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Friday, November 1, 2013

  • Court Blocks NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Reforms, Removes Judge Who Found Program Unconstitutional

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    A sweeping set of changes to the New York City Police Department’s controversial "stop-and-frisk" program has been put on hold. In August, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin found the program unconstitutional, saying police had relied on a "policy of indirect racial profiling" that led officers to routinely stop "blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white." While she did not halt the use of stop-and-frisk, Scheindlin appointed a federal court monitor to oversee a series of reforms. The city appealed Scheindlin’s ruling, saying it made officers "passive and scared" to frisk suspects. On Thursday, it got what it was hoping for, and much more. An appeals court stayed the changes, effectively postponing the operations of the monitor, while allowing police officers to continue using stop-and-frisk tactics. In a striking move, the court also took the unusual step of removing Scheindlin from the case, saying she "ran afoul" of the judiciary’s code of conduct and compromised the "appearance of impartiality surrounding this litigation" by granting media interviews while the case was pending before her. All of this comes as stop-and-frisk has been a major issue in New York City’s mayoral election, which takes place this Tuesday. "The next mayor should consider withdrawing the appeal," says Sunita Patel, co-counsel on the stop-and-frisk federal class action lawsuit and a staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights. "Any fair-minded and neutral judge to look at the record … will come up with the same conclusion. There was a nine-week trial. There is 23,000 pages of evidence here, 8,000 pages of trial transcript. No one could come to a different conclusion than Judge Scheindlin." (Photo courtesy of Anna Tesar)

  • Canadians Held 50 Days in Egyptian Prison After Documenting Massacre Speak Out Following Release

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    As Egypt sets a date for ousted President Mohamed Morsi to stand trial for inciting the murder of protesters and the Muslim Brotherhood calls for mass demonstrations, we speak with two people who witnessed one of the bloodiest massacres of Morsi supporters by Egyptian state forces. Acclaimed Toronto filmmaker John Greyson and emergency room medical doctor Tarek Loubani were in Cairo on August 16, en route to a humanitarian mission in Gaza, when they went to film a protest and then rushed to the scene of a massacre — Greyson reportedly began filming the shooting’s aftermath while Loubani treated some of the injured. Then, along with 600 Egyptians that day, the pair of Canadians were swept up and detained without charge. They were held in cockroach-infested jail cells with as many as 36 other inmates. Greyson and Loubani launched a hunger strike, while supporters in Canada mounted a massive campaign to lobby for their release. Then, in early October, the pair were freed. They have since returned home to Canada, where they continue to call for the release of their Egyptian cellmates who remain imprisoned. We go to Toronto, where we are joined by Greyson, who is also a member of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. And in Ontario, we’re joined by Tarek Loubani, an assistant professor at Western University. He is a Palestinian refugee and one of the architects of the Canada-Gaza academic collaboration, a project that brings doctors from the West to Gaza to train physicians.