Roundup: L.A. protesters clash with police at anti-brutality march

Tuesday, October 24, 2000

Black-clad marchers protesting police brutality clashed with Los
Angeles Police Department officers in riot gear at police headquarters downtown
Oct. 22. Three protesters were arrested, several were struck with batons, and
some charged that officers fired rubber bullets at them as they attempted to
walk around Parker Center before the rally began. Police Capt. Jim Rubert said
the conflict began after about 700 protesters gathered outside the designated
rally site. Officers fired rubber bullets when protestors threw gallon-sized
jars and broken glass at the police, he said. The rally itself, part of a
national protest against alleged police corruption, was relatively peaceful.
Speakers criticized police actions, including the New York City police shooting
of West African immigrant Amadou Diallo, and the Pennsylvania death-penalty
case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Associated Press

Missouri: County moves to bar kids from playing violent video

The St. Louis County Council has tentatively approved a measure
prohibiting children from playing violent and sexually explicit video and
arcade games without their parents' consent. Modeling its bill after one in
Indianapolis that is now being
challenged in court, council members brushed aside objections that the
government has no authority to regulate the games' content, that the measure
would be challenged in court and that it simply wouldn't work. Representatives
of the video and arcade game industries and the local chapter of the American
Civil Liberties Union argued that the bill was an unconstitutional limit on
free speech because it regulates the content of games. Democrat Councilman Jeff
Wagener, the bill's sponsor, argued that violent video games filled with images
of blood and gore desensitize children to the pain and suffering of others.
Associated Press

Texas: Santa Fe school board votes down book ban

A southeast Texas school board known for espousing fundamentalist
ideology narrowly rejected a move to ban from its school libraries books some
board members think are immoral. In a 4-3 vote Oct. 19, the Santa Fe school
board defeated a proposal by two board members to prohibit books that include
vulgarity, profanity, references to homosexuality and other “deviant
behavior.” Those speaking against the ban said it would hurt children's
intellectual growth and bring more negative attention to a school district best
known for championing organized
prayer before football games. A recent U.S.
Supreme Court decision barring
student-led prayer before public school football games was the result of a
lawsuit filed against the Santa Fe Independent School District. Some teachers
were also concerned that a strict ban on profanity would keep them from
teaching many classics. They cited more than 30 books containing some profanity
that were used in their classes. Existing policy allows parents to challenge
books, which are eventually reviewed by the school board. The proposed policy
would have required that books be reviewed before they ever landed on shelves.
The district already requires
parental permission for students to read the best-selling Harry Potter
books, about a boy wizard. Associated Press

Colorado: Web site to offer campus crime stats

A new federal Web site
will offer crime statistics from 6,700 colleges and universities — as
soon as half the schools submit the figures. The Oct. 19 deadline for schools
to report campus crime statistics to the Department of Education Web site was
extended by a week after the site crashed. Most schools tried to send the data
in at the last minute. As of Oct. 21, figures for 3,380 schools were posted. In
addition to crime statistics offered by many schools on their own Web sites,
the federal site allows comparisons in three-dozen categories through the end
of 1999. The Web site is the product of a
law passed after the 1986 death
of 19-year-old Lehigh University student Jeanne Clery. Fellow student Joseph M.
Henry, who entered the dorm through a security door propped open by pizza
boxes, was convicted and sentenced to death. Clery's parents later learned that
38 violent crimes had not been made public in the three years before their
daughter's death. Associated Press

Alabama: 'Ten Commandments' judge seeks state Supreme Court

Republican Roy Moore, known around the country as the “Ten Commandments Judge” for
leading a campaign to display the Old Testament laws in his Etowah County
courtroom, is running against Democratic Appeals Court Judge Sharon Yates for
chief justice for the Alabama Supreme Court. Moore, who led a Ten Commandment's
crusade that encouraged Christians to fight for similar displays in other
states, promises, if elected, to try to restore what he calls the “moral
foundation” of American law — Christian principles and beliefs
— to society. Yates, in her campaign and biographical materials,
advertises her own church membership and has avoided criticizing Moore's
position on matters of faith, including his stance on the Ten Commandments.
However, the focus on religion in a judicial race worries some. Jim Evans, a
Southern Baptist minister in suburban Birmingham and president of the
Interfaith Alliance of Alabama, which supports the separation of church and
state, fears that adherence to a religion — Christianity in particular
— could become a “litmus test” for state candidates. The most
recent polls, conducted in late August, show the race close, with Moore at 41%
support, Yates at 35%, and 23% undecided. The margin of error was 5 percentage
points. Associated Press

Indiana: Hundreds gather in support of Ten Commandments

Reform Party vice presidential candidate Ezola Foster said the Ten
Commandments form the basis of the nation's system of laws and should be
displayed publicly. Foster was among about 400 people who rallied Oct. 22 in
Salem at the Washington County Fairgrounds in support of a controversial public
display of the commandments at the county courthouse a few blocks away. A state
law that took effect July 1 allows local government to publicly post the
commandments amid displays of other historical documents. The Indiana Civil
Liberties Union has sued to
remove the commandments from the Washington County display, claiming it
violates the constitutional separation between church and state. State Rep.
Jerry Denbo, D-French Lick, sponsor of the bill that created the state law,
also spoke at the rally. Similar battles to display the Ten Commandments
publicly are being fought in Kentucky,
Ohio and other states. Duane
Cleghorn, pastor of a Campbellsburg church and a rally organizer, said a
grassroots effort to support such displays is gaining momentum. Some people
attending the rally said they believed court rulings removing the Ten
Commandments and prayers from public schools have violated their First
Amendment rights. Associated Press

Alabama: State senator buys ads urging prayer at football

An East Alabama lawmaker is paying for ads urging students, players
and fans to say the Lord's Prayer aloud at football games. The ads titled
“Praying at Football Games” were published last week in the
Cherokee County Herald, the
Clay Times-Journal,The Cleburne News and
The Randolph Leader. Sen. Gerald
Dial, D-Lineville, a former high school football coach, plans to run the ads in
two Chambers County newspapers this week. Dial said the ads were costing him
about $400. In the ads, Dial says he is not asking for school officials to
allow prayers to be spoken on stadium speakers, which might violate court
rulings. He instead is asking athletes, students and fans “to join
together in a 'spontaneous' verbal praying of the Lord's Prayer.”
Associated Press

Kansas: Olathe library removing 'Christian' label from

The Olathe Public Library board will stop marking books as suitable
for Christians, after the practice drew attention from the American Civil
Liberties Union. Dick Kurtenbach, executive director of the ACLU of Kansas and
Western Missouri, whose group has threatened legal action, saw the labels as a
violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment. Courts have ruled
that the clause prohibits government from aiding one or all religions or giving
preference to one religion. With one member absent Oct. 18, the board voted 5-1
to remove the labels starting on Oct. 19. The practice started about two years
ago, according to board president David Ahlstrom. The formula that made a book
suitable for Christians was light, recreational fiction, without sex or
violence. The label did not go on religious-themed books. Associated Press

Idaho: Lawyer suggests state drop new religious-freedom

Idaho legislators should repeal a
new religious-freedom law because
it is unconstitutional and will trigger a wealth of lawsuits against employers,
said an attorney who challenged a federal measure in Texas. Idaho's new
Religious Freedom Restoration Act was a point of contention at the Oct. 20
Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce meeting and then at a Boise State University
forum. Although lawmakers overwhelmingly passed the law this year, they
suspended its effective date until next February after the issue blew up in the
waning days of the session. Supporters of the law defended it as protecting the
rights of Idaho's religious faithful. They denied it would allow violations of
state laws. Marci Hamilton, a visiting professor at New York University School
of Law who represented the city of Boerne, Texas, in
Boerne v. Flores, the
case that
found the federal religious-freedom law unconstitutional, said employers would
face lawsuits from workers who want to grow facial hair, wear unusual attire or
change the length of their hair based on claims of religious beliefs. The new
law would grant protections to people who may violate state or local laws on
the grounds of religious beliefs unless the government can prove a
“compelling interest” as to why the state should trump those tenets.
Gov. Dirk Kempthorne's spokesman, Mark Snider, said the governor is not
expected to intervene in the dispute. Associated Press

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