Boston Globe: Lowell bank to repay borrowers in discrimination settlement

Lowell bank to repay borrowers in discrimination settlement: “Sage Bank, a small community bank in Lowell, will spend $1.2 million to settle allegations by the US Department of Justice that it charged African-American and Hispanic borrowers more for their home loans than their white counterparts.

The bank denied any wrong-doing and said it did not intentionally discriminate against minority borrowers. It is changing its pricing policy.
African-American borrowers on average paid about $2,450 more and Hispanic borrowers $1,440 more than whites under the bank’s pricing structure, which was in place between 2011 to 2014, according to the civil complaint and consent agreement filed Monday in US District Court in Boston.

‘Sage Bank’s loan pricing policies created the risk that borrowers would be treated differently based on impermissible characteristics like race and national origin, and that was in fact the result,’ said Vanita Gupta, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, in a statement.

The bank paid loan officers more money for generating loans from borrowers who didn’t have a continuous work history or readily available tax returns, under the belief that these loans required more work, said Peter Conrad, the president of Sage Bank. Many of these borrowers were African-American and Hispanic, Conrad said.

That cost was passed on to these minority borrowers, and was not unusual among mortgage lenders, he said.

The bank will refund more than 500 borrowers affected by the policy, under the agreement. Sage has less than $200 million in assets.”

NYT: Corey Jones, Black Drummer Killed by Police in Florida, Had Gun

The musician, Corey Jones, 31, was shot by a plainclothes officer who had been on the job for six months, Chief Stephen J. Stepp said. Mr. Jones’s handgun was recovered on the ground outside his car; the new box it came in was inside, the chief said.

In a brief news conference Tuesday night, Chief Stepp addressed the swelling questions about how a respected church drummer and housing inspector wound up dead in the middle of the night off Interstate 95, a half-hour from his home. The case, another focused on the shooting of a black man by a police officer, had begun to gain attention on social media, and the department was sharply criticized by a county police union official for not coming forward with facts sooner.

The investigation into the shooting is being conducted by the Palm Beach County sheriff’s office, a different agency, so the chief stressed that his knowledge of the shooting was limited. He offered his condolences to Mr. Jones’s family and said the department had tried to meet with them.

“No matter what the circumstances turn out to be, his is a tragic loss of life that affects us all,” Chief Stepp said.

Mr. Jones was on his way to his home in Lake Worth from playing with his band, Future Prezidents, when his car broke down, his family told the WPBF television station.

About 3:15 a.m., at the southbound exit near PGA Boulevard, Officer Nouman K. Raja stopped to investigate what he thought was an abandoned vehicle on the darkened ramp. The chief said that as Officer Raja stepped out of his vehicle, “he was suddenly confronted by an armed subject.”

He did not say whether Officer Raja identified himself as a police officer. It is not clear whether the two men exchanged words or if Mr. Jones pointed his weapon.

Calling the encounter a “confrontation,” the chief said the officer “discharged his firearm, resulting in the death of Mr. Corey Jones.” He did not say what prompted the officer to fire.

He did not clarify whether Mr. Jones had a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

The chief said the officer’s unmarked vehicle was not equipped with a dashboard camera, and the department does not use body cameras. He said the sheriff’s office asked him not to release public records such as radio transmissions and 911 calls….Read the rest of the article at New York Times

The South Florida Sun Sentinel (10/20, 651K) reports police said Jones “bought a gun just three days before his death.” Palm Beach (FL) Post (10/20, 497K) reports Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL) said he “is ‘deeply concerned’” by the incident. The New York Daily News (10/21, Silverstein, 3.75M) reports that John Kazanjian of the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association “scolded the department for keeping mum on what led to the death.” He said, “We don’t want another Ferguson. They need to get out there and address the public.” (AAJ)

Police Misconduct: What’s going on in South Carolina?

The news has been littered with allegations of police misconduct, excessive force, and discriminatory practices all stemming from South Carolina leaving us with the question, What is going on in South Carolina?

Alternet: New Video Shows SC Cop Gunning Down Unarmed Teen as He Drives Away From Weed Bust

A South Carolina police officer won’t face any charges in the shooting death of an unarmed man during a drug bust.

Prosecutors declined to charge Seneca Police Lt. Mark Tiller in the July 26 shooting death of 19-year-old Zachary Hammond as he attempted to drive away from the officer in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant…. Read more about it here

Alternet: South Carolina Teen Who Filmed School Cop’s Assault Is Arrested for ‘Disturbing Schools’

UPDATE: This has gotten much worse. Niya Kenny, 18, who filmed the now infamous arrest has been arrested herself for “disturbing schools.” She’s out on $1000 bail.

WLTX reports that Kenny was trying to “stand up for her friend” when she filmed the assault, telling Loren Thomas of WLTX, “I was crying, screaming and crying like a baby. I was in disbelief.” Both Kenny and her mother are understandably skeptical as to why she was arrested for “disturbing schools.”

“But looking at the video, who was really disturbing schools?” Kenny’s mother told WLTX. “Was it my daughter or the officer who came into the classroom and did that to the young girl?”…Read more about it here.

NBC: School Body Slam Report Due Weds., Sheriff Says

The investigation into a videotaped incident where a South Carolina school resource officer slammed a high school student sitting at her desk will be completed within 24 hours, authorities said.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told reporters that the department’s internal affairs investigation should be finished by Wednesday, NBC News reported. He said that three videos, including one showing the girl punching Senior Deputy Ben Fields during the confrontation, will play a part in the investigation into whether Fields violated policy in Monday’s incident at Spring Valley High School in Columbia… read the rest of the article and watch the video here.

NYTimes: South Carolina Officer Is Charged With Murder of Walter Scott

WASHINGTON — A white police officer in North Charleston, S.C., was charged with murder on Tuesday after a video surfaced showing him shooting in the back and killing an apparently unarmed black man while the man ran away.

The officer, Michael T. Slager, 33, said he had feared for his life because the man had taken hisstun gun in a scuffle after a traffic stop on Saturday. A video, however, shows the officer firing eight times as the man, Walter L. Scott, 50, fled. The North Charleston mayor announced the state charges at a news conference Tuesday evening.

The shooting came on the heels of high-profile instances of police officers’ using lethal force in New York, Cleveland, Ferguson, Mo., and elsewhere. The deaths have set off a national debate over whether the police are too quick to use force, particularly in cases involving black men….. Read more about it here

Alternet: Citizens Forcing Police Accountability Is Working: Killer Cops Prosecuted at Record Rate

A once apathetic society, which had become so unquestioningly content with the status quo, is beginning to wake up. For over a decade, Americans stood by as police killings went largely unchecked. No one to count how many citizens had their lives taken by cops. But the days of unaccountable government killings seem to be numbered as killer cops have awakened a sleeping dragon.

Over the past two years, with Ferguson, Missouri, playing a key role, the American people have realized that some police officers are taking lives at an alarming rate — and they have taken action. Multiple independent sources, fed up with the failure of the federal government to track police killings, have begun tracking these killings independently. The Guardian, and now the Washington Post have been airing the dirty laundry the feds have kept under wraps for so long….read all about it here.

‘Ferguson Effect’ Probably Not Keeping Police From Doing Their Jobs, Study Suggests

The threat of having their behavior captured in viral videos is not necessarily keeping police officers from doing their jobs, a new study from the American Psychological Association suggests.

Following the bad press and public outcry related to the August 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, politicians and federal authorities have worried that cops may be less motivated to do their jobs due to the so-called “Ferguson effect.”

The White House has denied its existence, but FBI Director James Comey last week told students at the University of Chicago Law School that the “era of viral videos” has left officers feeling “under siege” and unwilling to do their duties for fear of consequences. He also attributed a national uptick in violent crime to the public’s use of cell phones and cameras to record police incidents.

The study, which was published online this month in the journal Law and Human Behavior, didn’t find empirical evidence of the “Ferguson effect.” It did, however, find evidence that officers feel less inclined to engage in their communities or stay in law enforcement in general.

“There is a portion of officers who… appear to be less motivated to be police officers, and there’s an extent to which officers pull back from the community,” said Scott Wolfe, an assistant professor of criminology at the University of South Carolina and the study’s lead author.

In February, researchers surveyed 567 deputies at a mid-sized sheriff’s department that serves 393,000 residents in the southeastern United States. All the officers involved were promised anonymity. The line of questioning was set up to reduce bias — for example, officers weren’t asked directly if they ever shirk their duties — and keep officers comfortable, Wolfe said.

It’s important to note that the study group is located nearly 800 miles from Ferguson. Wolfe said the results are “limited” in that sense, but found that these feelings of alienation among officers have permeated through the country, just as the public’s reaction to these national events have.

Although there wasn’t any hard and fast evidence among the sample group that upticks in violence could be attributed to officers not doing their jobs because of viral videos, the “Ferguson effect” appears to have hold in certain jurisdictions.

Read the whole article at the Huffington Post: here

S.C. sheriff fires officer who threw student across a classroom

A South Carolina police officer was fired Wednesday after videos emerged showing him yanking a high school student out of her chair and throwing her across a classroom earlier in the week.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said that deputy Ben Fields, who is white, was fired from the department for using excessive force during the arrest of a black female student in a math class at Spring Valley High School.

The incident was captured on multiple cell phone videos and showed the officer asking the student to stand up before he grabbed the young woman and tossed her out of her chair. The deputy’s dismissal comes after the Justice Department’s office of civil rights, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office in Columbia, S.C., announced they were investigating the case involving Fields, a school resource officer at the high school.

[FBI, Justice Department investigating S.C. school resource officer]

Fields had been suspended without pay and banned from school district properties in the wake of the incident.
Continue reading

I Went to Summons Court and Almost Everyone Was Black or Latino


“We’ve been begging the cops to ticket bicyclists who violate the law,” wrote New Yorker Ed Sublette in an email to me after reading a previous article I wrote mentioning the summons. “The present traffic environment [is one where] hordes of bicyclists do any damn thing they want, [and it] has made walking down the street a daily danger… for anyone whose head doesn’t spin around 360 degrees.”

Fair enough. Yet it’s impossible to deny that tickets for bike summonses in New York, along with the quota system undergirding it, creates a situation where nonwhites have more interaction with police than other types. This is on purpose. The NYPD is governed by a strategy that demands a high rate of contact between police and people in certain neighborhoods, in order to increase police’s chances of finding people with outstanding warrants for more serious offenses. This is called broken-windows policing.

“In order for police to maintain high rates of contact with suspects, they need a pretext,” says Bernard Harcourt, a scholar who has written extensively about broken-windows policing. “That reason can be marijuana in public view, minor disorder, or turnstile jumping.” Or riding a bike on a public sidewalk.

In theory, everybody should be suspect in the dragnet of broken windows. But its logic is only deployed in places where crime is mindlessly clear-cut. There may be hundreds of thieves in lower Manhattan who regularly plunder the global economy of billions of dollars, but they’re near impossible for a beat cop to identify. In contrast, a vagrant wanted for petty theft in Brooklyn is easy to happen upon, so long as police confront him when he falls asleep on the subway.

The truth is that, like high school, broken windows is all about appearances. So long as things in your neighborhood look pristine and orderly, police are more likely to let you go on your way, while concentrating their vigilance on places that look shabbier (which often means poorer).

These thoughts were spinning around in my mind after receiving my summons. So when I went to the courthouse a few weeks later, I decided to talk with people to see why they were there.

Nearly everyone in line at the courthouse on 346 Broadway was black or Latino, which made sense: A recent investigation by the New York Daily News found these two groups are six times as likely as whites to receive summonses for minor offenses….

The history of loitering summonses in New York is ugly. At three different intervals—in 1983, 1988 and 1992—both the New York Court of Appeals and a federal court have ruled the NYPD’s issuance of such citations unconstitutional. Over and over, they have been found to repeatedly target the poor. Those rulings apparently had little effect: in 2010, Judge Shira Scheindlin with the US District Court found that the city was still meting out tickets like a hedge funder raining dollar bills at a strip club…..





Sitting While Black in Minnesota: Cops Tase Man For Not Stating His Name

Video posted online on Tuesday depicts the arrest and Tasing of an unidentified Black man in St. Paul, Minnesota for seemingly little reason other than his refusal to state his name, the Twin Cities Daily Planet reported.

“Why am I going to jail?” the man can be heard saying toward the end of the nearly 6-minute long clip.

“It’ll be explained to you,” a male officer responds.

The video, which seemed to have been taken on a cell phone this past winter, begins with a female officer walking beside the man and asking for his name.

“Why do I have to let you know who I am?” the man asks. “I don’t have to let you know who I am if I haven’t broken any laws.”

Minnesota does not currently have a “stop and identify” statute in place. Those laws give police the right to arrest someone if they do not identify themselves

“I want to find out who you are, and what the problem was back there,” the first officer says. The Daily Planet reported that a store clerk called police after the man was sitting in front of his store.

“I do not have to let you know who I am if I haven’t broken any laws,” the man says, adding that he explained to the clerk that he sat near the store for 10 minutes before going to pick up his children at a nearby school, New Horizon Academy.

“He walked up to me a minute later and got irate with me,” the man says of the clerk. “That’s a public area, and if there’s no sign that [says], ‘This is a private area, you can’t sit here,’ no one can tell me I can’t sit there.”

“The problem was,” the officer begins to say, before the man cuts her off, saying, “The problem is, I’m Black.”

Seconds later, the male officer approaches, and the man asks, “Please don’t touch me.”

“You’re gonna go to jail, then,” the officer responds, before he and his colleague grab the man.

“Come on brother,” the man says, “This is assault.”

“I’m not your brother,” the second officer answers. “Put your hands behind your back otherwise it’s going to get ugly.”

At that point, the male officer orders him to put his hands behind his back. The argument continues for a few more seconds before the image goes black. But the man can be heard yelling for help. As some children are heard in the distance, the man says, “That’s my kids right there.”

“Put your hands behind your back,” the officer can be heard yelling, before threatening to use the Taser. The device can be heard flickering at the 2:17 mark, before the man yells for help again.

Later on, the female officer can be heard asking, “Did I not ask you to stop to talk to me?”


10 Ways Racism Killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner (AlterNet / By Chauncey DeVega)

(the following is the entire article)

A New York City police officer put his arm around Eric Garner’s neck and choked out his life as he screamed “I can’t breathe!”

A police officer in Ferguson, MO aimed his gun at Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager and shot him multiple times while he reportedly  pleaded, “I don’t have a gun. Stop shooting!”

Michael Brown lay dead in the street for hours. The police treated his body like common street refuse.

While the police ended the lives of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, it was white racism that actually killed them.

American society is organized around the maintenance and protection of white privilege.

Racism is not an opinion. Racism is a fact. 

The reality of the color line, how whiteness is a type of material and psychological privilege, and that people of color are disadvantaged in American society, are among the most repeated findings in all of the Social Sciences. 

Critics of white supremacy and white racism work from the reasonable and informed belief—given the mountains of empirical data in support of the claim—that racism is one of the most powerful social forces in the United States. White racism deniers, and those others who have perverted the notion of “colorblindness” in order to advance and protect white supremacy as one of the United States’ dominant ideologies, proceed from the opposite assumption. 

Gravity is a fact. It does not need an extraordinary proof. Likewise, the fact of how racism continues to structure life chances in the post civil rights era should be a given for any fair-minded and intelligent person.

Colorblind racism and the white racial frame invert and distort reality: reasonable and sensible claims are rejected in favor of extraordinary proofs for the well documented social reality that is white racism. As such, for white racism deniers and their allies, the standards of evidence are made so absurdly high as to be virtually impossible to satisfy or meet with any degree of confidence or certitude. 

Events such as the police killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown are a nexus where white racial resentment and white supremacy are made to confront black pain, reasonable hurt and righteous anger. 

From the American lynching tree of the 19th and early 20th centuries, to the police harassment and racial profiling of the present, white racial logic deems black humanity to be a type of perpetual threat and poison in the white body politic. The black body must be controlled and terrorized in order to create a sense of safety (and community) for the white public.

Consequently, white racial paranoia twists the murder of two unarmed black people by the police into “justifiable” acts, where the victims of gross and unjust violence are somehow made responsible for their own deaths. 

Colorblind racism, white racism denying, and police brutality do the work of white supremacy. They are also micro-aggressions, the goal of which is to exhaust and confuse black and brown people by invalidating their life experiences and assaulting (quite literally in the case of police violence) their personhood. 

Colorblind racism, and the related claims that racism does not influence how police and the broader criminal justice system interact with black and brown people, are also assaults on empirical reality and the truth. 

Justice for Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and the many hundreds and thousands of innocent black and brown people who have been killed by the police requires a clear and direct engagement with the twin facts of American racism and white supremacy. 

Eric Garner and Michael Brown were killed by white racism. 

What is my evidence for this claim?

1. The United States, from its founding to the present,  is structured around maintaining the dominant power position of those people who are categorized as “white”


America, as a society structured around racial inequality and hierarchy, will reflect that dynamic in its politics, culture, and social institutions. Thus, the legal system and the police will reflect America’s dominant ideologies. America is a racist society; it logically follows that its social and political institutions will channel those values.

2. In his essential book, Discipline and Punish, preeminent social theorist and philosopher Michel Foucault detailed how a society’s legal system and approach to punishment and incarceration reflect the values and norms of its elites and dominant group. 

The law is a social construction. It is not a “natural” arrangement. Elites make the law in order to serve their own interests. For example, the distinction between “white collar” and other crimes are but one way that those individuals who make the law can insulate themselves from its full consequences. 

The class and racial disparities in American law and punishment are not accidents or a coincident: they are how the dominant and in-group protect their own interests to the disadvantage of the Other. 

3. Police in America can trace their origins to the slave patrollers and “paddy rollers” of the antebellum South. Their goal was to support and protect the Southern Slaveocracy by terrorizing black people. The violence, terror, and harassment of black and brown communities, and the violation of the civil liberties of black and brown people, are not aberrations or outliers. They are part of a long cultural habit and tradition of racist behavior by American police departments and other law enforcement agencies. 

4. As  Michelle Alexander and others have extensively documented, there is racial bias against black people at every level of the criminal justice system. The cumulative effect of institutional and interpersonal racism by police and other law enforcement agencies is that black people are disproportionately incarcerated, receive longer sentences for the same crimes as white people, and are subjected to supervision and harassment by the legal system throughout their lives. The United States is a two-tier racially ordered society where the color line extends to the criminal justice system.

5. A new report from the Vera Institute of Justice details how police and other elements of the criminal justice system have a remarkable amount of discretion in how they choose to punish or otherwise interact with citizens. Those agents use their discretionary powers to disproportionately and unfairly harass, arrest, and punish blacks and Latinos as compared to white people.

6. Police mirror the broader racial biases of white Americans towards African-Americans. The association between black people and criminality has been reinforced by a racially biased media, educational system, entertainment industry, and other agents of political socialization for centuries in the United States, specifically, and the West, more generally. In fact,  researchers at Stanford University have recently demonstrated that white people have been so deeply taught to associate black people with crime that they continue to support racially biased sentencing even when shown that it is unfair. 

7. While white people were found to be more likely to have drugs or weapons on their persons, African-Americans and Latinos are disproportionately targeted for “stop and frisk” police searches in major cities such as New York. “Quality of life crimes” and “broken windows” police tactics are disproportionately used in black and brown communities. The systematic harassment of innocent black and brown people by the police creates a space for negative encounters which may end in incarceration or even police violence.

8. Communities of color, both because of race and class inequalities, suffer under aggressive and hostile police tactics. The militarization of the United States’ police departments is a national problem. This dynamic is amplified in black and brown communities, where for decades, American police departments have viewed them as territories to be “conquered” and its citizens as “enemy insurgents” or “combatants”. Because police see black and brown communities—and their residents—as threats, they are much more likely to use violence and draconian tactics against them. 

9. Recent work by the  Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, a think tank and social justice research and advocacy organization, reveals how police, street vigilantes, or security guards have killed one black person every 28 hours.

A common scenario involves the police shooting and killing unarmed black people who are holding harmless objects in their hands—with the former claiming that they thought that a wallet, house keys, or even a telephone were “guns” or other “dangerous” objects.

Psychologists have conducted research which suggests that implicit racial bias influences how white people (and others) may actually “see” non-whites in a negative manner. Thus, the subconscious thinking processes of white people may actually be transforming black people into threats where none actually exist. 

Other research complements this disturbing finding: researchers at the University of Chicago and elsewhere have reported that white police officers (and others) are  influenced by racial bias in their decision-making processes regarding when and if to shoot (unarmed) black people. The  research on implicit bias and racial attitudes indicates that white racial animus and subconscious racism influences how police interact with black people—often with deadly results.

10. As Assistant Professor Vesla Weaver of Yale University  deftly argued in an excellent piece for the Boston Review, black and brown Americans who live in low income and working class communities are denied the full rights of citizenship by an expansive, punitive, and intrusive state bureaucracy and legal system. Consequently, police are much more likely to come in contact with innocent black people than they are whites who are involved in criminal behavior. 

As a result, white criminals are more likely to be ignored by police; innocent black people are harassed and often arrested by the police. 

Blackness is judged by the White Gaze as de facto criminality. Whiteness is judged by the White Gaze as innocent and harmless. 

This racist logic creates a type of path dependency that justifies the disproportionate incarceration, harassment, and killing of black people by the police. In a perverse twist, the over-policing of innocent black people also offers protection for the white criminals who prey on the white community.

The police reportedly have a saying that, “I’d rather be judged by 12, than carried by 6”. The governing logic is simple: if in doubt, shoot and kill someone because you would rather be alive and put on trial, than be dead and in the ground. That logic is increasingly applied in an unrestrained manner by police who see the black body as a primordial and imminent threat, and consequently do not hesitate to use lethal, and very often, unjustified force against it. 

The police channeled this racism to kill Eric Garner and Michael Brown. 

The killing of unarmed black people by American police is a human rights issue. It should also be a concern for all people, on all sides of the color line, who care about civil liberties, rights, and freedom. Why? The terrorizing of black and brown communities is a preview of what a militarized and fully unleashed police department, enlisted in the service of the surveillance society and a culture of cruelty, can (and will) do to white Americans in the future.

Minorities disproportionately nabbed for minor offenses..

More than 81 percent of New Yorkers issued summonses over “broken windows” infractions during a ten-year period have been Black and Latino, an analysis of city records conducted by the New York Daily News reveals.

In a first-ever breakdown of released summons statistics, the Daily News found that writing summonses is the most frequent activity conducted by the New York Police Department, surpassing felony and misdemeanor arrests combined. Since the “broken windows” policy—which means zero tolerance for small infractions—was implemented during early the 1990s, the number of summonses has increased exponentially. In 1993, 160,000 summonses were issues; in 2005, that number climbed to a peak of 648,638.

Most of these summonses were likely to be issued in Black or Latino communities, according the Daily News.

The most common offenses were consumption of alcohol (1.6 million), disorderly conduct (1 million), public urination (334,000), bicycling on the sidewalk (296,000) and operation of a motor vehicle in violation of the safety rules (213,000). Motor vehicle violations and unlawful possession of alcohol for a minor were not strongly connected to race, but violations for spitting, failure to have a dog license, public consumption of alcohol , disorderly conduct and loitering were.

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In some precincts, the rate of summonses was more than 1 in 10 residents last year, such as the 25th Precinct (East Harlem North), which is 90% black and Hispanic, where there were 18 summonses per 100 residents; the 40th Precinct (Mott Haven, Bronx), which is 98% black and Hispanic (16 per 100 residents); and the 41st Precinct (Hunts Point, Bronx), which is 98% black and Hispanic, (16 per 100 residents).

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Seattle Cop targets minorities for Marijuana Citations

Washington legalized private marijuana use last year and opened up recreational pot shops early last month, law enforcement has continued to cite people for smoking in public and other pot-related activities that remain prohibited. In the state’s largest city, 83 marijuana citations were given in the first half of 2014. However, as evidenced in the Seattle Police Department’s biennial report, just one cop with a racist vendetta was responsible for 66 (80 percent) of those citations. The police department told Reuters, “36 percent of the tickets were issued to African-Americans, who make up just eight percent of the city’s population.”

The Seattle PD made note of the disproportionate arrests of black people in a statement to the press.