Trump White House Taking ‘Marching Orders’ from Hundreds of CEOs: Report

'One of every five of the corporate executives who met with the Trump administration within the first 100 days represented the banking or financial sector'

"President Trump not only has betrayed the promises of candidate Trump by failing to break up the special-interest monopoly in Washington, D.C., he has invited the special interests into the White House and asked them for guidance on how to deepen and perpetuate their monopoly." (Photo: Mike Maguire/flickr/cc)

Since his inauguration, President Donald Trump has met with at least 190 corporate executives, not including phone calls with heads of banks or his numerous Wall Street appointees, the watchdog group Public Citizen reported Monday in a new analysis.

And since the November election itself, he's met with at least 224.

"One of every five of the corporate executives who met with the Trump administration within the first 100 days represented the banking or financial sector, a particular focus of Trump's criticism during the campaign," Public Citizen noted in a write-up of its findings.

The group's report comes just days after the Trump administration announced it would not disclose visitor logs from the White House, Trump Towers, or the president's Mar-a-Lago resort to the public.

With those documents unavailable, Public Citizen developed its analysis via news reports and White House press releases.

The gatherings reflect the administration's interest in giving special treatment to corporate sectors, such as Big Pharma, banks, and the automotive industry, among others—and it's yet another example of Trump breaking his "drain the swamp" campaign promises, Public Citizen said.

"Donald Trump has asked America's CEOs for marching orders, and in meeting after meeting, they are happily issuing instructions," said the group's president Robert Weissman. "As best anyone can decipher what's going on at the White House, the CEOs are in charge now—and they are predictably advocating their narrow, short-term profitability interests, not what's in America's interest."

Sheldon Adelson, David Koch, and Carl Lindner III are among the wealthy benefactors that Trump has met with in his first 100 days; he's also entertained JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Andrew Liveris of Dow Chemical, and Doug McMillon of Wal-Mart, along with four separate executives from Fox News.

"President Trump not only has betrayed the promises of candidate Trump by failing to break up the special-interest monopoly in Washington, D.C., he has invited the special interests into the White House and asked them for guidance on how to deepen and perpetuate their monopoly," Weissman said.

Republished with permission under license from CommonDreams

‘Informed Delivery’ From The US Postal Service – New Potential Evidence

The United Stated Postal Service now offers a service called 'Informed Delivery.' With Informed Delivery, the USPS is able to scan your mail each day and send images directly to you.

Informed Delivery is Expanding Nationwide!

Informed Delivery was previously only available to eligible residential consumers in select ZIP Codes™ of several major metropolitan areas, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Northern Virginia, and Washington DC. Starting today, April 14th, Informed Delivery will be available in remaining ZIP Codes covering the majority of the United States, as shown on this map.

Informed delivery is free, but you must sign up for it and it is available only to residential consumers who have mail delivered to their homes and is not currently being provided to businesses.

New Form of Evidence

I'm looking forward to informed delivery which should prove to be a valuable new form of evidence in court cases. 

Whenever pleadings, motions or other documents are filed in court, the opposing side is supposed to be given a copy of whatever is filed. A certificate of delivery is usually required to be attached to the court filed documents certifying that the opposing side was mailed, email, hand delivered or otherwise given an exact copy of the documents. 

Some court documents, such as a motion for summary judgment must be responded to in writing and filed within a certain number of days; otherwise, the allegations contain within the motion for summary judgment are deemed admitted and the side that request the motion automatically wins.

I've had several situations as a pro se (self-represented) litigant, where an attorney has claimed to have mailed me documents that never arrived. I have suspected in certain instances that the documents were never actually mailed, most likely so that I wouldn't respond in a timely manner, resulting in the motion being granted, often resulting in the case being lost. 

Before informed delivery, there was absolutely no evidence that the other side did not mail the documents, it was simply their word against mine. Additionally, the opposing side could argue that even if I hadn't received the mailed documents, they could have been misdelivered or otherwise lost. Now with informed delivery, if there is no record of the letter containing the documents, a stronger point can be made in court that the documents were never mailed and the certificate of service was a false statement. 

It's been my experience that judges seem to be biased in favor of attorneys rather than pro se litigants and tend to side with the attorney who claims they did actually mail the documents. Informed delivery is a game changer.

At this time, images will be provided for letter-sized mailings that are processed through automated equipment. The plan is to include images of larger flat-sized mailings, such as magazines and catalogs, in the future. All USPS® customers have access to USPS Tracking® that enables them to track their household’s packages. Visit My USPS® for additional details on personalized package tracking.

An email will be generated each day your household receives mail that is processed through USPS®automation equipment. If no mail is processed through automation that day, you will not receive an Informed Delivery notification. Notifications are not sent on days when there is no mail to be delivered, or on Sundays or federal holidays.

Keep in mind it will also be harder for you to claim you mailed something if you didn't and it may be harder to deny you didn't receive certain mail if the post office has a record that it was scheduled to be delivered.

Only time will tell if judges or the rules of evidence will allow this new technology to be used as evidence.

Use the ZIP Code lookup tool to check if Informed Delivery is available in your area:

Get up to 10 mail piece images in your morning email, which can be viewed on any computer or a smartphone. Get more mail than that? Additional images are available for viewing on your online dashboard – in the same place you track your packages! Don't worry if you are on travel; if you have email or online access, you can see much of the mail that will be delivered to your mailbox.

If you suspect your mail is stolen, you will know exactly what is missing when filing a police report.

Asians we stand, United they fall: Lessons for African-Americans

The Asian man who on Sunday was dragged off a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Louisville, for refusing to give up his seat, has been a public relations disaster for the airline, especially in China.

There was early speculation in China that the victim was Chinese. He has now been identified as David Dao, a 69-year-old Kentucky physician of Vietnamese origin, but the fact that the man was Asian is a strong theme in much of the Chinese social media response. By the end of Tuesday afternoon in China, there had been over 200 million views on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, for the hashtag #UnitedForcesPassengerOffPlane and a lot of people called for a boycott.

According to Vincent Ni, an editor at BBC Chinese, the reaction on Chinese social media has been one of widespread outrage. It’s been very overwhelming, and most of the comments are very angry towards United Airlines. "A lot of people involved in these discussions mention race — a lot. That is part of the big reason why it has attracted so much attention."

Dr. Dao suffered a concussion, broken nose, damaged sinuses and lost two front teeth when he was pulled from his seat and dragged off the flight according to his lawyer, Thomas Demetrio.

China is the most populous nation on Earth and is one of the largest aviation markets in the world. United Airline is the largest US carrier in China and operates 20 percent of the routes between China and the US.

Lessons for African-Americans

Asians didn't wait for an investigation, the video told them everything they needed to know. They didn't march or protest, they quickly united together by calling for a boycott against United. 

The strong reaction by Asians and others prompted United Airlines to quickly change their narrative. The went from blaming the passenger to apologizing and admitting that they did something wrong. 

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz originally said the passenger was "disruptive and belligerent" and employees "followed established procedures," and told employees he "emphatically" stood behind them. By Tuesday, Munoz stated: 

"The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment. I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened. Like you, I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way.

"I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right.

"It's never too late to do the right thing. I have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what's broken so this never happens again."

United We Stand, Divide we Fall

How many videos of African-Americans being abused or even murdered have we seen with no satisfactory result? Last year we posted, "Where protest fails, violence prevails". As stated then, we need to inflict economic pressure, a sort of consumer violence to get the companies we support to start supporting us back. 

African-American Mizzou football players successfully used economic violence as they supported Jonathan Butler’s hunger strike by threatening not to play. Mizzou could have lost millions of dollars. Public support of WNBA players taking a stand against police shootings was another time economic violence was successful. Unfortunately, African-American commnunities do not more effectively use economic pressure more effectively when members of the community are systemically treated unfairly. 

Until and unless we cause economic pain when African-Americans are abused, we will continue to experience physical and emotional pain caused by police brutality. Additionally, we need to practice Pan-Africanism. The Asian reaction to the abuse of Dr. Dao should serve as an example for African-Americans. When people of African descent in other parts of the world experience crisis, we should react.

Africa was home to the richest man of all time, Masa Musa. Much of Africa's wealth was stolen, including its people, during European colonization. Many of Africa's resources are still under colonial control. Africa currently contains approximately 30 percent of the Earth's remaining mineral resources, including gold, diamonds, and oil. Even though Africa's population has been ravaged by war, political strife, genocide, colonization, drought, hunger, Aids, Ebola and more, it is home to more than 1.2 billion people. 

The United States has a black population of about 43 million. The Black press in the United States needs to build partnerships with the press in Africa and other areas with large concentrations of people of African descent and report about their issues. Syria is not the only nation experiencing a crisis. However, charity starts at home and we need to put our differences behind and work together. Black churches, organizations, activist, celebrities and supporters need to start forming alliances to create a more coordinated response to issues affecting our community. 

As Malcolm X stated in his, "Ballot or the Bullet," speech,

"You and I – as I say, if we bring up religion we’ll have differences; we’ll have arguments; and we’ll never be able to get together. But if we keep our religion at home, keep our religion in the closet, keep our religion between ourselves and our God, but when we come out here, we have a fight that’s common to all of us against an enemy who is common to all of us." 

The United States government routinely dismisses the civil rights and humanitarian issues in African-American communities. The U.S. quickly intercedes in areas such as Syria under the guise of humanitarian relief, but ignores similar or worse situations in Africa. Below are the top countries outside of Africa and the United States with the largest populations of people of African descent.

Unfortunately, people of African descent suffer racism and economic oppression all over the globe. For example in England, although the African population is better educated than the white population, 26 percent of the blacks have had at least some college education compared 13 percent of the whites, however, the black community faces greater unemployment and poverty rates. Data shows that half of Black Africans in the UK live in low-income households compared to 20 percent of white people.

Colonial powers became experts of divide and conquer strategies which to this day prevent people of African descent from joining together to improve their economic and political position. During slavery, African tribes and nations were coerced into the slave trade, Willie Lynch style practices were adopted during slavery, the FBI sabotaged the Marcus Garvey back to Africa movement, white jealousy of Black prosperity resulted in the destruction of Tulsa's Black Wall Street, the government targeted civil rights leaders, black organizations became dependent on donations from white corporations and government funding and are now held hostage by threats of defunding if they work too aggressively on behalf of the oppressed, it is believed that Muammar Gaddafi may have been targeted because he was trying to unite African nations under a single currency backed by the vast resources of Africa.

DeVos Just Put Interests of ‘Predatory Profiteers’ Over Student Loan Borrowers

Memo DeVos sent Tuesday rescinds student loan borrower protections put in place by Obama administration

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday withdrew student loan borrower protections put in place by the Obama administration, a move that steps away from accountability and opens the door for "rogue" servicers, according to critics.

DeVos outlined the change in a memo (pdf) sent to James Runcie, the chief operating officer of Federal Student Aid (FSA), in which she laments "a lack of consistent objectives" and other "shortcomings" in the current loan processing system, which as one observer sees it, was, in fact clear, and "was built to make repaying loans easier."

The Washington Post explains the education secretary's action:

DeVos has withdrawn three memos issued by former education secretary John King and his under secretary Ted Mitchell. One of the directives, which was later updated with another memo, called on Runcie to hold companies accountable for borrowers receiving accurate, consistent and timely information about their debt. The 56-page memo called for the creation of financial incentives for targeted outreach to people at great risk of defaulting on their loans, a baseline level of service for all borrowers and a contract flexible enough to penalize servicers for poor service, among other things.

The Obama administration requested routine audits of records, systems, complaints and a compliance-review process. It also directed Runcie's team to base compensation on response time to answering calls, completing applications for income-driven repayment plans, errors made during communications, and the amount of time it takes to process payments. Another memo insisted FSA consider a company's past performance in divvying up the student loan portfolio.

"The guidelines," Cory Doctorow wrote at BoingBoing, "were enacted after the Government Accountability Office found that the Department of Education's outsourced debt-collectors were cheating borrowers and engaging in other corrupt, negligent, and criminal practices." That oursourcing refers to the fact that "the federal government pays hundreds of millions of dollars to companies such as Navient, Great Lakes, and American Education Services to manage $1.2 trillion in student loans," the Post writes.

Bloomberg writes: "With her memo, DeVos has taken control of the complex and widely derided system in which the federal government collects monthly payments from tens of millions of Americans with government-owned student loans. The CFPB [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau] said in 2015 that the manner in which student loans are collected has been marred by 'widespread failures.'"

According to MarketWatch, the Education Department "is currently in the midst of awarding a new lucrative servicing contract to a single entity," with Navient being a finalist. The CFPB sued that company in January "for systematically and illegally failing borrowers at every stage of repayment." Yet the change ordered by DeVos "could make Navient a more likely contender for that contract, government officials said," Bloomberg adds.

Student loan borrower advocates decried the changes made by DeVos.

It "will certainly increase the likelihood of default," said David Bergeron, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress who worked over three decades at the Education Department, to Bloomberg.

"Secretary DeVos—with the stroke of a pen—has reinstated the Wild West of student loans where servicers get to play by their own rules, and borrowers get fleeced," said American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten.

"Her decision rescinds the most basic protections student debtors have when dealing with servicers, like expecting their bills to be accurate and their payments to be processed on time. And she's opened the door for rogue operators such as Navient, which overcharged service members and veterans millions of dollars, to win even more lucrative government contracts. If Secretary DeVos were serious about curing America's trillion dollar student loan crisis, she would strengthen, not rescind, these protections," she continued.

The development comes less than two weeks after the Education Department said that over 550,000 borrowers who were led to believe that their loans would be forgiven after ten years of work in the public service, may in fact be on the hook for those payments.

"Instead, she is enabling and empowering bad actors. It's just another clear example of Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration putting the interests of predatory profiteers over the needs of the little guy—in this instance, the millions of people trying to go to college or acquire career skills without being crippled by debt," Weingarten said.

The change also drew condemnation from Americans for Financial Reform, a Wall Street accountability nonprofit coalition, which said it moved "the department toward less accountability and worse service for student loan borrowers."

The group continued: "In order to have accountability, there must be real consequences when servicers violate the law. Secretary DeVos's actions today moves us away from true accountability, and creates dangers for the very student loan borrowers the Department is responsible for protecting."

Free Money for College

Republished with permission under license from CommonDreams.

“We’re Coming for You”: Is There a Hidden Agenda to the Florida Sheriff’s Anti-Drug Message?

A viral Facebook video posted by the Lake County Sheriff’s Department in Florida features the sheriff surrounded by four masked officers, their eyes hidden behind sunglasses, their torsos protected by bullet-proof vests, wearing the olive green pants of the military — not the blue of law enforcement. Many on social media have pointed out the similarities to ISIS videos, which usually show a row of masked militants issuing extreme threats to enemies. They look like some sort of para-military hit squad, and that's what Sheriff Peyton Grinnell promises they will be. 

"To the dealers that are pushing this poison, I have a message for you," the sheriff warns. "We're coming for you. As a matter of fact, our undercover agents have already bought heroin from many of you… To the dealers, I say: Enjoy looking over your shoulder, constantly wondering if today is the day we come for you. Enjoy trying to sleep tonight as you wonder if tonight's the night our SWAT team blows your door off its hinges."

Since 90% of heroin users are white and white people are more likely to deal drugs, but most of those arrested for dealing drugs are black, the obvious question is; who is the sheriff's target? Lake County, Florida is 84.3% white and only 10.8% black, however, it's predictable that mostly black suspects will be targeted.

The sheriff's message presumably was designed to be reassuring for the good citizens of Lake County, but the sheriff's promise of increased para-militarized, high-intensity, middle-of-the-night drug raids is anything but, given the record of SWAT raid errors over the years.There's no shortage of news stories about police targeting the wrong house often with disastrous results. 

In the Trump era, the fear that Sheriff Grinnell actions might be the first step in a new war on black people has to be considered. The election of President Trump has emboldened racist to commit overt acts. Recently a woman was denied an Airbnb rental and was specifically told it was because of her race. When the renter said she would report the racist action to Airbnb officials, the host replied: “It’s why we have Trump.”

Auto Insurance Industry Attacks Story about African-Americans Paying Higher Premiums

An industry representative disputed findings that many disparities in auto insurance prices between minority and white neighborhoods are wider than differences in risk can explain. His analysis is flawed.

Earlier this week, ProPublica published an investigation with Consumer Reports in which they found that many minority neighborhoods pay higher car insurance premiums than white areas with the same risk. Their findings were based on analysis of insurance premiums and payouts in California, Illinois, Texas, and Missouri. They found insurers such as Allstate, Geico, and Liberty Mutual were charging premiums that were as much as 30 percent higher in zip codes where most residents are minorities than in whiter neighborhoods with similar accident costs. How to buy auto insurance.

In 2015, Consumer Reports published an article, "Car Insurance Can Cost More in African American Communities," that reached similar conclusions and reported that on average, premium rate quotes for its example driver were 70 percent higher in predominantly African American communities than in communities that are mostly white. 

An industry representative disputed ProPublica's findings that many disparities in auto insurance prices between minority and white neighborhoods are wider than differences in risk can explain. His analysis is flawed. (Here are details on how they did the analysis.)

An industry trade group, the Insurance Information Institute, responded in the Insurance Journal. The piece, by James Lynch, vice president of research and information services, called ProPublic's article “inaccurate, unfair, and irresponsible.” We disagree. As they typically do with their reporting, ProPublica contacted the industry well ahead of publication and gave it an opportunity to review their data and methodology and respond to our findings.

Here is the response ProPublic and Consumer Reports sent to the Insurance Journal.

While we appreciate that Mr. Lynch and the industry may disagree with our findings and conclusions, we want to correct for readers several errors he made in describing our work. In fact, we released a detailed methodology of our study, primarily to be as transparent and forthright as possible about what we did and did not do, and about the limitations of our analysis.

Mr. Lynch writes that we concluded that “auto insurers charge unfairly high rates to people in minority and low-income communities.” In fact, we found that the disparities were not limited to low-income communities and persist even in affluent minority neighborhoods.

Mr. Lynch writes that we made a mistake by “comparing the losses of all drivers within a ZIP code to the premium charged to a single person.” This assertion does not properly characterize what we did. We compared the average premium in minority zip codes to the average premium in neighborhoods with similar accident costs and a higher proportion of white residents.

Mr. Lynch writes that insurance companies do not set rates based on race or income. Our article does not say that they do. However, as our article pointed out, companies can use such criteria as credit score and occupation, which have been shown to result in higher prices for minorities.

Mr. Lynch writes that we did not address “how auto insurers priced policies where data about the policyholders and a ZIP code’s loss costs was thin.” In fact, we analyzed in detail California’s system of allowing insurers to set rates for sparsely populated rural areas by considering risk in contiguous zip codes.

Mr. Lynch writes that we do not consider that “an auto insurer’s individual loss costs … could vary from the statewide average.” In fact, we acknowledged this point in our article as a potential limitation of our study, while noting that the internal data of one insurance company, Nationwide, showed a greater disparity than the statewide average.

Mr. Lynch also implies we only applied our analysis to a 30-year-old driver. As we acknowledged in our methodology, we could not take every variable into account. We did repeat our analysis for more than 40 driver profiles that differed by age, gender, number of drivers and number of cars. When we ran the numbers, we found consistent results.

Our methodology was developed over more than a year and reviewed by a variety of independent experts in the field (including academics, statisticians and former regulators), whose feedback we incorporated. We were transparent with the Insurance Information Institute and with the firm the trade group hired, providing all our data and even our code to ensure they could fairly respond.

We would welcome the same transparency in return. While the industry criticizes ProPublica and Consumer Reports for not using company-specific data, such as individual insurers’ losses in each zip code, it does not make this information available. If the industry would release it, we would welcome the opportunity to take a look and continue the conversation.

Republished with edits under license from ProPublica

See related post:

How to Buy Auto Insurance

‘No Regard for Human Rights’: Sessions Slammed for Order on Police Conduct

by Nadia Prupis

Order is "a clear indication that [Sessions’] Department of Justice is moving toward abandoning its obligations to uphold federal civil rights laws through consent decrees"

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday ordered a sweeping review of police accountability agreements, prompting a wave of criticism from civil and human rights groups.

Sessions' order means that the Department of Justice (DOJ) may stop using consent decrees that aimed to address police brutality and other institutional problems, or refrain from fully implementing the ones that exist. The attorney general previously opposed the agreements, which are considered a legacy of the Obama administration.

The move is "a clear indication that [Sessions’] Department of Justice is moving toward abandoning its obligations to uphold federal civil rights laws through consent decrees," said Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

"Consent decrees are a crucial tool in the Justice Department's enforcement of civil rights in a variety of areas, including addressing police misconduct. They are only issued after careful study, review, and approval by a federal judge, often after a determination that law enforcement acted in an unconstitutional manner," Henderson said. "These latest developments are particularly ironic given that in the same memo outlining a review of these vital consent decrees, Attorney General Sessions also noted that 'local law enforcement must protect and respect the civil rights of all members of the public.'"

In a memorandum dated March 31 and made public Monday, Sessions directed his staff to review whether police departments are adhering to principles put forth by the Trump administration, including one that states "the individual misdeeds of bad actors should not impugn" police officers from "keeping American communities safe."

Many saw the order as a signal that the rightwing White House would disregard recent gains in improving relations between law enforcement and communities of color, an issue that gained public traction since the 2014 Ferguson, Missouri protests.

The Obama administration ordered a comprehensive review of numerous police departments throughout the U.S., which uncovered an unsurprising epidemic of institutional racism and police brutality against people of color.

"Yesterday, the Department of Justice proved what we have known all along: Attorney General Jeff Sessions has no regard for civil and human rights," Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said Tuesday. "The decision to target police reforms that have been negotiated with police departments with a documented history of civil rights violations is reprehensible. Let me be clear, this review marks the first step in the Trump administration's misguided 'law and order' agenda that will blunt the progress we made on police reform under President [Barack] Obama's leadership."

"We simply cannot afford to turn back the clock on reforms that prevent innocent black women and men from being gunned down in the streets," Lee said. "The time to resist is now. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I will fight to block funding for any effort to thwart the urgent need for police reform."

The New York Times reported:

As part of its shift in emphasis, the Justice Department went to court on Monday to seek a 90-day delay in a consent decree to overhaul Baltimore's embattled police department. That request came just days before a hearing, scheduled for Thursday in the United States District Court in Baltimore, to solicit public comment on the agreement, which was reached in principle by the city and the Justice Department in the waning days of the Obama administration.

Ray Kelly, the president of the Baltimore-based No Boundaries Coalition, a citizen advocacy group, told the Times, "This has all been negotiated by the affected parties. Now we have an outside entity telling us what's best for our citizens and our community when he has no experience, no knowledge."

Baltimore was one of several cities, including FergusonCleveland, Ohio; and Seattle, Washington that were part of the Obama administration's efforts to reform relations, after DOJ investigations found systemic issues. The Baltimore consent decree was reached after protests over the police killing of Freddie Gray revealed systemic racial profiling and other discriminatory tactics.

Likewise, David Rocah, senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland, said, "Why is everyone in Baltimore ready to move forward with police reform except Donald Trump's Department of Justice? The Trump administration's move to put off a long-planned public hearing, where the court was going to hear directly from Baltimore residents about their views of the Baltimore Police Department, and the necessity of a consent decree as part of the reform process, is a slap in the face to the people of Baltimore."

"And it is a clear sign that the Trump administration is seeking to undo, and walk away from, the consent decree that is a critical part of reforming Baltimore's police department," Rocah said.

Henderson continued, "The underlying issues that consent decrees address have not disappeared. The attorney general would do well to remember that he must serve the public, and continue to use every tool at his disposal to support police practices that preserve life and protect all."

Republished with permission under license from CommonDreams

Black Cop gets 40 Year Sentence in death of White kid

White cops kill a Black kid in a park with a toy gun, no charges. Black cops kill a white kid after a two-mile car chase involving the kid's father; sentenced to 40 years. "Black St. Louis Ex-Cop Tells the Truth About Race and Policing".

Three days after the incident, a grand jury indicted Derrick Stafford, then 32 and Norris Greenhouse Jr., then 23 with second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. Both officers are black.

Officers Norris Greenhouse Jr., left, and Derrick Stafford

On November 3, 2015, Christopher Few, a 25-year-old white man, lead police on a 2-mile chase in Marksville, LA after officers attempted to make a traffic stop. At some point during the chase, officers Derrick Stafford and Norris Greenhouse Jr. called for backup, and two other officers responded

Christopher Few

The chase ended when Few hit a dead-end at the corner of Martin Luther King Drive and Taensas Street. Shots were fired by officers Stafford and Greenhouse who didn't know that Few had his six-year-old son in the vehicle with him. Both Few and his son, Jeremy Mardis, were hit. Mardis died at the scene, Few was hospitalized and has since recovered.

Jeremy Mardis

A jury convicted Derrick Stafford on March 24, 2017, of manslaughter and on March 31, 2017, the judge sentenced Stafford to 40 years. Norris Greenhouse will be tried separately in June.

Stafford and Greenhouse shot a total of 18 bullets into the vehicle and some have mentioned the number of bullets fired demonstrates the cops intended to kill. However, when police officers fired 137 bullets, killing Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, unarmed black men; the judge acquitted Michael Brelo, the cop who jumped on the hood of their car shooting 15 times through the windshield.

Body cam video from Kenneth Purnell, one of the officers who did not fire his gun, captured the moment that shots were fired. Stafford and Greenhouse over reacted and carelessly cause the child's death. There was no effort by the Black community to start GoFundMe campaigns to support these cops. Had this been white cops, a black father, and son, the cops would have been put on paid administrative leave while a lengthy investigation was conducted. Most likely, it would have taken protest to bring charges, and the white officers most likely would be acquitted since the officers "reasonably feared for their lives" under the circumstance.

Local police officials and prosecutors quickly determined and announced that the video made it clear that charges needed to be filed. There was no discussion about what the video doesn't show or what happened immediately before the cops fired. I suspect a very different narrative would have been told it the cops were white and the father and son black. We would have heard how the father should have complied and stopped his vehicle. We would have heard how the father's actions were responsible for his son's death. The father might even have been charged with reckless endangerment of a child. The father would have been vilified and every negative detail about his life broadcast. There would have been vast public support for the cops who place their lives on the line every day and a GoFundMe account would have been setup for their legal fees. 

The white kid's life mattered as it should, but black kid's lives should matter too. How many times have we seen a video of the actual shooting of black men when it was obvious they were not armed. We've even seen a man choked to death on video while complaining "I can't breathe", with no charges against the officers. This is the sort of obvious disparity that created the Black Lives Matter movement and sparked multiple protests around the country when the victim is black. The white community didn't need to protest for action to be taken against the black cops.

Few acknowledged drinking at a bar with his then-girlfriend shortly before the shooting but said he hadn't taken any drugs that day. Few and his fiancee Megan Dixon had an argument at a bar that evening and drove away in separate vehicles. Dixon said she saw Few pass her, followed by a marked police car with two officers. Dixon said that the police pursuit of Few may have been prompted by his running a red light or by the officers seeing an altercation she had with Few at a traffic light when he approached her car and they had words. One police vehicle reportedly received damage caused by Few reversing into it.

Killing of Terence Crutcher

Ironically, over the same weekend that Stafford was convicted of manslaughter, 60 Minutes aired "Shots Fired," about the killing of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man shot and killed while holding his hands up. Betty Shelby, the white female Tulsa police officer that fatally shot Crutcher, was interviewed.

A white male cop was nearby when Crutcher was shot and two additional officers were in a helicopter hoovering above, however, Shelby claimed she feared for her safety when she shot Crutcher. Even the cops in the helicopter seemed surprised Crutcher was shot rather than tased. The video below was taken from the helicopter's camera. 

Shelby was placed on paid administrative leave and charged with manslaughter six days later while the investigation continued. During the 60 Minutes interview, Shelby blamed Crutcher for his own death. She said if he had only complied, he would still be alive. An online fundraiser was held for officer Shelby which included a donation from one of the officers who was named by the state as a witness.

Just as it was obvious that the black officers in Marksville overreacted, it is equally obvious that the white officer in Tulsa overreacted. We don't believe officer Shelby started her day with the intention of killing a black man, but we do believe that the fact that he was black created a bias that made her believe he was more dangerous than was reasonable.

Mr. Crutcher isn't alive to give his side of the story, but we can guess what it might have been. After seeing too many videos of unarmed black men being shot and killed, Crutcher didn't want to be one of them. Therefore, he put his hands up, walked slowly to indicate he was not a threat and put his hands on top of his vehicle, however, Crutcher was shot, just like another unarmed black man laying the ground with his hands up. Even Donald Trump had to admit that Shelby's shooting of Crutcher was not justified after viewing the video. If Shelby gets convicted, you can be certain it wont be anywhere near 40 years.

This double standard can not be allowed to stand. When justice is unbalanced, we need to take action both politically and economically. We need to stop supporting political candidates who do not work on behalf of our best interest and stop spending our money with companies who do not speak out for us.

If you don't demand your rights, don't be surprised when they are denied. If you accept being treated as a second-class citizen, why would anyone even consider upgrading you to first class?

The black community must also stop giving greater importance to the cultures and traditions others. If you didn't celebrate MLK day or Black History month by educating yourself or your children but you wore green on St. Patrick's Day, you're disrespecting yourself and your community. When you acknowledge Cinco de Mayo, but ignore Juneteenth, you dishonor your ancestor's suffering. How many people in the black community even know what Kwanzaa really is?

By all means, wear your kiss me I'm Irish button and drink Mexican beer, but show just as much pride in your own traditions and customs. When you don't respect your own custom and traditions, why should others? When a white life is lost, don't allow yourself to be drawn into the media hype that black lives that were lost were not as important and don't deserve as much attention.