Dispatches from Post-Racial America

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I’m interrupting your regularly scheduled corporate propaganda to bring some disturbing news from the West Coast.  Apparently, the post-racial America that signaled Barack Obama’s election as President of the United States is a fraud.

 

Shalca, a blogger on MyDD posted the following video, which graphically shatters the myth of a post-racial America.

 

The two-minute video shows how quickly an unarmed black man can die while in the custody of unprofessional toy cops like those that police the Bay Area Rapid Transit System.  

 

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Oscar Grant, a 22-year old unarmed black man, was executed by a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer on New Year’s Day.

 

 

Amnesty International’s Dalia Hashad, released the following statement:

 

When an unarmed man is shot in the back after police put him face down on the ground, it is the time for authorities to demand action, not patience. Days after the incident, the officer still has not been interviewed. The delay in this critical part of the investigation hints at the callousness to the worth of human life to a public that is all too familiar with racial profiling, police brutality and cover-ups. Whatever the final investigation reveals, the bottom line is that there is never justification to shoot an unarmed person, especially one who is restrained. It is an obvious violation of the most basic human rights standards, and a clear cut abuse of power.

 

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The corporate media have taken to making excuses for the police by peddling the canard that the cop mistakenly went for his Glock instead of his Taser.  

 

Junya, writing for the Black San Francisco Bay View, blows this pernicious lie to smithereens:

 

 

1. The manual states that the Taser X26 weighs 7 ounces. Depending on model and bullets loaded, a Glock pistol can weigh from 25-38 ounces. You don’t have to be a weapons expert to feel the difference between holding about two pounds and holding less than half a pound – try it.

2. Police pistols are all black, sometimes with a very dark brown grip. The X26 has bright yellow markings on it. It also has a 2-digit LED display.

3. The X26 has a safety on the grip that must be released. The Glock safety is on the trigger.

So let’s review the minimum steps of a Taser deployment:

1. You pull out the lightweight, brightly colored weapon. You load the cartridge onto the tip of the barrel. The cartridge is fat and rectangular, looking nothing like a pistol barrel.

2. You reach on the grip and flip the safety up. The LED display lights up like half of your digital alarm clock, then shows the percentage charge.

3. Police are taught NEVER to use Tasers in life-threatening situations (ensuring that the “Tasers save lives” mantra remains a fairy tale). So, since that eliminates the “split-second judgment” defense, every Taser policy I’ve seen requires a warning before firing, to give the victim the opportunity to comply. Police like to report that merely pointing the Taser and issuing the warning is often sufficient.

Most likely, this cockamamie rumor is spread by the police in order to buy time. It’s damage control, to pacify an angry public until they can come up with some way to blame the victim.

A small scale riot the other day confirmed that the lies, excuses, and spin hadn’t been effective in disguising an execution as a “mistake.”  In a “post-racial” America, it would be nice if the deliberate, pre-meditated effort to cover-up an execution got an automatic federal investigation, followed up by prosecution.

Sadly, this has happened twice before and no prosecutions for murder or manslaughter were ever brought against the BART cops in those cases.  They’ve murdered a naked, mentally ill man, and a 19 year-old boy erroneously suspected of armed robbery.  The boy was shot in the back of the head. Both were black. 

In the reality based community I live in, these incidents, taken as a whole, constitute a pattern or practice of misconduct that is actionable under federal law.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice:

…it unlawful for State or local law enforcement officers to engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives persons of rights protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States. (42 U.S.C. § 14141). The types of conduct covered by this law can include, among other things, excessive force, discriminatory harassment, false arrests, coercive sexual conduct, and unlawful stops, searches or arrests. In order to be covered by this law, the misconduct must constitute a “pattern or practice” — it may not simply be an isolated incident. The DOJ must be able to show in court that the agency has an unlawful policy or that the incidents constituted a pattern of unlawful conduct.

BART cops have no civilian review board and are virtually unaccountable for their crimes.  Based on the small amount of research I’ve found (here and here), it seems that they are following the same racist playbook that allowed them to justify questionable uses of deadly force and are simply hoping that the third time is a charm.

 

The Obama Justice Department, at the very least, should be monitoring this case to see what the local prosecutor does. If he does nothing, they should move swiftly on Civil Rights prosecutions against Johannes Mehserle and the rest of the officers in these old cases and use it’s power to force reforms in this rogue agency.  “Change We Can Believe In” is either a slogan or a mantra with teeth—I’d like to see which it is.

Mychal Bell, Jena 6 teen, shoots himself

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Hat Tip: By Kevin McGill, Associated Press

Hat Tip: BET.COM

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — One of the central figures in the 2007 Jena Six civil rights case never gave up pursuing his football career, even after his well-publicized run-ins with the law.

Mychal Bell, an 18-year-old high school running back, clung to the hope that he could earn a college football scholarship. Then came another legal scrape this Christmas Eve.

After news broke of his arrest on a shoplifting charge, Bell shot himself in the chest Monday with a .22-caliber handgun. He remained hospitalized Tuesday but police said his chest wound was not life-threatening.

“When it was broadcast that he was charged with shoplifting he just felt that the whole year had been wasted and that he had worked all of that time for nothing,” said Louis Scott, who represented Bell in the case where Bell and five other black teenagers were charged in the 2006 beating of a white classmate.

Bell’s grandmother, Rosie Simmons, and mother, Melissa Bell, told police that “Mychal had made comments over the past two days that, because of the current media attention he had because of the shoplifting arrest, he didn’t feel like he could live anymore,” Monroe Police Lt. Jeff Harris said, reading from a police report.

Bell and the other members of the “Jena Six” once faced attempted murder charges in the beating at Jena High School, in north central Louisiana’s Lasalle Parish. The charges for all the defendants were eventually reduced. But the severity of the original charges brought widespread criticism and eventually led more than 20,000 people to converge in September 2007 on the tiny town of Jena for a major civil rights march.

After being sentenced to 18 months following his guilty plea to juvenile charges, Bell moved from Jena to Monroe, where he was in foster care. He was released from state supervision on Dec. 4, said Bill Furlow, a spokesman for Reed Walters, the district attorney for LaSalle Parish.

A football star at Jena High until the Barker beating, Bell had hoped to play for Monroe’s Carroll High School, where he is on track to graduate in the spring. But the Louisiana High School Athletic Association wouldn’t grant him a fifth year of eligibility to play. Bell had spent 10 months in prison awaiting trial after his 2006 arrest in the beating case.

“He had kept his grades up and he had worked out the whole year even though he couldn’t play. He had dealt with the fact that the state athletic association would not let him play high school ball,” Bell’s lawyer, Louis Scott said Tuesday.

It was unclear whether his dreams of a college football career were realistic. According to Scott, family members believed Bell was having encouraging discussions with the University of Louisiana-Monroe.

The school’s director of football operations, Peter Martin, said in an e-mail that the school had not evaluated Bell as a prospective student-athlete and would not speculate on his potential at the college level.

Police said Bell’s Christmas Eve arrest came after he allegedly tried to steal several shirts and a pair of jeans from a department store and fled when a security guard and off-duty police officer tried to detain him. After they found him hiding under a car, Bell “swung his arms wildly” and one of his elbows struck the security guard with a glancing blow, according to a police report. He was freed on $1,300 bond.

Scott said he believed the arrest likely resulted from a misunderstanding.

“I would be very surprised if he was shoplifting,” Scott said. “I had seen him working out every day even though he knew he wasn’t going to be able to play high school football.”

Monday’s shooting was reported at 7:40 p.m. According to the police report, Bell was staying at his grandmother’s home and his mother was visiting at the time. Melissa Bell told police she and Simmons heard a gunshot coming from Mychal’s room. They found him on his bed, wounded in the chest. It was not clear Tuesday who owned the gun.

O.J. Simpson: guilty of stupidity

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Hat Tip: By Linda Deutsch, Associated Press

Las Vegas, NV – O.J. Simpson, who went from American sports idol to celebrity-in-exile after he was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife and a friend, was found guilty Friday of robbing two sports-memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in a Las Vegas hotel room.

The 61-year-old former football star could spend the rest of his life in prison after he is sentenced Dec. 5.

A weary and somber Simpson released a heavy sigh as the charges were read in rapid fire by the clerk in Clark County District Court. He was immediately taken into custody.

The Hall of Fame football star was found guilty of kidnapping, armed robbery and 10 other charges for gathering up five men a year ago and storming into a room at hotel-casino, where the group seized several game balls, plaques and photos. Prosecutors said two of the men with him were armed; one of them said he brought a gun at Simpson’s request.

Simpson’s co-defendant, Clarence “C.J.” Stewart, 54, also was found guilty on all charges and taken into custody.

Simpson showed little emotion as officers handcuffed him and walked him out of the courtroom.

His sister, Carmelita Durio, sobbed behind him in the arms of Simpson’s friend, Tom Scotto. As spectators left the courtroom, Durio collapsed and paramedics were called, according to court spokesman Michael Sommermeyer.

The jurors made no eye contact with the defendants as the entered and each of them answered firmly when asked if “this was their individual verdict.”

Judge Jackie Glass made no comment other than to thank the jury for its service and to deny motions for the defendants to be released on bail.

She refused to give the lawyers extended time to file a motion for new trial, which under Nevada law must be filed within seven days.

The attorneys said they needed time to submit a voluminous record, but she rejected that.

“I’ve sat through the trial,” Glass said. “If you want a motion for new trial, send me something.”

The verdict came 13 years after Simpson was cleared of murder in Los Angeles in one of the most sensational trials of the 20th century.

From the beginning, Simpson and lawyers argued the incident in Las Vegas was not a robbery; instead, they said, he was trying to reclaim mementos that had been stolen from him. He said he did not ask anyone to bring a gun and did not see any guns.

The defense portrayed Simpson as a victim of shady characters who wanted to make a buck off his famous name, and police officers who saw his arrest as an opportunity to “get” him and avenge his acquittal.

Prosecutors said Simpson’s ownership of the memorabilia was irrelevant; it was still a crime to try to take things by force.

“When they went into that room and forced the victims to the far side of the room, pulling out guns and yelling, `Don’t let anybody out of here!’ — six very large people detaining these two victims in the room with the intent to take property through force or violence from them — that’s kidnapping,” prosecutor David Roger said.

Kidnapping is punishable by five years to life in prison. Armed robbery carries a mandatory sentence of at least two years behind bars, and could bring as much as 30 years.

Simpson, who now lives in Miami, did not testify, but was heard on a recording of the confrontation, screaming that the dealers had stolen his property.

“Don’t let nobody out of this room,” he declared and told the other men to scoop up his items, which included a photo of Simpson with former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

Four other men initially charged in the case struck plea bargains that saved them from potential prison sentences in return for their testimony. Some of them had criminal records or were compromised in some way. One, for example, was an alleged pimp who testified he had a revelation from God telling him to take a plea bargain.

Memorabilia dealer Thomas Riccio, who arranged and secretly recorded the confrontation in the hotel room, said he netted $210,000 on the tapes from the media. He received immunity, and his recordings became the heart of the prosecution case.

Similarly, minutes after the Sept. 13, 2007, confrontation, one of the alleged victims, sports-memorabilia dealer Alfred Beardsley, was calling news outlets, and the other, Bruce Fromong, spoke of getting “big money” from the incident.

Simpson’s past haunted the case. Las Vegas police officers were heard in the recordings chuckling over Simpson’s misfortune and crowing that if Los Angeles couldn’t “get” him, they would. And the judge told jurors they had to put aside Simpson’s earlier case.

Simpson’s lawyers also expressed fears during jury selection that people who believed he got away with murder a decade ago might see this case as a chance to right a wrong.

As a result, an usually large pool of 500 potential jurors was called, and they were given a 26-page questionnaire. Half were almost instantly eliminated after expressing strong feelings that he should have been convicted of murder.

 

If Troy Davis Dies, blame the Clintons

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If anyone has sought to confuse you or just plain insult your intelligence by intimating that the United States has entered into a “post-racial” age of enlightenment, you have this Skeptical Brotha’s permission to curse them out so hard that they beg your forgiveness.  All one really has to do, if the aforemetioned is unappealing, is just say two words: Troy Davis.

I am primitive enough to actually believe in the death penalty despite knowing full well that the way in which it is administered discriminates against people on the basis of race and class.  I am also old fashioned enough to want any would be victimizers of me or my family to pay the ultimate price. 

The case against Georgia Death Row Inmate Troy Davis, 38, changes all that for me and it has me reconsidering  the fundamentally corrosive nature of prolonged righteous rage brought on by the machinery of death.  The family of the murdered police officer  is prevented from having closure and so is the family of Troy Davis who are convinced of his innocence.

Anger and rage are the essential building blocks of any activism for good causes, but they are also the essential tools of the demagogue.

This is where Bill and Hillary Clinton come in.  In the run up to the 1992 New Hampshire primary, Bill Clinton left the campaign trail and the questions surrounding the revelation of his affair wth Gennifer Flowers to execute a brain damaged brotha, Ricky Ray Rector. 

Christopher Hitchens was blunt:

I disliked Clinton because of the Ricky Ray Rector business. He left New Hampshire to go back to Arkansas and execute a man who was essentially unfit to plead–he certainly didn’t understand the charges against him,  would have met any ordinary definition of clemency.  I don’t think the Chinese execute people who are mentally disabled.  Rector was lobotomized. And it was clear that Clinton did what he did to send a racist signal.  It was as clear as it could possibly be.  The week of Gennifer Flowers he kept saying, “Why don’t we talk about the issues?”  So I asked him this: “Isn’t executing a mentally retarded black man for votes a clearer indication of what your morality is than what you do with blondes on the side?” Clinton turned his back on me. Walked away.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the Clintons dipped into the well of racism against Barack Obama having deliberately used the unjustified execution of a black man to make a naked racial appeal to whitefolks back in 1992. 

Once elected, Bill and Hillary Clinton continued turning their backs on justice.  Bill signed the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.

According to Amnesty International:

President Bill Clinton signed the AEDPA into law on 24 April 1996. “I have long sought to streamline federal appeals for convicted criminals sentenced to the death penalty,” he said at the signing; “For too long, and in too many cases, endless death row appeals have stood in the way of justice being served.”  He added that “from now on, criminals sentenced to death for their vicious crimes will no longer be able to use endless appeals to delay their sentences.”

The Act placed new, unprecedented restrictions on prisioners raising claims of constitutional violations.  It imposed severe time limits on the raising of constitutional claims, restricted the federal courts ability to review state court decisions, placed limits on federal courts granting and conducting evidentiary hearings, and prohibited “successive” appeals except in very narrow circumstances.

As one leading lawyer has said “The provisions of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 restricting the power of federal courts to correct constitutional error in criminal cases represent a decision tat results are more important than process, that finality is more important than fairness, and that proceeding with executions is more important than determining whether convictions and sentences were obtained fairly and reliably.”

Under the AEDPA, once Troy Davis’ conviction and death sentence had been upheld by the Georgia Courts, the possibility of relief in the federal courts was curtailed. Federal relief was only permissible if the decision of a state court had “resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved in an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.”  This deferential “reasonableness” standard represented “a remarkable departure from the traditional role of federal courts…to declare what the law is.”

The amazing thing about the case against Troy Davis is that there is literally no case.  There is no physical evidence at all. No DNA, no murder weapon, no fingerprints, no footprints. Nothing.  All there was against the brotha was the perjured testimony of coerced witnesses, 7 of whom now say in signed affidavits that one of their number was the real killer and that the combined effects of sloppy police work, prosecutorial misconduct, ineffective assistance of counsel, and their fear of the real killer, produced this twisted and tragic result.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles delayed this execution for over a year to supposedly investigate the claims of innocence here thoroughly and completely. They still came to the same racist result as the orignial jury and every court of review.

At the end of the line and with state court appeals exhausted, executive clemency denied, and all federal appeals over, they appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court one last time. The Supremes delayed the execution until next Monday.  While a six-day repreive is cause for celebration for some, I am not hopeful.   A Supreme Court that would essentially overturn Brown v. Board of Education is a Supreme Court that will come up with some convoluted, racist rationale for the execution of the innocent.   Only time will tell.

The only thing I know for sure is that if Troy Davis dies, you can blame the Clintons for setting him up and sabotaging his legitimate claim of innocence.

Justice Harold Melton, Sonny Perdue’s Colored Confederate

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Harold Melton and Clarence Thomas

“The past is not dead.  In fact, it’s not even past.”-William Faulkner 

The news broke late Friday that the Georgia Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, overturned Genarlow Wilson’s conviction for aggravated child molestation, and the 10-year mandatory sentence that he received as a result of engaging in consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17 and both were in High School.  

In reading the dissenting opinion, I discovered that Georgia’s newest State Supreme Court Justice, Harold Melton, a 41 year old African American and appointee of Republican Governor Sonny Perdue, is an undercover confederate with a disturbing penchant for distorting the rule of law.  Justice Melton signed on to a dissent in the Wilson case that only Federalist Society fascists like Clarence Thomas could love.  

The gross overcharging of Genarlow Wilson by Douglas County District Attorney David McDade, a racist if their ever was one, was a perversion of the law not intended by the legislature that echoes Douglas County’s only recorded lynching. 

“In Lynching in the New South: Georgia and Virginia 1880-1930,”  “The lynching of Peter Stamps on July 24, 1885, in Douglas County, Georgia, is another example of the severe consequences of defying the color line in sexual relationships.  For almost a year, Stamps, a black tenant farmer, had been the lover of his employer’s sixteen-year-old daughter without arousing suspicions.  But when the girl became pregnant, the romance could no longer be kept secret.” 

“Stamps was promptly arrested for rape even though the girl adamantly refused to accuse him.  While he was being transported to the county jail, a mob seized him and hanged him. The tragic affair ended when the young girl committed suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills.” 

In Douglas County, Georgia, Genarlow Wilson isn’t the first young person destroyed because of an unhealthy adult preoccupation with consensual, pre-marital sex among teens.   While all of the participants in the titillating sex party that was recorded on videotape were black, the unfettered white power to destroy their lives for a horrible youthful mistake remains the same.  All of the boys were branded as sex offenders for life.  None of them, however, served the time Genarlow Wilson did because he fought the charges, especially the rape charge for which he was acquitted. 

Because of that fact, I do not believe the District Attorney’s feigned concern for the girl who claimed that she was raped because after his fairness was challenged in the media, he distributed 35 copies of the videotape, which meets the statutory definition of child pornography, to the public.   Those are not the actions of man who believes he’s trying to protect a girl from unscrupulous teenage predators, but rather, they are the actions of a racist trying to cover his ass by clouding the issues and smearing Genarlow Wilson as some kinda teenage R. Kelly.

A real black man or woman would know and understand that and conduct themselves accordingly.  His two black colleagues on the court certainly did. Unfortunately, Harold Melton is not a real black man. He’s nothing more than a Clarence Thomas clone and a colored confederate faking the funk and fighting on the wrong side.   

Black Judges like Clarence Thomas and Harold Melton are fully aware of the historical context of the racial struggles of the African American community and are capable of meting out justice in cases like Genarlow’s,  but they are too blinded and ashamed to acknowledge the tawdry sex scandal that gave birth to their own nefarious power.  

Their power is the result of illicit fornication between Machiavellian southern rednecks and northern patricians in the Republican Party who unapologetically manipulate the inflammatory symbols of segregation, white supremacy and the irrational fear of black crime, to enrage and corral a provincial white electorate into voting GOP slates of pinstripe troglodytes like Douglas County DA David McDade into office.  Their mission: reverse the gains of the civil rights movement and keep colored folk like us in a designated place of impotent subordination.

Georgia State Flag, c. 1956-2001

In the same manner that George Herbert Walker Bush used Willie Horton to exploit the irrational and racist white fear of black crime, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue used the issue of changing Georgia’s confederate emblazoned Flag, demanded by African Americans and their white democratic allies, to inflame a bigoted rural electorate against his democratic opponent, former Governor Roy Barnes.    

Sean Wilentz, writing for Salon.com, breaks down the implicit racism employed by the maniacal right, “Republican politicians then exploited the issue, with all its blatant racial overtones. The Georgia GOP gubernatorial candidate Sonny Perdue, backed by Georgia Republican state chairman and former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed, upheld the honor of those who died defending slavery, and pledged that, if elected, he would push for a statewide referendum to restore the old flag, nearly two-thirds of it taken up by the Confederate emblem.” 

“The tactic worked like a charm, especially in Georgia where the Democrat Barnes had been expected to win reelection handily. The election returns clearly show that rural white voters switched in droves to vote Republican, and that the flag controversy was one important reason why.” 

“… a victorious Sonny Perdue, appearing against a backdrop of Confederate emblems, jubilantly exclaimed, with dubious taste, a line from an old black spiritual made famous by another Georgian, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, free at last!  Since then, Gov.-elect Perdue has backed off from his pledge to restore the old flag, and said with a straight face that the issue was only a “small” reason for his victory. And so his campaign appeals seem to have been just a cynical ploy, in a long tradition of Southern racial demagogy.” 

Once elected Governor, Perdue plucked Harold Melton out of the obscurity of the Attorney General’s Office and made him his chief counsel.   A black Republican of long standing, Melton graduated from Auburn University and interned for Alabama Republican Governor Guy Hunt, a right-wing crook indicted and removed from office for diverting $2oo, 000 dollars from his inaugural ball fund to personal use.  

Upon Melton’s graduation from law school at the University of Georgia, he spent 11 years in the Georgia Attorney General’s office, most of it under Mike Bowers, a sanctimonious, homophobic party switcher with gubernatorial ambitions who zealously persecuted gay people using Georgia’s antediluvian sodomy laws while simultaneously carrying on a decade long extramarital affair with his secretary.   

Melton absorbed his patron’s homophobia and facilitated Sonny Perdue’s demagogic crusade to “preserve marriage” as the Governor’s Chief Counsel.   After Perdue had solidified his credentials as a southern redneck, and he couldn’t fulfill his promise to restore the flag because of a hostile legislature, he moved on to exploit homophobia to distract the same fools fixated on preserving their southern heritage of hate. Perdue shrewdly gave them the gays to demonize and focus their hatred on.   Georgia’s passage of a so-called “marriage amendment” solidified the GOP stranglehold on state government and assured Perdue’s re-election.    

As a reward, Melton was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2005, pissing off a lot of white conservatives who believed that the first GOP appointment should have gone to one of their white wingnut fellow travelers.   His vote against Genarlow Wilson and in a death penalty case I will subsequently discuss, should have quieted all the talk about Melton not being sufficiently conservative.   

Melton, the Death Penalty, and Georgia’s history of lynching 

I have never been amused by the Republican habit of dismissing and ignoring the history and persistence of racially motivated murder in this country.  Between 1882 and 1968, 492 lynchings of black men and women took place in Georgia, 479 of them murdered at the hands of white mobs, a number that ranks Georgia second only to Mississippi in the savage sweepstakes of white supremacist killing.    

This next vignette of hate should have some significance to the Governor because it happened six months before he was born, and directly implicated a gubernatorial predecessor. In July, the Associated Press wrote about how they uncovered evidence, through the use of the Freedom of Information Act, that implicated former Georgia Governor Eugene Talmadge, a virulent racist, in the lynching of two black couples after his 1946 re-election.

Talmadge, who died just months after his 1946 election to a fourth term, dominated Georgia politics in the 1930s and 1940s with a mix of racism and pocketbook populism.He came under FBI scrutiny because of a visit he made to the north Georgia town of Monroe two days before the Democratic gubernatorial primary and a day after a highly charged racial incident there, a fight in which a black sharecropper stabbed and severely wounded a white farmer.”

“The sharecropper was one of the four people who would later be lynched.In a report sent to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, the agent in charge of the investigation said Talmadge met with George Hester, the brother of the stabbed farmer. Citing an unconfirmed witness statement, the agent said Talmadge offered immunity to anyone “taking care of negro.”

“…The lynchings of Roger and Dorothy Malcom, and George and Mae Murray Dorsey on July 25, 1946, came eight days after the election and followed weeks of simmering tensions. There were rumors that George Dorsey, an Army veteran, had secretly been dating a white woman — a taboo in the segregated South. And the town’s white establishment was enraged with Roger Malcom, who was imprisoned after stabbing white farmer Barney Hester.”

“Malcom was waiting in jail when white farmer Loy Harrison paid $600 to bail him out. Harrison said he was driving Malcom, his wife and the other couple home, when he was ambushed by a white mob that surrounded his car near the Moore’s Ford Bridge. As many as 30 people converged on the vehicle and pulled out the two couples, dragged them down a nearby trail and tied them to trees.”

“Then the mob fired three volleys of bullets at the couples, leaving their dead bodies slumped behind in the dirt. One of the victims, Dorothy Malcom, was seven months’ pregnant. An outraged President Truman dispatched FBI agents to Monroe, about 45 miles east of Atlanta. But the local community — both white and black — clammed up.”

…Black families, who often sharecropped on white farms, were “frightened and even terrified” when approached by FBI agents. One farmer fled into a cotton field and had to be chased down, eventually telling an investigator he had been warned not to talk.” 

Baby Boomers like Sonny Perdue turn a blind eye to the cruelty and malevolence of their parents’ generation and the six lynchings,  which occurred in his home county in the twentieth century.  His guilt is submerged into the “good works” he performs like opening his home to a black foster child or his close personal and professional relationships with a few people of color. However, when Perdue’s back was against the wall, like Eugene Talmage’s was in the election of 1946,  he resorted to the same bag of tricks and he drew from the well white supremacy and division because of a desperation to seize power.  His desire to paper over the racial divisions he created with appointments like Harold Melton only makes the problem of racial discrimination worse.  

The spirit of fear inculcated and bred into black people by enduring generations of racist terror like the aforementioned lynching, is all over the next case.   The manner in which Georgia carries out the death penalty more closely resembles a lynching than a carefully designed legal process, which respects the constitutional rights of the accused.  Just weeks before the prevaricator from Pin Point, Georgia, Clarence Thomas, was disingenuously accusing his inquisitors of subjecting him to “a high-tech lynching” a real one was taking place in a Savannah, Georgia courtroom, in a town he claims to know well.   

The case of Troy Anthony Davis, a death row inmate, is one that shocks the conscience.  Convicted of the murder of a white police officer and the shooting of a black teenager, his conviction was obtained as a result of the perjured testimony of African American witnesses coerced to appear by a racist and incompetent Savannah police force.   The state had no physical evidence in this case tying Davis to the crime and all but three of the “witnesses” recanted their testimony.     Don’t believe me?   Read for yourself.  

Affidavit of Darrell Collins: 

When I got to the barracks, the police put me in a small room and some detectives came in and started yelling at me, telling me that I knew that Troy Davis…killed that officer by the Burger King. I told them that… I didn’t see Troy do nothing. They got real mad when I said this and started getting in my face. They were telling me that I was an accessory to murder and that I would pay like Troy was gonna pay if I didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear. They told me that I would go to jail for a long time and I would be lucky if I ever got out, especially because a police officer got killed.” 

“… I didn’t want to go to jail because I didn’t do nothing wrong. I was only sixteen and was so scared of going to jail. They kept saying that…[Troy] had messed with that man up at Burger King and killed that officer. I told them that it was Red and not Troy who was messing with that man, but they didn’t want to hear that…After a couple of hours of the detectives yelling at me and threatening me, I finally broke down and told them what they wanted to hear. They would tell me things that they said had happened and I would repeat whatever they said.”  

From the Affidavit of Antoine Williams:

 I couldn’t really tell what was going on because I had the darkest shades of tint you could possibly have on my windows of my car. As soon as I heard the shot and saw the officer go down, I ducked down under the dash of my car. I was scared for my life and I didn’t want to get shot myself.” 

“…Later that night, some cops asked me what had happened. I told them what is written here [in the affidavit]. They asked me to describe the shooter and what he looked like and what he was wearing. I kept telling them that I didn’t know. It was dark, my windows were tinted, and I was scared. It all happened so fast. Even today, I know that I could not honestly identify with any certainty who shot the officer that night. I couldn’t then either. After the officers talked to me, they gave me a statement and told me to sign it. I signed it. I did not read it because I cannot read.”  

From the Affidavit of Benjamin Gordon: 

Later that night, police officers came and dragged me from my house in Yamacraw. There were police officers everywhere after the police officer was killed and it seemed like they were taking everyone in Yamacraw to the police barracks for questioning. I was handcuffed and they put a nightstick under my neck. I had just turned sixteen and was scared as hell.” 

“The police officers took me to the barracks and put me in a small room. Over the next couple of hours, three or so officers questioned me – at first, they called me a motherfuc*er and told me that I had shot the officer. They told me that I was going to the electric chair. They got in my face and yelled at me a lot. The cops then told me that I did the shooting over in Cloverdale.”

“I just kept telling them that I didn’t do anything, but they weren’t hearing that. After four or five hours, they told me to sign some papers. I just wanted to get the hell out of there. I didn’t read what they told me to sign and they didn’t ask me to.” 

In their zeal to avenge the killing of a white police officer, police misconduct mimicked an angry lynch mob hell bent in defending white supremacy by pinning any nigger with the crime.  This case has bounced between state and federal courts for 16 years and they have continued to reject any claim of innocence and refused to consider affidavits recanting perjured testimony. 

A law signed by Bill Clinton makes it all but impossible to considered new evidence of innocence  in the federal courts, and a ruling in Herrera v. Collins, a U.S. Supreme Court Case in which Clarence Thomas was in the majority, allows states to execute people they know for certain are innocent of the crimes for which they have been sentenced to death.   You read that right.  Clarence Thomas ruled that there is no constitutional problem with executing innocent people.   

In the last eight years, six brothas-Willie Williams, Calvin Johnson, Robert Clark, Douglas Echols, Samuel Scott and Clarence Harrison, have been exonerated by the state of Georgia after being convicted on the basis of false eyewitness testimony.   

Apparently, Harold Melton is ignorant of these cases and is following in Clarence Thomas’s corrupt footsteps because when Troy Davis reached the end of the line, and his execution date was set,  he voted against the Georgia Supreme Court hearing this case to consider evidence of witness recantation and claims of actual innocence, something appellate courts rarely do after they’ve already heard the case.   Melton, in effect, voted to kill this brotha and proved that he is possessed by the same spirit of evil that has Clarence Thomas in its grip. 

Melton faces the electorate for the first time next year. So let the word go forth, from this time and place, that its open season on Sonny Perdue’s colored confederate, in solidarity with Genarlow and Troy, because Melton’s anti-black jurisprudence is the historical fruit of the poisonous tree of white supremacy and further proof that “The past is not dead.  In fact, its not even past.” 

 

We don’t live in a Democracy….

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We live in a racist police state.   Case in point, the fake furor over the tasered student at a John Kerry speech at the University of Florida. 

While I won’t defend the obnoxious conduct of this kid that provoked a physical confrontation, it didn’t ever merit him being tasered while Senator Kerry told them to leave him be.  Acting like they didn’t know how to put the boy out the room without looking like a trailer park trained gestapo, doesn’t wash with me.

Last week, a minister, the Rev. Lennox Yearwood, was attacked on Capitol Hill by the notoriously racist Capitol Hill Police force before the General Petraus hearings.  Not a peep was heard even though the widely read Firedoglake blog posted the video.   

They tore ligaments in the man’s damn leg.  While waiting in a public line all morning to get into the hearing, he was barred at the door because of a lapel pin that read, “I love the people of Iraq.” 

The racist myopia that infects the corporate mass media in this country is not remedied by the increasingly critical coverage of the Jena 6 case, or the white glove treatment they give to Barack Obama.  It can only be remedied by telling the truth about the shameless greed, militarism and racism that infects everything we touch at home and abroad.

To that end, I propose that we amend the Star Spangled Banner, our national anthem, to say “

“O say, can you see, by the cluster bomb’s frightful light,
What so proudly we hailed at ground zero’s last gleaming,
Whose brainwashed children and bright stars, went through the perilous fight,
O’er the TV we watched, as civilian casualties were so gallantly screaming, And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting and killing women and children on live air, Gave proof through the night that our hypocrisy was still there.
O say, does that star spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free market, and the home of the wage slave?”

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.

Louisiana black caucus appeals to Gov. Blanco

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Hat Tip: By Sherrell Wheeler Stewart, BlackAmericaWeb

The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus asked Gov. Kathleen Blanco to intervene in the case of the Jena Six, but the governor maintains that state law prevents her from acting at this time.

Black Caucus Chairman  Rep. Juan LaFonta wrote Blanco a letter on Monday and said he spoke with the governor personally to ask for clemency for Mychal Bell, a 17-year-old jailed following his conviction in connection with a Dec. 4 fight that followed a series of racially charged incidents in the small town of Jena, Louisiana.

“The next thing for us to do is look at the appellate process and look at what can be done through the Legislature,” LaFonta, a New Orleans Democrat, told BlackAmericaWeb.com.

Bell is one of six black youths to face criminal charges in connection with the fight with a white student at Jena High School. He is the first to be convicted and is scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 20. Also on that date, thousands are expected to descend on the central Louisiana town to rally for justice in the case of the youths dubbed the Jena Six.

Earlier this week, a LaSalle Parish judge reduced the charges against Robert Bailey. His attorney, Jim Boren, told BlackAmericaWeb.com that Bailey still faces one charge for aggravated assault and charges of second degree battery and conspiracy to commit the same.

Bailey also faces charges from an incident where a white male pulled a gun on him. He took the gun from the man and was “charged with theft and aggravated assault of the person he took the gun from,” Boren said.

Last month, Judge J.P. Mauffray reduced charges filed against Carwin Jones and Theo Shaw. He also reduced an additional charge against Bell. Weeks after the attempted murder charge was dropped, the judge vacated Bell’s conspiracy conviction, his attorney, Louis Scott, told BlackAmericaWeb.com.

Charges have not been reduced for Bryant Purvis and an unnamed juvenile.

The fight at school that resulted in the criminal charges followed months of incidents touched off in August when blacks sat under a tree used as a regular gathering place for white students. The next day, three nooses were hung from that tree. The white students who hung the nooses were suspended from school for a few days. The black students in the school fight were expelled from school, arrested and jailed. They also had bonds ranging as high as $130,000. 

In a statement from Blanco made available to BlackAmericaWeb.com, the governor said, “I must clear up a widespread misunderstanding of my authority in this case. Our State Constitution provides for three branches of state government — Legislative, Executive and Judicial — and the Constitution prohibits anyone in one branch from exercising the powers of anyone in another branch.  This issue is currently a matter in the Judicial System, and should those involved in this case suffer any defects, it is their right to address them in that system through the appeals court.”

According to state law, the Louisiana governor can grant a pardon, but only after a person has been convicted and sentenced, said Marie Centanni, Blanco’s press secretary. The person must apply for a pardon and have that case reviewed by the Board of Pardons, who would make a recommendation to the governor.

Louisiana officials have received requests for intervention on several levels.

In addition to the call for clemency for Bell, national leaders also have called for both the investigation of the district attorney’s office in LaSalle Parish and for the dismissal — and even disbarment — for District Attorney Reed Walters.

According to several published reports, Walters visited the school during the unrest last fall and told students, “I could end your lives with the stroke of a pen.”

Boyce Watkins, a Syracuse University professor and political commentator, said Walters’ comments are examples of his abuse of power and further evidence of a trend to ruin the lives of young people.

“I have seen black men get railroaded by prosecutors. I want to fight for them,” Watkins told BlackAmericaWeb.com.

Also the Rev. Al Sharpton has said he wants the state attorney general and judicial oversight agencies to investigate the actions of Walters.

Repeated attempts by BlackAmericaWeb.com to reach Walters have been unsuccessful.

Under Louisiana Law, district attorneys are elected by voters in their parish. “A D.A. can be popular and powerful in their parish,” Scott said. “You have to remember they answer mainly to the voters who elect them.” 

According to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office, there are 8,798 voters in LaSalle Parish. Of that number — 7,998 are white and 661 are black. Most of the them are Democrats.

A spokeswoman for the Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti Jr. said it is very rare that a district attorney is removed from office in that state.

Watkins said Walter’s conduct warrants not only removal from office but disbarment. He has started a petition and said he plans to present it to the Louisiana governor and other state officials.

“If Mike Nifong can be disbarred for his handling of the case involving the rich boys at Duke, then certainly this guy is eligible for disbarment,” Watkins said, referring to the former prosecutor who led in bringing charges against members of the Duke University lacrosse team.

The Jena 6 Movement

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Hat Tip: by Marisol Bello, USA Today

A grass-roots movement is spreading across black America in support of six black high school students charged with attempted murder for beating a white classmate in the small Louisiana town of Jena.

On black radio, black college campuses and websites from YouTube to Facebook, the young men known as the Jena 6 are being held up as symbols of unequal and unfair treatment of blacks in a case that evokes the Deep South’s Jim Crow era, complete with nooses hanging from a tree.

“People are fed up,” says Esther Iverem, 47, a Washington, D.C., writer who runs a website called Seeingblack.com, which has featured articles about the Jena 6. “It’s another case of young black men railroaded unjustly. We do not want to see this happen to young boys who got involved in a school fight.”

Tenisha Wilkerson, 20, of Chicago, posted a page on Facebook supporting the Jena 6. It has attracted 35,000 members.

“Why is this kind of thing still going on?” she asks.

Symbolism evokes outrage

The events in Jena have caught the attention of national civil rights activists. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Martin Luther King III have marched on Jena in protest.

“The case plays to the fears of many blacks,” Sharpton says. “You hear the stories from your parents and grandparents, but you never thought it would happen in 2007. I think what resonates in the black community is that this is so mindful of pre-1960 America.”

For a year, Jena (pronounced JEEN-uh), a poor mining community of 3,000 people, has been embroiled in racial tensions pitting the black community against white school officials and a white prosecutor. It began last August when a black student asked at an assembly if black students could sit under a tree where white students usually sat. The next day, two nooses hung from the tree.

Black parents were outraged by the symbolism, recalling the mob lynchings of black men. They complained to school officials. District superintendent Roy Breithaupt and the school board gave three-day suspensions to the white students who hung the nooses, overruling the recommendation of then-principal Scott Windham that the students be expelled.

Breithaupt and current principal Glen Joiner did not return calls for comment.

In November, an unknown arsonist burned down part of the high school.

Over the next three days, fights erupted between black and white students on and off school grounds. Police arrested a white man for punching a black teen. He pleaded guilty to simple battery.

The skirmishes culminated with a fight in which the six black teens, star players on Jena’s champion football team, were charged as adults with attempted murder. The white student they’re accused of beating, Justin Barker, 17, was knocked unconscious and suffered cuts and bruises. He was treated at an emergency room but not hospitalized.

Mychal Bell, 17, was convicted in May of a reduced charge, aggravated second-degree battery, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Since then, charges against two youths have been reduced.

Reed Walters, the LaSalle Parish prosecutor who brought the charges, did not return calls for comment.

The anger fueled by the case shows no sign of letting up. More than 1,500 people, including California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, rallied at Howard University in Washington on Wednesday. Rallies are planned in Chicago and Boston.

Civil rights groups, including the NAACP and Friends of Justice, plan to rally at the Jena courthouse on Sept. 20, the scheduled date of Bell’s sentencing. Their websites anticipate busloads of marchers from across the country.

The black students’ supporters say the white teens in Jena were not punished as severely as the blacks.

“The question here has always been about fairness and equal justice,” says Tony Brown, a Louisiana radio host. “The bottom line is that there is a two-tiered judicial system. If you’re black, they want to lock you up and throw away the keys. If you’re white, you get a slap on the wrist and get to go home with your parents.”

He points to a case in nearby Bunkie, La., in which three white teens were charged this spring with the minor crime of battery for beating a white teen, who spent three days in the hospital for brain swelling and bleeding.

The case of the Jena 6 has launched “a modern-day civil rights movement,” Brown says.

Tired of the attention

Blacks are overrepresented in the criminal justice system. A 2007 study by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency found that blacks are 17% of the nation’s juvenile population, but 28% of juveniles arrested are black.

“I don’t think you grow up black and think this kind of thing doesn’t happen,” says Maliza Kalenza, 19, a Howard University sophomore from Minneapolis.

Donald Washington, the U.S. attorney for Louisiana’s Western District, says his office investigated the events in Jena but did not find evidence to support a criminal case in the noose hangings. He says black students had sat under the tree where the nooses were hung, too, and he found no evidence that the noose incident led to the fights three months later.

The tree was cut down this summer.

Washington’s office is reviewing the history of Jena school district punishments of black and white students but so far has found nothing inappropriate.

Some people in Jena don’t appreciate the attention.

School board member Billy Fowler says the year’s events have been blown out of proportion. On the other hand, he says, in the unlikely event that another student hung a noose, the incident would be taken more seriously. He also notes that some of the original charges against the six teens, which he says were excessive, were reduced.

“I feel like my town has been raked over unmercifully,” Fowler says. “I’m tired of hearing how racist my town is and it’s just not so. … And the outsiders are not helping any with this.”

New York City pays family of Timothy Stansbury $2million

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Timothy Stansbury, Jr

HAT TIP: Herald Tribune NEW YORK: The city has agreed to pay $2 million (€1.48 million) to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of an unarmed teenager who was shot by police while atop a housing project.

The death of 19-year-old Timothy Stansbury in 2004 “was a tragedy, and we offer our condolences to the family,” city lawyer Ken Sasmor said Wednesday. “We believe the settlement is in the best interests of all parties and hope it will provide some small measure of comfort.”

A telephone call to the family’s attorney was not immediately returned Wednesday.

The shooting occurred while Officer Richard Neri and his partner were patrolling atop a housing project in Brooklyn. Stansbury and two friends had decided to use a roof as a shortcut to another building.

Neri’s partner pulled open a rooftop door so that Neri, his gun drawn, could peer inside for any drug suspects, police said. Stansbury startled the officers by appearing at the door and moving toward Neri, who responded with one shot he claimed he fired by accident.

Though Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the shooting appeared to be unjustified, a grand jury declined to indict Neri.

Kelly later suspended Neri for 30 days without pay and permanently stripped him of his weapon. The victim’s mother said the 30-day suspension was too light a punishment.