Another Gun Lynching in Florida?

That Florida SYG Lynch law is having the intended effect…

That Assad guy over in Syria needs to pass one of these laws. Then he’d have the cons screaming to support genocide.

Now, I have no idea what the ethnicities or races are of the individuals involved are – but this is the result of conservative gun mania empowering murderers.

Back in the days when people called murder what it is

 

Florida Man Claims Self-Defense After Hopping A Fence To Shoot, Kill 21-Year-Old In A Hoodie

On Thursday, an Orlando man shot and killed a 21-year-old who was fleeing his yard. He didn’t appear to be stealing anything, according to witness accounts. He didn’t appear to be threatening anybody. But Claudius Smith said he feared he was a burglar, followed him over the fence to a neighboring apartment complex, where he shot him after he said he felt threatened, according to a confession documented in an Orlando Police Department report. Smith even said he feared victim Ricardo Sanes was armed “because his pants were falling down” and his hands were in his hoodie pockets, according to a report obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.

Now, questions are emerging about whether Smith will also invoke the state’s Stand Your Ground law, which gained notoriety over the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, shot in a Florida residential development while wearing a hoodie. Law enforcement officials don’t seem to believe Stand Your Ground applies. Smith has already been charged with second-degree murder. But that doesn’t stop a judge from granting Stand Your Ground immunity later. In one of the most recent Florida court decisions on Stand Your Ground, an appeals court granted Stand Your Ground immunity to a man who went to his car to get a gun before the fatal incident.

According to statements by Smith’s girlfriend, Angela Kemraj, to police, the incident started when she saw a man in the yard on surveillance cameras and reported it to Smith. She said they saw the individual in dark clothes and a hoodie leaving their yard without anything in his hands, and climbing over the fence to a neighboring apartment complex. Smith then left the apartment and climbed over the fence. Two minutes later, Kemraj said she heard gunshots. Soon after, Smith came back to the apartment and said Sanes tried to rob him, without mentioning the shooting. During initial police questioning, Smith later denied knowledge about the shooting, and only later confessed, claiming he shot in self-defense.

Exorcism in Maryland Results in Death of Two Children

Proving that the Tea Party didn’t quite get every nutcase in America elected last term…

And the possible impact of watching one too many Twilight reruns.

This is another datapoint in why we, as a country – need to get a hell of a lot better on access to, and treatment of mental illness in our midst. Up to and including re-establishing long term facilities supporting the poor and middle class. Conservative “saint” Raygun kicked the mentally ill out of hospitals and onto the street as homeless, and the country has been paying a high toll for that bit of conservative “logic” ever since.

Police: Md. mother kills 2 kids while performing exorcism

 

GERMANTOWN, Md. (WUSA9) — A mother killed two of her own children while performing an exorcism in Germantown, Md., police said.

Montgomery County police have charged two women for murder in the Friday deaths of a 1-year-old boy and 2-year-old girl.

Zakieya Latrice Avery, the mother of the children is charged with two counts of first-degree murder for the killings, and two counts of attempted first-degree murder, as two other children remain hospitalized after Friday’s attack. Avery, 28, of the 19000 block of Cherry Bend Drive in Germantown, is being held without bond.

Monifa Denise Sanford, 21, who was also at the scene, has been released from the hospital and has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of the two kids and two counts of attempted murder for two children who are still in the hospital. She is also being held without bond.

Police identified the deceased children as Norell N. Harris, a 1-year-old male, and Zyana Z. Harris, a 2-year-old female.

The hospitalized children are identified as Taniya Harris, a 5-year-old female, and Martello Harris, a 8-year-old male.

People have laid down flowers, candles, and teddy bears in front of the home where the two children were killed and the two others were injured. A vigil was held Saturday night to remember the small children who were stabbed to death.

“It’s kind of horrifying for any father, any grandfather,” State’s Attorney John McCarthy said Friday. “These are hard cases,” he said, his voice breaking.

There has been no update on the condition of Taniya or Martello.

Duke Rape Accuser – Crystal Magnum Convicted of Murder

The woman who was at the center of the firestorm caused by her false accusation of 3 Duke University Lacrosse players having raped her, has been convicted of murder in the stabbing death of her boyfriend…

 

McBride Killer to Be Tried

There is an old cultural myth in the South, of a farmer protecting his fields from theft by kids with a shotgun loaded with rock salt.  Of course this was in the times before the NRA armed every moron in America with lethal weapons or mass murder, and the racist right terrorized the public into committing, what has become genocide. The farmer certainly realized the loss of a couple of ears of corn wasn’t worth taking someones life, and was seeking to install a moral lesson by way of a painful warning.

As a kid growing up in an area which still had a fair amount of rural expanse – I can certainly remember a few times when a motorist knocked on the door in need of a phone to call for help due to a breakdown or accident. This was the days before we all (or anyone) had cell phones, little ones. As an aside, I can remember as a really little guy of about 5 or 6 visiting my Uncle’s farm in the country, and they had Party Lines. Of course in those days before the terror induced by he gun crazies, the first response to someone knocking on the front door, wasn’t to grab you gun and shoot the visitor.

Now, I have been a gun owner since I was 7, and with relatives who lived in rural areas of the Tidewater and mountains, grew up with folks where hunting and fishing was a way of life. In those days before the Tea Bagged Reich created the Jim Crow “Stand Your Ground” excuse for murder, we had what was called a “Threshold Law”. Ergo, if some Republican decided to dance buck naked on your porch and howl at the moon – it was a matter for law enforcement. If same Republican forced their way into your house (across the threshold) then you were within your rights to use deadly force if necessary. Of course a pot of hot water, or the Al Green Treatment (a pan full of hot grits) would likely prove to be a sufficient enough re-education lesson for all but the most “Cruz”esque of intruders…

But then, in the fast-food infected modern America, a pot of hot water might be pretty hard to come by.

Why are black murder victims put on trial?

Renisha McBride’s toxicology report is out and now we know the 19-year-old had a blood-alcohol level that was more than twice the legal limit for driving. This would explain why, according to her family, she was involved in a single-car accident.

However, it does not explain why Theodore Wafer shot her in the face.

McBride’s family says she was seeking help after the crash and knocked on the door of Wafer’s house in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. The 54-year-old Wafer, who is white, told investigators he feared McBride, who is black, was trying to break in.

There are too many unanswered questions to know exactly what happened that night. But we do know this: If a black man told police officers “self-defense” was the reason why he shot an unarmed white teenage girl in the face with his shotgun, it would not have taken protests, national media attention and nearly two weeks for authorities to reject that excuse.

And this is why McBride’s death — ruled a homicide after protests and national media attention — draws comparisons to that of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen shot and killed by George Zimmerman, who is of white and Latino heritage, last year. Continue reading

Motive Emerges in Pastor Shooting

A motive has emerged as the cause of the Pastor hooting in Lake Charles, Louisiana… Turns out the Reverend and the shooter’s (Woodrow Cary) wife had been in some sort of sexual relationship. It is unclear at this time whether that relationship was voluntary on her part.

Woodrow Cary, the accused shooter of Pastor Ronald J Harris

Sexual relationship between pastor, gunman’s wife being investigated as motive for shooting

Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso addressed the media today regarding the case of a pastor who was shot and killed in front of his congregation.

“This is a shooting that took place in front of 60 some people, so it’s going to take time to come to a conclusion,” he said. “It will not just take days but several weeks to get to the truth and the bottom of this.”

Sheriff Mancuso explained that the high-profile and public nature of this crime has led to a number of rumors and interest from the media. He also noted that those rumors prompted a phone call from the FBI.

“There’s a lot of speculation as to what took place and the motive in this case and I’m going to tell you that we are going to proceed with great caution in this investigation,” he said. “You have so many rumors going on that it sometimes clouds the water for our investigation.”

The incident took place on Friday, Sept. 27 at the Tabernacle of Praise Worship Center. Woodrow Karey, Jr., 53, walked into the church and shot Pastor Ronald J. Harris, Sr., twice. He then fled the scene and called law enforcement shortly thereafter.

“It’s my understanding that they were great friends at some point,” Sheriff Mancuso explained. “I’m sure we’re going to get responses from both sides saying that they are great people.”

The possible motive investigators are currently working to confirm is that Pastor Harris was involved in some sort of sexual relationship with Karey’s wife.

“[A week before the actual shooting, Karey] stated that he had received some inappropriate images from his wife to Pastor Harris,” Sheriff Mancuso said. “Then, evidently, he confronted his wife and she filed a rape charge against Pastor Harris on Wednesday, September 25.”

Deputies were unable to interview Pastor Harris regarding the rape allegation before he was shot and killed on Friday.

“That’s where we are in this investigation,” he said. “At this time the charges against Mr. Karey are appropriate based on the information we have.”

Karey is being held in the Calcasieu Parish Correctional Center for Second-Degree Murder. His bond was set at $1 million.

Pastor Shot…During Sermon

Yeah…There is something wrong in this country…

And it isn’t just the medically “crazy” people.

When you were talking about “Some of our Church Members,,,” You weren’t talking about me, were you Rev?

Pastor Ronald J. Harris Sr. Shot, Killed While Preaching During Church Service In Lake Charles Louisiana

A Louisiana pastor was fatally shot as he preached to a crowd of more than 60 during a revival service Friday night, and a suspect has been arrested, law enforcement officials said.

The shooting occurred about 8:20 p.m. Friday at Tabernacle of Praise Worship Center in Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Kim Myers said Saturday. Sixty-five people were inside at the time, including the victim’s wife, Chief Deputy Stitch Guillory said.

Deputies have no information on a motive or on whether the two men knew each other, Myers said.

A gunman walked into the church and shot Pastor Ronald J. Harris Sr. “as he was preaching,” Myers said. Harris was pronounced dead at the scene.

Woodrow Karey, 53, of Lake Charles is charged with second-degree murder and was held in the parish jail Saturday, Myers said. Meyers said Karey’s bond has been set at $1 million.

The gunman fled the church, but Myers said Karey called the Sheriff’s Office and surrendered without incident.

Myers added Saturday that deputies were busy “interviewing everybody who was there at the church.”

Family members who answered the telephone Saturday at the Harris home in Lake Charles said there would be no comment. There was no answer at a telephone listing for Karey or at Tabernacle of Praise.

Stand Your Moron! Road Rage Incident With CCW Gun Holders

Sometimes, there is justice in the world…

All on 3 now…1..2…

Drivers Shoot Each Other Dead in Road Rage Spat

Two people died Wednesday night after shooting each other following an apparent road rage incident in Ionia.

“In follow up to yesterday’s shooting, the two deceased men are James Pullum, 43, and Robert Taylor, 56, both of Ionia,” according to the Ionia Department of Public Safety Facebook page Thursday morning.

The men were pronounced dead at Sparrow Ionia Hospital later in the evening.

The incident happened just before 7 p.m. in the parking lot of the Wood’s Wonder Wand car wash, 426 S. Steele St. The men apparently got out of their vehicles and began arguing. Both men eventually took out their guns and opened fire.

Witnesses said they heard about seven or eight gunshots.

Ionia Department of Public Safety Director Troy Thomas told 24 Hour News 8 both men had valid concealed carry licenses.

Photos: Police investigate apparent road rage deaths

“I think it’s crazy that a small town has to have two people die,” witness Allen Daggett, who arrived at the scene just as first responders did, said Wednesday night. “I feel sorry for the people that died. I feel sorry for the families and everyone’s [who is] acquainted with them,” he said.

Daggett told 24 Hour News 8 he saw a good Samaritan from a nearby business run to the scene to try to help. He said the man had to kick guns out of the way to begin CPR on the drivers.

“I watch [the first responders] pick one guy up and take him to the hospital,” said Daggett. “[They] did CPR on the guy for 45 minutes and the guy I doubt was alive at the time.”

At least one handgun remained in between the vehicles late Wednesday night as police investigated.

Another witness, who was at the Family Video across the street from the shooting, told 24 Hour News 8 she heard a sound like firecrackers and then screaming. She said emergency crews, including two ambulances, arrived a short time later.

A Michigan State Police mobile crime lab arrived around 11 p.m. at the scene, which was still very active.

Condo Remembers Denise McNair, 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing in 1963

Interesting – because prior to now, I don’t remember seeing anywhere that Condo talked about any of this. Condo’s father was not in the Civil Rights Movement, choosing instead to take a back seat. The ethics of that are up to debate…

As well as Condo’s ethics in working for the Bush Administration. While I don’t believe there is any evidence that GW is a bigot, there is more than a little evidence that some of the folks he brought to Washington were and are. The nuances of whether she could have done more not taking the job, or accomplished more by taking the job are also open to debate. Calling Condo a latter day Hattie McDaniels is unfair. Calling her a failure because of her role in a failed Presidency..isn’t.

I think this reaction is because of he Trayvon Martin murder. Like the George Zimmerman trial, initial efforts to convict the murderers were stymied, with the first conviction not coming for another 14 years, with others not being convicted until 30 years later. Justice in some parts of America moves much more slowly for some people.

American actress Hattie McDaniel (1895 – 1952) with her Academy Award of Merit for Outstanding Achievement, circa 1945. McDaniel won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role of Mammy in ‘Gone With The Wind’, making her the first African-American to win an Academy Award.

Condoleezza Rice Recalls Birmingham Bombing That Killed Childhood Friend

When a church bombing killed four young black girls on a quiet Sunday morning in 1963, life for a young Condoleezza Rice changed forever.

The racial attack on the 16th Street Baptist Church, in the former secretary of state’s hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, rocked the nation and led to sweeping changes in laws governing civil rights.

But for Rice, just 8 years old at the time, the tragedy meant the death of a little girl she used to play dolls with, and the loss of her own youthful sense of security.

“As an 8-year-old, you don’t think about terror of this kind,” said Rice, who recounted on Friday her memory of the bombing and its aftermath in remarks to a gathering of civic leaders in Birmingham as part of several days of events leading up to the 50th anniversary of the bombing on Sept. 15.

Rice’s hometown had become a place too dangerous for black children to leave their own neighborhoods, or go downtown and visit Santa Claus, or go out of the house after dark.

“There was no sanctuary. There was no place really safe,” she said.

Rice’s friend, 11-year-old Denise McNair, died in the blast along with 14-year-olds Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins and Cynthia Wesley. Their deaths at the hands of Ku Klux Klan members garnered national support for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Events for the 50th anniversary of the bombing will include a screening of filmmaker Spike Lee’s new documentary, “Four Little Girls,” and a memorial service on Sunday scheduled to include U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Rice has a treasured photo of her friend accepting a kindergarten certificate from Rice’s father, who was a pastor at another church. McNair had gone to preschool there. McNair’s father was the community photographer, documenting birthday parties and weddings in happier times.

“Everyone in the black community knew one of those girls,” Rice said.

Her father told her the bombing had been done by “hateful men,” she said, but it was an act that later uncovered something ultimately good.

“Out of great tragedy, people began to recognize our humanity, and it brought people together,” said Rice.

The bombing left its mark on her even as an adult, when as U.S. Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, she used the experience to understand the plight of Palestinian and Israeli victims of bombs and attacks during peace negotiations.

“I told them I know what it is like for a Palestinian mother, who has to tell her child they can’t go somewhere,” Rice said, “and how it is for an Israeli mother, who puts her child to bed and wonders if the child will be alive in the morning.”

But with all of the progress made in civil rights during the 50 years since the blast, Rice cites education as the biggest impediment to equality in modern times.

She expressed dismay at racial disparities in the quality of education for minorities and criticized the “soft bigotry of low expectations” in a system she said challenges black students less than others.

“Even racism can’t be an excuse for not educating our kids,” she said. “If a kid cannot read, that kid is done. A child in a bad school doesn’t have time for racism to be eradicated. They have to learn today.”

A Stained Glass window in the 16th Street Baptist Church after the bombing.

Notorious Florida “Reform” School, Jim Crow… and Dead Boys

 

 

Many of the boys sent to the Dozier School for Boys were black. Caught up in Florida’s Jim Crow justice system of the time.

Florida to exhume remains found at notorious Dozier School for Boys

Investigators have been given permission to exhume remains found at the notorious Arthur G Dozier School for Boys in Florida, which closed in 2011 following pupils’ revelations of widespread physical and sexual abuse.

Governor Rick Scott and the rest of Florida’s cabinet voted unanimously on Tuesday to allow dozens of unmarked graves found in woods near the school to be opened up. The decision comes after a team of researchers found evidence of almost 100 deaths at the institution.

“We are not exactly sure what happened there, but we know it was not good,” Florida attorney general Pam Bondi said during Tuesday’s meeting. “It’s something we as Floridians can’t ignore.”

The University of South Florida was commissioned to look into deaths at the Dozier School, in the panhandle city of Marianna after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced the presence of 31 grave sites in 2010.

A “funeral” for one of the black inmates

A team of anthropologists and archaeologists found that 45 people had been buried on school grounds between 1914 and 1952, with 31 bodies sent elsewhere for burial. There were 22 more cases in which no burial site was listed.

Of the 98 deaths they confirmed, two were adult staff members and the rest children aged from six to 18.

Many of the graves were unmarked and had been lost in the woods under brush and trees.

Human bones found in dig at notorious Dozier reform school in Florida

Teams of searchers recovered human bones from the sands of Florida Panhandle woodlands on Saturday in a “boot hill” graveyard where juveniles who disappeared from a notorious reform school more than a half-century ago are believed to have been secretly buried.

“We have found evidence of burial hardware – hinges on coffins,” said Dr. Christian Wells, an anthropologist from the University of South Florida, in a briefing about a mile from the closed excavation site near the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys.

“There appear to be a few pieces associated with burial shrouds, and there are pins consistent with the 1920s and 1930s, – based on the style of the pins – and they appear to be brass,” he said.

Some “large-bone fragments” were found on the first day of digging, Wells said. They were human bones, he added, but it was impossible to know if they came from any of the teenaged boys who were housed at Dozier during its infamous 111-year existence. The school was closed in mid-2011.

The notorious Whitehouse where boys were taken to be systematically beaten and sexually abused by school staff.

The bones will be examined in laboratories at the University of South Florida and the University of North Texas, as part of a program funded by the U.S. Department of Justice and state of Florida.

After forensic investigators, using ground-piercing radar and old public records, detected 31 spots showing possible human remains, researchers planted crude white crosses on a nearby hillside to commemorate the unaccounted-for boys.

Some former residents of Dozier, now in their 60s and 70s, have told of brutal beatings and boys – mostly black juveniles – disappearing without explanation more than 50 years ago. Blood relatives of some of the boys have given DNA samples, to be matched against evidence taken from the skeletal remains.

Earlier on Saturday, Dr. Erin Kimmerle, a forensic anthropologist from USF, met with some family members and survivors.

“We’re approaching it much like you would an archeological excavation,” Kimmerle said. “It’s all done carefully and by hand.”

‘Never had a chance’
Tananarive Due, who came to the dig with some family members, said her great-uncle, Robert Stephens, died at the school in 1937.

“The story was … he tried to run away at one point,” she said. “The official cause of death was a stabbing by another inmate, that’s what it was listed as. But with so many of these boys, who knows how they died? Their families never had a chance to say ‘good-bye’ to their loved ones.”

Johnny Lee Gaddy, 67, said he was locked up from 1957 to 1961 for truancy. He said he was severely beaten, but in his teens became a good farm worker, hoping to get released.

Gaddy said he had heard of teens disappearing without explanation.

“I know some they said went home, but they hadn’t been here long enough to go home,” Gaddy said. “They said some others ran away or were transferred to other places. We never saw any bodies or funerals.”

According to Florida State records, all boys which died at the Dozier School were buried in the same Cemetery. In reality, black children who were killed by the guards or died by accident were buried in unmarked graves on other parts of the property.

John Due, father of Tananarive, said descendants and civil-rights activists who pressed the state for disclosure of what happened to the young men ran into rigid resistance from authorities for decades.

“People didn’t want to talk about it, and we found that particularly among black families,” he said. “That’s what racism does. It beats you down and you think you don’t matter, so you won’t speak up.”

The forensic teams will work through Tuesday. Remains that can be identified will be re-interred at family plots and any unidentified remains will be numbered and buried – with records kept for later return to families, if any come forward.

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.

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.

Why Travon Martin’s Murder Is a Watershed

Val Nickolas hits the nail on the head.Why most black men think the Zimmerman trial was a travesty.

Went through a couple of these experiences myself growing up, and later as an adult. Getting stopped in a$70,000 car, in a suit, with my then 80 year old mother 2 blocks from my house in a very nice neighborhood on the way home from taking her out to dinner… For having a loose license plate screw.

Had my Zimmerman moment as a teen, when I and two friends stopped by the local McDonalds for a meal. The driver was a couple of years older, and was known around the community as a bit of a bad ass. He later became a County Policeman and served with distinction for 30 some years. A car with four young white men first attempted to ram us in the parking lot as we drove out – missing us by a few inches. My older friend said “Forget it – they are probably a bunch of drunks”, and kept going without saying a word to the other driver. Half way home, we noticed the car full of guys was following us. We took a couple of turns through streets which basically took us around the block and back to the main, two  lane road (the area was pretty country at that time) – the car followed our every move. As the numbers were 4 to 3,we figured those guys weren’t interested in a stand up fight. They probably were armed. My friend carried a sawed-off under the seat (I said he was a bad ass) – but we didn’t want to force a confrontation on the road. I suggested we go to my house, which had a long circular driveway, shielded by a row of bushes and a wall. My Dad, who was out of town with my Mom, kept loaded guns by the doors after having the house shot at because of their involvement in the Civil Rights Movement (He never was real big on that “peaceful” stuff). When we pulled into the drive, the two non-drivers would jump out through the hedge unseen, and circle around to the house, letting ourselves in and collecting Dad’s venerable Pump and Double Barrel. IF the clowns followed us into the driveway, they would be faced with a three sided ambush, with no way out as the driveway would be blocked by our car, and the wall on one side, and the side of the garage on the other…

Which is exactly what happened.  We made them get out, and besides a case of beer, found two revolvers when we searched them and the car. We took the bullets, removed the cylinders, and tossed the revolver frames into the car – and collected 6 beers from the stash for our efforts. And with a graphic description of what was going to happen if we ever saw them in our town again…

Sent them on their way with instructions as to where to find their revolver cylinders in a few days.

Those guys were so shook up we never saw them again, and they never did pick up their revolver cylinders which we set atop a fence post at the end of a dead end farm road.

Story could have been a lot different…But those beers were damn good.

Had another friend who managed to get stopped 3 times the same day by the same cop, supposedly looking for a robber on his way to visit his girl friend in the next county. Cop as hell on aged blue Mustangs.

I could have been Trayvon Martin

The Don Imus controversy a while back brought racial discrimination into the national conversation. But for many African-Americans like me it dug up a lot of deep, suppressed memories of hateful things that have been said and done to us over the years. Things we thought we had moved past but came screaming back like a freight train into our lives again.

For me, it was the George Zimmerman trial that sparked my memory. As a vice president in a national news division, I watched the trial through an objective lens my eyes have long been trained to look through. However at the end of the trial, those long suppressed memories made an unwelcomed hello.

I grew up in a military family and we always lived in middle class neighborhoods. I was an honor studentin high school as well as a student athlete running track. I even had an after-school job to earn spending money. That said, twice as a teen, I ended up looking down the barrel of police guns for no other reason that I happened to be a black teenager. I had completely forgotten about these incidents but the Zimmerman verdict opened that door again.

The first time, I was merely waiting for a bus to go to my job. Suddenly two California Highway Patrol vehicles jumped over the concrete middle island and they came screaming to a halt on either side of me kicking up a huge cloud of dust.

My first instinct was to run away but before I could figure out how to handle this, an officer from each car jumped out with handguns pointed at me, screaming for me to put my hands up and get down on the ground.

I started to ask what was going on, but they were having none of it and forcibly pushed me down into the dirt making my work clothes a filthy mess. They then asked me if I was the name of someone they were looking for. I told them no and they demanded ID. I did not have a driver’s license yet but fortunately I did have a picture ID from work. If I had not had that ID, I would have surely ended up in jail. After they realized they had the wrong guy, they got back in their cars and drove off. No apology, no checking if I was OK, no nothing.

It was the first time I came to realize that being black was not just a magnet for racist speech and actions directed at me but also could also cost me my life had I responded to a normal human being’s natural fight or flight instinct.

The second time was while I was in a convenience store, and a voice from behind me told me not to move a muscle. I glanced back and saw a shotgun pointed at the back of my head. I thought I was being robbed and I had an envelope in my coat pocket with money I had just cashed from my paycheck. I was thinking about trying to get it out and hide it in the snack display in front of me.

Had I done that, I would have died on the spot…

Another great piece on “Waking Up”  was written by Leonard Pitts for the Miami Herald -

Leonard Pitts Jr.: Zimmerman acquittal another reason to wake up

Four words of advice for African Americans in the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal:

Wake the hell up.

The Sunday after Zimmerman went free was a day of protest for many of us. From Biscayne Boulevard in Miami to Leimert Park in Los Angeles, to the Daley Center in Chicago to Times Square in New York City, African Americans — and others who believe in racial justice — carried out angry, but mostly peaceful demonstrations.

Good. This is as it should have been.

But if that’s the end, if you just get it out of your system, then move ahead with business as usual, then all you did Sunday was waste your time. You might as well have stayed home.

We are living in a perilous era for African-American freedom. The parallels to other eras have become too stark to ignore.

Every period of African-American advance has always been met by a crushing period of push back, the crafting of laws and the use of violence with the intent of eroding the new freedoms. Look it up:

The 13th Amendment ended slavery. So the white South created a convict leasing system that was actually harsher.

The 14th Amendment guaranteed citizenship. So the white South rendered that citizenship meaningless with the imposition of Jim Crow laws.

The 15th Amendment gave us the right to vote; it was taken away by the so-called “grandfather clause.” The Supreme Court struck that down, so the white South relied on literacy tests and poll taxes to snatch our ballots all over again.

Our history is a litany: two steps forward, one step back…

 

Read more here:

 

85 Years For Stalking Wife

The American Justice System is a joke.

Admittedly this guy needed to go to jail… But 85 Years?

You can’t get that for Murder in most states.

And after the George Zimmerman trial – you are under less of a risk to go to jail at all committing murder of black children.

Pr. George’s man who used social media to stalk ex-wife sentenced to 85 years

A Hyattsville man accused of posing as his ex-wife online and posting ads soliciting sex from strangers was sentenced Thursday to 85 years in prison.

Michael A. Johnson II created a Craigslist ad with abhorrent titles advertising sex from his ex-wife, according to court papers. The ads attracted about 50 men to the woman’s house, including some who tried to break in, the records said.

“It’s hard to imagine doing this to someone you once loved,” Prince George’s County Circuit Judge Maureen M. Lamasney said in court.

The case is among several nationwide in which people have been accused of stealing their victim’s online persona and postingInternet ads offering sex.

The woman told The Washington Post in a recent interview that she resorted to buying a shotgun and staying up all night pointing it at the door. She said she found several fake profiles in her name on sites including Facebook and the pornography aggregator XTube. One of the ads offered up her three children for sex and included their photos.

“This wasn’t just a case of him sending e-mails,” the woman said in court. “He changed my life and my children’s lives forever.”

“We felt like refugees in our own home, no one should have to live like that,” added the woman, who asked not to be identified for fear of continued harassment.

The woman obtained a restraining order against her ex-husband after he assaulted her in 2011, wrapping his hands around her neck, court papers say. After that incident, the cyber-terror began in earnest.

Johnson was convicted in June of more than 70 counts, including stalking, reckless endangerment and violations of a protective order.

Another Black Teen Murdered

In this one a 75 Year old white man shoots an unarmed teen doing house chores bringing in the empty garbage cans.

Two differences between this and the Trayvon, this one had a video recording of it by the murderer’s “security camera” so it was hard to cover up…

And it wasn’t in a Stand Your Ground Get Away With Murder of Black Kids State.

John Henry Spooner Shooting VIDEO: Evidence Shows Darius Simmons Killed

John Henry Spooner has been found guilty of first-degree intentional homicide in the fatal shooting of Darius Simmons.

ORIGINAL STORY – A video entered as evidence in the murder trial of John Henry Spooner on Tuesday appears to show the 76-year-old shooting his 13-year-old neighbor Darius Simmons dead.

The Milwaukee senior is charged with first-degree homicide after the alleged incident in May last year. Jurors saw the video (below), taken from Spooner’s ownsurveillance camera, that shows the suspect walk out of his house, brandishing a gun. After a short argument, the man in the video waves the gun around before he shoots Simmons in the chest. Simmons manages to flee outside the scope of the camera before dying.

Another Trayvon…

Now that a kangaroo court in Florida has declared it legal to murder unarmed black boys…

Trial begins for Wis. man, 76, charged with shooting 13-year-old neighbor over alleged theft

Jurors were selected Monday in the case of a 76-year-old white man charged with gunning down a 13-year-old black boy last year on a Milwaukee sidewalk over a theft allegation.

The proceedings come two days after a jury acquitted George Zimmerman in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., last year. In the Milwaukee shooting, which has been compared to the Florida case, John Henry Spooner is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the May 2012 death of his next-door neighbor, Darius Simmons.

Spooner suspected Simmons of breaking into his Milwaukee home and stealing guns, prosecutors said. Spooner confronted the teen on the sidewalk two days after the weapons came up missing and demanded that he return them. When Simmons denied stealing anything, Spooner shot him in the chest from five feet away as the teen’s mother watched, according to the criminal complaint.

Spooner then fired a second shot as Simmons tried to run away, the complaint said. Police recovered a weapon and two spent bullet casings.

An autopsy found that Simmons, who was unarmed, suffered a gunshot wound to his torso. The bullet exited his back.

Witnesses said Spooner paced up and down the sidewalk after the shooting until police arrived. They arrested him without incident.

Spooner’s defense attorney, Franklyn Gimbel, conceded that Spooner shot Simmons but said he would argue that he didn’t intend to kill the boy. Gimbel also said he had an expert who would testify that Spooner had a mental illness at the time of shooting that prevented him from knowing right from wrong.

The morning of the shooting, Spooner and Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan ate breakfast together. Donovan said Spooner told him he had lost $3,000 worth of shotguns in a burglary that week and was frustrated with police. He also told Donovan that he was dying of lung cancer, Donovan said.

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