CRT Biweekly Newsletter February 12 2016

Ferguson Update

  • On Wednesday, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the city of Ferguson, Missouri, alleging a pattern or practice of law enforcement conduct that violates the First, Fourth and 14th Amendments of the Constitution and federal civil rights laws.
  • In a press conference announcing the lawsuit, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said, “We intend to aggressively prosecute this case and I have no doubt that we will prevail.”  She added that, “the residents of Ferguson have suffered the deprivation of their constitutional rights – the rights guaranteed to all Americans – for decades.  They have waited decades for justice.  They should not be forced to wait any longer.”
  • Head of the Civil Rights Division Vanita Gupta also issued the following statement in a press release: “Our investigation found that Ferguson’s policing and municipal court practices violate the Constitution, erode trust and undermine public safety.  As shown by our lawsuit today, the Justice Department will continue to vigorously enforce the law to ensure that Ferguson implements long-overdue reforms necessary to create constitutional, effective and accountable policing.”

Other Highlights

  • A Florida man pleaded guilty to a hate crime for calling two mosques located in Pinellas County, Florida, and threatening to firebomb the mosques and shoot their congregants. 
  • We reached a settlement, which is subject to court approval, with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the City of Somerville, Massachusetts, resolving claims that the city violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) when it failed to re-employ a U.S. Marine Corps Reservist at the level he should have been in following his multiple military deployments, including tours of duty to Afghanistan.
  • Under the terms of a consent decree filed by the Justice Department earlier this week, Greyhound Lines Inc., the nation’s largest provider of intercity bus transportation, will implement a series of systemic reforms to resolve allegations that it repeatedly violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  In a press release, head of the Civil Rights Division Vanita Gupta said the agreement, “marks a major step toward fulfilling the promise of the ADA.”
  • A former police officer with the South Bend, Indiana, Police Department (SBPD), pleaded guilty in federal court to violating the civil rights of an arrestee.
  • A former judge in Charles County, Maryland, pleaded guilty to one count of the deprivation of rights under color of law for ordering a deputy sheriff to activate a stun-cuff worn by a criminal defendant representing himself during a pre-trial court proceeding.  After the judge ordered a deputy sheriff to activate the stun-cuff, it administered an electric shock to the victim for approximately five seconds.  The electric shock caused the victim to fall to the ground and scream in pain.
  • The Division and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reached a $21.9 million settlement agreement with Toyota Motor Credit Corporation (Toyota) – the nation’s largest captive auto lender and fifth largest auto lender overall – to resolve allegations that Toyota engaged in a pattern-or-practice of discrimination against African-American and Asian/Pacific Islander borrowers in auto lending. 
  • A Memphis, Tennessee, man pleaded guilty for his role in a sex trafficking scheme operated out of the Riviera Motel in New Orleans.  Six defendants have previously pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme, which used force and threats to compel multiple women to engage in prostitution for the defendants’ profit in New Orleans and elsewhere.

Twitter: @CivilRightsAAG | @CivilRights

Updated December 28, 2016

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