Justice Department to Track Use of Force by Police Across U.S. – as published by The New York Times on Oct. 13, 2016
The U.S. Justice Department announced that it will be developing an initiative to track the use of force by police due to the lack of government data and the series of protests that have ensued since 2014. The department will begin collecting nationwide data early next year. The article explains that law enforcement and government officials have yet to have an educated conversation about the issue of the use of force by police because of a lack of data. In the past two years, the news media has done a better job of tracking police shootings than the government. The Justice Department is authorizing $750,000 towards this initiative that is “designed to help local departments collect and publicly release information on a wider range of actions, including stops of citizens, searches, the use of force, shootings and other encounters.” Since the initiative depends on local departments voluntarily giving up this kind of information, the main concern is how the department will impose penalties on states that do not cooperate.
This is an important article because it puts the past years of protests against police brutality into perspective. Citizen unrest as boiled over in this nation due to the violent and visible injustices that have occurred involving police officers. Data is important to this conversation because it acknowledges a problem and gives way for further action and change to occur. However, it is troubling how long the federal government took to implement this.
This story consists of conflict and human interest. It was well-written and contained some good direct and partial quotes.
U.S. Suspends Construction on Part of North Dakota Pipeline – as posted on the New York Times on Sep. 9, 2016
After protesters demonstrate against the Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access oil pipeline, the U.S. government intervenes by temporarily delaying any further construction. While Energy Transfer Partners claim that the pipeline will help the economy by creating more jobs and “providing a reliable way to transport oil” from North Dakota to Illinois, many people are concerned with how it could affect the water supply and sacred ground it would be built under. The Standing Rock Sioux, a Native American tribe in North Dakota, are the main people who are fighting agains the company’s construction as they protect their water source, Lake Oahe. Over the past several days, there has been tension between the protesters, construction workers, and the company’s private security. The government halted the construction 40 miles around Lake Oahe but there is no indication of how long the delay will last or if the company will abide as they have not issued a response. Energy Transfer Partners has spent $3.7 billion on this pipeline and claim that they tried to meet with the Standing Rock Sioux to discuss the matter of building under their land but the tribe refused to meet with them. Despite the company’s inability to meet with the tribe, it had acquired all of the proper licenses and approvals to build the pipeline – or so they thought.
This is an important and interesting story to follow because these protesters are engaging in the democratic process as the exercise their right to demonstrate against what they believe to be wrong. It is important to know that is how our government is supposed to work. The article mentions that the Standing Rock Sioux did not expect the government to step in – let alone take their side in the matter. They were ready to file a law suit but their concerns were heard. Citizens have more power than they know and this story is a perfect example.