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Riots and Police Shootings Not Just a National Problem

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The faces of the men and women pictured above are some who have died at the hands of or during encounters with police from 1999-2014. This list was tweeted by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund last December.

The faces of the men and women pictured above are some who have died at the hands of or during encounters with police from 1999-2014. This list was tweeted by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund last December.

Special to the NNPA from The Miami Times

While America and the rest of the world watch with shock and dismay as Black citizens are gunned down one after the other by rouge police officers, Miami-Dade County has remained almost silent.

Bobby Worthy, president of Justice League United, staged a rally against police brutality May 7 in front of the Miami-Dade County Richard Gerstein Justice Building and it produced more media than participants and spectators.

Michael “Black Jesus” of the Black Man’s Movement and four spectators on a blistering hot afternoon joined Worthy.

“I’m shocked and disappointed that no people are here,” said Worthy, last Thursday. “We had 10,000 people come out in Ferguson, Mo. I just came from Baltimore, Md. I’ve been to North Charleston, S.C., all over the country. Never have I seen so few people interested in justice for Black people.”

But the apathy shown at this rally does not reflect national efforts. The rallying cry against the unaccountability of Black lives has been happening in pockets across the nation. Civil rights leaders rushed to the site of the dead and asked for justice on TV and radio, shouting to stopped-up ears of the justice system. But social media and mobile phone cameras have unlocked the eyes and ears of Americans, particularly the young, and a new civil rights movement has been born.

76 DEAD

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund had been documenting the death of unarmed Black men and women by the police — sometimes when they were already in police custody — from 1999-2014. The first on the list: 23-year-old Amadou Diallo, who was killed in New York after a hail of bullets was fired by police from outside his apartment. Nineteen bullets hit him. The officers were acquitted.

On Dec. 3, 2014, the day it was announced that New York Police Department Officer Daniel Pantaleo would not be indicted, the Legal Defense Fund tweeted 76 names of men and women killed by the police and known by the fund.

Since then, several unarmed Black men have been killed during encounters with police — some of them documented on cameras by witnesses. The latest to set off a literal firestorm was the death of Freddie Gray, who, after his arrest by Baltimore Police April 12, died of a spinal cord injury April 19 while still in police custody. Police said Gray was initially arrested because he ran from police in an area known for violent crime and drug sales.

Baltimore erupted, people flooded the streets and civil unrest continues, even after Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby indicted six police officers on charges ranging from second-degree murder to manslaughter and assault.

The Justice League United staged the Miami rally against police brutality, according to Worthy, as an awakening in the aftermath of the recent deaths of Gray, Walter Scott, Eric Courtney Harris, Laval Hall, Michael Brown, Kajieme Powell, Jack Lamar Roberson, Antonio Whetstone and other Blacks at the hands of police.

The North Charleston State Attorney has since indicted Michael Slager, the North Charleston police officer accused of shooting Scott eight times in the back, on a first-degree murder charge.

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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