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December 2014 Current Events: U.S. News

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Here are the key events in United States news for the month of December 2014.

  • Holder Announces Plan to Address Racial Profiling (Dec. 1): U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announces a Justice Department plan to end racial profiling. Holder makes the announcement while speaking in Atlanta at the Ebenezer Baptist Church where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached. In Atlanta, Holder meets with community leaders and law enforcement, the first in a series of regional meetings in the United States. Holder has been asked to set up the meetings by President Barack Obama in light of the tense situation in Ferguson, Missouri after the Aug. 9 fatal shooting of teenager Michael Brown. In his Atlanta speech, Holder says, "In the coming days, I will announce updated Justice Department guidance regarding profiling by federal law enforcement. This will institute rigorous new standards - and robust safeguards - to help end racial profiling, once and for all. This new guidance will codify our commitment to the very highest standards of fair and effective policing." Meanwhile, Obama asks Congress for a $263 million spending package to improve police and community relations. Included in the package are cameras for police to wear in order to capture their interactions with civilians. Also, demonstrations continue with protests in more than 30 cities, organized mostly by students through social media.

  • Protests Grow After Decision in Eric Garner Case (Dec. 4): Protests continue to grow throughout the country after a Staten Island grand jury decides not to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner. While marching through streets, protesters shout, "I can't breathe," the last words Garner said before he died after being placed in a chokehold by Pantaleo in July. These protests come on the heels of a series of nationwide demonstrations over last month's grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri, not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. Crowds of protesters gather in New York, Boston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh. In some places, traffic is stopped. More than 200 people are arrested in Manhattan. In Boston, subway service is disrupted when protesters stand on the tracks. Demonstrators gather on Boston Common and shout, "Justice now," during the city's lighting of its Christmas tree.

  • Two New York City Police Officers Killed (Dec. 20): On Saturday afternoon, in Brooklyn, Ismaaiyl Brinsley walks up to the passenger window of a police car and shoots Officer Wenjian Liu and Officer Rafael Ramos in the head. Brinsley then runs into a nearby subway station and shoots himself. Before the incident, Brinsley vows through online posts to put "wings on pigs," in response to the recent killings of unarmed black men by white police officers. (Dec. 21): The death of the two officers only increases the tension of an already strained relationship between Mayor de Blasio and New York City police unions. Hours after Liu and Ramos are killed, Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch speaks to reporters outside the hospital where the two officers died. Lynch says, "There's blood on many hands tonight. Those that incited violence on the streets under the guise of protest that tried to tear down what New York City police officers did every day. We tried to warn it must not go on, it cannot be tolerated. That blood on the hands starts at City Hall in the office of the mayor." Officers turn their backs on de Blasio when he visits the hospital. (Dec. 26): A plane flies over New York City carrying this banner behind it: "De Blasio, Our Backs Have Turned to You." Former NYPD officer John Cardillo tweets a picture of the plane and writes that a group of retired and current officers paid for the banner. (Dec. 27): When Mayor de Blasio speaks at the funeral of Officer Ramos, officers can be seen outside the church turning their backs to the large screen broadcasting the service.