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California and the U.S.

Public defenders from the Bay to Brooklyn take to the streets to hold police accountable

December 19, 2014

More than 200 public defenders and allies held a protest Dec. 18 on the steps of San Francisco’s criminal courthouse to show support for racial justice and stand in solidarity with protesters around the country. At least 200 public defenders walked off their jobs in Brooklyn on Dec. 17, staging a march and “die-in” to highlight the pervasiveness of racial inequality in the criminal justice system

Supporters of Rev. Pinkney gather outside the courthouse after his sentencing. He is strongly supported in Benton Harbor, loved for his courage in defending the town from extinction at the hands of officials who take orders from Whirlpool and other corporate bosses rather than the people. – Photo: ABC News

Civil rights leader Rev. Edward Pinkney sentenced to 2 ½ to 10 years by Berrien County Court

December 15, 2014

Berrien County Judge Sterling Schrock sentenced the leader of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization, Rev. Edward Pinkney, to 30-120 months in prison based on an all-white jury’s verdict of guilty on five felony counts of forgery. The charges stemmed from a successful recall petition drive against Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower, who is perceived as a tool of the Whirlpool Corp. and the political power structure in the area.

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St. Louis Rams players Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, Chris Givens and Kenny Britt took the field signaling “Hands up, don't shoot” to protest the police murder of Michael Brown at the start of the Oakland Raiders game on Sunday, Nov. 30. – Photo: Jeff Curry, USA Today Sports

Put those police cameras on the bankers

December 8, 2014

A week ago Sunday, five St. Louis Rams professional football players entered a game with their hands up, protesting the killing of Michael Brown. They stand in the lineage of John Carlos and Tommie Smith, of Muhammad Ali, identifying with the pain in their communities and turning protest into power. The gesture turned to chants – “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” – in demonstrations across the country.

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Protesters in New York City Dec. 4 demand change after the refusal to indict the police officer who murdered Eric Garner with a chokehold. – Photo: Ellen Davidson

People power grows, demands justice

December 7, 2014

This week tens of thousands of people in the United States flooded the streets to demand racial justice. It is one of many issues that have been building for years, reaching the tipping point and seeming to explode in a national awakening. We also saw that in the last two weeks with national protests for living wages. Four years ago we listed 15 crisis issues that the country needed to face; poverty wages and the injustice in criminal enforcement, including racially abusive police practices, were two of them.

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A man is arrested by police after kneeling in the street during a protest outside the Ferguson Police Department on Saturday, Nov. 29. – Photo: Jeff Roberson, AP

Why we won’t wait: Resisting the war against the Black and Brown underclass

December 4, 2014

Wait. Patience. Stay Calm. We’ve been waiting for dozens, hundreds, thousands of indictments and convictions. Every death hurts. Every exonerated cop, security guard or vigilante enrages. The grand jury’s decision doesn’t surprise most Black people because we are not waiting for an indictment. We are waiting for justice – or more precisely, struggling for justice. The young people of Ferguson continue to struggle with ferocity.

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“I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” gasped Eric Garner, 43, an asthmatic father of six, as NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo held him in a death grip. Pantaleo has been accused of being heavy handed with other Black suspects in the past.

SF public defender: NYC grand jury decision on Eric Garner ‘would defy belief – if it didn’t happen so often’

December 3, 2014

As San Francisco Public Defender, I am profoundly dismayed by a Staten Island grand jury’s refusal to bring charges against Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner. The struggle that ended in Garner’s death was caught entirely on video. A grand jury refusing to indict in such an evidence-heavy case would defy belief – if it didn’t happen so often.

Time to stop racially motivated killings

December 3, 2014

Every day on the news we see reports of young people being killed by police and other members of society, senseless murders that snuff out the lives of our youth before they have had the chance to truly live. So much potential lost, so many hopes and dreams gone down the grave, so many lives shattered. We get angry and organize protests and marches in the cities and towns where these murders occur but what are we doing to prevent them?

In “Superheroes,” Donald Lacy as Rev reassures Britney Frazier, who plays Magnolia, the Rick Ross character’s girlfriend. She’s the one who gives the story of the CIA-crack connection to the reporter.

Donald Lacy’s historic interview: Gary Webb tells how the government flooded Black hoods with crack

November 29, 2014

The Bay View thanks Donald Lacy for making the recording of this incomparable historic interview available for publication in print for the first time. Don’t miss “Superheroes,” inspired by Gary Webb and “Dark Alliance,” which Lacy calls “the most important play written in the last 25 years.” It runs Nov. 21-Dec. 21 at the Cutting Ball Theater, 277 Taylor St., San Francisco.

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Then take the money you didn’t spend and #InvestInJustUs. Acknowledge and support our justice-seeking institutions who labor to defend us 365 days a year.

Beyond #BoycottBlackFriday, Invest in Justice #InvestInJustUs

November 27, 2014

The call to action here is to, while outraged, spend some time and energy focusing on what we have, who stands for us, who needs our help. So YES to #BoycottBlackFriday and yes to #InvestInJustUs. Let’s acknowledge and support our justice-seeking institutions who labor to defend us 365 days a year.

Thanksgiving and Ferguson: Mixed generation Black immigrant family’s holiday meal

November 27, 2014

As thanksgiving approaches, many of us are receiving messages that reflect on what we should be thankful for. Coming on the heels of the grand jury decision on Michael Brown, it is obvious some of us may not be feeling particularly blessed and thankful, living in a system that threatens our boys – our lives. Like all families across this nation that mix generations of American kids with immigrant parents and grandparents, the story is mixed and at times complicated.

Dorian Johnson – Photo: Laurie Skrivan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

SF Public Defender calls refusal to indict Ferguson killer cop legal, ethical racial bias

November 26, 2014

Wilson’s description of Brown as a “demon” with superhuman strength and unremitting rage and his description of the neighborhood as “hostile” illustrate implicit racial bias that taints use-of-force decisions. These biases surely contribute to the fact that African Americans are 21 times more likely to be shot by police than whites in the U.S., but the statement’s racial implications remained unexamined.

Michael Brown Sr.

Who torched Michael Brown Sr.’s church the day after his baptism?

November 26, 2014

The pastor said he doubted the same people who were raging on the other end of West Florissant had burned his church. Instead, he said, he suspected white supremacists who wanted to punish him for his support of the Brown family, who had just been baptized there.

Cheris Place writes: “Immediately after the shooting, people poured out in the streets in shock and sympathy for the family. It started out as a peaceful protest and a candlelight memorial for this young man. However, Ferguson and St. Louis County sent in cops in riot gear, and reportedly allowed their dog to urinate on the flowers Michael’s mother had put over his blood.”

Let’s talk about Ferguson

November 23, 2014

I was born and raised in Missouri, so hopefully I can shed some light on how Ferguson, a little Missouri suburb of 21,000 people, became the focus of the nation, and even the world. I am getting the stench that they’re about to pull the pin on another grenade to throw that community into upheaval, so first let’s take a hard look at what they’ve been through and why. First of all, when we think of racism, we tend to think of Mississippi and Alabama due to the events of the ‘60s. However, Missouri was one of the bloodiest states during the Civil War because it was so divided – and it is still that divided today, as we’ve seen in Ferguson.

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St. Louis rebels Chip Wiley and his friend Tommy exchange war stories and pictures from the previous night. These photos were taken in August, in over 100-degree heat. – Photo: JR Valrey, Block Report

From the front lines in Ferguson: ‘We will go out hard’

November 19, 2014

They’re like, “Fuck it. I can die out here for nothing going at these cats from the other side or I could die for justice tonight with these police.” They’re fearless – they’re ready to be a martyr. Now all of this money that it must cost to bring all these cops in, … all y’all had to do was put one man in jail. That’s it! A thousand police officers are going to be here in St. Louis and for what? To go out and kill another unarmed Black kid in the streets and then leave him there for four hours? I think that the ripple effect of this is going to rock the whole nation. It could be the tipping point for race relations in America when it comes to policing.

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“Police officers move in to arrest protesters as they push and clear crowds out of the West Florissant Avenue area in Ferguson, Mo., early Wednesday, Aug. 20,” reads the AP caption. – Photo: Curtis Compton, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Ten illegal police actions to watch for in Ferguson

November 18, 2014

When the Michael Brown verdict is announced, people can expect the police to take at least 10 different illegal actions to prevent people from exercising their constitutional rights. The Ferguson police have been on TV more than others, so people can see how awful they have been acting. But their illegal police tactics are unfortunately quite commonly used by other law enforcement in big protests across the U.S.

Advocates celebrate Prop. 47 victory against mass incarceration and war on drugs but raise concerns about where the funding will go: four perspectives

November 6, 2014

On Nov. 4, California voters passed criminal justice reform measure Proposition 47. Proposition 47 changes the lowest level drug possession and petty theft crimes from felonies to simple misdemeanors for some people. Although re-sentencing is not guaranteed, up to 10,000 people in California’s prisons and jails will be eligible for resentencing, and newly sentenced individuals who meet the requirements will be under county jurisdiction.

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Prop 47: We support it, but it’s complicated …

November 3, 2014

You may be aware of California’s ballot initiative Prop 47, which would reduce six crimes that could be charged as felonies to misdemeanors and prevent thousands of people from being incarcerated. Prop 47 represents an important opportunity to push back on overcharging people for crimes that leads to mass incarceration. All of Us or None will continue to loudly demand an end to overcharging and for the freedom of our people.

NAAFRA: We need a youth hip-hop vanguard for change

October 29, 2014

NAAFRA, our family movement, calls for a youth vanguard to provide added strength for immediate results. The need for a youth vanguard is made very clear in Ferguson, Missouri, where the world has been watching our youth confront a militarized police force prepared to fire on unarmed Black citizens. With these courageous youth directly in the line of fire, at that moment we were too close to a line we do not want to cross.

World famous commentator and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal gave the commencement speech Oct. 5 at Goddard College, where he earned his degree, at the invitation of the students and with the backing of the administration, which had to move the ceremony forward three hours to avoid threatened disruption from police who have long sought to silence Mumia. Immediately, Philadelphia’s Fraternal Order of Police pressured the state Legislature for this Victim Revictimization Relief Act, enabling victims to sue to stop a prisoner from causing them mental anguish, thus silencing Mumia and other state prisoners. “Unconstitutional Tom” Corbett, Pennsylvania’s very unpopular governor, urged legislators to pass the bill. They did and he signed it on Oct. 21. Prison censorship has hit a new low!

Another ‘Mumia Rule’

October 28, 2014

Anyone even remotely familiar with my case knows about the “Mumia Rule.” That’s when the court or agency changes its rule or precedent to go against me. When Amnesty International wrote about my case, that was its essential focus: that laws and precedents that applied to other cases would be changed when it came to me. Now, the Mumia Rule has been enacted into law, the so-called Victim Revictimization Act.

Corrections Dept. agents bang on activist’s door at 8 a.m. over a postcard she wrote to a prisoner

October 27, 2014

This morning, Monday, Oct. 27, 2014, at 8 a.m., I woke up to sounds of hard banging at my door. I thought it was the person to fix my broken heater, but once I looked outside my peephole I saw what I thought were two sheriff’s officers. My heart pounded thinking something terrible had happened to my child if two officers are standing outside my door with full blown police gear on.

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