25 Years After LA Riots

Community march will mark the past and look to the future he Rev. K.W. Tulloss was a 9th grader at Locke High School in South Los Angeles in April 1992 when a jury, with no black members, acquitted four white police officers of beating Rodney King. That verdict touched off days of rioting, looting and violence that left more than 55 people dead. The riots were concentrated in South L.A. but spread to other communities including downtown L.A., Koreatown, Hollywood, Pasadena and the San … [Read more...]

Will Jeff Sessions Police the Police?

The dismay that the neophytes in the Trump Administration elicit tends to follow three stages: alarm at what they say, shock at what they do, and outrage at what they propose to do next. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is no political neophyte—he represented Alabama in the Senate for twenty years—but the pattern still applies. His confirmation hearing included a reminder of an indulgent jest he once made about the Ku Klux Klan. On the Senate floor, Elizabeth Warren was silenced when she tried to … [Read more...]

True Crime: Novelist Richard Price on the Crucial Role of Crime Journalism

I’ve always assumed that the best crime reporting—sports reporting, too—was to be found in the tabloids, but after inhaling the contents of this anthology, which cover more than a century and a half of criminal mayhem as filed withThe New York Times, the shingles have fallen from my eyes. Lurid writing can overwhelm lurid deeds. Excitable adjectives, judgmental prose and the egging on of public outrage can often obscure rather than illuminate the facts at the core. In most of the articles … [Read more...]

Uneasy Riders: Before United, a Legacy of Excessive Force in Transportation

The passenger was ordered to move and refused. The rule was grossly unfair, yet the carrier within its rights to enforce it. The traveler’s belligerence may have added fuel to the fire, though by no means could he have anticipated its horrifying outcome. There were racial overtones. And fellow travelers who witnessed it expressed outrage and shock. A description of United Airlines Flight 3411 on April 9, 2017? Yes — but also of the Savannah Special over the rails of North Carolina, 70 years … [Read more...]

Police Unions Hail Trump’s Easing of Scrutiny: Local Officials Worry

Black pedestrians in Baltimore stopped without reasonable suspicion. Black drivers in Ferguson, Mo., searched much more frequently than whites. Cleveland residents punched and kicked by officers and subjected to stun guns, without posing any threat. In report after report in the Obama years, Justice Department lawyers found patterns of eye-popping rights violations and used them as leverage to force local departments to agree to major policing overhauls. But the Trump administration announced … [Read more...]

Police Arrests Plummeting Across California, Fueling Alarm and Questions

In 2013, something changed on the streets of Los Angeles. Police officers began making fewer arrests. The following year, the Los Angeles Police Department’s arrest numbers dipped even lower and continued to fall, dropping by 25% from 2013 to 2015. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the San Diego Police Department also saw significant drops in arrests during that period. The statewide numbers are just as striking: Police recorded the lowest number of arrests in nearly 50 … [Read more...]

Friends in Court: The Growing Impact of ‘Participatory Defense’

Ramon Vasquez was facing the threat of a lifetime in prison when he stood trial for a 2008 murder he didn’t commit. “The only number I heard in court, was ’80 years.’ Like, I might get 80 years if I was convicted,” recalled Vasquez, a San Jose, Calif. delivery-truck driver. Vasquez, then 29, knew the evidence proving his innocence was out there. But neither the expensive private lawyer his family initially hired but couldn’t afford nor the court-appointed he wound up with (who urged … [Read more...]

When Warriors Wear the Badge

William Thomas, a retired Newark police sergeant, left his home in a body bag. To his dismay, he was still very much alive. A team of cops and medical technicians had strapped his limbs together, stuffing his body into a mesh sack to restrain him after he tried to fight them off. Six hours earlier, Thomas, a decorated narcotics investigator and a veteran of the New Jersey Air National Guard, tortured by post-traumatic stress disorder acquired in Iraq, had downed a fistfull of prescription … [Read more...]

Justice Springs Eternal

This wasn’t how the story was supposed to end. After almost 50 years of relentless prison-building in the United States, of aggressive policing and a war on drugs that goes after our most vulnerable citizens, the movement for a more merciful criminal justice system had begun to seem, if not unstoppable, at least plenty powerful. In 2015, the number of American prisoners declined more than 2 percent, the largest decrease since 1978. By 2014, the incarceration rate for black men, while still … [Read more...]

Who Should See LAPD Bodycam Video?  

Respond to the Survey - Make Your Voice Heard!! Justice Not Jails applauds Police Commission president Matt Johnson for inviting the public to weigh in on the question of releasing police bodycam video. When the city first started equipping officers with the cameras two years ago, we denounced the policy of leaving it entirely up to the police chief whether to release video (apart form court-ordered releases). We said that leaving it to the chief's discretion runs totally counter to the goals … [Read more...]