civil rights

The Justice Department is poised to declare that former police officer Darren Wilson should not face civil rights charges over the death of Michael Brown, law enforcement sources tell NPR. Wilson, who is white, shot and killed Brown, who was black, in August. Brown was not armed.

"Two law enforcement sources tell NPR they see no way forward to file criminal civil rights charges" against Wilson, NPR's Carrie Johnson reports. She adds, "Those charges would require authorities to prove the officer used excessive force and violated Brown's constitutional rights."

Discrimination claims from people across Connecticut led the U.S. Attorney’s Office to announce that it would form a working group to investigate possible civil rights violations by public and private schools and childcare programs.

King's Last March

Jan 19, 2015

On Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, WNPR's Where We Live presents a documentary special from American RadioWorks, "King's Last March." It explores the final year of King's life.

On April 4, 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a landmark speech from the pulpit of Riverside Church in New York. He called for an end to the Vietnam War.

Exactly one year later, King was assassinated in Memphis. He was 39 years old. King’s speech in New York set the tone for the last year of his life. 

It's morning meeting time. "When Dr. King was little, he learned a golden rule," sings a class of 4- and 5-year-olds with their teacher, Carolyn Barnhardt.

John Eaton Elementary School, a public school in Washington, D.C., is unusual. It sits in one of the District's wealthiest neighborhoods, but the majority of students hail from different parts of the city, making it one of the most racially and economically diverse elementary schools in the nation's capital.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The success of a society depends - at least in part - on the civility of its members. Mutual respect, openness to different viewpoints...civil conversation is what we try to promote here on our show. 

Protesters against police brutality marched along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan on Tuesday, despite a call from New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to suspend demonstrations. De Blasio asked people to wait until after the funerals of two police officers who were shot and killed over the weekend.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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:

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

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. 

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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