‘Newark’s Original Sin’: The Criminal Justice Education of Cory Booker – The New York Times

By Nick Corasaniti and Stephanie Saul
March 27, 2019, 1 comment
“NEWARK — After football practice one summer evening in 2008, a Pop Warner league coach and two of his players were driving through the Clinton Hill section of Newark when a car swerved and blocked their path. Suddenly six police officers emerged from unmarked vehicles and forced them out of their car at gunpoint.

“I felt like this: Don’t kill me, just send me to jail. Please don’t kill me,” one of the boys, Tony Ivey Jr., then 13, would later say in a videotaped interview.

The officers, members of a narcotics squad, searched the car and found nothing but football equipment. The coach had been taking the boys to get hamburgers.

The episode became known as the case of the Pop Warner Three, and it was one of more than 400 misconduct allegations cited two years later when the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey asked the Justice Department to investigate the Newark police.

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Newark’s mayor, Cory Booker, had swept into office in 2006 pledging a safer city through zero tolerance on crime. And while killings actually rose in his first year, over the next three they fell to historic lows. Yet grievances against the police were piling up in the city’s black wards, with allegations of racial profiling, unlawful stops and excessive force. The A.C.L.U. and local activists pressed for reforms, complaining about pushback from Mr. Booker, whose administration was promoting the plunging homicide rate.

And when the A.C.L.U. finally went public with its plea to the Justice Department, the mayor went on WNYC radio, telling an interviewer that the petition was “one of the worst ways” to bring about meaningful change. “We don’t need people who are going to frustrate, undermine and mischaracterize our agency,” he added.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comments.

This is a depressing, complicated story. Maybe Corey Booker wasn’t a total fraud, but he was a reckless coward, unleashing an out of control and over powerful police department on his city, and then claiming successes that weren’t base on accurate data. I can also find reasons to defend the young mayor. It is hard to go up against a police union that might make your life miserable, or even kill you. It is not his fault that there were and are too many guns on the street. I’m not sure I could have done a better job, and I certainly didn’t have the guts to even try.

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT |
Part Two, On second reading, and with help from my partner, Corey Booker gets big points for admitting and owning his mistake, for hiring a good chief of staff, and then listening to him, and to go public about his conversion to supporting the ACLU of NJ bringing in the Justice Department to oversee an out of control police department.

California Has a High Rate of Police Shootings. Could a New Open-Records Law Change That? – The New York Times

By Tim Arango
Feb. 12, 2019

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“LOS ANGELES — After her son, Eric, was killed by the police in Los Angeles two years ago when officers mistook a water pistol he was holding for a real gun, Valerie Rivera channeled her grief into activism. She joined Black Lives Matter and lobbied the state legislature to open to the public California’s records on police shootings, which have long been hidden.

She wanted, she recently wrote in a court filing, to “understand what really happened, and to advocate for change so that officers do not kill civilians, and are held accountable when they do, so that other families do not have to suffer as mine has.”

Her efforts paid off. Under a new state law, Ms. Rivera and other members of the public can now request to see the investigative records, prying open for the first time California’s strict secrecy laws regarding police shootings and serious misconduct by officers.

But, just as activists and state lawmakers have sought to bring decades-old investigative records to light, police unions have tried to jam the door shut. While police departments have said they would comply, police unions up and down the state, including in Los Angeles, have filed lawsuits challenging the law, arguing that it shouldn’t be applied retroactively. The union lawsuits have succeeded in some jurisdictions in getting temporary stays from the court.”

An Innocent Man Who Imagined the World as It Should Be – by Jesse Wegman – NYT

“In the end, John Thompson got to live 14 years as a free man — the same number he spent on Louisiana’s death row, condemned for a 1984 murder he didn’t commit.Seven times the state set a date for his execution. Weeks before the seventh, in 1999, a private investigator hired by his lawyers discovered a crime-lab report that prosecutors had hidden from the defense, and that led eventually to Mr. Thompson’s exoneration in 2003.Some exonerees are so relieved to be out of prison that they never look back. That was not Mr. Thompson. After his release (the jury at his retrial acquitted him in 35 minutes), Mr. Thompson set out to hold to account the prosecutors and other officials who had fought for so long to kill him.”

Undercover Officers Ask Addicts to Buy Drugs, Snaring Them but Not Dealers – The New York Times


“The 55-year-old crack addict counted his change outside a Harlem liquor store. He had just over a dollar, leaving him 35 cents short of the cheapest mini-bottle.The 21-year-old heroin addict sat in a McDonald’s on the Lower East Side, wondering when his grandmother would next wire him money. He was homeless, had 84 cents in his pocket and was living out of two canvas bags.Each was approached by someone who asked the addict for help buying drugs. Using the stranger’s money, each addict went to see a nearby dealer, returned with drugs, handed them over and was promptly arrested on felony drug-dealing charges. The people who had asked for drugs were undercover narcotics officers with the New York Police Department.”

Source: Undercover Officers Ask Addicts to Buy Drugs, Snaring Them but Not Dealers – The New York Times

Many good comments clarify that the behavior of the New York City police here is despicable.