NEWS of the Day - April 12, 2012
on some NAACC / LACP issues of interest

NEWS of the Day - April 12, 2012
on some issues of interest to the community policing and neighborhood activist across the country

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles from local newspapers and other sources constitutes but a small percentage of the information available to the community policing and neighborhood activist public. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view ...

We present this simply as a convenience to our readership ...


From the Washington Times

After weeks of national protests, Zimmerman charged in Florida

by Valerie Richardson

A Florida prosecutor charged George Zimmerman with second-degree murder Wednesday in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin after weeks of protests demanding his arrest.

Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey said at a news conference in Jacksonville that Mr. Zimmerman , 28, was arrested Wednesday after turning himself in to authorities. She would not say where he was being held, adding that “that's for his safety and everyone else's safety.”

Mr. Zimmerman was in jail Wednesday night and is scheduled to appear before a judge in Seminole County within the next 24 hours for a preliminary hearing. He has insisted that he acted in self-defense in the Feb. 26 shooting of the unarmed 17-year-old high-school student in a gated community in Sanford, Fla.

Florida prosecutors have been criticized for taking too long to file charges against Mr. Zimmerman , but Ms. Corey said Wednesday that “it didn't take too long.”

“There is a reason cases are tried in a court and not in public and not by the media,” Ms. Corey said.

The prosecutor said Monday that she would not bring the case before a grand jury, which meant that Mr. Zimmerman could not be charged with first-degree murder. Second-degree murder in Florida carries a minimum 25-year sentence, and life imprisonment is an option.

The case has ignited a national debate over racial profiling and calls for Mr. Zimmerman 's arrest by liberal advocates and some of the nation's top black political figures, who say the shooter was motivated by race. Trayvon was black, and Mr. Zimmerman has a white father and Hispanic mother.

Trayvon 's parents reacted with relief at the charges, with his mother, Sybrina Fulton , thanking all the public outrage from her heart, “which has no color.”

“We simply wanted an arrest. We wanted nothing more, nothing less,” she said at a news conference in Washington after the announcement in Florida. “Thank you, Lord, thank you, Jesus.”

The parents were attending a national conference sponsored by the Rev. Al Sharpton 's National Action Network. Mr. Sharpton quickly took credit for the charges, saying the case had been set aside by authorities until “an outcry from all over this country came because [ Trayvon ‘s] parents refused to leave it there.”

Public authorities “decided to review [the case] based on public pressure” and “had there not been pressure, there would not have been a second look,” Mr. Sharpton said at the televised news conference, which began as soon as Ms. Corey 's news conference had ended.

On Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Zimmerman hired a new attorney after his former counsels said Tuesday that he had cut off contact with them and, as a result, they could no longer represent him.

Mark O'Mara said Wednesday evening that his client would plead not guilty and would ask for bail at Thursday's hearing, despite the possible danger to Mr. Zimmerman , who has become the object of death threats, public vilification and bounties from the Black Panthers.

“I want him around, so I can have free access to him,” Mr. O'Mara said, adding Mr. Zimmerman was “rational” and had been told to “stay calm; listen to my advice.”

He added that he hoped that all the “high emotions” surrounding the case might dissipate and his client can get a fair trial.

“I'm hoping the hatred settles down, now that there is a process moving forward,” Mr. O'Mara said.

Before Ms. Corey 's news conference, streets in downtown Jacksonville were blocked off and security was heightened in anticipation of unrest following the announcement. Gov. Rick Scott urged Floridians to handle the news with calm.

“This matter is now in the hands of the judicial system, and I am confident justice will prevail,” Mr. Scott , a Republican, said in a statement after the charges were announced.

“As the process continues, it is critical that we be patient and allow the proceedings to move forward in a fair and transparent manner,” he said. “I thank State Attorney Angela Corey for her diligence in conducting a thorough investigation. We will all continue to look for answers to the Trayvon Martin tragedy.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney said in advance that President Obama would have no reaction to the charges. Mr. Obama commented on the case March 23, after the case was already under investigation by the Justice Department and FBI, saying that if had a son, “he'd look like Trayvon .”

“I certainly don't expect you'll hear from him about an ongoing investigation,” Mr. Carney said. “I think that he and I, and others, will refrain from commenting on it.”

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Wednesday that the Justice Department is continuing to probe into whether the case merits federal civil-rights charges, although he acknowledged that it would have to meet a “high bar” to warrant federal action.

“I know many of you are greatly — and rightly — concerned about the recent shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin , a young man whose future has been lost to the ages,” Mr. Holder told the National Action Network at its 14th annual convention, which focused on the Martin case.

“If we find evidence of a potential federal criminal civil-rights crime, we will take appropriate action,” Mr. Holder said. “I also can make you another promise: that at every level of today's Justice Department , preventing and combating youth violence and victimization is, and will continue to be, a top priority.”

Trayvon 's father, Tracy Martin, who attended the conference, said before the charges were announced that he had vowed to make sure that his son's death “was not in vain.”

“I can recall calling attorney [Benjamin] Crump. Attorney Crump told me not to worry about it, that they were going to arrest him,” Mr. Martin said. “It's 44 days later, George Zimmerman is still walking free. It's 44 days later, my son is still in a mausoleum.”

The case has placed the spotlight on Florida's “stand your ground” law, which gives citizens greater latitude in using lethal force in self-defense. In a news conference Wednesday in New York, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and black leaders said they planned to launch a national campaign against “stand your ground” laws.

“You just cannot have a civilized society where everybody can have a gun and make their own decisions as to whether someone is threatening or not,” Mr. Bloomberg said.

In the police report, Mr. Zimmerman , a neighborhood watch volunteer, said he was approached as he walked to his truck by Trayvon . The report says the two exchanged words and Trayvon jumped on top of him, causing him to fall to the ground, punched him in the nose and began beating his head against the sidewalk.

Before the fight, Mr. Zimmerman had called 911 to report a suspicious person walking through the community. In a tape of the call, Mr. Zimmerman says “This guy looks like he's up to no good.”

Asked by the 911 operator whether the person was “black, white or Hispanic,” Mr. Zimmerman says, “He looks black.”

That widely played tape was misleadingly edited by NBC to go directly from Mr. Zimmerman saying Trayvon looked suspicious to saying he looks black, with no interruption or query in between.

The operator told Mr. Zimmerman not to follow him, and he responded by complaining that bad guys “always get away.” Mr. Zimmerman says he then walked to his truck, and that Trayvon approached him from behind.

Trayvon 's parents said he had walked to a convenience store to purchase an iced tea and Skittles, and was returning to his father's girlfriend's home.

Several legal analysts on CNN's “Anderson Cooper 360” show Wednesday night agreed that the second-degree murder charge doesn't seem supportable based on what is publicly known and therefore Ms. Corey , who repeatedly declined detailed questions about the case, has to have further facts or witnesses.

“She must. She must have evidence of what happened in those few minutes” before the shooting, Jeffrey Toobin said.

Under Florida law, second-degree murder is a homicide that was not planned but resulted from an “imminently dangerous act” reflecting a “depraved” disregard for life. By contrast, manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years, is a death resulting from a “reckless” but not necessarily “depraved” act.

“Manslaughter would have made more sense given the facts that have become public,” CNN legal analyst Mark Nejame said.



Parole board denies Manson's latest bid

Killer, 77, loses 12th try at freedom

by Tracie Cone

CORCORAN, Calif. — A prison panel denied parole Wednesday to mass murderer Charles Manson in his 12th and probably final bid for freedom.

Manson , now a graybearded 77-year-old, did not attend the hearing where the parole board ruled that he had shown no efforts to rehabilitate himself and would not be eligible for parole for another 15 years.

“This panel can find nothing good as far as suitability factors go,” said John Peck , a member of the panel that met at Corcoran State Prison in Central California.

Also playing heavily into the board's decision, which required 20 minutes of deliberation, was something Manson had said recently to one of his prison psychologists that Mr. Peck read aloud.

” ‘I'm special. I'm not like the average inmate,' ” Mr. Peck quoted Manson as saying. ” ‘I have spent my life in prison. I have put five people in the grave. I am a very dangerous man.' “

Mr. Peck then spoke for the record directly to Manson , who will receive a transcript of the proceedings: “This panel agrees with that statement.”

Manson orchestrated a series of gruesome murders on consecutive nights that terrified the city of Los Angeles in 1969. His trial with three female acolytes - Susan Atkins , Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel - was an international spectacle ending in guilty verdicts and death sentences that later were overturned when the California Supreme Court barred the death penalty.

Referring to the bizarre scene that included bloody scrawling on walls and use of the words “Helter Skelter,” the prosecutor at the time claimed the phrase reflected Manson 's twisted idea that he could cause a race war with the 1969 slaying of actress Sharon Tate , four of her house guests, and, on the next night, supermarket owner Lino LaBianca and his wife Rosemary .

“I'm done with him,” Debra Tate, the sister of Sharon Tate , said after the hearing.

“Two down, six to go,” she added, referring to the prison death of Atkins from a brain tumor and the remaining six people being held in prison for the Tate- LaBianca slayings and other crimes committed under Manson 's watch.

Later, she cried when she described realizing she will never have to worry about Manson going free. “I didn't expect this feeling of joy today,” she said through tears.

For four decades, Miss Tate has traveled to whatever rural California prison has held Manson or his murderous followers for hearings she said are too numerous to count.

“I've tried to take this thing that I do, that has become my lot in life, and make it have purpose,” said Miss Tate , who was 17 in August 1969, when Manson sent his minions across the Los Angeles area on two nights of terror.

Authorities read a litany of Manson 's prison infractions, including the latest - the manufacture and possession of a weapon, for which he is serving 15 months in an isolation unit. He has not completed his GED or taken any self-improvement classes in prison.

“It's obvious from everything in the record that Mr. Manson remains a danger to the public,” Deputy District Attorney Patrick Sequeira said.

Even Manson 's state-appointed attorney, DeJon Lewis, found it difficult to argue for a client who had refused to meet with him. Manson has not appeared at a parole hearing since 1997. His most recent hearing before Wednesday was in 2007.



Have gun, will travel

Congress moves to stop states from stepping on Second Amendment


by Emily Miller

Law-abiding gun owners can run into serious trouble when on the move. Venturing into firearm-unfriendly states creates confusion about what individuals need to do to abide by a confusing maze of regulations. Congress should act to prevent honest citizens from winding up behind bars because police are misinformed.

Rep. Morgan Griffith introduced legislation in late March to strengthen national gun-transport laws. “The most important clarification in this bill is that when you are traveling, as long as your weapon is in a locked container and unloaded, you shouldn't have to worry about being arrested,” the Virginia Republican told The Washington Times.

The danger is real. “Gun owners traveling through states like New York and New Jersey are being harassed by the failure of these local jurisdictions to follow federal law,” said Chris W. Cox , chief lobbyist of the National Rifle Association . “This bill will help ensure that the provisions of the Firearm Owners Protection Act are enforced throughout the country.”

Mr. Cox is referring to a statute that protects individuals transporting firearms from any local restrictions that would otherwise prohibit passage. Guns can be moved between any two places where they can be legally possessed as long as they are properly stowed.

The House legislation makes it clear that travelers have the right to make stops, overriding any state laws that only allow transport directly to and from a firearm-related activity. This would clarify that it is lawful to get gas, buy food, perform vehicle maintenance, obtain emergency medical treatment or conduct any other incidental activity. Resting in temporary lodging overnight is also allowed.

The bill makes clear that transporting properly stowed ammunition is protected by Congress . Last month, a New Jersey appellate court upheld felony charges against Brian Aitken for bringing ammo along with his legally owned firearms as he moved between residences.

Some state and local governments consider federal law as an “affirmative defense” that may only be raised after an arrest. To stop this practice, Mr. Griffith 's bill shifts the burden of proof so law enforcement can only act with probable cause that federal law has been breached.

To ensure compliance, the legislation mandates that courts pay the legal bill for anyone who successfully uses the federal transport law as a defense in a criminal case. “If a state violates a federal law and then turns around and has to pay attorneys' fees, I think states across the country will quickly make sure that all the local law enforcement know what the rules are,” said Mr. Griffith , a former criminal-defense attorney.

The Washington Times series “Emily Gets Her Gun” has documented how D.C. officials have been misinforming the public about transport laws. The actual rules aren't nearly as restrictive as the Metropolitan Police Department claims on its website. This federal legislation would force the District to accept the reality that tourists passing through the nation's capital are welcome to bring their firearms with them.



From Google News


Neighborhood Watch Proposed for Arson-Prone Superior

by Jacob Kittilstad - FOX 21 News

SUPERIOR - After a series of destructive arsons the Superior Police Department is considering creating a neighborhood watch.

It has been decades since the community organized a watch, a police representative said, but four weeks of fires could motivate its renewal.

But City Councilor Warren Bender says watch groups have caught a bad connotation after the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida by a self-proclaimed neighborhood watchman.

Used safely with clear guidelines, however, authorities say it just means more chances to catch criminals in the act.

Police say, on March 20, an arson fire happened in a garage on Superior's north end.

One week later something similar happened in a vacant house next door.

Last week, two fires were set to a car and campers and without a suspect.

Superior Community Policing Officer Bonnie Beste says the department feels open to restarting a neighborhood watch.

"There was one that was even before my time here with Superior and I've been here for 14 years now,” Beste said at her regular meeting with community members on Wednesday.

Now those involved with community safety could play a larger role.

"We're still working on those phases of getting our own paperwork written up and we're looking to our community for those volunteers right now who are interested, making sure we have that backing of interest,” Beste said.

"I think it's going to make a huge difference,” Superior resident Marv Swonger said. "On John and Broadway for a great amount of stretch. It's really, really dark."

The main criticism of the plan is the idea of a watch often burns bright at the start, but fades quickly when a supposed crime wave stops, Councilor Warren Bender said.

The burns, however, have at least re-ignited a spirit of community service.

"To have those extra eyes and ears out there where the police can't be all the time is going to reduce crime, I believe, in our community in our city,” Beste said.

There are still no suspects in the arsons.

Superior Police would appreciate any information you may have about them.