Nel's New Day

May 28, 2017

A Presidential Message

Filed under: racism — trp2011 @ 3:23 PM
Tags: , , ,

At the same time that Alabama passed a law preventing anyone in the state from removing any Confederate monuments, New Orleans has removed the last of its four. Mayor Mitch Landrieu won’t be running for president, but his speech about these removals reflect how I wish the president of the United States would speak. Below is the first half of the speech, the remainder of it can be read here

The soul of our beloved City is deeply rooted in a history that has evolved over thousands of years; rooted in a diverse people who have been here together every step of the way – for both good and for ill.

It is a history that holds in its heart the stories of Native Americans: the Choctaw, Houma Nation, the Chitimacha. Of Hernando de Soto, Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, the Acadians, the Islenos, the enslaved people from Senegambia, Free People of Color, the Haitians, the Germans, both the empires of Francexii and Spain. The Italians, the Irish, the Cubans, the south and central Americans, the Vietnamese and so many more.

You see: New Orleans is truly a city of many nations, a melting pot, a bubbling cauldron of many cultures.

There is no other place quite like it in the world that so eloquently exemplifies the uniquely American motto: e pluribus unum — out of many we are one.

But there are also other truths about our city that we must confront. New Orleans was America’s largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were brought, sold and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor of misery of rape, of torture.

America was the place where nearly 4,000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined ‘separate but equal’; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp.

So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.

And it immediately begs the questions: why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame … all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans.

So for those self-appointed defenders of history and the monuments, they are eerily silent on what amounts to this historical malfeasance, a lie by omission.

There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it. For America and New Orleans, it has been a long, winding road, marked by great tragedy and great triumph. But we cannot be afraid of our truth.

As President George W. Bush said at the dedication ceremony for the National Museum of African American History & Culture, “A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.”

So today I want to speak about why we chose to remove these four monuments to the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, but also how and why this process can move us towards healing and understanding of each other.

So, let’s start with the facts.

The historic record is clear: the Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard statues were not erected just to honor these men, but as part of the movement which became known as The Cult of the Lost Cause. This ‘cult’ had one goal — through monuments and through other means — to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity.

First erected over 166 years after the founding of our city and 19 years after the end of the Civil War, the monuments that we took down were meant to rebrand the history of our city and the ideals of a defeated Confederacy.

It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America, They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots.

These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.

After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone’s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city.

Should you have further doubt about the true goals of the Confederacy, in the very weeks before the war broke out, the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens, made it clear that the Confederate cause was about maintaining slavery and white supremacy.

He said in his now famous ‘Cornerstone speech’ that the Confederacy’s “cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

Now, with these shocking words still ringing in your ears, I want to try to gently peel from your hands the grip on a false narrative of our history that I think weakens us and make straight a wrong turn we made many years ago so we can more closely connect with integrity to the founding principles of our nation and forge a clearer and straighter path toward a better city and more perfect union.

Last year, President Barack Obama echoed these sentiments about the need to contextualize and remember all of our history. He recalled a piece of stone, a slave auction block engraved with a marker commemorating a single moment in 1830 when Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay stood and spoke from it.

President Obama said, “Consider what this artifact tells us about history … on a stone where day after day for years, men and women … bound and bought and sold and bid like cattle on a stone worn down by the tragedy of over a thousand bare feet. For a long time the only thing we considered important, the singular thing we once chose to commemorate as history with a plaque were the unmemorable speeches of two powerful men.”

A piece of stone – one stone. Both stories were history. One story told. One story forgotten or maybe even purposefully ignored.

As clear as it is for me today … for a long time, even though I grew up in one of New Orleans’ most diverse neighborhoods, even with my family’s long proud history of fighting for civil rights … I must have passed by those monuments a million times without giving them a second thought.

So I am not judging anybody, I am not judging people. We all take our own journey on race. I just hope people listen like I did when my dear friend Wynton Marsalis helped me see the truth. He asked me to think about all the people who have left New Orleans because of our exclusionary attitudes.

Another friend asked me to consider these four monuments from the perspective of an African American mother or father trying to explain to their fifth grade daughter who Robert E. Lee is and why he stands atop of our beautiful city. Can you do it?

Can you look into that young girl’s eyes and convince her that Robert E. Lee is there to encourage her? Do you think she will feel inspired and hopeful by that story? Do these monuments help her see a future with limitless potential? Have you ever thought that if her potential is limited, yours and mine are too?

We all know the answer to these very simple questions.

When you look into this child’s eyes is the moment when the searing truth comes into focus for us. This is the moment when we know what is right and what we must do. We can’t walk away from this truth.

Landrieu concludes:

So before we part let us again state the truth clearly.

The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity. It sought to tear apart our nation and subjugate our fellow Americans to slavery. This is the history we should never forget and one that we should never again put on a pedestal to be revered.

As a community, we must recognize the significance of removing New Orleans’ Confederate monuments. It is our acknowledgment that now is the time to take stock of, and then move past, a painful part of our history. Anything less would render generations of courageous struggle and soul-searching a truly lost cause.

Anything less would fall short of the immortal words of our greatest President Abraham Lincoln, who with an open heart and clarity of purpose calls on us today to unite as one people when he said:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to do all which may achieve and cherish: a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Thank you.

And thank you, Mayor Landrieu. 

October 12, 2015

Time for Native American Day

Today is Columbus Day. The federal holiday has caused millions and millions of children to be taught myths as truth because President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the Knights of Columbus a gift of a federal holiday honoring a Catholic man. Evidence shows that Leif Eriksson led a band of Vikings to North American five centuries before 1492 and established a settlement before the indigenous peoples drove them off. It is also thought that Irish monks, the Chinese, Africans, and others “discovered” the continent before Columbus—a place already discovered by the people who had moved to the New World across the Bering Land Bridge 10,000 to 15,000 years earlier. Even when Columbus died, 16 years after he landed on the island, he thought he had found a path to Asia, his original purpose. But still, the United States celebrates Christopher Columbus.

The first Columbus Day celebration in the United States was in New York in 1792 to honor Oct. 12, 1492, the day that Columbus and his ships first made landfall on an island in the Caribbean Sea. It was to honor Italian-Americans because people believed Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy, instead of Spain’s Catalonia region. One-hundred years later, President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation asking people to celebrate the day with patriotic festivities to mark the 400th anniversary of the voyage. In 1971, the national holiday established in 1937 was moved to the second Monday in October as the U.S. decided three-day weekends are important.

About the Taino people who Columbus encountered, he wrote, “With 50 men they could all be subjected and made to do all that one might wish. [They were] fit to be ordered about, to sow, and do everything else that may be needed.” A former slave trader, Columbus captured “seven head of women, young ones and adults, and three small children” to take back to Spain.

Columbus’ journals of his voyages document graphic acts of rape and brutality. He and his men chopped off the hands of Taino slaves who failed to get a daily quota of gold, and female slaves were forced to leave their babies on the road sides. Spanish conquistadors bet who could chop a Taino body in half with just one blow. In 1499, Columbus was arrested, chained up, and brought back to Spain.

History has described Columbus as “self-centered, ruthless, avaricious, and racist,” and he left a legacy of death, pillage, and rape of the land filled with colonialism, enslavement, discrimination, and land grabs. Thanks to people who followed Columbus, one-third of Native Americans died of disease—chicken pox, measles, cholera, malaria, typhoid, bubonic plague, etc.

People who think that the indigenous people in the United States no longer suffer as they have in the past need to consider what the government is doing to them in the 21st century. Native Americans didn’t get the right to vote in 1924 because the Fourteenth Amendment excluded Indians. Yet states found ways to keep Indians from voting for most of the 20th century through methods such as literacy tests. Despite lawsuits, some states refuse to recognize tribal IDs for voting and will not set up satellite polling locations on reservations, forcing Indians to drive as far as 163 miles or even to fly to a polling place. No access to early voting makes the process even more difficult.

White men are still allowed to abuse Indian youth. Last year, 57 Lakota students between 8 and 13 were rewarded for academic achievements by attending a hockey match in Rapid City (SD). At the game, a group of men in an executive suite poured beer over their heads and shouted, “Go back to the Rez!” Only one perpetrator faced criminal charges, and he was acquitted when a judge declared that the beer was just sprayed in excitement over a goal. The children are afraid to leave the reservation now.

Until last April, South Dakota’s Department of Social Services routinely placed Native children in white foster homes while denying Indian parents and guardians any due process rights in the hearing process. Parents were not allowed to examine evidence or cross-examine witnesses in hearings that sometimes lasted less than one minute, on average less than five minutes. One judge, Jeff Davis, ruled against Indian parents every time. Judges also told parents that their jurisdictions could ignore the law. An average of 740 Indian children was taken from their homes each year, some of them sexually abused in their foster homes.

Years ago, Indian children were taken from reservations and sent to “schools” where they were forced away from their culture. Putting children into white foster homes serves and same purpose, and white entitlement in the United States supports this “assimilation.” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), currently a GOP presidential candidate, said that if Native Americans were “assimilated,” that it would take only a decade for them to “probably be doing as well as the rest of us.” That’s his excuse for taking all the reservation lands and forget the way that white people refused to “assimilate” to the native culture of the country where they committed genocide.

Governments are still taking land away from Native Americans. For example, a section in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act transferred the San Carlos Apache tribe’s sacred area of Oak Flat in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest to mining company Resolution Copper. The land had been protected since 1955 when President Eisenhower declared it closed to mining because of its cultural and natural value, and President Nixon’s administration renewed the decree in 1971. Mining will destroy the area, but Arizona GOP Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake supported the land grab after they received contributions from Rio Tinto, mining company’s parent corporation. Flake was also a paid lobbyist for Rio Tinto Rössing Uranium in Namibia before being elected to Congress.

When Phil Stago of the White Mountain Apache Tribe protested the removal of his tribe’s land, Arizona’s 4th District Rep. Paul Gosar told him, “You’re still wards of the federal government.” Gosar was repeating the position that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall took in the 1830s. Although Congress controls Indian affairs, tribes are known as sovereign nations. The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ website describes the federal government as trustee of Indian property, not the guardian of all American Indians and Alaska Natives.

McCain has a history of taking Indian land. In 1974, Senator John McCain wrote the 1974 Relocation Act which moved over 14,000 Navajo and 100 Hopi from their homelands to the site of a uranium mining accident in Chambers (AZ) where they developed lung cancer and their babies were born with birth defects. The excuse was to settle a land dispute between the two tribes, but the real purpose was to exploit mineral resources by creating two of the biggest coal strip mines in the nation. Ceasing operations in 2005, the mine left a 273-mile abandoned coal-slurry pipeline and 325 million tons of climate pollution in the atmosphere.

The state of Michigan wants to give 13,000 acres (about 20 square miles) of Native American treaty land to a Canadian company to develop a limestone mine. The state will get $4.53 million. It’s not a done deal yet, but Native Americans must fight for their land.

Like other minorities, Native Americans are victimized by the U.S. justice system with an incarceration rate 38 percent higher than the national average and four times the rate of white men. Native Americans are more likely to be killed by police than any other racial group and fall victim to violent crime at more than double all other citizens. While Native American women are incarcerated at six times the rate of white women, 88 percent of violent crime committed against Native American women is by non-Native perpetrators. Native American youths are 30 percent more likely than whites to be referred to juvenile court than have charges dropped.

A movement to honor Native Americans on October 12 has been growing in the past decades. Both Hawaii and the Bahamas call October 12, “Discovery Day,” and South Dakota began to use the term Native American Day in 1989. In 1992, Berkeley (CA) changed the name to Indigenous Peoples Day. Nine cities—including Albuquerque, Portland (OR), and Olympia (WA)—have followed suit. It’s not much, but it’s a start to recognize white entitlement, the belief that nothing has value or exists unless a white man is in charge. That’s a belief that may become more predominant in states such as South Dakota, which not longer requires Native American history to be taught in the public schools. Schools that do teach Indian history treat the subject as if Native Americans are gone—that they no longer exist. But that’s what many white people want.

July 11, 2015

Confederate Flag Degrades South, Conservatives

Filed under: racism — trp2011 @ 8:32 PM
Tags: , ,

The symbolic Confederate battle flag didn’t fly in South Carolina for 100 years after the firing on Fort Sumter. Raised to the top of the capitol on April 11, 1961, ostensibly to celebrate the centennial celebration of the firing on Fort Sumter, it became a permanent fixture there because of a resolution from Rep. John A. May. The placement came from a shift of the Democratic party to the GOP in an attempt to protect the Southern way of life represented by racial segregation, white supremacy, and Jim Crow laws from federal intervention. The Ku Klux Klan also adopted the flag as their symbolism of racist hatred and intimation. Only the murders of nine black people, including a state senator, in a Charleston church brought the flat down on 10:00 EST on July 10, 2015.

A few weeks before the flag went up in 1961, ten black students were arrested and convicted because they refused to leave an all-white lunch counter in the state. Nine of them, known as the Friendship Nine, moved the civil rights forward by refusing bail in a strategy called “Jail, No Bail.” Taylor Branch wrote in Parting the Waters  that this action reverses the financial burden of protest so that demonstrators aren’t charged but white authorities must pay for the protesters’ food and jail space. The students, who did 30 days hard labor at a prison farm, led other demonstrators by their example. Early this year, a judge tossed out the trespassing convictions against the Friendship Nine, ruling that the men should never have been charged.

Many Southern conservatives, including 3 state senators and 27 state house members, claimed that the flag has no relationship to racism, but the 21-year-old white supremacist who killed the nine black people less than a month ago on June 17 proudly posed for photos with the Confederate flag. The debate in the state house lasted 13 hours because those who claimed that the flag is part of their heritage brought up 68 amendments to the bill, all of them voted down. They failed to persuade the others that the Civil War was about states’ rights and not slavery and racism.

Rep. Mike Pitts declared that the flag shows how dirt-poor southern farmers fought Yankees who were invading their land. He wants the legislature to respect the Confederate soldiers exactly like soldiers who have fought in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Ruben Bolling’s history of the Confederate flag in the South:

confederate flag cartoon

 

The argument about flying the Confederate flag moved to the U.S. Congress when the House passed three measures barring the flag’s use on federal lands on the same day that the South Carolina senate passed the bill to take down its flag. An amendment was added to a National Parks Service spending bill to stop the use of Confederate flags in national cemeteries. Another amendment confirmed a NPS request that its stores remove items featuring the flag as a symbol, just as retailers such as Walmart and Amazon have done. A third amendment blocked funding for the Confederate flag on National Park land unless it provides historical context, in line with NPS policy. The amendments passed by voice votes in the U.S. House.

Late the next day, however, Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) put up an amendment allowing federal cemeteries to keep the Confederate flag. The vote to keep the Confederate flag on federal property was scheduled for July 9, the anniversary of the ratification of the 14th Amendment promising equal protection of the laws. Rep. Lynn A. Westmoreland (R-GA) told reporters that the Confederate battle flag isn’t racist and that he didn’t think Confederate soldiers had “any thoughts about slavery.” Negative publicity caused the appropriations bill–and Calvert’s amendment–to be pulled from the floor.

Over 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln gave a speech against slavery using the biblical directive that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) gave conservatives control over his agenda when he chose to pass bills with only Republican votes. Republicans are becoming more and more divided against themselves because extreme conservatives withhold their votes if they don’t get what they want. Conservative groups such as Heritage Action, from the Heritage Foundation, also wield great power, just as they did in the 2013 government shutdown and the current position of keeping the Export-Import Bank from being reauthorized.

After Boehner pulled the appropriations bill, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) proposed a measure to remove any flags with Confederate symbols from the U.S. Capitol. At least five states—Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi—have incorporated parts of the Confederate flag in their state flag, and Mississippi includes the complete Confederate flag as part of its state design. Rep. Bennie Thompson, the only black representative from Mississippi, introduced the same resolution a month ago and does not display his state flag in his congressional office. He said:

“We are a nation of laws. We should not identify with symbols of hatred and bigotry. That flag, those symbols, should be put in a museum. They should not be flown under any circumstance where there is freedom and dignity in this great institution of ours.”

A vote sent the resolution to a committee after Democrats demanded a paper vote following the contentious voice vote to show people who is willing to vote in favor of a symbol of hatred and violence. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), complained, “We’ve put our heads [out] like a pumpkin on a stick and given [Democrats] a baseball bat.”

On Friday, the House Republicans suspended work on appropriations bills, fearing more amendments from Democrats related to the Confederate flag. The House also cannot vote on the funding bill until after it votes on the Calvert amendment to put Confederate flags into all federal cemeteries. The flag isn’t the only problem. Boehner said that he will put together a commission to examine the use of Confederate symbols in the Capitol which will include statues of Jefferson Davis and John Calhoun, fighters for slavery. The party that understands they can’t win with only white male voters may not want to be seen as the party fighting for the Confederate symbols. Boehner has “for some adults here in the Congress to actually sit down and have a conversation about how to address this issue.” He didn’t say where he plans to find these adults.

GOP presidential candidates are split on the issue of taking down the Confederate flag. The most extreme ones claimed “states’ rights” which translates into “I’m afraid of saying anything that could get me in trouble.” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker followed South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in a rapid “evolution” to taking down the flag in South Carolina after Haley moved from “no big deal” to “big deal,” possible on her way to becoming a potential vice-presidential candidate. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal extended states’ rights by tacking on the old “don’t talk about it while we’re in mourning” translated as “let it blow over so we don’t have to deal with it” approach, commonly used for mass shootings.

Attention to the Confederate flag kept the discourse from gun sense laws after the killings until the information surfaced that the NRA-backed three-day law for background checks allowed the Charleston killer to purchase a gun. A breakdown in communication between police departments and county government resulted in lack of sufficient knowledge to deny the killer a gun based on his drug-related felony charge.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) tried to use the lack of communication as a reason to keep from enacting more strict gun sense laws. The real problem, however, comes from gaps caused by powerful gun-manufacturing-controlled groups. Requiring all records from prohibited people to go into one system with background checks required for all gun sales would have stopped this horrifying glitch. At this time, records are spread out enough that some people slip through the limit of three business days to deny or approve a purchase before the dealer can automatically complete the sale. Another part of the problem is the laxness of law enforcement. For example, some county sheriffs in Oregon are saying that they will give low priority to the new background check for all gun sellers.

Michael Lind, historian and native Southerner, explained the way that greed and class domination joins racism to drive the economic system. Over 100 years ago, the Redeemers, pro-business Southern politicians, vowed to undo the post-Civil War Reconstruction racial and economic reforms. When the federal government turned the responsibility for educating the poor, building hospitals and roads, and creating the nation’s first national health care system for freed slaves, Redeemers dropped all these programs to cut taxes for wealthy plantation owners. Today’s Republicans in the South follow the same pattern, keeping workers dependent on employers so that employees won’t get “uppity.” Poor people with no benefits have no control over their lives, and corporations have cheap labor in these states with the greatest poverty and worst health in the nation. In addition, prisoners provide unpaid labor for private businesses.

The South today: the love of the Confederate flag and guns protecting the top 1 percent while the rest of the people don’t even know they’re being flim-flammed.

July 5, 2015

White Terrorists Spread Lies to Keep Power

 

The horror of tragedies in the United States is short-lived. The more optimistic of us thought that there could be a change in laws after 20 children were killed in Newtown (CT) because of the country’s lax gun laws. After a few weeks of the NRA railing against the “politicizing” of these deaths, the U.S. went back to normal, increasing the number of guns in the hands of irresponsible people. Since then every mass shooting has resulted in decreased responsibility for these deaths and looser gun laws.

Not even a month ago after a white terrorist killed nine black people at a bible study class in a Charleston (SC) church, an uproar against the praise of the Confederate flag, a symbol of treason against the United States, seemed to be making a difference. My conservative newspaper in Oregon commended Republicans such as South Carolina’s governor, Nikki Haley, for asking that the flag be removed from the state grounds. The article failed to mention that no action has been taken, even to protect blacks from having to walk under the despicable flag to honor black state Sen. Clementa Pinkney, one of the slain in the church. South Carolina needs a two-thirds vote to take down the flag, and it’s most unlikely that this will happen. For example, State Rep. Lee Bright compared removing the flag to a “Stalinist purge,” brutal murders of ideological dissidents by a totalitarian dictatorship.

The civil war against the flying of the Confederate flag is over, and the terrorists have won. The United States maintains its exceptionalist approach toward stupidity after a poll shows that 57 percent of people in the United States perceives the treasonous flag as a symbol of “Southern pride” rather than its reality of racism. That’s only two percent less than 15 years ago.

The recent polling has undoubtedly put GOP members recommending the removal of the flag in a quandary. Their first reaction was undoubtedly in response to massive media objections after the killing, and the state General Assembly was scheduled to being debate tomorrow about removing the flag that was installed on state grounds in 1961 in protest of civil rights. The poll puts the issue in a different light for them, especially after South Carolina residents began getting robocalls on Friday comparing the movement to remove the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds to ISIS. The newly formed Conservative Response Team (CRT), a pending non-profit organization with unspecified funding, started with 40,000 robocalls.

South Carolina officials has given approval to the white supremacist “Loyal White Knights” chapter of the Ku Klux Klan to hold a pro-Confederate flag rally at the state capitol on June 17, one month and one day after the killings in the Charleston church. The chapter calls the killer a “warrior.”

Part of the positive polling about the Confederate flag is that white Southerners, unlike Germans after World War II, never accepted blame for the war’s devastation and its bigotry. Schools in the South still teach that blacks were happier in slavery, that the North was really responsible for the war, that the issue was more about interpretations of the Constitution, and that white Southerners were the true victims in “the war of Northern aggression.” Confederate pride led to lynchings of blacks and continued with the use of the Confederate flag to declare white supremacy as a license to kill innocent black people.  The recent Charleston killing came from these beliefs, the racist propaganda and lies about black-on-white crime.

Whenever approached with a question that might cause a GOP presidential candidate trouble with part of his constituency, the response is using to let the state make a decision. That’s Mike Huckabee’s response to the removal of the Confederate flag. Rick Perry went farther into stupidity to find a reason: prescription drugs.

 “This is the (modus operandi) of this administration, any time there is an accident like this. The president is clear, he doesn’t like for Americans to have guns and so he uses every opportunity, this being another one, to basically go parrot that message…. It seems to me, again without having all the details about this, that these individuals have been medicated and there may be a real issue in this country from the standpoint of these drugs and how they’re used.”

Former 1960s pop singer Pat Boone represents the epitome of the white Southerner reaction to the killings at the Charleston church in his excoriation of President Obama, a black man who Boone says failed to stop racism:

 “At no time do I recall your mentioning the far greater instances of ‘black on black’ crimes, the high percentage of crimes of all types committed annually by blacks, or the senseless looting and violence that follows the inflamed ‘protests’ after one of the above-mentioned incidents. Strange that you, our half-white president, have little to say about these things.”

Indeed, the president talked about the subject and started My Brother’s Keeper Initiative while the MBK Task Force has issued a 1st Year Progress Report. Yet white supremacist blogs—and the Fox network—continue to lie about the danger of blacks to the whites in the United States.

After Fox reported that 92 percent of murdered black people are killed by other blacks, there was no big announcement that 84 percent of white murdered people were by other whites. Even worse, this data shows only those murders with one offender or one victim. That leaves out the Charleston killer because there were nine victims—and all the other mass shootings which are primarily done by white males. The actual percentage of blacks killed by blacks is 55 percent while white-on-white murders is 62.7 percent, 7 percent higher than blacks.

According to the FBI, terrorism is “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives,” and Title 22 of U.S. Code, Section 2656f(d) defines it as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.”

The mission of the killer in the Charleston church was to kill black people in order to start a new civil war against blacks. Two weeks after the tragedy, FBI Director James Comey refused to call the gruesome attack “terrorism” because he doesn’t see it as a “political act.” To Corney, starting a race war is not “political.” Floyd Corkins II, a black man, was labeled a terrorist when he only intended to shoot people in the offices of the Family Research Counsel. That’s white entitlement.

PULASKI, TN - JULY 11:  Members of the Fraternal White Knights of the Ku Klux Clan participate in the 11th Annual Nathan Bedford Forrest Birthday march July 11, 2009 in Pulaski, Tennessee. With a poor economy and the first African-American president in office, there has been a rise in extremist activity in many parts of America. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2008 the number of hate groups rose to 926, up 4 percent from 2007, and 54 percent since 2000. Nathan Bedford Forrest was a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War and played a role in the postwar establishment of the first Ku Klux Klan organization opposing the reconstruction era in the South.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

PULASKI, TN – JULY 11: Members of the Fraternal White Knights of the Ku Klux Clan participate in the 11th Annual Nathan Bedford Forrest Birthday march July 11, 2009 in Pulaski, Tennessee. With a poor economy and the first African-American president in office, there has been a rise in extremist activity in many parts of America. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2008 the number of hate groups rose to 926, up 4 percent from 2007, and 54 percent since 2000. Nathan Bedford Forrest was a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War and played a role in the postwar establishment of the first Ku Klux Klan organization opposing the reconstruction era in the South. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The continued practice of flying the Confederate flag on the capitol grounds demonstrates the willingness of whites to humiliate and intimidate blacks. The whites are declaring that their right to pride and power is more important than any other belief. The Charleston killer didn’t celebrate the pride of the Confederate flag when he went to the church to kill black people. He wasn’t celebrating his belief in the violent use of force against blacks in the United States. As GOP presidential candidate said, the flag is “who we are.” Yet that image of the  Confederate flag supporters demonstrates danger to people in the United States.

June 18, 2015

Victories Accompanied by Another Tragic Shooting

A three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled 2-1 in Turkmen v. Ashcroft that George W. Bush officials can be sued for roundups and illegal detentions. Plaintiffs of Arab and Middle Eastern descent were held for three to eight months in New York for being “suspected terrorists” and claim that they were abused and profiled by guards and other authority figures. That decision was presented the day after 78 senators voted against torture. Twenty-one senators favor torture, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was out of town, presumably campaigning.

In a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Sons of Confederate Veterans cannot force Texas to allow the Confederate flag on car license plates. The astonishing part of the ruling is the fifth justice who voted with the four liberal judges—Clarence Thomas. He also dissented with a majority in Virginia v. Black (2003), writing that cross-burning violates the First Amendment right to free speech because it “has almost invariably meant lawlessness and understandably instills in its victims well-grounded fear of physical violence.” Not all Southern states have the same concern about the state’s endorsement of racism: South Carolina still flies the Confederate flag on state capitol grounds and allows Confederate vanity license plates.

One person with South Carolina Confederate plates is the white man in a hoodie who went to a Bible study class last night in an historic Charleston (SC) church where he killed nine people with a gun he bought from the money that his father gave him for his 21st birthday. The killing was on the same date that Denmark Vesey, a former slave, was targeted for what white Charlestonians believed was a revolt. Vesey was captured on June 22 and executed on July 2.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that the people, all Black, were murdered because they were Christians, and another presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, agreed with Graham. The Fox network and other conservative media are spreading the same word. To them, the location of killings in a church identifies the murder of a “war on Christians.” Fox & Friends also claimed that the deaths could have been prevented if the congregation had been armed, and they pulled in Virginia’s former lieutenant governor candidate to back them up. Known for calling the LGBT rights movement a “cancer” and President Obama as a “radical anti-American” and “anti-Christian,” E. W. Jackson urged “pastors and men in these churches to prepare to defend themselves,” and host Brian Kilmeade wondered if giving pastors a gun could help with “security.” Later in the show, Steve Doocy and Elisabeth Hasselbeck agreed.

Once again Fox spreads the insanity. An analysis of 62 mass public shootings over a 30-year period by Mother Jones found no cases in which an ordinary civilian with a gun stopped an attack although some instances showed that a gun caused the death or injury of that person.

Presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told an audience of social conservatives:

“There’s a sickness in our country. There’s something terribly wrong. But it isn’t going to be fixed by your government. It’s people straying away, it’s people not understanding where salvation comes from. I think if we understand that, we’ll have better expectations of what to expect from government.”

Paul did not give any solutions about curing the “sickness.”

confederate flagThe day after this tragedy, flags at the South Carolina capitol are at half mast—except for the Confederate flag. Gov. Nikki Haley cried at the news conference about the killings but earlier said that she didn’t think that the Confederate flag presented an image problem. Today Haley’s press secretary said that only the General Assembly had the legal authority to do something about the flag. No one from that body has responded to any requests about it. South Carolina is one of five states without a state hate crime law and celebrated “Confederate Memorial Day” last month.

South Carolina has 19 known hate groups, including two Ku Klux Klans and four “white nationalist” organizations. Of course, they aren’t “terrorist groups” because they aren’t Muslims. Six neo-Confederate groups listed include two branches of the League of the South, which advocates for Southern secession and “the advancement of Anglo-Celtic culture.” The Council of Conservative Citizens is opposed to racial integration and affirmative action “and similar measures to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people.” One of its key figures, Kyle Rogers, said, “I don’t see a legacy of oppression. Blacks have always benefited from being in the United States.” Other hate groups include three neo-Nazi cells, a chapter of the racist skinhead movement Confederate Hammerskins, a branch of black separatist organization Nation of Islam, an “anti-gay” church and an anti-immigration protest group called Americans Have Had Enough.

Graham and other conservatives have been spreading the fear about foreign terrorists and claiming that the U.S. needs to go to war in order to be safe. At the same time, these people ignore heavily armed, violent domestic terrorists, many of them supported by the law. How many of these groups exist in the country is unknown because the Department of Homeland Security stopped an investigation into homeland terrorism six years ago.

Daryl Johnson, a top government counterterrorism analyst, spent six years working at Homeland Security, collecting extensive data on far-right extremist groups posing threats to people in the United States. After the first election of President Obama, these groups went farther right, and Johnson reported that radical Islam is just a small portion of the terrorism groups within the nation. He noted that five totally domestic groups considered using weapons of mass destruction during his investigation, and the same warnings were expressed by the two principal non-government groups that track domestic terrorism: the New York-based Anti-Defamation League and the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Last year the SPLC listed 13 major incidents and arrests last year, almost double the annual number in previous years. In 2010, the number of hate groups topped 1,000 in 2010, for the first time in at least two decades.

After Johnson was forced out of his position, President Obama has received an unprecedented number of death threats, hate groups have gained ground, and white supremacist attacks are regularly occurring. In places such as Nevada’s Bundy ranch, terrorists successfully faced down the federal government. Congress holds hearings about Muslim extremism but says nothing about domestic terrorism. Their silence allows the extremist movement to grow as the common statement after tragedies such as the one at the South Carolina church is that the event shouldn’t be politicized and people need to have time to mourn before taking action. The only action that occurs after mass shootings at this time is an increasing laxness of gun laws.

The killer’s license plate had three Confederate flags, and the patches on his jacket were flags of Rhodesia and apartheid-era South Africa with brutal segregation policies. He also shouted, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.” That’s racism, not an attack on Christianity. And people with these beliefs aren’t going to change them just because Rand Paul thinks that it’s a good idea.

May 23, 2015

U.S. Has ‘Whiteness’ Problem

Michael Brelo, Cleveland police officer, stood on his car and shot unarmed blacks 15 times after 100 officers riddled it with 137 bullets in 2012. Police chased the car because it backfired while passing the police headquarters. He said he thought he was in danger, and today a judge ruled he was not guilty of voluntary manslaughter and felonious assault. Brelo’s lawyer had described the armed police officer as the underdog in a “David vs. Goliath” fight. A review panel showing the violations in the 22-mile chase and the subsequent shooting resulted in the firing of one supervisor, the demotion of two others, and suspensions of 72 officers from one to 30 days. No other police officer faced criminal charges in the deaths of the man and woman in the bullet-riddled car.

Last year, a Cleveland officer killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice who was holding a pellet gun. Rice was killed within two seconds of the arrival of the 26-year-old officer who had left another police force after his supervisors declared he had “a dangerous loss of composure” during firearms training and was unemotionally unprepared to cope with the job. Almost six months later, the investigation into that shooting isn’t yet finished. In another investigation, 37-year-old Tanisha Anderson, identified by her family as bipolar, lost consciousness and died in police custody after pushed face down on the pavement. The medical examiner ruled her death a homicide.

Last year, a Department of Justice investigation into the Cleveland Police Department found a pattern of “unreasonable and unnecessary use of force” that resulted in dangerous and reckless behavior by officers. Abuses included excessive use of force by the police involving not just firearms, but also less-than-lethal weapons like Tasers, chemical spray, and fists, sometimes used for retaliation. The police used excessive force against mentally ill people and employed tactics that escalated potentially nonviolent encounters into dangerous confrontations. In one case the police fired at a fleeing man wearing only boxer shorts, and another man suffered a broken bone in his face while restrained on the ground with spread arms and legs after officers kicked him.

Cleveland is part of a culture across the United States in which police kill blacks while grand juries fail to indict or judges and juries fail to bring in guilty verdicts. A white police officer escaped any punishment for killing black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson (MO) with another white police officer in New York escaping indictment for the choking death of another unarmed black man, 43-year-old Eric Garner.

What all these killed people had in common is that they were black. Although killings are down in the past half century, young black men are 21 times as likely to be killed by police as young white men. Conservatives claim that anyone breaking the law risks the police killing them. Recently, nine bikers died in a Texas restaurant, another 18 were wounded, and 170 arrested. Waco Police Sergeant Patrick Swanton said that it was “the most violent crime scene” that he’d been involved in during his “34 years of law enforcement.” The police had been alerted to possible violence weeks before the event, and afterwards the restaurant floor was littered with bullet casings, knives, and a club. Yet the police didn’t kill any of the participants–almost all white–of the bloodbath.

Law enforcement used no SWAT teams, armored vehicles, tanks, snipers, Tasers, pepper spray, tear gas. There weren’t hundreds of police pointing assault weapons at the suspects, and the National Guard wasn’t called out. Mug shots show no beatings or chokings in the arrests. When the white men with supremacist tattoos and patches opened fire on the police, no one gunned them down en mass or forced them down onto the ground or beat them. Mainstream media largely gave the murders and arrests a pass with no reference about it’s being called “one of the worst gunfights in Waco history.” Almost all the white men in the mayhem belonged to organized “serious and violent criminal enterprises” going back over four decades. The aftermath of the violence looked like a Sunday gathering as they sat around smoking and checking their cell phones. Nobody was hogtied or harassed.

WacoAfter the Baltimore protests, both Texas GOP senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, blamed the riots on absent fathers because of the breakdown of family structures in the black community and raising children out of wedlock. Cruz went farther to accuse President Obama for “inflaming” the riots, that the president “exacerbated racial misunderstandings, racial tensions.” Neither one said anything about the cause of the biker gang killings in their home state.

The Waco event shows that blacks face a different standard than privileged whites. That was obvious a year ago when armed white terrorists took over part of Nevada and forced law enforcement to back down. A year after the standoff at the Cliven Bundy ranch, there have been no arrests, no indictments, no prosecutions.

Nothing clarifies the difference between treatment of blacks and white more than the language. Almost all the white men in the mayhem belonged to organized “serious and violent criminal enterprises” going back over four decades, yet they are described as belonging to clubs. Black protesters are almost universally referred to as “thugs.”

Incensed by the comparison that New York Times columnist Charles Blow made between Waco and the protests in Baltimore after Freddie Gray was killed in a police van, CNN  “law enforcement analyst” and ex-NYPD detective Harry Houck blamed the black community for pundits’ description of only blacks rioters and not white criminals as rioters as thugs. Houck tried to explain why thug refers to “bad guy” because of rappers.

“They started coming out with songs and calling themselves thugs, and I think that’s how this whole thing started, with the black community and the young men calling themselves thugs. Alright? And I think that’s how that all started.”

Much to Houck’s dismay, Blow disagreed with Houck’s etymology of “thug” and said that a bigger concern is that the black community is treated as the problem in a way that the white community never is. Sally Kohn agreed with Blow about a double standard, noting that no one identifies the race of white shooters or complains about a “whiteness” problem in violence.

Ferguson protesters were also labeled as “thugs” with news footage edited to demonize peaceful protesters. Yet a riot over a football game in Morgantown (WV) labeled the white people as “rowdy” and “unruly” in their “celebration.” White people rioting at a pumpkin festival “just got too drunk.”

police smileWhat would the police in the above picture do with a white victim? The United States has a “whiteness” problem.

January 19, 2015

How Some People Commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr.

Filed under: racism — trp2011 @ 10:17 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Forty-four years after his death, Martin Luther King, Jr. is commemorated by a federal holiday, despite past legislators’ objections. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) was one of those objectors: he voted twice against celebrating King in Louisiana. Three Southern states have diluted their dismay at the MLK Day by celebrating Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s birthday on the same day. Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi use the same day to honor Lee.

The Ku Klux Klan scattered leaflets in the Manchester neighborhood of Pittsburgh (PA) with King’s mug shot from an arrest under the name “Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.” Similar ones appeared in Chester (VA), and Sam Green, who claims to be the Great Titan of the Richmond area, asked “why people would be upset about the truth.” KKK Imperial Wizard Chris Barker said about the flyers in Georgia, “We told our members to go out and pretty much counteract Martin Luther King’s birthday, who was a known communist–and we decided to put out Klan literature.”

The DeKalb County (AL) Superintendent Hugh Taylor banned a school history club from its collective attendance at a viewing of Selma because of “racial profanity.” The film features such icons as Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, Hosea Williams, and James Bevel as they marched from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 to fight for voting rights in the Jim Crow South. Rev. James Stanton, the black parents of a senior in the history club, spoke out against the white school official’s decision asking whether the school wants to keep students from knowing about the march. “I don’t believe it is just about the profanity,” he said. Stanton remembers watching Saving Private Ryan in that same school. That movie has an R rating for “battleground chatter” (aka frequent four-letter words) and the use of “Krauts” for Germans. Selma is rated P-13.

In other parts of the country, over 285,000 students in 24 cities saw the movie, thanks to the $2.1 million raised by a group called Selma for Students.

The Tea Party invited Dr. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon and possible African-American GOP presidential candidate, to celebrate the legacy of MLK on King’s birthday and the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act, mostly overturned by the Supreme Court. A caller responded to Carson’s appearance on the Fox network:

“You embody what MLK wanted for the black community. If you run for president, I’ll spread the word for people to vote for you.”

Carson told the caller not to worry about the negative impact of President Obama’s actions as the first black president because he was “half-white.”

President Obama is biracial, but he is perceived as black because of his appearance. Throughout his presidency, Barack Obama has been declared black, especially by all his racist haters.

Carson has a history of ignorant statements, many about the Affordable Care Act which benefits the blacks:

 “ObamaCare is the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. In a way, it is slavery, because it is making all of us subservient to the government.”

“[The ACA is worse than the 9/11 terrorists attacks] because 9/11 is an isolated incident. Things that are isolated issues as opposed to things that fundamentally change the United Sates of America and shift power from the people to the government.”

“I think what’s happening with the veterans [dying] is a gift from God to show us what happens when you take layers and layers of bureaucracy and place them between the patients and the health care provider.”

He also compared same-sex marriage to bestiality and pedophilia and tried to spread a rumor that President Obama would continue to be president by calling off the 2016 election through declaring martial law. According to Carson, the Advanced Placement history curriculum will cause students who learn about civil disobedience to join ISIL. He also wants to have the citizenship of non-citizens revoked if they are caught in voter fraud, a statement so ignorant that it was removed from his WND column. [For a taste of how wacko WND is, check out their website.]

The conservative National Center for Public Policy Research’s Project 21 black leadership network bends King’s words and intentions:

“One of Dr. King’s most important contributions was that he exhorted Americans to resist the gravitational pull of racial identity and famously challenged us all to value the content of character above skin color. Some contemporary ‘race leaders’ seek to limit Dr. King’s legacy by ghettoizing his impact and identifying him as a black leader.”– Joe R. Hicks

“Many of the so-called and self-appointed leaders of the racial grievance industry are guilty of bastardizing his mission. They use his legacy as an instrument to contribute to racial hostility under the false guise of racial justice.”– Derryck Green

Meanwhile, legislators refuse to return voting rights to everyone after the Supreme Court overturned the law that would help give these constitutional rights to all eligible people. Conservatives oppose affirmative-action laws using the false justification that King called for an end to “playing the race card.” Their belief is that a black student scoring 1820 on the SAT shouldn’t be admitted to UCLA over a white student who scored 1840.

As King wrote in Why We Can’t Wait: 

Whenever the issue of compensatory treatment for the Negro is raised, some of our friends recoil in horror. The Negro should be granted equality, they agree; but he should ask nothing more. On the surface, this appears reasonable, but it is not realistic… A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for the Negro.”

Preferential treatment for blacks in the 21st century means that blacks can sometimes be beaten and killed with more impunity than whites. It means that they can be turned down for jobs or refused housing with little justification. At the same time, people celebrate MLK Day and the man for which it is named without any anger about the rampant prejudice throughout the nation.

Almost 50 years after his death, the United States has sanitized King and his mission against injustices, turning him into a nice black man who quietly marched and gave eloquent speeches. Republicans claim that King is really one of them, and people who want unlimited gun ownership talk about King owning a gun. They forget that Southern Democrats during much of the 20th century blocked racial progress, and King decided not to keep the gun.

Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted a guaranteed minimum income for all people in the United States, connected to the median household income of the time. He wanted the United States out of Vietnam and called for reparations to blacks for their past centuries of mistreatment. He campaigned for class equality by addressing poverty, slums, housing segregation, and bank lending discrimination through a “radical redistribution of economic and political power.” A strong ally of labor unions, he was killed in Memphis where he was supporting a sanitation workers’ strike.

In the years before King’s murder, 63 percent of people in the U.S. had an unfavorable opinion of him. Now 94 percent of the population approve of him because he isn’t here to fight for his beliefs. If he were alive, he would be standing with poorly paid workers and against the NRA and bank abuse. He would call for taking money from the military to put into infrastructure, education, health care, and especially jobs. He would march with immigrants for immigration reform and with activists to end racial profiling, mass incarceration of youth, and the killing of young black men by police.

As a young person, King said, “A society based on making all the money you can and ignoring people’s needs is wrong.” He recognized that a purpose of racial segregation was to oppress working-class whites by letting them feel superior to blacks. He wrote, “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” He called America the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” He’s still right.

January 7, 2015

Call Out Police Who Fail to ‘Protect and Serve’

Grand juries failed to indict police at least three times during the past few months for suspect shootings, one of the victims holding a piece of Walmart merchandise and the other standing on a sidewalk. In the seven years between 2004 and 2011, charges were filed in only 41 cases of at least 2718 homicides committee by police officers. Conviction rates for cases that go to trial are only half than for all other people. Police are above the law as shown by the recent Supreme Court ruling in Heinen v. North Carolina that police can break the law with impunity if they claim ignorance.

Yet these rights are not enough for the police. Chuck Canterbury, president of the National Fraternal Order of Police, has asked for the addition of law enforcement to federal hate crime laws. A mentally disturbed person killed two NYPD officers, and the head of the city’s Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, Patrick Lynch, blamed Mayor Bill de Blasio and President Obama because they told the public that blacks are not safe with all police officers. There are statistics to prove this, but Lynch accused de Blasio of having “blood on his hands.”

Canterbury wants hate crimes based on occupation. He ignored the concept that hate crimes are against people for innate characteristics—sex, race, disability, etc.–except for religion.

In juvenile fashion, officers turned their back on the mayor at the funerals of both murdered police officers and held a work slowdown. As mayor, de Blasio is the boss of NYPD officers, but some misguided cadets booed him when he spoke at their graduation ceremony. Canterbury and Lynch actually want federal laws putting police officers above criticism. By their behavior, some police officers indicate that they consider themselves entitled to any behavior that they choose, arrogantly blaming the civilian for any problems. To these officers, their badge and gun give them any rights, including beating and killing people for no offense.

Today the New York Times published a scathing editorial on NYPD officers’ egregious behavior:

Mayor Bill de Blasio has been in office barely a year, and already forces of entropy are roaming the streets, turning their backs on the law, defying civil authority and trying to unravel the social fabric.

No, not squeegee-men or turnstile-jumpers. We’re talking about the cops.

For the second straight week, police officers across the city have all but stopped writing tickets and severely cut down the number of arrests. The Times reported that in the week ending Sunday, only 347 criminal summonses were issued citywide, down from 4,077 over the same period last year. Parking and traffic tickets were down by more than 90 percent. In Coney Island, ticketing and summonses fell to zero.

The city has been placed in an absurd position, with its police commissioner, William Bratton—a pioneer of “broken windows” policing who has just written a long, impassioned defense of that strategy as an essential crime-fighting tool—leading a force that is refusing to carry it out.

Police union officials deny responsibility for the mass inaction. But Edward Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said officers had talked among themselves and “it became contagious,” apparently like the flu.

Call this what it is: a reckless, coordinated escalation of a war between the police unions and Mr. de Blasio and a hijacking of law-enforcement policy by those who do not set law-enforcement policy. This deplorable gesture is bound to increase tension in a city already rattled over the killing by the police of an unarmed man, Eric Garner, last summer, the executions of two officers in Brooklyn last month, and the shootings on Monday of two plainclothes officers in the Bronx.

Mr. Bratton spoke delicately at a news conference on Monday. He said there could be other explanations, like officers being too busy handling police-reform demonstrations and attending funerals. He promised to investigate—and to “deal with it very appropriately, if we have to.”

Mr. de Blasio’s critics foretold doom when he was elected a year ago. They said graffiti, muggings and other crime would rush back with a vengeance. They were dead wrong — crime rates continued to decline to historic lows in 2014 — but now it seems the cops are trying to help prove them right.

The madness has to stop. The problem is not that a two-week suspension of “broken windows” policing is going to unleash chaos in the city. The problem is that cops who refuse to do their jobs and revel in showing contempt to their civilian leaders are damaging the social order all by themselves.

Mr. de Blasio, who has been cautious since the shootings, found his voice on Monday, saying for the first time that the police officers’ protests of turning their backs at the slain officers’ funerals had been disrespectful to the families of the dead. He was right, but he needs to do more.

He should appeal directly to the public and say plainly that the police are trying to extort him and the city he leads.

If the Police Department’s current commanders cannot get the cops to do their jobs, Mr. de Blasio should consider replacing them. He should invite the Justice Department to determine if the police are guilty of civil rights violations in withdrawing policing from minority communities. He should remind the police that they are public employees, under oath to uphold city and state laws.

If Mr. de Blasio’s critics are right and the city is coming unglued, it is not because of what he has done. He was elected by an overwhelming vote, because he promised action on police reform, starting with the end of stop-and-frisk tactics that corralled so many innocent New Yorkers into the criminal-justice system. The city got the mayor it wanted—and then, because of Mr. de Blasio, it got Mr. Bratton.

Mr. Bratton’s faith in “broken windows” needs rethinking. But nothing will be fixed as long as police officers are refusing to do their jobs.

A video emerged this week of a New York cop, apparently with nothing better to do, horsing around on the hood of a squad car, falling off and hitting his head. It would be hard to invent a more fitting image of the ridiculous—and dangerous—place this atmosphere of sullen insubordination has taken us.

Hugh Sansom commented:

“In October, 2011, the Bronx DA indicted 11 police officers for fixing tickets on behalf of family and friends. PBA members and Patrick Lynch rallied in support of these cop-lawbreakers. As NYC news organizations reported then they jeered at the DA. Some tried to intimidate cameramen. Many held signs saying that fixing tickets was part of the ‘NYPD culture.’ “

Of the 25 black police officers, both past and present, interviewed about being racially profiled, all by one said that it had happened to them. One third of those officers said that they complained to supervisors, and all except one “either dismissed the complaints or retaliated against them by denying them overtime, choice assignments, or promotions,” according to a story in the City Journal. 

Since NYPD officers started pouting, tickets and summonses for minor offenses shrank by 94 percent and overall arrests went down by 66 percent. A major problem from these actions is that police budgets will suffer from lack of fines that make up for funding shortfalls. On the other hand, city residents, particularly the targeted low-income people, will save money.

Last October, for example, a small group of black teenagers were told to leave a predominantly white neighborhood. An officer trailed them in his squad car and then shouted in his megaphone to “get out of the neighborhood.” A citizen questioned the action at a community meeting. The officer’s commanding officer, Captain Frank DiGiacomo, knew nothing about the event but said that his officer was probably trying to prevent crime. He said:

“Most of the crimes that happen in our command are from outside people committing the crimes. If [teens] are not playing basketball, you’re not playing soccer, you’re not doing something productive in the neighborhood, I can see [officers] moving them.”

The police no doubt assumed that the youth were “outside people” because they weren’t white.

Over a half century ago, African-American author James Baldwin, who grew up in New York, wrote:

“One day, to everyone’s astonishment, someone drops a match in the powder keg and everything blows up. Before the dust has settled or the blood congealed, editorials, speeches, and civil-rights commissions are loud in the land, demanding to know what happened. What happened is that Negroes want to be treated like men.”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, son and grandson of police officers, wrote:

“Those who are trying to connect the murders of the officers with the thousands of articulate and peaceful protestors across America are being deliberately misleading in a cynical and selfish effort to turn public sentiment against the protestors…. They hope to misdirect public attention and emotion in order to stop the protests and the progressive changes that have already resulted. Shaming and blaming is a lot easier than addressing legitimate claims.”

More people need to call out the police officers who fail the people they are hired “to protect and serve.”

December 29, 2014

Conservatives Lay Blame for Murders of NYPD Officers

Filed under: racism — trp2011 @ 7:46 PM
Tags: , , , ,

A bomb at a peaceful workers’ rally at Haymarket Square in Chicago in 1886 discredited a movement against police killings of worker protesters who fought for the eight-hour day. Now conservatives are using the killings of two New York police officers for the same purpose.

For the past five months, protesters have marched throughout the United States in opposition to police killings and the judicial exoneration of law enforcement officers who killed blacks, despite the insignificant or nonexistent offences such as jaywalking, selling cigarettes, or trying to buy an air rifle in a Walmart. Nine days ago, a mentally ill career criminal killed his girlfriend before traveling to New York and killing two police officers while they sat in a patrol car. He had no connections with either New York or the protest movement, but conservatives used this tragedy to blame protesters and their supporters.

Pundits Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, and Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association chief Patrick Lynch are a very few of those who decided to blame NY Mayor Bill de Blasio, activist Al Sharpton, and President Obama because of their statements that young black men may be at danger from law enforcement. There is strong support for these men to talk about the dangers of being a black man in the United States. A black man in his early twenties is 21 more times more likely to be killed by the police than a white male of the same age.

Not all police officers agree with the conservative pundits and politicians who blame progressives for the killing of these two police officers. Adhyl Polanco, a nine-year veteran officer of the NYPD, said that his fellow officers turning their backs on de Blasio was “absolutely wrong.” Polanco said, “This police department has a culture that is going to make whoever tried to change that culture and life impossible, including the mayor.”

Regarding de Blasio’s statement that he had to talk to his mixed-race son about the dangers he faces because of his racial background:

“How can a parent—how can a parent who has a black child, how can a parent that have seen millions of kids being stopped by stop-and-frisk—and you know the statistics of that—how can the parents of kids and see black kids get killed by police over and over, how can parents that see kids being summoned illegally, being arrested in their own building for trespassing, and being the treatment that they deserve from—they get from the police department—not from all officers, because not all officers are the same—how can you not responsibly to have that conversation with your son? You have to.”

According to Polanco, white police officers don’t need to have the same conversation with their white children.

The city’s police commissioner, Bill Bratton, agreed with the criticism, saying that it was “very inappropriate” for the police not to face de Blasio while he was eulogizing Rafael Ramos at his funeral. He said the police rancor toward de Blasio reflects broader conflicts over the union contract and other issues.

Conservative police hate de Blasio for the same reason that conservatives hate President Obama: their lack of authoritarianism. Both have tried to be inclusive in their administrations, and both received ridicule for this practice. Before Giuliani denigrated de Blasio for his understanding of protesters, he blasted the president for not being like Russia’s Vladimir Putin. De Blasio wants a police force that “protects and serves,” rather than one who instantly brings violence and death to the people who pay their salaries.

Giuliani is a leader of the party that relies on white voters. Without the constituents among minorities—people of color, women, LGBT, etc.—the GOP cannot afford to lose whites as well. Giuliani says, “We’ve had four months of propaganda starting with the president that everybody should hate the police,” and he means, “Hate the Democrats because they support blacks.” Many of Giuliani’s listeners ignore the fact that he is wrong about “the propaganda.” Politifact rated Giuliani’s comments as “pants on fire,” and the Washington Post gave Giuliani four (out of possible four) Pinocchios.

Giuliani wasn’t alone in his claims: former Rep. Joe Walsh accused Obama of having “blood on his hands,” and Erick Erickson said the president has “created a situation where Americans cheer police officers being gunned down.” Rush Limbaugh again raised the specter of race war, using rhetoric reminiscent of the 18th century that encouraged poor whites to join the slave owners because black slaves might revolt against all whites. Then and now, racists are painting blacks as bloodthirsty savages. No one in the protest movement has called for killing police officers despite Baltimore Fox Affiliate Fox 45’s cutting a protesters’ chant and changing “killer cop” into “kill a cop.”

After an investigation, federal government may indict police officers through a little known law. Department of Justice and FBI have for weeks been examining the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, John Crawford III, and Dontre Hamilton, all killed by police officers but not indicted through grand juries.

“Color of law” declares that anyone deprived of

“any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States … on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.”

This law was used to prosecute five New Orleans police officers over the shooting of six unarmed people on Danziger Bridge after the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, two of whom died. The officers were convicted, but a federal judge overturned the conviction and ordered a retrial. The officers are still in prison awaiting the trial. The LAPD officers who beat Rodney King were acquitted on state charges but later convicted for violating his 14th Amendment due-process rights.

If Giuliani and other people blame progressives for the deaths of the police officers, they must also blame conservatives who spew hateful invective. After Bill O’Reilly’s 28 episodes about “Tiller the Baby Killer,” activist Scott Roeder killed the Wichita abortion provider George Tiller while he was in church. After anti-government hysteria, Timothy McVeigh bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and injuring over 600. Fox network preaches hatred of Islam before people bomb an Islamic Center in Joplin (MO) and  Wade Michael Page kills four and wounds another six at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. NRA-lovers kill 28 in Newtown and 12 in Aurora (CO) while wounding another 70. After anti-IRS paranoia, Andrew Joseph Stack crashed a private plane into an IRS building in Austin (TX) and killed two people. Anti-LGBT activism leads to killing and beating thousands of suspected LGBT people. Sean Hannity supported Cliven Bundy’s “range war” against the BLM before his supporters Jerad and Amanda Miller killed five people in Las Vegas, including two police officers.

Because no official records of police killings exist, Congress voted to re-establish a federal database for all people in the U.S. killed in law enforcement detention or custody. Past efforts to collect information have not been successful, but states that fail to report the data can lose up to 10 percent of their federal law enforcement grants. The reports must include gender, race, and age. Perhaps the country will get a picture of who the police are killing. A follow-up to that should be a record of everyone who is killed in the United States through violence.

December 4, 2014

Conservatives Blame Police Killings on Big Government

Some conservatives have joined progressives in decrying the lack of an indictment for a police officer who killed a 43-year-old Staten Island man with a chokehold. Last July, Daniel Pantaleo joined other police officers in taking down Eric Garner while he was standing on the street. Within minutes Garner was dead, as a video of the tragedy shows. After the grand jury released its decision not to indict Pantaleo, people across the country filled streets in protest.

Conservatives objection, however, comes from their belief that big government is responsible for Garner’s death. Without high cigarette taxes in New York, Garner would not have died, according to Lawrence McQuillan in the Washington Times:

“[E]very vote for higher taxes gives police increased authority to exert more force on citizens in more situations. Higher excise taxes inevitably lead to more violent clashes between police and smugglers…. Eliminating punitive cigarette taxes would shrink the underground market and help redirect police resources to combating real crimes of force and violence, rather than empowering police to employ violence in the name of tax collection.”

Those who question such taxes fail to understand the benefits of a law that gives people a better quality of life through reducing smoking. Libertarians argue that these taxes are an undemocratic intrusion into private lives. Yet McQuillan’s logic requires the elimination of all taxes because they use police resources “to employ violence in the name of tax collection.” He fails to understand that no taxes means no government services—including police.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), potential presidential candidate, followed the same distorted line of reasoning last night when he appeared on Chris Matthews MSNBC program, Hard Ball. After expressing initial dismay about the video of Garner crying out “I can’t breathe” multiple times, Rand concluded:

“I think it’s also important to know that some politician put a tax of $5.85 on a pack of cigarettes. So they’ve driven cigarettes underground by making them so expensive. But then some politician also had to direct the police to say, ‘Hey, we want you arresting people for selling a loose cigarette.’ And for someone to die over breaking that law, there really is no excuse for it. But I do blame the politicians.”

Rand ignored the fact that Garner died because a police officer violated NYPD rules by putting Garner in a chokehold and holding his head against the ground.

It’s not the first time that Rand has exonerated police action by blaming “politicians” and “the war on drugs.” In a Time op-ed piece published after the grand jury failed to indict Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson (MO), Rand wrote:

“Escaping the poverty trap will require all of us to relearn that not only are we our brother’s keeper, we are our own keeper. While a hand-up can be part of the plan, if the plan doesn’t include the self-discovery of education, work, and the self-esteem that comes with work, the cycle of poverty will continue.”

According to Rand, Brown was responsible for his own death because he failed to participate in “self-discovery.” Nowhere did Rand mention that Brown was only one month away from attending a vocational education school after having graduated from high school—those pieces of “education” and “work.”

Rand also got his information wrong. According to his op-ed, “In Ferguson, the precipitating crime was not drugs, but theft.” Much of the information released before the grand jury proved that Wilson didn’t know that Brown had participated in an alleged crime. Brown’s crime was jaywalking.

According to conservatives, the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner had nothing to do with racism: it was only because of the liberals’ insistence on the “nanny state.” Without taxes and handouts, the poor would disappear, and the police would have no need to kill those who they are employed to protect.

Yet conservatives ignore the problem of police across the United States who evidence racial prejudice in their community. Five officers in Montgomery County (OH) are being investigated but are still being paid, three of them remaining on the job, for such text messages as “I hate n*ggers. That is all” and “What do apples and black people have in common? They both hang from trees.”

Brown and Garner aren’t the only black men recently killed by white officers. John Crawford is dead after he shopped in Walmart and picked up a toy gun; Darrien Hunt was killed with multiple shots in his back for carrying a toy sword; and 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed in Cleveland because he openly carried a toy gun—legal in Ohio.

According to footage, Rice was shot within two seconds of the police officer’s pulling up in his car. The killer, Timothy Loehmann, had been judged unfit for police work two years ago by his then-employer, Independence (OH), that cited his “dismal” handgun performance. An investigation into Cleveland’s police division for the past 18 months revealed that officers “carelessly fire their weapons, placing themselves, subjects, and bystanders at unwarranted risk of serious injury or death.” Two examples were police shooting an unarmed hit-and-run suspect in the neck and firing 24 rounds in a residential neighborhood, hitting 14 parked cars and another six hits of houses. A police chase two years ago used at least 62 vehicles and 137 bullets to kill two unarmed black suspects, each sustaining over 20 gunshot wounds.

Last spring, a police officer, 47-year-old Frank Phillips, was photographed choking a drunken student at an end-of-the-year party at the University of Tennessee. Two other police officers handcuffed the man. Within hours of the photo being published in the UK Daily Mail, Phillips was fired, and the officers handcuffing him were placed on leave. The choked man is white and still alive.

Ethan Couch is still alive after he killed four people and injured two others in a drunken joy ride. He is now safe in an upscale rehab facility and facing another nine years of rehabilitation and probation. Kevin Miner, who kicked an officer and broke his hand when found hiding in a stranger’s basement, was arrested with no one shot or otherwise hurt. Cliven Bundy is considered a hero after he organized an army in Nevada that threatened government officials with high-powered weapons. All these men are white. White people are inconvenienced; black people are killed. Much more information is available at hashtag #CrimingWhileWhite where white people are recording their easy escapes from police action after committing crimes.

Satirist Andy Borowitz has a solution for the grand jury lack of indictment: supply them with eyes. Dorrinson is a mythical senator used in several of Borowitz’s columns. In this one he said:

“Body cameras are an important part of the solution. But I strongly believe that if you take video evidence and add eyes, the combination would be unstoppable.” [In response to the request for working brains:] “Yes, in a perfect world, all grand juries would have brains. But progress is an incremental thing. Let’s start with eyes and eventually work our way up to brains.”

Even former RNC chair Michael Steele understands the problem in the United States when white police officers can kill black people with impunity although evidence shows that the police are in the wrong. He said that “a black man’s life is not worth a ham sandwich” to grand juries and the prosecutors who are hired to fight for an indictment.

Those who are convinced that there was no racial motivation in no indictment in the Garner case should imagine the response from Fox and other far-right sources if the police officer had been black and the victim a wealthy white man.

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