Sunday, December 21, 2014

All Life is Precious

The New York Post reports that:
Two uniformed NYPD officers were shot dead Saturday afternoon as they sat in their marked police car on a Brooklyn street corner — in what investigators believe was a crazed gunman’s ­assassination-style mission to avenge Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

"No warning, no provocation — they were quite simply assassinated, targeted for their uniform,” Police Commissioner William Bratton said.

Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were working overtime as part of an anti-terrorism drill in Bedford-Stuyvesant just before 3 p.m. when they were shot point-blank in the head by lone gunman Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, who had addresses in Georgia, Maryland and Brooklyn.

Moments after killing the two officers, Brinsley, too, was dead, having turned his gun on himself on a nearby subway platform as cops closed in.

Liu, 32, a newlywed of only two months, had seven years on the force; Ramos, 40, dad to two sons, had two years on the job.

Brinsley was already a fugitive, suspected of putting a bullet in his ex-girlfriend’s abdomen at her residence in Baltimore at 5:45 a.m. Saturday, Bratton said.

By early Saturday afternoon — just three hours before shooting Liu and Ramos — vile anti-police threats were posted to Brinsley’s Instagram page. The threats referenced the ­recent police-involved killings of Garner and Brown.

“I’m Putting Wings on Pigs Today,” a person believed to be the gunman wrote. “They Take 1 Of Ours . . . Let’s Take 2 of Theirs,” the post continued, ending with, “This May Be My Final Post.”

The Instagram page included an image of a silver automatic handgun with a wooden handle.

That gun matches the Taurus semiautomatic that police recovered from Brinsley. Another ­image showed the same camouflage pants and distinctive blue sneakers worn by the gunman as his body was carried from the scene on a stretcher.

“I Rather Die a Gangster Then Go To Sleep A Coward,” read ­another post.

The sickening missives used the hashtag #ShootThePolice, along with two other hashtags referencing Garner and Brown.

Police in Baltimore had reached out via a “warning flier” to alert NYPD that Brinsley might be en route to Brooklyn, but the fax tragically arrived at 2:45 p.m. — five minutes before the shooting, Bratton said. “The tragedy here was that just as the warning was coming in, the murder was occurring,” Bratton said.
I pray that God blesses and comforts the families of the victims. May God forgive them for their sins and bless with eternal peace. I strongly condemn Brinsley's heinous and cowardly crimes.

Ismaaiyl Brinsley was a suicidal, career criminal looking for a way to give the last moments of his pathetic life meaning. To do so, he latched on the movement like a blood sucking leech latches on to the leg of an unsuspecting host. He attempted to hijack the movement like the 9/11 terrorists hijacked the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center. Brinsley did not really act on behalf of the movement. His act was a sick, despicable, selfish, narcissistic act of desperation. This tragedy has absolute nothing to do with the movement.

In response to this tragedy, the police union blamed protesters and Mayor Bill de Blasio for the violence. CBS New York reports that:
“There’s blood on many hands tonight. Those that incited violence on the streets under the guise of protest that tried to tear down what NYPD officers did every day. We tried to warn it must not go on, it cannot be tolerated,” Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said. “That blood on the hands starts at City Hall in the office of the mayor.”

“Those who allowed this to happen will be held accountable,” he added.

The Sergeants Benevolent Association tweeted: “The blood of 2 executed police officers is on the hands of Mayor de Blasio. May God bless their families and may they rest in peace.”
Recently, in light of the death of Eric Garner and Mike Brown, Mayor De Blasio expressed a genuine concern about the safety of his biracial son . As you may know, activists have been marching in the streets of New York for weeks demanding justice of Eric Garner.

Instead of addressing the Mayor's and the community's concerns, NYPD cops literally turned their backs on the mayor and the community. Again, the police blamed activists and the Mayor for a crime that had nothing to do with them. The response of the police union is truly disgraceful. They are exploiting and pimping this tragedy to stifle, discredit and destroy the legitimate demands for justice. The overwhelming majority of protesters are nonviolent. Protest leaders such as Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and others have universally condemned Brinsley's senseless act of violence. His crime is not their fault.

Contrary to the assertions of the police union and others, the movement is not against all police officers. The movement is against police brutality and misconduct. All people of good will, including police officers, should oppose police brutality and misconduct as well. Such practices erode public trust and confidence. Police brutality and the failed criminal justice system breed fear, hatred and mistrust thereby making communities and police officers less safe.

When Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were killed, the NYPD and the nation mourned their loss and prayed for the families of the victims. They saluted the deceased for their bravery and sacrifice.  In the eyes of the NYPD and the nation, those officers lives were viewed as sacred and precious.

On the other hand, when Eric Garner was choked to death on camera, the police defended the killer. In the eyes of many police officers and citizens, Eric Garner's life simply did not matter. In America, black lives do not matter. If they did matter, we would not have to march around with signs stating that "#BlackLivesMatter".  Many view our lives are worthless, disposal and expendable. As far as they are concerned, a cigarette butt has more value. For some, the death of Eric Garner is a source of 

amusement, a punchline for kicks and giggles. To make mockery of the Eric Garner's death, some police officers wore "I Can Breathe" T-shirts. That is a disturbing display of their utter disregard for Mr. Garner's life and our lives.

All human life is precious. If the police valued all human life as much as they value their fellow officers' lives, there would be no police brutality. There would be no police harassment. Eric Garner, Mike Brown and countless others would still be alive. Instead of coddling and protecting killers, cops should stand up and prevent fellow officers from using excessive force. Instead, they adhere to a rigid and unjust blue code of silence.

Finally, in light of the police union's reaction, the movement should brace for increased police infiltration, provocation, harassment and brutality. We must be aware of agent provocateurs in our mist. Agent provocateurs are police informants who attempt to incite activists to engage in violence and other illegal activities. After inciting activists to engage in such illegality, the agent provocateurs entrap, imprison and discredit the activists.  Ultimately, the movement is discredited and neutralized.

We must stay focused. Our cause is righteous and just. We cannot rest until police brutality ends. Justice for Eric Garner, Mike Brown and everyone else.

Monday, December 15, 2014

This is A Movement, Not A Moment

The Washington Post reports that:
WASHINGTON — Demonstrators nationwide protesting the fatal shootings of unarmed black men killed by police chanted “I can’t breathe!” ‘’Hands up, don’t shoot!” and waved signs that read “Black lives matter!” as family members of three victims packed a stage in front of the U.S. Capitol, urging thousands of supportive marchers to keep pressing for changes to the criminal justice system.

The march in Washington on Saturday — attended by family members for Michael Brown and Eric Garner, who were killed by police in recent months, and Amadou Diallo, who was fatally shot by police more than 15 years ago — coincided with nationwide demonstrations that spanned from iconic Fifth Avenue in New York to the streets of San Francisco and the steps of the Boston Statehouse. Most were peaceful protests, although about two dozen people were arrested in the Massachusetts capital for disorderly conduct.

“My husband was a quiet man, but he’s making a lot of noise right now,” said Washington protest marcher Esaw Garner, widow of Eric Garner, 43, who died in July after being put in a chokehold by New York City police during an arrest for allegedly selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.

“His voice will be heard. I have five children in this world and we are fighting not just for him but for everybody’s future, for everybody’s past, for everybody’s present, and we need to make it strong.”

Nationally, chanting demonstrators also staged “die-ins” as they lay down across intersections and in one city briefly scuffled with police blocking an onramp to a highway.
For coverage of the entire March, visit

Battle tested civil rights veterans like Rev. Al Sharpton are still on the front lines of the struggle.  Also, there is a new vanguard of young people who are no longer waiting for saviors and leaders. They are seizing the time and organically developing their own organizations and leadership.  In cities around the country, young people of all races are marching in the streets and engaging in acts of defiance and civil disobediance. Despite the passage of time, the call for justice remains strong. This is a movement, not a moment.

We should be inspired by their courageous example. The time for spectators and armchair revolutionaries is over. Tweets, hashtags, blogs and Facebooks statuses are good, but they are no substitute for real grassroots activism. We will must get involved in the struggle. Justice for Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice and everyone else!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Alia Atkinson Makes History

The Root reports that:
Alia Atkinson made swimming history on Saturday by becoming the first black woman to win a world swimming title: the women’s 100 breaststroke at the world short-course championships in Doha, Qatar.

Atkinson, who swims for Jamaica, tied the world record with a time of 1 minute, 2.36 seconds, which, according to the standards of the international swimming governing body FINA, counts as its own record. Even Atkinson was surprised at her win.
Congratulations, Alia Atkinson! We are proud of you.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Black Athletes Take A Courageous Stand Against Police Brutality

"A time comes when silence is betrayal." Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Last week, despite irrefutable video evidence of an unjustifiable homicide, a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo for choking Eric Garner to death. The grand jury's message was loud and clear. They told the world that black life is worthless. They told the world that police have a license to kill black people with impunity. They told the world that it is open season on black people.

During Eric Garner's last seconds of life, he repeatedly said, "I can't breathe." Yet, the police officers remained on top of him and continued to hold him down on hard sidewalk. The brother's last words have become a rallying cry of today's human rights movement. Nationwide, a diverse group of young people are engaging in acts of civil disobedience to protest against injustice and police brutality. That movement has touched the world.

It has even penetrated an enclave that has been closed to politics for far too long, the sports arena. For decades, in the face of racism and injustice, most black athletes have remained silent. Despite all of their physical prowess, they have been rendered impotent like eunuchs when it comes to addressing black issues. They have sold their manhood and their souls for fame and fortune. For example, people like Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan "protect" their brands by avoiding discussion of any racial issues. By remaining silent, they have betrayed their people. 

Even worst than that, some like, Charles Barkley, have voluntarily played the role of mouthpieces for white supremacy. That imbecile actually tried to rationalize and justify police brutality and racial profiling.

However, there is a glimmer of hope. After weeks of negative press about black athletes abusing their wives, girlfriends and children, there is finally some positive news. At least for this brief moment, several famous athletes such as LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Reggie Bush, the Saint Louis Rams and others have finally taken a brave stand against injustice. They have expressed solidarity with the movement by wearing "I Can't Breathe" T-shirts. Some have taken a stand by making  the "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" gesture at games.  That gesture has been used as a symbol to demand justice for Mike Brown.

By engaging in such actions, those brothers are telling the world that the grand juries in Staten Island and Ferguson were dead wrong. Those are telling the world that those killer cops should have been indicted. Those brothers are telling the world that black lives do matter.

Many of those athletes were probably motivated in part by their own encounters with the police. Many of them have probably been stopped and harassed by police for driving an expensive car while black.Many of them have probably been stopped and harassed for being in a rich, white, gated community while black. They see themselves when they see Eric Garner and Mike Brown. They see their brothers, sons and nephews when they see Eric Garner and Mike Brown.

Celebrities have great influence. Unlike this blog which only reaches a few dozen people, these athletes reach millions. Obviously, wearing a T-shirt or making hand gestures is not going to end police brutality and racial profiling overnight. Nonetheless, it is an important step in the right direction. At the very least, such action helps further a much needed dialogue about racism and police brutality. Perhaps, it will inspire more young people to march and protest. Instead of using their brand to sell products, it is refreshing to see celebrities use their brands to demand justice.

I am proud of those athletes for continuing the legacy of brave people like Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown. I have much respect for each and every one of them. If any companies stop endorsing these brothers, we need to stop endorsing those companies.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hell Up in Ferguson Part 2

Good evening. Early this morning, I recorded and uploaded this YouTube video. In the video, I provide my response to the grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the senseless killing of Michael Brown. It is a good thing that I recorded the video the morning after the decision.  Otherwise, my video would have been even more fiery and controversial.

As I read and watch more news stories about the injustice in Ferguson, I become more and more angry. Despite all President Obama's rhetoric and beautiful symbolism, there is a strong possibility that no federal charges will ever be filed against Darren Wilson. That thought sickens me.

Black life simply has no value in America. It has been open season on black people for far too long. It is time for us to exercise our legal and moral right to self defense. Maybe then, the police will think twice before they kill another black teenager.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hell Up in Ferguson

"I don't want no peace. I need equal rights and justice." Peter Tosh

CNN reports that:
Ahead of a grand jury's decision on whether to indict a police officer in the killing of Michael Brown, Missouri has both called in the National Guard and diminished the role of the Ferguson Police Department.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency Monday as a precaution, he said, in the event of unrest or violence.
It's unknown when the grand jury will hand down a decision on whether to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for his fatal shooting of Brown, a teen. Prosecutors have suggested the grand jury would be done deliberating in mid- to late November.
At the national level, the FBI last week issued a bulletin to law enforcement urging vigilance in the days before the Ferguson grand jury decision, according to a law enforcement official. 
The bulletin did not cite any specific intelligence to suggest there was any ongoing threat to officers. It was based on what had occurred during previous protests.
Mike Brown is not just an individual. He is our son. He is our brother, flaws and all. For decades, police brutality has plagued the black community. For decades, our young men and women have been shot, beaten and strangled by the police. Every day, there is a new victim. Yesterday, it was Rodney King, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner and countless others. Today, it is Mike Brown. His brutal killing is a reminder of that long and continuing legacy of police oppression. Often, when white police officers kill or injure black people, the officers are not convicted.  They are free to kill and maim again. Our lives are declared worthless. Time and time again, we are denied justice. Unfortunately, it appears that Mike Brown case may be another example of such a denial.

Early on, the stage was set to deny justice for Mike Brown. The prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, has a strong bias in favor of law enforcement. According to CNN, Mr. McCulloch's father was a police officer. When McCulloch was 12 years old, his father was killed in the line of duty by a black man. Additionally, in 2000, as reported in the Washington Post, Mr. McCulloch agreed with a grand jury's decision not to indict two white officers for killing to unarmed black men. The article provides other examples of Mr. McCulloch's bias in support of law enforcement.

Despite proof of bias, no special prosecutor was appointed. Instead of filing criminal charges against Officer Wilson and having a public preliminary hearing, Mr. McCulloch brought the matter before a grand jury. The grand jury process is closed to the public. There is no transparency. That lack of transparency breeds skepticism, mistrust and rage.

According to the New York Times, the court process is taking so long because, the prosecutor is "'presenting absolutely everything' to the grand jury, including eyewitness accounts of the fatal altercation and forensic conclusions that might be diametrically opposed." That is unusual. As Mark O'Mara points out in his CNN article, prosecutors often "stack the evidence in favor of their case in order to ensure an indictment -- often excluding details that would support the case for the accused." Mr. McCulloch did not do so in this case because he probably does not want Darren Wilson to be indicted. Mr. McCulloch wants to use the grand jury as a scapegoat, a fallguy.

Apparently, the Governor knows that the die has been casted. By declaring a state of emergency, the Governor is essentially prematuring concluding that there will be no justice for Mike Brown and the black community. The Governor is basically saying that Officer Darren Wilson is going to get away with killing unarmed black teen Mike Brown. The Governor's declaration is not going diffuse the rage. It is only fueling the flames of hell on earth. Ferguson is going to burn literally and figuratively.  When a people are rendered invisible and their legitimate cries for justice are muted, they have no choice but to take matters in their own hands.

If Darren Wilson is not indicted, we must raise hell. There must a national strike. College and high school students should walk out of school and take to the streets. Black workers and black professionals should leave work and take to the streets. There must be a national campaign of civil disobedience around the country. There should be demonstrations at police stations, state houses, mayors' offices and governors' offices around the country. There should be a new march on Washington.  We must stop traffic and business. Businesses in Ferguson and Missouri should be boycotted. Business as usual must cease until we have justice. No justice, no peace!

The demonstrators should demand several things. They should demand that a special prosecutor be appointed immediately. They should demand that criminal charges be filed against Darren Wilson immediately. They should demand that Darren Wilson be arrested immediately. They should demand that Congress pass the End Racial Profiling Act. They should demand that Congress establish uniform, federal standards for police use of deadly force. They should demand that all police be required to wear functioning video cameras at all times will on duty. Until those demands are meant, the protests should continue.

In addition to making demands on law enforcement and politicians, the protesters must make demands on themselves. They must register to vote and actually vote. Ferguson is over 60 percent black. However, the mayor and the police chief are white. Only one city council member is black. Only one school board member is black. There are 53 police officers on the Ferguson police force. Only three of them are black. (Source: Mother Jones) Those stats are outrageous and ridiculous. Also, in the words of Kwame Ture, each one of us should join a black social justice organization and get involved in today's movement.  If we want to change the situation in Ferguson, we must use every single means available to us.