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The Attack on the Capitol and the Shameful Right-Wing, Republican Response

The U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol held its first hearing on July 27. It was hard to watch, but important for Americans to witness.

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United States Capital Building in Washington DC is mostly empty during the Coronavirus pandemic; Photo Courtesy of Obi Onyeador

The January 6 attack on Congress and the U.S. Capitol was an assault on our democracy. So is the effort by congressional Republicans and their right-wing media allies to keep Americans from learning the truth about the insurrection. They are desperate to protect the people responsible for that deadly attack. We can’t let them.

The U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol held its first hearing on July 27. It was hard to watch, but important for Americans to witness.

Four officers testified, two from the Capitol Police and two from the Wash., D.C. police department. They described the physical attacks they endured and the moments in which they feared for their lives. Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn described being surrounded by an angry mob taunting him with the N-word, something he said he had never been called while protecting the Capitol.

The power of the first hearing, and the impact of the officers’ stories, testified to the importance of the select committee created by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi after Republican congressional leaders refused to join in creating a bipartisan commission to investigate the insurrection. The leader of the House Republicans, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, even tried to tank the select committee by appointing people who were intent on disrupting its work.

Thank goodness Speaker Pelosi wasn’t going to let that happen. When she refused to play McCarthy’s game, he tried to stop any Republicans from joining the panel.

To their credit, two conservative Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, decided to put country over party. They have refused to be bullied by former President Donald Trump into promoting his lies about the election. They have refused to be intimidated by threats from McCarthy and other Republicans who are downplaying the fact that a violent mob incited by Trump tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power to President Joe Biden.

I was disgusted to see right-wing activists and media figures like Charlie Kirk and Laura Ingraham mocking and belittling the police officers who were traumatized by the attack. And I am even more disgusted by the members of Congress who have betrayed and abandoned the officers who put their lives on the line to protect them.

Some Republican members of Congress dismissed the mob that hung a noose and hunted members of Congress as “tourists.” Some Republican members of Congress are calling insurrectionists “political prisoners.”

Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonnell testified that such distortions are deeply demoralizing. I believe it is possible that kind of betrayal may have contributed to the suicides of four officers who were defending the Capitol that day.

All the lies that Trump and his team can spew could not stand up to the actual experience of those officers. And that was just the beginning. There are a lot of dark corners that need some light thrown on them.

We need to learn more about what Trump was doing on January 6. We need to know which members of Congress he talked to and what he said. We need to know which members of Congress or congressional staff might have helped insurrectionists plan and carry out the attack.

We need a fuller understanding of how all the different groups promoting Trump’s stolen election lies fueled the rage of his supporters and built the momentum behind the violent mob that swarmed the Capitol.

We also need to get a better handle on some bigger picture questions, like problems of racism and authoritarianism in law enforcement. At least 17 law enforcement officers that we know about took part in the attack on the Capitol. The military needs to get a handle on the existence of white supremacy and other extremist ideologies in the ranks.

We cannot forget just how deadly and dangerous the insurrection was—and is. Trump continues to rile his supporters with the big lie that he won the election and had it stolen from him. Right-wing politicians, media personalities, and pastors spread those lies. Some still say Biden will be removed and Trump returned to power. Some talk openly of civil war.

This is all discouraging. But remember this. As loud, and mean, and violent as Trump’s supporters can be, they are still a minority. They may have the power to intimidate cowardly Republican officials. But they cannot prevent us from learning the truth about January 6.

Ben Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way.

Bay Area

Value of Marin Agricultural Products Slips 5%

As in past drought years, the resiliency of local farmers, ranchers, and their workforce was noted in the annual report. The lingering COVID-19 pandemic required agricultural producers to find new markets to sell their products to stay viable and handling complicated issues with human resources around their facilities.

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The bright spot in the new crop report was in the aquaculture sector. Tomales Bay shellfish operations experienced increased product demands as restaurants rebounded from the height of the pandemic.
The bright spot in the new crop report was in the aquaculture sector. Tomales Bay shellfish operations experienced increased product demands as restaurants rebounded from the height of the pandemic.

On the positive side, West Marin aquaculture experiences a comeback

Courtesy of Marin County

Agricultural production in Marin County shrunk by 5% in 2021 compared with the previous year, mostly because of the ongoing drought and farmers opting to fallow more of their land.

Assistant Agricultural Commissioner Scott Wise and Inspector Allison Klein presented the 2021 Marin County Crop & Livestock Report to the Marin County Board of Supervisors on June 14. The estimated gross total production value of local products was $96,656,000, down from $101,840,000 in 2020 and wiping out a 4% gain in value between 2019 and 2020. Only three times in history has Marin eclipsed the $100 million mark in annual gross value of agricultural products. The record is $111,061,000 in 2015.

As in past drought years, the resiliency of local farmers, ranchers, and their workforce was noted in the annual report. The lingering COVID-19 pandemic required agricultural producers to find new markets to sell their products to stay viable and handling complicated issues with human resources around their facilities.

“We are now seeing the data that shows the long-term impacts this drought is having on our agricultural industry, such as significant reductions in livestock, exorbitant feed costs, and fallowing of land,” Wise told the Board members. “In 2021, Marin’s share of this megadrought reached critical levels. Due to the lack of precipitation, ponds and wells ran dry and many farmers and ranchers resorted to hauling water to their ag operations. Still, there is only so much water an operation can afford to haul, so many growers had to fallow fields and many ranchers were forced to sell off animals.”

Marin experienced record low rainfall and a second consecutive dry winter, affecting everything from livestock to field crops to fruits and vegetables. It takes years to rebuild a livestock herd for specific traits and genetics, and crop and livestock producers are working hard to build drought resiliency into their operations.

The brightest news in the report came in the area of aquaculture, an important part of the West Marin economy. The total gross value of oysters, mussels, and clams jumped from $3.75 million to $8.2 million, an increase of 119%. The increase was attributed to revitalized demand by consumers after a year of coronavirus lockdowns and restaurant closures in 2020.

On the downside, field crops continued to slip in value because of the drought. The value of hay was down 49%, silage down 43% and harvested pasture down 33% (much of hay and silage are not sold but instead stay on local farms as feed). The total value of field crops fell from $14 million to just over $9 million. Also, fruits & vegetables were down 34% and nursery products went down 25%.

Livestock products led the way by accounting for 41% over the overall gross value of Marin agricultural products. However, the value of cattle was down 13%, slipping from just over $16 million to just under $14 million. Conventional milk production value was up 7% but the organic milk sector – traditionally a strong point for Marin farmers – was down 8%.

Over the past year, 21 Marin ranchers participated in a livestock protection cost-share program to help build and repair fences, purchase and support protection animals, and use scare devices to protect animals from predators. Protected animals include sheep, poultry, goats, cattle, water buffalo, and alpacas.

The annual report includes updates on pest prevention programs, sudden oak death, invasive weed management, and the organic certification program. All Marin County livestock and crop reports are online, including the new one. Reports are sent to the California Department of Food and Agriculture to be included in statewide reports.

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Activism

Juneteenth ’22: California Legislature Recognizes Reparations Task Force

“The task force, without a doubt, is probably one of the most important task forces not only in the state, but this nation, dealing with the horrors of slavery,” said Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC). “This task force is a reflection of California’s leadership and progressive nature that made a commitment to help bridge racial division and advance equity.”

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While honored by the California Legislature, the California Task Force for Reparations members presented the 483-page, Interim Report to lawmakers of the California Legislature Black Caucus. Shown from left to right are attorney Don Tamaki, Senator Maria Elena Durazo, Assemblywoman Lori Wilson, Sen. Steven Bradford, Sen. Sydney Kamlager, attorney Lisa Holder, Dr. Cheryl Grills, Dr. Rev. Amos Brown, attorney Kamilah Moore, Sen. Nancy Skinner, and Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer. CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.
While honored by the California Legislature, the California Task Force for Reparations members presented the 483-page, Interim Report to lawmakers of the California Legislature Black Caucus. Shown from left to right are attorney Don Tamaki, Senator Maria Elena Durazo, Assemblywoman Lori Wilson, Sen. Steven Bradford, Sen. Sydney Kamlager, attorney Lisa Holder, Dr. Cheryl Grills, Dr. Rev. Amos Brown, attorney Kamilah Moore, Sen. Nancy Skinner, and Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer. CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.

By Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌, California‌ ‌Black‌ ‌Media

Several members of the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans received a standing ovation from constituents of the State Legislature last week for their work over the last 12 months.

During the opening of legislative sessions at the State Capitol in Sacramento on June 16, members of the Senate and Assembly participated in the gesture that coincided with the kickoff of the state’s official Juneteenth 2022 commemorations.

“The task force, without a doubt, is probably one of the most important task forces not only in the state, but this nation, dealing with the horrors of slavery,” said Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC). “This task force is a reflection of California’s leadership and progressive nature that made a commitment to help bridge racial division and advance equity.”

Bradford, who was appointed to the task force by Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, made his remarks on the Senate floor after fellow task force panelist Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) delivered similar comments in the Assembly chambers.

Seven of the nine task force members and staff from the California Department of Justice (DOJ) were recognized at the event.

Task force members attending the ceremony were Chairperson Kamilah V. Moore, a Los Angeles-based attorney, reparations scholar and activist; Vice Chairman Dr. Amos Brown, a civil rights leader and respected Bay Area pastor whose journey to leadership started under the tutelage of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr in the 1960s; Dr. Cheryl Grills, a professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and Lisa Holder, a nationally recognized trial attorney.

Attorney Don Tamaki, Esq., an attorney best known for his role in the Supreme Court case of Korematsu v. the United States and the only non-Black member of the panel, was also in attendance.

Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon met briefly with the panel.

Task force members Monica Montgomery Steppe, a San Diego Councilmember and Dr. Jovan Scott Lewis, chair of the Department of Geography at the University of California Berkeley, could not make the trip due to prior commitments.

Several members of the CLBC attended the function, which coincided with the passage of resolution in recognition of the Juneteenth holiday in the Assembly.

Assemblymembers Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), Mia Bonta (D-Alameda), Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City), Akila Weber (D-La Mesa), Mike Gipson (D-Carson) and CLBC vice-chair Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles) showed up to support the task force members’ efforts.

The Task Force first convened on June 1, 2021, to conduct an examination of the lasting consequences of discrimination against freed slaves and their descendants.

Under Assembly Bill (AB) 3121, authored by then-Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, who is currently Secretary of State of California, the nine-member panel is charged with making recommendations for how the state can compensate Black Californians who are descendants of enslaved African Americans.

On June 1, the task force released its first interim report, a 483-page document compiled by the California Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Enforcement Section.

“The information in the interim report reveals uncovered facts about incidents that disproportionately and negatively affected Black Californians in California for 170-plus years and the country for the last 400 years,” Grills said.

“Until we have a reckoning with the truth, we cannot understand who we are as a nation. When we then begin to have that kind of reckoning, I think the specific manifestation of the harm will be easier to deal with and we will actually have an opportunity for transformative change,” Grills continued.

Over the next 12 months, Moore told California Black Media (CBM) that the task force will focus on bringing increased awareness for the interim report, community engagement, and formulating a framework of how California should compensate around 2 to 2.6 million Black Californians.

“It’s important that the California Legislature understand how important this effort is,” Moore told CBM. “This past year we’ve been working incredibly hard. The next (12 months) I categorized it as the development stage where the nine-member task force has substantive and intentional conversations about what reparations should look like.”

Video link of Sen. Steven Bradford and Dr. Cheryl Grills at the state capitol in Sacramento:  .California Task Force For Reparations at State Capitol 6.16.2022

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Bay Area

Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern Lost Re-Election: But Mailer Falsely Invoking Latino Voice Bears Watching

Traditionally, PACs form to support a candidate with more money than allowed by the conventional political contribution means. It seems the group called United Latinos Vote (ULV) was created with the intention of not only donating thousands of dollars to the Ahern’s re-election but also falsely insinuating that the money came from Latinos.

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Since the early 1970s, numerous Oakland Latino groups have been actively involved in supporting campaigns that reflected our concerns and interests. Many times, while volunteering our time to campaign, we were successful in including our issues on candidates’ platforms.
Since the early 1970s, numerous Oakland Latino groups have been actively involved in supporting campaigns that reflected our concerns and interests. Many times, while volunteering our time to campaign, we were successful in including our issues on candidates’ platforms.

By Mariano Contreras

The results of the June 7 primary election sent a message to Sheriff Gregory Ahern: Alameda County residents wanted change and desired reform. Candidate Yesenia Sanchez, although outspent by Ahern, received 52.05% to his 32.28% of the vote and will now be Alameda County’s new sheriff.

But the contest gave rise to a disingenuous new Political Action Committee (PAC) that worked for the re-election of Ahern. On May 10, a group called United Latinos Vote (ULV) spent $40,000 on a mailer supporting Ahern’s re-election. The Oakland Police Officers Association (OPOA) contributed $25,000, making them the largest donor to this PAC.

Traditionally, PACs form to support a candidate with more money than allowed by the conventional political contribution means. It seems ULV was created with the intention of not only donating thousands of dollars to the Ahern’s re-election but also falsely insinuating that the money came from Latinos.

But investigation shows that the ULV PAC has no record of ever speaking in favor or against police reform in Oakland or supporting any other local and/or Latino campaigns.

Safe neighborhoods, peaceful streets, and accountable police departments have always been priorities for Oakland Latinos. In pursuing public safety, we have also presented a diverse spectrum of sentiments and ideas based on principle and truth.

Since the early 1970s, numerous Oakland Latino groups have been actively involved in supporting campaigns that reflected our concerns and interests. Many times, while volunteering our time to campaign, we were successful in including our issues on candidates’ platforms.

As a result, we formed advocacy groups made up of longtime activists and initiated candidate forums that spoke to our Latino community. The Latino Task Force began out of this effort, and we have involved ourselves in every election cycle since the 2016 general election. We have a history and connection to Oakland.

What has ULV done in Alameda County? What have they done in Oakland?

Alameda County’s Latino population borders 23% and, by many accounts, was not friendly to an Ahern re-election. It was most opportune and worrisome that a “Latino” PAC accepted money from a group blind to Latino issues when a formidable and qualified Latina candidate decided to run for sheriff.

The OPOA has never shown any interest in addressing issues important to Latino officers such as the lack of high-ranking Latino officers or the disproportionate discipline of Latino officers in the Oakland Police Department.

Now OPOA wanted to conveniently ally itself with a new and suspect Latino group that ignores many years of opposition to the broken, heavy-handed Sheriff’s Department and the brutal mismanagement of the county’s Santa Rita Jail.

We reject this devious and failed attempt at misleading the Latino electorate! Our effort to engage our community should be grounded in trust, involvement, and knowledge of our issues, not opportunistic gamesmanship.

Mariano Contreras is a member of the Latino Task Force.

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