Monday, April 28, 2008

Sis. Cynthia McKinney Speaks Out On Sean Bell Verdict...

Sean Bell, his fiancee Nicole Paultre, and their daughter

Cynthia McKinney
Statement on the Sean Bell Verdict
April 26, 2008

"[T]he legislation and histories of the time, and the language used in the Declaration of Independence, show, that neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves, nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people, nor intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument. . . . [A]ltogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect."

And with that, the United States Supreme Court ensured that the 20th Century would be defined, as W.E.B. DuBois wrote, by the color line. So, while we might be outraged at the Sean Bell decision itself, it comes directly from the flawed jurisprudence that gave us the Dred Scott Decision in 1857, Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, Bakke in 1978, Croson in 1989, Adarand in 1995, Gratz in 2003, and all of the Ward Connerly-inspired attacks on the very same affirmative action hard won by students facing water hoses and dogs; men and women facing jail, lynch mobs, and death.

Interestingly, according to Attorney Roger Wareham of the December 12th Movement's International Secretariat, the criminal justice system in this country "always finds a rationale for letting off cops who kill black and brown people." Indeed, police officers seem to know that they can kill certain people with impunity.

Just in New York City alone, Wareham rattles off the murders that have defined police-"communities of color" relations over two generations:

Clifford Glover, 1972
Louis Baez, 1978 shot (22 times)
Randolph Evans, 1979
Eleanor Bumpers, 1985 (a grandmother)
Amadou Diallo, 1999
Patrick Dorismond, 2003
Sean Bell, 2006

Sadly, New York City isn't the only city, with this plague. In 2001, the Dayton Daily News reported that Cincinnati topped the list of police killings of Blacks, having had 22 people shot, 13 fatally. All black men. Three unarmed. Plus two additional deaths due to police use of chemical irritants.

The 2001 "Cincinnati Intifada" lasted for three nights after a white police officer murdered an unarmed black teenager. Timothy Thomas was the fifteenth black male killed by Cincinnati police over a six-year period. I traveled with Ron Daniels and others to Cincinnati to support the call by black residents, including Reverend Damon Lynch III and 36 other ministers, for a boycott of that city. Still reeling from the effects of the boycott, Cincinnati made headlines again in 2003 when the world watched as one black and five white police officers repeatedly beat Nathaniel Jones with batons and then left him in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant, only to be pronounced dead later at the hospital.

The "Benton Harbor, Michigan Intifada of 2003" lasted two nights after the murder of an unarmed black motorcyclist by white police officers. Adding insult to injury, the residents of majority-black Benton Harbor are reeling under an attempted takeover of the last "undeveloped" beachfront property on Lake Michigan. The residents are under attack by the Whirlpool Corporation, that wants to develop "Benton Shores" and move all of the residents completely out of the town. The purported goal of the development is to turn Benton Harbor into one of the "hottest vacation destinations in the country," to include a members-only indoor water park, and a Jack Nicklaus golf course. According to Reverend Edward Pinkney, the valiant leader who is trying to save Benton Harbor for the people, Harbor Shores will result in a complete takeover of Benton Harbor, a city that is 96% Black. Reverend Pinkney has been in jail since December 14, 2007 on trumped- up charges including violation of probation, for writing an article calling the chief judge racist. Mrs. Pinkney called the Office of Michigan Congressman John Conyers, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee to ask for justice for the residents of Benton Harbor and for her husband. Shockingly, Chairman Conyers refused Mrs. Pinkney's plea to get involved in this heroic struggle of a 96% Black community in his own state. When I visited Benton Harbor, it was clear to me that Reverend Pinkney has the full support of the area's residents, black and white, as they struggle to maintain the character of their community. Reverend Pinkney is recognized by the people as true hero and occupies a jail cell because of it.

Finally, however, someone broke the silence and admitted it. Former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper wrote in his book, "Breaking Rank," that white police officers are afraid of Black men. He develops this theory in a chapter of the book entitled, "Why White Cops Kill Black Men." Finally: a hint of truth coming from the other side. In a June 16, 2005 interview with the Looking Glass News, Stamper says that he personally believes "that white cops are scared of black men. The bigger or darker the man, the more frightened the white cop. I can't shake that; it's a belief I will take to the grave."

So while the corporate press would have us believe that reporting on what a former Vice Presidential nominee says about a Presidential candidate is a discussion of race, the prospects are that black and brown men and women will continue to be murdered by police officers who, fundamentally, seem scared of black people. That fear apparently extends to the larger community because juries construct ways to let murderous police officers escape just punishment.

Roger Wareham, and the December 12th Movement International Secretariat raise, inside the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, the details of the type of police abuse in which a 92-year old grandmother, Kathryn Johnston, is murdered by police in Atlanta, Georgia and her family still has not seen justice or been made whole. Or where a young black male, also in Atlanta, can be sitting in his mother's car and is murdered because the police presume that the car is stolen.

The December 12th Movement has asked for United Nations Rapporteurs to come to the U.S. on fact-finding missions so that the U.S. can finally be listed as a major human rights abuser and a Rapporteur assigned to this country. Already, the Special Rapporteur on Racism and Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance is coming to the U.S. from May 18 - June 6 and will be in New York City on May 21st and 22nd. The December 12th Movement is scheduled to have a hearing for him at the Schomberg Center where the issue of police killings will be raised. The Rapporteur is also scheduled to visit DC, Chicago, Omaha, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Miami, and San Juan.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Summary and Arbitrary Executions, Mr. Phillip Alston, is conducting a Mission to the U.S. in June. The Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is also interested in reports of police abuse. If a consistent and systemic pattern of abuse exists (which it clearly does in the United States), the United Nations General Assembly can pass a resolution which helps creates international public opinion and perhaps the political will to stop it.

Certainly, doing the same thing--a cycle of protest without punishment--will net the same results. Something different must be done. That's why I authored legislation to deny federal funds and the use of federal equipment to any law enforcement unit found to have violated the civil rights of the people it is organized to protect and serve. Imagine if we had the laws on the books and the apparatus of enforcement. Imagine if juries wouldn't grant impunity to killer cops.

Some of you have written to me suggesting that we do something different: perhaps a full-scale boycott. Perhaps a full-scale, all-out political response--something many in this generation have never done before.

Bobby Kennedy always said, "Some men dream of things that are and say why. I dream of things that never were and say why not."

It is not impossible for us to have justice. We don't have to lose any more people to police abuse, brutality, or murder. But, in order to change things, we're going to have to do some things we've never done before in order to have some things we've never had before.

Are you willing to entertain that idea? Today? Right now? If we demand more of our elected representatives, I'm convinced we will get it. And it should be clear exactly what is needed if we don't get what we demand.

To read more of my writings, please visit

Please Support Sis. Cynthia McKinney's Run For The Whitehouse By Visiting Her Official Campaign Website

Listen To Sis. Cynthia McKinney Give A Full Report On What's Happening In Mexico & The World On W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News & Radio Special: The State Of Black America 2008 Part 2 (Her Interview Is In The First 53 Minutes Of The Show):

Listen To U.S. Presidential Hopeful Cynthia McKinney's Interview On W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News & Radio~1-13-08

Show (Her Interview Is In The 2nd Full Hour Of Show Segment):


Why Is Benedict Right And Wright Wrong?

Trinity United Church of Christ/Religion News Service
In Chicago, Mr. Obama embraced Christianity under the tutelage of the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., known for sometimes inflammatory views.

Pope Benedict XVI

Two weeks ago, Pope Benedict XVI made a historic visit to the U.S.A….Many felt that this was a major turning point in public relations for a Pope who is noted as being a strict disciplinarian and was nicknamed "TheRottweiler " during his days as a cardinal in the Vatican…Now the Infallible One can seem to do no wrong and has proven to be just as media savvy if not universally as beloved as his predecessor Pope John Paul II…

And taken a cue from Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI has shown that he has a soft spot for those in pain and suffering because of the effects and imperfections of an all too human institution: The Catholic Church in particular and organized religion in general…Just as Pope John Paul II apologized for The Catholic Church’s involvement in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade & lack of intervention in the Jewish Holocaust, Pope Benedict XVI went out of his way to apologize and meet with several people who had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests…He also went to a synagogue in NYC which further symbolized The Church’s Solidarity with Judaism…That took courage and fortitude as well considering that the German Pope was a former Hitler Youth member while the Rabbi who welcomed the Pope to the synagogue was a Holocaust survivor…Regardless of his personal connection to this horrible chapter in human history, The Pope was still welcomed by NY’s large Jewish population with forgiving open arms…

All in all, in spite of the historic and recent problems of this most powerful of institutions, The Catholic Church proven that its brand is resilient and stronger than ever, a good sign in seemingly forever controversial and gloomy times…

The Verdict Is In: America Loves The Pope

It’s very sad indeed that America can embrace a Pope who is a moral leader and who represents an institution that tries to stand on the principle of moral clarity yet still finds itself muddled and mired in the flaws and contradictions of the human condition and all the while America can not make room in its emotionally obese heart for love and forgiveness for one of her own prophets, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright…Rev. Wright did nothing but tell like it is and called it like it was for nearly 40 years of ministry…Rev. Wright was an activist or change agent in the truest sense of the Prophetic Tradition…He justdidn ’t lead from the pulpit, but he mixed his rhetoric and spirituality with his actions to form a Molotov cocktail for social justice through his innovative if at times misunderstood Chicago-based ministry…

Rev. Wright had the audacity of hope to invest in a community that was ravaged and decimated by institutional racism, communal, spiritual and historical despair…His ministry represents the rose that grew from concrete, blossoming in a place that received the less sunshine and was the most malnourished….
His congregation even produced a Presidential candidate whose historic bid in a nation where the acknowledged original sin was the enslavement of African people seemed so impossible or like a fairy tale until of course recently…

And so to have all of these good and noted works diminished by 15-30 second sound bites taken out of context seems to show that America still has a problem in exploring all the complexities and shortcomings of her national character…Yet instead of analyzing the message, America has in the traditions of Empires/ Superpowers past and present tried to destroy the messenger whose only fault is that the messenger cannot refuse, reject and denounce The Truth…

Jeremiah Wright (second from right), in 1966, as a U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman. He is tending to President Lyndon Johnson, for which he was commended (see letter superimposed on photo).

It is truly ironic that a man who served as a proud U.S. Marine and then as a proud U.S. Navy man (actually volunteered and left college to do so unlike Dick "5 Deferments" Cheney and George W. "Missing In Action" Bush), who was a personal medical assistant to U.S. Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson (receiving three letters of commendation from the grateful Pres. Johnson) and who was called by then Pres. Bill Clinton to theWhitehouse in 1998 to provide spiritual counseling and comfort to the President during the Ken Starr Inquisition could ever be accused of being unpatriotic…

Jeremiah Wright (center left), in 1998, greeting President Bill Clinton during a prayer breakfast at the White House.

It is also confusing and sad that the Honorable Rev. Wright could be called a racist by many, but yet his ministry is part of a predominantly White denomination, The United Church of Christ, that cites Rev. Wright’s ministry as a shining light…As a matter of fact United Church of Christ considers Rev. Wright’s Trinity United Church to be a great gift to ‘wider church family’…

I also would suggest people to read the letter put out by Rev. Wright’s denomination in defense of Rev. Wright & Trinity United Church of Christ:

I wish people would actually study the last 4 years of Dr. King’s life…The Black Church on a whole was not opened to King’s radical message of love and change…His famous Letter From A Birmingham Jail was addressed to Black clergy(the moral leaders of the Black community) in particular…During the Montgomery Bus Boycotts, Dr. King’s father was told by powerful members of the Black Baptist preachers fraternity to go to Montgomery and bring his rebel rouser son back to Atlanta to keep him quiet…In 1967, Dr. King was dis-invited from the Whitehouse for his outspokenness against the Vietnam War, he went from being the Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Time Man of the Year in 1964 to being labeled by the AP Gallop Polls as being one of the ten least liked Americans…There were pulpits in the Black Church that Dr. King wasn’t allowed to speak from…Rev. Wright has nothing on Dr. King when it came to the rhetoric condemning the antics, tactics and character of the good ole U.S. of A. which Dr. King called "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today" ...Dr. King, not one to chide away from controversy or the truth, also stated "America was founded on genocide, and a nation that is founded on genocide is destructive"Dr. King also went on to state that "a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death"...He also accused the majority of White America as being racist and was very wary of liberals, both Black & White , who advocated charity over justice, moderation over expediency, and waiting over perseverance…Dr. King also endorsed the redistribution of wealth and reparations for African Americans descended from enslaved Africans…

40 years later people forget or rather choose to not remember just how unpopular doing the right thing remains today…Jesus was killed for telling and living the truth and so was Dr. King…Today instead of killing the flesh they are trying to kill the character and spirit of Rev. Wright…However, if history is any indicator, Rev. Wright will be resurrected and vindicated with his message in tact…

Living in a world of no snitching and prosperity preaching, people have forgotten or choose not to remember what it feels like to really struggle for something that is righteous and just…Just like the days of old where Jesus would chase the money changers out of the temples and turn over the gaming tables…Unfortunately, today like it was in Jesus’ time, evil men prosper when good men do nothing still rings painfully true…Considering what’s going on in the world today we need silver tongued Prophets like Rev. Wright to keep many of us honest, cognizant and on the right path…

Malcolm once said that the media has the power to make your enemy your friend and your friend your enemy…Many of our most celebrated institutions were built out of sin…The United States, The Vatican and yes even The Black Church…

They say that the most segregated time in America is Sunday morning…The reason for that could be traced back to the fact that White Christians did not allow their Black congregants including Richard Allen and Absalom Jones to be seated in St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church in the ‘City of Brotherly Love’ and Birthplace of the American Constitution and Declaration of Independence, Philadelphia…Philadelphia by the way is also the birth place of Rev. Jeremiah Wright...So the Black members led by Allen and Jones staged a walkout and form the influential A.M.E. (African Methodist Episcopal) Church…

It’s time for America to start embracing her better angels and to reject and denounce her demon spawns…
We have a choice to make…Like Dr. King said “WE CAN LIVE TOGETHER AS BROTHERS OR PERISH TOGETHER AS FOOLS”…If we choose the latter then like the literary prophet James Baldwin (a minister himself) wrote “the fire next time”

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News & Radio Special: Black Liberation Theology 101:

The Rev. Wright Controversy Told Through Video Media:

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News & Radio Special: Barack Obama & The Hip Hop Effect On American Politics:

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News & Radio Special~Eyewitness To The Crucifixion: The Last Days Of MLK:

Friday, April 25, 2008

No Justice For Sean Bell...Here Are Two Versions Of The Same Old Sh...

Tha Artivist Says: This Is Just Another Chapter In The Sad Commentary On The Just Us System...I hope that we as Americans in general and African Americans in particular began to realize what's going on before it's too late...We are living in a police state with a prison (read slave) mentality...We are 5% of the world's population but yet represent 25% of the world's prison population, the most anywhere on the planet...Almost one million of America's 2 million prisoners are Black...We are failing our kids in school, church and in the home...The dehumanization, genocide and fratricide of Black people must come to a halt immediately...Sean Bell died really because of the disregard for Black life in our society...We all play a part whether passively or actively in allowing brothers like Bell to perish without a rhyme or reason, so we now must all play a part in insuring that we will never forget and that this will never be a recurring theme again in our society...Find a way to justify the means to justify the ends...

Sean Bell's parents, William and Valerie Bell, leave the courthouse after the verdict was read.

Detectives Michael Oliver, left, Gescard Isnora and Marc Cooper were accused in the 50-bullet barrage.

3 NYPD Detectives Acquitted In 50-Shot Killing

Sean Bell, his fiancee Nicole Paultre, and their daughter

By TOM HAYS, Associated Press

Three detectives were acquitted of all charges Friday in the 50-shot killing of an unarmed groom-to-be on his wedding day, a case that put the NYPD at the center of another dispute involving allegations of excessive firepower.

Scores of police officers surrounded the courthouse to guard against potential chaos, and as news of the verdict spread, many in the crowd began weeping. Others were enraged, swearing and screaming "Murderers! Murderers!" or "KKK!"

Inside the courtroom, spectators gasped. Sean Bell's fiancee immediately walked out of the room; his mother cried.

Bell, a 23-year-old black man, was killed in a hail of gunfire outside a seedy strip club in Queens on Nov. 25, 2006 as he was leaving his bachelor party with two friends. The case ignited the emotions of people across the city and led to widespread protests among those who felt the officers used unnecessary force.

Officers Michael Oliver, 36, and Gescard Isnora, 29, stood trial for manslaughter while Officer Marc Cooper, 40, was charged with reckless endangerment. Two other shooters weren't charged. Oliver squeezed off 31 shots; Isnora fired 11 rounds; and Cooper shot four times.

The case brought back painful memories of other NYPD shootings, such as the 1999 shooting of Amadou Diallo — an African immigrant who was gunned down in a hail of 41 bullets by police officers who mistook his wallet for a gun. The acquittal of the officers in that case created a storm of protest, with hundreds arrested after taking to the streets in demonstration.

Though emotions ran high, there were no immediate problems outside the courthouse Friday, where many wore buttons with Bell's picture or held signs saying "Justice for Sean Bell." Some people approached police after the verdict was read, but they were held back and the jostling died down quickly.

William Hardgraves, 48, an electrician from Harlem, brought his 12-year-old son and 23-year-old daughter to hear the verdict. "It could have been my son, it could have been my daughter" shot like Bell that night, he said.

He didn't know what result he had expected.

"I hoped it would be different this time. They shot him 50 times," Hardgraves said. "But of course, it wasn't."

Justice Arthur Cooperman delivered the verdict in a packed Queens courtroom. The officers, complaining that pretrial publicity had unfairly painted them as cold-blooded killers, opted to have the judge decide the case rather than a jury.

Cooperman indicated that the police officers' version of events was more credible than the victims' version. "The people have not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that each defendant was not justified" in firing, he said.

The nearly two-month trial was marked by deeply divergent accounts of the night.

The defense painted the victims as drunken thugs who the officers believed were armed and dangerous. Prosecutors sought to convince the judge that the victims had been minding their own business, and that the officers were inept, trigger-happy aggressors.

None of the officers took the witness stand in his own defense. Instead, Cooperman heard transcripts of the officers testifying before a grand jury, saying they believed they had good reason to use deadly force. The judge also heard testimony from Bell's two injured companions, who insisted the maelstrom erupted without warning.

Both sides were consistent on one point: The utter chaos surrounding the last moments of Bell's life.

"It happened so quick," Isnora said in his grand jury testimony. "It was like the last thing I ever wanted to do."

Bell's companions — Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman — also offered dramatic testimony about the episode. Benefield and Guzman were both wounded; Guzman still has four bullets lodged in his body.

Referring to Isnora, Guzman said, "This dude is shooting like he's crazy, like he's out of his mind."

The victims and shooters were set on a fateful collision course by a pair of innocuous decisions: Bell's to have a last-minute bachelor party at Kalua Cabaret, and the undercover detectives' to investigate reports of prostitution at the club.

As the club closed around 4 a.m., Sanchez and Isnora claimed they overheard Bell and his friends first flirt with women, then taunt a stranger who responded by putting his right hand in his pocket as if he had a gun. Guzman, they testified, said, "Yo, go get my gun" — something Bell's friends denied.

Isnora said he decided to arm himself, call for backup — "It's getting hot," he told his supervisor — and tail Bell, Guzman and Benefield as they went around the corner and got into Bell's car. He claimed that after warning the men to halt, Bell pulled away, bumped him and rammed an unmarked police van that converged on the scene with Oliver at the wheel.

The detective also alleged that Guzman made a sudden move as if he were reaching for a gun.

"I yelled 'Gun!' and fired," he said. "In my mind, I knew (Guzman) had a gun."

Benefield and Guzman testified that there were no orders. Instead, Guzman said, Isnora "appeared out of nowhere" with a gun drawn and shot him in the shoulder — the first of 16 shots to enter his body.

"That's all there was — gunfire," he said. "There wasn't nothing else."

With tires screeching, glass breaking and bullets flying, the officers claimed that they believed they were the ones under fire. Oliver responded by emptying his semiautomatic pistol, reloading, and emptying it again, as the supervisor sought cover.

The truth emerged when the smoke cleared: There was no weapon inside Bell's blood-splattered car.

Police Not Guilty In Groom's Death

Sean Bell, his fiancee Nicole Paultre, and their daughter

* Story Highlights
* NEW: Case is tragic, but courts must be respected, New York mayor says
* NEW: NAACP official calls court 'bankrupt' as to justice for minorities
* Detectives acquitted of wrongdoing in Sean Bell shooting case
* Crowd angry but generally orderly; union chief praises verdict

From Deborah Feyerick

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A judge acquitted three New York Police Department detectives of all charges Friday morning in the shooting death of an unarmed man in a 50-bullet barrage, hours before he was to be married.

Detectives Michael Oliver and Gescard Isnora were found not guilty of charges of manslaughter, assault and reckless endangerment in the death of Sean Bell, 23, and the wounding of two of his friends.

Detective Marc Cooper was acquitted of reckless endangerment.

Justice Arthur Cooperman said he found problems with the prosecution's case. He said some prosecution witnesses contradicted themselves, and he cited prior convictions and incarcerations of witnesses.

He also cited the demeanor of some witnesses on the stand.

As the judge read his decision, Nicole Paultre Bell -- Sean Bell's fiancee before his death -- ran from the courtroom, saying, "I've got to get out of here."

The announcement immediately sparked anger among some in the crowd outside the courthouse, but the protests were generally orderly. VideoWatch the commotion outside the courthouse »

One woman shouted at a black police officer, "How can you be proud to wear that uniform? Stand down! Stop working for the masters!" Sean Bell was black.

Patrick Lynch, president of the New York Police Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said "there's no winners, there's no losers" in the case.

"We still have a death that occurred. We still have police officers that have to live with the fact that there was a death involved in their case," Lynch said.

But, he added, the verdict assured police officers that they will be treated fairly in New York's courts.

"This case was not about justice," said Leroy Gadsden, chair of the police/community relations committee of the Jamaica Branch NAACP. "This case was about the police having a right to be above the law. If the law was in effect here, if the judge had followed the law truly, these officers would have been found guilty. ...

"This court, unfortunately, is bankrupt when it comes to justice for people of color." VideoWatch Gadsden denounce the verdict »

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who has been advising Bell's fiancee and family, left the courthouse about an hour after the verdict without making a public statement. He had called for calm Wednesday.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a statement saying, "An innocent man lost his life, a bride lost her groom, two daughters lost their father, and a mother and a father lost their son. No verdict could ever end the grief that those who knew and loved Sean Bell suffer."

However, he said, the legal system must be respected.

"America is a nation of laws, and though not everyone will agree with the verdicts and opinions issued by the courts, we accept their authority."

Bloomberg also said he had spoken briefly with Paultre Bell on Wednesday and agreed with her on the need to ensure similar incidents would not occur in the future.

Bell, 23, was killed just before dawn on his wedding day, November 25, 2006. He and several friends were winding up an all-night bachelor party at the Kalua Club in Queens, a strip club that was under investigation by a NYPD undercover unit looking into complaints of guns, drugs and prostitution.

Undercover detectives were inside the club, and plainclothes officers were stationed outside.

Witnesses said that about 4 a.m., closing time, as Bell and his friends left the club, an argument broke out. Believing that one of Bell's friends, Joseph Guzman, was going to get a gun from Bell's car, one of the undercover detectives followed the men and called for backup.

What happened next was at the heart of the trial, prosecuted by the assistant district attorney in Queens.

Bell, Guzman and Trent Benefield got into the car, with Bell at the wheel. The detectives drew their weapons, said Guzman and Benefield, who testified that they never heard the plainclothes detectives identify themselves as police.

Bell was in a panic to get away from the armed men, his friends testified.

But the detectives thought Bell was trying to run down one of them, according to their lawyers, believed that their lives were in danger and started shooting.

In a frantic 911 call, police can be heard saying, "Shots fired. Undercover units involved."

A total of 50 bullets were fired by five NYPD officers. Only three were charged with crimes.

Oliver, who reloaded his semiautomatic in the middle of the fray, fired 31 times, Isnora fired 11 times, and Cooper, whose leg was brushed by Bell's moving car, fired four times, the NYPD said.

No gun was found near Bell or his friends.

Soon after his death, Bell's fiancee, Nicole Paultre, legally changed her name to Nicole Paultre Bell. She is raising the couple's two daughters, ages 5 and 1.

"I tell [them] that Daddy's in heaven now," she said. "He's watching over us. He's our guardian angel. He's going to be here to protect us and make sure nothing happens to us."

Detectives Endowment Association President Michael Palladino said forensic and scientific evidence presented during the seven-week trial contradicts the testimony of prosecution witnesses.

But Paultre Bell's father, Lester Paultre, said, "For those naysayers who say the police was doing their job, they should imagine their child in that car being shot by the police for no reason."

Paultre Bell, Guzman and Benefield have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in federal court that has been stayed pending the outcome of the criminal trial. Guzman was shot 16 times, and four bullets, too dangerous to remove, remain in his body, according to his lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein.

Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York have been monitoring the trial. In the event of an acquittal, it is likely authorities would conduct a review to determine whether there were any civil rights violations.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

From Sis. Cynthia McKinney: More News From The Mexico City Encuentro...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Thank you for the wonderful feedback on my reports from Mexico City and the Second Continental Workers' Conference. As I mentioned, eight countries were represented and a united front now exists in Mexico against the NAFTA-inspired privatizations that will result in the theft of Mexico's patrimony in natural resources. The Mexican Congress, due to adjourn on April 30, is all but shut down by the real opposition that they have in Mexico. Bush even looked impotent as he stood in New Orleans with Cardenas (el spurio), Mexico's "President" who didn't deliver. The PEMEX Privatization bill was supposed to have passed by now. Mexico's Congress will adjourn without passing it. Score one for the people. When the people stand up, the people can win. But when we fail or fear to stand up, we are assured of losing.

In Mexico City, my dear friend, David Josué, stood up, and in so doing, won a victory for those of us who identify with the struggle of the Haitian people. David simply wrote and read a letter to Lula, who has agreed to occupy Haiti for what some speculate might be a chance to get a seat on the Security Council of the United Nations. David's letter was so moving that the Brazilian delegation and the entire Encuentro had to respond. The letter was moving because it was true. And everyone in that room, so full of suffering as they were, knew that no suffering at the Encuentro was any greater than that of the Haitian people--to whom many in the Americas owe their cloak of freedom.

The letter was read at the Encuentro. And then, the letter was read directly to Lula by one of the Brazilian Parliament members who is a member of Lula's Party. And now, Lula is planning a visit to Haiti. Sadly, according to Lula's statement in the press, Lula's visit has nothing to do with the murders and atrocities the Brazilians have committed while occupying Haiti, but instead, he is going there because of "Haitian poverty." We have all seen the images of the Haitians desperate for food, but Lula was one of the first leaders to endorse ethanol--which displaces land used to grow food for land exploited for guzzling energy. Even Fidel Castro castigated Lula publicly for that decision. Here's what Castro said:

"You now have the two things: safe supplies of fuel, raw food materials and manufactured food products.
The end of cheap food has already been announced. I ask him, What do you think will do the dozens of countries with many hundreds of millions of inhabitants who have neither the one nor the other? . . . Meanwhile, we [Cubans] have been creating and we should keep on creating reserves of foods and fuel. . . . " And finally, Castro describes as macabre the "idea of turning foodstuffs into fuels for leisure and luxury."

Last month, Breitbart reported that Bill Clinton and other "high-profile financial players" are at the center of a brewing scandal in Brazil over the "'degrading' living conditions for 133 sugarcane workers employed by an ethanol company whose investors include former President Clinton."

I hope Lula's visit to Haiti will also focus on the conduct of his troops who are responsible for more death and mayhem than is described in David's letter. I'd like to hear Lula forthrightly say something about the deaths caused by his soldiers and his decision to occupy Haiti as he intones his concern for Haiti's poverty. I hope he's concerned about both. Brazil, under Lula's leadership, is supposed to be Haiti's friend; Lula can personally keep it that way--or he can let the killings continue. The choice is his.

At any rate, here's the letter in English and then the Parliamentary debate in Portuguese. The Encuentro passed a resolution to directly address the occupation of Haiti and the treatment of Haitians by the Brazilian-led UN forces.

The letter in English:

David Josue

Segundo Encuentro
Mexico City

April 5, 2008

I want to thank the organizers of this important Segundo Encuentro for providing me an opportunity to address this body and to put the issue of Brazilian conduct in Haiti on the table for discussion.

My comments are directed at President de Silva and I ask the delegates here from Brazil to please relay my concerns to the government in Brasilia.

President Lula da Silva:

Something untoward is going on with your soldiers in Haiti. Brazilian soldiers are conducting terrifying raids on residents of poor and defenseless communities throughout Haiti, leaving in their wake a trail of blood, tears, and death.

The buck stops with you, President da Silva. You are their commander in chief.

What your soldiers are doing to the innocent people of Haiti is worse than what the armed forces of Haiti were accused of doing.

No one will attempt to mitigate the utmost importance of living in a state of law. No one objects to getting a proper warrant before the proper court seeks an arrest of the accused and brings him or her to justice. But a collective warrant that declares an entire community criminal is, in itself, criminal.

President Lula da Silva, what would you say to Fredi Romelus for his terrible loss? His one-year old son, Nelson Romelus. What was his crime? Why was he executed by your soldiers? His four year-old brother Stanley, who died of a high-powered gunshot wound to the head, what was his crime? Their mother, Sonia Romelus, who died while clutching her baby, Nelson, what was her crime?

Lelene Mertina, 24-years old, was six months pregnant when a bullet ripped through her abdomen, instantly killing her unborn fetus. What was she guilty of to deserve this?

President da Silva, according to a U.N. after-action report, your soldiers spent seven hours shooting at an unarmed population. They expended over 22,000 rounds of ammunition, knowing they were striking unintended targets. This cannot possibly be the best that the Brazilian people have to offer. How can this happen when you are the President of Brazil?

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us that there comes a time when silence is betrayal. Will you and your Administration remain silent on these atrocities?

Portuguese Parliamentary Record:

Ferro brought David's letter directly to Lula at the National Congress of Brazil.

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Was Clinton 's Pa .Victory A Bittersweet One??? The NY Times Certainly Thinks So...

April 23, 2008
New York Times Editorial
The Low Road To Victory

The Pennsylvania campaign, which produced yet another inconclusive result on Tuesday, was even meaner, more vacuous, more desperate, and more filled with pandering than the mean, vacuous, desperate, pander-filled contests that preceded it.

Voters are getting tired of it; it is demeaning the political process; and it does not work. It is past time for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to acknowledge that the negativity, for which she is mostly responsible, does nothing but harm to her, her opponent, her party and the 2008 election.

If nothing else, self interest should push her in that direction. Mrs. Clinton did not get the big win in Pennsylvania that she needed to challenge the calculus of the Democratic race. It is true that Senator Barack Obama outspent her 2-to-1. But Mrs. Clinton and her advisers should mainly blame themselves, because, as the political operatives say, they went heavily negative and ended up squandering a good part of what was once a 20-point lead.

On the eve of this crucial primary, Mrs. Clinton became the first Democratic candidate to wave the bloody shirt of 9/11. A Clinton television ad — torn right from Karl Rove’s playbook — evoked the 1929 stock market crash, Pearl Harbor, the Cuban missile crisis, the cold war and the 9/11 attacks, complete with video of Osama bin Laden. “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,” the narrator intoned.

If that was supposed to bolster Mrs. Clinton’s argument that she is the better prepared to be president in a dangerous world, she sent the opposite message on Tuesday morning by declaring in an interview on ABC News that if Iran attacked Israel while she were president: “We would be able to totally obliterate them.”

By staying on the attack and not engaging Mr. Obama on the substance of issues like terrorism, the economy and how to organize an orderly exit from Iraq, Mrs. Clinton does more than just turn off voters who don’t like negative campaigning. She undercuts the rationale for her candidacy that led this page and others to support her: that she is more qualified, right now, to be president than Mr. Obama.

Mr. Obama is not blameless when it comes to the negative and vapid nature of this campaign. He is increasingly rising to Mrs. Clinton’s bait, undercutting his own claims that he is offering a higher more inclusive form of politics. When she criticized his comments about “bitter” voters, Mr. Obama mocked her as an Annie Oakley wannabe. All that does is remind Americans who are on the fence about his relative youth and inexperience.

No matter what the high-priced political operatives (from both camps) may think, it is not a disadvantage that Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton share many of the same essential values and sensible policy prescriptions. It is their strength, and they are doing their best to make voters forget it. And if they think that only Democrats are paying attention to this spectacle, they’re wrong.

After seven years of George W. Bush’s failed with-us-or-against-us presidency, all American voters deserve to hear a nuanced debate — right now and through the general campaign — about how each candidate will combat terrorism, protect civil liberties, address the housing crisis and end the war in Iraq.

It is getting to be time for the superdelegates to do what the Democrats had in mind when they created superdelegates: settle a bloody race that cannot be won at the ballot box. Mrs. Clinton once had a big lead among the party elders, but has been steadily losing it, in large part because of her negative campaign. If she is ever to have a hope of persuading these most loyal of Democrats to come back to her side, let alone win over the larger body of voters, she has to call off the dogs.


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Inmate Count in U.S. Dwarfs Other Nations’...

By ADAM LIPTAK Of The New York Times

The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.

Indeed, the United States leads the world in producing prisoners, a reflection of a relatively recent and now entirely distinctive American approach to crime and punishment. Americans are locked up for crimes — from writing bad checks to using drugs — that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries. And in particular they are kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners in other nations.

Criminologists and legal scholars in other industrialized nations say they are mystified and appalled by the number and length of American prison sentences.

The United States has, for instance, 2.3 million criminals behind bars, more than any other nation, according to data maintained by the International Center for Prison Studies at King’s College London.

China, which is four times more populous than the United States, is a distant second, with 1.6 million people in prison. (That number excludes hundreds of thousands of people held in administrative detention, most of them in China’s extrajudicial system of re-education through labor, which often singles out political activists who have not committed crimes.)

San Marino, with a population of about 30,000, is at the end of the long list of 218 countries compiled by the center. It has a single prisoner.

The United States comes in first, too, on a more meaningful list from the prison studies center, the one ranked in order of the incarceration rates. It has 751 people in prison or jail for every 100,000 in population. (If you count only adults, one in 100 Americans is locked up.)

The only other major industrialized nation that even comes close is Russia, with 627 prisoners for every 100,000 people. The others have much lower rates. England’s rate is 151; Germany’s is 88; and Japan’s is 63.

The median among all nations is about 125, roughly a sixth of the American rate.

There is little question that the high incarceration rate here has helped drive down crime, though there is debate about how much.

Criminologists and legal experts here and abroad point to a tangle of factors to explain America’s extraordinary incarceration rate: higher levels of violent crime, harsher sentencing laws, a legacy of racial turmoil, a special fervor in combating illegal drugs, the American temperament, and the lack of a social safety net. Even democracy plays a role, as judges — many of whom are elected, another American anomaly — yield to populist demands for tough justice.

Whatever the reason, the gap between American justice and that of the rest of the world is enormous and growing.

It used to be that Europeans came to the United States to study its prison systems. They came away impressed.

“In no country is criminal justice administered with more mildness than in the United States,” Alexis de Tocqueville, who toured American penitentiaries in 1831, wrote in “Democracy in America.”

No more.

“Far from serving as a model for the world, contemporary America is viewed with horror,” James Q. Whitman, a specialist in comparative law at Yale, wrote last year in Social Research. “Certainly there are no European governments sending delegations to learn from us about how to manage prisons.”

Prison sentences here have become “vastly harsher than in any other country to which the United States would ordinarily be compared,” Michael H. Tonry, a leading authority on crime policy, wrote in “The Handbook of Crime and Punishment.”

Indeed, said Vivien Stern, a research fellow at the prison studies center in London, the American incarceration rate has made the United States “a rogue state, a country that has made a decision not to follow what is a normal Western approach.”

The spike in American incarceration rates is quite recent. From 1925 to 1975, the rate remained stable, around 110 people in prison per 100,000 people. It shot up with the movement to get tough on crime in the late 1970s. (These numbers exclude people held in jails, as comprehensive information on prisoners held in state and local jails was not collected until relatively recently.)

The nation’s relatively high violent crime rate, partly driven by the much easier availability of guns here, helps explain the number of people in American prisons.

“The assault rate in New York and London is not that much different,” said Marc Mauer, the executive director of the Sentencing Project, a research and advocacy group. “But if you look at the murder rate, particularly with firearms, it’s much higher.”

Despite the recent decline in the murder rate in the United States, it is still about four times that of many nations in Western Europe.

But that is only a partial explanation. The United States, in fact, has relatively low rates of nonviolent crime. It has lower burglary and robbery rates than Australia, Canada and England.

People who commit nonviolent crimes in the rest of the world are less likely to receive prison time and certainly less likely to receive long sentences. The United States is, for instance, the only advanced country that incarcerates people for minor property crimes like passing bad checks, Mr. Whitman wrote.

Efforts to combat illegal drugs play a major role in explaining long prison sentences in the United States as well. In 1980, there were about 40,000 people in American jails and prisons for drug crimes. These days, there are almost 500,000.

Those figures have drawn contempt from European critics. “The U.S. pursues the war on drugs with an ignorant fanaticism,” said Ms. Stern of King’s College.

Many American prosecutors, on the other hand, say that locking up people involved in the drug trade is imperative, as it helps thwart demand for illegal drugs and drives down other kinds of crime. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, for instance, has fought hard to prevent the early release of people in federal prison on crack cocaine offenses, saying that many of them “are among the most serious and violent offenders.”

Still, it is the length of sentences that truly distinguishes American prison policy. Indeed, the mere number of sentences imposed here would not place the United States at the top of the incarceration lists. If lists were compiled based on annual admissions to prison per capita, several European countries would outpace the United States. But American prison stays are much longer, so the total incarceration rate is higher.

Burglars in the United States serve an average of 16 months in prison, according to Mr. Mauer, compared with 5 months in Canada and 7 months in England.

Many specialists dismissed race as an important distinguishing factor in the American prison rate. It is true that blacks are much more likely to be imprisoned than other groups in the United States, but that is not a particularly distinctive phenomenon. Minorities in Canada, Britain and Australia are also disproportionately represented in those nation’s prisons, and the ratios are similar to or larger than those in the United States.

Some scholars have found that English-speaking nations have higher prison rates.

“Although it is not at all clear what it is about Anglo-Saxon culture that makes predominantly English-speaking countries especially punitive, they are,” Mr. Tonry wrote last year in “Crime, Punishment and Politics in Comparative Perspective.”

“It could be related to economies that are more capitalistic and political cultures that are less social democratic than those of most European countries,” Mr. Tonry wrote. “Or it could have something to do with the Protestant religions with strong Calvinist overtones that were long influential.”

The American character — self-reliant, independent, judgmental — also plays a role.

“America is a comparatively tough place, which puts a strong emphasis on individual responsibility,” Mr. Whitman of Yale wrote. “That attitude has shown up in the American criminal justice of the last 30 years.”

French-speaking countries, by contrast, have “comparatively mild penal policies,” Mr. Tonry wrote.

Of course, sentencing policies within the United States are not monolithic, and national comparisons can be misleading.

“Minnesota looks more like Sweden than like Texas,” said Mr. Mauer of the Sentencing Project. (Sweden imprisons about 80 people per 100,000 of population; Minnesota, about 300; and Texas, almost 1,000. Maine has the lowest incarceration rate in the United States, at 273; and Louisiana the highest, at 1,138.)

Whatever the reasons, there is little dispute that America’s exceptional incarceration rate has had an impact on crime.

“As one might expect, a good case can be made that fewer Americans are now being victimized” thanks to the tougher crime policies, Paul G. Cassell, an authority on sentencing and a former federal judge, wrote in The Stanford Law Review.

From 1981 to 1996, according to Justice Department statistics, the risk of punishment rose in the United States and fell in England. The crime rates predictably moved in the opposite directions, falling in the United States and rising in England.

“These figures,” Mr. Cassell wrote, “should give one pause before too quickly concluding that European sentences are appropriate.”

Other commentators were more definitive. “The simple truth is that imprisonment works,” wrote Kent Scheidegger and Michael Rushford of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in The Stanford Law and Policy Review. “Locking up criminals for longer periods reduces the level of crime. The benefits of doing so far offset the costs.”

There is a counterexample, however, to the north. “Rises and falls in Canada’s crime rate have closely paralleled America’s for 40 years,” Mr. Tonry wrote last year. “But its imprisonment rate has remained stable.”

Several specialists here and abroad pointed to a surprising explanation for the high incarceration rate in the United States: democracy.

Most state court judges and prosecutors in the United States are elected and are therefore sensitive to a public that is, according to opinion polls, generally in favor of tough crime policies. In the rest of the world, criminal justice professionals tend to be civil servants who are insulated from popular demands for tough sentencing.

Mr. Whitman, who has studied Tocqueville’s work on American penitentiaries, was asked what accounted for America’s booming prison population.

“Unfortunately, a lot of the answer is democracy — just what Tocqueville was talking about,” he said. “We have a highly politicized criminal justice system.”

Black Folks Please Forgive Tavis...

Don't Hate On Smiley's Hatin

by Keith Johnson(playahata. com)

Recently Tavis Smiley announced that as of July of this year, he'd no longer be doing his twice-weekly commentaries on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. Joyner attempted to talk Smiley out of it, and I assume will continue to do so, but for now he's firm. Smiley's official reason was that he's overloaded with his TV show, two radio shows, foundations, speaking engagements, etc.

But as Joyner himself said, the real reason is that Smiley couldn't take the anger he's been getting from Blacks, over his criticisms of Barak Obama. As Joyner himself said, "Tavis can't take the hate from people he loves. And Tavis *does* love Black people".

Comments from callers were generally of the form "he shouldn't have been so hard on Obama"…"he's was just jealous of Obama"…, or "he shouldn't leave us over this one thing".

My Personal Opinion:
I think Tavis Smiley is a great voice for Black America. And Brown America. And White America. And Poor America. I've heard many criticize him as being self-aggrandizing, naive, too focused on Black issues. I've heard many say he needs to get with the times and embrace a colorless-or less color conscious-world, the same way Obama seems to be doing. But my feeling is that Smiley is indeed someone who loves Black people deeply, who's seen and sees the many injustices and inequalities we still face (impoverished communities, lack of educational resources, lack of good jobs, etc.) He calls corporations and politicans out for bilking the poor and disenfranchised, and he always wants those in power to give back to those with little. This has included him sticking up for people of other colors, the poor, etc. such as when he goes against the likes of the Bush administration, which he feels has hurt all of us in America. Smiley may be too focused on issues of race for some, but at least that has come from a passion and love, a desire to uplift us, rather than from (in my opinion) a need to build up his own ego. Yes, he can get on one's nerves sometimes. Maybe he's a bit-intense-to some. And he's not above a bit of criticism himself: the need to protect the poor and inner city neighborhoods, while being sponsored by Wal-Mart for his TV show comes to mind.

But for all his faults and irritating (to some) facets, Tavis has been trying to fight the good fight, to raise consciousness. A man of God who believes in uplifting his race, an educated man who believes in making education available to all, a conservative Christian who has many old-fashioned liberal ideals. I think it has been his idealistic, sometimes naive-seeming belief in those old fashioned liberal views that may have colored Smiley's views of Obama recently.

In discussing Smiley with my wife-who like me, likes him greatly-I listened as my wife said "I understand his concerns about Obama. But while I've heard his critiques of Obama, I haven't heard a lot of support. Tavis needs to realize that he is a high-profile figure just like Obama, and that this could start looking more like one Black man attacking another, rather than someone who's concerned about a brother he loves. He's trying to do the right thing, but it doesn't sound that way".

Wise words. And looking back on it, I realize too that I've heard Smiley say very little in outright support of Obama, while he's been critical of Obama's walking away from "Black" events, such as Smiley's own yearly conference with Black leaders, and recently, Obama's no-show at the celebrations in Memphis honoring Dr. King.

That seeming "hate" has arisen, I think, from that passionate, idealistic, almost naive view of the world. Smiley has long said-long before Obama came on the scene-that one thing that bothers him most is when leaders of any color start compromising their ideals to get elected. He still clings to the "If we have to sellout to get ahead, then I'd rather stay behind" view. And I think he measures so many Black leaders against the measuring stick of his personal hero, MLK, who often went against what was easy and practical in favor of speaking the truth, consequences be damned. King spoke out against Vietnam when his own advisers said not to do it, not to alienate Johnson… he expanded his cause to the poor when they said don't do it. And he went to Memphis for a relatively non-strategic reaons when his advisers said "don't do it". Smiley idolizes that man, and he's been viewing many leaders through the same lens-and they often don't hold up.

I don't think Tavis hates Obama. I don't think he's jealous of Obama. I don't think he's got a sore ego for Obama's no-show. I really feel that Smiley has been waiting, praying and hoping for another King for three decades, and feels letdown that no one-is. He's measuring people who have to negotiate in the political world against a man who could speak from the "safety" of a pulpit. Smiley is afraid of a Black person being "less Black", of selling off a bit of himself-and of us-as he manuevers to please one group after another. In short, he's afraid that, as we all crow about a Black in the White House, we might all wake up one day to say "Damn! He's not doing any more for *us* than white politicians did". He's afriad a Black president may end up being as ineffectual as some Black congressmen have been over the years. So he's afraid, he's concerned, he's angry, he's disappointed, and he may be a bit naive. He's let his frustration veer him from coming to Obama with eq ual parts love and criticism, to lean more towards criticism alone. And that was a mistake, but it was a mistake born out of a dreamer who hates the reality, out of a boyish enthusiasm that's been dashed by the realities of the grownup world of politics. Naive? Perhaps. Hateful? I don't think so, at least not intentionally.

I think Smiley made a mistake in not balancing his views on Obama, but it was a mistake of right intent, not based on jealousy or fear. It was asking a man with finite shoulders to bear almost infinite responsibility, of an imperfect human to live up to a sometimes hard-to-meet near perfect ideal. I also think he needs to stick with Joyner, step back, see what some Blacks have been upset about, and take a look inside. Running at this time doesn't show much other than to make some think he's just a bruised baby, and others to say "well, he can't take the heat". And this may make him lose even more support than his commentaries alone have done.

If so, that's too bad. Smiley's is the type of old-fashioned, impractical, sometimes infuriating, idealistic, crazy voice of unabashed Black love I believe we still need in America. That he may have veered off course jsut a bit this time shouldn't make us forget all the good he's done and tries to do. He was wrong to attack Obama in the way he's done it at times, but we'd be just as wrong to attack Smiley in dismissal of all the great things he's done. The ascension of a Black man to the White House is the thing of fantasy, and I think we're all constantly trying to wrap our heads around how to act and think and speak and just *be* in that fantasy become reality.

It's new territory, and can't we all be forgiven for sometimes running off the road a bit in how we explore it?

Disagree with Smiley, but don't hate him. We need his voice as much as we need Obama's. As much as we need Tom Joyners. As much as I need your voices. As much as you need mine. As much as we all need each other.

If Disagree U Can Email -

Black , Bitter And Clinging To Our Guns & God...Paradise Gray Reports...

Bitter, Clinging To Our Guns & God In Pittsburgh
by Paradise Gray of X-Clan/ 1Hood

Hip Hop Legend Paradise Gray Is A Fan Of R2C2H2 Tha Artivist

You wouldn't know it by all of the media's focus on the middle class white demographic in the democratic primary in Pennsylvania, but they are not the only inhabitants of Pennsylvania. All Eyes are finally on PA. While you are here please don't overlook us or take us for granted in the black neighborhoods as we also have a say in the up coming elections.

Welcome to Pittsburgh, PA (AKA Clipsburgh Pistalvania), we have been named "America's most livable city" despite the University of Pittsburgh's Racial Disparity study which spelled it out in black and white, their study detailed the lack of opportunities in every major catagory from health care to employment, education to incarceration. So the Democratic Primary season is not the only time that we were not even being considered in the equation. Unfortunately we have grown too accustomed to being overlooked, ignored, marginalized not only by national politicians but local one's who do not have our best interests in mind.

We could care less about how well a candidate can bowl or how many beers and shots someone chugs back during a photo op. We can do without the distractions and rumors of tabloid journalism which is really just entertainment disguised as news. We can handle the truth around here, because from our perspective this is as real as it gets.

I have lived in 3 communities in the Pittsburgh area and without a doubt many people in this city are bitter, and too many young people in PA are not just clinging to their guns, they are blasting each other with them at an alarming rate. There have been so many candle light Vigils here that I have grown tired of Vigils and demand "Vigilance".
We must find a way to stop our children from killing and being killed!

This is happening from the Eastern border of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, to the Western border Pittsburgh and I haven't heard a peep from anyone about how we stop putting our children in boxes and burying them in the ground. While the national media is here please ask why the murder rate in Philly has been 10 times the murder rate of much larger cities over the past few years.

I started Thursday morning by praying and crying over the body of a 17 year old in Pittsburgh, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, doing something that he shouldn't have been doing. As I stood over him I thought about all the mistakes that I made as a young man, all the immature decisions I had made. I was reminded of how lucky I am and how unlikely it seems to young men in their minds that they will survive when their reality is that they are a split second decision from living or dieing.

Saturday morning we wake up to the news of another 12 year old little boy shot and killed, this time in Wilkinsburg. This great loss of young life brings to mind another 12 year old boy who's life was cut short by bullets from guns here in Western PA, the guns of 2 state troopers.
Young Michael Ellerby was murdered and his killers have still not been charged. We demand that Mary Beth Bucannon prosecute those guilty for the murder of Michael Ellerby. Stop wasting time and money prosecuting an old man who is of no threat to our community, 20 million dollars to prosecute Wecht, I have seen not one rally in any community nor heard of one angry or bitter Pittsburgh citizen demanding for his prosecution. Stop playing games with our minds and money and do your jobs, we want real justice for real people who's children are dieing in these streets.

Please remember Johnny Gammage, Stoney Bey, Devon Grimmate, Anthony Starks, Jerry Jackson, and many other victims of Police brutality and murder who have never received justice, ask us if we are bitter about that.

Let's debate about why they are closing down schools and playing musical chairs with our children's education. Spending 32 thousand a year to house an inmate but barely 12 thousand per year on a child in school is bad math.

Ask us about deficits in transportation and cuts in our bus service that serve our poorest neighborhoods. Things that mean everything to us but have escaped the lips of our mayor, county executive and our governor as they run around campaigning.

We are getting a new casino, a new subway stop, a new hockey stadium to go with our new football stadium and new baseball stadium, can we please have a signed community benefits agreement?

While talking baseball, please remember Roberto Clemente and while you are at it retire his number 21 throughout all of baseball.

Don't forget we have had numerous noose's hung at our workplaces including a hospital and a prison here in PA, we have even had a cross burnt on the lawn of a black family on Thanksgiving morning! The one thing we have not had is justice in any of the cases.
Why is everyone is so quiet about it while the potential Presidential candidates are around!

When you see Philadelphia's Mayor Nutter on the campaign trial, please remember the city's first black Mayor, W. Wilson Goode, "who approved dropping a bomb .. in a city neighborhood. The explosives started an inferno that killed 5 children and 6 adult members of Move, incinerated 60 adjacent row houses and left 250 people homeless. A commission, appointed by the Mayor Goode to investigate the incident, reported in 1986 that the Mayor had ''abdicated his responsibilities as a leader,'' that the eviction plan was ''unconscionable'' and that the 11 deaths might be considered ''unjustified homicides.'' But a grand jury last year could not find any criminal negligence or criminal intent in city officials' actions and did not indict anyone.

http://query. nytimes. com/gst/fullpage. html?res=950DE2DC113DF93AA35751C1A96F948260

Hey Mr. & Mrs. National Media look at this! The U.S. locks up more juveniles for life without parole than all nations combined and guess which state leads all others in the number of Juveniles incarcerated for life without the possibility for parole? You got it! Pennsylvania leads the nation in the number of juvenile lifers, with more than 330, even though the state ranks sixth in population, according to: No Future: Pa.
leads nation in juveniles serving life sentences

http://realcostofprisons. org/blog/archives/2006/02/no_future_pa_le. html

Check out the artists of Pennsylvania who are some of the most interesting, creative and talented people to ever breath air. From Hip-hop to Reggae, Punk, Rock to Jazz, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and many smaller towns in Pennsylvania have made an enormous contribution to music and popular culture. Support them not just with your words but with your wallets while you are here.

Ask me about a little church that has embraced young people no matter their race (or color) in an atmosphere that has young people guilty of the crime of being young. A church where democrats and republicans have co-existed for years, hard working people who care so much about each other and the community that they have been labeled a nuisance church by those who want the children out of the area. A church where 70 year old, white haired women and men pass me the peace and hug me while saying God bless you to me every Sunday, then we pray for the children and the community.

Remember Pennsylvania's men and women who have bravely given their lives in Iraq, Afghanistan and every modern war fought. We pray for them too! Google the Tuskegee Airmen from our area who's contributions to our freedom was fierce and brave.
Where would we be without them?

And last but not least, while you are here ask yourself why you haven't heard the name Mumia Abu-Jamal in the media even though the 3rd circuit court recently made the decision not to give him a new trial. Offering him only new sentencing after lawyers for Mumia presented startling new evidence. Evidence showing that the car wasn't parked where they said it was, an officer mishandled the guns involved with un-gloved hands, Police intimidation of witness's and other discrepancies in Mumia's case, including but not limited to an eyewitness account of the judge saying that he was "going to help fry a nigger".

Mumia Abu-Jamal is our Mandela, a political prisoner, an innocent man on death row for a crime that evidence proves he did not commit. And yet he is still "Live on Death Row" in Pennsylvania, he deserves a new trail.

Somebody had it right!

Signed: Bitter, Clinging To Our Guns And God In Pittsburgh, PA
Paradise Gray
One Hood
Http://www. myspace. com/onehoodorg
Http://www. myspace. com/paradisegray

Monday, April 21, 2008

Come & Support Free R2C2H2 Art Event This Friday April 25, 2008 In Memphis!!!

All That Jazz & Then Some: A R2C2H2 Art Experience…

When: Friday April 25, 2008
Time: 6pm-9pm
Where: Optimal Health Chiropractic
2879 Poplar Avenue
Memphis,Tn 38111
(Across The Street From Amro’s Music Store & The Hooks Central Library & Located In The Same Lot As Grisanti Ronnie & Sons Restaurant)

Contact Person: Albert Grant
Phone: 901-299-4355
$Charge$: This Is A Free Event

"The Multinstrumentalist" By R2C2H2 Tha Artivist

A Seedling In A Forest Of Giant Sequoias:
The Great Myrlie Evers-Williams (Widow Of The Great Medgar Evers) And Legendary Businessman & Founder Of Black Enterprise Magazine Earl Graves Are Fans Of The Art Of R2C2H2 Tha Artivist

About All That Jazz & Then Some: A R2C2H2 Art Experience

Food For Thought


Great Art


Good Music


Charming, Eccentric, Talented & Knowledgeable Personality


A Great Time To Be Had By All!!!

Learn About The History of Memphis’ Place In Jazz & Blues Via The Visual Arts And The Spoken Word While Celebrating The Life Affirmation Day (April 23) Of One Of Memphis’ Very Own, R2C2H2 Tha Artivist…

Affordable Priceless Artwork By R2C2H2 Tha Artivist Will Be On Sale

Also Learn About How You Can Participate In & Support The 2nd Annual Jimmie Lunceford Jamboree Festival

Sept. 11-14, 2008

Tha Artivist

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