Tag Archives: Activist

Beyonce’s Dancers Emphasize Black Panthers, Mario Woods, Black Lives Matter at Super Bowl 50

Beyonce’s politically-charged performance on Sunday, which heavily referenced the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panthers at Super Bowl 50, assisted in showcasing the growing activist movements among the black community.

Her “Formation” performance, voicing racial inequality and police brutality towards the black community while also embracing black femininity, put black America center stage in front of 114.4 million viewers at the Super Bowl. During the performance, dancers made an “X” formation in reference to Malcom X while raising their fists in a black pride salute.

After the performance, some of the dancers— dressed in Black Panther-style berets and in black leather— were pictured raising their fists again, yet this time holding a piece of paper that read “Justice 4 Mario Woods.”

This move followed about 200 protesters who had demonstrated in San Francisco on Jan. 30 for Woods. Protesters were out demanding justice and for San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr to be fired.

Mario Woods was a black man shot dead by by five San Francisco police officers during a confrontation in San Francisco last December.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Woods was shot about fifteen times by five officers. Cell phone footage shows him walking away from the police refusing to drop a knife. Activists have argued that he was mentally ill and that the force used by the officers was unnecessary.

Woods supporters have said the cell phone footage showed that Woods was not an imminent danger and was executed by police in a “firing-squad” style. The SFC reported that “Woods’ mother, Gwendolyn Woods, said he was working on getting his life on track after his stint in prison. He had just gotten his uniform for his new UPS job, she said.”

Last Friday, prominent artist and activist Alicia Keys spoke out in solidarity with Black Lives Matter protesters ahead of the Super Bowl while performing at San Francisco’s free Super Bowl City concert.

“I want you to know that I salute everyone who has the courage and conviction to stand for what’s right. I want to thank you for your commitment to making sure justice is done for Mario Woods. As the mother of two black sons it breaks my heart to see what we’ve been seeing, the trouble’s we’ve been seeing on camera, and all the people that we’ll never see.”

This isn’t the first time Alicia Keys or Beyonce have spoken out in solidarity with the black community and Black Lives Matter. Last year, Beyonce and her husband Jay Z reportedly wired “tens of thousands” of dollars to bail protesters out in Baltimore and Ferguson. Jay Z, along with Roc Nation, also recently donated $1.5 million from Tidal Black Lives Matter and other social justice organizations. This donation was made on February 5th in honor of Trayvon Martin’s birthday, who would have turned 21 had he not been shot by George Zimmerman.

[RELATED: Civil Unrest Breaks out in MO After Cop Kills Unarmed Teen]

Beyonce went on to end her performance with announcing her world tour and a new fund to help the children of Flint, Michigan, during the city’s current water crisis.

Sandra Bland Dashcam Footage Appears Edited, Texas DPS Denies Manipulating Footage

Dashcam video of the arrest of Sandra Bland, a woman who was found hanged in her jail cell, is raising even more questions about not only her death, but why Bland was arrested and brought to jail in the first place.

As we have reported, Bland’s death prompted an investigation launched by multiple agencies including the Waller County District Attorney’s Office, The Texas Ranger Division of the state’s Department of Safety and the FBI. Bland was found hanged in a cell at Waller County Jail July 12, where she had been held for three days after an arrest stemming from a traffic stop.

[RELATED: Law Enforcement, FBI Probing Prison Death Of Woman Hanged In Jail Cell]

In the dash-cam video, Bland is reportedly pulled over for failing to signal her lane change.  Bland is clearly aggravated when she is first pulled over. After the officer begins asking her questions about what is wrong, Bland argues with the officer. She also tells the officer that she is not required to say anything to him other than to identify herself.  It should be noted that Bland was correct and that she had no legal obligation to speak to the officer other than to identify herself.

The officer then tells Bland to put out her cigarette, which she refuses to do. Again, Bland is correct when she says that she is in her own vehicle and there is no legal requirement for her to put out the cigarette. But this doesn’t stop the officer from opening her door and demanding Bland exit the vehicle.  At one point he holds his taser at her yelling, “I will light you up if you don’t get out of the car.”

Multiple news agencies, including several local news stations and larger outlets such as NBC, CBS, The Guardian, Time, The Los Angeles Times and CNN, have pointed to several inconsistencies and anomalies within the video, posing the question of whether or not the video released by the Texas Department of Public Safety was edited.

Independent journalist Ben Norton provided several separate clips that appear to show disparities. In one of the clips, “a man leaves the truck in the center of the frame at 25:05. For the next 15 seconds, he walks toward the right of the frame and leaves. At 25:19, he suddenly appears again, promptly disappears, then returns at 25:22. The same footage of him walking is subsequently repeated”:

Norton offered another clip seen below. “This is 33:02-33:12 in the footage released by the Texas Department of Public Safety. A white car enters the frame and disappears twice, returning a third time,” Norton wrote.

“It appears that someone cut footage out and looped part of the video in order to correspond with the recorded audio of Texas state trooper Brian Encinia speaking,” Norton wrote.

[UPDATE: Texas DPS Replaces Original Dashcam Video Of Sandra Bland Arrest]

The Texas Department Of Safety denied that any editing took place. The video inconsistencies were “glitches in the recording” that “occurred when it was uploaded for public viewing,” according to DPS spokesman Tom Vinger.

Already in admitting wrongdoing, the Waller County Sheriff’s Department has acknowledged that traffic stop procedures and courtesy policies were violated. The officer in this video, identified as Brian Encinia, has been assigned to desk duty.

While Bland’s death was originally ruled as a suicide, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said that the inquiry “is being treated like a murder investigation.” Mathis noted, however, that “It is very much too early to make any kind of determination that this was a suicide or a murder because the investigations are not complete.”

Annabelle Bamforth contributed to this report.

Colorado Obamacare Advocate Loses Insurance Plan

“If you like your insurance plan, you can keep it” is becoming the most notorious political lie since “Read my lips, no new taxes.”  Millions of Americans nationwide – and about 250,000 in Colorado alone – are losing their health coverage as a result of Obamacare.  In some cases, this has extended to the very people who championed the program hardest.

One of these people is Kathy Wagner.  A now-retired nurse of 35 years, Wagner and her husband are fairly healthy, and strongly supported Obamacare when it was being passed.  When it was implemented, however, their insurance company dropped their coverage.  To buy a similar plan, the Wagners must now pay over $1000/month – 35% more – and their deductible is still higher.

Saying her “hopes were dashed,” Wagner sent a letter to President Obama.  She spent five years arguing against people who told her costs weren’t actually going to go down, and that people would actually lose their coverage, and that Obamacare was “moving us back instead of moving us forward,” in her own words.  Now she finds herself in the position of those whose concerns she was trivializing just two months ago, and for the first time in her life, is considering just going without health insurance.

Her Representative, Diana DeGette, who sits on the committee which oversees Obamacare, simply responded to her concerns by saying that “a year from now people overall are going to be very, very happy with the way the Affordable Care Act is working.”

Wagner is far from unique, even among people who supported the ACA.  Jared Polis, who represents Colorado’s Second Congressional District, recently tried to lower the healthcare exchange rates for one of the most affluent and liberal counties in his district because people there were simply walking out the door after looking at the coverage rates, which significantly exceeded $500/month per person.  Polis helped write Obamacare.

Harry Reid has said Obamacare would and should lead to a single payer system, similar to those found in France and the UK.  The left has begun to say that Obamacare was a right-wing idea, and that Democrats only pursued it as an attempt to compromise, though their plan would have been cheaper and more effective.  Through these statements, it’s clear that the problems of Obamacare will only be used as a justification for increased government intervention, when it has been government intervention which caused problems with healthcare every step of the way.

Both Parties have failed to implement free market solutions to fix the challenge of healthcare affordability. While the left seeks a complete single payer system, Republicans continue to block outside competition in many states giving unfair advantages to big companies. In South Carolina for example,  BlueCross BlueShield gave a total $1,448,488 from 2004-2012 to lobby SC legislators according to followthemoney.org. This partnership of lobbyist and business prevents the competition needed to lower prices for the consumer.  South Carolina Republican senators also had the opportunity to nullify Obamacare, but chose to let it die in the senate.

Sen. Tom Davis (R-SC) is fighting to get a bill passed next session that will nullify Obamacare. Recently Ron Paul suggested that states should nullify Obamacare as well.