Harold Ford’s gay marriage reversal is a bad omen

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Writing of Harold Ford in the past, I have made snarky references to the fundamentalist end times theology in the book of Revelations about the Antichrist and the Omen trilogy of horror films. I make no apology because the evil that the corporate whore from Tennessee represents cannot be understated by my use of a provocative rhetorical device.

That said, I think if somebody were to check underneath Harold’s fade, I sincerely believe you’d find a 666 birthmark in the back of his head. The way Harold has effortlessly revived his political career in the most cutthroat place imaginable and become a contender for New York Senate seat is, to be frank, fu*#ing scary. He pushed up and outmaneuvered the top dog in New York politics, Chuck Schumer, like a seasoned ward heeler.

The last several months of maneuvering reads like the script from the Omen. To review, the son of Satan is “born” to an influential political family and the minions of the devil eliminate all obstacles and kill off all people that seek to thwart his rise to the presidency and his eventual dominion over the earth.

Yesterday’s nakedly political and deeply disingenuous reversal on Same Sex Marriage is just further evidence that Harold Ford Jr is a congenital liar that will say or do anything to beat Kirsten Gillibrand’s political career to death.

In October of 2006, right in the middle of his fevered Tennessee Senate Race, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled unanimously that gay unions had to be recognized under the state’s constitution. A majority of the court left it up to the legislature to design what shape the recognition would take. After the decision was announced, Harold Ford Jr released the following statement:

I do not support the decision today reached by the New Jersey Supreme Court regarding gay marriage. I oppose gay marriage, and have voted twice in Congress to amend the United States Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. This November there’s a referendum on the Tennessee ballot to ban same-sex marriage – I am voting for it.

Harold’s position, as wrong as two left shoes, was unequivocal. Gillibrand’s people have done some good work in poisoning the well against Harold because of his positions on choice and same sex marriage. He finally responded. On the Today Show the demonic spawn said, “My support for fairness and equality existed long before I moved to New York.”

Bull*hit

He continued spinning the lie after being asked if this was a major change. He said, “Maybe in the language.” “…But I’m a believer that benefits should flow to same sex partners and if indeed the fiction of the language, the title, should be changed, much like Chuck Schumer who changed his mind on it and Bill Clinton’s evolved, I’m of the opinion now that nothing is wrong with that.”

The following clip must be seen to be believed. It puts to bed any notion of Harold’s veracity.

The Whore must defeat NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand because she stands in the way of Harold’s nefarious designs on the seat of ultimate power. Moreover, he is running to put himself into a position to one day become President.

Everything seems to be falling into place in the complicated chess game that is New York identity politics.

Last week, according to the New York Times, Al Sharpton and Ford, “chatted warmly for about 10 minutes. Mr. Sharpton did not seek to discourage Mr. Ford from running, and recommended that he begin to reach out to the state’s black leaders and clergy.”

They end the article by telling us, “Mr. Ford will be the keynote speaker next month at the conference of the state’s Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators.” And that the organization’s leader believes Harold will encounter a “receptive” audience as he debuts before the state’s Black and Latino establishment.

Taken together, these developments are a bad omen indeed.

Isaac Hayes’ Homegoing service

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Hat Tip:  By Jody Callahan, Memphis Commercial Appeal

A collection of musicians, politicians, celebrities and activists said goodbye to Isaac Hayes in a three-hour tribute at Hope Presbyterian Church today.

Hayes died Aug. 10 after suffering a stroke. He would have turned 66 Wednesday.

Stax veteran William Bell, serving as host, introduced Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who began the stream of speeches and anecdotes.

Next came noted saxophonist Kirk Whalum, performing Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven,” accompanied by a guitarist.

Although most of those speaking references Hayes’ musical and humanitarian efforts, several made pointed references to Hayes’ beliefs as a Scientologist. Many of the celebrities at Hope were Scientologists.

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) made the first reference to Scientology, adding that Tom Cruise, also a member of that organization, was in Memphis at a private memorial Sunday to pay his respects.

Memphis filmmaker Craig Brewer spoke about Hayes’ movie career, referencing “Escape from New York” and “Truck Turner,” and talked about the impact Hayes had on Memphis music.

“I have a 7-year-old and a 6-month-old daughter, and rest assured, they’ll be raised on ‘Hot Buttered Soul’,” Brewer said.

A montage of clips from Hayes’ movie and television career ended with a poignant clip featuring Hayes and Bernie Mac in a promotion for Mac’s Fox sitcom. Mac died at age 50 one day before Hayes. They star together, along with Samuel L. Jackson, in the upcoming movie, “Soul Men.”

Actress Anne Archer (“Fatal Attraction,” “Patriot Games”) read a quote from Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. She’s a member of the group.

The back of the program handed to visitors as they entered has a quote from Hubbard: “A culture is only as great as it’s dreams, and it’s dreams are dreamed by artists.”

Another Scientologist, actress Kelly Preston (co-star of “Jerry Maguire” and wife of John Travolta), reminisced about Hayes and a Scientology-backed educational program he helped introduce into some schools.

Stax veteran Al Bell remembered his contribution to the title of Hayes’ landmark record. In Jamaica, a bottle of “hot buttered rum” caught his eye and he knew the term was perfect for Hayes’ sound. “I’m going to moss him terribly. I already do,” Bell said.

Jazz musician Chick Corea (piano) and noted film composer Mark Isham (trumpet) played a piece they dedicated to Hayes. Then Hayes’ daughter, Veronica, told the crowd, “We will persevere and keep my father’s legacy going.”

David Porter, Hayes’ songwriting partner for more than 40 years, recognized all the Stax veterans in the audience, as well as the star of the movie “Shaft,” Richard Roundtree. He also pointed out Public Enemy founder Chuck D and renowned bassist Bootsy Collins.

Officers in Sean Bell case acquitted

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Hat Tip: By Michael Wilson, NY Times

Three detectives were found not guilty Friday on all charges in the shooting death of Sean Bell, who died in a hail of 50 police bullets outside a club in Jamaica, Queens, in November 2006. The verdict prompted calls for calm from the mayor, angry promises of protests by those speaking for the Bell family and expressions of relief by the detectives.

Detective Michael Oliver, who fired 31 bullets the night of the shooting and faced manslaughter charges, said Justice Arthur J. Cooperman had made a “fair and just decision.”

Justice Cooperman delivered the verdict in State Supreme Court at 9 a.m. Giving his reasoning, he said many of the prosecution’s witnesses, including Mr. Bell’s friends and the two wounded victims, were simply not believable. “At times, the testimony of those witnesses just didn’t make sense,” the judge said.

Several supporters of Mr. Bell stormed out of the courtroom, and a few small scuffles followed outside the courthouse. By midafternoon, there were no suggestions of any broader unrest around the city. Mr. Bell’s family and fiancée left without making any comments and drove to visit his grave at the Nassau Knolls Cemetery and Memorial Park in Port Washington.

The verdict comes 17 months to the day since the Nov. 25, 2006, shooting of Mr. Bell, 23, and his friends, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, outside the Club Kalua in Jamaica, Queens, hours before Mr. Bell was to be married.

It was delivered in a packed courtroom. Mr. Bell’s family sat silently as Justice Cooperman spoke from the bench. Behind them, a woman was heard to ask, “Did he just say, ‘Not guilty?’ ” Detective Oliver and the two other defendants, Detectives Gescard F. Isnora and Marc Cooper, were escorted out a side doorway as court adjourned.

The acquittals do not necessarily mean the officers’ legal battles are over. Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said the three men could still face disciplinary action from the Police Department, but that he had been asked to wait on any internal measures until the United States attorney’s office determines whether or not it would pursue federal charges against them.

The seven-week trial, which ended on April 14, was heard by Justice Cooperman after the defendants waived their right to a jury, a strategy some lawyers called risky at the time. But it clearly paid off.

Before rendering his verdict, Justice Cooperman ran through a narrative of the chilly November evening when Mr. Bell died, and concluded “the police response with respect to each defendant was not found to be criminal.”

“The people have not proved beyond a reasonable doubt” that each defendant was not justified in shooting, the judge said, quickly adding that the men were not guilty of all of the eight counts, five felonies and three misdemeanors against them.

Roughly 30 court officers stood by, around the courtroom and in the aisles. At one point as he read, Justice Cooperman paused to insist that a crying baby be taken from the courtroom. Immediately a young woman who appeared to be among the Bell contingent got up and left with a baby.

The Rev. Al Sharpton accompanied Bell family members to the cemetery, and said later that they will join him on Saturday at a rally protesting the verdict. He said he had spoken to the governor and the mayor, and that he believed a federal civil rights prosecution of the officers would be appropriate.

“This verdict is one round down, but the fight is far from over,” Mr. Sharpton said.

He promised protests “to demonstrate to the federal government that New Yorkers will not take this abortion of justice lying down.” He even raised the possibility of taking protests directly to Justice Cooperman’s home.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg called for calm. “There are no winners in a trial like this,” he said. “An innocent man lost his life, a bride lost her groom, two daughters lost their father and a mother and a father lost their son.”

The mayor continued: “Judge Cooperman’s responsibility, however, was to decide the case based on the evidence presented in the courtroom. America is a nation of laws, and though not everyone will agree with the verdicts and opinions issued by the courts, we accept their authority.”

He added: “There will be opportunities for peaceful dissent and potentially for further legal recourse — those are the rights we enjoy in a democratic nation. We don’t expect violence or law-breaking, nor is there any place for it.”

A subdued Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown, whose office prosecuted the case, said at a news conference: “Judge Cooperman discharged his responsibilities fairly and consciously under the law. I accept his verdict, and I urge all fair-minded individuals in this city to do the same.”

Commissioner Kelly, speaking in Brooklyn, would not comment on the verdict itself. But he did say that while there were no reports of unrest in response to the acquittals, the Police Department was ready should it occur.

“We have prepared, we have done some drills and some practice with appropriate units and personnel if there is any violence, but again, we don’t anticipate violence,” Mr. Kelly said. “There have been no problems. Obviously there will be some people who are disappointed with the verdict. We understand that.”

Detectives Isnora and Oliver had faced the most charges: first- and second-degree manslaughter, with a possible sentence of 25 years in prison; felony assault, first and second degree; and a misdemeanor, reckless endangerment, with a possible one-year sentence. Detective Oliver also faced a second count of first-degree assault. Detective Cooper was charged only with two counts of reckless endangerment.

All three of the detectives, none of whom took the stand during the trial, spoke at the offices of their union on Friday afternoon. “I’ve just started my life back,” Detective Cooper said.

During the 26 days of testimony, the prosecution sought to show, with an array of 50 witnesses, that the shooting was the act of a frightened group of disorganized police officers who began their shift that night hoping to arrest a prostitute or two and, in suspecting Mr. Bell and his friends of possessing a gun, quickly got in over their heads.

“We ask police to risk their lives to protect ours,” said an assistant district attorney, Charles A. Testagrossa, in his closing arguments. “Not to risk our lives to protect their own.”

The defense, through weeks of often heated cross-examinations, their own witnesses and the words of the detectives themselves, portrayed the shooting as the tragic end to a nonetheless justified confrontation, with Detective Isnora having what it called solid reasons to believe he was the only thing standing between Mr. Bell’s car and a drive-by shooting around the corner.

Several witnesses testified that they heard talk of guns in an argument between Mr. Bell and a stranger, Fabio Coicou, outside Kalua, an argument, the defense claimed, that was fueled by bravado and Mr. Bell’s intoxicated state. Defense lawyers pointed their fingers at Mr. Guzman, who, they said, in shouting for Mr. Bell to drive away when Detective Isnora approached, may have instigated his death.

Al Sharpton’s 2004 Presidential Committee being investigated

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In what could only be charitably called suspicious timing, the FBI announced a federal investigation into Al Sharpton’s 2004 campaign finances.      The Village Voice covered this in depth and shows us how shaky and nefarious all that bidness was and so I won’t do so again here.   However, after this was announced late last week and a Grand Jury impaneled for December 26th, I waited for a plausible explanation from the Department of Injustice about why they seem so damn pressed about this crap now.   This whole series of events is tailor made for skeptical negroes like myself to point the finger and say, “See they messin’ wit him again because he done got on their cases for ignoring the rash of nooses and racial terrorism in this country and the Jena 6.”   I would respectfully submit that if its political corruption that y’all are after, Chicago Mayor Rich Daley, a Barack Obama patron, is a more ripe target for a corruption probe.

Mychal Bell back in jail

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Hat Tip: Black America’s Web, Associated Press

JENA, La. – (AP) A judge ordered a black teenager back to jail, deciding the fight that put him in the national spotlight violated terms of his probation for a previous conviction, his attorney said.

Mychal Bell, who along with five other black teenagers in the so-called Jena Six case is accused of beating a white classmate, had gone to juvenile court in Jena on Thursday expecting another routine hearing, said Carol Powell Lexing, one of his attorneys.

Instead, state District Judge J.P. Mauffrey Jr. sentenced Bell to 18 months in jail on two counts of simple battery and two counts of criminal destruction of property, Lexing said.

“We are definitely going to appeal this,” she said. “We’ll continue to fight.”

Bell had been hit with those charges before the Dec. 4 attack on classmate Justin Barker. Details on the previous charges, which were handled in juvenile court, were unclear.

Mauffrey, reached at his home Thursday night, had no comment.

“He’s locked up again,” Marcus Jones said of his 17-year-old son. “No bail has been set or nothing. He’s a young man who’s been thrown in jail again and again, and he just has to take it.”

After the attack on Barker, Bell was originally charged with attempted murder, but the charges were reduced and he was convicted of battery. An appeals court threw that conviction out, saying Bell should not have been tried as an adult on that charge.

Racial tensions began rising in August 2006 in Jena after a black student sat under a tree known as a gathering spot for white students. Three white students later hung nooses from the tree. They were suspended but not prosecuted.

More than 20,000 demonstrators gathered last month in the small central Louisiana town to protest what they perceive as differences in how black and white suspects are treated. The case has drawn the attention of civil rights activists including the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

Sharpton reacted swiftly upon learning Bell was back in jail Thursday.

“We feel this was a cruel and unusual punishment and is a revenge by this judge for the Jena Six movement,” said Sharpton, who helped organize the protest held Sept. 20, the day Bell was originally supposed to be sentenced.

Bell’s parents were also ordered to pay all court costs and witness costs, Sharpton said.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” Jones said. “I don’t know how we’re going to pay for any of this. I don’t know how we’re going to get through this.”

Bell and the other five defendants have been charged in the attack on Barker, which left him unconscious and bleeding with facial injuries. According to court testimony, he was repeatedly kicked by a group of students at the high school.

Bell, Robert Bailey Jr., Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis and Theo Shaw were all initially charged — as adults — with attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit the same. A sixth defendant was charged in the case as a juvenile.

Bell, who was 16 at the time, was convicted in June of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit that crime. LaSalle Parish prosecutor Reed Walters reduced the charges just before the trial. Since then, both of those convictions were dismissed and tossed back to juvenile court, where they now are being tried.

Charges against Bailey, 18, Jones, 19, and Shaw, 18, have been reduced to aggravated second-degree battery. Purvis, 18, has not yet been arraigned.

Mychal Bell’s bail set at $45,000

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Hat Tip: (CNN) — Bail was being posted Thursday for Mychal Bell, a black teenager accused of beating a white classmate, after a district attorney’s announcement that he would not appeal a higher court’s decision moving Bell’s case to juvenile court, according to the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Mychal Bell, 17, is accused with five others of beating Justin Barker in a school fight.

Bell’s bail was set at $45,000, Sharpton said. The paperwork was being worked out, he said, and the bail bondsman was at the courthouse.

Earlier Thursday, Bell was moved from jail to a juvenile facility, according to his attorney, Lewis Scott.

LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters said his decision not to appeal was based on what he believed is best for the victim in the case.

“While I believe that a review would have merit … I believe it is in the best interest of the victim and his family not to delay this matter any further and move it to its conclusion,” Walters told reporters. Video Watch the district attorney say he won’t challenge the ruling. »

He said a march by 15,000 people last week in the small town of 3,000 residents led by civil rights leaders Sharpton and Martin Luther King III did not influence his decision.

Demonstrators were protesting how authorities handled the cases of Bell and five other teens accused of beating fellow student Justin Barker.

Many said they are angry that the students, dubbed the “Jena 6,” are being treated more harshly than three white students who hung nooses from an oak tree on high school property.

The white students were suspended from school but did not face criminal charges. The protesters say they should have been charged with a hate crime.

Bell, now 17, was the only one of the Jena 6 behind bars. His bond previously was set at $90,000.

A district judge earlier this month tossed out Bell’s conviction for conspiracy to commit second-degree battery, saying the matter should have been handled in juvenile court. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal in Lake Charles, Louisiana, did the same with Bell’s battery conviction in mid-September.

Prosecutors originally charged all six black students accused of being involved in beating Barker with second-degree attempted murder and conspiracy. Walters reduced charges against at least four of them — Bell, Robert Bailey Jr., Carwin Jones and Theo Shaw — to battery and conspiracy.

Bryant Purvis awaits arraignment. Charges against Jesse Ray Beard, who was 14 at the time of the alleged crime, are unavailable because he’s a juvenile.

Wednesday, Gov. Kathleen Blanco announced that Louisiana State Police officers will protect the families of the Jena 6 and investigate any threats they have received. A white supremacist Web site posted the names and addresses of the six black teens after last week’s march, calling on followers to “let them know justice is coming.”

Thursday, the FBI said it has been made aware of allegations of threats.

“Threats are taken seriously, and as these investigations are ongoing we cannot comment further,” said Sheila Thorne of the FBI’s New Orleans, Louisiana, office.

The December 4 attack on Barker came after months of racial tension, including at least two instances of fighting in the town, sparked originally when three white teens hung nooses from an oak tree on the town’s high school grounds.

Walters has said there was no direct link between the hanging of the nooses and the schoolyard attack, and defended the prosecutions ahead of last Thursday’s peaceful march. Blanco defended the prosecutor Wednesday, saying, “He has a solid record and is highly respected among his peers.”

Walters also addressed the stress and notoriety the town has been subjected to, saying the only way he and other residents “have been able to endure the trauma that has been thrust upon us is through the prayers of the Christian people who have sent them up in this community.”

He also suggested that some kind of “disaster” was averted when thousands of marchers came to Jena last week.

“I firmly believe and am confident of the fact that had it not been for the direct intervention of the Lord Jesus Christ last Thursday, a disaster would have happened,” Walters said.

“The Lord Jesus Christ put his influence on those people and they responded accordingly,” he said, without explaining exactly what he meant.

Soon after the district attorney spoke, a local reverend took issue with his comments.

Obviously, we are serving two different gods here,” the Rev. Donald Sidley said. “My Bible says that we should do — we should be loving, love your neighbor as yourself.

“For him to try and separate the community like he is and then using Christ Jesus to influence the people that Jesus is working on their side, well, that’s — that’s absurd. … God is god of the human race,” said Sidley, of the New Evergreen Church.

Jena 6 DA yields to pressure from Governor

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 Hat Tip: Doug Simpson, Associated Press

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Wednesday that the prosecutor in one of the so-called “Jena 6″ cases has decided not to challenge an appellate ruling that sends the case to juvenile court.

LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters had earlier said he would appeal the state appeals court’s decision that 17-year-old Mychal Bell’s second-degree battery conviction be set aside. The court ruled that Bell could not be tried as an adult.

Blanco said she had spoken with Walters and asked him to reconsider pushing to keep the case in the adult courts system. She said Walters contacted her Wednesday to say he had decided not to appeal the ruling.

“I want to thank him for this decision he has made,” Blanco said.

Bell, who remains behind bars, was one of six Jena High School teens arrested after a December attack on a white student, Justin Barker. Five of the six teens initially were charged with attempted second-degree murder, though charges for four of them, including Bell, were later reduced. One teen hasn’t been arraigned, and the case of the sixth, handled as a juvenile, is sealed.

Blanco made her announcement at a news conference with activists Martin Luther King III and the Rev. Al Sharpton. Sharpton said he hopes a bond will be set low enough to allow for Bell’s release, and he thanked Blanco for getting involved in the matter.

“I want to congratulate her for showing leadership,” Sharpton said. “And I want to congratulate the district attorney for good judgment.”

Blanco said Walters gave her permission to announce his decision, and that he planned to discuss his decision publicly on Thursday. A phone call placed at Walters’ home went unanswered Wednesday.

The case brought more than 20,000 protesters to the central Louisiana town of Jena last week in a marched that harkened back to the demonstrations of the 1950s and ’60s.

Critics accuse local officials of prosecuting blacks more harshly than whites. They note that no charges were filed against three white teens suspended from the high school for allegedly hanging nooses in a tree on campus — an incident that was followed by fights between blacks and whites, including the attack on Barker.

Walters has condemned the noose incident — calling it “abhorrent and stupid” in a New York Times op-ed piece Thursday — but said the act broke no Louisiana law.

In the article, Walters defended the aggravated second-degree battery counts most of those charged in the attack on Barker now face. He said Barker was “blindsided,” knocked unconscious and kicked by at least six people, and would have faced “severe injury or death” had another student not intervened.

To the Jena 6: Just hold on, change is coming

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Norman Hutchin’s song, “A move of God,” has been in my head all day.

To Mychal Bell,  Robert Bailey, Jr, Theo Shaw, Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis, and the other unnamed young brotha, just hold on, change is coming.

“I feel a breakthrough coming your way, it’s a mighty move of God, it’s gonna change your day. With signs and wonders, miracles to perform, God is gonna bless you for just holding on.”

“Just hold on, a change is coming, feel it in the air, it’s in the atmosphere. Just hold on, a change is coming, a move of God is on the way.”

“You’ve been expecting a change in your life, looking for your midnight to turn to sunshine. It’s gonna happen, you wait and see, all things are possible to them that believe.”

“Just hold on, a change is coming, feel it in the air, it’s in the atmosphere. Just hold on, a change is coming…A move of God is on the way.”

Thousands of chanting demonstrators filled the streets of this little Louisiana town Thursday. It's not about black and white. It's about right and wrong. I would like to see these young men set free,

We should have progressed past this kind of unequal treatment based on race; however, we clearly are not. The outpouring of community support in the black community and the dearth of support from others is quite telling.   Katrina became an enduring symbol of neglect and racial indifference and Jena, Louisiana has provided the nation with another.  

There is nothing particularly unique about the disproportionate felony charges meted out to these six teenage boys, this happens everyday to black children somewhere in America, as Al Sharpton has pointed out.  What is unique is the black reaction the racially discriminatory actions of the LaSalle Parish School Board and LaSalle Parish District Attorney provoked.    

Today’s rally was amazing in its genesis and scale, as the song above says, “It’s a mighty move of God, it’s gonna change your day.” I feel confident in predicting that the charges against all six young men will be dropped.  

Praise God for Michael Baisden, Tom Joyner, Howard Witt, Amy Goodman, Roland Martin, Rev.Al, Rev. Jackson, Color of Change, the black blogosphere, and for the many black college students and other concerned persons who raised the alarm to inform the community when it was needed.  

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, on hand for the day’s events, told CNN’s Kyra Phillips that the House Judiciary Committee is preparing to subpoena the LaSalle Parish District Attorney to Washington to explain his conduct and the President himself said that the Justice Department is monitoring this case.  Despite protestations to the contrary, there is a valid reason why Tina Jones, mother of Purvis Bryant, believes that the D.A. is “so adamant about destroying these kids lives.”  I would love to hear his explanation of how a tennis shoe becomes a deadly weapon.   

The idea of a 21st century civil rights movement which focuses on the disproportionate punishment of people of color in the criminal justice system warms my heart.  That’s something that this skeptical brotha can get with enthusiastically.  Much remains to be done and it is not simply a local issue.   I hope that that Congresswoman Waters and Congressman Conyers grasp that a comprehensive solution which addresses the lack of resources for indigent defense is at the root of the harsh and disproportionate treatment that our children and adults face nationwide. 

 

Charges against Mychal Bell overturned in Jena 6 case

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Hat Tip: Janet McConnaughey, Associated Press, USA Today 

NEW ORLEANS — A state appeals court on Friday threw out the only remaining conviction against one of the black teenagers accused in the beating of a white schoolmate in the racially tense north Louisiana town of Jena.

Mychal Bell, 17, should not have been tried as an adult, the state 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal said in tossing his conviction on aggravated battery, for which he was to have been sentenced Thursday. He could have gotten 15 years in prison.

His conspiracy conviction in the December beating of student Justin Barker was already thrown out by another court.

Bell, who was 16 at the time of the beating, and four others were originally charged with attempted second-degree murder. Those charges brought widespread criticism that blacks were being treated more harshly than whites after racial confrontations and fights at Jena High School.

Bell’s attorney Louis Scott said he didn’t know whether his client, whose bond was set at $90,000, would get out of jail immediately.

“We don’t know what approach the prosecution is going to take — whether they will re-charge him, where he would have to be subjected to bail all over again or not,” Scott said.

Civil rights leaders, including the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, had been planning a rally in support of the teens for the day Bell was to have been sentenced.

“Although there will not be a court hearing, we still intend to have a major rally for the Jena Six and now hopefully Mychal Bell will join us,” Sharpton said in an e-mailed statement.

Said Jackson: “The pressure must continue until all six boys are set free and sent to school, not to jail.”

Jena, La., is a mostly white town where racial animosity flared about a year ago when a black student sat under a tree that was a traditional gathering place for whites. A day later, three nooses were found hanging from the tree. There followed reports of racial fights at the school, culminating in the December attack on Barker.

The reversal of Bell’s conviction will not affect four other teenagers also charged as adults, because they were 17 years old at the time of the fight and no longer considered juveniles, said attorney George Tucker of Hammond.

Prosecutors have the option of appealing to the state Supreme Court. District Attorney Reed Walters did not return a call Friday.

Judge J.P. Mauffray had thrown out Bell’s conspiracy conviction, saying it was not a charge on which a juvenile may be tried as an adult. But he had let the battery conviction stand, saying Bell could be tried in adult court because the charge was among lesser charges included in the original attempted murder charge.

Teenagers can be tried as adults in Louisiana for some violent crimes, including attempted murder, but aggravated battery is not one of those crimes, the court said.

Defense lawyers had argued that the aggravated battery case should not have been tried in adult court once the attempted murder charge was reduced.

The case “remains exclusively in juvenile court,” the Third Circuit ruled.

Hangman’s Noose found hanging at Univ of Maryland Black Cultural Center

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Hat Tip: David Schoetz, ABC News

A noose was left hanging from a tree limb near a black cultural studies center on an American college campus.

That’s the scenario that University of Maryland police, with help from the FBI, are investigating as a possible hate crime that may be tied to a similar racial controversy playing out in Louisiana.

Students and faculty at the university’s Nyumburu Cultural Center reported the noose to police Friday afternoon, Paul Dillon, a spokesman for the University of Maryland Police Department, told ABC News. The building has been a meeting point for the university’s black students and faculty for 27 years. Nyumburu is the Swahili word for “freedom house.”

The noose already had been removed by the maintenance staff when police first took the report, but not before an unidentified student took a picture of the scene and e-mailed the image to police. It shows a roughly 3-foot white rope hanging 10 to 12 feet off the ground and ending with a small noose.

Police issued a campuswide e-mail Friday night regarding the discovery and marking the beginning of the formal investigation.

“We will treat this like any other serious crime on campus,” Dillon said, “interviewing witnesses and developing a timeline.”

It remains unclear when the noose was originally hung from the tree and who may be behind the apparent hate message. Dillon said creating a timeline will be key and might allow investigators to pinpoint surveillance video of the area showing the perpetrator or perpetrators.

There is recent precedent for racially motivated disputes on the Maryland campus. In 1999, police investigated a series of disparaging letters sent to some of the university’s black leaders. No charges were filed, Dillon said, but police did “get to the bottom” of the harassing letters.

Connection With the ‘Jena Six’?

Dillon also would not rule out a connection between the noose found on the College Park, Md., campus and the ongoing, high-profile racial controversy in Jena, La. Racial tensions remain high in the Louisiana town as sentencing awaits five of six black teenaged students from Jena High School on charges tied to the beating of a white student in December. A sixth student was charged as a minor.

While no motive for the attack was identified, it took place after three nooses were hung from a tree at the high school. The nooses followed a black student’s decision to sit down in a place where white students typically gathered. The students accused of placing the nooses in that instance were suspended from school.

On Sunday, The Rev. Al Sharpton called for an investigation into the district attorney prosecuting the “Jena Six” in the alleged attack on the white classmate. Sharpton also said he would be in Jena on Sept. 20 for the sentencing of one of the teens.

“We don’t have anything specifically linking this to the ‘Jena Six,’ but we’re not ruling it out,” Dillon said.

C.D. Mote Jr., the University of Maryland president, acknowledged the investigation in an open letter to the campus posted on the school’s Web site.

“The possibility that this act appears intended to bring to mind the horrific crime of lynching, which is such a terrible and tragic part of our nation’s past, is particularly abhorrent,” Mote wrote in the letter.

Mote promised resources to the investigation and swift justice for anyone linked to the incident.

“Any person or persons found guilty of this act will be subject to the university’s full judicial process and any possible criminal actions.”

Al Sharpton on the Imus comeback

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Hat tip: Huffington Post, Radar Online/Photo by Getty Images 

Don Imus is back—and Rev. Al Sharpton is surprisingly okay with that.

Imus buddy Bo Dietl dropped heavy hints on a radio show over the weekend that the aging shock jock will be back at WFAN no later than September. That would mean a mere five months of wandering in the wilderness for the I-Man, who was fired in April by CBS Radio and MSNBC after calling female college basketball players “nappy-headed hos.”

Sharpton, of course, played no small part in Imus’s downfall, even inviting the man onto his radio show to apologize to viewers only to declare his apology inadequate. Yet the Rev. tells Radar he would not oppose Imus’s return this fall.

“My position is that we never called for him to be permanently barred from being on the air,” he says. “We’ll see when he comes back, and if he comes back, what are the boundaries and what is the understanding. We’ll be monitoring the situation, but we wanted him to pay for being a repeat abuser, and he paid. We never said we didn’t want him to make a living.”

As for the claim that Imus is seeking a black comedian to “take the sting out” of his racial humor, Sharpton says, “A sidekick is not cover. What he needs to give him cover is his own conscience and whether he’ll live up to the apology he gave those Rutgers girls.”

okay with that.Imus buddy Bo Dietl dropped heavy hints on a radio show over the weekend that the aging shock jock will be back at WFAN no later than September. That would mean a mere five months of wandering in the wilderness for the I-Man, who was fired in April by CBS Radio and MSNBC after calling female college basketball players “nappy-headed hos.”

Sharpton, of course, played no small part in Imus’s downfall, even inviting the man onto his radio show to apologize to viewers only to declare his apology inadequate. Yet the Rev. tells Radar he would not oppose Imus’s return this fall.

“My position is that we never called for him to be permanently barred from being on the air,” he says. “We’ll see when he comes back, and if he comes back, what are the boundaries and what is the understanding. We’ll be monitoring the situation, but we wanted him to pay for being a repeat abuser, and he paid. We never said we didn’t want him to make a living.”

As for the claim that Imus is seeking a black comedian to “take the sting out” of his racial humor, Sharpton says, “A sidekick is not cover. What he needs to give him cover is his own conscience and whether he’ll live up to the apology he gave those Rutgers girls.”

Sharpton vs. Romney

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Rev. Al Sharpton Rally @ For Darfur 30 Apr 2006189Gov. Mitt Romney (MA) - Friday Morning

 HAT TIP: Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 10, 2007
; A08

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and civil rights activist Al Sharpton traded angry, racially charged accusations yesterday, with Romney alleging that Sharpton had uttered “bigoted” comments about Mormonism.

On the campaign trail in Iowa, Romney was asked about Sharpton’s comment during a debate Monday that “those of us who believe in God” will defeat Romney. The former Massachusetts governor told reporters that such a comment “shows that bigotry still exists in some corners.”

Sharpton angrily denied Romney’s charge in a telephone interview yesterday, and he accused Romney of stoking a verbal war with him to gain support among conservatives.

Sharpton said his comments have been taken out of their original context — a debate about religion with journalist Christopher Hitchens, who Sharpton said had suggested that Mormonism once advocated segregation.

“Attacking me, not Hitchens, shows [Romney] is playing politics,” Sharpton said. “What is bigoted about asking . . . about a denomination based on racism?”

Sharpton called on Romney to address whether the Mormon Church ever supported segregation. “He needs to clarify the truth or non-truth of what I was presented,” Sharpton said.

Richard N. Ostling, co-author of “Mormon America,” said the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the church is formally known, never officially sanctioned segregation. But until 1978, he said, the church barred any male with “African blood” from being a “priest,” a designation given to males over the age of 12.

“That pertains to not only holding church office but performing very routine functions and has afterlife implications,” Ostling said. “That teaching goes back at least to 1849.”

The back-and-forth highlights Romney’s sensitivity on issues relating to his faith. If elected, he would become the first Mormon president, which he plays down on the campaign trail.

Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said Sharpton owes Romney an apology “for the initial attack.” He added: “We are simply responding to a gratuitous attack from Reverend Sharpton. It’s sad that he would continue to target any fellow American on the issue of faith.”

Romney has praised his church’s decision to “ordain African Americans,” Madden said. “He has spoken very sincerely about how great a day he thought that was. He is somebody who is absolutely against discrimination.”

Tell me your thoughts.

Obama kisses Sharpton’s ring

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Photo 

By BETH FOUHY 

NEW YORK (AP) – Wooing black voters while tackling questions about his experience, Democrat Barack Obama said Saturday that his years as a community organizer and accomplishments in the Illinois state Senate have prepared him well for the presidency.  

Addressing the National Action Network, a civil rights group founded by Rev. Al Sharpton, Obama touted his successes as an Illinois lawmaker in providing health insurance to children and reducing the price of prescription drugs for senior citizens. He also told of passing legislation to monitor racial profiling and to require that police interrogations of suspects in capital cases be videotaped.“I haven’t just talked about these things, I’ve actually done them,” he said, adding that he’d worked well with the Republicans who controlled the state Senate for most of his tenure there.

With just over two years in the U.S. Senate, Obama has faced questions over whether he has sufficient experience to be president.

On the campaign trail, front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton stresses her long career in public life and often warns voters that the next president will need to “hit the ground running.”

Sharpton, who ran for the Democratic nomination in 2004, has also openly questioned Obama’s credentials for the job. Obama, running to be the first black president, acknowledged those concerns. He also assured the largely black audience he did not believe he was automatically entitled to their support.

“I’ve said to Rev. Sharpton and I’ll say it today, if there is somebody – I don’t care whether they are white or black or they are male or female – if there is somebody who has been more on the forefront on behalf of the issues you care about and has more concrete accomplishments on behalf of the things you’re concerned about, I’m happy to see you endorse them. But I am absolutely confident you will not find that,” he said.

With black voters a key part of the Democratic party base, the four-day NAN convention has attracted nearly all the 2008 Democratic contenders, as well as former President Bill Clinton and DNC Chairman Howard Dean. Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd had been expected to speak but scheduling problems forced him to cancel.

A spokeswoman said Sharpton was not expected to endorse a candidate soon.

Hillary Clinton, who spoke Friday, won several standing ovations from the audience.

CBS AXES IMUS

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 IMUS BLOWS (ON) IT

HAT TIP:  AP NEW YORK – CBS fired Don Imus from his radio show Thursday, the finale to a stunning fall for one of the nation’s most prominent broadcasters.

Imus initially was given a two-week suspension, to start Monday, for calling the Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos” on the air last week, but outrage continued to grow and advertisers bolted from his programs.

“There has been much discussion of the effect language like this has on our young people, particularly young women of color trying to make their way in this society,” CBS President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves said in announcing the decision. “That consideration has weighed most heavily on our minds as we made our decision.”

Rutgers women’s basketball team spokeswoman Stacey Brann said the team did not have an immediate comment on Imus’ firing but would be issuing a statement later Thursday evening.

Time Magazine once named the cantankerous broadcaster as one of the 25 Most Influential People in America, and he was a member of the National Broadcaster Hall of Fame.

But Imus found himself at the center of a storm after his comments. Protests ensued, and one by one, sponsors pulled their ads from Imus’ show. On Wednesday, MSNBC dropped the simulcast of Imus’ show.

The Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson met with Moonves to advocate Imus’ removal, promising a rally outside CBS headquarters Saturday and an effort to persuade more advertisers to abandon Imus.Sumner Redstone, chairman of the CBS Corp. board and its chief stockholder, told Newsweek that he had expected Moonves to “do the right thing,” although it wasn’t clear what he thought that was.

Warning: this is a profanity-laced tirade

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So, if there are children in the room, you might wanna send them out and have this conversation with em’ later.  This post is about one, and only one thing: Don Imus, the racist and ignorant dry-drunk mutha MSNBC insists on poisoning every morning with from 5:30-9:00.  Ain’t nothin’ like some gratuitous racism to start the day off right.

Don Anus and his merry band of morning show Klansmen have offered another disingenuous apology for the umpteenth time for their racially charged insults against black folk.   Last week, Anus called the sistahs on Rutgers University winning basketball team some “nappy headed ho’s.”  They referred to the game between the Rutgers girls and their opposing team as a championship match of “jiggaboo’s and wannabee’s.”   

He done apologized because the brothas and sistahs who comprise the National Association of Black Journalists strongly denounced his cracker ass and that constitutes a serious threat to his check.  The sh*t was really funny Wednesday but apparently, the outraged fallout ain’t been too cute.  Amy Robach announced on MSNBC that the Anus has “reached out” to “black leaders” and will appear this afternoon on Al Sharpton’s radio show to do an all too familiar mea culpa.   

When Anus and his Klansmen mocked a nearly 80 year-old Maya Angelou and Hillary Clinton for pandering to blacks, was that some more “outreach”? 

I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve had it with the mea culpa bullsh*t.  I really don’t know what Al Sharpton gains from this-oh, silly me, he gains RATINGS, which end up culminating in a bigger check.  To that, I say this:  F#*K YOU, DON.  F#*K YOU.  Ain’t no need for you to apologize, cuz y’all meant every word y’all said.  The only reason I’m writing this sh*t is that you had the audacity to invite that bitch-ass MF, Tom Oliphant on the today’s program to insult our intelligence and defend your cowardly ass.  Man up, Bitch. 

We don’t need to hear about the wonderful camp for terminally ill children you run.  We don’t need to hear about the wonderful things your wife does.    I like children and old people too and my Mama and Grandmama are saints but if I knock over a damn bank, me and the biggest MF in the pen are gonna be lovers for 15 to life.  None of the good I’ve done will matter to anybody. If yours really meant anything to you, you woulda reigned in your Klansmen and kept that shit to yo damnself.  

To the ladies of Rutgers University’s basketball team, I’m sure y’all are aware that there ain’t much distance between Rutgers and Paramus, NJ where MSNBC does its taping.  Carry your big, beautiful black selves over there and confront Don Anus. Tell him to say that shit to your faces.  Tell him, “No, No Muthafu*#a, we don’t accept your apology.  

There is a beautiful thing called the telephone ladies.  Use it to dial all of the advertisers of the tournament y’all just played in and demand that they issue a curt letter of denunciation of Don Anus’s conduct.  Then call all of the Advertisers on MSNBC and tell them the same thing.  Hell, get the NAACP in on the game and threaten them all with a friendly boycott just like we did back in the day.  

Ladies, y’all big, beautiful sistahs are big business and your school, your coach and all of the advertisers know it.  I am quite sure that the WNBA is sweatin all y’all-HARD.  Show the world that you understand how the game is played and make damn sho’ that er’body knows it by taking Don Imus’s racist ass out.   The bottom line is that Don Anus’s program has about as much worth as what I flush down the toilet every morning.  It ain’t nothing but a radio and televised bitch session like the View, except it’s only for white men. The world looses nothing by kicking his bitch-ass to the curb. He and his Klansmen loose a very big check. Make him pay for his gratuitous racism. 

There was a time in all of our lives when “I’m sorry, Mama” didn’t cut it.   “I promise I won’t do it no more, Mama” didn’t work either.  Mama had to whoop that ass.  This is one of those times ladies.  Whoop that ass and whoop it good. If you feel as I do, let somebody know.                                                                  

 

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