demonstrations hit the streets of California for a second straight night in response to police killings in Missouri and New York.
Taylor Nitta AP

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 2:04 pm

Protests over police killings in Missouri and New York turned violent in Berkeley, Calif., for the second night in a row as demonstrators vandalized businesses and blocked traffic on a freeway.

"I did a few things that, you know, I'm not too proud of but, you know, I felt like it was all for a good cause at the time," protester Gary Leroy told KRON TV.

Protesters threw rocks and bottles at police, who responded with tear gas.

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Protests
8:43 am
Fri December 5, 2014

Frustration, Anger Over Police Killings Ignite New Protests

Protesters hold caskets as they march across the Brooklyn Bridge for the second night in a row following a decision by a grand jury not to indict an NYPD officer involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York.
JOHN ANGELILLO UPI /Landov

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 9:03 am

Frustration about two recent cases in which unarmed black men were killed by police brought new protests and road closures to New York City, Chicago, Washington, Boston, Cleveland and elsewhere Thursday.

Many of the demonstrators timed their marches to disrupt rush-hour traffic. In New York, the iconic Brooklyn Bridge was shut down, and protesters crowded the terminal for the Staten Island Ferry.

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New York
3:29 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

NYC Police Will Be Retrained, De Blasio Says At News Conference

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 6:08 pm

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton have announced plans to give training to police officers to help them treat all citizens with equal respect and with equal regard for their safety.

"These changes are happening because the people demanded it," de Blasio said.

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New York
3:17 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Grand Jury In Garner Case Heard From 50 Witnesses, Saw 4 Videos

A man pauses Wednesday at a memorial for Eric Garner outside the beauty salon in Staten Island where he died during an arrest attempt.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 5:53 pm

The grand jury that weighed whether to charge the New York police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner heard from 50 witnesses and saw dozens of exhibits, including four videos, before declining to indict.

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Civil Rights
8:49 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Attorney General Holder Announces U.S. Inquiry Into Garner Case

Originally published on Wed December 3, 2014 10:30 pm

Saying that several arms of the U.S. Department of Justice have been monitoring the inquiry into the death of Staten Island resident Eric Garner, Attorney General Eric Holder said, "the Justice Department will proceed with a federal civil rights investigation of Mr. Garner's death."

Holder promised an "independent, thorough, fair and expeditious investigation."

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New York
8:47 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Protests Spread In New York And Beyond Over Eric Garner Case

Protesters shout slogans in New York City's Times Square on Wednesday. A New York City grand jury has decided not to charge a police officer who killed Eric Garner with a chokehold while trying to arrest him for illegally selling cigarettes.
Adrees Latif Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed December 3, 2014 10:42 pm

As word spread of a grand jury's decision not to indict a police officer in the chokehold death of Staten Island man Eric Garner, so did word of planned protests in New York and other cities. And while a main target was Wednesday night's lighting of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, it seems that many protesters were kept away.

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New York
8:40 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

'Black Lives Matter,' NYC Mayor Says After Grand Jury Doesn't Indict Officer

Eric Garner (right) poses with his children. A grand jury has decided not to indict a New York police officer over Garner's death in July.
Family photo via National Action Network AP

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 1:34 pm

A grand jury has decided not to indict a New York police officer in the death of Eric Garner on a Staten Island sidewalk this past July.

"It's a very painful day for so many New Yorkers," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.

The encounter between Garner and officer Daniel Pantaleo caused an uproar after video footage of the incident was released. It showed Garner repeatedly gasping, "I can't breathe," as Pantaleo and other officers took him to the ground.

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White House
7:09 am
Mon December 1, 2014

Obama To Ask For $263 Million For Police Body Cameras, Training

Officers wearing riot gear walk through a park in downtown St. Louis on Sunday.
Tom Gannam AP

Originally published on Mon December 1, 2014 8:00 pm

After a day spent meeting with his Cabinet, civil rights leaders and other officials about the mistrust of police in communities of color, President Obama will ask Congress for $263 million in part to equip local police with body cameras.

Update at 6:55 p.m. ET: Other Possible Changes

As the president confirmed his plans at the White House, Attorney General Eric Holder announced he will soon release new guidelines to limit racial profiling by authorities.

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The Two-Way
9:10 am
Sun November 30, 2014

Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson Resigns

Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, shown during his medical examination after he fatally shot Michael Brown, has resigned from the Ferguson Police Department, the AP reports. Wilson has been on administrative leave since the Aug. 9 shooting.
AP

Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 8:49 pm

Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown nearly four months ago, is resigning, according to his attorney.

Wilson's resignation was announced Saturday by Neil Bruntrager, who says his client's resignation is effective immediately. Wilson had been on administrative leave since Aug. 9.

In his resignation letter, Wilson writes that he hopes his resignation "will allow the community to heal." The Ferguson Police Department has not confirmed that it has received this letter.

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Civil Rights
6:54 am
Wed November 26, 2014

Protests Of Grand Jury Decision Fan Out Across The Country

People gather outside the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters on Tuesday.
Nick Ut AP

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 9:04 am

Updated at 6:54 a.m.

Public reaction to a Missouri grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson has ranged from fire and looting close to where Wilson shot Michael Brown to peaceful protests nearby.

Other protests were held in large and small cities and college towns across America on Tuesday; photos from those scenes show a variety of demonstrators, tactics and responses.

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Civil Rights
11:35 am
Tue November 25, 2014

Federal Ferguson Investigation Will Remain Independent, Holder Insists

Attorney General Eric Holder visited Ferguson, Mo., in August, where he met with elected and police officials and community members.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 8:15 am

This post was updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

Attorney General Eric Holder says "far more must be done to create enduring trust" between police and communities they serve, even as his Justice Department continues to investigate possible discriminatory police actions in Ferguson, Mo.

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Missouri
12:32 am
Tue November 25, 2014

Ferguson Jury: No Charges For Officer In Michael Brown's Death

Lesley McSpadden (wearing sunglasses), the mother of Michael Brown, reacts as she listens to the announcement of the grand jury's decision in Ferguson, Mo., on Monday. The panel found there was no probable cause to indict police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Brown.
Charlie Riedel AP

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 8:10 am

This post was last updated at 12:03 a.m. ET.

A grand jury did not indict Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson for any crimes related to the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in August.

Wilson, who is white, shot and killed Brown, who was unarmed and black, in an Aug. 9 incident that has stoked anger and debate in Ferguson and beyond.

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Missouri
10:59 am
Fri November 21, 2014

Holder Calls For Calm As Ferguson Grand Jury Decision Looms

Attorney General Eric Holder, pictured Sept. 4, says "durable relationships between police and their communities do not develop overnight."
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 3:49 pm

Attorney General Eric Holder is urging law enforcement officers and protesters to keep the peace as a grand jury decision nears about whether to indict white police officer Darren Wilson for shooting dead a black 18-year-old who was unarmed in Ferguson, Mo.

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Civil Rights
6:48 am
Wed November 12, 2014

John Doar Remembered As A Civil Rights Pioneer

John Doar in Oxford, Miss., in 1966.
AP

Originally published on Wed November 12, 2014 10:59 am

The news of attorney John Doar's death at 92 on Tuesday sent a wave of solemnity through the country, prompting multiple obituaries detailing his extensive work fighting discrimination and working for racial equality during the 1960s and '70s.

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Voting Problems
7:51 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

Denise Merrill: "The Vote Should Go On" in Connecticut

Denise Merrill in a WNPR file photo.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Secretary of State Denise Merrill said she will be filing a complaint on Tuesday evening due to what she called "gross dereliction of duties" by Hartford registrars. 

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Civil Rights
5:22 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Missouri Governor Announces Creation Of 'Ferguson Commission'

Police walk through a cloud of smoke as they clash with protesters in Ferguson, Mo., this summer.
Jeff Roberson AP

Originally published on Wed October 22, 2014 10:05 am

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced on Tuesday that he's forming a panel that will study the social and economic conditions that fueled violent protests in Ferguson, Mo., over the killing of an unarmed 18-year-old this summer.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

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Massachusetts
9:06 am
Wed October 8, 2014

City Council Approves $1M Settlement In Springfield Teen's Death

Originally published on Tue October 7, 2014 2:46 pm

The city council in Springfield, Massachusetts has voted to pay $1 million to the family of a teenager who died after an encounter with police.

   The settlement was negotiated by lawyers for the city and the family of Delano Walker Jr.  Last month a federal court jury found a city police officer had violated the civil rights of Walker and awarded his family $1.3 million.  The settlement means the city will drop an appeal.  City councilor Bud Williams said it is time for healing

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Funding Education
11:19 am
Tue September 23, 2014

Connecticut Most Reliant State in U.S. on Property Taxes to Fund Public Education

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities says a range of actions are needed by the state to address education funding issues.
Connecticut Conference of Municipalities

A new report by The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities says the state remains the most reliant in the nation on the property tax to fund pre-K to 12 public education. 

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Civil Rights
8:19 am
Sat September 20, 2014

On 50th Anniversary of Civil Rights Act, What Have We Accomplished?

Panelists talk at the University of Hartford about education and health care access disparities.
Lorraine Greenfield

All week, the University of Hartford hosted events marking the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. The programs were designed to encourage reflection on what was accomplished back then, as a way to ask ourselves, “What can we do now?”

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Missouri
9:12 am
Wed August 20, 2014

A 'Different Dynamic' In Ferguson, But With 47 Arrests

Protesters walk in front of a line of police early Wednesday as authorities try to disperse a demonstration in Ferguson, Mo. The St. Louis suburb saw less violence than on other recent nights of protests.
Charlie Riedel AP

Originally published on Wed August 20, 2014 12:56 pm

Tear gas and Molotov cocktails were absent from the streets of Ferguson, Mo., last night, as protesters and police avoided the clashes that have marred demonstrations over the death of an an unarmed black teenager at the hands of a white police officer last weekend in the St. Louis suburb.

Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who is in charge of security in Ferguson, announced that 47 arrests had been made and that three loaded handguns were confiscated.

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Missouri
5:53 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Ferguson Police Use Tear Gas, Flash Grenades To Disperse Protesters

Police arrest a demonstrator protesting the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson on Monday. At a news conference, President Obama called for calm. "Let's seek to heal rather than wound each other," he said.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 4:36 am

Attorney General Eric Holder will be going to Ferguson, Mo., on Wednesday to meet with federal agents and community leaders there, President Obama said in a news conference Monday.

The Justice Department is conducting its own investigation into the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen who was shot by a police officer and whose death has sparked a week of protests.

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Code Switch
2:59 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

What Policing Looks Like To A Former Officer

Demonstrators protest the killing of teenager Michael Brown by Police.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 13, 2014 6:23 pm

Ronald Hampton worked in law enforcement in Washington, D.C., for 23 years, first on the street, and then as a community relations officer. He was also heavily involved in program development, education and crime prevention. He retired from the police force in 1994, but continued his work as the executive director of the National Black Police Association. Today he teaches criminal justice at the University of the District of Columbia.

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Ferguson
3:05 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

In Missouri City, Calls For Justice, And Calm, After Teen's Death

Demonstrators protest the killing of Michael Brown, 18, who was shot and killed by police Saturday in Ferguson, Mo.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 12, 2014 4:52 pm

Citing safety concerns, police in Ferguson, the St. Louis suburb where an officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager Saturday, say they won't release the name of the officer who fired the shots. The department reportedly received threats against the officer.

"If we come out and say, 'it was this officer,' then he immediately becomes a target," Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson said, according to the AP. "We're taking the threats seriously."

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Equal Employment
9:14 am
Wed July 16, 2014

EEOC Announces Tougher Rules Protecting Pregnant Workers

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's new guidance states that employers who allow parental leave must provide it to men and women equally.
Yuri Arcurs iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 10:32 am

Discrimination against female workers who might get pregnant in the future, or have been pregnant in the past, is against the law, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said this week. For the first time in 30 years, the agency has updated its rules against pregnancy discrimination.

The agency clarified several policies, including one that spells out when businesses may have to provide pregnant workers light duty and another that bans employers from forcing a pregnant worker to take leave even in cases when she's able to continue on the job.

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Transgender Rights: "The Civil Rights Issue of Our Time"?

Susan Bigelow.
Chion Wolf WNPR

Those who identify as transgender Americans continue to face social stigmas, discrimination, and legal issues not often faced by other members of the LGBT community.

This hour, we talk with some transgender rights experts and advocates about what Vice President Joe Biden has called "the civil rights issue of our time."

We also check in with WNPR reporter Lucy Nalpathanchil, who gives us the latest on the case of transgender teen Jane Doe.

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