Last week, in Cole v. Carson, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Texas held that a teenager who was shot by police could take the police to court for federal civil rights violations. The teen had recently broken up with his girlfriend and had walked into the woods pointing a gun to his own head. He backed out of the woods with the gun still to his head and then turned to his left to continue walking and police officers opened fire on him.
Last week, a federal court in New York affirmed the First Amendment right to criticize police using profane language. In the case, Barboza v. D’Agata, the federal court in the Southern District of New York addressed a case in which an individual received a speeding ticket in the town of Liberty, New York. He agreed to pay the ticket by mail, but first decided to make his feelings clear by crossing out the town’s name “Liberty” and writing “Tyranny” on the ticket, and then writing, in all capital letters, “FUCK YOUR SHITTY TOWN BITCHES.” He then sent in his payment with this special personalized message.
Last week, federal courts in Washington D.C. and Michigan issued orders affirming the civil liberties of deaf prisoners and suicidal individuals who call police for help during a mental health emergency. In Washington D.C., a federal court held that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires prisons to affirmatively provide appropriate communication services for deaf inmates. In Michigan, a federal court held that police officers ignored the protections of the 4th Amendment when they responded to a potentially suicidal individual by breaking windows and throwing tear gas canisters into his home, and ultimately shooting and killing him.
Last week the U.S. Department of Justice announced a new policy that all federal law enforcement agents must obtain a search warrant prior to using a “stingray” for cell phone surveillance. Until last week, there was no policy in place requiring federal law enforcement officials to obtain a search warrant prior to conducting this type of surveillance.
Over the past few weeks, three different federal courts have mandated that a county clerk in Kentucky must issue marriage licenses to gay couples regardless of the clerk’s personal opposition to gay marriage.
This month, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in a federal lawsuit challenging the City of Boise, Idaho’s ban on sleeping in public. The plaintiffs argue that bans on sleeping in public violate their constitutional rights because there is inadequate shelter space available in Boise to accommodate the City’s homeless population.
Last week, at the Next Generation Climate Justice Action Camp (NGCJAC), a diverse group of youth and adult organizers met in Southern Oregon to share tools and stories and prepare the next generation of climate justice organizers for the work that is to come.
EUGENE, OR: On Friday July 24, 2015, the Assistant City Attorney of Eugene dismissed a criminal case that he filed and prosecuted against Hedin Brugh, a long-time SLEEPS activist who advocated for unhoused people.
In light of the shortcomings of the legal system and growing police violence against people, there are many ways that communities can help each other to defend their rights to be free from unlawful searches, seizures, and cruel and inhumane treatment by law enforcement officers.
Last week, a federal court in California held that holding immigrant children from Central America in jail during their immigration proceedings was unlawful because it violates the terms of a nation-wide policy established almost 20 years ago. The court found that the failure to release children, the failure to keep children in a non-secure and licensed child care facility, and the deplorable conditions of holding cells all violate the terms of the government’s own policy on detention of immigrant children.