06-23-2018  6:14 pm      •     
The Skanner Report
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NEWS BRIEFS

AG Rosenblum Seeks Info from Oregonians

Oregon Attorney General seeks information on children separated from families at border ...

Community Forum: How Does Law Enforcement Interact With Vulnerable Populations?

Forum will focus on public safety and examine mental health and addiction issues ...

King County Council Recognizes Juneteenth

The Metropolitan King County Council recognizes a true 'freedom day' in the United States ...

Unite Oregon Hosts ‘Mourn Pray Love, and Take Action’ June 20

Community is invited to gather at Terry Schrunk Plaza at 6 p.m. on World Refugee Day ...

MRG Foundation Announces Spring 2018 Grantees

Recipients include Oregon DACA Coalition, Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe, Komemma Cultural Protection Association ...

Lawsuits allege racial profiling in Portland-area businesses

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Several African Americans are suing big-box stores and restaurants in Oregon, claiming employees at those places wrongly accused them of stealing because they were "shopping while black."A Portland law firm has filed five lawsuits alleging racial profiling at businesses in...

Wildfire near Maupin more than doubles in size

MAUPIN, Ore. (AP) — A wildfire burning brush and grass near Maupin in north-central Oregon has more than doubled in size to 36 square miles (93 square kilometers).Fire officials say Saturday's efforts will include the use of helicopters to protect Maupin.The wind-driven wildfire is mostly...

Alaska city honors Guardsmen killed in crash after '64 quake

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A month after the second most powerful earthquake ever was recorded, the Alaska port community of Valdez remained in ruins.A hulking Alaska National Guard cargo plane's mission April 25, 1964, was to deliver Gov. William Egan to oversee efforts to rebuild the town on...

The Latest: Alaska city unveils memorial to fallen Guardsmen

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Latest on an Alaska city honoring Guardsmen killed in crash after 1964 earthquake (all times local):1:40 p.m.Four men who died on a humanitarian mission to help rebuild an Alaska town following the second most powerful earthquake ever recorded have been honored...

OPINION

How Washington’s 'School Achievement Index' Became School Spending Index

New assessment categorizes schools not by quality of education, but level of funding officials believe they should receive ...

Black Mamas Are Dying. We Can Stop It.

Congresswoman Robin Kelly plans to improve access to culturally-competent care with the MOMMA Act ...

Hey, Elected Officials: No More Chicken Dinners...We Need Policy

Jeffrey Boney says many elected officials who visit the Black community only during the election season get a pass for doing nothing ...

Juneteenth: Freedom's Promise Still Denied

Juneteenth is a celebration of the de facto end of slavery, but the proliferation of incarceration keeps liberation unfulfilled ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Lawsuits allege racial profiling in Portland-area businesses

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Several African Americans are suing big-box stores and restaurants in Oregon, claiming employees at those places wrongly accused them of stealing because they were "shopping while black."A Portland law firm has filed five lawsuits alleging racial profiling at businesses in...

Racist tropes in Ramadan TV satires anger black Arabs

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — In an attempt to capitalize on what's become a ratings bonanza for Arabic satellite channels during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, two comedies struck the wrong chord with audiences when their lead actors appeared in blackface.Criticism was swift on...

Chaos on the border inflames GOP's split with Latinos

When more than 1,000 Latino officials __ a crop of up-and-coming representatives from a fast-growing demographic __ gathered in Phoenix last week, no one from the Trump administration was there to greet them.It marked the first time a presidential administration skipped the annual conference of the...

ENTERTAINMENT

Give up after scandals? Television history shows otherwise

NEW YORK (AP) — Say this about TV creators in 2018 — they don't give up easily.Three current shows — "Roseanne," ''Transparent" and "House of Cards" — have been crippled by scandal, but each plans to continue without their disgraced stars."The bottom line is...

Ornate NYC theater, used for years as a gym, to be restored

NEW YORK (AP) — For years, Long Island University's basketball team played in a French Baroque movie palace in downtown Brooklyn.The gilded wall fountains, plastered statuettes and towering, one-of-a-kind Wurlitzer organ pipes of the historic Paramount Theater were preserved by the...

Vinnie Paul, co-founder, drummer of Pantera, dies at 54

Vinnie Paul, co-founder and drummer of metal band Pantera, has died at 54.Pantera's official Facebook page posted a statement early Saturday announcing his death. The label of Hellyeah, his most recent group, confirmed the death but neither statement mentioned Paul's cause of death.His real name...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

AP PHOTOS: Germany salvages campaign on Day 10 of World Cup

MOSCOW (AP) — Germany midfielder Toni Kroos scored a dramatic late winner to come from behind and beat...

1 dead after attack at huge rally for Ethiopia's new PM

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — A thwarted attempt to hurl a grenade at Ethiopia's reformist new prime...

Sanders says she was told to leave Virginia restaurant

WASHINGTON (AP) — White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was booted from a Virginia restaurant...

Stars flock to the Dior debut of Kim Jones at Paris menswear

PARIS (AP) — In a week marked by big debuts, it was designer Kim Jones' turn at Dior Men on Saturday.The...

US moves 100 coffins to inter-Korean border for war remains

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The U.S. military said it moved 100 wooden coffins to the inter-Korean border to...

1 dead after attack at huge rally for Ethiopia's new PM

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — A thwarted attempt to hurl a grenade at Ethiopia's reformist new prime...

Tom Cohen CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Attorney General Eric Holder, a longtime target of Republicans who have tried to force him out of office, now faces the prospect of angering liberal supporters when the Justice Department decides whether to file federal charges in the Trayvon Martin killing.

Civil rights groups are planning nationwide vigils, and hundreds of thousands of people support an online petition drive calling for admitted shooter George Zimmerman to face federal charges in the February 2012 killing.

Holder will face that political pressure head-on Tuesday in a speech to the NAACP, which is conducting the petition drive.

While Holder has pledged a full investigation of the case in the aftermath of Zimmerman's acquittal on murder and manslaughter charges by a Florida court, legal experts say the federal government is unlikely to prosecute hate crime charges.

Because Zimmerman is a private citizen, he can only be charged with a hate crime in terms of civil rights violations under federal law, said David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor in Florida who now is in private practice.

To successfully prosecute Zimmerman, the Justice Department would have to show that Zimmerman "caused the death of Trayvon Martin solely motivated by/because of his race or color," Weinstein told CNN in an e-mail. "This element was absent from the state trial and quite frankly doesn't exist."

CNN Legal analyst Paul Callan agreed Monday that federal prosecutors are "in sort of a tough spot."

The hate crimes statute is generally applied to cases involving police officers or other government agents, Callan said, adding that using it in a case involving a lone private citizen is "very, very rare and I think in this case, it's going to be very hard to prove."

Sources told CNN Monday that Justice Department officials were reviewing trial evidence to determine if such a case was winnable. The sources made clear that Holder's department would only file charges if officials believe they can secure a conviction.

If Holder decides not to bring a federal case against Zimmerman, he will disappoint liberal supporters who contend the Martin killing was a civil rights violation.

The nation's first African-American attorney general has been popular with the political left for his support of gay marriage and challenges to GOP efforts to change voting laws. At the same time, his policies have made him a political lightning rod for conservatives.

Holder was censured last year by the Republican-led House over complaints that he failed to fully cooperate with a congressional investigation of the botched "Fast and Furious" gun-walking operation. He called the episode a politically motivated effort to discredit him.

Last year, Holder himself raised questions about possible federal charges against Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, who killed Martin during an altercation as the unarmed teenager was walking in the community.

"For a federal hate crime, we have to prove the highest standard in the law," Holder said in April 2012, 45 days after Zimmerman shot Martin in what was depicted by civil rights groups as a racially motivated killing.

In words that now sound prescient, Holder described to reporters that day how "something that was reckless, that was negligent does not meet that standard."

"We have to show that there was specific intent to do the crime with requisite state of mind," he said.

Zimmerman's acquittal on Saturday showed the Florida jury rejected that he intended to kill Martin for any reason, including the racial motivation necessary for federal charges that he violated Martin's civil rights.

In a speech in Washington on Monday, Holder said the Justice Department would "continue to act in a manner that is consistent with the facts and the law" in examining what he called "the tragic, unnecessary shooting death of Trayvon Martin."

"Independent of the legal determination that will be made, I believe that this tragedy provides yet another opportunity for our nation to speak honestly about the complicated and emotionally charged issues that this case has raised," Holder said. "We must not -- as we have too often in the past -- let this opportunity pass."

Separately, the White House said President Barack Obama would play no role in deciding whether federal charges are filed.

"Cases are brought on the merits and the merits are evaluated by the professionals at the Department of Justice," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

The president on Sunday called Martin's killing a tragedy for America, but said in a written statement that the jury had spoken. He acknowledged the case had "elicited strong passions," but urged "calm reflection" in its aftermath.

Still, political pressure for a federal case is mounting.

On Tuesday, the Rev. Al Sharpton and other civil rights leaders gathered outside the Department of Justice to announce scores of "Justice for Trayvon" vigils outside of federal buildings across the country this weekend.

"People all over the country will gather to show that we are not having a two- or three-day anger fit," Sharpton said. "This is a social movement for justice."

He also called for a full federal investigation of the Martin killing, saying mere remarks by Obama and others weren't enough.

"The president has made a statement of consolation," Sharpton said. "We don't need consolation. We need legislation and we need some federal prosecution."

Those seeking federal charges say the killing was racially motivated, arguing that Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, targeted Martin for special scrutiny because the teenager was an African-American. Regardless of how the shooting occurred, they say, the fight occurred because of Martin's race.

"The most fundamental of civil rights -- the right to life -- was violated the night George Zimmerman stalked and then took the life of Trayvon Martin," says the petition on the NAACP website.

Rep. Marcia Fudge, the Ohio Democrat who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, said racial profiling like what Zimmerman did to Martin "continues to make communities of innocent individuals fear a justice system designed to protect them."

"Men and women wonder if merely walking or driving justifies being followed, stopped, or questioned," Fudge said in a statement Monday. "This practice and the presumption of guilt so often associated with people of color must come to an end."

Such political pressure evokes memories of the Rodney King case in 1991, when videotape of white Los Angeles police officers clubbing an African-American man after a car chase prompted race-tinged national furor.

When a criminal court failed to convict the officers of police brutality, riots ensued in Los Angeles over alleged racial discrimination.

The Justice Department then filed a civil rights suit against the officers, alleging "deprivations of federal rights under color of law," and two of them were convicted in 1993. A court sentenced them to 30 months in federal prison.

Weinstein said the Justice Department can't file similar charges against Zimmerman because he is a private citizen instead of a police officer or government official of any kind.

"There are no other relevant sections under which to prosecute him" other than the hate crime statute, which covers "offenses involving actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin," Weinstein added.

A federal hate crimes violation in a killing carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. Even if the federal charges were identical to the state charges, it would not be double jeopardy for Zimmerman because the federal government is a separate and sovereign entity.

Martin's family can still file a civil wrongful death lawsuit against Zimmerman to seek penalties and damages. Such a legal move carries no criminal penalty or prison time.

CNN's Carol Cratty, Jessica Yellin and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

 

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