Category Archives: Civil Rights

Tamir Rice’s Mother – No Candidate Endorsement

Why I Have Not Endorsed Any Candidate

Reflections from a Mom of the Movement
by Samaria Rice

Reprinted in Support of her fight for justice.

Over the past few weeks, I had been approached by many people all with the same question: Who will I endorse for President of the United States? I have heard this even more since the launch of the Justice For Tamir Speak Out Tour. I have watched as my fellow mothers that have lost children have chosen a candidate to invest their faith in and I support them in their pursuits of justice for their children, and the people want to know where I stand.

For over a year I have been fighting for justice for my son, Tamir , who was killed by Cleveland police officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback. For over a year, I’ve waited to see if any candidate or official, including my state’s governor, would release a plan of action that addressed the failures and inhumane decisions responsible for my son’s death. While I’ve waited, I’ve been speaking out for true action, with changes that would help prevent another tragedy like Tamir’s murder, changes that truly hold these police accountable and give people power in the communities we live in.

As a resident of Cleveland, Ohio, my local and state governments have not only failed my family, they’ve caused us severe trauma. After shooting Tamir, Cleveland police neglected to call aid for my son and handcuffed my daughter, who was trying help her brother. Then the city of Cleveland later tried to charge me for the ambulance ride that was too late to save my son’s life. They said it was a mistake, and no one was held responsible for any of pain they caused my family.

After Tamir’s death, the county prosecutor, Timothy McGinty, an elected official, responsible for seeking justice for Tamir, instead blamed my 12 year old boy for his own death.


NOTE: Timothy McGinty, the Cleveland prosecutor who cleared cops in Tamir Rice’s death was defeated in primary


All of this happened under the administration of Ohio governor, John Kasich, a 2016 presidential nominee. Ohio’s state government has shown me repeatedly that the people elected to serve have no interest in justice. The loss of Tamir has made it clear to me that Cleveland is deeply invested in a system of injustice. No one has been held responsible for any part of this entire traumatic experience. No one has at least apologized for killing my son. Not a single politician has offered me some substantial support.

While I’ve continued to push my state’s officials towards real changes, several Presidential candidates have said my son’s name in their mouth, using his death as an example of what shouldn’t happen in America. Twelve year old children should never be murdered for playing in a park. But not a single politician: local, state or federal, has taken action to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Instead of plans for justice and accountability, I have been shown several plans for criminal justice reform, none that address my experience of the entire system being guilty. Those plans don’t address the many ways elected officials become exempt to accountability and the legal flaws that allow them to extend that exemption to cops who kill. These plans do not get rid of the trauma of knowing that my tax dollars help pay the salaries of the police officers that killed my son.

As one of the Mothers of the Movement, I know the death of Tamir has shown many just how important police accountability is. I also know it must be a piece of a larger plan to address the deep corruptions that exist in America. The people should be the ones determining what accountability looks like, not prosecutors who work closely with police to deny the people justice. County Prosecutors whose job requires them to believe the police the majority of the time, should not be the same people prosecuting them. Police officers often lie about fearing for their life.

True community oversight of the police is one that evens the balance of power and allows the communities police serve to judge how well they are doing their job. My experience has let me know that the system is working just the way the people in power want it to. That is why I refuse to accept plans or support politicians that offer what they propose as solutions, not informed by us, the community. It’s why I won’t accept plans for more “community police” as positive solutions when it was the police that killed my son. I cannot settle for partial solutions and lip service. I know we need real action, and I refuse to endorse any candidate that offers less.

MLK Day and St. Louis’ first murder of the year

I didn't attend any ceremonies, speeches or marches this Martin Luther King holiday. Instead, I attended the funeral of the first murder victim in the City of St. Louis, Markel Simms.

On January 8th, I wrote a two sentence editorial beneath the headline, on the news page,  announcing St. Louis' first murder of the year. Two days later, I discovered that the murder victim was my nephew's cousin. My nephew, who lives in California, was devastated when he got the news. His brother was killed almost twenty years ago on the same street.

Markel was 35 years old, married and the father of four children. The pastor who eulogized Markel was a police officer with the Homicide, Ministers & Community Alliance (HMCA), a group founded to assist families as they cope with the homicide of a loved one; originally authorized by former police chief Dan Isom. It was refreshing to know that the St. Louis Police Department had such a program. Protect and serve was in full effect today.

The pastor describe how the worst sound in the world is that of a mother upon seeing her child's body at a murder scene, a sight he acknowledged, he has experience much too often. He reminded everyone that all life is precious and warned against the dangers of  vengeance and retribution. He also mentioned how most of St. Louis' murder victims are mostly young black men and women and how most of those murdered were killed by someone they knew. He cautioned those in attendance to mind the company they kept.

I couldn't help but think about the tragedy of attending a funeral of a murdered young black man on Martin Luther King Day. As I listened to the pastor's eulogy, I couldn't help but think about what King might say.

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

At the funeral today, I saw people who I have known for years, some for most of my life who I never knew had a connection to Markel or one of his family members and I was reminded how interconnected we all are.

What happens in a person's mind when they decide that a particular person's life no longer matters and decides to end it? Do they ever consider the fact that they may be killing the brother of their future wife? Do they consider that life may be a relative of a close friend? Do they think about all the other lives that will be impacted?

As I made my parting view of Markel, I thought to myself how a part of King's dream had died with Markel and with all the other murder victims, past and future. Help keep King's dream alive.

Help someone lift up someone else. If you can help a neighbor, co-worker or even a stranger, do it! It could be as simple as giving advice about how or what to do. Young black men killing each other is a symptom of the diseases of poverty, hopelessness, marginalization and negative self imagery. If you can help cure just one person, you will have made a tremendous difference and helped keep the dream alive!

My Dungeon Shook

Hours after I attended Markel's funeral, Chris Rock read James Baldwin's letter to his nephew, "My Dungeon Shook", during a tribute at the "MLK Now" event in Harlem honoring the late Martin Luther King.

Although this letter was written in 1963, it describes the challenges faced by young black men all across America and is still unfortunately true and timely.

MY DUNGEON SHOOK
LETTER TO MY NEPHEW ON THE ONE HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE EMANICIPATION
by James Baldwin

Dear James:

I have begun this letter five times and torn it up five times. I keep seeing your face, which is also the face of your father and my brother. Like him, you are tough, dark, vulnerable, mood—with a very definite tendency to sound truculent because you want no one to think you are soft. You may be like your grandfather in this, I don’t know, but certainly both you and your father resemble him very much physically. Well, he is dead, he never saw you, and he had a terrible life; he was defeated long before he died because, at the bottom of his heart, he really believed what white people said about him. This is one of the reasons that he became so holy. I am sure that your father has told you something about all that. Neither you nor your father exhibit any tendency towards holiness: you really are of another era, part of what happened when the late E. Franklin Frazier called “the cities of destruction.” You can only be destroyed by believing that you really are what the white world calls a nigger. I tell you this because I love you, and please don’t forget it.

I have known both of you all your lives, have carried your Daddy in my arms and on my shoulders, kissed and spanked him and watched him learn to walk. I don’t know if you’ve known anybody from that far back; if you’ve loved anybody that long, first as an infant, then as a child, then as a man, you gain a strange perspective on time and human pain and effort. Other people cannot see what I see whenever I look into your father’s face as it is today are all those other faces which were his. Let him laugh and I see a cellar your father does not remember and a house he does not remember and I hear in his present laughter his laughter as a child. Let him curse and I remember him falling down the cellar steps, and howling, and I remember, with pain, his tears, which my hand or your grandmother’s so easily wiped away. But no one’s hand can wipe away those tears he sheds invisibly today, which one hears in his laughter and in his speech and in his songs. I know what the world has done to my brother and how narrowly he has survived it. And I know, which is much worse, and this is the crime of which I accuse my country and my countrymen, and for which neither I nor time nor history will ever forgive them, that they have destroyed and are destroying hundreds of thousands of lives and do not know it and do not want to know it. One can be, indeed one must strive to become, tough and philosophical concerning destruction and death, for this is what most of mankind has been best at since we have heard of man. (But remember: most of mankind is not all of mankind.) But it is not permissible that the authors of devastation should also be innocent. It is the innocence which constitutes the crime.

Now, my dear namesake, these innocent and well-meaning people, your countrymen, have caused you to be born under conditions not very far removed from those described for us by Charles Dickens in the London of more than a hundred years ago. (I hear the chorus of the innocents screaming, “No! This is not true! How bitter you are!”—but I am writing this letter to you, to try to tell you something about how to handle them, for most of them do not yet really know that you exist. I know the conditions, under which you were born, for I was there. Your countrymen were not there, and haven’t made it yet. Your grandmother was also there, and no one has ever accused her of being bitter. I suggest that the innocents check with her. She isn’t hard to find. Your countrymen don’t know that she exists, either, though she has been working for them all their lives.)
Well, you were born, here you came, something like fourteen years ago: and though your father and mother and grandmother, looking about the streets through which they were carrying you, staring at the walls into which they brought you, had every reason to be heavyhearted, yet they were not. For here you were, Big James, named for me—you were a big baby, I was not—here you were: to be loved. To be loved, baby, hard, at once, and forever, to strengthen you against the loveless world. Remember that: I know how black it looks today, for you. It looked bad that day, too, yes, we were trembling. We have not stopped trembling yet, but if we had not loved each other none of us would have survived. And now you must survive because we love you, and for the sake of your children and your children’s children.

This innocent country set you down in a ghetto in which, in fact, it intended that you should perish. Let me spell out precisely what I mean by that, for the heart of the matter is here, and the root of my dispute with my country. You were born where you were born, and faced the future that you faced because you were black and for no other reason. The limits of your ambition were, thus, expected to be set forever. You were born into a society which spelled out with brutal clarity, and in as many ways as possible, that you were a worthless human being. You were not expected to aspire to excellence: you were expected to make peace with mediocrity.

Wherever you have turned, James, in your short time on this earth , you have been told where you could go and what you could do (and how you could do it) and where you could do it and whom you could marry. I know that your countrymen do not agree with me about this, and I hear them saying “You exaggerate.” They do not know Harlem, and I do. So do you. Take no one’s word for anything, including mine—but trust your experience. Know whence you came. If you know whence your came, there is really no limit to where you can go. The details and symbols of your life have been deliberately constructed to make you believe what white people say about you. Please try to remember that what that believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure, does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity and fear. Please try to be clear, dear James, though the storm which rages about your youthful head today, about the reality which lies behind the words acceptance and integration. There is no reason for you to try to become like white people and there is no basis whatever for their impertinent assumption that they must accept you.

The really terrible thing, old buddy, is that you must accept them. And I mean that very seriously. You must accept them and accept them with love. For these innocent people have no other hope. They are, in effect, still trapped in a history which they do not understand; and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it. They have had to believe for so many years, and for innumerable reasons, that black men are inferior to white men. Many of them, indeed, know better, but, as you will discover, people find it very difficult to act on what they know. To act is to be committed, and to be committed is to be in danger. In this case, the danger, in the minds of most white Americans, is the loss of identity. Try to imagine how you would feel if you woke up one morning to find the sun shinning and all the stars aflame. You would be frightened because it is our of the order of nature. Any upheaval in the universe is terrifying because it so profoundly attacks one’s sense of one’s own reality. Well, the black man has functioned in the white man’s world as a fixed star, as an immovable pillar: and as he moves out of his place, heaven and earth are shaken to their foundations.

You, don’t be afraid. I said that it was intended that you should perish in the ghetto, perish by never being allowed to go behind the white man’s definitions, by never being allowed to spell your proper name. You have, and many of us have, defeated this intention; and, by a terrible law, a terrible paradox, those innocents who believed that your imprisonment made them safe are losing their grasp of reality. But these men are your brothers—your lost, younger brothers. And if the word integration means anything, this is what it means: that we, with love, shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it.

For this is your home, my friend, do not be driven from it; great men have done great things here, and will again, and we can make America what America must become. It will be hard, James, but you come from sturdy, peasant stock, men who picked cotton and dammed rivers and built railroads, and in the teeth of the most terrifying odds, achieved and unassailable and monumental dignity. You come from a long line of poets, some of the greatest poets since Homer. One of them said, The very time I thought I was lost, My dungeon shook and my chains fell off.

You know, and I know, that the country is celebrating one hundred years of freedom one hundred years too soon. We cannot be free until they are free. God bless you, James, and Godspeed.

Your uncle,
James

First They Came

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality". – – Desmond Tutu

First they came for Black men, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not Black.

Then they came for the Muslims, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Muslim.

"First they came …" is a famous statement and provocative poem written by Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis' rise to power and the subsequent purging of their chosen targets, group after group.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum quotes the following text as one of the many poetic versions of the speech:


First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.


White Lives Matter Too!

A White man died from injuries suffered while in St. Louis City jail. The homeless man was arrested for trespassing. The man's mother believes police beat her son and told a reporter that she and family members were shocked when they saw Gilbert’s body at the morgue. “He’s black and blue and swollen all over,” she told a reporter Wednesday. “It just blew our mind when they pulled the curtain back. I wanted them to pull the sheet further down because we wanted to see his full body. They killed our kid. My husband went nuts. We knew immediately that this was no head injury or wrestling around — no, they beat him.”

During an event that took place earlier this year in Washington, MO, a White man was tasered while handcuffed, but in his case the incident was captured on video. The police officer has since been fired and Washington, MO paid an undisclosed amount in settlement of a lawsuit.

People and organizations such as Black Lives Matter are not imagining police brutality, it does happen.  It's just a matter of time before the injustices people remain silent about, visits them.  "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

60th Anniversary of Montgomery Bus Boycott

Today mark the 60th anniversary of the spark that ignited the the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the civil rights protest movement.

On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks refused to obey bus driver James F. Blake's order to give up her seat in the colored section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled. Parks was not the first person to resist bus segregation.

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks, February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005, was known as "the first lady of civil rights" and "the mother of the freedom movement". Parks' act of defiance and the Montgomery Bus Boycott became important symbols of the modern Civil Rights Movement. She became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation.

Rosa Parks – Quiet Revolutionary – The Documentary

Rest in peace "Mother Parks".

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, my uncle, 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!

St. Louis Arch’s Golden Anniversary

Today, October 28, 2015, marks the 50th anniversary, that the capstone, which was the last triangular section of the St. Louis Arch, was set in place. The building of the Arch was a monumental feat of engineering. Speeches will be given about the great spirit, engineering and effort that went into the building of the Arch.

The history of the building of the Arch will be retold. The first stainless steel sections of the Arch arrived at the site where the foundation had already been prepared on February 12, 1963, construction began, and the final steel section of the Gateway Arch was placed on October 28, 1965.

Percy Green and Richard Daley on the St. Louis Arch, July 14, 1964

There is a part of that history that is often overlooked or excluded. Civil rights activists at the time regarded the construction of the Arch as a token of racial discrimination.  The Construction Company building the Arch, MacDonald Construction Co. of St. Louis, employed about 1,000 workers. MacDonald Construction did not use any black contractors and none of their employees were black. The writers of history often removed portions they prefer forgotten.

The February 2013 video below , an episode of City Corner, discusses St Louis Civil Rights Activities with Percy Green. His involvement in with the Arch protest is shown at the 17:34 mark.

On July 14, 1964, during the Arch workers' lunchtime, civil rights protesters Percy Green and Richard Daly, both members of Congress of Racial Equality (C.O.R.E.), climbed up 125-feet on the north leg of the arch to "expose the fact that federal funds were being used to build a national monument that was racially discriminating against black contractors and skilled black workers." As the pair disregarded demands to get off, protesters on the ground demanded that at least 10% of the skilled jobs belong to African Americans.


Percy Green and the McDonnell Douglass Test

Some of the same exclusionary tactics used during the construction of the St. Louis Arch, unfortunately, still seem very familiar today. During Percy Green's reflection upon those days prior to the Arch protest, he mentioned how bright students were reduced to criminal activity because of the lack of opportunity. That same lack of opportunity results in higher crime rates today.

His actions at the Arch set in motion events that would result in a Landmark Supreme Court decision affecting the entire nation.

 

Percy Green was a black mechanic and laboratory technician, and was laid off by McDonnell Douglas in 1964 shortly after the Arch protest, during a reduction in force at the company. Percy Green protested that his discharge was racially motivated. He and others, used cars to block roads to McDonnell Douglas factories. On one occasion, someone used a chain to lock the front door of a McDonnell Douglas downtown business office, preventing employees from leaving, though it was not certain whether Green was responsible.

McDonnell Douglas advertised for vacant mechanic positions, for which Green was qualified. Green applied, but was not hired, with McDonnell Douglas citing his participation in blocking traffic and chaining the building.

Green filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which resulted in a unanimous (9-0) Supreme Court's decision in Mr. Green's favor.

The case: McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 US 792 – Supreme Court 1973, created of a framework or ("test") for Title VII cases where there is only relatively indirect evidence as to whether an employment action was discriminatory in nature.

Mcdonnell Douglas test requires an employer to prove with evidence showing that the employment action complained was taken for nondiscriminatory reasons. However, the employee must show the following conditions are satisfied:

1.The plaintiff (employee) must establish a prima facie case of discrimination;

2.The defendant (employer) must produce evidence of a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for its actions. If this occurs, then the presumption of discrimination becomes invalid;

3.The plaintiff (employee) must present facts to show an inference of discrimination.

18 Year Old Shot In Back by Police

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that an autopsy performed on Mansur Ball-Bey, showed that he died from a single wound in the back, police officials said.  The black 18 year old's death by a white police officer's gunfire this week stirred protests, Mansur Ball-Bey was killed during a raid upon an aunt's residence near Fountain Park on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015. 

According to family accounts, Ball-Bey stopped by an aunt's house to meet up with his cousins on his way home from his part-time job at FedEx. They were met by police in an unmarked car and Ball-Bey "got caught up in some bs being in the wrong place at the wrong time," Cotton-Booker said. 

He was still in his FedEx uniform when he got shot, family said. The distraught family said they could not believe the police account because Ball-Bey, who went by Man Man, was not capable of those crimes: he had just graduated from high school, held a steady job and was heading to college, according to the New York Daily News

His family belonged to Moorish Science Temple of America, at 2918 Sarah Avenue. Members wear a hat called a fez, and many include Bey or El in their last names.

St. Louis Police vigorously opposed body cameras, which could have easily proven the police's version of events. I live near the Fountain Park area and rode through there the day before this incident. It's hard to understand how you shoot someone pointing a gun and hit them in the back. "I understand people's skepticism," Police Chief Sam Dotson said Thursday. "But don't let social media and innuendo drive what you believe to be true. You have to let the facts speak."

It's been over a year since the national debate about police body cams began. Had the officers involved been wearing body cams, those "facts" would have spoke volumes. People usually get shot in the back when they are running away. Just last month, it was body cam footage that revealed the truth in the unjustified killing of a black man by a University of Cincinnati police office. That video is included on the racial bias in media page.

Police have cited privacy concerns over body cams, however, the Missouri Supreme Court recently affirmed that Police officers have no constitutional ‘right of privacy’ in records of their official misconduct, when it denied the final appeal of police officers who wanted to block release of department records in the 2006 World Series ticket scandal.

Maybe some St. Louis police officers are afraid body cameras will reveal the darker side of policing as in this video below from last year.

Millions of people including retail, bank, casino, school employees and even office workers perform their duties under constant video surveillance. I'm certain many of those employees do not like it, but it's part of the job. As Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey stated on Meet the Press, "we can't afford to have that sort of thing in policing, the role we play in a democratic society is just too important".

If the police routinely profile black people, then it's only fair those same people profile police when there are so many senseless police killings. The St. Louis Police Department has lost the benefit of doubt in these types of cases until they implement the mandatory use of body cams. Write or call your alderman and tell them you demand body cams for police officers.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that David Klinger, an UMSL criminologist said the Supreme Court has ruled it constitutional for police to shoot someone in the back if they believe that person could be a threat. However, under U.S. law, the fleeing felon rule was limited in 1985 to non-lethal force in most cases by Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S.

The Supreme Court of the United States held that, under the Fourth Amendment, when a law enforcement officer is pursuing a fleeing suspect, he or she may not use deadly force to prevent escape unless "the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others."

So far in 2015 police in the United States have shot dead at least 626 people, almost 10% of them were unarmed according to the Washington Post.  Another sources, KilledByPolice.net list 751 people killed by police this year as of August 20, 2015. Police in the US Kill Citizens at Over 70 Times the Rate of Other First-World Nations. One area in which the U.S. is unquestionably exceptional is the level of state violence directed against African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and working and poor people of all nationalities, according to GlobalResearch. U.S. police killings outnumber those in other developed capitalist countries by as much as 100-1! It would be ridiculous to believe that all of these killings are justified, but I assume most are

Elkhart, TX

I believe most cops are good cops and many go their entire career without firing their gun or killing anyone. Police should embrace body cams for the evidence record they provide and they are certainly the best tool to remove doubt about an officer's version of events. The May 31, 2015 fatal police shooting of James Bushey, 47, of Elkhart, TX is a perfect example. The videos are taken from the body cameras of two officers with the Palestine, TX., police department. Bushey was suspected of stealing some alcohol from a local Wal-Mart. In the videos Sgt. Gabriel Green confronts Bushey in the bathroom of an Applebee’s restaurant. Green and Officer Kaylynn Griffin escort him outside then and then asked about identification, Bushey pulls a out what turns out to be a BB gun; and the officers open fire killing Bushey. I doubt that anyone watching these videos could argue that the officers were not justified. Any reasonable person would have feared for their lives in that situation. Warning, the video is graphic!

Sgt. Green Camera Footage

Officer Griffen Camera Footage

The two videos above demonstrate why police should embrace the use of body cameras. Those videos completely vindicate Green and Griffin and points out how professionally the officers handled the entire situation without escalation.

Municipal Court Reform or Sneaky Maneuver?

The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing. – John Adams

About 200 municipal judges, prosecutors and court administrators met in secret Friday, August 14, 2015, at UMSL to plan for Missouri court reform changes forced by Senate Bill 5, the legislation that takes effect Aug. 28.

Meetings held by public officials, especially when they concern issues as important as municipal court reform which has been the subject of public outcry and protest which gained national attention invites suspicion. It has already been well documented that St. Louis area municipal courts have been used to generate revenue and abuse rights. However, this is nothing new, municipal courts have operated this way for decades. Professor T.E. Lauer, a law professor at the University of Missouri published, "Prolegomenon to Municipal Court Reform in Missouri" a stinging indictment of the municipal courts in 1966. Professor Lauer stated in his argument:

"It must be recognized, however, that in bringing about this reform it may be necessary to overcome substantial resistance on the part of municipalities which will be reluctant to lose their power over offenses defined by state law. Not only would this reform diminish the importance of the municipal court, but more importantly it would cause a loss of revenue to municipalities, in that municipal fines, which are now paid into the municipal treasury, would become state fines to be paid to the school fund."

Missouri lawyers, judges and court personnel certainly knew the greater St. Louis municipal court system was an issue. I'm certain some Missouri Circuit Court, Missouri Court of Appeals and Missouri Supreme Court judges were at one-time municipal court judges or represented clients in municipal court and saw first hand the problems. The fact that constitutional rights of poor and minority defendants were routinely violated was known to most lawyers who after all are officers of the court. However, the vast majority of those court officers remained silent instead of bringing it to the public's attention. It appears that very few lawyers lodged formal complaints, and many attorneys profited from an unfair court system resulting in an increase in clients and fees. It's unfortunate that it took a protest movement and international attention before anyone took serious action.

In 2013, the municipal courts of St. Louis City and County collected $61,152,087 in fines and fees. During that same time, the combined total of court fines and fees collected by Missouri municipal courts was $132,032,351.63. This means that the municipal courts in the St. Louis region accounted for 46% of all fines and fees collected statewide, despite being home to only 22% of Missourians.

St. Louis area municipalities have most certainly become dependent upon the revenue generated by their municipal courts. The judges, prosecutors, and court administrators mostly likely, directly or indirectly, receive their pay, raises or bonuses based on the amount of revenue generate. Reduced municipal court revenue would probably result in job losses, which of course those in attendance at the closed meeting, would not want to fall victim to. St. Louis area municipalities have a vested interest to keep their courts because municipal courts can generate revenue in others ways besides traffic tickets. Municipalities have already stepped up enforcement of tall grass, housing code, and various other types of municipal ordinance violations.

Holding a closed meeting naturally makes people wonder if this was a strategy session to exchange ideas how to keep the revenue from municipal courts flowing. After August 28th, there will certainly be increasing municipal court revenue from fines other than traffic violations. Even if a municipality does not increase the number of violation citations, they could simply increase the standard fine from say $100 to $500.

Until people educate themselves and become familiar and active within our "justice" system, justice will remain a concept unavailable to many. If you have not already done so, become familiar with the ordinances of your municipality. Browse around this site to learn how you can help yourself with certain legal issues without having to pay for an attorney.

St. Louis Municipalities Weaponized Ignorance

On the one year anniversary of Michael Brown's killing, keep in mind that before the militarized response to the Ferguson Protesters occurred, ignorance was weaponized in and around the St. Louis area. Ignorance is a state of being uninformed (lack of knowledge) and is not used here as an insult to anyone. Various police departments and municipal courts used people's ignorance of their rights and how to properly defend those rights in court as weapons against the very people they were sworn to protect and serve. 

As the discussions about Michael Brown's death continued, the fact that people were being victimized not only by the police but by the municipal courts began to be reported. After I lost my job and ran into my own legal issues, I was shocked to see how blatant rights were being violated within our local courts. The new municipal court reforms put in place are a good start, but it's just a matter of time before municipalities start implementing new strategies. As time passes, new issues will dominate the headlines and memories of specific details about police and municipal courts will begin to fade. The remedies normally available through the courts are usually too expensive because of the high cost of attorneys, but you don't need an attorney to make the court system work for you. 

Policing has changed and the reactions to excessive force by police has changed dramatically. Prior to Mike Brown's killing, police departments almost always stood by the side and defended cops accused of brutal acts and unjustified killing. That has now changed, at least when a video exists. Hopefully, there will come a day when a video is not required to bring justice against rogue cops. I am certain the vast majority of police are decent, honest and hard-working, but there are some that are not and that factor coupled with the blue code of silence wreak havoc on certain communities. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, responding to comments about a University of Cincinnati Police Officer, during a conversation about with Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd conceded police do protect each other from criticism no matter what, as do other professions.

Americans have short attention spans and memories. Municipalities will most likely start violating rights again using new creative unfamiliar methods and ignorance will once again be weaponized and used against people. Ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it. However, most people are only vaguely familiar with the law; even lawyers only know a small portion of the law. There is a principle which is sometimes put in the form of a rule of evidence, that everyone is presumed to know the law. That principal is based on the difficulty to prove that a person did, in fact, know the law. Additionally, many people would purposefully not make themselves aware of particular laws to preserve their ignorance. As long as people remain ignorant about their rights and how to invoke and protect them, that ignorance of the law will certainly be taken advantage of and weaponized not only by unscrupulous governments but by predatory businesses and institutions. 

Just as slavemasters used ignorance against slaves to exploit them, St. Louis area municipalities have used ignorance of state law, legal procedure and constitutional protections to exploit and oppress people. Many St. Louis municipalities created illegal laws with the sole purpose of creating revenue. Just because an ordinance exists doesn't mean it's valid; ordinances and other laws sometimes get struck down as being void, illegal or unconstitutional. Most municipalities know that many people won't even bother to read or research the law

You don't need a lawyer to discover what the law says, the law is available for everyone to read. Prior to my job loss, I made a pretty decent salary and could easily afford to pay an attorney to take care of traffic tickets. For example, I paid attorneys as little as $30 to handle traffic violations. Bellefontaine Neighbors has a speed trap on eastbound Lewis & Clark (Hwy 367) just past Hwy 270 overpass, where the speed drops from 55 to 45. There's a sign posted with the reduced speed limit about halfway on the overpass. A truck in the right lane blocked the posted 45mph sign from my view. A traffic cop was positioned just past the overpass and I got caught by that trap. I found an attorney on Craigslist, paid that attorney $30 to have the violation reduced to a moving violation, but I had to pay the City of Bellefontaine a fine of about $200. 

However, even a $100 red light ticket fine became a major burden after my steady income was gone. There are a lot of organizations that provide free legal assistance, their resources are limited and they can only help so many people. When my legal issues arose, I could not afford an attorney, and the legal assistance agencies I contacted couldn't help. I was facing the loss of tens of thousands of dollars, so I learned how to effectively defend myself. This site contains valuable free information for you to help yourself and additional information is constantly being added. No one will ever fight as hard for you as you will, don't get caught in the trap of being dependent on someone else to do for you what you can learn to do for yourself. Even if you can currently afford to pay for legal services; keep in mind that may not always be the case. During the very time when I was most vulnerable and need assistance the most was when I could not afford legal services. Fortunately, I was able to research the law for myself, but most people I witnessed in court on their own lost; your ignorance is their power. 

Skewed statics, policial, institutional and media spin all contribute to confusing the issues and create or increase ignorance. One of Adolf Hilter's closest advisers, Joseph Goebbels, stated; If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself. To overcome ignorance, you must first learn to see through the layers of lies to first understand what the actual issues are and then formulate a strategy to overcome them.

Phillip Agnew, with Dream Defenders, gives a near perfect response to the systematic oppression of black people during the PBS program America After Ferguson and exemplifies what can happen when a person is no longer held captive to ignorance.

 

See the full-length PBS program America After Ferguson, which includes additional statements by Phillip Agnew not shown in the brief clip above. Tim Wise during his lecture on the Legacy of Institutionalized Racism addresses the topic of responsibility brought up in America After Ferguson.

Police Officer Charged with Murder of Unarmed Man

My son's car is being repaired and I had to pick him up after classes today. He explained how today had been a particularly good day because two of his professors had very interesting guest speakers in class. One of those speakers was a police officer and childhood friend of the professor. The officer explained how most cops are good and how he the and professor had grown up in a ruff area and were frequently harassed by police. His motivation for becoming an officer was to make changes from the inside. 

Unfortunately, shortly after our ride home, the news of yet another shooting and killing of an unarmed person by police was on the news. As I have stated before, I believe that most cops are good cops, but good cops aren't the problem. There is a major problem with the way some officers target and interact with members of the black community.

A police officer with the North Charleston, SC Police Department, was arrested today, Tuesday April 7th, for a shooting that took place Saturday morning after a traffic stop concerning a brake light. The officer, Michael Slager, claimed he had feared for his life because the man had taken his stun gun during a scuffle after the traffic stop. His arrest took place after a video surfaced that shows him shooting an unarmed man eight times who was running away.

Walter L. Scott, a 50 year old Coast Guard veteran and father of four, who family members said was preparing to get married was identified as the victim. Five of the eight bullets hit Scott, his family’s attorney said; four of those struck his back, the other hit an ear.

 

"I can tell you that as the result of that video and the bad decision made by our officer, he will be charged with murder," North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey told reporters Tuesday. "When you're wrong, you're wrong. And if you make a bad decision — don't care if you're behind the shield or just a citizen on the street — you have to live by that decision." 

Unfortunately, it takes someone taking a video at the exact moment of a police shooting before its considered a bad decision or a possibility that a crime was committed. When police are not held accountable for their questionable behavior, it encourages other officers to commit even bolder acts. For years, rouge cops have been getting away with what have been blatant abuses of power and using deadly force unnecessarily. 

Michael Slager didn't even hesitate to shot, because most likely he felt his story of feeling threatened would be believed. Two people filed complaints against Slager during his time with the force, including one man who said the policeman shot him with a Taser for no reason in September 2013.

A woman who witnessed the 2013 incident and gave her account to the investigators at the time, and told a newspaper reporter that Slager pulled Mario Givens, who was clad in boxer shorts, from his home and shot him with a Taser. Internal investigators exonerated Slager of any wrongdoing, even though the suspect in that case was never arrested.

Attorney David Aylor, who released a statement on Slager’s behalf earlier this week, said Tuesday that he wasn’t representing the officer anymore.

I will be fifty years old in August, the same age as the victim. It's bad enough having watch out for criminals, but having to fear normal interactions with the police only adds insult to injury. I understand some people reading this will think, but what about all the other killings being committed?

Other than murders that occur during the heat of passion, most murders are committed by criminals participating in illegal or illicit behavior. They do not have the public trust and most people when being approached on the street by a stranger has a heightened sense of awareness and mentally sizes up the stranger to determine the appropriate level of precaution. When threatened by a stranger or criminal, a person may take defensive action to protect themselves. 

A person doesn't feel a sense of obligation to engage with a stranger and can therefore avoid some potentially dangerous situations. However, a police officer has public trust and more importantly government sanctioned authority over you and openly carries a weapon. A person feels compelled to follow the instructions and direction of a police office and therefore will automatically interact with the police officer, even during a chance encounter on the street.

When a person feels threatened by a police officer, they are less likely to take defensive actions; and even if they did, most likely the police version or assessment of the situation will be believed over the citizen's. If a person uses deadly force to protect them self from a rouge officer, that person will certainly be charged with murder. The only viable option available to an innocent person being threatened by a police officer is the flee, however, that very act of running away will be used to justify deadly force against them.

Below is a longer version of the video of Mr. Scott being killed. After you watch it, I want you to consider whether most people, including yourself, would have believed the officer's version that his life was in danger, if this video didn't exist.

Victoria Middleton, executive director of the ACLU of South Carolina, urged state and federal officials to start a broad probe into North Charleston police policies, training and allegations of racial profiling. Past calls for such an investigation have been met with no response, she said.

Update: 4-9-2015

The dash cam video from Michael Slager's squad car was released today. The video shows Walter Scott, exiting and running. Based upon what's visible in the dash cam video, there doesn't appear to be any apparent reason for Mr. Scott to take of running the way he did. The dash cam indicates that Slager's approach and demeanor appear to be appropriate. Mr. Scott running the way he did certainly appears to have escalated the situation and it will certainly be argued that he would still be alive if he had not run. There appears to be a passenger in the car with Mr. Scott and hopefully he will be able to provide some reason or explanation for Mr. Scott's behavior. Based solely on the dash cam, Mr. Scott made a poor decision and was in the wrong. However, what has been shown in the shooting video, Mr. Slager made a worse decision and there was no justification for a trained police officer to use deadly force in that situation and in that manner. Mr. Slager certainly new the dash cam video would have supported his lie about believing himself to be in danger.