civil rights

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott has fired Senior Deputy Ben Fields over the white deputy's violent arrest of a black student at a South Carolina high school, which was filmed by several students. Lott said Fields broke department policy in the arrest.

"It's not what I expect from my deputies, and it's not what I tolerate from my deputies," Lott said.

The sheriff said he's glad students documented the arrest with videos, which he said were helpful in reviewing the case.

We've updated our earlier post with the news.

Steven Depolo / Creative Commons

Women have come a long way in the fight for equality, but the battle is not over yet. This hour, we take a look at how women’s funds are helping to advance women’s rights and break down gender barriers.

Baltimore Police arrested a dozen demonstrators who had remained inside City Hall through the early morning.

The protest began last night during a hearing on the permanent appointment of Baltimore Police Interim Commissioner Kevin Davis. As the AP reports, the activists don't want the city council to move forward with the appointment before a series of demands — including changes to police tactics and investments in education — are met.

It was 60 years ago this week that an all-white jury acquitted two white men in the murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy visiting Mississippi from Chicago.

The case shocked the nation — drawing attention to the brutal treatment of African-Americans in the Deep South, and the failure of the justice system. The men later confessed to killing Till for whistling at a white woman.

Lee Werling / Flickr

With recent incidents like the ones in Ferguson and Baltimore, the issue of police training and leadership has come under the spotlight. Police commissioners and chiefs have either been fired or forced to resign due to some of these incidents. But police leadership may not be solely responsible for the practices and policies employed by cops on the street.

DavidsonScott15 / Creative Commons

Connecticut police are still stopping black and Hispanic drivers at disproportionately high rates, according to new data released from Central Connecticut State University.

It was just after sunset on a muggy Friday evening earlier this month, and my wife and I were standing outside a Hardee's in Seneca, S.C. We were at a vigil for Zachary Hammond, a white teenager killed by a police officer during an attempted drug arrest in the restaurant's parking lot, three miles from where we live and teach at Clemson University.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A transformation is underway in southeastern Connecticut. New London Public Schools are transitioning to become the state’s only all-magnet school district. The idea is not only to serve city students better, but also to create schools that attract suburban students and families back to New London.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Earlier this month, a group musicians and activists from Connecticut joined artists from around the country, who traveled to Missouri to participate in events marking the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown's death.

The "All Roads Lead to Ferguson: Black Lives Matter Tour," included musicians like The Peace Poets and Peter Yarrow of the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary.

Devon Puglia

Governor Dannel Malloy signed a bill Monday that clarifies state laws on police officers' authority to make arrests outside of their own towns. 

New demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo., led to a standoff with police and the arrests of 23 people Monday night, one day after a vigil for Michael Brown was marred by gunfire. The arrests came as police in riot gear tried to force people to disband and leave the street.

How hard can it be to hold hands with someone, even a stranger, if you know it's just for a couple minutes? For a few terrible moments in Charleston last week, I couldn't bring myself to do it.

Updated at 2:25 p.m. ET

Ireland has become the first-ever country to approve same-sex marriage by referendum, voting overwhelmingly to approve it despite opposition from clergy in the heavily Catholic nation, according to official results announced today.

Reuters says in Friday's vote "more than 60 percent of eligible voters cast their ballot, the highest turnout at a referendum there in over two decades."

Earlier, both sides in the debate acknowledged that the "yes" vote had succeeded.

Voters in Ireland are deciding whether the country will amend its constitution to make same-sex marriage legal.

The vote on Friday follows months of debate in the heavily Catholic country. Opinion polls suggest the referendum will pass and Ireland will become the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage in a national vote.

But, as NPR's Ari Shapiro points out, "Polls in this part of the world have been totally wrong in the past.

Lawmakers working on fixes to the justice system say that unrest in places like Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore is pushing them to act.

"The whole idea of a young man dying in police custody, the confrontations with police, the looting and burning of innocent minority owned businesses," Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said on the Senate floor this month. "The question arises, what can we do?"

Baltimore police seem to ignore injuries suffered by detainees by the hundreds.

That's according to a review of records by The Baltimore Sun.

According to a report published by the paper this weekend, from June 2012 through April 2015, the Baltimore City Detention Center refused 2,600 detainees brought in by police because they were injured.

The federal investigation into Baltimore's police force is one of the first steps some in the city believe will rebuild the relationship between officers and residents.

Some faith leaders are optimistic that can be done, and past police programs have helped. But other residents are skeptical that West Baltimore residents' trust can be regained.

The 1950s was a hinge decade for noteworthy and nation-changing civil rights events across the United States, including Brown v. Board of Education in Kansas, the bus boycott in Alabama and the National Guard-protected integration of Central High School in Arkansas.

Meanwhile, there was also a revolution brewing in bookstores and public libraries.

By design or by happenstance, a handful of children's picture books were focal points of the American movement toward integration in the '50s.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced today that she was lifting a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew in the city imposed nearly a week ago amid civil unrest over the death of Freddie Gray from injuries sustained in police custody.

"I want to thank the people of Baltimore for their patience," she said.

The emergency curfew was put in place after riots that took place in West Baltimore on Monday.

Updated at 2:10 p.m. ET

Hundreds in Baltimore began a "victory rally" to celebrate a decision by the city's top prosecutor to charge six officers in connection with the death of Freddie Gray, the young black man who died from a spinal injury he sustained in police custody.

The rally began at 2 p.m. in the West Baltimore neighborhood where Gray lived and was making its way to City Hall.

The death of Freddie Gray was a homicide, and six Baltimore police officers now face criminal charges that include second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, Baltimore chief prosecutor Marilyn J. Mosby says.

Mosby announced the charges Friday morning, citing her office's "thorough and independent" investigation and the medical examiner's report on Gray's death. She said warrants were issued Friday for the officers' arrest.

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza said he was racially profiled by police "countless times" as a youth and young man in Rhode Island's capital city.

"It's just part of growing up in the city -- which is very unfortunate and sad," Elorza, a son of Guatemalan immigrants, said Thursday during a taping of Rhode Island Public Radio's Political Roundtable. "I've been pulled over a number of times, so I'm sensitive to that."

It's really hard to catch up with Nick Mosby.

The young Baltimore Democrat walks fast, which I discovered when I finally managed to catch up with him. It was early Wednesday afternoon, and Mosby was in the lunchroom of Carver Vocational-Technical High School in West Baltimore, fresh from a TV hit on CNN.

The unrest in Baltimore and other cities regarding alleged police misconduct has prompted new calls for law enforcement officers to wear body cameras. Such recordings could provide accountability and transparency in potentially controversial circumstances.

At least, that's the idea.

The Baltimore Police Department says the van transporting Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old black man who suffered a serious spine injury while in police custody and later died, made one more stop than previously thought.

Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said the stop was made at the corner of Fremont Avenue and Mosher Street. A private camera helped make the discovery, he said.

The stop was one of four made by the van that was transporting Gray who suffered a spine injury at some point after his April 12 arrest on a weapons charge.

Updated at 7:40 p.m.

Protesters who have turned out in the streets of Baltimore for several days to express anger over the police custody death of Freddie Gray have gathered in their largest demonstration to date Saturday afternoon.

Organizers and supporters, who vowed to "shut down" the city, were using social media to share video of crowds gathering to protest the April 12 death of Gray, who suffered a fatal spinal cord injury while in custody.

J E Theriot / Creative Commons

Known to many as the “first lady of the black press,” Ethel Payne fearlessly documented the struggle for civil rights in twentieth-century America. This hour, we take a look at a new biography, which celebrates the life and legacy of the pioneering journalist. 

The Post and Courier

The video of white North Charleston, South Carolina police officer Michael Slager shooting black, unarmed Walter Scott in an open field has ripped open the national wound over race relations and law enforcement abuse. Slager now faces a murder charge after he shot Scott eight times in the back while the 50-year-old father ran away following a traffic stop.

Updated at 6:21 p.m. ET

Lawmakers in Indiana and Arkansas have approved changes to their respective "religious freedom" measures designed to answer critics who charged the laws were meant to discriminate against gays and lesbians by allowing businesses to refuse them service.

The amendments were passed by Legislatures in Indianapolis and Little Rock after a day of wrestling over the details of amendments to the measures.


Connecticut’s Starwood Hotels and Resorts is one of the companies condemning efforts by state legislatures to pass discriminatory legislation.