Top 5 Live-WURD Thursday April 30
1. Lawyer for family of man killed by Philly police calls for reforms
A day after she filed a civil-rights suit against the Philadelphia Police Department, the mother of Brandon Tate-Brown told reporters that she will continue to fight for the evidence in her son’s death to be released to the public. “I want the pain to stop, but I can’t stop fighting,” Tanya Brown-Dickerson said Wednesday at a news conference outside City Hall.Tate-Brown, 26, was fatally shot by 15th Police District officers during a car stop in Mayfair early on Dec. 15.
Police have said he was reaching for a gun in the front seat of his car when he was killed, an account that Dickerson-Brown and her attorney have long disputed.
District Attorney Seth Williams declined to press charges against the officers involved in Tate-Brown’s death, citing witness accounts, video footage, physical evidence, and DNA testing. But Brown-Dickerson’s suit disputes those findings.
The suit says that Tate-Brown’s fatal head wound was not consistent with being shot while reaching into his car for a gun, as police have said. Furthermore, Brown-Dickerson does not believe her son had a gun in the car.
2. Hillary Clinton calls for mandatory police body cameras
Hillary Clinton called for every police department in the country to use body cameras to “increase transparency and accountability,” as she pushed for broad criminal justice reform and an “end to the era of mass incarceration” during a speech in New York on Wednesday. She spoke specifically to the death of Freddie Gray and the Baltimore riots. “It is heartbreaking,” Clinton said Tuesday at a Manhattan fundraiser. “The tragic death of another young African-American man. The injuries to police officers. The burning of peoples’ homes and small businesses. We have to restore order and security. But then we have to take a hard look as to what we need to do to reform our system.”
Among Clinton’s prescriptions: probation reform, bolstering treatment for mental health and drug addiction and looking at alternative sentences for lesser offenses. Clinton also discussed what she called “the hard truth and fundamental unfairness in our country that today African American men are far more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes and sentenced to longer prison terms.”
3. ‘Philly is Baltimore’ rally planned for Thursday outside City Hall
Hundreds of people plan to join a “Philly is Baltimore” protest near City Hall on today.“What we’re trying to do is demonstrate solidarity with what’s going on in Baltimore,” said Deandra Jefferson, a 22-year-old Temple University student and leader in the Philadelphia Coalition for Racial, Economic, and Legal (REAL) Justice. The rally, set for 4:30 p.m. at 15th and Market, will call for people here to “stand with the people of Baltimore who are rising up against racist police brutality and the murder of Freddie Gray.”
Baltimore erupted in rioting on Monday after the funeral for Gray, a 25-year-old African American who died after being in police custody.
“Under the right conditions, Philadelphia could be a Baltimore,” Jefferson said. “It’s not just a Baltimore issue. It’s a nationwide issue.” The protest seeks to connect similar issues in both cities, including what the group called “police terror and structural racism.” A focus will be the death of Brandon Tate-Brown, a 26-year-old African American motorist who was shot to death by Philadelphia police after being pulled over in Frankford in December.
4. Montco D.A. to investigate Kane aide’s firing
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman says her office will investigate why state Attorney General Kathleen Kane fired a lawyer who had testified against Kane before a grand jury investigating leaked confidential documents. Ferman said she would fold that inquiry into her office’s ongoing review of whether Kane leaked information to the Philadelphia Daily News last year in a bid to embarrass her critics.
“These inquiries will be conducted using standards and procedures that reflect an ethical prosecutor’s responsibilities as a minister of justice,” Ferman said.
This month, Kane fired James Barker as part of what she called a restructuring of her office’s criminal division. His ouster came three weeks after The Inquirer reported that Barker had testified against Kane in the leak inquiry, which concluded last year with a grand jury recommendation that she face criminal charges including perjury, contempt, and obstruction of justice. The judge who oversaw the leak investigation had issued a protective order that prohibited anyone in the Attorney General’s Office from retaliating against witnesses who appeared before the grand jury.
5. After Baltimore riots, some leaders slam ‘thug’ as the new n-word
A term used by President Barack Obama and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to characterize rioters has given new life to a debate over the word “thug.” “Of course it’s not the right word, to call our children ‘thugs,’”
Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes told CNN. “These are children who have been set aside, marginalized, who have not been engaged by us. No, we don’t have to call them thugs.”“Just call them n—–s,” he said. “No, we don’t have to call them by names such as that.”
The Rev. Jamal Bryant drew the same comparison Wednesday morning on CNN. The President and the mayor are wrong, he said. “These are not thugs, these are upset and frustrated children.” “It’s amazing. You don’t call six police officers who kill a man without probable cause ‘thugs,’ but children who are frustrated and don’t have an outlet, you call them ‘thugs.’ ‘Thugs’ is the 21st century word for the n-word.”
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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