(AUDIO REPLAY 2-15-2020): The Roundtable with Brother Muhammad interviews Dr. Timur Baruti, M.D.
on the subjects of his medical mission on the African continent, the
unity of diaspora Africans with continental Africans, and how the
American descendants of enslaved Africans can secure dual citizenship in
Ghana. Discussing how to start businesses for the purpose of engaging
in international trade and commerce, and why visiting the country of
Ghana is important for cultural enrichment, Dr. Baruti shares his story
of service and building for the benefit of African people world-wide.
No safe haven? The problems of domestic abuse, sexual exploitation during Covid-19 pandemic
By Charlene Muhammad National Correspondent @sischarlene
Many cities across the U.S. implemented stay-at-home orders to offer protection during the global coronavirus pandemic. But homes have not been safe for Black women suffering domestic violence or subjected to sexual harassment or exploitation.
Not only have they endured abuse, but with courts and services shut down, many fear there isn’t much help available, said advocates.
Detectives in Vallejo, Calif., said 50-year-old Raymond Jackson shot and killed his 53-year-old girlfriend and her 14-year-old daughter before turning the gun on himself in a double-murder-suicide. All three were Black. Mr. Jackson was living with his girlfriend at the time of the incident, police told The Final Call.
Her 12-year-old daughter was able to escape, according to police, who say Mr. Jackson was previously arrested for misdemeanor domestic violence and was legally prohibited from possessing a firearm.
Domestic violence was the number one topic on recent calls with San Francisco’s District Attorney Advisory Board and the Mothers in Charge advocacy group, according to Mattie Scott, a Bay Area-based victims’ rights and anti-gun activist.
“One mother on the call said she’s listening out, because she knows reports have gone up. But right now, it’s so quiet, you can’t really hear anything,” said Ms. Scott.
“Usually, it’s so loud, everybody could hear when something’s happening, but that’s even scarier (now) because you don’t know what’s going on in folks’ homes, if they’re alive or not. So, people are doing phone calls and check-ins. We are highly concerned about that and the fact that they’re not coming in for their normal meetings because of the shutdown,” she added.
Domestic violence-related tragedy has also struck close to home for Ms. Scott. Her family is mourning the death of a young relative. The mother of a three-year-old and her mother were shot by an ex-boyfriend after she’d ended a relationship when he became abusive, according to Ms. Scott.
“Because of that, people are scared! They are afraid to speak out,” she said.
Numbers vary but need for help is great
Service providers in the District of Columbia saw an initial uptick in calls for help and support, and crisis response teams have spent longer times on calls, according to Andrea Gleaves, strategic partnerships manager for the D.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Those reaching out for help need additional time and support to talk about what is happening, including their personal safety in this uncertain time, she explained.
“It’s really difficult at this point to have a really clear picture of how many calls and what the increase looks like and who is it impacting most. But we know from previous natural disasters and other sorts of public health emergencies that it’s not unusual for survivors to wait until after a crisis is over before they reach out for help,” Ms. Gleaves said.
Not all of the news, however, is bad and stats and circumstances vary depending on the place or part of the country.
Jan Christiansen, executive director of the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, believes the state’s community-based shelters and programs have done an amazing job in figuring out how to keep their doors open and quarantine people if needed.
Shelters are using hotels, the FaceTime video call application and even collecting information during food deliveries, she explained.
While some agencies across the country chart a rise in domestic violence through increased hotline calls and requests at shelters, advocates said few survivors were willing to speak to media for fear for their lives.
Josh Rubenstein of the Los Angeles police department could not offer specific numbers about increased domestic violence incidents. But, he said, calls for service were not only up for LAPD, but advocates were also seeing increased hotline calls.
In Los Angeles, existing emergency protective orders have been extended from one week to 30 days due to the pandemic, and law enforcement officials launched a “Behind Closed Doors” campaign asking people to report suspected domestic, elder and child abuse.
It asks delivery personnel, home repair workers, neighbors, family and friends to text or call 911 if they believe someone needs help. Grocery stores distribute posters which include free hotline numbers, shelter information and legal resources available to domestic violence victims.
In the Big Apple, the police department is taking reports and checking on New Yorkers in all five boroughs through phone calls instead of face-to-face visits, while sharing safety plans and code words to communicate with anyone facing danger.
Domestic violence has progressively declined since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and protections put in place with New York’s state of emergency declaration, said a police spokesperson.
Since the beginning of the year through March 31, domestic violence reports dropped to 2,809 from 2,826, and fell to 902 cases from 1,065 for March 2020 compared to March 2019, the NYPD spokesperson reported.
“New York City has seen a reduction in overall domestic violence complaints in April, though our NYPD leaders remain concerned that these figures reflect underreporting by victims,” she added.
Physical abuse from lovers or loved ones is not the only concern during the pandemic. Black women are also dealing with unscrupulous landlords. One suburban New York activist said many of her clients have been sexually pressured.
“He tells you if you’re short or something on your rent, meet him down in his office. And if you do give him sexual favors, all he’s gonna give you is $40 off your rent,” she told The Final Call.
“This is happening right today, during coronavirus! One girl I know, she pays $1,200. She has a studio, four children in this studio, and two of her kids suffer from autism, and her apartment is a mess. No doors on the bathroom, roaches, bed bugs, and he knows this is going on, and the social service system, they’re not on our side,” she complained.
This landlord has been known to assault tenants, she continued.
“He’s actually broken a tenant’s arm … broke her arm because she filed a complaint against him,” she said.
The activist asked not to be identified. While people need to be held accountable across the board and she’s compelled to speak out, she is also worried about retaliation.
“If we complain … where does she take her children? But it’s not just her! It’s all of us who live in this community, because we live in a very low income area, and that’s the Black women, so I can imagine what he’s doing to the Hispanic and undocumented that live in this building,” she continued.
There have been other reports of landlords offering to forgive rent payments in exchange for sex. The practice is illegal.
An eviction moratorium on some federally supported housing programs was included in the multi-billion dollar bipartisan federal CARES Act signed by President Donald Trump. It expires July 24, 2020.
The moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent and fees and related penalties applies to all tenants under the federal low-income housing programs like Section 8 or project-based vouchers, and programs administered by the Office of Public and Indian Housing. It doesn’t matter if employment was affected by Covid-19, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Any rent missed will still be due at the end of the eviction ban. Renters must also sign a repayment agreement.
The Trump Administration and Coronavirus Task Force also authorized the Federal Housing Administration to implement an immediate foreclosure and eviction moratorium for homeowners with federally-insured single family, reverse mortgage, and direct home mortgages until the end of April.
The moratorium applies to all properties with a federally insured mortgage, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and properties covered by the Violence Against Women Act, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council.
Nearly 40 states, commonwealths and territories have moratoriums on Covid-19 evictions, according to research led by Emily Benfer, visiting associate professor at Columbia Law School. Tenants may access a map of eviction moratoriums, which is updated daily, at https://www.rhls.org/evictionmoratoriums/. Evictions provisions vary by state.
Generally, landlords issue eviction notices, file lawsuits with courts, courts hold hearings, issue rulings, and sheriffs physically remove tenants who lose their cases. Few states cover all five stages despite the moratoriums.
New York has extended its moratorium until August 20, banned late fees and missed payment fees during that time period, and issued stays on orders or judgments. The federal moratorium does not apply to eviction proceedings in process before Covid-19.
Los Angeles County expanded its rent freeze and eviction moratorium to cover all residential and commercial tenants in the county, except in cities that have already enacted their own policies.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed banned all residential evictions until July 22, except for those due to violence, threats of violence, or health and safety issues.
Oakland’s moratorium on evictions and rent increases above 3.5 percent during the crisis is set to end on May 31.
Evictions in the District of Columbia have been stayed until May 15, according to D.C. courts.
America under ‘house arrest’
“The entire nation is virtually under house arrest. As a result of that, many people
Student Minister Ava Muhammad
have undergone dramatic changes in their way of life that we don’t see through mainstream media,” stated Student Minister Ava Muhammad, national spokesperson for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.
People are generally seeing visual images of the upper middle class to wealthy, who have the space, environment, and ability to satisfy the need for privacy, she said. They can retreat to swimming pools, basketball courts, and in-home gymnasiums, but most of the U.S. population doesn’t live like that, particularly Blacks, she observed.
Prior to Covid-19 stay home orders Blacks were often living in spaces inadequate for the number of people who stayed there, Dr. Muhammad noted. And, she continued, many deliberately stayed out all day or night to distance themselves from conflict and a lack of comfort in their apartments or homes.
“The problem is there’s been an environment created where there’s almost no relief because you’re not allowed to be outside unless you’re en route to a supermarket, a pharmacy or some ‘essential service’ and even then, not everyone has private transportation to do so,” she said.
Other people in domestic violence situations before the pandemic may have felt it was manageable, but things escalated with the virus, said Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis, an L.A.-based psychologist.
The abuser may now have the ability to restrict the movement of victims, she explained.
“This person may know all of their contacts. This person may not really let them out of their sight with all the surveillance, not to mention the psychological bondage, where they break the victim down so that emotionally, they don’t feel capable,” she explained.
Women who feel able to seek help or leave are confronted with challenges of finding somewhere to live in the middle of a crisis, Ms. Bryant-Davis said. There is the challenge of fleeing an offender and uncertainty about where to go, she said.
“Any form of abuse, mistreatment, disrespect is not love. Even the stress of the virus or if your partner was laid off, or whatever they’re facing still does not make it excusable or okay,” said Ms. Bryant-Davis.
Sadiyah Karriem, a Houston-based criminal attorney and advocate, has found that despite the abuse and having no place to go themselves, women often don’t want to put their husbands or significant others out.
The women fear there is no place for the abuser to go outside of jail, she said.
Domestic violence victims in Houston can press charges, but abusers will just be released due to efforts to keep jail populations down to avoid the spread of Covid-19, the lawyer added.
“Victims’ rights are really down because of the stay at home orders so people feel mentally that they’re forced to stay with the abuser. Children are suffering most, due to added stressors on parents, but no one’s really talking about that,” said Atty. Karriem.
“Our arrest and detention policies regarding those charged with domestic violence haven’t changed during the pandemic,” countered Jason Spencer, a spokesman for the Harris County, Texas Sheriff’s Department. Houston is in Harris County.
“We definitely respond to domestic violence calls and make arrests when we have probable cause,” he said.
Harris County Sheriff’s Department statistics indicate domestic violence calls shot up nearly 20 percent in March (1,558 calls) compared to an overall 10.28 percent decrease between January and February.
Police policy in the City of Angles hasn’t changed either, according to Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore.
“However, the courts have specifically changed the bail policy, and those that are kept in custody, and that has impacted persons who are being held, accused of domestic violence,” he admitted. “It has resulted in a number of their release, and in other instances, early release from sentences,” Chief Moore told The Final Call during a Covid-19 update call with Black community leaders and media.
Chief Moore said he’s deeply concerned about the release of some who were in custody on charges of domestic violence driven by changes to the bail policy and shortened sentences to downsize jail populations.
Police are taking steps to warn victims of perpetrators’ early release, he said. And, Chief Moore added, through philanthropic agencies, Los Angeles has been able to increase the number of domestic violence shelters by 50 percent.
Those needing shelter or services available through Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Project Safe Haven’s Covid-19 Emergency Shelter and Support Services can call several hotlines.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), connects callers to over 5,000 shelters and service providers across the country. The hotline also helps with protective orders, counseling, support groups, legal help, and more.
'We're never safe': Cop killing of woman in her home, mob actions reminders of fragility of Black life, say analysts
By Brian E. Muhammad, Anisah Muhammad and J.A. Salaam The Final Call @TheFinalCall
A police shooting in Kentucky and vigilantes in Georgia and North Carolina once again exposed how fragile Black life remains in America and the New South.
The family of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old aspiring nurse and EMT in Louisville, Ky., have filed a personal injury and wrongful death suit against police officers with the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department in what lawyers called a botched raid on her home.
The family is charging battery, wrongful death, excessive force, and gross negligence and is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. Ms. Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, filed the suit in late April against three officers involved.
“The actions of the Defendant officers were made in bad faith, were performed with a corrupt motive, were outside the scope of the Defendants’ authority, were executed willfully and with the intent to harm, and were in violation of Breonna’s constitutional and statutory rights,” the lawsuit alleges.
Calls from The Final Call to the Louisville police department for responses went unanswered.
Ms. Taylor was gunned down in her own home in what family attorneys say was a “no knock” police raid at 12:30 a.m. at the wrong address.
“Police alleged that they knocked,” Lolita Baker, a Taylor family attorney told The Final Call. “Neighbors, however, indicate that they didn’t hear police officers make an announcement,” she added.
The cops, who were in plainclothes, used a battering ram to bust into the apartment, Attorney Baker said. Breonna and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, 27, thought they were being burglarized. Mr. Walker, a licensed gun owner, responded to the chaotic scene by firing on what he believed to be intruders.
“Her boyfriend fired a shot to protect his home … and hit one of the officers involved. Again, they did not know these were police officers,” said Atty. Baker.
The police returned fire with about 20-30 shots, eight bullets fatally struck Breonna.
Mr. Walker was arrested and charged with first-degree assault and attempted murder of a police officer, but was later placed on home confinement by a judge.
The lawsuit said the target of the warrant was someone who was in police custody before the fateful encounter.
“They had the main person that they were trying to get in their custody, so why use a battering ram to bust her door down and then go in there and execute her?” asked civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is also representing Ms. Taylor’s family.
The mantra “Say Her Name” tragically came to the fore again as Ms. Taylor’s family, activists and a sick and tired community grappled with another killing of a Black woman from bullets fired by officers sworn to protect and serve the very people they’re killing.
It was two months before the March 13 killing of Ms. Taylor was brought to national attention.
Momentum is building around the country for justice for Breonna on the heels of other cases where Black lives were brutally taken, including the killing of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Ga., by a White father and son. Gregory McMichael, 64, and his 34-year-old son Travis were charged with murder and aggravated assault. Authorities took 74 days to arrest the two, though the killing was widely known.
Mr. Crump said although there were many differences between the cases of Mr. Arbery and Ms. Taylor, neither case immediately attracted widespread attention, despite efforts of activists and family members.
“It seems that there is a pattern where there is a cover-up, then facts come out later,” said Jerald Muhammad, the Nation of Islam representative for Louisville.
Black mother, son terrorized
In Wilmington N.C., armed White men and women terrorized a Black family May 3. The mob knocked on the door of Monica Shepard and her 18-year-old son Dameon, supposedly looking for a missing 15-year-old White girl. It was a volatile situation reminiscent of early to mid-20th century lynch mobs. “I was vulnerable. They had the crowd. They had the weapons. I had nothing,” Ms. Shepard told Associated Press.
“I was standing before a crowd, but I had the faith. I didn’t have any fear for myself, and I think maybe that was displayed in my eyes, because I told them, ‘I don’t care. You’re not coming in my house, period.’ ”
In the aftermath, Jordan Kita, a White New Hanover County deputy-sheriff was arrested and charged in the matter. During the ordeal he was armed, in uniform though off-duty and acting outside the scope of his authority. There were several other armed people and local authorities say enough information exists to make additional arrests. The mob was also at the wrong home.
These are among several cases of White terror perpetrated on Black people either by cops or Whites in recent months, said analysts.
“It’s a reaffirmation of what Black people already knew,” said Dr. Ricky Jones, chair of the Pan African Studies Department at the University of Louisville. “We’re never safe, from taking a jog, to sleeping in our own beds.”
America has never been serious about addressing the reality that Black people are always in danger in this country, he told The Final Call in an interview.
An indicator is the most recent bias crime numbers released by the Justice Department in 2019. Tracking single-bias hate crime incidents for the prior year 57.5 percent were motivated by race and 46.9 percent of the crimes were against Blacks.
“What we’re seeing … is another example of how Black lives can be snatched away, then that death can be ignored on every level of the so-called justice and political system,” said Dr. Jones.
“When these things happen, whether its Ahmaud Arbery or Trayvon Martin or Tamir Rice and now Breonna Taylor, we never know what the outcomes of these cases will be.”
Even when there is video evidence of Black lives being taken, such as the killing of Mr. Arbery, justice is often not visited upon Whites who take those lives.
“In America Black lives don’t matter. To many in America, we’re throwaway people,” said Dr. Jones.
If Black life were valued, he argued, a commitment to thoroughly investigate the wrongful slaughter of Breonna Taylor would not have taken months and public prompting.
“We get a lot of projected symbolism and imagery suggesting that the country has changed, that there is equal opportunity, that whatever Black people suffer is a result of collective Black failure,” said Dr. Jared Ball, professor of communications at Morgan State University in Baltimore and the author of the newly published book, The Myth and Propaganda of Black Buying Power.
“But the reality is that, when we weigh the subtext of the messaging, the subtext of the education in this country and the subtext of commercial media, both liberal and right-wing, Black people are inferior, Black people are deserving of the inequality we suffer and, or Black people are unjustly taking advantage of what White society has produced,” Dr. Ball continued.
He said White America’s class problem and White people being locked out of the economy and put into desperate financial conditions contribute to vigilante, terroristic actions.
As more people suffer and lose jobs due to the Covid-19 crisis, White people will “satisfy that desperation with a return to old fantasies of their superiority,” he said.
Reverend James Woodall, the state president of Georgia’s NAACP chapter, placed the blamed on White supremacy.
“When I say White supremacy, I don’t simply mean a series of biases that ultimately lead to a White person killing a Black person,” he said. “I’m talking about a system and institutions in our country and in our world that continue to allow the kind of racialized terror that continues to go unanswered and unaccounted for.”
He said the country is not too far from the post-reconstruction era of the 1800s, when slave catchers would see Black people in the streets and arrest them, regardless of whether they were free or not.
“That same law is what we have here with the Ahmaud Arbery situation, where a White man who identified himself as a citizen had the authority under the law, in some people’s opinions, at least, to literally arrest a young Black man and assume that he was one, not a citizen, two, a criminal, and three, worthy to be shot to death,” he said.
Rev. Woodall sees the country going to a dark place of terror, violence and war.
“The only thing Black people need to do is live. Because the burden of resolving White supremacy is not on those who are oppressed. The burden of breaking down institutions and destroying systems of White supremacist terrorism is on the oppressor,” he said.
He urged people to not indict the people of Southeast Georgia in the Ahmaud Arbery case because they have worked tirelessly to ensure that justice for Ahmaud becomes reality.
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference released a press release on May 7 calling for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the killing of Mr. Arbery.
In the press release, Dr. Charles Steele, the organization’s president, said Waycross District Attorney George Barnhill and other law enforcement officials who did not act in the best interest of the public must be removed from office.
“We do not need racists or people who cover up the actions of racists in these positions of authority and leadership,” he said. “Racism is no different than the Covid-19 virus. It is contagious, and it is a serious, silent killer in America. We have to eradicate it from our system.”
Dr. Greg Carr, chair of the African American Department at Howard University in D.C., also went back in history to define what is happening and why.
“Any random White person is effectively a deputy police person when it comes to Black people,” he said.
He defined the United States as a “state with nations in it.”
“Out of all the nations in the United States, it’s the White nations that are the least well-defined, because the irony is, in order for there to be a White nation, it has to have something to define itself against. Against the Native American nation. Against the Africans. Because if you take out the Africans, if you take out the Native Americans, the White nation dissolves,” he said.
He said the future of the United States depends on how people who live in it respond to that dissolution.
He mentioned three things Black people should do: study and follow the models of those who have had success in building a post-White world, organize around entities such as the Black church, the Black mosque, the Black school and Masonic organizations, and have faith.
The recent killing of 21-year-old Sean Reed in Indianapolis, Ind., who captured his fate on Facebook live as he fled pursuing officers and jumped out of his vehicle moments after the high speed chase, has made recent headlines.
The officers shot him at least 10 times while he lay on the ground after being tased.
Anthony Shahid, a St. Louis-based activist and veteran of the 2014 Ferguson, Mo., uprising after the police killing of Mike Brown, Jr., said he is hurt and upset at how Blacks are shot down like animals.
“They just kill us for absolutely no reason. They don’t treat us like human beings. There are certain times you can hunt for deer and you can’t shoot deer all year long. You better not get caught shooting their symbol, a bald eagle, you better not!” he noted.
“But, it’s never not a time that they’re not killing Black people. They have to kill us; they don’t need a license to kill us. They don’t need us anymore. We can’t call out racism anymore because they got a law. They are taking our lives, and not apologizing about it. They stand toe to toe and think it’s ok with what they’re doing.”
White fear of becoming extinct
Dr. A. Wayne Jones, a professor and spiritual teacher in St. Louis, said “In the light of the most recently reported incidents of the violent and vicious attacks and murders of Black man jogging and Black woman resting in her home, we must acknowledge that the illusion of legality and indignation against crime be brought into sharp unfiltered focus.
“The rage exhibited by the White perpetrators of these egregious crimes are expressions, not of hate, but of White America’s deep seated fear of Black America’s awakening from its aphasic stupor imposed and induced over the four hundred years straddling 1619 to 2019,” said Dr. Jones.
“This massive loss of employment, livelihood, and social movement has exacerbated the profound reflexive destructiveness that has always been the nature of Whites. Coupled with the realization that by 2050 he will become genetically extinct in that only four percent of his women of childbearing age are fertile, and procreation rates are woefully beneath the 2.1 percent replacement index. He fears his disappearance and is driven to take it out on those he presumes to be the most vulnerable scapegoats. We have awakened, we see the mask fallen,” said Dr. Jones.
“Donald Trump’s rhetoric has been the rocket fuel for hate groups and White supremacists. They are operating on high octane. They are feeling untouchable in the Justice Department,” added Adolphus Pruitt, St. Louis City NAACP president.
“Racial hatred and racial prejudice are deep seated in the fabric of America. While it is alarming, it is not surprising,” said Benjamin F. Chavis, president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. NNPA represents over 200 Black-owned newspapers across the country.
“I think the South is anything South of the Canadian border. The whole country is the South,” said Dr. Chavis.
He was asked if the incidents in Southern cities was indicative of old Southern ways superimposed on a New South image.
“It cannot be a New South until there’s a new America and there will not be a new America until there’s a reaffirmation of a new Black America,” he said.
“There is a history of overt violence on unspeakable levels in the South,” commented Dr. Ava Muhammad, the national spokesperson for Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.
She described the image of a New South as a “veneer of civilization” and “advancement that covers the dark underbelly” of White racism. She pointed to cities like Atlanta, Ga., and Charlotte, N.C., that have the trappings of “so-called more advanced” cities in response to Black people and people of color.
However, “a crisis always brings out the true nature of any living organism,” said Dr. Muhammad. “Because in the quest for survival, you don’t have time for the trappings of socially acceptable behavior. The true you comes out.”
What’s happening now is a manifestation of what has never gone away for Blacks in America, she added.
“You have the ‘ebb and flow,’ the violence is in cycles. A decade here and there of calm, then we’re back to the acute and overt violence again,” Dr. Muhammad observed.
“As Abraham Lincoln said, ‘they suffer from our presence.’ Our presence is a crime in America, and this is why our sister Breonna is dead,” said Dr. Muhammad.
The solution is for Black people to begin acting on the formation of self-contained communities, she continued. Separation if necessary, she argued, because for centuries Whites have been difficult to live with in peace.
“It’s a futile exercise to try and assimilate into White America and live in peace,” said Dr. Ava Muhammad.
She pointed to recent waves of racial killings of the worst kind in Texas, Georgia, Kentucky, and Indiana. “There is no safe haven for us except we have several states of our own,” she said.
“This coronavirus,” Dr. Ava Muhammad added, “as lethal as it is, it pales in comparison to the danger we’re in from White America.”