Showing posts with label Cops Gone Wild. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cops Gone Wild. Show all posts

July 1, 2020

Who Makes Millions on Police Brutality? Wall Street


More than 10,000 protesters across the U.S. have been arrested in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police. Nearly 20 people have died, and many more have suffered permanent injuries. As those numbers rise, so will the lawsuits — and the expensive settlements.

For example, New York City issued more than $237 million for NYPD payouts on legal settlements and judgements in 2018 alone. 
When faced with big legal bills or settlements, cities have lots of ways to come up with cash. Some have dedicated funds, some have insurance policies. Others finance their legal obligations by selling bonds, just as they would to raise money for infrastructure or public parks. And that’s where Wall Street makes bank, with next to no risk.
Big banks compete to underwrite — or act as the middle men — on these “general obligation bonds” because they pay out millions in fees. Then, they sell the bonds to high-net-worth individuals and hedge funds, which collect interest as high as 7%. These so-called “police brutality bonds,” as they're colloquially known, “quite literally allow banks and wealthy investors to profit from police violence,” according to a 2018 report from the American Center on Race and the Economy.

The bonds are also backed by the “full faith and credit” of the issuing municipality, which means the city can do just about anything to service that debt — including raising taxes. Since cities rarely default, the bonds are nearly risk-free for investors. And although taxpayers normally foot the bill for police settlements, the added interest on the bonds can nearly double the costs.
It’s a transfer of wealth from Main Street to Wall Street, and city officials are making it happen with almost no oversight from taxpayers.

“It feels intentional. They’re choosing to take money from us, our schools, our public housing, and give it to Wall Street.”

“It feels intentional. They’re choosing to take money from us, our schools, our public housing, and give it to Wall Street,” said Damon Wiliams, a 27-year-old South Side Chicago resident who was arrested during a protest in Hyde Park earlier this month. Williams, alongside other activists and the Cook County public defender’s office, are now suing the city for denying arrestees access to phone calls and their attorneys.

“Meanwhile, there’s a lawless, militarized force being used to surveil Black people,” Williams said. Between 2008 and 2017, Chicago sold over $700 million in “police brutality bonds,” more than any other city included in the American Center on Race and the Economy’s report. Over that period, investors reportedly collected $1 billion in interest — and taxpayers spent about twice that much servicing the debt.
And then there are the underwriting fees, or the commissions banks get for selling the bonds on behalf of the city. But the payments aren’t spread out over time like the interest. Banks take their cuts of the proceeds even before the deals are done.
In 2017, Goldman Sachs pocketed $1.8 million as the lead underwriter, or book-runner, on Chicago’s $275 million bond sale. Three years prior, Wells Fargo collected $1.72 million in fees on the city’s $450 million GO bond sale.
“It’s generally easy for GO [general obligation] issuers to find someone willing to underwrite their bonds; the underwriting process is very competitive with many investment banks vying for the business,” said R&C Investment Advisors managing director Roberto Roffo.
With cities across the country facing 20% budget shortfalls due to the pandemic, they’ll also likely need these bonds more than ever. In fact, it’s cities like Chicago — which has a near junk credit rating — that will need access to the credit market the most. And they’ll pay higher yields to do it, which makes a sweet deal for investors.

“Defaults are rare in the muni market and even rarer for general governments, which include GO bonds,” wrote Cooper Howard, Charles Schwab’s director of fixed income and income planning. “Although state and local governments face headwinds, such as a potential slowdown in the economy and rising pension burdens, we think defaults among GOs will continue to be rare.”

Right now, the office of Chicago’s comptroller told VICE News that “no bond borrowing is planned, but all options are on the table.”

Is it shady? Yes. Illegal? No.

In the first four months of 2020, Chicago had already paid out $17 million to victims of police violence, according to the city’s expenditure report. Of that, $10 million will go to Tarance Etheredge, who was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot in the back by Chicago police in 2012.

The settlements may be public information, but if a taxpayer or investor wanted to know whether a bond was used to pay for one, it’s not as easy. Every municipality issues and reports their debt for settlements and judgements differently, and some are more transparent than others. 
New York, for example, has reams of publicly available information on NYPD settlements, and the office of the city's comptroller told VICE News that they don't use bonds to pay those off. Los Angeles uses the term “judgment obligation bond,” and lets the public know the money is going to pay off lawsuits.
In Chicago, curious citizens need to look at the official GO bond statement, flip to the “sources and uses of funds” section buried in the prospectus, and they still won’t find any mention of specific lawsuits. Is it shady? Yes. Illegal? No.
Chicago last issued one of these bonds in 2017, for $275 million, $225 million of which was earmarked for settlements and judgements. The interest rate on that bond was over 7%. To put that in perspective, interest rates in the U.S. Treasury market are about 1%, and interest rates on New York City’s municipal bonds are about 3%.
That means an investor who bought $10 million of Chicago’s 2017 general obligation bonds would collect almost $8.5 million in interest over the bond’s lifetime. Chicago’s taxpayers, on the other hand, will be paying off that interest until the bond matures in 2029.

“Nothing about Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s politics makes me optimistic about the future,” said Williams, who’s considering suing the city over his treatment and others at the protest. I am, however, optimistic about the grassroots political effort from below that will put pressure on her.”

June 26, 2020

Justice for Elijah After All~ Choke hold Victim, Not a Criminal~ Only The Cops That Killed Him

                     Elijah McClain Case Sparks New Interest Amid National Protests ...

 There may be Justice For Elijah after all.

Ten months after Elijah McClain died after police placed him in a chokehold hold during an attempted arrest, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is opening an independent investigation into the death of the 23-year-old unarmed Black man in the city of Aurora.
Polis made the announcement on Twitter Thursday, following weeks of nationwide outcry scrutinizing the initial investigation. More than 2.6 million people signed a petition on demanding that the three officers, Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt, and Randy Roedema, be taken off duty and that a second, more thorough investigation be held.  
“I am hearing from many Coloradans who have expressed concerns with the investigation of Elijah McClain’s death,” the Governor tweeted Wednesday afternoon. “As a result, I have instructed my legal council to examine what the state can do and we are assessing next steps.” 
“Public confidence in our law enforcement process is incredibly important now more than ever,” he continued. A fair and objective process free from real or perceived bias for investigating officer-involved killings is critical.”
All three officers involved in the arrest that killed McClain were placed on administrative leave following the incident in August 2019. Three months later, the local district attorney Dave Young announced that the officers and paramedics who failed to save him after he went into cardiac arrest on his way to the hospital, would not face criminal charges. As of the investigation's announcement, the officers remain on the force.
On August 24, 2019, three white officers confronted McClain after receiving a 911 call about a suspicious man walking down the street wearing a ski mask and waving his arms. Police began to subdue McClain, who was unarmed when he verbally resisted the confrontation and continued to go on his way.
McClain fainted at least once after one of the officers placed him in a carotid hold. Body camera footage of the arrest later showed McClain pleading with officers to reconsider their actions and let him go home peacefully. “I was just going home,” McClain can be heard saying. “I’m just different, I’m just different, that’s all, that’s all I was doing. I’m so sorry.”
When officers called paramedics in to help subdue McClain, they gave him a dose of the drug ketamine, a sedative often used to induce a trance-like stance. Soon afterward, he went into cardiac arrest. He was declared brain-dead three days later and died on Aug. 30.
McClain’s tragic death is one of many fatal police incidents to receive national attention months after local authorities have failed to bring sound, swift, and conclusive ends to their investigations.
Last month, the February slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery received nationwide scrutiny following the release of video footage of the shooting, which eventually led to the arrest and recent indictment of the father and son who murdered Arbery.
An investigation into the March shooting of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor in Louisville was in limbo until millions of people online began to pick apart the case. Since then, least one of the officers was fired from the job.
Incidents that have been ignored for even longer, like the 2018 police shooting of Marcus-David Peters in Richmond, Virginia, have also come to light in recent weeks when families and activists called for police to change the way they carry out arrests. 

June 23, 2020

NYC Police Put Man on Choke Hold As He Passed Out--Fellow Officer Pulls Cop Hot Head Off

A New York City police officer was suspended without pay Sunday after he was recorded putting his arm around a man's neck in what the police commissioner called an "apparent chokehold." The department's action to suspend the officer was stunning in its swiftness, occurring just hours after the morning confrontation on a beach boardwalk in the Rockaway section of Queens.

A video shot by one of the men involved showed a group of officers tackling a black man, with one of them putting his arm around his neck as he lay face-down on the boardwalk.

In the video, someone yells, "Stop choking him, bro!" The officer relaxes his grip after a fellow officer taps him on the back and pulls on his shirt - a collegial move that received praise from the mayor.

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"The officer who intervened to stop his colleague did exactly the right thing," Bill de Blasio tweeted Sunday night. "I commend him. That is what we need to see from all our officers."

Mayor Bill de Blasio
 And the officer who intervened to stop his colleague did exactly the right thing. I commend him. That is what we need to see from all our officers.

9:43 PM - Jun 21, 2020
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It was unclear whether the man who was tackled suffered more than superficial injuries. He stood under his own power after he got off the ground and refused to let medics examine him after the incident.

"Accountability in policing is essential. After a swift investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau, a police officer involved in a disturbing apparent chokehold incident in Queens has been suspended without pay," Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a statement Sunday evening. "While a full investigation is still underway, there is no question in my mind that this immediate action is necessary." 

Police released body camera video showing that for at least 11 minutes before the arrest, three men were pacing back and forth, sometimes shouting at the officers and hurling racial insults at them, while the officers implored them to walk away and go enjoy the beach.

Then at one point, the officers rushed one of the men who was acting most aggressively, and who had been taunting them by saying, "You scared?" The ensuing struggle lasted about 30 seconds.

In the aftermath, one officer's body camera video captured him explaining the situation to a woman who turned up at the scene and said she was a relative of the man who had been handcuffed, and that he was mentally ill.

"They were all talking all types of crazy stuff to us and we did nothing," he said. "What changed everything is when he grabbed something and squared up and was going to hit my officer."

CBS New York reports the man has been identified by his attorney, Lori Zeno, as Ricky Bellevue. Zeno said it is clear the officer was performing a chokehold.

"He's an idiot. That's my reaction. He's an idiot. And he's a bad cop and he needs to go. He needs to get fired. And not only fired, he needs to get prosecuted," Zeno said.

Bellevue's attorney said he was taken to St. John's Hospital, where he was treated for a laceration on his head and released. She also said he is facing two misdemeanors, for resisting arrest and obstruction of governmental justice, and a violation for disorderly conduct. 

The NYPD has long banned chokeholds. Their use has been especially fraught since the 2014 death of Eric Garner after an officer put him in a chokehold while trying to arrest him.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed into law a sweeping package of police accountability measures including a ban on chokeholds following protests over George Floyd's killing.

De Blasio said in his tweet that the police department's discipline was the fastest he's ever seen.

"This is how it needs to be," he said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio
 Today was the fastest I have EVER seen the NYPD act to discipline an officer. Within hours:

Immediate suspension

Body camera footage released

Discipline process initiated

This is how it needs to be. …
Commissioner Shea

Accountability in policing is essential. After a swift investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau, a police officer involved in a disturbing apparent chokehold incident in Queens has been suspended without pay. …
9:42 PM - Jun 21, 2020
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June 20, 2020

Toronto Cop Has Been Paid $1Million While on Suspension

An imminent legal decision could serve as another reminder that in one Canadian province, cops who commit crimes and violate procedures earn healthy paychecks long after they’ve been busted.
One suspended Toronto police officer has made more than a million dollars while serving a suspension—now in its 13th year. 
Toronto Police Constable Ioan-Florin Floria has been suspended with pay since 2007, when he was arrested and charged with several crimes. Police said Floria “was closely associated with an Eastern European criminal organization,” and had “outlined methods of avoiding police detection.” Floria’s friends were arrested in a parallel drug bust. 
A workplace tribunal fired Floria in 2018, but he appealed to the Ontario Civilian Police Commission, maintaining his spot on the force—and his salary. 
“The victim is me and [the] Toronto Police Service and the public,” Floria said in a 2017 phone interview, adding that his salary on suspension totalled “$800,000 minimum.” He earned over $100,000 every year since then—including $109,000 in 2019, according to provincial disclosures, putting him easily over a million dollars. 
The commission is expected to rule on Floria’s appeal next month. The ruling will arrive after worldwide protests against police brutality and other misconduct, and significant pressure to defund police forces. 
Floria is one of 34 Toronto officers currently suspended with pay, according to a list released to VICE News this week. Ontario law, which allows for unpaid suspensions only in rare circumstances, is a longstanding source of embarrassment for police chiefs, as many suspended officers earn six-figure salaries—the National Post reported in 2015 that “at least 80” suspended Ontario cops were “costing taxpayers a minimum of $13,635.59 per day.”
New legislation in Ontario provides modest additions to police chiefs’ powers to suspend officers without pay. An officer could be suspended without pay if they are “charged with a serious offence…under a law of Canada,” among other criteria. But the province has yet to define what constitutes a serious offence, a spokesperson said, and police services continue to follow the old legislation. 
Police believed that Floria had covered up a kidnapping after a marijuana grower, who he knew socially, told him in 2005 that he had been abducted. The grower’s boss in the drug trade paid a purported $200,000 for his release. Floria pretended to investigate as a way of providing cover for his friends, who allegedly were responsible, a jury heard during the criminal trial. 
A jury acquitted Floria of all charges in 2012. A workplace discipline hearing followed, with witness testimony only beginning in 2016. 
Toronto police prosecutors focused on Floria’s failure to fulfill his duties as a police officer after learning of the marijuana grower’s kidnapping and another abduction. Floria had already said at his criminal trial that failing to write a report on the marijuana grower’s claims was “the biggest mistake of my life.” He also said he investigated, and concluded there had been no kidnapping.
The workplace hearing moved slowly. The marijuana grower, who testified via video link and through an interpreter, unravelled and gave sometimes-bizarre answers.
“God is big, and he sees all these things,” he said in the midst of a gruelling cross-examination. 
In an appeal statement, defence lawyer Lawrence Gridin criticized the prosecution for moving slowly during the discipline process, even when dealing with records that should have been familiar. He also criticized the tribunal’s handling of the testimony of the marijuana grower, who has admitted to lying to police. Floria wants three of his four convictions overturned, but is not challenging one that did not come with a dismissal penalty . 
Floria’s legal battles may not end with the ruling, which could be appealed to the province’s Divisional Court. 
Floria recently asked this reporter not to contact him again, but said in 2017 he was ready for a long legal battle.
“I’m going all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada,” he said.
Follow Stephen Spencer Davis on Twitter.

June 19, 2020

Do people in Canada Trust The Police? They Speak Out Now, The Good The Bad and The Ugly

The Toronto Star reported last year that punishments for drinking and driving at the TPS were more lenient than those of other area police forces. A 2006 document from the Ontario Provincial Police noted that as the OPP warned officers of demotion for"alcohol-related driving allegations," the force's Toronto counterparts opted for"penalties ranging from six days off to twelve days off."
The prosecutor in the Egeli case submitted a 1986 document from a provincial policing commission, which noted that the Toronto police had been"left behind" when it came to penalties for impaired driving. 
This long-standing disparity in penalties could help lawyers defend officers accused of drunk driving, according to OPP Insp. Charles Young.At hearings, where prosecution and defence submit past disciplinary decisions to support their arguments, Young said lawyers representing OPPofficers sometimes provide only Toronto cases.

June 18, 2020

Have you Been Mistreated By People Quoting you Law That Does Not Exists?{ 1-6 mi.Vid}

I just want you to see how you feel watching this video taken live by people that stay within the law and expect that cops and other governemnt officials to do the same but that does not happens a lot of the times. It's very scary to have a robber get you in a corner at night as you left after having something to eat and as you walk to your car you encounter a thug who pulls a gun on you. Steals all the money you have on you. You give it to him to try to keep your life or at least not get a hole somewhere in your body (Like I did, it happened to me)Worse than that is a governemnt paid official whose salary you pay to do the same thing, only difference, he carries a badge but everything else is the same.

I just picked this video because there are more than one incident taken live with just a small cam.
I feel real upset when people in any state think that because someone puts on a uniform and carries a legal gun can not break your rights or the constitution, they are good becue of the studd they carry....which is wrong. Everyone has to abide by the same law. Not a law for the cop or official and a law for you. The clerk in a government office or the cop trying to make money for his dept pulls you over and violates all of your rights because there was legal reason for the stop. If you are lucky you will walk out with just a citation. What is that different from the robbery I mentioned? If you break the law no one should put you on your knees and insult you and find out your address and all personal information because he/she says you froke a traffic law which in every state I know of are not felonies nor misdemenors. You will be shocked you don't even need to identify yourself to a cop unless you have clearly broken the law. If its a traffic stop, they can give you a citation and send you on your merry way. The problem is that if you follow the law you might be arrested and abused and then when you go to the judge and a jsury, who are they going to believe? The nice officer or the dirty you. Be save. We need law enforcement but differently that is been done now. Law enfocemnt for the enforcer and citizen and then with the outmost respect.

To finish this posting I will leave you with a name: Officer Teansing in Cincinnati. One month after becoming a traffic officer he pulled over two black men and wanted to get personal information from the passenger. These two men were graduate from Cincinnati in law. Not lawyers but they were way rounded in the law.  He wanted these two men to step out of thir car. Would not tell them what crime they commited but told them they were detained and could leav untilt hey comply. They ask for the supervisor which showed up and send these two black men in their way.

A couple of years latter he killed a black motorist, He shot him twice on the head, one hole was by the right ear, the other was ont he other side.. He was charge with murder. He was found guilty within one hour from the jury but then there was a misstrial and the appeals court orderr another trial which terminated in a hung jury. He was tried one more time and the jury again could not convict or let him go so there was a mistrial.

At the end of these dram and I don't think this is over, in 2014(?) the state decided not to bring Teansing into trial again, so charges were dropped with the UNION paying off the survivors and...Teansing. The family of the black man Teansing killed was given 4.8 million, He had 13 children (that included over a million dollars in attorneys fees). Teansing the cop that went to trial 3 times for killing an unarmed motorist being convicted once, and having two mistrials was paid by the union $344,000. (Attorenys fees and back salary). Nice union!

I wish someone could explain to me how this is fair? There are are a lot of information about Teansing and invite you to watch the trials or read the information if not I hope this posting goes to dispell the notion there is justice about black and brown people from the cops or the system. If it doesnt happen to you because you might be white, you would not know these events and there is so much more.

If we could just put a defendant(no matter the color of the skin) in an equal footing with the accuser, be a cop or the President of the nation that alone which has never been done, that alone will be an improvement.

Adam Gonzalez

June 16, 2020

Just Like George Floyd Was Killed This Mom's 19 Y.O. Son Was Instead Shot by Cops 8x

Hmong protester supporting BLM

Youa Vang Lee was at her home in Minneapolis when her son showed her the video of George Floyd dying under a police officer's knee. Lee, a 59-year-old Laotian immigrant who assembles medical supplies at a factory, heard Floyd cry out for his mother. It triggered a deep and familiar pain.
"Fong was probably feeling the same way, too," she said in Hmong, her eyes filling with tears. "He was probably asking for me, too." 
In 2006, Lee's 19-year-old son Fong - who was born in a refugee camp in Thailand - was shot eight times by Minneapolis police officer Jason Andersen. The officer remains on the force to this day, a fact that the Lees were not aware of until told by the BBC. The officer was terminated twice, but has apparently since been rehired. 
Although security footage showed Lee was running away at the time, Andersen claimed the teenager had a gun. A grand jury declined to indict him and the police department ruled the shooting justified. The family sued in civil court claiming excessive force and brought evidence the gun found beside Fong's body was planted. An all-white jury found against them. 

Fong LeeImage copyrightYOUA VANG LEE
Image captionFong Lee

Youa hadn't spoken publicly about her son in over a decade, not since the family came to the end of their legal road with nothing to show for it. But after Lee saw Floyd's death, she began asking if anyone knew of marches she could attend. 
"I have to be there," she said.

Although no one directly discouraged her, some members of her community questioned the decision. The Twin Cities, as Minneapolis and St Paul are known, are home to the largest urban population of Hmong in the US, many of whom came to the area as refugees in the 1980s and 90s. 
The Hmong are an ethnic group from South-East Asia, with their own language, mainly drawn from southern China, Vietnam and Laos.
Within that community, there has been heated debate about how to respond to the Black Lives Matter and Justice for George Floyd movements, which are demanding systemic change to policing.

Graffiti in Minneapolis
Image captionA show of support for Black Lives Matter

For Youa Lee, however, there was no debate. She wanted to get involved for one reason - when Fong died in 2006, the first people to show up in support of her family came from the black activist community. 
"They were the loudest voices for us," recalled Shoua Lee, Fong's older sister. "Even before we asked for help from other communities, they had come to us and offered their help."

Short presentational grey line

Although four officers have been charged with the murder of George Floyd on 25 May, the viral video of the incident only captures two of them - former officer Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes, and former officer Tou Thao, who kept the crowd back, rather than going to Floyd's aid. 
"Don't do drugs, guys," Thao said at one point to distressed onlookers.
Thao, an 11-year veteran of the department, has been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. He is also Hmong. 
As soon as Boonmee Yang, a fourth-grade public school teacher in St Paul, saw the video, he knew things were going to get complicated in the Hmong community.

Media captionKimberly Jones explains her viral Monopoly analogy: "How can you win when you've been stripped of everything?"

"Oftentimes, it's always been black victims at the hands of white officers. But now that someone else who looked like me was also involved in this, it made me really concerned," he said.
As a Hmong activist, Yang said that it hasn't always been easy to publicly express solidarity with the black community. He said some suffer what he calls "sheltered Asian syndrome", meaning they rarely interact with others from outside the Hmong community, and that their knee jerk response was to defend Thao's actions. 
There is also a history of conflict between the two communities, particularly in the early days of resettlement, according to rapper, artist and activist Tou SaiKo Lee. Refugee families often wound up in the Frogtown neighbourhood of St Paul and in East St Paul, areas that have historically had large African American populations.
"There was conflict between youth. Fights between new immigrants, new refugees and those that are currently living in the neighborhood - I was a part of that," he recalled. "There's some that still hold that tension."
Unlike the more broadly defined "Asian American" demographic, the Hmong community has a much shorter history in the US. Almost half of the Laotian Hmong fled their country in 1975, after the fall of Saigon in the Vietnam War. For 15 years, the CIA recruited thousands of Hmong soldiers to fight a so-called "secret war" against the North Vietnamese, but after the US pulled out without providing an evacuation plan for their allies, those who cooperated with the Americans, or were perceived to have, fled. Some were killed by the communists, thousands wound up in Thai refugee camps.

Tens of thousands were resettled in Minnesota, an overwhelmingly white state with few resources for the new immigrant population. Without the ability to speak the language, many could not find work. Today, the Hmong population in the US actually has much in common with the African-American population in terms of socioeconomic and other quality of life factors. 
According to figures from the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, one in four Hmong Americans lives below the poverty line. While 50% of the broader category "Asian Americans" have graduated university, only 17% of Hmong Americans have a college degree. And while 72% of white families own a home, less than half of Hmong Americans and African Americans do.

Family at refugee camp in ThailandImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionFamilies like this one at a refugee camp in Thailand were resettled to the US in 2004

The Hmong community has also long struggled with interactions with police. Initially, there was no Hmong representation among its ranks. Officers struggled to understand and to serve the new population. In an infamous 1989 case, a police officer shot two sixth-grade Hmong boys in the back as they ran away from a stolen car. The officer was never charged. 
Tou SaiKo said he was often racially profiled by Minneapolis police as a teenager, at one point spending two nights in jail after an officer found a fishing knife in his trunk. He said he was never charged, but he remembered getting pulled over many times and asked "What gang do you affiliate with?"
"I'd say, 'I'm a college student,'" he recalled. 
Still, those common struggles between the black and Hmong communities did not prevent old tensions from leaping to the fore in the aftermath of Floyd's death, particularly as looting and property damage hit Asian-owned businesses in the Midway neighbourhood of St Paul. 
"Tou Thao" is a very common Hmong name, and many who share it with the indicted officer faced online threats and harassment.
And as young Hmong activists - in particular women and members of the LGBTQ community - attempted to express support of Black Lives Matter, they faced condemnation and vitriol from within their own community, even threats.

Hmong protesters supporting BLM

Annie Moua, a recent high school graduate, saw plenty of comments online within her Asian American political groups that she calls "anti-black", saying things like "all lives matter" and asking, "They never helped us during our protest - why do we need to help them?" 
"During that week I lost a lot of friends," she said.
It was during the worst of that online fighting that Yang got a Facebook invite from a friend to join a group called "Hmong 4 Black Lives." There were only three members at the time. "I was on it," he said. 
He saw that a large Black Lives Matter demonstration was planned at the Minnesota State Capitol the next day, and created an event page for the nascent group. By morning, there were 300 members of Hmong 4 Black Lives (as of this writing there are now over 2,000). 
By afternoon the next day, a group of about 100 Hmong activists had gathered at the capitol, carrying signs that read, "I'm a Thao and I stand with Black Lives Matter" and "I am Hmong and for BLM - period". 
For 18-year-old Moua, it was her very first protest, and after the amount of turmoil she'd witnessed online, she was scared. "I was very, very nervous," she said. "I did not know what was going to go down."
Among the marchers was a small, elegant woman in a face mask and a baseball cap - Fong Lee's mother, Youa. 

Short presentational grey line

After fleeing their farm in Laos, and four years of waiting in a refugee camp in Thailand, Youa and her husband dreamed of giving their children a brighter future in the US. 
America was supposed to be a refuge. She never dreamed her middle son would wind up dead at the hands of a police officer.
"I feel like it was a mistake to bring my children here," she said in Hmong, translated by her daughter Shoua. "Now my son is gone."

Youa Vang Lee with daughter ShouaImage copyrightYOUA VANG LEE
Image captionYoua Vang Lee with daughter Shoua

Fong Lee was 19 years old when he went for a bike ride on 22 July, 2006. He was with a group of his friends in the parking lot of Cityview Elementary, a school in North Minneapolis, when officer Jason Andersen and a state trooper pulled up in a squad car. 
The boys took off running, with Andersen following Fong. A security camera from the school captured the final moments of the chase - Fong runs from the parking lot around the corner of the school, and Andersen is seen close behind with his gun pointed at Fong. Though blurry, the security footage does not clearly show a gun in Fong's hands, a fact that Andersen acknowledged at trial. 
In the final frame, Fong is seen lying on his back, bloodied and unmoving. He was hit four times in the back.

Security footage

Almost as soon as the news broke, Al Flowers, a longtime Minneapolis activist who has sued the police department multiple times over charges of brutality, started showing up to protests - at the school, at the courthouse. The Lees always saw him and another activist, the late Darryl Robinson of Communities United Against Police Brutality. They didn't ask to show up, Shoua Lee said, they just showed up.
For his part, Flowers said that after years of fighting for justice in the killings of black men and women, he believed that because Fong was Asian, there was a greater possibility that the officer would be convicted. 
"We felt like he was treated like we was always treated," Flowers recalled. "[We thought] he's going to get justice. And then he didn't. So we were shocked." 
Mike Padden, the Lee's family attorney in the civil case, said losing the case even with surveillance camera footage and the strange history of the gun recovered at the scene has always troubled him.
"In 2009, the environment for suing cops was way different than it is now," he said. "It bothers me. It was probably the most disappointing case in my career." 

An old, Russian-made Baikal .380-caliber semi-automatic handgun was found about three feet from Fong's left hand, free of fingerprints or blood.
In 2004, a man reported his gun stolen in a burglary. He was later told by Minneapolis police that his gun had been recovered in a snowbank and it would be in police custody until an investigation had concluded. The gun matched the serial number on the Baikal .380 caliber found by Fong Lee's body.
When that was pointed out at trial by Padden, the police provided an explanation -- the gun found in the snowbank was not the Baikal .380. There had been a mix-up with the identification and the paperwork, and the Baikal had never been in their custody. 
The Minneapolis Police Department did not respond to questions from the BBC about the case. 
Andersen was back on the street two days after Fong's death. The Minneapolis police chief later awarded him the department's "medal of valour" for his actions that day. 
The Minneapolis Police Department tried to fire Andersen twice after that - once after he was arrested for domestic violence, and once after he was indicted by federal investigators for kicking a teenager in the head during an arrest. The domestic violence case was dropped due to lack of evidence, and a jury acquitted Andersen in the assault on the teenager, despite the fact that other officers had reported his actions that day as excessive. Minneapolis' powerful police union helped get Andersen rehired. 
The union is often cited as the reason why it is so difficult to fire officers with problematic records. In the aftermath of George Floyd's killing, the city of Minneapolis is trying to take on the union by withdrawing from negotiations. 
Andersen is still an employee of the Minneapolis Police Department, and serves as the chaplain coordinator. Social media posts show him handing out donations, like car seats, bed sets and kitchen supplies to needy families in Minneapolis. 
In a brief phone call with the BBC, Andersen confirmed that he is the same officer from the Lee shooting and referred all questions to the department's media spokesperson. 
"It's something that's been put in the past and I know that was very, very hard for them because they lost their son," he said of the Lees. "I care for the family a lot and they went through something traumatic.
"Both of us had to live through this so when this gets dug back up, it's probably - it's something they never want to hear about again."

Short presentational grey line

It was Tou SaiKo Lee who asked Youa if she'd like to come to the state capitol, march with Hmong 4 Black Lives and speak about her son. It'd been almost 10 years, and Tou was also worried that bringing the case back up might be too traumatic.
But her answer was instantly, yes. 
That day, as they walked towards the capitol steps to join the larger Black Lives Matter group, Youa was in front, walking silently as the younger Hmong participants chanted around her. 

Youa Vang Lee at protest
Image captionYoua Vang Lee at protest

At some point, someone handed her the microphone. Even though she couldn't do it in English, she spoke passionately about supporting George Floyd's family and the movement that was born in his name. She promised to do anything she could for the Floyd family.
"We have to join hands with them," she told the crowd. "We come here to beg for justice and righteousness."
She wept openly, bringing many gathered around to tears as well, even those who could not understand her. 
"Without Fong Lee's family it would just be Hmong people bickering back and forth," said Tou SaiKo. "Many people see their own mother in Fong Lee's mother, many Hmong people, and so to see her in that emotional state, with those empowering words calling for solidarity, I thought that was a breath of fresh air."

Tou SaiK
Image captionTou SaiK

When told that Fong's mother had joined the George Floyd protests, Flowers was pleased. 
"I'm proud that she's out there supporting," he said. "My memory is watching her have to go through that and not understanding the law, not understanding what was really happening in the United States - that this could happen.
"We as African Americans, we knew what was the possibility and we knew that could happen. That was sad because we lost another case. That was another case we lost."
And although not everyone in the crowd for the first ever Hmong 4 Black Lives march could understand her, according to Annie Moua, the person who took the microphone immediately after Youa summed it up perfectly. 
"You don't need to understand [Hmong] to know what this pain feels like."

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