Ebenezer Baptist Church

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4 Confederate flags were found at an MLK historical site in Georgia 

Employees of Atlanta’s historically black Ebenezer Baptist Church arrived to a grim surprise Thursday morning: four Confederate battle flags placed around the grounds. The church sits within the city’s Matin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. Police are investigating the possibility it was a hate crime.

Maya Angelou dead at 86

NBC News: Award-winning author, poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou has died at age 86.

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Photo: Maya Angelou speaks on race relations at Congregation B’nai Israel and Ebenezer Baptist Church on January 16, 2014 in Boca Raton, Fla.(Jeff Daly/Invision/AP via NBCNews.com)

buzzfeed.com
BREAKING: Eric Holder Announces Plan To End Racial Profiling "Once And For All"

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced plans to limit racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies, a move long-awaited by civil rights advocates.

Addressing the state of race and policing relations, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that he plans to introduce new policies that will end racial profiling “once and for all.”

Speaking to a capacity crowd at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where the 1960s civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was a preacher, Holder said he’d lay out specific policy changes in the coming days, but acknowledged that the events in Ferguson, Missouri, had laid bare significant issues regarding policing and race relations.

“The issues raised in Missouri are not unique to that state or small city,” he said.

Tackling those issues would require systemic changes and a commitment at the federal, state and local levels to change how law enforcement interacts with the public.

“Our police officers cannot be, or be viewed as, an occupying force, disconnected to the communities they serve,” Holder said. “Bonds that have been broken must be restored; bonds that never existed must be created.”

Part of that effort, he added, would be “rigorous new standards and robust safeguards to help end racial profiling once and for all.”

The Bush administration outlawed racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies in 2003, but left the door open for national security cases. The Justice Department also did not limit officers from discriminating based on other factors, such as national origin, religion or sexual orientation, Time reported.

Holder also touched on the Obama administration’s support for the use of body cameras by local police by launching a $263-million, three-year effort to buy 50,000 body cameras for law enforcement.

The White House also planned to address “a lack of consistency” for how the military equipment is distributed to local police agencies, Holder said.

Local agencies would get streamlined standards for the type of military equipment the get and increased training for how to use it.

Ferguson police were criticized for their heavily armed response to protesters.

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Protesters interrupt U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder as speaks to members of the community during an interfaith service at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Dec. 1, 2014, in Atlanta. David Goldman/Associated Press

The attorney general’s comments came one week after a St. Louis County grand jury decided not to file charges against a white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown.

Despite the grand jury’s decision, Holder said that separate and independent Justice Department investigations into Brown’s shooting death, and the actions of the Ferguson police department, remained ongoing.

Meanwhile, the ripple effect of the jury’s decision, and the protest movement it sparked, continues to touch cities across the U.S.

Thousands of residents in cities across the U.S. have since mounted their own demonstrations, often using the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” as their anthem.

“The rifts that this tragedy exposed in Ferguson and elsewhere, must be addressed,” Holder said.

The ripple effects were also seen inside the church Monday night when a small group of demonstrators chanting “no justice, no peace” interrupted the attorney general’s speech. Holder made it clear he wasn’t upset at the demonstration, calling it “a genuine expression of concern and involvement.”

“So let me be clear: I ain’t mad at ya,” he said.

Ferguson-inspired demonstrations have showed no signs of slowing. On Monday, thousands of students at campuses across the national staged mass walkouts.

The night before, several St. Louis Rams players caused a stir after also raising their hands over their heads in the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” gesture during a home game against the Raiders.

Source: Jason Wells for Buzzfeed News

huffingtonpost.com
BREAKING: Eric Holder: Problems Exposed By Ferguson 'Threaten The Entire Nation'

WASHINGTON – The problems put on display after the death of Michael Brown in the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, in August “are truly national in scope and that threaten the entire nation,” Attorney General Eric Holder said i…

WASHINGTON – The problems put on display after the death of Michael Brown in the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, in August “are truly national in scope and that threaten the entire nation,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a speech on Monday.

Holder, speaking at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, said the nation needs to confront the broken relationship between many law enforcement agencies and the communities that they are supposed to serve.

“Broadly speaking, without mutual understanding between citizens – whose rights must be respected – and law enforcement officers – who make tremendous and often-unheralded personal sacrifices every day to preserve public safety – there can be no meaningful progress,” Holder said in prepared remarks. “Our police officers cannot be seen as an occupying force disconnected from the communities they serve. Bonds that have been broken must be restored. Bonds that never existed must now be created.”

Holder, who plans to resign as the nation’s top law enforcement official if the Senate confirms U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch as his replacement, visited Ferguson back in August. His Justice Department has launched an investigation into the practices of the Ferguson Police Department, in addition to a separate ongoing federal investigation into the shooting of Brown by former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.

In his speech on Monday, Holder said that the “overall system of justice must be strengthened and made more fair” to ensure faith in the justice system.

“Without that deserved faith, without that reasoned belief, there can be no justice. This is not an unreasonable desire – it is a fundamental American right enshrined in our founding documents,” Holder said.

Calling 18-year-old Brown’s death a “tragedy,” Holder said it “sparked a significant national conversation about the need to ensure confidence in the law enforcement and criminal justice processes” and exposed rifts that “must be addressed – by all Americans – in a constructive manner.”

Holder condemned the looting and destruction that took place around Ferguson last week, saying it was “deeply unfortunate that this vital conversation was interrupted, and this young man’s memory dishonored, by destruction and looting on the part of a relatively small criminal element.”

Holder said that “acts of mindless destruction are not only contrary to the rule of law and the aims of public safety; they threaten to stifle important debate, ‘adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars,’” referencing a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “They actively impede social progress by drowning out the legitimate voices of those attempting to make themselves heard. And they are not consistent with the wishes of Michael Brown’s father, who asked that his son be remembered peacefully.”

Holder called on “those who seek to lend their voices to important causes and discussions, and who seek to elevate these vital conversations, to do so in ways that respect the gravity of their subject matter.”

“These are the moments that remind us of the values that bind us together as a nation. These are the times – of great challenge and great consequence – that point the way forward in our ongoing pursuit of a more perfect union,” Holder continued. “And these are the lights that will help us beat back the encroaching darkness – and the stars that will guide us, together, out of this storm.”

Source: Ryan J. Reilly for The Huffington Post