Monday Reads: WTF Kenner?

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

If all politics is local, then there is something really rotten in the parishes that surround mine. The same congressional district that gave rise to David Duke and “David Duke without the Baggage” Steve Scalise has a berg called Kenner which,of course, was part of an old plantation back in the day. You can’t go far around here without standing on ground that was likely taken from indigenous people and built up by slaves.  Then, there’s the always haunting knowledge that the poor white man was placated by these rich, slave owning bastards with the comfort of “well, at least you’re not black”.

We’re not far–at any moment–from this history and we’ve not learned our history lessons.

The deliberate use of Colin Kaepernick’s symbolic and quiet protest of the incredible levels of police violence against persons of color to fan the flames of aggrieved white people has me sick to my stomach.  I am sick of this illegitimate president*. I am even more sick of all the politicians that fan the flames of hatred between all of us that call this country home. I am sick of reading wypipo who simply want to cling to their ignorance and privilege. I want to scream it isn’t always about you at them!

It is difficult to not see the racism in all these actions and words. We’ve gone way pass the dog whistle phase.

This should not stand and any person in Kenner, Louisiana should let their mayor know that the majority of people living around here will not tolerate it.  It’s an abomination. It’s illegal.  It’s a first amendment violation. To quote my friend and editor of the Bayou Brief Lamar White Junior:

The white mayor of an American city is attempting to prevent parents and coaches from buying or dressing their children in clothes and shoes from a company that aired an inspirational television commercial reaffirming the humanity and the hopes of black children in America.

Read this and weep.  Better yet, read this and decide that #BlackLivesMatter should be the battle cry of all good American citizens today and every day.  This administration is race baiting one citizen to turn on another and to be blind to the violence, murder, and terror that results.  It’s not just inequitable. It borderlines on calling for genocide.

Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn has apparently issued a memorandum demanding that the city recreation department and any booster clubs operating at its facilities no longer purchase or accept delivery of Nike athletic products or any apparel that features the company’s famous logo.

The Sept. 5 memo to Recreation Director Chad Pitfield, which is being circulated on social media, was not made public by City Hall. A spokesman for the city said Sunday (Sept. 9) that he had no comment. Zahn could not be reached.

Kenner booster club president Owen Rey told WWL the policy “shouldn’t be that way.”

“If we have something that we feel that we want that’s going to benefit our kids,” Rey said, “it shouldn’t matter what logo, what brand — as long as it helps the kids and what we’re trying to accomplish at the park.”

Nike recently unveiled its “Dream Crazy” campaign featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who triggered a wave of protests against racial inequality last year by kneeling during the National Anthem prior to games. The ads generated passionate reactions from people around the world.

The Kenner memo says that, effective immediately, all purchases of clothing, shoes, athletic equipment or any other athletic equipment by booster clubs operating at city recreation facilities must be approved by Pitfield or his designee.

“Under no circumstances will any Nike product or any product with the Nike logo be purchased for use or delivery at any city of Kenner recreation facility,” according to the memo, which is on official mayor’s office letterhead and signed by Zahn. It makes no reference to the Nike campaign.

Kenner Councilman Gregory Carroll responded to the memo in a public Facebook post Sunday (Sept. 9), “I was not made aware of this decision beforehand and it is in direct contradiction of what I stand for and what the City of Kenner should stand for. I am 100% AGAINST this decision. I will meet with the Mayor and other Council members in an effort to rescind this directive.”

Those of us in Orleans Parish recognize these remnants of scared white people fleeing to Jefferson Parish to avoid white children and black children in the same classroom as “Kenner Brahs”.  They’re not a very distinct breed down here in the old south.  They’re just one with a slightly different accent that drinks beer and spews racism.

The statistics supporting the #BlackLivesMatter movement are overwhelming.  This is lost in hooplah of white males complaining they want to watch their football and be blatantly ignorant of the issue and their role in it.

Black people are much more likely to be shot by police than their white peers.

An analysis of the available FBI data by Vox’s Dara Lind found that US police kill black people at disproportionate rates: Black people accounted for 31 percent of police killing victims in 2012, even though they made up just 13 percent of the US population. Although the data is incomplete because it’s based on voluntary reports from police agencies around the country, it highlights the vast disparities in how police use force.

The disparities appear to be even starker for unarmed suspects, according to an analysis of 2015 police killings by the Guardian. Racial minorities made up about 37.4 percent of the general population in the US and 46.6 percent of armed and unarmed victims, but they made up 62.7 percent of unarmed people killed by police.

This is at the heart of Kaepernick/NFL players protest. There is no intent to disrespect the flag or troops or whatever stupid things emanate from the fevered brain of our very mentally ill president.  Athletic events have been used for protests against all sorts of thing. Every black athlete from Jesse Owens attending those Olympics in Munich was essentially a country wide troll of Hitler’s NAZI Germany. If you have a national or international platform, you’re in a special place to call attention to a problem.  Most people who feel strongly about social justice issues use that platform.  It’s nothing new.  Many other athletes will join the call.

What is distinct about this protest?  Is it just that we’ve got such naked white nationalism in the White House egging on the demons of our history?  I suggest you read this brilliant essay “Dictating the conditions of freedom”.

White people don’t like it when black folks take a stand against their oppression. White culture expects black bodies and minds to be servile; existing for the sole purpose of entertaining, educating, or otherwise being in service to white people. White folks think that by ‘allowing’ black people to participate in ‘their’ stuff they aren’t racist. In reality, participation is often predicated on the unspoken expectation that ‘exceptional’ black people are only granted access to these spaces in exchange for their silence on the race issue.

We must always be thankful and express our gratitude at every turn. We must always pay obeisance to the benevolent white people who ‘gave’ us a chance.

Never talk about history; always focus on the present.

Be black, but not too black.

Never speak about current issues, unless you’re talking about what’s wrong with the black community.

Never call white people to account for their present racism.

Never make white people feel like they’re racist. Never speak out about your own or others’ oppression.

Do whatever it is that you’re being allowed to do without saying a mumbling word about how you’re being treated. Woe be unto you if you break this silent contract.

When Colin Kaepernick decided to take a knee during the national anthem, he broke the contract. What’s worse is that as a biracial man who was adopted by a white family, he broke solidarity with any claim that whiteness could make on him. In White America’s eyes, he had chosen a side. He could not play the role of the ‘ambiguous other with white parents.’ He was no longer a white man by proxy. Whiteness had been willing to grant him a pass until he took a knee on the sideline, his Afro advertising his bold blackness that could not be buried.

When Colin kneeled, White America stopped seeing his whiteness. They could only see a black man who had broken the contract, who had made them feel racist. They could only see an “ungrateful n——r” who deigned not to participate in America’s civil religion. Whether or not he intended to, Kaepernick chose his blackness on that day. Not that he should have had to (because he shouldn’t have), but a side was chosen for him.

When white people decide to stand up for the dignity of black people, they still retain their whiteness. Other white folks might call them unsavory names and attempt to cow them back into white solidarity, but they still carry white privilege everywhere they go.

But when black people, even those of us who carry multiple racial identities, stand up for black lives, we lose. We lose friends. We lose employment. Some of us even lose our places of worship or connections to family members. We become pariahs.

When white people can no longer buy our silence and acquiescence about white supremacy, they turn on us. They try to destroy our reputation. They make us out to be mentally ill. They sanction us for failing to pass their litmus tests for orthodoxy. They attempt to gaslight us and make us feel guilty for ‘changing.’

The reaction that we see to Colin Kaepernick’s Nike endorsement has nothing to do with patriotism, ‘the troops,’ or any other red herring that is being bandied about. People aren’t burning their shoes because they feel that our country is being disrespected. They aren’t cutting Nike swooshes off of clothes because they feel a deep sense of patriotism. White people are ‘protesting Nike’ because they are upset that a black man has called attention to how racist America is (and them by extension).

Any black person who is participating in this so-called protest is doing so because they have bought into the idea of their own exceptionalism above the rest of the black community. They are a contract player for white supremacy, and their actions should not be seen as a cachet of black approval for white folks’ racism.

White people’s anger shows that they do not believe that the First Amendment (or any other rights for that matter) applies to black people. Their rage shows that they feel that their whiteness is not being adequately respected and revered by someone who they believe is beneath them.

I have read some very disturbing comments on posts I’ve read from friends that make me wonder if so many white people are being willfully obtuse about not getting all of this.  I suppose the actual motivation matters less than the words I read that make me realize that we’re a long way from seeing every one’s civil rights respected equally.

It’s really not difficult to dig into any Republican State or Candidate and not find a racist.  I have to admit that I’m watching the Florida and Georgia gubernatorial races with quite the jaundiced eye. The white candidates are about as subtle as Lester Maddox and unrepetant George Wallace.

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), a gubernatorial nominee who recently was accused of using racially tinged language, spoke four times at conferences organized by a conservative activist who has said that African Americans owe their freedom to white people and that the country’s “only serious race war” is against whites.

DeSantis, elected to represent north-central Florida in 2012, appeared at the David Horowitz Freedom Center conferences in Palm Beach, Fla., and Charleston, S.C., in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, said Michael Finch, president of the organization. At the group’s annual Restoration Weekend conferences, hundreds of people gather to hear right-wing provocateurs such as Stephen K. Bannon, Milo Yiannopoulos and Sebastian Gorka sound off on multiculturalism, radical Islam, free speech on college campuses and other issues.

Well, their next target be Ford Motor Company who builds the All American Truck? Yes, I’m proud to be a Ford Dealer’s daughter! 

On Monday, the Ford Motor Company, which owns the Detroit Lions, took a stand and pushed back on President Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric against NFL players who protest.

“We respect individuals’ rights to express their views, even if they are not ones we share,” the company said on Monday. “That’s part of what makes America great.”

The company made the announcement after Trump on Friday urged people to protest the NFL and said owners should fire players who decide to kneel during the national anthem, CNN reports.

Ford has a heavy stake in the NFL with team ownership and last year entered into a three-year agreement making the Ford F-Series the league’s official truck.

The NFL has said it would not penalize players who refuse to take the field during the national anthem.

Martha Firestone Ford, owner and chairwoman of the Detroit Lions and a member of the Ford family, fired back at Trump for his divisive comments.

“Our game has long provided a powerful platform for dialogue and positive change in many communities throughout our nation,” she said. “Negative and disrespectful comments suggesting otherwise are contrary to the founding principles of our country, and we do not support those comments or opinions.”

Ford also owns the naming rights to the Ford Field in Detroit.

 

Sunday’s first NFL game saw Twitler tweets and kneeling NFL players prior to the Dolphins Game.  This isn’t going away no matter how much these racist white fans want to watch their game without thinking of any one but themselves. I was disappointed to see none of the Saints players carried the torch forward.

Just hours ahead of the first kickoffs on the first Sunday of the NFL’s regular season, President Trump again called for NFL players to stand for the national anthem and for TV networks to broadcast it, pointing to a decline in television ratings for the league’s season opener Thursday night.

“Wow, NFL first game ratings are way down over an already really bad last year comparison,” he tweeted. “Viewership declined 13%, the lowest in over a decade. If the players stood proudly for our Flag and Anthem, and it is all shown on broadcast, maybe ratings could come back? Otherwise worse!”

Even though Colin Kaepernick would later join Trump in tweeting about the issue, it was a relatively quiet day as it pertained to the issue, with most of the discussion on the league’s first Sunday focused on the action on the field.

The season-opening games featured few demonstrations during the playing of the anthem, with Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson of the Dolphins taking a knee and their teammate, Robert Quinn, raising a fist before the game against the Titans. Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback who started the idea of demonstrating during the anthem, tweeted that Stills and Wilson, who have frequently protested by kneeling before games, “continue to show their unwavering strength by fighting for the oppressed! They have not backed down, even when attacked and intimidated. Their courage will move the world forward! ‘Love is at the root of our resistance!’ ”

It seems Russian trolls are excited and “ready for some football”.

The same Kremlin-linked group that posed as Americans on social media during the 2016 US presidential election has repeatedly exploited the controversy surrounding the NFL and players who have protested police brutality and racial injustice during the National Anthem, playing both sides in an effort to exacerbate divides in American society.

The debate is almost certainly an irresistible one for the Russians, given that it includes issues of race, patriotism, and national identity — topics the Russian trolls sought to exploit during the run-up to the election, and have continued to focus on in the two years since.

CNN worked with researchers at Clemson University that have archived millions of tweets sent by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll group that was indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in February. The accounts’ links to Russia were discovered by Twitter, which provided details about them to Congress. The data shows the trolls repeatedly weighing in on the debate, using different accounts to take both sides. While they used some accounts to push petitions to fire the protesting players, they used others to hail them as heroes.

Over the past year, social media networks have identified and removed thousands of accounts tied to the IRA. But despite the tech companies’ efforts, there’s no indication that the group is shying away from the NFL controversy.

There is no question that the debate over the protests is real. But Americans watching the controversy unfold on social media ought to know that not all the outrage on either side is authentic, and not all of it is coming from US shores.

Clemson University researchers and CNN have found instances of accounts linked to Russian trolls by Twitter weighing in on the issue as recently as May of this year.

Meanwhile, the Kenna Brah suburb by the New Orleans Airport has a peaceful protest planned for tonight.

In the wake of a widely-circulated memo banning Kenner’s recreation booster clubs from purchasing Nike gear, a “peaceful protest” is planned for the city’s Susan Park at 5 p.m. on Monday.

The protests follow a firestorm that ignited over the weekend when a memo from Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn began to be shared on social media. That memo ordered that all recreation district purchases be routed through the city’s purchasing department and said “Under no circumstances will any Nike product or any product with the Nike logo be purchased for use or delivery at any city of Kenner recreation facility.”

Nike has recently found itself the subject of national controversy after running new commercials featuring former NFL quarterback Kaepernick, who had been widely criticized — and supported — for kneeling during the playing of the national anthem when he was with the San Francisco 49ers. Kaepernick chose to kneel as a protest against police killings of African-Americans.

Zahn did not respond to repeated requests for comment Sunday. But he made his feelings on the matter clear at the city’s Freedom Fest during the Labor Day weekend, when he said before a national anthem performance “In the city of Kenner, we all stand.”

Hey Zahn, when it comes to government stamping its damned shoes down on the rights of our fellow citizens, then I say this.  A good number of us will not stand for it or any other tricks.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

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Monday Reads: A Soundtrack and President* for the Ignorant

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I’ve had a rough week trying to deal with the fall out from the extreme temperatures, snow, and ice here.  It seems my cable box went because water pooled in the connections outside.  My electrician discovered a few sockets that were acting up, we basically took them off line, and now I have my office and desk back. I also can watch news again which is something I haven’t been able to do for about a week now.  What’s that they say about ignorance is bliss? As you can see, black activist James Baldwin had some other thoughts and I’m certain he couldn’t see far enough into the future to imagine the horror show today.

An ABC/Washington Post Poll shows that “Almost half of voters question Trump’s mental stability”. The other’s can’t be paying attention or are being deliberately obtuse.

Forty-eight percent of voters think Trump is mentally stable, versus the 47 percent of voters who think he is not.

Trump’s job approval rating at his one year mark is at 36 percent, while 58 disapprove. The next lowest approval rating from a president at one year was Gerald Ford in 1975 with 45 percent.

The president earlier this month defended his mental stability and his intelligence in a series of tweets following questions about his mental stability that were sparked by journalist Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury.”

The Government has been shutdown by Trump and his xenophobic and racist cronies. Well, from the sounds of it, it is mostly because of hard lines drawn by Kelly and Miller.  The Senate will vote on the short down at noon.

Key senators are meeting ahead of a high-stakes vote at noon Monday on a bill to reopen the government and fund it for three weeks, though it remains unclear if this plan will win over enough Democrats to pass.

The vote comes several hours after the workday for hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal employees was supposed to have begun, and comes three days after the government officially shut down Friday at midnight. Many of the shutdown’s full effects were less visible during the weekend, when much of the federal workforce would typically be off anyway.

“I don’t think this is the right way to get policy outcomes is to shut the government down. When we tried it, it didn’t work well for us,” GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told reporters, appearing alongside GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Jeff Flake of Arizona. “Here’s what I predict. Once we start talking about immigration and voting on immigration, we’ll find 60 votes to make sure these DACA recipients’ lives are not ruined by March 5.”

The Senate vote was moved from 1 a.m. ET Monday to noon after it became clear Democrats would block the spending bill over disagreements on a variety of issues, most notably what do about young people affected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas said he thought Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York agreed to push back the vote to give his caucus “a chance to chew” on a GOP proposal to break the impasse.

“It’s better to have a successful vote tomorrow at noon than a failed vote tonight,” Cornyn told reporters.

Stephen Miller continues to be the voice of white supremacy in the White House and appears to be one of the main obstacles to settling anything.

On Sunday, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) — whose doomed immigration compromise with Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) was the target of that Trump tirade in the Oval Office — blasted Miller as a primary reason for the continuing standoff over border issues.

“As long as Stephen Miller is in charge of negotiating immigration, we are going nowhere. He’s been an outlier for years,” Graham told reporters at the Capitol. “I’ve talked with the president; his heart is right on this issue. He’s got a good understanding of what will sell. And every time we have a proposal, it is only yanked back by staff members.”

 The reality, though, is arguably more complicated.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, said Trump has hawkish immigration views on a gut level but doesn’t necessarily understand all of the policy details and implications. He said Miller and Chief of Staff John F. Kelly — who also plays a crucial role in immigration policy — are “not so much yanking the president’s leash” as doing “the proper job of staff” by steering the president to his goals.

“There was a story line that people were developing in their own minds that Miller is the source of evil and without him everything would be great,” Krikorian said. “The truth is the president is committed to this general perspective on immigration, and Miller and Kelly are there to help him implement what he always wanted to do.”

Miller’s driving obsession is immigration, an area where he has long pushed hard-line positions going back to his days as a combative conservative activist at Duke University. In Washington, as an aide to then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), he was instrumental in helping to kill a bipartisan effort in 2013 for a broad immigration deal. He and Sessions helped galvanize House conservatives to block the bill passed by the Senate, including distributing a handbook of talking points aimed at undercutting the compromise.

 

In an astounding, Orwellian move, the Trump Justice Department put out a completely false narrative on the source of terrorism in the US blaming those not born in the United States and inferring they were pretty much from Trump’s “shithole” countries.  This was an end run around DHS analysts which have long determined that this is not the case.

The document didn’t mince words. It claimed three-quarters of “international terrorism” convicts were immigrants, an assertion meant to bolster Donald Trump’s cherished Muslim-focused ban on entering the country. And the report put the claim in the mouths of an agency assembled to keep Americans safe after 9/11: the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Working off the 549 federal international-terrorism convictions tallied by the Justice Department, the document stated: “An analysis conducted by DHS determined that approximately 73 percent (402 of these 549 individuals) were foreign-born.”

But the Department of Homeland Security did not perform that analysis. DHS’ analysts did not contribute to the highly controversial report, The Daily Beast has learned.

According to a government source familiar with the episode, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ office took charge of the report’s assemblage of statistics—which some terrorism analysts consider highly misleading—and sent it to DHS Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen for her imprimatur after it was all but finalized.

“The Trump administration is trying to turn counterterrorism into an immigration issue,” said Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina, where he tracks Muslim-American involvement in terrorism.

Career professional analysts at DHS communicated to the Justice Departmentthat the data sought for the report simply did not exist within their department. DHS, multiple sources said, does not track or correlate international terrorism data by citizenship or country of origin, and have warned the Trump administration that doing so risks a misleading portrait of both terrorism and immigration.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg adds to the voices with #MeToo stories.  You can view the interview at the link.

Long before she donned a black judge’s robe, before she led a decades-long legal fight for gender equality, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a young, studious college kid taking a chemistry class at Cornell University.

One day, as she was preparing for a test, she told her professor she felt uncomfortable with some of the material.

“He said, ‘I’ll give you a practice exam,’” Ginsburg recalled in an interview Sunday with NPR’s Nina Totenberg at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

When Ginsburg went to class the next day, she discovered that the professor had actually just slipped her an advance copy of the real test. “And I knew exactly what he wanted in return,” she said. “And that’s just one of many examples.”

Ginsburg recounted the story in a roughly 90-minute discussion with Totenberg that touched on the 84-year-old justice’s experiences with sexual misconduct and her reaction to the #MeToo movement, as well as her career as a women’s rights advocate and her future on the high court. She was in Utah for the premiere of “RBG,” a new documentary about her life that was co-produced by CNN.

Susan Glasser writes about historian Walter Russell Mead and how his influence has led to a following in the Trump White House for genocidal President Andrew Jackson.

Bannon had seized on Mead’s work as part of his war on the other factions inside Trump’s White House, and especially the hyper-entitled family members like son-in-law Jared Kushner and “globalists” like national security adviser H.R. McMaster he viewed as selling out Trump’s “America First” vision to the more conventional course preferred by the Washington establishment. In the rumpled Mead and his writings about the “Jacksonian” tradition in American foreign policy, Bannon saw a populist kindred spirit—and a suitably rabble-rousing model for the antiestablishment course he hoped Trump would follow.

Trump agreed, which is why the Jackson portrait went up and the president was visiting Old Hickory’s Tennessee home within weeks of his inauguration, never mind the instant outcry that greeted Trump’s embrace of a slaveholding, Native American-fighting early 19th century predecessor as his role model. “That’s what Steve Bannon told me,” Mead recalled in a new interview for The Global Politico, our weekly podcast on world affairs. “There was this Jacksonian moment.”

Even now, exactly a year after Trump’s inauguration, Mead says that while Bannon has been purged from the White House, Bannonism—and by extension the bowdlerized, 21st century version of Jacksonianism he was peddling—has not. If you want to understand Trump’s otherwise incomprehensible presidency, Mead argues, you need to understand America’s seventh president.

“The Steve Bannon side of the Trump presidency remains very Jacksonian. Bannon isn’t in the White House, and he’s not welcome I think, but his influence is still felt,” Mead says. “Trump’s base remains Jacksonian. And Trump knows how to play to this base. So even as Trump has kind of adjusted in some ways to the necessities of the Washington establishment and, you know, ‘Well, you can’t just completely reinvent American foreign policy,’ he continues to orient in this way.”

After all, Mead notes, Bannon may be gone, but as for the president, “He still has a portrait of Andrew Jackson hanging in the Oval Office.”

Religious Extremists in HHS are blurring the line between church and state. They’re attacking the rights of women and GLBT people. Read this sad state of affairs investigated by Politico.

A small cadre of politically prominent evangelicals inside the Department of Health and Human Services have spent months quietly planning how to weaken federal protections for abortion and transgender care — a strategy that’s taking shape in a series of policy moves that took even their own staff by surprise.

Those officials include Roger Severino, an anti-abortion lawyer who now runs the Office of Civil Rights and last week laid out new protections allowing health care workers with religious or moral objections to abortion and other procedures to opt out. Shannon Royce, the agency’s key liaison with religious and grass-roots organizations, has also emerged as a pivotal player.

“To have leaders like Roger, like Shannon, it’s so important,” said Deanna Wallace of Americans United for Life, an anti-abortion group that was frequently at odds with the Obama administration. “It’s extremely encouraging to have HHS on our side this time.”

But inside HHS, staff say that those leaders are steering their offices to support evangelicals at the expense of other voices, such as a recent decision to selectively post public comments that were overwhelmingly anti-abortion. “It’s supposed to be the faith-based partnership center, not the Christian-based partnership center,” said a longtime HHS staffer, referencing the HHS Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships led by Royce.

More than a dozen current and former HHS staffers, who requested anonymity to speak freely, spoke with POLITICO for this story. HHS declined to make top officials available for interviews.

Many police continue to react with violence against members of minorities.  La Mesa police violently handcuffed and slammed a 17 year old girl to the ground at her school. The incident was caught on video.

Officers were called to the school when a 17-year-old student who had been suspended refused to leave the University Avenue campus, La Mesa Police Chief Walt Vasquez said in a statement.

A school resource officer tried to get the girl to leave voluntarily, then ordered her to do so. When she didn’t cooperate, the officer handcuffed her and began walking her to the school’s office, Vasquez said.

“As they were walking, the student became non-compliant on two separate occasions and made an attempt to free herself by pulling away from the officer,” the chief said. “To prevent the student from escaping, the officer forced the student to the ground.”

In video of the incident, the officer is seen throwing the girl over his shoulder onto the concrete sidewalk. He then used the weight of his body to pin her to the ground.

The officer forced her to the ground twice, witnesses said.

Vasquez said that after the student agreed to quit resisting or trying to escape, the officer helped her up and walked her to his patrol vehicle.

Police said that the student suffered minor abrasions during the incident and that she was evaluated by paramedics at the police station who determined she didn’t require treatment.

Aeiramique Blake, speaking on behalf of the girl’s family, said the incident has been mischaracterized by police.

Blake said the teen was assigned to in-school suspension for tardiness when the girl told an instructor she wasn’t feeling well. The student explained she was anemic and had experienced similar feelings before, but the teacher allegedly accused her of being on drugs, Blake said.

Is it really so difficult for people to see the underlying tribal hatred that’s leading to increased violence, denial of basic rights, dehumanization of so many of our citizens simply because they are not white, male, straight, and the right flavor of christian?  We have always had the stain of slavery and patriarchy follow our country on its path to the future.  How could so much ignorance come to such a place of power when we’ve made it through so much?

It’s good to be back with y’all but it’s certainly a day of highly disturbing news, policy, and stories.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?  Share the knowledge.


Tuesday Reads

matisse-tea-in-the-garden-1919

Good Morning!!

I’m getting a slow start again today. We’re having another heat wave here, and its throwing my circadian rhythms off. It’s hard to get to sleep at night because it’s so hot, and then I wake up at around 5AM when it has cooled down some, then fall back into a deep sleep and wake up a few hours later feeling drugged. I’m just drinking my iced coffee now and trying to get myself going. The good news is that at this time of year it does cool down quite a bit at night.

Hillary Clinton is in the news this morning, and as usual, even when she does something positive like requesting the release of all of her State Department emails or hold a meeting with activists and then release the video, the media reports it in a negative light. Here’s the video:

Part 1

Part 2

I hope Hillary supporters will watch the videos and not just read the media reports; because she gives intelligent, sensible answers. I linked to a blog post by Oliver Willis a few days ago in which he suggests that the activists are focusing on getting Hillary to say she’s sorry for things her husband did in the 1990s instead of pushing for real changes in policies. He was right.

The Hill reports: Clinton tells Black Lives Matter activists: ‘You’re not going to change every heart.’

“All I’m saying is, your analysis is totally fair, it’s historically fair, it’s psychologically fair, it’s economically fair. But you’re going to have to come together as a movement and say, ‘Here’s what we want done about it,’ ” Clinton says to a few members of the movement in the video posted by GOOD Magazine.

“Because you can get lip service from as many white people as you can pack into Yankee Stadium and a million more like it,” Clinton adds later. “Even for us sinners, find some common ground on agendas that can make a difference right here and now in people’s lives.”

Clinton met with the group of Boston-area Black Lives Matter activists last week after they were shut out of an event in the early voting state of New Hampshire that they planned to protest. A spokesman said they watched from an overflow room and met with Clinton afterward.

“I don’t believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate,” Clinton continues later in the exchange.

Activists who spoke with Clinton appeared on MSNBC last night to criticize her for “ducking responsibility” for policies of Bill Clinton’s administration that led to mass incarceration of black people.

Why is it that no one seems to understand that Bill and Hillary Clinton are two separate people with separate views of the world? Do they really believe that the wife of a president makes the laws of the land?

Still, Hillary did respond to the accusations. CNN:

Daunasia Yancey

The activists, led by Daunasia Yancey, founder of Black Lives Matter in Boston, pressed Clinton on her family’s role in promoting “white supremacist violence against communities of color.”

Clinton acknowledged during the conversation that laws put into place by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, did not work out as planned.

“I do think that there was a different set of concerns back in the ’80s and the early ’90s. And now I believe that we have to look at the world as it is today and try and figure out what will work now,” she said. “And that’s what I’m trying to figure out and that’s what I intend to do as president.”

But Clinton also told the protestors that she was “not sure” she agreed with the activists that her husband’s policies were racist.

“I do think that a lot of what was tried and how it was implemented has not produced the kinds of outcomes that any of us would want,” she said. “But I also believe that there are systemic issues of race and justice that go deeper than any particular law.”

But for some reason all the activists wanted was for Hillary to show contrition in some way. Was she supposed to break down sobbing? I’m not sure what they wanted. Read more about it at CNN.

New York Magazine has more:

Julius Jones is the man on the right.

Julius Jones is the man on the right.

The first video starts with [Julius] Jones spending three minutes going over America’s history of violence toward black people, ending with Clinton’s role in perpetuating mass incarceration. He concluded with a thoughtful question on what that means to Clinton personally — “Now, they may have been unintended consequences, but now that you understand the consequences, what in your heart has changed that’s going to change the direction of the country?” he asked — and a Clinton aide interrupted before she could answer.

Specifically, what was Hillary’s role in this? Do they believe she was actually running the country with Bill as just a figurehead? Continuing,

Clinton started off with a standard politician answer, recapping her lifelong advocacy for minority children, then offered some insight into how she wants to frame the issue on the campaign trail. “Once you say that this country has still not recovered from its original sin, which is true, the next question by people who are on the sidelines, which is the vast majority of Americans, is ‘So, what do you want me to do about it?'” she said. “I’m trying to put together in a way that I can explain it and I can sell it, because in politics if you can’t explain it and you can’t sell it, it stays on the shelf.” ….

Jones objected to Clinton suggesting that Black Lives Matter needs to have clearer policy goals to get the rest of the country onboard. “I say this as respectfully as I can: If you don’t tell black people what we need to do, then we won’t tell you all what you need to do,” Jones said, adding that “this is and has always been a white problem of violence” and there isn’t much black people can do to stop it.

Really? So candidates and activists should not communicate about changes in legislation and policy? As Oliver Willis noted, the activists don’t seem focused on policies for the future. I really hope this analysis is wrong, but it does sound like this movement may go the way of Occupy Wall Street if they don’t start telling candidates what policies they would support.

Hillary and Julius Jones

Hillary and Julius Jones

I know you’ve probably seen the headlines suggesting that Hillary is no longer the most likely candidate to get the Democratic nomination, so I won’t bother posting them. Here’s a response from Nate Silver, based on actual data: Hillary Clinton’s Inevitable Problems.

Clinton’s favorability rating has, in fact, fallen quite a lot, to an average of about 42 percent favorable and 48 percent unfavorable in recent polls.

Numbers like those, when combined with the “emailgate” scandal and Sen. Bernie Sanders’s position in the polls (he’s now running very close to Clinton in New Hampshire, although not in Iowa or nationally), have a lot of commentators saying Clinton’s campaign has had an unexpectedly rough start. “Hillary is probable, but no longer inevitable,” wrote David Horsey of the Los Angeles Times, assessing her chances to win the nomination.

Horsey is right to deal in probabilities rather than certainties. Personally, I give Clinton about an 85 percent chance of becoming the Democratic nominee. (The general election is a whole different story.) That’s a pinch higher than betting markets, which put her chances at 75 to 80 percent.

But those betting markets, unlike some pundits, haven’t changed their assessment of Clinton much. In the markets, her probability of winning the nomination is still close to its all-time high and has barely budged in the past few months, rarely falling much below 75 percent or rising much above 80 percent.

Emailgate? #feelthebern? Clinton’s declining favorables? The betting markets think everything that’s happened to Clinton so far in the campaign is pretty much par for the course. It’s not that these markets are clairvoyant; they presumably didn’t know there would be a scandal involving Clinton and her email server, for instance. But it was a pretty good bet that there would be some scandal involving Clinton. (It’s not as though there is an absence of them to pick from.) Likewise, while you might or might not have identified Sanders as the person to do it, it was a pretty good bet that somechallenger to Clinton would be situated about where Sanders is in the polls. So events like these were “priced in” to her stock. Let’s look at each of them in a bit more depth.

Please go read the rest at the FiveThirtyEight link above.

Valerie Tarico

Valerie Tarico

I’d like to call your attention to an essay by Valerie Tarico published at Raw Story: Republicans want 10-year-old girls to give birth to ‘rape’ babies — here’s what the Bible sas about that. Tarico is a former evangelical christian who is now a psychologist who writes about “the intersection between religious belief, psychology and politics, with a growing focus on women’s issues and contraceptive technologies that she thinks are upstream game changers for a broad range of challenges that humanity faces.”

In her lengthy essay, Tarico demonstrates that in the Bible women have no function except to bear children and serve men. They are not seen as autonomous human beings who should have choices about any aspect of their lives. We all know this, but reading the biblical examples she gives is still highly enlightening.

More interesting reads, links only:

The Intercept: Why Did the FBI Spy on James Baldwin?

Raw Story: ‘Women get equal pay’: Rick Perry doesn’t want a bunch of girly fair wage laws ‘jumbling up our code’

People: Donald Trump Reports for Duty (Jury Duty That Is!) After Five Summonses.

Business Insider: ‘Dilbert’ creator: There’s a ‘clown genius’ behind Donald Trump’s campaign — and it’s why he’s unstoppable.

Washington Post: State Department flags 305 more Clinton e-mails for review. (Go down several paragraphs and you’ll learn that none of the emails were classified at the time and Clinton is not being accused of any wrongdoing. The review of the emails is simply for the purpose of deciding what material should be released under the Freedom of Information Act.)

Reuters, via Raw Story: Scott Walker tries channelling Trump in attempt to kick-start sinking campaign.

Bankok Post: Bangkok blast: the Hindu shrine beloved by Buddhists.

USA Today: Police release footage of suspect in Bangkok bombing.

Matter: I Watched 14 Police Officers Take Down a One-Legged Homeless Black Man Outside Twitter HQ.

NPR: For The First Time, Women Will Graduate From Army’s Rigorous Ranger School.

What stories are you following today?

 


Tuesday Reads: Black Lives Matter More Than Candidates’ Hurt Feelings

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Good Morning!!

There has been quite a bit of discussion the past couple of days about the protesters who have been disrupting speeches by Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley. Why aren’t they doing this to Republicans? Why are they being so rude to Bernie Sanders, who many years ago marched for civil rights? There are people responding to these questions. Will the white people doing the questioning listen to the answers?

Here’s one response from Jamil Smith at The New Republic: #BlackLivesMatter Protesters Are Not the Problem. One year after Michael Brown’s death, both liberals and conservatives are still getting it wrong.

The activist group #BlackLivesMatter emerged out of the rage and mourning that accompanied George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the murder of Trayvon Martin more than three years ago. However, the first time that the hashtag—and its accompanying message—entered the American lexicon to stay was one year ago this past Sunday, when Michael Brown, another unarmed black teenager, was gunned down by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer, less than one month after an NYPD chokehold took Eric Garner’s life. On Sunday night, Ferguson reverted to its younger, violent self again, complete with a commemorative protest on West Florissant Avenue being met with police and things turning tragically violent in short order. And two days before the anniversary of Brown’s death, Christian Taylor became the 24th unarmed black man killed by police in 2015.

We might not have heard about Taylor in previous years because attention on black men, women, and children suffering violence and death at the hands of police, in particular, is now at a level unseen perhaps since the 1999 killing of Amadou Diallo. That’s backed up by a new Gallup pollindicating that Americans describing themselves as “satisfied with the way blacks are treated in U.S. society” is lower than it’s been since before the turn of the millennium. Ever since Ferguson, it’s evident that #BlackLivesMatter, in many respects, has worked.

In the last year, #BlackLivesMatter has—much like Occupy years beforehand—fundamentally changed the national conversation about a major societal ill. The movement has made millions of people aware of the white supremacy they either perpetuate themselves or support with their silence. With the emergence of the 2016 presidential campaign, #BlackLivesMatter’s demands have become more acutely focused on the candidates, pushing for policy platforms that address structural racism. Yet, as we mark one year since Brown’s death, we’ve seen both liberals and conservatives—from Senator Bernie Sanders’ supporters to Dr. Ben Carson’s—painting #BlackLivesMatter as a divisive force in U.S. racial relations. That someone might consider those fighting racism to be more divisive than racist people or structures would be laughable if black men in America weren’t seven times more likely to die by cop than white men.

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Yes, supporters of Bernie Sanders are upset that his events have been disrupted by black women protesting the killing of black men and women by police officers. Supposedly Sanders wants radical changes in the system, buit what are his proposals for changing structural racism in law enforcement?

More from Jamil Smith:

Sanders, given to touting his record of working for civil rights and uttering names like Sandra Bland since the Netroots incident, experienced a second interruption during a planned event in Seattle on Saturday. Two women and one man claiming affiliation with #BlackLivesMatter disrupted the event before the Vermont senator could speak. Some Sanders backers in the crowd booed when they were told that one of the women, Marissa Johnson, would get her say before the candidate. “Bernie, you were confronted at Netroots at by black women,” Johnson said before adding, “you have yet to put out a criminal justice reform package like O’Malley did.”

Having already responded to the crowd’s boos by telling them that they proved how “racist” the reputably liberal Seattle is, Johnson also called for a four-and-one-half minute-long moment of silence for Brown. Instead, more shouting from the crowd followed, including, per reports, shouts of “arrest her.” Sanders, rather than letting the protesters have their say and responding, left the stage. The event concluded without him speaking. A chorus of his supporters took to social media to question Johnson’s tactics—as if that’s what mattered most—and to tell anyone who dared question why Sanders didn’t have a set of racial-justice proposals that they somehow already existed. They were wrong.

A page entitled “Racial Justice” only appeared on his site early Sunday morning, containing a long list of proposals. A campaign representative reached out to me to say that those proposals, in the works for the three weeks since Netroots, were derived from a speech that’s been on the site since July 25. Given the pressure being put on them and the urgency they showed in creating the platform, it’s odd that the campaign put it online, essentially, under the cover of darkness.

The policies on Sanders’s racial justice page, while surely more welcome than none at all, are undeniably blurrier than those O’Malley put forth, and need considerably more specificity and clarity. There’s a lot of the typically forcefully liberal language Sanders likes to employ in order to inspire, but it seems even more fanciful than the O’Malley plan. But those ideas are certainly signs that he is hearing #BlackLivesMatter’s message. The problem isn’t so much him as it is his supporters, cursing protesters and later, on social media, touting their guy’s record whenever they are challenged on his (heretofore) lack of a platform regarding structural racism.

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Please go read the whole article if you want to understand the anger of the #BlackLivesMatter protesters. Personally, I didn’t know that the movement began long before the killing of Michael Brown. Here’s some background from one of the founders in a piece at The Feminist Wire dated October 7, 2014: A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement by Alicia Garza.

I created #BlackLivesMatter with Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, two of my sisters, as a call to action for Black people after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was post-humously placed on trial for his own murder and the killer, George Zimmerman, was not held accountable for the crime he committed. It was a response to the anti-Black racism that permeates our society and also, unfortunately, our movements.

Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.  It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.

We were humbled when cultural workers, artists, designers and techies offered their labor and love to expand #BlackLivesMatter beyond a social media hashtag. Opal, Patrisse, and I created the infrastructure for this movement project—moving the hashtag from social media to the streets. Our team grew through a very successful Black Lives Matter ride, led and designed by Patrisse Cullors and Darnell L. Moore, organized to support the movement that is growing in St. Louis, MO, after 18-year old Mike Brown was killed at the hands of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. We’ve hosted national conference calls focused on issues of critical importance to Black people working hard for the liberation of our people.  We’ve connected people across the country working to end the various forms of injustice impacting our people.  We’ve created space for the celebration and humanization of Black lives.

As their slogan spread to the mainstream, the creaters of the #BlackLivesMatter movement saw others trying to change the meaning of their words:

BlackLivesMatter-5

The Theft of Black Queer Women’s Work

Suddenly, we began to come across varied adaptations of our work–all lives matter, brown lives matter, migrant lives matter, women’s lives matter, and on and on. While imitation is said to be the highest form of flattery, I was surprised when an organization called to ask if they could use “Black Lives Matter” in one of their campaigns. We agreed to it, with the caveat that a) as a team, we preferred that we not use the meme to celebrate the imprisonment of any individual and b) that it was important to us they acknowledged the genesis of  #BlackLivesMatter.  I was surprised when they did exactly the opposite and then justified their actions by saying they hadn’t used the “exact” slogan and, therefore, they deemed it okay to take our work, use it as their own, fail to credit where it came from, and then use it to applaud incarceration.

I was surprised when a community institution wrote asking us to provide materials and action steps for an art show they were curating, entitled “Our Lives Matter.”  When questioned about who was involved and why they felt the need to change the very specific call and demand around Black lives to “our lives,” I was told the artists decided it needed to be more inclusive of all people of color. I was even more surprised when, in the promotion of their event, one of the artists conducted an interview that completely erased the origins of their work–rooted in the labor and love of queer Black women.

Read more at the link.

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Has Bernie Sanders responded to the prosecution of African American journalist Wesley Lowery yet? From yesterday’s Washington Post:

A Washington Post reporter who was arrested at a restaurant last year while reporting on protests in Ferguson, Mo., has been charged in St. Louis County with trespassing and interfering with a police officer and ordered to appear in court.

Wesley Lowery, a reporter on The Post’s national desk, was detained in a McDonald’s while he was in Missouri covering demonstrations sparked by a white police officer fatally shooting an unarmed black 18-year-old.

A court summons dated Aug. 6 — just under a year after Lowery’s arrest — was sent to Lowery, 25, ordering him to appear in a St. Louis County municipal court on Aug. 24. The summons notes that he could be arrested if he does not appear.

“Charging a reporter with trespassing and interfering with a police officer when he was just doing his job is outrageous,” Martin Baron, executive editor of The Post, said in a statement Monday. “You’d have thought law enforcement authorities would have come to their senses about this incident. Wes Lowery should never have been arrested in the first place. That was an abuse of police authority.

“This latest action represents contemptible overreaching by prosecutors who seem to have no regard for the role of journalists seeking to cover a major story and following normal practice,” Baron continued.

It seems the powers that be in Ferguson have learned very little. Democratic candidates should address this issue and so should Bernie  Sanders, independent socialist.

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I’ll end with this post by Melissa McEwan at Shakesville: Sanders and #BlackLivesMatter, Again.

I can understand why Sanders was aggravated that his event was disrupted, and I can understand why people who had been waiting for an hour and a half to hear him speak were aggravated that his event was disrupted. But here’s the thing: If you are positioning yourself as a candidate who advocates for radical change, or you are supporting a candidate on the basis that he advocates for radical change, then surely you should be able to get on board with providing space to people who are involved with a campaign that advocates radical change.

If disrupting a rally is too radical for you, I don’t know how you expect to disrupt systems of institutional oppression, which will take way the hell more than an unexpected change in a campaign event schedule.

Don’t pretend you’re supporting revolution when you’re really just supporting a change in management.

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Sanders then released a “Statement on Seattle Protesters,” reading in total: “I am disappointed that two people disrupted a rally attended by thousands at which I was invited to speak about fighting to protect Social Security and Medicare. I was especially disappointed because on criminal justice reform and the need to fight racism there is no other candidate for president who will fight harder than me.”

I’m going to go ahead and say: Maybe that’s true! Maybe there really is no other candidate currently running for president who will fight harder for dismantling racism than Bernie Sanders! Maybe it’s also true that each of the candidates currently running will take different approaches, and, because the activists involved with #BlackLivesMatter aren’t a monolith, there will be disagreement on whose approach is best. And maybe, no matter how good any of the white Democratic presidential candidates are on racial issues, it won’t be good enough. Maybe the inescapable fact is that white people must let black people speak on the large platforms created by and for white candidates.

Again, please go read the whole thing, especially if you are supporting Sanders. Personally, I support Hillary Clinton. I like Bernie, but I think it’s time for a woman President of the U.S. Sanders has no chance to win the Democratic nomination–he’s not even a Democrat! But he isn’t the problem. The problem is his supporters, who remind me of the Obamabots of 2008. Let Bernie handle this situation. My guess is he’ll respond to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, because he’s an intelligent man. He’ll probably get it right in the long run. I think Hillary Clinton will too.

This is an open thread. Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comments to this post, and have a great day.


Tuesday Reads: #BlackLivesMatter

BlackWomenMatterTwitterphoto

Good Morning!!

Before I get going with my post, I want to note that Hillary will be hosting a Facebook chat this afternoon. You can post questions and read about it here.

Now to today’s reads. While the Sandra Bland case is still being investigated in Texas, another young black woman has died in police custody and once again authorities are claiming it was a suicide.

NewsOne: Another Black Woman Dies In Jail Cell, Alabama Police Claim It Was Suicide.

Authorities in Alabama claim a teen committed suicide in a jail cell an hour after being arrested, another suspicious case of a Black woman dying in police custody in the past week.

Kindra Darnell Chapman, 18, was jailed last Tuesday for allegedly stealing someone’s phone on the street, according to the Huffington Post. Chapman was charged with first-degree robbery and was last seen alive at 6:30 p.m. When officers went to check on Chapman an hour later, she was found unresponsive.

Chapman was pronounced dead at Brookwood Medical Center from apparent asphyxiation.

Kindra Chapman

Kindra Chapman

At the New York Times, Charles Blow writes, Sandra and Kindra: Suicides or Something Sinister?

Although the mantra “Black Lives Matter” was developed by black women, I often worry that in the collective consciousness it carries with it an implicit masculine association, one that renders subordinate or even invisible the very real and concurrent subjugation and suffering of black women, one that assigns to these women a role of supporter and soother and without enough space or liberty to express and advocate for their own.

Last week, the prism shifted a bit, as America and the social justice movement focused on the mysterious cases of two black women who died in police custody.

The first and most prominent was Sandra Bland, a black woman from suburban Chicago who had moved to Texas to take a job at her alma mater, Prairie View A & M University, a historically black school about 50 miles northwest of Houston.

Is it just a coincidence that a young black woman died similarly in an Alabama jail cell?

Then, there was the case of 18-year-old Kindra Chapman, arrested on Tuesday in Alabama for allegedly stealing a cellphone. According to AL.com: “Jailers last saw her alive at 6:30 p.m. She was found unresponsive at 7:50 p.m. Authorities said she used a bed sheet to hang herself.” According to the paper, she had been booked in the Homewood City Jail at 6:22 p.m.

The deaths seem odd: young women killing themselves after only being jailed only a few days or a less than a couple hours, before a trial or conviction, for relatively minor crimes.

And the official explanations that they were suicides run counter to prevailing patterns of behavior as documented by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which has found that, on the whole, men are more likely to commit suicide in local jails than women, young people are less likely to do so than older people, and black people are the least likely to do so than any other racial or ethnic group.

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I think these two similar deaths of black women need to be closely examined by independent investigators from the Department of Justice.

As Blow noted, the tragic deaths of Sandra and Kindra call attention to the fact that the lives of black women as well as black men are in danger when they come in contact with police. Even if these women did commit suicide, most likely neither would have been in jail if they were white. Would a policeman have stopped a white woman for not signaling a late change and then slammed her head on the pavement as a Texas officer did to Sandra Bland? I don’t think so.

Over the weekend, I read a long article at the Huffington Post about what happens to young people who end up in the adult prison system. It’s a shocking and heartbreaking story, and it’s extremely important. I hope you’ll read it, because I can’t possibly do it justice with excerpts.

Cruel And All-Too-Usual: A Terrifying Glimpse Into Life In Prison–As a Kid,  Story by Dana Liebelson, Art by Luke Tedaldi. The story is also accompanied by graphic videos. Here’s the introductory section of the story:

When the video above was filmed, the girl on the bed was 17 years old. For the purposes of this story, I’ll call her Jamie. There was a time when she liked acting in goofy comedy skits at her Detroit church or crawling into bed with her grandmother to watch TV. She loved to sing—her favorite artist was Chris Brown—but she was too shy to perform in front of other people.

Jamie, whose mother was addicted to crack cocaine, was adopted when she was 3. At high school, she fell in with a wayward crowd and started drinking and smoking weed. Since she didn’t always get along with her adoptive mom, she lived with a close family friend from her church whom she referred to as her sister. One fall day in 2011, they got into a bad fight over their living arrangements. The friend told police that Jamie threw a brick at her, hitting her in the chest, and then banged the brick so hard on the front door that she broke the glass mail chute. Jamie denies the assault—and the police report notes that the brick may not have hit her friend—but she admitted to officers that she was “mad” and “trying to get back in the house.” The Wayne County court gave her two concurrent six-month sentences, for assault and destruction of a building.

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In a wealthier Michigan county, kids convicted of minor offenses are almost always sentenced to community service, like helping out at the local science center. Doug Mullkoff, a criminal defense attorney in Ann Arbor, told me that prison in such circumstances is “virtually unheard of.” But Jamie is from Detroit, and in January 2012, she was sent to the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility, a prison that holds inmates convicted of crimes like first-degree homicide. From this point onward, her world was largely governed by codes and practices and assumptions designed for adult criminals.

Jamie is 20 now, but her soft brown eyes make her seem younger. When she first came to prison, women old enough to be her mother told her she was cute and promised to take care of her. “They rub on you and stuff, I can’t stand it,” she said. In the seven months before her 18th birthday, prison records show that Jamie was housed with at least three adult cellmates, including one in her 50s who had a history of cocaine possession. Jamie said she was also around adults in the showers and the yard. She had a bunkmate who did drugs she had never been around before, “something you snort.”

In this environment, Jamie found it hard to stay out of trouble. And when trouble came, she didn’t know how to explain herself to the guards. According to Chris Gautz, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), Jamie “failed in every instance” to meet good-behavior standards that under Michigan law allow certain inmates to have their records scrubbed clean after they serve their sentences. In June 2012, Jamie’s special status was revoked and she was resentenced to up to five years in prison for her original crime.

When this news sank in, Jamie snapped.

Remember this?

Remember this?

That led to the scene in the video, in which Jamie was essentially tortured by prison employees during their efforts to control her. This scene is just one example of the horrible treatment that minors receive in the U.S. prison system, as more and more juveniles are tried and sentenced as adults. Liebelson writes:

In the course of reporting on a lawsuit against the Michigan prison system, I obtained a series of videos depicting the treatment of underage inmates in adult facilities, as well as hundreds of prison documents through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and other sources. (Jamie is a plaintiff in the lawsuit.) These materials show under-18-year-olds being restrained, held in solitary confinement, forcibly extracted from their cells, tasered, and allegedly sexually assaulted. Some of these incidents would not violate any official rulebook, but are simply accepted practices inside adult correctional institutions.

In 1822, when prison reformers in New York proposed the nation’s first juvenile institution, they saw the need to keep children separate from adults as “too obvious to require any argument.” The juvenile justice system was founded on the idea that young people are capable of change, and so society has a responsibility to help them overcome early mistakes in life. More recent science has only confirmed this principle. Because adolescents’ brains are still developing, their patterns of behavior not yet fixed, they have a far better chance of being rehabilitated than adults. And yet this potential is lost in prisons and jails, which barely recognize any distinction between adults and minors. Amy Fettig, senior counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project, said, “The adult system is not designed in any way, shape or form to treat children, to rehabilitate children, or to recognize that children are different than adults.”

That is no longer the case in our country.  Children are thrown into prisons with adults who take advantage of them and prison authorities who have no training in dealing with teenage offenders. As always in our system, the situation is likely to be worse for African American than white young people. I hope you will take the time to read this important story.

Kelvin Sewell, author, homicide cop, and recently fired police chief.

Kelvin Sewell, author, homicide cop, and recently fired police chief.

A few days ago, The Washington Post published a story that demonstrates that law enforcement personnel who are black can also face greater challenges than white officers and administrators.

Racial turmoil in Md.’s ‘Friendliest Town’ after black police chief is fired.

— The crowd gathered outside City Hall last week, demanding that their community’s first black police chief — fired amid allegations leveled against white officers of departmental racism — be given his job back.

In a place that bills itself as the “Friendliest Town on the Eastern Shore,” angry residents marched with posters that read “We Support Chief Kelvin Sewell” and jammed inside the quaint red-brick building to voice their outrage to the Pocomoke City Council.

Pocomoke City has been on edge since Sewell was fired by the council June 29. According to the former chief and his supporters, he was sacked for refusing to dismiss two black officers who described working in a hostile environment.

The chief was fired because he supported the two officers in an EEOC complaint!

The officers alleged in complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that they faced racism that was overt and rampant — allegations the city denies. Among the incidents alleged: a food stamp superimposed with President Obama’s face that was left on a black detective’s desk and a text message that read, “What is ya body count nigga?”

“This is one of the most egregious cases of primary racial discrimination and retaliation for assertion of rights before the EEOC that I’ve seen,” said Andrew G. McBride, co-counsel for the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, which is representing Sewell. “Chief Sewell has a fantastic record as a police officer. He was terminated because he stood up for two African American officers who filed an EEOC complaint.”

It’s unbelievable! We’ve gone through nearly 8 years with our first African American President, and concurrently we’ve seen shocking levels of overt racism come to the fore in this country. We’ve seen one political party basically surrender to the racism of its political base. Where do we go from here? Where do we start to change this?

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread and have a good day.