– The number of inmates in solitary confinement in California’s prisons should be sharply reduced following settlement of a suit brought by prisoners. California leads the nation in the number of inmates held in solitary confinement, with nearly 3,000 prisoners languishing in isolation. The Center for Constitutional Rights represented the inmates in court. We spoke with the Center’s deputy legal director, Alexi Agathocleous.
- Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser was shouted down by protesters when she announced draconian proposals that would target each of the city’s 10,000 people on parole or probation for surprise searches by police, on the street or in their homes, night or day. Ex-offender found to be in violation of any of a long list of rules, could be detained for 72 hours, and then put on a path back to prison. Mayor Bowser claims she’s just responding to a rising homicide rate.
- Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is an activist with the Hands Up Coalition-DC and an editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report. She calls Mayor Bowser’s plan The Fugitive Slave Act of 2015.
- Ajamu Baraka is also an editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report. Baraka is a co-founder of the U.S. Human Rights Network. He currently lives in Colombia, South America, where he recently took part in a conference of the principal Afro-Colombian self-determinationist organization, the Black Communities Process, or PCN. Colombia is the United States’ closest ally in the region, and holds the world’s record for killing labor organizers. It is second only to Syria in the number of internally displaced persons, most of them Afro-Colombians driven from their traditional lands. Ajamu Baraka says Colombia is one of the most important countries in the African diaspora.
- An independent, Black-produced film on the Ferguson rebellion is making the rounds, this summer. We spoke with producer and director Ralph L. Crowder the Third about his latest documentary, titled, “Hands Up Don’t Shoot Our Youth Movement.”
- Resistance to standardized testing in the public schools is growing by leaps and bounds. Much of the momentum is centered in mostly white suburban districts, but more Black and brown parents are deciding to OPT their children OUT of the high-stakes testing regime. About 20 percent of New York state public school students opted out, in the past school year. Peter Farruggio is on the faculty of the University of Texas, Pan American campus. He’s a long-time educator and anti-privatization activist. We asked Dr. Farruggio if the Opt-Out campaign has gotten big enough to be called a movement.
- Black people all across the country are effectively being disenfranchised by state takeovers of their public schools. So says KE-RON BLAIR, executive director of the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, a coalition of nine organizations representing more than seven million students, educators and community members. Blair says state takeovers have accelerated across the country, almost exclusively in heavily Black and brown districts.
- The Stop Mass Incarceration Network, co-founded by Dr. Cornel West and Carl Dix, is gearing up for three days of protests in New York City, October 22 through 24. The Rise Up October campaign held a rally at the First Corinthian Baptist Church, in Harlem, last Thursday, under the heading, “What We Must Do to Stop Police Terror and Murder.” The most effective testimony of the evening came from relatives of people killed by cops, like Juanita Young, the mother of Malcolm Ferguson.
- The Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations held its national conference, in Philadelphia. The theme was “Black Power Matters,” and the demand put forward was Black Community Control of the Police. The conference occurred not long after members of the HASHTAG Black Lives Matter organization failed to make any demands during their encounter with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Black Agenda Report’s Glen Ford told the Black Is Back conference that the leaders of the Black Lives Matter organization are trying to drag the Black people’s movement into the clutches of the Democratic Party, where progressive movements go to die.
- In Philadelphia, Her-DOE-jah Benton, of the Uhuru Movement, in St. Louis, Missouri, spoke to the Black Is Back Coalition conference.
- Philadelphia is notorious for the brutality of its police. But, the family of 22 year old Tyree Carrol is fighting back against a police culture of violence. The young man was beaten by dozens of cops on the street in front of his home. A neighbor recorded the beating on video tape, and activists have been mobilized. Asantawaa Nkrumah Ture is a spokesperson for Justice for Tyree Carrol.
- Baltimore community organizer Tre Murphy helped raise half a million dollars bail for Allen Bullock, the 18-year-old who smashed the window of a police car during the rebellion over the cop killing of Freddie Gray. Allen Bullock’s bail was higher than that set for any of the six cops charged in Freddie Gray’s death. Community organizer Tre Murphy says high bail is just another weapon of oppression against Black and poor people.
- Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is on the left wing of the Democratic Party, which is usually associated with anti-war positions. But, the New Hampshire senator, who claims he’s a socialist, seems to be encouraging the Saudi Arabian regime in its war against Yemen. According to Sam Husseini, of the Institute for Public Accuracy, in Washington, Bernie Sanders appears to get excited about the Saudis waging war against their neighbors.
- One thousand Black activists, scholars and artists have signed a petition in support of the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation. The petition endorses the call for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against the apartheid Israeli regime. Kristian Davis Bailey is part of the team that gathered the signatures. Bailey notes that there is a price to be paid when Black Americans take a stand for Palestine.
- Activists from Ferguson, Missouri and Greater Black St. Louis called a press conference to denounce police assaults on demonstrators protesting the killing of a Black teenager, last week, as well as the re-opening of 1,000 misdemeanor cases against demonstrators arrested during the past year of protests against the police killing of Michael Brown. Eighteen-year-old Mansur Bey was shot to death by St. Louis police, who claimed he pointed a gun at them. The neighborhood didn’t believe the cops story. When hundreds took to the streets, they were tear-gassed, with nine arrested. Activists with the Organization for Black Struggle say the police are deliberately provoking the community and trashing people’s constitutional rights. They were joined at the press conference by Attorney Denise Lieberman, of the Advancement Project, and Brendan Roediger, a professor at St. Louis University School of Law. Montague Simmons, of the Organization for Black Struggle, said the community is fed up with the cops and the local power structure.
- Dhoruba Bin Wahad, the former Black Panther Party member and co-founder of the Black Liberation Army, who served 19 years as a political prisoner, was severely beaten, earlier this month, by members of the so-called New Black Panther Party. The 71-year old Wahad and five other men were attacked by 25 to 30 people at a New Black Panther Party event at an Atlanta Hotel. A video shows the mob acting on party leader Malik Zulu Shabazz’s orders. Kalonji Jama Changa, of the Free the People Movement, was one of the men assaulted along with Dhoruba Bin Wahad. Wahad and Changa held a press conference, but Changa did all the talking, because Wahad’s jaw was wired shut.
- It’s almost time for the new school term to start. But public school teacher Marilyn Zuniga won’t be returning to class in Orange, New Jersey. She was fired after her third grade students sent get-well letters to political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal, when they learned that he had become ill. Ms. Zuniga hasn’t been able to line up another public school job, but she’s putting her time to good use.
- Supporters of Dr. Anthony Monteiro rallied near Philadelphia’s Temple University, last week, demanding his reinstatement. Monteiro is a Philadelphia native and lifelong activist. He was fired, with the university’s complicity, by Dr. Molefi Asante, who then changed the name of African American Studies to the Department of Africology. Temple University is also in turmoil because of its close ties to comedian Bill Cosby, who used to sit on the university’s board of trustees.. Cosby’s lawyer is chairman of the board. Amid all this scandal and gentrification, Dr. Monteiro says nobody at Temple University is speaking up for Black people’s interests.
The Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations holds its national conference in Philadelphia, this weekend, under the theme, “Black Power Matters: Black Community Control of the Police.” The Milwaukee chapter of the Black National Defenders is part of the Black Is Back Coalition. Organizer Amerikus Luvene says the Black National Defenders, or BND, envision one day replacing the police, altogether.
Demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri, mark a year of intense struggle since the death of Michael Brown, but, what is the State of the Movement?
A U.S. Embassy opens in Havana, Cuba.
Haiti holds its first elections in four years.
Mumia Abu Jamal, the nation’s best known political prisoner, has been confirmed to be suffering from hepatitis C, a serious liver disease that doctors believe played a part in his near-death, earlier this year, from diabetic shock. But, the State of Pennsylvania doesn’t provide adequate treatment for prison inmates with Hepatitus C. Attorney Brete Grote says the state’s inaction has caused Abu Jamal’s legal team to file papers in court.
Despite his medical problems, Mumia continues to write regular essays for Prison Radio. Here’s his latest, entitled, “Donald Trump and the Politics of Resentment.”
Mumia “May Have Been Poisoned”
Six months after Mumia Abu Jamal nearly died from diabetic shock, the nation’s best known political prisoner’s underlying illness has yet to be diagnosed, said Dr. Johanna Fernandez, a professor of history at New York City’s Baruch College and member of Educators for Mumia. Abu Jamal’s maddeningly itching skin has turned a leathery black, and his output of commentaries and analysis for Prison Radio “has diminished significantly,” said Fernandez, who fears Mumia is suffering a “deeper, systemic problem” or “may have been poisoned.” Nevertheless, “Mumia is delighted and inspired by the movement against police violence that has emerged in the country,” and will continue to speak out “from the belly of the beast.” That’s why, she said, “over and over, the state has tried to silence and kill him.”
Austerity Rendering Detroit Unfit for Habitation
A serious fire raged out control due to chronic low water pressure in Detroit, despite the majority Black city’s location in one of the world’s major fresh water regions. “The whole process of so-called rebuilding of Detroit has not been clearly thought out,” said Abayomi Azikiwe, veteran activist and editor of the Pan African News Wire. “How can you rebuild a city when you don’t have fundamental infrastructure, such as fire services, public safety, education, emergency services, simple things like being able to go to a supermarket?” The economic elite are “doing everything possible to drive out the African American population,” he said, but poor infrastructure discourages white resettlement. “What you have is the anarchy of capitalism.”
Big Business Tries to Roll Back Socialist Alternative in Seattle
Corporate contributions are pouring into Seattle Urban League chief Pamela Banks’ campaign to unseat Kshama Sawant, the Socialist Alternative councilwoman who championed the city’s $15 an hour minimum wage law. “It’s not so much about my opponent’s qualities,” said Sawant, “It’s because corporations, billionaires, the people who have an incentive to uphold the status quo, recognize that if we win re-election this year, then it really confirms to working people in Seattle and everywhere that we can prevail against the full might of big business and the political establishment.”
Mumia: “Flags and Rags”
The heritage of the Confederate battle flag is “one of terror and violence in support of a system of organized theft of Black labor, in the name of white supremacy and Black subjugation,” said Mumia Abu Jamal, the nation’s best known political prisoner, in a report for Prison Radio. “Dylan ‘Dumb and Dumber’ Roof knew, instinctively, what the flag stood for.”
Justices OK Painful Death Drug
The U.S. Supreme Court ended its term by allowing states to continue lethal injections with a cocktail that can cause horrific pain for condemned persons. “Prisoners remain less than human” in the High Court’s eyes, said Kenneth A. Hartman, a writer and prison activist serving life in California. “How else can a decision that allows for deliberate torture be explained?”
Fear of Blacks Triggered 1776 War of Independence
White settlers turned against the their mother country partly in fear that the British Crown would put guns in the hands of Blacks, according to Dr. Gerald Horne, chairman of history and African American Studies at the University of Houston and author of more than 30 books, including The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America. In 1775, the British colonial governor of Virginia established an “Ethiopian Regiment” to counter rebellious white settlers. “One of the factors that caused formerly patriotic British subjects to revolt against British rule was this ‘Black scare’ that, I argue, led to the formation of the United States of America,” said Dr. Horne, in a lecture at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Shut Down the Prisons from the Inside Prison inmates with the Free Alabama Movement have been placed in solitary confinement for advocating a national prison work strike. “Their argument is that all the attempts at prison reform and appealing to legislative bodies and courts to thwart the explosion of mass incarceration have failed, and that the only mechanism left is to shut down these prisons,” said formerNew York Times correspondent and veteran prisons activistChris Hedges, whose recent article is titled “America’s Slave Empire.” The prison gulag “can’t function without unpaid or poorly paid labor,” said Hedges. The imprisoned strike leaders urge outside supporters to boycott corporations that profit from prison labor, including the fast-food giant, McDonald’s. Newark is the Destination, July 25 “We have a pandemic of police brutality all around the United States,” said Larry Hamm, chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress, drumming up support for a Millions March Against Police Brutality, Racial Injustice and Economic Inequality, July 25, in Newark, New Jersey. “We demand an end to the murder of unarmed people by the police, and to the use of excessive force by the police,” said Hamm, speaking in Plainfield, New Jersey. “First and foremost, we want community control
Don’t Just Count Black Bodies – We Need a Program of Liberation Veteran Malcolm X Grassroots Movement activist Kali Akuno is a co-author of the 2012 report Operation Ghetto Storm, which documented the extrajudicial killing of Blacks by police, security guards and vigilantes – one every 28 hours. “We wanted to highlight, first and foremost to our own people, that we are being hunted,” said Akuno, now living in Jackson, Mississippi. “It’s basically population control and disposal of a population that is becoming unwanted and unnecessary for economic production.” Keeping count is not the point. “What’s the solution, what is the program of liberation? That is what folks should start focusing on now, while there is this upsurge, while there are young people beginning to become engaged in fighting back.” Farrakhan: Take Down the Stars and Stripes! “I don’t know what the fight is about the Confederate flag,” said Min. Louis Farrakhan, at the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church, in Washington, DC. “We need to put theAmerican flag down, because we’ve caught as much hell under that as under the Confederate flag,” he told a cheering crowd. “What flag do the police have? What flag flies over the non-Justice Department?” Pelosi Engaged
Charleston Massacre: Vintage Americana
Activist and writer Kevin Alexander Gray lives in Columbia, South Carolina, not far from the Charleston church shooter’s home town, where “a Confederate flag on the bumper of a car is just as common as a stop sign.” It’s also where Dylann Roof learned that Blacks are constantly raping white women and trying to take over the nation, said Gray. “That kind of racist talk is as old as the relationship between Black folk and white folk in America.”
Black Church Needs to Beef Up Security
“This is an assault against the Black church and its members,” said Rev. Anthony Evans, executive director of the Washington-based National Black Church Initiative, a multidenominational coalition of Black churches across the country. Rev. Evans has gone South to advise coalition congregations “how to harden their church in terms of the safety of men, women and children. They don’t have to worry about this in a white church,” he said. “We only have to worry about this in the Black church.”