Category: Protests

Chicago Police Officer Convicted of Second-Degree Murder in Shooting of Laquan McDonald

(photo via aljazeera.com)

by Jaweed Kaleem via latimes.com

A jury has found white Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder in the 2014 high-profile shooting death of a black 17-year-old, Laquan McDonald. He was also found guilty of 16 counts of aggravated battery.

The verdict marks the first time in five decades that a Chicago police officer has been found guilty of murder in a shooting.

The shooting led to widespread protests and political upheaval in the city, as many residents viewed it as a clear case of police abuse. Dashboard camera video, which a court forced the city to release in 2015, showed that McDonald was shot as he was walking away from Van Dyke and continued to be hit by bullets as he writhed on the ground. In all, Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times in less than 15 seconds.

The murder verdict, announced in a courtroom three miles from the site of the shooting, means Van Dyke will face between four and 20 years in prison. He could face additional time for aggravated battery.

The killing happened on Oct. 20, 2014, after police received reports that somebody was breaking into vehicles in a trucking yard. Officers began following McDonald, who had a 3-inch folding knife.

They radioed a request for an officer with a Taser, but Van Dyke fired before that officer arrived. Van Dyke was charged with murder, aggravated battery and official misconduct.

During the trial, prosecutors argued that Van Dyke intended to kill the teen even though he was not a threat to Van Dyke’s life or that of other officers. Van Dyke and his lawyers argued the opposite: that McDonald seemed dangerous and had waved his knife at the officer even after falling to the ground.

Illinois law authorizes an officer to use deadly force when it’s “necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or such other person” or “necessary to prevent the arrest from being defeated by resistance or escape.”

The 12-member jury, which civil rights groups criticized for including only one black juror even though African Americans make up 31% of the city’s population, began deliberations on Thursday after three weeks of proceedings that included more than 40 witnesses.

Over the years, the case led to the resignations of a county prosecutor and the police superintendent as well as criticism of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who said last month that he would not run for reelection.

The killing also led to an investigation of Chicago policing by the Department of Justice, which was released last year and found that officers routinely violated the civil rights of minorities and treated them as “animals or subhuman.”

Last year, two former and one current officer were charged in conspiring to cover up for Van Dyke after the shooting. Those officers will go to trial later in the year.

Source: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-jason-van-dyke-verdict-2018-story.html

Colin Kaepernick Named Face of Nike’s 30th Anniversary of ‘Just Do It’ Campaign

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to hollywoodreporter.com, Nike unveiled the face of its campaign celebrating 30 years of its “Just do it” campaign – none other than that of Colin Kaepernick.  In the ad, the former NFL quarterback is looking at the camera, and printed over the image is: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt.”

Kaepernick has been a Nike athlete since 2011, but the Super Bowl QB has not played on a team since 2016. Kaepernick created a national firestorm when he began kneeling during the National Anthem in an effort to protest African-American inequality and police brutality in America.  Since then, a number of players on all teams have kneeled or raised a fist during the anthem for the same protest.

Last season, as the debate over protesting was burning ever hotter, the NFL and the NFL Players Association defended the right for those who wanted to protest peacefully.

According to bleacherreport.com, Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the Niners in March 2017 and hasn’t been able to find a new team since. An April visit with the Seattle Seahawks was postponed after he did not assure the franchise he’d stand for the anthem if signed, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told Steve Wyche of NFL Media about the decision he made in 2016. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

The 30-year-old quarterback filed a collusion grievance against the league, which claimed he was being kept out of the league because of the protests he started. His argument received a boost last week when arbitrator Stephen B. Burbank ruled there was enough evidence to require a full hearing.

Although Kaepernick has received numerous honors for his efforts, including being named GQ magazine’s Citizen of the Year for 2017, the movement he started remains polarizing.

Meanwhile, NFL owners approved anthem rules in May that would force players to stand if they are on the field or they must remain in the locker room during the anthem. Teams with players who did not comply with the new policy would be subject to league fines, and teams could also hand out individual punishments. Those guidelines are on hold, however, as discussions between the NFL and the players’ union continue with the 2018 season set to start this Thursday.

HISTORY: Meet Solitude, the Great Warrior Woman of Guadeloupe who Fought Against French Troops in 1802 while Pregnant

Statue of Solitude of Guadeloupe

by Mildred Europa Taylor via face2faceafrica.com

“Live free or die” were Solitude’s last words when she was executed for her involvement in the 1802 slave rebellion in Guadeloupe.

Born in slavery in the plantations of Guadeloupe in 1772, Solitude’s father was a French sailor and her mother was an African woman who was reportedly raped during a voyage on the slave ship.

A beautiful woman with a brown skin and charming eyes which were of different colouration, Solitude was admired by many. When her mother fled the plantation where she was enslaved, Solitude was left all alone with her enslavers.

Slavery was abolished in 1794 in the French colonies due to the Haitian slave revolt. The French government took that move in order to avoid a generalized slave revolt in all its colonies.

But eight years after the abolition, Napoleon Bonaparte restored slavery in the French colonies and sent about 3,500 troops led by General Antoine Richepance to Guadeloupe to enforce that decree.

Solitude was freed in the first abolition of 1794, but after Napoleon’s decree, she was classified as a “maroon” and joined a group of freedom fighters that were led by men such as Louis Delgrès, Ignace, Paleme and Jacquet.

They organized as a small army and fought against the French troops. On May 10, 1802, Delgrès launched a proclamation entitled “To the whole universe, the last cry of innocence and despair”.

Solitude, though a few months pregnant, joined this fight against Richepance’s troops. She was said to be a fierce and fearless warrior who “pushed herself and her belly into the heart of the battles” at Dole, Trou-aux-chiens, Fond-Bananier, and Capesterre.

“From victory to victory, and then from setback to setback, she pushed herself and her womb all the way up into the mountains before the final defeat,” according to accounts. After eighteen days of combat, Richepance’s side overpowered the rebels and Delgrès and his comrades died in an explosion.

Solitude got injured in the explosion and was captured and sentenced to death. But since the child in her womb was to become the property of her slave owner, she was temporarily pardoned and her execution was rescheduled to the day after the birth.

She gave birth on November 28, 1802, and on the morning of the following day, the greatest heroine of the revolution, who was now 30 years, stepped out of jail peacefully while, according to accounts, maternity’s milk slowly stained her nightshirt.

She was then executed with no one knowing the whereabouts of her child.

Solitude has since been described as the symbol of Caribbean women who fought to protect the ideals of equality and freedom. Her name is still on the lips of many, and now graces squares and avenues in Guadeloupe. According to accounts, she has also been featured in a poem, a song, a library, and a museum room.

A statue honouring Solitude was erected in 1999 in the community called les Abymes (Guadeloupe).

Source: https://face2faceafrica.com/article/meet-the-great-warrior-woman-of-guadeloupe-who-fought-against-french-troops-in-1802-while-pregnant

Civil Rights Activist Rev. James Lawson Honored with New Scholarship at Vanderbilt University

Rev. James Lawson (l) and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (photo via ocregister.com)

via jbhe.com

A new scholarship fund has been established at Vanderbilt University to honor James M. Lawson Jr., a leading figure in the civil rights movement and an associate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The new scholarship was made possible by a gift from Doug Parker, an alumnus of the Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt, the CEO of American Airlines, and a new trustee of the university, and his wife Gwen.

The new scholarships will be given to students from underrepresented groups who have shown a commitment to civil rights and social justice.

Lawson, enrolled at the Vanderbilt Divinity School in 1958. While a student he helped organize sit-ins at lunch counters in downtown Nashville. In 1960, he was expelled from the university for his participation in civil rights protests.

Lawson completed his divinity studies at Boston University and then served as director of nonviolent education for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. From 1974 to 1999, Rev. Lawson was the pastor of the Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles.

Lawson returned to Vanderbilt as a distinguished visiting professor form 2006 to 2009. An endowed chair at the Divinity School was named in his honor in 2007.

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/07/new-scholarship-at-vanderbilt-university-honors-rev-james-lawson/

Congressman John Lewis Inspires #FamiliesBelongTogether Crowd: ‘It’s Time for Some of Us to Get in Good Trouble’

Congressman John Lewis at Families Belong Together rally (photo via nbcnews.com)

by Kia Morgan-Smith via thegrio.com

You can always count on Civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis to be fired up and ready to fight the good fight and he’s stepping up to the frontlines of the immigration debate.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered nationwide over the weekend to  share their determination to fight the Trump administrations heartless decision to separate families seeking asylum.

They demanded the government quickly reunite families, their calls repeated from Washington to Los Angeles, to Chicago, Atlanta, Milwaukee, San Francisco and beyond.
According to CNN, protesters also marched by the White House in Washington and the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue. They reportedly yelled, “shame, shame, shame” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald trump has got to go.”
And in Atlanta, John Lewis was ready to inspire protestors with a message honed over the years he marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and others.

“Look, you know, I’ve been talking for some time and getting in trouble. It’s time for some of us to get in good trouble, necessary trouble,” the venerable Democrat told the crowd at the Families Belong Together rally in Atlanta.

“In the final analysis, we may have to turn America upside down to set it right side up, but whatever we do, do it in an orderly, peaceful and nonviolent fashion,” he said.

Lewis shared the sentiments of Rep. Maxine Waters who has energized her base with fiery speeches calling for disgruntled Americans to confront Trump administration officials after migrant children were snatched and separated from their mothers because of Trump’s harsh immigration policies.

Lewis also wrote a letter in June criticizing Trump’s immigration policy and calling it a “shame, a disgrace and an outrage.”

John Lewis urged the crowd to stay passionate, but peaceful. “Never, ever, ever hate.”

Source: https://thegrio.com/2018/07/02/congressman-john-lewis-inspires-immigration-crowd-its-time-for-some-of-us-to-get-in-good-trouble/

Activist and Educator Angela Davis’ Papers Acquired by Harvard University’s Schlesinger Library (VIDEO)

Detail photos show materials from the papers of Angela Davis that are now housed at the Schlesinger Library. (Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer)

by Colleen Walsh via news.harvard.edu

For almost 60 years Angela Davis has been for many an iconic face of feminism and counterculture activism in America. Now her life in letters and images will be housed at Harvard University.

Radcliffe College‘s Schlesinger Library has acquired Davis’ archive, a trove of documents, letters, papers, photos, and more that trace her evolution as an activist, author, educator, and scholar. The papers were secured with support from Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research.

The FBI wanted poster for Davis (Courtesy Schlesinger Library)

“My papers reflect 50 years of involvement in activist and scholarly collaborations seeking to expand the reach of justice in the world,” Davis said in a statement. “I am very happy that at the Schlesinger Library they will join those of June Jordan, Patricia Williams, Pat Parker, and so many other women who have been advocates of social transformation.”

Jane Kamensky, Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library, sees the collection yielding “prize-winning books for decades as people reckon with this legacy and put [Davis] in conversation with other collections here and elsewhere.”

When looking for new material, Kamensky said the library seeks collections “that will change the way that fields know what they know,” adding that she expects the Davis archive to inspire and inform scholars across a range of disciplines.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. said that he’s followed Davis’ life and work ever since spotting a “Free Angela” poster on the wall at his Yale dorm. Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher Jr. University Professor, has worked to increase the archival presence of African-Americans who have made major contributions to U.S. society, politics, and culture. He called the Davis papers “a marvelous coup for Harvard.”

“She’s of enormous importance to the history of political thought and political activism of left-wing or progressive politics and the history of race and gender in the United States since the mid-’60s,” said Gates, who directs the Hutchins Center. “No one has a more important role, and now scholars will be able to study the arc of her thinking, the way it evolved and its depth, by having access to her papers.”

The acquisition is in keeping with the library’s efforts to ensure its collections represent a broad range of life experiences. In 2013 and 2014 an internal committee developed a diverse wish list, “and a foundational thinker and activist like Angela Davis was very naturally at the top,” said Kamensky.

Kenvi Phillips, hired as the library’s first curator for race and ethnicity in 2016, met with Davis in Oakland last year to collect the papers with help from two archivists. Together they packed 151 boxes of material gathered from a storage site, an office, and Davis’ home. Continue reading “Activist and Educator Angela Davis’ Papers Acquired by Harvard University’s Schlesinger Library (VIDEO)”

March in Memphis to Honor Martin Luther King Jr. on 50th Anniversary of his Death

People hold signs resembling the signs carried by striking sanitation workers in 1968 as they join in events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (photo via eurweb.com)

by Errin Haines Whack, Adrian Sainz & Kate Brumback, Associated Press via blackamericaweb.com

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. remembered him as “the apostle of nonviolence” as admirers marked the 50th anniversary of his assassination Wednesday with marches, speeches and quiet reflection.

The Rev. Bernice A. King recalled her father as a civil rights leader and great orator whose message of peaceful protest was still vital decades later. “We decided to start this day remembering the apostle of nonviolence,” she said during a ceremony to award the Martin Luther King Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize held at the King Center in Atlanta.

In Memphis, where King died, hundreds of people bundled in hats and coats gathered early in for a march led by the same sanitation workers union whose low pay King had come to protest when he was shot.

Dixie Spencer, president of the Bolivar Hardeman County, Tennessee, branch of the NAACP, said remembrances of King’s death should be a call to action. “We know what he worked hard for, we know what he died for, so we just want to keep the dream going,” Spencer said. “We just want to make sure that we don’t lose the gains that we have made.”

The Memphis events were scheduled to feature King’s contemporaries, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, along with celebrities such as the rapper Common. In the evening, the Atlanta events culminate with a bell-ringing and wreath-laying at his crypt to mark the moment when he was gunned down on the balcony of the old Lorraine Motel on April 4, 1968. He was 39.

Wednesday’s events followed a rousing celebration the night before of King’s “I’ve Been To the Mountaintop” speech at Memphis’ Mason Temple Church of God in Christ. He delivered this speech the night before he was assassinated.

Inside the church, Bernice King called her older brother, Martin Luther King III, to join her in the pulpit, and she discussed the difficulty of publicly mourning their father — a man hated during his lifetime, now beloved around the world.

“It’s important to see two of the children who lost their daddy 50 years ago to an assassin’s bullet,” said Bernice King, now 55. “But we kept going. Keep all of us in prayer as we continue the grieving process for a parent that we’ve had yet to bury.”

A gospel singer led a rousing rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and the gathering took on the air of a mass meeting.

Lee Saunders, a national labor leader, recounted how on that night in 1968, King made an unplanned appearance to deliver the famous speech without notes after his aides saw how passionate the crowd was: “There was one man they wanted to hear from.”

But Saunders stressed that the purpose of the week’s commemorations was not just to look to the past.

“Dr. King’s work — our work — isn’t done. We must still struggle; we must still sacrifice. We must still educate and organize and mobilize. That’s why we’re here in Memphis. Not just to honor our history, but to seize our future,” he said.

Some of the sanitation workers who participated with King in a 1968 strike sat in the front row and were treated like celebrities, with audience members stopping to take photos with them before the event started.

To read more: https://blackamericaweb.com/2018/04/04/many-march-in-honor-of-martin-luther-king-jr-s-death/

Matt Barnes Launches Scholarship Fund For Stephon Clark’s Sons

Matt Barnes (image via huffingtonpost.com)

by Jenna Amatulli via huffingtonpost.com

Ex-NBA player Matt Barnes announced that he will be launching a scholarship fund for Stephon Clark’s two sons to ensure that they can afford to go to college.

Barnes, whose lengthy basketball career included stints with the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors, made an impassioned speech at a rally in Sacramento on Saturday while holding one of Clark’s children. He spoke about the fraught relationship between police officers and black America, and the need for reform.

“We fear what we don’t know. We don’t know these cops, so we fear them. They don’t know us, so they fear us,” Barnes said. “When you get out and know someone on a first-name basis, when you are called to the situation, next time you may be able to defuse the situation.”

Clark, 22, was killed on March 18 when Sacramento police officers shot him eight times in his grandparents’ backyard. The two officers, responding to reports of car break-ins in the neighborhood, said they believed Clark to be armed, though he was found with only his cellphone in hand.

Since Clark’s death, protests have roiled Sacramento and led to yet another uprising by a community imploring the government to do more in investigating deadly police shootings and prevent them.

Saturday’s march was organized by the Sacramento Black Lives Matter chapter. Barnes was involved in the rally because he heard of Clark’s death from one of his two 9-year-old sons. The child apparently asked his father if police were “bad” for what they did to Clark.

“I had to pause for a second because the emotion of me wanted to say yes, but at the same time cops aren’t bad, one cop doesn’t make every one bad,” Barnes said.

“But one black man doesn’t make everybody guilty. It’s more than color. It comes down to wrong and right.”

Barnes said of his sones, “I fear for them. I fear for the streets and now I’ve got to fear for the cops. How do we explain to our kids that because of the color of your skin people aren’t going to like you? That’s not fair, but that’s what we have to explain to our kids every day.”

He added: “This isn’t a Sacramento problem, this is a nationwide problem.”

Source: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/matt-barnes-launches-scholarship-fund-for-stephon-clarks-sons_us_5ac23676e4b0a47437ac86ea

Sacramento Kings Teaming Up with BLM and Local Group in Response to Stephon Clark Tragedy

(photo via washingtonexaminer.com)

by Jazzi Johnson via thegrio.com

A week after pledging to be a vocal player in awareness efforts surrounding the police shooting death of Stephon Clark, the Sacramento Kings announced they are teaming upwith Black Lives Matter and local activist organization Build. Black. Coalition to respond to activist demand for support for the community and the grass roots.

The new initiative aims “to support the education of young people and to provide the workforce preparation and economic development efforts” according to a statement from the Kings. The multi-year project is intended at spurring “deep investment” into the Sacramento community, beginning with an education fund for Clark’s children.

Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg praised the team’s efforts in a statement: “It is clear to me and I know the Kings that there remains a huge gulf between the exciting Sacramento renaissance and the daily struggles experienced by so many in our communities, especially communities of color.

“The Kings actions are a real step towards addressing those underlying issues and connecting the excitement and vitality in downtown to our neighborhoods, which is exactly what motivated me to run for mayor,” Steinberg said.

The Kings will also co-sponsor a forum to hear community voices on the shooting incident Friday night called “Kings and Queens Rise: A Youth Voice Forum for Healing.”

Response from owner

Last week, Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé made a public statement about Stephon Clark’s death following protests that blocked game attendees from entering their Golden 1 Center stadium space.

He vowed that the NBA franchise would not be acting as if business is usual and “are going to work really hard to bring everybody together to make the world a better place, starting with our own community,” he said. “[We’re] going to work really hard to prevent this kind of a tragedy from happening again.” 

Just three days later, the Kings’ themselves, sported T-shirts on the court that called for “accountability” by the police department and memorialized Clark’s name. Additionally, players from the Kings and their opponents that day, the Boston Celtics, joined together in a PSA about the tragedies of police violence.

READ MORE: Sacramento BLM activist vows to fight back for Stephon Clark

 “These tragedies have to stop,” “There must be accountability,” “We will not stick to sports,” and “We will not shut up and dribble,” were a few of the sentiments expressed.

Flames fanned

Tensions in Sacramento continue to rise as protests for justice in the death of Stephon Clark increase citywide and nationally. California’s Department of Justice is conducting an independent investigation, and civil rights attorney Ben Crump is now representing the family, but the frustrations of African Americans in the city continue to simmer.

On Tuesday, Stephon’s brother Stevante Clark appeared at the specially-convened City Council meeting and loudly voiced his love for his brother and fellow protesters, as well as his criticism of to the mayor — whom he boldly faced within an inch of separation — and the media’s coverage.

A funeral for Clark was held Thursday. Clark, a Muslim, was set to be honored with a ghusl or Islamic ritual washing by revered Imam Omar Suleiman, but clerics were not able to perform the task because of the way the 20 bullets wounds he received mangled his body. 

Imam Omar Suleiman expressed frustration over the inability to perform the ritual on Twitter.

Meanwhile, California attorney general Xavier Becerra announced Tuesday that he was joining the investigation into Clark’s death. His office will oversee the probe and review the Sacramento Police Department’s policies and use of force training, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Source: https://thegrio.com/2018/03/30/sacramento-kings-stephon-clark-community/

#MeToo Founder Tarana Burke to Publish Memoir “Where The Light Enters” via Simon & Schuster

National CARES Mentoring Movement's Third Annual For The Love Of Our Children Gala
Tarana Burke attends the National CARES Mentoring Movement’s third annual For The Love Of Our Children Gala on January 29, 2018 in New York City. (Photo: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)

by Sameer Rao via colorlines.com

Tarana Burke first launched the #MeToo campaign in 2007 to build solidarity and healing power among Black girls and women who survived sexual assault. Nearly 11 years later, the organizer and activist will chronicle her and the movement’s journey in a memoir.

The Associated Press (The AP) reported today (February 2) that Burke is working with writer and fellow activist asha bandele on the upcoming book, titled “Where the Light Enters.” Simon & Schuster will publish it next year through 37 Ink, its imprint that previously released books by Issa Rae and Dr. Willie Parker.

Burke told The AP that the memoir will address her own “ordinary, extraordinary journey from victim to survivor to thriver,” as well as the evolution of the movement.

“The book will also help readers understand the often overlooked historical connections of the role sexual violence plays in communities of color, specifically Black communities, even today, while exploring ways the same communities have been both complicit and resilient,” Burke added. “More than anything, this memoir will provide survivors across the spectrum of sexual abuse a road map for healing that helps them understand that the ‘me too’ movement is more about triumph than trauma, and that our wounds, though they may never fully heal, can also be the key to our survival.”

via #MeToo Founder Tarana Burke Writes Memoir, ‘Where the Light Enters’ | Colorlines