civil rights

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.

A new study by a UC-Berkeley graduate student has surprised a number of experts in the criminology field. Its main finding: Private prisons are packed with young people of color.

Dr. Alveda King has taken up the civil rights mantle of her uncle, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But her driving issue is abortion, and she has a vehemently pro-life stance. She says her uncle would agree with her. 

US Department of Labor / Creative Commons

On Monday, United States Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez came to Connecticut to discuss minimum wage increases with local business leaders, workers, and politicians. During his trip, he called us to talk about how states like Connecticut are handling a higher minimum wage. What effect could this have on employment in the United States? 

Chion Wolf

Here's a little bit of Civil War history that seems to have started here in Connecticut. It was in this month of February in 1860 that Cassius Clay, a Kentucky planter turned anti-slavery crusader spoke in Hartford not far from where we're doing this show today. He was accompanied by a torch-bearing honor guard in capes and caps. The Hartford Courant called these young men "wide-awakes." 

Attorney General Eric Holder called on 11 states to repeal "counterproductive" laws that bar convicted felons from "the single most basic right of American citizenship-the right to vote."

In a speech Tuesday at Georgetown University law school, Holder used his bully pulpit to note that 5.8 million people are prohibited from voting because of current or former felony convictions, including 1-in-5 black adults in Florida, Kentucky and Virginia.

More Snow on the Way; Metro-North Upgrades Coming

Feb 4, 2014

A Winter Storm Watch has already been issued for Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning for the next snow storm that could start out as sleet and bring another eight inches of new snow. Temperatures will be in the low 20s on Monday night.

Melanie Stengel / The New Haven Register

Former East Haven police officer Dennis Spaulding has been sentenced to five years in prison for violating the constitutional rights of members of the East Haven community, particularly Latinos.  

Father James Manship / New Haven Independent

A former East Haven police officer was sentenced on Tuesday to two and a half years in prison for multiple civil rights violations. David Cari was found guilty in October of conspiring to violate and violating the civil rights of members of the East Haven community, particularly Latinos.  

Last fall, curators and interns at the New York State Museum were digging through their audio archives in an effort to digitize their collection. It was tedious work; the museum houses over 15 million objects. But on this particular day in November, they unearthed a treasure.

Win McNamee/Getty Images / Thinkstock

Monday marks the official observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. To honor the occasion, "Connecticut First" is airing a special edition of the weekday news segment with Eric Clemmons. Watch the segment below or catch it on CPTV on Monday at 6:56 pm. It tells the story of the two summers King spent in Simsbury picking tobacco while on college break.

On a recent Friday evening in Langley Park, Md., police officer Juan Damian drives his patrol car past fast food restaurants, discount stores and Hispanic groceries.

Damian estimates that at least two-thirds of the people here are undocumented, and that has made it a magnet for robberies over the years. Gangs know undocumented day workers are especially lucrative targets, he says. Their pockets are often stuffed with a day's or even a week's worth of wages. The street term for these men: "walking ATMs."

Library of Congress

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.

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