NEWS of the Day - May 19, 2012
on some LACP issues of interest

NEWS of the Day - May 19, 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 L.A. Daily News

Suspected white supremacist reportedly planned attack on Mexican consulate

by Amy Forliti

MINNEAPOLIS - A Minnesota man with suspected ties to white supremacist groups planned to attack the Mexican consulate in St. Paul, believing it would stir debate on immigration amnesty issues ahead of the 2012 presidential election, according to a federal affidavit obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

Joseph Benjamin Thomas also told an undercover FBI agent he considered himself a "domestic terrorist" instead of an American and would risk his life for the white supremacist movement in the event of a "race war," the FBI affidavit said.

The document, recently unsealed in federal court, provides new details about the investigation into Thomas' alleged plan. He was indicted in April on drug charges, though authorities had been watching him and another man since 2010 as part of a domestic terrorism probe. The affidavit said he'd amassed weapons and wanted to attack minorities, people with left-leaning political beliefs and government officials.

Thomas, 42, is not facing any terrorism-related charges. His attorney did not return a phone message Thursday, and the U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment.

"We consider him a threat, and we believe he had the capacity to carry these threats out," FBI spokesman Kyle Loven said in an interview Thursday. "This was a lengthy investigation, and it was driven by our belief that the intentions of these persons were sincere."

In addition to the plot against the consulate, the FBI alleges, Thomas had collected license plate numbers of people with Barack Obama bumper stickers and had asked an associate to volunteer at a left-leaning bookstore to obtain customers' addresses.

The affidavit alleges that Thomas and another man arrested in April, 31-year-old Samuel James Johnson, were trying to form a supremacist group with a militant wing. Thomas told an undercover agent he expected a race war within two years and that his group would be able to control an interstate and airports to prevent the military from coming into Minnesota, the affidavit said.

In the plot against the consulate, Thomas allegedly told an undercover agent he wanted to steal a pickup truck, load it with barrels of oil and gas, drive it into the consulate and allow the mixture to spill, then set it ablaze with a road flare. Thomas also said he'd found recipes for the mixture and instructions for making napalm, the affidavit said.

The affidavit alleged Thomas wanted to carry out the attack on May 1, a day used in recent years by activists in the U.S. to hold rallies for immigrant rights. But he later said the attack couldn't happen that day, blaming personal reasons and noting more police were in the area, the affidavit said.

FBI agents reported seeing Thomas conducting surveillance on the consulate building in December. At that point, he told an undercover agent he wasn't sure if the plot should move forward but continued to develop it and found a place where 55-gallon barrels could be stolen.

Thomas also suggested placing hoax explosive devices along the May Day parade route in the Twin Cities, saying he had video of prior parades so he could identify parade participants.

Ana Luisa Fajer, the consul of Mexico based in St. Paul, said the consulate was "duly and timely" notified of Thomas' alleged plot.

"We take these threats very seriously and appreciate the full support we have received from the outset," she said in a phone interview, adding that the consulate's security protocols have been reinforced.

"Expressions of hate are the ones that motivated the alleged plotter," she said. "These things exist, but we definitely think it's an isolated voice here."

Thomas, from the St. Paul suburb of Mendota Heights, was indicted on four charges related to possession and sale of methamphetamine, while Johnson, of Austin, Minn., was indicted on weapons charges. The indictment said Johnson's prior convictions barred him from having weapons, though he was found with five - including a semi-automatic assault rifle - and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition.

Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research for the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks extremist groups nationwide, said weapons charges are common in such cases because it's hard for prosecutors to prove terror charges based on someone's planning.

"In my 18 years of having tracked extremists, I think that weapons charges are among the most sure to stick," he said. "Weapons charges are pretty common among most major right wing extremist movements because they love guns."

According to an affidavit unsealed last month, Johnson was a former member and Minnesota leader of the National Socialist Movement, a white nationalist group, and he and Thomas were trying to form a spinoff group called the Aryan Liberation Movement with the intent of committing violence.



From the Washington Times

9/11 families upset over ground zero museum delays

by Samantha Gross

NEW YORK — They were promised a place to mourn their loved ones, display their photographs and educate their children and the children of strangers about exactly what was lost on 9/11. But today, family members of those killed have no completion date for the museum that is to be built alongside the Sept. 11 memorial at ground zero — and many are upset.

“The memorial is open, but that's only half the tribute to those who were killed,” said Patricia Reilly, who lost her sister in the attacks. “The museum is the place where they're going to tell the story about the people — who they were, where they were, what they were doing and what happened to them that day.”

Construction of the museum — originally scheduled to open on the 11th anniversary of the attacks — has largely ground to a halt amid a financial dispute between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site, and the foundation that controls the memorial and museum. After months of little obvious progress, some family members are increasingly worried that the powers that share control of the area are backsliding into the kind of politically driven dysfunction that once paralyzed the site.

“They shouldn't allow disagreement to get in the way,” said Reilly, who especially wants the museum to be completed so she can go there to visit the thousands of fragments of human remains too damaged to identify with DNA testing. No trace of her sister, Lorraine Lee , who worked on the 101st floor of the World Trade Center 's south tower, has been identified.

“We were supposed to get a contemplative area nearby where we could sit and pray, visit,” she said. “I'm waiting for the remains to find their final resting place.”

Work has been slowed since late last year, when the subcontractors at the site stopped getting paid. The Port Authority claimed the Sept. 11 memorial foundation owed it $300 million for infrastructure and revised project costs, while the foundation argued the port instead owed it money because of project delays. Three powerful political figures have been entangled in the dispute: The governors of New York and New Jersey control the port, while New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the foundation's chairman.

Last month, Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye said there had been “significant progress” toward a resolution, but any deal has yet to materialize. On Thursday, a spokesman for the port would say only that discussions were continuing. A spokesman for the foundation declined to comment about the families' concerns.

Officials have said publicly there is no way to complete the museum by this year's anniversary of the attacks, but no formal communication has gone out to the families to inform them of the delays and keep them apprised, some family members said.

In the meantime, personal items and mementos that families have donated to the museum are in a sort of limbo, with many wrapped and packed away in storage spaces that hold everything from damaged fire engines to children's drawings.

“There are people out there … who hold these items as very, very precious,” said Debra Burlingame , a foundation board member whose own family's donation has been put on hold until the dispute is resolved. They will donate a prayer card that her brother was carrying when his plane flew into the Pentagon. Somehow, the small card survived the fire, inscribed with the words “Blessed are those who mourn.”

Burlingame wants to make sure her brother's story survives.

“You have children who were very young on 9/11 or maybe not even born yet who have no idea what actually happened that day,” she said. “That story needs to be told, and it needs to be preserved for future generations.”

The subcontractors at the site were recently paid $15 million that had been owed to them, but they won't return to the job until there's an agreement on future payment and a new schedule is adopted, said Ron Berger, the executive director of the Subcontractors Trade Association. Berger said this week his union is meeting with officials about future plans and he's expecting a new completion date of June or July 2013 — a decision that would raise project costs further because of the overtime required. But no deal can be made until the port and the foundation come to an agreement.

For some family members, the problems at the 16-acre site feel like an unpleasant flashback. In 2005 and 2006, bitter negotiations between the Port Authority and private developer Larry Silverstein stalled construction on all the office towers planned for the site, with port officials calling Silverstein greedy for demanding givebacks on the rent he paid, and Silverstein saying the agency had never turned over buildable land for his office towers. In 2006, the memorial was redesigned after its projected cost rocketed and some began to question whether the project could move forward.

“It's all politics, and it's ridiculous,” said Jim Riches , whose firefighter son died in the trade center. “They should put politics aside and get down to business.”

Riches has given the museum the crushed helmet found next to his son's body when it was unearthed six months after the attacks. He can ask for it back at any time, he notes, but he won't — despite his frustration with the delays.

“Maybe 20 years from now, 50 years from now — they won't know who I am, they won't know who my son is,” Riches said. “But you know what? Some little kid is going to go in there and say, ‘Look at this, this fireman went in there to help people, and then he was crushed to death by these terrorists.' … It's a powerful message.”



From Google News


Holyoke community bands together to end crime

by Cherise Leclerc

HOLYOKE, MA (WSHM) - Friday night, the sound of a community coming together was the shouts and bounces of a basketball on the hardwood in a neighborhood basketball game.

On the outside it looked like any school basketball game, but Friday night it was kids versus police, and they wouldn't have it any other way.

"It feels good, it's better for our neighborhood," said 15-year-old David Cruz.

Right now Cruz's dream is to become a professional basketball player.

It's dreams like that that the South Holyoke Safe Neighborhood Initiative is trying to protect through holding monthly outreach programs, like Friday nights when organizations reach out to the youth.

"It's trying to get service providers, law enforcement faith agencies and the community all coming together to build community so we can come together as a team," said Eddie Caisse, director of the Neighborhood Watch Program.

Some say it takes a village to raise a child, and in the south of Holyoke, the phrase holds true.

Here, police, community activists, parents and teachers are all working side by side to take at-risk youth and ease them down a path free from crime.

"It's just different organizations that want to see people in Holyoke change," said David McCoy with the South Holyoke Safe Neighborhood Initiative.

It's a change residents say is desperately needed in a city where the crime rate nearly triples that of the United States average, according to citydata.com.

And according to those involved, the initiative in partnership with Holyoke Police Department's community policing is working.

"We'll go and talk to some of the young guys, and you can just see they really want to change," said McCoy.

For Cruz, it might mean a game of one-on-one and having fun with police officers in his neighborhood, but to those in the initiative, it's a sign toward progress.

"We want all of them not only to graduate, but we want them to go on to college the military, become professionals. We don't want to see any of them become gang members, drug dealers or criminals," said Caisse.