Monday, October 12, 2015

Assessing the Justice or Else March

The people marched for Walter Scott, Sam DuBose. Rekia Boyd, Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Jonathan Ferrell, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and other countless victims of police brutality and racist violence.

We are sick and tired of the police killing unarmed black people. We are sick and tired of the courts allowing the killers to strut free. Enough is enough. That is why hundreds of thousands of people came to Washington.  The March sent a powerful message to police departments, mayors, governors and other elected officials all around this nation. We are out of patience. We are not going to take it anymore. The Justice or Else March was a beautiful display of righteous indignation decorated with fiery speeches and moving songs.

No one is personifies that rage more eloquently than Minister Louis Farrakhan. The success of March is clear indication that his message resonates with the masses. It is a living testimony to Farrakhan's prowess as a leader. Unlike many other black leaders, he does not have to tone down his message to appease corporate donors and white liberal supporters. He is not beholden to the Democrats or the Republicans. He is a free black man.  He is manhood. He is courage. He is unafraid of the establishment. He speaks boldly and powerfully without wavering and without hesitation. Despite our ideological, theological and political differences, that is why we support brother Farrakhan. He speaks to our anger and frustration. He forcefully condemns the system that has failed us.

Anger is a commanding mobilizing tool. However, anger alone is not an effective organizing tool. Organization must be focused and results oriented. Like the Million Man March 20 years ago, the Justice or Else March had no legislative agenda. The brother gathered hundreds of thousands of black people to Nation's Capital during a Presidential election and presented no legislative agenda. Unfortunately, the March squandered a good opportunity to do so.

During his speech, Minister Farrakhan expressed a deep seated pessimism toward the Congress. He understandably questioned the federal government's ability to render justice and affect change. The minister made antiquated and fantastical calls for separatism. He compared the federal government to the pharaoh in the Bible and spoke of the need for a black exodus. Although that language is pleasing to the ears of the outraged, it is not a practical, probable or immediate solution to our current problems.

Our sweat, our blood, our tears, our history and our very lives are interwoven into the fabric of America. We are not going to any imaginary black utopia. Instead running away to some mystic black fantasy island, lets seize control over the communities and cities under our feet. In words of Malcolm, we must control the politics and the economy of our communities. Despite the continuing problems of police brutality and racism, this is a different era. We have many black mayors, city council members, state representatives, Congress members and black Senators. Today, pharaoh is not some evil "white devil." He is a moderate black man with a Muslim name. Whether one is willing to acknowledge it or not, that black pharaoh has helped pass laws that benefit black people. Maybe not as forcefully as we would like, that black pharaoh has spoken out against police brutality.

U.S. Representative Danny K. Davis, a black man, helped pass a resolution allowing the Nation of Islam to hold the Justice or Else March. Why not work with that same congressman to pass the Federal End Racial Profiling Act and other laws to designed to combat police brutality? As a result of mass mobilization, organization and vigilant struggle, the Congress that passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, the Fair Housing Act and many other laws that ended Jim Crow in this country. Such laws brought about substantial progress and change in this country. Why not pressure Congress today? With proper organization, we will have the ability to affect change.

Hopefully, the organizers of the Justice or Else March will develop and/or embrace a modern day legislative agenda to address our modern day problems. Perhaps, Farrakhan did that when he met with black professionals after the March. After the agenda has been formulated, it must be pushed and passed. Otherwise, like a rock concert or circus, the March will have been just another feel good moment, producing absolutely nothing of substance. We do not need good moments. We need change.

We must end police brutality and racial profiling. Otherwise, there will be more Fergusons and more Baltimores. As one of the speakers said at the March, Ferguson will be "or Else."

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Dr. Ben Carson and the GOP Hate Olympics

"I was out-niggered, and I will never be out-niggered again." George Wallace

The GOP Presidential Primary has degenerated into the Hate Olympics. In the words of segregationist George Wallace, the top candidates are now trying to "out-nigger" each other. Today, the new niggers are the Muslims and the immigrants. Candidates are rewarded for displaying the most acrimony towards the new niggers.

For instance, Donald Trump catapulted to the top of the field by bashing Mexican immigrants. As reported on NPR, he stated that:
"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're sending people that have lots of problems. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists, and some, I assume, are good people."
Every since he uttered that racist and hateful statement, he has been leading on all of the major polls. His campaign is fueled by bigotry, sexism, nastiness and mean spirited attitudes. Instead being hurt by his sexist insults directed towards women news analysts and women politicians, grunting GOP Neanderthals continue to flock to Trump like sheep.

In order to compete with Trump, Dr. Ben Carson is placating the GOP's xenophobic, blood thirsty vampires by throwing them a new food source to devour, Muslims. As religious scholar Reza Aslan noted on CNN and as stated on the AP,
Carson’s campaign reported strong fundraising and more than 100,000 new Facebook friends in the 24 hours after he told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.”

His campaign manager Barry Bennett told The Associated Press on Monday: “While the left wing is huffing and puffing over it, Republican primary voters are with us at least 80-20.”

“People in Iowa particularly, are like, ‘Yeah! We’re not going to vote for a Muslim either,” Bennett said. “I don’t mind the hubbub. It’s not hurting us, that’s for sure.”
Like sex, hate sells. Despite his soft spoken nature and gentle image, Dr. Carson is now pandering to hate and bigotry. Similar to Donald Trump, Dr. Carson is catering to racist birthers. He is shining the shoes of right wing imbeciles who suffer from cognitive dissonance. Contrary to all of the evidence, those fools continue to believe that Obama is an uncover Muslim from Kenya. Like Mantan in Spike Lee's Bamboozled, Dr. Carson is tap dancing to the tune of those who bigots.

Even brash and outspoken Trump remained silent when a member of his audience falsely said that the Obama is a Muslim. Trump remained silent because he realizes that you cannot win the Hate Olympics by speaking out against the haters. To win, one appease them. The haters are not governed by logic and reason. They are governed by enmity towards those who are different.

Islamophobia is illogical. Islamophobia relies on hasty generalizations. Terrorists and radical fundamentalists are only a small minority of the Muslim population. It is wrong to condemn and discriminate against an entire religion based on the extremist actions of a few of its purported adherents. Most American Muslims are law abiding, patriotic citizens who love American democratic values. They proudly serve in America's military and in Congress.  Islamophobia is analogous to racial profiling and anti-Semitism.

For example, just because some black people sell drugs and kill people, one should not assume that most black people do. The negative actions of a few do not justify stopping and frisking thousands innocent, law abiding black people. It does not justify an employer refusing to hire or appoint black people. Similarly, the actions of small segment of the Muslim population does not justify discrimination against innocent Muslims. As an African American, Dr. Carson should understand that. Moreover, many Muslims such Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Muhammad Ali, Mos Def and myself are African Americans. By discriminating against Muslims, he is also discriminating against his own black people.

Dr. Carson and others cloak their grotesque animus under the beautiful red, white and blue robes of patriotism. A true patriot believes in upholding and protecting the U.S. Constitution. Article 6 of the Constitution states that:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. (Emphasis added)
By supporting a religious test for the Presidency, Dr. Carson is shredding on the very Constitution that he professes to love. He is trashing the noble ideals of American democracy. If he made the same rancorous statements about Jews, Baptists, Catholics, Methodists and any other religious group, he would have been forced to withdraw from the campaign. Sadly, due to media programming, animosity towards Muslims is widely accepted in this society.

Unfortunately, reason and logic do not matter win you are striving to win the Hate Olympics by out-niggering your opponents. Dr. Carson will never win that contest. In the eyes of many of the Islamophobes, Dr. Carson is just another nigger. A black man will never be able out-nigger a white man.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Freddie Gray Case Will Be Tried in Baltimore

The Baltimore Sun reports that:
A Baltimore Circuit Court judge ruled Thursday that the trials of six police officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray will stay in Baltimore, saying the defense had failed to prove that the officers cannot receive a fair trial in the city.

Judge Barry Williams said it was premature to conclude the jury pool was tainted, and that potential jurors should be first screened. His comments left open the possibility that the trial could still be moved if that process is unsuccessful.

"The citizens of Baltimore are not monolithic," Williams said in his ruling. "They think for themselves."
Read more here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Freddie Gray's Family Reaches A $6.4 million Settlement With the City

The Baltimore Sun states that:
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's decision to pay Freddie Gray's family a $6.4 million civil settlement drew praise and criticism Tuesday, with some Baltimore leaders saying the move will help heal the city and others calling it premature.

Former Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said the settlement — expected to be approved Wednesday by the city's spending panel — was a "very positive development for the city."

"The mayor and her staff are trying to do all they can to heal the wounds in the community, and this is a step in the right direction," said Schmoke, president of the University of Baltimore. "This settlement will give some people in the community at least some sense of justice."

Del. Curt Anderson, a Baltimore Democrat, rejected the idea that the settlement could help bring peace to the city. Baltimore will be calm when there is "justice for Freddie Gray," he said. That means "trials, well reported, well attended, and decisions that were well reasoned as a result. I am not seeing any signs out there saying, 'Freddie Gray's family needs a payday.' I see signs that say, 'Justice for Freddie Gray.'"

Anderson said that he's not opposed to Gray's family being compensated, but that it's too early to know what amount is appropriate. "I am not sure how much time the city law department has had to look at the strengths and weaknesses of the case against the city when no case has even been filed," he said.

Under the proposed settlement, the city is accepting all civil liability in the April arrest and death of the 25-year-old Gray, who suffered a spinal injury while in police custody. The city does not acknowledge any wrongdoing by police, according to a statement from Rawlings-Blake.
This agreement is a significant step towards justice. It is a significant victory for the Gray family and the people of Baltimore. However, we must remain focused and vigilant. We must continue to fight until the practices that led to Freddie Gray's death end. We must struggle until Freddie Gray's killers are tried and convicted.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

New Developments in the Freddie Gray Case

The Baltimore Sun reports that:
Circuit court judge on Wednesday ruled that the case against six Baltimore police officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray will go forward in separate trials, with Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby remaining at the helm of the prosecution.

During a day of hearings in a downtown courtroom, Judge Barry Williams swiftly sliced through complex legal arguments in the first motions hearing. In three key rulings issued from the bench, he refused to dismiss the charges or recuse Mosby and decided the case should be split to ensure each officer gets a fair trial.

Williams said that trying the officers together would not be "in the interest of justice" because key evidence that's admissible with regards to one officer may be inadmissible for another. The officers are charged with a range of offenses, from murder to misconduct, as each played a different role in Gray's arrest and transport.

The case has sparked widespread protests in Baltimore — that continued Wednesday — and become part of a national dialogue about police treatment of black citizens. Gray, 25, died in April one week after suffering a severe spinal cord injury while in police custody.

Outside the courtroom, dozens of protesters gathered in peaceful demonstrations and marches through downtown that resulted in one arrest and snarled traffic. Even at this early stage of the court proceedings, organizers said they wanted their voices heard.

Good morning, family. Justice for Freddie Gray!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

In Defense of Black Lives Matter

There is a war on Black Lives Matters. There is a deliberate effort to discredit and neutralize that progressive movement. The opposition has desperately tried to link the movement to the killing of Harris County Deputy Darren Goforth. The critics assert that the movement's rhetoric and slogans inspired the violence. Fox News described the movement as a "murder movement" and a "hate group."

There are two problems with such assertions. First of all, Black Lives Matter does not advocate violence against police. The opposition cannot point to any statements made by Black Lives leaders explicitly encouraging violence against law enforcement. If they had such proof, they would have repeatedly broad casted such statements on Fox News and other news stations.

The protest chants that Fox News did broadcast are ambiguous at best. By the way, the term "pig" is not a reference to all police officers. Pigs are police officers who abuse their authority and abuse the people. Pigs are those who unjustifiably harass, intimidate, humiliate, racially profile, beat and kill black people. Such criminals masquerading as police officers have earned our condemnation. Such condemnation is not the same as advocating indiscriminate violence against police.

Second, there is absolutely no connection between the movement and the killer. In fact, Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman acknowledged that he has no "details of a motive." There is no proof that alleged killer, Shannon J. Miles, was affiliated with the Black Lives Matters movement. There is no proof that he was inspired by the movement. Instead of blaming and condemning Black Lives Matter, the critics should blame and condemn the alleged killer, Shannon J. Miles.

In addition, people have attacked the slogan "Black Lives Matter." During his press conference, Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman said we should "drop the qualifiers" and say "lives matter." Obviously, the Movement is not saying that non-black lives do not matter. They are emphasizing black lives because American society devalues black lives. For example, police disproportionately target and kill black people. As reported on the Huffington Post,
Young black males in recent years were at a far greater risk of being shot dead by police than their white counterparts – 21 times greater, according to a ProPublica analysis of federally collected data on fatal police shootings.

The 1,217 deadly police shootings from 2010 to 2012 captured in the federal data show that blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police...

ProPublica's risk analysis on young males killed by police certainly seems to support what has been an article of faith in the African American community for decades: Blacks are being killed at disturbing rates when set against the rest of the American population.
Often, when the police kill black people, the police are not prosecuted. On the rare occasions when they are prosecuted, they are not convicted. For that reason, the emphasis on black lives is appropriate. Washington Post reports:
“To charge an officer in a fatal shooting, it takes something so egregious, so over the top that it cannot be explained in any rational way,” said Philip M. Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green who studies arrests of police. “It also has to be a case that prosecutors are willing to hang their reputation on.”

But even in these most extreme instances, the majority of the officers whose cases have been resolved have not been convicted, The Post analysis found.

And when they are convicted or plead guilty, they’ve tended to get little time behind bars, on average four years and sometimes only weeks. Jurors are very reluctant to punish police officers, tending to view them as guardians of order, according to prosecutors and defense lawyers...

Among the officers charged since 2005 for fatal shootings, more than three-quarters were white. Two-thirds of their victims were minorities, all but two of them black.

Nearly all other cases­ involved black officers who killed black victims. In one other instance, a Latino officer fatally shot a white person and in another an Asian officer killed a black person. There were a total of 49 victims.
Such alarming statistics regarding low prosecution rates and low conviction rates generate righteous black outrage. In light of the statistical disparities, it is simply ridiculous for Kelvin Jackson to dismiss the movement as "nonsense."

We have to understand that this is nothing new. The opposition often deploys Negro proxies to discredit the movement. Those black surrogates buffer claims of racism and add legitimacy to the racist opposition. They use official mouthpieces like Kevin Jackson and Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke to justify racial profiling and police brutality. Sheriff Clarke actually claimed that Black Lives Matter has weakened policing.

Police accountability does not weaken policing. Police do not have to resort to unjustified brutality in order to be effective.  Furthermore, racial profiling wastes resources by unnecessarily targeting innocent black and Latino people based solely on the color of their skin. Such resources should be devoted to targeting actual criminals. Racial profiling and police brutality undermine policing by breeding animosity and distrust in the black community. Without trust, the people are less likely to report crime, and they are less likely to cooperate with the police.

Not only does the opposition use official Negro spokespeople, they exploit gullible, uninformed African Americans on social media. When African Americans get on camera and attack the Black Lives Matter Movement and other prominent civil rights groups, the opposition and corporate media share, promote and make those videos go viral.  Such videos deflect away from police brutality and over emphasize so-called black-on-black violence. They focus on elements of so-called black dysfunction and virtually ignore the police brutality.  Police brutality and inner city violence are two completely separate issues. Those issues must be addressed separately. The suggestion that urban violence must end before we can address police brutality is absurd.

We must defend the Black Lives Matter movement. We should not allow anyone to label the movement as a hate group. In the words of Malcolm X, "a label can kill you." Remember the government labeled the original Black Panther Party ("BPP") as a hate group. While the larger black community just sat back and watched, BPP leaders and members were jailed and killed. We cannot allow that to happen Black Lives Matter. We must defend, protect and strengthen them.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Jonathan Ferrell's Life Does Not Matter

CNN reports that:
Prosecutors in North Carolina will not seek a retrial of a police officer charged in the shooting death of an unarmed man, according to a letter from the state attorney general's office.

Officer Randall Kerrick of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department was charged with voluntary manslaughter after he shot and killed Jonathan Ferrell, a college student and football player, in 2013.

A judge last week declared a mistrial after the jury could not reach a verdict.

Prosecutors made their decision after speaking with jurors from the original trial. They said they will submit paperwork for dismissal of the charge.

"In consideration of the jurors' comments, the evidence available to the State, and our background in criminal trials, it is our prosecutors' unanimous belief a retrial will not yield a different result," said the state attorney general's letter to the Mecklenburg County District Attorney's Office.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said at a new conference on Friday that he still stands by the decision to bring the case to trial.

"The loss of Jonathan Ferrell's life is a tragedy -- it should not have happened," Cooper said. "Our prosecutors have talked with Jonathan's mother about this decision. It was the right thing to bring this case before a jury and seek a conviction, but now we need to listen to what the jury said."
This is a disgrace. It is an act of cowardice. Instead of having the fortitude to retry the case, the prosecution caved under pressure like some weak chumps. The prosecution should have presented the case to a new jury and let the jury decide. In lieu of that, Attorney General Roy Cooper essentially decided the case for them.

Despite all of the pleasantries and phony expressions of concern, his message is loud and clear: Jonathan Ferrell's life does not matter. Black lives do not matter.  They never have, and probably, never will.  Now, another black man is dead, and another white killer cop walks free. In fact, Randall Kerrick will probably be rewarded for killing Jonathan Ferrell. Kerrick will probably receive thousands of dollars for interviews.

Unfortunately, we are to blame for this outcome as well. We allowed ourselves to be pacified by a grand jury indictment and a trial. We lost focus and fell asleep at our post. For a second, we were deluded. We actually thought that justice was in sight. We stopped protesting and blogging about this case.

With virtually no pressure from the public, it was easy for the prosecutor to decide not the pursue the case. The prosecutor made his announcement on a Friday for a reason. Sadly, many of our people are more concerned about going to the club than they are about pursuing justice. By Monday, it will be business as usual and no one will give a damn about our brother Jonathan Ferrell.