Newswire : The killing of George Floyd sparks continued protests, outrage across the nation

By Hamil R. Harris

George Floyd and Policeman Derek Chauvin with knee on neck of George Floyd

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Minneapolis Police Department Officer Derek Chauvin relaxed as he was suffocating George Floyd. His hands were in his pockets. He was looking around and his knee was on the neck of the handcuffed man for nearly nine minutes until he died.
It didn’t matter that the 46-year- old Black man cried out, “I can’t breathe!” and “They are trying to kill me!” Chauvin didn’t move. And when paramedics finally arrived, there was no attempt to perform CPR on Floyd.
And even though Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, it is too little too late. The incident has ignited protests, fires and destruction in cities across America from Minneapolis to Atlanta Georgia and from Los Angeles to New York City. Even the Corona Virus has taken a back seat to this incident as civil rights leaders, activists and politics speak about the horrendous act against Floyd.
In a tweet, President Obama said the Floyd case calls on the nation to “create a ‘new normal,’ in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions and our hearts.”
NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson called the murder of Floyd “an unspeakable tragedy,” and while some news outlets have focused on violence after his death, Johnson said, “The uprising spreading across the country is fueled by systematic racial issues that have been ingrained in the fabric of this country for decades.”
National Urban League President/CEO Marc Morial said in a statement, “Minneapolis has erupted in outrage. The primal scream of anguish – what Martin Luther King, Jr., called “the language of the unheard” – reverberates across the nation. We pray for those who have taken to the streets, that they will refrain from violence – and for the police who are responding, that they exercise restraint and de-escalate tensions.”
The officers who participated in the deadly assault of George Floyd were fired within 24 hours, and shortly after the National Urban League and the Urban League of the Twin Cities demanded their names, have been identified. They are Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng.
“These men no longer deserve the benefit of the doubt. Their word can no long be trusted. Their records – which, in the case of Chauvin and Thao, include a disturbing number of use-of-force incidents and civilian complaints – must be thoroughly examined for evidence of the racism and inhumanity they displayed during George Floyd’s deadly assault,” Morial said.
Rev. Al Sharpton said on his MSNBC show that he will go to Minneapolis to preach Floyd’s funeral. He interviewed Floyd’s brother who talked about the conversations he had with President Donald Trump, Vice-President Pence and former Vice-President Joe Biden.
Philonise Floyd said that he told Biden, “I never had to beg a man before but I asked [Biden] could he please, please get justice for my brother, please. Because I need it, I just don’t want to see him on a shirt like those other guys. Nobody deserves that.”
Floyd said his call with Trump was much briefer.
“It was so fast. He didn’t give me the opportunity to even speak. It was hard. I was trying to talk to him but he just kept like pushing me off like ‘I don’t want to hear what you’re talking about.’ I just told him I want justice. I said that I can’t believe that they committed a modern-day lynching in broad daylight,” he shared.
President Trump made comments about the incident Saturday following the historic launch of the SpaceX rocket with two astronauts aboard. It was the first manned launch in nine years.
“Yesterday, I spoke to George’s family and expressed the sorrow of our entire nation for their loss. I stand before you as a friend and ally to every American seeking justice and peace, and I stand before you in firm opposition to anyone exploiting this tragedy to loot, rob, and menace. Healing not hatred, justice not chaos are the mission at hand,” Trump said. “I understand the pain that people are feeling. We support the right of peaceful protests and we hear their pleas, but what we are now seeing on the streets of our cities has nothing to do with the memory of George Floyd.”
Also during the MSNBC interview, Floyd gave his thoughts about former officer Derek Chauvin and the other officers involved in the incident on nine-minute video, which shows Floyd’s brother screaming as he is dying.
“They all need to be convicted of first-degree murder, and given the death penalty because they didn’t care about what they wanted to do with my brother. He wasn’t a person to them, he was scum. He was nothing,” he told Sharpton. “I’m hurt, my family is hurt. His kids are hurt. They will grow up without a father. Everybody is crying and in pain right now. So if they could do anything please arrest those other officers.”
Hennepin County State’s Attorney Mike Freeman is prosecuting the case. At a recent press conference he said that his office is still investigating the case, but people in Minnesota and across the country are not waiting for him to speak out. Later in the week, Kieth Ellison, Minnesota Attorney General, who is African-American joined the prosecution.
“Being Black in America should not be a death sentence,” said Minister Russell Pointer of the Metropolitan Church of Christ in Minneapolis. His comments were part of a Zoom forum that was out on Facebook live by the Christian Chronicle.
From Minnesota to Washington DC, people are talking, protesting and demanding change at a moment because of the incident that has forced the nation to focus on something other than the COVID 19 pandemic.
On Friday night people in droves walked fast to Lafayette Square in front of the White House and shouted “No Justice No Peace. There were other protests in New York, Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles and on Saturday there protests in Baltimore that were mostly peaceful but turn violent after people starting throwing rocks in a park across from City Hall.
President Trump and his aides have consulted with the military and authorized the use of the National Guard in certain cities, many pundits are calling wondering how will this urban crisis end anytime soon.
But in a major speech delivered after he talked to the Floyd family, Biden said. “And once again we heard the words, and they heard them, ‘I can’t breathe’ — an act of brutality so elemental, it did more than deny one more Black man in America his civil rights and his human rights. It denied him of his very humanity. It denied him of his life, depriving George Floyd as it deprived Eric Garner of one of the things every human being must be able to do: breathe. So simple, so basic, so brutal.”
Biden continued, “You know, the same thing happened with [Ahmaud] Arbery, the same thing happened with Breonna Taylor, the same thing with George Floyd. We’ve spoken their names aloud. We’ve cried them out in pain and in horror. We’ve chiseled them into long-suffering hearts. They’re the latest additions to the endless list of stolen potential wiped out unnecessarily. You know, it’s a list that dates back more than 400 years. Black men, Black women, Black children.”
He concluded, “The original sin of this country still stains our nation today, and sometimes we manage to overlook it. We just push forward with the thousand other tasks in our daily life, but it’s always there, and weeks like this, we see it plainly that we’re a country with an open wound. None of us can turn away. None of us can be silent. None of us can any longer, can we hear the words ‘I can’t breathe’ and do nothing. We can’t fail victims, like what Martin Luther King called ‘’he appalling silence of good people.’”

Newswire: Is the FBI underreporting the surge in hate crimes?

 By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent @StacyBrownMedia

Graphic on hate crimes

The FBI has released it’s 2017 hate crimes statistics which revealed a 17 percent increase in incidents since 2016. In 2017 there were 8,493 victims and 6,307 known offenders. By comparison there were 7,509 victims and 5,727 known offenders in 2016, according to the data. “This report is a call to action – and we will heed that call,” Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said in a statement. “The Department of Justice’s top priority is to reduce violent crime in America, and hate crimes are violent crimes.” The report contrasts with the prior year when there were 6,036 single-bias incidents, or occurrences where the perpetrator has one bias against a community or group. By comparison, in 2017, there were 7,106 single-bias incidents reported. According to the FBI, “58.1 percent were motivated by a race/ethnicity/ancestry bias, 22.0 percent were prompted by religious bias, 15.9 percent resulted from sexual-orientation bias and 1.7 percent were motivated by gender-identity bias.” “This [report] is shocking and requires Congress’s full attention,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement. “Shouldn’t this urgent crisis be the subject of the first post-recess Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today, instead of ramming through more Trump judges? Our lives are at stake,” Johnson said. Also, some organizations are skeptical of the FBI statistics and say underreporting remains a significant problem in its annual survey. In a statement, the Arab American Institute (AAI) expressed concern and disappointment with the release of the 2017 hate crime statistics. The organization claims that the data contained some glaring omissions, including three of the most severe acts of bias-motivated violence committed last year. And while career officials at the Department of Justice continue to demonstrate a commitment to serving communities and preventing hate crime, officials at the AAI said they remain dissatisfied with the response from this administration. Of 34 reportable bias motivation categories, all but five reported an increase in 2017. With 2,013 incidents reported, “Anti-Black or African American” bias accounted for nearly half of all crimes motivated by race or ethnicity, which rose 18 percent according to the FBI data, while “Anti-American Indian or Alaska Native,” “Anti-Multiple Races, Group,” and “Anti-Hispanic or Latino” hate crimes all increased over 20 percent (251, 180, and 427 incidents, respectively). “Anti-Arab” hate crime, which was reintroduced into the data collections in 201 after the category became “invalid” in 1996 and was eliminated in 2001, increased 100 percent last year, with 102 incidents reported. As for crimes motivated by religion, which increased 23 percent in 2017, “Anti-Jewish” hate crime surged 37 percent, representing a majority with 938 incidents reported. After increasing 67 percent in 2015 and 19 percent in 2016, “Anti-Islamic (Muslim)” hate crime decreased in 2017 but remained well above historical averages with 273 incidents reported. Based on state-level hate crime statistics reported through the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) system, which the FBI also uses to publish its annual report, the AAI was expecting an increase of crimes motivated by sexual orientation in 2017 statistics. While an increase was reported in the federal data, it was less significant than expected, the organization noted in a statement. Analysis from AAI shows that in multiple states, official state-level data reported a greater number of incidents than what is reported in the FBI’s statistics. Crimes motivated by disability, gender, and gender identity, which are more recent additions to the data collections and generally produce smaller annual totals, were significantly affected by these discrepancies. For example, the Kentucky State Police reported 41 gender-motivated hate crime incidents in official state-level statistics, whereas only 46 incidents were reported nationwide according to the FBI data. Aside from these discrepancies, additional aspects of the 2017 federal data suggest significant underreporting, the most striking of which being the omission of three of the most severe acts of bias-motivated violence committed last year, AAI officials said. According to FBI statistics, the city of Olathe, Kansas, reported no hate crimes, and statewide, zero hate crime murder were reported in 2017. But on February 22, Srinivas Kuchibhotla was shot to death in an Olathe bar because of his perceived national origin, according to the AAI. The shooter, Adam Purinton, who also wounded Kuchibhotla’s friend Alok Madasani and another man named Ian Grillot, was convicted on federal hate crime charges. Similarly, neither the May 26 fatal stabbing of Ricky John Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche aboard a train in Portland, Oregon, nor the August 12 killing of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia, is reflected in the federal data. Further, over 300 jurisdictions representing populations of at least 50,000 people reported zero hate crimes in 2017. Of these jurisdictions, 78 represent populations of at least 100,000, and research from AAI found evidence of no fewer than 10 additional major jurisdictions that did not even participate in the data collections. The largest jurisdiction to report zero hate crimes in 2017 was the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, which represents a population of over 1.6 million and is one of the nation’s largest police departments in terms of population served. The entire state of Nevada had only three agencies submit incident reports last year, with just five incidents reported statewide. Not including Hawaii, which does not participate in the national hate crime statistics program, 11 additional states had fewer than 10 agencies submit incident reports in 2017. “The reported increase in the FBI’s hate crime statistics warrants concern, as do the discrepancies between state and federal hate crime data, the omission of several high-profile hate crime incidents, and the limited rate of hate crime reporting in some major jurisdictions,” AAI officials said. “The scourge of hate crime continues to harm communities in cities and states across the country. The FBI data confirms the reality we all know: hate is increasing in America,” said Maya Berry, the executive director of the AAI. “The FBI data, in what is missing from it, also demonstrates the hate crime reporting system we have in place is falling to respond adequately to hate crime, and thus inform fully the policy remedies we must make to improve our response to hate,” Berry said. Berry continued: “While we remain grateful to the career professionals at the DOJ, it is clear the Trump Administration has largely abdicated from the stated federal interest of eradicating bias-motivated violence, and the president’s rhetoric has at times appeared to exacerbate its spread. With respect to the recent data release, AAI is disappointed that despite our request, the administration made no attempt to coordinate an event with stakeholders and officials to discuss the annual FBI statistics, as was customary during previous administrations.”

Newswire : Annual NAACP Convention closes with a Call to Vote

By Lauren Poteat (NNPA Newswire Washington Correspondent)

Thousands of people from across the country gathered in San Antonio, Texas for the 109th Annual NAACP Convention. The daring theme of this year’s convention (“Stop Hate, Vote”) was right on target, given that the 2018 midterm elections are just a few months away.

Panels and breakout sessions also focused on social justice and civil rights in the Trump Era, conversations that NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson deemed “highly necessary.” “As we begin to look at the critical landscape—with the increase in intolerance and hatred—we realize that the 2016 elections resulted in a new level of boldness for racists to display their racism,” Johnson said. “The only way to counter that is to vote…Vote on the midterm elections, so that we can hold elected officials accountable and make sure that they implement positive change.” The convention also included a diverse career fair, educational seminars, workshops on public policy, and a special hip-hop summit. Johnson also spoke about the importance of millennials and their community and political engagement. “Millennials should understand that their role in democracy is the same as everyone else’s,” Johnson said. “We are African Americans first and we owe it to our communities to use all of the tools necessary to better impact our society.” Championing this effort, NAACP Chairman Leon W. Russell shared his own ideas during his annual convention address. “In this new era of xenophobia, neo-Nazism, White nationalism, and current efforts to take our nation back to a darker and more dangerous time, I have come to San Antonio, Texas to say to the NAACP and our allies, ‘the time has come to defeat hate.’” Russell continued: “We call on voters, especially millennials of color, to stand against the face of bigotry and divisiveness.” Acknowledging that nearly 63 million Americans voted for the current president and that Black voter turnout declined, Russell still expressed hope for the future. “Our hope is to vote out the hate and we need everyone to vote,” Russell said. The NAACP also honored Willie Brown, San Francisco’s first Black mayor, with the “Spingarn Medal,” the organization’s most prestigious award; the award was in recognition of his years of civil rights work and dedication to the betterment of the Black community. Former President Bill Clinton presented the award to Brown and paid tribute to the civil rights activist. Brown said that the Spingarn Medal represented his dedication to public service and the community. Dozens of millennials attended this year’s convention, much to the pleasure of former NAACP President and current National Newspaper Publishers Association President Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. “The NAACP is just as relevant today as it was 50 years ago,” Dr. Chavis said. “The potential that the organization has with these millennials is even greater. The NAACP literally has the opportunity to embrace these young lives and thus be embraced, to create an even better, bolder organization for the lives of all people.”