From The Final Call Newspaper

Black, blue and the U.S. racial divide

By Starla Muhammad -Managing Editor- | Last updated: Jul 19, 2016 - 12:45:21 PM

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Police killings, race hatred, protests and ever increasing tension, division are ripping the United States apart. The president and leaders want to talk but words are not enough.

A protester shouts at police officers dressed in riot gear as marchers take to the streets to protest against the recent fatal shootings of black men by police, July 8, in Phoenix. Photo: AP/Wide World photos

The opportunity for the country’s first Black president to jumpstart a substantive, no-holds barred dialogue about race,  law enforcement and police interactions with Black and Brown communities has apparently flamed out, leaving little hope for real change as the 2016 presidential election now looms on the horizon.

In the aftermath of the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La. and Philando Castile on the outskirts of St. Paul, Minn., both at the hands of police, the acquittal by a judge of a fourth police officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, the decision not to charge officers in connection with the deaths of Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson, Mo. and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, Black critics of President Barack Obama’s responses to these tragedies say he has failed to use his “bully pulpit” to adequately confront these issues.

Chicago protestors demand justice.
“Obama and his cheerleaders should take responsibility for being so reluctant to engage with these issues. It’s not a question of interest group or constituencies.

Unfortunately for so much of the Obama administration it’s been a question of ‘I’m not the president of black people, I’m the president of everyone.’ But this is a question of justice. It’s about being concerned about racism and police brutality,” wrote Dr. Cornel West, a leading Black intellectual and activist, in the UK-based Guardian newspaper.

But what if anything can or will change under Democratic President Hillary Clinton or Republican President Donald Trump?

“This November, we need change. Yet we are tied in a choice between Trump, who would be a neo-fascist catastrophe, and Clinton, a neo-liberal disaster. … I have deep empathy for brothers and sisters who are shot in the police force. I also have profound empathy for people of color who are shot by the police. I have always believed deliberate killing to be a crime against humanity,” said Dr. West, who teaches at Princeton University. Dr. West and others pointed to the fact that Mr. Obama attended the July 12 memorial services for five Dallas police officers, that officials said were slain by Micah Xavier Johnson versus the telephone calls he placed to family members of Mr. Sterling and Mr. Castile as an example of  inequity in the value and importance of Black lives.
Dr. West blasted Mr. Obama for not going to Baton Rouge or Minneapolis, opting instead to go to Dallas.

“You can’t do that. His fundamental concern was to speak to the police, that was his priority. When he references the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s to speak to the police,” said Dr. West.
 “Obama has power right now to enact the recommendations made after Ferguson. Better training, independent civilian oversight boards, body cameras. But he has not used executive orders to push any of these changes through,” he added.

Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever, author, consultant and commentator, posed a  direct question toward the president. “When are policemen going to go to jail for the murder of Black people? When is that going to become a priority because the bottom line is there is no incentive for change to happen until that starts to occur,” she said.

In what was billed as a “national conversation” on race and policing, an Obama town hall meeting was met with tepid enthusiasm and biting criticism by those who called it a farce in the waning months of his presidency.

Dr. Jones-DeWeever tuned in for the July 14 program that aired on ABC, simulcast on other networks and online and moderated by David Muir of World News Tonight and Jemele Hill of ESPN but came away “exceedingly disappointed.”

“I left that experience believing more than ever that in many respects, to many people in this country the lives of Black people don’t matter at all,” said Dr. Jones-DeWeever, calling it a one hour police public relations and propaganda campaign.

Erica Garner, eldest daughter of Eric Garner who died at the hands of police resulting from an illegal chokehold,  expressed frustration with the town hall. She accused the network of silencing her.
“I need all of you to know that this #ABC town hall that will air at 8p.m. is a sham. They shut out ALL real and hard questions,” Ms. Garner posted on Twitter.

Law enforcement, politicians and family members of those that have died in police custody and family of officers slain in the line of duty participated in the town hall. It followed the fatal shootings and the wounding of police officers in Dallas.

Critics said the continuing focus on how Black people should respond and interact with police instead of police accountability is steering possible solutions in the wrong direction.

The program completely glossed over the responsibility and accountability by police in their duties to protect and serve communities, explained Dr. Jones-DeWeever, who is also the mother of two sons, ages 20 and 13.

“Even if you look at the loss of life in the Dallas situation just generally speaking, to equate the danger that the police face as it relates to that, as well as what we know is going on in this country particularly around Black and Brown communities with the police, it’s a false equivalency,” she continued.

Even with recent police killings in Dallas and Baton Rouge, according to reports, there have been 66 law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty this year, 31 by gunfire compared to 531 people shot and killed by police, 211 of those victims being Black and Latino.

From 2009 to 2015 under President Obama’s administration there were 62 police fatalities, lower than 101 under Ronald Reagan, 90 under George H.W. Bush, 81 under Bill Clinton, and 72 under George H. Bush.

Claude “Paradise” Gray of the legendary hip hop group X-Clan said until honest conversations are had, the problem will continue. “Everyone in the media was focused on ‘stop snitching’ but yet the mother of stop snitching is the ‘blue wall of silence,’ ” he explained, referring to the hesitancy or outright failure of police officers to report one another for wrongdoing and illegal activities.

Damon Jones, New York representative of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America, said Black police organizations like the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) and National Black Police Association have roles in fighting for change on the local, state and federal levels. However Black men and women in blue can’t look at membership in these groups as just an opportunity to get promoted, he said. These groups must be used as catalysts for real change, Mr. Jones said.

Mr. Jones said his group considers itself Black law enforcement activists and includes Black law enforcement professionals like police, sheriffs, marshals, correction and probation officers and includes civilians with a national membership of around 400 people. The group is very outspoken about the role and responsibility of police, especially their functionality in Black communities. Mr. Jones has 27 years’ experience working in the Westchester County Department of Corrections in New York.

Black Lives Matter protest in San Francisco, July 9. Photo: MGN Online
In the last few months of Mr. Obama’s presidency, Mr. Jones said although he loves his “brother” he is not optimistic anything will change. The narrative must change from police brutality to police criminality, explained Mr. Jones.

“When a police officer or law enforcement officer violates their policies and procedures and violates their training, it is a crime and the president and local, state and federal elected officials have not gotten to that point where they recognize that,” he said.

A lot of what needs to change needs to be done at the local level agreed Dr. Jones-DeWeever but one of the things Mr. Obama can enact before he leaves office is an Executive Order that withholds funding if certain directives are not followed. There is nothing in the recommendations in Mr. Obama’s 21st Century Policing Task Force report that talks about police accountability, she said.
Under a Trump presidency, Dr. DeWeever predicts nothing would change and would more than likely get worse saying the Republican leader projects and encourages a culture of violence.

Under a Clinton regime she thinks the presumptive Democratic nominee “would be better” than Mr. Trump but is not sure how aggressive the former first lady would be in addressing and implementing real change—especially given her support of the infamous 1994 Crime Bill signed into law by her husband. The bill ushered in a new era of Black mass incarceration.

During her address to the NAACP National Convention in Cincinnati on July 18, Mrs. Clinton spoke on the need for police and criminal justice reform and acknowledged the fear many Blacks have of police.

“I would like to point out to the president and to everyone else, what did we do to become the bad guy? We weren’t the ones that kidnapped anybody, brought them to a foreign land, forced them to work as slaves for hundreds of years and then came up with Jim Crow and Black Codes and Slave Codes and all kinds of laws to criminalize us after slavery so that we would continue to be in the Prison Industrial Complex because of the 13th Amendment,” said Mr. Gray.

“What did we do to become this bad guy that there’s no fear that we should be shot on sight?”

For additional analysis and commentary shared by Jones Dr. Jones-DeWeever, Mr. Gray and Mr. Jones, on this issue visit

From The Final Call Newspaper

Raw racial wounds exposed in Dallas shootings and videotaped killings

By Richard B. Muhammad and Jihad Hassan Muhammad | Last updated: Jul 12, 2016 - 11:55:25 AM

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DALLAS—The raw racial wounds that go to America’s core were exposed with the back-to-back shootings of two Black men captured on video and the killings of five police officers in what authorities called a revenge attack for the failure to stop the killings of Black people.

While the family members of alleged cop killer Micah Xavier Johnson apologized for what police officials said he did, which was allegedly kill officers from a sniper position following a Black Lives Matter march, and expressed sorrow over his death, the nation’s racial divide was more than clear.
His mother said her son was a different person, “a hermit,” after serving in the U.S. military.

“Delphine Johnson, the gunman’s mother, said she watched her son transform from a fun-loving extrovert into a ‘hermit’ after his military service, which spanned roughly six years and included a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan. While the parents couldn’t recall their son mentioning any particular incident that may have been traumatic during his time as a U.S. Army reservist, they agreed something had changed,” reported The Blaze, an online publication associated with conservative Glenn Beck.
Protesters in downtown Dallas evacuate during a sniper attack.

Police in downtown Dallas tell civilians to ‘get back’ during a sniper attack on July 7. Photos: MGN Online

Police check a car early, July 8, in Dallas. A sniper opened fire on police officers in Dallas July 7; some of the officers were killed. Photo: AP/Wide World photos

“He loved his country,” his mother said. “He wanted to protect his country.”

“The military was not what Micah thought it would be,” Ms. Johnson said during an excerpt of the interview that was available online. The full interview was scheduled to air at a later date. “He was very disappointed, very disappointed. But it may be that the ideal that he thought of our government, what he thought the military represented, it just didn’t live up to his expectations.”

Alleged Dallas Police shooting suspect, Micah Xavier Johnson
According to the former soldier’s father, his son began to study Black history and learn more about his history. “The family members said Johnson never showed any outward signs of hatred for White people or any other racial groups. Johnson’s stepmother, Donna, is White. What he did hate was ‘injustice,’ Delphine Johnson said,” according to The Blaze.

Police said the former U.S. serviceman wanted to kill White people, especially White police officers, and did. The fatal shootings followed the videotaped deaths of Alton Sterling, shot to death by an officer in Baton Rouge, La., while selling CDs and Philando Castile, shot in the chest during a traffic stop with his girlfriend Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds telling the story of what happened outside Minneapolis, Minn., over Facebook Live. As blood seeped from her boyfriend’s chest, her little girl tried to comfort the distraught mother from the backseat of the car.

It appears that Micah Xavier Johnson’s mind could no longer process the thought of more of his people dying, adding to an already long list of those who have lost their lives at the hands of police officers.

With this in mind authorities believe Micah Johnson targeted White officers from a downtown Dallas parking garage, killing five officers and injuring seven people the evening of July 7. According to the Dallas Police Department, Mr. Johnson was killed by a robot bomb as negotiations with him became unproductive.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown (L) and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings (R).
“The suspect said he was upset about Black Lives Matter, he said he was upset about the recent police shootings, the suspect said he was upset at White people, the suspect said he wanted to kill White people, especially White officers,” Dallas Police Chief David Brown said of Micah Johnson, as he read slowly and somberly from his prepared statement to the media assembled at Dallas City Hall on the morning of July 8. Chief Brown added that Mr. Johnson said he was not affiliated with any groups and that he acted alone.

One of the persons named early on as a suspect was Niecee Cornute. She was presumed to have been the female suspect that Mayor Mike Rawlings declined to describe to media outlets. She said she was detained and questioned for close to five hours without being allowed to have outside contact. She spoke exclusively to The Final Call.                     
Moments before the gunman (L) guns down a Dallas Police Officer (R).

“I and my comrades went to rally for the brothers who had been killed by the police on Thursday, July 7.  I heard the shooting start and began to take my phone out and record it. At that time police saw me and told me put my hands up and get on the ground, saying I fit a description of a suspect who was a light-skinned Black female with camouflage pants on, and they took me down to headquarters as what they called a witness, illegally detaining me there,” said Ms. Cornute. 

As a community organizer and revolutionary Cornute said while the shootings had nothing to do with her, Black people have a right to exist. It is crazy to think people would not be angry with 260 killings of Black people by the police this year with little to no punishment or indictments, she said.

The supposed last words of Mr. Johnson caused others to try to look deeper into the mind of a man that America’s savage racism and murder of Black people seemingly affected and enraged.
The militarily-trained Johnson was a former U.S. Army reservist honorably discharged in 2015. High school classmates remembered him as a “fun-loving, goofy guy,” according to the Wall St. Journal.
A few people who knew Mr. Johnson and who shared similar views about the need for Black liberation told The Final Call, “he was a regular dude, a good dude, a real dude who would joke with you but was serious about the rise of his people.” They spoke with the newspaper on condition of anonymity. They gave interviews around the same time as public statements were made by the Johnson family.

They attended community events together, discussed the plight of Black people and were concerned about the deaths of Blacks at the hands of police officers—with virtually no one held accountable.
“I think that he believed that this was his Nat Turner moment and that he saw no other way,” concluded one of the men in the interview with The Final Call. Nat Turner was a slave who led a bloody revolt in Southampton, Va., in 1831. It struck terror in the hearts of Whites across the South and a brutal, bloody backlash against slaves.

The man said he never had any discussion with Mr. Johnson about armed struggle or racial retaliation. But the actions attributed to Mr. Johnson by the authorities led the man to believe that Mr. Johnson might have acted against police.

Though they knew nothing prior to the attacks, they were not surprised the Dallas shootings happened. With the number of Black people killed by White officers and the continued deaths of Blacks without any charges, convictions or punishment of officers, it should not be surprising that an armed response came from a Black man, they said.

While Chief Brown touted what he called policing reforms, others said Dallas still has its own problems with policing and racism. “The same city (Dallas) didn’t let Martin Luther King in in ’66; the same city that murdered Tobias Mackey and Xavier Collins in 2010 and had to pay $900,000, these are the conditions that created Micah, we cannot forget such conditions that created him,” said grassroots organizer Yafeuh Balogun of the Huey P. Newton Gun Club.

Dallas remained tense after the shootings, with a lockdown of police headquarters and President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush scheduled to speak in Texas as The Final Call went to press. The president roundly and loudly condemned the killings of the police officers. He also expressed concern about police shootings.

Across the country demonstrators took to streets after the Dallas shootings and just before it: In Minneapolis, St. Paul and Atlanta, hundreds of protesters shut down highways. In London, a large group of protesters brought the streets of the city to a standstill, forcing traffic to other routes for hours. Demonstrators gathered in Los Angeles some 2,000 strong and Chicago protestors July 11 took to downtown streets to disrupt traffic and trade. Days earlier they protested at the popular Taste of Chicago downtown tourist event.

Fruit of Islam Jaami Muhammad with rapper The Game and his call for a unity rally in front of LAPD headquarters July 8. Photo: Charlene Muhammad
In Los Angeles, rappers The Game and Snoop Dogg rallied July 8 with more than 100 men, primarily Black and Latino, including street organization members, outside LAPD headquarters, before meeting with Chief Charlie Beck. Hip hop guru Russell Simmons said in a Facebook video that he wanted to work with Snoop, The Game, Kam and the Nation of Islam to develop the 10,000 Fearless that the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan called for to end violence and make Black communities decent places to live.

The Nation of Islam and Fruit of Islam Capt. Dennis Muhammad in Columbus, Ohio and founder of The Peacekeepers can help with this effort, he said. They can help protect the community from crime and from bad cops, Mr. Simmons added July 9. Mr. Simmons also plans to speak to Black law enforcement executives in working to get police sensitized and under control.

“I think we are going to get between the guns and the gangs, and the guns between the police and the people and we are going to need strong Black men to do that,” said Mr. Simmons.

“I want to thank Minister Louis Farrakhan, for putting the spirit in me to do what I am supposed to be doing,” added Snoop Dogg.

Meanwhile in Dallas, those once called suspects have been let go but found it hard to return to a normal life. Some early media coverage blasted their names and pictures to the general public—with little explanation and no exoneration.

Ms. Cornute said despite her and others being wrongly identified, her work must continue. “I heard one of the other so-called suspects was recently ambushed by a group of White supremacists because, like me, his face has been blasted all over the internet and the media,” she said.

“It has been very reckless the way White America has handled this news story this is why I am talking to The Final Call,” said Ms. Cornute. “I will defend myself as a member of the Black Women’s Defense League.”

It may be popular to distance between activists and “revolutionary violence,” she continued. Yet everything else has been tried and “they continue to perpetrate evil and murder on our community. We will stay on the path of African liberation working against White Supremacy economically, physically, mentally, politically, and spiritually, I believe they are all imperative to gain our liberation,” said Ms. Cornute.

“Are we processing that none of the people were really engaged in an activity that even justified having a police encounter of the type that would lead to your death?” asked Dr. Ava Muhammad, an attorney and student national spokesperson for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.

Change will come when people follow the divine guidance and instructions of Minister Farrakhan.
“The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan warned Black people during the Justice or Else! tour that we are under chastisement as a people … because as a people we have rejected God’s plan for our salvation,” she stated. That plan, according to the teachings of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad is divinely-ordered separation, in fulfillment of biblical and Quranic scripture.

“That plan is a complete separation. That plan is for us to go for self, and he did not leave us without very precise, very specific, very clear guidance as to how to execute that plan,” said Atty. Muhammad.

She recalled Min. Farrakhan’s call for 10,000 fearless Black men and women to go to work to make their neighborhoods decent, safe places to live. “That is the beginning of the separation process, of going for self. It begins with coming together in small clusters and enclaves as every other group of people on earth does in what we call neighborhoods,” Dr. Muhammad told The Final Call. Those actions naturally produce stores, schools, places of worship, businesses, she said.
(Charlene Muhammad contributed to this report.)