Law enforcement agencies submitted incident reports involving 7,759 criminal incidents and 10,532 related offenses motivated by bias toward race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity. Further, the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics, 2020, reported 7,554 single-bias incidents involving 10,528 victims. Percent distribution of victims by bias type shows that 61.9 percent of victims found themselves targeted because of the offenders’ race, ethnicity, or ancestry. Further, 20.5 percent fell victim because of bias toward the offenders’ sexual orientation, 13.4 percent because of the offenders’ religion, 2.5 percent because of the offenders’ gender identity, 1 percent the offenders’ disability, and 0.7 percent because of the offenders’ gender bias. Specifically, in its Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s latest compilation about bias-motivated incidents throughout the nation, the FBI noted that the number of hate crimes in the United States rose to the highest level in 12 years, driven by assaults targeting Black and Asian people. The rise in hate crimes occurred in a year of renewed protests for racial justice in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others. “The rise in hate crimes is sad but predictable given the well-documented efforts by elected officials and political candidates to foment hate and division for partisan gain, especially during the 2020 election season and amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, stated in a news release. Hewitt noted that The Lawyers’ Committee filed several lawsuits within the last year to address hate incidents by people emboldened by an atmosphere in which blatant lies flourish and the truth often questioned. “Our clients were assaulted by racially motivated mobs, beaten by police using racially charged language, and targeted with thousands of racist robocalls delivering misinformation,” Hewitt added. “While horrific on their own, all indications are that these incidents are still grossly underreported. Although hate crimes prey on historically disenfranchised groups, our government should treat these crimes as a threat to the very foundations of our democracy – a threat that we dismiss at our own peril.” The FBI’s report revealed that of the 7,426 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against persons in 2020, 53.4 percent were for intimidation, 27.6 percent were for simple assault, and 18.1 percent were for aggravated assault. Of the 2,913 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against property, most (76.4 percent) were acts of destruction/damage/vandalism. Robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, and other offenses accounted for the remaining 23.6 percent of crimes against property. Law enforcement classified 193 additional offenses as crimes against society. The FBI said this crime category represents society’s prohibition against engaging in certain types of activity such as gambling, prostitution, and drug violations. They said those crimes typically are victimless where property isn’t the object. Of the 6,431 known offenders, 55.2 percent were White, and 20.2 percent were Black or African American. Other races accounted for the remaining known offenders: Ethnicity was unknown for 47.5 percent of these offenders. Of the 5,915 known offenders for whom ages were known, 89.1 percent were 18 years of age or older.
Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,
By: Jamey Keaten, Associated Press
GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. human rights chief, in a landmark report launched after the killing of George Floyd in the United States, is urging countries worldwide to do more to help end discrimination, violence and systemic racism against people of African descent and “make amends” to them — including through reparations. The report from Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, offers a sweeping look at the roots of centuries of mistreatment faced by Africans and people of African descent, notably from the transatlantic slave trade. It seeks a “transformative” approach to address its continued impact today. The report, a year in the making, hopes to build on momentum around the recent, intensified scrutiny worldwide about the blight of racism and its impact on people of African descent as epitomized by the high-profile killings of unarmed Black people in the United States and elsewhere. “There is today a momentous opportunity to achieve a turning point for racial equality and justice,” the report said. The report aims to speed up action by countries to end racial injustice; end impunity for rights violations by police; ensure that people of African descent and those who speak out against racism are heard; and face up to past wrongs through accountability and redress. “I am calling on all states to stop denying — and start dismantling — racism; to end impunity and build trust; to listen to the voices of people of African descent; and to confront past legacies and deliver redress,” Bachelet said in a video statement. While broaching the issue of reparation in her most explicit way yet, Bachelet suggested that monetary compensation alone is not enough and would be part of an array of measures to help rectify or make up for the injustices. “Reparations should not only be equated with financial compensation,” she wrote, adding that it should include restitution, rehabilitation, acknowledgement of injustices, apologies, memorialization, educational reforms and “guarantees” that such injustices won’t happen again. Bachelet, a former president of Chile, hailed the efforts of advocacy groups like the Black Lives Matter movement, saying they helped provide “grassroots leadership through listening to communities” and that they should receive “funding, public recognition and support.” The U.N.-backed Human Rights Council commissioned the report during a special session last year following the murder of Floyd, a Black American who was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis in May 2020. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was sentenced to 22-1/2 years in prison last week. Protests erupted after excruciating bystander video showed how Floyd gasped repeatedly, “I can’t breathe!” as onlookers yelled at Chauvin to stop pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck. The protests against Floyd’s killing and the “momentous” verdict against Chauvin are a “seminal point in the fight against racism,” the report said. The report was based on discussions with over 340 people — mostly of African descent — and experts; more than 100 contributions in writing, including from governments; and review of public material, the rights office said. It analyzed 190 deaths, mostly in the U.S., to show how law enforcement officers are rarely held accountable for rights violations and crimes against people of African descent, and it noted similar patterns of mistreatment by police across many countries. he report ultimately aims to transform those opportunities into a more systemic response by governments to address racism, and not just in the United States — although the injustices and legacy of slavery, racism and violence faced by African Americans was clearly a major theme. The report also laid out cases, concerns and the situation in roughly 60 countries including Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Colombia and France, among others. “We could not find a single example of a state that has fully reckoned with the past or comprehensively accounted for the impacts of the lives of people of African descent today,” Mona Rishmawi, who heads a unit on non-discrimination in Bachelet’s office. “Our message, therefore, is that this situation is untenable.” Compensation should be considered at the “collective and the individual level,” Rishmawi said, while adding that any such process “starts with acknowledgment” of past wrongs and “it’s not one-size-fits-all.” She said countries must look at their own pasts and practices to assess how to proceed. Rishmawi said Bachelet’s team found “a main part of the problem is that many people believe the misconceptions that the abolition of slavery, the end of the transatlantic trade and colonialism have removed the racially discriminatory structures built by those practices. “We found that this is not true,” said Rishmawi, also denouncing an idea among some “associating blackness with criminality … there is a need to address this.” The report called on countries to “make amends for centuries of violence and discrimination” such as through “formal acknowledgment and apologies, truth-telling processes and reparations in various forms.” It also decried the “dehumanization of people of African descent” that was “rooted in false social constructions of race” in the past to justify enslavement, racial stereotypes and harmful practices as well as tolerance for racial discrimination, inequality and violence. People of African descent face inequalities and “stark socioeconomic and political marginalization” in many countries, the report said, including unfair access to education, health care, jobs, housing and clean water. “We believe very strongly that we only touched the tip of the iceberg,“ Rishmawi said, referring to the report. ”We really believe that there is a lot more work that needs to be done.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department is opening a sweeping probe into policing in Louisville, Kentucky, over the March 2020 death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot to death by police during a raid at her home, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Monday. It’s the second such probe into a law enforcement agency by the Biden administration in a week; Garland also announced an investigation into the tactics of the police in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd. The attorney general has said there is not yet equal justice under the law and promised to bring a critical eye to racism and legal issues when he took the job. Few such investigations were opened during the Trump administration. The 26-year-old Taylor, an emergency medical technician who had been studying to become a nurse, was roused from sleep by police who came through the door using a battering ram. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired once. A no-knock warrant was approved as part of a narcotics investigation. No drugs were found at her home. Investigation looks for ‘pattern or practice’ The investigation announced Monday is into the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government and the Louisville Metro Police Department. It is known as a “pattern or practice” — examining whether there is a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing — and will be a more sweeping review of the entire police department. Sam Aguiar, an attorney for Breonna Taylor’s family, posted a celebratory message on social media shortly after the announcement. “Boom. Thank you,” he wrote. Aguiar and other attorneys negotiated a $12 million settlement in September with the city of Louisville over Taylor’s death. The investigation will specifically focus on whether the Louisville Metro Police Department engages in a pattern of unreasonable force, including against people engaging in peaceful activities, and will also examine whether the police department conducts unconstitutional stops, searches and seizures and whether the department illegally executes search warrants, Garland said. The probe will also look at the training that officers receive, the system in place to hold officers accountable and “assess whether LMPD engages in discriminatory conduct on the basis of race,” among other things, he said. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted last week of murder in Floyd’s death, but no one has been charged in Taylor’s, though her case, too, fueled protests against police brutality and systemic racism. “No-knock” warrants debated nationally Her death prompted a national debate about the use of so-called “no knock” search warrants, which allow officers to enter a home without waiting and announcing their presence. The warrants are generally used in drug cases and other sensitive investigations where police believe a suspect might be likely to destroy evidence. But there’s been growing criticism in recent years that the warrants are overused and abused. Prosecutors will speak with community leaders, residents and police officials as part of the Louisville probe and will release a public report, if a pattern or practice of unconstitutional conduct is discovered, Garland said. He noted that the department has implemented some changes after a settlement with Taylor’s family and said the Justice Department’s investigation would take those into account. “It is clear that the public officials in Minneapolis and Louisville, including those in law enforcement, recognize the importance and urgency of our efforts,” Garland said. Louisville hired Atlanta’s former police chief, Erika Shields, in January. She became the fourth person to lead the department since Taylor’s death on March 13, 2020. Longtime chief Steve Conrad was forced out in the summer after officers responding to a shooting during a protest failed to turn on their body cameras. Two interim appointments followed before Shields was given the job. Shields stepped down from the top Atlanta post in June after the death of Rayshard Brooks, a Black man who was shot in the back by police in a restaurant parking lot. Shields remained with the Atlanta department in a lesser role. Kentucky’s lawmakers passed a partial ban on no-knock warrants last month. The measure would only allow no-knock warrants to be issued if there was “clear and convincing evidence” that the “crime alleged is a crime that would qualify a person, if convicted, as a violent offender.” Warrants also would have to be executed between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Associated Press Writer Dylan Lovan in Louisville contributed to this report.
The second day of the Derek Chauvin murder trial was full of emotional and heart-wrenching witness testimony. Witness after witness spoke of the despair, helplessness, and the struggle to come to grips with what they witnessed when George Floyd lost his life under the knee of Chauvin on March 25, 2020. In agonizing detail, the witnesses, many of whom are underage and therefore not shown on video by court order, described how heartbroken and haunted they remain over Floyd’s killing almost a year ago. Donald Williams continued his testimony from the opening day of the trial. The prosecution walked Williams through what he witnessed on Memorial Day when he stumbled upon the scene of Floyd’s fatal arrest while headed to Cup Foods. It was revealed on Tuesday that Williams, like 911 operator Jenna Scurry who testified the day before, “called the police on the police.” After Floyd was taken away in an ambulance, an emotional Williams called 911 to report the incident. “I believe I had just witnessed a murder,” Williams recalled. Williams added that he placed the call because he “didn’t know what else to do,” as he couldn’t establish a human connection—what he termed as a “human being relationship”—with the police on the scene, so he reached out for help. Tears streamed down his face when his call was played in the courtroom. Defense attorney Eric Nelson spent a lot of time trying to undercut Williams’ experience and knowledge as a mixed martial arts fighter and former wrestler. However, Williams was not on the stand as an expert. As legal analyst Laura Coates said on CNN, “They’re attacking the very idea that he [Williams] was never there to present.” Williams also rejected the idea presented by the defense that the bystanders grew into an angry mob as time wore on. “I grew professional. I stayed in my body. You can’t paint me out to be angry,” he said. Chuck Rosenberg, a former U.S. Attorney, and legal analyst told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that the defense’s cross-examinations of the witnesses so far was “mediocre” because it has taken Nelson “a very long time to make minor points. The best cross-examinations are short and simple,” he said. “And so far, from what I’ve seen from the defense, the cross-examinations have not been short and have not been simple.” Darnella Frazier, 18, was the second witness to take the stand on Tuesday. As a minor at the time of Floyd’s death, her face was not shown on camera, though the court has allowed her last name to be printed. Though unseen, Frazier’s voice effectively conveyed her pain. At times she spoke in hushed tones, with her voice breaking. We learned that Frazier was on her way to Cup Foods with her young cousin, but like Williams, she never made it into the store. Instead, she escorted in her cousin so she wouldn’t witness what was happening between Floyd and the police officers outside. Frazier stayed outside and eventually took out her camera and began recording—her video of the incident is what was initially posted on social media and sparked the national and international outcry against Floyd’s killing. Frazier, though emotional, was consistent on the witness stand. She recalled Floyd stating, “I can’t breathe; please get off of me,’” while he lay handcuffed in the prone position under Chauvin’s knee. “He cried for his mom. He was in pain,” said Frazier. “He seemed like he felt it was over for him. He was suffering. It was a cry for help.” She recalled the bystanders saying to Chauvin: “You’re hurting him,” “Are you enjoying this?” “His nose is bleeding,” and “You’re a bum. She said she didn’t recall Chauvin offering any “care” for Floyd at any time she was there. “If anything,” she said, “he was actually kneeling harder. He was shoving his knee in his neck. I felt like he was feeding off of our energy.” Like Williams, Frazier countered the defense’s claim that the crowd was hostile. “Any time someone tried to get close, they [the cops] were defensive, so we couldn’t even get close,” Frazier said. She pointedly noted that the only violence she saw that day was from the police officers, and that Chauvin “had a cold look, heartless. It seemed like he didn’t care.“ When the paramedics arrived, Frazier said Chauvin still didn’t release his knee from Floyd’s neck. “No, the ambulance person had to get him to lift up. He checked his pulse first while Mr. Chauvin’s knee still remained on George Floyd’s neck. The paramedic made a motion to get up,” she recalled. The defense’s line of questioning centered on Frazier having limited knowledge of what else had occurred prior to her arriving and what else may have been going on in the surrounding area at the time. Inexplicably, the defense asked if the video she recorded changed Frazier’s life. She replied that it had. This left the door open for the prosecution to redirect and ask Frazier to explain how the video changed her life. She replied, “When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad, I look at my brothers, my cousins, and uncles because they are all Black. I have a Black father; I have a Black brother … I look at how that could have been them.” She continued, “I stay up apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and for not physically interacting and not saving his life. But it’s not what I should have done, it’s what he [Chauvin] should have done,” she said through tears. It was the most emotional moment of the trial thus far and widely seen as a misstep by the defense. “The lesson here,” said Rosenberg about the defense’s line of questioning, “unless you really have something to add by opening your mouth and talking in court, sit down and be quiet.” Frazier’s nine-year-old cousin took the stand next; she capped an emotional first half of the afternoon before recess. She was seen in surveillance video with the word “love” on her shirt, but what she witnessed at her tender age was anything but. She gave a brief testimony describing what she saw that day and how it made her “sad and kinda mad” because she felt the cops were stopping Floyd’s breathing and hurting him. She also recalled how a paramedic had to ask Chauvin to release his knee from Floyd’s neck. The defense did not cross-examine her. Two other underage witnesses took the stand, including Kaylynn Ashley Gilbert, 19, who was on her way to Cup Foods to buy a phone charger. She ended up joining the bystanders and taking phone footage of Floyd’s death. She teared up on the witness stand and said she felt like she “failed” Floyd because the police preventing her from helping him. The day closed with moving and at times pointed testimony from Genevieve Hansen, 27, a firefighter and certified EMT worker who was out walking when the commotion on the corner of 38th St. & Chicago Avenue caught her attention. She said she heard someone say, “They’re killing him” and walked over to see what was going on. She was immediately alarmed by what she saw. “I was concerned to see a handcuffed man who was not moving with officers with their whole body weight on his back and a crowd that was stressed out,” she recalled. Hansen wanted to render medical aid to Floyd. “I would have been able to provide medical attention to the best of my abilities,” Hansen said, “and this human was denied that right.” She, like two other witnesses, also called 911 to report what she saw. Hansen and Nelson had a few heated exchanges when Nelson tried to paint the bystanders as an angry mob. Hansen said she was more desperate than angry. “I don’t know if you’ve seen anybody be killed, but it’s upsetting,” she said. Judge Peter Cahill struck her comment from the record.
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
President Joe Biden signed a series of executive orders that his less than two-week-old administration hopes will be a catalyst to tackling America’s long-standing race problem. Biden’s action focused on equity and included police and prison reform and public housing. “America has never lived up to its founding promise of equality for all, but we’ve never stopped trying,” President Biden wrote on Twitter just before signing the executive orders. “I’ll take action to advance racial equity and push us closer to that more perfect union we’ve always strived to be,” the President proclaimed. Within hours of taking the oath of office on Jan. 20, President Biden signed 17 executive orders to reverse damaging policy put forth by the previous administration. Throughout his campaign, President Biden pledged to do his part in the fight against systemic racism in America. One of the Jan. 20 executive orders charged all federal agencies with reviewing equity in their programs and actions. President Biden demanded that the Office of Management and Budget analyze whether federal dollars are equitably distributed in communities of color. On Tuesday, Jan. 26, the President reinstated a policy from the Barack Obama administration that prohibited military equipment transfer to local police departments. The President noted the disturbing trends he and the rest of the country reckoned with in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others. The order prevents federal agencies from providing local police with military-grade equipment, which was used by Ferguson, Missouri officers after police shot and killed an unarmed Michael Brown. The previous administration reinstated the policy to allow federal agencies to provide military-style equipment to local police. Like Obama, President Biden has said he also would attempt to eliminate the government’s use of private prisons where unspeakable abuses of inmates – mostly those of color – reportedly occur almost daily. President Biden also issued a memo that directs the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to promote equitable housing policies with the executive orders. He also signed an order to establish a commission on policing.
(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 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.
• Working through the Senate Armed Services Committee to provide support for military bases and defense contractors from Huntsville to Mobile. • Negotiating, together with Senator Richard Shelby and Congresswoman Terri Sewell an adjustment in the wage index rate for calculating Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, which boosted the payments to all hospitals in the state who serve impacted patients. • Together with Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, adding a section to the 2018 Farm Bill to assist farm families with Heir Property problems. This helped many African-American farm families, whose land is held as heir property, to access USDA farm credit and conservation programs. This section also authorized a new $5 loan program to assist families with heir property, to receive technical and credit assistance to clear their land titles and tenure arrangements. Jones said he is working hard to get another coronavirus relief package passed by the U. S. Senate, based on the $2.2 Trillion-dollar HEROES Bill passed by the U. S. House of Representatives. “People are unemployed and suffering, we need to do something that will help people make the rent and put food on the table, as well as implement a plan to control and contain the virus,” he said. Doug Jones is currently locked in a re-election battle with former Auburn football coach, Tommy Tubberville, which will be decided by the upcoming November 3rd General Election. “My opponent, Tommy Tubberville, uses talking points from Trump and McConnell, as his campaign program. He has not barthered to learn the issues that face our state, in terms of the coronavirus pandemic, economic impacts of the pandemic, voter suppression and voting rights and many others,” said Jones. “Tommy refuses to talk to the media and he is also not talking with the people and voters of Alabama. I, on the other hand, have been very transparent, talking to the media, holding telephone and Facebook townhalls ands trying to communicate with people in this state about my positions on the issues that face us,” said Jones. One of the things that I am most proud of is the annual reading of Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963 “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” on the floor of the U. S. Senate, which I helped to initiate. This year the reading was postponed by the COVID-19 crisis and the death of George Floyd. “Having a bi-partisan group of my colleagues read this letter, on the floor of the U. S. Senate, after Floyd’s death was a profound and powerful moment, for our nation,” said Jones. After my interview with Senator Doug Jones, I am more committed than ever to vote for him for a full six-year term, as U. S. Senator.
Thousands showed up to demonstrate their disdain for the unrelenting police killings and shootings around the nation. Because of the coronavirus, most wore masks. (PHOTO: Roy Lewis/Trice Edney News Wire)
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – On the 57th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, tens of thousands of protestors gathered again at the Lincoln Memorial to protest the continued killings of African-American women, children ad men by law enforcement and vigilantes and others. The march, convened by The Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network and Martin Luther King, III, brought together parents and relatives of victims of police-involved murders and vigilantes, a wide cross-section of social justice activists, representatives of civil society and the Civil Rights movements, congressmen and women, members of the clergy and people just tired of the relentless attacks on African-Americans by state-sanctioned agents. “Demonstration without legislation will not lead to change,” Sharpton told the crowd. “We didn’t come out and stand in this heat because we didn’t have nothing to do. We come to let you know if we will come out by these numbers in the heat and stand in the heat, that we will stand in the polls all day long … what we need is change, and we’re at a point where we can get that change. But we have to stand together. We have to vote.” Rev. Sharpton announced the march shortly after Minneapolis cops handcuffed George Floyd, a total of four officers held him down and one cop kneeled on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, killing him. Floyd’s death precipitated multi-racial protests in cities and towns all over the United States. Demonstrators have been demanding justice, an end to systemic racism, and that cops be held accountable for murdering primarily unarmed people. Others have called for the defunding of police departments and abolition of the criminal justice system. African-Americans and their allies are angry, frustrated and exhausted from the constant assaults, steeped in racism and discrimination. And as police officers continue to kill Black people, marches proliferate. Those at the march were also honoring Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by officers in her Louisville home while she slept. The cops broke down the door, Taylor’s boyfriend, thinking they were burglars fired a shot and the plainclothes officers shot and killed Taylor. Elijah McClain of Aurora, Colorado, died after a clerk called the police saying he looked suspicious. Several police tackled him, put him in a chokehold and he suffered a heart attack. Authorities say first responders injected McClain with the sedative, ketomine, which may also have contributed to his death. More recently, widespread protests erupted again after police in Kenosha, Wisconsin shot Jacob Blake seven times in front of his three children as he opened his car door. Blake survived the shooting, but is paralyzed. Relatives of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery, Blake and several others were on hand. “There are two systems of justice in the United States,” an emotional Jacob Blake Sr., said. “There’s a White system and a Black system — the Black system ain’t doing so well.” Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, exhorted the crowd to remain firm and committed in the march toward justice. “Even though we’re going through a crisis, even though it looks dark, I want to tell you to be encouraged,” she said. “Don’t stop saying ‘Black lives matter.’ Don’t stop peaceful protesting,” she said. “Stand up. We were built for this.” March organizers said there were so many families of victims present that there wasn’t time for all of them to speak. Participants in the event – called the “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” Commitment March on Washington – offered speeches on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and then the throng marched to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Marchers on the National Mall wore t-shirts and masks emblazoned with “8:46.” Family members and others carried signs with “Say Her Name” recognizing Taylor and large placards with photos of Martin, Taylor, Tamir Rice, McClain, and countless others killed at the hands of police or White vigilantes. The youngest speaker, Yolanda Renee King, the 12-year-old granddaughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., encouraged young people to continue taking a stand. “My generation has already taken to the streets — peacefully and with masks and social distancing — to protest racism,” she said. “And I want to ask the young people here to join me in pledging that we have only just begun to fight, and that we will be the generation that moves from me to we.” The presence of coronavirus – the global pandemic of which the United States is the epicenter – affected the number of people who were on the Mall. Many people in other parts of the country who planned to be in Washington, erred on the side of caution and stayed home. NAN volunteers handed out gloves, masks and hand sanitizer with the majority of demonstrators wearing masks and they exercising social distancing to comply with requirements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The march occurred against the backdrop of COVID-19, which has so far infected more than 6 million Americans and resulted in the deaths of more than 183,000 people. This public health crisis is accompanied by an economic meltdown and recession caused by the pandemic; more than 56 million unemployed Americans; and anywhere from 10-30 million people who are on the verge of being evicted from their apartments and houses. Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee spoke to the gathering via video. She said that Bayard Rustin, A. Philip Randolph and the rest of those who organized the March on Washington in 1963 would be disenchanted and saddened that more than 50 years later, African Americans are still demanding justice and equality under the law. “I have to believe that if they were with us today, they would share in our anger and frustration as we continue to see Black men and women slain in our streets, and left behind in our economy and justice system that has too often denied Black folks our dignity and rights,” she said. Sharpton emphasized the importance of voting in November to get rid of Donald Trump, spoke of the need to commit to pursuing a new agenda that prioritizes equity, justice, and opportunity for all and said it’s time for a different type of national conversation. ” … The conversation. Well, we’ve had the conversation for decades,” he said. “It’s time to have a conversation with America. We need to have a conversation about your racism, about your bigotry, about your hate, about how you would put your knee on our neck while we cry for our lives. We need a new conversation.”
Jul. 6, 2020 (GIN) – “The martyrs are returning home.” Those were the words of noted historian Malika Rahal on learning that the remains of 24 Algerian resistance fighters, killed in the Algerian independence war of 1954-62, would be flown back to Algeria after years kept by the French in a museum’s storage area. “The body parts of those who fought the conquest of their country are returning home after a very long stay in cardboard boxes at the Musee de l’Homme in Paris,” Rahal said. Algeria had officially asked for the return of the remains in 2018, as well as a handover of colonial archives but bureaucratic obstacles blocked their return until now, when a worldwide reexamination of the legacy of colonialism since the May 25 killing of George Floyd by a white police officer is taking place. The remains – skulls of decapitated fighters – were viewed as war trophies by French colonial officers. “This is the monstrous face of colonization,” Algerian army chief Said Chengiha said in a speech on July 3. Algerian historian Ali-Farid Belkadi, the first to make the grisly discovery while doing research, alerted Algerian authorities. He said the skulls were kept in “vulgar cardboard boxes that resemble shoe boxes”. On July 5, Algeria’s 58th anniversary of independence, the fighters’ remains will finally be laid to rest in the martyrs’ section of the capital’s El Alia cemetery, local media reported. They were flown into Algiers airport from France on a Hercules C-130 transport plane, escorted on arrival by Algerian fighter jets, an AFP correspondent said. To a 21-gun salute, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and a military guard of honor gave the war heroes an official welcome. Tebboune bowed in front of each coffin and a Muslim cleric recited a prayer for the dead. France’s 132 years of colonial rule, and the brutal eight-year war that ended it, have left a lasting legacy of tensions between the two governments and peoples. The French presidency described the handover as an effort to “reconcile the memories of the French and Algerian people”. Historians welcomed the return of the remains, but say they are just part of Algeria’s history that is still in French hands. “We have recovered part of our memory,” historian Mohamed El Korso told the AP news agency. “But the fight must continue, until the recovery of all the remains of the resistance fighters, which number in the hundreds, and the archives of our revolution.”