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Ferguson Devolves

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News Analysis

Military tactics exacerbate unrest, tensions between police and black community

By BVN Staff

Since the shooting death of Michael Brown, no two days have been exactly the same in Ferguson, Mo. Just when violence and chaos seem to be on the mend, the upheaval starts all over again.

We’ve seen the police in riot gear, the explosive confrontations, and innumerable calls for peace subdued by abrasive violence and looting. But the invocation of peace has been consistently disrupted by missteps largely on the shoulders of law enforcement officials in Missouri.

Adding Capt. Ron Johnson, a black highway patrol officer for Missouri, was a promising step to intervene and diffuse tensions one week ago. However, since Johnson has been thrust into the spotlight, state and local officials have been blamed for a cascade of mounting follies, including:

•    The delayed release of the name of the officer, Darren Wilson, accused of fatally shooting Brown.
•    The disclosure of Brown’s alleged involvement in a store robbery – a robbery allegedly unrelated to his encounter with Wilson.
•    The arrest of two journalists covering the Ferguson story.
•    Law enforcement recorded threatening civilians and journalists with force.

The optics in Ferguson are bad. Period.

President Obama announced Monday that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will travel to Ferguson. Holder officially stepped into the fray ahead of his visit Aug. 20, calling for federal authorities to do an autopsy of Brown. Holder will meet with FBI officials during his visit to Missouri.

What Ferguson needs right now is what every black community in America needs: a national coalition of law enforcement figures and community members dedicated to equality when establishing public safety.

However, the problem lies within America’s denial that race is a factor in the unrest in Ferguson. Yet oddly, and somewhat conversely, those same racial antagonists have scoffed at President Obama’s reference to race during his a press conference on Monday.

By now, it’s well-established that Ferguson is a city with a majority of blacks governed by mostly whites. Ferguson’s police force is more than 90 percent white and the community is about 67 percent black. According to a report last year by the Missouri Attorney General, black drivers accounted for 86 percent of traffic stops in Ferguson.

The racial implications are further amplified by a poll released Monday by Pew Research Center indicated that 80 percent of black respondents think the Michael Brown case “raises important issues about race” compared with on 37 percent of white respondents. In fact, the study also indicated in that same question that 47 percent of whites think “race is getting more attention than it deserves”. About 16 percent of white respondents said they “don’t know”.

If America cannot agree that race is a factor in so many allegations of police misconduct, then let’s focus on the objective data. Millions of dollars in civil lawsuits are paid by municipalities every year in cases of alleged abuse, ethics violations, and misconduct, whether those claims are true or not.

Last week,Black Voice News broke the story that New York Police Department (NYPD) officials met with Rialto Police Department July 31 to learn about the department’s use of body cameras among its police force. NYPD is currently mired in its own racial controversies regarding allegation of police misconduct. Rialto Police Department became the first police department in the U.S. to use body cameras in a randomized control trial experiment.

Many civil rights activists agree body cameras are not the end-all solution to establishing trust between police and the black community, but the technology has immense potential to reduce egregious complaints against officers.

If we cannot be in concert about how race plays a role in equality in America, maybe we can agree it’s costing time and money – and adopting a broad technological solution can probably save both in the future since we are not in sync about race.

For Many Girls Globally, U.S. a Symbol of Better Education

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UCR Professor: Greater representation of high-achieving women transcends into a “beacon” for girls everywhere

By Corey Arvin
Staff Writer

When news about the abduction of 276 schoolgirls reached Simi Ogunleye, she was heartbroken and outraged not only because of the ordeal, but that the Nigerian officials were not as responsive as they could have been, she said. The story hits home for Ogunleye, a Nigerian student attending University of California, Riverside (UCR) whose parents immigrated to the U.S. when she was 5-years-old largely in part to augment her chances of receiving a quality education.

“I was upset with President Jonathan Goodluck and the government, as well as with his wife's reaction,” she said.

Ogunleye’s father is an engineer and her mother is a local high school and college educator who emphasized the important of her education. In solidarity and support of the kidnapped victims, Ogunleye, who is vice president of the Nigerian Student Association at UCR, held a rally and town hall discussion on campus this month.

“It's sad because [Nigeria] has the potential to be great with its resources and educated population, but it is corruption and greed that is halting the process. It’s also sad to see it dwindle because of conflict with tribes and with the government.”

Nigeria’s crisis garnered national headlines weeks into the mass kidnapping with the schoolgirls still missing. It also broadcasted an image that gives the international community an “incorrect perception” of Nigeria that does not totally reflect the civility and vitality of the country, said Ogunleye.

“That's why so many Nigerians are so eager to move to more advanced nations. Just the fact that I can go to school [without conflict] I am grateful, yet in parts of Nigeria, sometimes they cannot go to school. They are scared they will be shot or killed. Nigerians put emphasis on education for women and men, it is something that they crave,” she said.

Ogunleye decried the militant extremist attempts of Boko Haram to stymie young girls’ desires to receive an education and considered the kidnapping a disruption to the advancement of Nigeria.

“To the girls, I would say ‘don't give up’. Education is power. That is all they can do to make Nigeria better, so don't give up.”

Young girls striving for education in the U.S. and developing countries live in contrasting environments that shape their access to education and quality learning. These differences can vary, but for girls pursuing an education everywhere, role models are a necessity, said Pamela Clute, PhD, professor of Mathematics at UCR. Clute believes no matter their circumstances, girls and young women still require examples of successful and accomplished women to achieve their academic goals. Clute, who founded the Girls Excelling in Mathematics for Success (GEMS) summer program, is a long-time advocate of advancing the education of young girls and women. Clute was also an honored recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring from the White House and also honor from the National Science Foundation for her dedication to math education. “The power of a role model, if they are a good one, is they can give you faith in yourself. They can navigate the system for you. When girls don't have strong parents, they don't have someone showing what they can do and how they can get to where they want to be,” said Clute.

According to Clute, basic and advanced education must be addressed and it begins in childhood. Clute pointed to math, for example, as one subject girls are not enthusiastic about learning. She stressed the importance of personalizing education with girls to instill the necessary confidence for success.

“California has the highest poverty rate of the U.S. and many are women of color. In the 21st century, it is education that has to be a priority,” she said.

Clute acknowledged that domestically, even though girls may be contending with access to quality education there are resources available and examples of successful women. It is one of the reasons girls in developing countries admire the U.S., she said.

“The U.S. is a beacon, even with all of our problems,” said Clute.

Upon learning about the abductions in Nigeria, Clute called the mass kidnappings a “horrific” tragedy that sends the wrong message about educating girls.

“If you look globally, for women to gain equality, they have to have a better education. And I think when you look to the U.S., yes, there are great role models to get other women in the pipeline of learning.”

Clute said examples of women achieving success in other countries could help girls excel in education.

The mass kidnapping in Nigeria also highlighted young girls’ struggles with access to education and disconcerting attitudes about the education of women. A social media campaign shared by activists, celebrities, and public figures spurred attention to the plight of Nigerian girls.

Christina M. Gray, PhD, assistant director of programs for the School of International Relations at University of Southern California (USC), says although the #BringOurGirlsBack campaign was moving, it is unclear if it will have any longevity with sustaining attention on issues affecting African girls. Gray believes the education of girls in underdeveloped countries can be a complex issue to address.

“The education of girls is one of the best investments we can make,” she said.

Law Enforcement Remembers Deputy Killed by Dorner

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Deputy Jeremiah MacKay remembered as a man with a ‘big heart’

By BVN Staff

As the local law enforcement community was mourning the loss of one of their own with the untimely death of Riverside Police Officer Michael Crain, they were struck another blow as former ex- LAPD officer Christopher Dorner claimed another victim during his standoff in the San Bernardino mountains.

During the pursuit and eventual end to the Dorner standoff, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremiah MacKay became Dorner’s fourth victim. According to San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon, MacKay suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was transported to Loma Linda Medical Center where he died of his injuries.

MacKay, 35, leaves to two children (7-year-old daughter, 4- month-old son) and a wife. Alex Collins, another deputy shot during the pursuit and gunfire remained hospitalized after undergoing multiple surgeries.

Last week, in a somber ceremony, MacKay’s body was transported to a local mortuary as bagpipes played by the Honor Guard during the impromptu processional.

MacKay, who worked in Big Bear and Yucaipa, was a 15-year veteran with the department and was promoted to detective in 2006. He served at the Twin Peaks sheriff's station for two years before working out of the Big Bear area and then Yucaipa.

Known for his big heart, MacKay served as the Sergeant-in-Arms of the Inland Empire Emerald Society, an organization that provides financial support to the families of Inland Empire law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

Messages on a Facebook tribute page range from condolences to the family to inspirational messages. One such post states: “I would just like to say our fallen officers have not come to their ‘End of Watch’ but promoted to a much higher position. Their squad cars have been replaced with wings. They are now Angels in heaven doing what they loved and lived for, protecting us. They made us feel safer and I feel even more protected now knowing they are still watching over us! God love them all!” Another post reads: “How appropriate that he’s named after the “Weeping Prophet.”

Funeral services for MacKay are held Feb. 21 at the San Manuel Amphitheatre.

Manhunt for Ex-LAPD Officer Christopher Dorner Ends in More Bloodshed

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Riverside Police Department, Sheriff's department mourn loss of fallen officers

By BVN Staff

The week-long manhunt for former Los Angeles Police Department officer Christopher Jordan Dorner came to an end Tuesday after it was confirmed Dorner was found dead following a shootout with Sheriff's deputies in Big Bear.

Authorities were alerted a suspect believed to be Dorner was in the Big Bear area after he attempted to tie up two maids in a cabin. One maid escaped and called authorities and deputies were dispatched to the area.

Two deputies were shot and wounded during a gun battle with the man suspected to be Dorner. The deputies were airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center where one officer succumbed to his injuries. The suspect ran and barricaded himself in a cabin.

Authorities reported several gunshots in the cabin before it caught fire. When the blaze died down, a body believed to be Dorner was found inside the cabin.

During the ordeal, four Big Bear schools were on lockdown as Riverside, Redlands, Rialto, San Bernardino and Los Angeles police personnel continued their investigation.

Before the shootout began, LAPD Lt. Commander Smith during a press conference urged Dorner to turn himself in. “Enough is enough,” he said. “ Let’s not have any further bloodshed. It’s time to turn yourself in.”

On Monday, the law enforcement community, Riverside community and Southern California residents remembered the life of fallen Riverside Police Department officer identified Sunday as Michael Crain, a decorated Marine who leaves behind a wife and two young children.

Crain’s funeral held at The Grove Community Church, Riverside, was standing room only to remember a man who fellow officers said was a great cop.

Dorner, who has eluded law enforcement for nearly a week, allegedly gunned Crain down last week while on patrol. A $1 million dollar reward has been offered in the capture and conviction of Dorner.

Officer Michael Crain was born in Anaheim, California to Stephen and Cindy Crain on April 9, 1978. He was the oldest of three children and had a brother, Jason, and sister, Leslie. He was raised in the Riverside area and graduated from Redlands High School in 1996.

After high school, Mike attended Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa for a year prior to enlisting in the United States Marine Corps. He served two deployment tours in Kuwait as a rifleman in the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, 3rd Battalion 1st Marines. He was a squad leader, and was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. He was then stationed at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, CA, where he taught Military Operations in Urban Terrain. During his military service, Mike was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with 1 star, a Certificate of Commendation, and the Rifle Marksmanship Badge.

After being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps, Mike joined the Riverside Police Department. He graduated from the Riverside Sheriff’s Academy, class #152, and was sworn in as a Riverside Police Officer on August 24, 2001.

Following his graduation from the Field Training Program, he was assigned to Field Operations as a patrol officer. During his 11-year tenure with the Riverside Police Department, Mike served as a patrol officer, and was assigned to the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team. He had also served as a Helicopter Observer, a Field Training Officer, a Firearms Instructor, and had been assigned to the University Neighborhood Enhancement Team (UNET).

In a written statement by the Riverside Police Department, the community has been asked to direct all contributions to the Riverside Police Officers Association.

“In response to the many requests, the following information is provided should anyone wish to make a donation to the family of our fallen police officer. Such donations will be provided to the family through the Riverside Police Officers Association in order to assist the family with the many financial needs they will undoubtedly face. Please mail checks to: Riverside Police Officers Association Assistance Fund or RPOA, 1965 Chicago Ave, Suite B., Riverside, California 92507.” This past Monday, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office filed criminal charges against Dorner for the murder of Crain and the attempted murder of three others.

Before Tuesday, Dorner has been charged with one count of murder with two special circumstance allegations of the murder of a peace officer and the discharge of a firearm from a vehicle. He also has been charged with three counts of attempted murder of a peace officer. The case number is RIF1300248. The special circumstance allegations make Dorner eligible for the death penalty. A no-bail warrant for Dorner’s arrest has also now been issued.

“Mr. Dorner has committed one of the most horrific crimes imaginable,” DA Zellerbach said. “When those who protect us every day then become the target for violence, we as a society must become the ‘eyes and ears’ in assisting law enforcement in apprehending this very violent person.”

Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz said, “We are confident that Dorner will be captured and that he will face judgment for his horrific and cowardly crimes. The District Attorney’s Office and the Riverside Police Department have been working side by side since the murder of Officer Michael Crain and we will continue to do so until this is resolved.”

Dorner is charged with the Feb. 7, 2013, murder of Crain, an 11-year-veteran of the department. Crain, a department training officer, was in a marked RPD patrol car with his trainee when Dorner fired a rifle from inside his vehicle, killing Crain and critically injuring the second officer. That officer’s name is not being released at this time.

Dorner is also charged with shooting at two Los Angeles police officers in Corona prior to the murder of the Riverside police officer. The two LAPD officers were in Corona to provide protection for someone Dorner has named in his so-called manifesto. One officer was grazed on the head and the second uninjured in that shooting.

Bishop Lacy Sykes, Jr., Senior Pastor/Teacher of Cross Word Christian Church said, "It's always tragic when we allow our emotions to outweigh rational thinking. Mr. Dorner responded to the pressures we all feel in this life the wrong way. I have personally been the victim of a wrongful termination. The emotional roller coaster can be overwhelming, but responding violently is always the wrong response. Even if his claims of racial discrimination are found to have merit, they will fall on deaf ears. Lives have senselessly been destroyed and that is never within the will of God."

Attorney General Kamala Harris expressed her condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Officer Crain: “This officer's death is a senseless loss. His service and sacrifice will never be forgotten. Our hearts go out to his family and friends, and to the Riverside Police Department.”

Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside) said: “My thoughts and prayers are with the family members and friends of the Riverside Police Officers who were ambushed earlier this week. I join the Riverside community and the Riverside Police Department in mourning the loss of the slain officer and promise that his dedication and service will not be forgotten.”

Fontana Police Officers’ Association Endorses State Assembly Candidate Cheryl Brown

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Fontana – The Fontana Police Officers’ Association is supporting Cheryl Brown to represent the 47th District in the State Assembly in the June 5th Primary. “Cheryl Brown understands the importance of public safety and will be an asset to our district,” explains Brian Binks, President of the Fontana POA. “She knows that the state’s continued economic recovery depends on safe communities where people can raise their families and grow their businesses.”

Cheryl Brown has both public and private experience with 31 years of running a publishing company with her husband Hardy and 17 years on the San Bernardino City and County Planning Commissions. Her civic engagement has spanned a lifetime and includes work with such groups as the Inland Empire Urban League, Arrowhead United Way, YWCA and the San Gorgonio Girl Scout Council. Brown’s years of experience in the California legislature extend from her posting as district representative for State Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod to her current work for Assemblywoman Wilmer Amina Carter. Her job is to make sure community issues – what matters to residents and business owners -- reach the Capitol.

“Our organization believes Cheryl Brown has a proven track record of leadership in her community, a record that has included strong support for law enforcement,” adds Binks. The Fontana Police Department is recognized at the state and national levels for award-winning community policing programs. The 156 members of the Fontana Police Officers’ Association are dedicated to its department’s goals of preventing crime, identifying and apprehending those who violate the rights of others, preserving the peace and providing a safe community. For more information about Cheryl Brown and her campaign for the California legislature, visit www.BrownforAssembly2012.com

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BVN National News Wire