Monday, August 28, 2017

News in late August 2017

There is always a long history among the police and African Americans. Many of our people are police officers and many of our people continue to protest police brutality. We have mixed feelings about the police since many police officers then and now oppress black people while some of our people wear blue too. There is no question that some aspects of the state use the police as a means to contain and oppress black people. The police was used to harm innocent protesters in Selma in 1965. The police was used to arrest nonviolent civil rights protesters. Some police act as agents of the state to monitor progressive or revolutionary social movements for years and decades (even today). Therefore, we are not na├»ve about what is real. 9/11 was a new era. Immediately after 9/11, the police in many cases increased their surveillance of black, brown, South Asian, Arabic, and Muslim communities. The Patriot Act and other laws were controversial in that it dealt heavily with an increased circumventing of our civil liberties. Stop and frisk grew in urban communities nationwide, especially in New York City during the early years of the 21st century. One of the most tragic cases of police killing was the murder of Sean Bell by the NYPD on November 25, 2006. He was at the eve of his wedding and Sean Bell including his two friends (Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman) was shot 50 times by plainclothes officers. Sean Bell died and the officers involved were never convicted of any wrongdoing. During that time, the prison population skyrocketed in part because of the discriminatory sentencing practices (as documented by sociological studies). There was the aftermath of the Katrina disaster, and continued mistrust of the police by many African Americans. Kathryn Johnston was killed by the police on November 21, 2006. She was an elderly woman. In January 1, 2009, Oscar Grant was killed by a BART police officer. That officer only received a limited, token time in prison. In 2010, a seven year old girl named Aiyana Mo’Nay Stanley-Jones was shot to death during a raid done by the Department’s Special Response Team. Rekia Boyd was killed in 2012 in Chicago by an off duty Chicago police detective. She was only 22 years old and the detective was never convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Jordan Davis was killed by a vigilante in 2012. The person show did the murder is in prison now. Jordan Davis’ parents are friends with the family of Trayvon Martin to this very day. Renisha McBride was a 19 year old Sister who was shot and killed by Theodore Wafe (who was convicted on many charges). In 2012, Shelly Frey (who was unarmed) was killed by the police in Texas after she was suspected of shoplifting. Yet, Frey was not a direct threat to any officer. Kyam Livingston died in police custody on July 24, 2013. By 2014, many African Americans were shot or killed by police officers. They were Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford, Dontre Hamilton, and other people. Eric Garner sparked many protests in New York City.

2015 saw the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. Baltimore is where many of my relatives live at and I have visited Baltimore period. Baltimore has the paradox of massive political power among black people (the majority of people who live in Baltimore are African Americans), but serious problems of economic inequality, poverty, and police brutality (as documented by the DOJ) exist. So, this is caused by classism (which in turned is created by capitalism) not just racism. In other words, many black people are in the upper middle class and some (not all) in that class lack a true concern of the interests of poor and working class black people in Baltimore. Anger was in Baltimore in 2015 and the rebellion occurred in the city. The rebellion happened when the police blocked many students from coming into their homes. Later, the rebellion transpired for days with buildings burnings and hurt expressed in many manifestations. To this very day, Baltimore is trying to heal and improve. Sandra Bland in 2015 died mysterious in a Texas jail cell. Authorities classified her death as suicide while her family disagrees. Also, the 2015 pool party incident in Texas when cops blatantly used overt excessive force against young girls and young boys (even pointing guns at non-threatening children). In 2016, Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota were shot to death again by the police. Korryn Gaines was killed by the police on August 1, 2016. Listing all of these names are not coincidences. This represents a total epidemic of police killings of people of black African descent in America. In 2017, the names of Jordan Edwards, Edson Da Costa, Charleena Chavon Lyles, Rashan Charles, and Jaocques Clemmons represent more events where lives are lost tragically. The Say Her Name movement is about making society awareness of the epidemic of the abuse and murder of black women and girls. It also wants people to know that intersectionality is a reality. In order words, race, class, gender, etc. intersect in society. Solutions to this problem are diverse. The solution making process won’t be easy, but it must be promoted. There must be serious monitoring and training of officers. There should be the federal eradication of mandatory minimum sentencing. There should be strong enforcement against police brutality and allow more community control of law enforcement (as we should control them not them control us). There should be the outright demilitarization of the police. There should be a federal ban on racial profiling and broken windows in policing. There should be the end to for profit prisons. There should also be investments in community development and giving people more economic plus social opportunities to live out their own lives. I have no problem with cameras, but make sure that there is severe punishment for any cop who abuses cameras. There should be an attack on any form of bigotry and injustice done by us. We are in the right when we advocate for justice since Black Lives Matter.

One of the saddest moments of Black American history was the domestic terrorist attack against innocent black people in Charleston, South Carolina’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. It occurred on the date of June 17, 2015. People in the church had a prayer service. One evil person murdered 9 people. The senior pastor and state Senator murdered was Clementa C. Pinckney. He was a social activist. The white supremacist murderer was Dylann Roof. The evil murders once again showed the world that confronting racism and hate never requires ascetism. It requires a true activism and a fight for justice. It happened during the time where the Confederate flag was on public grounds. After the murders, Nikki Haley (to her credit) allowed authorities to get rid of the Confederate flag from state’s grounds. Also, it is important to recognize the historical significance of the South Carolina Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. It was a church created during the 19th century. Members of the church fought against slavery and was for abolitionism. It was one of the oldest black churches in America. Morris Brown was an early member of the church. Denmark Vesey was one of the church’s founders and he organized an attempted slavery rebellion in order to free our people form bondage. He was arrested (after a traitorous slave revealed plans to a slave owner). Vesey was murdered by hanging on July 2, 1822. The church was burnt down and rebuilt. It existed throughout Reconstruction and Jim Crow. Booker T. Washington also spoke at the Emanuel AME Church too. During the Jim Crow era, many black people worked in the church to advance civil rights. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Wyatt T. Walker of the SCLC (or the Southern Christian Leadership Conference) spoke at the church to encourage black people to register and vote. In Charleston, there was an epicenter of activism of civil rights activism. One example is that Septima Clark created Citizenship School in South Carolina to advance civil rights, voting rights, education, and human rights in general. Septima Clark was one of the greatest civil rights leaders in history. The Friendship Nine were black people who opposed segregation during the early 1960’s. Also, black women especially marched in Charleston in 1969 to promote economic rights of the striking hospital workers. The workers wanted fair wages and an end to racism plus sexism. Mary Ann Maultree and Coretta Scott King were activists involved in this movement for civil rights and labor rights.

The men and the women, who lost their lives by a murderer, represented outstanding character and excellence in their daily lives. Reverend Sharonada Singleton was a speech therapist at Goose Creek high school in Berkeley County, South Carolina. She helped people constantly and she was the head coach of the girls’ track team. She was a track athlete herself and she coached hurdles and sprints. She was a great person who shown love to her faculty and students. Cynthia Hurd was a regional manager of the St. Andrew’s library, which is part of the Charleston County library system. She always expressed love for God and she served her community. Tywanza Sanders recently graduated from Allen University’s business administration program. He was a barber and he always was committed to education. DePayne Middleton-Doctor was a director of the federal community development block grants. She was involved in installing septic tanks. Reverend Dr. Daniel L. Simmons was a retired pastor. Ethel Lance worked as a 70 year old sexton for over 30 years in the church. She always worked hard. Myra Thompson was the vicar of the Holy Trinity REC Church in Charleston. Susie Jackson was 87 years old.  All of these human beings have expressed joy, love, and service to the people. They were some of the most moral people of our generation. They are physically not here, but their spirits remain forever in Paradise. Immediately, rallies and fundraisers by the people of Charleston proves once again shown that the forces of love are always superior than the forces of hate. People held hands in prayer and people were inspired to advance solutions. Another hero who took down the Confederate flag on her own was Bree Newsome. She is a well-known progressive hero who was very intelligent. She graduated from Oakland Mills High School in Columbia, Maryland in 2003. She took down the flag to oppose racism and oppression against black people whether it’s found in America or the Dominican Republic (by her own words). She is a strong black woman and she exposed the colonialist and evil white supremacist Cecil Rhodes too. She was arrested, but her efforts were part of a long struggle that ended in that flag finally coming down from public grounds in South Carolina. The Confederate flag coming down in South Carolina was a blessed day. The events of Charleston make known how far we have to go and how compassionate people can be to stand up against racism and bigotry. As black Americans, we still rise.

Black Activism is part of our history and culture. We have always stood up for freedom and justice. Our activism is not monolithic either. It is very diverse. There are black pro-green groups who advocate environmental justice and true solutions against pollution. One example of this is that Destiny Watford of Baltimore has made known of the pollution in Curtis Bay, which is a Baltimore neighborhood. That location has a coal disposal facility, a landfill, and other high pollution industrial facilities in close vicinity to a residential neighborhood. She is fighting back against pollution too. Stand UP BMore is a movement of grassroots people trying to promote community organizing and political power that is independent in Baltimore. One man named Joshua Harris in Baltimore has advocated legitimate solutions like participatory budgeting at the community level, land trusts to give community control over development and housing prices, green energy initiatives, and other proposals. There are groups like Assata’s Daughters, Mothers of the Movement, Say Her Name, Black Lives Matter, Hands up Coalition, and other organizations that desire an end to police brutality. the development of black liberation, and the eradication of institutionalized racism. Many of the grassroots activists of Ferguson have inspired a younger generation of people to not only confront police brutality, but to stand up against a racist anthem to defend the human rights of all black people. Johnetta Elize is one young civil rights activist who has involved in Ferguson protests and community activism. Younger human beings and older human beings are working together in seeking the same prize of justice today.

By Timothy

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