Novelist Bebe Moore Campbell passes at 56

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Novelist Bebe Moore Campbell has died of brain cancer at 56.  I am shocked and deeply saddened. I never even knew that the sister was ill. I first discovered her books some years back when I was heavily into black fiction.  Her books, “Your Blues Ain’t like Mine“,  “Brothers and Sisters”  and “What You Owe Me” are among the best pieces of black fiction produced in the last twenty years.   She had a singular ability to transport you to another time and place that created a powerful understanding of the black experience of the past. Her loss will be deeply felt.

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Sean Bell, 23, murdered by NYPD and Clinton Adminstration negligence

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Sean Bell, his fiancee Nicole Paultre, and their daughter 

Here we are again, another brotha, Sean Bell, has bitten the dust, taken out by wild, out-of -control NYPD officers.  This could have been averted.  The circumstances surrounding this execution are of the most questionable nature, as they always are.  This is part and parcel of a pattern of misconduct that has dogged the NYPD for decades and was exacerbated by Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s relentless defense of police misconduct.  It was not until 1977 that an on-duty NYPD officer was convicted for a wrongful death. 

Apparently, there had never been a questionable killing or circumstance in which the improper use of force by members of the NYPD could legitimately be questioned until then.  If you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn you might be interested in buying.

The list of questionable killings by the NYPD is growing.

 Antonio Rosario, 18, and Hilton Vega, 22, shot at between twenty three and twenty eight times while laying down in a prone position as mandated by police. “According to reports citing the Medical Examiner’s report, Vega was hit with eight bullets – in his back, buttocks, back of the head and front left forearm. Rosario was hit with fourteen bullets – eight in his back or buttocks, two in his side, two in his right arm, one in his hip, and one in his armpit.”

Anibal Carrasquillo, 21, unarmed, and shot in the back by NYPD on January 22, 1995.  No carges filed.

Frankie Arzuega, 15, car passenger, unarmed, shot to death by NYPD, when police claimed the car attempted to drive off while being questioned.  No charges filed.

Aswan Watson, unarmed, shot 18 times in a stolen car because police claimed he looked like he might be reaching for a weapon on June 13, 1996.

Amadou Diallo, 23, shot 19 times in a hail of 41 shots on February 4, 1999 because officers, on the basis of no evidence ,think he fits the description of a rape suspect and think he is reaching for a weapon that turns out to be a wallet.  Officers involved are acquitted of murder.

Joe McGill, 58, shot to death by NYPD, after allegedly fleeing a bank he allegedly robbed on August 9, 1999. No charges filed.

Malcolm Ferguson, 23, unarmed, shot in the head by NYPD after a scuffle with police in a building where dealing was supposedly taking place on March 1, 2000.  No charges filed.

Patrick Dorismond, 26, unarmed, shot to death by NYPD after a scuffle with police in which he was asked for crack on March 16, 2000.  In retaliation, Giuliani Administration releases his sealed juvenile criminal records to shield police and cloud the issue of his unnecessary demise.

Charmene Pickering, 27, shot to death by NYPD during a traffic stop of the driver of the vehicle on July 27, 2001. No charges filed.

Juan Mendez, 38, shot to death by NYPD during a chase on foot on January 23,2002.  No charges filed.

Cesar Mercado, 47, shot to death by NYPD after allegedly attempting to break into a parked Van.  No charges filed.

Jamal Nixon, 19,  shot to death by NYPD after allegedly firing a handgun in Brownsville, a predominitely black section of Brooklyn.  No charges filed.

Floyd Quinones, 28, shot to death by NYPD after he fires 17 shots into the sky at a birthday celebration.  Accused of aiming in the direction of police.  No charges filed.

Ousmane Zongo, 43, unarmed, shot to death by NYPD during a foot chase.  Officer tried but jury deadlocks resulting in a mistrial.

Timothy Stansbury, Jr., 19, unarmed, shot to death by NYPD on a rooftop unders suspicious circumstances that are never adequately justified.

Examined by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and Human Rights Watch, the NYPD  has been excoriated for patterns and practices that reveal clear, convincing cases of racial profiling, systemic police brutality, and unjustifiable homicide. The current Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, seems to be willing to challenge the automatic presumption of police innocence in this case.  Moreover, he has appointed a police commissioner widely reported to be sensitive to misconduct complaints of this nature.  However, advocates like City Councilman Charles Barron, automatically discount the rhetoric from those at the top.   Instead, he focuses on what charges are filed and whether or not convictions are obtained.

I feel brotha Barron on that.  The NYPD has a problem and the only solution is for a federally apointed monitor to take over administration of  the NYPD.  According to a law review article in Fordham Urban Law Journal in January of 2003 “The Failure of Local and Federal Prosecutors to Curb Police Brutality” by Asit Panwala, “As a result of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, federal authorites now have the ability to change how local police departments operate. The law empowers the Department of Justice to force police departments to implement internal review systems or to enjoin them from allowing officers to use deadly [force]. … The Justice Department may be better suited to handle police brutality because it has both the power to prosecute individual officers and to force a police department to change its pattern of practice…just the mere threat of a federal  lawsuit may provide the needed push for reform within a law enforcement agency.”

During the Clinton Administration, just such a process of federal examination was being urged by Human Rights Watch and progressive African American leaders and it was killed by a stealth Aunt Jemima in the form of U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch.  Carl Thomas, the attorney for Abner Louima, the Haitian immigrant sodomized in a NYPD police precinct bathroom by racist rogue cops, said of Lynch, “she is to be blamed for not aggressively pursuing blantant police misconduct.” 

Echoing sentiments by NY City Councilman Charles Barron, Attorney General Janet Reno, and the President himself had the power to force a federal takeover of the NYPD and mandate necessary reforms.  It was not done and they used a high level black flunky to do it. This is what unquestioning support for DLC democrats gets black folks.  The only agenda for New York the Clintons had in mind was Hillary’s election to the Senate.

The time has come to flip the script and demand accountability.  Sean Bell, and those who have suffered at the hands of NYPD rogue cops deserve a pound a flesh for the Clintons betrayal.

Pelosi’s plantation: the screwing of Alcee Hastings

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The fight to chair the House Intelligence Committee was a fight between two people with differing positions regarding the Administration’s prosecution of the Iraq War and the role of oversight regarding the Administration’s broad ranging program of domestic surveillance. On one side of the debate is  Jane Harmon, the Democratic ranking member of the Intelligence committee.  On the other, is Alcee Hastings, her more senior rival for the throne of chairman in the new Democratic controlled congress to be seated in January.

To say that Mrs. Harman has been a coquettish doormat for the Administration’s imperialist objectives internationally is to understate her treachery. She has provided no check on Administration power and has not used her leadership position as top democrat on Intelligence to advance an oppositional agenda. Instead, she has used her position on Intelligence to partner with Republicans in their Imperial quest and euphemises her abdication of responsibility with rhetoric couched in cautious and timid language.

The case against Alcee Hastings is summed up in one word, Impeachment.   Not Bill Clinton’s, his.  He was a Carter appointed Federal Judge that was tried, and acquitted by a federal jury of bribery charges and then subsequently impeached, and convicted of those same charges before the U.S. Senate and removed from office.

The case against him was garbage and the Congressional Black Caucus was manipulated into voting against its own interests by sacrificing Hastings in a racist witchhunt.  They seem to be rectifying their error by standing behind Hastings now.   Unfortunately, there is only one decision maker in this battle and the White Washington power structure has made their feelings known to incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Ruth Marcus, and people I respect like David Corn, and Joe Conason have come down hard against Hastings chairing Intelligence.  In this battle, they have elected to share sides with the right-wing in what suspiciously looks like a racist power play launched by Harman and her right-wing apologists that mimics the crucifiction of Hastings by impeachment from the federal bench 27 years ago.

What they don’t tell you about his Impeachment is that 26 Senators, both Republican and Democrat voted against conviction and that three articles of impeachment failed.  One article failed unanimously 95-0.  The case against Hastings was far from airtight.  In fact, the method by which he was tried in the Senate was overturned on appeal.

Hastings detractors never tell you about the 41 page statement concluding Hastings innocence issued by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-PA.  They never tell you that Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-UT also voted against impeachment. They never tell you that then freshman Sen. Bob Graham, D-FL also voted against impeachment and defends that vote to this day.  In all, 26 senators voted against Impeachment on all counts. twenty Democrats and six Repbublicans, a group that includes nine presidential candidates. They were Sen. Joe Biden, D, DL, Sen. Bill Bradley, D-NJ, Chris Dodd, D-CT, Bob Graham, D-FL, Tom Harkin, D-IA, Orrin Hatch, R-UT, Joe Lieberman, D-CT, Terry Sanford, D-NC, and Arlen Specter, R-PA. Half the senate voted against at least two articles of impeachment.

All of that is irrelevent now that Nancy, the House Democratic Plantation mistress, has stuck her shiv into Alcee’s back and caved to the right-wing spin machine.   She will not appoint Harman or Hastings. I had a wonderful analysis of Harman’s and Hastings’ national security votes but that is so totally useless now.  Now that the beautiful Speaker-Elect has caved, the hard right will spin against her and attack her agenda without conscience now. 

There is no fixing this. She has betrayed her few progressive allies in the black caucus despite the fact that she killed any possibility of a challenge to Rep. James Clyburn becoming House Majority Whip, making him the highest ranking black in the House.  Placing anybody else in the chair of the Intel committee is both a racial and political slight that will culminate in someone less progressive in the driver’s seat. 

That is exactly what the right-wing wants.