Author: barrington57

If They See Us

Opinion by Barrington Salmon

If They See Us

By Barrington M. Salmon

Image result for exonerated five

‘The presumption of innocence is vaporized by the hot glare of racism.’

When it comes to the issue of race, America is in a constant state of cognitive dissonance. The dominant majority, through miseducation, a lack of exposure or willful ignorance always seems to be surprised and thrown for a loop when stories like the Exonerated Five grab headlines.

For a moment or two, as they hear or see cases of Black women, men and children railroaded by a system that pretends to be fair and equal, they are aghast, unsettled, unsure of what to do or say.

Yet for generations, Africans in America – children and adults – have been sacrificed on the altar of greed, domination, cruelty and casual racism.

People of African descent in this country have lived with the reality that the color of their skin has marked them in indisputable ways, such as being guided to the school-to-prison pipeline, the troubling disparity in the arrest and sentencing of Black and white people for the same crimes/offenses; the naked racism and the structural racism in the so-called criminal justice system that ensures that the majority of America’s 2.3 million incarcerated individuals are Black and brown.

Yet we are living in a time when a harsh light is being shined on much that’s been hidden or obscured. Acclaimed director Ava DuVernay is owed a debt of gratitude for her commitment to exposing the truth about what this country is and has done to Black people. On the heels of 13TH, an award winning documentary which explores the history of racial inequality in the prison system, she produced the heart-rending miniseries that aired on Netflix last month to much acclaim and which detailed what has been called by some “one of the most egregious miscarriages of justice in history.”

I applaud her because she has been a drum major for social justice using her platform of film to force this country to confront the Original Sin of slavery and the many “children” this odious institution has spawned.

We must never forget that the five males whose youth was snatched away were CHILDREN: Antron McCray was 15; Kevin Richardson, 14; Yusef Salaam, 15; Raymond Santana, Jr. 14; and Kharey (Corey) Wise was the oldest at 16.

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The detectives rounded up and held the boys and interrogated them for between 14 to 30 hours – without a lawyer or their parents present – telling them that if they confessed, they could go home; played them off against each other; and beat and brutalized some of the young men.

A New York Times story explained what the now grown men have talked about very openly: “Locking up those boys for a gang rape that had not happened but that most of society believed in was the same as planting a bomb in their lives that never stopped exploding. That story is told without blinking in “When They See Us,” and will enlighten even people who have followed these events.”

The five were convicted and jailed despite there being forced confessions, no physical or forensic evidence connecting them to the crime, no DNA evidence, no evidence placing the boys at the scene, but there was evidence that placed the real rapist, Mattias Reyes at the scene that investigators ignored while they pursued convictions for the five.

The conversations among and between Black mothers and fathers, with their children, with friends and relatives that has come after the Netflix miniseries were searing, heart-breaking, agonizing, excruciating. Many of us couldn’t watch the whole thing because those boys were us, they were our children.

I Googled several magazines and got a variety of perspectives that captured the maelstrom in which the boys were thrown. Ken Burns: “I think that the “Five” became the Central Park Five because they were the most vulnerable to the system. None of them had ever been in trouble with the law and their families had never been in trouble with the law, so … when seasoned detectives brought them in for questioning, they were exposed to the techniques that these detectives use so effectively.”

And in an interview with NPR, DuVernay said about the prosecution: “The city never apologized; they settled. No one on the side of the prosecution ever apologized. They’ve stuck by the fact that even though the real man came out and said: I did it, I did it alone. Even though all of that physical evidence was from him, was matched to the victim, and it was in fact him, and only him, these people still refuse to acknowledge that they—not made a mistake—lied. Lied.”

Prosecutors like Linda Fairstein and the New York City Police Department have completed an internal review of its management of the Central Park Jogger case. NYPD brass found no wrongdoing on the part of its officers, and despite overwhelming new evidence and vacated convictions, they maintained that the young men were likely guilty.

None of those involved, the city, prosecutors, detectives and other cops, have ever expressed remorse or accepted responsibility or apologized for destroying the young men’s childhoods. In fact, former DA Linda Fairstein has doubled down, saying the Five were somehow involved and did something wrong.

As we confront, understand and unpack this story, we should know that what happened is not an aberration. Putting Black and brown people behind bars is big business. Although the United States represents one-fifth of the world’s population, 2.3 million people are incarcerated in America, the highest in the world. Estimates are that about 60 percent of that population is Black or Latino. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, at the behest of President Donald Trump, relaunched the failed “War on Drugs” and gave states attorneys and law enforcement the green light to crack down on criminal suspects even for non-violent crimes.

Prison labor is the new slavery. The Prison-Industrial Complex is a brutal, oppressive system which relies heavily on prison labor to work and produce goods and services for major businesses and corporations including iconic brands like Whole Foods, Starbucks, Compaq, McDonalds, WalMart, Microsoft, Victoria’s Secret, Macy’s, Target and AT&T. Some incarcerated individuals work for free, others for as little as $00.04 an hour and others make $00.23 an hour making military equipment like nighttime goggles, bullet proof vests, tents, shirts and bags, as well and a range of products for other corporation. As the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights notes, there are no unions, safety regulations, pension, social security, sick leave or overtime in these sweat shops.

The sprawling Prison-Industrial Complex is a more than $2 billion enterprise and 37 states have legalized the contracting of prison labor by private corporations who brings their operations inside prison walls.

“The thing is that these people, the corporations who make up the Prison-Industrial Complex, have been getting away with murder for a long time,” Courtney  Stewart told this reporter an interview last year. “They’ve been able to sustain the Prison Industrial Complex and they have ruined generations and generations of the Black community. It’s been so devastating, and we still haven’t recovered.

“Using the school-to-prison pipeline and the ‘War on Drugs,’ these people are criminalizing and have imprisoned Black men, women and children,” said Stewart, chairman of The National Reentry Network for Returning Citizens in DC and founder and CEO of Mentoring Works2. Inc. “It’s profit over people and power and money in this capitalist, White-privileged society we live in. They don’t see any value in the Black family or Black people. They always throw pennies when it comes to fixing the African American community. We have to address this with force and radicalism. There has to be a radical revolution in how to address this.”

Courtney is right.

The question is, what are we prepared to do?

(Photos courtesy of BET and ABC News)

 

Changing the game: Ice Cube’s battle to buy regional sports networks

Barrington Salmon #NNPA BlackPress, Barrington Salmon, Black History, Business, Community, Entertainment, Featured, Law, National, News, NNPA Newswire, Sports, The Final Call 0 NNPA NEWSWIRE — …Ice Cube is looking to take the next step in not only raising the profile of his professional basketball brand, … Continue reading Changing the game: Ice Cube’s battle to buy regional sports networks

White nationalism, a worldwide threat unlikely to cease

Originally Published in The Final Call on March 25, 2019 – 2:24:26 PM

BY BARRINGTON M. SALMON -CONTRIBUTING WRITER- |

The murder of at least 50 Muslims in New Zealand—struck down during Jumu’ah, traditional Friday congregational prayers—was the latest mass killing of Muslims, Blacks or others by White extremists intent on attacking innocent people they despise and hoping to start a race war.

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A woman holds a sign reading “No more White Terrorism” at a rally close to Finsbury Park Mosque in London, UK on March 15. The rally was organised by Stand up to Racism in response to the recent shooting in New Zealand. At least one gunman killed 50 people and wounded more than 50 during Friday prayers at two New Zealand mosques. Photo: Claire Doherty/Sipa USA; Sipa via AP Images

The victims were at the Al-Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque in Christchurch, the country’s capital, when the gunman burst in and opened fire. Witnesses said he shot into people on the ground and went back to his vehicle at least once to reload.

 New Zealand authorities say at least another 50 worshippers were injured and the alleged gunman was later arrested. A young Muslim man confronted the armed attacker, who dropped his weapon, fled, and was later apprehended by police.

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Mourners pay their respects at a makeshift memorial near the Masjid Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand March 16 where one of the two mass shootings occurred. Photo: AP Photo/Mark Baker

The prime minister characterized March 14 as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” and called the massacre “an unprecedented act of violence.” The terror attack drew global condemnation and expressions of solidarity for Muslims and the “Kiwi” nation. Four days later, the prime minister said lawmakers had essentially agreed to tighten gun laws in the country. The single-day murders in Christchurch equaled the average number of murders in the country for a year and the broader and global community joined Muslims in mourning as they buried their dead.

The suspected killer, a 28-year-old Australian, wrote a manifesto outlining the reasons for his actions. Brenton Tarrant described resenting immigrants in New Zealand and countries in Europe he visited. He wrote that while touring Western Europe in 2017, an Uzbek man killed five people after he drove a truck into a crowd in Stockholm, Sweden. He was enraged by the death of an 11-year-old Swedish girl.

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Ash Mohammed, right, talks to a police officer about his father and two broth- ers who were missing near the Masjid Al-Noor mosque, site of one of the mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand March 16. Photo: AP Photo/ Mark Baker

The accused mass murderer, said he trained for the attack for three months in New Zealand, but had been plotting for two years. While in New Zealand, he decided it was an acceptable place for his deadly rampage. By attacking that country, Mr. Tarrant allegedly would show no place on earth was safe—and that even a country as far away as New Zealand was tainted by immigration.

The gunman credited mass shootings in the U.S. with inspiring him to kill immigrants. He also praised President Trump. The suspect idolized American, Canadian and other White nationalist mass shooters and had White supremacist lingo emblazoned on his weapon.

The alleged shooter did not have a criminal record and “was not known to authorities in connection with far-right violence,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said during a press conference March 16 in New Zealand. The onetime personal trainer began legally buying guns last December, had two semiautomatic weapons, two shotguns, and a lever-action firearm, she said. Authorities in Australia raided properties belonging to members of the alleged killer’s family March 18.

What happened in Christchurch isn’t an aberration or a one-off.

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Brenton Tarrant

Seventy-seven people died in a massacre by a White terrorist in Norway a few years ago. Last year, a White nationalist gunman killed 11 worshippers in a synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill. Another White gunman shot two Black shoppers dead in a supermarket in Louisville, Kentucky; a then-21-year-old White boy killed nine church members in Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015 because he resented what he saw as Blacks taking over. Similar incidents have occurred with depressing regularity in Europe, the UK, Canada, Denmark and other parts of the White world.

Meanwhile, burgeoning White resentment is reflected not just in shootings, but demonstrations, the emergence of political movements and other means of expressing perceived outrage and racial resentment.

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A police officer directs pedestrians neat the site of one of the mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 16. Photo: AP Photo/Mark Baker

President Trump’s rise and popularity, his supporters’ view of him as their champion; his statements and policies, his remarks about race and his denigrating and condescending remarks about “the other” and his defense of White nationalists are well known. 

Wider afield, incendiary and racist statements by Iowa Republican Steve King about protecting White civilization and society, anti-Islamic violence in America and Europe, the rise and power of the right wing in Europe, the UK and former Trump advisor Steve Bannon’s visits to Europe indicate an ideology on the march.

Asha Castleberry, a foreign relations expert, said attacks by White terrorists are consistent with the rise of populism and rightwing movements and governments in Europe, the U.S. and Latin and Central America.

“Global extremism is at its peak. Extremists are targeting immigrants, Muslims and other non-Whites,” she told The Final Call. “Look at Brexit and Muslims targeted in Belgium, France and other European cities. These are inspired by nativism and populism ties in with this extremism. We’re seeing the growth of social movements that embrace nativism and anti-immigrant sentiment and action.”

Ms. Castleberry said those drawn to such movements tend to feel they’ve been marginalized by the system.

“They feel disenfranchised, are unhappy and are driven by emotion, which makes the movement erratic,” she argued. “Populist movements are short-term because they lack an objective. Donald Trump embodies that. He isn’t good thinking long-term, makes decisions on the spot and promotes the idea of isolationism.”

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NYPD increasing security at mosques and places of worship in light of the New Zealand attacks. Photo: MGN Online

She said the U.S. president bears a good deal of responsibility for these terror attacks because he liberally uses White nationalist rhetoric and by word and deed, has emboldened White nationalists, the Ku Klux Klan, White militias and other groups and individuals. 

When asked at a White House event March 15 if he saw White nationalism as a rising problem, unsurprising, President Trump said no, downplaying the threat. “I don’t really, I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess. If you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s the case,” he said. “I don’t know enough about it yet … but it’s certainly a terrible thing.”

But despite his denials, Mr. Trump cannot escape his role in empowering the reappearance of overt White nationalism. In his manifesto, the alleged gunman called the president “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.”

Labor union organizer Bill Fletcher said the president has demonized Black people, Mexicans, immigrants, Muslims and other Brown or foreign people inside and out of this country. Mr. Trump’s rhetoric, critics contend, is feeding an upsurge in hate crime, violence against “others” and even murder.

FBI.jpgThe Federal Bureau of Investigation released data at the end of last year showing the number of hate crimes reported to the bureau rose about 17 percent in 2017 compared to 2016. 2017 is the latest year for which those statistics are available. It is the third-straight year that incidents of hate crime rose. But, according to the feds, only about 50 percent of hate crime victims report incidents to authorities. Blacks, Jewish Americans and members of the LGBTQ community were the top three targets of hate crimes. 

But over the last decade, the overwhelming majority of murders linked to domestic terrorism have been committed by White nationalists or White supremacists.

Mr. Fletcher, who is also a talk show host and racial justice activist, said White terrorists need to be dealt with firmly and ruthlessly.

“There are a few things that have to be factored in such as self-defense,” he explained. “Every mosque needs to have armed guards. They need to take them out. That will send a very important lesson: If they (White nationalists) attack, they get wiped out.”

“The nature of rightwing populism is violence based upon articulating that there’s an existential threat to White people, so how can you be surprised? They attack a mosque, you have to smash them. There should be no tolerance for right wing populists. They encouraging violence and they have to be stopped,” Mr. Fletcher added.

Dr. Wilmer Leon, III, agreed with Mr. Fletcher’s assessments.

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Masjid Al-Noor Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand

 “This is White supremacy. These White people are afraid of being annihilated from the planet,” Dr. Leon said. “The one thing this guy talked about was immigration … the one thing that links all these nuts together is annihilation: ‘Immigrants are taking over my space.’ ”

“Ninety percent of attacks are Europeans and European-Americans against people of color,” Dr. Leon continued. “We’re encroaching on their economic space, cultural space, music and food, and encroaching on their genetic space. They have always been the minority in the world, but always seen themselves as a dominant force in the world but that’s only because they have such a truncated view of the world.”

“Yes, this is the new normal at least for the rest of my lifetime and well beyond that,” Dr. Leon predicted soberly. “This is not going to be resolved anytime soon. Because we’re not going anywhere and we have biological superiority. Yes, it is the new normal, because the economic elites don’t want to come to grips with the fundamental reality of the chaos that they cause.”

 

How Healthy Is Gentrification Part III

IN SEARCH OF SOLUTIONS January 12, 2019 Barrington Salmon Barrington Salmon, Commentary, Community, Economy,Featured, Government, Lifestyle, News, NNPA Newswire, Politics, Real Estate 0 In the District of Columbia, a shortage of affordable housing, a hyper-expensive rental market and aging and vanishing housing stock has have tenants battling spiraling rents and housing costs, and have left them at … Continue reading How Healthy Is Gentrification Part III