NAACP president Brooks, 10 more activists, arrested again in sit-in outside Sessions’ office in Mobile

By: Melanie Eversley, USA Today

Cornell Brooks and Jeff Sessions

 

NAACP president and CEO Cornell Williams Brooks and 10 other activists spent about three hours in jail Monday after staging a repeat sit-in outside of the Mobile, Ala., office of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Republican who is President Trump’s pick for attorney general.

The group, charged with criminal trespass, is due back in court in Mobile on March 6, Brooks told USA TODAY. Monday’s protest came about four weeks after Brooks and other NAACP officials staged a similar sit-in at Sessions’ office in an attempt to compel the senator to remove himself from the attorney general nomination process. The civil rights organization opposes the conservative Republican for his opposition to the Voting Rights Act and for other stances that the NAACP believes work against its human rights mission.

“I think it’s clear that this administration is picking a fight with the American citizenry and the citizenry is making it clear that we’re not backing down; we’re not relenting,” Brooks said.

Brooks and five other NAACP officials were to appear in court in Mobile on misdemeanor criminal trespass charges for the Jan. 3 sit-in outside of Sessions’ office. But upon learning that the prosecutor did not want to proceed, they went back to Sessions’ office to protest again. Staffers closed the office before they arrived, Brooks said..

The group wanted to head back to Sessions’ office as a matter of taking responsibility for their actions, the NAACP president said. “In the same way that the Senate has a responsibility (to carry out the confirmation process) … we have a responsibility to make our voices heard through civil disobedience,” he said. “We’ve already made phone calls; we’re writing letters. That which is left to us is breaking the law and going to jail.”

Sessions spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores acknowledged that the charges were dropped on Sunday. The building manager attempted to block the group on Monday from entering but they were able to enter the building anyway, sitting down in front of the entrance to Sessions’ office.

About one hour into the sit-in , Mobile police arrested Brooks and 10 others, packed the NAACP officials and local protesters into a police van and took them to the police station for booking, said Quincy Bates, an NAACP spokesman.

Sessions’ Mobile office was closed Monday, Isgur Flores said. At about 4:30 p.m. ET, the group had just been booked and was being taken to the Mobile city jail, police department spokeswoman Charlette Solis said. They were released about three hours later, Brooks said.

Isgur Flores responded via e-mail, saying, “We look forward to Senator Sessions nomination being voted out of committee tomorrow and receiving bipartisan support on the floor later this week.” In the past, Isgur Flores has pointed out that Sessions has endorsements and support from black state officials in Alabama.

Sessions has made statements that hint he might rollback advances the Obama administration has made against alleged police misconduct, that he believes the Ku Klux Klan is “OK,” and that he supports broad immigration reform, according to civil rights advocates.

 

John Gore, lawyer who defended racial gerrymandering picked to head DOJ Civil Rights Division

 

By: Lee Fang, The Intercept

John Gore who has worked to defend laws that critics say are designed to weaken the voting rights of African-Americans and other minorities, was selected by President Donald Trump to serve as a senior civil rights official at the Department of Justice.

Gore’s new role as Trump’s choice for deputy assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is notable because he will lead the division that oversees civil rights laws, including voter suppression issues. Trump and his nominee to lead the Justice Department, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, are strong supporters of voting restrictions such as voter identification.

The appointment of Gore represents a dramatic break from the the civil rights legacy of the outgoing Obama Justice Department, which has filed suits against voter restrictions in Wisconsin, Texas, North Carolina, and other states. Under Obama, the civil rights division was restructured to take on more cases, with former Attorney General Eric Holder describing the team as the agency’s “crown jewel.”

In stark contrast, Gore has worked to defend Republican redistricting laws in Virginia, South Carolina, New York, and Florida — including maps that opponents say were drawn to maximize Republican seats in Congress and frequently employed a strategy of packing African-American voters into a single district to dilute their voting power in neighboring districts.

In Florida and Virginia, Gore also intervened on behalf of Republicans to defend new voter ID laws, rules civil rights group have assailed for reducing participation rates among African-Americans.

In Virginia, for example, Gore was one of the main attorneys working to defend a 2011 Republican map that moved black voters from four different districts into Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District, a majority African-American district held by a Democrat that encompasses the areas around Richmond, Hampton Roads, and Newport News. The strategy appeared designed to weaken Democratic chances in the four neighboring districts, all held by Republicans, by lowering the number of African-Americans, who tend to vote for Democratic candidates.

A brief filed by the local NAACP argued that the map’s “high concentration of African-American voters” represented a “racial gerrymander” that violated voters’ due process rights. The GOP legislature argued that politics, not race, was the motivating factor in drawing the boundaries.

Federal courts overturned the GOP map, creating new borders that added African-American voters to the 4th Congressional district, which was previously represented by a white Republican. In 2016 the district for the first time elected an African-American Democrat.

In 2015, a resident of Virginia challenged the state’s newly passed law requiring a photo identification to vote, arguing that because minority groups were less likely to have a photo ID, the law “disproportionately suppresses the vote of African-Americans and Latinos in Virginia.”

A legal team from the law firm Jones Day, including Gore, filed an amicus brief in support of the voter ID law. The brief claimed that although the voter ID law might lead to a “relative shortfall in minority participation,” the true difference was attributable to “different levels of electoral interest or underlying socio-economic disparities,” and therefore the state’s actions were legal.

In December 2016, a federal appeals court upheld the photo ID law, ruling that “there was no evidence to suggest racially discriminatory intent in the law’s enactment.”

As Buzzfeed reported, just hours after Jones Day announced that Gore would be leaving for the administration position, the Justice Department moved to delay a hearing sought by the Obama administration to challenge the Texas voter ID law, one of the strictest in the country. The Justice Department noted that it sought a delay “because of the federal government’s change in administration, which took place on January 20, 2017.”

On Monday, during his evening meeting with congressional leaders, President Trump reiterated the false claim that millions of undocumented people voted in the last election, costing him the popular vote.

 

ANSC and SOS protest nomination of Jeff Sessions to be U. S. Attorney General

protestersA group of thirty representatives of the Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC) and the Save Ourselves Movement for Justice and Democracy (SOS) Direct Action Committee protested the nomination, by President-elect Trump, of Alabama Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to become U. S. Attorney General. The protest was held for the past two Tuesdays, in front of the Federal Courthouse Building in Montgomery, where Sessions has his Alabama office.

The ANSC and SOS have issued a detailed statement opposing Session’s nomination. The statement says:
“We are compelled to issue this statement, because as citizens and residents of Alabama, we are intimately knowlegable and keenly aware of the harm that Senator Sessions has brought to our people and our state. We are issuing this statement as a warning to people in other states of the United States that Jeff Sessions is singularly unfit, manifestly unqualified and totally insensitive to serve as the chief law enforcement agent for our great nation.
“We are especially concerned that as Attorney General, he will be charged with enforcing civil rights, voting rights, and human rights laws, as well as being the primary caretaker of our criminal justice system. A criminal justice system and the policing mechanisms that support it are in urgent need of reform. By education, temperament and actions over the past 40 years, Jeff Sessions has shown himself to be unfit, unqualified and insensitive to serve in this critical position.”
The ANSC, SOS and other groups will continue to protest Session’s nomination. On Friday, December 16, 2016, at 11:00 AM the NAACP, the Alabama Moral Movement, ANSC, SOS and other organizations will protest at the Vance Federal Office Building in Birmingham, where Sessions has another of his state offices

Hillary Clinton goes on attack against Donald Trump in NAACP speech

BY LISA L. COLANGELO
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Hillary Clinton addresses NAACP

Hillary Clinton
addresses NAACP

Hillary Clinton made it clear Monday she isn’t about to let the GOP cast Donald Trump in a softer light at the Republican National Convention.

During an emotional speech before the NAACP’s national conference in Ohio, Clinton painted her likely Republican opponent as a President Obama-hating, white supremacist sympathizer who was once investigated for refusing to rent apartments to African-Americans.
“He might say otherwise if he were here, but of course he declined your invitation,” Clinton told members of the historic civil rights group. “So all we can go on is what he has said and done in the past.”
Her comments come as Republicans are expected to launch a wave of attacks against her as part of the first day of the convention’s theme: “Keep America Safe Again.”
Clinton, who is poised to receive the Democratic nomination for President next week, kicked off an aggressive campaign to register 3 million new voters in the coming weeks.
“This man is the nominee of the party of Lincoln and we are watching it become the party of Trump,” she said to cheers. “That is not just a huge loss to our democracy, it is a threat to our democracy. … Donald Trump cannot become President of the United States.”
Her voter registration campaign will include 500 events at diverse locations including minor league baseball games, college campuses and hair salons.
“Your votes count more than ever,” Clinton told the crowd.
Hazel Dukes, president of the NAACP New York State Conference, tried to head off GOP criticism by lauding Clinton’s service as Secretary of State.
“She strengthened national security, championed human rights and opportunities for women and girls across the world,” Dukes said. “She was instrumental in restoring American standing in the world.”

NAACP president: Trump ‘kind of Jim Crow with hairspray and a blue suit’

By Ashley Young, CNN

 

NAACP President William Cornell Brooks

NAACP President
Cornell William Brooks

(CNN)NAACP President Cornell William Brooks on Monday condemned Republican front-runner Donald Trump and said he represents a “kind of Jim Crow with hairspray and a blue suit.”
“The fact of the matter is this is hateful. It is racist. It is bigoted. It is xenophobic. It represents a kind of Jim Crow with hairspray and a blue suit,” Brooks told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room.” “Let’s not underestimate what we’re dealing with.  This is a very, very ugly moment in America.”
But Brooks said he doesn’t hold anything against
Americans who support Trump. “I don’t blame the people –- American citizens — for their economic anxieties and a sense of desperation. The fact that their grasping at straws and they grasped onto a bigoted, demagogic  billionaire speaks to their desperation, not necessarily his appeal or the strength of his platform,” he said.
CNN has reached out to the Trump campaign for comment, with no response.
The billionaire’s rallies have turned increasingly violent in the past week as supporters have clashed with protesters. Trump was forced to cancel a rally in Chicago over the weekend and was given a scare when a protester rushed the stage Saturday.
And a former Breitbart reporter filed an assault charge against Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, alleging he yanked her violently from Trump last Tuesday.
“The fact of the matter is he’s engaged in rhetoric that represents a kind of apologetics, if you will, of violence,” Brooks said.
Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina said Monday they are weighing whether to press charges against Trump for inciting a riot during that rally where the protester was sucker punched by a 78-year-old white man. Trump has said he is considering paying the legal fees for the supporter charged with assault.
Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks flatly rejected the premise of the investigation into Trump’s role in the violent altercation.”It is the protesters and agitators who are in violation, not Mr. Trump or the campaign,” Hicks said Monday in a statement.
Hicks added that Trump’s speech was “extremely well thought out and well received” and instead focused on the role of protesters, who she said “in some cases … used foul language, screamed vulgarities and made obscene gestures, annoying the very well behaved audience.”
Brooks believes Trump’s behavior is “contemptible” but will “leave that for the prosecutors in North Carolina to determine.” He added there “absolutely” is a racial aspect to business mogul’s increasingly violent rallies.
“When you call Mexicans rapists, when you use code words like ‘thug,’ where you suddenly can’t distance yourself from the Klan. The fact of the matter is we’ve been in this ugly movie before. In the 1920s the Klan combined an anti-immigrant sentiment in the country with a kind of un-American patriotism with a venue of Christianity,” Brooks said.
Blitzer pointed out that Trump eventually did disavow the Klu Klux Klan.