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Louisville announces $12M settlement, police reforms in wake of Breonna Taylor shooting

Andrew Wolfson, Darcy Costello and Tessa Duvall, Louisville Courier Journal

 


The settlement was announced at a 2 p.m. press conference at Mayor Fischer's office, with Taylor's family and attorneys Ben Crump, Sam Aguiar and Lonita Baker.

In addition to the payment, the deal includes several policing reforms, including a requirement that commanders approve all search warrants before they go to a judge. The accord also provides housing credits to officers who agree to live within the city, and it would seek the authority for drug and alcohol testing of officers involved in any shooting.

Sam Aguiar, an attorney for Taylor's family, said the city's handling of the case has been slow and frustrating. But, Aguiar said he hopes Metro Government's willingness to discuss significant police reforms is "a turning point."

A large settlement in the civil suit brought by Taylor's family comes as a Jefferson County grand jury may hear the criminal case as soon as this week. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron is spearheading the criminal investigation. 

The grand jury would decide whether criminal charges should be filed against any of the three officers involved in her shooting death March 13 during a search for drugs, cash and other evidence in her South End apartment that went awry.

Taylor, 26, was shot and killed after Louisville Metro Police officers broke down her apartment door March 13 to serve a signed no-knock search warrant in connection with a narcotics investigation centered 10 miles away. 

Police say they knocked and announced their presence, but Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, said he and Taylor didn't know who was pounding on the door. When police battered in the door, Walker fired what he later called a warning shot. Police say it struck Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly in the thigh. Mattingly and two other officers — detectives Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove — returned fire. Taylor was hit five times and died in her hallway. 

Hankison has been fired while Cosgrove and Mattingly remain on administrative reassignment.

The suit was filed April 27 and named the three officers as defendants.

It alleges Taylor's life was wrongfully taken, that police used excessive force and the search was grossly negligent.

An amended complaint filed about two months later additionally claimed Taylor's death was the result of Louisville police's effort to clear out a block for gentrification, and the newly formed Place-Based Investigations unit consisted of "rogue police" who violated "all levels of policy, protocol and policing standards."

City officials vehemently denied the accusations that gentrification played any role in the narcotics investigation. 

The case picked up steam and media coverage in May when local attorneys for the estate, Sam Aguiar and Lonita Baker, were joined by Florida-based attorney Ben Crump. He has represented Black Americans killed in controversial shootings, including Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown Jr. and Tamir Rice. 

"LMPD has tried to sweep this under the rug," Aguiar said at the time. "The family right now has a very understandable desire to know the full circumstance of what went on that night."

Taylor's family alleged in the suit the warrant served at Taylor's apartment was targeted at Jamarcus Glover, a convicted drug dealer had been located by police at a drug house 10 miles away before the warrant was served on Taylor's residence.

warrant listed Taylor's name and address, but the main narcotics investigation was centered around Glover and co-defendants' alleged trafficking on Elliott Avenue in Louisville's Russell neighborhood. 

I Look White To Many. I'm Black. This Is What White People Say To Me.

 

I am a Black woman who for most of my life has often been mistaken for white. And I’m here to tell you that for four decades white people have openly, even sometimes proudly, expressed their racism to me, usually with a wink and a smile, all while thinking I’m white too.

The incidents pile up, year after year — at a friend’s wedding, when I met a new roommate, at the grocery store, while riding in a taxi, and during innumerable other events from daily life.

As the nation begins, finally, to focus on the social injustice that takes place across this country — from the South where I grew up to the North where I’ve lived for the past 22 years ― I feel the collective pain. Even as a very fair-skinned Black woman with green eyes and light brown hair, I, too, have experienced racism. But I’ve also been a fly on the wall when white people didn’t know anyone of color was looking or listening.

Imagine taking a car service to Newark airport for a business trip, and the driver, a retired white police officer, tells you and your white boss that were he still a cop, he would pull over the Black driver stopped next to us, just because he is Black. Or the white taxi driver who, during a business trip in the South, freely shares broad generalizations about groups of people, looking to either find a kindred soul or spark a debate with a Northerner — one who he thought was white.

Put yourself in my shoes when you move to Reston, Virginia, temporarily while you wait for your apartment to become available in Alexandria, and your new roommate, a young, white male, one who you thought was kind and warm, warns you to be careful of venturing into Washington, D.C., because every time he goes there he gets “robbed by Black people.”

“Really, every time?” I questioned.

The author is a fair-skinned Black woman who has been a fly on the wall when white people don't know anyone of color is looki

Think how upsetting it would be to join your boyfriend at the time (who also looks all white but is biracial) at his friend’s wedding and one of the guests states he doesn’t want his daughter going to a particular concert because there will “be way too many Black people.” 

How do you respond to something like this? How do you respond while at a social gathering where etiquette suggests politely smiling, or at least pretending not to have heard? 

There’s the executive who asks, “Is this the ethnic Cheryl?” when I wear my hair curly rather than straight. What about the random stranger in the grocery store who can’t understand the texture of my son’s hair and repeatedly asks questions about my background while putting her hands all over my son’s head.

Imagine the district retail manager who balks at hiring a Black model for a fashion show I’m in charge of planning, despite the store having a diverse customer base. “She is just not right for this crowd, if you know what I mean.” I knew. But she didn’t know — that maybe I’m not right for her crowd, either.

Then there are the many women who, once they realize I’m Black, want me to help them “understand Black people” because they really haven’t had any exposure; as if we are some type of rare species and I’m their spokesmodel.

Some instances I hope are not coming from a place of hate, but rather incorrect assumptions based on too little information and a too-fast glimpse at my face. The medical records that say white instead of Black. The doctor who doesn’t understand why I’m asking questions related to genetic conditions that are more common to particular ethnic groups. The employee file that doesn’t count me as one of their diverse hires. The committee that doesn’t realize they have a person of color represented. The performer who asks why don’t we have any Black people in the audience tonight — while looking directly at me, seated right in front.

And yet, it still hurts. 

Whether in my personal or professional life — rather ironic, since I work in the field of philanthropy, diversity, equity and inclusion — this is the type of fear, ignorance and lack of self-awareness that I have witnessed and experienced for over 40 years. I’m 51, and I’m exhausted.

I’m tired of weighing, each time, whether I am going to say something in response to these hateful statements—because I must continue to advocate for what is right — or if I am going to walk away because I’m just too damn tired. Or stay silent, while gaining more insight into what really is on the minds of some when they don’t think a Black person is listening?

But do I really need any more insight? Any more proof of what some will say or do if they think no one’s watching? Does it really matter if I’m living in the South or now in the North? In a city or suburbs? At work or running errands around town? At a social event or on public transportation? When it’s clear from my own experiences and the indifferent attitude toward the suffering of others —spotlighted these last months, but enacted for years, decades, centuries before — that some of those same people don’t even care when the eyes of the world are on them.

Yes, I’m exhausted. But I must act.

When I hear racist comments clearly meant for white ears only, I have to stay, I have to stand, I have to speak up, challenge, identify myself, educate. I must walk with my fair-minded brothers and sisters of every color to call out racism whenever I see it and do my part to make this a more just world.

And I must say, “I’m Black, too.”  

Cheryl Green Rosario is working on a memoir about her experiences as a light-skinned Black woman often mistaken for white. 

NCAA rules allow White students and coaches to profit off labor of Black ones, study finds


Three officers who were cleared by the FBI and internal affairs are now being charged with murder



Trump says Department of Education will investigate use of 1619 Project in schools

(CNN)President Donald Trump is continuing to wage battle against interpretations of history which he claims are un-American.

In a Sunday morning tweet, the President said the US Department of Education would investigate whether California schools are using the New York Times' "1619 Project" in public school curriculum. The Pulitzer-Prize winning collection reframes American history around the date of August 1619, when the first slave ship arrived on America's shores.
"Department of Education is looking at this. If so, they will not be funded!" he wrote on Twitter, citing a message from an unverified account saying it was being taught in schools there.
The message came after the President on Friday night banned federal agencies from conducting racial sensitivity training related to "white privilege" and "critical race theory."
    Russell Vought, director of the Office of Management and Budget, instructed heads of federal agencies to dramatically alter racial sensitivity training programs for employees, deeming them "un-American propaganda" in a two-page memo.
    Like that memo, it's unclear the extent of the phenomenon the President is identifying. Some schools have said they will adopt the 1619 Project into their lessons -- though how many isn't known.
    The 1619 Project was launched by the New York Times Magazine last year. After the launch, the Pulitzer Center was named an education partner for the project and announced its education team would develop educational resources and curricula for teachers to use. The 1619 Project curriculum is available online for free through the center.
    Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican, has introduced legislation that would prevent schools from teaching the curriculum. The legislation, titled the Saving American History Act of 2020, "would prohibit the use of federal funds to teach the 1619 Project by K-12 schools or school districts. Schools that teach the 1619 Project would also be ineligible for federal professional-development grants."
    The legislation appears unlikely to gain any significant traction in the Senate but stands as a way for Cotton to send a message.
    The moves follow a pattern by the President of disparaging attempts to process or reckon with the country's fraught racial history. In his convention acceptance speech, the President said "Americans are exhausted, trying to keep up with the latest lists of approved words and phrases, and the ever more restrictive political decrees. Many things have a different name now, and the rules are constantly changing."
    "We want our sons and daughters to know the truth," Trump went on. "America is the greatest and most exceptional nation in the history of the world. Our country wasn't built by cancel culture, speech codes, and crushing conformity. We are not a nation of timid spirits."
    Trump has also sought to draw contrast with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in the months before the election. Trump has vowed to protect monuments, including those dedicated to Confederate figures, called the phrase "Black Lives Matter" a "symbol of hate" and threatened to withhold funding from cities in blue states that he says are permitting unrest in the streets.
    The President and Attorney General William Barr have said that they don't believe systemic racism exists in the United States.
    In an exclusive interview that aired Sunday with CNN's Dana Bash, Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris rebuked Trump and Barr's comments regarding systemic racism in the US, saying they are "spending full time in a different reality."
    "We do have two systems of justice" for Black and White Americans, Harris told Bash.
    The comments from the first Black and South Asian American woman on a major party presidential ticket come less than two months before the November election in which Harris suggested Trump was not a "real leader" on racial justice.
      "I don't think that most reasonable people who are paying attention to the facts would dispute that there are racial disparities and a system that has engaged in racism in terms of how the laws have been enforced," said Harris, a California senator and former state attorney general. "It does us no good to deny that. Let's just deal with it. Let's be honest. These might be difficult conversations for some, but they're not difficult conversations for leaders, not for real leaders."


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      JUDGE ORDERS DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE TO SHUT DOWN

      The Native Americans are still being oppressed by the government.


      TERRAY SYLVESTER / VWPICS VIA REDUX


      Victory: 
      Unprecedented victory for Standing Rock Sioux Tribe after four-year legal battle

      Stevana Salazar (left) of the Kickapoo Tribe of Texas rides with Arlo Standing Bear, Oglala Lakota from Allen, S.D., in the Sacred Stone Camp, Aug. 26, 2016.


      JULY 6, 2020

      Washington, D.C. — 

      Owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) must halt operations while the government conducts a full-fledged analysis examining the risk DAPL poses to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, a federal judge ruled today. The court decision delivered a hard-fought victory to the Tribe, which has been engaged in a high-profile struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline since 2016.


      The ruling ordering a shutdown of DAPL marks the final word of a March 25 decision by the same judge. That ruling found that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and glossed over the devastating consequences of a potential oil spill when it affirmed its 2016 decision to permit the pipeline. The court ordered the Corps to re-examine the risks of the pipeline and prepare a full environmental impact statement, but left open the question as to whether pipeline operations would be halted as a legal remedy pending further briefing.  After carefully analyzing the seriousness of the government’s legal violations, and the potential impacts on the Tribe and third parties, today’s decision concluded that shutting down the pipeline was necessary.


      The shutdown will remain in place pending completion of a full environmental review, which normally takes several years, and the issuance of new permits. It may be up to a new administration to make final permitting decisions. 


      “Today is a historic day for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the many people who have supported us in the fight against the pipeline,” said Chairman Mike Faith of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. “This pipeline should have never been built here. We told them that from the beginning.”


      “It took four long years, but today justice has been served at Standing Rock,” said Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman, who represents the Tribe. “If the events of 2020 have taught us anything, it’s that health and justice must be prioritized early on in any decision-making process if we want to avoid a crisis later on.”


      BACKGROUND


      In December of 2016, the Obama administration denied permits for DAPL to cross the Missouri River, and ordered a full environmental impact statement to analyze alternative pipeline routes and impacts on the Tribe’s treaty rights. Yet on his second day in office, Trump reversed that order, directing that permits be issued. Pipeline construction was completed by June of 2017. 


      The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe challenged the permits in court and won. The court ruled then that the environmental analysis had been insufficient because it failed to account for consequences facing the Tribe, and ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to redo it. However, the judge declined to shut down the pipeline in the interim.


      The Army Corps then redid its environmental analysis, but shut the Tribe out of the review process, and concluded that its previous analysis had been sufficient and that nothing needed to change. In response, the Tribe, represented by Earthjustice, went back to court. In a motion for summary judgment filed last August, the Tribe asked the Court to shut down the pipeline, and order the Corps to conduct a full environmental analysis. The Court granted the Tribe’s request in a March 25, 2020 ruling, yet left open the question as to shutting down the pipeline in the interim.


      The massive 2016 gathering of Tribes and allies defending Standing Rock Sioux territory from DAPL captured the world’s attention and attracted international media coverage. It helped give rise to a global movement of indigenous resistance to fossil-fuel infrastructure projects.


      11 Facts Of Discrimination

      During the 2015–2016 school year, Black students represented only 15% of total US student enrollment, but they made up 35% of students suspended once, 44% of students suspended more than once, and 36% of students expelled. The US Department of Education concluded that this disparity is “not explained by more frequent or more serious misbehavior by students of color.”

      In New York City, 88% of police stops in 2018 involved Black and Latinx people, while 10% involved white people. (Of those stops, 70% were completely innocent.) 

      In one US survey, 15.8% of students reported experiencing race-based bullying or harassment. Research has found significant associations between racial bullying and negative mental and physical health in students.

      From 2013 to 2017, white patients in the US received better quality health care than about 34% of Hispanic patients, 40% of Black patients, and 40% of Native American patients.

      Black women are 3 to 4 times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than white women, even at similar levels of income and education.

      Black Americans are more likely than white Americans to be arrested. Once arrested, they are more likely to be convicted, and once convicted, they are more likely to experience lengthy prison sentences.

      Black Americans and white Americans use drugs at similar rates, but Black Americans are 6 times more likely to be arrested for it. 

      On average, Black men in the US receive sentences that are 19.1% longer than those of white men convicted for the same crimes.

      In the US, Black individuals are twice as likely to be unemployed than white individuals. Once employed, Black individuals earn nearly 25% less than their white counterparts.

      One US study found that job resumes with traditionally white-sounding names received 50% more callbacks than those with traditionally Black names.

      In the US, Black workers are less likely than white workers to be employed in a job that is consistent with their level of education.


      THEIR DANGEROUS JOURNEY LED TO THE FIRST FREE BLACK SETTLEMENT

      Leslie Taylor-Grover
      August 17, 2020
      Slave Hunt, Dismal Swamp, Virginia painting by Thomas Moran, 1862
      There weren’t many who decided to run, at first. However, as war raged between the British and the Spanish, it seemed like the logical choice. Weren’t they going to die anyway?

      A brutal death was almost inevitable for the enslaved. Their lives were marked by vicious acts of violence, overwork, sexual exploitation, and malnutrition. 

      On the other hand, there was no guarantee they would survive the unpredictability of war. But there WAS one more option.

      The swamp. The trek south through the swamplands of Florida was treacherous – but the payoff would mean living among the Spanish colonists as free citizens

      So that’s exactly what they did. But something else also awaited those who endured the journey.

      At first, they were sold by a greedy Spanish governor back to the British, returning to life in captivity – we can never be too trusting. But once the Spanish government removed him, they openly invited others to settle in Florida. 

      Fort Mose, as it was informally called, drew hundreds of our ancestors to its swamplands – to freedom – and when the war came to its doors, we fought to defend our settlement!

      Eventually, Fort Mose was covered by the swamp, but the legacy of the first free Black settlement in this country remains. We must always choose freedom – and fight to defend it!

      Breonna Taylor's ex-boyfriend: Plea deal tried to get me to falsely incriminate her

      Phillip M. Baileyand Darcy Costello
      Louisville Courier Journal

      LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Breonna Taylor's ex-boyfriend says Louisville prosecutors wanted him to implicate the slain 26-year-old woman when they offered him a plea deal in his ongoing drug case four months after her fatal shooting.

      Taylor had no involvement in drugs, and signing the deal would have falsely incriminated her, Jamarcus Glover told USA TODAY/The Courier Journal in a phone interview Monday night from Louisville Metro Corrections. That's why he refused.

      "I turned it down from day one when I seen the names on there," Glover said from jail. "They're incriminating other people who had nothing to do with anything."

      Glover, who was a fugitive for missing bail since July 27 until being arrested Aug. 27, is facing criminal counts of criminal syndication, drug trafficking and gun charges.

      An attorney for Taylor's family posted a photo of a document Monday on Facebook showing prosecutors had extended Glover, an accused narcotics trafficker, a plea offer for 10 years in prison if he would acknowledge Taylor was part of a criminal organization.

      Jefferson Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine denied Monday his office had offered Glover a plea deal that sought to implicate Taylor by name in the drug case. 

      The July 13 "plea sheet" that Sam Aguiar — an attorney representing Taylor's family in a civil suit against the three officers who fired their weapons — shared on social media was a draft as part of preindictment negotiation, Wine said.

      It was never part of the court record, Wine said, and it's not a court document. 

      Taylor was shot and killed as Louisville Metro Police officers attempted to serve a signed no-knock search warrant for her apartment after midnight on March 13. The controversial raid was part of a drug investigation that focused on Glover.

      Jamarcus Glover

      Jamarcus Glover

      Glover said under the July 13 offer, if he acknowledged he and several “co-defendants,” including Taylor, engaged in organized crime, he could possibly have been released on probation depending on the ruling of a sentencing judge.

      Taylor was never a co-defendant in the Glover case, Wine said in a news release Monday.

      "A case including Breonna Taylor as a co-defendant was never presented to the grand jury nor did our office ever consider presenting one to the grand jury with her name," he said

      Glover disputed Wine's claims, however, saying his attorney presented him the document for consideration, and he took a picture with his cellphone. He told his current girlfriend to release the picture after learning Wine's office had pulled the plea deal. 

      “How is it a draft and they wanted me to sign it?" Glover asked in Monday night's interview. "You don't put no draft in front of nobody. How would I get it if it's just a draft?"

      A spokesman for Wine's office did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday morning.

      Ben Crump, a Florida-based lawyer representing Taylor's family with Louisville attorneys Aguiar and Lonita Baker, said in a statement he was outraged that prosecutors would "attempt to justify Breonna Taylor's death" by pushing Glover to "falsely state — after her death — that she was part of an organized crime syndicate." 

      "The police killed Bre once, and now they're trying to kill her again by killing her reputation and her good name," Crump wrote in a Tuesday news release. "Disgusting behavior by those who are supposed to be the protectors of justice."

      But Scott Barton, Glover's attorney, told The Courier Journal on Tuesday the July 13 document was a draft — one of several sent between the office, Barton and Glover. That's typical in plea negotiations, he said. 

      "By the time we'd finally come to something that Mr. Glover and I talked about, again, (Taylor's) name was nowhere mentioned in the document," Barton said. 

      Asked what he made of Taylor's name being included in any plea, four months after she'd been killed by police, Barton compared plea negotiations to buying a house, where one side may make an "outrageous offer" just to see if the other side will take it. 

      "Just like sometimes I ask for things that I know I'm not getting but, you know, let's throw them out there and see," Barton said. "So, I think based on the information they had — the telephone calls and everything else — I think they made it in good faith. We were never going to accept that, but I don't think it was out of line by them."

      Wine on Monday released a separate plea offered July 21 that didn't mention Taylor by name.

      However, it would have stated as fact Glover and his co-defendants used Taylor's South End apartment "to store proceeds from the trafficking operation."

      It also would have required Glover to acknowledge that he listed Taylor's apartment as his address on his bank account and that he picked up a package from her home before going to a location where "the defendant routinely sold narcotics." 

      Barton confirmed the sentences offered in both the July 13 and July 21 plea offers were the same: a 10-year term to wrap up all of Glover's cases.

      Glover reiterated Monday he never sent or picked up anything illegal from Taylor's apartment.

      "Everything they're presenting, they're trying to cover up what they done," he said.

      Crump, in his statement, added that it's "enormously ironic" that "the accused drug dealer ... acted with honor, refusing to falsely discredit Bre after her death — even when offered the temptation of no prison time for lying, while prosecutors and police acted in the most egregiously dishonest and dishonorable way possible."

      Taylor's death has sparked more than three months of protests and civil unrest in Louisville. It has gained national attention from civil rights groups and celebrities.

      When officers broke down her door Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired one "warning" shot, he told police after the incident. He said in a subsequent police interview he did not realize it was police trying to enter the apartment.

      Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, who was struck in the femoral artery in his left leg, and two other officers — detectives Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove — returned fire, hitting Taylor five times and killing her in the hallway. 

      Hankison has since been fired, while Mattingly and Cosgrove remain on administrative reassignment.

      Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and the FBI have opened independent investigations into the incident and are to determine whether criminal charges should be filed.