Welcome to This Week in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. This week, evictions are continuing despite the federal moratorium, Virginia bans the “gay/trans panic” defense, President Biden announces his first slate of judicial nominees, and the second week of the trial of Derek Chauvin begins.
President Biden has announced his first slate of federal judicial nominees. The list of eleven includes three Black women to appeals court vacancies and the first Muslim American to serve on a District Court. The nominees’ average age is 48, and include former public defenders, prosecutors, sitting judges and attorneys at law firms. (WaPo).
Amid continued outcry, states have begun to push mental health training for police. California, New York and Utah have passed legislation to require updated training for police officers on how to interact with people with mental health problems. Some cities have also introduced co-responder programs, where a social worker or other mental health professional assists officers on certain calls. (AP).
The first week in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis Police Officer who killed George Floyd, has finished. Chauvin, 45 and white, is charged with killing Floyd by pinning his knee on the 46-year-old Black man’s neck for 9 minutes, 29 seconds, as he lay face-down in handcuffs. Floyd had been accused of passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a neighborhood market. (NYT, AP).
Many advocacy groups have stepped up bystander intervention training in response to anti-Asian hate incidents. The group Hollaback!, along with Asian Americans Advancing Justice/AAJC, has conducted free webinars laying out tactics to de-escalate and document incidents. (NPR).
Housing advocates say evictions are continuing at “full steam” despite the federal ban. Despite the federal eviction moratorium, landlords throughout the country are continuing to evict renters. Some judges hearing eviction cases have ignored the ban, and some landlords have found other reasons to evict tenants. (NBC News).
Multiple soldiers at Fort Sill, Oklahoma have been suspended from duty pending an investigation after a soldier said she was sexually assaulted. The woman made the formal complaint on March 27, and reports indicate she may have been assaulted by as many as 22 other soldiers. (AP, The Intercept).
Virginia has become the 12th state in the nation to ban the use of the “gay/trans panic” defense. Such a defense would allow a defendant accused of homicide to receive a lesser sentence by saying they panicked after finding out the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. (NBC News).