From The Final Call Newspaper

‘Enough is Enough!’ Local activists demand justice after release of Tyre Nichols beating video

By The Final Call
- January 31, 2023

RowVaughn Wells, mother of Tyre Nichols, who died after being beaten by Memphis police officers, cries as she is comforted by Tyre’s stepfather Rodney Wells, at a news conference with civil rights Attorney Ben Crump in Memphis, Tenn., Jan. 23. Photo: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

by Zakiyyah Muhammad @zakiyyahmaryam_

MEMPHIS—A sixth police officer from the Memphis Police Department was relieved of duty in the aftermath of the brutal assault and death of Tyre Nichols. The graphic nature of the beating of the young, Black man has sparked outrage, anger, sadness and demands for immediate justice and for accountability for all parties—even law enforcement officers and paramedics—who actively participated or stood by while Mr. Nichols was beaten and severely injured.

“Justice for Tyre” signs waved across the gloomy skies of downtown Memphis as community organizers marched to demand the dismantling of unjust law enforcement. The non-violent demonstrations held Jan. 28 emerged in the wake of the released body camera footage of the beating death of Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis police.

Tyre Nichols

Protesters who appeared in front of the Memphis Public Safety Building, the Memphis Fire Department, the Shelby County Jail and the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center called for defunding the police department and the implementation of a new community policing program.

Officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith, who are Black, are charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression in the Jan. 7 incident that led to the death of Mr. Nichols. An autopsy report reveals that he succumbed to extensive bleeding, a broken nose and neck, brain swelling and kidney failure. The sixth officer, Preston Hemphill, who is White, has been relieved of duty, according to the Memphis Police Department, but he has not been fired or charged.

Civil rights attorney Attorney Ben Crump speaks at a news conference with RowVaughn Wells, mother of Tyre Nichols, who died after being beaten by Memphis police officers, and his stepfather Rodney Wells, in Memphis, Tenn., Friday, Jan. 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Memphis City Councilman J.B. Smiley was astonished to see that some of the officers involved in the brutal beating of the unarmed Black motorist were Black.

“The majority of people in the city of Memphis look like me. They’re Black and Brown people. The majority of the police force looks like me. They’re Black and Brown people. As my colleague said, when they were looking at Tyre Nichols, ‘didn’t they see their brother? Didn’t they see themselves?’” the councilman asked. “Instead of seeing themselves, they saw someone who was Black. They saw someone who was poor. They saw someone, if they felt like they could get away with killing him (that) no one would care.”

He said the deadly beating is a manifestation of police culture. Councilman Smiley also said he, fellow colleagues and community members have long sought police reform in Memphis.

A demonstrator chants during a protest Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in New York, in response to the death of Tyre Nichols, who died after being beaten by Memphis police during a traffic stop. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

“This council said, ‘Hey, we need to implement more community policing,’ and we still have not done that. The administration resists us. The police department resisted us. The Memphis Police Association resisted the cause of the people,” he concluded.

Blacks, Palestinians have same struggle

Palestinian-American Seema Rasoul was among community organizers leading the Jan. 28 afternoon demonstration. She said the struggle Black people face is intertwined with the Palestinian struggle.

“It’s all White supremacy, from Israel to America. It’s all about the states controlling everybody and everything. … Police in America here are way too militarized. There’s no reason for the police on the ground in our cities to have so many weapons.

“Every kid in America that’s ever been pulled over, racially profiled or shot and killed by police here in America, is no different than every Palestinian boy in a refugee camp that’s under apartheid, an occupation in Israel,” Ms. Rasoul said.

Activists and concerned residents believe it is not enough to only fire and charge the five officers responsible for the beating. They believe any supervisor, chief of police, or anyone responsible for the training and supervision of irresponsible police officers, EMTs, etc., should be held accountable as well.

Upon viewing police footage, many viewers questioned the validity of the initial Memphis Police Dept. report that only five officers were responsible for the death, as many noted seeing more than five officers at the scene, and not all of them were Black.

Their cries signal total dissatisfaction with a justice system full of corruption and lack of accountability. In 2015, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam called for 10,000 Fearless “to go into the communities and make them a decent and safe place to live.” Now, those words are coming to life as people are demanding community-based policing.

Rodney Wells, stepfather of Tyre Nichols, stated at a Jan. 23 press conference that “our son ran because he was scared for his life. He did not run because he was trying to get rid of no drugs, no guns, no any of that. He ran because he was scared for his life. And when you see the video, you will see why he was scared for his life.”

In a Jan. 27 press conference, Rowvaughn Wells, the mother of Tyre Nichols, stated that the five Black officers “shamed their families.”

“I hate the fact that it was five Black men that actually did this to another Black man,” she continued. Despite the tragic loss of her son, Mrs. Wells said she believes the purpose for her son’s death is to bring justice to those killed unjustly by police.

“I believe in my heart that my son was on assignment from God. He finished his assignment and God took him back home,” she said. Mr. and Mrs. Wells are currently represented by civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump and attorney Antonio Romanucci.

A web of police lies

Prior to release of the tragic footage, Memphis police reported that Tyre Nichols was pulled over for driving recklessly and for fleeing arrest on Saturday, January 7, 2023. However, these reports were not supported by video footage.

In the video, an unidentified officer points a weapon at Mr. Nichols, aggressively shouting, threatening, and commanding the motorist to get out of the car and get on the ground. Another officer forcibly yanks Mr. Nichols out of the car and, along with the other officers, begins to pepper spray, kick, tase and ruthlessly beat him. Mr. Nichols is heard calling for his mother, who lived only 100 yards away.

At the onset of the pretextual traffic stop, no officer asked Mr. Nichols for his driver’s license nor explained the reason for the stop. Instead, the video shows merciless physical abuse and the hurling of verbal expletives and racial slurs. The footage also shows Mr. Nichols being kicked in the head multiple times and receiving punches from one of the officers while nearly unconscious, as other officers pin him down and watch.

Defense attorney Blake Ballin represents former Officer Martin III and attorney William Massey represents former Officer Mills Jr. It was unclear at presstime whether the other officers had legal representation.
Demonstrators march during a protest, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in Atlanta, over the death of Tyre Nichols, who died after being beaten by Memphis police. (AP Photo/Alex Slitz)

Responding to media questions, Atty. Ballin said officer Mills Jr. is a “gentle, respectful father” and is “devastated to be charged with a crime.” Likewise, Atty. Massey said officer Martin III is committed to protecting the community and that it’s “devastating” to be accused of a murder.

Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said in a video message that the beating of Mr. Nichols was a “horrific circumstance” and promised “full and complete cooperation of the Memphis Police Department with the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Shelby County District Attorney’s office to determine the entire scope of facts that contributed to Tyre Nichols’ death.” She added that “aside from being your cop, I am a citizen of this community we all share. I am a mother. I am a caring human being who wants the best for all of us. This is not just a professional failing. This is a failing of basic humanity to another individual.”

The image from video released on Jan. 27, 2023, by the City of Memphis, shows Tyre Nichols being treated by paramedics after a brutal attack by five Memphis police officers on Jan. 7, 2023, in Memphis, Tenn. Nichols died on Jan. 10. The five officers have since been fired and charged with second-degree murder and other offenses. (City of Memphis via AP)

Prior to release of the video, the Nichols family requested that protests be peaceful. Mrs. Wells also cautioned parents to not allow children to view the disturbing footage.

On the day of the video release, universities and colleges in the city and surrounding areas planned for classes to be virtual, out of fear and speculation of unrest and threat to public safety. Memphis-Shelby County Schools (MSCS) also canceled all afterschool programs, practices and events. Subsequently, protests in Memphis and in other major U.S. cities were relatively peaceful.

Protesters in Memphis blocked Highway I-55 on the bridge that connects the state of Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee, extending over the Mississippi River. This prevented commercial truck drivers from getting through the city. Protesters peacefully left the bridge when the demonstrations concluded.

This combo of images provided by the Memphis Police Department shows, from top row from left, officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, bottom row, from left, Desmond Mills, Jr. and Justin Smith. The five former Memphis police officers have been charged with second-degree murder and other crimes in the arrest and death of Tyre Nichols, a Black motorist who died three days after a confrontation with the officers during a traffic stop, records showed Jan. 26. Photo: Memphis Police Department via AP

At the Jan. 28 demonstration, Oyenini Olaitun told The Final Call, “I don’t feel like it’s a victory that it got, you know, that it was recorded. But, you know, it just makes it (vindicating) for brothers and sisters, you know, like myself, who witness this all the time and when they try to tell people about it, they’re always told, ‘oh man, you had to (do) something. You did something.’”

Mr. Olaitun also revealed he had an encounter with the MPD and suggested it could have been an officer from the Scorpion Unit. The five former officers involved in the death of Tyre Nichols were a part of the Scorpion Unit. Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. also announced that two deputies on the scene have been relieved of duty and are under investigation.

“Just about maybe a month or so ago, you know, I was pulled over for a pretextual traffic stop not too far from where we are now in North Memphis. The officer claimed that I didn’t show my turn signal. Then when I questioned that, he said that my tag was improperly displayed,” Mr. Olaitun recalled. He described seeing an unmarked car, no badge and claimed the officer would not provide their name.

The list grows longer

Memphis Police Officer Preston Hemphill Photo: Memphis Police Department

Previous police brutality cases in the Mid-South area include Darrius Stewart, 19, Chavis Carter, 21, and Brandon Webber, 20. Mr. Stewart was gunned down by Memphis Police Officer Connor Schilling on July 27, 2015. The Black teen was unarmed and was mistakenly identified as a suspect. Eyewitnesses of the incident said Stewart was running away from officer Schilling, which differed from the initial narrative that he was advancing toward the officer. The U.S. Department of Justice stated in September 2016 that “based on a careful and thorough review, federal investigators determined that there is insufficient evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Schilling violated Section 242.”

The case of Chavis Carter was closed, claiming that the 21-year-old committed suicide by shooting himself while handcuffed when he was pulled over by an unnamed Jonesboro police officer. Mr. Carter died on July 29, 2012.

Brandon Webber was shot 16 times and killed by a U.S. Marshall on June 12, 2019, for allegedly ramming his car into an officer’s vehicle several times. His death sparked protests and riots in the Memphis neighborhood of Frayser. At present, no charges have been filed in the murder of Brandon Webber.

Funeral services for Tyre Nichols will be held Wednesday, February 1, 2023, at the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church at 10:30 a.m. His services will be eulogized by Reverend Al Sharpton of the National Action Network.

Councilman Smiley asked residents to bring their demands to the upcoming Feb. 7 Memphis City Council meeting.

“We have to change policies and the only way we can do that is to do legislative action in that building,” he said.

From The Final Call Newspaper

Families question why two Black men died at the hands of police in Memphis, LA

By Charlene Muhammad, National Correspondent
- January 24, 2023

Screenshot of Keenan Anderson on ground as the Los Angeles Police try to handcuff him on Jan. 3. Photo: LAPD

Two Black men died after police traffic stops, prompting the firing and arrest of five Black officers and a federal civil rights investigation in Memphis, Tennessee, and a $50 million damages claim against the City of Los Angeles.

The painful start of this New Year for the family of Tyre Nichols, 29, began after Memphis police officers severely beat him following a traffic stop. Mr. Nichols, a father of a four-year-old son, suffered cardiac arrest according to his parents and died three days later in a hospital. He also had brain swelling and kidney failure, Rowvaughn and Rodney Wells, his mother and stepfather, told The Final Call during a phone interview with Kareem Ali, lead investigator for Ben Crump Law, which represents the family.

Tyre Nichols in the hospital after a Jan. 7 traffic stop by Memphis Police. There are conflicting reports on why he was stopped. Mr. Nichols died on Jan. 10. His family and friends are demanding answers. Photos Courtesy of Kareem Ali and Rowvaughn Wells

The family and attorneys held a press conference on Jan. 23, after viewing, in their words, a “disturbing, heinous, violent” video of the traffic stop, which happened on Jan. 7. According to Atty. Crump, the family has granted the Memphis Police Department one to two weeks to release all videotape footage to the public. It is unknown if the footage is from police body-worn cameras or dash cam, said attorneys.

On Jan. 21, in the conclusion of its administrative investigation, the Memphis Police Department fired Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr. and Justin Smith, the police officers involved in Mr. Nichols’ death.

They “violated multiple department policies, including excessive use of force, duty to intervene, and duty to render aid,” announced the Memphis Police Department in a statement on Jan. 20.

Former officers Bean and Haley were hired in August 2020, Martin, III and Smith in March 2018, and Mills, Jr. in March 2017.

For Keenan Anderson, 31, tragedy struck when he flagged down a Los Angeles Police Department motorcycle officer for help after a traffic collision on Jan. 3. The father and teacher was shocked with a Taser stun gun six times during a struggle with LAPD officers in Venice and died at a hospital. He was visiting from Washington, D.C., according to his family, which includes his cousin Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“We’ve got to do something here to make it where they quit killing us. And that’s what Kareem and I, and our legal team continue to fight every day,” said Atty. Crump, to The Final Call. He is also representing Mr. Anderson’s family, along with Atty. Carl Douglas of Douglas Hicks Law in Los Angeles.

“We’ve obviously made some progress, but not enough to prevent the hashtags,” added Atty. Crump.

‘He loved to help people’

“I know everybody’s mother says they had a good son, their son is good, but my son, he actually was a good boy! My son, he liked to skateboard,” said Ms. Wells during the press conference.

In a previous phone interview, she told The Final Call that her son was a good, infectious child, a good soul, who touched a lot of people and would do anything for anyone.

Tyre Nichols died after an encounter with police officers in Memphis. Photo: Courtesy Kareem Ali and Rowvaughn Wells

He looked forward to her meals at lunchtime—that fateful day, she’d cooked sesame chicken. During the week, he took pictures of sunsets; on the weekends, cleaned his room and washed his clothes for the work days ahead. In between, he skated and photographed sunsets, she said, during the press conference.

“Does that sound like somebody that the police is trying to say did all these bad things? No,” she stated.

A crowd that included local organizations gathered at the Mt. Olive Cathedral CME church to get an update and ask questions on the case. In addition to Atty. Crump, Atty. Antonio Romanucci and representatives from the Tennessee chapter of the NAACP and the Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope were present.

The officers stopped Mr. Nichols for allegedly driving under intoxication, stated family lawyers. Police claimed he was driving erratically.

“Nobody’s perfect, okay. Nobody! But he was damn near!” declared Ms. Wells, invoking rousing applause.

Mr. Nichols, the youngest of four siblings, got stuck in Memphis when the world shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, said Ms. Wells. The family is from Sacramento, she told The Final Call.

“My son loved me to death … He had my name tattooed on his arm and that made me proud, because most kids don’t put their mom’s name, but he did,” she said, with a hint of laughter.

It is hard to fathom the whole, unreal ordeal, said Ms. Wells, rendered numb by her son’s death. She cried, “All I know is my son Tyre is not here with me anymore. He will never walk through that door again. He will never come in and say, ‘Hello, parents!”

All he was trying to do was get home and was two minutes from the house when police stopped him. “He was less than 80 yards away when they murdered him! Yes. I said murdered because when I walked into that hospital room, my son was already dead,” said Ms. Wells.

Rodney Wells, second from left, the stepfather of Tyre Nichols, with activist Kareem Ali, second from right, at a demonstration in front of the Lorraine Motel, where civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was shot.

Mr. Nichols worked with his father at FedEx for nine months and co-workers’ and the corporation’s show of support has been overwhelming, said Mr. Wells. “No mother, father, should have to witness what I saw today,” he stated.

“We have to fight for justice and I have to stay strong for my family … We can’t fold and be weak,” said Mr. Wells.

“It has to stop,” said Atty. Crump repeatedly, during the press conference. He said it is kind of surreal because looking at the video, one thinks that somebody is going to de-escalate the situation but it doesn’t happen.

Mr. Nichols, 6’3” and only 145 lbs., was defenseless the entire time in that video, said Atty Romanucci, co-counsel for the family.

“He was a human piñata for those police officers,” said Atty. Romanucci. Ms. Wells’ body jerked and turned and she wept loudly as she struggled to maintain composure during the press conference.

“It was an unadulterated, unabashed, non-stop beating of this young boy for three minutes,” said Atty. Romanucci. Not only was it violent, but it was savage he declared. But why, given the lack of proportionality required for those officers to use such force, he questioned. Somehow the officers anticipated the violence when they made the stop, because some of them are from the Memphis Police Department’s organized crime unit, according to Atty. Romanucci. Some were in unmarked cars, he said. “Why are they conducting traffic stops?” he added.

Pointing repeatedly to his Bible on the pulpit, he vowed: “We are here to say to you, so help me God, when is this going to stop?”

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis said they “understand and agree that transparency around the events surrounding the death of Mr. Tyre Nichols is critically important, especially the release of the video footage.”

“We haven’t been told anything,” Mr. Wells said. “Except a lie,” added his soft-spoken but firm wife, prior to them seeing the video.

The parents of Tyre Nichols with Atty. Ben Crump and Atty. Antonio Romanucci at a Jan. 23 press conference at Mt. Olive Cathedral CME church in Memphis. Photo: Zakiyyah Muhammad

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is handling the investigation, and the United States Attorney’s Office, FBI and Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, have opened a civil rights investigation.

First, police banged on their door, and her husband answered, alleged Mrs. Wells: “They said, ‘Does a Tyree Nichols live here?’ We said yes! What’s going on? Then they started saying, ‘Well, is he on drugs? And does he do this,’ and I’m saying, what?!”

A police officer then said her son was being tended to by the paramedics, “because we had to Tase and pepper spray him,” further alleged Ms. Wells. “Tase and pepper spray him for what,” she asked, then continued, “They started saying he was being erratic and all this this type of stuff like he was on some type of drug or something. And my husband and I are looking at each other like, he’s not talking about the Tyre we know!”

“They lied to us saying that the only thing wrong was that he had been pepper sprayed and tasered, when all along, they were beating him to death. That was the lie,” Ms. Wells told The Final Call.

“We want these officers to be charged with murder one and nothing less than that. Until that happens, as they say, it’s no justice, no peace, that’s the way we feel,” Mr. Wells said.

“We say ‘Black Lives Matter,’ and we have to make sure that we mean that and that’s just not a word,” stated Mutthakkir Muhammad, Nation of Islam Student Minister of Mosque No. 55 in Memphis. He thanked Chief Davis for her transparency in the matter.

Student Min. Muhammad encouraged her to continue on the journey of being transparent, saying if these officers are wrong, then hold them accountable.

In addition to a protest outside a Memphis police station on Jan. 14, family, friends and supporters released balloons in honor of Mr. Nichols’ life. On Feb. 4, they also plan to hold a memorial and celebration of life service for Mr. Nichols in Sacramento, Calif., where the family lived, according to Mr. Ali.

Screenshot from body camera footage released on Jan. 3 shows Keenan Anderson with his hands up before taken down by the Los Angeles Police. Photo: LAPD

Tragedy in Los Angeles

In Los Angeles, civil rights attorney Carl Douglas protested the officer-involved death of Keenan Anderson during a news conference Jan. 20: “Say his name!” he called out. “Keenan Anderson!” the small delegation behind him replied with force. He proceeded to announce the same-day filing of a $50 million damages claim, which he said put the City of Los Angeles on notice that it intends to file a state-based civil rights lawsuit against it and each of the officers responsible for the young man’s death.

The city has 45 days to accept or reject that claim, and in his 42 years of litigating such cases, unfortunately, the city always rejects, he said.

Atty. Douglas was flanked by his partner, Atty. Jamon Hicks, Atty. Crump, and Mr. Anderson’s family, including his five-year-old son, Syncere and his mother, Gabrielle Hansell, Ms. Cullors and Dr. Melina Abdullah of Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles. Atty. Douglas vowed that their trial team will marshal the resources, and energy and fight for justice on behalf of Mr. Anderson’s young child.

“Having to hear Keenan cry out for help the way he did and to watch him be hurt by the very people who are supposed to protect him is something I will never get over,” said Ms. Hansell. “My son is going to see that one day, and I don’t know how I will answer any of his questions, now or in the future,” she said, reading a statement from her cellphone.

“All I do know is that we are here to get justice for Keenan and in the process, we hope to evoke change so that moving forward, my son doesn’t have to live his life in fear that one day, what happened to his dad may one day happen to him,” she added.

One of the goals for the mother and child present is to change the narrative, Atty. Douglas said.

He expressed that is regrettable that in 42 years of practicing in such kinds of cases, inevitably, initially, there is a whitewash effort to sully the name of the person that died. “I’m sick and tired of police officers, Chief Moore among them, that try to sully the name of the person that died, rather than focusing on the conduct of the people that killed him, so that is my response to any suggestion that anything in his system is responsible for his death,” argued Atty. Douglas.

Screenshot taken from body camera footage released by the Los Angeles Police Department of their encounter with Keenan Anderson on Jan. 3. Photo: LAPD

An LAPD spokesperson said in an email to The Final Call that Chief Michel Moore was unavailable for an interview at press time. Chief Moore has expressed concern over recent officer-involved deaths, including Mr. Anderson’s.

Mr. Anderson was unarmed, a college graduate, and a high school English teacher of Black and Brown youth, who miss their teacher now, Atty. Douglass stated. “Let there be no mistake: Keenan Anderson died because he was tased six times on the back of his heart!”

Attorney Douglas said further that they have hired an independent pathologist to determine exactly why he died. Results are expected in six weeks, he stated. “What you don’t understand or realize, because there was an edited version of the video, is that the first officer had seven minutes of conversation with a compliant Keenan Anderson,” who was in a position on the ground, Atty. Douglas told reporters. “Sir! Help me, sir,” the unarmed and compliant man repeatedly pled, continued Atty. Douglas.

Despite Mr. Anderson being compliant, and on the ground in a submissive position, the “hammer,”—three trained killers—explained Atty. Douglas referring to the LAPD officers, were unable to handcuff the unarmed man, without having to shock him with a Taser six separate times on the back side of his heart.

The cases of Mr. Nichols and Mr. Anderson have provoked anger and questions about the continued problem of Blacks disproportionately abused and dying while in police custody. The Final Call will continue to monitor and follow up on both of these stories.

—Zakiyyah Muhammad contributed to this report from Memphis

From The Final Call Newspaper

What Brings Rain, Hail, Snow & Earthquakes?

By Charlene Muhammad, National Correspondent
- January 10, 2023

The Judgment of Allah (God) manifesting through rain, hail, snow and earthquakes continued to surround America as the New Year began. Massive storms battered California and parts of the South and Gulf States were hit with tornadoes, as January 2023 began. On Jan. 9, President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for California and ordered federal assistance to supplement state, tribal, and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from successive and severe winter storms, flooding, and mudslides.

At Final Call presstime, heavy rain, high-elevation snow and strong winds were projected to continue to impact the western states through the second week of January and threats from flash flooding, mud and rock slides, heavy snowfall and damaging wind gusts were in the forecast, predicted the National Weather Service (NWS).

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Jan. 4 and mobilized the National Guard and State Operations Center to its highest level, ahead of the winter rainstorm. Tens of thousands lost power. One fatality included a two-year-old boy, in Sonoma County, when a tree fell on his home, according to news reports.

Associated Press reported the storm was expected to dump up to six inches of rain in parts of the San Francisco Bay area. San Francisco expected 24-29 miles per hour winds with gusts of up to 50 miles per hour and more than two to three inches of rain, said Mayor London Breed during a Jan. 3 press conference. But the city saw 5.5 inches of rain, which was one of the largest amounts in a 24-hour period the city had ever received, she stated. “In fact, it had not happened in San Francisco in this capacity since 1849,” said Mayor Breed.

Houses along the shores of Lake Erie, near Fort Erie, Ontario,, remain covered in ice Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022, following a winter storm that swept through much of Ontario. (Nick Iwanyshyn/The Canadian Press via AP)

This weather event, which meteorologists called a “bomb cyclone,” is bringing havoc to California. The deluges have occurred as California has been enveloped by drought and faced fierce wildfires that have scarred the landscape, reported CNN. “Now, much of the state cannot bare to absorb more moisture without the possibility of even more flooding,” noted

The seaside village of Capitola in Santa Cruz County, about 60 miles south of San Francisco, suffered possibly the worst damage as waves that were forecast to top 25 feet crashed into homes and restaurants at the mouth of Soquel Creek and knocked out a section of its historic wooden pier, reported The Guardian.

Multi-day severe weather also occurred in early January in the U.S. spawning nearly three dozen tornado reports across several states in the South and Midwest and triggering widespread excessive rainfall, reported

A total of 43 tornado reports were tallied by the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center Jan. 2-4 as severe storms caused destruction across a large swath of the country from Arkansas and Louisiana to South Carolina, the website reported. Thunderstorms also produced dozens of wind and hail reports across Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and far-northeastern Texas.

A woman, who choses to remain anonymous, fills bags of sand offered at South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023. (Brontë Wittpenn/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

And more wintry conditions were forecast to hit across the eastern two-thirds of the country with colder air “setting the stage for a couple of rounds of snow for areas from the Ohio Valley to the mid-Atlantic, which could culminate in an extensive blast of snow for some areas,” by the second week of January AccuWeather meteorologists reported.

What is happening and why it is happening is found in scriptural texts and is also taught and prophesized by the Divine Servants of Allah (God).

“Allah says in the Holy Qur’an that He is the Master of the Day of Judgment. Why should there even be a judgment? When you get a judgment, it means a judge has rendered a decision,” stated the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan in his June 9, 1996 Message, “The Divine Destruction of America: Can She Avert It?” What the Minister plainly stated then, is evident today.

Judgment (according to the dictionary) is the ability to judge; to make a decision or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively and wisely, especially in matters affecting action, good sense, discretion; misfortune regarded as afflicted by divine sentence is also a judgment; also the last judgment, the final trial of all mankind, both the living and the dead, at the end of the world, continued Minister Farrakhan during his message.

“When we’re talking about judgment, in this case we’re talking about God forming a decision that comes down against America and against this world. God has sent down His decision. His intention is the total destruction of America. The question is, is America good and by what standard? If America has exceeded the limits, then somebody has to make God’s decision known. Publish the decision. There is no appeal, but there is a way to get out from it. It’s very narrow, it’s very limited, but you can avoid it,” said Minister Farrakhan.

“The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said America is a preserved area. No foreign nation will destroy America lest they get the credit. God will do it Himself. He said America is number one on God’s list to be destroyed. He talked about the four beasts: America, England, Germany and Italy. These are four White nations that have acted with great wickedness against the darker people of the world. He says the more you fight against Elijah, the more God makes perfect through me. Elijah Muhammad said, we will make the truth so plain that a fool will find it hard to err,” added Minister Farrakhan, referencing his Teacher and Eternal Leader of the Nation of Islam.

Nurse Katie Leonard, left, assists Scott Mathers, right, as they rescue Mathers’ mother, Patsy Costello, 88, after being trapped in her vehicle for over an hour on Astrid Drive in Pleasant Hill, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022. Costello drove her car on the flooded street thinking she could make it when it stalled in the two feet of water. After two hours the water had receded about a foot making it easier to rescue her. Police were called but stood by and watched after calling in a tow truck to help pull the car out of the water. Nurse Katie Leonard, of Pleasant Hill, lives down the block used her kayak to bring Costello hot tea, blankets, food and a phone to call a friend. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

As the bomb cyclone clears California, it will move into Utah, where NWS issued a winter storm watch for Utah’s southern mountains that took effect Jan. 5. The watch called for six to 12 inches in the southern mountains, indicated CNN.

It is very important to understand that the economy of California, in part, is very dependent on agriculture, explained Student Minister Dr. Abdul Haleem Muhammad, Southwest Regional Representative of the Nation of Islam, who is also an urban planner. Ranked by Bloomberg to overtake Germany as the world’s 4th largest economy, “The Golden State” is affected by several things, besides these weather events, he stated.

America has a broken immigration system and the inability to supply farm workers to plant and harvest crops, according to Student Min. Haleem Muhammad. This does not bode well, because it will lead to food shortages and price increases over the next few years, he told The Final Call.

“As it relates to the weather, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in ‘The Four Great Judgments of America,’ found in the ‘Fall of America,’ says to us that wind with rain can bring destruction to towns, cities, bring various germs, causing sickness to the people. It produces unclean water by the swelling of streams and destroying reservoirs of pure drinking water used for the health of the people. Rain is a destructive army within itself,” he added.

News of the year-end storm that swept across the southern United States, damaged water systems and broke pipes, he observed.

An empty vehicle is surrounded by floodwaters on a road in Oakland, Calif., Jan. 4. Another winter storm moved into California, walloping the northern part of the state with more rain and snow. Photo: AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez

“The Deep South’s infrastructure is cracking under the bomb cyclone as burst pipes leak millions of gallons of water,” an AP headline noted in late December 2022. Jackson, Mississippi, and dozens of water systems either had boil water mandates in place over Christmas or warned of bigger catastrophes if leaks from broken pipes weren’t found or shut off, AP reported. Further, some residents in Shreveport, Louisiana, had no water on Dec. 27, and Selma, Alabama, declared a state of emergency.

“… due to the deep freeze, water pipes are bursting throughout the city causing a major loss of water to the point that if not stopped, there is a real possibility that we will run out of water,” announced Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. on Dec. 25.

“This impact that the weather is having on America’s infrastructure is not climate change. This is the Divine Destruction of America that she cannot escape, if she does not repent,” Student Min. Haleem Muhammad stated plainly.

California, alone, has been struck with each of The Four Great Judgments described by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad over the last several weeks:

1. A 6.4 magnitude earthquake on Dec. 20, injuring 17 people and damaging roads, buildings, and knocking out power to thousands in Humboldt County, (far North Coast) California;

2. Hail pummeled Stockton as scattered thunderstorms moved across California’s Central Valley, Dec. 5;

3. More rain, wind and mountain snow the Weather Channel anticipated would impact the state Jan. 8-10, causing more flooding, debris flows, high winds, high surf and pile on feet of Sierra snow.

PG&E utilities workers clear a fallen tree which took down some power lines next to Bella Vista Elementary School in the Bella Vista neighborhood in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, January 4, 2023. (Salgu Wissmath/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

“California has one of the largest economies in the world, equal to some nations, and Allah’s hand is now touching the economy of America, as Moses prayed to Allah to affect the wealth of Pharaoh because the people that Moses and Aaron were to free, were so enamored with the riches of Pharaoh. So, this is all a part of a divine plan to free us so that we can become a nation of our own,” stated Student Min. Muhammad.

“Unfortunately, many of our people are not prepared for this, because they have not heeded the warning of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan,” he added.

Start now, urged Landra Muhammad, author of “Weathering the Storm: Disaster Preparedness—How To Survive The Fall Of America.” Many have and are focusing on the food aspect, she observed. For those not yet caught in a disaster, have some fresh, dehydrated, and freeze-dried foods for easy carrying, in addition to home-canned and store-canned food, recommended Ms. Muhammad. At this point, because people don’t know what’s going to happen next, or where they will be as it’s happening, and some people are having to escape with literally what they have on their backs, she told The Final Call.

“Think about it, if you have a backpack, you’re not running down the street or wherever it may be with a jar of canned beans. However, if you had even a small supply of dehydrated or freeze-dried beans, that’s so much lighter, and it would be easier to be mobile with it,” said Ms. Muhammad. Of course, those two items still require some form of water to rehydrate them, but it’s to balance out options, she added.

People may purchase five-gallon containers for water, as well as battery packs for some form of light in the event of inevitable power outages, she further recommended. Some rechargeable back-ups cost $20 or less, according to Ms. Muhammad. “The first thing that needs to take place is before you get stuck somewhere, you have to have some type of kit and supplies in your home, in your car, actually at work, and you have to be in tune with the possibility that something could happen at any given time,” she said.

“A lot of people online, they say The Minister said, ‘Watch the “Weather!” We’re almost beyond that point. You’d better start preparing for the weather because if you’re watching it, that means you’re potentially stuck in the middle of it,” cautioned Ms. Muhammad.

From The Final Call Newspaper

Fears that Black women are targeted are being dismissed and ignored

By Charlene Muhammad, National Correspondent
- January 3, 2023

Black women and girls are disappearing or coming up dead across the country. In some communities, Black people fear serial kidnappers or killers could be responsible but are their fears being rejected and dismissed?

“Tens of thousands of Black girls and women go missing every year. Last year, that figure was nearly 100,000. Yet their cases hardly ever grab national headlines,” NPR noted in a 2021 article. According to statistics provided by the National Crime Information Center, in 2020, 268,884 girls and women were reported missing in the United States, and a third of those reported missing were Black—far greater than their share of the overall female population. And while what has happened to these women and girls is unknown, activists argue that these cases still fail to get the kind of attention they deserve.

The Kansas City Police Department (KCPD) said missing Black women reports in the city were “completely unfounded.” That is until recently when a Black woman escaped after being kidnapped and tortured in a basement for over a month.

“We got three young ladies that are missing, ain’t nobody saying a word,” a visibly upset Bishop Tony Caldwell, of Eternal Life Church said on a Tik-Tok video. “What is the problem? Why can’t we get some cooperation? Where are our community leaders? Where’s our activists? Where’s our public officials? Where’s our police department? C’mon now!” he said.

The Kansas City Defender learned through Bishop Caldwell and other social media posts and direct messages, that Black women were reportedly going missing and/or being killed on Prospect Avenue. It is located in a predominantly Black area where resources have intentionally been diverted from Black people, said Ryan Sorrell, founder and executive director of the nonprofit, unapologetically Black, digital news organization.

A multi-county investigation began on Friday, October 14, 2022, when a 22-year-old Black woman escaped bondage after being kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and held captive in the basement of an Excelsior Springs, Missouri, man’s home.

That man is Timothy Haslett Jr., a 39-year-old White supremacist, arrested by police in October. He has been charged with first-degree kidnapping, first-degree rape, second-degree assault and is being held on a $500,000 bond. Excelsior Springs is a part of the Kansas City metropolitan area.

According to the Clay County Prosecutor Probable Cause Statement, the victim identified by the alias “T.J.” alleged that “Timothy had kept her in a small room in the basement that he had built. He kept her restrained in handcuffs on her wrists and ankles.”

Bishop Tony Caldwell, Eternal Life Church Photo: Youtube

In addition, he “whipped her while she was restrained … there were injuries on her back that were consistent with this description.” Court documents further say, “she was able to get free when he left to take his child to school.”

According to the Excelsior Citizen, a local Kansas City, Missouri news outlet, Ciara Tharp lives near Mr. Haslett and was at home with her grandmother when “T.J.” banged on the door after she escaped. The two let her in and Ms. Tharp’s grandmother helped care for the woman until authorities arrived.

“She made the comment about her [two] friends. That they didn’t make it and that he had killed them,” Ms. Tharp said. “I’m really hoping that they find evidence about her friends. If anything, she can have closure about her friends. I just hope they can find everything they need to,” said Ms. Tharp, reported the Excelsior Citizen.

The official court documents also read: “Upon the [police] officer’s arrival at the residence, they found T.J. She was wearing latex lingerie and had a metal collar around her neck with a padlock, and duct tape around her neck. T.J. advised that a man by the name of Timothy picked her up on Prospect in Kansas City at the beginning of September 2022.”

He brought her to his home, locked her in the basement and repeatedly whipped and raped her, she said.

According to news reports Ms. Tharp’s grandmother brought “T.J.” into her still-darkened living room. When Lt. Ryan Dowdy of the Excelsior Springs Police arrived on the scene and knelt down beside the woman, he saw that she was still shaking with terror, convinced her captor would hunt her down and kill her, the Washington Post reported.

The original call was that she had a rope around her neck, stated Lt. Ryan Dowdy, according to FOX 4/WDAF-TV. “She made mention of other victims but there’s no signs of them at this time that we have found. So, while we work at this scene and process through all of this, we are also trying to corroborate some of her story and make sure that if there is other victims that we try and reach out to them or their family,” said Lt. Dowdy.

In the case of “T.J.”, she escaped, but for the thousands of missing Black women and girls, their nightmares continue. There are activists in other cities that have raised concerns that there could be serial killers or abductors targeting Black females. But often these concerns and alarms are dismissed as “conspiracy theories” or “paranoia,” by media outlets and law enforcement.

Carla Coffee Wright is an activist and founder of the Missing Persons Task Force Headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri. The organization canvases communities for missing people, organizes searches and collaborates with the few other missing person organizations that exist.

“When Black people are missing, or Black people period, in Missouri they want to say, ‘Oh. They ran away,’ and everybody’s not running away,” she told The Final Call.

There should have been an “all peoples,” not just all police bulletin when “T.J.” went missing, she said.

“T.J.” was discovered around 8 a.m. on Friday, October 7, when reports of a woman banging on doors and crying for help reportedly reached the police.

“We could have 300 to 400 people come to the funeral, boo-hoo, crying ‘Oh. I wish they didn’t die,’ but my question is, to our own people, where were you when we needed you to get out and start looking in vacant houses, in the woods, or in the suburbs, in this case, for that matter?” argued Ms. Wright.

For many, this case sparked memories of a serial killer who terrorized the same area in Kansas City in 2004. A Black man named Terry Blair was convicted of strangling to death seven women in various stretches in and around Prospect Avenue. Mr. Blair was later sentenced to life in prison for the murders of six of these Black women, although authorities believe there were more victims.

“That’s why Black people were so concerned because this had happened before and they didn’t listen to us then,” said Mr. Sorrell. “That’s a testament to the type of anti-Blackness that is prevalent in our police department, which is also under investigation for racism and discrimination,” said Mr. Sorrell. The Kansas City Defender has been working collaboratively with The Excelsior Citizen on this story.

Mr. Sorrell told The Final Call the police refused to update their statement. Not only did the police issue a press release to all White news outlets and radio stations, dismissing the reports, but The Kansas City Defender was attacked, without police reaching out to the publication to investigate, alleged Mr. Sorrell.

“Everybody across the entire city now is saying that we, our news outlet, are basically liars, we are spreading clickbait and false information and that we are a non-credible news source,” stated Mr. Sorrell.

This went on for two or three weeks and no local news outlets reached out to the Kansas City Defender either, he added.

“They just took the police department’s word at face value and parroted what the police department said, and used that to bash us, to try to discredit us, and attack us. Ultimately, more importantly, then, trying to discredit our news outlet was the actual silencing of the concerns our community was raising about the Black women in our city,” Mr. Sorrell told The Final Call in a phone interview.

According to the Excelsior Citizen, a spokesman for the Kansas City Police Department, Jacob Becchina, said in an email that at the time Bishop Tony Caldwell began to raise questions, the agency did not have any official reports of Black women missing from Prospect Avenue, nor did they have any cases of murdered women, as the bishop had claimed.

A 67-year-old woman had been shot to death within that time frame, Mr. Becchina said, but she was believed to be a victim caught in a crossfire.

The Final Call contacted the Kansas City Police Department but received no response by presstime.

The overall story, how the White press took the police at their word, that it was completely unfounded without investigating is what they do, said Justice Gatson, executive director of Reale Justice Network. She was interviewed with Mr. Sorrell on a recent broadcast of Democracy Now! “I would say journalistic integrity is lacking and has been,” she stated. “But our community is ignored. Oftentimes, we’re not listened to,” she added.

Unfortunately, that’s across the country, argued Nana Gyamfi, executive director of Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), to The Final Call. BAJI is the largest Black-led social justice organization representing the nearly 10 million Black immigrants, refugees, and families living in the U.S. Atty. Gyamfi is also a member of the Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders, founded by Margaret Prescod, host of the nationally syndicated “Sojourner Truth” talk show on Pacifica Radio.

“Thinking back to how she and other sisters right here in L.A. were talking about how Black women, Black girls were disappearing, we know that there were stories upon stories of finding Black women behind schools, in dumpsters in alleys, in gas station parking lots, and yet, there was no response. There was no effort,” said Atty. Gyamfi.

When Ms. Prescod and others would raise the fact in the community that “this feels like serial killing,” they were dismissed as foolish, said Atty. Gyamfi.

According to Atty. Gyamfi, now, 20-30 years later, it was revealed that there were five to seven active serial killers in the 40 square-mile radius of South-Central, Los Angeles, at one time. But it was just their imagination, people were told. But the problem continues to happen across the country, over and over again, she argued.

“When I saw the story, I was not surprised,” she said, referring to “T.J.” in Kansas City. “But still it’s devastating because you think about all of those lives lost. You think of people tortured and all the pain and violence that people have had to go through, and you think of how many of our people are still going through that, simply because a decision has been made that Black women’s lives do not count,” Atty. Gyamfi stated.

In fact, that was the slogan for the Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders, she added.

After three grueling months, a seven-woman five-man jury found Lonnie Franklin, Jr. guilty of killing 10 young, Black women and girls over a 22-year period in 2016.

Mr. Franklin, dubbed the “Grim Sleeper” for the serial murders that occurred between August 1985 and January 2007, disposed of their partially clothed or naked bodies like trash in alleys and dumpsters around South Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

The jury deliberated just one and a half days before convicting the 63-year-old former sanitation worker on all 10 counts of first-degree murder with the special circumstance of multiple murders.

“Way before ‘Black Lives Matter’ it was ‘Black Women’s Lives Count.’ And that was true then. It is true now, and we, as a community, are going to have to do the work of pushing, pressing folk, and doing whatever we need to do to keep ourselves safe,” said Atty. Gyamfi.