Report: Human Rights Violations in prisons throughout southern United States cause disparate and lasting harm in Black communities 

NEW YORK – The Southern Prisons Coalition, a group of civil and human rights organizations, submitted a new report on Friday to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination on the devastating consequences of incarceration on Black people throughout the southern United States.
With the long-term goal of eliminating all forms of racial discrimination in the criminal legal system, including the carceral system, the report describes the widespread, disparate harms resulting from the arrests, harsh prison sentences, and incarceration on Black communities.
The report also cites the devastating impacts of solitary confinement, prison labor, the school to prison pipeline, and incarceration of parents on Black families.
On August 8, 2022, the UN will review the United States’ compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination for the first time since 2014.
 Among the ongoing stark racial disparities throughout prisons in the southern United States, Black people are five times more likely to be incarcerated in state prisons.
In states like Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas, where Black communities comprise 38% of the total population, Black individuals account for as much as 67% of the total incarcerated population.
While incarcerated, Black people are more than eight times more likely to be placed in solitary confinement, and they are 10 times more likely to be held there for exceedingly long periods of time.
 By submitting the report to the United Nations, the Southern Prisons Coalition hopes to solicit concrete recommendations from the UN Committee as well as commitments from the United States delegation about their plans to address systemic issues in the United States prison system, particularly in the South.
 According to the report, several states in the United States have also failed to meet several of the UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the treatment of incarcerated people, including:
• Work should help to prepare incarcerated people for their release from prison, including life and job skills;
• Safety measures and labor protections for incarcerated workers should be the same as those that cover workers who are not incarcerated;
• Incarcerated workers should receive equitable pay, be able to send money home to their families, and have a portion of their wages set aside to be given to them upon release.

“The U.S. has long failed to live up to its international human rights treaty obligations on eliminating racial discrimination, perhaps more so in the area of mass incarceration and prison conditions than in any other context,” said Lisa Borden, Senior Policy Counsel, International Advocacy at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“We hope the Committee will help to shine a light on these very dark truths and prompt the U.S. to take its obligation to make significant improvements more seriously.”
“The abuses of forced labor are inextricably tied to racial discrimination in our nation,” said Jamila Johnson, Deputy Director at the Promise of Justice Initiative.
“In Louisiana, for instance, people are still sent into the fields to labor by hand in dangerously high heat indexes, for little to no compensation, and with brutal enforcement reminiscent of slavery and the era of ‘convict leasing’.”
“This report reveals the suffering of Black people in southern U.S. prisons, whose stories of marginalization and discrimination echo the racial subjugation of slavery and convict leasing during our country’s most shameful past,” said Antonio L. Ingram II, Assistant Counsel at the Legal Defense Fund.
“Despite widespread knowledge of the longstanding racial inequalities in the criminal legal and carceral systems, the United States continues to allow egregious human rights violations to persist for Black incarcerated people in violation of international law. This report serves as a sobering reminder of how far we need to go.”

 

Newswire: Vice President Harris addresses NAACP Convention; urges Black voter participation

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Vice President Kamala Harris appeared at the NAACP convention in Atlantic City on Monday, July 18, declaring that freedom, liberty, and democracy are on the ballot in the upcoming midterm elections.
She implored the large gathering at the Atlantic City Convention Center to make sure that all voices are heard. “We’re not going to be able to get these days back, so each one of these days we must, with a sense of urgency, ensure that the American people know their voice and their vote matters,” Harris declared.
“It is their voice. The right to vote is something that the leaders of this organization and its founders knew to be at the core of all of the other rights and freedoms to which we are entitled,” she further implored.
“So, we know what we need to do. And, in particular, to protect the freedom to vote and a women’s right to make decisions about her own body, we need people who will defend our rights up and down the ballot, from district attorneys to state attorneys general, from local sheriffs to governors.”
The vice president received several standing ovations as she spoke of the need to vote. The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a trade association representing 235 African American-owned newspapers and media companies, has teamed with the Transformative Justice Coalition in an effort to register 10 million more Black voters ahead of the midterm and 2024 general elections.
As Harris arrived in Atlantic City, Mayor Marty Small greeted her as she descended from Air Force Two. NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson spoke to the vice president and railed against politicians and the U.S. Supreme Court for “the erosion of constitutional freedom, including the right of a woman over her own body.”
Harris also decried the sharp increase in mass shootings and gun violence in the United States.“There is no reason for weapons of war on the streets of America,” she asserted.
With West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin repeatedly stopping the Biden-Harris administration agenda, Harris called on voters to participate in the U.S. Senate election.
“We will not, and the president has been clear, we will not let the filibuster stand in our way of our most essential rights and freedoms,” Harris declared.
“I visited Buffalo, New York, to attend the funeral of an 86-year-old grandmother who went to the grocery store after, as she often did, spending the day with her husband who was in a nursing home – Mrs. Whitfield.”
Harris continued: “I went to Highland Park, Illinois, where there were strollers and lawn chairs scattered up and down a street where there was supposed to be a parade for July 4th. There – as in Uvalde, Texas; as in Greenwood, Indiana, just last night; and in so many communities across our nation – scenes of ordinary life have been turned into war zones by horrific acts of gun violence.
“Mass shootings have made America a nation in mourning. And it’s not only the mass shootings. We see it in our communities every day, and it is no less tragic or outrageous. Think about it: Black people are 13 percent of America’s population but make up 62 percent of gun homicide victims.
“This issue of the need for reasonable gun safety laws is a real issue when we are talking about the civil right, the right that all communities should have, to live in a place that is safe without weapons of war running those streets.”
She concluded that the number of guns manufactured in the country tripled over the last 20 years. “Today we have more guns in our nation than people,” Harris said.
“Earlier this month, the president signed the first federal gun safety law in nearly 30 years. And it was an important and necessary step. But we need to do more. We must repeal the liability shield that protects gun manufacturers. And we must renew the assault weapons ban.”

Newswire: Nelson Mandela International Day – July 18 –is marked around the world

July 18, 2022 (GIN) Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, an iconic figure who fought South Africa’s apartheid regime, was a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience and an international peacemaker. And he was the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa.
  In light of these accomplishments, the United Nations General Assembly designated July 18, his birthday, as Nelson Mandela International Day. It celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world and the ability to make an impact. In honor of his 67 years of public service, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the U.N. ask that you spend 67 minutes of your time, on his birthday, helping others.
 In South Africa, celebrations start early at Mvezo, Madiba’s birthplace. Chief Zwelivelile ‘Mandla’ Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s grandson, addressed the community: “Madiba was outspoken in human rights, justice and peace. We continue to utilize his legacy as a voice for many oppressed nations around the world.” He mentioned consultations about the “last colony in Africa – Western Sahara”, as well as the case of the Palestinians, Kashmir, Yemen, Syria, and Ukraine.
 This year the focus is on food security and fighting global warming. Hundreds of trees will be planted  to bring this vision to life. “We’re here to reverse whatever global warming is bringing to Mother Earth,” said one local gardener.
 At the United Nations, Prince Harry, accompanied by his wife Meghan, has been chosen to give  the keynote address on ‘memories and legacy’ of the African leader.  According to a post by the Nelson Mandela Foundation on Twitter, he will also be asking for more peacekeeping troops for South Africa.
 The annual Nelson Mandela lecture held in South Africa will be delivered by Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley in November.
And in Chicago, Nando’s Peri Peri, a South African style restaurant, will honor the memory of former president and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela with a day of giving on Mandela Day,
All Nando’s restaurants will be serving their signature meal of a quarter of a  flame-grilled chicken with chips (fries) for free between 3-6pm on July 18. Guests are encouraged to donate schools supplies like pens, erasers and composition books to help children in underserved communities.
Nando’s restaurants will also donate 67 meals to local charities, as acknowledgement of Mandela’s 67 years of battling for social justice.

Newswire: On the brink of starvation, in drought-stricken Somalia, many children struggle

July 11, 2022 (GIN) – “Our worst fears are being confirmed – a million children of the Horn of Africa are once again set to suffer through the degrading, miserable impacts of drought.”
 
That was the assessment of Mustafa Mohamed Omar, president of Ethiopia’s Somali region, in an interview with the Financial Times.
 
“Somalia is affected, Kenya is affected, parts of Oromia in Ethiopia are affected,” he continued. “We are sure such a drought is unseen in almost 50 years; people are even saying 100 years.”
 
At the same time, world food prices are close to record highs as the Russia-Ukraine war roils markets for staple grains and edible oils.
 
Aid agencies report that a fourth consecutive rainy season has failed in the Horn of Africa country, and meteorologists are warning of another below-average rainy season later this year as the world’s climate becomes more erratic.
 
Gabriella Waaijman, Global Humanitarian Director at Save the Children, followed up: “It is deeply alarming and frankly shameful that the number of people going hungry is on the rise.
 
“Make no mistake,” she declared. “Children and their families are facing the worst global hunger crisis in decades. If we fail to act now, many lives will be lost and years of development gains will go down the drain due to a deadly combination of conflict, the climate crisis, and the economic crisis fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.”
 
“Families at the sharp end have told our staff they are eating putrid meat, drinking dirty water from cattle troughs, and fighting off wild animals for whatever they can get their hands on to eat.”
 
“Nobody should have to live like this,” she continued. “Save the Children is allocating US$28.5 million to communities in 19 of the worst-hit countries. But this is only a fraction of what is required.”
 
“What is crucial for children and their families who are going to bed hungry is an international, comprehensive package of support that does two things simultaneously: the first—providing immediate assistance to severely malnourished children today; the second—preventative measures to protect children from this crisis tomorrow.
 
“This includes building local community resilience and making long-term investments in sustainable agriculture and energy as well as robust health, nutrition, and social protection systems.”
 
The U.N.’s World Food Program (WFP) is the world’s largest humanitarian organization.
 
In a world of plenty, enough food is produced to feed everyone on the planet, so hunger should be a thing of the past. However, conflict, climate change, disasters, inequality and – most recently – the COVID-19 pandemic mean one in nine people globally is still going to bed hungry and famine looms for millions.
 
A month into the current rainy season and rains have so far failed to materialize; if they don’t, this will be the fourth consecutive failed season as the region reels from food and fuel prices rising to unprecedented levels because of the war in Ukraine. 
 

Newswire: Brittney Griner pleads guilty to drug charge in Russian court

By Stacy M. Brown,NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

WNBA Superstar Brittney Griner told a Russian court Thursday that she didn’t intend to commit a crime, but in her rush to pack her luggage, she accidentally carried a small amount of cannabis oil.
The Phoenix Mercury standout then pleaded guilty to drug smuggling, which could land her as much as ten years in prison. She has been detained since February, and officials scheduled a July 14 court appearance for the now-convicted basketball player.
U.S. officials didn’t immediately comment. Recently, there’s been a growing call for her release. Many observers have opined that Russia is using the 31-year-old as a political pawn.
It’s believed Russian President Vladimir Putin would free Griner if the United States did likewise for convicted arms dealer Victor Bout.
It’s unknown whether Griner’s guilty plea is part of an overall strategy to bring her home, with the thought of not dragging out the court case and lessening the spotlight.
On July 4, President Joe Biden received a letter from Griner pleading for his help getting her home. A day later, Cherelle Griner, the WNBA player’s wife, went on national television to express frustration that she hadn’t been in touch with the White House about Brittney.
On July 6, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Cherelle Griner via telephone and reassured her that the administration is continuing to work to bring her loved one home.
“While I will remain concerned and outspoken until she is back home, I am hopeful in knowing that the President read my wife’s letter and took the time to respond,” Cherelle Griner said. “I know BG will be able to find comfort in knowing she has not been forgotten.” Biden shared with Cherelle Griner a letter he planned to send to Brittney.

Newswire: Video of yet another police shooting of an unarmed Akron, Ohio Black man shown on July 4th Weekend

By Barrington M. Salmon and Hazel Trice Edney

Jayland Walker

TriceEdneyWre.com) – As millions of people across American prepare to celebrate “liberty and justice for all” on July 4th, 2022, yet another news story of a police shooting of an unarmed Black man was breaking nationally. The
killing of fleeing Jayland Walker, 25, by Akron, Ohio Police officers, who reportedly shot him 60 times, is still under investigation while the officers involved have been suspended pending the results.

Police say the shooting occurred after a high-speed chase during which they say a shot came from the vehicle driven by Walker, a report that Walker’s family and lawyer has called into question. Police also said they found a gun in the car. They claim he appeared to be reaching for his waistband as he fled. But why he suffered 60 wounds in the June 27 killing is still in question.
Police Chief Stephen Mylett said at a July 3rd news conference that reviews of body camera videos of 13 officers at the scene prompted more questions about Walker’s death. As the video was released, protesters, led by the Akron NAACP, took to the streets, a familiar site in modern day America.
Akron police said they had tried to pull Walker over on a traffic violation and began the chase after
he did not stop.
Meanwhile justice-seeking organzations continue to present ideas on ways to prevent unjust police shoots, disparated of unarmed African-Americans. The continued scourge of police violence against African-Americans is one of the most contentious issues in the nation. According to statistics provided by People for the American Way (PFAW), in 2021 alone, police officers killed at least 1,134 people, with African-Americans making up at least 23 percent of those killed, despite being only 13 percent of the US population. Racism is at the core of policing in this country, from colonial-era slave patrols to the post-Reconstruction vigilantism of the Ku Klux Klan to “order maintenance” policing of the late 20th century, Ben Jealous and his research colleague Dr. Niaz Kasravi contend.

In the aftermath of national and global protests following the murder of George Floyd by a quartet of Minneapolis police officers in 2020, Jealous said PFAW partnered with Covington & Burling LLP, and the Avalan Institute for Applied Research and consulted closely with law enforcement and policing experts, social justice activists, elected officials, community leaders produce a blueprint for reducing police violence titled, “All Safe: Transforming Public Safety.”
“We are very proud to unveil All Safe: Transforming Public Safety as a guide for local communities to take solutions to our public safety crisis into their own hands. Let’s face it: the federal government has failed to act on meaningful public safety legislation,” Jealous, president of People For the American Way and former president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said in an exclusive press briefing for African American journalists. “Meanwhile Black and brown people are dying at the hands of police officers. This has to stop. We can seed true, nationwide change by putting the right tools into the hands of communities now and building on their success, to create an unstoppable movement for public safety transformation.”
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Jealous described the challenge of achieving meaningful change with America’s mélange of police departments – 16,000 local individualized police departments – each agency with its own rules and regulations.
“I figured out when I was at the NAACP that about 85 percent of African Americans live in 500 of these jurisdictions which means when it comes to saving Black lives, we really have to reform 3-5 percent of law enforcement agencies in the US,” Jealous said.
Among the report’s proposals is changing police departments to public safety departments led by civilians with half the department comprised of typically armed officer and the other half made up of unarmed officers who are social work experts catering to the needs of the drug-addicted, homeless and mentally ill.
“We don’t train these folks because that’s not what they’re supposed to be doing,” he said, referring to police officers ill-equipped to handle non-crime issues. “It’s shoot to kill and everything else. It would mean 60 percent of the officers we have now, radically less numbers carrying guns.”
In addition, the report’s researchers showed that over-policing is encouraged as police brass demand that officers meet quotas which is one evaluation tool. And also that police recruitment strategies attract aggressive men and women.
“A comprehensive study analyzing the recruiting materials used by the 200 largest police departments in the United States found that: 42.7 percent contained some display of drawn firearms; 34 percent portrayed military-style weapons; 32 percent showed officers in tactical vests; and 27.7 percent depicted paramilitary policing units,” the report said.
Key tenets of the report are to remove police officers from schools; eliminate unnecessary misdemeanors and fines and fees; and ending the use of “excess” military equipment by law enforcement.
Jealous said PFAW focused on small college towns, like Ithaca, New York, where supporters and those connected to or affiliated with PFAW coalesced around the police reform policy proposals. The bedrock of the report is to restructure, hold responsible, remove, and recruit as a means of change, all the while addressing “the underlying issues and concerns that shape the organization’s public safety programs and make specific suggestions for transforming both how we think of public safety and our public safety programs.”
“It’s time for a fresh approach to the delivery of public safety in this country, because the hard truth is that what we have been doing hasn’t worked,” Kasravi said. “We have some of the most highly armed police forces and the greatest rates of incarceration in the world. If those strategies worked, we should be the safest nation in the world. But we all know that’s not the case. It’s time to transform our approach, and this report offers a range of options for communities to do that – and to improve and save lives, starting now.”
The release of the report coincides with People For the American Way kicking off it’s “Big Ideas” Summit in Atlanta this week. Civil Rights leaders, grassroots activists, elected officials and faith leaders will gather from around the US and mayors and other local officials have the option of taking All Safe recommendations back to their own communities to implement them.

Newswire: 17 receive Presidential Medal of Freedom at White House ceremony

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Fred Gray, Tuskegee Civil Rights attorney receives medal
Diane Nash, founder of SNNC receives medal

A reporter reported about Covid kept actor Denzel Washington from attending the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony at the White House on Thursday, but 16 others, including Olympic Champion Simone Biles, U.S. soccer player Megan Rapinoe, and Khazir Khan, joined President Joe Biden to accept their respective honors.
Washington, Khan, Rapinoe, and Sandra Lindsay, the Black nurse from New York who received the first shot of COVID vaccine and served on the front lines of the pandemic, each received the medals – the country’s highest civilian honor.
“The Fourth of July week reminds us of what brought us together long ago and still binds us – binds us at our best, what we strive for,” Biden remarked during the ceremony.
“We the people, doing what we can to ensure that the idea of America, the cause of freedom, shines like the sun to light up the future of the world,” Biden stated.
McCain, who served alongside Biden in the U.S. House and Senate, received his award posthumously, as did Apple Founder Steve Jobs and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
Other medal recipients were former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., an advocate of campaign finance reform and marriage equality; Sister Simone Campbell, an advocate for progressive issues; Julieta García, the first Hispanic woman to serve as President of a U.S. college; Fred Gray, one of the first Black members of the Alabama Legislature since Reconstruction and attorney for Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks; the Rev. Alexander Karloutsos, former vicar-general of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Diane Nash, a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee who worked with Martin Luther King Jr.; Wilma Vaught, an Air Force brigadier general and one of the most decorated women in the history of the U.S. military; and Raúl Yzaguirre, a civil rights advocate who was the CEO and President of the National Council of La Raza for 30 years.

The White House said the President presents medals to individuals who have had significant cultural impacts or made significant contributions to the country or the world.

Covid-19

As of July 6, 2022, at 10:00 AM
(According to Alabama Political Reporter)

Alabama had 1,363,194 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(7,854) more than last week with 19,766 deaths (26) more
than last week)

Greene County had 1,973 confirmed cases, 11 more cases than last week), with 51 deaths

Sumter Co. had 2,706 cases with 52 deaths

Hale Co. had 4,976 cases with 106 deaths

Note: Greene County Physicians Clinic has testing and vaccination for COVID-19; Call for appointments at 205/372-3388, Ext. 142; ages 5 and up.

Newswire: Mississippi team uncovers arrest warrant for White woman who lied about Emmett Till

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent


More than six decades after the horrific, racially-motivated murder of Emmett Till, the White woman who accused him of verbally and physically accosting her in Money, Miss., in 1955, has admitted she lied, according to a new book. (Wikimedia Commons)

A search team has found the unserved warrant charging a white woman in the 1955 kidnapping of Emmett Till.
The Associated Press reported that the team searched a Mississippi courthouse basement for evidence about the African American teenager’s lynching, and now relatives of the victim want authorities to finally arrest the woman nearly 70 years later.
A warrant for the arrest of Carolyn Bryant Donham — identified as “Mrs. Roy Bryant” on the document — was discovered last week by searchers inside a file folder that had been placed in a box, Leflore County Circuit Clerk Elmus Stockstill told The Associated Press.
Stockstill told the outlet that documents are kept inside boxes by decade, but there was nothing else to indicate where the warrant, dated Aug. 29, 1955, might have been. “They narrowed it down between the ’50s and ’60s and got lucky,” said Stockstill, who certified the warrant as genuine.
In March, President Joe Biden signed into law the Emmett Till Antilynching Act of 2022, which makes lynching a federal hate crime. Earlier, the bipartisan measure passed both chambers of Congress.
Named after Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American savagely murdered by a group of white men in Mississippi, the legislation received push back from three Republicans – Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, and Chip Roy of Texas. Each were the lone votes against the bill.