OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham l This Week LIVE l “The Souls of Black Folks: The Ashes of Justice “

“To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships.” W.E.B. Dubois – Souls of Black Folks

Guests: 
Dr. Tommy J. Curry,  Professor, CRITICAL RACE THEORY
and AFRICANA STUDIES, Texas A&M University 

Dr. James Lance Taylor, Chair and Professor, Politics,  University of San Francisco(CA); Past President of the National Conference 
of Black Political Scientists; Author,“Black Nationalism in the United States: From Malcom X to Barack Obama “ 

"The Souls of Black Folks: The Ashes of Justice"

OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham

Saturday, November 29, 2014       10 pm ET

LIVE

 

"To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships …To the real question, How does it feel to be a problem? I answer seldom a word." W.E.B. Dubois – Souls of Black Folks

"Transforming Truth to Power, One Broadcast At A Time

Call In and Listen from your Smart Device: 347-838-9852

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Michael Brown, Abner Louima, and the Anguish of Police Brutality

NOVEMBER 26, 2014

Enough Is Enough

BY 

Michael Brown, Abner Louima, and the Anguish of Police Brutality.

I have seen police brutality up close. Both in Haiti, where I was born during a ruthless dictatorship, and in New York, where I migrated to a working-class, predominantly African-American and Caribbean neighborhood in Brooklyn at the age of twelve. In the Haiti of the nineteen-seventies and early eighties, the violence was overtly political. Government detractors were dragged out of their homes, imprisoned, beaten, or killed. Sometimes, their bodies were left out in the streets, in the hot sun, for hours or days, to intimidate neighbors.

In New York, the violence seemed a bit more subtle, though no less pervasive. When I started riding New York City Transit buses between my family’s apartment and the high school I attended, three miles away, I noticed that a muffled radio message from an annoyed bus driver—about someone talking too loud, or not having the right fare—was all it took to make the police rush in, drag a young black man off the bus, and beat him into submission on the sidewalk. There were no cell-phone cameras back then to record such abuse, and most of us were too terrified to cry “Shame!” or demand a badge number.

Besides, many of us had fled our countries to escape this kind of military or police aggression, so we knew how deadly a confrontation with an armed and uniformed authoritarian figure could be. Still, every now and then a fellow traveller would summon his or her courage and, dodging the swaying baton, or screaming from a distance, would yell some variation of, “Stop it! This is a child! A Child!”

Of course, not all of the police’s victims were children. Abner Louima, a family friend, was thirty years old when he was mistaken for someone who’d punched a police officer outside a Brooklyn nightclub, on August 9, 1997. He was arrested, beaten with fists, as well as with police radios, flashlights, and night sticks, then was sexually assaulted with the wooden handle of a toilet plunger or a broom inside a precinct bathroom. After Abner, there was Amadou Diallo, a Guinean immigrant, who, on February 4, 1999, was hit by nineteen of the forty-one bullets aimed at him as he retrieved his wallet from his pocket. Then there was Patrick Dorismond, who died on March 16, 2000, while trying to convince undercover cops that he was not a drug dealer. Then there was Sean Bell, whose car was shot at fifty times on November 25, 2006, the day of his wedding.

These are only a few cases—a few that made the news. I have no doubt that there were many others, ones involving women, too, though few got much attention, except for that of the sixty-six-year-old Eleanor Bumpurs, who, thirteen years before Abner’s assault, was killed with a twelve-gauge police shot gun inside her own apartment.

We marched for all of them in the Louima/Diallo decade, seven thousand of us across the Brooklyn Bridge one time. We carried signs and chanted “No Justice, No Peace!” and “Whose streets? Our Streets!” even while fearing that this would never be true. The streets belonged to the people with the uniforms and the guns. The streets at that time also belonged to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who believed then, and still seems to believe now, that police brutality is unworthy of public scrutiny so long as black people keep “killing each other.” The streets were never ours to begin with, because on these same streets our sons and brothers, fathers and uncles were, and still are, prey.

My father, a Brooklyn cab driver, used to half joke that the only reason the police didn’t beat him up was because he was too skinny and too old, and not worth the effort. Every now and then, when he was randomly stopped by a police officer and deigned to ask why, he would be given, rather than a beating, a handful of unwarranted traffic citations that would wipe out a few weeks’ hard-earned wages. Today, one might generously refer to such acts as micro-aggressions. That is, until they turn major, until they turn deadly. Until a man who is believed to be selling loose cigarettes has the life strangled out of him in a police chokehold. Until yet another unarmed brown or black body finds itself in the familiar path of yet another police officer’s gun.

The other night, while watching the St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch declare that there would be no indictment against Officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown, I kept thinking of Abner Louima, whose assault took place on another August 9th, when Brown was just eighteen months old.

Abner and I have known each other for years. Yet I have always steered clear, in my conversations with him, of what happened all those years ago. Yesterday, though, I decided to call him, just to hear his thoughts about Michael Brown and Ferguson, Missouri. If anyone could understand all those broken hearts, all the rage, all the desperation, the yearning for justice that we are seeing in Ferguson and all over the country, I thought, he would.

Abner Louima, unlike Michael Brown, survived. He went on with his life, moved to South Florida, started a business, has done charity work. He has a daughter and two sons. One son eighteen years old, the same age Michael Brown was when he died. His other son is fifteen.

I asked him what he thought of the grand jury’s decision. The question seemed to wear on him. It was one, I could tell, that he was tired of answering. “Like everyone else, I’m very disappointed,” he said, his voice sinking with every word. “It’s not a good signal to send to a system that’s already not working.”

How does he feel each time he hears that yet another black man was killed or nearly killed by the police? “It touches me very deeply each time,” he said. “It forces me to ask myself why so little has changed in all these years since this happened to me. It reminds me again and again that our lives mean nothing.” His case, Abner reminded me, was the last one he could think of, in New York or elsewhere, in which the police officers who had assaulted or killed a black man actually went to jail. In his case, justice was served in part because of the public pressure, and because there were federal prosecutors involved, including the current nominee for Attorney General, Loretta Lynch.

What message does Louima have for Brown’s family, whose son died on what could have been the anniversary of his own death? “My heart aches so much for them,” he said. “I know how difficult this must be for them. Like them, I encourage peaceful protest. Too many lives are being lost, so we can’t just close our eyes and hope it goes away. We must keep raising our voices until we find justice for those who lost their lives, and until these things stop happening.” We both wonder: Will these things ever stop happening?

In 2007, on the tenth anniversary of his assault, Abner Louima wrote an opinion piece for the Daily News reflecting on what had happened to him. “It’s time we all said, “Enough is enough,” he wrote. He still believes that—now more than ever.

Free Marissa and All Black People

”Marissa’s un-freedom cages me. Who will keep our sisters if not us?”

Source: www.truth-out.org

The parallels between Marissa’s unjust prosecution/imprisonment & Mike Brown’s killing by law enforcement are evident to me. Yet, I am well aware that for too many these are treated as distinct and separate occurrences. They are not. In fact, the logic of anti-blackness and punishment connects both.

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND Guest Profiles

Marissa Alexander Takes Plea Deal In Florida ‘Warning Shot’ Case

  JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A woman accused of firing a gun at her estranged husband and his two sons in what she said was self-defense took a plea deal in a case that first got attention beca…

Source: newsone.com

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND Guest Profiles

Marissa Alexander agrees to plea deal

VILLE, Fla. — Facing a possible 60 years in prison for firing a gun at her estranged husband and his two sons, Marissa Alexander agreed Monday to a plea deal that effectively ends the four-year old criminal case against her.

Source: www.firstcoastnews.com

I understand this decision, but do not be mistaken – THIS IS NOT JUSTICE.

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND Informed Truth and Resistance

How the St. Louis County Prosecutor Played Us

Ferguson was a lesson in how to outmaneuver and manage a growing protest movement.

Source: www.theroot.com

No one, of course, had expected the tragic killing of Michael Brown to metastasize into an epic post-civil-rights-era clash between police and protesters. Once it did, we unraveled the rotten pistachio nut of race recurring like a bad cancer. Predictable bursts of reaction, from the peaceful to the violent pop-off, will be met by well-equipped police in waiting. But while the heat from calls for justice might thaw the frigid night air, the next day, month and year will find it right back where it all started. 

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND Informed Truth and Resistance

“The Soul of Black Folks: Rediscovering A Critical Truth” ll OUR COMMON GROUND This Week

“To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships.” W.E.B. Dubois – Souls of Black Folks

Saturday, November 15, 2014                   10 pm ET

LIVE with Chatroom     http://bit.ly/1sTnqlI

“The Soul of Black Folks: Rediscovering A Critical Truth”
Guest: Dr. Tommy J. Curry 

"To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships." W.E.B. Dubois – Souls of Black Folks

Saturday, November 15, 2014                   10 pm ET

LIVE with Chatroom     http://bit.ly/1sTnqlI

"The Soul of Black Folks: Rediscovering A Critical Truth"

OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham

"Transforming Truth to POWER, One Broadcast At a Time"

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham ☥ Coming Up