Tag Archive: mark shuster UGA


 

 

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Federal prosecutors in Virginia have charged four white supremacists from California with conspiracy and inciting rioting at the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in August of 2017.   Last year’s protest left activist Heather Heyer dead after white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr. plowed his car into a crowd of peaceful counter-protesters.

Benjamin Daley, Thomas Gillen, Michael Miselis and Cole White are all members of a militant white supremacist group from California known as the Rise Above Movement, which espouses anti-Semitic views and meets regularly in public parks to train in boxing and other fighting techniques, according to an affidavit written by an FBI agent.  According to The Anti-Defamation League, the Rise Above Movement members believe they are fighting against a “modern world” corrupted by the “destructive cultural influences” of liberals, Jews, Muslims and non-white immigrants. Members refer to themselves as the mixed martial arts club of the “alt-right” fringe movement, a loose mix of neo-Nazis, white nationalists and other far-right extremists.

U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen said each defendant faces a maximum of 10 years in prison if convicted on the two counts they each face: traveling to incite riots and conspiracy to riot.  The affidavit alleges the four men were “among the most violent individuals present in Charlottesville” in August of last year during a torch-lit march on the University of Virginia campus and a larger rally in downtown the following day. It says photos and video footage shows they attacked counter-protesters, “which in some cases resulted in serious injuries.”  The men have also taken part in “acts of violence” at political rallies in Huntington Beach and Berkeley, California, and other places, the affidavit alleges.

Cullen said that the men also engaged in acts of violence in their home state of California at a series of political rallies, dubbing them “serial rioters.”  At a news briefing, Cullen said “This is a group that essentially subscribes to an anti-Semitic, racist ideology, and then organizes, trains, and deploys to various political rallies, not only to espouse this particular ideology but also to engage in acts of violence against folks who are taking a contrary point of view.”

A Los Angeles judge denied bail for Michael Miselis, finding that he posed a risk to the community.  Miselis’ attorney argued for his release, detailing how his client got his master’s at UCLA and worked as an engineer at Northrop Grumman for five years before being dismissed after his connection to Charlottesville became public.  Prosecutor David Ryan argued against bail for Miselis, saying agents found smoke bombs, flares, and thousands of rounds of ammunition, mostly for assault weapons, in his home, where he had a wall hanging that said “88,” a common abbreviation for “Heil Hitler.”  Ryan also said said Miselis, Daley and other members of their group also traveled to Germany and the Ukraine earlier this year and met with members of well-known violent white supremacy groups.

Cullen said investigators sifted through “an incredible volume” of video and still photographs to review the movements of the four men and determine whether they could claim they were only defending themselves after being attacked by others at the rally. He said prosecutors believe there was “no provocation” for them to engage in violence that day.  The four men, he said, made their way to the rally with their hands taped, “ready to do street battle.”  Then they engaged in punching, kicking, head-butting and pushing, assaulting an African-American man, two women and a minister who was wearing a clerical collar, Cullen said.  Cullen also said a significant aspect of the case was that the four men had “extensive and robust” social media profiles and used social media to further their purposes.

 

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A Texas Supervisory Border Patrol agent has been arrested for murder after authorities say he confessed to killing four women.  Agent Juan David Ortiz is being held on $2.5 million bond, accused in the killing of at least four women and of injuring a fifth who managed to escape. Ortiz, 35, has worked as a Border Patrol agent for 10 years and is a U.S. Navy veteran.

Investigators have called the case a two week string of violence with the Customs and Border Patrol intel supervisor continuing to go to work as usual throughout that time.  Webb County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz said Saturday that investigators “consider this to be a serial killer” whose victims were believed to be prostitutes.  Ortiz is being held in Laredo on four counts of murder along with charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and unlawful restraint.

On Sept. 4th of the body of 29-year-old Melissa Ramirez, a mother of two, was found on a rural road.  Ramirez had been shot in the head.  Days later, 42-year-old Claudine Anne Luera, a mother of five, was found shot and left in the road.  Badly injured but still alive, Luera was rushed to the hospital but died later that day.

On September 14th, at around 9 p.m. Ortiz picked up a woman named Erika Pena. She told police she struggled with Ortiz inside his truck after he pointed a gun at her but that she was able to flee.  She ran to a gas station where she found a state trooper and asked for help.  Police were on the lookout for Ortiz when officers approached him after he stopped for gas around 1 a.m.  He left his gun in his truck and fled on foot. He was captured at 2:30 a.m., when police found him hiding in a hotel parking garage, where he unsuccessfully attempted to draw the gunfire of the arresting officers.

According to the affidavit, Ortiz told investigators that after Pena ran off, Ortiz returned home to load several firearms in anticipation of a confrontation with police.  He then picked up a woman in Laredo, drove her outside of town and shot her in a remote area of the county.  He returned to Laredo, picked up another victim and repeated the process.  The identities of his last two victims have not yet been released by authorities.

Police said the dead are believed to have been prostitutes and that one of them was a transgender woman. At least two were U.S. citizens; the nationalities of the others were not known.  Police say Ortiz has a a “dislike” of the sex-worker community and appears to have targeted his victims deliberately after gaining their trust.  He shot all four execution-style in the head after forcing them out of his truck in rural parts of Webb County, outside the city limits of Laredo.  Investigators believe Ortiz acted alone and are still working to determine a motive.

 

 

 

 

 

A Texas Supervisory Border Patrol agent has been arrested for murder after authorities say he confessed to killing four women.  Agent Juan David Ortiz is being held on $2.5 million bond, accused in the killing of at least four women and of injuring a fifth who managed to escape. Ortiz, 35, has worked as a Border Patrol agent for 10 years and is a U.S. Navy veteran.

Investigators have called the case a two week string of violence with the Customs and Border Patrol intel supervisor continuing to go to work as usual throughout that time.  Webb County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz said Saturday that investigators “consider this to be a serial killer” whose victims were believed to be prostitutes.  Ortiz is being held in Laredo on four counts of murder along with charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and unlawful restraint.

On Sept. 4th of the body of 29-year-old Melissa Ramirez, a mother of two, was found on a rural road.  Ramirez had been shot in the head.  Days later, 42-year-old Claudine Anne Luera, a mother of five, was found shot and left in the road.  Badly injured but still alive, Luera was rushed to the hospital but died later that day.

On September 14th, at around 9 p.m. Ortiz picked up a woman named Erika Pena. She told police she struggled with Ortiz inside his truck after he pointed a gun at her but that she was able to flee.  She ran to a gas station where she found a state trooper and asked for help.  Police were on the lookout for Ortiz when officers approached him after he stopped for gas around 1 a.m.  He left his gun in his truck and fled on foot. He was captured at 2:30 a.m., when police found him hiding in a hotel parking garage, where he unsuccessfully attempted to draw the gunfire of the arresting officers.

According to the affidavit, Ortiz told investigators that after Pena ran off, Ortiz returned home to load several firearms in anticipation of a confrontation with police.  He then picked up a woman in Laredo, drove her outside of town and shot her in a remote area of the county.  He returned to Laredo, picked up another victim and repeated the process.  The identities of his last two victims have not yet been released by authorities.

Police said the dead are believed to have been prostitutes and that one of them was a transgender woman. At least two were U.S. citizens; the nationalities of the others were not known.  Police say Ortiz has a a “dislike” of the sex-worker community and appears to have targeted his victims deliberately after gaining their trust.  He shot all four execution-style in the head after forcing them out of his truck in rural parts of Webb County, outside the city limits of Laredo.  Investigators believe Ortiz acted alone and are still working to determine a motive.

 

Let us know what you think of this story in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

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Jury selection is underway in the murder trial of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who’s charged in the killing of 17-year-old in October 2014. The killing was captured on a police dash cam video released under court order, which contradicted police claims about the shooting. The video shows the teenager posing no threat and walking away from the officers before Van Dyke opened fire 16 times.

On October 20, 2014, just before 10pm, police responded to reports of someone breaking into vehicles in a trucking yard at 41st and Kildare Avenue.  Initial reports said McDonald had been behaving erratically while walking down the street while holding a folding knife with a three-inch blade. When officers confronted McDonald, he used a knife with a 3-inch blade to slice the tire on a patrol vehicle and damage its windshield.  McDonald walked away from police after numerous verbal instructions from officers to drop the knife, at which point responding officers requested Taser backup.

Video of the shooting shows that Officer Van Dyke was advancing on McDonald, while McDonald was walking away from him when the first shot was fired. The first shot hit McDonald, who spun and fell to the ground.  As McDonald lay on the ground, still holding the knife, Van Dyke fired more shots into him from about 10 feet away, expending the maximum capacity of his 9mm semi-automatic firearm. Van Dyke was on scene for less than 30 seconds before opening fire and the first shot he fired was 6 seconds after he exited his patrol car.  McDonald was shot 16 times in 14–15 seconds and 9 of those shots hit his back as he lay on the ground.  Toxicology reports later revealed that McDonald had PCP in his blood and urine.

The first responding officer said that he did not see the need to use force and none of the at least eight other officers on the scene fired their weapons.  Even though McDonald’s death was ruled a homicide due to multiple gunshot wounds, initial police statements of the incident prompted police supervisors to rule the case a justifiable homicide and within the bounds of the department’s use of force guidelines.  The reports did not say how many times McDonald was shot and said McDonald was acting “crazed” and lunged at officers after refusing to drop his knife.  After the shooting a police union representative told reporters that Van Dyke had acted in self-defense after McDonald lunged at him and his partner.

On November 24, 2015, shortly after dashcam video of the incident was released to the public, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced that Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder and he turned himself in to authorities.  He was initially held without bail at Cook County Jail for six days.  On November 30, he was granted bail, set at $1,500,000. He posted $150,000—ten percent of the bail—and was released from jail.  On December 16, Van Dyke was indicted by a grand jury on six counts of first-degree murder and one count of official misconduct.  On December 29, 2015, Van Dyke pled not guilty to the charges.  If convicted of first-degree murder, Van Dyke faces a prison sentence of 20 years to life.

On June 27, 2017, three Chicago police officers were indicted for charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and official misconduct for allegedly attempting to cover up the events surrounding the shooting.

 

 

 

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Former Balch Springs, TX police officer Roy Oliver, 38, was found guilty of murder in the shooting of Jordan Edwards, an unarmed teen who was a passenger in a car that had left a party.  Oliver was fired by the Balch Springs Police Department just days after the shooting for violating several departmental policies.  A Texas jury sentenced Oliver to 15 years in prison and imposed a $10,000 fine for the murder of the 15-year-old honor student.  The jury found Oliver not guilty on two counts of aggravated assault.

During the trial Oliver claimed that he fired at the car after seeing it move toward his partner, Officer Tyler Gross, and thought Gross’s life was in danger.  Officer Gross testified that he did not fear for his life and didn’t feel the need to fire his own weapon.  Oliver faced up to life in prison on the murder conviction.  Prosecutors were pushing for at least 60 years in prison, while defense argued for 20 years or less.  Oliver’s mother and wife asked for a lenient prison sentence.  His wife, Ingrid Llerena, testified that she’s concerned about their 3-year-old son, who is autistic, and the boy’s future without his father at home.

In April 2017, the police were responding to a call about a house party when they encountered Jordan, his brothers and his friends in their car, attempting to leave. The officers first claimed that the boys were “backing down the street toward officers in an aggressive manner,” before later retracting that statement and acknowledging that the teens had been driving away.

Police body cam video shows Oliver fired his assault rifle into the car carrying the five teenagers as they drove away from the officer, hitting Jordan in the head.  One of the car’s passengers says the officer never even ordered the boys to stop driving before opening fire. Edwards, was shot in the head as he was sitting in the front passenger seat of the car, along with his two brothers and two friends.

Jordan’s father Odell, said that his son Vidal, continued driving away so that no one else would be shot.  He stopped the car two blocks from the party and called his father while his two friends in the back seat called their parents.  “All I could hear was screaming and crying and the boys saying that police had just shot and killed Jordan.   Jordan Edwards was a freshman at Mesquite High School and a straight A student with a 4.0 GPA who played quarterback and receiver on the football team.  He lived in an upper middle class neighborhood in Balch Springs with his parents, two older brothers and younger sister.

Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson described Oliver as a “killer in blue” who violated his oath to protect citizens. Johnson said she wished Oliver’s sentence was much longer, but she respected the jury’s decision and realizes a guilty verdict for an officer is rare in police shootings. Charmaine Edwards said she would have preferred a sentence of 25 to 30 years for the killer of the stepson she raised.  “That was my exact thought: They gave a year for his age,” Edwards, said outside a Dallas County courtroom after the sentence was handed down.  “He can actually see life again after 15 years, and that’s not enough because Jordan can’t see life again.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rossello raised the island’s official death toll from Hurricane Maria from 64 to 2,975, making the September 2017 storm one of the deadliest in U.S. history.  The announcement came following the release of an independent study ordered by the Rossello administration that found the number of people who succumbed in the months after the storm had been severely undercounted.

The new estimate of nearly 3,000 dead in the six months after Maria devastated the island and knocked out the entire electrical grid was made by researchers with the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University.  While Puerto Rico is now putting the death toll at 2,975, other studies show the actual death toll from Hurricane Maria may be considerably higher. In May, a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found the death toll to be at least 4,645—and perhaps as high as 5,740.

The George Washington researchers said the official count from the Sept. 20 hurricane was low in part because doctors were not trained in how to classify deaths after a disaster.  Researchers reported that physicians and others told them that Puerto Rico’s government did not notify them about federal guidelines on how to document deaths related to a major disaster.

The number of deaths from September 2017 to February 2018 was 22 percent higher than the same period in previous years.  Researchers said they counted deaths over the span of six months — a much longer period than usual — because so many people were without power during that time.  Their reasoning is that the loss of power for such an extended period of time and severe devastation forced people to exert themselves physically or were exposed to intense heat without fans or air conditioning.

There is no national standard for how to count disaster-related deaths. While the National Hurricane Center reports only direct deaths, such as those caused by flying debris or drowning, some local governments may include indirect deaths from such things as heart attacks and house fires.

Puerto Rico’s government released data in June showing increases in several illnesses in 2017 that could have been linked to the storm: Cases of sepsis, a serious bloodstream infection usually caused by bacteria, rose from 708 in 2016 to 835 last year. Deaths from diabetes went from 3,151 to 3,250, and deaths from heart illnesses increased from 5,417 to 5,586.

The study also found that government emergency plans in place when Maria hit were not designed for hurricanes greater than a Category 1. Maria was a Category 4 with 154 mph winds and the damage was estimated at more than $100 billion.  Researchers made several recommendations, including more emergency planning and government training for doctors on filling out death certificates.  They also said the public health system needs to be strengthened.  It remains to be seen whether Puerto Rico can adopt any of the recommendations since the island is trying to restructure a portion of its more than $70 billion public debt amid a 12-year recession.

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Violent protests erupted in Chicago after police officers shot and killed a 37-year-old African-American man on the South Side of Chicago. Harith Augustus was a well-known barber and the father of a 5-year-old daughter. Hundreds took to the streets to protest his killing.  Protesters and police clashed with protestors throwing rocks and bottles, some filled with urine at officers.  Four people were arrested, several officers were treated for minor injuries and two patrol cars were damaged.

The day after the protests, police released a 30 second clip with no sound of an officer’s body-cam footage.  Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said it was the quickest he had ever ordered such video released and that he hoped to dispel rumors Harith Augustus, 37, was unarmed.  He also said he hoped making the 30-second clip public would prevent another violent confrontation between residents and officers.  “The community needs some answers and they need them now, we can’t have another night like last night.”  Mr Johnson told reporters.  He said Mr Augustus’s family was in favor of releasing the video for the same reason.

The edited clip of body camera video shows at least three officers approaching Augustus as he is talking to another officer outside a store in the city’s South Shore neighborhood.  The first officer points at his waistband and Augustus backs away while reaching into his back pocket.  As Augustus pulls his wallet from his pocket, three officers try to grab his arms.  Augustus tries to get away, backing into a police cruiser as his shirt flies up, showing the gun.  The footage pauses and zooms in on the weapon, which police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said was done to ensure a semi-automatic handgun in its holster and two bullet magazines tucked into Mr Augustus’s waist could be seen clearly.

Augustus then runs into the street as a police SUV drives up. He spins away from the SUV and darts between the SUV and the police cruiser as he reaches towards his waist.  At that point, an officer opens fire, hitting Augustus multiple times.  Augustus did not fire his weapon and the footage does not show him pulling the gun out of its holster.  Police also released a 50-second, slow-motion clip showing Augustus reaching towards his waist. It was not clear if he was going for the weapon but it does appear he was grabbing for something at his waist.

Records show Augustus had a legal permit to carry a firearm and no recent arrest history. Augustus was known in the Grand Crossing neighborhood as “Snoop” — worked at a barbershop and had a five-year-old daughter.  A police spokesman said more videos will be released within 60 days but declined to say how many different angles exist or whether any of the officers’ cameras captured audio.

While the snippet of video released seems to have calmed some tensions, some pointed out that Augustus, a quiet man with only a few minor arrests from years ago, appeared to be trying to show the officers some sort of identification during the street stop, possible his firearm permit.  Experts on use of force have focused on how Augustus tried to evade arrest, twisting away from officers and fleeing into the street with his right hand hovering near his holstered gun.  The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, the city agency that investigates police-involved shootings, will try to determine if the officers followed policy and if any training issues need to be addressed.

 

 

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For the first time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a cannabis-based drug.  The drug, Epidiolex, has been approved to treat two types of epileptic syndromes. The drug’s approval comes as an increasing number of states have approved medicinal and recreational marijuana use.  Epidiolex was recommended for approval by an advisory committee in April, and the agency had until this week to make a decision.

The twice-daily oral solution is approved for use in patients 2 and older to treat two types of epileptic syndromes: Dravet syndrome, a rare genetic dysfunction of the brain that begins in the first year of life, and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a form of epilepsy with multiple types of seizures that begin in early childhood, usually between 3 and 5.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a statement “This is an important medical advance because of the adequate and well-controlled clinical studies that supported this approval, prescribers can have confidence in the drug’s uniform strength and consistent delivery.”

The drug is the “first pharmaceutical formulation of highly-purified, plant-based cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid lacking the high associated with marijuana, and the first in a new category of anti-epileptic drugs,” according to a statement from GW Pharmaceuticals, the UK-based biopharmaceutical company that makes Epidiolex.  Justin Gover, chief executive officer of GW Pharmaceuticals, described the approval in the statement as “a historic milestone.”

He added that the drug offers families “the first and only FDA-approved cannabidiol medicine to treat two severe, childhood-onset epilepsies.”  “These patients deserve and will soon have access to a cannabinoid medicine that has been thoroughly studied in clinical trials, manufactured to assure quality and consistency, and available by prescription under a physician’s care,” Gover said.  He said Epidiolex will become available in the fall would not give any information on cost, saying only that it will be discussed with insurance companies and announced later.

Cannabidiol is one of more than 80 active cannabinoid chemicals, yet unlike tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, it does not produce a high.  The FDA has approved synthetic versions of some cannabinoid chemicals found in the marijuana plant for other purposes, including cancer pain relief.

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, up to one-third of Americans who have epilepsy have found no therapies that will control their seizures.  With this approval, Epidiolex could be a new option for those patients who have not responded to other treatments to control seizures.

 

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Amazon’s Echo devices are garnering scrutiny over potential eavesdropping after a family in Portland, Oregon had their private conversation recorded by their Amazon Echo device and sent to someone in their contact list.  They learned of the invasion of privacy when they received a nightmarish phone call two weeks ago.  “Unplug your Alexa devices right now,” a voice on the other line said. “You’re being hacked.”  The caller, an employee of the husband, had received audio files of their conversations.

The Portland family had an Echo smart home speaker in every room of their house to help control their heat, lights and security system.  The woman, who identified herself only by her first name, Danielle said “My husband and I would joke and say, ‘I’d bet these devices are listening to what we’re saying.”  She added that the device did not tell her that it would be sending the recorded conversations.

Danielle said they unplugged all the devices, contacted Amazon and spoke to an Alexa engineer, who apologized multiple times.  Although Amazon offered to “de-provision” the devices of their communications features so they could keep using them to control their home, Danielle and her family reportedly want a refund instead.  Though the conversation was a mundane one – they were talking about hardwood floors, the couple said they will never plug the devices in again.

Amazon’s full statement on the issue seems to show Alexa, the company’s virtual personal assistant powered by artificial intelligence, was trying a little too hard.  Their statement explained: Echo woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like “Alexa.” Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a “send message” request. At which point, Alexa said out loud “To whom?” At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customers contact list. Alexa then asked out loud, “[contact name], right?” Alexa then interpreted background conversation as “right.” As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely.

Other smart home speakers carry similar risks that privacy advocates have been warning about as the popularity of these types of devices grows.  Daniel Kahn Gillmor, a staff technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, said that the intuitive nature of connected devices can mask their complexity and the possibility of malfunction. “The Amazon Echo, despite being small, is a computer — it’s a computer with microphones, speakers, and it’s connected to the network,” he said. “These are potential surveillance devices, and we have invited them further and further into our lives without examining how that could go wrong. And I think we are starting to see examples of that.”

Last year, a North Carolina man said the same thing had happened to him.  His Echo device recorded 20 seconds of his conversation and sent it to his insurance agent without his knowledge.  Google had to release a patch last year for its Home Mini speakers after some of them were found to be recording everything.  While “home assistants” such as the Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod have been big sellers in the past few years, they’ve brought with them many concerns over privacy.  These recorded-conversation incidents show what can happen when people welcome devices into their home that are always listening.

 

 

 

 

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NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance but gives them the option to remain in the locker room without penalty if they prefer.   The vote was made by team owners without involvement from the NFL Players Association.  The policy subjects teams to a fine if a player or any other team personnel do not show respect for the anthem. That includes any attempt to sit or kneel, as dozens of players have done during the past two seasons to protest racial inequality and police brutality. Those teams also will have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction.

The previous policy required players to be on the field for the anthem but only that they “should” stand. When former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling in 2016 as a protest against racial injustice in the United States, the league had no rule it could use to prevent it.  The movement grew with other players kneeling and drew increasing criticism with many who believed it was a sign of disrespect toward the flag and country.  As the movement grew, the negative responses included suggestions that players who protest should be fired.

Others displayed their disapproval of players’ protests by leaving the stadium immediately after the protests or refusing to watch games at all.  Owners had been divided on how to extricate the league from criticism. Some owners, including the Dallas Cowboys’ Jerry Jones and the Houston Texans’ Bob McNair, wanted all players to stand. Others, such as the New York Jets’ Christopher Johnson, wanted to avoid any appearance of muzzling players.  Some suggested clearing the field prior to the anthem but the idea was rejected by some owners who thought it would be interpreted as a mass protest or a sign of disrespect.

After spending months in discussions, and another three hours over two days at the leagues spring meetings, owners said they found a compromise that will end sitting or kneeling with an edict that stops short of requiring every player to stand.  In a statement accompanying the announcement, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league wanted to eliminate criticism that suggested the protests were unpatriotic.  “It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic,” Goodell said. “This is not and was never the case.”

Goodell added “All 32 clubs want to make sure that during the moment of the anthem and the flag,that that is a very important moment to all of us, as a league, as clubs, personally and to our country, and that’s a moment that we want to make sure is done in a very respectful fashion. And that, that was something that was very strongly held in the room.”

As for the man who started the movement, on March 3, 2017, Kaepernick officially opted out of his contract with the 49ers, becoming a free agent at the start of the 2017 league year.  Kaepernick went unsigned through the offseason and 2017 training camps, leading to allegations that he was being blackballed because of his on-field political actions as opposed to his performance.  Many players, including New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback and former teammate Alex Smith, have stated that they believe his sporting ability is competitive in the NFL and they are incredulous of his prolonged unemployment.  Kaepernick and former 49ers safety Eric Reid have both filed collusion cases against the league after failing to find jobs as free agents.

 

 

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Eight members of the Milwaukee Police Department have been disciplined in connection with the arrest of the NBA player Sterling Brown, who in January was subdued with a stun gun over a parking violation.  The Milwaukee Police Department has apologized to Brown, after a newly released police body cam video showed Brown’s violent arrest on January 26. Brown, a 22-year-old rookie player on the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team, was assaulted and arrested shortly after exiting a Walgreens store for parking in a disabled space.  The charges against him were later dropped

Footage of the arrest, was captured using a body camera worn by one of the officers, confirms that Brown was not “combative”—as police initially claimed.  However, it does show Brown being confronted by an officer for the parking violation.  The officer tells him to step back and keep his hands out of his pockets just before a group of officers tackled him to the ground and electrocuted him with a Taser.   Brown did not struggle with officers when tackled, tased or handcuffed.  In the video, Brown is shown surprisingly calm and never even raising his voice while standing with his hands cuffed behind his back as an officer says to him “Sorry I don’t follow the Bucks, I didn’t recognize you.  I didn’t recognize your famous name.”   Brown responds, “It isn’t famous, it’s legit.”  The officer then replies “I wanted to talk to you about it” and Brown responds “ You could’ve talked, you didn’t have to touch.”

Brown has since said he plans to file a lawsuit, writing in a statement, “What should have been a simple parking ticket turned into an attempt at police intimidation, followed by unlawful use of physical force, including being handcuffed and tazed and then unlawfully booked.  This experience with the Milwaukee Police Department has forced me to stand up and tell my story so that I can help prevent these injustices from happening in the future.”

He told “Good Morning America” that he aimed to hold “the officers accountable, hold future officers accountable.”  Brown said that his hands were behind his back at the time the stun gun was used and described becoming mad every time he watched the footage.  “I was defenseless, pretty much,” he said.  “This happens from coast to coast, you know, it’s something that’s being shown more now that technology has advanced,” he said. “It’s something that’s been happening for years, and people’s stories have not been told, and people’s stories have not been heard. And I feel like, you know, me doing this, it helps a lot.”

Speaking shortly after the release of the body cam footage, Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales said he was sorry the incident “escalated to this level”, declaring certain officers had “acted inappropriately” and had been disciplined. Three officers recieved unpaid suspensions, including a 15-day suspension for a police sergeant who has served for more than 11 years. Another sergeant, with 12 years of service, received a 10-day suspension. An officer with two and a half years on the force received a two-day suspension. Those officers and five others will receive policy review instruction and remedial training in professional communications.