Thanksgiving Fairy Tale and Myth

Like millions of other Americans, I will sit down and enjoy a hearty Thanksgiving meal and count my blessings; but in the back of my mind will sit the irony and hypocrisy of the celebration.

Most of us were taught an incomplete, if not inaccurate, portrayal of the first Thanksgiving, particularly of the event’s Native American
participants. History of the Thanksgiving holiday often sugar coats crimes committed against Natives by British and American white men in order to protect their image. The American Indians are oftentimes depicted as ‘ignorant’ and ‘non civilized’ in order to excuse any wrongdoing in by European invaders.

As a child, I didn’t know any Indians, and I certainly didn’t understand that the name “Indian” was based on a Columbus‘ mistake;  thinking he had reached India when he had actually reached the Caribbean. Sadly, the images I saw on television is how I thought of Indians during my childhood, now I know better.

Unfortunately, African Americans have endured the same sort of irony, hypocrisy, negative depiction and imagery as Native Americans. Many white people in this country do not have regular contact with black people, so television often forms their opinion of who were are.

Fairy Tale Myth

The myth usually goes a little something like this:

Pilgrims came to America, in order to escape religious persecution in England. Living conditions proved difficult in the New World, but thanks to the friendly Indian, Squanto, the pilgrims learned to grow corn, and survive in unfamiliar lands. It wasn’t long before the Indians and the pilgrims became good friends. To celebrate their friendship and abundant harvest, Indians in feathered headbands joined together with the pilgrims and shared in a friendly feast of turkey and togetherness. Happy Thanksgiving. The End.

From this account, the unsuspecting child might assume a number of things. First, they may assume that pilgrims merely settled the New World, innocently, and as a persecuted people, they arrived to America with pure and altruistic intentions. Second, children might assume, and rightfully so, that Indians and pilgrims were friends, and that this friendship must have laid the framework for this “great American nation.”

Most history books portrayed Native Americans at the gathering as supporting players. They are depicted as nameless, faceless, generic “Indians” who merely shared a meal with the intrepid Pilgrims. The real story is much deeper, richer, and more nuanced. The Indians in attendance, the Wampanoag, played a lead role in this historic encounter, and they had been essential to the survival of the colonists during the newcomers’ first year.

Betrayal and Genocide

So let’s take a look at a different version of history; a fuller version:

One day, the Wampanoag people of the Eastern coast of the Americas noticed unfamiliar people in their homelands. These unfamiliar people were English pilgrims, coming to a new land which they dubbed “America,” in order to settle and create a new life.

The Wampanoag were initially uneasy with the settlers, but they eventually engaged in a shaky relationship of commerce and exchange. Also, in observing that the pilgrims nearly died from a harsh winter, the Wampanoag stepped in to help.

The Wampanoag chief, Massasoit, eventually entered into agreements with the pilgrims, and, on behalf of the Wampanoag Nation, decided to be allies while each nation coexisted in the same space together. At one time, the Wampanoag and pilgrims shared in a meal of wildfowl, deer, and shellfish.

After Massasoit’s death, the Wampanoag nation became weakened as a result of disease contracted from the English. It wasn’t long before the pilgrims began tormenting surrounding tribes, burning entire villages to the ground, while indigenous men, women, and children lie sleeping.

Uneasy with the growing cruelty, greed, and arrogance of the new people in their homelands, the Wampanoag began to distrust the pilgrims. The pilgrims soon demanded that the Wampanoag submit to them, and give up all their weapons.

Shortly after, the pilgrims and Wampanoag were at war, and in the end, the pilgrims rose victorious. At the close of the war, the Wampanoag were nearly decimated, and the son of Chief Massasoit, Metacom, was killed by the pilgrims, dismembered, beheaded, and his head impaled on a spear outside of Plymouth. Metacom’s young son was sent to the West Indies as a slave, along with numerous other Wampanoag and surrounding tribes.

A day of Thanksgiving was declared, and to celebrate, the pilgrims kicked the heads of dead Indigenous peoples around like soccer balls.

As indigenous nations throughout America were continually betrayed by European settlers, killed by disease, germ warfare, hunted for bounties, sent overseas as slaves, and ultimately pushed out of their homelands and onto prison camps (now commonly known as reservations), few survived the depressing conditions. As a result of centuries of historical trauma, indigenous nations today have staggering rates of depression, mental health disparities, suicide, and deaths due to alcohol and drugs. Indigenous people continue to struggle to cope with historical trauma, and heal deeply imbedded wounds which stem directly from colonialism.

The Wampanoag were a people with a sophisticated society who had occupied the region for thousands of years. They had their own government, their own religious and philosophical beliefs, their own knowledge system, and their own culture. They were also a people for whom giving thanks was a part of daily life.

Like the Wampanoag, thousands of Native American nations and
communities across the continent had their own histories and
cultures. Native Americans have lost almost everything– their ancestral lands, dignity, and even their culture.

Before the Wampanoags met the English colonists, they
had interacted with other Native people politically,
socially, culturally, and economically. They had exchanged
goods and materials, as well as foods, food technologies, and
techniques for hunting, gathering, and food preparation. So when
the Wampanoag came into contact with the English, they already
had a long history of dealing with other cultures.

The first interaction with the Wampanoags  in 1620
enabled the English colony’s survival. Although the English were
interlopers, the Wampanoags shared their land, food, and
knowledge of the environment. Early cooperation and respect
between the two groups were short-lived, however, as
white settlers wanted to expand their land holdings. This would be the history of most relationships between Natives and non-Natives for the next two hundred years.

Even so, Native American contributions continued to be
essential to the survival of Europeans. If not for the generosity
and knowledge of the Native peoples who met the explorers
Lewis and Clark during their travels in the Northwest from
1804 to 1806, their expedition probably would have ended in
disaster.

Ultimately, Native encounters with Europeans resulted
in the loss of entire Native communities, traditional ways of life,
indigenous knowledge, and access to foods that had sustained
Native people for thousands of years. War, genocide, disease,
dispossession of lands, and deceitful federal policies
profoundly affected American Indian communities and their
environments.

While glossing over the very real consequences of colonialism, the mythical version of Thanksgiving creates a fairytale of land theft, betrayal, brutality, and genocide, virtually functioning to erase the very real and traumatic experiences of entire indigenous nations. This phenomena of whitewashing and outright erasure of indigenous history, in many instances, is not only inhumane and oppressive to the indigenous people, but it is also unfair to all Americans who stand to learn from rich and equally tragic history.

Without question, colonialism is great for the colonizer, and disastrous for the colonized. Colonization reduces entire populations, and leaves generational wounds that linger stubbornly for centuries. This is a lesson that all Americans must heed.

As a result of propagating the mythical version of Thanksgiving, American children and adults alike, become confused about history, and moreover the Thanksgiving lie outright prevents a collective American understanding of the contemporary struggles of Native American people today.

Excerpts from an Indian Country article were used in this post.

Federal Prosecution of Gun Crimes, The New Mass Incarceration Tool?

In June 2015, the City of St. Louis announced that more homicide and gun possession cases would be turned over to federal prosecutors. This seemed to be an eerily familiar tactic of using demographics to covertly target a specific race for criminal prosecution and mass incarceration. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Federal criminal cases usually begin with Federal law enforcement, not state level police.

Missouri Constitution Changes

The Missouri Constitutional Amendment 5, which 60 percent of voters supported this summer, declares the right to keep and bear arms “unalienable” and subjects laws restricting gun rights to “strict scrutiny.”

See: Article I, Section 23, of the Missouri Constitution
The measure amended Article 1, Section 23 to read as:

Section 23. "That the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms, ammunition, and accessories typical to the normal function of such arms, in defense of his home, person, family and property, or when lawfully summoned in aid of the civil power, shall not be questioned; but this shall not justify the wearing of concealed weapons. The rights guaranteed by this section shall be unalienable.  Any restriction on these rights shall be subject to strict scrutiny and the state of Missouri shall be obligated to uphold these rights and shall under no circumstances decline to protect against their infringement. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the general assembly from enacting general laws which limit the rights of convicted violent felons or those duly adjudged mentally infirm by a court of competent jurisdiction."

Residents now have the right to keep ammunition and accessories, as well as the right to defend their families with firearms — a right previously limited to defending home, property and person. The amendment also repeals wording that states that the right to bear arms does not justify carrying concealed weapons.

Lawmakers can still pass laws limiting the rights of convicted violent felons and people with mental illnesses.

Gun rights taken too far?

I legally own a gun, but I did not vote for the amendment, I believe the right to bear arms has been extended too far. When the right to bear arms was written into the constitution, the United States was still a frontier nation. Owning a gun for protection, hunting for food and fur were survival necessities. There was also a lack of organized law enforcement, so the citizens policed themselves. The newly formed nation was still in a state of war and an armed population was considered necessary for its defense.

Guns during the late 18th century usually only shot one round before having to be reloaded and it took considerable time and effort by today's standard. The revolver didn't exist until 50 years later and the Gatling gun, the first rapid fire gun came during the civil war. When the right to bear arms was included, Congress couldn't have conceived of the automatic and assault weapons easily available today. In the era of military drones, individuals being armed will do little against government tyranny.

Having the right to bear arms doesn't mean having the right to bear any type of weapon that exists. When someone starts manufacturing drone-mounted weapons, will Americans have a right to bear those as well? After all, drone weapons would make it easier for hunters to find and kill their prey.

I believe the right to bear arms as it currently exists is outdated and needlessly causes people to die. Gun rights including conceal and carry, make it more difficult for law enforcement to determine, who is carrying because of a legitimate sense of self-defense and who is carrying for criminal intent. If the only people allowed to carry weapons were law enforcement officers, by default, everyone else carrying weapons would be considered criminals.

It's harder to detect when someone has a gun for the wrong reason, people who should not have them can easily blend in with legitimate gun owners and that is where the danger lies. Legal gun ownership is the only reason there are so many illegal guns. People either steal legally obtain guns from others, or people purchase guns legally and sell them to others who intend to commit crimes with them.

Rights For All

However, since they do exist, those gun rights should apply to everyone equally. Selective Federal prosecution could result in a situation where certain groups of people are enjoying gun rights and others are denied that right. Just as the "War on Drugs" was unequally applied, it's easy to see how the practice of federally prosecuting gun crimes could be.

The race issue won't be just that the judge is going, "Oh, a black man, I'm gonna sentence you higher", the police will go into low-income minority neighborhoods and that's where they will make most of their gun possession arrests. If they arrest you, now you have a prior, so if you plead or get arrested again, you're gonna have a higher sentence. There's a kind of cumulative effect. The same thing happened during the "War on Drugs".

St. Louis prosecutors could seek prosecution in federal court in cases that otherwise would be tried in St. Louis Circuit Court, an area with substantial minority populations.   Because the federal districts are much larger – they are made up of many counties – they are predominately white.  Crimes that are usually prosecuted in state courts can be prosecuted in federal courts based on any “federal interest” such as a carjacking.

In the report, Racial Disparities in Federal Prosecution (PDF), the following was stated: "Unwarranted racial disparities in decision-making may result from outright conscious animus, including the use of race-neutral criteria (such as class or geography) as a pretext for impermissible consideration of race, or from unconscious racial stereotyping."

"One former U.S. Attorney explained the complicated relationship between federal prosecutors and local law enforcement, in which federal prosecutorial decisions may be influenced by the decisions of local agents: “Where [law enforcement] … wants to get a quick statistic is often where … the racial disparity occurs. It’s a lot easier to go out to the ’hood, so to speak, and pick somebody than to put your resources in an undercover [operation in a] community where there are potentially politically powerful people.”

War on Drugs

During the "War on Black People," disguished as a "War on Drugs", that began with Nixon, exploded under Reagan and continued under Bush and Clinton; a very expensive drug, originally considered the affluent drug of choice, cocaine, was used to create a new cheap substance called "crack" cocaine.

Crack Epidemic

Demographically, crack users were mostly black, powdered cocaine users were mostly white. One might wonder how the legal penalties for crack ended up being 100 times worse than powdered coke.

Congress had been whipped into a frenzy by the drug-related death of basketball star Len Bias, which led to an overhaul of drug laws. It was widely reported that Bias died from a crack overdose. During hearings on the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, Congress heard bogus testimony from Johnny St. Valentine Brown, a narcotics cop who testified (with no actual evidence) that crack was 100 times worse and more addictive and damaging than regular cocaine.

Brown presented himself as an experienced narco-cop and a trained pharmacist, with several glowing letters of recommendation from important judges. Based on Brown's testimony, Congress included a 100:1 disparity in sentencing in crack vs coke, and it's widely seen as the first major push in the disastrous War on Drugs.

It was later discovered that Len Bias had actually died from regular cocaine, not crack. Years later in 2000, Brown plead guilty to perjury charges. Johnny St. Valentine Brown was convicted for lying about most of his credentials. He was never trained in pharmacology, and his recommendation letters were forgeries.

During his sentencing, Brown submitted several letters to the sentencing judge, in a bid for a more lenient sentence. After giving Brown a favorable sentence, the Judge contacted each of the letter-writers to thank them for interest in Brown's case. However, it was learned that Brown had counterfeited each of the letters and the supposed writers were "stunned" to learn of the forgeries. Brown was then charged with contempt of court and ordered to stand trial for the forgeries.

Heroin Epidemic

The fastest growing demographic of drug addicts are white communities. Suddenly instead of criminalizing drug use, now we want to treat it as a disease.

Instead of derogatory terms such as "crackhead", "abuser" and "junkie" to describe drug users when they were black; media now uses terms such as "chemically dependent", "psychological dependence on a drug" and "substance use disorder" to describe white drug addicts.

Drug addicts are now suddenly considered "patients" to be treated rather than "criminals" to be jailed. Below are some news articles announcing the demographics of heroin.

"When It Comes To Illegal Drug Use, White America Does The  Crime, Black America Gets The Time"

"America's typical heroin user is now a white woman in the suburbs"

"Heroin Use Surges, Especially Among Women And Whites"

Unfortunately, black folks believed the lies that were told, were quick to jump on the "crack" bandwagon and agreed that tougher sentences for drug users were the right thing to do. Too bad a whole generation of black men were jailed, often without treatment before society determined drug addiction is more of a medical than a criminal condition.

Dual Sovereignty and Double Jeopardy

There's a fifth amendment protection against double jeopardy right? Yes, but there are exceptions. Under the right circumstances, you can be tried twice for the same crime!

Double jeopardy only applies to one jurisdiction at a time. A state government cannot bring a second prosecution against you for the same state crime once you've been acquitted. The same goes for the federal government regarding a federal offense. If the offense if both a state and federal crime, a person can be legally tried more than once for the same crime.

The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides: "[N]or shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb . . . ."The four essential protections included are prohibitions against, for the same offense:

  1. retrial after an acquittal;
  2. retrial after a conviction;
  3. retrial after certain mistrials; and
  4. multiple punishment

Dual Sovereignty allows the double prosecution of a person by more than one state for the same crime, where both states have jurisdiction for the prosecution, and notwithstanding the double jeopardy rule.

"The dual sovereignty doctrine is founded on the common-law conception of crime as an offense against the sovereignty of the government. When a defendant in a single act violates the peace and dignity of two sovereigns by breaking the laws of each, he has committed two distinct offenses." Heath v. Alabama, 474 US 82 (1985).

The other issues become, if the Federal prosecution fails to secure a conviction, the City could then prosecute under Missouri's sovereignty rather than Federal. In United States v. Lanza, 260 US 377 (1922), in a case involving prosecution of liquor prohibition, the courts recognized the separate sovereignty of both state and Federal courts.

What to watch for

Watch to see who this tactic is used against. If it is only used against black defendants or mostly when the victim is white, that could indicate racial bias.

Prosecutors are afforded a great deal of power and are often consider the most powerful participant in the judicial process; so it's important to monitor the prosecutor's actions so you can make informed decisions during elections.

New Orleans Example

Federal prosecutors have repeatedly sought the death penalty in New Orleans, Richmond, St. Louis and Prince Georges County, Maryland, where African Americans make up the majority of the population in the county and the jury pools. The decision to prosecute federally in these jurisdictions alters the racial makeup of the jury pools from predominantly black to predominantly white. Those same federal prosecutors seldom seek the death penalty for crimes that occur in counties with largely white populations.

For example, the decision to federally prosecute three men for a murder that occurred during a bungled bank robbery in Orleans Parish in January of 2004, transformed the jury pool from one that was predominantly African American to a jury pool that was predominantly white. Indeed, ten of the jurors that sentenced John Wayne Johnson to death in that case were not from Orleans Parish, but from the white-flight parishes that gave rise to the election of white supremacist David Duke to the state legislature, the re-appearance of the Ku Klux Klan, and the appointment of a Justice of the Peace who refused to certify interracial marriages.

Black Prosecutors

St. Louis is roughly 48% black and 47% white according to the most recent census data, but the prosecutors of both the circuit and municipal court levels are white. Missouri county prosecutors are 99% white. There is only one black elected county prosecutor in the entire state; Shane Farrow in Moniteau County Missouri. Unfortunately, Mr. Farrow is being prosecuted himself for an accident that occurred, ironically in Columbia, MO, which recently gain national attention for racial discrimination.

Recent incidents in Ferguson, New York, Baltimore and most recently Columbia demonstrate the racial bias and divide that exist within our society. White prosecutors have historically been quicker to  bring charges against black suspects, especially when the evidence may not be compelling. The said reality is that many low-income defendants, even those that are innocent, may plead guilty to avoid the possibility of longer sentences.

See the Kansas City Star article, "Study finds that Missouri and Kansas prosecutors are overwhelmingly white".

Kilwa Jones

Kilwa Jones will be prosecuted in federal court for the robbery and shooting of Chris Sanna. Sanna was paralyzed when he was shot after leaving Busch Stadium with his girlfriend near the end of a Cardinals baseball game. Since the crime was committed on federal property, the prosecution can occur in federal court.

Let's not make the same mistake made during the "crack" frenzy. During my fifty years on Earth, I've lost family members and friends, including Lorenzo Rodgers, a St. Louis City Police Officer, to gun violence. I mentioned a retired army friend on a page concerning Uplands Park, MO; that friend was Lorenzo's cousin, which is how Lorenzo and I met.

Former police chief Clarence Harmon, then a Major, tried to recruit me to the department after Lorenzo's funeral. Had it not been for the fact that I had just attended my friend's funeral, I may have explored that option. I attended college with Harmon's son Steve, a retired police officer, and lawyer that announced in April that he might run for prosecutor.

I understand how enticing it can be to jump on the first available solution, but not a solution that does more harm than good. Let us not exchange "crack" with "gun possession" as the new mass incarceration tool. We shouldn't allow prosecutors to selectively prosecute.

Blacks Suffering Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome?

Are black people in American suffering from a collective unrecognized and untreated mental disease caused by slavery, reinforced by Jim Crow and perpetuated by institutionalized racism?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

After years of continuous war, most of us are familiar with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). When in danger, it’s natural to feel afraid. This fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to prepare to defend against the danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from harm. But in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this reaction is changed or damaged. PTSD was first brought to public attention in relation to war veterans, but it can result from a variety of traumatic incidents, such as mugging, rape, torture, being kidnapped or held captive, child abuse, car accidents, train wrecks, plane crashes, bombings, or natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes.

Stockholm Syndrome

During a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden, several bank employees were held hostage in a bank vault from August 23 to 28, 1973, while their captors negotiated with police. During this standoff, the victims became emotionally attached to their captors, rejected assistance from government officials at one point, and even defended their captors after they were freed from their six-day ordeal.

This phenomenon has come to be known as Stockholm syndrome, a psychological disorder in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of identifying with the captors. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness. A similar psychological trait may lie behind battered-wife syndrome, military basic training and fraternity hazing.

Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome

Sister Souljah's intro to her 1995 recording, "Final Solution: Slavery Back in Effect", which imagines a police state where blacks fight the re-institution of slavery, stated:

If your white great-great grandfather
KILLED my great-great grandfather
And your white great grandfather
SOLD my great grandfather
And your white grandfather
RAPED my grandmother
And your father stole, cheated, lied and ROBBED my father
What kind of fool would I have to be to say,
“Come, my friend!” to the white daughter and son?

What happens to a group of people when they have been subjected to more than two centuries of slavery, another century of slavery by another name, and then a half century of  institutional prejudice and oppression?

Dr. Joy de Gruy Leary makes a compelling argument, which is roughly a connection between PTSD and Stockholm Syndrome to explain some behaviors of Black Americans who have suffered almost 400 years of trauma under slavery, Jim Crow, systemic racism and negative media imagery.

 

Are some police officers addicted to killing?

Is it possible that some police killings of unarmed people happen because there are some police officers who are addicted to killing?

The United States has been continually at war since 2001. In fact, as the Washington Post pointed out; since its founding, the United States has been at war for 222 Out of 239 Years.

Many of our nation’s police officers are former military personnel. I talked about police brutality in my last post and wondered how many of the officers involved in police shootings were combat veterans. CNN anchor, Brooke Baldwin raised this same question during the Baltimore protests; however, she later apologized for her comments, most likely under pressure, but her point was valid.

Several years ago, the Baltimore Sun published an article, “Veteran’s Essay on Killing“, about an Iraq War veteran who had returned home and enrolled in a community college. In an essay the veteran wrote for an English class he stated the following:

“War is a drug. When soldiers enter the military from day one, they begin to train and are brainwashed to fight and to handle situations in battle. We train and train for combat, and then when we actually go to war, it is reality and worse than what we have trained for. We suffer through different kinds of situations. The Army never taught how to deal with our stress and addictions.”

“War is a drug because when soldiers are in the Infantry, like me, they get used to everything, and fast. I got used to killing and after a while, it became something I really had to do. Killing becomes a drug, and it is really addictive. I had a really hard time with this problem when I returned to the United States because turning this addiction off was impossible. It is not like I have a switch I can just turn off.
It is something that I do not just want, but something I really need so I can feel like myself. Killing a man and looking into his eyes, I see his soul draining from his body; I am taking away his life for the harm he has caused me, my family, my country.”

“Killing is a drug to me and has been ever since the first time I have killed someone. At first, it was weird and felt wrong, but by the time of the third and fourth killing it feels so natural. It feels like I could do this for the rest of my life and it makes me happy.”

The veteran who wrote the essay is not as far as we know among the veterans in the video, but they do express similar sentiments. One person mentioned how soldiers would plant items around the people they killed, to make the situation seem legitimate.  How many people like this end up on police forces all around the country?

Long History of Police Brutality

Since the inception of policing, police brutality has existed. Policing in the United States has been primarily concerned with the protection of property and began in the early 1600's with slave patrols. During labor movements in the late 1800's and early 1900's, police brutalized workers fighting for decent wages, working conditions and the right to unionize.

Minneapolis – November 2015

Police shootings of unarmed people and incidents of police abusing their authority have provided glaring examples of rampant police brutality. Most recently, a Minneapolis police officer shot an unarmed black man whom several witnesses claim was handcuffed.

Beginning with the civil rights movement in the 1950's and 1960's, police brutality reached new heights and recently incidents of police brutality have been frequently captured on video; a few examples are below.

Malcolm X

More than 50 years ago, Malcolm X stated: “the police commissioner feeds the type of statistics to the white public to make them think that Harlem is a complete criminal area where everyone is prone towards violence. This gives the police the impression that they can then go and brutalize the Negroes, or suppress the Negroes, or even frighten the Negroes.”

“This force that is so visible in the Harlem community it creates a spirit of resentment in every Negro. They think they are living in a police state, and they become hostile toward the policemen. They think that the policeman is there to be against them rather than to protect them. And these thoughts, these frustrations, these apparitions, automatically are sufficient to make these Negroes begin to form means and ways to protect themselves in case the police themselves get too far out of line.”

Malcolm X could make the same argument today about Ferguson, New York, Baltimore or any number of cities or recent incidents.

Watts Riots

On August 11, 1965, a black driver, Marquette Frye, was arrested for drunk-driving, the driver's mother, Rena Price, got involved and Mr. Frye, a passenger, and Ms. Price were arrested. The treatment by the police caused anger to onlookers. Rumors spread that the police had roughed Frye up and kicked a pregnant woman; angry mobs formed and the situation escalated and suddenly turned into a riot.

The second night of the riots, comedian and civil rights activist, Dick Gregory tried to calm down the crowds, he was shot in the leg. Mr. Gregory, who was born and raised in St. Louis, discusses the incident below and makes a very interesting observation about police brutality.

Thirty-four people were killed, and more than 1,000 injured, during the riots that lasted six days.

Black Panthers

In October of 1966, the Black Panther Party for Self Defense was created in response to challenge police brutality in Oakland, California and their movement spread across the country.  The original purpose was to arm black men to patrol their neighborhoods and monitor the behavior of police officers.  In 1969, community social programs, including free breakfast for children, and community health clinics became core activities of Black Panther Party members.

Black Panther membership peaked in 1970, with offices in 68 cities and thousands of members.

Huey P. Newton Gun Club

The Huey P. Newton Gun Club has formed in South Dallas, Texas utilizing the state's open carry law to patrol their neighborhood in the spirit of the Black Panthers. The group was started by two former Army Rangers and they have begun drills and training others in self-defense. See article for addition information.

The movie Panther (1995) portrays the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, tracing the organization from its founding through its decline. Creative license is taken but the general trajectory of the Party and its experiences is factual.

Rodney King – Los Angeles Riot

In 1991, the first videotaped incident of police brutality went viral. The beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police was broadcast worldwide and clearly showed Los Angeles police engaged in excessive force and a Los Angeles grand jury indicted four of the police officers.

The California Court of Appeals granted a change of venue to the city of Simi Valley, citing potential contamination due to saturated media coverage. Simi Valley was predominantly white and the jury consisted of 10 white members and no black jurors.

All four white officers involved were acquitted on April 29, 1992, and people began rioting after the verdict was given, resulting in over 2,000 injuries, 53 deaths and nearly $1 billion in financial losses. The riots ended when the California national guard was called in.  The riots resulted in federal civil rights prosecution and two of the four officers were convicted and imprisoned.

Sister Souljah, a raptivist, appeared on an episode of Bill Cosby's "A Different World", and expressed sentiments held by many; which still ring true today.

The Issue Is Race

Months after the verdict in the Rodney King case and riots in Los Angele, Phil Donahue hosted a PBS special, "The Issue Is Race: A Crisis in Black and White". It's disheartening to watch this show from more than 20 years ago because many of the exact same issues are still major problems today.

Slavery Back in Effect

Slavery was so profitable that it fueled the wealth and independence that made the United States a world power. This country that describes itself as the land of the free has never fully made good on that promise. During the last decade of slavery, slaves seeking freedom were given the diagnosis of Drapetomania,  a supposed mental illness,which caused black slaves to flee captivity.

After the Civil War, and the North's abandonment of reconstruction, a new form of oppression, Jim Crow, created conditions not far removed from slavery.  According to legal scholar Michelle Alexander’s best-selling book "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness", there are more Black men under some form of correctional supervision (incarceration or probation) now than were enslaved prior to the Civil War.

In 1995, Sister Souljah released the video, "Final Solution: Slavery Back in Effect", which imagines a police state where blacks fight against the re-institution of slavery; the video was banned by MTV.

Sister Souljah during an interview about the Rodney King/ LA Uprisings that occurred earlier that year was quoted as saying ‘If Black people kill Black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?’.. her remarks were connected to a much longer response and in full context makes sense, but isolated subjected her to criticism. Sister Souljah provided a jarring response to Governor Bill Clinton's negative comments about her in 1992 made while he was running for president.

School Psychology Weaponized

Mental diagnosis is once again being used against black students. African American students are disproportionately represented in special education. 85% of all special education students receive drugs. African American males are only 3% of the public school population, yet they make up 30% of students separated from the “normal” students in school by placement into special education. See Dr. Umar Johnson, a nationally known school psychologist, comments about black children in special education.

The labeling of these students is sabotaging and endangering their education, destroying futures and leading to increased mass incarceration; the last form of legalized slavery.

Policing without deadly force

Somehow police in other countries can successfully capture suspects wielding weapons without resorting to deadly force.

UK man with a knife is taken down by a couple of police officers with pepper spray and police clubs.

A black man with knife captured in London by police using a taser. This man would have certainly been killed in the United States.

Below a man with a machete, who appears to be under the influence of drugs is taken down by police alive using plastic riot shields.

The fact that so many police officers were devoted to capturing the man with the machete may seem like a waste of manpower, however, in the U.S., when a person is killed by police; a similar number of officers often arrive at the scene and remain much longer processing the scene, logging evidence, and crowd control.

UK Traffic Cops Arrest Suspect Trying to Run Away

The video camera is our greatest weapon against police brutality. Police unions across the country are fighting body cameras, so the question must be posed; what is it they don't want people seeing? Continue pressing your alderman, mayor and other politicians for mandatory police body cameras. Record encounters you witness of police, use ACLU mobile app. You never know when the next innocent victim will be you, your child, friend or neighbor!

Mizzou Protesters, Great Job!

It was refreshing to witness the moral courage displayed by Mizzou football players as they supported Jonathan Butler’s hunger strike and the other peaceful protesters standing up against racial discrimination. Their example is having ripple effects on college campuses all around the country.

The root of racism is money! Exploitation based on racial oppression is very profitable. Threat of economic reprisal is an effective tool, often used to further oppress those who would dare complain about their conditions.  Many people who disagreed with the protest commented that the football players should have lost their “free ride” scholarships.

Mizzou’s football program earns $31 million per year in revenue. Players bring years of developed talent, endure grueling practice sessions, and risk serious injury during each game. Since Mizzou earns almost 344K per player after scholarships; “free ride” is the wrong term, “exploitation” is the better description. Those football players understood their collective power.

Oppressed people can be easily exploited and the oppressor will reap enormous economic benefits and advantages. Oppressors will not voluntarily stop, the oppressed must take action!  The oppressor will use any resource at their disposal to continue the status quo. They will hire spies, spread rumors and attempt to discredit protest leaders to divide and conquer.

Historically, just about every effective protest has  been economically disruptive or violent. When football players joined forces with protesters, it threatened to inflict serious financial harm to Mizzou and resulted in immediate action. Similarly, the Ferguson protest resulted in rapid policing and court reforms because the City of Ferguson, St. Louis County and the State of Missouri faced serious economic threats of property damage and other astronomical cost.

People are rediscovering their sense of community and hopefully that will continue. United we stand, divided we fall; and the strategy is always to keep us divided.

 

Black gangs, honorary Ku Klux Klan members?

Media propaganda in print, music and video has brainwashed society to believe all young black men are criminals. Unfortunately, many young black men have bought into this conditioning and feel their options are limited or that they have none.

When you kill another black man, you're doing a favor for your enemy! As of November 3rd, there were 169 murders in the City of St. Louis; 154 of the victims were black and over 100 were in their 20's or younger. White supremacy groups such as the KKK, Skinheads, Aryan Nation and others consider you fools for doing what they used to do. You're participating in your own genocide!

kkk gangstas

On Monday, November 2nd, Tyshawn Lee, a 9 year old Chicago boy was killed during a confrontation between two revival gangs. By Thursday, November 5th, Chicago police announced they believed the 9 year old was targeted. Even for murderers, specifically targeting children, is a new low. I'm sure white supremacist everywhere are doing high fives.

Don't be stupid, stop doing what your enemies want.  If you can make money selling an illegal product, that means you have marketing, selling and customer service skills. Think how much more money you could make using those skills selling a product you don't have to hid from police. There is a genius inside of you, don't believe the  lie you've been told all your life.

If you're a young black man and feel lost, go to any responsible or smart adult, explain your situation and ask them to help or help you find someone who can help you if they cannot. If you don't have anyone in your life that you can go to, ask a teacher, police officer, librarian, boy's club or youth center, pastor, business owner, friend's parent, barber, or any other available person, even a stranger. If the first person you approach can't help, don't stop, keep asking, you will find someone willing to help. If all else fails, use our contact page to tell us your story, we'll publish it on our site, without your name or contact information and maybe someone will reach out to help.


Who have you helped today?

Successful adults; what have you done to help some young person succeed? Share you knowledge with someone else.

Don't simply talk about our sons, brothers and nephews being thugs, do something to help! Some of you may have suits that no longer fit that you can donate for job interviews. Maybe you have a job opening and are willing to take a chance with at risk youths.


KKK Letter to Gangbangers

The Metro Star newspaper was published between 2003 and 2011 in Tulsa, Omaha and published the article, "A Salute to all Gang Bangers".

gang bangers clip

The following editorial is a reprint of a letter whose author is unknown. This letter has been circulating in the states of Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas for several months. It started to appear in the Omaha Public Schools and in the Black community three weeks ago. The editorial staff of the Metro Star felt its content and availability should be shared with our readers. 

“The Ku Klux Klan would like to take this time to salute and congratulate all Gang Bangers for the slaughter of over 4,000 Black people since 1975.

You are doing a marvelous job! Keep killing each other for nothing. The streets are still not yours, Niggers. Its ours. You are killing each other for our property.

You are killing what could be future Black doctors, lawyers, and businessmen that we won’t have to compete with; and the good thing about it is that you are killing the youth. So now we won’t have to worry about you Niggers in generations to come. We would further like to thank all the judges who have ever sentenced those Niggers to prison.

We are winning again. Pretty soon we will be able to go back to raping your woman because all the men would be gone.

So you Gang Bangers….Keep up the good work. We love to read about the drive-by shootings. We love to hear how many Niggers get killed over the weekends. We can tolerate the Niggers with Jungle Fever (for now)….because that further breaks down your race.

To all Gang Bangers across the world. We don’t love you Niggers but we can appreciate your Gang Bangers. You are doing a wonderful job in eliminating the Black race.

Without the men, your woman cannot reproduce…unless of course, we do it for them. Then we will have successfully eliminated a race thanks to your help and commitment to killing each other.

If most of you Nigger Gang Bangers cannot read this letter, it is OK. Go pull a trigger and kill a Nigger!!!

Thank you


The drawings above were not part of the newspaper article; they were added for visual emphasis. The video below is an interview with “KKK – Kin Killin’ Kin” series artist James Pate, the artist whose artwork is shown above. Pate showcases a negative social reality by contrasting behaviors of youths while depicted  in traditional Ku Klux Klan garments.