Top 5 Live –WURD Tuesday March 3
1. Congress restarts clock on DHS funding fight
Congress was able to temporarily dodge an imminent shutdown to the Department of Homeland Security last week, but lawmakers aren’t out of the woods quite yet.
The clock has been reset to four days and counting until Congress faces yet another deadline on funding the critical government agency.
And if last Friday’s flurry of legislative action is any indicator of what to expect at the end of the temporary delay, it’s likely to be yet another mad scramble for congressional leaders.
2. Negotiations to settle city’s forfeiture suit fail
Efforts to settle a lawsuit that challenges the city’s civil forfeiture program have failed, lawyers told a federal judge on Monday.
The announcement – made at a hearing on the class-action suit before U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno – came a day after a District Attorney Seth Williams laid out his most detailed defense yet of his office’s use of the controversial law, which is aimed at depriving drug traffickers of the fruits of their crimes.
“Unfortunately, settlement negotiations in this case have broken down, and we intend to fully litigate this case,” said Darpana Sheth, a lawyer representing four Philadelphia homeowners who sued after their houses were seized after relatives were arrested for dealing drugs on the properties.
3. Witness: Man killed by LAPD didn’t reach for cop’s gun
The bystander who caught dramatic video of a fatal shooting by police in Los Angeles said he didn’t see the man reach for an officer’s gun — the explanation for the shooting given by police.
Anthony Blackburn said he was perplexed that four officers could not subdue the man but instead shot and killed him during Sunday’s incident.
“Why didn’t they simply “shoot the man in the leg?” Blackburn asked. “He’s already on the ground.”
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck defended the officers’ actions.
4. Justice Department finds Racial Bias in Ferguson Police Traffic Stops
The Justice Department has nearly completed a highly critical report accusing the police in Ferguson, Mo., of making discriminatory traffic stops of African-Americans that created years of racial animosity leading up to an officer’s shooting of a black teenager last summer.
According to several officials who’ve been briefed on the report’s conclusions, the report criticizes the city for disproportionately ticketing and arresting African-Americans and relying on the fines to balance the city’s budget.
The report, which is expected to be released as early as this week, will force Ferguson officials to either negotiate a settlement with the Justice Department or face being sued by the Department on civil rights charges. Either way, there will likely be significant changes inside the Ferguson Police Department, which is at the center of a national debate over race and policing.
5. Obama: ‘Now is the Moment’ for Police to Make Changes
President Barack Obama said Monday the deaths of unarmed black men in Missouri and New York show that law enforcement needs to change practices to build trust in minority communities, as a White House task force called for independent investigations when police use deadly force.
The president said last year’s deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City exposed “deep rooted frustration in many communities of color around the need for fair and just law enforcement.” He said a policing task force that he appointed found it’s important for law enforcement to improve training, data collection and cooperation with the communities they cover.
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Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Solomonjones.com and morning host on 900 am WURD radio. Click here to learn more about Solomon