Friday, November 28, 2008
JACKSON, Tenn. (AP) - Two white supremacists charged with plotting to kill President-elect Barack Obama and dozens of other black people pleaded not guilty Wednesday to new criminal charges added to an earlier federal indictment.
Daniel Cowart, 20, of rural West Tennessee and Paul Schlesselman, 18, of Helena-West Helena, Ark., entered the pleas on firearms and conspiracy charges. They were originally indicted on Nov. 5, but a new indictment, with three additional charges, was handed up by a federal grand jury on Nov. 20.
Wearing black and white striped jail uniforms with chains around their ankles, the two stood silent before Magistrate Diane Vescovo except to say "Yes, ma'am" when asked if they understood the new charges. Not guilty pleas were entered by lawyers.
Cowart and Schlesselman are being held without bond and no trial date has been set. Their next scheduled court appearance is Dec. 12 in Jackson, about 75 miles north of Memphis. At that hearing lawyers are to discuss a timetable for further court proceedings.
Cowart and Schlesselman are accused of plotting a robbery and killing spree targeting African-Americans that was to culminate with an attack on Obama. A federal affidavit says the two planned to dress up in white tuxedoes and top hats and attack Obama by blasting with firearms from a speeding car.
Joe Byrd, Cowart's lawyer, said outside the courtroom that he has seen no evidence his client could have carried out such attack.
"It tells me we're not dealing with Lee Harvey Oswald," Byrd said.
Prosecutors refused to comment on the case, as did the federal public defenders office which is representing Schlesselman.
Authorities describe Schlesselman and Cowart as white supremacist skinheads. They were initially arrested last month by local authorities investigating reports of a window being shot out at an unoccupied, predominantly black church.
They are accused of possessing a sawed-off shotgun, carrying guns across state lines to commit crimes of violence, planning to rob a licensed firearm dealer and threatening a presidential candidate.
The new indictment includes a charge of conspiring to violate the civil rights of African-Americans and two firearms charges against Cowart related to the church shooting.
Byrd refused comment on the shooting except to say, "There is some point at which there's a gulf separating malice and stupidity."
Cowart is charged with nine criminal offenses while Schlesselman is charged with seven. The charges each carry maximum penalties of five to 20 years in prison plus fines of $250,000.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
HALLOWELL, Maine (AP) _ People in central Maine are speaking out against "KKK" graffiti that showed up along a popular walking and bicycling trail.
More than 150 people gathered Wednesday on the Kennebec River Rail Trail in Hallowell to speak out against the more than 20 red and black "KKK" markings — shorthand for the Ku Klux Klan white supremacist group — that were found along the trail last weekend.
The protest was organized after the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence was overwhelmed by phone calls.
Steve Wessler, director of the center, said the markings are "messages of hate and terror."
Information from: Kennebec Journal, http://www.kjonline.com/
Sunday, November 23, 2008
San Diego Union-Tribune
November 22, 2008 6:00 AM
Some Republicans are saying the party was on a fool's errand trying to win over Latinos.
In this election, most Latinos voted for the Democratic nominee for president, just as they have in every presidential election since they helped elect John Kennedy in 1960. There have been elections where Democrats ran away with the Hispanic vote (i.e., Bill Clinton) and others where they were barely able to gain a majority (i.e., John Kerry).
When it comes to winning over Latinos, Barack Obama is no Bill Clinton. The former Illinois senator received 67 percent of the Hispanic vote, while Clinton got 72 percent in his 1996 re-election bid. Still, it was an impressive showing for the president-elect.
Obama also had the benefit of GOP mistakes. Republicans who second-guess their party's Hispanic outreach efforts have short memories.
The real foolishness occurred earlier, when some decided to pander to nativists at the cost of alienating a community that adds a million people to the voter rolls every four years.
In fact, a lot of the GOP faithful are worried that - given changing demographics - they may never win another presidential election if they don't make peace with Latinos. According to census estimates, Hispanics will make up a quarter of the U.S. population by 2042. Those are likely to be dark days for the Republican Party unless it can find a way to appeal to Hispanic voters.
During a recent appearance on the Hugh Hewitt radio show, neoconservative commentator John Podhoretz described the GOP's anti-immigrant saber-rattling as a "political and demographic disaster" for Republicans.
You're probably thinking the issue isn't immigration but illegal immigration. But that doesn't hold up. Many people like to tell themselves they're opposed only to illegal immigration, but when they list the reasons, it usually boils down to fear of a changing culture. It's not just illegal immigrants who are bringing about those changes. It's also legal residents and U.S.-born Latinos.
And so, the debate has taken on a sweeping anti-Hispanic flavor. When Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado - who, by the way, I am convinced is a secret agent for the Democrats - called Miami a "Third World country," it was Cuban-Americans who took offense.
Think about it. Technically, immigration isn't their fight. The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 gives Cuban immigrants a red carpet to the United States, provided they make it to shore. But because of the impolitic and imprecise rhetoric surrounding the immigration debate, many Cuban-Americans are jumping into the fray.
Cuban-Americans used to be a solidly Republican constituency. But in this election, Obama made significant inroads, especially with young Cuban-Americans. For that, Obama should remember to thank Tancredo and the other GOP culture warriors.
Podhoretz is right. "Disaster" is a good word for what is lurking around the corner for Republicans if they don't wise up and change their ways.
Every week, I hear from dozens of Latinos who say they don't feel welcome in the Republican Party, and they resent it - even though many of them confess to having doubts about the Democrats. In the end, they find their doubts easier to overcome than their resentments.
I'm often asked by local Republican leaders around the country what the party can do to stop the hemorrhaging. Many assume it would take some sort of extreme makeover and the complete renunciation of everything for which their party stands.
That's ridiculous. It's what the Republicans stand for that represents the GOP's best hope at attracting Latinos. Empowering individuals and promoting values such as personal responsibility work in their favor. So do policies that lower taxes, strengthen the military, make schools more accountable and protect the homeland.
As for the thorny immigration issue, contrary to what many conservatives assume, it's not that Latinos want an open border. They don't. Most Latinos recognize that the United States has the responsibility to protect its sovereignty. They don't like the idea of building more walls and fences, but most of them have no problem with adding more Border Patrol agents and giving them the best equipment to do their jobs. What Latinos object to is the tone of the debate. They've had their fill of ugliness, racism, hypocrisy and falsehoods spread by opportunistic politicians offering nothing more than simplistic solutions and overheated rhetoric.
That sort of thing might have helped the GOP win a few battles here and there. But it ensures Republicans will lose the war.
Contact San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Ruben Navarrette at email@example.com.
Prosecutors say NY teenagers accused of killing immigrant carried out larger crime spree
By FRANK ELTMAN
The Associated Press
Suspects in the stabbing death of Marcello Lucero, inset, are led in shackles at a court hearing. His murder has shed light on what some say is an ongoing problem of anti-Hispanic sentiment in Long Island's Suffolk County.
The killing of an Ecuadorean immigrant by seven high school students was part of a spree in which the teenagers tormented other immigrants while armed with knives and BB guns, prosecutors said.
The teens were indicted Thursday on more serious offenses — including murder as a hate crime for one accused of wielding the knife — than they initially faced when arrested in the Nov. 8 killing of Marcelo Lucero.
About 300 people gathered Thursday in Gualaceo, Ecuador, for a funeral for Lucero, who worked in a Riverhead dry-cleaning store after arriving in the United States 16 years ago. His gray casket was draped with an Ecuadorean flag, and rose petals were tossed on top. Some in the crowd carried signs saying "No to Racism."
Lucero's mother and sister carried his remains in two wooden urns from the church to the cemetery, somberly walking about a half-mile through the quiet town of 18,000 in the Andean foothills.
A priest at Gualaceo's main church, the Rev. Jorge Moreno, called Lucero's death "a product of a feeling of xenophobia that makes some people believe they are worth more than others."
Prosecutors on Long Island said the teenagers had been hanging out with friends when someone suggested they go "beaner jumping," a derogatory term they used as a euphemism for attacking Hispanics. The group drove around Patchogue and encountered a Hispanic man and attempted to rough him up, but the man escaped, prosecutors said.
Shortly before midnight, the group came upon Lucero and a companion walking near the Patchogue train station. The group surrounded their victims, but Lucero's friend managed to flee the scene unharmed, prosecutors said. Lucero tried to fight back, smacking one of the teens with his belt, but was soon overwhelmed by the mob, prosecutors said.
Jeffrey Conroy ended the fight by plunging a knife into Lucero's chest, authorities say. District Attorney Thomas Spota said the other six were unaware that Conroy had stabbed Lucero until he told them as they fled the scene. The prosecutor said that because the other teens did not know about the stabbing until afterward, they were not being charged with murder.
The six suspects were arraigned Thursday on charges including gang assault, conspiracy, attempted assault and attempted gang assault. Lawyers for the six entered not guilty pleas.
Conroy will answer to an upgraded charge of second-degree murder as a hate crime, as well as manslaughter, gang assault and other crimes at a Monday hearing.
Conroy could face 25 years to life in prison and the others could be sentenced to five to 25 years if convicted of the most serious charges. Attorneys for all seven have said their clients are innocent.
Advocates for Hispanics and others have spoken out against the killing, which took place days after Barack Obama was elected as the country's first black president.
"It is tragic that a crime of this nature, a xenophobic lynching, happened just as the United States celebrates a historic step forward in which racial barriers have been overcome," Ecuadorean Ambassador Luis Gallegos said last week.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Copyright © 2008 ABC News Internet Ventures
Source: ABC News
Thursday, October 30, 2008
By Mark Potok on October 29, 2008
Hate crimes targeting Latinos increased again in 2007, capping a 40% rise in the four years since 2003, according to FBI statistics released earlier this week.
As anti-immigrant propaganda has increased on both the margins and in the mainstream of society — where pundits and politicians have routinely vilified undocumented Latino immigrants with a series of defamatory falsehoods — hate violence has risen against perceived “illegal aliens.” Each year since 2003, the number of FBI-reported anti-Latino hate crime incidents has risen (see table, below), even as a swelling nativist movement has become larger and more vitriolic.
The FBI statistics, which are simply compilations of state statistics as mandated by federal law, are notoriously sketchy. Because of a variety of problems in the voluntary reporting system, including the failure of many victims to report crimes to police, the FBI figures have long been suspected of being far lower than the actual level of such crimes. And that turns out to be true. The FBI has reported national hate crime totals of between about 6,000 and about 10,000 since it began publishing the numbers in 1992, depending on the year (the new report counts 7,264 incidents in 2007). But a definitive 2005 study by the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (PDF), based on detailed and highly accurate National Crime Victimization Surveys, found that the real annual level of hate crime in America averaged some 191,000 incidents — in other words, about 20 to 30 times higher than the numbers annually reported by the FBI.
Although the numbers of FBI-reported anti-Latino hate crime attacks are small — from 426 incidents in 2003 to 595 incidents in 2007 — the trend they suggest is almost certainly a real one. California, which does a better job of reporting hate crimes than most states, has also seen a major uptick in anti-Latino violence, and the growth of hate groups has been most dramatic in Southern border states like California, Arizona and Texas, the front lines of the immigration controversy.
At the same time as anti-Latino violence has risen, the Southern Poverty Law Center has reported a major increase in hate groups — from 602 in 2000 to 888 in 2007, a 48% percent jump — and said that the growth has been almost entirely driven by the immigration debate. White supremacist groups that normally target African Americans and Jews have focused heavily for the last several years on the “threat” of Latino immigrants, exploiting the issue successfully in order to recruit more and more members, especially in the border states. That has only begun to change recently, as hate groups increasingly turn their attention to the subprime crisis (which they blame on minorities) and the likely prospect of a black president.
There are other problems in the FBI hate crime statistics, as is reflected in the new report for 2007. Mississippi, for instance, reported zero hate crimes last year, while Alaska reported one and Georgia had three. If there are more than 190,000 hate crimes nationally each year, it is obviously utterly implausible that the number of hate crimes in those states could be so low. A part of the problem has been the reluctance of some police departments and states to report hate crimes (one reason may be fear of bad publicity), along with reporting errors by various local and state officials. The 2005 Department of Justice study also pointed to another huge problem, finding that fully 56% of hate crime victimizations were never reported to police at all. That problem is exacerbated in the undocumented community, whose members are typically afraid to report crimes to police for fear of being deported.
The FBI’s latest report also found, as it has in most years, that schools and colleges were the third largest venue for hate crimes (with 11.3% of the total reported on campuses) after “in or near residences or homes” (30.5%) and “on highways, roads, alleys, or streets” (18.9%). Although many think of campuses as being bastions of open-mindedness, in fact they suffer the same pathologies as the rest of society. They also hold concentrations of young people, who are more crime-prone that other segments of the population.
The definitive 2005 government study also highlighted several other key facts about hate crimes, including that per capita rates of victimization “varied little by race or ethnicity: about 0.9 per 1,000 whites, 0.7 per 1,000 blacks, and 0.9 per 1,000 Hispanics.” Perhaps more importantly, the study concluded that hate crimes were vastly more violent than others — almost 84% of hate crimes included violence ranging from rape to assault, while only 23% of non-hate crimes did.
Monday, October 27, 2008
This undated photo obtained from a MySpace webpage shows Daniel Cowart, 20 of Bells, Tenn. holding a weapon. Federal agents have broken up a plot to assassinate Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. and shoot or decapitate 102 black people in a Tennessee murder spree, the ATF said Monday Oct. 27, 2008. In court records unsealed Monday, federal agents said they disrupted plans to rob a gun store and target a predominantly African-American high school by two neo-Nazi skinheads. The men, Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells, Tenn., and Paul Schlesselman 18, of West Helena, Ark., are being held without bond.
WASHINGTON - Law enforcement agents have broken up a plot by two neo-Nazi skinheads to assassinate Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and shoot or decapitate 88 black people, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Monday.
In court records unsealed Monday in U.S. District Court in Jackson, Tenn., federal agents said they disrupted plans to rob a gun store and target a predominantly African-American high school in a murder spree that was to begin in Tennessee. Agents said the skinheads did not identify the school by name.
Jim Cavanaugh, special agent in charge of ATF's Nashville field office, said the two men planned to kill 88 African Americans, including 14 by beheading. The numbers 88 and 14 are symbolic in the white supremacist community.
The men also sought to go on a national killing spree after the Tennessee murders, with Obama as its final target, Cavanaugh told The Associated Press.
"They said that would be their last, final act — that they would attempt to kill Sen. Obama," Cavanaugh said. "They didn't believe they would be able to do it, but that they would get killed trying."
No immediate comment
An Obama spokeswoman traveling with the senator in Pennsylvania had no immediate comment.
The men, Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells, Tenn., and Paul Schlesselman 18, of Helena-West Helena, Ark., are being held without bond. Agents seized a rifle, a sawed-off shotgun and three pistols from the men when they were arrested. Authorities alleged the two men were preparing to break into a gun shop to steal more.
The two men were arrested Oct. 22 by the Crockett County, Tenn., Sheriff's Office. "Once we arrested the defendants and suspected they had violated federal law, we immediately contacted federal authorities," said Crockett County Sheriff Troy Klyce.
Cowart and Schlesselman are charged with possessing an unregistered firearm, conspiring to steal firearms from a federally licensed gun dealer, and threatening a candidate for president.
The investigation is continuing, and more charges are possible, Cavanaugh said.
The court records say Cowart and Schlesselman also bought nylon rope and ski masks to use in a robbery or home invasion to fund their spree, during which they allegedly planned to go from state to state and kill people.
Ram vehicle into Obama?
For the Obama plot, the legal documents show, Cowart and Schlesselman "planned to drive their vehicle as fast as they could toward Obama shooting at him from the windows."
"Both individuals stated they would dress in all white tuxedos and wear top hats during the assassination attempt," the court complaint states. "Both individuals further stated they knew they would and were willing to die during this attempt."
Cavanaugh said there's no evidence — so far — that others were willing to assist Cowart and Schlesselman with the plot.
He said authorities took the threats very seriously.
"They seemed determined to do it," Cavanaugh said. "Even if they were just to try it, it would be a trail of tears around the South."
The court documents say the two men met about a month ago on the Internet and found common ground in their shared "white power" and "skinhead" philosophy.
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14, 88 are skinhead symbols
The numbers 14 and 88 are symbols in skinhead culture, referring to a 14-word phrase attributed to an imprisoned white supremacist: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children" and to the eighth letter of the alphabet, H. Two "8"s or "H"s stand for "Heil Hitler."
Helena-West Helena, on the Mississippi River in east Arkansas' Delta, is in one of the nation's poorest regions, trailing even parts of Appalachia in its standard of living. Police Chief Fred Fielder said he had never heard of Schlesselman.
However, the reported threat of attacking a school filled with black students worried Fielder. Helena-West Helena, with a population of 12,200, is 66 percent black. "Predominantly black school, take your pick," he said.
© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
By ELLYN PAK
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Two self-proclaimed white supremacists were convicted today of beating a man unconscious after he mentioned his ethnicity, officials said.
Nicholas Tyler Gibbs, 20, of Anaheim, and Ryan Joseph Swanson, 19, of Huntington Beach, were both sentenced to six years in state prison for their involvement in a hate attack against 24-year-old Ryan Honeycutt, according to the District Attorney's Office.
The two men pleaded guilty on felony counts of aggravated assault, unlawful taking of a vehicle and a misdemeanor count of battery with serious bodily injury. They were also charged with a sentencing enhancing for committing a hate crime together and causing great bodily injury.
On May 26, Honeycutt was having drinks at a bar in Seal Beach with a woman prosecutors identified as Amanda L. When they left, they found Honeycutt had a dead battery, and the woman called Swanson and Gibbs for help.
Gibbs and Swanson jump-started the car in the parking lot, and then all four went back to the woman's Seal Beach home after buying beer.
During a conversation, Honeycutt mentioned that he was half-Salvadoran, according to prosecutors. Swanson allegedly said, "You mean you're (expletive) El Salvadorian? You're basically a dirty (expletive) Mexican."
Swanson and Gibbs, who both have white supremacist tattoos, told Honeycutt that they were white supremacists. When Honeycutt began to leave, Swanson and Gibbs attacked him outside – punching him in the head, knocking him unconscious and stomping on him after he had fallen to the ground, prosecutors say.
Honeycutt suffered a broken collarbone, a concussion and cuts to his face. Swanson and Gibbs stole Honeycutt's car, keys, wallet and cell phone. After regaining consciousness, Honeycutt returned to the woman's house. She drove him home, where he called for help. His car was found three days later in a Long Beach parking lot.
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PHOENIX - A U.S. district court judge today ruled that the grossly inadequate conditions at the Maricopa County Jail, overseen by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, are unconstitutional and jeopardize the health and safety of prisoners.
In a sweeping rebuff of an attempt by Arpaio to terminate a federal consent decree mandating that he maintain conditions at the Maricopa County Jail that meet constitutional minimums, Judge Neil Wake ordered that jail officials ensure that all detainees receive necessary medical and mental health care, that they be given uninterrupted access to all medicines prescribed by correctional medical staff, that they be given access to toilets, sinks, toilet paper and soap and that they be served food that meets or exceeds the U.S. Department of Agriculture's dietary guidelines.
"Sheriff Arpaio's horrendous treatment of detainees, especially those with severe medical and mental health problems, has caused terrible suffering for years," said Margaret Winter, Associate Director of the American Civil Liberties Union's National Prison Project. "Judge Wake's decision should serve as a reminder that even a man who brags about being the toughest sheriff in America has to abide by the Constitution."
The ruling comes on the heels of a decision last month by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care to terminate the accreditation of all of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office jails for failing to maintain compliance with national standards and for providing false information to the Commission.
The ACLU went to court last August to argue that deteriorating conditions within each of the jail's five facilities that house pre-trial detainees - people who have been arrested but not yet tried or convicted - necessitate federal court oversight to ensure that Arpaio and other county officials maintain safe and humane conditions and provide the thousands of pre-trial detainees held there basic levels of medical and mental health care.
Arpaio has been attempting for nearly seven years to get out from under the consent decree that governs conditions under which pre-trial detainees are housed and which resulted from nearly two decades of litigation that centered on the jail's horrific conditions. Under a provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the consent decree has been unenforceable since Arpaio filed a motion to have it terminated in September 2001.
According to today's ruling, county officials will be forced to maintain records of their compliance with Wake's orders and provide those records on a quarterly basis to the ACLU.
"Sheriff Arpaio's actions have gone unchecked for too long and this ruling is a significant step toward much needed accountability," said Daniel Pochoda, attorney with the ACLU of Arizona. "It is time that the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and all of the residents of Maricopa County take action to end his abusive practices."
Pre-trial detainees at Maricopa County Jail are regularly given moldy bread, rotten fruit and other contaminated food. Detainees with serious medical, mental health and dental needs receive inadequate care, and they are routinely denied beds or bunks at intake, forcing them to sleep on the floor. Additionally, severe overcrowding in three of the jail's facilities has created extremely dangerous environments by significantly increasing the potential for violence among inmates.
In one recent and particularly galling example, jail officials chose to punish rather than treat the bizarre behavior of a young and severely psychotic African immigrant. Jail officials put him in disciplinary segregation and chose to house him with other inmates, resulting in his being so severely beaten by his cell mates that he had to be taken to the emergency room.
In another case, a young man with cystic fibrosis was routinely denied breathing treatments and other medical treatment despite his repeated requests, resulting in his breathing capacity eroding by nearly 30 percent during the time of his detention.
Attorneys in the case include Winter and Hanh Nguyen of the ACLU, Pochoda of the ACLU of Arizona and Debbie Hill of the Phoenix law firm Osborn and Maledon.
Additional information about the ACLU's National Prison Project can be found online at: http://www.aclu.org/prison/index.html
Additional information about the ACLU of Arizona can be found online at: http://www.acluaz.org
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Sat Oct 25, 2008 at 10:50:03 AM PDT
So we already know the McCain campaign played some sort of a role in helping get the 'B' hoax off the ground in the first place.
Now, thanks to Brian Williams, we know that once it was off the ground, McCain-land continued spreading the hoax to reporters, fueling the attention it got by publicizing phone calls from both McCain and Palin to the so-called victim.
On Thursday, FOX News Executive VP John Moody wrote:
If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain’s quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting.
The tone of FOX's coverage over the next 10 days will tell us whether or not Mr. Moody actually meant what he said. But no matter what he or his network ends up doing, the words he spoke were the truth.
Ashley Todd, a 20-year-old volunteer for the McCain campaign, admitted she lied in reporting a politically motivated attack that did not occur, according to police. (College Republicans)
PITTSBURGH -- Police now have the answer to the most important question behind a 20-year-old McCain campaign volunteer's claim that she was attacked by a robber who carved a "B" into her cheek when he saw a McCain bumper sticker on her car.
It was a hoax.
Ashley Todd, 20, of College Station, Tex., confessed to lying, Pittsburgh police said Friday, and she will be charged with filing a false report, a misdemeanor.
But questions remain about why Todd lied, and even she doesn't seem to know how she received the markings on her face.
"She told lie after lie, and the situation compounded to where we are right now," Lt. Kevin Kraus, head of major crimes for the Pittsburgh police, said Friday.
She remained at police headquarters on Friday afternoon, because police "have concern for her well-being," Kraus said. He said officials are trying to determine whether she needs psychiatric evaluation.
"She hasn't really shown any obvious remorse," Kraus said. "She's certainly surprised that it snowballed to where it is today."
Todd, who is white, had told police that on Wednesday night a black man robbed her of $60 at an ATM in Bloomfield, Pa.
She said the robber then noticed the McCain bumper sticker on her car, punched her in the back of her head, knocked her down and beat her, saying "you are going to be a Barack supporter." He pinned her down and scratched the "B" on the right side of her face before fleeing, according to her original story.
On Friday, officials said they had found several "inconsistencies" in Todd's statements. She was brought back to police headquarters, where she finally confessed that she had made the entire story up.
"After a while, she just simply stated that she wanted to tell the truth," said Maurita Bryant, assistant chief for investigations.
Todd confessed to police that she was driving alone, looked in the mirror, saw her black eye and the "B" on her face, and didn't know how they got there.
She assumed she could have done it herself, she said, and then she made up the story about the attacker.
"She saw the 'B' on her face, and she immediately thought about Barack," Bryant said.
Kraus said the "B" was what first led him to suspect Todd's story. He said he was struck by how neatly the letter was etched on her face.
Police had been working on the case since it broke Thursday, Bryant said, and "it's been a huge waste of time and man hours."
Police said Todd did not have a lawyer, and that her none of her family were in Pittsburgh.
Earlier in the day, Pittsburgh police spokeswoman Diane Richard said bank surveillance footage did not show Todd at the Citizens Bank ATM where she claimed the assault took place. Richard told FOX News that Todd had been staying with a male friend who lives down the street from the ATM.
A woman named Liz who answered the door at the residence where Todd arrived after her purported attack told FOXNews.com that her roommate is friends with Todd, and he told Liz not to discuss any details about the incident. A Ford Taurus with a Texas license plate and a McCain-Palin sticker was parked outside.
Richard said Todd later added to her tale, saying she was groped by the robber and lost consciousness during the assault. Neither of those details was in the original report.
Richard said that after a second interview, Todd was not as definitive about the assault or the motives behind it, nor could she say for certain whether the robber took $60 from her, as she initially reported and still maintained was missing.
Todd took a polygraph test late Thursday or early Friday after police heard the inconsistencies, Richard said.
'There were major changes in her story" before and after the polygraph test, Richard said. As for the wound on her cheek, "it's very shallow, it's more of a scratch."
Before Todd's admission, Richard had said the police department was taking the report "very seriously" and considered Todd a "victim" while the investigation was ongoing.
The area at Liberty Avenue and Pearl Street where Todd had said the attack took place is heavily traveled in the daytime, full of traffic, pedestrians, restaurants and stores. On Friday, Pittsburgh detectives canvassed the area looking for witnesses.
Doug Graham, a neighbor of the residence where Todd's friend lives, told FOXNews.com it's unlikely an assault at the bank would go unnoticed.
"There ain't no way nobody saw that," said Graham, whose home -- where he has lived for a decade -- sports a Barack Obama sign. "It's always hopping up there. Something fishy, I knew the first second I saw [her story]. Something fishy."
Ethan Eilon, executive director of the College Republicans National Committee, told FOX News that Todd was volunteering as a field representative through his organization and that she had taken a year off from her studies at Blinn College to work on the campaign.
Todd received a call from the Republican presidential nominee on Thursday night. Barack Obama's local campaign team also issued well-wishes and said it hoped her assailant would be caught and brought to justice.
FOX News' Judson Berger and Carl Cameron and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Sen. John McCain offered, on Tuesday, what may go down as one of the more awkward moments of this campaign cycle, in which -- speaking in Western Pennsylvania -- he declared he 'couldn't agree more' with the sentiment that some of the people from that region were openly racist.
"You know, I think you may have noticed that Senator Obama's supporters have been saying some pretty nasty things about Western Pennsylvania lately," McCain told the audience in the town of Moon Township. "And you know, I couldn't agree with them more."
Oops. It was, in many ways, a reflection of how tired these candidates have become as this nearly two-year-long campaign hits its final strides. And, to be fair, the crowd eventually got the point; booing at the reference to John Murtha, who said last week that some of his Western Pennsylvania constituents were racist. But there was a stunned silence after the gaffe.
For political humorists it is gold, made even more potent by McCain's botched attempt at a recovery. "I couldn't disagree with you," he declared (referencing what, no one knows). "I couldn't agree with you more than the fact that Western Pennsylvania is the most patriotic, most god-loving, most, most patriotic part of America, and this is a great part of the country."
The line was reminiscent of Sarah Palin touting the pro-America parts of the country. And actually could be just as politically dicey than the inadvertent labeling of Western Pennsylvanians as racists.
Either way, the video is worth a watch... or three.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Someone slashed the tires of at least 30 vehicles parked outside the Crown Coliseum on Sunday during a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, authorities said.
Sheriff’s deputies are investigating. The tires were cut while people were inside the Crown Coliseum listening to speeches, said Maj. E. Wright of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.
Many of the damaged vehicles were parked on Wilkes Road. Representatives from Obama and Sen. John McCain’s campaigns said they were unaware of the acts.
Susan Lagana, the North Carolina communications director for Obama, said it was extremely disappointing and unfortunate that “people would have to experience something like that.”
Mario Diaz, communications director for McCain, did not respond to a call late Sunday.
Sarah Revis, who lives on Wilkes Road, said the slashed tires left several women, including a single mother and a toddler, stranded and upset. At least four tow trucks were sent to move the vehicles from the Crown, Revis said.
“This is an embarrassment to this city and to me as a citizen,” Revis said. “I’ve seen women out here crying and men cussing. This is a crying shame.”
Lynne Steenstra said she thought that the slashings were scare tactics designed to keep her and others from supporting Obama.
Even though it cost her roughly $120 to get her Dodge Caravan towed and fixed, Steenstra said the act would not intimidate her from voting.
“It hasn’t deterred us one bit,” Steenstra said. “It has only encouraged us more. I just hope whoever did this pays the price.”
Staff writer Corey G. Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 323-4848, ext. 487.
Early voters in North Carolina, most of whom were black, were heckled and mocked by McCain supporters as they cast their ballots Sunday. According to Washington Times reporter Christina Bellatoni primarily white McCain supporters shouted "terrorist" and complained that "Sundays are for church not voting"
Sen. Barack Obama has set up a massive organization across the country, and especially in North Carolina...An organizer at the rally rattled off the addresses of early vote sites nearby that would be open after the event.
Photographer Joe Eddins and I headed over to the closest one and found a steady line of voters hoping to cast ballots early. Most seemed to be Obama supporters and several had come from the rally. Nearly all the voters were black.
Also at the polling site was a group of loud and angry protesters who shouted and mocked the voters as they walked in. Nearly all were white.
And in Fayettville, NC someone slashed the tires of at least 30 vehicles parked outside the Crown Coliseum on Sunday during a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, authorities said.
Sheriff’s deputies are investigating. The tires were cut while people were inside the Crown Coliseum listening to speeches, said Maj. E. Wright of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. The slashings left women and children stranded as they waited for tow trucks but even though it cost her roughly $120 to get her Dodge Caravan towed and fixed, Obama supporter Lynne Steenstra said :
It hasn’t deterred us one bit. It has only encouraged us more. I just hope whoever did this pays the price.
Anchor Rick Sanchez said Zubairi was "ready and willing" to talk, but "the McCain camp won't let him do so."
Watch Zubairi confronting intolerant McCain fans at the rally:
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
A billboard in West Plains showing a caricature of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama wearing a turban and using his middle name -- Hussein -- in quotes has sparked outrage and accusations of racism.
The sign, located south of West Plains on U.S. 63 across from the Dairy Queen, says: "Barack 'Hussein' Obama equals more abortions, same sex marriages, taxes, gun regulations."
Outrage over the sign triggered West Plains resident Becky Estes to write a letter in Monday's edition of the Daily Quill newspaper saying "such a tasteless display merely reinforces the wide-spread belief that Ozarkers are ignorant country bumpkins."
"People don't like it. They're embarrassed by that sign, ashamed by that sign, horrified by that sign and outraged by that sign," Estes told the News-Leader on Thursday.
Estes' letter sparked responses from locals and out-of-state former residents in Wednesday's newspaper. The person who created the sign remains anonymous.
"I can find nothing wrong with this sign/cartoon, which is truthful by Obama's own statements," wrote James E. (Jay) Gentry Jr. of Mountain Grove. "If this is upsetting to Ms. Estes, then she should do some hard thinking about what is forthcoming if he is elected."
Raymond Fine, 74, of West Plains, said the sign is a form of free speech.
"If they can burn a flag, then they can put a sign up like that," Fine told the News-Leader.
Lesa Hall, a Democratic voter from West Plains, said it's not the message she takes issue with -- it's the use of Obama's middle name and the hand-drawn picture of him wearing a white turban.
"My offense was the stereotype and the racism that I felt that the billboard presented," said Hall, a teacher at the Junction Hill Middle School.
A spokeswoman for Obama's Missouri campaign, which has an office in West Plains, dismissed the sign as a distraction.
"Missouri voters aren't going to fall for these kinds of distractions," said spokeswoman Jean Weinberg. "The stakes are too high in this election."
Obama has said he supports a women's right to choose whether to abort an unwanted pregnancy, but opposes same-sex marriage. He does support civil unions to give equal legal rights and privileges to those couples, including access to a partner's health care benefits, property and adoption rights.
Obama's tax proposals call for a tax hike on the richest 5 percent, but tax cuts for all other workers.
On the subject of gun control, the Illinois senator has voted against conceal carry weapons laws, voted to ban certain types of guns used for hunting and supported increasing federal taxes on ammunition, according to his congressional and state senate voting records.
Throughout the presidential campaign, Obama has fought Internet rumors that he's Muslim. Hussein, an Arabic name commonly associated with the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, is Obama's middle name. His Kenyan father was Muslim, but Obama grew up in a Christian family.
Howell County Democrats are upset about the sign.
"Not only is it lying, but it's also in poor taste," said Jim Vokac, president of the Howell County Democrats Club. "It certainly is free speech, but it's poor taste. It does reflect poorly on the area."
Hatred and Ignorance is burning into the McCain campaign. McCain rallies have become a mixture of Limbaugh, Hannity and O'Reilly ideals and values meaning that is has become racist, xenophobic and comprised only of lies and smears. They have become hate fests and are looking more and more like clan rallies.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
The Calgary Sun
CALGARY -- The suspect in an allegedly race-motivated attack on a Japanese tourist was denied bail yesterday.
Youth court Judge Richard O'Gorman said surveillance video in which an apparent member of the white supremacist group Aryan Guard sprints after the woman was enough to convince him to detain the accused.
"To me the video was quite compelling," said O'Gorman of footage in which a male smashes a beer bottle on the ground before chasing after the victim in a downtown Calgary alley.
The 25-year-old victim was repeatedly kicked in the attack, which was not caught on tape.
Crown prosecutor Karuna Ramakrishnan had sought the teen's detention for what she says is a hate crime.
Ramakrishnan noted the accused's friend, who gave a statement to police, said members of the Aryan Guard target ethnic victims.
"He does indicate that members of the group ... go around beating up minorities and that is certainly the motivation the Crown is alleging," Ramakrishnan said of the friend, who was present during the assault.
Defence lawyer Jim Conway, who asked that his client be released on strict conditions, said the accused's beliefs should not be a factor in deciding bail.
"The young person's character is not at issue," Conway said of his 17-year-old client.
"There's some concern about the young person's beliefs ... but that is not a relevant factor," he said.
"The allegation of facts make no reference to any suggestion there was any motivation behind this incident."
The teen was arrested Sept. 3 in connection with a July 26 attack of a woman who had just left an 8 Ave. S.W. nightclub.
Her assailant had jump-kicked her in the head from behind and then kicked her some more while she was on the ground, leaving her bruised.
The accused is charged with assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon -- steel-toed combat boots were allegedly used in the attack.
At the commencement of the bail hearing last month, lead investigator Const. Ed Perkins testified he arrested the accused wearing steel-toed and soled heavy boots with red laces.
Perkins said Aryan Guard members wear white laces, but don red ones if they've drawn blood or shown a willingness to do so for the cause.
The case returns to court next week.
Dube Egwuatu told the Mail he was purchasing a cell phone when a stranger started shouting racial slurs over his shirt featuring the presidential candidate’s face and the word “Believe.”
Egwuatu zipped up his jacket and headed for his car, but as he turned it on, the gunman opened the passenger side door and shot him three times, hitting him in the face, hand and shoulder.
Egwuatu managed to drive off while bleeding and call for help. A piece of metal was removed from his jaw from the attacker’s gas-powered ball-bearing pistol, the Mail reported.
“He was telling me that he was going to kill me,” Egwuatu told the Mail. “I couldn't believe it was happening — and just because I was wearing an Obama T-shirt. He was trying to make me walk somewhere quieter, saying: ‘I've got something for you,’ and ‘I'm going to kill you.’”
Local police are still looking for the gunman.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Police said they weren't sure what precipitated the attack Tuesday afternoon. Sgt. Harry Baumann said Richard Giga, accused in the attack, had been drinking and just had an argument with his mother.
Baumann said Giga also had fought with his former girlfriend, having burned her belongings in the family's outdoor fireplace.
Giga had left the house and was walking when he encountered the three males, police said.
"He didn't know them, as far as we know, and we don't know of any provocation," Baumann said. The attacker "just went off the wall," he said.
The three Nanuet residents - ages 15, 17 and 20 - were walking on South Little Tor Road near Pasta Cuccina at 3 p.m. when the attack occurred, Baumann said.
Giga is accused of first slamming his body into the 20-year-old, then punching the 15-year-old in the head while screaming anti-Hispanic slurs, Baumann said.
He is further accused of forcing all three against a rock wall and demanding their cell phones and personal belongings while still spewing slurs, Baumann said. As the incident escalated, the 17-year-old called police on his cell phone, Baumann said.
Giga is accused of then going after the teen, putting him in a headlock, grabbing the cell phone and breaking it into two pieces, Baumann said. Police found the broken phone in bushes nearby.
The 17-year-old was taken to Nyack Hospital for evaluation, police said. The left side of his head was swollen and discolored, Baumann said. His injuries were not considered serious.
Giga of Birch Lane, New City, was charged with one count of second-degree robbery, two counts of third-degree robbery and two counts of second-degree assault, all felonies; three counts of unlawful imprisonment and one count of third-degree criminal mischief, both misdemeanors; and second-degree harassment, a violation.
Giga was being held yesterday in the county jail with bail set at $25,000, pending a hearing Monday in Clarkstown Town Court.
The incident could go before a county grand jury.
Reach Steve Lieberman at email@example.com or 845-578-2443.
ATTLEBORO (WBZ) ― A middle school student was the victim of what appears to be a racial attack while riding the school bus home Friday afternoon, according to a newspaper report.
The Sun Chronicle reported that a seventh grade boy from the Wamsutta Middle School in Attleboro was allegedly held down, kicked and punched by a group of students when he wouldn't move from the back of the bus. The attackers were also uttering racial slurs to the boy, according to the paper.
The father of the young boy sent an e-mail to the school, saying their son was attacked because of the color of his skin, the paper reports.
School Business Manager Marc Furtado told the paper that they are taking the incident seriously "This is something that's not OK under any circumstances," he said.
Furtado told the paper that the incident started when the group of students told the seventh grader to leave the back of the bus, and when he refused, the group sat on him.
Furtado also told the Chronicle that one of the attackers later admitted to using a racial slur.
According to a police report obtained by the paper, the student was the victim of another attack that did not involve a school bus.
The students involved in the bus fight have had their bus privileges taken away.
The remarks - which the landlady has denied making - amounted to racial discrimination in housing, the Fair Employment and Housing Commission said in a ruling last week.
The tenant, Dante Lemons, said he was sitting on the front porch of the Maryland Apartments at 3301 Telegraph Ave. in the spring or early summer of 2005, listening to the radio, when apartment co-owner Marlene O'Neill told him no loitering was allowed. When Lemons pointed out that he lived there, he said, O'Neill, who is white, replied that he shouldn't be outside and was turning the place into a ghetto.
Lemons said he had brushed off the incident at his wife's suggestion. However, O'Neill said the same thing when she saw him on the front steps another time, swore at him and unplugged his radio, Lemons said.
When he saw the landlady arguing with another black tenant in November 2005 and refused her order to return to his apartment, Lemons said, O'Neill asked, "What's wrong with you people?" and used a racial slur.
Lemons and his wife, Chanel Williams, who also complained of abuse by O'Neill, moved out with their young son in December 2005, saying they felt harassed.
O'Neill, who represented herself before the state commission, testified that she had ordered Lemons off the porch but denied calling him names or mistreating him. The commission said, however, that two other tenants with no involvement in the dispute had confirmed Lemons' account.
The damages covered the couple's increased rent at their next apartment, $22,500 for emotional distress and a $5,000 penalty.
O'Neill, who now lives in Florida, repeated her denial of the allegations in an interview this week and said she may appeal the ruling in Superior Court.
"I'd been nothing but nice to this young couple," she said. "He (Lemons) called the race card."
E-mail Bob Egelko at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared on page B - 4 of the San Francisco Chronicle
A Florida teacher was suspended after students said he used a racial epithet directed at presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Seventh-grade social studies teacher Greg Howard of Marianna Middle School was given a written reprimand on Wednesday for "racially inappropriate comments" he made in his classroom on Sept. 26, according to a Jackson County School Board news release.
Howard reportedly wrote the word CHANGE as an acronym on the board and wrote an expletive with the letter "N." The phrase he wrote has been reported as "Can You Help A (expletive) Get Elected" and "Come Help A (expletive) Get Elected." School district officials did not return calls seeking comment Thursday, and Howard could not be reached.
Kristin Collins, Staff Writer
RALEIGH - A Raleigh man who made graphic threats against national Hispanic and Islamic advocacy organizations will serve 45 days in federal prison.
Christopher Michael Szaz, 42, also must perform 100 hours of community service with an Islamic or Hispanic group, receive treatment for alcohol addiction and remain under supervision for a year, according to the sentence imposed Wednesday by U.S. Magistrate Judge James E. Gates.
Szaz pleaded guilty Tuesday to two misdemeanor charges of sending threatening e-mail to the National Council of La Raza and the Council of American-Islamic Relations, both based in Washington.
Prosecutors said he sent two e-mail messages on June 8, 2007, threatening to bomb the CAIR office and an e-mail message to La Raza on July 27, 2007, threatening to kill employees.
Janet Murgu'a, president of La Raza, said the e-mail her group received included promises to "splay" their bodies and used derogatory terms to refer to Latinos.
Murgu'a said Wednesday that she hoped Szaz's prosecution would send a message to an increasingly hostile faction of people who oppose illegal immigration.
"I think they sit down at their keyboards and they think they can write anything to anyone," Murgu'a said. "The First Amendment does not protect death threats."
Szaz, a self-employed web designer, testified this week that he had a drinking problem and sent the messages while extremely intoxicated.
Szaz, who lives with his elderly mother, asked for house arrest so he could continue to care for her. The judge declined to forgo jail time, but gave him far less than the maximum one year and allowed him to report to prison on Oct. 20 so he could participate in early voting in the presidential election.
email@example.com or 919-829-4881
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
David Richardson allegedly asked to see Jose Genao's Social Security card in March after listening to Genoa and a friend speak Spanish inside Richardson's store. Genao said Richardson complained that the majority of people who speak Spanish in Rhode Island are illegal immigrants.
Both customers are U.S. citizens. Besides apologizing, Richardson paid $500 to several charities after the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights and the Providence Human Relations Commission found probable cause that he broke city and state law.
Richardson said he apologized to get the case "over and done with" and doesn't agree with the legal findings.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
by Sito Negron
A federal judge has issued an injunction barring members of the Otero County Sheriff's Department from "unconstitutional stops, searches, seizures and discrimination" in enforcing immigration laws through the controversial Operation Stonegarden.
Posted on September 22, 2008
A federal judge has issued an injunction barring members of the Otero County Sheriff's Department from enforcing immigration laws through the controversial Operation Stonegarden.
The injunction specifically bars the department from "engaging in unlawful discriminatory activities and racial profiling for the purpose of identifying and apprehending undocumented and illegal immigrants pursuant to Operation Stonegarden."
In addition, the order bars the department from "unlawful retaliation, coercion, harassment, threats and intimidation," and tells the department not to conduct "unlawful community-wide raids targeted low-income Latino residents in Otero County."
In the summer of 2007, Otero County sheriffs deputies, using federal grant funds under the program name "Operation Stonegarden," began "a series of increasingly aggressive campaigns aimed at identifying and apprehending undocumented immigrants," claimed the Border Network for Human Rights in a lawsuit aimed at stopping the practice.
Among the allegations, although not specifically part of the lawsuit, were that the actions included stopping people at traffic checkpoints and asking for immigration status. (Click on links below the article to view the lawsuit and response from the government.)
In October, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund filed one lawsuit, and the Border Network for Human Rights, represented by the Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project filed another. Click here for background on the issue.
In May, the ACLU and MALDEF reached an agreement with the Otero sheriff's department regarding policies and procedures. Click here for background on that settlement.
Meanwhile, the other lawsuit resulated in the order signed by U.S. District Judge Martha Vazquez Friday.
In the order, Vazquez referred to claims that sheriff's deputies have been harassing residents of the community since the lawsuit's filing.
Representatives of both the Otero County Sheriff's Department and the Border Network for Human Rights were not immediately available for comment.
View the 11-page order via the link below.
Source: Newspaper Tree
Saturday, September 27, 2008
ACLU Applauds Senators Menendez and Kennedy for Bill to Protect U.S. Citizens from Unlawful Detention and Deportation
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (202) 675-2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON, DC – Last night, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) introduced legislation to protect U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents from being unlawfully detained and deported by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In the wake of sweeping immigration raids that have devastated communities across the country, the ACLU welcomes this bill, S.3594, The Protect Citizens and Residents from Unlawful Raids and Detention Act, as the first legislation to require DHS to follow due process standards in executing immigration raids.
“The Protect Citizens and Residents from Unlawful Raids and Detention Act is long overdue,” said Joanne Lin, ACLU Legislative Counsel. In recent years, immigration detention and deportation rates have grown exponentially: last year over 300,000 people were deported and over 30,000 people held in immigration detention daily. DHS’s immigration enforcement actions have been so sweeping and untargeted that they have ensnared U.S. citizens. Hundreds of U.S. citizens have been unlawfully detained by DHS, and at least one U.S. citizen was illegally deported to Mexico, a country he had never lived in. According to Lin, “These gross due process violations have occurred because there are no controls or regulations governing DHS’s conduct. This bill is a necessary antidote to DHS’s unchecked and unconstitutional immigration enforcement powers.”
The ACLU has sued DHS for illegal detaining and deporting people including U.S. citizens. One ACLU client, Pedro Guzman, a U.S. citizen born in California, was deported to Mexico in 2007. After he was deported, Mr. Guzman was forced to live on the streets, to bathe in rivers and to eat out of trash bins for several months before he was allowed to reenter his home country, the U.S. The ACLU of Southern California and the law firm of Morrison & Foerster have brought a damages action against DHS on behalf of Mr. Guzman and his mother.
"Local jail officials and federal immigration officers deported the undeportable, a United States citizen, based on appearance, prejudice and reckless failure to apply fair legal procedures," said ACLU of Southern California Legal Director Mark Rosenbaum, an attorney for Pedro Guzman and his mother. “Local law enforcement officials should do the jobs they're trained for, not enforce complicated federal immigration laws. We don't use local officials to audit IRS returns or conduct foreign wars; that's why we have a federal government. The same applies to enforcement of immigration laws.”
In another lawsuit, the ACLU, National Immigration Law Center and the National Lawyers’ Guild sued DHS for systematically denying access to counsel to workers swept up in an immigration raid. In February 2008, ICE agents descended on the premises of a printer supply company in Van Nuys, California, temporarily shutting down operations. The ACLU and other lawyers offered to represent all the arrested workers, but ICE refused to let the workers consult with immigration attorneys, both at the worksite and later at the local ICE field office in the days following the raid. Some of the workers who tried to assert their right to counsel were intimidated by ICE agents into making incriminating statements.
The ACLU, NILC and NLG had no choice but to sue DHS for violating the workers’ right to consult with immigration counsel. In March 2008, DHS settled the case and allowed immigration attorneys to sit in on the workers’ interviews with ICE officers. The workers were represented by Ahilan Arulanantham, director of immigrants’ rights and national security at the ACLU of Southern California. According to Mr. Arulanantham, “ICE enforcement actions repeatedly violated the Constitution and federal law in this case. U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents and others living in this country are entitled to a federal government that follows the law and due process.”
These ACLU lawsuits highlight the urgent need for Congress to pass legislation that curbs ICE’s unconstitutional raids, detention and deportation practices. To this end, this legislation would do the following:
* Create due process protections, such as notification of immigration charges and access to counsel and phones, during immigration enforcement efforts;
* Require DHS to implement regulations to ensure that immigration detainees are treated humanely;
* Promote “alternatives to detention” programs that are more humane and cost-effective than traditional penal-style detention;
* Establish an ICE ombudsman to investigate complaints and to create DHS accountability; and
* Provide labor protections to ensure that ICE worksite raids do not undermine labor or employment law investigations.
Nathan Johnson's girlfriend, whom 9NEWS is not naming because she's a juvenile, said "it would have to be a suicide mission," according to federal court records.
The plot is similar to that in the 1992 movie "The Bodyguard" starring actors Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston. In the movie, Costner stops an assassination attempt against Houston by spotting a weapon hidden inside a gutted-out TV camera.
Johnson, Shawn Adolf and Tharin Gartrell all thought that Obama had a suite in the third floor of the Hyatt hotel, where they were staying. In fact, Obama was staying in another Denver hotel.
The men were doing methamphetamine inside the hotel with two women on Aug. 23 discussing the plot to kill Obama, according to federal records.
Adolf said, "It would not matter if he killed Senator Obama because police would simply add a murder charge to his pending charges," according to the records.
There were seven outstanding warrants for Adolf's arrest.
The underage woman told law enforcement that Adolf also talked about using "a high-powered rifle 22-250 from a high vantage point" to shoot Obama during his acceptance speech at INVESCO Field at Mile High.
One of the other women in the room, Kay Neb, told police she believes Adolf is affiliated with the Sons of Silence white supremacist group. Neb also told police that Adolf, Johnson and Gartrell are all racists because they made racially disparaging comments about Obama.
The Sons of Silence is a motorcycle group with chapters across the country.
"We don't know these people, we are not associated with them in any way and we don't want people like this in our group," said a spokesman for Sons of Silence.
The group also says it has no ties to white supremacists.
When police searched the hotel rooms and cars the men were using, they confiscated meth, needles, laptops, cell phones, a black mask, books indicating check fraud and forgery, bags of new clothes, tactical pants and bar coupons.
Based on the evidence, FBI special agent Robert Sawyer first believed there was probable cause to believe the men were conspiring to kill Obama.
However, U.S. Attorney Troy Eid last week said that further investigation revealed insufficient evidence to indicate a "true threat," plot or conspiracy against the senator.
The men were charged with various weapons and/or drug charges.
Aurora Police found two rifles, ammunition, bulletproof vests, walkie-talkies, wigs and fake identifications in the pickup truck that Gartrell was driving when they pulled him over Aug. 24. One of the weapons was stolen from Kansas.
Police also found a Wizzinator inside the pickup truck, which is a device made of a prosthetic penis and synthetic urine to cheat on drug tests.
(Copyright KUSA*TV, All Right Reserved)
Saturday, September 20, 2008
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan is an unassuming place, more like a small-town library than a research institute. But hidden away in 17 cardboard boxes deep inside the simple facility are the papers of John Tanton, the retired Michigan opthamologist who has been the most important figure in the modern American anti-immigration movement for three decades. The papers, which include more than 20 years of letters from the founder of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and a batch of other nativist groups, contain explosive material about Tanton’s beliefs. They also show that FAIR, where Tanton still serves as a member of the board, has been well aware of Tanton’s views and activities for years.
Tanton has long claimed that he is no racist — that, in fact, he came to his immigration restrictionism through progressive concerns for population control and the environment, not disdain for the foreign born. He characterizes himself as a “fair person,” and on his website he condemns the “unsavory characters whose views can easily be characterized as anti-American, anti-Semitic and outright racist.”
Fair enough. But what do Tanton’s letters have to say?
As it turns out, quite a lot. Although Tanton has been linked to racist ideas in the past — fretting about the “educability” of Latinos, warning of whites being out-bred by others, and publishing a number of white nationalist authors — the papers in the Bentley Library show that Tanton has for decades been at the heart of the white nationalist scene. He has corresponded with Holocaust deniers, former Klan lawyers and the leading white nationalist thinkers of the era. He introduced key FAIR leaders to the president of the Pioneer Fund, a white supremacist group set up to encourage “race betterment,” at a 1997 meeting at a private club. He wrote a major funder to encourage her to read the work of a radical anti-Semitic professor — to “give you a new understanding of the Jewish outlook on life” — and suggested that the entire FAIR board discuss the professor’s theories on the Jews. He practically worshipped a principal architect of the Immigration Act of 1924 (instituting a national origin quota system and barring Asian immigration), a rabid anti-Semite whose pro-Nazi American Coalition of Patriotic Societies was indicted for sedition in 1942.
As early as 1969, Tanton showed a sharp interest in eugenics, the “science” of breeding a better human race that was utterly discredited by the Nazis, trying to find out if Michigan had laws allowing forced sterilization. His interest stemmed, he wrote in a letter of inquiry that year, from “a local pair of sisters who have nine illegitimate children between them.” Some 30 years later, he was still worrying about “less intelligent” people being allowed children, saying that “modern medicine and social programs are eroding the human gene pool.”
Throughout, FAIR — which, along with Tanton, refused repeated requests for comment for this story — has stood by its man. Its 2004 annual report praised him for “visionary qualities that have not waned one bit.” Around the same time, Dan Stein, who has led FAIR since 1988 as executive director or president and who was copied on scores of Tanton’s letters, insisted FAIR’s founder had “never asserted the inferiority or superiority of any racial, ethnic, or religious group. Never.”
Read more here: Southern Poverty Law Center
Sunday, September 14, 2008
7:13 p.m. September 11, 2008
CHULA VISTA – Police say vandals caused more than $4,000 damage to a pediatrics medical office Wednesday night, smashing computers and scrawling Nazi swastikas and anti-Hispanic graffiti on the walls.
The vandalism was discovered about 8 a.m. Thursday by employees arriving for work at Heritage Park Pediatrics on East Palomar Street near Monarch Drive, said Pamela Fish, a pediatric nurse practitioner.
“They targeted an office that serves a huge Hispanic population, and we're very concerned,” Fish said. “We had to shut down in the morning to repair the damage.”
Officer Glenn Stark said the vandals forced open a rear door to the clinic, broke open file cabinets and stole two cash boxes with an undisclosed amount of money. They smashed three laptop computers and a computer keyboard and scrawled several 9-inch Nazi swastikas and obscenities on the clinic walls.
Chula Vista police said it was the fourth time in the last two months that vandals have defaced property in the city with racist messages.
Vandals painted swastikas and the number 666 on two Berean Baptist Church vans on July 7, and on a concrete sign in front of Mater Dei Catholic High School on Aug. 1, police said.
Also, swastikas were painted Aug. 5 on a wall in the 1200 block of Turtle Cay Place, and on Aug. 19 on a building at Heritage Park, police said.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at (619) 691-5151.
By Kristin McAllister
Sunday, September 14, 2008
JEFFERSON TWP., Montgomery County — Despite living in fear of hate crimes, residents of a Jefferson Twp. neighborhood banded together Saturday during a block party in front of a home destroyed by an act of arson.
The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office sponsored the Saturday, Sept. 13, block party in front of the charred, two-story home of Saundra Ballard at 322 Albers Ave.
"I'm just really overjoyed to see the community coming out and embracing not only this event, but embracing our family," said Ballard, a nurse at Friendship Village Nursing Home. "This is what this community needs — to get back on track to let people know they're not going to put up with the nonsense and no matter what color you are, you're going to stick together and make sure that this doesn't happen."
Sheriff's deputies on July 31 arrested Earl McLearran, 39, of 304 Albers Ave., on two charges of ethnic intimidation after he allegedly yelled a racial slur at Ballard's son and threatened to burn down her house. He is being held on a $50,000 bond.
"They all are living in fear," said Sheriff Phil Plummer. "They're terrorized and said, 'We're moving. We can't handle this anymore. We can't come out on our porches. We're afraid he's going to burn us out.' That's when I said, this is ridiculous. We need to do something."
Plummer said McLearran's 16-year-old stepson and two other juveniles also are being investigated in connection with the fire.
Ballard said community strength will give pause to anyone considering committing a hate crime.
"They'll think about how many others are not with them on it, and they will think twice about doing it now," she said.
Still, Ballard said she's deeply shaken by what's happened.
"As long as that family is at the end of the street, I don't think I'll ever be safe here," she said.
Derrick L. Foward, president of the NAACP Dayton unit, said the block party is "a good start, but I do not want this block party to overshadow the severity of this crime and this family being displaced."
Foward pointed to the fact that the arson was the eighth call of deputies to Ballard's home.
"So, while this block party is a step in the right direction, we don't want to see what's happened here to have been in vain," he said. "Those responsible need to be held accountable for their actions."
Pat Hicks-Smith of the Dayton Dialogue on Race Relations said her group is striving to get neighbors together in combatting discrimination and hate crimes.
"We are hopeful that by working with the sheriff's department, we're going to be able to engage residents in a dialogue with the hope that the outcome will be an action plan to look at how they can address issues, concerns and make a difference in their neighborhood," Hicks-Smith said.
Ballard's neighbor, Agustin Peres, said block parties should be routine.
"It would be good to have one every month," he said. "It would help a lot, because everybody is on the lookout for each other."
Donations to the Ballard family may be made through a link at www.stmarydevelopment.org. An account under Ballard's name also has been set up through the Wright-Patt Credit Union.
Source: Dayton Daily News
As Angel Garcia recovers from Wednesday's school bus beating, Gary school officials announced Friday they are investigating the attack.
"Our district in no way condones racial discrimination or any acts of negative behavior," Superintendent Mary Steele-Agee said in a written statement.
Garcia, 14, an eighth-grader at Tolleston Middle School, was attacked by a bus load of fellow students Wednesday afternoon, his mother said.
The victim told Cpl. Len Miller students "surrounded him ... said they would allow no whites at the school or bus," according to a police report.
The report, which classifies the beating as a hate crime, indicates there were about five assailants, while the school system describes the incident as "a fight with three neighborhood students who Angel called his friends."
Garcia suffered a broken nose, black eye and numerous bruises.
His mother, Maylee Garcia, said she moved her family to the west side of Gary from East Chicago, Ind. to get away from a bad neighborhood.
But shortly after school began, her son balked at riding the bus. On Wednesday morning, she went to Tolleston School and spoke with a vice principal and two security guards about the harassment her son has endured since the classes began.
He was attacked on the bus ride home that afternoon.
One teen was arrested Thursday. Juvenile division detectives hoped to view a security tape from the bus to identify other attackers.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Jeffrey David Lodor, 27, of Porterville, pleaded no contest to committing an assault with a deadly weapon or using means likely to produce great bodily injury.
Lodor agreed to a five-year state prison term.
Lodor met the unidentified Templeton man while in jail and they became friends.
But after they were released and the local man made Jewish and Hispanic friends, Lodor threatened him on the social networking Web site MySpace.
Sheriff's Department investigators previously would not disclose the specifics of Lodor’s alleged threats, but said he was a known white supremacist.
— Nick Wilson
Source: San Luis Obispo
By Joseph Serna and Michael Alexander
Updated: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 4:21 PM PDT
There are No comments posted.
A Huntington Beach man has pleaded not guilty to charges that he and a friend committed a hate crime by beating and robbing a man simply for his being Latino.
Ryan Joseph Swanson, 19, of Huntington Beach, and Nicholas Gibbs, 20, of Anaheim, are charged with aggravated assault, felony battery with committing serious bodily injury, second-degree robbery, stealing a car and committing a hate crime and causing great bodily injury after allegedly knocking out 24-year-old Ryan Honeycutt and stealing his car and phone.
Swanson pleaded not guilty to all charges at his arraignment Friday afternoon.
On May 26, prosecutors say Honeycutt was drinking with a female friend in Seal Beach.
When the two went to Honeycutt’s car to leave, Honeycutt discovered his car battery had died and the girl called her friends Swanson and Gibbs to give them a jump, prosecutors said.
All four went back to the girl’s house, and while they were talking, Honeycutt mentioned that he was half El Salvadoran, prosecutors said. Authorities say Swanson and Gibbs have white supremacist tattoos and told Honeycutt they were white supremacists before luring him outside as he prepared to leave because he was uncomfortable.
The men punched Honeycutt in the head, knocking him out, then stomped on him while he was unconscious, prosecutors said.
Honeycutt suffered a fractured clavicle, a concussion and cuts on his face, prosecutors said. Swanson and Gibbs went back into the girl’s house and grabbed Honeycutt’s keys, wallet and cellphone and left with his car, prosecutors said.
His car was found abandoned in a Long Beach parking lot three days later. Swanson was declared ineligible for bail, according to jail records. He is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing Tuesday.
JOSEPH SERNA may be reached at (714) 966-4619 or at email@example.com.
219.662.5328 | Thursday, September 11, 2008 | No comments posted.
CHICAGO | White supremacist Matthew Hale continues to file pleas in Hammond federal court to overturn his conviction and 40-year sentence for soliciting an FBI informant to murder a federal judge.
Hale, 37, who is being held at a federal prison in Florence, Colo., launched a new appeal this year alleging his 2004 trial was unjust because of mistakes by his defense lawyers.
Hale was the head of the World Church of the Creator, which preaches racial holy war against minorities. A jury convicted him of taking part in a plot to kill Illinois U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow. Lefkow had ordered Hale to stop using the name World Church of the Creator for his group because it was trademarked by an Oregon-based church group.
Hale faults his lawyers for allowing blacks and an assistant dean at Northwestern University with a black live-in boyfriend to serve on the jury.
One of Hale's racist associates, Benjamin Nathaniel Smith, went on a shooting spree in 1999 that killed two minorities, including Northwestern basketball coach Ricky Birdsong.
The Seventh Circuit Court denied an earlier appeal by Hale to win a new trial. U.S. District Court Judge James Moody, who presided over Hale's trial in Hammond, has yet to rule on the new appeal.
BARRIE -- Jury members squirmed and shuffled in their seats yesterday as they looked upon a murder weapon that was used to bash in the head of a white supremacist skinhead as he lay sleeping after a drunken party.
The weapon -- a wooden baseball bat which was fondly called a "nigger stick" by its skinhead owner, Vaughn Newman -- was engraved with symbols connected to Hitler's teachings and the words "Full out hate."
The trial is delving into the death of Stephen Long, 22, of Ottawa, who was beaten to death at a Collingwood house party on April 16, 2006. Court heard Long and his friends belonged to the Hammer Heads -- a white supremacist brotherhood of skinheads against blacks, Jews and gays.
On trial for first-degree murder is Christopher Broughton, 29, of Hamilton, who the jury heard was hoping to be accepted by the skinheads.
Brad Genno, 27, a Hammer Head from Toronto, testified he drove to the Collingwood party with Long and Broughton. He said he saw Broughton get into a fight with some of the partiers.
The next morning he awoke on a couch to the sight of Broughton standing in front of him with the bat, so he fled.
"I bolted," said Genno. "I was, shocked ... afraid."
When he returned, police and paramedics were already there and Long was lying in a pool of blood on the floor.
Defence lawyer Michael Lacy suggested his client, Broughton, was involved in more than "just a fight" and that he was beaten, dragged by his feet, kicked in the head, stomped on, then made to kneel down and apologize for showing disrespect.
"I'm not sure about all of that," said Genno, who testified that he was drunk at the time.
"I've tried to black out the memory of that night for the past two years."
The trial continues Tuesday.
Friday, September 12, 2008
"The ruling is disappointing, but not surprising," said SPLC President Richard Cohen, who testified before Congress last year in support of the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act. "It's a sad reminder that justice delayed is, too often, justice denied.
"Charles Moore and Henry Dee were killed during a time when there simply was no justice for African Americans in the South. The whole criminal justice system — from the police, to the prosecutors, to the juries and to the judges — was perverted by racial bigotry. Were it not for the callous indifference of white law enforcement officials, Seale would have been in jail long ago and the statute of limitations would not have mattered."
Moore and Dee are among the 40 martyrs whose names are inscribed on the Civil Rights Memorial adjacent to the SPLC's office in Montgomery, Ala.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Rio Grande Valley resident David Hernandez fought back tears as he described the difficulties he had applying for a passport.
BROWNSVILLE, September 10 - Nine U.S. citizens from the Rio Grande Valley are suing the federal government, claiming they were discriminated against when applying for a passport.
Attorneys representing the nine plaintiffs say roadblocks were put up by the State Department because the citizens have a Hispanic surname and were born to a midwife.
On Tuesday, plaintiffs David Hernandez from San Benito and Juan Aranda from Weslaco spoke before a group of community members and media to share their story and explain the basis of the lawsuit.
They were joined by attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union, Washington, D.C.-based Hogan & Hartson LLP, Refugio del Rio Grande, Inc., of San Benito, and the Rev. Mike Seifert of San Felipe de Jesus Catholic Church in Cameron Park.
The case involves Mexican American citizens who have applied for passports in advance of next year’s policy change, when passports will be required to travel to Mexico by land.
The State Department says it has tightened up security since 9/11 and vets the applications thoroughly because the Valley has a higher than average number of midwives who have been convicted of fraud.
Introducing the case, Robin Goldfaden, of the ACLU’s Immigration Rights Project, stated that “there was a clear pattern to the problem faced, and who was facing that problem: Mexican Americans delivered by a midwife in a Southwest border state, and Texas in particular.”
The state department lumped people in this category together, Goldfaden said, and subjected them to “unreasonable, burdensome and excessive demands for evidence of their birth in the United States, evidence which few people would actually possess” when they applied for a passport.
Attorney Lisa Brodyaga with Refugio del Valley explained that the types of documents requested by the government ranged from “easy to obtain, such as baptismal records, to difficult, to impossible.” Some institutions do not exist anymore, such as old schools or clinics, making some records impossible to acquire for elderly people.
Following the surge in passport applications for border residents who want to travel to Mexico, Refugio staff encountered a surge at their doorstep of those “who had received letters from the Department of State saying that their applications had been closed, or ‘filed without action’ because they either did not respond to the demand for these documents or they did not respond fully.”
Goldfaden said the applicants spent a great deal of time, effort, and money obtaining documents that were not being required of other applicants. She said the applicants were not specific with details of how to remedy the situation, thereby leaving the applicant with no passports and no hope of obtaining one.
“The constitution would not allow this,” Goldfaden said. “The state violated the law in three areas: it is a violation of due process – people should be judged by a fair, proper, non-arbitrary standard – a violation of equal protection, and it is arbitrary and capricious.” The government is clearly breaking the law, the attorney claimed.
“What the lawsuit seeks is a fair and legal process, in a way that is fair, non-discriminatory, individualized, and under the proper scrutiny that all other applicants are given,” Goldfaden said.
Seifert said he fully supports the legal proceedings of those filing suit. A few months back he held a community meeting on the subject and expected half a dozen people to show up. Instead, dozens filled the room to tell their “horror” about applying for passports. Seifert said the residents were angered at the way they were treated by the State Department.
“We put up with a lot, but we don’t put up with being humiliated. I think that’s been the sense of people who made these applications – they’re giving up on the process” because they’re being targeted for being born to midwives, meaning that family was too poor to afford to go to the hospital.
As the parish priest, Seifert hears a lot of anguish from his parish, such as families not being able to “see grandmother,” or “go to the doctor.” Seifert added: “It’s a blow to the heart of our community, not to mention the financial difficulties.”
Hernandez and Aranda told similar stories of how difficult it was to apply for a U.S. passport. Hernandez was born and baptized in San Benito, Texas, to a midwife, and has spent nearly his whole life in the U.S. He asserted that he is “a lawful abiding taxpayer,” who has “social security” and is “a registered voter.” He always thought he was an American citizen, and had no reason to ever question that until he applied for a passport in light of new laws requiring passports for travel between Mexico and Texas.
“I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of American,” he said, holding back the tears. He said he has repeated that phrase all his life, and feels pride in his country. “I served my country in the Army and have worked ever since.” He feels he is a model citizen.
Along with many others this year, Hernandez applied for a passport to travel outside the country. He has family in Monterrey he would like to visit. He received a letter stating that he was not being granted a passport. “I rarely travel to Mexico but I would like to travel whenever I want. If they’re doing this to me then I’m sure they’re doing it to a lot of citizens,” Hernandez said.
Aranda, from Weslaco, has lived in the Valley his whole life. He said he is proud to be an American. “I support my troops and teach my kids to be proud to be American,” he said. Aranda applied for his passport because he does work in three states in Mexico and because “Mexico is part of our culture.” His family goes there regularly, especially on weekends.
After applying for a passport, Aranda said he received a letter requesting more information. He said he can’t believe the government refuses to believe his birth certificate. It has made him wonder about what his citizenship really is – he knows he’s an American, but his own country is denying him a passport. Aranda just wants to be treated fairly.
Lisa Graybill, legal director with ACLU Texas, believes this case is worthy of her group’s attention because of its clear injustice. “Although our office is based in Austin we’re very connected to this area and to doing more work here on the border, so we’re honored to be here and work with these folks.”
Adam Levin, of the law firm Hogan & Hartson, came to the Valley with colleague Melissa Henke. Levin said his firm has “a long tradition of service to the community and free legal service.” All six attorneys involved in the case said they are committed to winning this cause.
Anyone in a similar situation who would like to be part of the lawsuit should call 415-343-0784, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can be obtained at www.aclu.org.
Source: Rio Grande Guardian