TIME justice

Parents of Slain Missouri Teen Plead for Justice

Lesley McSpadden, the mother of 18-year-old Michael Brown, wipes away tears as Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., holds up a family picture of himself and his son during a news conference on August 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.
Jeff Roberson—AP Lesley McSpadden, the mother of 18-year-old Michael Brown, wipes away tears as Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., holds up a family picture of himself and his son during a news conference on August 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.

"He was a good boy, he didn’t deserve none of this"

As the parents of an unarmed black teenager who was fatally shot by police in a St. Louis suburb publicly appealed for justice, the FBI opened a civil rights inquiry and Attorney General Eric Holder promised a “thorough, fair investigation” into the shooting that has erupted into a national debate.

“I just wish I could have been there to help him,” Lesley McSpadden, the mother of 18-year-old Michael Brown, said at a news conference in Ferguson, Mo. Monday. She broke down crying as she spoke, an enlarged photo of her firstborn in her hands.

“He was funny, silly, he could make you laugh.. He was a good boy, he didn’t deserve none of this,” his father, Mike Brown Sr., said. “We want justice for our son.”

The shooting has sparked outrage in Ferguson, a predominantly African-American city of some 21,000 people northwest of St. Louis. Sunday night protests led to violence, with several local businesses damaged in looting and unrest. Tempers continued to flare Monday, with police using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds that gathered the site of a convenience store burned the night before, according to the Associated Press.

Earlier in the day, members of Brown’s family tried to dissuade protesters from turning to violence.

“Why would you burn your community?,” Lesley McSpadden, Brown’s grandfather, said. “Why? This should not be his legacy.”

Attorney Benjamin Crump said the family wants a full investigation into the death of the teenager, who was killed Saturday afternoon in an altercation with police. “I don’t want to sugar coat it, their baby was executed in broad daylight,” Crump said. “Our children deserve the dignity and respect of law enforcement when they’re walking down the street.”

Authorities said there was a struggle over an officer’s weapon, though witnesses have disputed that account. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said Monday that an autopsy showed Brown had been struck by multiple gunshots. The location of the bullets has not been disclosed. Officials have said they will reveal the identity of the officer who shot Brown by Tuesday afternoon.

“These parents know in their heart, and they reject what the police department said how this played out,” Crump said.

Holder promised Monday that the incident would receive a “fulsome review,” with the FBI and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division working in conjunction with local officers. “The federal investigation will supplement, rather than supplant, the inquiry by local authorities,” Holder said in a statement. “At every step, we will work with the local investigators, who should be prepared to complete a thorough, fair investigation in their own right.”

Brown’s shooting is the latest recent, high-profile incident of an African American dying at the hands of police. On Aug. 5, a 22-year-old holding a BB gun inside an Ohio Walmart was fatally shot by officers after allegedly failing to drop the weapon. Last month in New York City, Eric Garner died mid-arrest after allegedly being placed in a chokehold by police officers responding to a nuisance call. And the death of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Florida teen who was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in 2012, continues to reverberate. Crump represented Martin’s relatives and said Monday that the teen’s father, Tracy Martin, reached out to Brown’s family.

Missouri lawmakers, meanwhile, called for a “transparent understanding” of the events that led to Brown’s death.

“As a mother, I grieve for this child and his family,” Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill said in a statement. “I pray that the wonderful, hardworking, and God-loving people of Ferguson will find peace and patience as we wait for the results of what will be numerous and thorough investigations of what happened.”

Republican Senator Roy Blunt said in a statement Brown’s recent graduation from high school “should have been a beginning of better things. Everyone deserves a transparent understanding of what happened here.”

— With reporting by Kristina Sauerwein / Ferguson, Mo.

TIME New York

Photos: Mourners Remember Slain Rabbi

Rabbi Joseph Raksin of Brooklyn, N.Y., was shot several times Saturday on his way to a synagogue in North Miami Beach while he was in town visiting family members. Authorities say the incident was not a hate crime and was likely a robbery gone bad

TIME Courts

Same-Sex Marriage Ban Survives Challenge in Tennessee

First such prohibition to withstand a constitutional challenge since June 2013

Tennessee’s same-sex marriage ban has survived a constitutional challenge in court, the first prohibition to withstand such a challenge in almost 14 months.

Roane County Circuit Judge Russell Simmons ruled that “neither the Federal Government nor another state should be allowed to dictate to Tennessee what has traditionally been a state’s responsibility,” in ruling from last Tuesday, SCOTUSblog reports.

More than two dozen federal and state court rulings since the Supreme Court’s United States v. Windsor decision in June 2013 have successfully challenged and/or nullified bans. Simmons’ ruling rejects both a claim of discrimination and a claim that the Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause forces the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

“The Supreme Court does not go the final step and find that a state that defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman is unconstitutional,” Simmons wrote. “Further, the Supreme Court does not find that one state’s refusal to accept another state’s valid same-sex marriage to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution.”

Simmons’ ruling only formally addressed and upheld the part of Tennessee’s ban that doesn’t recognize pre-existing same-sex marriages from other states, though this aspect is now being reviewed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

[SCOTUSblog]

TIME Fundraising

The Ice Bucket Challenge Takes Over Social Media

Viral campaign has raised over $1.35 million for the ALS Association

Social media networks have been taken over by the ice bucket challenge, an online effort to raise money for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, charities. ALS, often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a neurodegenerative disease.

The challenge entails an individual dumping a bucket of ice water on themselves while recording it, and then posting the video on Facebook while tagging the people they would like to challenge next. Those individuals are then challenged to either do the same or donate $100 to the ALS Association.

Notable participants in the challenge include Martha Stewart, The Fault In Our Stars actor Ansel Elgort, and a mass group in the city of Boston.

The challenge has been heralded as successful thus far, with over $1.35 million raised for the ALS Association since the campaign began.

TIME faith

LGBT Americans Less Likely to Be Religious

While 41% of non-LGBT Americans identify as highly religious, only 24% of LGBT Americans feel the same

Lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Americans are far less likely to identify as religious than non-LGBT people in the U.S., according to new Gallup poll.

Only 24% of LGBT Americans identify as “highly religious” — meaning that religion is an important part of daily life and services are attended weekly or almost weekly — compared with 41% of non-LGBT Americans. For LGBT Americans, 47% identify as nonreligious, while only 30% of non-LGBT Americans do.

One common explanation behind the disparity is that LGBT Americans may feel less welcome to participate in religious congregations or organizations, although religious groups have become more accepting in recent years. According to the Public Religion Research Institute, same-sex marriage was opposed by most religious groups as recently ago as 2003. Today, a majority of Jewish Americans, white mainline Protestants, and white and Hispanic Catholics support marriage equality.

Other explanations are demographic: LGBT Americans may be more likely to live in cities, where religious participation is less frequent. The population of self-identified LGBT Americans also skews younger, and young people are the least likely to be religious in the country. The poll, however, notes that age structure alone doesn’t explain it all — young LGBT Americans are still less religious than non-LGBT Americans within the same age bracket.

Other findings include:

  • While 83% of non-LGBT Americans identify with a particular religion, only 67% of LGBT adults do.
  • While 66% of non-LGBT Americans say religion is important in their daily lives, only half of LGBT Americans feel the same way.
  • More than half of the non-LGBT population in the country is Protestant, but only 35% of LGBT adults identify as the same.
  • 42% of non-LGBT Americans attend services regularly, while roughly a quarter of LGBT Americans do.

The data was collected during 104,000 interviews conducted between January and July of this year. A total of 3,242 adults interviewed identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

TIME justice

FBI to Probe Police Shooting of Unarmed Missouri Teen

Demonstrators took to the streets of a St. Louis suburb Monday to protest the fatal shooting Saturday of an unarmed black teenager by police, as officials appealed for calm after a night of riots and the FBI said it would investigate the incident.

“Ferguson police show us no respect,” Chanel Ruffin, 25, said during the protest. “They harass black people all the time.”

“This is a terrible tragedy,” Ferguson, Mo., police chief Tom Jackson said Monday on CNN as protesters marched. “Nobody wanted this to happen but what we want to do is we want to heal. We want to build trust with the community and part of that is to have a transparent, open investigation, conducted by outside party.”

The protests Monday remained mostly peaceful, in contrast to the looting that took place Sunday night. A spokesman for the family of the teenager, Michael Brown, told media outlets his family wants “justice.” A list of demands being circulated among protestors Monday was much broader, calling for, among other things, a more diverse police force and that the officer who shot Brown be identified, fired and charged with murder. In a sign of the growing national attention focused on the small town, the hacking group Anonymous hacked Ferguson’s website on Sunday night.

Jackson said he understood the concerns of demonstrators and that a full, independent probe would help the community move forward. The FBI informed Jackson on Monday that it will investigate, the Associated Press reports. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, among other officials, had called for such an investigation.

“It is vital that the facts about this case are gathered in a thorough, transparent and impartial manner, in which the public has complete confidence,” Nixon said.

Attorney General Eric Holder also released a statement saying the FBI and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division will work in conjunction with local officers to conduct a thorough investigation.

“The federal investigation will supplement, rather than supplant, the inquiry by local authorities,” Holder said in a statement. “At every step, we will work with the local investigators, who should be prepared to complete a thorough, fair investigation in their own right. “

It remains unclear—and a matter of hot dispute—what led to the shooting Saturday of Brown, 18. Police say the teenager had assaulted an officer and reached for his gun. Many in community are skeptical of that account.

In downtown historic Ferguson on Monday morning, hundreds of protestors gathered around the Ferguson Police Department demanding justice for Brown, who they called a “gentle giant.” With raised hands in the air, people shouted “Don’t shoot me.”

Some protesters were peaceful. Others got in police officers’ faces, screaming obscenities and crossing police lines. Officers shouted “cuff him” while arresting at least a half-dozen protesters. Most protesters dispersed after a couple hours.

As news of the protests spread via social media, people of all races came from the region—one more than 60 miles—for a second, impromptu anti-police protest, this time in front of a burnt and looted convenience store. Protesters said they heard about the earlier demonstrations and drove to Ferguson to support to Brown’s family and the community.

Police in riot gear stayed mostly quiet as protesters shouted “no justice, no peace” and drivers honked in support. Police were not addressing the crowds.

The shooting has come at a time of heightened scrutiny across the country over police tactics and racial disparities in the criminal justice system. But Jackson resisted comparisons to other cases.

“This case, I know it seems like it’s similar to others, but what I would really hope is that we could allow the investigation to play out,” said Jackson, who, in an indicator of how hot tensions are running, reported being shot at himself Sunday night in a local Walmart parking lot.

The riots Sunday night in Ferguson left a trail of destruction, with cars vandalized, stores looted and walls spray-painted. More than 30 rioters were arrested, and police said two of their officers were injured.

“People were acting out of emotions,” Ruffin said. “There are a lot of people hurting. I’m not saying what they did was right. … We want justice.”

Police were on hand Monday to keep order.

“We can’t have another night like last night,” Jackson said on CNN. “So we hope it doesn’t happen, but we’re prepared for the worst.

About 130 police formed a line, in riot gear, as protesters chanted “we’re not stupid. We ‘re not stupid.” Protesters formed their own line with their hands up, crying out things like “don’t shoot me” and “you got to stop killing our people.” Brice Johnson, 27, held up a sign that read: “Please do not shoot. My hands are up. RIP Mike Brown.”

Police arrested at least half-a-dozen people who did not disperse.

“This is a terrible tragedy,” Jackson, the police chief, said of the shooting. “Nobody wanted this to happen, but what we want to do is we want to heal, we want to build trust with the community. And part of that is to have a transparent, open investigation, conducted by outside party.”

-Kristina Sauerwein reported from Ferguson, Mo.

 

TIME Race

Twitter Users Ask What Photo Media Would Use #IfTheyGunnedMeDown

The hashtag emerged as a response to the media portrayal of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black male who was fatally shot by police in Missouri Saturday

The streets of Ferguson, Mo. erupted in protest this weekend following the fatal police shooting of unarmed, black teenager Michael Brown on Saturday. But an organized form of protest quickly emerged on social media as well, aiming to address a rhetorical question that resonates among some in the African American community: “If they gunned me down,” what picture would the media use to represent me?

The viral #IfTheyGunnedMeDown hashtag was a response to how Brown was initially portrayed in the media. Rather than using photographs of the 18-year-old, reportedly known to his friends as a “gentle giant”, in a graduation picture or in a sports team, many outlets used the following visual:

The photo led to unsubstantiated tweets calling Brown a “thug” who was flashing “gang signs” — with many noting that similar images of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen shot by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in Feb. 2012, elicited a similar response after they were used by the media.

In frustration at what they see as media reliance on menacing stereotypes, Twitter users have been posting contrasting images of themselves on social media, tagged with #IfTheyGunnedMeDown. So a photo of a minority male reading to children in army fatigues, for example, might be juxtaposed with that same man in a chain necklace mugging for the camera. Men and women of color have been posting images, but the message is being spread by concerned people regardless of race.

Here’s a collection of some of the trending tweets:

TIME 2014 Election

Judge Allows North Carolina Voting Law to Hold During Midterms

Voter Laws
Andrew Dye—AP Rob Stephens, a field secretary with the North Carolina NAACP, escorts Rosanell Eaton, a plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging the new North Carolina voting law, out of the Ward Federal building during lunch recess on Monday, July 7, 2014 in Winston-Salem, N.C. The U.S. Justice Department is asking a federal judge in North Carolina to put sweeping changes to the state's voting laws on hold through the November election. The Justice Department argues the Republican-backed measures are designed to suppress turnout at the polls among minorities, the elderly and college students.

The voting law, which has been called one of the most egregious in recent history, will stand trial next summer

A federal judge ruled Friday against a petition by the Justice Department and civil rights group to block North Carolina’s expansive voting law from taking effect before November’s election, writing there was not enough evidence that it would cause “irreparable harm” if it remained in effect.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder said in his opinion that though the plaintiff’s raised plausible claims against the 2013 law, there was no need for an injunction on the law while the issue was litigated in the courts. The state’s request to dismiss the case altogether was also denied, and it will stand trial next year.

The law, which has been called one of the most suppressive laws in recent history, is being challenged by the Obama Administration and a group of civil rights organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Advancement Project, and the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, which claims the law will disenfranchise thousands of black voters. The law eliminates same-day voter registration and out-of-precinct voting, cuts the number of early voting days from 17 to 10, and requires voters to present specific forms of identification at the polls.

About 70% of black voters voted early in 2008 and 2012, and African Americans were also more likely to use same-day registration than other groups.

With the backing of Republican lawmakers, the law sped through state legislature last summer in the wake of the Supreme Court decision that struck down a provision of the Voting Rights Act that would have required Department of Justice approval before it took effect. It is one of several laws being challenged by civil and voting rights groups for having a potentially burdensome effect on voters of color, though those who support the laws say they are merely designed to protect the integrity of elections.

Following the ruling, the state’s lawyers said the judge’s decision is further proof that North Carolina’s law is constitutional. “This is a victory for North Carolina’s popular law that requires identification to vote,” said Bob Stephens, Chief Legal Counsel to North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory in a statement. “North Carolina is joining a majority of states in common sense protections that preserve the sanctity of the voting booth. Today’s ruling is just more evidence that this law is constitutional—as we have said from the very onset of this process.”

On Friday, voting rights groups expressed disappointment at the judge’s ruling, but said they will continue to push to block the law during the full trial.

“While we had hoped the court would recognize this irreparable harm, the ultimate goal is to see these discriminatory measures struck down,” said Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Voting Rights Project in a statement. “We look forward to making our case at full trial, which is something the state had sought to avoid.”

The law could have an impact on the upcoming U.S. Senate election in the state, considered a toss-up as Democratic incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan faces a challenge from Republican Thom Tillis, the current speaker of the state House of Representatives.

TIME Crime

Shooting of Black Teen in Missouri Sparks Violence, Looting

Michael Brown was reportedly unarmed when he was shot dead by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo. Protests at the 18-year-old's death descended into violence Sunday, with 32 arrested and a local store looted and set on fire

TIME Crime

Ohio Still Isn’t Ready to Start Killing People Again

Oklahoma Execution Protocols
Sue Ogrocki—AP Bottles of midazolam at a hospital pharmacy in Oklahoma City. Midazolam is the common thread in three recent lengthly executions in Oklahoma, Ohio and Arizona, July 25, 2014.

A federal judge has delayed three planned executions amid ongoing legal challenges

A moratorium on executions in Ohio that was set to expire this week has been extended by a federal judge, halting future lethal injections in the state at least until next year.

On Aug. 8, Judge Gregory Frost issued a one-page order extending the moratorium, the Associated Press reports. The temporary freeze was put in place after the prolonged execution of Dennis McGuire, who was sentenced to death for a 1989 rape and murder. In January, McGuire appeared to gasp and snore after being given a two-drug combination of midazolam and hydromorphone that had not been previously used in a lethal injection.

In April, Ohio announced that it would increase the dosages of the two execution drugs. The following month, Frost issued a temporary stay of executions as the state re-examined its lethal injection protocol. The latest order delays three planned executions for September, October and November as legal challenges continue over the two-drug method.

McGuire’s lethal injection was the first of three executions around the U.S. this year that appeared to go awry. In April, the convicted killer Clayton Lockett died of a heart attack after writhing and twitching following his injection with an untested blend of drugs. And on July 23rd, Arizona’s execution of convicted murderer Joseph Wood, using the same drug protocol as Ohio did for McGuire, lasted nearly two hours.

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