We’re no better than Ferguson; maybe worse


Seattle Times staff columnist

Mayor Ed Murray says “Seattle is not Ferguson.” In countless ways I’m sure he’s right, except for this very important one: It’s just as unlikely for cops to get charged for bad deeds here as it is in supposedly backward Missouri.

In fact we’re arguably worse than Ferguson.

No offense to the thousands of protesters marching on behalf of Michael Brown. But what has stood out to me is how the Ferguson case isn’t nearly as flagrant as recent police-brutality cases here in progressive Puget Sound.

In Ferguson, the police officer, Darren Wilson, had a good case to make that he was under some level of assault. If it’s true that Brown slugged the officer through the squad-car door and tried to wrestle away his gun — as the officer and some witnesses attest — then getting even a low-level manslaughter charge to stick against the officer would be next to impossible.

The Ferguson case is supercharged by that region’s racial history. But still — compare the facts of it to what happened in Seattle to John T. Williams in 2010. Ferguson isn’t on the same radar screen of outrageousness.

Unlike Brown, Williams didn’t assault anyone or do anything hostile, beyond toting his carving knife with a wood block and maybe looking menacingly in a police officer’s direction. The officer, Ian Birk, told him to drop the knife. When Williams didn’t — perhaps because he couldn’t hear — Birk shot five times and killed him.

Even the police department called that “egregious.” Yet no charges were filed. Our outgoing U.S. attorney, Jenny Durkan, this week compared that case to Ferguson in an article she wrote for The Washington Post, headlined: “As a federal prosecutor I know how hard it is to charge officers like Darren Wilson.”

An officer has to have malice or willfully bad intent to be convicted, she wrote. It’s an incredibly high bar. “Accident, mistake, fear, negligence or bad judgment is not sufficient,” Durkan wrote when declining to charge Birk.

You can see why the chances of Darren Wilson getting convicted by the state or the feds in Ferguson would be near zero.

We’ve had other baffling cases, such as Christopher Harris, a completely innocent man who mistakenly ran from police in Belltown in 2009 and then was shoved into a wall so hard it paralyzed him for life. The officer who did that not only wasn’t charged, but remained on the force.

But one case here was so extreme that prosecutors took the rare step of charging the officer. Troy Meade, of the Everett police, had shot an aggressive drunken driver, Niles Meservey, seven times from behind, killing him. The officer’s conduct was so questionable that a fellow officer did something unheard of: He crossed the blue line to testify against his mate, claiming the force Meade used was both excessive and vindictive.

Yet Meade was acquitted of second-degree murder by a jury in 2011. The officer argued the car was about to back up and hit him, and because the law puts such a premium on this state of mind defense, he walked.

My point isn’t to bash our local cops. These were isolated cases and don’t reflect on other officers.

But the narrative that’s developed out of Ferguson is that the officer there wasn’t charged because the system is inherently racist. Parts of it may be, but more so it’s just incredibly pro-cop. It lets them walk pretty much no matter what.

Durkan writes it’s this way for a legitimate reason: “We want police to be able to make split second decisions necessary to protect us.” That is crucial.

But in the Williams shooting in particular, it tilted too far. If there was nothing wrong legally with what happened to him, then it’s hard to imagine anything with the police ever being legally wrong.

Ferguson is bringing up an important debate about racial inequality.

But the case is too murky to support a national movement on police accountability.

We’ve had much starker ones right here. Seattle may be more Ferguson than Ferguson.

Danny Westneat’s column appears Wednesday and Sunday. Reach him at 206-464-2086 or dwestneat@seattletimes.com

Mall cop ignores racist harassing Seattle protesters and pepper sprays black bystander instead


By David Edwards
Thursday, August 14, 2014 8:53 EDT

An African-American Seattle man who happened to be walking by a pro-Palestinian protest said that he is still confused as to why a security guard would have pepper sprayed him instead of a white man who was harassing demonstrators and yelling racial slurs.

Freelance photographer Alex Garland, who photographed and videotaped the incident, told The Stranger that a white shirtless man had been trying to start fights with activists at a pro-Palestinian rally on Saturday.

Garland said that the man had been shouting epithets like “towelhead” and “sand n*gger.”

As 26-year-old Raymond Wilford was walking to a friend’s house, the shirtless man apparently confused him for a protester.

“I was trying to avoid him because I heard him say a bunch of racial stuff,” Wilford told The Stranger.

In photos taken by Garland, the two men can be seen squaring off in a fighting stance, but Wilford said he never actually threw a punch.

That’s when a Westlake Center security guard arrived on the scene.

“The security guard was like, ‘Stop,’” Wilford recalled. “The white guy was still yelling and walking towards the security guard. I was like, ‘Why are you pointing your mace at me? He’s the one being aggressive.’ And then he pepper-sprayed me.”

Photos show the security guard walking past the shirtless white man to pepper spray Wilford, who is black.

“The guy that was the aggressor was closer to the security guard,” Garland said, according to MyNorthwest.com. “The other individual, the person of color, was further away but he was the one who got pepper sprayed.”

Video taken by Garland shows protesters pleading with the security guard, saying, “You Maced the wrong guy.” A Seattle police officer arrived on the scene, and the security guard took Wilford away to be detained. Meanwhile, the photos show the shirtless man casually walking away.

The security guard later told Seattle officers that Wilford “took an aggressive step towards him” so he was forced to deploy his pepper spray, a police reported indicated.

Valor Security Services, which employs the security guard, told KING that the guard gave multiple warnings.

“Please know these actions are never done without warning and careful consideration,” Valor spokesperson Scott Born insisted in a statement. “It is always our goal to try to resolve all situations as peacefully as possible.”

Valor declined to tell KING if the guard was still working for the company. The Seattle Police Department was investigating the incident.

For his part, Wilford said that he would like to speak with management at Westlake, and he has not ruled out legal action.

“I’ve been treated like that all my life, so it kinda brushes off,” Wilford explained to The Stranger. “I’m from the South, I’m from New Orleans. I’ve seen the worst of it.”

“People here seem to be more secretive about their not liking black people, or their racism,” he added. “I’m so used to it I don’t know what’s wrong and what’s right half the time.”

Watch the video below from KING, broadcast Aug. 12, 2014.

CBO ~~~ Nov. 2014


 

cbologo

H.R. 5233, Trade Secrets Protection Act of 2014

 

 

 

CBO’s Role in the Legislative Process

 

S. 1419, Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Act of 2014

 

 

 

H.R. 1241, an act to facilitate a land exchange involving certain National Forest System lands in the Inyo National Forest, and for other purposes

 

 

 

S. 2588, Cyber Information Sharing Act of 2014

 

 

 

S. 2646, Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act

 

 

S. 1618, Enhanced Security Clearance Act of 2014

 

 

 

Monthly Budget Review: Summary for Fiscal Year 2014

 

 

Implications of Differential Mortality for Analyses of Social Security Policy Options

 

 

 

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Satao’s 100lb tusks were hacked from his face with a machete !


 

African elephants could go extinct by 2030, but in days, a body in charge of protecting endangered species could slap sanctions on Thailand, the key blood ivory market. Let’s race to put key representatives on the spot to save the elephants — add your voice now:

SIGN THE PETITION

Poachers just shot one of the world’s largest elephants, Satao, then hacked his 100 pound tusks out of his face with a machete. At the current rate of killing, elephants may be extinct in 15 years, but this week if we act now we have an amazing chance to crack down on the illegal trade that fuels the slaughter.

Each day, 50 regal elephants are butchered just to make dinky ivory trinkets! The main culprit for this carnage is Thailand — the fastest growing market for unregulated ivory. And tomorrow the international body created to protect endangered species has a chance to sanction Thailand until it cracks down on the elephant killers. Experts fear Thai leaders are mounting a propaganda campaign to dodge penalties, but it just takes the US and Europe to ignore their noise and spearhead action to end the slaughter.

Let’s give the US, and key European delegates, the global call they need to tune out Thailand and bravely lead the world to save the elephants. A final decision could be made tomorrow, so we have no time to lose — sign the petition, then send a message to the US Fish and Wildlife Service:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/hours_to_save_elephants_usa/?biEWLbb&v=42046

20,000 African elephants are killed every year, and the number of ivory products on sale in Bangkok trebled in the last 18 months. Government representatives to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) have the responsibility to keep the world’s rarest plants and animals alive, and when sanctions were applied to Thailand twenty years ago, it forced the country to pass critical wildlife protection laws.

Thailand says it’s hard to distinguish legal ivory from Thai elephants from smuggled African ivory, and that it has adopted an action plan to stop the ivory trade. But 20 years of delays and a recent military coup tell a different story. If we reach out to the ministers who set the position, we can get CITES to prevent Thailand exporting items like aquarium fish and exotic flowers until it cracks down on illegal ivory.

Right now CITES representatives are considering whether to sanction Thailand for its failure to stem the ivory trade. Let’s make a call directly to key delegates and the Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure they make the right decision. Add your voice, then share widely:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/hours_to_save_elephants_usa/?biEWLbb&v=42046

Last year, the Avaaz community helped force Thailand to agree to ban the domestic ivory trade. But Thailand’s new military government has done little to show it will fulfil this promise or restrict this bloody business. Let’s show the strength of our community by issuing an enormous call to protect the lives of one of the world’s most precious species.

With hope,

Alex, Danny, Alice, Nick, Lisa, Emma and the rest of the Avaaz team

MORE INFORMATION:

World famous elephant ‘Satao’ killed by poachers in Kenya (Forbes)
http://www.forbes.com/sites/mfonobongnsehe/2014/06/15/world-famous-elephant-satao-killed-by-poachers-in-kenya/

The ivory highway (Men’s Journal)
http://www.mensjournal.com/magazine/print-view/the-ivory-highway-20140213

Legal reform must shut down Thailand’s ivory trade (WWF)
http://wwf.panda.org/?209665/Legal-reform-must-shut-down-Thailands-ivory-trade

Elephant population too small to supply huge local ivory market (Bangkok Post)
http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/418534/thai-elephant-population-too-small-to-supply-huge-local-ivory-market

Major increase in Thai ivory market shows need for action at wildlife trade meeting (World Wildlife Fund)
http://wwf.panda.org/wwf_news/?224690/Major-increase-in-Thai-ivory-market-shows-need-for-action-at-wildlife-trade-meeting

Stand with Peggy


NWLCbanner No one should ever have to choose between her job and the health of her pregnancy.Unfortunately, that’s exactly what many women find themselves facing. When employers refuse to accommodate pregnant workers with medical needs, women can end up without a paycheck at the moment they need it most.Stand with pregnant workers.When Peggy Young, a delivery driver for UPS, found out she was pregnant, her doctor recommended that she avoid lifting more than 20 pounds. But UPS refused her request for “light duty” — even though the company provided accommodations to people with disabilities or on-the-job injuries, and even though it gave breaks to delivery drivers who had lost their drivers’ licenses as a result of DUI convictions.

Peggy was pushed onto unpaid leave for the duration of her pregnancy, and lost her UPS-provided health benefits.

Stand with Peggy Young and Pregnant WorkersSend a message of support to Peggy Young — because no woman should have to choose between her job and her pregnancy.Take Action

In a few weeks the Supreme Court will hear Peggy Young’s case, Young v. UPS, to decide whether UPS violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act by refusing to offer her the same accommodations it made available to non-pregnant workers with similar limitations.

How the court rules in Young v. UPS will impact working women across the country. And because many families rely on mothers’ earnings, when pregnant women are forced off the job and lose their paychecks and health care, their families suffer as well.

Send your message of support for Peggy Young and all pregnant workers today. We’ll collect your messages and present them to Peggy Young on the day of the Supreme Court hearing, Dec. 3.

Thank you for all you do for women and their families.

Sincerely,
Emily J. Martin
Vice President and General Counsel
National Women’s Law Center