Just short time ago, Reuters posted a story on the efforts of attorneys in the Trayvon Martin case to keep George Zimmerman’s statement to police under seal until the trial. The prosecution claims that Zimmerman made “self-incriminating statements to police” that could be used to demonstrate his guilt. According to the prosecution motion:
“Defendant (Zimmerman) has provided law enforcement with numerous statements, some of which are contradictory, and are inconsistent with the physical evidence and statements of witnesses,” the prosecutors said in their court filing.
They said the statements by Zimmerman were admissible in court and “in conjunction with other statements and evidence help to establish defendant’s guilt in this case.”
The court filing offered no details about the statements Zimmerman made to police or other law enforcement officials. It said Florida’s public records law had no provision requiring “the disclosure of a confession” of a defendant.
“The state asserts that this provision includes an admission of a defendant that could be used against him at trial,” the filing said.
Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, apparently agrees with the prosecution’s petition. Today he:
filed a seven-page document asking Judge Kenneth Lester for a 30-day period to review evidence in the case before it is made public.
O’Mara argued that some evidence the state has collected may be inadmissible and could inflame tensions in the racially charged controversy and jeopardize Zimmerman’s right to a fair trial.
Zimmerman gave at least five statements to police at different times. Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda also requested that Zimmerman’s cell phone records remain sealed along with those of a friend of Trayvon Martin’s who was talking with him shortly before the shooting.
The prosecution evidence that was given to George Zimmerman’s defense last week was released by Special Prosecutor Angela Corey’s office this afternoon. You can read the documents here.
Before the release, someone managed to get out a bit more information favorable to Zimmerman, specifically the fact that Trayvon Martin had traces of THC in his blood and urine when he was killed. From CNN:
Martin’s blood contained THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, according to an autopsy conducted February 27 — the day after the teenager was shot dead.
Toxicology tests found elements of the drug in the teenager’s chest blood — 1.5 nanograms per milliliter of one type (THC), as well as 7.3 nanograms of another type (THC-COOH) — according to the medical examiner’s report. There was also a presumed positive test of cannabinoids in Martin’s urine. It was not immediately clear how significant these amounts were.
Concentrations of THC routinely rise to 100 to 200 ng/ml after marijuana use, though it typically falls to below 5 ng/ml within three hours of it being smoked, according to information on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website.
While some states have zero-tolerance policies for any drug traces for driving while impaired, others set certain benchmarks, the website of California’s Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs notes. In Nevada, that equates to 2 ng/ml for THC and 5 ng/ml for THC-COOH — also known as marijuana metabolite. The cutoff level in Ohio is 2 ng/ml for THC and 50 ng/ml for THC-COOH.
THC is detectable for weeks and sometimes longer after use, so it doesn’t sound like this is a big deal. Leaked information from his school file had already revealed that Trayvon had be caught with a plastic bag containing pot residue. The fact that a 17-year-old smoked pot is not exactly an earthshaking revelation, although I’m sure the defense will make much of it.
The autopsy also showed that he was shot from “intermediate range.” From Fox News:
Dr. Michael Baden, the former New York City medical examiner, said “intermediate” in such cases is defined as the muzzle of the gun being one to 18 inches away from the entry point when fired.
“If the muzzle is right against the skin, that’s a contact wound,” Baden said. Anything beyond 18 inches is considered “distant” range in coroner’s parlance, Baden said.
The only other injury to Trayvon’s body was a small cut on his “left ring finger below the knuckle, 1/8 to 1/4 inch long.
I plan to read as much of the evidence as I can, but for now there are several summaries available in the media. The Miami Herald reports some witness statements:
Conflicting witnesses described agonizing calls for help, and some thought they heard two shots.
The witness statements include one eyewitness who said he saw a man in a red shirt getting hit by someone else. When he returned for a second look, the man who was hitting the other was dead.
“I heard yelling out back in the grass area,” the unnamed witness said. “…I opened door and saw a guy on the ground getting hit by another man on top of him in a … position hitting a guy in a red sweatshirt or red top. I said I was calling the cops and ran upstairs then heard a gun shot. … The guy on top who was sitting the guy … layed out on the grass as he had been shot.”
Another witness saw a “broad man” on top hitting another. The evidence list shows Zimmerman wore a size 38. His shirt was red.
“First we heard like a howling sound. And then the second time we heard a more-clearly ‘help’ sound,” the witness said. “I know after seeing the TV of what’s happening — comparing their pictures — I think Zimmerman is definitely on top because of his size.”
According to The Orlando Sentinel, police said the “Encounter between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin ‘avoidable,’”
Newly released evidence in the case against George Zimmerman shows that Sanford Police believed the encounter between Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin was “ultimately avoidable,” if Zimmerman had “remained in his vehicle and awaited the arrival of law enforcement,” according to hundreds of pages of evidence in the case released this afternoon.
The Sentinel article says that Trayvon had “a scratch on one hand” in addition to the small cut on his left ring finger. The article contains a more complete description of Trayvon’s girl friend’s report on their conversations.
An unnamed girl, the one identified by the Martin family attorney as Trayvon’s girlfriend, told Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda that she and Trayvon talked on the phone daily and had known each other since Kindergarten.
The girl told the prosecutor that she and Trayvon talked on and off as he went to the store to buy a snack. She said Trayvon told her he took shelter from the rain under an overhang while walking back to his father’s girlfriend’s home.
Minutes later, she said, Trayvon told her a white man in a vehicle was watching him. Trayvon started walking, and the call cut off, she said. When she called back, “he said he’s walking, and he said this man is still following him.”
The girl said Trayvon started running, “and then, he said he lost him [Zimmerman],” she said, adding that the teen’s “voice kind of changed… I could tell he was scared.” The girl said she told Trayvon to keep running, but “he said he ain’t gonna run. He said he’s right by his father’s house.”
“And in a couple minutes, he said a man’s following him again, he’s behind him,” she said. “I say, ‘run.’”
She said Trayvon was breathing hard. She said Trayvon asked “Why are you following me for?” and a man’s voice said, “What are you doing around here?” Then, she heard a noise and the call cut off.
Police found several blood spots on George Zimmerman’s shirt, but the blood was all Zimmerman’s.
ABC News, which has seemingly become the George Zimmerman support network, concludes that all the evidence supports Zimmerman’s story. Based on ABC’s reporting, you have to wonder why Angela Corey even bothered to charge Zimmerman with a crime.
According to ABC, Trayvon Martin’s father told an investigator that the voice calling for help on a witness’s 911 tape was not his son. That will certainly be problematic for the prosecution, although the mother swears the voice was Trayvon’s.
A couple of other bits of news related to the case.
TPM reports that contributions to Zimmerman’s defense fund have slowed down.
Late Wednesday, Zimmerman’s defense team said he had only been able to raise about $15,000 since the new site went live on May 3. The biggest donation was $3,000, they said, while most ranged between $25 and $100.
While that still averages more than $1,000 a day, it’s a far cry from the rate Zimmerman was hauling in on his own.
The Smoking Gun has obtained a letter that George Zimmerman wrote to a supporter while he was in jail. Here’s the money quote:
Days before bonding out of a Florida jail, George Zimmerman wrote that he believed “this will all work out for me in the future,” adding, “I have given my burden to the Lord and he has blessed me with tremendous patience!”
Well, goody for him.
Monday Evening Reads: Bill Clinton’s Advice, Romney and Rubio, George Zimmerman, and Stupid RepublicansPosted: April 23, 2012
Good Evening! It hasn’t been a particularly busy news day, but I have a few updates for you tonight.
According to Politico, the Obama campaign is changing it’s attacks on Mitt Romney based on some suggestions from Bill Clinton. The original approach was to paint Romney as a man without a moral or ideological “core.” Clinton, according to Politico argued that it would be better to focus on
Romney’s description of himself as a “severe conservative,” to deny him any chance to tack back to the center, according to three Democrats close to the situation.
“[Clinton] said he thought Romney’s positions on the issues would ultimately be the best way to attack him,” said a Democrat briefed on the details of an amiable Nov. 9 meeting in Clinton’s Harlem office that included Axelrod, Democratic National Committee Executive Director Patrick Gaspard and Obama campaign manager Jim Messina.
“That’s what we are doing, but it doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t do the etch-a-sketch, flip-flop moments when they occur and we will,” added the operative — who says Obama’s campaign likely would have emphasized Romney’s conservative tilt once the primary was over, anyway.
But Clinton’s advice, buttressed by Benenson’s polling, has clearly gained traction internally since the end of Romney’s four-month primary ordeal.
Well, I can’t imagine a more expert political consultant than Bill Clinton, can you?
A new report from the Pew Hispanic Center shows that the number of illegal immigrants coming from Mexico has been falling because of the lack of jobs in the U.S. NY Daily News:
Roughly 6.1 million unauthorized Mexican immigrants were living in the U.S. last year, down from a peak of nearly 7 million in 2007, according to the Pew Hispanic Center study released Monday. It was the biggest sustained drop in modern history, believed to be surpassed in scale only by losses in the Mexican-born U.S. population during the Great Depression.
Much of the drop in illegal immigrants is due to the persistently weak U.S. economy, which has shrunk construction and service-sector jobs attractive to Mexican workers following the housing bust. But increased deportations, heightened U.S. patrols and violence along the border also have played a role, as well as demographic changes, such as Mexico’s declining birth rate.
In all, the Mexican-born population in the U.S. last year — legal and illegal — fell to 12 million, marking an end to an immigration boom dating back to the 1970s, when foreign-born residents from Mexico stood at 760,000. The 2007 peak was 12.6 million.
The New York and Pennsylvania primaries will be held tomorrow, but there isn’t much excitement about them anymore. Other states voting tomorrow are Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island.
In Pennsylvania, Romney was campaigning with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
Without overshadowing Romney, Rubio on Monday hammered home the former Massachusetts governor’s position on Iran and helped Romney attack President Barack Obama’s energy policy.
In a brief question-and-answer session with reporters, Romney said he’d consider Rubio’s immigration proposal to find a way to allow young people who came to the country illegally as children to stay here if they’re in school or the military.
It sounds like the Obama campaign should get busy pinning Romney down on the cruel immigration policy he has been pushing throughout the primaries.
Romney also tried to appeal to younger voters by joining Obama in backing a bill to prevent doubling of student loan interest rates.
ASTON, Pa. — As the White House ramps up its push to woo young voters by urging Congress to head off a scheduled increase in student loan interest rates, GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney struck back Monday, throwing his support behind an extension of the current rates at a campaign event outside Philadelphia.
The former Massachusetts governor made the announcement at a press availability with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, the first joint appearance of Romney and the Florida Republican whose name is often floated as a top choice for his running mate.
“There’s one thing that I wanted to mention, that I forgot to mention at the very beginning, and that was that particularly with the number of college graduates that can’t find work or that can only find work well beneath their skill level, I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans,” Romney said at the end of a seven-minute joint news conference with Rubio.
I have a few updates on the Trayvon Martin case. At one minute after midnight, George Zimmerman was let out of jail after posting bail. He will be going to a undisclosed location, reportedly outside of Florida.
Wherever George Zimmerman went after he was released on bond from a Florida jail, a sensitive GPS device will pinpoint his location for authorities and alert them if he drifts even a few feet away from where he is allowed.
Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, went into hiding Monday as he awaits trial. He must pay an $8-a-day fee to use the device, which is generally used to track people charged in domestic violence cases.
According to the WaPo,
Local bail bondsmen whose clients have worn the same device used to pinpoint Zimmerman said it is highly sensitive and can send messages to authorities in real-time….
Seminole County Sheriff’s officials are offering few details on how Zimmerman will be specifically monitored, other than to say the device he is wearing has the same 24/7 capabilities it uses to track accused domestic violence offenders. Zimmerman may be residing outside of Florida for safety reasons.
The monitoring program has been in use since 2003 in Seminole and provides “real-time monitoring of an offender’s movements and is capable of monitoring anywhere in the U.S.,” according to a sheriff’s office news release.
Later this morning, Sanford, FL police chief Bill Lee, who has been on leave with pay, submitted his final resignation; but the move was rejected by the Sanford city commissioners at a hastily-called meeting.
Earlier Monday, the city announced in a statement that a separation agreement had been reached with Lee to resign. If it was approved by the City Commission, it would have taken effect at midnight.
But by a 3-2 vote, the commission opted not to accept the proposed deal, which would have permanently dismissed Lee from the job and given him a severance package. Two commissioners had questioned the fairness of Lee losing his job, while Mayor Jeff Triplett said he preferred to wait possibly several months for the results of an investigation into Lee and his department….
Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for Martin’s family, criticized the commission for not letting Lee step down.
“Sanford residents deserve quality leadership in law enforcement who will handle investigations fairly for all people,” he said. “If Chief Bill Lee recognized that his resignation would help start the healing process in Sanford, city leadership should have accepted it in an effort to move the city forward.”
Sanford City Manager Norton N. Bonaparte had supported the resignation.
Benjamin Crump also criticized George Zimmerman and his defense attorneys over a photo of Zimmerman’s head with two small cuts with blood coming out of them.
An attorney for Trayvon Martin’s family believes their son’s shooter is lying about injuries he sustained the night he killed the unarmed 17-year-old.
“If this is any indication of what’s to come, then the lying has already begun,” attorney Ben Crump told reporters on Sunday, while promoting a documentary at the Florida Film Festival on another case….
“When you look at those pictures and you see those two little cuts on his head, that is not consistent with your head being pounded into the pavement,” said Crump. “Objective evidence, evidence we can see and touch, is more important than whatever George Zimmerman says because we have to remember Trayvon Martin isn’t here to tell us his version of what happened.”
Crump pointed to the 911 call where someone is heard screaming before the fatal gunshot.
Democrats in Congress have been pushing for reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, but Texas Sen. John Cornyn says that Democrats are just trying to ‘score cheap political points.’ with their efforts to renew the bill.
Republicans oppose the current reauthorization bill because it would allow battered undocumented immigrants to claim temporary visas, and expand protections to same sex couples and Native American tribes.
All eight Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against renewing the law and Democrats were quick to denounce them, linking their opposition to the bill to the so-called “war on women.”
“The law was enacted to protect and serve the interests of crime victims, not to help a political party fire up its base,” Cornyn continue. “Moreover, to argue that a minor policy disagreement indicates a lack of sensitivity toward battered women is simply beyond the pale.”
In Missouri, a Republican woman who is running for the senate against current Sen. Claire McCaskill says she is “not sure” what the Violence Against Women Act is.
Former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, a Republican now hoping to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), said recently that she was unfamiliar with the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the landmark anti-domestic violence legislation whose re-authorization is now stalled in the Senate….
A video released today by the Missouri Democratic Party shows a man asking Steelman about VAWA at a campaign event. Steelman replies, “I’m not sure what that is because I’m not serving right now.” He asks again, “you haven’t really heard about it?” And she confirms, “no, not really.”
What stories have you been following today?
Good Evening! The big news today is that Minkoff Minx is back home and resting after her surgery. She even managed to send off an e-mail to the rest of the administrators, so she might even be reading this–if so, hi there, Minx!
I have several updates on the Trayvon Martin case. The city of Sanford is preparing for the aftermath of the special prosecutor Angela Corey’s decision on whether or not she will order the arrest of George Zimmerman.
Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett said on Thursday that the city’s emergency management team has met regularly with the U.S Department of Justice to construct a plan. Officials said extra police officers and fire department officials are on standby. Neighboring agencies have also been asked to assist, if needed.
“You always prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Triplett said. “We’re planning for the ‘what-if’ case scenario, and that would be to make sure that all of our citizens get the protection they pay their taxes for.”
The grand jury ordered by Governor Rick Scott is scheduled for next Tuesday, April 10, so Corey is expected to decide soon.
If she finds probable cause, Corey could direct-file the charges anytime or present evidence to a Seminole County grand jury, which was tentatively scheduled to meet on Tuesday. The grand jury could indict, ask to hear more evidence, or decline to indict.
Since the Stand Your Ground Law has been invoked by Zimmerman, even if charges are filed, a judge could review the case and grant immunity, thus dismissing the charges.
Corey previously stated that she may not need the grand jury. I’ll be honest: I just have a gut feeling that she will decline to charge Zimmerman. I hope I’m wrong, but Corey is known for charging juvenile offenders very harshly and trying them as adults. Last year, she charged a 12-year-old boy with first degree murder and ordered him tried as an adult in the death of his two-year-old brother. HuffPo reports that Corey
is known for her tough tactics aimed at locking up criminals for long sentences and making it difficult to negotiate light plea bargains.
Furthermore, 57-year-old Angela Corey has handled hundreds of homicide cases involving the justifiable use of deadly force – experience that could prove invaluable.
On the other hand, they also report that Corey is exceedingly close to the Sheriff’s office and police. One colleague told HuffPo that she is “too close” to them.
George Zimmerman has a new attorney who is a former police officer, now a criminal defense attorney, who has experience with the media. But that experience did not serve him well today when he suggested in a TV interview that Zimmerman may have suffered from “shaken baby syndrome” after Trayvon Martin supposedly bashed his head on the sidewalk. Except that the new attorney is now claiming his client’s head was bashed into the “ground.” (Just a side note: neither of Zimmerman’s attorneys has actually met him in person yet. They’ve only talked with him on the phone.)
Hal Uhrig, a lawyer and former Gainesville, Florida, police officer who recently joined Zimmerman’s defense team, cited in a TV interview the brain damage that can seriously injure or kill an infant.
His point, which has been made before, was that Zimmerman contends he shot Martin in self defense and feared for his life after the 17-year-old attacked him and began pounding his head into the concrete pavement of a gated community on a rainy evening in Sanford on February 26.
But Uhrig’s choice of words, and use of a recognized sign of child abuse to defend a 28-year-old man who killed a kid, seemed likely to raise more than just a few eyebrows.
“We’re familiar with the Shaken Baby Syndrome,” said Uhrig on the CBS This Morning program. “You shake a baby, the brain shakes around inside the skull. You can die when someone’s pounding your head into the ground.”
Shaken baby syndrome can occur in very young infants because their skulls are still soft, they aren’t yet in control of their neck and limbs, and their heads are very large in proportion to their bodies. Adults can obviously suffer serious head trauma leading to internal bleeding and death, but if EMT’s believed that had happened to Zimmerman they would have insisted he be transported to a hospital.
One of Uhrig’s first actions after taking the job was to get rid of Zimmerman’s “friend” Joe Oliver (now being called a “media adviser”), who made innumerable embarrassing media appearances in which presented a number of inconsistent explanations of what supposedly happened the night of the shooting.
A group of about 40 Florida college students have organized a 3-day march from Daytona Beach to Sanford (41 miles), Florida to demand racial equality in honor of Trayvon Martin. The march is “modeled after the historic 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala.”
They call themselves the Dream Defenders. The march began earlier today.
The campaign began at Daisy Stocking Park and will conclude on April 9 at Sanford City Hall. During the march, students will be stopping every two hours and receiving training. They will also work on developing a strategy to launch a larger youth movement to address racial inequalities. Their first stop is the Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center for a prayer vigil and speakout. You can track the group as they march on their website.
The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office and police officers in Daytona Beach, DeLand and Orange City are coordinating and will be helping with traffic control to make sure the students are safe while crossing busy highways.
Vanessa Baden, a 2007 alumna of Florida State, flew in from Los Angeles to attend the march on behalf of Dream Defenders. She said the purpose of the march is to call for the arrest of George Zimmerman and the investigation of the process of law enforcement following the shooting of Trayvon Martin.
“What we’re not trying to do is try Zimmerman in the court of public opinion. We get that there’s a process in this,” Baden said. “We’ll be patient with the process if they allow the process to begin.”
The group expects other college students to join the march along the way. Good for them. I know darn well if Martin Luther King were still alive, he would be there too.
Unfortunately, a group of “armed neo-Nazis” is already in Sanford, supposedly to help in riot control after Angela Corey makes her decision.
Neo-Nazis are currently conducting heavily armed patrols in and around Sanford, Florida and are “prepared” for violence in the case of a race riot. The patrols are to protect “white citizens in the area who are concerned for their safety” in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting last month, says Commander Jeff Schoep of the National Socialist Movement. “We are not advocating any type of violence or attacks on anybody, but we are prepared for it,” he says. “We are not the type of white people who are going to be walked all over.”
Because nothing diffuses racial tension like gun-toting racial separatists patrolling an already on-edge community.
Lots of audio “experts” are still analyzing Zimmerman’s initial 911 tape to see if he used word “coons” in a whispered utterance. CNN’s expert claims Zimmerman said “fucking cold.” Another expert says it was “fucking punks.”
In addition, I found this slowed down tape of the 911 call by a witness. It was posted by a self-described “audio person.” You can hear screams for help in the background, then a gunshot, and another sound after the shot. It sounded like a scream after the gunshot to me.
NBC has fired a producer who edited the Zimmerman 911 tape and played the edited version on the Today Show as if it were the original.
The person was fired on Thursday, according to two people with direct knowledge of the disciplinary action who declined to be identified discussing internal company matters. They also declined to name the fired producer. A spokeswoman for NBC News declined to comment.
The action came in the wake of an internal investigation by NBC News into the production of the segment, which strung together audio clips in such a way that made George Zimmerman’s shooting of Mr. Martin sound racially motivated. Ever since the Feb. 26 shooting, there has been a continuing debate about whether race was a factor in the incident.
The segment in question was shown on the “Today” show on March 27. It included audio of Mr. Zimmerman saying, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.”
But Mr. Zimmerman’s comments had been taken grossly out of context by NBC. On the phone with a 911 dispatcher, he actually said of Mr. Martin, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.” Then the dispatcher asked, “O.K., and this guy — is he white, black or Hispanic?” Only then did Mr. Zimmerman say, “He looks black.”
Obviously, the editing was misleading, but I actually think the real 911 tape sounds worse and more racially biased. JMNSHO.
Family and friends of George Zimmerman are starting a website to raise funds for his defense and his living expenses. The reporter, Frances Robles says that Zimmerman has suffered “weeks of withering media coverage lambasting him and his supporters…” I’d say the lambasting of Trayvon Martin has been even more “withering,” but of course he no longer has “living expenses,” because George Zimmerman shot and killed him. But what do I know? Poor George….
Robles also notes that Zimmerman has attract some troubling supporters
such as white supremacists and the Rev. Terry Jones, the Gainesville pastor who announced last year plans to burn the Quran and now plans to hold a rally for Zimmerman. Gun ownership advocacy groups have also announced intentions to contribute $10,000 towards Zimmerman’s defense.
But one of Martin’s attorneys points out that
“It’s a PR strategy, a propaganda campaign,” said Natalie Jackson, an attorney for Trayvon’s parents. “His friends and family are doing him a big disservice by race-baiting. They are trying to divide a jury. Frank Taaffe, Joe Oliver, everybody gets up there and says, ‘George Zimmerman is not a racist.’ That’s not what we’re talking about.
“We’re talking about whether he was justified in taking Trayvon Martin’s life.”
I agree with Jackson that the racism issue is a red herring. It’s up to the FBI to decide whether this was a hate crime or not. But Zimmerman needs to be arrested and charged. Then he can plead his case for self-defense to a judge and jury instead of the media.
Feel free to discuss any topic on this thread. I decided to focus on the Martin case because there was so much news coming out today on it, and it has otherwise been a pretty slow news day because of the upcoming christian holiday.
Tuesday Reads: Wisconsin Recall, Willard on the Defensive, SCOTUS, Another School Shooting, and Trayvon Martin UpdatesPosted: April 3, 2012
Today is the Wisconsin primary, but there isn’t much suspense. It looks like Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee, even though no one really likes him. I guess Romney wants the job so bad, he doesn’t care that that he’s basically a laughing stock. [UPDATE: Maryland and the District of Columbia also hold their primaries today.]
Yesterday, Romney was asked some uncomfortable questions at a Town Hall meeting in Howard, Wisconsin. One man, a Ron Paul supporter, asked Romney whether he agreed with Mormon Church scriptures that say interracial marriage is sinful. Romney became visibly upset.
The questioner, Bret Hatch, 28, a local supporter of Rep. Ron Paul’s, read from typed notes as he asked Romney whether he agreed with a verse from Moses 7:8 from the “Pearl of Great Price.” As he began citing the verse, Romney interrupted: “I’m sorry, we’re just not going to have a discussion about religion in my view. But if you have a question, I’ll be happy to answer your question.”
Hatch asked his question. “If you become president,” he asked, “do you believe it’s a sin for a white man to marry and procreate with a black?”
“No,” Romney said. “Next question.”
Then another person asked Romney “about his ability to connect to average Americans.” Romney then cited his experience as a church leader in the Boston area.
“That gave me the occasion to work with people on a very personal basis that were dealing with unemployment, with marital difficulties, with health difficulties of their own and with their kids,”
He then claimed that he is running for President because he wants to help people like that.
The big excitement in Wisconsin isn’t about the primary, but about the recall of Governor Scott Walker.
For Wisconsinites, the most important political news of the season came Friday, when the state’s Government Accountability Board announced that the effort to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker had amassed enough valid signatures to force an election June 5. It will be the first such election in state history, and if Wisconsin votes out Walker, he will be only the third sitting governor in U.S. history to be recalled, joining North Dakota’s Lynn Frazier in 1921 and California’s Gray Davis in 2003.
The precipitating event was Walker’s quick move, upon taking office, to reward the 1 percent with a tax cut while asking the 99 percent to sacrifice. He didn’t campaign on his antipathy for public unions. Yet within his first few weeks as governor, Walker declared war on public-sector workers (except for police and firefighters, many of whom supported his candidacy), cutting benefits, limiting pay increases and sharply curtailing collective bargaining rights, even after the unions agreed to many of his demands.
Minx wrote about the horrible SCOTUS decision that came out yesterday, but I wanted to give you a little background on the case they heard. This decision is shocking, IMO.
Albert Florence, his wife and little boy were on their way to his parents’ home in 2005, when they were pulled over by a state trooper. Mrs. Florence was at the wheel, but the trooper’s roadside state records check showed a seven-year-old outstanding arrest warrant for Albert Florence for failing to pay a fine. Florence said he had paid the fine, and pulled out a receipt, which he kept in the car. But the trooper said there was nothing he could do. Florence was handcuffed and taken to the local county jail.
The state would later admit it had failed to properly purge the arrest warrant, but at the time of the arrest, the error turned into a “nightmare,” Florence said. He was held in jail for seven days and strip-searched twice.
Florence said the experience “petrified” and “humiliated” him. Upon entering the jail, he was ordered to take a delousing shower, then inspected by a guard who was about “an arm’s distance” away and instructed Florence to squat, cough and lift up his genitals.
If that isn’t an unreasonable search, I don’t know what would be. But five “conservative” justices think it’s just fine for law enforcement officials to strip search people even for minor offenses. This will surely have the effect of frightening people away from being involved in peaceful political protests.
Occupy and political protesters beware. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday held that local police can strip-search anyone who is arrested for minor offenses if they are to be held within the jail’s general population before being released.
The 5-4 decision, with the Court’s conservative majority overruling its four moderates, is a further erosion of the Fourth Amendment’s protection from unlawful search and seizure. It overturns laws in 10 states that place limits on suspicionless strip-searches and upholds a technique used by some local police forces against Occupy protesters last fall, prompting protesters to sue.
Among the jurisdictions seeking expanded authority to strip-search anyone arrested were the City of Chicago, where the NATO summit will be held this May and where protests have been planned, as well as the state of North Carolina, where the Democratic National Convention will be held in early September in Charlotte.
There was a school shooting at a Christian college in Oakland, California yesterday. Seven people were killed and three injured.
Police captured the suspected gunman inside an Alameda grocery store five miles away from the shooting site at Oikos University after he allegedly walked to the customer service counter and told employees, “I just shot some people.”
A law-enforcement source close to the investigation confirmed to The Chronicle that the suspect is 43-year-old One Goh of Oakland.
The suspect used a .45-caliber handgun, spraying a classroom with gunfire and firing additional shots as he ran out, said the source, who did not wish to be identified because the investigation is ongoing.
Goh had been a nursing student at Oikos University, located at 7850 Edgewater Road in East Oakland, and there was some kind of dispute that may have resulted in him getting kicked out of at least one class, the source said.
I have a number of Trayvon Martin links. I won’t quote extensively from them, but I’m still very interested in the case and want to pass on things that I’ve learned.
Some new recordings have come out that show that either George Zimmerman or police decided he didn’t need to go to the hospital after the shooting. If Zimmerman had actually had his head pounded on concrete multiple times, he would have had to be evaluated for a serious head injury, because sometimes you can have internal injuries or hemorrhaging that doesn’t show on the outside.
Trayvon Martin’s parents have formally requested that the Feds investigate whether Norman Wolfinger, the states attorney actually interfered with a police detective who wanted to arrest Zimmerman on the night of the shooting. But Wolfinger is denying that it ever happened. He didn’t deny it in a very nice way either.
Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the Martin family, asked the Justice Department in a letter on Monday to investigate those reports. Though the letter reported the events without attribution, Crump told Reuters his information came from the media reports and he did not have independent verification….
“I am outraged by the outright lies contained in the letter by Benjamin Crump,” Wolfinger said. “I encourage the Justice Department to investigate and document that no such meeting or communication occurred.” [....]
Lynne Bumpus-Hooper, a spokesman for Wolfinger, said the state attorney never spoke with Lee on the night of the shooting. Instead Sanford police consulted that night with Kelly Jo Hines, the prosecutor on call, Bumpus-Hooper said. She declined to say what was discussed.
“Police officers can make an arrest at virtually any dadgum point they feel they have enough probable cause to make an arrest,” Bumpus-Hooper said. “They do not need our permission and they do not seek our permission.”
So who made that decision? The plot thickens.
Today FBI agents appeared in Sanford and began examining the area in which the shooting occurred, and reviewing evidence in a “parallel investigation” with the one being carried out by special prosecutor
The New York Times had an excellent review of Zimmerman’s evolving story about what happened on the night of February 26. If you’re at all interested in this case, be sure to read it. It’s very helpful.
Richard E.J. Escrow had an interesting think piece on the Trayvon Martin case. His conclusion comes from Bob Dylan’s song about the murder of Medgar Evers: Zimmerman is “only a pawn in their game.”
The deputy sheriffs, the soldiers, the governors get paid
And the marshals and cops get the same
But the poor white man’s used in the hands of them all like a tool
He’s taught in his school …
That the laws are with him, to protect his white skin
To keep up his hate, so he never thinks straight
‘Bout the shape that he’s in, but it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game.
Whose game? As it turns out, the ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws used to protect shooters like Zimmerman were written and promoted by ALEC – the American Legislative Exchange Council. As the Center for Media and Democracy notes, the corporate-funded right wing group behind Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s attack on worker rights is the same group that has promoted ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws all around the country.
You could put a thousand people on Neighborhood Watch and they’d never see the real threats to Zimmerman’s community. Those threats can’t be seen with the eye. The real threats are things like joblessness, financial insecurity, hunger, lack of medical care. They’re threats you can’t protect yourself from with a gun.
Shooters like George Zimmerman are the product of an economic system that benefits from misdirected fear and anger – emotions that are too often channeled into violence instead of peaceful change.
Here’s Dylan performing his song at a voter registration rally in Greenwood, Mississippi in 1963.
Have a great day everyone! Now what’s on your reading list today?