Activists are picking up momentum with calls to defund police departments across the country. But the problem isn’t just with police departments- it’s the cities and municipalities that use police departments as a source of revenue in order to make budgets.
Why violence is robbing true activists of their moment for change. The violence is not an accident- it is meant to distract and prevent actual change from taking place. Both police and protesters are guilty.
On Wednesday, Ashley Williams, a Black Lives Matter activist, confronted Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during a fundraiser in Charleston, South Carolina before the Democratic primary on Saturday.
Activist Ashley Williams, interrupts private $500 per person speech of Hillary Clinton to ask her why she called Black children "super-predators" 20 years ago? Here's the video… I'll give this a Reality Check next week
During the fundraiser, Williams held up a sign containing a quote from a speech Hillary gave in New Hampshire in 1996. The sign read, “We have to bring them to heel.”
Williams confronted Clinton and said, “I’m not a ‘super predator,’ Hillary Clinton.”
Williams demanded that Clinton apologize for calling black children “super predators” and for “the mass incarceration of black people.”
Clinton responded by saying, “You know what? Nobody’s ever asked me before. You’re the first person to ask me and I’m happy to address it.” But Williams was escorted out by the secret service before she heard any response from Clinton.
Clinton’s comments created a firestorm on social media. The hashtag #WhichHillary started trending, which put into question if she has really been honest with black voters on criminal justice reform.
Clinton said in 1996: “They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘super-predators.’ No conscience, no empathy, we can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.”
The term “super predator” was not first coined by Clinton; according to the Washington Post, “the idea wasn’t Clinton’s, but rather it had been invented by researchers studying crime in the 1990s. And it was used to explain the rise in violence perpetrated by youths— particularly in predominantly minority inner cities. The concept has since been largely abandoned and decried for its racial undertones.”
Many activists, including Williams, are calling out Clinton’s comments and questioning whether her concern for the mass incarceration of black individuals in America is authentic, or just an attempt to win the black vote.
“In that speech, I was talking about the impact violent crime and vicious drug cartels were having on communities across the country and the particular danger they posed to children and families. Looking back, I shouldn’t have used those words, and I wouldn’t use them today.
My life’s work has been about lifting up children and young people who’ve been let down by the system or by society. Kids who never got the chance they deserved. And unfortunately today, there are way too many of those kids, especially in African-American communities. We haven’t done right by them. We need to. We need to end the school to prison pipeline and replace it with a cradle-to-college pipeline.
As an advocate, as First Lady, as Senator, I was a champion for children. And my campaign for president is about breaking down the barriers that stand in the way of all kids, so every one of them can live up to their God-given potential.”
In response to Clinton’s statement, Williams reportedly told CNN: “One of the things I don’t hear in that response is an apology for mass incarceration. I also don’t hear her taking responsibility for the ways in which those words and her backing certain policies has affected black communities and communities of color.”
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.
Ohio is one of the 30 states that allows open carry without a permit throughout the state. When a state has an open carry policy, it allows its citizens to carry guns in public without fear of being arrested, let alone killed.
So why did the open carry rule not apply to Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old who was in possession of a toy gun at a park? Within two seconds at the scene, Cleveland Police officer Timothy Loehmann shot and killed Rice. Many through social media have argued that because Rice was a minor, the open carry rule does not apply to children because they shouldn’t be in possession of guns. However, Loehmann told the dispatcher that Rice looked “maybe 20.” With that presumption, why didn’t Loehmann respect the open carry law in Ohio? Was it because Rice was a black male? Rice was never even given an opportunity to show the officers that it was a toy gun. He was executed before given a chance to explain.
Whereas earlier this week, a 66-year-old white woman in Connecticut stood outside a police station pointing a BB gun at officers shouting “Boom boom boom” and “Shoot me!” is alive and unharmed.
The woman, Elaine Rothenberg, pointed the gun at civilians asking if they were police. She also blocked an employee-only doorway where police enter and exit to get to their police cruisers and stood with the gun raised in a shooting stance attempting instigate the officers. Rothenberg eventually threw the gun and was arrested. Why was she given due process and Rice was not? Connecticut is also an open carry state, but has even stricter gun laws than Ohio. Why was Loehmann able to shoot and kill a 12 year old right on the spot while Rothenberg was given her due process?
Never mind that Loehmann resigned from a previous police department just as he was about to be fired for incompetence with firearms and repeatedly displaying emotional disturbances.
A memorandum, written by Independence Deputy Chief Jim Polak, expressed concern over Loehmann’s emotional issues during his poor performance at a state range qualification course for handgun training. Polak wrote that he was notified of Loehmann’s emotional issues by Independence Police Sgt. Greg Tinnirello:
“I was notified by FTO Sgt. Tinnirello of the following circumstances related to our recruit, Ptl. Loehmann. A written statement was included. On this date, during a state range qualification course Ptl. Loehmann was distracted and weepy. He could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal. Sgt. Tinnirello tried to work through this with Ptl. Loehmann by giving him some time. But, after some talking it was clear to Sgt. Tinnirello that the recruit was just not mentally prepared to be doing firearm training.”
Polak concluded that “due to this dangerous loss of composure during live range training and his inability to manage this personal stress, I do not believe Ptl. Loehmann shows the maturity needed to work in our employment. Unfortunately in law enforcement there are times when instructions need be followed to the letter, and I am under the impression Ptl. Loehmann, under certain circumstances, will not react in the way instructed. Ptl. Loehmann’s lack of commitment for his future here at Independence is disconcerting.” Polak recommended that Loehmann be released from the department and wrote that neither “time, nor training, will be able to change or correct these deficiencies.”
In that case, why on Earth did the Cleveland Police Department hire him? Lt. Gail Bindel and Sgt. Edwin Santiago, the two officers in charge of hiring Loehmann, failed to perform a thorough background check on him. They were later suspended and reprimanded for it. Not only are the militarization tactics of police a major issue, but now we also have to worry about improperly evaluated cops and the open carry laws that are supposed to protect us. So who does open carry really serve to protect?
By Steve Guest (DC) Bernie Sanders doesn’t think an apology is necessary for the Black Lives Matter protesters, even though his campaign already issued one.
Appearing on “NBC’s Meet the Press” Sunday, Chuck Todd pressed Sanders about a Buzzfeed article that said, “I apologize it took our campaign so long.” Sanders replied that it “was sent out without my knowledge.”
Chuck Todd: Buzzfeed has an article out this morning. Headline is ‘Sanders’ Campaign Reaches Out To Black Lives Matter Activists. Quote, ‘I apologize it took our campaign so long.’ Tell me more about it.
Bernie Sanders: Well, that was sent out by a staffer, not by me. Look, we are reaching out to all kinds of groups, absolutely. I met with people at Black Lives Matter. We’re reaching out to Latino groups. We’re reaching out to the unions. We’re fighting to expand Social Security and we’re reaching out to senior groups. We’re reaching out to health care groups because we believe that everybody in America is entitled to health care. We’re reaching out to everybody. But on this issue of Black Lives Matter, let me be very clear, the issue they are raising is a very, very important issue. And there is no candidate for president who will be stronger in fighting against institutional racism and, by the way, reforming a broken criminal justice system. Chuck, we have more people in jail in the United States of America than any country on earth. And we need real changes. We need to do away with the militarization of local police departments. We need to do away with minimum sentencing. We needed indication and jobs for our young people rather than jails and incarceration.
Todd: I understand that. You said a staffer put it out but you felt an apology was necessary?
Sanders: No, I don’t. I think we’re going to be working with all groups. This was sent out without my knowledge.
On Wednesday, August 5th, activists in Ohio marked the one year anniversary of the shooting of John Crawford III. The 22-year old was shot by a Beavercreek police officer after being seen holding a BB gun inside the Wal-Mart near Dayton, Ohio. A grand jury would later find that the officer innocent of murder. Federal authorities are still reviewing the case.
The activists came from a range of groups including Greene County Black Lives Matter, Anonymous #OpJohnCrawford, Beavercreek CopBlock and Ohio Open Carry. The Greene County BLM had planned a protest and “die-in” outside the Wal-Mart where Crawford was shot. The group carried a black coffin through the parking lot to the front door of the Wal-Mart. The planned protests prompted the store managers to close down for the evening.
Ohio Open Carry stated that their demonstration was part of an effort to “remind the nation that open carry is legal and that police are not above our most basic human rights.”
However, not all of the activists involved appreciated the open carry groups’ message. According to Counter Current News:
“Many of the participants in Greene County Black Lives Matter did not like the idea of having firearms at a protest, and some controversy arose when they delineated “rules of conduct” that included “no firearms.”
The other activist groups noted that they had long planned their protests and had been a regular presence at the location, with the continued blessing of John’s mother Tressa.
Just two days before the protest, at the request of a handful of activists and John’s mother, representatives from local Anonymous groups, Beavercreek CopBlock, Black Lives Matter and Ohio Open Carry sat down and hashed things out like grown ups.”
The protest went on without major conflict between the activist groups, and with no arrests reported.
Following the protest at Wal-Mart, John Crawford III’s parents gathered with the activists and spoke to a large crowd about the importance of taking action against violent police officers.
At one point John Crawford Sr. told the crowd, “How many people right now are bearing arms? If everyone out here would have held their hand up we wouldn’t have to worry about any problems.”
John Crawford Sr. went on to tell the crowd that, “You can’t reason with a bully. You have to eventually fight that bully. You have to let him know that win, lose or draw, I’m gonna fight you every day.”
The elder Crawford reminded the crowd that their numbers were greater than the police, stating, “You have a right to defend yourself. You have a right defend your family. You have that right – a Godly right and a Constitutional right.”
Despite the powerful words, John Crawford Sr. expressed that he was not promoting the use of violence against police, but rather the of self-defense.
“I’m not advocating death. I’m simply saying, inevitably it may go down that way. If it continues to go like its going now it will go down that way cause you can only push people for so long before they’re going to strike back!”
The protest movement Black Lives Matter continued its attack on the most left-wing Democratic candidate for president Saturday, shutting down a Bernie Sanders event in Seattle and forcing him to cancel his speech.
Sanders was scheduled to speak Saturday afternoon at an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of Medicare. But he was ultimately only able to say a few words, thanking Seattle for being “one of the most progressive cities in America,” before a group of protesters ran up and took control of the microphone. Video of the incident’s beginning was captured by Seattle’s KIRO television station.
“If you do not listen to [us], your event will be shut down,” one protester said, while members of the audience booed. “Right now, right now. It’s your decision.” The sound feed of the microphone was then cut out while the protesters argued with organizers.
Following a short shouting match, an organizer of the event said he would let the protesters take a turn on the microphone, but only after Sanders was allowed to speak.
“We are trying to be reasonable,” the organizer said, which triggered an outburst of “We aren’t reasonable!” and “Stop talking!” from some of the protesters, who began grappling with the organizer for the microphone.
After enduring a barrage of verbal attacks, the organizer initially said the event was being shut down, while some in the crowd broke out into a “Bernie” chant. Apparently thinking twice, the organizer then decided to give the microphone over to the protesters. Things did not improve from there, as the protesters proceeded to verbally berate the audience:
“You guys are full of bullshit with your ‘Black Lives Matter,’” said lead protester Marissa Johnson, immediately earning cries of “You’re bullshit!” and more from the crowd.
“You’re never gonna hear Bernie speak unless I hear it silent here now,” she continued, which only threw the crowd into further uproar.
After the crowd finally quieted, she listed a series of local grievances and then demanded four-and-a-half minutes of silence in honor of Michael Brown, the teenager killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri last year (the length of the silence reflecting the four-and-a-half hours Brown’s body lay in the street after he died).
“Bernie says that he’s all about the people and about grassroots. The biggest grassroots movement in this country right now is Black Lives Matter,” Johnson added. “If you care about Black Lives Matter, as you say you do, you will hold Bernie Sanders specifically accountable for his actions.” Johnson attacked Sanders for his reaction when Black Lives Matter stormed a Netroots Nation event Sanders spoke at in July, and she also slammed him for not putting out a “criminal justice reform package” similar to fellow candidate Martin O’Malley. (RELATED: Sanders And O’Malley Shouted Off Stage At Progressive Conference)
Black Lives takes the mic.
Sanders eventually decided to stop waiting for his chance to speak, and instead left the stage to mingle with supporters. He then left for another rally he had planned for Saturday night, which a spokesperson for his campaign encouraged disappointed attendees to go to.
“I am disappointed that two people [there actually appear to have been at least three] disrupted a rally attended by thousands at which I was invited to speak about fighting to protect Social Security and Medicare,” Sanders said in a statement put out afterwards. “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.”
This marks the second time, after the Netroots Nation event, that Democratic presidential candidates have faced a major disruption due to Black Lives Matter. Notably, though, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton has yet to encounter any problems with the movement’s protesters.
The family of Eric Garner has reached a settlement with the city of New York. According to New York City Comptroller Scott Stinger, the city has agreed to pay the family $5.9 million to settle the lawsuit surrounding Garner’s choking death at the hands of New York police officers.
The Garner family was suing the city of New York for $75 million. Garner, who died 1 year ago this week, was approached by a number of officers who confronted him over selling loose leaf cigarettes. Garner’s death was captured on cell phone video. He was unarmed and told officers more than a dozen times that he could not breathe as the choke hold was applied. Garner’s final words, “I Can’t Breathe”, became a rallying cry in New York and across the nation as part of the Black Lives Matter movement.
On Monday, a statement released by the comptroller’s officer read in part: “Following a judicious review of the claim and facts of this case, my office was able to reach a settlement with the estate of Eric Garner that is in the best interests of all parties.”
Garner’s death was ruled a homicide, but the officer who choked Garner to death was cleared of wrongdoing by a Staten Island grand jury in December. That decision to not indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo sparked protests held by tens of thousands of activists in New York City and across the country.
Stringer said that the settlement doesn’t mean New York City has accepted liability for the death, but he believes the agreement “acknowledges the tragic nature of Mr. Garner’s death while balancing my office’s fiscal responsibility to the City.”
The New York Post reported that Ed Mullins, president of the NYPD union Sergeants Benevolent Association, was critical of the settlement deal. “In my view, the city has chosen to abandon its fiscal responsibility to all of its citizens and genuflect to the select few who curry favor with the city government,” Mullins told the Post. “Mr. Garner’s family should not be rewarded simply because he repeatedly chose to break the law and resist arrest.”
Documents obtained by the East Bay Express reveal that California police and Counter-Terrorism officials coordinated monitoring of activists associated with the ‘Black Lives Matters’ movement.
For journalists and activists, the monitoring of online conversation is a well-established fact. Not only should surveillance by law enforcement be expected for protests (seeing as the information is usually posted in public on social media) but those consistently involved in activism should be well aware their social media presence is being scrutinized.
What we don’t know about these type of situations is who has access to intelligence gathered on protesters, how exactly police monitor social media and whether any information is stored. However, new emails released through Freedom of Information Act requests shed some light on how police in Oakland recently monitored activists involved in protesting police violence and racism.
The Express reviewed hundreds of emails from the California Highway Patrol and found that Terrorism Liaison Officers with local fusion centers regularly work with the CHP to monitor activists via social media. Other departments listed in the emails include the Oakland Police Department, and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office. The TLO was created in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. These officers work within fusion centers – intelligence gathering and sharing centers which were also created after the attacks. The emails show CHP was working with the California State Threat Assessment Center (Cal STAC) in an effort to stay aware of perceived threats related to the Black Lives Matter protests.
The Express reported on an email sent in December 12, 2014 where Elijah Owen, a senior intelligence advisor with Cal STAC tells CHP officer Michael Berndl about an upcoming march. “Just so it’s on your folks’ radar,” Owen writes. Matthew Hopkins the deputy commander of Cal STAC the Express that the center assessed terrorism threats specific to the state of California.
Another email shows officers being advised “Do Not Advise Protesters That We Are Following Them on Social Media.” The internal email says that protesters were warning other social media users that CHP was monitoring them.
“In the posts, protesters are stating that we (CHP) were claiming to follow them on social media. Please have your personnel refrain from such comments; we want to continue tracking the protesters as much as possible. If they believe we are tracking them, they will go silent.”
Several activist related twitter accounts were also being monitored for possible intelligence. The CHP was even monitoring candle light vigils in their search for terrorism. A December 10 email says, “”Supposed to be just a ‘vigil’ but it is occurring in Oakland.”
The monitoring did not end with the internet, however. An email from December 11 reveals that police in Oakland and Berkeley carried out undercover operations involving at least four CHP officers “[e]mbedded with protesters.” The email also reveals that up until that point the TLOs gathered their “intelligence on protesters through social media regarding dates, times, and locations of planned protests and of intentions to disrupt Bay Area freeways.”
This latest example of surveillance from supposed authorities might not be the biggest surprise you have heard recently but what we should take away from this is the fact that all of the activity that is being monitored in search for some terrorist boogeyman is perfectly legal and constitutionally protected. In today’s post-Snowden Era surveillance is a fact of life. When we put our information into the public sphere we open ourselves up to the watchful eyes of Big Brother. We should not let this curtail our free speech but we should remain educated about what we are facing.
After all, when CHP spokesperson Brandie Dressel spoke to the Express she specifically noted that the department has no policy that governs monitoring of social media and the department searches “for any and all ‘open source,’ or publicly available, information related our public safety assessments.” This should be a lesson to those that remain ignorant to the growing surveillance state. Big Brother is watching, listening, following, and tweeting.
Washington, D.C.- A grand juror in the Darren Wilson case is suing the St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch for the right to speak out about the grand jury proceedings. The juror says that McCulloch and his staff have “mischaracterized” the grand jury proceedings.
The grand juror, referred to only as “Grand Juror Doe” in the lawsuit, takes issue with how McCulloch characterized the case. McCulloch released evidence presented to the grand jury and publicly discussed the case after the grand jury decided not to indict Wilson, then a Ferguson police officer, in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African-American.
According to the lawsuit, “The current information available about the grand jurors’ views is not entirely accurate — especially the implication that all grand jurors believed that there was no support for any charges.”
The grand jurors are under a permanent gag order unless a court grants them the right to speak out about the case.
Meanwhile, in New York, a hearing was postponed on Monday that would allow the the grand jury proceedings in the Eric Garner case to be released to the public.
In the video above, Ben Swann talks about the cases.