Connect with us

National

Black Leaders Push for Nationwide Police Reform

Published

on

Barbara Arnwine

Barbara Arnwine

By Freddie Allen
NNPA Senior Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – In the wake of the tragic death of Freddie Gray and the protests that followed in Baltimore, Black civic leaders continue to call for wholesale changes in policing and an end to police brutality in urban and predominately Black communities across the nation.

Barbara Arnwine, the president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan group that works to end racial discrimination and inequality, said that when the Civil Rights Coalition on Police Reform was formed, American society was long overdue for a concerted push to restructure policing in America and to prevent the killing of unarmed African Americans.

“We have been reactive, but we have also been proactively advancing a platform of policy reforms and recommendations for change,” said Arnwine.

Those recommendations include the passage of the “End Racial Profiling Act,” the mandatory use of police body cameras, better accountability of the use and distribution of federal military weapons and equipment to local law enforcement and reform to grand jury process.

Cornell Brooks, the president and CEO of the NAACP, said that the conversations happening around police killings in Baltimore, Ferguson, Mo. and beyond are painful reminders of how this whole issue hits home.

The NAACP is headquartered in Baltimore and Thurgood Marshall, “one of our greatest heroes,” lived in the Sandtown-Winchester community where Gray was arrested, said Brooks.

“We know that when an African American man is 21 times more likely to lose his life at the hands of police than his White counterpart, this is a reason to be fearful and a reason to think about running, but it is certainly not a crime,” said Brooks. “Freddie Gray is not just one victim. He stands in a long tragic line of victims that stretches across the length and the breadth of this country.”

Brooks expressed confidence in Marilyn Mosby, the Baltimore state’s attorney who filed formal charges against six police officers who were involved in Gray’s arrest and transport to Baltimore’s Western District police station.

“She did not punt this to a grand jury, which she could have done, but she chose instead as the prosecutor to take responsibility in bringing these charges which prosecutors in jurisdictions all over this country are quite able to do, but too often are unwilling to do,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, the president and director-counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., a legal group that fights for racial justice and raises awareness of disparities. “This is a beginning, this is not a conviction.”

Ifill said that the Freddie Gray case allows community stakeholders, civic leaders and law enforcement officials to have a deeper and richer conversation about this issue that has roiled the country since last year.

“This year the tide has shifted,” said Ifill. “Why has it shifted? It has shifted, because cell phone videos have shown the entire the country the kind of brutality that many residents of this country live with in terms of their relationship with the police.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has made it harder for police to suppress the record of that brutality by offering a free software application for smartphones that allows users to save video files remotely, so that even if the file is deleted or their phone is destroyed, a record of the encounter still exists.

The Missouri branch of the nonprofit group that defends constitutional rights of individuals and organizations in the U.S. released the iPhone app that enables users to record “exchanges between police officers and themselves or other community members in audio and video files that are automatically sent to the ACLU of Missouri,” according to a press release about the software.

The software, called “Mobile Justice,” also lets users send out alerts to notify others users nearby so that they can come to the scene and record the interaction.

The “Mobile Justice” app is available through the iPhone app store and for the Android platform through the Google Play store.

Pamela Meanes, the president, National Bar Association, a network of predominately Black lawyers and judges,called for changing the laws associated with policing at the state, local and federal levels.

Brooks said that a fundamental shift in the culture and modality of policing in this country is needed.

“It has been said that it’s hard to do or that this can’t be done or that this is something that might be done at some distant point in the future,” said Brooks. “The fact of the matter is there are police departments across the country that have brought down crime increased trust with the community made their police officers safer, prosecutions easier and made it more likely that witnesses will come forward by effectively deploying community policing.”

Pamela Meanes said that the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department must be appropriately funded to be able to do the type of patterns and practices investigation that they did following the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. That investigation uncovered deep-rooted racial discrimination in law enforcement and the courts that led to resignation of the city manager, court officials and eventually the police chief in the small North St. Louis County town.

On May 8, Attorney General Loretta Lynch opened a civil pattern or practice investigation into Baltimore Police Department (BPD) at the request of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

“Our goal is to work with the community, public officials, and law enforcement alike to create a stronger, better Baltimore,” said Lynch.  “The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division has conducted dozens of these pattern or practice investigations, and we have seen from our work in jurisdictions across the country that communities that have gone through this process are experiencing improved policing practices and increased trust between the police and the community.

Lynch continued: “In fact, I encourage other cities to study our past recommendations and see whether they can be applied in their own communities.  Ultimately, this process is meant to ensure that officers are being provided with the tools they need – including training, policy guidance and equipment – to be more effective, to partner with civilians, and to strengthen public safety.”

Arnwine said that, since the beginning, the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore was rife with injustice.

“We have been saying to the Department of Justice that the reason that a patterns and practice case needs to be opened against the police department in Baltimore. This case of Freddie Gray is systematic of deep and abiding culture within that department that has to be investigated fully and reversed,” said Arnwine. “This is just one step. Every officer needs to be held accountable and the racism that has infected our policing must be stopped.”

History

The Black Press: Our Trusted Messenger

Our Black newspapers are now celebrating 194 years of being the keeper of the flame of liberty and the source of information in “our” struggle for freedom and equality.

Published

on

Cover of the Oakland Post

Sometimes it’s necessary to be reminded who we are and who our friends are.  It’s also important to remember from whence we have come. 

Such is the case this week with the Black Press. Our Black newspapers are now celebrating 194 years of being the keeper of the flame of liberty and the source of information in “our” struggle for freedom and equality.

With the advent of the recent pandemic and the visible disparity of Blacks dying at greater numbers than others, getting fewer vaccines, working in the highest risk occupations and death at the hands of law enforcement, our need for a “trusted” source of information is greater than social media, which has become an alternative for many.

 At the same time, the interest in reaching our communities has increased on all levels. The question has become “who is in touch with the Black community” as injustice, murder and social disparity continues to grow among Blacks. 

The NAACP and the Urban League gave the impression that they were in touch with the Black community. But the reality is neither organization has ever been in touch with the Black community without the Black Press.  It is Black newspapers and not CNN, ABC, NBC or CBS that carries the articles and commentaries of these organizations to the Black community. 

Yet, neither of these organizations ever mentions the Black Press when taking both credit and dollars for outreach to the Black community.

The African American and Black communities of America should not be duped into believing that social media has become a substitute for the Black Press. The Black Press is now both print and electronic, it’s a newswire service as provided by the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), providing coverage of both news here in America and around the world.

 It is the Black Press that has been the “Trusted Messenger” to our communities for 194 years, and that says a lot. Our newspapers are the rear guard, the battle ground against the efforts to resegregate America and return to “Jim Crow” racism.

As we celebrate Juneteenth, let us remember that we are not only free but capable of defending and determining our futures if we get serious. Let’s remember how we got here, on the backs of those like the Black Press who bought us thus far; let us not forget in the words of James Weldon Johnson: that “ we have come over a way that with tears has been watered, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered.” We are still being slaughtered today by others as well as each other.

Let’s remember who is truly telling our story and our obligation to keep and support that effort. Pick up a Black newspaper and get involved. You owe that and more to keeping the Juneteenth principle of freedom alive today.

Editor-in-Chief note:  The Post News Group consists of nine newspapers:  Oakland, South County, San Francisco, Vallejo, Marin, Stockton, Richmond, Berkeley Tri-City and El Mundo.  We are also online at postnewsgroup.com.

Continue Reading

Black History

Juneteenth: Our Independence Day

Also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, it commemorates the end of slavery, the seminal event in Black history.

Published

on

By

Graphic courtesy istock.

June 19, or Juneteenth, is independence day for many Americans of African descent.

Also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, it commemorates the end of slavery, the seminal event in Black history.

President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation took effect on Jan. 1, 1863, but was read to slaves in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, more than two years later.

There are several different accounts of why the news of freedom took so long to arrive.

One story has it that slaves were intentionally kept ignorant about their freedom in order to allow crops to continue being harvested. Another has a messenger traveling by mule to deliver the news, and it simply took more than two years to arrive from Washington, D.C., to Texas. Yet another story has the messenger being murdered before he could deliver the message.

No matter the origin of Juneteenth, the end of slavery is definitely worth celebrating. But while much has happened in the 158 years since slavery officially ended, its legacies still remain in the form of disparate salaries, educational levels and incarceration rates.

Juneteenth, which is now observed in 48 states (North Dakota and Hawaii do not observe)  and the District of Columbia, is a time to take stock of our progress — and of the work that remains.

Last year, during the pandemic our current vice president and former senator, Kamala Harris, said:  “[m]y message on this Juneteenth:  may we honor those who suffered, died and survived the crushing reality of slavery by looking to the future.”

Twelve years ago President Barack Obama said: “African Americans helped to build our nation brick by brick and have contributed to her growth in every way, even when rights and liberties were denied to them.”

We’re still building it.

In 2021, as our state opens up post-pandemic and we deal with racial reckoning as we never have before  #BlackLivesMatter is becoming a reality. 

This year is truly our Independence Day.

Happy Juneteenth.

Continue Reading

Community

Turner Family Patriarch Turns 100, Passes the Torch

A huge fan of the L.A. Dodgers, Turner was invited to try out for the Dodgers Minor System in the early 1950s and the ambidextrous Turner once pitched a double header left-handed in the first game and right-handed in the second.

Published

on

Caption: Douglas “Buster” Turner looks out over Oakland and the San Francisco Bay from his back porch on May 28, 2021, just six days after his 100th birthday. Photo by Christy Price.

A poem written for Douglas “Buster” Turner’s 100th birthday is entitled “My Eyes Have Seen a Lot of Things.” After 100 years on Earth, that is an understatement. Turner’s life began on May 22, 1921, in Ansley, La., as the son of Nada and John Turner. 

Turner had a full childhood surrounded by his 13 siblings in Morton, Miss., where they were raised. Turner’s parents instilled in their children a sense of honor and pride by teaching them to be accountable and take responsibility for their actions while still giving them the autonomy they needed to become their own people. 

And become his own person, he did!

A young Turner served in the United States Army, completing a tour of duty in Nazi Germany during World War II. After an honorable discharge from the military, Turner utilized the benefits being a veteran offered him through the GI Bill. 

Turner married Coreene in 1940 and they took up a nomadic lifestyle in the Deep South during the Jim Crow era. They adjusted and adapted as they traveled along what his son, Eddie Turner, refers to as the ‘Chitlin Circuit,’ barnstorming with various Negro League Baseball teams through Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Georgia. Turner moved to Oakland in 1949 with the rest of the family joining him about a year later. 

A huge fan of the L.A. Dodgers, Turner was invited to try out for the Dodgers Minor System in the early 1950s and the ambidextrous Turner once pitched a double header left-handed in the first game and right-handed in the second.

The time spent on the road with Coreene, who passed away in 2015, created a bond that lasted 75 years and produced seven children. The Turners would raise Albertine, Eddie, Fred, Johnny, Michael, Mary, and Sherrie with the same family values that Turner had been raised with. 

Their door was always open to the neighborhood children and the family never met a stranger. Douglas Turner’s legacy is an open, helping hand, one of caring and sharing. 

To provide for his family, both close and extended, Turner became a union journeyman machinist. Turner employed many workers at his Mohawk Gas Station in Oakland, Calif. before the brand changed hands. When his budget kept him from buying a much needed truck, Turner’s innovation and imagination led him to repurpose a car into a truck, well before the El Camino made its debut. 

As Mr. Turner turns 100 years old and dementia confuses time and memories for him; he often revisits the past. His son becomes his brother, and he is once again a young man. 

Though the memories are fading for him, the stories of his epic journeys will not end: Turner’s children will carry on the Turner legacy of accountability, responsibility, integrity, and autonomy. The Turner family is the product of all the hard work that Turner did in making a strong family unit filled with the wonderful tales they saw through their father’s eyes. 

Continue Reading

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending