Newswire : NAACP set to change tax status to engage politically

By Lauren Victoria Burke (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

Derrick Johnson
 Derrick Johnson, NAACP President

After being eclipsed in recent years by Color of Change, Black Lives Matter and other younger, more tech savvy and politically-pointed groups, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization will change its tax status.
The group’s leaders said that the new tax status would allow them to be more aggressive politically. During a call with reporters, NAACP officials announced that the civil rights group will transition from a 501(c)(3) to 501(c)(4) designation. The change will allow the organization to be more partisan and politically focused. However, the tax designation does not allow political work to be the “primary activity” of the organization.
Even though the NAACP is 108 years old, the organization is struggling to modernize and stay relevant in a rapidly-evolving, social media-driven landscape that requires speed and strategic communications skill. In October, the NAACP named Derrick Johnson as its president; Johnson was elected by the NAACP’s board to serve for three years.
In a statement announcing Johnson as the new president, Leon Russell, the board chairman of the NAACP said, “As both a longtime member of the NAACP, and a veteran activist in his own right—having worked on the ground to advocate for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, along with championing countless other issues—Derrick also intimately understands the strengths of the Association, our challenges and the many obstacles facing Black Americans of all generations, today. I look forward to continuing to work with him in this new role.”
Russell continued: “In his time serving as our interim president and CEO, Derrick has proven himself as the strong, decisive leader we need to guide us through both our internal transition, as well as a crucial moment in our nation’s history. With new threats to communities of color emerging daily and attacks on our democracy, the NAACP must be more steadfast than ever before.”
New NAACP President Derrick Johnson is a native of Detroit, Michigan who lives in Jackson, Mississippi. He is a long-time member of the NAACP, who was elected Vice Chair earlier this year and served as the interim president after Cornell Brooks was forced out. Johnson attended Tougaloo College before earning a juris doctor degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston.

Women’s March inspires millions to demand justice in the Trump Era

By Brittany Webb 

womens-march-aahistorymuseum Throngs of women lined D.C. streets for the Jan. 20 women’s march. Estimated at close to a million, This photo shows activists wrapped around the new National Museum for African American History and Culture. PHOTO: James Zimmerman/Trice Edney News Wire

 

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – A sea of pink hats, signs proclaiming “Black Lives Matter”, gay-rights flags and posters with all sorts of demands of justice filled the crowd at the Women’s March on Washington Jan. 20.

Millions of women of all races and nationalities were joined by men in the nation’s capital and around the world to defend the human and civil rights, honor and dignity of people – and some to protest the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, which many view as a threat to human rights progress.

“We march to declare we are ready for the fight. We are here to declare that we are America. We will stay awoke and we will not be moved,” said Black Women’s Roundtable Convener Melanie Campbell in her speech to the DC crowd, which was so packed that they could not march to the White House as planned. “We march for Black women who voted 94 percent for Hillary Clinton, who by the way won three million votes over her opponent…We march, even for the 53 percent of White women who voted for that other guy, to reflect and join us, all of us, moving forward to break that glass ceiling to elect the first woman president of America and to select a Black Woman to the Supreme Court in our lifetime.”

Celebrities like Madonna, Alicia Keys, Maxwell, Janelle Monae and Jidenna joined political figures, commentators and activists like Campbell, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, CNN’s Van Jones; NAACP Chair Roslyn Brock and activist Angela Davis to support and energize women who are determined to fight for equality.

The DC crowd was vastly White. But a strong contingency of Black women participated and spoke during the rally. “We stand in solidarity,” said Brock of the NAACP. “To declare that women’s rights are human rights. We send a message to our new government that we will not stop until women enjoy equal status. Throughout the history of this nation, women have worked to enjoy full civil rights. In 2008, 2012 and 2016 Black women exercised the right to vote larger than any other group in this nation,” she said as the crowd cheered.

Because the marches, which also took place in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston and other cities in the U. S. around the world the day after the Trump inauguration, activist Angela Davis declared the demonstration to be a part of American history.

“At this very challenging moment in our history, let us remind ourselves that we, the hundreds of thousands, the millions of women, trans people, men and youth who are here at the women’s march, we represent the powerful forces of change that are determined to prevent the dying cultures of racism, heteropatriarchy from rising again,” Davis said.

Despite the march being geared towards the rights of woman, Davis left the mark of Black people on the hearts of the crowd when she addressed the roots of the nation. “The freedom struggles of Black people that have shaped the very nature of this country’s history cannot be deleted with a sweep of a hand,” Davis said. “We cannot be made to forget that Black lives do matter.”

Amongst the sisters were men who were present in the name of their sisters, mothers, wives, girlfriends and women alike. One of those men was CNN commentator Van Jones. “With every breakdown, a breakthrough is possible, and today, because of you, something beautiful is being reborn in America,” Jones said. “Something beautiful is being reborn right here, and right now.”

For some women, it was refreshing to see men standing in solidarity with the people who society deems to be less than compared to them. “To see men fighting the good fight alongside us is humbling,” Alyssa B. of Philadelphia said. “It gives us hope and a sense of us not having to do it alone. It’s the definition of humanity.”

Though the D.C. women could not march to the White House as planned, President Trump still got the message. He tweated the next day, “Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn’t these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly.”

Actually, there were few celebrities spotted in the crowd of marchers, except entertainers on the stage. As protesters gathered from cities across the nation, one D.C. native took to the stage to demand one thing from government on behalf of women.

R&B singer Maxwell serenaded the crowd with his hit single “This Woman’s Work,” dedicating it to the late Sandra Bland, who was found hanging in July 2015 in a Waller County, Texas jail cell three days after a contentious arrest that started with a stop for an alleged traffic signal violation. Authorities ruled her death a suicide, but the family disputed that claim. Her family was awarded a settlement of $1.9 million in the case.

Black women who joined in the march said the need for solidarity between women activities at the point in history is clear. “Black women benefit when a women’s rights agenda – equal pay, affordable child care and health care, and access to education, among other things – is embraced,” said columnist and economist Dr. Julianne Malveaux, former president of Bennett College for Women. “It was refreshing to see so many White people carrying Black Lives Matter signs.”

While the Woman’s March on Washington is over, the fight for women’s rights, human rights and religious rights continues. And while fear keeps some from standing on the front lines, singer Janelle Monae urges protestors to keep choosing to fight for freedom. “Continue to embrace the things that make you unique even if it makes others uncomfortable,” Monae said. “You are enough, and whenever you feel in doubt, whenever you want to give up, you must always remember to choose freedom over fear.”

Black Lives Matter is not a hate group

July By B19, 20BJ. Richard Cohen is president
of the Southern Poverty Law Center

IF

HUNTS POINT, BRONX, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES – 2016/07/17: On the second anniversary of the death of Eric Garner by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, the Black Lives Matter community organized the Stop The Violence Rally, March and Healing Circle in the South Bronx to remember Eric Garner and other victims of police brutality with a peaceful demonstration around the neighborhood culminating the march at the 41th Precinct where participants held a moment of silence followed by chanting “I CAN’T BREATHE” 11 times as Eric Garner did before his tragic death by an illegal choke-hold. (Photo by Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

 

Each year, the Southern Poverty Law Center, of which I am the president, compiles and publishes a census of domestic hate groups. Our list, which is cited extensively by journalists, academics and government officials alike, provides an important barometer—not the only one, of course—to help us understand the state of hate and extremism in America.

In recent weeks, we’ve received a number of requests to name Black Lives Matter a hate group, particularly in the wake of the murders of eight police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Numerous conservative commentators have joined the chorus. There is even a Change.org petition calling for the hate group label.
In our view, these critics fundamentally misunderstand the nature of hate groups and the BLM movement.
Generally speaking, hate groups are, by our definition, those that vilify entire groups of people based on immutable characteristics such as race or ethnicity. Federal law takes a similar approach.
While it’s no surprise, given our country’s history, that most domestic hate groups hold white supremacist views, there are a number of black organizations on our hate group list as well.
A prime example is the New Black Panther Party (NBPP), whose leaders are known for anti-Semitic and anti-white tirades. Its late chairman, Khalid Abdul Muhammad, famously remarked: “There are no good crackers, and if you find one, kill him before he changes.” Bobby Seale, a founding member of the original Black Panther Party, has called the NBPP a “black racist hate group.”
We have heard nothing remotely comparable to the NBPP’s bigotry from the founders and most prominent leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement and nothing at all to suggest that the bulk of the demonstrators hold supremacist or black separatist views. Thousands of white people across America—indeed, people of all races—have marched in solidarity with African Americans during BLM marches, as is clear from the group’s website. The movement’s leaders also have condemned violence.
There’s no doubt that some protesters who claim the mantle of Black Lives Matter have said offensive things, like the chant “pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon” that was heard at one rally. But before we condemn the entire movement for the words of a few, we should ask ourselves whether we would also condemn the entire Republican Party for the racist words of its presumptive nominee—or for the racist rhetoric of many other politicians in the party over the course of years.
Many of its harshest critics claim that Black Lives Matter’s very name is anti-white, hence the oft-repeated rejoinder “all lives matter.” This notion misses the point entirely. Black lives matter because they have been marginalized throughout our country’s history and because white lives have always mattered more in our society. As BLM puts it, the movement stands for “the simple proposition that ‘black lives also matter.’”
The backlash to BLM, in some ways, reflects a broad sense of unease among white people who worry about the cultural changes in the country and feel they are falling behind in a country that is rapidly growing more diverse in a globalizing world. We consistently see this phenomenon in surveys showing that large numbers of white people believe racial discrimination against them is as pervasive, or more so, than it is against African Americans.
It’s the same dynamic that researchers at Harvard Business School described in a recent study: White people tend to see racism as a zero-sum game, meaning that gains for African Americans come at their expense. Black people see it differently. From their point of view, the rights pie can get bigger for everyone.
Black Lives Matter is not a hate group. But the perception that it is racist illustrates the problem. Our society as a whole still does not accept that racial injustice remains pervasive. And, unfortunately, the fact that white people tend to see race as a zero-sum game may actually impede progress

‘Graceful in the lion’s den’: Photo of young woman’s arrest in Baton Rouge becomes powerful symbol

By Michael E. Miller , Washington Post

 

Photo of woman in Baton Rouge

Iconic photo of Ieshia Evans, a young Black woman protesting in Baton Rouge, LA

 

She was the calm at the center of the storm, a storm spreading across the country. The young woman stood silently on the cracked asphalt, her summer dress billowing in the breeze. Around her swirled a kinetic mix of police officers and protesters. Dozens of demonstrators had blocked Baton Rouge’s Airline Highway on Saturday to denounce the death four days earlier of Alton Sterling, shot by police outside a convenience store. Many protesters carried signs. Some shouted into bullhorns. A few carried guns.
A phalanx of police officers stepped across the road, dressed in riot gear.
Jonathan Bachman of Reuters News was snapping pictures of protesters yelling at the officers when he turned and saw her.
The woman in the summer dress didn’t seem to look at the two officers as they ran toward her. Instead, she seemed to look beyond them — even as they arrested her.
“She just stood there and made her stand,” the Reuters photographer told BuzzFeed. “I was just happy to be able to capture something like that.” Bachman’s powerful photo quickly went viral.
The young woman’s stoic pose drew comparisons to Rosa Parks’s refusing to give up a seat on a segregated bus or “tank man” facing down war machines in Tiananmen Square.
Some likened her to a modern-day Statue of Liberty, guiding a bitterly divided country back toward the proper path. Others called her a “superhero.”
Several, however, said she was simply breaking the law and deserved her night in jail.
What is clear is that the image of the young woman’s arrest has captured a critical moment for the country. Like the Facebook video of Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds calmly talking to the officer who had just fatally shot her fiance, the photo of the arrest in Baton Rouge encapsulates  the anger, struggle, exhaustion and spirit of Black Lives Matter activists.
“There are certain photos that define a moment: The man in front of the tank in [Tiananmen] Square; the girl crying over her dead friend at Kent State; the sailor dipping and kissing the girl in Times Square; John John saluting JFK’s casket,” wrote Cynthia Cox Ubaldo on Facebook. “This is one of those iconic photos to define the moment and the movement.”
Bachman knew he had a great photo, but he didn’t get the woman’s name.
Within hours of the photo’s publication, news outlets, activists and the Internet itself were working overtime to figure out who she was. The Atlantic and the BBC both asked readers for help.
After activist and New York Daily News writer Shaun King posted the photo to Facebook, several self-identified friends and family members identified her as Ieshia Evans.
“To see all of the comments under this post shows me that my cousin did not make a mistake by going out there and standing up for her rights and what she believes in,” wrote Nikka Thomas. “I’m proud to call you my family Ieshia.”
“This is my best friend that I have known since we were 8 (20 years now),” wrote R. Alex Haynes. “Her name is Ieshia and she has a 5 year old son. She went to Baton Rouge because she wanted to look her son in the eyes to tell him she fought for his freedom and rights. They haven’t released her as of yet but she’s fine. And yes, she is everything you see in this photo + so much more.”
Haynes told The Washington Post that Evans is, in fact, the woman in the photo. He forwarded a statement from him and his wife, Natasha, saying that Ieshia is from Brooklyn and lives in Pennsylvania. (Public records support this.) Evans traveled to Baton Rouge after the fatal police-involved shooting of Alton Sterling because “she has a son she wants a better future for,” according to the statement.

 

Obama calls for mutual respect from Black Lives Matter and police

By: Gregory Korte, USA TODAY

President Obama

President Barack Obama

 

MADRID Spain — The Black Lives Matter movement that’s arisen in response to police shootings of black men is part of a long line of protest movements that have transformed America for the better, President Obama said Sunday, defending the protests amid renewed tensions over race and policing across the country. But he also acknowledged that those debates are often “messy and controversial,” and urged protesters to “maintain a respectful, thoughtful tone” after a week of deadly shootings — both of African-American men by police and of police officers by a Dallas gunman.
Obama cut short his four-day trip to Europe and instead will go to Dallas Tuesday to speak an an interfaith prayer service, the White House announced Sunday. He’ll also devote most of the week working on police issues, aides said.
Obama has spoken about the events of last week four times in the last three days, even as he’s juggled an important foreign trip with NATO allies in Warsaw and Spanish leaders in Madrid. But Sunday’s comments were focused on the social media-fueled protest movement that has has brought national attention to the issue of police shootings.
And they came the day after DeRay Mckesson, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist, was arrested at a protest in Baton Rouge. That’s where police shot and killed 37-year-old Alton Sterling in an incident caught on video and widely shared on social media last Tuesday — the first of three incidents that brought issues of race and policing exploding back into the headlines.
On CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani called the Black Lives Matter movement “inherently racist” and that police feel it “puts a target on their back.” “They sing rap songs about killing police officers and they talk about killing police officers and they yell it out at their rallies and the police officers hear it,” Giuliani said
Obama condemned the more extreme voices, while defending the movement as a whole. “In a movement like Black Lives Matter there are always going to be folks who say things that are stupid or imprudent or over generalized or harsh,” Obama said after meeting with acting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
“Whenever those of us who are concerned about fairness in the criminal justice system attack police officers, you are doing a disservice to the cause,” Obama said, calling violence against police a “reprehensible” crime that needs to be prosecuted. “But even rhetorically, if we paint police in broad brush without recognizing that the vast majority of police officers are doing a really good job and are trying to protect people … if the rhetoric does not recognize that, then we’re going to lose allies in the reform cause.”
Even before a sniper killed five police officers during a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas, Obama has gone out of his way to acknowledge both the evidence of bias in policing and the difficult and dangerous job that police officers have. “There are legitimate issues that have been raised,” he said. “And there is data and evidence to back up the concerns that are being expressed.”
Obama praised the Dallas police department and its chief, David Brown. “That’s part of why it’s so tragic that those officers were targeted in Dallas, a place that is because of its transparency and training and openness and engagement has drastically brought down the number of police shootings.”
Just as protesters need to be respectful of police, the law enforcement     community needs to listen the frustrations of people in minority communities, Obama said, and “Not just dismiss these protests and these complaints as political correctness or as politics or attacks on police.”.

The Black Lives Matter Movement’s political moment

By: Atlantic Monthly Magazine

 

Protestors yell as they are escorted out as U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event in Radford

Protestors yell as they are escorted out as U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event in Radford, Virginia February 29, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane – RTS8ND6

Political conventions have always attracted political protests, and the history of Black organizers protesting at major party conventions stretches back decades. Mass protests led by the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, then-Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee leader and current Representative John Lewis, and activist Fannie Lou Hamer at the 1964 Democratic Convention helped bring the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into existence and hasten the exit of white conservatives from the Democratic Party.
The 1968 Democratic Convention was upended by mass protests and riots from a collection of counterculture and civil rights groups, including anti-war demonstrators, black nationalists, and the nonviolent remnants of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign. The surveillance, protests, and a political plot at this convention captured the fraught racial climate of the United States in the wake of King’s death and the ensuing riots.
With the 2016 Democratic and Republican conventions approaching, America’s mood is perhaps not quite as tense as it was after the anti-black violence of the 1964 Freedom Summer or the fear and destruction of the 1968 King riots. But it is still characterized in part by anger from black activists. Donald Trump’s campaign has fomented protests from black organizers across the country, and his racist posturing has led to renewed calls for protests against the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Black Lives Matter, a movement that dominated headlines last year in protests against police violence, has always been political, but the conventions provide much more direct avenue to electoral politics. Black activism could be a major force in shaping or disrupting the agendas of both parties.
Will the Democrats’ gathering in Philadelphia look anything like its 1964 or 1968 predecessors? Prominent activist and member of Campaign ZERO DeRay Mckesson stated that he expects organizing in Philadelphia to reflect young black disillusionment over Clinton’s candidacy and the Democratic platform, as well as the precedent set by a recent sit-in in Congress led by Lewis. Philadelphia activists affiliated with Black Lives Matter have confirmed their intent. Erica Mines of the Philadelphia Coalition for REAL Justice—known for challenging Bill Clinton about his crime bill at a rally in April—says her group and other black activists in the area will have a presence at the convention in late July. “We definitely plan on having a protest,” Mines told me.
The issues this time around aren’t solely the criminal-justice demands that Black Lives Matter and associated organizations like the Coalition for REAL Justice have made in the past. Mines told me she and fellow protesters are following Philadelphia’s strong tradition of activism and movements like Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign, which his successor Ralph David Abernathy  led at the 1968 convention after King’s assassination. They are pressing some very Philadelphia-specific issues, in keeping with the decentralized and local nature of many black protest movements.
According to Mines, the most important issues are “economic development, housing, poverty, jobs, and the lack of funding in Philadelphia.” One policy specific to Philadelphia was a new regressive sugar tax passed by the city council that can add as much as a dollar charge to packs of soda. “We have this new sugar tax that’s not a good tax at all,” Mines said. It “falls on the backs of the poor and disenfranchised communities.” Philadelphia activists have also forged an identity that echoes the city’s history of radical black activism. A 1985* incident in which police helicopters dropped bombs on black activists in the radical MOVE organization shapes how groups there operate. “We are in direct relationship and solidarity with the MOVE Family,” Mines told me. That means protesting at the convention to free MOVE activists such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of murder in 1981 but who many black activists view as a political prisoner.
The plans in Philadelphia echo a familiar history of black protests at the Democratic conventions. But will that same spirit of protest also spur Black activists at the Republican Convention in Cleveland? The people planning it certainly think so. Planners in Cleveland have used much of the $50 million event grant from Congress on surveillance of black protesters and have purchased a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) for use in crowd control. The original anti-protest rules for the Cleveland convention were so strict that liberal and conservative grassroots joined forces to defeat them in court. But Cleveland-area groups affiliated with Black Lives Matter would not go on the record about any specific plans.
Black activism could be a major force in shaping or disrupting the agendas of both parties.
Their reticence to go on record reflects a fear of surveillance among black organizers. After numerous protests in Cleveland in 2015, FBI officials intimated that they were closely surveilling the city’s activists. The Secret Service has also rolled out a muscular intelligence apparatus in Cleveland in advance of the convention. While most of their efforts are dedicated to addressing threats of terrorism, law-enforcement officials are also monitoring the social-media activity of Black Lives Matter activists.
Despite the increased security, black protesters will almost surely show up. Cleveland became a center of black organizing against police brutality after police killed Tamir Rice in 2014. The city has also been the target of a Justice Department probe into police brutality. The first major Black Lives Matter conference was held in Cleveland last year, marred by an incident in which a transit officer pepper-sprayed demonstrators.
Not all black protesters who show up in Cleveland or Philadelphia will be working for the same exact goals. Shanelle Matthews, the director of communications for the Black Lives Matter network, said the organization does not publicize direct action in advance, and the conventions do not have a blanket significance nationally. “Because we’re decentralized and all of the chapters work autonomously, to each of the chapters in their regions [conventions] mean something different,” Matthews said. Some chapters or affiliates that choose to protest might focus on police violence. Others may focus on economic justice. Still others may focus on environmental justice.
This is a critical summer for Black Lives Matter as an organization and a broader movement—as Matthews notes, it is “still in its infancy.” Local activists are seeking to build their advocacy networks and figure out what causes and methods make sense for them. Both conventions will provide opportunities for Black activists to make their mark on electoral politics, if they are so inclined. “I think this is a time for us as black and brown people in this country to really understand what it means to be part of the democratic process,” Mines told me. “It is a pivotal time for us especially for the DNC and Philadelphia historically. Understanding this is the birthplace of democracy and this is a once in a lifetime thing, we have to get our issues addressed.”
While these activists will undoubtedly draw from the legacies of 1964 and 1968, the thoroughly decentralized, intersectional Black Lives Matter movement may well add something new to the history of protests and conventions. After months of being overshadowed by the election, Black protesters will likely make headlines again in July.

Sotomayor nods to Black Lives Matter in biting dissent of illegal search ruling

By Ben Rosen, Christian Science Monitor

Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Evidence police obtain through wrong or illegal search and seizures can be used against defendants in some cases, a majority of the US Supreme Court ruled Monday, in a controversial decision that critics say infringes on civil liberties.
In a 5-3 decision, the court found a Utah police officer’s unlawful stop and search of Joseph Edward Strieff in Salt Lake City shouldn’t negate the warrant the officer, detective Doug Fackrell, discovered for Mr. Strieff’s arrest and the methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia he found on Strieff. In the majority opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas said Mr. Fackrell’s discovery of the warrant “attenuated the connection between the unlawful stop and the evidence seized incident to arrest.”
“While Officer Fackrell’s decision to initiate the stop was mistaken, his conduct thereafter was lawful,” wrote Justice Thomas.
In Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent, she condemned Thomas’s majority opinion and the police conduct it allows, which she wrote turns America into a “carceral state” because the citizens of this democracy will be subject to searches at any time. As the nation contends with questions the Black Lives Matter movement has surfaced, Sotomayor’s dissent shows the subject of police misconduct, especially in profiling citizens, has reached at least some of the high court.
“By legitimizing the conduct that produces this double consciousness, this case tells everyone, white and black, guilty and innocent, that an officer can verify your legal status at any time,” she wrote. “It says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights. It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged.”
“The court today holds that the discovery of a warrant for an unpaid parking ticket will forgive a police officer’s violation of your Fourth Amendment rights,” continued Sotomayor. “Do not be soothed by the opinion’s technical language: This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants — even if you are doing nothing wrong.”
In the case, Utah vs. Strieff, an anonymous tip of “narcotic activity” in a home led police to surveillance it, according to The New York Times. After Strieff left the house, Officer Fackrell stopped his vehicle “based on what the state later conceded were insufficient grounds, making the stop unlawful.” However, Fackrell found a warrant for Strieff for a minor traffic violation. He arrested Strieff, searched him and found methamphetamines and drug paraphernalia on him.
The Utah Supreme Court found the drugs could not be used to incriminate Strieff given the unlawful stop.
Strieff is white. Sotomayor’s dissent, however, focused particularly on “suspicionless stops” against people of color, invoking James Baldwin’s “The Fire Next Time,” W.E.B. Du Bois’s “The Souls of Black Folks,” and Ta-Nehisi Coate’s “Between the World and Me,” as Vox reported.
Sotomayor wrote that “suspicionless stops” are significant because “outstanding warrants are increasingly common.” A Justice Department report from 2015 found that 16,000 of Ferguson, Mo.’s 21,000 residents had outstanding warrants, many of which were for unpaid traffic fines.
As Black Lives Matter has called police miconduct into question, Justin Driver, a law professor at the University of Chicago, told The New York Times Sotomayor’s dissent was “the strongest indication we have yet that the Black Lives Matter movement has made a difference at the Supreme Court – at least with one justice.”
Others, however, previously worried that Black Lives Matter’s criticism of the criminal justice system – of systemic racism against blacks – goes too far, as The Economist wrote in August, suggesting that the current president has addressed the problem with more nuance.
“Unfortunately, America’s criminal-justice problems are deep and systemic, and there is indeed troubling evidence of racism. But it is inaccurate to present these problems as the result of an organised conspiracy by all white people to hold down blacks,” wrote the publication. “That is something that Barack Obama, whose speeches on race this year have been thoughtful and brilliantly articulated, appears to understand. Those who wish to succeed him ought to bear this in mind.”

This report contains material from the Associated Press.