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BecomeUngovernable – This Problem Isn’t Going Away: Heartless Police Shootings of Unarmed Black Americans Continue Into the Trump Era!

6 May

SAN FRANCISCO—MAY 15, 2015: SFPD officers pat down a black American man in San Francisco. Overall, Black Americans are arrested at 2.6 times the per-capita rate of all other Americans.
Photo Credit: ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock

To be black in America means to live in a state of constant vulnerability. To be black in America means to be viscerally aware of this vulnerability especially as it relates to interactions with law enforcement. Walking with friends is dangerous. Playing with a BB gun in the park is a fatal mistake. Looking like a “bad dude” could spell the end of your life.

Even leaving a party is grounds for extrajudicial murder.

This vulnerability bears out statistically as much as it does anecdotally. A study from Drexel University researchers found that black people are 2.8 times more likely than whites to be killed during encounters with law enforcement. A Vox analysis of FBI data found that in 2012, black people composed 31 percent of the victims of police killings, despite comprising only 13 percent of the total United States population.

The police violence imposed upon black bodies has taken an especially pronounced toll on black teens: Between 2010 and 2012, black teens were found to have been 21 times more likely than their white counterparts were to be shot and killed by police, according to ProPublica’s analysis.

These trends show no sign of abating. So far in 2017, black people have constituted 25 percent of the police shooting victims, according to the Washington Post.

Out of the 339 people shot and killed by police this year, 85 of them are black—and it’s only May.

Even being unarmed doesn’t insulate black bodies from being on the receiving end of fatal force. A study from the University of California, Davis, found that the likelihood of unarmed black people being shot by the police is 3.49 times higher than that of unarmed whites. This is the case even though, as independent researchers noted, blacks are less likely to constitute an immediate threat at the time of a fatal police shooting than are whites.

The disparities are even starker for black men. Black men composed 40 percent of all the unarmed victims of fatal police shootings in 2015 and 34 percent of all such victims in 2016, statistics severely disproportionate to their mere 6 percent representation in the United States population.

As Justin Nix, one of the researchers, summarized with chilling simplicity, “The only thing that was significant in predicting whether someone shot and killed by police was unarmed was whether or not they were black.” The other circumstances of the shooting were irrelevant.

Evidence of such implicit bias against black men on the part of police is consistent even in video game simulations. Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder found that participating police officers were quicker to draw and use their weapons to shoot blacks than whites in situations that warranted such a response. Almost more troubling was a study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which tested for evidence of a “dehumanization bias” in mostly white male police officers in 2014. Not only were the participating officers determined to be consistently dehumanizing blacks, but there also existed a strong correlation among the officers between exhibiting such a tendency to dehumanize and a record of using excessive force on blacks in custody.

It was against this backdrop of institutional and structural racism entrenched within the justice system that Donald Trump ascended to the presidency. Known for the racist rhetoric that drove thousands to his campaign rallies across the country, now-President Trump has shown no sign of changing his tune. In fact, if anything, Trump has doubled down on his hostility toward black (and brown) people: He threatened to “send in the Feds” to Chicago, a dog whistle so loud that it’s just a whistle. And his Justice Department, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a man with his own questionable history of racism, just declined to bring federal charges against the police officers who murdered Alton Sterling, a man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wrong colored skin.

At the same time, however, the Trump administration has been unwavering in its support for police and has made a commitment, according to the White House website, “to empower[ing] our law enforcement officers.” This is in striking contrast to the administration’s threat that its focus isn’t on making “life more comfortable for the rioter, the looter, or the violent disruptor.” (Hint: they’re referring to the black people exercising their First Amendment rights to demand that trigger-happy police stop killing them.)

With a different black person being killed by police seemingly every day, it can be tempting to fit them into a stream of victims of police violence and consolidate them together into faceless, nameless statistics. But they’re not: They had families, careers, and aspirations.

 

 

In the days between the inauguration of Donald Trump on January 21 and May 4, 73 black people have been shot and killed by the police. Five of them were unarmed, including, most recently, Jordan Edwards.

These are the stories of the other four.

1. February 5, 2017: Nana Adomako, 45, Fremont, California

Police were called to a Verizon Wireless store on the afternoon of February 5th to respond to reports of disruptions and threats on the part of a man later identified as Nana Adomako. Adomako left and shortly afterwards encountered a police officer as he was walking along the street. The officer, who recognized Adomako from a previous non-violent interaction, asked him to stop and sit on the curb. Adomako refused and asked why he was being required to stop. He began making nonsensical comments to the officer. Instead of registering Adomako’s comments as evidence of a mental health issue and thinking of ways to verbally calm him, the officer began to assess how he could physically subdue Adomako. Using his Taser was not an option given Adomako’s bulky clothing, so the officer tried to put Adomako in a control hold. The officer also sicced the police canine on Adomako. Adomako allegedly responded with a punch to the officer’s head after the canine attacked the officer instead of him.

The officer shot Adomako three times from close range. Another officer arrived to help. Rather than immediately calling an ambulance or administering preliminary first aid to Adomako, the two first worked together to handcuff the dying man.

Adomako died at the scene.

The officer involved is on paid administrative leave while the Fremont Police Department and the Alameda County District Attorney’s office investigate the shooting. He’s recovering nicely and no charges have been leveled against him.

According to Adomako’s brother Nana Dwomoh, Adomako was struggling with mental health issues. While Dwomoh asked that light be shed on a still unclear truth, he said his brother “didn’t deserve to die this way.”

2. February 8, 2017: Chad Robertson, 25, Chicago, Illinois

Chad Robertson, a 25-year-old father of two, was traveling home to Minneapolis after attending the wedding of a friend in Memphis. He arrived in Chicago for a layover accompanied by two male friends. The three went inside Union Station for a reprieve from the cold where they were soon accosted by two police officers, who suspected them of smoking marijuana. Noticing that they had left their luggage behind at the station in the confusion of the interaction, one of the men returned to retrieve it. The men were confronted again by the two officers.

 

 

Robertson ran when an officer began checking his pockets. According to Robertson’s lawyer, the officer yelled, “If you don’t stop running, I’m going to shoot you.” And he did. Instead of attempting to pursue Robertson or subdue him with a Taser, the officer fired his gun once, hitting the unarmed Robertson in the left shoulder.

Days later, on February 11, Robertson was in critical condition at Stroger Hospital, paralyzed from his shoulders down to the rest of his body. Nina Robertson, Chad’s sister, said that one of the first things her brother, who had been slipping in and out of consciousness, asked her was, “Why did they shoot me? I didn’t do anything wrong.” After learning of his paralysis, Robertson mourned that the “police ruined my life.”

The police did more than ruin Robertson’s life: They took it. He died on February 15.

Apparently the “insignificant amount” of marijuana on his possession was grounds for murder.

The officer who fired the fatal shot was charged with first-degree murder on February 21. Robertson’s family has filed a federal wrongful death suit.

3. February 13, 2017: Raynard Burton, 19, Detroit, Michigan

In a situation that bears a frustrating resemblance to the murder of Sam DuBose, Raynard Burton was murdered during what should have been a routine police traffic stop. Burton is another victim in a disturbingly long line of traffic stop murders.

After crashing his vehicle into a utility pole, Burton exited his vehicle and ran from the officer. A foot chase ensued, ending at a house nearby. He was shot once in the right side of his chest.

The officer who murdered Burton, who (tellingly) referred to himself on Instagram as “Fatal Force,” remained on the beat despite having a well-documented history of exercising excessive and fatal force. In 1995, the officer was censured for randomly shooting a pigeon with his department-issued weapon. In 1998, the officer fired multiple times at a man who after retrieving money from an ATM made the innocent mistake of attempting to enter the wrong car, that of the officer. The officer somehow evaded punishment for this incident (but not for firing at a bird). Reports of a 2015 incident have recently surfaced in which the officer allegedly fired approximately 15 bullets into the vehicle containing a man who insisted he was unarmed.

That the officer was not fired long before his encounter with Burton speaks to the existence of a bias on the part of police departments toward protecting officers often at the expense of members of the public. For additional evidence, look no further than what happened to Raynard Burton: Burton is dead, while his murderer remains employed by the Detroit Police Department, albeit on restricted duty. An investigation into the murder has been launched.

 

 

4. March 19, 2017: Alteria Woods, 21, Gifford, Florida

Alteria Woods, a soon-to-be mom, was killed in her home by police during a raid initiated by a Florida SWAT team. Officers were attempting to target Woods’ boyfriend and his father, on whom they were serving search warrants. Woods was an innocent bystander. The officers involved should have deescalated the situation until Woods could be removed from the situation altogether or otherwise removed to a position of safety. Apprehending the suspects, at whatever cost, however, was apparently more important. Woods got caught in the crossfire.

Though Woods’ boyfriend fired his weapon, it was ultimately a police bullet that killed her.

Woods’ cousin Kaleasha Johnson remembered Woods as being more like a sister than a cousin, whose easy laugh meant that there was never a “dull moment.” During an interview, Johnson said that Woods was on a path toward success. Woods was on the honor roll at Sebastian River High School, where she was dually enrolled in high school and college classes.

Johnson expressed the difficulty of coming to terms with the loss of her cousin: “I’m numb. She can’t be brought back.” Echoed Woods’ aunt Arlene Cooper, “We don’t know what to do, no closure.”

Dozens of protesters took to the streets outside the scene in hopes of achieving some sort of justice for Alteria, even if it came in the form of better relations between the black community and police.

The Indian River County officers involved are on paid administrative leave while the investigation into Woods’ murder continues.

Paid Leave More Common Than Justice

The outcomes of these stories might offer the impression that paid administrative leave is the dominant form of punishment for fatally shooting the unarmed instead of prosecution. Such an impression would not necessarily be misplaced: the prosecution of law enforcement officers is exceedingly rare. This is in no small part due to the fact that they are empowered by law to exercise a wide degree of latitude in using force. Those who are prosecuted need only utter five words that amount to a “get out of jail” card: “I feared for my life.” Law enforcement officers on trial must demonstrate that they used fatal force in response to an imminent threat that made them reasonably determine that their lives were at stake. As rare as prosecution is, conviction is almost even more infrequent.

Ebony Slaughter-Johnson is a freelance writer, a former research assistant at the Institute for Policy Studies, and a recent graduate of Princeton University, where she majored in history and received a certificate in African American Studies. Her work has appeared in AlterNet, U.S. News and World Report, Equal Voice News, and Common Dreams.

 

 

Source: This Problem Isn’t Going Away: Heartless Police Shootings of Unarmed Black Americans Continue Into the Trump Era | Alternet

 

#BecomeUngovernable  We will never be Free while the Rich Rule Over Us!! The “Rigged System” holds no future for the 99% a Political Revolution does – beungovernable .com 

The real History; Juana Azurduy de Padilla; Bolivian guerrilla fighter who fought against the Spanish rule in South America. International day of women’s rights

5 Mar

 

Juana Azurduy de Padilla was a Bolivian guerilla fighter who fought against the Spanish rule in South America. It was this day in 1816 that she along with 200 Indian women on horseback, defeated the Spanish troops in Bolivia.

Juana Azurduy Llanos (July 12, 1780 or 1781 – May 25, 1862) was a South American guerrilla military leader.

She was born on July 12, 1780 or 1781 in the town of Chuquisaca, Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata (now Sucre, Bolivia). She was Mestizo by ethnicity, meaning she was half Spanish and half indigenous. “Her mother married into a family of property” meaning she married into a more wealthy family. Her father, however, was killed by Spaniards, and the killer apparently got away without any repercussions. She grew up in Chuquisaca and at the age of 12 joined a convent to become a nun. She was then expelled at the age of 17 because she rebelled too often. She married Manuel Ascencio Padilla in 1805, a man who shared her love of the indigenous populations in Bolivia. She spoke Spanish and two South American languages: Quechua and Aymara. Juana Azurduy was born in Toroca, a town located in the Municipality of Potosí in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata (present-day town of Ravelo, Potosí Department, Bolivia) on July 12, 1780. Her parents were Don Matías Azurduy, a rich white owner of many properties and Doña Eulalia Bermudes, a chola from Chuquisaca.

Upon their return they raised an army and joined in the fighting in the area. She fought a guerrilla style war against the Spanish from 1809 to 1825. On March 8, 1816, her forces temporarily captured the Cerro Rico of Potosí, the main source of Spanish silver, also leading a cavalry charge that resulted in the capture of the enemy standard. For these actions she was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on August 16, 1816, by Juan Martín de Pueyrredón, the Supreme Director of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata at Buenos Aires. However, Shortly after Juana, who was expecting her fifth child, during a battle in November 1816, she was injured and her husband was killed while trying to save her, The body of her husband was hanged by the realists in the village of Laguna, and Juana found herself in a desperate situation: single, pregnant and with realistic armies effectively controlling the territory. After giving birth to a girl, she joined the guerrillas Martin Miguel de Guemes , which operated in northern Alto Peru. On the death of this leader guerrillas north dissolved, and Juana she was forced to malvivir in the region of Salta. at which she led a counterattack to recover the body of her husband. When the Spanish eventually counter-attacked in 1818, she fled with some of her soldiers to Northern Argentina where she continued to fight under the command of the Argentinean governor/guerrilla leader, General Martín Miguel de Güemes. She was appointed to the position of commander of patriotic Northern Army of the Revolutionary Government of the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata. With this army she was able to establish an insurrection zone, until the Spanish forces withdrew from the area. She was so determined to the cause that she actually fought while she was pregnant, at one point, giving birth to her daughter, then returned to the fight soon after. At the highest point of her control, she commanded an army with an estimated strength of 6,000 men. After her military career was over she returned to Sucre (Chuquisaca), where she died on May 25, 1862. Throughout all the conflicts she lost her four sons and her husband, yet she continued to perform her duties until she retired and later died.

 

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At the time of her death, she was forgotten and in poverty, but was remembered as a hero only a century later. She was awarded the rank of general of the Argentine Army in 2009. She also has “The National Programme for Women’s Rights and Participation” of Argentina is also named after her.

A 25-ton, 52-foot-high statue of Azurduy was created in Buenos Aires and unveiled July 15, 2015. It was commissioned by Bolivian president Evo Morales, and placed in the space where a statue of Columbus has stood. As of December 2015, months after its inauguration, it shows weathering damage.

A bas relief sculpture of Juana Azurduy was on display as part of an outdoor exhibition of famous Latin Americans on the grounds of the Pan American Union Building in Washington, DC in Spring 2014. Juana Azurduy is also the subject of a children’s cartoon designed to promote knowledge of Argentine history.

 

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It’s not just racial tension; It’s White Supremacist Capitalist Imperialist Patriarchy! #BecomeUngovernable.

Trump and the Flawed Nature of US Democracy: An Interview With Noam Chomsky

6 Jan

 

Truthout sparks action by revealing systemic injustice and providing a platform for transformative ideas through investigative reporting and analysis.

Trump’s presidential victory exposed to the whole world the flawed nature of the US model of democracy. Beginning January 20, both the country and the world will have to face a political leader with copious conflicts of interest who considers his unpredictable and destructive style to be a leadership asset. In this exclusive interview for Truthout, world-renowned public intellectual Noam Chomsky sheds light on the type of democratic model the US has designed and elaborates on the political import of Trump’s victory for the two major parties, as this new political era begins.

C.J. Polychroniou: Noam, I want to start by asking you to reflect on the following: Trump won the presidential election even though he lost the popular vote. In this context, if “one person, one vote” is a fundamental principle behind every legitimate model of democracy, what type of democracy prevails in the US, and what will it take to undo the anachronism of the Electoral College?

 

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Source: Truthout | Fearless, Independent News and Opinion

 

Noam Chomsky: The Electoral College was originally supposed to be a deliberative body drawn from educated and privileged elites. It would not necessarily respond to public opinion, which was not highly regarded by the founders, to put it mildly. “The mass of people … seldom judge or determine right,” as Alexander Hamilton put it during the framing of the Constitution, expressing a common elite view. Furthermore, the infamous 3/5th clause ensured the slave states an extra boost, a very significant issue considering their prominent role in the political and economic institutions. As the party system took shape in the 19th century, the Electoral College became a mirror of the state votes, which can give a result quite different from the popular vote because of the first-past-the-post rule — as it did once again in this election. Eliminating the Electoral College would be a good idea, but it’s virtually impossible as the political system is now constituted. It is only one of many factors that contribute to the regressive character of the [US] political system, which, as Seth Ackerman observes in an interesting article in Jacobin magazine, would not pass muster by European standards.

Ackerman focuses on one severe flaw in the US system: the dominance of organizations that are not genuine political parties with public participation but rather elite-run candidate-selection institutions often described, not unrealistically, as the two factions of the single business party that dominates the political system. They have protected themselves from competition by many devices that bar genuine political parties that grow out of free association of participants, as would be the case in a properly functioning democracy. Beyond that there is the overwhelming role of concentrated private and corporate wealth, not just in the presidential campaigns, as has been well documented, particularly by Thomas Ferguson, but also in Congress.

A recent study by Ferguson, Paul Jorgensen and Jie Chen on “How Money Drives US Congressional Elections,” reveals a remarkably close correlation between campaign expenditures and electoral outcomes in Congress over decades. And extensive work in academic political science — particularly by Martin Gilens, Benjamin Page and Larry Bartlett — reveals that most of the population is effectively unrepresented, in that their attitudes and opinions have little or no effect on decisions of the people they vote for, which are pretty much determined by the very top of the income-wealth scale. In the light of such factors as these, the defects of the Electoral College, while real, are of lesser significance.

 

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To what extent is this presidential election a defining moment for Republicans and Democrats alike?

For the eight years of the Obama presidency, the Republican organization has hardly qualified as a political party. A more accurate description was given by the respected political analysts Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute: the party became an “insurgent outlier — ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

Its guiding principle was: Whatever Obama tries to do, we have to block it, but without providing some sensible alternative. The goal was to make the country ungovernable, so that the insurgency could take power. Its infantile antics on the Affordable Care Act are a good illustration: endless votes to repeal it in favor of — nothing. Meanwhile the party has become split between the wealthy and privileged “establishment,” devoted to the interests of their class, and the popular base that was mobilized when the establishment commitments to wealth and privilege became so extreme that it would be impossible to garner votes by presenting them accurately. It was therefore necessary to mobilize sectors that had always existed, but not as an organized political force: a strange amalgam of Christian evangelicals — a huge sector of the American population — nativists, white supremacists, white working and lower middle class victims of the neoliberal policies of the past generation, and others who are fearful and angry, cast aside in the neoliberal economy while they perceive their traditional culture as being under attack. In past primaries, the candidates who rose from the base — Bachmann, Cain, Santorum and the rest — were so extreme that they were anathema to the establishment, who were able to use their ample resources to rid themselves of the plague and choose their favored candidate. The difference in 2016 is that they were unable to do it.

Now the Republican Party faces the task of formulating policies other than “No.” It must find a way to craft policies that will somehow pacify or marginalize the popular base while serving the real constituency of the establishment. It is from this sector that Trump is picking his close associates and cabinet members: not exactly coal miners, iron and steel workers, small business owners, or representatives of the concerns and demands of much of his voting base.

Democrats have to face the fact that for 40 years they have pretty much abandoned whatever commitment they had to working people. It’s quite shocking that Democrats have drifted so far from their modern New Deal origins that some workers are now voting for their class enemy, not for the party of FDR. A return to some form of social democracy should not be impossible, as indicated by the remarkable success of the Sanders campaign, which departed radically from the norm of elections effectively bought by wealth and corporate power. It is important to bear in mind that his “political revolution,” while quite appropriate for the times, would not have much surprised Dwight Eisenhower, another indication of the shift to the right during the neoliberal years.

 

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If the Democratic Party is going to be a constructive force, it will have to develop and commit itself credibly to programs that address the valid concerns of the kind of people who voted for Obama, attracted by his message of “hope and change,” and when disillusioned by the disappearance of hope and the lack of change switched to the con man who declared that he will bring back what they have lost. It will be necessary to face honestly the malaise of much of the country, including people like those in the Louisiana Bayou whom Arlie Hochschild studied with such sensitivity and insight, and surely including the former working class constituency of the Democrats. The malaise is revealed in many ways, not least by the astonishing fact that mortality has increased in the country, something unknown in modern industrial democracies apart from catastrophic events. That’s particularly true among middle-aged whites, mainly traceable to what are sometimes called “diseases of despair” (opioids, alcohol, suicide, etc.). A statistical analysis reported by the Economist found that these health metrics correlate with a remarkable 43 percent of the Republican Party’s gains over the Democrats in the 2016 election, and remain significant and predictive even when controlling for race, education, age, gender, income, marital status, immigration and employment. These are all signs of severe collapse of much of the society, particularly in rural and working class areas. Furthermore, such initiatives have to be undertaken alongside of firm dedication to the rights and needs of those sectors of the population that have historically been denied rights and repressed, often in harsh and brutal ways.

No small task, but not beyond reach, if not by the Democrats, then by some political party replacing them, drawing from popular movements — and through the constant activism of these movements, quite apart from electoral politics.

Much of the rest of the world — with the notable exception of some of Europe’s extreme nationalist and anti-immigrant political leaders — also seems to be rather anxious about Trump’s aims and intents. Isn’t that so?

Trump’s victory was met in Europe with shock and disbelief. The general reaction was captured quite accurately, for instance, on the front cover of Der Spiegel [a major German weekly]. It depicted a caricature of Trump presented as a meteor hurtling toward Earth, mouth open, ready to swallow it up. And the lead headline read “Das Ende Der Welt!” (“The End of the World”). And in small letters below, “as we have known it.” To be sure, there might be some truth to that concern, even if not exactly in the manner in which the artist and the authors who echoed that conception had in mind.

 

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Don’t Mourn – Organize ….Vote In The Streets! The rigged 2 party system holds no future for the 99% a political revolution does.

 

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

C.J. Polychroniou is a political economist/political scientist who has taught and worked in universities and research centers in Europe and the United States. His main research interests are in European economic integration, globalization, the political economy of the United States and the deconstruction of neoliberalism’s politico-economic project. He is a regular contributor to Truthout as well as a member of Truthout’s Public Intellectual Project. He has published several books and his articles have appeared in a variety of journals, magazines, newspapers and popular news websites. Many of his publications have been translated into several foreign languages, including Croatian, French, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish.

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