Reagan’s ‘morning in America’ has acquired a different resonance


We have another of those really long-running threads, focused on the problem of race in America, and particularly the issues highlighted by events in Ferguson, Missouri. There’s no shortage of material, and it keeps going and going, hampered only by the limitation of the blog medium: in particular, that I automatically shut down all discussion threads after 3 months, to block spam. That’s not enough time!

So here’s another semi-open thread — talk about America’s race problem. Forever, or until it’s fixed.

Comments

  1. Pteryxx says

    A discussion about the 2014 book Mass Incarceration On Trial by Jonathan Simon. Newsweek link (originally from Reason dot com): The Unconstitutional Horrors of Prison Overcrowding

    Imagine a society where convicts were sentenced to death by untreated renal failure or denial of chemotherapy. Modern Americans would surely consider such a place barbaric and cruel.

    Yet in the 1990s and 2000s, California essentially meted out such punishments, knowingly shoveling unprecedented numbers of convicts into overcrowded, under-equipped prisons to serve long, hopeless sentences.

    In 2006, “a preventable or possibly preventable death occurred” somewhere in California’s prison system “once every five to six days,” the U.S. Supreme Court observed in the 2011 case of Brown v. Plata. It’s hard to find medical staff even for functional prisons; vacancies in the California system ranged from 20 percent for doctors to 44 percent for X-ray technicians.

    But an excess of inmates, more than a lack of doctors, caused the state’s prison health care crisis. Built to house roughly 80,000 people, California’s prisons were stuffed with twice that many residents, prompting Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to declare a state of emergency.

    With every cell full, prison officials had packed gymnasiums with double and triple bunks. In one such makeshift dormitory, a prisoner was beaten to death. No one on the prison staff noticed for several hours.

    California conceded that such conditions violated the Eighth Amendment, but the state fought long and hard with prisoners’ rights lawyers over how to remedy the violations. In Plata, the Supreme Court affirmed a lower federal court order requiring California to reduce prison overcrowding to 137.5 percent of capacity over the next two years. (In subsequent litigation, the deadline was extended to 2016.)

    […]

    Those photographs, and the underlying facts, didn’t directly implicate the prisons of any other state. Still, Simon rejects the notion that Plata was a one-off, “a remarkable but unique judicial intervention—the Bush v. Gore of prison jurisprudence.” Instead, precisely because of California’s outsize place in the annals of recent prison history, Simon reads Plata expansively, as “the legal basis for nationwide dismantling of mass incarceration.”

    Simon agrees with everyone involved in Plata that California’s prisons amounted by 2011 to a systematic Eighth Amendment violation. But he goes one step further: The California example proves, he argues, that imprisoning massive numbers of people fundamentally cannot comport with the Eighth Amendment.

  2. rq says

    From Tashiliciously Shirked‘s link, above:

    After the assembly, Rebecca and Charles’ daughter asked why cops shoot “good people”— a conversation that Charles just wasn’t ready to have. The parents are outraged that they were put into a position to speak to their child about racism and are now seeking an apology.

    So basically, because the parents had issues communicating with their child, everyone else is at fault. The poor daughter, I hope she gets some answers from someone, and grows up far less close-minded than her parents.

  3. Pteryxx says

    I guess so – I would’ve picked a better topic if I knew that post would end up at #1, oops.

    Post #500 of the previous page: (link)

    Start of the previous page 1: (link)

    and my transcript and image descriptions of Ronald Wimberley’s comic essay “Lighten Up” surfaced at #489 here: (link)

  4. rq says

    Variety of stuff.
    Category Entertainment up first, but really it’ll be a mix of all the things.

    Fact Matters: Why Does The Media Insist On Calling Suge Knight A Rapper?! Suge Knight is on trial for mowing down several people with his car, and he has gone so far as to have himself declared blind to escape consequences. Anyway, not the point:

    Media Insists On Calling Suge Knight A Rapper

    Suge Knight has never spit a single bar on any song ever. He’s not a rapper. He’s a mogul. A Businessman. And whether you think he’s a good or just businessman or a thief and murderer, the fact remains that Suge Knight is a mogul. Not a rapper.

    Yet every time he’s been mentioned since allegedly murdering someone, he’s been called a rapper. But…why?

    What compels the media to insist that Suge has spit bars to achieve his fame? Pure laziness probably plays a part. But it probably has something to do with the desire to pain rap and rappers as people who commit murders and act insane in court. There isn’t a distinction between a business person in the rap field and a rapper – probably because a person of color in the rap diaspora solely known for business practices is unheard of to them. I bet if Steve Stoute or Dame Dash got arrested for knifing someone up, they’d get called rappers too.

    For example, remember when Chris Brown was called a rapper?

    Exactly.

    It’d be great if the media stopped placing their own racist expectations on Blackness.

    Please and thank you.

    So, again: SUGE KNIGHT IS NOT A RAPPER. So stop it.

    That’s the point.

    Snoop Dogg Developing HBO Drama About 1980s Los Angeles

    He just appeared on the season final of “Empire,” so it’s only fitting that Snoop Dogg is slowly building a TV empire of his own.

    The rapper announced Friday in his keynote speech at SXSW that he will exec produce a drama about 1980s Los Angeles with director Allen Hughes (“The Book of Eli”) and writer Rodney Barnes (“The Boondocks”).

    The show will center around a family living in inner-city L.A. and will explore the effects of Reagan-era social policies on the area. Snoop Dogg grew up in Long Beach during that era.

    “HBO is the No. 1 network in the world as far as developing and having these types of shows come to life,” he said during his SXSW Q&A with longtime manager Ted Chung. “This is a dream come true to be able to tell a story that’s going to be told the right way on the right network.”

    The musician’s five-part documentary series “Snoop & Son: A Dad’s Dream” recently aired on ESPN. The show followed Snoop Dogg and his football star son, Cordell Broadus, as he prepared to start a college football career.

    I love the picture used in the article – remind me again, though, how many main actors of colour with wealth and power can be found in Game of Thrones?

    This is a touch old, a couple of days, but the bar outside of which Martese Johnson was so brutally arrested released a statement, which is here: Trinity Irish Pub Releases Statement on Wednesday’s Incident

    STATEMENT FROM MANAGEMENT OF TRINITY IRISH PUB – MARTESE JOHNSON INCIDENT

    The management of Trinity Irish Pub located at 1505 University Avenue on UVA’s Corner wish to issue this Press Release to clarify the events of the morning of March 18, 2015 with respect to the Martese Johnson incident, which resulted in his assault and arrest by three Alcohol Beverage Control special agents.

    First, Trinity is restaurant and Irish pub which has been serving the UVA community for 7 1/2 years. Trinity is a place of public accommodation. Trinity does not nor has it ever discriminated on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin which is prohibited by Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Trinity currently employs about 130 individuals of all ages, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and color. Employees and our guests are treated with the utmost respect, not because its required by law but because it’s the way to run a successful establishment.

    Because it serves alcohol to its patrons, Trinity is licensed and regulated by Virginia’s Alcohol Beverage Control Board. In a college town, ensuring that underage patrons are not served alcohol is a priority. The management of Trinity have found it best to enact a strict 21 and over policy after 10pm during busy evenings for the establishment, generally Tuesday through Saturday evenings. Trinity believes this notably limits the possibility of underage students attempting to gain access to the restaurant. A 10pm timeframe is fair because it allows underage students to still dine at our restaurant for a late dinner. At 10pm, Trinity switches over to our late night food menu. Once 10pm comes, under no circumstances do we allow anyone under the age of 21 to enter the establishment. However, there are special circumstances, such as parties renting out the restaurant, when Trinity will allow underage patrons. This rule is communicated to bouncers on a repetitive basis. At 10pm, Trinity also locks up its patio furniture to assemble a barrier to form a line to the door. This gives us the best way to control the line, keep patrons safe, and most importantly, prevent underage students from sneaking in. Once 10pm comes, Trinity makes sure that each and every single person who wishes to enter the restaurant is ID’d.

    Three bouncers are typically positioned at the door. Two bouncers constantly check ID’s while the third controls the exit and monitors the number of patrons to ensure fire code safety. If any questions arise about ID’s, the bouncers are instructed to ask one another first and if they are still unsure, a manager will assist and solve the issue. Trinity believes this structured policy enables the restaurant to create a safe environment and administer to all laws to the state of Virginia.

    Prior to Tuesday evening, the management of Trinity were told by ABC agents that their establishment would be watched over closely on St. Patrick’s Day because “they were Irish.” In order to ensure that they were in compliance with ABC regulations, Mr. Kevin Badke, Managing Owner of Trinity Irish Pub, was on the restaurant premises and at the front door for a good part of the evening. On or about 12:15am, he spoke with Fire Marshall officials as well as ABC agents who were positioned outside the restaurant and closer to the street on University Way.

    Sometime shortly thereafter, Martese Johnson, who had been in the line described, stepped up to Mr. Badke and handed him his ID. Mr. Badke did not look at the birthdate or the photo, but he did note that the ID was from Illinois. Mr. Badke is from Illinois. Mr. Badke asked Mr. Johnson to provide the zip code on the ID. According to Mr. Badke, this is a test he frequently uses to determine if a patron is using a fake ID. If the ID doesn’t belong to them, they are not familiar with some of the details on the ID. Mr. Johnson provided the wrong zip code, although it was close to the one on the license. Mr. Badke immediately responded that he could not accept it. Mr. Johnson, probably realizing the reason for the error, stated that he had moved. At this point, Mr. Badke and Mr. Johnson had a brief conversation because Mr. Badke is from the south side of Chicago, where Mr. Johnson indicated he was from. In Mr. Badke’s opinion, Mr. Johnson did not appear to be intoxicated in the least. Despite the conversation, which was cordial and respectful, Mr. Badke reiterated that he could not permit him to enter. He handed Mr. Johnson his ID back and Mr. Johnson began walking in a north westerly direction up University Avenue. A few moments later, Mr. Badke heard a commotion, turned, and saw Mr. Johnson on the ground about 30 feet further up on University Avenue with ABC agents detaining him.

    There have been reported comments that management of Trinity were belligerent towards Mr. Johnson or that Mr. Johnson was belligerent towards management. Those allegations are patently untrue, as the brief conversation that occurred was polite and cordial. Mr. Badke’s observation was that Mr. Johnson was a disappointed patron.

    There have been reports that Trinity engages or engaged, in this incident, in racial profiling in not permitting Mr. Johnson to enter. The rationale for allowing patrons to enter – being familiar with the zip code on their own license – is color, gender, race, and ethnicity-blind.

    Comments made by a previous employee by the name of Dante DeVito that Trinity instructs its management to scrutinize persons of color for entry, are patently false. Mr. DeVito was employed by Trinity for six months and was terminated by management for cause. His comments are those of a disgruntled former employee and are not accurate.

    Trinity has been interviewed by and is cooperating with the State Police who indicated that they are investigating the use of excessive force by the ABC officials who arrested Mr. Johnson.

    A long statement, but detailed. And presents an account of the incident pretty much the polar opposite of the police report.

    Good for her, but did she really have to?
    Mo’ne Davis Forgives Baseball Player Over Insult Asks College to Reinstate Him

    Mo’ne Davis continues to show why she’s the most mature 13-year-old alive — we’ve just learned she reached out to the president of Bloomsburg University and asked him to reinstate the baseball player who called her a bad name on Twitter.

    TMZ Sports spoke with a rep for Bloomsburg who tells us … President David L. Soltz received an email from Davis and her coach in which they ask that Joey Casselberry’s dismissal from the team be reconsidered.

    Casselberry was booted from the squad this weekend after he posted a tweet saying, “Disney is making a movie about Mo’ne Davis? WHAT A JOKE. That s*** got rocked by Nevada.”

    The team said Casselberry violated the athletic department’s social media policy — and possibly the school’s code of conduct.

    While Bloomsburg says they respect Davis’ opinion and praise her for being incredibly mature about the situation — the school will NOT reinstate the baseball player … saying, “Right now we’re standing firm.”

    For his part, Casselberry apologized for the tweet and says he’s a huge Mo’ne Davis fan.

    I hope the school does not reinstate him. Does not.
    And I’m with @JamilahLemieux re: Mo’Ne Davis. Black folk, especially black women, are always expected to forgive white male trauma.

  5. rq says

    Video: Ferguson demonstrators throw bottles at police

    WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS LANGUAGE THAT SOME VIEWERS MAY FIND OFFENSIVE

    FERGUSON, MO (KTVI) – Demonstrators met in Ferguson for a march against police brutality on Sunday. YouTube user Rose Tullis posted video of the protesters outside a fast food restaurant.

    A Ferguson police officer can be seen standing outside the eating establishment. Protesters verbally harass him and then start throwing water bottles at him. He leaves the area while a woman sings, “We ain’t scared of the po-po; they tried to kill us on the low-low.”

    The crowd disperses after the incident.

    NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio Offers Landlords $1,000 For Housing Homeless Families

    In efforts to reduce homelessness in New York City, Mayor Bill De Blasio is offering New York landlords a cash incentive to house the homeless in their properties. Those interested in doing so will be given a $1,000 signing bonus is addition to the city funds that will pay for the homeless families’ rent. Some New York City residents are not impressed.

    Here’s the Madame Noire link: NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio Offers Landlords $1,000 For Housing Homeless Families

    The program is operated through New York City’s new Living In Communities Rental Assistance Program, which is trying to get homeless families out of the shelter system, which is being stretched to its limits. For homeless families to qualify in this program, they must have full-time jobs but cannot afford the costs of moving and rent. Others in the program must also be escaping from domestic violence or have special needs that leave them at a financial disadvantage.

    The homeless families are expected to contribute 30 percent of their income to their rent in this program and the amount of assistance depends on the family size. For example, a family of two will receive $1,268 in assistance. That figure increases depending on the family size.

    Many are skeptical about this program because of the stigma that surrounds homeless people.

    The library in Ferguson offered a place for children and adults to go in the summer during the worst of the protests. Scott Bonner awarded the Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity.

    Scott Bonner, director of the Ferguson Public Library in Missouri, has been selected as the recipient of the second annual Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity. Daniel Handler, also known as Lemony Snicket, will co-present Bonner with the prize with National Book Award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson on Sunday, June 28 during the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference & Exhibition in San Francisco. Bonner will receive a cash prize and an object from Handler’s private collection.

    On August 9, 2014, the shooting of unarmed teenager Mike Brown by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri set off a string of protests, demonstrations, riots, civil unrest, arson and violence. But in the middle of this climate of fear—where local disruptions caused businesses to board up their windows and delayed the start of the school year for the 12,000 youth in the Ferguson-Florissant School District— the Ferguson Public Library remained open and engaged, thanks to Bonner and the absolutely vital and tireless work of every member of his staff . […]

    When the governor submitted an economic injury disaster declaration in the area, Bonner brought the Small Business Administration into the library to make low-interest loans and aid available to local Ferguson businesses. And when the library began receiving too many patrons and running too many programs to house, Bonner secured space at the church next door and kept on going. While buildings were being burnt down, he was building the community of Ferguson.

    The Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity was established in 2014 by the American Library Association in partnership with Daniel Handler. The prize, which is co-administered by ALA’s Governance Office and the Office for Intellectual Freedom, annually recognizes and honors a librarian who has faced adversity with integrity and dignity intact. The prize is $10,000, a certificate and an odd, symbolic object. Bonner will be joining last year’s prize winner, Laurence Copel, who was honored for her work in the Lower Ninth Ward Street Library of New Orleans.

    Well, congratulations!!!

    Ferguson shooting suspect confessed on hidden camera, warrant reveals

    A confidential informant wearing a hidden video camera recorded accused gunman Jeffrey L. Williams admitting that he fired the shots that seriously wounded two police officers during a demonstration in Ferguson, Mo., according to search warrants obtained by Yahoo News.

    Williams was arrested March 15 and charged with two counts of first-degree assault, one count of firing a weapon from a vehicle and three counts of armed criminal action. An officer from the St. Louis County Police Department was struck in the shoulder. A member of the nearby Webster Groves Police Department was hit below his right eye. Both are now recovering at home.

    At a news conference announcing the arrest, St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch said that Williams’ confession was key to bringing the charges but declined to give details of how the admission was obtained.

    Jerryl T. Christmas, Williams’ attorney, told Yahoo News last week that his client said “he never fired a weapon” and was recanting his confession. Christmas claimed that officers pistol-whipped Williams during the arrest, allegations the St. Louis County Police called false.

    So it wasn’t an official confession?

    Battered Ferguson Taps Into Crowdfunding

    The 69-year-old Ms. Morris initially struggled to find funds to rebuild her Fashions R Boutique. But a college student from a nearby city telephoned her within days after the fire to talk about the possibility of her using social networking to raise money, a process known as crowdfunding.

    The student called twice more before Ms. Morris agreed to the plan. Then, he and two friends set up a profile page on the crowdfunding website GoFundMe, to eventually raise more than $20,000 to help reconstruct her store.

    At least 26 Ferguson area businesses claiming damage from the unrest that followed last year’s fatal police shooting here of an unarmed black teenager have raised a combined $447,198 on GoFundMe. The average amount raised on the San Diego-based service by businesses’ campaigns related to the unrest was about $17,000, according to tallies posted online.

    By comparison, according to data reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, 69 small businesses in Ferguson and other affected communities have received an average $9,525 apiece in no-interest loans or grants from the Small Business Relief Program, a public-private partnership. The fund, which raised $1 million from private-sector and government sources, has provided a total of $657,235 in aid to area businesses, many of which need working capital.

    Using GoFundMe—which takes a 5% cut of donations and charges a processing fee of about 3%—shows how cash-strapped small businesses are turning to crowdfunding in times of need. The cash raised via crowdfunding has been just a fraction of what most businesses need to rebuild, but it has helped people like Ms. Morris, who is trying to plug the inevitable gaps that remain, even with insurance.

    Another popular crowdfunding site, Kickstarter, says broadly that it is aimed at raising funds for creative projects, from “experiences” to “art” but it prohibits projects that are raising money for charity or for financial incentives, like equity, according to its website.[…]

    Business owners and entrepreneurs nationwide raised $3 million through 23,600 GoFundMe campaigns last year, more than double the number in 2013,according to the company. More broadly, “business and entrepreneurship” accounted for roughly 41% of the more than in $10 billion funds raised via crowdfunding platforms in 2014, according to estimates by Massolution, a division of Los Angeles-based research and advisory firm Crowdsourcing LLC.

    Yet a gas station in nearby Dellwood raised less than 2% of the $75,000 it sought on GoFundMe, and Cakes by Nette, a bakery, raised $805, or 8%, of the $10,000 it sought, according to the site.

    Charles Davis, owner of the Ferguson Burger Bar & More began a GoFundMe account in November to help provide Christmas baskets for needy families, including a whole turkey and the pan to cook it in. Extra money would have gone to help his business, which suffered a number of days of forced closure during protests. But the little more than $4,000 they raised was just enough to buy 150 baskets.

    “If there had been excess, we would have used it to help with our loss,” said the entrepreneur, who added that his business threw away thousands of dollars in perishable food during the upheaval. “It is what it is,” he said with disappointment.

    “It could have been, or should have been, a good resource,” James Knowles, Ferguson’s mayor, said of crowdfunding. Not everyone took full advantage of the opportunity, he said, and the businesses that benefited the most were those who found a champion, like the college students who helped Ms. Morris. Some didn’t get that boost.

    Many local business owners took out loans to start their companies, and now feel they can’t afford to take on additional debt, even in the form of no-interest loans. So, Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander started a GoFundMe campaign with the Regional Business Council and North County Inc., aimed at businesses in Ferguson and adjacent Dellwood and Jennings that were burglarized or damaged since riots began in August 2014.

    As of Sunday, $40,916 has been raised on GoFundMe, according to the campaign’s page. Mr. Kander’s spokeswoman said a total of $118,569 has been raised, including offline donations. A committee of community leaders is overseeing the distribution of funds, she said.

    “No tax dollars are going to be used in this initiative at all,” Mr. Kander said in a video posted on the page for the fund. “It’s solely money that’s going to be raised from the St. Louis community and hopefully, from around the country. That’s where you come in.”

    Good luck to them!

  6. rq says

    Upcoming Ferguson town hall with the DOJ is open to public but banning all media ;
    I’m at #BeyondFerguson panel discussion. Already filling up despite a half hour until it begins. Good lineup includes @MsPackyetti + @deray.
    “Community” graffiti next to a traffic tickets and felonies office. Yes I’m in #Ferguson


    #BlackUVADemands CALL TO ACTION

    Solidarity Week
    March 23 – March 29

    Organize your campus into action

    CLICK HERE to download full set of #NotJustUVA Social Media images

    CLICK HERE to access editable flyer for your school/organization

    In support of Martese Johnson, and people using the #NotJustUVA hashtag on twitter.

    President Obama Weighs In On Racist Fraternity Chant “On Any Given Day Somebody Is Doing Something Stupid”

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    President Obama Weighs In On Racist Fraternity Chant “On Any Given Day Somebody Is Doing Something Stupid”
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    10 hours ago – By Bossip Staff Categories: Bolitics, News, Quote of The Day

    President Obama Says We Should Measure Progress By The Public’s Reaction To Stupidity

    President Barack Obama has weighed in on the controversy over SAE’s racist rant which was caught on tape. While he deems the foul clip as an act of stupidity, he says the more important matter is how the public rallied together in outrage.

    According to AOL reports:

    ​President Barack Obama shared his reactions to the video of University of Oklahoma fraternity brothers uttering a violent and racially-charged chant in an exclusive interview with Sam Stein of the Huffington Post released on Saturday.

    “Look, at any given point on any given day, somebody is doing something stupid out there,” Obama said when asked for his reaction to the viral clip. “In the age of the Internet, it’s going to attract attention. I don’t think this is the first time that somebody at a fraternity has done something stupid, racist, sexist. It won’t be the last.”

    The discovery of the video spurred the school’s decision to kick the fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, off campus. School President David Boren ultimately decided to expel two students over the incident too, a move the president praised.

    “What was heartening was the quick response from President Boren, somebody who I know well and I know who has great integrity,” he said.

    Two weeks after he marked the 50th anniversary of the civil rights marches at Selma with a speech in which he spoke about the advances that have been made in the fight for racial equality, Obama reflected on how a moment like the SAE chant fits into our country’s evolution.

    “The way we have to measure progress here is not, is there ever going to be an incident of racism in the country. It’s how does the majority of our country respond?” he said. “And on that front, there’s no doubt that the overwhelming number of students at the University of Oklahoma, and around the country, think that kind of behavior is deplorable and don’t accept it.
    “Frankly, 30 years ago or 40 years ago, there might have been a different reaction and more tolerance for that kind of racist chant,” he added.

    Do you think he’s right to celebrate our progress or do you think more needs to be done before we can applaud ourselves for reacting “correctly” to ignorance?

    Interlude: Space. I just love that it is a black woman speaking for NASA here. Vanessa Wyche

    “Absolutely amazing” is how I would describe my career at NASA. Having the ability to have a profession in one’s area of interest is rewarding, but being able to do that and work at NASA—well, that’s pretty awesome. I began my NASA career at Johnson Space Center (JSC) as a project engineer assisting researchers from universities with developing hardware to conduct biomedical experiments on space shuttle astronauts. How cool is that! As a young girl fascinated by science and how the human body works, I never could have imagined I would have this opportunity—this is a dream come true.

    Growing up, I liked to figure out how things worked. I opened and tinkered with my toys and got pretty good at fixing things. Until one morning when I attempted, unsupervised and unauthorized, to fix my grandmother’s TV set and literally received the shock of my life—and a major scolding as well. However, instead of being deterred, my curiosity was piqued. Unfortunately, there weren’t resources in my community for youth who were interested in engineering. My elementary and middle schools did not even have science laboratories.

    My parents were both Educators who exposed their children to a variety of activities (sports, music, dance, scouting, religion). Although we did not have science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-related camps, they supported whatever educational passions we pursued. One Christmas they gave my brother a chemistry set and we did experiments in the backyard. This was the beginning of two future engineers (my brother is a chemical engineer).

    As a child, I was not very familiar with NASA. While I was in college studying to be an engineer, I learned one of the Challenger astronauts, Dr. Ronald McNair, was from a town in South Carolina only 35 miles from my hometown. Dr. McNair’s achievements marked an awareness of the endless possibilities available to me, including working at NASA. I was inspired to pursue my dream of obtaining a Master of Science in Bioengineering. My first job was working for the Food and Drug Administration as a medical device evaluator, determining the effectiveness and safety of hardware and systems used in diagnostics, treatment and prevention of diseases. Although the work was rewarding, I was elated when I had the opportunity to transfer and work at NASA.

    My career began as a Project Engineer in the Space Life Sciences Directorate developing biomedical hardware to fly on the Space Shuttle. That progressed to Project Manager for suites of hardware systems for medical and microgravity experiments. This led to responsible positions in human spaceflight systems engineering and operations, including Flight Manager for several missions in the Space Shuttle Program, and Director of Operations and Test Integration in the Constellation Program. Previously, I served as Acting Director of JSC’s Human Exploration Development Support until my recent assignment as Assistant to the Center Director supporting tactical operations and strategic planning for JSC.

    I’ve had the thrilling opportunity to develop hardware flown on the Space Shuttle and to the Russian-Mir Space Station, supporting training and data collection on astronauts—before, during and after flight. I’ve also been responsible for the development and integration of hardware and systems, including ensuring astronauts were trained for research missions on the Space Shuttle and for missions which assembled the International Space Station.

    With the support of NASA, I conduct outreach at schools, churches, and via organizations such as Boy Scouts, Jack and Jill of America, and the Links, Incorporated to inspire interest in STEM fields. For the past two years, I’ve spearheaded a partnership between JSC’s African American Employee Resources Group and the Port City Chapter of the Links, Inc. to sponsor a science fair at a Houston elementary school. Engineers from across JSC and of various backgrounds volunteer to help children design and conduct experiments, as well as assist with hosting the fair. Perhaps some of these children will be inspired to pursue careers in STEM fields.

    The most important lesson I’ve learned in my life is “don’t let your environment define you.” Even though I did not have the facilities and an accessible role model, because of my determination to pursue my dream, I enjoy a most rewarding career.

    And there’s video at the link, too.

  7. rq says

  8. rq says

    Meet the NAACP history makers, for 2015:

    During Black History Month, we asked NAACP supporters to send us the names of people they know who have recently taken their civil rights activism to the next level. Whether on the national scale, or in their own backyards, we want to recognize all of the courageous brothers and sisters taking a stand against injustice, discrimination, and inequality. Hundreds of names were submitted, and we are so proud to share them all.

    Here’s five of them, of whom you may recognize a couple:

    Rev. Traci D. Blackmon

    Rev. Blackmon is pastor of Christ the King United Church of Christ, located just outside of Ferguson, MO. Also a nurse, she took time away from her job to organize in Ferguson during some of the most violent days of protest following Michael Brown’s shooting.

    Rev. Blackmon has been an extremely vocal and influential voice in the fight against police brutality and racial profiling. She helped to plan the Mother’s March, where mothers from across the country — many of whom had lost children to gun violence — assembled to call for peace. She is credited with bringing St. Louis together at a time of great despair and unrest through her activism and organizing.

    Her unflagging commitment to giving voices to the voiceless and to empower those who may feel powerless has made her an incredible force in the fight for justice.

    Patrisse Marie Cullors

    #BlackLivesMatter became the national rallying cry of anti-police brutality and anti-racial profiling activists in 2014. Patrisse is one of the founders of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, as well as the founder and director of Dignity and Power Now, a grassroots organization in Los Angeles that fights for the dignity and power of incarcerated people and their families.

    Patrisse has spent the past year traveling state to state, organizing communities to respond to police violence, and amplifying black and black queer voices to the forefront. In the fight against the excessive criminalization, policing, and incarceration of Black communities, she has been an excellent leader. Her hard work, courage, and dedication are a true a inspiration for today’s advocates of justice and equality!

    Londrelle Hall

    Londrelle is the founder of the Run For Justice campaign, which aims to raise $1 million to provide support for the family of Michael Brown, and in the longer term, establish afterschool programs to empower and enrich black youth.

    After learning of Michael Brown’s tragic death, Londrelle and his friend Ray Mills knew they had to do something to raise awareness of the injustice black youth face in our communities, and to engage in peaceful protest. So they set out to run from Atlanta, GA to Michael Brown’s memorial in Ferguson, MO — a 20 day, 540-mile journey in the name of justice.

    Londrelle inspired so many people along the way to speak out in the name of civil rights and racial equality, and continues to inspire both budding and seasoned activists every day.

    Keith Knight

    Keith Knight tackles issues of race and inequality through humorous, but hard-hitting art in the form of cartoons. For more than two decades, Keith has explored and exposed issues of racial profiling and police brutality in America through his comic strips. His slideshow, They Shoot Black People, Don’t They: A Cartoonist’s look at Police Brutality presents a thought-provoking record of the history of police brutality over the past 20 years.

    Keith’s ability to inspire conversation and action through his comic strips is a testament to the power art can have on a movement, and a shining example for all those looking for their unique way to make change in the world.

    DeRay McKesson

    The late-2014 protests in Ferguson, MO following the shooting death of Michael Brown were not lead by a single voice or organization, but Deray McKesson has been one of the most notable activists in the growing grassroots movement.

    In the days following Michael Brown’s death, Deray traveled to Missouri for the first time to protest. He harnessed the power of social media to share information from the ground in Ferguson, and aid concerned activists in their path to action. He, along with co-creator Johnetta Elzie, maintain a newsletter, Words to Action, to connect activists with articles, actions, and resources to keep the movement going strong.

    Online and on the ground, Deray continues to be a leader in the fight for justice and equality for all.

    Martese Johnson Expected to Enter Not Guilty Pleas, I should hope so!

    The University of Virginia student arrested by Alcoholic Beverage Control agents last week plans to plead not guilty at his first court hearing.

    Twenty-year-old Martese Johnson is set for a hearing Thursday morning, March 26, on charges of public intoxication and obstruction of justice stemming from the incident on the university’s Corner.

    The law office representing Johnson says the commonwealth attorney’s office has asked to continue the case until the last week of May so that State Police can complete an investigation of the arrest.

    Investigators say they’ve fielded dozens of phone calls and emails, and collected videos and photographs relevant to the case.

    Video at the link, plus a couple of press releases from the police and Martese’s lawyer.

    This is sort of opposite to those wanting to keep all video of police from the public.Cops in Colorado Could Soon Face $15,000 Fines if they Try to Stop People from Filming

    A package of bills that are designed to increase police oversight have been introduced in the Colorado Legislature. One of the measures included in the package would impose up to $15,000 in civil penalties for cops who interfere with someone trying to film them.

    “Primarily, it came up as a result of the number of news reports we’ve been seeing about police officers telling people, ‘Give me your camera,’ or taking the data away, and that is unacceptable conduct,” said Rep. Joe Salazar, a Democrat from Thornton and co-sponsor of the bill.

    According to 7 News Denver, Salazar said House Bill 15-1290 has support from both Democrats and Republicans and is not intended to penalize police.

    “It takes a very special person to be a police officer,” Salazar said. “We want to honor them, but at the same time, we have a few bad apples who need to be aware that their conduct now has major, major consequences.” […]

    However, it is apparent that the “existing process” isn’t enough to deter police from violating the rights of individuals. We’ve seen several cases, recently, in which police in Colorado have violated the rights of people who record them.

    Last month we reported on the case of a man shopping at a Wal-Mart who saw police arresting a shoplifter. When the man filming, Chris Hoover, started recording this altercation with police, he was arrested, for filming.

    Also, in November, a man filmed Denver police as they beat a man and his pregnant wife. Officers took his tablet and deleted the video. However, they were too late as it had already uploaded to his Dropbox account.

    Here’s a few shots from the hearing for former officer Manney, shooter of Dontre Hamilton.
    Manney has been permanently terminated from MPD. #NoJusticeNoCompromise #JusticeforDontre #BlackLivesMatter
    ‘There’s no other appropriate sanction. His incompetence led to a chain of events that led to a death.’ -Chief Flynn #DoBetterMKE
    Flynn on recommending permanent discharge of Manney: ‘A man is dead. The degree of harm is about as significant as it could possibly be.

    Sounds like someone is making a good decision out there.

  9. rq says

    San Diego police body camera report: Fewer complaints, less use of force

    Complaints have fallen 40.5% and use of “personal body” force by officers has been reduced by 46.5% and use of pepper spray by 30.5%, according to the report developed by the Police Department for the City Council’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee.
    U.S. issues recommendations for San Diego police
    U.S. issues recommendations for San Diego police

    By year’s end, the department plans to have nearly 1,000 officers equipped with the small cameras, including patrol officers, gang-unit officers and motorcycle officers. Currently, 600 officers have the cameras.

    The report to the council is based on preliminary statistics gathered for 2014 and January 2015.

    “Body-worn camera technology is a win-win for both the officer and the community,” Deputy Chief David Ramirez said in the report, set to be discussed at Wednesday’s meeting.

    The department began testing the use of body cameras in January 2014, two months before city leaders called for an audit of the department’s managerial practices by the U.S. Department of Justice. […]

    Still to be decided is the issue of what video from the cameras will be released to the public and media. The department’s restrictive policy has brought criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union and others.

    Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman, a strong supporter of body cameras, has said that she is reluctant to release the videos, in part, because citizens shown on the videos have privacy rights.

    But in the case of a controversial officer-involved incident, like the shooting in Ferguson, Mo., Zimmerman said she would be inclined to release the video as soon as possible.

    Sounds like there’s more to it: FBI bringing in ‘profilers’ on the Otis Byrd hanging case

    The FBI is enlisting the help of their fabled Behavioral Analysis Unit in the case of the hanging death of Claiborne County man Otis Byrd.

    Byrd, 54, was found hanging by a bedsheet from a tree not far from his last known residence Thursday after having been missing for two weeks. Local authorities called in the FBI upon finding his body, and the probe has been an all-encompassing one for federal, state, and local law enforcement over the last few days.

    The NAACP immediately released Byrd’s identity, and called for the Department of Justice to get involved in the case.

    According to FBI.gov, the Behavioral Analysis Unit “focuses specifically on criminal human behavior in an attempt to better understand criminals—who they are, how they think, why they do what they do—as a means to help solve crimes.” Officials said they hope the BAU will help narrow down whether Byrd’s death was a suicide or a homicide.

    FBI Special Agent in Charge Don Alway said investigators continue to do interviews through the weekend, but now they’re putting every new detail under the microscope to see if there are any new leads that develop.

    “We’re really going to ask for folks again to dig deep and think if there’s anyone who has communicated with Mr. Byrd, especially from March 2 on, no matter how small that communication could have been,” he said.

    Authorities are still waiting on autopsy results to help determine the manner of death as well.

    “We’re hoping that autopsy report will shed light into the definitive cause of death,” Alway said.

    Florida, for a moment: Investigation reveals that four Florida officers filmed KKK video, texting about ‘killing n*ggers’

    These exchanges aren’t just disturbing because they are racist, but they must have widespread implications on how these four men performed their essential duties. To believe that these men felt the way they clearly feel about African Americans, but that their attitudes had no significant impact on how they investigated cases and treated people is preposterous.

    Will they be allowed to serve as officers elsewhere? Will nothing be done to look at their prior cases? These essential questions and more must be answered.

    You can actually read their exchanges at the link, if you feel like it. I don’t feel like citing them here. :P

    Issues in Philadelphia? Noooo. Philadelphia Police Department needs reforms, Justice Department finds

    “The department has much work to do in the months and years ahead. Our assessment uncovered policy, training and operational deficiencies in addition to an undercurrent of significant strife between the com­munity and department,” the Justice Department report says.

    Philadelphia police officers do not receive “regular, consistent” training in the department’s policy on deadly force, and the department does not make it easy for officers to use stun guns, leaving them with fewer options to avoid using deadly force, the federal agency found.

    Ramsey asked for the federal review in 2013 when he noticed officer-involved shootings were increasing even though violent crime and assaults against officers in the city were on the decline.

    From 2007 through 2014, there were 394 officer-involved shootings in the city, according to the report. In recent years, the number of such shootings decreased from 58 in 2012 to 28 last year.

    The review found that deficiencies in the way the Philadelphia police handle internal probes of officer-involved shootings and alleged officer misconduct leave “segments of the community feeling disenfranchised and distrustful of the police department.”

    That distrust might be exacerbated by apparent racial disparities in officer-involved shootings. The report says 59% of the officers involved in shootings from 2007 through 2014 were white, while 81% of those struck by police gunfire were black.

    In that same eight-year span, Philadelphia police shot 59 unarmed suspects, roughly 16% of the total number of people they shot. Forty-five of those unarmed suspects were black, the report found.

    “These racial disparities have created a deep mistrust of law enforcement in communities of color,” Reggie Shuford, executive director of the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. “The police department must begin to repair this relationship by emphasizing de-escalation and mutual respect in their interactions rather than relying on force.”

    The federal review also found that officers involved in those shootings from 2007 through 2014 were relatively inaccurate. Officers hit their targets just 18% of the time, according to the report, and accuracy plummeted as the number of shots in an incident increased. Officers who fired only once during a clash with a suspect hit their intended targets about half of the time, the report says.

    And Mother Jones on the same: Philadelphia Cops Shoot and Kill People at Six Times the Rate of the NYPD

    In Philadelphia, a city with a vastly smaller population than that of New York, has seen a much higher rate of police shootings in recent years. According to a new report published on Monday by the US Department of Justice, police violence disproportionately affects Philadelphia’s black community, and officers don’t receive consistent training on the department’s deadly force policy.

    The 174-page report results from an investigation the DOJ launched in 2013 at the request of Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, during a time when officer-involved shootings, including fatal incidents, were on the rise, even as violent crimes and assaults against the police was on the decline. “Police carry baggage and lack legitimacy in some communities,” Ramsey, who has been appointed to chair the Presidential Task Force on 21st Century Policing, recently told the New York Times. “And for us to change the paradigm, we have to understand why we are viewed in this way.”

    The DOJ’s Philadelphia investigation, which examined nearly 400 deadly force incidents between 2007 and 2013, provides a rare close-up of the patterns of officer-involved shootings. The report follows on the heels of another damning report the DOJ published on the city of Ferguson, where federal investigators found systematic racial discrimination among public officials and police.

    While it’s nearly impossible to know how much the findings in Philadelphia represent police practices across the country—there is no comprehensive national data on police officers’ use of force, as we reported last year—the DOJ probe does reveal an alarming rate of shootings when compared to other large departments. Philadelphia’s police force, which is one-fifth the size of the NYPD, saw dozens more officer shootings resulting in deaths and injuries than those by the NYPD over the same period.

    Key findings with graphs at the link.

    MO lawmakers introduce bill to prevent food stamp recipients from buying fish (among other things), because the gods forbid those poor people try and enjoy themselves once in a while, right???

    Missouri lawmakers are on a new quest to further demoralize and degrade citizens who rely on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). State Representative Rick Brattin has introduced a bill that would, among other things, prevent food stamps from being used to purchase fish and steak. From House Bill 813:

    A recipient of supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits shall not use such benefits to purchase cookies, chips, energy drinks, soft drinks, seafood, or steak.

    More from the Riverfront Times:

    “There’s a long history of trying to dictate what somebody should be buying on food stamps. The program itself has been really stigmatized,” says Washington University professor Mark Rank, who authored Living on the Edge: The Realities of Welfare in America.

    ………

    “There have been a lot of studies on fraud, when there were actually people buying, trading and selling their EBT cards, but it was a very small percentage of the overall population,” he says. “But fish is good for you — why should that be prohibited?”

    Good question. Why would healthy foods be prohibited? Perhaps because state Rep. Brattin has images of welfare queens sitting around and dining on steak and lobster? Maybe state Rep. Brattin should take the Welfare Food Challenge and find out for himself just how hard it is to prepare healthy meals on a food stamp budget.

  10. rq says

    #BeyondFerguson: 7 Quotes from Deray Mckesson

    NPR’s Michele Martin was back in Ferguson, Missouri moderating a second Beyond Ferguson forum sponsored by St. Louis Public Radio (for a recap on the first forum click here).

    While the forum included Ferguson activists like Rev. F. Willis Johnson, Deray Mckesson and Brittany Packnett, notable figureheads were missing. Mayor James Knowles, the Ferguson Police Department and Missouri Fraternal Order of Police all declined to participate in the forum.

    Mostly likely, they didn’t want a repeat of the first forum where tensions ran high as community members expressed their outrage.

    With the recent Department of Justice Ferguson report that excoriated Ferguson’s Police Department, they couldn’t afford anymore public embarrassment. Despite their absence, some of the most poignant moments of the forum came from Mckesson who offered his thoughts on a wide variety of issues pertaining to Ferguson. Below are some of his best quotes of the night.

    See link for more, and that blog seems to have several other good entries, including this one: #BlackLivesMatter: Top Stories You Should Read, which in turn has several excellent links to follow.

    this week @Rap Sessions sits down w/ activists who have inspired a generation @TefPoe @Nettaaaaaaaa @brownblaze

    Dontre Hamilton Shooting: Fired Milwaukee Cop Won’t Get His Job Back

    The firing of Milwaukee police Officer Christopher Manney last year was proper, and Manney won’t get his job back, a police review board decided Monday night in the death of Dontre Hamilton, a mentally ill black man whom Manney killed with 14 gunshots last year.

    The three-commissioner panel unanimously agreed that Police Chief Ed Flynn was right to fire Manney in October, NBC station WTMJ reported. Prosecutors declined to prosecute Manney in December, saying he’d shot Hamilton in April in self-defense — a decision that set off several days of protests in Milwaukee.

    Manney is appealing his dismissal, but the review panel declared that he violated police rules in initiating the patdown that led to the shooting of Hamilton, who had been sleeping in a park. Investigators said Hamilton had schizophrenia and had stopped taking his medication.

    The U.S. Justice Department has said it will review the shooting to determine whether it should pursue a federal civil rights prosecution.

  11. rq says

    NYC Commissioner’s Ancestors Were Slaves Of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Family.

    Cumberbatch is his father’s name and the old man’s an actor too, although Dad wasn’t brave enough to use it and instead works as Timothy Carlton. “Cumberbatch — it sounds like a fart in a bath, doesn’t it?” he laughs. “What a fluffy old name. I can never say it on a Monday morning. When I became an actor, Mum wasn’t keen on me keeping it. ‘They’ll be after you for money,’ she used to say.”

    By “they” he means the descendants of Britain’s slave trade. “There are lots of Cumberbatches in our former Caribbean colonies,” he says. “When their ancestors lost their African names, they called themselves after their masters. Reparation cases are ongoing in the American courts. I’ve got friends involved in researching this scar on human history and I’ve spoken to them about it. The issue of how far you should be willing to atone is interesting. I mean, it’s not as if I’m making a profit from the suffering — it’s not like it’s Nazi money.” But the Cumberbatches, he thinks, were “pretty dodgy”.

    Wow. There I was, ready to ask: “How’s your mum looking these days?” Here Cumberbatch is, ‘fessing up to a dark family secret. But the acting world turns strangely. Cumberbatch, in his professional life to date, has already impersonated William Pitt the Younger in the film Amazing Grace about the campaign to end the slave trade. “Maybe I was trying to right a wrong there,” he says with an edgy smile.

    That’s from an interview in 2007. Note bolded part. I would say that his family being where it is, is a result of profiting from the slave trade, so no, he can’t just absolve himself of the past like that. Good for him for not hiding his name, though.

    Here’s a call for support:
    Smh I grew up out there! RT 1x, the text attached reads as follows:

    Ok, so Saturday my son went to a party in St. Charles with two white friends. He was target because of the color of his skin. He was called N*GG*R and everything else I didn’t name him at birth. Needless to say, my baby was jumped by 8 white boys. He was kicked in the head, punched and left for dead. Had it not been for his friend Tim jumping in telling him to go they could have killed my baby. Tim sustained stitches and a concussion due to this. Anyone that knows my son knows he’s not an aggressive kid, so why him… oh yeah I forgot he was black and that’s a crime. I am pulling together supporters so that St. Charles will charge them with a hate crime which means it turns Federal and anyone under 18 would be automatically certified as an adult. Most of these boys were 18 while all alone my son just turned 15. If you are interested in being a supporter please respond to this post.

    It’s by a Qiana S. Futrell on Facebook.

  12. rq says

    Evening news.
    I feel like this belongs here, too: George Takei’s Legacy Project

    The Story of Allegiance

    Allegiance tells an epic, multi-generational tale about the Kimura family, in particular a brother and sister, Sammy (Glee’s Telly Leung) and Kei (TONY-Award winner for Miss Saigon, Lea Salonga), whose bond is tested after they choose opposing paths to save their family. Their journeys take them from the rich California heartland, to the wind swept wastelands of Wyoming, to the battlefields of war-torn Europe.
    Framed by an American war hero (played by me) recounting his family’s experience, Allegiance offers a rare and personal look into a time in our history when everyday citizens became heroes.

    George Takei in Allegiance. Photo courtesy of Henry DiRocco

    Allegiance is the reason I first took to the Internet, knowing that I’d need to build an audience for this untold story. Today, I am grateful to connect daily with millions of inspiring, funny, passionate individuals who prove what I have long known to be true – that our world is a better place when we all participate. I invite you to join me on a special endeavor to ensure that our vital work continues for generations to come. […]

    The museum, Allegiance, and I share the same mission: to tell stories that educate and ensure that we never forget, and never repeat, the tragedy of the Japanese American internment. By giving today, your dollar is helping Allegiance get to Broadway this fall and helping create a new endowment for the museum, a permanent source of unrestricted revenue for this wonderful institution.

    More at the link.

    You have to read it to believe it. Have a bingo card handy. Ferguson and Benghazi’s troubling parallels

    Ferguson has become the liberal Benghazi. It is more of a cause than a place, more of an ideological statement than an incident. Ferguson was not the racist murder it was thought to be, and Benghazi was not an incident in which the Obama administration’s incompetence or timidity allowed four Americans to die. The facts argue otherwise.

    Both events tell us something about the passions of our times. It was quickly apparent what had happened at Ferguson. Michael Brown was not on his knees, hands up, when he was shot. He was rushing at the police officer.

    Did he deserve to die? No. But did Darren Wilson shoot him for no reason? Again, no. Did the Justice Department later find that Ferguson’s police force was a cesspool of racism, incompetence and corruption? Yes. But did any of that mean that Wilson killed Brown in cold blood or that Brown was shot because he was black? No and no.

    A grand jury studied what happened and did not indict Wilson. Eric Holder’s Justice Department reached the same conclusion. Let me offer another conclusion: If Brown was not criminally shot because he was black, then possibly the cop was accused because he was white. Who was the stereotyped individual here?

    Pause: And how instrumental was the deep-seated racism within the Ferguson PD in Darren Wilson stopping Michael Brown on the street in the first place? The author treats these things like two separate events. To continue:

    We live in a time where facts that do not fit an ideology or grievance are merely disregarded — or alternative ones concocted: Do you think campus rape is a problem not taken seriously? Then pillory the accused, deprive them of basic rights, say your critics are blaming the victim — and fling the dross of questionable statistics into the air.

    Do you think black men are casually killed by the police? Then concoct a statistic, as Arlene Eisen has done, and watch with satisfaction as it goes viral. The widely used “#every28hours” hashtag turns out to be a hash of statistics and hunches, all of it infused by leftist cant about “the national security state” and the “perpetual war on black people.”

    Do you think that the African American men who are killed by the police are solely victims of racism? If so, then ignore that, in 2013, about 44 percent of the nation’s murder victims were black — and some 90 percent of those victims were killed by other black people. There is a problem here, and it does not go away by yelling “Racist, Racist” at the numbers.

    Yes, black-on-black crime is a problem. But so is the disproportionate dying of unarmed black people at the hands of white people and law enforcement officers. And not just dying. The author at the end admits that he doesn’t believe racism to be gone, but he also “also believe[s] that distorting the facts can impede progress. The dead of anywhere — Ferguson or Benghazi — do matter. And so does the truth.”

    Event tonight: Can #media & local communities work together to heal the #RacialDivide? WATCH LIVE: The Aspen Institute Community Dialogue on Healing the Racial Divide, with a livestream link.

    In the aftermath of the events in Ferguson, Staten Island and elsewhere, race relations are at the forefront of the minds of many Americans. Specifically in St. Louis, the relationship between local communities and law enforcement officers assigned to protect them is worsening, the quality of information shared is both positively and negatively affected by the new media environment, and the city remains one of the most racially segregated metropolitan areas of the United States.

    To address these increasingly significant issues, the Aspen Institute Communications & Society Program is convening the “Aspen Institute Community Dialogue on Healing the Racial Divide,” March 24, 2015, at the Renaissance St. Louis Grand Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri.

    More information on the panels, etc., at the link, but here’s a quick look at one: @timjeby #RacialDivide session #Ferguson with @SuzanneMalveaux, Don Marsh, @deray & @GilbertBailon.

    West coast. SFPD Shut Down by Protesters Chained to the Gates After Police Murder Innocent Man

    Over 200 protesters took to the streets and shut down the San Francisco Mission Police Department for four hours and fifteen minutes on Monday.

    They did so by handcuffing and shackling themselves while holding a mock trial as others chained themselves to the building’s gate and benches. The demonstration took place to mark the one year anniversary of officers fatally shooting Alex Nieto, 28. Nieto was shot 15 times after police mistook the taser from his security job for a pistol. […]

    Police claim that they “feared for their lives” after Nieto had drawn his taser from 75 feet away. However, witnesses argue that the young man never pointed it at anyone.

    The Officers’ bullets struck Alex in his forehead and at least nine other places leaving his body grossly disfigured and mortally wounded, according to Justice4AlexNieto[dot]org.

    They also report that eleven out of the fifteen shots caused downward trajectory wounds. That is, eleven shots were fired from above Alex into his face, temple, chest, shoulders, and back. Seven of those shots are in a head to toe downward trajectory indicating that Alex was in a completely defenseless position when officers fatally wounded him.

    After executing Nieto, the officers searched his vehicle without a warrant using the keys obtained from their victims body. They searched his family’s home, and immediately took to the media to begin the character assassination. His parent’s first heard of Nieto’s death from relatives in Mexico who had seen his name printed in the press. It seemed to many that the department was investigating Nieto instead of the shooting.

    For six months the department withheld his autopsy report. The family had to wait nine long months for the Department to release the names of the four shooters. They were released only after a federal judge ordered transparency in the matter.

    Protests and demonstrations have continuously taken place to demand justice for Nieto. Unfortunately, SFPD officers have continued the killing and have taken the lives of Amilcar Perez-Lopez, O’Shaine Evans, Matthew Hoffman, and Alice Brown in the last year since Nieto’s death.

    Since 2000, there have been 97 officer-involved shootings resulting in 33 deaths at the hands of San Francisco police officers.

  13. rq says

    Starbucks pulls plug on race talks; now what? Soledad O’Brien weighs in.

    This is what it’s come to. Starbucks asked its local baristas to have conversations about race. Not the federal government or Congress. Not academia or the NAACP. But a national coffee shop chain waded into an area of social conflict that is as old as the slave ships and as modern as stop-and-frisk policing.

    Then people went crazy.

    Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz was accused of ruining that magic morning moment when customers fork over $4.15 for a “grande” coffee with warm skim milk and vanilla extract. A barista writing “Race Together” on cups was called an affront to mornings and coffee — such important conversations belonged inside a hallowed institution, not a common coffee shop, where apparently people no longer chat.

    A lot of the reaction came via snipes on Twitter from people calling Schultz out on Starbucks’ diversity, the hue of his mochaccinos, or his liberal “brewing” of controversy. The nastiness drove the company’s communications chief briefly off Twitter. Then, after barely a week, Starbucks shut down the whole darned thing, pushing ahead with a hiring and media initiative instead. […]

    People do need to talk about race. Not because of a harmless coffee cup, but because we have a real race problem and we need solutions. Starfish Media Group just finished a nationwide tour of American colleges, universities and communities called “Black in America 2015.” It’s based on our CNN documentary series that takes a close look at the challenges and triumphs of being black in America: from the hopes of the Martin Luther King era to today’s unlikely brew of un-kept promises and vast opportunities.

    There were plenty of conversations about race among the thousands of black and white college students and panelists like rapper Chuck D and Cedric Alexander of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. They lined up to talk about how their experiences mirrored those of the people in the documentaries: black families finding common roots with whites, the politics of skin color, or the black-and-blue conflict over the police engaging in racial profiling. The topics and perceptions were an unending thread. Not only did people talk when they were offered the chance; they wanted to talk.

    At Stony Brook University, one of our tour stops, a young white male student asked our panel if effecting change in racial discrimination today was even harder to achieve than it was during the Civil Rights era when racism was more overt. What a good question.

    There are no longer signs segregating our bathrooms and water fountains, but police are being caught on cell phone videos in apparent attacks on young black men — the new signposts of racial inequality. New technology has multiplied and spread symbols of racial injustice, but that has created new challenges and new reasons to talk.

    In this country we sometimes pretend we are so far past the ugly days of Jim Crow and middle-of-the-night cross burnings as to have no racial issues to discuss. We did, after all, elect a black president who, like me, has both a black and a white parent and descends from immigrants.

    But blacks and whites don’t see things the same, and that is a big problem we need to discuss. Pew Research Center asked people of both races this year how much more needs to be done to achieve racial equality. Seventy-nine percent of blacks said “a lot” more work needs to be done. Just 44% of whites thought the same. […]

    In 2014, our CNN documentary “Black in America: Black & Blue” showed police officers talking fearfully about facing off against young criminals on familiar streets and African-American men in fear that they would become the victims of police shootings. The documentary was released just as grand juries chose not to indict the police officers in the Eric Garner and Ferguson, Missouri, cases.

    To me, it reveals how damaging the rift in our perceptions can be. […]

    Black people talk about race all the time, from processing comments about our freckles to recounting how someone rolls their fingers through our child’s curly hair. We don’t get or expect an even playing field at work. We don’t ever get to cross a street in a hoodie at night without the other pedestrians making a string of assumptions. We don’t have some mutable characteristic. We wake up and go to bed black, and that makes a difference in this country.

    CEO Howard Schultz was left wondering why it was such a bad idea to encourage people to talk about race. His initial letter to his staff made it clear he believes his #racetogether coffee cup campaign can contribute to starting an important conversation. “What if our customers … had a renewed level of understanding and sensitivity about the issue, and they themselves would spread that to their own sphere of influence?”

    What a good question it was. What if?

    I submitted a request for Nixon’s text messages from early August. Apparently Nixon’s office does not have them. Documents attached.

    100 Days of Learning: Ferguson Commission Report, in pdf. What they’ve learned, and some ideas on how change needs to happen. The facts are pretty depressing.

    Possibly everyone on FB has seen the ‘Humans of New York’ initiative, which posts random strangers with short quotes or bits of information. Here’s Humans of St. Louis, same idea.

    What is it with retailers? The Strange Story Of H&M’s Fake Racist White Power Metal Bands

    In addition to its array of basics, graphic tees, and polos, H&M sells quite a few rock and metal band T-shirts.

    But did you know they also sell band tees of bands that, well, ~don’t exist~?

    In fact, this bomber jacket — sold by H&M in Sweden — is covered in imaginary band patches.

    But the bands might not be so fake after all.

    This week, a YouTube video featuring tracks of many of the bands adorned on H&M’s clothing popped up.

    A label called Strong Scene Productions claimed that they were simply releasing music from “long forgotten bands.” The bands all happened to have the same names as the fake ones on H&M’s clothing.

    “As illustrated by the bomber jacket and t-shirts worn by the models of H & M,” they wrote on their Facebook page, “the new items feature logos from long-forgotten underground goth and thrash acts such as the French LANY, Mexican MORTUS, American ‘cosmic hippie metal’-gurus MYSTIC TRIANGLE and GREY from Germany – the originator of the whole symphonic female metal-genre.”
    The bands had song titles like “Sign of the Antichrist,” “Hellish Massacre,” “Holocaust Tomb,” and, best of all, “Vaginal’s Juice Dripping Into Cadaverous.”

    And here’s the craziest part: A couple of the bands seemed to have had ties to the NSBM community (that’s National Socalist Black Metal scene, meaning they are racists and/or neo-Nazis). […]

    “None of these bands have any sort of history beyond pages created this year,” wrote Robert Pasbani on Metal Injection. “This marketing project seems to dig deep. They even created tracks by these potentially fake bands to make it seem like all of this is real.”

    Rosenberg added, “H&M are not only participating in the creation of fake metal bands in order to peddle merch for said bands, but they’re trying really, really, REALLY hard to make people think those bands are real.”
    But AS IT TURNS OUT, H&M had nothing to do with it. The fake band tapes are the work of an arts collective in Sweden.

    According to its leader, Henri Sorvali, who poses under the name Ville Huopakangas, all of the music and artwork — in fact Strong Scene Productions itself — was created recently, in response to H&M’s fake metal bands.

    H&M has not responded to a request for comment from BuzzFeed Life.
    Sorvali also happens to be the guitarist and keyboardist for the band Moonsorrow.

    Strong Scene Productions, Sorvali told BuzzFeed Life, created an elaborate hoax aimed at poking fun at H&M’s claims at music legitimacy.

    And, he stresses, they had no official ties to H&M: “[We] create[d] pieces of art inspired by their new spring collection. We are not a label, but a one-time improvised, collective art project in the vein of Spinal Tap and other parodies with no intentions on anything except for art.”

    He went on, “The whole project was to show that not all metal music is what you hear in commercial forms, and different sub-genres exist even within metal music.”
    Sorvali also told Noisey he wanted “to point out the fact that you cannot commercialize a subculture without actually knowing all the different aspects of it.”

    (Formatting weird because BuzzFeed.)
    Well, I’m confused – do they mean to show how white supremacist metal music can be? Or is this a stab at all those labels using hip-hop culture? As the article says at the very end, “Confused yet?”

  14. rq says

    TW for suicide!!! Young transgender activist Blake Brockington mourned

    Friends and community members are today mourning the passing of a local transgender youth activist, Blake Brockington, who died as the result of suicide overnight.

    Brockington, 18, was a 2014 graduate of East Mecklenburg High School where, last year, he was nominated and later crowned homecoming king as an openly transgender student after winning a fundraising competition and drawing in $2,335.55 for a charity chosen by the school. Brockington’s homecoming win is believed to be the first for an openly transgender student in Charlotte.

    Details of Brockington’s passing and any plans for memorials are not yet known. qnotes will provide updates as they become available.

    Brockington’s death was confirmed and announced publicly Tuesday morning by Time Out Youth Center, a local LGBT youth services agency where Brockington received support.

    The center is working today to ensure other youth and staff receive needed support. Executive Director Rodney Tucker says youth members and clients have been at their center since 9 a.m. this morning. A counselor will be on hand to speak with staff and is available to youth and clients throughout the day.

    Brockington’s death is the second such local incident in recent weeks.
    Young activist wanted change

    In the year since his homecoming win and graduation, Brockington became an outspoken advocate, speaking at last year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance event and organizing public rallies and other grassroots campaigns to raise awareness on police brutality and violence. In one action in December, Brockington led activists in a brief shut down of Independence Square at Trade & Tryon Sts., followed by an impromptu march through Uptown. He and other activists also planned and coordinated a similar action at SouthPark Mall during the Christmas shopping season.

    Brockington, who came out as transgender in his sophomore year of high school, was active in East Meck’s band where he served as drum major for two years. He also played on a student club rugby team.

    East Mecklenburg High School teacher Martha Deiss, whom Brockington had for a civics and economics course his sophomore year, said last year that he was one of her brightest students.

    “A great student,” Deiss said of Brockington. “Always had the highest grades.”

    His homecoming victory, he told qnotes at the time, was a way to build awareness and support for other transgender students.

    “I honestly feel like this is something I have to do,” Brockington said last year, noting few other transgender male students have had the opportunity.

    Brockington said at the time that winning will mean the most for several younger transgender students he had mentored, including a nine-year-old boy.

    “He really looks up to me. That’s my heart,” Brockington said of his mentee. “He has support now and he will be able to avoid just about everything I’m going through and I don’t want him to ever have to be scared. I feel like if I do this, that’s one red flag for everybody to say, ‘Nobody should be scared to be themselves and everybody should have an equal opportunity to have an enjoyable high school experience.’”

    But the homecoming win came with a price, Brockington told The Charlotte Observer earlier this year.

    “That was single-handedly the hardest part of my trans journey,” Brockington told the daily newspaper. “Really hateful things were said on the Internet. It was hard. I saw how narrow-minded the world really is.”

    He had a strong message for the public — “we are still human.”

    “I’m still a person,” Brockington said. “And trans people are still people. Our bodies just don’t match what’s up (in our heads). We need support, not people looking down at us or degrading us or overlooking us. We are still human.”
    Need support?

    Those youth in need of support are encouraged to contact Time Out Youth,timeoutyouth.org, 704-344-8335. Their center is located at 2320-A N. Davidson St. They are open Tuesday and have staff and counselors available.

    Those youth in need of immediate support can call the Trevor Project helpline at 1-866-488-7386 or access resources online at thetrevorproject.org.

    Because all black lives matter. Going to let that one stand alone in comment.

  15. rq says

    1 in 13 African-American Adults Prohibited From Voting in the United States

    As Americans honor those who fought for voting rights in Selma, Alabama, 50 years ago, it’s easy to forget that 5.9 million citizens — 2.2 million of them African-Americans — remain disenfranchised today. One out of every 13 African-Americans is prohibited from casting a ballot in the United States.

    These men and women lost their right to vote because of felony convictions. Depending on the laws in their states, some may regain access to the polls when they complete their prison sentences, finish parole, or complete probation, but those in Kentucky, Florida and Iowa will be disenfranchised for the rest of their lives. (Only two states — Maine and Vermont — allow those currently in prison on felony charges to vote, and eight states even ban inmates with misdemeanors.)

    Most of those affected by these voting restrictions — 75 percent — have already done their time and returned to the community. […]

    Thanks to a steady push from advocates, since 1997 at least 23 states have eased their voting restrictions. Last Monday, the Maryland Senate passed a bill that would restore voting rights immediately after release from prison. The bill’s sponsor in the House, where it heads next, is Cory McCray (D-Baltimore City), who has a personal connection to the issue: as a teen, the assemblyman was arrested and jailed multiple times for drug dealing.

    McCray told The Washington Post that Maryland’s disenfranchisement of people on parole and probation “doesn’t make sense. The debt has been paid.”

    A similar bill affecting those who have completed prison sentences passed the Minnesota Senate Judiciary Committee last month. Marc Mauer is optimistic that both the Maryland and Minnesota bills could pass in the coming months.

    Grassroots efforts to reform voting restrictions are growing in other states, including Kentucky, where both houses passed legislation year but were ultimately unable to agree on a final bill, as well as Iowa and Florida. Widely regarded as the worst state for felon voting rights, Florida has nearly three times more disenfranchised ex-felons than Texas, the second-highest state.

    US Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rand Paul (R-KY) have also introduced federal legislation that would allow ex-felons to vote in federal elections, regardless of state laws. […]

    The consequences of all this disenfranchisement are real, not only for individual ex-felons, but for the nation as a whole. Communities with high numbers of ex-felons lose their voices at the polls, and voting restrictions can have a measurable effect even on national political elections. A study published by the American Sociological Association determined that ex-felon enfranchisement in Florida alone would “certainly” have pushed Al Gore to presidential victory in 2000.

    Our nation’s confusing patchwork of voting restrictions also means that “people with felony convictions and the electoral officials themselves are often misinformed about the policy,” says the Sentencing Project’s Mauer. “There may be substantially more people who are kept away from the ballot box than even [the current] legal prohibitions would require.”

    Ultimately, voter disenfranchisement is just one more way to dole out punishment and perpetrate cycles of poverty, incarceration and voicelessness. Formerly incarcerated people attempting to reintegrate into society already face disadvantages finding employment and housing, and former drug felons are even banned for life from receiving food stamps. (Some states opt out of this lingering federal “War on Drugs” legislation, but many don’t.)

    Another city compared to NYC, comes out for the worse. Chicago’s Stop-And-Frisk Rate Four Times New York At Its Worst, ACLU Says

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois released a report Monday saying it identified more than 250,000 Chicago stop-and-frisk encounters in which there were no arrests from May through August 2014. African-Americans accounted for nearly three-quarters of those stopped, even though they make up about a third of the city’s population. On a per capita basis, Chicago police stopped 93.6 people per 1,000 residents, or more than four times New York’s peak rate of 22.9 stops per 1,000 residents, which happened during the same four-month period of 2011.

    “The Chicago Police Department stops a shocking number of innocent people,” said Harvey Grossman, the ACLU’s legal director. “And just like New York, we see that African Americans are singled out for these searches.”

    People were far more likely to be stopped in predominantly black communities and blacks were more likely to be the target of stops in predominantly white neighborhoods, the study found. For example, African-Americans accounted for 15 percent of the stops in the Jefferson Park area, even though they made up just one percent of its population.

    The ACLU said it also found that police gave no “legally sufficient reason” for initiating many of the stops. It said it examined a random sampling of “contact cards,” which officers are required to fill out whenever they make such a stop. On half the cards, the officers didn’t state a reason for the stop, and in some cases, they stated that they stopped someone for a reason that wasn’t related to suspected criminal activity.

    Grossman said the information that was on the cards was woefully inadequate, and the cards didn’t indicate that a person had been frisked, which the ACLU researchers can only assume happened.

    Police officials responded Monday by saying that the department prohibits racial profiling and other “bias based policing.” They said over the last three years the department has improved training to ensure that police officers are aware of that policy and comply, including requiring more detailed documentation and adding more supervision.

    It also released figures showing that the percentage of contact-card incidents is closely aligned with the percentage of police case reports where a crime suspect was identified by race.

    Seriously, you can’t make this shit up. You can’t. George Zimmerman: Obama Turned Americans Against Me

    In an interview posted online Monday by his lawyer, Zimmerman argues Obama shouldn’t have weighed in on his case.

    “President Obama held his Rose Garden speech stating, ‘If I had a son he would look like Trayvon.’ To me that was clearly a dereliction of duty pitting Americans against each other solely based on race,” Zimmerman said.

    Zimmerman said he felt “prosecuted by the federal government” because of Obama’s remarks, and said he thinks someone like Obama should “not interject himself in a local law enforcement matter or a state matter.”

    “Instead of rushing to judgment, making racially charged comments and pitting American against American, I believe that he should of taken the higher road given his position and said — been an example, been a leader as the president should be, and say let’s not rush to judgment,” Zimmerman said. “As I’m sure he would want that same luxury afforded to him if he was accused of something, and asked for calm, ask for peace.”

    Fuck you, Zimmerman.

    Cleveland and Brandon Jones: Another black teen killed by Cleveland police as mother asks: ‘Why? What happened?’

    On Thursday last week, Jones broke into the nearby Parkway Grocery and stole cigarettes and money, according to the store’s owner. Officers responded to a call of a break-in at approximately 2.15am and struggled with Jones after he left the store carrying a bag. One officer fired, striking Jones, who died at the hospital hours later.

    “Everybody knows he shouldn’t have been there,” Brown said. “Everybody knows what he did was wrong – we’re past that. My baby should not be dead.”

    The police department has provided few details about the shooting, and they did not respond to the Guardian’s request for comment.

    The officers, who have not been identified, were placed on three-day administrative leave and the department’s use of deadly force team is looking into the case. Jones’s family, meanwhile, is looking for answers.

    “We’re living every day wondering. That’s how we’re living: wondering,” Brown said. “Why? Why, and what happened?”

    Cleveland is still reeling from the police killings of unarmed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was fatally shot in November, and unarmed 37-year-old Tanisha Anderson, who died earlier that month after being physically restrained during a mental health episode.

    Then, in December, the Justice Department released a damning investigation into the Cleveland police department that said that it had engaged in “excessive and unreasonable force” in hundreds of cases between 2010 and 2013.

    The report arrived amid demands for systemic change in how US police interact with minority groups, spurred by the high-profile deaths of unarmed black men Michael Brown, 18, and Eric Garner, 43.

    Numerous activist groups in Cleveland have worked to get justice for these deaths. The message has also been a constant presence in the wake of Jones’s death – plastered at the bottom of the utility pole that serves as Jones’s makeshift memorial is a sign surrounded by candles and flowers that reads: “Black Lives Matter.”

    On Sunday, Brown went to her first Justice for Tamir Rice rally, and she has also met Tamir’s family. “They are wonderful people, wonderful people who want justice just like I do,” Brown said.

    Activists are also gathering around Jones’s family and offering support by holding vigils for the teenager, helping promote the online fundraising page to cover funeral costs and supporting his family in the grieving process, as they reflect on the loss of the young man they knew as a funny, family-oriented guy.

    “Everyone knew when someone was having a bad day, Brandon would just come around and make them laugh,” Brown said. “Even when you’re not in the mood to laugh.”

    Whether it was helping his dad with construction work, or making sure the family had the means to pay the bills or put food on the table, Jones was always focused on protecting his family.

    He had seven siblings, and made sure his younger sisters were taken care of. “He was kind of tough on them about staying in school, not messing with young boys,” Brown said.

    She said the cycle of unarmed people being killed by police needed to stop, and that justice could only be achieved if police were held accountable for what they had done.

    “They’re just killing these little boys, these young men, when they don’t have to,” Brown said. “And at the end of the day, our family members are gone, and they [the police] are back at work – the same job, committing the same crime to another family, to another young man, to another young boy.”

    More at the link.
    Note: no one is saying he was right in robbing the store. They’re saying he shouldn’t have been shot dead like that.

  16. Pteryxx says

    quoting that WaPo opinionated fool from rq’s #14:

    Do you think that the African American men who are killed by the police are solely victims of racism? If so, then ignore that, in 2013, about 44 percent of the nation’s murder victims were black — and some 90 percent of those victims were killed by other black people. There is a problem here, and it does not go away by yelling “Racist, Racist” at the numbers.

    Know what might help reduce the black-on-black murder rate (not that it’s anything but a disingenuous derail)? If black victims, black witnesses, and black people who don’t feel safe in their communities were able to call on the police for help and trust them to show up and do their jobs instead of arresting and/or shooting whoever crosses their path, including the people who needed the help in the first place. These are not unrelated issues. Sheesh.

  17. rq says

    This is a general article: State bills would limit access to police body cam videos

    Police departments nationwide are already spending millions to outfit officers with cameras and archive the results. In this latest clash between the people’s right to know and government authority, the responsibility to record encounters, retain copies and decide what to make public mostly rests with the same police.

    In the absence of public records protections, these police decisions can be unilateral and final in many cases.

    “It undercuts the whole purpose of the cameras,” said Michelle Richardson, public policy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.

    “People behave better on film, whether it’s the police or the suspect, because they realize others are going to see them. When you take away that possible consequence, you really undercut the oversight value of these,” she said.

    Supporters say the privacy rights of crime victims and witnesses need protecting, and that police need to limit the broad and costly public records requests they’re getting. Routinely releasing these videos will deter people from calling for help and cooperating with police, they say.

    “Public safety trumps transparency,” said Kansas state Sen. Greg Smith, a Republican. “It’s not trying to hide something. It’s making sure we’re not releasing information that’s going to get other people hurt.”

    The Kansas Senate voted 40-0 last month to exempt the recordings from the state’s open records act. Police would only have to release them to people who are the subject of the recordings and their representatives, and could charge them a viewing fee. Kansas police also would be able to release videos at their own discretion.

    In Minnesota, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill Friday that would deem most recordings off-limits to the general public, except when an officer uses a dangerous weapon or causes bodily harm.

    Even some supporters of privacy restrictions agree that barring extraordinary circumstances or a court order, police could exercise too much unilateral authority over what gets seen.

    “I think it’s a fair concern and a fair criticism that people might cherry pick and release only the ones that show them in a favorable light,” said former Charlotte, North Carolina, police chief Darrel Stephens, executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. But he said departments also have to consider the “potential impact and unintended consequences” of disclosure.

    I have an article for this. Following investigation by .@KMOV, Charles Kirksey is no longer municipal court judge in Normandy & Bellerieve Acres. Judge: “no comment.” Those are municipalities near STL.

    Anthony Hill was a veteran with bipolar disorder. And got killed by police for it. Atlanta Police Shooting Victim Tried to Follow ‘Sensible’ Path

    For those closest to Mr. Hill, the pain has been amplified by the fact that he had, until that last day, largely heeded his grandfather’s counsel. He had no criminal record. He had served in the war in Afghanistan. And before his death, Mr. Hill, 26, had been trying, like many other Americans, to make sense of the complex questions of race and law enforcement that have emerged since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

    In a Twitter post on Dec. 24, Mr. Hill challenged protesters not to reflexively condemn all police officers.

    “If 99 of 100 officers” were on the streets “killing black men like its hunting season,” he wrote, “that still leaves 1 just doing his job. Stop w/ the generalizations.”

    A state investigation of the shooting is underway. But according to friends and family, doctors told Mr. Hill that he had bipolar disorder after he returned from Afghanistan. They believe that his bizarre antics before the shooting — in which he removed his clothes and clambered down from a second-floor balcony — were symptoms of his illness.

    In Moncks Corner, the grief and anger commingled with incredulity. Mr. Hill was the last man anyone would have expected to tangle with the police, they said. And he deserved better.

    “To come home from Afghanistan and be killed by someone who’s supposed to protect you — that I don’t understand,” said James A. Hill, 29, Mr. Hill’s brother.

    His father, also named Anthony, said, “Why would you go directly to deadly force for someone who clearly does not have a weapon?” […]

    Armed instead with “Be sensible” — his grandfather’s counsel nearly every time he left the house — Mr. Hill came of age in a world that revolved around school, family and the weekly rhythms set by the Moncks Corner African Methodist Episcopal Church, where he sang in the youth choir and was captivated, early on, by the power of music.

    In high school, he played the male lead, Danny Zuko, in a production of “Grease.” The summer after graduation, his mother said, he worked as an intern with a local law enforcement agency.

    He tried his hand at college, but eventually dropped out to enlist, in 2008, in the Air Force. Two years later, Mr. Hill was deployed to Afghanistan. His father said he had been responsible for loading ordnance into aircraft in Kandahar Province.

    His Atlanta roommate, Kailien Alexander, a 23-year-old college student, said that Mr. Hill had told him that he had post-traumatic stress disorder, and that he had seen children killed in Afghanistan.

    “It just didn’t sit right with him,” Mr. Alexander said.

    After doctors diagnosed the disorder, his mother said, he was “medically retired” from the Air Force. Later, Mr. Hill moved to Atlanta, in hopes of breaking into the music business. He worked as an intern at a recording studio, and took odd jobs while constructing R&B tracks at home, sometimes recording in his closet with Mr. Alexander’s help.

    He was open about his mental illness, even commenting about it on Twitter. The illness, his family members said, seemed to mostly manifest itself in bursts of hourslong phone conversations. But before March 9, no one had seen him fully lose control.

    Mr. Alexander said he and Mr. Hill were poor but happy, and eager to make friends in an apartment complex mostly filled by families. One hot afternoon, Mr. Alexander recalled, the pair spent some of their last money on ice pops for the children in the neighborhood. […]

    °DeKalb police officials said Officer Olsen had a Taser with him at the time of the shooting. They also said the officer had undergone training in dealing with the mentally ill. This week, the department announced that it would increase its training requirements for “critical incidents,” which include encounters with the mentally ill, but Capt. Steven R. Fore said the change was unrelated to the shooting.
    Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story
    Continue reading the main story

    In an interview last week, Mr. Hill’s family blamed the Department of Veterans Affairs for failing to properly treat Mr. Hill, arguing that he should have had better guidance after he learned of his mental illness and retired. Officials said they could not comment on an individual case.

    Ms. Giummo said she did not think her son’s story had much to do with race. “There is a ‘black and white’ issue” in the country, she said, “but our main concern is we want to know what happened.”

    “And if he was a black officer, we’d still feel the same way,” she added.

    St. Ann reserve officer accused in crash quits, blames drinking on Ferguson, chief says

    A St. Ann reserve police officer accused of crashing a car into a house while driving drunk in north St. Louis County over the weekend quit the force Tuesday.

    St. Ann Police Chief Aaron Jimenez said the officer told him that he had a drinking problem and said it had started after working shifts in Ferguson during the height of protests there.

    The officer, Jacob Klaus, could not immediately be reached for comment. […]

    °Klaus was a reserve officer, which meant he would work part time for St. Ann and was paid for only certain tasks, such as working traffic detail or prisoner transport. He would work on patrol with no pay and had been with the department about 1½ years.

    “He put in all that free time to get hired eventually with our department,” Jimenez said.

    The chief said it appeared the officer had been drinking at Fast Eddie’s Bon Air bar in Alton before the crash Saturday. He was not on duty at the time.

    Jimenez said Klaus was apologetic and said he started drinking after spending time volunteering with the department for shifts in Ferguson.

    “He felt it was a lot of pressure on his life, a lot of negativity,” Jimenez said.

    The chief said he believed the officer’s claim that he started drinking after Ferguson.

    “That’s what he said, and we had zero problem with him before,” Jimenez said. “He was not a drinker and had no substance abuse when he took the lie detector test” before being hired.

    Jimenez said the stresses of protests in Ferguson, where officers were berated by protesters and felt under constant threat, had taken its toll.

    There’s resources for that, I’m sure. Not alcohol. And – a lie-detector test? Really? How dated is this department?

    Beyond Henke/Mudd, 3 #Ferguson cops have discreetly quit the PD. 9 more actively looking for other employment. Don’t let the door hit ya. So maybe some change at the lower level is happening, too. Just worried that these people will be rehired at different police forces.

    Missouri attorney general drops eight municipalities from Macks Creek lawsuit

    Attorney General Chris Koster announced Tuesday that eight municipalities — Bellerive Acres, Calverton Park, Hanley Hills, Kinloch, Uplands Park, Velda City, Velda Village Hills and Vinita Terrace — have been dismissed from his lawsuit alleging they were violating “Macks Creek law,” which limits profits cities can take from traffic cases and mandates detailed financial reporting. Hillsdale, Moline Acres and Normandy still are being examined.

    In a statement, Koster said he dismissed these eight because they had either submitted their financial report to the state auditor’s office or they re-filed reports with corrected revenue calculations from traffic fines and court costs.

    In December, Koster sued 13 municipalities in St. Louis County Circuit Court for violating the law. One month later, he adjusted that list, dismissing some municipalities and adding others.

    “Our goal in initiating this action was to obtain compliance with the letter of the Macks Creek law, so that the Auditor and the Department of Revenue have the information they need to fulfill their oversight roles,” Koster said in a statement. “We will continue to review compliance and to require timely and accurate revenue reports from Missouri’s municipalities.”

    So from 13 to 5. That seems like a major difference.

  18. rq says

    Ferguson to appoint interim city manager

    Pam Hylton is expected to officially become Ferguson’s interim city manager Tuesday night.

    Hylton, who was hired in 2011, is stepping into the role previously occupied by John Shaw.

    Shaw resigned two weeks ago in the aftermath of a Department of Justice report that said the city used its municipal court to raise money of the backs of the poor.

    The city council plans to conduct a national search to find a permanent replacement for Shaw. In the meantime, Hylton will work under a temporary employment agreement, which the City Council will vote on Tuesday night.

    Shaw, who earned $120,000 annually, is receiving a year’s salary and health insurance as severance.

    Hylton currently earns $76,128.

    The city declined to provide a copy of Hylton’s new contract until the council approves it.

    Ah, so that was the Amnesty AGM this weekend! With all the tweets about racism found within Amnesty structure. Here’s their statement on the weekend: Statement from Amnesty International USA Board Chair Ann Burroughs and Executive Director Steven Hawkins following this weekend’s Annual General Meeting in Brooklyn

    “Inclusion is the promise of human rights. While Amnesty International has worked over the past 54 years to challenge discrimination and exclusion on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, political opinion, age, sexual orientation, gender and gender identity, disability, immigration or other status, we welcome thought-provoking conversations.

    We are encouraged by the discussions held over the past weekend. We know that a culture of honest dialogue is essential to creating a welcoming, empowering and respectful environment for all people and a truly powerful, inclusive and effective movement.

    Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) believes that dismantling all forms of oppression is fundamental to eliminating human rights abuses and promoting human dignity. We are committed to being an organization whose membership is drawn from a wide diversity of communities; who addresses issues of critical concern to diverse communities, consistent with its mission and obligation to advance human rights globally; and who ensures the full participation of diverse communities in the leadership structure and decision-making processes of the organization.

    AIUSA’s leadership is committed to having an open door policy for staff, member leaders, and activists as we work together to create an environment of equity and fairness for all.”

    It has been mentioned that the statement doesn’t really address the concerns raised by people over the weekend.

    Ferguson Town Hall w DOJ happening this Thursday, 6PM @Flo Valley! Be there to discuss quality policing.

    Cops shoot woman’s autistic son in the face, get a settlement worth $3 million more than hers. That’s not a typo.

    Two Los Angeles cops have won a $4 million settlement with the city after arguing that they were discriminated against after they fatally shot an unarmed autistic man in the face.

    That’s four times what the victim’s mother got in her own 2012 settlement: $950,000.

    The shooting took place in L.A.’s Koreatown neighborhood in 2010. Long story short: the shooting was found justified by the police department, but the city’s civilian review board found that the officers violated the department’s use-of-force policy, and that the shooting was unreasonable.

    The officers returned to work, this time with desk jobs. Two years later, the officers filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging they had been discriminated and retaliated against after the shooting. They settled that case on Friday: $2 million for one officer and $1.9 million for the other.

    Confused? Here is the logic.

    The officers alleged they faced an internal backlash in the department, since they were both Latino and the slain man was black. Requests to return to the field were denied, and the duo was repeatedly passed over for promotions and transfers, they argued.

    “I do not have confidence in their ability to perform the duties of a field officer,” Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said during the trial. “I have no immediate intention of returning them to the field.”

    He added that they “made serious tactical errors” during the fatal encounter, but he adamantly argued that the shooting was justified.

    Gregory Smith, the officers’ attorney, offered this astounding reasoning as an example of how his clients were discriminated against: a white LAPD officer who shot an unarmed Latino man was able to return to work after only a six week probation period.

    Honestly, I’ll give them discrimination, since no white officer should be returned to field duty after shooting an unarmed person either, but 2 fucking million each – seriously?

    Beware the Black Twitter? No One Is Safe From Black Twitter. Not Even Black People.

    But just because Black Twitter goes after offensive slip ups made by white people, doesn’t mean black people are exempt from the same fury.

    In the spirit of true equality, no one is safe from Black Twitter — and the proof of it lies in two recent hashtags.

    In their coverage of the finding of black man Otis Byrd hanging from a tree in Mississippi last week, CNN laid emphasis on the man’s criminal record. Relevant or not, Black Twitter didn’t take nicely to said focus when so few details about the surrounding circumstances were available to contextualize his life and death. Thus, #CNNBeLike was born.

    Likewise, recent controversial remarks on racism from black celebrities such as Common, Kanye and Raven-Symone have of late stirred a relatively similar response from Black Twitter. And boy did the #BlackCelebsBeLike sarcasm sting every bit as bad as it’s precursor.

    You can hate Black Twitter all you want — or commend it for its brutal honesty — but you have to admit they don’t play favorites.

    Examples of both at the link!

  19. rq says

    Chicago, for justice for torture victims: Call Finance Committee Members on March 25

    We have a hearing on the Burge Torture Reparations Ordinance in the Finance Committee on April 14, 2015 at 10 a.m! It will be our opportunity to present the torture survivors and our evidence to members of the Finance Committee and the public and demonstrate why this entire ordinance must be passed.

    It is important for the aldermen and women who support our ordinance to attend that meeting and publicly demonstrate their support for our ordinance with their presence and their votes.

    On Wednesday, March 25, please call the finance committee members listed below, and ask them if they plan on attending the finance committee hearing on 4.14.15 at 10 a.m. Ask them to commit to doing so.

    List of alderpeople at the link.

    Grab a drink before reading the headline. More from George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman compares his ideals to Anne Frank’s, blames Obama for woes. We got the Obama woes yesterday, but the Anne Frank ideals – that’s new.

    In the video, Zimmerman compared his ideals to those of Anne Frank, saying, “I still believe that people are truly good at heart, as Anne Frank has said, and I will put myself in any position to help another human in any way I can.”

    He said he would only feel guilty for Martin’s death if he thought he could have saved both Martin’s life and his own that night.

    “Only in a true life or death scenario can you have mental clearness to know that you cannot feel guilty for surviving,” he said. “Had I had a fraction of the thought that I could have done something differently, acted differently so that both of us who survived, then I would have heavier weight on my shoulders. That sense in the back of my mind but in all fairness you cannot as a human feel guilty for living, for surviving.”

    I commend his mental fortuity in going forth so well from murdering an unarmed teenager. Truly stunning.

    This is from April 2014, on fast food workers fighting for a higher minimum wage. The Minimum Wage Worker Strikes Back.

    Patrick has spent one third of his life working in fast food restaurants, and most of that time wondering how to get out. Between 2007 and 2008 he worked at Subway, then Popeye’s Chicken, then Red Lobster. No place paid above minimum wage no matter how long he stayed or how hard he worked, so in 2008 he took a job as a waiter at Romano’s Macaroni Grill. He hoped that a more formal chain would pay more. They started him at three dollars an hour plus tips. After two years of hoping, he quit.

    His next job was at Arby’s, where the manager assured him all workers get a raise. They did not. In 2011, he took a second job at Chipotle. For months, Patrick worked from 9:00 am — 3:00 pm at Arby’s and 4:00 pm — 11:00 pm at Chipotle. Some days, he worked 13 hours. Some weeks, he had no days off. The commutes were long, expensive and necessary. Patrick lives in an economically struggling area of St. Louis’s North County with few job opportunities. Like most who live there, he is African-American.

    Patrick would take the bus to the Arby’s in Kirkwood, an affluent St. Louis suburb, then catch another bus to the Chipotle in the suburb of University City, where he served burritos to rich students from nearby Washington University. He anxiously watched the tip jar, wondering if he would get enough for bus fare home. Sometimes he did not and walked for miles. The strain caught up with him, and he left Arby’s to work at Chipotle “full time” — or the closest to full time a fast food worker is allowed.

    “I expected a great difference when I started at Chipotle, but there was none whatsoever,” he says. Chipotle advertises itself as “food with integrity”. The organic vegetables Patrick chops, the steel tables he shines — all promote a new fast food model: forward-thinking, considerate, responsible. Except to the workers.

    “Each place I worked at is unique,” he says. “But they are no different in terms of pay.”

    Patrick still works at Chipotle. After three years, he has gotten a raise of 80 cents. He now makes $8.80 per hour, the most money he has made in his life. He is allowed to work up to 35 hours per week, but is usually assigned fewer, and he is never assigned enough to live on. If a worker gets 40 hours per week, he tells me, the manager could lose his bonus. Patrick feels sorry for the managers, some of whom sympathize with his plight. They are often not paid more than the workers and load up on hours to compensate.

    “At Arby’s the manager salary was $7.35 an hour,” he recalls. $7.35 was the Missouri minimum wage, raised in late 2013 to $7.50. “My manager worked 70 hours a week like a legit slave. He worked hard.”

    Patrick is part of an industry in which working like a “legit slave” is an aspiration. A 70-hour work week means you make enough to survive. In St. Louis, fast food is a billion dollar industry, but neither workers nor managers see much of that profit.

    More at the link. Apparently little has changed in the intervening year.

    What If Sarah Palin Were a Brain Surgeon?

    For those unfamiliar with the mood of America’s far right, casually branding the president a psychopath is exactly the sort of talk that strikes a chord—and just the thing that has made Carson a sensation in the GOP. Today the former pediatric neurosurgeon—who’s never run for elected office—is suddenly besting candidates like Jeb, Marco, and Rand in some 2016 polls and preparing to announce his campaign for the White House. As for the current resident, well, Carson is sometimes encouraged to cut him just a little slack before he hands over the keys.

    “He faces the same challenges you will face,” Williams said of Obama as he spoke. “He’s gotta convince people to believe him. That’s all he’s doing: selling his narrative.”

    “But he knows he’s telling a lie!” Carson vented. “He’s trying to sell what he thinks is not true! He’s sitting there saying, ‘These Americans are so stupid I can tell them anything.’ ”

    Since his inadvertent entry into politics two years ago, Carson has defined himself chiefly as a rhetorical bomb-thrower. He’s invoked bestiality and pedophilia while arguing against gay marriage, and earlier this month, during an appearance on CNN, he argued that homosexuality is a choice, “because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight, and when they come out, they’re gay.” (After an uproar, Carson issued an apology and declared he would no longer talk about gay rights.) With equally provocative flair, he’s railed against the forces of government, declaring that Obamacare is “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery” and, in fact, “is slavery, in a way.” Similarly outrageous was his contention that “we live in a Gestapo age” and that America today is “very much like Nazi Germany.”

    This time next year, in the thick of the primaries, such wild statements could sink a candidate. Not so in these hurly-burly months before the race begins in earnest. Indeed, it’s in these early days of the campaign—before armies of political professionals descend and campaign contributions skyrocket—when a familiar sort of long shot can thrive. And among a certain segment of the GOP, Ben Carson is thriving. Yes, his chances for winning may be slim—only two presidents have reached the White House without electoral experience or high military rank—but activists on the right hope that, at the very least, Carson will give voice to a conservative anger and resentment that’ll influence the rest of the GOP field. “He’s like a messenger,” Williams says of Carson. “He might not be king, but he will have the ear of the king.”

    Of course, one big way Carson differs from most quixotic right-wing ideologues is his race. Conservatives, long frustrated that their disgust with Obama and his policies is regarded as racist, no doubt find it politically advantageous—and psychologically helpful—to have a black person offering those critiques. As one GOP fund-raising guru told Time, “There’s nothing they love more than a black candidate who agrees with them on conservative views.” […]

    Sparse as Carson’s foreign-policy bona fides may be, the trip was devised to bolster them. And although he wasn’t able to secure a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Carson and his entourage—consisting of his wife, Candy; Williams; and a handful of aides and their spouses-visited the Western Wall, lit a menorah with the mayor of Jerusalem, and drove to the Golan Heights for what was billed as a “geopolitical strategic briefing.” But the three members of the Israeli Defense Forces assigned to give it-a portly male lieutenant colonel in the medical corps and two twentysomething female soldiers from the public-affairs unit—didn’t seem to be at risk of revealing classified information. Adding to the low-key vibe, the briefing took place at an observation deck on Mount Bental, a popular tourist destination with a gift shop and coin-operated binoculars, where a group of high school students on a field trip were making a ruckus.

    “Perhaps we can move over here,” the lieutenant colonel suggested, steering Carson’s group to a quieter spot to discuss the nearby Syrian civil war. He claimed that most of the Islamist fighters weren’t Syrian but came from Morocco and Europe. “It’s just like the troublemakers in Ferguson,” Carson said, betraying a habit of wedging the unfamiliar into a context he understands.

    The lieutenant colonel tried to direct Carson’s attention to a Syrian city in the distance, where some of the war’s fiercest fighting has raged. But Carson seemed just as interested in his own location—and whether he was safely under the cover of Israel’s vaunted missile-defense system. “Is this area right here protected by the Iron Dome?” he wondered. […]

    But long before he was a mega-star to the Tea Party, Carson was a bona fide hero in the black community. He grew up poor in Detroit, raised by a single mother who had dropped out of school after the third grade and was married at 13. Nonetheless, she required her two sons to read two books a week and write reports (never mind that she could barely read them). Her boys quickly became star students. Not that there weren’t other challenges. Carson had a terrible temper. When he was in high school, he got into an argument with a friend over the radio station they were listening to. In a flash of anger, Carson tried to plunge a camping knife into his friend’s stomach. But the knife hit the boy’s belt buckle instead and snapped in half. As Carson tells it, the moment was a turning point. He ran home and prayed for patience. “God heard my deep cries of anguish,” Carson later wrote in his memoir Gifted Hands. “A feeling of lightness flowed over me, and I knew a change of heart had taken place. I felt different. I was different.”

    Carson eventually went to Yale and then on to med school at Michigan. In 1984, when he was just 33, he became the head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, the first African-American to run a division at the prestigious hospital. He quickly earned a reputation as a daring surgeon, and in 1987 Carson performed one of the most storied operations in medical history by separating a pair of Siamese twins joined at the head. It was the first time such a surgery had been successful, and it made international headlines. “I knew that my life was going to change after that, because the media isn’t completely stupid,” Carson says now. “They’d start looking at my background, and they’d say, ‘Whaaaaaat?’ ” He soon received the first of his sixty-two honorary degrees. Not long ago, I overheard a woman ask Carson if he still had roots in Michigan. “My roots there are there’s a high school in Detroit named after me,” Carson replied.

    For all of Carson’s medical renown, his greatest fame came in the African-American community. Even as a young resident, Carson spent many of his precious few hours outside the operating room visiting inner-city Baltimore schools. “I can’t even count how many times I saw Ben Carson when I was a kid,” the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, who grew up in inner-city Baltimore in the ’80s and ’90s, told me. “Any time anyone wanted to bring out any sort of inspirational figure for young black kids, especially young black boys, in Baltimore, you turned to Ben Carson.” In those days, Carson and his family were something like a real-life version of the Cosbys: The doctor’s three sons played around town in a string quartet with Candy called the Carson Four.

    He started an educational foundation to help black students, and across the country Carson’s memoir Gifted Hands—which was later turned into a TV movie starring Cuba Gooding Jr.—became required reading for African-American kids. “My mother gave me a copy,” recalls Joshua DuBois, the Obama White House’s former director of faith-based initiatives, “and said, ‘This man is a symbol of how you need to be looking at your life.’ ” […]

    Since embarking on his political journey, Carson has received more than just applause. He’s generated plenty of cash. The Draft Carson Super PAC, which was founded in late 2013 by the conservative activist John Philip Sousa IV (yes, the composer’s great-grandson), has raised more than $13 million from over 150,000 donors who want to see Carson run for president. (By comparison, the pro-Clinton Super PAC Ready for Hillary raised $9 million last year.) Meanwhile, the American Legacy PAC enlisted Carson to fund-raise for efforts to repeal Obamacare; since the program was launched in early 2014, it’s brought in $6 million. “The fire hose got turned on, and the money came so fast,” says Mike Murray, American Legacy’s founder and a Republican direct-mail guru who’s worked with Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, and a host of other leading conservatives. “In terms of direct marketing, I’ve never seen anything like Dr. Carson.”

    Terry Giles, a trial lawyer with no political experience whom Carson will tap to run his campaign, predicts his candidate will have financial resources not typically available to far-right challengers. He expects that, between the various conservative causes Carson has lent his name to (or had his name appropriated by), the campaign will have a mailing list with upwards of 2 million potential supporters on it—all of whom have expressed their interest in Carson in the past two years. “If I can get $100 from 1.5 million people,” Giles told me, “I’ll have $150 million for the first four primaries, and we’ll be extremely competitive.”

    While it’s true that Carson possesses rare attributes his opponents can’t claim, the doctor’s résumé is glaringly thin in certain spots. But Carson believes his lack of political experience is an asset, not a failing. “We’re at a point in time where it’s been demonstrated fairly dramatically that political experience doesn’t seem to help a whole lot and perhaps may be hurtful,” he told me.

    I pressed him on this point. What if Barack Obama, I posited with a bit of hyperbole, decided to change careers and said that he now wanted to be a neurosurgeon—and, what’s more, that he wanted his first operation to be separating conjoined twins? Did Carson see any parallels between that hypothetical and his situation? “No,” he said emphatically. “Just the fact that you would ask that question tells me that you don’t understand all that’s involved in becoming a neurosurgeon. There’s so much more than becoming a political figure, it’s not even in the same ballpark.”

    There’s quite a bit more at the link. None of it particularly encouraging.

    Albert Einstein in 1946 speaking of white supremacy and racism towards black people,and I quote the very end: “Your ancestors dragged these black people from their homes by force; and in the white man’s quest for wealth and an easy life they have been ruthlessly suppressed and exploited, degraded into slavery. The modern prejudice against Negroes is the result of the desire to maintain this unworthy condition.”

    If prisoners can work for companies while incarcerated, why not when they are out and trying to restart their life? #WSUJustice @nvlevy

    Relatedly, Protesters, former inmates want the St. Louis workhouse to close

    The U.S. Department of Justice reported in 2013 that the workhouse had one of the highest rates of sexual misconduct among jails in the country, according to a national survey. Of 220 inmates who responded from St. Louis, 6.3 percent said they were sexually victimized at least once. Only jails in Indianapolis and Baltimore had worse ratings.

    There have been escapes in recent years and more complaints about inadequate medical care. The American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri said it sued the city of St. Louis and Correctional Medical Services, or Corizon, a medical care provider at the jail, for the “deliberate indifference to a serious medical condition” for an HIV-positive inmate. The case was dismissed in 2012 as part of a settlement agreement.

    Dale Glass, the city’s corrections commissioner, says he essentially wants what the protesters want.

    “I’d like to see less people in jail,” he said. But he added that if employment, treatment, medication and other needs aren’t met, “it’s just a wish. It will never happen.”

    Under his watch since he began as commissioner in 2012, the workhouse population has dropped from an average of about 1,100 people a day to 600. The city is pursuing a MacArthur Foundation grant that would help further decrease the jail population.

    Maggie Crane, spokeswoman for Mayor Francis Slay, said the workhouse passes city standards. She said a grievance policy allows inmates to file complaints.

    She said the workhouse won’t be shut down soon.

    “I don’t think the people of St. Louis would be happy with us if we did, except for the dozen people outside today,” she said.

    Of the 616 inmates at the jail Monday, most of them were being held on state felony charges, the remainder for state misdemeanors and a few ordinance violations.

    “People are saying city, city, city,” Crane said. “This is state, state, state.”

    Still, she reiterated that the workhouse is not the “Four Seasons” yet meets necessary standards.

    “It’s not a place you should strive to be,” she said. “It is a jail.”

    That seems to excuse a lot, if you read the stories of those who came out of there at the start of the article.

  20. rq says

    Man accused of driving Maserati toward police fatally shot

    Police trying to serve a warrant fatally shot a man in a Maserati near a suburban Atlanta shopping center.

    Smyrna police officer Ed Cason tells WXIA-TV (http://on.11alive.com/1CMl95e ) that Smyrna and Cobb County police were trying to serve a man with a probation violation warrant Tuesday afternoon and the man got into the white luxury car and drove toward them. Footage from local television stations showed the white car with multiple bullet holes had come to a stop in a grassy area near a parking lot.

    The man’s identity hasn’t been released.

    The shooting northwest of Atlanta comes a day after a robbery suspect fired at a Gwinnett County police officer at a Norcross apartment complex. The suspect fled on foot and the officer wasn’t injured.

    But the stories already contradict:
    Witness: Man in Maserati was not driving at police when they shot him dead

    A woman who was inside the store where the shooting occurred tells Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman what she saw before shots were fired.

    No text at the site, just video.

  21. rq says

  22. rq says

    RAW INTERVIEW: Mother of man shot, killed by police speaks, again – just video!

    Kendrick Lamar Played A Surprise Concert On A Reebok Flatbed Truck Last Night

    If you wanted to see Kendrick Lamar play his first live show since the release of To Pimp A Butterfly, you had to run to catch it. Literally. Last night, Kendrick tweeted a location in L.A. and said to meet him there. When people got there, they were greeted with the sight of Kendrick, with his band, on the back of a Reebok-sponsored flatbed truck. (Kendrick did a commercial for the shoe company last year.) As he performed, the truck drove slowly, and fans ran for 5K to keep up with him. Reebok’s cameras filmed the whole thing, naturally. Ab-Soul guested. Check out some video evidence below. […]

    According to Twitter reports, L.A. cops shut the show down shortly after Kendrick said, “Fuck the police.”

    Yup.

    Things intersect. Transgender homecoming king Blake Brockington dies from apparent suicide

    Brockington chose the name “Blake” because it sounded masculine and came to him in a dream. But his family didn’t take his transition well and he moved in with a foster family after he became open about his identity.

    “My family feels like this is a decision I made,” Brockington told the Charlotte Observer. “They think, ‘You’re already black, why would you want to draw more attention to yourself?’ But it’s not a decision. It is who I am. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”

    Telling his family about being transgender was the hardest part of the transition. “That was single-handedly the hardest part of my trans journey,” Brockington said. “Really hateful things were said on the Internet. It was hard. I saw how narrow-minded the world really is.”

    Police no longer believe #OtisByrd, a man found hanging in a tree in Mississippi, committed suicide. They are ‘investigating’ a lynching.

    Guess what colour she is: EXCLUSIVE: L.I. woman says psych ward doctors believed she was delusional for insisting Obama follows her on Twitter

    A Long Island woman’s insistence that President Obama follows her on Twitter made doctors at the Harlem Hospital psych ward think she was delusional and suffering from bipolar disorder — but she was actually telling the truth, a lawsuit charges.

    Kam Brock’s frightening eight-day “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” ordeal at the mental facility included forced injections of powerful sedatives and demands she down doses of lithium, medical records obtained through her suit filed in Manhattan Federal Court show.

    They also indicate that doctors didn’t believe the leader of the free world followed her on Twitter — though @BarackObama follows over 640,000 accounts, including hers. They were also skeptical she worked at a bank, records show.

    “I told (the doctor) Obama follows me on Twitter to show her the type of person I am. I’m a good person, a positive person. Obama follows positive people!” Brock, whose Twitter handle is @AkilahBrock, said.

    A “master treatment plan” from Harlem Hospital backs up the Astoria Bank worker’s story.

    “Objective: Patient will verbalize the importance of education for employment and will state that Obama is not following her on Twitter,” the document reads.

    It also notes “patient’s weaknesses: inability to test reality, unemployment.”

    Adding insult to insanity, the hospital hit Brock with a bill of $13,637.10, she charges in her suit seeking unspecified damages.

    The whole situation is terrifying.

    Ah, and Nicholas Thomas – you thought he was a good kind of guy? Think again! Man shot dead by police had history of assaulting cops. YES, the victim-blaming is strong.

    The man shot and killed by police as he drove a Maserati toward them at a shopping plaza in Vinings has a history of assaulting police officers.

    According to court records, 23-year-old Nicholas Thomas was convicted in 2014 of aggravated assault on a peace officer and attempting to elude capture. On Mar. 21, 2013, a Kennesaw State University police officer attempted to pull over Thomas for speeding; Thomas accelerated and drove at the officer.

    He was also convicted of driving with a suspended license, no proof of insurance, and using a license plate that didn’t match his car.

    The fatal shooting happened a Goodyear Service Center near the intersection of Cumberland Parkway and Paces Ferry Road at around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

    Thomas’s parents said they are certain that police had no justification for shooting and killing their son. Police say their initial investigation indicates officers feared for their lives as they said the car was aimed straight at them.

    More at the link. It is unclear whether Nicholas drove at the officers, or whether he was backing up towards the officers. But did the officers shoot too soon? Oh yes.

  23. says

    Well, and I’d like to see details on that 2004 conviction before I’m willing to say it’s a pattern: anyone wanna give odds on whether he actually “drove at officers” back then, given how often that is accused without grounds by police? We keep seeing them SAY it happened, when nonpolice witnesses say it didn’t.

  24. Pteryxx says

    He was wearing green and everything. *headshake*

    Linked from TMM’s #27:

    At NBC, Jason Johnson wrote an op-ed about the heartbreaking audio of Johnson screaming “I go to UVA, you fucking racists” during his arrest:

    Here’s Johnson’s piece about dogwhistling the myth of the Perfect Victim and “I go to UVA”: NBC

    “I go to UVA” is a nasty little golden ticket, born of a frothy mix of classism and institutional racism, and it’s doled out to only those certain African Americans that ventured into the hallowed white spaces deemed off limits just a generation before (UVA didn’t integrate until 1972). I used it exactly twice, once while being harassed by a shop owner at a store across the street from where Martese Johnson was beaten, and once more when I was being stared down by a cop that pulled me over.

    I was lucky it worked.

    “I go to UVA” is used sparingly, as a black person you know that at best it bestows a few minutes of privilege upon you that white kids at UVA take for granted. The image of Martese Johnson beaten and bloodied, screaming “I go to UVA” exposes the greatest, deepest fear that every single one of us had at UVA — that nothing protects us. That no matter how well-spoken you are, what clubs you’re a part of, or who you’re with, you can be infantilized, emasculated, and stripped of all your hard work, and public status in the blink of an eye.

    There are no “perfect victims” in a war driven by white supremacist (and possibly misogynist) rage and police power. Even if Martese Johnson WAS using a fake ID (he wasn’t) or was drunk (he wasn’t) that wouldn’t justify the brutality of what he experienced, or call into question the subsequent protests and investigations that have happened since.

    If the Department of Health and human services determined that Eric Garner died of a heart attack does that mean Erica Garner is avoiding the truth when she dons a “I Can’t Breathe” T-Shirt? This is the horrifying sobering reality of what happened at UVA. That no amount of “talks” or preparation can keep you safe from racial rage whether it is backed up by a gun and a badge or just a bad attitude.

    I went to UVA too.

    And I shudder thinking about how foolish I was as an undergrad, thinking that granted me any special protection, that I would be treated as an equal.

  25. Pteryxx says

    Why women of color often won’t go to the police after being sexually assaulted: Guardian

    If we report our assaults to police, we risk being retraumatized not only by the inhumane process of reliving a violent experience through sharing its gory details – but also by the violence of the criminal justice system itself, which treats rape victims like suspects. Worse yet, the police themselves commit assault with impunity; often, they target black women in particular, knowing our existence at the intersections of racism and misogyny make crimes against us far less likely to be investigated.

    To be a “good rape victim” is to immediately report your assault to the police (even knowing you will likely never see “justice”), but to be a good black person is to avoid the police entirely because your life quite literally depends on it. The tightrope walk is impossible.

    That’s why black anti-sexual assault activists, like survivor and feminist writer Wagatwe Wanjuki, have long argued that survivors should not be forced to report their assaults to police in order for their stories to be believed.

    That’s important because as cities and campuses examine their handling of sexual assaults, they often assume survivors should or must report to police.

    Plenty of links in the article. One to Jezebel in 2014: When You’re a Black Woman, You’re Never Good Enough to Be a Victim

    I’d sometimes felt ridiculous about that [personal] story until reading about the Holtzclaw case — how almost none of his alleged black victims reported him, convinced no one would believe them. Or care. (Holtzclaw’s role as a police officer obviously intensified to this fear.) In their stories, I recognized the shared sense, or more accurately, awareness, that although black women can be victimized — are more likely than their white peers to be victimized, in fact — we are rarely acknowledged as victims. Rape culture forces all women to prove they don’t provoke sexual violence; the hypersexualization of black women pretends their very nature invites it. With the awareness of this image comes the often infuriating need to, consciously and just as often unconsciously, navigate the world with it as a guide.

    […]

    Rape is vastly underreported across the board, but African-American women are significantly less likely to report than white women are. In fact, a Department of Justice study found that while one out of six white women report sexual assault, just one out of 16 black women do. For many of Holtzclaw’s alleged victims, the added complexities of class and previous arrests made the choice of of keeping quiet less threatening than being stalked and sexually battered. (Holtzclaw reportedly assaulted some of his victims multiple times.) Lots of people will dwell on this — it’s a wink-nudge way of talking around race — while ignoring the fact that there are black women in every sphere, in every class, in every town, who wrestle with the reality that our bodies and lives are simply valued less. It is an incredibly sad fact, with long historical roots. A heartbreaking truth that, sadly and surely, Daniel Holtzclaw knew all too well.

    That led me to this 2012 piece in Forbes:

    Robinson points out that in studies of Black women’s sexuality conducted by psychologist Dr. Gail Elizabeth Wyatt, half of the women who had experienced childhood sexual abuse never told anyone and less than 5 percent ever got counseling. “African-American women are raped at a higher rate than White women, and are less likely to report it. We have suffered in silence far too long,” she says.

    The movement to end sexual violence in the lives of Black women in the U.S. is inextricably connected to the Civil Rights movement. We cannot effectively discuss the issue of sexual assault in Black communities without acknowledging the direct war that was waged against Black women through rape during slavery and the Jim Crow era.

    We must also honor the legacy of anti-rape activism.

    Although Rosa Parks is remembered as the NAACP organizer who sparked the 1955 bus boycott and helped give birth to the Civil Rights Movement, she was an anti-rape activist long before the boycott. “Decades before radical feminists in the Women’s Movement urged rape survivors to ‘speak out,’ African American women’s public protests galvanized local, national and even international outrage and sparked larger campaigns for racial justice and human dignity,” says Dr. Danielle L. McGuire, author of At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape and Resistance (A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power).

  26. Pteryxx says

    and Oklahoma approving a bill to execute prisoners by nitrogen gas hypoxia (!) without any debate: Guardian:

    The bill, along with a similar proposal in the Oklahoma house, would allow the state to use nitrogen gas – which when inhaled leads to hypoxia, the gradual lack of oxygen in the blood – if lethal injection is ruled unconstitutional. Lethal injection would remain the state’s primary execution method, but nitrogen gas would be the state’s first backup method ahead of the electric chair, which the state has not used since 1966, and a firing squad, which has never been used in an Oklahoma execution.

    Neither the house nor senate version of the plan has been publicly debated, and that lack of open discussion continued on Tuesday when the senate judiciary committee voted 8-0 for the house bill without debate or testimony.

    The legislation, which has already been approved in the house, now moves to the full senate. The senate version has already been passed by the senate and is pending in a house committee.

    The co-author of the legislation, representative Mike Ritze, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment on Tuesday.

    Ryan Kiesel, executive director of Oklahoma’s American Civil Liberties Union chapter, said lawmakers are taking the wrong approach.

    “It’s a fool’s errand to even engage in this utterly bizarre process of searching out new ways to take people’s lives against their will,” Kiesel said, noting that nitrogen gas is not used by any other states in executions. “We would be experimenting on the condemned using a process that has been banned in many states for the euthanasia of animals.”

  27. rq says

    Pteryxx @30
    That’s almost as bad as reintroducing the firing squad. I think that was Utah?

    +++

    @11AliveNews And police who murdered #NicholasThomas had history of violence against people of color. What’s your point? #blacklivesmatter
    Yes, they’re going after his reputation. As many have mentioned on twitter, it’s 2015.
    In 2014, #NicholasThomas was apprehended alive.

    50 years ago today, 25,000 complete five-day march from Selma to Montgomery for voting rights .

    There used to be a Confederate flag flying over the Alabama capitol. SPLC changed that: Holmes v. Hunt

    It took three lawsuits and a forgotten piece of legislation, but lawmakers and lawyers finally forced an Alabama governor to stop flying the Confederate battle flag over the capitol dome.

    Many saw it as a symbol of oppression, though for some it was a symbol of pride. The Confederate battle flag had flown over the Alabama state capitol since 1963. Raised by then-Governor George Wallace, it flew as a symbol of his defiance during the struggles of the 1960s to end segregation. Nearly thirty years later, the Center won a lawsuit to remove the flag from the capitol dome.

    The lawsuit was filed on behalf of three African-American state lawmakers who had made several attempts to get the flag removed, including two prior lawsuits. In 1992, using a forgotten statute enacted in 1891, the Center’s lawyers and the black legislators succeeded.

    The 1891 statute required that the only flags that could legally be flown over the state capitol were the state and national flags. Therefore, the Confederate flag had to be removed.

    The state court judge agreed with the Center’s interpretation of the statute and enjoined then-Governor Guy Hunt from flying the Confederate battle flag. The governor appealed but the appeal was later dropped.

    There’s a new website up, called shutdownthecourts.com. First information up: Ferguson is Just the Start —
    We Need Change in All the Municipal Courts
    , worth following.

    Ferguson and Dellwood have fired Judge Brockmeyer, Dellwood is providing amnesty, and the Missouri Supreme Court has moved all Ferguson cases to circuit court. We know that Ferguson is not unique — that all the municipal courts in St. Louis are just like Ferguson, if not worse. We need to keep pushing until all municipal prosecutors, all municipal judges, all municipalities and Steve Stenger agree to real changes in the municipal courts.

    For months now, legal groups such as Arch City Defenders, SLU School of Law and Equal Justice Under Law have filed class action lawsuits against Ferguson and Jennings municipal courts. The DOJ and Ferguson Commission have both highlighted necessary reforms to the municipal courts. Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) has engaged in months of protest around the municipal courts and recently did two #ShutDownTheCourts actions where citizens blocked the doors to the Pine Lawn courts. MORE recently released a report demanding a moratorium on bench warrants until significant reforms have been made.

    We know with a little more pushing we can get to a point where all judges, all prosecutors and all municipalities are required to make true structural change in the court system. This website is a resource for planning #ShutDownTheCourts protests and other future actions to pressure the municipal courts to stop their racist ways. It will be updated regularly.

    More information on events and actions at the link!

  28. rq says

    Canadians, here’s one for you:
    Trudeau says our racist past haunts our present. He’s right.

    “These are troubling times,” Trudeau said. “Across Canada, and especially in my home province, Canadians are being encouraged by their government to be fearful of one another.

    “For me, this is both unconscionable and a real threat to Canadian liberty. For me, it is basic truth that prime ministers of liberal democracies ought not to be in the business of telling women what they can and cannot wear on their head during public ceremonies.”

    “You can dislike the niqab,” Trudeau went on to say. “You can hold it up as a symbol of oppression. You can try to convince your fellow citizens that it is a choice they ought not to make. This is a free country. Those are your rights.

    “But those who would use the state’s power to restrict women’s religious freedom and freedom of expression indulge the very same repressive impulse that they profess to condemn. It is a cruel joke to claim you are liberating people from oppression by dictating in law what they can and cannot wear.”

    At this point, the columnists-who-know-what-is-best-for-us started to spin out because Trudeau mentioned many of our past sins with respect to minorities in this country. They told us that, somehow, we should just avoid talking about this history when we talk about treatment of minorities today. […]

    Surely we can’t simply ignore our past in dealing with issues we face today — particularly since the events Trudeau mentions didn’t happen all that long ago. Many of the serious examples of Canadian intolerance he cited happened within my (admittedly long) lifetime.

    I was not alive 100 years ago, of course, at the time of the disgraceful Komagata Maru affair, which saw 340 Sikhs, 24 Muslims and 12 Hindus — all British subjects — refused entry into Canada at Vancouver and sent back to India.

    I was very much alive in 1942 when Japanese-Canadians were expelled from the British Columbia coast and interned without charges or trials, their property seized and sold for peanuts.

    (I pause here to admit, as I did a few weeks ago, that my father “bought” a factory from the “trustee” for the Japanese at 10 cents on the dollar, and with this “loot” I was educated and raised. No doubt my conscience bothers me, but in the words of Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio, “Always let your conscience be your guide.”) […]

    When I was a boy in the 1940s, there was a popular restaurant chain in Vancouver called White Lunch. This, courtesy of Vancouver-based AHA Media:

    A number of White Lunch restaurants operated in the city (and) included 865 Granville, 737 West Pender and 714 West Pender. The White Lunch name reflected a policy of serving and hiring only white people. The civic government reinforced racism in the culinary industry by passing a 1937 ordinance that prohibited white women from working in Chinatown.

    Whites believed they had an appointed place in the Darwinist order and needed to protect white women from ‘lascivious Orientals.’ A delegation of 16 waitresses from three restaurants marched to City Hall on Sept. 24, 1937 to protest the ordinance but the mayor refused them a hearing. Restaurant proprietors had their licences revoked if they failed to observe the civic ruling.

    Incidentally, Canadians of Chinese extraction didn’t get the vote until 1947. Japanese-Canadians didn’t get the vote until 1949 and it wasn’t until 1960 that First Nations members were allowed to cast a ballot.

    Most of us can remember when some Canadians thoughtlessly overreacted because Sikhs wearing turbans were enrolled in the RCMP. Then we had the disgraceful and ridiculous spectacle in 1993 of Sikhs being denied admission to the Canadian Legion because wearing a turban was tendentiously said to be “disrespectful to the Queen.”

    It wasn’t until the 1970s that the courts began to give First Nations their rights; only very recently have these rights have actually materialized. Their struggle continues. […]

    Here’s how Trudeau referenced this event in his speech: “We should all shudder to hear the same rhetoric that led to a ‘none is too many’ immigration policy toward Jews in the ’30s and ’40s being used to raise fears against Muslims today.”

    The wording of that statement is critically important, given a great many critics — including NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair— have accused Trudeau of conflating the treatment of Muslims with the Holocaust.

    He did nothing of the sort. He didn’t mention the Holocaust, directly or by inference, and has not mentioned it since, despite the baiting efforts of the Tories and now Mulcair and the NDP.

    The policy he mentioned predated the Holocaust. The Jews in question were fleeing because of Kristallnacht — the violent anti-Jewish pogroms which took place on Nov. 9 and 10, 1938, throughout Germany.

    If anyone in May 1939 had predicted that a civilized nation would murder some six million people — including the mentally ill and disabled, Roma people and homosexuals — he would have been considered mad.

    Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney did raise the Holocaust the day after the Trudeau speech when he said that Bill C-51 seeks to criminalize pro-terrorist speech because “the Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers, it began with words.”

    Defence Minister Jason Kenney, who as immigration minister introduced the niqab ban during citizenship ceremonies in 2011, joined in, tweeting this jab: “It is obscene to conflate the essentially public nature of the citizenship oath with an anti-Semitic bar on refugees fleeing the Holocaust.”

    But Trudeau did nothing of the sort. The responsibility for raising of the temperature of this debate rests entirely with the Harper government.

    After this long, 100-year odyssey from the Komagata Maru to Harper, it seemed that we’d reached the point where most Canadians truly were a gentle and tolerant people. Our maturity allowed both the free speech to criticize and the freedom to do that which does no harm. Then disaster struck in the person of Stephen Harper — and a government with a petty, mean-spirited and vindictive approach to those who don’t agree with them. […]

    During the Second World War, in Kerrisdale where I lived, people boycotted Barers Bakery because of its German name. (It was owned by a Dutch couple.) The name of the German Shepherd dog breed was changed to Alsatian. And we know what happened to Japanese-Canadians. This is the sort of thing prime ministers are supposed to recognize and take care to avoid.

    Let me put it plainly — the Harper government has, with full knowledge of the consequences, taken a public position in inflammatory language at a time when they knew, or ought to have known, this would bring out the worst in some people. Under these circumstances, how can one possibly criticize Trudeau for reminding us of where we have been in our less attractive moments and urging us to remember our history in dealing with human rights today?

    Perhaps this was a matter of political opportunism. Frankly, I don’t care — because the message was important on its own terms.

    My hope is that we all calm down now and go back to being what we were before this scary government took over the reins of power — decent, caring, tolerant people, conscious not only of our own rights, but those of others.

    Police behaving like police: Dozens protest rough arrest of man by Inkster police

    Detroit resident Floyd Dent was pulled over after officers observed him driving through an area of high drug activity, said Dent’s attorney, Greg Rohl.

    “He’s physically extracted from the vehicle, he’s thrown to the ground, and he’s pummeled by no fewer than 16 head shots, three kicks, and four Tasers, implemented by various officers,” Rohl said.

    The protest Wednesday was organized by the Michigan chapter of the National Action Network, led by the Rev. Charles Williams II.

    “We’re here for one reason: These officers need to go. They need to be fired,” Williams said. “Not suspended with pay, not allowed to sit at desks and get paid by the people.”

    After about a half hour of marching, protesters entered the police station around 11:30 a.m. and filled the small lobby.

    Chief Vicki Yost led the crowd back outside and briefly walked with the group as Williams demanded the officers be fired and members of the crowd called for a federal investigation.

    “I am encouraging people to let the investigation run its course,” Yost said, as the crowd gathered around her. “Then we will act accordingly.”

    The Michigan State Police are investigating the arrest, Lt. Michael Shaw said Tuesday.

    A racist pro-lifer compared abortion to slavery, but I’m looking for something to be offended about. Yeah, that happened on twitter. … Yeah. Black people’s oppression just gets co-opted right and left, eh? Lynching for animal rights, slavery for abortion… Fuck that shit.

    A white man getting a hairstyle associated with African hair makes him “hard” (ie aggressive). What racist bullshit. An ad for Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart’s new movie, Get Hard. Apparently a tasteless comedy about life in prison? Woo.


    Black Woman Locked In Psych Ward For 8 Days Because Cops Couldn’t Believe She’s A Businesswoman
    . That’s the same story above. And yes, they charged her for the stay. Hey, luxuries like personalized psych care don’t come cheap, whether you need it or not.
    I hope she wins her suit.

  29. rq says

    Just going to put this here and then do the rest later.
    Oklahoma student who led racist chant to meet black leaders

    Stephen Jones, an attorney for the now-disbanded local fraternity, said Wednesday that an agreement has been reached with the university that calls for no members of the fraternity to be expelled. Jones declined to comment further about the details of the agreement, and OU officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the deal.

    Pittman said she has arranged for Pettit to meet with black students, elected officials, local pastors and civil rights leaders in Oklahoma.

    “I wanted him to be educated on some of the struggles they’ve endured,” Pittman said. “I think that will enlighten him and give him a new perspective on a culture that he is completely unaware of.”

    Among those scheduled to attend the private meeting is Marilyn Luper-Hildreth, the daughter of the late civil rights leader Clara Luper, an Oklahoma City schoolteacher who led sit-ins at segregated Oklahoma City drugstore counters in the late 1950s.

    After the meeting, Pittman said Pettit also will speak at an afternoon press conference at a Baptist church on the city’s predominantly black northeast side.

    The lawyer for the group also made sure to emphasize that the students who were expelled actually left the university first. I guess this is that difference between someone being fired and them writing a resignation, huh?
    Anyway, some commentary, incl. some quotes from the press conference. Take note, future politicians, this is how you become a media darling.
    Only in America does white privilege allow you to sing about hanging black folk & then go on an apology tour meeting civil rights leaders.
    I am legit stunned at the arrogance of this former SAE member to go around apologizing to famous black folk. Stunned. What a power demonstration.
    This SAE kid should be in anti-racism trainings coupled with trainings on white supremacy and dominant culture dynamics. Apology tour? Nah.
    Like, I’m literally speechless as he reads this statement about how the SAE kid is sorry at a PRESS CONFERENCE. People also noted how the black leaders are standing behind him like an obedient line of subordinates.
    “Who you saw in that video is not who I am, is not who I was raised to be.” – SAE chanter Levi at the press conference WHO WAS IT, THEN, LEVI, huh??? WHO WAS IT?
    (more next comment – this kid young man says a lot of silly stuff)

  30. rq says

    “From this point forward, I will be the leader who I should’ve been on that bus.” – SAE kid Levi
    It is unreal that this SAE chanter kid is having a press conference about how HE has been impacted. I mean, c’mon.
    This SAE kid has had some intense media coaching. America.
    “If I ever see racism in any form, I believe I now have the courage and meaning behind those words to refute that behavior.” – SAE kid
    He also said “I’m not here to talk about what happened on that bus, I’m here to apologize for what I did.” Spot the omission. :P Okay, Other updates later, but this was just outrageous enough for my morning.

    That, and this: Unarmed Floyd Dent, beaten by Michigan police. This is American policing. Graphic. Labelled Rodney King 2015 by twitter. (Article on the protests above in comment 32.)
    Here’s HuffPo on it, too: ‘I’m Lucky To Be Living’: Video Shows Cops Brutally Beating Unarmed Black Man In Michigan

    The Michigan State Police officers said they pulled over 57-year-old Floyd Dent for violating a traffic violation in January. The dashcam video, which was obtained by WDIV and released on Tuesday, shows Dent opening the door to his car only to be met by an officer who withdrew his gun and aimed it directly at him. Officers dragged Dent out of the vehicle, forced him face down to the ground and proceeded to place him in a chokehold.

    “I’m lucky to be living. I think they was trying to kill me, especially when they had choked me,” Dent told WDIV. “I mean, I was on my last breath. I kept telling the officer, ‘Please, I can’t breathe.’”

    According to police reports obtained by the TV station, the primary officer served 16 punches to Dent’s head, leaving his face bloody and body bruised. More officers arrived to the scene and attempted to place Dent in handcuffs. The video shows Dent attempting to cover his face to lessen the impact of the punches, while one officer uses a stun gun on him three times and a third tries to place him in handcuffs.

    Police said they pulled Dent over for failing to make a complete halt at a stop sign, and later followed his Cadillac down the street through one of the state’s predominantly black neighborhoods.

    Dent, who was unarmed and has no criminal record, said he was not intentionally trying to get away, and video shows him driving at the same speed while cops followed behind him. Dent said he did not immediately stop because he was unaware he did anything wrong — and he has maintained the same argument.

    “When the overhead lights came on, I looked and said, ‘Wow, are they stopping me?’” Dent said. “So I just kept going until I realized that they were really stopping me.”

    “The next thing I know, the officer runs up to me with his gun, you know, talking about blowing my head off,” Dent continued. “Then he grabbed me out of the car and started beating on me, you know. I just couldn’t believe it.”

    Dent said he had his hands out after opening his car door. Officers said they did not see both hands and claim Dent yelled, “I’ll kill you.” However, there is no recorded audio from the incident, WDIV reported.

    “You have six responding vehicles. Not one officer is equipped with a microphone to take down this alleged threat,” Dent’s attorney, Greg Rohl, told the local news station.

    The primary officer claimed he was protecting himself, according to WDIV. Officers said that Dent, who later said he feared he would die as a result of the chokehold, resisted arrest and bit the officer in the arm, which resulted in the series of significant blows to Dent’s head. However, no photographs are available of the alleged bite marks and the officer did not seek medical attention, WDIV reported.

    Can you imagine how terrified he must have been in that situation – a chokehold? And so he bit the officer – and got even worse for it. Yes, I’m glad he’s alive.

  31. says

    rq @32:

    A racist pro-lifer compared abortion to slavery, but I’m looking for something to be offended about. Yeah, that happened on twitter. … Yeah. Black people’s oppression just gets co-opted right and left, eh? Lynching for animal rights, slavery for abortion… Fuck that shit.

    Tangentially related to the above, here’s an Addicting Info article in response to an angry tirade against men who take offense by right wing loon Steven Crowder (and here’s my response).

  32. rq says

    Interlude: Sports! Black Women Sweep the NCAA D1 Swimming Championship

    History was made at the NCAA Women’s Division 1 Swimming and Diving Championship when the gold, silver and bronze medals were taken home by three black women: Simone Manuel, Lia Neal, and Natalie Hinds, respectively. At Saturday’s competition Manuel and Neal of Stanford University, and Hinds of University of Florida became the first black women to sweep the D1 swimming championship.

    Well done!

    An exoneration happens every three days in America. What this really says about our justice system – that it’s deeply flawed?

    According to the National Registry of Exonerations at the University of Michigan, 1,569 men and women in the United States, most of them African American, have been completely exonerated after being wrongfully convicted and sent to prison. The number of people exonerated for wrongful convictions actually broke a record high in 2014 with 125 exonerations, including six people who were actually on death row awaiting execution.

    Less than every three days in our country, some man or woman is released back into society after spending a tragic portion of their life behind bars for a crime they never committed. Few injustices can compare to the horror of spending one hour in prison for something you didn’t do.

    Ricky Jackson of Ohio spent 341,640 hours, or 39 years, behind bars before he was exonerated. Just a teenager when he was convicted, he was nearly a senior citizen when he was released.

    Jonathan Fleming was serving the 25th year of a 25-year sentence when he was finally exonerated after a wrongful conviction.

    Glenn Ford, on death row for 30 years in Louisiana, was 64 years old when he was released and was exonerated. Stricken with lung cancer, he was only expected to live a few more months.

    One study determined that nearly 10,000 people are likely to be wrongfully convicted for serious crimes annually. Another study estimates that as many as 340 people are likely to have been executed in the United States before they were properly exonerated.

    This is a travesty. Anyone who says otherwise is sick. […]

    Our justice system is altogether broken. This brokenness, though, must not be understood in some abstract way. It’s broken because the people leading it are often sick, disturbed racists who care very little for those on the receiving end of their sickness.

    It’s not good enough to simply give wrongfully convicted men an insufficient check and an apology. We must repair the broken system so these instances go away for good.

    A few other tidbits, esp. about the deep-seated racism of the system, at the link.

    Join me in asking @GovJayNixon to appoint an African American as the next State Auditor. Petition link: Make History by Appointing the First African-American Statewide Elected Official as Missouri Auditor!

    Governor, it’s time!… You have the opportunity to make history by appointing the first African-American Statewide Elected Official as Missouri Auditor.

    In 1920, the first African-American was elected to the MO House of Representatives. Forty years later, the first African-American was elected to the MO Senate. Thirty-five years after that, we saw the first African-American State Supreme Court Judge. Yet, nearly 100 years after racial barriers were first broken in Missouri government, still no racial diversity exists in statewide office holders. Governor, it’s time to appoint a qualified African-American as our State Auditor. Make the change Governor Nixon! Make history!

    Trouble is, I read about Ben Carson, and I think, being African-American can’t be the only criterion…

    U.S. Cops Continue to Kill the Mentally Ill in Large Numbers, Especially in NYC, While Effective Approaches Are Ignored

    Parker is hoping a bill he introduced in 2013 requiring all police officers in New York state to undergo Crisis Intervention Training, an intensive week-long course that trains officers on how to deal with mentally ill people in distress, will be signed into law by the end of this year. Currently, there is no centralized way in which the NYPD or other law enforcement agencies in the state of New York train its officers on how to deal with mentally ill people. Only threedepartments in the state (Westchester, Nassau and Monroe counties) offer CIT training to their officers.

    As it stands now, NYPD cadets receive a paltry eight hours of mental health crisis training, according to Carla Rabinowitz, a community organizer who has been advocating for the NYPD to undergo CIT training. Under the CIT model, officers would get 40 hours in one year. They would also learn techniques for how to speak with someone who is suffering mental duress: never yell, show your hands at all times, don’t threaten or surround the person, and reduce the intensity of the moment.

    The NYPD has an Emergency Support Unit (ESU) that is called on to deal with mentally ill people but it comprises just 366 of the 35,000 officers on the force. The unit also does more than just respond to calls of people who are in emotional distress, so the members aren’t specifically trained or charged with handling mental health crisis calls.

    Charles Cochran, the founder of CIT training, told AlterNet that the CIT model, which has become the national standard for training police officers to deal with the mentally ill, is more than a training program. In order for it to work, it must be implemented in conjunction with mental health providers and community advocates.

    “It’s really not a law enforcement program, that’s another mistake people make about CIT,” he said. “It’s a community program. Law enforcement is a very significant part of it but it is no more administered or owned by law enforcement than the other providers.”

    The former Memphis cop created the CIT model during the late 1980s after the mother of 27-year-old Joseph Robinson called 911 to seek help for her mentally ill son who was stabbing himself with a knife. The cops ended up shooting Robinson, an incident most people in the community believed could have been avoided had the officers been better trained to deal with people in severe psychiatric distress. After months of community conversations over how the shooting should have been better handled, Cochran began training Memphis police officers on the best ways to respond to calls where they may encounter a mentally ill person. He says the training helped but it was because everyone in the city of Memphis bought into the model.

    Eventually, other cities around the country adopted Memphis’ model and saw improvements in how officers deal with mentally ill people. Before CIT was implemented in Memphis, there were 35 injuries to mentally ill people per 100,000 calls; three years after CIT was introduced, that number dropped to 7 per 100,00 calls.

    CIT is not merely about training, Cochran added. Police officers have been in training “since the beginning of time.” Most importantly, police work with the residents of the community and mental health advocates as a unit to address the city’s issues. The police cannot act unilaterally to better serve the mentally ill. That won’t work.

    […]

    According to a USA Today series on mental health in the United States, states cut $5 billion in mental health funding from 2009-2012. During this time more than 4,500 public psychiatric hospital beds were eliminated, or 10 percent of the country’s supply. That explains why 26 percent of people living in homeless shelters have a mental illness and 46 percent live with a mental illness or substance use disorder. Often, untrained police officers are the first responders, which can lead to deadly consequences for the person in crisis.

    The Albuquerque Police Department implemented CIT in 1997, but in 2010 and 2011, nearly 75 percent of the people killed by APD suffered from a mental illness. The most egregious police-involved killing of a mentally ill person in Albuquerque was James Boyd, in March 2014. Video of the shooting clearly shows there was no need to shoot Boyd. Two officers involved in that shooting have been charged with murder.

    Asked about this, Cochran says Albuquerque had moved away from the principles of CIT, which has led to shootings such as Boyd’s. “They drifted away from the core elements of CIT and it became just a training program,” he said. “It did not stabilize as a community program.” (The New Yorker recently published an extensive feature that, in part, lines up with Cochran’s points.)

    He added that everyone shouldn’t be trained to specialized in CIT, as it is an intensely people-skilled position that may not be a good fit for every officer.

    “It takes a very disciplined, skilled mature leader to be able to duck into the middle of a crisis event and address the multiple layers of fear, including fears of the individual in crisis, fear of the people who may be present and the fear of the officers who may be present as well,” Cochran said. “That takes leadership, skills, judgement and understanding of his or her role as a CIT officer and they take that very seriously. They are committed to this role because of the passion they have as to their performance and their leadership.”

    Studies support the argument that CIT helps to reduce the number of violent encounters mentally people have with police. The American Psychiatric Association said last year that more research needs to be conducted to fully access the true impacts of CIT.

    How the whitest city in America appears through the eyes of its black residents

    In the above picture of Portland, Ore., from Dustin Cable’s breathtaking Racial Dot Map, each blue dot represents a white resident counted during the 2010 census. The city itself is about 76 percent white, making it the whitest big city in the U.S. And diversity has been dwindling in the neighborhoods close to the center of town, as minorities have increasingly moved out to the city’s edges. […]

    The below five-minute video, created by Ifanyi Bell and commissioned by the Oregon Humanities organization, offers a beautiful view on how these demographics are experienced by blacks in Portland who feel they’re losing what little place they previously possessed in this city. As Casey Parks at The Oregonian points out, the word “gentrification” is never spoken in the video. Freed from its loaded, messy meaning, the short film cuts more deeply to the heart of what it’s like to live in a changing city when that change doesn’t seem to include you.

    “Spaces have always been not only places where we gather, but places where we get sort of fulfilled, where we see each and tell our stories and where we become whole again and we become renewed,” one man, Charles McGee, tells the camera. “And when you’re in the whitest city in America, those spaces are even more critical.

    “Losing those spaces means you lose a critical element of who you are. It means that you lose your ability to not only share, but to grow.”

    Video at the link.

  33. rq says

    Current speaker defines racial healing, implicit bias, and structural racism. Ferguson Commission.
    Current speaker at the Ferguson Commission discussed racial equity.
    (See slides attached.)

    Thursday, March 26th. 6-8pm. Flo Valley. DOJ Town Hall Meeting.

    UVA Students Push To Remove Virginia ABC Agents’ Ability To Arrest People

    The UVA Student Council is scheduled to vote Wednesday night on a resolution drafted by student government Chair of the Representative Body Abraham Axler, on behalf of the school’s Black Student Alliance, calling on Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) to immediately strip ABC agents of their law enforcement authorities. ABC agents oversee state-run liquor stores and liquor licenses, and are allowed to arrest people who are found violating related laws.

    “There are times in which arrests are going to have to be made in connection with illegal use of alcohol,” Axler told The Huffington Post. “But when that does happen, it should be local law enforcement agencies making the arrest.”

    Axler said students aren’t demanding punishment for ABC employees who did not do anything wrong, but that agents should no longer be allowed to make arrests. He pointed to the arrests of Martese Johnson, a student who was arrested by ABC agents after a bloody altercation earlier this month, and Elizabeth Daly, who was arrested two years ago after ABC agents erroneously accused her of buying alcohol while underage, to illustrate why he believes McAuliffe should adopt the UVA students’ proposal.

    An online petition started by UVA law student Sam Shirazi asking the state to remove ABC agents’ power to arrest individuals has attracted more than 500 signatures.

    “At the very least, ABC officers should no longer have power to target individuals on the street and should focus on enforcement against businesses,” Shirazi wrote in the petition.

    McAuliffe’s office did not respond to requests from HuffPost to comment on the student council resolution or the petition.

    In reference to the article above on people exonerated – Man freed after 19 years for murder sues Baltimore police

    Sabein Burgess, 44, who was incarcerated for 19 years before being freed last year, said he lost untold income, but — more importantly — was forced to miss his daughter’s childhood.

    “I was locked up my daughter’s whole life,” Burgess said. “From the time she was born all the way until she was 19. No amount of money can repay that.”

    Burgess doesn’t specify how much he is seeking in the lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court. His attorney said he wants “justice” and the “ability to rebuild” his life.

    “There’s no amount of money that could compensate Mr. Burgess for the two decades where he was wrongfully convicted,” said attorney Gayle Horn of Chicago.

    A police spokeswoman said the department does not comment on pending litigation. Burgess’ lawsuit names several detectives and officers involved in the case as co-defendants. Attempts by The Baltimore Sun to reach co-defendants were unsuccessful.

    Retired homicide Detective Gerald Goldstein, who worked on the case and is named as a co-defendant in the lawsuit, told the Associated Press that “there is absolutely no doubt” about Burgess’ guilt.

    “Every single thing that he told us, we proved he was lying,” Goldstein said. “They must have really had the evidence against him for a Baltimore City jury to convict him.” […]

    Dorsey, a childhood acquaintance of Burgess who was serving 45 years for attempted murder and armed robbery, also sent letters to Burgess’ lawyer. He said he and a notorious hit man named Howard Rice fired the shots that killed Dyson during a home invasion and attempted robbery while Burgess was not home.

    Rice was dead by the time Dorsey wrote the letter.

    Detectives interviewed Dorsey but discounted the confession because it lacked details.

    The Baltimore police crime lab came under scrutiny in the 2000s for contamination problems, and scientists began to note that the chemicals from gunshot residue didn’t necessarily indicate someone had fired a gun.

    In Burgess’ appeal, attorneys argued that he got the chemicals on him from cradling Dyson.

    In April 2010, the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project obtained previously undisclosed police notes in Burgess’ case. They included statements that Dyson’s then-6-year-old son, Brian Rainey, had made a statement that cast doubt on Burgess’ involvement.

    In 2012, Rainey, who was incarcerated at the time, said he had witnessed the moments before his mother’s killing and corroborated Dorsey’s account. He and Dorsey both wrote affidavits with their accounts of the night Dyson was killed.

    The mounting evidence prompted a Baltimore judge to order a new trial in February 2014. The state’s attorney’s office dropped charges against Burgess.

    In his lawsuit, Burgess says police “withheld and fabricated evidence.” He says detectives concealed statements Rainey made as a boy, “fabricated gunshot residue” evidence, and tried to pressure Burgess into a confession by saying they would find people to say he fired the shots.

    Burgess also says police “fabricated police reports” that indicated Rainey had been asleep when the boy said he witnessed the home invasion.

    The gunshot residue found on Burgess was on his palm, he says in the lawsuit, but detectives purposefully said it was found on the “webbing” of Burgess’ hand — consistent with someone firing a gun.

    “I think they used me to close the case,” Burgess said.

  34. rq says

    Sort of tangential, but possibly related: Elite Colleges Are Now Destroying Admissions Records

    Yale and Stanford universities have both officially — and quietly — changed their approach to admissions record keeping, the schools said, preventing many students who had requested the files from accessing the information. In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, students who requested the files before the change, which came about 15 days after Stanford students began publicizing the law, will be able to view them.

    Stanford and Yale admit just 5% and 6.25% of students, respectively, in what can appear to outsiders to be a particularly obtuse and subjective process. Stanford rejected 40,000 applicants last year.

    Harvard University is currently embroiled in a lawsuit over its admissions policies, with a complaint alleging it discriminates against Asian-American applicants by limiting the number of it accepts each year. Some had speculated that Harvard students’ admissions records could shed light on the merits of the case. Harvard did not respond to repeated requests for comment on whether it still retained students’ evaluative admissions records.

    Both Yale and Stanford presented the changes as a return to original policies regarding admissions records: Before the files were retained digitally, paper records were “disposed of on a regular basis, simply because there was not space to store them all,” said Karen Peart, a Yale spokeswoman.

    Lisa Lapin, a spokeswoman for Stanford, said that the flood of requests prompted Stanford to “ask ourselves, ‘Why do we need these records?’ … They have not had any use to the university, there’s no need to keep them, and we historically didn’t keep them.”

    Peart said allowing students to view their admissions records could be compromising to the admissions process at Yale, “discouraging admissions officers from making specific and frank judgments about a student’s application.”

    Class Bigotry at Washington University in St. Louis: A Resignation

    I just sent the following open letter of resignation to Mark S. Wrighton, chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis.

    Dear Chancellor Wrighton:

    I’m Chris Pepus and I work in the university’s Film & Media Archive. I am sending you this open letter to resign in protest against ongoing class bias in the university’s admissions policies.

    Washington University has consistently ranked last in social diversity among leading colleges, measured by the percentage of students eligible for Pell Grants, a need-based federal scholarship. In January, your administration promised a new commitment to social diversity, but we both know it is a sham. It is time the people did as well, since they pay for Wash. U.’s tax exemptions.

    Describing your new policy in The New York Times, David Leonhardt wrote that your administration “will commit to more than doubling the share of undergraduates with Pell grants, to at least 13 percent, by 2020.” He was wrong. Your administration committed to ensuring that 13% of students in the 2020-21 freshman class are Pell-eligible. The number of Pell recipients in preceding classes could be lower, even significantly lower, and you would still be able to say that you kept your promise.

    Leonhardt also wrote: “The leaders of Washington University in St. Louis have decided that it has a distinction they no longer want: the nation’s least economically diverse top college.” He was too optimistic on that point as well. Currently, Wash. U. is last in U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of economic diversity at its top 25 national universities, with only 6% of students receiving Pell Grants. You could meet your goal of increased Pell numbers and still be last in that ranking.

    Even modest increases in Pell enrollments by Wash. U.’s nearest competitors at the bottom of the U.S. News list (Cal Tech at 11%, Notre Dame and Princeton at 12%) will keep the university ranked 25th out of 25. If Wash. U.’s increase in Pell recipients among pre-2020 classes is low enough, those three institutions can keep their Pell enrollments where they are and Wash. U. will still remain in last place. […]

    Aided by that enormous expansion (weighted disproportionately toward middle-class students), other socially exclusive universities, such as Harvard, have seen their percentages of Pell students rise out of single digits, finally. But not this institution. In recent years, Wash. U. has actually been declining in terms of social diversity.

    The barriers to inclusion will not be removed at Wash. U., or other leading colleges, until an aggressive policy of affirmative action based on social class is added to existing affirmative-action programs. Your new “commitment” is a travesty of that essential policy.

    Your administration has described the plan to increase Pell enrollment as “ambitious” and cultivated the notion that it is difficult to enroll qualified working-class people. But the case of the University of California at Berkeley destroys such myths. According to the latest federal data, 36% of UC Berkeley’s students receive Pell Grants, compared to, again, 6% at Washington University. UCB has managed to enroll six times the percentage of Pell recipients as Wash. U., despite having (according to contemporary federal data) an endowment of $1.2 billion, as opposed to Wash. U.’s $5.3 billion.

    Nor can anyone say that UC Berkeley’s academic reputation has suffered due to its socially inclusive admissions policy. In the most recent installment of the prestigious Times Higher Education rankings, UCB is rated 8th in the world to Wash. U.’s 42nd. The University of California at Los Angeles, with an even higher ratio of Pell recipients on campus (39%), ranks 12th.

    You may well note that Wash. U. is placed ahead of UC Berkeley and UCLA in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, but that is principally because U.S. News assigns great weight to institutional wealth. The most salient category of the magazine’s rankings is the “peer assessment score” given by administrators and faculty at other colleges. In that category, Wash. U. is rated 4 out of a possible 5, versus Berkeley’s 4.7 and UCLA’s 4.2. […]

    This institution’s terribly low percentage of Pell Grant recipients is the result of systemic class bias. The university’s official pronouncements make that all too clear. Wash. U. administrators have attempted to excuse low enrollment of Pell Grant recipients by resorting to doubletalk insulting to working-class people.

    For instance, Provost Thorp consistently tries to justify Wash. U.’s record of social exclusion by pretending that the university had to choose between strengthening academic excellence and enrolling more working-class students. Last December, Student Life quoted the Provost’s remarks on why the administration had failed to address the university’s low Pell enrollment. “Wash. U. has made some smart strategic decisions that may have made it the place that it is,” he said. “It’s easy to say that this should have been done differently, but . . . to say we shouldn’t have invested in things when we did is kind of false logic [ellipses original].” Back in October, he offered the same excuse, with a more aggressive conclusion: “We’re not going to apologize for that.”

    If Provost Thorp cannot bring himself to apologize for the university’s derisively low number of working-class students, I question whether he is capable of apologizing for anything. At the least, his remarks show that he isn’t facing the problem.

    It is deceitful to claim that administrators ever had to choose between academic excellence and social inclusion. In 2012, economist Elise Gould found that low-income students who earned high scores on 8th-grade tests were less likely to attend college than rich students who scored low on the same tests. There is an enormous pool of talented students who are not being recruited by other leading institutions.

    Maybe the student who would have brought new prestige to Wash. U. through, say, a great scientific discovery wound up working at Wal-Mart because the university instead admitted a less qualified rich person now busily engaged in coasting through life. Had you been interested in enhancing academic excellence, rather than enhancing the privileges of the rich, recruiting qualified, low-income students would have been a central element of your campaign to improve the university’s reputation. […]

    I have learned a lot working at the Film & Media Archive, which houses materials from powerful documentaries on civil rights and social justice, e.g. Eyes on the Prize and The Great Depression. I got to help researchers learn more about such subjects as the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and labor activists who fought racism and economic oppression.

    The stories contained in the archive’s materials can be very inspiring. But they can also be a criticism of your life. These days, they feel like the latter to me. I am ashamed of myself for failing to send you a letter like this one before now. My working-class status and freelance writing on class issues also accuse me, despite the reasons I gave myself for staying on the job this long. (“I need the health insurance.” “The work schedule lets me write on evenings and weekends.” “I can use vacation time for writing.”)

    After my years at Wash. U., I no longer believe that elite private colleges can be reformed. I believe education must be public, and free to students. In any case, no university as wealthy as this one should be allowed to keep its tax exemptions unless it ends legacy preferences and does at least as well in admitting Pell Grant recipients as UC Berkeley. We need that tax money for the education of the people, not just the rich.

    No top American college is as far away from social diversity as Wash. U., and you are clearly happy for it to stay that way. So here is my two-weeks notice. I can no longer stand to be associated with the class bigotry that is deeply entrenched in this institution.

    Sincerely,

    Chris Pepus

    There’s a note to readers at the end:

    If you agree with this letter, please share it with your friends. Writers on higher education frequently note that there is no national movement demanding access to top colleges for working-class people. That is largely because writers on higher education refuse to address class bias directly. That omission may have something to do with the backgrounds of leading journalists, who are mostly graduates of socially exclusive, private, East Coast colleges.

    I hope that you will use the donate button at the upper right of the page to support my work. (In case you’re wondering, I don’t have another job lined up.) The media elite have systematically excluded views like the ones expressed in my letter. That monopoly will continue unless the people support alternatives to it.

    More from post-racial Americaaaa! Texas A&M Corpus Christi Student Threatened With Lynching

    She had just returned from spring break and was greeted with horrific threats and slurs.

    According to KRISTV, a black student at Texas A&M Corpus Christi found racial slurs and threats written all over her apartment, left there by individuals who apparently broke in while she was gone.

    A scrawl on one of the apartment doors showed a character like that from a hangman game, only next to it were the chilling words, “White Power. [We’re] coming for you.”

    Another scrawl read, “Die n–ger. Where is your protector? White Power.”

    “I think the community ought to be hurt by this. I think that we all ought to take it very seriously,” Corpus Christi Police Chief Floyd Simpson said at a news conference Monday.

    According to the news station, the complex in which the apartment is located is gated and seems to have a security camera, but it is still unclear how the vandals broke in.

    “Quite frankly, we think we have a bead on some people who may be involved in this. The best thing they can do is come forward and have a discussion about this, and let us bring this to a logical conclusion,” the police chief said. The individuals responsible could be charged with burglary, criminal mischief and making terroristic threats.

    As for the student, she was relocated to a nearby complex.

    Ferguson Commission Meeting. Forgot to put that in previous comment – people attend these meetings! Yay!

    First George Zimmerman says he’s like Anne Frank. Now Ted Cruz says he’s like Galileo. Next: Slobodan Milošević says he’s like Joan Baez. Can’t wait.

    Lauryn Hill’s Album ‘The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill’ Is Being Entered Into the Library of Congress

    Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Radiohead’s 1997 smash OK Computer, the Doors’ eponymous 1967 debut, Joan Baez’ Joan Baez, Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate from 1949 and more are being entered into the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry. Variety reports the National Recording Registry made the announcement this morning and the total number of inducted recordings to is up to 425,

    According to the press release:

    Under the terms of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, the Librarian, with advice from the Library’s National Recording Preservation Board (NRPB), is tasked with annually selecting 25 recordings that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and are at least 10 years old. The selections for the 2014 registry bring the total number of recordings on the registry to 425, a small part of the Library’s vast recorded-sound collection of nearly 3 million items.

    In their explanations of why each recording was selected, the Library of Congress writes of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, “Lauryn Hill’s debut solo record, following the breakup of the Fugees, is a work of honesty in which Hill explores her feelings on topics that included the deep wonder of pregnancy, the pitfalls of modern relationships and the experience of the sacred. The album effortlessly fuses soul, rhythm and blues, rap and reggae. Hill’s vocal range, smooth clear highs and vibrato are stunning. The rapping is rhythmically compelling while always retaining, and frequently exploiting, the natural cadences of conversational speech. Standout guest performances include Carlos Santana’s soulful acoustic guitar solo on ‘Zion,’ and duets with Mary J. Blige and D’Angelo on ‘I Used to Love Him’ and ‘Nothing Even Matters,’ respectively.”

  35. rq says

    Worse than Rodney King. Shocking dash cam video shows suburban Detroit police brutally beating man. Floyd Dent.

    Floyd Dent is an amazing man. He has worked his entire adult life, from age 20-57, for Ford Motor Company in suburban Detroit. Never a day in his life has he been in trouble with the law. Loved by his family and community, he’s about as upstanding of a citizen as a man could be.

    So, when the Michigan State Police in Wayne County, outside of Detroit, trailed Floyd’s car, suspecting him of purchasing drugs, what happened next may be the most preposterous case of police brutality in modern American history.

    Yanked from his car and put into a brutal, illegal choke hold, officers begin to repeatedly punch Floyd in the face, nearly knocking him unconscious. Another officer comes up and shocks Floyd three separate times with his Taser – putting him at great risk of death. In all, ten officers, all of them white, made contact with Floyd during this ordeal.

    While in the hospital, Floyd was forced to take drug tests, which all came back negative for drugs.

    They eventually charged him with not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign. Floyd even disputes this charge. One of the officers, as you will see in the video, was previously cited by the government for falsely planting evidence.

    I have tweets about that officer.
    At the root of the brutal beating of #FloydDent is one man. Perpetually violent and corrupt. William (Bill) “Robocop” Melendez. Dig deeper.
    This is William Melendez. The officer who nearly killed #FloydDent. Read this.
    More on Officer William Melendez. He has killed unarmed people before. Planted evidence. Threatened witnesses.
    Beyond being absolutely preposterous, #FloydDent passed every drug test they gave him. Worked at Ford for 37 years. Never arrested once.
    Full of sketchiness. #Robocop @ShaunKing That man has made a lot of headlines.

  36. rq says

    Nebraska senator compares police to ISIS, says he’d shoot a cop. And now I’m confused – some have compared Ferguson protestors to ISIS, now the cops… which is it???? :P

    A black Nebraska state senator compared American police to Islamic terrorists and suggested he’d shoot a cop if only he had a weapon.

    State Sen. Ernie Chambers said during a legislative hearing on gun bills Friday that you don’t have to go halfway around the world to find an ISIS mentality. It can be found in America because police terrorize blacks every day.

    He was referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which has beheaded journalists and brutally executed Westerners and others.

    “My ISIS is the police,” Chambers said, adding police can get away with shooting people if they “think” they’re going to do something — like pull a weapon.

    “The police are licensed to kill us — children, old people,” he said.

    After his comments were reported by Nebraska Watchdog and picked up by national media outlets, several Nebraska officials called on him to apologize and a senator said lawmakers are considering censuring him. […]

    “I wouldn’t go to Syria, I wouldn’t go to Iraq, I wouldn’t go to Afghanistan, I wouldn’t go to Yemen, I wouldn’t go to Tunisia, I wouldn’t go to Lebanon, I wouldn’t go to Jordan, I would do it right here,” Chambers said. “Nobody from ISIS ever terrorized us as a people as the police do daily.” […]

    “If I was going to carry a weapon, it wouldn’t be against you, it wouldn’t be against these people who come here that I might have a dispute with. Mine would be for the police,” he said. “And if I carried a gun I’d want to shoot him first and then ask questions later, like they say the cop ought to do.”

    During an interview Tuesday, Chambers, who is no stranger to fiery rhetoric and controversy, back-pedaled a bit. He said people in his community feel terrorized by police who can shoot them and are often cleared. He pointed to a recent case of an unarmed Omaha man shot twice in the back by a cop.

    “I don’t carry a weapon. I’ve never carried a weapon,” he said. “But if I were in the situation that some people are in … if you’re going to follow the rule available to cops, just shoot somebody and come up with an alibi.”

    However, he said he knows young people in his community look up to him and might take his comments literally.

    “I’m not advocating that anybody, especially anybody in my community, go out and shoot people,” Chambers said.

    Chambers said he was drawing a parallel between people being murdered by ISIS and American citizens killed by police who subsequently are cleared of criminal wrongdoing.

    “They’re encouraged and they’re given a free pass,” he said. “All you (police) have to say is you felt like you were in danger, then a citizen could say, ‘I will shoot first and ask questions later.’ ”

    He’s pushed local, state and federal officials to stop the flow of guns into his north Omaha community. If weapons were coming into “the white community,” he said, officials would jump on it.

    “As long as that happens, the violence will continue,” Chambers said of guns flooding north Omaha.

    Audio at the link, but I especially love this part of the article:

    Although Chambers regularly makes inflammatory statements, his most outrageous comments are rarely covered by Nebraska media — in part because he’s been making them for years.

    He’s seen by many as a lovable curmudgeon, iconic liberal and defender of the downtrodden. He is a 77-year-old independent who has served 40 years in the Legislature and often talks about slavery, racial tension and Christian hypocrisy.

    So… he’s been ignored by media until he says something violent against the status quo. Nice one there, media.

    Journalist penalized for participating in marches: KSDK silent on newsroom aide who helmed Ferguson marches

    A KSDK newsroom employee who helped the station cover one civil rights protest — and then organized, promoted and participated in another — may or may not keep her job.

    Station officials refused to say Wednesday whether Jana Marie Gamble still works as a part-time production assistant after questions arose about her promotion of a protest last weekend in Ferguson.

    “We do not discuss personnel matters,” said Marv Danielski, KSDK’s station manager.

    When asked if KSDK viewers had a right to know if Gamble would be involved in any of Channel 5’s future coverage of Ferguson, Danielski repeated: “My policy is that we do not talk about personnel matters.”

    Previously, Danielski said production assistants do not make editorial decisions, and only work the teleprompter and provide technical support.

    But on the KSDK website, about 45 photographs that Gamble took at rallies in early March in Selma, Ala., are posted with a Farrah Fazal story entitled “Selma: Then & Now.”

    Also from the Selma event, Gamble posted photos to her production company’s Facebook page that are tagged with hashtags referencing both the television station (#KSDK) and her own company (#It’sAGambleProduction). […]

    Photos of the Ferguson gathering posted to her Facebook page bore an “It’s a Gamble Production” logo, but did not reference KSDK. Many of the photos can still be seen on the Facebook page for the Leadership Coalition for Justice, Baruti and Shahid’s group.

    On the coalition’s Facebook page, Gamble recently wrote about the criticism she has received since “my involvement in assisting with this Cause …”

    Florissant, St. Louis County face new civil rights lawsuit. Another one!

    An African-American man from North County who authorities said died in 2013 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound was actually killed by police, a civil rights lawsuit filed Tuesday by his daughters alleges.

    The federal suit, filed in U.S District Court in St. Louis against the city of Florissant, St. Louis County and six law enforcement officials, is the latest in a string of legal complaints against North County municipalities following the events of last fall that are now collectively called Ferguson.

    The lawsuit alleges that on Oct. 20, 2013, Afolabi Abayomi was shot and killed in his driveway in the 10100 block of Winkler Drive in unincoporated St. Louis County by Florissant police officers Andrew Gerwitz and Joshua Smith, who are both white. Abayomi was 44 years old.

    Miami: LOOK: Outside the Miami Gardens City Commission Meeting: “Welcome to Suspect City: Cops show up, body counts go UP”
    1,100 names demanding the release of the video and audio involving the shooting death of Lavall Hall. Fl. St. 406.136

    Soledad O’Brien on Starbucks and race: ‘It’s okay to ask and it’s okay to answer’

    Soledad O’Brien watched the vitriol aimed at Starbucks scroll across her Twitter feed. The former CNN anchor, who now heads up her own media production company, Starfish Media Group, had a particular interest in the “Race Together” campaign, in which the coffee giant had encouraged baristas to kindle conversations on race by writing the slogan on coffee cups. O’Brien, 48, recently returned from a national tour of college campuses where she had convened a series of conversations on race. The tour was a follow-up to her company’s CNN documentary series “Black in America” about the experiences of U.S. blacks.

    O’Brien says she was chagrined by the criticism of Starbucks but not completely surprised.

    “The people on Twitter who have responded….I don’t think they even realize the luxury of their position,” says O’Brien, a married mother of four, and daughter of a black Cuban woman and a white Australian man of Irish descent. “They say ‘I don’t want to have these conversations about race when I’m getting my cappuccino.’ … Well, I don’t want to have these conversations about race either. … But I have this conversation all the time. I have it when someone says to me, ‘You’re not really black’, or ‘You speak so well for being black’ or ‘If you’re Latino, you can’t be black.’ Black and Latino people have these conversations all the time.”

    O’Brien sides with Starbucks in its effort to bring more Americans into the fray. “I think for Starbucks there was something — well, brave isn’t quite the right word — but there was something aggressively interested in challenging people to have a conversation who were not the kind of people who generally have these conversations.”

    In an interview, O’Brien talked about what she learned about Americans’ attitudes about race on her tour, what life as a person of color has taught her, and how people might best go about launching conversations about race in their daily lives. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

    Interview follows at the article.

  37. rq says

    Va. Gov. Orders Retraining for ABC Police

    Gov. Terry McAuliffe ordered state liquor agents retrained Wednesday following a high profile arrest that left a University of Virginia student bloodied and shouting allegations of racism.

    The executive order requires Virginia’s approximately 130 Alcoholic Beverage Control agents to complete additional training on the use of force, cultural diversity, community policing and interaction with youth by Sept. 1.

    It also establishes a law enforcement panel to review ABC practices and make recommendations by Nov. 1 and requires the agency’s law enforcement arm to work with police in college towns to improve operations. […]

    Watkins [lawyer for Martese Johnson] said the order illustrates “that we all share a common belief: It is important for all law enforcement agencies to act within the bounds of the law.”

    ABC spokeswoman Kathleen Shaw said the agency has already begun working to improve training and will comply with the governor’s order.

    About 500 students demanded answers about the arrest and ABC tactics from law enforcement officials during a forum at U.Va. two days after the arrest. Dissatisfied with responses that they considered too broad, representatives of a black students’ organization shouted in unison, “Answer the question we asked.” They marched out before the event was over with their fists raised, chanting “Black lives matter.”[…]

    ABC agents have begun wearing uniforms, another reform promised after the Daly incident, but has not yet made good on a pledge to require agents to wear body cameras. ABC said the governor has asked a state panel to determine how best to employ the technology for all state law enforcement agencies.

    I’m not sure what the entire conversation here was, but: @GreatDismal Apologies, you were right. I had no idea that legalized slavery was in the confederate constitution. Just putting that out there.

    Yesterday Pteryxx had an article on gas chambers, and I mentioned Utah. Here’s more on the firing squad: Utah brings back the firing squad, so how does it work?

    WHAT HAPPENS ON EXECUTION DAY?

    The prisoner is seated in a chair that is set up in front of a wood panel and in between stacked sandbags that keep the bullets from ricocheting around the room.

    A target is pinned over the inmate’s heart. Shooters aim for the chest rather than the head because it’s a bigger target and usually allows for a faster death, said Utah Rep. Paul Ray, who sponsored the proposal.

    The prisoner is offered a two-minute window to offer final words. In 1977, Gary Gilmore used that chance to say, “Let’s do this,” before he died.

    Five shooters set up about 25 feet from the chair, with their .30-caliber Winchester rifles pointing through slots in a wall. Assuming they hit their target, the heart ruptures and the prisoner dies quickly from blood loss.

    In 2010, Ronnie Lee Gardner was declared dead two minutes after he was shot. He was the last person killed by firing squad in the U.S.

    ___

    WHO ARE THE SHOOTERS?

    The gunmen are chosen from a pool of volunteer officers, with priority given to those from the area where the crime happened.

    There are always more volunteers than spots on the squad, Ray has said.

    The shooters’ identities are kept anonymous, and one of their rifles is loaded with a blank round so nobody knows which officer killed the inmate.

    ___

    HAVE FIRING SQUAD EXECUTIONS EVER GONE WRONG?

    Not in recent history, said Deborah Denno, a Fordham Law School professor who has long studied executions. Utah’s three firing squad executions in the past four decades went as planned, she said.

    But the Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment, warns that a firing squad is not a foolproof execution method because the inmate could move or the shooters could miss the heart, causing a slower, more painful death.

    One such case appears to have happened in 1879, during Utah’s territorial days, when a firing squad missed Wallace Wilkerson’s heart and it took him 27 minutes to die, according to newspaper accounts.

    Denno said errant shots to Wilkerson’s shoulder might have been intentional to make him suffer.

    ___

    CAN ORGANS BE DONATED AFTER FIRING SQUAD EXECUTIONS?

    Yes. Unlike a lethal injection that poisons the organs, the bodies of people executed by firing squad remain usable.

    Gilmore, executed by firing squad in 1977, agreed to donate his eyes, kidneys, liver and pituitary gland for medical use. His kidneys proved unusable because of bullet wounds.

    Gardner did not donate his organs.

    Okay, I find the whole discussion pretty disgusting, but scroll back to this part: “The gunmen are chosen from a pool of volunteer officers, with priority given to those from the area where the crime happened.” How is that impartial execution of justice, if they leave the execution wide open for retributive shooting? Isn’t that a conflict of interest?

    Standoff. Protest, a history. Photo of a crowd of white-clothed Klan members facing a crowd of black protestors.

    Here’s one for contrast, #CrimingWhileWhite. Christian family band who sang about End Times arrested after deadly gunfight in Arizona Walmart parking lot. Wanna guess how many of them are dead by police?

    An evangelical Christian family band that believed in a coming Jesus Apocalypse was arrested last Saturday following a deadly gunfight outside a Walmart parking lot in Cottonwood, Arizona. Nine suspects were involved in a violent brawl that left at least one person dead. Suspects arrested from the Gaver family included Peter Gaver, 55, and his sons, Jeremiah, 29, and Nathaniel, 27, all from the small-time Christian band Matthew 24 Now.

    That’s right. None.

    Black girls’ sexual burden: Why Mo’ne Davis was really called a “slut”

    Mo’ne Davis is a Black girl wunderkind. At age 13, she has pitched a shutout at the Little League World Series, becoming the first girl ever to do so, and she has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Disney is now planning to do a movie about her called, “Throw Like Mo.”

    I’m not ashamed to admit that I still watch the Disney Channel, and I will certainly be tuning in. But everyone isn’t as excited as I am to see a Black girl on the come up. Last week, Joey Casselberry, a sophomore baseball player from Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania, called Mo’ne a “slut” in response to the news about the movie. He was subsequently expelled from the team.

    In response, Davis has forgiven him and she and her coach have asked that he be reinstated. About Casselberry, Davis released a statement, which said:

    Everyone makes mistakes and everyone deserves a second chance. I know he didn’t mean it in that type of way, and I know a lot of people get tired of like seeing me on TV but just think about what you’re doing before you actually do it. I know right now he’s really hurt and I know how hard he worked just to get where he is right now.

    Her level of empathy is remarkable but not particularly surprising. Black girls learn almost from the womb to empathize with others, even when those others have committed deep injustices toward us. Perhaps it is the unparalleled level of our suffering that makes us always look with empathy upon others.

    But I am troubled. It is absolutely wonderful that Davis has this kind of care and concern and a heart so huge that she can forgive a nearly adult person for insulting her. It goes without saying that she’s a better person than Casselberry.

    But she should not have to be. For starters, he meant what he said. One doesn’t slip up and mistakenly call a young teen girl a slut. Second, it bothers me that she sounds almost apologetic about how much others have to see her on television. Girls in our culture are taught that they should never take up too much space, that they should be seen (and look real pretty), but not heard. And Black girls in our culture are damn near invisible, whether in regards to their triumphs or their struggles.

    Lest we think this inappropriate sexual shaming of Black girls is an isolated incident, let us not forget that in 2013, The Onion “jokingly” referred to then 9-year old actress Quvenzhané Wallis, as a “c*nt” in reference to her Oscar nomination that year for Beasts of the Southern Wild. […]

    The fact that Black girl artists and athletes are understood only in terms of a sexuality that they may not even have begun to articulate for themselves should concern us. That their sexuality is already being publicly circumscribed by white men (and the anonymous Onion tweeter) in dirty and shameful terms is appalling.

    Even more concerning is Davis’ identification of Casselberry as “really hurt,” and as a person who has “worked hard to get where he is right now.” Black girls learn early and often the script of toting around someone else’s pain. We learn to identify with those who have abused us, to see their humanity, even when they don’t see ours. […]

    Recently the African American Policy Forum released a report called “Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced, and Underprotected.” There are a number of troubling findings in this report. One is that Black girls are six times more likely than white girls to be suspended from school. Among boys, who are suspended more often than girls no matter their race, Black boys were three times more likely to be suspended than white boys. This suggests that Black girls actually suffer a higher instance of racially disparate treatment in matters of school discipline than their Black male counterparts. It also indicates that school is not a particularly safe space for either our girls or our boys.

    The report also found that Black girls experience a high degree of sexual harassment and interpersonal violence in their schools and that this is often dismissed as “boys will be boys.” In other words, Black girls’ sexual security is a routine casualty of boys’ sexual maturation process. School officials are frequently reticent in addressing the problem, but when girls respond to harassment by defending themselves, they are often subject to zero-tolerance measures by school officials.

    Until very recently, I had forgotten my own harrowing experience of continued sexual harassment as an elementary school kid. In the 3rd grade, I took the bus home from school. For some reason, there were a number of older boys on the bus, who to my 8-year old me, seemed really big and really scary. They were probably around the age of 12 or 13. But each day a group of them, led by a ringleader named Gregory, would begin the taunts and jeers. They knew that I was a latchkey kid, that I got off the bus everyday, climbed the hill to our 2-bedroom apartment, and let myself in with a single key hanging from an ice cream cone key chain. So they began to threaten that they were going to get off the bus with me, follow me into my house, and do things to me. The level of menace on the face of the ringleader, the intentional way that he looked at me, the perverse pleasure he got from seeing me squirm in fear, made me believe him. I’m unsure how long it went on –weeks, months. Eventually I told my mother. And it was a very uncomfortable conversation to have, since I had only recently even been taught what sex was! With one phone call to the bus driver, the harassment stopped. I got on the bus, and Greg was curiously silent. I was relieved. […]

    I recognize that I’m supposed to celebrate Mo’ne Davis’ character and applaud for her being so generous. To be clear, I’m mega proud of Davis. She’s an absolute superstar in my book. I love it when Black girls win. And she is winning. But as both a scholar and a former Black girl, I know that Black women’s prodigious capacity for empathy comes with a cost. Davis’ pain matters here. Not Casselberry’s. Too often Black women and Black girls on their way to becoming Black women are taught that everyone else’s pain matters more than our own. Too often we teach Black girls that they have to lose to win. Mo’ne, a consummate athlete, knows better than that.

    That invisibility of Black girl pain costs us our self-confidence, our emotional wellness, our livelihoods and sometimes our lives. And that is not a win. Mo’ne Davis deserves our love, our support, and our advocacy. Sexist and racist behavior is for losers. And we need to call it out, denounce it, dismantle it, and make space for Black girls to win.

  38. rq says

    Your Guide to the Worst Anti-Racism Campaign Ever, via Skepchick.

    Let’s start with the serious problems this creates for the poor barista. These people are not paid nearly enough to deal with the highly touchy and nuanced subject of race, nor are they provided with any training about how to start these conversations. Also somehow they have to balance “the customer is always right” with “that was an incredibly racist thing to say, you asshole”. It’s all too easy to imagine this initiative backfiring on the baristas who have far less money and power than the folks who decided the whole thing was a good idea.

    There’s also the problem that setting up conversations about race is something that takes a lot of practice and work. Some people spend their whole lives facilitating these types of conversations, and they have to set up some serious ground rules to keep things civil and useful. Usually conversations about race require a lot of basic education about concepts like structural racism and privilege. Usually there’s also some sort of moderator to keep things from getting out of hand, cruel, or straight out offensively racist. There is literally no way for any of these helpful ground rules to be set in a two minute interaction while a line of people are growing impatient for their morning espresso. A useful conversation about race cannot be had in 20 seconds.

    It’s also worth noting the language that Starbucks used to introduce the campaign: “we at Starbucks should be willing to talk about these issues in America,” CEO Howard Schultz said. “Not to point fingers or to place blame, and not because we have answers, but because staying silent is not who we are.” They refer to a race problem. Nowhere do they mention “racism”. America’s problem is less about the ability to talk about race and more about the ability to talk about racism, but Starbucks doesn’t feel the need to bring up that little issue. They appear to be taking no stand on things like police brutality, or the killing of people of color. That’s worrisome at best.

    As the cherry on top of this “we have no idea how to actually contribute” cake, the news releases refer to Michael Brown and Eric Garner, but there is no Starbucks to be found in the entirety of Ferguson or in the neighborhood where Garner lived. [..]

    While it’s entirely possible that this was all a misguided but well-intentioned attempt at discussing race, it’s not a big surprise that it ended so prematurely. It might be time for Starbucks bigwigs to spend some time in a conversation about race with people who actually study it.

    The Interim Chief of the Ferguson PD’s first public comments are that protestors are abusing the police and that we aren’t peaceful. Sounds like a great start.

    Transparency! Accountability!! Repercussions!!! No. Arizona Legislature Passes Bill to Keep Cops’ Names Secret After They Shoot Civilians

    On Tuesday the Arizona Legislature passed a bill that would forbid any state agency from releasing the name of police officers who shoot a civilian when that shooting results in death or “serious physical injury.” The act would bar law enforcement, as well as all government entities, from releasing an officer’s name for 60 days following the incident. If the officer has a disciplinary record, or is disciplined as a result of the shooting, his name may still not be released for the full 60 days. The act now heads to Gov. Doug Ducey for a signature.

    Supporters of the bill claim it is designed to protect law enforcement from harassment following a shooting. The Arizona Police Association strongly supports the measure, in part because its members are afraid that protesters will march in front of the homes of officers who shoot unarmed civilians. Critics insist that the bill will only exacerbate public frustration with the police by decreasing transparency and accountability. They also note that Arizona law already allows police to withhold sensitive information, like home addresses, of police officers when safety may be a concern.

    The bill easily passed both houses of Arizona’s Republican-dominated legislature. The only real controversy was whether the gag order would last for 60 or 90 days, and whether law enforcement could ever release information about disciplinary proceedings against officers involved in shootings. Ducey, a Republican, has not yet declared whether he will sign the bill into law.

    Protesters want 2 Inkster police officers fired after video shows them beating motorist – that’s the least that should happen.

    Inkster Police Chief Vicki Yost met protesters Wednesday and said the incident is being investigated by Michigan State Police. She says the officers are on paid leave.

    The Rev. Charles Williams II threatened to “shut Inkster down until we get justice.” Yost says she’s not hiding anything but won’t take further action until the investigation is completed.

    Might be a repost.

    “This is what happens to black men in America” – Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard Scholar @notjustuva #NotJustUVa Story from 2009. Gates was a Harvard professor arrested at his own home because he couldn’t get the lock open.

    Feedback from last meeting about what stands in the way of racial reconciliation in #stl #STLForward . List includes: no space for healing, fragmentation and segregation, history and institutional policy, need for power within black community.

  39. rq says

    A new study suggests people have a hard time believing black and Latina women are scientists

    Forty-eight percent of black women and 47 percent of Latina women said they’d had this experience. The numbers for white and Asian women are lower but still disturbing, at 32 percent and 23 percent, respectively.

    Those are just some of the findings from new research reported by the Harvard Business Review. The takeaway of the study, by Joan C. Williams, Katherine W. Phillips, and Erika V. Hall, is that personal choices aren’t the only reason women decide to leave STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers. The bias they face in the workplace once they enter these jobs plays a huge role, too. And unsurprisingly that bias is especially intense and takes different forms when it comes to women of color.

    The researchers interviewed 60 female scientists and surveyed 557 more, and confirmed Williams’s previous findings that there are four major patterns of bias women face at work:

    Having to prove their competence over and over again
    Walking a tightrope between being seen as too feminine to be competent and too masculine to be likable
    Having their commitment to their work and their competence questioned after they start families
    Navigating the tense relationships between women that result from the gender bias they all face

    They also uncovered a fifth pattern that applied mostly to black and Latina women: isolation. These women said they were excluded from social events with their STEM colleagues (or excluded themselves because of negative experiences or fear of being judged), and that they fielded offensive comments and assumptions based on their identities.

    Things like being mistaken for custodial and administrative staff understandably contributed to this experience.

    This may be a repost, too, but worth a reread.

    Black America Is Just 72 Percent Equal To White America. In Some Areas, The Inequality Is Worse Than That. Almost as equal as women!

    A report released last week holds troubling findings about lasting inequality across the African-American community.

    The 2015 “State of Black America” study, conducted by the National Urban League, finds that black Americans fare worse than their white peers across a variety of indicators, including economics, social justice and overall equality. The report, issued every year since 1976, showed modest gains in some areas, but leaves plenty of concerns about the speed of progress more than 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

    “What do we say and how would we frame the state of black America for 2015? I must use the word crisis,” said Marc H. Morial, president and chief executive of the National Urban League, at a Thursday news conference in Washington, D.C.

    Here’s a breakdown of some of the study’s key findings.
    [chart]
    Equality in social justice, health and economics showed small increases from 2014, when those numbers stood at 56.9 percent, 78.2 percent and 55.4 percent, respectively. The National Urban League explains that the nearly 4 percentage-point increase in the social justice index is a result of “fewer Blacks being victims of violent crimes and fewer Black high school students carrying weapons, while at the same time, the rate for white high school students increased.”

    The smaller increase in health equality was attributed in part to increased coverage under the Affordable Care Act, while the minor bump in economic equality was the “result of improvements in the income, poverty and home loan denial camps.” The report also points out that unemployment and homeownership gaps widened over the same period.

    The “State of Black America” report also showed disturbing inequality across a set of key education indicators.
    [chart]
    In addition to data on fourth- and eighth-grade proficiency levels, the report also analyzed equality in high school graduation rates and found that black students in some states are graduating at rates up to 35 percent lower than their white counterparts. In Nebraska, the state with the lowest equality index, the high school graduation rate for black students was 65 percent the rate of white students.

    The map below plots some key black-white income disparities in metropolitan areas across the nation.
    [map]
    Income inequality between black and white residents was most rampant in the San Francisco metro area, where the median income for white households was $95,285 and only $39,902 for black households. The report also analyzed employment equality in metropolitan areas across the country, finding that Jackson, Mississippi, rated the worst, with 14 percent unemployment among black residents and 3.9 percent unemployment among whites.

    Link to the full report: here.

    NYPD Commissioner To Privacy Advocates: ‘Get A Life’. Stay classy, Bratton.

    Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the launch of ShotSpotter last week. The $1.5 million program, which has been implemented in other cities, consists of a series of publicly mounted microphones intended to capture the sounds of gunfire and send data to police in real time about where the shooting is happening.

    At a press conference announcing the launch, de Blasio said that the technology “increases the chances of catching the shooter. It increases the chances of recovering the weapon. It increases the chances of stopping further crime.”

    But it can also, on occasion, increase the chances of authorities listening in on people’s conversations. Conversations recorded by ShotSpotter have been used to convict people in murder trials in Oakland, California, and New Bedford, Connecticut, raising concerns among civil liberties advocates.

    Pressed about those concerns earlier this week by Rita Cosby on her Sunday WABC show, Bratton said “the advocates have to get a life.”

    “We’re not out there eavesdropping,” he said. “That’s not what the system does. That’s not what it’s designed to do. That’s not what it’s capable of. So get a life. Move on to some other issue. We’re not out there eavesdropping on public conversations. I got enough to do without doing that.”

    Still, privacy advocates could be forgiven for being wary of the NYPD.

    In recent years, the department has spied on Muslim communities and protesters, stopped and frisked hundreds of thousands of people illegally and maintained a camera surveillance program called the Domain Awareness System, which watches over much of Manhattan.

    The New York Civil Liberties Union has not made any public comment about ShotSpotter. A spokesperson told The Huffington Post Wednesday that the organization is still studying the technology.

    Racial bias, cronyism tearing apart N.J. National Guard, senior officers allege

    The New Jersey National Guard prides itself on rigor and readiness, and, from its sprawling base southeast of Trenton, its members became a beacon of help after Tropical Storm Irene and Hurricane Sandy ravaged portions of the state.

    But internal records obtained by NJ Advance Media show the Guard now faces a storm of its own, with at least four senior officers, including two top minorities, alleging a “toxic command climate,” fueled by racial discrimination and retaliatory actions.

    The officers accuse the adjutant general, Brig. Gen. Michael Cunniff, and the director of the joint staff, Brig. Gen. James Grant, of stunting the careers of critics and rewarding loyalists and friends with educational opportunities and promotions.

    Among allegations in the documents, one of the most senior officers, who is Hispanic, claimed he was cut out from command decisions, passed over for promotion, undermined by Cunniff and Grant, and eventually forced to go on leave.

    Another senior officer claimed he was targeted for not backing the former adjutant general in a 2011 sex scandal that led to the general’s removal.

    A third claimed he fell out of favor when he questioned the dismissal of a large number of African Americans from a technician force.

    And in September, the state inspector general found for a fourth senior officer who claimed Cunniff unfairly targeted him for removal despite his good performance. His removal from a coveted job later was reversed.

    Taken together, the records reveal serious discord at the top of the 8,600-member force as the Guard’s commander-in-chief, Gov. Chris Christie, eyes a 2016 run for president.

    “The organization is less effective, more disruptive and compromised at all levels due to (Cunniff’s) lack of leadership,” according to a letter sent to the U.S. Department of the Army inspector general by four senior officers, who asked federal authorities to investigate Grant’s “tyrannical behavior.”

    Chief Warrant Officer Patrick Daugherty, a spokesman for the Guard and the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, said all complaints are taken seriously and given fair consideration, but there “is not any turmoil in the organization.”

    “There may be turmoil amongst those who aren’t happy with command decisions, but the organization is quite healthy and continues to provide top-notch support to our state and nation,” Daugherty said. “We’re not a department in crisis right now.”

    Crisis, no crisis – who the hell knows, right? More:

    In related allegations, filed Dec. 8 with the Guard’s Equal Employment Opportunity officer, Col. John Langston accused Cunniff and Grant of racial discrimination for not considering him for Alvarado’s job as chief of staff.

    Langston, a full-time active guard member who is black, claimed he was qualified for the position and had excellent evaluations, including one from August in which Grant himself stated he was “one of the top three colonels,” was “earmarked…for a brigade-level command” and should be groomed “for promotion to brigadier general.”

    After being made chief-of-staff, the complaint said, Perron reassigned Langston from director of operations and training at the Joint Training and Training Development Center to commanding officer, a move he called a “demotion.” Perron declined comment for this story.

    “I am being professionally neutered,” wrote Langston, 51, of Newark.

    He said the move was retaliation for questioning Perron’s staff about the recent departure of six black members from a technician force. He said in the complaint Perron came to his office “incensed” and wanted to know why the inquiry was made, and then became agitated and demanded his source for the information.

    “I believe (Perron’s) past relationship with BG Grant has earned him preferential treatment,” Langston wrote. “I further believe BG Grant and Col. Perron conspired to deny me education, and removed me from my position solely because I am black.”

    Langston also alleged he was denied continuing education opportunities afforded to other colonels, saying in the complaint, “the only exception is I am black.”

    Alvarado and Langston are not the first to accuse Grant of discrimination.

    In 2001, while Grant worked for State Police, an administrative law judge ruled in favor of a female sergeant who accused him of gender discrimination, stripping her of duties, subjecting her to an internal investigation and blocking future promotion.

    The judge noted “the flagrant hostility of Grant” and ruled his testimony, including his denials in the matter, were “not credible,” according to the decision.

    Daugherty, a spokesman for the Guard, declined comment on the State Police case.

    And even more at the link.

  40. rq says

    Here’s some stuff I picked up from Tony:
    Two pdfs – Seeing Black: Race, Crime, and Visual Processing, which is a rather frightening study about law enforcement officers and perceptions of race in determining is someone is a suspect or not:

    Using police officers and undergraduates as participants, the authors investigated the influence of stereotypic associations on visual processing in 5 studies. Study 1 demonstrates that Black faces influence participants’ ability to spontaneously detect degraded images of crime-relevant objects. Conversely, Studies 2–4 demonstrate that activating abstract concepts (i.e., crime and basketball) induces attentional biases toward Black male faces. Moreover, these processing biases may be related to the degree to which
    a social group member is physically representative of the social group (Studies 4–5). These studies, taken together, suggest that some associations between social groups and concepts are bidirectional and operate as visual tuning devices—producing shifts in perception and attention of a sort likely to influence decision making and behavior.

    … And RACE AND PUNISHMENT:
    RACIAL PERCEPTIONS OF CRIME AND SUPPORT FOR PUNITIVE POLICIES
    , from the Sentencing Project.

    How News Outlets Help Convince You That Most Criminals Are Black. Read this.

    Compared to the percentage of crimes they actually commit, African Americans are grossly overrepresented on local news broadcasts about criminal activity, according to a new report from Media Matters for America. In New York City alone, black people make up 75 percent of criminals discussed on local channels, whereas they only make up 51 percent of the actual arrest rate.

    Between August and December last year, WABC, WNBC, and WCBS overrepresented black people in theft, assault, and murder coverage. On WABC, WNBC, and WCBS, respectively, 82 percent, 73 percent, and 70 percent of all wrongdoers were black. However, data from 2010-2013, shows that black people only account for 55 percent of murders, 49 percent of assaults, and 55 percent of thefts in the city. Out of all murders covered on WABC, which Media Matters assigned an “F” grade, 78 percent were committed by a black person. Similarly, 82 percent and 85 percent of assaults and thefts, respectively, involved black perpetrators. On average, WNYW/FOX5, which received a “B” rating, reported far fewer criminal incidents than other mainstream outlets, but 100 percent of reported thefts were committed by black perpetrators. […]

    Unfortunately, media bias parallels extensive research that shows how African Americans are far more criminalized than their white counterparts, nationwide. One study about “who looks criminal” determined that police officers frequently associate black faces with criminal behavior. According to a 2010 survey, white people overestimated African Americans’ participation in burglaries, illegal drug sales and juvenile crime by 20-30 percent. Additionally, white people support stricter criminal justice policies if they think that more black people are arrested as a result.

    Despite widespread racial bias, though, social media has begun to take traditional media to task on its misrepresentation of black criminals — and victims. In the wake of Michael Brown’s death, national news outlets shared a photo of the deceased in a jersey, jeans, and making a hand gesture that could be perceived as a gang sign. Shortly thereafter, the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown became a trending topic on Twitter, as people shared side-by-side photos of traditionally acceptable and stereotypically unacceptable poses. News stations were also called out for their silence surrounding the NAACP bombing in Colorado.

    And this: Editor For Top Industry Publication Says There Is Too Much Diversity On TV. I didn’t know too much diversity was a hting.

    How does one respond to the story, written by Deadline TV editor Nellie Andreeva and posted Tuesday evening, with the headline, “Pilots 2015: The Year Of Ethnic Castings – About Time Or Too Much Of Good Thing?”

    Maybe the story won’t be so bad, a person could generously think upon reading that headline. Don’t judge the entire piece on the headline.

    But then the article reads: “Instead of opening the field for actors of any race to compete for any role in a color-blind manner, there has been a significant number of parts designated as ethnic this year, making them off-limits for Caucasian actors, some agents signal.” She goes on to cite an unnamed talent representative who claimed “50 percent of the roles in a pilot have to be ethnic.”

    This kind of crying “reverse racism” reads less like a story that could actually get published in a major publication and more like something we’d see in an email that leaked after the Sony hack.

    Andreeva is looking at what has been a widely celebrated season of freshman shows that feature casts who (finally!) look like America: Empire, Jane the Virgin, How to Get Away with Murder, Black-ish, Fresh off the Boat. But instead of seeing what just about everyone else can see — gangbusters ratings, fantastic performances, sharp writing — Andreeva sees a dangerous precedent being set, wherein parts that “should” go to white actors are snatched away by actors of color. (Or, to use Andreeva’s ill-chosen terminology, “ethnic actors.” Andreeva’s piece employs the word “ethnic” 21 times, headline included.)
    […]

    The word “peak” jumps off the page. It calls to mind Two and a Half Men creator Lee Aronsohn’s complaint in 2012 that “we’re approaching peak vagina on television, the point of labia saturation.” A handful of new female-centric shows — at the time, we’re talking about Girls, 2 Broke Girls, and Whitney — and Aronsohn, a man responsible for a show that systematically treated women like disposable objects, felt like maybe Hollywood was overdoing it with the lady stuff. A few new shows. For 51 percent of the population.

    Andreeva is perpetuating this notion that the addition of shows that explore the lives of people of color is somehow a threatening thing. But, threatening to whom? TV writers’ rooms are still dominated by white men. Latino men have practically from TV and film as leading actors; on TV and in film, Latinos are portrayed primarily as criminals, law enforcement, maids and cheap labor. FOTB is the first Asian-American sitcom to air in the U.S. in 20 years.

    The other huge blind spot in Andreeva’s piece is this: she seems to be suggesting that the only viewers who benefit from programs featuring people of color are people of color. But everyone benefits from outstanding television. To state something so obvious it is difficult to believe it must be stated: you don’t have to be black to like Empire, you don’t have to be Latino to like Jane the Virgin, you don’t have to be Asian to like FOTB. Good shows are good shows are good shows. And for the love of a country that grows more diverse by the day, “ethnic casting” is not a “trend.”

    More on Ferguson courts, Fleece Force: How Police And Courts Around Ferguson Bully Residents And Collect Millions, from Ryan J Reilly.

    Parking had never been an issue in her quiet, suburban community. Pasadena Hills is small, with a population of less than 1,000. But the municipality had recently passed an ordinance requiring those parking overnight to display a $10 residential parking sticker on their vehicles. The notice ordered Scott to come to City Hall to obtain the sticker.

    The city office has extemely limited business hours, however. The seven-hour drive from Huntsville, Alabama, back to Pasadena Hills also made it difficult for Scott to appear in person. Soon, the city began mailing her threatening letters.

    “They sent me a letter and said there would be a warrant out for my arrest if I didn’t come back for this,” Scott told The Huffington Post of her court appearance. “For $10. For parking in front of my house.”

    Such experiences are not uncommon in St. Louis County. According to a scathing report from the U.S. Department of Justice released this month, authorities in nearby Ferguson routinely abused the rights of residents, who were viewed “less as constituents to be protected than as potential offenders and sources of revenue.” Attorney General Eric Holder said the Ferguson Police Department had essentially served as a “collection agency,” with officers competing to see who could issue the largest number of citations.

    A number of Ferguson officials have resigned in the wake of the DOJ report, including the police chief, Thomas Jackson, and the municipal court judge, Ronald Brockmeyer. Yet the problems with municipal courts in St. Louis County extend far beyond Ferguson.

    In dozens of interviews with The Huffington Post over the past several months, residents have called the system “out of control,” “inhumane,” “crazy,” “racist,” “unprofessional” and “sickening.” Some have told stories of being slapped with large fines for minor violations and threatened with jail if they couldn’t pay.

    “Everyone’s got a horror story about the police,” former St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch told HuffPost in a recent interview. “And most of that horror story relates back to being ticketed for some minor violation.”[…]

    In December, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson said he believed some municipalities “victimize those whom they are designed to protect.” In February, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar called some of the current practices “immoral.”

    “If you think that taxation of our citizens through traffic enforcement in St. Louis County is bad, you have no idea how bad it is,” Belmar said.

    There are 90 separate municipalities in all, home to 11 percent of Missouri’s total population. The largest is Florissant, an area of 12 square miles with over 52,000 residents. The smallest, the village of Champ, has just six houses. Population: 13.

    Police are an overwhelming presence in St. Louis County. Nationally, the United States has roughly 2.4 police officers for every 1,000 residents, according to FBI statistics. In many parts of St. Louis County, the ratio is much higher. Beverly Hills, Missouri, with fewer than 600 people covering just 13 blocks, has 14 officers on its police force.

    As in Ferguson, many of these police departments and local courts generate massive amounts of revenue for city coffers. Municipalities in St. Louis County took in $45 million in fines and fees in 2013 — 34 percent of the amount collected statewide — according to Better Together St. Louis, a nonprofit working to improve municipal government in the St. Louis region.

    The municipal courts lie at the heart of this system. There are 81 in all. Some are housed in government buildings that were built for public use. Others, like the ones in Pasadena Hills or nearby Country Club Hills, have been set up in buildings designed as residential homes. Kinloch holds court in the cafeteria of an abandoned elementary school. In Beverly Hills, the police department and court share a building with a pharmacy. There’s an ATM in the lobby, and a payday loan outlet is conveniently located next door.

    The reach of these courts extends beyond traffic and parking violations. Some municipalities require occupancy permits for those who live in their jurisdictions, which in practice means people can be fined for sleeping over at their boyfriend or girlfriend’s house. In some municipalities, overgrown grass or failing to subscribe to a designated trash collection service are offenses that can ultimately lead to an arrest record.

    Even clothing choices can be a target. Pine Lawn has a municipal code that bans saggy pants. One man received a $50 fine in 2012 for wearing pants that were too big for his waist, according to court documents. After he missed two court dates associated with his fashion crime, he was slapped with two additional $125 fines, and for a time, there was a warrant out for his arrest. [… – FOR WEARING BAGGY PANTS – IS PINE LAWN THE FASHION POLICE NOW, TOO? Sorry-not-sorry for yelling.]

    First, court officials called for those who could afford to pay more than $75 toward their outstanding fines to step forward. Next, they called for those who could pay more than $50. Then $40. Then $30. Then $25.

    If you owe the city money and can afford to pay $100 or more per month, you can skip this whole process and mail in your payment or pay in person any other time during the month. But the poor must sit through this ordeal for hours, the doors opened occasionally only so that smokers can take a cigarette break. Those who can afford the least are forced to stay the longest.

    “The time that you’re in court is directly related to the amount of money you can pay. So if you can pay more money, you get out faster,” said Thomas Harvey of ArchCity Defenders, a pro bono legal group that has crusaded against the practices of St. Louis County’s network of municipal courts, where they represent poor clients. “You’re effectively being punished for being poor.”

    Yvonne Fulsom was one of those who had to wait until the bitter end. She had come to the court to make a $25 payment on a $1,000 debt to the city because she let her pitbull urinate in her own yard without a leash. At that rate, she would have to appear in court on the designated night every month for more than three years to pay off the full amount. Miss a night, and she could face arrest.

    The threat of incarceration is a brutally effective tool for ensuring that municipal court payments are prioritized in a poor person’s monthly budget. Ferguson was using arrest warrants “almost exclusively for the purpose of compelling payment through the threat of incarceration,” according to the Justice Department report. The practice is common across St. Louis County. […]

    A University of Missouri–St. Louis student accompanying her boyfriend to court told The Huffington Post that they were “lost and scared” trying to find their way around the nearly abandoned town on a recent court night. Luckily they stumbled upon the right location. Her boyfriend was accused of rolling through a stop sign. An officer banned her and a reporter from the courtroom, in violation of the Missouri constitution. “If your name is not on the docket, you are not allowed in the courtroom,” the officer said.

    Over in St. Ann, one of the most notorious speed traps in St. Louis County, defendants in municipal court appear before Sean O’Hagan, a prosecutor in the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office who serves as a part-time municipal judge. On one night in November, defendant after defendant went before O’Hagan, agreeing to make partial payments or explaining why they couldn’t afford to make good on their outstanding debt.

    O’Hagan ordered one defendant with a skullcap on his head to take his “rag” off. He told a woman holding her infant child to find a babysitter for her next court date, despite a warning from a St. Louis County circuit judge last year pointing out that banning children from municipal courts is also a violation of the state constitution.

    After one defendant said he didn’t have money to make a payment, O’Hagan told him to “get a job” and noted that retail stores would be hiring seasonal workers “like crazy” for the holidays. He refused a lawyer’s request to allow his client to pay off a fine over two years, saying 18 months was the best he could do. “If it’s not paid, it’s going to be revoked,” he said of the defendant’s drivers license. […]

    After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the use of racially restrictive covenants in property deeds in 1948, white leaders turned to ostensibly race-neutral means to maintain housing segregation. They passed zoning laws that allowed for only single-family residences and prohibited public housing and apartment complexes. As real-estate developers pushed into new areas, they often formally designated new municipalities.

    “We have extremely easy laws of incorporation. We can practically have a couple city blocks and if you have the right paperwork, you can incorporate as a city,” said Robert A. Cohn, the author of The History and Growth of St. Louis County, Missouri.

    “If you had six houses and some stationery, you could call yourself a town,” said Colin Gordon, a historian at the University of Iowa who has written about the development of St. Louis area.

    Some municipalities pool together to offer certain government services. The Normandy School District, for example, serves students living in 24 different municipalities. But elected leaders in many of the small cities have resisted merging with their neighbors.

    The hodgepodge of small municipalities with their very own governments has long caused problems. In 1966, a law professor called Missouri’s municipal courts the “misshapen stepchildren of our judicial system” and accused them of overusing arrest warrants.

    But the current situation began to take shape after 1980, when an amendment to the state constitution made it more difficult to raise taxes. As property values declined and businesses went under, many of the small cities started looking for other ways to keep themselves afloat. […]

    The bills in the Missouri legislature build on a number of other efforts currently underway to improve the St. Louis County municipal court system. The Ferguson Commission, appointed by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D), has directed a municipal court task force to propose reforms. The Missouri Attorney General’s Office and the State Auditor’s Office are looking into violations, and lawsuits filed by private litigants against a handful of municipalities are ongoing. The St. Louis County Municipal Court Improvement Committee, lead by longtime municipal court judge Frank Vatterott, is encouraging the courts to voluntarily implement changes, such as letting defendants choose community service instead of fines and offering legal advisers to help people navigate the system.

    Critics say that mere reforms are not enough, however, and that the entire municipal court system needs to be replaced with full-time, professionally operated courts that cannot be so easily pressured by law enforcement and city officials.

    Brendan Roediger, a Saint Louis University School of Law professor heavily involved in efforts to reform the courts, worries that minor changes will leave local authorities with far too much power to continue abusive practices.

    “There really is local control, at least when it comes to oppressing folks,” he said.

    Alec Karakatsanis, a lawyer with Equal Justice Under Law, one of the organizations suing Ferguson and Jennings for essentially running debtors prisons, agreed.

    “We don’t just need a few small tinkering reforms to St. Louis municipal courts,” he said. […]

    Still, the fallout from the DOJ report has been swift, and reformers believe it’s only a matter of time before more changes are made, however piecemeal they may be. The Missouri Supreme Court transferred an appellate judge to take over hearings on municipal violations in Ferguson for the foreseeable future. Municipalities engaged in the same types of practices may be driven to re-examine their operations before state officials, civil rights attorneys or the federal government steps in.

    And the voices of those who have suffered under the current structure, marginalized for so long, are now front and center.

    Lots of stuff in the skipped parts.

    Freshman at Roosevelt sues city schools for directive to take online classes

    A freshman at Roosevelt High School is suing St. Louis Public Schools after the district suspended him from the school’s Virtual Learning Center in October and directed him to take online courses from home.

    The lawsuit filed last week in St. Louis Circuit Court says the student is not getting meaningful education instruction because he cannot access those online courses. He does not have a computer and cannot afford one, the suit says. And the library nearest his home does not allow minors to use its computers during school hours.

    The virtual program at Roosevelt is one of four at city district high schools where students get direction from a teacher and do most of their work online from computers at the school. The student was placed in the program in September after he was involved in a fight.

    In October, the student was suspended from the building indefinitely after allegedly taking bus tickets from a teacher’s cabinet. Since that time, the student “has earned no high school credits thus far this school year and is not making any meaningful progress towards earning any course credits,” the lawsuit says. “He has no meaningful interaction with his fellow students or the virtual program instructor.”

    The district cannot comment on pending litigation, said Jeffrey Ohmer, the district’s attorney. “However, the District is confident that our student discipline practices comply with the requirements set forth in the Revised Statutes of Missouri.”

    Amanda Schneider, a lawyer with Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, which represents the student, said it was the district’s constitutional responsibility to educate all children.

    “This continuing emphasis on suspensions and expulsions, including ‘de facto’ expulsions, fuels the school-to-prison pipeline that plagues our society and the St. Louis region in particular,” she said.

    The freshman is asking to be placed back in Roosevelt’s Virtual Schools Program so he can have access to a computer and instructor, and eventually return to a traditional classroom.

  41. says

    Remember John Crawford, III? The African-American man who was gunned down in Walmart by trigger happy racially biased cops? His father and the family lawyer viewed the surveillance footage from Walmart. Guess what? It doesn’t line up with the police report:

    John was doing nothing wrong in Walmart, nothing more, nothing less than shopping,” Wright said. He explained that the video showed Crawford facing away from officers, talking on the phone, and leaning on the toy gun like a cane. He was allegedly “shot on sight” in a “militaristic” police response.

    “The BB gun was in a down position,” Wright said. “He was kinda using the BB gun as what it looked like was a crutch. He was just leaning on it. And at some point, he raised it up and he was shot and killed. At no point in time was he facing the officers. At no point in time was there any type of suggestive movements or anything like that.”

    However, DeWine is not willing to release the video to the public. I thought the family had the right to view it,” DeWine said. “The mom did not want to view it; I understand it. The dad did view it, (but) to put the video out on TV is not the right thing to do.”

    DeWine claims that releasing the video would taint the jury pool.

    Wright said the family objects to the selective release of evidence. So far, dispatch audio and video on the day of the shooting that has been released, according to the attorney, is biased toward police. “Everything released is one-sided,” Wright said. “There is nothing favorable to John Crawford. You can’t show different pieces, show it all, don’t trickle pieces to gain favor of the public.”

    Two Officers involved in the shooting, Sgt. David Darkow and Sean Williams, were placed on paid vacation initially. Darkow has already been permitted to resume his duties. The other officer remains on administrative leave.

    A special Grand Jury will meet on September 3 to determine if the officers will be charged.

  42. says

    Man arrested and jailed for swearing during a 911 call. He was mad that police wouldn’t perform a courtesy check on his mother, who was ill. She was later found dead.

    On June 20, 2013, a City of Dalton police officer arrested Green for driving under the influence. Green told the arresting officer that his mother was ill and alone. He implored the officer to have someone check on her. No one checked on Ada Green.
    Once incarcerated, Green again notified officials about his mother’s condition. He asked jail staff to send someone to ensure that she was safe. No one checked on Ada Green despite Green’s pleas. Green was still in custody, five days later, when Ada Green was found in her home by a friend, deceased. Devastated, Green was subsequently released from jail and placed on probation for the DUI conviction.

    Nearly a year later, on June 2, 2014, Green dialed 911 and was connected to a 911 dispatcher. Green told the 911 dispatcher that he wanted to see the Dalton police officer who arrested him for DUI in 2013. The 911 operator asked Green ‘What’s the problem?’ Green responded: ‘The problem is he let my momma lay up here and die. That’s the problem.

    During the 82-second 911 phone call, Green did not raise his voice, threaten the 911 dispatcher, or insult her in any way. He used expletives two times, in passing. First, he said, ‘[t]he sorry damn asshole knows me,’ referring to the Dalton police officer who had arrested him in 2013. Later in the conversation he used the words ‘damn bullshit.’”

    After what this man had already been through, due to the incompetence of the police, he was then treated as a common criminal for using words that certainly fall under “protected speech.”

    Additionally, the 9-1-1 operator never even felt “intimidated or harassed,” as required under the law, making the arrest that much more egregious.

    According to Green’s complaint, in a conversation with a sheriff’s deputy after the call, the 9-1-1 operator said that Green “didn’t use a whole lot” of profanity and that “he did say a couple of cuss words, but it wasn’t like complete cusswords.”

    Green was never alleged to have engaged in “fighting words” or “threats of true violence” which both are unprotected forms of speech, rather he simply used swear words to describe a situation.

  43. says

    Ernie Chambers, the longest running Senator in Nebraska compared USAmerican police forces to ISIS:

    “I wouldn’t go to Syria, I wouldn’t go to Iraq, I wouldn’t go to Afghanistan, I wouldn’t go to Yemen, I wouldn’t go to Tunisia, I wouldn’t go to Lebanon, I wouldn’t go to Jordan, I would do it right here,” Chambers said. “Nobody from ISIS ever terrorized us as a people as the police do daily.”

    The beloved senator was pointing out that you don’t have to go halfway around the world to find terrorism. He states that it can be found right here in America where the police have killed 268 Americans, that we know of, in the 84 days since January 1, 2015.

    That is over three people per day, or another life taken every 8 hours.

    When looking at terrorism, the U.S. Department of State reports that only 16 non-military U.S. citizens were killed worldwide as a result of terrorism in 2013, the most recent year that there was available data. This means that as a United States citizen you are 58 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than a terrorist.

  44. says

    Police chief in Louisiana proposes ordinance to ban saggy pants :

    Tuesday night Chief of Police Donald Thompson will bring an ordinance before the council to ban saggy pants, on both men and women in the city.

    Penalties include up to $200 in fines, and 30 days in jail.

    Thompson says residents he’s spoken with are at their wits end when it comes to seeing a rear end.

    “It’s fair to say at least 70% of the residents of Opelousas will support me on this law,” says Opelousas Chief of Police Donald Thompson.

    But that estimation might be a little low. Everyone I spoke to in Opelousas Monday was in support of banning saggy pants.

    “I don’t have a bias against the people that sag their pants. But I have a bias against sagging itself, because of what it’s doing to our community,” says ordinance supporter Bryant Williams.

    No word yet on how saggy pants has an effect on a community.

  45. says

    This story is amusing to a degree, but it’s emblematic of a deeper problem among police officers.
    http://thefreethoughtproject.com/watch-rights-flexing-woman-successfully-stops-cop-arresting-dog-seriously/

    If a video of this incident didn’t exist, it would be nearly impossible to believe. However, Franklin is not only a rights flexing hero, but she also knows the importance of filming police encounters.

    Last weekend, Franklin went to the grocery store with her pit bull in tow like she always does. She left her beloved pet in her own vehicle with the windows cracked while she went into the store. It was not a hot day, and the dog was perfectly safe.

    However, when someone walked near the car, her protective pup barked and growled at this passerby. The passerby, apparently being the good police state participant that they were, then called the police to handle this non-situation.

    When the officer arrived, he was waiting to pounce.

    When Franklin got back to her vehicle, she immediately rolled up the windows and apologized to all those involved. She explained that her dog was normally sweet but very protective of her and her family’s vehicle.

    For most people, this apology for a non-incident would have sufficed. But this cop wanted more. He wanted to take Franklin’s dog.

    “Officer Whipple proceeds to demand my driver’s license. I, of course, refuse, as I have done nothing wrong and then ask him if I am under arrest?” questioned Franklin.

    “Am I under arrest?” Franklin asks.

    “No, but your dog is,” says the cop.

    Franklin then explains to this cop that the dog had not harmed anyone, not gotten loose, and done absolutely nothing wrong. The officer then ran off with his proverbial tail between his legs.

    Because of Franklin’s refusal to be bullied into an unlawful situation, her and her pit bull remain together as best friends.

  46. says

    Geez, the Freethought Project has a *lot* of interesting stories to post. Here’s another one. It’s about good cops.
    http://thefreethoughtproject.com/police-officers-head-d-c-lobby-systemic-policing-reform/

    The National Coalition of Law Enforcement Officers for Justice, Reform and Accountability (NCLEO) is a contingent of current and retired law enforcement officers and whistleblowers. NCLEO will be meeting with a congressional delegation that includes civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to discuss policing reform.

    These former officers seek to assist in helping to reform a system that is severely broken and many times entirely devoid of justice. Problems that range from racial profiling and police brutality to the lack transparency in relation to allegations and complaints of misconduct by officers will be addressed.

    “Modern policing is in a crisis that could lead to a revolution. We need a paradigm shift to get rid of antiquated policing. The insular culture of law enforcement and mental health issues in cops need to be addressed, as well as ingrained racism,” said NCLEO member Alex Salazar, a former LAPD cop turned whistleblower, in an interview with The Free Thought Project.

  47. says

    Trans activist CeCe McDonald- “There is no such thing as prison reform”:

    California prison abolition group Critical Resistance brought CeCe to the Bay Area earlier this fall. I interviewed her on prison abolition strategies, the importance of creative community on the inside, and how to fight back against systemic oppression.

    AK: What kinds of things do you want to see come out of the prison abolition movement?

    CM: In order for us to talk about the abolition of prisons we have to talk about how to prevent people from getting in prisons. How do we change things around current policies and people being in prison? It’s not so much to think about the crimes and how to prevent them–the reality is that not all crimes are preventable.

    We are going to have people who are ignorant. We are going to have people who still are filled with hate. With that we know that cases of hate crimes and violence against women and trans women, violence against the LGBTQIA community, and crimes against people of color are going to still exist.

    Crime is still going to exist, so how do we talk about abolition and not talk about the reality that hate exists? We have to acknowledge that, and figure out how to navigate that there are some people that aren’t easy to convince that: I’m a good person as a black person or I’m a good person as a trans person. We have to understand that. Then maybe we can talk about the realities of what justice could look like.

    AK: Can you talk more about the prison abolition movement compared to prison reform work?

    CM: I feel like true reform would be the actual ending of prison: dismantling the prison system. There is no such thing as saying we can fix it and end it. We can only have it one or the other way.

    A true abolitionist, while thinking of reform, would think of ways to: first, free prisoners, second, dismantle the prison industrial complex and third, find alternative solutions and other ways to deal with crime and punishment and justice, knowing that we all won’t have the same idea of what that is.

    The word ‘reform’ needs to reshape itself. We don’t want to make prison different, we want to make it end. In my opinion there is no such thing as reform.

    AK: I would like to hear some of your thoughts on community accountability processes or transformative justice as an alternative to the prison industrial complex.

    CM: Transformative justice is a very complex and touchy subject, as we all know. Some people’s idea of transformative justice is true and fair but we know that the system is not set up to be true and fair, and that it is made to break down marginalized groups, to ‘divide and conquer’.

    So, for me, transformative justice is non-essential, something that is created to give people hope that there is a fairness or could be fairness in the justice system. It’s not possible. Transformative justice is to contradict prison abolition in a sense.

    AK: You talked about people being passive players in this framework of (resisting) capitalism, racism, and all the terrible things. What are your suggestions on how people can not play that game?

    CM: I feel like a lot of times people don’t speak up. To not be so passive about things is to speak out and educate yourself on these things and know what the reality is, what the truth is, assimilate that with your privilege and make shit happen!

    For me, I feel like it’s really important because a lot of times people claim to be an ally or an activist but you can’t be passive and be both. You can’t be an activist and sit back on the sidelines and be like: “Oh, I made some cookies to raise money for a cause.” The reality is baking cookies isn’t going to help the cause and act of having a voice, standing up for people. I can’t be in a space with a bunch of people who think having a potluck is real activist work. We need to have a movement and be real about it.

    People who have privilege can make some really big changes, you know what I’m saying? I want to see how many rich white people can call out their other rich white friends when they say something wrong. And that’s being a true ally. That’s being a true activist. It don’t have to just be you with a picket sign marching down the street. That’s cool too but what about the domestic shit? What about the shit that’s right next to me? That’s what counts more than being passive and saying that you’re an activist.

    AK: What is your relationship to creative work? What possibilities for creativity are there inside prison?

    CM: I’ve seen such talent within the prison that I was at, and also watching shows about different people in prison across the country I know that a lot wrote poetry, drew pictures, very detailed, wonderful pictures, sung songs, made-up raps, and stuff like that, about the PIC or being locked up, or being caught up in the system. It was natural to who they were as individuals, because of the diversity that’s in the PIC.

    People come from so many different backgrounds and we use that as a tool in our arts: the way that we write our poetry, the way that we write our music, the way that we draw our pictures. A lot of the stuff that I wrote on the blog when I was locked-up came from and was inspired by the way I grew up, my intellect and my background, being in school, loving education. It came out in a way that was really self-expressive, showing people who I was as an individual.

    It made me feel like people were understanding who I was, not just one other person in the system, but that I was one other person with dreams and aspirations. I had this on my mind.

    I went to write and it came out on paper, and the way people connected to me was through my blog, seeing my perspective as an individual in prison.

    AK: You talked about having a positive relationship with your Parole Officer. How does that relationship work compared to interactions with Corrections staff?

    CM: We have to understand people have predispositions. Occupations attract people who have internalized issues. So a person who is racist or sexist or classist or ageist or any of these things…they’re going to work in places that you go to on a day-to-day basis whether it be the post office, McDonalds, or the prisons.

    The things that come along with being a prison guard: it’s people who feel like it’s their duty to put people of color in check and in line, you know what I’m saying? It’s icky that they work for the prison industrial complex, yes, you know what I’m saying? That exists. Those people exist and have jobs and those jobs are the places that we go to on a day-to-day basis.

    But not all of them are bad. But we also got to expect that some are going to have a predisposition about you, whether it’s because you’re a woman, whether they don’t like you because you’re black or a person of color, when they they’re not going to like you because you’re queer or you’re trans or gender non-conforming.

    AK: Is there anything else you would like to say?

    CM: I just want people to start realizing the world that we live in. I want people to open their minds and their hearts to the things that are going on across the world. With the advances of social media we see it every day: police brutality, racism, war crimes, hunger, poverty. So much that we sit back and say, “Oh well, that’s bad,” and then go about our daily lives, to the nearest Starbucks and forget all about that.

    I’m still going through issues with my incident, learning to trust people. I know there are people out there who are good, that want change, that expect love and empathy and sympathy. We need more people like that. We need to stop raising our younger generation to this idea of what hate is and it’s really hard. I know that it’s possible.

    I’m really looking forward to being more diligent and steadfast in my advocacy work and bringing together different groups of people from different backgrounds. We need to open our minds and hearts to these changes to see what justice is, fear, and equality. We have to be the people who want change and move upon that, to end the ‘-isms’.

    It hinders us as human beings. It prevents us from progressing. That’s what the system wants. They don’t want us to progress, to realize our true potential as human beings who can come together aside from all those -isms, and just be human beings.

  48. rq says

    Here’s what got left behind yesterday before I went to work:
    World’s Greatest Leaders, by Fortune magazine.

    After the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Mo., Mckesson left his school administrator job in Minneapolis to protest in St. Louis. He met Elzie at a medic training on how to respond to tear gas, and together they began to chronicle events in the shooting’s wake as they unfolded with breakneck speed. Their award-winning online newsletter, This Is the Movement, now has some 15,000 subscribers—and the two reach another 100,000 followers via Twitter. “My role here is just to amplify the message,” Mckesson tells Fortune. “We are two of many people.”

    Which is the thing about media: they have picked their ‘leaders’, ignoring all the others working hard behind the scenes. Also, I hope everyone who’s “looking for leadership in ferguson” knows that there THOUSANDS of leaders right in STL.
    Also, Comey of the FBI has made the list. Which is not as white and male as it could be.

    Cops at work: Suit: Detroit sergeant seen on video planting evidence.

    Outside groups making big push in Ferguson election

    The Service Employees International Union tells USA TODAY it will join the progressive group Working Families Party and activists from Organization for Black Struggle and Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment to help get out the vote for two candidates running for city council that they say can best help Ferguson move forward.

    The April 7 election comes just weeks after the Justice Department issued its report outlining endemic problems of racial bias in how the Ferguson’s police department and municipal court went about its business.

    Ferguson has been under the microscope since the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by a white police officer last August ignited months of demonstrations and uncovered long simmering racial tensions in the St. Louis suburb.

    “Our purpose is to back candidates that are aware of the issues that were brought up [in the Department of Justice report] and are willing to take them on,” said Jake Olson, executive director of SEIU’s Missouri/Kansas state council. “It’s not only important for Ferguson, but it could be a beginning for grassroots folks in this region that are trying to take on these issues.”

    The coalition plans to knock on the doors of 5,000 Ferguson residents living in two of the city’s wards on behalf of candidates Lee Smith, a retiree and longtime Ferguson resident, and Bob Hudgins, who has been active in the protest movement since shortly after Brown’s killing.

    The coalition, which was spearheaded by the Working Families Party (WFP), also plans on running phone banks to try to reach out to voters and tout the candidates. WFP is perhaps best known for helping lift New York’s de Blasio’s insurgent campaign in 2013.

    “This is about restoring justice and police accountability in Ferguson, but it’s also about asserting that black lives do matter in our political system and in America,” said Delvone Michael, a senior organizer for WFP who be helping organize the effort in Ferguson.

    The amount of attention being poured into the council races in this town of about 21,000 is unusual, and the coalition’s effort could be meaningful in contests that are typically decided by several hundred voters.

    *sigh* Study: Women with Natural Hair Have Low Self-Esteem. Can we not chalk it up to the hair as such, necessarily?

    The most common natural hairstyle is an afro, which many black women consider an undesirable look. The hair is many times matted and coarse, and is not considered appropriate for a business environment. Many employers consider the look untidy, and ban individuals from wearing this style.

    According to the study by Bountiful Hair, natural hair being viewed as a messy look is causing many women, who wear their hair in that manner, to feel inadequate and less desirable as their counterparts. Those feelings of inadequacy causes women with natural hair to lash out at women with treated or straightened hair, and in turn lowers their self-esteem.

    Of the 3,000 women who participated in the study, 2,500 said they did not feel as pretty as women with straightened hair. Pilar Ciara Jones, who says she participated in the study, stated, “some days I just don’t know what to do with these naps — and on those days I just avoid the mirror altogether.”

    “I try to tell myself that wearing my hair natural is all about empowerment and expressing natural beauty, but there were times when I just did not feel pretty,” Jones continued. “When you continuously break combs because your hair is so nappy, and you use everything in your refrigerator to try to tame that mane, and you still have hair so rough you could polish rocks, you begin to reevaluate your choices.”

    “At one point I was using a gallon of milk and a dozen eggs on my hair every day to try to soften it. That’s when I knew it was time to make a change. I got a relaxer and a Brazilian weave down to my butt, and I have never felt prettier,” Jones stated.

    Here’s the order of dismissal in the case concerning teargassing of that restaurant in Ferguson: Templeton et al. vs. Sam Dotson, Chief of Police, et al. Does this mean there’s a settlement?

  49. rq says

    Grand jury: Terrebonne Parish deputy will not stand trial in teen’s fatal shooting

    Deputy Preston Norman shot and killed Cameron Tillman on Sept. 23 after finding Tillman and a group of boys in an abandoned home.

    The sheriff’s office said Norman fired in self-defense after Tillman opened the door holding what appeared to be a .45-caliber pistol.

    Relatives of other teenagers in the abandoned house said their children say the boy was not holding a weapon and that he opened the door because he was expecting a friend.

    Norman was placed on administrative leave after the incident.

    District Attorney Joe Waltz said his office presented 30 witnesses to the grand jury, which returned no true bill, meaning that Norman will not stand trial.

    The FBI has requested a complete file of the findings for its own investigation on potential civil rights violations.

    Reflections on Ferguson: Boots on the Ground by Talal Ahmad. It’s from last November, before the Grand Jury decision, but worth a re-read.

    Closure Of Private Prison Forces Texas County To Plug Financial Gap

    One morning late last month, the prisoners rioted. They set fires and tore the place up. Guards put down the uprising in about five hours. But the destruction was so severe that the sprawling detention compound has been shut down. All 2,800 inmates were transferred.

    Willacy County is now facing the question — what does it do now that its biggest moneymaker is out of business?

    “Worst scenario, we’ll lose about $2.3 million annually, which is about 23 percent of our income,” says Beto Guerra, Willacy County commissioner.

    This agricultural county in the Rio Grande Valley is one of the poorest in the nation. The main street of Raymondville, the county seat, is lined with Tex-Mex cafes, payday loan offices and Joe Alexandre’s jewelry store.

    “Around the state we have seen several communities that have had their private prisons fail and they’re left holding the bag when it comes to the debt that they floated.”

    – Bob Libal

    “We never expected something like this, to this catastrophe, to happen all at one time,” he says.

    Alexandre was mayor of Raymondville twice before, and he’s running again. He says the prison’s water and sewer bill amounted to $50,000 a month — a big boost to the city. Once insurance pays for extensive repairs to the prison, the county needs to fill those beds again.

    “It’s a business,” he says. “And we’re gonna take all the advantage we can to bring in more business if possible.”

    That means more inmates.

    “What else can we do?” Alexandre says. “At the moment, we have been depending on inmates.”

    There’s something really, really, really wrong with that picture.

    Former Cardinals player punched at St. Louis County gas station after racial slur

    Former Cardinals outfielder Curt Ford said Thursday he may move away from the St. Louis area in disgust after being punched in an allegedly unprovoked, race-related attack at a gas station.

    “I’m going to let the authorities handle this situation, but I’ve had enough of St. Louis,” Ford said in a phone interview Thursday. “You hear about this kind of stuff happening, and I always knew it existed because of my previous experience working here in St. Louis, but you try to keep away from it, and there is just no way you can do that unless you stay inside like a hermit.

    “I just want justice. It’s all I want.”

    Ford, 54, said the experience has made him consider moving, even though, “I care a lot about St. Louis and I love the people here.” He added, “The people I have been involved with are all very positive and all they want to do is work and pay bills. There are very nice people here.”

    St. Louis County police from the Fenton precinct arrested James Street, 37, of the 400 block of Saline Road, a white man who allegedly slugged the black former Cardinals player Wednesday after shouting racial slurs at him and telling him to “go back to Ferguson,” the Post-Dispatch has learned.

    “I was sucker-punched, blindsided,” Ford said. “I was walking into the store and hit from my blind side.”

    No attorney was listed for Street.

    A man who witnessed the aftermath of the attack said Thursday that Street was “huge.” The man, who did not want to be identified, said he snapped pictures of Street’s car and heard him yelling at a woman who was with him for driving out the front entrance to the station, instead of the back.

    The witness noted that the people who helped Ford by giving him ice, calling 911 and writing down Street’s license plate were white.

    Boxergate: It’s time to play the blame game

    It’s finger pointing time at LAPDHQs and everyone is invited.

    The shit is hitting the fan literally over at 100 West 1st Street as it relates to what I have dubbed as Boxergate—and the show is far from over.

    Just a quick recap for those not up on game. Someone (and we’ll get into that later) thought it would be a great idea for the Los Angeles Police Department to utilize police resources to essentially host the January membership meeting of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) while simultaneously providing an opportunity for ex-Mexican Mafia convicted hitman turned informant Rene “Boxer” Enriquez to talk about his life and sign copies of a book written about him.

    The event took place back on Jan. 28 at a place called The Reserve in downtown Los Angeles near 6th and Spring streets. And while the LAPD tried to spin it in the media as a meeting to educate local authorities and private sector tycoons about the workings of a “transnational criminal enterprise,” we have since learned (in my best impression of Maury Povich), that was a lie—or as the department likes to say, false and misleading information.

    The summary I got from those in attendance was that it was basically a YPO membership meeting with a special guest star, Boxer, courtesy of the LAPD. […]

    Thanks to our friends in the news media, currently there’s a fascinating version of the blame game going on in the upper echelons of the LAPD. So fascinating that I brought a bag of popcorn (forgot the Red Vines) to Tuesday’s Police Commission meeting to further enjoy the fallout up close and personal—I was not disappointed.

    At issue is who to blame for the okaying of this event and who knew what when.

    From the jump Deputy Chief Downing vigorously defended the event as being some of sort of training for local authorities and an elite group of top business executives about the workings of a “transnational criminal enterprise.”

    First and foremost, what kind of sense does it make for wealthy business executives to learn about the workings of a “transnational criminal enterprise” courtesy of the Los Angeles Police Department? None. Another common sense question to have asked would have been why would the LAPD be training members of the YPO?

    Second, let’s say that it was a training for local law enforcement authorities, it wasn’t, but let’s say it was. Since when does the LAPD hold trainings with alcohol being served? And why would you be training people who arguably are on their last leg any damn way with one foot out of door headed for retirement? But the kicker is, why would over 100 YPO members get the invitation first before law enforcement officials—I mean if it was really about a training for local authorizes. Exactly.

    The reality is that out of 150 guests, less than 10 percent were official law enforcement officers and the rest were members of YPO and their wives. […]

    As already proven and explained, this was not a training by any stretch of the imagination—not unless that training was an exercise on how to misuse taxpayer money and misappropriate police resources to show off to “friends” of the command staff. If that was the training then they nailed it.

    From what I’m told, Lt. Lopez has quite the history with Boxer having been a partial handler of his during his previous speaking engagements while she was supervisor of the LAPD/FBI gang task force. Apparently she works for Deputy Chief Downing at Major Crimes. Many folks in the department believe that she is directly responsible for making the connection to Boxer for Downing. […]

    I think Boxergate is far from over and it will be interesting to see what happens next or who blames who next between Beck, Moore and Downing.

    Between the false and misleading information provided by Chief Beck and Deputy Chief Downing and the lack of a valid court order to move Boxer into LAPD custody— I do believe that a grand jury needs to be convened ASAP because it’s clear that laws were broken.

    I mean the fact alone that Chief Beck said “The Inspector General isn’t privy to all the information that I am regarding this particular writ, but we’ll look into all that,” should make people sit up and take note. Could it be that I’m getting more information about Boxergate than Bustamante?

    The Inspector General is supposed to be the watchdog for us civilians when it comes to the LAPD. If they aren’t privy to all of the information on Boxergate, can we assume it’s the same when it comes to officer-involved-shootings and other LAPD shenanigans?

    Well until the next chapter in this saga is ready to be told, many thanks to the men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department who serve the City of Los Angeles with the decency and integrity that sadly many of your bosses don’t seem to possess. I hope that you’re enjoying all of this as much as I am.

    Skipped a lot at the link, it’s fascinating reading. And by ‘fascinating’ I also mean ‘gross and disgusting’.

    Her’es an idea: Tell Missouri @GovJayNixon to investigate the role of race in St Louis death penalty cases.

  50. rq says

  51. rq says

    S.F. jail inmates forced to fight, public defender says

    San Francisco sheriff’s deputies arranged and gambled on battles between County Jail inmates, forcing one to train for the fights and telling them to lie if they needed medical attention, the city’s public defender said Thursday.

    Since the beginning of March, at least four deputies at County Jail No. 4 at 850 Bryant St. threatened inmates with violence or withheld food if they did not fight each other, gladiator-style, for the entertainment of the deputies, Public Defender Jeff Adachi said.

    Adachi said the ringleader in these fights was Deputy Scott Neu, who was accused in 2006 of forcing inmates to perform sexual acts on him. That case was settled out of court.

    “I don’t know why he does it, but I just feel like he gets a kick out of it because I just see the look on his face,” said Ricardo Palikiko Garcia, one of the inmates who said he was forced to fight. “It looks like it brings him joy by doing this, while we’re suffering by what he’s doing.”

    An attorney for the San Francisco Deputy Sheriff’s Association, the union representing the deputies, called the allegations “exaggerated,” and said the fighting was “little more than horseplay.”

    But in a recorded conversation with Adachi, Garcia described a predatory atmosphere of fear and retribution in which deputies would knock over his tray and force him to gamble for his food.

    This Friday at @HowardU Founders Library Browsing Room, 1-3 p.m. : August Wilson and “The Ground on Which I Stand.”

    Cops shown violently beating black man during traffic stop

    Accounts of the incident from Dent and from Inkster police — all of whom in the video appear to be white — are wildly different:

    Police said Dent attempted to flee the police car, but the video appears to show Dent maintaining a consistent speed and then pulling over safely across the street from a police station.
    Police say Dent threatened to kill the officers. Dent says he didn’t — and none of the six officers’ microphones were turned on at the beginning of the incident to substantiate their claim.
    One officer said Dent bit him on the arm. Dent said he didn’t, and the officer didn’t seek medical attention or photograph his injury to support the allegation.
    Police said they found a bag of crack cocaine under the passenger seat of Dent’s car. Dent, who has worked for Ford Motor Co. for 37 years and has no criminal record, said officers planted the cocaine. A post-arrest blood test showed no drugs in his system.

    A judge dismissed all charges involved in the physical confrontation with police after watching the video obtained by WDIV. Dent’s lawyer said he was offered a plea deal resulting only in probation on the cocaine possession charge, but Dent turned it down, telling the station he wouldn’t plead guilty to a crime he didn’t commit.

    Revolting.

    John Legend On Common’s Racism Comments: ‘It’s Not Enough To Extend The Hand’

    The Chicago-bred rapper appeared on “The Daily Show” last week to give his take on how we can move past that whole racism “thing,” suggesting that black people forget about the past and extend a hand in love.

    Common stated: “If we’ve been bullied, we’ve been beat down and we don’t want it anymore. We are not extending a fist and we are not saying, ‘You did us wrong.’ It’s more like, ‘Hey, I’m extending my hand in love.’ Let’s forget about the past as much as we can and let’s move from where we are now. How can we help each other? Can you try to help us, because we are going to try to help ourselves, too.”

    Cue the controversy.

    Fans and critics alike were fuming over Common’s so-called solution to decades of discrimination and inequality. It was only a matter of time before reporters went after his fellow “Glory” artist to ask his thoughts on the matter.

    When asked about Common’s remarks, Legend told The Associated Press:

    “Oh yeah, I heard a little bit about it and I understand what he’s saying because I do believe that part of us ending racism is us seeing each other’s humanity and learning to love each other, even if we look different or worship differently or live differently. But I think it’s not enough for us to extend the hand of love. I think it’s important that that goes both ways. It’s important also that we look at policies we need to change as well.

    It’s important for us also to fight for certain changes that need to happen. And one of those issues that I really care about is education. But also another one is incarceration, which is what I talked about at the Oscars. And mass incarceration is a policy that’s kind of built up over the last four decades and it’s destroyed families and communities, and something we need to change. And it’s fallen disproportionally on black and brown communities, especially black communities, and it’s kind of a manifestation of structural racism. So when you think about that kind of thing, it’s not enough to say we need to love each other, you have to go behind that and say we need to change these policies, we need to fight, we need to protest, we need to agitate for change.”

    Common’s remarks were indeed a misstep for the rapper who’s made a career of being categorized as “conscious” and for the people. It’ll be interesting to see if he cleans up his comments or sticks with his thinking that it’s a one-sided issue.

    Atlanta’s Jay Williams (34 children with 17 women) gets own OWN reality show.

    On the heels of the highly-rated and controversial “Iyanla: Fix My Life” multi-part “mega fix” featuring Atlanta resident Jay Williams who says he fathered 34 children with 17 different women, OWN follows Jay as he works to put his life and relationships in order. With spiritual life coach Iyanla Vanzant holding him accountable every step of the way, OWN’s cameras follow Jay as he works to heal and establish new connections with his family, his children and the mothers of his children. He says that he wants to change and to be the best father he can be, but his extreme situation will challenge his best intentions and whether or not he can live up to all the responsibility. The series is co-produced by OWN and Evolution Media.

    Just… wow.

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    Faces from Ferguson: Johnetta Elzie. Also an old read, but worth re-reading.
    This from her: “This conference is for, about and by women and queer & trans folks of color” #COV4
    Wow, @incitenews did training with the staff on transphobia before the #COV4 conference.
    Good work going on.

    Black unemployment in Missouri, Illinois, among highest

    Black unemployment averaged 11.4 percent nationally last year, but was 14.7 percent in Illinois and 14.4 percent in Missouri, according to the EPI, a liberal nonprofit think tank that researches economic trends and policies and their impact on labor.

    Wilson concluded that black unemployment levels are still higher than before the Great Recession began in 2007 in 28 states, and that unemployment rates among blacks nationally is still 2.4 percentage points above the pre-Great Recession levels. Unemployment rates among whites, Hispanics, and Asians nationally are all less than 1 percentage point above the pre-recession levels, according to the EPI analysis.

    “The unemployment rate for black communities is at a crisis level, even as the economy gets closer and closer to a full recovery,” Wilson said.

    Wilson’s analysis said that Wisconsin (19.9 percent), Nevada, (16.1), Michigan (15.8), the District of Columbia (15.7), and Iowa (15.6) last year had higher black unemployment rates than Illinois and Missouri.

    Only Wisconsin, with a rise of 4.8 percentage points, had a higher rise in black unemployment than Missouri’s 3.2 last year, according to the EPI report.

    However, EPI’s analysis projects that black unemployment in Missouri will fall to 12 percent over the last three months of the year, and that Illinois’ will drop to 11.4 percent by the last three months of 2015. Both will still be higher than the projected national black unemployment rate of 10.4 percent in the final quarter of 2015, and roughly three times higher than projected white unemployment in the two states.

    White unemployment in Illinois and Missouri last year was slightly higher than the national average of 4.9 percent among whites in 2014 — 5 percent in Missouri and 5.4 percent in Illinois. Both states’ averages were down from 2013 — Missouri by just under 1 percentage point (.9), Illinois by 1.9, according to the EPI analysis.

    White unemployment in the fourth quarter of 2015 is projected by EPI to be 4 percent in Illinois and 3.9 percent in Missouri.

    Black Woman Faces Lynching Charges Following Police Altercation. Say that again?

    Twenty-year-old Maile Hampton currently faces the unusual charge of lynching in connection with a police altercation during a protest rally. Hampton is accused of interfering with the arrest of a fellow protester during a January rally against police brutality. Since Hampton’s arrest there have been multiple calls to change the name of the offense as to not associate it with lynching in the traditional sense. In a statement to the Guardian, Hampton’s lawyer Linda Parisi stated “It’s an irony that a woman of color who was at a public rally to shine a light on police brutality is arrested for lynching.” Video of the incident shows Hampton among a throng of protesters and officers and the ensuing altercation in which Hampton pulls a fellow protester out of the grasp of an officer.

    Hampton was arrested and charged with lynching and released on $100,000 bail. In California, this form of lynching is considered a felony that carries a maximum four-year jail sentence. In comparison, a more typical charge of resisting arrest would be a misdemeanor. Sacremento Mayor Kevin Johnson is working with legislators to amend the criminal code. “I was shocked to learn that in California, removing someone from police custody is defined as ‘lynching’. This word has a long and painful history in our nation and it needed to be immediately removed from California law,” he said in a statement to the Sacramento Bee.

    Building Movements Without Shedding Differences: Alicia Garza of #BlackLivesMatter

    The hashtag that’s become a movement began as a call to action for Black people after the killing of Trayvon Martin. It exploded on social media after the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

    Now, Garza’s watching people adapt the #BlackLivesMatter slogan into some version of “AllLivesMatter” or even “AnimalLivesMatter.”
    “We were able to build connections online so that people can take action together offline.”

    Explaining why that’s a problem, she says, is just one of the challenges the #BlackLivesMatter movement faces at this point.

    Women are at the heart of the movement, specifically young Black women, many of them calling themselves queer. Garza talks here about what that word means to her.

    It’s about “creating a movement that feel like home … creating community,” says Garza.

    And, heads-up to all who want to shrink the movement’s goals: #BlackLivesMatter is seeking a whole lot more than a few police prosecutions.

    Video interview at the link, incl. a transcript!

    I think what’s important to know about #BlackLivesMatter and how it really took off is that when Mike Brown was killed in August of 2014, Patrice and Darnell Moore, who is a scholar, activist here in New York, called for a #BlackLivesMatter freedom ride. That drew more than 500 Black people from across the country who in 10 days raised the money, got on buses, vans, planes, however folks could get there, to really support the work that was happening in Ferguson, and also to bear witness to the incredible Jim Crow situation that still exists today.

    From that ride, people got excited about and really felt passionately about bringing what they had seen and what they had learned back to their communities. What we saw were people who were inspired by the actions that people were taking on the front lines in Ferguson. The non-compromising way that folks said, “We will not compromise for our freedom. We are going to be free no matter what.” The ways in which folks there were really challenging respectability politics. Also, the ways that people were building relationships together, knowing that maybe folks hadn’t been connected before, but certainly that they knew that they were going to be connected forever because of what had happened.

    One of the ways that we’ve seen it grow is that it’s moved, not just nationally, but internationally. We saw Afro-Colombian domestic workers sending pictures and photos saying #BlackLivesMatter. We saw folks from South Africa, folks from Ireland, folks from all over the world sending messages, not just of solidarity, but lifting up the conditions that Black people are facing in their countries. The growth of the project has really been a message of self-determination, of liberation and a call to re-humanize us around the world, which has been incredibly inspiring. I don’t even know what to say about that. […]

    First, I’ll say that changing Black Lives Matter to All Lives Matter is not an act of solidarity. What it is is a demonstration of how we don’t actually understand structural racism in this country. When we say All Lives Matter, that’s a given. Of course, we’re all human beings – we all bleed red – but the fact of the matter is some human lives are valued more than others, and that’s a problem. The other thing that we’ve seen is replacing Black with other things. I saw Animal Lives Matter one time and I just threw up a little bit in my mouth, actually. In this country, we commodify things, and we commodify movements. We see people like Ford doing commercials that say the American Revolution, right?

    What I think is important here is that we’ve been pushing people to really talk about what does structural racism look like in this country. It’s not about people being mean to each other.

    That’s just the smallest bit. It’s about interpersonal dynamics that are backed by systemic power. When we look at that, we see that Black people are on the losing end of every disparity that you can possibly think of. Not only is it not appropriate to not be paying attention to Black lives in this country, but it’s certainly not appropriate to just erase Black from the conversation. […]

    I’m with you right there. Women at the center. Young, African-American, many of them queer women, are at the center of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, not that you would know that from the media coverage. Why? Why is it so hard for journalists to tell a story with leaders like yourself getting the recognition they deserve? Maybe I shouldn’t ask you that question, but ask someone else.

    Some of it is habit and practice. Some of it’s intentional, at times. I do think that part of it is that the way that we understand how movements happen in this country is behind one charismatic leader.

    It’s really hard for people to wrap their heads around a movement that is full of leaders. That’s how our homes work; that’s how our communities work; that’s how our workplaces work, whether or not we want to talk about it. We’re just trying to reflect our own realities. We’re trying to create more pathways for more people to participate and engage. If we want a full democracy in this country, we can’t just have people following one person. Everyone has to feel like they have a stake in shaping the kind of world that we live in. Otherwise, we get into a situation like the one that we’re living in now, where nobody’s happy with the leadership that we’re getting. Honestly, people don’t know what are the pathways to participate, besides casting your vote, which in and of itself is a very flawed system, as we know.

    A lot more at the link. (Bolding is the interviewer.)

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    St. Louis Police, Ferguson Protesters Agree To Tear Gas Ban – that’s the settlement I alluded to above.

    Law enforcement officials for the Missouri area that includes Ferguson and attorneys for anti-police-brutality protesters have reached an agreement that would prevent the use of tear gas or other chemical agents to disperse peaceful protests.

    Calling it a “monumental, unprecedented victory,” attorneys for the protesters said the judge’s order will prohibit police from “frightening” or “punishing” protesters with tear gas and other chemical agents.

    The agreement means local law enforcement agencies — including the city police department, the county police department, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol — can no longer use tear gas, smoke, pepper spray, or other chemical agents against peaceful protesters, or without issuing clear warnings and allowing demonstrators to exit the area.

    “This sets forth some pretty common sense standards here, ” Denise Lieberman, a senior attorney with The Advancement Project, told BuzzFeed News. “We haven’t seen this kind of heavy-handed response to protests in a long time.”[…]

    “The agreement approved by the Court today documents a commonsense agreement that will allow the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to continue to protect protesters’ constitutional rights, keep people safe, and protect people’s homes and businesses,” St. Louis City Counselor Winston Calvert said in a written statement to BuzzFeed News.

    The lawsuit asked Judge Carol E. Jackson of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri to issue a temporary restraining order to stay within the legal guidelines for determining illegal assembly and to restrict the use of chemical agents.

    The police response “appeared designed to chill people’s speech and make people scared to participate,” said Kira Banks, a psychology professor at St. Louis University who was also one of the plaintiffs. “Gratuitously tear-gassing everyone felt like an intimidation tactic; the message being sent was: ‘We are punishing you for being part of this movement.’”

    Witnesses for the law enforcement agencies countered that tear gas prevented property damage in earlier protests and that chemical agents were used in response to businesses being looted and shots being fired from crowds.

    But Jackson rejected those arguments, even denying a request that tear gas be used only as a “last resort,” saying there was no way to gauge that circumstance. In late December, Jackson issued a temporary order prohibiting police from using chemical agents without giving a clear warning or a clear means of exit.

    It was at least the second time a federal judge has had to weigh in on police action during protests in the St. Louis area following the shooting of Brown. In October, U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Perry issued an injunction barring police from enforcing what became known as “the five-second rule,” in which protesters in Ferguson could only stay still for that brief amount of time. Perry ruled that the statute was unconstitutional because it violated protesters’ freedom of speech rights, as well as due process.

    But while police and protesters’ attorneys tried to negotiate a settlement in January, another group of protesters stormed the St. Louis Metro Police Department, demanding the release of their colleagues and meetings with department officials including Chief Sam Dotson and Mayor Francis Slay. Officers arrested five demonstrators and used pepper spray on others.

    That protest complicated negotiations, which dragged on until this week. A new motion was filed with the court Wednesday, and Jackson issued the order today.

    This. Is. Hip. Hop. Rakim, @M1deadprez, Anika Tillery, Stic.man on panel panel moderated by @afroblew. #CalU #Rakim

    Angela. Ella. Odette. Zora. Rad American Women A-Z by Miriam Klein Stahl.

    Corvallis home built by freed slaves added to historic registry

    The house, which has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, is one of only a handful of pioneer-era houses remaining in Corvallis.

    Mother and daughter Hannah and Eliza Gorman, both slaves, immigrated from Missouri to Oregon over the Oregon Trail in 1844.

    Once freed from bondage, the Gormans, both unmarried, purchased the property and built their house during a period in which Oregon’s exclusion laws prohibited African Americans from owning property.

    Built in two phases, the simple house served as their home and place of business, where they became well-respected citizens in the community, working as a laundress and seamstress.

    Eliza Gorman died in 1869. After her death Hannah moved to Portland and in 1875 she sold the house and property in Corvallis.

    The Hannah and Eliza Gorman House is one of a very small percentage of settlement-era dwellings remaining in the Willamette Valley, and one of even fewer buildings remaining in Oregon that are associated with African American pioneers.

    They should fix it up and make it a museum or something. That’s the kind of history that needs to get out more.

    “Dressing down” is only a status symbol for the elite

    Why is the “CEO Casual” look sported by Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, and certain other business leaders interpreted as a sign of status, while other professionals in casual dress would be laughed out of a job interview? Our research explores the conditions under which nonconforming behaviors, such as wearing red sneakers in a professional setting or entering a luxury boutique wearing gym clothes, lead to attributions of enhanced status and competence rather than social disapproval. […]

    At times, individuals who are aware of social norms and expectations may nonetheless decide to risk deviating from standards of appropriate dress, speech, and behavior. High-status individuals like Zuckerberg typically have wider latitude for deviation and are relatively freer from social constraints.

    To better understand nonconformity, our research examines how third-party observers interpret violations of convention and make inferences about the status and competence of non-conformers. Our studies explore various social environments and populations, including shop assistants at high-end boutiques in Milan, Italy, business leaders in an executive education course, and country club members at a black-tie party. In one of our experiments, Dr. Gino taught an executive education class at Harvard Business School wearing red sneakers, which are quite atypical for this environment. We refer to the red sneakers effect to signify the potential benefits of nonconformity. Individuals show that they do not need these benefits because they already possess high status.

    We find that, in certain cases, nonconforming behaviors can lead to inferences of enhanced status and competence in the eyes of others, and that this is because of—not in spite of—these behaviors’ deviance from the norm. Engaging in behaviors that present the risk of losing status gives off the impression that someone has plenty of status to spare. The dynamics of status signaling through nonconformity are similar to—though possibly more subtle and sophisticated than—the dynamics of signaling through expensive consumer goods.

    Wealthy individuals signal their position by giving up financial resources to purchase expensive luxury items. Similarly, by giving up the social benefits conferred by conformity, individuals show that they do not need these benefits because they already possess high status. […]

    We find that the observers’ familiarity with the environment, their perception of the behavior as intentional, and their own history of nonconformity all increase their willingness to assign positive attributes to an individual deviating from established norms.

    First, the observer must be somewhat familiar with the environment. Only observers who are acquainted with the consumption context and have experience observing and interpreting behavior in this specific context will derive positive inferences from signals of nonconformity rather than conformity. For example, in one of our studies, shop assistants at luxury boutiques in Milan, Italy considered a shopper more likely to make a purchase or be a celebrity when she was wearing gym clothes or a Swatch watch than when she was wearing an elegant dress or a Rolex. The environment must be one with clearly established norms that the individual intentionally defies.

    In contrast, pedestrians recruited at Milan’s central train station—of a similar demographic and socioeconomic background but less familiar with the luxury boutique environment—tended to perceive the elegantly outfitted shopper as possessing status greater than or equal to the poorly dressed shopper. Since they are more familiar with the context, the shop assistants are capable of finer, more articulated discrimination in that specific environment and rely less on prototypical product symbols to discern status.

    Second, the environment must be one with clearly established norms that the individual intentionally defies. For example, wearing gym clothes is a noticeable aberration in a luxury boutique with an expectation of nice attire, but not in a discount store where casual dress is the norm.

    Observers must believe the nonconforming individual is both aware of the norm and able to conform to it, but deliberately decides not to. A nonconforming behavior that seems unintentional or dictated by lack of a better alternative—such as ragged clothes on a homeless person—will not lead to a positive impression. […]

    Should we all pack up our elegant shoes and start wearing bright red sneakers to work? Increasing our status in the eyes of others is clearly an important goal, as it can grant us power and influence within our social groups and organizations. Weighing the benefits of adherence to social norms against the potential, more risky upsides of nonconforming practices is a difficult judgment call.

    Readers should consider whom they are aiming to impress and whether they are confident enough to withstand some occasional odd looks (which, we can assure, you will get!). Adherence to social norms—in other words, leaving the red sneakers at home—might be a wiser strategy for some people, but if you can forgo the benefits of conformity and tolerate the potential costs of nonconformity if things go sour, marching to the beat of a different drummer can have some surprising upsides.

    I also wonder how saggy pants fit into that scenario, and our perceived notions of respect, authority and intelligence related to those saggy pants.

    Neat: Rep. John Lewis will deliver the commencement address at Hampton University.

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    olice settle lawsuit over tear gas use during Ferguson protests

    U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson, who issued a temporary restraining order on police after a hearing here Dec. 11, was expected to dismiss the lawsuit Thursday while keeping supervision of compliance through Jan. 1, 2018. The restraining order had told police to provide “reasonable” warning before using gas on a crowd.

    Lawyers for St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar and Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald S. Johnson signed off on settlement terms.

    Police agreed not to use gas to frighten or punish people lawfully exercising their constitutional rights.

    Also, each police agency agreed to pay $2,500 in legal costs. In exchange, plaintiffs Alexis Templeton, Maureen Costello, Brittany Ferrell, Steve Hoffman, Nile McClain and Kira Hudson agreed to dismiss their claim.

    They were represented by Thomas Harvey of ArchCity Defenders and Denise Lieberman of the Advancement Project.

    “This victory rests on the shoulders of the courageous protesters who are tirelessly demonstrating in the streets of Ferguson, and it’s a testament to the powerful movement they have fostered,” Harvey said in a prepared statement.

    Lieberman noted in the joint statement, “We had not seen this kind of excessive police force used against protesters since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.” She added, “The use of tear gas in Ferguson has been a tactic to chill this movement, and today’s consent decree will finally put a stop to those efforts.”

    Templeton, a demonstrator; Banks, a St. Louis University professor; and Hoffman, a “legal observer” for the National Lawyers Guild, testified at the December hearing to being gassed and treated improperly by officers.

    Prosecutors Proceed With Case Against Student Beaten by Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Cops as Agency Comes Under Heavy Scrutiny

    After video of Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control agents brutally beating college student Martese Johnson went viral last week, the agency has come under heavy scrutiny.

    Initial reports from arresting agent J. Miller claim Johnson, 20, was excessively intoxicated and acting belligerently. The University of Virginia honors student was charged with resisting arrest, obstructing justice without threats of force and profane swearing or intoxication in public.

    However, since the story of the arrest has received national attention, Trinity Irish Pub, the bar where Johnson was denied entrance, released a statement refuting the claims made by the arresting officer.

    According to the statement, Managing Owner Kevin Badke denied Johnson entrance after he was unable to identify crucial information attached to his identification. The two then had a cordial conversation about their connection to the Chicago area, where they are both from. […]

    Despite the mounting evidence that Johnson is not guilty, prosecutors still refuse to dismiss the case against Johnson, who ended up hospitalized that night, his face requiring ten stitches.

    In fact, earlier today, when Johnson appeared in court to enter a not guilty plea, prosecutors asked for a continuance, telling the judge they need more time to build up their case against the student.

    WHAT??? They’re going to bring a case against him??? HOLY SHIT.
    There’s more on Virginia ABC misconduct at the link. This is just par for the course in their books, I suppose, but… wow. The arrogance and spite.

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    Sorry about the hole in commenting, folks. I went to see a ballet at the opera last night and got sideswiped and run off the road by a surprise migraine. The lesson here: don’t go to the ballet.
    Here’s a finish to yesterday’s leftovers and then some more, eventually.

    Michigan Cops Had Perfectly Good Reason For Beating Up Unarmed Black Guy, Probably

    We’ll also have to take the cops’ word that Dent bit the arm of William Melendez, the officer who was choking Dent and punched him in the head 16 times. Melendez subsequently sought no medical treatment for being bitten, and didn’t photograph the supposed bite marks, which you’d suppose would be evidence you’d want to document if a suspect assaulted you so violently.

    Also, a baggie of crack cocaine was found in the car’s passenger seat. Dent insists it was planted, and his attorney, Greg Rohl, says there is unreleased video showing officers planting the drugs. Officer Melendez just happens to have been charged in federal court with planting evidence and falsifying police reports in 2003. But Melendez was acquitted, so there’s no reason whatsoever to think he might have done something untoward in January.

    Floyd Dent is 57, has no criminal record, and is a retired auto worker who worked at Ford for 37 years. He also was tested for drugs at a hospital after his arrest; the tests were negative. On the other hand, he is black, has a shaved head, and was driving a Cadillac at night, so he had to be guilty of something that called for a beatdown:

    Police said they first saw Dent’s car through binoculars while watching an area known to have drug activity. They followed Dent’s car and said he didn’t make a complete stop at a stop sign. Police said that when they turned on their flashing lights, Dent didn’t immediately pull over.

    “When the overhead lights came on, I looked and said, ‘Wow, are they stopping me?’” Dent said. “So I just kept going until I realized that they were really stopping me.”

    Dent said he didn’t try to flee police, and the video shows his Cadillac driving at a consistent speed until he pulled over.

    After viewing the dashcam video, a judge dismissed the charges of fleeing, assault, and resisting arrest; the only remaining charge against Dent is for possession of cocaine. Dent was offered a plea deal that would result in no jail time, only probation, and eventual expunging of the charges, but he refused it, saying he wouldn’t plead guilty to something he didn’t do.

    According to the Digitas Daily video, Officer Melendez is currently assigned to desk duty, and Inkster police have requested that the Michigan State Police investigate the incident — so there’s that, at least.

    Get ready for the usual rightwing response, as every detail of Floyd Dent’s past and his behavior during the arrest is dissected to prove that he absolutely had every one of those 16 punches to the head coming to him.

    This one is interesting. Confessions of a #FormerBlackFriend

    I have allowed “ghettos” and “hoods” and “homies” and “niggas” to fall out of white lips. I have allowed “you’re not like the rest of them” to sit in the air uncontested. I have been inspected from hair to home life upon entering white homes and I have shown white smile to many white face. I have been suburban dinner table controversy and housewife personal cause. I have been Black friend to many a white consumer. A marker of one’s ability to be down. I have been marketed and mass produced.

    My earliest interaction with predominantly white spaces began with my private primary school education. My mother, completing her two Masters as a single mother, did all that she could to get me into the best schools. These sacrifices meant driving an extra half hour out of her way every morning to get to and fro between classes. That meant moving into Los Angeles from our middle class suburb to just outside of downtown. That meant gifted and talented lotteries granting access to better schools within schools districts closer to the beach. That meant my days in West LA were capped with nights in South Central. That meant having to call home at check points not in fear of neighborhood but the watch. That meant trusting me across the country in Connecticut small town. But I was in the best schools.

    My classmates of color were often positioned there in the same exceptionalism reinforcing lottery. Rarely did we all complete our time. The white kids more often than not simply knew no different. The schools where in their backyards, we were the ones who migrated from undisclosed other places. In middle school, the ominous MAGNET school was where kids from all over the district were bussed in. All students with the “highest potential”. In high school, this was an boarding-school based program for “students of color” in an (unofficial) New York City suburb just 50 minutes from Grand Central.

    A running joke between my high school friends was that I was their imaginary friend. The possibility of my Blackness and Queerness existing in the same body was so outlandish, I was positioned as mythical. It wasn’t until college that I learned the term magical negro, thank you Sociology degree.

    […]
    College is dangerously presented and engaged with as some level playing field for all students “allowed” to enter. Higher education in this country is stratified and violent. Education remains a marker of success. I entered college feeling like a success. If all the violence I survived was preparing me for college I was ready. While issues of class, bodies, safety and race were constant, my “Black friend” status translated into “Radical/Political/Activist Friend”. It became a coded way to mark the distance in my interpersonal relationships. My blackness wasn’t inherently an issue but the caveat that came with it stood in its place.

    I allowed these violences in an effort to “humanize” or “defend” Blackness. I taught myself to talk myself out of rages. To swallow the weight of my own being. All for white benefit. I foolishly attempted to play professor/master/teacher for Blackness while appealing to white attention.

    As a #FormerBlackFriend, I implore you to unlearn your wealth in position to white validation. Reimagine your possibility and being for you. Your successes should fall into your liberation. You are worth more than a token. Your Blackness is multitudes whether among family or if you are the only nigga in the room.

    In reference to the Germanwings plane crash: What does it take for a white person to be called a “murderer” or a “terrorist” by the media? So far, it seems Holocaust is the only thing.
    While the media demonizes black murder victims to justify their deaths, it canonizes, humanizes and, makes excuses for white killers.

  59. rq says

  60. rq says

    Irrelevant to anything: The Obamas Are Seriously Considering Moving To New York City. I don’t know why but I find it funny. Not in a ‘why would they kind of way’ but that it’s actually an article in the ‘news’.

    The headline sounds a bit worse than it actually is: Arizona Legislature Passes Bill to Keep Cops’ Names Secret After They Shoot Civilians – but not a lot:

    On Tuesday the Arizona Legislature passed a bill that would forbid any state agency from releasing the name of police officers who shoot a civilian when that shooting results in death or “serious physical injury.” The act would bar law enforcement, as well as all government entities, from releasing an officer’s name for 60 days following the incident. If the officer has a disciplinary record, or is disciplined as a result of the shooting, his name may still not be released for the full 60 days. The act now heads to Gov. Doug Ducey for a signature.

    Supporters of the bill claim it is designed to protect law enforcement from harassment following a shooting. The Arizona Police Association strongly supports the measure, in part because its members are afraid that protesters will march in front of the homes of officers who shoot unarmed civilians. Critics insist that the bill will only exacerbate public frustration with the police by decreasing transparency and accountability. They also note that Arizona law already allows police to withhold sensitive information, like home addresses, of police officers when safety may be a concern.

    The bill easily passed both houses of Arizona’s Republican-dominated legislature. The only real controversy was whether the gag order would last for 60 or 90 days, and whether law enforcement could ever release information about disciplinary proceedings against officers involved in shootings. Ducey, a Republican, has not yet declared whether he will sign the bill into law.

    8 Black Panther Party Programs That Were More Empowering Than Federal Government Programs

    The Breakfast Program

    The free breakfast for schoolchildren program was set up in Berkeley, California, in 1968 by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton. It was the first significant community program organized by the Panthers, and perhaps the most well known. By the end of 1969, free breakfast was served in 19 cities, under the sponsorship of the national headquarters and 23 local affiliates. More than 20,000 children received full free breakfast (bread, bacon, eggs, grits) before going to their elementary or junior high school.

    Health Clinics

    The clinics were called People’s Free Medical Centers (PFMC) and eventually were established in 13 cities across the country, from Cleveland to New Haven, Connecticut; Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to Los Angeles. Women, according to sociologist Alondra Nelson, were the backbone of the effort —not surprising, considering that approximately 60 percent of Black Panther Party members were female. Some of the clinics were in storefronts, others in trailers or hastily built structures, and most did not last long. But they offered services such as testing for high blood pressure, lead poisoning, tuberculosis and diabetes; cancer detection screenings; physical exams; treatments for colds and flu; and immunization against polio, measles, rubella, and diphtheria. Nelson reports that many of the women and men involved in the PFMCs went on to become credentialed health care professionals.

    Youth Institute

    The Intercommunal Youth Institute was established in January 1971 by the Black Panther Party. In 1974, the name was changed to Oakland Community School. The Black Panther Party goal was to get children to learn to their highest potential and to strengthen their minds so that one day they would be successful. The school graduated its first class in June 1974. In September 1977, California Gov. Edmund “Jerry” Brown Jr. and the California Legislature gave Oakland Community School a special award for “having set the standard for the highest level of elementary education in the state.”

    8 Black Panther Party Programs That Were More Empowering Than Federal Government Programs
    March 26, 2015 | Posted by Nick Chiles
    Tagged With: black panther free ambulance service, black panther free health clinic, black panther newspaper, black panther party programs, black panther youth institute, free breakfast program
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    BP school

    Youth Institute

    The Intercommunal Youth Institute was established in January 1971 by the Black Panther Party. In 1974, the name was changed to Oakland Community School. The Black Panther Party goal was to get children to learn to their highest potential and to strengthen their minds so that one day they would be successful. The school graduated its first class in June 1974. In September 1977, California Gov. Edmund “Jerry” Brown Jr. and the California Legislature gave Oakland Community School a special award for “having set the standard for the highest level of elementary education in the state.”

    Black Panther Party – 1960s

    Seniors Against a Fearful Environment (SAFE)

    SAFE, a nonprofit corporation, was started by the Black Panther Party at the request of a group of senior citizens for the purpose of preventing muggings and attacks upon the elderly, particularly when they go out to cash their Social Security or pension checks. Prior to approaching the Black Panther Party, the seniors had gone to the Oakland Police Department to request protection. There the seniors were told that they “should walk close to the curb” in the future, according to a Panther report by David Hilliard, who served as the Party’s chief of staff. The program offered free transportation and escort services to the residents of the Satellite Senior Homes, a residential complex for the elderly in Oakland, California.

    Two more pages and four more programs at the link! But stuff to think about.

  61. rq says

    Mike Brown question sparks MetroLink beating caught on video – not the way to get a point across.

    The victim took the train to to Central West End and waited for police to arrive. He told investigators that he was seated on the train when he was approached from behind. The man in the red hat and shirt asked for his cell phone. The victim refused.

    The suspect in the red hat then asked the seated man what he thought of the Mike Brown situation. The victim tells police that he hadn’t put much thought into it. That is when the man in the red hat started beating him.

    Yeah. :/

    Elvira & Refugio Nieto attend the People’s Trial of the killers of their son. #StopPoliceImpunity #Justice4AlexNieto
    #stoppoliceimpunity #justice4alexnieto shut tin’ down mission police station, gettin’ loud against killer cops

    The City of Ferguson is beginning to court proceedings for arrested protestors. “Resisting arrest” has become a sticking point.

    Taraji P. Henson Will Host SNL in April

    Taraji P. Henson has been tapped to host the April 11 episode of Saturday Night Live; SNL made the announcement on Twitter. Henson will be joined by musical guests Mumford & Sons.

    This will be Henson’s first time hosting the show, and she expressed her excitement on Instagram:

    “DREAMS DO COME TRUE!!!!!!!! #Believe #Faith #HardWorkPaysOff,” Henson posted.

    Last month SNL parodied Empire, so it’ll be interesting to see if Henson’s character Cookie gets the SNL treatment again.

    I know we’ve seen articles on this already, but here’s more: Black Girls Matter:
    Pushed Out, Overpoliced, and Underprotected

    According to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education cited in the report, nationally black girls were suspended six times more than white girls, while black boys were suspended three times as often as white boys.

    Data specific to New York and Boston demonstrates that the relative risk for disciplinary action is higher for Black girls when compared to white girls than it is for Black boys when compared to white boys.

    ● In New York, the number of disciplinary cases involving black girls was more than 10 times more than those involving their white counterparts and the number of cases involving black boys was six times the number of those involving white boys, despite there being only twice as many black students as white students.

    ● In Boston, the number of disciplinary cases involving black girls was more than 11 times more than those involving their white counterparts while the number of cases involving black boys was approximately eight times those involving white boys, despite there being less than three times as many black students as white students.

    ● Rates of expulsion were even more strikingly disproportionate between black and white students, especially among girls.

    The report recommends policies and interventions to address challenges facing girls of color, including revising policies that funnel girls into juvenile supervision facilities; developing programs that identify signs of sexual victimization and assist girls in addressing traumatic experiences; advancing programs that support girls who are pregnant, parenting, or otherwise assuming significant familial responsibilities; and improving data collection to better track discipline and achievement by race/ethnicity and gender for all groups.

    Click on the images below to access to the report, the executive summary, and a Black Girls Matter: Social Media Guide, which provides images, tweets, and key messages for you to use in promoting the basic point that Black Girls Matter.

    The link includes a video.

  62. rq says

    Repost: but sort of relevant, with Indiana’s new RELIJUSS FRIDUM and calls to boycott the state – How boycotts hurt the cities they are supposed to help
    . I think this can apply on a state-wide level, too, though how one boycotts a state in any meaningful way, I don’t know?

    Ferguson Mayor Thinks DOJ Report Put Too Much Focus On Race. Yeah, Mayor Knowles really strikes me as the most knowledgeable type on the topic.

    Knowles told The Huffington Post that he found many aspects of the report, which focused on Ferguson’s police department and municipal court system, to be “shocking.” He specifically cited the racist emails sent by two former senior police department officials and the city’s former municipal court clerk, who Knowles said he has known for years. Knowles added that he was troubled by many of the stories describing how officers used force.

    But, Knowles said he thinks the report put too much emphasis on race.

    “Regardless of the merits of a lot of the things that happened in the report, I think it’s unfortunate that the Department of Justice always tried to narrow it down to race,” Knowles said. “I think there are things in the report that were a miscarriage of justice, but every instance in the report they tried to make it about race. I don’t think that’s fair.” […]

    “When I asked the Department of Justice this, they told me, ‘African-Americans can be racist against African-Americans as well.’ I told them that was new to me,” Knowles said. “There are issues that need to be addressed and we need to address those issues, but I don’t think that in our case you can bring this down to the issue is about race.”

    Knowles has previously said that Ferguson doesn’t have an issue with a racial divide. But the report found that city engaged in unconstitutional practices that disproportionally affected its black residents. […]

    “I think it’s important that the city of Ferguson, it’s residents and it’s leadership, take ownership of the kind of policing agency that the citizens of Ferguson want. We could go to St. Louis County, but at that point we are at the mercy of what St. Louis County police want to do in our community,” Knowles said.

    “The residents of this community are going to have to make the decision of what they want the police to look like in this community, the kind of oversight it may have, and that’s what we’re focusing on at this time,” he added.

    Many of problems raised in the report about Ferguson’s municipal court are common in other St. Louis County municipalities, but Knowles declined to “make assumptions” about any other city’s practices.

    Knowles has previously pointed out that surrounding municipalities received a much higher portion of their revenue from municipal courts than Ferguson did. “I just hope that they would look at themselves and see if there is anything that they can improve upon based on what the DOJ report said or their own analysis,” Knowles said. […]

    “I don’t supervise anybody or anyone in the city, period, on the daily basis. It’s not my role as mayor, and it’s not the city council’s role,” Knowles said. “The city of Ferguson, myself and the council’s job is to make policies and hire professional staff to implement those policies. I hope that people will recognize that our focus right now is how we can look at those issues that have been brought up and how we can bring this community together and move forward and see what policies and procedures and staff that we can put into place. That’s where we as a council and mayor have to be focused.”

    I think the mayor should learn a thing or two about accountability, too. But he’s seriously ignorant about racism, how it manifests, and how it works. Just wow.

    Civil rights charges filed against Ole Miss student accused of putting noose on James Meredith statue

    The Justice Department said Friday that it had charged a student at the University of Mississippi with federal civil rights crimes for placing a noose on a statue of James Meredith, the school’s first black student, in what federal authorities said was a “flagrant” attempt to threaten black students at the school.

    These charges come a little more than a year after the noose was found on the neck of the Meredith statue, which has stood at the center of the Ole Miss campus in Oxford for nearly a decade. In February 2014, the noose was found along with an older Georgia state flag (before that state adopted a new flag without the Confederate symbol), prompting an investigation by the FBI and local police.

    Graeme Phillip Harris, the student who was charged, and others hung the rope and the flag “with the intent to threaten and intimidate African American students and employees at the university,” the Justice Department said.

    Only Harris was identified by federal officials, who said he has been indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of conspiring to violate civil rights and another count of using a threat of force to intimidate African American students due to their race.

    “This shameful and ignorant act is an insult to all Americans and a violation of our most strongly-held values,” Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. said in a statement Friday. “No one should ever be made to feel threatened or intimidated because of what they look like or who they are. By taking appropriate action to hold wrongdoers accountable, the Department of Justice is sending a clear message that flagrant infringements of our historic civil rights will not go unnoticed or unpunished.” […]

    The school’s Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter and the national organization said that the three were members of that fraternity, which expelled the three men and suspended the chapter. The national fraternity later closed the Ole Miss chapter after learning that in addition to what happened at the Meredith statue, members had committed “serious acts of hazing,” Phillip A. Cox, grand president of Sig Ep, wrote in an e-mail to members.

    Lookit that frat culture, fine examples of manhood, all of them! Such gentlemen, such diversity and intelligence! Holy fuck, they make me sick.

    Gonna be several articles laying this out, but here’s the first from Buzzfeed: University Of Oklahoma Probe Finds SAE Members Learned Racist Chant At National Event 4 Years Ago

    The racist chant sung by members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma originated at a national leadership cruise four years ago, university president, David Boren announced in a press conference.

    Boren said the chant was brought back to the University of Oklahoma chapter and taught to members and pledges.

    “It is clear that in the four years since the chant was brought to campus, it’s existence has become a part of the institutionalized culture of the chapter,” Boren said.

    Boren also said that high school students who were potential recruits for the fraternity, were present when the chat was sung on March 7, 2015.

    The University of Oklahoma chapter of SAE has already been shut down and two students who lead the chant, which was caught on film, were expelled.

    Boren announced that 25 other members of the fraternity will undergo disciplinary action including mandatory community service and sensitivity training. Officers of the fraternity also met with leaders of African American communities to apologize in person.

    So… not so much a local issue, I guess?

    Floyd Dent, the man who was beaten by Detroit police this past week. There was talk of one of the officers involved: William Melendez, aka Robocop. And his previous troubles and misconduct in the force. Here’s more on him. Consider: this article is from 12 years ago. Ask: why is he still an officer? Why is he still an officer? In Detroit, Oversight of Police Is Welcomed

    A week after Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick agreed to improve everything from the way the department investigates officer-involved shootings to the food it serves detainees — typically bologna on two slices of white bread, every eight hours — U.S. Atty. Jeffrey Collins on June 19 indicted 17 officers for allegedly waging a private war on residents whom they deemed undesirable.

    The group, allegedly headed by William “Robocop” Melendez, is accused of stealing guns, money and drugs from suspects, planting weapons and breaking into homes without search warrants, among other crimes. All 17 have pleaded not guilty.

    More indictments, local and federal authorities say, are on the way. […]

    Investigators found a number of officers who have remained on the force and continued to be promoted despite their involvement in controversial shootings, drunken brawls or allegedly illegal detentions of suspects, federal documents show. They also discovered an internal department investigative and discipline system so erratic that officers accused of wrongdoing have worked as long as two years before being summoned before a hearings board. […]

    Weighing especially heavily on the minds of Detroit officers are the 17 indictments.

    Some of those officers allegedly stopped groups of people on the street and searched them for drugs. If they found drugs or guns, the officers would pick and choose who to arrest, falsifying reports to explain their actions, or pocket the contraband and money and allow the suspects to walk away. If they found no contraband, they sometimes planted it, the indictment alleges.

    That’s what happened, Darrell Chancellor says, when Melendez and another officer stopped him and a friend late on the night of April 22, 2002. The officers planted guns and arrested the pair, Chancellor contends in a lawsuit.

    Chancellor spent 213 days in jail on weapons charges. When federal prosecutors looked at the case, they swiftly dismissed the charges. Chancellor, 21, had a criminal record for receiving stolen property and a drug arrest, and he was well-known to Melendez, according to his attorney, Ronnie Cromer.

    “The feds would never dismiss a case with these details — except they didn’t believe the officers,” Cromer said. “Some of these officers have had complaints against them for years, dozens and dozens of complaints, and the department has done nothing.”

    Melendez and the other officers, three of whom have also earned precinct Officer of the Year awards, have been released on bond.

    As with most of the other indicted officers, Melendez’s primary accuser is a man with a felony record; said Melendez’s attorney, David Lee, “You have to consider the source.”

    But you also have to consider the officer, see, and I bet his misconduct record is much longer than the source’s felony record. You know. Think about that, too.

  63. rq says

    Media comparison:
    People are DEMANDING nuance from the media re: Lubitz. The same people didn’t demand nuance re: Mike Brown.
    Y’all, the media isn’t even referring to him as a mass murderer at this point. The main story is still his depression. That’s incredible.

    Y’all, Black Girl Magic open mic is going to be live! Come through. We’re at 2600 N. 14th Street in Old North St. Louis #ThatsAWord
    The turnout for the first Black Girl Magic open mic is amazing. We are magical. #ThatsAWord #blackgirlmagic :)

    At Duke, a black student says a white student taunted her with SAE’s racist chant – but it was just a song mistakenly sung during a drunken moment, right, no far-reaching consequences?

    At Duke, the incident was reported on a part of campus where freshmen live. University officials began investigating immediately, activated their “Bias Action Team” and are searching for witnesses, said spokesman Michael Schoenfeld. He said the “behavior that was reported is intolerable, and we deplore in the strongest way actions and statements that demean and threaten members of our community.”

    The identity of the young man who allegedly sang the chant is not known.

    The local SAE chapter issued this statement:

    “Our chapter was shocked and appalled when the news broke about the racist chant at Oklahoma University by students we were supposed to call brothers. We applauded our national organization and the OU community for refusing to tolerate the bigoted behavior of these individuals. No one deserves to be exposed to such a display of hate and we are disgusted that attitudes like these are still poisoning our society.

    “Earlier this week, our chapter felt the same stomach-turning emotions when we heard that the hateful words from the OU video were repeated on our own campus. Our hearts go out to the students targeted by this act and the pain they are coping with after facing such injustice….. It is our profound hope that the administration finds justice for the victims and gives the perpetrators the punishment they deserve.

    “As one of the most diverse and multicultural Duke IFC fraternities, we believe in fostering an open, safe, and inclusive environment in which our members can learn and grow together as brothers. We believe in eliminating stereotypes and dissolving prejudices, and we want our community to know that we stand with you in outrage at these recent acts of discrimination.”

    An anonymous group calling itself the People of Color Caucus posted a statement on Tumblr, widely shared on Facebook, that charged,”On Sunday, March 22, 2015, around 2:30 AM, a group of white male students targeted and taunted a young black female student with the racist Sigma Alpha Epsilon chant” and said the incident was not isolated but a symbol of ongoing racism and oppression on campus.

    Looks like another conversation on race and race relations has been opened.

    Body- and dashcams are all well and good. But yes, there’s accountability and the follow-up that is necessary, too. LAPD not sufficiently checking patrol car videos for officer misconduct, audit finds.

    Inspector General Alex Bustamante said police officials generally review recordings only when investigating “critical incidents” such as shootings and pursuits, or when a complaint is made against an officer.

    Although the department checks to see whether the cameras were activated, Bustamante said, supervisors generally don’t look at what is captured on the videos or review them to assess officer conduct, tactics or decision-making. Doing so would be “too time-consuming and labor intensive,” according to the report.

    Moving forward, Bustamante wrote, his office will conduct “regular and substantive reviews” of the recordings to help LAPD officials more routinely evaluate the use of the technology and officers’ actions.

    LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said the department was reviewing the inspector general’s findings, but declined to comment until the report was publicly presented to the Police Commission on Tuesday.

    Bustamante described the technology as a valuable tool and said it worked well in providing information about many LAPD stops. But he also outlined concerns, finding that officers didn’t always turn on the cameras at the start of pedestrian stops and sometimes engaged subjects in areas that were out of sight.

    As a result, the report said, the inspector general and LAPD officials identified measures “that will enable the department to obtain more complete video of each stop.” Those steps included drafting a new directive that “explicitly requires” officers to activate the cameras at all stop initiations.

  64. rq says

    Flyers of racist Yik Yak posts appear on campus

    A series of racist comments targeting African-Americans and other minority groups surfaced on Yik Yak, an anonymous social media app, following the final performance of “Black Anthology Presents: The Six” on Saturday night. Comments made on the app included references to Ebola, gun violence, affirmative action and other racially charged topics.

    “Shout out to affirmative action!” one of the less violent comments read. “Without it, BA would be non-existent!”

    This year’s production of Black Anthology, which focused on race relations on college campuses, was praised by students and faculty alike. Some viewers, however, were offended by the portrayal of white people in the production and used “Wash U Confessions” and Yik Yak to criticize the show anonymously and in some cases make racist remarks.

    On Monday morning, a series of flyers featuring screenshots of Yik Yak posts were found in several locations on the Danforth campus, including the Danforth University Center, Brookings Quadrangle and Etta’s Cafe. The flyers also featured phrases such as “‘Our’ WashU?” and “#ClaimYourBigotry.”

    Senior Diane-Jo Bart-Plange tweeted a photo of a flyer after seeing it in a bathroom stall in the DUC. The flyer featured a screenshot of a Yik Yak comment that said black students should be used as target practice for cops. The words “‘Our’ WashU?” were printed over the screenshot. Bart-Plange called the flyer “shocking” and said that the entire campaign was “poorly executed.”

    “I know [the campaign] was for a reason, but I don’t want to be subjected to it,” Bart-Plange said. “I don’t think they were really thinking about how it would affect the people of color that go here and would have to see that on the bathroom stall. You have to think about the community you are trying to protect. This could have been done a different way.” […]

    “We acknowledge that the Yaks we spread around campus were triggering,” #ClaimYourBigotry members wrote. “Although we do not wish anxiety on anyone, we do believe this way of thinking needed to be exposed. These are our peers. These are the people that sit next to us in class. These are the people we could be working with in the future. If these are their honest feelings, they need to be addressed.”

    The campaign leaders also said in their statement that screenshots on the flyers were created from racially offensive and threatening Yik Yaks from the past six months, not just from Saturday night. […]

    LaTanya Buck, director of the Diversity and Inclusion Center, said that no disciplinary action has been taken toward the students responsible for the flyer campaign. A single Bias Report and Support System report was filed regarding the discriminatory nature of the original Yik Yak posts.

    The Association of Black Students issued a statement to its general body on Monday night in an effort to console students affected by the Yik Yak comments and flyer campaign. The chief organizers of Black Anthology could not be reached for comment.

    That there’s a message to allies: your good intentions might still cause harm. Perhaps, in future, a little more thought or warning might be nice? At the very least?

    And what’s the latest update re: the man arrested for the #NAACPBombing. We haven’t forgotten. Oh, right, that happened. :P

    There’s Just One Problem With Photos on Food Stamp Cards – trying to prevent even more foodstamp fraud?

    Putting photos on the cards people use to redeem food stamps seems like a simple anti-fraud idea. But in Massachusetts, which started putting photos on Electronic Benefit Transfer cards in 2013, it hasn’t worked out for reasons that should have been obvious from the outset, according to a report from the Urban Institute, a left-of-center think tank.

    The main reason is that, under federal law, you sometimes have a right to use a food stamp card that was issued to someone else.

    Food stamps aren’t awarded to an individual; they go to a household, and anyone in the household is entitled by federal law to use the E.B.T. card the food stamps come on. So, Alyssa Renta, a 12-year-old resident of Boston, sometimes shops for groceries using a card that has her father’s photo on it — and retailers accept it, as they are supposed to under the law. If you don’t have to be the person in the photo to use the card, how is the photo supposed to stop misuse?

    Additionally, federal law prohibits retailers from subjecting food stamp shoppers to special scrutiny. So, if a retailer doesn’t ordinarily ask for a photo I.D. to verify credit card transactions, it’s not supposed to scrutinize the photos on E.B.T. cards either. This gives stores an additional reason to ignore the photos — and in supermarkets where the shopper swipes the card through a reader directly, the clerk may never even come in possession of the card to examine it in the first place. […]

    Because more than one person is allowed to use an E.B.T. card, the Urban Institute suggests other non-photo strategies for combating fraud, such as better electronic monitoring of suspicious transaction patterns (like sales in round dollar amounts) and higher penalties for retailers and beneficiaries who divert benefits fraudulently.

    @TefPoe @Nettaaaaaaaa @jasiri_x doing a panel at Harvard right now. So packed. Skype feed necessary. Glad to be here. #BlackLivesMatter
    “We’re actively living in a war zone.” – @TefPoe @jasiri_x @Nettaaaaaaaa @jelani9

  65. rq says

    Airport Pat-Downs Of Black Women’s Hairstyles Deemed Discriminatory. Wait, what? They did that?

    Malaika Singleton, a neuroscientist based in Sacramento, said she was on her way to London last year for an academic conference on dementia when a TSA agent at Los Angeles International Airport began pulling and squeezing her hair.

    “I was going through the screening procedures like we all do, and after I stepped out of the full body scanner, the agent said, ‘OK, now I’m going to check your hair,'” Singleton said on Thursday.

    The same thing happened when she passed through the Minneapolis airport on her way back home, Singleton said.

    She contacted the American Civil Liberties Union, and it turned out that one of the lawyers there, a black woman who also wears the tiny, stylized form of dreadlocks known as sisterlocks had the same experience – twice.

    Novella Coleman, the ACLU attorney, had already filed a complaint about the practice in 2012, to no avail, Coleman said on Thursday. She filed another complaint based on Singleton’s experience, and on Thursday the two women said that the agency had agreed to conduct anti-discrimination training sessions with its officers to avoid what they called racial profiling of hair.

    “The first time I was on a trip with colleagues, some other attorneys who were white and Latina,” said Novella Coleman, the ACLU lawyer who filed the complaint.

    “The woman said, ‘I need to search your hair now,’ and she just started grabbing my hair and squeezing it from top to bottom,” Coleman said. Her white and Latina colleagues underwent no such searches, she said.

    Asked the reason for the search, Coleman said she was given a variety of explanations. One officer said all passengers with hair extensions were searched, but Coleman wasn’t wearing extensions. Another said people are searched if they have “abnormalities” in their hair, she said.

    Abnormalities. No comment from the TSA, or any word on sensitivity training for their officers.

    UVA Names Newest Dormitory After Former Slave Couple

    The Gibbons House is dedicated to William and Isabella Gibbons, a former slave couple who were owned by professors at UVA for more than a decade.

    “One of the recommendations of the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University was to name one or more UVA buildings after enslaved persons who were connected to the life of the university,” UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan said. “This is part of a broad, ongoing effort to recognize the role of slavery in the university’s history and to educate the members of our community about the role of enslaved persons at UVA as we approach our bicentennial.”

    After emancipation, Isabella became one of the first black teachers at the Freedman’s School, now known as the Jefferson School. William became a minister at Charlottesville’s First Baptist Church on West Main Street.

    “Not only were they slaves at the university, but they went on to really interesting lives in freedom after the Civil War. So they help us to link the past to the present,” said Kirt von Daacke, associate professor of history.

    “There were people who come out of slavery, who become successful and are meaningful in the development of a community, and I think that’s part of the story that is also sometimes gets left out,” Jefferson School Foundation Executive Director Andrea Douglas said.

    UVA historians say the school is only the second university they found that has named a campus building after a slave or slaves. In 2007, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill named a dorm after slave and poet George Moses Horton.

    More!

    Ferguson grand jury wanted to make public statement, documents reveal. Where’s the FREEZE PEACH crowd on this one?

    A week before the Ferguson grand jury chose not to charge police Officer Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown, it was denied a request to make a public statement about the controversial case, court documents filed Friday reveal.

    It’s unknown what the 12 jurors wanted to say or what prompted them to seek an opportunity to be heard after the case was decided. The refusal came from St. Louis County Circuit Court Judge Carolyn Whittington.

    The surprising request surfaced in an ongoing federal lawsuit of a grand juror against St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch. The juror, identified in court papers as Grand Juror Doe, seeks the court’s permission to speak publicly about his experience and wants immunity from prosecution.

    On Friday, McCulloch filed arguments and exhibits to bolster his motion for U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel to dismiss the case. [..]

    By law, grand juries are sworn to secrecy. In Missouri, it’s a misdemeanor for them discuss evidence, witnesses or their votes. Their identities are seldom known.

    “I would imagine that it’s very unusual,” St. Louis law professor Susan McGraugh said of the panel’s wishes to go public after it ruled. “But as today proves, we don’t really get access to any requests like that that would be made.”

    McCulloch’s lawyers maintain Doe should have taken his case up with Whittington, who swore in the grand jury and denied its effort to make a public statement.

    “Indeed, on November 17, 2014, Judge Whittington rejected a request by the grand jury to issue a statement when it completed its work,” lawyers write in Friday’s filing. “…this Court should not permit [Doe] to sidestep the court to whom [Doe] swore his oath and by which he was twice charged to obey the law.” […]

    With international attention and controversy surrounding the case, McCulloch made the unique move to himself discuss in detail why the officer was cleared. He also made public most evidence presented to the grand jury — though some of it was heavily redacted.

    In January, Grand Juror Doe filed suit, alleging McCulloch wrongly implied that all 12 jurors believed that there was no evidence to support charging Wilson.

    “[McCulloch] does not know [Doe’s] identity or how he voted, and [McCulloch] has never purported to speak for any grand juror individually,” the prosecutor’s lawyers wrote in Friday’s filing. “Although [Doe] may now regret having sworn his oath and accept his charge, [Doe] has no right to publicly report his impressions, and it has long been established that a prosecutor, unlike a grand juror, is competent to discuss the evidence presented to a grand jury.”

    Taraji P. Henson Apologizes To Police After Video Counters Claim That Her Son Was Racially Profiled

    Just a week after citing repeated racial profiling as the reasoning she refused to send her son to USC, Glendale Police have released dashcam video of the “race based” traffic stop that sparked her uneasiness about sending her son to college in Southern California. Instead of a blatantly-racial stop-and-search, it appears to show a valid traffic stop that resulted in a search of the young man due to his own admission of having potentially illegal substances in his possession. Via LA Times:

    The footage obtained by the Los Angeles Times from Oct. 18 shows the officer driving in traffic about 10:10 p.m. in Glendale when the actress’ son, who is in a Honda Civic ahead of him, drives through a lighted crosswalk as a person walks across. His race was not apparent in the video as he was driving.

    the officer approaches Henson’s son’s Honda and tells him he was stopped for driving through a lighted crosswalk while someone was walking in it. The youth tells the officer he was headed to a friend’s home in Calabasas.

    Then the officer asked whether he had anything illegal in his car, and the young man responded that he had marijuana in his backpack, according to the video. He told the officer he has a state-issued medical marijuana license but couldn’t find it.

    During the lengthy traffic stop shown on the video, Johnson was searched and then told the officer he had Ritalin, a prescription pill used to treat hyperactivity, in his car. He admitted he didn’t have a prescription and got the pill from a friend.

    Johnson then consented and allowed the officer to search his car. At that point, the officer was joined by two other officers and a police cadet.

    Hours after the video hit the internet, Taraji apologized for accusing the Police department of racism:

    And it’s a very nice apology, too, straightforward. I feel she was justified in overreacting, but also very decent and kind of her to apologize.

  66. rq says

    There was a shooting in Boston. Officer shot was honored for role in bombing aftermath – the officer was wounded, the suspect was killed.

    Friday’s incident began at 6:40 p.m. when gang unit officers investigating a report of shots fired stopped a vehicle on Humboldt Avenue near Crawford Street to interview its three male occupants, authorities said Friday night.

    The suspect stepped out and began to flee while firing his gun, said David Procopio, a spokesman for the State Police, which works alongside Boston police to address gang violence.

    The suspect wounded Moynihan under the right eye, Evans said.

    A law enforcement official also said the suspect, who was not identified, had several previous gun-related charges.

    Evans said that the stop was initially routine and that the suspect had fired at police “before they had time to react,” but the officers quickly returned fire, killing the suspect.

    Gunfire also struck “a middle-aged woman” who suffered a flesh wound, possibly in her right arm, Evans said.

    “I think she got caught up in the crossfire,” he said.

    Then most of the article is how darned heroic this one officer is (and yes, he’s done fantastic and helpful things!) and how the suspect killed had a (gun-related!) record, so obviously it’s okay to shoot him and indeed a heroic deed. The community was not so thrilled, however, so here’s some twitter commentary on the aftermath:
    #RoxburyShooting video of police clashing with protesters, the youtube link: Roxbury shooting police conflict .
    Body blockade of cops at #RoxburyShooting while body removed. Shooting at 6:40, removed at 11:20 – depends on processing of the scene, though that seems like a lot.
    Tonight I watched BPD cops laugh at a grieving family trying to find out if their loved one was under the tarp. Devastating #RoxburyShooting

  67. rq says

    Tomorrow 11:30am-3pm Greater St. Mark Church 9950 Glen Owen Dr. *Dellwood, #MO #STL #Ferguson #BlackLivesMatter – an event on voter mobilization, expungement of criminal record, gun safety and awareness.

    How Ferguson-area courts bully residents to balance local budgets, in one video

    When the US Department of Justice released its searing report on the systemic racial bias of the Ferguson Police Department and court system, it noted that the St. Louis suburb likely wasn’t the only one in the county that bullied residents, particularly minorities, to raise revenue to balance its local budget.

    A new story, accompanied by the video above, by the Huffington Post’s Ryan Reilly and Mariah Stewart shows the extent that St. Louis County takes advantage of local residents for financial gain. Among the 90 municipalities in St. Louis County, some of which have just a few hundred residents, court fines and fees are often the top or second leading source of revenue, and the money very often comes out of the pockets of black and poor residents.

    A 2014 report from Better Together, a St. Louis–based nonprofit, found that municipalities in St. Louis County raised $45 million in fines and fees in 2013. Local governments in the county accounted for 34 percent of all municipal fines and fees statewide, although they made up 11 percent of Missouri’s population.

    The Huffington Post’s video focused on the egregious case of Country Club Hills. There, a 2014 report from ArchCity Defenders, a nonprofit that provides legal representation to the poor and homeless in the St. Louis area, found 33,000 outstanding warrants, even though the city had a population of less than 1,300. So for every resident in the municipality, there were nearly 26 outstanding warrants. […]

    The video shows that although investigations into St. Louis County’s justice system are getting more attention from national media after the August 9 police shooting of Michael Brown, the feelings of distrust among residents have been around for far longer. “I can’t tell you what’s going on in the mind of a police officer, but in the mind of my clients, they’re being pulled over because they’re black,” Thomas Harvey, executive director and cofounder of ArchCity Defenders, told Vox’s Sarah Kliff in August. “They’re being pulled over so the city can generate revenue.”

    Study: how being discriminated against and devalued affects our behavior. Now there’s a scientific study, so I guess these effects can now be considered to be real.

    Researchers gave online surveys to 1,280 Americans to look for connections between feelings of disrespect and a person’s propensity to engage in delinquent behaviors. Here are some of the findings:

    – Black participants who were asked to imagine a scenario in which their boss belittled African Americans said they’d be more willing to waste their employer’s time (by putting in less effort at work) or make negative comments about the company to others.
    – Female participants were asked to imagine being denied a promotion either because their boss didn’t think women should be in leadership positions or because their personality wasn’t right for the job. The women who contemplated being passed over because of their gender were more likely to say they’d begin doing incorrect work on purpose, starting rumors, or refusing to help coworkers.
    – White participants who felt they were devalued because of their race, gender, or religious affiliation were more likely to lash out by cheating than white participants who simply didn’t get what they wanted.

    Just the latest way discrimination affects people

    Previous studies have shown that discrimination based on social identity can harm victims’ performance, cognitive abilities, and willpower. The Stanford study’s findings about antisocial behavior as a consequence of disrespect are new — but it makes perfect sense that being undervalued because of identity would affect every part of a person’s life.

    As Peter Belmi, one of the coauthors of the study, told the Stanford News, “When people feel that they are being viewed negatively by others simply because they belong to a particular gender, race or other group membership, they come away with the impression that others do not treat them respectfully, which in turn makes them more likely to engage in social deviance.”

    SAE Fraternity Members Learned Racist Song At National Leadership Event, University Finds

    In a document obtained by The Huffington Post, the university concluded that the students learned the song on a cruise organized by the national SAE office four years ago. Fraternity members brought the racist song back to the OU chapter, the university’s investigation found, and over time, it was “taught to pledges as part of the formal and informal pledge process.” The document said that the song was widely known and became part of the “institutionalized culture of the chapter.”

    SAE’s national headquarters shut down the University of Oklahoma chapter on March 8, hours after video surfaced showing fraternity members on a bus singing “There will never be a n***r in SAE” to the tune of “If You’re Happy And You Know It.” The university ordered the students to vacate the fraternity house, which is owned by OU, within two days, and later moved to expel two students identified as having a “leadership role” in the song’s usage.[…]

    The university’s findings said that the racist song belted out by SAE members on March 7 was confined to one charter bus, not the entire chapter. However, the university did find there were roughly a dozen high school students on the bus who were exposed to the racist lyrics, which joked about lynching black men.

    SAE’s national headquarters did not immediately return a request for comment. It announced last week that it would conduct a national review of any racial intolerance among its chapters.

    Students from other SAE chapters, including Texas Tech University, Louisiana Tech University and the University of Texas at Austin, have come forward in recent weeks to say they, too, learned the racist song from their fraternity brothers.

    Boren said Friday that the remaining SAE members at the university who are not expelled will undergo diversity training.

    UPDATE, 6 p.m. — SAE’s national office confirmed Friday afternoon that the Oklahoma members “likely learned a racist chant while attending a national Leadership School about four years ago.” The office said it has “no current evidence” that the song is widespread across the fraternity’s 237 chapters and colonies.

    “We intend to conduct a thorough and complete investigation, and this will take time,” SAE Executive Director Blaine Ayers said in a statement. “However, we will share the results of our investigation when it is complete. Our current findings at the University of Oklahoma are similar to those announced on Friday by University of Oklahoma President David Boren. But our investigation to date shows no evidence the song was widely shared across the broader organization.”

    Learned the racist chant at a LEADERSHIP SCHOOL. Fine example you’re setting up there, SAE. Totally local problem. Wow.

    Okay, here’s a good news. 29-Year-Old Jamaican Raises $6.9 Million to Launch Skincare Products For African-Americans.

    Jamaican born entrepreneur Tristan Walker (pictured), a graduate of Stanford University, is aiming to help African-American men who have problems with their facial hair by designing a new shaving system to combat problems they face with hard stubble and facial rashes.

    The 29-year-old who grew up in Jamaica and Queens, New York, said that he noticed there is hardly anything on the market for people of color and what is available is not suitable for their type of skin.

    With backing from organizations such as Andreessen Horowitz, Upfront Ventures, Collaborative Fund and Ron Johnson (former senior vice-president of retail operations for Apple), the young entrepreneur has raised $6.9 million to set up his new company Walker & Co.

    The company aims to be the Procter & Gamble for people of color and he intends to set up an online magazine to advertise other products that the company will develop, said Walker. He adds that the company’s first venture is the “Bevel,” which is a revolutionary shaving system aimed at the African-American market.

    According to Walker, “My experience of going into a Walgreens or CVS and going to the ethnic aisle, which is really a shelf, and having to reach down to get a package that is dirty, probably expired, with a photo of a 70-year-old bald, black guy in a towel on it, that entire awful second-class citizen experience has to go.” He continued, “Many African American men have never shaved with a razor because of problems stemming from coarse or curly hair.”

    The Bevel retails for $60 for a six-piece kit that includes shaving creams and salves to help prevent rash while shaving and customers can also choose to pay an extra $30 a month to keep up with their requirements for the added extras.

    The aim of the company, according to their official website, is to develop and test various products that are designed specifically for the African-American market. It adds that this vision, combined with their promise of delivering the best customer service, will establish them as the world’s most consumer-centric health & beauty product’s company on the market.

    Marlon Nichols, a venture capital investor at intel-capital and one of the users of Bevel, said that he believes the Bevel is the best product for men of color ever invented. He adds that it is the only system he trusts to shave his head and neck without irritation.

    #EricGarner supporters at his memorial, gathered around his youngest daughter, Legacy, on her first birthday.

  68. rq says

    Judge Calls Out Portland Police For Bogus ‘Contempt Of Cop’ Arrest/Beating

    It doesn’t happen often, but a judge has called out police officers for using a non-existent offense — “contempt of cop” — to justify the use of force against a detained person. Multnomah County (OR) Judge Diana Stewart cleared 16-year-old Portland resident Thai Gurule of several charges brought against him after he was pummeled and tased by police officers for… well, basically for responding angrily to a somewhat derogatory gesture.

    Police that night had been looking for a group of seven to nine African American men, including one shirtless one, who had been walking the streets, reportedly damaging property and yelling profanities. Within minutes of receiving the group’s last known location, police several blocks away focused their attention on a group of three young men: Gurule, his 20-year-old brother and their friend.

    That was the narrative up to the point where Thai Gurule found himself on the receiving end of fists and Tasers. Ignoring the fact that this group had little in common with the suspects other than race, we come to what turned this incident into a confrontation and, finally, a one-side melee.

    The following comes from the judge’s statement on the dismissal of charges:

    As the youth walked past, Officer Hughes said, “Hey” to the youth and when the youth continued, he again said, “Hey” and clapped his hands.

    Thai Gurule turned to face Officer Hughes and in an angry or aggressive voice said “Don’t fucking clap your hands at me”. Officer Hughes stepped forward while the youth stepped back.

    Cue escalation. The officers decided to cuff Gurule (for “resisting arrest,” apparently). As a crowd began to gather, the officers decided to move Gurule into a prone position for cuffing, supposedly for officer safety. But rather than let Gurule move to a prone position, one of the officers decided to speed up the process by sweeping Gurule’s feet out from underneath him. From that point, it became an uncontrolled beating. One officer held Gurule by the hair while the other two wrestled him to the ground and hit him multiple times with their fists and knees. Finding the one-sided “struggle” to be ineffective, Sgt. Lile deployed his Taser.

    After they were done throwing blows, the officers threw the book at Thai Gurule, listing all of the following charges on the police report:

    Aggravated assault
    Simple assault
    Criminal threats
    Disorderly conduct
    Interference with public safety
    Resisting arrest

    The accompanying reports filed by the officers maintained that Gurule repeatedly swung his fists at officers and tried to choke one of them. Unfortunately for these officers, multiple recordings of the incident that contradicted their narrative were made available to the judge.

    Judge Stewart was obviously irate at the thick stack of lies delivered to her in the form of police reports and sworn testimony. She also was none too happy with the officers’ justification for initiating the arrest of a person who had done nothing more than fail to treat Officer Hughes with as much deference as he felt he deserved. Not only did she dismiss the charges, but she read the entire damning dismissal order out loud.

    In discussing the “resisting arrest” charge, Judge Stewart also addressed the pure BS motivating the officers’ arrest of Gurule. She points out there’s an exceedingly low bar that needs to be met to satisfy the requirements for bringing this charge, but the officers couldn’t even meet that.

    Actual restraint was placed upon the youth at the moment that Officers Hughes and Hornstein placed control or escort holds on the youth. At that moment, even given the broad authority described above, there is insufficient evidence before the court that the Officers were operating under their community caretaking function, or therefore under color.

    At that time, there is no evidence of concerns about a crowd forming. That concern arose as much as a minute later when the officers decided to take the youth to the ground.

    Establishing this, she gets to the heart of the matter.

    The only facts before the court are that the youth failed the attitude test when he turned and aggressively complained about Officer Hughes clapping him hands. Officer Hughes stepped forward and the youth stepped back and Officer Hughes, immediately followed by Officer Hornstein placed the holds restraining the youth.

    And there it is: the bogus arrest was prompted by a little disrespect Officer Hughes just couldn’t handle. It is surprising enough that a judge would call out an officer for this sort of behavior. It’s even more surprising that she would move on to allowing an arrested suspect’s self-defense claims stand. In most cases, the judicial branch shows deference to police officers who use excessive force in their self-defense (“feared for their safety”). In this instance, the deference went the other way.

    [W]hile a person may not use physical force to resist what is actually or perceived by the defendant to be an unlawful arrest, a person may use physical force in defending oneself from excessive use of force by an arresting officer. Any injury caused to an officer in the course of engaging in a justifiable use of force to defend oneself may under such circumstances be justified and not criminal.

    […]

    In this case, the youth’s age is a relevant factor which the court considers even without the testimony of youth. Therefore, the question before the court is whether this youth and a reasonable 16 year old youth in his position would have believed that the use or imminent use of force against him exceeded the force reasonably necessary and whether he was entitled to defend himself with a degree of force which a reasonable 16 year old would reasonably believe to be necessary for the purpose.

    […]

    The take down, although intended to be gentle and with adequate warning was nothing like that plan. Officer Hornstein swept the youth’s feet out from under him causing him the sensation of falling forward without the use of his hands to break his fall. The next 35 to 45 seconds was a melee of fists and punches and bodies falling upon him. Prior to reaching the wall, the youth was attempting to regain his footing and get back on his feet and remove himself from what a reasonable person would have felt was a senseless and aggressive use of excessive physical force.

    Once at the wall, the independent evidence of the video clips is less clear but continues to show the youth trying to struggle away from the officers rather than engage in a physical altercation…

    […]

    [G]iven that confusion, rapidity of events, the tangle of officers and the youth and the confusion caused by the crowd, I find that as to all charges herein, the state has not established beyond a reasonable doubt that the youth was not reasonably justified in the use of self-defense as to all of the charges herein.

    And with that, Thai Gurule is no longer facing criminal charges. As of yet, there’s no word of what consequences, if any, are awaiting the officers involved. The city’s police department is only a couple of years removed from a DOJ investigation, but incidents like these show there’s still work to be done.

    And, of course, the local police union has greeted this decision with assertions that the officers involved did nothing wrong and that Judge Stewart is nothing more than an armchair quarterback, but you’ll have to click over to Popehat to read Ken White’s entertaining/infuriating take on the union head’s counterclaims.

    Yeah, that’s the entire article because it’s worth reading the judge’s takedown. All of it. Also, that link at the end to Popehat, that’s not bad, either!!!

    Finding Hope In #MarteseJohnson And Racist SAE Videos

    I love my alma mater. I really do.

    But it was a tiny, pretty much all-white school in the south. And there were plenty of times in my four years there when I had to call on Jesus or Jameson or a nap to stop me from lashing out at some idiot racist.

    At college, I’d been accosted with “Yo homie yo” by drunk frat guys. I had cops called on my Black friends who were scaring White people at a party by simply being there. I heard White people say the N-word more times than I’d like to count. Overall, though, I loved my school. For the most part, I got along with my White schoolmates and professors. Still, it doesn’t take a lot of racism to leave an indelible, painful mark.

    But for so many of us, these moments of racism are topics shared in Black Student Unions and The Black Lunch Table. Generally, we just have to live with these feelings for our four years in college and move on. We’ll have rallies, meetings and ways to present to our White peers that some of the ways they talk to us are unacceptable and come from a place of racism. Sadly, though, there was always a plausible deniability; A “well they’re not talking about me. I’m enlightened.” So no matter how much we’d try to explain our place as minorities residing in these White institutions, we would hear how “sensitive” we are or how we’re “living in the past” or “looking for racism.”

    How many times have you come across a student who you just knew said the N-word amongst his or her friends but had no way to prove they are racist? Or how often did you just know that campus security guard hated your Black Excellence on his campus but didn’t feel like you had enough people to hear you out? I bet there were students at Oklahoma who felt that innate, denied racism when they debated SAE members in Sociology class. I bet there are students at UVA who felt that the ABC officers were following them around for no reason. And the only people they could talk to were fellow Black students.

    That’s why there’s hope in the SAE video and Martese Johnson’s videos. Now the cloud of deniability that was used to make us feel like we were just making sh*t up is gone. Now we have videos and an infrastructure of protest that makes these videos go “viral.” SAE racism (and Kappa Alpha racism and on and on) has been around for decades, but now the subjugated have support and voices to take our issues national. It’s great that there is a community to fight for Martese. There’s a nation of supporters ready to demand that SAE be removed. The same goes for racist baseball players who think insulting a high school girl is okay. For too long, our movements and protests were locally contained, making us feel alone and overwhelmed against institutions that have been around since we were only considered 3/5th of a person. Racism doesn’t have that luxury anymore. All of our movements are united and, most importantly, loud. Racist chants will go viral. Violence against our Black kids will turn into national protests. And schools will be held accountable in ways they didn’t have to address before. It’s beautiful.

    I’ve always contested that college (and the few years afterwards when you’re constantly denied jobs given to White counterparts of equal or lesser qualification) is probably the most racist four years of our lives because we’re surrounded by people who are free to be as racist as they want with little to no consequence. Well, I can only hope that this won’t be the case much longer as we keep holding these students and institutions accountable for the racism that has permeated their campuses for centuries. And for that, Martese’s scars wouldn’t have been created in vain.

    Survivors of the #Ayotzinapa massacre lay flowers on the ground where Mike Brown’s body was left for 4.5 hours.

    Ex-University of Mississippi Student Indicted for Noose on James Meredith Statue. See also article in comments above.

    University of Mississippi Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Brandi Hephner LaBanc said the situation is regrettable for all involved, including the former student who was charged.

    “I can’t help but feel the pain of the student and the parents who will now feel the full weight of our justice system, but also feel the pain of our campus community and the entire Ole Miss family, which suffered greatly from the terrible act committed a year ago,” she said. “We’re hopeful that this indictment will begin to bring closure and the next step in healing for our university.”

    The DeRay McKesson Episode from Fan Bros (audio at the link)

    On this week’s FanBrosShow we welcome DeRay McKesson, the activist most of you know as DeRay on Twitter. DeRay joins us to discuss going from 800 followers to 73,000 plus and what it’s like to be considered one of the young leaders of the protest movement. We speak on the events in Ferguson including some very chilling discussions on how it feels to be on the front lines of the movement. One of our most important episodes ever as the FanBrosShow explores issues that affect everyone not just the geeks and the blerds of the world.

  69. rq says

    Here’s some humour: Six Snazzy New Ways To Be Totally Racist, Without That Horrid Racist Smell

    Hey you. Racists. No, not you with the Confederate flag sending out “Obama is a monkey” emails. You, over there: closet racist. It’s time for a talk.

    The racism that you’ve been quietly sliding across the table at us for years has become pretty darn obvious lately. You may not think much of our deductive skills, but when we see the same condescension and coded language time and time again — well, we start to pick up on it. As Jay Smooth said, if your defense was a Robin Thicke song, you’d be sued for plagiarism. If you aren’t careful, people are going to stop believing that you are really “just asking a question” “playing devil’s advocate.” Heck — we may even start to suspect that you do see color and that it is about race.

    We all know that as important as that white supremacy is to you, it’s even more important that it look like it isn’t important to you. One must have standards. But don’t worry my dear “not racist” friends — I’m here to help! I’ve come up with some fresh new coded language so you can oppress all those brown folks, but with class.

    Problem words to be replaced are: ethnic, thug, reverse-racist, single mothers, developing nation and black-on-black crime. Each concept has been given a new, inoffensive, replacement, such as ‘friends of Jamaal’ for ‘ethnic’ and ‘ruffian’ for ‘thug’ – just to keep people from realizing one is racist.

    Actress Taraji Henson apologizes to Glendale police for racial profile claims Here’s her actual apology:

    “I would like to publicly apologize to the officer and the Glendale Police Department,” she said in an Instagram message with the hashtag #TurningANegativeIntoAPositive #LoveTarajiPHenson. “A mother’s job is not easy and neither is a police officer’s. Sometimes as humans we overreact without gathering all the facts. As a mother in this case, I overreacted and for that I apologize. Thank you to that officer for being kind to my son.”

    And here’s a recap of the cop’s actions, the kind that it would be nice to see mroe of:

    After checking his car, the officer decided not to cite him for the original infraction because it would have a lasting effect on his driving record. Instead, he cited the young man for possessing marijuana.

    “I am not going to give you a citation for running that yellow because that would actually put a moving violation on your driving license, and you are going to have to go to traffic school and all that stuff, so I am helping you by not giving you a violation on it. All I am going to do is take the weed from you,” he said.

    The officer told Johnson he could go to court, show proof he has a prescription and probably just pay a fine.

    “It felt like this was a little better than the other one,” he said. “I am giving this to you too because you smoked weed about two hours ago … and a warning if you have Ritalin on you and you’re not supposed to, don’t do it. That’s a big violation and I wouldn’t want to do that to you.” […]

    John Thomas, chief of the USC Department of Public Safety, said he “was deeply disturbed to read news reports about a prospective student who felt profiled on or near campus because of his race.”

    In a statement, Thomas said he wanted to talk with Henson and her son.

    “As someone who personally experienced racial profiling as a teenager, I have a stake in learning more about this incident and doing all I can to reach a just resolution,” he said.

    So a mostly good encounter. Heck, didn’t even seem to be that hard on the officer!

    Oklahoma Inquiry Traces Racist Song to National Gathering of Fraternity.

    The university’s investigation, including interviews with 160 people, showed that the song was well-known among leaders of the fraternity from multiple chapters, and shared on the cruise, David L. Boren, the University of Oklahoma president, said Friday at a news conference. In a letter to the national organization, Mr. Boren wrote that while the university has taken action, “the matter cannot be closed in our view, however, until the culture at the national level has also been addressed.” […]

    Speaking to about 200 people on Friday, he said that in all, about 25 fraternity members, including the two who were expelled, had been disciplined, and that all had accepted the discipline. He dismissed the concerns of free speech experts who have said they doubt the university has the legal right to penalize people for expressing even offensive views. “If speech is used to create a threatening and hostile environment,” Mr. Boren said, “then you have a right to act.”

    Mr. Boren said he held a meeting before the news conference between leaders of black student groups and the former fraternity chapter, “baring their souls to each other” for 90 minutes.

    “To say it was a very emotional moment for me is an understatement,” he said, his voice breaking slightly, “because I observed our students rendering apologies, apologies being accepted, uniting, treating each other with care and concern and love and dedicating themselves to rebuilding our university community.”

    One black student in that meeting, Christopher Flix, said the apologies were appreciated, but when asked if the white students were truly remorseful, said, “You know, you can never tell.”

    “I do feel like that meeting was very emotional and from that, it will be tough to think that wouldn’t be genuine,” said Mr. Flix, a senior who is president of the university’s National Pan-Hellenic Council, the umbrella group for the nine historically African-American fraternities and sororities on campus. But, he added, “the true test of character is the actions that follow the words.”

    Former leaders of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter did not respond to requests for comment.

    There’s no word on what that discipline meted out to frat members actually consisted of… I find that interesting, but I suppose that’s up to the frat to reveal. But I have a hard time believing it was adequate.

  70. rq says

    Snagged from Tony:
    When ‘Religious Liberty’ Was Used To Justify Racism Instead Of Homophobia

    Yet, while LGBT Americans are the current target of this effort to repackage prejudice as “religious liberty,” they are hardly the first. To the contrary, as Wake Forest law Professor Michael Kent Curtis explained in a 2012 law review article, many segregationists justified racial bigotry on the very same grounds that religious conservatives now hope to justify anti-gay animus. In the words of one professor at a prominent Mississippi Baptist institution, “our Southern segregation way is the Christian way . . . . [God] was the original segregationist.”
    God Of The Segregationists

    Theodore Bilbo was one of Mississippi’s great demagogues. After two non-consecutive terms as governor, Bilbo won a U.S. Senate seat campaigning against “farmer murderers, corrupters of Southern womanhood, [skunks] who steal Gideon Bibles from hotel rooms” and a host of other, equally colorful foes. In a year where just 47 Mississippi voters cast a ballot for a communist candidate, Bilbo railed against a looming communist takeover of the state — and offered himself up as the solution to this red onslaught.

    Bilbo was also a virulent racist. “I call on every red-blooded white man to use any means to keep the n[*]ggers away from the polls,” Bilbo proclaimed during his successful reelection campaign in 1946. He was a proud member of the Ku Klux Klan, telling Meet the Press that same year that “[n]o man can leave the Klan. He takes an oath not to do that. Once a Ku Klux, always a Ku Klux.” During a filibuster of an anti-lynching bill, Bilbo claimed that the bill

    will open the floodgates of hell in the South. Raping, mobbing, lynching, race riots, and crime will be increased a thousandfold; and upon your garments and the garments of those who are responsible for the passage of the measure will be the blood of the raped and outraged daughters of Dixie, as well as the blood of the perpetrators of these crimes that the red-blooded Anglo-Saxon White Southern men will not tolerate.

    For Senator Bilbo, however, racism was more that just an ideology, it was a sincerely held religious belief. In a book entitled Take Your Choice: Separation or Mongrelization, Bilbo wrote that “[p]urity of race is a gift of God . . . . And God, in his infinite wisdom, has so ordained it that when man destroys his racial purity, it can never be redeemed.” Allowing “the blood of the races [to] mix,” according to Bilbo, was a direct attack on the “Divine plan of God.” There “is every reason to believe that miscengenation and amalgamation are sins of man in direct defiance to the will of God.”

    Bilbo was one of the South’s most colorful racists, but he was hardly alone in his beliefs. As early as 1867, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld segregated railway cars on the grounds that “[t]he natural law which forbids [racial intermarriage] and that social amalgamation which leads to a corruption of races, is as clearly divine as that which imparted to [the races] different natures.” This same rationale was later adopted by state supreme courts in Alabama, Indiana and Virginia to justify bans on interracial marriage, and by justices in Kentucky to support residential segregation and segregated colleges. […]

    Bob Jones University excluded African Americans completely until the early 1970s, when it began permitting black students to attend so long as they were married. In 1975, it amended this policy to permit unmarried African American students, but it continued to prohibit interracial dating, interracial marriage, or even being “affiliated with any group or organization which holds as one of its goals or advocates interracial marriage.” As a result, the Internal Revenue Service revoked Bob Jones’ tax-exempt status.

    This decision, that the IRS would no longer give tax subsidies to racist schools even if they claimed that their racism was rooted in religious beliefs, quickly became a rallying point for the Christian Right. Indeed, according to Paul Weyrich, the seminal conservative activist who coined the term “moral majority,” the IRS’ move against schools like Bob Jones was the single most important issue driving the birth of modern day religious conservatism. According to Weyrich, “[i]t was not the school-prayer issue, and it was not the abortion issue,” that caused this “movement to surface.” Rather it was what Weyrich labeled the “federal government’s move against the Christian schools.”

    When Bob Jones’ case reached the Supreme Court, the school argued that IRS’ regulations denying tax exemptions to racist institutions “cannot constitutionally be applied to schools that engage in racial discrimination on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs.” But the justices did not bite. In an 8-1 decision by conservative Chief Justice Warren Burger, the Court explained that “[o]n occasion this Court has found certain governmental interests so compelling as to allow even regulations prohibiting religiously based conduct.” Prohibiting race discrimination is one of these interests. […]

    One year before Bob Jones, the Court decided a case called United States v. Lee, which involved an Amish employer’s objection to paying Social Security taxes on religious grounds. As the Court explained in Lee, allowing people with religious objections to opt out of Social Security could undermine the viability of the entire program. “The design of the system requires support by mandatory contributions from covered employers and employees,” Burger wrote for the Court. “This mandatory participation is indispensable to the fiscal vitality of the social security system. . . . Moreover, a comprehensive national social security system providing for voluntary participation would be almost a contradiction in terms and difficult, if not impossible, to administer.”

    Just as importantly, allowing religious employers to exempt themselves from the law would be fundamentally unfair to the employees who are supposed to benefit from those laws. “When followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity. Granting an exemption from social security taxes to an employer operates to impose the employer’s religious faith on the employees.”

    Lee, in other words, stands for the proposition that people of faith do not exist in a vacuum. Their businesses compete with other companies who are entitled to engage in this competition upon a level playing field. Their personnel decisions impact their employees, and their decision to refuse to do business with someone — especially for reasons such as race or sexual orientation — can fundamentally demean that individual and deny them their own right to participate equally in society.

    This is why people like Theodore Bilbo should not be allowed to refuse to do business with African Americans, and it is why anti-gay business owners should not be given a special right to discriminate against LGBT consumers. And this is also something that the United States has understood for a very long time. Bob Jones and Lee are not new cases. A whole generation of Americans spent their entire professional careers enjoying the protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Religious liberty is an important value and it rightfully belongs in our Constitution, but it we do not allow it to be used to destroy the rights of others.

    The argument Gov. Brewer resolved Wednesday night with her veto stamp is no different than the argument Lyndon Johnson resolved when he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Invidious discrimination is wrong. And it doesn’t matter why someone wants to discriminate.

    Petition: File Charges against Officers Timothy Loehmann and Officer Frank Gramback

    We, the undersigned, demand that charges be filed against the Cleveland Police Officers responsible for the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was innocently minding his own business in a public picnic shelter at Cudell Recreation Center on November 22, 2014, when a police squad car driven by officer Frank Gramback suddenly descended upon Tamir and Officer Timothy Loehmann fired two shots in 0.792 seconds hitting Tamir Rice in the stomach. Unless police are held accountable for such unwarranted use of deadly force, there is no question but that tragedies like this will continue to happen

    Still needs about 3000 to make it to 25 000.


    If You Think We’re Living In A Post-Racial Society, You Need To See This Chart (IMAGE)

    Despite the fact that the U.S. economy experienced a full year of job growth and the national unemployment rate has dropped, black Americans haven’t benefitted much from this improvement. If we’re going to call ourselves a post-racial society, one big step in the right direction would be to focus on black unemployment rates.

    Currently, 20% of African Americans are unemployed in Wisconsin – the state with the highest black unemployment rate. After Wisconsin, Nevada (16.1%) and Michigan (15.8%) took the lead, as reported by the Economic Policy Institute on Thursday. This sobering data, collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, serves as proof that African Americans are still facing disproportionately high unemployment rates.

    At the end of 2014, it was reported that across the United States, 11% of African Americans did not have a job. When you consider that in 2009, national unemployment rates had reached a high of 9.9% due to the recession, the current numbers of black unemployment are far too high. Last year, the annual unemployment rate for white people was only 4.9%.

    The chart below, courtesy of Huffington Post, compares black employment rates to white unemployment rates in every state – and the evidence is impossible to ignore. Across the board, every state had a higher black unemployment rate than the national unemployment rate, which is 5.5% as of February. […]

    One of the challenges that black workers are facing is racial discrimination in the workforce. In a study, it was found that a black job applicant with no criminal record would do just as well as a white job applicant that just got out of prison. It was also discovered that black applicants were half as likely to get a job offer or callback even if they were just as qualified as a white applicant. In another experiment, data showed that employers didn’t hire as many black workers for service jobs because they thought their customers wouldn’t want to be served by them. These are old attitudes and prejudices that are still affecting us as a society today.

    Black unemployment – as well as black incarceration rates – are both areas that affect African Americans disproportionately, and areas we desperately need to work on before we think of ourselves as a nation that provides equal opportunities to all Americans.

    Also, for fun: Happy 60th birthday to Ruby Bridges! via A Mighty Girl! on Facebook.

    As a six-year-old, Ruby Bridges famously became the first African American child to desegregate an all-white elementary school in the South. When the 1st grader walked to William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans on November 14, 1960 surrounded by a team of U.S. Marshals, she was met by a vicious mob shouting and throwing objects at her.

    One of the federal marshals, Charles Burks, who served on her escort team, recalls Bridges’ courage in the face of such hatred: “For a little girl six years old going into a strange school with four strange deputy marshals, a place she had never been before, she showed a lot of courage. She never cried. She didn’t whimper. She just marched along like a little soldier. We were all very proud of her.”

    Once Ruby entered the school, she discovered that it was devoid of children because they had all been removed by their parents due to her presence. The only teacher willing to have Ruby as a student was Barbara Henry, who had recently moved from Boston. Ruby was taught by herself for her first year at the school due to the white parents’ refusal to have their children share a classroom with a black child.

    Despite daily harassment, which required the federal marshals to continue escorting her to school for months; threats towards her family; and her father’s job loss due to his family’s role in school integration, Ruby persisted in attending school. The following year, when she returned for second grade, the mobs were gone and more African American students joined her at the school. The pioneering school integration effort was a success due to Ruby Bridges’ inspiring courage, perseverance, and resilience.

    Links to books, films, documentaries and just plain more information at the link.

  71. rq says

  72. rq says

  73. rq says

    An article on St Louis from a couple of years ago: The view from flyover country

    St Louis is one of those cities that does not make it into the international news unless something awful happens, like it did last week in Cleveland, another American heartland city with a bad reputation and too many black people to meet the media comfort zone. The city is treated like a joke, and the people who live there and rescue women and make concise indictments of American race relations are turned into memes.

    St Louis is one of those cities where, if you are not from there, people ask why you live there. You tell them how it is a secret wonderland for children, how the zoo is free and the parks are beautiful, how people are more kind and generous than you would imagine, how it is not as dangerous as everyone says. They look at you skeptically and you know that they are thinking you cannot afford to move. They are right, but that is only part of it.

    St Louis is one of those cities that is always ahead of its time. In 1875, it was calledthe “Future Great City of the World”. In the 19th century, it lured in traders and explorers and companies that funded the city’s public works and continue to do so today. In the 20th century, St Louis showed the world ice cream and hamburgers and ragtime and blues and racism and sprawl and riots and poverty and sudden, devastating decay. In the 21st century, St Louis is starting to look more like other American cities, because in the 21st century, America started looking more like St Louis.

    St Louis is one of those cities where, if you are not from there, people ask why you live there.

    St Louis is a city where people are doing so much with so little that you start to wonder what they could do if they had more. […]

    In St Louis, possibilities are supposed to be in the past. It is the closest thing America has to a fallen imperial capital. This is where dystopian Hollywood fantasies are set and filmed. It is the gateway and the memorial of the American Dream.

    But when the American Dream is dying for everyone, St Louis might be the one to rise up. In St Louis, people know what happens when social mobility stalls, when lines harden around race and class. They know that if you have a job and work hard, you should be able to do more than survive. They know that every person, every profession, is worthy of dignity and respect.

    St Louis is no longer a city where you come to be somebody. But you might leave it a better person.

    It’s that little bit about doing a lot with little that, I think, is most applicable to today’s activists in the city, and elsewhere.

    The policing of black bodies: Racial profiling for profit and the killing of Ferguson’s Mike Brown

    More than six months after Michael Brown was killed by Officer Darren Wilson, the youth-led protests in Ferguson continue to fuel a national movement against police brutality.

    “Part of the struggle for us in Ferguson is to break a four-hundred-year belief that black people are not human,” says St. Louis native and activist Rev. Osagyefo Sekou.

    After the Department of Justice released a blistering report finding systematic racism and prejudice against blacks in the Ferguson Police Department, protests continued, the police chief and several Ferguson officials resigned, and two police officers were injured in a shooting.

    This problem, however, is not unique to Ferguson. St. Louis County is made of around 90 municipalities, each with their own police departments and courts. Residents report similar discriminatory treatment at the hands of law enforcement. And with so many different jurisdictions, a small infraction like an expired license plate can turn into dozens of fines and eventually warrants. Those in St. Louis who live below the poverty line are faced with the reality of buying food or paying fines.

    In the Fusion documentary Ferguson: A Report from Occupied Territory, we turn to the residents of St. Louis County to tell us what it’s like to be racially profiled and under siege.

    The video is at the link, worth a watch.

    General police misbehaviour: Fire Marshall Brilliantly Shuts Down Cop Who Attempts To Violate His Rights.

    The 30 Year-Old Nigerian Mobile Phone Entrepreneur Who Is Challenging Apple In Africa

    Michael Akindele, a 30 year-old Nigerian, is a director and a co-founder of SOLO Phone, an experience-driven digital content and smartphone company focused on delivering the best content and services on the mobile platform to African consumers.

    SOLO Phone, which was established in Nigeria in 2012, is an experience-driven mobile device manufacturer which aims to provide the best content and services to the African consumer at an affordable price. The company manufactures smartphones priced at $150, bundled with free music of up to 20 million songs licensed from Sony, Universal and Warner. SOLO also recently launched a Video-On-Demand App available to all Android devices in Nigeria which offers the latest Nollywood and Hollywood movies from global movie studios.

    I recently had a chat with Akindele where he recounted his entrepreneurial journey and explained why he feels SOLO phones will give other smartphones a run for their money. […]

    Walk me through your entrepreneurial journey so far. I know you worked as a Core Analyst at Accenture in the U.S, and then you returned to Nigeria to help produce the African edition of The Apprentice reality TV show. You were also involved in an animation studio before SOLO. Tell me about it.

    While developing The Apprentice Africa, I gained hands on experience on producing TV content for the African market. I recognized the gaps and immediately started developing original content inspired by African culture, music and folklore. I recognized the media market was populated by an influx of content from Western markets with little commercial opportunities left for local content producers. We successfully produced a pilot for an original 3-D animated series titled The O Twins. However,we quickly learned the market for content distribution was very shallow. Outside of the cable TV market there is little to no room left for original content production. The cable TV market is limited to affluent consumers who can afford televisions at home. However, the majority of African consumers are unable to afford this luxury. This presented a challenge I was willing to take on. I knew if someone was able to successfully solve that problem it would create tremendous opportunities not only for the distributors but also for creative professionals across the continent. Today Sub-Saharan Africa is among the world’s fastest growing mobile market in the world, and is the biggest after Asia. The introduction of affordable smartphones, specifically designed for the African market, has improved the market scenario. Mobile broadband connections are now anticipated to quadruple from its 2012 figure to reach 160 million in 2016. This uptrend reflects the gradual change in consumer habits, as they gain their first Internet experience through a mobile device. This is the future of content distribution and value added services. […]

    There are so many Smartphones in the market already. What is Solo doing differently from the others?

    Companies simply compete today in the Smartphone market on hardware specifications. Prior to 2005, no one saw Apple coming. Today Apple consumes over 90% of the profit in the Smartphone market. However, to the average emerging market and African consumer an Apple device is out of reach due to its high cost. The emergence of an open OS driven by Google had brought commoditization to the mobile hardware market. SOLO is an emerging markets play. SOLO is an experience driven device manufacturer with a vision to provide the best content and services to the African and emerging markets consumer at an affordable price that not only delivers tremendous value for money but also enriches their lives. The foundation of SOLO is built on delivering key value added services in critical enterprise verticals such as education, healthcare and commerce, to mention a few. Today, SOLO offers affordable smartphones bundled with free music up to 20 million songs licensed from Sony, Universal and Warner. This innovation was possible because of partners that believe in the SOLO vision. We also recently launched a Video-On-Demand App available to all Android devices in Nigeria offering the latest Nollywood and Hollywood movies from global movie studios such as Disney, Universal Studios and Sony Pictures. Our go to market strategy was to offer download powered by SOLO HotSpots. This innovation offers consumers to download movies in 3 – 5 minutes. This by far is the best offering in today’s market populated by streaming services where data costs are still extremely high. SOLO innovates by putting the consumer first and that is the premise SOLO was founded on. […]

    Are your phones manufactured here in Africa or is manufacturing outsourced to China?

    The economics for manufacturing our devices today in Africa isn’t possible yet. Today we produce our devices in Asia. In the mid-to-long term we will explore the possibilities of manufacturing our devices locally in Africa.

    I read somewhere that SOLO phones offer owners free access to millions of songs from international, African and Nigerian songs. What are the details of your licensing agreements with the record labels and musicians?

    Our commercial engagement with the music labels is confidential. However, we structured our agreement with the music labels to benefit local artists and content producers. Today SOLO Music compensates local music artists and their management companies with an opportunity to generate additional income based on music consumption through SOLO Music thus providing artists an opportunity to promote their music through SOLO Music to increase their earnings potential.

    This and that more at the link.

    Exclusive: TSA’s Secret Behavior Checklist to Spot Terrorists – going to put it here as tangentially related. Here’s more on the list:

    The document listing the criteria, known as the “Spot Referral Report,” is not classified, but it has been closely held by TSA and has not been previously released. A copy was provided to The Intercept by a source concerned about the quality of the program.

    The checklist ranges from the mind-numbingly obvious, like “appears to be in disguise,” which is worth three points, to the downright dubious, like a bobbing Adam’s apple. Many indicators, like “trembling” and “arriving late for flight,” appear to confirm allegations that the program picks out signs and emotions that are common to many people who fly. […]

    Since its introduction in 2007, the SPOT program has attracted controversy for the lack of science supporting it. In 2013, the Government Accountability Office found that there was no evidence to back up the idea that “behavioral indicators … can be used to identify persons who may pose a risk to aviation security.” After analyzing hundreds of scientific studies, the GAO concluded that “the human ability to accurately identify deceptive behavior based on behavioral indicators is the same as or slightly better than chance.”

    The inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security found in 2013 that TSA had failed to evaluate SPOT, and “cannot ensure that passengers at United States airports are screened objectively, show that the program is cost-effective, or reasonably justify the program’s expansion.”

    Despite those concerns, TSA has trained and deployed thousands of Behavior Detection Officers, and the program has cost more than $900 million since it began in 2007, according to the GAO.

    The 92-point checklist listed in the “Spot Referral Report” is divided into various categories with a point score for each. Those categories include a preliminary “observation and behavior analysis,” and then those passengers pulled over for additional inspection are scored based on two more categories: whether they have “unusual items,” like almanacs and “numerous prepaid calling cards or cell phones,” and a final category for “signs of deception,” which include “covers mouth with hand when speaking” and “fast eye blink rate.

    Points can also be deducted from someone’s score based on observations about the traveler that make him or her less likely, in TSA’s eyes, to be a terrorist. For example, “apparent” married couples, if both people are over 55, have two points deducted off their score. Women over the age of 55 have one pointed deducted; for men, the point deduction doesn’t come until they reach 65.

    Last week, the ACLU sued TSA to obtain records related to its behavior detection programs, alleging that they lead to racial profiling. The lawsuit is based on a Freedom of Information Act request the ACLU filed last November asking for numerous documents related to the program, including the scientific justification for the program, changes to the list of behavior indicators, materials used to train officers and screen passengers, and what happens to the information collected on travelers.

    So what I get from the list is, basically, that everyone can be a terrorist.

  74. Pteryxx says

    Al Jazeera last July: Survivors of infamous 1921 Tulsa race riots still hope for justice

    According to a 1921 New York Times article, Judge Loyal J. Martin, a former mayor of Tulsa who chaired the first race riot committee — the Tulsa City Commission — just days after the attack, said in a mass meeting that the city could redeem itself and move forward only “by complete restitution and rehabilitation of the destroyed black belt.”

    “The rest of the United States must know that the real citizenship of Tulsa weeps at this unspeakable crime and will make good the damage, so far as it can be done, to the last penny,” he said.

    But that never happened. Insurance companies denied claims from African-Americans, leaving them with nothing but the clothes on their backs, forced to start over or leave. Blacks tried to sue the city and state for damages but had their claims blocked or denied, according to the official report.

    On June 14, just two weeks after the riot, Mayor T.D. Evans addressed the commission, telling it that the incident was “inevitable” and that the victims “should receive such help as we can give them.”

    But then he said something else: “Let us immediately get to the outside fact that everything is quiet in our city, that this menace has been fully conquered, and that we are going on in a normal condition.”

    In other words: The city should move on. And for 90 years, that’s what happened.

    After an initial flurry of reports, with articles appearing as far away as the London Times, news of the “troubles” in Tulsa vanished.

    […]

    From the time of the riot, whole generations of Tulsans have grown up never hearing a word about the darkest moment in the city’s history.

    Damario Solomon-Simmons, an African-American attorney in Tulsa, is one of them.

    A native of North Tulsa, Solomon-Simmons attended Carver Middle School — on Greenwood Avenue — and still didn’t learn about Greenwood and the riots until he took an African-American studies course at the University of Oklahoma.

    All of it — the business district and the homes, the sudden destruction — left him flabbergasted. He argued with his professor, telling him, “You’re wrong! I’m from Tulsa, I’m from North Tulsa, I’ve never seen or heard of anything like that.’’

    Marc Carlson, a historian and archivist at the University of Tulsa who oversees the school’s race riot collection, said many of his students don’t know either, not even the ones from Tulsa.

    “I don’t know why that is,” he said, adding that the state Legislature requires schools to include the riot in their curriculum.

    Oddly, there is more awareness of the event in other countries than in the U.S.

    Michelle Place, executive director of the Tulsa Historical Society, said requests for information about the riot are the society’s No. 1 inquiry.

    “About a month ago I talked to someone in New Zealand. I’ve talked to Tokyo, I’ve talked to London,” said Place.

    She can understand why city leaders might be reluctant to put it in school textbooks. But why, she wondered, didn’t the tale survive orally?

    “The fact that it’s not just one of those things that we all knew took place,” she said and paused, “… takes my breath away, brings me up short.”

    […]

    After they lost their appeals, not much has happened in the way of paying the few remaining survivors. Old age and time has claimed the lives of many of them, and more die every year without any restitution.

    There are some efforts in Congress to try and help. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., introduces a bill every year on the floor of the House to remove the statute of limitations in the Greenwood case to allow the survivors’ lawsuit to go forward. But that bill — along with the one Conyers presents each year to study reparations for slavery — is not likely to ever get further than that introduction, especially in today’s divided Congress.

    “We thought we might live long enough to see something happen, but even though I’ve lived 99 years, nothing of that sort has actually happened,” Hooker said. “You keep hoping, you keep hope alive, so to speak.”

    After all, it did take 80 years before the survivors of the riot even got an official apology from the city of Tulsa. Mayor Kathy Taylor held a “celebration of conscience” and honored with a medal each of the survivors the city could contact.

    But Hooker,who was the first African American woman to serve in the Coast Guard and went on to earn a doctorate’s in psychology, remains optimistic.

    “We’ll just keep right on trying, never giving up. Never, never giving up.”

    Solomon-Simmons, on the other hand, isn’t nearly as hopeful.

    The collective failure to act, to pay the victims, to set up a scholarship fund or make a real attempt at restitution is a “stain on our nation,” he said.

    “And it’s sad to know that they’re probably all going to die without receiving anything,” he added. “Unfortunately, black life in America is still not worth that much.”

    The 2000 report on the Tulsa race riot, 188 pages, is available here from okhistory.org: PDF

  75. rq says

    Pteryxx
    Awesome, innit, how they’re considering reparations when many of the actual survivors are dead or dying of old age. How considerate.

    +++

    “@BlackFabulosity: Pen art is downright amazinggggggg. Portraits by Ghanaian artist @enBoski #africanart ” @deray #ART

    Racist Or Nah?? Rapper M.I.A. Says Oprah Accused Her Of Being A ‘Terrorist’

    M.I.A recently sat down with Rolling Stone to discuss the 10 year anniversary of her debut album. The controversial rapper shared an experience where she claims Oprah Winfrey called her a terrorist…

    Via The Grio reports:

    M.I.A. has never been one to bite her tongue and now she’s revealed in a new Rolling Stone interview that she had a rather icy encounter with Oprah Winfrey – which included being called a “terrorist.”

    The rapper recall meeting Oprah at Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World Gala in 2009, during which she tried to engage the media mogul in a discussion about the civil war in her native Sri Lanka.

    “‘Hey, people are gonna f—ing die in my country. Like, please pay attention,’” she recalled telling the talk show host. “And she was like, ‘You’re s–t because you were rude to Lady Gaga and I’m not talking to you. And I’m gonna interview Tom Cruise jumping on my sofa, so f–k off.’”

    She continues:

    She shut me down. She took that photo of me, but she was just like, ‘I can’t talk to you because you’re crazy and you’re a terrorist. And I’m like, ‘I’m not. I’m a Tamil and there are people dying in my country and you have to like look at it because you’re f—ing Oprah and every American told me you’re going to save the world.’

    M.I.A.’s interview is meant to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of her debut album “Arular.”

    Do you think Oprah really called M.I.A. a terrorist at the gala?? Read the entire interview HERE.

    Well, as they say, if you have to ask that question…

    ALEC is essentially the policy arm of white supremacy. Y’all, it’s scary how intentional white supremacy is. – what’s ALEC? This: How ALEC helps conservatives and businesses turn state election wins into new laws

    Republicans have long been viewed as more effective than Democrats in pushing their policy priorities in state legislatures. One reason why? A group called the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, that has helped push state-level conservative proposals. ALEC has helped develop and popularize a host of ideas designed to benefit businesses, as well as the Stand Your Ground bills that became so controversial after Trayvon Martin’s death — and it frequently manages to get its proposals enacted into law.

    This year, Republicans control 30 state legislatures, and control one chamber in 8 more. So it’s more important than ever to understand what ALEC actually is — and what it does.

    Essentially, ALEC is a group that helps craft and standardize various conservative and pro-business policies so they can be pushed in state legislatures across the country. It has facilitated collaboration among state legislators, businesses, and conservative think tanks and advocacy groups to craft many “model bills” — bills those legislators can then introduce in their home states, and perhaps get passed into law. In recent years, about 1,000 of ALEC’s model bills have been introduced to state legislatures across the country, and around 200 usually become law, the group has estimated. […]

    In recent years, about one quarter of US state legislators have been members of ALEC. But though the group advertises itself as a nonpartisan organization, all of its current officers and board members, and the vast majority of its dues-paying rank-and-file members, are Republican state legislators. While ALEC has been chaired by Democrats in the past, one of those former chairs, former Iowa representative Dolores Mertz, has since publicly blasted the group as overly partisan.

    The upshot of this is that the group is most influential and successful in states with Republican-controlled legislatures and governor’s mansions. ALEC doesn’t elect Republicans to legislatures, but it gives the party, businesses, and conservatives a menu of potential bills to choose from once the GOP does gain power. […]

    ALEC’s main focus is promoting pro-business and conservative economic policies. It’s organized into 9 main task forces run by state legislators that corporations or nonprofits can contribute to and participate in. Here are each of them, and examples of positions they back:

    Civil Justice (Tort reform)
    Commerce, Insurance, and Economic Development (Opposition to minimum wage increases, right to work, regulatory flexibility)
    Communications and Technology (Opposition to net neutrality, various other policies favored by large telecom companies)
    Education (School choice and education reform)
    Energy, Environment and Agriculture (Opposing EPA carbon regulations, opposing state renewable energy mandates)
    Health and Human Services (Repealing Obamacare, block granting Medicaid)
    International Relations (Promoting free trade, supporting the Keystone XL pipeline)
    Tax and Fiscal Policy (tax cuts, overhauls to public employee pensions)
    Justice Performance Project (various changes to state bail programs, decriminalization)

    But ALEC has frequently been criticized for blurring the lines between bills intended to benefit business generally, and bills designed to help its particular corporate members. […]

    ALEC’s close ties to corporations and the economic policies it’s pushed have been the source of some controversy. But the group was co-founded by social conservative activist Paul Weyrich, and it has also promoted model bills on gun rights, voter ID, and immigration that have been at the center of some of the biggest state controversies of the past few years. For instance:

    Months before Arizona’s legislature passed a tough anti-illegal immigration law in 2010, its lead sponsor introduced the bill at an ALEC meeting, and the group’s Public Safety and Elections Task Force adopted it. The meeting included officials from the Corrections Corporation of America, which expected to benefit financially from increased detention of immigrants, according to NPR’s Laura Sullivan.
    ALEC has drafted and pushed voter ID laws, which critics say make voting more burdensome for minorities, the poor, and the elderly.
    After Florida legislators passed the nation’s first “Stand Your Ground” law in 2005, ALEC collaborated with the NRA to promote the law nationwide. Since 2005, more than 30 states have enacted some version of Stand Your Ground, according to the Washington Post.

    In 2012, the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin brought nationwide attention to Stand Your Ground laws — and ALEC’s role in promoting them came under scrutiny. Liberal groups like Color of Change campaigned to get corporations to pull their funding from ALEC — focusing on both Stand Your Ground and voter ID — and leaks of documents from the group that had begun the previous year, to progressive organizations like the Center for Media and Democracy, continued.

    The ensuing controversy severely hurt ALEC. Its various corporate funders, and its few conservative Democrat members, had joined the group for economic and business issues, not to get tarred with hot-button national controversies. According to internal documents obtained by the Guardian’s Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, ALEC lost nearly 400 state legislators and 64 corporate members between 2011 and 2013. The Center for Media and Democracy lists many companies that have reportedly cut ties to the group — including Amazon, General Electric, Pepsi, McDonald’s, Merck, General Motors, Microsoft, and Walgreens.

    In an apparent attempt to stop the bleeding, ALEC shut down its “Public Safety and Elections Task Force” — responsible for the guns, voter ID, and immigration model bills — and announced that it would refocus on economic issues.

    The bulk of ALEC’s funding (around $8 million a year) comes from corporations, trade associations, or conservative foundations. Hundreds of corporations and trade groups have had varying levels of involvement with ALEC over the years. The group’s Private Enterprise Advisory Council currently includes representatives from ExxonMobil, PhRMA, AT&T, UPS, State Farm Insurance, Altria (formerly Philip Morris), and the American Bail Coalition.

    Koch Industries has also been a key funder. When ALEC faced funding troubles and nearly went defunct in the mid-1990s, the Kochs gave the group a $430,000 loan, according to Lisa Graves of the Center for Media and Democracy. Then, from 1999 through 2002, a Koch Industries official chaired ALEC’s private enterprise board, and he remains on that board today. Koch foundations have given ALEC hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years.

    In 2005, the Progressive Legislative Action Network (PLAN) was founded to provide a counterpart to ALEC. It was later renamed the Progressive States Network (PSN). But as of the latest fundraising figures, from 2012, it was nowhere in the same league as its conservative counterpart — ALEC raised 24 times as much money as PSN.

    In 2012, another group called the American Legislative and Issue Campaign Exchange (ALICE) was founded for the same purpose. In July 2014, PSN and ALICE announced they would merge and be led by former White House aide Nick Rathod.

    But after the Democrats’ resounding defeats in the 2014 midterms, it was apparently time for a rebranding. Politico’s Ken Vogel reported on November 9 that Rathod will found a new group called the State Innovation Exchange (SiX) to push progressive priorities in the states.

    SiX seems to have even broader ambitions than ALEC — Vogel writes that the group will also use “bare-knuckle tactics like opposition research and video tracking to derail Republicans and their initiatives.” Vogel also reported that Gara LaMarche (an operative who runs the Democracy Alliance that coordinates donations from wealthy liberals) emphasized in a recent email that it’s not DC, but “the rest of the country — the states where progressive power must be built and restored — that will be our primary and urgent focus.”

    For now, though, any liberal ALEC will face one key problem — after the 2014 elections, Democrats will only control the legislatures in 11 states. A think tank to write bills might be nice, but if Democrats want those bills to actually become law, they’ll have to figure out how to win some more state elections first.

    I skipped some section titles, but basically, ALEC is the religious fundamentalist, racist, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic, etc., force that moves Republicans. Or that’s what it sounds like to me. :/

    I fixed it @DailyMailCeleb – Headline #1: Idris Elba can’t be Bond because he isn’t English-English'(isn’t Bond Scottish?); Headline #2: Idris Elba can’t be Bond because he is Black. The second would be closer to what the article is actually trying to say, I bet.

  76. rq says

    Police representative says DOJ’s ‘band of marauders’ concealed truth about Ferguson shooting. Warning for Roorda ahead. (Can someone please take away his platform and give him a smaller one in a less populated space?)

    Jeff Roorda, the business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association, has stirred the pot before and didn’t hold back at the rally outside St. Louis Police headquarters.

    In a 10-minute speech, Roorda said the Department of Justice report that found systemic racism within Ferguson’s police and court operations was intended to distract from another report by the agency that found Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson was justified in using deadly force against Michael Brown.

    “(U.S. Attorney General) Eric Holder, who wanted with every fiber of his being to find some wrongdoing on the part of Darren Wilson, sics his justice department on St. Louis,” Roorda said. “They raid St. Louis like a band of marauders…

    “What do they find? They find that this hands up don’t shoot myth was just that — a fiction that was perpetrated upon the people of Ferguson, the people of Missouri and the people of the world,” he said.

    But instead of setting the record straight, Roorda said, Holder and his civil rights team “leak out the most damaging nuggets from this other report about this horrible practice of writing tickets.

    “Police departments writing tickets. Can you imagine?!?” Roorda asked mockingly, as a crowd of about 75 police supporters hooted in the background.

    “It’s a big lie and it was used to bury the truth about Darren Wilson and what happened that day on Aug. 9 in Ferguson and that was … a young black man made a terrible mistake,” he said. […]

    “We now pretend, ‘Oh, it was never about the shooting, it was about the mistreatment of people by the Ferguson police department,” Roorda said. “Give me a break. People weren’t marching in the streets saying ‘hands up, don’t write me a ticket and don’t arrest me when I don’t show up to court.’ They were saying, ‘hands up don’t shoot.'”

    In February, a melee broke out at a public meeting discussing civilian review of St. Louis police after Roorda wore an “I am Darren Wilson” bracelet. As a result, he was sidelined as spokesman for the union on that issue.

    Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, also at the rally, called on citizens to unite in support of police, who black and white have been shot in the line of duty.

    His comments were tempered from those he made earlier this month on the conservative news outlet Newsmax TV. In that interview, Kinder said President Barack Obama and Holder had joined in “incitement of the mob” and “encouraging disorder in Ferguson.” He later told the Associated Press that the justice department was “staffed with Marxists and black radicals” and responsible for “fanning the flames of racial division” in the wake of the Ferguson shooting.

    Roorda makes me physically ill.

    Charles Barkley Wants NCAA To Pull Final Four From Indiana Over Anti-Gay Bill. And yet he doesn’t believe racism is still a thing.

    Former NBA star Charles Barkley on Friday called for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to yank its March Madness Final Four tournament out of Indiana over a new law that protects business owners from being required to serve same-sex couples because of religious objections.

    “Discrimination in any form is unacceptable to me,” Barkley said in a statement released through his agent, as quoted by USA Today. “As long as anti-gay legislation exists in any state, I strongly believe big events such as the Final Four and Super Bowl should not be held in those states’ cities.”

    Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed the “religious freedom” bill into law Thursday.

    The NCAA has said that it will go forward with plans to hold the Final Four in Indianapolis, although it is “especially concerned” about the possible effects of the law on its student-athletes and employees.

    Here’s another rather belated acknowledgement of a terrible history: Confronting Past, Mississippi Town Erects Emmett Till Museum 60 Years After His Killing

    Six decades after the brutal slaying of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy, the small Mississippi Delta town where two white men were acquitted of his murder is dedicating a museum to the event credited with helping spark the U.S. civil rights movement.

    The opening in Sumner on Saturday of the Emmett Till Interpretive Center is timed to coincide with the reopening across the town square of the refurbished Tallahatchie County Courthouse, where an all-white jury set Roy Bryant and J.W. Milan free after deliberating for one hour.

    The museum’s exhibits detail the 1955 murder and key moments in the trial, which attracted wide attention at the time. […]

    Work on both projects in the struggling town of a few hundred people began after the Tallahatchie Board of Supervisors issued a formal apology over the Till affair in 2006. It also established the Emmett Till Memorial Commission to bring attention to a racially charged incident that had for decades gone mostly undiscussed locally, said commission co-chairman John Wilchie.

    “For a long time, the people in Tallahatchie County were afraid to even talk about it,” he said.

    A public ceremony to celebrate the twin projects was set to take place on the square, which looks much as it did when journalists from around the world descended on it 60 years ago, and will feature speeches from Mississippi political leaders along with musical performances.

    Museum director Patrick Weems said his facility, which features the only publicly available library in town, together with the restoration of the courthouse, has helped foster a long overdue sense of racial reconciliation in the area.

    Coinciding with the renovation of several buildings on the square, along with the opening of an art gallery and a restaurant, the projects have also helped rejuvenate Sumner, he said.

    THEY ONLY APOLOGIZED IN 2006!!!

    Religious freedom? Remember, these folk were just “practicing their religious freedom” to intimidate, maim, and murder black folk. Religious freedom.

    Harrassment in social media. #TwitterFail: Twitter’s Refusal to Handle Online Stalkers, Abusers, and Haters

    I’ve done all the things you’re supposed to do when dealing with assholes on the Internet—all the victim-blaming advice that Twitter has to offer.

    I didn’t respond to Assholster. I’ve blocked at least a thousand of his accounts over the past two years. I’ve reported him using Twitter’s “Report Abuse” form. I briefly considered calling the police, but, really, what would be the point? I’ve seen how police treat stalking victims and victims of online harassment far more severe than mine. What did I expect them to do? “That anonymous Internet troll is saying shitty things about me on the Internet. Seize him!”

    Nothing worked and the harassment got worse.

    His messages to me have grown increasingly personal. He uses my full name in his tweets—creepy. He mocks my medical condition, claiming that I have a fake brain tumor—idiotic. He says that I’m pretending to be Black—what does that even mean?

    And when he’s not playing the victim, ironically complaining that I am the one harassing him, or that I am bigoted against him, or that I’m to blame for getting his multiple hate-speech accounts suspended, he is ranting and raving about k*kes and n*gg*rs.

    I’ve endured this for two years, and so have countless others. He creates hundreds of accounts to tweet his inane ramblings to my friends, online acquaintances, and even my work. He latches on to any tweet of mine and harasses anyone that I interact with.

    It got to the point where I began to feel responsible for subjecting my friends to his invective.

    But why should I feel responsible? It’s not my responsibility; it’s Twitter’s.

    Twitter, Can You Hear Me?

    After two years of blocking and reporting Assholster, I decided on a more direct approach. I began taking screenshots of the harassment and tweeting them to both Dick Costolo, the CEO of Twitter, and to Twitter Support. I also started hash-tagging my tweets “#Assholster.”

    I knew that by doing this, the harassment would likely escalate—and it did—but I thought if I could make Mr. Costolo or anyone who works at Twitter Support or Safety hear me—if I could make them see exactly what it is that I endure on a daily basis—then maybe Twitter would do something.

    So, every time Assholster tweeted me, I would tweet some variation of the following.

    “Assholster Account Number 1 for the day”
    “Assholster Account Number 2 for the day”
    “Assholster Account Number 3 for the day”
    “Assholster Account Number 4 for the day”
    “Assholster Account Number 5 for the day”

    And I would include a screenshot.

    After several days of this, Costolo finally responded: “we are on this in a couple different ways. I’d prefer to leave it at that here. Thanks very much.”

    Well that’s nice, Mr. Costolo, but I’d prefer to not have this asshole calling me “n*gg*r” day in and day out. And I’d also prefer a little transparency when it comes to whatever it is you folks at Twitter are doing about serial harassers. […]

    Yes, it’s as pointless as it sounds because as anyone who has bothered to report an abusive tweet knows, the “Report Abusive User” form is about as effective as your average YouTube commenter at a spelling bee.

    First, Twitter often takes days, weeks, or even months to respond to a report of abuse. Second, reporting an individual user for harassment is useless in cases where the abusive user’s account has already been suspended—and a new account created—by the time you complete the reporting process. In such cases, Twitter just shrugs its shoulders: Sorry. That account has been suspended. Nothing we can do.

    And even though Twitter expressly prohibits “Serial Accounts,” i.e., creating “multiple accounts for disruptive or abusive purposes,” Twitter has no way of preventing the Assholsters of the world from doing so.

    In fact, many serial harassers use scripts to create multiple new accounts automatically, which is why most of Assholster’s Twitter handles are simply a string of letters: @gndmxkll or @gnndcdm.

    Twitter doesn’t even bother to make sure that its users are following its own rules. […]

    While Twitter with its thousands of engineers has been unable or unwilling to develop solutions to the rampant racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-semitic, and transphobic harassment that its users suffer on a daily basis—solutions like those suggested by iOS developer Danilo Campos in a recent blog post entitled “The Least Twitter Could Do”—Jacob Hoffman-Andrews, a senior staff technologist at Electronic Frontier Foundation, recently stepped up.

    Last Monday, Hoffman-Andrews unveiled Block Together, a new app “intended to help cope with harassers and abusers on Twitter.” To say that the app has changed my Twitter life is to understate its significance to me.

    I am now able to control my Twitter experience in ways that before I could not. Block Together permits me to share my list of blocked users (over 5,000 users) with other Twitter users (and vice versa) so that I can avoid those users that people whom I trust have already deemed unworthy of my time.

    More importantly, however, the app permits me to automatically block accounts less than seven days old that tweet at me.

    I signed up for the app immediately, and for the past six days, I have had a reprieve from the constant barrage of racist and misogynist insults and slurs that had become a part of my daily Twitter experience.

    Block Together is currently the only app that permits users to control their own content. But another app is in the works: San Francisco-based developer Cori Johnson is working on Flaminga, an app that promises even more robust solutions to Twitter abuse than those currently offered by Block Together.

    So there you have it: Two developers are attacking Twitter’s abuse problem while Twitter twiddles its thumbs.

    Still, why is Twitter ignoring its users cries for help? Why has Twitter left the problem to its users to solve? […]

    To put it bluntly, Twitter is run primarily by white guys who are presumably straight. And because, for the most part, straight white guys don’t endure the same level of online harassment that women do, they simply cannot understand what it’s like to be on the receiving end of relentless abuse. After all, to paraphrase Louis C.K., you can’t even hurt a white man’s feelings.

    For women, the harassment on Twitter is often unbearable, and the facile response of those who are not subjected to regular harassment—and, indeed, the response of Twitter itself—is infuriating: “Don’t feed the trolls.” “Just block them.”

    But “just block them” is not a solution for those of us who are relentlessly assailed by Twitter users who have nothing better to do than to slap us in the face with their hate-filled filth, and who, upon account suspension, create new accounts in order to continue their campaign of harassment.

    Often, the best solution is to reduce Twitter activity or to quit the platform entirely. I know many women who have already done that. But that solution benefits neither the victims of harassment nor Twitter. If, as Twitter claims, its goal is to reach every person on the planet, then Twitter higher-ups are going to need to acknowledge that most of the people on the planet aren’t straight white dudes, and they’re going to need to come up with a way curb the abuse.

    Until that time, developers of apps like Block Together are stepping up to fill the void—a void that, thus far, Twitter refuses to fill itself.

    Relevant to Social Justice Warriors everywhere.

  77. rq says

    How slavery and coerced labor shaped global migration in 1858

    Where were people moving to 150 years ago? And what countries were they leaving? This French map (via Reddit user @midafternoonmap) displays the flow of hundreds of thousands of people who migrated in 1858 (hover over the map to zoom): […]

    The term “migrants,” here, is a little misleading. Africans brought to the Caribbean (and in even greater numbers to Madagascar and Mauritius) were trafficked slaves made to work on sugar plantations. (Importing slaves to the US had been illegal for 50 years.) Indian and Chinese migrants in the Caribbean were technically “indentured servants” — an alternative source of labor, especially in places where the slave trade was banned. But the working conditions of indentured servants and slaves were similar. And both were essentially coerced into migration.

    Forced migration mostly happened to nonwhites in 1858 — but not always. Remember that big band of British migrants to Australia? Some of them (the map doesn’t show how many) were prisoners being deported to the colony.

    People tend to think of immigration as a voluntary thing. But this map is a reminder of just how many people around the world are from a particular region because their ancestors were shipped there without having much say in the matter.

    How different would that map be without slavery and forced labour? And funnily enough, that pink line heading down from northern Europe to South America? Some of that was Latvians, too – as forced labour for the current German overlord of the era (1700s or so).

    Black Brunch today in two cities so far:
    Atlanta: Just to be clear…all those folks who left their tables and didn’t pay for their meal…that’s illegal….soo #BlackBrunchATL
    “You think people don’t hate you now?”- brunch attendee.You don’t begin to hate someone for interrupting your brunch. #BlackBrunchATL
    #BlackBrunchATL is a non-violent method of disrupting white spaces. Watch how people with privilege flee the weight of their apathy. Watch.
    “You’re making our guests uncomfortable”-waitress. Your silence is making our lives uncomfortable. Which side are you on? #BlackBrunchATL
    Tacoma: #blackbrunchtacoma

  78. rq says

    Here’s a re-read: [FERGUSON FORWARD]
    ‘When I close my eyes at night, I see people running from tear gas’
    .

    Relatedly, here’s a storify of the tweets from back in August. Why these threads even got started. August 9th – August 11th #Ferguson Coverage on Twitter.

    And this is… an interesting read. A black man goes off on a white woman who says she’s “frustrated” . Here’s the woman’s view:

    I’m sorry but I would like to challenge some of your Black male readers. I am a White female who is engaged to a Black male-good-looking, educated and loving. I just don’t understand a lot of Black female’s attitudes about our relationship. My man decided he wanted me because the pickings amongst Black women were slim to none. As he said they were either too fat, too loud, too mean, too argumentative, too needy, too materialistic or carrying too much excess baggage. Before I became engaged, whenever I went out I was constantly approached by Black men, willing to wine and dine me and give me the world. If Black women are so up in arms about us being with their men, why don’t they look at themselves and make some changes. I am tired of the dirty looks I get and snide remarks when we’re out in public. I would like to hear from some Black men about why we are so appealing and coveted by them. Bryant Gumbel just left his wife of 26 years for one of us Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, the model Tyson Beckford, Montell Williams, Quincy Jones, James Earl Jones, Harry Belafonte, Sydney Poitier, Kofi Anan, Cuba Gooding Jr., Don Cornelius, Berry Gordy, Billy Blanks, Larry Fishburne, Wesley Snipes… I could go on and on. But, right now, I’m a little angry and that is why I wrote this so hurriedly. Don’t be mad with us White women because so many of your men want us. Get your acts together and learn from us and we may lead you to treat your men better. If I’m wrong, Black men, let me know.

    A black man proceeded to tell her that she was wrong:

    I would like to respond to the letter written by A Disgusted White Girl. Let me start by saying that I am a 28-year old black man. I graduated from one of the most prestigious universities in Atlanta, Georgia with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Management. I have a good job at a major corporation and have recently purchased a house. So, I consider myself to be among the ranks of successful black men. I will not use my precious time to slander white people. I just want to set the record straight of why black men date white women. Back in the day, one of the biggest reasons why black men dated white women was because they were considered easy. The black girls in my neighborhood were raised in the church. They were very strict about when they lost their virginity and who they lost it to. Because of our impatience to wait, brothers would look for someone who would give it up easy without too much hassle. So, they turned to the white girls. Nowadays, in my opinion, a lot of brothers date white women because they are docile and easy to control. A lot of black men, because of insecurities, fears, and overall weaknesses, have become intimidated by the strength of our black women. We are afraid that our woman will be more successful than us, make more money than us, drive nicer cars and own bigger houses.

    Because of this fear, many black men look for a more docile woman. Someone we can control. I have talked to numerous black men and they continuously comment on how easy it is to control and walk over their white women. I just want to set the record straight. I want A Disgusted White Girl to know that not all successful black men date white women. Brothers like Ahmad Rashad, Denzel Washington, Michael Jordan, Morris Chestnut, Will Smith, Blair Underwood, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Samuel L. Jackson, and Chris Rock all married strong black women And, to flip the script, there are numerous white men, in and out of the spot light, who openly or secretly desire black women over white women. Ted Danson, Robert DeNiro, and David Bowie to name a few. I just don’t want a disgusted white girl to be misinformed Stop thinking that because you are white that you are some type of goddess. Remember, when black Egyptian Queens like Hatsepshut and Nitorcris were ruling Dynasties and armies of men in Egypt, you were over in the caves of Europe eating raw meat and beating each other over the head with clubs.

    Read your history! It was the black woman that taught you how to cook and season your food. It was the black woman that taught you how to raise your children. It was black women who were breast feeding and raising your babies during slavery. It is the black woman that had to endure watching their fathers, husbands, and children beaten, killed, and thrown in jail. Black women were born with two strikes against them: being black and being a woman. And, through all this, Still They Rise! It is because of the black women’s strength, elegance, power, love and beauty that I could> never> date anyone except my black Queen. It is not just the outer beauty that captivates and draws me to them. It is not the fact that they come in all shapes, sizes, colors and shades that I love them. Their inner beauty is what I find most appealing about black women. Their strong spirit, loving and nurturing souls, their integrity, their ability to overcome great obstacles, their willingness to stand for what they believe in, and their determination to succeed and reach their highest potential while enduring great pain and suffering is why I have fallen in love with black women. I honestly believe that your anger is geared more toward jealousy and envy more so than snotty looks. If this were not so, then why do you continuously go to tanning salons to darken your skin? If you are so proud to be white, then why don’t you just be happy with your pale skin? Why do you continue to inject your lips, hips, and breasts with unnatural and dangerous substances so you can look fuller and more voluptuous? I think that your anger is really a result of you wanting to have what the black woman has.

    Not saying everything said is 100% true, because obviously black women are also not monolith, but – seriously? This is the kind of strongly positive, fierce and respectful defense black women rarely receive, and it deserves to be repeated.

    Checked out #BlackBrunchATL. Interesting how whites who have “Christian” in their bios condemn a movement speaking out against oppression.

    @Deray’s “Black Wallstreet” and @IWashington’s “Blackness” Tweets Spark Massive, Midnight Debate. This was an interesting exchange, on blackness and identifying as black, in relation to white supremacy:

    [tweet] @deray I think that if we stop calling ourselves “black”, then other’s will be forced to relinquish their “white”, “red”, “brown” & “yellow”[/tweet]

    Unfortunately, Isaiah Washington’s response to Deray was isolated, retweeted out of context and, on the back of Raven-Symone’s gaffe’s and Common’s #NewBlack commentary, he was lumped in with them because he’s a Black celebrity. Unfair but this is what Twitter has become… *sigh*… Thankfully, Isaiah didn’t back down and things got better.

    [tweet]@deray I believe that we have the power to weaken white supremacy by refusing to utter the word “blackness” or “black” for the next 50 yrs[/tweet]

    […]

    [tweet] @deray A lot of our scholars (& Malcolm X), etc. insisted that we move from “black” to “African” because Black has no land, no language, etc [/tweet]

    […]

    [tweet] @IWashington @drgoddess @keenblackgirl @deray white supremacy is not about a ‘word’. It’s about people + power + systems & institutions [/tweet]

    […]

    [tweet] @IWashington @drgoddess @Tuniekc @keenblackgirl @deray @SoulRevision identifying as African instead of Black will not save us from WS. [/tweet]

    […]

    [tweet] @drgoddess my point to @IWashington is that it doesn’t matter how you self identify, white supremacy sees a Black man/woman. Always [/tweet]

    […]

    [tweet] @SoulRevision @drgoddess Operative word being “weakened” my young sister. Can we reject being “black” and hold on to our “blackness”?? [/tweet]

    […]

    [tweet] @drgoddess if anyone else is labeled by their country-why shouldn’t we? We are American.They want us to denote a different kind of American [/tweet]

    […]

    [tweet] Divesting myself from being called “Black” is NOT divesting myself from poor people of color or indigenous Africans. #ItsPanAfricanism y’all [/tweet]

    There’s more at the link, an interesting discussion that’s worth reading. It also probably makes more sense at the link, I tried to pull some of the points trying to be made.

    The Black Lives Matter reading list: Books to change the world – possibly a repost, but if so, then the reading list has no doubt been updated and expanded. :)

  79. rq says

    Please follow/share @RecallKnowles15 for information regarding the recall of mayor James Knowles in #ferguson #fegusonrecall @SouthardsArt
    They’re looking for signatures to recall the mayor. [/obvious] We need 2500 signatures to account for margin of error. #Ferguson #FergusonRecall

    Afeni Shakur Black Activist. Imprisoned while pregnant. Acted as her own defense attorney and was acquitted. With photos. Question – is Shakur a common last name? Been seeing it pop up a lot (relatively): Assata, Tupac, now Afeni…? [/interesting]

    And this makes me smile: Box Office: ‘Home’ Trumps Expectations With $54 Million Debut

    Jeffrey Katzenberg must be breathing a huge sigh of relief after the embattled DreamWorks Animation chief scored a much needed box office win with the release of “Home.”

    The family film was the weekend’s top ticket seller, pulling in a sterling $54 million, easily eclipsing projections that had it bowing to between $30 million and $35 million. It’s one of the studio’s best-ever openings for an original movie and the biggest debut it has had since “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” kicked off to $60.3 million in 2012.

    The studio has suffered through a string of film flops such as “Turbo” and “Mr. Peabody and Sherman,” as well as failed sales to Hasbro and SoftBank. “Home” is the only film it is releasing this year, so expectations for the movie about an alien invasion were high and scrutiny was intense. “Home” cost $130 million to produce and launched in 3,708 locations. Fox distributed the picture.

    “You’ve got to give credit to the movie itself,” said Chris Aronson, Fox’s domestic distribution chief. “It’s an original story with heart and action and humor, all the elements that people want to be entertained.”

    The film’s success could be reflected in DreamWorks Animation’s stock price. Shares of the company closed Friday up 3% at $22.68 and continued to climb in after-hours trading on the strong box office results.

    Not so thrilled about the second-place movie, Get Hard (the prison one with Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart… I have doubts), but Home? What with having a little black girl as lead? Yes. :)

  80. rq says

    53 yrs ago today I was released from Parchman Penitentiary after being arrested in Jackson for using “white” restroom. That’s from John Lewis, yesterday.

    REPORT: New York City Television Stations Continue Disproportionate Coverage Of Black Crime – ah, so it was pointed out to them, and they still do it? Yup.

    Coverage Of Crimes Involving Black Suspects Was Substantially Higher Than Historical Arrest Rates From NYPD Statistics. In stories where race could be identified, the percentage of African-American suspects in murders, thefts, and assaults covered by WCBS, WNBC, WABC, and WNYW (Fox) was well above the percentage of African-American suspects who have been arrested for those crimes in New York City. According to averages of arrest statistics from the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for the past four years, African-American suspects were arrested in 54 percent of murders, 55 percent of thefts, and 49 percent of assaults. However, between August 18 and December 31, 2014, the suspects in the four stations’ coverage of murders were 74 percent African-American, the suspects in coverage of thefts were 84 percent African-American, and suspects in assaults were 73 percent African-American […]

    Portrayals Of African-Americans As Criminals Heighten White People’s Animosity Toward African-Americans. In the 2000 book The Black Image in the White Mind, professors Robert M. Entman and Andrew Rojecki analyze various forms of television programming to determine how the perception of African-Americans is affected by their portrayals on television. Chapter 5 of their book discusses how “local television news portrays Blacks in urban communities with a limited palate that paints a world apparently out of control and replete with danger.” They also write that the “accumulated impression from these images is that race alone suffices for comprehensive identification of criminals — that being African American is almost tantamount to guilt.” The authors later note (emphasis added):

    The racial stereotyping of Blacks encouraged by the images and implicit comparisons to Whites on local news reduces the latter’s empathy and heightens animosity, as demonstrated empirically by several experimental studies. To the extent local television news thereby undermines the fragile foundations of racial comity, it could reduce apparent and real responsiveness of White-dominated society to the needs of poor minorities, especially Blacks. The result, in turn, is continued employment discrimination and government unresponsiveness to the urban job loss and economic dislocation that has so traumatized the inner city — and consequent breeding of crime. [The Black Image in the White Mind, University of Chicago Press, 2000]

    And a note on the study:

    It should also be noted that during this period, there was continuing coverage of a white police officer who was involved in the death of Eric Garner, an African-American man. The data from that story was not included because Garner was not considered a suspect in any of the categories of crimes included in the report and because it was unclear from reporting whether the police officer was considered a suspect in a crime, according to NYPD classifications of suspects. Subsequently, during the period of this report, it was announced that the police officer would not be charged with a crime. In addition, an Asian police officer was involved in the death of Akai Gurley, an African-American man. Data from that story was also not included as it was unclear from reporting if the police officer was considered a suspect in a crime, according to NYPD classifications of suspects.

    Lots of graphs and studies at the link, it’s pretty incredible.

    And they’ve now made a “target practice” game where me, @stackizshort, and @bassem_masri are the targets. Yes! You can now play Ferguson Police Target Practice, featuring prominent Ferguson protestors. !!! This sounds familiar.

    A party at Phi Delt last week at UGA. Theme was dress like you don’t have a degree. #NotJustSAE #NotJustUVA . Guess what they’re wearing.

    A touch on Black Brunch in Atlanta: Flash mob protesters barge into Vinings restaurants, want diners to feel “uncomfortable”

    Members of #BlackBrunchATL descended on two restaurants in Vinings Jubilee, going after Paces & Vine, and Another Broken Egg Café, before moving to their next target.

    Each time, they shouted slogans at startled customers for several minutes, and always made an exit with enough time to outrun police when the restaurant managers called 911.

    Our cameras tried to catch up with the protesters, but they were too quick, eluding us at the sites of their first two demonstrations. However, the CBS46 crew searched the area and found them before they left Canoe, an elegant setting with low lights on the Chattahoochee River.

    “The idea for this is to go into places where people feel most comfortable and make them uncomfortable,” said protest organizer, Zakkiyya Anderson.

    One woman, who didn’t wish to be identified, said she was confused. She originally thought it was a restaurant-authorized announcement, like the fanfare that sometimes accompanies birthday cake deliveries. But when she saw the facial expressions on the wait staff, it dawned on her that this was not a planned event.

    Dave May described the commotion he saw from his table.

    “Well, it was quite unexpected, and it was loud,” said May.

    Richard Bryson said it happened so quickly, he didn’t understand what was going on.

    “I wasn’t really sure what the message was they were trying to convey,” said Bryson.

    The group is speaking against the shooting death of Nick Thomas in Smyrna on Monday. Police are calling it self-defense, claiming Thomas was getting ready to run them over with his car.

    Restaurant guest, David Cooper said, “I guess it’s cool to rally the troops for your cause, but if you’re going to come in, be nice enough to order something.”

    When we asked Anderson why she is demonstrating at restaurants and addressing patrons who don’t have anything to do with the shooting, she said, “They actually do, because if you’re not involving yourself in this movement or showing solidarity, you actually are part of the problem.”

    And here’s an opinion: So we trash @Starbucks for creating a neutral place for racial dialogue, but praise #BlackBrunchATL for soliciting/disrupting. Makes senses… Honestly? I wouldn’t say Starbucks as such is a neutral space for racial dialogue, not by a long shot.

  81. rq says

    Idaho Man Charged With Felony for Posting Non-Threatening Rant Against Cop on Facebook (Updated). He is white, so I don’t know if it will amount to much, but still… seriously?

    On February 2, Matthew Townsend was standing on the sidewalk near a Liberty Tax Service office in Meridian, Idaho dressed as the Grim Reaper, holding a sign that said “Taxes ≠ liberty, Taxes fund terrorism.”

    For this simple display of activism, which was a play off the usual characters dressed in Statue of Liberty costumers, Townsend would find himself arrested and jailed, charged with resisting and obstruction by a Meridian cop named Richard Brockbank.

    Seven weeks later, a day after attending a hearing for that arrest, Townsend was arrested a second time after police banged on his door at 10 p.m., rousing him from his sleep, charging him with witness intimidation over a Facebook post he had made two nights earlier that police described as a “terrorist threat.” [… you can read the facebook post at the link …]

    Meridian police and Ada County prosecutors had to find a second judge to sign the arrest warrant after a previous judge had refused to sign it for lack of probable cause.

    The identity of the judge who signed the warrant remains a mystery because the warrant was immediately sealed.

    Now Townsend is facing five years in prison for the witness intimidation charge in addition to the one year in jail for the obstructing charge. […]

    For threatening to use advertisements and a media campaign to shed light on his unlawful arrest, the Meridian PD and prosecutor’s office not only found a judge to issue an arrest warrant against Townsend for felony witness intimidation, they had the judge issue a no-contact order that forbids Townsend from coming within 100 feet of Officer Brockbank.

    I find it ironic that I was arrested in an effort to stop me from going to the public about Officer Brockbank and other officers at the Meridian Police Department concerning arresting me illegally… and I’m the one being charged with intimidation. It’s even more ironic that the second arrest helped bring this story to the attention of far more people than I could have done on my own.

    In order to persuade the second judge to sign the warrant, the Ada County District Attorney’s Office drafted a warrant that omitted the phrase “non violent and legal shaming” that Townsend had included in his Facebook post, but adding the word “rage” in quotations, even though he had not used that word once in the entire thread.

    Turns out he did have the word ‘rage’ but edited it out himself (because you can do that on FB now) and they used the unedited version for the warrant. They really tried hard for this one, didn’t they? If only they put so much effort into other things.

    The Racial Wealth Gap: Why A Typical White Household Has 16 Times The Wealth Of A Black One

    The typical black household now has just 6% of the wealth of the typical white household; the typical Latino household has just 8%, according to a recent study called The Racial Wealth Gap: Why Policy Matters, by Demos, a public policy organization promoting democracy and equality, and the Institute on Assets and Social Policy.

    In absolute terms, the median white household had $111,146 in wealth holdings in 2011, compared to $7,113 for the median black household and $8,348 for the median Latino household. (All figures come from the U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Income and Program Participation.)

    This is what is called the racial wealth gap.

    “Huge subsets of the population are excluded from accessing the avenues toward wealth,” says Catherine Ruetschlin, senior policy analyst for Demos and a co-author of the report, “and that is a problem for political stability. But it’s also a problem for economic stability. As we’ve seen in reports from big international finance organizations like the [International Monetary Fund] or World Economic Forum, increasing inequality is a source of increasing volatility, and wealth inequality means, when the economy hits a volatile patch, people don’t have the resources to withstand those shocks.” That, in turn, makes the economy more volatile, says Ruetschlin.

    While not every family can be expected to become wealthy in the jet-setting, Wolf-of-Wall-Street manner, every family needs some amount of wealth for economic security. The racial wealth gap means families of color may not be able to give young members of their households gifts to invest in their future, similar to what their white friends are likely to receive.

    (The study did not include households of other races or ethnic groups, such as Asian, Native American, Caribbean, Mexican, African, Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian, because the populations are too small to produce statistically significant results.)

    Federal policies also reinforce the wealth gap, as many of them largely result in increasing the wealth of those who already have it.

    The three main factors driving this disparity? Homeownership. Education. Labour markets.

    Oooh, is this progress I see? Ferguson Chief Takes Steps Urged in Report

    Addressing one of the Justice Department’s primary recommendations for the Police Department here, the new acting police chief said on Thursday that he was working to better integrate his officers with the community by putting them on more bike patrols and encouraging them to walk the beat and speak with residents. The efforts pushed by Chief Alan Eickhoff, who took his post a week ago, come even as he conceded that many of his officers were still worried about their safety as anger continues after a white Ferguson police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager last August.

    Safety concerns were stoked further after demonstrators recently set upon a black Ferguson officer who was responding to a disturbance at a local McDonald’s, yelling profane slurs at him and throwing plastic water bottles.

    “You can’t let a few people destroy what we’re trying to do,” Chief Eickhoff said. “I worry every night when I go home at night, am I going to get a phone call, two o’clock in the morning, one of my officers have been hurt, shot, killed?”

    Chief Eickhoff, 58, joined the department as the assistant chief only about five days before Michael Brown was killed by Officer Darren Wilson. He said he would apply for the permanent position as chief only if the City Council was pleased with his work and he was asked to apply. […]

    Chief Eickhoff said he was looking to expand the department from its 50 members to the 55-officer limit that the city allows. Four of the current officers are black, two are Hispanic, one is Asian and there are two women.

    Recruitment is difficult when there are episodes like what happened to the black officer at the McDonald’s, Chief Eickhoff said.

    “Here’s my African-American officer, who, like I always tell, could be my poster child,” he said. “Educated man, loves this department, loves this community, and he’s set upon and abused and assaulted by water bottles. Now I’m supposed to go out the next day and recruit African-American officers? And they’re like: ‘Wow, we’re being singled out. Why would I want to come here?’ ”

    Apparently there is more progress to come.

    Here’s a piece on religious freedom and discrimination – not directly relevant, but worth a read. Tim Cook: Pro-discrimination ‘religious freedom’ laws are dangerous

    America’s business community recognized a long time ago that discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business. At Apple, we are in business to empower and enrich our customers’ lives. We strive to do business in a way that is just and fair. That’s why, on behalf of Apple, I’m standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation — wherever it emerges. I’m writing in the hopes that many more will join this movement. From North Carolina to Nevada, these bills under consideration truly will hurt jobs, growth and the economic vibrancy of parts of the country where a 21st-century economy was once welcomed with open arms. […]

    Men and women have fought and died fighting to protect our country’s founding principles of freedom and equality. We owe it to them, to each other and to our future to continue to fight with our words and our actions to make sure we protect those ideals. The days of segregation and discrimination marked by “Whites Only” signs on shop doors, water fountains and restrooms must remain deep in our past. We must never return to any semblance of that time. America must be a land of opportunity for everyone.

    (How diverse is Apple, by the way?)

    He said he would immediately start to address some of the concerns and recommendations in the Justice Department report, which recommended diversifying the department, changing ticketing practices and training officers on how to use force more appropriately.

  82. rq says

    Fascinating that 2nd biggest police brutality settlement in Denver history awards Alex Landau $800K, but @DenverPolice sees no wrongdoing.

    Amadou Diallo’s murder led to songs like “Devils in a Blue Dress” and “41 Shots.” What music’s coming out of today’s movements? @deray

    Here’s some from the musical front: New Tupac Music and More From the Vaults to be Released Soon

    According to Billboard, the partnership marks the beginning of a “total reset of the Shakur estate,” says president of JAM Inc. Jeff Jampol. The company was brought in by Shakur’s mother, Afeni, back in 2013 and has given them access to all of her collection. The company has also worked on posthumous releases by the Doors, Otis Redding and more and has consulted with the Michael Jackson estate.

    The 20th anniversary of ‘Pac’s September 1996 death is this year, and Jampol says there are various things in the works, including new apparel, collections for museum display, and a biography done by a critically acclaimed writer.

    “Almost an embarrassment of riches,” Jampol says of the amount of his creative work left. “Unreleased music, released music, remixes, original demos, writings, scripts, plans, video treatments, [and] poems.” Despite the amount of Tupac albums that have dropped after his death, there is even more unreleased material in the vaults to put more out.

    “Some of [the material] is in bits and pieces, some of it is complete; some of it is good, some of it needs work,” says Tom Whalley, who signed ‘Pac to Internscope in 1991 and is working with Jampol on the project. “But I think the work that is left can be completed, and is worth his fans hearing.”

    And, Jay Z launches Tidal with support from stars

    Man, it’s a revolution! Take a look at the Twitter profiles of Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna and Coldplay and you’ll see that they’ve all turned their profile and header photos to the same shade of turquoise. What could this online movement be? Is this an LGBT rights protest? Is this a feminist campaign? Or maybe it’s something to do with police brutality?

    Then you realise – this group Twitter crusade is actually just a declaration of support for Jay Z’s new lossless streaming service Tidal, that prices subscriptions at $19.95 per month and launches in ten hours. Kanye West called for Twitter users to turn their profile blue to help support Jay Z, rapper and multi-millionaire. Some have already taken West’s advice and switched up their profile pics echoing an event called Air Max Day that took place last Thursday, when thousands of people across the world advertised for billion dollar corporation Nike, for free.

    Tidal is a service designed to rival Spotify. It promises high quality audio and video, with no ad-supported, free service. Madonna implored her fans to turn their profile blue with a reminder that “music makes the people come together”. Come on guys, “do it for the music”.

    Regarding Floyd Dent, in Detroit. And Detroit PD’s ability to keep a problematic employee employed. Why is Bill ‘Robocop’ Melendez still a police officer?

    On this past January 28, Floyd Dent, a grandfather and 37-year veteran employee of Ford Motor Company had absolutely no idea that he was about to encounter one of the most vicious, violent, and corrupt police officers in modern American history. In a matter of five minutes, Floyd Dent’s entire life would be turned upside down. Nearly choked to death, brutally punched full force in the head 16 times, and tasered over and over again, Floyd, a bloody mess, would soon be framed with the possession of crack cocaine—a drug he said he’s never touched and that tests in the hospital soon proved he hadn’t used. On top of that, he was charged with threatening and assaulting an officer and resisting arrest. The thing is, Floyd, now in the twilight of his life, was the wrong man to pull this on. He had never been in trouble a day in his life and what could easily stick to the stereotype of a younger man, just didn’t add up with Floyd.

    Once the world learned the identity of the officer who nearly killed Floyd, framed him for cocaine possession, and told lie after lie on the police report, it all made perfect sense. Bill Melendez is notorious in Detroit. In 2003, after a year-long joint investigation between the FBI and Detroit Police Department, Bill Melendez was indicted for corruption, falsifying police reports, and planting drugs/guns on suspects who had been illegally arrested. In the indictment, Melendez, nicknamed “Robocop” for his bodybuilding and excessive use of force, wasn’t listed as a bit player, but as the ringleader and driving force behind the corruption. Putting their own lives at risk, scores of witnesses, including several African-American police officers testified against Melendez, but the case crumbled with jury nullification.

    Twelve years ago, long before he nearly killed Floyd Dent, Officer Melendez had already cost the city millions of dollars in settlements and wracked up more brutality complaints than any other officer in all of Detroit. In 1996, Melendez shot and killed Lou Adkins, an unarmed man, who witnesses said was on the ground and posed no harm when Melendez shot him, execution style, 11 times. The city of Detroit paid $1 million to Adkins’s family in a wrongful-death suit, but Melendez kept his job. Complaint after complaint on Bill Melendez has been filed for illegally planting evidence.

    With all of these cases and complaints against Melendez, it’s the false report he filed and the dash cam that captured his brutality against Floyd Dent that will be his undoing. […]

    A judge has now dismissed the charges against Floyd Dent for threatening or assaulting an officer, because the evidence clearly doesn’t show that these things happened. If those charges have been dismissed, though, how can the brutality of Officer Melendez be justified?

    The jig is up, Robocop. The world knows that you are a domestic terrorist to people of color throughout Detroit. This will be your last case of brutality against an innocent man.

    In spite of being offered a bogus plea deal on the drug charge against him, Floyd Dent has bravely plead not guilty at great risk to his own future. We must support him in this endeavor and stand with him as he fights against a corrupt system and a corrupt officer who has harmed communities for far too long.

  83. Pteryxx says

    re John Lewis’s tweet: “53 yrs ago today I was released from Parchman Penitentiary after being arrested in Jackson for using “white” restroom.”

    That was actually on July 7, 2014, when these Morning in America threads weren’t yet running (because Mike Brown was still alive). Still, Rep. Lewis’s tweet went viral then and may as well go a second round. Here’s news coverage from the time:

    USA Today: Congressman’s civil rights-era mugshot goes viral on Twitter

    The Georgia Democrat tweeted his mugshot from the summer of 1961 when he was arrested as a Freedom Rider in Jackson, Miss., for using a whites-only restroom. Monday marks the 53rd anniversary of Lewis’ release after 37 days of imprisonment from what he called the Parchman Penitentiary. Mississippi’s state pentitentiary, known also as Parchman Farm, was notorious in the 1960s for trying to break the spirit of the Freedom Riders — the activists who rode buses throughout the South to challenge segregation.

    More than 21,000 people retweeted Lewis’ post and 13,000 labeled it a “favorite.”

    The congressman, who received a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his civil rights work, was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington. Lewis will forever be known for the violent beating he took leading marchers in 1965 from Selma to Montgomery on the day known as Bloody Sunday.

    Lewis told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he sent the tweet with his mugshot photo to “educate and inform people who were not even born 53 years ago.”

    From that Atlanta Journal-Constitution article:

    Lewis’ arrest came through his efforts as a Freedom Rider. Having already participated in several Nashville sit-ins as a Fisk University student, Lewis volunteered in 1961 to go on the Freedom Rides, a potentially dangerous mission to challenge segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South.

    On several occasions, the riders, including Lewis were harassed and beaten by angry mobs of whites. When he was arrested in May 24, 1961, he was sent to the notorious Parchman Penitentiary.

    “Parchman was one of the worst prisons in America,” Lewis said, adding that he somehow avoided being beaten and forced to do hard labor while in prison, although he was only permitted to shower once a week.

    Two years after his release, he was the youngest speaker at the March on Washington.

    and Vox linked to an 1973 interview that John Lewis gave for UNC’s Southern Oral History Program, which includes more about the Freedom Rides, his arrest and Parchman prison: (Vox link), full 1973 transcript (at UNC)

    Excerpt quoted by Vox:

    The moment we all started stepping off the van truck, walking to the gate through the gate that leads to maximum security, that’s where we were being placed. We had to walk right in and you had to take off all of your clothes. So all of us-seventy-five guys, black and white, because during that period you had students, professors, ministers coming in from all parts of the country to continue the Freedom Ride. And we stood there for at least two hours without and clothes and I just felt that it was an attempt to belittle and dehumanize you.

    Then they would take us in twos, two blacks and two whites—the segregation started all over again after we got inside the jail—to take a shower. While we were taking a shower, there was a guard standing there with a gun pointed on you while you showered. If you had a beard or a mustache, any hair, you had to shave your beard off, you had to shave your mustache off. After taking the showers in twos, you were placed in a cell and given a Mississippi undershirt and a pair of shorts.

    During our stay in Mississippi Penitentiary we didn’t have any visitors. We were able to write one person a letter. The second day Governor [unknown] came by with some state officials. We all got out within a forty-day period in order to appeal the charges.

    INTERVIEWERS:
    You were there for how long?

    JOHN LEWIS:
    I was there for thirty-seven days.

    and some more about the Freedom Ride activity that Lewis was arrested for, excerpted by me from the 1973 interview: (page numbers removed, ellipses in brackets are mine)

    When I left the seminary in ’61, I went on the Freedom Rides and this was my first time going into the state of Mississippi, late May, June of ’61. It was a terrible experience to come through Birmingham and Montgomery. I’ll never forget, a group of us seven blacks and three whites from the [unclear] university, colleges and universities in Nashville. After the CORE sponsored Freedom Rides, a group of us left on May 17, 1961, and took a Greyhound bus, a regular bus, to Birmingham. Before we arrived in the city of Birmingham, the bus was stopped outside the city and a member of the Birmingham Police Department [unclear] got on the bus and said, “Where are the Freedom Riders?” No one said anything. This member of the Police Department literally took over the bus by asking for the tickets and he looked at the tickets and saw that we all had tickets from Nashville, making a stop in Birmingham, Montgomery, Jackson, then on to New Orleans. He just literally identified us as being the Freedom Riders and he was really correct.

    When we arrived at the Birmingham bus station they took us off, placed us in protective custody and [unclear] and other members of the Birmingham Police Department and took us to the Birmingham City Jail. It was on a Wednesday. We stayed there Wednesday. We went on a hunger strike. We refused to eat anything, [unclear] Thursday and Friday morning about three o’clock in the morning Bull Connor and other members of the Birmingham Police Department and a reporter from the Birmingham News came up to the cell and said, “We are taking you back to the college campuses in Nashville.” But they took us to the Alabama-Tennessee state line, a little town called [unclear], Alabama or Tennessee, and left us there.

    […]

    We went back to Birmingham and stayed at the bus station from Friday night, [unclear] all night, and tried to get a bus to go from Birmingham to Montgomery. In the meantime, Attorney General Kennedy was negotiating with the Greyhound authorities, trying to get the bus moving. All of the drivers from the Greyhound Bus Company were refusing to drive the bus. We went out several times Friday night, at 8:30, 12:00, and 8:30 Saturday morning. We finally got a bus through from Birmingham and to Montgomery. And over the bus there was a small plane and every fifteen miles we would see state troopers from the state of Alabama.

    It was only about a hundred miles between Birmingham to Montgomery. And when we arrived about five or ten miles out, all signs of protection, plane, the state troopers. I have gone this way many, many times before riding the bus between Troy to Montgomery, Montgomery to Birmingham, Birmingham to Nashville to school for four years. When you got near the station you had this eerie feeling. It must have been about ten or ten-thirty on a Saturday and you didn’t see anything and all at once, when the bus pulled up and we started out of the bus, an angry mob of about a thousand people came toward the bus. And they first started reporters and then they started attacking us. Several of us were beaten and just left lying in the street. And there was one guy, that must have been the chief officer for the Alabama state troopers. This guy, I can’t think of his name but Newsweek or Time did a big story on him, and he literally saved the day. He kept people from literally being killed. He fired a gun to disperse the mob. We went from there to different homes in the city of Montgomery.

    Dr. King and Rev. Abernathy happened to be out of the city, they were speaking some place, and they heard about what had happened and they came back to Montgomery and planned for a big mass meeting in Montgomery on that Sunday.

  84. Pteryxx says

    further excerpt from John Lewis’s 1973 interview, just after he’s recounted being attacked on the bridge at Selma:

    INTERVIEWERS:
    Was that the most frightening moment you have ever had?

    JOHN LEWIS:
    Yes, without question. I think we were literally lucky, all of us, for no one to be seriously hurt or killed. You know, Sheriff Clark had a posse that he had organized. He had people with bullwhips, with ropes, running through the marchers on horses beating people. But people got together and I think that helped to electrify the black community in Selma and the whole area of Alabama. It had a tremendous impact on the country. People couldn’t believe that that could happen. And the response of people, particularly people who had supported SNCC and SCLC all across the country . . . a series of demonstrations took place, I think, by that Tuesday by friends of SNCC in different cities. There were about eighty sympathy marches. Protests had been organized; some people slipped into the Justice Department in Washington. The year that President Johnson served, his daughter couldn’t sleep because people had been singing, “We shall overcome,” all around the White House.

    INTERVIEWERS:
    That was eight years ago. Does it seem that long ago?

    JOHN LEWIS:
    No it doesn’t. On one hand it doesn’t; on the other, it seems like it has been a long, long time.

    INTERVIEWERS:
    Can you imagine anything like that occurring now?

    JOHN LEWIS:
    Today? No. It’s out of the question. I think it’s out of the question. I think it would be hard for anything like that to occur in the South. People don’t want to go back to that period.

    INTERVIEWERS:
    Both black and whites?

    JOHN LEWIS:
    Both blacks and whites.

  85. rq says

    One more: Murder has become the primary tactic of the police to deescalate black folk. To call the police may be to invite death.
    See this story: Knife-Wielding Woman Fatally Shot By Officers In Oxnard

    A preliminary investigation revealed a man called 911 to request the assistance of officers in a dispute between himself and his live-in girlfriend.

    When officers arrived to the scene, they heard screaming coming from inside the apartment.

    The man who reported the incident met the officer near the front door of the home.

    Seconds later, the woman approached both men with a knife and an officer-involved shooting occurred.

    Paramedics pronounced the woman dead at the scene. She was later identified as Meagan Hockaday, of Oxnard.

    And here: Woman Killed Officer-Involved Shooting In Oxnard Identified

    The incident happened at 1 a.m. Saturday on the 500 block of West Vineyard Avenue.

    Police Chief Jeri Williams said a man called 911 requesting police officers to respond to a domestic dispute he was having with Hockaday.

    “Domestic violence is one of the most challenging calls we go on. Quite frankly, in the city of Oxnard, we average 2,500 domestic violence calls a year,” Williams said.

    The first officer on scene heard screams coming from the apartment.

    Williams said the officer made contact with the man near the front door and within seconds Hockaday came at them with a knife.

    “The shooting took place in less 20 seconds from the time of the initial incident when the first officer initially made contact,” Williams said.

    Less than 20 seconds. Which isn’t a small amount of time, relaly, but it’s enough to have alternatives.
    One would think.

    Let’s see how liberal Daily Show fans really are when a Black host shows up – because: Trevor Noah will take over for Jon Stewart as ‘Daily Show’ host

    Just five months after joining Comedy Central’s Daily Show as a new cast member, 31-year-old Trevor Noah has been named the new host of the popular weeknight “news” show. The news comes just weeks after long-time host Jon Stewart announced he was stepping down from the show after 16 years. Comedy Central said Noah will take over the show “later this year.”

    I was rather hoping for Jessica Williams, but oh well.
    Via the NY Times: Trevor Noah to Succeed Jon Stewart on ‘The Daily Show’

    “I never thought I’d be more afraid of police in America than in South Africa,” he said with a smile. “It kind of makes me a little nostalgic for the old days, back home.”

    Now, after only three appearances on that Comedy Central show, Mr. Noah has gotten a huge and unexpected promotion. On Monday, Comedy Central will announce that Mr. Noah has been chosen as the new host of “The Daily Show,” succeeding Mr. Stewart after he steps down later this year.

    The network’s selection of Mr. Noah comes less than two months after Mr. Stewart, 52, revealed on Feb. 10 that he was leaving “The Daily Show” after a highly successful 16-year run that transformed the show into authoritative, satirical comedy on current events. (An exact timetable for Mr. Stewart’s departure has not been decided, Comedy Central said.)

    Mr. Noah, who spoke by phone from Dubai, where he is on a leg of a comedy tour, said he had been given a great opportunity, as well as a significant challenge.

    “You don’t believe it for the first few hours,” Mr. Noah said of learning about his new job. “You need a stiff drink, and then unfortunately you’re in a place where you can’t really get alcohol.”

    The appointment of Mr. Noah, a newcomer to American television, promises to add youthful vitality and international perspective to “The Daily Show.” It puts a nonwhite performer at the head of this flagship Comedy Central franchise, and one who comes with Mr. Stewart’s endorsement.

  86. rq says

    Via Mano Singham’s blog, here’s a good read: Sometimes, this is who we are:

    Tim Dowling captures something that had been vaguely bugging me for some time but that I could not quite put my finger on, and that is the way that some people in the US, when someone in their organization is exposed as doing something outrageous or criminal, are quick to say “This is not who we are”.

    This has become quite common as a way to avoid taking collective responsibility for a systemic problem. It is usually followed by the other cliché, that the wrong acts were the work of a ‘few bad apples’. The question that they should be asking themselves is what is wrong about our orchard that so many apples go bad?

    (Link to Dowling’s article here.)
    Applies to anytime anyone from an organization whose representative has made a mess of things says ‘This is not who we are’ – most directly applicable to the SAE fraternity, but also to other things, like police departments that insist there is no racism to be found within their ranks.

    Oh, and here’s a Toronto Star article about that movie I’m hesitant about: Will Ferrell fearlessly goes for the hard laughs

    But we’ve got to cut some slack for Ferrell, 47, because he’s been a very busy man of late. He hosted Celebrity Jeopardy! on last month’s Saturday Night Live 40th anniversary special, a show highlight, and recently did a charity gig — tweeted as #FerrellTakesTheField — in which he spring-trained as a rookie for 10 major-league baseball teams, raising nearly $1 million (U.S.) for cancer research.

    Now he’s pushing Get Hard, a film that seeks to tickle funny bones by making light of racism, prison rape and a straight male’s “gay panic.”

    Ferrell plays prison-bound California financier James King, sentenced to 10 years in San Quentin, who hires Kevin Hart’s Darnell Lewis to be his jail-life coach. King just assumes that family man Lewis is a convicted thug because Lewis is black, the same way King assumes his Latino groundskeepers don’t mind watching his nude morning exercises.

    The movie risks offence by boldly lampooning many hot-button social issues — reviews out of SXSW were decidedly mixed — but Ferrell insists comedy has to be fearless. [bolding mine]

    Take note: Ferrell is a Busy (White) Man and does Good Things. Does that mean I necessarily trust him with handling these difficult topics well? Not really. Is this a well-founded opinion? Perhaps not, but it’s mine.

  87. rq says

    The Beating of Floyd Dent

    Dent was describing what he experienced in a horrifically violent dashboard camera video that shows Inkster, Mich., police officers pulling him over, dragging him from his car, punching him 16 times in the head and tasing him three times, while he lay bloody and struggling on the ground, before arresting him.

    According to the website for a local NBC News affiliate: “Police said they first saw Dent’s car through binoculars while watching an area known to have drug activity. They followed Dent’s car and said he didn’t make a complete stop at a stop sign. Police said that when they turned on their flashing lights, Dent didn’t immediately pull over.”

    Furthermore: “Police said they ordered Dent to put his hands up, but they could only see one. Police said Dent yelled ‘I’ll kill you’ at the officers. Dent’s attorney, Greg Rohl, said there’s no audio of the alleged threat.”
    Photo

    Finally: “Police said Dent refused to put his hands behind his back. Dent said he thought he was being choked to death and tried to pull the officers’ arms away from his throat. One of the officers said Dent bit him on the arm, and that’s why he started punching Dent. Police said the force was needed to restrain Dent. The officer who said he was bit did not seek medical attention or photograph the bite marks.”

    According to The Free Press, “Police initially charged him with assault, resisting arrest and possession of cocaine, insisting they found cocaine beneath the passenger seat of his Cadillac. Dent says police planted the drugs at the time of his arrest. An Inkster district court judge, after reviewing the tape, tossed the assault and resisting charges, but Dent faces an April 1 hearing on the drug charge.” […]

    It should also be noted that, according to The Free Press, Melendez, who federal investigators in 2003 said “was known on the street as ‘Robocop,’ ” “has been involved in 12 lawsuits related to his conduct as an officer over the years, including similar allegations in a civil rights suit now pending in federal court.”

    Those lawsuits allege, “among other things, that he planted evidence, assaulted people in their homes, fabricated police reports and wrongly arrested people.”
    Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story
    Continue reading the main story

    Videos like the Dent footage further the perception, especially among African-Americans, that the police are more likely to use force — specifically deadly force — against blacks than whites.
    Continue reading the main story
    Recent Comments
    ken w
    9 hours ago

    Police brutality and their trampling on the Constitution happen everywhere both for blacks and whites. I have seen it. I think black America…
    Jack
    9 hours ago

    It has indeed been documented, as Blow notes, that police are more likely to use force against blacks than whites. The suggestion that this…
    NI
    9 hours ago

    12 lawsuits against Officer Melendez alleging he planted evidence, assaulting people in their homes, fabricated police reports and wrongful…

    See All Comments

    A December CBS News poll found that 84 percent of blacks and 33 percent of whites believe that the police in most communities are more likely to use deadly force against blacks. Just 2 percent of whites, and 0 percent of blacks, believe the police are more likely to use such force against whites.

    (Fifty-seven percent of whites and 10 percent of blacks said they thought race did not affect the use of deadly force.)

    And it is important to register where the most recent cases are centered.

    As Isabel Wilkerson, author of the monumental book “The Warmth of Other Suns,” put it in a January New York Times essay titled “When Will the North Face Its Racism?”: “High-profile cases of police brutality have recently come to be associated with the North rather than the South. And it is in the South that two recent cases of police shootings of unarmed black people resulted in more vigorous prosecution.”

    She concluded: “If the events of the last year have taught us anything, it is that, as much progress has been made over the generations, the challenges of color and tribe were not locked away in another century or confined to a single region but persist as a national problem and require the commitment of the entire nation to resolve.”

    23-Year-Old Homeless Man Stops Rape Attempt in DC , very short story.

    @deray Proud of my @USStudents family and my sisters on the frontline fighting to end school to prison pipeline #BLM

    A poem: Hurricane Katrina
    Hit New Orleans
    So black people had to leave
    They say we all Americans
    So why did the media call them
    Refugees

    Something to listen to: Sarah Kendzior: “This is an ordinary place with a series of ordinary problems, that unfortunately, are fairly severe… I think to have severe problems has now become an ordinary part of American life.”

    Writer Sarah Kendzior profiles the economic struggles ahead for the activists behind Ferguson’s protest movement, and explains how conflicting narratives about the story mirror persistent racial and class divisions.

    Sarah profiles the lives and work of activists in her article Fergson, Inc. for Politico.

    Audio at the link.

    Event: Join @sybrinafulton @nettaaaaaaaa @jelani9 & me at the University of Miami Wednesday 7pm for a convo on Race, Policing, & Social Justice.

  88. rq says

    Gosh sorry about that first blockquote previous comment. I swear I checked but I guess I forgot to remove the accidental highlighted sidebar bits that got stuck in there. :(

    Dear Racists: We Don’t Owe You Our Forgiveness

    Last week Levi Pettit, one of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon balladeers who was busted singing a rousing number about anti-black terrorism, held a press conference during which he made a public relations statement disguised as an apology.

    The sheer ridiculousness of the optics quickly made the spectacle go viral.

    Oklahoma state Sen. Anastasia Pittman, chair of the Oklahoma Black Caucus, smiled and, at times, held Pettit’s arm, while Oklahoma City clergy and civic leaders stood protectively behind him as alert as the Fruit of Islam. You would have thought Pettit had sent up a black bat signal: the silhouettes of the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson illuminating the night sky.
    […]

    Political analyst and cultural critic Earl Hutchinson took “myopic” black “detractors” to task for “lambasting” Pettit. Instead, Hutchinson feels that we should be applauding the lad.

    Pettit though doesn’t deserve condemnation, he deserves praise. He and his fraternity were booted from the university. His name and that of his family has been drug deep through the mud. He’ll remain for some time the poster boy for offensive and disgusting frat racial antics whenever some wayward fraternity inevitably engages in them. He could have stood on the prior statement of apology and regret that he issued after the tape went viral and set off a national howl. He could have easily melted into the student woodwork somewhere, completed his studies, and gone on about his business. But he didn’t. Instead, he went very public with his apology and pledge to action.

    Despite the lambaste of him and the racial put downs and myopia of the detractors, this is an important step forward.

    Pettit did the right thing when he spoke out and so did the black leaders who stood behind him, encouraged and ultimately embraced him. For that, I applaud and will continue to applaud Pettit.

    Well, Hutchinson can applaud to his heart’s content. But this is exactly the same turn-the-other-cheek philosophy that has gotten us to 2015 with the rate of police killings of black Americans nearly the same as the rate of lynchings in the early decades of the 20th century.

    Jonathan Capehart also went on record as demanding that people accept Pettit’s apology with “open minds and open hearts,” a little over a week after his flimsy attempt to debunk the #BlackLivesMatter movement’s call to arms, “Hands up, don’t shoot.” Unfortunately, if he’s willing to cherry-pick a Department of Justice report to delegitimize a revolution sparked in response to the state-sanctioned killing of unarmed black people, then opening his heart to a bigot with a bare-bones apology is probably par for the course. […]

    Why on earth should we applaud clergy who stand behind a white man who sings about hanging “n–gers” from trees? What part of black liberation theology is that? When forgiveness is drenched in our blood, how do we win? How do our children win?

    We do not get gold stars or extra credit for forgiving those who hate us. Somebody lied. Our worth and our humanity shouldn’t be inexplicably tied to our capacity to forgive. And our response to prejudice and bigotry should not be a carefully modulated tone. There has to be room for black rage, black frustration and black discontent if we are ever going to move forward as a country. If white tears were going to work, this racism thing would have been fixed a long time ago.

    There is no need to play save-a-white-boy, not when our babies are being gunned down in the streets. We don’t have to join the chorus telling him, “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.” Pettit is going to be just fine.

    Black America’s emotional energy is better served making sure that we are, too.

    Chilling: Police killed more than twice as many people as reported by US government

    The first-ever attempt by US record-keepers to estimate the number of uncounted “law enforcement homicides” exposed previous official tallies as capturing less than half of the real picture. The new estimate – an average of 928 people killed by police annually over eight recent years, compared to 383 in published FBI data – amounted to a more glaring admission than ever before of the government’s failure to track how many people police kill.

    The revelation called into particular question the FBI practice of publishing annual totals of “justifiable homicides by law enforcement” – tallies that are widely cited in the media and elsewhere as the most accurate official count of police homicides.

    The new estimates added crucial framing to a criminal justice crisis in the US that was coming into sharp focus this week. A Justice Department report expected to be published on Wednesday exposed serial civil rights abuses by police in Ferguson, Missouri. On Monday, the president’s taskforce on policing issued recommendations for better data collection as part of a call for top-to-bottom criminal justice reform.

    “There was a great emphasis on the need to collect more data,” Barack Obama said after a meeting with the taskforce. “Right now, we do not have a good sense, and local communities do not have a good sense, of how frequently there may be interactions with police and community members that result in a death, result in a shooting.” […]

    The data underlying the FBI tally “is estimated to cover 46% of officer-involved homicides at best” for the years 2003-2009 and 2011, the BJS report concluded. But the published FBI tallies cover even fewer of the total deaths, closer to 41%, in part because the FBI publishes no data from Florida. A separate tally of “arrest-related deaths”, conducted by BJS itself, was slightly more accurate for the years in question, capturing 49% of law enforcement homicides, at best, the report found.

    The report estimated “an average of 928 law enforcement homicides per year” for the years in question, suggesting that the FBI’s published count of 414 such deaths in 2009, for example, might be 124% off, while its count of 347 such deaths in 2005 might be 167% off.

    “The point of this was to try to quantify the coverage error,” said Michael Planty, an author of the report.

    The years under study saw several high-profile homicides by law enforcement of unarmed civilians, such as the 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant in a train station in Oakland, California – an episode that would become the subject of the award-winning film Fruitvale Station – and the 2006 killing of Sean Bell, who died in a hail of 50 bullets outside a nightclub in Queens, New York.

    But the majority of victims in law enforcement homicides for those years not only went unnamed – they went uncounted in any one tally. Even the two counting systems combined, as overseen by the FBI and BJS, missed an average of 263 homicides by law enforcement each year, BJS found. […]

    The deaths referred to as “law enforcement homicides” in the BJS report and what the FBI calls “justifiable homicides by law enforcement” are roughly equivalent, Planty and a second senior BJS official told the Guardian, in part because nearly all homicides by police, if adjudicated at all, are deemed “justifiable”, meaning not criminal.

    “The homicides that were not justifiable, where a law enforcement officer is found guilty of homicide, there’s no way to identify that,” said Planty. “But from what we know, that number is relatively low.”

    The scathing take on the FBI numbers came about as a result of an attempt by statisticians within BJS to evaluate what was worth salvaging in the bureau’s arrest-related deaths program.

    The program was mothballed in March of last year, based on BJS’s own judgment of its shortcomings, but it may be resurrected with the renewal by Congress last December of the Deaths in Custody Reporting Act of 2000, designed primarily to count deaths in prisons and jails. [..]

    While the FBI and other government tallies have long been criticized for underreporting, an admission of the problem at the top levels of US government is swiftly emerging. Joining Comey and Obama this year has been the outgoing attorney general, Eric Holder, who in January called the government’s accounting for use of force “unacceptable”.

    In a highly anticipated investigation of its own, Holder’s Justice Department was expected to report on Wednesday that African Americans were subject to a full 88% of use-of-force cases actually documented by the police in Ferguson, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the department’s findings. In a separate report also expected as soon as Wednesday, the Justice Department was expected to clear the officer, Darren Wilson, who shot and killed an unarmed teenager there seven months ago.

    Quick comment on the new music streaming platform mentioned yesterday: The police are out here killing us like it’s real-life Nintendo Duck Hunt and they want us to come together around a more expensive spotify?
    But I wish you the best Jay w/ #TidalForAll. I’ll remain a fan, not a subscriber. And thanks for helping w/ those I Can’t Breathe shirts.

    These aren’t isolated incidents – they’re not even unique incidents to the cops who commit them. They all seem to have a history of being inappropriate police officers: Cop Who Put Eric Garner in Choke Hold Is Being Sued for Allegedly Causing a Car Accident

    In his suit, Aguire claims that Pantaleo caused a car accident last June in Staten Island that left Aguirre with severe injuries. Aguirre said that Pantaleo was trailing behind him very closely and was speeding, which caused both of their cars to get into an accident. According to Aguirre’s suit, the accident left Aguirre with “severe and permanent” injuries on his neck, back, shoulder and knees. […]

    According to the Daily News, a police source gave a description of the car accident that differed from Aguire’s account. The source said that Pantaleo was driving a marked patrol car while responding to an emergency call, and it was Pantaleo’s car that was struck by another vehicle.

    Pantaleo is no stranger to lawsuits. According to the Daily News, at least four other New Yorkers have filed a lawsuit against the officer in previous years. Two New Yorkers won a $30,000 settlement after claiming that Pantaleo strip-searched them and slapped their testicles during a public stop.

    These cops sound expensive for the department to maintain. Wouldn’t it be more efficient…?

    Putting a name to the trigger finger: Smyrna Police say Sgt. Kenneth Owens is the officer who fatally shot Nick Thomas last week during arrest. #fox5atl

  89. rq says

    In Canada, spec. Toronto area: Family and Friends Worry About Missing York Student

    As she left her home on Friday, March 20, Amina Lawal told her mother she was headed for a meeting at York University, where she is a student at the Schulich School of Business. That was the last time Funmiloya Odusola saw or heard from her daughter. It was Lawal’s nineteenth birthday.

    Now Toronto police are appealing to the public for information on her whereabouts, and fear she may be in danger. […]

    Lawal lives with Odusola near Kingston Road and Beechgrove Drive in Scarborough. Police do not appear to have any leads as to where Lawal may have gone after leaving her home. Toronto police spokesperson Victor Kwong said that police are “totally dependent” on public and media assistance when someone goes missing.

    The press release of Lawal’s disappearance has been shared thousands of times over social media since its release yesterday. Dejoure Boland, who hung out with Lawal and played on the same sports teams throughout high school, is currently studying in Fort McMurray, Alberta, but learned of Lawal’s disappearance yesterday through Instagram. “I was completely shocked,” Boland said. “Her friends are calling her repeatedly, and the fact that she’s not answering is scaring us.” […]

    Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Amina Lawal is urged to contact Toronto police by phone at (416) 808-4300, anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477), or online at http://www.222tips.com. Police are also accepting information via text message (text TOR and your message to CRIMES [274-637]), and through Facebook.

    Any folks out there, please keep an eye out.

    A few recent gems from my hate mailbox… The n-word seems to dominate.

    18 yr old #ShenequeProctor found dead in cell morning after her arrest & plea for medical attention #HerDreamDeferred, will have to find more info on that.

    Civil Rights Action Filed On Behalf Of Journalists Arrested During Ferguson Protests

    Brought by German journalists Ansgar Graw, Frank Hermann and Lukas Hermsmeier, as well as The Intercept’s Ryan Devereaux, the suit accuses Ferguson police of battery, false arrest and unreasonable search and seizure.

    “This unlawful conduct was undertaken with the intention of obstructing, chilling, deterring, and retaliating against Plaintiffs for engaging in constitutionally-protected speech, newsgathering, and recording of police activities,” the complaint reads.

    The complaint details how Devereaux and Hermsmeier were shot at with rubber bullets by police officers after raising their hands in the air and clearly identifying themselves as members of the press. According to the document, Devereaux and Hermsmeier were then arrested, left hand-cuffed in plastic ties for several hours and charged with refusal to disperse.

    Graw and Herrmann were also charged with refusal to disperse and arrested while presenting their press badges. The suit claims that the officers purposefully tightened the journalists’ plastic ties in order to “inflict pain” on them. When Graw asked for an officer’s name, the man responded, “Donald Duck.”

    “This was a very new experience,” Graw said at the time. “I’ve been in several conflict zones: I was in the civil war regions in Georgia, the Gaza strip, illegally visited the Kaliningrad region when travel to the Soviet Union was still strictly prohibited for westerners, I’ve been in Iraq, Vietnam and in China, I’ve met Cuba dissidents. But to be arrested and yelled at and be rudely treated by police? For that I had to travel to Ferguson and St. Louis in the United States of America.”

    The suit asks for unspecified punitive damages.

    Back in Ferguson. Just some photos.

  90. rq says

    Interlude: TV Entertainment! “The Wiz” Will Be NBC’s Next Live Televised Musical

    “We love this yearly tradition and we’re more excited than ever to not only bring another Broadway musical to America’s living rooms, but also see it land on Broadway as well,” NBC Chairman Robert Greenblatt said in a statement. “It’s a natural next step for our live musical events … Cirque’s incredible imagination will help bring the fantasy world of Oz vividly to life and give this great show a modern spin on the age-old story we all love.”

    The Wiz, which originated as a Tony-award winning play in 1975 and was then adapted into a film in 1978, is about a girl living in Harlem named Dorothy. In the original movie version, she was played by Diana Ross, the Scarecrow was played by Michael Jackson, the Tin Man was played by Nipsey Russell, the Cowardly Lion was played by Ted Ross, and Glinda the Good Witch was played by Lena Horne.

    No cast members for NBC’s The Wiz Live! have been announced.

    That sounds pretty fun, though!

    .@deray Did you see this? Al Sharpton has issues w/ y’all but not an outright bigot like Ben Carson. h/t @ZaidJilani Very interesting, that.

    Ope, here he is again! Eric Garner chokehold cop is being sued AGAIN for causing ‘severe’ injuries to a motorist in Staten Island car crash. Includes a quick recap of other suits brought against Pantaleo.

    And there was the prison guard who had the inmates fight, gladiator style. Except there’s more to that, too. Deputy in inmate fights faced 2006 complaints

    Bullying behavior, offers of cheeseburgers for silence, threats of violence, rumors of other deputies knowing but doing nothing — the accusations in the 2006 sexual assault civil cases against San Francisco sheriff’s Deputy Scott Neu echo the allegations made Thursday by County Jail inmates who said the deputy forced them to fight each other for his entertainment.

    After three inmates in 2006 accused Neu of forcing them to perform sexual acts on him, the case was handled internally by other deputies, and apparently no criminal charges were presented to the district attorney’s office.

    Since those accusations, Neu has had four more lawsuits filed against him: one for a false arrest and three for excessive force. One excessive force lawsuit is still ongoing, according to the city attorney’s office.

    Despite all these reports of misconduct — and in the sexual assault case, criminal misconduct — Neu has kept his job with the Sheriff’s Department, in a position that allowed him to be in contact with inmates. […]

    In the sexual assault filings, three inmates — a woman and two transsexual men transitioning to women — said that in 2005 and 2006, Neu created a similar atmosphere through sexual harassment at the South of Market jail. He groped them and made lewd comments, forcing them to kiss him, show him their genitals and orally copulate him, they said in court documents. He kept them silent by threatening to beat them or send them to a jail with harsher conditions.

    One of the inmates, Sabrina Wigfall, said she told two other deputies on two separate occasions that Neu was sexually abusing her, but the deputies did nothing. The abuse continued until she told a third deputy, who alerted his supervisors.

    Another inmate, who identified then as DavidSpears, said after Neu’s harassment was reported to a deputy by another inmate, Neu confronted him in the law library.

    The other deputy had talked to Spears about the harassment, but when Neu asked him about it, Spears said he was scared and lied about what he told the other deputy. Neu brought Spears a cheeseburger and fries a few days later to ensure he stayed quiet.

    They go on to mention the second person – and suddenly I’m confused, because the article identifies and pronouns both as men, yet clearly states they were… transwomen? (Though I guess the phrase ‘transsexual men transitioning into women’ isn’t exactly clear or correct either?) Or am I missing something here? :( Way to report accurately. I mean, sexual abuse is sexual abuse, but it would be nice of them to get victim-related information right.

    Let’s blame some victims. America’s cops aren’t solving as many murders — here are some theories about why:

    NPR identified some potential causes for the depressing decline:

    – Standards for charging a suspect are higher now, maybe even too high, Vernon Gerberth, a retired “murder cop” for the NYPD told NPR.
    – People distrust the police and are less willing to help with cases, he said. Since the 1980s, police have complained about a growing “no-snitch” culture, especially in minority communities. [Lookit what happens when they call the police for help.]
    – Many unsolved cases also happen in these communities, making the people who live there more distrustful of police and less willing to cooperate. [No mention of why these communities might distrust the police, hmm? Also, is this a stab at black-on-black crime?]
    – The high crime rates in the ’80s shifted the focus to preventing, instead of solving, crimes.
    – Homicide investigations are expensive. Poor, minority communities, like Detroit, which has one of the highest murder rates in the country, usually can’t afford to lower investigators’ case loads.

    Profile of a wealthy black woman (positive reading): Why Sheryl Sandberg, Bill Bradley, and Oprah Love Mellody Hobson

    Hobson is the president of a well-respected Chicago money-management firm called Ariel Investments. She’s a board member at Estée Lauder, Starbucks (where she chairs the audit-and-compliance committee), and DreamWorks Animation (where she chairs the entire board). For many years she was a contributor to ABC’s Good Morning America; she now works for CBS News and is on the boards of too many philanthropic organizations to list. And while she’s not a household name—at least not yet—she is at the hub of an eclectic group of people who are.

    In June 2013, Hobson, who is 45, married George Lucas, the 70-year-old filmmaker who sold his company, Lucasfilm, to Walt Disney in 2012 for more than $4 billion. In August, the couple welcomed a daughter, Everest Hobson Lucas, who was born via gestational surrogate, to the world. (Lucas had adopted three children previously: Amanda, Kate, and Jett, all now young adults.) Last June, Lucas announced that the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which will showcase “moving images—from illustration to cinema to the digital media of the future,” would be built in Chicago. Although the project has faced controversy, with the Chicago Tribune comparing aspects of the design to Jabba the Hutt and Lucas now saying he may be forced to take it elsewhere, the potential change to the lakefront is a monument to Hobson’s influence—and that she can exert that kind of influence is no surprise to those who know her, including another longtime friend and fan, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. “On one level, it is shocking, it does surprise you, but then you know Mellody, and it’s not surprising at all,” he says.

    Because here’s the thing about Hobson’s remarkable life and all of this extravagant praise: it is earned. [As opposed to her being in that position without earning it – okay, so the article isn’t without its problematic issues!]
    […]

    Hobson’s commitment to work is one of her signature traits. “The one thing I knew I could do is outwork everyone,” she likes to say. A college roommate at Princeton, Ann Davis Vaughan, who is a former Wall Street Journal reporter and now runs her own research firm, says that she and her husband visited Hobson at her Chicago apartment on the day of her and Lucas’s wedding party. Hobson chatted with them for 45 minutes or so—and then excused herself to go to the office because she hadn’t yet finished Ariel’s quarterly letter to investors. “She literally went to the office on the afternoon of her own wedding party!” says Vaughan. […]

    If Hobson’s life seems ridiculously charmed, she wasn’t born in a place that made that inevitable, or even likely. She is the youngest child of a single mother, Dorothy Ashley, who had Mellody more than two decades after the birth of her first child. Hobson’s father was not present in her life. “Dorth,” as Hobson sometimes called her mother, was a hardworking entrepreneur who fixed up and rented out, and later sold, condominiums. (She passed away last year.) But she didn’t have a hard enough heart to be a good businesswoman. She couldn’t evict people who couldn’t pay their rent, recalls Hobson’s sister Pat Hamel. And when she began selling condos, she was often penalized by redlining. That, plus her own extravagance—both sisters recall their mother buying Easter dresses instead of paying the phone bill—resulted in frequent evictions and moves between Chicago’s relatively wealthier North Side and the grittier South Side, where they’d sometimes heat water for baths on hot plates. “Even though I will never be evicted again, I am haunted by those times and still work relentlessly,” Hobson wrote in her chapter in Sandberg’s Lean In for Graduates. “When I think of my career and why I leaned in, it comes down to basic survival.”

    Dorothy Ashley was a strange mixture of “brutal pragmatism and optimism,” says Hobson, who remembers returning at the age of seven from a birthday party where she was the only black child. “How did they treat you?” her mother asked. “Because they won’t always treat you well.” But her mother also instilled in her daughter both confidence and independence. “My mom would say, ‘You have a birthday party to go to? Well, you can’t go unless you’ve planned how to get there and how to get a present.’ She wouldn’t do that for me. I found my own orthodontist, my own high school. I set up interviews and did college trips. Despite her incredible concern and caring, my mom didn’t have the capacity for that. It was outside her experience, and she knew I was on top of it,” says Hobson.

    “Mellody made the decisions for her whole life,” says Hamel, who also remembers that her sister never got a spanking and that her family always believed she would be successful. “She knew what she wanted to do and how she wanted to do it.” Hamel also says that Hobson was “very, very thoughtful about her future and about the kind of people she allowed in her life.”

    In high school, at Chicago’s Saint Ignatius, Hobson recalls, she was a “joiner.” “I wasn’t with the cool kids, but I could be,” she says. “I was accepted.” Her friend Peter Thompson, a self-described jock whose grandfather is Richard J. Daley, the former longtime mayor of Chicago, says that, while Hobson was more of a nerd in school, he got to know her on a retreat. “What’s notable about Mellody is that she’s always one of the more earnest people in the room,” he says.

    Hobson does not try to hide the fact that she tries. Her fifth-grade teacher, Miss Falbo, would record weekly spelling tests by having students score their neighbor’s exam and read the grade aloud. “If everyone got 100 percent, then each person in the entire class would get two Girl Scout cookies,” Hobson remembers. “But if one person missed, there would be no cookies for anyone.” And the words were like “concatenation.” She pauses in her story to define the word for me: the linking of events in a chain. Then she recalls the moment Miss Falbo said, “ ‘Hobson, 90 percent.’ I missed a word. I’m mortified. I’m praying, I need someone else to miss or I’m toast at recess. They get to the last person [alphabetically], Adam Yaseen, and no one else has missed. Miss Falbo looks at me. ‘Hobson, I’m not going to punish the whole class because of your incompetence,’ she says. ‘You can step into the hallway while we enjoy our Girl Scout cookies.’ The door was 500 feet away, and I’m thinking to myself, Don’t cry, don’t cry. I’m looking into the room through the glass door at everyone eating their Girl Scout cookies, and I say to myself, ‘Never again. I will never, ever fail at something related to school ever again.’ It unleashed my obsession.”

    And you can read the rest at the link.

  91. rq says

    Had to visit Tamir today. RIP little dude.

    !!! Overwhelming response from Ferguson City Council Candidates to not disband the Ferguson Police Department #ulstl !!! In one sense I’m not surprised, but waiting for an article to appear to see their reasoning.

    Mumia has been in prison my entire life for a crime evidence suggests he did not commit, while Eric Garner’s killer is at home masturbating. I had to look it up: Mumia Abu-Jamal

    Mumia Abu-Jamal is:

    an internationally celebrated black writer and radio journalist

    author of six books and hundreds of columns and articles

    organizer and inspiration for the prison lawyers movement

    former member of the Black Panther Party and supporter of Philadelphia’s radical MOVE organization

    who has spent the last 30 years in prison, almost all of it in solitary confinement on Pennsylvania’s Death Row. […]

    Mumia Abu-Jamal was tried, convicted and sentenced to death in 1982 for the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, an incident which took place on December 9,1981.

    Since the trial

    For the next 30 years, Mumia was held in isolation on Death Row.

    He was kept there for over ten years even though a federal judge ordered his death sentence overturned in 2001.

    However, after losing numerous appeals of that order, the Philadelphia District Attorney on December 7, 2011 announced he was giving up his attempts to restore Mumia’s death sentence.

    Mumia remains in prison under a sentence of life without parole.

    Much more at the link, much, much more. (He is currently in hospital.)

    Gun culture is death culture. America’s Top Killing Machine (no, not the police or the justice system).

    Car crashes killed 33,561 people in 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Firearms killed 32,251 people in the United States in 2011, the most recent year for which the Centers for Disease Control has data.

    But this year gun deaths are expected to surpass car deaths. That’s according to a Center for American Progress report, which cites CDC data that shows guns will kill more Americans under 25 than cars in 2015. Already more than a quarter of the teenagers—15 years old and up—who die of injuries in the United States are killed in gun-related incidents, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. […]

    The number of fatalities on the roads in the United States has been going down for years as fewer young people drive, car safety technology improves, and even as gas prices climb. (Lower gas prices are correlated with more deaths. A $2 drop in gasoline is linked to some 9,000 additional road fatalities per year in the United States, NPR recently reported.) Though even as fatal transportation incidents dropped in 2013, they accounted for two in five fatalities in the workplace in the United States that year, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

    CDC data on firearms offers a more complicated picture, in part because of how the agency categorizes causes of death. Gun deaths can include suicides, homicides, accidental firearms discharges, and even legal killings—but the overall data picture is incomplete. Since 2008, some county-level deaths have been left out to avoid inadvertent privacy breaches. And the number of police shootings—including arrest-related deaths, which are recorded but not made public, according to The Washington Post—are notoriously evasive.

    The record of firearm deaths in the United States is murkier still because of how much is at stake politically. Firearm safety remains one of the most divisive issues in the country, with advocates on both sides cherry-picking data to support arguments about the extent to which gun regulation is necessary. It’s not even clear how many guns are out there in the first place, as the Pew Research Center pointed out in a 2013 study: “Respondent error or misstatement in surveys about gun ownership is a widely acknowledged concern of researchers. People may be reluctant to disclose ownership, especially if they are concerned that there may be future restrictions on gun possession or if they acquired their firearms illegally.”

    We do know American gun ownership far outstrips gun ownership in other countries. “With less than 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States is home to 35-50 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns,” according to the Small Arms Survey.

    And while the number of firearm homicides dropped dramatically over a 20-year period ending in 2011, the percentage of violent crimes involving firearms has stayed fairly constant, according to the 2013 survey. In other words, even when fewer people die from gun violence, violent crimes involving guns are still happening at the same rate. It’s also true that as the gun homicide rate has declined in the United States, suicides now account for the majority of gun deaths, according to Pew.

  92. rq says

    StL Argus August 28, 1925: “Tulsa Warmly Welcomes Negro Business League” Host most successful convention ever @deray. Headline declares no race friction in the city.

    I’ll admit, the first time I read this headline, I read ‘Australian dads’, but that’s my problem, not the headline’s. Also, the sample photo is beyond just white – for Australians, they’re not even tan. Why are Australian ads so white?

    When US writer and academic Roxane Gay visited our fair shores recently, she noticed a glaring difference between Australia and her own country- how much whiter our media is.

    “Commercials are not very diverse here. It makes US commercials look like the promised land,” she tweeted.

    Gay later expanded on ABC radio:

    “It seems as though people of colour are completely erased from commercials as if they’re not part of the consumer public,” she said. “And that’s troubling.”

    Given the US is still far from coming to terms with its own shocking racial history, and that much of the population remains indifferent to the way this history lives on in structural inequality, Gay’s assessment is pretty damning indeed. […]

    It’s tempting to dismiss the importance of racial diversity in advertising, not least because I am, like many others, generally suspicious of consumer capitalism. Like it or not, however, commercials do matter. As Gay implies, the exclusion of people of colour renders them so insignificant that advertisers need not bother acknowledging their existence at all.

    Given my scepticism towards the advertising industry and its motives, I’m weary of heaping too much praise when they do something nominally inclusive or progressive. But, having spent the last two years living between the US and Australia, there is no doubt Gay is right.

    Unlike in Australia, where, with a few exceptions, being white is equated with being True Blue, advertisements in the US, driven by big-name brands such Coca-Cola, Chevrolet and Banana Republic, are finally reflecting the country’s racial make-up. […]

    Indeed, despite its own deeply embedded racism, the US has something Australia sorely lacks, that is a level of acknowledgment of its own shortcomings and, in some quarters at least, a willingness to address them.

    The roundly ridiculed Starbucks “Race Together” campaign, for instance, which encouraged customers to discuss race with their barista has been fairly criticised as naïve, unfair on the baristas and hypocritical (there are very few non-white executives at Starbucks). Nonetheless, it is at the very least, a blatant admission that there is a problem.

    Of course, and here’s my scepticism again, sometimes it’s hard to discern whether this racial sensitivity on the part of America’s corporate advertisers stems from a genuine desire for inclusivity or for the purposes of generating controversy.

    Nonetheless, while certainly worthy of examination and criticism, at least these advertisements and initiatives exist. By contrast, the whiteness of Australian commercials is so thoroughly normalised that, as Celeste Liddle noted during that same radio interview with Gay, it often takes foreign observers to point it out.

    We need to step away from this tacit acceptance of the way things are. Normalisation is not synonymous with acceptability. The lack of racial diversity in our commercials only further entrenches the implicit assumption that whiteness is the central human condition. White people are the stand-ins that everyone else is expected to identify with, while every other race can only ever represent themselves.

    There are those who think simply talking about race is in itself racist, an attitude that is also pervasive in America. I can only marvel at such a comfortably cocooned perspective. How easy it is to dismiss the importance of race when you are accustomed to seeing your likeness reflected everywhere. These people are so conditioned to see whiteness as an absence of race, they cannot perceive of even mere requests for racial diversity as anything other than “playing the race card.”

    TW for suicide. If you remember, several months ago, a rather prominent figure in St Louis politics committed suicide – Tom Schweich, it was (don’t worry, I couldn’t remember at first, either!). Anyway, an odd coincidence: Tom Schweich spokesperson Spence Jackson found dead

    Multiple media outlets, including our partners at the St. Louis Post- Dispatch, are reporting that Spence Jackson, media director for former Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich, has been found dead in his Jefferson City apartment. Sources say his death is being investigated as a suicide. Jackson’s death comes about one month after Schweich’s suicide. He was 44.

    Jefferson City police say they won`t release any details until later Monday morning. An official with the Cole County Sheriff`s Department says they have no comment at this point. Jackson had been Schweich`s media director since May of 2011. He also held other key republican jobs in state government.

    Jackson was critical of Schweich`s political adversaries and even called for the resignation of Missouri`s Republican Party Chairman John Hancock. That came after allegations that Hancock was behind an anti-Semitic ‘whisper campaign’ that may have led to Schweich committing suicide. Hancock has strongly denied that accusation.

    Schweich shot and killed himself at his Clayton home back on February 26th.

    Sources tell the post that Jackson took a sick day last Friday and authorities are awaiting the identification of the body found in Jackson`s apartment.

    Some of Jackson`s other jobs included being the communications director for Matt Blunt when he was secretary of state.

    Another on the same: Missouri State Auditor’s Aide Dead In Apparent Suicide

    Robert “Spence” Jackson, 45, was found dead Sunday evening in the bedroom of his apartment in Jefferson City, apparently having killed himself with a gun, Jefferson City police said in a statement.

    Jackson was a veteran of Republican state politics and at the time of his death was embroiled in in-party fighting, having called for the resignation of the party’s state chairman.

    His apparent suicide comes less than a month after his boss,

    Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich, also shot himself to death at his home in suburban St. Louis.

    Schweich, 54, had been re-elected in November after serving for four years and announced in January that he would seek his party’s nomination for governor.

    His death on Feb. 26 came after he had complained about the tactics of rival Republicans in the primary campaign. Jackson had been quoted in Missouri press reports specifically calling for Missouri Republican Party Chairman John Hancock to step down.

    February 26 -> March 30 = more than a month but okay.

    This is an interesting point. Both #AnthonyHill & #MeaganHockaday were killed by officers who specialized in crisis intervention/mental health.

    And have a song by Beyonce: Beyoncé – Killing My (New Song 2015) .

  93. rq says

    #NotJustUVA Connecticut College cancels classes due to racist graffiti

    Classes are canceled for today at Connecticut College after racist graffiti was discovered in the bathroom of the student center.

    News 8 received Report It photos on Sunday of the racial slurs that were written on the walls of the men’s bathroom, that include the “n-word.”

    The president of the college sent a letter to students to inform them that classes were canceled on Monday because of the hateful words.

    There is also a meeting scheduled on campus Monday night to discuss the incident.

    And to know #MeaganHockaday was killed on Friday and most of us found out through Twitter by just a few articles is terrible.

    Ah, and here’s why Mumia is under discussion again – I mentioned he’s hospitalized? Apparently he’s not being allowed to see his family. Demand @MumiaAbuJamal’s family have visitation rights. Another set of numbers to call. (via @PrisonRadio) Contact info within.

    TSA Will Finally Stop Searching Black Women’s Hair for No Reason

    For years, black women have complained of being targeted by the Transportation Security Administration for unnecessary screenings because of their natural hair. After pressure from the ACLU, the TSA has finally agreed to retrain security officers. Per the agreement, the agency will provide trainings across the country with an emphasis on hair pat-downs of black female travelers. TSA has also agreed to specifically track hair pat-down complaints filed by black women at all airports they oversee to determine whether discriminatory practices are still occurring.

    In 2011, Timery Shante Nance was one of many black women pulled aside after being cleared by a full-body scan. She described watching white women with curly hair and bushy ponytails waltz through security as a TSA screener insisted on “patting” her hair, which was worn in a style she described as a “normal looking puff.” Other travelers stared at her and the experience was deeply embarrassing; a complaint she lodged to the TSA garnered no response. After repeatedly being singled out, Novella Coleman, who happens to be a staff lawyer with the ACLU of Southern California, filed an official complaint in 2012. TSA did not make any policy changes.

    A year later, Solange took to Twitter after Florida TSA agents searched her Afro. “My hair is not a storage drawer,” she tweeted. MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry has also been vocal about the “full on fingers through the braids, scalp tickling treatment” she’s received at the hands of the TSA. In an open letter to John Pistole, who was then head of the TSA, she wrote, “if your $170,000 machine can see under my clothes, but can’t figure out I’m not hiding a bomb in my braids, maybe it’s time to recalibrate the machine.”

    The TSA’s changes come after a second complaint filed by the ACLU in 2013. Malaika Singleton, a Sacramento-based neuroscientist traveling to London for an academic conference on dementia, was pulled aside by TSA officers as she exited and reentered the country. “The first time I was shocked,” she told BuzzFeed. “I just did not expect that. I felt violated.”

    It’s not yet clear what exactly the trainings will offer, but Coleman, who still works at the ACLU, will attend and observe. She remains optimistic that retraining will help stop the discriminatory practice. “I think right now we’re in a hopeful place,” she told BuzzFeed.

  94. rq says

    So! For further reading, You should check out the new site http://sevenscribes.com which features black voices. I love their initial pieces. Here’s the site: Seven Scribes, with currently only a few articles up, but definitely worth a bookmark.

    WE ARE PLEASED to announce the launch of SEVEN SCRIBES, a brand new online publication. We are committed to creating a space where young Black writers and artists can offer commentary and analysis on politics, pop culture, literature, and art. This is a space where writers and artists can experiment with content and be intentional about consumption.

    WHO WE ARE: The scribes, JOSIE HELEN, fivefifths, FRANK JACKSON, EVE L. EWING, TREY SMITH, and ERIKA STALLINGS are all independent creatives working to use our voices to create new online spaces. We are writers with other day jobs. Each of us has extensive experience in the world of online content creation and each brings a fresh and different perspective to writing and art. Trey is even a proven bread expert.

    WHAT WE OFFER that differentiates us from what’s already out there is a structure built on seven principles, principles that we believe represent a vision of the future of online content creation. In short, the values of INNOVATION, QUALITY, FREEDOM, BRAVERY and COLLABORATION guide what we do and produce.

    Our aim is to think differently about the internet. Or at least to suck a little less.

    Our aim is to create a more engaging and reflective environment than the clickbait, sensationalism, and slideshow-centered web infrastructure that dominate commentary geared towards us. Part of this aim is rooted in our structure: we are concerned with depth, engagement, and thoughtful consideration. Our goal is to add dimension to conversation; to think critically about issues. Our goal is not to beat the clock. We want to find ways to measure actual engagement with our material and its impact on real debates. Clicks and page views are played. Like…for real?

    Topics so far include: music, double mastectomy and breast cancer, natural disasters and black history, and post-modernism. Categories for (future) reading include Culture, Science & Tech, Art & Media, Politices & Business, Literature, Entertainment.

    A 26-year-old MIT graduate is turning heads over his theory that income inequality is actually about housing (in 1 graph) – not going to cite anything from this, but it’s worth a thought. Even if that thought is, I doubt Housing is the only answer.

    For 5 decades, STL has had a policy of “benign neglect” in north STL. That’s what created the crisis we have now. Tragic and predictable.
    What Antonio French wrote several years ago: QUIET CONSPIRACY: THE TEAM FOUR PLAN AND THE PLOT TO KILL NORTH ST. LOUIS

    The idea that a city government would actually encourage the deterioration of entire communities within its own boundaries is an incredibly disturbing thought. But, listening to Missouri State Representative Charles Quincy Troupe, New Yorkers aren’t the only ones to have fallen victim to their own city’s fathers.

    Rep. Troupe is sort of a relic nowadays. The “Dean of the House,” as the sign reads on his office door in the State Capitol, Troupe is a historian, a keeper of Black St. Louis’ past 50 years. And he believes in conspiracies. Because in the Northside State House district that he has represented since 1978, he has seen conspiracies unfold before his eyes.

    “When they looked at the housing stock in North St. Louis, they found surprisingly that 70-80% of the housing stock at that time were brick structures,” he says. “Back in 1980, they started shipping bricks out of North St. Louis to California, building half-million dollar homes in California and across the country. Demolition and [salvage] of wood, stained-glass windows, [and] bricks… is a $100 million dollar industry, conservatively, in the City of St. Louis per year.” […]

    Known as part of the “Young Turk” faction of the Board of Aldermen, in the fall of 1973, Aldermen John G. Roach and Richard Gephardt (now U.S. Congressman) introduced Board Bills 19 and 20. While they never actually became law, the bills were early versions of what would become known as the Team Four Plan.

    A November 8, 1973 article in the St. Louis Argus quotes the bills’ controversial language calling predominately black North St. Louis “an insignificant residential area not worthy of special maintenance effort.”

    The bills called for the preservation of 74,000 buildings in South St. Louis–and prescribed the demolition of 70,100 buildings on the Northside. The Argus pointed out that a study by the City Planning Commission published in April 1971 pointed up the fact that 70,100 houses in the section of the City north of Franklin Avenue (Dr. Martin Luther King Drive) were recommended for demolition because “rehabilitation would be uneconomical”. Conversely, 74,000 buildings in South St. Louis met “or exceed the standards of local codes and need only to be maintained.”

    According to press reports at the time, the report, which seemed to be the foundation for Roach and Gephardt’s bills, noted that 50,100 of the 70,100 buildings targeted for demolition were presently homes occupied by families.

    The bills quickly became a lightening rod for St. Louis’ black political machine of 1973. Board Bills 19 and 20 never became law but, not more than two years later, Northside residents found themselves under attack again.

    Team Four

    Team Four, Inc. was hired by the City’s Planning Commission in 1973 to prepare a city-wide comprehensive planning study, an update to the City’s 1947 Comprehensive Plan.

    Team Four prepared several technical memorandums for the City for that purpose. It is Technical Memorandum 6B, officially known as Citywide Implementation Strategies: The Draft Comprehensive Plan, historically known simply as the “Team Four Plan,” that many believe became the blueprint for North St. Louis’ present state.

    The Team Four Plan proposed public policy guidelines and strategies for saving the City from the circumstances clearly identified in the Rand Report.

    As if on a sinking ship, Team Four called upon the City to buck up and make some tough decisions if it hoped to survive. “Major shifts in public attitudes” were called upon to make the kinds of changes Team Four saw as necessary.

    Team Four recommended that the St. Louis make a “realistic appraisal of the short- and long-range potential of all areas in the City” and take determined and “clear-cut stances on the strategy for different areas of the City.”

    The Plan recommended that each area of the City be grouped into one of three groups: Conservation, Redevelopment, and Depletion, these distinctions being based on factors including age, physical qualities, loan policies, public service level and population stability. Race is not mentioned specifically. […]

    So-called Depletion Areas – areas identified as those which receive “spotty City services” and are the victims of “red lining”, where “large numbers of unemployed, the elderly, and the recipients of welfare are left to wait for assistance which does not seem to be forthcoming” – should not benefit, the Plan suggests, from the economic stimulation that would come from hosting a stopping point for the rapid transit described above (what we now call Metrolink).

    Depletion Areas present the City’s planners with an interesting riddle. On the one hand, this question: What should the City do for the residents and businesses of these Northside areas in the way of city services while their neighborhoods are being abandoned?

    And on the other hand: What should the City do to encourage investment in these areas to stabilize them?

    The Team Four Plan: “To answer one question with a public policy decision immediately causes a conflict with the other. For example, proceeding with building demolition and assembly of vacant parcels for redevelopment results in a neighborhood dotted with rubble-filled lots and boarded up buildings” the 1975 document states. “Such neighborhoods do not induce new investment.”

    “On the other hand,” it continues, “to expend public funds on new streets, libraries, schools or code enforcement in an area designated for total renewal doesn’t make sense either.”

    Team Four goes on to concede that it would be less than humane to enact a total denial of services to Northside residents. “The City cannot abandon those trapped in Depletion Areas,” it says, “nor can it ignore the eventual need to redevelop these areas.”

    Team Four warns of fence-straddling when it comes to making these tough decisions, “Allowing or encouraging scattered, uncoordinated investments within Depletion Areas will only sap the City’s too limited fiscal resources.”

    “Efforts must be made to adjust services and public investments so as to provide for those who are remaining in these areas. Yet these efforts should be pursued without encouraging new investment until the City determined that Redevelopment can and should begin.”

    “Without encouraging new investment”? In an area that is so obviously in need of reinvestment, people so in need of help and support, what could possibly be the motivation for such passive aggressiveness?

    Money, Racism, Class Discrimination, take your pick.

    And the situation now: Paul McKee’s “Northside” project is the culmination of The Team Four Plan. Reduced services, lowered property values, relocation of people.

  95. rq says

    Make sure to check back for a new comment 101, I landed in moderation but it has some good stuff in it.

    +++

    In Baltimore: Officials to outline major changes for school police force

    The plan, which will be outlined in staff meetings on Tuesday, is a relaunching of the police force in the wake of a decision by the city delegation to the General Assembly to table a bill that would have allowed officers to be armed while patrolling schools during the school day.

    The plan will include new deployment strategies for the department that will still allow officers to patrol and respond to schools, sources say.

    Baltimore city school officials did not respond to a request for information or comment.

    The role of city school police has been debated in recent weeks following the failed legislative measure to arm them at all times which divided parents, political leaders and educators. City school police are not allowed under the law to be armed inside schools, unlike local police who patrol schools in other jurisdictions across the state.

    The failed bill also left in limbo how officers would be able to continue to staff schools without breaking the law. Officers can be armed on patrol outside schools and often took their weapons inside schools even though that’s not allowed under the law. The bill was aimed at giving them legal clarity.

    Earlier this month, city schools CEO Gregory Thornton said he was auditing the department’s roles and responsibilities for efficiencies and compliance. He also said he would use the debate in Annapolis to make the department “better.”

    He said the district would announce “a new direction for the police force soon.”

    @RapSessions “Race, Policing & Social Justice” 4/1 Univ of Miami w/ @SybrinaFulton @Nettaaaaaaaa @jasiri_x @jelani9

    For fun: Barack Obama Talks ‘The Wire’ With David Simon

    President Barack Obama, it turns out, is a superfan of HBO’s classic drug-game drama The Wire. So much so, that you can literally see the most powerful man in the free world leaning on the edge of his seat to hear what series creator and head writer David Simon has to say about it.

    The president sat down with Simon for a conversation (released by the White House) and used the show as a jumping off point for discussing the real-life problems with street-level enforcement of drug prohibition, America’s mass incarceration of non-violent offenders and the long, unwinnable “war on drugs.”

    Oh, and Omar is totally his favorite character. Same, Mr. President, same.

    I repeat. This is why representation matters so much for these young black and brown girls. It may end up being a crappy movie, but Home, right now, has a much bigger effect.

    They’ve already beat their goal, but here’s De La Soul crowdfunding their new album. Also for fun.

    As introduced on Twitter, white privilege means paying $150 to be tear-gassed as part of an obstacle course (paraphrase). Tough Mudder to Use ‘Tear Gas’ in Newly Designed Obstacle Courses

    Tough Mudder is adding “tear gas” to its list of torture devices in its tough-as-nails obstacle course, which includes electric shocks, a plunge into freezing water and falling through a ring of fire.

    The Downtown Brooklyn company, which designs physically and mentally challenging obstacle courses worldwide, is set to unveil other new elements in their 2015 obstacle courses — and the addition of tear gas might be the most grueling yet. […]

    Murphy described crawling through a part of the course called “Cry Baby,” a tent filled with tear gas, as “shocking.” But he noted that “while it certainly stings, the active ingredient in this concoction is more benign than the one in real tear gas.”

    A representative for Tough Mudder did not respond to a request for the ingredients used in their tear gas. It was also not clear if any problems had been encountered.

    “Cry Baby” joins the course’s other tried obstacles like scaling “Everest,” a quarter pipe 15-feet high, running through 10,000 volt electric wires and diving into a tank filled with 34-degree water — making this year’s Tough Mudder course one of the most harrowing since the race was founded in 2010.

    The name “Cry Baby” was used during the testing phase and may change, according to Tough Mudder officials.

    I find the name offensive. Not so fun.

  96. rq says

    A distinct lack of accountability. Glenn Ford, Wrongfully Convicted And Dying Of Cancer, Denied Restitution For 30 Years On Death Row

    Caddo Parish District Judge Katherine Dorroh on Friday denied Ford compensation, saying that while Ford did not commit the murder that led to his wrongful imprisonment, he was “proven to be guilty of lesser crimes and was not an innocent man.” The judge said Ford knew about plans for the robbery that led to the killing and didn’t stop it. Further, he attempted to destroy evidence by pawning items taken in the robbery and tried to find buyers for the murder weapon used by men Ford implicated in the murder.

    “While Mr. Ford does not have the blood of Isadore Rozeman on his hands, he did not have clean hands,” Dorroh wrote in her nine-page order.

    Ford’s attorney, Gary Clements, said the court’s conclusion is akin to denying compensation for “jaywalking in front of the house where a crime happened.”

    “Truth is, if you pawned jewelry, you would never spend 30 years on death row,” Clements told The Huffington Post Monday.

    Ford’s lawyers with the Innocence Project-New Orleans (unaffiliated with the national Innocence Project) are appealing the ruling. The lawyers said in a statement Friday:

    We are disappointed with the court’s decision today denying Glenn Ford compensation for the 30 years he spent on death row for a crime the State of Louisiana agrees he did not commit. In its denial, the court adopted the State’s argument opposing compensation. The ruling inflated the fact that Mr. Ford knew the people who committed the crime and insinuated that Mr. Ford was more involved in the crime than the facts in the record indicate. This is the latest in a series of great injustices that Mr. Ford has suffered over the last 30 years.

    Ford was convicted in 1984 of murdering Rozeman, a 56-year-old Shreveport jeweler and watchmaker. After “credible evidence” surfaced corroborating Ford’s story that he was not part of Rozeman’s murder, Caddo County prosecutors asked that Ford’s conviction be vacated and he walked free in March 2014.

    Now, Ford is terminally ill with stage 4 lung cancer — which Ford argues in a separate complaint could have been mitigated at Angola Penitentiary had medical staff taken his ailments seriously. He may die in less than a year, according to Kristin Winstrom, who is handling Ford’s compensation request through the Innocence Project-New Orleans.

    “He literally has nothing,” Winstrom told The Huffington Post Monday, noting that supporters are trying to raise funds for his medical costs. “Money right now is going to hospice care.”

    Under Louisiana law, a person is eligible for up to $25,000 a year for each year he was wrongfully incarcerated, with a lifetime cap of $250,000, Winstrom explained. In Ford’s case, he would only receive restitution for a third of the time he spent on death row if his appeal succeeds.

    Well, fuck.

    White People’s Tears. Michelle Obama Sends Message To White Girls That They Don’t Matter

    The double standard runs deep in the White House and proof of that was with one particular event Saturday night, guest starring America’s First Lady. Michelle Obama not only supported the purpose of the evening, but she rallied behind it and pushed the racial bias way too far.

    From the outset, the awards ceremony seemed to have a positive vibe, encouraging higher education for girls and empowering them to achieve their highest dreams. If it wasn’t for the ceremony’s title, “Black Girls Rock!” displayed across the stage and shouted ad nauseam throughout the night, this event would be commendable in honoring girls who have accomplished great things — but only as long as you’re black.

    This isn’t the first time this annual event has hit the stage and perpetuated racial divide. It’s the fifth year, and nobody seems to believe there is an issue with it, despite the fact it seems you have to be black to attend. A “White Girls Rock!” event wouldn’t even last five minutes without rioters outside the venue, shutting it down.

    When Michelle took center stage, her message to the eager ears in the crowd full of black girls was that they must ignore the voices that suggest that they were “not good enough.” By her biased support, the First Lady, who attended Princeton and Harvard and attributes her success to being empowered as a young black girl, is essentially telling white girls they aren’t “good enough” since she doesn’t address them with the same overwhelming support she does her own race.

    What if Laura Bush hit the stage in a star-studded event for white girls only, announcing females of her race rock? It would never happen because nobody would allow it, yet this same scenario for black Americans is apparently perfectly acceptable and supported by our presidency. The issue isn’t with holding this event and encouraging education in youth, even if just for black girls, it’s that only certain races can get away with such segregated ceremonies, while whites could never do so.

    A distinct lack of self-examination and the reasons behind black girls and women needing to be told they rock, more than white girls.

    Most Americans Want Their State To Make Voter Registration Easier

    “I challenge every other state in this nation to examine their policies and find ways to ensure that there are as few barriers as possible in the way of a citizen’s right to vote,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) said at the bill’s signing ceremony.

    Most Americans are in favor of enacting a similar proposal in their own state, a new survey finds. A 54 percent majority of Americans say they’d favor an automatic registration law in their state, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds, while 55 percent favor allowing eligible citizens to register on the day of an election.

    But there’s stringent opposition to making voting compulsory, an idea that President Barack Obama briefly floated this month as a potentially “transformative” policy to counteract the effects of big money on politics. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest quickly walked back the idea.

    Many agree that mandatory voting could change things: 45 percent say that election outcomes would be very different if voting were required. But they also fiercely dislike the idea. Two-thirds say they oppose mandatory voting, with nearly half strongly against it. […]

    Michael McDonald, an associate professor of political science at the University of Florida, says similar “motor voter” laws, which allow drivers to register to vote at the DMV, have done little to change turnout. But he added that since all voting in Oregon is conducted by mail, receiving a ballot could remind more people to vote in off-year elections.

    “Most people are aware of presidential elections, but they are less aware of state and local elections,” he said in an email. “More people receiving a reminder to vote in state and local elections, in the form of a mail ballot, has the most potential to increase voter participation.”

    A study published earlier this month found that after registration deadlines passed in 2012, millions of Americans searched the Web for information on registering, suggesting that some would have voted had they been able.

    The results of the HuffPost/YouGov poll also suggest that people who aren’t registered to vote are still interested in measures that could make it easier for them to sign up. While most non-registered voters, unsurprisingly, don’t consider low turnout a big problem, four in 10 support automatic registration, and most say they’d favor being able to register to vote on the day of an election. […]

    Despite the widespread public support for such reforms, however, just about one-third of Americans consider it a big problem that many eligible voters don’t cast ballots. That lack of concern is especially evident among the youngest generation, who are far less likely than their elders to think that everyone should vote. Half of Americans under 30 say they aren’t even moderately concerned with low turnout.

    There’s also little enthusiasm for government activism to increase turnout. Just 22 percent of Americans agree that the government should work to get more people to vote in elections, with 71 percent saying it’s an individual’s own responsibility to decide whether to vote.

    Take a look at this. Arrested for same crime, in newspaper white suspects get yearbook photos, black suspects get mugshots

    Rafi of the blog So Let’s Talk About It recently made a startling discovery about subtle racial biases. Earlier this month the Iowa newspaper The Gazette posted two stories about local burglaries written by the same author and published within one day of each other. One story used yearbook photos of the suspects while the other used mugshots. The only other difference between the two stories? Those who got the yearbook photos were white and those who got the mugshots were black.

    As Rafi points out, regardless of what photos were available of the black suspects, the white suspects definitely had mugshots taken. In trying to justify the discrepancy, The Gazette explained they must make a formal request in order to get mugshots, yet they were clearly willing to take that extra step when it came to the black suspects.

    This is just another reminder that the media has a lot of power to subtly shape the perception of crimes. It’s the same issue that inspired the #IfTheyGunnedMeDown hashtag on Twitter, which sought to draw attention to the way black victims of police brutality are so often portrayed as menacing or dangerous. Similarly, The Huffington Post explored how the media will often portray white suspects with more empathy and respect than black victims.

    More at the link.

    I didn’t go out on August 9th w/my best friend because I was “nice” … I went because I have a deep rooted love for black people.
    Because when I saw photos of Mike laying in that hot sun, I saw my friend Stephon. Stephon was killed by the police just last year.

  97. rq says

    LBJ, civil rights hero? Maybe not so much. Oh No, President Johnson Did Not Mastermind Selma Marches, Says Civil Rights Leader

    One of the Civil Rights Movement‘s most notable figures has come forward blasting recent claims that then-President Lyndon B. Johnson spearheaded the idea behind the marches in Selma. In fact, SNCC co-founder Diane Nash suggests that LBJ’s signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was nothing more than a delayed reaction to the deaths of activists and the happenings of the “Bloody Sunday” confrontation on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. that same year.

    “The impression too often perpetuated in history books and in popular culture is that that you have to be a president, someone special or White to have an important idea or to achieve major accomplishments. This is an idea that disempowers citizens and should not be propagated further,” Nash said in a column for the National Newspaper Publishers Association. […]

    In the film President Johnson, played by Tom Wilkinson, is portrayed as being at odds with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (played by David Oyelowo) over the nonviolent Selma demonstrations – which was a deliberate choice by the director who said she did not want to create a “White-savior movie.” Her decision to portray President Johnson as an ally with Dr. King’s chief detractor, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, prompted Joseph A. Califano, a former top domestic affairs assistant to President Johnson, to say the following in a Washington Post op-ed column:

    In fact, Selma was LBJ’s idea, he considered the Voting Rights Act his greatest legislative achievement, he viewed King as an essential partner in getting it enacted — and he didn’t use the FBI to disparage him.

    Not exactly, says Nash, who helped co-found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and was a central participant on the ground during the Selma to Montgomery marches. In her NNPA column Nash takes Califano’s stance to task and says that the movement in Selma occurred far ahead of Johnson’s presidency. […]

    In Nash’s estimation, President Johnson allowed the environment that led to the deaths of Jackson, and activists James Reeb and Viola Liuzzo to continue despite his power to stop the carnage. Nash states that President Johnson’s inaction prior to the events of March 7, 1965, AKA Bloody Sunday, pushed the SCLC, SNCC and other groups to push forward for voting rights and sparked the violent standoff with Alabama police.

    Although it can’t be verified, insiders say that DuVernay’s portrayal of President Johnson as a difficult and somewhat closeted bigot may have harmed her chances at the Academy Awards. DuVernay’s film is up for Best Picture and Best Original Song. Some feel that the director was snubbed for the Best Director category, which would have been a historic first for a Black woman.

    Stop taking credit for everything, white people, in other words.

    Getting page not found on this, but it was an article on Ben Crump being assigned to a shooting case. ANnnyway.

    Powerful Short Film Challenges Beauty Ideals That Govern Skin Color

    In discussions of mainstream beauty ideals, it’s not uncommon to hear media outlets discuss the prominence of certain body types, addressing disorders like anorexia and bulimia in the process. However, for many women, particularly women of color, these are far from the only harmful ways myths and norms shape perceptions of beauty, and shape perceptions of ourselves.

    In her powerful short film “Yellow Fever,” Kenyan artist and filmmaker Ng’endo Mukii explores the relationship between a woman and her skin color, and the hierarchy of globalized beauty imposed on impressionable minds and bodies. “While growing up, I would come across women who practiced skin bleaching (‘lightening’, ‘brightening’), and often had a condescending internal reaction to them,” Mukii explained in an email to The Huffington Post.

    “Now, I realize they are only products of our society, as are we all. Since our media perpetuates Western ideals to our girls and women, and we consume this information continuously from a young age, how can we fault anyone who is susceptible to these ideals (men included), without challenging the people that are creating them?”

    Mukii explores these concepts and beyond in her enrapturing seven-minute short, which combines layered ethnographic visuals with emotive dance sequences and textural animated interviews with family members including her mother and young niece. “If I were American, I would be white, white, white, white and I’d love being white,” Mukii’s five-year-old niece says, sitting before a white pop star on the television screen. As she innocently proclaims that magic could potentially turn her skin another color, the scene becomes both jarring and heartbreaking. […]

    “Why is there no acknowledgement of the pressure that exists to push Kenyan (and other) women to willingly poison their skin and bodies with various chemicals (mercury included) in an attempt to have a paler complexion? Why is this not some form of body dysmorphia related to the skin? Why should any normal girl feel that she will be more beautiful and lead a happier life if she loses weight? Why should any normal Kenyan girl feel the same, but in relation to being paler? Why do we live in societies that agree to either of these ideas?”
    To begin to grapple with these questions and more, watch “Yellow Fever” below. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

    Bond reduction denied for man accused of shooting officers

    The man accused of shooting two police officers in March during protests in Ferguson appeared in court Tuesday.

    Jeffrey Williams was attempting to have his $300,000 bond reduced, but the judge denied it. Williams’ lawyer argued a bond that high is normally, in his experience, reserved for murder cases.

    Attorney Jerryl Christmas said the 20-year-old is not a flight risk, has no violent crime convictions, and has a girlfriend who is eight months pregnant. The lawyer asked for a $100,000, 10 percent down. […]

    “My client was beaten when he was arrested and so I don’t believe any statements that he made, he gave voluntarily,” said Christmas. “I think when they arrested him, they beat him. He was scared. He’s just a young kid, 20 years old, and he said whatever needed to be said so that he could get out of that room.”

    Once again, the judge denied the request for a reduced bond. It remains at $300,000 and Williams is back in jail.

    A grand jury is expected to hear his case, but in the meantime, Williams is back on the docket for May 5.

    Arizona Governor Vetoes Bill That Would Keep Police Names Secret After Shootings – sounds like the governor has some sense, at least.

    State senators passed the bill last week, saying it would protect officers from threats and harassment. Ducey — a Republican whose father was a 12-year veteran of the Toledo, Ohio, Police Department — wrote in a veto letter that he had strong sympathy for that position, lamenting that “in an era of social media and 24-hour news commentary, these officers and their families have been subjected to public scorn, harassment and vicious attacks.”

    But Ducey said the “unintended consequences” of shielding officers in such sensitive cases outweighed the benefits.

    “The wrong officer’s name could circulate. Speculation replaces fact. It’s very easy to see news outlets running with information that is unconfirmed or erroneous, and under this proposed law, police chiefs’ hands would be tied and they would have no way to respond or set the record straight,” he wrote. “The result could be the exact opposite of what this bill aims to do, escalating — rather than de-escalating — the situation and potentially putting completely innocent officers’ reputations and safety on the line.”

  98. rq says

    ‘Lone Ranger’ protester takes to the streets for the first time after St. Louis shooting. Not just police shootings are being protested.

    Stenger splits from Better Together board

    Better Together struck Stenger’s name from its website early Tuesday after the county executive threatened legal action to dissolve a board position he said he didn’t know existed until Monday evening.

    “What kind of group makes you a member, let alone a director, without bothering to tell you?” Stenger asked of a post he unknowingly inherited when he succeeded former County Executive Charlie Dooley in January.

    Better Together Executive Director Nancy Rice said the organization did reach out to Stenger.

    “The beginning of a new administration can be chaotic and we understand how our outreach to the county executive’s office may have not reached him,” Rice said in a statement. “A packet including a ‘Welcome Letter,’ board meeting dates and other information related to the board was sent to Mr. Stenger in January, and then his representatives did attend two (of three) board meetings this year.”

    Stenger acknowledged that representatives of his office did attend Better Together board sessions, but strictly as observers.

    Formed in late 2013, Better Together selected Dooley and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay as ex-officio members of a board that includes a number of civic, business and community leaders.

    Slay and Dooley played prominent roles at the function where Better Together launch announced it was embarking on a year-long analysis, driven by data and community input, of factors connected a possible consolidation of the city and county.

    Critics immediately assailed the group for promoting a pro-merger agenda, an assertion dismissed by Better Together officials.

    The Ferguson disruptions nonetheless persuaded Better Together to switch its focus to regional police tactics from public health, duplication of services and other issues that might affect a merger.

    Stenger adopted a wait-and-see attitude on consolidation during the Democratic primary campaign that unseated Dooley and the subsequent general election victory over former Republican state Rep. Rick Stream.

    He announced shortly before his inauguration in January that Ferguson had changed the conversation and, as a result, flatly declared consolidation was no longer on the table.

    Stenger made clear Tuesday that he will limit his association with the organization to asking representatives to observe board proceedings.

    #FergusonAlternativeSpringBreak #FergusonASB work @fergusonlibrary starting now…
    #FergusonAlternativeSpringBreak #FergusonASB x #Ferguson Volunteer Flower Department
    #Ferguson Alternative Spring break students working in harmony w/Ferguson residents at local library @akacharleswade

    Some black men at @SLU_Official prepping for their upcoming panel “Can I live” Featuring @DrShaunHarper @HipHopPrez

  99. rq says

    Obama Commutes 22 Drug Sentences, Instantly Doubling The Number Of Commutations He’s Issued

    The men and women granted the reprieves had been imprisoned under an “outdated sentencing regime,” the administration concluded. Eight of the 22 inmates had been sentenced to life imprisonment and would have died behind bars.

    Leading up to Tuesday’s announcement, the president has tried to revamp his administration’s approach to clemency, telling The Huffington Post in a recent interview that he felt recipients should more broadly reflect the entire applicant pool and not lean toward well-connected white-collar criminals. Those granted clemency on Tuesday were all sentenced to jail for intent to distribute an illegal drug, with 14 of those cases involving possession or distribution of cocaine.

    “Had they been sentenced under current laws and policies, many of these individuals would have already served their time and paid their debt to society,” White House counsel Neil Eggleston said in a statement shared in advance with The Huffington Post. “Because many were convicted under an outdated sentencing regime, they served years — in some cases more than a decade — longer than individuals convicted today of the same crime.”

    The president sent a letter to each of the commutation recipients encouraging them to take advantage of their post-prison opportunity. An administration official said that this was the first time Obama has sent such letters during his presidency.

    “I am granting your application because you have demonstrated the potential to turn your life around. Now it is up to you to make the most of this opportunity. It will not be easy, and you will confront many who doubt people with criminal records can change. Perhaps even you are unsure of how you will adjust to your new circumstances,” the letter reads. “But remember that you have the capacity to make good choices. By doing so, you will affect not only your own life, but those close to you. You will also influence, through your example, the possibility that others in your circumstances get their own second chance in the future.”

    Tuesday’s announcement marks the beginning of a more aggressive approach on clemency from the White House, which has faced persistent criticism for being slow to grant pardons and commutations. Until Tuesday, Obama had only commuted the sentences of 21 people and pardoned 64, out of thousands of applications received.

    The Justice Department expanded its criteria for clemency applicants last year, prioritizing defendants who would have likely been given a shorter prison term had they been sentenced today and who have served at least 10 years behind bars, have had good conduct in prison, have no significant ties to criminal enterprises and have no history of violence or significant criminal history.

    Advocates for greater clemency have argued that Obama should follow through on the underlying principles of the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act that he himself signed, which reduced the disparity in federal treatment of crimes involving crack cocaine and cocaine powder. Tuesday’s commutations suggest those advocates are being heard.

    Jon Stewart’s successor, Trevor Noah, is already experiencing backlash and controversy. First, here’s an about: Here’s What You Need To Know About New “Daily Show” Host Trevor Noah – born a crime in South Africa when relationships between white and black people were illegal, speaks six languages, etc.
    Is he perfect? No. People Are Mad About Trevor Noah’s Old Tweets About Women And Jews

    But after some digging, Twitter users grew more acquainted with Noah…and found some of his old tweets about Israel and Jews. […]

    On Tuesday afternoon, Comedy Central released the following statement to BuzzFeed News: “Like many comedians, Trevor Noah pushes boundaries; he is provocative and spares no one, himself included. To judge him or his comedy based on a handful of jokes is unfair. Trevor is a talented comedian with a bright future at Comedy Central.”

    Well, controversial is one thing. Also, the tweets are supposedly from five years ago. Is it possible he has learned in the meantime? Entirely. Does that make his previous tweets okay? Not at all. Does that invalidate him as the host of a late-night show? No.
    Some say the backlash is because he’s black: #TrevorNoah backlash was so swift is because he’s a Black body critical of white supremacy.
    Some choose not to carE: Listen up White Twitter – As soon as Woody Allen stops being given TV deals- I’ll have a listen at your objections to #TrevorNoah #ThatIsAll

  100. rq says

    This one here for the casual dismissal of other possible candidates to replace Jon Stewart, most notably Jessica Williams (who was mentioned as a possibility way back when Stewart said he would be leaving) – Essay: You Can’t Put Trevor Noah in a Box

    While you can’t put Trevor Noah in a box, what you can clearly do is see what Comedy Central was aiming for in making this 31-year-old biracial South African at the masthead of their flagship show. The easy answer might be that Steven Colbert, and John Oliver were gone, and previous contributors that may have been a good fit like Wyatt Cenac or Rob Corddry have moved on to other things. But in reality it likely has to do with ratings and the realization of just how important “The Daily Show,” to a global audience. “The Daily Show” is one of the most watched American programs around the world, and millennials and Generation Xers in Europe, Africa and Asia both learn English and American politics from the show’s nightly sketches.

    More on the twitter response: Mr. Noah and the Flood

    As Salon predicted, the backlash was immediate and intense. But it did not come in the form of “right-wing rage.” It came from Salon, among other progressive outlets, which were offended — they are always offended about something — by Noah’s Twitter history and the lame jokes found there, a predictable assortment of “drunk guys will hit on fat girls” shtick with a very large dose of ugly derision aimed at Jews, e.g., a bit about running over a Jewish child in a German car.

    Salon deputy entertainment editor Anna Silman led the charge.

    Why didn’t Comedy Central (or Noah himself) go back and give his Twitter account a deeper read before making him the public face of their biggest show? And do these tweets express genuinely racist and sexist sensibilities that we should be concerned about, or are they just bad jokes? . . . Is this PC culture going into overdrive, or is the deep-rooted ignorance and puerility expressed in some of these tweets a red flag for an (aspiring) political satirist?

    Why didn’t Comedy Central apply strict scrutiny here? There are a few answers to that question that are obvious — but not if you are inside the progressive cultural bubble. Those being:
    1. So-called liberals habitually tolerate black anti-Semitism. Jesse “Hymietown” Jackson remains a revered figure in the Democratic party; Al “Bloodsuckers” Sharpton was inflicted upon the general viewing public, or at least a couple of hundred members of it, by MSNBC; progressives are happy to stand with vile anti-Semites such as Louis Farrakhan, and Democratic organizations are happy to host them. So-called liberals tolerate black anti-Semitism because they believe in their hearts that blacks are their wards and that they cannot be expected to know any better. If unfunny anti-Semitism of the Nation of Islam variety is to be indulged, what’s an unkind joke or three?

    2. Comedy Central knows that Jon Stewart’s viewers are cheap dates. They are not very bright, and they are not very interested in the world around them. The function of The Daily Show is to flatter the prejudices of a certain segment of largely white and middle-aged metropolitan liberals. Daily Show viewers are not interested in original insight — indeed, the utterance of an original thought or the indulgence of an unpredictable angle of analysis would undermine the entire structure of the program. Daily Show viewers tune in so that they can be made to feel clever for continuing to believe the things they already believe. There is no reason to believe that Noah is going to fail to deliver those exceedingly modest goods.

    3. Comedy Central was probably counting on the usual double standard, which is, generally, a safe bet. When a couple of nobody RNC staffers ran up a $2,000 bill at a lesbian-bondage-themed strip club — it is a big tent, after all! — that was a national story, with Jon Stewart providing a Muppet reenactment. (Really.) Bill Clinton parties with Jeff Epstein on Pedophile Island? A strange quiet falls upon the land. If Rush Limbaugh had joked about running over Jewish children with his German car, there would be a presidential speech on the matter in the works.

    4. As for the fat-girl jokes and the other offenses against feminist sensibilities, Comedy Central et al. were no doubt counting on what we may as well call, since his name came up, the “Clinton Rule,” which is, roughly: Men with sufficient liberal credentials are allowed to mistreat women, and women without sufficiently liberal credentials are subject to any sort of abuse that can be meted out. Bill Maher can call Sarah Palin a . . . very unkind term for a woman, and the world is hunky-dory. When Sarah Palin is greeted by crowds of well-scrubbed liberals wearing “Sarah Palin Is a . . . ,” T-shirts, the progressive world yawns. If Sarah Palin’s organization uses crosshairs as a graphic element in a campaign ad, then we are having a national emergency about civility in public discourse. So of course a certified liberal can make fat-girl jokes.

    None of this should come as a surprise to anybody — at least, to anybody who doesn’t get his news from Comedy Central.

    Hmm.

    And one more from Vulture, before moving on: The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah Is Already in Trouble on Twitter [Updated]. So… I guess we’ll just have to see? Though I have to say, my first excitement has been… somewhat tempered.

  101. rq says

    Charged with same crime, Iowa paper shows black suspects’ mug shots but whites get yearbook pics, same as above, different source.

    On March 23, the Gazette‘s Lee Hermiston reported that three University of Iowa wrestlers were arrested after being caught in possession of several items that had been stolen from local homes in Marion, Iowa. The three suspects — Ross Lembeck, Seth Gross and Logan Ryan, all 19 and all white — were shown in the Gazette‘s pages in the their freshman yearbook pictures, wearing matching coats and ties.

    According to the Gazette, “The three wrestlers were charged with possessing alcohol under the legal age. Lembeck was charged with drunken driving. Gross was charged with interference with official acts because he fought with officers, police said. Ryan was cited and released.”

    They are accused of at least seven burglaries in the area.

    On the same day, Hermiston reported on four African-American suspects charged with a burglary in Coralville, Iowa, but this group of suspects — Kwain E. Crawford, 36; Milton Whitehead, 50; Quentin D.W. Eatman, 24; and Curtis J. Johnson, 29 — were all pictured in their police mug shots.

    The four men were charged with breaking into a residence on March 20 around 4:00 a.m. and assaulting the occupants. They were reportedly looking for a gun, but left instead with a TV, around $240 in cash and a cell phone.

    Currently, the Gazette‘s website shows mug shots of the wrestlers, but D’Angelo obtained screen shots of the original article.

    Someone on the Gazette‘s original Facebook thread about the article pointed out the disparity, only to have another commenter say, “Good point other than it’s safe to say those blacks didn’t have school pics…”

    Another commenter said, “Why are they referred to as ‘wrestlers?’ Are they wrestling in the story? I though they were burglars.”

    Do better, media.

    Whistleblower cop: Oxnard, Calif., police get gun and skull tattoos every time they shoot someone – trophy tattoos for shooting people? …

    The shooting death of Hockaday must, though, be viewed in context with the sordid history of the Oxnard, California, police department. Less than a year ago, the city of Oxnard was forced to pay a record $6.7 million to the family of Alfonso Limon, an innocent man who was shot 16 to 21 times by Oxnard police as he was walking home from a high school gym. They claimed to mistakenly believe him to be a suspect in another crime. He wasn’t. He was completely unarmed and just a few dozen feet away from his front door.

    As far back as 2001, the Los Angeles Times detailed how police in Oxnard, a city with just 170,000 people, had killed more people that year than cities 22 times its size. During that year, a concerned mother called 911 because she was afraid her depressed son, Robert Jones, would harm himself. Jones was cowering in a closet when police shot and killed him, and the city later paid the family $1.5 million for the “mistake.”

    Now, a former Oxnard police officer is blowing the whistle on a sick practice of officers in the department proudly “earning” tattoos every time they shoot and kill people while on duty:

    The former Oxnard police officer who recently left the department said he saw the tattoos on the officers. He made a drawing of what the “shooting” tattoo looks like. He said the tattoos were probably purchased from a tattoo shop in Port Hueneme because that is where Oxnard officers go to get tattooed.

    The former Oxnard police officer also provided the names of seven Oxnard officers and two retired officers who allegedly had the tattoos. The nine names also included two officers who are currently commanders at the Oxnard Police Department. One is a watch commander.

    The former Oxnard officer told American Justice that if smoke is added to the tattoo, coming out of the barrel, then the shooting was fatal. He said the tattoos are “earned” by officers involved in shootings.

    This behavior is deeply disturbing and is evidence of the reality that police see shooting and killing people as a source of pride instead of shame. Are they going to get tattoos for shooting and killing Hockaday? Did the officers who unjustly shot and killed Alfonso Limon get tattoos for that as well? This is sick.

    Sounds like gang signs, if you ask me.

    Update on Mumia: Famed political prisoner, Mumia Abu-Jamal in critical condition

    According to emails from his contingent of supporters, Abu-Jamal was taken to the hospital facility on Monday “Shackled to the bed, alone, and prevented from knowing that his family is close by he remains in intensive care. Prison officials and hospital officials when not spreading misinformation are denying Mumia’s family access to visits, while also denying the family and his lawyers any information or records about his condition.”

    His brother, Keith Cook stated “The rules that the prisons have are very arcane. They don’t give out any information about prisoners to their families or anyone else. It’s like you have your hands tied because you don’t know how the prisoner is and you have no way of talking to him. I remember a month ago— Phil Africa exercising in the prison, next thing they know they moved him to a hospital and didn’t tell his family where he was, and three days later he was dead.”

    As of Tuesday morning, the family has been given access to see Abu-Jamal who has been incarcerated since 1982 for the murder of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. Long the subject of countless rallies and demonstrations with protesters, like him, proclaiming his innocence, he spent years on death row before being removed three years ago and now serving a life sentence.

    Veteran activist and a close associate of Abu-Jamal, Pam Africa was outraged by the treatment and conditions he was enduring. “Prison officials are lying,” she said. “Mumia is going through torture at the hands of the Department of Corrections through medical neglect. It is clear to people that they want to kill Mumia. They gave him the wrong medication which made his condition worse.

    “Inmates on the inside who questioned what was happening have been subjected to direct retaliation by the superintendent,” Africa continued. “They have been moving concerned inmates out of Mumia’s unit in an effort to both bury and keep this critical information from the public.”

    Ms. Africa was unable to talk extensively when called since she was at the hospital and at a press conference with an aim toward dealing with prison officials.

    So his family is being allowed to see him. I guess that’s nice of the authorities?

    85 years after infamous lynching, another noose stirs tension in Indiana town

    When his boss tossed the noose into his hands, Mikel Neal, a black firefighter in Marion, Ind., had two thoughts.

    First, was this a threat? And, second, how would Neal tell his wife about this bizarre act, with its eerie echoes of Marion’s dark past?

    “I’m still in shock,” Neal said in an interview late Monday. “I can’t fathom why would someone do what he did.”

    Assistant fire chief Rick Backs has since been suspended by the Marion Fire Department; he released a statement apologizing for forming a noose during a knot-tying exercise at the station house Feb. 13.

    But with a disciplinary hearing set for next week in the case, Neal and other black residents are worried that Backs may suffer no lasting consequences for an act they view as troubling and divisive. In an interview with The Washington Post, Neal, who also plans a news conference for Wednesday, said that Backs specifically targeted him that day, one of nine racial minorities on the 63-person force.

    “I heard him call ‘Mickey’ – that’s my nickname – and he tosses something to me,” Neal said, adding that Backs then turned and walked out of the room. “I catch it with my right hand. I’m looking at it in shock and awe. I was very upset.” […]

    Eighty-five years after the residents of Marion lynched her third cousin, Fears-Neal learned that the town’s assistant fire chief had tossed a noose to her husband. “I was definitely in disbelief. I just listened to the story in its entirety, trying to understand what was going on and why,” she said. “My heart was aching extremely.”

    Neal himself found it hard to make sense of the incident. He said fellow firefighters present that day immediately reacted with outrage on his behalf. Others insisted it must have been a joke. The fire chief and other city officials took it very seriously.

    “I want to apologize, on behalf of myself, to the community for this type of incident even happening,” Marion Fire Chief Paul David told a local TV station.

    The chief proposed to demote Backs, but Backs insisted that the town’s Board of Public Works and Safety should decide his fate. Neal and other firefighters plan to testify at the hearing Monday.

    “Quite frankly, this is the assistant fire chief. If he doesn’t have the brain matter to understand that throwing a black man a noose, in this town, is unacceptable …then the city policy provides for his removal,” said Walter Madison, an Ohio-based civil rights attorney who is working with Neal.

    Neal “would have been willing to lay his life down to save Backs if they were in a building that was burning,” Madison said. “How do you handle that person threatening you like this?”

    Backs has apologized, of course. Very, very, very sincerely. It was a bad joke, mmkay?

    Inside St Louis’s lurid crime tabloid: ‘There’s a callousness about the value of life here’

    For those 77 years, the Evening Whirl has covered the underworld of St Louis in lurid language, cataloging crimes under headlines like “Loon Chucks Shiv at 5-0” and “Bungling Bandit Bagged and Booked”. Regular features include a column called Where Not To Be, which provides a helpful map of where readers are most likely to be murdered, and Behind the Bars, an advice column from a prisoner named Jus Bleezy, who in the latest issue calls upon readers not to flush their lives “down the drain for a chain and some street fame”.

    Many articles start with a question: “WHY did a stone-cold gunslinger end a South Side squabble with slugs?” asks one query. “WHO is the con man from the womb who can steal the tighty off your whities that is being sought by North Patrol?” asks another. There are no bylines, giving it the feel of omniscient narration from an alternatively bemused and outraged voice. […]

    “People read the Whirl because we tell it like it is,” says Anthony Sanders, the paper’s 55-year-old editor-in-chief. “If you’re a criminal and we feel that you’re a scumbag, then that’s what we call you.”

    Sanders took over the Whirl in 1995 following the long tenure of Ben Thomas, an entrepreneur who founded the paper in 1938 to document St Louis’s black nightlife. Thomas soon realized he had an audience hungry for crime, and for seven decades the Whirl documented St Louis’s spiral into poverty and depravity, at times attracting national media attention.

    When Thomas appeared on the Arsenio Hall Show in 1989, Hall called the Whirl “the wildest newspaper in the country”, and its rhyming catalog of criminality has been cited as an inspiration for gangsta rap. After a dip in circulation at the turn of the century, the Whirl’s readership is back up to about 100,000 people.

    “There is a callousness about the value of life here, period,” says Sanders. “We are among the most savage and brutal people on the face of the earth. We are killing people indiscriminately. It doesn’t always have to be gang or drug related. There are people just going off and killing people. That happens all over the country.”

    By “we”, Sanders means humanity in general – and he sees part of the Whirl’s mission as exposing its darkest side. At the top of the paper is a slogan: “There Is Power in Naming and Power in Shaming!” Above that, a call to action: “Snitching & $$ Do Catch Crooks!” The Whirl’s mantras fly in the face of the Ferguson protest movement, which is premised on the idea that law enforcement is corrupt and in need of a massive overhaul.

    As such, Sanders’s black-owned, generally pro-police newspaper occupies an uneasy place in a St Louis struggling with the question of who to trust. […]

    St Louis has long struggled with a reputation for danger, with Ferguson only the latest national symbol of a region gone to rot. Civic organizations have released videos with mostly white narrators vouching for the region’s safety, including one where three white elite university students rapped defensively about crime statistics they believe are misleading. There is some truth to their claim: crime in St Louis tends to be highly localized in the region’s most impoverished areas.

    But the truism that St Louis is not dangerous hides a darker truth: those for whom it is dangerous have very little visibility.

    “You better check the Whirl if you ain’t heard of us / I’m from the part of St Louis where they murder us.” This is the refrain of Check Da Evening Whirl, a 2009 song by the St Louis rap group Street Gang. The video showcases members of the group reading copies of the Whirl in the roughest parts of St Louis while they rap about its lowlights – cold-blooded killers, ambulances that do not arrive, abandonment of the black community. The end of the video informs you that two of the people in it are dead. This is a side of St Louis that get little coverage – a side that the Whirl, in all its sensationalist glory, forces readers to see. […]

    Since the Ferguson protest movement began, detractors have responded with the catch-all question: “What about black-on-black crime?” It’s a question that stems from the baseless assumption that black communities do not really care about violence, or grieve their own losses. The Whirl, for all its breathless tabloid hectoring, is a rebuttal to that derailment. Its purple prose rides the line between condemnation and celebration, but its stock in trade is morality tales.

  102. rq says

    This article put up yesterday includes a reference to the last lynching in Indiana:

    In 1930, two young black men were lynched on suspicion of murdering a white man. Their hanging was captured in a gruesome image by a local photographer, a photo that became an iconic depiction of American lynching – and served as inspiration for the song “Strange Fruit.” It was the last recorded lynching in a northern state.

    A third teen, James Cameron, was spared, served time in prison and later wrote a book about the experience. He opened a museum dedicated to the thousands of black Americans killed by white lynch mobs, and eventually was pardoned by then Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh (D).

    Here’s two articles on Cameron and the apology he received: Senate apologizes for lynchings, and To Cameron, apology over lynchings is personal. Oh, and just for the record? The apology came in 2005.

    Jahi Chikwendiu, Jerry Wolford Win NPPA’s Photojournalists Of The Year – why relevant? Check out his portfolio, starting at photo 28, though to be honest, there’s lots more in there worth seeing, including a heartbreaking story about an immigrant (expat?) family broken up over a stupid law.

    The Handmaid’s Tale by @MargaretAtwood [Amazon link] First ever winner of the Clarke Award in 1987, here because check out the cover, which I happen to like a lot.

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    Vineland Man Dies After Being Taken Into Police Custody Police brutality? Oh yes.

    The man, identified as Phillip White, was arrested at a home on the 100 block of Grape Street in Vineland, New Jersey around 11 a.m. Tuesday. He died shortly after while in custody.

    Witnesses told NBC10 officers were extremely physical with White after he was already restrained and unconscious on the street.

    “They punched him, stomped him, kicked him and then they let the dog out of the car,” said Ricardo Garcia. “The dog bit him on his face and around his body. There’s no call for that. Once a man is handcuffed and unconscious, you should have stuck him in the patrol car and take him to the police station. Instead they decided to beat him right here.”

    A dog is heard barking on a police dispatch recording of the incident.

    “118 West Grape,” the dispatcher says in the recording. “Subject…hyperventilating. Officers out.”

    An officer is also heard on the recording.

    “Slow all units down,” the officer says. “Subject under…tried disarming me.”

    The Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office is currently investigating the incident. A spokesperson for the office told NBC10 White was being arrested but they haven’t revealed why.

    Here’s a photo-essay via Faces of the Movement, about Latosha and her soon-to-be opened business in Ferguson. Beautiful photography, and a very moving story. Lots of good thoughts and best wishes for the success of her store!!!

    Columbia and Mizzou Organizations Come Together to Protest McCulloch Event at Mizzou Law School

    Mizzou Students and Columbia residents came together on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 to protest an event hosted by a recently formed MU chapter of the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. Robert McCulloch was invited by this chapter and by the university to speak to law school students. Members of MU socialist club, members of MU for Mike Brown, the Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) and Occupy CoMO came together to show their discontent for how the event was setup as well as the format. Payton Huse, a member of MU Socialist Club, decided to voice her opinion and protest the forum.

    “I’m protesting not only him (Robert McCulloch) being here, but the university’s lack of transparency and the lack of accessibility for the majority of students to actually participate in his forum,” Huse said.

    The joint group is protesting not only the fact that McCulloch is speaking, but also how the forum was closed to the general public, was invite only and was only open to MU law school students. According to a pamphlet handed out by FOR, the media were not informed until Friday, March 27 while MU students were still on spring break. The group believes this was done on purpose to limit potential dissent. Huse did have a message for students of MU.

    “This is your university, you’re paying a lot to be here, the university is supposed to be representing you and your interests and you should really be questioning people like this coming to speak and the university being a platform for their ideas,” Huse said.

    De La Soul’s Kickstarter for New Album Surpasses Goal. Just another small blip on the positie news spectrum.

    Job notice for new Ferguson Judge emphasizes focus on “quality of life” offenses (those not covered by legislative restrictions). Am I justified in thinking that that sounds a little fishy?

    Also just in general: Have you checked out Athens 7 “The Black Issue” yet? #LinkInTheirBio #athensnewren #ferrarisheppard #blacklivesmatter #stopbeingfamous
    #vtrails #supportisaluxury
    #blackexcellence #melanin

  105. rq says

    @BLMLA and #Pasadena chapters issue statement on arrest of activist charged w/making terrorist threats and more – the link: Joint Statement from Black Lives Matter Los Angeles and Pasadena Chapters on the Arrest of Organizer Jasmine Richards

    Richards, 28, was arrested on Mon., Mar. 30 just hours before she was slated to attend a Pasadena City Council meeting and share new information from the Office of Independent Review’s Gennaco report on the 2012 police killing of Kendrec McDade.

    Initially citing a failure to appear charge, police later amended the charges to reflect terrorist threats, trespassing, petty theft, assault and evading the police.

    Black Lives Matter organizers believe these charges to be in direct response to Richards’ participation in a peaceful demonstration held in Pasadena just six days prior to her arrest. The demonstration, held on Mar. 24 in collaboration with Kendrec McDade’s mother Anya Slaughter, commemorated the third anniversary of McDade’s death and was part of a heightened demand for answers regarding his killing and the public release of the Gennaco report in its entirety.

    Jasmine Richards is a young woman who has overcome the harsh realities of Pasadena and emerged as a leader in the local movement against police violence. She is exactly who we hope our young people will become: strong, caring, compassionate and dedicated to fighting for justice for Black people everywhere.

    Jasmine became a member-organizer with Black Lives Matter after her participation in the Black Lives Matter Freedom Ride to Ferguson in August 2014. Since her return to Pasadena from Ferguson, she has been pivotal in making sure that Kendrec McDade’s mother Anya Slaughter and other family members of those who have been murdered or brutalized by the Pasadena police are connected to and centered in the Black Lives Matter movement.

    Richards recently became engaged to her partner of three years April, who is both devastated and infuriated by the persistent targeting of her fiancée by Pasadena police.

    As an active member of Black Lives Matter Pasadena, Jasmine Richards’ activism against police brutality has made her a highly visible target for police harassment. These current charges are an attempt by law enforcement officials to mis-characterize her and undermine her work as a galvanizing force in the Black community of Pasadena.

    This isn’t the first time Black Lives Matter activists have been surveilled and discriminated against by police.

    Raising money for her bail here: Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles Legal Defense.

    Demand #Justice for #FloydDent Friday in #Inkster. #BLMDetroit #BlackLivesMatter Event link: via Facebook. Friday April 3, 10AM.

    We’ve waited for over 8 months for the internal investigation of Officer Pantaleo who killed Eric Garner to be completed. Enough already.

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    Officer Bill ‘Robocop’ Melendez named in 12 brutality and corruption lawsuits, count ’em – 12!!

    Before Bill “Robocop” Melendez brutally assaulted 57-year-old Ford Motor employee Floyd Dent this past January, he was named in 12 separate lawsuits for brutally assaulting people, planting evidence, and making illegal arrests. One case, though, sounds shockingly familiar to what Melendez did to Floyd Dent—who was choked unconscious before Melendez punched him 16 times in the face and head breaking his orbital bone, causing severe bleeding, and a brain injury.

    A federal judge recently dismissed Melendez’s petition for “qualified immunity” in an extreme case of brutality and wrongful arrest that took place on July 26, 2011. After reviewing the evidence, District Court Judge Gershwin Drain determined that Melendez and several of the officers under his command used illegal force against Deshawn Acklin and that they would not be protected under the qualified immunity clause.

    On July 26, 2011, Bill “Robocop” Melendez brutally beat and choked Deshawn Acklin until he was completely unconscious and defecated on himself. Melendez did not stop the beating until he was pulled off of Deshawn Acklin by fellow officers. Later, fellow officers sprayed Acklin with mace when he was handcuffed in the back seat of the police car. They never even charged him with a crime, but let him go out of the back door of the local jail after they took him to the hospital for his injuries.

    In addition to the extreme brutality, it appears that Melendez, as he is currently trying to do with Floyd Dent, concocted a story about what Acklin did that day to deserve such a beating.

    1. On pages 5-6 of the court filing below, Melendez claims that he looked through a window with four fellow officers and saw Deshawn and another man in the house with guns. Every other officer interviewed has no recollection of such an occurrence. Deshawn himself has stated explicitly from the beginning that he never even touched a gun inside of the house.

    2. Melendez testified that he “heard voices in the kitchen area” from outside of the house. In their testimony, no other officers heard those voices. Deshawn states in his testimony that nobody was even in the kitchen, but that he and friends were hanging out in the living room.

    3. This is key: On page 7 of the court filing, Melendez states that he sees Deshawn pull a handgun out of his waistband. None of the four additional officers testified to seeing such a thing.

    4. On page 7, Melendez testified that Deshawn, in the presence of five heavily armed officers, closed his fist and took a swing at the face of Melendez. No other officer witnessed such a thing and, of course, Deshawn stated from the beginning that this was preposterous.

    Four more major discrepancies at the link. But this officer is revolting and should never, ever wear a uniform again, if law enforcement wants to recoup its image.

    Things don’t get better: Witness: Jersey police punched, kicked, and dog bit Phillip White’s face before he died in custody, that’s the newest one.

    Late Tuesday morning, police in Vineland, New Jersey, a suburb of Philadelphia, killed 32 year old Phillip White. Ricardo Garcia witnessed the entire incident,

    “They punched him, stomped him, kicked him and then they let the dog out of the car,” said Ricardo Garcia. “The dog bit him on his face and around his body. There’s no call for that. Once a man is handcuffed and unconscious, you should have stuck him in the patrol car and take him to the police station. Instead they decided to beat him right here.”

    Another eyewitness recalled what he saw,

    Agustin Ayala of Ayala Towing said he was driving down Grape Street in his tow truck when he saw two police cars on the street and two officers trying to handcuff a man…

    The two officers, including a K9 officer, handcuffed the suspect and brought him to the ground, he said. Ayala said he asked the officers to stop because he was concerned for the man’s welfare.

    Police have provided no real explanation for how something so awful happened to an unarmed man in their custody. The police chief, Timothy Codispoti, released a statement calling it a “tragedy.” He went on to say, “I ask that everyone allow time for our justice system to now investigate this matter to its truthful conclusion.”

    There’s video at the link.

    Jay Z’s Streaming Music Service Makes No Economic Sense

    Monday’s announcement did not specify exactly how the streaming service would work, but it did provide a basic overview. Tidal has two subscription levels: $9.99 per month for standard music quality, one at $19.99 per month for higher quality. Unlike other music streaming services like Spotify, Rdio, and Google Play, Tidal will not offer an ad-supported free subscription. Artists on Tidal will offer “windows” of limited exclusivity to their new music, an incentive for fans to purchase subscriptions and hear their favorite artist’s music before it’s available elswhere. The 16 artists who have inked exclusive deals—most of whom were on hand for the announcement—have each been given 3 percent equity in the company, according to Billboard.

    There are a number of problems with this approach. First, Tidal must convince consumers to purchase the subscriptions. As of Monday, Tidal had 540,000 subscribers, compared to Spotify’s 60 million active users and 15 million paid subscribers. It will be a major battle to convince consumers using a free streaming service to fork over $10 a month to Tidal. Additionally, it’s hard to imagine there’s much of a market for Tidal’s $20, high quality subscription. That may attract certain music lovers but the rest of us are satisfied with the standard quality. For consumers who want to use their device on mobile, high quality music—and especially HD music videos—will burn through data very quickly.1

    The second problem is that artists often don’t have control over their music. The record label does. This is the big caveat about thinking of Tidal as a worker co-op. If the artist wants to provide an exclusive “window” to Tidal, the label must sign off on that plan. There’s no reason to think that most labels will do that. Jay Z, with his record label Roc Nation, has an advantage here. He can give artists permission in advance to launch their new music exclusively on Tidal, which is why it’s no surprise that some of the artists—Calvin Harris and Rihanna—who have initially signed on are Roc Nation clients. But as Tidal tries to expand and must attract artists from other record labels, Jay Z will face a big question: Will those labels agree to launch music exclusively on Tidal? I’m skeptical, especially when other streaming services have more than 100 times as many active users. In the end, the record labels remain in control.

    Finally, it’s not clear how far this worker-ownership will extend. If the original 16 artists each received a 3 percent stake in Tidal, that’s nearly half the company already disbursed. Presumably, Jay Z intends to keep a large chunk as well. If Jay Z intends to allow all artists an ownership stake in Tidal, how much will less famous artists receive? I don’t expect those details to become public, at least not anytime soon. But it’s an important consideration. If Tidal ends up mostly owned by global music icons and leaves behind thousands of other artists, then it will not ensure artists are fairly compensated for their work. It’ll just be a way for the richest artists to get even richer.

    Meh.

    Another Ferguson suit! Intercept Reporter Files Suit Against Ferguson Police

    The Intercept’s Ryan Devereaux is joined in the civil rights suit, filed today in federal court in the Eastern District of Missouri, by three German journalists who were also arrested. They allege that the police department, St. Louis County, and 20 unidentified officers violated their First Amendment rights of freedom of press and freedom of speech, used excessive force against them, and arrested them without probable cause. (The complaint is embedded below.)

    On the night of August 18, Ferguson police shot Devereaux and Lukas Hermsmeier, a freelance journalist for several German newspapers, apparently with rubber bullets, handcuffed them with plastic ties for hours, and held them overnight in jail. Devereaux and Hermsmeier say they clearly identified themselves as press when they encountered the police.

    “It may sound naive but I never assumed the possibility of police officers shooting at journalists in a manageable situation like this,” Hermsmeier told The Intercept in an emailed statement.

    The other two plaintiffs, reporters Frank Herrmann and Ansgar Graw, were arrested the same day while trying to interview and photograph police and protesters. All four journalists were arrested on the charge of “failure to disperse.”

    Devereaux wrote about the arrest, and the men he met in the jail, as part of his Ferguson coverage for The Intercept last summer.

    “I was exposed to so many stories of everyday people locked in a predatory system of excessive fines and dubious warrants,” Devereaux said. “It’s clear that a lot needs to be done to address the policing crisis in Ferguson and much of St. Louis County.”

    “What happened to us last summer was just one example of the kind of overly aggressive and reckless behavior that police in St. Louis County have developed a reputation for,” said Devereaux.

    Bucknell University Expels 3 for Racist Radio Broadcast. It’s the same old shitty news over and over again, isn’t it.

    Bucknell University says it has expelled three students over a school radio broadcast in which they made racist comments and used a slur.

    University president John Bravman met with about 1,000 students and staff Tuesday, a day after sending an email to the university community informing them of the expulsions.

    He says the March 20 broadcast violated the private university’s standards.

    Bravman didn’t identify the students but shared their comments in “the interest of transparency.” He says one used the N-word, a second said “Black people should be dead” and the third said “lynch ‘em.”

    The school says an inmate at a nearby prison told a prisoner advocacy group about the comments. The group then contacted a faculty member.

    Bucknell is a liberal arts school in Lewisburg, about 50 miles north of Harrisburg.

    Have a good news: This is Justin Lynch. 17yr old who broke Michael Phelps 100m butterfly record. #ChangeTheStory

  108. rq says

    ‘HOME’ was predicted to bomb at gross $88M at the Box Office overall…It grossed $106M in its opening weekend. Why the low prediction, because it’s starring a black girl? Take that, assholes who believe diversity in media doesn’t matter.

    Oh, before I forget, a word on Phillip White. If you listen to the video, or read the articles, one of the officers actually says that he (White) was trying to disarm him (the officer). Yet according to witnesses the guy was already cuffed at this point. The good ol’ “he reached for my gun” argument. As if that means anything after someone is already handcuffed… #PhilipWhite Honestly, these people need to come up with something new, or just stop altogether. I vote the latter.

    Investigation underway after noose found on Duke campus. Of course there’s alternate explanations, but with the background racism and current upswing (in reporting? in actual events?) of racist things happening on campuseses (campi?)…

    Officials at Duke University said Wednesday that an investigation is underway after a noose was found hanging on a tree at the Bryan Center plaza.

    Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta said in an email to students Wednesday that the noose was removed early Wednesday. The Duke Chronicle reported that the noose, which was made with yellow rope, was removed at about 2:45 a.m.

    “To whomever committed this hateful and stupid act, I just want to say that if your intent was to create fear, it will have the opposite effect,” Moneta wrote.

    Authorities are working to identify who was responsible, Moneta said.

    Anyone with information about the incident should call Duke University police at 919-684-2444.

    Dave Chappelle gets hit with banana peel during show; man arrested

    Comedian Dave Chappelle knows what’s funny, and it’s definitely not getting hit by a banana peel while on stage.

    That is exactly what happened to the “Chappelle’s Show” star Monday night while he was doing stand-up at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe, N.M.

    Audience member Christian Englander, who “appeared to be highly intoxicated,” threw the peel at 41-year-old Chappelle, hitting the “Half Baked” creator on his leg during his set, according to a statement by the Santa Fe Police Department.

    Englander, who police say admitted to throwing the banana peel, was arrested on suspicion of battery and disorderly conduct.

    Englander, 30, had eaten the banana while waiting in line for the show and held on to the peel, according to the police report.

    Englander’s friend was sketching pictures during the show, and when Chappelle asked him his name after complimenting the work, the man responded, “Johnny Appleseed.” It said Englander told police Chappelle made racist jokes about the name, which Englander didn’t appreciate, so he stood up and threw the peel, according to the report.

    During the arrest, Englander allegedly made racist comments to police about Chappelle, according to the report. Chappelle told police Englander did not seem apologetic for what he did and his actions seemed racist, according to the report.

    In an expletive-laden audio recording that appears to be in the incident’s immediate aftermath, it is clear Chappelle is not happy, but he seems to play it cool and makes jokes about the situation.

    Chappelle’s agent declined to comment on the situation.

    Sounds like attempted reverse racism to me.

    So, this is a new British Company, Noose & Monkey (@NooseAndMonkey_): http://www.nooseandmonkeystore.com/ Pic. via @Queen_BeeKyte: Oh, the UK is also post-racial, just so you know. Cultural differences. Whatever. Just look at the picture, it is a HORRIBLE BRAND IMAGE.

  109. rq says

    Uh… the brand ‘Noose &Monkey’? If you go to their homepage? Uses a black man as a model. Their About page: Noose & Monkey is a story of mistaken identity and disguise. During the Napoleonic wars, the crew of a French naval vessel dressed their pet monkey in an officers uniform. After being shipwrecked off Hartlepool, the monkey was discovered on the beach. The locals, assuming he was a Frenchman and therefore the enemy, hung him in the town square.

    This brand looks at the the truth and the lie, the innocent and guilty, the Noose and the Monkey. Our concept is to focus on the two sides of every story and every man, and to play with twisting those sides.
    Okay, which still means someone didn’t think this through – and it also sounds like a veiled ‘both sides of equal validity to every story!’. And that whole part of the story where the locals assume the monkey is the Frenchman? … Anyway.

    When you are a romance writer and every single white couple gets an HEA but your POC don’t…? Yeah, that’s telling. And worth calling out. *ahem* HEA = Happily Ever After, I had to look it up. *shame*

    #NotJustUVa” Noose found on Duke’s campus. Vice President of Student Affairs has sent an email to students: “ At least the email promises action and sounds horrified and shocked.

  110. rq says

    Here’s a podcast from my former university, students speaking out about diversity (or, as it were, lack thereof) on campus: Boundless Whiteness Bounded Blackness – Yusra Khogali And Sandra Hudson. A lot of student perspectives and things that I never really noticed – most students from humanities (English, History, Caribbean Studies, etc.), not many speak about being in the sciences – which probably isn’t enough to draw any conclusions, but it kind of makes a conclusion all its own.

    Joye Forrest crowned first black Miss Teen Missouri U.S.A.

    Joye Forrest, a 19 year old freshman at California Institute of the Arts, in Valencia, CA was recently crowned Miss Teen Missouri U.S.A. 2015 in Kansas City during the annual beauty Pageant. With her crown she becomes the first African American teen to hold the title in Missouri pageant history.

    Forrest will represent Missouri in the national pageant in the Miss Teen U.S.A. 2015 pageant in Washington, D. C. during first week of July, 2015.

    Forrest addressed the issue of abstinence before and until marriage during the Question and Answer session faced by all of the finalists.

    “I want to encourage others to be courageous, stand up for what they believe and not to succumb to peer pressure for all the wrong reasons,” Forrest said.

    She entered the Miss Teen U.S.A. Missouri competition as Miss Spanish Lake Teen. Forrest has an extensive background in the performing arts as a singer, pianist, and dancer.

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    Maria Chappelle-Nadal & @AntonioFrench speaking on #Ferguson in #Chicago, April 4th, 9am, BJsMarket, 87th S Stony, $7 breakfast

    That extended hand ain’t work eh? RT @theGrio Common no longer speaking at college graduation after police outcry over ‘A Song for Assata’ Yup, that was Common who said to extend a hand in love towards those being racist: Common no longer speaking at college graduation after police outcry over ‘A Song for Assata’

    The change comes after the outcry from law enforcement, who take issue with a 2000 song by the Glory composer called A Song for Assata. The song which is a tribute to Assata Shakur — also known as Joanne Chesimard — who was convicted in the 1973 death of Trooper Werner Foerster, has law enforcement officials upset. One union representative said that Common’s appearance at the graduation would be like a “slap in the face” to law enforcement.

    Police say the 15-year-old song paints Shakur in a sympathetic light. The song’s lyrics include reference to Shakur’s “power and pride” as “beautiful” as well as the line “May God bless your soul.”
    Listen to ‘A Song For Assata’

    Police say the song is offensive because it paints a “cop killer” in a sympathetic light.

    Although Assata Shakur has been living in Cuba for decades as a fugitive, she has been recently in the news because of the talks between the United States and Cuba leading toward thawing relations between the two countries. Several lawmakers as well as police officials have called for the president to make Cuba turn Shakur over to the United States as a condition of the agreement, but Cuba said in early March that it had no plans to do so.

    Shakur has a strong base of supporters within the African-American community who believe that the former Black Panther member was framed. Many support Cuba’s decision to deny her extradition back to the U.S.

    A 15 year old song. Yup. Love.

    [UPDATE] Cop Who Unleashed Xenophobic Tirade On Uber Driver Is A Joint Terrorism Task Force Detective – so there you have the general attitude of these guys.

    The NYPD officer caught on camera unleashing an irate rant against an Uber driver is a detective with the department’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. Police sources have identified the angry cop in question as one Detective Patrick Cherry. The NYPD says the Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating the incident, during which Cherry pops off at the driver: “I don’t know where you’re coming from, where you think you’re appropriate in doing that; that’s not the way it works. How long have you been in this country? Do you understand me? I don’t know what fucking planet think you’re on right now.”

    They’ve taken his badge and gun. For now.

    Leave it to UVA to make racist jokes via the Cavalier Daily after everything that’s happened this year and with its history generally. More on that in a minute.

  112. rq says

    The UVA Cavalier mocks #MarteseJohnson two weeks to the day of his arrest. America. April Fool’s, eh.
    The Cavalier issued an apology: An apology to our readers

    The managing board of The Cavalier Daily would like to issue a sincere apology for the publication of two pieces — “ABC officers tackle Native American student outside Bodo’s Bagels” and “Zeta Psi hosts ‘Rosa Parks’ party” — in our April Fools edition which was released this morning.

    Both articles have been removed from our website, and this apology will run in our next print edition. We are currently in the process of personally reaching out to affected communities to issue apologies.

    The April Fools edition is meant to start a conversation and provide satirical commentary on important issues. The April Fools edition is not meant to come at the expense of our peers. We neglected to foresee that these pieces would come across as the latter, and for that, we regret their publication.

    We understand that the arrest of our classmate Martese Johnson by Alcoholic Beverage Control officers was a highly traumatic incident both for the community and for Martese himself. In the days that followed, as we at the paper sought to comprehend what happened and provide the community with constructive reporting, we have felt upset, angry and confused alongside the student body. We are embarrassed that our empathy for these immensely serious issues was undermined by this piece. We had no intentions of victimizing another underrepresented community in the process.

    We also apologize for the article satirizing themed fraternity parties. Our intention was not to perpetuate stereotypes, but to highlight the offensive nature of these themed parties in the past. Again, our readers were hurt by this piece, and that makes its publication inexcusable.

    The stated mission of The Cavalier Daily is to provide the University community with new, relevant and insightful information that inspires critical conversation and even action on Grounds. Today’s April Fools edition was meant to further this mission in a humorous and satirical manner. Unfortunately, we fell short of this goal today.

    We have been and remain dedicated to providing unbiased coverage of racial issues on Grounds. We hope to regain our readers’ trust through that continued coverage. We will, as always, work tirelessly to provide you with all student perspectives — especially those who feel underrepresented.

    We deeply apologize to anyone who felt hurt, marginalized or that their experiences were trivialized by these pieces.

    “We apologize to anyone who felt hurt…” not “We apologize for being kinda stupid assholes”.

    .@GovernorVA has entered closed community mtg on #MarteseJohnson at Cville’s Mt. Zion First Baptist African Church.
    After an hour-long meeting with @GovernorVA on #MarteseJohnson, listen to what community leaders had to say @ 12.

    ‘Poor N–ger Party’ Printed on Wedding Photo-Booth Pictures: Report

    An African-American couple hired a photo booth and attendant for their 2012 Houston wedding in hopes that guests would take fun photos that would commemorate their special day. The photo captions were supposed to consist of the couple’s first names and the date. Instead, they say, some guests’ photo captions read, “Poor N–ger Party.”

    “Anybody would find this caption offensive,” the couple’s attorney, Cathy Hale, told ABC 13. “I’m offended by it.”

    According to the news station, the couple, who were not identified in the report by name, are now suing Premier Photography and the owner James Evans, charging negligence, mental anguish and breach of contract, claiming that Evans failed to deliver all the photos he promised.

    Evans and his attorney refused to speak with ABC 13 and referred the news station to their response filed with the civil court.

    In filings viewed by the news station, Evans claims there is no evidence linking his company to the captions and therefore no evidence of mental anguish, ABC 13 reports.

    The news station notes that “mediation is scheduled for Thursday morning. If no agreement is reached, the case is set for trial in July.”

    “They trusted this company to provide them with a service on their most important day, and what they got was the complete opposite; they got a slap in the face,” said Hale. “Every time they think about their anniversary, they think about this. It’s never going to go away.”

    And one for the WTF: Police officer forced into counseling for taking photo with Snoop Dogg

    While most people who took their photos with Snoop Dogg at this year’s SXSW suffered little more than embarrassment, a Texas Department of Public Safety officer now has to undergo counseling. Trooper Billy Spears was called in to work security at the annual festival, when he was stopped by Mr. Dogg—who served as this year’s keynote speaker—and asked to take a photo. Mr. Dogg then posted that photo on his Instagram with the caption, “Me n my deputy dogg [gun emoji] [twinkly star emoji] [more twinkly stars emoji].” Like most people, Spears’ commanding officers were not amused.

    According to the Dallas Morning News’ Christy Hoppe, Spears was reprimanded for “posing with a known criminal”—in this case Snoop Dogg, who has been charged several times with doing exactly what he constantly sings and talks about. There was also that case of murder he was given—and although he was acquitted, the question lingered of whether he would be the G that he was. In a way, the answer was yes, at least in the sense of authorities regarding 2015-era Snoop Dogg as a “known criminal.” The man tried to launch his own line of snack foods.

    But according to Spears’ attorney, Ty Clevenger, who’s currently fighting the citation, the real reason for why his client is being punished hints at the byzantine, Machiavellian internal politics that is synonymous with the Texas police force. He believes the whole thing is just retaliation for the time Spears “reported a Alcoholic Beverage Commission officer last year for unprofessional conduct,” after said officer detained him while off duty, all because he “thought Billy disrespected him in public.” Spears was suspended but had it reversed on appeal; Clevenger believes Spears’ commanders are now “papering Billy’s file with counseling incidents” in order to punish him, which should definitely help with his learning to respect them.

    In his blog post about the incident, Clevenger also says he believes the DPS found the Instagram photo by using facial recognition software to monitor its officers, insists Spears had no way of knowing about Snoop Dogg’s criminal history. (“Believe it or not, some folks don’t watch TMZ or read People Magazine”), and points to the rapper’s history of charity work, working with his youth football league, and other examples of Snoop’s overall softening. He also brings up the salient point that Spears’ superiors likely wouldn’t “get so bent out of shape about a picture with Willie Nelson,” another “known criminal” by DPS standards.

    Being indirectly responsible for a police officer’s disciplinary counseling is believed to be the most gangsta thing Snoop Dogg has done since 1993.

  113. rq says

    In case you were wondering, Georgia Police Have $70M Worth Of Military Surplus.

    There’s a federal program that distributes surplus military equipment to local law enforcement agencies. Georgia is fifth overall, for the amount its police have received – more than $70 million worth of free gear. That’s according to a national comparison by the Pew Charitable Trusts. […]

    In Georgia alone, police have a dozen mine-resistant vehicles and nearly 4,000 rifles, including M16 assault rifles and 12-gauge shotguns. The Pew Trust research said they’re all examples of the increased militarization of American police. But, Rotondo said to remember that some of that $70 million worth of gear is boots and flashlights.

    “Of course it’s not just boots,” said Maria Haberfeld, chair of law and police science at John Jay College.

    Haberfeld said anyone who’s concerned about the 1033 program shouldn’t just focus on the kinds of equipment, but on how it’s used and against whom.

    Back around when the 1033 program began in 1991, she visited a police chief in South Carolina and noticed something in the back yard.

    “So I asked him, you know, ‘What are you going to do with this tank? Why does a civilian police department need a tank?’ He said ‘you never know.’” said Haberfeld.

    She asked if he or anyone in his police department know how to operate that tank. The answer was no.

    For amusement. And a feeling of security. I mean, how hard can it be to learn to drive a tank, right?

    Now this one’s interesting. Coroner reclassifies Henry Glover’s death as homicide in post-Hurricane Katrina police shooting case

    Nearly a decade after New Orleans police fatally shot Henry Glover and incinerated his corpse, Glover’s death has been classified as a homicide, Orleans Parish Coroner Dr. Jeffrey Rouse announced Wednesday.

    Rouse’s predecessor, longtime Coroner Frank Minyard, had declined to reclassify Glover’s cause of death, leaving it “undetermined” even after a former New Orleans police officer, David Warren, acknowledged at two federal trials that he shot Glover, 31, with a high-powered rifle from the second-floor breezeway of an Algiers strip mall on Sept. 2, 2005.

    A second former officer, Gregory McRae, admitted igniting Glover’s body in a car behind the Algiers levee, but he maintained that act was not part of a cover-up but rather a reaction to post-traumatic stress disorder that he and other first responders experienced after Hurricane Katrina.

    McRae was convicted and sentenced to 17 years in federal prison. He is the only one of the five NOPD officers accused in the Glover case ultimately to be held accountable for what federal prosecutors portrayed in a 2010 trial as a conspiracy to cover up an unjustifiable police shooting, in part by burning the key piece of evidence: Glover’s body.

    The classification of homicide “simply requires the action of one person causing the death of another,” Rouse said in a news release. “This action today reflects my medical opinion, based upon the totality of the evidence, that the death of Henry Glover was due to the actions of another person.” […]

    After the shooting, Calloway traveled with the shot and bloodied Glover and Edward King, Glover’s brother, in passerby William Tanner’s white Chevy Malibu to seek medical help at an outpost authorities had set up at nearby Habans Elementary School.

    Calloway, 44, claims that when the group got there, police beat him while his friend died unattended in the backseat of the Malibu. He has filed a federal lawsuit, which remains on hold and may be delayed further by Rouse’s decision. Calloway, who said he still suffers from PTSD and has recurring nightmares of being shot, said that if the new ruling slows his case further, that’s OK by him.

    “I’m stupid happy. I’m not happy for me. I’m happy for Henry’s children, for his kids, man. Happy for his mother,” he said.

    Calloway, who testified at both trials, said he’s ready to do so again should Cannizzaro choose to prosecute Warren, or anyone else, in state court, as Glover’s family hopes.

    “The truth is the truth. I’m gonna get up and say the same thing I’ve been saying for 10 years,” he said. […]

    In an interview, Rouse said he reviewed all the available evidence in the case, including federal court transcripts, because he felt it was his duty “to be a good nerd about it and read every last word.” Warren stipulated in his second trial that he fatally shot Glover.

    Most critical to his inquiry, however, was information he received “on loan from the FBI with the explicit instruction that I was not allowed to share it with anyone,” Rouse said.

    “I haven’t spoken to my wife about it, my chief investigator about it, my lawyer about it, and unfortunately I can’t share it with you,” Rouse said. “I will say that it was thorough and more than sufficient for me to reach a medical determination that the appropriate classification of death in Mr. Glover’s case would be homicide.”

    Asked what became of Glover’s skull, which disappeared sometime after his remains were recovered, Rouse said, “You’d have to ask the FBI for that information.”

    Minyard, by contrast, said he had seen “no new scientific evidence (on which) to base a reclassification” when he chose to leave the cause of death undetermined before leaving office, months after Glover supporters stormed his office following Warren’s acquittal. Rouse said Minyard also had reached out to federal authorities about Glover’s death but “for whatever reason, they didn’t give him any information.” […]

    Warren, a rookie officer at the time of the shooting, was convicted in 2010 for his role in Glover’s death and sentenced to 25 years in prison. But the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated his conviction in 2012, finding that Warren’s case had been unduly prejudiced when he was made to stand trial alongside fellow officers accused in a cover-up, one prosecutors couldn’t show Warren knew anything about.

    A jury found Warren not guilty of civil rights charges when he was retried alone in December 2013.

    The appeals court also dismissed one count against McRae, who admitted burning Glover’s body, and ordered a new sentencing.

    By then, U.S. District Judge Lance Africk already had tossed out the conviction of the third convicted officer, Lt. Travis McCabe, after a draft police report turned up in Warren’s case that contradicted allegations McCabe had doctored a police report on the shooting. Months after Warren’s acquittal, in December 2013, federal prosecutors declined to retry McCabe, who has since returned to the police force.

    Africk last year left no doubt, as he resentenced McRae to an identical 17 years, that he thought Warren’s account of shooting Glover out of fear was bogus, and that McRae’s claim of burning Glover’s body in a fit of post-Katrina stress also failed the sniff test.

    “You did not merely burn a corpse. You, a law enforcement officer, burned a corpse to obstruct justice,” Africk said. “The court remains convinced that Glover posed no immediate threat to Warren or any other individual and that he was merely an unarmed, non-dangerous man, whom Warren shot dead.” […]

    Warren testified he feared for his life and pulled the trigger only after he saw two men storm the rear gate of the mall at Gen. De Gaulle and Texas drives in Algiers — a claim the second federal jury apparently believed.

    Glover and Calloway had rolled up behind the shopping center in a stolen truck to fetch suitcases packed with looted items left behind by two female friends who lived nearby. Their plan, Calloway testified, was to grab the suitcases and clear out of town.

    “No warning. It was: Pow. Gunfire. ‘Leave now,’ ” Calloway said Wednesday, recalling the shooting.

    On Wednesday, Calloway teared up as he recalled Glover, saying his friend and brother-in-law was an avid reader and family man.

    “He would go every morning like clockwork to get a cup of coffee and a newspaper. Every day. He was a guy always tried to do better. I knew him since he was a child, being a positive person. He was the disciplinarian for the kids,” Calloway said.

    “The last time I saw him, I didn’t know if he was dead already. He was dying. He was laying in the back of Tanner’s car. They drove off with him. I never seen him no more.”

    He fucking feared for his life from a rooftop, with the men down on the road? Well fuck.

    And President Obama just signed the Slain Officer Family Support Act of 2015 into law. America.

    Common Pulled From Kean University Commencement Speech After Police Complaints. Blah, blah, we don’t like his song, etc. blah blah blah.

    Teen Heart Transplant Recipient Dies in Fatal Police Car Chase

    A Georgia teen who received a heart transplant less than two years ago has died in a car accident while fleeing police, according to officials.

    Anthony Stokes, 17, was driving a car that matched the description of a car used to flee a home burglary, in which a masked person allegedly shot a gun at an 81-year-old woman who was home watching television, Roswell Police spokeswoman Officer Lisa Holland told ABC News.

    When officers tried to pull the vehicle over, the driver allegedly refused to stop, and they chased him, she said.

    “The car lost control at an intersection, ran over a curb, hit a pedestrian and ran into big, metal pole,” Holland said.

    Stokes died Tuesday night from injuries sustained in the crash.

    17.

    American police killed more people in March (111) than the entire UK police have killed since 1900

    Yeah. Those numbers are real.

    A total of 111 people were killed by police in the United States in March of 2015. Since 1900, in the entire United Kingdom, 52 people have been killed by police.

    Don’t bother adjusting for population differences, or poverty, or mental illness, or anything else. The sheer fact that American police kill TWICE as many people per month as police have killed in the modern history of the United Kingdom is sick, preposterous, and alarming.

    In March:

    Police beat Phillip White to death in New Jersey. He was unarmed.

    Police shot and killed Meagan Hockaday, a 26-year-old mother of three.

    Police shot and killed Nicholas Thomas, an unarmed man on his job at Goodyear in metro Atlanta.

    Police shot and killed Anthony Hill, an unarmed war veteran fighting through mental illness, in metro Atlanta.

    I could tell 107 more of those stories.

    This has to end.

    March. There’s still April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December of this year left. And then all other years still to come.

  114. says

    3 Florida prison guards exposed as members of KKK, plotted to kill black inmate

    The three men — Thomas Jordan Driver, 25, David Elliot Morgan, 47, and 42-year-old Charles Thomas Newcomb — each were arrested Thursday on one state count of conspiracy to commit murder, according to a statement from Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office.
    Driver and Morgan are current employees of the Department of Corrections, and Newcomb is a former corrections employee. The state’s statement says Driver had the fight with the inmate.
    Bondi’s office said the three were members of the Traditional American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
    The case will be prosecuted in Columbia County in north Florida. The State Attorney’s office there did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
    The wide-ranging investigation included the FBI, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, and various state and local agencies. The FBI’s office in Jacksonville said it would not comment on an open investigation.
    The charges for the three men mark the latest black eye for the Florida Corrections Department.

  115. rq says

    Hundreds gather for a rally outside of #Duke Chapel as the university President makes remarks about the noose found.

    County Prosecutor: #PhillipWhite handcuffed when he went into “respiratory distress”, & there may be video | @deray There’s a press release attached to that tweet.

    2 Fatally Shot, 12-Year-Old Boy Wounded In Hawthorne Officer-Involved Shooting

    According to a preliminary investigation, a Hawthorne police officer was on patrol when a woman driving a car pulled up and said she was being followed. The officer told the driver to pull up in front of him and he would investigate, sheriff’s officials said.

    Investigators say a white Cadillac then pulled up next to the officer and the woman.

    “The right front passenger of the suspect vehicle got out and began firing at the driver and passenger in front of the police officer. The police officer immediately got out. And an officer-involved shooting occurred,” Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Dave Coleman said.

    A passenger in the front seat of the shooter’s car was killed, and the male driver and a man in the rear seat were arrested.

    A 12-year-old boy was in the victim’s car.

    “The child ran to a different location, and being treated now at a local hospital for gun shot wounds,” Coleman said.

    Both the shooter and the female victim were declared dead at the scene.

    Just a random case of incompetence, if the victim asking for help was one of those actually fatally shot… by the officer supposedly helping her.

    Atlanta Educators Convicted in School Cheating Scandal

    On their eighth day of deliberations, the jurors convicted 11 of the 12 defendants of racketeering, a felony that carries up to 20 years in prison. Many of the defendants — a mixture of Atlanta public school teachers, testing coordinators and administrators — were also convicted of other charges, such as making false statements, that could add years to their sentences.

    Judge Jerry W. Baxter of Fulton County Superior Court ordered most of the educators jailed immediately, and they were led from the courtroom in handcuffs. Judge Baxter, who presided over a trial that began with opening statements more than six months ago, will begin sentencing hearings next week.

    “Our entire effort in this case was simply to get our community to stop and take a look at our educational system,” District Attorney Paul L. Howard Jr. said, adding, “I think because of the decision of this jury today that people will stop. I think people will stop, and they will make an assessment of our educational system.” […]

    The inquiry, which was completed in 2011, led to findings that were startling and unsparing: Investigators concluded that cheating had occurred in at least 44 schools and that the district had been troubled by “organized and systemic misconduct.” Nearly 180 employees, including 38 principals, were accused of wrongdoing as part of an effort to inflate test scores and misrepresent the achievement of Atlanta’s students and schools.

    The investigators wrote that cheating was particularly ingrained in individual schools — at one, for instance, a principal wore gloves while she altered answer sheets — but they also said that the district’s top officials, including Superintendent Beverly L. Hall, bore some responsibility. […]

    Defense lawyers, some of whom were clearly angered by Judge Baxter’s decision to jail the educators on Wednesday, immediately began planning appeals and said they were stunned by the verdicts.

    20 years in prison, for cheating on school tests. Can you imagine?

    Suspended for supporting the Second Amendment: SCLC suspends Georgia Chapter President for call to bear arms

    The Southern Christian Leadership Conference Wednesday suspended the president of its Georgia chapter, the day after he urged blacks to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms in response to recent police shootings of unarmed blacks.

    SCLC National President and CEO Dr. Charles Steele made the announcement at a news conference.

    The action comes after Georgia SCLC President Sam Mosteller Tuesday called on all African-Americans to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms.

    In a statement, Dr. Steele said, “We have found that his (Reverend Mosteller’s) comments do not represent, not reflect the principles and position of this organization.”

    As a result, the national organization announced the indefinite suspension of Rev. Mosteller, ordered an internal investigation, and ordered him to undergo an internal training program.

    Tuesday, Rev. Mosteller told reporters he is tired of talking and marching and of inaction at the local and federal level.

    He said police and the justice system have failed blacks in cities nationwide.

    Reverend Mosteller stated, “We going to have to do something in our community to let the rest of America know that we are not going to be victimized by just anybody whether it be police or folks that decide that black people are thugs and we need to control that black community. We [are] not going to allow that anymore.”

    But when asked if he was suggesting blacks pack weapons the reverend insisted he was being misquoted saying, “Listen, listen I didn’t say that. I said the Second Amendment right? I didn’t say pack weapons, I said Second Amendment. Please don’t put words in my mouth, please don’t do that… Do you have to carry a weapon to avail yourself of the Second Amendment the answer is no, you don’t have to okay?”

    In his statement, Dr. Steele said the SCLC was founded and maintains its position against violence of “ANY type.”

    Reform! Municipal court reforms include no new charges for missing court date, Missouri speaker says – so maybe less accumulative fees?

    People charged with speeding and other minor traffic offenses in municipal courts would no longer face additional charges simply for missing court dates under sweeping changes pushed by House Speaker John Diehl.

    A failure to appear charge has “the effect of doubling or quadrupling the amount of fines that are assessed” against traffic offenders and “puts them in a hole they can never get out of,” Diehl, R-Town and Country, said Wednesday. […]

    St. Louis University law professor Brendan Roediger said that by eliminating the failure to appear charge, the House plan was “the closest to real reform that we’ve gotten so far. I’m elated that we’re talking about real change.”

    But Roediger, who is part of a legal team alleging constitutional violations in municipal courts, said he was disappointed that the new proposal would allow a person to be jailed for up to 48 hours if arrested on a warrant for a minor traffic violation — and for up to 72 hours for other violations.

    “Three days is a very long time for a poor person to be locked up on a speeding ticket,” Roediger said. […]

    Under the House plan, failure to appear charges would no longer be filed in connection with municipal traffic offenses that carry up to four points on drivers licenses.

    Diehl said a warrant could still be issued for the underlying traffic charge if the person didn’t show up in court, “but we’re not going to allow municipalities to pile on that additional charge.”

    Sens. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, and Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, attended Diehl’s news conference outlining the bill. They applauded his efforts.

    “We have to change the climate,” said Chappelle-Nadal, whose district includes Ferguson. “I know that my constituents want to seek a balance between safety and also being overburdened,” she said.

    The House proposal is “a solid step in the right direction,” according to a statement released by the Rev. Starsky Wilson and Rich McClure, co-chairmen of the governor-appointed Ferguson Commission.

  116. rq says

    University removes Common as graduation speaker amid police outcry

    “The students expressed interest in Common because he composed the Oscar-winning song Glory with our prior commencement speaker John Legend,” Kayne said. “While we respect his talent, Kean is pursuing other speaker options.”

    New Jersey state police were troubled by the choice because of lyrics in Common’s 2000 recording A Song for Assata. The song is about Joanne Chesimard, who goes by the name Assata Shakur, and was convicted in 1977 of killing trooper Werner Foerster in 1973. She escaped from prison and has been living in Cuba as a fugitive.

    The song describes the shootout and the treatment meted out to Shakur in prison: “A call, one cot, no window, facing hell/Put in the basement of a prison with all males” and concludes “Assata had been convicted of a murder she couldn’t have done/Medical evidence shown she couldn’t have shot the gun.”

    Chris Burgos, president of the State Troopers Fraternal Association of New Jersey, called the choice of Common a “slap in the face”.

    “What is troubling here is that a state university that is subsidized with state taxpayer funds, is once again being questioned on their decision-making at the highest levels,” Burgos said in an emailed statement.

    Here’s another on the NYPD officer being xenophobic: Cop caught berating Uber driver in xenophobic rant is NYPD detective, police sources say (WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE IN VIDEO)

    The NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating the video, which shows Det. Patrick Cherry lambasting the Uber driver during a traffic stop and mocking his broken English.

    “I don’t know where you’re coming from, where you think you’re appropriate in doing that; that’s not the way it works. How long have you been in this country?” Cherry, who is white, barked at the driver after pulling him over in an unmarked car with flashing lights, according to video of the encounter.

    The roadside rage erupted after the detective tried to park the unmarked car without using his blinker, and the Uber driver went around him and gestured to him to use his signal, according to Sanjay Seth, a passenger in the Uber car who posted the video clip.

    The car Cherry drives in the video does not belong to the NYPD, according to a police source.
    The angry cop pictured here, yelling at an Uber driver and mocking him, is NYPD Detective Patrick Cherry, police sources said. Sanjay Seth/via YouTube
    The angry cop pictured here, yelling at an Uber driver and mocking him, is NYPD Detective Patrick Cherry, police sources said.

    Moments before slamming the car door and storming away, the hot-headed Cherry, who is based out of Federal Plaza in Manhattan, shouted at the driver: “I don’t know what f—ing planet you’re on right now!”

    The detective repeatedly mocked the mild-mannered driver’s accent and pronunciation of English words, cursing at him. The driver responded calmly, saying “okay” during one point in Cherry’s tirade, the video shows. The driver’s ethnicity was not immediately clear.

    The driver filed a complaint with police, which prompted the NYPD to assign the case to the Internal Affairs Bureau.

    #duke students lead silent march after noose found hanging from a tree on campus #DukeNoose

    This Cop Is On Trial For Firing 49 Shots At Two Unarmed Suspects. There’s a cop on trial! A recap:

    The events of Nov. 29, 2012, began when Officer John Jordan stopped Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams for a signal violation. Jordan also suspected Russell and Williams of drug activity, originally spotting them outside the Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry men’s homeless shelter, a spot known for drug dealing and often referred to as “the wall.”

    Jordan told investigators that as he approached Russell’s Chevy Malibu, Williams, in the passenger seat, became irate and started flailing and screaming. Russell put the car back in gear and took off. Jordan ran back to his car and gave chase, but he was too slow and Russell lost him.

    The episode might have been over if Russell’s Malibu, with a history of engine woes, didn’t let out a booming backfire right front of Nan — which he mistook for a gunshot.

    For the next 22 minutes, Timothy Russell led police on a chase reaching speeds of 100 mph.

    As Russell ran red lights and blew through busy intersections, 62 police vehicles and more than 100 officers joined the pursuit, according to a state investigation. A federal investigation would later determine that 37% of the Cleveland Police Department was involved.

    Russell eventually reached a dead end in the staff parking lot of Heritage Middle School. As he circled the lot looking for a way out, Officer Wilfredo Diaz took the first shots at the Malibu.

    “Shots fired, shots fired!” rang out over the police radio as Diaz pulled the trigger and fired four shots. None of the officers on the scene knew for sure, but all would later tell investigators they assumed that it was the suspects firing, not the police.

    “They’re ramming us!” an officer broadcasted as Russell’s Malibu collided with a police car blocking the only exit.

    “Watch for crossfire! Crossfire!” someone yelled as the officers unleashed a barrage of bullets.

    When it was all over, 13 officers fired 137 shots. Russell and Williams were hit more than 20 times each and died inside the Malibu. No guns were found inside the car. Every shot fired came from a Cleveland cop’s gun. Investigators later determined that during the shoot-out there were two waves of gunfire — one lasting 17 seconds and another lasting about five seconds.

    To get an idea, count off 17 seconds and imagine a constant barrage of gunfire during that time. That is an extraordinarily long amount of time for something like that. To continue:

    In all, 63 officers were suspended, one supervisor was fired, and two more supervisors were demoted. Days of protests and rallies in Cleveland followed. The public outcry and horrific detail surrounding Williams and Russell’s killings by police became the catalyst for a Department of Justice investigation of the department’s use of force policies — the second federal probe of Cleveland Police in less than 10 years. The families of Williams and Russell each reached $1.5 million settlements with the city.

    That might have been the end of the of the legal efforts to right the wrongs of Nov. 29, if it weren’t for Officer Michael Brelo’s role.

    During the second wave of gunfire, the five-year veteran of the department jumped on the hood of the Malibu, trained his Glock on the suspects, and sent a hail of bullets into the windshield.

    Of the 137 bullets fired by cops in the parking lot that night, 49 of them came from Brelo’s gun. That second, five-second wave that investigators wrote about came solely from his Glock 17.

    On April 6, Brelo will go on trial for two counts of voluntary manslaughter. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison. Of the 13 officers who fired shots that day, Brelo was the only one indicted by a Cuyahoga County grand jury. (Five other supervisors face misdemeanor charges for dereliction of duty.) […]

    “I want to make sure my brother’s life wasn’t in vain. If somebody was responsible, I want it uncovered,” Michelle said. “I really believe that they’re using this guy Brelo as a scapegoat to take the fall.

    “I believe that Brelo getting up on that car and shooting into deceased bodies was just unnecessary, but there were other officers there that shot a lot. And I don’t think it’s fair that he’s the only one who should be brought to trial.”

    One question she may never know the answer to is why her brother didn’t stop that night when he was pulled over.

    “I know he had a reason. I don’t believe he was high and out of his mind.” […]

    Court documents show that during the grand jury proceedings that followed the state’s investigation, all officers who shot their weapons on Nov. 29 invoked their Fifth Amendment rights and declined to testify for fear of self-incrimination.

    Then Sabolik and Farley were granted immunity and testified.

    Sabolik and Farley’s grand jury testimonies remain sealed. However, during his interview with investigators, Sabolik’s recollection of how he learned the identity of the shooter on top of the hood contradicts Brelo’s explanation that he lost time between when he took cover and holstered his gun.

    “You said later on you found out what was up on the hood of the car?” investigators asked Sabolik. “How did you find out?”

    “Because he was talking about it,” the rookie replied.

    “He was talking about?” investigators probed. “Who was that?”

    “Mike Brelo,” Sabolik said.

    VOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER FOR FIRING INTO A CAR AT PEOPLE, because shooting at people never ever kills them ever. Right? Who’da known??

    Police misbehaviour:Baltimore police slow to release internal reports

    They created a Force Investigation Team to look into all incidents in which officers used deadly force or when an interaction with police resulted in serious injuries. They pledged to publicly release reports of the internal investigations on their website.

    Nine months later, seven reports have been released out of 40 incidents logged in 2014 and 2015. The last report the agency released is for an incident that took place in July.

    Asked this week why more reports haven’t been released, the Police Department did not provide a response.

    In early February, Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts cited the FIT database as part of the agency’s effort to become more transparent. Asked then why police had posted so few reports, he called the process an “evolution” and said the website should be viewed as a step forward.

    “We’re heading in the right direction, we’re doing the right things,” he said. “As we evolve and continue to evolve, we will get better at the things that we do, but we’re going in the right direction so you should give us some credit.”

    Excessive-force complaints have dropped by nearly half since 2012, he said.

    Batts said police shooting and use-of-force cases take time to investigate and determining whether officers followed both the law and police protocol can be complicated.

    Back then, Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said FIT reports are “completed in various stages” but that doesn’t mean they can be released. The posting of reports on the website is the last step after the reports are reviewed by a Force Review Board, prosecutors and the commissioner.

    “The publication of that [report] is the absolute last step, so they’re moving along,” Rodriguez said. “We want them to be expeditious as possible, but we want to also make sure that they’re accurate.”

    For fun: The Full Transcript Of Jay Z’s Tidal Q&A At The Clive Davis Institute Of Recorded Music.

  117. rq says

    ICYMI: #TerrellBeasley was 4th man N #STL area found shot-&-burned-in-car since Sept. Turned out he was shot by SLMPD

    Mexicans of African Descent Established Los Angeles on This Day in 1781 – not actually this day, but a day in September.

    Governor of Las Californias, a Spanish-owned region, Felipe de Neve called on 11 families to help build the new city in the region by recruiting them from Sonora and Sinaloa, Mexico. According to a census record taken at the time, there were two persons of African ancestry, eight Spanish and Black persons, and nine American Indians. There was also one Spanish and Indian person, with the rest being Spaniards.

    According to the efforts of historian William M. Mason, the actual racial makeup of the pobladores was perhaps more racially balanced than not. Mason wrote that of the 44, only two were White, while 26 had some manner of African ancestry and that 16 of the group were “mestizos” or mixed Spanish and Indian people.

    Black Mexicans Luis Quintero and Antonio Mesa, the only two named on the 1781 census, married mixed women and bore several children between them.

    The pobladores founded the city “El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora La Reina de los Ángeles sobre el Río Porciúncula” (Spanish for The Town of Our Lady Queen of the Angels on the Porciuncula River) that day, after some priests found the area 10 years prior. Another historian, Dr. Antonio Rios-Bustamante, states that Los Angeles’ original settlers were even more mixed than the census stated, but was that African, Indian and European ancestry was a hallmark.

    Learn something new everyday.

    Cop Filmed Berating an Uber Driver Will Be Transferred Out of Elite Unit. I certainly hope so – an elite unit is not where you want those most prone to frustration and short tempers.

    Boycott @Cosmopolitan this is downright disgusting. Article on this later, but – basically – four comparison photos, with photo on left of a black woman or other woman of colour saying “R.I.P.” (to her particular make-up style), and the photo on the right of a white woman demonstrating the new make-up style. It’s a lot more terrible than it may seem right now.

    Supreme Court Tired Of White Kids Whining About Their Precious American Flag Short version – white kids and parents in a school upset over Mexican students celebrating Cinco de Mayo. And being obnoxious about it.

  118. rq says

    From FtB’s very own Dana Hunter, Even Our Police Dogs are Racist – When Their Human Handlers Are. It’s about as bad a read as it sounds.

    People treat dogs like they don’t share our prejudices, but forget they’re handled by humans, and eager to please those humans. They don’t have an abstract philosophy of life. They don’t have an independent morality that tells them always being sicced on people of color is wrong. They’re pretty good reflections of what people teach them and allow them to do.

    We need to remember that when people are saying, “The dog alerted to X.” It’s not as objective as we like to think. The dogs are clever, and trying to please, and pick up on prejudices both conscious and unconscious. The article shows they’ll alert when there’s nothing there, just because their handler is putting off signals saying something should be there, and they expect the dog to find it. And handlers don’t always listen to their dogs, so the dogs learn not to mention it when something is there. […]

    I used to have faith in law enforcement. I used to trust the K-9s and their handlers. That trust is very severely eroded by now. And while I think we can improve, fix some of the problems, and reduce the various isms that are staining the profession, I believe now we need to always retain a healthy skepticism. Lots of someones need to watch the watchmen. And their little dogs, too.

    A look back into history. 17 Times “The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air” Got Way, Way Too Real. Worth a read for a few laughs that are more than jokes.

    Civil rights commission reports on STL hearing

    On Monday, February 23, Rosenfeld was among more than 20 people who presented to the Missouri Advisory Committee, which advises the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The 12-member committee’s goal was to hear testimony on civil rights concerns related to community and police interactions in Missouri.

    On Wednesday, April 1, the committee held a conference call to discuss preliminary findings from the all-day meeting, held at UMSL. From what he heard from panelists, committee member David Rose, an UMSL professor, said it seems hotspot policing is not an effective strategy.

    “We are getting too far away from community-based policing, and now we are suffering the effects of that,” Rose said.

    The committee voted Wednesday to send an advisory memo to the U.S. commission, recommending that they look into eight areas of concern raised by the panelists. Those include insufficient data on police shootings, municipalities’ reliance on court fees to fund governments, and hotspot policing becoming a priority over community-based policing. All the recommendations aligned closely to what they heard from local community and academic leaders earlier this year. […]

    Several community leaders spoke about police interactions in the community – including Pastor Traci Blackmon of Christ the King Church, James Clark of Better Family Life and Charli Cooksey of the Young Citizen’s Council of St. Louis.

    Pamela Meanes, president of the National Bar Association, said her organization goes into the community to educate residents on their basic rights, including the right to remain silent and to not be detained unnecessarily. However, she said she must also speak to them about the reality for African-American residents – that they may do everything correctly and “still end up dead.”

    “As an African-American lawyer, I should not have to go into a community of African-American children and educate them on their rights,” Meanes said, “but tell them in the same breath that they are not allowed to exercise those rights because there may be a fear or possibility that if they do that, they may not come home to their parents.”

    She said the National Bar Association believes that legislation, training on de-escalating use of force and serious conversations about race are necessary steps to addressing the nation’s current crisis. […]

    During Rosenfeld’s presentation, he spoke about Dotson’s claim recently that the Ferguson protests have caused crime to increase in the city. However, Rosenfeld said in his research, the number of homicides increased “well before” Brown’s death.

    Capt. Mary Edwards-Fears, of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police, spoke about the need for more transparency.

    She said if there is one thing that the Ferguson unrest has taught them, it’s that, “people will not tolerate being kept out of the information loop,” especially regarding use of force.

    Residents also had an opportunity to speak, and that allowed committee members to get a “full picture” of the civil rights violations across the state regarding use of force, said committee chairman S. David Mitchell.

    “The real goal, to be honest, is not to be ‘let’s blame the police,’” he said, “but to come up with something so that we can address what seems to be a deep-seated problem.”

    Cops. Misbehaviour. Missouri police officer accused of throwing boy, 4, against wall. Yes.

    Happy Birthday to #scifi legend Samuel Delany. (Master writer & Octavia Butler’s 1st Clarion teacher.) #Afrofuturism (Yesterday, I think.)

    Okay… and… this. The meaning of this t-shirt? Our ancestors spent 98% of the last 10 million years in Africa. It’s a tweet by Dawkins. A new shirt at his internet store. “We are all Africans”, with a big red atheist A on Africans. Like what.

    McCullogh is all about transparency. Public, Media Locked out of Bob McCulloch Speech at MU Law School

    St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch spoke Tuesday at the University of Missouri School of Law about the grand jury process and his experience handling the investigation into now-former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson’s responsibility in the shooting death of Michael Brown last year.

    The MU student chapter of the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys organized the event, which restricted to law school students and faculty who had to register prior. Media and the public were not allowed to attend the talk.

    Motivated by the closed nature of the event, students and community organizers from organizations such as Occupy COMO and the Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation gathered to protest by chanting and holding signs with messages about Ferguson.

    MU graduate student Reuben Faloughi said he was concerned with the locked doors and lack of publicity for the event. “The format that this talk was held—it’s unfair,” Faloughi said. “Nobody else gets to have a conversation with McCulloch.”

    Coordinator of the Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation Jeff Stack said he understands the need for security, but also that he wishes the event was more balanced and inclusive.

    “Democracy is a little messy sometimes and unfortunately Mr. McCulloch is kind of used to kind of being an orchestrator and having control for how the courtroom operates and grand jury is a system of heightened control,” Stack said. “Maybe he’s uncomfortable with settings like that (an open forum), but that’s kind of what we really need to have a vibrant democracy.”

    MU Law School Dean Gary Myers said the event was planned with the law school audience in mind.

    “It was designed really to be a law school event so people can have that discussion and dialogue, and I can share with you that the discussion was vigorous and thorough,” Myers said. […]

    Samantha Green, a second year MU law student, said she thought the event was overall a good experience. However, she added that McCulloch dodged many of the questions, but that “wasn’t something that I was necessarily surprised by.”

    “I thought that there was an attempt at honest dialogue, but it just really didn’t quite get there for me,” Green said.

    Kayla Jackson-Williams, an MU law student and president of the school’s Black Law Students Association, said her question for McCulloch on how he plans to fix the disconnect between him and the black community went unanswered.

    “He said what he wanted people to hear and he didn’t fully answer questions to the degree at which he could because he wanted it to go in a certain direction,” Jackson-Williams said.

    Both law students proposed that any similar event in the future, while giving initial preference to law students and faculty, should be open to the public.

    As for the closed nature of the event, Green said she thought the intentions of limiting attendance to members of the legal community were good, but that she wished the public had an opportunity to listen in.

  119. rq says

    Ugh, The Real 125 is in moderation.

    Karin Jones’ ROM exhibition “undresses” racial identity

    The silhouette is iconic: a stiffly corseted waist, a high collar, a generous bustle at the rear. From Jane Austen characters to Cinderella to modern-day brides, the Victorian-style dress has symbolized wealth and beauty for over a century. In a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum, however, VCC alumna and Jewellery Art & Design instructor Karin Jones is putting this classic figure in a whole new light.

    Jones’ contemporary art installation, Worn: Shaping Black Feminine Identity, is the first work in Of Africa, a three-year multiplatform project meant to pay homage to African themes and artists in Canada. The piece is a black, Victorian-era mourning dress, a symbol of both high culture and sadness in late 19th century Europe. Instead of cloth, however, Jones has woven the dress entirely from the synthetic braids used in popular African hairstyles. Scattered beneath the dress are bolls from a cotton plant, as well as a few that were crafted from the artist’s own hair.

    For Jones, this piece expresses her own complex identity as an African-Canadian. In her artist statement, she writes:

    “The work underlines African hairstyles as a craft as refined as any decorative art produced in Europe; it alludes to the invisible labour of the thousands of Africans who contributed to the wealth of the British Empire… [It’s] a mythic figure born of the cross-cultural forces of colonialism, commerce, and slavery. I wear my African-Canadian identity much as a Victorian woman would have worn this type of dress: proudly, but also uncomfortably, shaped but also constrained by it.”

    […]

    At first, it may seem like quite the leap to go from crafting intricate jewellery to weaving synthetic apparel, but for Jones, the progression was actually quite organic.

    As a jewellery designer, Jones already had an interest the social customs of beauty. As an African-Canadian, she also held a longstanding unease about the trend to suppress natural black hairstyles. Motivated to raise awareness about this through art, Jones was first attracted to traditional Victorian hair jewellery—another popular trend of the era.

    From there, she went on to learn weaving and lace-making techniques with the goal of recreating traditional European symbols of power, but from African-style braids. Eventually, in response to the ROM’s public call for its Of Africa series, Jones produced Worn, which has been extremely well-received.

    Worn: Shaping Black Feminine Identity will be shown until November 1, 2015 at the ROM’s Sigmund Samuel Gallery of Canada.

    I wish I could go.

    DeRay McKesson ’07, Among Fortune’s ‘Greatest Leaders,’ To Speak on Campus April 2 – that’s at Bowdoin.

    DeRay Mckesson ’07 has been at the epicenter of the firestorm emanating from Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by police there. With This Is The Moment, the award-winning online newsletter he co-founded, and his social media omnipresence, Mckesson earned a spot, along with the newsletter’s cofounder Johnetta Elzie, on Fortune‘s list of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.”

    Mckesson delivers the talk “Ferguson, Social Media and the Common Good” at 7 p.m. April 2, 2015, in Kresge Auditorium, Visual Arts Center.

    Family of Aiyana Stanley-Jones sues Detroit cop

    The family of Aiyana Stanley-Jones has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court against the Detroit police officer involved in a May 2010 raid that led to her shooting death.

    Named in the lawsuit filed by attorney Geoffrey Fieger are Officer Joseph Weekley, Robert Rowe, the Detroit Police Department, members of the department’s Special Response Team and the city of Detroit.

    The lawsuit alleges that Weekley and Rowe used excessive force, violated Aiyana’s civil rights and attempted to cover up circumstances surrounding the shooting. The family has requested a jury trial and is seeking damages of at least $75,000 in the filing in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

    “Defendants Joseph Weekly and Robert Rowe unlawfully seized Aiyana Stanley-Jones, used excessive force against her and unlawfully used deadly force thereby inflicting horrendous personal injuries and ultimately death from which certain damages naturally followed to the members of Aiyana Stanley-Jones family and/or estate,” the lawsuit said.

    Weekley’s attorney Steve Fishman could not be reached for comment.

    The lawsuit comes after the last charge against Weekley, a misdemeanor count of careless discharge causing injury or death, was dismissed in late January. His first trial for involuntary manslaughter and the misdemeanor count ended in a hung jury. His second trial on the misdemeanor count ended in a mistrial.

    When the misdemeanor count was dismissed in January, Fieger said he would proceed with a civil lawsuit case.

    I hope they win.

    Same story Tony had above, from DailyKos: 3 members of Florida Department of Corrections found to be in KKK; arrested for murder plot

    No need to pinch yourself, it really is 2015. According to the Orlando Sentinel:

    Two current and one former prison employee who all belonged to the KKK planned to kill a black inmate as he was released in retaliation for a fight, officials said Thursday.

    The three men — Thomas Jordan Driver, 25, David Elliot Morgan, 47, and 42-year-old Charles Thomas Newcomb — each were arrested Thursday on one state count of conspiracy to commit murder, according to a statement from Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office.

    In light of this, you must remember that a record 346 inmates died in Florida prisons last year—including men and women who were gassed to death, burned to death, and beaten to death, all by staff. It can be hard to really believe that we are in 2015, but this is absolutely our new normal.

    That last paragraph really puts this kind of plot into perspective – as in, it’s not an isolated case. Most likely.

    Justice for Luis Rodriguez, Killed by Police Employees in Moore, Oklahoma

    On February 15th, 2014 Luis F. Rodriguez was killed in the parking lot of the Warren Theater in Moore, Oklahoma.

    Will the men responsible – Ryan Minard, Joseph Bradley, and Brian Clarkston, employed at the Moore police outfit, and Tyler Howser and Chad Strang, employed at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation outfit, be held accountable?

    These unnecessary situations will continue to destroy lives, and negatively impact families and communities, until we each recognize that fact, and choose to withdraw our support and consent of them, and operate according to the fact that badges don’t grant extra rights.

  120. rq says

    Cosmo Used White Models For “Gorgeous” Trends And Black Models For Trends That Needed To “Die”

    Cosmopolitan has been heavily criticised over its choice of models in an online article about beauty trends in 2015.

    The online version of the magazine compared “gorgeous” fashion and beauty trends with those that needed to “die”.
    For the 21 trends that were “gorgeous”, every single photo used was of a white woman, apart from Nicole Richie who is bi-racial.

    For the trends that needed to “die”, almost a fifth were illustrated with a woman of colour. […]

    A 2014 report on diversity in fashion magazines found that white models were featured on covers five times more often than people of colour.

    “If these results prove anything, it’s that fashion continues to have a global diversity problem,” writer Jihan Forbes said in the report. “Fashion should represent beauty in all forms and it’s about time our magazines reflect that.”
    It’s not just the fashion industry that has been criticised for failing to be inclusive of people of colour and their beauty.

    Brands such as Dove have been called out for using questionable language on their products.

    In a statement about the label suggesting white skin was “normal”, a Dove spokersperson said: “In this case, there was an oversight from our team… as soon as our teams in Europe discovered this error, they began the process of relabeling the bottles.”

    BuzzFeed News has contacted the online version of Cosmopolitan and the writer of the piece for a comment.

    Over 100 People Were Killed by Police in March. Have Police Gotten the Post-Ferguson Memo Yet?

    Here’s a statistic for you: It’s been 31 days since the release of the White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing report, but the number of fatal police encounters is already over 100 and counting. That’s an average of more than three people killed each day in March by police in America.

    Too many of this month’s victims fit a profile we know all too well – unarmed men of color, some of whom have psychiatric disabilities. Victims like Charly Keunang in Los Angeles, California; Tony Robinson in Madison, Wisconsin; Anthony Hill in DeKalb County, Georgia; and Brandon Jones in Cleveland, Ohio; confirm that the problems with policing are national in scope.

    This isn’t a problem concentrated in a few rogue police departments. Even those police departments with the best of intentions need reform. Take, for example, last week’s Department of Justice report that Philadelphia police shot 400 people – over 80 percent African-American – in seven years. This is in a city where the police commissioner is an author of the very same White House task force report calling for police reform.

    So clearly we must do more than read – or even write – these reports. Report recommendations, several of which are adopted from ACLU recommendations, must be implemented. The task force report makes 63 recommendations, but let’s focus on just two. Neither one is novel, but both are critical to real police reform. […]

    As the ACLU explained to the task force, data collection and reporting is the easiest single thing any police department can do starting today. And it will offer the best depiction of what policing in the 21st century looks like.

    Both the ACLU and the task force recommend data collection on a range of police and citizen encounters – from stops and arrests to nonfatal and fatal police shootings. “Policies on use of force,” the task force writes, “should also require agencies to collect, maintain, and report data to the Federal Government on all officer-involved shootings, whether fatal or nonfatal, as well as any in-custody death.” And data must be inclusive not just of race and gender but disability as well.

    In order for local law enforcement to get serious about data collection, it may take the dangling of federal dollars. The recently enacted Death in Custody Act, which requires data collection on what the title suggests, is taking that approach by penalizing noncompliant agencies through Department of Justice funds. Earlier mandates around data collection – ones that allow law enforcement to voluntarily report data without penalty —aren’t working.

    The task force report – like so many others before it – has spelled out what’s needed for police reform. How many more reports or police shootings do we need before we get to work?

    Yesterday and day before I mentioned Mumia Abu-Jamal, whose family was not permitted to see him while in hospital. An Update on Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Condition

    Mumia’s wife and brother were allowed to see him separately for 30 minutes each late this morning. The mobilization worked. But our job is not yet done. On the morning of March 30, 2015 Mumia fainted in the prison and was taken to the ICU of a nearby clinic. His blood sugar count was dangerously high at 779. He was in a diabetic shock. For perspective: diabetic coma is 800. He is recovering slowly and still in ICU. His blood sugar is currently at 333.

    That Mumia had diabetes was a complete shock to all of us. For the last 3 months, he has been under medical care in the prison and diagnosed with eczema. And since he had three “comprehensive” blood tests since February, diabetes should have been diagnosed and treated accordingly. But it never was. Instead he has been subjected to hell by the prison medical system. In January Mumia was shaken out of a deep sleep by guards during count. For the infraction of not being awake during count he was punished for 2 weeks, without calls or yard. Deep trance-like sleep and lethargy were the first signs of the problem. In addition to the physical depletion produced by untreated diabetes, he was/is also dealing with a severe outbreak of eczema. He likened his skin to that of an elephant’s. It was raw, blistered and bloody all over. He was so sick that he was not taking visitors. The “meds” he was given for his skin produced an extreme adverse reaction. His skin swelled and ruptured and he was put in the prison infirmary for 2 weeks. There’s more, but the above point to negligence of the worse kind if not an outright attempt on Mumia’s life.

    We are demanding review of his case by outside doctors and…since the world is watching, we are calling for Mumia’s immediate release. It’s time to bring our brother home.

    These two very very brief visits by his immediate family were important. But the OUTRAGEOUS actions by the PA DOC continue. They are controlling the hospitals actions and LIMITING all information about his condition. Preventing the Mumia Abu-Jamal and his family from getting access to the critical information they need for his care. His family and lawyers still have very very little information about his treatment and his conditions. They are trying to limit additional visits. It was inhumane that his family continues to be limited in accessing and monitoring his condition and his health. Literally for 20 hours his family was in the Intensive Care ICU and were told nothing. Now that they have had a visit. They are attempting to speak with the doctors and get medical records.

    Gunmen kill more than 70 at university in Kenya. Let’s not keep this massacre out of public sight.

    In the attack, which turned into a hostage siege that continued into the evening at Garissa University College, masked militants separated Christian students from Muslims, and then gunned them down without mercy, survivors said. Others ran for their lives with bullets whistling through the air, and hundreds of students remained unaccounted for more than 11 hours after the bloodshed began.

    At least 79 people were wounded at the school 145 kilometers (90 miles) from the Somali border by the al-Qaida linked group, said Interior Minister Joseph Nkaissery, who gave the death toll of more than 70. A dusk-to-dawn curfew was ordered in Garissa and three nearby counties.

    Kenyan security forces cornered the gunmen in a dormitory, and President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a speech to the nation that the attackers were holding hostages.

    Ali Mohamud Rage, a spokesman for al-Shabab, said fighters from the Somalia-based extremist group were responsible. The al-Qaida-linked group has been blamed for a series of attacks, including the siege at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi in 2013 that killed 67 people, as well as other violence in northern Kenya.

    Police identified a possible mastermind of the attack as Mohammed Mohamud, who is alleged to lead al-Shabab’s cross-border raids into Kenya, and they posted a $220,000 bounty for him. Also known by the names Dulyadin and Gamadhere, he was a teacher at an Islamic religious school, or madrassa, and claimed responsibility for a bus attack in Makka, Kenya, in November that killed 28 people.

    One of the survivors of Thursday’s attack, Collins Wetangula, told The Associated Press he was preparing to take a shower when he heard gunshots coming from Tana dorm, which hosts both men and women, 150 meters (yards) away. The campus has six dorms and at least 887 students, he said.

    When he heard the gunshots, he locked himself and three roommates in their room, said Wetangula, who is vice chairman of the university’s student union.

    “All I could hear were footsteps and gunshots. Nobody was screaming because they thought this would lead the gunmen to know where they are,” he said.

    He added: “The gunmen were saying, ‘Sisi ni al-Shabab,'” — Swahili for “We are al-Shabab.”

    He heard the attackers arrive at his dormitory, open the doors and ask if the people who had hidden inside were Muslims or Christians.

    “If you were a Christian, you were shot on the spot,” he said. “With each blast of the gun, I thought I was going to die.”

    The gunmen then started shooting rapidly, as if exchanging fire, Wetangula said.

    “The next thing, we saw people in military uniform through the window of the back of our rooms who identified themselves as the Kenyan military,” he said. The soldiers took him and around 20 others to safety.

    More at the link.
    And just…

    New York Times on the same, higher death toll. Shabab Attack on a Kenya University Kills 147, Officials Say.

    The @LAPDHQ shot/killed Steven Washington. That’s his mother. Was fully autistic. Completely unarmed. Face blown off .

  121. rq says

    Just FYI, that last little bit about Steven Washington is from 2010, with the idea that this is not a new issue, not a new problem… and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better.
    I guess I don’t have to explain that to anyone here, at any rate.

    Another old one. More of this please. Pittsburgh police chief Cameron McLay, holding sign saying “I resolve to challenge racism at work #End White Silence”.

    The Petty Etiquette of Discrimination

    “In its everyday operation,” sociologist James Loewen wrote, “segregation consists of a pervasive system of etiquette.”

    That’s a counter-intuitive definition. Discrimination, especially the pervasive discrimination of the Jim Crow era, tends to be remembered as a matter of violence, not as a matter of manners. Jim Crow involved lynchings, beatings, and the KKK—politeness and etiquette seems like secondary matters at best. And yet politeness and violence are in fact intertwined and inseparable. Segregation was accomplished through an elaborate system of norms about when black and white people could meet, and how they could interact.

    “Biracial segregation forms a complete set of definitions, expressing and codifying the relationship of dominance and subservience,” Loewen argues. This is ultimately enforced by laws and violence, when necessary—but often it’s more subtle, involving disapprobation, disapproving looks, cutting remarks, and (as Mark Twain described in Huck Finn) internalized shame. Institutionalized hatred is not just formal large-scale violence or legal rules. It is also the small-scale sneers and corrections and social coercion which normalize and justify that violence. Discrimination is, in brief, petty stuff. It’s etiquette.

    Trevor Noah is currently mired in a welter of petty stuff. Noah, a black South African comedian, was picked to succeed Jon Stewart at the helm of The Daily Show. Shortly thereafter, the internet unearthed a number of tweets in which Noah made anti-Semitic and misogynist jokes.

    I should probably put that word “jokes” in quotes; the tweets are little more than tedious ritualized restating of stereotypes: Jewish people are rich, “fat chicks” are unattractive. Still, no matter how unfunny they are, a couple of bad social media jokes are only a couple of bad social media jokes. Compared to actual apartheid (which was abolished during Noah’s lifetime) they seem relatively minor. Elahe Izadi at The Washington Post points out that “the handful of tweets that have Trevor Noah in the hot seat represent less than one percent of Noah’s entire Twitter output.” Comedians sometimes make bad jokes. If Noah stumbled into stereotypes on a few occasions—well, people make mistakes. Do we really need to make a big deal about it?

    I certainly don’t think Noah should be fired. But I think it’s appropriate to criticize him for his public statements. Yes, it’s petty to call him out over a handful of tweets—but society, as a web of interpersonal relationships, norms, and small daily interactions, is, again, built around petty stuff. Women have their physical appearance policed, not through violence, but through offhand comments and shaming. When Noah writes, “’Oh yeah the weekend. People are gonna get drunk & think that I’m sexy!’ – fat chicks everywhere”—that’s not just a joke. It’s part of a system of norms that says that guys have a right to comment on women’s bodies and to sneer at them for being insufficiently sexual, or too sexual, or unattractive, or too attractive, or for expressing sexual desire, or for not expressing sexual desire.

    The joke, in other words, is part of an etiquette, or ties into an etiquette, whereby women in public are supposed to feel ashamed for being women. Discrimination, stigma, and sexism—like segregation—function through small-bore norms, which determine what you can wear, or think, or feel, without being jostled, censured, or shamed. […]

    Again, the issue here is not necessarily a legal one, since the legal issues are murky. It’s symbolic. But symbols matter—or, to put it another way, social signaling matters. Prejudice and discrimination are validated and enforced in no small part through interpersonal, intercommunal understandings of what behavior is acceptable and what behavior isn’t. Ending prejudice and discrimination means changing those understandings. At one point, Jews and gay people were seen as unpleasant and ridiculous. Associating with them was shameful. Now, to some degree and at some times, at least, discrimination against those groups is itself deemed unpleasant, ridiculous, and shameful. Changing the world sometimes involves repealing unjust laws. Just as often, though, it happens by changing the small, petty interactions that make up our daily lives.

    I thought it might compare Noah with white comedians who have said terrible shit in terms of treatment, but that’s probably for another time. Annnnyway, all kinds of people are assholes. And being knowledgeable about one kind of discrimination doesn’t make one good at all of them.

    Equal Justice Initiative Wins Release of Anthony Ray Hinton – that’s a good news!

    Anthony Ray Hinton, one of the longest serving death row prisoners in Alabama history and among the longest serving condemned prisoners to be freed after presenting evidence of innocence, will be released tomorrow after Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Laura Petro granted the State’s motion to dismiss the charges against him.

    Mr. Hinton spent 30 years on death row for a crime he did not commit.

    Thirty years ago, Mr. Hinton was arrested and charged with two capital murders based solely on the assertion that a revolver taken from his mother’s home was the gun used in both murders and in a third uncharged crime. EJI attorneys engaged three of the nation’s top firearms examiners who testified in 2002 that the revolver could not be matched to crime evidence. State prosecutors never questioned the new findings but nontheless refused to re-examine the case or concede error. After another 12 years of litigation, the United States Supreme Court reversed lower court rulings in 2014, and Judge Petro granted him a new trial. She entered an Order of Nolle Prosequi today after the State informed the court that forensic scientists with the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences have tested the evidence and confirmed the prior testing which revealed the crime bullets cannot be matched to the Hinton weapon.

    After 30 years in custody for crimes he did not commit, Mr. Hinton’s release is bittersweet. “We are thrilled that Mr. Hinton will finally be released because he has unnecessarily spent years on Alabama’s death row when evidence of his innocence was clearly presented,” said his lead attorney, Bryan Stevenson. “The refusal of state prosecutors to re-examine this case despite persuasive and reliable evidence of innocence is disappointing and troubling.” […]

    “Race, poverty, inadequate legal assistance, and prosecutorial indifference to innocence conspired to create a textbook example of injustice,” Mr. Stevenson said. “I can’t think of a case that more urgently dramatizes the need for reform than what has happened to Anthony Ray Hinton.”

    More details on that lawsuit brought by Aiyana’s family: Lawsuit Alleges Police Cover-Up In Fatal Shooting Of Sleeping 7-Year-Old Aiyana Stanley-Jones

    The lawsuit disputes Weekley’s version of events, alleging that the grenade went through the window and struck Aiyana. Then, the suit says, police “blindly fired random shots” from outside the home, with one of the bullets fatally striking Aiyana in the neck.

    Officials have said Weekley was first through the door. According to the complaint, he “rushed into the house and made physical contact [with Mertilla Jones] in an intentional cover-up conspiracy to hide what happened.”

    The suit accuses Weekley and Rowe of excessive force and/or unlawful use of deadly force. It further accuses the city, police department and the unnamed supervisors of the Special Response Team with violating Aiyana’s civil rights through policies and training; all defendants are accused of conspiracy:

    Upon Defendants realizing that they had critically injured the seven-year-old girl, they intentionally conspired to cover-up their unlawful acts by providing false and fictitious information to the authorities and to the media regarding the shooting of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, including falsely claiming that the bullet that killed her was fired from inside the lower unit of the duplex rather than from the outside, and that the discharge of the firearm was the result of a physical struggle between Mertilla Jones, Aiyana’s grandmother and the Defendant members of the Detroit Police Special Response Team. Defendant acted in concert to cover-up the facts and circumstances of the fatal shooting of Aiyana Stanley-Jones. As soon as Defendants realize that they had entered the wrong unit of the duplex and had burned, shot and mortally wounded the innocent seven year old Aiyana StanleyJones, they mutually, either tacitly or overtly, agreed to commence a conspiracy to coverup the facts of what they had done.

    A police spokeswoman declined to comment on the litigation as a matter of policy, and the city did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    The lawsuit lists Aiyana’s mother, Dominika Jones, and Erica Moore, representative of Aiyana’s estate, as plaintiffs. The family requested a jury trial and is seeking $7.5 million in damages, according to the court filing.

    The botched raid drew additional scrutiny to the Detroit Police Department, because it was filmed for a reality television show. A crew for the A&E show “The First 48,” which follows murder investigations, caught the beginning of the raid on tape. Critics have questioned whether the filming affected how police executed the search warrant, suggesting it influenced the decision to go at night and use a flash-bang grenade.

    Of course, it looks better on camera.

  122. rq says

    I would justl ike to bring to your attention a case in Canada, where certain groups of people (in this case, Native Americans) have trouble getting the justice that they deserve. Cindy Gladue case sends a devastating message to Aboriginal women

    Thirty-six year-old Cindy Gladue, died in an Edmonton hotel room in June, 2011. She bled to death, her body was found in the bathtub. Charged in the case was a truck driver, from Ontario — Bradley Barton. Earlier this month Mr. Barton was found not guilty of first-degree murder, as well as of manslaughter. It’s a decision that has given way to outrage among women’s rights activists.

    Critics say the trial itself would have gone much differently if the victim hadn’t been an aboriginal woman, and a sex worker, and if the jury hearing the case hadn’t been entirely non-native. Also something unprecedented happened in the course of the trial.

    That something unprecedented: they used a preserved part of Cindy Gladue’s own body as a piece of evidence. Not photos, not reports, the actual piece of her body. … And that bit about the entire jury being non-native, that… would have been the least they could have done.

    US to UN Human Rights Committee: Move Along, Nothing to See Here

    Yesterday the United States gave the U.N. Human Rights Committee its one year follow-up report on progress made to implement four priority recommendations made by the committee a year ago. The independent human rights experts had reviewed the United States’ compliance with a major human rights treaty, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). They found the U.S. coming up short in many areas, including accountability for torture, privacy and surveillance, Guantánamo, and gun violence.

    Yesterday’s disappointing 15-page submission does provide some information on Justice Department investigations regarding police misconduct, including the recent Ferguson report. But, there was nothing on accountability measures taken in the aftermath of the release of the Senate report on the CIA torture program. The need for Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor remains as glaring as ever.

    The submission notes that the Senate report’s 500-page executive summary was “declassified with minimal redactions to protect national security,” but it failed to commit to release the entire report (which the ACLU is currently fighting for in a FOIA lawsuit). And while the submission states that the U.S. “supports transparency and has taken steps to ensure that it never resorts to the use of those [harsh interrogation] techniques again,” there is no mention of any concrete actions taken to criminally investigate CIA torture, especially in light of the new information made public in the report about the brutality of the CIA’s methods, and its lies to Congress, the media, and the public about its torture program.

    Under the ICCPR and the Convention Against Torture, the U.S. has an obligation to effectively, independently, and impartially investigate all cases of unlawful killing or torture, as well as arbitrary detention or enforced disappearance. The U.S. also has an international legal obligation to appropriately prosecute perpetrators – including high-level policymakers. […]

    The ACLU and other human rights groups have until May 1st to submit “shadow reports” to the Human Rights Committee, which will subsequently assess and grade U.S. implementation of the key priority recommendations. The Obama administration can still avoid a low grade by responding to domestic and international calls to appoint a special prosecutor to conduct a comprehensive criminal investigation of the tactics described in the Senate torture report, including all acts authorizing or ordering acts of torture and other abuses and provide redress to victims of torture.

    Well I don’t feel that the USAmerica is going to get particularly high marks this year.

    Okay because we all need some laughs, here’s an example of community policing done right: Isles of Scilly Police Facebook page (accessible without logging in).
    And alright, I don’t actually know if they do community policing right, but there facebook page certainly sounds like they do. And yeah, I know they’re a small force in a small community. Still.

  123. rq says

    Okay kinda rushing through these as I’m racing a train but I want to clear out the tabs before I head out – update attempts will be made, but I don’t know how reliable the new country internet is, or how many hours I will have to spend, but they will. So. I’m glad there aren’t TOO many links.

    #FloydDent protest in #Inkster @takeonhate #NAN #BLMDetroit #BlackLivesMatter
    The #BLMDetroit marshal team demonstrates how to #ServeAndProtect the people. #FloydDent march #Inkster

    Welcome To Normandy, One Of The Many Fergusons You’ve Never Heard Of

    Normandy isn’t Ferguson. But Ferguson’s neighboring municipalities in St. Louis County share many of the same issues. While Ferguson’s April 7 municipal election to replace half of the city council has received national attention and intense interest from outside organizations, hardly anyone is paying attention to elections the same day in Normandy and other St. Louis County towns.

    The 100 or so people — every one of them black — who had to report to Normandy municipal court on Wednesday evening probably wish there was more interest. Even in St. Louis County — where Ferguson and many of the other small cities use their police departments and municipal courts to raise revenue — Normandy sticks out. The city brings in a shocking 40 percent of its general revenue from fines and fees — one of the highest percentages in St. Louis County.

    Normandy Mayor Patrick Green recently claimed the municipal court system actually loses money — if you include expenses for the entire police department. Green said he considers an effort by the Missouri state legislature to limit traffic ticket revenue an attack on Normandy and its officers.

    “It’s an insult to this community and its police force,” Green said. “Our police aren’t out there ‘producing revenue.’ They are out there fighting crime.”

    Monique Abby, a black lawyer who lives in Ferguson, was filling in as acting municipal judge in Normandy this week. That’s because the former judge, Charles Kirksey, stepped down last month after a local news station revealed that he owed more than $100,000 in back taxes and had admitted to a “pattern of misconduct” in his private practice.

    Inside the quiet courtroom, there appeared to be no prosecutor. People gasped and shook their heads as they heard how much money some of the defendants owed.

    In Ferguson, one of the first changes the city made to its municipal court system after protests following the police killing of Michael Brown in August was to eliminate the fine for “failure to appear,” which could quickly mount for defendants who missed court dates for minor tickets. But in Normandy, so-called FTAs — failure to appears — remain a nice way to pad the city coffers: $100 each, plus $26.50 in court costs for each charge.

    That meant penalties for some defendants could have topped the $1,000 maximum that municipal courts are allowed to impose. The judge dropped some charges for defendants who owed the most money, but some still had to pay as much as $800. While the U.S. Justice Department’s report on Ferguson’s municipal court recommended the city accept partial payments, Normandy refuses to accept payments of less than $100 per month.

    Harry Turner, 35, of St. Louis, said he’s been to Normandy court more than twice, each time in connection with traffic violations. Turner was pulled over in a nearby municipality because he allegedly had a license plate bulb out. The officer arrested him because he owed Normandy money, and the city issued a warrant for his arrest after he missed court. He had to post a $500 bond to get out of jail.

    “Court costs are too high — especially, for those of us who are trying to make our payments,” Turner said. “I feel like a lot of municipalities are here for revenue. I don’t think they’re here to clean the streets up.” […]

    Normandy defending a lawsuit filed by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, who contends the town is violating a state law that limits revenue that municipalities can derive from traffic fines and court costs to 30 percent of the budget.

    Despite Normandy’s problems, there seems little interest in Tuesday’s election. Most of the candidates didn’t even bother to respond to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for its voters’ guide.

    Half of the city council’s eight seats are up for election, and all but one of the incumbents who are running face an opponent. Some of the council members said in interviews that their city is much different from Ferguson and they weren’t inclined to make changes.

    Bob Reid, a white member of the city council who isn’t up for re-election until next year, said he hadn’t read the Justice Department’s Ferguson report in its entirety. But he praised Normandy’s community policing. “I think that’s a little different from Ferguson,” Reid said.

    Terry Gannon, a white woman who represents Normandy’s Ward 3, is unopposed in the election. She said Normandy was “very different” from Ferguson.

    “We have a certified police department. We have community policing. We have a balanced budget and an auditor,” Gannon said in an interview. “We have a city council meeting with our auditor every quarter and go over finances in detail. We’re nothing like Ferguson.”

    Albany man dies after police use Taser gun in struggle. Yesterday.

    City police are investigating the circumstances that led to the death of a mentally ill man who was shocked with a Taser following a confrontation with three officers after they stopped him early Thursday as he walked on an Arbor Hill street.

    The family of Donald “Dontay” Ivy, 39, described him as a paranoid schizophrenic they said suffered from heart problems. His relatives waited for answers later in the day about the death of a man they said was quiet and introverted as they gathered outside their Second Street residence, several blocks from where the incident unfolded.

    Police said Ivy fought with the officers, Michael Mahany, Joshua Sears and Charles Skinkle, at Lark and Second streets and led them on a brief foot chase. The officers started performing CPR on Ivy 11 minutes after the confrontation began at 12:36 a.m., according to a police spokesman.

    Police leaders have not said why the officers confronted Ivy or how many times he was struck with a Taser. Ivy was pronounced dead at Albany Medical Center Hospital after he arrived in an ambulance at 1:10 a.m., a spokesman said.

    Acting Police Chief Brendan Cox, who took over the department last Friday following the retirement of Chief Steven Krokoff, said an autopsy was conducted but he declined to discuss the findings, saying the medical examiner still has work to do. The results of a toxicology test that may show whether there were any drugs or alcohol in Ivy’s system could takes weeks to process.

    No weapons were found on Ivy, Cox said, and the department is examining what led up to the officers approaching Ivy. The three officers were placed on administrative leave while the internal review unfolds.

    Three officers, one mentally ill man and a Taser. Instant death.

    Phoenix Cop Who Killed Unarmed Black Man Won’t Face Charges

    No criminal charges will be filed against a white Phoenix police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man in December during what authorities described as a struggle, county prosecutors said on Wednesday.

    Prosecutors found that Officer Mark Rine was justified in using deadly force against Rumain Brisbon, said Jerry Cobb, a Maricopa County attorney spokesman.

    The shooting aroused community outrage and brought protests seen nationwide to the streets of Phoenix.

    Cobb said the shooting was within Arizona law governing such conduct, but was unaware of the specific findings of the incident review.

    Police have said that Brisbon, 34, was shot and killed on Dec. 2 as he struggled with Rine, who suspected he was selling drugs and mistakenly believed that he felt the handle of a gun in the man’s pocket.

    It was later learned that Brisbon was actually carrying a pill bottle in the struggle outside an apartment complex in Phoenix.

    Marci Kratter, the attorney for Brisbon’s family, said she was not surprised that Rine will not be held accountable.

    “There was no investigation,” Kratter said. “They were certainly not interested in finding out what the truth was.”

    Kratter said the family plans to pursue further legal action.

    County Attorney Bill Montgomery told a local newspaper that the seven-year veteran officer had a “reasonable fear for his life” after Brisbon failed to obey police directives and acted like he possessed a weapon.

    Fear! For his life! Because! Fear! Instant death!

    Florida Jailhouse Guards Arrested in KKK Murder Plot

    Thursday’s arrest came after an investigation that appears, judging from redacted affidavits signed by FBI agents involved in the case, to have been built on testimony from a mole inside the Florida KKK. The FBI’s informant is never named.

    A statement from the Florida Attorney General’s office lists multiple law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation, including the Florida Highway Patrol and Florida Fish and Wildlife. A spokeswoman for the FBI’s Jacksonville Division confirmed that her office initiated and spearheaded the investigation but added, “there were a lot of agencies that participated.”

    The murder plot came to the attention of law enforcement started at a Klan meeting in late 2014. That’s where Moran and Newcomb introduced Driver to an FBI confidential informant posing as a KKK member, according to court documents. The purpose of that meeting, judging by the conversation that follows in the affidavit, was to arrange a killing.

    “The defendants plotted the murder as retaliation for a fight between the inmate, who is African American, and Driver,” according to a press release from the state’s Attorney General’s office. Conversations between the men involved and the FBI informant shed more light on the motivations involved. Driver appeared to be carrying a vendetta since getting into a fight with the inmate, who he said bit him during the altercation with the intent of giving him a fatal disease.

    According to the FBI