It’s February 7th, 2017. United States Senators are debating whether to confirm President Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren argued against the confirming Sessions and quoted the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., saying Sessions is a “disgrace to the Justice Department.”
Warren then read a letter, from 1986, by Coretta Scott King, the widow of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. In the letter, King called out Sessions’ fitness for the office sighting Sessions “has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens in the district he now seeks to serve as a federal judge.” Sessions did not win confirmation for the judgeship but was later elected to the Senate.
However, in the middle of reading the letter Warren was silenced by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky who cited the arcane and rarely invoked Rule 19, which states that “no Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.” She continued to speak out despite before being forced to remain silent for the rest of the debate. (more…)
The other day a friend of mine had brought up a her attendance of Catholic confirmation classes at her church in a group text message with me and one other friend. The other friend had chimed in with her experience of having been confirmed in the 4th grade.
The first friend voiced her confusion about her statement. “You don’t get confirmed until 10th grade in high school.”
I agreed with the statement. I remembered how my friends who had went to Catholic school with me did their confirmation their first year of high school, and asked a coworker sitting next to me, who was also raised Catholic, about when confirmation usually happens.
“Yeah, it’s usually like the first year of high school,” I responded.
I have to admit, I gave my friend a hard time about it, not necessarily because I didn’t believe that she was confirmed by the Catholic Church, but because I found it strange that everyone was okay with having a sheltered child, who had not yet learned and experienced all that was out there, commit the rest of their lives to the only religion she knew about. (more…)
In April 2015, Baltimore police had arrested 25-year-old African-American, Freddie Gray. He had sustained injuries to his spine and larynx, fell into a coma on April 12, and despite multiple surgical attempts, he never regained consciousness. Gray died a week later in police custody. Six police officers have been suspended pending an investigation, but not much else has been done to prevent this sort of thing from happening again.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics latest available report, published in 2011, at least 4,813 people have died while in custody of local and state law enforcement between 2003 and 2009. Sixty-one percent of those deaths were classified as homicides.
There were an estimated 98 million arrests in the United States by local, state, and federal law enforcement from the years 2003 to 2009, according to FBI statistics. However fifteen states, not including the District of Columbia, did not consistently report deaths in police custody during that period—and Maryland, along with Georgia and Montana, didn’t submit any records at all.
What started as peaceful protests voicing their concern for their lives in Baltimore, gave way to civil unrest following the death of Freddie Gray. As of April 28, at least 250 people have been arrested, thousands of police and Maryland Army National Guard troops have been deployed, and a state of emergency was declared in the city limits of Baltimore. (more…)