A man identified only as the “Imperial Wizard of the Rebel Brigade Knights of the Ku Klux Klan” endorsed Donald Trump’s presidential campaign during a video interview with a Richmond news station which was published on Friday.
WWBT 12 news anchor Chris Thomas asked the Klan leader which candidate is best suited for the presidency. The so-called Imperial Wizard responded “I think Donald Trump would be best for the job,” adding that “the reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes in, we believe in. We want our country to be safe.”
The Klan leader cited Trump’s call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States as an example of a Trump proposal that he supports. He also said that, “if Donald Trump dropped out tomorrow I would support Kasich before I would Ted Cruz” because Cruz “was born in Canada” and is “not an American citizen.”
In reality, Senator Cruz was born to a U.S. citizen mother and thus became an American citizen at birth. Nevertheless, Trump has attempted to sew doubts about Cruz’s eligibility for the presidency, claiming at one point that this issue “could be tied up in court for two years.”
DOJ Will Not Bring Civil Rights Charge Against NYPD Officer in Death of Eric Garner
The Justice Department will not bring federal charges against a New York City police officer over the death of Eric Garner during a chaotic arrest that ignited nationwide protests five years ago.
The decision, announced Tuesday by Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue, marks the end of a civil rights probe into an episode – much of it captured on video – that helped turn a national spotlight on how police officers use force against minorities.
“Like many of you, I have watched that video many times, and each time I’ve watched it, I’m left with the same reaction: that the death of Eric Garner was a tragedy,” Donoghue said. “The job of a federal prosecutor, however, is not to let our emotions dictate our decisions. Our job is to review the evidence gathered during the investigation, like the video, to assess whether we can prove that a federal crime was committed.”
Authorities spent years investigating Garner’s death in an examination that proved contentious both inside and outside of the Justice Department. Attorneys in the department’s Civil Rights Division long advocated for bringing a criminal charge, while prosecutors in Brooklyn recommended against it.
In the end, Donoghue said Attorney General William Barr broke the logjam, deciding in recent days that Justice would not bring a federal civil rights prosecution against officer Daniel Pantaleo.
“The video and the other evidence gathered in the investigation does not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Pantaleo acted willfully in violation of federal law,” Donoghue said.
Garner, a 43-year-old black man, was accused of selling single cigarettes outside a store on Staten Island when Pantaleo attempted to arrest him. Garner gasped, “I can’t breathe,” after Pantaleo and other officers knocked him to the ground with Pantaleo holding him around the head and neck. The video of the encounter would later become a social media phenomenon.
Garner died soon after. His last words, however, became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement whose members have staged demonstrations against alleged excessive force used by police across the country. The campaign gained increased notoriety as professional athletes and Hollywood’s elite took up the cause, some donning T-shirts emblazoned with Garner’s last words.
“We’re here with heavy hearts because the DOJ has failed us,” Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, said Tuesday. “Although we looked for better from them, five years ago my son said ‘I can’t breathe’ 11 times and today we can’t breathe because they have let us down.”
The city medical examiner listed Garner’s cause of death as “compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.” The officer’s lawyer, Stuart London, and the police union have denied that Pantaleo used a choke-hold maneuver banned by the NYPD.
The city paid a $5.9 million civil settlement to Garner’s family. Pantaleo has been assigned to administrative duty since Garner’s death.
In 2017, the city’s Civilian Complaints Review Board determined that Pantaleo used excessive force. Pantaleo also is awaiting a verdict in a NYPD disciplinary proceeding.
Federal authorities have been conducting a separate, years-long civil rights inquiry into Garner’s death.
Wednesday is the five year anniversary of Garner’s death, and the date would have marked the Justice Department’s last opportunity to bring civil rights charges before the statute of limitations expires. An official who was not authorized to speak publicly said prosecutors closed the case without presenting it to a federal grand jury.
Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello Vows to Remain in Office Despite Escalating Protests
Defying growing calls for his immediate resignation, Puerto Rico’s beleaguered Gov. Ricardo Rosselló on Tuesday vowed to remain in office and bring more transparency and accountability to the Puerto Rican government. In recent days, his office has been rocked by high-profile corruption arrests and escalating protests over the revelation of vulgar and inappropriate private messages between the governor and his staff.
A political crisis has swept the Caribbean island — home to approximately 3.2 million U.S. citizens — since a non-profit journalism group, Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism, published a trove of messages in which Rosselló and his top lieutenants mocked political opponents, talked about retaliating against journalists and made sexist and homophobic remarks. The scandal prompted the resignation of several officials in the messaging group, including his secretary of state and chief financial officer, but the governor has tried to quell the fallout and save his political career.
During his first press conference since the crude messages were leaked, Rosselló said that after days of introspection, he had determined that it was in the best interest of the island for him to continue in his role.
“I’m not proud of what I did,” he told reporters at his official residence in the capital on Wednesday when asked about the leaked messages by CBS News. “Those were merely comments — but they were hurtful comments. So, I apologize for what I’ve done but again, I need to move forward and continue on the work we’re doing for Puerto Rico.”
Pressed about the leaked messages, dubbed #Telegramgate by Puerto Ricans in reference to the app used by the group, Rosselló cited a legal analysis that supposedly determined that they did not contain evidence of any criminal act. “I did not commit illegal acts or ones of corruption. I did commit inappropriate acts,” he told reporters.
He would not say who conducted the analysis and demurred when asked by CBS News if the findings of the internal probe would be released.
Puerto Rico‘s Governor told us a legal analysis was done to determine that the contents in the 889 page chats, that were leaked, were not illegal. He wouldn’t tell us who did that legal analysis and he wouldn’t give us a copy.
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) July 16, 2019
The embattled governor stressed he was committed to protecting the First Amendment rights of his detractors — who in recent days have surrounded Rosselló’s residence, La Fortaleza, to call for his ouster and clashed with police. On Monday night, police equipped with riot gear used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the crowd outside La Fortaleza. But the governor urged the protesters to not turn to violence.
Rosselló also strongly denied that either he or his wife were were being investigated by federal authorities conducting a sweeping corruption probe on the island. Last week, the FBI arrested two former agency directors in Rosselló’s administration and accused them of illegally diverting federal funds to political consultants.
The White House on Tuesday said the political crisis vindicated President Trump’s repeated accusations that the Puerto Rican government is corrupt.
“The unfortunate events of the past week in Puerto Rico prove the President’s concerns about mismanagement, politicization, and corruption have been valid,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement. “We remain committed to Puerto Rico’s recovery and steadfast in protecting taxpayers and the Puerto Rico survivors from political corruption and financial abuse.”
During the press conference, Rosselló, who has sparred with Mr. Trump repeatedly over Washington’s handling of recovery efforts in the aftermath of the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, responded to the White House’s statement by saying corruption is a social “ill” rampant in both government and the private sector. He vowed to combat it during the remainder of his tenure.
“I just hope we can have a serious conversation about what we’re doing to battle it as opposed to pointing fingers,” he said.
Threatened ICE Raids Create More Political Noise Than Police Action
Most Sundays, Elias takes his girlfriend and toddler to the beach or the park. This Sunday, the three hunkered down in his MacArthur Park apartment.
Elias and his family were reacting to the Trump administration’s long-threatened Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids, which supposedly were set to begin Sunday morning.
The Guatemalan immigrant, who asked to be identified only by his first name, doesn’t have a removal order against him and has a visa that allows him to temporarily live and work in the country legally.
Still, he’s petrified to leave his home. He used vacation days to avoid going to work at his cafe job this week. Over the weekend, he ordered meals online for delivery and answered the door only to people he knew.
“I feel like there is no way to hide but just pray to my God to protect me,” he said.
In immigrant communities across the country, the weekend brought anxiety and questions about how extensive the much-hyped ICE action actually would be.
But while there were scattered reports over the weekend of ICE agents poised to sweep into urban areas, and of arrests in a few states, by Sunday evening there was nothing approaching the mass roundups that the White House had suggested could roll out over the next several days or weeks.
The anticipated raids — which President Trump last week forecast as a “major operation” — were expected to target several major U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Miami, Denver, Atlanta, Baltimore and Houston. ICE was believed to be focusing on about 2,000 immigrants who have missed court appearances or been ordered to be removed from the U.S.
Many local and state elected officials and regional law enforcement agencies across the country have denounced the anticipated raids and pledged not to cooperate with ICE.
This was the second time this summer that presidential vows of large-scale raids have failed to happen. The president announced in a June 17 tweet that ICE soon would start deporting “millions” of migrants; the operation was put on hold days later.
Over the weekend, protests were held in cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver and Philadelphia. At one immigration detention center in Washington state, a man armed with a rifle and throwing incendiary devices died Saturday after four police officers arrived and opened fire.
The shooting happened six hours after a peaceful rally in front of the facility.
Louis DeSipio, a political science professor at UC Irvine, said the way the weekend transpired illustrated Trump’s ability to maintain high levels of fear in immigrant communities, regardless of whether his threats materialize.
But Sunday’s lack of action probably further strained the president’s relationship with ICE, because the agency once again had to divert resources into an operation that fell short of expectations, DeSipio said.
By comparison, he said, the George W. Bush administration moved away from highly publicized activities because officials realized that such actions strained resources and inhibited essential day-to-day immigration enforcement operations.
“That means there’s less enforcement, ironically,” under the Trump administration, DeSipio said.
ICE operations are continuing. The agency typically conducts large-scale operations three or four times during the year and generally averages 40 to 50 arrests a day during larger operations, an agent previously told The Times.
Those operations target public safety threats, such as convicted criminals and individuals who have violated immigration laws. Last year in California, ICE conducted at least four operations that spanned several days, resulting in nearly 700 arrests.
Agents conducted a targeted enforcement operation in Los Angeles from July 7 to last Thursday, according to an ICE official. Dozens were arrested, the majority with criminal convictions. Similar operations have netted just fewer than 900 arrests nationwide during the last couple of months, the official said.
Last week, as the possibility of large-scale raids surfaced, immigrant-rights advocates mounted a legal counteroffensive. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a preemptive lawsuit Thursday in the U.S.
District Court in San Francisco seeking a temporary restraining order that would have forced ICE to allow detainees access to legal services — including on Sundays, when immigration processing centers are closed, lawyers said.
Judge James Donato denied the restraining order but said he “expects” that immigrants won’t be deported until they can speak to an attorney.
“This is a serious concern, and access to an attorney for individuals confronted by the police power of the state is a hallowed principle in our republic,” he said.
In Miami on Sunday, ICE agents were seen knocking on doors near the city’s international airport, and on Friday in the rural migrant farming community of Immokalee, Fla., but there were no reports of arrests.
Norelia Sanchez, an immigrant family support worker with Redlands Christian Migrant Assn. in Immkolee, said migrants called her Friday morning when they saw ICE agents going door to door.
Sanchez said she emerged from her home to see mothers rushing through the streets with their children as if they were fleeing a disaster.
“You would see parents that were actually with a phone in their hand, nervous and running because there are summer programs and they’re trying to take children to school,” she said.
In New York, three attempted ICE raids were reported Saturday — two in the Sunset Park area of Brooklyn and one in Harlem, according to the New York Mayor’s Office of Immigration Affairs. No arrests were made, the office said in a statement.
Claudia Galicia, a community organizer with Sunset Park Latino Democrats, said families told her that ICE agents showed up at apartment complexes and started ringing doorbells. She said many people, especially those with outstanding deportation orders, left their homes and are staying with family, friends or in sanctuary churches around the city.
But those who stayed home knew to assert their right to not open the door for agents, she said.
“One family told us that they hid in their bedroom while ICE knocked on their door for 20 minutes,” Galicia said.
In Mexico and Central America, news of the raids was widely circulated, but official reaction was generally tepid in a region where leaders often are hesitant to criticize U.S. policy directly.
Marcelo Ebrard, the Mexican foreign minister, told reporters Sunday that Mexico would “defend without restriction the rights of our co-nationals in the United States,” repeating the country’s oft-stated position.
Any Mexican nationals deported “are going to find in Mexico an opportunity for jobs and support from the Mexican government,” he added.
Mexico’s quasi-independent National Commission on Human Rights said it was watching the raids “with preoccupation,” voicing concern that the enhanced enforcement could prompt “acts of discrimination and xenophobia” against people “who only look for a better opportunity in life for themselves and their families.”
Mexico and Central American nations already receive large numbers of deportees returned on an almost daily basis via the U.S.-Mexico border or flown to Guatemala, El Salvador and other nations.
In Guatemala, President Jimmy Morales canceled a planned visit Monday to Washington amid strong U.S. pressure for Guatemala to accept designation as a “safe third country” for migrants.
The Guatemalan government said it has not agreed to such a designation, which could result in Honduran and El Salvadoran asylum seekers detained at the U.S.-Mexico border being sent back to Guatemala for adjudication of their claims.
Critics say that violence-plagued Guatemala, a major source of asylum seekers in the United States, is ill-suited as a safe haven for migrants.
Back in MacArthur Park, which for decades has served as a port of entry for new arrivals from Mexico and Central America, the prevailing mood among business owners Sunday was one of unease and anger as the threat of raids kept patrons away.
The 30-acre park — usually a magnet for throngs of people on a summer weekend — was nearly empty.
Leaning against the counter of a Total Wireless store, salesman Biviano Oxlaj, who earns commission on sales, shook his head in dismay.
“I’ve been staring at the front door all day, just hoping a customer shows up,” he said. “Business is down by 75%, and it’s been that way since Saturday. But since this is all because of an order from the White House, there’s not much anyone can do but wait for it to pass like a storm cloud.”
In nearby Koreatown, Edgar Barrera noticed that his neighborhood was quieter than usual on Sunday. Fewer people attended the morning church service, he didn’t spot many families walking the streets, and the nearby Guatemalan and Salvadoran bakeries were virtually empty, he said.
Barrera, 59, lives in the country illegally and works seven days a week managing a shop that ships packages to Guatemala. But he said he won’t let fear ruin the life he’s built over the last 20 years.
“I can’t give myself the luxury of not going to work,” he said. “I have to pay rent; I have to pay for food. My mother is sick and needs medicine, and I’m the only person who can pay her medical bills.”
Sunday morning, Barrera took side roads to get to work. But he’s not changing his routine too much.
“I’m tired of running away all the time,” he said. “I’m hoping that if I stay calm, nothing will happen.”
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