Tuesday, October 22

From The Final Call Newspaper

Victimizing victims and the smearing of Black lives

By Charlene Muhammad National Correspondent @sischarlene

When Black men, women or children are gunned down by police, oftentimes a disturbing yet familiar pattern emerges. The victim is portrayed in a negative light and is subtly or not so subtly blamed for what happened to cause their death. In many cases, past indiscretions or personal details about their lives is made front page news.

Amber Carr, center, wipes a tear as her sister, Ashley Carr, left, and attorney Lee Merritt, right, listen to Amber and Ashley’s brother Adarius Carr talk about their sister Atatiana Jefferson during a news conference, Oct. 14. Photo: AP Irwin Thompson

A White, male police officer who shot a Black woman inside her Ft. Worth, Texas home said he saw a person at the window. But later authorities claimed Atatiana Jefferson’s traumatized eight-year-old nephew, who witnessed the incident, said she took a gun out of her purse and pointed it at a window.

Activists and advocates complained police in Ft. Worth Texas, added to Black outrage and agony by attempting to blame the victim and twisting the facts.

Sadly, it wasn’t the first time that a Black life was lost and police and other authorities tried, in some way, to smear the Black victim, they added.

In case after case across the country, from Trayvon Martin to Sandra Bland, “blaming the victim” in police killings and other racially connected killings of Blacks has been a constant strategy, activists and advocates argued.

Victim blaming happens as law enforcement and media seize on any blemish in the victims’ past to paint them as somehow being worthy of death or imply the victim caused their own demise. It can taint the court of public opinion and, when used in courtrooms, may impact conclusions of jurors.

Aaron Dean, who shot Ms. Jefferson to death and resigned days after the shooting, has been charged with murder. The 34-year-old was arrested on Oct. 14 and is out of jail on $200,000 bond.

“Right now, the city of Forth Worth is actively pushing a narrative that Aaron Dean was a bad cop on a good police force. It was the ‘good police force’ that interrogated an eight-year-old child. It was the ‘good police force’ that put out a photograph of a gun to insinuate some criminality upon the victim. It was a ‘good police force’ that released a warrant that rejected this clear evidence of the two trained professionals who didn’t mention a gun, and the video … and relied instead on the word of an interrogated, terrified, eight-year-old child,” Atty. Lee Merritt, who is representing the victim’s family, told The Final Call.

The eight-year-old was Ms. Jefferson’s nephew, Zion, who was with her when she was shot to death. When Ft. Worth police put out a warrant for the arrest of the killer cop, they reported that the child said his aunt pointed a gun toward the window. A bullet, fired by then-officer Dean, came through the window and killed Ms. Jefferson.

The police interrogation of young Zion is extremely problematic, said Atty. Merritt. “The child did not have counsel present. The child did not speak with their parent. They interrogated a child after murdering his auntie in front of him. They will face legal consequences for that unlawful interrogation. It was abusive. It’s altogether a separate issue, and nothing the child allegedly said should be relied upon by the public, and it will not be admissible in court,” Atty. Merritt said.

According to the arrest warrant, Mr. Dean did not report seeing a weapon, but the other responding officer, C.A. Darch, saw Ms. Jefferson in the window.

“If the gun was a factor—and I’ll say quite frankly it was not—the firearm that Atatiana legally owned would not have been able to be seen from outside in the dark with the shades drawn. We know that, because the officer didn’t say, ‘Gun! Gun! Gun!’ as they are trained when you see a gun. He said, ‘Show me your hands,’ ” observed Atty. Merritt.

In addition, he argued, frame-by-frame video analysis further contradicts the police account in the warrant. It shows the same angle Mr. Dean would have had and Ms. Jefferson’s figure in the window, but no firearm, which would have been significant enough to report, Atty. Merritt stated. “But what he (Mr. Dean) said instead was accurate. I saw a person, and that Black woman represented a threat to me; not a firearm. They said they later recovered a firearm within the bedroom,” Atty. Merritt continued.

“Using police jargon that the officer ‘perceived a threat’ without being clear about what the threat was and releasing pictures of a gun lying on Ms. Jefferson’s floor gives the impression that she would be blamed for her own death. That is irresponsible,” said the National Black Police Association in a press statement.

The organization chided the Fort Worth Police Department for parceling out small pieces of information, and said the incident highlights another violation of procedural justice, which calls for fairness, impartiality, and unambiguousness.

“The death of Black citizens by White officers has reached critical mass. The argument that we cannot prove that race plays a part in these encounters can no longer be ignored, and community members are traumatized. That these events do not happen in other communities at the rate that they do Black communities is becoming more and more apparent, and police departments all over the country should be taking a collective introspective look at the nature and culture of their organizations,” said the National Black Police Association.

Ms. Jefferson’s death comes on the heels of the conviction of an ex-Dallas police officer’s killing of her 26-year-old neighbor Botham Jean while he was eating ice cream in his apartment. Amber Guyger, a White female, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. She claimed she thought she had encountered an intruder in her own apartment. Mr. Jean’s apartment was one floor below hers.

Despite Mr. Jean’s sterling reputation as an accounting professional and active churchgoer, Dallas police reported the presence of marijuana in his apartment shortly after his killing. Many Blacks were incensed by the report in the face of his death.

“We learned in the trial of Botham Jean that when law enforcement not only commits a crime, but others within the law enforcement community actively conspire to blame the victim and to cover up, it undermines the integrity of the entire department. You realize that it’s not a lone wolf situation,” said Atty. Merritt.

The police killing of Ms. Jefferson is indicative of a pattern and practice of police slaying then blaming Black people in Fort Worth, which makes them suspicious of police, activists say.

“I was devastated to begin with, and now I’m being equally devastated to listen to them try to twist and spin the facts to make the narrative fit their defense, as opposed to the truth,” said James Smith. He is Ms. Jefferson’s neighbor who said he called police for a wellness check, because he was concerned for his neighbors’ safety. He noticed her door was open for an extended length of time, which was unusual, he said.

“That’s bothering me, for real … I’m feeling extremely guilty, not because I committed the act, but if I had not called them, she would still be alive, not that I had anything to do with it,” Mr. Smith told The Final Call.

“Now, they’re trying to say that my call wasn’t a well care call, it was a burglary call. Then the next couple of hours, they’re saying no! It wasn’t a burglary call. It was an open structure call. Well even so! This is what’s happening right now, and I’m getting frustrated and devastated all over again, because I see what they’re doing, and the reason I’m taking your call now, is because if they wanna play games, then every chance I get, I’m gonna repeat my statement and not let them brush this up under the rug,” said Mr. Smith.

“You’ll see a headline that says, well the officer, he wasn’t rushing to a welfare call after all. Oh yes he was! When did it change? Who changed the nature of the call, and when did you change it, because nobody told me!” he added.

A disturbing pattern

Defense lawyers used false “thuggish” images to portray young, Trayvon Martin as a menacing brute who overpowered volunteer neighborhood watcher George Zimmerman who shot the 17-year-old to death in February 2012 in Sanford, Fla. Photos of Trayvon wearing a common hooded sweatshirt or “hoodie” somehow became synonymous with young, Black males being troublemakers. The teen was portrayed as the aggressor despite Mr. Zimmerman being instructed by police not to follow the teen who was headed to his father’s home.

Court filings in the case showed that part of the defense strategy involved depicting Trayvon as a “troublemaker and pot head,” wrote the late journalist George Curry.

Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old found hanging in her jail in Waller County, Texas, was painted as an “angry Black woman” for questioning why a Texas State Trooper stopped her for switching lanes without signaling and for protesting her brutal arrest on July 10, 2015.

Arresting Trooper Brian Encinia called her combative and uncooperative in his arrest report. Harry Houck, former New York Police detective, said she had an “arrogant attitude.”

In Minnesota, Philando Castile was shot and killed by St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez seconds into a traffic stop on July 6, 2016. Mr. Castile alerted the officer he was carrying a gun. The 32 year old cafeteria worker who had a permit for the weapon was still blamed by critics. Officer Yanez allegedly smelled marijuana in the car when he stopped the vehicle for a broken taillight, and then shot Mr. Castile five times point blank with his fiancée sitting next to him and her four-year-old daughter in the back seat. The defense argued Mr. Castile was high on marijuana and was pulling his gun out when the cop told him not to. The powerful National Rifle Association, staunch Second Amendment advocates criticized Mr. Castile. Mr. Yanez was acquitted of manslaughter charges.

Sacramento police officers fired 20 shots at Stephon Clark, striking the young, Muslim father of two, eight times on March 16, 2018. Prosecutors ruled the shooting lawful. District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert released text messages detailing domestic issues between Mr. Clark, 22, and his fiancée Salena Manni and information about his mental health.

Peter Bibring, senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and director of police practices for the American Civil Liberties Union of California, said it is important to distinguish between “victim blaming” and figuring out whether shootings are justified.

Under the laws in every state, or the Constitution, courts and police departments always decide whether shootings are justified by looking at the threat the officer faced and the options they had to resolve them, and some of that is going to involve considering the behavior of the victim, he told The Final Call.

“All too often, police and the media go beyond just looking at what happened in the incident and bring out accusations about criminal conduct in separate instances, often long ago, that the officer never would have known about. That’s no longer about looking at what happened in the incident and devaluing the worth of the victim and getting the public not to care about, and that’s not appropriate,” said Atty. Bibring.

Catherine Mendonca, a Cop Watch journalist with United Against Police Terror San Diego, argues victim blaming creates a divide between loved ones of armed and unarmed victims. Both obviously are a tragedy, but even when someone’s unarmed, police officers still shoot to kill, she stated.

“They don’t shoot to disarm, and they don’t put their lives on the line. There’s a lot of talk about officers put their lives on the line, but court cases have come out saying they have no duty to protect,” Ms. Mendonca told The Final Call. Multifaceted tactics are required to stop law enforcement and the system from victim blaming, she added.

Get rid of respectability politics which deem who is or isn’t worthy to be killed, and who dies based on if they approached police the right way or not, she said. Also, defund the police, said Ms. Mendonca.

“There’s always the dialogue that officers need just more training, so they don’t kill somebody, but that’s just an excuse to fund them, and that’s why they have so much power and have so much authority,” added Ms. Mendonca.

Alton Sterling, Eric Garner and even 12-year-old Tamir Rice, all died at the hands of police and were smeared or blamed for the actions of those sworn to protect and serve.

“District attorneys have repeatedly engaged in what victims’ families describe as cruel and painful smears of the dead. In some cases, prosecutors assigned to investigate killings present irrelevant and inaccurate information about victims and their pasts while exonerating the police – a kind of ‘character assassination’ that spreads in the media. The tactic, critics say, emboldens racist policing,” wrote Sam Levin in an article published by the Guardian titled, “Killed by police, then vilified: how America’s prosecutors blame victims.”

The root of the problem

The problem is rooted in the nature of Whites and Blacks, and their irreconcilable perceptions of reality, said Student Minister Dr. Ava Muhammad, national spokesperson for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. Whites address all aspects of life through the prism of White superiority and Blacks are left to choose whether they want to accept the myth of Black inferiority or fight against it. That’s the root of every problem Blacks have, said Dr. Muhammad, a former prosecutor.

“The predisposition or the tendency to find fault with the victim is always connected to the race of the victim, and it’s Black! It’s a Black person. It’s your fault because you’re Black,” said the attorney, author and radio talk show host.

“Because you’re Black and you’re inferior, you are by nature engaged in unlawful activity. You are by nature in places you should not be. You are by nature doing what you should not be doing,” she said, illustrating the cause-and-effect mindset of White supremacy that surfaces in police killings nationwide.

The dilemma in Ms. Jefferson’s case is the Ft. Worth police chief has already sided with the victim’s right to protect herself in the gun-toting state of Texas, said Dr. Muhammad. Not only do they permit gun possession, but they’re very aggressive with the ownership and use of weapons, she said.

“What you can’t do is change the reality and the facts: She was in her house! … Just like Botham Jean was in his house,” Dr. Muhammad stated.

She recalled how one juror asked why was Trayvon Martin out so late? “It was six o’clock in the evening, but she was an old White woman. What she was alluding to is when she came up, in that town, there were ‘sunset’ laws, where Black people were not allowed to be out in the street after dark. So she’s saying why would you be out in the dark? You’re asking to be killed. We don’t allow you all to be out,” she said.

“The media is always complicit in these things, because they’re the filter that things come through … It’s this paradigm of racism that permeates every aspect of life in this country, so it’s not an either or. It’s everybody … Why do we have to prove that we’re contributing to society, to your society, you, a terrorist? They don’t have to say all that when it was a White victim. All they’ve gotta do is be White.”

(Final Call staff contributed to this report.)

Tuesday, October 15

From The Final Call Newspaper

‘The Beginning of Sorrows’ Farrakhan calls humanity to atonement on 24th anniversary of Million Man March

By James G. Muhammad Contributing Editor @jgm3000

CHICAGO—The stench of Satan’s world has fouled the whole of humanity and the earth is “entering a new day” where God and His Christ have come to take over rulership, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan announced to a cheering crowd at Christ Universal Temple church during the 24th anniversary observance of the Million Man March.

Mosques, churches and synagogues have become full of devils because of the effect of Satan and his lifestyle, and congregations have become full of people who read and quote scripture but refuse to live the word of God, he said, from a venue that was live streamed and viewed internationally.

“The Bible calls the human being the glory of God, but all of us have fallen short of the glory of God. Satan is like a snake and a skunk that has urinated on the human family. Satan has done a job on us. The rule of the earth under the wicked has been a horrible nightmare,” he said.

The stench of Satan’s world can’t be covered up with white garments, a suit, a bow tie, a cross or a collar, he said. The world is totally messed up, so where are the righteous; we’re in the church, the mosque, the synagogue, but Satan laughs, he added.

The Black man and woman in America are like the “dry bones in the valley” who have fallen so low that they are considered “lost souls” by God and His prophets, the Minister said. But it is the Black man and woman of America that God has come to resurrect and make rulers in the world, he added Oct. 13.

Calling the people of the world’s great monotheistic faiths—Christians, Muslims and Hebrews—back to the right path, the Muslim leader reflected on the day 24 years ago when the call was made for one million Black men to come to Washington, D.C., to atone for their sins and their failure to carry out their responsibilities.

“We called for one million men to come to Washington, not to picket, not to beg the government but to atone to God for our failure as men to shepherd our families, to be the guides for our people, good husbands for our wives, good fathers for our children,” he said.

When you don’t live right you bear the burden of your sins, the Minister said. “All of us are on our own cross. We’re walking upright and living downright funky and the battle is raging inside ourselves. We’re in a constant struggle against the flesh.”

“Allah is calling us. He doesn’t want us to go down with the devil, but the devil wants us to go down with him,” the Minister warned.

America under judgment

America is under the judgment and God is using the weather to curtail her resources, Min. Farrakhan said. The country is $22 trillion in debt that President Trump has no intention to pay, he said.

“That’s why he put $700 billion into the military. America will say to the world it owes, ‘don’t even try to collect. I’ll blow you off the face of the earth.’ He’s trying to frighten the world,” the Minister said. “But in a few minutes the bubble is going to burst.

“So begging the government is folly today. Whatever you think you want from the government ask them can they produce it. They’re broke,” he said.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said God will use the weather against America, the Minister said, explaining that temperatures would drop from 70s and 80s to below freezing in just a few hours.

“Now it’s happening,” he said. This past spring 19 million acres of land failed to be planted because of the weather, and the land that was planted was planted late in the season. Now they expect two feet of snow in the Midwest, he said.

“What they thought would come out of the earth is buried under the snow. So, the words of the Master are coming true,” he said.

The 24th chapter of Matthew in the Bible speaks of wars and rumors of wars, famine, pestilence, earthquakes and nations rising against nation, the Minister said, but it’s just the beginning of sorrows.

“Have you seen the storm clouds of war gathering? They’re turning their pruning hooks into spears,” he said.

“America, you have to answer. You have cooked a hell of a meal for others, but now you are going to have to sit down and eat what you cooked for others because it’s all coming back to you,” he said.

The Minister explained the purpose of a 2018 trip he took to Iran as President Trump increased sanctions on the Muslim nation. He said the 90 million people of Iran live for the return of Al Mahdi (the Self-Guided One) who would return with the Messiah to turn the people back to God.

President Trump targets Iran as a so-called sponsor of terrorism; ask Mr. Trump to show in Iran’s history where they attacked another nation trying to take their wealth as America does, the Minister said.

Since Iranians expect the return of Al Mahdi, Min. Farrakhan went with a message that Al Mahdi had visited Black people in America and raised up the Honorable Elijah Muhammad as His Messenger and Messiah. “And I represent the two of them to you,” he told Iranian leaders. The Minister also told them that America is number one on Al Mahdi’s list to be destroyed.

“Since you’ve been looking for the Mahdi and I come to you representing him then it would be wise for you to study me, study the message, study the man who taught me, study the two that back me then answer your question, is he the Mahdi,” he told Iranian leaders.

“He comes to set down every tyrant. He comes to set justice in the earth,” he said.

Demonstrating how one allows Jesus to take over his or her life, the Minister explained that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad once asked if he would give up his popularity as a musician for him (Elijah)?

“Without hesitation I said, ‘yes sir.’ When I gave up all that, then I could put myself in a position to be fed that he could make me into himself. Jesus can’t use you if there’s anything in your life you love more than him and his Father,” the Minister said.

“I say this to Mr. Trump. Don’t even think about harming me. The day you think it and move to do it, that’s the day you sign your own death warrant with God,” he warned.

Home to the Nation
For decades, Christ Universal Temple—under the leadership of its founder the late Rev. Dr. Johnnie Colemon—has opened its doors to Min. Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, student Minister Ishmael Muhammad said in opening remarks, a statement repeated by senior pastor Derrick B. Wells.

“On behalf of the entire Christ Universal Temple family, I am happy to welcome our Nation of Islam family home, welcome home. The Rev. Dr. Johnnie Colemon is my spiritual mother and I’m blessed to have as my spiritual father, your spiritual father, the Honorable Minister Farrakhan,” Rev. Wells said. “I am truly your brother, and this is truly your home. Happy anniversary. I pray that Almighty God, Allah, will move in a mighty way on this afternoon.”

Student Minister Tairah Muhammad, 22, who was asked to represent the generation that wasn’t born during the time of the march, said when you see the magnitude of the Million Man March, some would call it a phenomenon.

“But there’s really nothing questionable about what happened that day because when you have a man backed by the Supreme Being you can expect the extraordinary,” she said.

“What does that day and the principles of atonement mean for me as a 22-year-old Black woman and my generation? The principles laid out were eternal. The principles of atonement and reconciliation are forever. This is how we learn to love ourselves and learn to love God.

“My generation has grown up under such hate and the violence that permeates our community is of such magnitude that all we see is wrongdoing. We are surrounded by hate and conflict when all we want is love and peace,” she said.

A short video titled “Project Separation” was shown and laid out the case for Black descendants of slaves to be separated in a land of their own and supported for 20-25 years by the U.S. government as reparations as laid out in the Muslim Program of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Project Separation is a national campaign where town hall meetings are held to gauge the opinions of Blacks on the issue.

Describing the Million Man March as “the greatest gathering in history,” Min. Ishmael Muhammad said, “never in the history of the world has a call been made for a million men and a million men answer the call bringing with them nearly another million of their brothers.”

Oct 16, 1995 fell on a Monday and many said if you want it to be successful you should have it on a Saturday or Sunday, Min. Ishmael Muhammad said. “But this was not the call of a man. This was the call of God through a man for all of us,” he said.

Acknowledging the national and local leaders who helped to organize the march, Min. Ishmael Muhammad asked the men to stand and give a round of applause to the many women throughout the country who encouraged their men and sons to attend the march.

The Day of Atonement is not a 24-hour day, but it represents a period of grace and mercy from God for a sin-sick nation to acknowledge their shortcomings and seek forgiveness, he said.

“They were expecting a riot or uprising, but the very opposite occurred. It was heaven that day,” he said.

Before God punishes a people for their rebellion, He always extends mercy, Min. Ishmael continued as he introduced Min. Farrakhan. A watchman is placed among the people and when he sees the hand of God coming against the people, the watchman alerts the people that God’s wrath is at the door.

“Our beloved Minister has been a faithful warner. If America fulfills the modern Babylon, the modern Egypt, then there has to be a modern man of God. The Minister has given his all to us. He has kept the faith; he has fought the good fight. He has not compromised the message and warning of God given to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad,” he said.

Tuesday, October 8

From The Final Call Newspaper

Show me the money: Will college athletes be granted chance to reap financial reward for their play?

By Bryan 18X Crawford -Contributing Writer-

The biggest talk in the world of college athletics isn’t who the number one team or player is in the country, it’s if the NCAA has finally been stripped of its authoritarian power to prevent student athletes from capitalizing off their name and likeness. It’s the very thing the powerful athletic collegiate governing body has done for years—bringing home billions of dollars in the process and penalizing young men and women for accepting things like meals, or anything of value related to their position as high-profile athletes.

Graphic: Bigstock.com

However, while the “Fair Pay to Play Act” is the latest shockwave to hit the world of college sports, the reality is this fight has been ongoing for more than two decades. And, it all started with something as innocuous as an electronic video game.

California Governor Gavin Newsom may have signed the Fair Pay to Play (Calif. Senate Bill 206) act into law on Sept. 30, but it was former UCLA basketball standout Ed O’Bannon who got the ball rolling in 2009 when he filed a lawsuit against the NCAA and the Collegiate Licensing Company, accusing both of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. That act regulates competition among enterprises and prevents agreements that lead to anticompetitive conduct. Simply stated, the Sherman Antitrust Act essentially ensures the preservation of a competitive marketplace.

What caused Mr. O’Bannon to put his name and reputation on the line to become the lead plaintiff in a case against a multi-billion-dollar entity?

In 2009, EA Sports released “NCAA Basketball ‘09” which featured the 1995 UCLA National Championship team in which Ed O’Bannon was the star player. All of the players’ heights, weights, positions, jersey numbers and even features mirrored their real-life counterparts. The only difference? There were no names associated with the players, but you knew exactly who they were when you played the game.

“I played basketball at UCLA in the 1990s and loved almost every minute of it. I went on to play in the NBA, but my true passion stayed with college basketball. After a decade in pro hoops, I retired in 2005,” Mr. O’Bannon wrote in a recent op-ed for Sports Illustrated. “A few years later, I saw myself featured in a college basketball video game that sold for $60. I hadn’t asked to be in the game. And no one had offered to pay me, or any other current or former players who were ‘in the game’ as the game’s advertisement boasted,” stated Mr. O’Bannon.

“That experience led to me to bring a lawsuit against the NCAA ... . This wasn’t about money. This was about taking someone’s identity and profiting from it. And it was about changing the rules to not let that happen again,” he added.

Julius Hodge was a highly ranked, highly recruited high school basketball player from Harlem. In 2001, he was a McDonald’s All-American and went on to play collegiately at North Carolina State, and professionally in the NBA and overseas. He too remembers seeing and playing with his own likeness in the game and thinking how someone was making money off him while he never saw a dime.

“I was a sophomore in college playing this video game, and I see myself at 6-7, number 24 in a red jersey, playing in the ACC for NC State. I know that’s me, and I’m not able to monetize that, but I know that someone else can and has, it’s not a good feeling,” Mr. Hodge told The Final Call. “I stopped playing basketball video games because of it and I haven’t since then.”

While this issue of monetizing real people’s likenesses and not paying them for it may have started with video games, it’s reach is much broader. Colleges, universities, and the NCAA rake in millions of dollars in annual revenue from the sale of merchandise made popular by athletes as part of apparel deals they sign with sneaker companies like Nike and Adidas, which sponsors athletic programs and provides athletes with branded products.

Calif. Gov. Newsom signing legislation on new bill on LeBron James’ show “The Shop.” Photo: Youtube

Schools routinely sell on campus and online, jerseys, shirts, hats and other items that have been popularized by star athletes. They keep 100 percent of the profits, giving nothing in return to the athlete whose performance, name recognition and popularity is the reason the item even sold in the first place. But it goes even deeper than merchandise, or even the athlete’s on men’s teams. Women are penalized too.

In 2017, twins Dakota and Dylan Gonzalez were forced to forgo their final year of eligibility at UNLV because under NCAA rules, the sisters wouldn’t be allowed to play basketball, while still pursuing interests such as modeling, music and creating a clothing line, all of which capitalized on their social media popularity, and would’ve paid them as student athletes and members of the UNLV Lady Rebels basketball team.

“For me I think the rules and regulations are 100 percent the reason why we didn’t want to continue to play,” Dylan Gonzalez told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in an interview. “We personally felt like if we would have been able to take on the opportunities outside of basketball, then we would have still continued to commit ourselves to playing for the last year that we had,” she pointed out.

“We are bred and conditioned to believe that college is what’s going to get you ready for that start in your life after school,” Dakota Gonzalez added. “So, as a student-athlete when you feel like you’re being held back from that, where are you really getting an advantage? Because even though I’m getting an education, I don’t have a resume.”

While many people associated with sports at all levels support college athletes being able to monetize their own likenesses the same way the NCAA has for decades, there are many detractors who feel the decision made by California, which is also gaining traction in states like Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio and others, will ruin college sports and the NCAA as we know it.

Tim Tebow was an All-American quarterback at the University of Florida who won the Heisman Trophy and led the Gators to two SEC and NCAA football championships. He was completely against the Fair Pay to Play Act.

“When I was at the University of Florida, I think my jersey was one of the top-selling jerseys around the world. It was like Kobe, LeBron and then I was right behind them. And I didn’t make a dollar from it, but nor did I want to because I knew going into college what it was all about,” Mr. Tebow said on ESPN’s morning sports talk show, “First Take.”

Mr. Tebow was soundly criticized for it, largely based on his upbringing which differs from that of a large percentage of college athletes who drive revenue and don’t come from the same situation as he did. Tim Tebow grew up on a 40-acre farm outside Jacksonville. His parents had a swimming pool in the backyard, a basketball court in the driveway, and they built their son a batting cage because some say he was a better baseball player than quarterback. Mr. Tebow, who is White, was given every opportunity to become an elite athlete; opportunities that athletes from less privileged backgrounds—many who are Black—the same ones fighting to not be pimped by the NCAA system, aren’t afforded, critics argue.

So, what is the harm in allowing college athletes to make money off their likenesses? Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA whose base salary is reportedly over $2 million a year says the bill is an existential threat to the college sports model. But that’s exactly what it was designed to be. Making 100 percent of the profits off the hard work and sweat of another is akin to slavery.

The California bill will give all student athletes enrolled in public and private four-year colleges and universities in California the right to their name, image, and likeness, allowing them to earn money from sponsorships, endorsements, and other activities related to their hard work and talent—a right that all other students and California residents have, says the legislation.

It would prohibit colleges from enforcing NCAA rules that prevent student athletes from earning compensation. Receiving income would also not affect a student’s scholarship eligibility.

The bill had bipartisan support, passing the state Assembly on unanimous 73-0 vote and winning final approval from the state Senate on a 39-0 vote before being signed by the governor.

Another argument is Fair Pay to Play kills amateurism. However, many former college athletes think a bill like this would help improve amateurism and make college sports that much more competitive in the long run.

“I have a soft spot for the value of a college scholarship, but over the last couple of years, I’ve taken a different stance to a certain degree because now I see how much money the NCAA has made off collegiate athletes and they’re not able to see any of those funds,” Antoine Walker, another former McDonald’s All-American who won an NCAA championship, NBA championship, and who was the cover athlete of an NBA basketball video game, told The Final Call.

Former NBA player Antoine Walker (c) with Michael Jordan and Grant Hill. Antoine Walker was a former college basketball star and NBA champion. He values college education for athletes but argues they should also be allowed to make money while pursuing their education. Photo: Youtube

“I don’t think allowing college athletes to make money in this way will hurt the NCAA because people love college sports, and this can only make it better. In basketball for example, these schools bring in, sometimes three or four future pros every year and they only compete for one year before they turn pro for financial reasons because they have to take care of their families,” said Mr. Walker.

“But what if they could’ve made money off their likeness in school? They might have stayed. Fans could’ve gotten a chance to see them play for another year. That brings in more money for the school and the NCAA.”

Ed O’Bannon agrees. “If a college athlete signs an endorsement deal, won’t he or she be more likely to attend class, since if their grades fail, they’ll be kicked off the team and they’ll lose their endorsement deal? Also, won’t college athletes be more inclined to stay in college since they are gaining from endorsements while there,” O’Bannon said in Sports Illustrated.

The Fair Pay to Play Act has nothing to do with athletic scholarships. It wouldn’t take a dime away from schools. It’s all about the relationship between college players and companies that would like to pay for their endorsement or sponsorship, state supporters of the legislation.

Julius Hodge echoed the sentiments of Ed O’Bannon, Antoine Walker and the Gonzalez twins, and expounded on it saying, a move like this actually helps these student athletes become better business people; especially as they navigate and maneuver through the world of high-stakes sports and athletics.

“I think the NCAA should look at it this way: you can have a young student athlete learning the world of business and how to be business savvy at 18-years-old. This would really introduce them to the real world, as opposed to taking a stance that something like this is hurting amateurism of collegiate sports,” said Mr. Hodge. “The NCAA could look at it as we’re helping our student athletes to be their own business owners. That’s something they could learn that will help them for the rest of their lives,” he added.

Gov. Newsom signed the bill on “The Shop,” a television show hosted by NBA superstar LeBron James, who supports the bill. As a basketball phenom in high school, Mr. James states if he would have played college ball, neither he or his single mother would have reaped the financial benefits a university and others would have made from his image.

“Me and my mom, we didn’t have anything,” Mr. James told reporters. “We wouldn’t have been able to benefit at all from it. And the university would’ve been able to capitalize on everything that I would have been there for that year or two or whatever,” he added.

“I understand what those kids are going through. I feel for those kids who’ve been going through it for so long, so that’s why it’s personal for me,” he added.

The Fair Pay to Play Act won’t become effective until 2023. In that time, it’s unclear how many more states will pass similar laws, especially since the NCAA would be barred from banning member schools and their athletes from competing as a result. But two things are certainly clear. The first is the NCAA business model will never be the same. The second is the attitude and mindsets of college athletes have been changed forever because for the first time, they finally know how much they’re worth and they’re ready to cash in.

(Final Cal staff contributed to this report.)

Tuesday, October 1

From The Final Call Newspaper

God’s anger is kindled and the day of justice has arrived

By Starla Muhammad -Managing Editor-

Minister Farrakhan addresses City of Grand Rapids, Michigan

The sanctuary of True Light Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan was filled to capacity Sept. 24 for a message delivered by Minister Farrakhan five years after the mysterious and troubling death of Student Minister Robert Dion Muhammad. Photos:Andrea Muhammad

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan delivered a serious and sobering message of warning to the City of Grand Rapids from the pulpit of True Light Baptist Church to a packed audience. The time is up for the powers that continue perpetuating injustice in the world, he cautioned.

Even before doors of the church opened, lines of people began forming outside anxious to hear and see the Nation of Islam minister. His Sept. 24 visit came five years after the mysterious death of Student Minister Robert Dion Muhammad, who served as the local representative of the Nation of Islam in Grand Rapids. The 40-year-old’s body was pulled from Muskegon River, September of 2014 after an outing with co-workers.

A wrongful death lawsuit filed against seven of his co-workers by his widow Yreva Muhammad was dismissed but there is hope it will be reviewed by the Michigan Supreme Court. Authorities state her husband accidently drowned, but the lawsuit alleges Robert Muhammad’s co-workers assaulted him.

Attorney Sa’ad Alim Muhammad Photo: Haroon Rajaee

In November 2017, Judge J. John Rossi dismissed the case stating there was not enough evidence presented to go to trial, calling the claim “frivolous.” He also ordered that $1 million be paid to the other side as a judgement. But, Atty. Sa’ad Muhammad added, the judge assigned the judgment and attorneys’ fees without reviewing any documentation about the other side’s costs for legal representation. An appeal of the case was subsequently filed with the Michigan Appellate Court, which was denied, explained Atty. Sa’ad Alim Muhammad. A petition for the case to be reviewed by the Michigan Supreme Court is pending.

“The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said, ‘when truth fails to bring justice about, truth should always lead us to a just conclusion, but if the forces of evil are so strong that truth falls in the street and is not allowed to bring about justice, then the God of truth and the God of justice must physically remove from power the forces of injustice,’” said Min. Farrakhan. That time has arrived! he stated.

“I don’t come to this city or any city in America like a beggar who doesn’t know power to remove the wicked! No. No. I came here tonight to let you know the end has come,” said the Minister, taking his subject from the Book of Revelations, Chapter 11 verse 18 which states, “The nations are angry, and thy wrath has come. It is the time of the dead that they should be judged and given justice.”

In the U.S. and Middle East and other countries of the earth, anger is brewing due to the injustices perpetrated by those in powerful positions on the backs of Black people, women and the poor, he explained.

Min. Farrakhan touted the bravery and outspokenness of Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate change activist from Sweden, who along with other young people mobilized millions of people around the world in a global climate strike. The teen recently rebuked world leaders in a Sept. 23 address at the United Nations General Assembly in New York at the Climate Action Summit.

Robert Muhammad

Those in power are not the author of the climate and cannot do anything to change it, the Minister explained.

“The young girl, Miss Greta Thunberg from Sweden, was addressing the rulers and I have to tell little Greta, they hear you, but they don’t have the power to change the climatic conditions. But you went to the right people because the rulers have created the climate of war and hatred and bloodshed on the earth so the response from heaven is now answering the cry of the children.”

God’s anger has been kindled, He is angry and His wrath is here, as it is described in scripture.

“He’s angry and His anger is strong and vengeful. It’s retributory punishment for many offenses, it is the beginning of a divine chastisement and that’s why I chose to come to this city to tell the Black and the White, the Brown, the Red and the Yellow, the rich and the poor, the powerful and those who have no power, your days of playing with God is finished!”

Jesus, the woman and trials of the Believer

The Bible and Holy Qur’an are both full of examples of the trials and tribulations experienced by people of faith. Those who call themselves Believers regardless of whatever faith traditions they practice are not exempt from trial, Min. Farrakhan explained.

“You cannot think that because you’re a Christian or a Muslim that you shouldn’t be tried. We’ve come under a time of great trial. So, the Qur’an asked the question: ‘Do men think that they will be left alone on saying we believe and will not be tried while others were tried before you? This is so that we may know those of you who are liars from those who speak truth,’ ” he continued.

Yreva Muhammad Photo: Haroon Rajaee

Yreva Muhammad and her family are Believers, said Min. Farrakhan. “Don’t you ever think that because you try to do righteousness that God shouldn’t try you,” he added. “This is how God knows whether you’re his. He’ll bring misfortune into your life and watch to see how you handle it. Some of us can only follow God if he does everything we want him to do.”

God allowed Jesus to be arrested, put on trial, mocked, abandoned by his disciples and those that claimed to love and be with him and he was ultimately crucified. His finest hours were not the hours in Galilee, at the riverside or even when he was casting out demons, said the Minister. “His finest hours were when he was on the cross. Oh, Christians, I want you to listen to your brother since they don’t want you to believe that I know Jesus. That’s why they hate me because I know Jesus, very well.”

Women of the earth have also been abused and misused but are rising up, the Minister pointed out. The world was blessed through the womb of Mary, mother of Jesus, yet women are still relegated to second-class citizenship and mistreatment in most parts of the world, a reality Min. Farrakhan also addressed.

“Women have been catching hell a long time. I’m not going to let nobody that’s with me continue to make women suffer out of the ignorance of the world in which we live. We, the people. When did that take place? Women aren’t part of the people? We, the people and women just got the right to vote less than a hundred years ago, or a little more than a hundred years ago?” the Minister asked rhetorically.

“There has to be a revolution in the world to let the world know that the mistreatment of women has sentenced this world to death. You have the #MeToo Movement. How many women have been abused by men even men that they respected and honored, their own fathers? How many women and girls are being abused while we sit here watching girls being trafficked throughout the earth? Men selling young girls to be put into sex trafficking. That’s real. That’s going on. How do you think they should be handled?” 

Family members of Student Min. Robert Muhammad. Front row from left: daughter Nikah 13; daughter Ilyasa 7; niece Zamina 8; daughter Shahada 11; daughter Mizan 5, mother Karla and wife Yreva. Second row from left: sister April; nephew Akil 10; son Najm 15; son Toussaint 17 and son Nioveh 21 with other supporters at True Light Baptist Church. Photo: Andrea Muhammad

A warning to the wicked and the manifestation of losses

As extreme weather events continue hammering the United States and abroad, none of the rulers or their scientists and meteorologists can accurately predict the weather, said Min. Farrakhan. “Something is going on,” he warned. “Six hurricanes lining up one behind the other in the Caribbean. What are you doing, Father? ‘I’m destroying your playground.’ ‘Please don’t touch Mar-a-Lago.’ He’ll let you worry about what you think you got but I’m here to tell you, the day of judgement has arrived,” the Minister cautioned.

Hurricane Dorian which struck the Bahamas in late August, was the most powerful storm cyclone on record to strike the islands and is regarded as the worst natural disaster in the country’s history. “When that hurricane lifted, nothing was left. People lost everything. Surely man is in loss. This is the day of the manifestation of losses,” said Min. Farrakhan.

“When I looked at the Bahamas and saw all my Black brothers and sisters, I wept and I begged God to show mercy—and He waited for me to calm down as if to say to me ‘have not you seen the abundance of mercy that I have sent to all of you?’ Do you think you’re alive because God has not shown mercy? And you continue to go your way and do evil as though you never have to pay for that. He wants to forgive you but some of us will not allow him to because we won’t repent.”

A man of truth and his resonating message

Student Minister Sultan Muhammad of Grand Rapids, Mich. delivers remarks. Photo: Andrea Muhammad

Min. Farrakhan’s visit to the second largest city in Michigan was highly anticipated but it was not without controversy. Baseless claims made by those who continue to misrepresent and misinterpret Min. Farrakhan’s uncompromising stance on truth rooted in scripture once again became an issue. The 86-year-old Muslim leader was previously scheduled to speak at a different church, but that church cancelled the invitation stating the Muslim leader’s “views regarding Jews and others” were “contrary” to their own. Local NBC affiliate Channel 8 posted a press release attributed to the church that stated it valued free speech but was “equally committed to defending the equality and dignity of all people, including women and those in the LGBTQ community.”

These are contrary to some of Min. Farrakhan’s professed values, the statement continued. Yet the Minister previously spoke in Grand Rapids at that church. No one went away with the feeling that “this is a hater,” said Min. Farrakhan referring to his previous visit. He thanked Rev. Dr. Carl Pace, pastor of True Life Baptist Church, and its board and congregation for opening up the doors and welcoming him to speak and thanked Sultan Muhammad, the NOI student minister in Grand Rapids.

“What was the reason for my rejection? ‘He has views that we don’t agree with.’ If I could ask, reverend, what views do I have that you as a Christian disagree with?” asked Min. Farrakhan.

Audience listens to sobering message of guidance from Min. Farrakhan. Photo: Andrea Muhammad

“Do you mean to say if Jesus visited Grand Rapids, you would tell Jesus the way you talk, Jesus, about homosexuality or lesbianism, you can’t come to this church that bears your name? This didn’t mean that Christ did not love the homosexual community. That’s not true. He said he came to save his people from their sins. He didn’t come to judge us for falling away from the glory of God. He said, even though your sins be like scarlet, yet, he would wash them white as snow in His blood,” said Min. Farrakhan.

Jesus did not come to judge and punish people for their sins but save them from their sins, he explained. “So, the Jesus that I know, the Jesus that I am familiar with, he wouldn’t turn a homosexual away from him.”

Contrary to how Min. Farrakhan continues to be misrepresented and slandered those that filled the pews at True Light Baptist Church were touched by the key themes of his message.

Brittany Roland is a medical assistant and homeschooling mother from Grand Rapids. She found the Minister’s teaching on the weather riveting. “In Michigan the tornados and the different things that we’ve had here that we don’t usually have and the multiple hurricanes right behind each other. Everything he touched on was amazing. I’m looking forward to the winter here, to see what happens,” she said.

Rev. Dr. Carl Pace, pastor of True Life Baptist Church Photo: Haroon Rajaee

Ms. Roland attended the program with her husband Cam, a truck driver. “I resonate with his (Min. Farrakhan’s) whole spirit. Everything that comes out of his mouth, everything that he says, I resonate with. I’ve been listening to him for years. I brought my family along and they’ve seen the change in myself when I first heard the Minister. I was introduced by a brother of mine about four or five years ago and it just changed my life,” said Mr. Roland.

Pastor Idella Williams stated she along with another local pastor approached True Life about hosting Min. Farrakhan. “He’s Church of God in Christ and I’m Spiritual and now we’re coming in with the Muslims. God said he’s going to bring all of his people together. The war is now. It’s time for us. If we want justice, it starts with us and we have to make that change,” said Pastor Williams. She is Christian and appreciates the Minister’s exegesis on Jesus. “Jesus said he is that I am and so when he talks about Jesus it more assures me we’re on the right track.”

For Myron Guyton, a teacher and basketball coach, what stood out was the Minister’s views on climate change and the treatment of women.

“There’s a lot of bad things happening to women for years. They say we are the people, but a lot of women are unprotected. It’s good that he spoke on that. We come from women. They’re the heart and soul of our lives.”

Queen Roshae, a natural hair stylist traveled five hours from Columbus, Ohio. She too was moved by Min. Farrakhan’s view on women and appreciated what she called the “diverse simplicity” of his message. 

Attorney Sadiyah Evangelista Karriem and Attorney Abdul Arif Muhammad were on the legal team for Yreva Muhammad. Photo: Andrea Muhammad

True Light Baptist Church was filled to capacity for the Minister’s message. Photo: Andrea Muhammad

“Being a sister and being a sister in the business of women and hearing many of my sisters’ cries of mistreatment, misjustice and then the suffering of women in general, I really appreciate when that is recognized and its imperative to our overcoming—the woman being in her rightful stature,” she said.

“I have six children of my own and I’ve had to remove myself, separate myself just to raise mine up in peace. Go off to the country, come out of the city, change friends, guard myself and I appreciate the brother standing and recognizing, because I’m tired of doing it alone,” she added, her voice quivering slightly and tears brimming her eyes.

The Minister’s revelation that Jesus’s finest hour was suffering on the cross, resonated with Student Minister Dr. Wesley Muhammad, “tenfold,” he said. “He (Jesus) came to make us into him so we have a cross and we run from it but that gives a perspective that our finest hour is on the cross,” he said.

“That just blew me away when he said that because all Black people suffer. Black people are in pain, but Jesus gives us an understanding of what Black people go through. What the family of Minister Robert Muhammad is going through, they are suffering but it’s their finest hour in the depths of their pain. That resonated so deeply with me,” said the author, researcher and member of the NOI Executive Council. (Read transcript of Min. Farrakhan’s message beginning on page 20.)