Tuesday, May 22, 2018

From The Final Call Newspaper

A region and a world on edge
By Charlene Muhammad -National Correspondent-

Minister Farrakhan warns Muslim world to reject Western interference, seek a way to peace or face war that will destroy the Middle East

Palestinian protesters take part during clashes after protests near the border with Israel in the east of Gaza Strip, May 14. More protests followed in the Palestinian territories on May 15. At least 58 Palestinian protesters were killed and more than 2,000 others were injured at the Gaza-Israeli border during clashes against the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem as well as marking the Nakba Day.

“And hold fast by the covenant of Allah all together and be not disunited. And remember Allah’s favour to you when you were enemies, then He united your hearts so by His favour you became brethren. And you were on the brink of a pit of fire, then He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes clear to you His messages that you may be guided.” —Holy Qu’ran 3:103, Maulana Muhammad Ali translation

On the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and as trouble unfolds in the Middle East, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan delivered a divine message of guidance and warning to the Muslim World as tension and pressure rises in the region.

During the Ramadan Prayer Line, where Islamic scholars and Believers from different schools of Islamic thought tune in at 5 a.m. for daily spiritual messages, sayings from Prophet Muhammad of Arabia, and recitations from the Muslim holy book. Minister Farrakhan opened by expressing his desire that the divine month of fasting and prayer be a blessing to every Muslim on the planet and a blessing to all who observe.

Ramadan is a month of fasting during the daylight hours and special prayers Muslims are commanded to observe each year. It started May 16 in the Chicago area.

Fasting is a divine prescription from Allah for the Believers to guard against evil, but evil is everywhere in the Muslim world, and the clouds of war are gathering over the Holy Land, Minister Farrakhan stated during his near 30 minute message.

Allah is the Master of the Day of Requital, meaning He can punish whom He pleases and show mercy and forgiveness for those whom He pleases, the Minister continued. Many in the world of Islam have earned the chastisement of Allah as Muslims are now killing Muslims at the suggestion of evil ones and to the delight of Western governments, he said.

Mourners carry the body of a Palestinian, who died during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border, at ahospital morgue in the northern Gaza Strip May 14.
During President Donald Trump’s recent visit to the Holy Land, Minister Farrakhan described how the American president pitted Muslims against Muslims, Sunni against Shia, and now there is the Saudi Arabian promise to spend billions of dollars on American weapons. Mr. Trump was feted by the Saudis and spoke to Sunni nations allied with and under the sway of the monarchy against the Islamic republic of Iran and Shia nations.

Israeli border police officer pulls a sign from a Palestinian protestor outside the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem May 14. Israeli soldiers shot and killed dozens of Palestinians during mass protests along the Gaza border. It was the deadliest day there since a devastating 2014 cross-border war and cast a shadow over Israel's festive inauguration of the new U.S. Embassy in contested Jerusalem.

Now Muslim nations are at odds with nations, said Minister Farrakhan, who was also scheduled to speak at Mosque Maryam, the Nation of Islam headquarters in Chicago, on Sunday, May 27, 2018.

“How can it be a blessed Ramadan with Muslim nations buying weapons from America; training their weapons on fellow Muslims? Muslims in such disagreement with one another that nations are splitting apart from nations and the guns are turning toward Iran and Iran is preparing to fight back?” asked Min. Farrakhan.

“Is this a blessed Ramadan, with blood being shed in the Holy Land over Jerusalem?” he asked. Ramadan is supposed to be a time of great spiritual focus and development, where arguing and fighting is prohibited and Muslims celebrate the revelation of the Holy Qur’an, the Islamic book of scripture.

“Is this a blessed Ramadan when the Muslim world felt the pain of the Palestinians under the tyranny of the Israeli Zionists, but now many of the Muslims have turned away from the suffering of the Palestinians and now their guns are trained at each other?” the Minister continued.

He was referring to the latest deadly violence that broke out in the Gaza Strip, on the Gaza-Israeli border. Thousands of Palestinian protestors gathered near the border March 30 for the “March of Return,” which marked the beginning of a Hamas-led six-week demonstration calling for a return to homes lost 70 years ago during the war connected to Israel’s creation.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Jared Kushner and U.S. President Donald Trump are seen during their meeting at the King David hotel in Jerusalem.

But not only are the Palestinians denied a return to their land. Bloody and deadly encounters erupted this year as Zionists fired live ammunition on those who protested and tried to break though the fence. Gaza has suffered under an Israeli blockade. Israel, according to the Associated Press, said the blockade is needed to prevent Hamas, which opposes Israel, from building up its military capabilities. But the blockade keeps food, medicine and necessities out of the area.

People knew there would be a lot of demonstrations, but those killed were just protesting injustice, argued John Parker, who is a candidate for Senate in California on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket and anti-war activist.

“Just for that, they’re being assassinated and killed, a death sentence for protesting injustice and that’s what Israel is doing,” he said.

The killings occur with U.S. weapons, from Apache helicopters, to depleted uranium bombs to the billions of dollars that America gives to Israel’s military, Mr. Parker stated.

“Israel couldn’t exist and couldn’t be killing children like they’re doing now without the complicity of the United States, so it’s not only Israel that’s committing this genocide. It’s the United States as well,” Mr. Parker told The Final Call.

Israeli gunfire has killed more than 110 Palestinians and wounded hundreds more since the protests began on March 30. On May 14, 59 people were killed in the deadliest day of cross-border violence since a 2014 war between Israel and Hamas. Some 1,300 others were wounded by live fire, the Associated Press said.

(L to R): Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner at the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, May 14.

But, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said May 18 that Israel had not tried to limit casualties during the border protests. According to Mr. al-Hussein, more than 12,000 people were injured and at least 3,500 were hit with live ammunition.

“This is just a continuation of those genocidal policies, and I think they—the Israeli government and (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu—feel more empowered because of Trump,” added Mr. Parker.

Mr. Parker participated in Los Angeles’ May 14 national “Day of Rage,” meant to raise awareness about the suffering of Palestinians.

Last December, President Trump announced a unilateral decision to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. On May 14, two days before the start of Ramadan and as the Gaza protests were underway, the United States and Israel celebrated moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, sparking additional outrage and violent protests.

No president of a Western country ever dared to do that, observed Minister Farrakhan. President Trump also beckoned England, France, and other nations to move their capitals as well, though wise politicians of the past knew that would disturb and anger the Muslim World, he said. Jerusalem has been long designated an international city with claims to it lodged by the Zionists and Palestinians, and its final status was to be part of a final negotiated peace settlement.

John Parker, candidate for the U.S. Senate on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket, speaks at the May 14 “Day of Rage” protest in Los Angeles against the same day shootings by Israeli snipers of Palestinian demonstrators in the Gaza Strip.

‘When they moved that embassy to Jerusalem, it negated all of the so-called peace efforts by the U.S. imperialist presidents before. They were not very sincere measures in the first place, but this really was a big slap in the face to anyone wanting peace and justice.’
John Parker, Socialist candidate for the U.S. Senate on the Peace and Freedom Party

“When they moved that embassy to Jerusalem, it negated all of the so-called peace efforts by the U.S. imperialist presidents before. They were not very sincere measures in the first place, but this really was a big slap in the face to anyone wanting peace and justice,” Mr. Parker said.

Minister Farrakhan pointed out how Saudi Arabia is displeased with the Palestinians, saying they should have accepted a U.S.-Israeli peace plan, but the plan was “rightly rejected.” Saudi Arabia is a major U.S. ally in the region and is seen as a counterweight to the power and influence of Iran, its regional rival. According to media reports, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Palestinians should either accept peace proposals or stop complaining.

“I said it years ago, Israel has not had any peace at that time in 40 years and now it’s going near 70 years. Israel has not had any peace,” said Min. Farrakhan. “Israel will never know peace, as long as there is injustice and lying and thievery and murder and using the holy name of Allah to shield dirty practices, unclean practices, false promises.”

A special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on May 18 ended with a resolution by member states to investigate weeks of violence on the Israeli border with Gaza. Member states adopted the resolution by 29 votes for, two against and 14 abstentions.

“Palestinians have exactly the same human rights as Israelis do. They have the same rights to live safely in their homes, in freedom, with adequate and essential services and opportunities,” said Mr. al-Hussein. Palestinians are “in essence, caged in a toxic slum from birth to death; deprived of dignity; de-humanized by the Israeli authorities to such a point it appears officials do not even consider that these men and women have a right, as well as every reason, to protest,” he said.

Los Angeles was the site of May 14 protests in reaction to Palestinian deaths by Israeli snipers in Gaza.

Israel responded to the special session at the Human Rights Council, saying the meeting was evidence of a politically-motivated “anti-Israeli obsession.”

Minister Farrakhan asked rhetorically: Will the Muslim World be angry at what President Trump and America have done? “Imagine the ambassador to the United Nations saying that Israel has a right to protect her borders. Israel has a right to protect her stolen property? Israel has a right to take that which was granted to her through politics and not from Allah? Do you think that you will stay there?” he asked.

There will be plenty of bloodshed in the Middle East, Minister Farrakhan warned, citing a warning from his teacher, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, patriarch of the Nation of Islam. America will have to come out of the Middle East and if not careful, the cost will be tremendous bloodshed, the Minister warned.

Believe it or let it alone, Minister Farrakhan warned further: “Our world of Islam is in serious trouble, and if we don’t stop and take stock of ourselves and turn back to Allah with sincere repentance, the Middle East will be bathed in blood and that blood will come all the way up to Mecca and the Holy House!”

He also warned Muslim nations to heed guidance coming out of the Nation of Islam, saying the Great Mahdi, the prophetic self-guided one the Islamic world is expecting, has made his appearance in North America and deposited wisdom in the Hon. Elijah Muhammad. The Minister urged Muslims to follow the wisdom his teacher has offered and guidance he is sharing, saying his motivation was neither vanity nor ego. He urged the clashing Islamic leaders to sit down and hash out their problems based on the guidance of the Holy Qur’an.

Minister Farrakhan called on Believers to pray for the Muslim world. Without fail, study the Qu’ran every day, gird up their loins, and let this Ramadan be a noble one, he said.

“I was, as all of us, very informed and inspired by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s message, but honestly, it was no new message, because we’ve been at this point before,” said Imam Amin Nathari, founder of the Islam in America Movement.

He recalled that during last year’s message during Eid festival to close out Ramadan, Minister Farrakhan spoke about the reality of war looming in the Muslim world. Minister Farrakhan has been constantly warning as he has served as the Nation’s representative in the absence of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Imam Nathari emphasized.

A look at the history of Ramadan historically will show that some of the most contentious battles fought in the history of Islam were waged during Ramadan, he said.

“For us, we’re not in a full-fledged war where we’re going into our mosques with people in front with tanks, but we know we’re engaged in another kind of war against our open enemy,” said the Islamic scholar and author.

“For us, our war, our jihad, is the struggle to just do what Allah has commanded us to do and there’s no better time to be reminded of our responsibilities to that struggle than during the month of Ramadan,” he told The Final Call.

He feels the Muslim world is a cautionary tale for Muslims in the West to not be divided. “As the (Quranic) verse tells us, ‘We were on the brink of a pit of fire, and then Allah saved us from it.’ That’s one of the cornerstone verses in the Qu’ran that talks about the unity of the Muslims,” Imam Nathari said.

“We can never overstate the importance and value of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, particularly in this hour that we live in,” he added.

One of the beautiful things about Minister Farrakhan is that he’s un-bought, un-bossed, and un-compromised, so he doesn’t have to take a politically correct position, said the imam.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

From The Final Call Newspaper

Jay-Z and the SEC: Should We Be Worried?


Jay-Z performs at President Barack Obama’s rally in Columbus Ohio, November 2012. 

Jay-Z, hip hop artist and entrepreneur, has drawn the attention, and, perhaps, the ire of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for his refusal to cooperate in a probe launched by the agency into the financial reporting of licensing and brand management company Iconix Brand Group.

After months of legal wrangling, including two subpoenas sent to Jay-Z, aka Shawn Carter, seeking his testimony in the SEC investigation, the hip-hop mogul and social activist was finally ordered by Manhattan U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe to answer questions at an undisclosed location on May 15 at Final Call press time.

Jay-Z is the latest in a string of Black male entertainers who have received negative attention in the media. However, being asked to participate in a federal investigation involving a company he no longer owns has raised fears of something more sinister.

Jay-Z also supported more open U.S. policies toward Cuba, supported the movement for police accountability and bailed out protestors, championed criminal justice reform and raised the specter of ugly racism in American life.

He has diversified and expanded a business empire from music to clothing to investments to innovative ways to make more money for artists.

He once owned a piece of the NBA Brooklyn Nets basketball franchise and helped bring the lucrative franchise and a stadium to the borough. He also owned a portion of the arena he sold for over $1 million. Part of his empire includes sports management. One of his clients is NBA superstar Kevin Durant. The rapper, in his latest album 4:44, spoke openly about astute Jewish businessmen and the way they do business, prompting a rebuke from the Anti-Defamation League.

Jay-Z performing at O2 Wireless Festival in London, January 2008 “Hova” has come a long way from rapping about riches, partying and the hazards of everyday urban life. His net worth is estimated at $810 million by Forbes magazine in 2018. 

The children of Sean Bell, shot to death by New York police officers in 2006, will benefit from an educational fund Jay-Z set up. The night before his bachelor party, Mr. Bell and two friends were shot at 51 times by police officers. The three detectives doing the shooting were acquitted by a New York judge.

“Hova” has come a long way from rapping about riches, partying and the hazards of everyday urban life. His net worth is estimated at $810 million by Forbes magazine in 2018.

Jay-Z is also involved in a lawsuit with now bankrupt movie and TV production company Weinstein Company over unpaid pilot fees from two projects in the amount of $480,000. The dispute, and other legal woes, is holding up sale of the company. Jay-Z says the Weinstein Co. owes him for pilot fees for the “Kalief Browder Project,” and a “Trayvon Martin Project.” Kalief Browder is a young Black man who committed suicide after traumatic imprisonment and Black teenager Trayvon Martin’s death at the hands of neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman electrified the country. The production company in question was founded by prominent Jewish movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

Then there are accusations from a Norwegian newspaper that Tidal faked numbers for plays of Kanye West’s album “The Life of Pablo” and wife Beyonce’s album Lemonade to pump up its numbers for exclusive releases. Tidal, a music streaming service, was purchased by Jay-Z and other artists in 2015, promising more money for artists, better quality audio and artist exclusives. The company vehemently denied the charges of wrongdoing.

Could the questions be pushback from Jay-Z’s economic prowess, social stances, observations about Jewish power and general uneasiness with Black ownership and economic success?

From the bombing of Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Okla., in 1921, to the Rosewood massacre 1923 in Levy County, Fla., or the 1950s urban removal of the Hayti Community in Durham, N.C., Black independence, self-reliance and economic power have always been seen as a threat.

“This is White superiority and White supremacy, but in a different age and executed in a more sophisticated, boardroom kind of way,” Dr. George Fraser, noted author, and chairman and CEO FraserNet Inc., told The Final Call. “Jay-Z understands that ideas are wonderful, but systems are better. He bought Tidal; that’s a system for the distribution of music which is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Black people can create rap music all we want, but we don’t control the system that generates the distribution and profiteering of rap music. Jay-Z understands how that works.”

Jay-Z’s music has tackled political subjects in recent years as has his personal life with calls for criminal justice reform, opening up U.S. relations with Cuba and the hip hop mogul and his wife were big supporters of Barack Obama early in his presidency. Jay-Z’s album 4:44, released in 2017, won widespread acclaim for its content, including “The Story of O.J.,” and an animated short that told of the story of the Black struggle in America, urged rappers to invest wisely and Blacks to seek economic empowerment. It was released as an exclusive on his Tidal platform. The album was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), with one million copies purchased by Sprint and offered to consumers as free downloads. It debuted high, number one, on the U.S. Billboard 200. It received a Grammy Award nomination for Album of the Year and “The Story of O.J.” was nominated for Record of the Year at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.

“As a Black person, you have to be aware that there is a constant war being waged and you have a target on your back. So you have to make sure that everything you do is clean and on point,” hip-hop journalist and activist David “Davey D” Cook, observed. “For somebody who has an album talking about wealth, being a billionaire, and putting money towards different social movements, he’s going to get extra scrutiny and they’re going to find a way to take away some of that wealth as a way to eliminate the competition. Jay-Z has been allowed to make all of the money he has and now that he’s become a little more political, it’s really important that all his ducks be in a row.”

In 2007 Iconix purchased Rocawear, the clothing company co-founded with former business partner Damon Dash for $204 million. As part of the deal, according to the SEC, the hip-hop mogul maintained a partnership with Iconix as it related to the Rocawear brand. In March 2016, Iconix devalued Rocawear by $169 million and in March of this year, wrote it down again by $34 million. The SEC is investigating Iconix to make sure things are legit, especially given the company plans to change its financial reports for 2013, 2014 and 2015.

And, the SEC, claims Rocawear is central in the losses Iconix reported in 2015 and 2017.

“The SEC’s application states that the Commission seeks Carter’s testimony to inquire about, among other things, Carter’s joint ventures with Iconix,” the agency stated as its reason for speaking with Jay-Z, who has failed to appear for investigative testimony twice. However, several companies that Jay-Z owned have submitted approximately 11,000 pages of financial-related communications with Iconix and Desiree Perez, chief operating officer of Roc Nation and S. Carter Enterprises, met with the SEC for seven hours and provided testimony.

Alex Spiro, a partner at the New York-based law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan, is representing Mr. Carter in this matter. He argued the SEC’s insistence on having his client testify is nothing more than what he called a “celebrity hunt.”

“The SEC continues to insist on meeting Mr. Carter in person for an unlimited period of time. The upshot imposes unreasonable burdens on Mr. Carter and raises serious questions about whether this exercise has transcended any investigative purpose and crossed over into a celebrity hunt,” Mr. Spiro wrote in legal memorandum, also stating that his client had no involvement in any of Iconix’ financial reporting.

Toure Muhammad noted the multiple ways in which Whites have worked to stifle Black enterprise and business ownership. “If you look at this from the perspective of being an attack on Black businesses and business owners, here’s a brother who put out a very profound album 4:44, and in it he basically said study the Jews,” said the Chicago-based businessman and founder of Chicago Eats. “I don’t know if he heard ‘Business is Warfare,’ the lecture the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan gave a few years ago, but Jay-Z highlighted how business really is warfare. And by mentioning the Jews, we know how they can be very opposed to having the spotlight put on them like that.”

“We know from how they came after George Johnson when he agreed to help the Nation of Islam and Minister Farrakhan manufacture the POWER (People Organized and Working for Economic Rebirth) products at Johnson Products many years ago. We saw what happened with Prince when he wrote ‘Slave’ on his face, Reginald Lewis, the first Black billionaire, or with Carol’s Daughter,” Mr. Muhammad explained. “They’re either going to try to buy us out, take the company or the brand, and sometimes, we die under mysterious circumstances. But we have enough historical evidence to rightly wonder if this is another targeted attack on a successful Black businessman.”

Jay-Z’s meeting with the SEC is expected to last no longer than the day as he prepares to embark on another U.S. tour with his wife, Beyonce. It remains to be seen what part his testimony will play in the SEC’s investigation into Iconix, but count Jay-Z as just the latest Black celebrity and businessman to have his legal woes play out in public for the world to see.

“I’m smart enough to know that White folks will be White folks at the end of the day. This is what they’re going to do because it’s about the protection of their assets,” Mr. Fraser said. “And if those assets are diminished in any way and they can point to some high profile, successful brother or sister to lay the blame on, then that’s what they’re going to do. That’s what they do and it’s always been that way and it will always be that way until we replace them when it comes to power, systems and infrastructure.”

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

From The Final Call Newspaper

Meek Mill Freed

By Charlene Muhammad -National Correspondent

The Re-Education of Meek Mill - A rapper’s plight highlights power of judges and broken probation system touching millions

Philly rapper Meek Mill, Robert Rihmeek Williams, is out of prison.

But he says he doesn’t feel free, though out on bail while he appeals decade-old gun and drug convictions. He goes back to court in June.

Meek Mill has seen a massive show of support from fans, powerful, prominent political figures, including Philadelphia’s mayor and the governor of Pennsylvania, celebrities, even prosecutors have complained about an out of control legal system.

The “Dreams and Nightmares” lyricist represented by rap mogul Jay-Z’s Roc Nation says now that he’s out of prison, a lot of people who face similar battles with the criminal justice system are depending on him.

“I’d like to thank God, my family, and all my public advocates for their love, support and encouragement during this difficult time. While the past five months have been a nightmare, the prayers, visits, calls, letters and rallies have helped me stay positive,” tweeted Meek Mill, who faced a hard childhood. His father was gunned down when the rapper was age five.

After being whisked by helicopter from prison with Philadelphia 76er’s co-owner Michael Rubin, Meek Mill rang a replica Liberty Bell April 24 at center court of the NBA team’s first-round clinching playoff game less than two hours after his release.

He was let go after the state Supreme Court directed Judge Genece Brinkley, who had jailed him, to immediately issue an order letting him out.

Meek Mill was sentenced on November 6, 2017 to two to four years behind bars for probation violations. He had been arrested last year after a fight, and then after popping a motorcycle wheelie while filming a music video, according to his lawyer. The charges from the fight were dropped and those from the wheelie incident were dismissed. Judge Brinkley, however, ignored recommendations from the prosecutor and his probation officer that he be freed.

The ruling came after prosecutors said they agreed with his lawyers that he should get a new trial because of questions about the arresting officer in his case. A now-retired officer, Reginald Graham, was among a list of police officers the prosecutor’s office sought to keep off the witness stand in cases across the city because of credibility questions.

Mr. Graham, the sole witness in Meek Mill’s initial case, testified that he saw the young man sell crack cocaine, pull a gun from his waistband, and point it at cops as they tried to arrest him, according to media reports. In a sworn affidavit, former cop Jerold Gibson said Mr. Graham lied under oath to get Meek Mill sent away on drug and gun charges in 2008. He was 19 years old.

The rapper’s lawyers are seeking to have the conviction thrown out and a new trial.

The district attorney’s office has not said whether they would seek to retry him if the old convictions are thrown out.

But prosecutors have declined to prosecute three defendants in other cases because of doubts about the credibility of arresting narcotics agent Graham, the same officer who had arrested Meek Mill. Over 100 convictions could be overturned because of questions about narcotics agent Graham.

Questions about a judge and probation violations

Judge Brinkley, who had refused to release Meek Mill on bail until the Supreme Court ruling, was accused by the defense of waging a vendetta against the rapper.

She contends she acted “impartially and without prejudice” in all proceedings since 2008. She sentenced him to five months in jail in 2008 and then probation. But over the years, probation violations resulted in additional time being added to his terms of probation.

The violations over the years included traveling out of town to perform without permission, failing a drug test, failing to come to court and failing to meet with his probation officer.

By last year, after nine years of probation, many felt Meek Mill was on the right path and should be released.

His lawyers also complained that the judge, who at one point ordered Meek Mill to take etiquette classes, was too personally involved in his case. They accused her of asking the rapper to remake the Boyz II Men song “On Bended Knee” and shout her out. And, the lawyers accused the judge of asking the rapper to sign with a friend and leave Roc Nation.

It has been reported that the FBI is looking into the judge’s handling of the case.

A new focus, fight for talented rapper?

Meanwhile, Meek Mill said he plans to focus on getting his convictions overturned, and that he looks forward to resuming his music career.

“Although I’m blessed to have the resources to fight this unjust situation, I understand that many people of color across the country don’t have that luxury and I plan to use my platform to shine a light on those issues,” he tweeted April 24.

“I’m very happy to see that the brother has been released and that he can come back into the world and recontribute the best of himself,” said ZaZa Ali, educator, author, and radio host based in Atlanta. She wrote Meek Mill when he was in jail.

“One of the things I said to him was you have a great responsibility with your music,” Ms. Ali said. “But even before he went to jail, he was talking about Lean. He was talking about drugs, and the negative impact that they had on him. He was speaking out about racism, White supremacy, so, we’ve got to give him credit for the emphasis that he’s putting into becoming a better person.”

Lean, or “purple drank,” is prescription cough syrup combined with codeine, soft drinks and candy.

Meek Mill can become a symbol for justice reform by making his word bond and using his platform to address mass incarceration, commented Gregory Muhammad, who is based in Philadelphia and leads the Nation of Islam Prison Reform Ministries in the Delaware Valley Region.

There needs to be independent monitoring of judges’ court sessions by outside agencies to capture abuses, said Mr. Muhammad. “During the election season, citizens or voters don’t acknowledge the enormous power judges and district attorneys possess, so, the voters take these two elections lightly,” he said. “The people themselves can prevent this abuse of power or abuse of discretion of judges by voting for a more honest and morally conscious judge.”

Millions on parole, probation in U.S.

According to the Prison Policy Initiative, 4.5 million people in the U.S. are on probation and parole. Its researchers say Meek Mill’s case has brought attention to how people are recycled back into prisons and jails.

“The Pennsylvania Community Corrections Story,” one of two reports published in April, shed light on the system that “stalked” Meek Mill for close to a decade.

“Unfortunately, Pennsylvania serves as a good example of how high rates of probation and parole can go hand-in-hand with, and contribute to, high incarceration rates. Pennsylvania has the highest incarceration rate in the Northeast, coupled with the third highest percentage of its citizens on probation and parole in the country,” wrote Columbia Professor Vincent Schiraldi, who authored the report.

While one out of every 53 adults is supervised by probation and parole nationally, in Pennsylvania, one out of every 34 adults is under community supervision, a rate 36 percent higher than the national average.

What Ms. Ali found most disturbing about Meek Mill’s case is that a Black woman was at the helm. It’s important to have Black elected officials, but they don’t matter if they’re doing the bidding of Whites in continuing the degradation and incarceration of Black men, she insisted.

“We could say she’s (Judge Brinkley) infatuated with this man. She’s obsessed with him, or she’s taking orders from someone higher up. The bottom line is that she has been the focal point and the face for limiting this brother’s process and then eventually imprisoning him,” Ms. Ali stated.

As for those who say no need to focus on Meek Mill because of his money and celebrity, “shame on us as a people,” Ms. Ali lamented. Celebrity is a double-edged sword, sometimes they get too much credit, and at others they don’t get enough, she explained.

“In the most simplest idea of this, Meek Mill is still a man. He’s a Black man. He made mistakes when he was young, and he’s still paying for mistakes he made when he was young, paying way too heavy of a price,” Ms. Ali argued.

“I think that as the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad talks about, ‘The Proper Handling of People,’ that applies to celebrities as well, and we need to re-cultivate our empathy and compassion for one another whether it’s a celebrity or whether it’s not.”

Davey D, hip-hop activist, journalist and radio personality, noted many people are juxtaposing Meek Mill with political prisoners. The argument is being made about freeing the rapper, and no one’s talking about freeing political prisoners like Mumia Abu-Jamal and other folks, he said.

“First, we should never forget our political prisoners, but part of the reason we even have political prisoners is because they were fighting the injustices that visited a Meek Mill,” Davey D told The Final Call.

“In other words,” he said, “a lot of our political prisoners were there because of the criminal ‘injustice’ system. And so we should not bemoan, be upset or be surprised when people want to fight the criminal system when it’s relatable to them.”

Meek Mill is relatable to his fans, who may not know of former Black Panther Mumia Abu Jamal, while advocates for the longtime political prisoner and others know nothing about the rapper, said Davey D.

“It’s not an either/or, but it’s a both/and as organizers and communicators, it’s up to us to connect the dots,” Davey D said. “Instead of just focusing on this as an individual act, frame the conversation as something that’s systemic.”

“Meek Mill is part of a long line of people who have been put in jail, and keep in mind, there’s a bunch of people who have family members who ain’t rappers or former Black Panthers who are going, ‘to hell with Meek Mill and to hell with Mumia,’” Davey D noted.

Activists, organizers and communicators must probe the judge’s actions, her power, the oversight or lack thereof, and see how to deal with those who abuse power and make changes so everyone can benefit, he said.

It’s good that Meek Mill wants to help folks and bring attention to the atrocious injustices of the system, but don’t expect him to do the heavy lifting or expect to see overnight sea change, Davey D cautioned.

“But heck, if Mill can do a song, concert, shout out one or two political prisoners and bring attention to their plight, I think that’s great … and it’s something we should angle for,” Davey D stated.

Also, look at the record labels, what role did they play, and do not let them off the hook, Davey D continued. What are they doing for artists, and what resources are they devoting on behalf of Meek Mill, did they write letters on his behalf, and do they have training for artists on how to walk the straight and narrow? he asked.

“Are they waiting to capitalize off of Meek Mill coming out of jail primarily because the community rallied, so we can go Meek Mill straight out of jail, and they have a marketing tool for records to be sold?” Davey D continued.

“My thing is f--k them labels if they didn’t pick up a dime to help … since they make profit coming and going. They make profit off of Mill when he was talking about doing criminal stuff, and they’re going to make profit off of Mill when he actually serves time for criminal stuff and actually gets out of jail in a highly publicized case.”

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

From The Final Call Newspaper

Tears for Brandy - 'Women must be protected and elevated'

By Charlene Muhammad -National Correspondent

What's your opinion on this article?

A grieving mother and community want answers and justice for young New York woman brutally murdered and whose body was dismembered

Brandy Odom (R) Mother of Brandy Odom, Nicole Odom, in white head covering speaks to media about the New York Police Department and her daughter. Nation of Islam student Minister Abdul Hafeez Muhammad, in black hat and coat, and Borough President Eric Adams, in blue cap, supported the grieving mother and family at the vigil.

The mother of a young Black woman whose body parts were found sprawled across a Brooklyn, N.Y., park is still in shock over the chilling way her child was murdered. And, she is calling on the New York Police Department for more answers and to step up its effort to find a vicious murderer.

Brandy Odom’s killer cut off her limbs.

A woman walking her dog in early April found the 26-year-old’s head and torso in one area of Canarsie Park. Police found her arms and legs in other parts of the park.

“I want to find the person or persons who committed this brutal crime, and I just want the world to know that nobody deserves this, what happened to my daughter,” Nicole Odom told The Final Call in an exclusive phone interview on April 19. She believes her daughter may have known the killer, because she kept a close circle of friends. She had no boyfriend, Ms. Odom said.

“If you’ve seen something, know somebody who’s got anything to do with this, just come forward so justice can be served,” Ms. Odom asked.

The last time she saw her daughter was late March. They celebrated news of Brandy’s school safety job acceptance letter. “She thanked me. I loved her. And, that was the last time I seen her,” Ms. Odom said of her middle child who was so “bubbly.”

The ordeal has rocked their family and community, she said. Her children are her heart, Brandy in particular, because she was a premature baby. She almost lost her twice. Now her other two daughters, ages 28 and 21, are afraid to go outside, the mother said.

“She was independent for herself. It just seemed like whatever she accomplished, it just wasn’t enough. She always kept herself in school, always trying to get some type of certificate, degree. Everybody loved her,” Ms. Odom stated.

“For somebody to play God out there right now and take her from me has been devastating,” lamented Ms. Odom. She lost their father to an aneurism when Brandy was five years old.

The Seaview section of Canarsie is a beautiful community with tree lined blocks, synagogues, churches, schools and homes whose residents are mostly middle to upper middle class. Pastor Gil Monrose, director of the Faith Based and Clergy Initiative said that the community was shocked and overwhelmed by the crime. “We must keep the pressure on until there is justice for Brandy and whoever done this is caught and brought to justice,” said Pastor Monrose.

Funeral services for Brandy were scheduled for April 26 at Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Brooklyn, 12 noon to 2 p.m. Viewing of the remains was scheduled for 10 a.m. to 12 noon.

According to the mother, Brandy lived in an apartment in Queens, N.Y., and had a 28-year-old roommate. The young woman reached out with condolences once through a FaceTime video call, but the family never heard from her again, Ms. Odom stated. “We asked her how she found out, because we hadn’t released the name yet, so how did she know to call and give condolences?”

According to Ms. Odom, when she said she’d like to retrieve her daughter’s things from the apartment, the roommate was really shaky, then hung up all of a sudden. The young woman didn’t tell them anything, such as the last time she saw Brandy, Ms. Odom stated.

“She was supposed to call back with direct instructions how to get there. She never called back. … All this happened while we were in the precinct. The cops witnessed this take place. They told us don’t try to find her. Don’t go near her,” Ms. Odom said. She said NYPD was supposed to go question the roommate, but she doesn’t know if they did because no one has told her anything.

She refuted reports that her daughter was reported missing, and said Brandy wasn’t the type to run away. “She wasn’t the type of kid that didn’t have love. She had all these things, but I just don’t understand why somebody would wanna do her like this,” Ms. Odom continued.

She has received some backlash for bluntly saying she does not feel the New York Police Dept. was doing enough, but stuck to her position.

“This is what you get paid for. Go out there and do your job. Because as far as I’m concerned, I don’t think y’all doing a good enough job, in my eyes,” Ms. Odom said.

Ms. Odom said she still hasn’t received any leads or pertinent information and investigators have not been in contact with her. She feels she received the run-around from the start, when she tried to identify her daughter’s body after hearing a news reporter say a dismembered body found in Canarsie Park had “Chocolate” tattooed above the breast.

“I’ve been told nothing. Every little bits and pieces that I’m hearing, I’m hearing it off the media. The cops have not came and told me nothing,” Ms. Odom said.

Phil Walzak, deputy commissioner for public information, told The Final Call in an email: “The NYPD is aggressively investigating this case and is fully committed to bringing the perpetrator of this awful crime to justice. This is the same commitment the NYPD brings in service to every New Yorker.”

Abdul Hafeez Muhammad, Eastern Region Representative for the Nation of Islam and student minister of Muhammad Mosque No. 7 in New York, joined Ms. Odom, her family and Mr. Adams at the vigil.‘Everybody should be treated equal. Every case should be treated equal. I don’t think one case should deserve more attention than the other case. These are human beings out here that lost their life.’
—Ms. Nicole Odom

The NYPD also told The Final Call that “upon arrival, responding officers discovered an unconscious and unresponsive female in a wooded area near a pathway. EMS also responded to the scene and pronounced her deceased. The Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death and the investigation is ongoing.” No update was available at Final Call press time.

The Final Call received the above statements, some verifications, and no response to some requests after calling and emailing the NYPD numerous times for facts in the case, updates, and requesting a phone interview, which has not been granted. A person in the NYPD’s press office said there was no press release, but that NYPD had been sending out information about the case to major news outlets.

Mr. Walzak’s reply came after this writer asked NYPD for a direct response to Ms. Odom’s concern about a lack of attention and her belief that the NYPD investigation has been sloppy.

“Everybody should be treated equal. Every case should be treated equal. I don’t think one case should deserve more attention than the other case. These are human beings out here that lost their life,” Ms. Odom said.

Brooklyn Borough president Eric Adams told The Final Call, a chief, a lieutenant and four detectives are working the case per information shared during an NYPD briefing. He feels NYPD isn’t releasing any information because of the sensitivity of the investigation. It takes a while before everything is flushed out, said the former police officer.

“We’re not going to allow this to go away and become a cold case,” Mr. Adams vowed. The police role is important to solving the case, but the community has a role in reporting what was seen, he added. Mr. Adams held an April 12 prayer vigil with the family and community. Brandy’s remains were found April 9.

Mr. Adams said his Brooklyn community is a long way from when it was having 2,000 homicides a year. In 2017, there were about 178 or 179 homicides, he said. “But each homicide is impactful, and so when you have one where the person’s body is dismembered and torn apart like that, it really escalates and makes the matter even more painful and horrific.

“It is very hurtful and is going to impact this community for a long time. I don’t think anyone will be able to walk past that location without reliving the trauma that happened.”

Brandy’s demise so struck him that Mr. Adams put up personal reward money for anyone with information leading to solving the case. NYPD is offering a $10,000 reward and Mr. Adams contributed another $1,000. “I have sisters, and it’s clear that the person who did this is an animal in behavior and an animal in thinking. So as long as this person remains on the street, none of our family members, particularly the women in our households, are safe, so it’s imperative that we bring this person to justice,” he said.

“To do this and dump her body as though she was an animal or something, really I found, it touched me in a real way. As a former police officer, I have responded to many crimes and some of them were more gruesome than others, but this is at the top of the list.”

The case brought to mind what happened to Chanel Petro-Nixon, he said. She was found in a garbage bag in the Crown Heights section of New York, according to Mr. Adams. The killer, who was found in the Caribbean Islands, went free for years until he killed again. “The mere fact that case was not solved immediately gave him an opportunity to kill again,” said Mr. Adams.

Abdul Hafeez Muhammad, Eastern Region Representative for the Nation of Islam and student minister of Muhammad Mosque No. 7 in New York, joined Ms. Odom, her family and Mr. Adams at the vigil.

It was important to join the borough president and bring the weight of his influence, on behalf of Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam in New York to the tragedy. The heinous killing was not given the kind of attention given when Karina Vetrano, a young White girl, was assaulted and murdered on the jogging trail in Howard Beach in August 2016.

At the vigil, Min. Muhammad spoke with the media and family, and asked for prayers for Brandy’s soul, for continued comfort for her mother, friends, family and all the young girls at the vigil.

“We even gave them a message, personally, away from the cameras, from Minister Farrakhan about the value of the woman, and how they must protect themselves and screen people that come into your lives today,” Min. Muhammad said. “This is not a time like any other time. These are very strange times for women, and women must be protected and elevated.”

The Nation of Islam and Mr. Adams called on NYPD to go after solving the case. “And what we could see now is that they are doing that. They said that they will not rest until the killer or killers are brought to justice, so we appreciate that kind of spirit. But we wanted to bring our presence to make sure that that was going to happen,” Min. Muhammad continued. That same request was made to city and state officials, he added.

With a lack of national media attention about the case, Min. Muhammad, like many, caught wind of the killing on social media.

Nayaba Arinde, an activist and editor of the Amsterdam News, said her suspicions arose due to the heinous and complicated nature of what happened to Brandy, dismembering the body and how it was disposed of. That’s not something that typically happens in the Black community, she said.

Unfortunately, the editor for the historic Black weekly newspaper, is a bit used to the deafening silence around Brandy Odom’s murder.

“This is not something new to our community. What I always say to the folks is that we need the Black Press, the extended media, to get the full story and the correct story because the mainstream media, it might not fit their agenda. They may not be bothered, and the writers in the newsroom may not be Black or conscious or not have the power to go and get some story like this. So I don’t always expect the mainstream media to cover our story because they don’t,” she declared.

Ms. Arinde told The Final Call she expects Blacks to do what they can, and brace for things to get worse. “You have an individual in office who’s set a tone when you see the way people talk to women, Black women in particular, and it looks like they’ve lost their mind,” she stated. She was referring to President Donald Trump who has insulted and verbally attacked Black women.

“There’s always been an attitude toward Black women, because we are such a force, and an assault on a Black female would go unnoticed because they don’t care, but we should care and we must care and we do care,” Ms. Arinde said.

She recalled 21-year-old college student Romona Moore, who was killed two months after she went missing from Brooklyn in April 2003. An anonymous caller tipped her mother to an abandoned house where two men were arrested. They were convicted in March 2006 of kidnapping, rape, torture and 1st degree murder.

“The mother told the cops and the cops said ‘well, she’s just a runaway’ … (the mother) said she’s not,” Ms. Arinde said. “It’s stuff like that. If they’d have been on it immediately, she might still be alive.”

When the mainstream does care, Ms. Arinde asks, “What’s your angle?”

“Let’s not be shocked, because while we’re sitting there being shocked, they’re doing it again. People are looking for that positive, good, redeeming factor, and it’s probably not there. It’s time to go by history,” she said. “Why is that not national news? Why is Brandy not national news? Somebody murdered her. Chopped her up, and had a chance to put her body all over the park! Who does that?”

(Daleel Muhammad reported from New York)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

From The Final Call Newspaper

World War III in slow motion?

By Askia Muhammad -Senior Editor-

What's your opinion on this article?

President Donald Trump takes a moment before taking the stage during a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., May 28, 2017. (R) Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is surrounded by soldiers of Syrian army as he visits a front line area in Damascus’ Eastern Ghouta area, Syria, March 18.

WASHINGTON—United States military forces, joined by the United Kingdom and France, launched hundreds of military strikes against Syria, ostensibly to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad, for his alleged use of chemical weapons, a year after a similar attack last year. President Donald J. Trump quickly declared via Twitter: “Mission Accomplished.”

World War III is “happening in slow motion,” George Galloway, a former member of the British Parliament said on his Mother of All Talk Shows. “It appears we have a political leadership that’s in quite a hurry to get to Armageddon,” said Mr. Galloway.

Many observers contend that the alleged April 7 chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians either did not happen, or was a “false flag” operation by forces made to appear to be loyal to the Syrian government, while in fact their intention was to justify U.S. air strikes against the Damascus government.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reinforced his government’s narrative that Moscow had “irrefutable evidence that this was another staged event, and that the secret services of a certain state that is now at the forefront of a Russophobic campaign was involved in this.” He did not identify the state. The Russians said there was a UK-funded Syrian medical group called the “White Helmets” which faked the April 7 attack in Douma with the help of the British government.

He claimed Britain told the White Helmets, who work as first responders in rebel areas, to fake the alleged attack. He released statements purportedly from medics at Douma’s hospital who said a group of people with video cameras entered the hospital, shouting that it had been affected by chemical weapons. The medics said no patients had been affected by chemicals.

“It is not entirely clear that there was an attack,” Republican Virginia State Senator Richard Black said in a speech on the Virginia Senate floor April 11. “There was a doctor, from the hospital—from the main hospital in Douma—who has said, ‘We haven’t received any casualties. Nobody has been sent in.’ The U.S. has decided that regardless of whether there was an actual chemical weapons attack, ‘we are going to attack Syria and, escalate our war in Syria.’ ”

Some Russian officials also questioned whether or not any chemical attack even took place, as did U.S. journalist Mike Cernovich. “Magic gas that only kills women and children. And also disables all cell networks so that no one is able to post any videos from the ground,” Mr. Cernovich rhetorically asked his 400,000-plus Twitter followers.

“If President Trump attacks Syria under a false flag operation, if Mr. Trump goes the way he is presently going, it would be like taking a gun and putting it to his head and to the head of America, and to the head of the Western world,” the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said April 13, during an interview with Freedom FM 106.5, St. Kitts and Nevis. “The Western world will not survive this war. So, once the war is started, the end of this present world has arrived.”

“President Trump’s decision to strike Syrian forces was impulsive, dangerous and a clear violation of domestic and international law,” Jon Rainwater, executive director of 61-year-old Peace Action said in a statement. “This attack endangers U.S. forces in the region, and invites escalation from Russia, Iran and Syria.

“Syrian civilians need humanitarian aid to alleviate the suffering and desperation caused by years of war. Syrians need refuge in safer countries, refuge that Trump has refused them. Syria needs sustained, multilateral diplomacy to end the war and achieve a lasting political solution. Above all, Syria needs peace, and missiles have never brought peace.”

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis and Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, brief reporters on the current U.S. airstrikes on Syria during a joint news conference at the Pentagon, April 13.

The April 13 attack is like a return to the “Bad Old Days” of “gunboat diplomacy,” according to Brian Becker of the International ANSWER Coalition. “Gunboat diplomacy refers to that 50-year period in the 19th century where the British government imposed a reign of terror on their colonial Chinese subjects by having British gunboats, threaten and bomb and kill people,” Mr. Becker told The Final Call.

“Gunboat diplomacy is back in full swing with England, the United States, successive U.S. governments. The indications that we have so far of the air strikes we have in Syria is that they are illegal. They lack UN Security Council authorization. They lack U.S. Congressional authorization. They were thus an act of aggression.

“They were a violation of international law. They were in fact a war crime. The U.S. is trying to send a message to the Syrian people: ‘Don’t you dare believe that you can become the masters of your own destiny. We, the American government will use limitless violence to make you succumb to our desires.’ ”

“Syrian civilians need answers, provided through an independent investigation, about who attacked them with chemical weapons, and how those parties will be held to account for their crimes,” said Mr. Rainwater.

“Sadly, we’ve grown accustomed to a president with little regard for the law, and to a Congress with little interest in enforcing it,” he continued. “President Trump had no legal authority to attack Syria, and President Obama’s legal justification for sending U.S. soldiers to Syria was dubious at best. But Congress’ failure to reassert its war powers has rendered it useless in preventing illegal wars.

“Members of Congress must speak out and work to reassert congressional war powers in order to reverse this fundamental erosion of our democracy and alter the course of an increasingly reckless foreign policy emanating from the White House,” said Mr. Rainwater.

President Donald J. Trump swears in James Mattis as the 26th secretary of defense during a ceremony in the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 27, 2017.

This “slow motion” aggression is taking a toll, said Mr. Galloway. “Just like the slow motion beginning to the first World War, which led to the slaughter of millions of people including many hundreds of thousands of our own people. And from which Britain never recovered and we will not recover from this war.”

“Nothing conceivable could be more dangerous than the moment we are now in,” said Mr. Galloway. Indeed, he continued, Mr. Trump’s “declaration of war” on Syria is “more grave than the Cuban missile crisis.”

“President Trump has no legal authority for broadening the war in Syria. It is Congress, not the president, who determines whether our country goes to war, and Congress must not abdicate that responsibility,” states Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during the public conversation leading up to the attack.

“This is a tremendously dangerous situation that we have right now, precisely because of the fact that the administration’s strategy seems to only be driven by events, not by any strategic thinking, not by any type of a consideration of what lies in the U.S.’s national interest, combined with the fact that he has no diplomatic component whatsoever,” Trita Parsi, founder of the National Iranian American Council told “Democracy Now!” “And particularly when you put it in the context that this could actually put the United States in direct confrontation with Russia, then we truly see the tremendous risk for escalation that exists here.”

A formation of U.S. Navy F-18E Super Hornet aircraft leaves after receiving fuel from an Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft over northern Iraq after conducting air strikes in Syria, Sept. 23, 2014.

“The media may not like most of what (Mr. Trump) does on a daily basis at home, but they sure like it when he acts presidential and throws missiles at a faraway country about which he knows little,” Mehdi Hassan reported for The Intercept.

“By the way, a lot of the media coverage also suggests that Trump gets worked up about chemical weapons because he sees pictures of kids choking on gas on his Twitter timeline—which is complete and utter horseshit,” she continued.

“The idea that Trump gives a damn about Syrians is perhaps the most offensive and ridiculous idea of all. This is a man who bans Syrian refugees, including children, from coming to the U.S.—that’s how much he cares about them. Trump and his people are constantly comparing refugees to animals.”

“I think however, that this attack by the United States, while it was illegal and immoral, will fail to impose the kind of domination over Syria,” said Mr. Becker. “The Syrian people are a proud people, a strong people, and in fact they are completely committed, as part of the anti-colonial project to overcome the horrible legacy of French colonialism, British colonialism, American neo-colonialism and they, not the Americans, will be the masters of their own destiny.”

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

From The Final Call Newspaper

A demand for justice as a hurting family, and community seek to regroup, rebuild

By Charlene Muhammad -National Correspondent- |

What's your opinion on this article?

Stevante Clark, the brother of police shooting victim, Stephon Clark, talks to the media after his brother's funeral, March 29, in Sacramento, Calif. Stephon Clark, who was unarmed, was shot and killed by Sacramento police officers, March 18.

Stephon Clark’s family is struggling to cope amid threats received by his grandmother, Sequita Thompson, and as his family has called for a federal investigation and increased numbers of Black officers in the city of Sacramento, California.

Stephon Clark

“Grandma got a letter to the house that was saying some negative things about Stephon, and said that she felt threatened,” family attorney Benjamin Crump told The Final Call in a telephone interview April 6.

“She received a hate threat, ‘Ya’ll need to shut up. Ya’ll know he was this. Ya’ll know he was that,’ ” the attorney stated. These threats aren’t taken lightly and the letter was sent to the FBI, he said.

The Fruit of Islam, men of the Nation of Islam, have been securing the family, said Atty. Crump. Stephon Clark was shot to death in March by Sacramento police officers reportedly responding to a call of car vandalism. Two officers, one Black and the other White, shot the young father of two to death in his grandmother’s backyard. The police version of what happened has changed. Initially the story was Stephon had a bar of some kind in his hand and then the story was police thought he had a gun. Only a cell phone was found at the scene of his death from multiple gunshot wounds. Police officers also turn off the audio of their body cameras at one point following the shooting.

Ms. Thompson expressed gratitude for the protection and outpouring of love her family has received. “Prayer,” she said, “and also they came over to make sure our family has eaten and they have just done so much for us to help support us.” She cannot drive, but she has been driven to handle errands and doctor’s visits.

She also wants everyone to know there is a demand for justice in her grandson’s death. “This needs to turn around! It needs to turn around for not just us, but for all the mothers and grandmothers and fathers, everyone who has been going through this, officers doing this,” said the grandmother.

“They (police) need more training, for one thing. And they’re just not out to kill! You just don’t shoot no one,” Ms. Thompson lamented.

Jamilia Land, right, the aunt of Stephon Clark who was shot and killed by Sacramento police officers two weeks earlier, calls for the indictment of the officers during a rally outside the office of Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, April 4, in Sacramento, Calif.

Stevante Clark, Stephon’s brother, admitted to having a difficult time but told The Final Call, he is holding up. He shared a list of things desired by his family: First, they no longer want the video of his brother’s shooting aired on national television. “We do not want to see nor hear the gunshots or anything concerning the video. We’ve seen it. We’ve heard it … my family is sick of it,” Stevante Clark said.

They want at least a 15 minute sit-down with Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Police Chief Daniel Hahn about programs, an activity center in his brother’s name and changes in police hiring practices.

He wants Mayor Steinberg to outline a program on paper for hiring of more Black police officers. “Even though there was an African American officer involved in my brother’s death, 99.9 percent of the time, it’s White men killing Black men in police genocide cases,” argued Stevante Clark.

“Even in school shootings and Las Vegas shootings and all that, it’s usually White people, so I’m tired of them putting us like we’re the criminals. We’ve been through enough.”

Community building in Stephon Clark’s name?

His family wants afterschool job programs for Black youth and financial resources to help youth obtain skills, stay out of trouble, and not be driven to commit crime.

“We need the mayor to put pressure on the state to bring industrial building and trade programming back in the school. Jesus was a carpenter,” Stevante Clark noted.

Most of all, he wants pressure to reform Sacramento city jails. “It’s a f----g office building. ... It looks like Wells Fargo Bank. ... They’re stocking people up there like flies,” said Stevante Clark.

“We also want the Muslim community, Christian community, local activists, family and the young gang members in the community to get together and discuss initiatives on Stephon’s legacy and how we can better improve our community and Black people as a whole,” he added.

Stevante Clark told The Final Call he has heard nothing from faith-based groups, community leaders, and politicians, despite promises to help build a resource center and library in his brother’s name.

“I keep hearing people talking about it, but they’re not reaching out. ... The marching and everything is cool. I love the marching. That’s part of our history, and our roots, and our culture as who we are, but we need to start doing the community building. We need action involved,” Stevante Clark stated.

Stephon’s grandmother was pleased with Sacramento Kings NBA players’ involvement with grassroots organizations and their call for justice for Stephon.

On March 30, players Vince Carter, Garrett Temple and Kings legend Doug Christie participated in a dialogue, “Kings and Queens Rise: A Youth Voice Forum for Healing” at the South Sacramento Christian Church.

The Kings and Black Lives Matter hosted the forum with the Build. Black. Coalition, which works to help transform Sacramento communities by investing in Black youth. The Kings have promised to create an education fund for the children of Stephon Clark as part of their commitment to the goals of the Build. Black. Coalition. “This fund cannot fix the issues that led to the death of their father, but it will secure opportunities for their futures while the family and the city grapple with healing,” the Sacramento Kings said in a statement.

“A lot of people need to see how this has affected, not just us, but a lot of people. A lot of people have not been mentioned, and the Kings have now got this out that they are supporting us. They’re supporting other family members too, that this has happened to them, so I am so happy,” said Ms. Thompson.

Atty. Crump is doing the best he can on the legal front for justice, but community work is needed and Sacramento must get its act together to be a model for the world, said Stevante Clark.

Young man should not have lost his life says U.S. senator

During an April 5 town hall meeting at Unity of Sacramento Church, Ms. Thompson was comforted by Democratic Senator Kamala Harris.

“God has the last say so and I feel that, it might not be this year or next year, it’s gonna be that we’ll get justice. We’ll get justice,” Ms. Thompson told The Final Call in an exclusive phone interview with Atty. Crump shortly after the meeting.

Atty. Crump offered no update on the case or the pending federal lawsuit, but said, “They’re (Sen. Harris’ office) going to push from the federal level to do some oversight.”

The Final Call’s request for an interview with Sen. Harris was unanswered at press time.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., left, talks with Sequita Thompson, the grandmother of Stephon Clark, who was shot and killed by Sacramento police, during a town hall meeting April 5, in Sacramento, Calif. Harris spoke about the shooting on March 18, where two officers chased Clark, an unarmed Black man who was suspected of breaking into cars, into his grandparents' backyard and opened fire.

Sen. Harris addressed the fatal shooting head on during the town hall, saying it is a priority and there’s no question Stephon Clark’s life should not have been lost or ended.

“I spoke with his grandmother, and when I think about the work of his family members and friends in this community, in the face of personal and deep grief, being a voice of leadership around an issue that remains a national issue, and doing that work of being those courageous voices and selfless in that way, my heart breaks for what has happened,” said Sen. Harris, who served as California’s attorney general for eight years before winning her seat in Congress in 2016.

The Clark case highlights problems that have been challenging the U.S. for decades, said Sen. Harris.

During her tenure as state attorney general, and after years of dealing with shootings similar to Stephon Clark’s, California created its first Implicit Bias Procedural Justice Training for Law Enforcement. To date, over 2,000 police officers have been trained to recognize all persons carry bias, she stated.

“We all do, but your bias is coupled with the fact that you carry a gun; it is something that has to be a priority for us. It should be a priority for all of us anyway, but we have been doing that training, understanding that it’s the best practice, and then this happens,” Sen. Harris said.

“And I grieve with this community and there is a lot of work that needs to be done, and when I think about it again, I think about it in the context of not only Sacramento and California. I think about it in the context of those people who are on the highest levels of leadership and the need for them to really lead and lead us forward and not backward.”

Ms. Thompson, Stephon’s grandmother, told The Final Call she was devastated by the independent autopsy conducted by Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist, which contradicted police claims her grandson was facing them. Dr. Omalu said evidence showed Stephon Clark was shot in the back, in the neck, on his left side near his back, and in the right back and shoulder, and thigh as he fell or hit the ground. He was unarmed.

“I’m not doing too good, but I’m just taking one day at a time,” confessed Ms. Thompson in a soft, somber tone. “All the shots were in the back.”

Police groups donate money to city district attorney’s campaign

Black Lives Matter Sacramento, the Anti-Police Terror Project & the Justice Network held a national day of action April 4, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

They protested at Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert’s office, and demanded answers and justice for the police killing of Stephon Clark.

They accused Sacramento district attorney Schubert of foul play after news broke that she received political contributions from police organizations days after officers gunned down 22-year-old Muslim on March 18.

According to the County Election’s Office, Ms. Schubert received $10,000 from the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association on March 20, then later that week, $3,000 from the Sacramento County Alliance of Law Enforcement, reported CBS Sacramento Channel 13. She is running for reelection.

The Final Call reached out to Ms. Schubert’s office for a statement, but she was not available at the time, a spokesperson said.

“We have to review her record and hold her accountable if she doesn’t administer justice for Stephon Clark and our community,” commented Atty. Crump.

According to Vance Chandler, spokesperson for the Sacramento Police Department, the department has not been provided with the official report from the Sacramento County Coroner’s office.

He said the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office conducts an independent death investigation separate from a joint investigation conducted by the Sacramento Police Department and the California Department of Justice.

Further comment prior to the release of the coroner’s report along with the official review by the Sacramento County District Attorney and the California Department of Justice would be inappropriate, said the police department spokesman.

“We acknowledge the importance of this case to all in our community and we are committed to a thorough and comprehensive investigation,” Mr. Chandler told The Final Call in an email.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

From The Final Call Newspaper

In memory of the 'mother and the heartbeat of the revolution'

By Brian E. Muhammad -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Apr 3, 2018 - 10:48:08 AM

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Winnie Madikizela Mandela, the queen mother in the struggle for freedom, justice, equality and self-determination in South Africa, has passed. But those who possess spirits like Ms. Mandela are rare and can never be spoken of as dead because they live lives for causes much larger than themselves.

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, center, with Mother Khadijah Farrakhan, First Lady of the Nation of Islam in 1996. Photo: Final Call Archive‘Winnie Mandela was the true hero of the freedom movement of South Africa. Imprisoned and maligned, even by her own, she held fast to the principles of freedom, never wavering from fighting for the interests of South African Blacks, for all oppressed people around the world.’

A family statement announced that Ms. Mandela died April 2 at the age of 81 in the Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa. According to the statement, she has been in and out of the hospital in recent months with a lengthy illness and was surrounded by family and friends when she transitioned.

“The Mandela family are deeply grateful for the gift of her life and even as our hearts break at her passing, we urge all those who loved her to celebrate this most remarkable woman,” they said.

“It is with great sadness, accompanied by great joy, that we heard the news that Winnie Madikizela Mandela, the mother and the heartbeat of the revolution, had passed. The sadness that I feel and we feel is that this great woman of struggle has been called back to the only life-giver that there is, Almighty God Allah. But the joy is that the heartbeat of the revolution can never die. For the revolution cannot die until true freedom, justice and equality come to every member of the suffering Black people of South Africa and Africa, and all those who suffer injustice,” said the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan in an official statement issued April 2. (See full statement.)

“And the wicked ones who have stolen the land and the wealth of Africa must eventually give it all back or it shall be taken back by God and the people who refuse to let that heartbeat of true liberation, freedom, justice and equality die. She lives and the struggle continues until total victory.”

“Winnie Mandela was the true hero of the freedom movement of South Africa. Imprisoned and maligned, even by her own, she held fast to the principles of freedom, never wavering from fighting for the interests of South African Blacks, for all oppressed people around the world. Long live Winnie Mandela, our sister warrior and leader. Amandla!” said Elaine Brown, former Black Panther leader based in San Francisco, upon hearing the news of Mother Mandela’s passing.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, former wife of Nelson Mandela, greets demonstrators, behind razor wire at a bail hearing for businessman Piet Odendaal in Viljoenskroon, in the Orange Free State, South Africa, Nov. 10, 2000. Odendaal is accused of murdering a black employee and dragging his body behind a truck in the nearby town of Sasolburg.

In the context of today’s fight against Western imperialism, Ms. Brown told The Final Call, “First of all, the struggle in South Africa is not over, as Winnie herself pointed out, because when there was the refusal by the ANC to nationalize the various industries, keeping diamonds and gold and so forth, she rightly criticized that.”

“I don’t know what the status is of South African Blacks today, but there’s similarities as to Blacks in this country, except for we are a minority and they are majority,” Ms. Brown said. The bottom line is all of the diamond mines and other resources that South Africa boasts remain in the hands of enemies of the people, she said. “So, it was Winnie who pointed that out, and she continued to speak out and fight with her last breath on behalf of the interests of the poor, of the oppressed Black masses in South Africa. Now we still have a situation here in the United States where we actually have had more Blacks in prison than were in South Africa under Apartheid at one point,” Ms. Brown added.

“She was an icon, a courageous, bold, fearless woman and leader in her own right,” said Emira Woods of the International Working Group for Africans Striving for Justice, Peace and Dignity. Ms. Woods said Ms. Mandela’s contribution, vision, commitment and dedication to South Africa resonated worldwide and will serve as an inspiration for a long time to come.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, left, with Mother Khadijah Farrakhan, First Lady of the Nation of Islam.

Phile Chionesu, convener of the historic Million Woman March, held in Philadelphia in 1997 agreed. Ms. Mandela spoke at the successful gathering.

“Actually, this is a glorious day—it’s a sad day, but it’s a glorious day and that I feel her spirit as such that I am inspired, I am motivated, I am just full. I had the opportunity to just sit and talk with her mother to daughter,” said Ms. Chionesu.

The march organizers and “Mother Winnie” defied great opposition and pressure from the United States and South African governments to prevent her from participating. She was facing a politically-driven trial and legal charges at the time in South Africa. That’s exactly why we wanted to get her here, Ms. Chionesu said.

“We want the world to see that our women love her, and our people love her, and we want to surround her with love so that when she does go to trial, she will know that we were with her,” Ms. Chionesu said.

For many Ms. Mandela was an uncompromising revolutionary figure who fought relentlessly against the White minority regime that controlled Africa’s most advanced economy. In the anti-apartheid movement, she was unfaltering against enemies of Black uplift and human dignity.

Nation of Islam Min. Louis Farrakhan (L) and Winnie Madikizela Mandela (R) laugh during their joint press conference in Mrs. Madikizela Mandela’s Soweto home outside Johannesburg Jan 5, 1998. Min. Farrakhan was received by Winnie Madikizela Mandela on the South African leg of his 53 nation tour to promote “peace, atonement and reconciliation”.

When she spoke, her clarion call and affirmation for liberation was Amandla! Amandla! Amandla! It’s a Zulu and Xhosa word meaning “power.”

As head of the African National Congress Women’s League, Ms. Mandela lifted the profile of women freedom fighters globally. Observers of resistance movements and the anti-apartheid struggle said she represents generations of women fighters before her, like Yaa Asantewa, who battled British domination in Ghana and Underground Railroad conductor Harriett Tubman who left no choice but “ride or die” when escaping slavery.

“Winnie Mandela represented the spirit of Black resistance … epitomized by strong Black women,” observed Ajamu Baraka, national organizer for the Black Alliance for Peace. Because of the harsh and dehumanizing conditions of apartheid South Africa, Ms. Mandela discovered, like many young Black women, that she had to be strong and do whatever was necessary—not only survive—but to be in a place where she could contribute to the liberation of her people, he said.

Min. Louis Farrakhan, left, of the Nation of Islam and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, right, former wife of South African President Nelson Mandela kiss at a news conference in Soweto, South Africa January 5, 1998.

She was born Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela in 1936 to a Xhosa-speaking Pondo tribe in Transkei on the South African seacoast. She was trained as a social worker when most Blacks had little education. She served Black people in her home country, rejecting the opportunity to study in America.

Her marriage to Nelson Mandela in 1958 and his subsequent arrest, trial and imprisonment by the apartheid regime, opened a chapter in her life that profoundly shaped what became her legacy—and she impacted and shaped his legacy.

Winnie Mandela was arrested, tortured and imprisoned for daring to wage war for her people against the oppressive South African apartheid regime. She was arrested in 1969 under the Suppression of Terrorism Act, put in solitary confinement for 17 months and after that placed on house arrest. Shots were fired into her home. She was declared a banned person with virtually no rights, forbidden to speak to the media and exiled far from her home for a time. She defied the restrictions.

In 1990, Winnie Mandela walked hand in hand with her husband upon his release. In 1993, she became president of the African National Congress Women’s League. In 1994 she was elected to parliament, re-elected in 1999, and then resigned four years later because of a financial controversy. She denied any wrongdoing. But Winnie Mandela was the target not only of the government but of politics and the press, speaking her mind and speaking strongly. Detractors and enemies tried to label her a firebrand and a political liability. She was accused of having a South African youngster killed but her chief accuser and confessed murderer, a onetime member of the Mandela Football Team, admitted he was a longtime government informant who had set up two guerillas to be killed in his home.

Winnie Mandela, former wife of South African President Nelson Mandela, raises a fist after leaving the stage as keynote speaker of the Million Woman March in Philadelphia Oct. 25, 1997. Hundreds of thousands of black women stood shoulder to shoulder at the march, showing their solidarity and drawing attention to issues they believe mainstream groups ignore. Nation of Islam women provided security. Photo: AP/Wide World Photos

“It meant that she had to embody … that spirit of resistance, not just for herself and her immediate family, but for the struggling South African nation,” Mr. Baraka pointed out. “In many ways she began to symbolize that struggling nation to become a nation.”

“And she became a spokesperson, not only for the liberation struggles in South Africa, but a spokesperson and symbol of the resistance for the entire African continent that was still in a revolt and struggling against neocolonialism,” Mr. Baraka said.

“Winnie Mandela was without question a hero of African liberation, but as with all heroes, she was complicated and there were criticisms that were to be made,” said Bill Fletcher Jr, past president of Trans Africa Forum.

“When you don’t elevate someone to sainthood, you can look at them in balance and I think when you look at someone like her in balance, she made an immense commitment to the struggle of freedom in South Africa,” Mr. Fletcher said.

“We join the world in mourning the loss of this great African sister and give our condolences to her entire family,” said Abdul Akbar Muhammad, international representative of the Nation of Islam.

“We had the honor of being in her home in South Africa, when she received the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan,” during his World Friendship Tour III, he remarked.

Ms. Mandela over the years became a “great friend to the Minister and the Nation of Islam,” said Min. Akbar Muhammad said reflecting on the many visits she made to America. One of the most significant visits here, which also impacted the African continent, was when she gave a message of solidarity at the first anniversary gathering of the 1995 Million Man March in front of the United Nations, he added.

In March 2012 she gave remarks at the Nation of Islam National Center and Mosque Maryam. “When I am in this House of God, I feel liberated because it speaks the language I know, the language that refuses to succumb to White domination. Indeed, we have been so colonized that some of us do not want to be reminded that we are slaves,” Mother Winnie said that day.

Always afforded great respect and honor by the Nation of Islam, when Mother Mandela spoke briefly spoke following the address by Min. Farrakhan, she was in town to receive the International Phenomenal Woman Award at WV103’s “Expo for Today’s Black Woman.”

Blacks remain intellectually enslaved and the struggle of Black people in America is connected to the struggle of our people on the African continent, said Mother Mandela. “We could never have been totally free until you, too, are totally free,” she said to thunderous applause.

“It is not possible for human nature to change,” she maintained. “If they had changed, we could not have found them bombing Afghanistan and Iraq.”

In prepared remarks for the Expo, which were printed in The Final Call, Mother Mandela observed: “Discrimination against Black women is multi-pronged, multi-sectoral and transgenerational. Black women are discriminated by the White supremacy; they have to contend with male prejudice fed by patriarchal notions, they suffer abuse from White women who are also beneficiaries of White supremacy,” she said. “They are expected to be in solidarity with their male folks to fight racial oppression. In this regard they have little choice. They cannot sit on the sideline and watch the Black male being reduced to an endangered species. After all, these men are the fathers of their children, the lovers, and their sons. In short, there is no other species that understand oppression as Black women do.”

In South African media and politics and in U.S. efforts to impact the country’s Black struggle, the unapologetic and fierce freedom fighter was demonized. When her husband was first released from prison, in 1990, she accompanied him on an America tour. She vowed that if Whites reneged on their promises of majority rule and political reforms, she would be the first to return to armed struggle.

To Whites she was an unwelcome and hated voice who demanded accountability and to Blacks, she was a great, unbought champion.

Her passing trended on Twitter, with well-known names paying homage to her and little known names expressing gratitude for life, strength and integrity.

Greg Carr, chair of the Howard University Department of Afro American Studies, tweeted: “Winnie Madikizela-Mandela The one we loved The one they hated The one who stood straight The one they never stopped trying to break You achieve your last victory on this earth You transition with our love And join our Ancestors And a greater strength Nkosi, Umdala. #WinnieMandela.”

ColorOfChange.org tweeted, “To those who oppose us, we say, ‘Strike the woman, and you strike the rock’. Rest in power #WinnieMandela. You represent the epitome of fearlessness, activism, power and courage.”

Bernice A. King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King, tweeted, “Rest in power, #WinnieMandela. Grateful to have met and shared powerful moments with her. She and my mother, #CorettaScottKing, had poignant, memorable meetings.”

Actor Forest Whitaker tweeted: “Rest In Peace #WinnieMandela Go with love. Go with God... your fight for human rights will continue.”

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) tweeted: “Today I mourn the loss of my dear friend & one of the greatest leaders & activists in the world: Winnie Mandela. I worked w/ her on the release of N. Mandela & to end apartheid in South Africa. We should all pay tribute to Winnie’s persistence in the face of injustice & racism.”

Whites tweeted vile comments and vilified her in death as they had in life, but Blacks stormed to her defense.

In South Africa, there was anger at some unflattering portraits of Mother Mandela presented by the White-owned media, accusing her of murder and acting as a law unto herself. Rami Chuene 1st Lady, a South African radio host tweeted, “I see @eNCA have edited that #WinnieMandela promo about being ‘law breaker, abuser, etc’. Someone got really excited ne? Let’s stick to Freedom Fighter and Mother of the Nation. Thank you.”

Thabi Myeni tweeted from Durban, South Africa: “Umama was a radical black woman. A revolutionary. Don’t let white media water her down to ‘Mandela’s ex-wife’. And may her revolutionary spirit be more alive than ever #WinnieMandela.”

“Despite all attempts to neutralize her, break her spirit and silence her, she remained committed to the struggle for black liberation. Even after the first democratic elections and the ushering in of so-called freedom, she used the strength she had left to face the institutional challenges of the new democracy and refused to be co-opted by the oppressors,” declared Black Land First, a movement based in South Africa.

“We warn the public to be aware of the storm that will follow. A carefully co-ordinated series of stories and lies will dominate the media to discredit this struggle icon in the following days to come. They will try to convince us that a black woman is to blame for the circumstances of apartheid. No white media should pass judgement and tell us about TRC commissions when land thieves and apartheid war lords are roaming the streets of Stellenbosch,” said the group on its website. “Rest in power Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Black women all over the world draw strength from your powerful spirit.”

She is survived by the Mandela’s two daughters, Zenani and Zindziwa. South African President Cyril Ramapahosa said an official state funeral for Mother Mandela will be April 14 and a memorial service is scheduled for April 11. Grieving South Africans gathered outside of Mother Winnie’s home to sing songs in her honor and to pay tribute to her life.

(Final Call national correspondent Charlene Muhammad and Final Call staff contributed to this report.)