Joe L. Powell seeks Eutaw Mayoral seat

I, Joe L. Powell, humbly announce my candidacy for Mayor of Eutaw. I have served on the Eutaw City Council for 16 years and currently serving as Chairman of the Finance Committee. During these 16 years, I have also served on several committees for the Alabama League of Municipalities and currently serving on the Committee of State & Federal Legislation and Transportation, Public Safety and Communication.
I have served 16 years as a proven leader with sound decisions and if I am elected as your Mayor, I will serve you to the best of my ability with a strong leadership for all citizens. My plans for the city are: to establish an Advisory Council to the Mayor and Council from all segments of the city, a voice for all the citizens; to continue to develop Exit 40 with more infrastructures; create more jobs for our citizens; hire more Police Officers to patrol our city; hire more city workers for each department; continue to provide affordable housing for all citizens and revitalize downtown Eutaw.
I have completed the League’s Basic and Advanced Certified Municipal Official (CMO) programs and am currently working on my CMO Emeritus designation, which requires a minimum of 120 credit hours of continuing formal training in municipal government.
Through these programs, I have received formal classroom training in subjects such as council meeting procedures; parliamentary procedures; the Open Meeting Law; public records; ordinance drafting; conflict of interest; the State Ethics Law; duties of the mayor and council; tort liability; the competitive bid law; zoning and planning; annexation; municipal regulatory powers; municipal revenues and expenditures; personnel actions; and leadership development.
I was born in Greene County, Eutaw, AL, graduated from Eutaw High School in 1979, attended Stillman College and earned a BA Degree in (History) Social Sciences and Auburn University with 18 semester hours in Adult Education. I am currently employed with the Shelton State Community College as a GED Instructor.
I am a member of the New Peace Missionary Baptist in Eutaw, where I serve as Chairman of the Deacon Board, member of the Choir and Church Clerk. I am married to Elizabeth Benison Powell, we have four children: Sharnika, Al, Jocelyn and Jaleel and two grandsons, Darius and Jamari. I am currently a member of the following Local Organization: The Greene County Children’s Policy Council, Alabama New South Coalition, Eutaw Airport Authority Board, Greene County Health Advisors, AEA, and Secretary of the Greene County District Association.
I am asking that you go to the polls on August 25, 2020 and cast your vote for Joe Powell, Mayor of Eutaw, and a man with Leadership for All Citizens.

Newswire: Statue of abolitionist Frederick Douglass vandalized in Rochester, New York Park

By Nina Golgowski, Huffington Post

Frederick Douglass



A statue of abolitionist Frederick Douglass was ripped from its base in an upstate New York park over the weekend, authorities said, prompting concerns that the act may have been revenge for the nation’s ongoing removal of Confederate monuments.
The vandalism in Rochester’s Maplewood Park took place sometime on Sunday, police said. The day marked the 168th anniversary that Douglass, speaking in Rochester, gave one of his most famous speeches condemning slavery.
The statue was found at the brink of the Genesee River gorge, approximately 50 feet from the pedestal where it had stood. Its base and left hand were damaged, and there was no graffiti or any other markings left by the perpetrators, who remained at large as of Monday afternoon.
An investigation into the incident is ongoing, police told HuffPost.
The statue’s removal came as anti-racism protesters across the country have toppled or petitioned for the removal of statues and other memorabilia that commemorates the former Confederacy. The motive for removing Douglass’ statue was not immediately clear, however.
Douglass was born a slave in Maryland and, after securing his freedom, dedicated his life to abolitionism and social reforms.
In Rochester on July 5, 1852, he delivered one of his most famous speeches, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” which called out the hypocrisy in Americans celebrating independence when there were still slaves among them.
“What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim,” Douglass proclaimed.
The statue in Maplewood Park was one of 13 in Rochester that honored Douglass’ life and long-time residence in the city. The Maplewood Park holds its own historical significance, as it often served as the final stop for escaped slaves on the Underground Railroad, the secret network of routes and safe houses that slaves used to reach free states and Canada, according to the National Park Service.
Carvin Eison, a leader of the project that brought the Douglass statue to the park, told the Democrat and Chronicle that the statue’s damage is beyond repair but that another will take its place.
He questioned whether the destruction may be related to the removal of other monuments across the country, in a possible act of “retaliation.”
“They can topple over this monument, they could go topple over all of them, this monument will still stand because the ideas behind it are bigger than the monument,” he told local news station WROC.
Rev. Julius D Jackson Jr., whose historically Black fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha, led a march to Douglass’ gravesite in Rochester on Sunday, also said he wouldn’t be surprised if the act was done out of retaliation.
“We’ve been down this road before,” Jackson told WROC, citing the 2018 vandalism of another Douglass statue in the city. “I would like to believe it’s not that, it was just some kids. But it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s some retaliatory, something going on.”
Two college students were charged for the 2018 incident. Both reportedly apologized for what happened and blamed alcohol, not racism, for fueling the act.

Newswire : Native American groups ask NFL to force Washington Redskins name change

By: Stephen Whyno, AP Sports Writer

Native Americans protest racism

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than a dozen Native American leaders and organizations sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday calling for the league to force Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder to change the team name immediately.

The letter was signed by 15 Native American advocates and obtained by The Associated Press. It demands the team and the NFL cease the use of Native American names, imagery and logos — with specific importance put on Washington, which last week launched a “ thorough review ” of its name.

The letter was delivered on the same day that President Donald Trump voiced his opposition to any name change by the team. Several team sponsors have come out in favor of change recently and Snyder showed his first indication of willingness to do so amid a nationwide movement to erase racially insensitive symbols.

According to their letter, the groups “expect the NFL to engage in a robust, meaningful reconciliation process with Native American movement leaders, tribes, and organizations to repair the decades of emotional violence and other serious harms this racist team name has caused to Native Peoples.”

The NFL did not immediately respond to a message confirming receipt of the letter. Goodell last week expressed support for Snyder’s review process of the name.

Retired PGA Tour golfer Notah Begay, IllumiNative founder Crystal Echo Hawk, two former executive directors of the National Congress of American Indians and several authors and professors signed on to the letter, which wants a full re-branding of the team “to ensure that continuing harm is not perpetuated by anyone.”

Trump is against re-branding the Redskins and Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians, who are also considering a name change.

Trump tweeted: “They name teams out of STRENGTH, not weakness, but now the Washington Redskins & Cleveland Indians, two fabled sports franchises, look like they are going to be changing their names in order to be politically correct.”

Snyder had been steadfast against changing the name on several occasions since buying the team in 1999. Last week, sponsors FedEx, PepsiCo, Nike and Bank of America released statements saying they requested a change, and several online stores removed the team’s gear.

“We believe it is time for a change,” PepsiCo said.

FedEx CEO Frederick Smith is a minority owner, and the company is the title sponsor of the team’s stadium in Landover, Maryland. The sudden flood of sponsors coming out against the name prompted the organizational review announced Friday.

“This process allows the team to take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise but also input from our alumni, the organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field,” Snyder said.

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in May sparked protests and a nationwide debate on racism. That conversation renewed calls for Snyder to change the name called a “dictionary defined racial slur” by Native American advocates and experts.

“We’ve never been faced with a greater opportunity and moment for this to finally happen,” Echo Hawk said last month.

“Native Americans have been working and fighting on this issue for decades, decades and decades, and I think really talking with different Native leaders around the country, this is the moment. There’s really no excuse now for this Washington team and for the NFL to do the right thing.”

Greene County Commission approves resolution requiring face coverings to slow spread of coronavirus; reaches partial agreement with Sheriff on budget shortfall

In a specially called telephone conference call on Monday, June 29, 2020, the Greene County Commission adopted a resolution requiring people to wear face coverings, when they are in public settings, in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The resolution is a response to the continuing rise in coronavirus cases in the state and in Greene County. During the month of June, cases in the State of Alabama rose from 18,000 to over 37,000 with deaths increasing from 653 to 986.
In Greene County cases increased from 95 with 4 deaths to 164 with 7 deaths.
The County’s resolution which goes into effect at 5:00 PM on Wednesday, July 1, 2020 and continues indefinitely until changed by the Commission, has some exceptions. You do not need to wear a mask at home, driving in your car, and when you are outdoors, with less than ten people, who are socially distancing, by at least six feet.
The County’s resolution as contrasted with the City of Eutaw’s ordinance, has no enforcement provisions or penalty for non-compliance. The Eutaw ordinance has a warning ticket for the first offense and a $25 fine for each additional violation.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the nation’s Federal health agency strongly encourages the wearing of face coverings – masks, when people are in public settings as a preventive measure to stop the spread the highly contagious novel coronavirus.
The City’s ordinance is printed in full in our Legal Advertisement section.
According to Commissioner Chair, Allen Turner, the County Commission declined to run their full resolution as a Legal Advertisement.
Commission reaches partial agreement with Sheriff Benison on budget shortfall
The Greene County Commission held two recessed meetings in the past two weeks to discuss the budget shortfall in the Sheriff’s account for personnel and operations. These meetings were held in Executive Session, behind closed doors because they involve legal matters and the name and character of individual employees. After the Executive Sessions, Commission Chair Allen Turner informed the public that no formal official votes were taken to resolve the matters under discussion in the private sessions.
The Greene County Democrat was provided with an exchange of letters between the Greene County Commission and Sheriff Joe Benison on the status of the Sheriff’s Department budget. In prior discussions and negotiations, the Sheriff had agreed to pay supplementary funds to support the employment of staff positions for deputies and jailers beyond the amounts contained in the basic Commission budget for 2019-2020 fiscal year, which began on October 1, 2019.
In its June 23, 2020 letter to the Sheriff, the Greene County Commission indicates that the Sheriff has, as of June 2020, spent all but 9% of budgeted funds for personnel and that there are no other funds that can be transferred to this line item. The County has continued to pay all of the Sheriff’s staff under a prior agreement that the Sheriff would reimburse the county, presumably from electronic bingo fees earned by the Sheriff. The Sheriff has not paid the agreed upon amounts.
In the letter, the Commission states for the six months, January to June 2020, the Sheriff has paid $381,264 of $ 759,303 owed for additional staff above the budgeted number. The Commission also requests immediate payment of two pay periods, at $41,473.10 per pay period, for salaries – $82,964.20; and an additional $100,000 to replenish other budget items that have been depleted to pay staff to date. The Commission also requests payment of $163,000 monthly, starting July 1, as provided in its original agreement with the Sheriff. The Commission says in its letter if the required payments are not made, then reductions in staffing will be implemented.
In his letter of June 25, 2020, Sheriff Benison responds to the County Commission by saying that events, more specifically the COVID-19 pandemic, which interrupted electronic bingo from mid-March to mid June, have occurred, which make it impossible for the Sheriff’s Department to meet its commitments under the original September 2019 agreement.
The Sheriff requests that the 2019 contract be declared null and void, canceling his $ 378,039 debt to the county because of the unforeseen circumstances of COVID-19. The Sheriff agrees to pay $41,473.10, for each two week payroll, starting now and each two weeks following. He also agrees to pay the County Commission $104,973 in bingo fees for the month of July and as much as $135,363 in ensuing months. Under the Sheriff’s bingo rules, the Commission is entitled to these funds, when bingo is operational. The Commission has budgeted these funds for a match fund for Federal and State road and bridge projects.The Sheriff seems to be suggesting that the Commission use these funds to make up the deficit in his operational budget. The Sheriff also requests that there be no layoffs in staff for this fiscal year period.
The Sheriff and the County Commission discussed the issues in their respective letters behind closed doors in the Executive Session. They were not able to reach a full resolution of the issues. The County Commission was unwilling to release the Sheriff from his obligations under the original contract and still holds him responsible for the $378,039 debt.
We have learned that the Sheriff gave the Greene County Commission, two checks for $41,473.10 each, to cover the current and next upcoming payroll and promised to bring additional funds in July, towards his share of the Sheriff’s Department budget. This partial solution averted the layoffs of any Sheriff’s Department staff.
In his letter, the Sheriff also indicates that if circumstances force electronic bingo in the county to close again that he would be unable to meet his financial obligations to the county.

Newswire: SPLC announces $30 million investment to increase voter registration

NNPA Newswire Staff Report

Black voter shows button



The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) today announced it is investing up to $30 million from its endowment in voter outreach organizations in the Deep South to increase voter registration and participation among people of color with a lower propensity to vote.
The initiative, called Vote Your Voice, is focused on increasing voter participation specifically in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi, beginning in 2020 and running through 2022.
“This initiative is especially important right now, as millions of people across the country feel the urgency to make our voices heard this fall after the continued silence from our leaders on the many Black people being killed by police,” SPLC President and Chief Executive Officer Margaret Huang, said in a news release.
“Voting won’t solve this problem the day after the election but in order to begin dismantling white supremacy, we need to ensure that every voter of color is able to cast their ballot without interference or hardship.”
Huang continued: The work ahead of us will not be easy. The COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to have a disproportionate impact on democratic participation for communities of color who have been harmed most deeply by the health and economic crisis and who will encounter greater barriers to voter participation given the new risks of voting in person on Election Day.”
Numerous organizations across the five states are working to promote voter participation and reach communities of color, returning citizens and young people, but they are struggling to secure resources to further their outreach amid the COVID-19 pandemic, an era of social distancing, and major economic recession, the SPLC said in a statement.
Vote Your Voice, a partnership with the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta (Community Foundation), will administer grants up to a total of $30 million available for nonprofit-nonpartisan activities through 2022 as organizations navigate reaching their constituents amidst the pandemic and other obstacles.
“We are proud to partner with Southern Poverty Law Center to target education and mobilization efforts that support a robust, and fair, election process,” said Community Foundation Vice President of Community Lita Pardi.
“We must all work to end systemic barriers that deny our citizens their right to vote, especially in Black communities across the South.”
Other Vote Your Voice goals include:
• Reconnecting with constituencies that historically and currently face barriers to voting, focusing on returning citizens, voters of color, and those who have been purged from voter rolls.
• Engaging voters who are often ignored by outreach programs, including low-propensity voters of color and voters of color who live outside of major metro areas.
• Building greater capacity for voter outreach work to combat voter suppression by providing multi-year support through the 2022 election cycle.
• Funding and supporting organizations that are led by people of color.
The SPLC and the Community Foundation will award their first round of grants in early July and a second round later in the summer. Organizations that work with communities of color have been invited to submit grant applications as part of the first round. The second round will be conducted through an open Request for Proposals process.
Officials noted that Vote Your Voice builds on the SPLC’s ongoing voting rights work to enable every citizen in the Deep South the opportunity to have their voice heard at the ballot box.
In the past two years, the SPLC invested a combined $2 million to help pass the Amendment 4 ballot initiative in Florida and increase voter registration and turn-out in Louisiana and Mississippi state elections.
Meanwhile, in federal courts, the SPLC has successfully sued Florida on its unconstitutional poll tax and has ongoing litigation challenging Mississippi’s lifetime voting ban for citizens with certain felony convictions.
Since May of this year, the SPLC has filed litigation in Alabama and Louisiana to challenge election laws that force voters to choose between participating in democracy and protecting their health.
Information regarding Vote Your Voice is available, with a grant application coming soon at: https://www.splcenter.org/vote-your-voice

Newswire : Mississippi surrenders Confederate symbol from state flag

By: Emily Wagster Pettus, Associated Press

Mississippi students protest state flag

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi will retire the last state flag in the U.S. with the Confederate battle emblem, more than a century after white supremacist legislators adopted the design a generation after the South lost the Civil War.

A broad coalition of lawmakers — Black and white, Democrat and Republican — voted Sunday, June 28, 2020, for change as the state faced increasing pressure amid nationwide protests against racial injustice.

Mississippi has a 38% Black population, and critics have said for generations that it’s wrong to have a flag that prominently features an emblem many condemn as racist.

The Senate voted 37-14 to retire the flag, hours after the House voted 91-23.

Cheers rang out in the state Capitol after the Senate vote. Some spectators wept. Legislators embraced each other, many hugging colleagues who were on the opposing side of an issue that has long divided the tradition-bound state.

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves is expected to sign the bill into law in the next few days.

Democratic Rep. Robert Johnson of Natchez choked back tears as he told reporters that he has seen white colleagues develop more empathy about how the Confederate symbol is painful to him and other African Americans. “They began to understand and feel the same thing that I’ve been feeling for 61 years of my life,” Johnson said.

A commission will design a new flag that cannot include the Confederate symbol and that must have the words “In God We Trust.” Voters will be asked to approve the new design in the Nov. 3 election. If they reject it, the commission will set a different design using the same guidelines, and that would be sent to voters later.

Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn, who is white, has pushed for five years to change the flag, saying the Confederate symbol is offensive. “How sweet it is to celebrate this on the Lord’s day,” Gunn said.

Legislators put the Confederate emblem on the upper left corner of Mississippi flag in 1894, as white people were squelching political power that African Americans had gained after the Civil War.

In a 2001 statewide election, voters chose to keep the flag. An increasing number of cities and all Mississippi’s public universities have taken down the state flag in recent years. But until now, efforts to redesign the flag sputtered in the Republican-dominated Legislature.

That dynamic shifted as an extraordinary and diverse coalition of political, business, religious groups and sports leaders pushed for change.

At a Black Lives Matter protest outside the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion in early June, thousands cheered as an organizer said the state needs to divorce itself from all Confederate symbols.

Religious groups said erasing the rebel emblem from the state flag is a moral imperative. Notable among them was the state’s largest church group, the 500,000-member Mississippi Baptist Convention, which called for change last week after not pushing for it before the 2001 election.

Business groups said the banner hinders economic development in one of the poorest states in the nation.

In a sports-crazy culture, the biggest blow might have happened when college sports leagues said Mississippi could lose postseason events if it continued flying the Confederate-themed flag. Nearly four dozen of Mississippi’s university athletic directors and coaches came to the Capitol to lobby for change.

Many people who wanted to keep the emblem on the Mississippi flag said they see it as a symbol of heritage. The battle emblem is a red field topped by a blue X with 13 white stars. The Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups have waved the rebel flag for decades.

The Mississippi Supreme Court found in 2000 that when the state updated its laws in 1906, portions dealing with the flag were not included. That meant the banner lacked official status. The Democratic governor in 2000, Ronnie Musgrove, appointed a commission to decide the flag’s future. It held hearings across the state that grew ugly as people shouted at each other about the flag. Legislators then opted not to set a flag design themselves, and put the issue on the 2001 statewide ballot.

Former Mississippi Gov. William Winter, who is now 97, served on then-President Bill Clinton’s national advisory board on race in the 1990s and was chairman of the Mississippi flag commission in 2000. Winter said Sunday that removing the Confederate symbol from the banner is “long overdue.”

“The battle for a better Mississippi does not end with the removal of the flag, and we should work in concert to make other positive changes in the interest of all of our people,” said Winter, a Democrat who was governor from 1980 until 1984.

Democratic state Sen. Derrick Simmons of Greenville, who is African American, said the state deserves a flag to make all people proud. “Today is a history-making day in the state of Mississippi,” Simmons told colleagues. “Let’s vote today for the Mississippi of tomorrow.”

Newswire : Struggle seen in Belgium over racist historical statues

Statue of King Leopold II in Belgium


Jun 15, 2020 (GIN) – Some of the largest anti-racism protests in Europe have taken place in Belgium, the birthplace of King Léopold II, whose brutal rule of Congo from 1885 to 1908 caused an estimated 10 million Congolese deaths through murder, starvation and disease.
This past week, close to 12,000 people gathered in central Brussels. They were targeting the King Leopold statue outside the royal palace and more than a dozen others. The most egregious one depicts a group of Congolese people kneeling below Leopold in “gratitude”.
Many of these statues were built in the 1930s when the Belgian government created a mythology around Leopold II, erasing the public memory of the Congo atrocities and replacing it with a narrative of a benevolent king who brought glory to Belgium.
But as calls for the statue’s removal grow louder, Belgian’s political class is raising objections to the dismay of Afro-Belgians and other citizens.
“You should see what Leopold II has done for Belgium!” Prince Laurent, younger brother of the current Belgian King Philippe, was quoted to say. “He had parks built in Brussels and many other things.”
“I don’t see how he could have made people (in the Congo) suffer,” Laurent said. “There were many people that worked for Leopold II, and they were really abusive — but that does not mean that Leopold II was abusive.”
“You won’t erase the history by removing statues,” said District Mayor Koen Palinckx of Antwerp. “You won’t turn back the clock.” He scolded activists destroying objects that are public property saying: “That’s a line you do not cross.”
“This is not how we proceed in a democracy,” added Auderghem Mayor Didier Gosuin. “This is not how we put history back on the right track.”
In 2010, former Belgian foreign minister Louis Michel, the father of future prime minister and present EU Council president Charles Michel, called Leopold “a hero with ambitions for a small country like Belgium” and described the Congo stories as “exaggerations”.
Belgians have been unwilling to confront colonialism, said Idesbald Goddeeris, a professor of history at Leuven Catholic University. When he was a student in the 1990s, instructors spent only one or two minutes on the country’s role in Congo, he recalled.
“Slavery is still very real history for black people – we are still living with the consequences of it, with a racial hierarchy that puts black people at the bottom,” said Mary Ononokpono, who is doing a PhD at the University of Cambridge on the British-Biafran slave trade.
“Britain, Europe and America – and Africa – have to confront their history,” said Ononokpono. “We urgently need to have a long-overdue and honest discussion about the history of slavery and its legacy of impoverishment.”

Newswire : Aunt Jemima to change name, remove image ‘based on racial stereotype’

By Biba Adams, The Grio

Current updated Aunt Jemima label


After 130 years, Quaker is finally changing the name of their popular pancake brand, Aunt Jemima. Acknowledging that the brand was based on a racial stereotype, the name of the product will change and the imagery removed.
Introduced on Nov. 1, 1889, the inspiration for the product was a minstrel song, “Old Aunt Jemima,” NBC News reports, based on the mammy archetype. With her large, smiling face and headkerchief, the character was centered in the ideal of Black women as domestic caretakers for whites.
The original logo was based on a woman named Nancy Green who was a “storyteller and missionary worker.” Green was born enslaved.
In 1989, the image was updated to show Aunt Jemima in pearl earrings and a newly-coiffed hairstyle. However, the name and her mammy-oriented personality remained.
Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods said that the company acknowledges that attempts to update the brand have proven insufficient.
PepsiCo, which owns the Quaker brand, released a statement stating that they are retiring the brand image. “As we work to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives, we also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers’ expectations,” the company said.
Riché Richardson, an associate professor at Cornell University, told the TODAY show on Wednesday. “It’s an image that harkens back to the antebellum plantation … Aunt Jemima is that kind of stereotype premised on this idea of Black inferiority and otherness,” Richardson said.
“It is urgent to expunge our public spaces of a lot of these symbols that for some people are triggering and represent terror and abuse.”
Quaker Foods has not yet released the new name for the product but stated that the new packaging will appear in stores later this year. They also committed to spending $5 million over the next five years “to create meaningful, ongoing support and engagement in the Black community.”

Newswire : Congress moves George Floyd Justice in Policing Act measure forward

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent

U. S. Capitol


The House Judiciary Committee has introduced the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act, the first-ever bold, comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, end racial profiling, change the law enforcement culture, empower communities, and build trust between law enforcement and minority communities by addressing systemic racism and bias.
In a conference call with the Black Press of America just before voting on the measure, members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) said the bill should help save lives.
“This is a real historic day here in the capital as last week we introduced the Justice in Policing Act, and today we amend the bill,” CBC Chair Karen Bass (D-Calif.) said during the conference call.
“We call it the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, and I call it historic because this is the first time in many years that Congress has taken up a bill dealing with policing and I’m sure it is the first time that Congress has introduced such a bold transformative piece of legislation,” Bass stated.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would establish a national standard for the operation of police departments and mandate data collection on police encounters.
If it becomes law, the bill would reprogram existing funds to invest in transformative community-based policing programs and streamline federal law to prosecute excessive force and establish independent prosecutors for police investigations. It would also eliminate no-knock warrants and ban chokeholds.
“The idea that a chokehold is legal in one city and not the other, the idea that no-knock warrants are okay in one jurisdiction and not in another is very important. That must end,” Bass proclaimed.
A bill crafted by Republican South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, and an executive order issued by President Donald Trump, ask only for studies to be done on matters like no-knock warrants and chokehold bans, and have little bite, Bass and her CBC colleagues noted.
“In essence, their bills take the teeth out of this bill. This is not the time for superficial action,” Bass warned. “This is the time for us to demonstrate our ability to address the people who are peacefully in the street every day with comprehensive legislation.”
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020:
• Prohibits federal, state, and local law enforcement from racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling.
• Mandates training on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling for all law enforcement.
• Requires law enforcement to collect data on all investigatory activities. saves lives by banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants.
• Bans chokeholds and carotid holds at the federal level and conditions law enforcement funding for state and local governments banning chokeholds.
• Bans no-knock warrants in drug cases at the federal level and conditions law enforcement funding for state and local governments banning no-knock warrants at the local and state level.
• Requires that deadly force be used only as a last resort and requires officers to employ de-escalation techniques first.
• Changes the standard to evaluate whether law enforcement use of force was justified from whether the force was “reasonable” to whether the force was “necessary.”
• Condition grants on state and local law enforcement agencies’ establishing the same use of force standard.
• Limits military equipment on American streets, requires body cameras.
• Limits the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement.
• Requires federal uniformed police officers to wear body cameras and requires state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras.
• Requires marked federal police vehicles to have dashboard cameras.
• Hold Police Accountable in Court.
• Makes it easier to prosecute offending officers by amending the federal criminal statute to prosecute police misconduct. The mens rea requirement in 18 U.S.C. Section 242 will be amended from “willfulness” to a “recklessness” standard.
• Enables individuals to recover damages in civil court when law enforcement officers violate their constitutional rights by eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement.
• Improves the use of pattern and practice investigations at the federal level by granting the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division subpoena power and creates a grant program for state attorneys general to develop authority to conduct independent investigations into problematic police departments.
Empower Our Communities to re-imagine Public Safety in an Equitable and Just Way.
This bill reinvests in our communities by supporting critical community-based programs to change the culture of law enforcement and empower our communities to reimagine public safety in an equitable and just way.
It establishes public safety innovation grants for community-based organizations to create local commissions and task forces to help communities to re-imagine and develop concrete, just, and equitable public safety approaches. These local commissions would operate similar to President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
• Changes the Culture of Law Enforcement with Training to Build Integrity and Trust.
• Requires the creation of law enforcement accreditation standard recommendations based on President Obama’s Taskforce on 21st Century policing.
• Creates law enforcement development and training programs to develop best practices.
• Studies the impact of laws or rules that allow a law enforcement officer to delay answers to questions posed by investigators of law enforcement misconduct.
• Enhances funding for pattern and practice discrimination investigations and programs managed by the DOJ Community Relations Service.
•Requires the Attorney General to collect data on investigatory actions and detentions by federal law enforcement agencies; the racial distribution of drug charges; the use of deadly force by and against law enforcement officers; as well as traffic and pedestrian stops and detentions.
•Establishes a DOJ task force to coordinate the investigation, prosecution and enforcement efforts of federal, state, and local governments in cases related to law enforcement misconduct.
Improve Transparency by Collecting Data on Police Misconduct and Use-of-Force.
• Creates a nationwide police misconduct registry to prevent problematic officers who are fired or leave one agency, from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability.
Mandates state and local law enforcement agencies to report use of force data, disaggregated by race, sex, disability, religion, age.
• Make Lynching a Federal Crime.
• Makes it a federal crime to conspire to violate existing federal hate crimes laws.

Only 40.7% of Greene County households have completed the Census Greene County’s Census response rate lags behind state and national rates

By John Zippert,
Co-Publisher
Greene County Democrat

According to the U.S. Census2020 website as of today, only 40.7% of the households in Greene County have responded to the Census, which counts the population of the entire country every ten years. The 40.7% rate for Greene County lags behind the national rate of 61.4% and the State of Alabama’s rate of 59.8%.
Marilyn Stephens, Assistant Regional Manager of the Atlanta Region, which includes the State of Alabama, said “ Take ten minutes today to help ensure benefits to your community for the next ten years!”
Stephens indicated that the coronavirus pandemic had delayed and interfered with some of the schedule for the Census, including house-to-house visits, but that the Census takers would soon be coming around.
In the meantime, Stephens suggested that those households that have not completed the 2020 Census, can call the toll free number: 1-844-330-2020 and answer the questions by phone. She said you can also use your cell phone, tablet or computer and go to: my2020Census.gov, and complete the Census online.
Those persons who never received, lost or misplaced the original communication from the Census, which had an identification number, can call in or report online based on their address. Stephens said, “Don’t worry about a deadline, for you the deadline is today, to complete your Census.”
Stephens said there are two main reasons, why Greene County residents should complete the Census, “First, the population count in the Census is used to determine the apportionment of districts for U. S. Congress, the state legislature and local electoral districts. So if you do not participate in the Census, your state, county and city may lose representation and a voice in making important policy decisions that will affect your life.

“Second, the Census count is used in distributing $675 Billion or more in Federal and state dollars each year for programs for healthcare, rural hospitals, school lunch programs, senior citizens meals, Headstart, Community Development Block Grants, SNAP, WIC and highway funds. If you do not report in the Census, you are shortchanging your community and your household from receiving a fair and adequate share of these benefits.”
Rev. Chris Spencer, with the Black Belt Community Foundation, says, “We must work to get every resident counted in the Census to assure that we get the benefits we need from Federal and state programs. Every church, housing development, and community organization needs to check its membership and help make sure that we get one hundred percent completion of the Census. 40% is a good start but we need to finish the job, we need everyone’s help.”
Carrie Fulghum, Manager of the Eutaw Elderly Village, a thirty unit elderly housing development in the city, with the help of Miriam Leftwitch, a board member, went door to door and helped every resident to complete the Census. “We gave each person, who completed the Census, a ticket in a raffle, and awarded a prize basket of supplies and snacks to the winner. This was a small incentive to help ensure that everyone in our housing community completed the Census. We challenge every other housing development in our city and county to do the same.”
Kinya Isaac, who is the Census Coordinator for Greene County, said, “When you talk with your friends and neighbors ask them if they have completed the Census and ask if you can assist them if they need help to call or get online.”
Marilyn Stephens, completed her interview by saying,” I want people to know that the Census is safe. By law, you are protected from any of your personal information being released or used against you. We do not publish any information on individuals just aggregated data for an area”