(Repost from CNN –Eliott C. McLaughlin)
New video captured hours before Michael Brown was killed shows the 18-year-old exchanging marijuana for cigarillos with the clerks of a Ferguson, Missouri, store, a documentary director told CNN on Monday.
(Repost from CNN –Eliott C. McLaughlin)
New video captured hours before Michael Brown was killed shows the 18-year-old exchanging marijuana for cigarillos with the clerks of a Ferguson, Missouri, store, a documentary director told CNN on Monday.
CNN’s Azadeh Ansari, Dianne Gallagher, Sara Sidner, Faith Robinson, Joe Sutton, Janet DiGiacomo, Amanda Watts and Chris Cuomo contributed to this report.
Klein -Huff Post Black Voices
There has been no shortage of topics to discuss since Missouri’s Maplewood Richmond Heights High School principal Kevin Grawer started a Student Group on Race Relations (SGORR) last year. First there was the killing of Michael Brown, a local black teen whose death took place not far away from the high school’s district. Then this year, just a few hours away, protests broke out at the University of Missouri after a series of racially charged incidents. Teenage students who partake in SGORR — a voluntary club — unpack it all through discussions at their weekly meetings.
Club discussions “make me think twice about how I view different things or situations that are happening, in terms of who does this affect, and how is this going to affect the rest of us?” ninth-grader Tamar Crump said.
Tamar is part of a small but dedicated group of students who regularly attend SGORR meetings, which are typically student-led. At Maplewood Richmond Heights school, which has a diverse student population — about half white, 40 percent black and 10 percent Asian and Latino — the club allows students to dissect issues that are impacting people in the world around them, as well as in their own classrooms.
Grawer started the club last year, after visiting Shaker Heights High School in Cleveland, Ohio, and watching a similar club in action. The killing of Michael Brown, which set off a wave of local protests and civil unrest, increased the urgency to start a constructive initiative in Maplewood.
Grawer believes the club is having a positive impact on school culture, and he has evidence to boot. For years Grawer has distributed a school culture survey to students, and asked them if they see their school as respecting individual diversity. This year, the number of students who answered “yes” jumped.
“The numbers were ridiculously high — it was something like 95 percent,” Grawer said. “And for any question you ask high schoolers, to get 95 percent is really rare. To get that kind of response, I think, was a reflection of our group and the fact that the kids know it’s there. It’s always an option for them.”
The topics discussed in SGORR have ranged from this Cheerios ad featuring a mixed race family, to the protests at Mizzou, to the various stereotypes that persist about different racial groups, to the school-to-prison pipeline.
For tenth-grader Lilyan Whitfield, the club has helped her unpack her identity as a biracial student.
“I am on the border of white and black … I felt like if I talked about [my identity] from one point of view, then I would be scolded,” Lilyan said. “I wasn’t really comfortable about it.
“I used to just identify as black because that’s the race that most people at my old school used to be and it wasn’t as accepting,” she continued. “Now being at Maplewood I feel like I can open up about being biracial and people won’t judge me for it.”
Research supports the idea that educators should foster and have their own tough conversations about race. A January paper from the Discipline Disparities Research to Practice Collaborative looked at the discipline gap, where black kids are punished more harshly than white kids for the same behavior, and encouraged teachers to examine and discuss their own potential racial biases in order to help eliminate this disparity.
“For schools to begin to look at their own data [on who they suspend] is really important,” Russell Skiba, professor in the school psychology program at Indiana University, told HuffPost at the time.“If we just present that data cold, it’s very difficult for folks to have those conversations. Folks will say, ‘When I see these disparities, I feel like I’m being called a racist.’ That’s not the point at all. The point is to say, what is creating these issues?
“The second step is having some general conversations,” he added. “Who is disadvantaged? Where did these stereotypes come from? … Then we can talk about specific instances like, ‘This happened when I was dealing with Josh in my classroom.'”
For Grawer, the idea to start a forum where students can discuss race just seemed like “probably an obvious thing to do.”
“It doesn’t seem like we’re doing anything groundbreaking whatsoever,” Grawer said. “It makes perfect sense for our time and place in history.”
AP via Huff Post Black Voices
NORMANDY, Mo. (AP) — A St. Louis County medical examiner has said an 18-year-old who exchanged fire with an officer died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said Saturday.
The medical examiner’s autopsy concluded that Amonderez Green died after a single gunshot wound.
“The autopsy showed Green sustained one gunshot wound, which was located under the chin,” St. Louis County police spokesman Brian Schellman said in a news release Saturday.
Ballistic evidence of the bullet confirmed the round was fired from a .38-caliber revolver, the same type of weapon that police said Green produced Thursday when he was confronted by a Normandy officer after relatives of Green called authorities “seeking police and medical intervention.”
Green died early Thursday, 14 hours after a confrontation with a Normandy officer in which they exchanged gunfire but neither was struck.
The confrontation was near Ferguson, which is still on edge 14 months after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, 18, who was black and unarmed. Green also was black. The Normandy officer, a 12-year veteran of the department, is white. He is on paid administrative leave pending the investigation.
Police said Green was suicidal and ran a short way before shooting himself.
Green’s father and others had questioned the Normandy police department’s account, though Normandy police Cpl. Tameika Sanders has said there was no question that Green killed himself.
Schellman said in the release that the investigation is still active and that police are seeking information and witnesses in the case.
Ferguson, MO — Local black entrepreneurs emerge as owners of the newest black-owned beauty supply store in Ferguson, MO following the protests over the killing of unarmed black teen, Michael Brown, by a white police officer, Darren Wilson. Officer Wilson was twice exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing, once in November by local prosecutor, and again in March by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Over the past 16 months, the city has been in unrest and locals, largely black, has been angered by the killing and acquittals. Several businesses have been looted and burned in response to this tragic killing and acquittals, including two Korean-owned beauty supply stores that have been a part of the community for many years.
Local budding entrepreneurs, Mr. & Mrs. Gathungu, have been interested in beauty supply ownership for several years and felt now was as good a time as any. When asked, they said, “We know there is great opportunity in owning one of these stores. However, we didn’t quite know how to get into the business. We decided to do some internet research and found that there was a conference in Atlanta coming up, hosted by Beauty Supply Institute. So we chose to make the long drive there and attend the 2-day conference. After that, we learned how to safely get into the business, so we did it.”
Their store opened after about 10 months of planning and preparation. They signed their lease days apart from the verdict of Darren Wilson, the protests, negative media coverage and politic upheaval. They went on to say, “At no time did we fear failure because of what was taking place in Ferguson. We actually felt that our city could use some positive momentum. Once we saw the other stores destroyed, we knew that those looters of the other stores would eventually realize they needed somewhere to buy their beauty supplies. We felt that we would now become their trusted source.”
The Gathungus enlisted the help of Beauty Supply Institute to come in and do the groundwork for them. They assisted with finding the location, lease negotiation, store design, procurement of products, store setup and much more. They worked with the Gathungus from the time they attended the conference in Atlanta in August 2014 until they were ready for business in June 2015.
The company was founded in 2008 by Professor Devin Robinson, a 3-time store owner who was once criminally profiled while shopping at a Korean-owned store himself.
You can visit the Gathungus’s store at KZK Beauty Supply, 10865 W Florissant Ave, Ferguson, MO 63136
For the beauty supply conference information, go to www.BeautySupplyConference.com or call 404-551-4398.
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.
By Julia Craven & Ryan J. Reilly -Huff Post Black Voices
WASHINGTON — A year after demonstrations in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson launched the Black Lives Matter movement, some of the most prominent voices in the campaign to reform policing in the United States introduced a detailed list of specific proposals that they want to bring about “a world where the police don’t kill people.”
The comprehensive set of policy demands on the federal and state level introduced by Black Lives Matter activists on Friday, named Campaign Zero, comes after months of discussions with protesters from across the country and was informed by the recommendations of President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. One of the members of Campaign Zero’s planning team, Brittany Packnett, was actually a member of the presidential task force as well as Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s (D) Ferguson Commission.
Many of Campaign Zero’s proposals — including body cameras, better training, and community oversight — enjoy broad support from the American public at large and many law enforcement leaders. Just this week, in fact, a top policing organization issued a study suggesting that the way police officers use force needs to “change dramatically,” and that many controversial police shootings — even if legally justified — could have been avoided.
“Folks are almost not even able to imagine an America where people are not being killed by police,” Samuel Sinyangwe, one of the members of the team that put together the proposal, told The Huffington Post. “That is the norm in many other developed countries. It’s about challenging that notion and really showing that through policy change we can get very close, if not achieve, that goal.”
“At this point, there’s widespread acknowledgement that policing needs fundamental changes,” DeRay Mckesson, who has become one of the most prominent members of the Black Lives Matter movement, said in an interview. “There’s an understanding that we need to expand the way we think about safety in communities.”
The policy platform aims to reform existing structural issues with policing and put in place new systems that will end police violence against black Americans. The campaign, informed by data on the causes and impact of police violence, draws on years of research from other organizations, including the Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice.
The platform also demands that all officers be equipped with body cameras; for hog-ties, nickel-rides and chokeholds to be felony offenses; for officers to undergo consistent racial bias training; police demilitarization and the establishment of a permanent special prosecutor at the federal level who will independently investigate all cases of a police killing or seriously injuring a civilian.
“In this moment, everything is on the table, right? There are no more sacred institutions,” Mckesson said. “What we know to be true is that there are structures and systems that were intentionally put in place that were harming people, and the protest community is willing to question all of them.”
The project has been in the works for months, he added, and organizers focused on talking “about complex things simply.”
Campaign Zero is also calling for laws preventing police departments from imposing minimum quotas for tickets and arrests, for recruiting and retaining more officers of color and the decriminalization of marijuana and drinking alcohol in public, according to The Guardian.
The campaign’s website has a list of some of the top presidential candidates on the Republican and Democratic sides and their policy positions in relation to Campaign Zero’s proposals. Candidates were listed on the main page of the website mostly based on how they were polling, Sinyangwe said, but Rand Paul was added because he is one of the few candidates who has made criminal justice reform a key part of his agenda.
“With regard to Republicans, I’m not surprised but it is sad,” said Sinyangwe. “When I think about police violence, I think that is a conservative issue — an agent of the government… basically taking people’s lives, intervening in the most extreme way possible. But that’s not how they see it.”
The platform’s unveiling comes after several high-profile disruptions of presidential campaign events by Black Lives Matter activists.
Last month, Black Lives Matter activists interrupted the Netroots Nation convention, the largest annual meeting of progressives in the U.S. They demanded that Democratic candidates acknowledge that “the most important and urgent issue of our day is structural violence and systemic racism that is oppressing and killing black women, men and children,” Tia Oso, the woman who took the stage during the protest, wrote for Mic.
A simple interruption of a progressive town hall meeting was powerful enough to make systemic racism a conversation on the campaign trail. But talking isn’t enough. Activists want to hear concrete solutions to problems created by systemic racism before endorsing any of the candidates.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is running for the Democratic nomination, has introduced a policy platform targeting structural anti-black racism. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) has rolled out a framework for criminal justice reform, although it’s less explicit in its discussion of racism than Sanders’ platform. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, however, has not yet produced a comprehensive agenda focusing on police violence or mass incarceration — issues that disproportionately affect black Americans — even though she is currently the most popular candidate among black voters, with a favorability rate of 68 percent.
Clinton’s policy director and others campaign staffers recently spoke with Campaign Zero planning team members Mckesson and Packnett about police reform, criminal justice and other issues of importance to the black community.
“The campaign is interested in connecting with a broad range of people in the movement,” Mckesson said. “As campaigns develop their policy platforms, it’s important that many people have opportunities to influence the process — that this is not politics as usual.”
“They made a commitment to reaching out, and I’m hopeful that as many people as possible can be heard and take an active role in shaping potential policies,” he went on. “This is an opportunity to redefine how presidential campaigns engage with black communities and prioritize black life.”
By Jon Herskovitz and Fiona Ortiz -Huff Post Black Voices
Aug 14 (Reuters) – St. Louis County on Friday ended the state of emergency it had put in effect earlier this week for Ferguson, Missouri, and surrounding areas due to Sunday’s violent street protests.
Ferguson saw a fresh wave of demonstrations beginning last weekend, marking the one-year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man shot by a white police officer last August.
The killing of Brown was found to be justified, but that incident and the deaths of other unarmed black and Hispanic men that followed in Baltimore, New York City, Washington state and elsewhere inspired a national movement over policing and race relations.
Most of the protests in Ferguson were peaceful, but on Sunday night gunfire broke out and police shot and injured a black man, 18-year-old Tyrone Harris, who they say shot at them. Harris, who remains hospitalized, has been charged with assault on law enforcement, armed criminal action and shooting a firearm at a vehicle.
In the days since then, other protests have continued in and around Ferguson. Dozens of people were arrested on Monday when they blockaded a St. Louis court house in an act of civil disobedience, and when they briefly blocked a local freeway. There have been no more arrests since Wednesday.
“After reviewing the events of the past four evenings, under the state of emergency, I am pleased to report our law enforcement officers have established order while preventing further acts of violence in Ferguson,” St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger said in a statement.
The state of emergency had given Stenger control over policing in the area, taking over from local police. (Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin and Fiona Ortiz in Chicago, Texas; Editing by Eric Beech and Susan Heavey)
A rousing new video connects the Jim Crow-era activism of famed American poet Langston Hughes to the activism of today’s #BlackLivesMatter movement.
The video, published online Wednesday by the group Color of Change, has actor Danny Glover reading Hughes’ 1938 poem “Kids Who Die” over a series of haunting images: the Cleveland park where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was gunned down by police, the Oakland train station where 22-year-old Oscar Grant was also killed by cops, and a group of riot officers with their guns aimed at a black protester in Ferguson, Missouri, among others.
“This is for the kids who die,” opens Hughes’ poem. “Black and white / For kids will die certainly / The old and rich will live on awhile, /As always, / Eating blood and gold, / Letting kids die.”
“August 9th is a big day for the movement,” Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange.org, said in a statement announcing the video’s release. This Sunday marks one year since the death of Michael Brown — the black, unarmed 18-year-old gunned down by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. His death touched off riots and peaceful protests in the St. Louis suburb.
The date “also symbolizes the incredible volition and power of the people of Ferguson and the birthing of another movement centered on Black lives,” Robinson said. “But it also shows how the brutal assault of Black people did not end with the Jim Crow era, it has only shifted and adapted to take on a new form of oppression and violence that has manifested in rampant killing of Black people at the hands of the state.”
After months of turmoil following the death of Michael Brown, voters in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson showed up to the polls in record numbers this week, putting two additional black representatives on the Ferguson City Council. Half of the council members in the majority black city are now African-American.
“It’s affecting your tomorrow. If you don’t like the way something is, voting is a way to help change it,” one 20-year-old first-time voter named Lynzel told Rayford.
“For two more African-Americans to join the council, that gives the community, that gives our young people, that gives a segment of our population hope that some of their conversations and some of their thoughts would actually start moving into plans and change,” said Dwayne T. James, who was the only black member of the council before the election.
Even with the record turnout, two candidates who were backed by activists did not win the race in their ward. One of the protester-backed candidates was defeated by Ferguson’s former mayor, who had largely defended the status quo in Ferguson.
The new members of the city council will be working with Ferguson’s mayor and the other members of the council to reach an agreement with the Justice Department to resolve major issues raised about the operation of the city’s police department and municipal court.
Relatives of five slain black men spoke out against police brutality at a National Action Network panel this week. The names of their lost sons, husbands and fathers have all made headlines in recent months: Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, John Crawford and Sean Bell.
The New York City convention, held on Wednesday, highlighted powerful reactions to the recent police shooting of Walter Scott, as well as painful recollections of loss and words of wisdom on loved ones who have been killed as a result of police brutality — an act we’ve seen repeated over the passings of many young black men in recent months. The heartbreaking letter penned by Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, to Michael Brown’s family is among those painful reminders.
Words of pain and calls for change were echoed by all the parents and spouses who spoke on Wednesday.
Esaw Snipes, widow of Eric Garner:
“I have to stay strong and fight. Our children [should] know the struggles not only that we come from but the struggles that we still have ahead.”
“It’s not over. We still have to go through this and it’s a shame.”
Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice:
“We’re in a war here. And I just want to continue to fight and to bring awareness of police brutality.”
John Crawford III, father of John Crawford Jr.:
“We’ve got to continue to take action. Police find the ambiguities in the law and they abuse it. We’ve got to cut the head off the snake.”
Leslie MsSpadden, mother of Michael Brown:
“God has always been with me, but now he has become a guide.”
Valerie Bell, mother of Sean Bell:
“We pray and hope that killings are not going to happen again. But the way things are going on, it’s always happening.”