civil rights
August 11, 2020

The Colorado attorney general's office on Tuesday announced it has launched a civil rights investigation into the Aurora Police Department's "patterns and practices," following several high-profile cases of alleged excessive force and misconduct.

This review began several weeks ago, a spokesperson said, and is separate from an investigation into the 2019 death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain, an unarmed Black man who died after officers used a chokehold on him. Earlier Tuesday, McClain's family filed a lawsuit against the Aurora Police Department and paramedics who injected him with ketamine.

Last week, a video went viral showing Aurora officers holding a Black family at gunpoint, after the officers mistakenly thought the family was in a stolen car. As they all lay face down on the pavement, one of the children is heard sobbing and screaming, "I want my mother!" The department later apologized, and interim Chief of Police Vanessa Wilson said there will be a review of how officers are trained to conduct high-risk stops. Catherine Garcia

June 2, 2020

Minnesota's Department of Human Rights is filing a commissioner's charge of discrimination against and launching a civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department, Gov. Tim Walz (D) said Tuesday.

The decision comes a week after a police officer allegedly killed George Floyd by pressing his knee against Floyd's neck while in custody, sparking nationwide protests against police brutality. "The investigation will review MPD's policies, procedures, and practices over the last 10 years to determine if the department has utilized systemic discriminatory practices toward people of color," Walz said.

Investigators will have subpoena powers, but they likely won't need to wield them, Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero said, since she expects the city to be open with records. The Minneapolis City Council said it would assist with the process and urged the state "to use its full weight" to hold the police department accountable. Read more at NBC News. Tim O'Donnell

July 25, 2018

The Anti-Defamation League for the first time has drawn an explicit connection between misogyny and violent extremism, the organization explained Tuesday. In a new report, the anti-Semitism and anti-hate group described the links between prejudice against women and other forms of violent hatred.

"There is a robust symbiosis between misogyny and white supremacy," the ADL wrote in the report. The organization described a "deep-seated loathing of women" as an important "connective tissue" among white supremacist groups, as well as the alt-right, men's rights activists, and "incels."

The group pointed out that misogyny has not received the same type of scrutiny as other extremist attitudes, despite the "violence, vicious harassment" and other misogynist acts that "are a huge threat to women everywhere." Given the recent rise in hate crimes, report author Jessica Reaves told Cosmopolitan, "it's really important for people to understand that these hateful groups don't exist in a vacuum — they feed off one another."

The report spells out the ways in which misogyny is often a "gateway" to other forms of extremism and recommends a number of strategies to combat the issue. The ADL recommends ensuring that gender-based discrimination is classified the same way as other forms of hate speech, both in the public sphere and on social media. "Misogyny can provide bigots with a bridge to white supremacy," writes the ADL. "The two ideologies are powerfully intertwined." Summer Meza

October 15, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has sent a federal hate-crimes lawyer to Iowa, where he will assist with the local prosecution of a man accused of killing a transgender high school student in 2016, officials with knowledge of the matter told The New York Times on Sunday.

It's a move that has surprised critics of Sessions, who have called him out for reversing a policy that encouraged schools to let transgender students use the bathrooms that match their gender identity and announcing that the Justice Department no longer considered gay or transgender people protected from workplace discrimination. People who know Sessions told the Times he is more likely to look at filing civil rights charges in individual cases, rather than trying to tackle a systemic problem.

In court documents filed Friday, it was revealed that Justice Department attorney Christopher Perras will head to Iowa to serve as county prosecutor in the case against Jorge Sanders-Galvez, the man accused of shooting and killing Kedarie Johnson, 16, of Burlington. Relatives of the slain high school student say Kedarie was gay, sometimes went by the name Kandicee, and would wear men's and women's clothing. Typically, the Justice Department only sends lawyers out to serve as local prosecutors when they can provide "expertise in areas that the federal government views as significant," the Times reports. Catherine Garcia

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