by Cedric ‘BIG CED’ Thornton, Black Enterprise News Service
Over the weekend, in Graham, North Carolina, a Black Lives Matter rally was broken up by police officers who then attacked the crowd of protesters using pepper spray, according to CNN. The “I Am Change” march was intended to be a “march to the polls” in honor of the Black people who fell victim to racialized violence like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Trayvon Martin, according to an advertisement for the event. However, the Graham Police Department says people were pepper-sprayed in two instances. The first time occurred after marchers refused to move out of the road following a moment of silence, and then again after an officer was allegedly “assaulted” and the event was deemed “unsafe and unlawful by the police department.” At a press conference, the march organizer, the Rev. Gregory Drumwright, said, “I and our organization, marchers, demonstrators and potential voters left here sunken, sad, traumatized, obstructed and distracted from our intention to lead people all the way to the polls.” The Graham Police Department arrested eight people for resisting delay and obstruction, failure to disperse, and assault on a law enforcement officer. Scott Huffman, who is running for Congress, released a video clip describing the incident on his Twitter account. The Alamance County Sheriff’s Office said that arrests were made at the demonstration, citing “violations of the permit” Drumwright obtained to hold the rally. Mr. Drumwright chose not to abide by the agreed upon rules,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement Saturday. “As a result, after violations of the permit, along with disorderly conduct by participants leading to arrests, the protest was deemed an unlawful assembly and participants were asked to leave.” The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the non-violent demonstrators, as part of a continuing voting rigjts battle with Alamance, North Carolina authorities.
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – A 29- year-old Black man remains in stable condition today after being shot seven times in the back by a White police officer for unknown reasons on Monday, Aug. 24. Jacob Blake, shot by a Kenosha, Wisconsin policeman, was reportedly leaving the scene of an altercation between two women as police followed him on foot, one holding a gun to his back. Blake had reportedly broken up the fight between the two women. When Blake attempted to get into the driver’s seat of the car where his 8, 5, and 3-year-old sons were seated, the officer with the gun grabbed the back of his t-shirt; then opened fire, appearing to shoot Blake seven times in the back. According to reports, Blake was paralyzed from the waste down after undergoing several surgeries but remained in stable condition. Two of the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave pending investigations. In Lafayette, Louisiana, Trayford Pellerin, was shot to death by police at a gas station on the Evangeline Thruway, on Friday August 21, 2020. Peaceful protestors returned to the same gas station over the weekend, Some of the protestors continued to march to block the major highway through Lafayette. Police in riot gear then attacked the demonstrators with tear gas and rubber bullets. Wisconsin’s governor called on the National Guard in anticipation of possible violent protests. This incident comes after a summer of heated protests after the killings of George Floyd and Brianna Taylor both killed by police. It also comes just before the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network’s “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” march this Saturday, August 28, “citing racial climate as the urgent need to still mobilize.” Sharpton and Martin Luther King III, along with Attorney Benjamin Crump and the Families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner and others will convene with NAN, NAACP and others for the march on Washington in protest of police brutality. For more information on this march, go to https://nationalactionnetwork.net/commitment-march-get-your-knee-off-our-necks/. Protestors quickly hit streets around the country as the Blake family pleaded for peaceful demonstrations only. Despite their pleas, buildings were set afire in Kenosha. Nothing was mentioned of the shooting by President Donald Trump during the first day of the Republican National Convention. Democratic Presidential Candidate Joseph Biden issued a statement. “This morning, the nation wakes up yet again with grief and outrage that yet another Black American is a victim of excessive force,” Biden said. “This calls for an immediate, full and transparent investigation and the officers must be held accountable.” DNC Chairman Tom Perez concluded, “A bullet in the back. A knee on the neck. When will it end? Yet again, our nation is hurting. Yet again, Black communities are hurting. Our hearts go out to Jacob Blake and his family as we pray for his recovery. Sadly, we know he is not the first to be viciously gunned down by law enforcement. He is one of countless Black Americans who have suffered at the hands of bigotry with a badge.
On Sunday afternoon, June 14, 2020, twenty-five cars joined the ‘Slow Ride for Justice’ through the City of Eutaw, to protest the police killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many others. The ride called for criminal justice reform and passage of the Justice in Policing Act, proposed by the Black Congressional Caucus. The caravan was sponsored by the Alabama Civil Rights Museum Movement under the director of Spiver W. Gordon, its President. “We decided on a slow ride so that our elderly and others reluctant to expose themselves to coronavirus would feel free to participate,” said Gordon. Cars, covered with signs saying: No Justice – No Peace, Black Lives Matter, Equal Justice for All, Stop Killing Black People and others, left from the National Guard Armory, driving west on Highway 14, down Prairie Avenue passing King Village and Branch Heights, turning back north on Highway 43 and east on Highway 14 to the Courthouse Square, named for Sheriff Thomas Gilmore. A rally with people in masks and at social distancing was held at the Courthouse Square. Many speakers spoke and prayed for greater justice in the work of police departments across the nation. Many of the speakers were concerned that police killings were the third greatest cause of death for Black men between the ages of 18 and 30 years old. “In addition to the coronavirus pandemic raging in this country, we have a long-standing pandemic of racism that also plagues Black people,” said Gordon.
The Congressional Black Caucus on Monday introduced “The Justice in Policing Act of 2020,” legislation designed to make the nation’s police more accountable to the nation’s citizens, especially its black citizens, in the wake of the brutal in police custody death of George Floyd. The May 25th murder Floyd by a Minneapolis cop has sparked worldwide protests about police brutality and has led to a demand in the U.S. for greater accountability by the police. Karen Bass, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, called the out the names of other unarmed black men and women killed by police. Bass (D., California) said the names of several victims before asking other members of the CBC to shout out the names of other black men and black women killed by police. Audience members screamed the names of Freddie Gray, Oscar Grant, Tamir Rice, John Crawford, Michael Brown, Walter Scott, Dontre Hamilton, Breonna Taylor, Rekia Boyd, Corey Jones, Terrence Crutcher and Botham Jean. U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D., California), who helped write the legislation, said, “America’s sidewalks are stained with black blood. In the wake of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s murders, we must ask ourselves: how many more times must our families and our communities be put through the trauma of an unarmed black man or a woman’s killing at the hands of police who are sworn to protect and serve them? “What we are witnessing is the birth of a new movement in our country with thousands coming together in every state marching to demand change that ends police brutality, holds officers accountable and calls for transparency,” Karen Bass, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said during a Washington, D.C. news conference. “For over 100 years, Black communities in America have sadly been marching against police abuse and calling the for the police to protect and serve them as they do others. Today, we unveil the Justice in Policing Act, which will establish a bold transformative vision of policing in America. Never again should the world be subjected to witnessing what we saw on the streets in Minnesota with George Floyd.” The bill, if passed and signed into law, it would: Ban chokeholds, carotid holds, and no-knock warrants at the federal level and limit the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement Establish a National Police Misconduct Registry to prevent problematic cops who are fired or leave an agency from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability Amend a federal criminal statute from a “willfulness” to a “recklessness” standard to successfully identify and prosecute police misconduct Require state and local law enforcement agencies to report us of force data by race, gender, disability, religion and age Mandate the use of dashboard cameras and body cameras for federal officers and require state and local enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras Prohibit federal, state and local law enforcement from racial, religious and discriminatory profiling, and mandate training on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling for all law enforcement Reform qualified immunity so that individuals are not barred from recovering damages when police violate their constitutional rights Establish 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 Create law enforcement development and training programs to develop best practices and require the creation of law enforcement accreditation standard recommendations based on President Obama’s Taskforce on 21st Century Policing Improve the use of pattern and practice investigations at the federal level by granting the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division subpoena power and create a grant program for state attorneys general to develop authority to conduct independent investigations into problematic police departments Establish a Department of Justice task force to coordinate the investigation, prosecution and enforcement efforts of federal, states and local governments in cases related to law enforcement misconduct. Thirty-five members of the U.S. Senate and 166 members of the House of Representatives are sponsoring the bill.