Cindy Sheehan and the Women's March on the Pentagon

A movement not just a protest

By Whitney Webb

WASHINGTON—In the last few years, arguably the most visible and well-publicized march on the U.S. capital has been the "Women's March," a movement aimed at advocating for legislation and policies promoting women's rights as well as a protest against the misogynistic actions and statements of high-profile U.S. politicians. The second Women's March, which took place this past year, attracted over a million protesters nationwide, with 500,000 estimated to have participated in Los Angeles alone.

However, absent from this women's movement has been a public antiwar voice, as its stated goal of "ending violence" does not include violence produced by the state. The absence of this voice seemed both odd and troubling to legendary peace activist Cindy Sheehan, whose iconic protest against the invasion and occupation of Iraq made her a household name for many.

Sheehan was taken aback by how some prominent organizers of this year's Women's March were unwilling to express antiwar positions and argued for excluding the issue of peace entirely from the event and movement as a whole. In an interview with MintPress, Sheehan recounted how a prominent leader of the march had told her, "I appreciate that war is your issue Cindy, but the Women's March will never address the war issue as long as women aren't free."

War is indeed Sheehan's issue and she has been fighting against the U.S.' penchant for war for nearly 13 years. After her son Casey was killed in action while serving in Iraq in 2004, Sheehan drew international media attention for her extended protest in front of the Bush residence in Crawford, Texas, which later served as the launching point for many protests against U.S. military action in Iraq.

Sheehan rejected the notion that women could be "free" without addressing war and empire. She countered the dismissive comment of the march organizer by stating that divorcing peace activism from women's issues "ignored the voices of the women of the world who are being bombed and oppressed by U.S. military occupation."

Indeed, women are directly impacted by war—whether through displacement, the destruction of their homes, kidnapping, or torture. Women also suffer uniquely and differently from men in war as armed conflicts often result in an increase in sexual violence against women.

For example, of the estimated half-a-million civilians killed in the U.S. invasion of Iraq, many of them were women and children. In the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, the number of female casualties has been rising on average over 20 percent every year since 2015. In 2014 alone when Israel attacked Gaza in "Operation Protective Edge," Israeli forces, which receives $10 million in U.S. military aid every day, killed over two thousand Palestinians—half of them were women and children. Many of the casualties were pregnant women, who had been deliberately targeted.

Given the Women's March's apparent rejection of peace activism in its official platform, Sheehan was inspired to organize another Women's March that would address what many women's rights advocates, including Sheehan, believe to be an issue central to promoting women's rights.

Dubbed the "Women's March on the Pentagon," the event is scheduled to take place on October 21—the same date as an iconic antiwar march of the Vietnam era—with a mission aimed at countering the "bipartisan war machine." Though men, women and children are encouraged to attend, the march seeks to highlight women's issues as they relate to the disastrous consequences of war.

The effort of women in confronting the "war machine" will be highlighted at the event, as Sheehan remarked that "women have always tried to confront the war-makers," as the mothers, daughters, sisters and wives of the men and women in the military, as well as those innocent civilians killed in the U.S.' foreign wars. As a result, the push for change needs to come from women, according to Sheehan, because "we [women] are the only ones that can affect [the situation] in a positive way." All that's missing is an organized, antiwar women's movement.

Sheehan noted the march will seek to highlight the direct relationship between peace activism and women's rights, since "no woman is free until all women are free" and such "freedom also includes the freedom from U.S. imperial plunder, murder and aggression" that is part of the daily lives of women living both within and beyond the United States. Raising awareness of how the military-industrial complex negatively affects women everywhere is key, says Sheehan, as "unless there is a sense of international solidarity and a broader base for feminism, then there aren't going to be any solutions to any problems, [certainly not] if we don't stop giving trillions of dollars to the Pentagon."

Sheehan also urged that, even though U.S. military adventurism has long been an issue and the subject of protests, a march to confront the military-industrial complex is more important now than ever: "I'm not alarmist by nature but I feel like the threat of nuclear annihilation is much closer than it has been for a long time," adding that, despite the assertion of some in the current administration and U.S. military, "there is no such thing as 'limited' nuclear war." This makes "the need to get out in massive numbers" and march against this more imperative than ever.

Sheehan also noted that Trump's presidency has helped to make the Pentagon's influence on U.S. politics more obvious by bringing it to the forefront: "Even though militarism had been under wraps [under previous presidents], Trump has made very obvious the fact that he has given control of foreign policy to the 'generals.'"

Indeed, as MintPress has reported on several occasions, the Pentagon—beginning in March of last year—has been given the freedom to "engage the enemy" at will, without the oversight of the executive branch or Congress. As a result, the deaths of innocent civilians abroad as a consequence of U.S. military action has spiked. While opposing Trump is not the focus of the march, Sheehan opined that Trump's war-powers giveaway to the Pentagon, as well as his unpopularity, have helped to spark widespread interest in the event.

Different wings of the same warbird

Sheehan has rejected accusations that the march is partisan, as it is, by nature, focused on confronting the bipartisan nature of the military-industrial complex. She told MintPress that she has recently come under pressure owing to the march's proximity to the 2018 midterm elections—as some have ironically accused the march's bipartisan focus as "trying to harm the chances of the Democrats" in the ensuing electoral contest.

In response, Sheehan stated that: 

"Democrats and Republicans are different wings of the same warbird. We are protesting militarism and imperialism. The march is nonpartisan in nature because both parties are equally complicit. We have to end wars for the planet and for the future. I could really care less who wins in November."

She also noted that even when the Democrats were in power under Obama, nothing was done to change the government's militarism nor to address the host of issues that events like the Women's March have claimed to champion.

"We just got finished with eight years of a Democratic regime," Sheehan told MintPress. "For two of those years, they had complete control of Congress and the presidency and a [filibuster-proof] majority in the Senate and they did nothing" productive except to help "expand the war machine." She also emphasized that this march is in no way a "get out the vote" march for any political party.

Even though planning began less than a month ago, support has been pouring in for the march since it was first announced on Sheehan's website, Cindy Sheehan Soapbox. Encouraged by the amount of interest already received, Sheehan is busy working with activists to organize the events and will be taking her first organizing trip to the east coast in April of this year. 

In addition, those who are unable to travel to Washington are encouraged to participate in any number of solidarity protests that will be planned to take place around the world or to plan and attend rallies in front of U.S. embassies, military installations, and the corporate headquarters of war profiteers.

Early endorsers of the event include journalists Abby Martin, Mnar Muhawesh and Margaret Kimberley; Nobel Peace Prize nominee Kathy Kelly; FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley; and U.S. politicians like former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. Activist groups that have pledged their support include CodePink, United National Antiwar Coalition, Answer Coalition, Women's EcoPeace and World Beyond War.

Though October is eight months away, Sheehan has high hopes for the march. More than anything else, though, she hopes that the event will give birth to a "real revolutionary women's movement that recognizes the emancipation and liberation of all peoples—and that means [freeing] all people from war and empire, which is the biggest crime against humanity and against this planet." By building "a movement and not just a protest," the event's impact will not only be long-lasting, but grow into a force that could meaningfully challenge the U.S. military-industrial complex that threatens us all. God knows the world needs it.

For those eager to help the march, you can help spread the word through social media by joining the march's Facebook page or following the march's Twitter account, as well as by word of mouth. In addition, supporting independent media outlets—such as MintPress, which will be reporting on the march—can help keep you and others informed as October approaches.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News who has written for several news organizations in both English and Spanish; her stories have been featured on ZeroHedge, the Anti-Media, and 21st Century Wire among others. She currently lives in Southern Chile.

MPN News, February 20, 2018




It is so beautiful to see young people in this country rising up to demand an end to gun violence. But what is Donald Trump's response? Instead of banning assault weapons, he wants to give guns to teachers and militarize our schools. But one of the reasons for mass school shootings is precisely because our schools are already militarized. Florida shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was trained by U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) program while he was in high school.

Yesterday, Divest from the War Machine coalition member, Pat Elder, was featured on Democracy Now discussing his recent article about the JROTC in our schools. The JROTC teaches children how to shoot weapons. It is often taught by retired soldiers who have no background in teaching. They are allowed to teach classes that are given at least equal weight as classes taught by certified and trained teachers. We are pulling our children away from classes that expand their minds and putting them in classes that teach them how to be killing machines. The JROTC program costs our schools money. It sends equipment. But, the instructors and facilities must be constructed and paid for by the school.

The JROTC puts our children's futures at risk. Children who participate in JROTC shooting programs are exposed to lead bullets from guns. They are at an increased risk when the shooting ranges are inside. The JROTC program is designed to "put a jump start on your military career." Children are funneled into JROTC to make them compliant and to feed the military with young bodies which are prepared to be assimilated into the war machine. Instead of funneling children into the military, we should be channeling them into jobs that support peace and sustainable development. 

Tell Senator McCain and Representative Thornberry to take the war machine out of our schools! The JROTC program must end immediately. The money should be directed back into classrooms that educate our children.

The Divest from the War Machine campaign is working to remove our money from the hands of companies that make a killing on killing. We must take on the systems that keep fueling war, death, and destruction around the globe. AND, we must take on the systems that are creating an endless cycle of children who are being indoctrinated at vulnerable ages to become the next killing machine.  Don't forget to post this message on Facebook and Twitter.

Onward in divestment,

Ann, Ariel, Brienne, Jodie, Kelly, Kirsten, Mark, Medea, Nancy, Natasha, Paki, Sarah, Sophia and Tighe

P.S. Do you want to do more? Start a campaign to get the JROTC out of your school district or state. Email divest@codepink.org and we'll get you started!







Rally and March to Free Mumia

Saturday, April 28, 2018, 12:00 Noon

Oscar Grant Plaza, Oakland, CA

Other Regional and International Actions to Free Mumia

Detroit, Michigan: National Conference to Defeat Austerity, Saturday, March 24. 10:00 A.M.—5:00 P.M.  St. Matthew's—St. Joseph's Church, 8850 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202. For more information: www.moratorium-mi.org

Houston, Texas: Banner Drop for Mumia, Monday, March 26, 5:30 P.M.—6:30 P.M.  Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement will do a banner drop over Houston's busiest freeway for Mumia, on Dunlavy Bridge, over Highway 59.

New York City: Break Down Walls and Prison Plantation: Mumia, Migrants and Movements for Liberation, Friday, March 23. 6:00 P.M. Community Supper 7:30 PM, Holyrood Episcopal Church, 715 179th Street, New York, NY 10033

Jericho Amnesty Movement 20th Anniversary, Saturday, March 24. Holyrood Episcopal Church, 715 W. 179th St, New York, NY, Dinner from 5:00 P.M.—6:00 P.M. Downstairs Program from 6:30 P.M.—9:00 P.M. in Sanctuary.

Sunday, March 25: March and Rally, Gather 12:00 P.M., U.S. Mission (799 UN Plaza: 1st Ave. and 45th St.), March 1:00 P.M., to Times Square for 2:00 P.M. Rally, Buses to Philadelphia: Leaving NYC March 27, 5:30 A.M. from 147 West 24 St. For information email info@freemumia.com or call 212-330-8029.

Vallejo, CA, Saturday, March 24: 1:00 P.M.—4:00 P.M., Vallejo JFK Library, 505 Santa Clara Street, Vallejo, CA 94590, Contact Info: New Jim Crow Movement (Vallejo), 707-652-8367, withjusticepeace@gmail.com

Toronto, Canada, Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!, Saturday, March 24, 1:00 P.M., Across the street from the U.S. Consulate
360 University Avenue, march24freemumia@gmail.com 

Johannesburg, South Africa, Sunday, March 25, Freedom Park RDD, Poetry. Hip Hop. Kwaito. Drama. Local Organizer: Pastor Rev, Contact Info: +27 649 240514



Support Herman Bell

Last week the New York State Board of Parole granted Herman Bell release. Since the Board's decision, there has been significant backlash from the Police Benevolent Association, other unions, Mayor De Blasio and Governor Cuomo. They are demanding that Herman be held indefinitely, the Parole Commissioners who voted for his release be fired, and that people convicted of killing police be left to die in prison.

We want the Governor, policymakers, and public to know that we strongly support the Parole Board's lawful, just and merciful decision. We also want to show support for the recent changes to the Board, including the appointment of new Commissioners and the direction of the new parole regulations, which base release decisions more on who a person is today and their accomplishments while in prison than on the nature of their crime.

Herman has a community of friends, family and loved ones eagerly awaiting his return. At 70 years old and after 45 years inside, it is time for Herman to come home.

Here are four things you can do RIGHT NOW to support Herman Bell:

1- CALL New York State Governor Cuomo's Office NOW

2-EMAIL New York State Governor Cuomo's Office

3- TWEET at Governor Cuomo: use the following sample tweet:

"@NYGovCuomo: stand by the Parole Board's lawful & just decision to release Herman Bell. At 70 years old and after more than 40 years of incarceration, his release is overdue. #BringHermanHome."

4- Participate in a CBS poll and vote YES on the Parole Board's decision
The poll ends on March 21st. Please do this ASAP!

Script for phone calls and emails:
"Governor Cuomo, my name is __________and I am a resident of . I support the Parole Board's decision to release Herman Bell and urge you and the Board to stand by the decision. I also support the recent appointment of new Parole Board Commissioners, and the direction of the new parole regulations, which base release decisions more on who a person is today than on the nature of their crime committed years ago. Returning Herman to his friends and family will help the heal the many harms caused by crime and decades of incarceration. The Board's decision was just, merciful and lawful, and it will benefit our communities and New York State as a whole."

Thank you for your support and contributions.

With gratitude,
Supporters of Herman Bell and Parole Justice New York



After almost 14 years of tireless work, we are changing our name to About Face: Veterans Against the War! This has been a long time coming, and we want to celebrate this member-led decision to grow our identity and our work with you.

Member vote at Convention in favor of changing the name

Why change our name? It's a different world since our founding in 2004 by 8 veterans returning from the invasion of Iraq. The Bush Administration's decision to start two wars significantly altered the political landscape in the US, and even more so in the Middle East and Central Asia. For all of us, that decision changed our lives. Our membership has grown to reflect the diversity of experiences of service members and vets serving in the so-called "Global War on Terror," whether it be deploying to Afghanistan, special operations in Africa, or drone operations on US soil. We will continue to be a home for post-9/11 veterans, and we've seen more members join us since the name-change process began.

Over the past 15 years, our political understanding has also grown and changed. As a community, we have learned how militarism is not only the root cause of conflicts overseas, but how its technology, tactics, and values have landed directly on communities of color, indigenous people, and poor people here at home.

So why this name? About Face is a drill command all of us were taught in the military. It signifies an abrupt 180 degree turn. A turn away. That drill movement represents the transformation that has led us to where we find ourselves today: working to dismantle the militarism we took part in and building solidarity with people who bear the weight of militarism in its many forms.

We are keeping Veterans Against the War as our tag line because it describes our members, our continued cause, and because we are proud to be a part of the anti-war veteran legacy. Our name has changed and our work has deepened, but our vision -- building a world free of militarism -- is stronger than ever. 

As we make this shift, we deeply appreciate your commitment to us over the years and your ongoing support as we build this new phase together. We know that dismantling militarism is long haul work, and we are dedicated to being a part of it with you for as long as it takes.

Until we celebrate the last veteran,

Matt Howard
About Face: Veterans Against the War
(formerly IVAW)

P.O. Box 3565, New York, NY 10008. All Right Reserved. | Unsubscribe

To ensure delivery of About Face emails please add webmaster@ivaw.org to your address book.



Tell the Feds: End Draft Registration

Courage to Resist Podcast: The Future of Draft Registration in the United States

We had draft registration resister Edward Hasbrouck on the Courage to Resistpodcast this week to explain what's going on. Edward talks about his own history of going to prison for refusing to register for the draft in 1983, the background on this new federal commission, and he addresses liberal arguments in favor of involuntary service. Edward explains: 

When you say, "I'm not willing to be drafted", you're saying, "I'm going to make my own choices about which wars we should be fighting", and when you say, "You should submit to the draft", you're saying, "You should let the politicians decide for you."

What's happening right now is that a National Commission … has been appointed to study the question of whether draft registration should be continued, whether it should be expanded to make women, as well as men register for the draft, whether a draft itself should be started, whether there should be some other kind of Compulsory National Service enacted.

The Pentagon would say, and it's true, they don't want a draft. It's not plan A, but it's always been plan B, and it's always been the assumption that if we can't get enough volunteers, if we get in over our head, if we pick a larger fight than we can pursue, we always have that option in our back pocket that, "If not enough people volunteer, we're just going to go go to the draft, go to the benches, and dragoon enough people to fight these wars."

[This] is the first real meaningful opportunity for a national debate about the draft in decades.


484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland, California 94610 ~ 510-488-3559


















Major George Tillery

A Case of Gross Prosecutorial Misconduct and Police Corruption

Sexual Favors and Hotel Rooms Provided by Police to Prosecution Fact Witness for Fabricated Testimony During Trial

By Nancy Lockhart, M.J.

August 24, 2016

Corruption in The State of Pennsylvania is being exposed with a multitude of public officials indicted by the US Attorney's office in 2015 and 2016.  A lengthy list of extortion, theft, and corruption in public service includes a former Solicitor, Treasurer and Veteran Police Officer  U.S. Department of Justice Corruption Prosecutions.  On Monday August 15, 2016 Pennsylvania State Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane was found guilty of all nine counts in a perjury and obstruction case related to a grand jury leak.  Pennsylvania's Attorney General Convicted On All Counts - New York Times

Although this is a small sampling of decades long corruption throughout the state of Pennsylvania, Major George Tillery has languished in prison over 31 years because of prosecutorial misconduct and police corruption. Tillery was tried and convicted in 1985 in a trial where prosecutors and police created a textbook criminal story for bogus convictions. William Franklin was charged as a co-conspirator in the shootings, he was tried and convicted in December of 1980, because he refused to lie on Tillery.  Franklin is 69 years old according to the PADOC website and has been in prison 36 years. 

Major Tillery Is Not Represented by an Attorney and Needs Your Assistance to Retain One. Donate to Major Tillery's Legal Defense FundMajor Tillery, PA DOC# AM9786, will turn 66-years-old on September 9, 2016 and has spent over three decades in prison for crimes he did not commit. Twenty of those 31 plus years were spent in solitary confinement. Tillery has endured many very serious medical issues and medical neglect.  Currently, he is plagued with serious illnesses that include hepatitis C, stubborn skin rashes, dangerous intestinal disorders and a degenerative hip. His orthopedic shoes were taken by prison administrators and never returned.

Tillery, was convicted of homicide, assault, weapons and conspiracy charges in 1985, for the poolroom shootings which left one man dead and another wounded. William Franklin was the pool room operator at the time. The shooting occurred on October 22, 1976.  

Falsified testimony was the only evidence presented during trial. No other evidence linked Tillery to the 1976 shootings, except for the testimony of two jailhouse informants. Both men swore that they had received no promises, agreements, or deals in exchange for their testimony. Barbra Christie, the trial prosecutor, insisted to the Court and Jury that these witnesses were not given any plea agreements or sentencing promises. That was untrue.

Newly discovered evidence is the sole basis for Tillery's latest Pro Se filing. According to the  Post Conviction Relief Petition Filed June 15, 2016, evidence proves that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania committed fraud on the Court and Jury which undermined the fundamentals of due process. The newly discovered evidence in sworn declarations is from two prosecution fact witnesses. Those two witnesses provided the entirety of trial evidence against Major Tillery. The declarations explain false testimonies manufactured by the prosecution with the assistance of police detectives/investigators. On August 19, 2016 Judge Leon Tucker filed a Notice of Intent to Dismiss Major's PCRA petition.  Notice to Dismiss

Emanuel Claitt Has Come Forth to Declare His Testimony as Manufactured and Fabricated by Police and Prosecutors. Claitt states that his testimony during trial was fabricated and coerced by Assistant District Attorney Barbara Christie, Detectives John Cimino and James McNeshy.  Claitt swore that he was promised a very favorable plea agreement and treatment in his pending criminal cases.  Claitt was granted sexual favors in exchange for his false testimony. Claitt states that he was allowed to have sex with four different women in the homicide interview rooms and in hotel rooms in exchange for his cooperation. 

Prosecution fact witness Emanuel Claitt states in his  Declaration of Emanuel Claitt, and Emanuel Claitt Supplemental Declaration that testimony against Major Tillery was fabricated, coerced and coached by Assistant District Attorney's Leonard Ross, Barbara Christie, and Roger King with the assistance of Detectives Larry Gerrad, Ernest Gilbert, and Lt. Bill Shelton.  Claitt was threatened with false murder charges as well as, given promises and agreements of favorable plea deals and sentencing. In exchange for his false testimony, many of Claitt's cases were not prosecuted. He received probation. Additionally, he was sentenced to a mere 18 months for fire bombing and was protected after his arrest between the time of Franklin's and Tillery's trials.  

Trial Lawyer Operated Under Actual Conflict of Interest. Tillery discovered that his trial lawyer, Joseph Santaguida, also represented the victim. In other words, the victim in this case was represented by trial lawyer Santaguida and Santaguida also represented Major Tillery.  The Commonwealth has concealed newly discovered evidence as well as, evidence which would have been favorable to Major Tillery in the criminal trial. That evidence would have exonerated him. In light of the new Declarations which prove manufactured testimony by prosecutors and police, Major Tillery needs legal representation. He is not currently represented by an attorney. 

Donate: Major Tillery's Legal Defense FundClick Here & Donate



Free Leonard Peltier!

On my 43rd year in prison I yearn to hug my grandchildren.

By Leonard Peltier

Art by Leonard Peltier

I am overwhelmed that today, February 6, is the start of my 43rd year in prison. I have had such high hopes over the years that I might be getting out and returning to my family in North Dakota. And yet here I am in 2018 still struggling for my FREEDOM at 73.

I don't want to sound ungrateful to all my supporters who have stood by me through all these years. I dearly love and respect you and thank you for the love and respect you have given me.

But the truth is I am tired, and often my ailments cause me pain with little relief for days at a time. I just had heart surgery and I have other medical issues that need to be addressed: my aortic aneurysm that could burst at any time, my prostate, and arthritis in my hip and knees.

I do not think I have another ten years, and what I do have I would like to spend with my family. Nothing would bring me more happiness than being able to hug my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

I did not come to prison to become a political prisoner. I've been part of Native resistance since I was nine years of age. My sister, cousin and I were kidnapped and taken to boarding school. This incident and how it affected my cousin Pauline, had an enormous effect on me.

This same feeling haunts me as I reflect upon my past 42 years of false imprisonment. This false imprisonment has the same feeling as when I heard the false affidavit the FBI manufactured about Myrtle Poor Bear being at Oglala on the day of the fire-fight—a fabricated document used to extradite me illegally from Canada in 1976.

I know you know that the FBI files are full of information that proves my innocence. Yet many of those files are still withheld from my legal team. During my appeal before the 8th Circuit, former Prosecuting Attorney Lynn Crooks said to Judge Heaney: "Your honor, we do not know who killed those agents. Further, we don't know what participation, if any, Mr. Peltier had in it."

That statement exonerates me, and I should have been released. But here I sit, 43 years later still struggling for my freedom. I have pleaded my innocence for so long now, in so many courts of law, in so many public statements issued through the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, that I will not argue it here. But I will say again, I DID NOT KILL THOSE AGENTS!

Right now, I need my supporters here in the U.S. and throughout the world helping me. We need donations large or small to help pay my legal team to do the research that will get me back into court or get me moved closer to home or a compassionate release based on my poor health and age. Please help me to go home, help me win my freedom!

There is a new petition my Canadian brothers and sisters are circulating internationally that will be attached to my letter. Please sign it and download it so you can take it to your work, school or place of worship. Get as many signatures as you can, a MILLION would be great!

I have been a warrior since age nine. At 73, I remain a warrior. I have been here too long. The beginning of my 43rd year plus over 20 years of good time credit, that makes 60-plus years behind bars.

I need your help. I need your help today! A day in prison for me is a lifetime for those outside because I am isolated from the world.

I remain strong only because of your support, prayers, activism and your donations that keep my legal hope alive.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse


Leonard Peltier

If you would like a paper petition, please email contact@whoisleonardpeltier.info.

—San Francisco Bay View, February 6, 2018

Write to:

Leonard Peltier 89637-132 

USP Coleman I 

P.O. Box 1033 

Coleman, FL 33521

Donations can be made on Leonard's behalf to the ILPD national office, 116 W. Osborne Ave, Tampa, FL 33603



Artwork by Kevin Cooper



301 Days in Jail,
as of today.

Reality's trial
is now postponed 

until October 15th.

That's 500 Days in Jail,
Without Bail!


Whistleblower Reality Winner's trial has (again) been postponed.
Her new trial date is October 15, 2018, based on the new official proceedings schedule (fifth version). She will have spent 500 days jailed without bail by then. Today is day #301.
And her trial may likely be pushed back even further into the Spring of 2019.

We urge you to remain informed and engaged with our campaign until she is free! 

One supporter's excellent report

on the details of Winner's imprisonment

~Check out these highlights & then go read the full article here~

"*Guilty Until Proven Innocent*

Winner is also not allowed to change from her orange jumpsuit for her court dates, even though she is "innocent until proven guilty."  Not only that, but during any court proceedings, only her wrists are unshackled, her ankles stay.  And a US Marshal sits in front of her, face to face, during the proceedings.  Winner is not allowed to turn around and look into the courtroom at all . . .

Upon checking the inmate registry, it starts to become clear how hush hush the government wants this case against Winner to be.  Whether pre-whistleblowing, or in her orange jumpsuit, photos of Winner have surfaced on the web.  That's why it was so interesting that there's no photo of her next to her name on the inmate registry . . .

For the past hundred years, the Espionage Act has been debated and amended, and used to charge whistleblowers that are seeking to help the country they love, not harm it.  Sometimes we have to learn when past amendments no longer do anything to justify the treatment of an American truth teller as a political prisoner. The act is outdated and amending it needs to be seriously looked at, or else we need to develop laws that protect our whistleblowers.

The Espionage Act is widely agreed by many experts to be unconstitutionally vague and a violation of the First Amendment of Free Speech.  Even though a Supreme Court had ruled that the Espionage Act does not infringe upon the 1st Amendment back in 1919, it's constitutionality has been back and forth in court ever sense.

Because of being charged under the Espionage Act, Winner's defense's hands are tied.  No one is allowed to mention the classified document, even though the public already knows that the information in it is true, that Russia hacked into our election support companies." 

 Want to take action in support of Reality?

Step up to defend our whistleblower of conscience ► DONATE NOW

c/o Courage to Resist, 484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland CA 94610 ~ 510-488-3559


@standbyreality (Twitter)

 Friends of Reality Winner (Facebook)




From Clifford Conner

Dear friends and relatives

Every day the scoundrels who have latched onto Trump to push through their rightwing soak-the-poor agenda inflict a new indignity on the human race.  Today they are conspiring to steal the tips we give servers in restaurants.  The New York Times editorial appended below explains what they're trying to get away with now.

People like you and me cannot compete with the Koch brothers' donors network when it comes to money power.  But at least we can try to avoid putting our pittance directly into their hands.  Here is a modest proposal:  Whenever you are in a restaurant where servers depend on tips for their livelihoods, let's try to make sure they get what we give them.

Instead of doing the easy thing and adding the tip into your credit card payment, GIVE CASH TIPS and HAND THEM DIRECTLY TO YOUR SERVER. If you want to add a creative flourish such as including a preprinted note that explains why you are doing this, by all means do so.  You could reproduce the editorial below for their edification.

If you want to do this, be sure to check your wallet before entering a restaurant to make sure you have cash in appropriate denominations.

This is a small act of solidarity with some of the most exploited members of the workforce in America.  Perhaps its symbolic value could outweigh its material impact.  But to paraphrase the familiar song: What the world needs now is solidarity, sweet solidarity.

If this idea should catch on, be prepared for news stories about restaurant owners demanding that servers empty their pockets before leaving the premises at the end of their shifts.  The fight never ends!

Yours in struggle and solidarity,


Most Americans assume that when they leave a tip for waiters and bartenders, those workers pocket the money. That could become wishful thinking under a Trump administration proposal that would give restaurants and other businesses complete control over the tips earned by their employees.

The Department of Labor recently proposed allowing employers to pool tips and use them as they see fit as long as all of their workers are paid at least the minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour nationally and higher in some states and cities. Officials argue that this will free restaurants to use some of the tip money to reward lowly dishwashers, line cooks and other workers who toil in the less glamorous quarters and presumably make less than servers who get tips. Using tips to compensate all employees sounds like a worthy cause, but a simple reading of the government's proposal makes clear that business owners would have no obligation to use the money in this way. They would be free to pocket some or all of that cash, spend it to spiff up the dining room or use it to underwrite $2 margaritas at happy hour. And that's what makes this proposal so disturbing.

The 3.2 million Americans who work as waiters, waitresses and bartenders include some of the lowest-compensated working people in the country. The median hourly wage for waiters and waitresses was $9.61 an hour last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Further, there is a sordid history of restaurant owners who steal tips, and of settlements in which they have agreed to repay workers millions of dollars.

Not to worry, says the Labor Department, which argues, oddly and unconvincingly, that workers will be better off no matter how owners spend the money. Enlarging dining rooms, reducing menu prices or offering paid time off should be seen as "potential benefits to employees and the economy over all." The department also assures us that owners will funnel tip money to employees because workers would quit otherwise.

t is hard to know how much time President Trump's appointees have spent with single mothers raising two children on a salary from a workaday restaurant in suburban America, seeing how hard it is to make ends meet without tips. What we do know is that the administration has produced no empirical cost-benefit analysis to support its proposal, which is customary when the government seeks to make an important change to federal regulations.

The Trump administration appears to be rushing this rule through — it has offered the public just 30 days to comment on it — in part to pre-empt the Supreme Court from ruling on a 2011 Obama-era tipping rule. The department's new proposal would do away with the 2011 rule. The restaurant industry has filed several legal challenges to that regulation, which prohibits businesses from pooling tips and sharing them with dishwashers and other back-of-the-house workers. Different federal circuit appeals courts have issued contradictory rulings on those cases, so the industry has asked the Supreme Court to resolve those differences; the top court has not decided whether to take that case.

Mr. Trump, of course, owns restaurants as part of his hospitality empire and stands to benefit from this rule change, as do many of his friends and campaign donors. But what the restaurant business might not fully appreciate is that their stealth attempt to gain control over tips could alienate and antagonize customers. Diners who are no longer certain that their tips will end up in the hands of the server they intended to reward might leave no tip whatsoever. Others might seek to covertly slip cash to their server. More high-minded restaurateurs would be tempted to follow the lead of the New York restaurateur Danny Meyer and get rid of tipping by raising prices and bumping up salaries.

By changing the fundamental underpinnings of tipping, the government might well end up destroying this practice. But in doing so it would hurt many working-class Americans, including people who believed that Mr. Trump would fight for them.





Working people are helping to feed the poor hungry corporations! 

Charity for the Wealthy!

GOP Tax Plan Would Give 15 of America's Largest Corporations a $236B Tax Cut: Report

By Jake Johnson, December 18, 2017











Puerto Rico Still Without Power

















Addicted to War:

And this does not include "…spending $1.25 trillion dollars to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and $566 billion to build the Navy a 308-ship fleet…"









Kaepernick sports new T-shirt:

Love this guy!












1)  Don't Let the Police Wreck Stop-and-Frisk Reforms

By Jenn Rolnick BorchettaDarius Charney and Angel Harris, April 10, 2018


Critics of the New York City Police Department's stop-and-frisk policy observing deliberations by the City Council in 2013, the year a federal judge ruled that the practice was unconstitutionalCreditSpencer Platt/Getty Images

We won the stop-and-frisk case in 2013, when a federal court ruled the New York City Police Department's use of the practice was unconstitutional.

But as the lawyers in the case, our work isn't done. Ultimate victory depends on whether we reform the police practices that drove unlawful stops and arrests.

In the court-ordered reform process, improvements to police discipline and supervision are on the chopping block. Without these changes, we fear unlawful stops will explode again.

This isn't theoretical. Though the number of stops has declined, department audits reveal that officers fail to record them up to 73 percent of the time. Among the stops that do get recorded, racial disparities persist at rates similar to when stop-and-frisk was at its peak. Over 80 percent of people stopped are black or Latino. And controlling for crime rates, the police patrol much more aggressively in black and Latino neighborhoods compared to white ones.

The police department has received 1,536 complaints of racial profiling since it began tracking in 2015. But it hasn't substantiated a single profiling allegation in the more than 700 investigations it has closed. None of those hundreds of profiling complaints had merit? And the department continues to impose slap-on-the-wrist discipline for misconduct — a practice that we proved significantly contributed to discriminatory stops.

In our case, the department agreed to participate in a two-part process for reforming stop-and-frisk, as well as trespass stops, which often led to baseless arrests of people of color living in public housing. One set of changes is being developed based on negotiations among the parties' lawyers and a monitor appointed by the court. Additional reforms are supposed to be developed based on community input. It's not surprising to us that the lawyer-designed reforms have not solved the problems, because we always expected the real solutions to come from the community-input process.

The problem is the police department suggested that it might oppose reforms that black and Latino New Yorkers are asking for. As much as the department wants to be seen as listening to community members, it doesn't actually want to be responsive to their needs.

That's a shame because "the communities most affected by the N.Y.P.D.'s use of stop-and-frisk have a distinct perspective that is highly relevant to crafting effective reforms," as Judge Shira A. Scheindlin wrote in her opinion overhauling the department's use of stop-and-frisk.

"No amount of legal or policing expertise can replace a community's understanding of the likely practical consequences of reforms in terms of both liberty and safety," she wrote. Without community input, "the reforms are unlikely to be successful."

Imagine a black man who lived in the Bronx around 2011, the height of the stop-and-frisk era. New York police officers threw him up against walls; they turned his pockets inside out. Some days they accused him of trespassing in his own apartment building. Every time, the police let him go without a summons and without arresting him — because he was doing nothing wrong. He was only walking to the corner store or home. Now he's a father. And while the police department says that stops have dropped, his son is also getting stopped, tossed and humiliated,even if less often.

But the words of lawyers or federal court appointees cannot serve as a substitute for that black father's voice and experiences. He knows better than we do what lasting change looks like.

Thousands of people like this man — people who were repeatedly stopped, or whose children or friends were repeatedly stopped — gave their input into the design of reforms through 64 focus groups and 24 community forums across the city. At the very least, the New York Police Department must adopt these three reforms to fix the problems that took it to court in the first place.

First, the department must establish progressive and serious penalties for unconstitutional behavior by officers. One unlawful stop might lead to retraining, for example, while two could mean a loss of vacation days. The police commissioner could diverge from the guidelines whenever he deemed it appropriate. But establishing minimum discipline standards that set strict penalties would encourage lawful behavior while communicating that the department is committed to addressing misconduct.

Second, the police must use department-issued smartphones to instantly collect information about investigative activities, and to briefly explain these activities in their notes. We heard many community members describe stops that we know police officers did not report. This reform would ensure that more encounters do get reported, which would give the department a better view of whether officers understand the limits on their authority.

Third, the department must create a citywide community oversight board consisting of those who have been most invested in advancing stop-and-frisk reforms. The board would monitor the department's fulfillment of changes and provide assistance. For example, it would help to identify penalties to use in the discipline standards. Such sustained and structured community oversight promises more complete and abiding reform. And it's not unprecedented: Just last month, Chicago agreed to a similar measure.

The New York Police Department says it wants to improve community relations and build trust. But it's easier to go on a listening tour than to give the community power over policies. And it's easier to talk about accountability than to earn trust through action. We can't let the department choose the easy way out.

On April 30, a court appointee is to issue a report on the community-input process. Without discipline standards, improved documentation of police activity and a community oversight board, we believe the routine violation of the rights of people of color during police encounters in New York City will go on. And if these reforms do not happen through the community-input process, then they will not happen.

Ms. Borchetta, a lawyer at the Bronx Defenders, and Mr. Charney, a lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights, are counsel to the plaintiffs in Floyd v. City of New York. Ms. Harris, a lawyer at the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense and Educational Fund, is counsel to the plaintiffs in Davis v. City of New York.



2) Trump Signs Order to Require Recipients of Federal Aid Programs to Work

 APRIL 10, 2018




President Trump quietly signed a long-anticipated executive order on Tuesday intended to force low-income recipients of food assistance, Medicaid and low-income housing subsidies to join the work force or face the loss of their benefits.

The order, in the works since last year, has an ambitious title — "Reducing Poverty in America" — and is directed at "any program that provides means-tested assistance or other assistance that provides benefits to people, households or families that have low incomes," according to the order's text.

But its programmatic goals are considerably more modest, officials said. Many of the initiatives outlined have already been set into motion by the affected agencies, particularly the Department of Health and Human Services, which has begun issuing waivers to Republican governors who want to impose stricter work requirements on Medicaid recipients as a way to reduce costs.

And advocates for poor people questioned whether the order could achieve even modest goals, saying most able-bodied adults who receive noncash federal aid either already work or face significant impediments to doing so.

The order gave all cabinet departments 90 days to produce plans that impose work requirements on able-bodied aid recipients and block ineligible immigrants from receiving aid, while drafting "a list of recommended regulatory and policy changes" to push recipients off the rolls and into jobs.

"President Trump has directed his administration to study policies that are failing Americans," said Andrew Bremberg, the president's domestic policy chief, who briefed reporters on the order's contents in a telephone call late Tuesday. Journalists were not provided with copies of the document beforehand.

The aim, Trump aides said on the call, is to prod federal and state officials to take a tougher stance with aid recipients — millions of whom currently receive exemptions from existing work requirements because they are in training programs, provide care for relatives or volunteer their labor.

The Agriculture Department is already pressuring states to impose work requirements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the program formerly known as food stamps. Earlier this year, the Department of Health and Human Services granted a waiver to Arkansas so it could require Medicaid recipients to get jobs, participate in job training or engage in job searches at least 80 hours a month.

Advocates say most able-bodied adults who do not already have jobs face obstacles including mental problems, criminal records that deter employers from hiring them and complicated family situations.

A 2017 study of Michigan's Medicaid program by the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation found that three-quarters of those enrolled in the program were already working or physically unable to do so. Another 12 percent were people likely to be exempt, including the elderly and students.

"It's a little bit of a solution in search of a problem," said Elaine Waxman, a senior fellow with the nonpartisan Urban Institute, who has studied food assistance programs and other government entitlements. "The administration is reflecting a larger narrative that many low-income individuals avoid work — but there's just not a lot of data to support that position. Many of these people have significant barriers to working full time."

But the greater significance of the order might be semantic — and political.

The order — signed in private on a frenzied news day dominated by congressional testimony from Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook chief executive, a potential military response in Syria and the president's rage at the raid on Monday on his personal lawyer's office — tries to redefine "welfare" to fit the catchall term Mr. Trump used in campaign speeches.

The word "welfare" — politically loaded and often pejorative, especially among the president's conservative supporters — has historically been used to describe cash assistance programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

The Trump administration wants to change the lexicon. On Tuesday, Mr. Bremberg sought to stretch the term to encompass food aid and Medicaid — programs even many conservative lawmakers view as a necessary safety net for families and individuals on the economic margins through no fault of their own.

"Our country suffers from nearly record high welfare enrollments," Mr. Bremberg said. But Temporary Assistance for Needy Families payments to poor people are approaching record lows.

Mr. Trump, several aides said, is unconcerned — or perhaps even unaware — of the distinction between cash assistance and other safety-net programs.

He calls all of them "welfare," they said.



3)  Trump Promises Strike on Syria and Warns Russia Against Backing Assad

 APRIL 11, 2018




WASHINGTON — President Trump put Syria and Russia on notice Wednesday morning in a Twitter post, promising that missiles fired at Syria "will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!'" and telling the Kremlin that it should not partner with a "Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!" After the threat, the president said in a separate tweet that relations between the United States and Russia are worse than ever.

The president appeared to be reacting to reports on Tuesday that the Russian ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin, warned the United States and its allies that any missiles fired at Syria would be shot down, according to a Reuters report.

Mr. Trump's early morning comments were remarkable in that he is, in a way, telegraphing the United States' response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, which is something he had previously criticized other leaders for doing. Mr. Trump has said publicly that sharing military plans could give enemies information they could use to their advantage. Bracing for a strike, there were already indications that Syria was moving key aircraft to a Russian base in the Mediterranean Sea, taking pains to protect important weapons systems.

But the president's subsequent tweet struck a different tone. After he warned Russia what it would be up against in Syria, Mr. Trump lamented that relations between the two countries were worse than during the Cold War, a decades-long geopolitical and ideological rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union when both were armed for, and prepared for, nuclear war.

Russia has blamed the suspected chemical attacks on the Syrian opposition forces. On Wednesday, Maria Zakharova, the Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, said that if the American missiles were so smart then they should hit "terrorists" and not government targets. She also suggested in a posting on Facebook that the missile attack might destroy evidence of the use of chemical weapons.

Mr. Trump has been critical of Russia and its president, Vladimir V. Putin, for supporting the Syrian regime, led by Bashar al-Assad, believed to be behind the suspected chemical weapons attack on April 7 that has left dozens dead.

The attack on Saturday in the Damascus suburb of Douma has not been confirmed to be the result of a chemical weapon.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Wednesday that the United States is still assessing the intelligence on the suspected chemical attack, but that military planning was proceeding.

"We stand ready to provide military options if they're appropriate, as the president determined," he said.

The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that there were reports of about 500 people in the Damascus suburb of Douma who have symptoms similar to people exposed to toxic chemicals. It said about 70 people had died while taking shelter in basements and 43 of them had signs of being exposed to "highly toxic chemicals."

The United Nations Security Council, on Tuesday, considered but did not approve rival resolutions from the United States and Russia regarding how to determine who is responsible for the attack.

Mr. Trump's comments about poor relations with Russia echoed what the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, said recently in response to the wave of diplomatic expulsions of Russians from the United States and other countries, according to a Reuters report. The expulsions were a coordinated response to the poisoning in Britain of a former Russian spy and his daughter. Since then, analysts have said the Balkans could become a battleground for a new Cold War.

The tough talk on Russia, when it comes to Syria, is a strikingly different tone for Mr. Trump, who has long pushed for improved relations with the Kremlin. Recently, Mr. Trump praised Mr. Putin for his re-election and even invited him to the White House.

Later on Wednesday morning, Mr. Trump clarified his assessment of the poor relations with Russia in another tweet, blaming the decline in Washington-Moscow ties on the ongoing investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election.

Russia has been a dominant theme during Mr. Trump's entire presidency, particularly with the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia's election interference.

The president repeated his frustrations about the ongoing inquiry, which he said was led by Democrats or others who worked for former President Barack Obama.

Earlier this week, the F.B.I. raided the offices and hotel room of Mr. Trump's personal attorney, Michael D. Cohen, enraging the president, who called it an "attack on our country in a true sense." Mr. Trump, however, has not used similarly strong language about Russia's election activities which started as early as 2014.

When it comes Syria, however, Mr. has blamed Mr. Putin for supporting the Syrian regime. Mr. Trump called the suspected chemical attack a "barbaric act" and suggested Mr. Putin bears some responsibility. "He may, and if he does, it's going to be very tough, very tough," Mr. Trump said on Monday. "Everybody's going to pay a price. He will, everybody will."

Mr. Trump canceled a planned trip to Latin America later this week in order to oversee an American response to Syria, the White House said. And the president met with his military commanders on Monday to discuss options.

But publicly discussing American military plans is in contrast to how he has said he would conduct himself as commander in chief.

During tensions with North Korea in April of 2017, he said in an interview on "Fox & Friends" that he would not say whether he would order a strike if the rogue nation continued conducting missile tests.

"I don't want to telegraph what I am doing or what I am thinking," Mr. Trump said. "I am not like other administrations, where they say, 'We are going to do this in four weeks.' It doesn't work that way. We'll see what happens."

That was the kind of message that Mr. Trump repeatedly delivered as a presidential candidate, mocking former President Barack Obama for giving adversaries too much information by setting timelines for withdrawal from combat zones.

And, indeed, while he has not set a public withdrawal deadline for American forces in Syria the way Mr. Obama did for other combat zones, just last week Mr. Trump set a private one that quickly became public when he told military commanders that ideally he wanted to pull troops out of Syria within a few months.

After Mr. Trump's series of tweets Wednesday morning, Mr. Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said, "We don't participate in Twitter diplomacy. We advocate serious approaches." Mr. Peskov's comments were reported by the Interfax news agency.



4)  Police Release First Footage of Officers Shooting Man in Brooklyn

 APRIL 10, 2018




Police officers at the scene of the April 4 shooting near the intersection of Montgomery Street and Utica Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. CreditJohn Taggart for The New York Times

The New York Police Department on Tuesday released the first video of the shooting last week in which officers in Brooklyn shot and killed a mentally ill man who was holding part of a welding torch as if it were a gun and, the police said, pointing it at people on the street and then at arriving officers.

In the video, filmed from a security camera about half a block away, the officers and the man, Saheed Vassell, appear as small figures in the distance. Before the shooting, in the late afternoon on April 4 in the Crown Heights neighborhood, people gather at a bus stop, watching buses pass and peering down the street for another.

Then plainclothes officers in an unmarked sedan come into the picture. They drive down Utica Avenue, turn across traffic at Montgomery Street and crack their doors open. A marked police vehicle follows behind them.

About eight seconds later, before the officers get more than a couple steps from their car, the video shows them with their arms outstretched as if they are firing and people on the street flinch and then scatter. The officers are on one side of Montgomery Street, and Mr. Vassell is outside a market on the other side of the street. Mr. Vassell is seen dropping to the sidewalk.

The footage is at too great a distance to reveal much about the shooting. The police last week released a snippet of video from a different security camera showing Mr. Vassell raising the welding torch as if it were a gun in the moment before the shooting and, the police said, pointing it in officers' direction. Several 911 callers had told dispatchers he might have had a gun, but they were not sure.

Witnesses have said the officers said nothing before firing. The police last week said the officers repeatedly shouted, "Drop it."

The police said the video released on Tuesday was the only footage investigators recovered of the shooting itself. The police declined to release it last week because, police officials said then, the department and the state attorney general's office were still investigating the shooting.

And Mayor Bill de Blasio suggested on Tuesday that the video had been withheld because the attorney general's office had prevented its release during the early stages of its investigation.

But Phil Walzak, the department's deputy commissioner for public information, said on Tuesday that the attorney general's office had never objected to the video being released. He said officials decided to show it publicly, as they have in other cases in which shootings were captured on body-worn cameras.

Amy Spitalnick, press secretary for the state attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, said in a statement: "Our office played no role in the N.Y.P.D.'s decision to release partial footage concerning the Vassell case last week, and we have not objected to the N.Y.P.D.'s release of video footage of the officers."

The Police Department does not have a clear public policy for when it will release footage in shootings involving officers, and it has previously said the release of footage in shootings captured on officers' body-worn cameras was up to the commissioner, James P. O'Neill.

"The N.Y.P.D. is committed to transparency, as demonstrated with prior releases of body-worn camera footage of officer-involved-shootings when it is available," Mr. Walzak said. "The N.Y.P.D. is also committed to ensuring that the attorney general can conduct a thorough and complete review. The attorney general's office has thus far not objected to the release of video in the Vassell case."



5) Why America's Black Mothers and Babies Are in a Life-or-Death Crisis

The answer to the disparity in death rates has everything to do with the lived experience of being a black woman in America.

 APRIL 11, 2018




Kingston weighed in at a healthy 6 pounds 13 ounces.CreditLaToya Ruby Frazier for The New York Times

hen Simone Landrum felt tired and both nauseated and ravenous at the same time in the spring of 2016, she recognized the signs of pregnancy. Her beloved grandmother died earlier that year, and Landrum felt a sense of divine order when her doctor confirmed on Muma's birthday that she was carrying a girl. She decided she would name her daughter Harmony. "I pictured myself teaching my daughter to sing," says Landrum, now 23, who lives in New Orleans. "It was something I thought we could do together."

But Landrum, who was the mother of two young sons, noticed something different about this pregnancy as it progressed. The trouble began with constant headaches and sensitivity to light; Landrum described the pain as "shocking." It would have been reasonable to guess that the crippling headaches had something to do with stress: Her relationship with her boyfriend, the baby's father, had become increasingly contentious and eventually physically violent. Three months into her pregnancy, he became angry at her for wanting to hang out with friends and threw her to the ground outside their apartment. She scrambled to her feet, ran inside and called the police. He continued to pursue her, so she grabbed a knife. "Back up — I have a baby," she screamed. After the police arrived, he was arrested and charged with multiple offenses, including battery. He was released on bond pending a trial that would not be held until the next year. Though she had broken up with him several times, Landrum took him back, out of love and also out of fear that she couldn't support herself, her sons and the child she was carrying on the paycheck from her waitress gig at a restaurant in the French Quarter.

As her January due date grew closer, Landrum noticed that her hands, her feet and even her face were swollen, and she had to quit her job because she felt so ill. But her doctor, whom several friends had recommended and who accepted Medicaid, brushed aside her complaints. He recommended Tylenol for the headaches. "I am not a person who likes to take medicine, but I was always popping Tylenol," Landrum says. "When I told him my head still hurt, he said to take more."

At a prenatal appointment a few days before her baby shower in November, Landrum reported that the headache had intensified and that she felt achy and tired. A handwritten note from the appointment, sandwiched into a printed file of Landrum's electronic medical records that she later obtained, shows an elevated blood-pressure reading of 143/86. A top number of 140 or more or a bottom number higher than 90, especially combined with headaches, swelling and fatigue, points to the possibility of pre-eclampsia: dangerously high blood pressure during pregnancy.

High blood pressure and cardiovascular disease are two of the leading causes of maternal death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, including pre-eclampsia, have been on the rise over the past two decades, increasing 72 percent from 1993 to 2014. A Department of Health and Human Services report last year found that pre-eclampsia and eclampsia (seizures that develop after pre-eclampsia) are 60 percent more common in African-American women and also more severe. Landrum's medical records note that she received printed educational material about pre-eclampsia during a prenatal visit. But Landrum would comprehend the details about the disorder only months later, doing online research on her own.

When Landrum complained about how she was feeling more forcefully at the appointment, she recalls, her doctor told her to lie down — and calm down. She says that he also warned her that he was planning to go out of town and told her that he could deliver the baby by C-section that day if she wished, six weeks before her early-January due date. Landrum says it seemed like an ultimatum, centered on his schedule and convenience. So she took a deep breath and lay on her back for 40 minutes until her blood pressure dropped within normal range. Aside from the handwritten note, Landrum's medical records don't mention the hypertensive episode, the headaches or the swelling, and she says that was the last time the doctor or anyone from his office spoke to her. "It was like he threw me away," Landrum says angrily.

Four days later, Landrum could no longer deny that something was very wrong. She was suffering from severe back pain and felt bone-tired, unable to get out of bed. That evening, she packed a bag and asked her boyfriend to take her sons to her stepfather's house and then drive her to the hospital. In the car on the way to drop off the boys, she felt wetness between her legs and assumed her water had broken. But when she looked at the seat, she saw blood. At her stepfather's house, she called 911. Before she got into the ambulance, Landrum pulled her sons close. "Mommy loves you," she told them, willing them to stay calm. "I have to go away, but when I come back I will have your sister."

By the time she was lying on a gurney in the emergency room of Touro Infirmary, a hospital in the Uptown section of New Orleans, the splash of blood had turned into a steady stream. "I could feel it draining out of me, like if you get a jug of milk and pour it onto the floor," she recalls. Elevated blood pressure — Landrum's medical records show a reading of 160/100 that day — had caused an abruption: the separation of the placenta from her uterine wall.

With doctors and nurses hovering over her, everything became both hazy and chaotic. When a nurse moved a monitor across her belly, Landrum couldn't hear a heartbeat. "I kept saying: 'Is she O.K.? Is she all right?' " Landrum recalls. "Nobody said a word. I have never heard a room so silent in my life." She remembers that the emergency-room doctor dropped his head. Then he looked into her eyes. "He told me my baby was dead inside of me. I was like: What just happened? Is this a dream? And then I turned my head to the side and threw up."

Sedated but conscious, Landrum felt her mind growing foggy. "I was just so tired," she says. "I felt like giving up." Then she pictured the faces of her two young sons. "I thought, Who's going to take care of them if I'm gone?" That's the last thing she recalls clearly. When she became more alert sometime later, a nurse told her that she had almost bled to death and had required a half dozen units of transfused blood and platelets to survive. "The nurse told me: 'You know, you been sick. You are very lucky to be alive,' " Landrum remembers. "She said it more than once."

A few hours later, a nurse brought Harmony, who had been delivered stillborn via C-section, to her. Wrapped in a hospital blanket, her hair thick and black, the baby looked peaceful, as if she were dozing. "She was so beautiful — she reminded me of a doll," Landrum says. "I know I was still sedated, but as I held her, I kept looking at her, thinking, Why doesn't she wake up? I tried to feel love, but after a while I got more and more angry. I thought, Why is God doing this to me?"

The hardest part was going to pick up her sons empty-handed and telling them that their sister had died. "I felt like I failed them," Landrum says, choking up. "I felt like someone had taken something from me, but also from them."

In 1850, when the death of a baby was simply a fact of life, and babies died so often that parents avoided naming their children before their first birthdays, the United States began keeping records of infant mortality by race. That year, the reported black infant-mortality rate was 340 per 1,000; the white rate was 217 per 1,000. This black-white divide in infant mortality has been a source of both concern and debate for over a century. In his 1899 book, "The Philadelphia Negro," the first sociological case study of black Americans, W.E.B. Du Bois pointed to the tragedy of black infant death and persistent racial disparities. He also shared his own "sorrow song," the death of his baby son, Burghardt, in his 1903 masterwork, "The Souls of Black Folk."

From 1915 through the 1990s, amid vast improvements in hygiene, nutrition, living conditions and health care, the number of babies of all races who died in the first year of life dropped by over 90 percent — a decrease unparalleled by reductions in other causes of death. But that national decline in infant mortality has since slowed. In 1960, the United States was ranked 12th among developed countries in infant mortality. Since then, with its rate largely driven by the deaths of black babies, the United States has fallen behind and now ranks 32nd out of the 35 wealthiest nations. Low birth weight is a key factor in infant death, and a new report released in March by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin suggests that the number of low-birth-weight babies born in the United States — also driven by the data for black babies — has inched up for the first time in a decade.

Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants — 11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data — a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were considered chattel. In one year, that racial gap adds up to more than 4,000 lost black babies. Education and income offer little protection. In fact, a black woman with an advanced degree is more likely to lose her baby than a white woman with less than an eighth-grade education.

This tragedy of black infant mortality is intimately intertwined with another tragedy: a crisis of death and near death in black mothers themselves. The United States is one of only 13 countries in the world where the rate of maternal mortality — the death of a woman related to pregnancy or childbirth up to a year after the end of pregnancy — is now worse than it was 25 years ago. Each year, an estimated 700 to 900 maternal deaths occur in the United States. In addition, the C.D.C. reports more than 50,000 potentially preventable near-deaths, like Landrum's, per year — a number that rose nearly 200 percent from 1993 to 2014, the last year for which statistics are available. Black women are three to four times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts, according to the C.D.C. — a disproportionate rate that is higher than that of Mexico, where nearly half the population lives in poverty — and as with infants, the high numbers for black women drive the national numbers.

Monica Simpson is the executive director of SisterSong, the country's largest organization dedicated to reproductive justice for women of color, and a member of the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, an advocacy group. In 2014, she testified in Geneva before the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, saying that the United States, by failing to address the crisis in black maternal mortality, was violating an international human rights treaty. After her testimony, the committee called on the United States to "eliminate racial disparities in the field of sexual and reproductive health and standardize the data-collection system on maternal and infant deaths in all states to effectively identify and address the causes of disparities in maternal- and infant-mortality rates." No such measures have been forthcoming. Only about half the states and a few cities maintain maternal-mortality review boards to analyze individual cases of pregnancy-related deaths. There has not been an official federal count of deaths related to pregnancy in more than 10 years. An effort to standardize the national count has been financed in part by contributions from Merck for Mothers, a program of the pharmaceutical company, to the CDC Foundation.

The crisis of maternal death and near-death also persists for black women across class lines. This year, the tennis star Serena Williams shared in Vogue the story of the birth of her first child and in further detail in a Facebook post. The day after delivering her daughter, Alexis Olympia, via C-section in September, Williams experienced a pulmonary embolism, the sudden blockage of an artery in the lung by a blood clot. Though she had a history of this disorder and was gasping for breath, she says medical personnel initially ignored her concerns. Though Williams should have been able to count on the most attentive health care in the world, her medical team seems to have been unprepared to monitor her for complications after her cesarean, including blood clots, one of the most common side effects of C-sections. Even after she received treatment, her problems continued; coughing, triggered by the embolism, caused her C-section wound to rupture. When she returned to surgery, physicians discovered a large hematoma, or collection of blood, in her abdomen, which required more surgery. Williams, 36, spent the first six weeks of her baby's life bedridden.

The reasons for the black-white divide in both infant and maternal mortality have been debated by researchers and doctors for more than two decades. But recently there has been growing acceptance of what has largely been, for the medical establishment, a shocking idea: For black women in America, an inescapable atmosphere of societal and systemic racism can create a kind of toxic physiological stress, resulting in conditions — including hypertension and pre-eclampsia — that lead directly to higher rates of infant and maternal death. And that societal racism is further expressed in a pervasive, longstanding racial bias in health care — including the dismissal of legitimate concerns and symptoms — that can help explain poor birth outcomes even in the case of black women with the most advantages.

"Actual institutional and structural racism has a big bearing on our patients' lives, and it's our responsibility to talk about that more than just saying that it's a problem," says Dr. Sanithia L. Williams, an African-American OB-GYN in the Bay Area and a fellow with the nonprofit organization Physicians for Reproductive Health. "That has been the missing piece, I think, for a long time in medicine."

After Harmony's death, Landrum's life grew more chaotic. Her boyfriend blamed her for what happened to their baby and grew more abusive. Around Christmas 2016, in a rage, he attacked her, choking her so hard that she urinated on herself. "He said to me, 'Do you want to die in front of your kids?' " Landrum said, her hands shaking with the memory.

Then he tore off her clothes and sexually assaulted her. She called the police, who arrested him and charged him with second-degree rape. Landrum got a restraining order, but the district attorney eventually declined to prosecute. She also sought the assistance of the New Orleans Family Justice Center, an organization that provides advocacy and support for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Counselors secreted her and her sons to a safe house, before moving them to a more permanent home early last year.

Landrum had a brief relationship with another man and found out in March 2017 that she was pregnant again and due in December. "I'm not going to lie; though I had a lot going on, I wanted to give my boys back the sister they had lost, " Landrum said, looking down at her lap. "They don't forget. Every night they always say their prayers, like: 'Goodnight, Harmony. Goodnight, God. We love you, sister.' " She paused and took a breath. "But I was also afraid, because of what happened to me before."

Early last fall, Landrum's case manager at the Family Justice Center, Mary Ann Bartkowicz, attended a workshop conducted by Latona Giwa, the 31-year-old co-founder of the Birthmark Doula Collective. The group's 12 racially diverse birth doulas, ages 26 to 46, work as professional companions during pregnancy and childbirth and for six weeks after the baby is born, serving about 400 clients across New Orleans each year, from wealthy women who live in the upscale Garden District to women from the Katrina-ravaged Lower Ninth Ward and other communities of color who are referred through clinics, school counselors and social-service organizations. Birthmark offers pro bono services to these women in need.

Right away, the case manager thought of her young, pregnant client. Losing her baby, nearly bleeding to death and fleeing an abusive partner were only the latest in a cascade of harrowing life events that Landrum had lived through since childhood. She was 10 when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005. She and her family first fled to a hotel and then walked more than a mile through the rising water to the Superdome, where thousands of evacuees were already packed in with little food, water or space. She remembers passing Charity Hospital, where she was born. "The water was getting deeper and deeper, and by the end, I was on my tippy-toes, and the water was starting to go right by my mouth," Landrum recalls. "When I saw the hospital, honestly I thought, I'm going to die where I was born." Landrum wasn't sure what doulas were, but once Bartkowicz explained their role as a source of support and information, she requested the service. Latona Giwa would be her doula.

Giwa, the daughter of a white mother and a Nigerian immigrant father, took her first doula training while she was still a student at Grinnell College in Iowa. She moved to New Orleans for a fellowship in community organizing before getting a degree in nursing. After working as a labor and delivery nurse and then as a visiting nurse for Medicaid clients in St. Bernard Parish, an area of southeast New Orleans where every structure was damaged by Katrina floodwaters, she devoted herself to doula work and childbirth education. She founded Birthmark in 2011 with Dana Keren, another doula who was motivated to provide services for women in New Orleans who most needed support during pregnancy but couldn't afford it.

"Being a labor and delivery nurse in the United States means seeing patients come in acute medical need, because we haven't been practicing preventive and supportive care all along," Giwa says. Louisiana ranks 44th out of all 50 states in maternal mortality; black mothers in the state die at 3.5 times the rate of white mothers. Among the 1,500 clients the Birthmark doulas have served since the collective's founding seven years ago, 10 infant deaths have occurred, including late-term miscarriage and stillbirth, which is lower than the overall rate for both Louisiana and the United States, as well as the rates for black infants. No mothers have died.

A scientific examination of 26 studies of nearly 16,000 subjects first conducted in 2003 and updated last year by Cochrane, a nonprofit network of independent researchers, found that pregnant women who received the continuous support that doulas provide were 39 percent less likely to have C-sections. In general, women with continuous support tended to have babies who were healthier at birth. Though empirical research has not yet linked doula support with decreased maternal and infant mortality, there are promising anecdotal reports. Last year, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a statement noting that "evidence suggests that, in addition to regular nursing care, continuous one-to-one emotional support provided by support personnel, such as a doula, is associated with improved outcomes for women in labor."

In early November, the air was thick with humidity as Giwa pulled up to Landrum's house, half of a wood-frame duplex, for their second meeting. Landrum opened the door, happy to see the smiling, fresh-faced Giwa, who at first glance looked younger than her 23-year-old client. Giwa would continue to meet with Landrum weekly until her Dec. 22 due date, would be with her during labor and delivery and would make six postpartum home visits to assure that both mother and baby son remained healthy. Landrum led Giwa through her living room, which was empty except for a tangle of disconnected cable cords. She had left most of her belongings behind — including her dog and the children's new Christmas toys — when she fled from her abusive boyfriend, and she still couldn't afford to replace all her furniture.

They sat at the kitchen table, where Giwa asked about Landrum's last doctor visit, prodding her for details. Landrum reassured her that her blood pressure and weight, as well as the baby's size and position, were all on target.

"Have you been getting rid of things that are stressful?" Giwa asked, handing her a tin of lavender balm, homemade from herbs in her garden.

"I'm trying not to be worried, but sometimes. …" Landrum said haltingly, looking down at the table as her hair, tipped orange at the ends, brushed her shoulders. "I feel like my heart is so anxious."

Taking crayons from her bag, Giwa suggested they write affirmations on sheets of white paper for Landrum to post around her home, to see and remind her of the good in her life. Landrum took a purple crayon, her favorite color, and scribbled in tight, tiny letters. But even as she wrote the affirmations, she began to recite a litany of fears: bleeding again when she goes into labor, coming home empty-handed, dying and leaving her sons motherless. Giwa leaned across the table, speaking evenly. "I know that it was a tragedy and a huge loss with Harmony, but don't forget that you survived, you made it, you came home to your sons," she said. Landrum stopped writing and looked at Giwa.

"If it's O.K., why don't I write down something you told me when we talked last time?" Giwa asked. Landrum nodded. "I know God has his arms wrapped around me and my son," Giwa wrote in large purple letters, outlining "God" and "arms" in red, as Landrum watched. She took out another sheet of paper and wrote, "Harmony is here with us, protecting us." After the period, she drew two purple butterflies.

Landrum's eyes locked on the butterflies. "Every day, I see a butterfly, and I think that's her. I really do," she said, finally smiling, her large, dark eyes crinkling into half moons. "I like that a lot, because I think that's something that I can look at and be like, Girl, you going to be O.K."

With this pregnancy, Landrum was focused on making sure everything went right. She had switched to a new doctor, a woman who specialized in high-risk pregnancies and accepted Medicaid, and she would deliver this baby at a different hospital. Now she asked Giwa to review the birth plan one more time.

"On Nov. 30, I go on call, and that means this phone is always on me," Giwa said, holding up her iPhone.

"What if. …" Landrum began tentatively.

"I'm keeping a backup doula informed of everything," Giwa said. "Just in case."

"I think everything's going to be O.K. this time," Landrum said. But it sounded like a question.

When the black-white disparity in infant mortality first became the subject of study, discussion and media attention more than two decades ago, the high rate of infant death for black women was widely believed by almost everyone, including doctors and public-health experts, to affect only poor, less-educated women — who do experience the highest numbers of infant deaths. This led inevitably to blaming the mother. Was she eating badly, smoking, drinking, using drugs, overweight, not taking prenatal vitamins or getting enough rest, afraid to be proactive during prenatal visits, skipping them altogether, too young, unmarried?

At Essence magazine, where I was the health editor from the late '80s to the mid-'90s, we covered the issue of infant mortality by encouraging our largely middle-class black female readers to avoid unwanted pregnancy and by reminding them to pay attention to their health habits during pregnancy and make sure newborns slept on their backs. Because the future of the race depended on it, we also promoted a kind of each-one-teach-one mentality: Encourage teenagers in your orbit to just say no to sex and educate all the "sisters" in your life (read: your less-educated and less-privileged friends and family) about the importance of prenatal care and healthful habits during pregnancy.

In 1992, I was a journalism fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. One day a professor of health policy, Dr. Robert Blendon, who knew I was the health editor of Essence, said, "I thought you'd be interested in this." He handed me the latest issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, which contained what is now considered the watershed study on race, class and infant mortality. The study, conducted by four researchers at the C.D.C. — Kenneth Schoendorf, Carol Hogue, Joel Kleinman and Diane Rowley — mined a database of close to a million previously unavailable linked birth and death certificates and found that infants born to college-educated black parents were twice as likely to die as infants born to similarly educated white parents. In 72 percent of the cases, low birth weight was to blame. I was so surprised and skeptical that I peppered him with the kinds of questions about medical research that he encouraged us to ask in his course. Mainly I wanted to know why. "No one knows," he told me, "but this might have something to do with stress."

Though I wouldn't learn of her work until years later, Dr. Arline Geronimus, a professor in the department of health behavior and health education at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, first linked stress and black infant mortality with her theory of "weathering." She believed that a kind of toxic stress triggered the premature deterioration of the bodies of African-American women as a consequence of repeated exposure to a climate of discrimination and insults. The weathering of the mother's body, she theorized, could lead to poor pregnancy outcomes, including the death of her infant.

After graduating from the Harvard School of Public Health, Geronimus landed at Michigan in 1987, where she continued her research. That year, in a report published in the journal Population and Development Review, she noted that black women in their mid-20s had higher rates of infant death than teenage girls did — presumably because they were older and stress had more time to affect their bodies. For white mothers, the opposite proved true: Teenagers had the highest risk of infant mortality, and women in their mid-20s the lowest.

Geronimus's work contradicted the widely accepted belief that black teenage girls (assumed to be careless, poor and uneducated) were to blame for the high rate of black infant mortality. The backlash was swift. Politicians, media commentators and even other scientists accused her of promoting teenage pregnancy. She was attacked by colleagues and even received anonymous death threats at her office in Ann Arbor and at home. "At that time, which is now 25 or so years ago, there were more calls to complain about me to the University of Michigan, to say I should be fired, than had happened to anybody in the history of the university," recalls Geronimus, who went on to publish in 1992 what is now considered her seminal study on weathering and black women and infants in the journal Ethnicity and Disease.

By the late 1990s, other researchers were trying to chip away at the mystery of the black-white gap in infant mortality. Poverty on its own had been disproved to explain infant mortality, and a study of more than 1,000 women in New York and Chicago, published in The American Journal of Public Health in 1997, found that black women were less likely to drink and smoke during pregnancy, and that even when they had access to prenatal care, their babies were often born small.

Experts wondered if the high rates of infant death in black women, understood to be related to small, preterm babies, had a genetic component. Were black women passing along a defect that was affecting their offspring? But science has refuted that theory too: A 1997 study published by two Chicago neonatologists, Richard David and James Collins, in The New England Journal of Medicine found that babies born to new immigrants from impoverished West African nations weighed more than their black American-born counterparts and were similar in size to white babies. In other words, they were more likely to be born full term, which lowers the risk of death. In 2002, the same researchers made a further discovery: The daughters of African and Caribbean immigrants who grew up in the United States went on to have babies who were smaller than their mothers had been at birth, while the grandchildren of white European women actually weighed more than their mothers had at birth. It took just one generation for the American black-white disparity to manifest.

When I became pregnant in 1996, this research became suddenly real for me. When my Park Avenue OB-GYN, a female friend I trusted implicitly, discovered that my baby was far smaller than her gestational age would predict, even though I was in excellent health, she put me on bed rest and sent me to a specialist. I was found to have a condition called intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), generally associated with mothers who have diabetes, high blood pressure, malnutrition or infections including syphilis, none of which applied to me. During an appointment with a perinatologist — covered by my excellent health insurance — I was hounded with questions about my "lifestyle" and whether I drank, smoked or used a vast assortment of illegal drugs. I wondered, Do these people think I'm sucking on a crack pipe the second I leave the office? I eventually learned that in the absence of a medical condition, IUGR is almost exclusively linked with mothers who smoke or abuse drugs and alcohol. As my pregnancy progressed but my baby didn't grow, my doctor decided to induce labor one month before my due date, believing that the baby would be healthier outside my body. My daughter was born at 4 pounds 13 ounces, classified as low birth weight. Though she is now a bright, healthy, athletic college student, I have always wondered: Was this somehow related to the experience of being a black woman in America?

Though it seemed radical 25 years ago, few in the field now dispute that the black-white disparity in the deaths of babies is related not to the genetics of race but to the lived experience of race in this country. In 2007, David and Collins published an even more thorough examination of race and infant mortality in The American Journal of Public Health, again dispelling the notion of some sort of gene that would predispose black women to preterm birth or low birth weight. To make sure the message of the research was crystal clear, David, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Illinois, Chicago, stated his hypothesis in media-friendly but blunt-force terms in interviews: "For black women," he said, "something about growing up in America seems to be bad for your baby's birth weight."

On a December morning three days before her due date, Landrum went to the hospital for her last ultrasound before the birth. Because of the stillbirth the previous year, her doctor did not want to let the pregnancy go past 40 weeks, to avoid the complications that can come with post-term delivery, so an induction had been scheduled in 48 hours.

During Giwa's last prenatal visit, the day before, she explained to Landrum that she would be given Pitocin, a synthetic version of the natural hormone that makes the uterus contract during labor, to start her contractions. "Will inducing stress out the baby?" Landrum asked. "I can't lie; I used to wake up and scream, when I'd be dreaming about getting cut open again. I know my body is fine, and I'm healthy, but I don't want to die."

"I respect how honest you are, and your trauma is real," Giwa told her, slowing down her words. "But my hope for you is, this birth can be a part of your healing. Your uterus is injured and has been scarred, but you've pushed out two babies, so your body knows what it's doing."

Now, lying on the table, Landrum looked out the window, smiling as the sound of her baby's heartbeat filled the room. A few minutes later, the technician returned and looked at the monitor. The baby's heart rate appeared less like little mountains than chicken scratching. He was also either not moving consistently or not breathing properly. A nurse left the room to call Landrum's doctor to get her opinion. The nurse returned in 20 minutes and gave Landrum the news that the baby would be induced not in two days but now. "We don't want to wait; we're going to get him out today," she said to Landrum.

"I'm very anxious," Landrum told Giwa on the phone as she walked to labor and delivery, a few floors up in the same hospital, "but I'm ready." An hour later, Giwa arrived, wearing purple scrubs, her cloth bag filled with snacks, lavender lotion and clary sage oil. She made sure the crayon-drawn affirmations were taped on the wall within Landrum's line of vision, then settled into a chair next to the bed, low-key but watchful. Though some doctors resent or even forbid the presence of a doula during labor and delivery — and some doulas overstep their roles and create conflict with doctors and nurses — Giwa says she and the other Birthmark doulas try to be unobtrusive and focused on what's best for the mother.

A medical resident, who was white, like all of the staff who would attend Landrum throughout her labor and delivery, walked into the room with paperwork. Right away, she asked Landrum briskly, "Have you had any children before?"

She hadn't read the chart.

"Yes, I've had three babies, but one died," Landrum explained warily, for the third time since she had arrived at the hospital that day. Her voice was flat. "I had a stillbirth."

"The demise was last year?" the resident asked without looking up to see Landrum stiffen at the word "demise."

"May I speak to you outside," Giwa said to the nurse caring for Landrum. In the hall, she asked her to please make a note in Landrum's chart about the stillbirth. "Each time she has to go over what happened, it brings her mind back to a place of fear and anxiety and loss," Giwa said later. "This is really serious. She's having a high-risk delivery, and I would hope that her care team would thoroughly review her chart before walking into her room."

One of the most important roles that doulas play is as an advocate in the medical system for their clients. "At the point a woman is most vulnerable, she has another set of ears and another voice to help get through some of the potentially traumatic decisions that have to be made," says Dána-Ain Davis, the director of the Center for the Study of Women and Society at the City University of New York, the author of a forthcoming book on pregnancy, race and premature birth and a black woman who is a doula herself. Doulas, she adds, " are a critical piece of the puzzle in the crisis of premature birth, infant and maternal mortality in black women."

Over the next 10 hours, Giwa left Landrum's side only briefly. About five hours in, Landrum requested an epidural. The anesthesiologist required all visitors to leave the room while it was administered. When Giwa returned about a half-hour later, Landrum was angry and agitated, clenching her fists and talking much faster than usual. She had mistakenly been given a spinal dose of anesthesia — generally reserved for C-sections performed in the operating room — rather than the epidural dose usually used in vaginal childbirth. Now she had no feeling at all in her legs and a splitting headache. When she questioned the incorrect dose of anesthesia, Landrum told Giwa, one nurse said, "You ask a lot of questions, don't you?" and winked at another nurse in the room and then rolled her eyes.

As Landrum loudly complained about what occurred, her blood pressure shot up, while the baby's heart rate dropped. Giwa glanced nervously at the monitor, the blinking lights reflecting off her face. "What happened was wrong," she said to Landrum, lowering her voice to a whisper. "But for the sake of the baby, it's time to let it go."

She asked Landrum to close her eyes and imagine the color of her stress.

"Red," Landrum snapped, before finally laying her head onto the pillow.

"What color is really soothing and relaxing?" Giwa asked, massaging her hand with lotion.

"Lavender," Landrum replied, taking a deep breath. Over the next 10 minutes, Landrum's blood pressure dropped within normal range as the baby's heart rate stabilized.

At 1 a.m., a team of three young female residents bustled into the room; the labor and delivery nurse followed them, flipping on the overhead light. They were accompanied by an older man Landrum had never seen. He briefly introduced himself as the attending physician before plunging his hand between Landrum's legs to feel for the baby. Landrum had been told that her OB-GYN might not deliver her infant, but a nurse had reassured her earlier in the day that if her doctor was not available, her doctor's husband, also an OB-GYN, would cover for her. This doctor, however, was not the husband, and no one explained the switch. Giwa raised an eyebrow. The Listening to Mothers Survey III, a national sampling of 2,400 women who gave birth in 2011 and 2012, found that more than a quarter of black women meet their birth attendants for the first time during childbirth, compared with 18 percent of white women.

"He's ready," the doctor said, snapping off his gloves. "It's time to push."

One resident stepped forward and took his place, putting her hand into Landrum's vagina, feeling for the baby. Landrum gripped the side of the bed and closed her eyes, grimacing. "You're a rock star," Giwa said. The nurse, standing at her side, told Landrum: "Push! Now. You can do it." After about 20 minutes of pushing, the baby's head appeared. "This is it," the nurse told her. "You can do this," Giwa whispered on her other side.

Landrum bore down and pushed again. "You're doing amazing," Giwa said, not taking her eyes away from Landrum. The attending physician left the room to put on a clean gown. Landrum breathed in, closed her eyes and pushed. More of the infant's head appeared, a slick cluster of black curls. The senior resident motioned to the third and most junior of the women, standing at her shoulder, and told her, "Here's your chance." The young resident took the baby's head and eased the slippery infant out. Landrum was oblivious to the procession of young residents taking turns between her legs or the fact that the attending physician wasn't in the room at all. She was sobbing, shaking, laughing — all at the same time — flooded with the kind of hysterical relief a woman feels when a baby leaves her body and emerges into the world.

The resident lay the infant, purple, wrinkled and still as a stone, on Landrum's bare chest. "Is he all right? Is he O.K.?" Landrum asked, panicking as she looked down at the motionless baby. A second later, his tiny arms and legs tensed, and he opened his mouth and let out a definitive cry.

"He's perfect," Giwa told her, touching her shoulder.

"I did it," Landrum said, looking up at Giwa and laying her hands on the baby's back, still coated with blood and amniotic fluid. She had decided to name him Kingston Blessed Landrum.

"Yes," Giwa said, finally allowing herself a wide smile. "You did."

In 1995, a pregnant African-American doctoral student had a preterm birth after her water broke unexpectedly at 34 weeks. Her baby was on a ventilator for 48 hours and a feeding tube for six days during his 10-day stay in the neonatal intensive-care unit.

The woman was part of a team of female researchers from Boston and Howard Universities working on the Black Women's Health Study, an ongoing examination, funded by the National Institutes of Health, of conditions like preterm birth that affect black women disproportionately. The team had started the study after they noticed that most large, long-term medical investigations of women overwhelmingly comprised white women. The Black Women's Health Study researchers, except for two black women, were also all white.

What happened to the doctoral student altered the course of the study. "We're thinking, Here's a middle-class, well-educated black woman having a preterm birth when no one else in our group had a preterm birth," says Dr. Julie Palmer, associate director of the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University and a principal investigator of the continuing study of 59,000 subjects. "That's when I became aware that the race difference in preterm birth has got to be something different, that it really cuts across class. People had already done some studies showing health effects of racism, so we wanted to ask about that as soon as possible."

In 1997, the study investigators added several yes-or-no questions about everyday race-related insults: I receive poorer service than others; people act as if I am not intelligent; people act as if I am dishonest; people act as if they are better than me; people act as if they are afraid of me. They also included a set of questions about more significant discrimination: I have been treated unfairly because of my race at my job, in housing or by the police. The findings showed higher levels of preterm birth among women who reported the greatest experiences of racism.

The bone-deep accumulation of traumatizing life experiences and persistent insults that the study pinpointed is not the sort of "lean in" stress relieved by meditation and "me time." When a person is faced with a threat, the brain responds to the stress by releasing a flood of hormones, which allow the body to adapt and respond to the challenge. When stress is sustained, long-term exposure to stress hormones can lead to wear and tear on the cardiovascular, metabolic and immune systems, making the body vulnerable to illness and even early death.

Though Arline Geronimus's early research had focused on birth outcomes mainly in disadvantaged teenagers and young women, she went on to apply her weathering theory across class lines. In 2006, she and her colleagues used government data, blood tests and questionnaires to measure the effects of stress associated with weathering on the systems of the body. Even when controlling for income and education, African-American women had the highest allostatic load scores — an algorithmic measurement of stress-associated body chemicals and their cumulative effect on the body's systems — higher than white women and black men. Writing in The American Journal of Public Health, Geronimus and her colleagues concluded that "persistent racial differences in health may be influenced by the stress of living in a race-conscious society. These effects may be felt particularly by black women because of [the] double jeopardy of gender and racial discrimination."

People of color, particularly black people, are treated differently the moment they enter the health care system. In 2002, the groundbreaking report "Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care," published by a division of the National Academy of Sciences, took an exhaustive plunge into 100 previous studies, careful to decouple class from race, by comparing subjects with similar income and insurance coverage. The researchers found that people of color were less likely to be given appropriate medications for heart disease, or to undergo coronary bypass surgery, and received kidney dialysis and transplants less frequently than white people, which resulted in higher death rates. Black people were 3.6 times as likely as white people to have their legs and feet amputated as a result of diabetes, even when all other factors were equal. One study analyzed in the report found that cesarean sections were 40 percent more likely among black women compared with white women. "Some of us on the committee were surprised and shocked at the extent of the evidence," noted the chairman of the panel of physicians and scientists who compiled the research.

In 2016, a study by researchers at the University of Virginia examined why African-American patients receive inadequate treatment for pain not only compared with white patients but also relative to World Health Organization guidelines. The study found that white medical students and residents often believed incorrect and sometimes "fantastical" biological fallacies about racial differences in patients. For example, many thought, falsely, that blacks have less-sensitive nerve endings than whites, that black people's blood coagulates more quickly and that black skin is thicker than white. For these assumptions, researchers blamed not individual prejudice but deeply ingrained unconscious stereotypes about people of color, as well as physicians' difficulty in empathizing with patients whose experiences differ from their own. In specific research regarding childbirth, the Listening to Mothers Survey III found that one in five black and Hispanic women reported poor treatment from hospital staff because of race, ethnicity, cultural background or language, compared with 8 percent of white mothers.

Researchers have worked to connect the dots between racial bias and unequal treatment in the health care system and maternal and infant mortality. Carol Hogue, an epidemiologist and the Jules & Uldeen Terry Chair in Maternal and Child Health at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and one of the original authors of the 1992 New England Journal of Medicine study on infant mortality that opened my own eyes, was a co-author of a 2009 epidemiological review of research about the association between racial disparities in preterm birth and interpersonal and institutional racism. Her study, published by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, contains an extraordinary list of 174 citations from previous work. "You can't convince people of something like discrimination unless you really have evidence behind it," Hogue says. "You can't just say this — you have to prove it."

Lynn Freedman, director of the Averting Maternal Death and Disability Program at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, decided to take the lessons she and her colleagues learned while studying disrespect and abuse in maternal care in Tanzania — where problems in pregnancy and childbirth lead to nearly 20 percent of all deaths in women ages 15 to 49 — and apply them to New York City and Atlanta. Though the study is still in its preliminary phase, early focus groups of some 50 women who recently delivered babies in Washington Heights and Inwood, as well as with doulas who work in both those areas and in central Brooklyn, revealed a range of grievances — from having to wait one to two months before an initial prenatal appointment to being ignored, scolded and demeaned, even feeling bullied or pushed into having C-sections. "Disrespect and abuse means more than just somebody wasn't nice to another individual person," Freedman says. "There is something structural and much deeper going on in the health system that then expresses itself in poor outcomes and sometimes deaths."

Two days after the birth of Landrum's baby, she had moved out of labor and delivery and into a hospital room, with the butterfly-decorated, crayon-drawn affirmations taped above her bed. She'd had a few hours of sleep and felt rested and cheerful in a peach-colored jumpsuit she brought from home, with baby Kingston, who had weighed in at a healthy 6 pounds 13 ounces, napping in a plastic crib next to her bed. But over the next hours, Landrum's mood worsened. When Giwa walked into her room after leaving for a few hours to change and nap, Landrum once again angrily recounted the mishap with the epidural and complained about the nurses and even the hospital food. Finally, Giwa put her hand on Landrum's arm and asked, "Simone, where are the boys?"

Landrum stopped, and her entire body sagged. She told Giwa that her sons were staying on the other side of town with her godmother, whom she called Nanny. But with children of her own, Nanny was unable to make the 40-minute drive to bring Landrum's sons to the hospital to see their mama and meet their brother. "After they lost their sister, it's really important that they see Kingston," Landrum said.

"I understand," Giwa said, stroking her shoulder. "You need the boys to see their brother, to know that he is alive, that this is all real." Landrum nodded. She made several phone calls from her hospital bed but could find no one to get the boys, so I left to drive across town and pick them up. It took Giwa's attentive eyes, and the months of building trust and a relationship with Landrum, to recognize a problem that couldn't be addressed medically but one that could have emotional and physical consequences.

The doula consumer market has been largely driven by and tailored for white women, but the kind of support Giwa was providing to Landrum was actually originated by black women, the granny midwives of the South. Inspired by that historic legacy and by increasingly visible reproductive-justice activism, dozens of doula groups like Birthmark in New Orleans have emerged or expanded in the past several years in Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, Memphis, Miami, Washington and many other cities, providing services to women of color, often free or on a sliding scale.

The By My Side Birth Support Program in New York City, administered by the city's Department of Health, offers free doula services during pregnancy, labor and delivery and postpartum for mothers in central and eastern Brooklyn's predominantly black and brown neighborhoods where maternal and infant mortality are highest. A team of 12 doulas has served more than 800 families since 2010, and an analysis of the program showed that from 2010 to 2015, mothers receiving doula support had half as many preterm births and low-birth-weight babies as other women in the same community.

Landrum introducing Kingston to Caden (left) and Dillon. CreditLaToya Ruby Frazier for The New York Times

Interventions that have worked to bring down maternal- and infant-mortality rates in other parts of the world have been brought back to the United States. Rachel Zaslow, a midwife and doula based in Charlottesville, Va., runs a program in northern Uganda, where a woman has a one-in-25 lifetime chance of dying in childbirth, through her nonprofit organization, Mother Health International. In Zaslow's program, community health workers — individuals selected by the community and given medical training — link local pregnant women to trained midwives and nurse-midwives. Since 2008, a mother has never died in Zaslow's program, and the infant-mortality rate is 11 per 1,000, compared with 64 per 1,000 for the country at large.

Three years ago, when she became aware of high rates of infant and maternal mortality in pockets of Virginia, Zaslow decided to take her Ugandan model there: a collective of 45 black and Latina doulas in Charlottesville, called Sisters Keeper, that offers birthing services free to women of color. "The doula model is very similar to the community health worker model that's being used a lot, and successfully, throughout the global South," Zaslow says. "For me, when it comes to maternal health, the answer is almost always some form of community health worker." Since 2015, the Sisters Keeper doulas have attended about 300 births — with no maternal deaths and only one infant death among them.

"It is really hard for American health care professionals to get their heads around that when you have an organized community-based team that connects technical clinical issues with a deep, embedded set of relationships, you can make real breakthroughs," says Dr. Prabhjot Singh, the director of the Arnhold Institute for Global Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who studies community health worker models and how they can be used in the United States. "In the U.S., doulas can't do it by themselves, but based on work that's taken place globally, they can help reduce infant and maternal deaths using what is essentially a very simple solution."

An hour and a half after Giwa noticed that Landrum needed to have her sons with her, Caden and Dillon burst through the door of the hospital room. Holding Kingston in her lap, Landrum lit up at the sight of the boys. Caden, who is 4, ran to his new brother, gleefully grabbing at the infant. "Calm down," Landrum said, smiling and patting the side of the bed. "Put out your arms, strong, like this," she told him, arranging his small arms with her free hand. Gently, she lay Kingston in his brother's outstretched arms. "It's my baby," he said excitedly, leaning down to kiss the infant all over his cheeks and forehead. "I luh you, brother."

Dillon, 7, was more cautious. He stood near the door, watchful. "Don't you want to meet your brother, Dillon?" Landrum asked. He inched closer, looking at the floor. "Come on, boy, don't be shy. This is Kingston." He sat on the other side of his mother, and she took the baby from Caden and placed him in Dillon's arms. He looked down at the newborn, nervous and still hesitant. "It's a real baby," he said, looking up at his mother and finally smiling. "Mommy, you did it."

"At that moment, I felt complete," Landrum said later, tearing up, "seeing them all together."

On a cool, sunny afternoon in March, Landrum led me into her living room, which now held a used couch — a gift from a congregant of her church, where she is an active member. A white plastic Christmas tree strewn with multicolored Mardi Gras beads, left up after the holidays, added a festive touch. Landrum handed me Kingston, now 3 months old, dressed in a clean onesie with a little blue giraffe on the front. Plump and rosy, with cheeks chunky from breast milk and meaty, dimpled thighs, he smiled when I sang him a snippet of a Stevie Wonder song.

Landrum had lost the baby weight and looked strong and healthy in an oversize T-shirt and leggings, wearing her hair in pink braids that hung down her back. There was a lightness to her that wasn't apparent during her pregnancy. One word tumbling over the next, she told me that the new baby had motivated her to put her life in order. She had been doing hair and makeup for church members and friends out of her house to earn money to buy a car. She had applied to Delgado Community College to study to be an ultrasound technician. "I love babies," she said. "When I look at ultrasound pictures, I imagine I see the babies smiling at me."

Latona Giwa had continued to care for Landrum for two months after Kingston's birth. The C.D.C. measures American maternal mortality not just by deaths that occur in pregnancy or childbirth, or in the immediate days afterward, but rather all deaths during pregnancy and the year after the end of pregnancy — suggesting the need for continued care and monitoring, especially for women who are most at risk of complications.

It was Giwa who drove Landrum and the baby home from the hospital, moving her own 2-year-old daughter's car seat from the back of her Honda and replacing it with a backward-facing infant seat, when Landrum had no other ride. It was Giwa who ushered the new mother into her home and then surprised her by taking a bag of groceries and a tray of homemade lasagna, still warm, from the back of the car. And it was Giwa who asked her, six weeks after childbirth, if she had talked to her doctor about getting a contraceptive implant to avoid pregnancy. When Landrum told her that her doctor had never called her about a checkup, Giwa was livid. "High-risk patients with complicated maternal histories often have an appointment two weeks after they've been discharged," she said later, after insisting that Landrum call to make an appointment. "Her life is hectic; she's at home with three children. Luckily she's fine, but at minimum someone should've called to check on her."

For Giwa's work with Landrum, from October to February, she earned just $600. Like the other Birthmark doulas, Giwa can't make ends meet just doing doula work; she is employed as a lactation consultant for new mothers both privately and at a "latch clinic" in a New Orleans office of the federal Women, Infants and Children Food and Nutrition Service that supports low-income pregnant and postpartum women.

"We need to recognize that there is actual medical benefit to having doula support — and make the argument that insurance should pay for it," says Williams, the Bay Area OB-GYN. "It is a job. People do have to be paid for that work." Insurance would mean some standardization; Williams notes that many programs securing public funding or grants to provide doula support to lower-income women can't match the kind of money that private doulas can command. These programs often have "all black women who are doulas," she says. "Yes, it's fantastic that these women are training to be doulas and supporting other black women — but they're not making as much as these other doulas." If, she asks, "doula support is important and can have this beneficial outcome for women, especially black women, how can we actually move forward to make that more accessible to everybody?"

In her home on that March afternoon, Landrum put Kingston into a baby carrier. He fell asleep as we walked five blocks to meet Dillon and Caden, who were due home from school at two different bus stops. The boys jumped off their buses, dressed in identical red polo shirts, their hair freshly cut, each dragging a large backpack, and ran to their mother. Dillon could hardly wait to pull out his report card and show his mother his grades; he had received four out of six "exceptional" marks. "He's smart," Landrum said, and he gave her a huge, gaptoothed smile.

Then he raced ahead, his backpack lurching as he leapt over bumps in the sidewalk full of pent-up little-boy energy; Caden was right behind him, doing his best to keep up with his brother's longer strides. "Hey, y'all, you be careful!" Landrum called, keeping her eyes trained on them. "You hear me?!"

Kingston stirred when he heard his mother's voice. He lifted his head briefly and looked into Landrum's face. Their eyes met, his still slightly crossed with new-baby nearsightedness. Landrum paused long enough to stroke his head and kiss his damp cheek. The baby sighed. Then he burrowed his head back into the warmth and safety of his mother's chest.



6) Teacher Walkouts Threaten Republican Grip on Conservative States

 APRIL 12, 2018




Thousands of teachers demonstrated at Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort, Ky, last week, protesting a measure to restructure public pensions. CreditAlex Slitz/Lexington Herald-Leader, via Associated Press

CHANDLER, Ariz. — An intensifying series of red-state battles over education funding and teacher pay threatens to loosen Republicans' grip on some of the country's most conservative states, as educators and parents rebel against a decade of fiscal austerity that has cut deeply into public education.

As Arizona teachers laid the groundwork this week for a walkout, thousands of Oklahoma teachers stayed out of the classroom to protest low school budgets, and some in Kentucky continued their protests against a pension reform bill. Last month, West Virginia's Republican-controlled government made concessions to striking teachers.

The clashes could elevate public education into a major issue in several midterm races this fall. Republicans are defending dozens of governorships and state legislative chambers across the country, including in several Southern and Western states where all-Republican governments have passed sweeping reductions in taxes and spending.

On Wednesday in Chandler, Ariz., a middle class city in the Phoenix suburbs, hundreds of parents and students joined teachers in protesting outside schools. A parent, Christine Clinger Abraham, whose daughter is a senior at Chandler High School, wore a red blouse to show solidarity with the teachers' #RedforEd movement. "They take so much personal interest in the kids," Ms. Abraham said, "but they have to have a second job" to make ends meet.

Ms. Abraham typically votes Republican, but said, "I would switch party lines" in order to support candidates who want to increase education funding. "I am very disappointed in the Republican Party we have locally," she said.

Both Republicans and Democrats in these strongly conservative states see the unrest around education as symptomatic of broader unease about years of budgetary belt-tightening that have followed popular tax cuts.

In Arizona, home to weak labor unions and a muscular school-choice movement, Gov. Doug Ducey, a first-term Republican, has championed tax cuts and private alternatives to public schools. The state is also holding a referendum this fall on expanding its school-voucher program. Daniel Scarpinato, a spokesman for Mr. Ducey, said the governor was prepared to defend his record.

Democrats running for governor have aligned themselves closely with teachers. The two Democrats vying to oppose Mr. Ducey, state Senator Steve Farley and David Garcia, a former state education official, said they viewed education funding as the strongest issue galvanizing opposition to the Republican-held government. Both Democrats have called for eliminating a range of tax exemptions to create revenue.

But Matthew Benson, an Arizona-based Republican strategist involved in education issues, warned that teachers risked overplaying their hand if they were too confrontational.

"By demanding 20 percent pay hikes and threatening to walk out of the classroom, Arizona teachers risk alienating voters and blowing their best opportunity in memory to achieve real change in this state," Mr. Benson said. "I suspect Arizona voters' well of sympathy for teachers is not bottomless."

In Kansas and Oklahoma, backlash against severe service reductions has spurred Republican-held legislatures to enact taxes that would have been unimaginable a few years ago.

Gary Jones, the state auditor of Oklahoma and a Republican candidate for governor, said his party had been "irresponsible" in slashing taxes without a plan to make up for lost revenue. That has bitten into public education: some rural districts in Oklahoma have a four-day week, and some schools are rationing paper and cutting foreign language classes.

A former chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, Mr. Jones said Republicans would imperil their hold on the governorship if they did not address voters' alarm about properly funding public services.

"It's real easy, politically, to cut taxes," Mr. Jones said, cautioning that some issues matter more than taxes: "People care about their kids. They care about their futures."

Most Republicans in the governor's race, however, have not joined Mr. Jones in chastising the right and the party overall remains committed to a small-government agenda, including in education. Among Democrats in these states, there is rising hope that a debate over funding schools and paying teachers could help them appeal to normally skeptical voters to the right of center.

Drew Edmondson, a former state attorney general in Oklahoma who is running for governor as a Democrat, called education a populist issue with appeal to rural conservatives.

"It's the special interests and the lobbyists who have kept our tax rates artificially low, to the detriment of our schools and hospitals and services to people," said Mr. Edmondson, who has been protesting with teachers at the State Capitol. "I think that'll resonate with the Trump voter."

Oklahoma's governor, Mary Fallin, a Republican, has already approved an increase in the state's tax on oil and gas production to increase education funding. But Mr. Edmondson said that step did not go far enough; he has called for increasing that tax further and eliminating a capital-gains tax deduction that favored the wealthy.

The education issue appears most likely to affect governor and state legislative races where school funding is most directly at stake. In some states, however, important federal offices are also on the ballot and mobilization among teachers and education-minded voters could raise turnout in perhaps half a dozen contested races for the House and Senate.

It is not unusual for states to elect governors of the opposing party because of state-level concerns. As recently as 2008, the four states rocked by mass teacher protests — Arizona, Kentucky, Oklahoma and West Virginia — all had Democratic governors. During the Obama administration, several blue states elected Republican governors in part as a check on government spending and powerful labor unions.

Most conservative leaders believe they still have a mandate to enact a broad agenda of fiscal restraint, including in education, at the state level. In Kentucky, teachers are protesting a bill, signed on Tuesday by Gov. Matt Bevin, to restructure public pensions for future teachers to be more like private 401(k) accounts. But State Senator Damon Thayer, the Republican leader in the chamber, predicted the measure would be popular in November.

Mr. Thayer acknowledged some legislators might feel pressure from "teacher protests and the hate-filled rhetoric on social media." But he said he intended to campaign aggressively to defend the pension overhaul, and said voters had elected an all-Republican government because they wanted dramatic reform.

"I believe there is a huge, silent majority out there, who are shaking their heads 'yes' at what Republicans are doing right now," Mr. Thayer said in an interview. "Frankly, I don't think this will be a negative, in terms of this fall's campaign."

Democrats in these states are making the opposite calculation. In Kentucky, Andy Beshear, the state attorney general and a potential candidate for governor in 2019, has rallied with teachers and has vowed to sue to block the legislation.

Kentucky teachers have mobilized in response: in addition to protesting, at least 40 educators are planning to run for state legislative seats this year, said David Allen, a former president of the Kentucky Education Association. Most are Democrats, but eight Republicans are among them.

"It's urban, rural, statewide and it is indeed unprecedented," Mr. Allen said of the mobilization. "I became an educator in 1968, and I've never seen anything like this."

The school-funding fights are likely to have implications within the national Democratic Party, which has struggled to win rural states over the last decade and counts public employee unions as a crucial constituency. Democrats eyeing the 2020 presidential election, including Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, have expressed support for the teachers. And Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont hailed the strikes as a sign that populism on the left can prevail in culturally conservative states.

"Somebody told me that West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky are 'red' states," Mr. Sanders wrote on Twitter on April 3. "They got that wrong."

Yet it is far from clear that the education protests are tied to a wider Democratic agenda. Mr. Trump won overwhelmingly in states like West Virginia and Oklahoma, and by a smaller margin in Arizona. Union officials cautioned that many of the protesting teachers tend to vote Republican.

Talley Sergent, a Democratic candidate for Congress in West Virginia's Second Congressional District, which includes the protest-swarmed capital of Charleston, said the walkout movement that ignited in her state was essentially nonpartisan.

"It's something even bigger: the frustration people have felt and continue to feel for getting the raw end of the deal," Ms. Sergent said. "They feel the government is rigged against them and not working for them."



7) Legal Aid Demands Rebates for Nycha Tenants Left in the Cold

 APRIL 12, 2018




Ashlee Watson, Tyrone Diamond, A'seelah Diamond and Jshai Watson at their home in Brooklyn last week. CreditKholood Eid for The New York Times

It was so cold in January in A'seelah Diamond's apartment at Fiorentino Plaza, a public housing development in East New York, that she, her husband and their three daughters all piled into one bed every night to keep warm.

The radiators did not work, the carbon monoxide detector sounded an alarm when the family turned the oven on for heat, and if they tried to run more than one space heater at a time, the electricity would shut off.

"The cold was unbearable," Ms. Diamond said. "My daughters would bring the blankets from their rooms and everyone would be in the bed like a big burrito."

During a New York City winter with the most days below freezing since 1961, Ms. Diamond, 31, put in at least 10 requests to repair the heat and hot water with her landlord, the New York City Housing Authority, to no avail, she said. On Jan. 4 when the temperature outside was 19 degrees, her apartment had no heat or hot water, according to the court papers.

Tenants such as Ms. Diamond and her husband, Tyrone, 30, who pay $1,282 a month in rent, deserve a refund, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan by the Legal Aid Society. The class-action lawsuit comes after the authority refused a demand from Legal Aid to abate from $2.5 million to $15 million in rent to tenants who were left without basic services during heating season.

"The law is very clear, it requires they provide heat at a certain level, and if they don't, they are subject to a claim," said Jennifer Levy, supervising attorney for Legal Aid's civil reform unit.

The lawsuit comes at a time when the housing authority is under intense scrutiny. Chairwoman Shola Olatoye announced her resignationTuesday. A group representing tenants has filed a lawsuit against the authority and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently declared a state of emergency at Nycha and appointed a special manager to oversee emergency repairs such as replacing the boilers and removing lead and mold.

The potential rebate that Legal Aid is seeking is based on the length of the outages and the average monthly rent of $509, or $17 per day, that Nycha tenants pay. But Jasmine Blake, a spokeswoman for the authority, said the agency is focusing its resources elsewhere.

"Every dollar spent on a rent abatement would be one less dollar for staff and repairs that we need to restore and maintain heat service," Ms. Blake said.

As the authority's creaky boilers struggled to keep up with freezing temperatures last fall and winter, 323,098 residents did not have heat or hot water at some point between Oct. 1 and Jan. 22, according to agency data obtained by the City Council. During the same time period, 143,000 out of more than 175,000 public housing apartments were without heat and hot water for an average of 48 hours, according to the housing authority.

According to the lawsuit, the housing authority closed heat complaints before they were resolved and misled the public about the length of the heat and hot water outages and how long it took to repair them.

In a March 29 letter to the Legal Aid Society, Vito Mustaciuolo, the authority's general manager, said Nycha created a roving team to respond to repairs and partnered with other city agencies to expedite them. Mayor Bill de Blasio has also committed $200 million from the city budget to repair the heating infrastructure.

Lucy Newman, staff attorney at the Legal Aid civil law reform unit, blamed the authority's inability to provide heat for residents on poor management and staff cuts. The authority has approximately 248 boiler maintenance workers on staff, down from 391 in 2013.

The lack of heat and hot water created havoc for Ms. Diamond, an eligibility specialist for the city's Human Resources Administration and her husband, a groundskeeper for the housing authority. One daughter has asthma which was exacerbated by the cold, Ms. Diamond said. The family had to boil water to bathe and spent over $200 to buy space heaters, she said.

"No one in 10-to-20-degree weather should have no hot water," Ms. Diamond said.



8)  Homeless Children Are 3 Times as Likely to Be Suspended at Some Schools

 APRIL 11, 201




Homeless students miss an average of 20 school days a year, making them less likely than other children to be on grade level and more likely to drop out of school.

They are also more likely to be suspended, according to a new reportfrom the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness, causing them to miss an average nine additional days of instruction. In all, that's almost six weeks of class time lost.

More than 111,500 New York City students were homeless at some point last year, whether they were staying in a shelter, in a hotel or with family or friends.

The report focuses on 102 middle schools that had high rates of suspensions during the 2015-6 school year, which it calls suspension hubs. It found that homeless students at those schools were even more likely than their classmates to be suspended, and when they were, the punishments were more severe, including for similar infractions. At suspension hubs, 14 percent of homeless students were suspended that year, compared with 9 percent of their classmates who lived in more stable circumstances.

At Frederick Douglass Academy II in Manhattan, which includes a middle school and a high school, 36 percent of homeless students were suspended during the 2015-6 school year, compared with 22 percent of students with stable housing. The study found that students staying in shelters and black children were more likely to be suspended.

At the 102 schools, 22 percent of homeless black boys were suspended.

During the 2015-6 school year, the citywide suspension rate for middle schools was 4 percent. For homeless middle school students citywide, it was 7 percent.

"This report is another indicator of what's happening with homeless children," said Ralph da Costa Nunez, chief executive of the Institute for Children. "These kids are dropping out at much higher rates than regular students. They're being suspended. They're repeating grades. It's almost becoming a death sentence for their future."

The upheaval of homelessness means those children are often anxious and traumatized, and that their parents are as well. Many of them travel long distances from where they sleep to school in the morning, leaving them exhausted before the day begins. Drained and frightened, they bring all of that with them to school.

The de Blasio administration has made it a priority in recent years to reduce suspensions in city schools, pushing schools to use what are called restorative techniques that encourage people in conflict to talk through their differences. During the 2014-5 school year, Mayor Bill de Blasio's first full school year in office, suspension rates fell 17 percent.

That trend abruptly reversed itself recently, though. The education department notified the City Council in March that suspensions jumped 21 percent during the last six months of 2017. The department said that in response to that bump, it gave additional training to certain schools, in areas like de-escalation, and the rise slowed considerably.

"We are committed to meeting the unique needs of students in temporary housing, which is why we have invested in more social workers in schools and trainings for staff in de-escalation and therapeutic crisis intervention," Miranda Barbot, an education department spokeswoman, said in a statement. "We remain laser-focused on addressing the root causes of conflict and behavioral concerns for students in temporary housing."

According to the education department, Frederick Douglass II has had an additional full-time social worker since last year, and the parent coordinator has attended training on how to better support homeless families. The school has had a mental health clinic on site since the 2015-6 school year.

The department said that during the 2016-7 school year, homeless students accounted for 13 percent of all suspensions, relatively flat when compared to the previous school year.

"If the new chancellor really wants to make a difference, to make a real mark, this is one place to start," Dr. Nunez said of the city's new schools leader, Richard A. Carranza, who started the job last week. "One hundred and ten thousand kids is no joke."



9)  300 Meters in Gaza: Snipers, Burning Tires and a Contested Fence

"As of Friday, 34 people had been killed, three of them under 18 years old, and more than 3,000 had been injured in the demonstrations, according to Gaza health officials. More than 1,000 have been hit by live fire; nearly 1,000 have suffered from gas inhalation; 300 from being hit by rubber bullets and eight people lost fingers or feet."

 APRIL 13, 2018




A protest in Khan Younis on March 30. The photographer, Yasser Murtaja, was killed in a protest in the same location the following week. Source: Yasser Murtaja, Ain Media

The image above shows how each side is arrayed in Khan Younis, one of five demonstration sites where 34 Palestinians have been killed since the protests began nearly three weeks ago.

The protests resumed on Friday, and the Palestinians plan to keep the weekly protests going with large turnouts until May 15, when many plan to try to cross the fence en masse. The Gazans are protesting Israel's blockade, which has been choking off the impoverished coastal strip for more than 10 years. They also want to reassert the rights of refugees and their descendants to reclaim their ancestral lands in Israel, 70 years after hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced.

In Israel's view, there is nothing benign about the Palestinian claim of a right of return. It would amount to the destruction of Israel by demographic means. And they see the protests as providing cover for violent attacks.

The fence that separates Gaza's 2 million people from Israel is not the sturdiest of barriers. To penetrate Israel, a Gazan would have to get past a crude barbed-wire barrier and cross a short distance, then get over or through a 10-foot-high "smart fence" packed with sensors to detect infiltrators. If a crowd of thousands surged toward the fence, it would take about 30 seconds to cross, the contractor who built it told Bloomberg News.

"We don't want to be in a position where we have to handle hundreds or thousands of people inside Israel," Giora Eiland, a retired major general and former head of Israel's National Security Council, said recently. "This is something we would not be able to contain. So the right way is to make sure nothing happens to the fence."

That means stopping people from touching it, even with deadly force. Though the protests were initially billed as nonviolent, the Israelis say they have repeatedly discovered grenades and other explosives along the fence, and that Palestinians have sometimes thrown firebombs at their soldiers, not just rocks. Israeli forces have responded lethally.

Few Israelis believe Hamas, the militant Islamic group that rules Gaza and is running the protests, is capable of peaceful protest.

The closer to the fence protesters move, the more perilous it becomes for them. The Israelis have made clear that people they believe are "instigators" are fair game to be targeted. Videos have surfaced of people being shot with their backs turned to the fence, while praying, or with nothing in their hands.

The latest rules of engagement, according to one Israeli report, permit soldiers to shoot armed Palestinians within 300 yards of the fence, and unarmed people within 100 yards of it. The Israelis' use of live ammunition has prompted demands for an investigation into possible war crimes.

Israeli snipers have positioned themselves atop large sand berms that military engineers are continually reconfiguring with tanks positioned nearby. After protesters burned tires to obscure the soldiers' view and rolled them toward the fence, the Israelis brought in giant industrial fans to disperse the thick black smoke and powerful water cannons to douse the fires. Soldiers have fired countless volleys of tear gas to try to push back crowds of demonstrators.

The military insists that its soldiers are instructed to shoot to warn, then shoot to wound, before shooting to kill. But the defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said: "Anyone who approaches the fence endangers his life."

The Conflict Zone

Some of the protesters sit, while others dart around, taunting Israeli sharpshooters. And some risk their lives by trying to get up to the fence.

Among the Palestinians, approaching the fence makes a powerful statement of defiance, bravery and national pride. A Palestinian photographer has even begun giving wounded protesters framed photos taken of them shortly before they were shot. And the Hamas political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, said in a speech this week that the demonstrators had "taught the world how to be men."

The Palestinians have much to be angry about. A collapsing economy and a worsening public health crisis along with the 11-year blockade of the tiny, jam-packed territory makes it almost impossible to leave. But the effort is billed as the Great Return March for a reason: Most Gazans are Palestinian refugees or their descendants, and marching on the fence highlights their desire to reclaim the lands and homes from which they were displaced 70 years ago in the war surrounding Israel's creation.

The Field HospitalWhen a demonstrator is shot, others rush to him and quickly carry him off the field to waiting ambulances or to tents that triage and give first aid to the injured. Farthest from the fence, along a road leading to central Khan Younis, is a field hospital with doctors and enough equipment to perform procedures short of major surgery. Other medical tents are staffed mainly by volunteer nursing-school graduates.

As of Friday, 34 people had been killed, three of them under 18 years old, and more than 3,000 had been injured in the demonstrations, according to Gaza health officials. More than 1,000 have been hit by live fire; nearly 1,000 have suffered from gas inhalation; 300 from being hit by rubber bullets and eight people lost fingers or feet.

Families and Prayer

Entire tent villages have been set up to meet the basic needs of demonstrators, and then some. Vendors sell falafel, nuts, sweets and lemonade from ramshackle huts. Once a day or so, a delivery arrives with free slices of pizza or cakes. Large dedicated prayer areas accommodate the faithful. Gaza journalists and radio hosts occupy other tents.

The tents nearest the fence, still not safe from Israeli snipers, house young men, some of them just groups of friends, others organized for various task such as providing tires to burn.

Farther back, many Gaza clans have pitched more elaborate tents with blankets and gas stoves inside, creating the feeling of an offbeat family reunion across much of the protest grounds. At the entrance to one tent, women baked saj, a round bread, over a wood fire on Thursday to hand out to demonstrators. Another tent, with coffee and comfortable sofas inside, was reserved for religious officials.

The organizers have created a festival-like atmosphere, with a robust schedule of daily events: Volleyball and soccer games played by amputees, poetry readings, musical performances, even horse races. The sudden crackle of gunfire and wail of sirens are at times the only giveaways to what is happening a short distance beyond the tents to the east.

The Israeli Side

Avocados, carrots and an abundance of other crops grow along the Gaza border on the Israeli side. Hundreds of Israeli citizens live within a mortar shell's range of Gaza territory in small communities of farmers such as Nir Oz and Kisufim. The army says its fierce defense of the fence is protecting those citizens — and stopping infiltrators from kidnapping a soldier or two — a longstanding Hamas tactic.

In the Israeli community of Nahal Oz near Gaza on April 6, a group of young people climbed an old watchtower along the community's western edge, looking out on the disturbances as if they were sitting in the nosebleed seats at a baseball game.

Parking lots full of tanks tucked away behind berms make up only part of the military's presence along the Gaza border. A $2 billion underground wall project is under way to prevent Hamas from digging any more tunnels into Israel used by attackers. And Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile batteries protect southern cities such as Sderot from Gaza rockets — though its sensors are so easily triggered that air-raid alarms have been set off in the area by gunfire alone.



10) Violence Erupts Anew at Gaza-Israel Border in Third Week of Protests

 APRIL 13, 2018




Palestinians used thick smoke from burning tires for cover as they gathered for a third consecutive Friday of mass protests along the border between Gaza and Israel.CreditMohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

GAZA CITY — Thousands of Palestinians flocked to the fence separating Gaza from Israel on Friday, and Israeli soldiers repulsed repeated attempts to cross the barrier with tear gas and live fire, as demonstrations that had already left dozens killed and thousands injured entered a third week.

More than 500 protesters were injured, including dozens hit by gunshots, and more than 100 were hospitalized, the Gaza Health Ministry said. Ten of the wounded were nurses and paramedics in Khan Younis. One man died of earlier injuries, bringing the protests' overall death toll to 34, the ministry said.

At the Shejaiya protest site east of Gaza City, demonstrators again used thick smoke from burning tires as cover, successfully pulling apart an Israeli barrier of coiled barbed wire before being shot at and turning back.

Israeli soldiers liberally fired tired gas canisters into a large crowd as far as 350 yards from the fence, sending men, women and children running, as ambulances ferried away the injured.

The theme of the day for the protests was "Flag Friday" — burning the Israeli blue and white, and raising giant standards with the Palestinian red, white, green and black. Gaza printers had been busy all week with an unusual assignment: Preparing thousands of Israeli flags to set on fire.

Less than a week before Israel will celebrate its Independence Day, Palestinian children held posters showing Israel's flag crossed out in red, with a slogan calling for the country's demise.

Protesters arriving at one encampment, in Khan Younis, trod on or rode motorcycles and even a camel over an elongated Israeli flag, with its Star of David, before heading toward the fence separating Gaza from Israel. The demonstrations were part of a mass protest against Israel's decade-long blockade of Gaza, an impoverished coastal strip along the Mediterranean.

The Israeli military said there had been repeated attempts to damage and cross the barrier, as well as several attempted attacks in which Palestinians hurled explosives at Israeli soldiers, drawing live fire in return.

Once again, the protests showed something of a split personality, with some participants vowing to be peaceful, while a few feet away, others prepared gasoline bombs to hurl at the Israeli side.

The demonstrations began on March 30, as organizers called for tens of thousands of people to gather near the border fence each Friday through May 15. Defying Israeli warnings, some protesters have approached the fence, throwing things and setting fires; Israeli soldiers have fired on the demonstrators, many of them unarmed.

Earlier, an imam leading prayers at the Shejaiya protest site called on several hundred worshipers to rise up against "the occupier," and urged them to continue to "be creative" in their modes of protest. While Hamas, the Islamic militant group that runs Gaza and is managing the demonstrations, has insisted that the marchers are being strictly peaceful, the cleric's message was homicidal.

"There will be a day that Muslims are going to witness," the imam said, quoting holy verses. "This day, Jews will be behind stones, and the stones will speak, saying, 'Come Muslims, and kill this Jew who is behind me.' "

Several hundred yards to the east, Israeli soldiers could be glimpsed atop newly heightened berms affording a commanding view of the protest field.

To the south, in Khan Younis, Palestinian journalists memorialized Yasser Murtaja, a journalist who was killed during the protests a week ago. The Israeli military has accused him of being an officer in the military wing of Hamas. But his image was plastered across posters and banners all over the tent village that declared him a national hero who died for the truth.

Inside a tent a few hundred yards from the barrier fence, a group of young men rested before donning skeleton masks, heading out to set tires ablaze to create a smokescreen — and then attempting to cross the fence into Israel.

At one end of the tent was a trophy: a coil of barbed wire they had cut from a barrier the Israelis have set up as a deterrent. It lies a few yards from the main fence, a much taller barrier with an array of electronic sensors.

Amjad Abu Jamous, 26, said that, should he manage to get past the main fence, he hoped only to face down an Israeli soldier with his arms outstretched and his fingers in the "victory" sign. He said he would be armed with wire cutters and rope.

"When I raise the victory fingers, the Israeli soldier will know that I have nothing in my hands," he said. "If he is a man, he won't shoot. But I don't trust him, as he is my enemy."

Merely getting across the fence, he said, would "terrify" the Israelis.

"It's a peaceful protest — we have no weapons," he said. "I want to show the Jews that we can enter our lands without weapons, only with a slingshot and stones."

But, he added: "If I had weapons, I would kill and abduct soldiers."

Like others at the Khan Younis protest, Mr. Abu Jamous said he wanted to reassert his claim to Israeli land that his father and grandfather had left behind decades ago as refugees: Jaffa and Beersheva, in their case.

"The Israelis are sitting in our lands, not their own lands," he said.

He said he had reached the main fence earlier in the week with another man, who was shot in the leg, forcing them both to retreat.

"When people see me crossing the fence, they will run and follow me," he said.

That is precisely what Israel's military fears — and why it is using deadly force to try to prevent anyone from getting across the barrier.



11) Starbucks C.E.O. Apologizes After Arrests of 2 Black Men

APRIL 15, 2018




Two black men were arrested on suspicion of trespassing in a Philadelphia Starbucks on Thursday. The police commissioner defended the actions of his officers, but Starbucks apologized.CreditMelissa DePino, via twitter

Two black men walked into a Starbucks in downtown Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon and sat down. Officials said they had asked to use the restroom but because they had not bought anything, an employee refused the request. They were eventually asked to leave, and when they declined, an employee called the police.

Some of what happened next was recorded in a video that has been viewed more than eight million times on Twitter and was described by the chief executive of Starbucks as "very hard to watch." Details of the episode, which the authorities provided on Saturday, ignited widespread criticism on social media, incited anger among public officials and prompted investigations.

The video shows the men surrounded by several police officers wearing bicycle helmets in the Center City Starbucks. When one officer asks another man whether he is "with these gentlemen," the man said he was and called the episode ridiculous.

"What did they get called for?" asked the man, Andrew Yaffe, who is white, referring to the police. "Because there are two black guys sitting here meeting me?"

Moments later, officers escorted one of the black men out of the Starbucks in handcuffs. The other soon followed.

The men, who have not been identified, were arrested on suspicion of trespassing. But Starbucks did not want to press charges and the men were later released, Commissioner Richard Ross Jr. of the Philadelphia Police Department said in a recorded statement on Saturday.

The prosecutor's office in Philadelphia also reviewed the case and declined to charge the men because of "a lack of evidence that a crime was committed," Benjamin Waxman, a spokesman for the office, said.

The company apologized on Twitter Saturday afternoon. Later that day, while the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks was trending on Twitter, Kevin R. Johnson, the chief executive of Starbucks, released a statement in which he called the situation a "reprehensible outcome."

Mr. Johnson said he hoped to meet them in person to offer a "face-to-face apology."

He also pledged to investigate, and to "make any necessary changes to our practices that would help prevent such an occurrence from ever happening again."

"Starbucks stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling," he said. "Regretfully, our practices and training led to a bad outcome — the basis for the call to the Philadelphia Police Department was wrong. Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did."

A company spokesman late on Saturday would not say whether any employees would face discipline.

longer video of the episode shows the police talking with the men for at least four minutes before Mr. Yaffe arrives. He informs the police that the men they are about to take into custody are "not trespassing" but instead are "meeting me here."

"That's absolutely discrimination," Mr. Yaffe said in the video. A lawyer for the men did not immediately respond to an email or phone message seeking comment late Saturday. Mr. Yaffe declined to comment.

In his statement, Commissioner Ross defended his officers, noting they had asked the men to leave three times because employees had said they were trespassing. The men refused, he said.

"These officers had legal standing to make this arrest," Commissioner Ross said. "These officers did absolutely nothing wrong. They followed policy, they did what they were supposed to do, they were professional in all their dealings with these gentlemen — and instead they got the opposite back.

"I will say that as an African-American male, I am very aware of implicit bias," he continued. "We are committed to fair and unbiased policing, and anything less than that will not be tolerated in this department."

About 700 of the department's 6,300 officers are equipped with body cameras, he added, but the officers involved were not wearing them.

Jim Kenney, the mayor of Philadelphia, blamed Starbucks, saying that the episode "appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018."

"Starbucks has issued an apology, but that is not enough," he said in a statement. He said he has asked the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations to examine the company's policies and procedures.

Starbucks said such a review was already underway.

"I know our store managers and partners work hard to exceed our customers' expectations every day — which makes this very poor reflection on our company all the more painful," Mr. Johnson said in his statement. He added: "You can and should expect more from us. We will learn from this and be better."



12) A Black Teenager Asked for Directions. A Man Responded With Gunfire.

APRIL 14, 2018




Brennan Walker and his mother, Lisa Wright. Brennan, who was shot at this week, said he was trying to ask for directions to school when "the guy came downstairs, and he grabbed the shotgun."CreditClickondetroit.com

Brennan Walker, 14, of Rochester Hills, Mich., woke up around 7:30 a.m. on Thursday — too late. He had slept through his alarm and was going to miss the school bus.

So he decided to walk to Rochester High School, where he is a freshman. That takes about an hour and a half, but he thought he would at least make it in time for his third-period class in world studies, his favorite subject.

Brennan did not have his smartphone that morning, and so, lacking assistance from GPS, he tried to follow the route his bus usually takes. He ended up in a quiet subdivision where the roads looped into each other, and when he noticed he had gone in a circle, he stopped to ask for help.

He tried one home, and then another. A woman answered the door, he said, and began yelling almost immediately, as if he were trying to break into her house.

"She didn't really give me a chance to speak a lot, and I was trying to tell her that I go to Rochester High and I was looking for directions," Brennan said on Friday. "A few moments later the guy came downstairs, and he grabbed the shotgun."

Brennan ran. The man followed briefly, walking out of his house and stepping off his porch, according to home security camera footage reviewed by the authorities. He fired a single shot with a 12-gauge shotgun, but Brennan was not hit. The teenager kept running. A few minutes later he encountered deputies — the woman at the home had called the authorities — and told his story.

"It's disgusting, it's disturbing and it's unacceptable on every level," Sheriff Michael Bouchard of Oakland County said. On Friday, the man, Jeffery Zeigler, 53, was charged with assault with intent to murder and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, the authorities said.

The security footage suggested that Mr. Zeigler was "not terribly weapons-competent," Sheriff Bouchard added. "He was slower to discharge the weapon and as a result, allowed this young man, thankfully, to get farther away."

The episode involving Brennan, who is black, called to mind instances in which black people have been killed by armed civilians or the police in recent years, like Stephon Clark, 22, who was fatally shot last monthby Sacramento police officers, setting off widespread protests. Brennan's story is similar to that of Renisha McBride, 19, who approached a stranger's home in a Detroit suburb and was shot and killed in 2013.

Brennan's mother, Lisa Wright, said she considered Rochester Hills, a Detroit suburb, a safe community but was only half-surprised that her son was threatened. "As a black person, I know it's a possibility," she said.

Mrs. Wright was mindful of what has happened to other black teenagers, like Trayvon Martin, the unarmed 17-year-old in Florida who was killed while wearing a hooded sweatshirt by a neighborhood watch volunteer. She said she had already had the talk with her son about all of the extra things he might have to do to keep himself safe: Don't wear hoodies. Be open and approachable. Take your hands out of your pockets. She added that in the security footage she had seen, her son appeared to be doing everything right on Thursday morning.

"I just remember a huge shotgun being pointed and aimed at my son," she said. "My son was running away."

Mr. Zeigler, a retired firefighter, told a District Court judge on Friday that he was in bed on Thursday morning when his wife began "screaming and crying," The Associated Press reported. "There's a lot more to the story than what's being told," he added, "and I believe that will come out in court."































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