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Fri May 22, 2015 at 12:03 AM PDT

In Defense of Shaun King

by Steven D

Reposted from Steven D by dopper0189

Let's begin by being honest.  Shaun King is a polarizing figure.  

He has a very specific point of view when it comes to American police forces and their dealings with African Americans, and he is not afraid to express himself is the strongest possible terms.  In short, he's outraged at the overt and covert racism he sees in our society as epitomized by the disproportionate and excessive force used by police forces across the country when it comes to how they deal with people of color.  

And he doesn't sugar coat that outrage, nor does he pull his punches.  On the contrary, compared to other well known and prominent spokespersons on this issue (e.g., Charles Blow of The New York Times or Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic) who are just as outraged but approach the subject in a more measured, intellectual manner, Shaun's writing is the equivalent of "shock and awe."  

I'm not saying that his style is necessarily a good or bad thing, or that Messrs. Blow and Coates are better advocates for the cause of racial justice than Shaun.  But his writing on this issue differs in tone, if not in substance, from many others who advocate for a change in the way our society deals with the issue of racism.  His focus is also narrower (at least here on Daily Kos) because his writing primarily addresses police violence and other abuses suffered by African Americans at the hands of the criminal justice system.

Indeed, if you've ever wandered into the comment threads of Shaun King's posts here at Daily Kos, inevitably you have come across a number of folks who dislike the way in which he covers the rash of police killings, racial profiling, etc. of African Americans, and the utter lack of accountability by police for their wrongful behavior.  Let me list just a few of the typical complaints I've seen whenever I scroll through the comment threads tom one of his posts here at Daily Kos.

1.  The "Click Bait" Argument:

The complaint here is that his titles are sensational, misleading, and exaggerate the facts in order to get people to read his posts.

2.  The "You're Shooting Yourself in the Foot" Argument:

This particular complaint is usually posed by those who say that they are concerned that Shaun's use of overly inflammatory language hurts the "cause" of making people aware of racist police conduct.  In effect, these commenters claim that Shaun's use of the rhetoric of outrage damages the validity of his arguments.  In other words, he turns people off.

3.  The Semantics Argument:

Basically, this boils down to the claim that Shaun gets the "legalese" wrong. It's often espoused by those who claim to be lawyers who say they support Shaun's efforts to call attention to police misconduct regarding minorities, a but who then spend paragraphs explaining why his use a particular word or phrase was inappropriate from a legal standpoint, thus undercutting his credibility.

4.  The "Unprofessional Journalist" Argument:

This claim is one made by people upset that with Shaun over some alleged breach of the proper ethical standards required of journalists.  Generally, its based on the notion that he should be more objective when he writes about these matters and less confrontational and opinionated - more nuanced as they say in his treatment of this subject.  More willing to see "both sides" of the problem.  More balanced.

It's ironic, but almost every objection I've seen to Shaun posts here at Daily Kos can just as easily be made to most of the other front page posters over the years.  

Click bait titles?  Excuse me, but isn't that a Hunter "speciality?"  In fact, most of the front pagers here have at one time or another posted stories with titles that "play to the choir," that "push our buttons," that - yes - seek to draw attention to the post they've written.  It's hardly a new phenomenon.  Major newspapers and magazines have a rich tradition of using headlines to "frame" the story so as to encourage media consumers to want to read what follows.  Many diaries here employ the same tactic to attract readers.  You have the discretion to click on those diaries or not, but singling Shaun out for this particular "sin" is rank hypocrisy in my view.  Daily Kos was built on click bait.

As for being excessively inflammatory? Child please.  Again, this is a political blog, not a news service.  Every day people post diaries, front page stories and comments regarding the outrage du jour.  No one beats them over the head with the way they express themselves, at least not to the extent that they do with Shaun.  Again, let's be honest with ourselves.  That is why many of us come here - to read stories that inflame our passions and reinforce our worldview, stories we can often find no place else.  Not to pick on diarists who cover gay rights, but I don't recall seeing a great deal of concern that stories exposing bigoted conservative Christians were too "mean" or too excessive in their condemnation of said "Christians" or somehow harmful to the cause of LGBT rights in general.

I contend that the majority of the anti- Shaun King sentiment here at DKos is based on the false premise that Shaun represents himself as a journalist.  He's not. He doesn't pretend to be one, either.  Does he cover events such as the Ferguson protests over Michael Brown's death?  Yes, but not as a journalist or a reporter for a major media company.  He covers these events from his own point of view, as a black man and an activist for social justice.  Unlike many "journalists" he doesn't try to hide his bias behind weasel words or false equivalencies.  Agree or disagree with him, but don't use the the claim that he's a not a proper journalist to argue that his message is wrong, or the manner in which he expresses himself not credible.

Shaun is an advocate for his cause.  He's a civil rights activist.  He's never claimed to be a journalist.  He writes and posts to the "front page" at Daily Kos, which is a political blog, not a news outlet, such as the Associated Press, Reuters, etc..  He has an agenda, and he hasn't been shy in telling us about it.  Read what he has to say about himself right here, in this interview by Autumn Alson.

Q: A recent study from PEW,has shown that most whites do not feel that the Michael Brown shooting has raised important racial concerns. This is overwhelmingly different than how most blacks seem to feel. How can you explain this dichotomy?

Shaun: Those numbers were stark, but not surprising. Even though it’s 2014, that study showed that culture and life experiences truly determine how you see the world. For me though, I think it is really about empathy. Because almost no white people have ever been brutalized by the police, they innately see the police very differently. Almost 100% of African Americans can describe a personal negative encounter with the police and this informs their perspective on this case and all others regarding police violence.

Q: Privilege comes up a lot in discussions of race. How can we get white people to understand this concept? How can we get them to accept their privilege without feeling a sense of guilt?

Shaun: Some of how we get all people to understand privilege is simply to tell our story – one story at a time. I try to do that on Twitter and share stories of others I know. You can never truly understand how others feel, but at least being aware is a good start.

It's right there - Shaun tells us he is a story teller, and one with a very different perspective than the majority of people who read this blog and/or participate in the various discussions on diaries and front page posts that address the issue of police violence and racism.  It's a perspective based on his own personal experience of racism that few if any white people in America can truly understand.
The oppression of others by people in power is a very real thing. I’ve experienced it, witnessed it, and fought against it, publicly and privately, for my entire life. That won’t end, but today I want to talk with you about a widespread form of oppression that crushes dreams and ideas at their root, all over the world. Like a firehose to a small candle with a barely flickering flame, the oppression I want to talk about now is the self-inflicted type. It’s in your heart and mind. [...]

... High school in rural Versailles, Kentucky was brutal for me. In middle school I had starred in the school play, was Vice President of the Student Council, had a ton of friends, kept a girlfriend, and was pretty much the happiest 13 year old on earth. High school was a rude awakening for me. I quickly found myself in the middle of decades old racial tensions and became the focus of constant abuse of the resident rednecks of my school. I had half a dozen fights my freshman year, had a jar of tobacco spit thrown on me in the middle of the school day, and came a few feet away from being run over by a pickup truck full of guys who chased me down and nearly mauled me as I walked home from a school dance. I reported it to the school, having saw each guy in the car, but they did nothing about it.

A few months later, a group of guys in the school beat me within a few inches of my life. I missed the next 18 months of school recovering from three spinal surgeries and fractures to my face and ribs. I won’t even try here to explain the depths and extent of my physical and emotional pain, but it was brutal. [...]

The pain and the ugliness of my past impacted me in immeasurable ways, but I refused to be held captive by it.

So far as I can tell the worst thing he's allegedly done is use inflammatory language and hyperbole to criticize the actions of police officers who have killed unarmed black males.  He's angry at the injustice he sees, and he has a right to be angry.  He's never held himself out to be a neutral observer or an objective reporter when it comes to this topic, a topic that so many people in America want to sweep under the rug.  Police violence against black people demonstrates the impact of societal racism at its most basic, brutal and destructive level. People of color experience overt and systemic racism by law enforcement personnel and the criminal justice system in ways that are difficult for many among the majority white population to grasp. I am not going to condemn Shaun for doing his best, as he sees fit, to make the rest of us feel his own outrage at the oppression of people of color by the police.

Shaun King is at heart a muckraker. His goal is to wake people up to what has been an under reported and ongoing atrocity, one to which few major media outlets have ever bothered to devote significant resources because its a story their predominately white readers don't want to hear.  He tells the truth as he sees it, based on the facts he discovers from first hand or secondary sources.  He doesn't parse words, or have an editor review his copy.  You know where he's coming from.  

You can disagree with him all you like.  And criticisms of his posts based on incorrect facts or faulty analysis of those facts is fine by me.  But don't hold him to standards to which hardly anyone else here at Dkos is held because you don't like how he writes about racism.  Don't employ trivial, and to my mind, frivolous arguments, to condemn him and what he has to say.

Frankly, we have far more to be worried about from the media elites than people like Shaun, if you ask me.  You know what type of "reporting" I find outrageous, and more importantly, dangerous?  So-called professional journalists and pundits who pretend to be neutral and unbiased in their reporting, but are the exact opposite.

I'll give you the best example I can off the top of my head - Judith Miller's practice of "journalism" regarding about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in 2002 and 2003.  Her reporting in the NY Times, the single most influential media publication in the country, aided and abetted war criminals.  She reported as fact lies told by key members of the Bush administration to her, lies that directly led to a war of aggression by the American government.  The consequences of her actions?  The deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, Iraqis and Americans combined.  A refugee crisis involving millions more. Trillions of dollars wasted.  A quagmire that continues to threaten the security of the Middle east and our own country.  So much for journalistic ethics and good practices.

Save your outrage for people like Judith Miller.  And if you believe Shaun King is too bombastic, or his writing puts you off, or if you believe his posts are "dangerous" then here's an easy solution for you - don't read him.

Reposted from Chitown Kev by Chitown Kev

And so it goes. Same as it ever was.

And I'm not simply talking about police officers getting away with killing (mostly) young black men but the incessant nitpicking of each and every case searching and not giving a damn about one dead black body piling up after another dead black body.

Of course, I know that each case is individual and argued on its' own merits but the pattern is clear.

American law enforcement seems to have no problem unleashing deadly force on black children and black people.

Samuel Jones at The Grio reminds us that as recently as 2006, The Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a warning that white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan were increasingly seeking to "infiltrate" law enforcement.

The document that Jones refers to is a 7-page unclassified document published by the FBI.

White Supremacist Infiltration of Law Enforcement

White supremacists in law enforcement is nothing new of course; in part, the origins of organized police departments in America actually goes back to the slave patrols of colonial times.

One positively chilling aspect of this 2006 FBI report is the description of what white supremacists call "ghost skins."

Since coming to law enforcement attention in late 2004, the term "ghost skins" has gained currency among white supremacists to describe those who avoid overt displays of their beliefs to blend into society and covertly advance white supremacist causes.
I don't know who the white supremacists are in the police departments, DA offices, and judge's chambers of this country.

And neither do you.

They have assimilated.

And many of you--us--will be assimilated, at least if I am reading the comment sections of this supposedly progressive blog correctly.

I certainly do not (or should not) need to detail the history of white American police brutality against African Americans and other people of color.

But I do have to ask:

Is this the 21st century America that we want?

Is this the America that we want?

How about this? (yeah, Jon Burge is as disgusting as ever.)

Former convicted Area 2 Police Commander Jon Burge says he finds it “hard to believe” that Chicago’s “political leadership” could “even contemplate giving reparations to human vermin” like the “guilty vicious criminals” he tried to take off the streets.
Fucking animal.

Is this what America wants? Back to The Grio article.

This year, alone, at least seven San Francisco law enforcement officers were suspended after an investigation revealed they exchanged numerous “White Power” communications laden with remarks about “lynching African-Americans and burning crosses.” Three reputed Klan members that served as correction officers were arrested for conspiring to murder a black inmate. At least four Fort Lauderdale police officers were fired after an investigation found that the officers fantasized about killing black suspects.
Apparently so, if this 2014 Gallup Poll is to be believed.

Or at least that what a majority of white Americans seems to want.

Remember, these are the cases that have simply come to light.

How am I supposed to make distinctions whenever I meet a police officer; assimilation is the goal of the "ghost skins," right (assimilation wasn't always necessary mind you but we are post-racial nowadays, right)?

I would think that a progressive community would be at least as concerned about fast tracking some solutions and legislation to halt the spread of white supremacist "peace officers" and police departments as it is about stopping TPP.

Or maybe not.

So...just remember that the next time you clutch your pearls about the next Shaun King diary or you lament about not able to get working, hard-working class white folks to vote Democratic because of a black President or a burnt out CVS...

Remember that you built this.

Remember that you have been (or will be) assimilated.

Because I won't forget it.

I can't afford to.

Reposted from thirty three and a third by Denise Oliver Velez

Today in Ferguson 150 years after the Civil War we see "ghastly remnants of our great shame emerging still"/Lincoln warned of "national suicide" if we neglect to be a "nation of freemen"/Mark Twain's Huck Finn deciding to "go to hell" instead of turning in the "property" of his runaway slave friend Jim "may be the finest moment in all of American literature"/Our insistence on "Exceptionalism" blinds us to making necessary fixes/BlackLivesMatter because we have not achieved a post-racial society when institutional racism is still enshrined.

If you like to get a little history now and then from your tv on these United States (which I do and enjoy as a supplement to reading books) and are not a cave dweller in New Mexico or something then Ken Burns needs no introduction. He is an icon of documentary film-making, with techniques that have revolutionized the art of historical story-telling. His style is so well-known and vaunted in documentary film-making that one could say he's as much a standard as The Beatles "Sgt. Pepper" was to serious album-making (even the I-Photo program of Apple Mac's has a "Ken Burns effect" feature). Which is probably why he's been an exclusive part of a legacy that values nuanced and critical story-telling (PBS), rather than one that pumps out sensational and often jingoistic pap for the undiscerning (The History Channel).

Given that he occupies such strata through his lifetime devotion to history, his decision to lay bare the moment we find ourselves in, with respect to America perhaps finally coming to terms in grappling with, after a very long avoidance of, the malignancy of systemic racism, was a very powerful and instructive deed.

Powerful and salient he was in this remarkable commencement speech at Washington University in St. Louis. His choice of historical anecdotes and geographical context, perfectly harmonized with the events of today.  Of that he didn't mince words either, telling these young folks that he was "drafting them into a new Union Army." In that sense he is very much an advocate, an activist, if you will.

That's an important distinction. Where are our civic leaders, elected officials, journalists, celebrities, who are willing to unequivocally confront systemic institutional racism, enough to instigate the painful discussion and in turn force the subsequent legislation needed to once and for all remedy this?

There are so few amongst us willing to put themselves forward. It's an era of craven sellout, self-promotion and celebrity gossip. The vast majority of media outlets have made it clear too, that they're not in business to honor such a quaint idea as the Fourth Estate of journalism providing the checks and balances which quite literally are the lifeblood of democracy. Instead the landscape is littered with fear-mongering trash such as Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck et all, but also folks such as Wolf Blitzer, and the subservience of Meet The Press, CNN and the rest of network news.  

It is all the more significant that Burns chose to use his platform to courageously put the hard conversation front and center. For this he should be roundly applauded, and more importantly, imitated.

Here are some highlight of this poetic tour de force, in which he calls upon on the young graduates to respond collectively to this moral carpe diem, instead of the death of "careerism," by answering "the angels of our better nature" so we can fulfill at last the American promise of freedom and equality (all emphasis mine):


Over the years I've come to understand an important fact, I think: that we are not condemned to repeat, as the cliché goes and we are fond of quoting, what we don't remember. That's a clever, even poetic phrase, but not even close to the truth. Nor are there cycles of history, as the academic community periodically promotes. The Bible, Ecclesiastes to be specific, got it right, I think: "What has been will be again. What has been done will be done again. There is nothing new under the sun."

What that means is that human nature never changes. Or almost never changes. We have continually superimposed our complex and contradictory nature over the random course of human events. All of our inherent strengths and weaknesses, our greed and generosity, our puritanism and our prurience parade before our eyes, generation after generation after generation. This often gives us the impression that history repeats itself. It doesn't.

Lincoln's Springfield speech also suggests what is so great and so good about the people who inhabit this lucky and exquisite country of ours (that's the world you now inherit): our work ethic, our restlessness, our innovation and our improvisation, our communities and our institutions of higher learning, our suspicion of power; the fact that we seem resolutely dedicated to parsing the meaning between individual and collective freedom; that we are dedicated to understanding what Thomas Jefferson really meant when he wrote that inscrutable phrase "the pursuit of Happiness."

But the isolation of those two mighty oceans has also helped to incubate habits and patterns less beneficial to us: our devotion to money and guns; our certainty -- about everything; our stubborn insistence on our own exceptionalism, blinding us to that which needs repair, our preoccupation with always making the other wrong, at an individual as well as global level.

Before the enormous strides in equality achieved in statutes and laws in the 150 years since the Civil War that Lincoln correctly predicted would come are in danger of being undone by our still imperfect human nature and by politicians who now insist on a hypocritical color-blindness -- after four centuries of discrimination. That discrimination now takes on new, sometimes subtler, less obvious but still malevolent forms today. The chains of slavery have been broken, thank God, and so too has the feudal dependence of sharecroppers as the vengeful Jim Crow era recedes (sort of) into the distant past. But now in places like -- but not limited to -- your other neighbors a few miles as the crow flies from here in Ferguson, we see the ghastly remnants of our great shame emerging still, the shame Lincoln thought would lead to national suicide, our inability to see beyond the color of someone's skin. It has been with us since our founding...

But the shame continues: prison populations exploding with young black men, young black men killed almost weekly by policemen, whole communities of color burdened by corrupt municipalities that resemble more the predatory company store of a supposedly bygone era than a responsible local government. Our cities and towns and suburbs cannot become modern plantations.

It is unconscionable, as you emerge from this privileged sanctuary, that a few miles from here -- and nearly everywhere else in America: Baltimore, New York City, North Charleston, Cleveland, Oklahoma, Sanford, Florida, nearly everywhere else -- we are still playing out, sadly, an utterly American story, that the same stultifying conditions and sentiments that brought on our Civil War are still on such vivid and unpleasant display.

Twain, himself, writing after the Civil War and after the collapse of Reconstruction, a misunderstood period devoted to trying to enforce civil rights, was actually expressing his profound disappointment that racial differences still persisted in America, that racism still festered in this favored land, founded as it was on the most noble principle yet advanced by humankind -- that all men are created equal. That civil war had not cleansed our original sin, a sin we continue to confront today, daily, in this supposedly enlightened "post-racial" time.

It is into this disorienting and sometimes disappointing world that you now plummet, I'm afraid, unprotected from the shelter of family and school. You have fresh prospects and real dreams and I wish each and every one of you the very best. But I am drafting you now into a new Union Army that must be committed to preserving the values, the sense of humor, the sense of cohesion that have long been a part of our American nature, too. You have no choice, you've been called up, and it is your difficult, but great and challenging responsibility to help change things and set us right again.
Let me apologize in advance to you. We broke it, but you've got to fix it.

Let me speak directly to the graduating class. (Watch out. Here comes the advice.)

Remember: Black lives matter. All lives matter.

Reject fundamentalism wherever it raises its ugly head. It's not civilized. Choose to live in the Bedford Falls of "It's a Wonderful Life," not its oppressive opposite, Pottersville...

Don't confuse monetary success with excellence. The poet Robert Penn Warren once warned me that "careerism is death"...

Read. The book is still the greatest manmade machine of all -- not the car, not the TV, not the computer or the smartphone.

Do not allow our social media to segregate us into ever smaller tribes and clans, fiercely and sometimes appropriately loyal to our group, but also capable of metastasizing into profound distrust of the other...

Convince your government that the real threat, as Lincoln knew, comes from within. Governments always forget that, too. Do not let your government outsource honesty, transparency or candor. Do not let your government outsource democracy...

Insist that we support science and the arts, especially the arts. They have nothing to do with the actual defense of the country -- they just make the country worth defending...

And if you ever find yourself in Huck's spot, if you've "got to decide betwixt two things," do the right thing. Don't forget to tear up the letter. He didn't go to hell -- and you won't either.

Reposted from Diane Sweet's Blog by a2nite

According to Baltimore police, Freddie Gray was “irate” in a transport van after his arrest and they had to restrain him. However, that account is being challenged with the release by The Baltimore Sun today of a new video taken by a witness at the van's Baker and Mount Street stop.

In the video Gray is seen “halfway out of the van, his stomach flat on the floor, and his legs hanging off the back. He does not move as four officers stand over him and place shackles around his ankles.”

A police news release on April 16 stated that when the van departed from Mount and Baker streets, video evidence indicated that Gray was "conscious and speaking," yet it's not known what video the police are talking about. The account of the eyewitness who recorded the video reveals otherwise.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

The video shot by Gross' neighbor is distorted, and shows just a few seconds at the back of the van. As officers restrain Gray, the video shows another officer pull up in a patrol car, get out and walk toward the van. (The neighbor did not allow his name to be published because he feared retaliation by police, but Gross allowed The Sun to copy the video from her phone.)

At this point on the cell phone video, Gross yells to Gray, "You all right?" No response is detectable from the recording and Gross said she didn't hear Gray respond. Her neighbor yells, "Porter, can we get a supervisor up here please?" He said he was yelling at officer William Porter, who would be one of the six charged in the case.

The neighbor said Porter motioned to Rice, identifying him as the supervisor. On the video, the neighbor says, "Can we get someone else out here? This is not cool. This is not cool. Do you hear me?" The man's shouts are heard on the phone, but not the officers' responses.

The man said that Rice and other officers moved toward him, blocking his view of the van. They didn't ask him to stop recording, but Rice took out his Taser and threatened to use it if he didn't leave, the man said.

Due to those shackles and not wearing a seatbelt, Gray “suffered a severe and critical neck injury,” according to prosecutors.
Reposted from Vyan by Denise Oliver Velez

In the following clip from CNN in a discussion of how different the Police and media response has been to the mass murder spree and shootout by Waco Biker Gangs, contrasted to not just the so-called "Riots" but even the reaction to Non-Violent and Unarmed Citizens and Protestors in Ferguson and Baltimore, Former Police Officer Harry Hauck can hardly restrain himself from multiple diatribes which all essentially break down into Black Criminals make Cops Kill Them, without ever addressing the fact that White Offenders of far more heinous actions are repeatedly treated with kid gloves.

Via RawStory.

 Hauck then goes on to claim that the reason Black people, whether they are Non-violent protestors or not, are commonly called "Thugs" while two gangs of vicious White Murderers aren't is because of - well - Rap music.  Yes, really.

“I don’t know how you can make a comparison between Waco and Baltimore,” Houck complained. “Are these guys thugs? Yeah, they’re thugs… I use the word thug and I mean ‘bad guy’ when I use the word.”

I think the word was owned by rappers,” he continued. “They started coming out with songs and calling themselves thugs, and I think that’s how this whole thing started, with the black community and the young men calling themselves thugs. Alright? And I think that’s how that all started.”

Continued over the flip.
Continue Reading
Reposted from shaunking by a2nite
Malcolm X speaking in Los Angels on police brutality
Malcolm X speaking in Los Angeles on police brutality
On April 27, 1962, the LAPD murdered Brother Ronald Stokes, a friend of Malcolm X and a new member of the Nation of Islam. Ronald Stokes was a Korean War veteran. As many as seven other members of the Nation of Islam were shot by the LAPD as well. In the aftermath of that shooting, Malcolm X traveled to Los Angeles to address the plague of police brutality and how the media misrepresents the dangers of black men in ways that justify the police murders of African Americans across the country.

The entire speech is powerful, but in the excerpt below, Malcolm X speaks words that shockingly relevant today. It's powerful to hear them, because they apply so much to our current reality, but they are also disappointing because they reveal just how little things have changed.

Continue Reading
Reposted from B. Cayenne Bird by smkyle1

I do have much to say before I know the ramifications of today’s sentencing hearing about unprofessional media coverage and distortion of facts that embarrass me as a journalist/editorialist/activist for more than four decades. I may make updates to this column after I see what needs to be corrected in the news coverage.  I did clarify some of the misinformation with an Op-Ed I wrote which appeared in many publications on Nov 17, 2014 here

That detail there did seem to help settle the frenzy down a bit and I do not expect Shanesha to get prison or have her children removed from her custody today due to the public outcry that followed the correction of facts. The County Attorney Bill Montgomery does mean her harm because she dared to challenge his unreasonable demand that she freeze the funds that the donors wanted her to have to mount a proper legal defense and care for her children now, not 18 years from now.  

What is really primary in my mind is that Montgomery re-filed charges in the middle of negotiations of the original plea deal OVER MONEY.

Continue Reading

Tue May 19, 2015 at 01:00 PM PDT

Black Kos, Tuesday's Chile

by Black Kos

I still tear up every time I watch this video. But even then, we knew that it was not enough. Far from it.

Is "Black Leadership" Enough? Not For These Young Adults
by Chitown Kev

Like many other people, I cried when it was announced that my United States Senator, Barack Hussein Obama, was projected to become the 44th President of the United States of America.  

Still, I did not fully "get" the symbolic power of that moment, of that event until early in 2009.

At the time, I was working for an educator who is also a longtime acquaintance of the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama. I was in a school auditorium with mostly black and Latino high school students. One of the students had done a short film life about...teenage life, in general, I suppose. For a moment, the Shepherd Fairey "Hope" illustration of President Obama appeared on the screen.

The kids cheered and jumped up and down and whooped it up as if it were the old Chicago Stadium and Michael Jeffrey Jordan had just hit a buzzer-beater.

Mind you, I doubt that any of the kids were even eligible to vote. Nevertheless, I think fondly of that day in a school auditorium and that moment it remains one of the most moving and powerful moments.

It is now 2015, over six and a half years into the administration of the first black president.

And while I can't pin down an exact and definitive number of black elected officials in this country (I'm working on that), I do know that as I write this, there are over 10,000 black elected officials in the United States.

Recently, I had the pleasure of hearing "the kids" sound off again.

If, as Dr. King maintained, "a riot is the language if the unheard" (and I believe that it is), then I do believe that when those who "rioted" (or their social peers, in this case)  do speak, we should listen to them.

This "town hall" of the African-American young adults and teenagers of Baltimore comes in at about an hour and a half; I've already watched in its' entirety twice.

While I have a number of thoughts, opinions, and even criticisms of this program, I'm going to shelve them for the time being and let the participants speak for themselves.

Well...I will note this...Clearly, these audience participants did not take kindly to their elected mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, and the President of the United States calling them and their peers "thugs" before national television audiences.

In fact, "the kids" are not particularly happy with "black leadership."

But I'll allow them to speak in their own words.

Thank you for reading.

h/t Truthdig

Continue Reading
Reposted from Leslie Salzillo by Denise Oliver Velez
Rev. Dr. William Barber II, former Netroots speaker and founder of Moral Mondays, along with Forward Together and the NC NAACP, released a new date for the NC NAACP v. McCrory trial. The lawsuit alleges voter suppression in North Carolina, and the trial is now slated for July 13, 2015, in Winston Salem. There is also a massive 'North Carolina Is Our Selma' march scheduled on that same day that will most likely become historic. So if you're in the neighborhood…

Here is an excerpt from the latest email from Rev. Barber, followed by a timeline of informative past events leading up to the pending trial.

From Rev. Barber and Forward Together/NC NAACP:
May 16, 2015
NC NAACP v. McCrory (New) Trial Date Set for July 13

The historic trial of our lawsuit against the McCrory-Tillis-Berger law designed to disenfranchise African American and other anti-racism voters has been postponed a week. The federal judge notified us that he wants the trial to begin on on July 13 in his court in Winston-Salem. "It gives us a week more to spread the word," Rev. Dr. Barber said. "Tell everyone. Monday, July 13, Winston-Salem! We march across our Edmund Pettus Bridge in Winston-Salem to expose and reverse the Tea Party's unconstitutional attack on the voting rights our parents and grandparents won with their lives and blood. North Carolina is our Selma!"

This Week We Called on Gov. McCrory to Explain the Substantial Drop in Voter Registrations at Public Assistance Agencies

The NC NAACP and Forward Together Moral Movement handed a request for e-mails between the Governor, Dr. Wos, who runs the Department of Health and Human Services, and the 100 county DSS Directors, trying to get evidence about why the voter registrations of people applying for public assistance had dropped 66% from the day Gov. McCrory took office in January 2013. We asked Gov. McCrory for an immediate public statement about this suspicious drop off in registration of welfare recipients, which is required by the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. Dr. Wos' staff has said we can get some e-mails, but we have to pay for them. Stay tuned.

On Thursday, May 7, the Daily Kos published a troubling report that showed a substantial drop in voter registrations submitted from public assistance agencies since the beginning of 2013. According to the State Board of Elections, in 2012, 41,162 registration applications were submitted from pubic assistance agencies . In 2013, this number dropped to 18,758 and in 2014, it dropped even further to 13,340.

You can watch the news conference by clicking HERE or on the image below. You can also read our letter to Governor McCrory by clicking HERE.

For those still learning about Moral Mondays and the North Carolina citizen protest, I have compiled a timeline of events, including links to various mainstream and social media articles:

Here are some of the events from 2013:

January 2013
Republican Governor Pat McCrory takes office along with Republicans who won the House and Senate seats in 2012. The election gave Republicans control of both the legislative and executive branch for the first time since 1870. The Republicans began passing bills that many believe negatively affect education, voting rights, women's rights, the environment, racial justice and many social programs.

April 2013
A weekly grassroots protest led by Rev. Dr. William Barber II begins in Raleigh, North Carolina, called, Moral Mondays. It's reported that 924 protestors were arrested for peaceful 'civil disobedience' in 2013.

June 2013
The Supreme Court decision for Shelby v. Holder includes gutting a major part of the of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, giving states and many counties/municipalities, with the propensity for voter suppression, to have the right to change their election laws - without federal approval.

August 2013 
Governor McCrory signs new voting laws allegedly meant to suppress and discourage the votes of blacks, minorities, the elderly, the poor, many whom are known to vote Democrat.  

August 2013
NC NAAP and ACLU file lawsuit against Governor McCrory (NC NAACP v. McCrory).

September 2013
Attorney General Eric Holder with the Department of Justice files a lawsuit against the state of North Carolina over the new voting laws.

Here are some of the events from 2014:
February 2014
Tens of thousands show up for Moral March (aka Moral Mondays/Forward Together - Not One Step Back) in Raleigh.

June 2014
After watching the NC Moral Mondays/Forward Together grow by the thousands, NC Senator Thom Goolsby writes op-ed calling the Moral Monday citizens, 'Moral Morons.'

September 2014
 Over 100,000 erroneous voter packages are sent out by Koch brothers' Americans For Prosperity reportedly to mislead and misinform NC voters.

October 2014
After the League of Women Voters and others file a lawsuit against Governor McCrory and members of the NC Board of Elections leading to an Appeals court panel to blocks two key voter suppression provisions of new North Carolina voting laws

October 8, 2014
Supreme Court overrides the Appeals Court decision.

November  2014
Midterms lead to overwhelming Republican victories causing Republicans to maintain majority in the House, Senate, NC Supreme Court, and Governor's Office.

Here are some of the events from 2015, as well as some important upcoming events:
February 2015
Once again, tens of thousands show up for a 2015 Forward Together Moral March in downtown Raleigh.

May 7, 2015
Daily Kos writer, DocDawg, reveals large drop in voter registration drops and discrepancies in a Daily Kos breaking story.

May 11, 2015
Rev Barber calls emergency press conference where Rev. Barber discusses the disturbing evidence from the aforementioned Daily Kos breaking story and the NC NAACP demand official records from Governor McCrory. Here is the youtube video of the May 11th press conference.

May 12, 2015
Daily Kos diarist, DocDawg, updates the North Carolina voter registration meltdown.

May 16, 2015
Rev. Barber announces new court date for lawsuit, NC NAACP v. McCrory against Governor Pat McCrory, Senator Thom Tillis, and Senator Philip Berger is now July 13, 2015 in Winston Salem.


July 13, 2015
Court date scheduled for the NC NAAP v. McCrory trial, and a historic march in Winston-Salem, NC.

The results of this North Carolina lawsuit may be an incredible game changer for this country. At minimum, we hope to see these messages resonate to other states that are accused of voter suppression. Cheers to the Rev. Barber, the NC NAACP, and most of all to the thousands of Moral Monday protestors and supporters of 'justice for all.' Stay tuned for more updates.

This movement is amazing. Here are some photos I took on my iPhone while participating in Moral Monday rallies last summer. The photos don't show the huge crowds, but show the beauty of everyday Americans, both genders, all ages, colors, religions, economic statuses, political parties, and all walks of life coming together in joyful and peaceful spirit to protest injustice. It was life-changing for me. These images were also published in a Daily Kos diary from last September. See more photos below the fold.

Continue Reading
Reposted from Daily Kos by Denise Oliver Velez
Young African-American male driving, smiling
Most people have heard or read the acronym "DWB," which stands for "Driving While Black," or in many cases "Brown," derived from DWI—Driving While Intoxicated. In certain parts of the country, "DWI" can also mean "Driving While Indian," which this story, Driving While Indian: A Refresher Course by Mary Annette Pember, illustrates:
On a dark country road in Indian Country, the lessons of childhood come back quickly when the police pull you over. As a nation debates police violence, we should know that Native people are the ethnicity most likely to be killed by law enforcement.

When the officer rapped loudly with a flashlight on the passenger-side window of my car, my 16-year-old, special-needs daughter flung her arms around me like a frightened kitten climbing up my pants leg.

I tried to calm her as I rolled the window down. I could make out no details of the officer because he shined the flashlight in our eyes. The squad car's flashing lights were blinding.

This story did not end in tragedy—meaning death—but the scars that are left by the experience of racial profiling of drivers who are not-white are indelible.  

Follow me below the fold for more on the perils for people of color behind the wheel.

Continue Reading

Fri May 15, 2015 at 01:00 PM PDT

Black Kos, Week In Review

by Black Kos

Commentary: African American Scientists and Inventors
by Black Kos Editor, Sephius1

Benjamin T. Montgomery (1819–1877) was an influential African-American inventor, landowner, and freedman.

Ben Montgomery was born in captivity in Loudoun County, Virginia. In 1837, he was sold south, and purchased in Natchez, Mississippi by Joseph Emory Davis—whose brother, Jefferson Davis, later became the President of the Confederate States of America. Montgomery escaped but was recaptured. Davis reportedly "inquired closely into the cause of his dissatisfaction", whereby the two men reached a "mutual understanding" about the Montgomery's situation.

Continue Reading
Reposted from Chitown Kev by Denise Oliver Velez

The Guardian is reporting that a local Chicago filmmaker, Angel Perez, was interrogated and sexually assaulted at the Chicago Police Department's Homan Square "black site" in October 2012.

(Warning: This description is GRAPHIC)

Spencer Ackerman:

...Perez was handcuffed by his right wrist to a metal bar behind a bench in an interrogation room on the second floor of Homan Square. Behind him were two police officers that a lawsuit Perez recently re-filed identifies as Jorge Lopez and Edmund Zablocki. They had been threatening him with a stint at the infamously violent Cook County jail if he didn’t cooperate.

“They’re gonna think you’re a little sexy bitch in jail,” Perez recalled one of them saying. The lawsuit quotes Lopez: “I hear that a big black nigger dick feels like a gun up your ass.”

Perez claims he was bent over in front of the bench and a piece of detritus. He recalled smelling urine and seeing bloodstains in the room. The police officers pulled his shirt up and slowly moved a metallic object down his bare skin. Then they pulled his pants down.

“He’s talking all this sexual stuff, he’s really getting fucking weird about it, too,” Perez remembered. He began shaking, the beginnings of a panic attack.

“They get down to where they’re gonna insert it, this is where I feel that it’s something around my rear end, and he said some stupid comment and then he jammed it in there and I started jerking and going all crazy – I think I kicked him – and I just go into a full-blown panic attack … The damage it caused, it pretty much swole my rear end like a baboon’s butt.”

Whatever the object was, the police suggested it was the barrel of a handgun. After Perez involuntarily jerked from the penetration, Officer Edmund Zablocki is alleged to have told him: “I almost blew your brains out.”

Perez is the 13th detainee of the Homan Square "black site" (so-called because the Homan Square site was modeled after the notorious CIA's interrogation black sites) that has been interviewed by the Guardian. Perez filed a lawsuit in 2013 but Perez did not know, apparently, that he was detained at the Homan Square site until recently.

Four other detainees of the Homan Square "black site" have joined Perez's lawsuit.

The Chicago Police Department did not respond to The Guardian's list of questions for this story but a police spokesperson did tell the Guardian that Perez's claims were "unfounded"

Mr. Perez was not charged with any crime.

The Guardian has exclusive video at the link to this story.

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