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Lynch’s Installation as AG Overshadowed by Charleston Tragedy

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Loretta Lynch being sworn in by Associate Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as President Obama looks on. (Freddie Allen/NNPA Photo)

Loretta Lynch being sworn in by Associate Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as President Obama looks on. (Freddie Allen/NNPA Photo)

 

By Freddie Allen
NNPA Senior Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – On the same day that Loretta Lynch was sworn-in as the 83rd attorney general of the United States using a Bible that belonged to Frederick Douglass, nine church members were shot to death as they studied the Bible at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., the oldest A.M.E. church in the South.

The next day, Lynch announced that the Justice Department would investigate the mass murder as a hate crime. She vowed that the person who was responsible for the “unspeakable acts” would be found and would face justice.

“As we move forward, my thoughts and prayers – and those of our entire law enforcement community, here at the Department of Justice and around the country – are with the families and loved ones of the victims in Charleston,” said Lynch. “Even as we struggle to comprehend this heartbreaking event, I want everyone in Charleston – and everyone who has been affected by this tragedy – to know that we will do everything in our power to help heal this community and make it whole again.”

The confessed perpetrator, Dylann Roof, 21, was apprehended in Shelby, N.C. shortly after Lynch made her statement. Multiple news outlets reported that he admitted to planning the attack and that he almost didn’t go through with it, because the church members were so nice to him.

During Lynch’s investiture ceremony, President Barak Obama said that in a country built on the rule of law, there are few offices more important than that of Attorney General.

“The person in this position is the American people’s lawyer, tasked with enforcing our federal laws and making sure they’re applied evenly and equally,” said President Obama.

He noted that Lynch “spent years in the trenches battling terrorism, and financial fraud, and cybercrime” rising from Assistant U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York to Chief of the Long Island Office, Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney.

Lynch worked to bring several New York City police officers to justice for their roles in the brutal assault of Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant in 1997, following a wrongful arrest.

“She chased public corruption. She helped secure billions in settlements from some of the world’s biggest banks accused of fraud,” said President Obama. “She jailed some of New York’s most notorious and violent mobsters and gang members. She pursued some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists and cyber criminals.”

The president joked that the timing of her installation was odd, because she hit the ground running more than a month ago, working for justice at home and abroad, after she was sworn-in at the Justice Department by Vice President Joseph Biden.

Lynch launched an investigation into the patterns and practices of the Baltimore Police Department following the tragic death of Freddie Gray while in their custody. In late May, Lynch said that nine officials with the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the organization responsible for the regulation and promotion of soccer worldwide, would be charged with a number of crimes including racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering.

“She’s already made her mark here at home and abroad because of her laser focus on the core mission of the Justice Department – the protection of the American people,” said, President Obama.

In her remarks, Lynch promised to make world of cyberspace safe, to end the scourge of modern-day slavery, and to confront the fractured relationship between American citizens’ and law enforcement.

“These are, indeed, challenging issues and challenging times. Even as our world has expanded in wonderful ways, the threats that we face have evolved in measures commensurate, and every day we seem to see an increasing disconnect between the communities we serve and the government we represent,” said Lynch. “We see all these things.”

Lynch said that even though we decided what kind of country we wanted to be 200 years ago, sometimes we forget that our greatest advances in equal rights and human rights have come after periods of heartbreaking loss and we forget that overcoming those challenges has never been easy.

“And we have not always lived up to the promises made, but we have pushed ever on,” said Lynch. “And with every challenge, we get a little bit closer.”

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Community

Assembly Candidates Confront the Issues:  Howard Terminal , Local Control of Schools, Reparations

The candidates are running to represent Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro in a June 29 special election for California State Assembly District #18, a seat that was previously held by Rob Bonta, who was recently appointed as California Attorney General.

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James Aguilar

Janani Ramachandran

Malia Vella

Mia Bonta

 

Candidates for State Assembly responded to pointed  questions on some of the critical issues facing Oakland schools and the community – including displacement, housing, reparations, public safety and returning full local control to the public schools – at a recent Education Candidate Forum on Zoom hosted by the School of Education at Holy Names University in Oakland, in partnership with the Oakland Post Community Assembly.

The candidates are running to represent Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro in a June 29 special election for California State Assembly District #18, a seat that was previously held by Rob Bonta, who was recently appointed as California Attorney General. Candidates attending the forum were James Aguilar, Victor Aguilar, Mia Bonta, Joel Britton, Janani Ramachandran, and Malia Vella.

The event was hosted by Dr. Kimberly Mayfield, dean of the School of Education at  Holy Names, who emphasized the importance of these issues for the city’s future.

“We have just come through a moral and political crisis (in this country) around racism and the government’s role in maintaining this system. We are looking for a new approach, and this is the lens we will be using today for this education forum,” said  Dr. Mayfield.

Also welcoming the candidates and the public to event were Oakland Post publisher Paul Cobb and his wife Gay Plair Cobb, who highlighted  their intense interest in schools and education. Paul Cobb is a former member of the Oakland Board of Education, and Gay Cobb served for many years on the Alameda County Board of Education.

The first question to  candidates was whether they would oppose the big money coalition of politicians and  powerful interests  behind  Oakland A’s owner John Fisher’s stadium and massive downtown real estate project at Howard Terminal. 

 Opponents of the project  argue  that the A’s proposal is vaguely worded and would come at a  high cost to Oakland taxpayers, who would foot the bill for decades. They say the development would create  a city-within-a-city, like Piedmont, that would  displace local residents and likely wreck  the Port of Oakland and its decent-paying longshore jobs, turning the city’s waterfront  and downtown into a tourist attraction like Pier 39 in San Francisco.

Of the three candidates who are considered to be the top contenders., only Janani Ramachandran was strongly opposed to Fisher’s deal. Malia Vella and Mia Bonta raised concerns but did not oppose the development. 

James Aguilar, Victor Aguilar and Joel  Britton were also against the project.

Bonta, president of the school board in Alameda, said, “I believe that there is a way for us to be able to hold the Oakland A’s accountable to the plan and the processes that they made … starting with stakeholder involvement in the environmental impact of the proposed project.”

Malia Vella,  vice mayor of Alameda and attorney for the Teamsters Union, said, “We need to have community input. The best projects are the results of a robust process that involve community stakeholders,… and an opportunity to meaningfully engage.. to get the best community benefits.”

Said Janani  Ramachandran, a social justice attorney, “I was the first candidate in this race who took an uncompromising, clear and public stand against the project … because having visited Howard Terminal, I have seen why it is entirely unfeasible and harmful to our West Oakland residents and extremely harmful to our thriving port, the fifth largest in the country.”

The candidates supported the statewide demand or reparations and the movement for Reparations for Black Students raised by community groups in Oakland.  They also backed an approach to public safety that deemphasizes policing and stresses the need for jobs, housing and health care to build safe communities. 

Candidates also backed the return of local control of Oakland schools and loan forgiveness, to end the domination of the schools  by a state-imposed trustee and the austerity program pushed by Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team (FCMAT),as well as halting the closing of schools in flatland neighborhoods.

Bonta called for “an end state receivership, which is decades old, and  the FCMAT order that has created a status of fiscal enslavement of Oakland Unified, which paired with growth of charter schools has created a structural deficit that OUSD  can’t get out from under.”

About teacher recruitment, all the candidates said would seek to end expensive standardized tests and other obstacles facing Black and other people of color who want to become teachers.

Janani Ramachandran said she would support legislation  “to remove excess and expensive tests and other barriers that .. keep Black and other potential teachers of color from entering the profession.”

 

To watch the video of the forum, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vsEi_7bXx4

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Oakland

Naismith Hall of Fame Basketball Legend Nancy Lieberman WNBA team for Oakland

The former player-coach and Gary Reeves, her development partner, have talked with Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan and members of the African American Sports Entertainment Group since March.

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Nancy Lieberman/ Wikimedia Commons

Nancy Lieberman, one of the most celebrated female basketball players over the last decades, is supporting the push to bring a WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) franchise to Oakland.

The former player-coach and Gary Reeves, her development partner, have talked with Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan and members of the African American Sports Entertainment Group since March.

Reeves said, “she (was) one of the most successful WNBA executives. In the early stages of the league’s development with the Detroit Monarchs …. she impressively operated the business side of the team into the ‘black’ and drove a fearless community outreach program. This resulted in the team having one of the largest fan bases in a large, urban-based WNBA city.”
Lieberman has spoken at length to Kaplan about possibly joining a female-led and Black-equity ownership group to bring a team to Oakland. Nancy Lieberman Charities is active today, supporting under-resourced communities across the country with PPE, food distribution, academic scholarships, job readiness programs and providing clothes to 100 new Nancy Lieberman Sport Courts for neighborhoods that don’t have up-to-date, safe playing surfaces.
Lieberman told Post Publisher Paul Cobb that she often credits the African American community for protecting her and supporting her as a child, especially when she played hoops at the legendary Rucker Park in New York City. 

Kaplan cited the June 2021 cover story of the Sports Illustrated magazine as evidence of the emergence and growth of the WNBA and its potential opportunities for diversity and equity and female and Black ownership potential.

Since Lieberman’s first interview and podcast with the Post, many Oakland-based groups have expressed interest in bringing a WNBA team to Oakland. 

Reeves said the initiatives taken by Lieberman and Kaplan should be supported and embraced by the Black community. 

Gay Plair Cobb, CEO Emerita of the PIC (Partners In Careers), said “It’s past time for Black women to also participate as co-owners with a diverse group of women investors in major sports franchises.”

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Community

California Comeback Plan

Besides a $6.2 billion tax cut to help small businesses, there will be a $250 million Cal Competes grant program which will draw businesses to relocate to California

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Photo Credit: Auintard Henderson

Gov. Gavin Newsom stopped through Oakland on Thursday to promote the “California Comeback Plan.”  It will provide an additional $1.5 billion in COVID-19 relief grants, becoming the largest relief program in the United States for small businesses.

Besides a $6.2 billion tax cut to help small businesses, there will be a $250 million Cal Competes grant program which will draw businesses to relocate to California. 

Newsom was joined by State Senator Nancy Skinner, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, Terilyn Gray, Small Business Advocate for the State of California, Cathy Adams from OAACC and Black business owners from Beastmode Barber Shop and Graffiti Pizza. 

The Post was granted an exclusive one-on-one interview with Newsom and that interview will appear on postnews.com

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