Tuesday, October 17, 2017

False flags and Black America's salvation

BY ASKIA MUHAMMAD AND RICHARD B. MUHAMMAD, FINAL CALL STAFFERS | LAST UPDATED: OCT 17, 2017 - 2:14:05 PM

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NEWARK—Some scholars and scientists demonstrate their intellectual prowess by observing simple phenomena, natural phenomena, and explaining their observations to other scholars in fancy polysyllabic terms.

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Veterans hold American flag during playing of the National Anthem before the Milwaukee Bucks face the Denver Nuggets in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Nov. 11, 2015, in Denver. Photo: AP/Wide World photos
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan however, takes the complex and sometimes confusing concepts of nature and society, explaining them so that both the unlettered and the learned understand clearly.

And as part of a near three hour lecture, the Minister spoke to the issue of justice, judgment and the controversy regarding respect for the American flag roiling the country.

He spoke Oct. 15 to a controversy that exploded nationwide following professional football player Colin Kaepernick’s decision last year to protest to racial injustices and the unjust police killings of Blacks by not standing for the national anthem.

Instead of dealing with the young star’s appeal for justice by taking a knee, President Donald J. Trump switched the narrative to talk of disrespecting the American flag, Min. Farrakhan.


Nuri Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No. 74 in Indianapolis describes the audience as a "bouquet of human beings," attending the 22nd Anniversary of the Million Man March. Photo: Courtney X


It was another ploy to mute Black cries for justice, freedom and equality and whitewash the history of a flag drenched with the blood of Black people.

“Black people don’t hate the flag as such. Black people don’t hate America as such,” said the Minister. “But they just wanted to draw attention to what we have been suffering under the flag. And the police that shoot us down, they have a flag somewhere on their uniform. When we go to court, the flag is there and we can’t get justice.”

Men like his son’s father-in-law, who fought and lost comrades in World War II, stand for the flag with their hands over their hearts in remembrance of honorable men who lost their lives, said the Minister from the stage at Newark Symphony Hall as part of a weekend commemoration of the 22nd anniversary of the Million Man March.

His subject was “Separation Or Death.” Blacks have fought and died in every war under the flag, with Crispus Attucks, a Black man, the first to die in the Revolutionary war, but have not received the freedoms the flag represents, said Min. Farrakhan.

The federal code for proper treatment of the flag says one should not be punished for not standing for the flag. It prohibits the horizontal display of the flag—which is the standard for National Football League games.




(L-R) Nuri Muhammad, Abdul Haqq Muhammad, Abdul Hafeez Muhammad





(L-R) Louis Scott Roundtree, Imam Aquil Mateen, David Muhammad, Ishmael Muhammad

The use of the flag is tied to millions paid to the NFL from the Defense Dept. to “display flag in a disrespectful manner,” the Minister observed. It’s not about patriotism, but about money, recruitment and manipulating love of country to fight America’s wars, said Min. Farrakhan.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, patriarch of the Nation of Islam and the Minister’s teacher, taught Muslims to respect the American flag as a sign of a sovereign nation and reminder that Black people desire to be a sovereign nation with their own flag, Min. Farrakhan said.

But, he continued, we do not pledge allegiance to the flag, we pledge allegiance to God and bow to God alone.

The Muslim oath is to God: My Prayer, my sacrifice, my life and my death are all for Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. In Islamic tradition the flag is respected but allegiance is not given to a temporal flag.

Min. Farrakhan said he would not kneel outside the White House with his fist up. Black salvation is not in the White House but in building your own house as God has decreed, he said.

The same day as the Minister’s message, Mr. Kaepernick announced a grievance charging NFL owners colluded to deny him employment during this year’s football season.

Mr. Geragos said in a Twitter statement: “If the NFL (as well as all professional sports leagues) is to remain a meritocracy, then principled and peaceful political protest—which the owners themselves made great theater imitating weeks ago—should not be punished.” And “athletes should not be denied employment based on partisan political provocation by the executive branch of our government. Such a precedent threatens all patriotic Americans and harkens back to our darkest days as a nation,” the high profile attorney warned.


San Francisco 49ers Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick take a knee during the National Anthem prior to their game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte North Carolina.


“This lawsuit could literally be a game-changer, not just for Kaepernick, but for the labor rights of all NFL players. He is hoping to trigger termination of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), which was signed on 2011 and is set to expire in 2021, by proving that the NFL-at-large conspired to keep him out of the league,” said

ThinkProgress.org.
ThinkProgress.org also noted, “Kaepernick parted ways with the 49ers in March, but despite the fact that the 6’4 29 year old has started 58 games in his six-year NFL career and led the 49ers to a Super Bowl in 2013 as a rookie, he remains unemployed six weeks into the season, while dozens of untested and unproven quarterbacks have signed contracts and injuries to elite quarterbacks have left playoff-contending teams hungry for a capable veteran to lead the way.

“It doesn’t take a ‘football expert’ to know that something fishy is going on—Kaepernick is objectively more talented and experienced than a swath of starters in the NFL, nevermind the backups.”


Thousands turned out for message at Newark Symphony Hall. Photo: Andrea Muhammad



Powerful history, message in Newark
Min. Farrakhan spoke of the significance of celebrating the march anniversary where the teaching of Islam among Black former slaves began in North America 95 years ago under Noble Drew Ali.

When Minister Farrakhan stood at the podium wearing a muted marine-green suit, white shirt and gold-colored bow tie and pocket scarf, he looked out on thousands in the orchestra seats; and in the balcony there were thousands more in an adjoining overflow room.

He looked out on an assembly that Nuri Muhammad, student minister of Muhammad Mosque No. 74 in Indianapolis, described as a “bouquet” of human beings.

“You’ve got the Moorish Science Temple in the house,” said Nuri Muhammad. “You’ve got the Baptists in the house. Pentecostals are present. The Sunnis, the Sufis, the Shiites, the Hebrew Israelites, the Jehovah Witnesses are here. The Omegas are here. The Kappas are here. We’ve got the Crips and the Bloods in the building today. We’ve got the Vice Lords. This is how it’s supposed to be, brothers and sisters.”

Min. Farrakhan led the audience on a historical and geographical tour of the origins of the Islamic movement and the movement to acquire a separate Black state or territory.

The gathering was held at what’s now known as Newark’s Symphony Hall, he explained. The theater was built in 1925 by Shriners, and it was first known as “Salaam Temple,” and it later took on the colloquial name the “Mosque Theater.”



The hall is also the location where Mr. Ali—whose movement was headquartered in Newark—held his community meetings. In 1913 in Newark, he established the Canaanite Temple. Coincidentally, the Moorish Science Temple held its first national convention October 15-20, 1928 in Chicago. Brother Noble Drew Ali was “the prime predecessor” of Master Fard Muhammad—the Saviour, the Founder—of the Nation of Islam in North America, who taught the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and gave Mr. Muhammad his mission, uniting and resurrecting the descendants of slaves.

In fact, Minister Farrakhan pointed out, after Noble Drew Ali returned to the ancestors, many of his followers joined the early Nation of Islam, but Mr. Muhammad “never, ever touched the names that Noble Drew Ali gave to his followers. They already had a righteous name.”

This point was emphasized at one of the first meetings Minister Farrakhan attended after he accepted Islam. It was in New York City, in 1959, and the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad spoke at the Rico Ray Theater, the location where the Right Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey once held his meetings of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League. “That day he ordered us to always show honor and respect to Noble Drew Ali and Marcus Mosiah Garvey. And that stands to this very hour.”

Mr. Garvey, however, never taught Islam, though he was influenced strongly by Duse Mohamed Ali, an Egyptian Muslim, scholar, playwright and journalist, who eventually served as foreign secretary and director of UNIA-ACL African Affairs.

Religion and faith are indispensible to the liberation of Blacks and others in this country, said Minister Farrakhan.

“And the aim of God is to take humanity, with all its diversity to another level. That we outgrow our race, our ethnicity,” he said. False religious teachings, however, and the false image of a White Jesus must be discarded.

Black people can only achieve those higher levels of development after separation from White Americans.

“We suffered every kind of indignity to get just a little freedom,” said Min. Farrakhan.

If Black people choose to remain with and under the authority of the White Americans, whom God has condemned because of their cruelty and injustices heaped upon them, then, the Minister warned: “You will die with your lover.”

Thomas Jefferson, one of the Founding Fathers of this country, its third president and author of the Declaration of Independence, was emphatic in saying Whites and Blacks would not find peace together in a single nation, said the Minister.

Mr. Jefferson urged settling Blacks in a separate place with arms, tools for farming and survival and protection as they grew into political maturity.

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president, met with a delegation of Negro pastors who were former slaves. “Look at what Abraham Lincoln was saying to our Black pastors. ‘You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Your race suffers very greatly, many of them by living among us,’ ” said Min. Farrakhan.

Minister Farrakhan cleared up some confusion about his “conversion” to Christianity. After a recent lecture at Union Temple Baptist Church in Washington, White Christian media purposely misused his words to suggest he had “just found Jesus.”

“At the end of my talk I said: ‘I know that my redeemer liveth. And I said, because he lives, I too shall live, and will stand with him at the latter day,” said Min. Farrakhan.

Since 1981 the core of the teaching of Minister Farrakhan has been his and our “Jesus—the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad” is alive and is in control of the forces of nature, and that Mr. Muhammad, and Master Fard Muhammad—Allah in Person—are both backing and protecting the Minister’s every step.

While the Muslim leader recognizes that many find his message of separation “unbelievable”—such as Black intellectual Dr. Cornel West, who told the Minister separation is “a pipe dream”—he remains steadfast to separation as God’s solution to America’s race problem.

The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad is the “real Jesus,” Minister Farrakhan declared, and an ovation erupted in the auditorium, when Mr. Muhammad’s picture was then displayed on a screen for the audience to see. “Before too long, you too will bear witness,” the Minister said.

“America cannot defend herself against what my God has stored up against her. This country however has chosen to wage war against Black people,” said Min. Farrakhan.

The Minister promised that he would come back in a few weeks to speak in Washington, directly to President Donald and the federal government, to deliver his message from Elijah Muhammad.

“When I deliver my message to Mr. Trump, watch what happens. I’ll get through and so will you if you choose God over Satan, and correct your behavior,” he said.

Min. Farrakhan praised the courage and sincerity of those still working to try to change the wicked American system for the better. “Stevie Wonder, Dick Gregory, the Civil Rights Movement, you have beautiful hearts, trying to clean up the system. This is not a system you can reform. It must be destroyed,” he said.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

From The Final Call Newspaper

What will end Black suffering?

By Charlene Muhammad -National Correspondent- | Last updated: Oct 10, 2017 - 1:06:44 PM

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In this Oct. 19, 2016, file photo, Kanockwa Horton, left, from Stone Mountain, and Jacqueline Merritt, from Atlanta, stand first in line at the Airport Community Job Fair, in Atlanta, joined by hundreds of other applicants in line. Photo: AP/Wide World photos
Black people face harsh realities in all areas, including but not limited to economics, education, health and mass incarceration.

As Blacks continue the fight for political and social justice in the wake of America’s so-called post-racial progress under its first Black president, how can they continue to survive a Donald Trump administration when in better times, solution after solution has failed or netted limited progress?

A snapshot of solutions implemented to curb Black suffering shows former president Barack Obama’s administration ushered in 11 million new jobs and reduced racial disparities in health care coverage by passing the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), now under constant threat of repeal by Pres. Trump and the Republican Party.
                    
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Protests erupt after deadly police shooting in Charlotte, Sept. 2016.

Pres. Obama passed the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the draconian mandatory minimum drug sentencing ratio for powder and crack cocaine from 100 to 1 to 18 to 1.  He released a National HIV/AIDS Strategy Federal Implementation Plan to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care, and reduce HIV-related health disparities.

He also created the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative to create more pathways to success for young men of color. Prior to that, there was a long history of fights for equality during the Civil Rights Movement which netted passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Civil Rights Act of 1964 and some progress.
                    
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As part of a series of activities, community advocates in Baton Rouge protest outside of City Hall June 28 in Baton Rouge, La. against the de-funding of two local community HIV clinics. The clinics provide care to 30 percent of the HIV population in the area. Photo: AP/Wide World photos

But today, Blacks earn less hourly wages (men 22 percent and women 34 percent) than White men with the same education, experience, marital status, and region of residence, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

One-in-five incarcerated Blacks are serving life or virtual life sentences in America’s prisons, according to the Sentencing Project.
And although the Centers for Disease Control indicates national HIV infection rates have declined, Black women are still disproportionately affected by the disease compared to their female counterparts (4,524 Black women diagnosed with HIV in 2015, compared to 1,131 Hispanic/Latino women and 1,431 White women).

Unsecured gains
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam has warned that any gains in Blacks’ desire for equity, greater freedom and greater equality of opportunity made during Pres. Obama’s eight-year tenure were not secure.

Rather, after eight years in office, the lullaby of what Mr. Obama represented is now leading to a rude awakening and White people are now lashing out because making “America Great Again” to many means Make America White Again,” said Min. Farrakhan.

“ ‘Bring back White Power, bring back this idea that no one is better than we and we are better than all.’  So this wind will blow on Black people from every direction to force us to come to the realization that we cannot get along in peace with this people after giving them 400 years of our sweat and blood and receiving in return some of the worst treatment ever accorded to a human being.  This is going to pick up with greater force, these winds, and so the bones will ultimately be forced to come together,” the Nation of Islam minister explained during a previous Final Call interview.
Pres. Trump’s Department of Justice under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has rolled back the use of federal consent decrees to check law enforcement misconduct in rogue police departments.  And his 2017-18 budget slashed funding for Medicaid and social service programs, including food stamps and low-income housing.

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Black suffering in America has been non-stop. Photo: istockphoto

Black beatings and deaths

During Pres. Obama’s tenure and even as Mr. Trump was campaigning for office, there was an uptick in beatings and justifiable homicides of Blacks by White vigilantes and police officers across the country, or as several activists pointed out, there was an increase in revelations about such incidents.
“I believe that their intention was to push us until we went over the edge, to start what they wanted, which was called a race war,” said Harry “Spike” Moss, a long-time activist in Minnesota.

Essentially, White men, women and children began preparing themselves for a race war, which they knew they were going to create and wage through various assaults by right-wing organizations and from within police and sheriff’s departments, but they didn’t get that,” Mr. Moss told The Final Call. 
Blacks in America have been oppressed for 460 years and the negative impact of these experiences generation after generation runs deep in their spirit, soul, and intelligence, explained Mr. Moss.  But, the Black community has run from good information and good leaders, and run to weak leaders, who weren’t saying strong things, he continued.

The solution remains, Blacks need good teaching, need to respect the leadership willing to tell them the truth and, need to learn how to follow, Mr. Moss urged.

“Most of what the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan told us, he told us years ago!  We are still not listening.  He was clear years ago! … When we stopped listening to truth and moving on truth, then we would be right where we are,” the activist said.

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Dr. Melina Abdullah, chair of the Pan African Studies Department at California State University Los Angeles
The reality is Blacks live under a predatory system, said activists and educators like Dr. Melina Abdullah, chair of the Pan African Studies Department at California State University Los Angeles, and an organizer with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles.


“Living under the system of criminal justice that we do, living under the system of miseducation that we do, the existing capitalist structure, the economic system, all of it is meant to exploit and abuse us so with that comes Black suffering,” said Dr. Abdullah.

Her solution-oriented approach means finding beauty in the midst of the struggle, and peace amid Black suffering.  

“As we’re working to dismantle a system that abuses, exploits, and harms us, we can find beauty in each other, beauty in the work, beauty in knowing that we are fulfilling our sacred duty to our ancestors and to our creator,” Dr. Abdullah stated.

There is also fulfillment in Blacks going a step beyond trying to simply dismantle what is currently in place.  It’s about envisioning and building the kind of world they want to live in, said Dr. Abdullah.

A Black political agenda
Civil rights attorney Barbara Arnwine of the Transformative Justice Coalition said the current, biggest threat to Blacks is the erosion of their political power, caused by purposeful and deliberate acts by state governments and the Trump administration, especially through its Department of Justice and new Election Integrity Commission.

Attorney Arnwine recommends developing a serious political agenda to fight state laws that make it harder for Blacks to vote and to fight against false allegations of voter fraud, she recommended.
“We don’t have reparations in this country.  Why?  Because African American political power isn’t organized to demand it.  We have a tax on affirmative action. Why? Because we don’t have the political power in education and collectivism to protect it,” Atty. Arnwine said.

 “It’s all about the policies that are undergirding everything in this country, from the food you eat, to the schools you go to, to whether or not somebody gets a loan or not to buy a home or a car, the regulations that determine what is safe on the road for a car or safe to be ingested as food … dirty streets, that is a reflection of the lack of skillful use of political power,” she added.
                    
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Years ago, Min. Farrakhan introduced the Million Family March National Agenda, a plan of action which called in part for redistribution of tax dollars to better educate the American people, teach proper nutrition for better health, and to protect its citizenry through an enlightened, strong military force.

Best and only solution
Black people around the U.S. and abroad are greatly anticipating Min. Farrakhan’s October 15 message, entitled, “Separation or Death,” in commemoration of the 22nd Anniversary of the Million Man March and Holy Day of Atonement. The Minister’s subject matter is taken right from what his teacher, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught. The message will be delivered in Newark, NJ. 

“We cannot be successful in the house of our enemies; we should be in our own house. That which is other than our own is for those who are other than our own. ‘Our Own’ is unlimited physically and spiritually,” wrote the Most Hon. Elijah Muhammad in his book, “Message to the Blackman.”
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Shortly before Min. Farrakhan’s address, self-rule and self-governance demands in Spain once again made news. Catalonia, located in northeastern Spain, is still fighting for separation from that nation in order to form its own country.  Reports indicated that 90 percent of the 2.26 million who voted in a recent referendum chose to separate from Spain.


Separation would cause a problem for the European Union as other enclaves begin similar pushes, said Akbar Muhammad, International Representative of Min. Farrakhan. Min. Akbar Muhammad also noted the movement for independence for Puerto Rico.  The island nation was granted U.S. citizenship in 1917 as a commonwealth or territory. Residents are American citizens and can elect their own governor, but are not permitted to vote in U.S. elections or independently engage in trade or international commerce with other nations.

The latest in the debate over whether Puerto Rico should remain a U.S. territory, be granted statehood or be an independent nation came November 2012, when 65 percent of the U.S. island territory’s four million citizens voted in favor of becoming the 51st U.S. state.

In the 1950s, despite lobbying, rebelling, and other tactics, the movement to become an independent country was crushed in that vote, Min. Akbar Muhammad said.

“Now, they’ve got a clear signal that there are nearly 3.5 million on the island, but in the Diaspora, there’s another three million Puerto Ricans, and they have enough to form their own country, when you look at countries in the Caribbean who are independent,” he stated.

“To be in America, and abused by America, and to have a president that doesn’t really look at them as though they’re Americans is a prime example of why they should go on their own … This kind of movement will catch on,” Min. Akbar Muhammad added.

When you come to the table unified, Min. Farrakhan recently stated, that is the power behind demand—unity.

Additional activities during the weekend of Holy Day of Atonement include: The Newark Youth Ambassadors hosting their second annual youth forum titled, “Are You Ready?” on Saturday, Oct. 14 from noon to 4 p.m. and Family Fun Day with activities, fun, food and entertainment at from noon to 5 p.m. at Newark Central High School. For more information call Muhammad Mosque No. 25 in Newark, (973) 624-5532.

Min. Farrakhan’s timely message, “Separation or Death” on Oct. 15 will be broadcast live from Symphony Hall at 1020 Broad St.  in Newark, New Jersey. Doors open at noon and the program begins at 2 p.m. The message will be also broadcast live via webcast at NOI.org/webcast.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

From The Final Call Newspaper

Las Vegas shooting—the latest in deadly, unstoppable violence in U.S.

By Charlene Muhammad -National Correspondent- | Last updated: Oct 3, 2017 - 12:33:49 PM

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Debris is strewn through the scene of a mass shooting at a music festival near the Mandalay Bay resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip, Oct. 2, in Las Vegas. Photo: AP/Wide World Photo

Terror has struck again on American soil in the form of a White, male shooter identified by law enforcement as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, who allegedly opened fire and killed 58 and injured 515 at a country music concert in Nevada at press time.
                    
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Multiple victims were transported to hospitals after a shooting late Oct. 1 at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip. At about 11 p.m., dozens of patrol vehicles descended on the Strip after authorities received reports of an active shooter near the Route 91 Harvest Festival.

Some officers took cover behind their vehicles while others carrying assault rifles ran into the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.

Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo reported Mr. Paddock, an accountant from Nevada, killed himself. Police recovered at least 17 guns and explosives from his room.

Witnesses say country singer Jason Aldean was performing near the end of the concert when gunfire rang out. Concert-goers reported seeing muzzle flashes from the upper floors of the Mandalay Bay Hotel-Casino across Las Vegas Boulevard and the sound of what they described as automatic gun fire.

Thirty-six-year-old Kodiak Yazzie said the music stopped temporarily and started up again before another round of pops sent the performers ducking for cover and fleeing the stage.
As the tens of thousands of fans in the crowd began to flee, he took cover and said he saw flashes of light coming from the Mandalay Bay hotel tower high above.

The bursts of pops would start and stop for more than five minutes. He says he saw dozens of ambulances as he ran for safety.

Continued violence in America
Mr. Paddock’s Oct. 1 assault stunned a nation unable to stop deadly violence, begging the question, what is happening inside the United States? The Las Vegas tragedy is now considered the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history eclipsing the Orlando night club massacre last year.

“What’s striking about the United States is that this week, the move towards having some sort of gun control has already been swift,” said Dr. Gerald Horne, Moore’s Professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston.

At least that’s the way it appears, which is extraordinary given the fact that the now-deceased suspect apparently had several automatic weapons that he was able to bring into a hotel room in a major urban center, Dr. Horne said.

“This attempt to squash any conversation about gun control stands oddly in juxtaposition with what happened in 1967, when the Black Panther Party walked into the California State Assembly in Sacramento, with weapons, which led even the National Rifle Association, the gun lobby, to call for gun control,” Dr. Horne told The Final Call.

He continued, it’s apparent that gun control has a particular purpose: “The White Right, the Alt Right as it now terms itself, has made it clear that it doesn’t believe in gun control, because it wants to execute an armed uprising in case there is a government not to its liking.”
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People are searched by Las Vegas police at the Tropicana Las Vegas during an active shooter situation on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday, Oct. 1. Photo: AP/Wide World Photo

For many, the Vegas massacre like others creates an initial shock, said Los Angeles-based social justice and political activist Greg Akili. Then reality sets in that they live in a violent culture focused on protecting and promoting guns, which produces mass shootings as a consequence, he said.

“We’ve seen it over, and over, and over again. The gun culture is popular. It’s protected. And it’s prevalent in America,” Mr. Akili told The Final Call.

As usual, he continued, people will grieve for the families of those killed, but as long as the culture promoting and accepting of gun violence remains, another shooting and killing more people is inevitable. Still, people seem unwilling to come to grips with that and do something about it, he stated.

“Look here! Twenty children were killed (in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre) and we still supported and were unwilling to do anything about gun culture in America, so we are just willing to accept the level of violence and death that gun violence brings. That’s America!”

A nation in mourning
“I’m quite saddened by the tragic killing in Las Vegas and every time a person’s life is lost. What we need to look into is the regulations in Las Vegas, Nevada. The laws that will allow a person to have ten guns on their person and don’t have to have a permit. And no mental health background check. Something is wrong with that,” said Missouri State Senator Maria Chappelle- Nadal.

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Police officers and first responders at the scene of the mass shooting in Las Vegas.
“I feel that instead of concentrating on external terrorists and building a wall to keep people out, we have home grown terrorists that we need to pay attention to,” she said. “It hurts when a life is taken because every single life is important,” Sen. Chappelle- Nadal continued.


President Donald Trump offered words of comfort to the families of the victims. He called the shooting an act of pure evil. “We are joined together today in sadness, shock and grief,” Pres. Trump said.

“Hundreds of our fellow citizens are now mourning the sudden loss of a loved one, a parent, a child, a brother or sister,” he said. “We cannot fathom their pain; we cannot imagine their loss. To the families of the victims, we are praying for you, and we are here for you and we ask God to help see you through this very dark period,” he added.

“Our unity cannot be shattered by evil. Our bonds cannot be broken by violence. And though we feel such great anger at the senseless murder of our fellow citizens it is our love that defines us today and always will, forever.”

‘White male lone wolf’ syndrome
With the death toll and injury count still climbing, authorities announced beliefs that Mr. Paddock acted alone.

Police questioned 62-year-old Marilou Danley, a female companion, initially considered a person of interest.

Police have not yet determined a motive in the shootings, but have ruled out connections with any terrorist group. This after reports indicated ISIS claimed responsibility.

“We have seen all those so-called lone wolves before. We saw ’em at Columbine, at Sandy Hook and they are considered lone wolves and in fact they are not lone wolves,” argued Mr. Akili.

Some of the other more deadliest mass shootings in the U.S. where suspects were lone, White males include: July 20, 2012 inside a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado resulting in 12 fatalities and January 8, 2011 in Tucson, Ariz. that resulted in six fatalities and the severe wounding of former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords.

“I know this feeling of heartbreak and horror too well,” Ms. Giffords stated in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting. “The massacre in Las Vegas is a grave tragedy for our nation. This must stop—we must stop this,” she added. Ms. Giffords and others have been pushing for stricter gun laws.

“I am praying for the victims of this shooting, their families and friends. But I am praying for my former colleagues, too. I am praying they find the courage it will take to make progress on the challenging issue of gun violence,” she said at a press conference.
                    
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Reed Broschart, center, hugs his girlfriend Aria James on the Las Vegas Strip in the aftermath of a mass shooting at a concert, Oct. 2, in Las Vegas. The couple, both of Ventura, Calif., attended the concert.

But what if anything will change remains to be seen and many are not optimistic anything substantive will change at all when it comes to America’s obsessive gun culture.
“They live in a society that supports what they’re thinking, and it’s certainly been supported in these last few months with this current president, so we live in a society where their thinking is promoted. Their ideas are accepted, and their actions are tolerable,” Mr. Akili added.

Dr. Horne found it very curious that some commentators suggested the incident was not “an act of terrorism.

“I’m not sure how they’re arriving at that conclusion. I’m not sure how they’re defining ‘terrorism.’ It’s a very curious circumstance, and in any case, it also all comes back to gun control, the fact that weapons of this sort are all too easy to obtain by people who obviously do not need to have weapons,” he stated.

A way forward?
Moving forward means understanding that massacres keep happening in the first place, because America is dealing with symptoms and not root causes, said Aquil Basheer, author, a top specialist in street violence intervention and hostility based-gang aggression, and founder of the Professional Community Intervention Institute.

“The biggest problem in America has never been external or international terrorism. It’s always been domestic terrorism, and they’ve never admitted to that fact. … Why are we not calling this a blatant act of domestic terrorism?” Mr. Basheer told The Final Call.

“Why are we not putting a direct profile of the domestic terrorist, in this case which was a White male,” which has been the most instrumental in using domestic terrorism, he argued.
When that’s ignored, profile developments are missed, which leaves people unprepared to deal with pending threats.

“We’re ignoring the fact of who the actual aggressor is. We don’t want to admit to that in this country, so therefore, people are not able to create in their mindset a vision of what I must prepare for. … Violence leaves a road map. Violence leaves a trail. Violence always lets you know it’s getting ready to happen,” said Mr. Basheer.

(The Associated Press and J.A. Salaam contributed to this report.)

Saturday, September 30, 2017

From The Final Call Newspaper

Boycotts, Black Athletes And Activism

By Bryan Crawford -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Sep 26, 2017 - 12:44:27 PM

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Philadelphia Eagles players, owner Jeffrey Lurie, center right, Eagles' President Don Smolenski, second from left, and a Philadelphia police officer, third from left, stand for the national anthem before an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sept. 24, in Philadelphia. Eagles' Malcolm Jenkins raises his fist next to Lurie. Photos: AP/Wide World photos

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(L) New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandon Coleman kneels in protest during the National Anthem. (R) Buffalo Bills players take a knee during the National Anthem in protest.

Protecting rights or profits? NFL owners on bended knee

Generally speaking, sports are seen as apolitical. Certainly, professional athletes and team owners have their own individual views and embrace political ideologies that don’t always align, but both parties can usually find a common goal in their desire to compete and win for their organizations, cities and fans.

Since being elected president, it’s become almost a weekly occurrence that Donald Trump says something that is attention grabbing that gets people talking. Mr. Trump has a knack—and a penchant—for getting under people’s skin with his abrasive rhetoric that has driven the wedge in the relationship between Black and White people in America, even deeper.
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Since taking a knee during the National Anthem more than a year ago, Colin Kaepernick has consistently been on the radar of Donald Trump, and even more so now that athletes in the NFL, and in other sports leagues, have begun taking a knee in support of the movement started by Mr. Kaepernick.
                    
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At a September reelection rally for Alabama Senator Luther Strange, Mr. Trump took another shot at Mr. Kaepernick, and others, in front of an all-White audience that seemed to hang on his every word.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son-of-a-bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired!’ ” Mr. Trump said to rousing applause. “You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s gonna say, ‘That guy disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it. They don’t know it. They’re friends of mine, many of them. They don’t know it. They’ll be the most popular person, for a week. They’ll be the most popular person in the country.”
                    
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Buffalo Bills fullback Mike Tolbert leaves the field after working out prior to an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sept. 24, in Orchard Park, N.Y.

The very next day, in a series of tweets, Mr. Trump attacked Stephen Curry, star of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors basketball team. It is customary, after a team wins a championship, to visit the White House and deliver a personalized jersey to the sitting president. However, Mr. Curry has publicly stated on several occasions that because he does not agree with the politics of Donald Trump, causing the president to rescind the invitation via Twitter—the very same day that as a team, the Warriors were planning to discuss whether or not they wanted to make the trip.
Both incidents created an uproar within the sports world—as well as the White House recently calling for the firing of Black female ESPN sports personality Jemele Hill for tweets calling Mr. Trump a White supremacist.

But the president’s Alabama tirade seemed to ignite special, widespread criticism, a call for solidarity with players under the hashtag #TakeTheKnee.

Despite outward shows of togetherness, the question must be asked: What are we showing solidarity for? NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, in a statement regarding Mr. Trump’s comments, called them “divisive.”
                     
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The Pittsburgh Steelers, coached by Mike Tomlin, a Black man, stayed in the locker room while the National Anthem was being sung prior to their game against the Chicago Bears. Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, locked arms with his players on the sidelines on Sunday as a show of support. The irony here was 28 of the NFL’s 32 owners, all donated money to the Trump campaign, including Mr. Snyder who gave $1 million initially, and another $100,000 after Mr. Trump won.


DeMaurice Smith, the Black executive director of the NFL Players Union, said, “This union will never back down when it comes to protecting the constitutional rights of our players as citizens, as well as their safety as men who compete in a game that exposes them to great risks.”
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Several New England Patriots players kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sept. 24, in Foxborough, Mass. Photos: AP/Wide World photos

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Seatlle Seahawks tweet statement from the team president.

Still, neither statement from Mr. Goodell, Mr. Smith, or the action by Mr. Snyder, even begins to address the “great risks” that Black men and women—who aren’t celebrities or famous athletes—face daily from the police, and the dog whistle political statements that served as inspiration for White groups to publicly assemble in Charlottesville, Va., not long ago. President Trump was very careful not to ostracize neo-Nazis and White rightest in Charlottesville by implying that not all of them were bad people, but he called athletes protesting Black oppression, SOBs.


“What a hypocrisy we live in,” said New York attorney and activist Kenneth Montgomery. “Black people being oppressed and shot at the hands of the state is just the tip of the iceberg concerning our continued social, political and economic alienation. It seems like the U-S-of-A has no place for us unless we are dead, incarcerated, cooning for acceptance or entertaining [White people].”
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Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi warms up in a #imwithkap shirt before an NFL football game against the New York Jets on Sept. 24, in East Rutherford, N.J. Photo: AP/ Wide World photos

Mr. Montgomery also told The Final Call, “This whole thing has become a spectacle. Colin Kaepernick kneeled to protest Black oppression. Now it’s being usurped by the very owners who blackballed him. Many of these athletes, and the owners, are actually protecting the NFL shield. They don’t give a damn about systemic oppression affecting Black people.”

Activist Tamika Mallory has one word to describe NFL owners taking a knee: “Disingenuous.”

“The reason why the protest started cannot be ignored,” she said. “It cannot be that you separate Colin Kaepernick taking a kneel during the National Anthem to protest police brutality and other injustices happening to Black and Brown people, if the owners weren’t willing to kneel with him … to stand up against Trump is disingenuous to me.”

The owners don’t want to upset 70 percent of their players who are Black men, she continued. The activist added, the NFL owners’ statements and others have nothing to do with the original reason for the protests.

What the president said was outrageous but it’s in line with who he is, and was unsurprising, Ms. Mallory observed. The issue isn’t Mr. Trump or the National Anthem but “the idea that Black lives don’t matter in America,” she said. And, Ms. Mallory continued, the point of the Kaepernick protests was not everyone was enjoying life in the land of the free and home of the brave as touted by the anthem—which has never represented freedom for Blacks and people of color.

“They want to shift the conversation,” she said.  

Ms. Mallory has also not heard from the NFL following a protest outside NFL headquarters in New York. The New York Justice League, which includes Ms. Mallory, led the successful “United We Stand: Rally for Kaepernick.”
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Reaction to the NFL player protests dominated social media.

During the rally, the activists called on the NFL to have a written policy that protects the right to player protests without retaliation, to have internal and external committees look at diversity, cultural sensitivity among a league with nearly all-White ownership and whether people of color were disinterested in ownership or locked out by a good ole boys network.


And while scholarships from the NFL are great, the league was called to join those addressing the school to prison pipeline, said Ms. Mallory.

And, she added, four years ago, she sat across the table from Mr. Goodell as Black women sought to have the league deal with the problem of domestic violence. There were also questions about where the NFL disperses $100 million to charity and whether some of the funding could go to addressing domestic violence and other violence in the Black community, Ms. Mallory said.

Perhaps, if the league had followed up and dealt with those issues as well as diversity and racial sensitivity, things would be at a different place, she added.

She also thanks an unlikely source for much of the renewed activism: Donald Trump.
“Trump is so unhinged that he basically is speaking to the private conversations that all these folks are having and their private thoughts,” Ms. Mallory explained.

Now people, including once-silent athletes, feel compelled to speak up or lose everything, she said. It’s uncomfortable, even scary, but it’s an opportunity, the activist noted.

Making public statements, not watching games, not purchasing paraphernalia or spending money with the NFL, using social media activism, and collectively keeping conversations alive have an impact, she said.

“It’s the beauty of Donald Trump being president,” she said. “We have been having these conversations.”
                    
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Rapper and activist David Banner has been very outspoken during the campaign and eventual election of Donald Trump. He argues Black folk should go even further. “The NFL has shown Black people that they don’t care about the death of our children. Why would we ever want to feed that machine our money and our support again?” Mr. Banner told The Final Call. “We need to leave people alone who don’t love us,” he said.
(Final Call staff contributed to this report.)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

From The Final Call Newspaper

A Proper Sendoff And Fitting Farewell To 'Baba' Dick Gregory

By Askia Muhammad -Senior Editor- | Last updated: Sep 19, 2017 - 6:27:00 PM

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LANDOVER, Md.—Dick Gregory was a comedian, but he was so much more. He was a civil rights leader, but he was so much more than that. He was a health advocate, and more.
                     
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The many facets of Dick Gregory’s amazing 84-year-life were celebrated and praised over three days Sept. 15-17, with a funeral and a New Orleans-style “Second Line” parade by his family and a long list of celebrities including Stevie Wonder, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, comedian Bill Cosby, singer India Arie, and actor Joe Morton in attendance, along with political leaders, clergy members, human rights activists, and broadcasting personalities.


“We thank him for a life of sacrifice,” Mr. Gregory’s son Christian told the funeral at the City of Praise Family Ministries in suburban Landover, Md. “While we celebrate his life, we also acknowledge all of the suffering, all of the pain, and all of the glory.

“Obviously, losing a loved one is never easy, especially when that loved one is an absolute warrior, father, friend and husband. Everyone kind of feels like they lost their ‘Baba.’” Mr. Gregory continued using the affectionate Swahili word “Baba,” a title meaning “brother,” or  “father” which has been attached as an honorific to Mr. Gregory’s name for several years.
                    
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Audience at homegoing services for Dick Gregory.
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“The amount of folks that have walked up to me, and without even saying anything, just crying and embracing me. And I just look at them and quickly realize that they realize, despite the fact  I have no earthly idea who they are, they know who I am. And I’m not conceited enough to think that that’s because they think I’m an amazing chiropractor, I’m crytstal clear, it’s because they realize who my father is … and who my mother is,” Christian Gregory said, predicting that the evening would amount to a proper send-off for “a legend.”


“Mr. Gregory had many titles: funny man, social activist, trail blazer, civil rights leader, health advocate, and author,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said at the funeral. “But it seemed that the title he relished the most was truth teller.”

“In the movement, we used to cry, and shout, and roar against racism,” D. C. Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said. “Dick did us one better. He made racism look absurd. With his brilliant, crossover talent, Dick even made White folks laugh at their own racism.” Mrs. Norton and Mr. Gregory were involved together in many civil rights and voting rights campaigns, up to and including the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s.

“He applied his direct, straight forward approach to life, to everything that he did,” said Mayor Bowser. “On the comedy circuit, he fused humor with plain talk. On the campaign trail, he spoke out against police brutality, and spoke up for criminal justice reform and for resources for substance abuse. And on marches for civil rights he gathered with countless others in defiance of segregation and in support of voting rights,” she said.

Like others, Mayor Bowser embraced Mr. Gregory in Washington, not his original hometown. “Here in D.C. we adopted Mr. Gregory as our very own. We loved him, and he loved us back.”
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Casket of Dick Gregory during services held Sept. 16 at City of Praise Ministries. Photos: Final X

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Choir sings a musical selection.

The three-day celebration of his life included a viewing at the Louis Stokes Medical Library on the campus of Howard University, the funeral, and a final parade from the historic Howard Theatre on U Street, where Mr. Gregory performed often as a stand-up comedian during his 55-year stage career, to the iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl several blocks away where a new mural on its wall, depicting legendary D.C. icons, including Mr. Gregory was unveiled last month.


The 6-hour-long funeral—was necessarily long according to the Rev. Willie Wilson of Union Temple Baptist Church, because, “you can’t have a short celebration for a tall man.”
                    
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Many were moved by the various tributes.
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Dr. Leonard Jeffries (right) attended services.

The service included remarks by the children of Brother Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers, and Richard Pryor; a musical tribute by Mr. Gregory’s daughter Ayanna; a musical tribute by India Arie; remarks by the Rev. William Barber; a performance by Joe Morton from the one-man stage play ‘Turn Me Loose’ which depicts Mr. Gregory’s life; powerful words from Mr. Gregory’s family members; and remarks by former Congressional Black Caucus Chair, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).

All were gathered “to hear about the funny man, the straight man, who impacted our minds and impacted our hearts,” Reena Evers-Everette, the daughter of slain Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers said at the funeral.

“He gave up a fortune to help Black people, what are you going to do?” Rep. Waters asked the audience. “Don’t come here today and say how much you love him and go to work tomorrow and skin and grin. It’s time for us to have courage to do what we need to do. Now is the time for us to have courage.”

“I wish I could sit and talk with Dick because I have work to do,” she continued, declaring that Mr. Gregory had liberated her, and that she has now “taken off the gloves,” and would spend the rest of her career fulfilling a mission. “Because I’m cleaning out the White House. I’m going to sanitize the White House,” she said.  Mr. Gregory was even a friend of Mrs. Waters’ mother in their original hometown St. Louis.

She also commended embattled comedian Bill Cosby, who was in attendance with his wife Camille. “I want to thank Bill and Camille Cosby,” Rep. Waters said to sustained applause. “Bill and Camille Cosby, they sent a tree that we planted for my mother, and that tree is flourishing on the lawn of the Gateway Center. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m a politician. I’m not supposed to thank Bill and Camille Cosby. A friend in need is a friend indeed, and if you can’t stand with your friends when they need you, then you’re not worth your salt.”
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Representatives from the Native American community paid tribute to Mr. Gregory. (R) Women applaud during program.

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Bill and Camille Cosby (far right) in audience at Mr. Gregory's services in Landover, Maryland.

Dick Gregory imparted a deep spirituality, many speakers noted, although he was not at all a religiously bound person. He never professed to belong to any church, any mosque, or any synagogue. He was rooted to the boundless, universal God-force, according to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.


The biblical Jesus set out to “unite the whole of humanity into oneness with God, oneness with each other, and one community,” said Min. Farrakhan. “God ain’t bugged out by color. That’s the sickness of White supremacy, and it has nothing to do with Jesus.”

Mr. Gregory understood and applied his study to the “root of knowledge,” enabling him to “connect with all the branches,” Min. Farrakhan continued.

We are taught that we would be “one in Christ. Problem is, you’re not in him yet. That’s why Dick couldn’t join you. ‘Cause he’s trying to be one, not with religion, but one with the Universal King, the One God, Who created it all.”

“Faith produces works,” the Muslim leader said. “That was a man of faith. His faith made him, one of the greatest men of our time.”

The funeral concluded with a tribute concert by Stevie Wonder, joined on stage by Ayanna Gregory, daughter of Dick Gregory. “I am thankful for having lived in the time of Dick Gregory,” Mr. Wonder said before his performance. “All of my songs from 1999 until now are because Dick Gregory saved my life.”

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Rockford man continues struggle to clear his name

by William P. Muhammad

Rockford, Ill. – Before the backdrop of 1990s policing strategies, the stereotyping and targeting of young Black Americans, and the impact of mass incarceration upon entire communities, the inevitability of local abuse converged with the arrest, first degree murder conviction, and now a scheduled retrial of Patrick Pursley, recently freed through his decades long persistence to expose a hidden truth, revealed the wide-ranging impact of racialized politics on local prosecutions and the general targeting of Black youth in the American criminal justice system.
Patrick Pursley and daughter Nija
            “I was locked up on this case in 1993 and I was gone 23 years,” Mr. Pursley said during an interview in his Rockford apartment. “There was what you call a quantum body of evidence that was either ignored, buried or neglected by the state’s attorney and with the ballistic photos, I basically generated my own evidence (and) I demanded that my lawyers get me a ballistic expert, and from that point on, that is what really saved my neck,” the now 51-year-old Mr. Pursley said.
            Explaining that it took nearly two and a half decades to seek answers alleging misconduct, if not an overzealous rush to judgment on the part of investigators and the prosecution, help from organizations such as Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions was vital in helping to argue his innocence and to present evidence for a retrial while adding that thinking of his children was the motivating force behind keeping up his fight for freedom.
            “The appellate court said we can’t grant you gun testing because the law doesn’t allow for it, the law only allows for DNA testing, so I set out to get the law amended and filed a suit against various governing officials,” Mr. Pursley said. “The same way you allow for DNA testing to establish actual innocence in a post-conviction petition, you should allow for gun testing and other forms of forensic testing,” he explained, while pointing out the names, supporters and organizations that took his ideas on forensic testing, published in the Statesville Speaks prison newsletter, and made into a bill for the state legislature that was signed into law on October 27th, 2007.
            Throughout the ups and downs of what would become an arduous 23-year battle to free himself from the nightmare of what Mr. Pursley called a wrongful life-without-parole prison sentence, family members likewise suffered in ways hidden from public view, deeply affecting them from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood.
            Describing the difficulties of growing up without knowledge of her biological father and her need to have completion regarding her identity as a young person, Nija Pursley said she always felt different and out of place. “It is surreal and like something out of a movie that you don’t really imagine,” she said. “My mom kept it from me that he was my biological father until I was 11-years-old, so I didn’t really know anything about him until about 12 years ago, and I’m 23 right now,” Ms. Pursley said.
            With the advent of what Michelle Alexander identified in her landmark book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness in 2010,” and what is popularly labeled by activists as the ‘Prison Industrial Complex,’ Clinton Era policies of the 1990s, coupled with state and federal cuts to the social safety net, hamstrung entire communities and led to the scapegoating, targeting and overzealous policing and prosecution of primarily young Black men in nearly every municipality across the country.
            “When law enforcement is abusive or perceived as abusive, then the problems effect society in ways anticipated and unanticipated, and I think can result in a breakdown of law enforcement’s ability to protect the citizens that they are tasked with protecting,” said Professor Karen Daniel, Director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law in a telephone interview. “If there is a perception that they are abusing their citizens, or that they’re not trustworthy, then they won’t be trusted by the citizens and they won’t be able to solve crimes or prevent crimes and, to me, that is what we see happening in a lot of major metropolitan areas in our country,” she said.
            Concerning the role of The Center on Wrongful Convictions, in addressing issues of bias or wrongdoing within the criminal justice system, Professor Daniel said that Northwestern University’s program is only one of many organizations trying to shine a light on such problems and as an institution, she sees it working both to vindicate individuals such as Mr. Pursley and to bring attention to the importance of truth in the courts.
“There are big questions that society is grappling with right now; mass incarceration, racism in the system, and our issue is primarily accuracy in the system,” Professor Daniel noted. “Sometimes, as the result of lawsuits that follow wrongful convictions, further information is brought to light about what led to the wrongful conviction in the first place,” she said.
            Regarding legislative initiatives and proposals designed to address disparities and injustices within the Illinois criminal justice system, Dr. Litesa Wallace, State Representative of Illinois’ 67th District and a member of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, said that Illinois became one of the first states in the nation to implement policing reforms to address practices such as stop-and-frisk, racial profiling and other practices negatively affecting police-community relations.
“We did get these policing reform bills signed, that were signed by Governor Rauner, after the   Legislative Black Caucus led the charge, in 2016, and then recently, we supported legislation to give what’s known as a Certificate of Innocence, so that individuals are able to access the resources necessary (to recover) from a wrongful conviction. We have to be intentional about creating policies that heal communities and to make them whole,” State Representative Wallace said.
Student Minister Yahcolyah Muhammad, of The Nation of Islam Rockford Study Group, said the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said that injustice at the hands of government destroys the fabric of society because those sworn to uphold justice and law are seen as failing to perform their duty. “Anytime someone is wrongly convicted, it can destroy or tear away at one’s belief or confidence in the justice system,” the Student Minister said. “This is why there is protest, this is why there is an upheaval, and this is why there is a lack of confidence in the justice system of America.” he said.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

From The Final Call Newspaper

Torrential rains decimate Texas

By Richard B. Muhammad and Charlene Muhammad -Final Call Staffers- | Last updated: Aug 29, 2017 - 1:37:51 PM

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(L) Melani Zurawski cries while inspecting her home in Port Aransas, Texas, on, Aug. 27 (R) Terranysha Ferguson holds her son, Christian Phillips as she sits with the rest of her family at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.

Hurricane Harvey unleashed unprecedented rain, causing massive damage in just a three-day span, but the worst was yet to come for Lone Star State.


The terrible Texas storm system began as a tropical wave east of Barbados in the Caribbean gathered strength in the southern area of the Gulf of Mexico and then it struck.

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Friends Franklin Halloween, 16, left, and Deleon Gambel, 14, fight the current from the overflow of Buffalo Bayou as they make their way through floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey while checking on neighbors in their apartment complex in Houston, Texas, Aug. 27. (Bottom) A flooded residential neighborhood in Southeast Houston, TX. Photo: MGN Online
It stalled over Houston for about 24 hours as a Category 3 Hurricane before hitting landfall, and then Aug. 25, Harvey was upgraded to a Category 4 and pummeled the city of Rockport, Texas with 130 mph winds.


Eight people died, according to reports, as Harvey dumped trillions of gallons of rain on Houston and other parts of the state and region. Meteorologists predicted rainfall would reach 50 inches or higher at Final Call presstime.

“You have to keep in mind that flooding is not abnormal in the Houston area, but this storm lingered over this area for so long that it spawned tornadoes that impacted parts of Missouri City and the surrounding areas, and the flooding that came, dropping gallons and gallons of rain,” said Jeffrey Boney, councilman-elect of Missouri City, Texas’ District B and associate editor of the Houston Forward Times.

In three days, Houston received the amount of rain it typically gets in a year and Harvey visited Austin, San Antonio, Central Texas, and moved further northeast and to the east, he stated.

“It was surreal in a couple of instances, just thinking about where do you go?  But you have no other place to go but back home and sit put and wait it out and pray and hope for the best,” Mr. Boney told The Final Call. 

“What makes this unprecedented is that it is not a 100 year, 500 year, but a 1,000-year flood event, which is to say that it is unprecedented because it goes beyond any records that have been measured in modern times,” said Dr. Abdul Haleem Muhammad, an urban planner, environmental consultant, and Nation of Islam student minister for the Southwest Region. He is based in Houston.

Harvey’s devastating floods poured into the nation’s fourth-largest city and rising water chased thousands of people to rooftops or higher ground and overwhelmed rescuers who could not keep up with the constant calls for help.
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A damaged car sits outside a heavily damaged apartment complex in Rockport, Texas, after Hurricane Harvey struck the area, Aug. 26.

The incessant rain covered much of Houston in turbid, gray-green water and turned streets into rivers navigable only by boat. In a rescue effort that recalled the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, helicopters landed near flooded freeways, airboats buzzed across submerged neighborhoods and high-water vehicles plowed through water-logged intersections. Some people managed with kayaks or canoes or swam.


Volunteers joined emergency teams to pull people from their homes or from the water, which was high enough in places to gush into second floors. They urged people to get on top of their houses to avoid becoming trapped in attics and to wave sheets or towels to draw attention to their location.

Residents living around the Addicks and Barker reservoirs designed to help prevent flooding in downtown Houston, were warned that a controlled release from both reservoirs would cause additional street flooding and could spill into homes. Rising water levels and continuing rain was putting pressure on the dams that could cause a failure without the release.

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Massive sinkhole in Rosenberg Texas. (Bottom) This man is a preacher checking for people inside cars at Interstate 610 and 288. Photo: MGN Online
The Army Corps of Engineers early Aug. 28 started the water releases at the reservoirs ahead of schedule after water levels increased dramatically in a few hours’ time, a Corps spokesman said.


The timetable was moved up to prevent more homes from being affected by flooding from the reservoirs, Corps spokesman Jay Townsend said. He added that water levels were rising at a rate of more than six inches per hour in both reservoirs.

Meanwhile, officials in Fort Bend County, Houston’s southwestern suburbs, issued widespread mandatory evacuation orders along the Brazos River levee districts.

County Judge Robert Herbert said at a news conference that National Weather Service officials were calling it an “800-year-flood level.” Judge Herbert said that amount of water would top the levees and carries a threat of levee failure.

Judging from federal disaster declarations, the storm early on affected about a quarter of the Texas population, or 6.8 million people in 18 counties. Some 50 counties  were declared state disaster areas.
“The breadth and intensity of this rainfall is beyond anything experienced before,” the National Weather Service said in a statement.

The director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brock Long, predicted that the aftermath of the storm would require FEMA’s involvement for years.

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Neri Sanchez cries as she hugs her grandson, Jonathan Sanchez, 1, after being reunited at a rescue boat pickup area along Edgebrook, Texas, Aug. 27.
“This disaster’s going to be a landmark event,” Mr. Long said.


Rescuers had to give top priority to life-and-death situations, leaving many affected families to fend for themselves. And several hospitals in the Houston area were evacuated due to the rising waters.

It was not clear how many people were plucked from the floodwaters. Up to 1,200 people had to be rescued in Galveston County alone, said Mark Henry, the county judge, the county’s top administrative post.

Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center was quickly opened as a shelter. It was also used as a shelter for Katrina refugees in 2005.

Gillis Leho arrived there soaking wet. She said she awoke to find her downstairs flooded. She tried to move some belongings upstairs, then grabbed her grandchildren.

“When they told us the current was getting high, we had to bust a window to get out,” Ms. Leho said.

Some people used inflatable beach toys, rubber rafts and even air mattresses to get through the water to safety. Others waded while carrying trash bags stuffed with their belongings and small animals in picnic coolers.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said authorities had received more than 2,000 calls for help, with more coming in. He urged drivers to stay off roads to avoid adding to the number of those stranded.
The deteriorating situation was bound to provoke questions about the conflicting advice given by the governor and Houston leaders before the hurricane. Gov. Greg Abbott urged people to flee from Harvey’s path, but the Houston mayor issued no evacuation orders and told everyone to stay home.
The governor Aug.  27 refused to point fingers.

“Now is not the time to second-guess the decisions that were made,” Gov. Abbott, a Republican, said at a news conference in Austin. “What’s important is that everybody work together to ensure that we are going to, first, save lives and, second, help people across the state rebuild.”

The mayor, a Democrat, defended his decision, saying there was no way to know which parts of the city were most vulnerable.

“If you think the situation right now is bad, and you give an order to evacuate, you are creating a nightmare,” Mayor Turner said, citing the risks of sending the city’s 2.3 million inhabitants onto the highways at the same time.

The Coast Guard deployed five helicopters and asked for additional aircraft from New Orleans.
The White House announced that President Donald Trump would visit Texas on Aug. 29. He met by teleconference with top administration officials to discuss federal support for response and recovery efforts.

Harvey was the fiercest hurricane to hit the U.S. in 13 years and the strongest to strike Texas since 1961’s Hurricane Carla, the most powerful Texas hurricane on record.
                    
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Evacuees wade down a flooded section of Interstate 610 as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey rise, Aug. 27, 2017, in Houston. The remnants of Hurricane Harvey sent devastating floods pouring into Houston as rising water chased thousands of people to rooftops or higher ground.


A new normal for disasters?
“There is a reality that we have to come to grips with, and that is we are just beginning the process of responding to this storm,” said Gov. Abbott during an August 28 press conference from Corpus Christi, Texas.

“We need to recognize that this is going to be a new normal, a new and different normal for this entire region, but we will not stop until we get as far as we can,” Gov. Abbott said.

President Trump declared a state of emergency in Louisiana on Aug. 28, and pledged the government’s full support. He said recovery will be a long and difficult road, and nothing can defeat the unbreakable spirit of people in those states.

He asked for God’s wisdom and strength.

“We will get through this. We will come out stronger, and believe me, we will be bigger, better, stronger than ever before,” President Trump said during a press conference.

Fulfilling prophecy?
Harvey has been called a landmark event, storm of the century, and its aftermath “like a war zone.”
But Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan has continually warned President Trump that Almighty God Allah would use natural disasters to cripple America. He issued such a warning a week before Harvey struck.  “Let me tell you what my teacher told me,” said the Minister speaking Aug. 20 at Mosque Maryam in Chicago. “Whether you know it or not, America is a preserved area: No bomb is going to fall here, because the God has you here—and the White man knows he’s keeping you a hostage, because God is after you.  … 

I want to say something to the president of the United States, Mr. Donald J. Trump.  I would advise him, from the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.”

“Brothers and sisters, Kim Jong-Un may get a nuclear warhead to put on his ballistic missile, but the God won’t let it come here. You are God’s people.  He said this area is preserved for Him; He is going to take your enemy out in His way. He said America is ‘No. 1’ on His list to be destroyed.  I didn’t say it.  God said it, so says the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.  ‘Well how are You gonna do it, God?’  He (God) said, ‘Well, he doesn’t have any defense against the force of nature.’ Allah is going to use the wind, the rain, the tornadoes, the hurricane, the fire, hail, sleet, snow. He’s whipping America bad. 

“Mr. Trump: The God is after America for her evils done to His people.  You have a chance to relieve yourself of some of the heaviness of the Judgment that is against you by letting my people go.”

“Don’t you ever laugh when you see nature doing its work under the direction of the God that I’m talking to you about,” instructed Min. Farrakhan, as he waved his index finger during his keynote address at the Family Summit Conference in Atlanta on Aug. 29.

“But our teacher Elijah Muhammad named four great judgments that will come against America and the first one was unusual rain!  Unusual snow.  Unusual hail.  Unusual earthquakes,” Min. Farrakhan continued.
                    
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Michael Thomas and his brother Deeantre try to collect belongings in their Saltgrass Landing apartment complex, destroyed by Hurricane Harvey, in Rockport, Texas, Aug. 26. Photos: AP/Wide World photos

“Is God angry?” he asked.  “I said to Mr. Trump that America is a preserved area, according to our teacher.  No bomb from a foreign government is going to fall here, according to what the Messenger taught me, but this area is preserved for God.”

“All of us talk about God, even if we don’t believe in him, but God desires to make himself known to us by doing something that no one else could do but he, himself, so that the scripture might be fulfilled:  Every knee will bow, and every tongue will be forced to confess that Allah is God,” Min. Farrakhan continued.

In his enlightening book, “The Fall of America,” Elijah Muhammad devotes a chapter to the “Four Great Judgments of America.” “To be plagued with too much rain will destroy property and lives. It swells the rivers and creeks. Too much rain floods cities and towns. Large bodies of water at the ocean shore lines will be made to swell with unusually high waves, dumping billions of tons of water over the now seashore line,” he wrote.

“Rain destroys property and kills cattle by drowning them in low lands. Rain destroys the hiding places of vicious beasts and reptiles bringing them out fighting in small towns in peoples’ homes and farms.

“Rain weakens and destroys railroads, truck line beds and bridges. Rain undermines foundations of all types of buildings. Rain makes the atmosphere too heavy with moisture causing sickness. Wind with rain can bring destruction to towns and cities, bringing various germs, causing sickness to the people. It produces unclean water by the swelling of streams and destroying reservoirs of pure drinking water used for the health of the people. Rain is a destructive army within itself.”

He also warned, “God, in the Person of Master Fard Muhammad, will not be defeated. The more evil, deceiving, tricking and making of false promises to the American so-called Negro only increases America’s divine chastisement—doom.”

“But God has chosen us to be His people, and He delights in fighting the enemy. According to the history of the former people, He delighted Himself by going forth against them when they exceeded the limit. So it is with America,” he wrote. “They must be separated. America will not agree to see the Negro separated from her until she has suffered divine punishment, as Pharaoh suffered. The same thing that other evil nations suffered before them is now coming upon this people.” “The Fall of America” was published in 1973.

Dynamic situation
Some  8,000 people were in shelters in Houston alone at Final Call  presstime, officials said. They asked for donations  of money, food, clothing and medical supplies.

The task is to now ensure aid reaches those in need, Mr. Boney said, noting that many plaintiff’s attorneys and consumer watch dog groups are urging disaster victims to file written notices of insurance claims before new Texas law which they argue restricts homeowners’ protections (House Bill 1774) takes effect on September 1.

Meanwhile, develop strategies for survival, particularly Blacks, who lack money and resources to evacuate, said Mr. Boney.

Callers have overloaded the 911 system, with 75,000 calls processed on August 28, down from 220,000 the day before. 

A long road to recovery
Roughly 8,500 FEMA agents have been dispatched to the region, 1,100 of them performing search and rescue missions, according to the FEMA administrator.

Gov. Abbott has deployed all 12,000 Texas National Guard members to help maintain public safety. Four people attempted looting, but have been arrested.

Some have questioned why some negatively targeted Mayor Turner alone, and not other officials who acted similarly.

“People have begun finger pointing, but there’s no need to point the finger.  If you’re going  to point the finger, point the finger at the Son of Man, because he is the one that brings rain, hail, snow and earthquakes,” said Dr. Muhammad.

There are also questions about how the GOP-controlled Congress will handle requests for  disaster aid and whether the will be budget fights and demands for cuts to offset increases in disaster funding.   
Far reaching implications
The Texas Gulf Coast is home to nearly one-third of U.S. refining capacity, and the U.S. Gulf of Mexico accounts for nearly 20 percent of total U.S. crude oil production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The American Automobile Association reported that gas prices shot up across the country as Hurricane Harvey blasted Texas.

“At $2.37, today’s national gas price average is four cents more expensive on the week and one of the largest one-week national gas prices surge seen this summer,” AAA stated on its web page Aug. 28.
About one quarter of oil refining capacity in the Gulf Coast had been taken offline, reported AAA, according to forecasts by Oil Price Information Service. That equals about 2.5 million barrels per day. AAA said Harvey also caused eight refineries in Texas to shut  down.

“For the rest of America, this is the lull before the storm, and we need to make note of what’s happening in Houston, because you’re gas price is about to go up,” Dr. Muhammad said.  “While you’re praying for Houston, pray for yourself,” he advised.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.