Archive for September 2014

No Indictment in Cop Killing of John Crawford III at Wal-Mart

prn_montage_20141001.jpgStudent leaders in Ohio plan further mobilizations in the wake of the failure of a Green County, Ohio, grand jury to indict the police who shot 22-year-old John Crawford III, on August 5. Crawford was killed while talking on his cell phone and handling a toy air rifle on display at the store. “I’m a direct reflection of John Crawford,” said Jovan Webster, of the Ohio Student Association. “I’m around the same age, same color, same culture. Me holding a candy bar is threatening in America.”

Change of Mayor in New York, but No Change in Police Behavior

Statistics show that New York City police arrested virtually the same number of Black and brown people on petty “quality of life” charges in 2014 as during the previous year, despite the intervening election of “liberal” mayor Bill de Blasio. “The current NYPD is continuing the same harsh, aggressive ‘broken windows’ type of policing that characterized the [Mayor Michael] Bloomberg years,” said Robert Gangi, executive director of the Police Reform Organizing Project.

Bias Against Black Women and Girls Not a Priority

A new study released by the National Women’s Law Center and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund says more attention needs to be paid to specific bias against Black females. The report is titled “Unlocking Opportunity for African American Girls: A Call to Action for Educational Equity.” According to the law center’s Fatima Goss Graves, “the suspension rate for African American girls is around 12 percent, which is far higher than any other group of girls and higher than most groups of boys.” Black women are the only major group for whom joblessness has not declined, and 43 percent of Black women without a high school diploma live in poverty.

Palestine and Ferguson: The Parallels of Oppression

The Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz Center, formerly the Audubon Ballroom, hosts “The World Stands with Palestine” rally on October 11, in New York’s Harlem. “There are so many parallels” between the plight of the Palestinian people and the oppression of Blacks in the U.S., said Dr. Robyn Spencer, professor of history at Lehman College and an organizer of the rally. “The reality of occupation; economic underdevelopment of Palestinian territories; the ways in which daily life is militarized; the cultural appropriation – the parallels are really strong,” said Dr. Spencer. The lineup includes Mumia Abu Jamal, Rebel Diaz and a host of other speakers and cultural icons.

Don’t Cheer Obama Just Because You Hate ISIS

Speaking to a teleconference of UNAC, the United National Anti-War Coalition, activist academic Dr. Vijay Prashad said peace forces must challenge those who think “imperialism is a hammer that can be used for the purposes of the Left.” The same argument was made in 2011, 

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when the U.S. and its allies bombed the government of Muammar Gaddafi out of existence, resulting in disaster for the people of Libya, said Prashad, a professor of history and international relations at Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut.

Obama Displays Phenomenal “Chutzpah” at UN

Paul Street, the author and activist who has followed Barack Obama’s career since the early days in Chicago, says the president reached new heights of hypocrisy and “chutzpah” at the United Nations, last week. Obama claims to be “outraged at the brutality of ISIS,” said Street, but the U.S. “killed 500,000 Iraqi children through economic sanctions in the 1990s.” The president cites ISIS’s “Network of Death,” but “the U.S. maintains more than 1,000 military installations across more than 100 sovereign nations. Is that not a ‘Network of Death?’” Street is author of The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama and the Real World of Power.

Mumia: The U.S. is the Architect of Destruction

Everything Washington touches turns to chaos and death, said Mumia Abu Jamal, the nation’s best known political prisoner. Libya and Iraq “are horrific examples of U.S. interventions that have plunged both societies into deadly hell-scapes,” said Abu Jamal, in a report for Prison Radio. Obama’s war in Syria promises more suffering for the country’s people, who Washington treats as “collateral damage.”

Atlanta Hosts Celebration of Rwanda’s Criminal Regime

“Rwanda Day” – a public relations event showcasing an economy fueled by the systematic plundering of neighboring Congo’s resources and the slaughter of six million Congolese – was nevertheless a popular destination for some Black American notables, who registered their approval of Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame. The warlord’s regime has amassed lots of loot, said Black Agenda Report managing editor Bruce Dixon, and the Black political class “wants a cut.”

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Obama Plans “Rebel” Assault on Damascus Under U.S. Air Cover

prn_montage_20140924.jpgThe “real objective” of President Obama’s latest mobilization in the Middle East is to deploy U.S. air power to support a renewed “rebel” assault on Damascus, the Syrian capital, from the south, said veteran human rights activist Ajamu Baraka. Washington’s plan remains “to engage in regime change in Syria,” which is why it gave ISIS and other jihadist groups “the green light” to ravage that nation for the last three years. The U.S. is “playing with forces that they think they can control, but history has already proven that those forces have agendas of their own” and are not controllable, said Baraka, an editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report.

Ohio Students Press for Federal Intervention in Police Killing of John Crawford III

Twenty-three year-old John Crawford III was shopping at a local Wal-Mart in Green County, Ohio, examining a toy air rifle on display and talking on his cell phone, when police shot him dead, August 5. The Ohio Students Association and two other young people’s organizations, fearing a whitewash by an “old boys network,” have launched an extended campaign to compel the U.S. Justice Department to enter the case. The state attorney general was a prosecutor in Green County, as is his daughter, and the officer that shot Crawford killed another man in 2010, but was never indicted, said student organizer James Hayes. “Young people are coming of age at a time where this violence is so common, it’s predictable,” said Hayes. “We’re in this for the long haul; we’ve got our eyes on the prize.”

U.S. Prison Population on the Rise Again

The nation’s prison population increased slightly in 2013, after a three-year downward trend. Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, points out that the recent period of decline “only happened after nearly 40 years of record historic rises in the inmate population to more than two million people behind bars.” Three states – New Jersey, New York and California – were responsible for much of the previous decreases, with California under court order to reduce its prison population. Those who thought mass incarceration could be cured by “tinkering around the edges” of the system, were wrong, said Mauer. “This is the result of centuries of a racist history, particularly in the justice system.”

“Rwanda Day”: Propaganda Based on Lies

Thousands flocked to Atlanta to celebrate – or protest against – “Rwanda Day,” a yearly public relations event staged by the Rwandan government of dictator and warlord Paul Kagame. The minority, Tutsi-dominated regime and its western backers claim Kagame’s military stopped the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and then brought prosperity to the country. But the truth is far different, said Claude Gatebuke, a genocide survivor and executive director of the African Great Lakes Action Network. Rwanda’s relative prosperity is based on “billions of dollars in diamonds and coltan and other minerals stolen from” the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, where Rwandan and Ugandan troops uNaming, Shaming the Black Caucus, These Joes Ain't Loyal, ISIS, Wayne Pharrnleashed a genocide that has claimed six million lives.

Aristide Under House Arrest in Haiti

Former Haitian president Jean Bertrand Aristide, who was overthrown by the U.S. in 2004, is under house arrest on orders of a judge allied with the U.S.-backed current president, Michel “Sweet Mickey” Martelly. The vague charges against Aristide – of stealing public funds while in office – are “completely bogus” and create a climate reminiscent of “the bad old days” under the Duvalier dictatorship, said Pierre Labossiere, co-founder of the Haiti Action Committee. Labossiere said it’s all part of a scheme to “smear Fanmi Lavalas,” Aristide’s political party, and once again “banish them from elections” – or to cancel elections altogether and allow Martelly to rule by decree.

Mumia: The Lures of War

The 2008 version of Barack Obama looked to many “like the antidote to the bellicosity of George W. Bush,” said Mumia Abu Jamal, the nation’s best known political prisoner. But, once in office, “the lures of war have been almost impossible to resist.” The U.S. has reportedly launched 94,000 drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. How many people have died? “We don’t know,” said Abu Jamal – and most Americans “don’t care.”

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“Shame on the Congressional Black Caucus” Rally

 

prn_montage_20140917.jpgThe Israeli bombing of Gaza “was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back,” said Asantawaa Nkrumuah Ture, an organizer of a “Shame on the CBC” rally set for September 24 in front of the Washington Convention Center, where the Black Caucus opens its annual legislative conference and gala. “It’s well past time for us to hold them accountable.” The protesters want to “start a conversation, nationally,” said Nkrumah Ture, “not only regarding the Black Caucus’ support of apartheid Israel, about also their position on Internet neutrality, their ties with corporate America,” and the CBC’s overwhelming vote, in June, to continue militarization of local police forces.

Motive: Black. Penalty: Death

 

When Duane Buck faced sentencing on a murder conviction in a Houston courtroom, the judge allowed “expert” testimony that Blacks were inherently more dangerous than whites. On August 29, a federal judge called the testimony “repugnant and dangerous,” but upheld the death sentence, anyway. “It is absolutely shocking, it is stunning, it is appalling and it sets a terrifying precedent,” said Christina Swarns, litigation director for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is handling Buck’s appeal. “This is asking a jury to rely on race to impose a death sentence.”

New York City Needs Justice, Not More Police Training

 

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton defended his “Broken Windows” policing policies before the New York City Council, claiming there’s nothing wrong with the NYPD that $30 million in training and 1,000 more cops can’t cure. Josmar Trujillo, of New Yorkers Against Bratton, disagrees. “The police department is one of the most trained in the world,” said Trujillo. “Training isn’t the issue. The systemic culture of brutality, which is reinforced by institutional racism, is really the conversation we need to be having.”

Obama Targets Syria, Not ISIS

 

President Obama’s bombing offensive in Iraq and Syria “brings humanity closer to world war than we have been, maybe, in 80 years,” said scholar and activist Dr. Anthony Monteiro. Although purportedly aimed at ISIS, Washington is actually targeting the Syrian government, Iran and, ultimately, Russia. Obama’s arming of so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels is a farce, said Monteiro. “There is no ‘moderate’ opposition to the Assad government. It is all extreme, gangster, thuggish militants who are funded by some of the very nations that are part of the ‘coalition of the willing.’” Dr. Monterio is fighting his termination from the African American Studies department at Temple University, in Philadelphia.

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U.S. Proxy Wars Empower Jihadists and Nazis

 

“The United States is essentially contracting out its wars” in Libya, Syria and Ukraine, said Eric Draitser, an independent political analyst and publisher of StopImperialism.com. “The proxy wars that the United States has begun all over the world are part and parcel of a larger imperial agenda” dating from U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Central America. The Islamic State “is a by-product of U.S. foreign policy, just as the Nazis in Ukraine are a by-product of U.S. foreign policy,” said Draitser.

September Surge in EEOC Case Dismissals

 

Every year about this time, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission dismisses tens of thousands of discrimination cases, citing “lack of evidence” and a perennial backlog. “There is no backlog,” said Ricardo Jones, a former chief investigator for the EEOC in New York. “There’s been 15 years of not paying overtime” to deal with legitimate complaints, while the money “has basically gone to managers.”

Black President Doesn’t Respect Black Culture or History

 

Dr. Donald Smith, a founder of the National Alliance of Black School Educators, will be honored at a conference on Education for Liberation in the African American Tradition, in New York, October 10. Dr. Smith said Black history and culture is disappearing from classrooms around the country. “The major challenge begins in the White House, with a president who does not believe in Black culture as being essential to the education, not only of children of African descent, but of all American children,” said Smith.

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Hundreds Arrested Demanding $15 and Hour and a Union

prn_montage_20140910.jpgDarius Cephas, a McDonald’s worker from Boston, was one of more than 500 fast food employees arrested during strike and civil disobedience actions in 150 cities, last week. “It shows how strong and how powerful our voices are; the fact that everybody is trying to find out how folks are raising children on $8 an hour,” said Cephas, an activist with the Fast Food Campaign. “We are here and we’re not going away they until they raise the pay and let us form a union without retaliation.”

Mass Incarceration is Built into the System

Events in Ferguson, Missouri, “have changed the way that people all across the country look at mass incarceration, police terror and the criminalization of Black youth,” said Carl Dix, of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, which has declared October a “month of resistance.” Simply adding more Black cops to the equation won’t solve the problem “because we’re dealing with something that is built into the fabric of this capitalist system.”

Draconian Sentences Rooted in Racist White Perceptions of Crime

A report by The Sentencing Project concludes that white people support harsh penalties for crime because they associate criminality with Blacks. “There are many instances where policymakers politicize crime and race in order to further their campaigns,” said Nazgol Ghandnoosh, co-author of the report, titled “Race and Punishment: Racial Perceptions of Crime and Support for Punitive Policies.”

U.S. Political Prisoners Issue Passes UN Hurdle

A United Nations panel has instructed the United States to report, five years from now, on the status of its political prisoners, said international human rights advocate Efia Nwangaza, director of the Malcolm X Center for Self-Determination, in Greenville, South Carolina. The move is significant, since the U.S. denies it holds any political prisoners, said Nwangaza, who argued on behalf of Civil Rights and Cointelpro era prisoners in collaboration with the Jericho Movement. “We’ve been building a record which strengthens the case for release of political prisoners,” she said. “It also strengthens our call for formation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”

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Protesters Demand Dismantling of Militarized Police

prn_montage_20140903.jpgA host of organizations presented a list of nine demands to the U.S. Justice Department, in Washington, including immediate release of “Black boys and men incinerated for minor crimes”; the imposition of “life sentences for law enforcement officials who murder unarmed boys and men”; and, “recall of all military equipment already given to cities and states.” Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, of the NO Fear Coalition, a top organizer of the rally, said events in Ferguson, Missouri, raise fundamental questions about the role of police in Black America. “Clearly, the occupying forces inside our communities are not protecting or serving the people,” she said. “They are occupying the people.”

The Enemy Within

“We’re looking at a two-prong attack” on the Black resistance in Ferguson, said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations. “One is the obvious military organization” of the various police forces, and “the other – sometimes with their collars on backwards, sometimes not – are those who are there to pacify the people, to tamp down on militancy. They want it to go away.”

Black Youth in Struggle for the Duration

Young people in Ferguson are trying to build real structures of enduring resistance, said Erica Totten, an activist from Washington, DC, who has been working with HandsUpUnited.org. “They need mental health care professionals, they need attorneys, they need people to go down there and support these young men and women because they’re going to continue to make noise,” said Totten.

Mumia: Beware of Lawyers, Preachers and Politicians

“It is the job of the managerial class of lawyers, preachers and politicians to reduce tensions, to deradicalize movements, to make them more manageable” when crises arise in places like Ferguson, said Mumia Abu Jamal, the nation’s best known political prisoner. However, “the masses know the essential nature of the police, fro they see them daily. And they are anxious to oppose them.”

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