Tuesday, October 16, 2018

From The Final Call Newspaper

Minister Farrakhan issues challenge to Trump, White America and Black America in return to Detroit

By Askia Muhammad -Senior Editor-

DETROIT—The 23rd anniversary of the Million Man March (MMM) and Holy Day of Atonement, with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan at the Aretha Franklin Amphitheater here Oct. 14, was itself like another holy day.

And then, there was a miracle of sorts. The Weather Channel had predicted for two weeks that there would be rain in Detroit on Oct. 14. The temperature was a brisk 52 degrees Fahrenheit when the program began. When Min. Farrakhan entered the arena 45 minutes later, wearing a brown suit and gold bowtie, the temperature had increased to 54. The Minister assured the audience that “the God we serve is the master of climate and climate change,” promising that it would soon “heat up.”

Sure enough, within four minutes the thermometer had climbed to 55 degrees, and just seven minutes later, the temperature was 57, where it remained for the duration of the Minister’s remarks, remarks he concluded with a warning that if America does not atone to the Black descendants of slaves in this country and to Native Americans who were annihilated in the conquest of this country, climate calamities and extreme weather would continue, and get worse, with devastating earthquakes which would flatten entire cities, yet to come.

“I’ve been telling you for three years. Now, watch the weather,” the Nation of Islam (NOI) minister warned. “Now watch. This is my backup,” he said, gesturing to poster-size portraits of Master Fard Muhammad and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, who he insisted, are masters at controlling the weather and natural calamities. Detroit is the birthplace of the NOI. It was here that Master Fard Muhammad, founder of the movement, met and taught then Elijah Poole.

In 1934, Master Fard Muhammad “disappeared,” and one year later the Honorable Elijah Muhammad relocated the NOI headquarters to Chicago.

“Your suffering is not because you, or your parents did something wrong,” Min. Farrakhan assured the attentive audience. No, the suffering and affliction was prophesied, he explained. “After that time I (God) would come, first to judge the nation which afflicted you, then to raise the nation of Black, Brown, and Red (people), like dry bones in the valley.”

The 1995 Million Man March, Min. Farrakhan explained, was intended to lead Black men into “atonement, reconciliation and responsibility” for their own lives and for their families. “Those three words are the root of why we’re here today.”

Whites directing affairs of Blacks is over!

Decorating the stage—with the scenic river view, and occasional Canadian Steamship Lines transports gliding silently by in the background—were the two spiritual, soulful portraits of Aretha Franklin which were “divine,” and which appeared on the cover, and on the page accompanying Min. Farrakhan’s tribute to Ms. Franklin in the memorial edition of The Final Call newspaper.

“One God, One Faith, One Baptism” are the words in one of her portraits as well emblazoned on the podium of Greater Grace Temple Church of God in Christ (COGIC), where Bishop Charles Ellis III, former Presiding Bishop of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, is the pastor. Ms. Franklin’s home going service was held at Grace Temple on Aug. 31, and it was there that Bishop Ellis took Min. Farrakhan by the hand to a seat on the dais which had his name on it, next to the Revs. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and former President Bill Clinton.

There was a flurry of concern at the time—“especially White folks”—wondering how Min. Farrakhan got seated on the stage. At the same time there was little public concern that Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder was an honored guest. Gov. Snyder was part of a “genocidal plot,” which was responsible for the crippling water crisis which literally poisoned thousands of people in nearby Flint, Mich., and which led to criminal prosecutions of several state employees. “You ought to shut your mouth,” Min. Farrakhan said to those critics. “Your day of directing our affairs is all over!”

In the cities of Detroit and Chicago, Master Fard Muhammad, and the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad played a role in the establishment of proper education systems for Black youth Min. Farrakhan explained. “The Honorable Elijah Muhammad paid a price for you to have an independent Afro-centric education today. Someone paid a price!”

In both Detroit and in Chicago, both Master Fard Muhammad and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad were jailed because they took the Muslim children out of the public schools to be taught in the Muhammad University of Islam. Master Fard Muhammad and the Hon. Elijah Muhammad were also both run out of Detroit by their enemies who did not want Islam established in the hearts and minds of Black people. And those two cities, said Min. Farrakhan, can “turn the whole nation (of Black people) around.”

The value of women

After confessing that he cried, watching the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford concerning now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Muslim leader taught about the sacredness of the woman, and even the artistic, violin playing component in his own personality. Dr. Ford accused Mr. Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school years ago. The #MeToo movement founded by Tarana Burke, a Black woman, has catapulted the very real scourge of sexual assault, sexual misconduct and abuse of women and girls into the spotlight. During his remarks, the Minister stressed upon the value and sacredness of the female and how God views her.

“Sisters, you are a universe within yourself. You are a world within yourself. The worst mistake you make is when you open your legs and let a man take advantage of you and leave you with a baby. You really need God in your life, and not a spook god.”

His goal is “showing women their place, not as a woman of man, but as a woman of God!” the Minister said. The female vaginal track is “the road to the workshop of God.” That workshop is the womb, where the answer to every single prayer is produced in the form of a person born of a woman who answers the prayer or solves the problem.

“Breast cancer is a scourge, which someone needs to come up with a cure for. How will that happen? It will be answered from the womb of a woman, a child.

“Every great person came from your womb,” and we all must “make death for those who violate that sacred place.” The Muslim leader mused that he is called “misogynist.” “I had to look it up.” But, he said as he was taught by Mr. Elijah Muhammad, “every knock is a boost,” and he thanked his critics, especially the Jewish persons who have falsely accused him of being anti-Semitic, for making his name known all over the world.

“You cannot find one Jew, on whose head one hair has been harmed, or one synagogue which has been defiled,” by anyone associated with the Nation of Islam. “They call me anti-Semitic. No! You are anti-Black.”

Min. Farrakhan said he believed Dr. Blasey-Ford’s testimony and he called the situation she endured, a “real injustice.”

“That lady was a victim of something,” the Minister said. If Mr. Kavanaugh had apologized for his alleged conduct, Dr. Blasey Ford likely would have forgiven him. Mr. Kavanaugh has denied all allegations against him, the Minister said.

“When that woman stood up and went through the horror of what Mr. Kavanaugh is alleged to have done to her, she had to relive it, because that kind of thing—when you experience it, you don’t forget that.

“Your sacredness has got to be respected by yourself,” Minister Farrakhan said to women. “Every prophet of God was born from your womb. Women are sacred. If you don’t see that, Satan has robbed you of the knowledge of who you are.” To the men, the Minister said: “We are busy destroying the virtue of our women.” He said men must be the protectors of women.” Men and women must avoid thinking that fast sex is the path to true love or intimacy.

“As fast as sex is over, that’s how fast marriage ends, because it was never love, it was always lust. After the lust is completed, then what? Have you ever wondered if there’s more to life than this?”

Min. Farrakhan also addressed rapper Kanye West, who has come under blistering criticism for his support and meeting with President Trump. Min. Farrakhan said the rapper was right in saying the 13th Amendment is a trap door. It outlaws slavery, except as punishment for commission of a crime, he said. (See Final Call pages 16 and 17 for more coverage.)

To President Trump, Min. Farrakhan said the time is coming soon, when he and key figures must talk to him. The Minister said he is loathe going to the White House, but announced that his address is at 4855 South Woodlawn Avenue in Chicago, and that Trump administration officials can meet with him there.

“I’m saying to Mr. Trump, ‘You’re planning genocide.’ I want you and the people of God to watch how God is working. When earthquakes come, we’ve got to talk about letting Black people go. A few Negroes in high places is not atonement,” not sufficient reparations for White America’s sins.

“We’re ready to serve. We’re ready to help clean up, along with our Moorish Science brothers, and all those who mean well. The Nation of Islam is the hope of our people,” Minister Farrakhan said in his conclusion. “We are not trying to make you a Muslim. You are already one. You just don’t know it yet.”

Sonya Weaver, owner of Deals with BOB (Black Owned Businesses) was elated that she accepted the invitation from Student Minister Troy Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No. 1 to hear Min. Farrakhan. His coming back to Detroit, and his focus on the woman and Black unity touched her deeply, she told The Final Call.

“I’m excited, because I feel a shift. I’ve been feeling a shift in my spirit for the last couple years, knowing that I had a mission, a purpose, and assignment pertaining to God’s people, and knowing that it was a time for them to stop wandering in the wilderness, and take their place in the promised land that has been given to them,” said Ms. Weaver.

“What really stood out to me was men understanding their role as strong men and women understanding their role as beautiful women, and each other understanding that, respecting, and protecting it,” she stated.

“When he said men protect women and women protect one’s self, that just resonated with me the most, because if we just get back to the basics, everything else kind of falls into place. It’s not that difficult,” the young entrepreneur stated.

“I thought it was one of the most motivating speeches that I’ve heard,” shared Michael Roberts, Sr., chairman and CEO of Roberts Riverwalk Hotel. “He sent a tremendous message, calling for the people of Detroit to really continue to work to make Detroit number one again. He gave a historical perspective of Detroit and the origin of how Black folks got here,” said Mr. Roberts.

“The Minister did a fabulous job of bringing attention to prospects and the possibilities … I’m delighted to be here. I am very happy that this was the location for the 23rd Anniversary of the Million Man March, and I’m particularly happy that it launched with planning in my hotel,” Mr. Roberts added, referring to a town hall in its newly renovated Grand Ballroom.

“Wonderful,” exclaimed Donetta Simpson in a word to describe her experience. “He’s saying that we all need to stand up as our own Black people, and stop wanting someone to give us a hand and that it’s our moment at this time, and that we can change our condition,” continued the non-party affiliated candidate for Congress.

“We can change our neighborhoods. We can change the language to come off our tongues. We can change the way we live, eat, drink and treat each other! But we can’t do it without us getting into our own self-government,” Ms. Simpson added. (Starla Muhammad and Charlene Muhammad contributed to this report.)

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

From The Final Call Newspaper

Killer cop’s conviction brings relief and calls for action

By Bryan Crawford and Tariqah Shakir-Muhammad The Final Call

CHICAGO—Jurors in the murder trial of police officer Jason Van Dyke for the 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, after listening to three weeks of testimony from the prosecution, defense, and even from Van Dyke himself, deliberated for a little more than a day and reached a verdict of guilty of second-degree murder.

He was also found guilty Oct. 5 on all 16 counts of aggravated battery—one for each shot the officer fired into the teenager. Jason Van Dyke became the first Chicago police officer in almost five decades to be convicted of murder in the shooting death of an individual while on duty.

Protesters outside courthouse for trial of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke. 

The trial was closely watched by people inside and outside of Chicago. In the days and months leading up to the trial, community activists and organizers took to the streets calling for a conviction of officer Van Dyke and justice for Laquan. The guilty verdict on Mr. Van Dyke seemed to accomplish both goals—up to a point.

But, a saga involving Chicago police department personnel who were on the scene that night will continue: Just one day before the guilty verdict, a judge unsealed prosecution documents in the case of three officers—Thomas Gaffney, Joseph Walsh and David March—are charged with conspiracy, obstruction of justice and official misconduct. They are accused of helping to cover-up what happened between officer Van Dyke and teenager McDonald on that fateful night.

“I’m so grateful to God. I know the whole country is looking at Chicago right now, but it was only because of God that we got justice,” said William Calloway, who filed a lawsuit to get police video of the McDonald shooting released to the public. “We did a lot of praying. We did a lot of work. We were peaceful when we didn’t want to be peaceful. There were so many shootings that happened after Laquan McDonald, and we remained peaceful. After the tape was released, we still remained peaceful. And I thank the community for remaining peaceful and non-destructive. But we want everybody to know the buck stops here in Chicago.”

After the guilty verdict, people gathered downtown to march in solidarity and celebrate a semblance of justice finally being served.

“This sentence is going to reverberate through the policing community on two different levels,” Corey Pegues, a former New York City police commander, told The Final Call. “The overwhelming majority of police feel like they don’t do anything wrong. But I can promise you there’s a small segment of police—Black, White, Asian and other ethnicities—saying that guy needed to go to jail because it was one of the most vicious crimes ever viewed on television. No cop in their right mind agreed with officer Van Dyke. Secondly, a lot of policing around the country is hands off because of the body cams and people recording them with their cameras. No one wants to be on the front page of the newspaper, but they still need to go out and do their jobs. But if any of them do what Van Dyke did, then they need to go to prison.”

During three weeks of testimony, the defense seemed to place blame on young McDonald for his own death. Mr. Van Dyke echoed this sentiment himself when he testified on his own behalf.

“He could’ve thrown that knife away and ended it all right then and there,” Mr. Van Dyke said, saying teenager McDonald ignored his commands to drop the knife. Mr. Van Dyke was among many officers at the scene and when he arrived other cops appeared to be waiting for an officer with a taser to arrive. “His face had no expression, his eyes were just bugging out of his head. He had these huge white eyes, just staring right through me,” said officer Van Dyke, who exited his vehicle and emptied his weapon into the young man who was acting erratically. No other officer fired a shot.

Activist Will Calloway (middle) was unrelenting in fighting for justice for Laquan McDonald. Mr. Calloway along with others filed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that eventually lead to the court-ordered release of dash cam video showing Off. Van Dyke shooting the 17 old to death in a hail of bullets.

“They always want to blame the victim. Here this poor kid was savagely murdered, and they tried to blame him for his own death, thinking it was going to sway the jury. That is common practice, and you see this all the time in policing whenever there is an officer-involved shooting,” explained Mr. Pegues. “Luckily, God took care of this one. And no matter what dirty tactics they tried to use, he was still found guilty of murder.”

Mr. Van Dyke, while on the stand, made a series of statements that could be viewed as outright lies, particularly when prosecutors cross examined him. Mr. Van Dyke testified that he and McDonald maintained eye contact the entire time and he never saw him turn and walk away from officers. When asked if it was his testimony that Mr. McDonald never turned his back to Van Dyke, the officer answered yes. “Then how did you shoot him in the back?” a prosecutor asked.

In the aftermath of the verdict, Chris Southwood, the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police State Lodge president, issued a scathing and tone deaf statement condemning the jurors and the judicial process.

The murder trial of Off. Van Dyke was monitored closely by activists in the city.

“This is a day I never thought I’d see in America, where 12 ordinary citizens were duped into saving the asses of self-serving politicians at the expense of a dedicated public servant,” Mr. Southwood wrote. “This sham trial and shameful verdict is a message to every law enforcement officer in America that it’s not the perpetrator in front of you that you need to worry about, it’s the political operatives stabbing you in the back. What cop would still want to be proactive fighting crime after this disgusting charade, and are law abiding citizens ready to pay the price?”

Kevin Graham, president of the FOP Chicago Lodge 7, said, “We are certainly not blaming the jury, but we do think that as we had requested, and has been done countless times throughout the country, that we could’ve had a change of venue which was not granted to us.”

“There will be an appeal. Mark my words. We think that Jason has a tough road to go, but he’s not standing alone. The Fraternal Order of Police is standing with the officer who we believe acted as a police officer and did the best he could that night.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police chief Eddie Johnson, released a joint statement following the verdict. “Today, the jury reached its verdict. As we absorb their decision, let us continue to hear each other and partner with each other—as public servants, police and members of the public—and let us ensure our collective mission is what endures for generations to come … . While the jury has heard the case and reached their conclusion, our collective work is not done. The effort to drive lasting reform and rebuild bonds of trust between residents and police must carry on with vigor.”

Activists and community organizers also carry on with vigor, even with the conviction of Mr. Van Dyke. The fight for justice and police reform is far from over—at the grassroots organizing level and in the voting booth during upcoming elections, they said.

“No Black alderman showed up for this trial. No city council people or no Black elected official showed up. It was just us. Not one of them came for one hour to sit in this trial, not once. All of them need to go,” said Mr. Calloway. “Black Chicago, we have to make sure all of these Black elected officials are voted out in these 2019 elections.”

Judge Vincent Gaughan revoked Mr. Van Dyke’s bond and set his sentencing for Oct. 31. The former Chicago cop’s mug shot was taken and he was jailed after the unanimous decision by a 12-member jury. Sitting on the jury was one Black, seven Whites, three Hispanics and one Asian.

With the verdict announced on a Friday afternoon, activists and Chicagoans had awaited the trial outcome. They marched in victory downtown and the jury’s decision drew national and international attention.

Independent journalist, Jamie Kalven, activist Will Calloway, and University of Chicago Law School professor Craig Futterman, who led a successful Illinois Freedom of Information Act request for release of police dashcam footage showing the horrific shooting. It took 13 months for the video to be released. The video only came out after a contentious mayoral election victory by Rahm Emanuel and quick payment of a multi-million dollar settlement to Laquan’s family. Before the video was public, some police officials and others saw it. Heat was out on then-police chief Garry McCarthy, police higher ups and then-District Attorney Anita Alvarez for not taking action in the shooting.

Protests rocked the city alongside calls for the removal of the mayor, the police chief and the district attorney. Police chief McCarthy was fired. The district attorney lost a bid for re-election. Mayor Emanuel is not running for another term in office.

Mr. Van Dyke faces a minimum of four and a maximum of 20 years in prison on the second-degree murder conviction, of which he is eligible for probation. The aggravated battery with a firearm convictions carries a minimum sentence of six years and a maximum of 30 years in prison for each count, with no eligibility for probation.

It is unclear if Mr. Van Dyke’s conviction will lead to any kind of sweeping police reforms. A consent decree outlining mandatory reforms for the Chicago Police Department, which came as a result of a Department of Justice investigation into the department after the McDonald shooting, has been finalized, but has yet to be enacted, pending approval from a federal judge. Still, the guilty verdict has brought some measure of relief to many of those who worried another police officer would get off with killing another Black man in America.

“This is a gratifying verdict,” said prosecutor Joseph McMahon. “Today our justice system fulfilled its obligation to justice for all.”

“We celebrate today but the fight continues because we have to do police reform, justice reform and equity of the South and West side,” Father Michael Pfleger from St. Sabina Church told The Final Call.

“There’s thousands of Laquans in Chicago … the fight continues, it’s good to get a win every now and then but we have to continue to fight.”

Wallace “Gator” Bradley, a 67-year-old activist was equally pleased to hear the conviction after so many years of officers not being held accountable. “God made it possible for all of us to see how the man was murdered with the release of that video. … It’s been 50 years since a Chicago police officer has been guilty of murder,” he said.

Downtown Michigan Avenue, a major shopping district, and some universities shut down at noon, shortly before the jury’s announcement of a guilty verdict. Some were relieved but still angry.

Afrika Porter, an activist and media personality, echoed those who said the struggle for justice has to stay alive.

“People are comparing this to O.J. Simpson, that moment,” she stated. “I’m somewhat relieved because second-degree is better than not guilty but first-degree murder would have given him a larger sentencing from what I understand.”

“We can’t take a vacation because we have so many others whom we have to continue to fight for,” she continued. “We can’t fall asleep at this time. We are excited, we have a reason to feel a load has been taken off; however, we have to continue to fight.”

The mayor is very clever to not run again, Ms. Porter concluded. “We have to be even more wise as the Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught us.”

“We want peace in the streets regardless of how the verdict came out,” Mr. Bradley added. “What it should say to our young, African-American millennials (is to) push for the continuation of justice with the inclusion of telling other young African-Americans to stop killing one another.”

(Final Call staff contributed to this report.)

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

From The Final Call Newspaper

Welcome Back Minister Farrakhan

By Katrina Muhammad @KatrinaMuhammad - The Final Call

Downtown Detroit

DETROIT—For the first time in history the Million Man March Anniversary will take place in Detroit, Michigan, at the newly-named Aretha Franklin Amphitheater, previously known as Chene Park. On October 14, thousands of Muslims from the Nation of Islam (NOI), family members, friends and supporters are expected to converge in the city which will be a homecoming for the 88-year Islamic movement

This October marks the 23rd Anniversary of the Million Man March and Holy Day of Atonement. The mosque community as well as residents of the City of Detroit are very excited about the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and Nation of Islam returning to the city of its founding.

The historic event is expected to take place with weekend long activities starting on Friday, October 12 - Sunday, October 14. The keynote address by Min. Farrakhan will take place on Sunday, October 14.

Pastor Maurice Hardwick greets members of NOI Executive Council.

Key leaders in Detroit, community activists and organizers, clergy, civic leaders, entrepreneurs, educators, government officials, entertainers, Muhammad Mosque No. 1 Believers and other hard-working residents attended a town hall planning meeting about the Holy Day of Atonement at the only Black-owned hotel in Detroit in the Roberts Riverwalk Hotel newly-renovated Grand Ballroom.

It was a beautiful atmosphere with a view of the waterfront. The energy in the room was filled with excitement and anticipation of the discussion. Once the entire Nation of Islam Executive Council walked in the room to take their seats and start the Sept. meeting, the room filled to standing room only with approximately 300 people in attendance.

Student Minister Troy Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No. 1 in Detroit welcomed everyone. Student Min. Troy Muhammad and members of the leadership team made calls to invite the community to have a seat at the table of planning activities and to receive their blessing by helping the man of God.

A divine movement in an historic city

“The response of the city was the response based upon the love and the heart of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. It’s a response based upon the coming of Master Fard Muhammad in 1930 because so many Believers were affected by the coming of Master Fard Muhammad that you can’t identify a family that doesn’t have a Muslim member in the family, so we are already familiar with those teachings,” he explained.

Though Chicago is the international headquarters of the Nation, and is where its flagship Mosque Maryam is located, Detroit is where the NOI was founded and established, July 4, 1930 with the appearance of the Great Mahdi Master Fard Muhammad. It was in Black Bottom Detroit where Master Fard Muhammad met, raised and cultivated thousands of Black men, women and children—among them, his top student, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Over the recent years, the Nation has hosted its annual Saviours’ Day Convention, commemorating the birth of Master Fard Muhammad in Detroit—the last gathering in the city coming in 2017. However, this is the first time the city will host the anniversary of the 1995 Million Man March called by God through Min. Farrakhan.

“When one comes teaching those teachings, it resonates with the people here, the words of the Honorable Louis Farrakhan resonate with our people here in Detroit, there is no question that the people will come out based on his name. I’m appreciative that they came out and I thank the people of Detroit for attending this meeting on behalf of the Minister,” Student Min. Troy Muhammad continued.

“People know that he donated 90,000 Final Call newspapers—and that cost, and that he wants to do a free event for the city of Detroit and everyone wants to do their part to alleviate the burden for the Minister. We chose the Riverwalk Hotel for this meeting because it is the only Black-owned hotel in the city, and because Mike Roberts is a strong supporter of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. If you want to attend this event and you live in Detroit, contact Muhammad Mosque No. 1.”

Min. Farrakhan gifted the City of Detroit with a special commemorative editions of the newspaper featuring the iconic Aretha Franklin, who called Detroit home. Ms. Franklin died Aug. 16.

Stu. Minister Ishmael Muhammad, National Assistant for Min. Farrakhan introduced each NOI Executive Council member and shared very important words about the history of the Million Man March and why Detroit is a special, spiritual and important city as Mecca to the Muslim followers of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad.

"It gives me great joy to come back home, personally, because it’s the city of my mother. And this is where we buried my mother,” he said, reflecting on his mother, Tynnetta Muhammad, wife of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad.
“This is the city of my father, the Hon. Elijah Muhammad. So, I have roots here, and each time I come, to be honest, I start realizing more and more that I really am connected to Detroit even though I wasn’t raised here. But more than that, this city is such a sacred city, and it has so many great men and women in this city,” said Student Min. Ishmael Muhammad.

If Detroit is resurrected and rises in truth the whole of Black America will rise from Detroit, he explained. “It’s a sister city to Chicago. Detroit and Chicago when they rise, the whole of Black America will rise. So, I am excited that we have been connecting with Detroit over the last five years; three Saviours’ Days in Detroit over the last five years, and now to come back in the month of October which is the month of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad’s birth, and of course the 23rd anniversary,” he continued.

“I’m still grasping what this all means because the Minister is moved by a higher power, so it is not an accident that Allah (God) has put in him the spirit to come here, to distribute 90,000 copies, that means this city is loved by the God and He is making Detroit to know how much He loves Detroit through Brother Farrakhan.”

The Minister has a heart that is a heart after the heart of God, Stu. Minister Ishmael Muhammad stated.

A call for community

One of many Detroit residents who attended the gathering expressed excitement and heart felt sentiments about Minister Farrakhan coming to Detroit.
During the town hall meeting, Student Min. Ishmael Muhammad stated that the purpose of the community gathering was to announce a call for help from the community to work together in the spirit of love and unity, a theme of the Million Man March. Attendees applauded, and many began announcing their desire to support the event and help the Minister and the Nation.

Other members of the NOI Executive Council including Berve Muhammad, Student National Secretary; Leonard F. Muhammad, longtime aide to Min. Farrakhan; and Mustapha Farrakhan, Student Supreme Captain and son of Min. Farrakhan addressed the town hall.

“Generally the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan recognizes this is our Mecca and to come back home to where it all began and the first time for the Day of Atonement address here is just befitting. The spirit moved him and it is apparent already that Allah and His Christ are guiding him,” said Berve Muhammad.

People shared testimonials of gratitude for the 90,000 Final Call newspapers and many stood up to express how Islam and words of Min. Farrakhan saved their lives and pledged their assistance in bringing the Holy Day of Atonement to Detroit.

Several city officials and Detroit Police Department representatives stood up and boldly professed that whenever Min. Farrakhan comes to Detroit, “we roll out the red carpet for him because we know who he is.” Many enthusiastically shouted their thanks to God and agreed wholeheartedly.

Fraternity and sorority members were also present. Lanre Musa Lee of Omega Psi Phi said bringing Holy Day of Atonement to Detroit is fantastic and something that is needed in light of high crime and violence plaguing Black communities.

“Definitely, the Nation of Islam has my support and also the support of my fraternity of the brothers of Omega Psi Phi, Incorporated. Anything I can do to assist in the endeavors of the NOI and to better our community as a whole I’m all for it.”

“I think it was a loving expression of brothers and sisters coming together for some greatness, because God we do some greatness in this city and throughout this country. I love Minister Farrakhan and I went to the Million Man March and I’m 62 years old. God is about love,” said Keith Williams, chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party.

“This is a great time to have the event here because the people in Detroit have suffered a lot, they have gone through a lot of ups and downs, where people have had money and where Detroit has had a down turn where people have struggled,” said Eric Sabree, Wayne County treasurer.

“I think that there are very strong people here, very resilient people, and with the Million Man March and Atonement, we have to look at ourselves with the Million Man March anniversary. It will help us look at ourselves and see how we can strengthen ourselves and take control of our community like we should,” he added.

One of the original organizers of the march 23 years ago also attended the meeting, Reverend Joann Watson. “This was magnificent, what an outpouring of love and respect and investment in our collective future. What a wonderful way to honor the Minister’s coming. We love Minister Farrakhan. We love him and honor him and thank him for choosing this location one more time, one more time,” she said.

She and others helped organize men in Detroit to attend the march. “I did not go, we helped brothers go, we sent our money off and packed lunches for them. I continue to meet with a group of men that formed a Million Man Alumni on the bus ride back home from D.C. I meet with them every Thursday, we are the ones organizing Black business bus tours. Many of the things the men planned to happen has happened. The Million Man spirit is alive,” said Rev. Watson.

Members of the NOI Executive Council at Detroit community leadership meeting, including: Front row l-r; Leonard F. Muhammad, Imam Sultan R. Muhammad, Student Minister Dr. Ava Muhammad, Student Minister Ishmael R. Muhammad, Attorney Abdul Arif Muhammad. Second row l-r; Student National Secretary Berve Muhammad, Student National MGT Captain Sandy Muhammad, MGT Captain Emeritus A’ishah Muhammad, Student Protocol Director Thomas Muhammad, Student Minister Dr. Wesley Muhammad.

Many other Muslim leaders were present at the town hall and very pleased with the announcement. Imam Mikail Stewart Saadiq stated, “This is a wonderful gathering, and I’m grateful to Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Executive Committee for bringing all these leaders together from different faiths, people that care about the condition of Black people, and the City of Detroit.”

Imam Saadiq added the event will bring a good spirit into the city. The Million Man March was transformative, he explained. “It did a lot for me as a young person even though I wasn’t able to attend because of exams, I was very young at the time, and I still feel the effects on my person and also my direction towards becoming an imam and loving Islam, and my people.”

Pastor Paul Fudge who opened the meeting in prayer said he was honored to be a part of the leadership and community town hall.

“It is something that our city needs; it’s something that we as men need, the women need. We just need this unity. Detroit is in position now where there is a lot of gun violence, killings, our own Blacks killing each other, and we need a healing now,” said Pastor Fudge.

“I believe that Minister Farrakhan is anointed by God, and yes I’m a Christian and he is Muslim but I still believe he is anointed by God, and it is just his time to come here and give us a message of hope and it is just what we need and I’m looking forward to it. There was just so much power in this meeting tonight. I was just sitting there absorbing it, and now it is time for this power that has come together to now manifest!” (Final Call staff contributed to this report.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

From The Final Call Newspaper

‘Serving God’s Purpose’ - A message of hope and guidance to spiritual leaders

By Starla Muhammad and Tariqah Shakir-Muhammad

The Hon. Minister Louis Farrakhan

Rev. T.L. Barrett

CHICAGO—The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan inspires, uplifts, educates and warns regardless of where he speaks or who is in the audience. For over 60 years the Muslim leader has dedicated his life to spreading the teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad in the U.S. and abroad. His ability to delve into and mine from scripture—both Bible and Holy Qur’an—that which benefits the masses of Black and oppressed people resonates with Muslims, Christians, Hebrews and even those that claim no religion.

Despite a continuous onslaught of negative rhetoric and unfounded and baseless propaganda spewed by his enemies, Min. Farrakhan continues to be welcomed by those who admire, love and respect him.

The Minister recently delivered a powerful and enlightening message to an ecumenical gathering of clergy and laypersons during the monthly Pastor’s Prayer Breakfast sponsored by the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC) in Chicago. The Sept. 22 gathering was held at the Life Center Church of God in Christ pastored by the Rev. T.L. Barrett.

He told the crowd prior to the Minister’s address that people should treat each other as if they are in the presence of God. It’s God who exhaled in man and man who inhaled, said Rev. Barrett. In introducing his brother in struggle, Rev. Barrett said he always admired the humility demonstrated by Min. Farrakhan which was exemplified as he watched the 85-year-old sit disciplined and respectful during the near-nine-hour funeral service of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin weeks earlier in Detroit. “When I entered the sanctuary, I saw all of the luminaries on the platform; Bishop T.D. Jakes, Rev. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Bill Clinton and the most dynamic brother on the planet, Min. Louis Farrakhan,” said Rev. Barrett as the audience erupted with applause.

During the funeral service for the music legend, Min. Farrakhan was seated predominantly on the dais but did not speak nor was he formally acknowledged by the bishop of the church where the funeral was held. This drew anger and concern expressed by thousands—many who were non-Muslims—who took to social media platforms expressing disappointment that Min. Farrakhan did not speak.

“I was not the least bit disturbed in Detroit, I smiled for nine hours because those who saw the worst in them, I really saw the best in them so I was not bothered by an apparent disrespect because my brother bishop, he embraced me on that rostrum and ushered me to that seat and hugged me and we shared love between us. But somehow, sometimes as men of God, not mature yet in the mind and spirit of God, we fear men as we ought to fear God. So in not wanting to hurt the feelings of others he didn’t mind trying to hurt mine. But you can’t hurt me,” said Min. Farrakhan.

The greatest symbol of love

Jesus was the most magnificent of all the prophets because he was the embodiment and personification of love, Min. Farrakhan explained. “In Jesus, the Messiah, is the in-dwelling mind and spirit of him who originated the heavens and the earth,” he said.

When you know Jesus and are one who has surrendered your will to do God’s will, you are not disturbed by the ignorance of those you have been commissioned to serve, Min. Farrakhan added.

He spoke of the responsibility of the church to spiritually resurrect the Black man and woman through giving Blacks a thorough knowledge of self.

“I am not offended by my people because I know who they are,” said Min. Farrakhan.

“Jesus was never offended by the people whom he was sent to save. He knew their condition and he knew who put them in that condition. So the scripture says he came to save his people from what? Sin. So why would he be bothered from their sins if he came to save them from their sins?” asked the Minister. “Because he looked beyond their sins and knew who they were, so he wasn’t talking to the sin, he was talking to the hidden presence of God that resides in his people.”

Jesus came to resurrect his people from the dead state that they were in, the Minister explained. “He had the mind and spirit to look beyond their faults to address their needs.”

In the book of Genesis in the Bible, where it describes the beginning of creation being “void” meaning having no shape or form. To be void, means having no validity, it is null, ineffective, useless and worthless in the beginning, the Minister explained.

“He (Moses) wasn’t talking about the earth in its original creation, he’s talking about a people in need of liberation who had been made void by the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade who had been brought to nothing—not valid, not legally binding; useless, worthless. Worthless because they didn’t have a connection to heaven and that’s why they were void.”

You and I as Black people are a destroyed people, he continued.

“You’re not respected by those who move things in this world. You’re like the dust of the earth. Dust is matter that has no purpose. It is only God that can take nothing and make something out of nothing, give it form and give it expression and then breathe into it and make it able to serve his purpose.”

Jesus connected disease and being ineffective with sin which is a good connection. Anytime we are victims of sin we are bound, not left free, because the spirit, energy and gift of God is limited by the sin of the sinner which is what Jesus came to free us from, the Minister explained.

Jesus came to free us not from the physical bounds of slavery but from the slavery of material things and our low desires, he continued.

“When Satan wants to get to you, he’s like a snake and wants to know where you’re coming from, what do you desire and then in your desire he tricks you. All of you have desires. All of us have things that we want, and Satan is boss in his world,” said Min. Farrakhan. Satan is trying to show himself as God in various areas of influence, Min. Farrakhan explained. But Satan’s offers always come with “conditions.” Min. Farrakhan challenged those that are charged with teaching and preaching the word of God to be steadfast and preach it in its true form.

“Most gospel preachers preach what the master says is right. The government says ‘Roe vs. Wade,’ a woman has a legal right to an abortion—legal, but God didn’t give you the right to kill the fruit of your womb. He gave you the right to reject whoever wants access to your womb.”

“Your wombs, sisters, are sacred because that’s the workshop of God,” he continued. “The prophets are created, the wise men, the sages, the scientists—everything that you want is answered through your prayers through the womb of a woman.”

Feeding from a ‘student of the word’

Throughout his message, Min. Farrakhan frequently related scripture from the Bible and Holy Qur’an as examples pastors, student ministers and members of the church and mosque should follow.

“We’re fashioning a brand that excludes religious intolerance,” Rev. Barrett, a longtime friend and companion of Min. Farrakhan, told The Final Call. He believes the Minister’s presence at the church was a perfect example of unity between different faiths.

“We’re fashioning a brand that includes all faiths, all religions because we’re God’s children so how we choose to express our love and relationships with God, we feel it must be respected by all brands of religion.”

Sharon Clark told The Final Call that she enjoyed and was inspired by the Minister’s words. “His entire message was moving, bringing us back to order. Us as women, bringing us back into the household (and) understanding the trick of the enemy and helping us to bring our men back up so we can take control of our children again,” she said.

Her husband, Rev. Cornelius C. Clark, agreed wholeheartedly. “He has such a command of scripture, both the Qur’an and Bible. It’s obvious he’s a student of the word so I’m fascinated as a preacher to hear one of the most intelligent Black men at the top of the list,” he stated.

“Whenever the Minister speaks, it is absolutely phenomenal,” said Rev. Clark, who dedicated and sang two songs to Min. Farrakhan prior to his message.

Hazel Brazelton, an elder member of the Life Center C.O.G.I.C., said she always enjoys hearing the Minister. “I love how he speaks. I listen to him on YouTube all the time. … He touches on everything that I need to hear. That feeds my soul,” she said with a smile. “He touched in on a lot of bases such as basically respecting the woman and a woman giving respect to a king, a man (and) a man bringing something to the table.”

Beronsha Johnson was happy to receive an invitation to the breakfast event. He said he listened to the Minister while serving a 21-year sentence in prison and was moved by his lectures.

“It’s a lot of things you can gain from this and I think he’s a great person. The way he presented himself, how could you deny a person who doesn’t lie, steal, cheat, fornicate? It’s a lot more things I’m pretty sure I could learn so I will be back for more,” he said.

Shortly before the end of the program Min. Farrakhan was presented with a gift basket of fruit and sparkling grape juice to represent the “fruit and nectar of the gods” and a certificate of appreciation for his 60-plus years of service in the Black community.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

From The Final Call Newspaper

Hell, high water and a struggle to survive
By Brian E. Muhammad - Staff Writer |

COLUMBIA, S.C.—The destruction of land, property and the interruption and loss of life came with what meteorologists characterized as the “storm of a lifetime” and worst hurricane in recent years.

But, placed in the social context of history and the southern states it touched, some asked if the onslaught of Hurricane Florence was divine judgement against America.

The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, patriarch of the Nation of Islam, cautioned God is angry about America’s long and bloody history of injustice, persecution and oppression. In his pivotal book, “The Fall of America” published in 1973, Mr. Muhammad wrote God will deploy rain, hail, snow and earthquakes to chastise and break the power of America.

“We see them now covering all sides of America, as the Holy Qur’an prophesies curtailing on all her sides. And these judgments would push the people into the center of the country, and there they would realize that it is Allah (God) Who is bringing them and their country to a naught,” wrote Mr. Muhammad.

He said God will use the snow and ice as a weapon in a day of war against the wicked. “All up and down the coast to the Carolinas, the rain takes up where the snow leaves off,” Mr. Muhammad wrote.

All around the southern border of America, storms raged. There were tornadoes and heavy rains and more storms were on the way—one right after another.

Virginia, Georgia, North and South Carolina have a long history of mistreating Black people.

In recent times, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, Mr. Muhammad’s national representative, has echoed the warnings, to watch weather God has weaponized.

Hurricane Florence did a menacing slow dance across the Atlantic Ocean, taking its time before making landfall at Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina. It wreaked havoc on other coastal towns in North Carolina and that was only the beginning.

Florence’s winds weakened as it drew closer to land, dropping from a peak of 140 mph before downgrading to a Category 1 hurricane from a terrifying Category 4. It was later downgraded to a tropical storm but it still punished the Carolinas and other parts of the East Coast.

National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear said in a video briefing North Carolina would see the equivalent of up to eight months of rain in a two to three-day period. Several lives were reported lost in the days to come.

By Final Call press time, Accuweather reported at least 22 people died, including a mother and infant killed after a massive tree split their home in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Toppled trees land in the yard and on a home in Wilmington, N.C., after Hurricane Florence made landfall, Sept. 14. Photo: AP Photo/Chuck Burton

The National Weather Service said remnants of the storm will hit the Northeast and mountain regions of southern Virginia could also see flooding potentially experience mud and landslides from Florence’s heavy rains.

“Remnants of Florence will be pushed towards the Northeast where areas from Northern Pennsylvania through central New York towards Boston could pick up some heavy rain,” said CNN Meteorologist Michael Guy.

In the days leading up to Florence making its way to the U.S. coastline, state of emergency and mandatory evacuation orders were issued by the governors of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina with nearby Georgia closely monitoring the storm.

More than a half a million people were estimated to have evacuated, while others opted to “ride it out.”

Myrtle Beach resident Monique Burgess decided to leave for Orlando, Fla., where she has a brother.

“It was a last minute decision. I typically do not evacuate,” Ms. Burgess told The Final Call.

She left with her 72-year-old mother and two teenaged sons. Like many people who live along the coastline, hurricanes are nothing new for her.

Conway, S.C. educator and high school coach Michael Hopkins, 58, preferred to stay. “We are hunkered down right here,” Mr. Hopkins said. He remembered going through Hurricane Hugo in 1989 when he evacuated to Columbia which was hit harder by that storm.

“I’m trusting and believing … opening the house up to anybody who don’t have anywhere to go or don’t feel safe at their dwelling,” he added. The coach said his family has a generator and food, but also “understands this is God’s will too.”

Hurricanes are not new in these areas, but the patterns and magnitude of Florence were erratic. Government and public safety officials weren’t taking anything for granted. They began mobilizing quickly ahead of the disaster.

Common advice to residents was “prepare for the worst and hope for the best” and officials implemented special state of emergency rules.

While forces were being marshaled in effected states for Florence, a magnitude 2.6 earthquake struck McCormick S.C. on Sept. 13 near the border with Georgia, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The agency said it was the fifth this year. The largest earthquake in the area was a magnitude 5.1 in 1916. Moderately damaging earthquakes strike the Carolinas inland every few decades, and smaller earthquakes are felt about once each year.

As Hurricane Florence slowed to a crawl meteorologist said that meant a life-threatening storm surge and excessive rainfall over a wider area for a longer period of time.

In North Carolina, live video of bending trees, flooded streets and homes with people who decided to wait it out were seen on weather networks.

Hundreds of calls inundated the North Carolina Emergency Management Agency requesting rescues of people trapped with water levels rising in their homes. Thousands were in the dark as electric power went out.

Other images showed an American flag withered and torn, appearing to be overcome by the high winds of Florence.

Although state and local city officials in the affected states united to address the advancing storm, President Donald Trump chose the timing of Hurricane Florence to politicize and deny official death toll figures from last year’s Hurricane Maria that crippled Puerto Rico.

Mr. Trump has been embroiled in controversy over federal handling of the disaster that initially reported 64 deaths, which later rose to 3,000 fatalities.

With Hurricane Florence President Trump declared a major disaster in North Carolina and South Carolina and approved Federal aid for the states. FEMA, the-Federal Emergency Management Agency website said the money supplements recovery efforts in the affected areas.

Federal funding is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures, FEMA said.

A Sept. 11 Bloomberg.com article predicted Hurricane Florence will be among the top ten costliest disasters on record, costing an estimated $27 billion in damages when done. 

Tony Thompson looks at damage at his mobile home, Sept. 16, in Newport, N.C., following Hurricane Florence. Thompson lost his home and most of his possessions. Thompson says he feels lucky to be alive. Photo: Robert Willett/The News & Observer via AP

But, estimated insured losses were lower, ranging from $3 billion to $5 billion, according to CoreLogic a data and analytics company. Goldman Sachs, a Wall Street bank, said they could go as high as $10 billion to $20 billion, reported USA Today.

Statistics from the National Hurricane Center showed among United States hurricanes, Katrina at $160 billion was the costliest storm on record followed by Hurricane Harvey ($125 billion), Hurricane Maria ($90 billion), Hurricane Sandy ($70.2 billion) and Hurricane Irma ($50 billion).

In 2017 alone, there were a total of 16 “billion-dollar” weather events in the U.S., costing a cumulative $306.2 billion, breaking the previous record of $214.8 billion in 2005, said Bloomberg.

Serious questions arose about the fate of thousands of inmates at prisons in mandatory evacuation zones.

Media reports began circulating about South Carolina not relocating inmates to facilities in safer areas despite Governor Henry McMaster telling the press Sept. 11, “we’re not going to gamble with the lives of the people of South Carolina. Not a one.”

The State Newspaper said South Carolina Department of Corrections Spokesperson Dexter Lee admitted inmates would not be moved. “Right now, we’re not in the process of moving inmates,” Mr. Lee said. “In the past, it’s been safer to leave them there.”

Newsweek reported Virginia evacuated 1,000 inmates from one facility and elected to keep inmates in place at other jails, ordering additional food and medicine.

By early evening Sept. 14, the day the storm struck, 650,000 people were without power in North Carolina and tens of thousands were without electricity in South Carolina.

This is part of the challenge states face in emergency situations, said experts. Many people are not prepared when disasters come.

“You have to have a plan,” said Shahid El-Shabazz, owner of S2 Consulting Services.

In disaster emergencies, people must understand how much they are on their own and have knowledge of how federal and state agencies operate, he said.

“There are not enough emergency response or public safety personnel to save everyone,” Mr. Shabazz said. “If you don’t prepare for yourself, for your family, for your loved ones, not everyone is going to be saved.”

Mr. Shabazz has been in the fields of law enforcement, security, emergency management and emergency preparedness for 30 years. “You have to have a plan,” and practice it before an emergency happens, he stressed.

Yusef Muhammad, former president of the International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters, agreed. Knowledge is paramount to handling and surviving disasters, he said. “You have to be aware before you can prepare,” he added.

Yusef Muhammad suggested four steps: Get informed. Develop a plan. Prepare an emergency kit or go bag in case you have to evacuate. Reassess your plan over time and make sure your survival kit is up to date.

“It has a way of bringing people from all walks of life together, because we all want to live, to survive,” observed Yusef Muhammad.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

From The Final Call Newspaper

A bizarre tale: An unexplained cop shooting of Black man killed in his home brings tears, fears and questions

By Jihad Hassan Muhammad -Contributing Writer-

Botham Shem Jean

DALLAS—Botham Shem Jean could not have imaged that his last night on earth would be a Thursday night in the comfort of his own home in the Cedars neighborhood—where people walk dogs, enjoy nearby restaurants, and view the latest films at a new cinema.

He certainly could not have guessed his life would be taken by a Dallas police officer, who had no business in his home. Her gunfire should have been reserved for protecting and serving, and keeping a neighborhood safe from rogue criminals.

Botham, a native of the Caribbean nation of St. Lucia, was no such person. The 26-year-old professional worked at PricewaterhouseCooper. A religious man of God, he would often lead songs with joy at his church. He mentored young people.

Why did he lay in a pool of blood and why did a 30-year-old White police officer, Amber Guyger, kill him? Her claims and the official account is as bizarre as the death is tragic. Police say Off. Guyger worked a 15-hour shift, got off duty and returned to the Southside Flats apartments in the Cedars neighborhood. She lived on the floor below Botham. Still in uniform, she went to the door of his apartment, on the wrong floor, and with its distinctive red door mat. She claims she mistook Botham’s apartment for her own Sept. 6, entered, and shot the Black male inside in the chest. He later died at a nearby hospital.

Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, charged in fatal shooting of unarmed neighbor Botham Shem Jean.Police say Off. Guyger worked a 15- hour shift, got off duty and returned to the Southside Flats apartments in the Cedars neighborhood. She lived on the floor below Botham. Still in uniform, she went to the door of his apartment, on the wrong floor, and with its distinctive red door mat. She claims she mistook Botham’s apartment for her own Sept. 6, entered, and shot the Black male inside in the chest. He later died at a nearby hospital.

Community activists, members of the press, and others are already raising questions about a possible police cover-up. The changing narratives about what happened that night and unanswered simple questions from the family and their attorneys are causing concern. “What happened that night?” is the question posed over and over again to Dallas District Attorney Faith Johnson, a Black woman and a Republican.

The earliest reports, on Friday morning Sept. 7, said Off. Guyger put her key in the door of the wrong apartment on the wrong floor and it did not work. Botham answered, saw the uniformed officer, and moments later he was shot dead, police said.

The story has changed: Now the media is parroting the official police account that Off. Guyger entered the apartment with the wrong key, with the door unlocked. She saw Botham in the shadows and opened fire, thinking he was a burglar. Despite online rumors, Botham’s family and different investigating agencies say Off. Guyger did not know him.

Blood was taken from the officer to ascertain if she was impaired due to controlled substances or alcohol at the time of the shooting. Test results have not been released.

“The way Botham was killed is astonishing to most sensible people not only in America but around the world, since Botham was from the island of St. Lucia. It is now an international incident, with the world watching to see if his family will receive justice like the officer would have if the situation was reversed. Black people in America have been killed by police in some of the most unbelievable manners,” said Benjamin L. Crump, one of the Jean family attorneys and a leading lawyer in cases where Blacks have been shot and killed by police officers or gun-toting Whites. He was brought to public notice for his handling of cases like the 2012 shooting of teens Trayvon Martin in Florida and Mike Brown, in 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.

Dallas-based lawyer S. Lee Merritt represents the Jean family as well. Every time the family has visited the district attorney, they leave with the simplest questions unanswered, he said.

As she addressed the press Sept. 7, Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall described the killing as “a very unique situation” that had more questions than answers. Chief Hall, in that same press conference, initially declared that a warrant for the charge of manslaughter was in the works. She added that the investigation of the shooting had been handed over to the Texas Rangers in an effort at transparency, and to have an independent entity examine the case.

Allison Jean, left, the mother of Botham Jean who was shot and killed by Dallas police officer Amber Guyger in his apartment on Sept. 7, stands with Botham’s brother Brandt, second from left, and sister, Allisa Charles-Findley, along with attorneys Benjamin Crump, second from right, and Lee Merritt, right, during a news conference, Sept. 10, in Dallas to give comments about the officer that was arrested.

The Texas Rangers have jurisdiction throughout the state to investigate potential crimes and police shootings. After interviewing Off. Guyer, the Rangers, with the cooperation of the district attorney’s office, decided not to issue an arrest warrant, according to the police chief, who is a Black woman. No arrest was made. Off. Guyger was free until Sunday evening, Sept. 9, when she was arrested and charged with manslaughter. She was released on $300,000 bond.

Many in the Black community here, others throughout Dallas, across the United States, and on the island of St. Lucia, aren’t happy. People say they are angry over the lack of answers and three days of preferential treatment given to Off. Guyger. Botham came to America and graduated from Harding University in 2016.

“You or I would be arrested if we went to the wrong apartment and blew a hole through a person’s chest killing them,” said Atty. Crump.

Allison Jean, Botham’s mother and her family, arrived in Dallas over the Sept. 7 weekend. She spoke of her son’s love for humanity at a Sunday church service. “He was my pride and my joy. There are times you feel like giving up, I could not give up because of Botham,” said his grieving mother.

Atty. Merritt has been vocal, calling out a double standard that favors police officers. They do not get charged when committing crimes any regular citizen would be prosecuted for, he noted. Off. Guyger, though off-duty, was in uniform when she killed Botham. “If there is probable cause that a crime has been committed in this jurisdiction, it is incumbent upon the district attorney’s office to issue an arrest for the officer involved,” said Atty. Merritt.

The family was angry no immediate arrest happened, appearing to show a double standard in the favor of law enforcement, without anyone providing an explanation, Atty. Merritt added. Botham’s senseless death is another tragic killing of an unarmed Black man at the hands of those sworn to serve and protect the public, he said.

Blacks in Dallas are growing tired of gross injustice, police violence and plan to organize for justice, said activists.

Yafeuh Balogun, a community organizer and member of the grass roots collective Guerrilla Mainframe, said the manslaughter charge is not enough. “We will focus to get the charges upped from manslaughter to murder. Chief Hall and the Dallas District Attorney’s office have fumbled and showed a lack of transparency and clarity with the case. This shows the community a lack of accountability,” he said. “So our focus is to pressure Republican D.A. Faith Johnson, whose campaign slogan was ironically justice not politics.”

Days before Botham’s killing, Roy Oliver, a former police officer from the Dallas suburb of Balch Springs, Texas, was convicted of murdering 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. Now Dallas again watches events unfold after a White officer killed an unarmed Black man, who was an upstanding citizen.

“We expect Chief Hall to fire this officer immediately,” said Collette Flanagan, who founded Mothers Against Police Brutality (MAPB) in 2013 after her son, unarmed 25-year-old Clinton Allen, was fatally shot seven times by a Dallas officer. “Regardless of how the case is ultimately decided in court, this officer has forfeited any right to serve on the Dallas police force.”

“The official version of events in the shooting death of Botham Jean is all over the map,” said Sara Mokuria, co-founder of MAPB, whose father, Tesfaie Mokuria, was killed by Dallas officers in 1993. “The, ‘I-was-in-the-wrong apartment’ version lacks all credibility. And the mayor’s ‘let’s-all-come-together-moment’ is so tone deaf and false that it can only be taken as a cynical attempt to spin a murder,” she said.

“Suppose it was the other way around, and Mr. Jean had fatally shot Guyger after ‘mistakenly’ entering her apartment. Do you think for a minute he would have been granted bail, sent home on paid leave?” asked Ms. Flanagan.

Alshaheed Muhammad, Dallas Representative of Nation of Islam, said the killing of Blacks in Texas is nothing new. “The Honorable Minister Farrakhan has told us over and over again that the civility of this civilization is being peeled back like an onion. In the upcoming weeks, the world will see exactly what we’re dealing with in Dallas, Texas. I believe Almighty God Allah is showing us that separation is our only solution and the most intelligent option to our situation,” he said.

The Texas Rangers and the district attorney’s office are still investigating the case. Their findings will be presented to a grand jury, which will decide whether Off. Guyger faces a trial. Dallas County District Attorney Johnson reminded the press Sept. 9 that the grand jury could indict Off. Guyger, or not—or the grand jury could indict her on a charge other than manslaughter.

The Jeans are a well-respected family on the island of St. Lucia. Prime Minister Allan Chastanet came to be with the family in Dallas. “Allison did an incredible job of raising her son. We all in St. Lucia are extremely proud of Botham and what he represented and how he represented St. Lucia,” said the prime minister.

“As I look as his (Botham’s) younger brother Brandt, I think, ‘what will the next generation of people of color’s interaction be with law enforcement and will it end with deadly force?’ ” said Atty. Crump. Why didn’t Off. Guyger use her training as a police officer, why did she use deadly force? the attorney asked. “It made no sense when we first got the news, and it does not make sense today,” he said.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

From The Final Call Newspaper

Farewell to an angel - Aretha Franklin

By Richard B. Muhammad and Brian Muhammad

Aretha Franklin memorial service celebrates culture, commitments of a great, global icon

DETROIT—The Queen of Soul started her life and career in church and she was given a homegoing service in church—and what a service it was.

Thousands turned out for the funeral which capped several days of activities in honor of Aretha Lorraine Franklin. The funeral was held at Greater Grace Temple.

The church sanctuary was a mix of the high and the mighty and the meek and humble. Special invites went to the likes of former President Bill Clinton, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. William Barber, politicians from the city to state to federal levels, movie and television producer Tyler Perry, religious leaders like Rev. T.D. Jakes and even Omarosa Manigault Newman, the former Trump administration aide, was in the sacred space.

The ordinary people of Detroit she loved were in the church as well. The family extended an invite to 1,000 people to attend the service—and set up monitors outside. The service was carried live on several television networks and received substantial coverage on others. Many stood in line overnight to enter the church, which holds about 6,000 people.

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam was among the dignitaries. He sat on the main stage with President Clinton, Rev. Jackson and Rev. Sharpton.

(l-r) Shirley Caesar, Jennifer Hudson, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Cicely Tyson

(l-r) Ronald Isley, Chaka Khan, Judge Greg Mathis, Yolanda Adams

(l-r) Min. Louis Farrakhan, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Min. Farrakhan donated 90,000 free copies of The Final Call newspaper to the city and people of Detroit. It was a special reprint of Final Call coverage on the life and legacy of Aretha Franklin published immediately after her death. In a statement published in the newspaper’s centerfold, Min. Farrakhan said, “Her songs, her soul and her voice did not only reach our ears, but reached our hearts, our souls, and our spirits to lift us above where we were and caused us to survive the horror, the tyranny of our painful existence as ex-slaves, free slaves, Jim Crow sufferers, our souls yearned for relief. She supplied that balm to our pain.

“In 1972, when I was minister in New York City, Temple No. 7, the police attacked our mosque. Within a few hours, Aretha Franklin came to the mosque, to my office, and said that she saw the news and came as quickly as she could to stand with us and offer us her support. … We marveled at her show of courage, fearlessness which was rooted in her profound love for her people and her desire for justice for us.”

Bishop Charles Ellis III of Greater Grace Temple officiated the Aug. 31 service, blending scripture readings, musical performances, tributes and mini-sermons as well as messages from close friends, like Smokey Robinson, and her grandchildren.

(l-r) Isaiah Thomas, Tyler Perry, Pastor Charles Ellis

Grandson of Aretha Franklin speaks at her Aug. 31 funeral as other relatives look on.

Black Twitter, Black radio and Black text messages and conversations noted the Minister was seated on the dais but did not speak. At one point there were 43 pages of comments on the subject taken from the @louisfarrakhan Twitter page.

There was a lot of anger with one caller telling a Detroit area talk show host, the governor of Michigan should have been cut from the program. Detroit pastor Jim Holley, who made remarks, told The Final Call that he would have gladly relinquished his time to have the Minister speak.

But in a Sept. 3 interview with The Final Call, Min. Farrakhan said when his office reached out to Earline Franklin, Aretha Franklin’s sister in law, he only requested to be present at the funeral and did not ask to speak. “I just wanted to be present with the family as one of the mourners. And even though I was invited to speak at the tribute concert, I told them I really didn’t come to do that. Though I was offered the chance to speak I never availed myself of that opportunity,” he said. Six-thousand tickets to the concert Aug. 30 in downtown Chene Park were distributed. He was escorted to a private room where Franklin family members and celebrities welcomed him.

The Minister thought he would be seated behind the family or friends at the funeral. He was seated on the dais. Many pastors, celebrities and well-wishers came to greet and take photos with Min. Farrakhan before and after the funeral. (See editorial pages 16, 17.) Rev. Barber and Rev. Michael Eric Dyson were the only speakers to mention the Minister by name. With his statement in each Final Call newspaper, the Minister said he did not feel the need to speak. He had already shared his sentiments and expressed his love for Ms. Franklin.

While Black Twitter and radio stations exploded with questions about why Min. Farrakhan did not speak, Whites and Jewish leaders, like Atty. Alan Dershowitz, condemned the Minister’s appearance. And, they demanded that Mr. Clinton explain his presence on the same stage as the Minister.

The Final Call blasted “Jewish hatred” and “hate speech” spewed against the Minister. “How dare you,” declared an editorial. “How dare you presume and demand an explanation after all you have done to us and all we have suffered and still suffer at your hands. Even the White politicians who spoke were connected with policies that ill-affected and still ill-affect the lives of Black people. Yet they were given a moment to honor a woman who helped Blacks survive in this hellish nation and who actually contributed to making America better.

“How dare you blame us, the victims of your evil and wicked planning and damnable actions against us, and then slander a man who has devoted 62 years of his life to freeing us from your grip. Your lies and delusions are so deep, White America and powerful Jewish forces, that you spew misinformation, twist truth and would bludgeon into submission anyone who would come near a good man and a movement, the Nation of Islam, devoted to the salvation of Black people. … You are the oppressors and you are the ones that we should be ashamed to be associated with. Your entire history in is written in the blood of the darker peoples of the earth,” said the editorial. (See coverage, photos on pages 16 and 17.)

Greater Grace Temple in Detroit was filled to capacity with dignitaries, entertainers and guests for the homegoing service for Aretha Franklin. The life and legacy of the iconic singer was celebrated during a nine-hour service that featured gospel songs, testimonies and reflections of her life. Ms. Franklin died Aug. 16 and the city of Detroit honored her memory with various public events. Photos: Andrea Muhammad

Honoring Detroit’s favorite diva and a world class artist

Ms. Franklin’s musical accomplishments were acknowledged, but the gratitude was not just for Grammys and other honors but for a voice and spirit that touched hearts. “Her voice brought peace,” observed her granddaughter.

Over her 50-year career, Ms. Franklin came to be regarded as the greatest singer of any style or genre.

Pallbearers carry casket of Ms. Franklin after conclusion of Aug. 31 service.

She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to go with 20 No. 1 R&B hits, 18 Grammys and more than 100 singles on the Billboard charts. In 1987, she became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She was one of the few people known globally by a single name, “Aretha.” In her beloved city of Detroit, she was often called “Re Re” and seen as a member of the family. At age 76, she died Aug. 16 of pancreatic cancer in her home.

Thousands of mourners paid homage to Ms. Franklin at Greater Grace Temple.

Her departure was stylish and substantive—from the gold casket to the changes of clothing during the week’s public visitations. Her arrangements were handled by Swanson Funeral Home, who transported her body in a vintage 1940’s hearse. It was the same hearse that carried her father to his final resting place. She was accompanied by a police escort and a fleet of pink Cadillacs to a Detroit cemetery, another tribute to lyrics from a hit song. Detroiters lined streets to say a final farewell to the Queen.

Testimony to the sheer beauty of her Blackness and connections with her struggling people dominated the service.

And, even in departing this life, Ms. Franklin was pushing the struggle forward. Several speakers called for reconvening the leaders and luminaries assembled to deal with political, social and survival issues Black America faces.

The near nine-hour service was a culmination of formal events that began with Ms. Franklin lying in repose at the Charles H. Wright African-American Museum. Thousands trekked through the museum for two days for the public viewing. Another viewing was held at New Bethel Baptist Church where Ms. Franklin grew up and where her father, reverend and civil rights leader C.L. Franklin, served as pastor.

A proud celebration of Blackness

From Fantasia taking off her shoes on stage before singing to energetic, upbeat gospel songs, praise breaks and anecdotes, it was an international event proudly steeped in, rooted in, bathed in the Black cultural experience.

“She sang in our key and taught the world to hear it,” said Rev. William Barber, whose activism in North Carolina and demands for justice for Blacks, poor and oppressed people, have thrust him into a national spotlight.

No matter when she sang or where she sang, her music provided a divine message and America’s current moral crisis needs the gospel of Aretha, Rev. Barber declared. Her singing made you want to stand up and fight back against narcissistic leaders and declare we will not accept anything less than respect, he added. “Aretha told us respect was non-negotiable,” Rev. Barber continued. He also called for a meeting of leaders and movers and shakers present to discuss 2018 midterm elections and political strategy.

Floral arrangements surrounded Ms. Franklin’s casket at the museum viewing and funeral service. Lines of pink Cadillac’s was a fitting tribute to the Queen of Soul and her hit song, “Freeway of Love.” Photos: Andrea Muhammad

“She remained herself all her life,” observed Rev. Michael Eric Dyson, another son of Detroit and Black intellectual. “She is now the queen of our souls. Long live the queen!”

Aretha refused to sell out; some people sending letters because they don’t want to be here in all this Blackness, declared the author and academic. But, he advised, you need to come, dip your toe in and bathe in it. Like other speakers his words brought applause from the crowd as leaders, activists, celebrities and ordinary Black people were exhorted to continue the struggle.

When Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) was acknowledged from the stage there was applause. She stood, crossing both arms across her chest in the “Wakanda Forever!” salute that became a sign of Black pride through the record and stereotype breaking movie “Black Panther.”

Rev. Dyson’s letter reference appeared aimed at former President Obama, who Ms. Franklin supported. She sang at his first inauguration. The first Black president wasn’t at the spirited homegoing service for an extraordinary woman, freedom fighter and entertainment industry giant.

Judge Greg Mathis, another son of Detroit, shared his final conversation with the Queen. It was about the continued water crisis in Flint, Mich., where water was diverted from Lake Michigan to the polluted Flint River poisoning people. They have stopped giving bottled water to people but have not resolved the crisis and health hazard, he said. He and Ms. Franklin discussed the need to challenge the injustice. When he appeared a little hesitant, having jumped into the fray before, Ms. Franklin had a ready response. “You scared?” she said. “You supposed to be from Detroit!”

“Greg, I want you to go to Flint and sock it to ’em,” she said, according to the former Detroit judge, who now resolves disputes on a popular television show. And, he said, Michigan’s governor spoke here, but “I’m on my way to Flint.”

Calls to continue the struggle

Judge Mathis met Ms. Franklin while working with the Rev. Jesse Jackson. She enjoyed a long and close relationship with the civil rights leader and his organizations.

One of Ms. Franklin’s signature hits was titled, “Respect.” Photo: Monica Morgan

Rev. Jackson implored the crowd to be active voters in tribute to Ms. Franklin. When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. couldn’t make payroll and was vilified and attacked, Aretha and Harry Belafonte went on an 11-city tour, he recalled. They raised and gave money to Dr. King without getting paid and in one venue, tear gas was pumped through the air ducts, he said.

In 1970, Jet Magazine reported that Ms. Franklin stood ready to post Angela Davis’ bond whether $100,000 or $250,000, if allowed by the courts. Ms. Davis, then a 26-year-old former UCLA philosophy instructor and Black Panther Party leader, was being held in New York without bond pending extradition to San Rafael, Calif.

Civil rights advocate Sharpton called on Black America to teach President Trump the meaning of “Respect”—another homage to one of Ms. Franklin’ greatest hits.

Ms. Franklin was a civil rights activist, feminist before feminism, and human rights advocate when none of it was popular, he said. He, like other pastors and common people, thanked Ms. Franklin for her personal generosity, financial support of cause-oriented Black groups and concern for the less fortunate. Most of her work was done without fanfare.

The memorial had a decidedly Detroit flavor, indicative of the city’s great history, but mainstream leaders came to show respect. In addition to Republican Governor Rick Snyder, there was Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and former President Bill Clinton, who said he and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, “started out as Aretha junkies or something,” long before he ascended to the White House.

“She lived with courage, not without fear, but overcoming her fears,” said the president. “She lived with faith, not without failure but in overcoming her failures.” She took this massive talent and “perfect culture that raised her and decided to be the composer of her own life’s song,” he said.

“She called me, the little Black girl from the east side of Detroit, and said she was proud of me,” recalled former suburban mayor Brenda Lawrence, who now serves in the U.S. House of Representatives. Women have to be strong enough to embrace other women, she said. And she and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) are seeking to have the Congressional Medal of Honor bestowed on the woman who inspired her. Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones and Mayor Mike Duggan announced support to rename a major street and downtown park and amphitheater after Aretha. Rev. Jasper Williams delivered a controversial eulogy.

“Her status as a queen, unlike others who inherit, was earned,” said former United States Attorney General Eric Holder in remarks from the pulpit. “God sang through her.”

Entertainment giants laud Aretha

Noted actress Cicely Tyson, writer and director Tyler Perry, talk show host Whoopi Goldberg, and music mogul Clive Davis listened. “God knows we have been blessed,” said Ms. Tyson. “What a triumphant gift that you have given the world that they have been able to experience,” she said to the Franklin family. “Aretha was the sum total of her life’s experience, and she shared that with us through the soul songs she sung.” The award-winning actress completed her remarks with a tribute to Aretha based on a poem by Black poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar.

“I signed her to Arista Records and five years turned into more than three decades,” said Mr. Davis.

“My prayer for you is that God will allow you to grieve in waves and (it) not come crashing on you all at once like a tsunami,” said Mr. Perry in remarks directed to the Franklin family. He recounted losing his mother and developing a friendship with Ms. Franklin. Journalist Roland S. Martin and the entire cast of Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and the Have Nots,” were present as it was Ms. Franklin’s favorite show.

Ariana Grande graced the audience with Aretha’s classic “Natural Woman” and “What a friend we have in Jesus” was sung by country singer Faith Hill. The Clarke Sisters, considered gospel music royalty, sang their mega hit “Is My Living in Vain.” Bishop Marvin Sapp sang “Perfect Peace.” Chaka Khan performed “Going up Yonder” to the delight of the crowd.

Vanessa Bell Armstrong, together with the Williams Brothers, sang Ms. Franklin’s “Precious Memories.” R & B singer Ron Isley, with tears in his eyes, talked about his friendship with Ms. Franklin that went back 60 years. He sang “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” A touching tribute came as her second son, Eddie, sang “Mercy, Mercy Me” in honor of his mother.

This white hearse transported the gold casket of Ms. Franklin to her final resting place. Photo: Andrea Muhammad

Gladys Knight performed, backed up by the Aretha Franklin Concert Choir. Shirley Caesar, another gospel icon, encouraged the family, in song and words. “To be absent from this playhouse is to be in the presence of the Lord. All we can say is keep on, Aretha,” said Ms. Caesar. “God will take care of you.”

Rev. Joanne Watson, a former city councilwoman, said her longtime friend loved her city, her father, the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the reparations movement, and the human rights movement.

Ms. Franklin paid for her own Christmas parties, birthday parties and made sure she was paid in advance, added Rev. Watson. She helped people in Detroit who needed help quietly, feeding people, burying people and supporting leaders and clergy.

“She was the world’s queen, greatness and authenticity of Detroit,” Ms. Watson declared. “She was in class by herself, she will forever be our angel queen,” she said. “She is Queen Mother raised to the ancestral realm. Thank you God for her life.”

Former Detroit Piston and basketball great Isaiah Thomas, a close family friend, helped pay for a free tribute concert as part of commemorations. He described Ms. Franklin as a positive force in a troubled nation.

“When the world was telling us, ‘ain’t no way,’ she found a way to inspire all of us with hope, with love and dreams through her music,” Mr. Thomas said. “Her voice—her soulful instrument—found a way to soothe and deal with its troubled past.”

Motown Records giant Smokey Robinson reminisced about meeting Ms. Franklin at eight-years-old, through her brother Cecil, and hearing her sing as a child. “The world is celebrating you,” Mr. Robinson told his “oldest friend” before singing “My Buddy,” and expressing his love for her.

A delegation representing President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa was among those packed into the Greater Grace Temple sanctuary.

Stevie Wonder told the audience, “The reason we are here today is because of love, how much we loved this woman.” Love is the only thing that can deliver the nation and the world, he continued. “We need to make love great again. Because Black Lives Do Matter,” he said. “Because all lives do matter.”

He closed the service singing the lyrics, “I’ll be loving you always.” The funeral service rose to a crescendo as singer Angie Stone, actress and singer Jennifer Lewis, and two gospel artists, joined in collaboration, blending stirring music before final prayers. Pall bearers carried the gold coffin out of the church for internment in Woodlawn Cemetery, followed by the Franklin family.

Jennifer Hudson sang “Amazing Grace” and Jennifer Holliday performed an emotionally-charged “Climbing Higher Mountains” during the funeral recessional. At the Queen’s request, Ms. Hudson will play Aretha in an upcoming movie.

Long Live the Queen.