Connect with us

U.S.

Mississippi ICE Raids Result in 680 Arrests

Published

on

  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 680 undocumented immigrants at seven food-processing facilities in Mississippi on Wednesday.
  • The raid is the largest one-day, single-state sweep in U.S. history.
  • Many children stayed at school late or came home to empty houses after the raids. Some children reportedly spent the night in a public gym, with neighbors and friends donating food for them.
  • On Thursday, ICE released five busloads of workers, with the terms of those releases still unknown.

ICE Arrests 680 Undocumented Workers

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted a raid across six Mississippi towns on Wednesday, resulting in the arrests of 680 undocumented workers in what is now the largest one-day, single-state raid in U.S. history.

The raids occurred at seven chicken-processing plants in towns near Jackson, as part of a yearlong investigation. 

ICE officials have not stated how many people they originally targeted and how many were “collateral” arrests, but the agency obtained both criminal and administrative warrants to conduct the raid.

During the raid, about 650 ICE agents surrounded the plants to prevent workers from escaping. Most of the workers arrested are Latino.

The detainees were then processed at a National Guard hanger near Jackson, where they formed seven lines ⁠— one to represent each of the raided plants.

ICE Acting Director Matthew Albence said the workers will move to immigration proceedings. He also said they may be released but only if they don’t have any criminal records or orders to be deported.

Albence also said the agency would work “swiftly” to remove anyone with deportation orders and some immigrants would face criminal charges.

Then on Thursday, five busloads of workers were released, though the terms of that release are still unclear.

Businesses Warned

U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst said the agency is “coming after” any business that violates federal criminal law. Part of that could include charges for tax evasion, wage fraud, and the hiring of undocumented workers.

Peco Farms and Koch Foods have since issued statements saying they are working with ICE. Both said they use E-Verify, a government-run program through the Department of Homeland Security, to hire employees who meet the legal requirements to work in the U.S.

Still, undocumented workers have been able to get around E-Verify by using the identities of legal residents or dead citizens. They have also used the social security numbers of their American-born children.

“While we are a nation of immigrants, more than that, we are first and foremost a nation of laws,” Hurst said in a press conference. “They have to come here legally or they shouldn’t come here at all.” 

Last week, the former owner of a meatpacking plant was sentenced to 18 months in prison after a raid at his facility in April 2018. He was found guilty of avoiding $1.3 million in taxes.

That raid resulted in the arrests of 86 undocumented workers.

The 2006 Swift raids remain the largest single-day roundup of undocumented workers in U.S. history, though those raids occurred across six states. Most of the 1,300 people detained in those raids were deported.

Separation of Families

Following yesterday’s raid, many children either came home to find a parent missing or were unable to leave school. 

Alex Love, a reporter with WJTV in Jackson, tweeted that some children were taken to a local gym for the night, with food and drinks being donated to them.

“I need my dad by me,” the 11-year-old daughter of an arrested worker tearfully said to the reporter. “My dad didn’t do nothing. He’s not a criminal.”

Albence defended the raid, saying that arrests in the criminal justice system lead to family separation. He said children might need to be relocated with other family members.

Despite the separation, some have met the raid with praise, while noting the stress it can cause children. 

Others have been more critical of the entire sweep. 

“Let’s be clear: ICE raids of this scale are not conducted for the purpose of immigration enforcement,” Texas Representative Joaquin Castro said in a statement. “They’re to strike fear in our communities in a time when Latinos are already living in terror.”

Legal Counsel

Claudia Valenzuela, an attorney with the American Immigration Council, said she fears workers will have a hard time obtaining legal counsel, in part because rural Mississippi lacks robust legal aid for immigrants.

She said that with an arrest of this size, finding counsel would even be hard for a city like New York or Chicago.

The ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center have both urged immigrants not to talk to ICE agents. They also warned people not to open doors without a warrant and demand to speak to a lawyer.

See what others are saying: (Clarion Ledger) (WJTV) (NBC)

Advertisements

U.S.

Judge in Massive Johnson & Johnson Opioid Case Miscalculates Payment by $107M

Published

on

  • An Oklahoma judge admitted he made a $107 million miscalculation on the $572 million Johnson & Johnson fine that the company was ordered to pay the state in August.
  • The ruling, citing deceptive practices in Johnson & Johnson’s opioid marketing, was the first time a judge held a pharmaceutical company responsible for the opioid crisis.
  • Johnson & Johnson is now instead expected to pay $465 million because the judge accidentally added three zeros to a provision that required it to help the state develop a program for treating babies born with conditions related to drug dependencies.
  • Johnson & Johnson has been working to lower or eradicate the fine and appealed the decision in September with the Oklahoma Supreme Court, calling the ruling an unprecedented interpretation of state law.

Judge Miscalculated Payment

An Oklahoma judge admitted to making a $107 million mistake on Tuesday, after having previously fined Johnson & Johnson $572 million for its role in worsening the opioid crisis.

On Aug. 26, Judge Thad Balkman concluded that Johnson & Johnson’s deceptive practices led to higher rates of addiction and overdose. The lawsuit was the first instance where a judge held a pharmaceutical company responsible for the opioid crisis.

Balkman met with both the state and Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday to discuss the company’s payment. Prior to the meeting, Johnson & Johnson attorneys submitted a filing that alleged a figure of $107,683,000 had been miscalculated.

“No evidence supports this higher amount, which appears simply to reflect a mistaken addition of three zeros to the calculation of the annual average,” the filing states, “yet the state’s proposed judgment fails to account for this discrepancy.”

The payment concerned a provision to help the state develop a program for treating babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome, a condition that could arise if babies are born with drug dependencies because their mothers were taking opioid while pregnant.

Balkman then agreed with Johnson & Johnson, realizing the payment should have been $107,683. This new correction would essentially lower the fine to $465 million, but Balkman hasn’t issued his final order, so that number could still change. 

“I acknowledge the computing error contained in my August 26th judgment, Balkman said. That will be the last time I use that calculator.”

The Lawsuit

Balkman handed down his decision after a seven-week trial stemming from a lawsuit by the state of Oklahoma.

While Johnson & Johnson is widely known for manufacturing products like shampoo and lotion, it also deals in pharmaceuticals. In fact, the company has a huge stake in manufacturing opioids, with many of the raw ingredients used in other companies’ opioid products coming from Johnson & Johnson.

During the trial, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter argued more than 4,500 people in the state died from opioid overdoses between 2007 and 2017.

The lawsuit was argued on the basis that Johnson & Johnson violated public nuisance laws, which generally pertain to property disputes but are broad and can be applied to health issues. Following Balkman’s ruling, many hailed the case as a landmark decision and predicted that it would set a precedent for future cases against other major pharmaceutical companies.

While Balkman originally ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million, Oklahoma had asked for $17.5 billion as part of a 30-year plan to cover a number of services—including treatment for victims, emergency care, law enforcement, social services, and other addiction-related needs

Balkman, however, said the state hadn’t provided “sufficient evidence”  for costs past the first year.

What’s Next for Johnson & Johnson?

Johnson & Johnson is continuing to fight to lower and even eradicate their fine. In September, the company filed an appeal to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, arguing that the ruling was an unprecedented interpretation of state law.

Until Johnson & Johnson knows if that appeal will be heard, however, it has focused its efforts on reducing its court-ordered payout to $355 million. That payment would reflect two settlements reached by both Teva Pharmaceuticals and Purdue Pharma who were also originally named in the same Oklahoma lawsuit. 

The push for a smaller fine also comes as Balkman decides whether the court will continue to monitor the opioid crisis in Oklahoma and whether he could potentially require Johnson & Johnson to shell out more money over the next 20 years.

“The evidence isn’t that one year is enough,” an attorney for the state argued. “We’ll take one year, but it’s going to take more than that.”

And all of this comes as another major opioid lawsuit began selecting its jury in Cleveland, Ohio on Wednesday.

See what others are saying: (CBS News) (KTUL) (CNN)

Advertisements
Continue Reading

U.S.

Fort Worth Officer Who Shot Woman In Her Home Arrested and Charged With Murder

Published

on

  • The officer who fatally shot Atatiana Jefferson in her home early Saturday resigned from the department before he could be fired Monday.
  • Shortly after, he was arrested and charged with murder.
  • He was released from jail on a $200,000 bond a few hours later. 
  • Fort Worth police officials said they presented a preliminary case to the FBI to review for possible civil rights violations.

Ex-Officer Charged With Murder

The former Fort Worth police officer who fatally shot Atatiana Jefferson while she was home playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew Saturday was arrested and charged with murder.

Aaron Dean was booked into the Tarrant County Correction Center Monday evening. He was released about three hours after his arrest after posting a $200,000 bond, according to county inmate records. Police declined to say whether Dean was arrested by the department or if he turned himself in. 

The murder charge is the latest development in a case that has sparked national outrage and reignited conversations about police accountability. Just hours before his arrest, Dean resigned from the department before he could be terminated. 

Members of the Fort Worth community and Jefferson’s family are glad to see action being taken against the former officer, after a long weekend of calling for justice. 

“The family of Atatiana Jefferson is relieved that Aaron Dean has been arrested & charged with murder,” Lee Merritt, an attorney for Jefferson’s family, said in a statement.

“A murder charge and an arrest is a good start — it’s more than we are used to seeing.”

However, like many others, Merritt is waiting to see how the case is prosecuted.  

“He did get what I wanted him to get, and this is only the start,”  Jefferson’s brother Adarius Carr told CNN. There’s no way this is enough. We know this is a good step in the direction where we want to go, but it’s definitely not the end.”

Department Explains Resignation

Dean, who had been commissioned as a licensed officer with the department since April 2018,  was served a written administrative complain on Sunday. He was also placed on detached duty and stripped of his badge and gun, Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus said at a news conference Monday when announcing the officer’s resignation.

“My intent was to meet with him today to terminate his employment with the Fort Worth Police Department. However, the officer tendered his resignation this morning before we met,” Chief Kraus explained.

Had he not resigned, Kraus said Dean would have been terminated for several policy violations, including the department’s use of force and de-escalation policies, as well as unprofessional conduct. Kraus said that Dean’s separation paperwork will still indicate that he was dishonorably discharged from employment with the department. 

“I get it,” Kraus said of the public’s outrage following the release of body camera footage from the shooting. The clip showed that Jefferson had been given no warning that the men who had crept into her backyard were police officers. When Dean spotted her through her bedroom window, he quickly shined a flashlight at her and shouted “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” then immediately fired the fatal shot at her. 

Nobody looked at that video and said there was any doubt that this officer acted inappropriately,” the chief said.

The chief also addressed backlash the department faced over the mention of a firearm police said they found in Jefferson’s room. In the released bodycam footage, police included stills of the firearm, without offering any other information about its relation to the incident.

“Law enforcement has not said that she wielded a weapon,” Attorney Lee Merritt said adding that Jefferson legally owned the weapon. “Also, it wouldn’t matter, because that’s her home.”

Jefferson’s attorney also noted that she moved near the bedroom window because she was concerned about a prowler or burglar who might have been outside. 

The weapon police found inside Jefferson’s home. Souce: Fort Worth Police

Kraus said he regretted that the department had released those images of the gun on the floor below the window in the bedroom after she was killed. He declined to say if she was holding it or if the officer saw it before he shot her, but he said that she had every right to have a gun in her bedroom. 

“We’re homeowners in the state of Texas,” he said. “I can’t imagine most of us — if we thought we had somebody outside our house that shouldn’t be and we had access to a firearm — that we wouldn’t act very similarly to how she acted.”

Kraus noted that the department had presented a preliminary case to the FBI to review for possible civil rights violations, adding, “None of this information can ease the pain of Atatiana’s family but I hope it shows the community that we take these incidents seriously.”

Death of Atatiana Jefferson 

Atatiana Jefferson had recently moved home to help care for her mother whose health was declining. She worked selling medial equipment and was studying to apply for medical school. On the day of her death, she stayed up with her nephew into the early hours of Saturday morning playing video games. 

After noticing that Jefferson’s front and side doors had been open for several hours, a concerned neighbor called a nonemergency line requesting a wellness check on the residents inside.  

Officers arrived around 2:30 a.m. but did not identify themselves as police when approaching the home. In fact, the neighbor who called authorities, James Smith, told local reporters that officers did not park in the driveway or in front of the home where Jefferson could see them but instead parked around the corner. 

The bodycam footage released Saturday showed officers peeking into a screen door and walking around the perimeter of the home into the backyard where the fatal shot was fired. 

Officers tried to provide Jefferson with medical assistance, but she died at the scene shortly after being shot. Her young nephew was in the room for the shooting and her death, according to authorities. 

The shooting has drawn comparisons to the 2018 killing of Botham Jean, a 26-year-old black man who had been watching T.V. and eating ice cream inside his apartment when he was shot and killed by former off-duty Dallas officer Amber Guyger. Less than two weeks before Jefferson’s murder, Guyger was convicted or murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison. 

While many in the community are hoping to see justice for Jefferson’s death, activists said this is the seventh local police shootings involving civilians, with six of them being fatal. Community members say the trauma they feel and their fear of the police department will be difficult to repair.

The neighbor who called for the wellness check himself has even expressed guilt over his decision. “I’m shaken. I’m mad. I’m upset. And I feel it’s partly my fault,” he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

In an interview with CNN, he added, “I feel guilty because had I not called the Fort Worth Police Department, my neighbor would still be alive today,”

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NBC News) (CNN) 

Advertisements
Continue Reading

U.S.

Fort Worth Officer Resigns After Killing Woman Inside Her Home

Published

on

  • A 28-year-old black woman in Texas was shot and killed inside her own home by police while her 8-year-old nephew was nearby. 
  • Police arrived after a concerned neighbor noticed the family’s doors were open late at night and called a non-emergency hotline asking for a wellness check.
  • Responding officers did not announce themselves when arriving at the home but instead walked around to the backyard, where one officer shot into a bedroom window after seeing someone on the other side.
  • The officer resigned Monday just before the department could terminate him.

Woman Shot Inside Her Home 

Just before she was fatally shot in her Fort Worth, Texas home Saturday, Atatiana K. Jefferson was playing video games in her bedroom with her 8-year-old nephew, a lawyer for her family said Sunday. 

At around 2 a.m. local time, the 28-year-old’s neighbor called a non-emergency hotline saying he was concerned about the residents inside the home. The caller, James Smith, explained that the front and side doors to the house had been open since about 10 p.m., which he said was unusual for them considering the time of night, so he wanted to make sure everything was okay.

Now Smith says he regrets making that call. “I feel guilty because had I not called the Fort Worth Police Department, my neighbor would still be alive today,” he told CNN Saturday.  

According to a statement released by the Forth Worth Police, officers arrived at the home around 2:30 a.m. to respond to the “open structure call.” After seeing an open door, they walked around the perimeter of the home.

When walking around the residence, the department says an officer saw a person inside standing near a window. “Perceiving a threat the officer drew his duty weapon and fired one shot striking the person inside the residence,” police said.

Jefferson was shot while standing in her bedroom. Officers entered the home to administer emergency aid, but she was eventually declared dead at the scene.

Bodycam Footage Released

The department released body camera footage of the shooting Saturday, which showed the officers walking around the home, looking into a screen door, and walking to the backyard. When moving towards a closed window of the first floor, one officer points a flashlight at it before drawing his weapon.

The officer yells, “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” before firing a shot less than a second later. Along with the body cam clip, police also released stills of a firearm that officers said they found at the residence, without offering any other information about its relation to the incident or if it was ever visible to officers.

In the footage, officers are never heard identifying themselves as police. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, records provided to the public don’t give any indication that dispatchers told officers the call was a wellness check. The paper also reported that a police call sheet from Saturday labeled the call as a “burglary,” though police called it an “open structure call” in their initial statement. 

Smith told reporters that when patrol cars arrived, they did not park in front of the home or in the driveway where Jefferson could have seen them. 

Reactions to Shooting

Jefferson’s death has left the community shaken and struggling to trust local authorities. According to the Star-Telegram, this is the seventh local police shooting involving a civilian since June 1. 

“The Fort Worth police murdered this woman. They murdered this woman in her own house,” said Rev. Michael Bell, a local pastor who joined a group of community leaders for a Saturday press conference. “And now, African Americans, we have no recourse. If we call the police, they will come and kill us. And we know that.”

Smith also told the Star-Telegram, “I’m shaken. I’m mad. I’m upset. And I feel it’s partly my fault.”

“I don’t know what went on in the house, but I know that she wasn’t a threat,” he added.

The shooting has drawn comparisons to the 2018 killing of Botham Jean, a 26-year-old black man who had been watching T.V. and eating ice cream inside his apartment when he was shot and killed by former off-duty Dallas officer Amber Guyger. Guyger was recently convicted of murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison 

Lee Merritt, the local civil rights attorney who represents Jean’s family, is now taking on the Jefferson family’s case. On Saturday, Merritt told reporters, “You didn’t hear the officer say ‘gun, gun, gun,’ you didn’t hear him — he didn’t have time to perceive a threat.”

“That’s murder” he added. Aside from criticizing the officers’ responding tactics, many were upset that police also mentioned Jefferson having a weapon in her home without more explanation. “Law enforcement has not said that she wielded a weapon,” Merritt said, adding that she owned a gun legally. “Also, it wouldn’t matter, because that’s her home.”

The weapon police found inside Jefferson’s home. Souce: Fort Worth Police

Merritt also said that Jefferson was proud to be the “cool auntie” to her siblings’ children and stayed up late into the night to play Halo on Xbox with her nephew. Merritt argued that when she went near the bedroom window, it was because she was concerned about a prowler or burglar who might have been outside. According to police, Jefferson’s nephew was still in the bedroom at the time she was killed. 

Fight for Justice

Jefferson’s relatives and friends in the community promised to fight and hold the department accountable for her death as the investigation continues. About 500 people gathered peacefully in front of her home Sunday chanting for justice and encouraging people to register to vote. 

Others called for the officer to be fired and prosecuted, however, they added that accountability will not erase the pain that the incident has caused.

“It’s another one of those situations where the people that are supposed to protect us are actually not here to protect us,” Amber Carr, Jefferson’s older sister, told NBC Dallas-Fort Worth.

“You want to see justice, but justice don’t bring my sister back,” Carr told reporters before breaking down into tears.

Officer Resigns

The department did not initially name the officer responsible for the death but described him as a white male who has been with the department since April 2018. He was placed on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation.

After a weekend of intense pressure, the officer, who has since been identified as Aaron Dean, resigned from the department Monday.

Interim Police Chief Ed-Kraus announced at a news conference that he had intended on firing the officer, but Dean tendered his resignation first. The news came just hours after Jefferson’s family demanded an outside investigation into the shooting and called for the officer’s arrest.

Jefferson, who went by Tay, graduated in 2014 from Xavier University in Louisiana with a degree in biology. She was working from home, selling pharmaceutical equipment, as she studied to apply to medical school and had moved in to help take care of her mother who had recently fallen sick. 

A GoFundMe for her family was created and has already raised its $150,000 goal to help fund funeral costs and other expenses associated with her death. 

See what others are saying: (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) (Vox) (The New York Times

Advertisements
Continue Reading