Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, August 15, 2020





The remaining six Kings Bay Plowshares 7 defendants were granted a continuance for sentencing by Judge Lisa Godbey Wood of the Southern District Federal court of Georgia in Brunswick from the end of July until September 3rd and 4th. Due to spikes in COVID-19 cases in GA and ensuing travel restrictions the anti-nuclear activists had asked the court to further postpone sentencing toaccommodate their right to be sentenced in person in open court, not by video, witnessed safely by family, supporters and the press.
The new sentencing dates and times are September 3rd: Carmen Trotta at 9 am, Fr. Steve Kelly at 1 pm, Clare Grady at 4 pm. On September 4 will be Mark Colville at 9 am, Patrick O'Neill at 1 pm, Martha Hennessy (granddaughter of Dorothy Day who co-founded the Catholic Worker movement) at 4 pm. It is possible that there will be further delays depending on the course of the virus over the next month. We will try to keep you updated as we find out more as that time approaches.
The defendants had asked for home confinement during this time of COVID-19, as entering prison, especially for those over 60 years of age with health issues, could be a death sentence. Their request was opposed by the prosecution and the probation department which argued the charges involved a threat to human life (their own) by entering a restricted zone on the base where lethal force is authorized. This would raise the level of the offense and make them ineligible for home confinement. Judge Wood upheld this interpretation in the first sentencing of Elizabeth McAlister on June 8. At 80 years-old, the eldest of the KBP7 defendants and widow of Phil Berrigan, she was sentenced by video conferencing while at her home in Connecticut. Liz had served over 17 months before trial. The judge agreed with the US attorney's request for a sentence of time served plus 3 years supervised probation and restitution at $25 monthly (of $33,000 owed by all 7 jointly).

We are still urging people to write to Judge Wood not so much to ask for leniency but for justice and not a death sentence. Details are on the website: https://kingsbayplowshares7.org/2020/05/letters-to-judge-wood/

For the momentous 75th Anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki there will be numerous events happening physically and virtually around the world. We urge you to participate as you can to say no to nuclear weapons. The world is lurching towards a new nuclear arms race and treaties to limit them are being discarded. Trillions will be spent on new submarines and new weapons while the coronavirus is ravaging people throughout the world with limited resources available to stop it. Nevertheless there are some signs of hope. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has been ratified by 40 of the 50 nations needed for it to go into effect. Pope Francis has condemned even the possession of nuclear weapons for deterrence as no longer justifiable although the U. S. Church has quite a way to go to catch up.

U.S. vigils and actions are listed on The Nuclear Resister website. http://www.nukeresister.org/future-actions/ Groups normally planning civil resistance on Aug. 6-9 are adjusting plans, with some canceled. Some civil resistance actions, with risk of arrest, are still happening.

The defendants will be participating in local events.
Clare Grady will walk with Buddhist Nun, Jun San, in Ithaca, NY on August 1 at 12 noon. Beginning with a circle next to the pavilion just north of the Children’s Garden it will follow the Water Trail loop going north and back for first 3 miles and possibly on up West Hill, totaling approximately 6 miles.

Patrick O'Neill will participate in a remembrance and repentance service on Zoom at 7:30-8:30 am ET on August 6. Details will be on the KBP7 website.

There will be a vigil at the Kings Bay base on the morning of August 6, 10am-1pm. And a Zoom event that evening, #Blacklivesmatter and the Bomb, 7-8:40pm, with Professor Vincent Intondi. Details for both at:https://www.nonukesyall.org
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Events https://www.icanw.org/events

Physicians for Social Responsibility Calendar https://www.psr.org/calendar/tag_ids~111/




SHUT DOWN CREECH in the age of COVID-19

Creech Anti-drone Resistance, Fall Action:   

Sept. 27 - Oct. 3, 2020

Co-sponsored by CODEPINK & Veterans For Peace

Now that the online Veterans For Peace National Convention is coming to a close, many of you hopefully are re-invigorated to pump up your activism and peacemaking efforts. The many informative workshops and discussions at the convention underlined U.S. militarism and it’s multifaceted disastrous impact on the world.  "Now what can I do," you ask?

Please join us for all or part of this fall’s week of convergence at Creech Killer Drone Base in Nevada, north of Las Vegas.  Though the pandemic is in full force, we are committed to be at Creech for a full week of drone resistance.  What better way to work against U.S. Empire than to stand strong against the racist weapons that terrorize communities and brutally murder people remotely?

We will be sending out a detailed update around August 20, but at this point we plan to 100% camp outside to insure the safety of all of us during the Covid pandemic.  We will provide meals throughout the week.

Please go to www.ShutDownCreech.blogspot.com for more details.

Are you planning to join us?

Please register HERE, asap, to help us prepare ahead.

Contact us for any questions.  We hope to see you there!

In peace and justice,
Toby, Maggie, and Eleanor

CODEPINK, Women for Peace



Join us to demand that Governor Gretchen Whitmer release Grace from Children’s Village youth prison into her mother’s custody.


Join us to demand that Governor Gretchen Whitmer release Grace from Children’s Village youth prison into her mother’s custody.

During a court hearing on May 14, Judge Mary Ellen Brennan ordered that a 15-year-old high school student, Grace, be sent to Children's Village youth prison in Oakland County, Michigan for not submitting schoolwork. [1]

Imagine being sent to jail, being separated from your family, for missing homework assignments during a pandemic?!

This is an awful situation that we cannot let stand. The start of Grace’s probation coincided with the closing of schools through the remainder of the school year and the start of remote learning. Prior to the order for schools to close, Grace was doing well and had near perfect attendance. Grace shared with her caseworker that she felt unmotivated and overwhelmed when online learning began April 15, about a month after schools closed. Grace’s mom was also concerned that her daughter would struggle without the in-person support from teachers outlined in her Individualized Education Plan. She was right in her concerns, and as remote learning began, Grace did not continue to receive those critical supports.[2]

The reality is schools across the country weren’t prepared for abrupt closures and a pivot to remote learning. And across the country schools, teachers, parents and students have struggled to create continuous learning for students during this pandemic. Grace’s school was no different.

Still Judge Mary Ellen Brennan found Grace “guilty of failure to submit to any schoolwork and getting up for school” and outrageously called Grace a “threat to (the) community” for not doing her homework.

“It just doesn’t make any sense, how is this a better situation for her?” - Charisse, Grace’s mother.

This didn't have to happen. In fact, Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had issued an executive order in March that temporarily suspended the confinement of juveniles who violate probation unless directed by a court order and encouraged eliminating any form of detention or residential placement unless a young person posed a “substantial and immediate safety risk to others.”

Grace is NOT a “substantial and immediate safety risk to others,” and not doing your homework is NOT a crime. Judge Brennan’s ruling to incarcerate a child, sending her away from her family during a pandemic is cruel, harsh, and highlights an alarming trend of Black girls being criminalized at alarming rates in comparison to their white peers.[3]
Join us in demanding that Governor Gretchen Whitmer:
Release “Grace” from Children’s Village youth detention facility into her mother’s custody;
Request the immediate resignation of of Judge Mary Ellen Brennan from the Oakland County Family Court;
Drop all charges against “Grace” immediately;
End the racialized practice of arresting and prosecuting children, and ensure Michigan kids get the support they need including alternatives to incarceration and detention and trauma informed support and services.
Prison is no place for a kid. The United States still incarcerates more young people than any other country. [4] Our kids deserve a future free of criminalization, a future that supports their development and capacity to contribute meaningfully to society. Putting kids in prisons does the opposite of this. In fact they do little to improve community safety when compared to community based efforts that provide alternatives to incarceration by supporting young people, providing the services they need, and providing access to opportunities to address harm in meaningful ways.
Together we can END this toxic culture of criminalizing children, and of putting kids in prison, and we can start with Grace. Sign on to demand Governor Gretchen Whitmer #FreeGrace NOW! Click the link below to sign now:
- Beatriz, Monifa, Diarra and the whole MomsRising / MamásConPoder team

[1] Teen Who Was Incarcerated After Not Doing Schoolwork Won't Be Released, Judge Says
[2] A Teenager Didn’t Do Her Online Schoolwork. So a Judge Sent Her to Juvenile Detention.
[3] What can be done to stop the criminalization of black girls? Rebuild the system



Urgent Action: Garifuna leader and 3 community members kidnapped and disappeared in Honduras

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On the morning of Saturday, July 18, Garifuna leader Snider Centeno and other three members of the Triunfo de la Cruz community where kidnapped and disappeared by a group of men wearing bullet proof vests with the initials of the Honduran National Police (DPI in Spanish). The DPI is the Investigative Police Directorate and when it was formed years ago, was trained by the United States. As of this Monday Morning, there is still no word on the whereabouts of Mr. Centeno, Milton Joel Marínez, Suami Aparicio Mejía and El Pri (nickname).
Snider was the president of the elected community council in Triunfo de la Cruz and his community received a favorable sentence from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2015. However, the Honduran state has still not respected it. The kidnapping and disappearance of Snider and the 3 other men is another attack against the Garifuna community and their struggle to protect their ancestral lands and the rights of afro-indigenous and indigenous people to live.
National and international pressure forced the Honduran Ministry of Human Rights to put out a statement urging authorities to investigate and act. Your support can make the difference!
For more information and updated on what is happening in Honduras, please follow the Honduras Solidarity Network

Contact Us

Alliance for Global Justice
225 E 26th St Ste 1

Tucson, Arizona 85713-2925
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Party for Socialism and Liberation

Gloria La Riva nominated by Peace and Freedom Party in California

Now on the ballot in California, Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey and New Mexico!
Longtime San Francisco labor and anti-war activist Gloria La Riva was chosen today as the Peace and Freedom Party nominee for U. S. President. The party's state central committee cast 62 votes for La Riva and 3 votes for Howie Hawkins, with three abstentions. Anti-racist and disability rights advocate Sunil Freeman of Washington DC was then chosen without opposition as the party's nominee for Vice President.
La Riva received over 2/3 of the vote for the nomination in the March primary, but the State Central Committee's action Saturday will officially place the La Riva / Freeman ticket on California's November general election ballot. They will appear in a number of other states on the ballot lines of the Vermont Liberty Union Party and the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
Gloria La Riva said "We are honored to be the nominees of the Peace and Freedom Party. We are running not just to represent voters, but to represent the millions without the right to vote: undocumented immigrants, permanent residents, prisoners and parolees who are unable to cast a ballot. This is their country too."
Kevin Akin of Riverside, the new California State Chair of the party, reports that the ticket expects to get more votes in California than in any other state. "It's a clear way for a voter to show support for peace, socialism, and the immediate needs of the working class."

Read our Campaign Statements

Gloria La Riva Condemns Israeli Annexation Plan Calls for Solidarity with Palestinian People and End to U.S. Aid to Israel

Upcoming Events

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Questions? Comments? Contact us.
You can also keep up with the PSL on Twitter or Facebook.
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Resources for Resisting Federal Repression

Since June of 2020, activists have been subjected to an increasingly aggressive crackdown on protests by federal law enforcement. The federal response to the movement for Black Lives has included federal criminal charges for activists, door knocks by federal law enforcement agents, and increased use of federal troops to violently police protests. 

The NLG National Office is releasing this resource page for activists who are resisting federal repression. It includes a link to our emergency hotline numbers, as well as our library of Know-Your-Rights materials, our recent federal repression webinar, and a list of some of our recommended resources for activists. We will continue to update this page. 

Please visit the NLG Mass Defense Program page for general protest-related legal support hotlines run by NLG chapters.

Emergency Hotlines

If you are contacted by federal law enforcement you should exercise all of your rights. It is always advisable to speak to an attorney before responding to federal authorities. 

State and Local Hotlines

If you have been contacted by the FBI or other federal law enforcement, in one of the following areas, you may be able to get help or information from one of these local NLG hotlines for: 

National Hotline

If you are located in an area with no hotline, you can call the following number:

Know Your Rights Materials

The NLG maintains a library of basic Know-Your-Rights guides. 

WEBINAR: Federal Repression of Activists & Their Lawyers: Legal & Ethical Strategies to Defend Our Movements: presented by NLG-NYC and NLG National Office

We also recommend the following resources: 

Center for Constitutional Rights

Civil Liberties Defense Center

Grand Jury Resistance Project

Katya Komisaruk

Movement for Black Lives Legal Resources

Tilted Scales Collective



 Reality Winner Tests Positive for COVID, Still Imprisoned
With great anguish, I’m writing to share the news that NSA whistleblower Reality Winner, still in federal prison, has tested positive for COVID-19. Winner, despite her vulnerable health conditions, was denied home release in April – the judge’s reasoning being that the Federal Medical Center, Carswell is “presumably better equipped than most to deal with the onset of COVID-19 in its inmates”. 
Since that ruling, COVID infections at Carswell have exploded, ranking it now as second highest in the nation for the number of cases, and substantially increasing the likelihood that its medical capacity will be overwhelmed.
This news comes one week after Trump’s commutation of convicted felon Roger Stone, and two months after the home release of Trump’s convicted campaign manager, Paul Manafort:

Roger Stone’s Freedom Is All the More Outrageous While Reality Winner Languishes in Prison

Donald Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s prison sentence is galling on numerous levels. It’s a brazen act of corruption and an egregious obstruction of an ongoing investigation of the President and his enablers. There are few figures less worthy of clemency than a Nixonian dirty trickster like Stone. But the final twist of the knife is that Reality Winner, the honest, earnest, anti-Stone of the Russian meddling saga, remains in federal prison.

Continue Reading
Please share this with your networks, and stand with us in support of Reality Winner and her family during this critical time.
Thank you,
Jesselyn Radack
Whistleblower & Source Protection Program (WHISPeR)
Twitter: @JesselynRadack

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Note: Below are comments from Ambassador Andrew Young, who is also the former Mayor of Atlanta. The Ambassador notes that Imam Jamil Al-Amin was wrongfully convicted and that it's time to 'rejudge'.

Below is also a correction in the title of the previous posting about Otis Jackson, who admitted to the killing of which Imam Jamil Al-Amin was falsely accused of committing. The article is included below with the title correction being, "There are demands for a new trial"

And again, please sign the petition for a new trial and ask your friends to do so as well.

August 10, 2020
Justice Initiative

"(There's one case) that weighs heavy on my heart because I really think he was wrongfully convicted."
This Man, a Muslim, helped "clean up" Atlanta's West End.
"I'm talking about Jamil Al-Amin," he said, "H. Rap Brown."
"I think it's time to rejudge. He's been dying of cancer and has been suffering away from his family in the worst prisons of this nation." 
Ambassador Andrew Young Jr. 

Otis Jackson Speaks - 
The Man Who Committed 
The Crime Imam Jamil Is Serving Life For
There are demands for a new trial for 
Imam Jamil Al-Amin
Please sign the petition for a new trial

The Confession - My Name Is James Santos aka Otis Jackson (We Demand A Retrial For Imam Jamil)
The Confession - My Name Is James Santos aka OtisJackson (We Demand A Retrial For Imam Jamil)

Otis Jackson is a self-proclaimed leader of the Almighty Vice Lord Nation (AVLN). Founded in the late 1950s, the AVLN is one of the oldest street gangs in Chicago.
According to Jackson, the group under his leadership was focused on rebuilding communities by pushing out drug dealers and violence.
In a never-before published sworn deposition, Jackson recalls the events of the night of Thursday, March 16, 2000, in vivid detail.
It was a cool night as Jackson remembers. He wore a knee-high black Islamic robe with black pants, a black kufi-Muslim head covering-underneath a tan hat, and a tan leather jacket. His silver sunglasses with yellow tint sat above his full beard and mustache.
He arrived at Mick's around 7PM, when he realized his schedule had changed. He was no longer the food expediter in the kitchen; his title was now dishwasher/cook, which meant he would wash dishes and then help close the kitchen at night.
Since his title changed, he wasn't required to work that Thursday night. It immediately dawned on him that he had a 10-hour window to do whatever he wanted. As a parolee under house arrest, the opportunity to have truly free time was rare if even existent. Jackson decided to fill his new found freedom like most people fill their free time-he ran a few errands.
His first stop was the West End Mall where he got a bite to eat, did some shopping and then headed toward the West End community mosque, led by Al-Amin. He knew it was a regular building off of Oak Street, but wasn't sure which one exactly.
He parked his black Cadillac in an open field and walked down toward a house that turned out to be the mosque. He passed a black Mercedes before he got to the mosque, where he met a man named Lamar "Mustapha" Tanner. They talked for a while during which Jackson explained to Tanner that he was looking for Al-Amin to talk about how the AVLN could help Al-Amin's community.
Tanner told Jackson to check the grocery store, since Al-Amin could usually be found there. Tanner then gave Jackson his phone number and hurried away to go pick up his wife. Jackson proceeded to the grocery store. He wanted to discuss with Al-Amin how his AVLN organization could help further clean the streets of drug dealers in the West End community.
By the time Jackson made his way to Al-Amin's store, it was already late. He was afraid the store would be closed since he didn't see anyone else on the street. His fear was affirmed; the store wasn't open.
Hoping that maybe the owner would be in the back closing up, he knocked on the door a few more times. No answer. As he turned to leave, Jackson saw a patrol car pull up. By the time Jackson walked by the black Mercedes, the patrol car was parked in front of it, nose-to-nose. The driver of the patrol car got out and asked Jackson to put his hands up.
Immediately, this scenario flashed through Jackson's head: Here he was, violating his parole by not being at work, with a 9mm handgun in his waist. Jackson was afraid the cops would think he was breaking into the store. That meant they would probably frisk him and find the gun. The gun would be a direct violation of his parole; he'd be sent back to prison in Nevada.
Jackson ignored the order to put his hands up and instead began to explain that he was not trying to break into the store. He stated that he wasn't trying to steal the Mercedes either; his car was parked down the street. Both officers were out of the car with guns drawn and demanding Jackson put his hands up. The cops were closing in and there was little space between them. Jackson made a quick decision. He backed up against the Mercedes, pulled out his gun and began to fire.
He fired off two shots. The officers, while retreating, returned fire. Jackson wasn't hit and bolted toward his car, where in the trunk he had an arsenal of other weapons. As Jackson explains, "the organization I was about to form, the Almighty Vice Lord Nation, we're anti-oppression, and we fight, you know, drug dealers and what not, so...we need artillery."
He quickly opened the trunk - the lock was broken and held together with shoe string-and grabbed a lightweight, semiautomatic carbine Ruger Mini-14 with an extended clip housing 40 .223 caliber rounds. Jackson then headed back toward the cops; one was moving for cover behind the Mercedes, the other was on the police radio screaming for backup.
Jackson approached the officer he thought was the most aggressive, who was using the Mercedes for cover and resumed firing his rifle. The officer returned fire, hitting Jackson in the upper left arm twice.
Jackson, now angered and fearful for his life, shot back, downing the officer. Jackson stood over him and shot him in the groin up to four times. The fallen officer, Deputy Kinchen, in a last attempt to plead with his killer, described his family, mother, and children to Jackson, hoping for mercy.
But Jackson admits that by this time, "my mind was gone, so I really wasn't paying attention." Jackson fired again at the officer on the ground. Dripping his own blood on the concrete where he stood, Jackson then turned his attention to Deputy English who was running toward the open field. Jackson believed English was flagging down another officer; he couldn't let him get away.
Jackson hit English four times. One shot hit him in the leg; he soon fell, screaming, thereby confirming Jackson's shot. After English went down, Jackson, in a state of shock, walked down pass the mosque.
Nursing his bleeding wounds, he tried to stop three passing cars on the road; no one dared pull over. He then walked back down the street and knocked on three different doors for assistance. Only one even turned the light on, but no one opened the door for Jackson. He then made his way back to his car and drove to his mother's home.
As he walked in the door, the phone rang. His mother was asleep, so Jackson hurriedly answered it in the other room. It was a representative from the Sentinel Company that provided the monitoring service for Jackson's ankle bracelet. The man on the phone asked where Jackson was; he responded that he was at work. The Sentinel representative explained that his unaccounted for absence would have to be marked down as a violation. Jackson agreed and quickly ended the conversation.
Although one bullet exited through the back of his arm, the other was still lodged in his upper left arm. Jackson called a couple of female friends, who were registered nurses. The women, who were informed by Jackson that he was robbed in the middle of the night, arrived at his house and worked for three hours to remove the bullet from his arm. Jackson then called Mustapha Tanner, whom he just met earlier in the evening, and asked him to come by his house.
Tanner arrived before 10am. Jackson explained what had happened the previous night and said he needed to get rid of the guns and the car. Jackson's car trunk contained enough artillery for a mini-militia: three Ruger Mini-14 rifles, an M16 assault rifle, a .45 handgun, three 9mm handguns and a couple of shotguns. Once Tanner left, Jackson called his parole officer Sarah Bacon and let her know that he "had been involved in a situation," but left out the details.
In the following days, Jackson was asked to report to the Sentinel Company. He checked in with the monitoring company and his parole officer, and was then given a ride back home. As they pulled onto his street, Jackson noticed many unmarked police cars. After entering his driveway, multiple police officers emerged. The police searched Jackson's house and found rounds of Mini-14, .223, 9mm, and M16 ammunition. Jackson's bloody clothes and boots from the shootout with the deputies the night before were left untouched in his closet.
On March 28, 2000, Jackson's parole was revoked and he was sent back to prison to serve the remainder of his sentence in Nevada. Upon his detainment in Florida and later transfer to Nevada, Jackson confessed the crime to anyone who would listen. Jackson claims that when he reached the Clark County Jail in Las Vegas, Nevada, he made numerous phone calls to the F.B.I., after which an agent arrived to discuss the incident with him. Jackson recalls telling his story to "Special Agent Mahoney."
Special Agent Devon Mahoney recalls documenting the confession, but not much beyond that. Mahoney remembers getting a call from a superior to "talk to someone" in a Las Vegas jail and then to "document it and file it up the chain of command." The confession was documented and filed on June 29, 2000.

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Subject: Shut Down Fort Hood! Justice for Vanessa Guillén. Sign the petition!




Timeless words of wisdom from Friedrich Engels:

This legacy belongs to all of us:

“Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first. The people who, in Mesopotamia, Greece, Asia Minor and elsewhere, destroyed the forest to obtain cultivable land, never dreamed that by removing along with the forests the collecting centres and reservoirs of moisture they were laying the basis for the present forlorn state of those countries. . . Thus at every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like someone standing outside nature–but that we, with flesh, blood and brain, belong to nature, and exist in its midst, and that all our mastery of it consists in the fact that we have the advantage over all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly.” The Part played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man 1876. —Friedrich Engels



Marvin Gaye - What's Going On (Official Video 2019)


Because once is not enough. Because sometimes music is my only solace. Because sometimes it hurts too much too care but to be human is to hurt. Because I feel lucky to have grown up with great music. Because that music was harmonic and melodious. Because that music had soul. Because I grew up with Blues and Motown and Jazz. Because I grew up with Black friends and we played ball everyday and we had fun and we were winners. Because they taught me about music and soul and acceptance. Because they didn't hate me for being white. Because I was brought up with Irish Catholics who taught me that fighting and arguing for justice kept depression in its place. Because they taught me that if you never quit fighting you haven't lost so never quit fighting for justice. Because I was in a union and learned that solidarity is the original religion. Because without solidarity you are alone. And alone is hell and because I have never been in hell. Because I am part of the human race. Because the human race is the only race on earth. Because I am grateful for Marvin Gaye, and John Coltrane, and Sam Cooke and because you know what I am talking about. Because we are going to win and we are going to have fun. Because that's the truth. Because no lie can defeat truth. Because you are there to hear me. Because I know I am not alone.  —Gregg Shotwell


(Gregg Shotwell is a retired autoworker, writer and poet.)



"When I liberate myself, I liberate others. If you don't speak out, ain't nobody going to speak out for you."

Fannie Lou Hamer 

Dear Community, 

Do you know what wakes me up every day? Believing that we will win. We always knew that we were on the right side of history—but this summer between unveiling the racist outcomes of COVID-19, the global uprisings and the nationwide 650+ Juneneenth actions, we have momentum like we’ve never had before, and the majority of the country is with us. We know that the next step in our pathway to liberation is to make a strong political move at the ballot box—and we need you to lead the effort to entice, excite, educate, and ignite our people, from the babies to the grannies. Black August belongs to the Electoral Justice Project; it is our turn to set the national Black Political Agenda, and we want you to join us!

In a crisis, we have found resilience and the opportunity to make history. This is the genius of our Blackness—even amid a devastating pandemic that exposed racism and anti-Blackness as the real pre-existing conditions harming our communities, we are rising up and taking action to build power and demand that our rights and dignity be upheld and respected.

This summer, we will continue the legacy of Black Political Power-building and the righteous anger and momentum in the streets to shape a movement that will extend to the November elections and beyond. 

We invite you to join the Movement for Black Lives on Friday, August 28, at for the Black National Convention—a primetime event in celebration of Black Culture, Black Political Power-building, and a public policy agenda that will set forth an affirmative vision for Black Lives.

We are drawing from a legacy of struggle for Black Liberation. In 1964, Black communities across Mississippi and the South united in the face of systemic racism and voter suppression. That summer, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the landmark Civil Rights Act, which after decades of violence and segregation, was won through sheer will. Then, on March 10, 1972, 4,000 Black people from every political affiliation attended the National Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana, to yield power for Black people. While the historic event generated a new Black Political Agenda and quadrupled the number of Black elected officials by the end of the 1970s, it was not without its divisions and tensions—ranging from questions about the efficacy of Reverend Jesse Jackson’s assertion of a “Liberation Party” to the isolation of then–Presidential Candidate Shirley Chishom.

Despite the varied outcomes, the National Black Political Convention was an influential moment in Black History. Forty-eight years later, we are meeting yet another opportunity for radical change. This Black August, join us as we unveil one of the boldest political platforms our country has ever seen, partnering to ignite millions across the country. www.blacknovember.org

You feel that? We’re going to win. 

With Black Love, 

Jessica Byrd and the Black National Convention Planning Teamp




Tell Blackrock: stop investing in Tasers that police have used to kill thousands of Americans!

BlackRock loves to make a killing on killing: Over a thousand Americans have been killed by Tasers — 32 percent of them are Black Americans. Tasers are made by the colossal law enforcement supplier Axon Enterprise, based in Arizona.
One of their top shareholders happens to be Blackrock. Recently Blackrock has been trying to be sympathetic to the atrocities of murders waged on Black Americans and communities of color. If we ramp up massive pressure and blow the whistle on their deadly stocks, we can highlight that divesting from Tasers and the war in our streets will be a step in the right direction in building a fair and just society.
This issue is important to having peace in our streets. But this will only work if people participate. Send an email to Blackrock to divest from the Taser manufacturer Axon Enterprise which is responsible for the killing of thousands of Americans, and CODEPINK will pull out all the stops to make sure Blackrock execs hear our call:

Tell Blackrock: stop investing in Tasers!

Blackrock could do this. They recently announced that they were divesting from fossil fuels — signaling a shift in their policies. If CEO Larry Fink cares about “diversity, fairness, and justice” and building a “stronger, more equal, and safer society” — he should divest from Tasers.
Plus, compared to Blackrock’s other holdings, Taser stocks aren’t even that significant!

But if Blackrock does this, it could be the first domino we need to get other investment companies on board too. Send an email to BlackRock and share this widely! 

Tell Blackrock: stop investing in Tasers!

If there’s one thing our community stands for, it’s peace and social justice. And one way we can help achieve that is by cutting off the flow of cash into the manufacturing of Tasers. So, let’s come together to make that happen, and help prevent more innocent Americans from being killed with these senseless tools.

With hope,
Nancy, Carley, Jodie, Paki, Cody, Kelsey, and Yousef

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Rayshard Brooks, 27 years old, was shot to death while running away from police in Atlanta Friday, June 12, 2020.





Kimberly Jones

If you haven't seen this, you're missing something spectacular:

On Saturday May 30th filmmaker and photographer David Jones of David Jones Media felt compelled to go out and serve the community in some way. He decided to use his art to try and explain the events that were currently impacting our lives. On day two, Sunday the 31st, he activated his dear friend author Kimberly Jones to tag along and conduct interviews. During a moment of downtime he captured these powerful words from her and felt the world couldn’t wait for the full length documentary, they needed to hear them now.

Kimberly Jones on YouTube 



Awesome! I always wonder about what protests accomplish. Here’s a list:

So what has protesting accomplished?

👉🏾Within 10 days of sustained protests:
Minneapolis bans use of choke holds.

👉🏾Charges are upgraded against Officer Chauvin, and his accomplices are arrested and charged.

👉🏾Dallas adopts a "duty to intervene" rule that requires officers to stop other cops who are engaging in inappropriate use of force.

👉🏾New Jersey’s attorney general said the state will update its use-of-force guidelines for the first time in two decades.

👉🏾In Maryland, a bipartisan work group of state lawmakers announced a police reform work group.

👉🏾Los Angeles City Council introduces motion to reduce LAPD’s $1.8 billion operating budget.

👉🏾MBTA in Boston agrees to stop using public buses to transport police officers to protests.

👉🏾Police brutality captured on cameras leads to near-immediate suspensions and firings of officers in several cities (i.e., Buffalo, Ft. Lauderdale).

👉🏾Monuments celebrating confederates are removed in cities in Virginia, Alabama, and other states.

👉🏾Street in front of the White House is renamed "Black Lives Matter Plaza.”
Military forces begin to withdraw from D.C.

Then, there's all the other stuff that's hard to measure:

💓The really difficult public and private conversations that are happening about race and privilege.

💓The realizations some white people are coming to about racism and the role of policing in this country.

💓The self-reflection.

💓The internal battles exploding within organizations over issues that have been simmering or ignored for a long time. Some organizations will end as a result, others will be forever changed or replaced with something stronger and fairer.


🌎 Protests against racial inequality sparked by the police killing of George Floyd are taking place all over the world.

🌎 Rallies and memorials have been held in cities across Europe, as well as in Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand.

🌎 As the US contends with its second week of protests, issues of racism, police brutality, and oppression have been brought to light across the globe.

🌎 People all over the world understand that their own fights for human rights, for equality and fairness, will become so much more difficult to win if we are going to lose America as the place where 'I have a dream' is a real and universal political program," Wolfgang Ischinger, a former German ambassador to the US, told the New Yorker.

🌎 In France, protesters marched holding signs that said "I can't breathe" to signify both the words of Floyd, and the last words of Adama Traoré, a 24-year-old black man who was subdued by police officers and gasped the sentence before he died outside Paris in 2016.

🌎 Cities across Europe have come together after the death of George Floyd:

✊🏽 In Amsterdam, an estimated 10,000 people filled the Dam square on Monday, holding signs and shouting popular chants like "Black lives matter," and "No justice, no peace."

✊🏽 In Germany, people gathered in multiple locations throughout Berlin to demand justice for Floyd and fight against police brutality.

✊🏾 A mural dedicated to Floyd was also spray-painted on a stretch of wall in Berlin that once divided the German capital during the Cold War.

✊🏿 In Ireland, protesters held a peaceful demonstration outside of Belfast City Hall, and others gathered outside of the US embassy in Dublin.

✊🏿In Italy, protesters gathered and marched with signs that said "Stop killing black people," "Say his name," and "We will not be silent."

✊🏾 In Spain, people gathered to march and hold up signs throughout Barcelona and Madrid.

✊🏾 In Athens, Greece, protesters took to the streets to collectively hold up a sign that read "I can't breathe."

✊🏾 In Brussels, protesters were seen sitting in a peaceful demonstration in front of an opera house in the center of the city.

✊🏾In Denmark, protesters were heard chanting "No justice, no peace!" throughout the streets of Copenhagen, while others gathered outside the US embassy.

✊🏾 In Canada, protesters were also grieving for Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old black woman who died on Wednesday after falling from her balcony during a police investigation at her building.

✊🏾 And in New Zealand, roughly 2,000 people marched to the US embassy in Auckland, chanting and carrying signs demanding justice.

💐 Memorials have been built for Floyd around the world, too. In Mexico City, portraits of him were hung outside the US embassy with roses, candles, and signs.

💐 In Poland, candles and flowers were laid out next to photos of Floyd outside the US consulate.

💐 And in Syria, two artists created a mural depicting Floyd in the northwestern town of Binnish, "on a wall destroyed by military planes."

Before the assassination of George Floyd some of you were able to say whatever the hell you wanted and the world didn't say anything to you...


Don't wake up tomorrow on the wrong side of this issue. Its not to late to SAY,

"Maybe I need to look at this from a different perspective."

"Maybe I don't know what its like to be black in America..."

"Maybe, just maybe, I have been taught wrong."

There is still so much work to be done. It's been a really dark, raw week. This could still end badly. But all we can do is keep doing the work.

Keep protesting.


How beautiful is that?








*I do not know the original author*

Copy & paste widely!






Ultimately, the majority of human suffering is caused by a system that places the value of material wealth over the value of
human life. To end the suffering, we must end the profit motive—the very foundation of capitalism itself.
(Bay Area United Against War Newsletter)



George Floyd's Last Words
"It's my face man
I didn't do nothing serious man
please I can't breathe
please man
please somebody
please man
I can't breathe
I can't breathe
man can't breathe, my face
just get up
I can't breathe
please (inaudible)
I can't breathe sh*t
I will
I can't move
I can't
my knee
my nuts
I'm through
I'm through
I'm claustrophobic
my stomach hurt
my neck hurts
everything hurts
some water or something
I can't breathe officer
don't kill me
they gon' kill me man
come on man
I cannot breathe
I cannot breathe
they gon' kill me
they gon' kill me
I can't breathe
I can't breathe
please sir
please I can't breathe"

Then his eyes shut and the pleas stop. George Floyd was pronounced dead shortly after.






Trump Comic Satire—A Proposal
          By Shakaboona

Hello everyone, it's Shakaboona here, on May 29, 2020, Friday, it was reported by NPR and other news agencies that when protestors marched on the White House, the Secret Service (SS) rushed Pres. Trump to a protective bunker in the basement of the White House for his safety. When I heard that news I instantly visualized 3 scenes - (Scene 1) a pic of Pres. Saddam Hussein hiding in an underground cave in fear of the U.S. Army, (Scene 2) a pic of Pres. Donald Trump hiding in an underground bunker shaking in fear beneath a desk from U.S. Protestors as Secret Service guards (with 2 Lightning bolts on their collars) in hyper security around him with big guns drawn out, and (Scene 3) a pic of Pres. Trump later stood in front of the church across from the White House with a Bible in hand & chest puffed out & threatened to activate the U.S. Army against American citizen protestors.
 ~ I think this would be an underground iconic image of the power of the People & the cowardice/fear of Pres. Trump, not to mention that I think such a creative comic satire of Trump would demolish his self image (haha). I ask for anyone's help to turn my above visual satire of Trump into an actual comic satire strip & for us to distribute the finished comic satire strip worldwide, esp. to the news media. Maybe we can get Trump to see it and watch him blow a gasket (lol).
 ~ Please everyone, stay safe out there, b/c Trump is pushing this country to the verge of Civil War. Be prepared in every way imaginable. Peace. - Ur Brother, Shakaboona

Write to Shakaboona:
Smart Communications/PA DOC
Kerry Shakaboona Marshall #BE7826
SCI Rockview
P.O. Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL 33733









Still photo from Stanley Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove"released January 29, 1964

Enough is Enough: Global Nuclear Weapons 

Spending 2020

  In its report "Enough is Enough: Global Nuclear Weapons Spending 2020" the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has produced the first estimate in nearly a decade of global nuclear weapon spending, taking into account costs to maintain and build new nuclear weapons. ICAN estimates that the nine nuclear-armed countries spent $72.9 billion on their 13,000-plus nuclear weapons in 2019, equaling $138,699 every minute of 2019 on nuclear weapons, and a $7.1 billion increase from 2018.
These estimates (rounded to one decimal point) include nuclear warhead and nuclear-capable delivery systems operating costs and development where these expenditures are publicly available and are based on a reasonable percentage of total military spending on nuclear weapons when more detailed budget data is not available. ICAN urges all nuclear-armed states to be transparent about nuclear weapons expenditures to allow for more accurate reporting on global nuclear expenditures and better government accountability.
ICAN, May 2020



Shooting and looting started: 400 years ago

Shooting, looting, scalping, lynching,
Raping, torturing their way across
the continent—400 years ago—
Colonial settler thugs launched this
endless crimson tide rolling down on
Colonial settler thugs launched this
endless crimson tide leaving in-
visible yellow crime
scene tape crisscrossing Tallahassee
to Seattle; San Diego to Bangor… 
Shooting Seneca, Seminole, Creek,
Choctaw, Mohawk, Cayuga, Blackfeet,
Shooting Sioux, Shawnee, Chickasaw,
Chippewa before
Looting Lakota land; Looting Ohlone
Looting Ashanti, Fulani, Huasa, Wolof,
Yoruba, Ibo, Kongo, Mongo, Hutu, Zulu…
Colonial settler thugs launched this
endless crimson tide—hot lead storms—
Shooting, looting Mexico for half of New
Mexico; a quarter of Colorado; some of
Wyoming and most of Arizona; Looting
Mexico for Utah, Nevada and California
So, next time Orange Mobutu, Boss Tweet,
is dirty like Duterte—howling for shooting;
Next time demented minions raise rifles to
shoot; Remind them that
Real looters wear Brooks Brothers suits;
Or gold braid and junk medals ‘cross their
chests. Real looters—with Capitalist Hill
Steal trillions
Not FOX-boxes, silly sneakers, cheap clothes…
© 2020. Raymond Nat Turner, The Town Crier. All Rights Reserved.       











Veterans Join Call for a Global Ceasefire, The Lasting Effects of War Book Discussion, Sir, No Sir Viewing, VFP's Online Convention, Workshop Proposals, Convention FAQ, No More COVID-19 Money For the Pentagon, Repeal the AUMF, Community Conversation on Hybrid Warfare, St Louis VFP Delivers VA Lunch, In the News and Calendar

Veterans Join Call for a Global Ceasefire 

Veterans For Peace, as a United Nations Department of Global Communication affiliated NGO, is most gratified to see UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres make his plea for a worldwide ceasefire during this global pandemic. 

The first line of the Preamble of the UN's Charter says that they originated to save “succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. But sadly, because the UN was created by the victors of WW2 who remain the powers of the world, and because the UN depends for funding on those same militarily and economically dominant nation-states, primarily the U.S., much more often than not the UN is very quiet on war. 

Please join Veterans For Peace in appealing to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft to support the Secretary General's call for a GLOBAL CEASEFIRE! 

For more information about events go to:




Courage to Resist
www.couragetoresist.org ~ 510.488.3559 ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist

484 Lake Park Ave # 41
OaklandCA 94610-2730
United States
Unsubscribe from couragetoresist.org 





















From Business Insider 2018



"The biggest block from having society in harmony with the universe is the belief in a lie that says it’s not realistic or humanly possible." 

"If Obama taught me anything it’s that it don’t matter who you vote for in this system. There’s nothing a politician can do that the next one can’t undo. You can’t vote away the ills of society people have to put our differences aside ban together and fight for the greater good, not vote for the lesser evil."

—Johnny Gould (Follow @tandino415 on Instagram)







When faced with the opportunity to do good, I really think it’s the instinct of humanity to do so. It’s in our genetic memory from our earliest ancestors. It’s the altered perception of the reality of what being human truly is that’s been indoctrinated in to every generation for the last 2000 years or more that makes us believe that we are born sinners. I can’t get behind that one. We all struggle with certain things, but I really think that all the “sinful” behavior is learned and wisdom and goodwill is innate at birth.  —Johnny Gould (Follow @tandino415 on Instagram)



















Support Major Tillery, Friend of Mumia, Innocent, Framed, Now Ill

Major Tillery (with hat) and family

Dear Friends of the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia,

Major Tillery, a prisoner at SCI Chester and a friend of Mumia, may have caught the coronavirus. Major is currently under lockdown at SCI Chester, where a coronavirus outbreak is currently taking place. Along with the other prisoners at SCI Chester, he urgently needs your help.

Major was framed by the Pennsylvania District Attorney and police for a murder which took place in 1976. He has maintained his innocence throughout the 37 years he has been incarcerated, of which approximately 20 were spent in solitary confinement. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture has said that 15 days of solitary confinement constitutes torture.

When Mumia had Hepatitis C and was left to die by the prison administration at SCI Mahanoy, Major Tillery was the prisoner who confronted the prison superintendent and demanded that they treat Mumia. (see https://www.justiceformajortillery.org/messing-with-major.html). Although Mumia received medical treatment, the prison retaliated against Major for standing up to the prison administration. He was transferred to another facility, his cell was searched and turned inside out repeatedly, and he lost his job in the prison as a Peer Facilitator.

SCI Chester, where Major is currently incarcerated, has been closed to visitors since mid-March. Fourteen guards and one prisoner are currently reported to be infected with the coronavirus. Because the prison has not tested all the inmates, there is no way to know how many more inmates have coronavirus. Major has had a fever, chills and a sore throat for several nights. Although Major has demanded testing for himself and all prisoners, the prison administration has not complied.

For the past ten days, there has been no cleaning of the cell block. It has been weeks since prisoners have been allowed into the yard to exercise. The food trays are simply being left on the floor. There have been no walk-throughs by prison administrators. The prisoners are not allowed to have showers; they are not allowed to have phone calls; and they are not permitted any computer access. 

This coronavirus outbreak at SCI Chester is the same situation which is playing out in California prisons right now, about which the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia, along with other groups, organized a car caravan protest at San Quentin last week. Prisons are enclosed indoor spaces and are already an epicenter of the coronavirus, like meatpacking plants and cruise ships. If large numbers of prisoners are not released, the coronavirus will infect the prisons, as well as surrounding communities, and many prisoners will die. Failing to release large numbers of prisoners at this point is the same as executing them. We call for "No Execution by COVID-19"!

Major is close to 70 years old, and has a compromised liver and immune system, as well as heart problems. He desperately needs your help. 

Please write and call Acting Superintendent Kenneth Eason at:

Kenneth Eason, Acting Superintendent
SCI Chester
500 E. 4th St.
Chester, PA 19013

Telephone: (610) 490-5412

Email: keason@pa.gov (Prison Superintendent). maquinn@pa.gov (Superintendent's Assistant)
Please also call the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections at:Department of Corrections
1920 Technology Parkway
Mechanicsburg, PA 17050

Telephone: (717) 737-4531
This telephone number is for SCI Camp Hill, which is the current number for DOC.
Reference Major's inmate number: AM 9786

Email: ra-contactdoc@pa.gov
Demand that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections immediately:

1) Provide testing for all inmates and staff at SCI Chester;
2) Disinfect all cells and common areas at SCI Chester, including sinks, toilets, eating areas and showers;
3) Provide PPE (personal protective equipment) for all inmates at SCI Chester;
4) Provide access to showers for all prisoners at SCI Chester, as a basic hygiene measure;
5) Provide yard access to all prisoners at SCI Chester;
6) Provide phone and internet access to all prisoners at SCI Chester;
7) Immediately release prisoners from SCI Chester, including Major Tillery, who already suffers from a compromised immune system, in order to save their lives from execution by COVID-19.

It has been reported that prisoners are now receiving shower access. However, please insist that prisoners be given shower access and that all common areas are disinfected.

In solidarity,

The Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal



Kiah Morris

May 7 at 6:44 AM

So, in MY lifetime....

Black people are so tired. 😓

We can’t go jogging (#AhmaudArbery).

We can’t relax in the comfort of our own homes (#BothemJean and #AtatianaJefferson).

We can't ask for help after being in a car crash (#JonathanFerrell and #RenishaMcBride).

We can't have a cellphone (#StephonClark).

We can't leave a party to get to safety (#JordanEdwards).

We can't play loud music (#JordanDavis).

We can’t sell CD's (#AltonSterling).

We can’t sleep (#AiyanaJones)

We can’t walk from the corner store (#MikeBrown).

We can’t play cops and robbers (#TamirRice).

We can’t go to church (#Charleston9).

We can’t walk home with Skittles (#TrayvonMartin).

We can’t hold a hair brush while leaving our own bachelor party (#SeanBell).

We can’t party on New Years (#OscarGrant).

We can’t get a normal traffic ticket (#SandraBland).

We can’t lawfully carry a weapon (#PhilandoCastile).

We can't break down on a public road with car problems (#CoreyJones).

We can’t shop at Walmart (#JohnCrawford)p^p.

We can’t have a disabled vehicle (#TerrenceCrutcher).

We can’t read a book in our own car (#KeithScott).

We can’t be a 10yr old walking with our grandfather (#CliffordGlover).

We can’t decorate for a party (#ClaudeReese).

We can’t ask a cop a question (#RandyEvans).

We can’t cash our check in peace (#YvonneSmallwood).

We can’t take out our wallet (#AmadouDiallo).

We can’t run (#WalterScott).

We can’t breathe (#EricGarner).

We can’t live (#FreddieGray).

We’re tired.

Tired of making hashtags.

Tired of trying to convince you that our #BlackLivesMatter too.

Tired of dying.




So very tired.

(I don’t know who created this. I just know there are so many more names to be added and names we may never hear of.)








1) In the Wake of Protests

Some of what we saw was people cosplaying consciousness — symbolism that cost nothing and shifted no power.

By Charles M. Blow, Opinion Columnist, Aug. 9, 2020

The Black Lives Matter mural in front of Trump Tower in New York.
The Black Lives Matter mural in front of Trump Tower in New York. Credit...Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

We are in a period of post-mortem reflection following the time during which racial justice protests were at their most intense. We now must ask ourselves: What has changed and what hasn’t? Have power and privilege truly been disrupted? Has oppression been alleviated? What will be the legacy of this moment?


The historic protests in the wake of George Floyd’s killing were met with high hopes and soaring rhetoric. The protests were called a racial reckoning, a long-overdue racial accounting.


We painted murals on the streets and took down some statues. Companies committed to changing the Black faces on a bottle of syrup and a bag of rice. Athletes were allowed to kneel and racecar drivers held a racial solidarity parade.


There were television specials about injustice and expanded coverage of protests. Books about race rose to the tops of best-seller lists.


States like New York and California passed police reform legislation and scores of individual departments banned or restricted chokeholds and strangleholds and required officers to intervene when their colleagues use excessive force.


But, national progress, even on the issue of police accountability and reform, remained elusive. The slate of police reforms passed by the House is now bogged down in the Senate.


Donald Trump called the Black Lives Matter mural painted in front of Trump Tower in New York City a “symbol of hate,” one of his personal lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, called the group a “domestic terror group,” and his Justice Department began targeting demonstrators as terrorists.


On the Democratic side, Joe Biden quickly batted down any support of the move to defund the police, which is simply an effort to better allocate funding between police departments and social service agencies. There are also efforts at police abolition, but the defund movement is not synonymous with that effort.


More than 50 civil rights organization sent Joe Biden a scathing letter, chastising him for his involvement in mass incarceration and the war on drugs, and demanding that he:


“Immediately incorporate the policies laid out by the Movement for Black Lives into your campaign platform, and announce the specific changes publicly. This includes their critical demands for interventions that will end state violence against Black people, end the economic exploitation of Black communities, advance reparations, and defund police, prisons and weaponry so we can fully fund health care, housing, education and environmental justice.”


BLM co-founder and activist Patrisse Cullors spoke at the D.N.C.’s virtual party platform meeting in July and said: “Without the sea changes our movement recommended for the 2020 Democratic platform, any claims to allyship and solidarity with our work to fight for Black liberation are for naught.”


While national political progress appeared tentative, mired or weakened by intense opposition, it did feel like personal progress, on a national scale, was made in some ways.


A Pew Research Center report in late June found that 6 percent of American adults said they “attended a protest or rally that focused on issues related to race or racial equality in the last month.” That’s about 15 million people, an astounding number.


Furthermore, the movement had multiracial participation. The percentage of protesters who were white was nearly three times the percentage who were Black. The percentage of Hispanics taking part was higher than the percentage of Black people as well.


But even as support for Black Lives Matter grew, many Americans still opposed the things the movement demanded.


A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted in mid-July found that while nearly 70 percent of Americans believed “Black people and other minorities are not treated as equal to white people in the criminal justice system,” most still generally opposed “calls to shift some police funding to social services or remove statues of Confederate generals or presidents who enslaved people.”


Barack Obama issued a statement that read in part:


“It falls on all of us, regardless of our race or station — including the majority of men and women in law enforcement who take pride in doing their tough job the right way, every day — to work together to create a ‘new normal’ in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts.”


I’m not sure that “new normal” is in the immediate offing. Much of what we saw in response to protests amounted to performative gestures, symbolism that cost nothing and shifted no power.


We must come to the conclusion that some of what we saw as a racial awakening was prone to whither. Some of what we saw was people cosplaying consciousness, immersing themselves in the issue of the moment.


I am very leery of tokenism, leery of the illusions of progress as the system holds fast. I’m leery of appeasement, of being told that there is a change coming as a way of quieting me in the waiting.


America has a sterling track record of dashing Black people’s hopes.



2) The Coming Eviction Crisis: ‘It’s Hard to Pay the Bills on Nothing’

If the federal government repeats the mistakes of the last recession, millions of Americans will lose their apartments and homes.

By Binyamin Appelbaum member of the editorial board. Aug. 9, 2020


The belongings of a family evicted at the end of July from their home in New Orleans.

The belongings of a family evicted at the end of July from their home in New Orleans. Credit...Jake Clapp/Gambit New Orleans

In Columbus, Ohio, judges have relocated eviction hearings to the cavernous halls of the city’s convention center, to ensure there’s plenty of space for the grim business of throwing families onto the street.


In New Orleans, piles of personal belongings on sidewalks — “eviction cairns,” in the haunting phrase of Sue Mobley, a member of the city’s planning commission — are an increasingly common sight.


In Savannah, Ga., the county sheriff, John Wilcher, announced at the start of the month that he would begin moving forward with about 500 pending evictions. Mr. Wilcher told reporters that he hadn’t carried out evictions for the last five months, but that “people after five months should have been able to come up with some kind of deal or something to help themselves out where they wouldn’t be evicted.” The sheriff didn’t offer any pointers on how to find a job in the midst of a pandemic.


The last time the economy went over the cliff’s edge, in 2008, the federal government encased the banking system in plastic Bubble Wrap and allowed millions of Americans to lose their homes. It’s about to make the same mistake all over again.


I was a housing reporter during the last crisis. I spent long days with young families and old ladies desperately trying to hold on; with sheriff’s deputies tasked with removing people from homes owned by faceless companies; with exterminators sent to prevent mosquitoes from occupying abandoned swimming pools.


The government dismissed the woes of homeowners and renters as personal tragedies that did not require the attention of the Treasury Department. The government was wrong. The millions of individual tragedies required action. A nation is a collection of people; the first job of government is to keep people from harm.


Even on its own terms, the government’s indifference was a mistake. The massive dislocations shredded communities, as families were replaced by abandoned homes. Schools struggled to help displaced children, whose test scores declined and behavioral problems increased. Businesses lost their customers. Cities starved for property tax revenue slashed spending: Colorado Springs turned off one-third of its streetlights.


The accumulation of individual tragedies left lasting scars on the economy and on society.


As the coronavirus spread around the country in the spring, federal policymakers and authorities in many states announced temporary bans on evictions, part of a broader effort to weather the pandemic by suspending economic activity. The federal government also expanded unemployment benefits for people who lost jobs, providing many with the means to keep paying the mortgage or rent.


But the federal aid ended last month. More than 20 percent of households say that they don’t expect to be able to make their next monthly rent or mortgage payment, according to a Census Bureau survey. Some eviction bans have ended, and others will end soon. Americans once again are beginning to lose their homes.


The dislocations could be worse than last time. Even before the pandemic, the nation was facing a housing crisis. Years of residential underbuilding have driven up prices, particularly in the areas where jobs are concentrated. Tens of millions of lower-income families already were struggling to afford a place to live. Millions already were evicted each year. And many more Americans have lost jobs this time around.


In a policy memo published Friday, a group of housing policy experts and affordable housing advocates said, “The United States may be facing the most severe housing crisis in its history.”


Some state and local governments are trying to help.


In 2008, Aisha Wahab was a 19-year-old college student living in her parents’ longtime home in Fremont, Calif. She watched as they lost their clothing store in nearby Oakland, and then their home. She watched as their marriage fell apart. By 2012, Ms. Wahab and her father were sharing an apartment in Hayward, a nearby city with cheaper housing.


Ms. Wahab said her family has never recovered. “I can 100 percent attest to the fact that my family is nowhere near where they were prior to 2008,” she said. Now, at 32, she is the youngest member of the Hayward City Council, and she is doing what she can to prevent another crisis. Hayward has prohibited evictions until the end of September. Alameda County, which includes Hayward, has prohibited evictions at least until the end of the year. Tenants will then have a year to catch up on any missed rental payments. Homeowners, however, must negotiate separately with their lenders. And it’s not clear where renters or homeowners will find the money without federal aid.


Local officials are simply postponing the day of reckoning. Sooner or later, in Hayward and across the country, the eviction moratoriums will end.


“What happens on the next day?” Ms. Wahab said.


The Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond has argued compellingly that eviction is not just a result of poverty — it is also a cause of poverty. The downward trajectory, well documented in research on the last crisis, is the same for homeowners and renters. People who lose their homes also lose their communities. Studies show they generally move to less expensive neighborhoods, and their children end up enrolling in lower-quality schools. Eviction strains the ability to keep a job. People who are evicted suffer from higher rates of mental and physical health problems. If they are married, they are more likely to get divorced. They are more likely to end up homeless.


This new crisis builds on the last one. During the last recession, Renee Matthew lost her job at a New Orleans law firm, and then she lost her home to foreclosure. She didn’t find a new job until 2015, working as a parking lot supervisor at the city’s cruise terminal.


On March 15, Ms. Matthew lost her job yet again. Federal unemployment benefits allowed her to keep paying $929 in monthly rent, but the last of the federal benefits arrived in late July. Now she’s getting just $232 a week in state benefits. She was able to pay her August rent, and she may be able to pay her September rent, but she doesn’t see how she can pay her October rent.


“My life is just at a hold,” Ms. Matthew said. “You feel depressed. You start taking the little things out on everybody and anybody.”


The federal government has the power to avert a crisis by imposing a moratorium on tenant evictions in each state through the end of the year. That would provide enough time to create a program of federal aid for people who can’t afford to pay rent. The most direct approach would be to give federal housing vouchers to every needy family.


(The apparent simplicity of proposals for rent forgiveness is misleading. That would simply move problems up the food chain. Roughly half of apartments are owned by small landlords, many of whom face foreclosure if they can’t pay their own mortgages. That, too, would lead to tenant evictions.)


This crisis is hitting tenants harder than homeowners because job losses are concentrated among lower-income households, and the last crisis sharply reduced homeownership among such households. But many homeowners need help, too. Congress can facilitate mortgage modifications by changing bankruptcy laws that bar courts from reducing most mortgage debts. President Barack Obama promised to make the change during the 2008 campaign, but failed to do so while in the White House. Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has made the same commitment — hopefully with a different result.


I asked Ms. Matthew if she had a message for policymakers in Washington.


“I need help,” she said. “It’s hard to pay the bills on nothing.”


I have a message, too: There is no excuse for making the same mistake twice.



3) It’s a Tough Time for the Left. But I’m More Optimistic Than Ever.

On both sides of the Atlantic, the signs of radical possibility are everywhere.

By Thea Riofrancos, political scientist and activist. Aug. 9, 2020

Illustration by Alicia Tatone; Photographs by Chang W. Lee/The New York Times, and Chris J. Radcliff and Michael B. Thomas, via Getty Images



The signs of radical possibility are everywhere we look. In the midst of a pandemic, masses of people defied lockdowns and demanded justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and all the Black lives lost at the hands of police brutality.


What has become the largest protest movement in American history also provided an outlet for discontent with the economic immiseration and mounting death toll that are devastating communities of color and working-class people. In Europe, protesters took to the streets as well, in solidarity with the American movement and targeting the often denied yet pervasive racism in their own societies.


It’s a spectacular sight: Affluent liberal democracies are experiencing an upsurge of radical energy. This volatile moment is felt most acutely by younger generations whose coming-of-age story is one of financial meltdown, right-wing resurgence, climate chaos and, now, a plague.


Crisis and discontent are two necessary ingredients for radical change. But on their own, they aren’t sufficient. In the United States and almost all of Europe, the left — socialists, labor organizers, activists and agitators traditionally outside the major center-left parties — is out of power and wounded by electoral defeat. (Spain and Portugal, where formally and informally center-left parties currently govern together with the radical left, are the exception that proves the rule.)


As the coronavirus courses devastatingly around the world, the left on both sides of the Atlantic, joined by a long history of mutual influence and inspiration, finds itself in a shared predicament: How can we exercise power without governing directly? And beyond that, how can we shape the world that emerges after the pandemic?


Contest elections


On the left, “electoralism” — pursuing public office through elections — is a hotly debated tactic. Some see the activity as fatally compromised. But contesting elections is essential to winning radical reforms that change the consensus on what is possible and build power.


Take Paris and Barcelona. In the early 2010s, neither city, sitting in countries governed by the center and the right, seemed a likely venue for a resurgence of left-wing politics. But in the course of two years, each was led by leftist mayors — first Anne Hidalgo in Paris in 2014, then Ada Colau in Barcelona the next year. They built new public housing, banned polluting cars from city streets and expanded urban green spaces, becoming the heads of the “radical municipalism” movement.


A small city in northwest Britain had led the way. When plans for a massive shopping mall fell through in late 2011, Preston seemed doomed to the chronic disinvestment suffered by deindustrialized municipalities around the world. But since then, the left-led City Council has transformed the city into a laboratory for innovative policies, from supporting worker cooperatives to contracting local farmers to provide produce for public school meals. The experience proved so successful it earned its own name: The Preston Model.


Winning the chance to reshape policy, as councilors, state legislators and mayors, is why elections are crucial. But successful campaigns for national office are also powerful ways to broadcast transformative ideas. In the United States, for example, the election of Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar to Congress has spread demands like the Green New Deal, rent cancellation and Palestinian rights far beyond the margins.




When leftists win elections, they can transform radical ideas into pragmatic realities and move more ambitious political programs into the mainstream. But what should the left do when it is out of power?


Last year, when President Emanuel Macron of France was trying to push through pension reforms that would raise the age at which citizens received a full pension from 62 to 64, he faced profound opposition — not in Parliament, but in the streets. Large protests and a general strike drained the government’s resolve and eventually scuttled the proposed reform. Unwavering resistance forced Mr. Macron’s hand.


It’s a good example of how the left can shape politics, even when far from power. Similarly, the student strikes against climate change that swept across Europe in March 2019 — closely followed by occupations coordinated by Extinction Rebellion — propelled the urgent need for a just ecological transition up the political agenda.


In both cases, protests and strikes materially altered the course of policy. Elsewhere, it’s insurgent and oppositional electoral projects with close relations to movements that helped reshape the political landscape.


In the United States, in part through the platform provided by Bernie Sanders’s campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination, demands for universal health care, the Green New Deal, national rent control and abolishing ICE entered mainstream conversation. And in Britain, the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn did much to reconfigure the terms of debate, most notably on austerity and public investment.


There’s a lesson here. Though the circumstances differ — the room for left and Green parties in Europe largely does not exist in Britain and the United States, compelling leftists to contend with established parties — the left is most effective when it disrupts institutions.


By conceiving of itself as something like an opposition party, operating inside and outside the formal political system, the left can push the boundaries of debate, changing minds and policies alike.




Principled opposition is essential. But it’s not enough. To be successful, protests and insurgent campaigns need to build on and contribute to organizing — the continuing, difficult work of building grass-roots organizations that empower people to act in concert with one another.


In Minneapolis, the groundwork for the current protests was laid by groups such as the Black Visions Collective. In 2018, they worked in alliance with Reclaim the Block to win cuts to the city police budget and funding for violence prevention. Organizations like these recruit activists and teach them the skills they need to plan a meeting or a direct action, all while cultivating the trust and accountability that are vital to movements’ long-term success.


Similar lessons apply to electoral politics. The Labour Party’s community organizing unit, which spent two years building relationships and developing leaders at the local level, may not have prevented December’s disappointing election result. But it established a network that will prove indispensable in future elections and that has already helped win local campaigns, such as organizing tenants against eviction and protecting health clinics from closure.


The New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America is another case in point. Some of the group’s initial forays into electoral politics were unsuccessful. But in the process, they trained hundreds of activists in the basics of canvassing and phone-banking. Years later, their endorsed candidates have won seats in Congress and at the state level. And most recently the chapter declared victory for their entire slate of primary campaigns — all, it’s worth noting, socialists of color — in the State Legislature.


Though some may be tempted to suggest such inroads are confined to New York, the recent slew of left wins in Democratic primary battles in Pennsylvania, Texas, Michigan, Tennessee and, most strikingly, in Missouri shows how effective the strategy can be.


As different as they are, both street rebellions and electoral campaigns can leave behind a legacy of organizational infrastructure. This infrastructure is absolutely vital. There’s no way to win without it.


In my two decades of political involvement, I’ve never been more optimistic about the left’s power to shape the terms of debate. But doing better than the past isn’t anywhere near good enough.


We are in the middle of a ruinous pandemic whose effects will remake the world: On both sides of the Atlantic, economies are contracting, unemployment is soaring and people are suffering, all while billionaires’ wealth balloons to astronomical levels. The situation in the United States, where the pandemic has exposed deep race and class inequality, is especially dire.


The coming months and years are crucial. They will shape not only politics but also, as the climate crisis intensifies, the very conditions of life on this planet. That’s a huge challenge. But it’s also a historic opportunity to make a better, more equal and more just world. We must not pass it up.



4)  Sick and Afraid in San Quentin
By Kevin Cooper

Sheerpost. August 5, 2020


People hold up a banner while listening to a news conference outside San Quentin State Prison Thursday, July 9, 2020, in San Quentin, Calif. A group of legislators, advocates, academics and public health officials gathered at San Quentin State Prison to discuss a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility. [AP Photo/Eric Risberg]


Death Row, San Quentin State Prison—We men and women who unfortunately have been sentenced to death and sent to death rows here at San Quentin State Prison (for men) and the Central California Women’s Facility at Chowchilla have often been referred to as the “walking dead” or “Dead Man Walking,” as made famous by the 1995 movie, starring Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon, about a death row inmate.

We were called these names long before the COVID-19 pandemic came upon us all, seemingly out of nowhere. After it came on the scene, we death row inmates got a double dose of death.

Since May 1985, when I first arrived at San Quentin, I have been living under the constant threat of manmade death, state-sanctioned torture and murder, first by way of the gas chamber, then later by lethal injection, as well as living in one of the most violent prisons in the entire world, where inmates stabbing each other for any type of reason was once the norm.

In 2004, when I came within three hours and 42 minutes of being executed by lethal injection, I was at least able to prepare myself as best I could for this crime against humanity that was going to take place against my Black body by prison guard executioners trained to do this by burning me alive from the inside with their poisonous lethal injection drugs.

In my mind, I thought, and I prayed, that I could honestly prepare myself for this…But could I really?

Not even that near death experience could prepare me for this COVID-19 pandemic and all that it brought with it. The uncertainty of everything concerning one’s health, or even death, is unnerving. At least when I was facing manmade execution, I was told exactly the day, date and time that my life was going to be taken. But that’s not the case with the coronavirus.

Every little thing that happens like a cough for example, or a sneeze, or anything like that makes you wonder, Do I have the coronavirus? This is a form of psychological torture, just as executions and knowing what is going to happen to you is, but it’s also very different.

Then one starts to wonder, as I did, about the men who live in the cages on either side of the four-and-a-half-by-11-foot cage I live in, number 82, and in cage 81 and 83 there are other men, and then men on their further side. While this type of mental torture is happening in one’s mind, the reality and truth about what has and is taking place must be dealt with as well.

According to the prison grapevine, certain news stations, and a friend from outside, 21 inmates have died of COVID-19, 11 of them from death row as of July 29. Plus, there have been 2,166 confirmed COVID-19 cases here, and more than 200 prison guards are among the 254 staff who tested positive. Fewer than 90 have returned to work, and now there’s a staff shortage at San Quentin. 

Many of these cases and deaths were preventable, and the chief medical officer of the state prison system was removed from his job for this and other reasons, according to certain prison guards and news reports.

The prison furniture factory, where inmates from general population work to make furniture, has been closed and converted to a hospital for inmates in general population who need to be hospitalized, but not in a hospital outside the prison.


There have been huge tents set up on the general population yard for triage and for whatever medical needs inmates have. The prison kitchen where food was cooked to feed the entire prison, including death row, was closed because of this epidemic. Inmates were served baloney and cheese sandwiches, then the prison hired an outside food vendor to deliver truckloads of prepared food in plastic and non-plastic trays for all inmates in this prison, and now we’re back to the kitchen food being served on paper trays.

This prison is truly on “lockdown” and the only time we inmates on death row leave the cages that we are assigned to is for medical and dental visits or to be taken to the shower three times a week. Telephone privileges were temporarily taken away, the only prison in the state where this happened. Supposedly the prison medical staff were afraid that we can get the coronavirus from handling the telephone. Then we heard on local NBC News that the main reason was because inmates were calling their families and the news media with information about what was going on in here.

While living this unbelievable life under these unbelievable circumstances, I remembered that in early 2020 my friend and lead attorney in my case told me about an illness that he had. He told me how he hurt and all he went through, though it may not have been the coronavirus. I remember thinking to myself that he was exaggerating as to the horrible experience that he went through concerning his illness, nothing could be that bad, and I said to myself that he was getting soft in his old age. After all, “I’m rough, I’m cheap, tough steak, I can handle anything,” was my mentality.

In late June 2020, I called my attorney and apologized to him for thinking that he was exaggerating about how bad he felt and all that he experienced because of that illness. I told him that I honestly thought that he was truly exaggerating when he told me about the things he went through.

Why did I apologize to him? Because in the middle of June, I began to get ill as well. But because I kept getting both my body temperature and my oxygen levels checked every other day by the prison medical staff, and was told that I’m good and everything is fine, I knew that I didn’t have the virus and wasn’t thinking about anything else as far as illnesses go. I was focused on not getting the coronavirus.

Every test I took I was good, no high temperature, good oxygen levels, but I kept feeling worse with each passing day. I was still doing everything that I do in this cage, from reading to writing to working out and speaking to my people on the phone, all the time getting worse, but not having a temperature and still having good oxygen levels.

Man down

One day, I just fell onto the bed and lay there for hours. Dozing in and out of sleep, I kept hearing inmates calling out, “Man down!” “Man down”—an alarm system we inmates use to notify the prison guards when an inmate in a cell is unresponsive or sick. I kept hearing inmates call “man down” and giving their cell number and tier.

And this went on for a week straight, all day and all night long, inmates were calling “man down” somewhere in the unit. When this happens, the alarm in the unit goes off, which is a loud buzzing sound that can be heard all over the unit and outside the unit. Then the officers go to the cell where the inmate is down. Some inmates can walk out on their own, sometimes the medical staff has to be called and they are taken out on a gurney. Some of these men ended up in the hospital.

There are five open-air tiers in the East Block—death row—with 52 cells, a total of 260 cells; each tier has two showers. On each tier, 26 cells on one side face an equal number across from them. One side has sealed windows that face the prison yard, and across the way the cells have a view of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. That is the view from my cell on the fourth tier.  So, when an inmate yells “man down” anywhere in the block, it can be heard throughout death row.

If we inmates do not look out for each other by calling “man down,” inmates can lie in their cage without getting any help for lord knows how long. And that might cost somebody his life. Especially if it is after 4:00 P.M. because at 4:00 P.M. is standing count—and if we don’t stand for the count, they will want to know why, and after that, there is no count till 4:00 P.M. next afternoon. 

I did not want to call out “man down” for myself out of fear that they would remove me from this cage and take me to who knows where in this prison for some type of isolation purpose. The prison has put flu and COVID-19 patients in solitary confinement in the solitary housing unit, or SHU, with no phones and few personal belongings.

I made myself get up at 4:00 P.M. for mandatory standing count; I then lay back down. I didn’t eat dinner, or breakfast, lunch or dinner the following days. Exactly how many days I don’t know. I only got out of bed for standing count, temperature and oxygen checks, which remained good, and to use the phone. I would man up and use the phone and talk to everyone like nothing was wrong (although some said later my voice was weak.)

I did not want to make anyone in my world and on my team and in my life worry about me anymore than they already were, especially knowing that they have their own lives, families and everything else, including worrying about catching the virus themselves.  

So, I pretended that everything was good with me, but I was hurting and hurting badly. Each and every day I was getting worse. I went and reread the information concerning the symptoms of the coronavirus that the prison handed out, and I did not have any of those symptoms, yet I was in bad shape.

My body started to hurt, and I started to vomit. I couldn’t keep even water down, and the water from the tap was so warm that all I kept thinking of was ice water.

I wanted ice water so badly! Ice water is contraband in this prison. You can’t get ice unless a doctor prescribes it, like if an inmate hurts his ankle playing basketball and the doctor gives him a prescription to put ice on it. At one point a doctor came by and I begged him for ice, but he turned away and I did not get the ice.

I had spoken to many of my friends on the phone shortly before this. My attorneys and I spoke to Kim Kardashian, a supporter, to give her an update on my efforts to get an innocence investigation to present new evidence in my case, and I wished her luck on her studies for the “baby bar,” a precursor to her taking the state bar exam. 

Everything was good, then it was all bad, seemingly just that fast.

I started to develop a sour taste in my mouth. It was nasty, and all I could do is wash my mouth out with mouthwash. I could not get rid of that sourness inside my mouth and in my throat and stomach. All the while, I was throwing up, hurting with body aches, and having no medication other than Tylenol and ibuprofen on hand.

I contacted a couple of my friends and asked them to send word out that I was ill. They did that, and one of them posted it on my Facebook page and word got out quickly. I could no longer afford not to let my people know about my illness for fear that I may actually die. When my friend in New Zealand, Dr. Kate Orange, learned about my illness, she told me by way of my friends not to take ibuprofen without having food in my stomach. I couldn’t eat, but I never took the ibuprofen because I couldn’t keep anything down.

I also found out, mainly because I was not the only inmate who was down at this time, that we all had the flu, and a bad case of it. Medical staff were asking inmates about it, but none ever asked me, and I did not tell them. I felt better emotionally knowing I had the flu instead of the coronavirus, yet the flu kills many people every year as well, and I did not think of that during this point in time. I just knew I did not have the common symptoms of COVID-19.

“The living dead”

Being in prison is bad enough for one’s health, especially when the prison health system in this state of California was at one time among the worst in this country, so much so that it was under federal court orders to fix all that was wrong because inmates, all poor, were suffering and dying due to lack of adequate healthcare. We on death row see our plight ten-times worse than the regular prison population because after all, we are on death row, deemed unworthy of life by society, and healthcare, especially good and consistent healthcare, not only saves lives, it gives life to the lifeless, people like me who are condemned to death.

In all of this pain and uncertainty about what was happening to me, I honestly felt like the living dead, even though I have no real idea of what “living dead” is, other than a zombie, or oxymoron. Yet I did not feel alive, and in fact I started to lose weight, about ten-or-so pounds. My thighs got really thin, as did my legs, and my stomach shrank; by not being able to eat, I could not maintain the body weight that I had.

I stayed in bed all day long and still kept getting worse, hurting and telling myself not to give up, that I was going to make it, that I have too much to live for not to make it, that I have people who care about me, people who are working hard to get me out of this horrible place, people who are standing by my side fighting with me and for me to prove my innocence. I couldn’t give up and let them down.

While my body was getting weaker, my spirit and will to survive got stronger. Then, just as the illness came out of nowhere and kicked my ass in this cage, I began to feel it leave little by little. I began to feel better. It was after I went through this most painful health experience and started to feel better, I called my attorney and apologized to him because he was not exaggerating about anything. We laughed, and he was honestly happy that I was feeling better and on the mend.

I am scared not only of this coronavirus, but also of this prison healthcare system. So much so that I did not tell them I had what we all think was the flu. I did get a flu shot last year, as I do every year, and I hope it helped in ending what I had.      

Now I am back to living this inhumane experience in this inhumane place, still living under the threat of manmade death by lethal injection, and by mother nature with this pandemic, and the flu. All kill and will continue to do so. Which way is worse? I do not know, nor do I want to find out.

Sometimes living on this modern day plantation I do not even know which way is up because I have been down for so long. Living in a place where I have no say about anything, control over nothing, a place where ice water is contraband, and there is no clean air inside this building called East Block where I am forced to live against my will.

This place where loneliness is my best friend and death is my constant companion makes me wonder: Am I going to make it out of here alive—or dead in a body bag? There has to be more than this to what we call life. Living by one’s animalistic nature cannot be living life, and if one is not truly living, then aren’t they dead?

So, you tell me, am I living, or am I dead?



5) The Black Lives Next Door

A new generation of activists is trying to figure out where to concentrate its efforts. Residential desegregation is the final frontier.

By Richard Rothstein, Aug. 14, 2020

Credit...Andrew B. Meyers

Last year in San Mateo, Calif., a history teacher at Hillsdale High School conducted a mock hearing of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Sophia Heath, then a freshman, played an anti-apartheid lawyer. She recalls that she “was really excited and that was the beginning of where my activism started.” On the web, she found Coalition Z, a youth group that registers voters and presses officials to combat climate change, provide more equitable school funding and enact gun control. Ms. Heath started a local chapter.


Its first activity, after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, was a Black Lives Matter demonstration on June 3 at San Mateo City Hall. Ms. Heath and her Coalition Z chapter members used Instagram to recruit young participants and Nextdoor to recruit adults. Speakers included the mayor, the local congresswoman, a school board member and an N.A.A.C.P. official. The police estimated a crowd of over 2,000. Signs and chants called for an end to systemic racism, including police militarization and brutality. Protesters also called for reparations to compensate African-Americans for centuries of enslavement and oppression.


Nationwide, something like 20 million Americans participated in similar demonstrations. Some won commitments for police reform, and others continue to wage campaigns to achieve it.


Black Lives Matter protests have laid a foundation for real change. But in their aftermath, activists in San Mateo and similar communities mostly lack a continuing program to tackle the comprehensive racial inequality that allows abusive police practices to flourish. Ms. Heath and her recruits, young and grown-up, have untapped opportunities to take action in their own town, contributing to a new civil rights movement for racial progress.


San Mateo is a segregated Silicon Valley city. Ms. Heath observes that there are no Black families in her Hillsdale neighborhood. San Mateo’s few remaining African-Americans mostly live in another neighborhood, where they have long been concentrated. One percent of Hillsdale High School students are Black.


Ms. Heath says she would like to live in a more diverse neighborhood. The way to do that, she says, is to insist that the City Council provide more affordable housing — subsidized units for low-income families — in her neighborhood. That would be a step forward, but most African-Americans are not poor; working- and middle-class Black families whose incomes are too high to qualify for existing subsidies were also excluded from neighborhoods like Hillside because of their race.


Effective strategies to redress segregation in all its forms would become clearer if activists in San Mateo and elsewhere did deep research into how their communities’ racial boundaries were established.


In San Mateo, they would learn that builders constructed the residential Hillsdale neighborhood for whites only in the mid-20th century. Public records reveal that the 1941 deed to Sophia Heath’s family home says, “No persons other than members of the Caucasian or White race shall be permitted to occupy any portion of said property, other than as domestics in the employ of the occupants of the premises.”


The racial restriction was signed by officers of the American Trust Company, which financed its construction. David D. Bohannon, a developer who built the largest share of homes in Hillsdale, signed similar deed requirements for racial exclusion. Although the whites-only clauses are no longer enforceable, they remain in the deeds of Hillsdale homeowners.


Mr. Bohannon became one of the biggest developers of whites-only housing throughout the San Francisco Bay Area in the mid-20th century, with significant responsibility for the segregated landscape that persists. Although many Black Americans flocked to the Bay Area to take jobs in war production during World War II, Mr. Bohannon barred nonwhites from his projects. Several Bohannon neighborhoods for workers in shipyards and supporting factories during the war were financed with loans guaranteed by the federal government from financial institutions like Bank of America and the American Trust Company, which didn’t resist the government’s policy of racial exclusion.


In 1955, when a developer attempted to create a racially integrated neighborhood in Milpitas, not far from San Mateo, Mr. Bohannon’s company sued and successfully lobbied the Milpitas City Council to raise sewer connection fees to an exorbitant level that made the project unfeasible, delaying it for years.


David Bohannon’s race policy did not make him a pariah in the home-building industry. Quite the contrary. In 1942, as he was creating Hillsdale, Mr. Bohannon served as president of what is now called the National Association of Home Builders. His contribution to racial segregation went unmentioned in 1958 when he was elected national president of the influential research group for planners, the Urban Land Institute, which praised him as “one of the West Coast’s most successful land developers and community builders.” In 1986, Mr. Bohannon was added to the California Homebuilding Foundation’s Hall of Fame for having “enriched the homebuilding industry through innovation, public service, and philanthropy,” which apparently did not extend to remedying the segregation he had enforced.


The Bohannon company continues to operate. Adjacent to its San Mateo development, it created the Hillsdale mall (open for business again after pandemic-induced closures), anchored by Macy’s and Nordstrom, and filled with upscale shops. While malls nationwide have been struggling, the Bohannon firm recently invested several hundred million dollars in the Hillsdale mall’s renovation and in the development of a nearby office park.


A real estate firm, Fox & Carskadon, marketed the Hillsdale homes in 1940 with newspaper ads boasting of the deed clauses that enforced the neighborhood’s racial exclusivity: “Let us tell you of the protective covenants that guarantee Hillsdale’s enduring character for all time to come.”


The Bohannon company, Fox & Carskadon and the American Trust Company could not have segregated Hillsdale without the support of government agencies. In fact, in some cases, federal agencies required builders like Mr. Bohannon to insert the racial clause in deeds. In our own time, the City of San Mateo continues to perpetuate the segregation of many of its white neighborhoods by prohibiting construction of anything but single-family homes — no townhouses, duplexes or apartments affordable to teachers, firefighters, nurses, hotel and restaurant workers, and others who serve the community but cannot afford to live in it.


The American Trust Company and Wells Fargo merged in 1960. Coldwell Banker acquired Fox & Carskadon in 1995. Perhaps Sophia Heath’s fellow young activists and their adult compatriots might embark on a campaign to persuade the Bohannon company, Coldwell Banker and Wells Fargo to face up to their considerable responsibility for the racial segregation and lack of opportunity for Black families that characterize San Mateo.


A local civil rights movement can insist that these businesses make substantial contributions to a fund that subsidizes African-Americans to purchase Hillsdale homes that would have been affordable when these institutions excluded Black home buyers but no longer are.


Token contributions will do little. The fund will have to be substantial. Fox & Carskadon advertised its Hillside houses for $5,450, about $100,000 in current dollars. But today those homes sell for about $1.5 million, sometimes more. Shouldn’t Bohannon, Coldwell Banker and Wells Fargo find the funds to enable African-Americans who qualify for a mortgage on a $100,000 property to purchase Hillsdale houses worth $1.5 million? That’s the kind of commitment that reparations-like private initiatives require, while federal reparations remain far-off, hard to define and without effective political support.


When Wells Fargo and the American Trust Company merged and when Coldwell Banker absorbed Fox & Carskadon, the acquiring firms assumed their predecessors’ assets and liabilities. San Mateo activists can justifiably claim that this includes moral liabilities as well. Although the statute of limitations has expired, the discriminatory development and marketing of Hillsdale houses violated a 19th-century Civil Rights Act that prohibited racial discrimination in housing but whose validity the U.S. Supreme Court recognized only a century later.


Coldwell Banker’s website celebrates the company’s “more than 100 years of excellence” and boasts of its early adherence to a National Association of Realtors’ Code of Ethics adopted in 1913. The website doesn’t mention that in 1924, the code added a warning that “a realtor should never be instrumental in introducing into a neighborhood … members of any race or nationality, or any individuals whose presence will clearly be detrimental to property values in that neighborhood.” This “ethics” requirement was still in force when Fox & Carskadon handled sales of Hillsdale homes for the Bohannon firm.


Bohannon’s website has proclaimed: “One of the Bohannon Companies’ hallmarks is our commitment to community. We look for opportunities to serve organizations and help causes that benefit the communities where we develop properties.”


Wells Fargo has a foundation that, it has said, “is committed to addressing the full spectrum of housing issues.” One of its programs provides down-payment assistance to low- and moderate-income home buyers. In the San Francisco region, its most recent grants, in 2017, provided about $30,000 to families whose incomes were at or below the area median. Even when households could add some savings, down payments of that size permitted home purchases only in a few low-income neighborhoods that had not yet gentrified in Oakland and nearby. No grants have yet been made for home purchases in cities like San Mateo, and it is unlikely that the program could ever be adequate to give Black families access to neighborhoods that the American Trust Company helped create as white-only. Facing up to this is what addressing the full spectrum of housing issues involves.


To persuade Coldwell Banker, Bohannon and Wells Fargo to deliver meaningfully on their pledges, a campaign by local activists should be carefully planned and disciplined. It will require a well-researched proposal for which community education has built public support that is then presented respectfully to executives, board members and perhaps the stockholders of the companies from which remedial contributions are expected. Nonviolent public and perhaps disruptive tactics can be employed if quieter efforts at persuasion fail.


In the 1960s, racial justice victories were won only after marches, demonstrations and civil disobedience convinced elected officials that reform was necessary. Activists today have an advantage; there is much greater public understanding of the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow. But still, civil rights victories will almost certainly require more than rallies, demonstrations and discussions on social media.


Students typically learn that in 1955, Rosa Parks, a seamstress in a Montgomery, Ala., department store, was too tired at the end of her workday to give up a bus seat to a white passenger, as the law required. Most students don’t learn that she had spent more than a decade in her local N.A.A.C.P. chapter and had attended — four months before she inspired a bus boycott — the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, where she received training in nonviolent civil disobedience. In these trainings, the institute prepared other civil rights activists as well, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis.


Black Lives Matter supporters in places like San Mateo will need similar training to acquire the skill to persuade powerful institutions to turn vague pledges of good intentions into actual reform.


Cities and towns in metropolitan areas across this country have a history analogous to San Mateo’s. Uncovering it is hard work. Undoing it will be even harder. Winning the civil rights victories of the past required unusual dedication and persistence — extraordinary, really — and it will take more of the same to make Black lives matter in every neighborhood.

Richard Rothstein is a distinguished fellow at the Economic Policy Institute and the author of “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America.”



6) Taking Hard Line, Greece Turns Back Migrants by Abandoning Them at Sea

Many Greeks have grown frustrated as tens of thousands of asylum seekers languished on Greek islands. Now, evidence shows, a new conservative government has a new method of keeping them out.

By Patrick Kingsley and Karam Shoumali, Aug. 14, 2020

Migrants aboard an inflatable boat heading to the Greek island of Lesbos.
Migrants aboard an inflatable boat heading to the Greek island of Lesbos. Credit...Aris Messinis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

RHODES, Greece — The Greek government has secretly expelled more than 1,000 refugees from Europe’s borders in recent months, sailing many of them to the edge of Greek territorial waters and then abandoning them in inflatable and sometimes overburdened life rafts.


Since March, at least 1,072 asylum seekers have been dropped at sea by Greek officials in at least 31 separate expulsions, according to an analysis of evidence by The New York Times from three independent watchdogs, two academic researchers and the Turkish Coast Guard. The Times interviewed survivors from five of those episodes and reviewed photographic or video evidence from all 31.


“It was very inhumane,” said Najma al-Khatib, a 50-year-old Syrian teacher, who says masked Greek officials took her and 22 others, including two babies, under cover of darkness from a detention center on the island of Rhodes on July 26 and abandoned them in a rudderless, motorless life raft before they were rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard.


“I left Syria for fear of bombing — but when this happened, I wished I’d died under a bomb,” she told The Times.


Illegal under international law, the expulsions are the most direct and sustained attempt by a European country to block maritime migration using its own forces since the height of the migration crisis in 2015, when Greece was the main thoroughfare for migrants and refugees seeking to enter Europe.


The Greek government denied any illegality.


“Greek authorities do not engage in clandestine activities,’’ said a government spokesman, Stelios Petsas. “Greece has a proven track record when it comes to observing international law, conventions and protocols. This includes the treatment of refugees and migrants.”


Since 2015, European countries like Greece and Italy have mainly relied on proxies, like the Turkish and Libyan governments, to head off maritime migration. What is different now is that the Greek government is increasingly taking matters into its own hands, watchdog groups and researchers say.


For example, migrants have been forced onto sometimes leaky life rafts and left to drift at the border between Turkish and Greek waters, while others have been left to drift in their own boats after Greek officials disabled their engines.


“These pushbacks are totally illegal in all their aspects, in international law and in European law,” said Prof. François Crépeau, an expert on international law and a former United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.


“It is a human rights and humanitarian disaster,” Professor Crépeau added.


Greeks were once far more understanding of the plight of migrants. But many have grown frustrated and hostile after a half-decade in which other European countries offered Greece only modest assistance as tens of thousands of asylum seekers languished in squalid camps on overburdened Greek islands.


Since the election last year of a new conservative government under Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greece has taken a far harder line against the migrants — often refugees from the war in Syria — who push off Turkish shores for Europe.


The harsher approach comes as tensions have mounted with Turkey, itself burdened with 3.6 million refugees from the Syrian war, far more than any other nation.


Greece believes that Turkey has tried to weaponize the migrants to increase pressure on Europe for aid and assistance in the Syrian War. But it has also added pressure on Greece at a time when the two nations and others spar over contested gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean.


For several days in late February and early March, the Turkish authorities openly bussed thousands of migrants to the Greek land border in a bid to set off a confrontation, leading to the shooting of at least one Syrian refugee and the immediate extrajudicial expulsions of hundreds of migrants who made it to Greek territory.


For years, Greek officials have been accused of intercepting and expelling migrants, on a sporadic and infrequent basis, usually before the migrants manage to land their boats on Greek soil.


But experts say Greece’s behavior during the pandemic has been far more systematic and coordinated. Hundreds of migrants have been denied the right to seek asylum even after they have landed on Greek soil, and they’ve been forbidden to appeal their expulsion through the legal system.


“They’ve seized the moment,” Professor Crépeau said of the Greeks. “The coronavirus has provided a window of opportunity to close national borders to whoever they’ve wanted.”


Emboldened by the lack of sustained criticism from the European Union, where the migration issue has roiled politics, Greece has hardened its approach in the eastern Mediterranean in recent months.


Migrants landing on the Greek islands from Turkey have frequently been forced onto sometimes leaky, inflatable life rafts, dropped at the boundary between Turkish and Greek waters, and left to drift until being spotted and rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard.


“This practice is totally unprecedented in Greece,” said Niamh Keady-Tabbal, a doctoral researcher at the Irish Center for Human Rights, and one of the first to document the phenomenon.


“Greek authorities are now weaponizing rescue equipment to illegally expel asylum seekers in a new, violent and highly visible pattern of pushbacks spanning several Aegean Islands,” Ms. Keady-Tabbal said.


Ms. al-Khatib, who recounted her ordeal for The Times, said she entered Turkey last November with her two sons, 14 and 12, fleeing the advance of the Syrian Army. Her husband, who had entered several weeks earlier, soon died of cancer, Ms. al-Khatib said.


With few prospects in Turkey, the family tried to reach Greece by boat three times this summer, failing once in May because their smuggler did not show up, and a second time in June after being intercepted in Greek waters and towed back to the Turkish sea border, she said.


On their third attempt, on July 23 at around 7 a.m., they landed on the Greek island of Rhodes, Ms. al-Khatib said, an account corroborated by four other passengers interviewed by The Times. They were detained by Greek police officers and taken to a small makeshift detention facility after handing over their identification documents.


Using footage filmed at this site by two passengers, a Times reporter was able to identify the facility’s location beside the island’s main ferry port and visit the camp.


A Coast Guard officer and an official at the island’s mayoralty both said the site falls under the jurisdiction of the Port Police, an arm of the Hellenic Coast Guard.


A Palestinian refugee, living in a disused slaughterhouse beside the camp, confirmed that Ms. al-Khatib had been there, recounting how he had spoken to her through the camp’s fence and bought her tablets to treat her hypertension, which Greek officials had refused to supply her.


On the evening of July 26, Ms. al-Khatib and the other detainees said that police officers had loaded them onto a bus, telling them they were being taken to a camp on another island, and then to Athens.


Instead, masked Greek officials transferred them to two vessels that ferried them out to sea before dropping them on rafts at the Turkish maritime border, she and other survivors said.


Amid choppy waves, the group, which included two babies, was forced to drain the raft using their hands as water slopped over the side, they said.


The group was rescued at 4:30 a.m. by the Turkish Coast Guard, according to a report by the Coast Guard that included a photograph of Ms. al-Khatib as she left the life raft.


Ms. al-Khatib tried to reach Greece for a fourth time, on Aug. 6, but said her boat was stopped off the island of Lesbos by Greek officials, who removed its fuel and towed it back to Turkish waters.


Some groups of migrants have been transferred to the life rafts even before landing on Greek soil.


On May 13, Amjad Naim, a 24-year-old Palestinian law student, was among a group of 30 migrants intercepted by Greek officials as they approached the shores of Samos, a Greek island close to Turkey.


The migrants were quickly transferred to two small life rafts that began to deflate under the weight of so many people, Mr. Naim said. Transferred to two other rafts, they were then towed back toward Turkey.


Videos captured by Mr. Naim on his phone show the two rafts being tugged across the sea by a large white vessel. Footage subsequently published by the Turkish Coast Guard shows the same two rafts being rescued by Turkish officials later in the day.


Migrants have also been left to drift in the boats they arrived on, after Greek officials disabled their engines, survivors and researchers say. And on at least two occasions, migrants have been abandoned on Ciplak, an uninhabited island within Turkish waters, instead of being placed on life rafts.


“Eventually the Turkish Coast Guard came to fetch us,” said one Palestinian survivor who was among a group abandoned on Ciplak in early July, and who sent videos of their time on the island. A report from the Turkish Coast Guard corroborated his account.


In parallel, several rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, have documented how the Greek authorities have rounded up migrants living legally in Greece and secretly expelled them without legal recourse across the Evros River, which divides mainland Greece from Turkey.


Feras Fattouh, a 30-year-old Syrian X-ray technician, said he was arrested by the Greek police on July 24 in Igoumenitsa, a port in western Greece. Mr. Fattouh had been living legally in Greece since November 2019 with his wife and son, and showed The Times documents to prove it.


But after being detained by the police in Igoumenitsa, Mr. Fattouh said, he was robbed and driven about 400 miles east to the Turkish border, before being secretly put on a dinghy with 18 others and sent across the river to Turkey. His wife and son remain in Greece.


“Syrians are suffering in Turkey,” Mr. Fattouh said. “We’re suffering in Greece. Where are we supposed to go?”


Ylva Johansson, who oversees migration policy at the European Commission, the civil service for the European Union, said she was concerned by the accusations but had no power to investigate them.


“We cannot protect our European border by violating European values and by breaching people’s rights,” Ms. Johansson said in an email. “Border control can and must go hand in hand with respect for fundamental rights.”


Patrick Kingsley reported from Rhodes, Greece, and Karam Shoumali from Berlin.



7) Protesters Blocked ICE Buses in Oregon. Federal Agents Responded in Force.

Using crowd-control weapons, agents were able to extract people who were detained on one of the buses after hundreds of protesters in Bend, Ore., blocked the vehicles from moving.

By Mike Baker, Aug. 13, 2020

Protesters blocked the path of buses that held two people who had been detained by immigration agents in Bend, Ore., on Wednesday.
Protesters blocked the path of buses that held two people who had been detained by immigration agents in Bend, Ore., on Wednesday. Credit...Ryan Brennecke/The Bulletin

Dozens of federal agents were deployed in Bend, Ore., late Wednesday after protesters stood for hours to block the path of buses that held two people who had been seized by immigration agents, according to witnesses and videos from the scene.


The federal officers came to the scene of the protest, a hotel parking lot, in helmets and tactical gear, said Barb Campbell, a member of the Bend City Council. Using crowd-control devices such as pepper spray, the officers were able to work their way through the crowd, remove the detainees from one of the buses and take them away, she said.


The effort to block the buses began on Wednesday morning when Luke Richter, president of the activist group Central Oregon Peacekeepers, heard from a friend that officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement were operating in the city. He was able to find two unmarked buses and decided to block their path while livestreaming video from the scene.


Others later joined the effort, including Ms. Campbell, who parked her vehicle and set up a lawn chair in front of one of the buses. As the day wore on, hundreds of protesters gathered. Mr. Richter said he was overwhelmed by the response from the community.


“They are not welcome here,” Mr. Richter said of the federal agents.


Janet Sarai Llerandi Gonzalez, who leads a local support organization for Latinos called Mecca Bend, said children of the men were at the scene pleading with bus drivers to let them go. When the federal agents arrived to remove the men, she said family members were violently tossed to the side.


“This is something that perhaps we never thought would happen in our community,” Ms. Llerandi Gonzalez said.


It was not immediately clear why the men were detained. In a statement, ICE accused the men of having a “history of criminal violent behavior.”


“While ICE respects the rights of people to voice their opinion peacefully, that does not include interfering with their federal law enforcement duties,” the statement said.


Ms. Campbell said that if the men had committed crimes, the city’s Police Department and district attorney could handle it without the involvement of federal officers. Bend is a community of about 100,000 people in central Oregon — a few hours drive from Portland.


The district attorney in Deschutes County, John Hummel, said he went to the scene on Wednesday to better understand what was transpiring but could not get answers from federal officials about who had been picked up and why. Mr. Hummel said that as the crowd grew into the hundreds, he worked with the governor’s office to try and talk with federal officials about how to bring things to a calm resolution.


Instead of trying to de-escalate the situation, he said, the federal officials on scene said they were calling in reinforcements from Portland and Seattle to try and reclaim the detainees.


“I hope that if the federal government is going to come in with full tactical gear and weaponry like they did that it’s because all options short of violence have been exhausted,” Mr. Hummel said. “To go to force as the first option was disheartening.”


Officials in Oregon have repeatedly expressed frustration with the tactics of federal law enforcement officers during protests this summer, especially over the handling of demonstrations around a federal courthouse in Portland, which often involved the use of tear gas and other heavy-handed crowd control measures.


Lawyers from the Portland-based Innovation Law Lab have filed a motion in federal court to block the deportation of the Bend detainees.



8) Three Mississippi Police Officers Charged With Murder of Black Man

A grand jury indictment accused the officers of pulling George Robinson, 62, from his car in Jackson, Miss., last year, slamming him headfirst into the pavement, and striking and kicking him in the head and the chest.

By Michael Levenson and Marie Fazio, Aug. 14, 2020

George Robinson, second from right, died after an encounter with the police in Jackson, Miss., in 2019. Three officers have been indicted on murder charges.
George Robinson, second from right, died after an encounter with the police in Jackson, Miss., in 2019. Three officers have been indicted on murder charges. Credit...Courtesy of family

Three Mississippi police officers have been charged with killing a Black man by body-slamming him to the ground and then beating him last year, the authorities said on Friday.


The three officers — Desmond Barney, Lincoln Lampley and Anthony Fox — were indicted this month on charges of second-degree murder in the death of George Robinson, 62, of Jackson, Miss.


The officers, who were all members of the Jackson Police Department at the time, caused Mr. Robinson’s death by pulling him from his car, throwing him headfirst onto the roadway pavement, and then striking and kicking him multiple times in the head and the chest, according to the indictment, issued by a grand jury in Hinds County, Miss. The indictment said the officers’ actions evinced a “depraved heart, regardless of human life.”


Jody E. Owens II, the district attorney in Hinds County, said the officers saw Mr. Robinson sitting in his car on Jan. 13, 2019, when they were canvassing a predominantly Black neighborhood in Jackson after a pastor, Anthony Longino, was fatally shot in a botched robbery outside his church hours earlier.


The officers, who are also Black, approached Mr. Robinson because they believed they had seen him dealing drugs with another person, although that person was never detained, Mr. Owens said.


When the officers ordered Mr. Robinson to get out of his car, he was slow to comply, perhaps because he had survived a stroke, Mr. Owens said. According to witness accounts, Mr. Owens said, officers then proceeded to assault Mr. Robinson.


Medical reports, including one from the state coroner, showed that Mr. Robinson died of blunt force trauma to the head and of a bleeding brain, Mr. Owens said. The reports also showed that several of Mr. Robinson’s ribs had been broken, Mr. Owens said.


Mr. Owens, a former lawyer at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said the case was among a number of languishing investigations that he had revived after taking over as district attorney in January.


“Poor, Black — it doesn’t make a difference,” he said. “Every life has value, and we have to treat all life the same.”


The three officers have posted bond and are free awaiting their next court date, Mr. Owens said.


Officer Lampley, 33, still works for the Jackson Police Department but has been placed on desk duty, according to his lawyer, Francis Springer.


“We feel really confident, once we’re able to exhibit the evidence we have, that these officers are going to be vindicated,” Mr. Springer said.


After Mr. Robinson’s death, Officers Barney, 31, and Fox, 35, were hired by the Police Department in nearby Clinton, Miss., according to that city’s mayor, Phil Fisher. He said both officers had been “assigned other duties within the department until this matter is resolved.”


Mr. Fisher said the Clinton Police Department hired the officers after the Jackson Police Department’s internal affairs division cleared them of wrongdoing and “multiple agencies looked into the incident and advised that no criminal conduct occurred.”


“I stand behind these two officers and believe they will be exonerated,” he said.


Paul Luckett, a lawyer for Officer Fox, said his client was innocent, and “we are preparing to mount a vigorous defense.”


Michael Cory, a lawyer for Officer Barney, said the three officers believe “there’s a lot more to the story, and they’re looking forward to their chance to be fully vindicated.”


Dennis C. Sweet III, a lawyer who represents Mr. Robinson’s family, said the indictment was “one place where it looks like we’re trying to get some justice for African-Americans who were brutally beaten by police officers.”


“It’s been 19 months,” he said, “but at least it’s getting done.”


The charges came amid intense scrutiny of police brutality after the killing in May of George Floyd in the custody of the Minneapolis police.


Mr. Robinson’s family has filed a civil suit against the City of Jackson, the three police officers and American Medical Response Inc., the ambulance company that treated Mr. Robinson at the scene and released him. Hours after Mr. Robinson was released, his girlfriend saw that he was losing consciousness and called another ambulance, the family’s lawyers said. He died at a hospital on Jan. 15, 2019.


The suit, filed in October 2019, claims that Mr. Robinson was wrongfully killed through use of “excessive, unreasonable and unjustifiable” force, and that he was denied the right to due process when he was seized from his car, according to court records.


“It was pretty egregious,” said Mr. Sweet, whose son Dennis C. Sweet IV also represents the Robinson family. “Mr. Robinson had blunt force trauma to the head, he had fractured ribs and we have eyewitnesses. It was in front of his home, on Jones Street.”


The younger Mr. Sweet said his firm was also representing the family of Mario Clark, another Black man who died after an encounter with the Jackson police.


“We’ve seen a common practice in this police department, and it seems to be a majority of the time in poor, Black communities,” he said. “You see it a lot in South Jackson and West Jackson.”


Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba of Jackson said on Friday that his administration was “committed to ensuring that Jacksonians have an accountable police department.”


Mr. Lumumba said the city adopted a policy in October 2018 of turning over all cases of people who died in the custody of the Jackson police to the district attorney for a grand jury review.


“The Hinds County grand jury indictments, issued today, begin another phase of the process,” Mr. Lumumba said. “In the full spirit of transparency, the administration will continue to monitor the situation and provide information to the public throughout each phase. We ask that you keep all those affected by this tragedy in your prayers.”



9) The Cop Was the Hero in One Viral Video. Another Told a Different Story.

Bobby White was celebrated as the “Basketball Cop” after millions saw a video of him shooting hoops with local teenagers. A recording from two years earlier shows him throwing a young Black man on the hood of his car during an arrest.

By Nicholas Casey, Aug. 15, 2020


A video from 2014 showed Mr. White slamming a teenager on the hood of a police car. Credit...via Chanae Jackson

Aahtrell Johnson remembered the police car rolling up, just before he was about to take his shot at the basket under the pine trees. It was 2016, and his neighbor had called 911, complaining that he was getting loud in the street. A white officer named Bobby White had been sent to respond.


As Mr. White, a Florida native with a trimmed goatee, approached Mr. Johnson, who is Black, the officer could see the 17-year-old was only playing basketball with his friend. Rather than issue a ticket, Mr. Johnson recalled, the officer asked if he could join the game. He shot some hoops with the teenagers, and others came out of their homes.


No one noticed that Mr. White’s dashboard camera was running the whole time.


The video — posted online by the Police Department afterward and watched by millions of viewers — was a moment of hope in an age where recordings of police brutality were the ones going viral. Mr. White became a celebrity in Gainesville, Fla., and was nicknamed “Basketball Cop.” Sports stars came to play pickup games with the Gainesville teens. Mr. White founded a nonprofit to ease relations between the police and Black youths and was invited on NBC’s “Nightly News” and ESPN to promote it.


“He didn’t look at us like we were criminals,” Mr. Johnson, now 22, said.


But Chanae Jackson, a real estate agent who was born in Gainesville, had a different understanding of policing in the city. Her son had a troubling encounter with law enforcement in 2018, and she became a vocal critic of the department. This May, someone sent her another video of Mr. White: A cellphone recording of him slamming a Black teenager into the hood of his patrol car.


After the killing of George Floyd, Ms. Jackson decided she would release the video.


And with just a click on Facebook, she set off an uproar that stripped away not only Mr. White’s image as the face of what good neighborhood policing should be but also the assumption — embraced by liberal-minded reformers in Gainesville and across the country — that fixing racial bias could be as simple as retraining officers and focusing on “community policing.”


“The culture of police departments creates an environment where there are no real consequences for these officers,” Ms. Jackson wrote in her post under the clip of Mr. White’s encounter with the teenager, who was pulled over for running a stop sign on his bicycle.


Gainesville, a largely white and liberal college town, likes to think of itself as different from its neighbors in the Deep South, both in its politics and its policing.


This summer, it responded to calls for defunding the police with a proposal to eliminate city money for stationing police officers in schools. Shortly afterward, officials removed a Confederate general’s name from an elementary school and vowed to rename it. In 2015, the police chief had invited the Justice Department to retrain its entire force.


Yet Black residents like Ms. Jackson argued that law enforcement in Gainesville remained plagued by the racist legacies of a time when its police officers enforced Jim Crow laws.


“Peel back the layers, and Gainesville is not progressive at all,” she said.


Since the killing of Mr. Floyd on May 25, a similar scrutiny of the police has been underway nationwide. And what’s at play is the fundamental question of how the police are perceived. Or, as the two videos of Mr. White illustrate: Do you think a cop is more likely to play ball, or throw you on the hood of a car?


In Gainesville, Mr. White remains in the police department. He declined interview requests for this article and provided a copy of a 2015 internal investigation which cleared him of wrongdoing.


Mr. Johnson, the teenager Mr. White approached in the basketball video, fondly recalled the games he played with the officer and the group of teens Mr. White called “the crew.” Mr. Johnson remembered going with Mr. White to see the Orlando Magic for the first time and how Mr. White stayed in touch and helped him move out of his family home when he got older.


But Mr. Johnson hadn’t seen the other video, the one of the arrest, and asked to watch it on his phone.


When a Times reporter called him back later that day, his voice had changed. He said his perceptions were different now.


“I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a video of every policeman in the world like that,” Mr. Johnson said. “It’s what they’re taught.”


A celebrity cop


At age 17, Mr. Johnson said he couldn’t help but notice his interactions with the Gainesville Police Department kept becoming more frequent. They were often harassing, he said, and the stops always came after he had finished playing basketball and his friends walked one another home.


This time the police car pulled up before the teenager had even finished his game. But when Mr. White stepped out in 2016, he had a smile on his face.


“Can you believe that someone called complaining that kids are playing basketball in the street?” Mr. White asks in the video recorded on his dashboard camera. “But I ain’t got no problems with it.”


The boy tosses the officer the ball and the two start to play.


Mr. White came to the Police Department in 2008, a transplant from South Florida. Though white, he has said that he came to identify with some of the struggles of many Black youth in the city. He grew up with a single mother who died of drug addiction at a young age. There was never a male role model in his household.


But there was a big difference when it came to the police. In a podcast interview last year, Mr. White said that as a child he remembered thinking the police “were like superheroes.” He didn’t get that reception from children when he arrived in Gainesville.


“I noticed right away that the kids were scared of us,” he said.


That was because relations between law enforcement and African-Americans in Gainesville had long been uneasy, and would soon be more strained. Even before the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner made national news, the city was dealing with a string of brutal incidents involving the police and sheriff’s officers in the city.


In 2009, two unarmed Black men were shot by officers during separate altercations; one died, and the other, who was mentally ill, survived only after his colon was removed. The next year, an officer unleashed an attack dog that mauled Bryce Bates, a 10-year-old boy, in responding to what turned out to be a false report of a burglary. In 2012, a 29-year-old Black man named Nehemiah Dillard died of a heart attack after being hit twice with Tasers during an arrest.


“The chief saw a trend he didn’t like,” said Jorge Campos, the chief inspector of the Police Department. The police chief ordered the department to be retrained — from a traditional policing model that focused mainly on crime fighting, to one in which Mr. Campos said policing would be done “in conjunction with the community,” which had long been the department’s goal.


The city requested help from Justice Department officials, who assigned teams to meet officers in separate sessions on racial profiling, the use of force and when to report biased tactics.


Lorie Fridell, a criminologist who set up the training, said the venue allowed officers to admit prejudice such as “when I see young Black males, my response is ‘danger and crime,’” and to try to overcome their unconscious biases before returning to work.


But the turnaround effort needed a face. Mr. White’s basketball video, which went viral months after the training, made him the obvious choice. The officer was becoming popular on Facebook, where he often posted pictures of himself surrounded by smiling Black children who posed with him on his beat.


Mr. White did a circuit of cable-news interviews, saying the police had been misunderstood in videos of police brutality that only showed law enforcement at its worst. Gainesville offered a counterexample, he insisted.


When a construction company asked to help, Mr. White had a cement court built behind the home of one of the teenagers. He founded a nonprofit, Basketball Cop Foundation, to distribute basketballs to police departments around the country with the motto “hoops, not crime.”


“It’s no secret that there is a damaged relationship between our country’s law enforcement and the youth in the communities we serve,” he wrote in the foundation’s mission statement. “I also believe that kids do not prefer to feel this way, but society, with the help of social media and the news has influenced them.”


Mr. Johnson described Mr. White as a gentle, almost fatherly presence. The officer helped the teenager find a job after high school. Mr. White came with other officers, dressed in Santa Claus hats, to distribute gifts in the neighborhood at Christmas and hosted birthday parties for children whose parents couldn’t afford them.


There was even a surprise visit from Shaquille O’Neal, whom Mr. White brought in 2016 to the same street where the video was filmed.


Mr. O’Neal ordered up a shooting contest for the teenagers, offering $100 for each successful free throw. The visit was featured on “Good Morning America.”


But Mr. Johnson said things changed when Mr. White and the television cameras were gone. He was still being followed by the police, who would ask to search his shoes for marijuana and sometimes ask if he had been selling drugs.


“I was in high school, my friends were in the eighth or ninth grade,” he said.


It turned out even Mr. O’Neal had run into problems the day he visited Gainesville. The N.B.A. star was pulled over by state troopers and questioned before he arrived to meet the teens, Mr. White later said.


‘They’ve messed with the wrong child’


Chanae Jackson had just received the call she said she had feared since moving back to Gainesville, where she grew up. Her 18-year-old son, Keyon Young, was on the other line, and officers from the sheriff’s department had pulled his car over for allegedly speeding and told him to get out.


It was 2018, and Ms. Jackson was getting her start as a real estate agent in the city after raising her son in Atlanta. She returned home in 2016 to take care of her father, who was ill. But Gainesville wasn’t Atlanta, she told her son, especially when it came to the police. During her pregnancy, officers there once slammed her on the hood of a car during a traffic stop, she said.


She told her son to keep his hands visible and stay in the car. She would call 911, hoping the dispatcher there would ask the officers not to escalate the situation.


Dash cam footage released by the sheriff’s department showed what happened next. Two white officers rush toward Mr. Young’s Volvo. One pulls open the door and shouts, “Exit the vehicle or you’re going to jail.” Both officers then lunge into the car. There’s a brief struggle and one officer steps back to point his weapon at Mr. Young’s head.


“I thought they were going to kill him,” Ms. Jackson said.


Ms. Jackson jumped into her car and sped down the streets near her home, searching for the traffic stop. She found her son in handcuffs when she arrived.


She pulled out her phone and began to broadcast her son’s arrest on Facebook to hundreds of friends and family.


“Y’all know me, y’all know I don’t ever go live — anything I have to say, I say within the confines of my own home,” she said, her anger rising. But this time was different, she said. “They’ve messed with the wrong child.”


As her son was arrested, Ms. Jackson referred to studies on policing by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center. She cited arrest statistics of Black people in Gainesville. Ms. Jackson kept the camera rolling, through a first video, a second and a third hours later as her son drove her home after his release.


“I’ve told Keyon, as a Black man in America you have two strikes against you, no matter how well you speak, no matter how well you do,” she said in the video.


A judge later cleared Mr. Young of the speeding charge. But the experience caught the attention of the small but growing activist community in the city. Just as the video of the policeman playing basketball made Mr. White the spokesman of the law enforcement reform effort, the video of the angered mother made Ms. Jackson a star critic of the police in Gainesville.


It had been two years since the Police Department had undergone retraining. But a study by the University of Florida found racial disparities persisted. While African-Americans accounted for only a fifth of the population, they were four times as likely to be arrested in Gainesville than whites. Black teens were seven times as likely to be arrested than white teens.


Less than a year after the Department of Justice training, officers shot and killed Robert Dentmond, a 16-year-old Black high school student who had called 911 saying he was armed and suicidal. Officers fired 35 times after he refused to put down what was found later to be a plastic weapon. A grand jury found the killing justified.


Ms. Jackson argued that the reforms were only a facade and that law enforcement needed to be taken on more directly.


When she saw Black men pulled over as she drove through Gainesville, Ms. Jackson took to stopping and questioning the officers in live Facebook videos. She broadcast to her followers from outside the Alachua County jail and referred to Sadie Darnell, the sheriff, as #ShadySadie in her posts. She was more confrontational than other activists, but said she didn’t mind being a lightning rod.


“I take full ownership of being an angry Black woman,” she said. “Change doesn’t happen in times of comfort.”


Ms. Jackson had always been skeptical of Mr. White’s fame and the media attention that his Basketball Cop Foundation received.


In mid-May, a group of officers in the Police Department who shared her concerns about racism on the force got in touch with her. They sent her a 2014 video in which Mr. White could be seen violently throwing a young Black man onto the hood of his vehicle after he rode a bicycle through a stop sign.


“Black children, in their minds, are compliant,” she said, describing the attitude of the Police Department. That was why Mr. White was popular with the children he knew. “But Black teenagers are seen as grown people — the police see them as Black men, and the world is supposed to be scared of them.”


On May 25, George Floyd was killed by police officers in Minneapolis. The wave of protests against police brutality reached Gainesville days later.


Before a rally, the police chief, Tony Jones, condemned the Minnesota officers. He said Gainesville wasn’t Minneapolis. Its officers had a different philosophy. They had simply been taught differently, retrained in community policing.


He echoed so many political leaders who have argued this year that more training, getting to know residents and working with them to solve neighborhood problems, and hiring officers who look like the people they serve is the best way to end police brutality.


“What I saw in that video erodes the trust of police,” the chief said.


Ms. Jackson thought of the video of Mr. White sitting on her hard drive.


One last viral moment


Mr. White had also become vocal on social media about the killing of Mr. Floyd. In his view, it left a black eye on officers everywhere, and was pushing the country back toward the police brutality narrative that he’d spent years countering.


“I’m a cop. Emotions….” he wrote on Facebook on May 26 under a video still of the arrest. “I am DISGUSTED by the actions of this officer. I am ANGRY at the officers on the scene who didn’t stop him.”


Mr. White’s Facebook page for his Basketball Cop Foundation had given the officer a platform well beyond Gainesville. About 140,000 people nationwide followed his posts on the good deeds of the police, like a local television segment Mr. White posted of one officer who gave a laptop to someone after hers was stolen.


But Mr. Floyd’s death marked a turning point. Some of Mr. White’s followers asked him whether the police were deliberately targeting Black people. Mr. White argued that there was no larger problem, saying his own white family was treated the same as Black families by the police.


“I’m a cop and my teenaged son is white. I still had ‘the talk’ with him, too,” he wrote, referring to how to behave during a police stop. “It’s because I know it’s your actions that will get you shot, not your race.”


Mr. White’s followers began to push him on the unrest and looting in Minneapolis, which some said was justified, one quoting a speech by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Mr. White argued that businesses shouldn’t be harmed.


As the criticism mounted, Mr. White dug in. He posted an article from the far-right website Breitbart News decrying “those smearing every police officer,” and another item about recent crime in Chicago, saying there was too little focus on “Black-on-Black” crime.


“What about the thousands of black babies aborted each year?” asked one commenter in the thread. “Why is it different when a white person is killed similarly by the police?”


Mr. White clicked “like.”


As the disputes between Mr. White and his followers reached a peak, Ms. Jackson returned to the video that was sent to her.


She had been trying to gather more information before releasing it. Shot on a cellphone, the video showed an encounter from 2014. Semajiah Ferguson, then 16 years old, stands next to Mr. White, looking at the ground as the lights flash on the patrol car at nighttime.


“He bothering us Black folks for no reason,” says Mr. Ferguson’s cousin, who was recording the video. “Can you tell us what we did, sir?”


In an interview, Mr. Ferguson recalled he had been riding his bicycle home to his parents’ house after picking up a two-liter bottle of Tropical Punch when he was stopped.


Mr. White later told his superiors the teenager had committed two minor traffic violations — running a stop sign and having improper lighting for the bike — but on the video, the officer mentions neither. Instead, he tells the teenager to sit on the ground. Mr. Ferguson says he doesn’t want to.


Mr. White suddenly grabs the young man, and pins his knees against the hood. The boy goes limp. The officer then throws Mr. Ferguson’s upper body against the hood of the vehicle twice, and a loud thud can be heard.


“Down! Down! Lay down on the car!” Mr. White shouts.


Watching it again, Ms. Jackson decided on June 14 that other people should see this video of Mr. White, too.


As the video circulated on Facebook, she began to see in the comments that this kind of behavior from the police in Gainesville was a surprise to some residents. “Before, some people said we didn’t even need protests in Gainesville because there was no police brutality,” she said.


The video generated outrage among the city’s leaders. Gail Johnson, a city commissioner, said it showed the kind of overzealous policing over minor infractions that her Black constituents had long complained was commonplace.


“It is grounded in racism,” she said. “I don’t even know how to approach it.”


Residents and activists, brought to the streets after the Minneapolis killing, now began to rally against Mr. White in their demonstrations as marches continued around Gainesville. If the police had the video of the arrest, many asked, how was it that the officer had been allowed to work with young children for so many years?


The department released a lengthy statement saying that it had looked into the arrest years before and it didn’t violate any departmental policy. It also said prosecutors hadn’t found any evidence of wrongdoing by the officer even though authorities had found no crime with which to charge the teenager he had thrown.


“The search was captured on video and appeared proper,” said a police report on the incident.


Soon after the department’s statement, which once more praised its community policing model, Ms. Jackson found herself under attack by law enforcement officers for releasing the video.


Becki Holcomb, a white officer who dated Mr. White and worked on the force when it underwent retraining, went after Ms. Jackson on the official Facebook page of the Gainesville Police Department.


“Chanae Jackson, you are a horrible person and you should be ashamed of yourself,” the officer wrote under the department’s statement on Mr. Ferguson’s arrest. “You are a liar, a race baiter and one of the most uneducated, hateful women I’ve ever had to deal with.”


Not long after, Ashley Mauger, a 911 dispatcher in the sheriff’s office, threatened to run background checks on those who were criticizing Mr. White on Facebook. She then turned her attention to Ms. Jackson, calling her a “hothead” and criticizing her grammar.


“I can’t fathom the response you will get the next time you dial 911 and possibly get me on the phone with a loved one or yourself in a life-or-death emergency,” she wrote, adding, “you should all be ashamed of yourselves.”


Ms. Mauger was briefly suspended for her comments; Ms. Holcomb is under investigation, the police said.


Ms. Jackson said that while the attacks by the officers angered her, she was not surprised.


If anything, Ms. Jackson said she felt some vindication. After years of hearing white neighbors praise Gainesville’s policing, the video and the reactions showed a reality that contradicted that of the “Basketball Cop.”


“I said, ‘There they go, proving my point again,’” she said of the fallout.


Ms. Jackson continues her efforts to hold the police accountable in her online videos. Driving for errands in the nearby city of Ocala in early July, she pulled over when she saw more than a dozen police cars surrounding a group of teenagers of color, and started filming.


When the traffic stop finished, she yelled out to the young men to pull over a second time — she wanted to instruct them on how to file a complaint if they felt the stop was unwarranted.


“I’m gonna record for y’all to see every time this happens, every time,” she says to her online audience in the video.


Stella Cooper contributed reporting.


Nicholas Casey is a national politics reporter. He was previously the Andes bureau chief, based in Colombia.



10) ‘We’re Desperate’: Transit Cuts Felt Deepest in Low-Income Areas

As the pandemic wreaks havoc on public transit systems across the country, experts say it is low-income residents, people of color and essential workers bearing the brunt.

By Pranshu Verma, Aug. 15, 2020

A bus in Brooklyn in April. Public transit leaders across the country say that the $25 billion in aid they received in March is quickly drying up. Credit...Jonah Markowitz for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — As Nina Red stood under a tree in the New Orleans rain, waiting for two buses that never came, she recalled a feeling of helplessness.


Ms. Red, 69, a resident of the city’s Algiers neighborhood, does not have a car. The bus, which she has ridden for 43 years, is the cheapest way to get around. But since the coronavirus pandemic hit, she has noticed service take a deep dive.


A six-mile trip to the grocery store, which used to take an hour, sometimes takes close to three. Routine doctor’s appointments at 8 a.m. require her to wake up by 5. Many days, buses have skipped her stop without warning. When they do arrive, they are packed, making her worry she is going to be exposed to the coronavirus.


“We’re desperate,” Ms. Red said. “We have no other transportation. If we had an alternative, we would take it.”


New Orleans, like most American cities, has seen its transit budget drastically affected during the pandemic. Public transit leaders across the country have issued dire warnings to Congress, saying that the first $25 billion in aid they received in March is quickly drying up, and they need more — otherwise their systems will go into a “death spiral.”


In return, though, Congress has shown little sign that another stimulus package will pass soon, or even include any of the $32 billion more in assistance that transit experts say is needed to prevent systems from making more severe cuts to service that could stall the nation’s economic recovery.


But as service cuts to the United States’ bus, rail and subway systems start to happen, experts say it is the nation’s low-income residents, people of color and essential workers bearing the brunt. Many of them feel the congressional gridlock is completely ignoring their plight.


“It seems like we’re invisible,” Ms. Red said, “and they don’t care about us.”


The pandemic has wreaked havoc on public transit. Ridership on top city systems has declined 70 percent to 90 percent. Sales tax revenue, which fuels many transit agency budgets, has cratered because of a collapsing economy. All told, transit agencies across the country are projected to rack up close to $40 billion in budget shortfalls, dwarfing the $2 billion loss inflicted by the 2008 financial crisis.


To stay afloat, transit leaders have started to pare back service, which has caused immediate disruption. Many riders are already experiencing longer commute times, more system breakdowns, a lack of social distancing and, in some cases, unexplainable lapses in service.


But the effect is not spread equally, according to data.


Minority residents account for 60 percent of all public transit riders, according to industry experts. While over 2.8 million essential workers rely on public transportation to get to work, expert analysis found, 67 percent of those are people of color.


In the early days of the pandemic, industry analysis also showed white ridership on transit systems dropped drastically, with 22 percent of transit users identifying as white, compared with 40 percent normally. Black ridership, which normally accounts for 24 percent of transit users, increased to nearly 38 percent.


“The wealthy have lots of choices,” said Beth Osborne, the director of Transportation for America, an advocacy group. “People with enough money can choose to opt out for a while. That’s quite a luxury.”


Experts say the ability for higher-income and white-collar workers to work remotely or use a car at higher rates than low-income and minority residents highlights another systemic inequity made glaringly obvious during the pandemic.


Two economic studies have found Black people could be dying at nearly double the rate of white people from the coronavirus, in part because of their heavier reliance on public transportation.


For essential workers like Mosi Tibbs, 26, who lives just outside Pittsburgh, the inequality is glaring during his daily bus trip to his job at Trader Joe’s.


Mr. Tibbs, who is Black and the main breadwinner for his household, has noticed buses on his route coming less frequently, or much later than normal. When they do arrive, they are usually packed and filled with riders who are not wearing their masks.


He has considered buying a car because he does not want to risk being late to his job and losing it, or contracting the virus and giving it to his wife, who has Celiac disease. But it is just not affordable right now.


“I’m upset I have to make that type of decision,” Mr. Tibbs said. “I have to choose between financial stability, and the health of myself and my wife.”


The plight of public transportation riders has drawn attention on Capitol Hill, but not in ways that have produced hope for transit riders across the country.


In May, House lawmakers passed a coronavirus aid package that would dedicate an additional $15 billion in funding to transportation agencies. It stalled in the Republican-led Senate.


The White House and top congressional Democrats are still at a standstill over the next relief package. The Senate has gone home for its August recess, with no indication that a deal is imminent. The White House’s $1 trillion proposal does not include any emergency relief for public transit.


The omission has caused uproar among lawmakers. In late July, 110 representatives in the House signed a letter urging congressional leadership to include $32 billion in emergency funding for public transportation agencies in any future aid measure.


Last week, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said Democrats had heard the warnings from public transit leaders and were imploring their Republican colleagues to ensure funding is included.


“This is when government is needed,” he said. “Jump-starting our economy means getting people back to work safely, and that means mass transit: fully operational, fully funded mass transit.”


Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, did not respond to a request for comment.


Transit leaders have signaled that the cuts they are making to service are only the start, and the real pain will be felt in the coming months. Bigger city systems will see the first round of coronavirus aid dry up in the next few months, while midsize cities expected to see the worst next year.


Nearly one-third of public transit agencies are furloughing employees or are planning furloughs, according to the American Public Transportation Association. A third of agencies are also delaying capital projects that were meant to upgrade transit systems and reduce the risk of accidents.


Reduced revenue from fares and sales tax subsidies have meant cities like San Francisco have cut half their bus lines. In New Orleans, where 14 percent of its transit workers have tested positive for the virus, fare revenue has dropped by 45 percent. Chicago expects up to a $1.5 billion budgetary shortfall into next year.


If additional aid from Congress does not come through, transit systems could plunge into a transit death spiral, where cuts to service and delayed upgrades make public transit a less convenient option for the public. That, in turn, prompts further drops in ridership, causing spiraling revenue loss and service cuts until a network eventually collapses.


Transit advocates say if that happens, it could slow the nation’s path to economic recovery by cutting off a main way for workers who rely on public transit to get to work.


And while congressional leadership remains at an impasse over the next round of coronavirus aid and how much more support to give transit agencies, those outside Washington said it was simply another sign of how federal lawmakers were out of touch with the struggles facing everyday Americans.


“It’s not their problem,” Ms. Red said. “Their families and friends have everything they need. They don’t look at us.”



11) Georgia Trooper Is Charged in Fatal Shooting of Black Driver

The trooper, who is white, was fired and charged with murder a week after the killing, which happened after the driver had been pulled over for having a broken taillight, the authorities said.

By Allyson Waller, Aug. 15, 2020

Jacob G. Thompson, who had been a Georgia state trooper since 2013, was fired and charged with felony murder and aggravated assault on Friday. Credit...Georgia Department of Public Safety, via Associated Press

A Georgia state trooper was fired and charged with murder on Friday, one week after a 60-year-old Black man was fatally shot during a traffic stop over a broken taillight on his car, the authorities said.


The trooper, Jacob G. Thompson, 27, who is white, was charged on Friday by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation with felony murder and aggravated assault in connection with an Aug. 7 traffic stop that resulted in the death of Julian Edward Roosevelt Lewis of Sylvania, Ga.


“Mr. Lewis was no threat as a 60-year-old man just trying to make it home from a convenience store run” to get a grape soda for his wife, said Francys Johnson, a lawyer representing Mr. Lewis’s family.


A Georgia State Patrol report details how events unfolded:


Around 9 p.m. on Aug. 7, Mr. Thompson spotted Mr. Lewis near Sylvania, Ga., which is about 60 miles northwest of Savannah, driving with a broken taillight, followed him and attempted to pull him over.


Mr. Lewis continued driving, and Mr. Thompson eventually used his patrol vehicle to force Mr. Lewis’s car to turn sideways, causing him to stop in a ditch. Mr. Thompson drew his gun as he got out and saw Mr. Lewis with both of his hands on the steering wheel, the report said.


It then appeared, the trooper said, that Mr. Lewis was trying to maneuver his vehicle toward him, prompting him to open fire, the report said. Mr. Lewis was pronounced dead at the scene, the bureau said in a statement.


Mr. Lewis’s family did not learn of his whereabouts or his death until around 1 a.m. the next day, Mr. Johnson said.


The Georgia Department of Public Safety said in a statement that Mr. Thompson had been fired for his “negligence or inefficiency in performing assigned duties; or commission of a felony.”


Keith Barber, who was described by The Associated Press as Mr. Thompson’s lawyer, could not immediately be reached on Saturday. He told The A.P. that Mr. Thompson “has an excellent character.”


“I think he’s a fine trooper,” Mr. Barber said. “I think at the end of the day he will be exonerated in this case.”


The decision to arrest and fire Mr. Thompson a week after Mr. Lewis’s death was a surprise, Mr. Johnson said on Saturday.


“Oftentimes justice is so delayed in these kinds of cases,” he said. “I can’t think of another case that has moved so swiftly.”


He said he believed it was a direct result of protests and increased scrutiny in the aftermath of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of the police.


In May, two white men were charged with murder months after the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was shot while jogging through a neighborhood in Brunswick, Ga.


And on Friday, the authorities said three police officers in Mississippi had been indicted on charges of second-degree murder in the death of a Black man, George Robinson, 62, of Jackson, Miss. The indictment accused the officers of pulling him from his car, slamming him headfirst into the pavement, and striking and kicking him in the head and chest.


The Rev. James Woodall, the president of Georgia’s N.A.A.C.P., said immediate action needed to be taken to address violence and racial terrorism against Black people, regardless of whether it was committed by the police or by private citizens, he said.


“People are literally losing their lives on a daily basis due to this senselessness, and we must do something about it,” he said.


Mr. Lewis was celebrated by friends and family at a vigil in Sylvania on Friday, and funeral services were held on Saturday morning. He was semiretired and worked as a carpenter, Mr. Johnson said.


Mr. Lewis was “too good to die as he did,” his wife, Betty Lewis, said in a statement.


“I want justice for Julian,” she said. “This is one step towards justice.”


Christina Morales contributed reporting.
















































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