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.”
Thousands of essential workers walked off the job Monday in the Strike For Black Lives, demanding corporations raise wages, provide healthcare and paid sick leave, and the right to unionize. According to CNN, the walkout, called the Strike for Black Lives, took place in more than 100 cities across the U.S. Protesters included Black and Latino fast-food workers, home health aides, janitors, and others in industries where Black workers are disproportionately represented. The Strike For Black Lives was organized by the Movement for Black Lives along with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Fight for $15, the Poor People’s Campaign, and other labor advocacy organizations. “Black people are dying, Black communities are in danger, and workers of all races have had enough,” said Mary Kay Henry, president of the SEIU—which represents almost 2 million service workers—in a statement. “With the Strike for Black Lives, we are uniting the interconnected fights for racial and economic justice.” In addition to striking workers, organizers said thousands more walked away from their job for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin laid his knee on George Floyd’s neck. The strike was mostly aimed at large corporations such as McDonald’s, Amazon, Uber, and Lyft, who have fought against healthcare plans, paid sick leave, hazard pay, and unions. “If you’re concerned about life, you have to challenge corporations that will put up a hashtag or slogan but do nothing about workers having healthcare or a living wage or decent employment,” Rev. Dr. William Barber II, leader of the Poor People’s Campaign, told CNN. A study in May found Black Americans, who make up a disproportionate percentage of essential workers, are more likely to die from the coronavirus, representing 60% of deaths and only 13.4% of the population. Many large corporations have ended the pay raises and sick leave policies they instituted at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Kroger and Rite Aid ended the pay bumps in May and Amazon and Albertsons ended the hikes in June. Stop & Shop ended its pay raises earlier this month. “The danger facing essential workers hasn’t diminished. Any job where a worker is interacting closely with the public or coworkers for an extended period of time elevates the possibility of contracting coronavirus,” said Indeed economist AnnElizabeth Konkel.
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.
By Frederick H. Lowe, BlackmansStreet.Today Black Lives Matter protesters in the United Kingdom pulled the statue of Edward Colston, a 17th century slave trader, off its base in Bristol, England, and rolled it down the street before pushing it into the harbor to a watery grave to loud cheers, according to the BBC. The entire event was captured by photographers. Protesters in Bristol, a city in South West England, used ropes to pull down the 18- foot tall bronze statue of Colston leaning on his walking stick. The statue was dedicated in 1895, but for many city residents and others it had been a source of controversy because of his slave-trading past, although streets, buildings and bridges in Bristol are named after Colston who died in 1721. Before he died, he gave his wealth to charities. Any association with his name is controversial by some. In February 2019, St. Mary Redcliffe and Temple School in Bristol announced that it would be renaming Colston House as Johnson House, after the American mathematician Katherine Johnson, a black woman, who plotted astronaut John Glenn’s successful February 20, 1962, orbit of the Earth. Colston was an official of the Royal African Company and for a short time as Member of Parliament. In 1680, the company monopolized Britain’s slave trade, selling 80,000 to 100,000 black men, women, and children to businessmen in the Americas in exchange for tobacco, sugar and other goods. Royal African Company employees branded captured slaves with the initials RAC, using a red-hot branding iron. Bristol was a key port in the triangular slave trade. In the first side of the slavery triangle, manufactured goods were shipped to West Africa and exchanged for Africans. The enslaved captives were transported across the Atlantic to the Americas in the Middle Passage under brutal conditions. The third side of the triangle, plantation goods such as sugar, tobacco, rum, rice, cotton, and a few slaves (sold to the aristocracy as house servants) returned across the Atlantic to the United Kingdom. At the height of the Bristol slave trade from 1700 to 1807, more than 2,000 slave ships carried an estimated 500,000 people from Africa to slavery in the Americas. After the Colston statute was torn from its base, a protester pressed his knee on Colston’s neck similar to the way former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin pressed his knee to back of a handcuffed George Floyd’s neck as he lay face down on the ground, killing him. The removal of Colston’s statute occurred during the second day of demonstrations in Manchester, Wolverhampton, Nottingham, Glasgow, and Edinburgh over Floyd’s murder and in protest of police brutality and racial inequality.
By: Juan A. Lozano and Nomaan Merchant, Associated Press
HOUSTON (AP) — George Floyd was lovingly remembered Tuesday as Big Floyd — a “gentle giant,” a father and brother, athlete and mentor, and now a force for change — at a funeral for the Black man whose death has sparked a global reckoning over police brutality and racial prejudice.
Hundreds of mourners wearing masks against the coronavirus packed a Houston church a little more than two weeks after Floyd was pinned to the pavement by a white Minneapolis police officer who put a knee on his neck for what prosecutors said was 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
Cellphone video of the encounter, including Floyd’s pleas of “I can’t breathe,” ignited protests and scattered violence across the U.S. and around the world, turning the 46-year-old Floyd — a man who in life was little known beyond the public housing project where he was raised in Houston’s Third Ward — into a worldwide symbol of injustice.
“Third Ward, Cuney Homes, that’s where he was born at,” Floyd’s brother, Rodney, told mourners at the Fountain of Praise church. “But everybody is going to remember him around the world. He is going to change the world.”
The funeral capped six days of mourning for Floyd in three cities.
Following the service, Floyd’s body was to be taken by horse-drawn carriage to a cemetery in suburban Pearland, where he was to be laid to rest next to his mother.
“George Floyd was not expendable. This is why we’re here,” Democratic Rep. Al Green of Houston told the crowd. “His crime was that he was born Black. That was his only crime. George Floyd deserved the dignity and respect that we accord all people just because they are children of a common God.”
While the service was private, at least 50 people gathered outside to pay their respects. Some held signs with messages including “Black Lives Matter” and “Together because of George Floyd.”
“There’s a real big change going on, and everybody, especially Black, right now should be a part of that,” said Kersey Biagase, who traveled more than three hours from Port Barre, Louisiana, with his girlfriend, Brandi Pickney. They wore T-shirts printed with Floyd’s name and “I Can’t Breathe.”
Dozens of Floyd’s family members, most dressed in white, were led into the sanctuary by the Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist.
The mourners also included rapper Trae tha Truth, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who brought the crowd to its feet when he announced he will sign an executive order banning chokeholds in the city.
“No child should have to ask questions that too many black children have had to ask for generations: Why?” former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, said in a video eulogy played at the service. “Now is the time for racial justice. That is the answer we must give to our children when they ask why.”
Biden made no mention of politics. But other speakers took swipes at President Donald Trump, who has ignored demands to address racial bias and has called on authorities crack down hard on lawlessness.
“The president talks about bringing in the military, but he did not say one word about 8 minutes and 46 seconds of police murder of George Floyd,” Sharpton said. “He challenged China on human rights. But what about the human right of George Floyd?”
The Rev. William Lawson, a contemporary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., said: “Obviously the first thing we have to do is clean out the White House.”
Most of the pews were full, with relatively little space between people.
“So much for social distancing today,” the Rev. Remus Wright told mourners, gently but firmly instructing those attending to wear face fasks.
With the funeral inside the church still underway, hundreds of people lined the route to the cemetery. Many said they had arrived hours ahead to secure a spot.
“We’re out here for a purpose. That purpose is because first of all he’s our brother. Second, we want to see change,” said Marcus Brooks, 47, who set up a tent along the route with other graduates of Jack Yates High School, Floyd’s alma mater. “I don’t want to see any black man, any man, but most definitely not a black man sitting on the ground in the hands of bad police.”
The funeral came a day after about 6,000 people attended a public memorial, also in Houston, waiting for hours under a baking sun to pay their respects to Floyd, whose body lay in an open gold-colored casket. Over the past six days, memorials for Floyd were also held in Minneapolis, where he lived in recent years, and Raeford, North Carolina, near where he was born.
The services have drawn the families of other black victims whose names have become part of the debate over race and justice — among them, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Ahmaud Arbery and Trayvon Martin.
In the past two weeks, amid the furor over Floyd’s death, sweeping and previously unthinkable things have taken place: Confederate statues have been toppled, and many cities are debating overhauling, dismantling or cutting funding for police departments. Authorities in some places have barred police from using chokeholds or are otherwise rethinking policies on the use of force.
Floyd, a bouncer who had lost his job because of the coronavirus outbreak, was seized by police after being accused of passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store.
Four Minneapolis officers were arrested in his death: Derek Chauvin, 44, was charged with second-degree murder. J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao were charged with aiding and abetting. All four could get up to 40 years in prison.
Some of the mostly peaceful demonstrations that erupted after Floyd’s death were marked by bursts of arson, assaults, vandalism and smash-and-grab raids on businesses, with more than 10,000 people arrested. But protests in recent days have been overwhelmingly peaceful.