Archive for September, 2015

Yuvette Henderson’s Family Demands Answers to Shooting by Emeryville Police

Yuvette Henderson's brother Jameson speaks at Emeryville City Council meeting while Cat Brooks of the Anti Police-Terror Project stands next to him in support. Photo by Tulio Ospina.

Yuvette Henderson’s brother Jameson speaks at Emeryville City Council meeting while Cat Brooks of the Anti Police-Terror Project stands next to him in support. Photo by Tulio Ospina.

By Tulio Ospina

Nearly 40 East Bay residents packed Emeryville City Council this week demanding that city officials urge the Alameda County coroner’s office to release the autopsy report of Yuvette Henderson, who was killed by Emeryville police almost six months ago.

Henderson was killed on Feb 3, when two Emeryville police officers shot her after responding to a report from Home Depot regarding an alleged shoplifting incident.

Store security said the suspect appeared to be armed and had suffered a head injury, requesting an ambulance.

Henderson was pursued by the two police officers, who shot her with multiple weapons, including an AR-15 assault rifle. According to police, Henderson was in possession of a gun but never stated that she aimed the weapon at the officers.

A lot of mystery still shrouds the incident, and the Oakland Police Department, which is heading the investigation of the shooting, and the Emeryville Police Department (EPD) are refusing to release surveillance tapes of the shooting to family members.

On Tuesday, community members spoke one at time, taking up the public comments section of the city council agenda to request the release of Henderson’s autopsy report.

“I’ve talked to the coroner’s office and they told me that they’re not releasing the report because the police department has asked them not to until the police are finished with their investigation,” said civil rights attorney Dan Siegel before the city council.

Siegel announced he would represent Henderson’s family in a lawsuit against the City of Emeryville.

“The withholding of information here is strategic,” said Siegel. “There is a six month deadline to file claims with the city, which is a prerequisite for filing a lawsuit.”

Another demand that community members stressed was the removal of military-grade weapons from EPD, one of which was used when officers fired at Henderson.

“By possessing these kinds of weapons, the police are saying that they are at war with our communities and need military weapons of war to battle them,” said one Emeryville resident.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, September 4, 2015 (postnewsgroup.com)

Berkeley Activists Call for City Department of Race and Equity

Marcel Jones, David Turner III and Spencer J. Pritchard, right, speak on Black Lives Matter panel at Berkeley NAACP forum on August 29 at the Sout Berkeley Senior Center. Photos by Rasheed Shabazz.

Marcel Jones, David Turner III and Spencer J. Pritchard, right, speak on Black Lives Matter panel at Berkeley NAACP forum on August 29 at the South Berkeley Senior Center. Photos by Rasheed Shabazz.

By Rasheed Shabazz

Over 100 people gathered at the South Berkeley Senior Center Saturday, Aug. 29 to strategize ways to eliminate racial inequality in the city.

The afternoon program–“Race, Equity, and Gentrification”–featured speakers, a “Black Lives Matter” panel discussion and an open forum.

Organizers proposed creating a Department of Race and Equity in Berkeley and the developing an “African American Holistic Resource Center” to eliminate racism and promote Black healing.

Oakland City Councilwoman Desley Brooks discussed how she introduced the Department proposal during a City of Oakland-sponsored “Black Lives Matter” forum this past winter.

 Attendees of Berkeley NAACP forum on racial equality hold hands at South Berkeley Senior Center on Aug. 29.

Attendees of Berkeley NAACP forum on racial equality hold hands at South Berkeley Senior Center on Aug. 29.

Facing a cold reception when she later introduced legislation to establish the department, she rallied people through social media, events, and teach-ins.

“We kept building an army of support,” she said, explaining the large coalition that grew up in support of the new department.

Following the campaign, the city council unanimously voted to create the department.

Inequities are not always apparent to everyone, said Brooks. To illustrate inequality in Oakland’s zoning practices, she talked about the issue of zoning and the placement of clothing donation boxes.

When city staff proposed restricting locations for the green collection bins, they suggested placing them in Oakland’s flatlands and banning them from the hills and more affluent areas, she said.

“There are all types of things you take for granted,” Brooks said about how the city implements zoning regulations.

To combat unintentional bias in government, Brooks reached out to the Government Alliance for Race and Equity, an initiative affiliated with UC Berkeley’s Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society.

The national alliance partners with local and regional governments to achieve racial equity.

Following an Adeline Street Corridor meeting the same day, many expressed concerns about gentrification and the further displacement of Black residents from Berkeley.

Berkeley City Councilman Max Anderson said, “Berkeley is becoming a gated community without the gates.”

“We not going to sit by and watch this place be ethnically cleansed and economically cleansed,” he said.

Seniors, youth and people of color, and other people that make Berkeley unique are finding it difficult to remain in the city, Anderson said. “If that (diversity) goes away, the very heart and character of the community goes away.”

For those Black families still in Berkeley, there are unacceptable health inequalities.

“We’re talking about the tale of two cities, one where you’re healthy and thrive and another where you don’t,” said Babalwa Kwanele, a Marriage and Family Therapist. “We are in a state of emergency.”

The Saturday event also featured a “Black Lives Matter” panel discussion, with three UC Berkeley students: Marcel Jones, David Turner III and Spencer Pritchard.

Moni Law moderated the discussion. Other speakers included Berkeley NAACP President Mansour Id-Deen, Dr. Vicki Alexander of Healthy Black Families, and Berkeley Pastor Michael McBride.

Over the past two years, the Berkeley NAACP has led efforts to address racial profiling and discrimination in city hiring. The city hired consultants to review city employee allegations of discrimination.

Based on the findings, the “Mason-Tillman report” recommended five policy changes: auditing Berkeley’s human resources department; improving reporting requirements of applicants, employee turnover, training and Equal Opportunity complaints; creating surveys and focus groups to address the grievance process and retaliation and revising personnel rules; and improving the city’s communications methods.

In response to concerns about racially biased policing, the city has adopted the Fair and Impartial Policing policy. However, the policy has yet to be implemented, and results of data collected have not been released.

Berkeley NAACP Vice President Barbara White concluded the event emphasizing the event was not about getting Black faces in high places, but structural change.

“It’s about systems, not individuals,” White said.

The event was co-sponsored by the Berkeley NAACP, Healthy Black Families, African American/Black Professional and Community Network, the Berkeley/North East Bay Chapter of the ACLU and the East Bay Community Law Center.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, September 14, 2015 (postnewsgroup.com)

 

 

Commentary: This Is the Difference Between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders

By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Ernest Hemingway once said that courage was “grace under pressure.” Two presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, have recently tested this proposition.

Donald Trump vs. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Donald Trump vs. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

And how each man responded revealed the type of person he is and the type of president he would make: Trump authored his own doom, and Sanders opened immense new possibilities as a compassionate person and serious candidate for president.

Here’s where it went fatally wrong for Trump. During the GOP debate on Fox, when Megyn Kelly famously queried him about his attitude toward women (whom he has called “fat pigs,” “dogs,” “slobs” and “animals”) he hit back by threatening the questioner: “I’ve been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be, based on the way you have treated me. But I wouldn’t do that.”

Bad enough to alienate women in this way, but there’s even more insidious political crime here: attacking the First Amendment’s protection of a free press by menacing journalists. “I wouldn’t do that,” he said coyly.

If you wouldn’t do it, why bring up that you could? For no other reason than to stifle other journalists who might want to ask tough but reasonable questions. If Americans learned that a leader in another country was threatening reporters, we would be outraged.

Yet here it is. Right here. Right now.

During the first GOP presidential debate, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly asked Donald Trump about his insulting remarks toward women over the years. Here are five examples, from Rosie O’Donnell to Brande Roderick. (The Washington Post)

Later, after Trump had blamed her attitude on her menstrual cycle, Kelly went on what Fox says was a planned vacation. Nevertheless, Trump suggested he may have been the cause.

What kind of candidate takes credit for bullying the media? And last week, Trump allowed Univision reporter Jorge Ramos to be ejected from a press conference for asking questions about immigration without being called upon.

Ramos was later readmitted and permitted to ask about immigration, during which he said Trump could still deport immigrants compassionately. “I have a bigger heart than you do,” Trump replied. Trump’s non-specific answer to the question ended with a personal insult directed at the reporter.

Trump’s vendetta against the press extended to the Des Moines Register. When the paper issued an editorial calling for Trump to withdraw from the campaign, he refused to give the paper’s reporters credentials to attend his campaign event in Iowa in July.

He also called the paper “failing” and “very dishonest.” Other journalists he thinks have treated him harshly he refers to as “losers” or unintelligent, as if the definition of lack of intelligence is to not agree with him.

Attempting to bully the press to silence criticism of him is anti-American. He followed up this salvo on the First Amendment with a strike at the 14th Amendment, asserting that he’d like to deny those born in the country their citizenship.

The biggest enemy to the principles of the Constitution right now is Trump.

Trump’s rationale for avoiding Kelly’s debate question – that neither he nor America has time for “political correctness” – taps into a popular boogeyman.

The term “political correctness” is so general that to most people it simply means a discomfort with changing times and attitudes, an attack on the traditions of how we were raised. (It’s an emotional challenge every generation has had to go through.)

What it really means is nothing more than sensitizing people to the fact that some old-fashioned words, attitudes and actions may be harmful or insulting to others.

Naturally, people are angry about that because it makes them feel stupid or mean when they really aren’t. But when times change, we need to change with them in areas that strengthen our society.

It’s no longer “politically correct” to call African Americans “coloreds.” Or to pat a woman on the butt at work and say, “Nice job, honey.” Or to ask people their religion during a job interview.

Or to deny a woman a job because she’s not attractive enough to you. Or to assume a person’s opinion is worth less because she is elderly.

Or that physically challenged individuals shouldn’t have easy access to buildings. If you don’t have time for political correctness, you don’t have time to be the caretaker of our rights under the Constitution.

It’s easy to buy into the Trump mirage because his rising poll numbers indicate he’s actually doing well. But polls are historically misleading, and his supporters will eventually desert him.

Many, such as Tom McCarthy in the Guardian, have laid out the statistical reasons Trump can’t win, complete with graphs that show polls from past presidential candidates who were doing even better than Trump at this stage of an election, only to fade into political irrelevance, like Rudy Giuliani, Howard Dean and Ross Perot.

In 2008, Hillary Clinton was also a front-runner who unexpectedly got beat for the nomination by Obama.

Americans may flirt with the preppy life of the frathouse partier because he’s poked sacred cows, said stuff we all wish we could say (except that reason keeps us from doing it), and acted buffoonishly entertaining.

But when you wake up the next morning and he’s saying you’re now in a four-year relationship, reason comes rushing in, and it is time for the “it’s me, not you” speech.

With over a year until the elections, there are too many Republican hopefuls that dilute the polls. Once the herd thins out (Rick Perry seems out of money; Bobby Jindal out of breath; Huckabee out of touch), other candidates with more substance will have their voices heard.

And when it comes down to just three or four candidates, Trump’s blustering inarticulation and dodging of questions will seem untrustworthy.

Although each absurd, uninformed or just plain incorrect statement seems to give Trump a bump in the polls, there are only so many times supporters can defend his outrageous assault on decency, truth and civility.

Yes, a few will remain no matter what. (One 63-year-old woman told CNN that the Republicans were out to discredit Trump: “They twisted what the words were, because they’re trying to destroy him.”

No one has to twist his words because what he says is twisted enough. He speaks fluent pretzel.) But voters will eventually see the light.

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders faced his own challenge at a political event this summer, when two African American women pushed in front of him to use the microphone to demand four and a half minutes of silence to honor the death of Michael Brown.

Sanders left the stage and mingled with the crowd. Later, Trump criticized Sanders as being “weak” for allowing them to speak, but truly he showed grace under pressure by acknowledging their frustration and anger. Instead of bullying their voices into silence or ridiculing them as losers, pigs or bimbos, Sanders left.

After all, it was not his event; he was a guest. Besides, his voice was not silenced, but came back booming even louder: The next day, Sanders posted a sweeping policy of reform to fight racial inequality. (The timing coincided with Michael Brown’s death and had nothing to do with the two women.)

The two approaches reveal the difference between a mature, thoughtful and intelligent man, and a man whose money has made him arrogant to criticism and impervious to feeling the need to have any actual policies.

Trump threatens to run an independent campaign (he won’t; that’s a negotiating ploy). Trump is a last-call candidate who looks good in the boozy dark of political inebriation.

There’s a lot of complaining about the lengthy process in the United States of winnowing candidates, but this year has shown its great strength.

It gives a wide variety of people the chance to have their voices heard, and it gives voters a chance to see the candidates over a period of time when their political masks slip. Some rise to the challenge, others deflate under the pressure of nothing to say.

Two roads diverged in a political wood, and one man took the road of assaulting the Constitution and soon will be lost forever.

The other will be a viable candidate who, regardless of whether he wins the nomination, will elevate the political process into something our Founding Fathers would be proud of.

 

Donald Trump’s reponse to this column can be read at https: www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/09/02/heres-how-donald-trump-responded-to-my-essay-about-him/

 

Courtesy of the Washington Post, September 2, 2015