Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families

5Sep/140

Justice for Every Other Michael Brown… Remembering Ramarley Graham

A discussion about the secrecy behind police misconduct investigations, from HuffPost Live...

Two years before Michael Brown's death, Ramarley Graham - another black, unarmed teenager - was shot and killed in his own home by a police officer. His mother Constance Malcolm joins Nancy to discuss her son's life, death and the pursuit of justice.

Originally aired on September 4, 2014

Guests:

  • Constance Malcom (New York, NY) Mother of Ramarley Graham
  • Andy King  (New York, NY) New York City Council Member, District 12
  • Jocelyn Simonson (New York, NY) Acting Assistant Professor of Lawyering, NYU School of Law

21Aug/140

Ms. Lauryn Hill… “Black Rage” & Peace for Missouri

Powerful.  Lyrics available... Visit Ms. Lauryn Hill

21Aug/140

Raw Video from North St. Louis, Missouri – Tuesday’s Public Police Execution of Kaijeme Powell

This is extremely hard to watch, but people have to begin to realize what this pattern looks and sounds like. This is what Black folks are so angry about. There are other ways to "protect and serve", and most other communities experience those other non-lethal policing strategies.

These officers were on the scene no more than 13-16 seconds before they started shooting.  And at least 9 shots were fired - likely more.  Over a butter knife at worst.

And from the brief write-up about the incident (also below), it's clear that these were pretty-much junior officers on the force, with few years of service and obviously very little capacity for discernment in these kinds of situations. I think I can appreciate the perspective of officers who find themselves in crazy situations. But I don't buy that this was one of those situations. Not after watching this extended video clip. There have to be non-lethal strategies used to disable and apprehend individuals who are believed to be a threat to their own and other people's' safety.

This madness has to stop. There are more effective ways of policing, especially when responding to individuals who are obviously suffering from some form of mental illness.

But be clear... This is not only about law enforcement policies and practices. The kind of change that has always been needed is the fundamental shift that allows people in this country - especially white people in this country - to see the essential humanity of Black life. That's what has to inform any policy and practice changes - be it related to law enforcement, education, employment, criminal/juvenile justice, as well as the judicial system.

This here, however, is unconscionable.

Also check out this article that revisits the earlier statements by St. Louis police officials, which is at odds with the video footage.

From the Huffington Post:  St. Louis Police Release Video Of Kajieme Powell Killing That Appears At Odds With Their Story

20Aug/140

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Ferguson, MO and Police Militarization (HBO)

This is from Sunday, yet the tragedy and the insanity continues...

Published on August 17, 2014

In the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, John Oliver explores the racial inequality in treatment by police as well as the increasing militarization of America’s local police forces.

19Aug/140

Police Power, Race Riots, Urban (Suburban) Unrest

Below is a discussion from Saturday's Morning Journal television talk program on CSPAN. The primary guest is Cathy Schneider, author and associate professor who teaches at American University in Washington, DC.

While I appreciate Schneider's perspective, truth-telling and advocacy, the discussion is almost just as remarkable because of the sheer ignorance and racism that pours from the mouths of the call-in guests.  This notwithstanding, it's still important to have this perspective from white folks who aren't afraid to acknowledge the racism and pathology that drives (and has always driven) these abusive and terroristic experiences of Black folks in this country.

Cathy Schneider talked by remote video from New York City about how law enforcement reacted to protests following the police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the so-called “militarization” of local police forces. Professor Schneider, the author of Police Power and Race Riots: Urban Unrest in Paris and New York, talked about past riots, the psychology of these events, and lessons learned from them. She gave her views on police over-reaction and harsh tactics and what should be done in Ferguson. She responded to telephone calls and electronic communications, including a telephone line reserved for Missouri residents.

19Aug/140

Heartfelt and Emotional Letter from Trayvon Martin’s Mother, Sybrina Fulton, to the Brown Family #Ferguson

In the midst of the continuing journey of African / African American people in this country, our job - our responsibility - is to remember the individuals whose lives have been snatched away from us, and support the families who have been most directly impacted by this institutional violence.

We remember by keeping their stories alive, by telling the stories that affirm their (and our) humanity, and by fighting unceasingly for justice.

And as we continue to fight, we have to remain mindful of the reality that these incidents and tragedies are not isolated. They form and continue a pattern of abuse and terror inflicted on our children and families over many generations.

In the spirit of remembering, and as an example of our interconnected struggle, I encourage all to read the letter written by Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, to the Brown Family. A brief excerpt follows, and the full letter can be read at Time.com.

I hate that you and your family must join this exclusive yet growing group of parents and relatives who have lost loved ones to senseless gun violence. Of particular concern is that so many of these gun violence cases involve children far too young. But Michael is much more than a police/gun violence case; Michael is your son. A son that barely had a chance to live. Our children are our future so whenever any of our children – black, white, brown, yellow, or red – are taken from us unnecessarily, it causes a never-ending pain that is unlike anything I could have imagined experiencing.

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But know this: neither of their lives shall be in vain. The galvanizations of our communities must be continued beyond the tragedies. While we fight injustice, we will also hold ourselves to an appropriate level of intelligent advocacy. If they refuse to hear us, we will make them feel us. Some will mistake that last statement as being negatively provocative. But feeling us means feeling our pain; imagining our plight as parents of slain children. We will no longer be ignored. We will bond, continue our fights for justice, and make them remember our children in an appropriate light. I would hate to think that our lawmakers and leaders would need to lose a child before protecting the rest of them and making the necessary changes NOW…

18Aug/141

Ferguson, Missouri – A City of Sharp Racial Disparities & Discrimination

From Mother Jones last week...

Here's a by-the-numbers look at who lives in Ferguson, who's in charge, who gets stopped by police, and more.

MJ - Ferguson 1

MJ - Ferguson 2

MJ - Ferguson 3

MJ - Ferguson 4

MJ - Ferguson 5

MJ - Ferguson 6

MJ - Ferguson 7

15Aug/140

More on Witness Accounts – Sounding Even More Like a Public Execution of Michael Brown

The more I hear witnesses describe what they saw, in the moment, the more it sounds like this was literally an execution of this young brother, Michael Brown, by the police officer. The question is... Why? No reason makes this justified, but the officer must be made to account for what happened.

There has been neither openness nor transparency on the part of the police department about what happened (from the officer's perspective), even if they are fabricating a scenario they believe might be more favorable to the cop in the eyes of a potential jury. There's a part of me that believes the department is trying to find some way to protect the officer. That is, after all, how it typically works. But the totality of the circumstances in this case are just so horrible that I think it makes it that much less likely that the officer can get away with this.

The number of witnesses who all seem credible and who contradict the initial claims by law enforcement (that there was some struggle over the officer's gun inside his vehicle) seem very plausible. Yet the increasingly secretive stance of the department immediately following (and even now) makes it clear that the police department and others are trying to find some way to get out of this.

I suspect we'll learn more along these lines later on today.

In the meantime, below is an additional interview with witness Tiffany Mitchell, this time from last night's Lawrence O'Donnell show on MSNBC. The interview is followed by a discussion among legal analysts about a plausible case for first degree murder.

13Aug/140

Black Kids Don’t Have to Be College-Bound for Their Deaths to Be Tragic

The piece by Jasmine Banks linked below is something I think folks should read.  I agree with the sentiments wholeheartedly.  While I understand some aspect of the intent, it absolutely feeds into this hierarchy we create in terms of who is more or less deserving of respect, dignity, compassion, even justice.

Read the entire piece here.

The message is clear...

Let me be clear: Unarmed college hopefuls don't deserve to be shot. Unarmed kids heading to work or trade school don't deserve to be shot. Unarmed kids floundering aimlessly through life don't deserve to be shot. Unarmed kids who have been in trouble—even those who have been nothing but trouble—don't deserve to be shot.

The act of pinning the tragedy of a dead black teen to his potential future success, to his respectability, to his "good"-ness, is done with all the best intentions. But if you read between the lines, aren't we really saying that had he not been on his way to college, there'd be less to mourn?

That's dead wrong.

13Aug/140

Police Fatally Shoot Man in South L.A. – Lying Down When Shot

Another police shooting of an unarmed Black man, this time in Los Angeles on Monday evening.

From KTLA in Los Angeles...

Family members said Tuesday that a 25-year-old man was complying with police orders when he was fatally shot by LAPD officers in the Florence neighborhood South Los Angeles.

Officers responded to a report of a possible officer-involved shooting at the intersection of West 65th Street and South Broadway (map) at 8:12 p.m. Monday, Lt. Ellis Imaizumi of the Los Angeles Police Department said Monday evening.

Patrol officers had “conducted an investigative stop” in the 200 block of 65th Street, and “during the stop a struggle ensued” and police opened fire, an LAPD news release issued midmorning Tuesday stated.

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Civil rights leaders called for a meeting with LAPD Chief Charlie Beck over Ford’s shooting, according to Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable President Earl Ofari Hutchinson.

“The killing of Ezell Ford — coming on the heels of the Michael Brown killing in Ferguson, Missouri — again raises the issue and problem of tense police-community relations,” Hutchinson said in a statement. “This is the sole reason we have called for a meeting … to get all the facts in the shooting and for assurances that the shooting will be subject to the most rigorous review to determine if there was any wrongdoing in Ford’s death.”