'Root of rebellion is violent police department'

By Richard B. Muhammad | Last updated: Apr 28, 2015 - 8:18:24 AM

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A man throws a brick at police, April 27, following the funeral of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. Photo: AP/Wide World photos

( - Baltimore police officers were pelted with rocks, bottles, and planks, patrol cars trashed as news outlets broadcast the unrest live and streamed unfolding events in real time—shortly after Freddie Gray was laid to rest.

The governor of Maryland declared a State of Emergency as scenes of chaos were broadcast around the world.

“What media and everybody focuses more on is a CVS burned about four miles from where I live than what happened to Freddie Gray in that van,” said Dr. Ray Winbush, director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University, a historically Black university in Northeast Baltimore. 
City officials and media want to focus on the rebellion, which is the fruit, “the roots of the rebellion is Baltimore has one of the most violent police forces in the United States,” he continued.
Mondawmin Mall, a major shopping center in a Black neighborhood, was the epicenter for initial clashes between police and high school students.
Later that evening looting was reported at the mall and in businesses along Pennsylvania Avenue. As night fell, other fires and looting broke out in different parts of the city.
Services for Mr. Gray, who died in police custody, were held April 27.  After what police described as an arrest without incident, Mr. Gray died April 19, one week after his arrest. His voice box was crushed and his spine was “80 percent severed at his neck.” Video shot by a bystander shows him screaming in apparent agony as police drag him to a van.
Frustration boils over on city streets
The frustration moved down to Pennsylvania Avenue and North Avenue as windows were smashed, businesses trashed and a fire set inside a looted pharmacy.
Angry crowds moved toward downtown, home of highly prized and expensive sports arenas, hotels, the multi-million dollar Inner Harbor and major tourist attractions. But no major damage was inflicted in the highly developed area of the city.

A Major League Baseball game was postponed, transportation disrupted and schools and businesses closed early as fear and anger spread.
As the violence moved along streets and avenues, the Nation of Islam’s men, the Fruit of Islam of Muhammad Mosque No. 6, were in the streets led by Student Minister Carlos Muhammad. At one West Baltimore intersection the Fruit of Islam tried to prevent injuries and urge restraint from enraged youngsters and residents. In another instance, the F.O.I formed a line between city residents and police clad in riot gear.
The scenes in Baltimore reflected reality that Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan has warned off for over a year. In major addresses in late February and early March, the Minister again said injustice and murder inevitably bring serious consequences.
“Trouble is breaking out in all the countries, and America, the land of the free—and the home of the slave—as well as the brave,” said Min. Farrakhan in his annual Saviours’ Day address in February.
“There’s trouble in Ferguson, trouble in St. Louis, trouble in Chicago, trouble in New York, trouble everywhere you look.  Because ‘justice’ is not where we look; it’s injustice that is the order of the day,” he said.
The next week, in the second part of the address at Mosque Maryam, the Minister explained how “the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said, ‘Justice is the weapon that God Himself will use to bring judgment and justice to the world on the Day of Judgment. Justice is the weapon, and so it doesn’t make any difference, now, when you get beat in the head by the police, and they’re lying and they get away with it—so we think. White people have been doing evil a long time to us, and we’ve been thinking, ‘They got away with it.’ And therefore your breast is hurting because you can’t find justice. But when God says justice is ‘the weapon’—that means that what they have sent forth in our lives is coming back to them, and this is the time that they should reap what they have sown. 
“Pay attention to the talk of Obadiah in the Bible, Chapter 1, verse 15, and parse these words:  ‘For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.’ ” 
Political leaders speak
Mayor Stephanie Blake Rawlings drew a line between protestors and “thugs who only want to incite violence and destroy our city.” Years spent building the city cannot be destroyed by thugs trying to tear down what so many have fought for and destruction of businesses and property that will impact the community for years, she said.
The mayor said she requested the National Guard to get things under control and spoke with President Obama. Along with the National Guard will be a citywide curfew, effective April 28, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., for one week and extended as necessary, she said. A juvenile curfew is already in effect 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. for school children, she said.
Emergency Activation Center is open to have a citywide response to problems that arise, she added. Other city political leaders echoed the mayor with Bernard C. “Jack” Young, city council president, calling those involved in unrest and looting “opportunists.”
Fears were expressed of a repeat of the 1968 riots after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which devastated the city, and politicians vowed not to allow that to happen.
Gov. Larry Hogan, Jr., a Republican, said the state of the emergency deploys the Maryland National Guard and opens the door for “a last resort in order to restore order,” he said. In a phone conversation, President Obama promised to send Attorney General Loretta Lynch to Baltimore and may come himself, said Gov. Hogan.
Col. William Pallozzi of the Maryland State Police said the executive order allows 500 additional law enforcement officers from Maryland to come into the city. Up to 5,000 law enforcement officers from the mid-atlantic region could come in, he added. The National Guard will divide the city into sectors and taking control of every sector, explained Col. Pallozzi.
Major General Linda L. Singh, adjutant general of Maryland National Guard, said 5,000 troops could be put on the streets of Baltimore. She suggested April 27 at the evening press conference that residents go in, sleep for the night and allow for order to be restored.
The National Guard would play a support role to city police, but Guardsmen will be carrying weapons for protection and heavy military vehicles will be used, Maj. General Singh said.
“This is not marital law,” the major general said. Martial law would mean a full military takeover, she added.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) told CNN problems were spread all over the city and police were trying to deal with the crisis. Rep. Cummings said he received a call from Obama aide Valarie Jarrett offering to send in any Justice Dept. help needed to examine the city police department.
Black smoke billowed from a burning pharmacy as a breathless CNN correspondent described the scene. When firefighters connected the hose, a person ran by and cut the hose.
Baltimore police said as many as 15 officers were injured and clashes started with a large group of juveniles confronting and throwing bricks and other items at officers.
Seven officers were injured in the early clashes, Baltimore Police Captain Eric Kowalczyk said at an afternoon press conference. The injuries included broken bones, Capt. Kowalczyk said, and one of the officers was unresponsive.
The Maryland Transit Administration shut down several stations as the unrest continued to unfold. Light Rail train service through the city was also interrupted.
Black Caucus Chairman G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), said in a statement, “We call for peaceful protests so that additional lives are not lost. … The Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the cause of Mr. Gray’s death and the CBC supports that investigation. We all play a critical role in helping restore trust in law enforcement and our justice system. The CBC will continue to work with federal, state and local governments to ensure this system is fair and impartial. African Americans deserve to be treated equally before the law.”
“Enough is enough, you are seeing the result of a violent police force,” countered Dr. Winbush. “No matter what you try to do to deal with it, it keeps killing our people.”
The city has paid out $5.7 million in settlements for police harassment, broken bones and abuses in recent years but few police officers were arrested, he said. Cops know the city will settle with victims but officers won’t be fired, said Dr. Winbush. Suspensions with pay amount to a vacation for officers, he added.
Killing a Black person means nothing, Dr. Winbush said. The officers involved in the Gray incident should have been arrested because a spine doesn’t sever itself, clearly something illegal happened, he added.
If the officers had been arrested none of what you see on TV would have happened, said Dr. Winbush. “The most violent outside agitators in Baltimore today is the police department. And they have been pushing the residents of this city over and over,” he said.
Abdul Arif Muhammad, general counsel of the Nation of Islam, was not surprised at events in his hometown. What we are witnessing all over the country is a rising tide of frustration in the Black community and communities of good will tired of seeing Black men killed by White police officers, said Atty. Arif Muhammad. The Muslim Program calls for an immediate end to police and mob attacks, he observed.
The number of cases of police violence suppressed is surprising and Baltimore isn’t mentioned among cities with problems, said Atty. Arif Muhammad.
But Baltimore has a long history of brutal cops, he continued, sharing an encounter where he was beaten for stopping officers from beating his 14-year-old brother while in college over 30 years ago. Officers beat, took him to a deserted area and tried to force him to run so they could shoot him down, said the attorney. Charges were dropped but a detective targeted him, trumped up charges of a robbery which took years to fight and legally rebut, he continued. A Black woman on a jury refused to vote guilty leading to his acquittal and decision to change his major from pre-med to law, said Atty. Arif Muhammad.
While in the police cruiser handcuffed during the initial incident, ligaments in his shoulder were torn as the ride jostled him around unsecured, he added. There are questions about whether the failure to secure a handcuffed Mr. Gray in a police paddy wagon led to his injuries and eventual death.
We know and have heard many stories of how police officers have taken young Black men and put them in another neighborhood with different street organizations, Atty. Arif Muhammad said.
Officers have taken Blacks to White areas where it was not safe and left them, and planted drugs and weapons on Blacks, he said. “These are realities for Black men so when you see a police officer there are only two choices: Fight to defend your life or try to get as far away from them as you possibly can,” said Atty. Arif Muhammad.
While understanding the mayor’s frustration the lawyer said calling those on the streets or involved in unrest “thugs” was improper. As Min. Farrakhan teaches, those continually deprived of justice over a long time suffer a type of near insanity, Atty. Arif Muhammad said.
Burning and looting of Black neighborhoods by residents is a sign of a kind of insanity because of a lack of justice, he explained.
Most of the first people on the street were school children, and while others may have joined later, teenagers should not be under a blanket label as criminals, especially with all the facts unknown, he commented.
“Branding and labeling of us in this way led to the call for the Million Man March in 1995 by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan because Black people, and Black men in particular, were portrayed as menaces to society,” said Atty. Arif Muhammad, who is working on the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March in October.
Rev. Jamal Bryant, fresh from the burial of Freddie Gray, called for young people who battled police to go home. Rev. Bryant said his desire was that the young people not be arrested or tear gassed.
The day was set aside for mourning and the family asked for no protests today, he said in live interviews broadcast by news media outlets.
In his eulogy, however, and from other speakers at the funeral came calls for justice and vows to keep fighting for justice. Atty. Billy Murphy, Jr., a Gray family attorney, said the crisis in the city is an opportunity to respond properly by reforming the police department and tearing down a Blue Will among officers “that says right or wrong we’re gonna cover for you. We are tearing it down in this town, it’s a corrosion of justice,” he said. (AP contributed to this report).

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From The Final Call Newspaper

Saving Our Girls
By Starla Muhammad -Assistant Editor- | Last updated: Apr 7, 2015 - 12:38:59 AM

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The challenges facing Black females and how to overcome these problems

“The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said, ‘Civilization is measured by the woman.’ If you want to take the world down, the place of attack is the female. If you want to build a world up, you start with the female.” –Minister Louis Farrakhan

There is a commonly repeated narrative that while Black men and boys are under attack in America and are in desperate need of intervention and assistance, Black women and girls are fine and in most instances, excel above and beyond their male counterparts and even thrive in key areas.
The women of the Nation of Islam regularly go to neighborhoods in cities around the country and work in schools to help uplift and fellowship with Black women, teens and girls.

But a critical analysis of data along with the stories and voices of Black women, teens and girls show the reality of continued struggles and challenges faced daily—often with limited or no support.

Black females attempt to navigate in and through a society that views them through the lenses of White supremacy, Black inferiority and sexism.

Despite the success and prominence of Black women like Oprah Winfrey, BeyoncĂ©, Shonda Rhimes, Serena Williams, First Lady Michelle Obama and less well-known sisters like 4-Star Admiral Michelle Howard, the Navy’s second highest ranking officer and the highest ranking Black woman ever in any branch of the U.S. military, the road Black women and girls travel for acceptance and validation is an uphill one.

Even those who “make it” find their intelligence, beauty and talent challenged, scrutinized and called into question.

Reality versus myths

“The way Black women are valued has to change. The fact that there are 64,000 missing Black women and nobody seems to really want to do anything about it or even acknowledge it I think speaks to the fact Black women kind of carry on in this society with a sense of invisibility, that they’re not noted, cherished or valued,” April V. Taylor, a blogger and community organizer told The Final Call. According to data from the Black and Missing Foundation, a non-profit group that raises awareness of missing persons of color, of the over 316,435 missing females reported in the U.S. in 2013, Black females were 37 percent of those missing ages 17 and under and 28.2 percent of those missing ages 18 and older.

There is not one individual issue that if addressed through policy would solve all the problems which are multilayered in scope, continued Ms. Taylor.

“We can look at that in terms of economics. No gender or race makes less money than what Black women do but it’s much bigger than that. I mean we could pay women the same as men and that still may not mean that they’re valued and cherished and given the respect that they deserve,” said Ms. Taylor of, a political, pop-culture and news website.

Media plays a pivotal role in how Black women are portrayed and viewed by society, often perpetuating stereotypes or false images of Black females.
Muslim women sharing valuable information on proper nutrition at a Chicago-area school during a Young Ladies Summit themed, “Black Girls Rock” last summer.
Carla Morrison is founder and executive director of Sisters of Today and Tomorrow, a non-profit mentoring organization with branches in New Haven, Conn. and Atlanta. Her group works with Black girls and teens.

“We’ve got a lot of little girls who just want to fight. For no reason at all they’re just off the chain. And I really do think it’s because of consuming too much television and I hate to be the one to blame television,” she continued. “They see the way that women are interacting with each other and they think that it’s OK and it’s not and no one is really telling them any different.”

The African American Policy Forum along with several racial and social justice groups recently analyzed challenges facing Black women during a week-long online series of actions. It included community dialogue, webinars and social media conversations under the hashtag “Her Dream Deferred: A Series on the Status of Black Women” and ran March 30-April 3.

It examined areas of education, violence, wealth, racism and health. In all areas, Black women were disproportionately on the negative side of statistics.

Black women have the lowest net wealth gap than any other racial or gender group, are incarcerated at three times the rate of White women, have the highest rate of HIV among all women, are more likely to die from breast cancer and in 2010 Black females ages 10-24 experienced the highest rate of homicide than any other group of females and even higher than White men. Black girls are suspended six times the rate of White girls. Even if they make it to an institution of higher learning, that does not guarantee success.

Sandy Muhammad, National M.G.T. Student Captain of the Nation of Islam.
“There’s a common myth that Black women have overwhelmingly made it since they are enrolling in college in numbers that are high compared to their Black male peers. The myth goes on that this must mean that they are somehow immune to the racial crises that plagues the brothers and are not in need of initiatives specially targeted to support their  well-being,” KimberlĂ© Crenshaw, founder and executive director of the African American Policy Forum, said in remarks during the “Black Women Have Not ‘Made It:’ How the Current College Enrollment Narrative Undermines the Real Educational and Socio-Economic Barriers Facing Black Women” discussion at part of the #HerDreamDeferred series.

Black women, though slightly overrepresented in two year colleges, are underrepresented at four-year institutions and have lower graduation rates than White women, said Ms. Crenshaw, adding that 9.7 percent of Black women enroll in college, only slightly higher than the 7 percent of Black men. In 2013 a Black woman with an Associate’s degree was less likely to be employed than a White man with less than a high school diploma. The median wealth of Black women is just $5, lower than any other group. Black women were more impacted by the housing crisis, are more likely to face foreclosure and lost more jobs during the recession than any other group.

Value and virtue
Ms. Morrison is optimistic at changes, growth and development she sees in girls and young women her group works with. Young women with some key components active in their lives seem to want more and do better she said.
M.G.T. around the country go into neighborhoods, talking to women.
“Those couple of things are a faith-based organization presence be it a church, mosque or synagogue, something. The second would be that non-profit organization that’s feeding them community-wise trying to teach them to be more leadership-like which would be like a Sisters of Today and Tomorrow. The third would be a positive woman influence that’s in their home, their mother, older cousin that they live with, their grandmother, something,” said Ms. Morrison. Young women and girls with those types of resources have at least one, if not all those entities correcting negative behavior saying, “that’s not OK” and showing them “I know how to interact with another woman and we have a positive relationship, there’s no fighting here,” said Ms. Morrison.

It is important for older Black women to forge relationships and mentor younger Black teens and girls, help them cultivate and recognize their gifts, skills and talents and help them to realize their value, without being judgmental.

Black Girls Rock, the campaign spearheaded and founded by Beverly Bond celebrates and recognizes the immeasurable contributions Black women and girls make to the fabric of society. The 2015 Black Girls Rock Awards show aired April 5 and this year’s honorees included filmmaker Ava Duvernay, educator Nadia Lopez, actresses Cicely Tyson and Jada Pinkett Smith, singer Erykah Badu and humanitarian Dr. Helene D. Gayle.
Mrs. Obama shared words of encourage
ment and spoke about her own struggles growing up with doubts about her value, despite having a loving mother and father who encouraged her.

“No matter who you are, no matter where you come from, you are beautiful, you are powerful, you are brilliant, you are funny. Let me tell you, I am so proud of you. My husband, your president, is so proud of you,” Mrs. Obama told the audience. She honored Chental-Song Bembry, Gabrielle Jordan and Kaya Thomas, three young, beautiful entrepreneurs and change-agents, this year’s recipients of the Making A Difference (M.A.D. Girl) awards.

“Our country has to come to terms with the fact that women are nurturers and where life comes from. Women have used the strength that they carry, Black women in particular, to be leaders in this new social justice movement that’s unfolding around ‘Black Lives Matter’ in racial justice,” said Ms. Taylor.

“Our society has to come to a point where we respect and value and follow behind women who are willing to lead. I feel like the wounded place that our country is in morally, emotionally, psychologically, that it will take a woman who’s capable of nurturing and healing to lead us forward into something different than this racial oppression this country has known for hundreds of years.”
Questions have risen about the protection, active support and strong voices of Black men and their role of speaking out on the injustices and abuses Black women endure.
Carla Morrison (middle), founder and director of Sisters of Today and Tomorrow, a mentoring organization in New Haven, Conn. and Atlanta that helps transform the lives of young girls, ages 9-18 and the women who raise them. Photo courtesy of

Save Our Girls
With the establishment of the Nation of Islam in North America in 1930 by Master W. Fard Muhammad, teacher of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the critical and vital role of women was present from the beginning of the movement. A special class, the M.G.T. & G.C.C. (Muslim Girls Training and General Civilization Class), was set up specifically for Muslim women where they are taught about who they are as women of God, and to tap into the gifts, skills and talents they possess through 7 training units. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad allowed no men in the class, instead designating the training and development of the sisters to other Muslim women called M.G.T Captains. Mr. Muhammad and today, Minister Louis Farrakhan, are the spiritual heads of the class.

The protection and elevation of the Black women in the Nation was always in the forefront with women holding key positions of leadership and influence. During the early days of Islam, it was women like Mother Clara Muhammad, wife of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and others who kept the movement afloat and functioning while he and other male members were thrown in prison for refusing to serve in the U.S. military.

On several occasions the women fought alongside the men when the Muslims were attacked by police for educating their own children.

The Nation of Islam’s Provisional Constitution has a special section dealing specifically with women’s rights and Min. Farrakhan’s national spokesperson is attorney, author and radio personality, student Minister Ava Muhammad. He also appointed her as the first woman over a mosque in the Muslim world. Women in the Nation of Islam are doctors, lawyers, stay-at-home moms, teachers, entrepreneurs, artists and more. They are encouraged to seek knowledge to rise to their fullest potential.

Min. Farrakhan enters to address the sisters’ class rarely, which is why the internet, radio and social media circles are buzzing about April 18. The M.G.T. Class, which is usually only for registered women and girls of the Nation of Islam, is being opened up on that day for a Women Only live webcast.

Min. Farrakhan will deliver the keynote address from Chicago with the theme “Save Our Girls: A Nation Can Rise No Higher Than Its Woman.” Nation of Islam mosques and study groups nationally and abroad are opening their doors that day for women to hear this vital message.

Under the direction of National M.G.T. Student Captain Sandy Muhammad, the women of the Nation in various regions around the country and world are excited, reaching out to churches, mentoring groups, high schools and college campuses, inviting women and girls to participate in this first of its kind event. Organizations are sponsoring buses and thousands of women and girls are expected nationwide.

Sister Gilda Muhammad, M.G.T. student captain of Muhammad Mosque No. 54 in Compton, Calif., is coordinating activities for the Western Region. There is so much excitement in the community she told The Final Call. We are reaching out to several Black organizations and churches, she said. Charlene Muhammad, national correspondent for The Final Call newspaper based in Los Angeles, dedicated her Liberated Sisters radio show April 4 to the Save Our Girls event. The show was broadcast on KPFK 90.7 FM and a replay of the show is available on

“It’s so exciting. It’s building up. They’ve created a Facebook page and it’s all over the media. So Insha’Allah (God-willing) we on the West Coast are shooting for 3,000 … we are working, fired up. It’s like a movement on the West Coast,” said Gilda Muhammad.

Headquartered in Atlanta, LaShonda Muhammad, southern regional M.G.T. student captain told The Final Call sisters are working diligently and excitement is also building. The Muslim women have forged great relationships with area organizations through the years. On a flyer promoting the Atlanta event is a bar code which when scanned, shows a video clip of Min. Farrakhan speaking on the beauty and value of the woman. Muslim women are posting and sharing the flyer on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media networks.

On April 5, the day many Christians celebrated Easter, the Muslims visited 20 churches in and around the city to invite female congregants to the event, said LaShonda Muhammad. She and the Muslim men and women often visit some of the area’s poorer communities.

“What I have recognized when I have spoken to several of the women is the limited resources and they’re feeling trapped in their environment that there is no way out and ‘this is all that I know, this is what my mother taught me and what my grandmother taught me, I don’t know anything outside of this,’ ” she explained. That mindset is a hindrance to the growth and development of Black women, she continued.

When asked what women can expect from Min. Farrakhan’s upcoming message, LaShonda Muhammad said she knows he will give and provide guidance to make Black females think outside of that box of this society as well as above limitations imposed by themselves and their families.
“The most powerful impact the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad as given to us by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has for us as Black women is because the teachings speak directly to the core of who we are and  who we were designed to be by God himself,” said LaShonda Muhammad.

“This is why when the Minister speaks and gives us this word it penetrates us so much so that we want to shed the old person and become a new person. And it’s because it literally taps into that which we were created by God to hear, to respond to, to try to line up in accordance with to be able to live the life that God intended for us to live,” she added. “The Minister paints this wonderful, beautiful picture that literally allows us to see ourselves in that original vision that God has for his people and for us specifically as women.”

Click here for more information about Save Our Girls.