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Protestors Condemn White Minority Rule, Modern Apartheid in the St. Louis Area

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Michael Brown, Sr., right, and activist Anthony Shahid lead a protest in Clayton, Mo., the seat of government for St. Louis County. (J.A. Salaam/The Final Call)

Special to the NNPA from The Final Call

FERGUSON, Mo. (The Final Call) – White minority rule in South Africa in 1960 resulted in Black youth getting gunned down by police officers while White minority rule in Ferguson, Mo., and an entrenched White power structure is connected to the shootings and targeting of Blacks and Black youth in the St. Louis metropolitan area, said activists during a recent weekend of protests.

Demonstrations over the March 20-21 weekend coincided with the 55th anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa and hundreds of protestors journeyed to Ferguson and Clayton, Mo., to continue demands for justice linked to the shooting of unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown, Jr., last summer and a Justice Dept. report condemning systematic targeting of Blacks by police and essentially a city government that extorted money from Black residents through the police department and the courts.

The Leadership Coalition for Justice and several other groups organized the National March on Ferguson with the theme “We Can’t Stop Now!” The first day of protest was a Friday gathering March 20 with people, some from across the country, gathering in Shaw Park in Clayton, Mo., the seat of county government and offices for the county attorney who failed to indict officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown, Jr.

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Hundreds of protestors took part in demonstration in Clayton, Mo., and Ferguson, Mo., over the March 20 weekend. (J.A. Salaam/The Final Call)

Among those protesting was the young victim’s father, Michael Brown, Sr., who marched, chanted and shared a few words. “We showed up and out this weekend and I’m happy to see all the support out here, this means a lot, thank you,” he said.

“I’ve been out here marching with the organization Leadership Coalition For Justice for two days in Clayton and Ferguson, Mo., but this weekend means even more because it marks the 55th anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre, which was an incident that happened in South Africa where several youth activists decided that they were going to refuse to carry their passes during apartheid in South Africa,” said Nadeehah Azeez, a St. Louis resident who joined the protests.

“Because they were refusing to carry their passes they all left their homes marched down to the police station to turn themselves in for violating the law there. And while all these youth were out there marching, peacefully protesting, they were very intentional about being peaceful and non-violent. The police officers got nervous, someone pulled the trigger and 69 of those children ended up getting killed and several others were injured,” she said.

“We are here today because we stand in solidarity with those people who lost their lives in South Africa and we stand in solidarity with all of the unarmed Black men, women and children who have lost their lives here in the United States of America and in St. Louis,” said Ms. Azeez.

Protestors shut down and diverted traffic on a main expressway in Clayton and disrupted the flow of business in the county seat. Several municipal police departments were dispatched to help with traffic and crowd control.

The next day March 21, demonstrators joined a Saturday march on the Ferguson police station. Several hundred people carried signs, placards, chanted and called for the resignation of Mayor James Knowles and federal oversight of the police department.

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Police officer ropes off area in front of Ferguson police department headquarters during March 21 protest. (D.L. Phillips/The Final Call)

At the Saturday rally, activist Anthony Shahid of the Leadership Coalition for Justice told the crowd that Clayton police tried to plant a gun on Larry Miller, who spoke at the protest. “Listen up brothers and sisters, pay attention because you don’t know these wicked people, you are not paying attention to what I’m saying. I’m telling you they wanted to plant a gun on a brother yesterday in Clayton but got caught and it’s on video,” said Mr. Shahid.

“After the rally we walked around to where my car was parked. But one of the protestors in a wheelchair was catching the Metro train and our motto is leave no one behind so we stayed until she got on. Afterwards we drove off the lot so I can take Ralph to his car and noticed we were being followed by the police. We made several turns to the right, left and so on. When we got to his vehicle they pulled me over,” said Mr. Miller. “He said I made an illegal U-turn but it was not posted. I gave him my license and insurance card, by that time we were surrounded by four more police cars. I never experienced anything like this for making a supposed to be illegal turn.

Anyway, he came back to the car he said ‘can I speak to you a minute or do you want me to say it in front of these guys?’ I said, it’s okay these are my protest buddies, but I decided to get out the car and step to the back. He told me someone said they saw me put a gun in my waistband, is there any weapons in that car can we search that car? I said, ‘Sir, I’d rather you tell me the truth than to stand here and tell me a bold-faced lie. That’s an insult to my intelligence, we been protesting over 220 days do you think we are that stupid to bring a gun to Clayton, really sir? Don’t paint us with the same paint brush you put on the young man in Ferguson concerning the police who got shot.’

“Just like I don’t paint all cops as bad I don’t think you should do that to us, and as I was speaking with him someone yelled out, ‘You got a gun in your boot. What are you getting ready to do with that gun?’ The officer didn’t deny he didn’t have anything, instead he just started moving back and hiding it, but (we) filmed it. Then they let us go when I told the police officer that he cannot do anything to the passengers in my car if nothing is wrong with me as the driver, then they let us go.”

“I grew up in Kinloch, Mo., which borders Ferguson. The main reason I’m out here is after the murder of Mike Brown it brought back a lot of memories because every person in Kinloch had some type of negative moment in Ferguson. When I was 11-years-old walking down the street … just going into Ferguson to get an ice cream cone, two White men in a car threw a cup of piss on me and I never got over that. So I’m out here not only to get justice for Mike Brown and to end police brutality from this racist community, but I’m trying to get some satisfaction for myself for the injustice that was done to me as a kid,” said 62-year-old Larry Lewis.

“This weekend was something magical, you got a chance to see the Muslim brother, the Black Panther brothers, a lot of other spiritual religious people coming together for one cause and move with one voice and one sound. A lot of things was a little bit different because we let our elders take the lead, you know usually the youth is taking the lead but they led us to some good things this weekend,” said Marcellus Buckley, 23.

“But where we go from here is hard to say, because everyone is saying we need officials in but at the same time we feel that the whole system is guilty as hell. We say, ‘indict, convict, send that killer cop to jail, the whole damn system is guilty as hell,’ ” he chanted.

Mr. Shahid said the county executive refused to coordinate a simple stage and sound system for protestors with the mayor of Ferguson, who is trying to improve things. That means there is no respect for free speech from Steve Stinger, whose office is in Clayton, Mo., said the activist.

In a telephone interview, Mayor Knowles told The Final Call, “We committed to helping the organizers with their protest.” There are two stages and the county stage was the only one available, he said. But, the mayor added, that he was told to make a personal request to Mr. Stinger. My request was turned down, the county executive had no interest in doing anything with the protestors, said the mayor. “I told Mr. Stinger every time I work with (Min. Abdul Akbar Muhammad) or Shahid the outcome has always been positive. Mr. Stinger responded he did not like the idea of people being on a stage that has St. Louis County name on it and talking negatively about people,” said the mayor, who has been under pressure to resign.

The mayor said he told Mr. Stinger, “I would rather they be on the stage in the park than in the middle of the street.”

Democrat Stinger has a problem with the leaders of the coalition and me, and the county exec promised efforts to promote racial healing while running for office but isn’t living up to it, said Mr. Shahid. Clayton is a very affluent area, has Whites in power with few Blacks holding positions and they do not believe a problem exists, Mr. Shahid said. We plan continue to pressure him, vowed the veteran activist.

In these small municipalities in St. Louis County, not just Ferguson, young Black men are targeted and can face warrants and fines from multiple jurisdictions at the same time, said Mr. Shahid. We want a consent decree for the 88 area police departments under one authority and a civilian review board with subpoena power, he said. You can’t have the county police oversee Ferguson, he said.

We also want the police department, fire department, city officials to look like the residents of the majority Black communities, Mr. Shahid said. “We can’t win with these conditions,” he added.

There must be inclusion of Blacks in construction work so Blacks can make a living as tradesmen and not be blocked by trumped up arrest and conviction records, continued Mr. Shahid. The same people who got the world’s attention are not being given work and the insurance companies are hiring Whites for demolition and construction, he said.

“That’s a problem. We don’t want nothing built or torn down there unless Black folks are there,” Mr. Shahid said.

Activists David Royal and Tory Russell are working to get people out to vote and stress how important voting was 50 years ago and today, he said. If we elect people, the newly elected officials can appoint the police chief and mandate that Blacks be included in the rebuilding effort, he said. “How can we talk about bringing crime down and racial harmony and we don’t have anything?” asked Mr. Shahid.

Race relations could be better but the county executive isn’t setting the right tone for racial healing, said Mr. Shahid. He pointed to an article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch that has contributed to the targeting of volunteer Jana Gamble, a production assistant with a local TV station, who helped during days off over the weekend. Social media has been full of attacks and insults lobbed at the young woman, who said in an initial post that her desire was to work with everyone and get justice for everyone.

Mr. Stinger only wants to work with a select group of Black people, not everyone as he said while running for office, said Mr. Shahid. “We have to stay out there in Clayton,” said Mr. Shahid. “They are not trying to sit down with us and work with us. This thing is far from over and if anything it’s just starting now.”

Mr. Shahid also wants to boycott St. Louis and the metropolitan area, whether its tourism, sport teams, colleges or any venture that makes money.

Black History

DeBoraha Akin-Townson: Trailblazing Cowgirl

According to the Texas State Historical Association, weekend rodeos featuring Black cowboys began in the late 1940s, thanks to the formation of the Negro Cowboys Rodeo Association in 1947.

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Rodeo is a sport in which cowboys and cowgirls showcase their skills in riding and roping. Its storied history has deep roots among many Blacks and Native Americans in the Midwest and South. 

Developed during the second half of the 19th century, events mainly took place in northern Mexico, the U.S., and western Canada. Despite the numbers of Black cowboys at that time, none were able to compete.
According to the Texas State Historical Association, weekend rodeos featuring Black cowboys began in the late 1940s, thanks to the formation of the Negro Cowboys Rodeo Association in 1947. Many from this organization would eventually pass the torch to DeBoraha Akin-Townson.
Quickly rising in the sport, Townson not only picked up the torch but made history by becoming the 1989 International Professional Rodeo Association Western Region Champion and, in 1990, the first Black cowgirl to compete in the International Professional Rodeo finals in Tulsa, Okla. 

She is also the only Black woman to compete with a professional card in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association at the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association events throughout the U.S.
Very little has been recorded about Townson’s life. What is known is that she is of Native American heritage (Cherokee and Arkansas Indian) and was born in Rockford, Ill. She is about 62 years old and still married to her long-time husband, Stewart Townson. Her all-time hero, she told Indian Rodeo News, is her “maternal grandmother, who taught me to please God first through obedience and discipline. She was a true Proverbs 31 woman, and I try with all that I am to model myself after the godly example that she showed me.”
In 1980, Townson attended her first rodeo in Hemet, Calif. That’s when her interest in participating in the sport’s professional ranks was piqued.
Her event of choice was ‘barrels,’ something she had enjoyed since she was a child. In this event, a horse and rider attempt to run a cloverleaf pattern around preset barrels in the fastest time. 

Participants in this women-only event are known for quick turns and high speeds. The winner is determined by thousandths of a second, and Townson was fast. Yet she joked about a time when her horse finished the race before she did.
“It wasn’t so funny when it happened,” she told Indian Rodeo News, “but it became something that I could laugh about later. I fell off the back of my horse trying to pick up the third barrel. My horse finished the pattern without me with the fastest time of the rodeo. The barrel was up, but since I wasn’t on him when he crossed the finish line, it was a [disqualification].”
Today Townson works as a horse-racing instructor and has passed her love of the rodeo down to her children. She advises all youth to “dare to not just dream but dream big and find a rodeo mentor to advise you and spur you on.”

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Coronavirus

Journalist Describes Getting COVID-19 Vaccine in Taiwan

Taiwan’s office of foreign affairs contacted me to ask if I would be interested in receiving the Covid vaccine.

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Greg Taylor in Taiwan gymnasium where he received the first shot of the Moderna vaccine.

Taiwan’s office of foreign affairs contacted me to ask if I would be interested in receiving the Covid vaccine. I was told to go online and make an appointment stipulating that I worked as a foreign journalist.

This dispensation granted me full and unfettered access to the Moderna vaccine. However, I think this access had more to do with President Joe Biden’s campaign of 80 million doses dispensed around the world that sent 2.5 million doses of Moderna to Taiwan.

On the 14th of July, as instructed, I showed up at a designated gymnasium to receive the first of two shots. This was indeed an exception extended to the foreign press in Taiwan. I saw no other foreigners in the entire gymnasium while I was there; and I learned on the 15th of July, that most Southeast Asian foreign workers were to receive AZ (AstraZeneca)—a debated lesser vaccine in the Pfizer, Moderna, J&J regimen.

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Community

New Strain of COVID-19 Proving Fatal to Unvaccinated People

Don’t put away that mask. While the American public might be celebrating the lifting of the tightest COVID-19 restrictions in most parts of the United States, the coronavirus pandemic is far from over. 

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Technician holding tube of blood test identified with the label Covid-19 DELTA Variant. Doctor with a positive blood sample for the new variant detected of the coronavirus strain called DELTA/ Shutterstock

Don’t put away that mask. While the American public might be celebrating the lifting of the tightest COVID-19 restrictions in most parts of the United States, the coronavirus pandemic is far from over. 

According to medical doctors, the U.S. is currently dealing with a new strain of the virus, the Delta variant, which is more lethal and virulent than previous strains. The Delta variant originated in India toward the end of last year and was first identified in America in March.
The Los Angeles County Health Department is so worried about a new outbreak, it told residents to mask up again.
“Since the Delta variant is more infectious than other variants, Public Health recommends wearing a mask around others in indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status,” said the LA County Department of Health in a tweet.
Dr. Jerry Abraham, director of Kedren Vaccines at Kedren Health in Los Angeles, has already seen signs of the new strain in the Los Angeles community. He said medical professionals are already gearing up for what he called the “fifth wave” of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s already in L.A.,” he said. “We assume the rates will go back up.”
Like other viruses, COVID-19 is constantly mutating. When the virus encounters new hosts (particularly unvaccinated bodies,) it changes and gets stronger. The best way to eliminate the disease is to vaccinate about 70% of residents in a community (herd immunity,) so the virus doesn’t have any places to grow and survive.
Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and health economist and a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists in Wash., D.C., emphasized this point during a recent Ethnic Media Services virtual briefing on the efficacy of continued mask use.
“The more warm bodies the virus has, the more opportunity it will have to mutate,” said Feigl-Deing, who is also the Chief Health Economist for Microclinic International, a San Francisco-based non-profit that bills itself as an organization that revolutionize how deadly diseases are prevented and managed worldwide.” 

 “If you let it spread, it will mutate,” he warned.
Feigl-Ding added that, at this stage, reaching herd immunity is not realistic, and we need to look at alternative solutions to contain the virus, such as continued mask usage, ventilation, hand-washing, disinfecting surfaces and air purification devices.
But over the last year, the debate about vaccinations became political. A large number of people who supported former Pres. Donald Trump downplayed the virus and accused Democrats of overstating the severity of the pandemic. A lot of those skeptics even refused to take the vaccines. 

Some say they don’t trust the science. Others do it to resist what they see as pressure coming from liberals. But health experts say refusing to take one of the three vaccines approved to fight COVID-19 in the U.S. is dangerous and only allows the virus to thrive. 

Data is beginning to show the effects of politicizing public health. Deaths and infections are going up in red states, while the numbers have been steadily declining in blue states.
Medical data shows that 99% of recent COVID-19 deaths were unvaccinated people, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading virologist and director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Abraham is a big proponent of vaccination and estimates his clinic has given about 300,000 inoculations to people in the South Los Angeles area. But he still sees worrying trends. According to Abraham, only about 40% of Black men in the area are vaccinated.
Abraham also warned the situation would worsen during the fall when it gets colder, and people spend more time inside. “It’s not a matter of if,” said Abraham.

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