The Shooting Of Ferguson Cops Displays Unfair Justice

If you want a lesson on the inequities of American justice continue to pay attention to Ferguson, Missouri.


Local authorities in the now infamous St. Louis suburb are on the lookout for two men that are suspected of shooting and wounding a police officer on Saturday night. St Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar says that the shooting was not related to that day’s protests concerning the killing of Michael Brown by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, but in the aftermath of Brown’s death on August 9th everything concerning the city’s law enforcement officials and the citizens that they are suppose to serve is intertwined.


America does not tolerate violence against police officers, particularly if one is tragically murdered in the line of duty. The latest example of this is the current manhunt for Eric Frein in Pennsylvania’s northeastern woods. Frein is accused of shooting and killing state trooper Bryon Dickerson and seriously wounding his partner. The people in charge of finding Frein will display extra intensity in doing so and should he be apprehended alive the criminal justice system will not go light. Those are the ramifications for bringing harm to people who do a thankless job for little money while putting themselves in dangerous situations.


With that being said it would be nice if that same criminal justice system worked in the same way when the roles are reversed. In this week where the search is on for Frein and the Ferguson gunmen, A grand jury refused to indict Beavercreek, Ohio police officers in the shooting death of John Crawford. Crawford was a twenty two year old black man who was shopping in an area Wal-Mart while carrying a toy rifle in a open carry state and that still wasn’t enough to keep him from joining a list of victims that is way too long, a list of victims that lost their lives at the hands of overzealous law enforcement who are too quick to view black and brown people in particular as anything but human.


“The grand jury listened to all of the evidence, voted on it and decided that the police officers were justified in their use of force that day” said prosecutor Mark Piepmeier. This despite the fact that surveillance video from inside the store showed that Crawford, who was on his cell phone the entire time clearly was not a threat, customers continued to shop next to him without fear in large part because he did not appear to be waving the gun at them as the store employee who made the 911 call to law enforcement suggested. Imagine the inverse. Imagine if John Crawford had a real assault rifle in his possession that day. Imagine if he opened fire on a crowd of police officers and lived to tell the tale. Would a grand jury that would probably be made up of some of those same Beavercreek citizens come back with a statement like “we listened to all of the evidence, voted on it and decided Crawford was in fear of his life and was merely defending himself,” I sincerely doubt it.


The protection from responsibility that our society gives those who carry badges is not only shortsighted, it is a matter of life and death, especially for those of us whose pigmentation happens to be on the darker side. It is that same shield that provided Johannes Mehserle, a former bay area transit cop whose white, freedom from a second degree murder charge for shooting African-American Oscar Grant to death on a subway platform in Oakland while he was handcuffed and lying face down. It’s a barrier that protected Mehserle from the lengthy prison sentence that he deserved, one that made sure he did less than 10 months for taking the life of an unarmed and defenseless human being. It’s not a stretch to believe that Mehserle would have never seen the inside of a courtroom had certain members of the jury pool that decided his fate had their way.


While police officials turn the greater St. Louis area upside down to find the assailants that shot one of their own this past weekend, Darren Wilson continues to lie on a couch in an undisclosed location, feet up drink in hand. Wilson knows the luxury of having a Police Chief that is willing to move heaven and earth to protect him while at the same time issuing completely disingenuine apologies to a community that is devastated and a family that will never be the same. Wilson can bask in the glow of having colleagues that support him by wearing “I am Darren Wilson” wristbands while simultaneously carrying an open disdain for a group of taxpayers that they essentially work for. Wilson knows that the likelihood of him ever suffering any real consequences for shooting Mike Brown to death are slim because the chances of a Ferguson grand jury coming to the same conclusion that the one in Beavercreek did are great.


There is no question that police work is difficult. The possibility of a cop not walking into his front door on any given night is real. However a person of color not surviving an encounter with police officers is also real. The problem is accountability in the legal system isn’t fairly distributed and too many people and their loved ones know that all too well.

class, domestic violence, politics, race

Roger Goodell And NFL Owners Can’t Escape Their Responsibility

Now what?


Now what for Janay Palmer-Rice and yes Ray Rice, in the wake of The National Football League washing their hands of them and moving forward with business as usual. Despite what they have said publicly I’m not gullible enough to believe Commissioner Roger Goodell and Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti when they profess their thoughts and prayers for an employee that they have now fired and the wife that he battered because they suddenly became bad for business.


The one thing that has been proven through Bisciotti’s letter to Ravens fans and Goodell’s sit down interview with CBS’s Norah O’Donnell is that they have already moved on. One is preparing for a critical divisional game between his most hated enemy on Thursday, a game he and his team can’t afford to lose and the other is back to running a multi-billion dollar franchise while at the same time doing his best Olivia Pope crisis management impersonation. Neither has publicly expressed any personal concern for a woman who had her face bashed in.


To expect something more from The CEO of the most profitable sports league in the country and one of its principal owners would be too much. The culture of the NFL is “next man up,” you see that when a player is injured for a significant amount of time and you are seeing it now that one of the star running backs of the league has been released because he couldn’t keep his hands to himself. While Steve Bisciotti has not publicly expressed support or concern for Janay Palmer-Rice you can bet your ass that he has talked to Bernard Pierce and Justin Forsett about his need for them to be productive. If you are not sure who those guys are there Ray Rice’s former backups.


I have refused to put on a cape for Ray Rice since the beginning of this entire episode and I’m not going to do so now. The sight of him punching a woman twice and then dragging her from an elevator like a sack of potatoes, a woman that he claims he loves is an image that most people will never be able to erase from their minds. However the reality is Janay Palmer-Rice has chosen to keep her family together and that is a decision that no one has the right to question.


Bisciotti ended his letter to Ravens fans on Tuesday by saying that “We hope that Ray will continue to work to be the best husband, father, and person he can be and he will turn this awful situation into something positive.” Given Mrs. Palmer-Rice’s desire to go forward in her marriage that is what we should all want, but Steve Bisciotti and Roger Goodell think that their vast economic resources shouldn’t accompany their thoughts and prayers which is a way of thinking that typifies how NFL bosses view their fieldhands.


No matter how much they try to distance themselves from him Ray Rice is a part of the National Football League Family. He is apart of that family just like retired players are, players who were hit in the head too many times, or sprained too many ankles, or tore too many ligaments. The league should be front and center in providing every resource imaginable to Rice in his recovery from being a domestic abuser. The same league had to be shamed into providing those same resources to men who severely damaged their bodies and their brains while making the game and the league into what it is.


This situation should also be a wake up call to professional athletes and especially black athletes like Ray Rice. They need to stop living in a world and adopting a mentality where playing in the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, or Major League Baseball is the best thing that has ever happened to them.


Contrary to what certain factions of the media will tell you it is not a privilege, it is a job, nothing more nothing less. All of the hoopla on social media about how Rice won’t be able to support his family if indeed his career is over is head scratching. If Ray Rice after playing six years in the NFL and amassing a reported $14 million can’t financially support his family than his problems are bigger than the ones we know about.


For pro athletes it doesn’t matter if the wounds are self inflicted like Ray Rice’s or unintended, unfortunate circumstances, people like Steve Bisciotti and Roger Goodell don’t give a damn. They will continue to collect their millions while they move around the pieces on their collective chess boards. It is no big deal to them that Rice had to be taken off the table.


DOJ Investigation Should Lead To A Ferguson House Cleaning

Here’s to hoping that The DOJ’s investigation into the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department brings about the type of house cleaning that has been long overdue.


Since the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed eighteen year old black man at the hands of Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson the department has shown it’s willingness to close ranks around one of it’s own. The fact the Wilson is still on administrative leave with pay and may have been allowed to leave the city or even the state is a testament to that. Now think about those things while thinking about the reality of five of Wilson’s colleagues on the force being named in federal lawsuits that allege the use of excessive force.


Accusations are just that, accusations, but given what we now know about the police forces in and around Missouri’s second biggest city and what we know about the history of police forces in America and their treatment of minorities The Justice Department couldn’t have arrived any sooner–which also begs the question where have local leaders been to this point–


If everyone were objective and looked at what has been displayed thus far by the city’s finest they would honestly say that there is no reason on earth Ferguson’s police chief should keep his job. Thomas Jackson, in addition to releasing an irrelevant convenient store surveillance tape that showed Michael Brown allegedly committing a strong armed robbery has presided over cops who in 2013 stopped black motorists at a rate that was twice as high as stops for motorists who happened to be white, cops who are facing lawsuits that concern the killing of a mentally ill man with a taser, the choking and hogtying of a twelve year old child, and the pistol whipping of another, and cops who allowed their police dogs to trample through and urinate on the makeshift memorial site that was set up on the spot where Michael Brown was killed.


“The cases themselves are fairly extraordinary, so is the volume. It’s prima facie evidence of discriminatory practices. I would be surprised if the Justice Department didn’t make a recommendation that they be placed under scrutiny.” That’s what Clarence Harmon, the former Mayor of St.Louis told the Washington Post last week before Attorney General Eric Holder announced the department’s investigation on Thursday. Statements like Harmon’s identify the frustration felt by many in the community who have put up with way too much for way too long. The buck has to stop somewhere and in every situation bosses are and should be held to a higher standard than those who work under them. The seriousness of what Darren Wilson did and the allegations against his co-workers drive home the point that Jackson’s head has to roll.


The Feds investigating what some Ferguson police officers have done for a good time is something that should now extend nationwide. In Los Angeles the LAPD recently released the names of officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas after three weeks of demands by the city’s black and brown communities. Wampler and Villegas shot and killed 25 year old Ezell Ford, another unarmed black man on August 11, two days after Brown was fatally shot. Also the autopsy report on Ford still hasn’t been released by the city’s coroner raising more questions about the methods of those in charge.


It was nearly twenty five years ago that LAPD made Rodney King into a household name and nearly twenty five years later cases like King’s are still front page news. The most active Justice Department in history in terms of making sure the civil right’s of citizens are protected should continue down the path that it has started on and make trips to Staten Island–Eric Garner–,Beaver Creek,Ohio,–John Crawford–, and Los Angeles–Ford and Omar Abrego–.


The message that would send to police departments all over the country would be the same message that the city of Ferguson is receiving right now, a message that says “we have to get our house in order.” Doing exactly that means having Tom Jackson and the other higher ups in the Ferguson PD clean out their offices.



Israel claims West Bank land for possible settlement use, draws U.S. rebuke


Verbal comdemnation is not enough from Obama and Cameron. Action needs to be taken, but we all know that it is action that will never come.

Originally posted on digger666:

via Israel claims West Bank land for possible settlement use, draws U.S. rebuke.

Israel announced on Sunday a land appropriation in the occupied West Bank that an anti-settlement group termed the biggest in 30 years, drawing Palestinian condemnation and a U.S. rebuke.Some 988 acres in the Etzion Jewish settlement bloc near Bethlehem were declared “state land, on the instructions of the political echelon” by the military-run Civil Administration.”We urge the government of Israel to reverse this decision,” a State Department official said in Washington, calling the move “counterproductive” to efforts to achieve a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel Radio said the step was taken in response to the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish teens by Hamas militants in the area in June.Tensions stoked by the incident quickly spread to Israel’s border with Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, and the two sides engaged in a…

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Democrats Need Our Votes, We Need Better Democrats

Here comes the Democratic Party and they are right on time as usual. Every even numbered year, and especially after labor day of that year the donkeys will show up and put on a full court press that is geared towards getting black voters to the polls. 2014 doesn’t appear to be any different.


Jonathan Martin of The New York Times had a great column Sunday that detailed how The Democrats are invoking the recent tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri–where a white cop executed an unarmed black kid–to increase voter participation. Civil rights icon and Georgia Congressman John Lewis is quoted in the piece saying. “Ferguson has made it crystal clear to the African-American community and others that we’ve got to go to the polls., You participate and vote and you can have some control over what happens to your child and your country.”


John Lewis can almost do no wrong in my mind given his personal contribution to shedding a light on white supremacy’s devastating effects but the operative word here is almost. Lewis is one of the very few politicians left in D.C. that hasn’t been corrupted by big money corporations so while he is out front demanding that black people take advantage of their hard earned right to exercise democracy he should also be putting out a clarion call to his liberal colleagues in Congress and the White House demanding that they serve those same black people in a better fashion than what they have.


Any objective political observer will tell you that the African-American vote is taken for granted by Democrats time and time again. The Dems know how the opposing party really feels about us and vice versa so they feel no guilt or shame about coming to us every other year when they need us and ignoring us in non-election years when we need them. Black voters are forever caught in a political no man’s land, where we pull the lever for the candidate who does the least amount of damage instead of one who truly represents our interests.


Earlier this summer the online advocacy group Color of Change encouraged its followers to confront ten members of the Congressional Black Caucus, ten members who have taken thousands in campaign contributions from the telecom industry. The industry is attempting to buy votes in order to put an end to a free and open internet, which would make it much more difficult for groups like Color of Change, The Dream Defenders, and The Black Youth Project to get out their messages. The list is the usual cast of bought and paid for CBC characters. Reps Bobby Rush, G.K. Butterfield, Sanford Bishop, Corrine Brown, Alcee Hastings, Greg Meeks, David Scott, Bennie Thompson, Mark Veasey and Lacy Clay. As a reminder Lacy Clay is also the Missouri Congressman who voted against an amendment in June that would have limited the transfer of military grade weapons to local police departments, Ferguson, Missouri is apart of the district that Clay represents. Last May The Huffington Post published a story about how certain members of the CBC were working overtime to rollback provisions in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. No one was hurt more during the economic crash of 2008 than working class black people. While they played by the rules they were taken advantage of through their hopes and dreams by greedy banks who put profits over morality.  

Six years later the congress members that those working class black folks voted for are focused on finding ways that allow the predators to repeat the process all over again.


Democrats know that winning back the House of Representatives this year is pretty much impossible, so holding on to the Senate is crucial. There are three races where Democratic Senate incumbents are fighting for their lives–Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, Kay Hagen in North Carolina, and Mark Pryor in Arkansas–and there is no doubt that the party will do everything they can to get the black residents of those states to the polls on November 4th. In doing so the same party will ask black voters to ignore the horrible stances of most of its elected members on education, jobs that provide a living wage, affordable housing, public transportation and fair and equal treatment by the criminal justice system.


The reality is that The Democratic Party, from the President on down needs to do better and the black community has to force them to do so. Since we are still a long way away from my ultimate dream of legitimate multiple party elections the constant voicing of displeasure and threats of primary challenges need to be the strategy going forward. Giving lip service to people about how you’re going to improve their quality of life is a practice no candidate or party should get away with anymore.

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Notice How Silent Hillary Is On Ferguson.

That sound of crickets chirping is becoming louder and louder by the day.


Last week during a stop on her book tour, former Secretary of State and presumed 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton went mute when two reporters asked her about the current situation in Ferguson, Missouri. It’s been almost three weeks since an unarmed black teenager named Mike Brown was murdered by a white police officer named Darren Wilson. That murder set off a colossal overreaction to protesters by Missouri police forces who were able to live out their military fantasies by using tanks and tear gas on the citizens of the largely black St. Louis suburb.


Let’s do away with the suspense, Hillary Clinton is running for President so it is no surprise that she is deploying a tactic that all moderate Democrats deploy when they are seeking office, “Don’t piss off moderate and or independent whites.” Clinton and her team much like Barack Obama and his team in 2008 just assume that black and brown people will show up to the polls and pull the lever for them, which provides no reason for her to speak to the very issues that plague our communities every day.


Throw out all of the facts and statistics you want. The fact that Brown was unarmed during his altercation with Wilson, the fact that the St. Louis County police department behaved like Hitler’s troops in Nazi Germany with it’s use of excessive force, or The fact that America’s inner cities are over policed, highlighted by the terrifying statistic that noted during a recent seven year period white cops killed two black citizens a week. None of those facts and statistics keep politicians like Clinton up at night as much as the idea of a white swing voter pulling the lever for a Republican.


Then again I could be totally wrong on this. Clinton is an unapologetic war hawk who as a Senator voted for the invasion of Iraq and has recently been critical of President Obama for not escalating the civil war in Syria by arming rebels. The New Republic’s Peter Beinart has referred to her as “the Israeli Government’s best spokesperson” because she is more of a hardliner than Benjamin Netanyahu. The sight of tanks rolling down residential streets and citizens being blasted with rubber bullets might not have been what she would have prescribed but it’s not a stretch to believe that the rule of law would have been the first thing on her mind while making sure that everything else took a backseat. Mike Brown’s murder and the revoking of his neighbors freedom of speech would have paled in comparison to damaged property. Also keep in mind that Clinton’s spouse did sit in the big chair once, and while he was there he signed into law the largest crime bill in the history of the country. A crime bill that placed more cops in black and brown communities and built more prisons to house the residents of those same communities.


Clinton’s silence on Ferguson is just reason number 1,000 as to why the coronation should be stopped dead in it’s tracks. A lengthy and thorough primary process would be the best thing for progressives everywhere, you know assuming some actual progressives decide to take her on. “When I see things like that, and I see, like, a warzone and I see bazookas and tanks and all of this stuff in an American city it offends me, if you’re standing up and you want to voice dissent, you know it really is what America is all about, is being able to dissent.”


Those weren’t the words of another potential 2016 Democratic candidate, not Maryland Governor Martin O’ Malley or Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Those are the words of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. Paul and every other elected official in the country doesn’t get a break for not addressing America’s problem with cops killing people of color, but sometimes you have to give the devil his due and thus far Paul has been the only auditioner who has condemned the police overreaction in Ferguson.


Minorities and other people who don’t reside within America’s power structure should always use the most powerful democratic tool they have which is their vote, that said they should no longer feel like they have to use that vote on a candidate that only represents the lesser of two evils. A true–and I stress the word true–progressive candidate from Hillary’s left should be the people’s choice in 2016, the fact that there isn’t much of a difference between her and whoever the Republicans nominate justifies that thinking.


Obama’s Ferguson Performance Deserves The Criticism It Gets

There was a time when it wasn’t cool to be referred to as “Cornel” or “Tavis.” That was certainly the case at the outset of the Barack Obama presidency.


You see being called by those two names meant you were the equivalent of a political sellout, someone who was deemed to be the black sheep of the family because you dared to go against the grain and be critical of 44 and his administration’s policies. Princeton Professor Cornel West rightly criticised Obama for accepting a Nobel Peace Prize while at the same time killing innocent people with indiscriminate drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan. Radio and Television personality Tavis Smiley’s commentary on Obama’s lack of empathy for poor people has been on target as much as it’s been valuable but because of examples like those both men continue to find themselves at odds with the Obama posse that expected them to shut up, smile, and nod.


Your ideology doesn’t have to completely line up with West’s or Smiley’s. West’s penchant to personally insult people who disagree with him by calling them horrible names is despicable and beneath him. Smiley’s one time business alignment with Wells Fargo was hypocritical and short sighted but at the end of the day neither one of them occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. To expect them or anyone else to go silent on the Obama White House is irresponsible and politically dangerous.


What’s strange is that as Barack Obama’s historical run winds down the West and Smiley band wagon seems to be getting crowded and that fact makes people like me say “it’s about time” and “what took you so long.” Over the five and a half years of this presidency too many liberals and way too many black folks have been silent about BO’s acceptance of torture, his use of the kill list, the desire he has for cutting social security, the farm bill he signed into law that cut food stamps, his allowing himself to be convinced that the national debt is a crisis, his crackdown on whistleblowers and his overuse of the espionage act. Those are just some of the issues that certain people who voted twice for the President are disappointed over.


The one that is currently on the minds of black people and people everywhere who believe in truth, fairness, and justice is the rather tepid speech the President gave from his vacation at Martha’s Vineyard concerning the shooting death of Michael Brown. While speaking about Brown, an eighteen year old African-American man who was murdered by a white police officer named Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, Obama did what he does best. In his mind he wrapped everything up in a nice little bow by chastising law enforcement for using excessive force against peaceful protesters while at that same time wrapping the knuckles of the more rowdy portion of the crowds for hurling rocks and bottles at police. He talked about his conversations with Attorney General Eric Holder who was briefing him on the situation, and he mentioned his conversation with Governor Jay Nixon and his prodding of him to travel to Ferguson and assess the situation.


The President walked the line right down the middle, which was the wrong thing to do. The refusal to acknowledge the America has a problem with law enforcement murdering people of color was an omission that should have cut a lot of people deep. Obama has never had a problem with talking about America’s problems with firearms overall. He has verbally spanked Congress for not passing tougher gun laws in the wake of the Newtown and Aurora tragedies. He had no problem working up anger and outrage when condemning ISIS last week for the brutal and horrific murder of American journalist James Foley, but when it came to the murder of another black kid by people who are sworn in to protect us it was him remaining even keeled.


What’s just as sad is the excuses that are given by people who are The President’s blind defenders. “He can’t say anymore than that because he will be giving his political opponents ammunition.” or He can’t be more forceful because he will ruin a pending DOJ investigation.” or the one that makes me scratch my head the most, “He is even handed publicly but his My Brother’s Keeper” initiative is addressing the problem.


Those defenses make absolutely no sense. How can The President of the United States voicing concern about out of control police officers ruin a pending DOJ investigation? Lyndon Johnson publicly expressing concern about three missing civil rights workers didn’t derail the federal case against their murderers. Also Obama is a lame duck second time president, What are the geniuses at Fox News going to say about him that they aren’t saying already. MSNBC”S Melissa Harris Perry made a great point on her show Saturday concerning “My Brother’s Keeper” when she asked how would it have helped Mike Brown. Brown appeared to be on the right track already, he had just graduated from high school and was on his way to technical school despite whatever did or didn’t happen on that infamous videotape. If this was his fate, What will be the fate of other people of color when their is no punishment for law enforcement when they kill us.


Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post thinks people like me are being unrealistic. He wrote that “some folks won’t be satisfied, it seems, until he–Obama– bursts into the East Room clad in Kente cloth and brandishing a definable “black agenda” or whatever so many blacks seem to want from him to prove that he cares.” I disagree. I don’t need the President to be Huey Newton, but I can’t have him be George W. Bush sitting on his ass during Katrina. I need him as the most powerful man in the world–who also happens to be black–to convey to the rest of America that black and brown people are fed up, I need him to express why our safety from the people whose job it is to protect us is vital.


As Capehart’s MSNBC colleague Michael Eric Dyson wrote in the same Washington Post concerning the President’s speech. The repeated killing of unarmed black people. The desperate poverty of black citizens. The bias in the criminal justice system. The raging social inequality. The intended or inadvertent disenfranchisement of large swaths of the citizenry. The dim prospects of upward mobility that grow bleaker by the day. Blacks must often use extraordinary measures, including protests in the streets, appearances in the media and appeals to local and national leaders to amplify their grievances, just to end up where white citizens begins. In psychological terms, that’s why Ferguson blew it’s id.

It would have been nice if the President had said that to the nation rather than offering up another even handed trope, topped off with the phrase “young black men commit crimes.”


Rather than saying just one time Mr. President, you screwed this one up the supporters have invented the phrase “Blackademic” as a slur for highly educated college professors who applaud a lot of what Obama has done, but rightfully ask him to do more. The ballot box is still the only recourse that America’s underclass has in terms of improving their lives for the better. When we use that ballot box we also have a responsibility to hold those in Government accountable. Even if he or she is an historic figure or somebody who fills us with immense pride.