August 18th, 2017
Two psychologists who helped design the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation program settled a lawsuit Thursday by detainees alleging they were illegally tortured.
The secret settlement in the suit, brought on behalf of two living ex-detainees and one who died of hypothermia after brutal questioning in US custody, avoided what would have been the first public trial of the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of torture on suspected Al-Qaeda members.
But it also allowed the two psychologists who supplied the CIA with “coercive” interrogation techniques, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, to maintain that they personally had nothing to do with the use of waterboarding, extreme stress positions and beatings on detainees.
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It’s been three years since Brown, a recent high school graduate, was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson from the Ferguson Police Department. Wilson was placed on paid administrative leave as hundreds of residents of the predominantly black suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, took to the streets. The following day, protests and vigils turned violent overnight with reports of riots and looting.
Within days, the FBI opened a civil rights investigation into the Brown shooting. On November 24, 2014, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch waited until 8pm local time to announce that a grand jury declined to indict Wilson on any charges relating to the shooting death of Brown. Then-Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the US Department of Justice would continue its investigation into Brown’s death, despite the lack of an indictment on the local level.
Ferguson again erupted into a night of fierce riots.
By the end of the month, Wilson resigned from the Ferguson PD. In early March, the DOJ announced it would not prosecute Wilson for civil rights violations in the Brown shooting case. In mid-April, Brown’s family filed a lawsuit against Wilson, the city of Ferguson, and chief of the Ferguson PD at the time of the shooting.
It’s not unusual for officers involved in shooting civilians to avoid charges. A 2016 study found that law enforcement avoided federal civil rights charges in 96 percent of cases in which they were accused of violating someone’s civil rights over the course of 20 years. Many police killings are ruled as justified without public knowledge.
Instead, victims’ families find justice through the civil side of the judicial branch, by accepting payouts in settlements with local jurisdictions. In June, Brown’s parents settled their wrongful death suit against the city, though the terms were not made public because it could jeopardize the safety of those involved in the matter “whether as witnesses, parties or investigators,” US District Judge E. Richard Webber wrote.
While the amount that Brown’s parents received has been sealed, Ferguson is one of many jurisdictions around the country forced to shell out millions in taxpayer money to atone for police brutality. In the last year, big cities and small towns have settled lawsuits for officer-involved shootings. In most cases, those payments are the only closure the victims and their families have received.
In June, the family of Philando Castile, a school cafeteria worker fatally shot by Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez, reached a $3 million settlement with the city of St. Anthony.
Castile was shot and killed during a traffic stop last July while his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds and her four-year-old daughter were in the car. Yanez was acquitted of manslaughter and intentional discharge of a firearm that endangers safety earlier in the month.
In mid-July, Yanez was awarded a $48,500 payout to leave the St. Anthony Police Department, in addition to “up to 600 hours” of accrued personal leave.
Although a settlement was already reached last April in the fatal Tamir Rice shooting ‒ to the tune of $6 million dollars for the 12-year-old’s family ‒ one of the two officers responsible for the preteen’s death was fired at the end of May, but not because of Rice’s death on a Cleveland, Ohio, playground.
Instead, Timothy Loehmann was dismissed from the department because he omitted from his employment application that he was allowed to resign from the nearby Independence Police Department, where officials found him to be emotionally unstable and unfit to be an officer. He also concealed that he had failed a written exam for another Ohio law enforcement agency. A grand jury declined to indict Loehmann in December 2015.
Earlier in May, only one officer-involved shooting that made national headlines found justice through the judicial system ‒ but only after a mistrial. In December, jurors in Charleston, South Carolina, could not reach a unanimous verdict as to whether former officer Michael Slager, who is white, should be convicted of murder or voluntary manslaughter for fatally shooting African-American Walter Scott in the back.
On May 2, Slager pleaded guilty to violating Scott’s federal civil rights in the incident, which was caught on video. As part of the agreement, South Carolina prosecutors agreed not to retry the former cop. He faces up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine at sentencing.
David Joseph was a black teen shot and killed by a police officer in early February 2016, albeit a African-American one. Officer Geoffrey Freeman fired twice at a nude, unarmed Joseph, 17, in response to calls that a man was harassing residents in a North Austin, Texas neighborhood.
The Austin Police Department found Freeman’s use of force unjustified and fired him. This February, the city council approved a $3.25 million settlement with Joseph’s family ‒ the largest such payout in Austin’s history.
A month before the Joseph settlement, the city of Los Angeles, California, agreed to pay $1.5 million to the family of Ezell Ford, an unarmed black man who was gunned down by police in August 2014, just days before Brown’s death made national headlines.
Ford’s family filed a wrongful death and civil rights lawsuit in March 2015, claiming that Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas “intentionally and/or negligently fatally shot unarmed decedent Ezell Ford multiple times with their firearm” after he had followed their directions to lie on the ground during an encounter in South Los Angeles. Prosecutors concluded the officers “acted lawfully in self-defense and in defense of others,” and declined to indict them.
In January, the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, reached a $4.4 million settlement with Philippe Holland, a black delivery man whom two police officers mistakenly shot 14 times in 2014, leaving him with permanent injuries and a seizure disorder.
It was the city’s second largest payment for an officer-involved shooting. Philadelphia prosecutors never filed charges against the two officers, who were placed on desk duty after the shooting.
A week after the second anniversary of Brown’s death, New York City agreed to pay $4.1 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Akai Gurley, an unarmed African-American fatally shot in 2014 by a police officer in a Brooklyn housing complex.
Former officer Peter Liang was convicted by a jury of second-degree manslaughter in February 2016, but the judge reduced his conviction to criminally negligent homicide, sentencing him to five years of probation and 800 hours of community service.
The settlement also includes an additional $400,000 from the New York City Housing Authority, and $25,000 from Liang. The money will be placed in a trust fund for Gurley’s young daughter, which cannot be accessed without court approval until she turns 18.
A Palestinian researcher on settlement affairs has warned that the Israeli government has succeeded in convincing some Arab and regional forces to adopt its claims regarding settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.
Suhail Khaliliya told Quds Press that the greatest danger today is represented in the positions taken by some European and Arab countries which have adopted the Israeli view that settlements are not an obstacle to peace. All of Israel’s settlements are illegal under international law.
According to the researcher, international political changes and the positions taken on settlements encourage the Israelis to continue to build and expand them. This comes at a time when the Israeli government pays no heed to international laws and conventions which stress the illegality of any country moving its own population onto territory acquired by war in order to change the demography. Israeli settlements are built all over the West Bank and East Jerusalem occupied since June 1967.
Israel, insists Khaliliya, tries to circumvent the will of the international community by claiming that it does not establish new settlements, but merely expands existing blocs as the population grows. The Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics revealed in a report on Monday that the number of settlement units constructed in the occupied West Bank has increased by 70 per cent over the past year.
On 23 December last year, the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for the immediate and complete cessation of settlement activities in the Palestinian territories. The Israeli has ignored this resolution, as it has ignored dozens of others, and continues to build its colony-settlements.
The mother of Philando Castile, a black motorist killed by a Minnesota police officer last year, on Monday announced she has agreed to a nearly $3 million settlement with the Minneapolis suburb that employed the officer. Valerie Castile’s settlement with the city of St. Anthony will avert a federal wrongful death lawsuit.
Castile, a 32-year-old school cafeteria worker, was shot five times by Officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop on July 6 last year. Yanez shot Castile seconds after Castile informed him that he was carrying a gun. A jury acquitted Yanez of manslaughter earlier this month, but St. Anthony has announced plans to fire him.
The settlement is among several other million-dollar-plus payouts in recent years in cases of killings by police. Among them:
MICHAEL BROWN: The St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, agreed to a $1.5 million settlement with the parents of Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year-old fatally shot by white Ferguson officer Darren Wilson in 2014.
WALTER SCOTT: North Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015 paid $6.5 million to the family of Scott, an unarmed, black man who was killed by white police officer Michael T. Slager as Scott ran following a traffic stop. Slager pleaded guilty last month to a civil rights violation.
FREDDIE GRAY: Baltimore reached a $6.4 million settlement in 2015 with the parents of Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered a critical spinal injury in the back of a transport van after his arrest and died a week later.
ERIC GARNER: New York City reached a $5.9 million settlement in 2015 with the family of Garner, an unarmed, black man who died after being put in a white police officer’s chokehold.
DANROY HENRY JR.: Pleasantville, New York, in 2016 paid $6 million to the family of Henry, a 20-year-old black college student shot to death by a white officer in 2010.
RICARDO DIAZ-ZEFERINO: The families of Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino and two other men agreed to accept $4.7 million from the city of Gardena, California. Diaz-Zeferino’s death in June 2013 occurred after the three were mistaken for robbery suspects and three officers opened fire. Diaz-Zeferino’s family received $2.8 million. Eutiquio Acevedo Mendez, who was wounded, received $1.7 million. The third man, who was unharmed, received $200,000. Diaz-Zeferino was Latino.
TAMIR RICE: Cleveland agreed in 2016 to pay $6 million to Tamir’s family. The 12-year-old boy had an airsoft gun that shoots nonlethal plastic pellets when a white officer shot him in 2014.
TONY ROBINSON JR.: Madison, Wisconsin, this year agreed to pay $3.35 million to relatives of Robinson, 19, who was black and unarmed when he was fatally shot after allegedly punching an officer. An attorney for Robinson’s family said three of the seven shots were fired from several feet away, contradicting the account that the officer was being attacked.
DONTRE HAMILTON: Milwaukee this year reached a $2.3 million tentative settlement with the family of Hamilton, a 31-year-old black man with schizophrenia who was shot 14 times by a white police officer responding to a complaint of a man sleeping in a downtown park in April 2014.
JONATHAN FERRELL: His family agreed to a $2.25 million settlement with the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, after a white police officer fatally shot the unarmed, black man in September 2013.
JORGE AZUCENA: The mother of Azucena received a $1.35 million settlement from Los Angeles in 2015. Azucena, 26, died of an asthma attack about 40 minutes after he was taken into custody for running a red light in September 2013.
LaTANYA HAGGERTY: Chicago settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Haggerty’s family in 2001 for $18 million. Haggerty, who was black, was shot to death by an officer when she was a passenger in a car that was chased by police in June 1999. The officer, who is black, said she mistook a shiny object in Haggerty’s hand for a weapon.
For the full story visit : http://www.twincities.com/2017/06/26/how-does-3-million-compare-to-other-police-shooting-settlements/
More than one hundred sports associations, trade unions, human rights organizations and faith based groups, representing millions of people from 28 countries across the globe, on Wednesday joined football champions, scholars, film directors, politicians and government officials in calling on FIFA’s Council members to insist that Israel’s national football league revoke the affiliation of seven clubs based in illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory, or face suspension from FIFA.
Signatories delivered their letter to FIFA Council members ahead of FIFA’s upcoming 67th Congress on May 10-11, 2017. They include former UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk, former Brazilian Minister for Human Rights Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, South African Communist Party Central Committee Member and Minister of Sports & Recreation Thulas Nxesi (signed in his personal capacity), renowned British filmmakers Ken Loach and Paul Laverty, former Peruvian football champion Juan Carlos Oblitas Saba and former athlete and President of Peru’s Congress Daniel Fernando Abugattás Majluf, and the Brazilian trade union CUT with over 7.4 million members.
The letter criticizes FIFA for repeated delays and selective enforcement of its own rules, which prohibit any member federation from holding matches on the territory of another without the latter’s approval. The Israeli national league is clearly violating FIFA’s own rules by holding matches in occupied Palestinian Territory, against the wishes of the Palestinian federation.
Juan Carlos Oblitas Saba, the Athletic Director of the Peruvian Football Federation and a retired football champion who represented Peru dozens of times on the international stage, said, “FIFA’s position concerning human rights should be as transparent as possible, and no country can be above the United Nations’ rulings on the [Israeli] settlements invading the Palestinian Territories. I have dedicated my entire life to football, I have never intervened in politics, but this goes beyond the pale, especially with respect to the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people.”
At a recent event in Johannesburg, South African Parliamentarian and member of the South African Parliament Football Club, P.J. Mguni said: “Apartheid Israel must be banned from FIFA international events and isolated because sports boycott against inhumane and unfair sports could go a long way to restoring peace and dignity in that region especially for the Palestinian people…our fellow South Africans must understand that the international community constituted a great part of our support systems in terms of the international isolation of apartheid South Africa back before 1994. In the same manner oppressed people anywhere are part of us, so as South Africans from all corners we must really support people who are still struggling for emancipation like the Palestinians are doing under the notorious Israel apartheid state.”
Hind Awwad from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel said, “Israel is using ‘the beautiful game’ to whitewash its violations of international law and human rights, and FIFA is shamefully standing by allowing this to happen, damaging its own reputation. FIFA must realize that Palestinian and international human rights defenders will not abandon their legitimate demand for FIFA to ultimately suspend the Israeli Football Association due to its inclusion of Israeli settlements clubs based on stolen Palestinian land, and to Israel’s routine targeting of Palestinian sports, deliberate destruction of football stadiums and arrest, torture and restriction of movement of Palestinian athletes.”
Dr Geoff Lee from Red Card Israeli Racism (UK), said, “Getting rid of racism in football will help eliminate the tragically high level of racism practiced by the Israeli state. Israeli laws, military actions and bureaucratic obstacles repress Palestinian football as well as the whole Palestinian community. Sanctions are needed to generate change. We demand FIFA sanctions Israel by suspending the Israeli Football Association from FIFA and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), until Israel observes international law and respects the human rights of Palestinians.”
The letter’s signatories include the Italian Union of Sport for All (UISP), with 1.3 million members and more than 17,750 affiliated sports associations, Sport Against Violence in Iraq, organizers of the Baghdad Marathon, the Brazilian Landless Workers’ Movement representing over 1.5 million people in one of the largest social movements in Latin America, the UK charity War on Want and NGO platforms from France (40 organizations) and Norway (30 organizations).
The letter was endorsed by a number of faith based groups, including Pax Christi UK, Friends of Sabeel UK and North America, American Friends Service Committee, Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land, United Church of Christ Palestine Israel Network, United Methodists for Kairos Response (UMKR), Episcopal Peace Fellowship Palestine Israel Network and Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East.
A number of Jewish groups have endorsed the letter, including Jewish Voice for Peace, with over 60 chapters in the United States, South African Jews for a Free Palestine, the Union of French Jews for Peace, Jews for Justice for Palestinians-UK, Sweden’s Jews for a Just Peace between Israel and Palestine and the Swiss-based Jewish Voice for Democracy and Justice in Israel/Palestine.
Tokyo Sexwale, chair of the FIFA Israel Palestine Monitoring committee set up in 2015 to resolve issues affecting the development of football in Palestine, presented a draft report on March 22, 2017. This report proposed three different ways for FIFA to resolve the issue of Israeli settlement clubs: by maintaining the status quo and risking legal action, by calling for renewed negotiations between the Israeli and Palestinian national football leagues, or by giving the Israel Football Association six months “to rectify the situation.”