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Opinion: The Signs Say Black Lives Matter. Yet the Very People Who Are Supposed to Protect Us too Often, in too Many Places, Don’t Seem to Agree.

[George] Floyd’s murder sparked peaceful demonstrations in cities across the country, demonstrations that, in Minneapolis and a few other places, turned toward riots. Chauvin and his co-conspirators weren’t immediately arrested for the murder. Had Floyd, an African American, done this to a white person, he likely would have been jailed immediately, with a bond too high to reach.

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May 29, Oakland. Photo by Saskia Hatvany.

The murder of George Floyd was a lynching in broad daylight.

Three police officers stood and watched as a fourth, Derek Chauvin, knelt on Floyd’s neck. They watched for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, with Floyd unresponsive for 2 minutes and 53 seconds of that, according to the criminal complaint against Chauvin. They did nothing to stop the murder.

Their silence was as much an act of violence as Chauvin’s knee. And if there were no video recording of the murder, they likely would have upheld the Code Blue loyalty, and lied about what happened.

Floyd’s murder sparked peaceful demonstrations in cities across the country, demonstrations that, in Minneapolis and a few other places, turned toward riots. Chauvin and his co-conspirators weren’t immediately arrested for the murder. Had Floyd, an African American, done this to a white person, he likely would have been jailed immediately, with a bond too high to reach.

For too long, for too often, African Americans have been brutalized without consequence. Floyd’s plea for mercy — “I can’t breathe” — was an echo of Eric Garner’s last words. Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, too often the killers walk free. The signs say Black Lives Matter. Yet the very people who are supposed to protect us too often, in too many places, don’t seem to agree.

Instead of accountability, police have been given impunity. There were 17 complaints filed against Chauvin in his 19 years on the force. Only one resulted in even a reprimand.

Too few of the police live in the communities they patrol. Too many see themselves as enforcers, not protectors. There are only a few bad apples, we are told. But the Code Blue wall of silence protects the abusers, and too often rots the entire barrel. Young officers learn that if they want to advance, if they want better assignments, better pay, more security, they have to fit in. And the rot keeps spreading.

The demonstrations are necessary. The rioting understandable but regrettable. Already, the damage done to property, the exchanges with the police becomes the subject, not the agenda that is necessary to focus on the outbreaks of rage that are inevitable.

“In the final analysis, the riot is the language of the unheard,” Dr. King taught us, “What is it that America has failed to hear?”

In the last years of the Obama administration, peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstrations occurred in cities across the country. In a stunning display of discipline and self-control, demonstrators protested police brutality and murders peacefully, shutting down major thoroughfares.

The Obama administration began an effort to encourage police reform. The sentence disparities between crack and cocaine — the “black” drug and the “white drug” — were reduced. Transfers of military weaponry to police forces were restricted. The Obama Justice Department entered into a series of consent decrees with more than a dozen police departments to encourage them to change their practices — to become more a guardian than an occupier. The consent decrees couldn’t root out racism, or dismiss the sadistic or the disturbed, but they could encourage a change in tactics, and perhaps in attitudes.

When Trump was elected, he immediately torpedoed the reforms, and terminated the consent decrees. He reopened the spigot on military weaponry and encouraged the police directly to get tough with offenders.

Last October, Bob Kroll, the president of the Minneapolis Police Union, appeared at a Trump rally to celebrate the president for freeing the police from the mild reforms of the Obama years. “The Obama administration and the handcuffing and oppression of police was despicable,” he told the crowd. “The first thing President Trump did when he took office was turn that around, letting the cops do their job, put the handcuffs on the criminals instead of us.”

Those trumpeting law and order offer African Americans neither.

Those peaceful protests were met with harsh reaction. The voices were not heard. And now, Minneapolis is in flames and the streets of America’s cities are filled with protesters.

What America has failed to hear — decade after decade — is the demand for equal justice under the law, the demand for equal opportunity, the call for basic rights — not only for African Americans but for all — the rights to a livable wage, decent housing, health care, a safe environment, a protective, not a dangerous police force. The suffering is real; the gap documented over and over, most recently as poverty, hunger and illness makes African Americans disproportionately the victims of the coronavirus.

This isn’t complicated. The solutions are known. From the Kerner Commission in 1968 on, the analyses have been done; the needed reforms detailed — and shelved. There is money enough for top-end tax cuts, for bailing out banks and CEOs, for waging endless wars across the world. There is never enough money to fund the gap.

And so the anger and frustration build, kindling ready to ignite. And time after time, an act of outrageous police brutality sets the kindling aflame.

The demonstrators are showing courage. We’ve also seen, in a few cities, police leaders show real leadership and wisdom. I pray that all also show caution. We demonstrate not only against the threat of Code Blue, but in the time of COVID-19. Masks, social distancing, care for one another are vital so the demonstrations for life don’t end up sacrificing lives to the virus.

In the midst of a pandemic, some march in the hope that America will listen. Some march without hope but because silence is no longer acceptable. Yes, Minneapolis needs to charge, try and convict the murderer and his accomplices. Yes, the Minneapolis police force needs to cleanse itself, inside and out. America too needs to listen and to change. We will come together, or we will surely come apart.

Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.

Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.

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Activism

Oakland Post: Week of June 12-18, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of June 12-18, 2024

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Bay Area

Grieving & Growing: A Healing Garden in West Oakland Is Helping Bereaved Loved Ones Glow Again

As a natural order of the human condition, we cannot escape death. Akin to life and living, death and dying are a part of our journey as spiritual beings having a human experience here on Earth. One thing we know for certain is that we will all lose someone we love or someone who loves us. And, yet still, as natural as death is, the pain and sorrow we endure when losing loved ones is beyond compare and often ridden with heaviness, regret, despair, confusion, guilt, and self-blame.

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Courtesy of Chanae Pickett
Courtesy of Chanae Pickett

By Chanae Pickett

As a natural order of the human condition, we cannot escape death.

Akin to life and living, death and dying are a part of our journey as spiritual beings having a human experience here on Earth. One thing we know for certain is that we will all lose someone we love or someone who loves us. And, yet still, as natural as death is, the pain and sorrow we endure when losing loved ones is beyond compare and often ridden with heaviness, regret, despair, confusion, guilt, and self-blame.

And when our loved ones are taken from us before their predestined time as a result of excessive use of police force, gun violence, homicide, suicide, among other unanticipated traumatic encounters, our shock, bereavement, and grief reactions become compounded, exacerbated and challenging to weather.

Is it possible to heal from the suffering that comes with grief and loss, which often feels endless, cyclical, and labyrinthine? Is there a way out? A way through grief?

While serving as a Psychiatric and Psychological Care Specialist in the United States Air Force, I evaluated, counseled, and intervened with patients at the Travis Air Force Base who were deemed a danger to themselves and others. These experiences profoundly shaped my understanding of mental health.

Despite my background as a Mental Health Technician, the sudden loss of my younger brother to suicide following our father’s unjustified killing by police while unarmed with his hands up in a church parking lot left me with feelings of professional failure and personal shame. These tragedies forced me to reevaluate my priorities, leading me to focus more on making a genuine difference in grief processing, community building, and communal healing.

Driven by my brother Immanuel aka Apollo’s artistic legacy, ancestral guidance, and our shared grief, my family and I founded the Long Live Love Foundation in West Oakland’s “Ghost Town” on June 13, 2020, to honor our dearly departed.

For, the love we hold for our ancestors lives long and for all time. Using my brother’s music and message of love as guiding principles, our missions are to offer a safe supportive communal healing space for those coping with loss and to empower survivors through indigenous, holistic and alternative restorative tribal ministry practices and vital resources.

One of our cornerstone projects is our Long Live Love Healing Garden. A sanctuary for healing, this serene space hosts wellness weekends, drum circles, yoga, and various events, offering solace and respite for those navigating grief and celebrating life.

This year I’ll be the Master of Ceremonies for our much-anticipated 5th Annual Apollo Carter Legacy Weekend on June 8th and 9th in which performers and artists from all walks of life unite for a celebratory weekend overflowing with music, poetry, spoken word, song, dance, and other performing arts. Our Open Mic Stage is a magnet for talented artists eager to express themselves, their hearts, and their spirits, beckoning them to dazzle the community with their unique gifts.

RonKat Spearman of Parliament Funkadelic will be blessing our stage on Sunday, June 9th, as well as other local bands. We’ll be spreading the joy further by gifting the community with fresh, organic fruits and vegetables courtesy of Oasis Community Farm. It’s a celebration of talent, community, and wholesome goodness! To buy a ticket, sign up to perform, donate, join us in our mission, and learn more about our work and how you can support our cause, visit us at longlivelovefoundation.com.

About the Author

Chanae Pickett is co-founder of the Long Live Love Foundation in West Oakland.

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Commentary

Opinion: Will Verdicts Help Black Voters See the Truth?

The news of Trump’s historic 34 guilty verdicts are about a week old. Has it sunk in that the man who insists on being the Republican nominee for president is the former president known officially as CFDT34? If the name sounds like a dangerous radioactive isotope, it is — to our democracy.

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CFDT34 is my coinage of a new acronym that we all should adopt. It’s shorthand for “Convicted Felon Donald Trump,” with 34 being the number of criminal counts of guilt.
CFDT34 is my coinage of a new acronym that we all should adopt. It’s shorthand for “Convicted Felon Donald Trump,” with 34 being the number of criminal counts of guilt.

By Emil Guillermo

The news of Trump’s historic 34 guilty verdicts are about a week old.

Has it sunk in that the man who insists on being the Republican nominee for president is the former president known officially as CFDT34?  If the name sounds like a dangerous radioactive isotope, it is — to our democracy.

CFDT34 is my coinage of a new acronym that we all should adopt. It’s shorthand for “Convicted Felon Donald Trump,” with 34 being the number of criminal counts of guilt.

We need to say CFDT34 aloud as a constant reminder. Too many Americans are in denial. Or just lying.

Especially, CFDT34 himself.

Trump insists it’s all a “fascist” witch hunt, but the verdicts were based on an avalanche of evidence. The defense failed to refute the statements of the National Enquirer’s David Pecker who admitted his role in the Trump campaign to catch, then kill, stories that threatened Trump’s candidacy.

The defense didn’t even attempt to explain Hope Hicks, an ally who delivered the damning testimony that Trump knew about the arrangement to pay off Daniels. Hicks was in tears telling the truth. The defense never countered.

And then there were the checks and invoices and ledger entries, that spelled out the whole scheme. The payments were lies, called “lawyer fees” but they really were reimbursements to attorney Michael Cohen who had used his own money to pay off Daniels.

Minor stuff? Not when done with the intent to violate election law. The payoff was intended to influence the election and it became an illegal campaign contribution as well.

And the hero is New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the African American man who led the prosecution. Bragg got justice for all voters denied the truth in 2016.

Contrast Bragg with Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla). the key African Americans lying for CFDT34.

Scott and Donalds lack the courage to honor the rule of law. Rigged case, they say.  Never should have been prosecuted. Where was the crime?

All of it baloney.

Prior to the historic verdicts, there was some historic polling.

Black voters were seen as abandoning Democrats, with Biden scoring just 70% of the vote. Four years ago, Biden was at 81%.

CNN called the pre-verdict polling the best results for the GOP among Black voters since Nixon.

The age breakdown is more telling. Black voters aged 50 and up were about 85% for Biden. Those who recalled civil rights battles were holding steady for Democrats.

Among Black voters under age 50, a new divide was revealed.  A reported average of polls showed young Blacks were 27% for Trump, with Biden at 64%.

Nearly a third of young Blacks were for Trump prior to the verdicts. But what would young Blacks think now? Would they back a person like Trump, a man who comes with racist baggage like the Central Park 5 saga, and is now a convicted felon?

I haven’t seen new data yet. But with Biden and Harris stepping up their attention on the Black community, talking about economics and pocketbook issues, I’d expect a turnaround when young Blacks hear the lies and the overall hypocrisy among the GOP.

About the Author

Emil Guillermo, an award-winning journalist, and commentator has covered race and politics in Hawaii, California, and Washington, DC. He has worked in newspapers, TV and on radio was host of NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

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