- San Francisco’s District Attorney announced he will expunge 9,362 marijuana convictions dating as far back as 1975.
- The DA’s office teamed up with a nonprofit called Code for America, which developed technology that helped identify cases that are eligible for expungement.
- The city took this proactive approach to clear cases themselves because they say the traditional process is expensive and tedious, making it both challenging and rare for eligible people to do so themselves.
Past Convictions to be Expunged
San Francisco officials announced Monday that they will dismiss 9,362 marijuana convictions dating back to 1975, making San Francisco the first city in the U.S. to clear all eligible marijuana convictions.
The announcement from San Francisco’s District Attorney, George Gascón, comes just over two years after California passed Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana in California for people 21 and older.
Prop. 64 was approved by voters in 2016, and also allows those convicted of marijuana possession to petition to have their convictions expunged.
It also allow people to petition to have marijuana-related crimes reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. The expungements also include marijuana convictions that are tied to other crimes.
Code for America
After Prop 64 passed, San Francisco became the first county to announce that it would clear old marijuana convictions.
For about a year, the San Francisco DA’s office went through old marijuana cases to determine which ones were eligible for dismissal and found about 1,200 cases to clear on their own.
However, that process proved to be time-consuming, which lead the DA to team up with a nonprofit called Code for America, a group that uses open-source technology to improve government efficiency.
Code for America used a computer algorithm it created called “Clear My Record” which sorts through marijuana convictions and determined which were eligible for expungement under Prop. 64.
According to a Medium article written by Code for America: “The Clear My Record technology can automatically and securely evaluate eligibility for convictions by reading and interpreting conviction data. It can evaluate eligibility for thousands of convictions in just a few minutes.”
The program also automatically fills out the required paperwork that can be turned in to the court for processing these cases.
People could request expungements themselves even before the DA and Code for America took on the project. However, before the city began to look for people who were eligible, only 23 people had actually petitioned the city to do something about their convictions because it is a confusing and tedious task.
Gascón said in a statement, “You have to hire an attorney. You have to petition the court. You have to come for a hearing,” continuing:
“It’s a very expensive and very cumbersome process. And the reality is that the majority of the people that were punished and were the ones that suffered in this war on marijuana, war on drugs nationally, were people that can ill afford to pay an attorney.”
Impact on People of Color & Low Income Communities
The DA’s office also noted that people who have marijuana convictions on their records often have trouble finding employment, noting that these people can face barriers when trying to get access to education, housing, loans, and public assistance.
Gascón also noted that there were racial disparities in marijuana arrests in the city.
A study done by ACLU in 2013 found that in San Francisco, African Americans were more than four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people.
In a press briefing, Gascón said: “Take San Francisco for instance, our African American population is under 5 percent. But if you look at our convictions for marijuana offenses, 33 percent of people we convicted were African American, 27 percent were Latino.”
Due to the push from these factors, the city decided to take a proactive approach to clear past convictions themselves to help people who they say, “n
Now that the DA has made the announcement, all that has to be done is for the courts to process the requests.
With this unprecedented move from San Francisco, many are wondering what implications this has for the rest of the country.
San Francisco’s actions have already prompted several other cities to follow their lead, and many believe that both the expungements and the technology used by Code for America will have a positive spillover effect.
Code for America intends on expanding it’s pilot program to other California counties, and has already set the goal of clearing 250,000 eligible convictions nationwide by 2019.
In California, other counties including Los Angeles are considering similar efforts. The Los Angeles County DA’s office estimates that there have been 40,000 felony marijuana convictions offenses since 1993. However, prosecutors have not said how many of those cases could be eligible for expungement.
The Code for America technology could also help a California with Assembly Bill 1793 which was signed into law last year. The bill mandates that the state build a list of all individuals eligible to have crimes expunged under Prop 64, with the end goal of having all past marijuana-related crimes reduced or cleared by 2020.
There are also other efforts happening outside of California.
In Missouri, lawmakers are considering a bill that would expunge convictions for medical marijuana patients, which is legal in the state.
New Jersey residents can also have their convictions expunged, but like in San Francisco, the process is reportedly challenging.
Additionally, in New York, the governor has proposed legalizing recreational marijuana use, and officials are exploring the possibly expunging or sealing conviction records.
Some law enforcement groups are not thrilled about the move to expunge convictions.
John Lovell, legislative counsel to the California Narcotic Officers’ Association, who was one of the leading voices against the legalization of marijuana in CA, told the Los Angeles Times: “To simply embark on an across-the-board expungement of 9,300 without looking at any of the surrounding factors on any of those cases strikes us as cavalier irresponsibility.”
In contrast, Gascón has said:
“This isn’t a political thing. This is about dignity. People pay their debt to society. People pay the consequences for something we no longer consider a crime. They should not be jumping through hoops for this. They should just get it.”
See what others are saying: (San Francisco Chronicle) (Los Angeles Times) (NPR)
Harvard Rescinds Parkland Student’s Admission Over Racist Remarks
- Harvard rescinded the admission of former Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Kyle Kashuv after it became aware of racist comments he made about two years ago.
- Kashuv posted a Twitter thread about the situation, prompting people on both sides of the political aisle to speak up.
- Some said Harvard made the right call, while others found the situation to be unfair.
- Harvard has rescinded applications over racist comments in the past and has not made a statement about their decision with Kashuv.
Kashuv Says Harvard Revoked Admission
Parkland survivor Kyle Kashuv claims that Harvard University revoked his admission after old racist comments he made surfaced online.
Back in May, comments Kashuv made about two years ago in a Google doc study guide and in a Skype chat appeared online and were reported on by the Huffington Post. The comments included the repeated use of the n-word, as well as anti-Semitic language.
Since the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which left 17 people dead, Kashuv has been an outspoken guns-rights and school safety activist. He has had meetings with President Donald Trump and has become a prominent conservative figure.
He stepped down from a leadership role in Turning Point USA, a conservative non-profit student organization, after his former high school classmates threatened to leak these racist comments. He announced his departure in May and said he was stepping down because he wanted to focus on passing gun legislation.
On Monday, Kashuv posted a Twitter thread addressing the comments, as well as Harvard’s decision to rescind his admission. He also re-issued an apology that he made in May when the comments picked up attention.
He then addressed the effects the incident has had on him since being picked up by the media. He also shared a letter from Harvard where the school asked for an explanation, but said that they have the right to withdraw an offer of admission.
He responded to the letter by apologizing for the comments and said he has grown since then. Kashuv said he is trying to be a better man to honor the friends he lost during the Parkland shooting. He also reached out to the schools Office of Diversity and Inclusion about his comments and about how to right his wrong.
He then goes on to say that Harvard decided to rescind his admission after receiving his letter of explanation, but he received a separate email from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
Kashuv then asked for a chance to speak in-person with Harvard, but the school declined.
9/ After receiving Harvard’s letter revoking my acceptance, I responded by asking for the opportunity to have an in-person meeting to make my case face to face and work towards any possible path of reconciliation.— Kyle Kashuv (@KyleKashuv) June 17, 2019
Harvard responded by declining my meeting request. pic.twitter.com/rdsGU7BhjD
Kashuv then addressed Harvard’s own past with previously employing slave owners, and argued that if they have grown, so can he. As of now, he also added that he does not know what his next steps will be as far as attending college next year.
Responses to the News
After posting this thread, Kashuv’s story made headlines and began trending on Twitter, prompting reactions from all sides of the political aise.
A Boston College professor said that since Harvard is a competitive school, his spot should be filled with someone who has not made these mistakes.
Adam Best, who hosts a podcast called The Left said that the right should not be reacting so heavily to this if they did not react to the shooting that so heavily impacted Kashuv’s life.
Comments that controversial right-wing figure Laura Loomer made back in May came up. She allegedly advocated for Kyle to be removed from Harvard.
On the other side, NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch believed this was a political attack from Harvard.
Conservative teen activist CJ Pearson said he was able to forgive Kashuv’s words.
Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro said that Harvard’s choice sets up an impossible standard.
Daughter of the late Senator John McCain, Meghan, spoke on the View saying that she fell down the middle on this issue. She said that while she thinks that some of Harvard’s decision was related to internet mob culture attacking Kashuv for his pro-gun views, she also does not think that his actions were acceptable.
“I had a really hard time coming up with how I feel because I really don’t think it’s too much to ask to not say the N-word from young people,” she said.
This is not the first time Harvard has rescinded the admission of a student based on racist remarks. In 2017, the school revoked the acceptance of ten students over comments they made in a Facebook group for students accepted into the school. Those comments included jokes about race, religion, and sexual violence, as well as racial and anti-Semitic slurs.
Right now, Harvard has not made a comment about Kashuv’s admission.
See what others are saying: (Vox) (Fox News) (Boston Globe)
Alex Jones Accused of Sending Child Porn to Lawyers of Sandy Hook Victims
- Attorneys for the families of Sandy Hook victims who filed a defamation lawsuit against Alex Jones said they were given emails from an Infowars account that contained child pornography.
- During a segment of his show on Friday, Jones said that he had been set up by the families’ lawyers.
- The attorneys, in turn, accused Jones of threatening one of the lawyers representing the families and distorting what actually happened.
- Since April 2018, Jones has been involved in three separate defamation cases filed by the families of Sandy Hook victims over his efforts to spread the conspiracy theory that the 2012 elementary school shooting never happened.
Sandy Hook Lawsuits Against Alex Jones
Lawyers representing the families of Sandy Hook victims in a defamation lawsuit against far-right commentator Alex Jones said that they found child pornography in emails from an account for Jones’ show Infowars that had been turned over to them by his legal team.
Jones has famously supported the conspiracy theory that the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School never happened, even going as far as to say that “no one died” in Sandy Hook.
In April 2018, two families whose children were murdered in the Sandy Hook shooting filed two separate defamation suits against Jones. The next month, six other families and an FBI agent who responded to the shooting filed a third defamation suit.
All three of the lawsuits say that Jones’ efforts to spread conspiracy theories about the shooting had lead to the families of the victims being harassed, stalked, and threatened.
In January 2019, a judge overseeing one of the cases ruled that Jones had to turn over Infowars’ financial documents as well as thousands of emails. The next month, the same judge decided that Jones would be required to make a sworn deposition.
Jones gave a three-hour long deposition in March, where he admitted the deaths were real, and said, “I, myself, have almost had like a form of psychosis back in the past where I basically thought everything was staged, even though I’m now learning a lot of times things aren’t staged.”
Lawyers Find Child Porn in Infowars Emails
In court documents filed Monday, the lawyers representing the Sandy Hook families said that when their legal team went through the Infowars emails, they found that the email metadata contained “numerous images of illegal child pornography.”
According to the legal documents, after finding the images, the legal team “immediately contacted the FBI.”
“The FBI directed counsel to give control of the entire document production to the FBI, which was done,” the lawyers wrote. “The FBI advised counsel that its review located numerous additional illegal images, which had apparently been sent to Infowars email addresses.”
The attorney’s also added that if Jones’ legal team “had engaged in even minimal due diligence and actually reviewed the materials before production, they would have found the images themselves,” continuing, “Because the Jones Defendants did not do that, they transmitted images to the plaintiffs that if they were knowingly possessed is a serious federal crime.”
Jones Responds in Show
The court documents said that the plaintiff’s legal team told Jones’ lawyer, Norm Pattis, about finding the child pornography. Pattis then told Jones, who talked about it on The Alex Jones Show on Friday.
“The FBI looked at and said we’re the victim, it was hidden in Sandy Hook emails threatening us, that was child porn,” Jones said. “So it’s on the record we were sent child porn we’re not involved in child porn.”
However, Jones appeared to contradict that statement shortly after by claiming that the emails were planted by the families lawyers. “You’re trying to set me up with child porn, I’m gunna get your ass,” Jones said, after firing off a series of expletives
A little later, Jones specifically named one of the attorneys that represents the families, Chris Mattei. Jones showed a picture of Mattei’s face, then slammed his fist on the photo. “What a good American, what a good boy,” Jones said mockingly. “I’m gonna kill…” he yelled, then trailed off.
Plaintiffs Accuse Jones of Threatening Mattei
In the same court document from Monday, the attorneys for the Sandy Hook families accused Jones of threatening Mattei and his firm.
“Alex Jones broadcast two segments of The Alex Jones Show identifying Attorney Chris Mattei by name and showing a picture of him, falsely claiming that Attorney Mattei tried to frame Jones by planting child pornography in discovery materials produced by Jones, distorting what actually occurred in the discovery process in this case,” the lawyers wrote.
“Here, threats against counsel have been made on air to a very large audience,” they added.
Pattis reportedly responded in a statement claiming that Jones did not threaten Mattei, and said Jones apologized for the statements he made on his show the next day.
Also during his show on Saturday, Jones said: “I’m not saying that the lawyers for the Sandy Hook families set me up or did this.”
Editor’s Note: At Rogue Rocket, we make it a point to not include the names and pictures of mass murders or suspected mass murderers who may have been seeking attention or infamy. Therefore, we will not be linking to other sources, as they may contain these details.
Phoenix Mayor Apologizes After Police Pull Gun on Family in Shoplifting Confrontation
- The mayor and police chief of Phoenix are apologizing after newly released video shows officers using excessive force against a family whose daughter stole a doll from a dollar store in May.
- The footage shows officers yelling orders at the parents and pointing a gun at the family’s car while threatening to shoot.
- The family’s attorney is accusing the officers of battery, unlawful imprisonment, false arrest, infliction of emotional distress and violation of the family’s civil rights, and says the family is willing to settle the case for $10 million.
The mayor of Phoenix apologized on Saturday after footage emerged showing police officers drawing their weapons on a couple whose 4-year-old had stolen a doll from a local dollar store.
The incident happened at the end of last month when Dravon Ames and his pregnant fiancee, Iesha Harper, took a trip to a Family Dollar store with their two young daughters. According to the couple, they were unaware that their 4-year-old had at some point taken a doll from the store with her back to their car.
Police say they were tipped off about an alleged shoplifting incident by a store employee. Police then found the couple about a mile away at the apartment complex of their babysitter.
What followed as a heated standoff that was captured in now-viral cell phone footage. Video shows the officers shouting profanities at the parents. Officers can be heard telling the couple to put their hands up. “You’re gonna get fucking shot. Get your f*cking hands up.” one officer said.
While one officer points a gun at her, Harper says the car door was malfunctioning, making it difficult for her to exit the car. The couple’s 4-year-old daughter eventually exits from the back seat. Her mother follows, with her 1-year-old in one arm. An officer yells at her to hand the child over and grabs at the child.
A police incident report says the officers feared the mother was “hiding something” or was reaching for a weapon.
The parents have now filed a notice of claim over the incident. Thomas Horne, the lawyer representing the couple, said the officers committed battery, unlawful imprisonment, false arrest, infliction of emotional distress and violated of the family’s civil rights. In a letter sent to the city last week, he said the family is willing to settle the case for $10 million.
The claim says that officer’s injured the 1-year-old child by pulling on one of her arms when Harper refused to follow an officer’s order to hand over the child.
The filing also claims Ames was thrown against a car and kicked so hard that he collapsed. Then an officer “kept his knee between the father’s legs. He punched the father very hard in the back for no reason,” Horne said.
The claim adds that after Haper handed over her baby to a bystander, the officers placed her and her partner under arrest and said: “I could have shot you in front of your f*cking kids.”
The couple’s attorney said the actions were “traumatic and utterly unjustified.”
On Facebook, authorities said Ames admitted to stealing a pack of underwear and throwing it out the window of the car. He also allegedly said he was driving with a suspended license. But Horne says the couple denies telling officers that Ames had stolen underwear.
Neither side can even agree on the day the incident took place. The family’s claim said the incident happened on\ May 29, but police officers said it happened May 27. Police also said they were only made aware of the video on June 11.
The doll was returned to Family Dollar, according to officials. No charges were issues over the shoplifting, however, authorities issued Ames a traffic ticket for driving on a suspended license and impounded his car.
“I do want you to know that I expect our employees to maintain their professionalism and proper training at all times,” she added.
Williams also asked that the officers be taken off the street and placed on desk duty.
Mayor Speaks Out
Mayor Kate Gallego said she was “sick” over what she had seen in the video, which has since picked up national attention. “It was completely inappropriate and clearly unprofessional,” she said.
“There is no situation in which this behavior is ever close to acceptable. As a mother myself, seeing these children placed in such a terrifying situation is beyond upsetting.”
Mayor Gallego has called for a community meeting on June 18, where the police chief is expected to address the public and answer their questions. She also said that in response to the incident, the city will be speeding up its implementation of body-worn cameras across the entire police department.
Now Jay-Z’s Roc Nation has also offered the family support. Team ROC spokesman Didier Morais said Sunday that the group has offered legal and emotional backing to the family.
“Team ROC has reached out to the family to provide legal support, call for termination of the police officers and ‘ensure the well-being of the children,’”AZ Central reported.
The family’s current lawyer said that if the city doesn’t respond to the claim within 60 days, he can file a lawsuit.