March 2015 Current Events: U.S. News
Here are the key events in United States news for the month of March 2015.
Justice Department Releases Report on Ferguson Police (March 4): The Justice Department releases a report showing that the Ferguson Police has discriminated against and violated the constitutional rights of the city's African-American residents. Using data from 2012-2014, the report includes stats such as 93% of the arrests made during that time were black citizens, based on an African-American population of 67% in Ferguson, Missouri. The report includes examples of racist remarks used in emails and interviews by Ferguson police and court officials, as well as incidents of tasers and dogs being used in excess on African-Americans. Through the emails and statements by police and court officials, the report also shows how those officials have been more focused on generating revenue, through fines and fees, than on the safety of the city's citizens. Overall, the report proves that the police department and city officials have been biased against the African-American citizens of Ferguson. Along with releasing the report, the Justice Department, which began their investigation into Ferguson after last year's shooting of Michael Brown, says it will not prosecute the shooter Darren Wilson. (March 11): Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson resigns. Five other employees resign or are fired after the Justice Department released its report, including a municipal judge and the city manager. (March 12): During a protest, two St. Louis-area police officers are shot in front of the Ferguson Police Department. Both officers are seriously wounded. However, their injuries are not life threatening. The shots are believed to have come from a gunman on a hill more than 200 yards away from the police station, according to witnesses. A manhunt is underway for the shooter. (March 15): Twenty-year-old Jeffrey L. Williams is arrested and charged with shooting the two officers. Williams says he shot the two police officers by accident from a car. He claims he was shooting at someone else. Williams has been charged with first-degree assault. The shooting has increased tension between demonstrators and police in Ferguson.
Boston Marathon Bombing Trial Begins (March 4): The trial of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev begins at the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse in South Boston, Massachusetts. During the trial's first day, Tsarnaev's attorneys surprise the court by admitting that he is responsible for the terror attack. Meanwhile, prosecutors show new video footage from the marathon scene and witnesses share their vivid, disturbing memories of that day. Tsarnaev faces a total of 30 charges, 17 of which come with the possibility of the death penalty.
Two Secret Service Agents Crash Car at White House (March 4): Two Secret Service agents crash through security tape and into a barricade at one of the White House entrances. Officials investigating the incident say that the two agents may have been drunk. This is the latest incident involving the Secret Service, which has been criticized and under investigation for other mishaps, including the White House security breaches last year. (March 24): Surveillance video footage is released showing the car driven by the two agents hitting a barricade around a suspicious package near the White House on March 4. The video provides evidence that the two agents interfered with a police investigation by hitting the barricade before crashing their car.
Supreme Court Hears Latest Challenge to Affordable Care Act (March 4): The Supreme Court begins hearing opening arguments in the challenge to King V Burwell. This latest case challenges the King V Burwell ruling made by a panel in Virginia which voted unanimously to uphold the Affordable Care Act despite the Internal Revenue Service rule that makes some people who buy insurance on federal exchanges eligible for subsidies. About seven million people are covered under the federal exchanges, and millions can lose coverage or pay more for it if the Supreme Court decides against the Obama administration.
Hillary Clinton Addresses Personal Email Use (March 10): In a press conference at United Nations headquarters, Hillary Rodham Clinton answers questions about her use of a private email account while she held the position of secretary of state. During the press conference, Clinton explains that she used one email account for convenience. "Looking back, it would've been better for me to use two separate phones and two email accounts," she says. (March 11): The Associated Press (AP) sues the U.S. State Department for the release of Clinton's email while she was secretary of state. This latest legal action follows several previous requests by AP, including one made five years ago. Filing the suit under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, AP is asking for correspondence relating to the Osama bin Laden raid and National Security Agency surveillance practices as well as emails with people likely to be involved in Clinton's probable campaign for the 2016 presidency.
Charlottesville Police Find No Evidence in University of Virginia Fraternity Rape Case (March 23): Police in Charlottesville, Virginia announce that they have found "no substantive" evidence in the University of Virginia fraternity gang rape case that Rolling Stone published a feature on last fall. After around 70 interviews and a four-month review, police investigators found "no evidence" that a party took place on Sept. 28, 2012, at the Phi Kappa Psi house where a woman identified in the Rolling Stone feature as Jackie said the rape occurred. Jackie has refused to cooperate with the Charlottesville police investigation. Another investigation, led by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, is still underway. Results from that investigation will be published in a few weeks.
New Religious Freedom Laws Cause Controversy (March 26): Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law. The new law causes an immediate backlash and boycott by those who feel it can be used to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals. Mayors in cities such as Seattle and San Francisco ban all official travel to Indiana. Businesses like Salesforce and Angie's List stop plans to expand within the state. Some Indiana business owners put signs in their windows that read "we serve everyone." The hashtag #BoycottIndiana trends on twitter. (March 31): The Arkansas Senate passes a similar Religious Freedom Restoration Act, also known as the Conscience Protection Act. Major businesses such as Apple, Acxiom, and Walmart publicly oppose the law. Doug McMillon, Walmart's CEO, urges Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto the bill.