civil rights

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You may not think of Connecticut as a slave state, but in the mid 1700s, New London County held more slaves than anywhere else in New England. Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison referred to our state as the "Georgia of New England."

This fact is one of many that can unsettle our Yankee sensibilities. Connecticut residents, especially white ones, grow up thinking they were on the right side of abolition, of the civil war, and later, of the civil rights movement. But the history, and the real path for African Americans who live in the state, is much more complicated. 

There's a state law that's supposed to deter racial profiling: the Alvin Penn Law of 1999. It was never really implemented until a recent revision by the General Assembly that states exactly how police officers should collect and maintain data on traffic stops. 

Hawaii's Senate has given the OK to a bill allowing same-sex marriage, which now goes to the governor, who is expected to sign.

Gay marriage is legal in 14 states and the District of Columbia. Illinois passed a similar law last week, which is awaiting the governor's signature.

Reuters says the measure in Hawaii cleared the state Senate on a 19-4 vote, with the chamber's lone Republican joining three Democrats to oppose the bill.

With the approval of the Statehouse, same-sex marriages are one step away from being legal in Illinois.

The Chicago Tribune reports the bill received 61 votes, just one more than necessary to send the bill to the Senate, which is expected to pass it.

The House was the bill's biggest hurdle because Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has said he would sign the bill into law.

The Tribune adds:

Diane Orson / WNPR

The city of East Haven does not have a positive national reputation. Earlier this week, a guilty verdict was reached in the case of two local police officers on charges of violating civil rights. Now that the trial is over, how does the town recover and move forward?

Say No--Unite / Creative Commons

The University of Connecticut held a day-long conference on Violence Against Women on Tuesday. The gathering came just a day after seven women filed a federal discrimination complaint against the school, claiming they were victims of sexual assaults while students at UConn.

Republican Chris Christie's decision Monday to drop his administration's legal challenge to same-sex marriage made perfect sense for the governor of New Jersey,

But for the potential 2016 presidential candidate, whose path would presumably start in Iowa — where the Republican Party is dominated by social conservatives — the calculation is a bit more complicated.

Bob Vander Plaats, Iowa's powerful evangelical conservative, put it bluntly Monday.

Melanie Stengel / The New Haven Register

A federal jury in Connecticut has found two police officers from the town of East Haven guilty of violating the civil rights of Hispanics. The Justice Department has said the town systematically discriminated against Latinos.

Diane Orson / WNPR

East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo, Jr. said the town has met its deadlines thus far under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice's Office for Civil Rights. The investigation into East Haven's police department began in 2010. In a 2011 report, federal authorities found that police there intentionally targeted Latinos for traffic stops, and used excessive force against those taken into custody.

Melanie Stengel / The New Haven Register

Two police officers from East Haven are facing charges that they harassed Latinos and violated their civil rights. Prosecutors are making their cases against David Cari and Dennis Spaulding in Hartford federal court. As they do, they're calling members of East Haven's largely Ecuadoran community to testify.

Melanie Stengel / The New Haven Register

WNPR News talked with Evan Lips, a reporter for The New Haven Register who has been covering the trial in East Haven of two police officers accused of violating the civil rights of several Latinos during arrests. The officers are David Cari and Dennis Spaulding, who were charged with conspiracy to violate civil rights. Spaulding was also charged with excessive force. Lips shared his observations about the early stages of the trial.

State Education Resource Center

The American Civil Liberties Union in Connecticut said it's concerned about the idea of single-sex classrooms as a way to address the state’s achievement gap.

Jeff Cohen/WNPR

The town of East Haven has gotten national attention for years for its alleged treatment of Latinos.

The U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division has said the town's police department had a deeply-rooted practice of discrimination.  And four of the town's police officers have been arrested.  Now, this week, two of those officers are on trial in federal court in Hartford.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

Two Connecticut police officers are on trial in federal court this week. They're accused of harassing and intimidating Latino residents in the city of East Haven. The police department there has been working to change a culture of discrimination. Jeff Cohen of our member station WNPR has the story.

Connecticut jurors heard opening statements Monday in the trial of two police officers accused of multiple civil rights violations in East Haven. The cops are charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice stemming from a federal racial profiling investigation.

Evan Cossette, a former Meriden police officer, was sentenced today to 14 months in prison in New Haven federal court. Cossette was found guilty in June for using unreasonable force against a handcuffed prisoner, and for trying to cover up his actions by lying about it in a report. He is the son of police Chief Jeffry Cossette.

Luis Luna, a Wallingford man who was arrested three years ago for filming police as they broke up a fight in New Haven, has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city. Luna was arrested on September 25, 2010, and filed the lawsuit on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.

Fifty years ago Sunday, a Ku Klux Klan bomb at a Baptist church in Birmingham, Ala., killed four black girls and sent shock waves throughout the country.

In Birmingham, the tragedy laid bare a deep rift.

Carolyn McKinstry, standing on the sidewalk outside 16th Street Baptist Church, remembers arriving for worship 50 years ago.

"It was Youth Day," she says. "We were excited because that meant we got to do everything. We sang, we ushered, we did everything."

Some of her Sunday school classmates had gone to the ladies' room to freshen up.

Chion Wolf

About 60 people gathered at the Capitol today to pay respects to an 18th-century Connecticut slave. This morning, a ceremony was held as the remains of the slave known as Mr. Fortune lied in state.

Courtesy of the Mattatuck Museum.

More than 200 years after his death, the remains of an 18th century Connecticut slave will soon receive a proper burial.  

The slave is known as Fortune. He, his wife, and three children were owned by a doctor whose medical practice was in Waterbury. 

After Fortune died, the doctor used his skeleton as a teaching tool for students. Later, it was donated to the Mattatuck Museum and put on display. The skeleton was called “Larry." After the display was removed in the 1980s, researchers  determined that the bones were, in fact, those of the slave,  Fortune.

Thousands gathered under gray skies in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.

They gathered in the exact same spot where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech, and many of the same themes — equality, dignity, unity — echoed through the crowd.

President Obama was joined by the King family and former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

For the month of August, Morning Edition and The Race Card Project are looking back at a seminal moment in civil rights history: the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic "I Have a Dream Speech" Aug. 28, 1963. Approximately 250,000 people descended on the nation's capital from all over the country for the mass demonstration.

"The National Security Agency is searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans' e-mail and text communications into and out of the country, hunting for people who mention information about foreigners under surveillance, according to intelligence officials," The New York Times reported Thursday.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the civil rights' movement March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, President Obama will deliver remarks from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the White House said today.

It was on those same steps that 50 years ago on August 28, that Martin Luther King delivered his iconic "I Have A Dream" speech.

The Washington Post explains:

Russian President Vladimir Putin keeps insisting that he doesn't want the case of a fugitive American intelligence contractor to harm relations between Russia and the United States.

But Edward Snowden remains an irritant, stuck in diplomatic limbo in the transit area of a Moscow airport.

A Putin spokesman said Friday that the issue is being discussed by the Russian federal security service — the FSB — and the FBI, but it may be that Snowden has become a problem that can only be solved at the top of the two governments.

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning was not aiding the enemy when he leaked the largest cache of classified information in the history of the United States, the defense argued today during closing arguments of his military trial in Fort Meade, Maryland, today. Instead, he released the information in an attempt to spark debate about things he found troubling about war and American diplomacy.

A Tale Of Two Massive Rallies In Egypt

Jul 26, 2013

At the request of Egypt's army chief, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, many Egyptians took to the street Friday to give him a mandate for what he calls a "war against terrorism" on Islamists.

His call drew a huge response from those opposed to Mohammed Morsi, but it also brought out large numbers of supporters of the ousted president who is allied with the Muslim Brotherhood.

As the following photographs show, anti-Morsi protesters rallied in Cairo's Tahrir Square ...

... while those allied with Morsi gathered near the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque.

In the war over the right to vote in the U.S., the Justice Department's choice of Texas as the battleground for its first legal action following the Supreme Court's weakening of the Voting Rights Act has a feeling of inevitability.

Willie Louis may be one of the most celebrated but least-known figures in a pivotal point in American history: He testified against the men accused of kidnapping and murdering 14-year-old Emmett Till. He died July 18, but his wife, Juliet, announced his death this week.

Diane Orson

Yesterday’s landmark Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act will allow same-sex couples to access hundreds of federal benefits.  One of those benefits will be to allow a U.S. citizen to help a fiancé or spouse get a green card.

Russ Hanoman is a systems engineer in Stamford. His finance lives in the Netherlands..

"I always had DOMA in the back of mind as an impediment to how this was eventually going to turn out."

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