Gen Colin Powell on Trayvon Martin Verdict and Racism in America

Powell comes down on the side of rational people…

I think the verdict will have “staying power”, as I see it as an issue that will continue to strongly divide the country – argued and debated about much as the OJ verdict was for years. Further, unlike the OJ verdict, the issues of laws being passed by conservatives who in vast majority supported Zimmerman aren’t going to disappear anytime soon.

Colin Powell: Trayvon Martin verdict questionable

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday the jury verdict that freed the killer of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was “questionable.” But he isn’t sure it will have staying power in the public consciousness.

Speaking on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Powell said cases like Martin’s “blaze across the midnight sky” and are forgotten. George Zimmerman was acquitted earlier this summer of the fatal 2012 shooting in Florida

The first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and first black secretary of state, Powell says America has come a long way toward racial equality 50 years after Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which came 50 years ago this week. Powell recalled being refused service when trying to buy a hamburger before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Minorities have many more opportunities today, but Powell says King would still demand work on education, housing and economic opportunities.

Powell also believes that the New Jim Crow voting laws in the red zone will backfire – which is the essence of why Trayvon won’t go away…

Colin Powell: Voter ID Laws Will ‘Backfire’ For Republicans

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell warned Republicans on Sunday that the strict voter identification laws they’re pursuing around the country will damage the party’s standing with growing blocs of voters.

“[H]ere’s what I say to my Republican friends: The country is becoming more diverse,” Powell told Bob Schieffer on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “You say you want to reach out, you say you want to have a new message. You say you want to see if you can bring some of these voters to the Republican side. This is not the way to do it.”

“The way to do it is to make it easier for them to vote and then give them something to vote for that they can believe in,” Powell added.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling that struck down a key portion of the Voting Rights Act, Republicans in states like North Carolina, Florida and Texas have sought voter restrictions that critics, including Powell, say will disproportionately hurt minorities at the polls. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed legislation earlier this month that requires voter identification, rolls back early voting hours and ends a state-supported voter registration drive. Powell condemned that particular law at an event in Raleigh last week.

Powell pointed out that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud, the very premise of the identification statutes.

“You need a photo ID. Well, you didn’t need a photo ID for decades before,” Powell said. “Is it really necessary now? And they claim that there’s widespread abuse and voter fraud, but nothing documents, nothing substantiates that. There isn’t widespread abuse.”

Powell predicted that such measures will blow up in Republicans’ faces.

“These kind of procedures that are being put in place to slow the process down and make it likely that fewer Hispanics and African Americans might vote, I think, are going to backfire, because these people are going to come out and do what they have to do in order to vote, and I encourage that,” he said.

During the interview, Powell also reflected on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, recalling times when he couldn’t eat in certain places due to the color of his skin, even though he’d just served his country.

“In my lifetime, over a long career in public life, you know, I’ve been refused access to restaurants where I couldn’t eat, even though I just came back from Vietnam: ‘We can’t give you a hamburger, come back some other time,'” Powell recalled. “And I did, right after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, I went right back to that same place and got my hamburger, and they were more than happy to serve me now. It removed a cross from their back, but we’re not there yet. We’re not there yet. And so we’ve got to keep working on it.”

One of the genesis of the modern conservative movement was the treatment of Vets after the Vietnam War by the American people and anti-war groups. That left a large scar on our national psyche.  Apparently it never imprinted on the conservative mindless that their feelings of being disrespected…

Might just be the same as experienced by black folks when they are confronted by racism driven discrimination.

Trolling for a White Trayvon – and the Rights Racist Obsession With Crime

Searching for the white Trayvon – the right wing an Faux News troll the crime ledgers.

The right’s black crime obsession

There are a few black people up to no good in this country and Fox News is on it! So is Drudge Report. Vigilantly on the lookout, 24 hours a day, for stories about black youths behaving badly.

This isn’t a particularly new phenomenon, but it’s intensified noticeably in the past year for at least two reasons. Conservatives, particularly white conservatives, feel a burning urgency to find a racial counterweight to the aftermath of Trayvon Martin’s shooting (including President Obama’s public comments about the incident), a logical response to the argument that things like background checks and an assault weapons ban are appropriate ways to reduce the likelihood of another Sandy Hook-style massacre, and anecdotal justifications for indiscriminate policing of dangerous neighborhoods.

But these are hopeless pursuits. The incidents they draw attention to fail by definition to underscore the things they believe. They all require projecting motives or details or both into tragic events, to create false dichotomies between shootings perpetrated by whites and blacks. They have the unhealthy effect of creating dueling tallies of white-on-black and black-on-white crime. And ironically they all tend to underscore the argument that more “stand your ground” laws and more racial profiling are off-point responses to these incidents.

The latest conservative cri de coeur is over the tragic shooting death of Chris Lane, a 22-year-old Australian attending East Central University in Oklahoma on a baseball scholarship. Two teen boys spotted Lane on a jog last week, trailed him in a car, and allegedly shot him fatally in the back (a third teen reportedly served as their driver). One of the suspects said the boys committed the murder out of boredom.

Word of the shooting spread quickly. And that’s when the right clumsily revealed that its obsession with gun violence reflects an obsession with racial score settling rather than with averting further tragedies. The conservative media, including Fox News, repeated the claim that the Oklahoma suspects were all black. But this turned out to be a toxic mix of racial bias and wishful thinking. You almost wonder whether the people whose ulterior motives led them into error like this actually lamented the fact that one of the suspects happened to be white. It would be so much more convenient if that weren’t the case.

This racist yellow-journalism article kicked off the Tulsa “race riot” of 1921.

But let’s pretend for a minute that the suspects had all fit the stereotype the hosts at Fox and Friends wanted. Then the idea is that Chris Lane’s death should somehow offset Trayvon Martin’s, or that the people who sought to turn George Zimmerman’s actions into a national referendum on “stand your ground” laws are somehow hypocritical for having little to say when the races of the culprits and innocent victims are reversed. For reactionary Obama foes like former Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., the obvious question is, “Whom will POTUS identify w/this time?”

I’ll give West, et al., this: If you ignore motive, circumstance, history and (likely) outcome, then liberals, particularly black liberals, sure seem craven. By that standard, though, Jean Valjean and John, King of England are moral equals — just a couple of guys with similar names taking other people’s property.

This racist yellow-journalism article kicked off the elaine “Race riots” of 1919

So let’s review: George Zimmerman wouldn’t have shot Trayvon Martin if he hadn’t been profiling by race. And even if he had been, the shooting feasibly wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t been legally allowed to carry a handgun and didn’t think he was empowered by law to take matters into his own hands. The monstrous killing of Chris Lane has no such back story. The killers apparently had no motive whatsoever, were armed illegally, and certainly weren’t trailing Lane because they believed, based on his race, that he might be a criminal. They are, however, likely to face serious prison time for their crimes. Zimmerman walked.

Put that all together, and it turns out these stories aren’t counter-parallel at all. And more to the point, the events don’t even anecdotally augur for policies the right supports. The kids in Oklahoma weren’t “standing their ground,” and a “stand your ground” law wouldn’t have saved Chris Lane. Neither would a stop-and-frisk regime — the killers were trailing him in a car. By contrast, a “stand your ground” environment and a stop-and-frisk mentality were instrumental in Trayvon Martin’s death. Take either away, and there’s a good chance he’d be alive today. Martin in fact personified the statistical folly of stop-and-frisk. If Zimmerman had yielded to real police, they would have, in absence of any suspicious behavior, stopped Martin, frisked him and found only the skittles and iced tea that made his death that much more tragically poignant.

You could twist that into a claim that stop-and-frisk might have saved Martin’s life. But that gets the onus backward. Proponents of profiling policies need to do better than argue we have to violate the civil rights of minorities in order to protect them from hair-triggered vigilantes.

What might well have stopped both killings, though, is making it harder for people, legally or illegally, to come into possession of handguns. That’s a conversation the right is less obsessed with.

More From Florida…

Yeah…More fall out from the Zimmerman travesty…

Walton Henry Butler Shoots Neighbor

Florida man shoots neighbor in the face and tells police ‘I only shot a ni**er

Port St. Joe, Florida man arrested for shooting his neighbor in the face allegedly admitted his crime to police, with a strange excuse.

Walter Henry Butler, 59, was arrested by Gulf County Sheriffs deputies after shooting Everett Gant, who is black. Gant was shot in the face after he confronted Butler about using racial slurs to address children living in the apartment complex where the two men reside.

Deputies said Butler admitted to shooting the victim, and even called 911 himself to report it, after which he reportedly went back to cooking his dinner. According to reports, officers on the scene said Butler seemed annoyed by the arrest and told officers, “I only shot a ni—r.

Butler was charged with attempted murder and a hate crime. He is being held at the Gulf County Jail. Gant is said to be in stable condition and is expected to survive.

President Obama Speaks on Trayvon Martin and Stereotyping of Black Men

 

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The reason I actually wanted to come out today is not to take questions, but to speak to an issue that obviously has gotten a lot of attention over the course of the last week, the issue of the Trayvon Martin ruling. I gave an — a preliminary statement right after the ruling on Sunday, but watching the debate over the course of the last week I thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit.

First of all, you know, I — I want to make sure that, once again, I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation. I can only imagine what they’re going through, and it’s — it’s remarkable how they’ve handled it.

The second thing I want to say is to reiterate what I said on Sunday, which is there are going to be a lot of arguments about the legal — legal issues in the case. I’ll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues.

The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner. The prosecution and the defense made their arguments. The juries were properly instructed that in a — in a case such as this, reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury’s spoken, that’s how our system works.

But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling. You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African- American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African- American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that — that doesn’t go away.

There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. 

And there are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator. There are very few African-Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.

And you know, I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear. 

The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

Now, this isn’t to say that the African-American community is naive about the fact that African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, that they are disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It’s not to make excuses for that fact, although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context.

We understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.

And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration. And the fact that a lot of African-American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African-American boys are more violent — using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.

I think the African-American community is also not naive in understanding that statistically somebody like Trayvon Martin was probably statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else.

So — so folks understand the challenges that exist for African- American boys, but they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it or — and that context is being denied. And — and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.

Now, the question for me at least, and I think, for a lot of folks is, where do we take this? How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction? You know, I think it’s understandable that there have been demonstrations and vigils and protests, and some of that stuff is just going to have to work its way through as long as it remains nonviolent. If I see any violence, then I will remind folks that that dishonors what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family. 

But beyond protests or vigils, the question is, are there some concrete things that we might be able to do? I know that Eric Holder is reviewing what happened down there, but I think it’s important for people to have some clear expectations here. Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government — the criminal code. And law enforcement has traditionally done it at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels.

That doesn’t mean, though, that as a nation, we can’t do some things that I think would be productive. So let me just give a couple of specifics that I’m still bouncing around with my staff so we’re not rolling out some five-point plan, but some areas where I think all of us could potentially focus. 

Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it’d be productive for the Justice Department — governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists.

You know, when I was in Illinois I passed racial profiling legislation. And it actually did just two simple things. One, it collected data on traffic stops and the race of the person who was stopped. But the other thing was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias and ways to further professionalize what they were doing.

And initially, the police departments across the state were resistant, but actually they came to recognize that if it was done in a fair, straightforward way, that it would allow them to do their jobs better and communities would have more confidence in them and in turn be more helpful in applying the law. And obviously law enforcement’s got a very tough job.

So that’s one area where I think there are a lot of resources and best practices that could be brought bear if state and local governments are receptive. And I think a lot of them would be. And — and let’s figure out other ways for us to push out that kind of training.

Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it — if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations.

I know that there’s been commentary about the fact that the stand your ground laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case.

On the other hand, if we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there’s a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see?

And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these “stand your ground” laws, I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened? 

And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.

Number three — and this is a long-term project: We need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys? And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about. There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them? 

You know, I’m not naive about the prospects of some brand-new federal program.

I’m not sure that that’s what we’re talking about here. But I do recognize that as president, I’ve got some convening power.

And there are a lot of good programs that are being done across the country on this front. And for us to be able to gather together business leaders and local elected officials and clergy and celebrities and athletes and figure out how are we doing a better job helping young African-American men feel that they’re a full part of this society and that — and that they’ve got pathways and avenues to succeed — you know, I think that would be a pretty good outcome from what was obviously a tragic situation. And we’re going to spend some time working on that and thinking about that.

And then finally, I think it’s going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching. You know, there have been talk about should we convene a conversation on race. I haven’t seen that be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations. They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have.

On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there’s a possibility that people are a little bit more honest, and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can; am I judging people, as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin but the content of their character? That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy.

And let me just leave you with — with a final thought, that as difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better. Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race. I doesn’t mean that we’re in a postracial society. It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated. But you know, when I talk to Malia and Sasha and I listen to their friends and I see them interact, they’re better than we are. They’re better than we were on these issues. And that’s true in every community that I’ve visited all across the country.

And so, you know, we have to be vigilant and we have to work on these issues, and those of us in authority should be doing everything we can to encourage the better angels of our nature as opposed to using these episodes to heighten divisions. But we should also have confidence that kids these days I think have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did, and that along this long, difficult journey, you know, we’re becoming a more perfect union — not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.

The Real Problem in America

 

Our real problem is white rage

 

If there is no justice, there can be no peace. But in the American South it seems white folks suddenly believe that decorum and charm are a proper response to unspeakable acts of violence and unconscionable injustice.

The day before a jury delivered an acquittal in the murder trial of George Zimmerman, Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger and Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith gave a national press conference to appeal for a peaceful reaction to the verdict — regardless of its outcome.

Eslinger, who is white, said, “We will not tolerate anyone who uses this verdict as an excuse to violate the law.”

The veiled threat of an aggressive police response to imaginary civil unrest belies the very logic that led to Trayvon Martin’s death to begin with. For, you see, African-Americans are never protected or served by the law enforcement apparatus — yet they are always subject to its military might.

Sanford police coyly “tolerated” the actual killing of an unarmed black child, but yet refuse to “tolerate” any anger expressed for the acquittal of his murderer.

This is the new Jim Crow realized.

It bears reminding that it was Sanford’s police who first allowed Zimmerman to walk away uncharged — his gun in tote. The story of self-defense seemed logical to them given the brown body lying on the ground. It was their decision not to investigate the case as a crime that led to public outcry, rallies and marches. It is only because of their total failure to do their jobs that the world now knows the name and face of Trayvon Martin.

The complete incompetence (or indifference) of Sanford police is why certain evidence that could have more easily convicted Zimmerman was inadmissible at trial — the most glaring example being their failure to perform a toxicology test on Zimmerman the night he shot Martin. Had they done so, it would have revealed whether he was under the influence of either illegal substances, alcohol or the two prescriptions drugs he had admittedly been taking — Temazepan and Adderall — the side effects of which include hallucinations, insomnia and aggressive behavior.

Instead, Sanford police let Zimmerman walk away, quietly into the night, as he did again yesterday. But the same police now threaten a quick and forcible response to any violence perpetrated in reaction to injustice their own department has engendered.

 

Piers Morgan Takes Toure to School

I have seen MSNBC trot out Toure as their expert on things “Black”. From what I have seen so far the guy doesn’t have the gravitas to carry that water. Here he attacks Piers Morgan for interviewing George Zimmerman’s brother. This puts Toure in the ridiculous position of denying the Zimmerman family and their supporters the right to free speech. Toure is so far off-base it’s absurd. Piers takes him to school…

Fla. ‘Stand Your Ground’ sponsor talks about Martin case

“Stand Your Ground Law” Sponsor says law does not apply in the Zimmerman-Martin case.

 

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