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Freedom Rider: Kwadir Felton and Cory Booker

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    by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

    Kwadir Felton, one of Sen. Cory Booker’s constituents, faces 30 years in prison for allegedly assaulting the Jersey City police who shot and blinded him. But Felton can expect no constituent services from Booker. Black people demand next to nothing from their politicians. “Booker has no reason to lift a finger for this young man unless he knows he will pay a price for inaction.”

     

    Freedom Rider: Kwadir Felton and Cory Booker

    by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

    Other races and religious and ethnic groups can guarantee that no member of their community would face what Kwadir Felton has experienced without being championed by their people in power.”

    In nations around the world, thousands of people will demonstrate in anger if the police do harm to a citizen. Not so in the United States. In this country a uniform provides a license to maim and to kill. American police routinely beat, taser and shoot people and no one even knows how often these assaults take place. The same government which tells us how many times police are shot doesn’t keep statistics on how often the rest of us may become victims. An estimate from 2011 indicates that American police shot 1,100 people, killing 607 of them.

    Kwadir Felton is one of those shooting victims. In 2010 the then 18-year old was shot in the head by a police officer in Jersey City, New Jersey. Felton lost his eyesight as a result of the shooting but his suffering wasn’t over. Prosecutors chose to charge him with assaulting the policeman who blinded him and a jury found him guilty in 2014. He has yet to be sentenced but faces a possible 30 years in prison. Felton’s name should be a household word but his story has relied on mentions here in Black Agenda Report and in social media by a few stalwart activists.

    Felton is not alone. Police surveillance and its resulting brutality leave many victims. A black person dies from extra judicial murder every 28 hours. Black people can be arrested for pursuing perfectly legal activities such as spending their own money in high end stores. Floridian Allen Hicks, Sr. suffered a stroke while driving and was treated as a criminal instead of as a critically ill man. He lay on a jail cell floor without medical treatment for two days and eventually died from lack of care. These stories become more and more common at a time when black people stood down politically. The infamous stand your ground laws are a result not just of the machinations of racist, angry, white people but of the decline of black political engagement.

    The case of Kwadir Felton ought to stir activism and righteous anger but instead has been met with muted attention. The era when his case would have been a cause celebre passed long ago. Black people have settled for the crumbs of seeing some success among others in their group, allowing the false joy of seeing a black face in a high place to replace demands for justice.

    The infamous stand your ground laws are a result not just of the machinations of racist, angry, white people but of the decline of black political engagement.”

    That satisfaction with the success of a small cohort has done terrible damage to the masses. New Jersey has black elected officials in office, including Cory Booker, a United States senator. Other races and religious and ethnic groups can guarantee that no member of their community would face what Kwadir Felton has experienced without being championed by their people in power. No such luck exists for black people in New Jersey or elsewhere.

    Booker is well known to any reader of the Black Agenda Report. He came seemingly out of nowhere in 2002 before being narrowly defeated in a Newark mayoral race. He eventually won that office and was elected a United States senator in 2013. He may have been little known by the public but he was very good friends of the 1%, the people whose water he still happily carries. Booker was and is a fund raising juggernaut, fetching millions of dollars from supporters of privatized education and the financial services industry. He even went so far as to sing the praises of Mitt Romney’s infamous Bain Capital during the 2012 presidential election.

    What good does it do to have black people in exalted and prestigious places if they do nothing to help the rest of their community? Kwadir Felton certainly doesn’t benefit from Booker’s presence or apparently from the presence of any black mayor, state legislator or member of congress from New Jersey.

    Every black elected official in that state should be fighting for justice for Kwadir Felton and for the others like him whose stories remain aren’t told. The prosecutors who put Felton on trial should fear everything from public ridicule to job loss if they ever thought to act as they have done but they know they have no reason for concern even when they act like criminals themselves.

    The preachers who brag about having access to the halls of power should be asked what they have done for Felton.”

    If Cory Booker cared at all about his black constituents, justice, or morality Felton would have no fear of imprisonment. In a state with a powerful gubernatorial office, a call to Chris Christie ought to bring some justice to this horribly unjust situation. But Booker has no reason to lift a finger for this young man unless he knows he will pay a price for inaction.

    History teaches that we can give power to people in dire circumstances such as this if we speak for them and in a loud voice. Felton’s attorneys have filed their second motion requesting a new trial, having presented evidence of a taint in the jury pool. While they wait to hear a decision on that motion there should be demands made of all the people in positions of power to free him from grave injustice. Cory Booker should be told to intercede on Felton’s behalf. The state legislators and mayors should be asked to do the same thing. The preachers who brag about having access to the halls of power should be asked what they have done for Felton.

    What good does it do to have senators or presidents who look like us and get our votes as a result but who do nothing to help us in our time of need? Black Americans should expect no less from their leaders. Perhaps Kwadir Felton should claim to be a charter school company owner or an investment banker. That may be the only way he can get his senator’s attention.

    Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

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    Police State Nation . . . The

    Police State Nation . . .

    The following is another harrowing story (found on kulturekritic.com) of a young man caught up in the police state.  This guy was simply being a Good Samaritan and is charged with murder despite the shooting victim saying over and over he didn't do it.  As of last week, he was still being held in solitary confinement.  Anyone with any legal contacts should please pass along this story to try to help Mr. Nyamodi.

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    Young Black Man In Jail For Attempted Murder After Victim States He Didn’t Do It

    By Yolanda Spivey

    In April 2012, Shannon Zach Nyamodi had just graduated high school, was working as an electrician’s assistant, and was part of a musical band that played in local clubs around his quaint North Carolina town. He was slated to join the military in November of that year. But instead of going through with his projected plans, 18 year old Shannon found himself sitting in a jail cell for a crime his family and friends said that he did not commit.

    On August 16, 2012, Shannon had just come from a gig with his band and had fallen asleep in his truck which was parked at his friend’s home. He was awakened by the sounds of gunshots and quickly looked around to see a white woman from the adjacent home running towards the house where he was located. Blood was pouring from her head. Shannon exited his truck and ran towards the woman, who told him that she had been shot and that her “daughter” was responsible. When Shannon looked towards the woman’s home, he saw a white male fleeing the scene.

    Shannon called 911 and tried to console the lady while help arrived. All the while, the victim kept telling him over and over again that her 15 year old daughter had “set her up.”

    The victim worked for a dentist’s office and was known to carry large amounts of cash on her. Those close to her knew that she kept the cash in her home. It’s alleged that her 15 year old daughter was seen on Facebook weeks earlier asking people on her page if anyone wanted to be paid to shoot her mother.

    Shannon’s mother, Elizabeth Crudup told Your Black World that she thinks the wrong people read the young lady’s post.

    Ms. Crudup explained that after the police arrived, the shooting victim also told them repeatedly that her 15 year old daughter was responsible for the shooting. The police report backs up this statement. Ms. Crudup also states that the police interviewed her son and took a statement from him at the scene of the disturbance. They thought their nightmare was over, but the police came back the next day and arrested Shannon.

    Ms. Crudup stated, “At first we thought they were detaining him to ask more questions. I was in complete utter shock when I went to the police department and they told me they were going to charge him with the shooting of this lady.”

    Shannon was booked on charges that he conspired with the victim’s 15 year old daughter to commit robbery and murder. Shannon had never met the young lady although they did go to the same high-school, which is the only high-school in their small town.

    The Crudup family raised $30,000 and retained the services of an attorney who happened to be a former prosecutor. Ms. Crudup suspects that her attorney is working with the prosecution on this case because on many occasions, the attorney tried to force Shannon to take a plea deal instead of motioning the courts to reduce his hefty $500,000 bail.

    The next week after the shooting occurred, the gun that was used in the shooting and the money that was stolen mysteriously turned up at the sheriff’s office. All the money that was taken was accounted for, and most importantly, Shannon’s DNA wasn’t found on the gun or money.

    Also, countless eyewitnesses in the neighborhood, (which can also be found in the police report), state that a young white male was seen running from the victims home.

    So why is Shannon Nyamodi still sitting in jail?

    Ms. Crudup suspects that the Sherriff’s office is connected in some way to her son’s case and is trying to conceal the identity of the real perpetrators.

    The very same day the crime happened a young white male who matched the description of the person running from the home, was seen in pictures on his Facebook page holding a large amount of cash. The caption of the picture read, “They should arrest me tonight but I guess they are not going to take me in.”

    The young male had a cousin who was just released from jail a week before the crime, and the young man himself was expecting a child. They both are part of a well known gang in the area. They are also suspected to be relatives of someone in the Sheriff’s office.

    Ms. Crudup has a small amount of support in the community. She stated, “people often would come up to me and tell me that they know my son did not do this. The DA even told me that my son had nothing to do with this and that he would be home for Christmas.”

    But that is not the case. Shannon’s case has been completely removed from the Franklin County Courts computer system. And although the DA feels that Shannon is innocent, Ms. Crudup feels that the Assistant D.A. “wants to pen the crime on someone, anyone.”

    Ms. Crudup is asking that anyone out there that can help her with this case, please get into contact with her immediately. She would like to bring her son home in time for the holidays.

    More information on this case can be found on the Crudup family’s website at http://electbeth.wix.com/shannon

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