Thursday, August 8, 2013

  • New York Police Ends Practice of Keeping Innocent New Yorkers in Stop-and-Frisk Database


    In a settlement with the New York Civil Liberties Union, the New York City Police Department agreed to stop storing the names of people who were arrested or issued a summons after being stopped and frisked — and later cleared of any criminal wrongdoing. For years, police have used the database to target New Yorkers for criminal investigations, even though it includes people who were victims of unjustified police stops. Since 2002, the police department has conducted more than five million stops and frisks. The vast majority of those stopped have been black and Latino. According to the police department’s own reports, nearly nine out of 10 New Yorkers stopped and frisked have been innocent. We speak to Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. (Photo courtesy of Anna Tesar)

  • "I Do Not Want to Die in Prison": Cancer-Stricken Lawyer Lynne Stewart Seeks Compassionate Release


    Lawyers for imprisoned attorney Lynne Stewart head to federal court today to seek her release from prison. Now 73 years old, Stewart is dying from cancer in a Texas prison. Last month, Stewart’s treating physician in prison estimated her life expectancy is approximately 18 months. This comes after the Federal Bureau of Prisons denied Stewart’s request for early release — a denial her lawyers are appealing and hope to address today in a hearing before her original sentencing judge, Judge John Koeltl. In 2010, Stewart was sentenced to 10 years in prison for passing messages from her client, Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, to his followers in Egypt. In a letter to Judge Koeltl, Stewart wrote: "I do not intend to go 'gently into that good night' as Dylan Thomas wrote. There is much to be done in this world. I do know that I do not want to die here in prison — a strange and loveless place. I want to be where all is familiar — in a word, home. ... I have no grandiose plans — just good food, conversation, music. That is what I look forward to. And of course, my beloved husband Ralph — my hero and help, my heart, through all the last 50 years. I need him and his strength and love now to be close to me as I get ready for the nearing moments of transition and then rest. If you indeed represent the merciful hand of the law, as against, in this case, a heartless bureaucracy, do not punish me further. Grant me release and allow me to die in dignity." We speak to her husband Ralph Poynter, her daughter Zenobia Brown, and her attorney Jill Shellow.

  • Activists Accuse Washington, D.C. Police Officer of Infiltrating Bangladesh Sweatshop Protests


    United Students Against Sweatshop have filed a suit against Washington, D.C., seeking an injunction to stop police from spying on the group’s activities. The lawsuit claims a police officer named Nicole Rizzi infiltrated anti-sweatshop protests after the devastating factory fire in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,100 workers in April. Activists say they were able to uncover Rizzi’s identity because she left several clues on social media sites. In a photo posted on the site YFrog, Rizzi points out a typo on a piece of mail addressed to the "DC Metropolation Police Department." Rizzi’s finger partially covers up the address line, but it appears to identify her as director of the Intelligence Branch. In a post on Rizzi’s since-deleted Tumblr account, she wrote, "In the position I’m in, it’s beneficial to wear ordinary clothes. Plainclothes assignments too, you wear what would blend in." We speak to reporter Mike Elk of In These Times magazine. He is author of the article, "Activists Identify DC Cop Who Infiltrated Bangladesh Sweatshop Protests."