On April 19, 2015, Freddie Gray of Baltimore, Maryland, was murdered by officers of the Baltimore Police Department while in their custody. An article published in The Atlantic three days after Gray’s death pointed out the historical precedent for this particular kind of state violence. The author wrote, “Black men dying at the hands of the police is of course nothing new.” The “peculiar institution” of this violent and racist system can be better understood by tracing the lineage of the police back in time.
Something amazingly powerful is happening all over the country with America’s youth. In 34 states, with at least 44 high schools, 21 colleges, and two youth sports leagues, brilliant, bold, courageous young student athletes – ranging from football players to cheerleaders to volleyball players and marching bands – have all taken a knee during the Star Spangled Banner to protest police brutality and racial injustice in America.
She was born Alice Faye Williams in the dusty little town of Lumberton, North Carolina, on Jan. 10, 1947, a dimpled little Black girl, who grew into a petite young revolutionary known as Afeni Shakur, mother of a young rap icon and actor, Tupac Amaru Shakur. Like many country people – and far too many Black people – she looked down on herself for years, as not smart enough, not pretty enough – you know: too Black. Afeni Shakur, after 69 springs, returns to the infinite.
“My dream was to develop a new color that no one had ever seen in life. It hasn’t come true yet, but that was a dream of mine when I was a little girl,” says Bay Area muralist Edyth Boone in the documentary about her life, called “A New Color: The Art of Being Edythe Boone.” It screens on April 6, 5:15 p.m. at Holy Names University, 3500 Mountain Blvd., Oakland, as a part of the Oakland International Film Festival.
2015 was a historic political year for the African continent because one of the continent’s most radical anti-imperialist leaders chaired the African Union, and I am talking about President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. I talked with Obi Egbuna, the U.S. correspondent for the Zimbabwean national newspaper, The Herald, about what President Mugabe accomplished leading Zimbabwe and the African Union in 2015. Here is what he had to say.
After just under an hour of deliberation, a Manhattan jury acquitted Atlanta Hawks guard Thabo Sefolosha of misdemeanor charges ranging from obstructing government administration and disorderly conduct to resisting arrest last week. The charges stemmed from a late-night confrontation with the New York Police Department last April that left Thabo with a broken leg.
NBA player Thabo Sefolosha had his leg broken by the New York Police Department, an undisputed fact that is still stunning to contemplate. This week, Thabo has been in criminal court as prosecutors attempt to imprison him for the crime of “resisting arrest.” In actuality, he is being prosecuted for not going away quietly: choosing instead to fight back. His testimony, and the testimony of witnesses, could mean that they will not get away with it.
In May 2014, President Obama told graduating West Point army cadets, “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.” One area in which the U.S. is unquestionably exceptional is the level of state violence directed against African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and working and poor people of all nationalities. U.S. police killings outnumber those in other developed capitalist countries by as much as 100-1!
Over the last month, we have seen a veritable “Sports World Spring” as athletes have spoken out on politics in a manner unseen since the 1960s. They have been inspired by the #BlackLivesMatter demonstrations directed against the killing of unarmed Black men and women by police as well as the inability of the criminal justice system to deliver justice. Now, in the wake of the horrific killing of two NYPD detectives, everything has changed.
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.
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.
The SF Bay View newspaper is working to gather enough funds to send JR Valrey to the frontlines in Ferguson, Missouri, site of the biggest protests against police terrorism since Oakland rose up to demand justice for Oscar Grant. They started Saturday, when a police officer murdered unarmed Michael Brown, 18, for walking in the roadway with his friend. Most corporate media is working to distort the story and demonize the righteous anger of the people. Michael’s family and friends and the people of Ferguson need the Black press to tell their truth.
“They will try to scandalize the deceased,” Rev. Al Sharpton said of the NYPD and what he anticipated they would say. “The issue is not about an unarmed man selling cigarettes … It’s about a man who was subjected to a chokehold and is no longer with us.” At that point, Esaw Garner collapsed and had to be held up by Sharpton and Rev. Herbert Daughtry. All of Garner’s relatives were in pain and weeping as they left the stage. Sure enough, at a press conference, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton began his remarks by citing the arrest record of Garner and explaining that the police were there to apprehend Garner for the sale of illegal cigarettes.
Recently, the U.N. Human Rights Committee issued a report excoriating the United States for its human rights violations. It focuses on violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the country is party. The report mentions 25 human rights issues where the United States is failing. This piece focuses on a few of those issues – Guantanamo, NSA surveillance, accountability for Bush-era human rights violations, drone strikes, racism in the prison system, racial profiling, police violence and criminalization of the homeless.
This is the voice of a mother crying for the freedom of her child, Anthony Leonard Bottom, aka Jalil Muntaqim, who has been swallowed up in the New York penal system for 37 years, 1977-2014. My child has been held captive in the belly of New York state prisons without any regard for his constitutional human rights. Consequently, as a political prisoner, he has become a forgotten, disenfranchised citizen of the United States of America.
In this morning’s John Gambling radio show, Mayor Michael Bloomberg criticized Davis v. City of New York, a putative class action lawsuit filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) and co-counsel the Legal Aid Society on behalf of plaintiffs challenging the NYPD’s policy and practice of unlawfully stopping and arresting public housing residents and their guests for trespassing.
The U.S. State Department recently released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012, posing as the world judge of human rights again. As in previous years, the reports are full of carping and irresponsible remarks on the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China. However, the U.S. turned a blind eye to its own woeful human rights situation and never said a word about it.
Hundreds of Oakland residents turned out to voice their opinions about the City Council hiring William Bratton as a $250,000 a year consultant to help bring down an escalating crime rate. They accuse him of instituting “stop and frisk,” a program that they say is the blue print for racial profiling. Bratton’s background suggests there may be a lot more to be concerned about than stop and frisk.
Hundreds turned out for Oakland City Council's Public Safety Committee meeting on Jan. 15, 2013, to oppose paying $250,000 to bring “supercop” William Bratton and his "stop and frisk" and other zero tolerance police policies to Oakland. The bid for Bratton’s consult seems to be simply Oakland throwing good money after bad.
Oakland’s mayor, chief of police, and city manager announced their intentions to contract with William Bratton as a consultant to the Oakland Police Department. Oakland has become the epicenter of anti-brutality campaigns, so those who want the brutality to continue are bringing in their big guns. Join the Justice for Alan Blueford Coalition and allies on Tuesday, Jan. 15, to tell the Oakland City Council that we reject Bill Bratton and his racist, fascist policies. Meet up at 5:00 for a rally with the meeting at 5:30.
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