The Police Have Been Spying on Black Reporters and Activists for Years :: ProPublica

The police surveillance wasn’t conducted just with wiretaps and long lenses, but with snitches planted within local organizations, including spies planted by then-Mayor Henry Loeb, an anti-union segregationist, among sanitation workers who wanted to join a union.

I Know Because I’m One of Them.

Wendi C. Thomas is a black journalist who has covered police in Memphis. One officer admitted to spying on her. She’s on a long list of prominent black journalists and activists who have been subjected to police surveillance over decades.

by Wendi C. Thomas, MLK50: Justice Through Journalism June 9, 2020, 6 a.m. EDTWendi C. Thomas learned during a police surveillance trial that the Memphis Police Department spied on her and three other journalists. (Andrea Morales)

RACIAL JUSTICE

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This article was produced in partnership with the MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — On Aug. 20, 2018, the first day of a federal police surveillance trial, I discovered that the Memphis Police Department was spying on me.

The ACLU of Tennessee had sued the MPD, alleging that the department was in violation of a 1978 consent decree barring surveillance of residents for political purposes.

I’m pretty sure I wore my pink gingham jacket — it’s my summer go-to when I want to look professional. I know I sat on the right side of the courtroom, not far from a former colleague at the city’s daily newspaper. I’d long suspected that I was on law enforcement’s radar, simply because my work tends to center on the most marginalized communities, not institutions with the most power.

One of the first witnesses called to the stand: Sgt. Timothy Reynolds, who is white. To get intel on activists and organizers, including those in the Black Lives Matter movement, he’d posed on Facebook as a “man of color,” befriending people and trying to infiltrate closed circles.

Projected onto a giant screen in the courtroom was a screenshot of people Reynolds followed on Facebook.

My head was bent as I wrote in my reporter’s notebook. “What does this entry indicate?” ACLU attorney Amanda Strickland Floyd asked.

“I was following Wendi Thomas,” Reynolds replied. “Wendi C. Thomas.”

I sat up.

“And who is Wendi Thomas?” Floyd asked.

She, he replied, used to write for The Commercial Appeal. In 2014, I left the paper after being a columnist for 11 years.

It’s been more than a year since a judge ruled against the city, and I’ve never gotten a clear answer on why the MPD was monitoring me. Law enforcement also was keeping tabs on three other journalists whose names came out during the trial. Reynolds testified he used the fake account to monitor protest activity and follow current events connected to Black Lives Matter.

My sin, as best I can figure, was having good sources who were local organizers and activists, including some of the original plaintiffs in the ACLU’s lawsuit against the city.

In the days since cellphone video captured white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin squeezing the life out of George Floyd, a black man, residents in dozens of cities across the country have exercised their First Amendment rights to protest police brutality.

Here in Memphis, where two-thirds of the population is black and 1 in 4 lives below the poverty line, demonstrators have chanted, “No justice, no peace, no racist police!”

The most recent protests were sparked by the killings of Floyd and of Breonna Taylor, a black woman gunned down in her home by Louisville, Kentucky, police in March. But in Memphis, like elsewhere, the seeds of distrust between activists and police were planted decades ago. And law enforcement has nurtured these seeds ever since.

A Long History of Spying

In the mid-1960s, the MPD launched a domestic intelligence unit to spy not just on activists, but also on teachers’ meetings, a college black student union and labor organizers. That included Martin Luther King Jr., who came to Memphis in the spring of 1968 to stand in solidarity with underpaid and mistreated black city sanitation workers.

The police surveillance wasn’t conducted just with wiretaps and long lenses, but with snitches planted within local organizations, including spies planted by then-Mayor Henry Loeb, an anti-union segregationist, among sanitation workers who wanted to join a union.

In the iconic photo taken just moments after a gunman shot King on the Lorraine Motel balcony, several people are seen pointing in the direction from which the bullet came. Crouched over King’s body is a man holding a towel to the gaping wound on King’s face. The man, rarely identified in photos, is Marrell “Mac” McCollough, a Memphis cop who was assigned to infiltrate a militant activist group hated by Memphis police. There’s no evidence he was involved with King’s assassination.

Some, including members of King’s family, have long speculated that the assassination was not the work of a lone gunman but orchestrated by federal law enforcement agencies (the FBI famously monitored and harassed King). Both a U.S. House committee independent review in 1979 and a Department of Justice review in 2000 found no basis for this. Still, in 2002, the National Civil Rights Museum, which sits where the motel was, added to its permanent exhibits “Lingering Questions,” which contains hundreds of pieces of evidence, including the bullet plucked from King’s body. One of the questions (that the exhibit does not definitively answer): “Was the Memphis Police Department part of the conspiracy?”

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On the Minds of Black Lives Matter Protesters: A Racist Health System

Black lives are being lost to COVID-19 at twice the rate of others. For protesters we talked to, that’s one more reason to be on the street. “If it’s not police beating us up, it’s us dying in a hospital from the pandemic,” one said.

In 1976, the ACLU of Tennessee sued the city, alleging it had violated residents’ First Amendment rights by maintaining records that “contained unverified information and gossip which related exclusively to the exercise of lawful and peaceful activities,” and, according to the complaint, “served no lawful or valid law enforcement purpose.”

A judge agreed and in 1978 signed the Kendrick consent decree, the first such decree in the country, which barred law enforcement from surveilling protesters for political purposes.

Many of today’s protesters know about that ruling, because in 2017 the ACLU of Tennessee sued the city, alleging that police were violating the consent decree by again illegally spying on residents who were exercising their First Amendment rights.

In 2016, protesters had a series of high-profile demonstrations including a May protest at the Memphis Zoo, a spontaneous protest against police brutality in July in which hundreds blocked traffic on the Interstate 40 bridge and a December “die-in” in the mayor’s front yard. After those, according to the lawsuit, the city started a blacklist of residents barred from City Hall without an escort.

It contained the names not just of those who had been arrested at demonstrations, but many who had not, including the mother of Darrius Stewart, a black teen police shot and killed in 2015 following a traffic stop, and a white grandmother who’d made it through a security blockade outside Graceland while black protesters were held back.

Reynolds’ sleuthing made up a good part of the joint intelligence briefings, which were shared with law enforcement agencies and some of the city’s largest corporations, such as FedEx and AutoZone, at the businesses’ request. (Facebook told the MPD it violated the social platform’s terms of service by creating fake accounts and impersonating others.)

In court, the city argued that the surveillance — videotaping demonstrations, using social media collators to sweep up posts about police and Black Lives Matters supporters — was necessary to protect public safety.

But while joint intelligence briefings and internal reports were ostensibly to keep track of potential threats, they were littered with unfounded rumors, misidentified photos of activists and surveillance reports of events that posed no clear threat, such as a black food truck festival.

And while it’s true that the pen is mightier than the sword, there’s nothing about me that screams threat, unless critical reporting on public policy and public officials, including Mayor Jim Strickland, counts.

In 2017, MLK50: Justice Through Journalism covered the anniversary of the bridge protest, but when I tried to get an interview with the mayor, I was rebuffed.

“Objectivity dictates if the mayor does one on one interviews,” wrote Ursula Madden, the city’s chief communications officer in an email. “You have demonstrated, particularly on social media, that you are not objective when it comes to Mayor Strickland.”

I replied that I was disappointed and asked her to point me to any errors of fact I’d made in my coverage. She did not respond.

Nagging Suspicions

I’ve worked as a journalist in Memphis for the last 17 years. I’ve never been a victim of police brutality, but few of my interactions with police have inspired confidence.

In 2014, while I was at The Commercial Appeal, a reader threatened by email to rape me after a column I wrote about Confederate Gen. Nathan B. Forrest. I reluctantly reported the threat to police, but the investigation felt lackluster and no suspect was ever identified.

It nagged at me, and years later, when I tried to learn more about what steps the detective assigned to my case had taken, department officials refused to share any information, even the details of their interview with me.

In July 2015, I covered the demonstrations that followed Stewart’s death by police. I interviewed the teen’s father and posted the video on Instagram.

A few days later, a cousin I hadn’t seen in years stopped by. He wanted to take a quick tour through downtown Memphis. It was dark and rainy. He’s black with long locks and a beard.

I wanted to be a good host, but before I left the house, I tweeted my hesitation: “My cousin is in town for work, leaving tomorrow. He wants to see Downtown. My 1st thought: Do I want to risk an encounter w/ police?”

My fear was not without cause: Less than two weeks earlier, Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old black woman, had been forced out of her car by an aggressive Texas cop who’d stopped her for failing to signal while changing lanes. A dashboard camera video caught her arrest and three days later, she was found dead in a jail cell. Authorities said she died by suicide.

I was thinking about what happened to Bland and what had happened to Stewart, who had been shot to death by police following a traffic stop the same month.

Just a few miles from home, flashing lights filled my rearview mirror. I pulled over, heart pounding.

I hit record on my cellphone and placed it on the dashboard. You can’t see the officer’s face in the video, which I still have, but you can hear our voices over the windshield wipers. The officer, who was black, asked for my license. I handed it to him and asked why I’d been stopped.

He said my driver’s side headlight was out, but when he leaned over to tap it, he said it was back on.

“I’m not trying to be Sandra Bland tonight,” I told the officer.

The Memphis officer said he was trying to be a nice guy. “You think I want to stand out here in the rain?” he can be heard saying on video.

“Ms. Thomas,” he said, reading my license. “Ms. Wendi Thomas.” I wondered if he recognized my byline. I offered to show him what I had just tweeted but he declined. “Your headlights are working now,” he said. “You be safe, OK?”

“Yeah, but what happens when somebody else pulls me over?” I asked.

“I don’t know what somebody else is gonna do,” he said, “but I know that if you do the right things, if you’re doing the right things, then nothing else can happen but good.”

I now wonder if the police had been following me. The police department did not answer questions for this story.

But at the time, I was paralyzed by fear and wanted to avoid being pulled over again.

I took side streets home.

Why Were You Following Me?

After Reynolds left the stand after naming me as someone he had followed, the judge took a short recess. I headed outside the courtroom and saw Reynolds headed to the elevator.

I followed him. When the doors closed, I stuck out my hand and introduced myself. I asked: Why were you following me on social media?

Although it was chilly in the courtroom, Reynolds was sweating. He said he couldn’t talk about it.

Two days after Reynolds’ testimony, I filed a public records request with the city of Memphis, asking for all joint intelligence briefings, emails or other documents that referenced me or any of the three other journalists that the MPD was following on social media.

Four hundred and thirty three days later, the city produced the records — and I still don’t understand what would make police see me as a threat worthy of surveillance in the name of public safety.

Contained in the documents: A screenshot of a Facebook post that I made on Jan. 28, 2016, while I was on a fellowship at Harvard University. I’d shared a notice about a grassroots coalition meeting to be held that day.

In a joint intelligence briefing was a screenshot of a tweet I’d been tagged in. The original tweet, which at the time police captured it had 11 likes and one retweet, was itself a screenshot of an offensive image a Memphis police officer had allegedly posted on Snapchat.

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Our country’s long history of structural racism stands at the center of why police brutality, COVID-19 and the opioid crisis are disproportionately killing black Americans, including in Chicago.

In another police email was a February 2017 tweet I sent about an upcoming protest, which had been announced on Facebook. It got two likes.

The city of Memphis is pushing back against the judge’s ruling. Its lawyers have asked the court to modify the consent decree, contending that the city can’t participate in a Trump administration public safety partnership if it isn’t allowed to share intelligence with federal agencies.

My battles with the city of Memphis didn’t end with the lawsuit, unfortunately.

In 2018, I was trying to figure out which corporations had answered the mayor’s call to financially subsidize police operations by funneling $6.1 million to the city through a secretive nonprofit, the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission.

Strickland wouldn’t divulge the companies’ identities, but he realized that public records I’d requested would. So the mayor’s staff, in conjunction with the Crime Commission and another secretive nonprofit, came up with a plan to release the companies’ names to local journalists before releasing the records to me, I learned through emails released in conjunction with a 2018 public records lawsuit against the Crime Commission.

And this year, I was forced to sue the city after it refused to include me on its media email advisory list despite repeated requests.

The city of Memphis did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

My experiences have shaped the way my newsroom has covered more recent protests, including those in Memphis since Floyd’s death.

guide on covering protests from the Racial Equity in Journalism Fund at Borealis Philanthropy notes, “Understand how police use news coverage to surveil black communities. Don’t allow police to use you, or your coverage, to do their jobs.”

We applied these principles to our recent coverage of a civil disobedience training that drew more than 350 people. While we know the names of the people we talked to, if participants weren’t comfortable using their whole name or showing their entire face, we protected their identity.

After all, I know how it feels to know that the police are watching you.

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“BURNING IT DOWN: BUILDING ANEW” with Kim Brown, Host, BURN IT DOWN LIVE

This Week at OUR COMMON GROUND

Our Guest:  Kim Brown, Host, Burn It Down with Kim Brown

Saturday, October 9, 2021 ∞ 10 pm ET

Tune In Here: http://bit.ly/OCGTruthTalk

Listen Line: 347-838-9852 

Can Janice Have A Word ?

Systemically oppressed survivors face tremendous, overwhelming barriers to seeking advocacy and justice. The challenges, and the history of institutional oppression of our people is often time met with lies, propaganda and obfuscation. There are historical underpinnings include events that took place in the past which impact how an individual or community perceives events or reacts to issues in the present. Additionally, the government, elected officials and mainstream organizations are not designed for or by systemically oppressed peoples and are often complicit or architects. Thus, it is critical that people who advocate on our behalf, analyze for us, comment or any other form of representation understand the historical trauma and its impact on Black people as a systemically oppressed people. We are told and offered illusionary idea of what will fix it. To some of these systemic and institutional impediments, traps and weapons, there is no fix. They must simply be “burned down”.

We  use history as a lens to provide a holistic approach and knowledge to claim our own liberation. Sometime, those who are unable to access relevant information may have blind spots, in places that are critical. We use others to “fill us in”. Unfortunately, all opinion is not critical analysis. All talk is not critical examination or analysis. Cultural, economic and political  relevant response requires a deep understanding of our story and how different every context is, paying close attention to where we are in our struggle and the multiplicity of our experiences and reality . We need people who are able to break through the BS and see clearly what is before us at every turn. Know the rules, the playlist and the players.  People brave enough, smart enough and capable enough to show us the traps and tell us the truth. I have tried to be one of those. As I prepare to end my broadcast presence, I am on the hunt to recommend to the thousands of listeners who have depended on me over the last 34 years.  Kim Brown is one of those people. We are grateful to have her share our microphone.

Restructuring  and creating systems matter.“BURNING IT DOWN: BUILDING ANEW”

  “Burn it Down with Kim Brown” is a twice weekly live broadcast and Kim Brown calls out systemic issues within our society and envisioning a new world. She talks about how to restructure and create systems that are inclusive of everyone. She keeps it real, and actively destroys myths that the media and politicians love that we believe, like American Exceptionalism.

Burn It Down with Kim Brown is the place where you can set oppression ablaze. A Black woman led independent media that DGAF about taking on the establishment.

She makes a microphone rumble.

-Janice Graham

“Burn it Down with Kim Brown” is a twice weekly live broadcast and Kim Brown calls out systemic issues within our society and envisioning a new world. She talks about how to restructure and create systems that are inclusive of everyone. She keeps it real, and actively destroys myths that the media and politicians love that we believe, like American Exceptionalism.

Burn It Down with Kim Brown is the place where you can set oppression ablaze. A Black woman led independent media that DGAF about taking on the establishment.

BURNING IT DOWN with Kim Brown

Facebook https://fb.me/BIDWKB Follow us on Twitter @BurnItDownKB Check out our Insta @BIDWKB ALL

Burn it Down content remains FREE and available on a YouTube channel, listener support is the only thing that can keeps BID going!!

Support BID on Patreon at: https://www.patreon.com/BIDWKB

The AFRO-American Newspapers invests to digitize 129 years of archives – Local Media Association + Local Media Foundation

The AFRO-American Newspapers has a daunting task ahead: Creating a searchable and publicly-accessible database to house an estimated 3 million photos, thousands of letters, business records, original audio recordings, advertisements and even reporters’ notebooks. And then there are the newspapers themselves — 129 years of them. “The collection is really remarkable. It’s probably one of […]

Source: The AFRO-American Newspapers invests to digitize 129 years of archives – Local Media Association + Local Media Foundation

Glen Ford and the Need for Black Radical Analysis :: Pascal Robert 

Glen Ford and the Need for Black Radical AnalysisPascal Robert 

Pascal Robert a regular contributor to the online publication Black Agenda Report and is the current co-host of the THIS IS REVOLUTION PODCAST. He is an OUR COMMON GROUND Voice and INterLOCUTOR

04 Aug 2021

  

 Glen Ford and the Need for Black Radical Analysis
Glen Ford

Glen Ford and the Need for Black Radical Analysis

Black radical analysis was the foundation of Ford’s work

Since the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the fifty-year counter-revolution against the transformative politics that had reached their apex in the 1960s brought forth a constriction of the American political imagination. When Richard Nixon took control of the executive branch, he used appeals to Black capitalism to tamper support for radicalism among the emerging Black middle class. Thus, just as the hammer of Jim Crow segregation was lifted, the class schisms that would shape Black political life became sharpened. In the post-civil rights era, the Black working class and poor, whose labor as sharecroppers and domestic workers during Jim Crow became obsolete, were forced to confront a new set of social and economic maladies: deindustrialization, urban blight, mass incarceration, and heroine epidemics. Yet at the same time, the nascent Black middle class who benefitted from minority set aside programs, affirmative action, and foundation funded racial uplift programs emerged as the gatekeepers of Black politics. The consequence of Black politics becoming a predominately middle-class politics of elite management meant that the clarion call of the Black radicals, who from the earliest days of the American Republic fought against political lethargy, complacency, and collaboration with forces of Black oppression, was largely lost. Glen Ford, founding editor of Black Agenda Report, was one of the few exceptions to that rule.

Glen Ford was born in 1949 to two parents who had met as radicals in the post WWII era. Thus, he was exposed at an early age to people that did not simply fold under the weight of the status quo. Glen’s father was a storied Black media personality in Georgia, while his mother was a dedicated activist in all aspects of Black politics in New Jersey. Following their separation, Glen spent time with both parents mastering the respective skills of each. Indeed, Glen Ford soon became a noted radio and television personality in his own right, joining the Black Panther Party in the 1960s and subsequently living his life as an activist journalist.

The details of Glen Ford’s life are easily ascertained, but even accessing the facts of his many accomplishments distracts one from understanding what made Glen Ford so important to American society. Glen Ford was a journalist and thinker who was rooted in the tradition of Black radical analysis. Black radical analysis is the ability to look at the overall social and political reality of Black people. It is premised on understanding the forces of racial and economic antagonism that hinder that constituency’s emancipation. However, this is coupled with keen awareness of internal mechanisms, forces, structures, and individuals within the Black constituency which collaborate with the social, political, and economic establishment resulting in further subjugation of the larger masses of Black people. Such a realization may seem simple for many to fathom. Yet, the over-arching social consensus views Black people as a singular underclass without internal conflict or class stratification. Therefore, those who dare expose how internal social and ideological schisms among Black people facilitate ruling class subterfuge are not merely anomalous, but clearly exceptional. Some may ask, “What is particularly Black about this form of analysis?” I would respond that awareness of the social mechanisms within the Black constituency requires not only proximity to the constituency, but the capacity to have such analysis taken seriously by larger Black society without breeding the suspicion of it being created by racial antagonists. Does anyone believe that Black America would take kindly to the exposure of the limitations of the Black political class if they were mostly leveled by voices outside that community? Anyone who assumes as much does not realize how much ire and push back those who engage in Black radical analysis receive from those within the “community” who are blinded by the charade of racial kinship politics into believing most Black political actors work under unitary Black interest.

Glen Ford, starting at Black Commentator and eventually through Black Agenda Report, created a lexicon and analysis of the Black political class, the civil rights establishment, the Foundation/Philanthropy world, and the left flank of capital. He introduced a whole generation of online readers unfamiliar with such strident critiques to a deeper understanding of the type of neoliberal Black politics that became more common in the Obama age, while even Black activists and academics incorporated such analysis into their work. Before the regular publications of Glen Ford, Bruce Dixon, and Margaret Kimberly one could only find such Black radical analysis in the books of a certain cadre of Black intellectuals and Black political scholars. Otherwise, one had to have personal access to the few Black radicals who kept such analysis alive during the fifty-year counter-revolution. What Glen Ford was able to do was take such trenchant analysis and popularize it. In doing so, consumers of online news media would begin to understand what was meant by terminology such as the “Black political class”, more notoriously, the “Black mis-leadership class.” At the same time, he was able to communicate the reality of the more cannibalistic neoliberal shift in American capitalism that took place during the post-civil rights era fifty-year counter-revolution. In short, he helped readers understand the disorienting waves of hyper privatization, de-unionization, gentrification, and public-school evisceration while such processes inflicted incalculable pain upon the laboring classes in general, and Black and Brown communities in particular.   

In the area of foreign policy, Glen Ford and Black Agenda Report stood alone among online publications in keeping the spirit of Black internationalism and Pan-Africanism that was once a common fixture of Black thought alive. A nuanced analysis of almost every political and economic crisis that affected the global Black diaspora was a regular part of Glen Ford and Black Agenda Report’s weekly repertoire. Furthermore, challenging the exploits of American Empire in the Muslim word, Global South, and even Europe, was also well within the purview of Glen Ford and the Black Agenda Report crew. This level of global and domestic coverage made Glen Ford one of the most important journalists in an age when Black politics was sadly embracing the neoliberal turn in both economics and policy.

However, without a doubt the most important contribution of Glen Ford and Black Agenda Report was to strike a massive journalistic blow against the curated Black consensus that supported the trojan horse, Robert Rubin hatched presidency of Barack Obama. My personal affiliation with Black Agenda Report developed from watching Glen Ford eloquently explain how the Wall Street Manchurian Candidate Barack Obama represented a threat to Black politics and Black people unseen in the modern history of the republic. Ford and his coterie were viciously attacked for exposing what only became obvious after almost fifty percent of Black wealth evaporated under the stewardship of the Obama presidency without recourse.

Therefore, not only did Glen Ford provide a critical service to Black America as a journalist, but he also provided a massive service to the burgeoning new left that developed in the wake of Occupy Wall Street and the Bernie Sander presidential campaign by having a journalistic record that challenged both the neoliberal Wall Street pawn Obama, and the whole corporate bought and paid for Democratic party establishment. The importance of Glen Ford to contemporary American journalism and political commentary cannot be overstated. In the wake of his passing, I can only consider myself fortunate to have personally experienced his wisdom and political education through regular phone conversations when I submitted articles. This, combined with the close friendship I developed with Bruce Dixon, made the work of Glen Ford and Black Agenda Report not only politically significant, but personally crucial to my development over more than ten years as a writer and political commentator.  It is largely because of Glen Ford, Bruce Dixon, Margaret Kimberley and Black Agenda Report that I have the foundation needed to engage in my own media project with Jason Myles on our show “THIS IS REVOLUTION PODCAST.”   It actually gives me a sense of honor to think that in some way, the work of Glen Ford and Bruce Dixon, who have both transitioned, can live on in the political commentary I bring forth in my work. In this way I feel personally enriched by both these men who dedicated their lives to the betterment of humanity. I salute their memories and hope to only improve upon the standard they have set. They embodied some of the best of what America has to offer in terms of political commentary and thought. Let us all recognize the importance of Black radical analysis in light of their passing.

Pascal Robert is an essayist and political commentator whose work covers Black politics, global affairs, and Haitian politics. His work has appeared in the Washington Spectator, Black Commentator, Alternet, AllHipHop.com, and The Huffington Post. He is a regular contributor to the online publication Black Agenda Report and is the current co-host of the THIS IS REVOLUTION PODCAST, which is live streamed via Youtube and relevant social media on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9pm eastern standard time and Saturday’s at Noon. Pascal Robert is a graduate of Hofstra University and Boston University School of Law. 

A Tribute to Black Truth Warrior, Glen Ford ::: OCG Honors His Work

“Remembering Glen Ford”

This Week on OUR COMMON GROUND we remember Glen Ford. Glen who made his transition on Thursday, July 28, 2021.

Glen Ford was the Founder, Executive Editor of Black Agenda Report, an important publication, blog, and radio station.

Glen Ford, Founer and Executive Editor, Pioneering Black Truth Teller

Ford co-founded BlackCommentator.com (BC) in 2002. The weekly journal quickly became the most influential Black political site on the Net. In October 2006, Ford and the entire writing team left BC to launch BlackAgendaReport.com (BAR).

He created his first radio syndication, a half-hour weekly news magazine called “Black World Report” – and Washington, DC. In 1974, Ford joined the Mutual Black Network (88 stations), where he served as Capitol Hill, State Department and White House correspondent, and Washington Bureau Chief, while also producing a daily radio commentary. In 1977, Ford co-launched, produced, and hosted “America’s Black Forum” (ABF), the first nationally syndicated Black news interview program on commercial television.

In addition to his broadcast and Internet experience, Glen Ford was national political columnist for Encore American & Worldwide News magazine; founded The Black Commentator and Africana Policies magazines; authored The Big Lie: An Analysis of U.S. Media Coverage of the Grenada Invasion (IOJ, 1985); voiced over 1000 radio commercials (half of which he also produced) and scores of television commercials; and served as reporter and editor for three newspapers (two daily, one weekly).

We have lost a brilliant, insightful strong voice, his persistence, his sacrifice, his passion, and the spirit of an INFORMED, LIBERATED, and FREE Black nation. His service and work will resonate for many Black generations and years to come.

Always a Truth Warrior, now a Beloved Ancestor.

‘Black Fatigue: How Racism Erodes the Mind, Body, and Spirit’ With Author Mary-Frances Winters | KUT Radio, Austin’s NPR Station

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Mary-Frances Winters, founder and president of The Winters Group, Inc., and author of Black Fatigue: How Racism Erodes the Mind, Body, and Spirit.

Black fatigue is the physical and psychological toll on African Americans’ daily lives as a result of systemic racism. The damage wrought by racism isn’t only the atrocities so powerfully condemned in the demonstrations and protests around the world.

Winters talks about African Americans being middle class and that being from a two-parent family does not protect them from systemic racism; how millennials and Generation Z continue to suffer under the hand of systematic oppression; and how, as a baby boomer, she lived through three different generations of racial discrimination and unrest in North America.

 

Source: ‘Black Fatigue: How Racism Erodes the Mind, Body, and Spirit’ With Author Mary-Frances Winters | KUT Radio, Austin’s NPR Station

We Have To Stop Valorizing Black Cops | Black Agenda Report

We Have To Stop Valorizing Black Cops

The purpose of policing––to jail and kill Black folks––remains the same regardless of the officers’ race.

“Allowing Black people into inherently racist systems does not make those systems better, safer, or more equitable.”

Policing in America is facing a PR crisis. Following the May 25th murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, the term “defund the police” has become a rallying cry for thousands across the country. Six months later, however, America has not defunded its police force––and in fact, has in some cases taken steps to give police departments even more money. Instead, police forces across America have taken an insidious approach: painting their departments in blackface.

After the January 6th Trump riot at the Capitol building , Yoganda Pittman, a Black woman, was named the new Chief of Capitol Police. Her appointment followed the resignation of former Chief Steven Sund and the arrest and firing of several white police officers who were found to be in attendance at the MAGA riot. Pittman’s appointment appeased many liberals who falsely believe that allowing Black folks to infiltrate or run law enforcement agencies will lead to higher levels of safety for Black Americans. The termination of several officers  who took part in the riot has convinced many that we are one step closer to “reforming” the police by weeding out the racist, bad apples within the department.

“Pittman’s appointment appeased many liberals.”

This is a nice narrative, but a false one; in order to understand why, we must look at the history of policing in this country. Modern policing in America was originally created as a replacement for America’s slave patrol system wherein squadrons made up of white volunteers were empowered to use vigilante tactics to enforce laws related to slavery. These “enforcers” were in charge of locating and returning enslaved people who had escaped, crushing uprisings led by enslaved people, and punishing enslaved workers who were found or believed to have violated plantation rules. After slavery was legally abolished in 1865, America created its modern police force to do the exact thing under a different name: maintain the white supremacist hierarchy that is necessary under racial capitalism. The purpose of policing––to jail and kill Black folks––remains the same regardless of the officers’ race.

Liberal media has also contributed to the recent valorization of Black cops. In the days after the January 6th riot, many news outlets aggressively pushed a story about Eugene Goodman, a Black capitol police officer who led several rioters away from the Congress people’s hiding places while being chased by a white supremacist mob. Several news outlets published testimonials of Black police officers disclosing instances of racism within the department. A January 14th article in ProPublica  notes that over 250 Black cops have sued the department for racism since 2001: some Black cops have alleged that white officers used racial slurs or hung nooses in Black officer’s lockers, and one Black cop even claimed he heard a white officer say, “Obama monkey, go back to Africa.”

“Modern policing in America was originally created as a replacement for America’s slave patrol system.”

These white officers’ racism is unsurprising, and I am not denying any of these claims. But focusing on these singular, isolated moments of racism wherein white cops are painted as cruel and Black cops are the sympathetic victims grossly oversimplifies the narrative of structural racism that modern American policing was built upon. After hearing these slurs that they were allegedly so disgusted by, these Black cops still intentionally chose to put on their badge, don their guns, and work alongside these white police officers who insulted and demeaned them, laboring under a violent system with the sole purpose of harming and terrorizing Black and low-income communities. Similarly, while Goodman’s actions most likely saved many lives during the riot, we cannot allow one moment of decency to erase centuries of racist violence.

The great Zora Neale Hurston once said: “All my skinfolk ain’t kinfolk.” Her words ring ever true today, and these Black police officers are an excellent example of why. It’s tempting to believe that putting Black folks on the force will solve racial violence, but this is a liberal myth we must break free of. Allowing Black people into inherently racist systems does not make those systems better, safer, or more equitable: a quick look at many Black folks in power today, such as Barack Obama, Kamala Harris, Lori Lightfoot, and Keisha Lance Bottoms immediately prove this to be the case. Everyone supporting racial capitalism must be scrutinized and held accountable, regardless of their identity. We cannot on the one hand say that ‘all cops are bastards’ and then suddenly feel sympathy when those cops are not white. If we want to defund and abolish the police, we must resist the narrative that Black cops have anything to offer us.

Mary Retta is a writer, virgo, cartoon enthusiast — a queer Black writer for sites like Teen Vogue, The Nation, Bitch Media, and Vice.

This article previously appeared in HoodCommunist .

Source: We Have To Stop Valorizing Black Cops | Black Agenda Report

Martin Luther King Jr: New documentary on FBI surveillance – BBC News

Martin Luther King Jr: New documentary on FBI surveillanceMartin Luther King Jr: New documentary on FBI surveillance

CloseShortly after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr led the march on Washington in 1963, FBI agents were ordered to start following the famed civil rights leader.The extent of the surveillance shocked documentary maker Sam Pollard so much he decided to start digging. He managed to uncover FBI documents, sourced secret White House phone calls, and found long-forgotten footage of King at the peak of his career. With interviews from King’s contemporaries Clarence Jones and Andrew Young and former FBI agents, MLK/FBI paints a picture which, as Pollard tells the BBC’s Alex Stanger, mirrors today’s reality.

Watch preview here:  https://www.bbc.com/news/av-embeds/55620286/vpid/p093xfl2“>

Source: Martin Luther King Jr: New documentary on FBI surveillance – BBC News

Lies, Newsweek and Control of the Media Narrative: First-Hand Account | Tareq Haddad

“A mafia runs editors. Freedom of the press is dead. Journalists and ordinary people must stand up.”

A mafia runs editors. Freedom of the press is dead. Journalists and ordinary people must stand up.

INTRODUCTION

Until several days ago, I was a journalist at Newsweek. I decided to hand my resignation in because, in essence, I was given a simple choice. On one hand, I could continue to be employed by the company, stay in their chic London offices and earn a steady salary—only if I adhered to what could or could not be reported and suppressed vital facts. Alternatively, I could leave the company and tell the truth.

In the end, that decision was rather simple, all be it I understand the cost to me will be undesirable. I will be unemployed, struggle to finance myself and will likely not find another position in the industry I care about so passionately. If I am a little lucky, I will be smeared as a conspiracy theorist, maybe an Assad apologist or even a Russian asset—the latest farcical slur of the day.

Although I am a British citizen, the irony is that I’m half Arab and half Russian. (Bellingcat: I’m happy to answer any requests.)

It is a terribly sad state of affairs when perfectly loyal people who want nothing but the best for their countries are labelled with such preposterous accusations. Take Iraq war veteran and Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard for example, who was the target of such mud slinging for opposing U.S. involvement in Syria and for simply standing up to the Democratic Party’s most corrupt politician, Hillary Clinton. These smears are immature for a democracy—but I, in fact, welcome such attacks.

When the facts presented are utterly ignored and the messengers themselves are crucified in this way, it signals to right-minded people who the true perpetrators of lies are and where the truth in fact lies.

That truth is what matters most to me. It is what first drove me to journalism while I was working in Jersey’s offshore finance industry after completing my degree from Binghamton University’s School of Management in upstate New York. I was so outraged when I grew to realize that this small idyllic island I love and had grown up on since the age of nine, a British Crown dependency fifteen miles off the coast of France, was in fact a hub for global tax evasion. This realization came to me while the British people were being told that austerity had to continue—public funding for schools, hospitals, policing and all matter of things were to be slashed—all while the government “recovered” after bailing out the banks following the 2008 crash. That austerity lie was one I could no longer stomach as soon as I came to understand that my fairly uninspiring administrative role was in fact a part of this global network of firms to help multinational companies, businessmen, politicians and members of various royal families in avoiding paying trillions in tax—all under a perfectly legal infrastructure that the government was fully aware of, but kept quiet about.

 

Rad the full publication: Lies, Newsweek and Control of the Media Narrative: First-Hand Account | Tareq Haddad

Race for Profit | Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor | University of North Carolina Press

Race for Profit uncovers how exploitative real estate practices continued well after housing discrimination was banned. The same racist structures and individuals remained intact after redlining’s end, and close relationships between regulators and the industry created incentives to ignore improprieties. Meanwhile, new policies meant to encourage low-income homeownership created new methods to exploit Black homeowners. The federal government guaranteed urban mortgages in an attempt to overcome resistance to lending to Black buyers – as if unprofitability, rather than racism, was the cause of housing segregation. Bankers, investors, and real estate agents took advantage of the perverse incentives, targeting the Black women most likely to fail to keep up their home payments and slip into foreclosure, multiplying their profits. As a result, by the end of the 1970s, the nation’s first programs to encourage Black homeownership ended with tens of thousands of foreclosures in Black communities across the country. The push to uplift Black homeownership had descended into a goldmine for realtors and mortgage lenders, and a ready-made cudgel for the champions of deregulation to wield against government intervention of any kind.

Narrating the story of a sea-change in housing policy and its dire impact on African Americans, Race for Profit reveals how the urban core was transformed into a new frontier of cynical extraction.

Source: Race for Profit | Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor | University of North Carolina Press