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Just Reported

Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates set to take reins in Miami Beach


Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates arrives at a news conference July 20, 2012, hours after the shooting massacre at the Century Aurora 16 theater. (Hyoung Chang, Denver Post file)

Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates is in line to become the new top cop for the…



An Arab-American civil rights group has launched a new phone app aimed at allowing people to promptly report hate crimes.

The Michigan chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee said they have created an app that allows users to report acts of discrimination, harassment, or other types of racism from their cell phones or other mobile devices.

The group developed the app to mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“The best thing about this app is that all you need is a phone to mobilize civil rights advocacy in your community, no matter your proximity to our offices,” said Fatina Abdrabboh, director of the Michigan chapter, based in Dearborn. The app gives a “platform to engage through mobile technology and social media,” she said.

The app lets users know about their rights “in the workplace, while traveling, and when interacting with federal agents,” the group said in a news release.

Arab-Americans in metro Detroit have reported bias over the years in a range of places, including at airports, crossing borders, at their jobs, and in schools.

The new app also interacts with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It has sections called Know Your Rights, Report an Incident, and ADC Michigan Incident Form, which users fill out to report incidents of bias.

Launched April 11, the app is available for free on Android and IOS devices.

The download the app, visit https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=hr.apps.n164534307 or https://itunes.apple.com/US/app/id845123049?mt=8

Hurricane man faces federal hate crime charges


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Sex offender arrested near UC Berkeley police station


Lew Olive was arrested near the UC Berkeley police headquarters. (Photo courtesy of the University of California Police Department)

A registered sex offender was arrested after he allegedly grabbed a child walking with her parents right outside the UC Berkeley police station, authorities said Tuesday.

Lew Olive, 55, is being held at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin in lieu of $105,000 on suspicion of attempted kidnapping, battery on a peace officer, resisting arrest and annoying or molesting a child.

The incident unfolded shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday when a girl walking with her parents was approached by Olive near Barrows Lane and Bancroft Way, on the south edge of campus adjacent to campus police headquarters in Sproul Hall, police said.

Olive began talking to the girl, which prompted her parents to cross Bancroft Way in hopes of getting away with him, authorities said.

“The suspect followed and grabbed both the child and the father’s arms in an attempt to pull them apart,” police said. “The force of the pulling lifted the child 2 to 3 feet off the ground.”

UC Berkeley officers witnessed the altercation from their patrol car and ordered Olive to release the girl, police said. He resisted arrest but was taken into custody, authorities said.

Alameda County prosecutors charged Olive in connection with the incident. Olive is a registered sex offender with violations for indecent exposure, annoying or molesting a child, and assisting in an act of indecent exposure, according to the California Megan’s Law database.

Police officer trips and pushes students after soccer match in Texas

Georgetown Police Department George Bermudez, who cops say was caught on video intentionally trying to trip teenage revelers, was placed on administrative leave with pay pending an investigation.

A Texas police officer tripped and shoved teenagers after a soccer match during an unacceptable power trip.

Students from Vandegrift High School in Austin rushed the field in Georgetown after their girls’ team won its first state championship on Saturday.

Cell phone video shows the Georgetown Police Officer, identified as George Bermudez, trip one boy (who limped away), try to trip a girl, grab a third and shove a forth.

“I want to stress to the community that this behavior is not in line with the way we want to conduct business,” Cpt. Roland Waits told the Daily News. “Know that we take complaints like this seriously.”

Bermudez, who has been with the department since 2005, was placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation.

“We started receiving emails on Sunday relevant to the incident Saturday,” Waits said. “The emails had the YouTube video attached to it and the parents that wrote in were very concerned about the officer’s actions.”

Police Chief Wayne Nero issued a release saying that the matter was immediately forwarded to the professional standards division but that  despite the angered public’s insistence — he cannot immediately fire Bermudez.

“As an executive manager, it is my duty to ensure that a thorough investigation is conducted,” he said in the statement.

Nero entreated the public for patience while the investigation is conducted so that the “appropriate accountability can take place.”

Authorities said that during the University Interscholastic League (UIL) championship game there were announcements over the loud speaker telling spectators to stay off the field.

But it’s unclear why Bermudez apparently felt justified using force to restrain teens from celebrating a sports win. Bermudez is not allowed to discuss the incident with the media during the investigation.

Rohan Gupta via YouTube An officer, identified as George Bermudez, stares down at the teen boy he just tripped. KXAN The Georgetown cop tries to trip a teen girl who rushed the field to celebrate the soccer win with her classmates. Rohan Gupta via YouTube Bermudez can be seen grabbing a teen boy and telling him to get off the field.

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“We will look into the actions and we want to make sure it gets done, timely, fairly and that it’s transparent,” Waits said.

Veronica Sopher, spokesperson for the Leander Independent School District, said she trusts that Georgetown Police and UIL will handle this incident.

“The thing that I’ve been trying to convey,” Sopher told The News, “is that we want to celebrate the success of our kids and what they put into the soccer season.”



Swastikas Mar West Amwell businesses


Once we hear that a home or business has been marred with swastikas, the first thought that comes to mind is that it’s the work of a hate group.

Could also be someone who’s just bored and looking for an outlet to spread a little mischief.

A recent incident in West Amwell seems to lean in the direction of the former.

A 20 year old man from across the river in Yardley is being charged with criminal mischief and theft, but not a hate crime, in having spray painted swastikas and obscenities on the side of a number of businesses along Route 179 in West Amwell.

According to this from nj.com

A 20-year-old Pennsylvania man has been charged with criminal mischief and theft, but no hate crimes, following vandalism last week that included spray-painted swastikas and curse words on businesses including Chicken Dog Cafe.

The arrest of Brandon S. Wetzel, of Yardley was announced late this afternoon by West Amwell police and the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office.

Swastikas, profane and offensive language, spelled out and abbreviated, were spray-painted on April 17 at the Mount Airy Village center; wires were cut to a second group of businesses and tires were slashed and license plates stolen from a car parked next to The Medicine Shoppe pharmacy near Lambertville.

According to authorities, Wetzel was charged with: three counts of criminal mischief, two counts of them for damage to the buildings; theft; and a disorderly person’s charge, for stealing licenses plates from a parked vehicle.

Reports of vandalism starting coming in to West Amwell Police patrol discovered that several businesses had been vandalized along Route 179. Electrical wires supplying power to the building were cut and swastikas and curse words were spray painted on the building’s exterior.

The spray painting was on the exterior of Mount Airy Village center. In addition to the cafe, the center is home to Downtown Performing Arts Center, which largely offers children’s classes and stages performances with all-age actors, including the summer series at Washington Crossing State Park; Hood Flooring – an area business for 38 years – and an arts center.

All are locally owned businesses, and the Mount Airy complex is owned by Thomas Hood, whose business previously was based in Lambertville.

Flemington Jewish Community Center Rabbi Evan Jaffe said on April 18, “You’ll get a lot of different opinion,” of whether all swastikas rise to the level of hate crime. It can be hard to judge” whether that’s the case, or if someone “just didn’t understand the symbolism. Do they just know that it’s some type of symbol that would give people a charge? It’s hard to know.”

The instance in West Amwell made him lean toward “general vandalism,” because the swastikas weren’t accompanied by anti-Semitic language such as “Jews go home,” he said. (Interesting!)

Wetzel posted $15,000 bail and was released.

Here’s what surprises me.

The rabbi quoted in the case is much more understanding of the motivation of the youth than you’d expect. Was the perpetrator motivated out of hate, or was it just mischief?

I clearly remember a case, also in western New Jersey, where a swastika was scrawled in chalk in front of the home of a prominent rabbi – who explained that he too thought the action to be a prank.

His rationale – it was written in chalk, and had the perp meant business, he’d have done more damage.
One might could deduce from that reasoning that – in this case – the crime was more out of hate.
But that’s for the county prosecutor to decide.

Were you the prosecutor, would you charge the youth who spray painted swastikas and obscenities on the sides of West Amwell businesses with a hate crime?

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