Over A Year in Lock Down.
OCCUPATION IS A CRIME.
MILITARIZATION IS INJUSTICE.
SELF-DETERMINATION IS A RIGHT.
August 5, 2020, marked one full year that occupied Kashmir has been under a brutal lock down. Every day for Kashmiris is a day of occupation. A silent genocide is taking place & its time we break the silence.
Below are actions and events that you can participate in to stay engaged.
Join Us:Hosted by ICNA Council for Social Justice
Car Rally for Kashmir
Sunday, August 30 at 5PM
Starting at Fremont City Hall
For more information and to RSVP:
Sign the Equality Labs Petition to #EndCasteinUS
A new case against Cisco marks historic progress in ensuring caste oppressed people are protected in U.S. companies. This landmark case brings light to how caste has migrated to the U.S. from South Asia, and continues to operate inside institutions from corporations to universities.
Help Equality Labs reach their goal of 10K signatures on this major petition to achieve anti-discrimination protections for caste oppressed people!
The Kashmir Podcast with Ifat GaziaThe story of Kashmir has to be told.
A bi-weekly podcast in collaboration with Stand With Kashmir, to bring you stories of resistance and resilience from the people of Kashmir.
The Kashmir Podcast will delve into the everyday lives of Kashmiris, bringing you first-hand perspectives on their daily struggles & battles for justice, and stories of resistance and resilience in a fight against occupation and colonization.
Click HERE to tune in.
Follow on Instagram: @thekashmirpodcast
Artist Highlights:Check out the work from these great Kashmiri Artists:
Tufail Nazir (@iamtufailnazir | Khoon Rezi)
Aatankki Music (@aatankkimusic | Beta Naaz Hai)
Rauhan Malik (@rauhanmalik | Khatt)
Tabeena Wani (@tabeenawani)
Numair Qadri (@numairqadri | Website)
Khytul Abyad (@khyyyk | Website)
Anis Wani (@aniswani | Twitter | Work)
Click on the image below to listen to a beautiful rendition of Hum Dekhenge by Kashmiri Poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, performed by a group of Kashmiri Artists, released on August 5, 2020.
"An ode to the pain and melancholy we have faced in the past 365 days, when our voices were snatched away from us."
Mixed Mastered and Music produced by - Rauhan Malik
Change your profile picture to the red square and use the caption below:
Decolonize, demilitarize, and demand the right to self-determination!
August 5, 2020, marks one full year that occupied Kashmir has been under a brutal lockdown. Change your display photo to red & repost this to raise awareness about the killings, mass torture, unlawful detentions, stealing of land, & settler colonialism taking place in Kashmir right now.
Every day for Kashmiris is a day of occupation. Stand in solidarity with Kashmir’s fight for freedom from India’s illegal occupation.
#GoRedForKashmir #RedForKashmir #StandWithKashmir
#DecolonizeKashmir #FreeKashmir #OneYearLater
Share our Posts on Your Social Media:
Check out the Social Media Toolkit here:
Sign-on to the Solidarity Statement:Organizations can review and sign the statement here: https://www.standwithkashmir.org/solidarity-with-kashmirWrite to Your Elected Officials:
Contact your congressional representatives asking them to elevate the voices and aspirations of Kashmiris by issuing a public statement or recorded a video in support of the rights of Kashmiris to self-determination and civil liberties.
Step 1: Find your elected officials here:
Step 2: Use this template letter to reach out to your representative:
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Do Trump and coronavirus have you down? Then join us on September 26 to celebrate the 15 year anniversary of one of the world’s most beautiful projects: Cuba’s Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade!
The Henry Reeve Brigade will celebrate its 15th anniversary next month! Yes, it will have been 15 years since Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans and prompted then-Cuban president Fidel Castro to offer to send doctors to help treat patients in the storm’s aftermath. The US government refused this offer, but Cuba was not deterred from wanting to show the world some much needed solidarity.
Since its founding, the brave women and men of the Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade have given emergency medical assistance to more than 3.5 million people in over 50 countries. To honor their compassion and commitment, we will hear directly from Cuban doctors working on the frontlines of the pandemic.
What: Cuban Doctors Speak: 15 years of the Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade
When: Saturday, September 26 at 8pm ET / 5pm PT
Where: Online via Zoom, YouTube and Facebook.
There’s even more good news: Danny Glover will be on with us to offer his commentary, and journalist/author Vijay Prashad will host this fascinating conversation! Please join Danny, Vijay, and the Cuban medical personnel for this celebratory event. We promise it will nurture your soul.
Alicia Jrakpo and Medea Benjamin
P.S. The attacks on Cuba’s medical internationalism are not stopping! Even Human Rights Watch (HRW), a liberal NGO, has joined in on the Trump administration’s campaign to slander this amazing example of solidarity. If you have not already, please read the rebuttal to the HRW report then sign and share the petition asking HRW to retract their flawed report!
Also, Vijay Prashad has just published a lovely article about why Cuban doctors deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. Check it out!
P.P.S. 1980 Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel just made a video endorsing the Nobel for Cuban Doctors campaign! Click here to watch it!.
Want to make your own short video explaining why you support the Henry Reeve Brigade? Upload it to Twitter and tag @CubaNobel. Then we’ll be happy to like and retweet it! It’s a great way of spreading the word about the campaign.
We look forward to working with you to continue the aspirations of the Nobel Peace Prize for the Cuban Doctors campaign. Watch for our upcoming webinars and film series.
Remember to follow us in social media:
Alicia Jrapko and Medea Benjamin
Co-Chairs of the Cuba Nobel Prize Committee
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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.
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:
- Portland, Oregon: (833) 680-1312
- San Francisco, California: (415) 285-1041 or email@example.com
- Seattle, Washington: (206) 658-7963
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.
- Know Your Rights During Covid-19
- You Have The Right To Remain Silent: A Know Your Rights Guide for Encounters with Law Enforcement
- Operation Backfire: For Environmental and Animal Rights Activists
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 Juries: Slideshow
Grand Jury Resistance Project
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 PrisonDonald 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.
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)
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Subject: Shut Down Fort Hood! Justice for Vanessa Guillén. Sign the petition!
SHUT DOWN FORT HOOD NOW!JUSTICE FOR
PFC. VANESSA GUILLÉN!
Sign the Petition
In late April, Pfc. Vanessa Guillén went missing from her base in Ft. Hood, Texas. It took her family and friends working night and day to appeal to the commanding officers to get any attention whatsoever about her whereabouts. Vanessa had told her family she had been sexually harassed by her supervisor.For more than three months, Vanessa’s higher-ups paid little attention to her family’s urgent pleas to investigate her disappearance. She was treated as being disposable.In late June, her body was found 25 miles from the base. Vanessa had been tragically murdered by her abuser who later killed himself upon capture.The unspeakable crimes against Vanessa Guillén have opened a floodgate of testimonies about sexual assault in the military. Many women and LGBTQ2S+ people are telling their heartbreaking stories with the hashtag #iamvanessaGuillén.Vanessa’s death is a result of sexual harassment in the military, which is deplorable. Fort Hood is the worst. According to the Pentagon’s own reports, it has the most sexual assaults of any Army post in the country. That is why it must be shut down now!In addition, Fort Hood, the single biggest military post in the U.S. armed forces, is named after a Confederate general. Its name glorifies racism and slavery.When Vanessa Guillén enlisted in the Army, she thought she’d be doing good and it would be helpful to her. Instead, it destroyed her. But how could it not when the military exists not to help people, but to defend Wall Street? It invaded and still occupies Iraq and Afghanistan, killing millions, just for oil profits.The case for Justice for Vanessa is very much linked to the movement for Black Lives. Young people of color must have other options than police violence or going to war for their future.WE DEMAND:•Investigate Fort Hood Commanding General Robert White and others for conspiracy to cover up Pfc. Vanessa Guillén’s murder. Why did it take a mass movement to find what happened?
•Shut down Ft. Hood! There is no other way to end the deplorable conditions soldiers face.
•Job training, education, COVID-19 relief, not war! If we shut down the Pentagon, the annual U.S. defense budget of $1 trillion could be used for people’s needs, not war.
•End misogyny and homophobia in the military. Justice for Vanessa and all survivors.
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)
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.
Nancy, Carley, Jodie, Paki, Cody, Kelsey, and Yousef
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© 2020 CODEPINK.ORG | Created with NationBuilder
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.
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 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...
THERE HAS BEEN A SHIFT, AN AWAKENING...MANY OF YOU ARE BEING EXPOSED FOR WHO YOU REALLY ARE. #readthatagain
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.
WE ARE NOT TRYING TO START A RACE WAR; WE ARE PROTESTING TO END IT,
How beautiful is that?
ALL LIVES CANNOT MATTER UNTIL YOU INCLUDE BLACK LIVES.
YOU CANNOT SAY 'ALL LIVES MATTER' WHEN YOU DO NOTHING TO STOP SYSTEMIC RACISM & POLICE BRUTALITY.
YOU CANNOT SAY 'ALL LIVES MATTER' WHEN BLACK PEOPLE ARE DYING AND ALL YOU COMPLAIN ABOUT IS THE LOOTING.
YOU CANNOT SAY 'ALL LIVES MATTER' WHEN YOU ALLOW CHILDREN TO BE CAGED, VETERANS TO GO HOMELESS, AND POOR FAMILIES TO GO HUNGRY & LOSE THEIR HEALTH INSURANCE.
DO ALL LIVES MATTER? YES. BUT RIGHT NOW, ONLY BLACK LIVES ARE BEING TARGETED, JAILED, AND KILLED EN MASSE- SO THAT'S WHO WE'RE FOCUSING ON.
🖤🖤🖤BLACK LIVES MATTER🖤🖤🖤
IF YOU CAN'T SEE THIS, YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.
*I do not know the original author*
Copy & paste widely!
BLACK LIVES MATTER
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.—BAUAW
(Bay Area United Against War Newsletter)
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)
I didn't do nothing serious man
please I can't breathe
I can't breathe
I can't breathe
man can't breathe, my face
just get up
I can't breathe
I can't breathe sh*t
I can't move
my stomach hurt
my neck 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 I can't breathe"
Then his eyes shut and the pleas stop. George Floyd was pronounced dead shortly after.
By ShakaboonaTrump Comic Satire—A Proposal
Write to Shakaboona:Smart Communications/PA DOCKerry Shakaboona Marshall #BE7826SCI RockviewP.O. Box 33028St. Petersburg, FL 33733
Enough is Enough: Global Nuclear Weapons
Raping, torturing their way across
the continent—400 years ago—
Colonial settler thugs launched this
endless crimson tide rolling down on
endless crimson tide leaving in-
visible yellow crime
scene tape crisscrossing Tallahassee
to Seattle; San Diego to Bangor…
Choctaw, Mohawk, Cayuga, Blackfeet,
Shooting Sioux, Shawnee, Chickasaw,
Looting Lakota land; Looting Ohlone
Looting Ashanti, Fulani, Huasa, Wolof,
Yoruba, Ibo, Kongo, Mongo, Hutu, Zulu…
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
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
Not FOX-boxes, silly sneakers, cheap clothes…
Veterans Join Call for a Global Ceasefire
www.couragetoresist.org ~ 510.488.3559 ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist
Oakland, CA 94610-2730
"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)
Mumia Abu-Jamal: New Chance for Freedom
Police and State Frame-Up Must Be Fully Exposed!
Mumia Abu-Jamal is innocent. Courts have ignored and suppressed evidence of his innocence for decades.... But now, one court has thrown out all the decisions of the PA Supreme Court that denied Mumia's appeals against his unjust conviction during the years of 1998 to 2012!
This ruling, by Judge Leon Tucker, was made because one judge on the PA Supreme Court during those years, Ronald Castille, was lacking the "appearance of impartiality." In plain English, he was clearly biased against Mumia. Before sitting on the PA Supreme Court, Castille had been District Attorney (or assistant DA) during the time of Mumia's frame-up and conviction, and had used his office to express a special interest in pursuing the death penalty for "cop-killers." Mumia was in the cross-hairs. Soon he was wrongly convicted and sent to death row for killing a police officer.....
* * * * *
Mumia Abu-Jamal is an award-winning and intrepid journalist, a former Black Panther, MOVE supporter, and a critic of police brutality and murder. Mumia was framed by police, prosecutors, and leading elements of both Democratic and Republican parties, for the shooting of a police officer.. The US Justice Department targeted him as well... A racist judge helped convict him, and corrupt courts have kept him locked up despite much evidence that should have freed him. He continues his commentary and journalism from behind bars. As of 2019, he has been imprisoned for 37 years for a crime he did not commit.
Time is up! FREE MUMIA NOW!
* * * * *
DA's Hidden Files Show Frame-Up of Mumia
In the midst of Mumia's fight for his right to challenge the state Supreme Court's negative rulings, a new twist was revealed: six boxes of files on Mumia's case--with many more still hidden--were surreptitiously concealed for decades in a back room at the District Attorney's office in Philadelphia. The very fact that these files on Mumia's case were hidden away for decades is damning in the extreme, and their revelations confirm what we have known for decades: Mumia was framed for a crime he did not commit!
So far, the newly revealed evidence confirms that, at the time of Mumia's 1982 trial, chief prosecutor Joe McGill illegally removed black jurors from the jury, violating the Batson decision. Also revealed: The prosecution bribed witnesses into testifying that they saw Mumia shoot the slain police officer when they hadn't seen any such thing.... Taxi driver Robert Chobert, who was on probation for fire-bombing a school yard at the time, had sent a letter demanding his money for lying on the stand....... Very important, but the newly revealed evidence is just the tip of the iceberg!
All Evidence of Mumia's Innocence Must Be Brought Forward Now!
Mumia Abu-Jamal's trial for the murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner was rigged against him from beginning to end........ All of the evidence of Mumia's innocence--which was earlier suppressed or rejected--must now be heard:
• Mumia was framed - The judge at Mumia's trial, Albert Sabo, was overheard to say, "I'm gonna help 'em fry the n____r." And he proceeded to do just that.... Mumia was thrown out of his own trial for defending himself! Prosecution "witnesses" were coerced or bribed at trial to lie against Mumia.. In addition to Chobert, this included key witness Cynthia White, a prostitute who testified that she saw Mumia shoot Faulkner... White's statements had to be rewritten under intense pressure from the cops, because she was around the corner and out of sight of the shooting at the time! Police bribed her with promises of being allowed to work her corner, and not sent to state prison for her many prostitution charges.
• Mumia only arrived on the scene after Officer Faulkner was shot - William Singletary, a tow-truck business owner who had no reason to lie against the police, said he had been on the scene the whole time, that Mumia was not the shooter, and that Mumia had arrived only after the shooting of Faulkner. Singletary's statements were torn up, his business was wrecked, and he was threatened by police to be out of town for the trial (which, unfortunately, he was)...
• There is no evidence that Mumia fired a gun - Mumia was shot on the scene by an arriving police officer and arrested. But the cops did not test his hands for gun-powder residue--a standard procedure in shootings! They also did not test Faulkner's hands. The prosecution nevertheless claimed Mumia was the shooter, and that he was shot by Faulkner as the officer fell to the ground. Ballistics evidence was corrupted to falsely show that Mumia's gun was the murder weapon, when his gun was reportedly still in his taxi cab, which was in police custody days after the shooting!
• The real shooter fled the scene and was never charged - Veronica Jones was a witness who said that after hearing the shots from a block away, she had seen two people fleeing the scene of the shooting.... This could not have included Mumia, who had been shot and almost killed at the scene. Jones was threatened by the police with arrest and loss of custody of her children. She then lied on the stand at trial to say she had seen no one running away.
• Abu-Jamal never made a confession - Mumia has always maintained his innocence. But police twice concocted confessions that Mumia never made. Inspector Alfonso Giordano, the senior officer at the crime scene, made up a confession for Mumia. But Giordano was not allowed to testify at trial, because he was top on the FBI's list of corrupt cops in the Philadelphia police force... At the DA's request, another cop handily provided a second "confession," allegedly heard by a security guard in the hospital......... But at neither time was Mumia--almost fatally shot--able to speak.. And an earlier police report by cops in the hospital said that, referring to Mumia: "the negro male made no comment"!
• The crime scene was tampered with by police - Police officers at the scene rearranged some evidence, and handled what was alleged to be Mumia's gun with their bare hands... A journalist's photos revealed this misconduct. The cops then left the scene unattended for hours.. All of this indicates a frame-up in progress....
• The real shooter confessed, and revealed the reason for the crime - Arnold Beverly came forward in the 1990s. He said in a sworn statement, under penalty of perjury, that he, not Mumia, had been the actual shooter. He said that he, along with "another guy," had been hired to do the hit, because Faulkner was "a problem for the mob and corrupt policemen because he interfered with the graft and payoffs made to allow illegal activity including prostitution, gambling, drugs without prosecution in the center city area"! (affidavit of Arnold Beverly).
• The corruption of Philadelphia police is documented and well known - This includes that of Giordano, who was the first cop to manufacture a "confession" by Mumia... Meanwhile, Faulkner's cooperation with the federal anti-corruption investigations of Philadelphia police is strongly suggested by his lengthy and heavily redacted FBI file......
• Do cops kill other cops? There are other cases in Philadelphia that look that way. Frank Serpico, an NYC cop who investigated and reported on police corruption, was abandoned by fellow cops after being shot in a drug bust. Mumia was clearly made a scape-goat for the crimes of corrupt Philadelphia cops who were protecting their ill-gotten gains.
• Politicians and US DOJ helped the frame-up - Ed Rendell, former DA, PA governor, and head of the Democratic National Committee--and now a senior advisor to crime-bill author Joe Biden--is complicit in the frame-up of Mumia. The US Justice Department targeted Mumia for his anti-racist activities when he was a teenager, and later secretly warned then-prosecutor Rendell not to use Giordano as a witness against Mumia because he was an FBI target for corruption..
* * * * *
All this should lead to an immediate freeing of Mumia! But we are still a ways away from that, and we have no confidence in the capitalist courts to finish the job. We must act! This victory in local court allowing new appeals must now lead to a full-court press on all the rejected and suppressed evidence of Mumia's innocence!
Mass Movement Needed To Free Mumia!
Mumia's persecution by local, state and federal authorities of both political parties has been on-going, and has generated a world-wide movement in his defense... This movement has seen that Mumia, as a radio journalist who exposed the brutal attacks on the black community by the police in Philadelphia, has spoken out as a defender of working people of all colors and all nationalities in his ongoing commentaries (now on KPFA/Pacifica radio), despite being on death row, and now while serving life without the possibility of parole (LWOP)...
In 1999, Oakland Teachers for Mumia held unauthorized teach-ins in Oakland schools on Mumia and the death penalty, despite the rabid hysteria in the bourgeois media. Teachers in Rio de Janeiro held similar actions. Letters of support came in from maritime workers and trade unions around the world.. Later in 1999, longshore workers shut down all the ports on the West Coast to free Mumia, and led a mass march of 25,000 Mumia supporters in San Francisco................
A year later, a federal court lifted Mumia's death sentence, based on improper instructions to the jury by trial judge Albert Sabo.. The federal court ordered the local court to hold a new sentencing hearing... Fearing their frame-up of Mumia could be revealed in any new hearing, even if only on sentencing, state officials passed. Much to the chagrin of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP)--which still seeks Mumia's death--this left Mumia with LWOP, death by life in prison..
Mumia supporters waged a struggle to get him the cure for the deadly Hepatitis-C virus, which he had likely contracted through a blood transfusion in hospital after he was shot by a cop at the 1981 crime scene. The Labor Action Committee conducted demonstrations against Gilead Sciences, the Foster City CA corporation that owns the cure, and charged $1,000 per pill! The Metalworkers Union of South Africa wrote a letter excoriating Governor Wolf for allowing untreated sick freedom fighters to die in prison as the apartheid government had done. Finally, Mumia did get the cure.. Now, more than ever, struggle is needed to free Mumia!
Now is the Time: Mobilize Again for Mumia's Freedom!
Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal | Mumia Abu-Jamal is an I.....
Message to the People
A voice from inside Pennsylvania’s gulag
LETTERS NEEDED FOR
Dear Friends, Supporters, and Family,
In light of the provisions of the CARES Act meant to decrease the risk to prisoner heath, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Attorney General has delegated to the Director of the Bureau of Prisons the authority to release certain vulnerable prisoners to home confinement. Currently, the process for identifying appropriate candidates for home confinement have not been solidified but we believe it may help to write to the BOP Director and Southeast Regional Director and ask that Leonard be immediately considered and transitioned to his home on the Turtle Mountain Reservation.Your letters should be addressed to:
Michael CarvajalDirector320 First Street NWWashington, DC 20534
J.A. KellerSoutheast Regional DirectorFederal Bureau of3800 Camp Crk Prk SW, Building 2000Atlanta, GA 30331
We have not drafted a form letter or correspondence. Your pleas should come from your heart as an individual who has supported Leonard for so many years. Say what you would like but we have put together some talking points that will assist you in your letter writing. Below are some helpful guidelines so your letter touches on the requirements of the Attorney General’s criteria for releasing inmates like Leonard to home confinement
OPENING:• Point out that Leonard is an elder and is at risk for example.” Mr. Peltier is 75 years old and in very poor health; his only desire is to go home to the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation and live out the remainder of his years surrounded by his family.”
MEDICAL:The AG and CDC guidelines for releasing inmates requires the health concerns cause greater risk of getting the virus. Leonard has the following conditions you can list in your letter• Diabetes• Spots on lung• Heart Condition (has had triple by-pass surgery)• Leonard Peltier suffers from a kidney disease that cannot be treated at the Coleman1facility and impacts as an underlying condition if contracting the virus.
RISK TO COMMUNITY:To qualify for release to home confinement we must show that Leonard poses no risk to the community.
COMMUNITY SUPPORT/RENTRY PLAN:To qualify for release to home confinement we must show that Leonard has a reentry plan. Leonard has support from the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Band and has family land on the reservation where he can live.
RISK OF COVID 19:To qualify for the release to home confinement must show that Leonard is at reduced risk to exposure of COVID 19 by release than he is at Coleman 1. Currently Rolette County, ND has no cases of COVID 19, Sumter County has at least 33 cases.
Questions and comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
500 E. 4th St.
Chester, PA 19013
Telephone: (610) 490-5412
Email: email@example.com (Prison Superintendent). firstname.lastname@example.org (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: email@example.comDemand that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections immediately:
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.
The Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
Optimism about Apple’s future profits won’t pay this month’s rent.
By Paul Krugman, Opinion Columnist, Aug. 20, 2020
Housing activists outside a home in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. Credit...Scott Heins/Getty Images
On Tuesday, the S&P 500 stock index hit a record high. The next day, Apple became the first U.S. company in history to be valued at more than $2 trillion. Donald Trump is, of course, touting the stock market as proof that the economy has recovered from the coronavirus; too bad about those 173,000 dead Americans, but as he says, “It is what it is.”
But the economy probably doesn’t feel so great to the millions of workers who still haven’t gotten their jobs back and who have just seen their unemployment benefits slashed. The $600 a week supplemental benefit enacted in March has expired, and Trump’s purported replacement is basically a sick joke.
Even before the aid cutoff, the number of parents reporting that they were having trouble giving their children enough to eat was rising rapidly. That number will surely soar in the next few weeks. And we’re also about to see a huge wave of evictions, both because families are no longer getting the money they need to pay rent and because a temporary ban on evictions, like supplemental unemployment benefits, has just expired.
But how can there be such a disconnect between rising stocks and growing misery? Wall Street types, who do love their letter games, are talking about a “K-shaped recovery”: rising stock valuations and individual wealth at the top, falling incomes and deepening pain at the bottom. But that’s a description, not an explanation. What’s going on?
The first thing to note is that the real economy, as opposed to the financial markets, is still in terrible shape. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s weekly economic index suggests that the economy, although off its low point a few months ago, is still more deeply depressed than it was at any point during the recession that followed the 2008 financial crisis.
And this time around, job losses are concentrated among lower-paid workers — that is, precisely those Americans without the financial resources to ride out bad times.
What about stocks? The truth is that stock prices have never been closely tied to the state of the economy. As an old economists’ joke has it, the market has predicted nine of the last five recessions.
Stocks do get hit by financial crises, like the disruptions that followed the fall of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 and the brief freeze in credit markets back in March. Otherwise, stock prices are pretty disconnected from things like jobs or even G.D.P.
And these days, the disconnect is even greater than usual.
For the recent rise in the market has been largely driven by a small number of technology giants. And the market values of these companies have very little to do with their current profits, let alone the state of the economy in general. Instead, they’re all about investor perceptions of the fairly distant future.
Take the example of Apple, with its $2 trillion valuation. Apple has a price-earnings ratio — the ratio of its market valuation to its profits — of about 33. One way to look at that number is that only around 3 percent of the value investors place on the company reflects the money they expect it to make over the course of the next year. As long as they expect Apple to be profitable years from now, they barely care what will happen to the U.S. economy over the next few quarters.
Furthermore, the profits people expect Apple to make years from now loom especially large because, after all, where else are they going to put their money? Yields on U.S. government bonds, for example, are well below the expected rate of inflation.
And Apple’s valuation is actually less extreme than the valuations of other tech giants, like Amazon or Netflix.
So big tech stocks — and the people who own them — are riding high because investors believe that they’ll do very well in the long run. The depressed economy hardly matters.
Unfortunately, ordinary Americans get very little of their income from capital gains, and can’t live on rosy projections about their future prospects. Telling your landlord not to worry about your current inability to pay rent, because you’ll surely have a great job five years from now, will get you nowhere — or, more accurately, will get you kicked out of your apartment and put on the street.
So here’s the current state of America: Unemployment is still extremely high, largely because Trump and his allies first refused to take the coronavirus seriously, then pushed for an early reopening in a nation that met none of the conditions for resuming business as usual — and even now refuse to get firmly behind basic protective strategies like widespread mask requirements.
Despite this epic failure, the unemployed were kept afloat for months by federal aid, which helped avert both humanitarian and economic catastrophe. But now the aid has been cut off, with Trump and allies as unserious about the looming economic disaster as they were about the looming epidemiological disaster.
So everything suggests that even if the pandemic subsides — which is by no means guaranteed — we’re about to see a huge surge in national misery.
Oh, and stocks are up. Why, exactly, should we care?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently joined other prominent medical organizations in confronting its history of discrimination.
By Emma Goldberg, Aug. 20, 2020https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/20/health/pediatrics-medicine-racial-discrimination.html?surface=home-discovery-vi-prg&fellback=false&req_id=468489770&algo=identity&imp_id=975216690&action=click&module=Science%20%20Technology&pgtype=Homepage
The records had been sealed for decades, but last month, New York repealed a law keeping them secret after national protests against police brutality.
By Ashley Southall, Aug. 20, 2020https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/20/nyregion/nypd-ccrb-records-published.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage§ion=New%20York
Over 323,000 accusations of misconduct against current and former New York City police officers were published online on Thursday, a major milestone in a long and contentious political battle to open records of police discipline to public scrutiny.
The records include all civilian complaints filed since 1985 with the city’s independent police watchdog agency, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, and closed after an investigation.
Some 81,550 officers — from the rank-and-file to the current commissioner — were named in the complaints. Together they offer the public the broadest look to date at how officers are investigated and punished for a range of offenses, from using profanity and slurs to beating or choking people during arrests.
The complaints were published in an online database by the New York Civil Liberties Union, which obtained the records from the review board after state lawmakers repealed a law that had kept them secret.
The civil liberties union noted that less than 3 percent of the 323,911 complaints resulted in a penalty for officers, 12 of whom had been terminated. Christopher Dunn, the organization’s legal director, said in a statement that the records showed that the Police Department, whose commissioner makes the final decision on disciplinary matters, “is unwilling to police itself.”
“The release of this database is an important step towards greater transparency and accountability,” Mr. Dunn added, “and is just the beginning of unraveling the monopoly the N.Y.P.D. holds on public information and officer discipline.”
Al Baker, a police spokesman, said the department had refined the discipline system and implemented changes recommended by a panel of prosecutors and judges. “All of this advances the NYPD’s priority to make its internal disciplinary system as fair, effective, and transparent as it can,” he said.
Fred Davie, the chairman of the review board, said in a statement that the agency released the records in response to demands from the public for greater police accountability, which have been underscored by the nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.
“All New Yorkers have a right to transparency” under the state law granting access to public records, said Mr. Davie, who promised that his agency “will hold paramount the people’s right to know how their communities are policed.”
But that might become even more difficult for the review board, which is preparing to possibly lay off staff because of budget cuts brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The Independent Budget Office recently said the review board, which has a $20 million budget and 200-person staff, was too small to oversee the police department, which has a $6 billion budget and 36,000 officers.
The records released Thursday include all allegations of excessive force, abuse of authority, discourtesy and offensive language investigated by the review board though mid-July, as well as the board’s findings and any discipline that the police commissioner imposed. They do not include complaints under investigation by the review board or those investigated by the Police Department itself.
The complaints were shrouded in secrecy until June, when, as protests against police brutality spread across the country, the State Legislature in New York repealed a 44-year-old law that had been used to prevent their release to the public.
After a legal challenge from labor unions representing police officers, firefighters and corrections officers whose records were shielded by the law, a federal appeals court on Thursday ruled that the data could be released while the case continued in a lower court.
The unions vowed to continue fighting against what Hank Sheinkopf, a spokesman for the union coalition, said was “the improper dumping of thousands of documents containing unproven, career-damaging, unsubstantiated allegations that put our members and their families at risk.”
The publication of the records, policing experts said, chips away at a legal wall of confidentiality built up by police unions, which for decades have used their political clout to block efforts to publicly release complaints about officers and the punishment they receive.
Samuel Walker, a professor at the University of Nebraska Omaha who is a leading expert on police accountability, said the data would allow academic researchers and policymakers to identify patterns and problems.
“That provides the fodder for policy changes, and that is terribly important,” he said.
The topic of how and whether to disclose police disciplinary records has been contentious for decades. States like Delaware have laws keeping the records secret, while others like Florida and Arizona permit the release of some or all records, according to the Police Executive Research Forum, a policy and research nonprofit.
“Departments have come to recognize that’s part of what transparency looks like,” Chuck Wexler, the executive director, said.
The records became a lightning-rod issue when Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration fought against disclosing those of Daniel Pantaleo, a police officer who put Eric Garner in a banned chokehold on Staten Island in 2014 that proved fatal.
Officer Pantaleo was fired last year, but the law the city relied on to shield his records did not change until this past June, after the death of Mr. Floyd.
The records released Thursday add to a patchwork of data about police misconduct in New York City created by media and legal organizations.
ProPublica published data on nearly 4,000 officers who had at least one allegation of misconduct substantiated after an investigation, and BuzzFeed in 2018 published leaked records of 1,800 cases. The Legal Aid Society also maintains a database of federal lawsuits against officers.
Most people who have unpleasant encounters with the police do not file formal complaints. For many who have filed formal complaints that the review board substantiated, the publication of the records offers an opportunity to finally learn what punishment, if any, those officers received.
And for those who are facing criminal charges based on officers’ testimony, or who have filed lawsuits against the city accusing police of misconduct and abuse, the records make it easier to learn more about an officer’s history.
Richard Emery, a former chairman of the review board, said the data provided a treasure trove for researchers and policymakers.
But the release of the records also puts pressure on the Police Department to change how unsubstantiated claims affect officers’ careers, he said. Even if not proven true, misconduct complaints can have a negative effect on officers’ opportunities for transfers, promotions and more desirable assignments.
“It’s a very, very complicated, messy problem that has a lot of strings to it,” Mr. Emery said. “The release of these statistics and information can be something that’s useful and it can support reform, but it also can be something that undermines reform and puts the police in the position where they cannot and will not do their job.”
The police unions have argued in court that no information about misconduct cases should be released in which the police commissioner has not ended up handing down punishment. But the repeal of the secrecy law, known as 50-a, “made clear that disciplinary records can now be made available to the public,” James E. Johnson, the city’s corporation counsel said in a statement Thursday.
The unions’ argument would have prevented the release of the vast majority of the review board’s data. Only in 8,699 of the more than 300,000 cases did officers receive any disciplinary action, according to the civil liberties union. The penalties can range from a letter in their personnel file to suspension or firing, according to the review board.
Reasons for this vary, but the majority of civilian complaints end because investigators did not have enough evidence to determine what actually happened or found evidence to disprove the allegations, or the person filing the complaint withdrew from the investigation.
The Police Department often withholds some evidence, including body camera footage. The review board has said cases in which there is video are more likely to be substantiated.
Kate Levine, a criminal law professor at Yeshiva University, said the data should not be used to “name and shame” officers, but to understand how policing is in need of fundamental change.
"Let’s get rid of the worst people first,” she said, “but also let’s take those dollars and reinvest them in the many different ways that we can better the lives of marginalized communities.”
There’ve been so many storms — literal, cultural and political — since the hurricane hit New Orleans. But for the sake of all cities, we can’t forget it.
By Talmon Joseph Smith, Aug. 21, 2020https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/21/opinion/sunday/coronavirus-hurricane-katrina-anniversary.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
Wendell Pierce, star of "Treme."
Early in the evening on Aug. 25, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Florida. A modest Category 1 storm, with top winds of only about 90 miles per hour, it passed just north of Miami, then lumbered across the Everglades toward the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
That night a birthday cake, white with pineapple filling, sat inside a glass cake stand on the dining room table at a house on the east corner of Dreux Street and St. Roch Avenue in New Orleans. It was my older brother’s birthday.
Within 72 hours, the storm grew into a colossal Category 5, its eye headed straight for the city. My family fled, leaving almost everything behind.
On Aug. 29, at 6:10 a.m., Hurricane Katrina slammed into the mouth of the Mississippi River as the fourth-most intense hurricane ever to make landfall in mainland America. Upriver in New Orleans, poorly made federal levees — which bracket the drainage canals coursing through the city — began to break like discolored Lego pieces when buffeted by storm surge. And a great deluge began.
On Aug. 31, President George W. Bush, who had been vacationing in Texas when the hurricane hit New Orleans, took a flyover tour of the destruction in Air Force One, while four-fifths of the city was underwater, and tens of thousands were stranded on rooftops, marooned on patches of dry streets or trapped in shelters.
On Sept. 2, as many still awaited rescue, and the death toll of more than 1,800 was still being tallied, The Baltimore Sun reported that the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, “questioned the wisdom of spending billions to rebuild a city several feet below sea level.” It was a common sentiment at the time — also published in mainstream outlets like Slate and The Washington Post — that New Orleanians have never forgotten.
A month or so later, my family returned to our home on Dreux Street, with masks and gloves, to survey the damage, a mildewed mess: our furniture, works by local artists, the old piano, all ruined. A chair hung from the chandelier. Below it on the counter, looking soggy yet almost untouched, was the birthday cake, still tucked inside its glass dome.
At the time, many here feared that “we may not see this city ever again, or at least not in the form we recognize,” as Wendell Pierce, the New Orleans native who starred in the HBO series “Tremé” about post-Katrina turmoil in the city, reminded me years later.
Mr. Pierce recalled how in those early months and years, “Do You Know What It Means (to Miss New Orleans)” by Louis Armstrong hit differently — not as bittersweet, but a dirge.
To his relief and that of millions of others, much of the city recovered after the hurricane, in its own uneven way.
Yet now, the coronavirus has killed over 4,000 Louisianans, put New Orleans’s service-based economy into a coma, shown the rest of America what a Katrina-size failure feels like and revealed how the lessons from the storm’s aftermath, regarding crisis management and social inequality, remain unlearned.
It can be hard to clearly remember August 2005. There have been so many storms — literal, cultural and political — that have happened since. But we can’t forget the singularity of its disaster.
We can’t forget that the levees, properly built, easily “could have been sufficient” for the storm surge, as Stephen Nelson, a professor emeritus of earth and environmental science at Tulane University and author of the seminal paper “Myths of Katrina: Field Notes From a Geoscientist,” told me. But the Army Corps of Engineers failed to drive the steel pilings that hold levee panels together far enough into the earth, among other grave failures.
We can’t forget that, adjusted for inflation, the median Black household in the majority-Black city earned only about $30,000 in 2000, and that evacuating can cost thousands.
We can’t forget that despite commanding the greatest ground, air and naval forces in history, the U.S. government took roughly a week to put in place a thoroughly engaged rescue effort — leaving tens of thousands stuck without suitable shelter, food or water.
Precisely because the federal government was largely missing for days — while state and local officials were mired in petulant disarray — we can’t forget the heroic acts New Orleanians did for one another.
One of the first people I visited this month in New Orleans was Rudy Major, a man responsible for rescuing 125 or so people from floodwaters in my old neighborhood, Gentilly, according to his rough estimate. Mr. Major, a man full of jokes, is girded by a militarylike seriousness when ready to talk business.
He sat me down in his den and explained that he stayed as Hurricane Katrina approached because he was confident that his house, on a ridge, would not flood and because he was equally confident that the low-lying Ninth Ward, only a couple of miles away, would — and he wanted to help.
Soon after two nearby levees broke that Monday morning, Mr. Major hopped into his 30-foot boat with his son, Kyle, then 19. They made dozens of trips to fetch people in the surrounding area from their roofs and bring them back to his terrace, just safely above the waterline, “whether they looked white, Black, Creole, something else, whatever.”
They saw corpses float by. They hacked into an attic after hearing faint cries for help to discover a grieving woman with her two young daughters and their lifeless grandmother.
Such stories are just some of thousands of wrenching tales from the aftermath, created and compounded by government ineptitude. Mr. Major expressed a similar frustration with the government now, as the coronavirus strikes Louisiana with a particular severity.
“There are distinctions, but a lot of similarities,” he said. “You need a federal plan, a state plan, a local plan and they have to be connected.”
In 2005, the New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin; Gov. Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana; Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi; and the Bush White House stumbled over logistics and wrestled over funding as lives were in the balance. In 2020, the cast of battling characters is simply broader, as governors from California to Texas to New York clash with mayors, and the Trump administration undermines them all, while refusing to take the lead itself.
Depending on where and who you are, the result of this politicized crisis response is just as deadly. “I’ve lost 15 friends to Covid,” Mr. Major said.
Pre-Katrina, there was already a considerable shortage of affordable housing in New Orleans. The situation has only become worse, as many of the affordable units the city had were never rebuilt after the storm and the urban core became whiter and wealthier.
New Orleans now has roughly 33,000 fewer affordable housing units than it needs, according to HousingNOLA, a local research and advocacy group. There are opportunities in every corner of the city to fix this, explained Andreanecia Morris, the executive director of HousingNOLA, when we met in her office in Mid-City on South Carrollton Avenue.
Most New Orleanians are renters. Pre-Katrina, the market rate for a one-bedroom apartment was around $578 monthly. It has roughly doubled since then, meaning a full-time worker must now earn about $18 per hour to afford a one-bedroom apartment.
Real wages, however, have stalled, and many of the places that employ New Orleanians remain closed. Tens of thousands of workers in the city’s beloved music, drinks, food and tourism businesses — who were the most likely to lose their livelihoods both after the storm and now during the pandemic — make a minimum wage of $7.25.
In some other cities, Ms. Morris explained, unaffordable rent “is the result of a housing stock shortage, but in New Orleans we have a vacancy rate of about 20 percent!” There are about 37,700 vacant units in the city.
Residents like Terence Blanchard, the Grammy Award-winning trumpeter, who resides in a thriving midcentury neighborhood along Bayou St. John, live this dichotomy. “People talk about the recovery,” he told me as we stood on his dock overlooking the water and City Park. “But if you go to my mom’s house in Pontchartrain Park, there was no real recovery.”
The federal housing vouchers mostly known by the shorthand “Section 8” — which subsidize rent payments above 30 percent of participants’ income — fully cover “fair market rate rent,” which in New Orleans is calculated as $1,034 to $1,496 for a one-bedroom apartment. That means even in increasingly upscale, higher-ground areas of town there is little stopping developers and landlords with vacant properties from lowering rents by a few hundred dollars and still being able to generate revenue.
For Ms. Morris, the continued holdout by many landlords that want “a certain kind of family,” or Airbnb customers, has grown to “psychotic” levels of classism and racism. “At a certain point,” she said, “the math has to let you at least manage your prejudices.”
I met Malik Bartholomew, a young local historian and born-and-raised New Orleanian, at the last Black bookstore in town, the Community Book Center, based in the Seventh Ward on Bayou Road. A cultural hub that was on the verge of closing because of the coronavirus, it’s been rescued for now by what the owner — known to her clientele as Miss Vera — views as a surge in white guilt after the death of George Floyd.
“Books started flying off the shelves,” Miss Vera said, her ambivalence visible despite the mask on her face.
Shortly after, Mr. Bartholomew gave me a history tour of the Faubourg Tremé, the iconic old neighborhood where I briefly worked as a teenager in 2013. Already gentrifying then, it’s become even fancier since.
As an eighth-generation New Orleanian, I wanted to be a good native and scoff at it all. But I found myself almost viscerally charmed by the carefully redone homes and the cafes frequented by young white people alongside the scene of a retired Black gentleman enjoying his shaded porch.
Couldn’t there be, I asked, a world in which some of the well-off people who come to visit and decide to stay then respect the culture, integrate into it, increase the tax base and help uplift others?
Mr. Bartholomew explained — in between waving to residents he knew — that my integrationist daydream puts too much faith in “the Part 2,” in which wealth and power would be shared. “I’ve never seen that happen,” he said. “People just make money off our culture.”
As Mr. Bartholomew and other community organizers see it, “the wealthy interests are more powerful than ever.”
The mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell, said she largely agreed.
Ms. Cantrell, both the first woman and the first Black woman to lead the city, is from Broadmoor, one of the seven lower-lying neighborhoods that a panel appointed by the mayor’s office after Hurricane Katrina planned to transform into parks and wetlands.
She rose in local politics as a leading opponent of that failed plan and won the mayoralty on a platform of creating a New Orleans “for all New Orleanians.” But she confessed as we spoke in her sunlit yellow and blue City Hall office that, even before the coronavirus, every day felt like pushing a boulder uphill.
“All the time,” she told me, stretching out each syllable. “But if you don’t push, you’re not going to move. The systems that have been created, particularly in this city, are so that we’re doing all the pushing around here — and have been.”
Those systems are many and layered. There are regional business elites and the Federal Reserve — which has once again declined to be as generous to indebted municipalities as it’s been to the corporate markets it has saved. A hostile and controlling conservative state government blocks or vetoes many policies City Hall desires and starves the city of funds, even though much of the tax revenue generated in New Orleans goes to state coffers. As a result, Ms. Cantrell complained, she has no ability to make reforms like raising the minimum wage, and little room to redirect taxes or revenue.
So far, she has had more success with infrastructure projects, including a deal to divert some tax dollars from the tourism industry into initiatives that include a focus on sustainability. Instead of abandoning low-lying neighborhoods, the city is seeking to re-engineer their open spaces — like unused lots and wide avenues — into a network of water gardens, mini wetlands and drainage canals that feel more like babbling creeks. These “blue and green corridors” are meant to reduce flooding and reverse subsidence, the sinking of land, which has been increasing.
This reworked cityscape will be immensely beneficial to New Orleans’s viability if completed. But in the face of climate change — rising seas and disappearing wetlands to the south — Ms. Cantrell acknowledged it won’t be enough over the next 15 years.
There’s only so much, she said, that a mayor with a municipal budget can do — for wages, infrastructure, housing, education, economic mobility and more. And that’s true anywhere.
For all of New Orleans’s cultural uniqueness, for all of its ability to be a multicultural mecca in fleeting, festival moments, its struggles and needs are practically the same as every other urban area. Nearly everywhere, the city — this central, vital organ of modern society — is yet to be fairly figured out, with citizens living in just and environmentally stable harmony.
For such a city to be achieved, rich people of all colors will need to stop hoarding resources and live next to working people, schoolteachers may have to be paid like professors, living wages may need to be subsidized and epic adaptations will have to be made for climate change.
The scale of this need can be met only by the vast fiscal and monetary powers of the federal government. The alternative is for coastal areas around New Orleans, Miami, New York and Charleston, S.C., to become ever more unequal in the coming decades, sinking under the weight of their contradictions, then succumbing to nature and being overrun by the sea.
A day or so before I left town, I sat with Dr. Nelson, the Tulane geologist, in his backyard, and he told me he was skeptical of society’s ability to control coastal erosion in time. “For humans, if the return on investment isn’t immediate, you don’t do it,” he said. “But the Earth doesn’t work that way.”
For America to make an adequate pivot to environmentalism and egalitarianism may require a miracle unseen in lifetimes.
Still, as I took off from Louis Armstrong Airport, I noticed how within seconds we were soaring over the wetland created by the Mississippi River, much of it less than 1,000 years old, but now teeming with humans busying about, visible from a vehicle thousands of feet on high — a larger, more implausible-seeming miracle.
It reminded me of one of the last things Dr. Nelson told me, eyes smiling above his mask: “You can’t ignore what’s underneath you. Because you’re building everything on top of it.”
The virus doesn’t sicken kids as much as adults. But it can still destroy their futures. A child allowance would help.
"Depending on the yardstick used, child poverty in the United States is 65 percent to 90 percent greater than the average in its four main English-speaking peers (Australia, Britain, Canada and Ireland). Among them, America’s public spending on children, as a share of its economy, consistently ranks last."
By Jason DeParle, Aug. 22, 2020https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/22/sunday-review/coronavirus-poverty-child-allowance.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
Three decades ago, a team of researchers at Duke University set off to follow a group of schoolchildren in a stretch of rural North Carolina that happened to include a small reservation. Soon after, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians opened a casino and began sharing the profits, about $4,000 per adult each year, with every household in the tribe — essentially creating a local version of guaranteed income.
What followed should interest anyone concerned about America’s high levels of child poverty or worried how poor children will fare amid the worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression.
The Cherokee children did better than their unsubsidized counterparts — much better, the researchers found. They completed more schooling. They committed fewer crimes. They had fewer problems with anxiety, depression and substance abuse. The poorest children benefited most. Researchers are still following the kids, who are now in middle age.
The Great Smoky Mountains Study is part of a trove of evidence that has reshaped expert views of child poverty, and it is ripe with lessons today, when the number of needy children is soaring.
As conveyed last year in a landmark report by the National Academies of Science Engineering and Medicine, a growing scholarly consensus can be expressed in two parts. One is that even brief stays in poverty can cause children lifelong harm, especially when the children are young. The other is that money helps — subsidizing the incomes of poor families leads their children on average to better health, more schooling and higher earnings as adults.
That may sound obvious, but the idea that giving poor parents money (or as skeptics would say, “welfare”) improves their children’s chances has been vigorously contested and until recently difficult to prove.
While the coronavirus was initially said to spare the young, that no longer appears to be true medically, and economically it never was — certainly not for the 10 million children below the poverty line and even larger numbers just above it. With hunger rising, classrooms closing and parental stress surging, the pandemic is a threat to low-income children of epochal proportions, one that could leave an entire generation bearing its scars.
Most rich countries do more to protect kids. At least 17 offer child allowances, income supplements to families with children, generally paid to both the poor and middle class in recognition that society has an interest in seeing children thrive. A few years ago, Canada increased its maximum payment to about $4,800 per child per year (in American dollars), and quickly reduced child poverty by a third. Britain has been paying child allowances since the end of World War II.
Until recently, there seemed little chance the United States would do the same, given its high tolerance for child poverty and distrust of income guarantees. Child poverty ranks curiously low even on lists of progressive concerns. It hasn’t been an issue in the year’s outcries over racial injustice. Children don’t lobby, contribute, protest or vote. No vanguards unfurl banners to proclaim that “Young Lives Matter.” Child poverty drew little attention in the Democratic primaries. Joe Biden’s website pledges economic justice but hardly mentions poor kids.
Still, the movement to create a child allowance was quietly advancing in the wonkier precincts of the Democratic Party even before the pandemic, and it has gained ground amid a crisis that has deepened needs and expanded the country’s notions about what the government can spend.
Though few people have noticed, a majority of Democrats in both chambers of Congress have endorsed a child allowance, and a temporary version recently passed the House as part of the Heroes Act, a giant package of coronavirus relief. Analysts estimated that the allowance would cut child poverty by 42 percent, based on pre-pandemic data — among Black kids by more than half.
Mr. Biden hasn’t expressed a view. But if a blue wave prevails in November, it’s possible to imagine a Democratic Congress giving him the chance to start his presidency by lifting four million children out of poverty with a stroke of his pen.
America’s high level of child poverty is old, but the empirical case for reducing it is new. Advances in brain science have shown how much of a child’s life course is set in the first few years. Economists have found that even limited periods of poverty can have lasting effects — less schooling, lower adult earnings and worse adult health.
Historically, the United States could look past its unusual child poverty and boast of its unusual mobility. Poverty is more readily excused when seen as a stage, not a fate. But most researchers now think the American advantage in class fluidity has faded, if it ever truly existed. What remains exceptional is the poverty itself, not the odds of escaping it.
One lesson of recent years is that progress is possible: With low unemployment and the expansion of programs like the earned-income tax credit, child poverty before the pandemic had fallen to an American low, 13.7 percent. But that was still notably high by the standards of wealthy nations.
Depending on the yardstick used, child poverty in the United States is 65 percent to 90 percent greater than the average in its four main English-speaking peers (Australia, Britain, Canada and Ireland). Among them, America’s public spending on children, as a share of its economy, consistently ranks last.
Money helps children in part because of what it buys — food, housing, better schools, health care and summer camps. But it also important in a less obvious way: It reduces stress, which can reach toxic levels in poor households. The academies’ report warns that children chronically exposed to excessive stress can suffer “permanent changes in brain structure and function,” leading to problems from learning disabilities to heart disease and diabetes. Some scientists have found that toxic stress can even alter children’s chromosomes.
If poverty was that harsh before the pandemic, imagine what is doing to children now, amid mass unemployment, closed schools and fears of a deadly pandemic.
This crisis targets the needy. Unemployment rates have grown by 4.8 percentage points for college graduates, but 9.7 points for workers without a high school degree. Perhaps no one is suffering more than undocumented immigrants, who are ineligible for government aid and whose households include more than four million American children.
There is no age group for whom the pandemic does not pose a threat. Toxic stress has been shown to harm infants still in the womb. School closures will confine rich and poor kids to homes even more unequal than their classrooms, at the risk of widening the achievement gap. (Sean F. Reardon, a Stanford sociologist, has found poor eighth graders have the math and reading skills of rich kids in fourth grade.) It’s hard to measure child hunger amid a pandemic, but four different surveys show sharp increases, and food banks have seen astounding lines.
“The kids are not all right — every aspect of their lives is being affected,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus on Children, a Washington advocacy group.
At special risk of long-term harm are young people joining the work force, for whom the earnings penalties are large and lasting. Till von Wachter, an economist at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that a five-point rise in unemployment rates (an increase smaller than today’s) costs disadvantaged workers about a quarter of their first few years’ pay, because they work less and receive lower wages. For workers without a high school degree, it takes more than a decade for their earnings to fully recover, with the total losses over that time equal to a full year’s pay.
The impact goes beyond earnings. Mr. von Wachter (with Hannes Schwandt of Northwestern) found that workers who started out in the deep recession of 1982 had lower marriage rates, more divorce and higher rates of mortality, in part because of heart and liver disease. He estimates that the timing of their labor market entry will shorten their average lives by six to nine months.
“These people lead more stressful lives — they work harder and switch jobs more often,” he said. “Being poor is a very stressful and unhealthy state.”
It’s clear that poor kids on average fare worse than others but, as researchers are quick to warn, correlation is not causation. The question is whether poverty itself harms kids or whether other issues that harm kids also cause poverty. Do poor children do worse in school because they lack money — or because their parents on average have less education, which leaves them less able to help?
If money is the problem, subsidies could be the solution. If not, the money may do little good. In some cases (if, say, a parent has a drug problem) it might even hurt.
In 2015, Congress put the question to the National Academies, a private group (chartered under Abraham Lincoln) that convenes ad hoc panels of scholars to give the government scientific advice. Its pronouncements are arrived at by consensus, and meant to offer cautious, authoritative views. Fifteen scholars pondered the question and concluded last year, “Poverty itself causes negative child outcomes.”
How do they know?
The evidence comes in part from natural experiments — events that randomly subsidize one group of poor families but not others — like the opening of the Cherokee casino. Randall K.Q. Akee, an economist at U.C.L.A., has published four studies of the tribal subsidies and found they improved everything from the children’s education to their propensity as adults to vote. “When you remedy child poverty, children become more productive members of society across multiple dimensions,” he said.
Another natural experiment compared low-birthweight babies who qualified for disability payments with those just above the eligibility threshold. The babies who received the Supplemental Security Income payments during their first nine months developed motor skills more rapidly than those who did not — a result especially notable since the heavier, slightly healthier babies should have had the edge. (The payments now average about $640 a month.)
Other important evidence comes from the rollout of the food stamp program, which was introduced a county at a time from 1962 to 1975. The local differences allowed three researchers (Hilary Hoynes, Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach and Douglas Almond) to compare kids who grew up with access to the program and those who did not.
The differences were large. Children in counties with a food stamp program finished high school at a rate 18 percentage points higher than those raised in places without one. Children in food stamps counties also earned more as adults, enjoyed better health, and were less likely to be poor or receive public aid.
“Some people fear that if you give people benefits you create a culture of poverty,” said Ms. Schanzenbach, an economist at Northwestern. “This shows the opposite is true — if you invest in poor kids, they’re less likely to need benefits as adults.”
Congress asked the academies what it would take to cut child poverty in half. The panel considered the expansion of 10 programs, including job training, housing aid, child care, food stamps and the earned-income tax credit.
None reduced child poverty nearly as much as creating a child allowance. An annual payment of $3,000 per child would lift at least 38 times as many children out of poverty than an increased ($10.25 an hour) minimum wage. Advocates would pay it monthly, to temper damaging income swings like those hitting families today.
“If I had to pick one policy, I would put my bet on a child allowance,” said Greg J. Duncan, an economist at the University of California, Irvine, who led the academies’ study group.
One argument against a child allowance is cost. At about $100 billion a year, such a program is expensive, but less than half as expensive as Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cuts, which mostly benefit the wealthy. In the context of Covid-19 spending measured in the trillions, the costs seem less forbidding.
The other objection is that offering parents a cash subsidy would discourage some from working, a standard anti-welfare concern. But the classic way welfare discourages work is by reducing benefits as earnings grow — in essence, taxing the effort to get ahead. A child allowance, by contrast, would give families the full amount until they were solidly middle class. Every dollar earned would be a dollar gained.
The academies estimated that a child allowance would reduce earnings by just under two-thirds of 1 percent. Public policy involves trade-offs. Maintaining 99.4 percent of the work effort while cutting child poverty more than 40 percent is a trade-off supporters should be able to sell.
Actually, the United States already has a child allowance of sorts — it just happens to be one that largely omits the families that need it the most. A provision of the tax code called the child tax credit offers up to $2,000 per child a year, but only for households with sufficient earnings.
A single mother with two children has to earn more than $30,000 to fully qualify. More than a third of children fail to get the full benefit, including half of Blacks and Latinos and nearly 70 percent of those raised by single mothers. Families with earnings up to $400,000 get the full sum.
In a season of reckonings over social injustice, a plan to shrink child poverty would seem well timed. Think of it as reparations for the accident of being born poor. The child allowance recently passed by the House combines universalist appeal (families with earnings up to $180,000 would be eligible) with outsize help for the disadvantaged. According to Sophie Collyer of Columbia, of the four million children it would lift from poverty, 70 percent would be Black or Latino.
But few people noticed the advance of a plan whose natural habitat is the seminar room, not the streets or the campaign rally. To grasp how the little the Democratic candidates said about child poverty, recall how much they said about “Medicare for all.” (Andrew Yang’s call for a guaranteed income of $12,000 a year per adult is a partial exception, though vastly more expensive and aimed at a different problem, technological change.) When the candidates were asked about child poverty in February, the Children’s Defense Fund called it the first presidential debate question on the issue in two decades.
Their responses were not of the sort that suggested great forethought. Bernie Sanders blamed “the 1 percent.” Pete Buttigieg called for “a different kind of politics.” Joe Biden said that he had been known as the poorest man in Congress. Amy Klobuchar alone mentioned the academies’ report, but glossed over its major recommendation — a child allowance — to tell a story about Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the importance of empathy.
The candidate who had made child poverty his focus was Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado — no one’s idea of a radical. (As the head of Denver’s public schools, he’d seen the many ways, from hunger to unstable housing, that poverty held children back.) But he hadn’t gotten enough support to make it onto the stage.
Perhaps the policy’s low profile has helped shield it from attack. Mr. Bennet is a co-author of two child allowance plans (of differing amounts) and Senator Kamala Harris, the vice-presidential nominee, has co-sponsored both. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, a paradigmatic liberal, is among the Capitol’s main enthusiast but there are pockets of conservative support, too.
Libertarians like policies that let parents spend money as they wish, rather than constricting their choices. Traditionalists like the idea that a child allowance benefits non-working mothers, unlike subsidies for child care. Sixteen conservative intellectuals, including J.D. Vance, Robert George and Yuval Levin, recently called for a one-year child allowance as part of coronavirus relief.
Mr. Biden’s view remains a mystery — repeated queries to his campaign this week went unanswered. But he pledges to take the country beyond recovery to reinvention. (“Build back better,” he likes to say.) One place to start is by reinventing a country without so many poor kids.
The man was hospitalized in serious condition, the authorities said, and Kenosha declared an overnight curfew as protests grew around the city.
By Azi Paybarah and Marie Fazio, Aug. 24, 2020https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/23/us/kenosha-police-shooting.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage
The Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating the police shooting on Sunday of a Black man in Kenosha, Wis., as he opened the door of a parked vehicle on a residential street, officials said.
The man was identified as Jacob Blake by Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin. He was in “serious condition” at a Milwaukee hospital, according to a statement from the state Department of Justice early Monday morning.
As night fell, large crowds of demonstrators faced off against police officers, videos on social media showed. In one video, several empty trucks are seen on fire. Around midnight, the city of Kenosha issued a curfew until 7 a.m., and the county said Monday the courthouse would be closed because of “damage sustained during last night’s civil unrest.”
Mr. Evers said on Twitter on Sunday night that Mr. Blake had been “shot in the back multiple times” and that the governor stood “against excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging with Black Wisconsinites.”
The state Department of Justice said that its Division of Criminal Investigation was leading the investigation into the shooting. The officers involved were placed on administrative leave, its statement said.
It also said that the division “aims to provide a report of the incident to the prosecutor within 30 days” to determine whether to file any charges.
The episode began just after 5 p.m. in Kenosha, about 40 miles south of Milwaukee, when police officers “responded to a reported domestic incident,” according to the statement.
A video taken by a bystander and posted on social media appears to show what took place moments before the shooting.
In the video, several officers can be seen standing on a sidewalk next to a four-door S.U.V. The man identified as Mr. Blake, wearing a white tank top and black shorts, walks along the passenger side of the vehicle, away from the officers as they yell and as at least one of them points a gun at him.
Mr. Blake walks around the front of the vehicle and opens the driver-side door. Numerous people can be heard yelling, and one officer grabs the man’s shirt. As he opens the door, at least half a dozen shots can be heard while at least two officers can be seen with their guns pointed at him. The video, which is about 20 seconds long, ends shortly after the shooting.
A phone message left for the department spokesman, Lt. Joseph Nosalik, seeking further information about the shooting was not immediately returned. A message sent online to the person who posted the video on social media was also not immediately returned.
The shooting came after weeks of protests against racism and police violence across the country, prompted by the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis in May. The arrest of Mr. Floyd was captured by police body cameras and bystander cellphone video.
Governor Evers on Sunday also denounced police violence against Black people. “While we do not have all of the details yet, what we know for certain is that he is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country,” he said on Twitter.
“Although we must offer our empathy, equally important is our action,” he added. “In the coming days, we will demand just that of elected officials in our state who have failed to recognize the racism in our state and our country for far too long.”
Julián Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio who sought the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, tweeted video of the shooting and wrote, “We’re no other non-lethal methods considered, @KenoshaPolice?”
Anthony Kennedy, the alderman for the district who lives two blocks away from the shooting, said in an interview that he had concerns about what some people who were marching through the area might do. “At this point in time I’m just trying to keep my neighborhood safe,” he said.
Mr. Kennedy said he spoke to people for two hours near the scene of the shooting, encouraging them to trust the investigation, which will not be done by the local police department.
“I understand why people are hurt,” he said. “Why they are frustrated, but justice can’t be street justice. The process has to work out.”
Mr. Kennedy said he had seen the video but declined to say whether he thought the shooting appeared justified.
Michael Bell Sr., who has advocated police reform in Kenosha since his son was fatally shot by a police officer in 2004, said someone had sent him the video of the shooting. “I’m going to withhold my judgment until we see all the facts in this case but it looks pretty bad,” he said.
Mr. Bell said his eyes were drawn to a woman who is shown in the video jumping up and down next to the car as Mr. Blake is shot. He noted the similarity of the encounter to his own son’s killing, which was witnessed by his son’s mother and sister but not recorded.
Mr. Bell led efforts in 2014 to pass a law that requires police-involved shootings to be investigated by outside agencies.
“The system is broken,” he said. “The system here is broken.”
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that there had been numerous police-involved deaths in southeast Wisconsin, including at least 18 in the past 20 years. Few of the encounters resulted in criminal charges for the officers involved.
In 2016, the Wisconsin National Guard was called in to quell several days of demonstrations that turned violent in Milwaukee after police officers fatally shot Sylville K. Smith, 23, when he fled on foot after a traffic stop. The year before, large demonstrations swept across Madison after a police officer there shot and killed Anthony Robinson Jr., a 19-year-old Black man who was unarmed, during a scuffle inside his apartment.
The officer “did not meet our core values” in the way he acted, the police department in Gwinnett County, Ga., said.
By Christina Morales, Aug. 23, 2020https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/23/us/georgia-police-officer-fired-tiktok.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage
In a video from TikTok, Officer Michael Oxford, left, is seen after using a Taser on Kyndesia Smith, and then struggling to handcuff her after she fell into some bushes. Credit...jaythegoat3476, via TikTok
A police officer in Georgia was fired as of Friday after videos on TikTok that drew millions of views showed him using a Taser in the arrest of a Black woman, the authorities said.
The Police Department in Gwinnett County, which is about 20 miles northeast of Atlanta, said it had begun its investigation into the officer, Michael Oxford, before the video spread widely on TikTok.
Investigators examined whether Officer Oxford, who is white, used de-escalation techniques and whether he violated departmental policy on Aug. 18 when he arrested the woman, Kyndesia Smith.
“One of our core values is courtesy,” the department said in a statement. “We strive to conduct ourselves in a manner that promotes mutual respect with the community and our peers. The investigation in this case has shown that Officer Oxford violated our policy and did not meet our core values.”
It was the latest in a series of episodes that have reverberated across the country as racial unrest continues to brew after the death of George Floyd in May.
Efforts to reach Mr. Oxford and Ms. Smith were not successful on Sunday evening.
The episode in Gwinnett began after the police said they received a “property damage call.” When Officer Oxford arrived, he said he was told that a bottle had been thrown at a car, according to a police report.
What happened was caught on surveillance video, and he was directed to a house where someone had been seen on the video picking up the bottle before the police arrived, the report said.
When Officer Oxford got to the house, he saw a woman who matched the description of the person in the surveillance footage who picked up the bottle before the police arrived, he wrote. He attempted to speak to her but could not because Ms. Smith and others were yelling at him, the report said.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Ms. Smith tells the officer in one of several videos posted on TikTok.
Mr. Oxford told her she could go to jail for obstructing his investigation. In one of the videos, Ms. Smith responded: “It doesn’t matter. You’re on our property. We did not call you. I’m not going anywhere.”
The videos do not show what happened immediately leading up to Ms. Smith’s arrest, and it was not clear who had recorded them.
The officer told Ms. Smith she was under arrest, pulled at her and used a Taser as she fought being handcuffed. Ms. Smith fell to the ground onto a patch of bushes near the porch where she had been standing, the report said.
In a second video, Ms. Smith could be heard saying, “Call the police, Momma.” Officer Oxford, standing over her, attempts to handcuff one of her wrists.
“Don’t touch me,” Ms. Smith says. She waves her arm away from Officer Oxford, who continues his effort to handcuff her. Onlookers are heard yelling for him to stop.
“You’re on her neck,” a person off camera says. “Do you not understand what you’re doing?” Officer Oxford tells Ms. Smith to stop resisting.
In a third video, Ms. Smith is sitting upright and struggling with Officer Oxford who says “Give me your hands” several times.
Toward the end of a video, another white officer arrives and helps to handcuff Ms. Smith.
Although Officer Oxford was fired, the department did say there was probable cause to arrest Ms. Smith for obstruction of a law enforcement officer and that his use of force was within the department’s policy.
Ms. Smith was taken to the Gwinnett County Jail, where she was released early Wednesday morning. The status of the charges against her and whether she had a lawyer were unclear on Sunday.
Azi Paybarah contributed reporting.
Officer Jeffrey Nelson of the Auburn Police Department was charged under a new state law that makes it easier to hold the police accountable for the unjustified use of deadly force, prosecutors said.
By Michael Levenson, Aug. 20, 2020https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/20/us/jeffrey-nelson-auburn-washington-police-murder-charge.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article
A police officer in a Seattle suburb was charged on Thursday with murdering a man outside a grocery store under a new state law that makes it easier to hold the police accountable for the unjustified use of deadly force.
The officer, Jeffrey Nelson, was the first police officer to be charged by prosecutors in King County, Wash., under the law, which was approved in 2018 by Washington State voters, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said that Officer Nelson, 41, had shot and killed Jesse Sarey, 26, while trying to arrest him on a disorderly-conduct charge outside Sunshine Grocery in Auburn, Wash., on May 31, 2019. The entire encounter lasted 67 seconds and was captured on nearby surveillance video, prosecutors said.
Officer Nelson “needlessly provoked the circumstances that led to Mr. Sarey’s death,” by failing to de-escalate the situation, not waiting for backup, laying his hands on Mr. Nelson after 38 seconds and then fatally shooting him 29 second later, prosecutors said.
Alan Harvey, a lawyer for Officer Nelson, said his client had acted in self-defense after Mr. Sarey grabbed for his gun. “When we have the opportunity to get in front of a jury, they will do the right thing and find that my client did not commit any crimes,” Mr. Harvey said.
The charges came amid heightened scrutiny of police violence after the killing in May of George Floyd in the custody of the Minneapolis police.
In Mississippi this month, three police officers were indicted on second-degree murder charges and accused of killing a Black man last year by body-slamming him to the ground and then beating him, prosecutors said. Last month, two Oklahoma police officers were charged with second-degree murder after they used Tasers more than 50 times on a man who later died, according to court records.
Prosecutors did not indicate that race had played a role in the shooting of Mr. Sarey, who was Asian, by Officer Nelson, who is white.
Dan Satterberg, the King County prosecuting attorney, said that before the shooting, Officer Nelson had asked Mr. Sarey, who was clearly under the influence of drugs, to leave a Walgreens. Mr. Sarey left but jaywalked across the street to Sunshine Grocery, where Officer Nelson decided to arrest him, Mr. Satterberg said.
Officer Nelson called for backup but did not wait for more officers to arrive before confronting Mr. Sarey, prosecutors said. According to the first 38 seconds of video footage of the encounter, prosecutors said, Officer Nelson left his patrol car and told Mr. Sarey that he was under arrest.
Over the next six seconds, Officer Nelson intensified his efforts to arrest Mr. Nelson by trying to physically subdue him, prosecutors said. Officer Nelson then punched Mr. Sarey seven times in the head and upper body, Mr. Satterberg said.
After a witness leaned down to pick up Officer Nelson’s closed folding knife, which had fallen to the ground, Officer Nelson was seen pushing Mr. Sarey against a freezer box while drawing his gun, prosecutors said.
Officer Nelson then fired one shot into Mr. Sarey’s torso, cleared a round that had jammed in his gun, and fired another shot into Mr. Sarey’s forehead 3.4 seconds later, prosecutors said. At that point, Mr. Sarey had fallen backward and was on his behind, prosecutors said.
Just over two minutes later, other Auburn officers arrived. One of them gave Mr. Sarey medical attention until paramedics arrived, prosecutors said in court documents.
Mr. Sarey was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he died in the operating room, prosecutors said. A toxicology report found that Mr. Sarey’s blood had tested positive for methamphetamine, according to court documents.
Mr. Satterberg said the decision to charge Officer Nelson with second-degree murder and first-degree assault reflected changes brought by Initiative 940, which was overwhelmingly approved by Washington State voters in 2018 and began to take effect in cases beginning last year. The initiative redefined when deadly force would be justified, making it clear that there should be an increased role for juries to decide whether such force constitutes a crime, Mr. Satterberg said.
For cases that happened before 2019, state law required prosecutors to show that an officer had acted with “malice” and a lack of good faith, he said. That was essentially an impossible standard to meet, he said. Initiative 940 created a new legal standard centered on what a “reasonable officer” would do in similar circumstances, Mr. Satterberg said.
“We know there will be questions about how older cases could have been handled differently, or if this means all police shootings going forward will lead to criminal charges,” Mr. Satterberg said in a statement. “The answer is we look at each case individually, and follow the law as it’s written at the time.”
Officer Nelson, who has been a member of the Auburn Police Department for more than 11 years, will appear in court next week and will be placed on paid administrative leave while his case is pending, Mr. Harvey said. Prosecutors said they did not plan to ask for bail but would ask that Officer Nelson not have access to firearms.
Officer Nelson has used deadly force in two previous cases, Mr. Harvey said, but prosecutors said that the officer’s record had not factored into their decision to charge him with murdering Mr. Sarey, which was based solely on the evidence.
Mr. Harvey said that he had “grave concerns” about the decision to charge Officer Nelson, who he said had been engaged in the sort of “one-on-one contact that officers do every day.” He said that Mr. Sarey had grabbed for Officer Nelson’s gun after the officer had given him verbal commands. He said the two had then fought as Officer Nelson sought to make a lawful arrest.
Joseph Rome, a lawyer for Mr. Sarey’s family, said the past year had been “exceptionally challenging” for the family.
“They are very pleased that Officer Nelson is ultimately going to be brought to justice,” Mr. Rome said in an email. “However, they realize these charges will not bring their beloved Jesse back or fill the void in their hearts. The Sarey family is resilient and united in achieving justice for Jesse and others like him.”
The Auburn Police Department said in a statement that “the loss of life is tragic, and we extend our sympathy to the Sarey family and the community.”
“We, the City of Auburn, acknowledge that this is an important time to do internal work and reflection coupled with community engagement,” the department said.
In 1945, thousands were released from internment camps. But they couldn’t return to the world they had left.
By Bradford Pearson, Aug. 20, 2020https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/20/magazine/japanese-internment-end-wwii-trailer-parks.html?action=click&module=Editors%20Picks&pgtype=Homepage
In the latest article from “Beyond the World War II We Know,” a series by The Times that documents lesser-known stories from World War II, we look back at how Japanese-Americans who had been interned during the war fared after the Japanese surrender.
On the second weekend of May 1946, more than 500 Japanese-Americans arrived at a dusty, ripped-up corner of Los Angeles County adjacent to a Lockheed Corporation bomber factory. Their bags were unloaded and piled next to bulldozers still planing the dirt outside their new homes, a cobbled-together assortment of used federal housing trailers in glistening silver and bland shades of green.
As the children — who made up nearly two-thirds of the new tenants — played, their parents and grandparents inspected the homes of the new Winona trailer camp. Fewer than a fifth of the trailers had working stoves, and those that did were in such disrepair that four fires ignited in one day. Broken windows and unlockable doors were common. The only phone was protected by a guard whose stated duty was to secure only the property of the site’s contractors, not its residents. There was no food, electricity or heat. Toilets were housed in a communal building, and not connected to the sewer.
“The trailers were so filthy that an animal should not have been expected to live in them,” said Seldon Martin, a Social Security Board official responsible for overseeing the well-being of the occupants, after visiting the camp. “Undoubtedly it was worse than any housing the Japanese had to put up with during evacuation.”
A year earlier, those same people had sat in internment camps across the American West. As they searched for their bags in the trailer camp a year later, county officials scrambled around them to arrange meals from a nearby tuberculosis sanitarium. Similar situations played out up and down the West Coast, as tens of thousands of Japanese-Americans returned after more than three years of incarceration. But they weren’t returning to the world they left.
After President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 paved the way for their removal, Japanese-Americans sold their homes, farms and businesses, often for pennies on the dollar. While incarcerated they worked menial jobs for $12 or $16 or $19 a month — hardly enough to survive on, let alone save for a new beginning. Unable to return to their farms — restrictive covenants and alien land laws often banned Japanese-Americans and their Japanese parents — many who worked on or owned strawberry or lettuce fields before the war moved to Los Angeles and became gardeners, trying to settle into an urban life for the first time in their lives.
Los Angeles, which was home to the largest ethnically Japanese community in North America before the war, was changing, too. The War Relocation Authority, the federal agency tasked with operating the 10 internment camps, worked to empty those camps as quickly as possible following Roosevelt’s closure order in December 1944. The W.R.A. shuttered almost all the camps in the fall of 1945. (One camp, Tule Lake, remained open until March 1946 to house “disloyal” incarcerees.) Each internee received $25 and a train ticket to wherever they wanted to go.
Housing was strained to the seams across the United States, but the situation in Los Angeles, described by one official in October 1945 as “full of dynamite,” was especially dire. More than 1.3 million people — roughly one out of every 100 Americans — moved to California between 1940 and 1944. The California State Reconstruction and Reemployment Commission estimated that 625,000 new homes would need to be built to accommodate the growth in the five years following the war, including 280,000 in Los Angeles County alone. During the war, Little Tokyo first became a ghost town, then swelled with Southern Black workers arriving for defense jobs; for three years Little Tokyo was known as Bronzeville. It was into this chaos that the W.R.A. planned to unload 1,200 incarcerees each week that fall.
By the end of 1945, a month after closing nine of the 10 W.R.A. camps, thousands of Japanese-Americans returned to the West Coast with nowhere to live. Those who couldn’t find other housing took rooms in $1-a-night hostels carved out of prewar hotels and Buddhist temples, or trailers and repurposed Army barracks.
Communities with as many as 1,000 residents filled mazes of barracks and trailers in El Segundo, Hawthorne, Burbank, Inglewood and Santa Monica. Even Lomita Flight Strip, an airfield used to house and train squadrons of P-38 fighter pilots 17 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, was converted into housing. To get into Los Angeles to find work required 85 cents each way, and a four-hour round-trip by bus. Charlotte Brooks, a historian, described the camps as “isolated ghettos that perpetuated the hardships of incarceration.”
The environment that had forced the trailers’ occupants from their homes in 1942 hadn’t disappeared, either. Frank Kawana was 12 when his family moved into the trailer camp in El Segundo, which sat near North American Aviation’s B-25 bomber plant. One day, as the 5 o’clock whistle blew, Kawana and his father were stuck standing at an intersection while the workers drove off.
“It was probably about 10 minutes but it seemed like 10 hours,” Kawana recalled in 2011 to Densho, a nonprofit preserving the history of Japanese-American incarceration. “Every other car would roll down the window” and they yelled “‘Goddamn Japs! Get the hell out of here!’” His father grabbed his hand. “A little bit of him and a little bit of me died that day,” Mr. Kawana said.
When it shuttered the internment camps in 1945, the W.R.A. liquidated not only the barracks but also the cots and kitchen equipment from the camps. Some items even found their way to the West Coast’s makeshift housing; it’s not impossible to imagine a scenario where a trailer or hostel resident pulled the sheets up at night in the same bed they where they had slept the previous three years. “Because of poverty and restrictive covenants and hostility and fear, Japanese-Americans were forced to take whatever housing they could get,” said Greg Robinson, the author of “After Camp: Portraits in Midcentury Japanese American Life and Politics.”
The public sentiment that had driven the decision to remove Japanese-Americans from the West Coast in 1942 hadn’t miraculously disappeared. Los Angeles County refused to hire Japanese-Americans until 90 days after the end of the war, and private-sector discrimination led to former shop owners becoming domestic servants, Robinson said. The state’s produce industry, the lifeblood of many Japanese-Americans before the war, shut out the returning families. The community didn’t fully recover financially from incarceration until the early 1960s, Robinson said, missing out on 15 years of postwar American prosperity.
All of this led to an economic hollowing out of the community. In 1941, only 23 of Los Angeles County’s 36,000 residents of Japanese descent received public assistance. By January 1946 that number had climbed to 937.
As housing and employment pressures eased, the populations of the barracks and trailer camps slowly began to shrink. In the spring of 1946 the W.R.A. closed its doors and the majority of the trailer camps it oversaw. At the Lomita Flight Strip camp, the agency cut the water lines as 160 residents were scrambling for new housing. Many of them moved into private trailers operated by plant nurseries and seafood companies, their lodging provided in exchange for their labor. Most of the rest were dumped at Winona trailer camp that second weekend in May.
Windows were fixed; gas, sewer and power lines connected. The 337 school-age children eventually found classrooms to accommodate them. Families, close to 200 in total, filled the trailers, planting petunias and small patches of grass; the men took advantage of the proximity to Hollywood, its demanding lawns requiring dedicated gardeners.
Eventually, families trickled out, skirting Los Angeles County’s restrictive covenants by moving to Black communities like Watts and Crenshaw. Jim Matsuoka lived with his family and more than 100 other Japanese-American families at Los Cerritos trailer camp in Long Beach, where the trailers were “barely fit for human habitation,” he recalled in a 2010 Densho interview. After first living in the camp, his sisters moved to Echo Park. There, the 12-year-old heard a familiar sound for the first time in five years.
“I heard the toilet flush,” he said. “It was like: ‘I’m back to civilization. I’m back among living people.’”
In the fall of 1947, the last families in Winona were evicted once again. The Federal Public Housing Authority made them a deal: we’ll sell you your trailers if you leave. After paying a discounted $75 to $100 for their trailers, about 100 families took the offer and moved two miles up the road, to an industrial zone the Valley Times, a Burbank newspaper, later generously called a “nameless community.” (A year later, the area would vote to change its name to Sun Valley, drawing the ire of the upscale Idaho ski resort of the same name.)
Since the trailers lacked wheels, the F.P.H.A. towed the homes to their new locations for $25, a third of the cost of some of the trailers. In current dollars, the families spent more than $1,000 to start over yet again. For many Winona residents, the move would be the fifth they had made in less than six years.
The process of rebuilding began again: new children, more gardens, renewed hope for stability. Homeowners erected picket fences around their tiny trailers, and this time the move stuck. For the next eight years the corner of San Fernando Road and Olinda Street was a bustling Japanese-American community. On weekends children attended Buddhist Sunday school, while during the week they buoyed their regular curriculum with Japanese language lessons.
The community sprouted the Valley Japanese Community Center, teaching Japanese dance, song and cuisine. The center opened its own building outside the trailer camp in the early ’50s; it still operates. By 1955 the trailer camp boasted a heated pool, shuffleboard courts, horseshoes and a playground with six swings, tetherball and a sandbox. Then, once again, it was gone.
The language of the public notification buried on page four of the June 27, 1955, Valley Times was blunt: “An application has been filed with the commission requesting that the R1 One-Family Dwelling Zone be changed to the M2 Light Industrial Zone.” Within a year the land was sold out from under its residents, the trailer park bulldozed and replaced with warehouses. Families scattered, and with them the memory of the Japanese-American trailer camps: When former residents organized a reunion in 1986, they learned that no one at the Burbank Historical Society even knew the Sun Valley trailer camp had existed.
Virus, heat, fire, blackouts. It’s just another summer in the nation’s most populous state.
By Farhad Manjoo, Opinion Columnist, Aug. 26, 2020https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/26/opinion/california-wildfires-blackouts.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
Across much of California in the last two weeks, many of my friends and neighbors have faced a dead-end choice: Is it safer to conduct your life outdoors and avoid the coronavirus, or should you rush inside, the better to escape the choking heat, toxic smoke and raining ash?
Such has been the gagging unwinnability of life in the nation’s most populous state in the sweltering summer of 2020, in what I have been assured is the greatest country ever to have existed. The virus begs you to open a window; the inferno forces you to keep it shut.
When the coronavirus first landed in America, California’s lawmakers responded quickly and effectively, becoming a model for the rest of the nation. But as the early wins faded and the cases spiked, each day this summer has felt like another slide down an inevitable spiral of failure. The virus keeps crashing into California’s many other longstanding dysfunctions, from housing to energy to climate change to disaster planning, and the compounding ruin is piling up like BMWs on the 405.
Consider: To keep the pestilence at bay, many of California’s children began attending school online last week. But to satisfy surging energy demand linked to record-shattering heat (and a host of other mysterious reasons), state utilities had to impose rolling blackouts, forcing schools to come up with energy contingency plans to add to their virus contingency plans, now that millions of students face the threat of intermittent electricity.
For decades, California has relied on conscripted prisoners as a cheap way to fight its raging fires. But to stave off coronavirus outbreaks in our long-overcrowded prisons, authorities released thousands of inmates earlier this year. Now, as climate change has ushered in a new era of “megafires” that includes some of the largest blazes the state has ever faced, the early release of inmates has left the state dangerously short of prisoners to exploit in battling the flames.
As California’s problems grow, we risk becoming a national piñata. At the Democratic National Convention last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom phoned in from Watsonville, Calif., near the scene of a wildfire, to castigate Donald Trump and the Republican Party for ignoring climate change and fighting California’s efforts to reduce emissions. At the Republican convention, Kimberly Guilfoyle, a fund-raising official for the Trump re-election campaign who is also Newsom’s ex-wife, shouted the opposite claim — that “socialism” had turned the state into a disaster of “discarded heroin needles in parks, riots in streets, and blackouts in homes.”
I found Guilfoyle’s speech hilariously unhinged and off base, and Newsom certainly has a point — California’s efforts to solve its many problems, including the virus outbreak, have often been frustrated or undone by Trump’s shortcomings.
Still, it’s worth remembering that Trump has been president only since 2017, and the seeds of California’s undoing were planted long before. By reducing the cause of California’s many issues to cartoon villains, both Guilfoyle and Newsom obscured the bigger picture.
What is California’s fundamental trouble? Neither socialism nor Trumpian neglect and incompetence, but something more elemental to life in the Golden State: A refusal by many Californians to live sustainably and inclusively, to give up a little bit of their own convenience for the collective good.
This is a hobbyhorse of mine, but I’m committed to riding it until people in my home state begin to change their ways. Californian suburbia, the ideal of much of American suburbia, was built and sold on the promise of endless excess — everyone gets a car, a job, a single-family home and enough water and gasoline and electricity to light up the party.
But it is long past obvious that infinitude was a false promise. Traffic, sprawl, homelessness and ballooning housing costs are all consequences of our profligacy with the land and our other resources. In addition to a hotter, drier climate, the fires, too, are fanned by an unsustainable way of life. Many blazes were worsened by Californians moving into areas near forests known as the “urban-wildland interface.” Once people move near forested land, fires tend to follow — either because they deliberately or inadvertently ignite them, or because they need electricity, delivered by electrical wires that can cause sparks that turn into conflagrations.
As the fires blazed around us this time last year, I warned of the “end of California as we know it” — that if we didn’t begin to radically alter how we live, the climate and the high cost of living would make the state uninhabitable for large numbers of people.
Of course, California hasn’t yet ended. Through virus and flame, the state has kept lurching along in the same haphazard way it always has, and here we are again to face another burning season.
It is my hope, though, that with each year we burn, each new wildfire year that we live through, Californians start to recognize the mistakes that are central to our way of life.
And perhaps, this year, the disturbing national political conversation might finally force my fellow Californians to reckon with how they live. In many ways the 2020 election is shaping up to be a fight over the soul of the suburbs — their role in America’s future, and who they are for. At the Republican convention this week, Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the couple who brandished guns at protesters in St. Louis, asserted that liberals want to “abolish the suburbs” by ending single-family home zoning. The liberals who live in California’s suburbs may not identify with the McCloskeys, but their ugly spectacle has helped unmask NIMBYism, one of California’s most reckless ideologies, for the racist vision it has long been.
It just isn’t true that Joe Biden and the Democrats want to abolish the suburbs, or even improve them, which is a shame. Neither Biden nor his party nor just about anyone else in national or state politics has been willing to honestly discuss the incalculable damage that California-style suburban life has wreaked on our world. In California, if anything is going to ruin the suburbs, it is more likely to be a wildfire than a new president.
The violence occurred early Wednesday during a confrontation between demonstrators and a group of men armed with guns as protests continued over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
By Julie Bosman, Aug. 26, 2020
Kenosha County sheriff’s deputies moved to clear a park of protesters. Credit...Tannen Maury/EPA, via Shutterstock
KENOSHA, Wis. — Three people were shot early Wednesday, two fatally, law enforcement officials said, during a chaotic night of demonstrations over the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black resident whose children were nearby as their father was shot this week by a white police officer.
In Kenosha, a third night of protests over the shooting of Mr. Blake stretched into the early morning hours of Wednesday, after demonstrators clashed with law enforcement officials near the county courthouse downtown.
Tuesday evening was spent in a shifting, hourslong standoff between the police and protesters. Protesters assembled outside a newly erected metal barrier protecting the courthouse and threw water bottles, rocks and fireworks at the police.
The police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, repeatedly warning the crowd through a bullhorn that they were violating the city curfew of 8 p.m. and risking arrest. The crowd was eventually forced out of the park with tear gas and onto city streets, where the standoff continued.
Many protesters left the area, but others lingered and walked to a gas station several blocks away. There, a group of men with guns stood outside, promising to protect the property and verbally sparring with the arriving protesters. As the night stretched on, the gas station became a tense gathering spot, with bystanders watching from parked cars and people milling around in the street, arguing and occasionally shoving each other.
Police officers had crept closer to the gas station in armored trucks, urging the people who were still there to go home.
After midnight, shots were fired outside the gas station. Three people were struck, Sheriff David Beth said in an interview. The Kenosha Police Department said in a statement that there were two fatalities, and that one person had been taken to the hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.
Sheriff Beth said that the investigation was focused on the group of men with guns outside the gas station, and that investigators were scouring video taken just before the shooting.
In one video, the men are shouting at each other, clutching their guns and occasionally pulling each other away to defuse the conflict.
“I’ve had people saying, ‘Why don’t you deputize citizens?’” he said. “This is why you don’t deputize citizens with guns to protect Kenosha.”
On Tuesday, Mr. Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson, had told reporters that she opposed the sort of destruction that had been left by protests spurred by her son’s shooting. On earlier nights, buildings and trucks had been burned down in Kenosha, a city of 100,000 people, where more than 100 members of the Wisconsin National Guard have been deployed amid the unrest.
Ms. Jackson told reporters that she had been praying for the country to heal.
“I’ve noticed a lot of damage,” she said. “It doesn’t reflect my son or my family.”
Mr. Blake, she and other family members said, is conscious in a hospital after being shot seven times. Family members and lawyers said that he was partially paralyzed from a bullet that severed his spinal cord and unaware of the protests that have spread across the country in his name.
Mr. Blake’s parents and siblings denounced the police and pleaded for justice.
It was a “senseless attempted murder,” Mr. Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Sr., said as he broke down and wept. “They shot my son seven times, like he didn’t matter.”
He said he had no confidence that the shooting of a Black man by a white officer would be fairly investigated.
That investigation is in the hands of the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation, which has not released basic information about the shooting, including the name of the officer, who has been placed on administrative leave.
The Kenosha Police Department, which has also declined to provide details of what happened, has been at the center of criticism from demonstrators, who protested for a third night on Tuesday.
By striking, the players in the NBA, MLB, and beyond have brought their bosses to the table and launched a national conversation.
By Dave Zirin, August 27, 2020https://www.thenation.com/article/society/mets-marlins-strike/
The wave of strikes by athletes against racist police violence is not ebbing. On Thursday night, the New York Mets and Miami Marlins took the field, held a 42-second moment of silence (in honor of Jackie Robinson), and then walked off. They left behind a shirt that read “Black Lives Matter” on home plate.
Numerous NFL teams have canceled their practices, with the Baltimore Ravens, after a four-hour team meeting, putting out a remarkable action statement. NBA referees even organized a march in the Orlando Bubble, wearing T-shirts that read, “Everyone Against Racism.” Even the National Hockey League, after first ignoring what was happening, to the chagrin of many players, canceled a slate of games in solidarity with the events swirling around the sports world.
Pro athletes have shown themselves willing to fight and be heard. Black athletes are saying that they no longer will be a repository of adulation with their uniforms on but a risk to be killed by police when the uniform comes off. It is a historic moment by any measure, and one without a blueprint. We don’t know where this is going, or how long it will last. But folks are already asking what this can actually accomplish beyond raising awareness about the shooting of Jacob Blake.
For now, it’s centering the conversation in this country on racist police violence and not the gaslighting “law and order” bombast coming out of the RNC, and inspiring people to violence during a time of relentless darkness. Frankly, if nothing else came out of it, it would still be important. But the players want more. Supporters want more. Everyone strangled by the absence of political oxygen in this broken country want more.
NBA player leaders want the franchise owners to put some “skin in the game.” They want the billionaire owners—who are not only wealthy but politically connected to every municipality where they have a publicly funded stadium—to push for legislation and using their influence to fight back. As NBA insider Shams Charania from The Athletic reported on Twitter from a meeting between players and owners, “Players challenged owners to be proactive, not reactive, to social justice changes; create actions, not simply financial commitments.”
I’m all for extracting concessions from billionaires. But there is another avenue the movement can take. What these players are doing is nothing less than striking for Black lives. They are using their power as workers to protest not only the police shooting of Blake and the white supremacist terrorism in Kenosha, but also the fact that, as one player put it, “nothing is changing.” After a summer of marches, uprisings, and occupations, scant legislation has moved and police still act with impunity.
By exercising their power as workers, the players are inspiring an incredibly dormant part of the resistance to racism and Trumpism: the labor movement. If the NBA can shut down in protest of racist police violence, why not other industries? Why not cities? Why not entire sectors of the country’s economy? Strikes do not have to be about wages and benefits. There is a long, hidden history in this country of striking for human rights—“not just bread but roses.” It’s a history the players could help revive.
That may sound far-fetched, but I can say that I received half a dozen calls from unionists or union officials last night telling me that they and their members felt like they had been hit with an electric prod. The idea that everyone in the country was talking about this “strike” taking place was making so many of these workers feel like they also had power.
This isn’t just about solidarity. This is about results. If the players want the results they crave, and if the country is as broken as they believe it to be, this is an actual solution: to strike against racist police violence. to strike against Trumpism, to strike for Black lives. Nothing else has worked. But by withdrawing their labor, the players in the NBA have immediately brought their bosses to the table and launched a national conversation. If that message blares across the land—and if labor leaders rise to the occasion and respond with equal courage—we could finally see solutions and not feel like we are all poised with bated breath, just waiting for the next hashtag.
“He can’t go anywhere,” the 29-year-old’s dad said, speaking of his son’s paralysis. “Why do you have him cuffed to the bed?”
By Clare Proctor, Aug 27, 2020
Jacob Blake’s father, also named Jacob Blake, speaks at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. On Thursday, Blake’s father said his son has been handcuffed to his hospital bed. Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
When Jacob Blake’s father visited him in the hospital Wednesday, he said his son — who was shot in the back by a Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officer over the weekend — was handcuffed to the bed.
“I hate it that he was laying in that bed with the handcuff onto the bed,” his father, also named Jacob Blake, said Thursday. “He can’t go anywhere. Why do you have him cuffed to the bed?”
Asked why his son was handcuffed, Blake’s father replied “he’s under arrest.” The father also said it was unclear what charge or charges his son might be facing, explaining “right now, we don’t know. We’re playing it by ear.”
The younger Blake, 29, was shot more than a half-dozen times on Sunday and is paralyzed from the waist down.
In the hospital, the younger Blake told his father he thought he could feel pain in his legs, but his father isn’t sure if the pain is actually coming from his legs.
The Kenosha Police Department, Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office and Wisconsin Department of Justice all did not immediately respond to requests for information on his arrest or charges.
Jacob Blake’s father said he hasn’t heard from the police department or Mayor John Antaramian, though Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has reached out, he said. The mayor’s office didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.
At a news conference later Thursday, Evers was asked if he’s concerned about Blake being handcuffed.
“Hell yes,” Evers said.
“I would have no personal understanding why that would be necessary,” the governor added. “I can’t imagine why that’s happening and I would hope that we would be able to find a . . . better way to have him get better and recover.”
The family’s attorney is working to ensure Jacob Blake can go home once he’s released from the hospital, his father said.
When Blake saw his father in the hospital Wednesday, he thought he was hallucinating because he couldn’t believe what he was seeing, according to his father.
“I told him, ‘You thought Daddy wasn’t going to see my son?’” his father said. “He grabbed my hand, held it real tight and started weeping, telling me how much he loved me.”
Though his son’s eyes were swollen, the elder Jacob Blake said he “looked and sounded like” his son, and he’s alive. Seeing him in the hospital was like walking across a desert to find someone waiting with a glass of water, his father said.
“It was way more than fulfilling,” his father said. “It was a feeling I can’t describe.”
Demonstrators have swarmed Kenosha in the days since Jacob Blake’s shooting. The unrest turned violent Tuesday night when three people were shot, two of them fatally. Authorities arrested 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse of Antioch on suspicion of first-degree intentional homicide.
Anthony Huber, 26, of Silver Lake, and Joseph “Jojo” Rosenbaum, 36, of Kenosha, were fatally shot Tuesday. Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, of West Allis, was shot in the arm and is expected to recover.
Jacob Blake’s father declined to comment on the violence, saying he will fully address the matter when he speaks at the March on Washington in the nation’s capitol Friday. At a press conference with relatives on Tuesday, his mother, Julia Jackson, called for an end to looting and destruction in the city.
“We need healing,” Jackson said. “I also have been praying, even before this, for the healing of our country.”
By Aldous J Pennyfarthing, August 26, 2020
Posted by: Bonnie Weinstein <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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