The Greene County Board of Education met in a virtual meeting, Tuesday, January 19, 2021with all board members in attendance. The sale of the former Birdine school property to the Town of Forkland was among the superintendent’s recommendations approved by the board. In preparation for this sale, the board had to certify to the State Superintendent of Education that any funds derived from this sale will be used for public school purposes and that it is to the benefit of the Greene County School District that Birdine School Property be sold. According to school board legal counsel, Attorney Hank Sanders, years ago county boards of education could not own real property. School property had to be in the name of the State of Alabama. The Birdine School Property was in this category and even after boards of education could own real property, property owned by the state remained with the state. “The Greene County Board of Education is now working to get the Birdine School Property out of the state and in the Greene County Board of Education by authorizing the superintendent and board president to execute the necessary documents of certification as required by the Alabama State Department of Education, ” Attorney Sanders stated. According to Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones, the Town of Forkland is prepared to purchase the Birdine School Property when all state requirements are met. In his report, Superintendent Jones noted that the total positive coronavirus cases among school personnel is 18 and to date the total that reportedly have been exposed/isolated/quarantined is 40. He assured the board the all school facilities are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized daily. Jones provided updates on the maintenance and repairs associated with various school facilities, including an update on the new roofing project at the central office. The following personnel items were approved by the board: Maternity Leave for Kalyn Bryant, Science Teacher, Robert Brown Middle School, effective January 4, 2021. Employment of Angela Taylor, Long-term Substitute Science Teacher, Robert Middle School; and Milton Jones, Greene County Board Maintenance Department. Retirement of Atausha Tinker-Mitchell, effective January 7, 2021. Rescind employment of Latonya Taylor, Special Needs Teacher, Robert Brown Middle School. She did not accept position. The board approved the following administrative service items: Sale of Birdine Elementary School to the Town of Forkland. Payment of all bills, claims, and payroll. Approval for the Extension of the Families First Coronavirus Response ACT (FFCRA) Leave until March 31, 2021. Ms. Lavonda Blair, CSFO, presented the following financial snapshot for the period ending November 30, 2020: General Fund Bank Balance – $1,124,226.97; Accounts Payable Check Register – $450,615.36; Payroll Register – $815,656.88; Combined Fund Balance – $4,424,586.70; Local Revenue: Property/Sales Taxes – $136,055.01; Bingo – $57, 873; Total Local Revenue – $193,928.01
The Eutaw City Council met for its regular meeting on January 12, 2021 at City Hall since there was no heat in the Carver gymnasium, where the Council had been meeting to assure greater social distance between the Council and city residents attending the meetings. The Council members were separated by plastic partitions and about twenty people were allowed to sit six feet apart in the Council chamber. Mayor Latasha Johnson distributed a list of standing committees and boards to the Council and asked them to help in naming people to these boards and committees. Johnson indicated that the terms of current members had ended and in some cases there were vacancies because the past appointees had died, moved away or were unable to serve for health reasons. Johnson said it was critical to name the Zoning Board since several businesses had requested re-zoning or zoning variances over the past six months and these requests had not been acted upon because the Zoning Board had not been able to meet. The Council named the following persons to the Zoning Board: John Zippert, Shirley Ann Edwards, Shermaine Stewart, Cynthia Cooper and Corey Cockrell and urged them to meet soon to act on the outstanding issues. The Council also discussed safety for City Hall in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic. Councilwoman Tracey Hunter raised the question of how well the City is enforcing the ‘mask mandate’ for local retail businesses. “Some are enforcing the mask requirement and some are not,” she said. She recommended that the police visit the businesses in town and urge them to make sure people are wearing masks in businesses. Mayor Johnson said,” We have a mask mandate and fines for not wearing masks in public and maintaining safe social distance. So, we will ask our police department to visit with businesses and ask them to enforce mask wearing to help protect all of our citizens.” In other actions, the Eutaw City Council: • Approved a liquor license for Sleepy’s Bar and Grill in West End. • Heard a report from Mayor Johnson that an audit of the city’s finances for fiscal years 2018, 2019 and 2020, are still in progress by Rick Harmon, CPA of Tuscaloosa. • Heard a report from Ralph Liverman, financial consultant, who is preparing a budget for the City’s current fiscal year. He said that he had a preliminary budget with six separate funds: General Fund, 3 Cent Gas Tax, 7 Cent Gas Tax, Streets, Water and Sewer and Capital Improvements, that he was working to refine. Liverman indicated that the City’s finances were in better shape than he expected. He said the City had three major debts, for purchase of Carver School, an IRS lien for past unpaid employee taxes and a loan for the City’s matching finds for expanding the sewer line to serve the Love’s Truckstop, which need to be repaired. • Heard a report from City Engineer Babb on revising the building permit regulations. He said these updated regulations will be available by March. • Heard a report from the Mayor that the City is inventorying all water meters to make sure they are all working properly and can interact with the city’s billing computer software to insure accurate billing. The Mayor also announced a Council work session on January 19, to meet with Kathie Horne on her agreement to serve the City in correcting and improving the water system. • Heard a report from the Mayor on her efforts to work with the County Commission and Industrial Development Authority on steps to improve the Exit 40 area on Highway 20/59 including better lighting and attracting other retail business and motels to the intersection. The three entities have pledged to work together on this and other common issues. • Discussed leasing of offices and space at the Carver School. The CRFD bingo operation and Liberty Tax, a business, have requested space in the school, which now serves as a community center. The Council needs to set a common policy on the leasing of space in the center to help with maintenance and improvement of the space. In the Council and public comments section of the meeting. Several Council members requested more information on the budget and the committees and boards that they need to appoint. The Mayor said the coming work session on January 19 would help provide more information to Council members.
As of January 20, 2021 at 10:00 AM (according to Alabama Political Reporter) Alabama had 429,655 confirmed cases of coronavirus,(21,807) more than last week with 6,283 deaths (710 more than last week) Greene County had 765 confirmed cases, (27 more cases than last week), with 23 deaths Sumter Co. had 896 cases with 26 deaths Hale Co. had 1,795 cases with 42 deaths
By Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent Nearly seven years after water provided to the residents of the majority Black city of Flint, Michigan, several officials, including former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, reportedly will face criminal charges. Snyder, his health director, and other ex-officials were informed of the legal development by the state’s Attorney General’s office on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported. The news service cited two people with knowledge of the planned prosecution, who said defense lawyers were notified about the indictments and were told to expect initial court appearances soon. The first crisis came to light on April 25, 2014, when officials sought to cut costs by switching Flint’s drinking water supply from the Detroit city system to the Flint River. The water proved highly corrosive, and because city and state officials allegedly broke federal law by failing to treat the water properly, lead filtered from pipes into thousands of homes. When Flint residents complained that their water was brown and contained a foul odor, government officials turned a blinds-eye. More residents complained of losing their hair while others developed rashes on their skin. Celebrities like Russell Simmons, Sean “Puffy” Combs, and Cher delivered gallons of bottled water to desperate residents. Simultaneously, the now late Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, offered hotel stays, meals, and water to those adversely affected. An outside examination of the water discovered large samples contained lead levels well above the action level for lead established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Some samples revealed lead levels of more than 100 times the action level. The catastrophe led to more than 9,000 children getting sick and some residents contracting Legionnaires’ disease. Some officials later admitted that they either knew about the contamination or acted too late. In addition to Snyder, former health department director Nick Lyon, and other unidentified ex-officials are facing prosecution.
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – “We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
With the start of the 117th Congress this week, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary, Budget, and Homeland Security, has reaffirmed her quest for legislation that could eventually provide reparations for slavery victims. On Monday, January 4, 2021, Jackson Lee re-introduced H.R. 40, a bill that would fund a committee to explore whether Black Americans should receive reparations for slavery. While it does not directly introduce payments, the Commission would study racial inequities and policy solutions. “In short, the Commission aims to study the impact of slavery and continuing discrimination against African-Americans, resulting directly and indirectly from slavery to segregation to the desegregation process and the present day,” stated Jackson Lee. The Congresswoman also serves as the Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations. “The commission would also make recommendations concerning any form of apology and compensation to begin the long-delayed process of atonement for slavery.” Under H.R. 40, the Commission would comprise members appointed by the White House and both Congress chambers. The bill has had increased support with 147 co-sponsors in the House, all Democrats. Because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Republicans in the Senate have indicated strong opposition to taking the measure up in that Chamber, the Georgia runoff elections count as a huge step toward getting the bill passed. Two Senate seats are at stake in Georgia, with Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock squaring off against Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. “The impact of slavery and its vestiges continues to affect African Americans and indeed all Americans in communities throughout our nation,” Jackson Lee remarked. “This legislation is intended to examine the institution of slavery in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present, and further recommend appropriate remedies. Since the initial introduction of this legislation, its proponents have made substantial progress in elevating the discussion of reparations and reparatory justice at the national level and joining the mainstream international debate on the issues.” Jackson Lee noted that some have “tried to deflect” the importance of these conversations by focusing on individual monetary compensation. “The real issue is whether and how this nation can come to grips with the legacy of slavery that still infects current society. Through legislation, resolutions, news, and litigation, we are moving closer to making more strides in the movement toward reparations,” Jackson Lee said. The Texas Congresswoman noted that she expects more co-sponsors during the new Congress. “Today, there are more people at the table — more activists, more scholars, more CEO’s, more state and local officials, and more Members of Congress,” she declared. “However, despite this progress and the election of the first American President of African descent, the legacy of slavery lingers heavily in this nation. While we have focused on the social effects of slavery and segregation, its continuing economic implications remain largely ignored by mainstream analysis.” Jackson Lee continued: “These economic issues are the root cause of many critical issues in the African American community today, such as education, healthcare, and criminal justice policy, including policing practices. The call for reparations represents a commitment to entering a constructive dialogue on the role of slavery and racism in shaping present-day conditions in our community and American society. “I believe that H.R. 40 is a crucial piece of legislation because it goes beyond exploring the economic implications of slavery and segregation. “It is a holistic bill in the sense that it seeks to establish a commission to also examine the moral and social implications of slavery. “In short, the Commission aims to study the impact of slavery and to address continuing disparities in the African American community and discrimination against the African American community, resulting directly and indirectly from slavery to segregation. “After its study, the Commission would offer proposals concerning the long-term impact of slavery and bring about solutions to these ongoing disparities in the African American Community.”
Right-wing group attacks Capitol on Jan. 6 ( Photo by Hamil/Trice Edney Communications) and Insurrectionists carry Confederate flag in Capitol attack
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – A futuristic video circulating on social media early this week features the voice of President Donald Trump calling for a “Day of Reawakening” on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2021. The three-minute video, which features images of people dressed in Trump t-shirts, hats and other paraphernalia concludes with the apparent voice of Donald Trump encouraging them to not be afraid and saying that “God will protect you.” This kind of rhetoric has heated up since the Jan. 6 violent insurrection in which thousands of vastly White Trump supporters showed up at the U. S. Capitol where thousands rioted, vandalized and assaulted police officers. Five people died as a result of the riot; including a Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick, who died from injuries he received while fighting off insurgents. Another officer, Howard Liebengood, died by suicide three days after the riot. Widespread reports, including from NBC and CNN, say the FBI has warned of more likely terrorist attacks, insurrections and riots leading up to the presidential inauguration and on that day, Jan. 20. These riots are being planned for all 50 capital cities as well as the U. S. Capitol. President Biden says he will still hold the inauguration outside of the Capital despite continued threats. A possible 15,000 National Guard troops are expected to guard the Capitol during the ceremony. People are being encouraged to watch the swearing in on television. Meanwhile, Congressional Democrats and some Republicans are moving ahead with the impeachment of Trump for the charge, “Incitement of insurrection” for his verbal encouragement that resulted in the rioters storming the Capitol. He would be the first U. S. president to be impeached twice. Trump has repeatedly told his supporters the lie that his election “was stolen” from them. Members of Congress may also face punishment for their words that day, namely Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who doubled down on Trumps lie, claiming the election was stolen and led the vote against the certification of the Biden-Harris election. Some members of Congress insist that to also have been insurrection, which the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, Section 3, cites as a reason for expulsion from the seats they hold. The Fourteenth Amendment states: “No Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.” The “Day of Reawakening” video went dead shortly after the social media website, Parler, was taken offline on Monday. Twitter and Facebook also shut down President Donald Trump’s accounts, blocking tens of millions of his followers. But tech experts believe these actions will simply drive Trump supporters and possible rioters to other more obscure platforms where law enforcement investigators can not easily track and monitor their organizational activities. A string of arrests has taken place since Monday, mainly of people involved in the Capitol break in and the threats on the lives of members of Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who they threatened to shoot, and also threats against the life of Vice President Mike Pence, who they threatened to hang for certifying the Electoral College confirmation of the Biden-Harris election. At least two Capitol police officers have been suspended and about 10 others are under investigation for their apparent involvement in the insurrection. Black leaders around the country, are calling for Trump’s immediate removal. They are also raising questions about why the Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies were not better prepared and more aggressive against the perpetrators as they have been against Black Lives Matter protestors. “What we are witnessing at this moment is the manifestation and culmination of reckless leadership, a pervasive misuse of power, and anarchy. This is not protesting or activism; this is an insurrection, an assault on our democracy, and a coup incited by President Trump,” said NAACP President Derrick Johnson during the insurrection Jan. 6. “We must not allow President Trump to continue to place our nation in peril. The NAACP calls for President Trump’s impeachment so that he will never again be able to harm our beloved country, and more importantly, its people.”
Katrina survivor and activist Barbara Robbins and her 95-year-old mother are forced from their home of 52 years, because they never received rebuilding assistance!
News Analysis By: Zack Carter Preparing for the 10th Anniversary of Katrina the Poor People’s Campaign held a Truth Commission in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. The organizer’s report cites the community’s action items, and the testimony of Barbara Robbins, with whom I had the privilege of working with for ten years, fighting for a just recovery after Katrina: “From the testimonies of these community leaders, the Saving OurSelves Coalition identified the following issues for action: • “Recover and repair the homes of Snows Quarters: Alabama Fisheries Coop leader Barbara Robbins was forced out of Safe Harbor after she became disabled. ‘We [in Snows Quarter, the African American community of Bayou La Batre]…Out of some 100 homes, only four of us received meaningful assistance. Since Katrina many of our homes flood after a hard rain and we can’t even flush the toilet. My living room floor is rotting. I am afraid my 90-year-old mother will fall through any day…”. (“A Truth Commission Begins in Bayou La Batre, Alabama”, by John Wessel-McCoy, Nov. 7, 2014/Kairos). https://kairoscenter.org/truth-commission-bayou-la-batre-alabama/
The Truth Commission also referenced a 10-page report submitted to the United Nations, five years after Katrina, authored by Louisiana and Mississippi activists which concluded on pp. 7-8:
‘The hurricane damaged communities in Alabama are the most overlooked areas by the U.S. Government, and are not mentioned in the U.S. Government’s reports to the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination regarding Hurricane Katrina” (Prepared by Advocates for Environmental Human Rights (Louisiana, USA),and The Gulf States Human Rights Working Group (Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana) https://alafishcoop.wordpress.com/2020/09/24/gulf-coast-activists-report-the-un-human-rights-committee/
Barbara Robbins was one of the thousands overlooked, but she refused to give up on getting their home repaired. With years of savings from her meager wages as a seafood worker and with a lot of borrower’s debt, Barbara hired a contractor to repair the floors. But it was a scam, like that suffered by thousands of other Katrina survivors. A photo shows the problem of the floors separating from the walls, which forced their recent departure from where they lived since 1968. Barbara Robbins, now disabled, cares full-time for her mother in a small low-income housing apartment.
Floors separating from walls in Barbara Robbins home, photo by Barbara Robbins 8/29/20
On the 15th Anniversary of Katrina, Aug 29, 2020, Barbara told me their heartbreaking story:
“When I take Mother out, the only place she wants to go, and the only safe place where we can avoid the virus, is the driveway of our home in Snows Quarter. This is where she and my father raised six children in the 1960’s and 70’s. Mother wants to go into our house, but I have to remind her it is not safe anymore. So, we just sit there in the car and reminisce for an hour or so until she finally says, ‘Okay, I’m ready to go now.’” After an emotional pause in our interview Barbara continued: “Recently the bank approved me for a trailer to put next to our home that I still hope to rebuild. I was about to rush to our apartment and give Mother the great news, but I was then told the City of Bayou La Batre will not allow trailers, even on the property we have owned for 52 years!” “We never received any Katrina rebuilding assistance, like most of us in our Black Community. And that goes all the way back to our homeowners insurance agent who refused our claim, saying we were only covered for wind damage and not water damage even though Katrina’s 130 mph winds pushed the huge surge of water through our house, and on its return to the Gulf the surge sucked all our furniture out except the large freezer that jammed in the doorway.” The powers that be in our state tried to deflect Alabama Katrina survivors’ demands for justice with the coded racist-based lie that ‘all the aid is going to New Orleans.’ Then, less than two years after Katrina, an Alabama investigative reporter revealed: (”Katrina aid goes to condo buyers near the University of Alabama’s football stadium”, by Jay Reeves, AP, August 14, 2007, Tuscaloosa News,) https://www.tuscaloosanews.com/article/DA/20070814/News/606118146/TL
The previous month the same newspaper published my Op-ed based on testimony and data provided by neglected Katrina survivors collected by Mobile County, and supported by a strong legal opinion from a national Civil Rights organization: “……more than 2,000 Katrina survivors in Alabama still stuck in FEMA campers, and hundreds more doubled up in single-family homes, desperately waiting for Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds — allocated last summer — to be released. “ The state’s failure to provide for these citizens contradicts the federal funding program’s intent to assist low- to moderate-income people and violates Alabama’s own stated objective to address unmet needs,” said Barbara Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, D.C. (“MY TURN” by Zack Carter, Tuscaloosa News, July 15,2007) . https://www.tuscaloosanews.com/article/DA/20070715/News/606117785/TL We had also received a legal boost from the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law who, on June 6, 2007 wrote a 4.5-page letter and shared their logo with three Alabama groups, and co-signed by hundreds of organizations and individuals. https://alafishcoop.wordpress.com/2020/09/24/lawyers-committee-on-civil-rights-under-law-al-activists-letter-to-state-of-al/
Thus, our coalition countered the racist propaganda and policies by uniting with Civil Rights organizations and historic African American communities in north Mobile hard-hit by Katrina, as well as Katrina survivors in Louisiana and Mississippi. See for example one of our brochures that includes several pages of riveting photos of destruction, and survivors testimonies, from north Mobile along a 30 mile stretch to the “Bayou” : (“Tour of Mobile County Katrina Survivors”. https://alafishcoop.wordpress.com/2020/09/24/flyer-for-tour-of-mobile-county-victims/
On the 2nd Anniversary of Katrina, Barbara Robbins, along with several carloads of Alabama Katrina survivors, Blacks, Asians, and Whites, attended the August 28, 2007 GULF COAST REBUILDING PROGRAM at the HBCU Dillard University in New Orleans. A featured speaker was Representative Maxine Waters. In the first two minutes of the CSPAN user video clip cited below, Representative Waters commended a Mississippi panelist for documenting unjust homeowner’s insurance companies’ schemes. She received a loud ovation after strongly stating: “it will take a revolution” to end these monopolized insurance companies’ corrupt refusal to pay claims (such as that suffered by Barbra Robbins!). Just after Rep Waters thunder, Derrick Johnson (now president of the NAACP) introduced me and the inhuman treatment of people in our state: “Zack Carter, Alabama has been largely ignored as it relates to Katrina damage you all suffered. What do you see the federal government’s response should be?”.https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4901931/user-clip-rep-maxine-waters-zack-carter My response was based on the, detailed evidence Alabama Katrina survivors had initiated, and then collected from licensed housing inspectors and summarized in a letter a Mobile County Commissioner, co-signed with us activists on July 7, 2007– documenting that there was only enough federal funds to repair or rebuild 15 – 20% of 1200 CDBG applicants who were accepted; and thousands more who missed the unjust two week, and barely publicized, deadline. (Mobile County and AL activists letter to Sen Shelby documenting Katrina damage) https://alafishcoop.wordpress.com/2020/09/24/mobile-county-and-al-activists-letter-to-sen-shelby-documenting-katrina-damage/ Barbara Robbins helped lead a Multi-Racial Coalition of Alabama Katrina Survivors
On the 4th Anniversary of Katrina Celebrating a Victory: Barbara and Gertrude Robbins are pictured with several other activists in an article on the award-winning blog Bridge the Gulf : “…in front of one of the 300-plus homes that were repaired or rebuilt in south Mobile County because of the grassroots advocacy and determined unity of all cultures, races, and creeds in The Bayou’ “.
Pictured left to right: Earl Presley; Stella Mae Smith; Paul Nelson, Zack Carter, Becky Barbour, Ernest Montgomery, Gertrude Robbins, Neece Presley, Donna Hunt, Danielle McKenzie, Phyllis Johnson, Barbara-Jean Robbins, Michael Robbins, Rosie Robbins. (Photo by Stefanie Bosarge, August 29, 2009)
“Struggle for a Home Struggle for a Home in Alabama’s Bayou”
The 15-minute video “Struggle for a Home Struggle for a Home in Alabama’s Bayou” documents how black, white, and Asian Alabama Katrina survivors joined in a decade-long active struggle for their human right to rebuild after Katrina. https://vimeo.com/55330965
Barbara Robbins is seen often in the video — including the above photo of the blistering speech she gave to the corrupt director at Bayou La Batre’s Safe Harbor in 2012, for rent gouging and evicting residents from this 100-home neighborhood built with $18 million from HUD and FEMA for homeless Katrina survivors. The “Safe Harbor” director’s response was to call the police on all of the Katrina survivors and activists gathered at this public meeting. Now in 2020, the same director and co-director recently resigned and are under investigation by the local sheriff’s office who told the press: ‘There is a substantial amount of money that comes in and not a dime has been used to improve or maintain the houses. there certainty appears to be a misappropriation of funds to put it nicely.’” (“Safe Harbor Landing raises concerns as MCSO launches investigation”, by Gaby Easterwood, WKRG, Sept. 20, 20.https://www.wkrg.com/local-news/safe-harbor-landing-raises-concerns-as-mcso-launches-investigation/ Ms. Robbins’s activism continues to this day, see the letter cited below to the present Mayor of Bayou La Batre from, Barbara Robbins, John Zippert, and me asking that he allow Ms. Robbins to place a trailer on her property as she continues to seek rebuilding assistance; and proposing a plan and for a housing cooperative that would restore the promise of affordable housing and rent-to-buy at “Safe Harbor”, dated Oct. 13, 2020. https://alafishcoop.wordpress.com/2020/10/25/letter-to-mayor-of-bayou-la-batre-from-barbara-robbins-john-zippert-and-zack-carter-oct-13-2020/
Barbara and Gertrude Robbins story is emblematic of the one million people who were displaced by the inhuman and racist policies that followed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which also and yet to be accurately calculated, greatly increased the initial death toll of some 2,000. And today, as we are hit with disasters from Coronavirus to Gulf Coast hurricanes Laura, Sally, Beta, and Delta to forest fires in California and Colorado, our human rights are increasingly trampled under Trump and the extreme racist influence of his senior advisor Steven Miller. By April of this year Trump and Miller had already cut FEMA’s budget in half — our country’s main relief agency – as they increased funding for their southern border wall and war on immigrants and their children, even separating nursing babies from their mothers! See: “FEMA Joined Coronavirus Fight with Posts Unfilled and Parent Agency Shifting Funds to Immigration” (Wall Street Journal, April 2020); see also “In the Midst of a War on the Coronavirus, Trump and Stephen Miller Redirect Funding to Their War on Immigrants”. (yuba.net, April 20, 2020) Trump and Miller are determined that survivors and victims of recent Gulf Coast Hurricanes will not be able to return to their homes in the same way that Hurricane Katrina survivors in Bayou La Batre and other Gulf Coast towns have not been able to return after a decade and a half. Many properties of Katrina survivors ended up in the hands of wealthy developers and casinos, a phenomenon documented in Naomi Klein’s 2007 book, “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”. Indeed, at the end of my interview with Barbara Robbins she told me a developer shamelessly offered a paltry amount for their property. Barbara rejected him and said: “I would rather see my home remain in ruins commemorating unjust Katrina policy”. ACTION ALERT: Please call Bayou La Batre Mayor Terry Dowdy at 251 824 2171 and ask that he allow Barbara Robbins to place a trailer on their property so she and 95-year-old Gertrude Robbins can return to the home she bought and loves.
About the author: Zack Carter is a community organizer who helped bring national attention to unjust Katrina and BP recovery policies. He was trade union activist in Mobile during the 1980’s and advocated for Labor to speak out against the Klan lynching of Michael Donald. He currently serves on the Steering Committee of the SaveOurselves Movement for Justice and Democracy.
By: Bruce C.T. Wright, Newsone A Wisconsin district attorney on Tuesday declined to bring criminal charges against the officers involved in the police shooting of a Black man in his back at close range, including the cop who fired his gun. Jacob Blake was shot multiple times in the back by the Kenosha police in August. Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey is the one who fired off the shots that left the 29-year-old Black man paralyzed from the waist down. The incident was captured in a graphic video causing major protests. According to one local reporter, Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley based his decision against bringing any charges on what he said was a lack of proof that Sheskey was not truly defending himself, an incredulous proposition considering Blake had his back turned to the officer at the time of the shooting. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents Blake and his family, described Graveley’s decision as a travesty of justice in a statement emailed to NewsOne. “We are immensely disappointed in Kenosha District Attorney Michael Gravely’s decision not to charge the officers involved in this horrific shooting. We feel this decision failed not only Jacob and his family, but the community that protested and demanded justice,” Crump said in part. “Officer Sheskey’s actions sparked outrage and advocacy throughout the country, but the District Attorney’s decision not to charge the officer who shot Jacob in the back multiple times, leaving him paralyzed, further destroys trust in our justice system. This sends the wrong message to police officers throughout the country. It says it is OK for police to abuse their power and recklessly shoot their weapon, destroying the life of someone who was trying to protect his children,” he added. Crump urged people to keep protesting peacefully for justice and vowed to “press forward with a civil lawsuit and fight for systemic change in policing and transparency at all levels.” Gravely reportedly shared his decision with Blake “minutes before” his press conference Tuesday. Reactions to the decision were absent of any real surprise despite ongoing nationwide protests against police violence and racism, which has proven to be a disproportionately deadly combination when it comes to Black suspects, in particular. Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who is Black, said he was not “shocked,” called Gravely “negligent” and suggested the DA was not in touch with reality when he made his decision. Gravely tried to justify his decision by insisting that Blake said he was armed with a knife at the time of the shooting. Of course, Blake never wielded the knife or tried to use it against the police, but that apparently is beside the point to Gravely. Allegedly, the police e feared Blake was going to drive away with his children in the car. Gravely reminded reporters during the press conference that Blake has a history of domestic violence complaints. The decision came amid a string of deadly police shootings across the country, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmad Aub2. rey and a young Black man in Columbus, Ohio, shot in the back because cops mistook the sandwiches he was holding for a weapon.