Report on the Extrajudicial Killing of 120 Black People [UPDATE] MXGRM

Every 36 Hours [UPDATE]

22 comments

Posted on Jul 9, 2012 in Statements and Positions

Report on the Extrajudicial Killing of 120 Black People

 

This report was produced for the “No More Trayvon Martins Campaign”, demanding a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice. This is the 2nd Major report of the Campaign.

Download the Fully Illustrated Version of the Report Using this link (PDF).[UPDATED: Monday, July 16, 2012]

A human rights crisis confronts Black people in the United States. Since January 1, 2012, police and a much smaller number of security guards and self-appointed vigilantes have murdered at least 120 Black women and men. These killings are definitely not accidental or random acts of violence or the work of rogue cops. As we noted in our April 6th, 2012 “Trayvon Martin is All of US!” Report (see http://mxgm.org/trayvon-martin-is-all-of-us/), the use of deadly force against Black people is standard practice in the United States, and woven into to the very fabric of the society.

The corporate media have given very little attention to these extrajudicial killings. We call them “extrajudicial” because they happen without trial or any due process, against all international law and human rights conventions. Those few mainstream media outlets that mention the epidemic of killings have been are unwilling to acknowledge that the killings are systemic – meaning they are embedded in institutional racism and national oppression. On the contrary, nearly all of the mainstream media join in a chorus that sings the praises of the police and read from the same script that denounces the alleged “thuggery” of the deceased. Sadly, too many people believe the police version of events and the media’s “blame-the-victim” narratives that justify and support these extrajudicial killings.

However, we have studied each of the reports of these deaths — including false, implausible and inconsistent claims by police and witness reports that contradict police reports. From this study and many peoples’ experience, we must reject the corporate media’s rationalization for the horrible fact that in the first six months of this year, one Black person every 36 hours was executed. This wanton disregard for Black life resulted in the killing of 13 year-old children, fathers taking care of their kids, women driving the wrong cars, as well as people with mental health and drug problems.

This report documents how people of African descent remain “without sanctuary” throughout the United States. Nowhere is a Black woman or man safe from racial profiling, invasive policing, constant surveillance, and overriding suspicion. All Black people – regardless of education, class, occupation, behavior or dress – are subject to the whims of the police whose institutionalized racist policies and procedures require them to arbitrarily stop, frisk, arrest, brutalize and even execute Black people.

Invasive policing is only one aspect of the U.S. states comprehensive containment strategies to exploit Black people and to smother resistance. To contain the upsurge of the Black liberation movement of the 1960’s and 70’s and protect the system of white supremacy the institutional forces of racism have worked through governments at every level to destabilize the Black community via community divestment, massive employment discrimination, outsourcing, gentrification and other forms of economic dislocation. In addition, schools, housing, healthcare, other social services and transportation in Black communities have been denied equitable provision and distribution of public goods and resources.

The U.S. state maintains and reinforces these economic injustices with the militarized occupation of Black communities by the police and a web of racist legislation like the “war on drugs”, discriminatory polices like “three strikes” and “mandatory minimum” sentencing. The result is a social system that mandates the prison warehousing of millions of Black people and extrajudicial killings where the killers act with impunity and more often than not are rewarded and promoted for murder. The oppression and police occupation of Black communities parallels the brutalization, denial of human rights and killings being committed by the Israeli occupying forces in Palestine, and the persecution of Afrodescendants in Columbia and the Indigenous peoples of Brazil over the past several years.(1) Nothing short of the structural integrity and survival of the Black community is at stake when we consider the historic record.

For those who doubted the framing of the “Trayvon Martin is All of Us!” Report, this 6thmonth update proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the institutionalized violence of white supremacy is not only alive and well, but is, in fact, intensifying. To complete the picture, we must take into account the extrajudicial killings and other repressive policies directed at other targeted peoples and communities such as Indigenous peoples, Latinos, Arabs, Muslims, and immigrants. These, in conjunction with the oppression of Black people, demonstrate that the U.S. government remains committed to maintaining the system of white supremacy created by the aggressive and illegal European settler-colonies that first established the national-state project.

This crisis can only be stopped through decisive action. First, the Black community must organize its own self-defense. Second, we must build a broad, mass movement capable of forcing the government to enact transformative legislation based on our demands. The fundamental transformative demand must be for a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice to eliminate institutional racism and advance the struggle for self-determination. The Black community itself will determine the specific contents of The Plan, drawing from the foundation of CERD (the Convention to Eliminate all forms of Racial Discrimination) and the DDPA (Durban Declaration and Programme of Action).(2)

We call on everyone who believes that decisive action must be taken by Black and other oppressed peoples to confront and defeat national oppression and white supremacy to join us in developing an independent, mass movement for human rights that builds power in our communities and will have the capacity to force the Federal authorities to implement a comprehensive National Plan of Action for Racial Justice.  You can join us immediately by helping us secure 1 million signatures to our petition (seehttp://mxgm.org/trayvon-martin-is-all-of-us/), organizing Copwatch and People’s Self-Defense campaigns, fighting for elected Police Control Boards, the demilitarization of our communities, and the reinvestment of the military and security budget into community reinvestment and social programs amongst other suggestions provided in our “Local Struggles” paper (see http://mxgm.org/no-more-trayvons-campaign/). We also encourage communities to organize their own grassroots crisis intervention, domestic violence prevention/control and mediation teams so families in crisis do not become so desperate for help that they compound their problems by calling 9-1-1 and inviting the police into their homes.

We also call all organizations and individuals who agree with the demand and framework for a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice to help us build the National Alliance for Racial Justice and Human Rights (NARJHR) as a structure that will help us develop and implement a comprehensive national plan that centers oppressed peoples’ right to self-determination and the full realization of our human rights.

For more information about the Report or any of these action proposals, contact Kali Akuno at kaliakuno@mxgm.org.

Highlights from the Report

120 Black People Executed without Trial by Police, Security Guards and Self-Appointed Law Enforcers between January 1 – June 30, 2012

1. These executions destroy Black communities’ future and spirit by stealing the lives of our youth. Of the 120 lives taken:

  •  13 or 11% were children under 18 years old.
  • 22 or 18% were 18-21 years old, just entering adulthood.
  • 48 or 40% were 22-31 years old.
  • 20 or 17% were 32-41 years old
  • 10 or 8% were 42-51 years old
  • 5 or 4% were over 52 years
  • 2 or 2% were of undetermined age.

  1. These executions continue nationwide: from north to south; east to west; in rural towns and large metropolitan areas. Like in the years of lynching, there is no geographic sanctuary. Yet some cities—especially in the South– execute Black people without trial in numbers disproportionate to the size of their Black populations. Here are the cities with 2 or more executions. (This Table below was updated July 12, 2012, based on newly-found killings and updates on the Census website: quickfacts.census.gov)

 

A larger copy of this map is attached at the end of this report.

City

# Executed

1/1/12-6/30/12

Black

Population

(From 2010 Census)

Ratio of deaths per million Black people

Atlanta Metro(includes Clayton County)

10

396,115

25

Chicago Metro(includes Calumet City, Dolton & Riverdale)

9

946,745

10

New York City

9

2,084,659

4

Dallas

8

532,831

15

Memphis

6

409,481

15

New Orleans  (includes Gretna)

5

212,935

23

Jacksonville, FL

4

252,288

16

Baltimore

4

395,552

10

Saginaw*

3

23,745

126

Tulsa*

3

62,313

48

Cleveland (incl.Maple Heights)

3

227,282

13

Miami/Dade County (and Pompano Beach)

3

521,925

6

Dothan, AL*

2

21,286

94

Fayetteville, NC

2

84,036

24

Sacramento County (incl Sac’to), CA

2

156,535

13

Birmingham, AL

2

155,791

13

Washington DC (includes Landover)

2

323,974

6

* These towns have relatively small Black populations, so only two killings will make their murder rates very high. But unless the rates are calculated over a longer time span, it is risky to draw conclusions for places like Dolthan. The meaning of two killings happening every year would be very different than 2 happening once every ten years.
3. A significant proportion of the 120 were killed because they suffered from mental health problems or were intoxicated and behaved in ways the police allegedly could not control.

  • 28 people or 23% might be alive today if community members trained and committed to humane crisis intervention and mental health treatment had been called rather than the police.

4. What is the relationship between “stop and frisk” policies and procedures and racial profiling and these deadly encounters? This report documents how these encounters were initiated. Encounters that began because the “suspect was engaged in suspicious behavior or looked suspicious or was driving suspiciously” show how often racial profiling leads to death.

  • 48 (40% of 120) of police accounts explicitly cite “suspicious behavior or appearance” or traffic violations (“driving while Black”) as the reason for their attempt to detain the person who they eventually killed.
  • 24 (20% of 120) deadly encounters began with calls to 9-1-1 to seek help in resolving “domestic disturbances”. These included family members seeking assistance in dealing with mentally troubled people and people facing domestic violence. (some of these 24 people were also counted among the 28 who were intoxicated or behaved in ways the police allegedly could not control. Check the Tables for details.)
  • 11 (9% of 120) people who had violated no law or had not been involved in any harmful behavior were killed.
  • That leaves only 37 people or 31% of 120 killed in the course of police investigating activity defined as “criminal” in most states. (In most states, failure to follow an officer’s commands is illegal. Eg. It is a violation of the state law to run when an officer says “halt”. But here we are only talking about how the encounters were initiated, not what happened after the encounter.)

5.  Most of the people executed were not armed. Here is the breakdown:

  • 55  (or 46%) had no weapon at all at the time they were executed.
  • 43 (or 36%) were alleged by police to have weapons (including a cane, toy gun and bb gun) but this allegation is disputed by witnesses or later investigation. Police are infamous for planting weapons or deciding that a cell phone, wallet or other harmless object is a gun.
  • 22 (or 18%) were likely armed.

6. Police and other executioners typically justify their murders by reporting that the “suspect” ran away, pointed a gun or crashed into them with a car and therefore they had to use deadly force to defend themselves.

  • In the first half of 2012, police alleged that 42 of the people they executed attempted to run away from them.
  • 24 of the people who were murdered allegedly pointed guns at officers and/or attempted to crash into them.  Reports often do not mention if the officers were wearing uniforms or if the “suspects had any way of knowing their assailants were not civilians.

7. Regardless of how these encounters begin, whether they involve activity that violates the laws of the state or the laws of basic human decency, no one should be sentenced to death without a trial. In most countries, even with a trial, capital punishment is considered barbaric. So the use of deadly force is always “excessive” (and extrajudicial by international human rights standards) except in certain circumstances.

  • 15 cases in this report or 12.5%, if the facts reported are true, involve situations where the “suspect” shot and wounded and/or killed the police and/or others while the police were on the scene. Although it would have been preferable to stop them with non-lethal force, the use of lethal force in these circumstances can not be considered excessive. But in the remaining 105 cases, killings were extrajudicial, that is, they used lethal force with no legitimate justification and violated peoples’ basic human rights.

8. On gender:In the first half of 2012, only 5 out of the 120 executed people were women. Two were accused “car thieves”, two were “innocent bystanders” and one was beaten and smothered by police because they did not take the appropriate steps to calm her emotional agitation.

Please note: the most glaring way that women’s oppression enters the picture is in the high number of deaths (20%) that result from mothers, wives, lovers or other family members who call the police because they are desperate for help with their troubled, often frightening, kids and partners. Grassroots community crisis intervention and mediation would lighten the burdens that single mothers and survivors of domestic violence carry and also build towards more community self-reliance. As one mother whose emotionally-troubled son had been executed  said, “calling the police to calm a mentally ill child is like calling an undertaker to deliver a baby.”

9.The “justice system” gives impunity to murderers. The names of a few of the 120 people on this death roll have become nationally-known rallying cries for justice: like Trayvon Martin and Remarley Graham. Their murders have sparked massive mobilizations, media commentary, calls for government intervention, lawsuits and endless legal wrangling. However, after the initial announcements in local news media, the lives of most of those who were executed are forgotten.

  • The standard procedure in most jurisdictions is for police involved in fatal shootings to be given paid “desk-duty” while the department conducts an investigation of itself. The press applauds their fine records while it screams about the criminal records of the deceased. Almost all killer cops are routinely exonerated and quickly return to the street. Grieving families who invariably ask the modest question, “why did he have to die?” are ignored. If there is some demonstrated community outrage the case may be further investigated. The legal system almost never charges these executioners and even if they do, the killing continues.  A number of families attempt legal redress through the civil courts and seek financial restitution. After years of litigation a tiny minority may gain some solace from a financial payment. And the executions continue.
  • 38% of the Black people who were executed in the first half of 2012 seem to have been forgotten. A careful internet search could not find their names after an initial flurry of news about their killings.
  •  6 security guards and self appointed law enforcers (including  Trayvon Martin’s killer and the Tulsa murderers) have been charged.
  •  4 killer cops have been charged: one for vehicular homicide-DUI, three for manslaughter (Remarley Graham’s killer, Dane Garrett Scott Jr’s killer and Christopher Brown’s killer).
  •  That is, in 105 cases of extrajudicial killings, the legal system has only charged 9 people, or 8.6%. The outcome of these charges is yet to be determined.
  •  On July 11, 2012, for example, four months after even Newburg’s mayor and City Council called for an investigation by the Grand Jury and the Governor, the Grand Jury ruled the officers who shot Michael Lembhard in the back were justified. Cuomo refused to intervene.

10. A note on the research process:

The data for this report was collected by meticulously combing the internet during the last ten days of June 2012 and first 12 days of July 2012.  In addition to searching on “police-involved shootings”, “police killings of Black people” etc, we also went to the websites of the local press, blogs and police departments in the 100 cities and towns with the largest Black populations and followed wherever the links led. In the course of these searches, we found the names of an additional 17 people killed before March 31, who we hadn’t found during the research for the first quarterly report. Those names appear here. There is, as far as we know, no national database that tracks these killings. Wikipedia has posted a very incomplete list and detailed the other databases available.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_killings_by_law_enforcement_officers_in_the_United_States

 

This report covers the deaths of 120 Black people: 57 from January thru March and 63 from April thru June, 2012. In other words, despite the huge mobilizations after the Remarley Graham and Trayvon Martin murders, the killing continued at an even faster pace. We do not believe the 120 deaths listed here include all the Black people killed by police and security guards. There are no doubt more—especially in places that do not have an active internet media presence. We found the names of more than 20 additional people killed by police whose race we could not confirm and countless others who the press never bothered to identify after police departments refused or delayed releasing their names. Again, there were countless others who were in critical condition from police shootings, but the press never reported on whether they survived. With time, we estimate another 30 to 40 cases might emerge. For more information on any given case, you can type “shooting of name, date, place” in your search engine. For more information on this Report or to contribute updated information, please contactarlene_eisen@sbcglobal.net.

“The Report on Black People Executed without Trial by Police, Security Guards and Self-Appointed Law Enforcers January 1 – June 30, 2012”, was produced by Arlene Eisen and Kali Akuno for the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM). Special assistance was given by Ajamu Baraka.

FOOTNOTES

1 The figures for the number of Palestinians killed in 2011 can be found athttp://www.ochaopt.org/poc.aspx?id=1010002.  Figures for Afro-Colombians can be found at http://www.americasquarterly.org/node/2322/,http://www.afrocolombians.com/pdfs/PCNonFTA-April12.pdf andhttp://news.afrocolombians.com/news/?sectionid=8.  Figures on Indigenous peoples killed in Brazil can be found athttp://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/10/world/americas/in-brazil-violence-hits-tribes-in-scramble-for-land.html.

2 To read the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination seehttp://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cerd.htm. To read the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action see http://www.un.org/durbanreview2009/ddpa.shtml.

A human rights crisis confronts Black people in the United States. Since January 1, 2012, police and a much smaller number of security guards and self-appointed vigilantes have murdered at least 120 Black women and men. These killings are definitely not accidental or random acts of violence or the work of rogue cops. As we noted in our April 6th, 2012 “Trayvon Martin is All of US!” Report (see http://mxgm.org/trayvon-martin-is-all-of-us/), the use of deadly force against Black people is standard practice in the United States, and woven into to the very fabric of the society.

The corporate media have given very little attention to these extrajudicial killings. We call them “extrajudicial” because they happen without trial or any due process, against all international law and human rights conventions. Those few mainstream media outlets that mention the epidemic of killings have been are unwilling to acknowledge that the killings are systemic – meaning they are embedded in institutional racism and national oppression. On the contrary, nearly all of the mainstream media join in a chorus that sings the praises of the police and read from the same script that denounces the alleged “thuggery” of the deceased. Sadly, too many people believe the police version of events and the media’s “blame-the-victim” narratives that justify and support these extrajudicial killings.

However, we have studied each of the reports of these deaths — including false, implausible and inconsistent claims by police and witness reports that contradict police reports. From this study and many peoples’ experience, we must reject the corporate media’s rationalization for the horrible fact that in the first six months of this year, one Black person every 36 hours was executed. This wanton disregard for Black life resulted in the killing of 13 year-old children, fathers taking care of their kids, women driving the wrong cars, as well as people with mental health and drug problems.

This report documents how people of African descent remain “without sanctuary” throughout the United States. Nowhere is a Black woman or man safe from racial profiling, invasive policing, constant surveillance, and overriding suspicion. All Black people – regardless of education, class, occupation, behavior or dress – are subject to the whims of the police whose institutionalized racist policies and procedures require them to arbitrarily stop, frisk, arrest, brutalize and even execute Black people.

Invasive policing is only one aspect of the U.S. states comprehensive containment strategies to exploit Black people and to smother resistance. To contain the upsurge of the Black liberation movement of the 1960’s and 70’s and protect the system of white supremacy the institutional forces of racism have worked through governments at every level to destabilize the Black community via community divestment, massive employment discrimination, outsourcing, gentrification and other forms of economic dislocation. In addition, schools, housing, healthcare, other social services and transportation in Black communities have been denied equitable provision and distribution of public goods and resources.

The U.S. state maintains and reinforces these economic injustices with the militarized occupation of Black communities by the police and a web of racist legislation like the “war on drugs”, discriminatory polices like “three strikes” and “mandatory minimum” sentencing. The result is a social system that mandates the prison warehousing of millions of Black people and extrajudicial killings where the killers act with impunity and more often than not are rewarded and promoted for murder. The oppression and police occupation of Black communities parallels the brutalization, denial of human rights and killings being committed by the Israeli occupying forces in Palestine, and the persecution of Afrodescendants in Columbia and the Indigenous peoples of Brazil over the past several years[1]. Nothing short of the structural integrity and survival of the Black community is at stake when we consider the historic record.

For those who doubted the framing of the “Trayvon Martin is All of Us!” Report, this 6thmonth update proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the institutionalized violence of white supremacy is not only alive and well, but is, in fact, intensifying. To complete the picture, we must take into account the extrajudicial killings and other repressive policies directed at other targeted peoples and communities such as Indigenous peoples, Latinos, Arabs, Muslims, and immigrants. These, in conjunction with the oppression of Black people, demonstrate that the U.S. government remains committed to maintaining the system of white supremacy created by the aggressive and illegal European settler-colonies that first established the national-state project.

This crisis can only be stopped through decisive action. First, the Black community must organize its own self-defense. Second, we must build a broad, mass movement capable of forcing the government to enact transformative legislation based on our demands. The fundamental transformative demand must be for a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice to eliminate institutional racism and advance the struggle for self-determination. The Black community itself will determine the specific contents of The Plan, drawing from the foundation of CERD (the Convention to Eliminate all forms of Racial Discrimination) and the DDPA (Durban Declaration and Programme of Action)[2].

We call on everyone who believes that decisive action must be taken by Black and other oppressed peoples to confront and defeat national oppression and white supremacy to join us in developing an independent, mass movement for human rights that builds power in our communities and will have the capacity to force the Federal authorities to implement a comprehensive National Plan of Action for Racial Justice.  You can join us immediately by helping us secure 1 million signatures to our petition (seehttp://mxgm.org/trayvon-martin-is-all-of-us/), organizing Copwatch and People’s Self-Defense campaigns, fighting for elected Police Control Boards, the demilitarization of our communities, and the reinvestment of the military and security budget into community reinvestment and social programs amongst other suggestions provided in our “Local Struggles” paper (see http://mxgm.org/no-more-trayvons-campaign/). We also encourage communities to organize their own grassroots crisis intervention, domestic violence prevention/control and mediation teams so families in crisis do not become so desperate for help that they compound their problems by calling 9-1-1 and inviting the police into their homes.

We also call all organizations and individuals who agree with the demand and framework for a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice to help us build the National Alliance for Racial Justice and Human Rights (NARJHR) as a structure that will help us develop and implement a comprehensive national plan that centers oppressed peoples’ right to self-determination and the full realization of our human rights.

For more information about the Report or any of these action proposals, contact Kali Akuno at kaliakuno@mxgm.org.


[1] The figures for the number of Palestinians killed in 2011 can be found athttp://www.ochaopt.org/poc.aspx?id=1010002 Figures for Afro-Colombians can be found at http://www.americasquarterly.org/node/2322/,http://www.afrocolombians.com/pdfs/PCNonFTA-April12.pdf andhttp://news.afrocolombians.com/news/?sectionid=8.  Figures on Indigenous peoples killed in Brazil can be found athttp://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/10/world/americas/in-brazil-violence-hits-tribes-in-scramble-for-land.html.

[2] To read the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination seehttp://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cerd.htm. To read the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action see http://www.un.org/durbanreview2009/ddpa.shtml.

The “Unsophisticated” Mirror of Rachel Jeantel thefeministwire

The Feminist Wire

The “Unsophisticated” Mirror of Rachel Jeantel

July 22, 2013

By 

By Lauren G. Parker

The prosecution needed to represent Rachel Jeantel as much as they represented Trayvon Martin because her assumed unintelligence and subsequent worthlessness were inadvertently assigned to him. Aware of this, prosecution attorney Bernie de la Rionda attempted, but failed, to insist upon her credibility in his closing statements. Before queering a Dr. King quote by saying that she “should not be judged by the color of her personality but by the content of her testimony,” he told the jury that she was “a little unsophisticated” and “uneducated.”Rachel_Jeantel_rtr_img

By insulting her to gain credibility, he complied with the idea that she was insignificant and by default, so was Martin’s life. Such inherently assumed superiority over Jeantel from the prosecution’s closing statement, the defense’s humiliating tactics and venomous commentary from cyber voyeurs was deeply remnant of a passage from Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye in which Morrison stated:

 All of us—all who knew her—felt so wholesome after we cleaned ourselves on her. We were so beautiful when we stood astride her ugliness. Her simplicity decorated us; her guilt sanctified us, her pain made us glow with health, her awkwardness made us think we had a sense of humor. Her inarticulateness made us believe we were eloquent. Her poverty kept us generous. Even her waking dreams we used—to silence our own nightmares. And she let us, and thereby deserved our contempt. We honed our egos on her, padded our characters with her frailty, and yawned in the fantasy of our strength.

Afraid to embrace those realities, many dwelled on their critiques of Jeantel’s dialect. Here, too, there was a deep politic that neither the talented-tenth, code-switching middle class Black folks who claimed to be ashamed by her nor those who maintained the racist ideology that she was merely another ignorant, fat black woman, could bear to acknowledge. James Baldwin’s 1979 essay, “If Black English Isn’t A Language, Then Tell Me, What is?” best presented this truth where he states,

…language is also a political instrument, means, and proof of power. It is the most vivid and crucial key to identify: It reveals the private identity, and connects one with, or divorces one from, the larger, public, or communal identity.

He further explains,

Language, also, far more dubiously, is meant to define the other–and, in this case, the other is refusing to be defined by a language that has never been able to recognize [them]. People evolve a language in order to describe and thus control their circumstances, or in order not to be submerged by a reality that they cannot articulate.

Just as many have never considered that Trayvon Martin, who we know for a fact was followed by George Zimmerman, was standing his own ground, many who shared Juror B-37’s condescending viewpoint and “felt bad” for Rachel who was “using phrases [they] never heard before” have not considered themselves ignorant for not understanding her. Those same individuals may never challenge the absurdity of having deemed themselves the standard of comparison; nor will they realize that they misnamed her “uneducated” in order to hide from the paralyzing fear of a heavy-set, dark skinned teenager unwilling to bow to their assumed superiority.

Rachel Jeantel cannot be reduced to just a witness in a popular trial because what she endured in court and from the media were private acts made public: the mocking and silencing of black women and girl’s stories as well as the devaluing of their traumas. In response to critics, Jeantel shared with Piers Morgan that  “[My critics] should be appreciating [me]. You should learn from this situation. If it happened to you or your family, would you step up or would you just say ‘oh, it ain’t my business’?” To my mind, she has remained brilliant and strong in spite of the overwhelming grief of losing a friend and then being publicly labeled as ignorant–as a national embarrassment–because she, like James Baldwin, knows that  “it is [never] the black child’s language that is in question, it is not [their] language that is despised: It is [their] experience.”

______________________________________

L_G_Parker-The_'Unsophisticated'_Mirror_of_Rachel_Jeantel-lgpLauren G. Parker is an undergraduate, intended Creative Writing major at George Mason University. Currently, she is co-coaching Richmond, Virginia’s internationally competing youth slam poetry team.

 

Zimmerman Verdict Truth l laprogressive

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND Informed Truth and Resistance

Zimmerman Verdict Truth: George stalked an unarmed boy carrying junk food in a bag, and that he shot that boy before the boy could even drop the bag.

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

"Trayvon Martin left DNA traces on the paper bag, but not on George’s head and not on George’s gun.  The picture was not ‘newsworthy’ because it showed the utter dishonesty of George’s constantly mutating lies.  . . .  I also know that he stalked an unarmed boy who was carrying junk food in a bag, and that he shot that boy before the boy could even drop the bag.  I know that the vote of six white women in Florida will never alter that truth."

Tom Hall

See on www.laprogressive.com

‘Fruitvale Station’ Captures a Dissolving Life In a Cell Phone Image

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND Informed Truth and Resistance

The opening footage is shaky, blurry, and when at last you hear a gunshot, you know this is the sound of 22-year-old Oscar Gran’s life ending.

 

Cynthia Fuchs is director of Film & Media Studies and Associate Professor of English, Film & Video Studies, African and African American Studies, Global Affairs, Sport & American Culture, and Women and Gender Studies at George Mason University.

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

 "For as the film asks you to see Oscar’s world as he might, it also asks you to see him as she does, as a son and young father, as a man at risk every day of his short life." 

– Cynthia Fuchs is director of Film & Media Studies and Associate Professor of English, Film & Video Studies, African and African American Studies, Global Affairs, Sport & American Culture, and Women and Gender Studies at George Mason University.

See on www.popmatters.com

New Accusations Against Zimmerman Jurors As Sheriffs Office Admits It Allowed Unsupervised Access –

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND Informed Truth and Resistance

The Zimmerman trial is called into question as the sheriff’s office confirmed that jurors had unsupervised access to family and friends during trial.

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

So, these visits were unsupervised. WFTV has dug into these visits, and what they found calls into question the verdict. As WFTV’s legal analyst, Bill Sheaffer, points out:

Read more: http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/07/20/new-accusations-against-zimmerman-jurors-as-sheriffs-office-admits-it-allowed-unsupervised-access/#ixzz2Zhf4qfcK

See on www.addictinginfo.org

Zimmerman Jurors Under Scrutiny As Sheriff’s Office Admits To Unsupervised Visits

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND Informed Truth and Resistance

In a disturbing interview on AC360, during which Zimmerman juror B37 referred to killer George Zimmerman, 29, as “George,” admitted to  writing a book with her lawyer husband — a deal that has dis…

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

Only a well-poised and established attorney would be able to pull off a book deal like this. Just saying.

See on newsone.com

Williams: Case evidence offered cause for a conviction

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND Informed Truth and Resistance

Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz has been attacking the prosecutor relentlessly since the inception of the case and no doubt feels vindicated by the jury’s verdict.

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

 "I have seen many defendants, including death row inmates, convicted with much less evidence than was presented against Zimmerman. Therefore, I disagree with this growing consensus that the law required an acquittal. There were facts upon which a rational jury could have convicted Zimmerman, and had they done so, his conviction almost certainly would have been upheld on appeal."

Kenneth Williams teaches evidence, criminal law and procedure, international criminal law and human rights and a death penalty seminar at the South Texas College of Law.

Thanks to Professor Venelia Randall for sharing this with us.

See on www.chron.com

Is Twitter the underground railroad of activism?

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND Informed Truth and Resistance

The Zimmerman trial may have introduced white America to “Black Twitter,” but its roots go back centuries

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

"Last year, when Twitter users first learned that the young, unarmed Martin was gunned down on his way home from a local convenience store, there were protests and vigils organized within 48 to 72 hours, using outlets like Twitter and Facebook."

Feminista Jones is a sex-positive Black feminist, social worker and blogger from New York City. She writes about gender, race, politics, mental health and sexuality at FeministaJones.com. She is a columnist for Ebony.com and section editor at BlogHer.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FeministaJones.

See on www.salon.com

An Open Letter to Juror B-37 in the Zimmerman Trial

An Open Letter to Juror B-37 in the Zimmerman Trial
July 16, 2013

Court Cases, Criminal Justice, News Media, Reality TV, Social Media

Dear Juror B-37,

I saw your interview with Anderson Cooper on AC360 and I want to thank you for the time you took away from your family to serve in the public process as a juror.

JurorB37

That is the nicest thing I can say to you because I find you to be a disgusting human being.

It’s obvious that you never once considered Trayvon’s point of view and did not then, or now, see him as a full human being, worthy of the same rights to which all Americans are entitled and the Human Rights declared by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

Did you even bother to listen to the case?

You took George Zimmerman’s story to be truthful and, yet, you say he “went too far” and that you were certain he had some “exaggerations” and “inconsistencies.” Gee, what do you think he could have exaggerated about? Was it the head bashing, perhaps? The fear for his life? The first punch? Everything happening at the T?

You claim that you didn’t understand the law (and, btw, “went too far” = Manslaughter, bare minimum) but you had plenty of time to ask for clarification; and the only question presented to the judge about the law was Manslaughter. According to you, you were confused about everything. Why not more questions?

You claim that Rachel Jeantel wasn’t so credible to you and, yet, you were certain that Trayvon said “creepy ass cracka.” So, which is it, Disgusting Juror? You can believe a phrase that has absolutely zero proof of existence but you can’t believe that Trayvon was NOT the initial aggressor and did NOT throw “the first punch,” considering Rachel told you she heard the verbal confrontation and the “bump” on Trayvon?!!

And, yet, you feel “sorry” for Rachel Jeantel because she was so “uneducated” and because of her speech? Well, let me tell you something: Rachel Jeantel does not need nor want your “sympathy.” What she wanted was justice for her friend and you have ensured that the justice George Zimmerman deserves has now been delayed. Rachel Jeantel is smarter than you, probably speaks more languages than you, is more street-smart than you; and as soon as she gets her surgery, she will be far more eloquent than you think you are, Disgusting Juror!

You think it would be okay for George Zimmerman to be your Neighborhood Watchman NOW and that he has “learned his lesson?” Well, good. I hope you have a Neighborhood Watchman EXACTLY like George Zimmerman. Then, you can see what your own hands have wrought.

HLNTV.com
HLNTV.com
I can’t wait for you to learn that the audio experts EXCLUDED George Zimmerman from being the one screaming. It wasn’t him, you twit. But just like the Sanford Police Department, you gave him the Presumption of Innocence he doesn’t deserve. I would love to see your face when you learn that “Georgie” threw a woman across the room, called his ex-fiance a “hoe,” had a restraining order put on him from his ex-fiance’ and the “meek” man who could not fight assaulted an undercover police officer even AFTER he identified himself, to which “Georgie” replied, “I don’t care WHO you are!” and assaulted him.

You believed the wrong person. You set free the wrong person. YOU are a wrong person.

I don’t care about the tears you had after you gave the verdict to the bailiff. You cried because you knew, deep down inside, you appealed to white supremacy / racism more than anything else. Certainly, there was some doubt in this case but all REASONABLE doubt is removed once you realize that George Zimmerman is a lying piece of murderous scum trash and YOU set him free before even deliberating with the other jurors and even after.

You are a disgusting human being. And I find your desire to write a book after you set a child murderer free to be disgusting and that’s why I repeat the insult. You are a racist and could never think about what Trayvon Martin might have been thinking or feeling. Perhaps you need to read my Closing Argument.

You talked about how sorry you felt for George Zimmerman’s life, through your tears. Anderson Cooper had to collect himself when he realized you were only crying for “Georgie” and asked, “Do you feel sorry for Trayvon?,” to which you replied, “I feel sorry for both.”

See how you couldn’t even condescend to feel for Trayvon, alone, not even for a moment?

That’s how we know you’re a disgusting human being.

I’m glad you said you will never serve on another jury. Please don’t. There is enough injustice in this world.

Sincerely,

Disgusted by You

Justice for Trayvon

Update: Due to the excellent diligence of @MoreAndAgain on Twitter, Disgusting Being Juror B-37 was dropped by her literary agent. After the public statement was issued, reportedly Juror B-37 decided she wasn’t going to write a book anymore and provided the following statement:

JurorB37 Book Deal

Shorter Juror B-37: I had NO IDEA how many people would hate me following my self-serving interview with Anderson, especially since I was just testing out the waters to see who’d buy my book. I had NO IDEA @MoreAndAgain would ensure my ass was handed to me and my Literary Agent would drop me like, well, like George Zimmerman dropped Trayvon to the ground without a care in the world for his life or humanity, with his depraved mind.

We already know you enjoy reveling in lies, Juror B-37, and we also now know that your attorney husband is friends with Mark O’Mara. I wondered why that other disgusting being, Frank Taaffe, was so confident about the verdict and knew certain votes and now I’m clear, you were the source.

We’re not surprised.

Dr. Kimberly Ellis ( Dr. Goddess)

Former Producer, OUR COMMON GROUNG

Scholar. Artist. Activist. Trial Watcher and Analyst. View all posts by SocialCourtTV →

Black Boy Swagger, Black Mom Fear My Brown Baby, Denene Miller

My Brown Baby

Black Boy Swagger, Black Mom Fear
by DENENE MILLNER on JANUARY 16, 2009

By DENENE MILLNER

He’s 6 ft., 250-plus lbs quite imposing next to my 5′ 2 frame and can bench just shy of 300, which means that if he felt like it, he could flick me like a flea. Lucky for me, I’m his stepmother, and at the very least, he withholds his laughter when I crane my neck, fold my arms, put on my mean mug, and tell him, I can still take you.

Out on the football field, though, my 16-year-old son takes no shorts; as a nose tackle, he’s charged with taking on two, sometimes three opposing players at a time. This requires an incredible amount of mental fortitude and swagger both of which my 16-year-old son has in abundance, especially when he’s making his way to the line of scrimmage. Take a good hard look at him on the 50-yard line, and it’s easy to get it twisted: He looks like an angry, aggressive, big, black jock a guy who crushes the opponent on the field, and off the field, probably doesn’t put much effort into much more than football, girls, and black boy shenanigans.

I don’t know if this is what one of his team’s assistant coaches had on his mind recently when he called the boy over to take a look at his class schedule. Mazi handed it to him and shifted nervously from foot to foot, his mind on who knows what. I can only guess what he expected to find, but when that coach looked at Mazi’s schedule and then back up at Mazi, I could see in his eyes that his perception of who my boy is was completely, forever changed.

See, what that coach wasn’t expecting to see is this.

That’s Honors Physics. Honors Algebra. Advanced Placement Psychology. Honors Language Arts. And Mechanical Drafting the first in a series of courses that’ll put Mazi on firm footing toward becoming an architect. Peep the grades: All A’s, and one B. He’s number 44 in a class of 546 and still climbing.

The boy is bad—smart as hell, incredibly sweet, helpful when he wants to be, and pretty easy to get along with. We argue the musical merits of Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, and Rakim, reminisce over our favorite scenes in Biker Boyz, discuss on the regular whether he’s going to Yale, Harvard, or Princeton, and sometimes he even comes to me in confidence to discuss how to negotiate his tenuous relationships with the cute but fickle little girls he dates.

He is a normal boy.

A brilliant boy.

A college-bound boy.

A sweet boy.

A black boy.

And every time that child leaves this house, I fear that someone will look at him, his size, his skin color, his swagger, and see what they want to see, and not who Mazi is. Not a day goes by without us warning him to be respectful, to watch his tone, to be extra vigilant when approaching people in his path. And last week he got his license and bought himself a car with the cash he makes as a lifeguard, which of course means that now when he snatches his keys and heads for the door, I’m a nervous wreck thinking that he’s going to get stopped by the cops.

I have good reason to be nervous for him, you know. In just the past week, three—THREE!—black men have been shot, two killed, by the police. Adolph Grimes, III, 23, was shot 12 times in his back, 14 times total, on New Year’s Day as he made his way to a family party in New Orleans; Oscar Grant, 22, was shot by a transit officer while he lay face down and handcuffed on a train platform; Robbie Tolan, 23, is recovering from gunshot wounds to his liver and lung after being shot in his own driveway by a Houston police officer who accused him of stealing his own car. Of course, stories about the shootings abound, and in Oakland, more than 100 protesters were arrested as they took to the streets to demand justice for Grant. Organizations like The Color of Change are speaking up on behalf of the victims, and demanding we do the same, while radio personalities like Warren Ballentine are using their syndicated radio shows to keep the stories fresh on the minds of black folks.

Still, after the roar dies down, after the police officers get off (they almost always do), after we commit the victims’ names to the long list of young black men who’ve died or been abused at the opposite end of a police officer’s gun/night stick/bathroom plunger (Sean Bell. Amadou Diallo. Abner Louima. Patrick Dorismond. Michael Carpenter. I could go on and on and on), who will stop the same from happening to my stepson?

How do I protect my normal, brilliant, college-bound, sweet, black boy?

The urge to protect him will never leave me, this is the unfortunate rite of passage of every parent of a black boy. Once they are big enough and old enough to move out into the world without us holding their hands or watching over them, they are going to be vulnerable to the biases and misperceptions and stereotypes and downright hatred of an overwhelming number of cops, transit officers, sheriff’s deputies, and other law enforcement officials who will cross our children’s paths over the next 40/50 years of their lives. I suppose the best we can do is hope that one day Mazi will put in enough years so that he can have the same worry about his own child as we have for him.

And agitate.

And pray.

Note: To add your voice to the petition calling for a proper investigation into the Oscar Grant shooting, click here.