civil rights

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?”

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

This post was updated at 5:20 p.m. ET.

The Family Medical Leave Act's benefits will be extend to married same-sex couples in all of the U.S., under a White House announced today. The change comes as the Obama administration alters federal policies to fit the Supreme Court's repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act last June.

Editors' Note: An earlier version of this post, as well as an accompanying breaking news alert, incorrectly stated that Ruby Dee had won an Oscar for her role in American Gangster. Dee was nominated for the award but did not win.

Ruby Dee, an actress and civil rights activist who built a career on stage and screen at a time when African-Americans had few such opportunities, has died at age 91.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This summer, we'll be regularly spotlighting sites on the National Register of Historic Places that have some significance to issues of race and culture.

The Montgomery Greyhound Station, Montgomery, Ala.

Sarah Caufield / Creative Commons

The use of Tasers by police has been controversial in communities nationwide after isolated deaths and reports of misuse. In Connecticut, lawmakers have approved a bill that would make it the first state in the country to require police to report how the weapons are being used.

TASER International

The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut is calling for statewide regulations and clear policies on how the police use Tasers.

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