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)

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.”

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.

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

What's your opinion on this article?

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.” 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.)