Criminal Justice

Judge Strips Unvaccinated Mother of Parental Rights Over Son

In an unprecedented violation of rights, a case out of Chicago, Illinois should worry even the most stringent pro-vaccine advocates. A well-meaning mother has been stripped of her parental rights in a tyrannical move by a Cook County judge. After learning she hadn’t taken the COVID-19 vaccine, judge James Shapiro stripped Rebecca Firlit of custody.

“I miss my son more than anything. It’s been very difficult. I haven’t seen him since August 10th,” Firlit told FOX 32 News in an exclusive interview.

Firlit has been divorced for 7 years and she has split custody with her 11-year-old son’s father. The two were in a virtual custody hearing earlier this month when Firlit says Shapiro randomly asked for her vaccination status.

Firlit told Shapiro that she opted out of the vaccine because she is susceptible to complications and adverse side effects due to health issues. After her honest answer, this tyrant judge—who would have fit right in to 1930s Germany—immediately stripped Firlit of all of her parenting time.

If she wants to see her son again, she will have to take the jab, the judge said. Firlit can no longer see her son in person and has been limited solely to phone and video calls.

“I think that it’s wrong. I think that it’s dividing families. And I think it’s not in my son’s best interest to be away from his mother,” Firlit said.

Firlit correctly stated that the judge has no business taking away her parental rights over her vaccination status. She told FOX 32 that she will be appealing the court order. Hopefully, she gets a different judge who is not as tyrannical as Shapiro.

“It had nothing to do with what we were talking about. He was placing his views on me. And taking my son away from me,” Firlit said.

Firlit has since hired an attorney, Annette Fernholz who says that the judge has no authority to make such decisions.

“In this case you have a judge, without any matter before him regarding the parenting time with the child deciding ‘Oh, you’re not vaccinated. You don’t get to see your child until you are vaccinated.’ That kind of exceeds his jurisdiction,” Fernholz said.

“You have to understand the father did not even bring this issue before the court. So it’s the judge on his own and making this decision that you can’t see your child until you’re vaccinated,” Fernholz added.

Sadly, even though the decision shocked the father, the attorney representing the father, Jeffrey Leving said they support the decision since we are in a pandemic and the child should be protected from his unvaccinated mother.

“There are children who have died because of COVID. I think every child should be safe. And I agree that the mother should be vaccinated,” Leving said.

Given the fact that vaccinated people can both contract and spread coronavirus, this move lacks all logic and reason. What’s more, as TFTP pointed out, the government cannot guarantee your safety. Any government who does promise safety is actually promising tyranny by taking over control of your life for the perception of less risk.

This move in Cook County is dangerous and it needs to be overturned immediately. No government agency has any authority to force people to undergo medical procedures to preserve their parental rights and any government agency who does this is an enemy to a free society.

This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission.

Cop Shoots Mentally Handicapped Teenager Having Crisis After Grandmother Calls 911

As TFTP reported earlier this year, body camera video showed officers with the Loveland Police Department attack 73-year-old Karen Garner as she walked home from Walmart. The officers neglected to provide aid, and they laughed and celebrated their brutality against an elderly woman with dementia. The video evidence showed that at all levels of the Loveland police department there are sadistic and depraved officers. Now, this same department is in the news once again—this time for shooting and gravely wounding an innocent developmentally delayed teen who needed help.

According to the family of Alexander Domina, he is severely developmentally delayed as a result of years of horrifying abuse during his childhood, which is why he now lives with his grandmother. Mari Newman, an attorney for the family says that Domina, 19, has an IQ of just 62.

“Alex’s grandmother called 911 because he was having a mental health crisis. She was very clear to the 911 dispatcher that he had not hurt anybody, that he could be talked down,” Newman said, according to KDVR. “And then when the officer came, she repeated that it’s a mental health crisis, he can be talked down, and yet a Loveland officer came in, guns a-blazing, and shot this young man three times.”

According to the family, Domina’s grandmother called 911 Monday night and told them Domina was holding a knife in the backyard but that he was not violent, had not hurt anyone, and only needed to be talked down to get mental health help. Unfortunately, however, instead of help he received bullets.

“My goodness, that is something no family member should ever have, where we can’t call 911 without the fear that something horrifying might happen just like this,” Newman said. “Instead of serving and protecting, will actually be the ones that ultimately shoot and maybe even kill an innocent young man.”

Yes, Domina is entirely innocent as holding a knife is not illegal and no officers were attacked or injured during the shooting. This department seemingly showed up looking for a fight where there was not one, but resorted to violence anyway—just like they did with Karen Garner.

“There is absolutely no legal, no moral, no human justification for shooting this innocent young man. He was very clearly in the throes of a mental health crisis,” Newman said. “His grandmother had said time and time again that he could be talked down, but instead of doing what needed to be done, Loveland Police officers did the same thing they did just a few months ago.”

Adding to the insidious nature of shooting a teenager with an IQ of 62—meaning he has the mental acuity of a 10-year-old—is the fact that after they shot him, they wouldn’t let his grandmother near him to help him or even hold his hand. According to Newman, the police officer failed to render aid to Domina as well.

“Unfortunately, instead of treating this family with compassion, the Loveland Police officer who shot Alex wouldn’t provide him with any medical care, wouldn’t even let his grandmother go over and hold his hand as he was crying out, as he was probably dying,” Newman said.

According to KDVR, as of Tuesday night, Domina was listed in serious condition at UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland. Newman said his condition was dire.

This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission.

Free At Last: Veteran Sentenced to Life In Prison for $30 Worth of Marijuana Released

Derek Harris is an honorably discharged veteran who put his life on the line for his country in Operation Desert Storm. His years of service to his country were but dust in the wind, however, to the state who threw him in a cage for the rest of his life for selling less than a gram of weed to an undercover cop. After rotting behind bars for more than a decade, Harris has finally gotten some good news as the drug war comes crumbling down.

According to his attorney, Harris was resentenced to time served and will soon be released. Prosecutors in Vermilion Parish agreed to release Harris from prison after the Louisiana Supreme Court granted him a new hearing last month, said his lawyer Cormac Boyle, according to FOX 59.

The Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads as follows: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. Here at the Free Thought Project we feel that life in prison without the possibility of parole for selling .69 grams of a plant is not only excessive but extremely cruel. Sadly, however, it is not unusual but at least Harris’ nightmare will soon be over.

Harris’ nightmare began back in 2008 when an undercover cop knocked on his door and asked to buy some weed. Harris had just .69 grams — barely enough to roll two joints — and sold it for $30. He was then raided by police, kidnapped and thrown in a cage. In 2012, 15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque found Harris guilty of marijuana distribution, a Vermilion Parish prosecutor invoked the state’s habitual-offender law, and Conque sentenced Harris to life as a four-time loser.

Harris had struggled with mental illness since he came back from Iraq. This led him down a path of addiction and to maintain that addiction, Harris sold drugs and stole small items. However, Harris never hurt anyone and all of his crimes were misdemeanors.

As reports:

Harris’ prior convictions dated back to a 1991 conviction for dealing cocaine, according to court filings. He was subsequently convicted of simple robbery in 1992 and 1993, simple burglary in 1997 and theft under $500 in 2005, said Cormac Boyle, an attorney with the Promise of Justice Initiative who argued Harris’ case Monday.

Boyle said ample evidence suggests a struggle with mental illness linked to his military service, not a penchant for criminality behind his rap sheet. But that mitigating evidence never came up as Conque dealt Harris a life sentence with no shot at parole under a habitual-offender law that gives prosecutors broad discretion.

“Courts have a duty to make sure the punishment fits the crime. That didn’t happen here,” Boyle argued at the initial review. “This court has always retained the right to say a sentence is excessive.”

“His prior offenses were nonviolent and related to his untreated dependency on drugs,” Louisiana Supreme Court Justice John Weimer wrote in his opinion.

Prosecutors argued that if Harris’ sentence was overturned, it will let hardened criminals back out on to the streets. But this is simply not true. This habitual offender statute is the reason Louisiana has become the incarceration capital of the entire planet.

“These extremely long and excessive sentences, you’re not really able to challenge them once you receive them and so we have a disproportionate number of people serving life without parole and a disproportionate number of people in prison,” says Mercedes Montagnes, Executive Director at the Promise of Justice Initiative.

“Mandatory life for the smallest amount of marijuana. Does it violate the 8th Amendment? Is it excessive? That’s what we’re talking about,” Chief Justice Bernette Johnson said.

It’s not just life sentences for pot that are excessive. Any time anyone is deprived of their freedom or extorted by government for possessing or partaking in this plant, it is cruel and excessive, yet sadly it remains a function of this entire system.

“Americans should be outraged that police departments across the country continue to waste tax dollars and limited law enforcement resources on arresting otherwise law-abiding citizens for simple marijuana possession,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said. We agree.

This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission.

After Two Years, Cop Charged For Shooting Mentally Ill Man and His Parents at Costco

As TFTP reported in June of 2019, panic erupted inside a Corona, California Costco as multiple people were injured and one man was killed during a shooting. Dozens of  shoppers immediately dropped to the ground as fears of the next mass shooting filled their thoughts. However, it turns out the “mass shooter” was an LAPD cop and his unarmed victims were a mentally disabled non-verbal man and his parents. After months of slow playing and refusing to release the surveillance footage, the Riverside County District Attorney announced that they would not charge the cop.

Now however, over two years later, the California attorney general’s office announced Monday it had filed manslaughter and assault charges against former officer Salvador Sanchez, 32, for shooting and killing Kenneth French inside the Costco.

“Where there’s reason to believe a crime has been committed, we will seek justice,” California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta said in a statement. “That’s exactly what these charges are about: pursuing justice after an independent and thorough review of the evidence and the law. Ultimately, any loss of life is a tragedy and being licensed to carry a gun doesn’t mean you’re not accountable for how you use it. No matter who you are, nobody is above the law.”

Bail for Sanchez was set at $155,000, according to Riverside County jail records.

The charges were shocking considering it was announced in 2019 that no charges would be filed, leading Sanchez’s attorney to refer to his client’s arrest as a “political stunt.”

According to the LA Times, under a state law that went into effect July 1, the attorney general’s office is required to investigate all fatal police shootings of unarmed civilians in California. While Bonta launched a team to do so last month, he said his decision to charge Sanchez stemmed instead from powers granted to him by California’s Constitution, which allow him to pursue a case when the law is “not being adequately enforced in any county.”

In March of this year, video of the aftermath of the shooting was released and it showed police giving special privilege to officer Sanchez after he killed a mentally ill man and shot his parents. They didn’t even immediately place him in handcuffs.

The incident unfolded on June 14, 2019 and Russell and Paola French spent weeks in the hospital after officer Sanchez opened fire on them and their son Kenneth, who had schizophrenia and was non-verbal.

No one disputes the fact that Kenneth, unprovoked, walked up to Sanchez as he fed his toddler a sample and slapped him from behind. Kenneth’s behavior here, most assuredly deserved a reaction, especially since Sanchez was holding his child. Any parent in their right mind would’ve gone into fight or flight mode and that is what Sanchez did, pulling his gun and identifying himself as a cop.

However, as Kenneth’s parents informed the cop that their son is mentally disabled and did not realize what he was doing. The cop continued to escalate anyway.

Surveillance footage released months after the shooting shows Kenneth being pulled away from Sanchez before Sanchez opened fire on him—meaning there was no longer a threat. Despite the lack of threat, Sanchez would fire a total of ten rounds in the store, even after Kenneth fell to the ground. Sanchez claimed that even though Kenneth was on the ground, he still had a “concentrated, intense look in his eyes, still looking at me and my son.”

According to police documents, however, Kenneth and his parents were over 20 feet away when Sanchez opened fire. To consider this a threat is inconceivable.

“Those people, probably like, got in the way, I don’t know,” Sanchez said in the body camera footage, referring to French’s parents, who were each struck with one of Sanchez’s bullets, alo0ng with multiple items inside the Costco.

When pressed for more detail about who he’d aimed at, Sanchez told officer Slane he didn’t want to answer more questions.

“Ok, he was hunkered down over here–Did you see a weapon?” Slane asked.

“You know, I’m not gonna talk any further without my lawyers,” Sanchez said.

According to the cop’s attorney, David Winslow, during this four seconds, Sanchez lost consciousness and when he stood up—despite Kenneth no longer attacking and despite Kenneth’s parents pleading with the cop—Sanchez had no other choice but to kill Kenneth and shoot his parents, in their backs.

Winslow said his client “had no choice but to use deadly force.”

However, the child was not injured at all and Sanchez was fine which is why the family’s attorney, Dale Galipo said the use of force was entirely unnecessary.

Galipo called Sanchez’s response “a complete over-reaction,” adding that it was disturbing that, “if anyone other than an off-duty police officer had shot three unarmed civilians in a Costco, that person would be in jail and facing criminal charges for murder.”

NBC 4 Los Angeles reports:

According to Corona Police interviews, multiple witnesses said Sanchez was struck in the head by French’s hand, as the two stood near a food sample table. Corona and LAPD detectives determined French never had a gun and no shooting took place before Sanchez opened fire.

Several witnesses said the strike, described as a punch or a slap, was unprovoked. One eyewitness told Corona Police that Sanchez collapsed to the floor so quickly she thought he had suffered a medical emergency; another said Sanchez “got down” to the floor, took a “defensive position,” and began shooting, according to detectives’ reports.

“After hearing Officer [Salvador] Sanchez identify himself as a police officer, I begged and told him not to shoot,” Russell French said after getting out of the hospital months later. “I said, ‘We have no guns, and my son is sick.’ He still shot. I thought people don’t do that.”

Both parents were shot in their backs, indicating “they were not facing Officer Sanchez’ direction at the time they were shot,” a statement from the firm representing the family said.

Kenneth also had his back to the officer when he was struck multiple times, Galipo said.

“Not only did we lose our first-born son, my husband and I sustained injuries that will impact our lives forever,” Paola French said in tears.

In what should’ve played out as an assault and battery by a mentally ill person, quickly turned into attempted mass murder and a murder by cop.

Though a grand jury failed to indict him, the LAPD found in June 2020 that Sanchez’s actions that night were unreasonable and had violated the department’s rules for use of lethal force. Sanchez was fired a month later.

Adding to the already incredibly suspect nature of this incident is the fact that in August, a Riverside Superior Court judge blocked the release of surveillance video that captured the entire ordeal. This is in direct contrast to the wishes of the victims.

For now, however, it appears that the family may see some form of justice.

This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission.

American Justice: Innocent Man Kidnapped, Drugged, and Caged in Mental Institution for Years

Every time Joshua Spriestersbach tried telling the doctors, nurses, and staff at a state hospital in Hawaii that they had the wrong man, no one listened and his protests were answered with drugs. After nearly three years, the blithering idiots running the hospital finally figured out their blunder and instead of fixing their mistake, they covered it up by quietly kicking Spriestersbach out on the street with only 50 cents to his name.

The Hawaii Innocence project is now representing Spriesterbach and this week they asked the court to correct this innocent man’s life. The filing by the Innocence Project explains how the state was looking for a man named Thomas Castleberry and grabbed the first person they saw instead, Spriesterbach.

According to the report, at the time, Spriesterbach was homeless and hungry and was waiting in a food line in 2017 outside of a Honolulu shelter. The line was long and he fell asleep only to be roused awake by a cop who was arresting him. Spriesterbach though he was being arrested for breaking the city’s ordinance of laying down on the sidewalk but he was sorely mistaken.

That officer falsely claimed that Spriesterbach was Thomas Castleberry, who had a warrant out for his arrest for violating probation in a 2006 drug case. Spriesterbach and Castleberry had never met, yet police and every official involved with Spriesterbach’s wrongful kidnapping claimed he was Castleberry.

According to the Innocence Project, the incompetence of the police and hospital officials reached utterly criminal levels as all they needed to do to figure out that Spriesterbach was not Castleberry was to compare fingerprints or photographs—but none of that was done.

Instead, officials claimed Spriesterbach was insane for telling the state they had the wrong guy and he was committed to a state mental facility in Hawaii.

“Yet, the more Mr. Spriestersbach vocalized his innocence by asserting that he is not Mr. Castleberry, the more he was declared delusional and psychotic by the H.S.H. staff and doctors and heavily medicated,” the petition said. “It was understandable that Mr. Spriestersbach was in an agitated state when he was being wrongfully incarcerated for Mr. Castleberry’s crime and despite his continual denial of being Mr. Castleberry and providing all of his relevant identification and places where he was located during Mr. Castleberry’s court appearances, no one would believe him or take any meaningful steps to verify his identity and determine that what Mr. Spriestersbach was telling the truth—he was not Mr. Castleberry.”

The incompetence along the way was systemic. Even his public defenders chose to ignore him instead of simply running his fingerprints or looking at a photo.

Luckily, after spending nearly three years being drugged in a cage, Spriesterbach crossed paths with a competent psychiatrist who finally listened to him. According to the Innocence Project, all it took was a simple Google search to verify Spriesterbach’s identity.

The psychiatrist then called a detective to come to the hospital and the detective easily verified Spriesterbach’s fingerprints and photograph to determine the wrong man had been arrested and Spriestersbach spent two years and eight months institutionalized, the petition said. Even more insidious is the fact that at the time police arrested Spriesterbach—claiming he was Castleberry—Castleberry was already in jail, and had been there since 2016.

Instead of apologizing immensely to the man they had forcibly drugged and caged for nearly three years, officials moved secretly to cover up their incompetence. They held a secret meeting and decided to dump Spriesterbach out on the street with nothing to his name, betting on the fact that no one would believe him.

“A secret meeting was held with all of the parties, except Mr. Spriestersbach, present. There is no court record of this meeting or no public court record of this meeting. No entry or order reflects this miscarriage of justice that occurred or a finding that Mr. Spriestersbach is not Thomas Castleberry,” the court document said.

Police, the state public defender’s office, the state attorney general and the hospital “share in the blame for this gross miscarriage of justice,” the petition said.

After the hospital dumped him out on the streets again, Spriesterbach ended up in a homeless shelter who contacted his family.

Spriesterbach now lives with his sister in Vermont and is extremely shaken.

“Part of what they used against him was his own argument: `I’m not Thomas Castleberry. I didn’t commit these crimes…This isn’t me,”‘ his sister, Vedanta Griffith, told The Associated Press, noting that she had spent nearly two decades searching for her brother. “So they used that as saying he was delusional, as justification for keeping him.”

“And then when light is shown on it, what do they do? They don’t even put it on the record. They don’t make it part of the case,” Griffith said. “And then they don’t come to him and say, `We are so sorry’ or, how about even `Gee, this wasn’t you. You were right all along.”‘

According to Griffith, Spriestersbach now refuses to leave his sister’s 10-acre property.

“He’s so afraid that they’re going to take him again,” she said.

This is not some simple mistake, this is gross incompetence of a callous system, with everyone along the way refusing to do their taxpayer-funded jobs. Instead of simply running a man’s fingerprints or looking in their system for a photo, they chose to lock him away and forcibly drug him for years. This is not some case of a bad apple framing an innocent man. This was the entire system—that constantly demands our trust and forces us to obey it—who couldn’t have cared less about kidnapping, caging, and drugging an innocent human being before discarding him like a piece of garbage.

This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission.

After 6 Months Paid Leave, Cop Finally Charged After Entering Father’s Backyard, Executing Him

As frequent readers of the Free Thought Project understand, police officers mistake innocent individuals for criminals all the time. Often times, their fear gets the best of them and these folks who have committed no crime and harmed no one, are beaten or arrested only to be exonerated down the road. One man in Idaho Falls, however, will not have a chance to be exonerated because the police who mistook him for a suspect—executed him.

On February 8, 2021, Elias Aurelio Cerdas, a 26-year-old officer who graduated from training less than a year before the shooting, entered the backyard of Joseph “Joe” Johnson, a father of four, mistook him for a criminal, and executed him.

For nearly six month, Cerdas remained on paid vacation without charges but all that changed this week and he has been indicted for manslaughter.

According to East Idaho News, Cerdas was not arrested after being charged but issued a summons for his arraignment at the Bonneville County Courthouse on Aug. 23.

According to police, shortly after midnight early that morning, a Bonneville County Sheriff’s Deputy attempted to make a traffic stop at which point the vehicle came to a stop and the driver of the vehicle fled into a residential neighborhood. The deputy involved in the pursuit told fellow officers they were looking for a man in a black shirt.

During the search, police identified the man and found that he had multiple warrants for his arrest including Felony Battery on an Officer, and two Failure to Appear Warrants with original charges of Resisting/Obstructing Arrest, and Providing False Information to Law Enforcement.

Police claim the suspect, Tanner Shoesmith, 22, had a history of violent altercations with law enforcement which appears to be a cover for the way they acted when they found and then killed Johnson.

According to police, the passenger in the vehicle that was originally pulled over never fled and stayed behind to talk to police. Police claim this passenger had received a message from the suspect, who—while on the run from the cops — took the time to message the passenger and send him his GPS coordinates.

According to police, these GPS coordinates—sent by the suspect who was running from cops, to the passenger he knew was still with the cops—showed him in the backyard of a residence on the corner of Tendoy Drive and Syringa Drive—Johnson’s backyard.

Police then surrounded this house and killed the father of four in his backyard after claiming he had on a black t-shirt and was holding a gun.

“Sometimes everyone does what they think is right and tragedies happen,” the chief said at the time.

After killing the innocent man, a brief investigation revealed that he was not the suspect and, in fact, lived in the home and had committed no crime. Moments later, down the road, a deputy reported seeing a man running and the suspect was located in the back yard of a house, hiding in a shed. The suspect, who police claim has a history of violent interactions with police, was taken into custody without incident.

Since that day, police have failed to release any more information in regard to the shooting.

The Idaho Falls Police Department issued the following statement following news of the indictment, they stopped just short of claiming Cerdas was framed:

“The Idaho Falls Police Department has always and continues to recognize the human tragedy in this incident, especially for the Johnson family. Along with the rest of our community, all of us at IFPD hope and pray for them and wish this had never happened. The Idaho Falls Police Department thanks the Idaho State Police and other law enforcement agencies that conducted the investigation as part of the Critical Incident Task Force. It is a professional, thorough, and unbiased investigation which followed established and proven protocols and procedures and reports the facts. While the Attorney Generals Office’s review of the investigation has been irregular and seemingly arbitrary, we have full faith in the criminal justice system and the great people of Idaho Falls who will ultimately decide the outcome of this case. We will continue to support and participate in this process as all of the facts surrounding this investigation are put before the people of Idaho Falls for review. Until the process is completed, Officer Cerdas will remain with the Idaho Falls Police Department. He will be on limited duties which do not include public contact or the use of police authority.”

If convicted, Cerdas faces a maximum of 10 years in prison though it is incredibly unlikely he will spend any time in jail at all.

In a post on a GoFundMe page set up for Johnson, his wife Bree expressed how devastated the death of their husband and father has left them.

Joe was the sole income earner for our family. He worked hard every day as a mechanic to support our family while I took care of the kids and our home. He was so proud to buy us this house a few years ago and make a nice life for us. Everything he did was for his family. Not only have our lives been destroyed by the unimaginable grief of his life being taken from us, but our safe space and family home was violated in the most traumatic way possible.

This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission.

Police Refuse Comment After Killing Hero Who Prevented Mass Shooting

In June, a deranged gunman, 59-year-old Ronald Troyke, began what was about to be a deadly mass shooting. His first victim would be Arvada Police Officer Gordon Beesley, and, according to the reports that evening, his next victim would be liberty activist and friend to many members of the Free Thought Project, including this author, Johnny Hurley. But it didn’t quite unfold like the original reports claimed. Hurley was actually the hero who stopped the gunman and when other officers arrived on scene, they killed the hero.

It has been over a month since Hurley’s death and other than police admitting they were the ones who killed him, no other information has come out. There were surveillance cameras which captured Troyke shoot officer Gordon Beesley and which filmed the interaction between Hurley and Troyke, and the officer or officers who showed up and killed him. However, none of this video has been released.

To those who witnessed the shooting, Hurley was hailed as a hero. He had stopped the deadly threat and saved many lives in the process. But his time as a living hero was only brief. Moments after saving countless lives, Hurley would be killed by police.

Police claim, though offered up no evidence to back it up, that Hurley had picked up Troyke’s AR-15 and an officer or officers opened fire on him, mistaking him for the shooter.

“He did not hesitate; he didn’t stand there and think about it. He totally heard the gunfire, went to the door, saw the shooter and immediately ran in that direction,” witness Bill Troyanos said. “I just want to make sure his family knows how heroic he was.”

“He turned back and looked towards everybody at the restaurant and told us that he (Troyke) is coming, that he is coming back and that we should get inside,” another witness who asked not to be identified said. “I ran to the back of the store, closer to the alley, kind of ‘nooked’ myself in a corner just to feel safe.”

“Mr. Hurley shot him. I think I heard 6 shots from his gun, maybe 5,” Troyanos said.

These are the only details police have acknowledged yet they refuse to release anymore.

After released a heavily redacted version of the video which omits the aforementioned details, the only other information to come from the Arvada Police Department was the following statement, noting that no more transparency will come from them:

“Further video or statements related to the officer involved shooting will not be released at this time. Any further release will be determined by the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office at the conclusion of the CIRT investigation.”

Below is the video. It stops after Troyke shoots officer Beesley and returns to his truck to grab his AR-15. It was everything that happens after this point that police are choosing to keep from the public’s eye, including Hurley’s own family.

is name to help pay for expenses and showing just how much people respect and miss him, it has raised over $80,000. You can donate to it here.

Johnny Hurley was an outspoken activist for freedom and peace and he spent the last decade or more of his life seeking those goals for the world. His dedication to the preservation of life was so strong that it actually cost him his own life.

Rest in Peace, Johnny Hurley. We will not stop until we have all the answers.

This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission.

ACLU Declares Second Amendment ‘Racist,’ Launches ‘War on Bill of Rights’

For years, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU, has chosen to stand against those who would attack our Constitutional rights. Even the Free Thought Project has been supported by the organization when a California sheriff attempted to force us to delete an article that was damning to his organization. Over the past several years, however, there has been a sort of rift happening inside the organization, with your right to self-defense right in the center of it.

While they have been vehemently fighting for the right of transgender athletes to compete in sports, the ACLU has largely chosen to remain silent on the Second Amendment. Though they have supported most every amendment in the bill of rights, their position on gun rights has remained ambiguous and nuanced—perhaps deliberately. But that all changed this week when they ran an article with an embedded podcast that claimed the Second Amendment is rooted in racism.

As Gleen Greenwald points out:

The ACLU is now waging war on the Bill of Rights.

ACLU’s position on the Second Amendment has always been nuanced: it’s an important constitutional protection, but one that’s collective, not individual.

Now they’re full on proclaiming parts of the Bill of Rights to be racist.

Without a single fact to back up their claims, an article on the ACLU’s website claimed “Anti-Blackness determined the inclusion of the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights, and has informed the unequal and racist application of gun laws.”

As those who have read history understand, this is not true at all. In fact, it is the exact opposite. Gun control—not gun rights—was pushed with the impetus of anti-Blackness behind it.

Nowhere in the Second Amendment does it say anything about the color of one’s skin determining their ability to own a weapon. However, slave-owning and racist lawmakers throughout history have attempted to disarm black citizens which is the exact opposite of “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

In fact, racist gun control goes back further than the constitution. Perhaps the first known attempt at disarming citizens in the new world occurred in 1751 when the French Black code was enacted requiring colonists to “stop any blacks, and if necessary, beat any black carrying any potential weapon, such as a cane.”

This attempt to disarm blacks was repeated under United States’ rule 50 years later when the U.S. purchased the Louisiana territory. According to a paper published in the Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy:

When the first U. S. official arrived in New Orleans in 1803 to take charge of this new American possession, the planters sought to have the existing free black militia disarmed, and otherwise exclude “free blacks from positions in which they were required to bear arms,” including such non-military functions as slave-catching crews.

The Ku Klux Klan often times attempted to enact similar “Black Codes” that barred the newly freed slaves from exercising their basic civil rights. One such example of these new laws was an act passed in the state of Mississippi that stated:

no freedman, free negro or mulatto, not in the military service of the United States government, and not licensed so to do by the board of police of his or her county, shall keep or carry fire-arms of any kind, or any ammunition, dirk or bowie knife, and on conviction thereof in the county court shall be punished by fine

This law clearly flies in the face of the Second Amendment, yet the ACLU takes their stance anyway.

After the passage of these laws, numerous studies concluded that the newly freed slaves had essentially been rendered defenseless against groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Disarming them, essentially made them slave once again — after their Second Amendment rights were removed.

Contrary to the ACLU’s inaccurate assertion, it wasn’t the Second Amendment that sought to disarm black people, it was attacks on it—which were similar in kind to what the ACLU is doing right now.

When Republican congressmen passed the Freedman’s Bureau Bill attempting to secure the right to bear arms for Blacks in the south, the Supreme Court overturned it in what was known as The Cruikshank decision. This decision emboldened groups like the Klan, who in turn began gaining control over local governments to pass racist new laws. As Reason magazine noted:

In deference to the Fourteenth Amendment, some states did cloak their laws in neutral, non-racial terms. For example, the Tennessee legislature barred the sale of any handguns except the “Army and Navy model.” The ex-Confederate soldiers already had their high quality “Army and Navy” guns. But cash-poor freedmen could barely afford lower-cost, simpler firearms not of the “Army and Navy” quality. Arkansas enacted a nearly identical law in 1881, and other Southern states followed suit, including Alabama (1893), Texas (1907), and Virginia (1925).

As Jim Crow intensified, other Southern states enacted gun registration and handgun permit laws. Registration came to Mississippi (1906), Georgia (1913), and North Carolina (1917). Handgun permits were passed in North Carolina (1917), Missouri (1919), and Arkansas (1923).

Pro-Black groups have been advocating against these attacks and racist interpretations of the Second Amendment for decades.

In 1966, California law did not attack the Second Amendment like it does today and it actually allowed citizens to open carry firearms. The Black Panthers exercised this freedom by organizing armed patrols to follow police and ensure they performed their duties professionally. The following year, thirty panthers staged an armed protest in front of the California state house declaring, “The time has come for black people to arm themselves.”

The protest frightened former California Governor Ronald Reagan who, in response, worked with the NRA to support the 1967 Mulford Act. The act lead to California having arguably the strongest gun laws in the nation. As Adam Winkler, the author of Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms later noted:

“The law was part of a wave of laws that were passed in the late 1960s regulating guns, especially to target African-Americans.”

Again, it was not the gun rights that were racist, as the ACLU would lead you to believe, it was gun control.

Fortunately, the National African American Gun Association, NAAGA, does not hold the same opinion as the ACLU. This group, which was officially started and launched on February 28, 2015, in honor of Black History Month with a single chapter in Atlanta, has grown to more than 75 chapters nationwide with more than 30,000 members.

Thankfully, according to NAAGA, most Black folks don’t agree with the ACLU’s stance on the right to self-defense.

According to NAAGA, the perception and reality of African Americans owning guns is changing. In 2012, the Pew Research Center conducted a national survey and found that only 29% of African-American households viewed guns as positive. In 2015, that same survey showed a dramatic jump to 59% where now a majority of African-American families see guns as not only a positive thing but, in many cases, a necessity. In today’s society, every member of our community, if they want, can legally purchase a gun. African Americans in record numbers are now joining gun clubs, going to the gun range, participating in outdoor hunting, and even participating in competitive shooting events. Single Black women are now one of the fastest growing demographic groups in the African-American community who are purchasing guns for protection. The future is bright for active firearm ownership within our community now and for years to come.

If you would like to know how all gun control is racist, listen to our podcast with Maj Toure, who educates people in urban communities on their Second Amendment rights and responsibilities through firearms training, when he says, “Black Guns Matter.”

This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission.

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