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mass black incarceration

Freedom Rider: Who Prosecutes the Prosecutors?

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

There are many tens of thousands of prisoners unjustly serving sentences “twice as long as any of the Central Park Five victims.” Mass Black incarceration is inseparable from official and societal corruption. Cops and, especially, prosecutors “are never charged when they suborn perjury, falsify evidence, threaten witnesses and use the power of the state in a myriad of ways to prevent mostly poor, black people from getting justice.

 

Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 6/30/14

 

Detroit Financial Dictator Uses Water as Weapon

The water cut-offs that could soon affect 30,000 Detroit households are “an effort on the part of the Emergency Financial Manager to intimidate people, to drive even more people out of the city – but, moreover, it is aimed at privatizing and breaking up the Detroit Water and Sewage Department,” said Abayomi Azikiwe, an organizer for the Moratorium Now Coalition and editor of the Pan African News Wire. A United Nations panel of experts called the shut-offs “an affront to human rights.”

Empower the Urban Renting Majority

A new report on housing calls for a change in government policies that favor homeowners over renters. Titled “Renter Nation: Solutions to the Housing Affordability Crisis,” the report outlines “models of cooperative housing that allow for people to build wealth and also maintain an investment in the community they live in, and to maintain the housing that they live in as affordable for the people who come after them,” said Rachel LeForest, executive director of the Right to the City Alliance.

Socialist Takes on Washington State Speaker of House

“What’s lacking in state houses across the country are unambiguous fighters for working people and others who are disenfranchised,” said Jess Spear, the Socialist Alternative candidate for Washington House Speaker Frank Chopp’s seat. In 2012, Chopp won 70 percent of the vote against Socialist Alternative’s Kshama Sawant, who went on to win a seat on the Seattle City Council and passage of a $15 an hour municipal minimum wage. Spear said Chopp has failed to move a $12 an hour state minimum wage out of committee. “It really exposes him and the rest of the Democratic Party as just grandstanding and paying lip service to what working people need and deserve,” she said.

Mass Conspiracy Charges in Harlem

Residents of two Harlem housing projects remain outraged over a 400-officer police raid that resulted in attempted murder, weapons and conspiracy charges against more than 100 young people. “They’re charging everybody with the crimes of a couple of people. It’s like you’re guilty by association,” said Angela Dunmore, at a press conference called by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network. New York City authorities “feel threatened by two or more Black men together – and that is not fair.”

H. Rap Brown/Jamil al-Amin Seriously Ill in Super-Max

The former chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Minister of Justice of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, and revolutionary icon formerly known as H. Rap Brown, is seriously ill with a gum infection that has spread through his body. Jamil al-Amin’s “outspoken defense of self-defense earned him the eternal enmity of the government,” said political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal, in a report for Prison Radio. Al-Amin is serving a life sentence at the federal super-max prison in Florence, Colorado, in the shooting of two Atlanta policemen.

Why “Freedom Summer” Activists Chose Voter Registration over Direct Action

Fifty years ago, organizers with SNCC and other civil rights organizations brought 1,000 mostly white students to Mississippi to assist in registering Black voters. On The Real News Network, former SNCC field director Bob Moses told host Paul Jay that activists considered mounting a direct action civil disobedience campaign instead of voter registration. “They were faced with whether they wanted to do the Nelson Mandela,” said Moses. “If they were going to do direct action, then they’ve got to stay in jail for a long time.”

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The Obamas’ Race to the Bottom

by Sikivu Hutchinson

Michelle Obama’s recent speech on the anniversary of the Brown decision gave every indication that she understands structural racism and injustice in education. However, her husband’s Race to the Top program has “opened the floodgates to privatization, dumbed-down curricula, and a permanent regime of high stakes testing which undermines teacher creativity and guts teachers’ unions.”

Black Like Me: Black Immigration Conference in Miami

by Pascal Robert

Photos by Kevin Banatte[Dream Defenders Communications

Relentless forces, internal and external, seek to pit Black Americans and immigrants against one another. However, many immigrants are Black and subject to the same mass incarceration policies as African Americans. “Immigration is a racial justice issue that needs a progressive African American voice,” according to a just-concluded conference in Miami.

Jail the Bankers? Obama Has Been Their Staunchest Defender

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

In the second half of his second term, Obama and his crew seek to rewrite the history of his administration. Attorney General Eric Holder now declares that no bank is too big to jail. But the reality is, Wall Street’s “impunity is infinite. Holder and Obama work for them.”

Examining the Existence of Fascism in the United States

by Danny Haiphong

Is the U.S. a fascist society? It’s a classic fit – a country where “the relationship between the state and corporation becomes indiscernible,” militarism is the highest value, and demonization of the Other is the organizing principle of the ruling circles and state.

Lynch Law: The Root of US imperialism

by Danny Haiphong

Domestic U.S. lynch has morphed into imperialist terrorism. “Washington uses a nexus of intelligence and military institutions to lynch the world's people of their lives and resources.”

Decriminalizing Small Quantities of Marijuana

by Seema Sadanandan

In the nation’s capital, police are now forbidden to cite the smell of marijuana has the basis for a search. “It is the first decriminalization bill in the country to prohibit police from stopping, questioning, and searching people based on the alleged smell of marijuana alone.”

Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 3/31/14

Black Preachers Say Marissa Alexander Should Cop a Plea

Calling her case a “distraction,” a group of Black ministers in Jacksonville, Florida, are urging Marissa Alexander, who has already served three years in prison for firing a gun to deter her abusive husband, to plead guilty. Prosecutor Angela Corey is threatening to put Alexander away for 60 years. Opio Sokoni, president of the local Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said Corey and the ministers make “strange bedfellows.” “Some of these pastors are the same ones that said, not too many weeks ago, that Black people should received the death penalty in greater numbers,” said Sokoni.

Moral Mondays Move to Georgia and South Carolina

Nearly 40 people were arrested in demonstrations demanding that southern states expand Medicaid to cover more poor people, in line with Obamacare. Moral Mondays protests, which began in North Carolina, have taken root in Georgia and South Carolina. Author and activist Kevin Alexander Gray said “the poorest of the poor” are hard to organize. “That group doesn’t have the financial wherewithal to come to a protest,” he said. “They’re not thinking about a protest, they’re thinking about survival.”

Oil and Environmental Racism in Albany, NY

Huge numbers of railroad oil tanker cars are parked only feet from a poor housing project in Albany, New York, prompting fears of an explosion like the one that claimed dozens of lives in Quebec, Canada, last year. “Since the expansion of fracking in North Dakota” and elsewhere, “ports have received a lot more oil,” said Vivian Kornegay, an Albany councilwoman. “We’re talking about an environmental injustice against low income people living in a housing project,” said Kornegay. “That community hasn’t been given a voice or any consideration” in the shale oil fracking boom.

Temple University Firings Bode Ill for Black Studies

“Temple is a pivotal institution for African American Studies, and what’s happening there may be a bellwether” for other campuses, said Dr. James Turner, founding director of the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University. The recent firings of professors Anthony Monteiro and Muhammad Ahmed (also known as Max Stanford) provoked intense opposition in North Philadelphia’s Black community, which also blames the university for encouraging gentrification.

Obama, Deporter-in-Chief

President Obama “must be made accountable” for deporting more immigrants than any other president in U.S. history, said Jesus Iniguez, of Presente, a Latino organization that claims 300,000 members. Obama doesn’t have much time left to save his legacy, said Iniguez. “The only thing that has evolved these past six years has been more intrusive and toxic laws” targeting immigrant communities.

Afro-Colombians Displaced

“The main demand of Afro-Colombians is land,” said Charo Mina-Rojas, director of the Afro-Colombian Women’s Human Rights Defender Project. “We have been living for centuries on this ancestral land” but are often forced out by paramilitaries and government soldiers in service of multinational corporations, she said. Colombia has the largest population of internally displaced persons in the world, most of them Black.

Mumia on the Mother of All Death Sentences

In a report filed for Prison Radio from Frackville State Prison, in Pennsylvania, political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal noted the 528 bulk death sentences imposed by an Egyptian court against members of the Muslim Brotherhood, “a group that has existed longer than Egypt’s government has been independent. It seems to me the war aint’ over,” said Abu Jamal.

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Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 3/12/14

U.S. Senate “Hypocrisy” Defeated Adegbile Nomination

The U.S. Senate rejected President Obama’s nomination of NAACP Legal Defense Fund lawyer Debo Adegbile to head the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, based on the LDF’s involvement in the defense of political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal. “This clear sends a chilling message in terms of who can be represented” by competent counsel in this country, said Linn Washington, a veteran Philadelphia reporter, Temple University journalism professor, and editor of the influential web site ThisCantBeHappening.net. Washington said some corporate journalists are envious of Abu Jamal, because he “knows more about what’s going on in the world than 95 percent of the journalists out there – and he doesn’t even have access to the Internet.”

In Life or Death, You Can’t Trust Mississippi

When the state coroner of Mississippi refused to do an autopsy on the body of Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, who died February 25, the family sought and found funds for an independent examination. The state’s action was not unusual, said Akinyele Umoja, a close Lumumba family confidant and chair of African American Studies at Georgia State University, because Black “lives are not considered that valuable” in Mississippi. Even if the state were willing to perform the autopsy, “there would still be questions, because it’s a matter of how much we trust them,” said Prof. Umoja. Some Black Mississippians believe Lumumba was assassinated.

Lynne Stewart Shut Out of Medical Care

A “bureaucratic morass” has prevented people’s lawyer Lynne Stewart from gaining access to Medicare or Medicaid since she left federal prison on compassionate release, December 31. Her husband and comrade, Ralph Poynter, said “we have been doing all the homeopathic things we can to beat this” Stage 4 breast cancer. However, Stewart has been told she can’t sign up for federal medical programs until July. “Welcome to America,” said Poynter.

Black Youth More Valuable in Prison

U.S. rulers “don’t want to supply jobs and education to inner city youth,” said Bonnie Kerness, of the American Friends Service Committee Prison Watch Project. “That 15 year-old in Newark is worth nothing on the streets to the United States economy.” However, “you put him behind bars and that kid is generating $30,000 a year” in contracts and wages for the prison industrial complex, said Kerness, author of the recent article, “Race and the Politics of Isolation in U.S. Prisons.”

Bayside is Worst Prison in New Jersey

Jean Ross, a lawyer and activist with the Newark-based People’s Organization for Progress, said some of her clients would rather be put in solitary confinement than be transferred to Bayside State Prison, in the southern part of the state. “The explicitness of racial epithets and the expression of racial hatred seems to be much more pervasive” at Bayside, where vicious beatings are routine, said Ross.

U.S. Proposed Another Coup in Haiti in 2010

The United States backed the 2004 coup that overthrew Jean Bertrand-Aristide, the democratically elected president of Haiti, and then forced him into exile in Africa. Six years later, in 2010, the U.S. attempted to depose Haitian president Rene Preval, and force him out of the country, said Dan Beeton, of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington. “Preval made clear he wasn’t going to be thrown out,” said Beeton, “but it was really diplomats from Brazil and Argentina who stopped this coup from happening.”

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How Barack Obama Killed Trayvon Martin

Tyrone R. Simpson II

By bowing to police power, President Obama guaranteed that official carnage against Black people would continue. If he had “commented on any of the unjust ritualized murders that took the lives of Sean Bell (New York), Oscar Grant (Oakland), Kenneth Chamberlain (New York) or Troy Davis (Georgia), he would have brought the open season on black and brown men and women to a long awaited close.”

Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 3/3/14

“Jackson Rising” Conference Still Scheduled, Despite Mayor Lumumba’s Death

Mayor Chokwe Lumumba’s “Jackson Rising” conference on how to move towards self-determination and participatory democracy “is still on” for May 2-4, according to Kali Akuno, a close aide to Lumumba. “We need the support of progressive and radical and revolutionary people throughout the United States to support us in fulfilling this mission,” said Akuno, who is also a veteran organizer with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, co-founded by Lumumba in 1993. “If you really believe in the ‘Jackson-Kush Plan,’ then you have to understand it is going to take more than one individual to facilitate that.” Mayor Lumumba’s funeral is this Saturday.

Texas Sheriff Widely Suspected in Mutilation Death of Black Man

Sabine County authorities concluded that foul play was not a factor in the death, last November, of 28 year-old Alfred Wright, whose body was found with his eyes gouged out, his tongue severed from his mouth, teeth knocked out, and part of an ear missing. Attention has since focused on Sabine County Sheriff Tom Maddox and state police officers. “When you start looking at consistent lies and cover-up, not only by the sheriff’s department but by the Texas Rangers – we should all be concerned about that,” said Jeffrey L. Boney, associate editor of the Houston Forward Times, which has closely followed the case. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating Wright’s death.

Political Motives Behind Anthony Monteiro Termination

Community and campus activists in Philadelphia are pressing for reversal of Temple University’s effective firing of Dr. Anthony Monteiro, who served for ten years as an associate professor in the African American Studies Department. “As this country moves steadily to the right, the perception is that progressive forces on campuses need to be routed,” said Dr. Gerald Horne, professor of African American Studies at the University of Houston. “To the extent that we don’t speak up for Tony Monteiro, professors like myself are only jeopardizing our own existence,” said Horne. The chair of African American Studies at Temple, Dr. Molefi Asante, was complicit in Dr. Monteiro’s termination.

U.S. to be Confronted at UN on Torture by Solitary Confinement

The United States will have to answer to the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Switzerland, next week, on its policies of mass solitary confinement of prisoners. Efia Wangaza, a member of the U.S. Human Rights Network’s delegation to Geneva, says the U.S. is not in compliance with three international treaties, including covenants against torture. This is “a follow-up to our previous work, in which we were able to challenge the United States on the existence of political prisoners,” said Wangaza, head of the Malcolm X Center for Self-Determination, in Greenville, South Carolina. She asks that listeners help pay the cost of the delegation’s on-site work in Geneva, by going to www.wmxp955.com.

Confederate Flags in Kiev

Washington is engaged in a global campaign of “subversion and destabilization at every level,” said Sara Flounders, of the International Action Center, in New York. The U.S. has long bankrolled protests by rightists in Venezuela, and brags of contributing $5 billion to “democracy” in Ukraine – “that’s really money for subversion,” said Flounders. “These are storm troopers” who “not only hung swastikas but also Confederate flags” in Kiev, where the U.S. is “pushing an extreme neo-Nazi, right-wing agenda.”

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People's Benchmarks, People's Sovereignty: New Jersey’s Occupied School Districts

by Michelle Renee Matisons and Seth Sandronsky

New Jersey pioneered the practice of abolishing democracy in education through state takeovers of mostly minority school districts. “Not only was New Jersey the first U.S. state to implement school district takeover, it has some of the longest occupied districts in the nation.”  

Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 2/10/14

Obama Warps Black American Politics

“Something has gone terribly wrong with African Americans under Barack Obama’s presidency, said former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. In Switzerland, recently, said McKinney, “diaspora Congolese asked me point-blank: ‘What’s wrong with Black people in the United States, that they are allowing this genocide in Congo to take place without saying a word?’” The 2008 Green Party presidential candidate described current Black American indifference to issues of peace and war an historical “aberration.”

U.S. Empire of Global Destruction

Since 9/11, U.S. foreign policy has been dedicated to the “destruction of states,” said Dr. Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois, at Champaign, and author of Destroying Libya and World Order. In Syria, “the agenda is more than regime change; it is to destroy Syria as a state, along the lines of what the U.S. has already done to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Somalia,” said Dr. Boyle.

Socialism Can Feed the World

The planet is capable of feeding all of its people, but not under capitalist relations of production, said Arun Gupta, a contributor to Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA. Gupta, a co-founder of The Indypendent and the Occupied Wall Street Journal, advocates the spread of urban and smaller scale agriculture. “We have to get back to making local food systems primary, and then supplement it with larger scale production” where necessary.

Bratton-de Blasio: Odd Couple?

Robert Gangi, director of the Urban Justice Center’s Police Reform Organizing Project, is “encouraged” by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision not to appeal a federal court ruling on stop-and-frisk, and his appointment of a Deputy Commissioner for Collaborative Policing. Nevertheless, said Gangi, “we need to be vigilant that these steps are not window dressing.” However, the mayor’s recycling of Police Commissioner William Bratton is indefensible, said New Yorkers Against Bratton spokesman Josmar Trujillo. Bratton is “widely credited with being the Godfather of stop-and-frisk” and “already has blood on his hands” from his tour as commissioner in the Nineties, said Trujillo. With his Bratton appointment, de Blasio is attempting to “put a progressive sheen on a very right-wing vision.”

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The “Smarter Sentencing Act”, Wishful Thinking and White House Fakery: Obama as Prison Reformer

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

As the Smarter Sentencing Act moves through Congress, President Obama masquerades as a prison reformer. In reality, the administration “has placed legal roadblocks in the way of release for thousands” and “has no intention of limiting the scope and powers of the Incarceration State.”

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