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Video shows four parole officers detained by gun-wielding police for Driving While Black

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Last year, four black parole officers driving on their way to arrest someone were blocked in by patrol cars at a busy intersection in the village of Airmont in Ramapo, New York (about 35 miles north of New York City). According to video obtained recently by a Rockland County newspaper, the Journal News, the police pointed their guns at the parole officers, who had aroused suspicions because they were black people wearing bulletproof vests.

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Black law enforcement leaders criticized Ramapo police for the incident, saying it was a case of racial profiling.

“If these guys aren’t safe, imagine what a young black man feels about interacting with the police,” said Damon Jones, the New York representative of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America. “They have no chance.”

The state parole officers filed a federal lawsuit against the town, its police department and others, alleging racial profiling and civil rights violations. Town officials maintain police did nothing wrong.

On a morning last April, at least five cops in patrol cars boxed the parole officers’ car at a busy intersection in Airmont, New York. In the dash cam videos obtained by the Journal News under the Freedom of Information Law, one cop can be seen drawing a gun immediately and aiming at the vehicle, and another reached to into the driver’s side of vehicle, later determined to be state-owned. Officer Mario Alexandre can be seen emerge from the car with his hands raised. Later, a third cop carrying a rifle is shown walking towards the parole officers who had been ordered out of the car.

Police said they were responding to a report of people wearing bulletproof vests in a car. They also noted that the parole officers did not alert the department that they were in town for an arrest and their car was unmarked.

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Alexandre and the other parole officers, Sheila Penister, Annette Thomas-Prince and Samuel Washington were held at least six minutes after being identified over the police radio as state employees. “Would they receive the same treatment if these parole officers were white?” Jones questioned after he viewed the video.

The lawsuit claims that the parole officers were wearing department-issued bulletproof vests with gold badges and identifications clearly displayed on chains around their necks. On the dashboard was an official sign that said “State of New York — Executive Department — Division of Parole,” the lawsuit claims, and the police ran the plate and had confirmed that parole officers were in the area for an arrest.

The obtained videos do not contain audio from officers’ microphones, and the lawsuit claims that the failure to provide “complete and accurate copies of audio/video recordings” on the part of the police department is “part of their cover up to avoid liability.”

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The town refuses to release the police reports, saying there is an ongoing investigation. The Ramapo police also decline to answer any questions.

“The actions of the town of Ramapo police were reasonable under the circumstances,” said Ramapo Assistant Town Attorney Dennis Lynch, who wouldn’t specify the nature of the investigation.

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Patrick Withers, deputy town supervisor and a former NYPD officer, who viewed at least one dash cam video, maintained that police acted appropriately. “I have no doubt when the court views all the documents and the evidence that our officers will be vindicated,” he said.

Retired parole officer Grant Valentine of Chestnut Ridge, an NAACP member, said, “I think it was an absolute case of racial profiling.” According to him, there is no policy requiring parole officers notify police they are in town.

“I think what they saw was four black people they perceived to have guns in a car and they reacted based on those assumptions,” he said.

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Claiming that the parole officers were traumatized, humiliated and feared for their lives, the lawsuit seeks compensation of an unspecified amount and asks for the court to mandate the officers of the police department to go through proper training.

Watch video below, courtesy of the Journal News.


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‘Please stop’: Devin Nunes shamelessly tries to out whistleblower and gets shut down by Adam Schiff

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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) cautioned impeachment witnesses on Tuesday not to answer questions from Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) because they were allegedly designed to out a whistleblower who kicked off the inquiry.

During a House impeachment hearing, Nunes repeatedly questioned two witnesses -- Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council aide -- about whether they had leaked information to the press.

Schiff suggested that the line of questioning was designed to suss out the identity of the whistleblower, who has a right to anonymity under federal law.

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Vindman debunks Trump’s CrowdStrike conspiracy theory — and agrees it was promoted by Putin

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At the public impeachment hearing on Tuesday, Democratic counsel Daniel Goldman asked Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman about President Donald Trump's anti-Ukraine conspiracy theories discussed on the phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Vindman stated flatly that he had seen no evidence to support any of them and noted that they were being promoted by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"President Trump asks President Zelensky for a favor, and then raises this theory of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election," said Goldman. "He says in the highlighted portion, 'I would like you to do us a favor though. Because our country has been through a lot. And Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine. They say CrowdStrike. I guess you have one of your wealthy people. The server, they say Ukraine has it.' Now, Col. Vindman, was this statement based on the official talking points that you had prepared?"

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Devin Nunes defends discredited Hill columnist John Solomon in bonkers opening statement

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Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) delivered a opening statement on Tuesday in which he attacked the mainstream media while praising a former columnist for The Hill whose work has been widely discredited by multiple witnesses in the impeachment inquiry.

Columnist John Solomon, whose debunked opinion columns about Ukraine helped Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani spread conspiracy theories about Ukraine supposedly being responsible for interference in the 2016 presidential election, has come under heavy criticism and The Hill announced this week that it would conduct a factual review of all his past work on Ukraine.

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