pro-gun laws; where can’t we carry them?

By CAMERON MCWHIRTER and KARISHMA MEHROTRA
June 29, 2014 9:11 p.m. ET

ATLANTA—Bars, houses of worship, and other public establishments are wrestling with what to do about a new law in Georgia that starting on Tuesday dramatically will expand gun-permit holders’ right to carry weapons where people congregate.

The law allows licensed gun owners to bring weapons to bars and houses of worship, unless forbidden by proprietors. Legally-owned guns also are allowed in unrestricted areas of airports and government buildings, and may be carried at schools and in colleges if permitted by officials.

Several other states allow guns in bars or churches, but Georgia’s «Safe Carry Protection Act,» which passed the state legislature overwhelmingly earlier this year, is unusual in that it expanded gun rights in multiple places with one omnibus law.


This is horrifying: According to multiple news outlets, a Target employee found a loaded handgun in the toy aisle of a store in South Carolina.

When you’re shopping at Target, you shouldn’t have to worry about someone parading around with a semiautomatic rifle, or whether your kid is going to find a loaded handgun while looking at toys.

More than 115,000 people have already signed the petition to Target asking for gun sense policies to protect customers and employees from gun violence — and over the next two days volunteers are going to be delivering these petitions all across the country.

Gun extremists armed with semiautomatic rifles have walked into Target locations around the country, weapons out and loaded, making sure customers saw their guns.
It’s often legal to do this, because many states have weak laws that allow people to openly carry around loaded weapons without any permits, training, or background checks. That means it’s up to companies themselves to protect their customers when the law won’t. Yet according to the Wall Street Journal, Target doesn’t have any policies to stop people from carrying weapons in its stores:

Target, which boasts on its website that between 80% and 90% of its customers are women, has no restrictions on customers carrying guns in its stores.

Chipotle, Starbucks, Chili’s, Sonic Drive-In, and Jack in the Box have already responded to petitions from moms and other gun sense supporters asking the stores not to allow guns. Now it’s up to Target to protect families who shop in its stores..

Sign the petition


Concealed weapon law tossed by fed appeals court

Published February 13, 2014Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO – A divided federal appeals court on Thursday struck down California’s concealed weapons rules, saying they violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

By a 2-1 vote, the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said California was wrong to require applicants to show good cause to receive a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

«The right to bear arms includes the right to carry an operable firearm outside the home for the lawful purpose of self-defense,» Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote for the majority.


September 24, 2013

It has been 577 days since George Zimmerman shot and killed our son Travyon. And it’s been 74 days since a jury set George Zimmerman free, in part because of broken «Stand Your Ground» laws that protect killers like Zimmerman — killers who first instigate conflicts and then claim self-defense.
In July, we started a petition on Change.org calling for «Stand Your Ground» laws to be reviewed and amended nationwide, but we need to turn up the pressure in order to change the same law in Texas.
Can you start your own petition calling on Governor Perry and the Texas legislature to review and amend Texas’ «Stand Your Ground» law so that people like George Zimmerman can’t kill with impunity?
Reviewing and amending separate laws in 22 different states isn’t going to be easy — we can’t do it on our own. That’s why we’re asking for your help in Texas, because we know that Governor Perry and your state legislature will be most heavily influenced by the voices of constituents like you.
We already know that there’s a major groundswell of people who want to see these laws amended, because more than 400,000 people have signed our petition. Now it’s time to take that energy and harness it, state by state, to make sure no one can stalk, chase, and kill an unarmed child and get away with it.
Not in Texas. Not in Florida. Not anywhere in America.
Our grief is overwhelming, but we are fortified by our fight to honor Trayvon’s memory by fixing these broken laws. Starting a petition only takes a few minutes. Yours could be the voice that makes sure no child in Texas ever has to experience what happened to our son.
Click here to start your own petition calling on Governor Perry and the Texas legislature to review and amend Texas’ «Stand Your Ground» laws.
Thank you for standing with us, and with Trayvon.
Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton


Friend —

My son, Daniel, was a smart, quiet kid.

He’d just become a straight-A student, and he was overcoming his shyness as a new member of the debate team.

On April 20th, 1999, my beautiful and bright 15-year-old son was killed by two teenagers with guns in the library of Columbine High School — one of 12 innocent kids who lost their lives for no reason at all.

It’s been 14 years since that horrible day — 14 years of fighting so no family has to grieve like ours did.

These tragedies keep happening, and so far, Congress has failed to take common-sense action to stop them — even though nine in 10 Americans have agreed that it’s time to act by expanding background checks to close the loopholes that put guns in the hands of dangerous people.

This Wednesday, OFA and allied organizations are standing up for a national Day of Action to ask members of Congress: What will it take to finally act to prevent gun violence?

I hope you’ll join in — say you’ll do one thing this week to show Congress you want action to prevent gun violence.

The last questions you ever want to hear as a parent are: «What was your child wearing, and do you have any dental records?»

That’s what the police asked me the evening of the shooting at Columbine High, as they tried to establish who had been killed.

It was the most hopeless I’d ever felt.

Since Daniel’s death, I’ve found a way to honor him: by trying to prevent other families from feeling this pain. I’ve advocated locally and nationally for smarter gun laws — even helping achieve a statewide ballot victory here in Colorado.

In December, when I heard about the shooting in Newtown, I sat in my office and broke down. I was watching another community torn apart by guns — more parents grieving, more kids who would never see graduation, or a wedding, or a family of their own.

And in the wake of another tragedy, nine in 10 Americans agreed that it was time to act — expand background checks to close the loopholes that put guns in the hands of dangerous people.

But Congress disappointed us, putting politics above the safety of our kids.

That’s why this week, we’re asking: How many parents will have to go through what I did before we say «enough»?

You should be a part of this, too. Tell Congress you’re going to keep asking until they act:

http://my.barackobama.com/Do-One-Thing-for-Gun-Violence-Prevention

Thank you,

Tom

Tom Mauser
Littleton, Colorado


January 17, 2013

On Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the sweeping gun measure, the nation’s toughest. It includes a ban on the possession of high-capacity magazines.

The
 statute currently written does NOT exempt law enforcement officers. The NYPD, the State Police and virtually every law enforcement agency in the state carry 9-millimeter guns, which have a 15-round capacity.

Unless an exemption is added by the time the law takes effect in March, police would technically be in violation of the new gun measure. A spokesman for the Governor’s office called us to say, «We are still working out some details of the law and the exemption will be included.»


Published: 31 December, 2012, 18:57

There’s no country in the world where you can’t smoke a cigar in a bar, but you may sip bourbon with your Colt Python – only in America!

While the Pentagon assiduously burns billions of dollars to export the cult of violence abroad, in the meantime, back at the domestic front, the Connecticut carnage has resurrected the moribund discussion about the perennial issue: the national suicidal pastime which annually devours 30,000 people, including 2,800 kids.

Even US casualties in Afghanistan – 309 KIA in 2012 – is no match to 414 murders in New York City the same year, celebrated as the record-lowest level in over four decades, down from the apex of 2,000 annual homicides, which accidentally coincides with the overall Operation Enduring Freedom body-count since the beginning of the invasion.

I ain’t no gun-shy latte-lapping liberal or trigger-happy loony. As a veteran and responsible gun owner with a concealed carry permit, I have to admit that the sheer enormity of violence in the US doesn’t jibe well with black & white, left & right polarized partisanship.

In essence, the debate is divided & dominated by one question – what is the main culprit of the homeland heinous crimes, a deadly gun or an evil mind?

In Utopia, nobody would pack heat and everybody would live in harmony, in Dystopia, everybody would be armed to the teeth and dangerously paranoiac.

Given a choice between disarmament & arms race, the USA today is on a fast track to destination D – distraction or despair, you name it.
Spiking the guns

There’s no doubt that all too often, firearms figure prominently as killing multipliers in endemic shooting sprees. Nevertheless, to single them out as the one & only reason that gnaws at the heart of America would be:

– Morally & intellectually dishonest, absolving society at large, the local community and individuals in particular from any duty & responsibility and shifting the blame from the perpetrators & collaborators to the material evidence to the crime.

– Disingenuous – if guns were intrinsically sinful, the US president, Congress and the Supreme Court wouldn’t kowtow to NRA. Stand united, and they’d show the true colors and call for abolition of the 2nd Amendment and comprehensive weapons ban.

– Cynical – drugs, fast food & soft drink legally and profitably hurt more kids than illegal access to alcohol, tobacco & firearms. Who would dare to infringe on ‘freedom of choice’ and prohibit all sweet & slow killers?

The point is it takes a wicked mind to convert a gun into a murderous accomplice, not the other way around.
Multiple delivery vehicles

The gun manufacturing industry is just a little bro of the omnipotent military industrial complex, but it wields tremendous clout over its customer base in the most politicized business in the US.

Some of its ethically-free members shamelessly exploit & condone the cult of violence, propagated by entertainment industry, as freebie product placement in toys, movies, TV and video training games, including the nefarious “Kindergarten Killer.”
Target audience

So what drives the restless minds to ubiquitous guns, making Americans pony up $12 billion for arms & ammo a year, come hell or high water? Here’s a cursory profiling, but some characters could be tempted by multiple motives:

Frontier spirit: The true believers in the sacrosanct right for any individual to bear arms under the aegis of the 2nd Amendment. They flatly refuse to consider a “states’ rights” view that the purpose of the clause is only to protect the states in their authority to maintain formal, organized militia units which are currently substituted and overrepresented by the Pentagon and the National Guard.

Whether they need a gun or not, it doesn’t matter: for ‘the freedom fighters’, the ‘right’ to cling to firearms is article of faith in preordained exceptionalism, the ultimate totem of Americana, which, even if imported, is more symbolic than Stetson hats and Lucchese boots made in the USA.

‘The freedom fighters’ are the posse comitatus and the stormtroopers of the NRA who are ready to fight tooth & nail against Indians, Brits, aliens, commies, feds and legislators to protect their rights to bear arms any time anywhere, no matter what and the hell with individual responsibility and public safety.

Collecting spirit: This is a rarified breed of aloof connoisseurs which are mostly intelligence & military types, active duty and otherwise. They keep a low profile and enjoy the pleasure of quietly building up their exquisite caches to the envy of their pals at local SWAT teams. They keep their powder dry, but they’re the champs at burning their greenbacks on amassing the formidable arsenals of trophies.

Shooting spirit: They love it, they know it and they do it skillfully, safely & responsibly. As hunters and sports enthusiasts, ‘the weekend warriors’ wastemore ammo than all other categories combined, being the most active fun-loving crowd among gun owners. They don’t bullshit about guns & rights. For them, it’s all about shooting the bull’s eye.

Shopping spirit: Impulsive & skittish customers – prodded by the fear factor, peer pressure and propaganda of violence, these armchair commandos and wannabe Rambos ogle a gun as an adult pacifier with ‘cool’ bragging rights, a tangible insurance against intangible threats, however remote & imaginary.

This nervous Nellie types are suckers for bigger, ‘badder’ guns, which they honestly believe could compensate their total lack of situational awareness and friend or foe selective accuracy under the adrenalin rush of the enemy fire.

They are the driving force of consumerism and the firepower fetishism, oblivious to mundane murder depredations, only to be jolted into panic hoarding after media coverage of another shooting rampage or gun limitations rumor mill.
Possessed & obsessed

The extreme sides of the antisocial personality disorder are lopsidedly represented by the traditional ‘sane’ majority and deinstitutionalized & marginalized ‘insane’ minority:

Long-time active serial killers: career criminals who don’t have suicidal ideations or qualms of conscience. As outlaws and the main customers of the firearms black market, they illegally & easily get anything they want and couldn’t care less about regulations & restrictions for legit gun owners.

The committed killers, isolated & organized, are responsible for the overwhelming majority of homicides – with and without firearms – but haven’t gotten the public attention they deserve. The true heroes of the violence cult who made America exceptional by the notorious homicide rate (which exceeds Japan’s by 1,000 times), they represent & reproduce its core value, the freedom to kill & be killed.

One-time dormant multiple murderers: the miserable misfits aka psychos, while not necessarily ‘born to kill’, have their worst basic instinct awakened & conditioned by omnipresent propaganda of violence & vengeance.

They are the ultimate customers of the cult, who are capable to decode its subliminal message – death shall make thou free – into clarion call to action as the ‘ultimate solution’ to settle the scores with the hostile society.

The liberals have ‘liberated’ maniacs from involuntary commitment, exposing them to the ‘values’ of violence, while the NRA has lobbied to protect their rights to legally obtain & keep firearms, thus channeling their macabre fantasies into the outer world.

These ‘accidental’ murderers, neglected or abused by their families & communities, perpetrate less than 1 per cent of overall homicides, but attract 99 per cent of media attention, prompting publicity vultures of their kind to step out from the dark and copycat their horrific crimes.
Mind Control

To paraphrase the old adage, guns don’t regulate themselves, people do. No doubt, it’s a commendable idea to tighten up gun legislature: eliminate restrictions on tracing info sharing (Tiahrt amendments), close the gaping loopholes in state laws, ban assault rifles & high capacity clips and establish comprehensive national FBI & ATF data clearing house to encompass prospective buyers, owners & guns.

Alas, in the Disunited States of America, it is a daydream that will scarcely ever come true: a state of anarchy in firearms regulation has been created & guarded by a cabal of special interests, led by the NRA, which controls pusillanimous politicians, represents armed extremists & psychos and discredits responsible gun manufacturers & owners.

If Biden & Bloomberg have the mojo to win the undeclared war by Americans against Americans for Americans, they should set the priorities straight: liberate the USA from the bloody NRA!

Are you ready for the American Spring?

Godspeed and Happy New Year!


«The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,»

Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the NRA

In Washington on Friday, influential National Rifle Association (NRA) broke a week-long silence with a robust defence of its pro-gun position.

Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the NRA, criticised politicians who had «exploited» the tragedy in Newtown for «political gain» and took aim at laws designating schools as gun-free zones.

«They tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk,» he said.

Mr LaPierre called for a national database of the mentally ill and blamed violent video games and films for portraying murder as a «way of life».

He spoke out against the media for demonizing lawful gun owners, and for suggesting a ban on certain types of weapon would be effective.

Congress should authorise funding for armed security in every school in the country, he said, adding that an «extraordinary corps» of trained professionals could be drawn from active and retired police officers, security professionals and firefighters around the country.

Mr LaPierre was interrupted twice by anti-gun protesters carrying banners and declaring that the NRA had «blood on its hands».

The guns used in the shooting had been legally bought by the gunman’s mother, Nancy Lanza.

The shooting has seen some pro-gun congressmen say the mass shooting has prompted them to change their views on whether guns should be regulated more strictly in the US.

Meanwhile California Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has been an advocate for tighter gun laws, said she would introduce new legislation when Congress meets for the first time in the new year.

But there is no bipartisan consensus on the issue, with others backing the NRA line that teachers in schools should be armed in order to better defend students if a shooting occurs.

In recent years, the N.R.A. has aggressively lobbied federal and state governments to dilute or eliminate numerous regulations on gun ownership. And the clearest beneficiary has been the gun industry — sales of firearms and ammunition have grown 5.7 percent a year since 2007, to nearly $12 billion this year, according to IBISWorld, a market research firm. Despite the recession, arms sales have been growing so fast that domestic manufacturers haven’t been able to keep up. Imports of arms have grown 3.6 percent a year in the last five years.
The industry has, in turn, been a big supporter of the N.R.A. It has contributed between $14.7 million and $38.9 million to an N.R.A.-corporate-giving campaign since 2005, according to a report published last year by the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit group that advocates greater gun control. The estimate is based on a study of the N.R.A.’s “Ring of Freedom” program and very likely understates the industry’s total financial support for the association, which does not publicly disclose a comprehensive list of its donors and how much they have given.
Officials from the N.R.A. have repeatedly said their main goal is to protect the Second Amendment rights of rank-and-file members who like to hunt or want guns for protection. But that claim is at odds with surveys that show a majority of N.R.A. members and a majority of American gun owners often support restrictions on gun sales and ownership that the N.R.A. has bitterly fought.
For instance, a 2009 poll commissioned by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that 69 percent of N.R.A. members would support requiring all sellers at gun shows to conduct background checks of prospective buyers, which they do not have to do now and which the N.R.A. has steadfastly argued against. If lawful gun owners are willing to subject themselves to background checks, why is the association resisting? Its position appears only to serve the interest of gun makers and dealers who want to increase sales even if it means having dangerous weapons fall into the hands of criminals and violent individuals.
Businesses and special-interest groups often cloak their profit motives in the garb of constitutional rights — think Big Tobacco and its opposition to restrictions on smoking in public places and bold warnings on cigarette packages. The Supreme Court has made clear that the right to bear arms is not absolute and is subject to regulations and controls. Yet the N.R.A. clings to its groundless arguments that tough regulations violate the Second Amendment. Many of those arguments serve no purpose other than to increase the sales of guns and bullets.


WASHINGTON (AP) — Should veterans deemed too mentally incompetent to handle their own financial affairs be prevented from buying a gun?

The issue, for a time last week, threatened to become the biggest sticking point in a $631 billion defense bill for reshaping a military that is disengaging from a decade of warfare.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., sought to amend the bill to stop the Veterans Affairs Department from putting the names of veterans deemed too mentally incompetent to handle their finances into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which prohibits them from buying or owning firearms.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., objected, saying the measure would make it easier for veterans with mental illness to own a gun, endangering themselves and others.

«I love our veterans, I vote for them all the time. They defend us,» Schumer said. «If you are a veteran or not and you have been judged to be mentally infirm, you should not have a gun.»

Currently, the VA appoints fiduciaries, often family members, to manage the pensions and disability benefits of veterans who are declared incompetent. When that happens, the department automatically enters the veteran’s name in the Criminal Background Check System.

A core group of lawmakers led by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., has for several years wanted to prohibit the VA from submitting those names to the gun-check registry unless a judge or magistrate deems the veteran to be a danger. This year’s version of the bill has 21 co-sponsors. It passed the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee by voice vote, a tactic generally reserved for noncontroversial legislation. Coburn’s amendment to the defense bill contained comparable language.

«All I am saying is, let them at least have their day in court if you are going to take away a fundamental right given under the Constitution,» Coburn said in the Senate debate last Thursday night.

Congressional aides said Coburn will likely drop his effort to amend the defense bill with his proposal, but that he intends to try again on other bills coming to the Senate floor.

The number of veterans directly affected by the VA’s policy doesn’t appear to very large. Only 185 out of some 127,000 veterans added to the gun-check registry since 1998 have sought to have their names taken off, according to data that the VA shared with lawmakers during a hearing last June.

Still, the legislation over the years has attracted strong support from the National Rifle Association and various advocacy groups for veterans.

«We consider it an abject tragedy that so many of our veterans return home, after risking life and limb to defend our freedom, only to be stripped of their Second Amendment rights because they need help managing their compensation,» Chris Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, wrote last year in an editorial.

The NRA did not respond to queries from the AP about Coburn’s latest effort.

Dan Gross, president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said gun control advocates consider the VA’s current policy reasonable.

«We’re talking about people who have some form of disability to the extent that they’re unable to manage their own affairs,» Gross said. «If you’re deemed unable to handle your own affairs, that’s likely to constitute a high percentage of people who are dangerously mentally ill.»

Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said veterans with a traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder but who pose no threat to others are possibly being barred from gun ownership. The current restrictions might even be a disincentive for veterans to seek needed treatment, he said.

«We want to remove these stigmas for mental health treatment. It’s a combat injury,» Tarantino said. «They wouldn’t be doing this if you were missing your right hand, so they shouldn’t be doing it if you’re seeking treatment for post-traumatic-stress-disorder or traumatic brain injury.»

VA officials have told lawmakers they believe veterans deemed incompetent already have adequate protections.

For example, they said, veterans can appeal the finding of incompetency based on new evidence. And even if the VA maintains a veteran is incompetent, he can petition the agency to have his firearm rights restored on the basis of not posing a threat to public safety.


Jul 3, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Last week, a federal judge permanently blocked Florida from enforcing a law that banned doctors from discussing gun ownership with their patients. The law, the Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act, signed last year by Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL), prohibited “inquiries regarding firearm ownership or possession…by licensed health care practitioners” and “discrimination…based solely on upon a patient’s firearm ownership or possession.”

Because the law’s exceptions, which allow inquiries about guns if a doctor believes in “good faith” that it is relevant to a patient’s care or safety, fail to provide standards for physicians to follow, the law violates the First Amendment rights of doctors:

In her ruling, Cooke clearly sided with the physicians, saying evidence showed that physicians began “self-censoring” because of the “chilling” effect of the legislation.

“What is curious about this law — and what makes it different from so many other laws involving practitioners’ speech — is that it aims to restrict a practitioner’s ability to provide truthful, non-misleading information to a patient, whether relevant or not at the time of the consult with the patient,” Cooke wrote, citing the benefit of such “preventive medicine.” […]

Cooke, the judge, said the legislation was based on anecdotal information and unfounded conjecture. Her decision was praised by the groups of plaintiffs, which included the Florida Pediatric Society and Florida Academy of Family Physicians.

Not only did the NRA-backed Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act violate doctors’ First Amendment rights, it interfered with routine, meaningful discussion between a doctor and a patient. Questions concerning safety and the home environment are a key part of preventative medicine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics believes that guns constitute a public health issue and that doctors have a duty to ask about ownership.

Out of the 65 children shot in the U.S. every day, eight are killed. And of the one-third of homes with children that have firearms in them, 40 percent store them unlocked. Guns unquestionably affect the health of American children, just as “the presence of open containers of bleach, swimming pools, balloons, and toilet locks” do.

–Alex Brown

  Gold Star Open Carry State
  Open Carry Friendly State
  Licensed Open Carry State
  Non Permissive Open Carry State
  Rural Open Carry State

In the United States, open carry is shorthand terminology for «openly carrying a firearm in public«, as distinguished from concealed carry, where firearms cannot be seen by the casual observer.

The practice of open carry, where gun owners openly carry firearms while they go about their daily business, has seen an increase in the U.S. in recent years.[1][2] This has been marked by a number of organized events intended to increase the visibility of open carry and public awareness about the practice.[3]

Proponents of open carry point to history and statistics, noting that criminals usually conceal their weapons: The 2006 FBI study «Violent Encounters: A Study of Felonious Assaults on Our Nation’s Law Enforcement Officers» by Anthony Pinizzotto revealed that criminals carefully conceal their firearms, and they eschew the use of holsters.[4] Encouraged by groups like OpenCarry.org, GeorgiaCarry.org and some participants of the Free State Project, open carry has seen a revival in recent years,[5][6][7] but it is not yet clear if this represents just a short-term trend.[8][9]

The gun rights community has been mixed in its response. Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation and the NRA have been cautious in expressing support,[10] while special-interest groups such as the aforementioned OpenCarry.org and GeorgiaCarry.org, state-level groups such as the Texas State Rifle Association (TSRA), and certain national groups such as the Gun Owners of America (GOA) have been more outspoken in favor of the practice.

Open carry is strongly opposed by gun control groups such as the Brady Campaign and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

In the United States, the laws concerning open carry vary by state and sometimes by municipality.

Definitions

Open carry
The act of publicly carrying a loaded firearm on one’s person in plain sight.
Plain sight
Broadly defined as not being hidden from common observation; varies somewhat from state to state.
Preemption
In the context of open carry: the act of a state legislature passing laws which limit or eliminate the ability of local governments to regulate the possession or carrying of firearms.
Prohibited persons
People prohibited by law from carrying a firearm. Typical examples are felons, those convicted of a misdemeanor of domestic violence, those found to be addicted to alcohol or drugs, and those who have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution.

Today in the United States, the laws vary from state to state regarding open carry of firearms. The categories are defined as follows:

Permissive open carry states
A state has passed full preemption of all firearms laws. They permit open carry to all non-prohibited citizens without permit or license. Open carry is lawful on foot and in a motor vehicle. Shown on the map to the right as «Gold Star» states; the term carries a pro-gun bias, as gun-control advocacy groups like the Brady Center generally give these states very low «scores» on their own ratings systems.
Licensed open carry states
A state has passed full preemption of all firearms laws. They permit open carry of a handgun to all non-prohibited citizens once they have been issued a permit or license. Open carry of a handgun is lawful on foot and in a motor vehicle.
Anomalous open carry states
In these states, open carry of a handgun is generally lawful, but the state may lack preemption or there may be other significant restrictions. Shown in the map legend as «Open Carry Friendly» states; the term is questionable as the limitations and/or lack of pre-emption means that certain areas of these states are, in their judicial system and law enforcement societies, not very «friendly» towards the practice.
Non-permissive open carry states
In these states, open carry of a handgun is not lawful, or is only lawful under such a limited set of circumstances that public carry is prohibited. Such limited circumstances may include when hunting, or while traveling to/from hunting locations, while on property controlled by the person carrying, or for lawful self-defense.

Open carry has never been ruled out as a right under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by any court. In the majority opinion in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), Justice Antonin Scalia wrote concerning the entirety of the elements of the Second Amendment; «We find that they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.» However, Scalia continued, «Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.»[14]

Forty-three states’ constitutions recognize and secure the right to keep and bear arms in some form, and none of those prohibit the open carrying of firearms. Five state constitutions provide that the state legislature may regulate the manner of carrying or bearing arms, and advocates argue that none rule out open carry specifically. Nine states’ constitutions indicate that the concealed carrying of firearms may be regulated and/or prohibited by the state legislature. Open carry advocates argue that, by exclusion, open carrying of arms may not be legislatively controlled in these states. But this is not settled law.[citation needed]

Section 1.7 [15] of Kentucky’s state constitution only empowers the state to enact laws prohibiting «concealed carry».

Concealed carry, or CCW (carrying a concealed weapon), refers to the practice of carrying a handgun or other weapon in public in a concealed manner, either on one’s person or in proximity.

While there is no federal law specifically addressing the issuance of concealed carry permits, 49 states have passed laws allowing citizens to carry certain concealed firearms in public, either without a permit or after obtaining a permit from local government and/or law enforcement.[1] Illinois is the only state without such a provision. The states give different terms for licenses or permits to carry a concealed firearm, such as a Concealed Handgun License/Permit (CHL/CHP), Concealed (Defensive/Deadly) Weapon Permit/License (CDWL/CWP/CWL), Concealed Carry Permit/License (CCP/CCL), License To Carry (Firearms) (LTC/LTCF), Carry of Concealed Deadly Weapon license (CCDW), Concealed Pistol License (CPL), etc. Thirteen states use a single permit to regulate the practices of both concealed and open carry of a handgun.
Some states publish statistics indicating how many residents hold permits to carry concealed weapons, and their demographics. For example, Florida has issued 2,031,106 licenses since adopting its law in 1987, and had 843,463 licensed permit holders as of July 31, 2011.[2] Reported permit holders are predominantly male.[3] Some states have reported the number of permit holders increasing over time.[4]

The number of permit revocations is typically small.


by Joshua Vogel on September 10, 2011

I’m a liberal (or progressive, if you prefer the term). I’ve always had mixed feelings about gun ownership. As a child, I enjoyed playing with cap guns, and a macho, caveman corner of my personality has always liked the idea of wielding a weapon. But, the rational pragmatist in me has never been able to actually justify owning a gun.

Every so often I’ll get the urge to buy a gun for defense purposes. But when I start to reflect on it, I realize that I can’t really envision a situation where I’d need to use it. I mean, sure- I can picture a home break-in, where I’d run to the closet and open my gun safe and pull out a hand gun… but such scenarios feel like the boyhood daydreams of fighting a terrorist (and/or ninja) takeover of my high school. Even if it were to happen, it seems like something that would always play out better in my head than it would in real life.

I’m not a paranoid person. I enjoy reading the masturbatory rants of the folks who contribute to forums about the upcoming collapse of society, or post survivalist or “prepper” videos on youtube, or fret about “Peak Oil”. But I take all these things with more than a grain of salt. For the most part they are unsupported (or poorly supported) fears mixed with outright delusions.

But a couple things happened this week that did finally tip me over the edge and seriously consider a gun purchase: I watched the Republican Presidential Debates, and I heard Obama’s Address to Congress.

As someone who was recently unemployed for well over a year, and who saw his father get laid off during the tail end of that period, I now know firsthand the deep despair that fills someone who can’t get a foothold in this economy. If I hadn’t had the support of my family and friends, I may well have ended up homeless (and that’s within months of receiving a law degree).

Multiply that anxiety by the 14 million unemployed folks in this country, and the countless underemployed, and it’s not hard to see that there are a lot of scared and angry people out there.

Other countries– large, stable countries– have begun to see riots. Without an immediate reversal in course, it is only a matter of time before we see riots in the U.S. –which brings me back to the debates, and the President’s speech.

All of the front-running Republicans have decided that the path to economic recovery is a return to the laissez faire system of government– the same philosophy that was in place when America’s working class was at its weakest, poorest, and most abused. This isn’t a big surprise. As other, well respected, authors have noted, almost all modern Republican policies can be traced back to a singular goal: the creation of cheap labor. That’s all well and good, unless you are the labor. And, in case you didn’t know: 99% of us are the labor.

The President’s speech the next day didn’t make me feel any better. Don’t get me wrong, I think it was a terrific speech- or at least it would have been if he had given it two years ago when it might have done some good. But it’s too late in the game for half-measures. Even if the President got everything that he asked for (he won’t), it still wouldn’t make a significant dent in the unemployment crisis.

So I spent the next few days thinking about the state of nation, and imaging what America is going to look like in a few years. If Obama stays in power without a liberal Congress, things will be much the same for years to come: political gridlock and slowly worsening conditions for the middle class.

If the Republicans take back the executive branch, then political gridlock is the best we can hope for. If they’re able to get traction with their radical fiscal policies, they’ll keep feeding our money to corporations, banks and the ultra-wealthy. The middle class will shrink. More of us will fall into poverty, and with fewer people buying any products, even the large corporations will start to buckle and fail.

With more unemployment, more disparity between the haves and have-nots, and no clear path to prosperity in sight, I can no longer pretend that the U.S. is the stable and secure place I always knew it to be.

It is no longer unreasonable to think that things may go from bad to much, much worse. I’m not saying that an economic collapse will happen, or even that it it is likely to happen. Nor can I begin to predict the severity or duration of any crash that might occur. But in the current political climate it feels foolhardy to ignore the possibility that something very bad is on the horizon.

If you’re skeptically minded, you may be thinking that I’m being alarmist or that my anxiety is premature. You’re right of course. But there’s logic behind my madness. History is rife with examples giant social upheavals that happen with very little notice. Most recently, Egypt taught us that lesson anew. That country went from protests to revolution in a span of days.

I’m not saying that the U.S. is poised for such a revolution, of course- but I am saying that things could turn ugly here, very quickly. With the proper trigger, massive protests could form. If handled poorly, those protests could easily turn to riots. If it can happen in the U.K., it can certainly happen here. And how big could those riots be? And how long might they last? And by the time we’ve figured out the answers to those questions, will it be too late to prepare?

And so, for the first time in my life, I found myself in a gun shop, talking to the proprietor about a good beginner’s firearm for someone who is interested in home defense.

If you’ve never been to a large gun shop (and I’m sure many progressives have not), I strongly recommend that you step inside. For my part, I found the place unsettling. For the first time in my life I held a working firearm, but I didn’t feel any safer– quite the contrary, as a matter of fact.

The thing about being a liberal in a gun shop is that you are privy to a lot of conversations that you wouldn’t otherwise hear. It was rather like walking into a Tea Party convention.

The shop I went to was near my home in North Carolina. When the gruff man behind the counter found out that I was from Massachusetts, he openly mocked it for being a “socialist” state. Moments later, I overheard a woman loudly ranting about how Obama’s job plan was “destroying the country” with more spending. She was interested in buying some gold coins for when the economy collapsed.

To be fair, most folks were just there to talk about guns, and play with guns, and buy new gadgets to affix to their guns. Their comfort and knowledge of firearms made me feel nervous. I was in store full of 50+ people who didn’t feel at all shy about expressing their distain for liberals and “socialists”. All of them, I’m convinced, would have had no trouble gunning me down in an honest firefight.

I went into that store to buy a gun to protect my family in the event of a riot. I walked out feeling very nervous that if their actually was major social upheaval in the United States, a lot of angry conservatives would have no problem forming an organized militia, and they wouldn’t have a whole lot of sympathy for the scores of unarmed “socialist” progressives out there.

Now I find myself wishing that liberals would flock to gun shops en masse so that they can see the world I caught a glimpse of, and so that they could interact with the same folks I did, and maybe engage in some lively political discussion. These gun shops are factories for unchecked Tea-Party-style nonsense. It means that a lot of angry and armed folks are spending their days amplifying each other’s misunderstanding and distrust of the rest of us.

And also- (and I realize that this part is just pure paranoia)– I’d like to know that if things ever really degrade, there would be a whole lot of armed liberals out there to keep the armed conservatives in check. Or at the very least, I’d like enough of them to lay down sufficient cover fire for me while I run from Whole Foods back to my Prius.


Why Americans now carry handguns in so many public places, from parks to college campuses. Is it making the country safer or more dangerous?

By Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer / March 11, 2012

Garner, N.C.

Leaning against a scrub pine as preschoolers scurry about at his feet, Shane Gazda, father of 3-year-old twins, recalls a conundrum he faced earlier that morning: whether to take his Smith & Wesson .40 caliber handgun to a Groundhog Day celebration in this town’s White Deer Park.

After all, what was once against the law in North Carolina – carrying a concealed gun in a town park, square, or greenway – is now, as of Dec. 1, 2011, very much allowed. To Mr. Gazda, who likes to shoot targets in his backyard, an event as innocent as paying homage to a rodent could turn dangerous if the wrong person shows up.

«Part of it is being ready for cataclysm every day,» says Gazda, a hospital maintenance engineer. «And to be honest, I started carrying precisely to protect not just myself, but my family, and anyone around me who needs help.»

Gun laws: How much do you know?

In the end, Gazda left the gun at home. But his internal debate is emblematic of one a growing number of Americans are having almost daily. Thirty years after a powerful gun-control movement swept the country, Americans are embracing the idea of owning and carrying firearms with a zeal rarely seen since the days of muskets and militias.

A combination of favorable court rulings, grass-roots activism, traditional fears of crime, and modern anxieties about government has led to what may be a tipping point on an issue that just a few years ago was one of America’s most contentious. Gun rights have now expanded to the point where the fundamental question seems not to be «should we be able to carry guns,» but instead is «where can’t we carry them?«

The answer: not very many places.

The new North Carolina statute, in fact, is one of hundreds of new gun-friendly laws enacted by states and localities in the past few years alone. Mississippi lawmakers, for instance, recently voted to allow gun owners who take an extra safety class to carry hidden weapons on college campuses and in courthouses. Ohio has granted people with permits the right to bring concealed weapons into restaurants, bars, and sports arenas. A 2010 Indiana law stipulates that private business owners let employees keep guns in their cars when parked on company property. And New Hampshire, along with several other states, has removed restrictions on bearing arms in the ultimate politically symbolic place – the State House.

In 2009, three times as many pro-gun laws were passed in the United States as antigun measures – a trend that experts say has only accelerated since then. Fully 40 states now mandate that anyone who asks for a concealed-carry permit and meets the qualifications must be issued one. One result: The number of concealed-weapon license holders in the US has gone from a few hundred thousand 10 years ago to more than 6 million today. In some parts of Tennessee, 1 out of every 11 people on the street is either carrying a weapon or has a license to do so.

«It’s a huge sea change, and one lesson to take out of all of this is that it’s amazing how fast attitudes on constitutional issues can change,» says Glenn Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and the author of «An Army of Davids.» «The thinking has turned in a way that many thought to be impossible only 15 years ago.»

By CAMERON MCWHIRTER and KARISHMA MEHROTRA
June 29, 2014 9:11 p.m. ET

ATLANTA—Bars, houses of worship, and other public establishments are wrestling with what to do about a new law in Georgia that starting on Tuesday dramatically will expand gun-permit holders' right to carry weapons where people congregate.

The law allows licensed gun owners to bring weapons to bars and houses of worship, unless forbidden by proprietors. Legally-owned guns also are allowed in unrestricted areas of airports and government buildings, and may be carried at schools and in colleges if permitted by officials.

Several other states allow guns in bars or churches, but Georgia's "Safe Carry Protection Act," which passed the state legislature overwhelmingly earlier this year, is unusual in that it expanded gun rights in multiple places with one omnibus law.



This is horrifying: According to multiple news outlets, a Target employee found a loaded handgun in the toy aisle of a store in South Carolina.

When you're shopping at Target, you shouldn't have to worry about someone parading around with a semiautomatic rifle, or whether your kid is going to find a loaded handgun while looking at toys.

More than 115,000 people have already signed the petition to Target asking for gun sense policies to protect customers and employees from gun violence -- and over the next two days volunteers are going to be delivering these petitions all across the country.

Gun extremists armed with semiautomatic rifles have walked into Target locations around the country, weapons out and loaded, making sure customers saw their guns.
It’s often legal to do this, because many states have weak laws that allow people to openly carry around loaded weapons without any permits, training, or background checks. That means it’s up to companies themselves to protect their customers when the law won’t. Yet according to the Wall Street Journal, Target doesn’t have any policies to stop people from carrying weapons in its stores:
Target, which boasts on its website that between 80% and 90% of its customers are women, has no restrictions on customers carrying guns in its stores.
Chipotle, Starbucks, Chili’s, Sonic Drive-In, and Jack in the Box have already responded to petitions from moms and other gun sense supporters asking the stores not to allow guns. Now it’s up to Target to protect families who shop in its stores..

Sign the petition




Concealed weapon law tossed by fed appeals court

Published February 13, 2014Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO – A divided federal appeals court on Thursday struck down California's concealed weapons rules, saying they violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

By a 2-1 vote, the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said California was wrong to require applicants to show good cause to receive a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

"The right to bear arms includes the right to carry an operable firearm outside the home for the lawful purpose of self-defense," Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain wrote for the majority.








September 24, 2013

It has been 577 days since George Zimmerman shot and killed our son Travyon. And it's been 74 days since a jury set George Zimmerman free, in part because of broken "Stand Your Ground" laws that protect killers like Zimmerman -- killers who first instigate conflicts and then claim self-defense.
In July, we started a petition on Change.org calling for "Stand Your Ground" laws to be reviewed and amended nationwide, but we need to turn up the pressure in order to change the same law in Texas.
Can you start your own petition calling on Governor Perry and the Texas legislature to review and amend Texas' "Stand Your Ground" law so that people like George Zimmerman can't kill with impunity?
Reviewing and amending separate laws in 22 different states isn't going to be easy -- we can't do it on our own. That's why we're asking for your help in Texas, because we know that Governor Perry and your state legislature will be most heavily influenced by the voices of constituents like you.
We already know that there's a major groundswell of people who want to see these laws amended, because more than 400,000 people have signed our petition. Now it's time to take that energy and harness it, state by state, to make sure no one can stalk, chase, and kill an unarmed child and get away with it.
Not in Texas. Not in Florida. Not anywhere in America.
Our grief is overwhelming, but we are fortified by our fight to honor Trayvon's memory by fixing these broken laws. Starting a petition only takes a few minutes. Yours could be the voice that makes sure no child in Texas ever has to experience what happened to our son.
Click here to start your own petition calling on Governor Perry and the Texas legislature to review and amend Texas' "Stand Your Ground" laws.
Thank you for standing with us, and with Trayvon.
Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton




Friend --

My son, Daniel, was a smart, quiet kid.

He'd just become a straight-A student, and he was overcoming his shyness as a new member of the debate team.

On April 20th, 1999, my beautiful and bright 15-year-old son was killed by two teenagers with guns in the library of Columbine High School -- one of 12 innocent kids who lost their lives for no reason at all.

It's been 14 years since that horrible day -- 14 years of fighting so no family has to grieve like ours did.

These tragedies keep happening, and so far, Congress has failed to take common-sense action to stop them -- even though nine in 10 Americans have agreed that it's time to act by expanding background checks to close the loopholes that put guns in the hands of dangerous people.

This Wednesday, OFA and allied organizations are standing up for a national Day of Action to ask members of Congress: What will it take to finally act to prevent gun violence?

I hope you'll join in -- say you'll do one thing this week to show Congress you want action to prevent gun violence.

The last questions you ever want to hear as a parent are: "What was your child wearing, and do you have any dental records?"

That's what the police asked me the evening of the shooting at Columbine High, as they tried to establish who had been killed.

It was the most hopeless I'd ever felt.

Since Daniel's death, I've found a way to honor him: by trying to prevent other families from feeling this pain. I've advocated locally and nationally for smarter gun laws -- even helping achieve a statewide ballot victory here in Colorado.

In December, when I heard about the shooting in Newtown, I sat in my office and broke down. I was watching another community torn apart by guns -- more parents grieving, more kids who would never see graduation, or a wedding, or a family of their own.

And in the wake of another tragedy, nine in 10 Americans agreed that it was time to act -- expand background checks to close the loopholes that put guns in the hands of dangerous people.

But Congress disappointed us, putting politics above the safety of our kids.

That's why this week, we're asking: How many parents will have to go through what I did before we say "enough"?

You should be a part of this, too. Tell Congress you're going to keep asking until they act:

http://my.barackobama.com/Do-One-Thing-for-Gun-Violence-Prevention

Thank you,

Tom

Tom Mauser
Littleton, Colorado







January 17, 2013

On Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the sweeping gun measure, the nation's toughest. It includes a ban on the possession of high-capacity magazines.

The
 statute currently written does NOT exempt law enforcement officers. The NYPD, the State Police and virtually every law enforcement agency in the state carry 9-millimeter guns, which have a 15-round capacity.

Unless an exemption is added by the time the law takes effect in March, police would technically be in violation of the new gun measure. A spokesman for the Governor's office called us to say, "We are still working out some details of the law and the exemption will be included."





Published: 31 December, 2012, 18:57

There’s no country in the world where you can’t smoke a cigar in a bar, but you may sip bourbon with your Colt Python – only in America!

While the Pentagon assiduously burns billions of dollars to export the cult of violence abroad, in the meantime, back at the domestic front, the Connecticut carnage has resurrected the moribund discussion about the perennial issue: the national suicidal pastime which annually devours 30,000 people, including 2,800 kids.

Even US casualties in Afghanistan – 309 KIA in 2012 – is no match to 414 murders in New York City the same year, celebrated as the record-lowest level in over four decades, down from the apex of 2,000 annual homicides, which accidentally coincides with the overall Operation Enduring Freedom body-count since the beginning of the invasion.

I ain’t no gun-shy latte-lapping liberal or trigger-happy loony. As a veteran and responsible gun owner with a concealed carry permit, I have to admit that the sheer enormity of violence in the US doesn’t jibe well with black & white, left & right polarized partisanship.



In essence, the debate is divided & dominated by one question – what is the main culprit of the homeland heinous crimes, a deadly gun or an evil mind?

In Utopia, nobody would pack heat and everybody would live in harmony, in Dystopia, everybody would be armed to the teeth and dangerously paranoiac.

Given a choice between disarmament & arms race, the USA today is on a fast track to destination D – distraction or despair, you name it.
Spiking the guns

There’s no doubt that all too often, firearms figure prominently as killing multipliers in endemic shooting sprees. Nevertheless, to single them out as the one & only reason that gnaws at the heart of America would be:

– Morally & intellectually dishonest, absolving society at large, the local community and individuals in particular from any duty & responsibility and shifting the blame from the perpetrators & collaborators to the material evidence to the crime.

– Disingenuous – if guns were intrinsically sinful, the US president, Congress and the Supreme Court wouldn’t kowtow to NRA. Stand united, and they’d show the true colors and call for abolition of the 2nd Amendment and comprehensive weapons ban.

– Cynical – drugs, fast food & soft drink legally and profitably hurt more kids than illegal access to alcohol, tobacco & firearms. Who would dare to infringe on ‘freedom of choice’ and prohibit all sweet & slow killers?

The point is it takes a wicked mind to convert a gun into a murderous accomplice, not the other way around.
Multiple delivery vehicles

The gun manufacturing industry is just a little bro of the omnipotent military industrial complex, but it wields tremendous clout over its customer base in the most politicized business in the US.

Some of its ethically-free members shamelessly exploit & condone the cult of violence, propagated by entertainment industry, as freebie product placement in toys, movies, TV and video training games, including the nefarious “Kindergarten Killer.”
Target audience

So what drives the restless minds to ubiquitous guns, making Americans pony up $12 billion for arms & ammo a year, come hell or high water? Here’s a cursory profiling, but some characters could be tempted by multiple motives:

Frontier spirit: The true believers in the sacrosanct right for any individual to bear arms under the aegis of the 2nd Amendment. They flatly refuse to consider a “states’ rights” view that the purpose of the clause is only to protect the states in their authority to maintain formal, organized militia units which are currently substituted and overrepresented by the Pentagon and the National Guard.

Whether they need a gun or not, it doesn’t matter: for ‘the freedom fighters’, the ‘right’ to cling to firearms is article of faith in preordained exceptionalism, the ultimate totem of Americana, which, even if imported, is more symbolic than Stetson hats and Lucchese boots made in the USA.

‘The freedom fighters’ are the posse comitatus and the stormtroopers of the NRA who are ready to fight tooth & nail against Indians, Brits, aliens, commies, feds and legislators to protect their rights to bear arms any time anywhere, no matter what and the hell with individual responsibility and public safety.

Collecting spirit: This is a rarified breed of aloof connoisseurs which are mostly intelligence & military types, active duty and otherwise. They keep a low profile and enjoy the pleasure of quietly building up their exquisite caches to the envy of their pals at local SWAT teams. They keep their powder dry, but they’re the champs at burning their greenbacks on amassing the formidable arsenals of trophies.

Shooting spirit: They love it, they know it and they do it skillfully, safely & responsibly. As hunters and sports enthusiasts, ‘the weekend warriors’ wastemore ammo than all other categories combined, being the most active fun-loving crowd among gun owners. They don’t bullshit about guns & rights. For them, it’s all about shooting the bull’s eye.

Shopping spirit: Impulsive & skittish customers – prodded by the fear factor, peer pressure and propaganda of violence, these armchair commandos and wannabe Rambos ogle a gun as an adult pacifier with ‘cool’ bragging rights, a tangible insurance against intangible threats, however remote & imaginary.

This nervous Nellie types are suckers for bigger, ‘badder’ guns, which they honestly believe could compensate their total lack of situational awareness and friend or foe selective accuracy under the adrenalin rush of the enemy fire.

They are the driving force of consumerism and the firepower fetishism, oblivious to mundane murder depredations, only to be jolted into panic hoarding after media coverage of another shooting rampage or gun limitations rumor mill.
Possessed & obsessed

The extreme sides of the antisocial personality disorder are lopsidedly represented by the traditional ‘sane’ majority and deinstitutionalized & marginalized ‘insane’ minority:

Long-time active serial killers: career criminals who don’t have suicidal ideations or qualms of conscience. As outlaws and the main customers of the firearms black market, they illegally & easily get anything they want and couldn’t care less about regulations & restrictions for legit gun owners.

The committed killers, isolated & organized, are responsible for the overwhelming majority of homicides – with and without firearms – but haven’t gotten the public attention they deserve. The true heroes of the violence cult who made America exceptional by the notorious homicide rate (which exceeds Japan’s by 1,000 times), they represent & reproduce its core value, the freedom to kill & be killed.

One-time dormant multiple murderers: the miserable misfits aka psychos, while not necessarily ‘born to kill’, have their worst basic instinct awakened & conditioned by omnipresent propaganda of violence & vengeance.

They are the ultimate customers of the cult, who are capable to decode its subliminal message – death shall make thou free – into clarion call to action as the ‘ultimate solution’ to settle the scores with the hostile society.

The liberals have ‘liberated’ maniacs from involuntary commitment, exposing them to the ‘values’ of violence, while the NRA has lobbied to protect their rights to legally obtain & keep firearms, thus channeling their macabre fantasies into the outer world.

These ‘accidental’ murderers, neglected or abused by their families & communities, perpetrate less than 1 per cent of overall homicides, but attract 99 per cent of media attention, prompting publicity vultures of their kind to step out from the dark and copycat their horrific crimes.
Mind Control

To paraphrase the old adage, guns don’t regulate themselves, people do. No doubt, it’s a commendable idea to tighten up gun legislature: eliminate restrictions on tracing info sharing (Tiahrt amendments), close the gaping loopholes in state laws, ban assault rifles & high capacity clips and establish comprehensive national FBI & ATF data clearing house to encompass prospective buyers, owners & guns.

Alas, in the Disunited States of America, it is a daydream that will scarcely ever come true: a state of anarchy in firearms regulation has been created & guarded by a cabal of special interests, led by the NRA, which controls pusillanimous politicians, represents armed extremists & psychos and discredits responsible gun manufacturers & owners.

If Biden & Bloomberg have the mojo to win the undeclared war by Americans against Americans for Americans, they should set the priorities straight: liberate the USA from the bloody NRA!

Are you ready for the American Spring?

Godspeed and Happy New Year!




"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,"

Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the NRA
In Washington on Friday, influential National Rifle Association (NRA) broke a week-long silence with a robust defence of its pro-gun position.

Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the NRA, criticised politicians who had "exploited" the tragedy in Newtown for "political gain" and took aim at laws designating schools as gun-free zones.

"They tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk," he said.

Mr LaPierre called for a national database of the mentally ill and blamed violent video games and films for portraying murder as a "way of life".

He spoke out against the media for demonizing lawful gun owners, and for suggesting a ban on certain types of weapon would be effective.

Congress should authorise funding for armed security in every school in the country, he said, adding that an "extraordinary corps" of trained professionals could be drawn from active and retired police officers, security professionals and firefighters around the country.



Mr LaPierre was interrupted twice by anti-gun protesters carrying banners and declaring that the NRA had "blood on its hands".

The guns used in the shooting had been legally bought by the gunman's mother, Nancy Lanza.

The shooting has seen some pro-gun congressmen say the mass shooting has prompted them to change their views on whether guns should be regulated more strictly in the US.

Meanwhile California Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has been an advocate for tighter gun laws, said she would introduce new legislation when Congress meets for the first time in the new year.

But there is no bipartisan consensus on the issue, with others backing the NRA line that teachers in schools should be armed in order to better defend students if a shooting occurs.

In recent years, the N.R.A. has aggressively lobbied federal and state governments to dilute or eliminate numerous regulations on gun ownership. And the clearest beneficiary has been the gun industry — sales of firearms and ammunition have grown 5.7 percent a year since 2007, to nearly $12 billion this year, according to IBISWorld, a market research firm. Despite the recession, arms sales have been growing so fast that domestic manufacturers haven’t been able to keep up. Imports of arms have grown 3.6 percent a year in the last five years.
The industry has, in turn, been a big supporter of the N.R.A. It has contributed between $14.7 million and $38.9 million to an N.R.A.-corporate-giving campaign since 2005, according to a report published last year by the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit group that advocates greater gun control. The estimate is based on a study of the N.R.A.’s “Ring of Freedom” program and very likely understates the industry’s total financial support for the association, which does not publicly disclose a comprehensive list of its donors and how much they have given.
Officials from the N.R.A. have repeatedly said their main goal is to protect the Second Amendment rights of rank-and-file members who like to hunt or want guns for protection. But that claim is at odds with surveys that show a majority of N.R.A. members and a majority of American gun owners often support restrictions on gun sales and ownership that the N.R.A. has bitterly fought.
For instance, a 2009 poll commissioned by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that 69 percent of N.R.A. members would support requiring all sellers at gun shows to conduct background checks of prospective buyers, which they do not have to do now and which the N.R.A. has steadfastly argued against. If lawful gun owners are willing to subject themselves to background checks, why is the association resisting? Its position appears only to serve the interest of gun makers and dealers who want to increase sales even if it means having dangerous weapons fall into the hands of criminals and violent individuals.
Businesses and special-interest groups often cloak their profit motives in the garb of constitutional rights — think Big Tobacco and its opposition to restrictions on smoking in public places and bold warnings on cigarette packages. The Supreme Court has made clear that the right to bear arms is not absolute and is subject to regulations and controls. Yet the N.R.A. clings to its groundless arguments that tough regulations violate the Second Amendment. Many of those arguments serve no purpose other than to increase the sales of guns and bullets.





WASHINGTON (AP) — Should veterans deemed too mentally incompetent to handle their own financial affairs be prevented from buying a gun?

The issue, for a time last week, threatened to become the biggest sticking point in a $631 billion defense bill for reshaping a military that is disengaging from a decade of warfare.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., sought to amend the bill to stop the Veterans Affairs Department from putting the names of veterans deemed too mentally incompetent to handle their finances into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which prohibits them from buying or owning firearms.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., objected, saying the measure would make it easier for veterans with mental illness to own a gun, endangering themselves and others.

"I love our veterans, I vote for them all the time. They defend us," Schumer said. "If you are a veteran or not and you have been judged to be mentally infirm, you should not have a gun."

Currently, the VA appoints fiduciaries, often family members, to manage the pensions and disability benefits of veterans who are declared incompetent. When that happens, the department automatically enters the veteran's name in the Criminal Background Check System.



A core group of lawmakers led by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., has for several years wanted to prohibit the VA from submitting those names to the gun-check registry unless a judge or magistrate deems the veteran to be a danger. This year's version of the bill has 21 co-sponsors. It passed the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee by voice vote, a tactic generally reserved for noncontroversial legislation. Coburn's amendment to the defense bill contained comparable language.

"All I am saying is, let them at least have their day in court if you are going to take away a fundamental right given under the Constitution," Coburn said in the Senate debate last Thursday night.

Congressional aides said Coburn will likely drop his effort to amend the defense bill with his proposal, but that he intends to try again on other bills coming to the Senate floor.

The number of veterans directly affected by the VA's policy doesn't appear to very large. Only 185 out of some 127,000 veterans added to the gun-check registry since 1998 have sought to have their names taken off, according to data that the VA shared with lawmakers during a hearing last June.

Still, the legislation over the years has attracted strong support from the National Rifle Association and various advocacy groups for veterans.

"We consider it an abject tragedy that so many of our veterans return home, after risking life and limb to defend our freedom, only to be stripped of their Second Amendment rights because they need help managing their compensation," Chris Cox, the NRA's chief lobbyist, wrote last year in an editorial.

The NRA did not respond to queries from the AP about Coburn's latest effort.

Dan Gross, president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said gun control advocates consider the VA's current policy reasonable.

"We're talking about people who have some form of disability to the extent that they're unable to manage their own affairs," Gross said. "If you're deemed unable to handle your own affairs, that's likely to constitute a high percentage of people who are dangerously mentally ill."

Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said veterans with a traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder but who pose no threat to others are possibly being barred from gun ownership. The current restrictions might even be a disincentive for veterans to seek needed treatment, he said.

"We want to remove these stigmas for mental health treatment. It's a combat injury," Tarantino said. "They wouldn't be doing this if you were missing your right hand, so they shouldn't be doing it if you're seeking treatment for post-traumatic-stress-disorder or traumatic brain injury."

VA officials have told lawmakers they believe veterans deemed incompetent already have adequate protections.

For example, they said, veterans can appeal the finding of incompetency based on new evidence. And even if the VA maintains a veteran is incompetent, he can petition the agency to have his firearm rights restored on the basis of not posing a threat to public safety.



Jul 3, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Last week, a federal judge permanently blocked Florida from enforcing a law that banned doctors from discussing gun ownership with their patients. The law, the Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act, signed last year by Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL), prohibited “inquiries regarding firearm ownership or possession…by licensed health care practitioners” and “discrimination…based solely on upon a patient’s firearm ownership or possession.”

Because the law’s exceptions, which allow inquiries about guns if a doctor believes in “good faith” that it is relevant to a patient’s care or safety, fail to provide standards for physicians to follow, the law violates the First Amendment rights of doctors:



In her ruling, Cooke clearly sided with the physicians, saying evidence showed that physicians began “self-censoring” because of the “chilling” effect of the legislation.

“What is curious about this law — and what makes it different from so many other laws involving practitioners’ speech — is that it aims to restrict a practitioner’s ability to provide truthful, non-misleading information to a patient, whether relevant or not at the time of the consult with the patient,” Cooke wrote, citing the benefit of such “preventive medicine.” [...]

Cooke, the judge, said the legislation was based on anecdotal information and unfounded conjecture. Her decision was praised by the groups of plaintiffs, which included the Florida Pediatric Society and Florida Academy of Family Physicians.

Not only did the NRA-backed Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act violate doctors’ First Amendment rights, it interfered with routine, meaningful discussion between a doctor and a patient. Questions concerning safety and the home environment are a key part of preventative medicine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics believes that guns constitute a public health issue and that doctors have a duty to ask about ownership.

Out of the 65 children shot in the U.S. every day, eight are killed. And of the one-third of homes with children that have firearms in them, 40 percent store them unlocked. Guns unquestionably affect the health of American children, just as “the presence of open containers of bleach, swimming pools, balloons, and toilet locks” do.

–Alex Brown





  Gold Star Open Carry State
  Open Carry Friendly State
  Licensed Open Carry State
  Non Permissive Open Carry State
  Rural Open Carry State

In the United States, open carry is shorthand terminology for "openly carrying a firearm in public", as distinguished from concealed carry, where firearms cannot be seen by the casual observer.



The practice of open carry, where gun owners openly carry firearms while they go about their daily business, has seen an increase in the U.S. in recent years.[1][2] This has been marked by a number of organized events intended to increase the visibility of open carry and public awareness about the practice.[3]

Proponents of open carry point to history and statistics, noting that criminals usually conceal their weapons: The 2006 FBI study "Violent Encounters: A Study of Felonious Assaults on Our Nation's Law Enforcement Officers" by Anthony Pinizzotto revealed that criminals carefully conceal their firearms, and they eschew the use of holsters.[4] Encouraged by groups like OpenCarry.org, GeorgiaCarry.org and some participants of the Free State Project, open carry has seen a revival in recent years,[5][6][7] but it is not yet clear if this represents just a short-term trend.[8][9]

The gun rights community has been mixed in its response. Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation and the NRA have been cautious in expressing support,[10] while special-interest groups such as the aforementioned OpenCarry.org and GeorgiaCarry.org, state-level groups such as the Texas State Rifle Association (TSRA), and certain national groups such as the Gun Owners of America (GOA) have been more outspoken in favor of the practice.

Open carry is strongly opposed by gun control groups such as the Brady Campaign and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

In the United States, the laws concerning open carry vary by state and sometimes by municipality.

Definitions

Open carry
The act of publicly carrying a loaded firearm on one's person in plain sight.
Plain sight
Broadly defined as not being hidden from common observation; varies somewhat from state to state.
Preemption
In the context of open carry: the act of a state legislature passing laws which limit or eliminate the ability of local governments to regulate the possession or carrying of firearms.
Prohibited persons
People prohibited by law from carrying a firearm. Typical examples are felons, those convicted of a misdemeanor of domestic violence, those found to be addicted to alcohol or drugs, and those who have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution.
Today in the United States, the laws vary from state to state regarding open carry of firearms. The categories are defined as follows:
Permissive open carry states
A state has passed full preemption of all firearms laws. They permit open carry to all non-prohibited citizens without permit or license. Open carry is lawful on foot and in a motor vehicle. Shown on the map to the right as "Gold Star" states; the term carries a pro-gun bias, as gun-control advocacy groups like the Brady Center generally give these states very low "scores" on their own ratings systems.
Licensed open carry states
A state has passed full preemption of all firearms laws. They permit open carry of a handgun to all non-prohibited citizens once they have been issued a permit or license. Open carry of a handgun is lawful on foot and in a motor vehicle.
Anomalous open carry states
In these states, open carry of a handgun is generally lawful, but the state may lack preemption or there may be other significant restrictions. Shown in the map legend as "Open Carry Friendly" states; the term is questionable as the limitations and/or lack of pre-emption means that certain areas of these states are, in their judicial system and law enforcement societies, not very "friendly" towards the practice.
Non-permissive open carry states
In these states, open carry of a handgun is not lawful, or is only lawful under such a limited set of circumstances that public carry is prohibited. Such limited circumstances may include when hunting, or while traveling to/from hunting locations, while on property controlled by the person carrying, or for lawful self-defense.
Open carry has never been ruled out as a right under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by any court. In the majority opinion in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), Justice Antonin Scalia wrote concerning the entirety of the elements of the Second Amendment; "We find that they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation." However, Scalia continued, "Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose."[14]

Forty-three states' constitutions recognize and secure the right to keep and bear arms in some form, and none of those prohibit the open carrying of firearms. Five state constitutions provide that the state legislature may regulate the manner of carrying or bearing arms, and advocates argue that none rule out open carry specifically. Nine states' constitutions indicate that the concealed carrying of firearms may be regulated and/or prohibited by the state legislature. Open carry advocates argue that, by exclusion, open carrying of arms may not be legislatively controlled in these states. But this is not settled law.[citation needed]

Section 1.7 [15] of Kentucky's state constitution only empowers the state to enact laws prohibiting "concealed carry".


Concealed carry, or CCW (carrying a concealed weapon), refers to the practice of carrying a handgun or other weapon in public in a concealed manner, either on one's person or in proximity.

While there is no federal law specifically addressing the issuance of concealed carry permits, 49 states have passed laws allowing citizens to carry certain concealed firearms in public, either without a permit or after obtaining a permit from local government and/or law enforcement.[1] Illinois is the only state without such a provision. The states give different terms for licenses or permits to carry a concealed firearm, such as a Concealed Handgun License/Permit (CHL/CHP), Concealed (Defensive/Deadly) Weapon Permit/License (CDWL/CWP/CWL), Concealed Carry Permit/License (CCP/CCL), License To Carry (Firearms) (LTC/LTCF), Carry of Concealed Deadly Weapon license (CCDW), Concealed Pistol License (CPL), etc. Thirteen states use a single permit to regulate the practices of both concealed and open carry of a handgun.
Some states publish statistics indicating how many residents hold permits to carry concealed weapons, and their demographics. For example, Florida has issued 2,031,106 licenses since adopting its law in 1987, and had 843,463 licensed permit holders as of July 31, 2011.[2] Reported permit holders are predominantly male.[3] Some states have reported the number of permit holders increasing over time.[4]

The number of permit revocations is typically small.







by Joshua Vogel on September 10, 2011

I’m a liberal (or progressive, if you prefer the term). I’ve always had mixed feelings about gun ownership. As a child, I enjoyed playing with cap guns, and a macho, caveman corner of my personality has always liked the idea of wielding a weapon. But, the rational pragmatist in me has never been able to actually justify owning a gun.

Every so often I’ll get the urge to buy a gun for defense purposes. But when I start to reflect on it, I realize that I can’t really envision a situation where I’d need to use it. I mean, sure- I can picture a home break-in, where I’d run to the closet and open my gun safe and pull out a hand gun… but such scenarios feel like the boyhood daydreams of fighting a terrorist (and/or ninja) takeover of my high school. Even if it were to happen, it seems like something that would always play out better in my head than it would in real life.

I’m not a paranoid person. I enjoy reading the masturbatory rants of the folks who contribute to forums about the upcoming collapse of society, or post survivalist or “prepper” videos on youtube, or fret about “Peak Oil”. But I take all these things with more than a grain of salt. For the most part they are unsupported (or poorly supported) fears mixed with outright delusions.

But a couple things happened this week that did finally tip me over the edge and seriously consider a gun purchase: I watched the Republican Presidential Debates, and I heard Obama’s Address to Congress.

As someone who was recently unemployed for well over a year, and who saw his father get laid off during the tail end of that period, I now know firsthand the deep despair that fills someone who can’t get a foothold in this economy. If I hadn’t had the support of my family and friends, I may well have ended up homeless (and that’s within months of receiving a law degree).

Multiply that anxiety by the 14 million unemployed folks in this country, and the countless underemployed, and it’s not hard to see that there are a lot of scared and angry people out there.

Other countries– large, stable countries– have begun to see riots. Without an immediate reversal in course, it is only a matter of time before we see riots in the U.S. –which brings me back to the debates, and the President’s speech.

All of the front-running Republicans have decided that the path to economic recovery is a return to the laissez faire system of government– the same philosophy that was in place when America’s working class was at its weakest, poorest, and most abused. This isn’t a big surprise. As other, well respected, authors have noted, almost all modern Republican policies can be traced back to a singular goal: the creation of cheap labor. That’s all well and good, unless you are the labor. And, in case you didn’t know: 99% of us are the labor.

The President’s speech the next day didn’t make me feel any better. Don’t get me wrong, I think it was a terrific speech- or at least it would have been if he had given it two years ago when it might have done some good. But it’s too late in the game for half-measures. Even if the President got everything that he asked for (he won’t), it still wouldn’t make a significant dent in the unemployment crisis.

So I spent the next few days thinking about the state of nation, and imaging what America is going to look like in a few years. If Obama stays in power without a liberal Congress, things will be much the same for years to come: political gridlock and slowly worsening conditions for the middle class.

If the Republicans take back the executive branch, then political gridlock is the best we can hope for. If they’re able to get traction with their radical fiscal policies, they’ll keep feeding our money to corporations, banks and the ultra-wealthy. The middle class will shrink. More of us will fall into poverty, and with fewer people buying any products, even the large corporations will start to buckle and fail.

With more unemployment, more disparity between the haves and have-nots, and no clear path to prosperity in sight, I can no longer pretend that the U.S. is the stable and secure place I always knew it to be.

It is no longer unreasonable to think that things may go from bad to much, much worse. I’m not saying that an economic collapse will happen, or even that it it is likely to happen. Nor can I begin to predict the severity or duration of any crash that might occur. But in the current political climate it feels foolhardy to ignore the possibility that something very bad is on the horizon.

If you’re skeptically minded, you may be thinking that I’m being alarmist or that my anxiety is premature. You’re right of course. But there’s logic behind my madness. History is rife with examples giant social upheavals that happen with very little notice. Most recently, Egypt taught us that lesson anew. That country went from protests to revolution in a span of days.

I’m not saying that the U.S. is poised for such a revolution, of course- but I am saying that things could turn ugly here, very quickly. With the proper trigger, massive protests could form. If handled poorly, those protests could easily turn to riots. If it can happen in the U.K., it can certainly happen here. And how big could those riots be? And how long might they last? And by the time we’ve figured out the answers to those questions, will it be too late to prepare?

And so, for the first time in my life, I found myself in a gun shop, talking to the proprietor about a good beginner’s firearm for someone who is interested in home defense.

If you’ve never been to a large gun shop (and I’m sure many progressives have not), I strongly recommend that you step inside. For my part, I found the place unsettling. For the first time in my life I held a working firearm, but I didn’t feel any safer– quite the contrary, as a matter of fact.

The thing about being a liberal in a gun shop is that you are privy to a lot of conversations that you wouldn’t otherwise hear. It was rather like walking into a Tea Party convention.

The shop I went to was near my home in North Carolina. When the gruff man behind the counter found out that I was from Massachusetts, he openly mocked it for being a “socialist” state. Moments later, I overheard a woman loudly ranting about how Obama’s job plan was “destroying the country” with more spending. She was interested in buying some gold coins for when the economy collapsed.

To be fair, most folks were just there to talk about guns, and play with guns, and buy new gadgets to affix to their guns. Their comfort and knowledge of firearms made me feel nervous. I was in store full of 50+ people who didn’t feel at all shy about expressing their distain for liberals and “socialists”. All of them, I’m convinced, would have had no trouble gunning me down in an honest firefight.

I went into that store to buy a gun to protect my family in the event of a riot. I walked out feeling very nervous that if their actually was major social upheaval in the United States, a lot of angry conservatives would have no problem forming an organized militia, and they wouldn’t have a whole lot of sympathy for the scores of unarmed “socialist” progressives out there.

Now I find myself wishing that liberals would flock to gun shops en masse so that they can see the world I caught a glimpse of, and so that they could interact with the same folks I did, and maybe engage in some lively political discussion. These gun shops are factories for unchecked Tea-Party-style nonsense. It means that a lot of angry and armed folks are spending their days amplifying each other’s misunderstanding and distrust of the rest of us.

And also- (and I realize that this part is just pure paranoia)– I’d like to know that if things ever really degrade, there would be a whole lot of armed liberals out there to keep the armed conservatives in check. Or at the very least, I’d like enough of them to lay down sufficient cover fire for me while I run from Whole Foods back to my Prius.





Why Americans now carry handguns in so many public places, from parks to college campuses. Is it making the country safer or more dangerous?

By Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer / March 11, 2012


Garner, N.C.


Leaning against a scrub pine as preschoolers scurry about at his feet, Shane Gazda, father of 3-year-old twins, recalls a conundrum he faced earlier that morning: whether to take his Smith & Wesson .40 caliber handgun to a Groundhog Day celebration in this town's White Deer Park.

After all, what was once against the law in North Carolina – carrying a concealed gun in a town park, square, or greenway – is now, as of Dec. 1, 2011, very much allowed. To Mr. Gazda, who likes to shoot targets in his backyard, an event as innocent as paying homage to a rodent could turn dangerous if the wrong person shows up.

"Part of it is being ready for cataclysm every day," says Gazda, a hospital maintenance engineer. "And to be honest, I started carrying precisely to protect not just myself, but my family, and anyone around me who needs help."

Gun laws: How much do you know?

In the end, Gazda left the gun at home. But his internal debate is emblematic of one a growing number of Americans are having almost daily. Thirty years after a powerful gun-control movement swept the country, Americans are embracing the idea of owning and carrying firearms with a zeal rarely seen since the days of muskets and militias.

A combination of favorable court rulings, grass-roots activism, traditional fears of crime, and modern anxieties about government has led to what may be a tipping point on an issue that just a few years ago was one of America's most contentious. Gun rights have now expanded to the point where the fundamental question seems not to be "should we be able to carry guns," but instead is "where can't we carry them?"

The answer: not very many places.

The new North Carolina statute, in fact, is one of hundreds of new gun-friendly laws enacted by states and localities in the past few years alone. Mississippi lawmakers, for instance, recently voted to allow gun owners who take an extra safety class to carry hidden weapons on college campuses and in courthouses. Ohio has granted people with permits the right to bring concealed weapons into restaurants, bars, and sports arenas. A 2010 Indiana law stipulates that private business owners let employees keep guns in their cars when parked on company property. And New Hampshire, along with several other states, has removed restrictions on bearing arms in the ultimate politically symbolic place – the State House.

In 2009, three times as many pro-gun laws were passed in the United States as antigun measures – a trend that experts say has only accelerated since then. Fully 40 states now mandate that anyone who asks for a concealed-carry permit and meets the qualifications must be issued one. One result: The number of concealed-weapon license holders in the US has gone from a few hundred thousand 10 years ago to more than 6 million today. In some parts of Tennessee, 1 out of every 11 people on the street is either carrying a weapon or has a license to do so.

"It's a huge sea change, and one lesson to take out of all of this is that it's amazing how fast attitudes on constitutional issues can change," says Glenn Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and the author of "An Army of Davids." "The thinking has turned in a way that many thought to be impossible only 15 years ago."

A wanna-be authority figure who loves guns.

Nov. 18, 2013 8:00 PM EST

APOPKA, Fla. (AP) — George Zimmerman told a 911 operator that he never pulled a gun on his girlfriend, and that it was she who smashed a table at the home they shared outside Orlando.

Zimmerman said on the 911 call Monday that the girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe, also became upset when he started to leave.

Deputies didn’t buy Zimmerman’s story and charged him with aggravated assault, battery and criminal mischief.

Scheibe told deputies that Zimmerman smashed a glass table with his firearm, pointed the gun at her and shoved her out of their home after she asked him to leave.


Subject: Sign the petition

Trayvon Martin is dead, and his killer is walking free. The injustice of the situation is both palpable and maddening. There is no question that had George Zimmerman not acted as an armed vigilante almost a year and a half ago, Trayvon Martin would still be alive. But while a jury in Florida decided not to hold Zimmerman responsible for this senseless murder, the federal government can still take action. I just signed a petition telling Attorney General Eric Holder to bring civil rights charges against George Zimmerman. You should sign it, too.

http://act.credoaction.com/sign/holder_zimmerman/?sp_ref=4606908.4.272.e.1155.2&referrer_akid=8421.5084505.7-UdNY&source=mailto_sp


What being liberal or conservative has to do with condoning murder?

It is baffling that a nigger would take the position of Mr. Parks. By the way, while I do feel apprehensive about calling Mr. Parks names, because people of his kind are physically strong and prone to violence, I am assured by his statement that he would just say: «Yes, sir».

Even if one accepts that George Zimmerman was justified in profiling and stalking and confronting Trayvon Martin, end even more, if one accept that at some point Martin got the upper hand, the fact is that Zimmerman provoked the situation and at least a charge of Manslaughter is in order. Manslaughter is a legal term for the killing of a human being, in a manner considered by law as less culpable than murder. The law generally differentiates between levels of criminal culpability based on the mens rea, or state of mind; or the circumstances under which the killing occurred (mitigating factors). Manslaughter is usually broken down into two distinct categories: voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter;

Trayvon Martin is dead, and whatever verdict would no change that, but a verdict of innocence makes Zimmerman the victim and sets a dangerous precedent that it is all right to look for lethal confrontations.


ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — George Zimmerman sued NBC on Thursday, claiming he was defamed when the network edited his 911 call to police after the shooting of Trayvon Martin to make it sound like he was racist.

The former neighborhood watch volunteer filed the lawsuit seeking an undisclosed amount of money in Seminole County, outside Orlando. Also named in the complaint were three reporters covering the story for NBC or an NBC-owned television station.

The complaint said the airing of the edited call has inflicted emotional distress on Zimmerman, making him fear for his life and causing him to suffer nausea, insomnia and anxiety.



To think minorities can’t be racist against another group is very naive.

By Manuel Roig-Franzia, Tom Jackman and Darryl Fears


The Washington Post

The shooter was once a Catholic altar boy, with a surname that could have been Jewish.

His father is white, neighbors say. His mother is Peruvian. And his family is eager to point out that some of his relatives are black. The slain victim, we know, was named Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager in a hoodie.

Why are they calling him white, wondered Paul Ebert, the Prince William County commonwealth’s attorney who knew Zimmerman’s mother, Gladys, from her days as an interpreter at the county courthouse. Zimmerman’s mother, Ebert knew, was Peruvian, and he thought of her as Hispanic.

Looking at Zimmerman’s photograph made Darren Soto, a Florida state legislator, think he might be Latino.

«You have people with Anglo first and last names who speak perfect Spanish and are from Puerto Rico. And you’ve got a third- or fourth-generation Joey Gonzalez from Tampa who can’t speak a word of Spanish.»

The focus in Florida, where thousands gathered Thursday night in Sanford for an emotional rally, has primarily been on complaints that Martin, 17, may have been targeted because of his race.

In Manassas, Va., where Zimmerman lived in the 1980s and 1990s with his parents and two siblings, neighbors tended to define the family based on their spiritual profile. «Very Catholic … very religious,» their neighbor Jim Rudzenski recalled Thursday. The children attended All Saints Catholic School through the eighth grade before going to Osbourn High School. George became an altar server and evening receptionist at All Saints Catholic Church.

Strict upbringing

The father, Robert Zimmerman, is a retired military man. He could be strict. And the children’s grandmother, who lived with the family, also kept a watchful eye, said Kay Hall, who lived across the street from the Zimmermans for about 20 years. George and his siblings «didn’t play with the neighborhood kids,» Rudzenski said. «They had to stay home and play.» It was always «Yes, ma’am,» «No, ma’am,» Hall said.

Zimmerman’s life was not without difficulties. In 2001, when he was 17 or 18, he was the victim of a minor criminal assault, said Manassas police Sgt. Eddie Rivera. The city’s computer records do not provide details.

In school, Zimmerman hinted at ambitions in the business world. He joined a Future Business Leaders of America club. In his senior yearbook, he wrote: «I’m going to Florida to work with my godfather who just bought a $1 million business.»

In Florida, Zimmerman shifted his plans, enrolling in Seminole State College with hopes of becoming a law-enforcement officer. He became the self-appointed protector of the streets around his home in Retreat at Twin Lakes, a gated community, although his neighborhood-watch organization was not officially registered.

In the past eight years, he called the police department at least 46 times with reports of various sightings: open garages, suspicious people. In 2005, according to police records obtained by The Orlando Sentinel and other news organizations, Zimmerman was twice accused of either criminal misconduct or violence. He had a concealed-weapon permit and had a black Kel-Tec semiautomatic handgun and a holster the night Martin died.

Zimmerman married Shellie Nicole Dean, a licensed cosmetologist, in late 2007. The next year, he resurfaced in court documents as a credit-card company pursued him for unpaid debts.

Capital One accused Zimmerman of failing to pay more than $1,000. He settled with the company for $2,135.82, records show, to cover his debts with interest, as well as attorney and court costs. However, the credit-card company soon reported that Zimmerman wasn’t making the payments he had agreed to.

It’s unclear how Zimmerman was employed when he encountered Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26.

Teontae Ami, who also lives in the Retreat at Twin Lakes community, said very few black teens like himself live in the neighborhood. Ami, 17, said he and a close friend who is black would sit at the end of a driveway in the evening and felt uncomfortable when Zimmerman would pass them on a neighborhood patrol. They used to greet him, but he never responded, he said.

«I think he took his job too seriously,» Ami said, referring to Zimmerman’s watch patrols. A student, Ami said his friend was once confronted by Zimmerman, who accused him of stealing a bike.

«I don’t want to call it a black thing, but it sure seemed like it,» said Ami.

Another neighbor, Frank Taaffe, 55, defended Zimmerman as «not a racist.»

Taaffe, a marketing specialist who had been a watch captain with Zimmerman until December, said he may have been «overzealous, maybe,» but «his main concern is the safety and welfare of the community.»

He said Zimmerman had been doing watch patrols for about a year and was a stand-up guy. Records show Zimmerman is not the owner of the town home where he lives.

Emphasizing diversity

Zimmerman’s father has sought to emphasize his family’s diversity in hopes of saving his son from condemnation as a racist.

While images of protests from across the country skitter past on television screens, the elder Zimmerman has tried to do what others have been doing, in various ways, for days: define his son. George is «a Spanish-speaking minority,» the father wrote in a letter delivered to The Orlando Sentinel. «He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever.» George, the father insisted, was more like the boy he killed than people thought. George was a minority — the other — too.

The argument the father is making feels hollow and self-serving to Michaela Angela Davis, an African-American writer and activist who lives in New York. In her eyes, George Zimmerman’s Hispanic roots don’t give him cover.

«You being a minority doesn’t make you immune to racist beliefs,» she said in an interview Thursday. Davis sees a pervasive cultural imprint, reinforced by media and entertainment imagery: the black man as a symbol of «violence, fear and deviant behavior.» A young man could be susceptible to the influence of that image whether his «mother is from Peru or Norway.»

History of tension

Hispanics and black Americans have a shared history of discrimination in the United States. But they also have a shared history of tension in neighborhoods, schools, even prisons. In Latin America, including Peru, Afro Latinos have frequently complained of a lack of political representation, economic disenfranchisement and the virtual absence of their image in popular culture, such as soap operas, an issue they attribute to racial exclusion.

Zimmerman’s legal fate could rest on examinations of possible motives that will be pieced together from clues, including snatches of audiotape, and from inquiries into whether he muttered a racial slur before the shooting.

His family background doesn’t discount possible racial motives, said Luis Martinez-Fernandez, a professor of Latin American and Caribbean history at the University of Central Florida. Hispanics are an ethnic group, but within that group there are different races. There are black Dominicans and Cubans, for instance.

«Who is Hispanic and who’s not is not as clear as other ethnic groups,» said Martinez-Fernandez. «There’s no such thing as a Hispanic race. It has to do with origin, culture and race. Some people argue that language should be a part. All this complicates identity.»

Hispanics make up the nation’s largest ethnic group at more than 13 percent of the population, while African Americans are the largest racial group, with more than 12 percent of the population. In the 2010 Census, more than half of people who identified as Hispanic said they were white, and only 3 percent said they were black.

«There’s a sense that one group has been harmed historically more than the other,» Martinez-Fernandez said. «There’s been a history of the dominant group in power pitting one group against the other. I think we have not fought together. There have been few instances of that.»

Post staff writers Brady Dennis, Sari Horowitz and Jeremy Borden contributed to this report. Material from The Orlando Sentinel is included in this report.

Nov. 18, 2013 8:00 PM EST

APOPKA, Fla. (AP) — George Zimmerman told a 911 operator that he never pulled a gun on his girlfriend, and that it was she who smashed a table at the home they shared outside Orlando.

Zimmerman said on the 911 call Monday that the girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe, also became upset when he started to leave.

Deputies didn't buy Zimmerman's story and charged him with aggravated assault, battery and criminal mischief.

Scheibe told deputies that Zimmerman smashed a glass table with his firearm, pointed the gun at her and shoved her out of their home after she asked him to leave.





Subject: Sign the petition

Trayvon Martin is dead, and his killer is walking free. The injustice of the situation is both palpable and maddening. There is no question that had George Zimmerman not acted as an armed vigilante almost a year and a half ago, Trayvon Martin would still be alive. But while a jury in Florida decided not to hold Zimmerman responsible for this senseless murder, the federal government can still take action. I just signed a petition telling Attorney General Eric Holder to bring civil rights charges against George Zimmerman. You should sign it, too.

http://act.credoaction.com/sign/holder_zimmerman/?sp_ref=4606908.4.272.e.1155.2&referrer_akid=8421.5084505.7-UdNY&source=mailto_sp



What being liberal or conservative has to do with condoning murder?

It is baffling that a nigger would take the position of Mr. Parks. By the way, while I do feel apprehensive about calling Mr. Parks names, because people of his kind are physically strong and prone to violence, I am assured by his statement that he would just say: "Yes, sir".

Even if one accepts that George Zimmerman was justified in profiling and stalking and confronting Trayvon Martin, end even more, if one accept that at some point Martin got the upper hand, the fact is that Zimmerman provoked the situation and at least a charge of Manslaughter is in order. Manslaughter is a legal term for the killing of a human being, in a manner considered by law as less culpable than murder. The law generally differentiates between levels of criminal culpability based on the mens rea, or state of mind; or the circumstances under which the killing occurred (mitigating factors). Manslaughter is usually broken down into two distinct categories: voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter;

Trayvon Martin is dead, and whatever verdict would no change that, but a verdict of innocence makes Zimmerman the victim and sets a dangerous precedent that it is all right to look for lethal confrontations.



ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — George Zimmerman sued NBC on Thursday, claiming he was defamed when the network edited his 911 call to police after the shooting of Trayvon Martin to make it sound like he was racist.

The former neighborhood watch volunteer filed the lawsuit seeking an undisclosed amount of money in Seminole County, outside Orlando. Also named in the complaint were three reporters covering the story for NBC or an NBC-owned television station.

The complaint said the airing of the edited call has inflicted emotional distress on Zimmerman, making him fear for his life and causing him to suffer nausea, insomnia and anxiety.







To think minorities can't be racist against another group is very naive.


By Manuel Roig-Franzia, Tom Jackman and Darryl Fears


The Washington Post


The shooter was once a Catholic altar boy, with a surname that could have been Jewish.

His father is white, neighbors say. His mother is Peruvian. And his family is eager to point out that some of his relatives are black. The slain victim, we know, was named Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager in a hoodie.

Why are they calling him white, wondered Paul Ebert, the Prince William County commonwealth's attorney who knew Zimmerman's mother, Gladys, from her days as an interpreter at the county courthouse. Zimmerman's mother, Ebert knew, was Peruvian, and he thought of her as Hispanic.

Looking at Zimmerman's photograph made Darren Soto, a Florida state legislator, think he might be Latino.

"You have people with Anglo first and last names who speak perfect Spanish and are from Puerto Rico. And you've got a third- or fourth-generation Joey Gonzalez from Tampa who can't speak a word of Spanish."

The focus in Florida, where thousands gathered Thursday night in Sanford for an emotional rally, has primarily been on complaints that Martin, 17, may have been targeted because of his race.

In Manassas, Va., where Zimmerman lived in the 1980s and 1990s with his parents and two siblings, neighbors tended to define the family based on their spiritual profile. "Very Catholic ... very religious," their neighbor Jim Rudzenski recalled Thursday. The children attended All Saints Catholic School through the eighth grade before going to Osbourn High School. George became an altar server and evening receptionist at All Saints Catholic Church.

Strict upbringing

The father, Robert Zimmerman, is a retired military man. He could be strict. And the children's grandmother, who lived with the family, also kept a watchful eye, said Kay Hall, who lived across the street from the Zimmermans for about 20 years. George and his siblings "didn't play with the neighborhood kids," Rudzenski said. "They had to stay home and play." It was always "Yes, ma'am," "No, ma'am," Hall said.

Zimmerman's life was not without difficulties. In 2001, when he was 17 or 18, he was the victim of a minor criminal assault, said Manassas police Sgt. Eddie Rivera. The city's computer records do not provide details.

In school, Zimmerman hinted at ambitions in the business world. He joined a Future Business Leaders of America club. In his senior yearbook, he wrote: "I'm going to Florida to work with my godfather who just bought a $1 million business."

In Florida, Zimmerman shifted his plans, enrolling in Seminole State College with hopes of becoming a law-enforcement officer. He became the self-appointed protector of the streets around his home in Retreat at Twin Lakes, a gated community, although his neighborhood-watch organization was not officially registered.

In the past eight years, he called the police department at least 46 times with reports of various sightings: open garages, suspicious people. In 2005, according to police records obtained by The Orlando Sentinel and other news organizations, Zimmerman was twice accused of either criminal misconduct or violence. He had a concealed-weapon permit and had a black Kel-Tec semiautomatic handgun and a holster the night Martin died.

Zimmerman married Shellie Nicole Dean, a licensed cosmetologist, in late 2007. The next year, he resurfaced in court documents as a credit-card company pursued him for unpaid debts.

Capital One accused Zimmerman of failing to pay more than $1,000. He settled with the company for $2,135.82, records show, to cover his debts with interest, as well as attorney and court costs. However, the credit-card company soon reported that Zimmerman wasn't making the payments he had agreed to.

It's unclear how Zimmerman was employed when he encountered Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26.

Teontae Ami, who also lives in the Retreat at Twin Lakes community, said very few black teens like himself live in the neighborhood. Ami, 17, said he and a close friend who is black would sit at the end of a driveway in the evening and felt uncomfortable when Zimmerman would pass them on a neighborhood patrol. They used to greet him, but he never responded, he said.

"I think he took his job too seriously," Ami said, referring to Zimmerman's watch patrols. A student, Ami said his friend was once confronted by Zimmerman, who accused him of stealing a bike.

"I don't want to call it a black thing, but it sure seemed like it," said Ami.

Another neighbor, Frank Taaffe, 55, defended Zimmerman as "not a racist."

Taaffe, a marketing specialist who had been a watch captain with Zimmerman until December, said he may have been "overzealous, maybe," but "his main concern is the safety and welfare of the community."

He said Zimmerman had been doing watch patrols for about a year and was a stand-up guy. Records show Zimmerman is not the owner of the town home where he lives.

Emphasizing diversity

Zimmerman's father has sought to emphasize his family's diversity in hopes of saving his son from condemnation as a racist.

While images of protests from across the country skitter past on television screens, the elder Zimmerman has tried to do what others have been doing, in various ways, for days: define his son. George is "a Spanish-speaking minority," the father wrote in a letter delivered to The Orlando Sentinel. "He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever." George, the father insisted, was more like the boy he killed than people thought. George was a minority — the other — too.

The argument the father is making feels hollow and self-serving to Michaela Angela Davis, an African-American writer and activist who lives in New York. In her eyes, George Zimmerman's Hispanic roots don't give him cover.

"You being a minority doesn't make you immune to racist beliefs," she said in an interview Thursday. Davis sees a pervasive cultural imprint, reinforced by media and entertainment imagery: the black man as a symbol of "violence, fear and deviant behavior." A young man could be susceptible to the influence of that image whether his "mother is from Peru or Norway."

History of tension

Hispanics and black Americans have a shared history of discrimination in the United States. But they also have a shared history of tension in neighborhoods, schools, even prisons. In Latin America, including Peru, Afro Latinos have frequently complained of a lack of political representation, economic disenfranchisement and the virtual absence of their image in popular culture, such as soap operas, an issue they attribute to racial exclusion.

Zimmerman's legal fate could rest on examinations of possible motives that will be pieced together from clues, including snatches of audiotape, and from inquiries into whether he muttered a racial slur before the shooting.

His family background doesn't discount possible racial motives, said Luis Martinez-Fernandez, a professor of Latin American and Caribbean history at the University of Central Florida. Hispanics are an ethnic group, but within that group there are different races. There are black Dominicans and Cubans, for instance.

"Who is Hispanic and who's not is not as clear as other ethnic groups," said Martinez-Fernandez. "There's no such thing as a Hispanic race. It has to do with origin, culture and race. Some people argue that language should be a part. All this complicates identity."

Hispanics make up the nation's largest ethnic group at more than 13 percent of the population, while African Americans are the largest racial group, with more than 12 percent of the population. In the 2010 Census, more than half of people who identified as Hispanic said they were white, and only 3 percent said they were black.

"There's a sense that one group has been harmed historically more than the other," Martinez-Fernandez said. "There's been a history of the dominant group in power pitting one group against the other. I think we have not fought together. There have been few instances of that."



Post staff writers Brady Dennis, Sari Horowitz and Jeremy Borden contributed to this report. Material from The Orlando Sentinel is included in this report.

Stand Your Ground

Michigan shooting: Reasonable self-defense or second-degree murder?

By Staff writer / November 15, 2013 

In a case that is drawing comparisons to George Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin in a gated Florida community, a white homeowner in suburban Detroit was charged Friday with second-degree murder in the shooting death of an unarmed young black woman who came to his front door in the middle of the night two weeks ago.


The homeowner, Theodore Wafer of Dearborn Heights, Mich., was also charged with manslaughter and the possession of a firearm in the shooting death of 19-year-old Renisha McBride. Wayne County prosecutors allege Mr. Wafer shot Ms. McBride through the locked screen door of his home after 4 a.m. on Nov. 2.
If convicted Wafer, who was released on bond after his arraignment Friday afternoon, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. Key to the case will be assessing how threatened Wafer felt when he came to his door, and whether those feelings were reasonable. Police say Wafer told them he thought someone was breaking into his house and that he accidentally fired his 12-gauge shotgun.

It is uncertain why McBride ended up on Wafer’s front porch; three hours earlier, she crashed her car into a parked vehicle about a mile from the house and walked off in a bloodied condition, according to police.
Prosecutors say Wafer violated Michigan law on self-defense that says the shooter “must honestly and reasonably believe that he is in imminent danger of either losing his life or suffering great bodily harm,” says Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.


Racial bias

By Staff writer / August 6, 2013

During the closing arguments of the George Zimmerman trial, defense attorney Mark O’Mara asked the courtroom to be quiet for four long minutes. When he at last broke the silence, he said those four minutes were the amount of time that Trayvon Martin had had to go home.

Mr. O’Mara left no doubts: It was Trayvon’s decision not to go home, but instead to «plan» an attack on Mr. Zimmerman, punching and beating him, that caused Zimmerman to fatally shoot him. Because he did not go home, O’Mara said, «Trayvon Martin caused his own death.»

The implication in O’Mara’s argument was that Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, who was armed, and who ignored a 911 dispatcher’s instructions not to follow Trayvon, had more of a right to stand his ground than did 17-year-old Trayvon, who was black. And the verdict suggests the jurors agreed.
Data from other states with stand-your-ground laws indicate that the Zimmerman jury was not alone in being sympathetic to such a claim. Whites are significantly more successful claiming self-defense when their attacker is black than blacks are when fighting back against an attacker who is white, according to one study.

Stand-your-ground laws have begun to change the calculus of self-defense in the United States. The idea behind them is to «expand the legal justification for the use of lethal force in self-defense, thereby lowering the expected cost of using lethal force and increasing the expected cost of committing violent crime,» say researchers Cheng Cheng and Mark Hoekstra in a Texas A&M study.
Statistics included in the study bore that out, showing that justifiable homicides rose by 8 percent in stand-your-ground states, amounting to some 600 additional killings.

The laws have spread quickly. Since Florida passed the first stand-your-ground law in 2005, at least 30 other states have followed suit, either though legislative action or court decisions.


September 12, 2013

«Stand Your Ground» and other Shoot First laws lead to tragedy, as we witnessed in the case of Trayvon Martin.
Now Congress is investigating the devastating impact of these laws. On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary will be holding a hearing to consider how these laws have spread and what effect they’ve had on civil rights and public safety.1
Senator Dick Durbin, the chair of the committee, is seeking testimony about these laws for committee members to consider. This is an important opportunity to show support for repeal of these deadly laws.
Submit your testimony telling the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to stand up to the NRA and stop the spread of Stand Your Ground laws. Click here for sample text.
The NRA, backed by gun manufacturers and politicians associated with the shadowy right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), helped shepherd Shoot First laws through dozens of states.2 These laws dangerously offer a legal stamp of approval to a «shoot first, ask questions later» mentality.
Throw in the eye-popping number of concealed-carry permits (which now stands at 8 million nationally) and lax gun laws generally, and you have a dangerous recipe for unnecessarily violent, often fatal conflict.3
In Florida, for example, the rate of «justifiable» homicides has tripled since the state passed its Shoot First law, in 2005.4 Now it’s time for the public to push back against these dangerous laws.
Submit your testimony telling the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to stand up to the NRA and stop the spread of Stand Your Ground laws. Click the link below for sample text:
http://act.credoaction.com/go/1862?t=4&akid=8889.5084505.5Pnv5G
Thank you for standing up to the NRA.
Jordan Krueger, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Take action now ►
1. «‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws: Civil Rights and Public Safety Implications of the Expanded Use of Deadly Force.» Senate Judiciary Committee.
2. Adam Weinstein, «How the NRA and Its Allies Helped Spread a Radical Gun Law Nationwide.» Mother Jones, June 7, 2012.
3. «Shoot First Laws Policy Summary.» Law center to Prevent Gun violence, July 18, 2013.
4. Alex Seitz-Wald, «Stand Your Ground Laws Coincide With Jump In ‘Justifiable Homicides’.» ThinkProgress, April 9, 2012.


Last year, our son Trayvon Martin was stalked, chased down and killed by George Zimmerman, and Zimmerman received no punishment whatsoever. That’s in large part because Florida is one of at least 21 states with some form of ‘Stand Your Ground’ law which enables people like George Zimmerman to claim self-defense.
‘Stand Your Ground’ was never meant to give aggressors the opportunity to get away with murder, but that is what happened when our son Trayvon was killed. After Trayvon’s death, law enforcement used the law as an excuse to refuse to arrest George Zimmerman. Even worse, the jury in the case was instructed to think of what Zimmerman did as self-defense, even though Zimmerman ignored instructions from the police and instigated conflict with our son, who was just trying to get home to his father.
We are shocked and heartbroken by the jury’s decision to allow our son’s killer to go free. Despite our despair, we must honor Trayvon’s legacy by doing all that we can to protect other young people from being targeted, pursued, and senselessly murdered.
We started a petition on Change.org calling on 21 governors whose states have some form of ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws to review those laws and amend them so that people who instigate conflicts — people like George Zimmerman — won’t be able to use these laws to get away with murder.
We are not the only ones calling for ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws to be reviewed. President Obama spoke out on the need for review, and prominent Republicans like Senator John McCain have joined him. This is not a Democrat or Republican issue, it’s not ‘black’ or ‘white’ issue, it’s a wrong and right issue.
This is a matter of making sure that no other family will ever have to go through what we have been through. No parents should ever have to know what it feels like to watch your child’s killer walk free.
Our hearts broke on the night of February 26, 2012 when George Zimmerman killed our son — and we were stunned and devastated when the police refused to arrest Zimmerman. We petitioned for Zimmerman’s arrest on Change.org, and after more than 2 million people joined our call, Zimmerman was charged with our son’s murder. We felt so much closer to justice for Trayvon, and so grateful for the support of those who signed our petition.
But on July 13, 2013, our hearts broke again when the jury set Zimmerman free. Our hearts broke because it is so hard to accept that we can’t protect Trayvon anymore. But we can fight to make sure that this never happens again. 
Please sign our petition calling for a thorough review of all ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws to prevent killers like George Zimmerman from going free.
We want to say thank you to all of you who have stood up for our son. Because of all your efforts, Trayvon’s life is celebrated all over the world. Please continue to stand with us as we fight to ensure that his legacy is to leave behind a safer and more peaceful world for all our sons and daughters.
Thank you,
Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton


The Joe Horn shooting controversy refers to the events of November 14, 2007, in Pasadena, Texas, United States, when local resident Joe Horn shot and killed two men burglarizing his neighbor’s home. Publicized recordings of Horn’s exchange with emergency dispatch indicate that he was asked repeatedly not to interfere with the burglary because the police would soon be on hand.[1] The shootings have resulted in debate regarding self-defense, Castle Doctrine laws, and Texas laws relating to use of deadly force to prevent or stop property crimes. The illegal alien status of the burglars has been highlighted because of the U.S. border controversy.[2] On June 30, 2008, Joe Horn was cleared by a grand jury in the Pasadena shootings.

Joe Horn, 61, spotted two burglars breaking into his next-door neighbor’s home in Pasadena, Texas. He called 9-1-1 to summon police to the scene. While on the phone with emergency dispatch, Horn stated that he had the right to use deadly force to defend property, referring to a law (Texas Penal Code §§ 9.41, 9.42, and 9.43) which justified the use of deadly force to protect Horn’s home. Horn exited his home with his shotgun, while the 9-1-1 operator tried to dissuade him from that action. On the 9-1-1 tape, he is heard confronting the suspects, saying, «Move, and you’re dead»,[3] immediately followed by the sound of a shotgun blast, followed by two more.[4] Following the shootings Mr. Horn told the 9-1-1 operator, «They came in the front yard with me, man, I had no choice!» [5]

Police initially identified the dead men in Horn’s yard as 38-year-old Miguel Antonio DeJesus and Diego Ortiz, 30, both currently resident in Houston and of Afro Latino descent. However, DeJesus was actually an alias of an individual named Hernando Riascos Torres.[3] Torres and Ortiz were carrying a sack with cash and jewelry taken from the home next door to Joe Horn. Both were criminals from Colombia who had been convicted on drug trafficking charges.[1] Police found a Puerto Rican identification card on Ortiz. Torres had three identification cards from Colombia, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic, and had been previously sent to prison for dealing cocaine. Torres had been deported in 1999.[6]

A plain clothes police detective responding to the 9-1-1 call arrived at the scene before the shooting, and witnessed the escalation and shootings while remaining in his car.[3] His report on the incident indicated that the men who were killed «received gunfire from the rear».[1] Police Capt. A.H. Corbett stated the two men ignored Mr. Horn’s order to freeze and that one of the suspects ran towards Joe Horn before angling away from Horn toward the street when the suspect was shot in the back. The medical examiner’s report could not specify whether they were shot in the back due to the ballistics of the shotgun wound.[7] Pasadena police confirmed that the two men were shot after they ventured into Horn’s front yard. The detective did not arrest Horn.

The incident touched off protests, led by Quanell X, leader of the Houston chapter of the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) that were met by counter-protests from Horn’s neighbors and other supporters, with the NBPP protesters rapidly leaving.


Former President Bill Clinton said the “tragedy” of the killing of Trayvon Martin should cause a re-thinking of the “Stand Your Ground” law.

“There are different stories being told,” the former president said, “so the first thing I have to say is that it’s important to find out the facts.”

Clinton continued “but to me, beyond the incredible personal tragedy- this young man was not armed, he clearly presented no threat to anybody’s life — is, the most important thing I’ve read was from the former police chief in Florida in the community, he was one of many law enforcement officers testifying against that Stand Your Ground law. And he said, you know this is going to create all kinds of problems. And it’s going to be almost impossible to prove what was in someone’s mind when a certain thing happened.”

Clinton said “people have always had a right to have a handgun in their home- to protect their homes- then we’ve seen this breathtaking expansion of the concealed weapons laws in America moving from the late 90′s into this decade, far — if you will — to the extreme that America had ever been on these.

“And now the Stand Your Ground law,” he continued. “I think the law is going to create real problems because anyone can — anyone who doesn’t have a criminal background, anyone not prohibited by the Brady Bill and caught by the checks — can basically be a part of a neighborhood watch where they have a concealed weapon whether they had proper law enforcement training or not. And whether they’ve had any experience in conflict situations with people or not.

“So I hope this will lead to a reappraisal of the Stand Your Ground laws,” President Clinton said, “and I hope that the truth will come out and that the tragedy of this young man’s loss will not be in vain- it’s just terrible. Whatever the facts were — all these people trying to jump on him and talking about some mistake he made in his life- that’s irrelevant because unarmed person who was killed on the street by a gun. And so I hope justice will be done in this case but I hope that the larger justice that would somehow redeem a portion of this terrible loss.”

He said: “the American people should re-examine their position on that and ask: Is this really worth it? Are we really all that much safer taking the chance that this kind of thing could happen over and over and over again?”

The president made his comments in an exclusive interview with ABC News focused on his work with Clinton Global Initiative University.

See more from the interview here.
-Jake Tapper


Trayvon Martin’s alleged attacker not covered under law I wrote

Published March 21, 2012
| FoxNews.com

The tragic story of Trayvon Martin’s death in Sanford, Florida has ignited a great deal of passion and concern regarding the circumstances of his death and the defense applied by the attacker, George Zimmerman. The fact that Trayvon Martin unnecessarily lost his life is troubling and an investigation into the surrounding circumstances is certainly warranted.
First of all I’d like to extend my condolences to the Martin family. 
I have been in the funeral services profession for over 40 years; I’ve walked with families through many tragic circumstances and I know how difficult it is.
I would like to emphasize that the approach that is currently developing in this situation, to convene a grand jury, is the proper one in which to discern the facts of this case. I certainly agree with everyone that justice must be served.
During the debate concerning this incident, some have brought into question the «Stand Your Ground» law, more commonly referred to as the «castle doctrine,» which has been used by the attacker to pardon his actions. 
As the prime sponsor of this legislation in the Florida House, I’d like to clarify that this law does not seem to be applicable to the tragedy that happened in Sanford. There is nothing in the castle doctrine as found in Florida statutes that authenticates or provides for the opportunity to pursue and confront individuals, it simply protects those who would be potential victims by allowing for force to be used in self-defense.
When the «stand your ground» or «castle doctrine» legislation passed in 2005, the catalytic event that brought the issue to the attention of the Florida Legislature was the looting of property in the aftermath of hurricanes. 
Specifically, there was a situation in the panhandle of Florida where a citizen moved an RV onto his property, to protect the remains of his home from being looted. One evening, a perpetrator broke into the RV and attacked the property owner. The property owner, acting in self-defense in his home, shot and killed the perpetrator. 
It was months before the property owner knew if he would be charged with a crime because of the lack of concrete definition in the statutes regarding self-defense and a perceived duty to retreat by the potential victim.
Until 2005, the castle doctrine had never been canonized into Florida law, but had been used with differing definition and application to the concept of self-defense. The focus of the law was to provide clear definition to acts of self-defense. 
The facets of the castle doctrine deal with using force to meet force as an act of self-defense when in your home, in your car, on your property, or anywhere you are legally able to be. The law also protects property owners and their homeowner’s insurance from being wrongfully sued by perpetrators who claim to be harmed while committing a crime.
The castle doctrine as passed, clarified that individuals are lawfully able to defend themselves when attacked and there is no duty to retreat when an individual is attacked on their property. Since the passage of this law in Florida, 26 other states have implemented similar statues. 
Additionally, the American Legislative Exchange Council used the Florida version of the castle doctrine as model legislation for other states. 
Quite simply the castle doctrine is a good law which now protects individuals in a majority of states. However, the castle doctrine does not provide protection to individuals who seek to pursue and confront others, as is allegedly the case in the Trayvon Martin tragedy in Sanford.
The information that has been publicly reported concerning Trayvon Martin’s death indicates that the castle doctrine may not be applicable to justify the actions of the attacker, Mr. Zimmerman. 
Media stories sharing the transcripts of the 911 tapes from the evening of the incident clearly show that Mr. Zimmerman was instructed by authorities to remain in his vehicle and to cease pursuit of Mr. Martin. George Zimmerman seems to have ignored the direction of the authorities and continued his pursuit of Mr. Martin. 
Mr. Zimmerman’s unnecessary pursuit and confrontation of Trayvon Martin elevated the prospect of a violent episode and does not seem to be an act of self-defense as defined by the castle doctrine. There is no protection in the «Stand Your Ground» law for anyone who pursues and confronts people.
I have great sympathy for the family of Trayvon Martin and am grateful that things are finally moving in the right direction to further explore what actually happened on that night in Sanford, Florida. Awaiting the convening of the grand jury, I trust that justice will be served and healing will begin for all of those affected.
Republican Dennis Baxley represents the 24th district in Florida’s House of Representatives. He was the prime sponsor of the «Stand Your Ground» law in 2005. He is the principal owner and vice president of Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services.

Castle Doctrine (also known as a Castle Law or a Defense of Habitation Law) is an American legal doctrine that designates a person’s abode (or, in some states, any place legally occupied, such as a car or place of work) as a place in which the person has certain protections and immunities and may in certain circumstances attack an intruder without becoming liable to prosecution.[1] Typically deadly force is considered justified, and a defense of justifiable homicide applicable, in cases «when the actor reasonably fears imminent peril of death or serious bodily harm to himself or another».[1] The doctrine is not a defined law that can be invoked, but a set of principles which is incorporated in some form in the law of most states.
The term derives from the historic English common law dictum that «an Englishman’s home is his castle». This concept was established as English law by 17th century jurist Sir Edward Coke, in his The Institutes of the Laws of England, 1628.[2] This was carried by colonists to the New World, who later removed «Englishman» from the phrase, thereby becoming simply the Castle Doctrine.[2] The term has been used to imply a person’s absolute right in England to exclude anyone from their home, although this has always had restrictions, and since the late twentieth century bailiffs have also had increasing powers of entry.[3]
The term «Make My Day Law» arose at the time of the 1985 Colorado statute that protects people from any criminal charge or civil suit if they use force – including deadly force – against an invader of the home.[4] The law’s nickname is a reference to the line «Go ahead, make my day» uttered by actor Clint Eastwood’s character Harry Callahan in the 1983 film Sudden Impact, inviting a suspect to make himself liable to deadly retaliation by attacking Eastwood’s character.

Intruder stopped for snack before fatal shooting


Can you imagine that he was in the couple’s place, making a meal in the kitchen, opening the fridge, and they only woke up when he came upstairs to wake up the couple? Someone needs a guard dog.

Good for the husband that he 86’d him with only 1 round to the chest.


The incident was mentioned Thursday morning in the Utah Legislature where the Utah Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill that clarifies a person is justified in defending their home and family against criminal activity and may not be held civilly liable for damage or injury to perpetrators.


Wow – what an arrogant burglar. Props to the homeowner. I can remember more than one ‘drive me to an ATM’ story where the perp later killed the abducted victim.

I agree with the may not be held liable for civil damages also. Some people don’t understand that when you kill an intruder in your home you may not be criminally liable, but the person’s family/heirs often sue you, and win.


Sounds like Darwin’s natural selection was at work again. As for civil lawsuits, these are getting less common because juries aren’t buying that b.s. anymore


Don’t we criticize urban youth who shoot and kill each other over a pair of sneakers that cost a hundred bucks? But it’s OK for adults to shoot and kill each other over what? A guy wanted a sandwich and was asking for a couple hundred bucks? A human life was worth less to this homeowner than a small amount of money. And now everyone is praising him over it. Jesus would have fed a hungry man.


I specifically created an account so I could respond to your RIDICULOUS comment. Did you not read the part where there were THREE children under the age of 5 in the house? Or that the intruder BROKE INTO THEIR HOME and said he had a gun? I would have pulled the trigger too. No one is welcome to threaten my family that way. There are other ways to get a couple hundred bucks – breaking into a home with small children and stating that you have a weapon is not one of them.


This is why I own a gun. And don’t reply with all your statistics about how somebody is more likely to die in my family then an intruder.


SPRINGVILLE, Utah (ABC 4 News) – Police say a man who broke into a Springville home was killed after he was shot by a resident.

The Springville Police Department told ABC 4 News that officers responded to the area of 800 South 475 East at around 3:00 a.m. on reports of a home invasion robbery.

When police arrived, officers say they found the alleged robber deceased from an apparent gunshot wound.

Police say the crime scene was being investigated but preliminary reports suggest that the home invasion victim reportedly shot the suspect who entered the residence through an unlocked back door.

The suspect’s name was not immediately released, although investigators identified him and were trying to contact his next-of-kin.

Police say that it appears the suspect had rummaged throughout the neighborhood in an effort to find unlocked homes and vehicles.

Police say that tracks left in the snow around other homes an vehicles in the neighborhood matches those found at the home where the break-in happened.

Police say the suspect broke a latch and entered the home, where he changed out of his wet clothes and into some of the resident’s clothing, and then made a ham sandwich tortilla wrap.

According to police, after the suspect helped himself to the food and clothes, he entered the master bedroom where a man and his wife were sleeping, woke them up, told the victims that he had a gun he’d recently stolen, and demanded that he be taken to an ATM.

Police say that’s when the resident went to his closet to retrieve some clothes, but instead reached for a hand gun and shot the suspect in the chest, killing him.

Springville Police say that the home invasion victims were safe and uninjured, including three children who were also sleeping in the home at the time of the break in.

Springville police responded to a call of a home invasion robbery at 2:48 a.m. in the area of 800 South and 475 East. When officers arrived they found Martinez had been fatally shot in the bedroom.

Lt. Dave Caron with the Springville Police Department said Martinez entered the home through a back sliding glass door. The door was locked with a child lock, but Martinez apparently disabled it by pulling hard on the door.

Once inside, Martinez took off clothes that had become wet while traipsing through the snow and change into some of the resident’s clothes, which were folded on the couch in the living room. Caron said Martinez then went to the kitchen, made a tortilla and ham wrap, ate some of it and returned the uneaten portion to the refrigerator before going upstairs.

Martinez then entered the master bedroom, told the homeowner and his wife that he had a gun, and ordered them to get keys to drive him to an ATM. Under the guise of getting ready to leave, the homeowner walked into a closet, got his .9-mm gun and shot Martinez , striking him once in the chest, Caron said.

Investigators say it appears that prior to entering this home, Martinez had walked through the neighborhood, checking at least 20 homes and several cars for unlocked doors. There are no reports of anything missing or any other homes or cars being broken into. Police are currently trying to document the route before the tracks melt.

Caron said Martinez matches the general description of a man wanted in connection with a similar incident last week.

«In that case he went into the home, stole a gun and apparently a cellphone,» Caron said. «He told these homeowners tonight that he had stolen a gun before, so we’re pretty sure it’s the same guy.»

Caron said neither the gun nor cellphone from the previous robbery was recovered at the scene of Thursday’s shooting. In fact, while the suspect claimed to have had a gun Thursday morning, none was found.

Investigators are treating the incident as a case of self-defense, but Caron said police are conducting a full investigation that will be treated just like any other. Still, the incident appears straightforward.

«I don’t see any reason to think it’s anything but (self-defense),» Caron said. «They don’t know this guy. This guy came into the house, threatened them, claimed he had a gun and, to protect his family, (the homeowner) took that action.»

There were three children — 3-year-old twin boys and an infant girl — in the home at the time. None of the family was injured, and police said the family is handling the situation well.

«It’s a pretty traumatic experience to have someone break into your home and then threaten you,» Caron said. «Then, to actually take the man’s life in your bedroom is pretty upsetting. All things considered, they were hanging in there pretty well.»

Neighbor Bridger Frampton said he spoke to the homeowner and said he sounded rattled and was still in shock. He was one of a number of neighbors who said they would have done the same thing if they had found themselves in a similar situation.

The incident was mentioned Thursday morning in the Utah Legislature where the Utah Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill that clarifies a person is justified in defending their home and family against criminal activity and may not be held civilly liable for damage or injury to perpetrators.


THE GAZETTE

An El Paso County jury on Friday awarded nearly $300,000 to the daughter of a burglar who was fatally shot in 2009 while breaking into an auto lot.

Parents of the victim, Robert Johnson Fox, embraced their attorneys after a judge announced the jury’s verdict, capping a two-week-long civil trial in which business owner Jovan Milanovic and two relatives were painted as vigilantes who plotted a deadly ambush rather than let authorities deal with a string of recent burglaries.

Phillip and Sue Fox, who filed suit for wrongful death in 2010 on behalf of Fox’s 3-year-old daughter, called the jury’s award a victory in their fight to seek accountability for the death of their son, who they say never posed a threat to the heavily armed men.

“Rob was in the wrong place doing the wrong thing, but the punishment didn’t fit the crime,” Sue Fox said afterward. “I can’t excuse his actions, but he didn’t deserve to be executed.”

The exact amount of the award was $269,500, for factors such as loss of companionship and loss of future earnings. The family will also be awarded some of the costs associated with the more than yearlong legal battle.

The jury of three men and three women deliberated for 2½ days over closely contested testimony about the predawn shooting on April 19, 2009.

Fox, 20, was shot after he and a friend scaled a fence to get inside Southwest Auto Sales at 2444 Platte Place in the city’s Knob Hill neighborhood. According to the accomplice, Brian Corbin, they had smoked methamphetamine and were looking to steal anything to buy more drugs.

Corbin testified he saw two armed men charge out of a building and run in their direction, one of them shouting “we’re gonna get you” in an obscenity-laced threat. Corbin, who escaped by climbing over a car and jumping a fence, said he felt a bullet pass by him as someone fired four gunshots.

Fox was standing inside a small shed when a .45-caliber rifle bullet passed through the shed’s door and pierced his heart.

Police said in a 145-page investigative report that the intruder had knives in his pockets and one strapped to his ankle, but never posed a threat to Milanovic or the other men, his father Ljuban Milanovic and brother-in-law Srdjan Novak.

The men are refugees who came to the United States from the former Yugoslavia in 1998.

Jurors found that Fox’s death was the result of “willful and deliberate” conduct by Jovan Milanovic, who was accused of firing the rifle, and Novak, who supplied the semiautomatic Heckler & Koch that Milanovic used in the killing.

Only Ljuban Milanovic emerged without a judgment against him.

The jurors declined to comment after the trial.

«It’s been a long two weeks,» one said before getting on an elevator.

The three men were accused of keeping an armed vigil over the auto lot and firing on the first burglars they saw. The men were angry over a series of thefts that began when someone broke in a week earlier and stole keys to customers’ automobiles as well as keys to buildings on the property.

Car stereos were taken in the days that followed, according to testimony.

Under Colorado’s self-defense laws, the use of deadly force is justified only under the “reasonable belief” that it’s necessary to prevent serious bodily injury or death. The jury found that none of the men had a legitimate claim of self-defense.

Property rights are not a lawful defense for using deadly force in Colorado, and the state’s so-called Make My Day law, which sets lower standard for using force, applies to households, not businesses.

For the plaintiff’s attorneys, Terry Rector and Jennifer Stock, Friday’s verdict ended an emotionally draining fight for the girl, Sidney Richardson, who has been cared for by the elder Foxes for the past year.

Rector, of Colorado Springs, had represented Fox on traffic matters, and said his death came as a blow.

«I can see him sitting in my office today,» an emotional Rector said as participants filed out of the courthouse.

«This is a victory for Sidney Richardson. It’s the only measure of justice we have – we cannot bring her father back.»

Said Stock: «This jury didn’t let sympathy and bias influence them. That’s why we got the correct verdict that follows the law.»

Milanovic and his father told police a week before the shooting they would shoot any intruders who returned. Police say the men concealed the rifle in the trunk of a car so well that a police detective initially missed it during a search.

The 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges in the shooting, and instead sent the case to a grand jury, which decided against returning an indictment, effectively clearing the trio of criminal wrongdoing.

The civil award has no criminal implications for the Milanovics or Novak.

Defense attorneys John P. Craver and Chelsey Burns declined to comment.

Read more:Burglar’s family awarded $300,000 in wrongful death suit

Read more: http://www.gazette.com/articles/jury-123946-burglar-lot.html#ixzz1ojiIqC5U

http://www.koaa.com/news/suspected-burglar-shot-by-homeowner/

Michigan shooting: Reasonable self-defense or second-degree murder?


By Staff writer / November 15, 2013 

In a case that is drawing comparisons to George Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin in a gated Florida community, a white homeowner in suburban Detroit was charged Friday with second-degree murder in the shooting death of an unarmed young black woman who came to his front door in the middle of the night two weeks ago.


The homeowner, Theodore Wafer of Dearborn Heights, Mich., was also charged with manslaughter and the possession of a firearm in the shooting death of 19-year-old Renisha McBride. Wayne County prosecutors allege Mr. Wafer shot Ms. McBride through the locked screen door of his home after 4 a.m. on Nov. 2.
If convicted Wafer, who was released on bond after his arraignment Friday afternoon, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. Key to the case will be assessing how threatened Wafer felt when he came to his door, and whether those feelings were reasonable. Police say Wafer told them he thought someone was breaking into his house and that he accidentally fired his 12-gauge shotgun.

It is uncertain why McBride ended up on Wafer’s front porch; three hours earlier, she crashed her car into a parked vehicle about a mile from the house and walked off in a bloodied condition, according to police.
Prosecutors say Wafer violated Michigan law on self-defense that says the shooter “must honestly and reasonably believe that he is in imminent danger of either losing his life or suffering great bodily harm,” says Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.





Racial bias


By Staff writer / August 6, 2013

During the closing arguments of the George Zimmerman trial, defense attorney Mark O'Mara asked the courtroom to be quiet for four long minutes. When he at last broke the silence, he said those four minutes were the amount of time that Trayvon Martin had had to go home.

Mr. O'Mara left no doubts: It was Trayvon's decision not to go home, but instead to "plan" an attack on Mr. Zimmerman, punching and beating him, that caused Zimmerman to fatally shoot him. Because he did not go home, O'Mara said, "Trayvon Martin caused his own death."

The implication in O'Mara's argument was that Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, who was armed, and who ignored a 911 dispatcher's instructions not to follow Trayvon, had more of a right to stand his ground than did 17-year-old Trayvon, who was black. And the verdict suggests the jurors agreed.
Data from other states with stand-your-ground laws indicate that the Zimmerman jury was not alone in being sympathetic to such a claim. Whites are significantly more successful claiming self-defense when their attacker is black than blacks are when fighting back against an attacker who is white, according to one study.

Stand-your-ground laws have begun to change the calculus of self-defense in the United States. The idea behind them is to "expand the legal justification for the use of lethal force in self-defense, thereby lowering the expected cost of using lethal force and increasing the expected cost of committing violent crime," say researchers Cheng Cheng and Mark Hoekstra in a Texas A&M study.
Statistics included in the study bore that out, showing that justifiable homicides rose by 8 percent in stand-your-ground states, amounting to some 600 additional killings.

The laws have spread quickly. Since Florida passed the first stand-your-ground law in 2005, at least 30 other states have followed suit, either though legislative action or court decisions.




September 12, 2013

"Stand Your Ground" and other Shoot First laws lead to tragedy, as we witnessed in the case of Trayvon Martin.
Now Congress is investigating the devastating impact of these laws. On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary will be holding a hearing to consider how these laws have spread and what effect they've had on civil rights and public safety.1
Senator Dick Durbin, the chair of the committee, is seeking testimony about these laws for committee members to consider. This is an important opportunity to show support for repeal of these deadly laws.
Submit your testimony telling the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to stand up to the NRA and stop the spread of Stand Your Ground laws. Click here for sample text.
The NRA, backed by gun manufacturers and politicians associated with the shadowy right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), helped shepherd Shoot First laws through dozens of states.2 These laws dangerously offer a legal stamp of approval to a "shoot first, ask questions later" mentality.
Throw in the eye-popping number of concealed-carry permits (which now stands at 8 million nationally) and lax gun laws generally, and you have a dangerous recipe for unnecessarily violent, often fatal conflict.3
In Florida, for example, the rate of "justifiable" homicides has tripled since the state passed its Shoot First law, in 2005.4 Now it's time for the public to push back against these dangerous laws.
Submit your testimony telling the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to stand up to the NRA and stop the spread of Stand Your Ground laws. Click the link below for sample text:
http://act.credoaction.com/go/1862?t=4&akid=8889.5084505.5Pnv5G
Thank you for standing up to the NRA.
Jordan Krueger, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets
Take action now ?
1. "'Stand Your Ground' Laws: Civil Rights and Public Safety Implications of the Expanded Use of Deadly Force." Senate Judiciary Committee.
2. Adam Weinstein, "How the NRA and Its Allies Helped Spread a Radical Gun Law Nationwide." Mother Jones, June 7, 2012.
3. "Shoot First Laws Policy Summary." Law center to Prevent Gun violence, July 18, 2013.
4. Alex Seitz-Wald, "Stand Your Ground Laws Coincide With Jump In ‘Justifiable Homicides’." ThinkProgress, April 9, 2012.





Last year, our son Trayvon Martin was stalked, chased down and killed by George Zimmerman, and Zimmerman received no punishment whatsoever. That's in large part because Florida is one of at least 21 states with some form of 'Stand Your Ground' law which enables people like George Zimmerman to claim self-defense.
'Stand Your Ground' was never meant to give aggressors the opportunity to get away with murder, but that is what happened when our son Trayvon was killed. After Trayvon's death, law enforcement used the law as an excuse to refuse to arrest George Zimmerman. Even worse, the jury in the case was instructed to think of what Zimmerman did as self-defense, even though Zimmerman ignored instructions from the police and instigated conflict with our son, who was just trying to get home to his father.
We are shocked and heartbroken by the jury’s decision to allow our son’s killer to go free. Despite our despair, we must honor Trayvon’s legacy by doing all that we can to protect other young people from being targeted, pursued, and senselessly murdered.
We started a petition on Change.org calling on 21 governors whose states have some form of 'Stand Your Ground' laws to review those laws and amend them so that people who instigate conflicts -- people like George Zimmerman -- won't be able to use these laws to get away with murder.
We are not the only ones calling for 'Stand Your Ground' laws to be reviewed. President Obama spoke out on the need for review, and prominent Republicans like Senator John McCain have joined him. This is not a Democrat or Republican issue, it’s not ‘black’ or ‘white’ issue, it’s a wrong and right issue.
This is a matter of making sure that no other family will ever have to go through what we have been through. No parents should ever have to know what it feels like to watch your child's killer walk free.
Our hearts broke on the night of February 26, 2012 when George Zimmerman killed our son -- and we were stunned and devastated when the police refused to arrest Zimmerman. We petitioned for Zimmerman's arrest on Change.org, and after more than 2 million people joined our call, Zimmerman was charged with our son's murder. We felt so much closer to justice for Trayvon, and so grateful for the support of those who signed our petition.
But on July 13, 2013, our hearts broke again when the jury set Zimmerman free. Our hearts broke because it is so hard to accept that we can't protect Trayvon anymore. But we can fight to make sure that this never happens again. 
Please sign our petition calling for a thorough review of all 'Stand Your Ground' laws to prevent killers like George Zimmerman from going free.
We want to say thank you to all of you who have stood up for our son. Because of all your efforts, Trayvon’s life is celebrated all over the world. Please continue to stand with us as we fight to ensure that his legacy is to leave behind a safer and more peaceful world for all our sons and daughters.
Thank you,
Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton





The Joe Horn shooting controversy refers to the events of November 14, 2007, in Pasadena, Texas, United States, when local resident Joe Horn shot and killed two men burglarizing his neighbor's home. Publicized recordings of Horn's exchange with emergency dispatch indicate that he was asked repeatedly not to interfere with the burglary because the police would soon be on hand.[1] The shootings have resulted in debate regarding self-defense, Castle Doctrine laws, and Texas laws relating to use of deadly force to prevent or stop property crimes. The illegal alien status of the burglars has been highlighted because of the U.S. border controversy.[2] On June 30, 2008, Joe Horn was cleared by a grand jury in the Pasadena shootings.

Joe Horn, 61, spotted two burglars breaking into his next-door neighbor's home in Pasadena, Texas. He called 9-1-1 to summon police to the scene. While on the phone with emergency dispatch, Horn stated that he had the right to use deadly force to defend property, referring to a law (Texas Penal Code §§ 9.41, 9.42, and 9.43) which justified the use of deadly force to protect Horn's home. Horn exited his home with his shotgun, while the 9-1-1 operator tried to dissuade him from that action. On the 9-1-1 tape, he is heard confronting the suspects, saying, "Move, and you're dead",[3] immediately followed by the sound of a shotgun blast, followed by two more.[4] Following the shootings Mr. Horn told the 9-1-1 operator, "They came in the front yard with me, man, I had no choice!" [5]

Police initially identified the dead men in Horn's yard as 38-year-old Miguel Antonio DeJesus and Diego Ortiz, 30, both currently resident in Houston and of Afro Latino descent. However, DeJesus was actually an alias of an individual named Hernando Riascos Torres.[3] Torres and Ortiz were carrying a sack with cash and jewelry taken from the home next door to Joe Horn. Both were criminals from Colombia who had been convicted on drug trafficking charges.[1] Police found a Puerto Rican identification card on Ortiz. Torres had three identification cards from Colombia, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic, and had been previously sent to prison for dealing cocaine. Torres had been deported in 1999.[6]

A plain clothes police detective responding to the 9-1-1 call arrived at the scene before the shooting, and witnessed the escalation and shootings while remaining in his car.[3] His report on the incident indicated that the men who were killed "received gunfire from the rear".[1] Police Capt. A.H. Corbett stated the two men ignored Mr. Horn's order to freeze and that one of the suspects ran towards Joe Horn before angling away from Horn toward the street when the suspect was shot in the back. The medical examiner's report could not specify whether they were shot in the back due to the ballistics of the shotgun wound.[7] Pasadena police confirmed that the two men were shot after they ventured into Horn's front yard. The detective did not arrest Horn.

The incident touched off protests, led by Quanell X, leader of the Houston chapter of the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) that were met by counter-protests from Horn's neighbors and other supporters, with the NBPP protesters rapidly leaving.





Former President Bill Clinton said the “tragedy” of the killing of Trayvon Martin should cause a re-thinking of the “Stand Your Ground” law.

“There are different stories being told,” the former president said, “so the first thing I have to say is that it’s important to find out the facts.”

Clinton continued “but to me, beyond the incredible personal tragedy- this young man was not armed, he clearly presented no threat to anybody’s life — is, the most important thing I’ve read was from the former police chief in Florida in the community, he was one of many law enforcement officers testifying against that Stand Your Ground law. And he said, you know this is going to create all kinds of problems. And it’s going to be almost impossible to prove what was in someone’s mind when a certain thing happened.”

Clinton said “people have always had a right to have a handgun in their home- to protect their homes- then we’ve seen this breathtaking expansion of the concealed weapons laws in America moving from the late 90?s into this decade, far — if you will — to the extreme that America had ever been on these.

“And now the Stand Your Ground law,” he continued. “I think the law is going to create real problems because anyone can — anyone who doesn’t have a criminal background, anyone not prohibited by the Brady Bill and caught by the checks — can basically be a part of a neighborhood watch where they have a concealed weapon whether they had proper law enforcement training or not. And whether they’ve had any experience in conflict situations with people or not.

“So I hope this will lead to a reappraisal of the Stand Your Ground laws,” President Clinton said, “and I hope that the truth will come out and that the tragedy of this young man’s loss will not be in vain- it’s just terrible. Whatever the facts were — all these people trying to jump on him and talking about some mistake he made in his life- that’s irrelevant because unarmed person who was killed on the street by a gun. And so I hope justice will be done in this case but I hope that the larger justice that would somehow redeem a portion of this terrible loss.”

He said: “the American people should re-examine their position on that and ask: Is this really worth it? Are we really all that much safer taking the chance that this kind of thing could happen over and over and over again?”

The president made his comments in an exclusive interview with ABC News focused on his work with Clinton Global Initiative University.

See more from the interview here.
-Jake Tapper




Trayvon Martin's alleged attacker not covered under law I wrote

Published March 21, 2012
| FoxNews.com



The tragic story of Trayvon Martin's death in Sanford, Florida has ignited a great deal of passion and concern regarding the circumstances of his death and the defense applied by the attacker, George Zimmerman. The fact that Trayvon Martin unnecessarily lost his life is troubling and an investigation into the surrounding circumstances is certainly warranted.
First of all I'd like to extend my condolences to the Martin family. 
I have been in the funeral services profession for over 40 years; I've walked with families through many tragic circumstances and I know how difficult it is.
I would like to emphasize that the approach that is currently developing in this situation, to convene a grand jury, is the proper one in which to discern the facts of this case. I certainly agree with everyone that justice must be served.
During the debate concerning this incident, some have brought into question the "Stand Your Ground" law, more commonly referred to as the "castle doctrine," which has been used by the attacker to pardon his actions. 
As the prime sponsor of this legislation in the Florida House, I'd like to clarify that this law does not seem to be applicable to the tragedy that happened in Sanford. There is nothing in the castle doctrine as found in Florida statutes that authenticates or provides for the opportunity to pursue and confront individuals, it simply protects those who would be potential victims by allowing for force to be used in self-defense.
When the "stand your ground" or "castle doctrine" legislation passed in 2005, the catalytic event that brought the issue to the attention of the Florida Legislature was the looting of property in the aftermath of hurricanes. 
Specifically, there was a situation in the panhandle of Florida where a citizen moved an RV onto his property, to protect the remains of his home from being looted. One evening, a perpetrator broke into the RV and attacked the property owner. The property owner, acting in self-defense in his home, shot and killed the perpetrator. 
It was months before the property owner knew if he would be charged with a crime because of the lack of concrete definition in the statutes regarding self-defense and a perceived duty to retreat by the potential victim.
Until 2005, the castle doctrine had never been canonized into Florida law, but had been used with differing definition and application to the concept of self-defense. The focus of the law was to provide clear definition to acts of self-defense. 
The facets of the castle doctrine deal with using force to meet force as an act of self-defense when in your home, in your car, on your property, or anywhere you are legally able to be. The law also protects property owners and their homeowner's insurance from being wrongfully sued by perpetrators who claim to be harmed while committing a crime.
The castle doctrine as passed, clarified that individuals are lawfully able to defend themselves when attacked and there is no duty to retreat when an individual is attacked on their property. Since the passage of this law in Florida, 26 other states have implemented similar statues. 
Additionally, the American Legislative Exchange Council used the Florida version of the castle doctrine as model legislation for other states. 
Quite simply the castle doctrine is a good law which now protects individuals in a majority of states. However, the castle doctrine does not provide protection to individuals who seek to pursue and confront others, as is allegedly the case in the Trayvon Martin tragedy in Sanford.
The information that has been publicly reported concerning Trayvon Martin's death indicates that the castle doctrine may not be applicable to justify the actions of the attacker, Mr. Zimmerman. 
Media stories sharing the transcripts of the 911 tapes from the evening of the incident clearly show that Mr. Zimmerman was instructed by authorities to remain in his vehicle and to cease pursuit of Mr. Martin. George Zimmerman seems to have ignored the direction of the authorities and continued his pursuit of Mr. Martin. 
Mr. Zimmerman's unnecessary pursuit and confrontation of Trayvon Martin elevated the prospect of a violent episode and does not seem to be an act of self-defense as defined by the castle doctrine. There is no protection in the "Stand Your Ground" law for anyone who pursues and confronts people.
I have great sympathy for the family of Trayvon Martin and am grateful that things are finally moving in the right direction to further explore what actually happened on that night in Sanford, Florida. Awaiting the convening of the grand jury, I trust that justice will be served and healing will begin for all of those affected.
Republican Dennis Baxley represents the 24th district in Florida's House of Representatives. He was the prime sponsor of the "Stand Your Ground" law in 2005. He is the principal owner and vice president of Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services.




Castle Doctrine (also known as a Castle Law or a Defense of Habitation Law) is an American legal doctrine that designates a person's abode (or, in some states, any place legally occupied, such as a car or place of work) as a place in which the person has certain protections and immunities and may in certain circumstances attack an intruder without becoming liable to prosecution.[1] Typically deadly force is considered justified, and a defense of justifiable homicide applicable, in cases "when the actor reasonably fears imminent peril of death or serious bodily harm to himself or another".[1] The doctrine is not a defined law that can be invoked, but a set of principles which is incorporated in some form in the law of most states.

The term derives from the historic English common law dictum that "an Englishman's home is his castle". This concept was established as English law by 17th century jurist Sir Edward Coke, in his The Institutes of the Laws of England, 1628.[2] This was carried by colonists to the New World, who later removed "Englishman" from the phrase, thereby becoming simply the Castle Doctrine.[2] The term has been used to imply a person's absolute right in England to exclude anyone from their home, although this has always had restrictions, and since the late twentieth century bailiffs have also had increasing powers of entry.[3]

The term "Make My Day Law" arose at the time of the 1985 Colorado statute that protects people from any criminal charge or civil suit if they use force – including deadly force – against an invader of the home.[4] The law's nickname is a reference to the line "Go ahead, make my day" uttered by actor Clint Eastwood's character Harry Callahan in the 1983 film Sudden Impact, inviting a suspect to make himself liable to deadly retaliation by attacking Eastwood's character.




Intruder stopped for snack before fatal shooting



Can you imagine that he was in the couple's place, making a meal in the kitchen, opening the fridge, and they only woke up when he came upstairs to wake up the couple? Someone needs a guard dog.

Good for the husband that he 86'd him with only 1 round to the chest.


The incident was mentioned Thursday morning in the Utah Legislature where the Utah Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill that clarifies a person is justified in defending their home and family against criminal activity and may not be held civilly liable for damage or injury to perpetrators.



Wow - what an arrogant burglar. Props to the homeowner. I can remember more than one 'drive me to an ATM' story where the perp later killed the abducted victim.

I agree with the may not be held liable for civil damages also. Some people don't understand that when you kill an intruder in your home you may not be criminally liable, but the person's family/heirs often sue you, and win.



Sounds like Darwin's natural selection was at work again. As for civil lawsuits, these are getting less common because juries aren't buying that b.s. anymore



Don't we criticize urban youth who shoot and kill each other over a pair of sneakers that cost a hundred bucks? But it's OK for adults to shoot and kill each other over what? A guy wanted a sandwich and was asking for a couple hundred bucks? A human life was worth less to this homeowner than a small amount of money. And now everyone is praising him over it. Jesus would have fed a hungry man.


I specifically created an account so I could respond to your RIDICULOUS comment. Did you not read the part where there were THREE children under the age of 5 in the house? Or that the intruder BROKE INTO THEIR HOME and said he had a gun? I would have pulled the trigger too. No one is welcome to threaten my family that way. There are other ways to get a couple hundred bucks - breaking into a home with small children and stating that you have a weapon is not one of them.



This is why I own a gun. And don't reply with all your statistics about how somebody is more likely to die in my family then an intruder.





SPRINGVILLE, Utah (ABC 4 News) – Police say a man who broke into a Springville home was killed after he was shot by a resident.

The Springville Police Department told ABC 4 News that officers responded to the area of 800 South 475 East at around 3:00 a.m. on reports of a home invasion robbery.

When police arrived, officers say they found the alleged robber deceased from an apparent gunshot wound.

Police say the crime scene was being investigated but preliminary reports suggest that the home invasion victim reportedly shot the suspect who entered the residence through an unlocked back door.

The suspect's name was not immediately released, although investigators identified him and were trying to contact his next-of-kin.

Police say that it appears the suspect had rummaged throughout the neighborhood in an effort to find unlocked homes and vehicles.

Police say that tracks left in the snow around other homes an vehicles in the neighborhood matches those found at the home where the break-in happened.

Police say the suspect broke a latch and entered the home, where he changed out of his wet clothes and into some of the resident's clothing, and then made a ham sandwich tortilla wrap.

According to police, after the suspect helped himself to the food and clothes, he entered the master bedroom where a man and his wife were sleeping, woke them up, told the victims that he had a gun he'd recently stolen, and demanded that he be taken to an ATM.

Police say that's when the resident went to his closet to retrieve some clothes, but instead reached for a hand gun and shot the suspect in the chest, killing him.

Springville Police say that the home invasion victims were safe and uninjured, including three children who were also sleeping in the home at the time of the break in.

Springville police responded to a call of a home invasion robbery at 2:48 a.m. in the area of 800 South and 475 East. When officers arrived they found Martinez had been fatally shot in the bedroom.

Lt. Dave Caron with the Springville Police Department said Martinez entered the home through a back sliding glass door. The door was locked with a child lock, but Martinez apparently disabled it by pulling hard on the door.

Once inside, Martinez took off clothes that had become wet while traipsing through the snow and change into some of the resident's clothes, which were folded on the couch in the living room. Caron said Martinez then went to the kitchen, made a tortilla and ham wrap, ate some of it and returned the uneaten portion to the refrigerator before going upstairs.

Martinez then entered the master bedroom, told the homeowner and his wife that he had a gun, and ordered them to get keys to drive him to an ATM. Under the guise of getting ready to leave, the homeowner walked into a closet, got his .9-mm gun and shot Martinez , striking him once in the chest, Caron said.

Investigators say it appears that prior to entering this home, Martinez had walked through the neighborhood, checking at least 20 homes and several cars for unlocked doors. There are no reports of anything missing or any other homes or cars being broken into. Police are currently trying to document the route before the tracks melt.

Caron said Martinez matches the general description of a man wanted in connection with a similar incident last week.

"In that case he went into the home, stole a gun and apparently a cellphone," Caron said. "He told these homeowners tonight that he had stolen a gun before, so we're pretty sure it's the same guy."

Caron said neither the gun nor cellphone from the previous robbery was recovered at the scene of Thursday's shooting. In fact, while the suspect claimed to have had a gun Thursday morning, none was found.

Investigators are treating the incident as a case of self-defense, but Caron said police are conducting a full investigation that will be treated just like any other. Still, the incident appears straightforward.

"I don't see any reason to think it's anything but (self-defense)," Caron said. "They don't know this guy. This guy came into the house, threatened them, claimed he had a gun and, to protect his family, (the homeowner) took that action."

There were three children — 3-year-old twin boys and an infant girl — in the home at the time. None of the family was injured, and police said the family is handling the situation well.

"It's a pretty traumatic experience to have someone break into your home and then threaten you," Caron said. "Then, to actually take the man's life in your bedroom is pretty upsetting. All things considered, they were hanging in there pretty well."

Neighbor Bridger Frampton said he spoke to the homeowner and said he sounded rattled and was still in shock. He was one of a number of neighbors who said they would have done the same thing if they had found themselves in a similar situation.

The incident was mentioned Thursday morning in the Utah Legislature where the Utah Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill that clarifies a person is justified in defending their home and family against criminal activity and may not be held civilly liable for damage or injury to perpetrators.



THE GAZETTE

An El Paso County jury on Friday awarded nearly $300,000 to the daughter of a burglar who was fatally shot in 2009 while breaking into an auto lot.

Parents of the victim, Robert Johnson Fox, embraced their attorneys after a judge announced the jury’s verdict, capping a two-week-long civil trial in which business owner Jovan Milanovic and two relatives were painted as vigilantes who plotted a deadly ambush rather than let authorities deal with a string of recent burglaries.

Phillip and Sue Fox, who filed suit for wrongful death in 2010 on behalf of Fox’s 3-year-old daughter, called the jury’s award a victory in their fight to seek accountability for the death of their son, who they say never posed a threat to the heavily armed men.

“Rob was in the wrong place doing the wrong thing, but the punishment didn’t fit the crime,” Sue Fox said afterward. “I can’t excuse his actions, but he didn’t deserve to be executed.”

The exact amount of the award was $269,500, for factors such as loss of companionship and loss of future earnings. The family will also be awarded some of the costs associated with the more than yearlong legal battle.

The jury of three men and three women deliberated for 2½ days over closely contested testimony about the predawn shooting on April 19, 2009.

Fox, 20, was shot after he and a friend scaled a fence to get inside Southwest Auto Sales at 2444 Platte Place in the city’s Knob Hill neighborhood. According to the accomplice, Brian Corbin, they had smoked methamphetamine and were looking to steal anything to buy more drugs.

Corbin testified he saw two armed men charge out of a building and run in their direction, one of them shouting “we’re gonna get you” in an obscenity-laced threat. Corbin, who escaped by climbing over a car and jumping a fence, said he felt a bullet pass by him as someone fired four gunshots.

Fox was standing inside a small shed when a .45-caliber rifle bullet passed through the shed’s door and pierced his heart.

Police said in a 145-page investigative report that the intruder had knives in his pockets and one strapped to his ankle, but never posed a threat to Milanovic or the other men, his father Ljuban Milanovic and brother-in-law Srdjan Novak.

The men are refugees who came to the United States from the former Yugoslavia in 1998.

Jurors found that Fox’s death was the result of “willful and deliberate” conduct by Jovan Milanovic, who was accused of firing the rifle, and Novak, who supplied the semiautomatic Heckler & Koch that Milanovic used in the killing.

Only Ljuban Milanovic emerged without a judgment against him.

The jurors declined to comment after the trial.

"It's been a long two weeks," one said before getting on an elevator.

The three men were accused of keeping an armed vigil over the auto lot and firing on the first burglars they saw. The men were angry over a series of thefts that began when someone broke in a week earlier and stole keys to customers’ automobiles as well as keys to buildings on the property.

Car stereos were taken in the days that followed, according to testimony.

Under Colorado’s self-defense laws, the use of deadly force is justified only under the “reasonable belief” that it’s necessary to prevent serious bodily injury or death. The jury found that none of the men had a legitimate claim of self-defense.

Property rights are not a lawful defense for using deadly force in Colorado, and the state’s so-called Make My Day law, which sets lower standard for using force, applies to households, not businesses.

For the plaintiff's attorneys, Terry Rector and Jennifer Stock, Friday's verdict ended an emotionally draining fight for the girl, Sidney Richardson, who has been cared for by the elder Foxes for the past year.

Rector, of Colorado Springs, had represented Fox on traffic matters, and said his death came as a blow.

"I can see him sitting in my office today," an emotional Rector said as participants filed out of the courthouse.

"This is a victory for Sidney Richardson. It's the only measure of justice we have - we cannot bring her father back."

Said Stock: "This jury didn't let sympathy and bias influence them. That's why we got the correct verdict that follows the law."

Milanovic and his father told police a week before the shooting they would shoot any intruders who returned. Police say the men concealed the rifle in the trunk of a car so well that a police detective initially missed it during a search.

The 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office declined to file charges in the shooting, and instead sent the case to a grand jury, which decided against returning an indictment, effectively clearing the trio of criminal wrongdoing.

The civil award has no criminal implications for the Milanovics or Novak.

Defense attorneys John P. Craver and Chelsey Burns declined to comment.



Read more:Burglar's family awarded $300,000 in wrongful death suit

Read more: http://www.gazette.com/articles/jury-123946-burglar-lot.html#ixzz1ojiIqC5U


http://www.koaa.com/news/suspected-burglar-shot-by-homeowner/

SWAT

Dennis Gaydos, a homeless man from Palm Springs, was making his home outside of a church in the sunny Florida community without incident until a police intervention changed his life.

Gaydos says he was keeping to himself in his temporary home on the church grounds when the Palm Springs Police department SWAT team, dressed in full military garb, shot him multiple times with rubber bullets.

The close-range blast slashed off a portion of his right ear lobe and rendered his left eye a pulpy mess.

In the four years since the event, Gaydos has filed a federal lawsuit against Palm Beach County, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and the Village of Palm Springs Police Department. The lawsuit, which was filed in late July, is in response to the SWAT team to removing him from his encampment and severely butchering him.

Other damages include “physical suffering, permanent disfigurement including the loss of use of a bodily function, injury and mental anguish.”

“What happened to Mr. Gaydos was outrageous,” says Kevin Anderson to Jose Lambiet of GossipExtra.com. Anderson, Gaydos’ police liability lawyer, adds that “the behavior of the police officers and deputies at the scene was simply unexplainable.”

The lawsuit states, with a deployed helicopter over head, “the plaintiff was overtaken by multiple deputies and police officers. The Plaintiff was not threatening harm to the officers or other individuals upon the defendants’ arrival.”

Authorities claim Gaydos refused to come out and, on the contrary, officers allegedly took action when they spotted Gaydos wielding a cell phone in one hand and a “knife” in the other.

Gaydos admits to having a cell phone in his hands at the night of the incident, but said he had just finished calling a food assistance agency.

It is believed that the food agency’s operator reported to law enforcement that Gaydos was living in underbrush by the church’s parking lot.

Gaydos claims the incident which left him blind and deaf should have never occurred since he had permission from the pastor to reside there.

Gaydos’ attorney added the artificial light in the area was more than sufficient to prevent an “accidental” shooting.

Palm Beach County records indicate the night of the incident, Gaydos didn’t have any criminal charges filed against him and was never arrested.

According to official records no knife was recovered from the scene either.


Five years after a California SWAT team raided the home of a man already imprisoned and pointed weapons at his loved ones, a Ninth Circuit panel will allow the family of Javier Bravo Jr. to sue the detective working the case.

The SWAT team in Santa Maria, California burst opened the door of Hope and Javier Bravo’s home in 2006 looking for their son over alleged connections with a drive-by shooting. Authorities were looking for the younger Bravo and believed he had hidden weapons involved in a 2006 drive-by shooting, but were unable to locate him after they stormed the house shortly after 5 a.m.

As luck would have it, Bravo was already behind bars. His incarceration was clearly listed on the search warrant obtained by Detective Louis Tanore, though authorities neglected to notice it before drawing weapons on the criminal’s family.

After pointing assault weapons at the 8-year-old grandson of the Bravos, the child ran off to the bathroom screaming. Hope Bravo then produced a letter penned by her son that was mailed from prison as to proof of his incarceration. As noted on the rap sheet attached to the warrant, Javier Jr. had been behind bars for six months already at the time of the raid.

At the time of the incident, a District Court judge ruled in favor of the authorities and argued that the fact that Javier Jr. was imprisoned at the time was irrelevant to the raid. Last Friday, however, a federal appeals court reversed the decision, allowing the family to go after the detective and others involved.

According to Judge Michael Daly Hawkins, the police “had no evidence that Mr. and Mrs. Bravo or E.B. were involved in the April 21 shooting or that during a period in which Javier Junior was not residing in their home they would have assisted Tangas gang members in concealing evidence, and specifically in concealing evidence from the shooting.” Further, the judge went after the detective and charged that his “generalized statements in the affidavit that it is ‘common’ for families of gang members to assist other members of the gang are insufficient to support probable cause to search the Bravos’ home.”


A Seattle, Washington apartment rented by members of the local Occupy Wall Street chapter was raided and ransacked by the local SWAT team early Tuesday as part of an investigation into alleged anarchist actions.

In a press release published after the event by a spokesperson with Occupy Seattle, the group says that all four residents of the Judkins Park area apartment were sleeping during the 6 a.m. raid. Authorities still used a battering-ram like device to break down a door and deploy stun grenades, however, a non-lethal weapon used to disorient its victims.

“Suddenly we heard the bang of their grenade, and the crashing as police entered the apartment,” neighbor Natalio Perez tells the Kasama Project website. “The crashing and stomping continued for a long time as they tore the place apart.”

The Seattle Police Department has since explained to the public that the raid was in conjunction with an ongoing investigation into protests that occurred during the May Day actions earlier this year. The police add that by executing the search warrant, they were able to collective “evidence that will be useful” in their ongoing probe.

Last month, reporters at the Puget Sound Anarchists website wrote that the FBI was behind repeated attempts into investigating Occupy Seattle and organizers that authorities believe were involved in the May 1, 2012 protests.

“Over the past few weeks the FBI has contacted and spoken with at least two individuals who have been involved in Occupy Seattle. In both instances, the agents have threatened to take these individuals away from their loved ones. From what is known, these individuals were contacted because of the events surrounding the May 1st General Strike,” the website reported.

One resident of the Seattle apartment adds to the Kasama Project site that a warrant made available by officers on Tuesday suggested “they were looking for specific pieces of clothing supposedly connected with a May First incident.”

“This warrant says that they were specifically looking for ‘anarchist materials’ — which lays out the political police state nature of this right there,” the source adds.

Phillip Neel was one of the Occupiers residing in the apartment during the raid, and was actually presented with the search warrant used by the SWAT team. Describing it to the Fire Dog Lake website, Neel says cops were concerned with locating “black hoodies, face masks, goggles,” and other items that could have been tied to the May First protests.

Blogger Kevin Gosztola adds in his report that police are reported to have confiscated clothing and sunglasses, and that “Fliers and a pamphlet that anyone could’ve picked up at any Occupy action were seized.”

Following the raid, around 50 people gathered for a protest that took demonstrators around the Seattle Police Department’s East Prestinct, the Seattle Times reports. No arrests were made during the early morning raid or during that evening’s protest.


There isn’t a lot to do in Paragould, Arkansas, but residents of the town of barely 25,000 seem to have no problem finding trouble. Now in order to curb the rising crime rate, the city is proposing heavily armed police patrol the streets on foot.

At a town hall meeting on Thursday, Mayor Mike Gaskill and Police Chief Todd Stovall endorsed a plan to send cops dressed in full-fledged SWAT gear and equipped with AR-15s into downtown Paragould starting in 2013.

The militarized police force will be tasked with trying to control a crime rate that has made Paragould an increasingly dangerous place to live in recent years. According to statistics collected by city-data.com, Paragould has had a property crime index rating more than double the national average since 2007. Rapes, burglaries, thefts and assaults per capita are also well above the mean there, statistically suggesting Paragould is perhaps the least-safe among area cities.

«This fear is what’s given us the reason to do this. Once I have stats and people saying they’re scared, we can do this,» Stovall said, according to the Paragould Daily Press. «It allows us to do what we’re fixing to do.»

In order to bring crime down, residents of Paragould may soon have to endure police officers brandishing semi-automatic assault riddles on the regular. What’s more, Stovall says, is he intends to have the cops collecting identification from everyone and anyone in an attempt to discourage criminal activity.

“If you’re out walking, we’re going to stop you, ask why you’re out walking, check for your ID,” the Daily Press reports him saying during last week’s meeting.

«To ask you for your ID, I have to have a reason,» he said. «Well, I’ve got statistical reasons that say I’ve got a lot of crime right now, which gives me probable cause to ask what you’re doing out. Then when I add that people are scared…then that gives us even more [reason] to ask why are you here and what are you doing in this area.»

«They may not be doing anything but walking their dog,» added Mayor Gaskill, «but they’re going to have to prove it.»

Soon after the Paragould Daily Press picked up the story, news of the small town’s efforts to enforce martial law began making headlines outside of Arkansas. On Sunday, Stovall authored an explanation on the Paragould Police Department website to clarify how exactly the proposed Street Crimes Unit will interact with citizens.

“Most often, this identification process will be nothing more than making contact with a subject, handing them a business card, and asking if they live in the area and if there’s anything we can do for them,” he says. During hours in which crime seems to be more prevalent, however, Chief Stovall says their process “will become more stringent.”

“We will be asking for picture identification. We will be ascertaining where the subject lives and what they are doing in the area. We will be keeping a record of those we contact.”

Stovall adds that they program would not violate the constitutional rights of Paragould citizens, claiming, “Once we have an area that shows a high crime rate or a high call volume, it is our duty and obligation to find out why this is occurring and what we can do to prevent the trend from continuing. Therefore, identifying subjects in those problem areas help us to solve crimes, and hopefully to prevent future crimes.”

Paragould has scheduled two more town hall meetings to discuss the Street Crimes Unit.


The parents of a 12-year-old girl are asking for answers from the Billings, Montana SWAT team after a flash-bang grenade was tossed into their daughter’s bedroom, sending the preteen to a local emergency room with second-degree burns.

Armed police officers busted down the door of the Fasching family’s West End Billings home on Tuesday to execute a search warrant filed by the City-County Special Investigations Unit as part of an ongoing narcotics investigation. Before they could do as much, though, an agent with the SWAT team on the scene prematurely detonated a stun grenade that is reported to have caused not just substantial damage to the home but its occupants as well, including a 12-year-old girl only inches away from where the device was deployed.

«She has first- and second-degree burns down the left side of her body and on her arms,» mother Jackie Fasching tells The Missoulian newspaper. «She’s got severe pain. Every time I think about it, it brings tears to my eyes.»

The girl, whose name is being withheld, was in her sister’s room when the SWAT team stormed the house early Tuesday. And while she has since been treated and released twice from a local hospital, pictures from the aftermath provided to the Missoulian by her parents show that the family didn’t suffer from just a minor mishap.

«I’m going to have to take them to counseling,» Mrs. Fasching says. «They’re never going to get over that.»

The early-morning raid occurred at around 6 a.m. when the entire family was home, and while the Billings Police Department says they took all precautions to minimize injury, they’re now apologizing for the injury their misconduct has caused.

«It was totally unforeseen, totally unplanned and extremely regrettable,» Police Chief Rich St. John tells the paper. «We certainly did not want a juvenile, or anyone else for that matter, to get injured.»

According to the story the department has provided to the paper, a member of the SWAT team accidently dropped a standard “flash-bang” grenade from a metal pole placed up to a bedroom window of the house without realizing that the device operated off a slight delay. The weapons are regularly used to disorient people in the immediate vicinity with a bright flash, loud bang and concussive blast, the paper writes. When it detonated inside the Fasching home, though, it was on the floor next the child.

Jackie Fasching says all of this could have been avoided if the police would have just used their manners.

«A simple knock on the door and I would’ve let them in,» she tells the paper. «They said their intel told them there was a meth lab at our house. If they would’ve checked, they would’ve known there’s not.»

Chief St. John says that the amount and significance of intelligence made available to the department was enough to warrant a raid either way, and said that the department weighed their investigation carefully before determining that a surprise visit was the best way to search the house.

«Every bit of information and intelligence that we have comes together and we determine what kind of risk is there,» he tells the Missoulian. «The warrant was based on some hard evidence and everything we knew at the time.»

«If we’re wrong or made a mistake, then we’re going to take care of it,» he adds. «But if it determines we’re not, then we’ll go with that. When we do this, we want to ensure the safety of not only the officers, but the residents inside.»

Three days after the raid, the department has yet to file any charges against members of the Fasching household and no one in the family has been taken into custody.


An Evansville, Indiana SWAT team recently attempted to execute a search warrant that was issued to make an example out of an anonymous Internet user who made malicious remarks on the Web. Instead, they destroyed the home of an innocent grandmother.

When members of the Midwest town’s SWAT team plotted their raid on the alleged home of the person behind some unpleasant remarks published on an Internet forum, they invited a local television crew to accompany them so that they could catch the whole thing on camera. Instead of arresting the author of the ill-tempered posts, however, the Evansville SWAT ravaged the home of an elderly woman and confiscated her 18-year-old granddaughter’s laptop.

The SWAT team did not have the name of who they were going after. They barely even had an identity. What they did have to work with, though, was the IP address of a person who logged onto the Topix.com Web forums and made discouraging remarks about local law enforcement.

An archived copy of the thread in question reveals that the police department might have had a reason to be worried. “Cops be aware,” a person using the handle usarmy wrote on Topix. The thread began when another user claimed that the home addresses of Evansville Police Department officers had been leaked and was spreading online, and usarmy was hardly the first person to reply. When the person behind that username did write a response, however, they had some things to say that didn’t sit well with the EPD. In between a slew of self-censored expletives, the author implied that they were considering an attack on an unspecified member of the police department.

“4th of July a cops house gonna get hit. dont care about your kids or btchs lives. I dnt even care bout my own life. I got my reasons..times ticking,” reads one post from usarmy.

“I am proud of my county, but I hate police of any kind,” reads another. “I have explosives.:) made in America.Evansville will feel my pain.guess who’s in the river.”

Acting on the assumed planned act of aggression, officials were able to figure out the author’s IP address. As several courts have ruled recently, though, that isn’t enough to exactly single out a certain home, let alone a person. While an Internet Protocol address can be linked to a computer, any person who accesses that network’s WiFi — with or without authorization — can be linked to that IP. Only last month, in fact, New York Eastern District federal court magistrate Judge Gary Brown ruled that IP address logs can’t be used on its own to link a suspect to a crime, writing “a single IP address usually supports multiple computer devices – which unlike traditional telephones can be operated simultaneously by different individuals.” District Court Judge Howard R. Lloyd made essentially the same ruling one month earlier in a Northern District of California courtroom.

Ira Milan, whose house ended up targeted by the authorities, tells the Evansville Courier & Press that she thinks the author of the posts used her granddaughter’s Internet connection from an outside location. Police Chief Billy Bolin says it is much more cut and dry, though.

“We have no way of being able to tell that,” Bolin tells the Courier, adding that the messages “definitely come back to that address.”

Police reps tell the Courier that they obtained a search warrant for computer equipment at Milan’s house so that they could collect whatever devices may have been used to make the anonymous posts. Responding to an inquiry from the paper, though, the Vanderburgh County Clerk’s Office was initially unable to locate a copy of the document; Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann also refused to comply with the request. When Bolin was asked by the media to materialize the warrant, he deferred their plea and insisted that producing the paper could compromise the investigation. What Bolin did have to say, however, was that the document did not contain the names of any suspects.

“We have an idea in our mind who it is, but we don’t have evidence yet,” Bolin explains to the Courier.

Even still, the department says that the hunch was enough to throw two flash-bang stun grenades into the front window of Ira Milan’s home. The Courier Press reports that the front door was open at the time of the incident.

“To bring a whole SWAT team seems a little excessive,” says Milan.

Authorities say it should prove their point, though.

“This is a big deal to us,” Sgt. Jason Cullum, a police department spokesman, tells the Courier Press. “This may be just somebody who was online just talking stupid. What I would suggest to anybody who visits websites like that is that their comments can be taken literally.”

A day after the raid, 18-year-old Stephanie Milan’s cellphone and laptops were still being held by police.


This is just the beginning of the case, but really this lawsuit will hold the officers accountable for Mr. Serrato’s death, finally, and hopefully prevent this kind of tragedy from happening in the future,” says Haddad.

«You’ve got two young boys who’ve lost their father,» he adds. «Nothing can ever replace their father.»

Dennis Gaydos, a homeless man from Palm Springs, was making his home outside of a church in the sunny Florida community without incident until a police intervention changed his life.

Gaydos says he was keeping to himself in his temporary home on the church grounds when the Palm Springs Police department SWAT team, dressed in full military garb, shot him multiple times with rubber bullets.

The close-range blast slashed off a portion of his right ear lobe and rendered his left eye a pulpy mess.

In the four years since the event, Gaydos has filed a federal lawsuit against Palm Beach County, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and the Village of Palm Springs Police Department. The lawsuit, which was filed in late July, is in response to the SWAT team to removing him from his encampment and severely butchering him.

Other damages include “physical suffering, permanent disfigurement including the loss of use of a bodily function, injury and mental anguish.”

“What happened to Mr. Gaydos was outrageous,” says Kevin Anderson to Jose Lambiet of GossipExtra.com. Anderson, Gaydos’ police liability lawyer, adds that “the behavior of the police officers and deputies at the scene was simply unexplainable.”

The lawsuit states, with a deployed helicopter over head, “the plaintiff was overtaken by multiple deputies and police officers. The Plaintiff was not threatening harm to the officers or other individuals upon the defendants’ arrival.”

Authorities claim Gaydos refused to come out and, on the contrary, officers allegedly took action when they spotted Gaydos wielding a cell phone in one hand and a “knife” in the other.

Gaydos admits to having a cell phone in his hands at the night of the incident, but said he had just finished calling a food assistance agency.

It is believed that the food agency’s operator reported to law enforcement that Gaydos was living in underbrush by the church’s parking lot.

Gaydos claims the incident which left him blind and deaf should have never occurred since he had permission from the pastor to reside there.

Gaydos’ attorney added the artificial light in the area was more than sufficient to prevent an “accidental” shooting.

Palm Beach County records indicate the night of the incident, Gaydos didn’t have any criminal charges filed against him and was never arrested.

According to official records no knife was recovered from the scene either.



Five years after a California SWAT team raided the home of a man already imprisoned and pointed weapons at his loved ones, a Ninth Circuit panel will allow the family of Javier Bravo Jr. to sue the detective working the case.

The SWAT team in Santa Maria, California burst opened the door of Hope and Javier Bravo’s home in 2006 looking for their son over alleged connections with a drive-by shooting. Authorities were looking for the younger Bravo and believed he had hidden weapons involved in a 2006 drive-by shooting, but were unable to locate him after they stormed the house shortly after 5 a.m.

As luck would have it, Bravo was already behind bars. His incarceration was clearly listed on the search warrant obtained by Detective Louis Tanore, though authorities neglected to notice it before drawing weapons on the criminal’s family.

After pointing assault weapons at the 8-year-old grandson of the Bravos, the child ran off to the bathroom screaming. Hope Bravo then produced a letter penned by her son that was mailed from prison as to proof of his incarceration. As noted on the rap sheet attached to the warrant, Javier Jr. had been behind bars for six months already at the time of the raid.

At the time of the incident, a District Court judge ruled in favor of the authorities and argued that the fact that Javier Jr. was imprisoned at the time was irrelevant to the raid. Last Friday, however, a federal appeals court reversed the decision, allowing the family to go after the detective and others involved.

According to Judge Michael Daly Hawkins, the police “had no evidence that Mr. and Mrs. Bravo or E.B. were involved in the April 21 shooting or that during a period in which Javier Junior was not residing in their home they would have assisted Tangas gang members in concealing evidence, and specifically in concealing evidence from the shooting.” Further, the judge went after the detective and charged that his “generalized statements in the affidavit that it is 'common' for families of gang members to assist other members of the gang are insufficient to support probable cause to search the Bravos' home.”



A Seattle, Washington apartment rented by members of the local Occupy Wall Street chapter was raided and ransacked by the local SWAT team early Tuesday as part of an investigation into alleged anarchist actions.



In a press release published after the event by a spokesperson with Occupy Seattle, the group says that all four residents of the Judkins Park area apartment were sleeping during the 6 a.m. raid. Authorities still used a battering-ram like device to break down a door and deploy stun grenades, however, a non-lethal weapon used to disorient its victims.

“Suddenly we heard the bang of their grenade, and the crashing as police entered the apartment,” neighbor Natalio Perez tells the Kasama Project website. “The crashing and stomping continued for a long time as they tore the place apart.”

The Seattle Police Department has since explained to the public that the raid was in conjunction with an ongoing investigation into protests that occurred during the May Day actions earlier this year. The police add that by executing the search warrant, they were able to collective “evidence that will be useful” in their ongoing probe.

Last month, reporters at the Puget Sound Anarchists website wrote that the FBI was behind repeated attempts into investigating Occupy Seattle and organizers that authorities believe were involved in the May 1, 2012 protests.

“Over the past few weeks the FBI has contacted and spoken with at least two individuals who have been involved in Occupy Seattle. In both instances, the agents have threatened to take these individuals away from their loved ones. From what is known, these individuals were contacted because of the events surrounding the May 1st General Strike,” the website reported.

One resident of the Seattle apartment adds to the Kasama Project site that a warrant made available by officers on Tuesday suggested “they were looking for specific pieces of clothing supposedly connected with a May First incident.”

“This warrant says that they were specifically looking for ‘anarchist materials’ — which lays out the political police state nature of this right there,” the source adds.

Phillip Neel was one of the Occupiers residing in the apartment during the raid, and was actually presented with the search warrant used by the SWAT team. Describing it to the Fire Dog Lake website, Neel says cops were concerned with locating “black hoodies, face masks, goggles,” and other items that could have been tied to the May First protests.

Blogger Kevin Gosztola adds in his report that police are reported to have confiscated clothing and sunglasses, and that “Fliers and a pamphlet that anyone could’ve picked up at any Occupy action were seized.”

Following the raid, around 50 people gathered for a protest that took demonstrators around the Seattle Police Department’s East Prestinct, the Seattle Times reports. No arrests were made during the early morning raid or during that evening’s protest.



There isn’t a lot to do in Paragould, Arkansas, but residents of the town of barely 25,000 seem to have no problem finding trouble. Now in order to curb the rising crime rate, the city is proposing heavily armed police patrol the streets on foot.

At a town hall meeting on Thursday, Mayor Mike Gaskill and Police Chief Todd Stovall endorsed a plan to send cops dressed in full-fledged SWAT gear and equipped with AR-15s into downtown Paragould starting in 2013.

The militarized police force will be tasked with trying to control a crime rate that has made Paragould an increasingly dangerous place to live in recent years. According to statistics collected by city-data.com, Paragould has had a property crime index rating more than double the national average since 2007. Rapes, burglaries, thefts and assaults per capita are also well above the mean there, statistically suggesting Paragould is perhaps the least-safe among area cities.

"This fear is what's given us the reason to do this. Once I have stats and people saying they're scared, we can do this," Stovall said, according to the Paragould Daily Press. "It allows us to do what we're fixing to do."

In order to bring crime down, residents of Paragould may soon have to endure police officers brandishing semi-automatic assault riddles on the regular. What’s more, Stovall says, is he intends to have the cops collecting identification from everyone and anyone in an attempt to discourage criminal activity.

“If you're out walking, we're going to stop you, ask why you're out walking, check for your ID,” the Daily Press reports him saying during last week’s meeting.

"To ask you for your ID, I have to have a reason," he said. "Well, I've got statistical reasons that say I've got a lot of crime right now, which gives me probable cause to ask what you're doing out. Then when I add that people are scared…then that gives us even more [reason] to ask why are you here and what are you doing in this area."

"They may not be doing anything but walking their dog," added Mayor Gaskill, "but they're going to have to prove it."

Soon after the Paragould Daily Press picked up the story, news of the small town’s efforts to enforce martial law began making headlines outside of Arkansas. On Sunday, Stovall authored an explanation on the Paragould Police Department website to clarify how exactly the proposed Street Crimes Unit will interact with citizens.

“Most often, this identification process will be nothing more than making contact with a subject, handing them a business card, and asking if they live in the area and if there's anything we can do for them,” he says. During hours in which crime seems to be more prevalent, however, Chief Stovall says their process “will become more stringent.”

“We will be asking for picture identification. We will be ascertaining where the subject lives and what they are doing in the area. We will be keeping a record of those we contact.”

Stovall adds that they program would not violate the constitutional rights of Paragould citizens, claiming, “Once we have an area that shows a high crime rate or a high call volume, it is our duty and obligation to find out why this is occurring and what we can do to prevent the trend from continuing. Therefore, identifying subjects in those problem areas help us to solve crimes, and hopefully to prevent future crimes.”

Paragould has scheduled two more town hall meetings to discuss the Street Crimes Unit.



The parents of a 12-year-old girl are asking for answers from the Billings, Montana SWAT team after a flash-bang grenade was tossed into their daughter’s bedroom, sending the preteen to a local emergency room with second-degree burns.

Armed police officers busted down the door of the Fasching family’s West End Billings home on Tuesday to execute a search warrant filed by the City-County Special Investigations Unit as part of an ongoing narcotics investigation. Before they could do as much, though, an agent with the SWAT team on the scene prematurely detonated a stun grenade that is reported to have caused not just substantial damage to the home but its occupants as well, including a 12-year-old girl only inches away from where the device was deployed.

"She has first- and second-degree burns down the left side of her body and on her arms," mother Jackie Fasching tells The Missoulian newspaper. "She's got severe pain. Every time I think about it, it brings tears to my eyes."

The girl, whose name is being withheld, was in her sister’s room when the SWAT team stormed the house early Tuesday. And while she has since been treated and released twice from a local hospital, pictures from the aftermath provided to the Missoulian by her parents show that the family didn’t suffer from just a minor mishap.

"I'm going to have to take them to counseling," Mrs. Fasching says. "They're never going to get over that."

The early-morning raid occurred at around 6 a.m. when the entire family was home, and while the Billings Police Department says they took all precautions to minimize injury, they’re now apologizing for the injury their misconduct has caused.

"It was totally unforeseen, totally unplanned and extremely regrettable," Police Chief Rich St. John tells the paper. "We certainly did not want a juvenile, or anyone else for that matter, to get injured."

According to the story the department has provided to the paper, a member of the SWAT team accidently dropped a standard “flash-bang” grenade from a metal pole placed up to a bedroom window of the house without realizing that the device operated off a slight delay. The weapons are regularly used to disorient people in the immediate vicinity with a bright flash, loud bang and concussive blast, the paper writes. When it detonated inside the Fasching home, though, it was on the floor next the child.

Jackie Fasching says all of this could have been avoided if the police would have just used their manners.

"A simple knock on the door and I would've let them in," she tells the paper. "They said their intel told them there was a meth lab at our house. If they would've checked, they would've known there's not."

Chief St. John says that the amount and significance of intelligence made available to the department was enough to warrant a raid either way, and said that the department weighed their investigation carefully before determining that a surprise visit was the best way to search the house.

"Every bit of information and intelligence that we have comes together and we determine what kind of risk is there," he tells the Missoulian. "The warrant was based on some hard evidence and everything we knew at the time."

"If we're wrong or made a mistake, then we're going to take care of it," he adds. "But if it determines we're not, then we'll go with that. When we do this, we want to ensure the safety of not only the officers, but the residents inside."

Three days after the raid, the department has yet to file any charges against members of the Fasching household and no one in the family has been taken into custody.



An Evansville, Indiana SWAT team recently attempted to execute a search warrant that was issued to make an example out of an anonymous Internet user who made malicious remarks on the Web. Instead, they destroyed the home of an innocent grandmother.

When members of the Midwest town’s SWAT team plotted their raid on the alleged home of the person behind some unpleasant remarks published on an Internet forum, they invited a local television crew to accompany them so that they could catch the whole thing on camera. Instead of arresting the author of the ill-tempered posts, however, the Evansville SWAT ravaged the home of an elderly woman and confiscated her 18-year-old granddaughter’s laptop.

The SWAT team did not have the name of who they were going after. They barely even had an identity. What they did have to work with, though, was the IP address of a person who logged onto the Topix.com Web forums and made discouraging remarks about local law enforcement.

An archived copy of the thread in question reveals that the police department might have had a reason to be worried. “Cops be aware,” a person using the handle usarmy wrote on Topix. The thread began when another user claimed that the home addresses of Evansville Police Department officers had been leaked and was spreading online, and usarmy was hardly the first person to reply. When the person behind that username did write a response, however, they had some things to say that didn’t sit well with the EPD. In between a slew of self-censored expletives, the author implied that they were considering an attack on an unspecified member of the police department.

“4th of July a cops house gonna get hit. dont care about your kids or btchs lives. I dnt even care bout my own life. I got my reasons..times ticking,” reads one post from usarmy.

“I am proud of my county, but I hate police of any kind,” reads another. “I have explosives.:) made in America.Evansville will feel my pain.guess who's in the river.”

Acting on the assumed planned act of aggression, officials were able to figure out the author’s IP address. As several courts have ruled recently, though, that isn’t enough to exactly single out a certain home, let alone a person. While an Internet Protocol address can be linked to a computer, any person who accesses that network’s WiFi — with or without authorization — can be linked to that IP. Only last month, in fact, New York Eastern District federal court magistrate Judge Gary Brown ruled that IP address logs can’t be used on its own to link a suspect to a crime, writing “a single IP address usually supports multiple computer devices – which unlike traditional telephones can be operated simultaneously by different individuals.” District Court Judge Howard R. Lloyd made essentially the same ruling one month earlier in a Northern District of California courtroom.

Ira Milan, whose house ended up targeted by the authorities, tells the Evansville Courier & Press that she thinks the author of the posts used her granddaughter’s Internet connection from an outside location. Police Chief Billy Bolin says it is much more cut and dry, though.

“We have no way of being able to tell that,” Bolin tells the Courier, adding that the messages “definitely come back to that address.”

Police reps tell the Courier that they obtained a search warrant for computer equipment at Milan’s house so that they could collect whatever devices may have been used to make the anonymous posts. Responding to an inquiry from the paper, though, the Vanderburgh County Clerk’s Office was initially unable to locate a copy of the document; Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann also refused to comply with the request. When Bolin was asked by the media to materialize the warrant, he deferred their plea and insisted that producing the paper could compromise the investigation. What Bolin did have to say, however, was that the document did not contain the names of any suspects.

“We have an idea in our mind who it is, but we don’t have evidence yet,” Bolin explains to the Courier.

Even still, the department says that the hunch was enough to throw two flash-bang stun grenades into the front window of Ira Milan’s home. The Courier Press reports that the front door was open at the time of the incident.

“To bring a whole SWAT team seems a little excessive,” says Milan.

Authorities say it should prove their point, though.

“This is a big deal to us,” Sgt. Jason Cullum, a police department spokesman, tells the Courier Press. “This may be just somebody who was online just talking stupid. What I would suggest to anybody who visits websites like that is that their comments can be taken literally.”

A day after the raid, 18-year-old Stephanie Milan’s cellphone and laptops were still being held by police.



This is just the beginning of the case, but really this lawsuit will hold the officers accountable for Mr. Serrato's death, finally, and hopefully prevent this kind of tragedy from happening in the future,” says Haddad.

"You've got two young boys who've lost their father," he adds. "Nothing can ever replace their father."

Paranoid Intolerence

“Do we fear terrorism so much that we throw out our Constitution, and are we unwilling and afraid to debate our Constitution?”
Rand Paul

“We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them.”
Christian Nestell Bovee

“The first duty of man is to conquer fear; he must get rid of it, he cannot act till then.”
Thomas Carlyle

The case of teenager Cameron Dambrosio might serve as an object lesson to young people everywhere about minding what you say online unless you are prepared to be arrested for terrorism.

The Methuen, Mass., high school student was arrested last week after posting online videos that show him rapping an original song that police say contained “disturbing verbiage” and reportedly mentioned the White House and the Boston Marathon bombing. He is charged with communicating terrorist threats, a state felony, and faces a potential 20 years in prison. Bail is set at $1 million.

Whether the arrest proves to be a victory in America’s fight against domestic terrorism or whether Cameron made an unfortunate artistic choice in the aftermath of the Boston bombing will become clear as the wheels of justice advance. What is apparent now, however, is that law enforcement agencies are tightening their focus on the social media behavior of US teenagers – not just because young people often fit the profile of those who are vulnerable to radicalization, but also because the public appears to be more accepting of monitoring and surveillance aimed at preventing attacks, even at the risk of government overreach.

“When I was young, calling a bomb threat to your high school because you didn’t want to go to school that day was treated with a slap on the wrist. Try that nowadays and you’re going to prison, no question about it. They are taking it more seriously now,” says Rob D’Ovidio, a criminal justice professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia who specializes in high-tech crime.

Teenagers are generally blissfully unaware that law enforcement agencies are creating cyber units to track and investigate developing ways that criminals, or would-be criminals, research, socialize, and plot nefarious actions, from child molestation to domestic terrorism. The Boston Marathon bombing suspects, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, fit this profile: Each maintained a YouTube page and Twitter feed that promoted the teachings of a radical Muslim cleric. alongside innocuous postings about music and sports. For law enforcement officials, filtering what does and does not constitute a threat is a delicate balancing act that, since the April 15 bombing, may be tilting to the side of additional caution over individuals’ free speech.

“The danger of this in light of the tragedy in Boston is that law enforcement is being so risk-averse they are in danger of crossing that line and going after what courts would ultimately deem as free speech,” Mr. D’Ovidio says.


One morning at Bartow High School in Florida, she put toilet cleaner and aluminum foil in a water bottle to see what might happen. It was just, she said, an experiment.

Even her school principal admitted that it merely sounded like a firecracker.

However, she found herself expelled from school and arrested for felonious possession/discharge of a dangerous weapon. It emerged that the same D.A who charged her had, two days previously, decided not to charge a 13-year-old who shot dead his 10-year-old brother.

However, now there is some good news. The criminal charges have been dropped. She will not have to live her life as a felon.

As the Orlando Sentinel reports, the office of the state attorney (what? not the governor?), Jerry Hill, declared that it had made «an offer of diversion of prosecution to the child.» Wilmot will be asked to perform some sort of community service.

A school district spokeswoman offered these words of comfort: «The Polk County School District will take the state attorney’s decision into consideration in determining what, if any, further disciplinary action is appropriate.»

The effects of unchecked criminalization: Teen charged with felony for science experiment

By Sesali Bowen | Published: May 1, 2013

Share on TumblrSubmit to StumbleUponDigg ThisShare via email

Kiera Wilmont, the young woman of color unfairly criminalized, smiles and does NOT look menacing. When we talk about the criminalization of communities and people of color, especially African Americans and Latinos in America, we often talk about the criminal justice system in America that disproportionately targets those communities.Schools are often the major accomplices in making this system run with the school to prison pipeline. Nothing exemplifies this more than what is happening to 16 year old Kiera Wilmot in Florida. According to the Miami New Times,

 ”7 a.m. on Monday, the 16 year-old mixed some common household chemicals in a small 8 oz water bottle on the grounds of Bartow High School in Bartow, Florida. The reaction caused a small explosion that caused the top to pop up and produced some smoke. No one was hurt and no damage was caused.
…Wilmot told police that she was merely conducting a science experiment. Though her teachers knew nothing of the specific project, her principal seems to agree.
‘She made a bad choice. Honestly, I don’t think she meant to ever hurt anyone,’ principal Ron Pritchard told the station. ‘She wanted to see what would happen [when the chemicals mixed] and was shocked by what it did. Her mother is shocked, too.’

This sounds like a harmless instance of experimentation gone wrong. No harm, no foul right? Even the principle thinks it was simply a poor decision. A week of detention, maybe even suspension, was in order no doubt. So why did it go down like this?

“After the explosion Wilmot was taken into custody by a school resources officer and charged with possession/discharge of a weapon on school grounds and discharging a destructive device. She will be tried as an adult.
She was then taken to a juvenile assessment center. She was also expelled from school and will be forced to complete her diploma through an expulsion program.”

The school released the following statement:

“Anytime a student makes a bad choice it is disappointing to us. Unfortunately, the incident that occurred at Bartow High School yesterday was a serious breach of conduct. In order to maintain a safe and orderly learning environment, we simply must uphold our code of conduct rules. We urge our parents to join us in conveying the message that there are consequences to actions. We will not compromise the safety and security of our students and staff.”

I call bullshit. This is not about the “safety and security” of students and staff at Bartow High School. This was about setting an example, at the expense of Wilmot, and sending a message that even (mis)perceived threats will be dealt with swiftly and harshly. The unfortunate truth is that in America, those perceptions are heavily tied up in notions of race, class, and gender.
Those perceptions may have helped them come to the conclusion that Wilmot’s concoction was indeed a weapon. The code of conduct clearly states that “intention” is a factor in whether or not there has been a breach of that specific rule. But somehow the principal managed to defend the girls intentions but still expel and have her arrested.
Is the perceived threat to the safety of her classmates and teachers also the reason why Wilmot is being tried as an adult with a felony? A student with good grades and no behavioral problems to speak of should be followed with a felony because she was curious about a chemical reaction? She has been ushered into the criminal justice system with this decision. Access to employment, education, housing, etc. will all be limited to Wilmot with a felony on her record.
As a graduate of a Chicago Public School I am very familiar with teachers not being interested in nurturing the minds of students. Instead, they create a mindless generation that simply does what they’re told, no questions asked, all in the interest of maintaining an orderly “classroom”. Sending students to prisons is the solution for those who can’t be “controlled”. I have witnessed the policing that happens when school staff and administration fears its students, of color. Let me be clear, zero tolerance policies are not about keeping schools safe. They exist to keep school administrators from being held accountable for the environment they create in their institution and making contextual judgement calls.
I pray that all works out for Kiera Wilmot.


A Sacramento couple is speaking out about their ordeal after their five-month-old son was taken from their home by police and put into protective custody.

The nightmare began on April 23 when parents Anna and Alex Nikolayev brought their baby Sammy to the Sutter Memorial Hospital. Trips to the doctor are a regular event for the family because Sammy has a heart murmur and needs to be checked frequently. On this visit, he was exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

Anna says she became concerned when she witnessed a nurse administering antibiotics, something another doctor had advised against. Then, a physician told them the baby needed open heart surgery as soon as possible. The couple put their son into his stroller and brought him directly to another hospital to obtain a second opinion, without receiving an official discharge. Doctors at Kaiser Parmanente Medical Center told them it was safe to return home with Sammy.

The next day, in an incident that was caught in a disturbing home video, police showed up at the Nikolayev’s home and took him from the parents to place in protective custody. «I’m going to grab your baby and don’t resist,» says one officer. A statement from Sutter Memorial provided to ABC News reads: «Our nurses and physicians are bound by duty to call authorities if they believe a pediatric patient’s health is in danger.»

After almost a week of only being able to visit Sammy for an hour a day, the Nikolayev’s have been reunited with their son. On Monday, a judge ruled that he be moved to Stamford Medical Center where his condition is being evaluated. Although they have regained control of his medical decision, they have to allow Child Protectice Services (CPS) to visit their home and also agree never to remove him from a hospital without official discharge. The parents will appear in court on May 28. Sacramento CPS said in a statement: «The law is clear. If there is imminent risk of serious physical harm to the child and there is insufficient time to obtain a court order to remove the child from the care of the parents… the social worker or law enforcement officer can remove the child.»

“Do we fear terrorism so much that we throw out our Constitution, and are we unwilling and afraid to debate our Constitution?”
Rand Paul

“We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them.”
Christian Nestell Bovee

“The first duty of man is to conquer fear; he must get rid of it, he cannot act till then.”
Thomas Carlyle


The case of teenager Cameron Dambrosio might serve as an object lesson to young people everywhere about minding what you say online unless you are prepared to be arrested for terrorism.

The Methuen, Mass., high school student was arrested last week after posting online videos that show him rapping an original song that police say contained “disturbing verbiage” and reportedly mentioned the White House and the Boston Marathon bombing. He is charged with communicating terrorist threats, a state felony, and faces a potential 20 years in prison. Bail is set at $1 million.

Whether the arrest proves to be a victory in America's fight against domestic terrorism or whether Cameron made an unfortunate artistic choice in the aftermath of the Boston bombing will become clear as the wheels of justice advance. What is apparent now, however, is that law enforcement agencies are tightening their focus on the social media behavior of US teenagers – not just because young people often fit the profile of those who are vulnerable to radicalization, but also because the public appears to be more accepting of monitoring and surveillance aimed at preventing attacks, even at the risk of government overreach.


“When I was young, calling a bomb threat to your high school because you didn’t want to go to school that day was treated with a slap on the wrist. Try that nowadays and you’re going to prison, no question about it. They are taking it more seriously now,” says Rob D'Ovidio, a criminal justice professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia who specializes in high-tech crime.

Teenagers are generally blissfully unaware that law enforcement agencies are creating cyber units to track and investigate developing ways that criminals, or would-be criminals, research, socialize, and plot nefarious actions, from child molestation to domestic terrorism. The Boston Marathon bombing suspects, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, fit this profile: Each maintained a YouTube page and Twitter feed that promoted the teachings of a radical Muslim cleric. alongside innocuous postings about music and sports. For law enforcement officials, filtering what does and does not constitute a threat is a delicate balancing act that, since the April 15 bombing, may be tilting to the side of additional caution over individuals' free speech.

“The danger of this in light of the tragedy in Boston is that law enforcement is being so risk-averse they are in danger of crossing that line and going after what courts would ultimately deem as free speech,” Mr. D'Ovidio says.



One morning at Bartow High School in Florida, she put toilet cleaner and aluminum foil in a water bottle to see what might happen. It was just, she said, an experiment.

Even her school principal admitted that it merely sounded like a firecracker.

However, she found herself expelled from school and arrested for felonious possession/discharge of a dangerous weapon. It emerged that the same D.A who charged her had, two days previously, decided not to charge a 13-year-old who shot dead his 10-year-old brother.

However, now there is some good news. The criminal charges have been dropped. She will not have to live her life as a felon.

As the Orlando Sentinel reports, the office of the state attorney (what? not the governor?), Jerry Hill, declared that it had made "an offer of diversion of prosecution to the child." Wilmot will be asked to perform some sort of community service.

A school district spokeswoman offered these words of comfort: "The Polk County School District will take the state attorney's decision into consideration in determining what, if any, further disciplinary action is appropriate."

The effects of unchecked criminalization: Teen charged with felony for science experiment


Share on TumblrSubmit to StumbleUponDigg ThisShare via email
Kiera Wilmont, the young woman of color unfairly criminalized, smiles and does NOT look menacing. When we talk about the criminalization of communities and people of color, especially African Americans and Latinos in America, we often talk about the criminal justice system in America that disproportionately targets those communities.Schools are often the major accomplices in making this system run with the school to prison pipeline. Nothing exemplifies this more than what is happening to 16 year old Kiera Wilmot in Florida. According to the Miami New Times,
 ”7 a.m. on Monday, the 16 year-old mixed some common household chemicals in a small 8 oz water bottle on the grounds of Bartow High School in Bartow, Florida. The reaction caused a small explosion that caused the top to pop up and produced some smoke. No one was hurt and no damage was caused.
…Wilmot told police that she was merely conducting a science experiment. Though her teachers knew nothing of the specific project, her principal seems to agree.
‘She made a bad choice. Honestly, I don’t think she meant to ever hurt anyone,’ principal Ron Pritchard told the station. ‘She wanted to see what would happen [when the chemicals mixed] and was shocked by what it did. Her mother is shocked, too.’
This sounds like a harmless instance of experimentation gone wrong. No harm, no foul right? Even the principle thinks it was simply a poor decision. A week of detention, maybe even suspension, was in order no doubt. So why did it go down like this?

“After the explosion Wilmot was taken into custody by a school resources officer and charged with possession/discharge of a weapon on school grounds and discharging a destructive device. She will be tried as an adult.
She was then taken to a juvenile assessment center. She was also expelled from school and will be forced to complete her diploma through an expulsion program.”
The school released the following statement:
“Anytime a student makes a bad choice it is disappointing to us. Unfortunately, the incident that occurred at Bartow High School yesterday was a serious breach of conduct. In order to maintain a safe and orderly learning environment, we simply must uphold our code of conduct rules. We urge our parents to join us in conveying the message that there are consequences to actions. We will not compromise the safety and security of our students and staff.”
I call bullshit. This is not about the “safety and security” of students and staff at Bartow High School. This was about setting an example, at the expense of Wilmot, and sending a message that even (mis)perceived threats will be dealt with swiftly and harshly. The unfortunate truth is that in America, those perceptions are heavily tied up in notions of race, class, and gender.
Those perceptions may have helped them come to the conclusion that Wilmot’s concoction was indeed a weapon. The code of conduct clearly states that “intention” is a factor in whether or not there has been a breach of that specific rule. But somehow the principal managed to defend the girls intentions but still expel and have her arrested.
Is the perceived threat to the safety of her classmates and teachers also the reason why Wilmot is being tried as an adult with a felony? A student with good grades and no behavioral problems to speak of should be followed with a felony because she was curious about a chemical reaction? She has been ushered into the criminal justice system with this decision. Access to employment, education, housing, etc. will all be limited to Wilmot with a felony on her record.
As a graduate of a Chicago Public School I am very familiar with teachers not being interested in nurturing the minds of students. Instead, they create a mindless generation that simply does what they’re told, no questions asked, all in the interest of maintaining an orderly “classroom”. Sending students to prisons is the solution for those who can’t be “controlled”. I have witnessed the policing that happens when school staff and administration fears its students, of color. Let me be clear, zero tolerance policies are not about keeping schools safe. They exist to keep school administrators from being held accountable for the environment they create in their institution and making contextual judgement calls.
I pray that all works out for Kiera Wilmot.


A Sacramento couple is speaking out about their ordeal after their five-month-old son was taken from their home by police and put into protective custody.

The nightmare began on April 23 when parents Anna and Alex Nikolayev brought their baby Sammy to the Sutter Memorial Hospital. Trips to the doctor are a regular event for the family because Sammy has a heart murmur and needs to be checked frequently. On this visit, he was exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

Anna says she became concerned when she witnessed a nurse administering antibiotics, something another doctor had advised against. Then, a physician told them the baby needed open heart surgery as soon as possible. The couple put their son into his stroller and brought him directly to another hospital to obtain a second opinion, without receiving an official discharge. Doctors at Kaiser Parmanente Medical Center told them it was safe to return home with Sammy.


The next day, in an incident that was caught in a disturbing home video, police showed up at the Nikolayev's home and took him from the parents to place in protective custody. "I'm going to grab your baby and don't resist," says one officer. A statement from Sutter Memorial provided to ABC News reads: "Our nurses and physicians are bound by duty to call authorities if they believe a pediatric patient's health is in danger."

After almost a week of only being able to visit Sammy for an hour a day, the Nikolayev's have been reunited with their son. On Monday, a judge ruled that he be moved to Stamford Medical Center where his condition is being evaluated. Although they have regained control of his medical decision, they have to allow Child Protectice Services (CPS) to visit their home and also agree never to remove him from a hospital without official discharge. The parents will appear in court on May 28. Sacramento CPS said in a statement: "The law is clear. If there is imminent risk of serious physical harm to the child and there is insufficient time to obtain a court order to remove the child from the care of the parents... the social worker or law enforcement officer can remove the child."

intention

The effects of unchecked criminalization: Teen charged with felony for science experiment

By Sesali Bowen | Published: May 1, 2013

Share on TumblrSubmit to StumbleUponDigg ThisShare via email

Kiera Wilmont, the young woman of color unfairly criminalized, smiles and does NOT look menacing. When we talk about the criminalization of communities and people of color, especially African Americans and Latinos in America, we often talk about the criminal justice system in America that disproportionately targets those communities.Schools are often the major accomplices in making this system run with the school to prison pipeline. Nothing exemplifies this more than what is happening to 16 year old Kiera Wilmot in Florida. According to the Miami New Times,

 ”7 a.m. on Monday, the 16 year-old mixed some common household chemicals in a small 8 oz water bottle on the grounds of Bartow High School in Bartow, Florida. The reaction caused a small explosion that caused the top to pop up and produced some smoke. No one was hurt and no damage was caused.
…Wilmot told police that she was merely conducting a science experiment. Though her teachers knew nothing of the specific project, her principal seems to agree.
‘She made a bad choice. Honestly, I don’t think she meant to ever hurt anyone,’ principal Ron Pritchard told the station. ‘She wanted to see what would happen [when the chemicals mixed] and was shocked by what it did. Her mother is shocked, too.’

This sounds like a harmless instance of experimentation gone wrong. No harm, no foul right? Even the principle thinks it was simply a poor decision. A week of detention, maybe even suspension, was in order no doubt. So why did it go down like this?

“After the explosion Wilmot was taken into custody by a school resources officer and charged with possession/discharge of a weapon on school grounds and discharging a destructive device. She will be tried as an adult.
She was then taken to a juvenile assessment center. She was also expelled from school and will be forced to complete her diploma through an expulsion program.”

The school released the following statement:

“Anytime a student makes a bad choice it is disappointing to us. Unfortunately, the incident that occurred at Bartow High School yesterday was a serious breach of conduct. In order to maintain a safe and orderly learning environment, we simply must uphold our code of conduct rules. We urge our parents to join us in conveying the message that there are consequences to actions. We will not compromise the safety and security of our students and staff.”

I call bullshit. This is not about the “safety and security” of students and staff at Bartow High School. This was about setting an example, at the expense of Wilmot, and sending a message that even (mis)perceived threats will be dealt with swiftly and harshly. The unfortunate truth is that in America, those perceptions are heavily tied up in notions of race, class, and gender.
Those perceptions may have helped them come to the conclusion that Wilmot’s concoction was indeed a weapon. The code of conduct clearly states that “intention” is a factor in whether or not there has been a breach of that specific rule. But somehow the principal managed to defend the girls intentions but still expel and have her arrested.
Is the perceived threat to the safety of her classmates and teachers also the reason why Wilmot is being tried as an adult with a felony? A student with good grades and no behavioral problems to speak of should be followed with a felony because she was curious about a chemical reaction? She has been ushered into the criminal justice system with this decision. Access to employment, education, housing, etc. will all be limited to Wilmot with a felony on her record.
As a graduate of a Chicago Public School I am very familiar with teachers not being interested in nurturing the minds of students. Instead, they create a mindless generation that simply does what they’re told, no questions asked, all in the interest of maintaining an orderly “classroom”. Sending students to prisons is the solution for those who can’t be “controlled”. I have witnessed the policing that happens when school staff and administration fears its students, of color. Let me be clear, zero tolerance policies are not about keeping schools safe. They exist to keep school administrators from being held accountable for the environment they create in their institution and making contextual judgement calls.
I pray that all works out for Kiera Wilmot.

The effects of unchecked criminalization: Teen charged with felony for science experiment


Share on TumblrSubmit to StumbleUponDigg ThisShare via email
Kiera Wilmont, the young woman of color unfairly criminalized, smiles and does NOT look menacing. When we talk about the criminalization of communities and people of color, especially African Americans and Latinos in America, we often talk about the criminal justice system in America that disproportionately targets those communities.Schools are often the major accomplices in making this system run with the school to prison pipeline. Nothing exemplifies this more than what is happening to 16 year old Kiera Wilmot in Florida. According to the Miami New Times,
 ”7 a.m. on Monday, the 16 year-old mixed some common household chemicals in a small 8 oz water bottle on the grounds of Bartow High School in Bartow, Florida. The reaction caused a small explosion that caused the top to pop up and produced some smoke. No one was hurt and no damage was caused.
…Wilmot told police that she was merely conducting a science experiment. Though her teachers knew nothing of the specific project, her principal seems to agree.
‘She made a bad choice. Honestly, I don’t think she meant to ever hurt anyone,’ principal Ron Pritchard told the station. ‘She wanted to see what would happen [when the chemicals mixed] and was shocked by what it did. Her mother is shocked, too.’
This sounds like a harmless instance of experimentation gone wrong. No harm, no foul right? Even the principle thinks it was simply a poor decision. A week of detention, maybe even suspension, was in order no doubt. So why did it go down like this?

“After the explosion Wilmot was taken into custody by a school resources officer and charged with possession/discharge of a weapon on school grounds and discharging a destructive device. She will be tried as an adult.
She was then taken to a juvenile assessment center. She was also expelled from school and will be forced to complete her diploma through an expulsion program.”
The school released the following statement:
“Anytime a student makes a bad choice it is disappointing to us. Unfortunately, the incident that occurred at Bartow High School yesterday was a serious breach of conduct. In order to maintain a safe and orderly learning environment, we simply must uphold our code of conduct rules. We urge our parents to join us in conveying the message that there are consequences to actions. We will not compromise the safety and security of our students and staff.”
I call bullshit. This is not about the “safety and security” of students and staff at Bartow High School. This was about setting an example, at the expense of Wilmot, and sending a message that even (mis)perceived threats will be dealt with swiftly and harshly. The unfortunate truth is that in America, those perceptions are heavily tied up in notions of race, class, and gender.
Those perceptions may have helped them come to the conclusion that Wilmot’s concoction was indeed a weapon. The code of conduct clearly states that “intention” is a factor in whether or not there has been a breach of that specific rule. But somehow the principal managed to defend the girls intentions but still expel and have her arrested.
Is the perceived threat to the safety of her classmates and teachers also the reason why Wilmot is being tried as an adult with a felony? A student with good grades and no behavioral problems to speak of should be followed with a felony because she was curious about a chemical reaction? She has been ushered into the criminal justice system with this decision. Access to employment, education, housing, etc. will all be limited to Wilmot with a felony on her record.
As a graduate of a Chicago Public School I am very familiar with teachers not being interested in nurturing the minds of students. Instead, they create a mindless generation that simply does what they’re told, no questions asked, all in the interest of maintaining an orderly “classroom”. Sending students to prisons is the solution for those who can’t be “controlled”. I have witnessed the policing that happens when school staff and administration fears its students, of color. Let me be clear, zero tolerance policies are not about keeping schools safe. They exist to keep school administrators from being held accountable for the environment they create in their institution and making contextual judgement calls.
I pray that all works out for Kiera Wilmot.

Voter Fraud concerns

January 25, 2013

Last week, we warned you about the Republican Plan (see below) to rig the Electoral College to win the presidential election in 2016.
And now they’ve already started to move this plan forward in Virginia! This past Tuesday, Virginia SB 723 passed out of the Senate Elections and Campaigns Subcommittee, and got one step closer to becoming reality.
SB 723 would allocate electoral votes by congressional district, and reward two statewide electors to the candidate who wins the most districts statewide. Had this bill been enacted last year, Mitt Romney would have received 9 of Virginia’s 13 electors, despite losing the state’s popular vote!
It’s clear that the Republicans have decided that if they can’t win over the majority of voters, they’ll just change the rules to rig the results — and we have to let them know that they can’t away with such an overt power grab.
Thanks for all that you do,
Ben Betz, Online Strategy Manager

From: Ben Betz, People For the American Way
Date: Saturday, January 19, 2013
Re: GOP Moves to Rig the Next Election

every vote counts

Make SURE Every Vote Counts — Speak Out to Stop the Right’s New Scheme to Rig Elections!
sign the petition

Dear Arnulfo,
Imagine that when President Obama won Ohio in 2012, instead of getting all the state’s electoral votes, he only got six of them, while Mitt Romney, who lost, got 12 … that each candidate was awarded electoral votes based on how many congressional districts they won in the state. Now, imagine this didn’t happen just in Ohio, but also in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and other “blue states” that right now happen to have state governments completely controlled by Republicans.
This isn’t just some thought experiment. It’s the latest Republican scheme to rig America’s elections in their favor, and it could work … unless we can create a public backlash against it.
Actions like this petition will help create the necessary backlash that will send these proposals down in flames in states like Pennsylvania, where a bill has already been introduced, and others like Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan, where lawmakers are discussing it.
We’ll use the petition to lobby lawmakers in the states and make sure the media is giving attention to how unpopular this vote rigging scheme is.
If the scheme is enacted, the will of the people would mean nothing in those states. And, nationally, the playing field would be dramatically shifted towards Republican presidential candidates. That’s because one of the results of the Tea Party wave election of 2010 was that right-wing Republicans controlled the redistricting process in these states, and congressional districts there were gerrymandered within an inch of their lives, ensuring more “safe” Republican districts. It’s the same reason that Republicans maintained a healthy majority in the House of Representatives in 2012 despite losing the congressional popular vote nationally to Democrats by 1.4 million votes — more than a whole percentage point.
In states like Ohio, where Republicans have a super majority in the legislature, they have the power to move this affront to democracy through unilaterally, bulldozing any opposition!
The head of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, supports the scheme, and it’s gaining traction amongst GOP state lawmakers. We need to stop this NOW, before it gets too far!
Another similar idea being floated by Republicans in these states is electoral vote apportionment based on percentage of vote, instead of by congressional district. This could theoretically be a fair system, but only if EVERY state did it. With only blue, Democratic-leaning states splitting their electoral votes and definitively red, Republican states remaining winner-take-all, the national field would still shift dramatically to the Republicans favor — and AWAY from the will of the people. To put it bluntly: election rigged.
Thank you for helping to save our democracy by protecting the voice of the voter — the American Way.
— Ben Betz, Online Strategy Manager


By 

Published: October 26, 2012 

Until 2010, federal law barred companies from using corporate money to endorse and campaign for political candidates — and that included urging employees to support specific politicians.
But the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has freed companies from those restrictions, and now several major companies, including Georgia-Pacific and Cintas, have sent letters or information packets to their employees suggesting — and sometimes explicitly recommending — how they should vote this fall.
In these letters, the executives complain about the costs of overregulation, the health care overhaul and possible tax increases. Some letters warn that if President Obama is re-elected, the company could be harmed, potentially jeopardizing jobs.

David A. Siegel, 77, chief executive of Westgate Resorts, a major time-share company, wrote to his 7,000 employees, saying that if Mr. Obama won, the prospect of higher taxes could hurt the company’s future.
“The economy doesn’t currently pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job, however, is another four years of the same presidential administration,” Mr. Siegel wrote. “If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current president plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company.”
In an interview, Mr. Siegel said he was not ordering his employees to vote his way. “There’s no way I can pressure anybody,” he said. “I’m not in the voting booth with them.”
Mr. Siegel added: “I really wanted them to know how I felt four more years under President Obama was going to affect them. It would be no different from telling your children: ‘Eat your spinach. It’s good for you.’ ”
Dave Robertson, the president of Koch Industries, sent an information packet and letter this month to more than 30,000 employees of a subsidiary, Georgia-Pacific, a paper and pulp company. The letter attacked government subsidies for “a few favored cronies” as well as “unprecedented regulatory burdens on businesses.”
The letter added, “Many of our more than 50,000 U.S. employees and contractors may suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation and other ills.”
The Georgia-Pacific letter, first reported by In These Times, included a flier listing several candidates endorsed by the Koch brothers, the conservative billionaires, beginning with Mitt Romney, as well as opinion articles that the brothers had written.
Travis McKinney, a forklift driver for Georgia-Pacific in Portland, Ore., said the company’s political packet had spurred widespread discussion. “It leaves a bad taste,” Mr. McKinney said. “I won’t even wear my Obama pin to work because of the mailer.”
In a statement, Koch Industries said its mailing contained pieces of information “we believe are important for our employees to know about.” The company said the letter was in no way intimidation: “We make it clear that any decision about which candidates to support belongs solely to our employees.”
Other companies whose top executives have sent out anti-Obama letters include Rite-Hite, a manufacturer of industrial equipment based in Milwaukee, and ASG Software Solutions, based in Naples, Fla.
Many corporate executives say they have stepped up their political activities to counter organized labor’s efforts on behalf of Mr. Obama and other Democrats. Even before Citizens United, unions were allowed to promote candidates to their members. Democrats and Republicans alike acknowledged the effectiveness of labor’s political efforts.
Mr. Romney has himself urged business owners to appeal to their employees. In a conference call in June organized by the National Federation of Independent Business, he said, “I hope you make it very clear to your employees what you believe is in the best interest of your enterprise and therefore their job and their future in the upcoming elections.”


Tuesday’s election saw reports of widespread voting issues ranging from voter machine malfunctions to epic lines to poll-watcher challenges and confusion over voter identification laws that have been weakened or blocked. Florida voters waited up to seven hours to cast their ballots. According to Voting Rights Watch 2012, in Ohio, a number of residents in the predominantly black Cincinnati suburb of Forest Park were forced to cast provisional ballots because records incorrectly showed they had already submitted an absentee ballot. Pennsylvania emerged as a hotbed of election chaos after a viral video showed a voting machine switching an Obama vote in favor of Romney. Pennsylvania also saw widespread confusion over voter identification, with reports poll workers were demanding ID even though a court blocked the state’s voter ID law from taking effect before the election. Voting rights advocates say they suspected an unreported purge of voters in major urban areas of Pennsylvania after reports dozens of voters were told they weren’t registered. According to the Election Protection Coalition, which hosted a hotline for voting issues, there were reports from Virginia of long lines and machines switching votes in favor of Romney. One week after Superstorm Sandy, New Jersey saw its share of problems, with reports of technical malfunctions and poll workers wrongly demanding identification from voters.


Andrew Cohen

No matter who wins the presidential race, no matter which party controls Congress, can we at least agree as reasonable adults that when it comes to voting itself the election of 2012 is a national disgrace? We ask our sons and daughters, our husbands and wives, to give their lives abroad for noble concepts like «freedom» and «democracy.» And yet we are content as a nation, and as a people, to tolerate another cycle of election rules that require our fellow citizens to sacrifice a measure of basic human dignity simply to exercise their right to vote.

For example, what happened this weekend in Florida is simply unacceptable. According to a local election official interviewed by CBS News’ Phil Hirschkorn, the last «early voter» in line for Saturday’s truncated early voting in Palm Beach County finally got to cast a ballot at 2:30 a.m Sunday morning, which means that voter waited in line for more than seven hours. In Miami, another traditional Democratic stronghold, the wait was said to be nearly as long. On Sunday, voters all over the state were begging judges and county officials for more time to vote.

This is happening not because of a natural disaster or breakdown in machinery. It is happening by partisan design. Alarmed by the strong Democratic turnout in early voting in 2008, Republican lawmakers, including Governor Rick Scott, reduced the number of early voting days from 14 to eight. When the restrictions were challenged in federal court under the Voting Rights Act, a three-judge panel said they would have a discriminatory impact upon minority voters. But only five of the state’s 67 counties are covered by the federal civil rights law.

When the remaining restrictions were challenged in federal court, a George W. Bush appointee said there was no proof that the reduced hours would «impermissibly burden» minority voters. How many hours in line must a Florida voter wait before the burden upon her becomes an «impermissible» one? If Florida’s election officials, and its Republican lawmakers, and its state and federal judges, all were required to stand in line for seven hours to vote those long lines would go away forever. You know it, I know it, and so do those officials.

How about Ohio, another «battleground» state governed by partisan fiat. Its election rules are administered by a secretary of state, Jon Husted, who just a few years ago was the GOP speaker of the state house. Like their counterparts in Florida, Ohio’s Republican lawmakers sought to restrict wildly popular early-voting hours around the state. And again the federal courts blunted the impact of their new rules. So what has Husted done? He’s focused his energy this weekend ginning up ways to justify discarding provisional ballots cast by his fellow citizens.

These are just two recent examples. There are more. But they all have a few core things in common. In each instance, elected officials are making it harder for American citizens to vote and to have their votes counted. And in each instance, the partisan restrictions are designed to impact the elderly, and the poor, and students. The Constitution gives power to the states to handle elections. But what we are seeing is one party’s systemic abuse of that power to disenfranchise likely voters of another party. Don’t believe me? Let’s go to the videotape.

In Pennsylvania, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai was caught on tape this summer boasting about his colleagues’ success: «… First pro-life legislation — abortion facility regulations — in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.» In Ohio, the Republican Party chairman of Franklin County, which includes Columbus, was even more blunt. Doug Preisse said, «I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter turnout machine.»

There is no hidden agenda here. The strategy and tactics are as far out in the open as those voters standing in line for hours waiting for their turn to vote. This transparency — of motive and of evidence — is also what distinguishes the complaints that Democrats have about Republican tricks on voting from Republican complaints about Democratic tricks on voting. Widespread «in-person» voter fraud or voting by illegal immigrants exists mostly in the minds of conspiracy theorists. Yet proof of voter suppression is visible to all of us with the naked eye. All we have to do is look. There is no political equivalence here — only more lamentable false equivalence.

Indeed, we are all complicit in a regime which forces our fellow citizens to endure those long lines. We are all to blame for allowing men like Jon Husted to determine which Ohioans will have their ballots counted and which will not. We who have the luxury of voting early by mail or who can pop into a polling station on Election Day, who are accustomed to not standing long for anything — we do nothing about these voter lines even though they are the most visible proof today that America is still terribly divided by race and by class.

In America in 2012, poor people and elderly people and students should not have to wait seven hours to vote. They should not be restricted in this fashion by elected officials who justify the hardships they impart upon black voters by calling those voters «lazy.» By allowing this ugliness to endure, year after year, election after election, we don’t just subvert our own democracy. We preclude ourselves from turning to the world and proclaiming that we respect the value of a single vote and the dignity of a single voter. We don’t practice what we preach.

And we ought to be talking about things now, before Tuesday, because when it’s all over no one will care until the next election cycle, at which point it will likely be too late. Don’t want to switch Election Day to a Saturday? Fine. Don’t want to make it a national holiday? Fine. But doing nothing after the election of 2012 is not an honorable option. What’s happening in these states is conclusive proof that America failed to solve the fundamental problems we all saw play out in Florida during the recount of 2000. That’s just not good enough.

I asked election-law specialist Rick Hasen, who wrote the book about all of this, for his view on the eve of another dubious election. He told me: «We need national nonpartisan election administration — one that would pick rules that would allow all eligible voters, but only eligible voters, a fair chance to cast a ballot which will be accurately counted. It is national urgency but I don’t see it happening any time soon. If Florida 2000 was not enough of a wake-up call, it is hard to imagine how much worse things would have to get before they get better.»

But let us begin. Congress ought to pass a «Voters’ Rights Act,» which guarantees a mail-in option and ensures significant early-voting hours for 10 days before a federal election. That would give working people — you know, the real «middle class» — four full days over two weekends to cast their ballot. Congress also ought to expand the scope of the Voting Rights Act, the venerable civil-rights statute, to force local election officials everywhere in America (and not just in Southern jurisdictions) to justify restrictions on voting rights.

And the next president, whoever he is, ought to quickly empanel another Commission on Federal Election Reform to investigate these partisan state schemes and recommend ways to achieve meaningful reform. Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor should head that commission. And former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald should head up its investigative functions.

But I won’t hold my breath. If I’m around in 2016 I bet I’ll be complaining about the same injustices. In my lifetime, little has changed in America but the forms of indignity we all seem to tolerate when it comes to another man’s right to vote.


Dear Friend,
With razor thin margins predicted in Ohio, the state’s Republican Secretary of State took steps this weekend to modify vote counting procedures in a way that could invalidate thousands of provisional ballots.1
Previously, it was the responsibility of trained election workers to record identification information presented by voters who submit provisional ballots. But now Secretary of State Jon Husted has put that burden on voters to record this information (which can often be confusing to identify) on their provisional ballots — paving the way for a significant number of ballots to be thrown out due to recording errors even though the voter presented a valid ID that was accepted by the pollworker.
Husted, a Republican, has already been working to suppress the vote in his state. Many workers who have trouble getting to the polls during regular business hours on a Tuesday traditionally favor weekend early voting. Husted tried to end weekend early voting in Ohio by reducing the state’s five weekends of early voting to zero. In response, the courts ordered him to maintain access to one weekend of early voting — the weekend before the election — open to Ohio voters, though allowing him to cancel the previous four weekends of access. As a result, voters at many early vote locations had to wait outside in the cold, in lines stretching outside the buildings and around city blocks.
And now, as the election in Ohio is reportedly a dead heat, and it’s clear the state’s 18 electoral votes could very well decide the presidency, Husted is taking additional steps to suppress the votes of Ohio citizens.
Republicans have a long tradition of partisan Secretaries of State like Ohio’s Ken Blackwell and Florida’s Katherine Harris who cared more about delivering their state’s elections to Republicans than ensuring their state’s citizens could cast a ballot that counts.
We cannot let Jon Husted join their ranks and use his position as the chief of elections in Ohio to swing his state’s electoral votes to Mitt Romney.
Tell Ohio’s Secretary of State: Stop the shenanigans and count every vote. Click the link below to automatically sign the petition:

http://act.credoaction.com/r/?r=6988907&p=ohio_voting&id=50024-5154581-nHPzsZx&t=9

Thank you for standing up to help stop Republicans from stealing this election.
Becky Bond, Political Director 
CREDO Action from Working Assets


Patrick Moran doesn’t have the street smarts to say «Ah, good luck with that», «I gotta go».
Patrick is just an idiot, unable to blow somebody off.

By Joseph Tanfani
October 24, 2012, 7:40 p.m.

WASHINGTON – The son of a Virginia congressman resigned from his father’s campaign Wednesday after an undercover video captured him discussing possible voter fraud.

Patrick Moran, whose father is Democratic Rep. James P. Moran, was secretly recorded in a video posted by conservative activist James O’Keefe.

In the video, Moran, who was working as his father’s campaign field director, talks about using utility bills and other documents to evade Virginia’s new voter ID laws. The person who made the recording – saying he was a worried supporter of President Obama – asked for Moran’s advice in casting votes for 100 Virginia residents who weren’t going to the polls.

“He’ll need bills,” Moran said, standing outside an Arlington, Va., sandwich shop, referring to the requirement to present identification. “He’ll need something with their name and address on it.”

But at another point, Moran suggests that “all the energy you’re putting into this” would be better spent on a legitimate get-out-the-vote effort.

The campaign said it had accepted the younger Moran’s resignation effective immediately. “Patrick is well liked and was a well-respected member of the campaign team,” Moran’s campaign said in a statement. “This incident, however, was clearly an error in judgment.”

In an email to Politico, Patrick Moran said he was humoring the person, whom he considered “unstable and joking.”

The resignation came just a day after Moran and two other Virginia congressmen sent a letter to Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. asking for an investigation of a possible “broad conspiracy” in a voter registration operation financed by the Republican National Committee.

The operation, which cost at least $3.5 million in eight swing states, has been linked to suspicious voter forms in Florida, and a supervisor in Virginia was arrested last week for allegedly dumping eight completed registrations.

joseph.tanfani@latimes.com


By BOB LEWIS
Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va.
Virginia’s Republican attorney general is expanding a criminal probe of alleged efforts to destroy voter registration applications statewide.

Ken Cuccinelli’s office entered the politically charged investigation in the battleground state Wednesday when the Republican-dominated State Board of Elections voted unanimously to authorize the inquiry.

A Pennsylvania man working for a company Republicans hired to conduct voter registration drives faces criminal charges in Rockingham County on allegations that he threw eight completed voter registration forms into the trash. Colin Small of Phoenixville, Pa., faces 13 counts of disclosure of voter registration information, destruction of voter applications, and obstruction of justice.

Neither of the two Republicans on the state elections board hesitated in voting to expand the inquiry after the lone Democratic board member, Kimberly Bowers, questioned whether the incident was an isolated one or part of a broader pattern of voter disenfranchisement.

Polls show President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney in a close battle for Virginia’s 13 electoral votes and a close potentially decisive U.S. Senate at stake.

Virginia’s three Democratic U.S. House members had earlier asked President Barack Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, to launch a federal inquiry into Pinpoint, Small’s employer, and another company, Strategic Allied Consulting. The Justice Department is reviewing the request to Holder from Reps. Jim Moran, Bobby Scott and Gerry Connolly.

In late September, the Republican National Committee fired the other company, Strategic Allied Consulting, after suspect forms it collected in Florida were turned over to local prosecutors.


THE VOTER-FRAUD MYTH

The man who has stoked fear about impostors at the polls.

BY JANE MAYER

Teresa Sharp is fifty-three years old and has lived in a modest single-family house on Millsdale Street, in a suburb of Cincinnati, for nearly thirty-three years. A lifelong Democrat, she has voted in every Presidential election since she turned eighteen. So she was agitated when an official summons from the Hamilton County Board of Elections arrived in the mail last month. Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati, is one of the most populous regions of the most fiercely contested state in the 2012 election. No Republican candidate has ever won the Presidency without carrying Ohio, and recent polls show Barack Obama and Mitt Romney almost even in the state. Every vote may matter, including those cast by the seven members of the Sharp family—Teresa, her husband, four grown children, and an elderly aunt—living in the Millsdale Street house.
The letter, which cited arcane legal statutes and was printed on government letterhead, was dated September 4th. “You are hereby notified that your right to vote has been challenged by a qualified elector,” it said. “The Hamilton County Board of Elections has scheduled a hearing regarding your right to vote on Monday, September 10th, 2012, at 8:30 a.m. . . . You have the right to appear and testify, call witnesses and be represented by counsel.”

“My first thought was, Oh, no!” Sharp, who is African-American, said. “They ain’t messing with us poor black folks! Who is challenging my right to vote?”

The answer to Sharp’s question is that a new watchdog group, the Ohio Voter Integrity Project, which polices voter-registration rolls in search of “electoral irregularities,” raised questions about her eligibility after consulting a government-compiled list of local properties and mistakenly identifying her house as a vacant lot.

The Sharp household had first been identified as suspicious by computer software that had been provided to the Ohio Voter Integrity Project by a national organization called True the Vote. The software, which has been distributed to similar groups around the country, is used to flag certain households, including those with six or more registered voters. This approach inevitably pinpoints many lower-income residents, students, and extended families.

True the Vote, which was founded in 2009 and is based in Houston, describes itself as a nonprofit organization, created “by citizens for citizens,” that aims to protect “the rights of legitimate voters, regardless of their political party.” Although the group has a spontaneous grassroots aura, it was founded by a local Tea Party activist, Catherine Engelbrecht, and from the start it has received guidance from intensely partisan election lawyers and political operatives, who have spent years stoking fear about election fraud. This cohort—which Roll Call has called the “voter fraud brain trust”—has filed lawsuits, released studies, testified before Congress, and written op-ed columns and books. Since 2011, the effort has spurred legislative initiatives in thirty-seven states to require photo identification to vote.

Engelbrecht has received especially valuable counsel from one member of the group: Hans von Spakovsky. A Republican lawyer who served in the Bush Administration, he is now a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank. “Hans is very, very helpful,” Engelbrecht said. “He’s one of the senior advisers on our advisory council.” Von Spakovsky, who frequently appears on Fox News, is the co-author, with the columnist John Fund, of the recent book “Who’s Counting?,” which argues that America is facing an electoral-security crisis. “Election fraud, whether it’s phony voter registrations, illegal absentee ballots, vote-buying, shady recounts, or old-fashioned ballot-box stuffing, can be found in every part of the United States,” they write. The book connects these modern threats with sordid episodes from the American past: crooked inner-city machines, corrupt black bosses in the Deep South. Von Spakovsky and Fund conclude that electoral fraud is a “spreading” danger, and declare that True the Vote serves “an obvious need.”

Mainstream election experts say that Spakovsky has had an improbably large impact. Richard L. Hasen, a law professor at the University of California at Irvine, and the author of a recent book, “The Voting Wars,” says, “Before 2000, there were some rumblings about Democratic voter fraud, but it really wasn’t part of the main discourse. But thanks to von Spakovsky and the flame-fanning of a few others, the myth that Democratic voter fraud is common, and that it helps Democrats win elections, has become part of the Republican orthodoxy.” In December, Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, wrote, “Election fraud is a real and persistent threat to our electoral system.” He accused Democrats of “standing up for potential fraud—presumably because ending it would disenfranchise at least two of its core constituencies: the deceased and double-voters.” Hasen believes that Democrats, for their part, have made exaggerated claims about the number of voters who may be disenfranchised by Republican election-security measures. But he regards the conservative alarmists as more successful. “Their job is really done,” Hasen says. “It’s common now to assert that there is a need for voter I.D.s, even without any evidence.”
In Hamilton County alone, the new citizens’ groups have challenged more than a thousand names since March. Some challenges, such as those aiming to disqualify college students who failed to include their dorm-room numbers on their registration forms, were tossed out immediately. But the board accepted nearly two hundred challenges, including those to twenty-six voters registered at a trailer park that no longer existed.

In Ohio, if voters whose eligibility has been challenged come to the polls in November, they may be forced to use a provisional ballot, which will be counted only if officials sanction it—after Election Day. Some experts worry that voters who have been needlessly challenged will feel too intimidated even to show up. “People have other things to do with their lives than respond to inaccurate complaints accusing them of being criminals,” Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said.

January 25, 2013

Last week, we warned you about the Republican Plan (see below) to rig the Electoral College to win the presidential election in 2016.
And now they've already started to move this plan forward in Virginia! This past Tuesday, Virginia SB 723 passed out of the Senate Elections and Campaigns Subcommittee, and got one step closer to becoming reality.
SB 723 would allocate electoral votes by congressional district, and reward two statewide electors to the candidate who wins the most districts statewide. Had this bill been enacted last year, Mitt Romney would have received 9 of Virginia’s 13 electors, despite losing the state’s popular vote!
It's clear that the Republicans have decided that if they can't win over the majority of voters, they’ll just change the rules to rig the results -- and we have to let them know that they can’t away with such an overt power grab.
Thanks for all that you do,
Ben Betz, Online Strategy Manager

From: Ben Betz, People For the American Way
Date: Saturday, January 19, 2013
Re: GOP Moves to Rig the Next Election

every vote counts
Make SURE Every Vote Counts -- Speak Out to Stop the Right's New Scheme to Rig Elections!
sign the petition

Dear Arnulfo,
Imagine that when President Obama won Ohio in 2012, instead of getting all the state’s electoral votes, he only got six of them, while Mitt Romney, who lost, got 12 … that each candidate was awarded electoral votes based on how many congressional districts they won in the state. Now, imagine this didn’t happen just in Ohio, but also in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and other “blue states” that right now happen to have state governments completely controlled by Republicans.
This isn’t just some thought experiment. It’s the latest Republican scheme to rig America’s elections in their favor, and it could work … unless we can create a public backlash against it.
Actions like this petition will help create the necessary backlash that will send these proposals down in flames in states like Pennsylvania, where a bill has already been introduced, and others like Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan, where lawmakers are discussing it.
We’ll use the petition to lobby lawmakers in the states and make sure the media is giving attention to how unpopular this vote rigging scheme is.
If the scheme is enacted, the will of the people would mean nothing in those states. And, nationally, the playing field would be dramatically shifted towards Republican presidential candidates. That’s because one of the results of the Tea Party wave election of 2010 was that right-wing Republicans controlled the redistricting process in these states, and congressional districts there were gerrymandered within an inch of their lives, ensuring more “safe” Republican districts. It’s the same reason that Republicans maintained a healthy majority in the House of Representatives in 2012 despite losing the congressional popular vote nationally to Democrats by 1.4 million votes -- more than a whole percentage point.
In states like Ohio, where Republicans have a super majority in the legislature, they have the power to move this affront to democracy through unilaterally, bulldozing any opposition!
The head of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, supports the scheme, and it’s gaining traction amongst GOP state lawmakers. We need to stop this NOW, before it gets too far!
Another similar idea being floated by Republicans in these states is electoral vote apportionment based on percentage of vote, instead of by congressional district. This could theoretically be a fair system, but only if EVERY state did it. With only blue, Democratic-leaning states splitting their electoral votes and definitively red, Republican states remaining winner-take-all, the national field would still shift dramatically to the Republicans favor -- and AWAY from the will of the people. To put it bluntly: election rigged.
Thank you for helping to save our democracy by protecting the voice of the voter -- the American Way.
-- Ben Betz, Online Strategy Manager







Until 2010, federal law barred companies from using corporate money to endorse and campaign for political candidates — and that included urging employees to support specific politicians.
But the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has freed companies from those restrictions, and now several major companies, including Georgia-Pacific and Cintas, have sent letters or information packets to their employees suggesting — and sometimes explicitly recommending — how they should vote this fall.
In these letters, the executives complain about the costs of overregulation, the health care overhaul and possible tax increases. Some letters warn that if President Obama is re-elected, the company could be harmed, potentially jeopardizing jobs.

David A. Siegel, 77, chief executive of Westgate Resorts, a major time-share company, wrote to his 7,000 employees, saying that if Mr. Obama won, the prospect of higher taxes could hurt the company’s future.
“The economy doesn’t currently pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job, however, is another four years of the same presidential administration,” Mr. Siegel wrote. “If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current president plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company.”
In an interview, Mr. Siegel said he was not ordering his employees to vote his way. “There’s no way I can pressure anybody,” he said. “I’m not in the voting booth with them.”
Mr. Siegel added: “I really wanted them to know how I felt four more years under President Obama was going to affect them. It would be no different from telling your children: ‘Eat your spinach. It’s good for you.’ ”
Dave Robertson, the president of Koch Industries, sent an information packet and letter this month to more than 30,000 employees of a subsidiary, Georgia-Pacific, a paper and pulp company. The letter attacked government subsidies for “a few favored cronies” as well as “unprecedented regulatory burdens on businesses.”
The letter added, “Many of our more than 50,000 U.S. employees and contractors may suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation and other ills.”
The Georgia-Pacific letter, first reported by In These Times, included a flier listing several candidates endorsed by the Koch brothers, the conservative billionaires, beginning with Mitt Romney, as well as opinion articles that the brothers had written.
Travis McKinney, a forklift driver for Georgia-Pacific in Portland, Ore., said the company’s political packet had spurred widespread discussion. “It leaves a bad taste,” Mr. McKinney said. “I won’t even wear my Obama pin to work because of the mailer.”
In a statement, Koch Industries said its mailing contained pieces of information “we believe are important for our employees to know about.” The company said the letter was in no way intimidation: “We make it clear that any decision about which candidates to support belongs solely to our employees.”
Other companies whose top executives have sent out anti-Obama letters include Rite-Hite, a manufacturer of industrial equipment based in Milwaukee, and ASG Software Solutions, based in Naples, Fla.
Many corporate executives say they have stepped up their political activities to counter organized labor’s efforts on behalf of Mr. Obama and other Democrats. Even before Citizens United, unions were allowed to promote candidates to their members. Democrats and Republicans alike acknowledged the effectiveness of labor’s political efforts.
Mr. Romney has himself urged business owners to appeal to their employees. In a conference call in June organized by the National Federation of Independent Business, he said, “I hope you make it very clear to your employees what you believe is in the best interest of your enterprise and therefore their job and their future in the upcoming elections.”



Tuesday’s election saw reports of widespread voting issues ranging from voter machine malfunctions to epic lines to poll-watcher challenges and confusion over voter identification laws that have been weakened or blocked. Florida voters waited up to seven hours to cast their ballots. According to Voting Rights Watch 2012, in Ohio, a number of residents in the predominantly black Cincinnati suburb of Forest Park were forced to cast provisional ballots because records incorrectly showed they had already submitted an absentee ballot. Pennsylvania emerged as a hotbed of election chaos after a viral video showed a voting machine switching an Obama vote in favor of Romney. Pennsylvania also saw widespread confusion over voter identification, with reports poll workers were demanding ID even though a court blocked the state’s voter ID law from taking effect before the election. Voting rights advocates say they suspected an unreported purge of voters in major urban areas of Pennsylvania after reports dozens of voters were told they weren’t registered. According to the Election Protection Coalition, which hosted a hotline for voting issues, there were reports from Virginia of long lines and machines switching votes in favor of Romney. One week after Superstorm Sandy, New Jersey saw its share of problems, with reports of technical malfunctions and poll workers wrongly demanding identification from voters.



Andrew Cohen -

No matter who wins the presidential race, no matter which party controls Congress, can we at least agree as reasonable adults that when it comes to voting itself the election of 2012 is a national disgrace? We ask our sons and daughters, our husbands and wives, to give their lives abroad for noble concepts like "freedom" and "democracy." And yet we are content as a nation, and as a people, to tolerate another cycle of election rules that require our fellow citizens to sacrifice a measure of basic human dignity simply to exercise their right to vote.

For example, what happened this weekend in Florida is simply unacceptable. According to a local election official interviewed by CBS News' Phil Hirschkorn, the last "early voter" in line for Saturday's truncated early voting in Palm Beach County finally got to cast a ballot at 2:30 a.m Sunday morning, which means that voter waited in line for more than seven hours. In Miami, another traditional Democratic stronghold, the wait was said to be nearly as long. On Sunday, voters all over the state were begging judges and county officials for more time to vote.

This is happening not because of a natural disaster or breakdown in machinery. It is happening by partisan design. Alarmed by the strong Democratic turnout in early voting in 2008, Republican lawmakers, including Governor Rick Scott, reduced the number of early voting days from 14 to eight. When the restrictions were challenged in federal court under the Voting Rights Act, a three-judge panel said they would have a discriminatory impact upon minority voters. But only five of the state's 67 counties are covered by the federal civil rights law.

When the remaining restrictions were challenged in federal court, a George W. Bush appointee said there was no proof that the reduced hours would "impermissibly burden" minority voters. How many hours in line must a Florida voter wait before the burden upon her becomes an "impermissible" one? If Florida's election officials, and its Republican lawmakers, and its state and federal judges, all were required to stand in line for seven hours to vote those long lines would go away forever. You know it, I know it, and so do those officials.

How about Ohio, another "battleground" state governed by partisan fiat. Its election rules are administered by a secretary of state, Jon Husted, who just a few years ago was the GOP speaker of the state house. Like their counterparts in Florida, Ohio's Republican lawmakers sought to restrict wildly popular early-voting hours around the state. And again the federal courts blunted the impact of their new rules. So what has Husted done? He's focused his energy this weekend ginning up ways to justify discarding provisional ballots cast by his fellow citizens.

These are just two recent examples. There are more. But they all have a few core things in common. In each instance, elected officials are making it harder for American citizens to vote and to have their votes counted. And in each instance, the partisan restrictions are designed to impact the elderly, and the poor, and students. The Constitution gives power to the states to handle elections. But what we are seeing is one party's systemic abuse of that power to disenfranchise likely voters of another party. Don't believe me? Let's go to the videotape.

In Pennsylvania, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai was caught on tape this summer boasting about his colleagues' success: "... First pro-life legislation -- abortion facility regulations -- in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done." In Ohio, the Republican Party chairman of Franklin County, which includes Columbus, was even more blunt. Doug Preisse said, "I guess I really actually feel we shouldn't contort the voting process to accommodate the urban -- read African-American -- voter turnout machine."

There is no hidden agenda here. The strategy and tactics are as far out in the open as those voters standing in line for hours waiting for their turn to vote. This transparency -- of motive and of evidence -- is also what distinguishes the complaints that Democrats have about Republican tricks on voting from Republican complaints about Democratic tricks on voting. Widespread "in-person" voter fraud or voting by illegal immigrants exists mostly in the minds of conspiracy theorists. Yet proof of voter suppression is visible to all of us with the naked eye. All we have to do is look. There is no political equivalence here -- only more lamentable false equivalence.

Indeed, we are all complicit in a regime which forces our fellow citizens to endure those long lines. We are all to blame for allowing men like Jon Husted to determine which Ohioans will have their ballots counted and which will not. We who have the luxury of voting early by mail or who can pop into a polling station on Election Day, who are accustomed to not standing long for anything -- we do nothing about these voter lines even though they are the most visible proof today that America is still terribly divided by race and by class.

In America in 2012, poor people and elderly people and students should not have to wait seven hours to vote. They should not be restricted in this fashion by elected officials who justify the hardships they impart upon black voters by calling those voters "lazy." By allowing this ugliness to endure, year after year, election after election, we don't just subvert our own democracy. We preclude ourselves from turning to the world and proclaiming that we respect the value of a single vote and the dignity of a single voter. We don't practice what we preach.

And we ought to be talking about things now, before Tuesday, because when it's all over no one will care until the next election cycle, at which point it will likely be too late. Don't want to switch Election Day to a Saturday? Fine. Don't want to make it a national holiday? Fine. But doing nothing after the election of 2012 is not an honorable option. What's happening in these states is conclusive proof that America failed to solve the fundamental problems we all saw play out in Florida during the recount of 2000. That's just not good enough.

I asked election-law specialist Rick Hasen, who wrote the book about all of this, for his view on the eve of another dubious election. He told me: "We need national nonpartisan election administration -- one that would pick rules that would allow all eligible voters, but only eligible voters, a fair chance to cast a ballot which will be accurately counted. It is national urgency but I don't see it happening any time soon. If Florida 2000 was not enough of a wake-up call, it is hard to imagine how much worse things would have to get before they get better."

But let us begin. Congress ought to pass a "Voters' Rights Act," which guarantees a mail-in option and ensures significant early-voting hours for 10 days before a federal election. That would give working people -- you know, the real "middle class" -- four full days over two weekends to cast their ballot. Congress also ought to expand the scope of the Voting Rights Act, the venerable civil-rights statute, to force local election officials everywhere in America (and not just in Southern jurisdictions) to justify restrictions on voting rights.

And the next president, whoever he is, ought to quickly empanel another Commission on Federal Election Reform to investigate these partisan state schemes and recommend ways to achieve meaningful reform. Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor should head that commission. And former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald should head up its investigative functions.

But I won't hold my breath. If I'm around in 2016 I bet I'll be complaining about the same injustices. In my lifetime, little has changed in America but the forms of indignity we all seem to tolerate when it comes to another man's right to vote.




Dear Friend,
With razor thin margins predicted in Ohio, the state's Republican Secretary of State took steps this weekend to modify vote counting procedures in a way that could invalidate thousands of provisional ballots.1
Previously, it was the responsibility of trained election workers to record identification information presented by voters who submit provisional ballots. But now Secretary of State Jon Husted has put that burden on voters to record this information (which can often be confusing to identify) on their provisional ballots — paving the way for a significant number of ballots to be thrown out due to recording errors even though the voter presented a valid ID that was accepted by the pollworker.
Husted, a Republican, has already been working to suppress the vote in his state. Many workers who have trouble getting to the polls during regular business hours on a Tuesday traditionally favor weekend early voting. Husted tried to end weekend early voting in Ohio by reducing the state's five weekends of early voting to zero. In response, the courts ordered him to maintain access to one weekend of early voting — the weekend before the election — open to Ohio voters, though allowing him to cancel the previous four weekends of access. As a result, voters at many early vote locations had to wait outside in the cold, in lines stretching outside the buildings and around city blocks.
And now, as the election in Ohio is reportedly a dead heat, and it's clear the state's 18 electoral votes could very well decide the presidency, Husted is taking additional steps to suppress the votes of Ohio citizens.
Republicans have a long tradition of partisan Secretaries of State like Ohio's Ken Blackwell and Florida's Katherine Harris who cared more about delivering their state's elections to Republicans than ensuring their state's citizens could cast a ballot that counts.
We cannot let Jon Husted join their ranks and use his position as the chief of elections in Ohio to swing his state's electoral votes to Mitt Romney.
Tell Ohio's Secretary of State: Stop the shenanigans and count every vote. Click the link below to automatically sign the petition:

http://act.credoaction.com/r/?r=6988907&p=ohio_voting&id=50024-5154581-nHPzsZx&t=9
Thank you for standing up to help stop Republicans from stealing this election.
Becky Bond, Political Director 
CREDO Action from Working Assets

1. Andrew Cohen, "Ohio's Provisional Ballot Order: The Biggest Legal Story of the Weekend," The Atlantic, November 4, 2012.





Patrick Moran doesn't have the street smarts to say "Ah, good? luck with that", "I gotta go".
Patrick is just an idiot, unable to blow somebody off.

By Joseph Tanfani
October 24, 2012, 7:40 p.m.

WASHINGTON – The son of a Virginia congressman resigned from his father’s campaign Wednesday after an undercover video captured him discussing possible voter fraud.

Patrick Moran, whose father is Democratic Rep. James P. Moran, was secretly recorded in a video posted by conservative activist James O’Keefe.

In the video, Moran, who was working as his father’s campaign field director, talks about using utility bills and other documents to evade Virginia’s new voter ID laws. The person who made the recording – saying he was a worried supporter of President Obama – asked for Moran’s advice in casting votes for 100 Virginia residents who weren’t going to the polls.

“He'll need bills,” Moran said, standing outside an Arlington, Va., sandwich shop, referring to the requirement to present identification. “He'll need something with their name and address on it.”

But at another point, Moran suggests that “all the energy you're putting into this” would be better spent on a legitimate get-out-the-vote effort.

The campaign said it had accepted the younger Moran’s resignation effective immediately. “Patrick is well liked and was a well-respected member of the campaign team,” Moran’s campaign said in a statement. “This incident, however, was clearly an error in judgment.”

In an email to Politico, Patrick Moran said he was humoring the person, whom he considered “unstable and joking.”

The resignation came just a day after Moran and two other Virginia congressmen sent a letter to Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. asking for an investigation of a possible “broad conspiracy” in a voter registration operation financed by the Republican National Committee.

The operation, which cost at least $3.5 million in eight swing states, has been linked to suspicious voter forms in Florida, and a supervisor in Virginia was arrested last week for allegedly dumping eight completed registrations.

joseph.tanfani@latimes.com






By BOB LEWIS
Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va.
Virginia's Republican attorney general is expanding a criminal probe of alleged efforts to destroy voter registration applications statewide.

Ken Cuccinelli's office entered the politically charged investigation in the battleground state Wednesday when the Republican-dominated State Board of Elections voted unanimously to authorize the inquiry.

A Pennsylvania man working for a company Republicans hired to conduct voter registration drives faces criminal charges in Rockingham County on allegations that he threw eight completed voter registration forms into the trash. Colin Small of Phoenixville, Pa., faces 13 counts of disclosure of voter registration information, destruction of voter applications, and obstruction of justice.

Neither of the two Republicans on the state elections board hesitated in voting to expand the inquiry after the lone Democratic board member, Kimberly Bowers, questioned whether the incident was an isolated one or part of a broader pattern of voter disenfranchisement.

Polls show President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney in a close battle for Virginia's 13 electoral votes and a close potentially decisive U.S. Senate at stake.

Virginia's three Democratic U.S. House members had earlier asked President Barack Obama's attorney general, Eric Holder, to launch a federal inquiry into Pinpoint, Small's employer, and another company, Strategic Allied Consulting. The Justice Department is reviewing the request to Holder from Reps. Jim Moran, Bobby Scott and Gerry Connolly.

In late September, the Republican National Committee fired the other company, Strategic Allied Consulting, after suspect forms it collected in Florida were turned over to local prosecutors.



THE VOTER-FRAUD MYTH

The man who has stoked fear about impostors at the polls.

BY JANE MAYER


Teresa Sharp is fifty-three years old and has lived in a modest single-family house on Millsdale Street, in a suburb of Cincinnati, for nearly thirty-three years. A lifelong Democrat, she has voted in every Presidential election since she turned eighteen. So she was agitated when an official summons from the Hamilton County Board of Elections arrived in the mail last month. Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati, is one of the most populous regions of the most fiercely contested state in the 2012 election. No Republican candidate has ever won the Presidency without carrying Ohio, and recent polls show Barack Obama and Mitt Romney almost even in the state. Every vote may matter, including those cast by the seven members of the Sharp family—Teresa, her husband, four grown children, and an elderly aunt—living in the Millsdale Street house.
The letter, which cited arcane legal statutes and was printed on government letterhead, was dated September 4th. “You are hereby notified that your right to vote has been challenged by a qualified elector,” it said. “The Hamilton County Board of Elections has scheduled a hearing regarding your right to vote on Monday, September 10th, 2012, at 8:30 a.m. . . . You have the right to appear and testify, call witnesses and be represented by counsel.”
“My first thought was, Oh, no!” Sharp, who is African-American, said. “They ain’t messing with us poor black folks! Who is challenging my right to vote?”
The answer to Sharp’s question is that a new watchdog group, the Ohio Voter Integrity Project, which polices voter-registration rolls in search of “electoral irregularities,” raised questions about her eligibility after consulting a government-compiled list of local properties and mistakenly identifying her house as a vacant lot.

The Sharp household had first been identified as suspicious by computer software that had been provided to the Ohio Voter Integrity Project by a national organization called True the Vote. The software, which has been distributed to similar groups around the country, is used to flag certain households, including those with six or more registered voters. This approach inevitably pinpoints many lower-income residents, students, and extended families.

True the Vote, which was founded in 2009 and is based in Houston, describes itself as a nonprofit organization, created “by citizens for citizens,” that aims to protect “the rights of legitimate voters, regardless of their political party.” Although the group has a spontaneous grassroots aura, it was founded by a local Tea Party activist, Catherine Engelbrecht, and from the start it has received guidance from intensely partisan election lawyers and political operatives, who have spent years stoking fear about election fraud. This cohort—which Roll Call has called the “voter fraud brain trust”—has filed lawsuits, released studies, testified before Congress, and written op-ed columns and books. Since 2011, the effort has spurred legislative initiatives in thirty-seven states to require photo identification to vote.

Engelbrecht has received especially valuable counsel from one member of the group: Hans von Spakovsky. A Republican lawyer who served in the Bush Administration, he is now a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank. “Hans is very, very helpful,” Engelbrecht said. “He’s one of the senior advisers on our advisory council.” Von Spakovsky, who frequently appears on Fox News, is the co-author, with the columnist John Fund, of the recent book “Who’s Counting?,” which argues that America is facing an electoral-security crisis. “Election fraud, whether it’s phony voter registrations, illegal absentee ballots, vote-buying, shady recounts, or old-fashioned ballot-box stuffing, can be found in every part of the United States,” they write. The book connects these modern threats with sordid episodes from the American past: crooked inner-city machines, corrupt black bosses in the Deep South. Von Spakovsky and Fund conclude that electoral fraud is a “spreading” danger, and declare that True the Vote serves “an obvious need.”

Mainstream election experts say that Spakovsky has had an improbably large impact. Richard L. Hasen, a law professor at the University of California at Irvine, and the author of a recent book, “The Voting Wars,” says, “Before 2000, there were some rumblings about Democratic voter fraud, but it really wasn’t part of the main discourse. But thanks to von Spakovsky and the flame-fanning of a few others, the myth that Democratic voter fraud is common, and that it helps Democrats win elections, has become part of the Republican orthodoxy.” In December, Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, wrote, “Election fraud is a real and persistent threat to our electoral system.” He accused Democrats of “standing up for potential fraud—presumably because ending it would disenfranchise at least two of its core constituencies: the deceased and double-voters.” Hasen believes that Democrats, for their part, have made exaggerated claims about the number of voters who may be disenfranchised by Republican election-security measures. But he regards the conservative alarmists as more successful. “Their job is really done,” Hasen says. “It’s common now to assert that there is a need for voter I.D.s, even without any evidence.”
In Hamilton County alone, the new citizens’ groups have challenged more than a thousand names since March. Some challenges, such as those aiming to disqualify college students who failed to include their dorm-room numbers on their registration forms, were tossed out immediately. But the board accepted nearly two hundred challenges, including those to twenty-six voters registered at a trailer park that no longer existed.

In Ohio, if voters whose eligibility has been challenged come to the polls in November, they may be forced to use a provisional ballot, which will be counted only if officials sanction it—after Election Day. Some experts worry that voters who have been needlessly challenged will feel too intimidated even to show up. “People have other things to do with their lives than respond to inaccurate complaints accusing them of being criminals,” Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said.

End the 9/11 Wars and Restore Lost Liberties

Former Vice President Dick Cheney told a group of Republican donors Thursday that Mitt Romney is the «only man» qualified to lead the country through a potential crisis like the 9/11 attacks.Speaking at the first of two fundraisers he hosted for Romney…

Former Vice President Dick Cheney told a group of Republican donors Thursday that Mitt Romney is the "only man" qualified to lead the country through a potential crisis like the 9/11 attacks.

Speaking at the first of two fundraisers he hosted for Romney near Jackson, Wyo., Cheney praised Romney as the only candidate in the race who can handle "the kind of challenges a president has to deal with."

"There is always, sooner or later, a crisis, totally unanticipated. You can't plan on it, you don't know what it's going to be, but if you go through the campaigns and study the history books and talk to all the experts, sooner or later there's going to be a big surprise, usually an unpleasant one," Cheney said, citing the memory of the 9/11 attacks. "When I think about the kind of individual I want in the Oval Office in that moment of crisis, who has to make those key decisions, some of them life and death decisions, decisions as the commander in chief, who has the responsibility for sending our young men and women in harm's way. That man's Mitt Romney."

Romney, who took the stage after Cheney, praised the former vice president as a "great American leader" who dedicated his life to public service.

"He went back to Washington and served year after year after year—and not always in ways that achieved a lot of visibility. And at times when he achieved visibility, [it was] sometimes not the visibility he wanted, but in each case, put his country foremost in his life," Romney said, according to a pool report. "And to do that and to bring up a family in that ... is something which I respect and admire."

Romney made no mention of Cheney's ex-boss, former President George W. Bush—from whom Romney has distanced himself during the campaign. Romney and Cheney addressed donors who paid between $1,000 and $10,000 to hear the men speak at a local country club. Individuals who contributed $30,000 were invited to a private dinner at Cheney's Wyoming home. The two events were expected to bring in at least $4 million for the Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee.





This opening segment of the interview with Senator Mike Gravel includes an excerpt from his speech at the forum, "Creating a New path to Peace and Prosperity: Empowering Citizens to End the 9/11 Wars and Restore Lost Liberties on May 19, 2011 in Oakland, California. You can get the entire video of the forum produced by Ken Jenkins with Dr. Bob Bowman, Richard Gage, AIA and Kathy McGrade from a donation of $30 or more to the Citizens 9/11 Commission Campaign at www.9-11cc.org

Senator Mike Gravel and George Ripley joined Jonathan Mark at GCTV on their tour throughout Massachusetts in support of a ballot question that would empower citizens to conduct a real investigation regarding the events of September 11, 2001. This video was produced by Flyby News through the facilities of Greenfield Community Television.You can also watch the entire video online in high resolution at www.GCTV.org/videos.

Part 1 - http://youtu.be/kLENHb5OfTc

Part 2 - http://youtu.be/f3qFcmE7cYc

Part 3 - http://youtu.be/fAn-9l93_FM

Part 4 - http://youtu.be/9tzwhRbkUmc

Part 5 - http://youtu.be/h_Y_5q2g19w

Part 6 - http://youtu.be/OIafjZSXL1o

Part 7 - http://youtu.be/u7TJKq5EUus

Part 8 - http://youtu.be/ek9IHY2086g

Part 1 opens with an excerpt from Senator Gravel's speech at the forum, "Creating a New path to Peace and Prosperity: Empowering Citizens to End the 9/11 Wars and Restore Lost Liberties", recorded in Oakland, California on May 19, 2011.





Parts 2 and 3 are with George Ripley, who is on the steering committee for Citizens 9/11 Commission Campaign. Parts 4, 5, 6, and 7 are with Senator Gravel, and Part 8 is an excerpt with Bob Bowman, which like the first segment uses an excerpt from the May 19, 2011 Oakland forum for 'Empowering Citizens to End the 9/11 Wars and Restore Lost Liberties.' Also, I inserted into that last segment Dr. Bowman's 3-minute WTC-7 blow-out video compilation, (the smoking gun of 9-11) and credits. The entire video will be available in high resolution viewing when posted at www.gctv.org/videos. Look for films by FLYBY NEWS in the alphabetically arranged categories..

"The evidence in hand points to the urgent need for a citizens' investigation with grand jury powers."

- U.S. Senator Mike Gravel

(D-Alaska, 1969-1981)














Citizens 9/11 Commission Campaign




9/11 Truthers Demand a New Investigation







The CIA's impunity on 'torture tapes'

That the CIA could destroy its videotapes of 9/11 conspirator interrogations without penalty is a shocking abuse of democracy


Hamilton and Tom Kean – the co-chairmen of the 9/11 Commission – are the prototypical Wise Old Men of Washington. These are the types chosen to head blue-ribbon panels whenever the US government needs a respectable, trans-partisan, serious face to show the public in the wake of a mammoth political failure. Wise Old Men of Washington are entrusted with this mission because, by definition, they are loyal, devoted members of the political establishment and will criticise political institutions and leaders only in the most respectful and restrained manner.

That is why it was so remarkable when Hamilton and Kean, on 2 January 2008, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times repeatedly accusing the CIA and the Bush White House of knowingly "obstructing" their commission's investigation into the 9/11 attack. As many imprisoned felons can attest, the word "obstruction" packs a powerful punch as a legal term of art signifying the crime of "obstruction of justice", and yet, here were these two mild-mannered, establishment-protecting civil servants accusing CIA and Bush officials of that crime in the most public and unambiguous manner possible.

What triggered this duo's uncharacteristic accusatory outburst was the revelation that the CIA had purposely destroyed numerous videos of interrogation sessions it had conducted with al-Qaida operatives (destroyed were 92 videos, showing hundreds of hours of interrogations). The 9/11 Commission had repeatedly demanded, with the force of law behind it, that all such interrogation materials be provided to it. Numerous courts presiding over lawsuits relating to torture allegations against the CIA had also ordered that any such videos be produced.

But with those orders pending, the CIA destroyed the very evidence it was legally compelled to preserve. With at least the knowledge, if not direction, of White House officials, they did so almost certainly with the intent of preventing the world from seeing how they treated detainees in their custody – with torture – but the effect was to prevent the 9/11 Commission and multiple courts from learning what al-Qaida operatives said (or did not say) about 9/11 and other matters under investigation.

That is why the CIA's actions were so clearly criminal: destroying evidence one knows is relevant to a lawful investigation or a judicial proceeding is the very essence of "obstruction of justice". Individuals are routinely prosecuted and imprisoned in the US for such acts in far less serious cases. So egregious and deliberate was the CIA's criminality – purposely destroying evidence relevant to the most significant terrorist attack in history on US soil – that not even Hamilton and Kean were willing to paper over it.

Despite all that, there have been no legal consequences whatsoever for the crimes of these CIA officials. Last November, the Obama justice department – following the administration's all-too-familiar pattern of shielding Bush-era crimes from acountability – announced it was closing its criminal investigation into the matter with no charges filed. And this week, a federal judge, whose own order to produce these videos had been violated by the CIA, decided that he would not even impose civil sanctions or issue a finding of contempt because, as he put it, new rules issued by the CIA "should lead to greater accountability within the agency and prevent another episode like the videotapes' destruction".

In other words, the CIA has promised not to do this again, so they shouldn't be punished for the crimes they committed. Aside from how difficult it is, given the agency's history, to make that claim without triggering a global laughing fit, it is also grounded in a principle of leniency rarely applied to ordinary citizens. After all, most criminal defendants caught up in the life-destroying hell of a federal prosecution are quite unlikely to repeat their crimes in the future, yet that fact is no bar to punishing them for the illegal acts they already committed.

What actually produced this astounding outcome is the two-tiered system of justice that is now fully entrenched in the US: one in which ordinary Americans are subjected to a brutally harsh and unforgiving system of punishment, while political and financial elites are vested with virtually full-scale immunity for even the most egregious of crimes. It is that warped "justice" system that has caused Americans to witness the construction of the world's largest penal state for ordinary citizens at the very same time that the most destructive elite crimes – a worldwide torture regime, Wall Street plundering on a massive scale, illegal domestic eavesdropping, an aggressive war in Iraq that killed at least tens of thousands of innocents – have gone completely unpunished.

As I spent the last 18 months writing my forthcoming book on this two-tiered justice system, I genuinely expected, as I recount there, that there would be indictments in the CIA video case, thus providing a counter-example to the book's argument that elites are now immune from the rule of law. "Even our political class," I wrote, "couldn't allow lawbreaking this brazen to go entirely unpunished." Alas, as Wednesday's court ruling (pdf) demonstrated, I was wrong: there is no elite criminality too egregious to enjoy this shield of immunity. Thus can the CIA purposely destroy evidence it has been ordered to produce both by a congressionally-created investigative commission and multiple courts – and do so with total impunity.



The US has formally sent to trial five suspected al-Qaeda militants believed to have planned the 9/11 terror attacks.

The five Guantanamo Bay inmates, including alleged mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, will be tried by a military commission.

They will face charges including terrorism, hijacking, conspiracy, murder and destruction of property.

They could face the death penalty if found guilty, the Pentagon confirmed.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the four others - Waleed bin Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi - are expected to be tried together, the Pentagon added.

They are accused of planning and executing the terror attacks of 11 September 2001, which saw hijacked planes strike New York, Washington and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

A total of 2,976 people died in the attacks.


Jonathan Beale
BBC defence correspondent


I was one of the handful of journalists present when Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, or KSM as he became known, was first charged under the Bush administration.

On that day, the defendants and lawyers' voices were cut off mid-flow whenever the US military judge deemed they were divulging classified information. That happened at any mention of their treatment - including "waterboarding".

KSM was slim with a full beard and apparently vain. With no photographs allowed, his court portrait had to be approved by the man himself. He complained that his nose was hooked.

The Obama administration had hoped to try the five defendants in a civilian court in New York, but there was too much opposition to letting them on the mainland.

Guantanamo appears to be the only option. But why now? Does it have anything to do with a presidential election? And given what's already been said, what are the chances of a fair trial?



Architects & Engineers: Solving the Mystery of WTC 7







by Daniel Hopsicker.

Watched this with 100% concentration and it lost me so many times!















Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, a rumor circulated on the Internet claimed that 4,000 Jews did not report to work, or "called in sick" that morning. It suggested that no Jews died because they somehow had foreknowledge of the attack. There are several variations of this rumor, including one suggesting that Israel was behind the attacks.

Such rumors are absurd. Among those who died in the collapse of the Twin Towers were scores of Jews. Their lives, and their untimely deaths, have been widely documented on television, in newspapers and in makeshift memorials across New York City. The terrorists who targeted the World Trade Center did not distinguish between the many Christian, Jewish and Muslim workers in the building who perished.

These rumors appear to have originated in the Arab world. They are among several conspiracy theories being circulated in the Arab and Muslim media, as well as on Web sites and bulletin boards, that Israel or the Jews - and not Arab terrorists - were responsible for the attacks on September 11.

More on Anti-Semitism in the Arab World >>
Other Internet rumors >>

Odigo, the instant messaging service, says that two of its workers received messages two hours before the Twin Towers attack on September 11 predicting the attack would happen, and the company has been cooperating with Israeli and American law enforcement, including the FBI, in trying to find the original sender of the message predicting the attack.

Micha Macover, CEO of the company, said the two workers received the messages and immediately after the terror attack informed the company's management, which immediately contacted the Israeli security services, which brought in the FBI.

Dark Knights

A man alleged to have lured two US volunteer firefighters to their deaths in Webster, New York left a long note outlining his plans, police say.

No motive was given but the note left by William Spengler, identified as the gunman said he was planning to «do what I like doing best – killing people.»

Police searching Spengler’s burnt-out house say they have found human remains – believed to be those of his sister.

The firefighters were shot dead as they arrived to tackle a fire on Monday.

At a news conference on Tuesday, police said Spengler, 62, had three guns and aimed to burn down his neighborhood.

William Spengler spent 17 years in prison for killing his grandmother
Seven homes on a narrow stretch of land beside Lake Ontario were destroyed by the fire. Another two firemen and an off-duty police officer were wounded in the attack.

Police Chief Gerald Pickering told reporters that Spengler, who apparently shot himself in the head, had used a .38 calibre revolver, a 12-gauge shotgun and a Bushmaster .223 calibre rifle with flash suppression.

The same make and calibre rifle had been used in the murder of 26 teachers and children at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut on 14 December, he said.

The police chief told reporters in Webster that a two- to three-page note from the gunman had been found in which he said: «I still have to get ready to see how much of the neighbourhood I can burn down and do what I like doing best – killing people.»

At a later briefing, Mr Pickering said human remains were found in the house Spengler shared with his 67-year-old sister, Cheryl.

Police believe the remains are hers.

Spengler and his sister lived with their mother until her death in October.

‘Clear ambush’
Spengler had served 17 years in jail for killing his grandmother with a hammer but had done nothing to attract the authorities’ attention since being granted parole in 1998.

As a convicted criminal, he was not allowed to own weapons.

Police said he appeared to have set «a trap» by setting fire to his home. His older sister, Cheryl, whom he reportedly hated, is missing.

Two of the firefighters who responded to the call, Tomasz Kaczowka, 19, and Mike Chiapperini, aged 43, were shot dead in what was described as a «clear ambush» on emergency services.

Their two wounded colleagues are said to be in a stable condition with gunshot wounds.

The off-duty police officer, who was also shot and wounded as he came to their aid, was praised by the police chief for saving people’s lives.

Gerald Pickering cited «mental health issues» as a possible factor for the attack, which came months after the death of Spengler’s mother.

The Newtown killer, Adam Lanza, killed his mother with her own guns before launching his attack on Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut.

His murders of 20 children aged six and seven have prompted a national debate on gun ownership and mental health.

«It’s sad to see that that this is becoming more commonplace in communities across the nation,» Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O’Flynn told AP news agency after the attack in New York state


Two volunteer firefighters have been shot dead and two injured while responding to an emergency call in the town of Webster in New York state.

It appears the four were fired upon as they arrived at the scene of a fire early on Monday morning.

The blaze broke out just before 06:00 local time (11:00 GMT) and the shooting reportedly prevented firefighters putting it out for several hours.

A gunman has been found dead at the scene, local police say.

«Upon arrival of the first… engine company and some firefighters in their personal vehicles, they underwent gunfire from a location unknown,» Webster’s Fire Marshal Rob Boutillier told reporters.

The two dead firefighters were named by police as Tomasz Kaczowka and Mike Chiapperini.

An off-duty policeman who was driving by the scene at the time received shrapnel wounds and was also being treated, Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering told reporters.

Police spokesmen said the area was «an active crime scene» but that no more shooters were believed to be present.

‘Senseless act’
Police teams moved in to evacuate residents after the shooting.

Firefighters were then able to return to the scene and are now tackling the blaze.

«All of our thoughts and prayers go to the families and friends of those who were killed in this senseless act of violence,» New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

«The contributions made by the fallen and injured officers in Webster will never be forgotten,» New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.

«As this investigation unfolds, we stand with our partners in law enforcement to ensure that lethal weapons are out of the hands of dangerous people, so that the brave New Yorkers who risk their lives every day to protect us are not exposed to additional danger,» he added.

Also on Monday, a policeman was shot dead in the city of Houston, Texas after the driver of a car he pulled over opened fire on him.

The debate on gun violence in the US was rekindled earlier this month by the shootings at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, which left 20 children and six adults dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

It was one of the worst mass shootings in American history.

«There’s a heightened awareness to this kind of violence in light of what happened in Connecticut,» said Maggie Brooks, leader of the local administration in Monroe County, the area which includes Webster.

«We have first responders and we have families who are in pain and crisis today and we need to, as a community, keep them in our thoughts and prayers,» Mrs Brooks said, adding that it was a «very, very difficult day».

President Obama has promised to push for action on gun control while the National Rifle Association (NRA) has called for armed security in all American schools.


source: ThinkProgress

Immediately after the suicide of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who police say murdered his girlfriend at their home before driving to the Chiefs’ practice facility and shooting himself in front of the team’s coach and general manager, thoughts turned to the role concussions and brain injuries may have played in the tragedy.

But during halftime of last night’s Sunday Night Football broadcast, NBC’s Bob Costas brought up another angle: the role guns, and our nation’s lax gun laws, played in the tragedy. After a brief introduction, Costas quoted Kansas City-based columnist Jason Whitlock, who wrote yesterday that he believed both Belcher and his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, would be alive today were it not for Belcher’s possession of a gun


Thomas «Tres» Caffall, the man who police say killed two people–including a Texas constable–in a shooting near the Texas A&M University campus on Monday was a «ticking time bomb,» his stepfather says.

«He was crazy as hell,» Richard Weaver, Caffall’s stepfather, told KPRC-TV. «At one point, we were afraid that he was going to come up here and do something to his mother and me.»

Caffall, 35, opened fire as the Brazos County constable, Brian Bachmann, was attempting to serve him an eviction notice, College Station police said. Officers responded to the off-campus house shortly after noon following reports of shots fired, and found the 41-year-old Bachmann on the ground.
Caffall was shot during what police described as a 30-minute «gun battle.» Bachmann and Caffall were taken to College Station Medical Center, where they were pronounced dead.


By Deanne Katz, Esq. at FindLaw.com
Wed Aug 8, 2012 12:22am EDT

Scott Smith was likely trying to emulate the horrific Colorado shootings when he brought a gun, extra ammo, and several knives to a late night showing of The Dark Knight Rises. Luckily his performance was cut short when an observant manager and a security guard noticed him.

Off-duty Officer Jeremiah Bullins, that night’s security guard, approached Smith in the Crocker Park, Ohio theater where he was sitting and asked to check his bag. Smith complied which is when Bullins saw the weaponry.

Smith was charged with crimes related to carrying the weapons, especially given his personal status.

Prosecutors are charging Smith with carrying a weapon under disability, reports WKYC. The claim is that his prescription medications prevent him from owning firearms under any circumstances.

If proven, Smith will be in trouble for owning the weapons, never mind carrying them into a theater.

But that’s not the only charge against him. Smith is also charged with carrying a concealed weapon.

Ohio, like many states, has laws requiring gun owners to get a special permit to carry a concealed weapon. Even if Smith turns out to be a lawful gun owner, it does not appear that he has a permit to carry concealed weapons.

For states that require a permit for concealed weapons, any gun owner who does not have a permit must keep their guns in view at all times while carrying them in public. Several states ban concealed weapons entirely.

Theater personnel have been on high alert since James Holmes gunned-down movie goers last month. Scott Smith’s foiled attempt is evidence that their efforts are not in vain.


(Reuters) – The white supremacist gunman who killed six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, the FBI said on Wednesday.

A police officer shot and wounded the gunman, Wade Page, 40, in the stomach outside the temple in Oak Creek on Sunday, said Teresa Carlson, an FBI special agent in charge.

«Subsequent to that wound, it appears that Page died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head,» she told a news conference.

Police had said Page had been shot to death by an officer responding to the attack at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in suburban Milwaukee.

Carlson said she had seen a video of the police officer wounding Page with a squad rifle. «It’s an amazing shot, and thank goodness,» she said.

Federal authorities have said they are treating the attack as a possible act of domestic terrorism. Page, an Army veteran, was a musician who played in white power punk-metal bands. He was armed with a 9mm handgun during the attack.

Turban-wearing Sikhs are often mistaken for Muslims in the United States. The Sikh faith was founded in the Punjab area of India and Pakistan and has an estimated 500,000 or more adherents in the United States.

President Barack Obama called Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to express his condolences over the temple shooting.

Carlson said investigators had not found any motive for the attack, which also wounded four people, including a police officer shot eight or nine times after responding to a 911 call.

The wounded officer, Lieutenant Brian Murphy, is up and walking, Carlson said.

Investigators have conducted more than 100 interviews with Page’s relatives, employers and associates, Carlson said. They are also following 101 leads worldwide and have issued 180 federal grand jury subpoenas.

Police have arrested Page’s former girlfriend, Misty Cook, on a weapons charge. Carlson said the arrest took place at Cook’s Milwaukee home late on Sunday and was unrelated to the shooting investigation.

Police said on Tuesday that a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm would be sought against Cook, 31. [ID:nL2E8J80OC] (Additional reporting by Paul Thomasch; writing by Ian Simpson; editing by Vicki Allen and Mohammad Zargham)


The White House gave a cool welcome on Monday to Democratic legislation that wouldeffectively ban online or mail-order purchases of ammunition in the aftermath of the mass shooting at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater.
«I haven’t seen the specific piece of legislation that has been offered up today,» spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at the daily press briefing. «But as that and other pieces of legislation make their way through the legislative process, we’ll evaluate them.»
The proposal, crafted by Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg and Democratic Representative Carolyn McCarthy, aims to restrict the ability of Americans to buy unlimited quantities of ammunition over the Internet, or by mail order, anonymously.
President Barack Obama has called for a common sense response to the slaughter in Aurora. But the White House has played down his appetite for new legislation as opposed to tightening or toughening existing measures—such as background checks—to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals or the mentally ill. And the president has underlined his support for the Second Amendment to the Constitution.
«He believes in the second amendment of the constitution, in the right to bear arms,» Earnest said again Monday.  «But he also believes that we should take robust steps, within existing law, to ensure that guns don’t fall in the hands of criminals or others who shouldn’t have them.
The new legislation, dubbed the Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act,  rests on four pillars, according to Lautenberg’s office:
It requires anyone selling ammunition to be a licensed dealer.
It requires ammunition buyers who are not licensed dealers to present photo identification at the time of purchase, effectively banning the online or mail order purchase of ammo by regular civilians.
It requires licensed ammunition dealers to maintain records of the sale of ammunition.
It requires licensed ammunition dealers to report the sale of more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition to an unlicensed person within any five consecutive business days.


Violent crime dropped in 2011, preliminary figures released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Monday show.
According to the FBI’s «Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report,» violent crimes fell 4 percent nationwide, part of a decade-plus decline in that category.
Murder was down about 2 percent, according to the FBI, while forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault all fell 4.0 percent when compared to 2010. But in towns with populations of less than 10,000, there was an 18.3 percent increase in murder in 2011. There was also a 0.6 percent increase in murder in the Midwest.
The FBI did not give reasons for the trends.
Property crimes declined about 1 percent. Arsonwhich is considered a property crime though counted separatelyfell 5 percent, the FBI said. The only overall rise in property crimes was burglary, which was up marginally.
Data for the report is collected by the bureau from participating state and federal law enforcement agencies. Final figures will be published this fall.


Gun sales in Colorado have spiked since last week’s massacre, The Denver Post reports.
Background checks jumped more than 41 percent since Friday’s shooting that left 12 dead and 58 injured during a midnight screening of «The Dark Knight Rises» at an Aurora movie theater. Over the weekend, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation approved background checks for 2,887 people who wanted to purchase a firearm, the Post said, an increase of 43 percent over the previous weekend.
«It’s been insane,» Jake Meyers, an employee at Rocky Mountain Guns and Ammo in Parker, Colo., told the paper.
Spikes in gun sales are not uncommon in the aftermath of mass shootings like the one in Colorado. Following the January 2011 shooting that killed six and wounded more than a dozen others—including former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords—in Tucson, sales of handguns soared more than 60 percent in the state, according to FBI data. Similar spikes were seen after the massacres at Virginia Tech and Columbine.
Some of those seeking to buy guns in Colorado over the weekend said they were seeking to arm themselves for protection in the wake of the shooting, according to the report. But many were likely fearful of a change in gun laws. Democratic state Rep. Rhonda Fields of Aurora told the paper she wants Congress to reinstate a ban on assault weapons.
«When something like this happens people get worried that the government is going to ban stuff,» Greg Wolff, an Arizona gun shop owner, told Bloomberg.com after the rampage in Tucson.
They also get worried when a Democrat is about to take office. Before President Barack Obama’s 2008 election, there was a spike in gun sales, and gun shop owners and manufacturers have reported similarly brisk buying in 2012.
«It’s definitely the election year,» Jason Hanson, a former CIA officer, told Fox News in March. «People feel that Obama will serve second term and with it their gun rights with taken away, so they are stocking up.»
In December, the FBI reported a record number of background checks—1,534,414—sent by gun dealers. «Almost half a million checks were done in just the last six days before Christmas,» according to CNN. In 2010, the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System received more than 14 million requests, more than in any other year.
James Holmes, the suspected shooter in Friday’s massacre, was found with a military-style AR-15 assault rifle, two Glock .40-caliber pistols and a Remington 12-gauge shotgun when he was arrested outside the theater in Aurora. And like Jared Loughner, the accused killer in the Tucson massacre, Holmes purchased the guns legally.

CREDO Action | more than a network, a movement.

Dear Friend,
The shock and trauma from the images and stories from Aurora are still very much with us, and it is impossible to put into words the pain being felt by families and friends of the victims.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t speak out. In the wake of this massacre, it’s time to put aside politics and reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons.
After the news broke last Friday, President Barack Obama said that «there are going to be other days for politics, this I think is a day for prayer and reflection.» Governor Mitt Romney said, «I stand before you today not as a man running for office, but as a father and grandfather, a husband, and American.»1 Both of their campaigns asked networks to pull their negative advertisements.
The gestures from the two men who are running for President were welcome steps. But, we need more than sympathetic words. We need real leadership to start to address the senseless gun violence that holds our communities hostage.
One of the principal weapons used by the shooter in the horrific Aurora massacre was an AR-15 assault rifle.2 This weapon features a magazine that holds 100 rounds of bullets, and its trigger is capable of firing 50-60 rounds per minute.3
The federal assault weapons ban which was passed in 1994, banned the sale of guns like the AR-15.4 Unfortunately, that ban expired in 2004 as a result of fierce lobbying by the NRA. It’s long past time to reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons like the AR-15.

CREDO members worked to pass the federal assault weapons ban in 1994. And we fought to stop its expiration in 2004. And we continue to advocate for a federal ban on assault weapons like the AR-15 used in the Aurora massacre.

Massacres on the scale of the tragedy in Aurora happen in part because our federal gun laws make it easy for civilians to obtain military-level firepower. We need to pass and enforce sensible federal gun laws restricting ready access for civilians to assault weapons. Reinstating a strong version of the federal ban on assault weapons known as the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act is where we should start.
We’re not so naïve as to think that sensible gun laws are all that’s needed to stop the killings. There are many things that need to change in American culture to stop the next Aurora-like massacre. But we do know one thing we should put at the top of the list — keeping military-level assault weapons like the AR-15 with a high capacity clip out of the hands of civilians. Click below to automatically sign the petition.

r=6916339&p=obama_romney_guns&

id=43839-5154581-hC2Ah5x&t=10

Thank you for speaking out.
Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets
1. Adam Serwer, «Politicizing Tragedy and the Aurora Theater Shooting,’ MotherJones.com, July 20, 2012.
2. Zack Beauchamp, «Expired Assault Weapons Ban Would Have Covered Rifle Used In Colorado Shooting,» ThinkProgress.org, July 20, 2012.
3. Caroline Hedley, «It Was Shockingly Easy For The Batman Shooter To Buy A Massive Arsenal,» BusinessInsider.com, July 21, 2012.
4. Beauchamp, «Expired Assault Weapons Ban Would Have Covered Rifle Used In Colorado Shooting

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AURORA, Colo. (AP) — The University of Colorado said Sunday it was investigating whether shooting suspect James Holmes used his position as a graduate student to order materials in the potentially deadly booby traps that police said they found in his apartment.

Holmes, 24, got deliveries over four months to his home and school, authorities have said. The university is looking into what was received at the school to assist police with their investigation, said spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery.

The suspect was described as a budding scientist, brimming with potential, who pursued a graduate program even as he planned the attack with «calculation and deliberation,» police said.

Investigators spent hours Saturday removing explosive materials from inside Holmes’ apartment a day after police said he opened fire and set off gas canisters in a movie theater minutes into a premiere of the «The Dark Knight Rises.» The massacre left 12 people dead and 58 injured.

His apartment was booby trapped with jars of liquids, explosives and chemicals that could have killed «whoever entered it,» Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said, noting it would have likely been one of his officers.

Inside the apartment, bomb technicians neutralized a «hypergolic mixture» and an improvised explosive device containing an unknown substance, said James Yacone, an FBI special agent. There also were containers of accelerants, creating «an extremely dangerous environment,» he said.

Oates said on CBS’ «Face the Nation» that he had never seen a booby trap as elaborate as what was found in the apartment.

By late Saturday afternoon, all hazards had been removed from the apartment and residents in surrounding buildings were allowed to return home, police said.

The exception was Holmes’ apartment building, where authorities were still collecting evidence. Authorities covered the windows of Holmes’ apartment with black plastic to prevent anyone from seeing in. Before they did, a man in an ATF T-shirt could be seen measuring a poster on a closet that advertised a DVD called «Soldiers of Misfortune.» The poster showed several figures in various positions playing paintball, some wearing masks.

Police left the apartment building carrying a laptop computer and a hard drive about 8 p.m. Saturday.
Holmes was in solitary confinement for his protection at a Denver-area county detention facility, held without bond on suspicion of multiple counts of first-degree murder. He was set for an initial hearing on Monday and has been appointed a public defender.

President Barack Obama was scheduled to travel to Colorado on Sunday to visit with the families of victims. The city of Aurora planned a vigil to remember the dead and wounded in the shooting later in the evening.
Among the dead was a 6-year-old girl and a man who died on his 27th birthday and a day before his wedding anniversary. Families grieved and waited at hospitals, with police reporting 11 people still in critical condition as of Saturday.

While authorities continued to refuse to discuss a possible motive for one of the deadliest mass shootings in recent U.S. history, details about Holmes’ background as a student and would-be scientist trickled out.
Holmes had recently withdrawn from the competitive graduate program in neuroscience at the University of Colorado Denver, where he was one of six pre-thesis Ph.D. students at its Neuroscience Program to be funded by a prestigious grant from the National Institutes of Health. The program of 35 students is dedicated to training outstanding neuroscientists and academicians who will make significant contributions to neurobiology, the university said in a statement.

In the first year of the five- to seven-year program, students take classes and complete three, three-month research rotations in the labs of different professors.

Professors who worked with him either did not return calls or declined to comment, saying police and university officials had told them not to speak to the media.

At one point in the year, Holmes was engaged in research about RNA and was to present a paper May 8 about RNA Biomarkers, according to a class schedule. It was unclear if he presented the paper.
Holmes recently took an intense, three-part oral exam that marks the end of the first year. Those who do well continue with their studies and shift to full-time research, while those who don’t do well meet with advisers and discuss their options, including retaking the exam.

University officials would not say if he passed, citing privacy concerns.
The university said Holmes gave no reason for his withdrawal, a decision he made in June.
«The focus of the program is on training outstanding neuroscientists and academicians who will make significant contributions to neurobiology,» the university said. The doctoral program usually takes five to seven years to complete, it said.

Holmes was not allowed access from the institution after his withdrawal, which was «standard operating procedure» because he was no longer affiliated with the school, Montgomery said. Holmes had no contact with university police, she said.

In a resume posted on Monster.com, Holmes listed himself as an «aspiring scientist» and said he was looking for a job as a laboratory technician.

The resume, first obtained in Holmes’ home state of California by The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, paints a picture of a brilliant young man brimming with potential: He worked as a summer intern at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla in 2006 and mapped the neurons of Zebra finches and studied the flight muscles of hummingbirds while an undergraduate at the University of California, Riverside.

He also worked as a cabin counselor to underprivileged children at a summer camp in Los Angeles in 2008. In a statement, Camp Max Straus confirmed Holmes had worked there for eight weeks. The camp provided no other details about Holmes but said such counselors are generally responsible for the care and guidance of roughly 10 children.

Ritchie Duong, a friend who has known Holmes for more than a decade, told the Los Angeles Times that in high school he liked to play cards and video games. They both attended undergraduate school at the University of California, Riverside, where they saw each other once a week to watch the TV show «Lost.»
Duong last saw Holmes in December when they met for dinner in Los Angeles and saw a movie together. His friend seemed fine, he told the newspaper.
Academics came easily to Holmes both at high school and at the UC Riverside, Duong said.
«I had one college class with him, and he didn’t even have to take notes or anything. He would just show up to class, sit there, and around test time he would always get an ‘A,'» said Duong, 24.
During the attack early Friday, Holmes used the military-style semiautomatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol to open fire on the unsuspecting theater-goers, Oates said. Holmes had bought the weapons at local gun stores within the past two months. He recently purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the Internet, the chief said.

The semiautomatic assault rifle used by the gunman jammed during the attack, a federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press, which forced the shooter to switch to another gun with less fire power.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to in order to discuss the investigation, said the disabled weapon had a high-capacity ammunition magazine. Police have said that a 100-round drum magazine was recovered at the scene and that such a device would be able to fire 50 to 60 rounds a minute.

Holmes also bought an urban assault vest, two magazine holders and a knife for just over $300 on July 2 from an online supplier of tactical gear for police and military personnel, according to the company.
Chad Weinman, CEO of TacticalGear.com, said his company processes thousands of orders each day, and there was nothing unusual in the one that Holmes placed.

The Batman movie, the last in the trilogy starring Christian Bale, opened worldwide Friday with midnight showings in the U.S. «The Dark Knight Rises» earned $30.6 million in the midnight screenings, and, according to industry estimates, roughly $75 million on that day as a whole. That put it on track for a weekend total of around $165 million, which would be the second-highest opening weekend ever, following «The Avengers.»

The shooting was the worst in the U.S. since the Nov. 5, 2009, attack at Fort Hood, Texas. An Army psychiatrist was charged with killing 13 soldiers and civilians and wounding more than two dozen others.
Across the street from the movie theater, a man who placed 15 crosses near Columbine High School after a 1999 massacre there has returned to Colorado with 12 crosses for the victims of Friday’s shooting.
Greg Zanis, of Aurora, Ill., began putting up the 3 1/2-foot-tall crosses Sunday on a hill across the street from the Century 16 theater.
___

Associated Press contributors to this report include Mead Gruver, Thomas Piepert, Kristen Wyatt, Steven K. Paulson, Ivan Moreno, P. Solomon Banda and Gillian Flaccus in Aurora; Dan Elliott, Colleen Slevin in Denver; AP Entertainment Writer Jake Coyle in New York; M.L. Johnson in Chicago; Brian Skoloff in Salt Lake City; Monika Mathur and Jennifer Farrar at News Research Center in New York; and Eileen Sullivan in Washington.


Twelve people were killed and 59 were injured in Aurora, Colo., during a sold-out midnight premier of the new Batman movie «The Dark Knight Rises» when 24-year-old James Holmes unloaded four weapons’ full of ammunition into the unsuspecting crowd.
The number of casualties makes the incident the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Holmes, a graduate student at a nearby college with a clean arrest record, entered the movie auditorium wearing a ballistics helmet, bullet-proof vest, bullet-proof leggings, gas mask and gloves. He detonated multiple smoke bombs, and then began firing at viewers in the sold-out auditorium, police said today.

Bullets from the spree tore through the theater and into adjoining theaters, where at least one other person was struck and injured. Ten members of «The Dark Knight Rises» audience were killed in theater, while two others died later at area hospitals. Numerous patrons were in critical condition at six local hospitals, the Aurora police said this afternoon.

Holmes was apprehended within minutes of the 12:39 a.m. shooting at his car behind the theater, where police found him in full riot gear and carrying three weapons, including a AR-15 assault rifle, which can hold upwards of 100 rounds, a Remington 12 gauge shot gun, and a .40 Glock handgun. A fourth handgun was found in the vehicle. Agents from the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms are tracing the weapons.

According to police sources, Holmes told the officers arresting him that he was «The Joker,» referring to the villain in the second installment of the Batman movie trilogy, «The Dark Knight.» He also warned police that he had booby-trapped his apartment, leading officers to evacuate the Aurora apartment building.

Police Chief Dan Oates said today that police and bomb squads have found a large number of explosive devices and trip wires at Holmes’ apartment and have not yet decided how to proceed without setting off explosions.

«The pictures we have from inside the apartment are pretty disturbing considering how elaborate the apartment is booby trapped,» police said outside of the apartment complex today. The «flammable and explosive» materials could have blown up Holmes’ apartment building and the ones near it, police said.

The apartment complex is home exclusively to University of Colorado Medical Center students, patients, and staff members, residents tell ABC News.
Moviegoer Christopher Ramos today recalled the real-life horror of the midnight premiere of the latest Batman movie, «The Dark Knight Rises,» in Aurora, Colo., as a gunman decked in riot gear set off smoke bombs and opened fire on the unsuspecting audience.

«People were running everywhere, running on top of me, like kicking me, jumping over me. And there were bodies on the ground,» Ramos said. «I froze up. I was scared. I honestly thought I was going to die.»

«The image in our heads is stuck in there. I still have the ticket right here and honestly, I’m never going to forget this night at all. Because it was the first time I saw something that was real. Like a real-life nightmare that was there, not dreaming of,» Ramos told ABC News today.

Witnesses in the movie theater said Holmes saw smoke and heard gunshots that they thought were part of the movie until they saw Holmes standing in front of the screen, after entering from an emergency exit. Holmes methodically stalked the aisles of the theater, shooting people at random, as panicked movie-watchers in the packed auditorium tried to escape, witnesses said.

At one point the shooter exited the theater only to wait outside the doors and pick off patrons as they tried to exit, witness Jennifer Seeger told «Good Afternoon America.»

«You just smelled smoke and you just kept hearing it, you just heard bam bam bam, non-stop. The gunman never had to reload. Shots just kept going, kept going, kept going,» one witness told ABC News.

«I’m with coworkers and we’re on the floor praying to God we don’t get shot, and the gunshots continue on and on, and when the sound finally stopped, we started to get up and people were just bleeding,» another theatergoer said.

The suspected shooter will face his first court appearance next week, according to district attorney Carol Chambers.

Holmes, originally of San Diego, moved to Aurora to pursue his Ph.D. at the University of Colorado medical center, living just blocks from the hospital in an apartment that police say is now laced with explosives and being searched by HazMat teams.

Federal law enforcement sources tell ABC News that Holmes bought a ticket to the movie, slipped out of the theater once it began and propped open the emergency exit before gathering his weapons and gear and coming back into the theater. Once inside, he opened fire.

A San Diego woman identifying herself as James Holmes’s mother spoke briefly with ABC News this morning.

She had awoken unaware of the news of the shooting and had not been contacted by authorities. She immediately expressed concern that her son may have been involved.
«You have the right person,» she said.

«I need to call the police,» she added. «I need to fly out to Colorado.»
The woman and her husband later released a statement saying their «hearts go out to those who involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved. We are still trying to process this information and we appreciate that people will respect our privacy.»

The highly-anticipated third installment of the Batman trilogy opened to packed auditoriums around the country at midnight showings on Friday morning, and features a villain named Bane who wears a bulletproof vest and gas mask. Trailers for the movie show explosions at public events including a football game. Though many moviegoers dressed in costume to attend the opening night screening, police have made no statements about any connection between the gunman’s motives and the movie.
Read More: NRA Deletes Tweet After Shooting

Police in New York have intensified security around showings of the film throughout the five boroughs today, with Police Commissioner Ray Kelley saying that «as a precaution against copycats and to raise the comfort levels among movie patrons in the wake of the horrendous shooting in Colorado, the New York City Police Department is providing coverage at theaters where the ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is playing.»

The Paris premiere of the movie has been cancelled in the wake of the shootings. «Warner Bros. and the filmmakers are deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident. We extend our sincere sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims at this tragic time,» the movie’s producers said in a statement.

Witnesses watching movies in theaters next to the one where the shooting took place said bullets tore through the theater walls and they heard screaming.
Read More: Obama and Romney Respond to Shooting

«The suspect throws tear gas in the air, and as the tear gas appears he started shooting,» said Lamar Lane, who was watching the midnight showing of the movie with his brother. «It was very hard to breathe. I told my brother to take cover. It took awhile. I started seeing flashes and screaming, I just saw blood and people yelling and a quick glimpse of the guy who had a gas mask on. I was pushed out. There was chaos, we started running.»

One witness said she saw people dropping to the ground after the gunshots began.
«We were maybe 20 or 30 minutes into the movie and all you hear, first you smell smoke, everybody thought it was fireworks or something like that, and then you just see people dropping and the gunshots are constant,» witness Christ Jones told ABC’s Denver affiliate KMGH. «I heard at least 20 to 30 rounds within that minute or two.»
A man who talked to a couple who was inside the theater told ABC News, «They got up and they started to run through the emergency exit, and that when she turned around, she said all she saw was the guy slowly making his way up the stairs and just firing at people, just picking random people,» he said. «The gunshots continued to go on and on and then after we didn’t hear anything…we finally got up and there was people bleeding, there was people obviously may have been actually dead or anything, and we just ran up out of there, there was chaos everywhere.»

Witnesses and victims were taken to Gateway High School for questioning.
Hundreds of police and FBI agents are involved in the investigation. A senior official who is monitoring the situation in Washington said that early guidance based on the early snapshot of this man’s background indicated that this act does not appear to be linked to radical terrorism or anything related to Islamic terrorism.

Dr. Comilla Sasson, at the University of Colorado Hospital where many of the victims were taken, said they are currently operating on nine critical patients and have treated 22 in all. She called the hospital «an absolutely terrifying scene all night.»

«The good news is that the 3-month-old has actually been discharged home and is in the care of their parents

In a statement, President Obama said, «Michelle and I are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado. Federal and local law enforcement are still responding, and my administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time. We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded.»


The American Rifleman, the official journal of the National Rifle Association, has deleted a tweet that appeared to make light of Friday’s shootings in Aurora, Colo., during a midnight screening of «Dark Knight Rises.»

«Good morning, shooters,» the message, published at 9:20 a.m. ET on the American Rifleman’s Twitter feed, read. «Happy Friday! Weekend plans?»

Not surprisingly, the tweet sparked considerable outrage, with hundreds of users–including Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann–pointing their followers to it.
The American Rifleman deleted the tweet several hours later but has yet to issue a formal apology.

It’s unclear whether the tweet was intentionally insensitive, or if the magazine’s tweeter was unaware of the shootings that left 12 dead and 50 wounded.
«Is there a way they wrote this without seeing the news?» Audrey Wauchope asked on Twitter.

«This is what happens when you don’t read the news,» the Columbia Journalism Review said.

In a statement to CNN, a spokesman for the NRA said that «a single individual, unaware of events in Colorado, tweeted a comment that is being completely taken out of context.»

The NRA wasn’t alone in appearing insensitive to the tragedy.

CelebBoutique.com–«the online boutique loved by your fave celebs»–took the «Aurora» trending topic as an opportunity to promote its Kim Kardashian-inspired dress


Violence like the massacre that happened in Aurora, Colo., today is a staple of action films, including Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. A similar, now haunting, scene unfurls in «The Dark Knight Rises» when a masked villain leads a violent gang into a packed football stadium and deploys guns and explosives on the unsuspecting crowd.

While there has been no indication as to the motives of James Holmes, the suspected 24-year-old shooter who is now in custody, new evidence suggests that he was inspired by the Batman series of comic books and/or movies.

Law enforcement sources confirmed to ABC News that Holmes said «I am the Joker» when apprehended by authorities. His hair was painted red, the same hair color of Heath Ledger’s Joker at one point in 2008’s «The Dark Knight.»

There are more parallels. In Frank Miller’s iconic 1986 comic book series, «The Dark Knight Returns,» the Joker murders a television studio audience by deploying «smile gas.» Holmes began his massacre by setting off smoke bombs throughout the theater.

In the same book, Arnold Crimp, a disturbed man who just lost his job, pulls out a handgun in an adult film theater and kills three people. A scene from the strip shows a news anchor saying, «Three slain in Batman-inspired porn theater shoot-out.»

Seventy-one people were shot during today’s early morning massacre; 12 have died.

Christopher Irving, author of «Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics,» cautioned against blaming an iconic, fictional character for today’s tragedy.

«There have been thousands of Batman stories published, and I don’t think pinning a specific comic book story to the tragic happenings as an inspiration is fair, or likely anything beyond a sad coincidence,» he said.


Texas ‘stand your ground’ shooter headed to prison

A Texas man convicted of shooting and killing his unarmed neighbor during a dispute over loud music received a 40-year prison sentence on Wednesday.
Raul Rodriguez, 47, faced a minimum of five years and a maximum of life in prison.  He claimed he shot schoolteacher Kelly Danaher in self-defense under Texas’ version of the «stand your ground» law.
But prosecutors argued Rodriguez provoked the incident by confronting Danaher, 36, and his friends with a handgun and demanding they quiet down at a late-night birthday party in May 2010.
The Houston case captured more attention in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death in Florida. There, George Zimmerman says he was being attacked and cited the state’s «stand your ground» law after shooting the unarmed teen. But prosecutors charged him with second-degree murder.
Two dozen states reportedly now allow citizens to stand their ground even outside their home. The specifics vary by state, but generally justify a person not retreating and using deadly force when a threat is perceived.
As in Florida, Texas law includes public areas, «if a person has a right to be present at a location where force is used.»
But veteran attorney Andy Drumheller told Yahoo News that the Houston jury appeared to draw a line with Rodriguez leaving his home and going down the street.
«The law is not designed to create this bubble that you can carry with you everywhere you go,» said Drumheller, a former prosecutor now practicing criminal defense in Houston. «The jury’s verdict is a cautionary statement on the limits of this defense.»
The Rodriguez case is also unique because the former firefighter was recording video during much of the ordeal.
Rodriguez, who had been calling police about the loud party, dialed 911 again as both sides shouted at each other near Danaher’s dark driveway.
«Tell you what, pal, you just pulled a gun on the wrong [expletive], OK?» one of the partygoers is heard telling Rodriguez on the home video.
Seconds later the partygoer warns, «When I go in that house and I come back, don’t think I won’t be equal to you, baby.»
Rodriguez, who told police he suspected the men were drunk, tells the 911 operator that he’s scared and will defend himself, if needed.
«I don’t want to do this, and it all started over them playing their music real loud … it’s about to get out of hand, Sir. Please help me. «
Seconds later, he says, «I’m standing my ground here, now these people are going to try and kill me.»
The video is dark when Danaher and two other men apparently lunged toward him, laughing loudly. Rodriguez fired his gun, killing Danaher and injuring two others.
In lobbying jurors for a lenient sentence, defense attorney Bill Stradley blamed the tragedy on his client’s misunderstanding of the state’s «stand your ground» law. Something he predicts will happen with other Texas gun owners in the future.
«And they will find themselves, like Raul Rodriguez, charged with murder,» said Stradley, according to the Houston Chronicle.
«Raul believed he had a right to be where he was. But he had two seconds to make that call, to pull that trigger.»

Death sentence handed down in Tucson against Shawna Forde, a resident of Washington State who headed the Minutemen American Defense group. She was convicted Feb. 14 of first-degree murder for orchestrating the killings of Brisenia and Raul Junior Flores of Arivaca, Ariz., a small community just north of the Mexican border.

“I think that the nation as a whole sees us as the wild, wild West, that things like that are going to be OK with us,” says Angie Thomas, who sat on the jury. “And they’re not.”

The case has drawn back the curtain to reveal the dark side of the debate raging in Arizona over illegal immigration.

Ms. Thomas and fellow jurors were told during the trial that Ms. Forde and accomplices gained entry to the Flores home with the expectation of finding drugs there, which could be sold to finance Minutemen American Defense’s border-control operations. Finding no drugs, the intruders made away with inexpensive jewelry but, prosecutors said, not before fatally shooting young Brisenia and Mr. Flores. Both victims were American citizens born in the US.

“I see Shawna Forde as someone who would have liked to have been the face of a movement,” Thomas says.

Arriving at the death sentence was difficult, Thomas says, but it was aided by a picture of Brisenia presented during trial that was etched in her mind: “A little girl, with bright red fingernails; she’s wearing a white T-shirt and turquoise-colored pajama bottoms. She’s on a love seat. It’s a perfect, innocent picture until you realize that half of her face has been blown off.”

Brisenia’s mother and Mr. Flores’s wife, Gina Gonzalez, was wounded during the shooting but survived. She testified that her daughter was shot point-blank as the girl pleaded for her life.


The 9/11 terrorist attacks and the lawlessness that followed Hurricanes Katrina and Ivan left people feeling unsafe. Prodded by the National Rifle Association, under its first female president Marion Hammer, Florida launched the «stand your ground» movement in 2005.

The fatal encounter between a 17-year-old black teenager and a mixed-race neighborhood watch volunteer has created a furor over «stand your ground» laws, which have been enacted in more than 20 states; legislation is pending in others. That Florida, the epicenter of the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case, was the first to pass the law in 2005 adds to the debate. But for George Zimmerman, this defense might not even apply, according to some legal experts.

Regardless, the case has led to legislators second-guessing the law—including the men who sponsored and signed the Florida bill, and major businesses are backpedaling from a lobby group that has helped promote the defense.

Is «stand your ground» actually relevant to George Zimmerman? In terms of legal defense, maybe not. «Stand your ground» is an expansion on the so-called Castle Doctrine, the right to defend one’s homestead. Instead of defending yourself on your own personal property, though, «stand your ground» lets you carry that immunity into public property, which can include places of business, like a bar.

I don’t think based upon Zimmerman’s explanation to the police that he has a valid Stand Your Ground claim. He’s not saying that he was assaulted frontally and then made a decision not to retreat because he thought he had to use deadly force.

He’s basically saying old-fashioned self-defense: I was struck, I was knocked down, I was on the ground, and I had to physically defend myself. There’s nothing added to his claim by the Stand Your Ground law, and I would love to have legislatures around the country look at it and say, you know, this worked for 220 years and we don’t need to add anything to it. If you’ve got a right of self-defense, great. And if you don’t have a right to defend yourself, if you think it’s OK to shoot somebody because their dog pooped on your lawn, then we don’t agree with that, and it’s a crime. (Former assistant state attorney (Florida) Abe Laser, April 12, «Talk of the Nation,» NPR)

Supporters such as former Republican senator Durell Peaden and Rep. Dennis Baxley, who co-sponsored the bill, or former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who signed the bill into law, have said Zimmerman lost his right to this defense when he sought out Martin. Bush stated that «Stand your ground means stand your ground. It doesn’t mean chase after somebody who’s turned their back.»

But since the law may be confusing to enforcement—the controversy blew up when Sanford police declined to make an arrest—it has bolstered critics ranging from State Senator Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to call for widespread reform.

Who makes the decision? Rather than ask how relevant «stand your ground» is in the Martin-Zimmerman case, the real question may be who makes the decisions in the first place. The Sanford city manager claimed that the law «prohibited» police from making an arrest. Should police make the arrest and leave it to the district attorney to bring charges, as would happen in self-defense cases? Should such cases appear before a judge? Does a jury make the call?


The mother of a 15-year-old boy with autism who was fatally shot by police in his home Wednesday is facing off with suburban Chicago police officers who say the officer acted appropriately.

Stephon Watts, 15, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome when he was 9, had had 10 previous interactions with Calumet City, Ill. police in the last two years, including at least one where police discharged Tasers to subdue him, the Chicago Tribune reports. Watts’ father called the police Wednesday after arguing with his son, who didn’t want to go to school, having been instructed by social workers that Watts should be handled by authorities when agitated.

Asperger’s syndrome interferes with social skills, but sufferers often have normal to high intelligence. Police say they found Watts armed with a knife in the basement of his parents’ home, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. When one officer sustained a defensive wound to his left forearm, two other officers on the scene fired their weapons. Steven Watts, Stephon’s father, says his son was shot once in the leg, and then again in the head.

(Reuters) – Two men suspected of killing three people and wounding two others in Tulsa, Oklahoma, during the weekend were ordered held on bail of more than $9 million each in their first court appearance Monday morning, according to local media.

Roommates Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32, were arrested early Sunday.

Authorities are charging both men with three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of shooting with intent to kill and a single complaint of possession of a firearm while committing a felony, the Tulsa World reported on its website.

Shortly before the killings, which took place on Friday, England had lamented on his Facebook page that two years had passed since his father was killed by a black man, who he referred to with a racial slur.

The victims of the killings were black while England and Watts are white. Harris said hate crime charges would be considered if the evidence supported it.


The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has called for an immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Pillay said she was shocked the gunman, George Zimmerman, was not arrested. She also expressed concern about Florida’s «Stand Your Ground» law, which allows the use of deadly force in situations where there is a belief of a threat.


Trayvon Martin’s family wants federal scrutiny of the case to extend to the actions of a state prosecutor who declined to press charges

By Michael Vasquez
mrvasquez@MiamiHerald.com

The former prosecutor assigned to the Trayvon Martin case participated in a “suspicious” meeting with police on the night of the disputed shooting, Martin’s family alleged on Monday.

In a letter sent to sent to the U.S. Department of Justice — which is already reviewing Trayvon’s Feb. 26 death — Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump accused State Attorney Norm Wolfinger of holding a meeting with Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee just hours after Martin had been killed. It was in that meeting, Crump wrote, that the two men “disregarded the lead homicide investigator’s recommendation to arrest George Zimmerman for manslaughter.”

Wolfinger’s response to this new allegation was fast and forceful: the prosecutor insisted that “no such meeting or communication occurred,” and he blasted the Martin family’s letter as “outright lies.”

“I have been encouraging those spreading the irresponsible rhetoric to stop,” Wolfinger said in a written statement.

Crump also addressed an police surveillance videotape of Zimmerman arriving at the Sanford Police station – a video that ABC News said it enhanced for improved quality. The enhanced video shows what appear to be injuries to the back of Zimmerman’s head.

Even if Zimmerman was injured in a scuffle with Trayvon, “is that enough to justify killing an unarmed teen?” Crump said.

Prior to Monday’s letter by the Martin family, the Department of Justice had already started an investigation into Trayvon’s death. But this new letter revealed the family wants federal scrutiny to extend beyond the circumstances of the teen’s death, and into the actions of Wolfinger, who two weeks ago recused himself from the case.

In the early aftermath of the shooting, Sanford’s Police Chief Bill Lee defended Zimmerman’s actions, but it has become clear in recent days that Sanford investigators closer to the ground wanted to press charges.

Crump, the Martin family attorney, wrote in Monday’s letter that the lead homicide investigator in the case, Chris Serino, has in fact signed an affidavit documenting his opinion that Zimmerman should be arrested on manslaughter charges.


Trayvon, of Miami Gardens, was visiting his father’s girlfriend, who lives in the Retreat at Twin Lakes gated community, a newer, multi-ethnic development about five miles away from the old historic part of town.
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A man alleged to have lured two US volunteer firefighters to their deaths in Webster, New York left a long note outlining his plans, police say.

No motive was given but the note left by William Spengler, identified as the gunman said he was planning to "do what I like doing best - killing people."



Police searching Spengler's burnt-out house say they have found human remains - believed to be those of his sister.

The firefighters were shot dead as they arrived to tackle a fire on Monday.

At a news conference on Tuesday, police said Spengler, 62, had three guns and aimed to burn down his neighborhood.


William Spengler spent 17 years in prison for killing his grandmother
Seven homes on a narrow stretch of land beside Lake Ontario were destroyed by the fire. Another two firemen and an off-duty police officer were wounded in the attack.

Police Chief Gerald Pickering told reporters that Spengler, who apparently shot himself in the head, had used a .38 calibre revolver, a 12-gauge shotgun and a Bushmaster .223 calibre rifle with flash suppression.

The same make and calibre rifle had been used in the murder of 26 teachers and children at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut on 14 December, he said.

The police chief told reporters in Webster that a two- to three-page note from the gunman had been found in which he said: "I still have to get ready to see how much of the neighbourhood I can burn down and do what I like doing best - killing people."

At a later briefing, Mr Pickering said human remains were found in the house Spengler shared with his 67-year-old sister, Cheryl.

Police believe the remains are hers.

Spengler and his sister lived with their mother until her death in October.

'Clear ambush'
Spengler had served 17 years in jail for killing his grandmother with a hammer but had done nothing to attract the authorities' attention since being granted parole in 1998.


As a convicted criminal, he was not allowed to own weapons.

Police said he appeared to have set "a trap" by setting fire to his home. His older sister, Cheryl, whom he reportedly hated, is missing.

Two of the firefighters who responded to the call, Tomasz Kaczowka, 19, and Mike Chiapperini, aged 43, were shot dead in what was described as a "clear ambush" on emergency services.

Their two wounded colleagues are said to be in a stable condition with gunshot wounds.

The off-duty police officer, who was also shot and wounded as he came to their aid, was praised by the police chief for saving people's lives.

Gerald Pickering cited "mental health issues" as a possible factor for the attack, which came months after the death of Spengler's mother.

The Newtown killer, Adam Lanza, killed his mother with her own guns before launching his attack on Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut.

His murders of 20 children aged six and seven have prompted a national debate on gun ownership and mental health.

"It's sad to see that that this is becoming more commonplace in communities across the nation," Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn told AP news agency after the attack in New York state




Two volunteer firefighters have been shot dead and two injured while responding to an emergency call in the town of Webster in New York state.



It appears the four were fired upon as they arrived at the scene of a fire early on Monday morning.

The blaze broke out just before 06:00 local time (11:00 GMT) and the shooting reportedly prevented firefighters putting it out for several hours.

A gunman has been found dead at the scene, local police say.

"Upon arrival of the first... engine company and some firefighters in their personal vehicles, they underwent gunfire from a location unknown," Webster's Fire Marshal Rob Boutillier told reporters.

The two dead firefighters were named by police as Tomasz Kaczowka and Mike Chiapperini.

An off-duty policeman who was driving by the scene at the time received shrapnel wounds and was also being treated, Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering told reporters.

Police spokesmen said the area was "an active crime scene" but that no more shooters were believed to be present.

'Senseless act'
Police teams moved in to evacuate residents after the shooting.

Firefighters were then able to return to the scene and are now tackling the blaze.


"All of our thoughts and prayers go to the families and friends of those who were killed in this senseless act of violence," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

"The contributions made by the fallen and injured officers in Webster will never be forgotten," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.

"As this investigation unfolds, we stand with our partners in law enforcement to ensure that lethal weapons are out of the hands of dangerous people, so that the brave New Yorkers who risk their lives every day to protect us are not exposed to additional danger," he added.

Also on Monday, a policeman was shot dead in the city of Houston, Texas after the driver of a car he pulled over opened fire on him.

The debate on gun violence in the US was rekindled earlier this month by the shootings at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, which left 20 children and six adults dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

It was one of the worst mass shootings in American history.

"There's a heightened awareness to this kind of violence in light of what happened in Connecticut," said Maggie Brooks, leader of the local administration in Monroe County, the area which includes Webster.

"We have first responders and we have families who are in pain and crisis today and we need to, as a community, keep them in our thoughts and prayers," Mrs Brooks said, adding that it was a "very, very difficult day".

President Obama has promised to push for action on gun control while the National Rifle Association (NRA) has called for armed security in all American schools.



source: ThinkProgress

Immediately after the suicide of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who police say murdered his girlfriend at their home before driving to the Chiefs’ practice facility and shooting himself in front of the team’s coach and general manager, thoughts turned to the role concussions and brain injuries may have played in the tragedy.
But during halftime of last night’s Sunday Night Football broadcast, NBC’s Bob Costas brought up another angle: the role guns, and our nation’s lax gun laws, played in the tragedy. After a brief introduction, Costas quoted Kansas City-based columnist Jason Whitlock, who wrote yesterday that he believed both Belcher and his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, would be alive today were it not for Belcher’s possession of a gun




Thomas "Tres" Caffall, the man who police say killed two people--including a Texas constable--in a shooting near the Texas A&M University campus on Monday was a "ticking time bomb," his stepfather says.
"He was crazy as hell," Richard Weaver, Caffall's stepfather, told KPRC-TV. "At one point, we were afraid that he was going to come up here and do something to his mother and me."
Caffall, 35, opened fire as the Brazos County constable, Brian Bachmann, was attempting to serve him an eviction notice, College Station police said. Officers responded to the off-campus house shortly after noon following reports of shots fired, and found the 41-year-old Bachmann on the ground.
Caffall was shot during what police described as a 30-minute "gun battle." Bachmann and Caffall were taken to College Station Medical Center, where they were pronounced dead.




Wed Aug 8, 2012 12:22am EDT


Scott Smith was likely trying to emulate the horrific Colorado shootings when he brought a gun, extra ammo, and several knives to a late night showing of The Dark Knight Rises. Luckily his performance was cut short when an observant manager and a security guard noticed him.

Off-duty Officer Jeremiah Bullins, that night's security guard, approached Smith in the Crocker Park, Ohio theater where he was sitting and asked to check his bag. Smith complied which is when Bullins saw the weaponry.

Smith was charged with crimes related to carrying the weapons, especially given his personal status.

Prosecutors are charging Smith with carrying a weapon under disability, reports WKYC. The claim is that his prescription medications prevent him from owning firearms under any circumstances.

If proven, Smith will be in trouble for owning the weapons, never mind carrying them into a theater.

But that's not the only charge against him. Smith is also charged with carrying a concealed weapon.

Ohio, like many states, has laws requiring gun owners to get a special permit to carry a concealed weapon. Even if Smith turns out to be a lawful gun owner, it does not appear that he has a permit to carry concealed weapons.

For states that require a permit for concealed weapons, any gun owner who does not have a permit must keep their guns in view at all times while carrying them in public. Several states ban concealed weapons entirely.

Theater personnel have been on high alert since James Holmes gunned-down movie goers last month. Scott Smith's foiled attempt is evidence that their efforts are not in vain.


(Reuters) - The white supremacist gunman who killed six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, the FBI said on Wednesday.

A police officer shot and wounded the gunman, Wade Page, 40, in the stomach outside the temple in Oak Creek on Sunday, said Teresa Carlson, an FBI special agent in charge.

"Subsequent to that wound, it appears that Page died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head," she told a news conference.

Police had said Page had been shot to death by an officer responding to the attack at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in suburban Milwaukee.

Carlson said she had seen a video of the police officer wounding Page with a squad rifle. "It's an amazing shot, and thank goodness," she said.

Federal authorities have said they are treating the attack as a possible act of domestic terrorism. Page, an Army veteran, was a musician who played in white power punk-metal bands. He was armed with a 9mm handgun during the attack.

Turban-wearing Sikhs are often mistaken for Muslims in the United States. The Sikh faith was founded in the Punjab area of India and Pakistan and has an estimated 500,000 or more adherents in the United States.

President Barack Obama called Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to express his condolences over the temple shooting.

Carlson said investigators had not found any motive for the attack, which also wounded four people, including a police officer shot eight or nine times after responding to a 911 call.

The wounded officer, Lieutenant Brian Murphy, is up and walking, Carlson said.

Investigators have conducted more than 100 interviews with Page's relatives, employers and associates, Carlson said. They are also following 101 leads worldwide and have issued 180 federal grand jury subpoenas.

Police have arrested Page's former girlfriend, Misty Cook, on a weapons charge. Carlson said the arrest took place at Cook's Milwaukee home late on Sunday and was unrelated to the shooting investigation.

Police said on Tuesday that a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm would be sought against Cook, 31. [ID:nL2E8J80OC] (Additional reporting by Paul Thomasch; writing by Ian Simpson; editing by Vicki Allen and Mohammad Zargham)



The White House gave a cool welcome on Monday to Democratic legislation that wouldeffectively ban online or mail-order purchases of ammunition in the aftermath of the mass shooting at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater.
"I haven't seen the specific piece of legislation that has been offered up today," spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at the daily press briefing. "But as that and other pieces of legislation make their way through the legislative process, we'll evaluate them."
The proposal, crafted by Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg and Democratic Representative Carolyn McCarthy, aims to restrict the ability of Americans to buy unlimited quantities of ammunition over the Internet, or by mail order, anonymously.
President Barack Obama has called for a common sense response to the slaughter in Aurora. But the White House has played down his appetite for new legislation as opposed to tightening or toughening existing measures—such as background checks—to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals or the mentally ill. And the president has underlined his support for the Second Amendment to the Constitution.
"He believes in the second amendment of the constitution, in the right to bear arms," Earnest said again Monday.  "But he also believes that we should take robust steps, within existing law, to ensure that guns don't fall in the hands of criminals or others who shouldn't have them.
The new legislation, dubbed the Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act,  rests on four pillars, according to Lautenberg's office:
It requires anyone selling ammunition to be a licensed dealer.
It requires ammunition buyers who are not licensed dealers to present photo identification at the time of purchase, effectively banning the online or mail order purchase of ammo by regular civilians.
It requires licensed ammunition dealers to maintain records of the sale of ammunition.
It requires licensed ammunition dealers to report the sale of more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition to an unlicensed person within any five consecutive business days.



Violent crime dropped in 2011, preliminary figures released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Monday show.
According to the FBI's "Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report," violent crimes fell 4 percent nationwide, part of a decade-plus decline in that category.
Murder was down about 2 percent, according to the FBI, while forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault all fell 4.0 percent when compared to 2010. But in towns with populations of less than 10,000, there was an 18.3 percent increase in murder in 2011. There was also a 0.6 percent increase in murder in the Midwest.
The FBI did not give reasons for the trends.
Property crimes declined about 1 percent. Arsonwhich is considered a property crime though counted separatelyfell 5 percent, the FBI said. The only overall rise in property crimes was burglary, which was up marginally.
Data for the report is collected by the bureau from participating state and federal law enforcement agencies. Final figures will be published this fall.





Gun sales in Colorado have spiked since last week's massacre, The Denver Post reports.
Background checks jumped more than 41 percent since Friday's shooting that left 12 dead and 58 injured during a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" at an Aurora movie theater. Over the weekend, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation approved background checks for 2,887 people who wanted to purchase a firearm, the Post said, an increase of 43 percent over the previous weekend.
"It's been insane," Jake Meyers, an employee at Rocky Mountain Guns and Ammo in Parker, Colo., told the paper.
Spikes in gun sales are not uncommon in the aftermath of mass shootings like the one in Colorado. Following the January 2011 shooting that killed six and wounded more than a dozen others—including former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords—in Tucson, sales of handguns soared more than 60 percent in the state, according to FBI data. Similar spikes were seen after the massacres at Virginia Tech and Columbine.

Some of those seeking to buy guns in Colorado over the weekend said they were seeking to arm themselves for protection in the wake of the shooting, according to the report. But many were likely fearful of a change in gun laws. Democratic state Rep. Rhonda Fields of Aurora told the paper she wants Congress to reinstate a ban on assault weapons.
"When something like this happens people get worried that the government is going to ban stuff," Greg Wolff, an Arizona gun shop owner, told Bloomberg.com after the rampage in Tucson.
They also get worried when a Democrat is about to take office. Before President Barack Obama's 2008 election, there was a spike in gun sales, and gun shop owners and manufacturers have reported similarly brisk buying in 2012.
"It's definitely the election year," Jason Hanson, a former CIA officer, told Fox News in March. "People feel that Obama will serve second term and with it their gun rights with taken away, so they are stocking up."

In December, the FBI reported a record number of background checks—1,534,414—sent by gun dealers. "Almost half a million checks were done in just the last six days before Christmas," according to CNN. In 2010, the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System received more than 14 million requests, more than in any other year.
James Holmes, the suspected shooter in Friday's massacre, was found with a military-style AR-15 assault rifle, two Glock .40-caliber pistols and a Remington 12-gauge shotgun when he was arrested outside the theater in Aurora. And like Jared Loughner, the accused killer in the Tucson massacre, Holmes purchased the guns legally.






CREDO Action | more than a network, a movement.
Dear Friend,
The shock and trauma from the images and stories from Aurora are still very much with us, and it is impossible to put into words the pain being felt by families and friends of the victims.
But that doesn't mean we shouldn't speak out. In the wake of this massacre, it's time to put aside politics and reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons.
After the news broke last Friday, President Barack Obama said that "there are going to be other days for politics, this I think is a day for prayer and reflection." Governor Mitt Romney said, "I stand before you today not as a man running for office, but as a father and grandfather, a husband, and American."1 Both of their campaigns asked networks to pull their negative advertisements.
The gestures from the two men who are running for President were welcome steps. But, we need more than sympathetic words. We need real leadership to start to address the senseless gun violence that holds our communities hostage.
One of the principal weapons used by the shooter in the horrific Aurora massacre was an AR-15 assault rifle.2 This weapon features a magazine that holds 100 rounds of bullets, and its trigger is capable of firing 50-60 rounds per minute.3
The federal assault weapons ban which was passed in 1994, banned the sale of guns like the AR-15.4 Unfortunately, that ban expired in 2004 as a result of fierce lobbying by the NRA. It's long past time to reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons like the AR-15.
CREDO members worked to pass the federal assault weapons ban in 1994. And we fought to stop its expiration in 2004. And we continue to advocate for a federal ban on assault weapons like the AR-15 used in the Aurora massacre.
Massacres on the scale of the tragedy in Aurora happen in part because our federal gun laws make it easy for civilians to obtain military-level firepower. We need to pass and enforce sensible federal gun laws restricting ready access for civilians to assault weapons. Reinstating a strong version of the federal ban on assault weapons known as the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act is where we should start.
We're not so naïve as to think that sensible gun laws are all that's needed to stop the killings. There are many things that need to change in American culture to stop the next Aurora-like massacre. But we do know one thing we should put at the top of the list — keeping military-level assault weapons like the AR-15 with a high capacity clip out of the hands of civilians. Click below to automatically sign the petition.
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id=43839-5154581-hC2Ah5x&t=10
Thank you for speaking out.
Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

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AURORA, Colo. (AP) — The University of Colorado said Sunday it was investigating whether shooting suspect James Holmes used his position as a graduate student to order materials in the potentially deadly booby traps that police said they found in his apartment.

Holmes, 24, got deliveries over four months to his home and school, authorities have said. The university is looking into what was received at the school to assist police with their investigation, said spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery.

The suspect was described as a budding scientist, brimming with potential, who pursued a graduate program even as he planned the attack with "calculation and deliberation," police said.


Investigators spent hours Saturday removing explosive materials from inside Holmes' apartment a day after police said he opened fire and set off gas canisters in a movie theater minutes into a premiere of the "The Dark Knight Rises." The massacre left 12 people dead and 58 injured.

His apartment was booby trapped with jars of liquids, explosives and chemicals that could have killed "whoever entered it," Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said, noting it would have likely been one of his officers.

Inside the apartment, bomb technicians neutralized a "hypergolic mixture" and an improvised explosive device containing an unknown substance, said James Yacone, an FBI special agent. There also were containers of accelerants, creating "an extremely dangerous environment," he said.

Oates said on CBS' "Face the Nation" that he had never seen a booby trap as elaborate as what was found in the apartment.

By late Saturday afternoon, all hazards had been removed from the apartment and residents in surrounding buildings were allowed to return home, police said.

The exception was Holmes' apartment building, where authorities were still collecting evidence. Authorities covered the windows of Holmes' apartment with black plastic to prevent anyone from seeing in. Before they did, a man in an ATF T-shirt could be seen measuring a poster on a closet that advertised a DVD called "Soldiers of Misfortune." The poster showed several figures in various positions playing paintball, some wearing masks.

Police left the apartment building carrying a laptop computer and a hard drive about 8 p.m. Saturday.
Holmes was in solitary confinement for his protection at a Denver-area county detention facility, held without bond on suspicion of multiple counts of first-degree murder. He was set for an initial hearing on Monday and has been appointed a public defender.

President Barack Obama was scheduled to travel to Colorado on Sunday to visit with the families of victims. The city of Aurora planned a vigil to remember the dead and wounded in the shooting later in the evening.
Among the dead was a 6-year-old girl and a man who died on his 27th birthday and a day before his wedding anniversary. Families grieved and waited at hospitals, with police reporting 11 people still in critical condition as of Saturday.

While authorities continued to refuse to discuss a possible motive for one of the deadliest mass shootings in recent U.S. history, details about Holmes' background as a student and would-be scientist trickled out.
Holmes had recently withdrawn from the competitive graduate program in neuroscience at the University of Colorado Denver, where he was one of six pre-thesis Ph.D. students at its Neuroscience Program to be funded by a prestigious grant from the National Institutes of Health. The program of 35 students is dedicated to training outstanding neuroscientists and academicians who will make significant contributions to neurobiology, the university said in a statement.

In the first year of the five- to seven-year program, students take classes and complete three, three-month research rotations in the labs of different professors.

Professors who worked with him either did not return calls or declined to comment, saying police and university officials had told them not to speak to the media.

At one point in the year, Holmes was engaged in research about RNA and was to present a paper May 8 about RNA Biomarkers, according to a class schedule. It was unclear if he presented the paper.
Holmes recently took an intense, three-part oral exam that marks the end of the first year. Those who do well continue with their studies and shift to full-time research, while those who don't do well meet with advisers and discuss their options, including retaking the exam.

University officials would not say if he passed, citing privacy concerns.
The university said Holmes gave no reason for his withdrawal, a decision he made in June.
"The focus of the program is on training outstanding neuroscientists and academicians who will make significant contributions to neurobiology," the university said. The doctoral program usually takes five to seven years to complete, it said.

Holmes was not allowed access from the institution after his withdrawal, which was "standard operating procedure" because he was no longer affiliated with the school, Montgomery said. Holmes had no contact with university police, she said.

In a resume posted on Monster.com, Holmes listed himself as an "aspiring scientist" and said he was looking for a job as a laboratory technician.

The resume, first obtained in Holmes' home state of California by The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, paints a picture of a brilliant young man brimming with potential: He worked as a summer intern at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla in 2006 and mapped the neurons of Zebra finches and studied the flight muscles of hummingbirds while an undergraduate at the University of California, Riverside.

He also worked as a cabin counselor to underprivileged children at a summer camp in Los Angeles in 2008. In a statement, Camp Max Straus confirmed Holmes had worked there for eight weeks. The camp provided no other details about Holmes but said such counselors are generally responsible for the care and guidance of roughly 10 children.

Ritchie Duong, a friend who has known Holmes for more than a decade, told the Los Angeles Times that in high school he liked to play cards and video games. They both attended undergraduate school at the University of California, Riverside, where they saw each other once a week to watch the TV show "Lost."
Duong last saw Holmes in December when they met for dinner in Los Angeles and saw a movie together. His friend seemed fine, he told the newspaper.
Academics came easily to Holmes both at high school and at the UC Riverside, Duong said.
"I had one college class with him, and he didn't even have to take notes or anything. He would just show up to class, sit there, and around test time he would always get an 'A,'" said Duong, 24.
During the attack early Friday, Holmes used the military-style semiautomatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol to open fire on the unsuspecting theater-goers, Oates said. Holmes had bought the weapons at local gun stores within the past two months. He recently purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the Internet, the chief said.

The semiautomatic assault rifle used by the gunman jammed during the attack, a federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press, which forced the shooter to switch to another gun with less fire power.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to in order to discuss the investigation, said the disabled weapon had a high-capacity ammunition magazine. Police have said that a 100-round drum magazine was recovered at the scene and that such a device would be able to fire 50 to 60 rounds a minute.

Holmes also bought an urban assault vest, two magazine holders and a knife for just over $300 on July 2 from an online supplier of tactical gear for police and military personnel, according to the company.
Chad Weinman, CEO of TacticalGear.com, said his company processes thousands of orders each day, and there was nothing unusual in the one that Holmes placed.

The Batman movie, the last in the trilogy starring Christian Bale, opened worldwide Friday with midnight showings in the U.S. "The Dark Knight Rises" earned $30.6 million in the midnight screenings, and, according to industry estimates, roughly $75 million on that day as a whole. That put it on track for a weekend total of around $165 million, which would be the second-highest opening weekend ever, following "The Avengers."

The shooting was the worst in the U.S. since the Nov. 5, 2009, attack at Fort Hood, Texas. An Army psychiatrist was charged with killing 13 soldiers and civilians and wounding more than two dozen others.
Across the street from the movie theater, a man who placed 15 crosses near Columbine High School after a 1999 massacre there has returned to Colorado with 12 crosses for the victims of Friday's shooting.
Greg Zanis, of Aurora, Ill., began putting up the 3 1/2-foot-tall crosses Sunday on a hill across the street from the Century 16 theater.
___

Associated Press contributors to this report include Mead Gruver, Thomas Piepert, Kristen Wyatt, Steven K. Paulson, Ivan Moreno, P. Solomon Banda and Gillian Flaccus in Aurora; Dan Elliott, Colleen Slevin in Denver; AP Entertainment Writer Jake Coyle in New York; M.L. Johnson in Chicago; Brian Skoloff in Salt Lake City; Monika Mathur and Jennifer Farrar at News Research Center in New York; and Eileen Sullivan in Washington.




Twelve people were killed and 59 were injured in Aurora, Colo., during a sold-out midnight premier of the new Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises" when 24-year-old James Holmes unloaded four weapons' full of ammunition into the unsuspecting crowd.
The number of casualties makes the incident the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Holmes, a graduate student at a nearby college with a clean arrest record, entered the movie auditorium wearing a ballistics helmet, bullet-proof vest, bullet-proof leggings, gas mask and gloves. He detonated multiple smoke bombs, and then began firing at viewers in the sold-out auditorium, police said today.

Bullets from the spree tore through the theater and into adjoining theaters, where at least one other person was struck and injured. Ten members of "The Dark Knight Rises" audience were killed in theater, while two others died later at area hospitals. Numerous patrons were in critical condition at six local hospitals, the Aurora police said this afternoon.

Holmes was apprehended within minutes of the 12:39 a.m. shooting at his car behind the theater, where police found him in full riot gear and carrying three weapons, including a AR-15 assault rifle, which can hold upwards of 100 rounds, a Remington 12 gauge shot gun, and a .40 Glock handgun. A fourth handgun was found in the vehicle. Agents from the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms are tracing the weapons.

According to police sources, Holmes told the officers arresting him that he was "The Joker," referring to the villain in the second installment of the Batman movie trilogy, "The Dark Knight." He also warned police that he had booby-trapped his apartment, leading officers to evacuate the Aurora apartment building.

Police Chief Dan Oates said today that police and bomb squads have found a large number of explosive devices and trip wires at Holmes' apartment and have not yet decided how to proceed without setting off explosions.

"The pictures we have from inside the apartment are pretty disturbing considering how elaborate the apartment is booby trapped," police said outside of the apartment complex today. The "flammable and explosive" materials could have blown up Holmes' apartment building and the ones near it, police said.

The apartment complex is home exclusively to University of Colorado Medical Center students, patients, and staff members, residents tell ABC News.
Moviegoer Christopher Ramos today recalled the real-life horror of the midnight premiere of the latest Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises," in Aurora, Colo., as a gunman decked in riot gear set off smoke bombs and opened fire on the unsuspecting audience.

"People were running everywhere, running on top of me, like kicking me, jumping over me. And there were bodies on the ground," Ramos said. "I froze up. I was scared. I honestly thought I was going to die."

"The image in our heads is stuck in there. I still have the ticket right here and honestly, I'm never going to forget this night at all. Because it was the first time I saw something that was real. Like a real-life nightmare that was there, not dreaming of," Ramos told ABC News today.

Witnesses in the movie theater said Holmes saw smoke and heard gunshots that they thought were part of the movie until they saw Holmes standing in front of the screen, after entering from an emergency exit. Holmes methodically stalked the aisles of the theater, shooting people at random, as panicked movie-watchers in the packed auditorium tried to escape, witnesses said.

At one point the shooter exited the theater only to wait outside the doors and pick off patrons as they tried to exit, witness Jennifer Seeger told "Good Afternoon America."

"You just smelled smoke and you just kept hearing it, you just heard bam bam bam, non-stop. The gunman never had to reload. Shots just kept going, kept going, kept going," one witness told ABC News.

"I'm with coworkers and we're on the floor praying to God we don't get shot, and the gunshots continue on and on, and when the sound finally stopped, we started to get up and people were just bleeding," another theatergoer said.

The suspected shooter will face his first court appearance next week, according to district attorney Carol Chambers.

Holmes, originally of San Diego, moved to Aurora to pursue his Ph.D. at the University of Colorado medical center, living just blocks from the hospital in an apartment that police say is now laced with explosives and being searched by HazMat teams.

Federal law enforcement sources tell ABC News that Holmes bought a ticket to the movie, slipped out of the theater once it began and propped open the emergency exit before gathering his weapons and gear and coming back into the theater. Once inside, he opened fire.

A San Diego woman identifying herself as James Holmes's mother spoke briefly with ABC News this morning.

She had awoken unaware of the news of the shooting and had not been contacted by authorities. She immediately expressed concern that her son may have been involved.
"You have the right person," she said.

"I need to call the police," she added. "I need to fly out to Colorado."
The woman and her husband later released a statement saying their "hearts go out to those who involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved. We are still trying to process this information and we appreciate that people will respect our privacy."

The highly-anticipated third installment of the Batman trilogy opened to packed auditoriums around the country at midnight showings on Friday morning, and features a villain named Bane who wears a bulletproof vest and gas mask. Trailers for the movie show explosions at public events including a football game. Though many moviegoers dressed in costume to attend the opening night screening, police have made no statements about any connection between the gunman's motives and the movie.
Read More: NRA Deletes Tweet After Shooting

Police in New York have intensified security around showings of the film throughout the five boroughs today, with Police Commissioner Ray Kelley saying that "as a precaution against copycats and to raise the comfort levels among movie patrons in the wake of the horrendous shooting in Colorado, the New York City Police Department is providing coverage at theaters where the 'The Dark Knight Rises' is playing."

The Paris premiere of the movie has been cancelled in the wake of the shootings. "Warner Bros. and the filmmakers are deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident. We extend our sincere sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims at this tragic time," the movie's producers said in a statement.

Witnesses watching movies in theaters next to the one where the shooting took place said bullets tore through the theater walls and they heard screaming.
Read More: Obama and Romney Respond to Shooting

"The suspect throws tear gas in the air, and as the tear gas appears he started shooting," said Lamar Lane, who was watching the midnight showing of the movie with his brother. "It was very hard to breathe. I told my brother to take cover. It took awhile. I started seeing flashes and screaming, I just saw blood and people yelling and a quick glimpse of the guy who had a gas mask on. I was pushed out. There was chaos, we started running."

One witness said she saw people dropping to the ground after the gunshots began.
"We were maybe 20 or 30 minutes into the movie and all you hear, first you smell smoke, everybody thought it was fireworks or something like that, and then you just see people dropping and the gunshots are constant," witness Christ Jones told ABC's Denver affiliate KMGH. "I heard at least 20 to 30 rounds within that minute or two."
A man who talked to a couple who was inside the theater told ABC News, "They got up and they started to run through the emergency exit, and that when she turned around, she said all she saw was the guy slowly making his way up the stairs and just firing at people, just picking random people," he said. "The gunshots continued to go on and on and then after we didn't hear anything...we finally got up and there was people bleeding, there was people obviously may have been actually dead or anything, and we just ran up out of there, there was chaos everywhere."

Witnesses and victims were taken to Gateway High School for questioning.
Hundreds of police and FBI agents are involved in the investigation. A senior official who is monitoring the situation in Washington said that early guidance based on the early snapshot of this man's background indicated that this act does not appear to be linked to radical terrorism or anything related to Islamic terrorism.

Dr. Comilla Sasson, at the University of Colorado Hospital where many of the victims were taken, said they are currently operating on nine critical patients and have treated 22 in all. She called the hospital "an absolutely terrifying scene all night."

"The good news is that the 3-month-old has actually been discharged home and is in the care of their parents

In a statement, President Obama said, "Michelle and I are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado. Federal and local law enforcement are still responding, and my administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time. We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded."


The American Rifleman, the official journal of the National Rifle Association, has deleted a tweet that appeared to make light of Friday's shootings in Aurora, Colo., during a midnight screening of "Dark Knight Rises."
"Good morning, shooters," the message, published at 9:20 a.m. ET on the American Rifleman's Twitter feed, read. "Happy Friday! Weekend plans?"

Not surprisingly, the tweet sparked considerable outrage, with hundreds of users--including Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann--pointing their followers to it.
The American Rifleman deleted the tweet several hours later but has yet to issue a formal apology.

It's unclear whether the tweet was intentionally insensitive, or if the magazine's tweeter was unaware of the shootings that left 12 dead and 50 wounded.
"Is there a way they wrote this without seeing the news?" Audrey Wauchope asked on Twitter.

"This is what happens when you don't read the news," the Columbia Journalism Review said.

In a statement to CNN, a spokesman for the NRA said that "a single individual, unaware of events in Colorado, tweeted a comment that is being completely taken out of context."

The NRA wasn't alone in appearing insensitive to the tragedy.

CelebBoutique.com--"the online boutique loved by your fave celebs"--took the "Aurora" trending topic as an opportunity to promote its Kim Kardashian-inspired dress


Violence like the massacre that happened in Aurora, Colo., today is a staple of action films, including Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. A similar, now haunting, scene unfurls in "The Dark Knight Rises" when a masked villain leads a violent gang into a packed football stadium and deploys guns and explosives on the unsuspecting crowd.

While there has been no indication as to the motives of James Holmes, the suspected 24-year-old shooter who is now in custody, new evidence suggests that he was inspired by the Batman series of comic books and/or movies.

Law enforcement sources confirmed to ABC News that Holmes said "I am the Joker" when apprehended by authorities. His hair was painted red, the same hair color of Heath Ledger's Joker at one point in 2008's "The Dark Knight."

There are more parallels. In Frank Miller's iconic 1986 comic book series, "The Dark Knight Returns," the Joker murders a television studio audience by deploying "smile gas." Holmes began his massacre by setting off smoke bombs throughout the theater.

In the same book, Arnold Crimp, a disturbed man who just lost his job, pulls out a handgun in an adult film theater and kills three people. A scene from the strip shows a news anchor saying, "Three slain in Batman-inspired porn theater shoot-out."

Seventy-one people were shot during today's early morning massacre; 12 have died.


Christopher Irving, author of "Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics," cautioned against blaming an iconic, fictional character for today's tragedy.

"There have been thousands of Batman stories published, and I don't think pinning a specific comic book story to the tragic happenings as an inspiration is fair, or likely anything beyond a sad coincidence," he said.





Texas ‘stand your ground’ shooter headed to prison

A Texas man convicted of shooting and killing his unarmed neighbor during a dispute over loud music received a 40-year prison sentence on Wednesday.
Raul Rodriguez, 47, faced a minimum of five years and a maximum of life in prison.  He claimed he shot schoolteacher Kelly Danaher in self-defense under Texas' version of the "stand your ground" law.
But prosecutors argued Rodriguez provoked the incident by confronting Danaher, 36, and his friends with a handgun and demanding they quiet down at a late-night birthday party in May 2010.
The Houston case captured more attention in the wake of Trayvon Martin's death in Florida. There, George Zimmerman says he was being attacked and cited the state's "stand your ground" law after shooting the unarmed teen. But prosecutors charged him with second-degree murder.
Two dozen states reportedly now allow citizens to stand their ground even outside their home. The specifics vary by state, but generally justify a person not retreating and using deadly force when a threat is perceived.
As in Florida, Texas law includes public areas, "if a person has a right to be present at a location where force is used."
But veteran attorney Andy Drumheller told Yahoo News that the Houston jury appeared to draw a line with Rodriguez leaving his home and going down the street.
"The law is not designed to create this bubble that you can carry with you everywhere you go," said Drumheller, a former prosecutor now practicing criminal defense in Houston. "The jury's verdict is a cautionary statement on the limits of this defense."
The Rodriguez case is also unique because the former firefighter was recording video during much of the ordeal.
Rodriguez, who had been calling police about the loud party, dialed 911 again as both sides shouted at each other near Danaher's dark driveway.
"Tell you what, pal, you just pulled a gun on the wrong [expletive], OK?" one of the partygoers is heard telling Rodriguez on the home video.
Seconds later the partygoer warns, "When I go in that house and I come back, don't think I won't be equal to you, baby."
Rodriguez, who told police he suspected the men were drunk, tells the 911 operator that he's scared and will defend himself, if needed.
"I don't want to do this, and it all started over them playing their music real loud … it's about to get out of hand, Sir. Please help me. "
Seconds later, he says, "I'm standing my ground here, now these people are going to try and kill me."
The video is dark when Danaher and two other men apparently lunged toward him, laughing loudly. Rodriguez fired his gun, killing Danaher and injuring two others.
In lobbying jurors for a lenient sentence, defense attorney Bill Stradley blamed the tragedy on his client's misunderstanding of the state's "stand your ground" law. Something he predicts will happen with other Texas gun owners in the future.
"And they will find themselves, like Raul Rodriguez, charged with murder," said Stradley, according to the Houston Chronicle.
"Raul believed he had a right to be where he was. But he had two seconds to make that call, to pull that trigger."

Death sentence handed down in Tucson against Shawna Forde, a resident of Washington State who headed the Minutemen American Defense group. She was convicted Feb. 14 of first-degree murder for orchestrating the killings of Brisenia and Raul Junior Flores of Arivaca, Ariz., a small community just north of the Mexican border.

“I think that the nation as a whole sees us as the wild, wild West, that things like that are going to be OK with us,” says Angie Thomas, who sat on the jury. “And they’re not.”

The case has drawn back the curtain to reveal the dark side of the debate raging in Arizona over illegal immigration.

Ms. Thomas and fellow jurors were told during the trial that Ms. Forde and accomplices gained entry to the Flores home with the expectation of finding drugs there, which could be sold to finance Minutemen American Defense's border-control operations. Finding no drugs, the intruders made away with inexpensive jewelry but, prosecutors said, not before fatally shooting young Brisenia and Mr. Flores. Both victims were American citizens born in the US.

“I see Shawna Forde as someone who would have liked to have been the face of a movement,” Thomas says.

Arriving at the death sentence was difficult, Thomas says, but it was aided by a picture of Brisenia presented during trial that was etched in her mind: “A little girl, with bright red fingernails; she’s wearing a white T-shirt and turquoise-colored pajama bottoms. She’s on a love seat. It’s a perfect, innocent picture until you realize that half of her face has been blown off.”

Brisenia’s mother and Mr. Flores’s wife, Gina Gonzalez, was wounded during the shooting but survived. She testified that her daughter was shot point-blank as the girl pleaded for her life.


The 9/11 terrorist attacks and the lawlessness that followed Hurricanes Katrina and Ivan left people feeling unsafe. Prodded by the National Rifle Association, under its first female president Marion Hammer, Florida launched the "stand your ground" movement in 2005.

The fatal encounter between a 17-year-old black teenager and a mixed-race neighborhood watch volunteer has created a furor over "stand your ground" laws, which have been enacted in more than 20 states; legislation is pending in others. That Florida, the epicenter of the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case, was the first to pass the law in 2005 adds to the debate. But for George Zimmerman, this defense might not even apply, according to some legal experts.

Regardless, the case has led to legislators second-guessing the law—including the men who sponsored and signed the Florida bill, and major businesses are backpedaling from a lobby group that has helped promote the defense.

Is "stand your ground" actually relevant to George Zimmerman? In terms of legal defense, maybe not. "Stand your ground" is an expansion on the so-called Castle Doctrine, the right to defend one's homestead. Instead of defending yourself on your own personal property, though, "stand your ground" lets you carry that immunity into public property, which can include places of business, like a bar.

I don't think based upon Zimmerman's explanation to the police that he has a valid Stand Your Ground claim. He's not saying that he was assaulted frontally and then made a decision not to retreat because he thought he had to use deadly force.

He's basically saying old-fashioned self-defense: I was struck, I was knocked down, I was on the ground, and I had to physically defend myself. There's nothing added to his claim by the Stand Your Ground law, and I would love to have legislatures around the country look at it and say, you know, this worked for 220 years and we don't need to add anything to it. If you've got a right of self-defense, great. And if you don't have a right to defend yourself, if you think it's OK to shoot somebody because their dog pooped on your lawn, then we don't agree with that, and it's a crime. (Former assistant state attorney (Florida) Abe Laser, April 12, "Talk of the Nation," NPR)

Supporters such as former Republican senator Durell Peaden and Rep. Dennis Baxley, who co-sponsored the bill, or former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who signed the bill into law, have said Zimmerman lost his right to this defense when he sought out Martin. Bush stated that "Stand your ground means stand your ground. It doesn't mean chase after somebody who's turned their back."

But since the law may be confusing to enforcement—the controversy blew up when Sanford police declined to make an arrest—it has bolstered critics ranging from State Senator Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to call for widespread reform.

Who makes the decision? Rather than ask how relevant "stand your ground" is in the Martin-Zimmerman case, the real question may be who makes the decisions in the first place. The Sanford city manager claimed that the law "prohibited" police from making an arrest. Should police make the arrest and leave it to the district attorney to bring charges, as would happen in self-defense cases? Should such cases appear before a judge? Does a jury make the call?






The mother of a 15-year-old boy with autism who was fatally shot by police in his home Wednesday is facing off with suburban Chicago police officers who say the officer acted appropriately.

Stephon Watts, 15, who was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome when he was 9, had had 10 previous interactions with Calumet City, Ill. police in the last two years, including at least one where police discharged Tasers to subdue him, the Chicago Tribune reports. Watts' father called the police Wednesday after arguing with his son, who didn't want to go to school, having been instructed by social workers that Watts should be handled by authorities when agitated.

Asperger's syndrome interferes with social skills, but sufferers often have normal to high intelligence. Police say they found Watts armed with a knife in the basement of his parents' home, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. When one officer sustained a defensive wound to his left forearm, two other officers on the scene fired their weapons. Steven Watts, Stephon's father, says his son was shot once in the leg, and then again in the head.




(Reuters) - Two men suspected of killing three people and wounding two others in Tulsa, Oklahoma, during the weekend were ordered held on bail of more than $9 million each in their first court appearance Monday morning, according to local media.

Roommates Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32, were arrested early Sunday.

Authorities are charging both men with three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of shooting with intent to kill and a single complaint of possession of a firearm while committing a felony, the Tulsa World reported on its website.

Shortly before the killings, which took place on Friday, England had lamented on his Facebook page that two years had passed since his father was killed by a black man, who he referred to with a racial slur.

The victims of the killings were black while England and Watts are white. Harris said hate crime charges would be considered if the evidence supported it.


The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has called for an immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Pillay said she was shocked the gunman, George Zimmerman, was not arrested. She also expressed concern about Florida’s "Stand Your Ground" law, which allows the use of deadly force in situations where there is a belief of a threat.



Trayvon Martin’s family wants federal scrutiny of the case to extend to the actions of a state prosecutor who declined to press charges

By Michael Vasquez
mrvasquez@MiamiHerald.com

The former prosecutor assigned to the Trayvon Martin case participated in a “suspicious” meeting with police on the night of the disputed shooting, Martin’s family alleged on Monday.

In a letter sent to sent to the U.S. Department of Justice — which is already reviewing Trayvon’s Feb. 26 death — Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump accused State Attorney Norm Wolfinger of holding a meeting with Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee just hours after Martin had been killed. It was in that meeting, Crump wrote, that the two men “disregarded the lead homicide investigator’s recommendation to arrest George Zimmerman for manslaughter.”

Wolfinger’s response to this new allegation was fast and forceful: the prosecutor insisted that “no such meeting or communication occurred,” and he blasted the Martin family’s letter as “outright lies.”

“I have been encouraging those spreading the irresponsible rhetoric to stop,” Wolfinger said in a written statement.

Crump also addressed an police surveillance videotape of Zimmerman arriving at the Sanford Police station - a video that ABC News said it enhanced for improved quality. The enhanced video shows what appear to be injuries to the back of Zimmerman’s head.

Even if Zimmerman was injured in a scuffle with Trayvon, “is that enough to justify killing an unarmed teen?” Crump said.

Prior to Monday’s letter by the Martin family, the Department of Justice had already started an investigation into Trayvon’s death. But this new letter revealed the family wants federal scrutiny to extend beyond the circumstances of the teen’s death, and into the actions of Wolfinger, who two weeks ago recused himself from the case.

In the early aftermath of the shooting, Sanford’s Police Chief Bill Lee defended Zimmerman’s actions, but it has become clear in recent days that Sanford investigators closer to the ground wanted to press charges.

Crump, the Martin family attorney, wrote in Monday’s letter that the lead homicide investigator in the case, Chris Serino, has in fact signed an affidavit documenting his opinion that Zimmerman should be arrested on manslaughter charges.







Trayvon, of Miami Gardens, was visiting his father’s girlfriend, who lives in the Retreat at Twin Lakes gated community, a newer, multi-ethnic development about five miles away from the old historic part of town.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/26/2730089/sanfords-image-take-a-blow-against.html#moreb#storylink=cpy

YouTube comments:

  • They already said he DID NOT live there. He had jumped the fence. Call me what you will but what I say is right. If a race war breaks out you will be hiding just as cowards do. Sit around on a computer talking shit and then it happens. People killing people all around you, where would you go and what would you do? I found a woman that 2 black guys stabbed, beat and set on fire. That didn't make national headlines because she was? WHITE. MENTAL MIDGET would better describe you. Uninformed as well
  • If you attack someone chances are you? will be shot. SHUT UP and stop trying to cause more shit by calling out the white race. Where will you be if they start a race war? hiding somewhere blaming the white race begging someone to protect you. News flash smartass. If you are white the blacks will be trying to kill you as well. GOOD GOD get a brain
  • If they are suspected of breaking the law by trespassing it is not called stalking you idiot. You do realized that? treyvon stood 6' 3"? That is not a little guy. At least know something of what you are talking about BEFORE attacking people on here. Don't make yourself look any dumber than you are on certain subjects. Defending someone that was breaking the law and attacking a person watching over other peoples property means you get shot. THAT'S THE BOTTOM LINE






Even if Treyvon fought to defend himself he? is still on the right.

Tensions between police in Sanford, Fla., and the black community were already strained before the shooting of Trayvon Martin.








Calls to 911

"It's easy to label this as an act of white racism, but it's really an act of stereotyping, which many groups are capable of and it is occurring in the context of extraordinarily permissive laws," said Manuel Pastor, a professor of American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California.

On Twitter, there was genuine confusion about Zimmerman's race. Is he Latino or white? Is Hispanic a race, or not? Shouldn't he, a Latino, have known better than to engage in racial profiling? Might he be Jewish, based on his last name? Many said his Hispanic lineage had nothing to do with the fact that the justice system had failed Martin, while some said Zimmerman's identity was very important.

"I'm actually happy that George Zimmerman is Hispanic so the usual white people are all guilty by virtue of their skin color stuff won't work," said a March 22 tweet by John Hawkins, who described himself as a professional blogger at Right Wing News.

Hispanic people can be black, white, Asian or mixed. Some 18 million Latinos checked the "some other race" category on their 2010 Census forms – which admonished in bold letters that Hispanic is not a race. So many Hispanics identified themselves as white, the overall number of white people in the United States increased.

"We sit in this in between place in the United States. In the U.S., when we think about race, it's usually black and white. ... Latinos complicate that dichotomy," said Cynthia Duarte, associate director of research for the Institute of Latino Studies at Notre Dame.

On voter registration forms, George Zimmerman identified himself as Hispanic, as did his mother. His father, Robert, listed himself as white on voter registration forms. Zimmerman's mother, Gladys, is originally from Peru.

Ethnicities in Peru run the gamut. Descendants of the original people or Amerindians of Peru, those who were under rule of the Inca empire, are the largest ethnic group, followed by those who are a mix of Spanish and Amerindian ancestry, also known as mestizos. Whites are about 15 percent of the population, followed by blacks, Asians and other groups. Class distinctions based on race and language persist in Peru, with whites at the top of the societal hierarchy and indigenous people often at the bottom, a vestige of Spanish colonialism.

Neither Zimmerman nor his family members were available to comment about their family history. Beyond what's in the police report, Zimmerman has yet to give his side of what happened the night of Feb. 26, when he called police to say he was following a "suspicious" person he believed was on drugs, while Martin, wearing a hooded sweat shirt, walked through the gated Sanford, Fla., townhome community where Zimmerman lives. Police have not charged Zimmerman, who told them he shot Martin in self-defense, something considered justified homicide under Florida's "stand your ground law."

George Zimmerman's father, Robert Zimmerman, appeared on an Orlando-area news broadcast to defend his son, and told a reporter that Trayvon Martin said to his son: "you're going to die tonight."


Zimmerman's father outlined the scuffle that was part of Zimmerman's report to the police, which was made public yesterday. The threat the elder Zimmerman attributes to Martin did not appear in that report.

Zimmerman told police that on the night of the shooting that a fight began after Martin sucker-punched him, climbed on top of him, and repeatedly banged his head into the ground.

"After nearly a minute of being beaten, George was trying to get his head off the concrete, trying to move with Trayvon on him into the grass. In doing so, his firearm was shown. Trayvon Martin said something to the effect of 'you're going to die now or you're going to die tonight,' something to that effect. He continued to beat George and at some point, George pulled his pistol and did what he did."

According to Tampa Bay Fox affiliate WTVT-TV, what the witness says he saw could bolster Zimmerman’s claim that he shot Martin in self-defense:

“The guy on the bottom who had a red sweater on was yelling to me: ‘help, help…and I told him to stop and I was calling 911,” he said.

Trayvon Martin was in a hoodie; Zimmerman was in red.

The witness only wanted to be identified as “John,” and didn’t not want to be shown on camera.

His statements to police were instrumental, because police backed up Zimmerman’s claims, saying those screams on the 911 call are those of Zimmerman.

“When I got upstairs and looked down, the guy who was on top beating up the other guy, was the one laying in the grass, and I believe he was dead at that point,” John said.

On Friday night, Zimmerman attorney Craig Sonner appeared on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” and said he client sustained a broken nose and a head laceration on the night of the incident.

“His nose was broken, he sustained injury to his nose and on the back of his head he sustained a cut that was serious enough that probably should have had stitches…it was an injury that was done by Trayvon Martin,” Sonner said.

When police approached Trayvon's body on the grassy path between the townhouse back porches, they found no I.D. on him. Police ran his fingerprints, but found no record that would help identify him.

When he didn't return back to the townhouse, there would be another 12 hours before Tracy Martin found out his son was dead.

"I started making calls to see if he was arrested," he said.

Calls to 911 led him to missing persons, where he left a description of his son. Soon a marked patrol car followed by detectives arrived at Green's rented townhouse.

"It was drizzling a bit, I said, 'lets go in the house.' He [the detective] pulled out a card and said he was from major crimes. Then he said he wasn't sure, he had sketchy details, but there was an altercation, and Trayvon was shot once in the chest."

The special prosecutor in the Trayvon Martin case said that the Sanford Police Department asked the state attorney's office for an arrest warrant to charge George Zimmerman early in the investigation, but the state's attorney's office decided to wait.

The Miami Herald reported that the local police initially went to the Seminole State Attorney with a request to file charges and the police report labeled the case as "homicide/negligent manslaughter."

"The state attorney impaneled a grand jury, but before anything else could be done, the governor stepped in and asked us to pick it up in mid-stream," Angela Corey, the special prosecutor on the case said.

Chris Serino, the lead detective on the case, expressed doubts around Zimmerman's account of the shooting, according to ABC News. Serino filed an affidavit on the night of the shooting in which he said that he was unconvinced of Zimmerman's version of events.

"I never foresaw so much hate coming from the president, the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP," he said. "Every organization imaginable is trying to get some notoriety or profit from this some way. But there's so much hate. I've never been involved in hate and George hasn't. It's really unbelievable."

"I just hope at one point, they're willing to go beyond the hate that they have."

But Robert Zimmerman's detailing of the altercation between his son and Martin aired the same night that ABC News broadcast police surveillance video showing Zimmerman the night of the shooting which seems to contradict his son's story. A handcuffed Zimmerman is shown being led by police into the station, and he has no visible injuries or blood stains on his body.

Before George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin on February 26, a 911 call recorded the voice of someone screaming. Whether that person was Martin or Zimmerman -- who police say claimed he was attacked by Martin before the fatal incident -- has been an open question since the calls were released by the Sanford, Florida police department.

Also, it’s important keep in mind that all of this footage was taken after Zimmerman received treatment from an EMS team at the scene.

I would presume that in a fight as severe as the one described by Zimmerman, the injuries would have to be substantial. One would expect to see Zimmerman with an obviously broken nose, facial abrasions and head bandages, but we aren’t seeing any of that yet.

Much of what I’ve written has centered around the narrative that Zimmerman was in a situation where he was being pinned down and severely beaten by Trayvon Martin. Those were his statements, they have been supported by at least one witness, and especially by his voice screaming for help on 911 recordings.

If Zimmerman was not injured badly enough for it to be obvious on police station tapes, why was he screaming bloody murder on the 911 calls?

Reports from the EMS team who treated him at the crime scene and other medical personnel will be critical in deciding how injurious this attack really was, and whether Zimmerman’s reaction can be considered appropriate.

Let’s hope someone in Sanford was competent enough to have documented Zimmerman’s injuries properly.


The Orlando Sentinel consulted two voice experts to try to settle the debate
, and both came to the same conclusion: The cries could not have come from George Zimmerman.

Yesterday, the special prosecutor in the case said that police at the scene requested a warrant for Zimmerman's arrest, but were rebuffed and told to wait.



In the video, apparently taken by surveillance cameras outside and inside the police station, Zimmerman’s face and head are clearly visible and show no injuries consistent with the kind of fight Zimmerman's statement described.

Zimmerman, 28, the neighborhood watch captain at the Retreat at Twin Lakes gated community, is seen arriving in a police cruiser. He gets out of the car with his hands cuffed behind his back. Zimmerman is clean-shaven and appears several pounds lighter than in ubiquitous mug shot of him taken in 2005 when he was arrested on a charge of assaulting a police officer.

The video’s release comes amid shifting public perception of Martin, whose baby-faced image has become the face of the so-called “Trayvon Martin movement for Justice” that has captivated much of the U.S. Earlier this week, school officials in Miami released Martin’s disciplinary record, showing that he had been on a 10-day suspension when he was killed. According to reports, school officials found an empty baggy that contained marijuana residue. Meanwhile, some websites have replaced widely circulated family photos of Martin with pictures of him sporting removable gold tooth caps. Other websites have picked seemingly random photos of other youth in questionable or offensive poses and claimed that they are of Martin.

Martin’s family has called the counter-offensive an assault on Martin’s character and a “smear campaign.” Tracy Martin, the teen's father, told HuffPost earlier this week, “I refuse to let them assassinate my son’s character." He added: "The question should not be why was he suspended from school, it should be why did this man kill him in cold blood."

Zimmerman shot Martin to death the night of Feb. 26. Martin had been walking toward his father's girlfriend's house shortly after 7 p.m. and Zimmerman spotted him and called 911 to report a "suspicious" person. Zimmerman followed Martin, disregarding a police dispatcher who told him "we don't need you to do that." Police said early in the investigation that Martin noticed he was being followed, asked Zimmerman what he wanted, and a physical encounter ensued.

In the recently released police reports, Zimmerman told police he got out of his vehicle to follow Martin, but lost sight of him. As he walked back to his vehicle, Martin attacked him from behind, punched him in the nose, knocked him down and began smashing the back of his head into the sidewalk, police reports say Zimmerman told officers. During the tussle, Zimmerman pulled the 9 mm handgun he carried and shot Martin in the chest, he told police.

Lawyers for the Martin family said Zimmerman was the aggressor. The lawyers said Martin's girlfriend in Miami was on the phone with him just moments before he was killed. The girlfriend has told ABC News and family lawyers that Martin told her someone was following him. She said she heard someone ask Martin something, then what sounded like someone pushing him. The phone sounded like it was then knocked to the ground and went dead, the girl said.



The funeral director who handled Martin's funeral said there were no cuts or bruises on the teen's hands that would suggest a violent struggle or fight.

“I didn’t see any evidence he had been fighting anybody,” Richard Kurtz of Roy Mizell and Kurtz Funeral Home in Fort Lauderdale, told television talk show host Nancy Grace.

Police took Zimmerman into custody after they arrived. He was questioned and released later that night. He remains free as the Seminole County State Attorney's Office reviews the police investigation and decides whether to file charges. The U.S. Justice Department also is investigating.

Zimmerman, the 28-year-old Sanford, Fla., neighborhood watch volunteer who shot the unarmed 17-year-old Martin to death last month, was fired from a job securing illegal house parties for “being too aggressive,” according to the New York Daily News, which quoted a former colleague of Zimmerman’s. According to the co-worker, Zimmerman worked for two agencies that provided security for house parties from 2001 to 2005.

“Usually he was just a cool guy,” said the former co-worker, who the newspaper didn't name. “But it was like Jekyll and Hyde. When dude snapped, he snapped.” The Daily News said Zimmerman earned $50 to $100 a night for the parties. He was fired for being too aggressive with patrons.

“He had a temper and he became a liability,” the newspaper quoted the former co-worker as saying. “One time this woman was acting a little out of control. She was drunk. George lost his cool and totally overreacted,” he said. “It was weird, because he was such a cool guy, but he got all nuts. He picked her up and threw her. It was pure rage. She twisted her ankle. Everyone was flipping out.”



Where Zimmerman may fit within the range of Hispanic identity is another matter. Although Robert Zimmerman described his son as "Spanish speaking," it's clear from the 911 call made that night that George Zimmerman is comfortable speaking English. Some Latinos may not consider Zimmerman to be truly Latino, since only one of his parents is Hispanic.

Some Hispanics, mostly in the Southwest, will say they are Spanish to make clear they identify with Spanish explorers who came to the Americas in the 1500s. In Texas, Latino has only recently become an identifying term; Tejano, Chicano or Mexican American have been more common. Cubans, who make up a large share of Hispanics in Florida, are more likely to identify as white than Puerto Ricans, whose presence is growing in Florida.




Why didn’t the Sanford, Fla., police arrest George Zimmerman after he shot Trayvon Martin Feb. 26? That’s a question that today is more relevant than ever amid reports the lead investigator in the case thought Mr. Zimmerman should be charged with manslaughter for his actions. The investigator, Chris Serino, was unconvinced by Zimmerman’s assertion that he resorted to deadly force in self-defense, according to ABC News. Mr. Serino filed an affidavit to that effect on the night of the killing. But Serino’s superiors, in turn, were apparently unconvinced by Serino’s reasoning. They did not take Zimmerman into custody because of two words: “probable cause.” “The Sanford police said this is why they did not arrest Zimmerman: they did not have probable cause to believe that he had broken the law,” writes legal analyst Dave Kopel, research director of the Independence Institute, on the widely read legal blog The Volokh Conspiracy. Florida’ Stand Your Ground law would have been legally irrelevant to this determination, according to Mr. Kopel. Florida has other statutes that allow the use of force against a criminal attack, as do virtually all states. Zimmerman’s story has been that he was doing exactly that: defending against an assault by Martin. In his version of events, Martin knocked him down, then straddled him and pounded his head on the ground. He did not have an opportunity to retreat, he told police.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Friday that Martin's killing reflects "the classic struggle of our time" and said it echoes the slaying of Emmitt Till, a 14-year-old from Chicago who was murdered in 1955 while visiting Mississippi by a group of white men. No one was ever convicted, but Till's killing galvanized the civil rights movement. An Orlando criminal defense attorney who says he represents Zimmerson told CNN on Friday that his client isn't racist and the facts will show he acted in self-defense after a fight with the teen. "I don't believe that George Zimmerman's a racist or that this was motivated by a dislike for African-Americans," said Craig Sonner. Tracy Martin often recounted how his son saved his life. The elder Martin had begun heating up some oil to fry fish and fell asleep. The grease caught fire, and when Tracy Martin awoke and tried to put out the flames, he spilled the oil on his legs, severely burning himself. Trayvon Martin pulled his father out of the home and called 911. Martin's parents kept a close eye on him, but they didn't have to be too strict, since he stayed out of trouble, Collins said. However, he had recently been suspended from school for five days for tardiness, his English teacher, Michelle Kypriss, told the Orlando Sentinel. School officials did not respond to a request for comment. Martin's father was not happy and grounded the teen for the duration of the suspension. Trayvon "knew he was wrong," Horton said. Under state privacy law, only serious felonies appear on juveniles' public criminal records, and Martin did not have one. Citing the same law, Sanford police Sgt. David Morgenstern said he could neither confirm nor deny the family's statement that Martin had never gotten in legal trouble. Martin dreamed of becoming a pilot. He had flown on school vacations to various places around the country with his mother, skiing in Colorado one year, going off to Texas another. "There's no little black kids that want to be pilots," Horton joked with him when he was about 13. "Well, I'll be the first one," the teen replied.
Our son didn't deserve to die. Trayvon Martin was just 17 years old when he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. Trayvon wasn't doing anything besides walking home with a bag of Skittles and some iced tea in his hands. What makes Trayvon’s death so much harder is knowing that the man who confessed to killing Trayvon, George Zimmerman, still hasn't been charged for Trayvon’s killing. Despite all this, we have hope. Since we started to lead a campaign on Change.org, more than 1,400,000 people -- including you -- have signed our petition calling for Florida authorities to prosecute our son’s killer. Our campaign is already starting to work. The FBI and Department of Justice announced they were investigating our son’s killing. Newspapers around the globe are reporting that it’s because of our petition. And the Sanford Police Chief even stepped aside temporarily because of pressure around his handling of the case. But our son’s killer is still free, and we need more people to speak out if we want justice for Trayvon. Can you please share our petition on Facebook and ask your friends and family to sign? Click here to share. You can also click here to email your friends and ask them to sign that way. We aren't looking for revenge, we're looking for justice -- the same justice anyone would expect if their son were shot and killed for no reason. Thank you so much for all you’ve done to support our family. - Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton
George Zimmerman was kicked out of Seminole State College today, in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting. "Due to the highly charged and high-profile controversy involving this student, Seminole State has taken the unusual but necessary step this week to withdraw Mr. Zimmerman from enrollment," according to a statement from the college. "This decision is based solely on our responsibility to provide for the safety of our students on campus as well as for Mr. Zimmerman." Zimmerman, 28, first enrolled at the college in 2003 and was working toward a vocational certificate to become an insurance agent. He re-enrolled in 2009 and was working toward an Associate in Arts degree in a general studies program, according to the college.

A Florida police chief criticised over the investigation into the shooting of an unarmed black teenager has announced he will temporarily step down. Bill Lee has been censured by officials in Sanford, an Orlando suburb, over the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Florida Governor Rick Scott, meanwhile, announced he had appointed a new prosecutor to lead the investigation. Mr Lee explained his decision at a news conference on Thursday afternoon. "It is apparent that my involvement in this matter is overshadowing the process," he said. "Therefore I have come to the decision that I must temporarily remove myself." He added: "I do this in the hope of restoring some semblance of calm to the city, which has been in turmoil for several weeks." Later on Thursday, Governor Scott announced that state attorney Norman Wolfinger would stand aside from the case. In a letter to the governor, Mr Wolfinger said his move was aimed at "toning down the rhetoric and preserving the integrity of the investigation". The governor also appointed a task force led by Lt Gov Jennifer Carroll, an African-American, to conduct hearings on the case and to make recommendations for any changes to state law. Police chief Lee's decision to stand aside comes a day after city commissioners in Sanford issued a vote of no-confidence in him. They voted 3-2 to censure the police chief, who has held his position for just 10 months. Hundreds of people attended a mass rally led by civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton on Thursday evening in Sanford to demand justice for the 17-year-old. Tracy Martin, the victim's father, was cheered as he told demonstrators: "The temporary step down of Bill Lee is nothing. We want an arrest, we want a conviction." Mr Martin's parents have met officials from the Department of Justice, who have launched a civil rights investigation into police conduct of the case. Nearly one million people have signed online petitions calling for justice.
When a rash of burglaries and other crimes broke out in and around a gated community in Sanford, Fla., residents wanted some form of protection. Someone raised the possibility of a neighborhood watch group. But only one resident seems to have come forward for the duties: George Zimmerman. Zimmerman, 28, is the focal point for national outrage over the fatal Feb. 26 shooting of an unarmed teen, Trayvon Martin. The 17-year-old was returning from a sugar run -- he'd bought a bag of Skittles and an iced tea at a local convenience store -- and was reportedly talking on a cellphone to his girlfriend when he crossed paths with Zimmerman. Zimmerman, meanwhile, had spotted the teen and called police to report a young black male acting suspiciously, according to phone logs. What happened next is a matter of debate, and will ultimately be up to a Seminole County grand jury to decide when it convenes next month. The teen's girlfriend said she could hear someone confronting Martin. But Zimmerman said that Martin was the aggressor -- and that he opened fire in self-defense. He was not arrested. The case has taken on racial overtones as it has captured public attention. A Florida grand jury is considering whether there is enough evidence to file charges, and the US justice department has launched a probe into the conduct of the local police investigation. However, further action could be complicated by a Florida self-defence law that allows the use of deadly force if a person "reasonably" believes they or another person are threatened with death or serious harm. A statement from Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte calls the death of Trayvon Martin a "tragic situation". But he emphasised that officers of the Sanford police department were "prohibited from making an arrest based on the facts and circumstances they had at the time". 'Crazy to wait' Speaking to NBC's Today programme, Tracy Martin, the victim's father, said the shooter was suspicious of his son "because he was young, black and with a hoodie".
If it was the other way around they would have arrested their son on the spot  Benjamin Crump Martin family lawyer
Appealing for Mr Zimmerman to be prosecuted, he added: "Let the courts decide, but I strongly feel that he needs to be arrested."
The statement from Trayvon Martin's parents comes amid continuing public outcry against police handling of the case. Appearing alongside Martin's parents, their lawyer Benjamin Crump said the shooter "needs to be arrested, prosecuted and convicted". "Now, the state needs to do it. It's crazy that this family has to wait for grand juries and stuff when, if it was the other way around they would have arrested their son on the spot."
By Rene Lynch March 20, 2012, 4:41 p.m. Police identified Zimmerman as white, but his family says he's Hispanic. Critics of how authorities have dealt with the case have launched marches, petitions and demonstrations, and civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton was expected in the area Tuesday night. Earlier in the day Tuesday, black leaders hand-delivered a letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott expressing their concerns and displeasure with how the case has been handled so far. According to local media reports, Zimmerman took seriously his volunteer role as captain of the neighborhood watch group in the diverse community. He had aspirations of being a police officer at one point in his life, and had called 911 to report suspicious activity in the neighborhood nearly 50 times in the last year, according to the Miami Herald. "He once caught a thief and an arrest was made," Cynthia Wibker, secretary of the homeowners association, told the Herald. "He helped solve a lot of crimes." But others apparently felt uneasy with Zimmerman's zealousness. One African American resident, Ibrahim Rashada, told the Herald that Zimmerman seemed friendly and helpful, but Zimmerman also circulated a description of a suspect that pulled Rashada up short. "I fit the stereotype he emailed around," Rashada said. That realization led Rashada to drive downtown whenever he wants to take a walk and stretch his legs. "I don’t want anyone chasing me," he said. Zimmerman's father wrote a letter to the Sun Sentinel that insists that his son is neither a racist nor guilty of being the aggressor in the deadly encounter. The statement was published in full on the newspaper's website. It reads in part: "George is a Spanish speaking minority with many black family members and friends. He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever.... The media portrayal of George as a racist could not be further from the truth." The statement goes on to suggest that the public should be outraged over the "extremely misleading" portrayal of Zimmerman, and hinted that there are key facts that have yet to be made public. "The events of February 26 reported in the media are also totally inaccurate. Out of respect for the on-going investigation, I will not discuss specifics. However, the media reports of the events are imaginary at best. At no time did George follow or confront Mr. Martin. When the true details of the event become public, and I hope that will be soon, everyone should be outraged by the treatment of George Zimmerman in the media." ABC News has also been delving into what it suggested were irregularities with the investigation to date. For one, ABC reported, Zimmerman was not tested for drugs or alcohol on the night of the shooting, something that the news organization says is routine in many homicide cases. Moreover, a narcotics detective -- and not a trained homicide detective -- took Zimmerman's statement in the wake of the shooting, ABC said. Tracy Martin, the father of the slain teen, said police told him that Zimmerman's background was "squeaky clean." However, ABC News reported, public records show that Zimmerman was charged with battery against on officer and resisting arrest in 2005, a charge that was later "expunged" from his record. That allowed him to legally obtain the weapon he was carrying the night of the shooting. Zimmerman and his father have temporarily left their home, after they were the subject of death threats, according to media reports. Most of the attention that tape has garnered has been over the portion where the officer specifically tells Zimmerman he’s not to follow Martin. Had Zimmerman followed these instructions (which are also part of the national guidelines for any Neighborhood Watch, which Zimmerman was a part of), Martin would still be alive. However, now the attention has moved to the seconds before that back and forth. In those moments, Zimmerman can be heard moving after Martin (the sounds of his movements are what caused the officer to ask if he was pursuing Martin). In the midst of these sounds, there seems to be a quick comment made under Zimmerman’s breath and some now say is “fucking coons,” coon obviously being a racial slur against blacks.
Our son didn't deserve to die. Trayvon Martin was just 17 years old when he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. Trayvon wasn't doing anything besides walking home with a bag of Skittles and some iced tea in his hands. What makes Trayvon’s death so much harder is knowing that the man who confessed to killing Trayvon, George Zimmerman, still hasn't been charged for Trayvon’s killing. Despite all this, we have hope. Since we started to lead a campaign on Change.org, more than 500,000 people -- including you -- have signed our petition calling for Florida authorities to prosecute our son’s killer. Our campaign is already starting to work. Just last night, the FBI and Department of Justice announced they were investigating our son’s killing. Newspapers around the globe are reporting that it’s because of our petition. But our son’s killer is still free, and we need more people to speak out if we want justice for Trayvon. Can you please share our petition on Facebook and ask your friends and family to sign? Click here to share. You can also click here to email your friends and ask them to sign that way. We aren't looking for revenge, we're looking for justice -- the same justice anyone would expect if their son were shot and killed for no reason. Thank you so much for all you’ve done to support our family. - Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton Police arrived minutes later. After the shooting, Trayvon’s body was bagged and taken to the morgue, where he was tagged as a John Doe. Critics have noted that no one contacted Trayvon’s family even though police had his cell phone in their possession. The Miami Herald reports Zimmerman had taken it upon himself to patrol the neighborhood and had called police 46 times since January 2011 to report suspicious activity or other incidents. Trayvon Martin was killed on February 26th, but it’s only weeks later that his story is gaining national attention after a campaign led by family members and the release of the 911 tapes last week. JASMINE RAND: I mean, I think it just—it shows that the Sanford Police Department—I mean, there was either corruption or just woeful ignorance on their behalf. They were calling the family, after losing their child, harassing the parents over his phone, wanting to get—you know, get to his phone, get in his phone. And they had the phone in their possession the entire time. So, you know, there are a lot of questions that I can’t answer, because they don’t make sense.
In September 2010, Trevor Dooley stormed into a park near his home outside Tampa, angry because a teenager was skateboarding on the basketball court. Dooley was carrying a .32-caliber semiautomatic handgun in his pants, and it was visible to David James, 41, who was in the park with his 8-year-old daughter. James tried to disarm Dooley, who is now 71, and as the two men tussled on the ground, Dooley shot James in the chest, killing him. Prosecutors, not surprisingly, charged Dooley with manslaughter. But if Dooley's lawyers can convince a judge by next week that he fired the gun because his life was being threatened -- that he is therefore protected under Florida's "stand your ground" law -- Dooley may well walk away a free man. A growing number of people hope the judge will make Dooley stand trial on the manslaughter charge. But that sentiment has as much to do with another tragedy that occurred last month, 60 miles (100 km) to the northeast, in Sanford, Fla. That's the case of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teen who was shot and killed the night of Feb. 26 while walking back to the house where he was staying in a gated community. The shooter, George Zimmerman, 28, the neighborhood watch captain, was following Martin because he thought the 17-year-old, dressed in a hooded sweatshirt, looked suspicious. When the two got into an altercation, Zimmerman fired the gun he was carrying. As astonishing as it sounds, Sanford police have refused to charge Zimmerman -- although the state attorney's office now says it will convene a grand jury next month to investigate the case. The cops have been balking in large part because, under the stand-your-ground statute, they're virtually obligated to accept his argument that he was acting in self-defense -- even if it was Martin who may have felt more threatened, according to recordings of 911 calls by neighbors that were released over the weekend. The 2005 Florida law permits anyone, anywhere to use deadly force against another person if they believe their safety or life is in danger, and it's the state's usually futile task to prove that the act wasn't justified. Little wonder the St. Petersburg Times found that five years after the law was signed by then Governor Jeb Bush -- who called it a "good, commonsense anti-crime" bill -- claims of justifiable homicides in Florida more than tripled, from just over 30 to more than 100 in 2010. In that time, the stand-your-ground defense was used in 93 cases involving 65 deaths -- and in the majority of those cases, it worked. Pro-gun advocates like the National Rifle Association, which pushed hard for stand your ground, say it simply broadens citizens' capacity for self-defense. But if Dooley and now Zimmerman do walk, there may be an understandable public backlash against a statute that in reality has made the streets, bars and parks of Florida -- and of the at least 16 other states that have enacted similar laws since 2005 -- more dangerous spaces. Stand your ground, which many Floridians sardonically call "shoot first," didn't broaden self-defense as much as it broke with centuries of British and American common (and commonsense) law that absolved such deadly force only in cases involving the "castle doctrine," that is, defending one's home against a violent intruder. (MORE: Trayvon Martin's Murder: Was the Motive Self-Defense or Racism?)
In the final moments of his life, Trayvon Martin was being hounded by a strange man on a cellphone who ran after him, cornered him and confronted him, according to the teenage girl whose call logs show she was on the phone with the 17-year-old boy in the moments before neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot him dead. Martin's death Feb. 26 has stirred national outrage and protests, partly prompting the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and the FBI to open an investigation into the case. ABC News was there exclusively as the 16-year-old girl told Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump about the last moments of the teenager's life. "He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on. He said he lost the man," Martin's friend said. "I asked Trayvon to run, and he said he was going to walk fast. I told him to run but he said he was not going to run." Eventually he would run, said the girl, thinking that he'd managed to escape. But suddenly the strange man was back, cornering Martin. "Trayvon said, 'What, are you following me for,' and the man said, 'What are you doing here.' Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the head set just fell. I called him again and he didn't answer the phone." The line went dead. Besides screams heard on 911 calls that night as Martin and Zimmerman scuffled, those were the last words he said. Trayvon's phone logs, also obtained exclusively by ABC News, show the conversation occurred five minutes before police first arrived on scene. The young woman's parents asked that her name not be used, and that only an attorney could ask her questions. Martin's father, Tracey Martin, and mother, Sybrina Fulton, listened to the call along with ABC News, ashen-faced. "He knew he was being followed and tried to get away from the guy, and the guy still caught up with him," Tracey Martin said. "And that's the most disturbing part. He thought he had got away from the guy and the guy back-tracked for him." The teen was killed by Zimmerman while walking back to his father's fiancés home after stepping out to buy Skittles and some iced tea during the NBA All-Star Game. After weeks of relentless pressure, the Sanford Police have decided to release emergency and non-emergency calls placed during the incident. "These a**holes always get away," Zimmerman says in a call to a non-emergency number. Dispatcher: "Are you following him?" Zimmerman: "Yeah." Dispatcher: "We don't need you to do that." An altercation soon ensued. A few moments later a torrent of 911 calls flooded in and Martin was killed by a single bullet. Zimmerman claimed self-defense and has yet to be arrested, stoking outrage and claims of prejudice against the police department. "When George Zimmerman is arrested, tried and convicted I will get a little rest," Tracey Martin said. According to a statement by the Justice Department, "The department will conduct a thorough and independent review of all of the evidence and take appropriate action and the conclusion of the investigation. … The government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person acted intentionally and with the specific intent to do something which the law forbids. Negligence, recklessness, mistakes and accidents are not prosecutable under the federal criminal civil rights laws." Nearly half a million people have signed an online petition on change.org urging law enforcement officials to step in and arrest Zimmerman. Protests have played out in the Florida town all week with a large gathering expected Thursday. Zimmerman violated major principles of the Neighborhood Watch manual, ABC News has learned. The manual from the Neighborhood Watch program states: "It should be emphasized to members that they do not possess police powers. And they shall not carry weapons or pursue vehicles." According to Chris Tutko, the director of the National Neighborhood Watch program, there are about 22,000 registered watch groups nationwide, and Zimmerman was not part of a registered group, which police were not aware of at the time of the incident.
The family of Trayvon Martin is asking the FBI to get involved in the investigation of the killing of the unarmed 17-year-old Florida high school student, who was shot last month by a self-appointed neighborhood watchman outside his stepmother's home. Martin, a black high-school junior, was making his way home with a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea on Feb. 26 when George Zimmerman spotted him, called a non-emergency dispatch number to report Martin looked intoxicated, followed him, and then minutes later after an altercation, shot him. Zimmerman, 28, who is white, claimed self defense. He was never arrested and has been charged with no crime, sparking national outrage. ABC News has learned police seemed to accept Zimmerman's account at face value that night and that he was not tested for drugs or alcohol on the night of the shooting, even though it is standard procedure in most homicide investigations. Now Martin family attorney Ben Crump has written a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, and it's being circulated by several members of congress who are putting pressure on him to get the FBI involved. An FBI spokesman told ABC News: "We are aware of the incident, we have been in contact with local authorities and are monitoring the matter." The night of Feb. 26, Zimmerman made a non-emergency call to police before fatally shooting Martin, in which he told a dispatcher, "This guy looks like he's up to no good, on drugs or something." But law enforcement expert Rod Wheeler who listened to the tapes tells ABC News that Zimmerman, not Martin, sounded intoxicated in the police recordings of the 911 calls. "When I listened to the 911 tape the first thing that came to my mind is this guy sounds intoxicated. Notice how he's slurring his words. We as trained law enforcement officers, we know how to listen for that right away and I think that's going to be an important element of this entire investigation," Wheeler said. But Zimmerman was not tested. Martin's family is now calling on the FBI to take over what they say is a botched investigation. "We've got a fair investigation, it was the best we can do, it's in states attorney hands now," Sanford Police Department spokesman Dave Morgenstern said.
Heartbreaking tragedy: 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was visiting a relative's house in a Florida gated community when he walked to the store to get Skittles and iced tea for his little brother. He never made it home. Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by a self-styled neighborhood watch leader, who told police he thought Trayvon was "suspicious" in the mostly-white community.
Unbelievable twist: A man named George Zimmerman allegedly admitted to police that he shot Trayvon Martin in the chest. Zimmerman claims he acted in self defense, even though police allegedly told him not to do anything until they arrived -- and despite the fact that Trayvon was unarmed, carrying only a bag of Skittles when he died. In the two weeks since Zimmerman allegedly killed Trayvon, police have refused to arrest the confessed killer.
Hope for justice: Sybrina Fulton is Trayvon's mother, and she's leading a campaign on Change.org to get justice for her son. Tracy knows that if enough people raise an outcry, Sanford, Florida authorities will be forced to investigate Zimmerman the same way they would investigate any confessed killer. 
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Here's a lot more info about Sybrina's campaign, in her own words:
On February 26, my son Trayvon Martin was shot and killed as he walked back from a convenience store where he had just bought some candy. He was only 17 years old. 
Trayvon's killer, George Zimmerman, admitted to police that he shot Trayvon in the chest. Zimmerman, the community's self appointed "neighborhood watch leader," called the police to report a suspicious person when he saw Trayvon, a young black man, walking from the store. But Zimmerman, who is white, still hasn't been charged for killing my son. 
Trayvon was my hero. At the age of 9, Trayvon pulled his father from a burning kitchen, saving his life. He loved sports and horseback riding. At only 17 he had a bright future ahead of him with dreams of attending college and becoming an aviation mechanic. Now that's all gone.
When Zimmerman reported Trayvon to the police, they told him not to confront him. But he did anyway. All I know about what happened next is that my 17 year-old son, who was completely unarmed, was shot and killed.
I don't know if my family will ever receive justice for this terrible tragedy. It's been nearly two weeks and the Sanford Police have refused to arrest George Zimmerman. In their public statements, they even go so far as to stand up for the killer - saying he's "a college grad" who took a class in criminal justice.
Please join me in calling on the the Sanford Police Department and Florida State's Attorney Norman Wolfinger to investigate my son's death and prosecute George Zimmerman for the shooting and killing of Trayvon Martin. 
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