The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Civil Liberties News for Week Ending 7/20

by Jessica Azulay

A weekly run-down of stories related to rights, privacy, etc... @ Chicago torture report @ Immigrants protest deportations @ Students spied on @ Missouri gay foster parents @ House protects Pledge

Report: Chicago cops to get away with tortures

A long-awaited report on allegations of widespread and systemic torture against black suspects in Chicago was released yesterday, with special prosecutors saying they found evidence of abuse in at least half of the nearly 150 cases reviewed. The investigators also said they found enough evidence to prosecute five of the accused officers, but that the statute of limitations for their alleged crimes had expired.

As previously reported by The NewStandard, inmates and former inmates had implicated the Chicago police officers in a torture ring, which abused and terrorized black inmates into confessing to crimes. Tactics included beatings, suffocation, electric shock and even Russian roulette. The alleged perpetrators were never prosecuted; the alleged ringleader was fired, but others were never held accountable.

Some torture survivors’ initial reaction to the report, which took four years to complete, was anguish that officials had not found a way to prosecute their alleged torturers.

Editors’ note: Stay tuned to our upcoming update edition for more detailed reporting on the probe and its aftermath.

Immigration demonstrators take to Chi-Town streets

Thousands of immigrants and their supporters marched in Chicago yesterday to protest raids on workplaces and the deportations of those without documents. Police put the number of marchers at 10,000, according to the Associated Press, while organizers said there were 50,000 demonstrating.

Marchers urged the government to stop deporting undocumented workers and breaking up families, especially while Congress considers new immigration laws that could offer many undocumented immigrants a legal way to stay in the country. According to the Associated Press, immigration officials rounded up more than 2,100 immigrants during raids that ended in June.

The demonstrators also demanded legal status for all undocumented immigrants.

The US House of Representatives and the Senate have both passed immigration “reform� packages. Neither bill offers a path to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants in the United States. The House bill is punitive and would criminalize illegal immigration. The Senate bill steps up border and law enforcement while offering a path to legalization for immigrants who have been stateside for more than two years.

DHS spied on campus activists for Pentagon

Newly released documents show the Department of Homeland Security was monitoring students working on anti-military-recruitment campaigns and reporting the information to the Pentagon.

The reports from the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTFF) in Atlanta, Georgia to the Defense Department were obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union through a Freedom of Information Act request. They detail two nonviolent protests planned by students in Santa Cruz and Berkeley, California against military recruitment efforts.

One memo describes an e-mail intercepted by a “source� about Santa Cruz activists’ plans to hold a counter recruitment march and circulate a petition to bar military recruiters from the University of California–Santa Cruz. At the top, the JTFF report reads, “This information is being provided only to alert commanders and staff to potential terrorist activity or apprise them of other force-protection issues.�

Missouri changes anti-gay foster-parenting policy – sort of

After losing a court battle, Missouri has announced it will no longer, as a matter of policy, reject prospective foster parents based on their sexual orientation. The change, however, comes amidst resistance from some state officials who say they will now ask about the sexual orientation of foster parent applicants and take it into account when deciding who can be a foster parent.

The policy change, announced Tuesday, came five months after Lisa Johnston won a lawsuit challenging the state’s refusal to allow her and her partner to foster children because they are lesbians. According to USA Today, the state attorney general announced last month that Missouri would not appeal Johnston’s victory.

Department of Social Services said it changed its policy to comply with the court ruling, but that unlike before, officials will begin asking those applying to foster children about their sexual orientation. The Department likened the question to those already asked about religion and cultural background and said they would consider whether especially vulnerable children should be put in households with same-sex foster parents.

In 2004, the American Psychological Association passed a resolution supporting same-sex parenting, stating, “lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children� and that “the adjustment, development and psychological well-being of children is unrelated to parental sexual orientation.�

House moves to ban all Pledge challenges

The US House yesterday voted 260–167 to ban courts from hearing most cases surrounding the Pledge of Allegiance. The Pledge Protection Act of 2005 would prohibit nearly all US courts from deciding or hearing “questions pertaining to the interpretation of, or the validity under the Constitution of, the Pledge of Allegiance… or its recitation.�

The Senate has not yet passed a companion bill.

 

 


 

The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.


This News Digest originally appeared in the July 20, 2006 edition of The NewStandard.
Jessica Azulay is a staff journalist.

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