Offering asides, recommended links, blogworthy quotations, and more, In Brief is the Northwest Progressive Institute's microblog of world, national, and local politics.

Tag Archives: Criminal Justice

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FBI arrests gang of right wing neo-Nazis after they threatened activists and KING5’s Chris Ingalls

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has charged Cameron Brandon Shea, 24, of Redmond; Kaleb Cole, 24, of Montgomery, Texas; Taylor Ashley Parker-Dipeppe, 20, of Spring Hill, Florida; and Johnny Roman Garza, 20, of Queen Creek, Arizona with conspiring to mail threatening communications and stalking.


Abolition of death penalty in Washington draws attention from national, world media

Here’s a roundup of the coverage of today’s historic victory for human rights:

Note that stories published by local media are not included above.

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Harvey Weinstein and Steve Bannon: The troubled business relationship revealed

“In the week since bombshell allegations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein became public, the Breitbart website has been all over the scandal as an opportunity to showcase liberal hypocrisy in Hollywood. One thing missing from its coverage, though, is the role that its executive chairman Steve Bannon once played for Weinstein,” writes Eriq Gardner.


When the mob of white men marched in Charlottesville carrying flaming torches Friday night shouting “Heil Trump” as the curtain-raiser for a day of violent clashes with counterprotesters that left three people dead, they showed the world that America is once again playing with fire. And Trump was the one with the match.

— The Washington Post’s Petula Dvorak: Trump lit the torches of white supremacy in Charlottesville. We must extinguish them.

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The best way to fight neo-Nazis is to… laugh?

The Seattle Times’ Danny Westneat writes: “Hate is marching in the streets. Some of the same groups that marched in Charlottesville are growing in the Northwest. A local author has argued the best thing to do to confront it all is to … show up and mock them.” The local author Westneat talked to is none other than David Neiwert, the respected creator of Orcinus and an expert on right wing extremism and eliminationists.


Because the Court finds that Defendant willfully violated an order of the court, it finds Defendant guilty of criminal contempt.

Ex-Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio found guilty of criminal contempt of court

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Reports of bias incidents in Oregon and southwest Washington since Donald Trump’s victory

The Oregonian has published an accounting of all of the reports of hate crimes and bias incidents reported in Oregon and southwest Washington since Trump’s victory in 2016. The newspaper is partnering with ProPublica on the project.


All the experts agreed about one other fact: Even if Trump does pardon himself, that would not shield him from impeachment hearings. And most believe if he did make a move like this, it would be both an admission of guilt and a potential constitutional crisis.

— Vox writer Sean Illing: Donald Trump is considering pardoning himself. I asked fifteen experts if that’s legal.


Reader responds to revival of hunger strike at Tacoma’s infamous private prison

To The Editor:

More than four hundred people have joined the hunger strike in the NWDC in Tacoma that started Monday. What are they demanding? Edible food, access to medical care, expedited immigration hearings, and pay of more than $1 per day of labor. These demands are not only utterly reasonable, it is horrifying that they are not already standard practice and that people detained in the NWDC have to take such extreme measures to demand basic rights and necessities.

This is not the first time the NWDC has drawn attention for it’s questionable practices. Last fall, we heard about the detention of a man who was adopted from Korea as a toddler and lived in the U.S. his entire life, simply because his adoptive parents didn’t fill out the proper forms. He was torn away from his wife and kids and locked up in the NWDC to be deported to a country he knew nothing about.

It seems clear that our current system of detaining undocumented people is a gross violation of human rights. And yet the Trump administration is asking for billions of additional tax dollars to implement mass detentions and deportations of undocumented people. What about America being “the land of the free,” “the land of opportunity?” Are these values we care about at all as a nation or are they just intended as cute catch phrases? Sen. Patty Murray, Sen. Maria Cantwell, and Rep. Dave Reichert should reject this unreasonable request.

But this is a bare minimum. These injustices have been going on for much longer than the current administration has been in power, and simply preventing them from getting worse doesn’t make them better. There should be an immediate investigation into the shady practices of the NWDC, and for long term solutions to this crises we must work towards comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for undocumented Americans.

Helen Mountjoy-Venning, Olympia

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Chelsea Manning is going free: President Obama commutes thirty-five year prison sentence

Chelsea Manning, the transgender soldier sentenced to thirty-five years in prison for leaking documents to WikiLeaks will be released this coming May after President Obama granted a commutation.

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U.S. Supreme Court rules Florida’s system for sentencing people to death unconstitutional

In a nearly unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that a Florida law that has given judges the final say over who is put to death is unconstitutional. Juries must decide whether a person is sentenced to death, the Court said, with only Justice Samuel Alito dissenting. Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSBlog has more on the ruling.


There is no other state that permits anyone to be sentenced to death other than by a unanimous determination by the jury… And the State of Florida requires unanimity for shoplifting, just not for death.

— Seth P. Waxman, an attorney for Florida death row prisoner Timothy Lee Hurst, condemning the Sunshine State’s horrible capital punishment statute (Justices question Florida’s death penalty system, The New York Times).

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This morning, Pope Francis became the first leader of the Roman Catholic Church to address a joint session of the United States Congress.

In his beautifully framed speech, firmly rooted in humanity’s universal progressive values, he urged Congress to act to address income inequality, the climate crisis, and immigration. He also called for the abolition of the death penalty.

Read More »

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Fire at Planned Parenthood’s Pullman health center determined to be arson

Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest’s facility in Pullman, Washington (the home of Washington State University) was severely damaged by fire earlier today. Fire investigators have now concluded the blaze was deliberately set, no doubt by right wing militant extremists who want to destroy the organization. “This is an appalling act of violence towards Planned Parenthood, but unfortunately a predictable ripple effect from the false and incendiary attacks that fuel violence from extremists,” said Karl Eastlund, CEO of Planned Parenthood Washington and Northern Idaho.


This is the M.O. of this administration… Anytime there is an accident like this, the president is clear: He doesn’t like for Americans to have guns, and so he uses every opportunity, this being another one, to basically go parrot that message.

— Former Texas governor Rick Perry, calling the hate crime in Charleston an “accident” while attempting to slam President Obama for advocating for sensible gun laws. Freudian slip? (via The Hill) Emphasis is ours.

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Jon Stewart opened last night’s episode of The Daily Show with commentary in place of comedy following a white supremacist’s terrorist attack on a black church in Charleston. Explaining that he had been unable to come up with any jokes, the longtime Comedy Central host delivered a short, off-the-cuff monologue before cutting to commercial and returning to begin a conversation with that night’s guest, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai (ملاله یوسفزۍ in Pashto).

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Before mass murder at Mother Emanuel, a long history of attacks in Charleston

South Carolina’s capital city has an ugly history of racially-motivated violence, writes New York Times Magazine contributor Douglas Egerton.

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Nebraska lawmakers vote to abolish executions

Legislators in one of the most conservative states in the Union have just done something remarkable: they’ve overwhelmingly voted to permanently abolish executions. Republican Governor Pete Ricketts has pledged to veto the historic bill, but since it passed by a veto-proof majority, there’s a good chance it will become law anyway. Activists should take this vote to heart, for it shows that progressive wins are possible, even in the reddest of places.


They ought to demonstrate a little humanity… Killing a teenager’s not going to do anything. I think it’s just a kind of visceral revenge. I think that in three years, the people of Boston and the people on the jury will feel bad about this decision.

— Neil Maher, a native Bostonian who now lives in Maryland, speaking to the New York Times about the death sentence for Boston Maraton bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, which most Bostonians are opposed to.


That said, my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts [of one] group but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the US to third world dictatorships like China and others plunged tens of millions of good hard working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.

— Baltimore Orioles COO John Angelos, defending the peaceful protests that have taken place since the killing of Freddie Gray (via Deadspin).


We are all just here for a time – whether in this building or even on this earth. But the values we hold dear will live on long after we have left this stage. Our responsibility, while we are here, is to breathe life into them; to imbue them with the strength of our convictions and the weight of our efforts.

— New Attorney General Loretta Lynch delivers remarks at swearing in by Vice President Joe Biden (via the Department of Justice)