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Cruel and Unusual Punishment: Brooklyn Inmates Went Without Power, Heat for a Week

"It is clear the officials there have disregarded the basic human rights of inmates," tweeted Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY).

On Jan. 27, Metropolitan Detention Center in Sunset Park had an electrical fire and roughly 1,600 inmates were affected.


The facility was basically running on backup electricity for over a week putting inmates in danger of freezing to death among other things. The inmates did not have access to hot food, heat or the ability to contact attorneys, friends and family.

What was most daunting is the prisoners took a united stand by banging against the jail windows and some of them waved lights inside so that they could be seen. They endured a week of living in the cruelest and harshest conditions during the coldest time of the year.

Neither officials nor politicians took the lives and well-being of the inmates seriously. Among a few of the politicians to visit the inmates was Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY). She wanted to convey their emotions.

"The inmates are very, very angry and complaining," said Rep. Nydia Velazquez. "We expressed our frustration that the warden is not approaching this with a sense of urgency.

Initially, Velazquez wasn't allowed to see the inmates although the facility is within the district she represents. However, her first opportunity to visit the facility happened this past Saturday after seeing news reports that hundreds of inmates are being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.

She visited the facility with fellow Democratic Congress members Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney as well as city and state lawmakers, and this time the elected officials spoke with inmates.

"After visiting MDC again today it is clear the officials there have disregarded the basic human rights of inmates. This appalling situation needs to be fixed and I will continue pressuring BOP for immediate action," Velazquez tweeted Saturday.

State Sen. Zellnor Myrie, who represents the district, tweeted that the Bureau of Prisons had "gave us incoherent explanations and showed no sense of urgency, and little desire to address the crisis at hand."

The conditions are considered abominable by human rights advocates.

Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, released a statement: "It is shocking that the government would hold people for days on end in a dark, freezing jail during one of the coldest weeks in memory."

The power has now been restored but it's not certain if it's due to the Department of Justice's intervention.

A statement was issued by Wyn Hornbuckle, Deputy Director of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of Justice:

"The electrical power at the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facility at MDC Brooklyn was restored at approximately 6:30 p.m. (Sunday) evening. With the heat and hot water operational, and the restoration of electrical power, the facility can now begin to return to regular operations. In the coming days, the Department will work with the Bureau of Prisons to examine what happened and ensure the facility has the power, heat and backup systems in place to prevent the problem from reoccurring."

The Conversation (5)
05 Feb, 2019

America . No Morals , No Conscience, No Decency. Ugly , Ugly , Ugly .

Rose Smith05 Feb, 2019

Those federal officials used 'slavery' tactics. They failed to see the inmates as human. There needs to be some firing here.

Mona05 Feb, 2019

I can think of several individuals that should be fired.

05 Feb, 2019

Here's hopin every BoP site (inc those in the private co hands) has emergency generators. Other wise ppl can B hurt, the state/fed can pay some lrg fees to service the suits they incur.

- -Chad

Amherst

MA

Middle School Student Arrested After Refusing to Recite Pledge of Allegiance

Ana Alvarez, a substitute teacher, asked the student why he continues to live in the U.S., "if it's so bad here."

An 11-year-old boy was arrested for not following orders and "causing a disruption" when he refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in class.

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TV Station Reports on Michigan Governor's 'Curves' and Gets Slammed on Twitter

"I've got a message for all of the women and girls like mine who have to deal with garbage like this every day: I've got your back," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tweeted.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) gave her first annual address to the state on Tuesday focusing on infrastructure, education and bipartisanship to reach effective solutions. But a local TV station chose to focus more on Whitmer's curves in her dress. It's "a cheap, sexist and indefensible shot at a strong woman in leadership," said State Democratic Party Chairwoman Lavora Barnes.

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U.S. Citizens Detained for Speaking Spanish Sue Border Patrol

"It's unconstitutional to detain people just because of their language, accent, or color of their skin," says the ACLU.

ACLU

Ana Suda and Martha Hernandez, American-born Latinas, are suing US Custom and Border Protection (CBP) officers for racial profiling.

They were detained at a gas station convenience store in Havre, Montana, last year, by an officer who asked the women where they were born after hearing them speak Spanish.

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Senate Backs Legislation to Make Lynching a Federal Hate Crime

"Lynching is a dark, despicable part of our nation's history and I'm hopeful this measure will swiftly pass the House," Sen. Kamala Harris tweeted.

It's 2019 and lynching still hasn't been properly outlawed. A bill, introduced by Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), was cleared on Thursday in the Senate to make lynching a federal crime. The measure will now go to the House. Harris, Booker and Scott are the only Black members of the Senate.

Harris tweeted on Thursday:

Congress has tried more than 200 times to pass an anti-lynching law, but has failed. The Senate passed a resolution in 2005, apologizing to lynching victims.

The bipartisan bill acknowledges the harms of lynching, which is a form of domestic terrorism, and the federal government's failure to stop it.

It defines the crime as "the willful act of murder by a collection of people assembled with the intention of committing an act of violence upon any person."

In December, the Senate also passed the bill. But it was days before the 115th Congress went out of business, and the measure never reached the House floor.

"It's not the first time we've come down to this body to try to right the wrongs of history," Booker said on the Senate floor.

"For too long we have failed, failed to ensure justice for the victims of history and failed to make clear in the United States of America, in this great country, lynching is and always has been not only a federal crime but a moral failure."

According to the NAACP, "From 1882-1968, 4,743 lynchings occurred in the United States."

"Of the total, 3,446 of the victims were Black, accounting for approximately 72.7 percent; and 1,297 were white, which is 27.3 percent."

"These numbers seem large, but it is known that not all of the lynchings were ever recorded," the organization stated.

Wisconsin GOP Lawmakers Call Kaepernick 'Controversial' and Remove His Name From Black History Resolution

"Beyond outrageous that we, as the Legislative Black Caucus, had to get the permission of our white colleagues to pass our Black History Month resolution," tweeted Rep. Shelia Stubbs.

Former NFL player Colin Kaepernick is so "controversial" to GOP lawmakers in Wisconsin that they refused to include his name in a resolution to honor prominent Black Americans during February. But for members of the Legislature's Black caucus, Kaepernick, who was born in Wisconsin, is anything but controversial.

The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback was the first NFL player in 2016 to kneel during the national anthem in protest of police brutality. Kaepernick, along with former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and baseball legend Reggie Jackson, are some of the more than two-dozen names suggested by the Black caucus to include in the resolution.

Republicans refused to support a resolution naming Kaepernick "for obvious reasons," Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke of Kaukauna said during a news conference on Tuesday. He added, "Colin Kaepernick is obviously a controversial figure."

Steineke and others in the GOP are following the lead of the head of their party, who has called NFL players who kneel during the national anthem "sons of bi***es."

Kaepernick is currently pursuing a grievance against the NFL. He claims that ever since he opted out of his contract with the 49ers in early 2017, team owners and executives have colluded to keep him out of the league.

Wisconsin Republicans initially blocked the Black caucus' resolution. But then they amended it to delete Kaepernick's name on a 61-34 party-line vote. Democrats had to decide whether to go against their own resolution or accept it without Kaepernick. They wound up agreeing to remove his name, and the state Assembly passed a resolution on Tuesday.

For the second year in a row, the Republicans, who are all white, in the Wisconsin Legislature objected to how Black lawmakers wanted to honor — Black History Month.

One of the Black lawmakers who authored the resolution, Democratic Rep. David Crowley of Milwaukee, called the incident "a textbook example of white privilege."

Wisconsin's population is 87.3 percent white, a much less diverse population than average.

Crowley also said that Kaepernick, who is a philanthropist, was included, in part, because he gave a $25,000 donation to a nonprofit for teens in Milwaukee called Urban Underground.

Rep. Shelia Stubbs (D-Madison) tweeted on Tuesday:

State Sen. Lena Taylor said on Wednesday, that she would offer an amendment to include Kaepernick to the resolution.

AccuWeather to Pay $290K in Fines Over Sexual Harassment

Barry Myers, AccuWeather's former CEO, is Trump's nominee to run the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Barry Myers, former CEO of AccuWeather

Weather giant, AccuWeather, has agreed to pay $290,000 in fines after it was found that the company subjected female workers to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.

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