US Activists seek special prosecutor in teen's custody death
Most crimes against Mexico journalists, activists unpunished
MEXICO CITY (AP) — A senior government human rights official said Thursday that 90% of crimes against activists and journalists go unpunished in Mexico. The assistant interior secretary in charge of human rights said that in those cases where the culprits have been identified, almost half are local officials. Local officials in Mexico are often angered by corruption accusations against them, but in some cases they are also in league with criminal or business interests.Alejandro Encinas said new laws are needed to protect activists and reporters.
A coalition of community groups demanded Monday that a special prosecutor be appointed in the case of a Black youth who died following a physical struggle with staff at a Kansas juvenile center.
In a Wichita rally and letter to local officials, community activists also called for the release of video and the names of the individuals involved in the death of 17-year-old Cedric Lofton. It comes aftercontradicted an earlier, preliminary finding that the teenager hadn’t suffered life-threatening injuries. The autopsy ruled the death a homicide.
Death of Black Kansas teen in police custody ruled a homicide
A 17-year-old Kansas boy who died in police custody after being restrained at a juvenile jail died by homicide, according to the autopsy report. Cedric Lofton, a Black teenager, was taken into custody on Sept. 24 after his foster father called 911 to say his son was having a mental breakdown and needed an evaluation.When Lofton refused to go voluntarily, he was arrested for battering a law enforcement officer and taken, restrained, to the Sedgwick County juvenile detention facility.
The report said that the teen's heart and breathing stopped after he was handcuffed while lying on his stomach. Lofton had briefly been in the custody of the Sedgwick County Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center in Wichita when his altercation with staff members occurred Sept. 24.
The letter cited what it called false and misleading statements made at an initial press conference by Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett and Sheriff Jeff Easter. It also cited Bennett's history of not charging law enforcement officers.
Activists calling themselves the Community Empowerment & Resilience Coalition wrote that “our community does not have any faith or trust in the independence” of Bennett. The letter was signed by Lofton's family and more than two dozen other community groups and people. It seeks a reply by Jan. 10.
'Heart has been ripped out': Mom of teen killed by LA cop in Burlington store prayed, held daughter as she died
Parents of Valentina Orellana-Peralta, 14, said she loved skateboarding and dreamed of becoming a U.S. citizen.Her daughter, Valentina Orellana-Peralta, 14, locked the doors to the dressing room. They hit the floor, hugged one another tightly, closed their eyes and prayed.
Video: Parents remember teen killed by LA police (Associated Press - Sports)
Dan Dillon, the spokesman for Bennett's office, said in an email Monday that there is no basis under Kansas law for the office of the district attorney to pursue a recusal. He said Bennett anticipates completing his review of the death within 15 days and the public will be notified at that time. No further comment will be made until that review is complete, he said.
The spokesman for the sheriff's office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
“Today’s unprecedented community action in Wichita and peaceful rally at the Sedgwick County Building consisted of a diverse coalition of community leaders and organizations committed to fighting for justice for Cedric,” said Andrew M. Stroth, a civil rights attorney who is representing the family.
Why DOJ is avoiding domestic terrorism sentences for Jan. 6 defendants
Some judges have debated whether the charges qualify as “crimes of terrorism,” but prosecutors have repeatedly pulled back by citing unspecified “facts and circumstances.” The so-called sentencing enhancement for terrorism crimes was created as a result of legislation Congress passed following the 1993 bombing in a parking garage at the World Trade Center. The provision initially applied only to crimes linked to international terrorism, but after the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995, Congress moved to expand the enhancement to cover terrorism inspired purely by domestic causes.
Bennett said last week that an autopsy’s finding that the death was a homicideThe designation only means that someone committed an intentional act that led to the death of another person. Whether criminal charges can be brought is a separate, legal determination.
Lofton's family and an attorney have had a private showing of the videos involving the law enforcement encounter with the teen, but they do not have copies of the video and are urging its public release. The video shows officers on top of the teen at various times, Stroth said.
“The injuries in the autopsy report are consistent with the video that shows the officers using excessive force,” Stroth said. “The officers took Cedric's breath away. Cedric Lofton could not breathe.”
Biden's speech didn't cover emerging critical threats to US elections .
The speech, while focused on voting rights, obscured the more significant threat to the country’s election integrity for the midterms and the 2024 presidential election: the idea that a future election loser could subvert the country’s electoral machinery to take power. Trump's crusade to overturn the 2020 election failed, but not wholly, for across the country, between Jan. 1 and Dec. 7, 2021, at least 19 states passed 34 laws restricting voting access. More than 440 bills with provisions that restrict voting access have been introduced in 49 states in Republican-led 2021 legislative sessions.