Criminalizing a Race Blacks and Prisons

Criminalizing a Race Blacks and Prisons


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Criminalizing a Race: Blacks and Prisons Table




Why are 1 in 9 young Black men in prison

The so-called “war on drugs” has created a national disaster: 1 in 9 young Black men in America are now behind bars.1 It’s not because they commit more crime but largely because of unfair sentencing rules that treat 5 grams of crack cocaine, the kind found in poor Black communities, the same as 500 grams of powder cocaine2, the kind found in White and wealthier communities.

These sentencing laws are destroying communities across the country and have done almost nothing to reduce the level of drug use and crime.

Senator Joe Biden is one of the original creators of these laws and is now trying to fix the problem.3 But some of his colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee are standing in the way. Join us in telling them to stand with Joe Biden and undo this disaster once and for all:

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Strange Fruit Video  / Oakland, Toward Radical Spirituality 

National Plan of Action to Stop Mass Incarceration

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News Update

75 Years of Racial Control Happy Birthday Marijuana Prohibition—Amanda Reiman—28 September/2012—As we approach the 75th anniversary of marijuana prohibition in the United States on October 1, it is important to remember why marijuana was deemed illicit in the first place, and why we as Americans must open our eyes to the insidious strategy behind 75 years of failed policy and ruined lives. Marijuana laws were designed not to control marijuana, but to control the Mexican immigrants who had brought this native plant with them to the U.S. Fears over loss of jobs and of the Mexicans themselves led cities to look for ways to keep a close eye on the newcomers. In 1914, El Paso Texas became the first jurisdiction in the U.S. to ban the sale and possession of marijuana. This ban gave police the right to search, detain and question Mexican immigrants without reason, except the suspicion that they were in possession of marijuana. Folklore started to erupt about the effect that marijuana had on those who used it. As Harry Anslinger stated, “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”—


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Your Eyes Are Haunting Me (Ward)

Black Teenager Trayvon Martin Murdered by Wannabe Cop

Justice Department Intervenes as Zimmerman Remains Free & Armed

A Review of the Continuing Racial Tragedy by Rudolph Lewis

Obama Speaks On Trayvon Martin / Our Son by Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie

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Obama’s America and the New Jim Crow

By Michelle Alexander


There are more African Americans under correctional control today–in prison or jail, on probation or parole—than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began. If you take into account prisoners, a large majority of African American men in some urban areas, like Chicago, have been labeled felons for life. These men are part of a growing undercaste, not class, caste—a group of people who are permanently relegated, by law, to an inferior second-class status. They can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries, and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education and public benefits—much as their grandparents and great-grandparents once were during the Jim Crow era.—Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow /  Michelle_Alexander Part II Democracy Now (Video) / Michelle Alexander Speaks At Riverside Church /  part 2   / part 3  / part 4

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America With Its Pants Down  (Lewis)

A Theology of Obligation  (Lewis)

Black Immigrants Deported  (Tamara Kil Ja Kim Nopper)

Crack House (poem, Jeremiah Mickens)

Cries of a Ghetto Child  (Thomas Long)

Crime Among Our People (Grace Lee Boggs)

Facing America’s Criminal Racial Past (

Khalil Muhammad interviewed)

Feminism and the Criminallization of Masculinity  (Aduku Addae)

For Stan Tookie Williams (Lewis)

Fourteen Examples of Systemic Racism

Freedom Vision (Chester Himes)

How Quick We Are To Judge

The Image of the Black Criminal 

It Ain’t About Race

Its the Economy Stupid

Jena and the Judgment of History 

Jena and the New Movement 

The Jena Six   (YouTube) 

Katrina killed those already dying

Katrina Survivor Stories 2

Khalil Gibran Muhammad New Schomburg Director

Killens, the Black Man’s Burden, and the Jena 6  (Lewis)

K-Ville Cop TV Show

Letters and Papers from Prison

Lies Truth and Unwaged Housework

A Lie Unravels the World 

Lifers Inc

Locked Up in Land of the Free

Message from Troy Anthony Davis

Minstrelsy and White Expectations

MOORE et al

Mr. Officer

Nonwhite Manhood in America

Nooses and a legal lynching in Jena, Louisiana

Notes from the Occupied Territories

NOPD Verdict Reveals Post-Katrina History (Flaherty)

Oakland, Toward Radical Spirituality  

Parable of July 4, 1910 ( Marvin X  on Oscar Grant Killing)

Playing the Race Game in South Carolina

Poem at Central Booking (

De’Andre L. McCullough)

Poetry and National Security

Police Brutality and Rappers

The Post Black Negro (Marvin X )

Postcard from Hell

Prison and Spirituality

Professor Charles Ogletree on Profiling to Beergate to the Obamas

Review of How to Find and Keep A BMW

Revolutionary Suicide

Richard Wright and the Dilemma of the Ethical Criminal

The Saga of Bigger Thomas

Sagging Pants: The Real Deal

Security Guards Beat School Teen

Seneca Turner’s Thoughts upon Revisiting Hip Hop (A Rejoinder . . .  By Floyd Hayes)

State Murder of Stan Tookie Williams

Strange Fruit in Jena 

Thoughts On Jena

Unforgivable Blackness  (Amin Sharif)  

Urban Police and the Order of Community Terrorism (Floyd Hayes)

Waking Mike Vick  (Amin Sharif)

The Watts Rebellion

We All Live in Jena

We Can’t Afford To Not Fix Justice System

We’re in the Same Boat Brother

White Anti Racists Open Letter

White Nationalism Black Interests

White Officer Suspended

Why are 1 in 9 young Black men in prison

Why We Owe Them

Related files

Bought Colored Kids 

Connecting the Dots: Michael Moore 

Floyd W Hayes III Table

Hip Hop Table 

Irene Monroe  Table

Is Gay Marriage Anti Black

Impotence Need Not Be Permanent  

Malcolm My Son

Paul Robeson’s Greetings to Bandung   

Reverend Yearwood on YouTube

The State of Black-Asian Relations

 Thomas Long Table

We Real Cool  

White Anti-Racist is an Oxymoron   


To White Women Who Think     

Net Links

The African gateway for UK cocaine

Other uses of coca, including the production of cocaine

Pulse Check: Trends in Drug Abuse November 2002

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A Watcher of the Police Says He Is Now a Target

If you are unfamiliar with Jazz Hayden’s tireless efforts to expose the NYPD’s discriminatory and abusive stop and frisk tactics in NYC, read this article published in today’s

New York Times

. The article does not do justice to Jazz, and wrongly brings up his past criminal record—which is utterly irrelevant and ancient history. But the article does make some important points, including the phony reason given by the police for stopping and searching him (supposedly they pulled him over for a burned out tail light—the oldest excuse in the book, especially since his tail light was working fine). The article also highlights the ridiculousness of the DA’s decision to send the case to a grand jury— on felony charges—for possession of dangerous weapons (a broken pocket knife and a small, commemorative baseball bat). It is critical that we support Jazz, not just because he has been a steadfast advocate for the Harlem community—(although that would be reason enough!)—but also because we must send a message to the NYPD that they can’t get away with targeting and retaliating against those who dare to expose the truth about what they’re really doing on the streets.

Ultimately this isn’t just about Jazz; it’s about the tactics that are used to silence those who challenge this system of mass incarceration.


Michelle Alexander



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Louisiana Incarcerated:



No. 1






Intro Video

Lt. Dee Hutson:

‘It’s a career.

Criminalizing a Race


Louisiana is the world’s prison capital—Cindy Chang—13 May 2012—Louisiana is the world’s prison capital. The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana’s incarceration rate is nearly triple Iran’s, seven times China’s and 10 times Germany’s. . . . Do all of Louisiana’s 40,000 inmates need to be incarcerated for the interests of punishment and public safety to be served? Gov. Bobby Jindal, a conservative Republican with presidential ambitions, says the answer is no. Despite locking up more people for longer periods than any other state, Louisiana has one of the highest rates of both violent and property crimes. Yet the state shows no signs of weaning itself off its prison dependence. . . . In the early 1990s, when the incarceration rate was half what it is now, Louisiana was at a crossroads. Under a federal court order to reduce overcrowding, the state had two choices: Lock up fewer people or build more prisons.

It achieved the latter, not with new state prisons—there was no money for that—but by encouraging sheriffs to foot the construction bills in return for future profits. The financial incentives were so sweet, and the corrections jobs so sought after, that new prisons sprouted up all over rural Louisiana. . . . Louisiana specializes in incarceration on the cheap, allocating by far the least money per inmate of any state. The $24.39 per diem is several times lower than what Angola and other state-run prisons spend—even before the sheriff takes his share. All local wardens can offer is GED classes and perhaps an inmate-led support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Their facilities are cramped and airless compared with the spacious grounds of state prisons, where inmates walk along outdoor breezeways and stay busy with jobs or classes. . . . One in three Louisiana prisoners reads below a fifth-grade level. The vast majority did not complete high school. The easy fix of selling drugs or stealing is all too tempting when the alternative is a low-wage, dead-end job.

More money spent on locking up an ever-growing number of prisoners means less money for the very institutions that could help young people stay out of trouble, giving rise to a vicious cycle. Louisiana spends about $663 million a year to feed, house, secure and provide medical care to 40,000 inmates. Nearly a third of that money—$182 million— goes to for-profit prisons, whether run by sheriffs or private companies. . . . About 5,000 black men from New Orleans are doing state prison time, compared with 400 white men from the city. Because police concentrate resources on high-crime areas, minor lawbreakers there are more likely to be stopped and frisked or caught up in a drug sweep than, say, an Uptown college student with a sideline marijuana business. . . . An inmate at Angola costs the state an average of $23,000 a year. A young lifer will rack up more than $1 million in taxpayer-funded expenses if he reaches the Louisiana male life expectancy of 72. . . . . The state spends about $24 million a year caring for between 300 and 400 infirm inmates.—nola / Plantations, Prisons and Profits (Blow)

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Racism: A History, the 2007 BBC 3-part documentary explores the impact of racism on a global scale. It was part of the season of programs on the BBC marking the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. It’s divided into 3 parts.

The first, The Colour of Money . . . Racism: A History [2007]—1/3

Begins the series by assessing the implications of the relationship between Europe, Africa and the Americas in the 15th century. It considers how racist ideas and practices developed in key religious and secular institutions, and how they showed up in writings by European philosophers Aristotle and Immanuel Kant.

The second, Fatal Impact . . . Racism: A History [2007] – 2/3

Examines the idea of scientific racism, an ideology invented during the 19th century that drew on now discredited practices such as phrenology and provided an ideological justification for racism and slavery. The episode shows how these theories ultimately led to eugenics and Nazi racial policies of the master race.

And the 3rd, A Savage Legacy . . .  Racism: A History [2007] – 3/3

Examines the impact of racism in the 20th century. By 1900 European colonial expansion had reached deep into the heart of Africa. Under the rule of King Leopold II, the Belgian Congo was turned into a vast rubber plantation. Men, women and children who failed to gather their latex quotas would have their limbs dismembered. The country became the scene of one of the century’s greatest racial genocides, as an estimated 10 million Africans perished under colonial rule.

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Tough on Crime Tough on Justice—Leonard Pitts Jr.—20 May 2012—We got tough on Jerry Dewayne Williams, a small-time criminal who stole a slice of pizza from a group of children. He got 25 years. We got tough on Duane Silva, a guy with an IQ of 71 who stole a VCR and a coin collection. He got 30 to life. We got tough on Dixie Shanahan, who shot and killed the husband who had beaten her for three days straight, punching her in the face, pounding her in the stomach, dragging her by the hair, because she refused to have an abortion. She got 50 years. We got tough on Jeff Berryhill, who got drunk one night, kicked in an apartment door and punched a guy who was inside with Berryhill’s girlfriend. He got 25 years. Now, we have gotten tough on Marissa Alexander. . . .Like Ms. Shanahan before her, Ms. Alexander was offered a plea bargain. Like Ms. Shanahan, she declined, reasoning that no one would convict her under the circumstances. Like Ms. Shanahan, she was wrong.

Earlier this month, Ms. Alexander got 20 years for aggravated assault. . . . not because the judge had a heart like Simon Legree’s, but because he was constrained by so-called “mandatory-minimum” sentencing guidelines that tie judges’ hands, allow them no leeway for consideration, compassion, context or common sense. In other words, they prohibit judges from judging.—


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Facing America’s Criminal Racial Past

Bill Moyers Interviews Khalil Muhammad


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Bloomberg Backs Plan to Limit Arrests for Marijuana

If you haven’t heard already, NY Governor Cuomo, as well as NYC Mayor Bloomberg, and the Chief of the NYPD have all come out in support of decriminalizing the possession of marijuana for personal use—reducing the penalty from a misdemeanor to a violation simply payable by a fine, like a traffic ticket. . . . even when the marijuana is in public view, so long as it is not being smoked. This is a …major victory for advocates who have been protesting the tens of thousands of arrests that are made every year in NYC — overwhelmingly of people of color — for simple marijuana possession due to discriminatory stop-and-frisk tactics. This does not solve the problem of discriminatory stop and frisks, but it proves that change is not only possible, but inevitable, when we get organized, speak our truth, and don’t take no for an answer.—Michelle Alexander / The New York Police Department, the mayor and the city’s top prosecutors on Monday endorsed a proposal to decriminalize the open possession of small amounts of marijuana, giving an unexpected lift to an effort by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to cut down on the number of people arrested as a result of police stops.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, whose Police Department made about 50,000 arrests last year for low-level marijuana possession, said the governor’s proposal “strikes the right balance” in part because it would still allow the police to arrest people who smoke marijuana in publicnytimes

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Rudy, I have done little work in Meridian, Mississippi, but Derrick Johnson, Director of Mississippi NAACP has been working in Meridian for the past two years around the current issue of the pipeline created to ship students from school to jail.  While Meridian’s population is majority black (sixty-two percent), the political leadership is still majority white.  And in many small Mississippi towns the change to have the political leadership mirror the population is always slow and painful because most of the African Americans who desire to engage in political leadership also work directly for the very whites who control the government.  So, the issues of intimidation and fear are very real aspects of this struggle for power.  It is very easy to call someone a coward, but most of those calling someone a coward don’t have to remain in the town.

This struggle with Meridian’s schoolhouse to jailhouse pipeline has been brewing for five years with the NAACP helping parents to organize, contact the Department of Justice, and to file a lawsuit.  After the filing of the lawsuit, the former mayor, John Robert Smith, due to the pressure of organized parents and the investigation of the DOJ, appointed a mostly African American school board, which, in turn, hired the first African American School Board Supervisor whose last name is Kent.  Kent, by all accounts, was working with parents and the DOJ to change many o

f the policies of the past.  Unfortunately, Mayor Smith retried, and the African American who ran for mayor was defeated by two hundred votes by current white female Mayor Cheri Bailey who appointed a new school board, which, in turn, fired Mr. Kent and hired Dr. Alvin Taylor, who is an African American.  Dr. Taylor has not reinstituted the policies that created the schoolhouse to jailhouse pipeline, but the new mayor and some of the school board members appointed by the mayor have attempted to slow the change or reinstitute the old policies, but the pressure from the DOJ, the NAACP, and the parents have held the fort, so to speak.  That’s about all the information I have.  For more information on this, you can contact Derrick Johnson at  Take care and thank you for continuing to be an independent critical thinker, providing a venue for our people.

C. Liegh McInnis

9 September 2012

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Feds: Authorities in Meridian, Miss. Violated Rights of Black Children


10 August 2012—The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has released investigative findings determining that children in predominantly black Meridian, Miss. have had their constitutional rights violated by the Lauderdale County Youth Court, the Meridian Police Department, and the Mississippi Division of Youth Services in what civil rights investigators allege is a school to prison pipeline with even dress code violations resulting in incarceration. . . . Also in the findings letter the Civil Rights Division alleges that “Lauderdale County and the Youth Court Judges violate the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments by failing to provide children procedural due process in the youth court. Lauderdale County, the Youth Court judges, and the Mississippi Division of Youth Services violate the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments by failing to provide children procedural due process rights in the probationary process.” . . .

“The system established by the City of Meridian, Lauderdale County, and DYS to incarcerate children for school suspensions ‘shocks the conscience,’ resulting in the incarceration of children for alleged ‘offenses’ such as dress code violations, flatulence, profanity, and disrespect.” The Justice Department findings letter noted.—abcnews / photo left Mayor Cheri Barry

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Jerry Sandusky on Suicide Watch, Undergoing Evaluations—

Colleen Curry—Bellefonte, Pa., June 23, 2012—Jerry Sandusky is on suicide watch at the local jail after being convicted on 45 counts of sexually abusing young boys, the former Penn State coach’s defense attorney said today. Sandusky was led away in handcuffs to the Centre County jail Friday night after a jury of seven women and five men found him guilty of nearly all of the most serious allegations of child rape and sex abuse leveled against him, but Sandusky has not reached the end of his road yet. He will still face civil suits, potentially more criminal charges against him, and years of treatment while in prison. After the jury foreman read 45 “guilty” verdicts aloud to an emotionless Sandusky Friday night, Judge John Cleland revoked bail and sent Sandusky to county jail to be evaluated by the Sexual Offenders Assessment Board for a pre-sentencing report, taking into account his psychological and physical health.

Defense attorney Karl Rominger told CNN today that Sandusky is being held on suicide watch in protective custody, away from other inmates. The jail would not comment on Sandusky’s condition to ABC News. Sandusky will be held at the county jail for approximately 90 days, until he is sentenced by Cleland to what will likely amount to life in prison. —abcnews

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Black Americans Given Longer Sentences than White Americans for Same Crimes— David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff—4 February 2012—A new academic study of 58,000 federal criminal cases has found significant disparities in sentencing for blacks and whites arrested for the same crimes. The research led to the conclusion that African-Americans’ jail time was almost 60% longer than white sentences. According to M. Marit Rehavi of the University of British Columbia and Sonja B. Starr, who teaches criminal law at the University of Michigan Law School, the racial disparities can be explained “in a single prosecutorial decision: whether to file a charge carrying a mandatory minimum sentence….Black men were on average more than twice as likely to face a mandatory minimum charge as white men were, holding arrest offense as well as age and location constant.” Prosecutors are about twice as likely to impose mandatory minimums on black defendants as on white defendants. In federal cases, black defendants faced average sentences of 60 months, while the average for white defendants was only 38 months. The report concludes that sentence disparities “can be almost completely explained by three factors: the original arrest offense, the defendant’s criminal history, and the prosecutor’s initial choice of charges.”—


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Ohio Mom Kelley Williams Bolar Jailed for Sending Kids to Better School District—26 January 2011—An Ohio mother’s attempt to provide her daughters with a better education has landed her behind bars. Kelley Williams-Bolar was convicted of lying about her residency to get her daughters into a better school district. . . . Williams-Bolar decided four years ago to send her daughters to a highly ranked school in neighboring Copley-Fairlawn School District. But it wasn’t her Akron district of residence, so her children were ineligible to attend school there, even though her father lived within the district’s boundaries. “Those dollars need to stay home with our students,” school district officials said. . . . The district hired a private investigator, who shot video showing Williams-Bolar driving her children into the district. The school officials asked her to pay $30,000 in back tuition. Williams-Bolar refused and was indicted and convicted of falsifying her residency records. She was sentenced last week to 10 days in county jail and put on three years of probation.

She will also be required to perform community service, the Beacon Journal reported. . . .

Presiding Judge Patricia Cosgrove acknowledged as much. “I felt that some punishment or deterrent was needed for other individuals who might think to defraud the various school.—abcnews

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Homeless mother who sent son to better school in the wrong town jailed for five years— A mother who pleaded guilty to fraudulently enrolling her six-year-old son in the wrong school district has been sentenced to five years in prison. Tonya McDowell sent her son to an elementary school in Norwalk, Connecticut, instead of her home city of Bridgeport. The 34-year-old, who was homeless when she was charged with felony larceny last year, said she wanted the best education possible for the boy. . . . Police said McDowell stole $15,686 worth of ‘free’ educational services from Norwalk. She also pleaded guilty to four counts of sale of narcotics, which will be included in her prison sentence. . . . . Mr Crosland said: ‘You shouldn’t be arrested for stealing a free education. It’s just wrong.’ McDowell was sentenced to 12 years in jail, suspended after she serves five years, and five years probation.— CopCop /

Homeless woman’s arrest for sending son to Norwalk school

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Marissa Alexander gets 20 years for firing warning shot after Stand Your Ground defense fails—Gil Aegerter—11 May 2012—Marissa Alexander, whose case brought allegations that Florida’s Stand Your Ground law is being unfairly applied, was sentenced to 20 years in prison Friday after being convicted of three counts of aggravated assault after firing a warning shot during a dispute with her husband. . . . The 20-year sentence was a mandatory minimum under Florida’s “10-20-Life law,” which mandates sentences for crimes involving a firearm, the reported. . . . At issue in the case were Alexander’s actions leading up to the firing of the shot. Alexander has said that 36-year-old Rico Gray had physically abused her in a dispute on Aug. 1, 2010. She testified that she fled into a garage and got a gun, but was unable to leave the home because the garage door was stuck. She testified that she went back into the house, where Gray was with his two sons, and fired the shot.—MSNBC

Three Years Ain’t Mercy, Twenty Years Ain’t Justice  /  Melissa Harris-Perry investigates

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Staggering number of Caribbean Immigrants Sexually Abused in Detention Centers

The ACLU said documents obtained from the federal government reveal that immigrants reported being sexually abused at the centers nearly 200 times since 2007. . . . 56 of the 185 allegations were made in Texas, more than in any other state. . . . The guard, Donald Dunn, pleaded guilty to official oppression and unlawful restraint in the assaults of five women while working at the T. Don Hutto Detention Center. . . .

The suit also names Dunn’s supervisor, three Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, the Texas county of Williamson and the Corrections Corporation of America, a private prison company that manages the facility. . . .

Shapiro said that the documents the ACLU recovered may just be the “tip of the iceberg.” “I shudder to think how many are not reported,” he said. Earlier this week, ICE Director John Morton said his agency deported nearly 400,000 immigrants during the fiscal year that ended in September, the largest number of removals in the agency’s history.—RepeatingIslands

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Message from Troy Anthony Davis

I am in a place where execution can only destroy your physical form but because of my

faith in God, my family and all of you I have been spiritually free for some time and

no matter what happens in the days, weeks to come, this Movement to end the death

penalty, to seek true justice, to expose a system that fails

to protect the innocent must be accelerated.

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Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun

By Paul M. Barrett

Based on fifteen years of research, Glock is the riveting story of the weapon that has become known as American’s gun.  Today the Glock pistol has been embraced by two-thirds of all U.S. police departments, glamorized in countless Hollywood movies, and featured as a ubiquitous presence on prime-time TV. It has been rhapsodized by hip-hop artists, and coveted by cops and crooks alike.   Created in 1982 by Gaston Glock, an obscure Austrian curtain-rod manufacturer, and swiftly adopted by the Austrian army, the Glock pistol, with its lightweight plastic frame and large-capacity spring-action magazine, arrived in America at a fortuitous time.  Law enforcement agencies had concluded that their agents and officers, armed with standard six-round revolvers, were getting “outgunned” by drug dealers with semi-automatic pistols. They needed a new gun. When Karl Water, a firearm salesman based in the U.S. first saw a Glock in 1984, his reaction was, “Jeez, that’s ugly.” But the advantages of the pistol soon became apparent. The standard semi-automatic Glock could fire as many as 17 bullets from its magazine without reloading (one equipped with an extended thirty-three cartridge magazine was used in Tucson to shoot Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others). It was built with only 36 parts that were interchangeable with those of other models.

You could drop it underwater, toss it from a helicopter, or leave it out in the snow, and it would still fire. It was reliable, accurate, lightweight, and cheaper to produce than Smith and Wesson’s revolver. Made in part of hardened plastic, it was even rumored (incorrectly) to be invisible to airport security screening. Filled with corporate intrigue, political maneuvering, Hollywood glitz, bloody shoot-outs—and an attempt on Gaston Glock’s life by a former lieutenant—Glock is at once the inside account of how Glock the company went about marketing its pistol to police agencies and later the public, as well as a compelling chronicle of the evolution of gun culture in America.

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Oscar Grant’s killer on trial again for police brutality—23 November, 2011—Former San Francisco BART police officer Johannes Mehserle is on trial this week, and if his name and affiliation rings a bell, there is good reason: Mehserle was found guilty of killing Oscar Grant, an unarmed transit rider, during a 2009 incident. As luck would have it, that wasn’t the first time that Mehserle went a little overboard. Less than two months before he executed Grant at pointblank range in an Oakland, California train station, the ex-officer allegedly used excessive force and violated the constitutional rights of Kenneth Carrethers at a separate Bay Area Rapid Transit hub.

Carrethers’ attorneys say that on November 15 2008, their client was angry over the BART cops’ lack of help in a case of vandalism that targeted his car. Carrethers says that he called the police force “useless,” and from there Mehserle and a handful of other offices became irate. According to court filings, Mehserle used a leg sweep to take Carrethers to the ground, then punched and kicked him while he was on the pavement.

The complaint continues that cops tied up Carrethers’ arms and legs before hauling him away.  “Well, have you learned not to mess with police officers?” Mehserle allegedly asked him. Carrethers was initially charged with resisting arrest, but six weeks later a cell phone camera filmed Mehserle executing Oscar Grant while the unarmed black man man laid face down in a BART station. A civil case was filed by Carrethers a month later, but was put on hold while Merhselrs waited behind bars during his trial for the Grant incident.

A jury went on to find the ex-officer only guilty of involuntary manslaughter and mobs rioted the streets of Oakland, California. Johannes Mehserle only served 11 months for killing Grant. To RT, a family member of Grant said that the sentence demonstrated “just how racist this criminal justice system is.” Mehserle, a white man, is once again being charged with using excessive force on an unarmed black man. Five officers in all are on trial for the beating of Carrethers, 43, as well as attacking him for exercising his freedom of speech. Mehserle is expected to testify on his own behalf.


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Police officer convicted in California subway shooting— Johannes Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. He shot Oscar Grant in the back in Oakland, California, on 1 January 2009, while attempting to subdue him following a fight.

Mehserle told the Los Angeles court that he had mistaken the pistol for an electric Taser weapon on his belt. . . . The trial was moved to Los Angeles because of the tensions in Oakland. Speaking after the jury’s finding, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called on state residents “to remain calm in light of the verdict and not to resort to violence”. Mehserle, 28, faces years in prison.. . . . Mehserle fled to Nevada following the shooting and was arrested about two weeks later. BBC

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The right verdict in Mehserle case—Involuntary manslaughter might seem an unsatisfying outcome for the killing of the unarmed Oscar Grant on Jan. 1, 2009, but it was consistent with the evidence that could be proved beyond a reasonable doubt against former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle. Anything less would have been an injustice. Anything more would have required conclusions about Mehserle’s state of mind that were not sufficiently supported in trial. .  .  .  Mehserle, 28, claimed it was an accident, that he thought he was firing a Taser instead of a handgun at the detainee. The explanation stretched the bounds of plausibility, given the difference in weight, feel – and position on his holster – between the nonlethal weapon intended to immobilize and the Sig Sauer P226 pistol that is used to kill. He clearly was negligent. It was a crime, not an accident.

The other two conviction options available to the jury – second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter – would have required the jury to find that Mehserle meant to kill Grant. The evidence indicated the officer’s state of mind was contradictory at best.

His reaction immediately after the shooting suggested disbelief at what he had done. Yet his explanation of having mistaken his gun for a Taser did not emerge for several days. In other words, there was reasonable doubt about his intent, which was the standard the jury needed to overcome, even if that will not fly in the court of public opinion. SFGate

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World Shocked by U.S. Execution of Troy Davis—by Peter Wilkinson— September 22, 2011—The execution sparked angry reactions and protests in European capitals — as well as outrage on social media. “We strongly deplore that the numerous appeals for clemency were not heeded,” the French foreign ministry said.

“There are still serious doubts about his guilt,” said Germany’s junior minister for human rights Markus Loening. “An execution is irreversible—a judicial error can never be repaired.” The European Union expressed “deep regret” over the execution and repeated its call for a universal moratorium on capital punishment. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the bloc had learnt “with deep regret that Mr Troy Davis was executed,” her spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told Agence-France Presse.

‘”The EU opposes the use of capital punishment in all circumstances and calls for a universal moratorium,” she said. “The abolition of that penalty is essential to protect human dignity.”

Amnesty International condemned the execution in a statement. “The U.S. justice system was shaken to its core as Georgia executed a person who may well be innocent. Killing a man under this enormous cloud of doubt is horrific and amounts to a catastrophic failure of the justice system,” Amnesty said. In Britain’s Guardian newspaper, Ed Jackson, reporting from Jackson, Georgia, before the execution took place, gave 10 reasons why he believed the death sentence for “a man who is very possibly innocent” should be commuted.—CommonDreams

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The Prosecution Rests, but I Can’t—By John Thompson—9 April 2011—I spent 18 years in prison for robbery and murder, 14 of them on death row. I’ve been free since 2003, exonerated after evidence covered up by prosecutors surfaced just weeks before my execution date. Those prosecutors were never punished. Last month, the Supreme Court decided 5-4 to overturn a case I’d won against them and the district attorney who oversaw my case, ruling that they were not liable for the failure to turn over that evidence—which included proof that blood at the robbery scene wasn’t mine. Because of that, prosecutors are free to do the same thing to someone else today.

I was arrested in January 1985 in New Orleans. I remember the police coming to my grandmother’s house—we all knew it was the cops because of how hard they banged on the door before kicking it in.

My grandmother and my mom were there, along with my little brother and sister, my two sons— John Jr., 4, and Dedric, 6—my girlfriend and me.The officers had guns drawn and were yelling. I guess they thought they were coming for a murderer. All the children were scared and crying. I was 22. . . .—NYTimes

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Repeal, Restrict and Repress—By Charles M. Blow—11 February 2011—According to The News and Observer in North Carolina, Republicans are considering severely narrowing or repealing the state’s recently enacted Racial Justice Act, which allows death-row inmates to use statistics to appeal their cases on the basis of racial discrimination.

Two studies of the death penalty in the state have found that someone who kills a white person is about three times as likely to be sentenced to death as someone who kills a minority. And in Wisconsin, Republicans are pushing a bill that would repeal a 2009 law that requires police to record the race of people they pull over at traffic stops so the data could be used to study racial-profiling.—NYTimes

Scott Sisters Released From Prison

Jan 08, 2011 Gladys and Jamie Scott were released from prison Friday morning after serving 16 years behind bars. They have maintained their innocence but it was a grassroots movement that helped them gain their freedom.

Jailed sisters say they’re not bitter

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 After dark, mobs form, smash windows, loot  / The right verdict in Mehserle case

Parable of July 4, 1910

By  Marvin X

Obama may take the final punch for Jack Johnson  / What To The Slave Is 4th of July?

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Settlement Reached in Civil Suit Charging Franklin County, MS Role in 1964 KKK Murders—On Monday, June 21, Franklin County, Mississippi agreed to a settlement in an historic civil suit with the families of Charles Moore and Henry Dee, two 19-year-old Black men who were kidnapped, tortured and murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan on May 2, 1964.

“This is the first time, to my knowledge, that any civil lawsuit against public officials for collaborating with the KKK has reached the point of settlement,” said Margaret Burnham, lead attorney for the family members who brought the suit against Franklin County. Klansman James Ford Seale went to prison in 2007 for his role in the murders; this landmark civil suit addressed the roles of Mississippi government officials in the double murder and subsequent cover-up of what had occurred.Cold Cases                                                                             photo: Henry Dee

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              By Lorraine Hansberry

I can hear Rosalee See the eyes of Willie McGee My mother told me about Lynchings My mother told me about The dark nights And dirt roads And torch lights And lynch robes

The faces of men Laughing white Faces of men Dead in the night sorrow night and a sorrow night


Source: AmericanLynching

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Writer Lorraine Hansberry’s sober eulogy of the death of Willie McGee weighed heavy on the hearts and minds of the American Left. On May 8, 1951, a crowd of five hundred lingered outside the courthouse of Laurel, Mississippi, to witness the execution of yet another black man convicted for allegedly raping a white woman. His 1945 lightning trial resulted in a guilty conviction delivered in less than two and a half minutes by an all-white, male jury, setting off a heated five-year legal struggle that drew national headlines. Despite an aggressive appeals defense team who attempted every legal maneuver in the book, the US Supreme Court ultimately chose not to intervene. With the legal lynching of the Martinsville Seven in February, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg’s conviction in March, followed by the execution of McGee in May, 1951 was a bad year for Left-leaning lawyers (Parrish 1979; Rise 1995). Most discouraging, national news sources like the New York Times and Life magazine red-baited the “Save Willie McGee” campaign and—as Life reported—its “imported” lawyers (Popham 1951a; Life 1951). Few felt McGee’s passing with as heavy a heart as his chief counsel, thirty-one-year-old Bella Abzug.

Before Abzug became a representative in Congress and a leader in the peace and women’s movements, she confronted the Southern political and legal system at the height of the early Cold War. Retained in 1948 by the Civil Rights Congress (CRC)—a New York-headquartered Popular Front legal defense organization—the novice labor lawyer honed her civil rights . . .

Source: https://Litigation-Essentials.LexisNexis

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Demonstrator Eden Jequinto covers his face during a demonstration after the sentencing in Oakland, Calif., Friday, of former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle. Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant at a BART station on Jan. 1, 2009. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Perry sentenced Mehserle to two years in prison.

Mehserle had been called to the Fruitvale station of the BART system in the early hours of New Years Day last year with four other officers to look into reports of a fight on a train. Mehserle tried to arrest Grant but reported that Grant was not cooperating. Grant was on his stomach when Mehserle shot him in the back. The shooting was caught on video by another BART passenger and quickly went viral on Youtube.—CSMonitor (5 November 2010)


CSMonitor  /   Strange Fruit Video  / Oscar Grant Family attorney reacts to sentencing

 Mayor Dellums, Chief Batts react to sentencing  / Oscar Grant’s uncle reacts to sentencing


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George Stinney, Youngest Executed—On June 16th, 1944, the state of South Carolina executed George Stinney, Jr. He was fourteen years, six months, and five days old—the youngest person ever executed in the United States in the 20th Century. Stinney, who was black, was convicted of murdering two white girls, Betty June Binnicker, age 11, and Mary Emma Thames, age 8, with a railroad spike. The trial lasted three hours, and the all-white jury deliberated for 10 minutes before sentencing George Stinney to death in the electric chair. At Stinney’s execution six weeks later, the guards had difficulty strapping him to the electric chair (he was 5′ 1″ and weighed just over 90 pounds). During the electrocution, the jolt shook the adult-sized mask from his head. On the sixtieth anniversary of his electrocution, one of the last surviving members of George Stinney’s family as well as the only living sibling of Betty June Binnicker recall the event. SoundPortraits

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Cameras make Chicago most closely watched US city—New York has plenty of cameras, but about half of the 4,300 installed along the city’s subways don’t work. Other cities haven’t been able to link networks like Chicago. Baltimore, for example, doesn’t integrate school cameras with its emergency system and it can’t immediately send 911 dispatchers video from the camera nearest to a call like Chicago can. Even London — widely considered the world’s most closely watched city with an estimated 500,000 cameras — doesn’t incorporate private cameras in its system as Chicago does. While critics decry the network as the biggest of Big Brother invasions of privacy, most Chicago residents accept them as a fact of life in a city that has always had a powerful local government and police force. Atlanta Journal Constitution

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Pride and Glory (2008)

Edward Norton (Actor), Colin Farrell (Actor), Gavin O’Connor (Director)

Like a forgotten, one-and-only season of a 1980s television show about an Irish-American family of cops, Pride and Glory is full of ambition but lacks the storytelling instinct to realize the goal. Edward Norton stars as Ray Tierney, a New York City police detective whose father, Francis Sr. (Jon Voight), boss of all Manhattan detectives, pressures him into investigating the murder of four officers. Ray’s efforts uncover a corruption scandal centered around his brother-in-law, Jimmy (Colin Farrell), a beat cop whose commander happens to be, of course, Ray’s brother, Francis Jr. (Noah Emmerich).

As Ray pushes forward, Jimmy’s self-protective instinct goes savage, and the rest of the Tierney males shift to cover-up mode. Co-writers Joe Carnahan (Narc) and Gavin O’Connor (Miracle), who also directs this film, make a fatal mistake by forcing every element in a long story to further a prefabricated narrative shape, leading to the conclusion they want.

But they can’t pull it off without awkward transitions and bridges, including the perfunctory inclusion of an intrepid reporter who conveniently breezes in and out of the movie long enough to explain Ray’s back story aloud. A monstrous scene involving Farrell holding a steaming iron (prop or not) over a baby’s face is inexcusable.—Tom Keogh,

Edward Norton, Colin Farrell, Jon Voight and Noah Emmerich star in a gritty, tension-packed tale of a multigenerational family of cops facing hard realities and tough choices. Set and filmed in Manhattan’s Washington Heights, Pride and Glory draws you into a grippingly raw real world…and into a house divided.—New Line Home Video

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Grant took picture of Mehserle, prosecutor says—A historic trial over a police shooting captured on video is set to begin here this morning after a prosecutor revealed a final piece of evidence – a photograph he said the victim snapped of the officer who would shoot him just minutes later. The picture shows then-BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle, 28, pointing his Taser at 22-year-old Oscar Grant on the Fruitvale Station platform in Oakland on Jan. 1, 2009, said Alameda County prosecutor David Stein. Grant—like many fellow BART riders that morning— had a cell-phone camera. What happened next is the focus of the trial, which was moved to downtown Los Angeles to find a jury that had not been inundated by publicity about the case in the Bay Area. First up, in a trial expected to last two to four weeks, are opening statements. Mehserle is the first Bay Area police officer and one of just a few nationwide to be charged with murder for an on-duty action. Prosecutors say he acted with malice when he shot the unarmed Grant once in the back while arresting him. The former officer has yet to give an honest account of the shooting, prosecutors say.

10 June 2010     Sophina Mesa, Grant’s girlfriend, says Grant told her he was being beaten for no reason.

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Glenn Loury: A Nation of Jailers—”Today, fifteen years after crime peaked, the American prison system has become a leviathan unmatched in human history,” he said. “Never has a supposedly ‘free country’ denied basic liberty to so many of its citizens.”

The impact on communities of color has been enormous. According to U.S. Department of Justice figures, a black man has a 32 percent chance of entering state or federal prison during his lifetime. If current incarceration rates continue, one of every three black male babies born today will see the inside of a prison cell, a rate more than five times higher than that of white male babies. In many inner-city neighborhoods, a stint in prison is as much a rite of passage as graduation from high school. The effects of these incarcerations are not confined to the prison walls.

More than half of state and federal inmates are parents of minor children; according to DOJ, black children are nearly nine times more likely than white children to have a parent in prison.

Finding work for any person with a criminal conviction is already a challenge; for an African-American, that challenge can be almost insurmountable.

Prisoner statistics, Loury said in his Tanner lectures, tell only part of the story:

[N]o cost-benefit analysis of our world-historic prison build-up over the past thirty-five years is possible without specifying how one should reckon in the calculation the pain being imposed on the persons imprisoned, their families and their communities.

How to value this aspect of policy is, to my mind, a salient ethical issue. BrownAlumniMagazine

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The National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009, introduced by Senator Jim Webb on March 26, 2009, will create a blue-ribbon commission charged with undertaking an 18-month, top-to-bottom review of our entire criminal justice system. Its task will be to propose concrete, wide-ranging reforms designed to responsibly reduce the overall incarceration rate; improve federal and local responses to international and domestic gang violence; restructure our approach to drug policy; improve the treatment of mental illness; improve prison administration; and establish a system for reintegrating ex-offenders. “We need to fix the system. Doing so will require a major nationwide recalculation of who goes to prison and for how long and of how we address the long-term consequences of incarceration.” TalkingPointsMemo

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Supreme Court Cuts Back Officers’ Searches of Vehicles—The decision, Arizona v. Gant, No. 07-542 . . . The Supreme Court on Tuesday significantly cut back the ability of the police to search the cars of people they arrest. . . . In a dissent, four justices said the majority had effectively overruled an important and straightforward Fourth Amendment precedent established by the court in a 1981 decision, New York v. Belton. . . . Justice Stevens, joined by the unusual alliance of Justices Antonin Scalia, David H. Souter, Clarence Thomas and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, said the court had agreed to hear the case because the conventional view of the Belton decision had been widely criticized. . . . Searches of vehicles are permissible, Justice Stevens said, “when it is reasonable to believe evidence relevant to the crime of arrest might be found in the vehicle.” As a practical matter, that means many arrests for traffic offenses will not by themselves allow police officers to search vehicles. Arrests for other kinds of crimes, though, may well supply a basis for a search.

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Ralph Ellison on the Redeemed Criminal

Sure, they’re treated as though serving time has endowed them with a mysterious, god-granted knowledge. And, especially if they say that they’ve been to the depths of hell and have been reborn into a new vision. Well, I’ve known a few guys who spent time in prison and none of them underwent any such mystical transformation. Nevertheless, for Americans—and especially Christians—the confession of sin and the assertion of rebirth and redemption has tremendous appeal. This is especially true of our own people, who understandably are hungry for heroes and redeemers.

I used to collect the handbills distributed by fly-by-night faith-healers in Harlem, and most of them stated that after being up to their eyeballs in crime, they’d had the scales struck from their eyes while in prison, and this had prepared them to lead their people. During the Sixties, this myth of the redeemed criminal had a tremendous influence on our young people, when criminals guilty of every crime from con games, to rape, to murder exploited it by declaring themselves political activists and Black leaders. As a result, many sincere, dedicated leaders of an older generation were swept aside. I’m speaking now of courageous individuals who made sacrifices in order to master the disciplines of leadership and who created a continuity between themselves and earlier leaders of our struggle. The kids treated such people as if they were Uncle Toms, and I found it outrageous. Because not only did it distort the concrete historical differences between one period of struggle and another, it made heroes out of thugs and self-servers out of dedicated leaders.

Worse, it gave many kids the notion that here was no point in developing their minds; that all they had to do was to strike a militant stance, assert their unity with the group and stress their “Blackness.” If you didn’t accept their slogans, you were dismissed as a “Neegro” Uncle Tom. Years ago, DuBois stressed a leadership based upon an elite of the intellect. During the Sixties, it appeared that for many Afro-Americans all that was required for such a role was a history of criminality (the sleazier the better), a capacity for irresponsible rhetoric, and the passionate assertion of the mystique of “Blackness.” At least, that’s how it appeared to me.

Source: The Essential Ellison (Interview)—Ishmael Reed, Quincy Troupe, Steve Cannon. Ishmael Reed’s and Al Young’s Y’Bird • Copyright © 1977, 1978 Y’Bird Magazine

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Man dies after cop hits him with Taser 9 times—A police officer shocked a handcuffed Baron “Scooter” Pikes nine times with a Taser after arresting him on a cocaine charge. He stopped twitching after seven, according to a coroner’s report. Soon afterward, Pikes was dead. Now the officer, since fired, could end up facing criminal charges in Pikes’ January death after medical examiners ruled it a homicide.Dr. Randolph Williams, the Winn Parish coroner, told CNN the 21-year-old sawmill worker was jolted so many times by the 50,000-volt Taser that he might have been dead before the last two shocks were delivered. Williams ruled Pikes’ death a homicide in June after extensive study. CNN

How Scores of Black Men Were Tortured Into Giving False Confessions by Chicago Police—By 1999, it was “common knowledge,” according to U.S. District Judge Milton Shadur, “that in the early to mid-1980s, (Jon Burge) and many officers working under him regularly engaged in the physical abuse and torture of prisoners to extract confessions. Both internal police accounts and numerous lawsuits and appeals brought by suspects alleging such abuse substantiate that those beatings and other means of torture occurred as an established practice, not just on an isolated basis.” Alternet

The massive scandal began to unravel in 1989, when convicted cop killer Andrew Wilson launched a very public federal civil rights suit against the Chicago Police Department. Seven years before, Wilson had been beaten, shocked in the testicles and burned on the face, chest and thigh by Area 2 detectives working under Burge. What caught the eye of Chief Medical Examiner of Cermak Medical Services John Raba, however, were the small markings on his ears that he couldn’t explain away. Wilson told him the markings were from alligator clips used to electrocute him, and Raba believed him. He notified then-Superintendent of Police Richard Brzeczek, who wrote a letter to then-State’s Attorney Richard M. Daley, “seeking direction” on how to proceed. Daley, who is now Chicago’s mayor, never responded. Alternet

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1 in 100 U.S. Adults Behind Bars, New Study Says—Incarceration rates are even higher for some groups. One in 36 Hispanic adults is behind bars, based on Justice Department figures for 2006. One in 15 black adults is, too, as is one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34. The report, from the Pew Center on the States, also found that only one in 355 white women between the ages of 35 and 39 are behind bars but that one in 100 black women are. . . . In 2007, according to the National Association of State Budgeting Officers, states spent $44 billion in tax dollars on corrections. That is up from $10.6 billion in 1987, a 127 increase once adjusted for inflation. With money from bonds and the federal government included, total state spending on corrections last year was $49 billion. By 2011, the report said, states are on track to spend an additional $25 billion. It cost an average of $23,876 dollars to imprison someone in 2005, the most recent year for which data were available. But state spending varies widely, from $45,000 a year in Rhode Island to $13,000 in Louisiana. The cost of medical care is growing by 10 percent annually, the report said, and will accelerate as the prison population ages. About one in nine state government employees works in corrections, and some states are finding it hard to fill those jobs. California spent more than $500 million on overtime alone in 2006. . . .The Pew report recommended diverting nonviolent offenders away from prison and using punishments short of reincarceration for minor or technical violations of probation or parole. It also urged states to consider earlier release of some prisoners. NYTimes

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1 percent of U.S. adults behind bars—The report, released Thursday by the Pew Center on the States, said the 50 states spent more than $49 billion on corrections last year, up from less than $11 billion 20 years earlier. The rate of increase for prison costs was six times greater than for higher education spending, the report said. Using updated state-by-state data, the report said 2,319,258 adults were held in U.S. prisons or jails at the start of 2008 — one out of every 99.1 adults, and more than any other country in the world. The steadily growing inmate population “is saddling cash-strapped states with soaring costs they can ill afford and failing to have a clear impact either on recidivism or overall crime,” the report said. Susan Urahn, managing director of the Pew Center on the States, said budget woes are prompting officials in many states to consider new, cost-saving corrections policies that might have been shunned in the recent past for fear of appearing soft in crime.”We’re seeing more and more states being creative because of tight budgets,” she said in an interview. “They want to be tough on crime, they want to be a law-and-order state — but they also want to save money, and they want to be effective.” The report cited Kansas and Texas as states which have acted decisively to slow the growth of their inmate population. Their actions include greater use of community supervision for low-risk offenders and employing sanctions other than reimprisonment for ex-offenders who commit technical violations of parole and probation rules. CNN

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BIDEN Calls for an End to Crack/Powder Cocaine Sentencing Disparity—Our intentions were good, but much of our information was bad. Each of the myths upon which we based the sentencing disparity has since been dispelled or altered. We now know: 

  • Crack and powder cocaine are pharmacologically identical. They are simply two forms of the same drug. 

  • Crack and powder cocaine cause identicalphysiological and psychological effects once they reach the brain. 

  • Both forms of cocaine are potentially addictive.

  • The two drugs’ effects on a fetus are identical. The “generation of crack babies” many predicted has not come to pass. In fact, some research shows that the prenatal effects of alcohol exposure are “significantly more devastating to the developing fetus than cocaine.” 

  • Crack simply does not incite the type of violence that we feared. Gangs that deal in other types of drugs are every bit as violent as the crack gangs.

“After 21 years of study and review, these facts have convinced me that the 100-to-1 disparity cannot be supported and that the penalties for crack and powder cocaine trafficking merit similar treatment under the law.Biden.Senate Press Statement

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Race and the Drug War—Once arrested, people of color are treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than whites. The best-known example of the inequality in sentencing is the disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine sentences. Crack and powder cocaine have the same active ingredient, but crack is marketed in less expensive quantities and in lower income communities of color. A five gram sale of crack cocaine receives a five-year federal mandatory minimum sentence, while an offender must sell 500 grams of powder cocaine to get the same sentence. In 1986, before the enactment of federal mandatory minimum sentencing for crack cocaine offenses, the average federal drug sentence for African Americans was 11 percent higher than for whites. Four years later, the average federal drug sentence for African Americans was 49 percent higher. Drug Policy

NYC Police Brutalize Human Rights Attorney  known for handling cases of police brutality   The New York City Independent Media Center

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A Statement of Racism & Racial Oppression: “The virtuous aspirations of our children must be continually checked by the knowledge that no matter how upright their conduct, they will be looked upon as less worthy than the lowest wretch who wears a white skin. Daily Star (Alabama) 21 May 1867 [James S. Allen, Reconstruction: The Battle for Democracy (1937), pp. 237-238]

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The Black Experience in America is Unique  /   The Fact of Blackness (1952) By Frantz Fanon    /   Lessons from France

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The Corner (YouTube video)

The Corner is a 2000 HBO television miniseries based on the book The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood by David Simon and Ed Burns and adapted for television by Simon and David Mills. The Corner chronicles the life of a family living in poverty amid the open-air drug markets of West Baltimore.

The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood

This is a powerful book, a window on aspects of America most people would rather ignore. To their great credit, the authors–David Simon wrote Homicide, the basis for the popular television show; Edward Burns is a former Baltimore police officer, now a public school teacher–refuse to sensationalize their subject or make its people into stereotypes.

For a year the two hung out in a West Baltimore neighborhood that was a center of the drug trade. At the center of the narrative is the McCullough family—DeAndre, age 15, and his drug-addicted parents, Gary and Fran. While reading The Corner, there are times when we pity them, times when they make us angry. The book’s strength, though, is that we always understand them.

This portrayal of a year in drug-crazed West Baltimore will satisfy neither readers looking for a perceptive witness to the urban crisis nor those in search of social analysis. Simon (Homicide, LJ 6/1/91), a crime reporter, and Burns, a Baltimore police veteran and public school teacher, mask their presence in the scene with an omniscient style that strains credibility, and the chronological framework blunts the impact of their most compelling themes. The authors salute the courageous but futile efforts of individual parents, educators, and police officers but deny the possibility of a social solution to the devastation they acknowledge is rooted in social policy. A more compelling account is Our America: Life and Death (LJ 6/1/97) on the South Side of Chicago, based on interviews conducted by 13-year-old public housing residents LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman in 1993. For larger public libraries.—Library Journal

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Poem at Central Booking

                     By DeAndre McCullough

Silent screams and broken dreams

Addicts, junkies, pushers and fiends

Crowded spaces and sad faces

Never look back as the police chase us

Consumed slowly by chaos, a victim of the streets,

Hungry for knowledge, but afraid to eat.

A life of destruction, it seems no one cares,

A manchild alone with burdens to bear.

Trapped in a life of crime and hate,

It seems the ghetto will be my fate.

If I had just one wish it would surely be,

That God would send angels to set me free

Free from the madness, of a city running wild,

Freed from the life of a ghetto child.

Source: The Corner (1997) by David Simon and Edward Burns

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The Corner—DeAndre and Prop Joe  /

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The Corner—The Real Fran, DeAndre, Tyreeka and Blue!

The last ten minutes from the HBO series The Corner, where Charles S. Dutton, the director talks to the real life characters, the story was based on.

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Justice Department aims to help overhaul New Orleans police force—By Sandhya Somashekhar—August 1, 2010—In the five years since the storm, the department’s standing has worsened. Eager for a turnaround, the newly elected mayor did something nearly unthinkable for someone in his position: He called in the feds. . . . “

I have inherited a police force that has been described by many as one of the worst police departments in the country,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. earlier this year. “The police force, the community, our citizens are desperate for positive change.” . . .

At least a dozen Justice experts have been dispatched to New Orleans to assist with a top-to-bottom overhaul aimed at strengthening the department’s ability to police itself, Perez said. They have applauded some of the changes instituted by the new chief, who was installed by Landrieu and has hired a civilian to head the internal affairs office and adopted a no-tolerance policy toward officers caught lying. . . . At the same time, the city’s homicide rate has risen to the highest in the nation. WashingtonPost

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How the mass incarceration of black men hurts black women—Between the ages of 20 and 29, one black man in nine is behind bars. For black women of the same age, the figure is about one in 150. For obvious reasons, convicts are excluded from the dating pool. And many women also steer clear of ex-cons, which makes a big difference when one young black man in three can expect to be locked up at some point. Removing so many men from the marriage market has profound consequences. As incarceration rates exploded between 1970 and 2007, the proportion of US-born black women aged 30-44 who were married plunged from 62% to 33%. Why this happened is complex and furiously debated. The era of mass imprisonment began as traditional mores were already crumbling, following the sexual revolution of the 1960s and the invention of the contraceptive pill. It also coincided with greater opportunities for women in the workplace. These factors must surely have had something to do with the decline of marriage. Economist

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Stand Up Against Police Brutality–In the city of Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania from May 2008 until April 2009 there have been 36 unarmed African American men killed by the Philadelphia Police Department. The racist Fraternal Order of Police has also gone after a strong and courageous African American judge, Judge Craig Washington.  The reason for this vicious attack is because he refuses to turn his courtroom into a tool of propaganda for the Philadelphia Police Department. Bro. Robert – African American Freedom and Reconstruction League; Sister Debbie Moore and Bro. Harold Fisher, Attorney Leon A. Williams — more information 215-474-3677  215-732-0180

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



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#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Slavery by Another Name

The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II

By Douglas A. Blackmun

Wall Street Journal bureau chief Blackmon gives a groundbreaking and disturbing account of a sordid chapter in American history—the lease (essentially the sale) of convicts to commercial interests between the end of the 19th century and well into the 20th. Usually, the criminal offense was loosely defined vagrancy or even changing employers without permission. The initial sentence was brutal enough; the actual penalty, reserved almost exclusively for black men, was a form of slavery in one of hundreds of forced labor camps operated by state and county governments, large corporations, small time entrepreneurs and provincial farmers. Into this history, Blackmon weaves the story of Green Cottenham, who was charged with riding a freight train without a ticket, in 1908 and was sentenced to three months of hard labor for Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad, a subsidiary of U.S. Steel.

Cottenham’s sentence was extended an additional three months and six days because he was unable to pay fines then leveraged on criminals. Blackmon’s book reveals in devastating detail the legal and commercial forces that created this neoslavery along with deeply moving and totally appalling personal testimonies of survivors

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Race, Incarceration, and American Values

By Glenn C. Loury

In this pithy discussion, renowned scholars debate the American penal system through the lens—and as a legacy—of an ugly and violent racial past. Economist Loury argues that incarceration rises even as crime rates fall because we have become increasingly punitive. According to Loury, the disproportionately black and brown prison populations are the victims of civil rights opponents who successfully moved the country’s race dialogue to a seemingly race-neutral concern over crime. Loury’s claims are well-supported with genuinely shocking statistics, and his argument is compelling that even if the racial argument about causes is inconclusive, the racial consequences are clear.

Three shorter essays respond: Stanford law professor Karlan examines prisoners as an inert ballast in redistricting and voting practices; French sociologist Wacquant argues that the focus on race has ignored the fact that inmates are first and foremost poor people; and Harvard philosophy professor Shelby urges citizens to break with Washington’s political outlook on race.

The group’s respectful sparring results in an insightful look at the conflicting theories of race and incarceration, and the slim volume keeps up the pace of the argument without being overwhelming.—

Publishers Weekly  / Economist Glenn Loury 

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In the Matter of Color

Race and the American Legal Process: The Colonial Period

By A. Leon Higginbotham Jr.

Chronicles in unrelenting detail the role of the law in the enslavement and subjugation of black Americans during the colonial period. No attempt to summarize the colonial experience could convey the rich and comprehensive detail which is the major strength of Judge Higginbotham’s work.—Harvard Law Review

A definitive study of racism, slavery, and the law in early America.—American Historical Review

Founded on comprehensive research, thoroughly documented, and well-written, In the Matter of Color is a contribution of the first importance to the study of racial issues in America, invaluable alike to students of American history, law, or society.—History

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The Classroom and the Cell: Conversations on Black Life in America

By Mumia Abu-Jamal and Marc Lamont Hill

Add this book to your “must read” list for 2012! It’s a deeply insightful, thought-provoking dialogue between Marc Lamont Hill and Mumia about what it means to be black in America today—including why some black men and women behind bars today are actually more “free” spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally, than those on the outside who seem to have “made it.” This book is a refreshing, startlingly honest dialogue between two black intellectuals—one who is a prominent professor at Columbia University, and another who is locked in a literal cage.—Michelle Alexander / This collection of conversations between celebrity intellectual Marc Lamont Hill and famed political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal is a shining example of African American men speaking for themselves about the many forces impacting their lives. —Publisher

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Panther Baby

A Life of Rebellion and Reinvention

By Jamal Joseph

In the 1960s he exhorted students at Columbia University to burn their college to the ground. Today he’s chair of their School of the Arts film division. Jamal Joseph’s personal odyssey—from the streets of Harlem to Riker’s Island and Leavenworth to the halls of Columbia—is as gripping as it is inspiring. Eddie Joseph was a high school honor student, slated to graduate early and begin college. But this was the late 1960s in Bronx’s black ghetto, and fifteen-year-old Eddie was introduced to the tenets of the Black Panther Party, which was just gaining a national foothold. By sixteen, his devotion to the cause landed him in prison on the infamous Rikers Island—charged with conspiracy as one of the Panther 21 in one of the most emblematic criminal cases of the sixties. When exonerated, Eddie—now called Jamal—became the youngest spokesperson and leader of the Panthers’ New York chapter. He joined the “revolutionary underground,” later landing back in prison.

Sentenced to more than twelve years in Leavenworth, he earned three degrees there and found a new calling. He is now chair of Columbia University’s School of the Arts film division—the very school he exhorted students to burn down during one of his most famous speeches as a Panther. In raw, powerful prose, Jamal Joseph helps us understand what it meant to be a soldier inside the militant Black Panther movement.

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits.

Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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Punishing the Poor

The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity

By Loïc Wacquant

The punitive turn of penal policy in the United States after the acme of the Civil Rights movement responds not to rising criminal insecurity but to the social insecurity spawned by the fragmentation of wage labor and the shakeup of the ethnoracial hierarchy. It partakes of a broader reconstruction of the state wedding restrictive “workfare” and expansive “prisonfare” under a philosophy of moral behaviorism. This paternalist program of penalization of poverty aims to curb the urban disorders wrought by economic deregulation and to impose precarious employment on the postindustrial proletariat. It also erects a garish theater of civic morality on whose stage political elites can orchestrate the public vituperation of deviant figures—the teenage “welfare mother,” the ghetto “street thug,” and the roaming “sex predator”—and close the legitimacy deficit they suffer when they discard the established government mission of social and economic protection. . . .

Punishing the Poor

shows that the prison is not a mere technical implement for law enforcement but a core political institution.


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The Condemnation of Blackness

 Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America

By Khalil Gibran Muhammad

Lynch mobs, chain gangs, and popular views of black southern criminals that defined the Jim Crow South are well known. We know less about the role of the urban North in shaping views of race and crime in American society. Following the 1890 census, the first to measure the generation of African Americans born after slavery, crime statistics, new migration and immigration trends, and symbolic references to America as the promised land of opportunity were woven into a cautionary tale about the exceptional threat black people posed to modern urban society. Excessive arrest rates and overrepresentation in northern prisons were seen by many whites—liberals and conservatives, northerners and southerners—as indisputable proof of blacks’ inferiority. In the heyday of “separate but equal,” what else but pathology could explain black failure in the “land of opportunity”?

The idea of black criminality was crucial to the making of modern urban America, as were African Americans’ own ideas about race and crime. Chronicling the emergence of deeply embedded notions of black people as a dangerous race of criminals by explicit contrast to working-class whites and European immigrants, this fascinating book reveals the influence such ideas have had on urban development and social policies.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 27 March 2008 





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