NAACP Legal Defense Fund on Guilty Verdicts for Baltimore Detectives Marcus Taylor & Daniel Hersl

2/12/18

LDF Statement on Guilty Verdicts for Baltimore Detectives Marcus Taylor and Daniel Hersl

Today, Baltimore Police Department (BPD) Detectives Marcus Taylor and Daniel Hersl were found guilty at trial of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, and other charges as part of a criminal conspiracy based out of the BPD’s Gun Trace Task Force. NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill issued the following statement in response:

“Beyond the guilty verdict and prior guilty pleas in this case, it’s time to talk about what comes next for the city of Baltimore. This corruption went on unabated for nearly 10 years and was only brought to light as a result of a federal investigation. Neither City Hall, BPD’s Internal Affairs, nor the State’s Attorney’s Office was able to uncover and hold accountable the officers at the heart of this criminal conspiracy. Residents deserve new procedures, practices, regulations, safety valves, and training across city agencies – including the State’s Attorney’s office – to ensure that this cannot happen again.

“What we learned from this case is precisely what has been missing from the national dialogue on policing. Like with DOJ’s blistering report on the BPD, we heard testimony that affirmed the gross misconduct that communities have complained of for years. Far too often, the voices of community members are disbelieved or dismissed. Going forward, city leaders, law enforcement officials, and the media must be diligent in centering conversations about policing around residents’ lived experiences. It shouldn’t take federal investigations to recognize and trust the community.

“City leaders should also focus on taking steps to prevent police corruption, such as training officers on constitutional policing and developing an early intervention system to identify problem officers – both of which are required by the consent decree. We’re working to ensure that the consent decree process produces real results, but that can’t be all. It is critical that the community’s mistrust of law enforcement, which has been validated by these proceedings, is understood and that structural changes are made well-beyond just the BPD.”

Press:

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Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.

With the guilty verdicts having been rendered in the case of Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor, the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) will move to terminate their employment with the agency upon final conviction. Since they were indicted on March 1, 2017, they have been suspended without pay. The other individuals indicted have previously pleaded guilty and none of them remain employees of the Baltimore Police Department.

We recognize that this indictment and subsequent trial uncovered some of the most egregious and despicable acts ever perpetrated in law enforcement. I am thankful for the FBI and the BPD internal affairs division for their professionalism while investigating and preparing this case.

During the course of the trial, we have had a team of people monitoring the proceedings. We have created a new Corruption Unit that will focus, specifically, on this case and the allegations that were made, but were not part of the indictment or prosecution. Let me make it clear; I have ZERO TOLERANCE for corruption.

Our job moving forward is to earn back the trust and respect of the community. It will be a process and I understand the doubt, fear, and pessimism, but I ensure you that rooting out anyone who thinks they can tarnish the badge and violate our citizen’s rights, is a top priority of mine.

I ask for your support, as well as your criticisms, as we move forward to making the Baltimore Police Department a great and well respected institution again. We owe it to you and we have no option but to succeed.

Darryl DeSousa
Police Commissioner-Designate

Orrin Hatch Introduces Bill to Protect Free Speech on College Campuses

Feb 07 2018

Washington, D.C.— Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the senior Republican in the United States Senate, introduced the FREE Act, legislation to protect free speech on college campuses.

Justice Department Files Statement of Interest in California College Free Speech Case

“My proposal would require public colleges and universities to provide clear guidance on their efforts to protect free speech and the free exchange of all ideas,” Hatch said. “Students on campus should know that any regulation of speech remains content-neutral, apolitical, and narrowly tailored. They should be able to trust that their campuses will foster free speech, not stifle it.”

https://www.scribd.com/document/371020657/Free-Right-to-Expression-in-Education-Act-sponsored-by-Republican-Sen-Orrin-Hatch#from_embed

He wrote more about this critical issue and how his legislation would help bolster free speech in an op-ed this afternoon in National Review:

 Protecting Free Speech Where It Matters Most, on the College Campus

By Senator Orrin G. Hatch

 http://www.nationalreview.com/article/456164/free-speech-college-campuses-legislation-ensure-it

Justice Department Files Statement of Interest in California College Free Speech Case

Photo: Ben Shapiro was one of the high-profile speakers hosted by YAF this year at UC Berkeley. The event prompted counter-protests, a high level of security, and offers of counseling for students who did not feel safe.
Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Department of Justice filed a Statement of Interest in Young America’s Foundation and Berkeley College Republicans v. Janet Napolitano. The plaintiffs, Berkeley College Republicans (BCR) and Young America’s Foundation (YAF), allege that the University of California, Berkeley, enforced a double standard when applied to free speech. BCR alleges that UC Berkeley applied a more rigorous and highly discretionary set of rules to their organization compared to other campus groups, especially with respect to “high-profile” campus speakers.

The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit as a result of excessive hurdles BCR faced in bringing speakers of their choice onto campus. They allege that UC Berkeley’s High Profile Speaker Policy and Major Events Policy violated their rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that Berkeley’s “High-Profile Speaker Policy” granted administrators unfettered discretion to decide which speakers are subject to arduous curfews, prohibitive security costs, or undesirable venues. In one instance, administrators—who had full discretion to determine who constituted a “high-profile speaker”—established a 3:00 pm “curfew” that conflicted with class times.

While the plaintiffs attempted to book speakers under the restrictions of the “High-Profile Speaker Policy,” a former president of Mexico and a former White House adviser were hosted at the University, but University administrators did not apply the High-Profile Speakers Policy to those events.

Berkeley counseling for impact speakers “have on individuals’ sense of safety & belonging”

In filing the Statement of Interest, Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand provided the following statement:

“This Department of Justice will not stand by idly while public universities violate students’ constitutional rights.”

In addition to the statement, Associate Attorney General today penned an op-ed(link is external) on the issue of campus free speech.

This is the third Statement of Interest filed by the Department of Justice in a First Amendment case under Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The first was filed on September 26, 2017 in Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski, and the second was filed on October 24, 2017 in Shaw v. Burke.

Attorney General Sessions reestablished the Department’s commitment to protecting First Amendment rights—especially campus free speech– in a speech at Georgetown Law School in 2017.

Atheists Denounce Trump Administration’s New “Religious Freedom” Office and Dangerous New Rules Promoting Discrimination

Washington, DC—As part of its continued assault on LGBTQ people and women under the guise of “religious freedom,” the Trump administration has announced the creation of a new “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division” within the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights. The new division would be charged with shielding medical professionals who refuse to treat patients because of religious objections.

In addition, HHS is expected to announce a proposed rule change that would allow healthcare providers to discriminate against patients and deny treatment on the basis of religious objections.

The rule change would roll back Obama-era regulations that provided non-discrimination protections for individuals receiving healthcare services. Prior to these regulations, healthcare providers were able to use “conscience” exceptions to deny access to birth control, treatment for HIV and AIDS, and end-of-life care; discriminate against transgender patients and even deny emergency ambulance services to a woman seeking an abortion.

“The Trump administration seems to define religious freedom as the ability to freely discriminate against LGBTQ people and women,” said Alison Gill, legal and policy director for American Atheists. “I have no doubt that changing this rule will cost people their lives. Medical evidence, not religious dogma, should be deciding medical care.”

So-called “conscience” protections are the latest tactic being used by the Religious Right to undermine civil rights laws and equal protection. In a proclamation for National Religious Freedom Day, the Trump administration said that Americans could pick and choose which laws to follow on the basis of their religious beliefs, a sentiment echoed by Roger Severino, the director of HHS’ Office for Civil Rights, in a statement announcing the proposed changes.

“These changes fly in the face of established law and court precedent. This new office and the proposed rule don’t protect religious freedom. They merely elevate one particular set of religious views—namely that LGBTQ people are sinful and that abortion is immoral—above all others, and weaponize it against vulnerable people,” added Gill. “The Office for Civil Rights should try focusing on protecting civil rights instead of wasting time and money to undermine them.”

Severino, the chief architect of the proposed HHS rule, has previously worked to expand religious exemptions and undermine basic civil rights protections for LGBTQ people, particularly transgender people.

Transgender Professor Wins Landmark Decision in Discrimination Case: Awarded $1.165 million

“During that time, the human resources employee warned Dr. Tudor that Southeastern’s Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Douglas McMillan, had inquired whether Dr. Tudor could be fired because her “transgender lifestyle” offended his religious beliefs.”

In November 2017, a federal jury award Dr. Rachel Tudor more than one million dollars in a Civil Rights Lawsuit filed by the United States Justice Department.

Background:

On March 30, 2015 The Justice Department announced it was filing a lawsuit alleging that Southeastern Oklahoma State University discriminated against transgender woman and the Regional University System of Oklahoma for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by discriminating against a transgender employee on the basis of her sex and retaliating against her when she complained about the discrimination.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced in December 2014 that the Department of Justice takes the position that Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination is best read to extend the statute’s protection to claims based on an individual’s gender identity, including transgender status.

According to the United States’ complaint, filed in federal district court in Oklahoma City today, Rachel Tudor began working for Southeastern as an Assistant Professor in 2004.  At the time of her hire, Tudor presented as a man.  In 2007, Tudor, consistent with her gender identity, began to present as a woman at work.  Throughout her employment, Tudor performed her job well, and in 2009, she applied for a promotion to the tenured position of Associate Professor.  Southeastern’s administration denied her application, overruling the recommendations of her department chair and other tenured faculty from her department.  The United States’ complaint alleges that Southeastern discriminated against Tudor when it denied her application because of her gender identity, gender transition and non-conformance with gender stereotypes.

In 2010, Tudor filed complaints regarding the denial of her application for promotion and tenure.  Shortly after it learned of her complaints, Southeastern refused to let Tudor re-apply for promotion and tenure despite Southeastern’s own policies permitting re-application.  At the end of the 2010-11 academic year, Southeastern and RUSO terminated Tudor’s employment because she had not obtained tenure.

Tudor filed a charge of discrimination with the Oklahoma City Area Office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that Southeastern’s decisions were unlawful.  The EEOC investigated the charge and determined that there was reasonable cause to believe discrimination occurred.  The EEOC’s attempts at conciliation were unsuccessful, and it referred the matter to the Department of Justice.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced in December 2014 that the Department of Justice takes the position that Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination is best read to extend the statute’s protection to claims based on an individual’s gender identity, including transgender status.

Read the full complaint filed by the United States here:

https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/opa/press-releases/attachments/2015/03/30/doj-eeoc_complaint.pdf

ADDITIONAL FACTS LISTED IN THE COMPLAINT:

Dr. Tudor’s Employment at Southeastern Oklahoma State University

In 2004, Dr. Tudor began working at Southeastern as a tenure track Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Humanities, and Languages (the “English Department”). At that time, she presented as a man and went by a traditionally male name.

Dr. Tudor was the first transgender professor ever to work at Southeastern.

In the summer of 2007, Dr. Tudor notified Southeastern that she planned to transition from male to female and begin to present as a woman at work during the 2007-08 academic year.

After she informed Southeastern about her transition, Dr. Tudor received a phone call from an employee of Southeastern’s human resources office to discuss various issues related to her gender transition. During that time, the human resources employee warned Dr. Tudor that Southeastern’s Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Douglas McMillan, had inquired whether Dr. Tudor could be fired because her “transgender lifestyle” offended his religious beliefs. The human resources employee told Dr. Tudor that Vice President McMillan had been told that Southeastern could not fire her because she was transgender.

During the 2007-08 academic year, Dr. Tudor began to present as a woman at work by, among other things, wearing women’s clothing, styling her hair in a feminine manner, and going by the traditionally female name Rachel.

After Dr. Tudor began presenting as a woman, Jane McMillan, the director of Southeastern’s Counseling Center, told her that she should take safety precautions because some people were openly hostile towards transgender people. She also told Dr. Tudor that Vice President McMillan (who is her brother) considered transgender people to be a “grave offense to his [religious] sensibilities.”