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The New Jim Crow – Bankrupcy Courts

It is fairly easy for low income folks to fall behind in their ability to pay their debts. It really only take one major expense whether medical or something as simple, but sometimes drastic as a car breakdown to put folks on limited income below the line financially. Unlike the white-wing Republican whine, this has nothing to do with buying color televisions, drinking champagne, or spending lavishly on luxuries – this is a real condition of America’s economy. In some communities like those in Ferguson, Missouri – such financial crisis can be caused by policies set up to “punish” the black community through judicial and court fines. The victims of this Jim Crow Justice System are often left with ony three bad choices – pay the fine and lose your apartment, don’t pay the fine and go to jail, or go to jail and lose your job.

Not only are black folks victim of this, the elderly and poor white folks have the same problem.

The difference (as is symptomatic of our Jim Crow Justice System) is, how the legal system treats people of color.

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Debtor’s Prison

Caught in the Bankruptcy Feedback Loop

Black Americans are far less likely than their white peers to successfully erase their debts in court—and a network of attorneys profits as a result.

Novasha Miller pushed through the revolving doors of the black glass tower on Jefferson Avenue last December and felt a rush of déjà vu. The building, conspicuous in Memphis’ modest skyline along the Mississippi River, looms over its neighbors. Then she remembered: Years ago, as a teenager, she’d accompanied her mother inside.

Now she was 32, herself the mother of a teenager, and she was entering the same door, taking the same elevator. Like her mother before her, Miller was filing for bankruptcy.

She’d cried when she made the decision, but with three boys and one uneven paycheck, every month was a narrow escape. A debt collector had recently won a court judgment against her and, along with that, the ability to seize a chunk of her pay. Soon, she would be forced to decide between groceries or electricity.

Bankruptcy, she figured, despite its stink of shame and failure, would stop all that. She could begin anew: older, wiser, and with a job at a catering company that paid $10.50 an hour, a good bump from her last one. She could keep dreaming of a life where she had money left over at the end of each month, a chance of one day owning a home.

What Miller didn’t know when she swallowed her pride and called a local bankruptcy attorney is that she would probably end up right back where she started, with the same debts, in the same crisis. For the black debtors who, for generations, have made Memphis the bankruptcy capital of the U.S., the system delivers neither forgiveness nor renewal.

Up on the sixth floor of that tower where I met Miller last February, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Tennessee appeared to be a well-functioning machine. Debtors, nearly all black like her, crowded the wedge-shaped waiting area as lawyers, paralegals, and court staff, almost all white, milled about in front. Hundreds of cases are filed here every week, and those who oversee and administer the process all proudly note the court’s marvelous efficiency. Millions of dollars flow smoothly to creditors, to the court, to bankruptcy attorneys.

But the machine hides a harsh reality. When ProPublica analyzed consumer bankruptcy filings nationwide, the district stood out, both for the stunning number of cases in which debtors were unable to get relief, and for the reasons why. In Memphis, an entrenched legal culture has made bankruptcy a boon for attorneys while miring clients like Miller in a cycle of futility.

Under federal bankruptcy law, people overwhelmed by debt have a choice: They can either file under Chapter 7, which wipes out debts and, since most filers lack significant assets, allows them to keep what little they have. Or they can choose Chapter 13, which usually requires five years of payments to creditors before any debts are eliminated, but blocks foreclosures and car repossessions as long as debtors can keep up. In most of the country, Chapter 7 is the overwhelming choice. Only in the South, in a band of states stretching from North Carolina to Texas, is Chapter 13 predominant.

The responsibility of knowing which path to pick falls to those seeking relief. In Memphis, about three-quarters of filings are under Chapter 13. That’s how Miller filed. She thought the two chapters were “the same,” she told me.

Initially, they are. Upon filing, debtors are shielded from garnishments and debt collectors. But whereas under Chapter 7 those protections are generally made permanent after a few months, under Chapter 13 they last only as long as payments are made. Most Chapter 13 filers in Memphis don’t last a year, let alone five.

As efficiently as cases are opened, they are closed—usually because debtors fail to keep up with payments, according to a ProPublica analysis of court data. In 2015, over 9,000 cases in the district were dismissed—more cases than were filed in 22 other states that year. Less than a third of Chapter 13 cases in the district result in a discharge of debts. And when their cases are dismissed, debtors are often in worse straits, because as they struggled to make payments, the interest on their unpaid debts continued to mount. Once the refuge of bankruptcy is gone, the debt floods back larger than ever. They’ve borne the costs of bankruptcy—attorney and filing fees, a seven-year flag on their credit reports—without receiving its primary benefit. A system that is supposed to eliminate debt instead serves to magnify it.

Driving this tremendous churn of filings is a handful of bankruptcy attorneys with what sounds like an easy pitch: immediate relief, for free. In Memphis, it typically costs around $1,000 to hire an attorney to file a Chapter 7, but most attorneys will file a Chapter 13 for no money down. Ultimately, the fees for Chapter 13 filings are higher—upwards of $3,000—but the payments are stretched over time. For many people, this is the only option they can afford: debt relief on credit. For attorneys, they gain clients—and a regular flow of fees—they might not otherwise get, even if few of their clients get lasting relief.

For black filers in Memphis, relief is particularly rare. They are more likely than their white peers to file under Chapter 13 and less likely to complete a Chapter 13 plan. Because failure is so frequent in Memphis, many people file again and again. In 2015, about half of the black debtors who filed under Chapter 13 in the district had done so at least once before in the previous five years. Some had filed as many as 20 times over their lifetimes. Here, bankruptcy is often not the one-time rescue it was envisioned to be, but rather a way for the poor to hold on to basic necessities like electricity for a couple months.

“The way we have it set up, our culture, has a lot of unintended consequences,” said Judge Jennie Latta, one of five bankruptcy judges in the Western District of Tennessee. Since 1997, when she took the bench, the racial disparities in Memphis have been evident, she said. “It was troubling to me then, and it’s still troubling to me.”

When I asked judges, trustees (who administer the cases), and debtor attorneys what could be done to reduce racial disparities and improve outcomes, I was mostly met with resignation. I heard a lot about the poverty in Memphis and a legal culture with deeply rooted traditions. But ProPublica’s analysis identified bankruptcy attorneys in Memphis who had much more success in getting their black clients out of debt. These attorneys had a different approach, preferring Chapter 7 to Chapter 13, and, crucially, allowing more flexibility in what clients paid up front in fees.

Scrutiny of Memphis is important, because the racial differences there are present across the country. Nationally, the odds of black debtors choosing Chapter 13 instead of Chapter 7 were more than twice as high as for white debtors with a similar financial profile. And once they chose Chapter 13, ProPublica found, the odds of their cases ending in dismissal—with no relief from their debts—were about 50 percent higher.

Meanwhile, the $0-down style of bankruptcy practiced in Memphis, long common across the South, is quietly growing in popularity elsewhere. Chicago in particular has seen an explosion of Chapter 13 filings in recent years. A recent study found that the “no money down” model is becoming more prevalent, prompting concerns that it is snaring increasing numbers of unsuspecting debtors and ultimately keeping them in debt….

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The New Jim Crow, very much like The Old Jim Crow…Just sneakier

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Posted by on October 5, 2017 in The New Jim Crow

 

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St Louis At The Precipice

In the span of a week this summer, juries opted against convicting three police officers charged in high-profile shootings that were captured on video. In each of those cases, the video and the case prompted protests and unrest. In each of those cases, prosecutors filed charges and decried what had happened. Each case ended with an acquittal, showing what law enforcement officials and experts say are the limitations of video evidence.

Remember, Missouri is the only state since the Civil Rights Era to be issued a “Travel Warning” by the NAACP for persons of color travelling through the State.With the reinstitution of Jim Crow by other means in the State, the Republican politician have created conditions where – you best go armed, and be ready to use it in my view.

Further street violence in Saint Louis is probable as people protest yet another murder by cop, even though we hope this doesn’t get into full scale rioting. What happened in LA in ’92 after the Rodney King verdict riot was a period of nearly 5 years of low-level warfare between the Police and community.So we have ample precedent for the path the white-right in Missouri is pursuing. When the government reacts to complaints by the citizens by exacerbating or increasing the reasons for the complaints…

At some point theng get really bad.

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Welcome to Watts.

Police and protesters clash in St. Louis after former officer who shot black driver acquitted on murder charges

Demonstrators clashed with police officers Friday night in St. Louis after the acquittal of a white former police officer who was charged with murder last year for fatally shooting a black driver after a car chase.

In a video tweeted after midnight on Saturday, St. Louis police chief Lawrence O’Toole said at least 23 people had been arrested as of 6 p.m., and 10 police officers had suffered injuries including a broken jaw and a dislocated shoulder.

“Many of the demonstrators were peaceful. However, after dark, many agitators began to destroy property and assault police officers,” O’Toole said in a joint video statement with Mayor Lyda Krewson.

O’Toole said the protesters assaulted police with bricks and bottles, and officers responded by using tear gas and firing pepper-spray balls as a “less lethal option.”

Roughly 1,000 protesters descended on the mayor’s home, throwing rocks and breaking windows, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. They were met by about 200 police in riot gear who tried to disperse them with tear gas. The mayor did not appear to be home.

The night of violence began with peaceful demonstrations earlier in the day after a judge acquitted former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley for killing Anthony Lamar Smith in December 2011.

In a court document submitted by the St. Louis circuit attorney, the investigator on the case said Stockley and another officer had been chasing Smith at speeds up to 80 m.p.h. when Stockley said he was “going to kill this motherf‑‑‑er, don’t you know it” and told the officer to drive into Smith’s slowing car.

The document said Stockley then approached Smith’s window and fired five times into the car, hitting Smith “with each shot” and killing him. In addition, prosecutors accused the officer of planting a gun on the victim: There was a gun found in Smith’s car, but it was later determined to have DNA only from Stockley.

Judge Timothy Wilson, the circuit judge who heard the case in a bench trial, acquitted Stockley on the murder charge as well as a charge of armed criminal action in a 30-page order released Friday morning.

Wilson wrote that he was “simply not firmly convinced” of Stockley’s guilt, saying that “agonizingly,” he went over the case’s evidence repeatedly. Ultimately, Wilson said, he was not convinced that the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Stockley “did not act in self-defense.”

Following the verdict, Smith’s mother, Annie, said the judge made the wrong decision.

“Justice wasn’t served. I can never be at peace,” she told Fox2Now.

In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Stockley, 36, who relocated to Houston, acknowledged the hurt Smith’s family is feeling. “I know everyone wants someone to blame,” he told the newspaper, “but I’m just not the guy.”

When asked why he agreed to address the case, tears filled his eyes. “Because I did nothing wrong,” he said. “If you’re telling the truth and you’ve been wrongly accused, you should shout it from the rooftops.”

A West Point graduate who served with the Army in Iraq, Stockley said that his job as a St. Louis cop grew so dangerous, he began carrying unauthorized weapons with extra rounds.

“I accept full responsibility for violating the rules,” he said. “But it’s not a moral crime. It’s a rule violation.”

Local and state officials said they were prepared for potential unrest following the acquittal. Some schools in the St. Louis area were shuttered and events in the region were postponed as the verdict loomed.

In the afternoon, police used pepper spray on protesters blocking their path, while demonstrators smashed the front windshield of a police SUV, the Post-Dispatch reported.

On Friday night, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R), who had put the state’s National Guard on standby ahead of the verdict and potential protests, chastised those who engaged in violence, saying it “is not going to be tolerated here in the state of Missouri.”

Before the verdict was announced, Greitens stood with Christina Wilson, Smith’s fiancee, to deliver a joint message asking people to protest peacefully.

“If you feel like you want to speak out, speak how you feel,” Wilson said at the news briefing. “And whatever comes to you, just do it in a peaceful way.”

Greitens, speaking after Wilson, urged people who felt pain after the verdict not to “turn that pain into violence.”

“One life has been lost in this case, and we don’t need more bloodshed,” he said.

The problem Ms Wilson, is it isn’t just “one life” – there have been four trials of Police Officers in the area in 4 months…All of which have resulted in acquittals. It is now a Public and personal safety issue, created by a racist and corrupt government at every level. I am not advocating killing Cops or violence, no will I support that in anything but self defense…But if you must go there because you feel there is no other solution – then aim a little higher in the food chain. The Cops cannot commit crimes unless here are criminals supporting their actions. You can expect no support form a Jeff Sessions DOJ at the Federal level, because they are now in cahoots with local government racists and oppressors.

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2017 in BlackLivesMatter, Second American Revolution

 

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Jesse Jackson’s Relevant Moment

Been a long time since Jesse Jackson had relevance. Yesterday, he hit the nail on the head.

The Chumph, once again – showed his true colors. The idea the a Jefferson Davis Sessions led FBI “investigating” racists is a joke.

The Chumph and Sessions are the people who have diverted the FBI from going after white supremacist terrorist groups in the US. White supremacists and neo-Nazi groups have been ecstatic.

KKK Jeff’s reopening of the white right’s search for the non-existent unicorn of discrimination against whites, and renewal of the racist attack on Affirmative Action further fuels the fire of white racists.

Renewal of the “Drug War” and mass Minority incarceration of Minorities as a method of social control.

It ain’t really about what these racist POSs say, it is what they do.

 

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NAACP Issues Travel Warning for Missouri

Welcome to the new Chumph confederacy…

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NAACP Warns Minorities, Women Heading To Missouri: ‘They May Not Be Safe’

The organization wants people to know their civil rights may be violated in the Show Me State.

NAACP delegates have approved a travel advisory warning marginalized groups that “they may not be safe” if they go to Missouri because their civil rights are likely to be violated.

The delegates voted Wednesday to nationally adopt the advisory, which was put in place statewide in June, according to the Springfield News-Leader. The advisory ― directed at people of color, women, people who identify as LGBTQ and those with disabilities ― cites recent legislation signed by Gov. Eric Greitens (R) that makes it even more difficult to sue for housing or employment discrimination.

NAACP Springfield chapter President Cheryl Clay and other chapter members emphasized that this is not a boycott, but a warning and a response to the legislation.

“Our ongoing issues of racial profiling, discrimination, harassment and excess violence towards people of color have been further exacerbated by the passage and signing of [Senate Bill] 43,” Clay said in a statement to the News-Leader.

“Not all the communities have the desire or the will to do the right thing for people in their community,” Clay added. “Thus, this is why Missouri has earned the travel advisory for the whole state.”

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In addition to the bill, the advisory condemns the state for a number of issues dating back to the Missouri Compromise of 1819. Those include “racial and ethnic disparities in education, health, economic empowerment and criminal justice,” a “long history” of racial violence and harassment, and recent data that shows black drivers were 75 percent more likely to be pulled over by cops than white drivers in 2016.

It also cites the racism that led to protests against University of Missouri in 2015 and a lawmaker’s comments on the House floor claiming that there’s a “distinction between homosexuality and just being a human being.”

Just days before the national delegation voted, Missouri NAACP President Rod Chapel told The Associated Press that he thinks “everybody’s civil rights are now in jeopardy.”

After the delegates approved the travel advisory, Chapel told the AP that he hopes the move will boost awareness. He said that the advisory will be up for ratification by the national board in October.

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Jordan Edwards Murderer Indicted

As we all know, a white policeman who has murdered a black man or child being indicted doesn’t mean much. No matter how damning the evidence or egregious the crime.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2017 in BlackLivesMatter

 

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Multiple Investigations Into Chumph Obstruction Of Justice

There are now multiple investigations in the Chump’s obstruction of justice relative to the Chumph-Russia collusion. One is headed by the Senate, and was kicked off by both the Republican and Democrat Chairs.

The other, and more interesting is the one kicked off by Special Prosecutor Mueller looking into a range of Chumph criminality at the FBI. The Special Counsel is looking into “Obstruction of Justice” in addition to Russia-Trump collusion, in addition to financial irregularities and money laundering, in addition to financial fraud, in addition to…

So many crimes, so little time…Indeed.

Special counsel is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, officials say

The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said.

The move by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump’s conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Investigators have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates, officials said.

Trump had received private assurances from then-FBI Director James B. Comey starting in January that he was not personally under investigation. Officials say that changed shortly after Comey’s firing.

Five people briefed on the interview requests, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said that Daniel Coats, the current director of national intelligence, Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, and Rogers’s recently departed deputy, Richard Ledgett, agreed to be interviewed by Mueller’s investigators as early as this week. The investigation has been cloaked in secrecy, and it is unclear how many others have been questioned by the FBI….More

 

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Even Republicans Are Tired of North Carolina Legislature Fascism

There come a time in everyone’s life when you see something, and recognize “This ain’t right”…

And respond to it.

It may be something as small as standing up for someone, or some idea being unfairly treated.

Sometimes its a big thing, putting your person in physical or legal danger.

The difference between American Patriots and the white-wing scum who have taken over the Republican Party is simply this…

Patriots believe in putting the values andd laws of our country over their Party.

Republican North Carolina judge resigns — and slams the GOP on the way out

In a dramatic response to a power-grab by Republicans in the North Carolina legislature, a Republican judge resigned today to circumvent efforts to strip power from the Democratic governor.

The Charlotte Observer reports that following today’s surprise resignation by Republican Judge J. Douglas McCullough, Democrat John Arrowood was sworn in. Judge McCullough worked as a staffer for Senator Harrison Schmitt (R-NM) before being appointed by President Ronald Reagan as United States Attorney in the eastern district of North Carolina.

Since Democrat Roy Cooper was elected Governor of North Carolina last fall, the Republican Legislature has gone to great lengths to strip his office of power. Yet with a three-sentence resignation letter this morning, Judge McCullough has proven that not all Republicans are willing to go along with shenanigans by legislative Republicans.

North Carolina has a mandatory retirement age for judges. To prevent the Democratic Party governor from appointing replacements for Court of Appeals judges nearing forced retirement, the Republican Legislature passed a bill to shrink the size of the court from 15 to 12 judges — thereby denying the Democrat of three scheduled appointments.

The legislation was vetoed on Friday, but a successful veto override was expected later tonight.

However, before the legislature could vote to override Governor Cooper’s veto of House Bill 239, Judge McCullough resigned 36 days prior to his forced retirement. This allowed the appointment of Judge Arrowood at 9:45 a.m. this morning.

“I did not want my legacy to be the elimination of a seat and the impairment of a court that I have served on,” Judge McCullough explained.

Newly sworn-in Judge John Arrowood is the first openly gay member of the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

 

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