Protests erupt in California after shooting of black man

Black Lives Matter protesters stage a demonstration in front of Sacramento City Hall on Mar. 30, 2018 in Sacramento, California. (AFP)
Updated 31 March 2018
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Protests erupt in California after shooting of black man

SACRAMENTO: About 200 demonstrators squared off with police in riot gear overnight in California’s capital and more protests are planned for Saturday, after a autopsy on Stephon Clark contradicted the police account of the shooting of the unarmed black man.
Waving signs and chanting the 22-year-old’s name in unison, the protesters gathered at city hall before marching into the Old Sacramento part of the city, filled with bars, restaurants and tourists.
Protesters, some with megaphones and black masks covering their faces, shouted “Shoot us down, we shut you down,” along with expletives directed at the police.
More than 80 police and California Highway Patrol officers in riot gear blocked protesters from marching onto a highway.
Clark’s death was the most recent in a string of fatal shootings of black men by police that have triggered protests across the United States and fueled a national debate about bias in the American criminal justice system.
The father of two, was gunned down in the backyard of his grandparents’ house by police responding to a report that someone was breaking windows. Police said the officers who shot at Clark 20 times feared he was holding a firearm, but that he was later found to have been holding a cellphone.
Police have said he was moving toward officers in a menacing way when they fired. The incident was captured on a body cam video released by police on Wednesday.
The latest round of demonstrations were touched off by a new private autopsy on Clark that showed that none of the eight bullets hit him in the front, contradicting the police version of events, a lawyer for the deceased’s family said on Friday.
Clark was hit six times in the back, once in the side and once in the leg, the autopsy found.
Benjamin Crump, an attorney for the family of Clark said: “This independent autopsy affirms that Stephon was not a threat to police and was slain in another senseless police killing under increasingly questionable circumstances.”
The Sacramento Police Department said in a statement that it would have no further comment on the case until after the release of the findings of an official autopsy by the county coroner, and a review by state and local prosecutors.
Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist who conducted the independent autopsy, said at a briefing that any one of seven bullets that entered the upper half of Clark’s body could have killed him.
Clark’s shooting has sparked largely peaceful demonstrations in Sacramento. On several occasions over the past two weeks, protesters have marched, held demonstrations and twice blocked fans from reaching games played by the Sacramento Kings NBA basketball team at the Golden 1 Center.
At the funeral service for Clark on Thursday, veteran civil rights leader the Reverend Al Sharpton said: “We’re going to make Donald Trump and the whole world deal with the issue of police misconduct.”
The service at a church in Sacramento came a day after White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the shooting was a “local matter.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has said state investigators will oversee the investigation and review the police department’s procedures and practices.
Another protest is planned for noon on Saturday and is to be led by retired Sacramento Kings’ basketball star Matt Barnes, a statement from the organizers of the Unity and Action rally said.


India’s Modi faces calls for resignation over French jet deal

Updated 21 min 23 sec ago
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India’s Modi faces calls for resignation over French jet deal

  • Indian political parties have been gunning for Modi over the 2016 purchase of 36 Rafale planes from Dassault Aviation estimated to be worth $8.7 billion, saying he had overpaid for the planes and had not been transparent.
  • Political analysts say that the BJP is “losing in the perception war.”

DELHI: India’s prime minister was under fire over allegations of corruption in a military jet deal with France after comments by former French President François Hollande. Hollande was quoted as saying Narendra Modi’s government had influenced the choice of a local partner.
Indian political parties have been gunning for Modi over the 2016 purchase of 36 Rafale planes from Dassault Aviation estimated to be worth $8.7 billion, saying he had overpaid for the planes and had not been transparent.
The opposition, led by Congress President Rahul Gandhi, spent the past year alleging that the deal is a scam, in which India is overpaying for jets and the government is allowing a private company — billionaire Indian businessman Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defense — to benefit instead of state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
On Friday, Hollande, who cleared the intergovernmental deal when he was in office, was quoted as saying New Delhi had put pressure on Dassault to choose Reliance.
“We had no choice. We took the interlocutor that was given to us,” he was reported as telling the French news service Mediapart, fueling a political storm in India.
The Indian government, however, has insisted all along that it had nothing to do with Dassault’s decision to work with Reliance Defense.
Under Indian defense procurement rules, a foreign firm must invest at least 30 percent of the contract in India to help to build up its manufacturing base and wean off imports.
HAL was the sole contender for being the local partner of Dassault Aviation, but when the deal was sealed in 2015 during Modi’s Paris trip the Reliance Defense procured the contract .
“The PM personally negotiated and changed the Rafale deal behind closed doors. Thanks to François Hollande, we now know he personally delivered a deal worth billions of dollars to ...Anil Ambani,” said Mr. Gandhi in a tweet.
Gandhi further tweeted: “The PM and Anil Ambani jointly carried out a ... SURGICAL STRIKE on the Indian Defense forces. Modi Ji you dishonored the blood of our martyred soldiers. Shame on you. You betrayed India’s soul.”
Gandhi repeated the charge in a press conference in New Delhi on Saturday.
The BJP, however, says that there is no corruption.
“The fact that two sovereign heads of States negotiated a deal means that there is no room for corruption,” said Sudesh Verma, BJP spokesperson.
Talking to Arab News Verma emphasized that “the highest integrity was maintained in the deal. Now the Congress is not talking of corruption but favoritism. Merely by saying that Reliance Defense was favored by us would not cut any ice. These are insinuations and are irresponsible.”
Political analysts say that the BJP is “losing in the perception war.”
“No matter what the indian government says that perception is that the Indian government gave the offset contract to Anil Ambani, a guy who has no history of producing defense equipment,” says Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a New Delhi based political analyst.
He added: “The halo around Modi has been severely diminished after the recent revelations. This is something which it would be very difficult to live it down now.”