By Rev. Aundreia Alexander
by David A. Love –theGrio.com
With the first Democratic presidential debate about to take place in Las Vegas on Tuesday night, attention will begin to shift more from the GOP contenders to the smaller field of candidates on the other side of the aisle.
The CNN Facebook Democratic Debate will allow voters to assess how these hopefuls stand on the issue. But what are their policy positions on issues that matter to black people?
Hillary Clinton, considered the frontrunner, has a high favorability rating among black voters, 80 percent according to a Gallup poll taken in August. Although the former First Lady, senator and secretary of state has the highest favorability among blacks by some estimates, she has had some conflict with the African American community as well, such as when she said “all lives matter” to a black crowd at a church near Ferguson, Missouri. Further, she missed the mark and seemed dismissive of #BlackLivesMatter activists in the past. However, to her credit, she is still meeting with black activists and having candid discussions with them.
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Written by MITCH STACY The Associated Press –The Skanner News
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A white Cleveland police officer was justified in fatally shooting a black 12-year-old boy holding a pellet gun moments after pulling up beside him, according to two outside reviews conducted at the request of the prosecutor investigating the death.
A retired FBI agent and a Denver prosecutor both found the rookie patrolman who shot Tamir Rice exercised a reasonable use of force because he had reason to perceive the boy — described in a 911 call as man waving and pointing a gun — as a serious threat.
The reports were released Saturday night by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, which asked for the outside reviews as it presents evidence to a grand jury that will determine whether Timothy Loehmann will be charged in Tamir’s death last November.
“We are not reaching any conclusions from these reports,” Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty said in a statement. “The gathering of evidence continues, and the grand jury will evaluate it all.”
He said the reports, which included a technical reconstruction by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, were released in the interest of being “as public and transparent as possible.”
Subodh Chandra, a lawyer for the Rice family, said the release of the reports shows the prosecutor is avoiding accountability, which is what the family seeks.
“It is now obvious that the prosecutor’s office has been on a 12-month quest to avoid providing that accountability,” he said. He added that the prosecutor’s office didn’t provide his office or the Rice family with the details from the reports. He also questioned the timing of the release, at 8 p.m. Saturday on the Columbus Day holiday weekend.
“To get so-called experts to assist in the whitewash — when the world has the video of what happened — is all the more alarming,” Chandra said. “Who will speak for Tamir before the grand jury? Not the prosecutor, apparently.”
Both experts were provided with surveillance video of the shooting that showed Loehmann firing at Tamir within two seconds after the police cruiser driven by his partner pulled up next to the boy. Police say the officers were responding to a call about a man with a gun, but were not told the caller said the gun could be a fake and the man an adolescent.
The report prepared by retired FBI agent Kimberly A. Crawford concluded that Loehmann’s use of force did not violate Tamir’s constitutional rights, saying the only facts relevant to such a determination are those the patrolman had at the time he fired his weapon.
Loehmann, she wrote, “had no information to suggest the weapon was anything but a real handgun, and the speed with which the confrontation progressed would not give the officer time to focus on the weapon.”
“It is my conclusion that Officer Loehmann’s use of deadly force falls within the realm of reasonableness under the dictates of the Fourth Amendment,” Crawford wrote, though she noted she was not issuing an opinion as to whether Loehmann violated Ohio law or department policy.
Lamar Sims, the chief deputy district attorney in Denver, also concluded that Loehmann’s actions were reasonable based on statements from witnesses and a reconstruction of what happened that day.
Sims said the officers had no idea if the pellet gun was a real gun when they arrived, and that Loehmann was in a position of great peril because he was within feet of Tamir as the boy approached the cruiser and reached toward his waistband.
“The officers did not create the violent situation,” Sims wrote in his review. “They were responding to a situation fraught with the potential for violence to citizens.”
Another officer who recovered the pellet gun after Tamir was shot told investigators he first thought the gun was a semiautomatic pistol and was surprised when he realized it wasn’t real, Sims noted.
Chandra, the Rice family lawyer, says the experts “dodge the simple fact that the officers rushed Tamir and shot him immediately without assessing the situation in the least. Reasonable jurors could find that conduct unreasonable. But they will never get the chance because the prosecutor is working diligently to ensure that there is no indictment and no accountability.”
The pellet gun Tamir was holding shoots non-lethal plastic projectiles but its orange markings had been removed.
The killing of Tamir has become part of a national outcry about minorities, especially black boys and men, dying during encounters with police. His death was not the first to roil Cleveland, either: Earlier this year, a white officer prosecuted by McGinty was acquitted in the 2012 deaths of two unarmed black motorists killed in a 137-shot barrage of police gunfire after a high-speed pursuit.
Cleveland and the U.S. Department of Justice are moving forward on a reform-minded consent decree after a DOJ investigation found Cleveland police had engaged in a practice of using excessive force and violating people’s rights. That agreement was in the works before Tamir was killed.
By Jake Pearson of AP -Huff Post Black Voices
NEW YORK — Opening statements are set to begin in the trial of a professional basketball player charged with resisting arrest and other crimes following a confrontation with police officers outside a trendy Manhattan nightclub in April.
The Atlanta Hawks’ Thabo Sefolosha, who suffered a season-ending leg fracture in the struggle, has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which also include misdemeanor obstructing government administration and disorderly conduct. He has rejected a plea offer from prosecutors and his attorney, Alex Spiro, has said his client is going to trial to clear his name.
A jury of four women and two men was picked Monday in Manhattan Criminal Court. Opening statements start Tuesday.
The case stems from an early-morning struggle outside the 1Oak Club in Chelsea shortly after the stabbing of Indiana Pacers forward Chris Copeland, his girlfriend and another woman. It was then that the 30-year-old guard-forward ignored six separate orders to move away from the crime scene, charged at another officer and then flailed his arms and twisted his legs while being placed under arrest, according to a criminal complaint.
During jury selection, Spiro said that while his client, a Swiss national, may have been “mouthy” and “fresh” in his dealings with officers after the stabbing, no crime had been committed. He also suggested race played a role in his client’s arrest.
“Are you all willing to understand that we’re all swayed at some level by implicit racial biases,” he asked potential jurors.
Six police officers will be called as witnesses for the prosecution, an assistant district attorney, Francesca Bartolomey, said Monday. Spiro had sought to review the personnel records of five officers involved in incident but the judge, Robert Mandelbau, denied that motion.
Charges against another Hawks’ player involved in the confrontation, Pero Antic, have been dropped.
Philip Lewis -Huff Post Black Voices
A federal government shutdown would disproportionately affect African-Americans, according to an analysis released Wednesday.
The progressive Economic Policy Institute used official government data to determine that African-Americans make up nearly 20 percent of the federal government workforce, compared to about 10 percent of private sector workers.
That makes African-Americans especially vulnerable to a government shutdown. Although federal workers typically receive back pay once a shutdown is over, going without compensation for weeks at a time can create financial strain.
Previous shutdowns have also led to cutbacks within many local and state governments that have disproportionat
African-Americans and women may already be suffering from a slow recovery in public sector employment. Between 2007 and 2011, during the Great Recession, state and local governments lost nearly 765,000 jobs. African-Americans and women were hit the hardest during this period, as they accounted for nearly 20 percent and 70 percent of those losses, respectively.
EPI notes that there are still 381,000 fewer jobs at the federal, state and local government levels than there were in 2007, the year before the financial crisis hit. Public sector employment only began growing again last year, when 74,000 jobs were added.
According to Elise Gould, an economist at EPI, it is easy to understate just how many jobs were lost in the public sector if you do not factor in the normal growth in the country’s population. We would need 1.8 million more public sector jobs than we currently have to reach pre-recession levels of public sector employment as a share of the population, she estimates.
Sluggish public sector job growth may help explain the alarmingly high African-American unemployment rate. Nationwide, the African-American unemployment rate remains 9.5 percent, nearly twice as high as the overall population’s rate of 5.1 percent.
African-Americans and women were embraced in the public sector market in the mid-1960s, as government interventions and anti-discrimination policies began to open these jobs up to marginalized groups. Government jobs became a crucial route to the middle class for many people, but have also left them highly vulnerable to shifts in policy and budget cutbacks.
These budget cuts have intensified struggles for black Americans, who have seen programs for children cut, homes lost at higher rates than they are for whites, and a wider overall gap in wealth inequality.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story swapped the percentages of state and local government jobs lost by women and African-Americans during the Great Recession. Women account for 70 percent of the job losses, and African-Americans account for 20 percent.
By James Wright –NorthStarNewsToday
|Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from the Afro American Newspaper(TriceEdneyWire.com) — The worldwide leader of the Roman Catholic Church addressed a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress Sept. 24 and delivered a message that was seemingly pleasing to African Americans.Pope Francis spoke to an audience of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate as well as representatives from the diplomatic corps and some members of the U.S. Supreme Court. Pope Francis, in his one-hour, 10-minute speech, focused on aiding the poor, accepting immigrants as human beings needing help and talked about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement to the delight of U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
“The pope delivered a message that said to look out for your fellow human beings,” Butterfield said. “He charged those of us in the Congress to look out for those who are in poverty and suffer from hunger. He told us that we have an obligation to look out for those who can’t help themselves.”
Butterfield, who is Baptist, said that the pope’s reference to the work of King and the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery march was appropriate because “those stories are instructive.”
Nearly 31 percent of the House and Senate consider themselves Catholics, compared with 22 percent of the general U.S. population, according to the Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are Catholics along with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
CBC members who are Catholics are Reps. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and Lacy Clay, D-Mo.,. Clay said that he liked what his religious leader said.
“The Holy Father Pope Francis’ inspiring message challenged us to rise above our petty divisions to protect the planet, restore the dignity of workers, combat poverty and strive for peace and social justice,” Clay said. “He reminded us that all of us were once immigrants and he appealed to our greater capacity and moral obligation to put faith into action to advance human dignity and the common good.”
While the House chamber, where the pontiff spoke, was packed with visitors in the gallery, tens of thousands of people watched the event via Jumbotrons set up on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol and on the National Mall. Some people arrived as early as 5 a.m. to witness the pope’s address and to be in his presence.
Some African Americans, like Gwendolyn Anderson, came from across the country to hear the pope speak. As an attorney in Chicago who lived in Mississippi during the civil rights era, she said the pope’s reference to the historic movement pleased her.
“He was tremendous,” Anderson, who is Catholic, said. “He understood the struggle that black people went through. I went to Tougaloo College and King was frequently on my college campus and I am glad that the pope mentioned Dr. King’s dream.”
D.C. Council member Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4) was among the hundreds who were on the upper terrace of the West Lawn. Todd said the pope’s message had a special meaning for him.
“The pope’s speech was very focused and people-centered,” Todd, an Episcopalian, said. “He encouraged us to do more to help the youth, the elderly and those of us who are most needy. I agree with him and that is why I ran for elected office.”
In his remarks, the pope said that politicians should “initiate process instead of occupying space.” When Todd, elected to the council in April heard that, he chuckled in agreement with the pontiff.
“That’s my job,” he said,” to make people’s lives better.”
Todd was invited by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) to attend the address. Bowser was in the House chamber where the pope spoke and has followed the pontiff throughout his schedule in the District.
Among the hundreds on the upper terrace with Todd was Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson. Carson said that he couldn’t understand some of what the pope said because of his sometime incomprehensible English, but supported the pope’s message in principle.
“The pope said that he supports preserving the family, preserving life and preserving the environment,” Carson, a conservative, said. “I don’t see those things as necessarily liberal, and who would argue with those things?”
Rep. Mark Stanford, R-S.C., invited Carson to the pope’s address.
After his speech, the pope, along with the leaders of the U.S. Congress and Vice President Biden, appeared on the Speaker’s Balcony overlooking the West Lawn and the National Mall. The pontiff, in Spanish, said that he was delighted by the number of children who were present.
Samuel Merga, a junior at Archbishop Carroll High School in the District, said he was happy to be in the pope’s presence.
“I am interested in government and politics and I am religious,” Merga said. “I am not Catholic, but I did want to hear what he had to say.”
Nationwide — Real estate mogul and Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, says he feels very confident that he can win the Black vote. However, he recently spoke at an event affiliated with the South Carolina African American Chamber of Commerce in Charleston, and very few local Black business leaders even showed up.
Despite this, Trump recently insists, “Generally, Republicans do not do well with African-Americans. But I have a lot of friends, African-Americans in New York…”
Trump has even cited a recent poll from SurveyUSA, which claims that he has support from 25 percent of black respondents in a match-up against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. He insists thats all he needs to win the general election.
Can he really win the Black vote?
Well, only time will tell. But other polls do not indicate that he has a lot of support from black voters. For example, a recent Quinnipiac University poll indicates that Trump got only 3 percent of black support in a match-up against Clinton.
But in a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, Trump had the biggest support from black Republicans and independents.
Republican candidate typically struggle with the Blcak vote. In fact, in recent general elections, Republican presidential candidates have won only a very small portion of the black vote. For example, George W. Bush won just 11 percent of black voters in 2004, and Mitt Romney received about 6 percent in 2012.
Christopher Mathias -Huff Post Black Voices
NEW YORK — The violent and wrongful arrest of tennis star James Blake in New York City earlier this month prompted swift apologies from Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton. Blake also got the chance to meet privately with the two officials to discuss policing reforms.
Now, six New Yorkers who lost family members in encounters with the NYPD are asking: Where’s our apology? Where’s our meeting?
In 1994, Nicholas Heyward’s 13-year-old son, Nicholas Jr., was fatally shot by a police officer in Brooklyn who reportedly mistook the teen’s toy gun for a real one.
“[Bratton] was the commissioner 21 years ago when my son was murdered,” Nicholas Heyward said at a rally outside NYPD headquarters in lower Manhattan on Tuesday.
“Was I able to get the opportunity to talk to the mayor at that time — Mayor Rudy Giuliani?” Heyward asked. “No, I was not. I made attempts to reach out to this mayor here, de Blasio. Was I able to achieve that? Absolutely not. Why? My son was innocent, unarmed. Why wasn’t I able to get an apology from anyone? Absolutely no one. Why does this continue to happen?”
“Why does [James Blake] get to have a meeting with the mayor and the police commissioner?” Heyward Sr. continued. “Because of his celebrity status.”
Four years ago this month, an undercover police officer fatally shot John Collado, a 43-year-old former pro wrestler, after Collado tried to break up a fight between his friend and the officer. Collado’s family says he didn’t know that the second man in the altercation was an undercover cop.
On Sept. 9, as Blake waited for a cab outside the Grand Hyatt hotel in midtown Manhattan, plainclothes officer James Frascatore tackled him to the ground and handcuffed him.
“The first words out of my mouth were ‘I’m 100 percent cooperating,'” Blake told CNN. Shocking surveillance footage released by the NYPD shows Frascatore’s takedown of Blake, who has a black father and a white mother.
Blake was detained for 15 minutes before cops realized they had the wrong man. According to the NYPD, a cooperating witness had misidentified the tennis star as being part of an identity theft scheme.
Blake had been ranked as high as No. 4 in the world before retiring from professional tennis in 2013. When he encountered Frascatore, he’d been waiting to take a cab to Queens to watch a match at this year’s U.S. Open.
Hertencia Petersen, whose nephew, Akai Gurley, was gunned down by an officer last year, pointed out that unlike many others, Blake “lived to tell about his ordeal.”
“He was released and had the pleasure to get an apology not only from the commissioner but also from the mayor of the city,” Petersen said at Tuesday’s rally.
But her nephew never got that chance, Petersen said.
“Ten months later, [Gurley’s mother] Sylvia Palmer have not received an apology from Mayor de Blasio, nor from Bill Bratton,” she said. Bratton previously characterized Gurley’s death as an accident. “Ten months later, [Gurley’s daughter] Akaila Gurley have yet to receive an apology from either the mayor, or the police commissioner.”
“But why?” Petersen continued. “Because he was not a celebrity. He was not a celebrity.”
Angie McKay, whose niece, Shantel Davis, was fatally shot by an NYPD officer in 2012, said she was “baffled” that Blake got an apology “so fast, while years later we still standing here with questions.”
Blake’s arrest once again drew attention to the aggressive policing often employed against minorities in New York and across the country.
Frascatore, who has since been placed on modified desk duty, has been sued four times for using excessive force, and has been the subject of multiple complaints to the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
On Monday, Blake had what he called a “productive” meeting with de Blasio and Bratton to talk about potential police reforms. Blake, de Blasio and Bratton all declined to reveal after the meeting what reforms were considered.
“I don’t want anybody to go through what we going through,” Lopez, the nephew of Collado, said on Tuesday. “Look at all the faces, men, women and children, black and Latino people being murdered by law enforcement. They here supposedly to protect us.”
Meanwhile, two bills pending in the New York City council aim to track officers with histories of excessive to give them further training or discipline.
But for some policing reform advocates, it’s too little too late.
“While Blake’s celebrity status has earned him a meet-and-greet with Mayor de Blasio and Bratton, other non-celebrity New Yorkers point to a long history of abuse and brutality from department more than happy to turn a deaf ear to average New Yorkers,” said Josmar Trujillo of the Coalition to End Broken Windows, which helped to organize Tuesday’s rally.
“Black lives matter. Latino lives matter. Non-celebrity lives matter. It’s high time the city acknowledged that,” Trujillo continued. “There are many more egregious cases, many ending unfortunately in fatal encounters with police.”
And Priscilla Gonzalez of the Communities United for Police Reform said in a statement Monday that “Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bratton have failed to take any substantive action to implement real accountability for police abuses and brutality.”
Gonzalez pointed to at least 32 instances of alleged police brutality in New York since de Blasio took office and appointed Bratton in January 2014.
“Neither their vague neighborhood-policing plan nor their commitment to provide new training can substitute for accountability in addressing the historic problem of police brutality,” she said.
“Docking vacation days, suspension with pay, and simply moving an officer elsewhere in the department are not appropriate accountability for officers who violate their fundamental oath to protect and serve the public,” Gonzalez continued. “Until departmental policy shows no tolerance for abusive policing and brutality, incidents like the one Mr. Blake experienced will continue to occur throughout our city.”
Jason Pollock -Huff Post Black Voices
In August of 2014, an unarmed 18-year-old boy named Michael Brown was killed by a police officer named Darren Wilson.
Like many in America, that day truly changed my life forever. That day the world shifted a bit and started rotating in a slightly different direction. The winds changed and since that day we have seen some pretty historic things taking place around America.
I’ve spent a lot of time and energy in the past year focusing on these issues and working overtime to figure out what my contribution to this world-changing event would be.
Today, I’m announcing the next feature film I’ll be directing. It is my hope is this project can help clear up some of the misunderstanding around what took place on August 9, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.
My new film is going to take a deep dive into how an unarmed boy in sandals and shorts with his hands up, according to killer himself, could be executed in the street without any repercussions. This event has haunted me, as I know it has haunted many others. I needed to find out the truth! So I set out on a yearlong investigation of the facts, and what I have found needs to be seen and heard by the world.
Our campaign is simply called FERGUSON COVER-UP. We are launching an IndieGogo page today here: http://bit.ly/FergusonCoverUp — with a trailer featured below.
Today is the first day of what we know will be an important conversation around an event that sparked a movement in St. Louis and around the world. I realize this movement has been growing for a long time, but it’s undeniable that things changed after Ferguson burned. We need to ensure that the history of what took place there is correct, and this film will be our contribution to that effort.
FERGUSON COVER-UP isn’t about the burning of Ferguson; it’s the why it did. It’s about why so many took to the streets and it will show the injustice that took place to Michael Brown on that hot summer day last August.
From the very moment that Michael’s body hit the pavement that day a carefully crafted campaign of misinformation, manipulation, and outright lying has taken place by the Ferguson Police Department, the St Louis Police Department, and the St Louis Prosecutor’s office.
The 24/7 right wing media have constantly perpetuated these lies, and they were so well crafted that they tricked CNN and many other outlets into falsely reporting the issue over and over again.
Sadly, because of all this distortion, the average American thinks that justice was served to Michael Brown and his family, and that Darren Wilson should be a free man. These views could not be further from the truth.
I have assembled a dedicated group of Ferguson activists, who have been following every detail of this case. We have joined forces to show America what really happened that day.
Through archival footage, shot footage, and my production team’s exhaustive research, this film will show how the Ferguson Police Department ignored key evidence and worked with the prosecutor to cover this all up. This film will explain the corrupt nature of witness 40, who was used by the Prosecutor in the grand jury process, even though Bob McCulloch knew she was lying under oath about witnessing the shooting. We will also show the manipulative and racist way that the Fergusonn police department leaked evidence to smear Michael’s name, and so many more turns the case took away from justice.
The film will also detail the story of racism and white supremacy in the Ferguson area so that everyone can understand that the protests that took place in the wake of Michael’s death were not just a random incident, but a straw breaking a camel’s back after hundreds of years of racism in the region.
Please check out our Indiegogo page here, with even more info http://bit.ly/FergusonCoverUp. We will also be launching FergusonCoverUp.com in the a few days. Get ready for that, because when that site launches, it’s going to change the game.
FERGUSON COVER-UP will blow the roof off the current narrative which America and the world has been fed around this story. People need to get the truth about this internationally relevant story, and this film will be the counter-narrative that everyone needs to hear.