Chicago, the major city with roots dating from a late 18th-Century settlement founded by a black man, achieved another historic Black First recently with the renaming of a street in the downtown section for legendary anti-lynching investigative journalist Ida Wells Barnett. That renaming of a section of Congress Parkway to Ida B. Wells Drive makes …
Efforts by Tyrone Cook in 2010 to end the wrongful arrest of a nephew plunged this veteran law enforcer into the cesspool of dirty practices among police and prosecutors in Philadelphia.
An investigation conducted by Cook succeeded in having the false charges against his nephew dismissed. Those charges arose from improper investigative techniques by detectives Cook discovered. Such corner-cutting techniques fuel mass incarceration from flawed arrests through overzealous prosecutions.
But Cook’s whistleblowing that exposed improprieties by the cops and the prosecutor on his nephew’s case cost Cook the job he held for over two decades: Philadelphia policeman.
“I just want my name cleared,” Cook said recently.
Those cesspool practices that swamped Cook are too often covered-up by the same authorities who administer crackdowns on ordinary citizens for the same infractions ignored when committed by police and prosecutors.
The discharge of then Sgt. Tyrone Cook reeked of retaliation…retaliation routinely visited upon whistleblowers in police departments across America. Whistleblowers rarely receive support from police officials stated a disturbing study issued by the International Association of Chiefs of Police nearly twenty-years ago.
Philadelphia police officials fired Cook in September 2010 for repeated lateness that allegedly occurred six years earlier. Officials fired Cook despite the fact that in 2004 Cook never received a single reprimand for any of the three dozen times officials claimed he arrived to work late.
In July 1987 Philadelphia’s then District Attorney lashed out at local judges in an unusual verbal assault where that DA castigated what he said was the “historic” practice of judges in Pennsylvania’s largest city to acquit police officers in cases where evidence clearly showed officers engaged in “egregious” brutality.
That DA, Ronald Castille, told a reporter that, “I know the judges will bend over backwards to use whatever reasons they can to throw a case out against a police officer.”
Eleven years after Castille’s outburst against pro-police bias by some Philadelphia judges, Castille engaged in pro-police bias as a member of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
Castille’s 1998 bias act occurred when he participated in the Pa Supreme Court’s rejection of a critical appeal in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal – the Philadelphia journalist convicted in 1982 and sentenced to death for killing a Philly cop during a trial tainted by a pro-police judge.
Abu-Jamal’s conviction is condemned internationally as a gross miscarriage of justice engineered by police, prosecutors and the trial judge.
Condemnation is also leveled at the appellate process that has consistently rejected extraordinary evidence of Abu-Jamal’s innocence and documentation of multiple misconduct by authorities. An Amnesty International report on the Abu-Jamal case, released in February 2000, criticized the “appearance of judicial bias during appellate review…”
Two New Jersey Republican candidates recently inserted a new page into the GOP’s perverse aggravate-racial-prejudice electoral playbook with the false claim that iconic civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. employed fraud to launch his legendary career of activism.
These candidates, one for U.S. Congress and the other for a county-level office, claimed King maliciously manipulated circumstances surrounding his first protest against race prejudice in June 1950. King’s sit-in demonstration at a cafe’ in the small South Jersey town of Maple Shade produced King’s first lawsuit against discrimination.
Republican Congressional candidate Paul Dilks and Republican Camden County Freeholder candidate Vincent Squires claim Dr. King perpetrated a mendacious mess by playing a ‘Race Card’ about that Maple Shade incident.
Dilks and Squires contend racism played no role in that incident. Their posture conflicts with King’s own accounts, newspaper articles in 1950 about that incident and details in award-winning biographies on King.
Dilks and Squires, during recent radio broadcasts, railed that King’s false claims of racist mistreatment maligned the entire town of Maple Shade for the past 68-years.
Dilks claimed that “half” the story surrounding the Maple Shade incident has been suppressed…deliberately.
“The question is: Is the narrative correct? We have got to get the story right,” Dilks said, bashing Democrats for corrupted behavior in South Jersey inclusive of embracing the historic accounts of King’s Maple Shade protest. Dilks leveled specific barbs against his Democrat opponent, Congressman Donald Norcross.
Bigot Boy is at it again, dangling black boogeymen in another of his pathetic attempts to distract attention from his most recent public disaster.
President Trump, America’s Twitter-N-Chief, lashed out again at the NFL for not harshly cracking down on [black] players who do not stand for the national anthem. Trump oozed that tweet recently while reeling from rare bi-partisan criticisms of his pusillanimous performance during that Helsinki press conference with Russian President Putin.
Trump disguised his distract-attention tweet as a reaction to the announcement that the NFL and the NFL players union would negotiate on a policy regarding the national anthem. That announced negotiation suspended the NFL’s previously announced ban on protests during the national anthem…a ban that made Trump beam.
Trump again demanded ejection of any NFL players that protested during the national anthem. He cast the announced negotiations between NFL owners and players as owners’ caving-in to players. Yet, Trump has defended his carven cozy-up to Putin as the need for the two nuclear-armed adversaries to engage in negotiations to improve relations. Trump preens himself as a master negotiator.
The rancorous racism inherent in Trump’s tirades against black NFL players for exercising their First Amendment rights to raise concerns about police brutality assumed absurd dimensions during his post-Putin press conference antic to exploit the national anthem controversy.
The same Trump that extols the national anthem as a seemingly sacrosanct ritual for football games, when he verbally bludgeons black pro-football players, is the same Trump that trashed both the presidency and patriotism in Helsinki when he refused to publicly condemn Putin for the documented Russian interference in the 2016 election. Those Russian cyber onslaughts struck at the heart of America’s democracy: voting.
An epidemic is sweeping across America at record speed.
This epidemic is ignorance -– a fatuousness way beyond the malady of merely ill-informed.
Alarmingly, this epidemic of ignorance has received too little attention despite the quintessentially existential danger it presents to the very existence of America. America’s Founders proclaimed that an ‘informed electorate’ was essential for democracy to flourish. It is an immutable fact that ignorance floods the flourishing of that element for democracy- – informed electorate –- the Founders deemed essential.
The latest example of the debilitating impacts of this epidemic of ignorance is the vile and violent reactions to a recent incident in rural Virginia that involved President Trump’s ever-prevaricating press secretary, Sarah Sanders.
The owner of that restaurant asked Sanders to leave because workers in that eatery, who are gay, expressed discomfort with the presence of The-Public-Face of the Trump Administration that has taken discriminatory stances on gay rights and other issues.
Reaction to that perceived slight of Sanders from Trump loyalists involved ire directed not only at that Virginia establishment but ire dumped on many restaurants with the same name: Red Hen.
Exhibiting clinical levels of ignorance, complete with willful disdain for facts, Trump supporters unleashed a variety of assaults/insults on Red Hen named restaurants in Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, DC, and even in Ontario, Canada — all far from Virginia and all having absolutely no affiliations with that Virginia restaurant beyond sharing a name.
The piercing, bone-deep pain for a parent from having their child forcefully snatched away by authorities is a hurt Debbie Sims Africa knows in horrific ways.
The immense suffering some immigrant parents currently experience — triggered by the child-snatching/ family separation anti-immigration policies pursued by the Trump Administration on America’s southern border – is something that impacts Africa very personally.
On August 8, 1978 authorities in Philadelphia, literally snatched Africa’s two-year-old daughter from her arms.
A few weeks later when Africa gave birth to her son, Philadelphia authorities snatched him away also.
For more than 39-years Africa could not do what she wanted to do all her life: be a lovingly embracing, nurturing and protective mother.
Those 39-plus years Africa lived with that agony of unfulfilled motherhood are more than 467-months: more than 14,200-days, more than 341,640-minutes and more than 20.5-milion seconds.
On August 8, 1978 Philadelphia police arrested Africa following a shootout between police and members of the radical MOVE organization where a policeman was killed. Africa is a member of MOVE – in fact, a niece of MOVE founder John Africa. (All MOVE members utilize Africa as their last name.)
Startling Philadelphia Police Department data related to the Starbucks coffee shop location where the flawed mid-April 2018 arrest of two black men sparked outrage internationally shines an unflattering spotlight on tolerance of racial discrimination within the Starbucks corporation and among police in Philadelphia.
This recently released data coupled with other accounts details a year-plus long pattern of discriminatory conduct by Starbucks personnel that seemingly received tacit backing from middle management at Starbucks and by Philadelphia police.
That now infamous April 12th arrest arose when a white manager at a Starbucks location in Philadelphia’s ritzy Rittenhouse Square neighborhood called police on the two black businessmen two minutes after they entered the coffee shop to await a scheduled meeting with a white businessman who arrived as the pair were placed in handcuffs.
That Starbucks manager, identified in news reports as Holly Hylton, claimed the two businessmen had defiantly rejected her requests to leave the shop because they had not immediately made purchases. One of the pair had asked to use the shop’s bathroom a request rejected by Hylton, who declared bathroom access is limited to paying customers only.
Hylton claimed she was merely enforcing Starbucks corporate policy. However, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, said it was “completely inappropriate to engage the police” because those two men were not creating a “disturbance.”
That recently released data – Philadelphia police 911 call logs – list 69 police responses to various incidents at that 1801Spruce Street Starbucks location between January 2016 and April 18, 2018. Those incidents ranged from improper operation of the security system to robbery.
The New Jersey State NAACP Conference has demanded rejection of an unusual study commissioned by New Jersey’s Historic Preservation Office (HPO) that discounts the significance of the first lawsuit against discrimination ever filed by legendary civil right leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
NAACP State Conference President Richard T. Smith, in a recent letter to HPO, strongly criticized the recommendations and the “very formation” of that study conducted by a team of researchers from Stockton University in New Jersey.
New Jersey’s Historic Preservation Office paid $20,000 for that study as part of its review of an application seeking historic designation for a property in Camden, New Jersey where Dr. King stayed occasionally while attending seminary school in Chester, Pennsylvania nearly 70-years-ago.
King formulated the protest that produced his first lawsuit at that Camden property according to documentation unearthed over the past four years by a New Jersey researcher.
Richard Smith’s letter, on behalf of the NAACP Conference composed of 41 branches in 21 counties, “strongly” urged HPO to reject the study that discounted King’s first lawsuit, a salient event in King’s development as a civil rights activist. The NAACP letter characterized events surrounding that lawsuit as “very significant to American and New Jersey history…”
The NJ Historic Preservation Office had no comment on the NAACP’s letter because that office had not received the NAACP’s letter a HPO spokeswoman stated six days after the NAACP sent its letter.
That controversial study is the first study ever sought by the HPO for a New Jersey Historic Register listing. Because the HPO had placed over 51,000 properties and sites on the NJ Historic Register without a study, Smith’s letter stated that fact “alone causes us serious concern.”
Philadelphia’s top cop, Richard Ross, an African-American, has once again exhibited his blind spot on racial bigotry by police during his defense of a specious arrest of two black men inside a Starbucks coffee shop recently that triggered strong condemnation from the mayor of the so-called City of Brotherly Love.
The arrest of those black men for trespassing while they sat inside a Starbucks awaiting their meeting with a white developer to discuss a possible real estate investment deal sparked social media outrage, an apology from the corporate head of Starbucks and a strident assessment from Philadelphia’s Mayor James Kenney.
That Starbucks incident, Kenney said, “appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018.”
Yet, despite wide-ranging condemnations and growing protests at the Starbuck located in Center City at 18th and Spruce Streets, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Ross made a Facebook video two days after that controversial arrest where he continues to declare that his officers “did absolutely nothing wrong.”
Ross said his officers “were professional” in providing a “service” to the Starbucks employees at that coffee shop located in a ritzy residential area of downtown Philadelphia. Reports indicate the Starbucks shop personnel initially said the pair were loitering, later insisting their offense was trespassing. Ross’ defense ignored the bigotry that ignited the encounter producing the arrest, bigotry not addressed by the predominately white group of arresting officers.
Ross said police responded to a 911 call from that Starbucks reporting a “disturbance” – apparently a reference to the non-confrontational refusal of the two men to leave the coffee shop as demanded by that shop’s manager. The men insisted that they were waiting for a third party to arrive and join them. (That third person, in fact, the developer, arrived as cops were cuffing the two black patrons. He reacted angrily to police demanding to know why they were arresting his associates — to no effect.)
A cellphone video of the incident, taken by a customer, does not show any disturbance or even loud resistance to police by the pair, who calmly submitted to the arrest.
Police held the pair for over seven hours before their release after midnight. That release resulted from Starbucks personnel, who claimed a disturbance, declining to press charges and Philadelphia’s District Attorneys Office stating there was a “lack of evidence that a crime was committed.”