NEW YORK — Cornelius Fredericks, 16, was sitting at a table eating lunch when he was tackled by a staff member at Lakeside Academy in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Soon after he hit the ground, two other staff members ran over to assist. They started restraining Fredericks for throwing food. The teen remained restrained for 12 minutes. It would be the last minutes of his life.
The past five months are a window into what several juvenile justice experts say could be next: a long-overdue remodeling of the juvenile justice system that could include reforms in youth detention centers and family courts. Those experts are calling for a smaller juvenile justice system and a shift in the role of probation officers from punishment toward mentorship. Avik Das, director and chief probation officer in Cook County, Illinois’ juvenile justice system, said the youth justice system should be a “last-resort” option for high-risk youth. “I believe my home court, the oldest juvenile court in the nation, is being called on to reinvent itself,” he said. “Otherwise it is at risk of being declared obsolete at best.
NEW YORK — After a slew of new laws were passed in the last month aimed at reining in aggressive policing tactics, police unions in New York City are now instructing officers to wait for a supervisor or call in a specialized unit if someone is resisting arrest. In a July 1 newsletter sent to NYPD officers, the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) instructed officers to wait, saying that officers’ jobs have “changed radically over the past few weeks,” citing new laws. Frustrated by an apparent lack of guidance from the city on how officers should comply, the PBA is now demanding clear legal interpretations of how officers can comply with the new laws. “Our job as police officers is simply to carry out [the city’s] directives — and yet we have received no guidance and no training on how we are expected to do our job in this new environment,” the newsletter said. Passed by city council on June 18 as part of a package of six NYPD reform bills, one law in particular which bans officers kneeling on individuals’ backs is particularly controversial.
CORTLAND, N.Y. — As the Black Lives Matter movement here looks to turn its public support into political momentum, local libertarians are making a late push to align themselves with the movement that nationally was sparked by youth activism. The Libertarian Party in Cortland County — or the group of people trying to form it — has been slow to publicize its support for Black Lives Matter. At the center of this is state Assembly candidate Matthew McIntyre, who has actively reached out to the leaders of Black Lives Matter organizers in Cortland. He sees systemic police brutality against Black residents as a product of government overreach, the free market as an avenue for leveling the playing field and recent Black Lives Matters protests cut from the same cloth as “Reopen New York” protests, which Libertarians supported.
Many libertarians, including McIntyre, advocate for the decriminalization of nonviolent, victimless drug offenses and an end to the war on drugs. They also call for less government regulation on business, particularly business licensing.
Black Lives Matter organizers here are concerned about whether the libertarian support will be genuine in the long term, after the spotlight on protests and police reforms dims. Melissa Kiser and Steve Williams, two organizers of Black Lives Matter in Cortland, have spent the past few weeks educating themselves on libertarianism, how their views align and if a partnership will result in what Williams calls “piggyback protesting” — when movements and organizations use momentum from Black Lives Matter to advance their own agendas.
It’s a concern that national leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement have about the Democratic Party.
NEW YORK — The Surrogate’s Court in Lower Manhattan received a fresh coat of paint — albeit an unprompted one, after graffiti, as colorful in its language as it was in its incandescence, was scrawled across the building by anti-police protesters. Nearby, an elevator shaft for the City Hall 4/5/6 train was covered in scraps of cardboard etched with messages memorializing the lives of Black Americans killed by police. Demonstrators had encamped in the area around City Hall for days while inside city officials dealt with one of the most significant political issues of their time — how to effect massive reforms to the nation’s largest police department without sacrificing public safety. The solution from city leaders, much to the consternation of some protesters who envisioned a wholesale removal of police altogether, has been to enact a massive shift in funding away from the New York Police Department (NYPD), to the tune of nearly $1 billion, and reinvest it into communities of color. After midnight this morning the City Council voted on a budget that includes deep cuts to NYPD personnel and shifts millions to other city agencies.
The New York City Department of Corrections will discipline 17 officers for their conduct surrounding the death of 27-year-old Layleen Polanco, a transgender Rikers Island inmate being housed in solitary confinement.
The Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office in Louisiana plans to continue its criminal case against the 14-year-old shot in the back as he lay prone on his stomach. District Attorney Paul Connick Jr., filed charges against Tre’mall McGee for resisting arrest.
CORTLAND, N.Y. — Few people downtown would look Steve Williams in the eye. Not the police officers stationed at each end of Courthouse Park. Not the two white families at his front and back, who called past him to greet each other.
Williams had come there not in support of the protest but as a critic, centered around one central question: How long would it take a stranger holding a Black Lives Matter sign to acknowledge Williams, a Black man? “It’s lacking that passion. Y’all know that passion when you really mean something?