Chances are good that you have heard of Tamir Rice. He is the 12-year-old boy who was shot and killed by a police officer in Cleveland on November 22, 2014. If you read, watched, or listened to the national news in the days following the shooting, you probably know Tamir had a gun that turned out to be a toy gun. You have probably seen the video that shows the police car pulling up in front of him and the two policemen getting out of the car, real guns in hand., killing Tamir within seconds. You may even have seen the extended video footage released in January 2015, in which Tamir’s sister arrives on the scene and is thrown to the ground and handcuffed.
But did you know that the Tamir Rice case is not listed in the federal government’s official record of homicides by police officer? The Cleveland Police Department didn’t submit the data to the FBI. Because they are not required to.
The Police Reporting of Information, Data and Evidence (PRIDE) Act, a Senate bill (S. 1476) introduced by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), could change that. The PRIDE Act would bring transparency and accountability to law enforcement agencies nationwide by requiring states to report to the Justice Department on any incident in which a law enforcement officer is involved in a shooting, and any other instance where use of force by or against a law enforcement officer or civilian results in serious bodily injury or death.
There is also a PRIDE Act bill in the House of Representatives (H.R. 3481), introduced on September 10, 2015 and sponsored by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20).
BORDC/DDF supports grassroots activism to protect and advance Constitutional rights. Join the movement! Please reach us at [email protected] Here are some organizing highlights from around the country:
Shahina Parveen is November Patriot Award Winner
BORDC’s Patriot Award for November 2015 goes to Shahina Parveen, an organizer with DRUM-South Asian Organizing Center. Shahina had no experience with activism or organizing work before 2004. That is when her son, Shahawar Matin Siraj, was arrested after being targeted and entrapped by the New York Police Department for an alleged plot to attack the Herald Square subway station. She is now a leader in the movement to hold law enforcement accountable and working for immigrant rights. Read more.
Anti-Muslim Rallies Met With Protest at UNC Chapel Hill
A counter-protest was organized by students, staff and faculty of UNC, which was joined by BORDC/DDF allies including the Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia and Jewish Voice for Peace. Counter-protesters greatly outnumbered the pro-Confederacy groups, holding signs that said “Against White Supremacy. Screw the Klan, the confederacy, and the cops.” Read more.
Who Polices the Police in Berkeley?
Long-time community activist and BORDC ally,George Lippman, sits on the Police Review Commission, a body that the community fought hard for forty years ago. Lippman views his role on the PRC as a continuation of his activism, working to ensure that the institution lives up to its mission. A proactive Police Review Commission plays an important role in stepping up whenever the police go too far, whether in reviewing the police response to Black Lives Matter protests or stopping runaway racial profiling. Read more.
NC Families of Victims Killed by Police Join Protest in NYC
BORDC grassroots partners in North Carolina traveled to New York last month to attend protests as part of Rise Up October. Participants included families and supporters of victims killed by police. Read more.
BORDC/DDF is your voice in the Nation’s Capitol. We advocate and agitate in Congress and with the Executive branch. Here are just a few of the issues we raised last month:
Once Again, Congress Sacrifices Privacy to Get Fake Security
On Tuesday, October 27, the Senate passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) on a vote of 74-21 (roll call here). Civil liberties, consumer rights, and privacy groups have been fighting against similar legislation, and defeating it for over five years. Today’s vote comes despite the opposition of tech companies, cyberlaw professors, and hundreds of thousands of everyday people who called, emailed, and even faxed their lawmakers in protest. Read more.
BORDC/DDF Tells ISPAB That FBI “Going Dark Initiative” Chills Speech
Defending Dissent Legal Fellow Chip Gibbons gave the members of the Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board a history lesson on October 24, reminding them of the various ways the FBI has used surveillance tools in the past to subvert social and political movements, and urging them to oppose any effort from the FBI to impose mandatory “back doors” to encrypted data. His testimony was well received, prompting questions and discussion among the Board members. James Baker, FBI General Counsel did not fare as well. Read more.
How Many Americans Are Being Swept Up in the FISA Dragnet?
The Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the Defending Dissent Foundation, and more than 30 other privacy and civil liberties organizations, urged Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper to determine and disclose how many Americans are swept up in NSA surveillance under a law that authorizes the agency to target foreigners overseas. It’s the first salvo in a campaign to force Section 702 to sunset in 2017 by exposing how it has been used, and abused by the FBI and NSA. Read more.
Is the First Amendment in need of a tune-up? A federal judge recently ruled that for-profit, booze-fueled swinger sex parties are not constitutionally protected. “The First Amendment claims [by the defendants] fail because the swingers’ activity documented in the record—namely, participating in sexual encounters with others in the hotel’s bar—is not protected by the First Amendment,” Judge Michael Shea of the U.S. District Court in Connecticut said in his decision. Read more.
There Once Was a REAL First Amendment Defense Act
Nearly 200 members of Congress have signed onto a bill called the “First Amendment Defense Act.” At first glance this might sound like good news. After decades of FBI and local law enforcement infiltrating and spying on nonviolent political groups, the crackdown on Occupy Wall Street, the monitoring by DHS of Black Lives Matter, and the systematic singling out of Muslims for surveillance for no reason other than their faith, the First Amendment could use a defender right about now. Read more
Water Dousing vs. Waterboarding: A “Distinction Without a Difference”
To this date, the CIA maintains that it only subjected three detainees to waterboarding—one of the most discredited forms of torture used by the US government in the last decade. However after further review of last year’s Senate Torture Report, along with new lawsuits and documents, it seems that the CIA water torture program is more expansive than previously thought. Read more.
Police Body Cams: Complaints Down, Arrests Up
Here comes the data. Several recent studies examined the effects body cameras have on police behavior, shedding some much needed light on this emerging trend. In cities as diverse as Phoenix, Orlando, Denver, and San Diego, researchers found that while the number of complaints against officers often dropped when cameras are rolling, other findings suggest that BWCs are easily subverted and could create unanticipated problems for those on the other end of the camera lens. Read more.
NYPD: Bad to Your Bones
The headlines are full of warnings about the dangers of eating hot dogs and deli meats. But what about the risks posed by the New York Police Department’s use of secretive X-ray vans that make a mockery of the Constitution and jeopardize your health? Read more.
To help encourage outreach, public education, and grassroots mobilization, BORDC/DDF provides microgrants to grassroots coalitions pursuing local campaigns to advance civil rights and civil liberties.
- Grants up to $500 are available to help active coalitions expand their local visibility and/or host events. To apply for a grant please email the BORDC/DDF Organizing Team.
- Local Civil Rights Restoration Act—take action locally against police abuses
- FOIA Yourself!—all you need to know to submit a FOIA or Public Records Act demand