Friday, November 23, 2018

In Memoriam: New York State Senator José Peralta


First Dominican-American Elected to the State Senate, Dies at 47

By Jeffery C. Mays


José R. Peralta, the first Dominican-American elected to the New York State Senate, died on Wednesday night. He was 47.

He was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens after becoming disoriented following a two-week illness, but the cause of death had not yet been determined, a staff member said.

Mr. Peralta, a Democrat, lost his re-election bid in September after serving eight years in the State Senate representing a diverse swath of Queens.

A member of a group that caucused with Republicans, Mr. Peralta was defeated by a Democratic insurgent riding a progressive wave, and he was set to leave office at the end of next month.

Mr. Peralta was first elected to the State Senate in 2010 in a special election, defeating Hiram Monserrate, who was expelled from the Senate after being convicted of assaulting his companion.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The New York Times

Statement by Governor Andrew Cuomo

"I am deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Senator José Peralta. Senator Peralta was a dedicated public servant, a relentless advocate for Queens and a pioneer as the first Dominican-American elected to the New York State Senate. As a Member of the Assembly for eight years and then as Senator, he fought tirelessly to make a difference for others, and he will always be remembered for his service to Queens and to all New Yorkers. This is a reminder of how precious life is — hold your families a little bit closer today as we think about all we are thankful for. 

 "On behalf of the entire family of New York, my thoughts and prayers are with Senator Peralta and his family, including his wife, Evelyn, and two sons."  

Source: The Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Statement by New York State Senator James Sanders Jr.
 
"I was deeply saddened to hear of the sudden and untimely death of my colleague in government, Senator José Peralta. I worked with him for many years and appreciated his wonderful sense of humor and his passion for defending immigrants and their rights. Although we headed in different directions politically, I believe he had a good heart. My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time." 

Source: The Office of State Senator James Sanders Jr.

NY Post Report Supports Claims of NYPD Veteran Featured in 'From The G-Man' Exclusive

 Jakim Jeter and his family claim they requested help from doctors for over a year.


In March of this year, "From The G-Man" published an exclusive entitled "NYPD Veteran: 'Some of These Doctors Are Going to Get People Killed'".

The report revealed that mentally ill people are being released from medical facilities without proper evaluation a few hours after being brought in by police. Two incidents were cited by a 27-year veteran of the department, who spoke to From The G-Man on the condition of anonymity.

Additionally, the report was submitted to many elected and city officials at the state and local level, but there was no response. When following up, one official said From The G-Man was considered "nothing more than a blog" and not on par with the New York Times, Daily News or other renowned news sources. The statement was made in spite of the fact that a respected member of "New York's Finest" came forward in effort to warn the public.

Well, on Thanksgiving Day, the NYPD veteran, and the From The G-Man report, was proven right.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Happening in Harlem: Free Thanksgiving Day Dinner Giveaway

To volunteer call (212) 281-4887, ext. 242, or email mkgama@hcci.org.

Source: ImageNation

Girls for Gender Equity: 5 Things We're Grateful for in 2018

 
The following statement was submitted by Joanne N. Smith, Founding President and CEO of Girls for Gender Equity.

With Thanksgiving on the horizon, we wanted to share our reflections of gratitude.

Girls for Gender Equity (GGE) is a Brooklyn-based inter-generational grassroots organization committed to the physical, psychological, social and economic development of girls and women. We love and are fueled by our work, and we're grateful for the opportunity to do these 5 things…

1. Organize campaigns centering young girls and TGNC youth of color to achieve safety and equity in the communities where they live, learn and work, building towards institutional change through research and policy. This is our Movement Building work.

2. Create a national impact through programming which engages young cis and trans girls and gender nonconforming youth of color in civic engagement. This is our Young Women's Advisory Council (YWAC) program.

3. Provide young women of color who have been directly impacted by sexual violence with participatory action research training, counseling, college preparatory services and advisement in academic and career pathways in advocacy and organizing. We call this program Sisters in Strength (SIS).

4. Run holistic after-school programming designed to advance academic achievement, leadership skills and social justice values in young people of color of all genders. This is our Urban Leaders Academy (ULA).

5. Lead the conversation on what comes next after #metoo alongside our Senior Director, Tarana Burke, who has gained global recognition for her tireless work on her decade-long ‘me too.’ movement that supports the healing of survivors of sexual violence. And...

[BONUS] We're grateful to have a community of amazing allies like yourself! Thank you for the ways in which you make this critical work possible.

National Alert: Special Hearing on Adult Guardianship to Be Held in Washington, D.C.

The Dirksen Senate Office Building

The following statement was submitted by Rick Black, a director at the Center for Estate Administration Reform (CEAR)

On November 28, at 2:30 p.m., a hearing entitled "Ensuring Trust: Strengthening State Efforts to Overhaul the Guardianship Process and Protect Older Americans" will be conducted at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

I respectfully request that this information be shared with anyone interested in attending this important event. We need to fill the hearing room for this discussion like what we saw for the Kavanaugh hearings. Having a large contingent would denote interest and great concern for this issue. 

In a few days, I will submit a follow-up note to this news site about a planned meeting on the Hill surrounding the hearing.

Thank you. 

Mark Holden on Criminal Justice Reform Efforts

 
Freedom Partners' Mark Holden discusses bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation that was recently endorsed by President Trump.

Click here for video.

How Far Can Trump Shield Bin Salman?


South Sudan Holds Oil Conference to Boost Industry


Germany: Leadership Race for Angela Merkel’s Replacement


Tijuana: Migrant Caravan Swells as US Judge Blocks Trump's Order


Yemen: 85,000 Children May Have Died from Starvation


Warning! The report contains footage that may be disturbing.

Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh Too Traumatised to Go Back Home


Tax Preparers Can Register Now for 2019

 
The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance today announced the launch of the 2019 tax preparer registration application. Tax preparers can register for the first time or renew their registration now using the Tax Department’s online application.

Nearly 40,000 tax preparers in New York State must renew their registration to complete and file New York State personal income tax returns on behalf of their clients next year.

“Tax law changes have prompted plenty of questions this year,” said Acting Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Nonie Manion. “Tax preparers are asking for information and we deliver through this required training. Not only does it answer the most popular questions from preparers, it also builds their confidence to filing accurate returns through education.”

Governor Cuomo established the registration requirement and regulations to help protect taxpayers from unethical or incompetent preparers. This oversight reduces errors and omissions on tax returns, as well as outright fraud by rogue preparers. New York is one of only six states in the nation that requires tax preparers to meet specific professional standards.

In addition to annual registration, most individuals who are paid to prepare at least one New York State tax return in a year must: take four hours of annual continuing education; and if they have fewer than three years of experience preparing New York State tax returns, complete a 16-hour basic tax course.

Those who fail to comply with the standards of conduct face a range of disciplinary actions, from remedial education to suspension or, in some cases, cancellation of their registration.

Each year, the Tax Department processes more than 10 million individual tax returns, with approximately 70% of them completed and filed by paid tax preparers. However, the taxpayer is ultimately responsible for the accuracy of returns prepared on their behalf.

Attorneys, certified public accountants, public accountants, and enrolled agents are not required to register as a tax return preparer, but must meet specific professional standards established by their licensing agencies. However, if you are one of the licensed professionals or other individuals listed above, and you facilitate RALs or RACs, you must register as a facilitator.  

Click here and here for additional information.

Source: The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance

Happening in Harlem: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Events

 
Click here for additional information and the listing. 

Source: Kevin Young, Director, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

New York Public Library: The Best Books of 2018 Are....

The following statement was submitted by Lynn Lobash, Manager of Reading Services for the New York Public Library. 

Dear New Yorkers, 

As the holidays approach, all of us at The New York Public Library want to express our gratitude for two things that help make us who we are—great books and a community of great supporters like you.
 

However you engage with the Library—thank you! Thank you for being a patron, an avid reader, a supporter, a friendly face in our neighborhood branches.
 

To thank you for being a part of what makes our community strong, we want to share a token of our appreciation—the gift of reading.
 
This week, we released our lists of Best Books for Kids, Teens, and Adults—the Library's picks of the stand-out titles published in 2018. Check out the top 10 titles for each age group or explore the full lists: Best Books for Adults, Best Books for Teens, Best Books for Kids

As you browse these lists, we hope you'll discover a story or author that intrigues you and inspires you to share the gift of reading with your loved ones. We're grateful for your support all year round, and we wish you a very happy holiday season.

Happy Reading!

New York City Students Can Be Suspended for an Entire Year. Officials Say Changes Could Be Coming.

 
By Alex Zimmerman

After successfully pressing Mayor Bill de Blasio to reduce the overall number of suspensions issued to New York City students, advocates are focusing on a new target: reducing the maximum length of suspensions — which can now last an entire school year.

In the wake of new discipline data that continue to show stark divides — including a report that found black students often receive longer suspensions than students from other racial groups for the same infractions — advocates and a group of city councilors argue the city must adopt a series of new reforms, including a cap on the length of suspensions to 20 days. Now, the education department is seriously considering a strict cap on the number of days a student can be suspended.

“The biggest thing we can’t wrap our head around is why you can suspend a student for 180 days,” said Tannya Benavides, a fourth grade teacher and volunteer with Organizing for Equity. The organization, which formed about a year ago, is conducting door-knocking campaigns in districts with high suspension rates to help create momentum for discipline reforms, including limits to the amount of time students can be removed from their classrooms.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Chalkbeat

New York Yeshivas Could Lose State Education Dollars If They Don’t Teach Required Subjects

 

Click here for summary. 

Source: Jewish Telegraphic Agency

30 New York Colleges That Make the Most Money Off Rejecting Your Applications

 
By Ben Axelson

Local Officials List Top Priorities for 2019-2020 NYS Budget

 
ALBANY, N.Y.  — Community leaders from across New York converged in the state’s capital to talk about the top items they’d like to see be addressed in the 2019-2020 state budget.

Binghamton Mayor Rich David was one of more than 80 city and village officials from around the state that participated in forming the priorities for the New York State Conference of Mayors (NYCOM).

Among the priorities they are advocating for is boosting funding from the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS), which provides crucial money for constructing, renovating and improving local infrastructure.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: WBNG (via Empire Report New York)

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Market Gains for 2018 Wiped Out by Plunging Stocks

 
By Lucy Bayly

The stock market slid dramatically on Tuesday after a slew of disappointing corporate earnings dragged down the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500, erasing all gains for 2018. The Dow fell by 648 points at its session low, and closed at 24,465.

It's the worst Thanksgiving week for the Dow and the S&P since 2011, according to Dow Jones data.

Retail earnings released Tuesday hit the market hard, with Target shares falling as much as 15 percent on investor concern that the chain had cut its margins too tightly to remain competitive in the holiday season.

Lowe's also disappointed, reporting lower-than-expected same-store sales, coupled with an announcement that it is closing all stores in Mexico. Shares fell 3.6 percent and rival Home Depot also sank 2 percent.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News 

CDC Warning! Outbreak of E. coli Linked to Romaine Affects New York and 10 Other States


Governor Andrew Cuomo today cautioned New Yorkers to follow the food safety alert from the Centers for Disease Control to not eat any romaine lettuce due to an E. coli outbreak across the country. The CDC is advising consumers who have any type of romaine lettuce in their home to not eat it and throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick. The CDC is also urging retailers and restaurants not to serve or sell any romaine lettuce until further notice.
 
"As we prepare to gather with family and friends for the Thanksgiving holiday, I urge all New Yorkers to follow the CDC's guidelines and refrain from eating or serving romaine lettuce until it is safe to do so," Governor Cuomo said. "As always, New Yorkers should be aware of current product recalls and food safety recommendations to ensure a happy and healthy holiday for all."
 
Thirty-two cases of people infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli have been reported in 11 states, including two in New York State. The illnesses started on dates ranging from October 8, 2018 to October 31, 2018. Thirteen people have been hospitalized, including one person who developed a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.
 
In addition, at least 18 people in Ontario and Quebec, Canada have been infected with E. coli. The current outbreak is not related to the Spring 2018 multistate outbreak of E. coli infections linked to romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona region. If you have symptoms of an E. coli infection, talk to your healthcare provider.
 
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "As we work with our state and federal partners to determine the cause of this outbreak and what can be done to reduce contamination and protect public health, we urge New Yorkers to stay away from romaine lettuce while this investigation continues. The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from getting sick is to not eat or purchase any type of romaine lettuce at this time."
 
NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "To protect consumers from this foodborne outbreak, we are urging New York families, retailers, grocers and restaurants to adhere to the warning and pull any romaine lettuce from their shelves and menus. Working with our partners, we will follow this investigation closely and keep consumers informed."
 
E. coli are bacteria that normally live in the intestines of humans and animals. Although most strains of this bacteria are harmless, several are known to produce toxins that can lead to illness and cause diarrhea or vomiting. The type of E. coli bacteria that most commonly produces toxins causing illness is Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC). One of the most common E. coli strains, called E. coli O157:H7, is a STEC that can cause severe diarrhea. People become infected by eating food or drinking water contaminated with the bacteria.
 

Source: The Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo  

What You Need to Know About the First Step Act


The following statement was submitted by DeAnna Hoskins, President and CEO of JustLeadershipUSA.


I’m writing to you today to share the concerns of JustLeadershipUSA, and key national partner organizations regarding the First Step Act.

Despite recent revisions, many of them good, thanks to the leadership of our sisters at the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, JLUSA remains in qualified opposition to the First Step Act. Our mission is to cut the U.S. correctional population in #halfby2030. While the First Step Act brings home many of our loved ones, and contains good policies including unshackling of pregnant women, earned credits, and sentencing reform - the bill does not address or seek to undo structural racism; instead it re-entrenches it and sets a precedent in creating more harm by the implementation of risk assessment tools that demonstrate biases toward Black and brown defendants.

I urge you to read our full statement and our policy brief which, together, outline our urgent concerns with this legislation, the consequences for our families and communities, as well as our proposed alterations.

I hope you will join us in fighting for justice toward our mission of cutting the US correctional population in #halfby2030 and empowering the people most affected by incarceration to drive policy reform in ways that are fully informed.

Thank you.

Governor Cuomo's Thanksgiving Message to New Yorkers


Earlier today, Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered brief remarks ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday while distributing turkeys to New Yorkers in need on Long Island.

Source: NYGovCuomo 

Google News May Be Forced to Shut Down Due to EU 'Link Tax' Plans

 
By Anthony Cuthbertson 

The future of Google News in Europe is in doubt after Google executives hinted that EU plans for a "link tax" could force it to shut down.

The new piece of European legislation is intended to make sure online publishers are paid if their content appears in search results on Google.

A similar law introduced in Spain in 2014 resulted in the search giant shutting down Google News in the country, which it claims led to a fall in traffic local newspapers and publications.

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Independent 

Pompeo Defends Alliance with Saudi Arabia


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended President Trump's decision to continue the strong U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia amid reports that the CIA has assessed that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Transgender Day of Remembrance: One World Trade Center, Kosciuszko Bridge to Be Illuminated


The spire of One World Trade Center and the Kosciuszko Bridge will be lit in honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance. The structures will be illuminated in the colors of the transgender flag tonight in memory of transgender individuals who tragically lost their lives to hate-based violence and to celebrate the leadership of transgender communities. This event, started in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender woman, memorializes those who have been murdered due to transphobia, and has grown into an International event observed in over 185 cities throughout more than 20 countries.

"With the lighting of these iconic New York landmarks, we remember those in the transgender community whose lives were senselessly cut short to hate and bigotry, and honor the leadership and resiliency of those who continue to fight for equality to this day," Governor Cuomo said. "New York has always been a leader in protecting the rights of LGBTQ people, and while many strides have been made, we know our work is not done. As Washington continues to sow hate and intolerance, we stand with the transgender community and pledge to continue to fight for a safe and equal state for all."

An epidemic of violence against transgender people is still gripping this country, especially those in communities of color and others that are multiply marginalized. In the U.S., transgender women of color's average life expectancy is just 35 years, less than half of the overall national average. Despite this unacceptable number, transgender women of color continue to fight for their communities' ability to not just survive, but to thrive.

Click here and scroll down for the full announcement. If not posted, check the site later.

Sources: The Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and GLAAD

SUNY Student Assembly: We Oppose New Title IX Regulations


The following statement was submitted by the Student Assembly of the State University of New York (SUNY SA)

The SUNY Student Assembly opposes the revised Title IX regulations announced by the U.S. Department of Education.

Students understand that it is paramount that survivors of sexual violence be given the resources and support services they need on campus. Students also understand that campus judicial proceedings must offer a fair due process to both accusers and the accused.

The regulations announced by Secretary DeVos make it more difficult for survivors of sexual violence to seek justice through campus proceedings, which may lead some survivors not to report.

The Student Assembly is particularly opposed to removing the ability of student survivors to seek a campus judicial proceeding for incidents that occur off-campus. An act of sexual violence committed by one student against another off-campus is no less traumatizing, and requires no less campus intervention, than one that occurs on-campus.

The Student Assembly fully supports SUNY’s Title IX Policy and New York State’s Enough is Enough law, which guarantee a fair process to both accusers and the accused, and offer necessary support services to survivors. We urge SUNY and each of our sixty-four campuses to do their best to maintain these policies despite the federal action.

“The Department of Education should be taking greater steps to combat sexual violence on campuses- this is a step in the opposite direction,” said Michael Braun, President of the SUNY Student Assembly and Trustee on the SUNY Board of Trustees. “We are concerned that the proposed regulations may lead survivors not to report incidents, and make it more difficult for students who do come forward to get the justice they deserve.”

The Student Assembly urges the U.S. Department of Education to extend its announced 60 day comment period on the proposed regulations. This period overlaps with breaks on campuses across the country, thus limiting the ability of students to meaningfully contribute to the process. Despite this, the Student Assembly will offer its input to the Department of Education on the regulations and we urge other students to share their thoughts and concerns through this comment period.

The Student Assembly of the State University of New York (SUNY SA) is the recognized student government organization representing the nearly 600,000 students of the State University of New York. Comprised of student leaders elected by their peers from across SUNY’s 64 campuses, SUNY SA is committed to empowering students throughout the state, and ensuring the representation of its members on the state and national level, as well as throughout the SUNY system.

New American Nazis: Inside the White Supremacist Movement That Fueled Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting


Hard Times Hit Virginia’s Dairy Industry


Federal Judge Blocks Trump's Asylum Restrictions


How an Obscure Legal Document Turned New York’s Court System Into a Debt-Collection Machine


Story by Zachary R. Mider and Zeke Faux
Data analysis by David Ingold and Demetrios Pogkas 

Look out, the stranger on the phone warned. They’re coming for you.

The caller had Janelle Duncan’s attention. Perpetually peppy at 53, with sparkly jewelry and a glittery manicure, Duncan was running a struggling Florida real estate agency with her husband, Doug. She began each day in prayer, a vanilla latte in her hand and her Maltese Shih Tzu, Coco, on her lap, asking God for business to pick up. She’d answered the phone that Friday morning in January hoping it would be a new client looking for a home in the Tampa suburbs.

The man identified himself as a debt counselor. He described a bizarre legal proceeding that he said was targeting Duncan without her knowledge. A lender called ABC had filed a court judgment against her in the state of New York and was planning to seize her possessions. “I’m not sure if they already froze your bank accounts, but they are RIGHT NOW moving to do just that,” he’d written in an email earlier that day. He described the lender as “EXTREMLY AGGRESSIVE.” Her only hope, the man said, was to pull all her money out of the bank immediately.

His story sounded fishy to the Duncans. They had borrowed $36,762 from a company called ABC Merchant Solutions LLC, but as far as they knew they were paying the money back on schedule. Doug dialed his contact there and was assured all was well. They checked with a lawyer; he was skeptical, too. What kind of legal system would allow all that to happen 1,000 miles away without notice or a hearing? They shrugged off the warning as a scam.

But the caller was who he said he was, and everything he predicted came true. The following Monday, Doug logged in at the office to discover he no longer had access to his bank accounts. A few days on, $52,886.93 disappeared from one of them. The loss set off a chain of events that culminated a month later in financial ruin. Not long after her agency went bankrupt, Janelle collapsed and was rushed to the hospital, vomiting bile.

Click here for the full article.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek

Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Sexual Harassment Suit is Bigger Than Expected


Parents of Kids Wrongly Added to No-Fly List Still Waiting for Redress System


Can Israel's Prime Minister Save His Right-Wing Coalition?


Airbnb to Remove Listings from Illegal Israeli Settlements


DRC Efforts to Fight Ebola Resume in Beni After Deadly Violence


International Space Station Turns 20, Story of Evolution Goes On


Russia, Turkey Complete Major Phase of TurkStream Gas Pipeline


Holiday Toy, Coat and School Supply Drive Launched to Help the Needy


A statewide holiday drive has been launched to benefit families in need across New York. Donations of new unwrapped toys, coats and school supplies are being sought to assist community-based organizations during the holiday giving season.

"New Yorkers have a long and proud tradition of lending a hand and helping those in need," Governor Cuomo said. "As we celebrate with family and friends this year, I encourage New Yorkers to continue this tradition and think of those less fortunate by donating unwrapped toys, coats and school supplies to those in need and help spread holiday cheer."

 The Office of General Services has set up drop-off locations across the state for businesses and individuals to bring the new unwrapped toys, coats and school supplies, which will be distributed to families in underserved communities throughout New York. The drop-off locations will be collecting donations from Monday, November 26 through Friday, December 14.

Click here to view the list of drop-off locations.

Source: The Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

New York City Could Experience the Coldest Thanksgiving in 117 Years

 
The turkey isn't the only thing that will need to thaw out on Thanksgiving. 

Storm Team 4 is expecting temps in the mid 20s on Thursday with a wind chill making it feel like the teens, which would make it the coldest Thanksgiving since 1901. On that day, over a century ago the city saw a record low of 19 degrees and a high of 26 degrees. 

Click here for additional information.

Source: News 4 New York (via Empire Report New York)

In Memoriam: Brendan Fitzgerald, New York State Public Servant


Click here to read Mr. Fitzgerald's obituary. 

Statement from Governor Andrew Cuomo 

"Brendan Fitzgerald was a brilliant and devoted public servant who spent two decades serving the people of the State of New York in a variety of critical roles, including Deputy Secretary for General Government and Financial Services and most recently Executive Deputy Secretary of State.

"Brendan was fiercely intelligent and kind, but perhaps above all, he was deeply passionate about serving and protecting all New Yorkers. He worked tirelessly on key economic development priorities and helped to advance legislation to legalize mixed martial arts and protect consumers with new anti-ticket scalping provisions. Brendan was widely respected by his co-workers, and by the entire team, for his loyalty, tenacity and willingness to always lend a hand to help his colleagues.

"On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my profound gratitude for Brendan's service to our state and my deepest condolences to his family, especially his wife Lauren and son Jack, during this incredibly difficult time."

Source: The Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

New York Alert: Special Event to Be Held for Veterans and Current Service Members

 
Source: The Office of State Senator James Sanders Jr.

Monday, November 19, 2018

The Death of Andrew Kearse and the 'Special Relationship' Doctrine


A 'From The G-Man' Exclusive


By Gary Glennell Toms


A recent report by the Daily Gazette News stated the following: "Andrew Kearse was arrested in May 2017 after police said he tried to flee a traffic stop. On the way to the station and before being taken from the scene, he repeatedly told officers of breathing problems and said he was feeling dizzy, authorities have said."

The article also stated that Kearse repeatedly pleaded for assistance from Schenectady Police Officer Mark Weekes while en route to the police station. According to the New York State Attorney General's Office, Kearse requested help nearly 50 times, but Officer Weekes continued to drive at a regular rate of speed and did not respond to Kearse's requests. Kearse collapsed in the back seat and was unresponsive upon arriving at the station, according to officials. Kearse was placed on the sidewalk outside of the station, but six minutes had passed when Weekes started chest compressions. The officer called for paramedics, but Kearse died shortly after. The cause was cardiac arrhythmia.

In October of 2018, Acting New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood said the grand jury declined to file charges despite her office's efforts, but From The G-Man decided to take a closer look at the case and laws relating to the safety and security of individuals in police custody.

On October 31, From The G-Man spoke with a federal law enforcement agent who periodically trains police officers. The agent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity,  stated: "Once an officer takes a subject into custody, the care, custody and control of that subject is the responsibility of the officer until that subject is relinquished to a detention facility, another official or released from that officer's custody."

Rob Schwach, a former New York Police Department lieutenant and creator of the NYPD's C.O.B.R.A. program, was also contacted and asked about arrest and detainment policy. "I don't know national policy, but it certainly is a responsibility of the officer to do everything he/she can to protect a prisoner who is cuffed and vulnerable. As policing is a state by state issue, there may not be a national standard," said Schwach. 

Several days after the conversations, and extensive online research, From The G-Man discovered a doctrine, which is called "special relationship", that raises serious questions about the grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Weekes. For the sake of full disclosure, explanations of the "public duty" and special relationship doctrine have been provided, courtesy of HG.org.

Public Duty Doctrine


Law enforcement officers often consider themselves responsible for protecting the public and deterring criminal activity. However, the legal doctrine that specifies the legal duty of law enforcement officers holds that they have a duty to the public but not to individual citizens. A law enforcement officer does not usually have the duty of protecting one person from the violence of another. As such, there is generally no private cause of action against a law enforcement officer for such failure to protect. However, there are exceptions to this rule, including providing for a private cause of action when the state creates the danger or when there is a special relationship.

Special Relationship Doctrine

In some cases, law enforcement has an affirmative duty to protect a specific person, such as when the state has a “special relationship” with the person. This special relationship requires the state to assume control over the individual in order to provide sufficient protection. Once this relationship exists, the state has the legal duty to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety and care of the individual and to safeguard the individual from foreseeable risks.

When a special relationship exists, the law enforcement officer may have a constitutional duty to protect the individual. A special relationship can be formed through the interactions between law enforcement and the private citizen. For example, a person who is in police custody, a special relationship can arise. This means that law enforcement may have the duty to protect the individual at the scene of the arrest, during transport and while in holding.

From The G-Man asked the federal law enforcement agent if a parolee was taken into police custody, as was reportedly the case with Andrew Kearse, would that constitute a special relationship? "Based on my nearly 20 years of experience in law enforcement, I'd say yes," said the agent. If Mr. Kearse was on parole when he was arrested, he technically became the property of the state all over again once he was arrested. At that point, the officer who transported Mr. Kearse was responsible for the care, custody and control of the subject. In my opinion, a special relationship existed at the time of Mr. Kearse's death."   

There is no way of knowing if the grand jury was made aware of the public duty or, more importantly, the special relationship doctrine. "As a Grand Jury proceeding is secret, it is not possible to determine why they voted not to file charges against Officer Mark Weeks," said Sanford Rubenstein, who represents Angelique Negroni-Kearse, the widow of Andrew Kearse. "While the Grand Jury did not charge Weeks or any other police officers with a crime, a civil case has already been filed against police officers and the police department involved for damages for wrongful death. The burden of proof in a civil case is lower than in a criminal case, beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal case, by a preponderance of the evidence in a civil case. The family of the late Andrew Kearse looks forward to a jury made up of members of the community making a determination with regard to fault and damages regarding the wrongful death of Andrew Kearse."

On October 21, News10 (ABC) reported...."Attorney General Barbara Underwood released a statement saying, “regardless of the grand jury’s decision, Mr. Kearse’s Death was a tragedy that never should have happened.” The report also noted that Underwood urged the New York State legislature to enact a statewide policy to treat breathing problems as a medical emergency and that the Schenectady Police Department should also take steps to become an accredited law enforcement agency.

When From The G-Man asked the federal law enforcement agent to interpret AG Underwood's request that the Schenectady Police Department take steps to become an accredited law enforcement agency, he stated, "If that request was made, it means the department isn't operating as a full-fledged police department. In other words, the officers lack the training necessary to be considered a duly-recognized police department. Basically, again, according to the attorney general's recommendation, the Schenectady Police Department is the equivalent of a volunteer police force."

Democrats File Lawsuit Challenging Whitaker Appointment


CNN Asks for Emergency Hearing After WH Warns It May Revoke Acosta's Press Pass Again


Michael Bloomberg Makes Massive Donation for Education


How Have Sanctions Impacted the People of North Korea?