Tag: Police

Darren Grimes investigated by police over David Starkey interview

Right-wing pundit Darren Grimes

Police are investigating conservative commentator Darren Grimes on suspicion of stirring up racial hatred over a horrific “racist” interview with historian David Starkey.

Starkey was widely condemned in June when, in an interview with Grimes, he claimed that slavery was not a genocide because “so many damn Blacks” survived. He subsequently resigned or was fired from a number of senior fellowship and positions.

Now, Grimes is being investigated by police for the public order offence of stirring up racial hatred after he published Starkey’s comments in a podcast interview, according to The Telegraph.

The commentator, who has faced backlash from LGBT+ people on numerous occasions for invalidating trans and non-binary people’s identities, lashed out at the investigation in a video posted to Twitter.

In the video, he said he Metropolitan Police told him in a letter that he must present for an interview and that he would be arrested if he failed to attend.

Darren Grimes admitted that he should have been ‘more robust’ in questioning David Starkey’s ‘racist’ remarks.

“I’ve been accused of stirring up racial hatred for an interview I did with Dr Starkey back in June. Now to me, this is just such an outrageous abuse of taxpayer cash, and the trust that we have in the police as citizens, so much so that at first I couldn’t really believe it was real.”

He went on to criticise the way Starkey has been “airbrushed from history” and admitted that he should have been “more robust” in questioning the historian when he made his remarks about slavery on the podcast.

Grimes defended himself from criticism by claiming that journalists should be allowed to interview those who make controversial remarks and said the police’s decision to investigate him will have a “chilling effect” on free speech.

In a statement provided to The Telegraph, Scotland Yard said: “On July 4, the Metropolitan Police Service was passed an allegation from Durham Police of a public order offence relating to a social media video posted online on June 30. The matter is currently being investigated. No arrests.”

Starkey faced significant backlash when he made his remarks on Grimes’ podcast in June.

Writing on Twitter at the time, former chancellor Sajid Javid branded Starkey’s comments as “racist” and said they were a “reminder of the appalling views that still exist”.

Meanwhile, Fitzwilliam College, a branch of Cambridge University at which Starkey held an honorary fellowship, said his comments were “indefensible”.

“We support and promote freedom of speech in our academic community, but we have zero tolerance of racism,” the college said in a statement released at the time.

Grimes was widely criticised in July after he released his interview with Starkey. Political commentator Adam Schwarz said at the time that Starkey was a “well known racist” and questioned why Grimes had chosen to give him a platform.

Others criticised Grimes for “nodding” along while Starkey made his comments.

Police shot Black transgender woman 16 times

Roxanne Moore: Police shot Black transgender woman 16 times

Police said it was ‘reasonable force’ to shoot Roxanne Moore 16 times. (Getty)

Police officers who fired 16 shots at Black trans woman Roxanne Moore used “reasonable force”, says the Pennsylvania district attorney.

Moore, 29, remains in hospital, in critical but stable condition, after being fired at by officers on September 13.

At a press conference on Wednesday (September 23), Pennsylvania district attorney John T. Adams said that the police shooting Moore 16 times was “justified” and confirmed that she was hit multiple times.

“Based on the facts of what took place here, the law that we must follow here in Pennsylvania, I have determined that the shooting was a reasonable use of force, which was justified under the law here in Pennsylvania,” Adams said.

Moore allegedly pointed a gun at officers before they fired at her. Authorities later found that though the gun she was wielding was loaded, it was unoperable due to a safety mechanism that wouldn’t allow it to be fired.

“The only person who knew that that gun could not fire, most likely, was the owner of the gun, from whom it was taken,” Adams said. “There’s no way anyone could have determined from a distance that that gun could not be fired.”

He added that footage from the body cameras worn by officers had not been released, as local activists have been urging, because Moore will be charged once she is medically fit.

“I would have released the body cam footage, but it’s evidence in a criminal case,” he said. “We would be happy to release it.”

Police had been called to reports of “shots fired” at 7am on September 13 in Reading, Pennsylvania. The first officer to arrive on the scene saw Moore holding a gun, ordered her to drop it, and fired when she didn’t.

Moore had reportedly just left her apartment after having an argument. She was known to police as having mental-health issues and Adams said she was “displaying erratic behaviour” during the incident on September 13.

All three officers involved in the shooting have been put on temporary administrative leave.

Roxanne Moore: Family and friends show support.

Friends and family of Roxanne Moore gathered last Sunday (September 20) to show her their support, as she remained in hospital following the shooting.

Wearing Black Trans Lives Matter buttons and T-shirts, friends and family spoke of their love for Moore.

“I just want my sister to know I love her,” her brother reportedly said, according to the local newspaper Reading Eagle. “That’s all.”

Moore’s family and friends also criticised the police’s handling of events, saying that officers should have used deescalation tactics or crisis intervention instead of opening fire.

They claimed someone who was experiencing visible trauma should have been met with “patience and compassion […] not violence, felony charges, and hospitalization,” as the Reading Eagle reported.

A date has not been set for the return to work of the three officers involved in the shooting.

Jane Palmer, executive director of the progressive group Berks Stands Up, said: “We see in their treatment centuries of racism and homophobia, and we have had enough.

“Do Black people ever get the benefit of the doubt in a situation involving the police? Add trans or gender-nonconforming on top of that, and you’re in real trouble.

“We’re here today for Roxanne, who is, at this very moment, still in the hospital in critical condition because of who she is: a Black trans woman.

“Any one of those things, being Black, being trans, being a woman, would make her vulnerable, but she lives at the intersection of all three.”

Police appeal for witnesses to ‘vicious’ homophobic attack in London

Police appeal for witnesses to 'vicious' homophobic attack in London

Officers were called to Stamford Hill in Hackney following reports of a homophobic assault (Envato Elements)

Police have appealed for witnesses to a “vicious” homophobic attack on a man in his 20s in north-east London.

Officers were called to Stamford Hill in Hackney at 1am on July 26 after receiving reports of a homophobic assault and robbery.

The victim was walking near the junction of Seven Sisters Road and Amhurst Park when two men approached him and started shouting homophobic abuse.

The thugs then started physically assaulting the man and attempted to rob him. They tried to snatch his mobile phone but did not succeed, managing to instead take headphones from the victim, who suffered minor injuries.

Police have now launched an appeal to try to trace witnesses in connection with the incident.

Detective Sergeant James Rush said: “This was a vicious attack on the victim, all the more appalling because of the homophobic abuse the victim received.

“I implore any witnesses to this incident to get in touch to tell us what you saw. Any information you have no matter how small may be pivotal to our investigation.

The Met stands against hate and will make every effort to trace the suspects down and hold them responsible.”

The men are both described as white and in their mid-20s. One man is believed to be around 5ft 6ins tall, with a beard and was wearing a green baseball cap at the time.

The other man is said to be about 6ft 2ins with curly blonde or ginger hair, and was wearing a leather jacket with a T-shirt underneath.

At least two people are believed to have witnessed the incident, including a woman in a white car who asked the victim if he needed help. A man in the back of a passing large black car is also thought to have been close by and may have witnessed something.

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101, quoting CAD 580/26Jul.

Warsaw police detain 48 LGBT+ protesters trying to block arrest of activist

Warsaw police detain 48 LGBT+ protesters trying to block arrest

Police officers remove LGBT+ activists from blocking the road to a police vehicle transporting detained queer-rights activist Margo in Warsaw, Poland. (JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

A blanket of blue-uniformed police officers swept over the LGBT+ protesters, many crouched on the floor, in Warsaw, Poland, Friday (August 7) as hundreds packed the streets to demonstrate against the arrest of an activist.

Around 48 queer demonstrators were detained during the scuffle, the Warsaw Police Department said according to Reuters, as crowds bellowed “Shame, disgrace!” and surrounded a police vehicle in the centre of the capital.

Protesters tried vehemently to block the arrest of an activist accused of draping LGBT+ Pride flags over statues in Warsaw as well as damaging a Pro-Right to Life Foundation campaigner’s car.

LGBT+ activists sit to block a police vehicle transporting detained gay-right activist Margo in Warsaw. (JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Members of the anti-homophobia group Stop Bzdurom have flung flags across Warsaw in retalation against the ruling Law and Justice Party’s thumping win last year.

Tensions intensified further in July when the Andrzej Duda – who, much like the governing party, campaigning by stoking public fear and scepticism of LGBT+ people – won a second term.

Police violently arrest 48 LGBT+ activists attempted to block arrest of activist.

According to protesters on-the-ground, at around 4pm, courts upheld the prosecution’s complaint levelled against Stop Bzdurom member Margo and moved for her two-monthslong arrest.

Hauled up in a local activist group’s headquarters, supporters quickly thronged the roads outside in an effort to stonewall her from police. She and protesters later shifted to Krakowskie Przedmieście Street where Margo, speaking through a megaphone, declared the protest as an unofficial Pride parade.

At 7pm, Margo was captured by police. Protesters demanded her release and blockaded the police car with one activist standing on top of it. Some chanted. Others unfurled flags to hurl onto nearby monuments.

Soon after, as some demonstrators began to leave, a police car, they claimed, drove into the crowd. Police swarmed and began arresting activists.

Justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro denounced the demonstration. He said: “Tomorrow this knife that was used to cut the car and tyres (of the pro-life campaigner) will be used to stab people just because we don’t like their opinions.”

The squashed protest captures the deepening divisions cracking Poland after the win of Duda, a close ally of Poland premier Mateusz Morawiecki, who netted a narrow win on a campaign that compared LGBT+ “ideology” to communism.

Police name suspect in 2002 murder of trans teens

Stephanie Thomas Ukea Davis trans murder Washington DC

Michelle Davis, mother of Ukea Davis (Michel du Cille/The Washington Post via Getty)

Police in Washington DC have finally admitted that the killings of two Black trans teenagers almost 20 years ago were “clearly a hate crime”.

Ukea Davis, 18, and Stephanie Thomas, 19, were found dead in a car in 2002. Both had been shot at least 10 times.

Now, almost two decades on, police in Washington DC have finally found a suspect in the case – but he died three years ago in a fatal shooting, the Washington Post reports.

D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham admitted that the murder of the two best friends was “clearly a hate crime” and said suspect Michael Dupree Price had been with the women on the night they were killed.

Police identify suspect in 2002 murder of two trans women in Washington DC – but he was killed three years ago.

Police tracked down two new witnesses in the cold case who told them that Price killed the women when he discovered that they were trans.

But police were too late to bring Price to justice. He was shot dead in May 2017, aged 36.

Authorities began investigating the case again earlier this year when Detective Danny Whalen found a letter that referenced a person who allegedly had information about the killings.

The letter was discovered in an old file, but had never been followed up on.

He’s been deceased since 2017, but what was he doing since 2002? Why wasn’t he brought to justice?

Investigators subsequently tracked down two new witnesses, who each told Whalen that Price “essentially told him what he did”.

“I think it’s a situation of how a fresh set of eyes looking at an old case can be valuable,” Newsham said.

“For the families that are involved, the only thing we can really give to them is finding out who is responsible for their loved one’s death.”

The families are still waiting for closure.

Queen Washington, the mother of Stephanie Thomas, disputed the idea that the women’s killer attacked them when he discovered that they were trans, and claimed everyone in their locality knew about their gender identity.

She said her daughter came out as trans when she was 12 or 13 and had experienced extensive bullying in their neighbourhood.

Washington believes strongly that her daughter was killed as an act of hate.

Meanwhile, Michelle Davis, Ukea’s mother, said: “I just want to know, who was this person? Was there another person?

“He’s been deceased since 2017, but what was he doing since 2002? Why wasn’t he brought to justice?”

Davis and Thomas met four years before their murder and went on to become best friends. They later rented an apartment together.

Their deaths shocked the local community, but little headway was made by investigators for many years.

 

 

On the Front Lines: Alternative Forms of Protesting Police Violence

On the Front Lines: Alternative Forms of Protesting Police Violence

This piece was originally published on 1/20/2015.

George Floyd was murdered on May 25, 2020, and we stand in unequivocal support of the protests and uprisings that have swept the US since that day, and against the unconscionable violence of the police and US state. We can’t continue with business as usual. We will be celebrating Pride as an uprising. This month, Autostraddle is focusing on content related to this struggle, the fight against white supremacy and the fight for Black lives and Black futures. Instead, we’re publishing and re-highlighting work by and for Black queer and trans folks speaking to their experiences living under white supremacy and the carceral state, and work calling white people to material action.

no justice. no pride.


Here at Autostraddle we’ve done a fair amount of coverage of the recent protests swelling around the issue of police violence and systemic racism. We’ve also covered how queer and trans women of color are often both at the center of violence from the police and prison system, and at the same time on the front lines of the protests to stop it. For people who want to see change, we are full, heavy, and undone by the outpouring of support in the streets. We feel as though, perhaps, we are on the brink of revolution. But many of us haven’t been on the literal front lines. Not for lack of rage or revolutionary spirit, but because our advocacy comes in many forms.

A friend of mine, an arts activist who is a theater-maker and who works a low-paying job serving coffee to wealthy fifth avenue suits, was on her way to work when a protester stopped her and demanded to know why she — a woman of color — was not in the streets demanding justice. Her answer? “I have to pay rent.” A luxury for many protesters is having a warm home to return to at the end of the night, a home for which somebody probably pays rent. Speaking of payment, getting arrested often precludes paying a fine, or bail, or having a friend or family member to call who can come pick you up. What if you are homeless, or estranged from family? What if you have a job that would not be patient if you are late or absent because you spent the evening at Central Bookings? What if you are physically unable to attend a protest because you are wheelchair-bound or otherwise disabled? What if you just don’t want to chant and march through the streets in the bitter cold?

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Friends and family have leadingly asked me, “so did you ever go to the protest?” as though if I hadn’t, I was doing a disservice to our race. I know of other POCs who couldn’t bring themselves to protest because the very weight of the perpetual onslaught of depressing headline after depressing headline left them feeling emotionally weak. But I have found that those same people, wracked with guilt, have contributed in their own ways, sometimes unwittingly. After the first few nights of emotionally charged spontaneous protests broke out in New York, Autostraddle’s very own Gabby Rivera organized a Google hangout session for QTPOC Speakeasy members. We expressed our outrage, our exhaustion, as well the humor that might seem inappropriate to an outsider, but which was so very necessary if we were to have enough stamina to face the day. During the hangout, we came to the realization that what Gabby had done for us was community care. She was affecting change by giving others a place to prepare themselves to affect change. That is valuable. It’s not as visible as attending a march. There were no selfies to prove we had been there. But it had tangible value.

Alternative forms of protest are necessary to make activism accessible. Sometimes, they’re even more effective at creating change than a permitted march. Here at Autostraddle, we have heard from readers far and wide who say that the content on this website has given them a sense of community they couldn’t find elsewhere. I mean, not to toot our own horn but that’s freaking incredible! Where better to convene a mass of rad queers than on the web? Where better to plot the revolution? If you are feeling bummed about not being able to, or not wanting to attend a protest or a die-in, you don’t have to be. There are a myriad of ways you can contribute, and you might already be doing it without knowing.

When petition sites like Change.org started popping up, there was a lot of skepticism surrounding the effectiveness of a petition that was just too easy to sign. Long before any of these phenomena, “Facebook activists” were taking advantage of easy access to hundreds and thousands of people to disseminate information from independent and alternative news sources, to the annoyance of some, but the benefit of many.

Now, the positive effects of cyber activism are becoming clear. Petitions on Change.org and other sites have countless success stories. I first heard about the Michael Brown case from a Change.org email. I know many others who received this tragic news the same way. This was amidst the End Stop-and-Frisk campaign taking off in NYC, and I believe the confluence of these two events have inextricably tied Ferguson to New York, even before the police murder of Eric Garner. Something as simple as signing up for an email listserve brought the Michael Brown case to the doorstep of every American, and helped galvanize a nation. Previously, the memory of Michael Brown would have been reduced to a statistic.

Entire revolutions have been facilitated via Twitter and Facebook. American movements have taken a page from their book, using Twitter to locate protests in real-time without alerting the authorities. Other hashtag movements have given a voice to those usually marginalized. For example, the twitter-facilitated movement, #YouOKSis encourages women, especially women of color to be active bystanders in instances of street harassment, and to share those experiences on twitter. Creating a community where women of color know they can rely on others to check in and prevent potentially violent interactions in the street can offer peace of mind to women whose voices are often drowned out by the patriarchy.
Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 4.35.47 PM
Speaking of creating space, #ThisTweetCalledMyBack recently came to the defense of what has been dubbed “Toxic Twitter.” Toxic Twitter refers to primarily POC women and marginalized communities that have found their voices in the Twitterverse:

We are your unwaged labor in our little corner of the internet that feeds a movement. Hours of teach-ins, hashtags, Twitter chats, video chats and phone calls to create a sustainable narrative and conversation around decolonization and antiblackness. As an online collective of Black, AfroIndigenous, and NDN women, we have created an entire framework with which to understand gender violence and racial hierarchy in a global and U.S. context. In order to do this however, we have had to shake up a few existing narratives…

The response has been sometimes loving, but in most cases we’ve faced nothing but pushback in the form of trolls, stalking. We’ve, at separate turns, been stopped and detained crossing international borders and questioned about our work, been tailed and targeted by police, had our livelihoods threatened with calls to our job, been threatened with rape on Twitter itself, faced triggering PTSD, and trudged the physical burden of all of this abuse. This has all occurred while we see our work take wings and inform an entire movement. A movement that also refuses to make space for us while frequently joining in the naming of us as “Toxic Twitter.” Why do we face barriers at every turn? If you hear many tell it, we are simply lazy women with good internet connections.

In an age where young women often have cell phones with internet access before they have access to healthcare and social services, why are so many so quick to demean the work of digital feminism in the hands of Black women?… When we ask these questions, we uncover that the only people who meet these qualifications of real activism are cis gender, able bodied people — frequently male.

Online activism is controversial, no doubt. “Hacktivism” is often synonymous with the vigilante hacker organization Anonymous, which has achieved many things by threatening to reveal the personal information of their targets. Often these targets are the subjects of high profile controversies, like the Westboro Baptist Church, or members of the KKK. More recently, Iggy Azalea has been the subject of Anonymous’s ire, after she got into a rather sticky (read: racist) twitter argument with Azealia Banks surrounding the issues of cultural appropriation and solidarity with Black people. The group threatened to release leaked sex tape photos and called her a “trashy bitch.” This kind of misogynist and childish behavior begs the question: who deserves privacy? While we all cower in fear of the elusive NSA, we often applaud Anonymous’ threats because they have progressive ends. But is it really progressive to lord over misguided individuals by threatening to distribute pornographic images of them? Vigilantes not associated with Anonymous, but with the same skill-sets have released nude images of famous women, not-so-famous women, and women who have dared to speak out against misogyny or rape culture. Hacking is a powerful weapon, often misused in the wrong hands. But then, what revolutionary tool doesn’t have the capacity to be misused?

Sometimes art can be more engaging and transformative than a rally or march. Sometimes art has the power to affect more minds than a riot. Theatre of the Oppressed (ToO) is a revolutionary form of theater that teaches visual literacy, and gives oppressed people a platform to not only express their grievances, but address them as well. The creator of ToO is Augusto Boal, a Brazilian man who considered this technique a sort of rehearsal for real life. One of the many forms of ToO is a performance called Forum Theatre, in which members of a community act out a play that describes their predicament, with a protagonist, antagonist and supporting characters. The audience is then invited to “intervene” in the action of the play, performing the piece over and over until a solution is developed that can then be acted out in real life. ToO groups in New York City do a version called Legislative Theatre in which actual legislators participate alongside citizens and social justice organizations to develop policies. In May of 2014, Theatre of the Oppressed NYC put together a legislative theatre festival addressing racism and profiling within the criminal justice system, called Can’t Get Right. Spect-actors (as Boal called participatory audience members), were invited to “watch, act and vote” alongside city policy-makers on reforms that would improve quality of life for Black and brown citizens of New York. In no uncertain terms, this is revolutionary: giving people the tools to be the change they wish to see.

I have heard some compare the recent protests to what it felt like to live through the Civil Rights movement. While I can’t personally attest to that, nostalgia for the revolutionary spirit of the Civil Rights era does seem to be in the air. And with it, have come reworked, or brand new protest songs. Remember when Lauryn Hill came out with Black Rage? The AP recently reported on the resurgence of protest songs from the rank and file protesters, poets and songwriters. And then D’Angelo released his album Black Messiah, with a tribute to brothers and sisters in the struggle:

Black Messiah is a hell of a name for an album. It can be easily misunderstood. Many will think it’s about religion. Some will jump to the conclusion that I’m calling myself a Black Messiah. For me, the title is about all of us… It’s about people rising up in Ferguson and in Egypt and in Occupy Wall Street and in every place where a community has had enough and decides to make change happen. It’s not about praising one charismatic leader but celebrating thousands of them.

Hip Hop and Black music have always had a sociopolitical undercurrent, but it does seem that we’re developing a soundtrack for our revolution — and it’s sounding pretty funky.

Beyond the web and the stage, there are unlimited ways to contribute our time, energy and money towards a world we would want to raise our kids in. Economic boycotts have been a major part of the anti-police violence movement. Temporarily hindering the economy sends a big message to companies that tend to ignore the plight of the very people they probably employ.

While the alternatives to protest discussed here are by no means all-inclusive, hopefully they’ve inspired you to employ the skills I know you’ve got tucked away in that gorgeous, complicated, infinite brain of yours to do something particular to your interests. If you really don’t know where to begin, Tikkun.org has released a flyer detailing exactly 26 Ways To Be In the Struggle Beyond the Streets. Some of my favorites off the list include providing childcare to protesters, and cooking a pre or post-march meal. Whichever way we choose to participate in this movement, it is important to recognize those who came before us and amplify the voices most often silenced. If we follow those two rules, no form of protest is necessarily more or less valuable than another.