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Last of 10 Young White People in Racial Assault Sentenced

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In 2011 James Craig Anderson was murdered in a hate crime (Family Photo).

In 2011, James Craig Anderson was attacked and murdered in a hate crime. He was 49. (Family Photo)

Jeff Amy, ASSOCIATED PRESS

 
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The last of 10 young white people who repeatedly assaulted African-Americans in Mississippi’s capital city received the maximum sentence of 10 years in prison Friday, completing a long-running federal prosecution in the case.

The string of assaults ended in the June 2011 death of autoworker James Craig Anderson, who was beaten and run over by a truck in a hotel parking lot.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate sentenced Robert Henry Rice of Brandon to 10 years. Rice had pleaded guilty to one felony hate crime charge in January.

The attack on Anderson was the last of a series of forays that a group of white men and women made into Jackson to assault black people. Hotel surveillance video, obtained by The Associated Press and other media outlets, shows a Ford truck back up and then lunge forward at 5:05 a.m. Anderson’s shirt is illuminated in the headlights before he disappears under the vehicle next to the curb.

Rice participated in at least three earlier attacks but wasn’t present when Anderson died. That meant he could have gotten less than the top sentence of 10 years, because Wingate ruled last week that he had to base Rice’s sentence on aggravated assault charges and not Anderson’s death.

Sentencing guidelines presented Friday called for Rice to receive a sentence of seven to nine years in prison, but Wingate gave Rice the maximum sentence of 10 years, saying more time was needed to adequately account for Rice’s “long history of perpetrating a reign of terror in Jackson against helpless African-Americans.”

Wingate, who was the first African-American federal judge in Mississippi history when appointed, said the defendants had set back progress the state had made on race relations.

“It is so very devastating that we are still in the middle of an atmosphere of hate and violence perpetrated by a group of thugs,” Wingate said.

Six white men and two white women were sentenced earlier, receiving federal prison terms ranging from four years to 50 years. Deryl Dedmon, who was driving the truck that ran over Anderson, also received two life sentences in state prison. He pleaded guilty in a Mississippi court in 2012 to capital murder and hate crime.

Lawyers indicated in court last week that an 11th person, a juvenile, also faces proceedings in the case. A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Gregory Davis said officials aren’t allowed to discuss federal juvenile proceedings.

Besides Anderson’s killing, defendants admitted other racially motivated attacks, including the beating of a black man near a Jackson golf course, the beating of another man who tried to sell the suburbanites drugs, attacks on pedestrians using beer bottles and a slingshot, and an attempt to run down another black man when Rice was driving. Attorneys said in court that authorities never found any of the other victims.

Barbara Anderson Young, the victim’s sister, said family members were “overwhelmed” with emotion at the end of the case.

“If you do the crime, you will do the time,” she said after the hearing. “I hope and I pray that this doesn’t happen to anyone else, but this has really, really put a great blemish on the state of Mississippi.”

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Follow Jeff Amy at: http://twitter.com/jeffamy.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Barbara Lee

Barbara Lee Applauds 2nd Round of Workforce Funding from COVID Community Care Act Legislation

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) applauded the announcement that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will be awarding $121 million to 127 award recipients of the Local Community-Based Workforce to Increase COVID-19 Vaccine Access Program.

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Barbara Lee

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) applauded the announcement that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will be awarding $121 million to 127 award recipients of the Local Community-Based Workforce to Increase COVID-19 Vaccine Access Program.

Announced on July 27, these awards are funded with resources from provisions within the American Rescue Plan Act that Lee led through her COVID Community Care Act.  This reflects the second of two funding opportunities announced in May 2021 for community-based efforts to hire and mobilize community outreach workers, community health workers, social support specialists, and others to increase vaccine access for the hardest-hit and highest-risk communities through high-touch, on-the-ground outreach to educate and assist individuals in getting the information they need about vaccinations.

The first round of funding, which was administered in June, included an $11 million award to the Public Health Institute in Oakland and a $9.5 million award to the Association of Asian/Pacific Community Health Organizations in Berkeley. Three Oakland based organizations, the Public Health Institute, Women Organized to Respond to Life-Threatening Diseases, and Safe Passages, are recipients of this round of funding, bringing the total funding brought to organizations in CA-13 to nearly $23 million.

“We are facing another inflection point in this pandemic. We must make meaningful investments in getting everyone vaccinated—especially communities of color and medically underserved communities,” said Lee.  “I worked hard in Congress to invest in trusted messengers at the community level to build confidence in vaccines and COVID-19 prevention efforts. This is a much-needed continuation of that work, and we’ll see over a million dollars of investment on the ground in our own East Bay community.

“Our Tri-Caucus – the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and Native American member Congresswoman Sharice Davids, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone, Education and Labor Committee Chair Bobby Scott and Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro deserve credit for their hard work and support in getting this across the finish line in the American Rescue Plan.  We can see that the work of House Democrats is making a real-life impact on the ground for communities.  This is an important step, but we must continue our work to dismantle systemic racism in our public health system and ensure that vaccines are equitably and adequately distributed.”

The purpose of this program is to establish, expand, and sustain a public health workforce to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19.  This includes mobilizing community outreach workers, which includes community health workers, patient navigators, and social support specialists to educate and assist individuals in accessing and receiving COVID-19 vaccinations.  

This includes activities such as conducting face-to-face outreach and reaching out directly to community members to educate them about the vaccine, assisting individuals in making a vaccine appointment, providing resources to find convenient vaccine locations, assisting individuals with transportation or other needs to get to a vaccination site.

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Community

Congratulations to Michelle Mack

Nominated for Teacher of the Year

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Photo courtesy Michelle Mack

Congratulations to Michelle Mack, currently a pre-K lead teacher in Atlanta, Ga., who was nominated for Teacher of the Year. A 2008 graduate of St. Elizabeth’s High School who earned a degree in child psychology from San Francisco State University in 2012, Mack received her master’s from Clark University in 2015.

Mack was recognized by the Easter Seals of North Georgia (ESNG) for “serving five consistent years teaching children and helping families with the same company” and awarded the ESNG-Guice Center Award for Individual Excellence.

 

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Commentary

Whitewashing History and Suppressing Voters Go Hand in Hand 

There’s been a lot of news about the Democratic legislators in Texas who fled the state to prevent Republicans from pushing through sweeping new voter suppression laws. Gov. Greg Abbott has threatened to have them arrested to force them to attend a special session of the state Legislature.

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Element5 Digital on Unsplash

There’s been a lot of news about the Democratic legislators in Texas who fled the state to prevent Republicans from pushing through sweeping new voter suppression laws. Gov. Greg Abbott has threatened to have them arrested to force them to attend a special session of the state Legislature.

Now it turns out that voter suppression is not the only “special” project Abbott has in mind. He and his fellow Republicans are pushing a far-reaching “memory law” that would limit teaching about racism and civil rights.

Abbott already signed a bill last month restricting how racism can be taught in Texas schools. But he and other Republicans in the state don’t think it went far enough. The Republican-dominated state-Senate has voted to strip a requirement that white supremacy be taught as morally wrong. Also on the chopping block: requirements that students learn about civil rights activists Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.

It’s not just Texas. Just as Republicans are pushing a wave of voter registration laws around the country, they are also pushing laws to restrict teaching about racism in our history, culture, and institutions. CNN’s Julian Zelizer recently noted that such laws downplay injustices in our history and lead to teaching “propaganda rather than history.”

Here’s a good example:  Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said the new legislation is meant to keep students from being “indoctrinated” by the “ridiculous leftist narrative that America and our Constitution are rooted in racism.” If Patrick really believes it is a “ridiculous” idea that racism was embedded in our Constitution from the start, he has already put on his own ideological blinders. And he wants to force them onto teachers and students.

Some of these state memory laws specifically ban teaching that causes “discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual’s race or sex.” As educators have noted, that’s a recipe for erasing and whitewashing history.

“Teachers in high schools cannot exclude the possibility that the history of slavery, lynchings and voter suppression will make some non-Black students uncomfortable,” history professor Timothy Snyder wrote in the New York Times Magazine. Those laws give power to white students and parents to censor honest teaching of history. “It is not exactly unusual for white people in America to express the view that they are being treated unfairly; now such an opinion could bring history classes to a halt.”

Snyder also explained how new state “memory laws” are connected to voter suppression. “In most cases, the new American memory laws have been passed by state legislatures that, in the same session, have passed laws designed to make voting more difficult,” he wrote. “The memory management enables the voter suppression.”

“The history of denying Black people the vote is shameful,” he explained. “This means that it is less likely to be taught where teachers are mandated to protect young people from feeling shame. The history of denying Black people the vote involves law and society. This means that it is less likely to be taught where teachers are mandated to tell students that racism is only personal prejudice.”

As I wrote in The Nation, far-right attempts to suppress honest teaching about racism is meant to “convince a segment of white voters that they should fear and fight our emerging multiracial and multiethnic democratic society” and to “help far-right politicians take and hold power, no matter the cost to our democracy.”

That’s also what voter suppression bills are designed to do. We cannot tolerate either of these assaults on democracy.

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