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Democrats In House Finally Grow Some Cajones

If the Institution refuses to do the peoples work, then it is time to bring the Institution to its knees. Democrats should have been doing this all along. By any means necessary…

Democrats Stage Sit-In On House Floor Over Gun Bills

Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis led the charge. “We will be silent no more.”

Democrats literally sat down on the floor of the House chamber on Wednesday — and forced the House into a temporary recess — as part of an effort to compel Republican leadership to vote on gun control legislation.

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the civil rights icon who led sit-ins all through the 1960s, spearheaded the effort with a fiery, sermon-like denunciation of Congress for its failure to act in the wake of mass shootings.

“For months, even for years, through seven sessions of Congress, I wondered, what would bring this body to take action?” Lewis said while Democrats slowly surrounded him at the microphone. “We have lost hundreds and thousands of innocent people to gun violence. Tiny little children. Babies. Students. And teachers. Mother and fathers. Sisters and brothers. Daughters and sons. Friends and neighbors. And what has this body done? Mr. Speaker, not one thing.”

After about 10 minutes of escalating questions — and shouting, “Where is our soul? Where is our courage?” — Lewis said it was time for Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to bring up some of the pending gun control bills. In the meantime, he said, he’d just take a seat. Moments later, he sat down on the floor. And so did all the other Democrats with him.

“Sometimes you have to do something out of the ordinary. Sometimes you have to make a way out of no way. We’ve been quiet for too long,” Lewis said. “Now is the time to get in the way. We will be silent no more. The time for silence is over.”

As another Democrat began to speak, the Republican lawmaker sitting in the chair gaveled the House into a temporary recess until noon. The House cut off the C-SPAN cameras that normally broadcast the floor. Later, when lawmakers reconvened, Democratic members still refused to budge, forming a circle in the well of the floor while chanting. Republicans were forced to gavel into recess once more.

It’s not clear what GOP leaders plan to do now.

“The House cannot operate without members following the rules of the institution, so the House has recessed subject to the call of the chair,” said Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong.

In the absence of cameras, Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) broadcast clips on Twitter of members speaking. C-SPAN then broadcast Periscope and Facebook Live streams of the action.

Democratic senators also showed up to stand or sit with their colleagues. Among them were: Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Chris Coons (Del.), Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Al Franken (Minn.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Chris Murphy (Conn.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii). Presidential candidate and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)joined late in the afternoon.

Lewis’ effort was a dramatic attempt to force the hand of Republicans before the chamber adjourns later this week for a weeklong recess. But it’s not the only disruption House Democrats are planning. According to multiple aides and lawmakers, Democrats will try to essentially hijack the House floor both Wednesday and Thursday in an effort to get gun control measures a hearing.

The “No Bill, No Break” campaign centers on clever and repeated use of procedural rules. Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) has already tried and failed, twice, to bring up legislation to deny people on the no-fly list the right to purchase a firearm.

But the extent of the party’s plans has been kept largely under wraps out of concern that Republicans would move to undermine the strategy. Several aides have described it as a “disruption” campaign. One Democratic lawmaker said the party was “devising a variety of parliamentary tactics to pressure the GOP in D.C. this week, then in individual districts next week during recess.”

“Watch the floor carefully this week,” the lawmaker added.

The old Lion finally roars.

 
 

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Another One Bites the Dust – Republican Mayor Leaves Party Due to the Chumph

What I suspect is the beginning of an avalanche…

GOP Mayor Leaves Republican Party, In Part Because Of Donald Trump

“For the first time in my life, I cannot support the Republican nominee for president.”

After determining that he cannot support Donald Trump as his party’s presidential nominee, a Republican lawmaker has abandoned the party altogether — a sign of growing discontent within GOP ranks.

Danny Jones, the four-term mayor of Charleston, West Virginia, announced Friday that he changed his party identification to “unaffiliated.”

“For the first time in my life, I cannot support the Republican nominee for president,” Jones told the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Jones, who has been a Republican for 45 years, said that in November he will vote for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson for president.

In leaving the GOP, Jones also cited his opposition to the more conservative members of West Virginia’s state legislature, who have backed so-called religious freedom laws that make it legal for businesses to discriminate against LGBT individuals. The West Virginia legislation is part of a wave of similar laws nationwide.

“I’m basically a city guy, and I believe [in] live and let live and stay out of each other’s bedroom,” Jones said.

Jones is not the only GOP lawmaker fleeing his party because of Trump. Earlier this month, Iowa State Sen. David Johnson (R) became the first elected official to leave the GOP because of Trump after the real estate mogul launched racist attacks against a federal judge, sending Republican lawmakers into a tailspin.

“I will not stand silent if the party of Lincoln and the end of slavery buckles under the racial bias of a bigot,” Johnson said.

This week, disunity among Republicans escalated further as Trump’s response to the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, gave party leaders pause. Republicans raced to condemn Trump’s rhetoric, and some who had supported his candidacy tried to distance themselves. Other Republicans still on the fence about backing Trump have raised the possibility of challenging him at the convention in July.

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2016 in The Clown Bus

 

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Bringing Racist Policing to It’s Knees in Cleveland

Not sure why the Republicans chose to have their convention in Cleveland – but with the atmosphre created by their current candidate it’s going to be one hell of a mess.

In the meantime, in the city whose police murdered Tamir Rice and got away with it…There is change afoot.

The Preacher Who Took on the Police

Cop shootings have torn apart Cleveland. Jawanza Colvin says the way to heal the city is to root out racism from the legal system.

CLEVELAND — One night in February, a black preacher put the prosecutors on trial.

It had been two months since the prosecutor’s office in Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County persuaded a grand jury not to indict a white police officer who had shot and killed Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy, in a city park.

Now the prosecutor was running for reelection, and with the primary a month away, the Rev. Jawanza Karriem Lightfoot Colvin saw an opportunity to indict a judicial system that he had come to believe was rigged against black people. He and the activist group he co-founded summoned the two candidates—embattled county prosecutor Tim McGinty and challenger Mike O’Malley—to a forum at a synagogue in a Cleveland suburb.

There, Colvin thundered like judge, jury and executioner: “If you were young, poor, a minority of color, or one who lived in the city, you were profiled, arrested, charged, indicted, convicted and sentenced at an alarming, disproportionate level.” His preacher’s cadence brought the crowd of 1,000 at the Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple to its feet—black and white, Jewish and Christian.

“We want action now! We want change now! We want reform now!” Colvin proclaimed. “Not next year, not next election! Not ’til the next death, the next tragedy, the next trial, the next press conference! We want it now!”

He had to wait just four weeks. McGinty lost the primary on March 15, all but assuring O’Malley of election in November. The vote further raised the local profile of a young religious leader who has vaulted to prominence in the wake of the Tamir Rice case. Some in this key city in a crucial swing state see what he has accomplished on an issue that has embroiled the entire country and predict that it might propel Colvin onto the national political stage.

Colvin, 41, is the pastor of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, a large and storied African-American congregation in Cleveland, and he has taken a very different and far more aggressive approach to activism than older black ministers from the civil-rights generation. As co-founder of Greater Cleveland Congregations, a five-year-old community organizing group, Colvin has built alliances across majority-white Cuyahoga County on social justice issues. After Rice’s death and a damning report from the U.S. Justice Department, Colvin stood nearly alone among the city’s politically involved black ministers in challenging Frank Jackson, Cleveland’s popular African-American mayor, and publicly pressuring City Hall for changes in how Cleveland is policed.

“I would’ve liked to see bolder leadership,” Colvin says. “I think we undershot what true change looks like.”

When the 2,472 delegates, 15,000 media and 30,000 assorted other dignitaries, lobbyists and staff arrive next month for the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, they’ll be greeted by untold numbers of protesters. The Rev. Colvin, who plans to join two marches on the first day, will be at the center of the action, pushing an agenda of judicial reform that is gaining more national attention, even acceptance in conservative circles. But conventiongoers should expect to be challenged, even shocked, by Colvin’s message.

“The criminal justice system,” Colvin says, “in many respects, has replaced slavery.”…Read the Rest Here

 

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2016 in BlackLivesMatter

 

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BLM Activist Convicted of “Lynching”

Using a law to protect minorities against them…Not a single black person on the “jury”…Again.

What activist Jasmine Richards’s “lynching” conviction means for the Black Lives Matter movement

A court ruling in Pasadena, California, last week just set an unsettling precedent in the movement for black lives’ fight against police brutality.

Activist Jasmine Richards, a 28-year-old black woman and founder of Pasadena’s Black Lives Matter chapter, was convicted of felony lynching, a technical term in California penal code referring to “the taking by means of a riot of another person from the lawful custody of a peace officer.” Her sentencing is June 7.

On August 29, 2015, police responded to a 911 call after an altercation at a local park. The owner of a restaurant near the park told police an unidentified young black woman allegedly did not pay for her meal. Black Lives Matter supporters, including Richards, were already at the park after a peaceful protest earlier that day for Kendrec McDade, a 19-year-old unarmed black teenager who was killed by Pasadena police in 2012.

Video of the incident shows Black Lives Matter supporters, including Richards, run to the woman’s side as police attempt to arrest her. Richards was arrested two days later for trying to physically pull the woman away from police.

Richards was initially charged with inciting a riot, child endangerment, delaying and obstructing peace officers, and felony lynching. When the court announced the June 1 trial date, only the lynching charge remained.

Richards is not the first modern protester to be charged with lynching. Maile Hampton, a 20-year-old black woman, was arrested for “lynching” during a rally against police brutality in Sacramento in April 2015. Occupy Oakland activists Tiffany Tran and Alex Brown were charged in 2011, and Los Angeles Occupy activist Sergio Ballesteros was charged in 2012 for lynching while intervening in an arrest at the local Artwalk.

But in other cases, the charges were later dropped. Richards is the first African American convicted of “lynching” in the United States.

“Clearly this is a political prosecution,” Richards’s attorney, Nana Gyamfi, told Vox. “Its intention is to stop people from organizing, and from speaking out and challenging the system. There’s a political message that’s been sent by both the prosecutor and the police and, by conviction, the jury.”

The history behind California’s “lynching” law

Lynching typically refers to a violent Jim Crow–era tactic used to terrorize black communities. However, the language of California’s penal code does not speak to this history of racial violence specifically. It’s one of the reasons Gov. Jerry Brown removed the term from the state’s criminal code in July 2015 following Hampton’s arrest.

California’s anti-lynching law was enacted in 1933. That year, a vigilante mob of 10,000 people stormed a San Jose jail to seize Thomas Thurmond and John Holmes, two white men, who confessed to kidnapping and murdering of 22-year-old Brooke Hart, the son of a local storeowner. Tear gas did not stop the mob, and police guards were attacked.

After plucking them from the jail, the mob hung Thurmond and Holmes from trees in a nearby park. According to a 1933 report, Thurmond was “yanked to his doom in less time than it takes to tell it.”

No one was charged for Thurmond and Holmes’s deaths. Gov. James Rolph Jr. wasnationally criticized for condoning the vigilante violence. Still, Rolph signed an anti-lynching law, which was one of several passed by state lawmakers during that time.

The law was passed at a time when people were pressuring the federal government to intervene to stop vigilante lynchings of African Americans. In July 1922, the NAACP lobbied for a federal anti-lynching bill that was ultimately filibustered by the Senate. This would continue throughout the 1920s and ’30s. The last thorough national anti-lynching bill was introduced in 1937, and was similarly squashed. In fact, the Senate record was so bad that it approved a resolution in 2005 apologizing for its willful failure to act.

In the 1930s, California’s anti-lynching law was a sign of progress at a moment when the federal governmental failed to intervene.

Today, when activists like Richards are charged with “lynching,” this progressive law appears to be exploited to quell, not encourage, social change as it was originally intended….Read the Rest Here

 

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2016 in BlackLivesMatter

 

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Alabama Black Caucus Protests Republican Laws

It would be nice if some of the folks in the US Congressional Black Caucus would grow a backbone…

The state caucus members sang out in frustration after the state house approved two bills that would restrict safe abortion access.

 

Members of the Alabama House Black Caucus, frustrated by other legislators’ efforts to silence opposition to bills that would restrict abortion access, sang “We Shall Overcome” on the Alabama State House floor.

According to the Montgomery Advertiser, several Black state representatives sang the Civil Rights Movement anthem during sessions on Wednesday (May 3). They were disheartened by the approval of a measure would effectively rohibit most abortions, as well as another that prevents abortion clinics from operating within 2,000 feet of schools serving kids in kindergarten through eighth grade. Caucus members charged that Republican lawmakers used filibustering to silence the group so that they could force through the abortion clinic bill and another regarding Confederate preservationwithout opposition.

Security was called twice during the protests, but no one was removed from chambers. The ACLU of Alabama has committed to suing the state if the governor signs the bill into law.

“Year after year, extreme politicians in this state have tried every tool in the shed to make it impossible for a woman who has decided to have an abortion to actually get one in Alabama,” Andrew Beck, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project said in a statement. “Rather than using taxpayer resources to endanger women’s health, politicians should leave these personal, private family decisions to women and doctors.”

 

 
 

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Bill Clinton vs BLM

A lot of noise blaming Bill Clinton for the draconian drug law he supported passing in 1993. That is a bit of  a false canard for a number of reasons. Fist is the legislation passed by Congress only affected Federal Law. Than means that it didn’t apply to the states. A number of state passed their own draconian drug laws, but they passed those in their own legislatures. Of the 1.5 million Americans held in correctional institutions (not jails) and Federal Prisons, about 210,000 are Federal Prisoners. That is about 14%. If you add those prisoners held in Jails, the number of incarcerated is 2.1 million, the Federal part of that shrinks to 10%. The States with the highest incarceration rates?

9 of 10 are in the “Red Zone”run by Republicans. 27 States incarcerate 80% of the prisoners in the US. Sounds bad – but 27 States have 80% of the population. Fewer people live in Wyoming than in Washington, DC.

Second – a lot of these laws, particularly in the Major Cities, were passed at the behest of black citizens and organizations in response to the soaring crime rate driven by the crack epidemic.

Bill Clinton Gets Into Heated Exchange With Black Lives Matter Protester

In a prolonged exchange Thursday afternoon, former President Bill Clinton forcefully defended his 1994 crime bill to Black Lives Matter protesters in the crowd at a Hillary Clinton campaign event.

He said the bill lowered the country’s crime rate, which benefited African-Americans, achieved bipartisan support, and diversified the police force. He then addressed a protester’s sign, saying:

“I don’t know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-old kids hopped up on crack and sent them out onto the street to murder other African-American children,” Clinton said, addressing a protester who appeared to interrupt him repeatedly. “Maybe you thought they were good citizens …. You are defending the people who kill the lives you say matter. Tell the truth. You are defending the people who cause young people to go out and take guns.”

The Clintons have faced criticism from BLM activists and younger black voters for months now over that bill, which they say put an unfairly high number of black Americans in prison for nonviolent offenses.

After a protester interrupted him repeatedly, Bill Clinton began to take on that critique directly, making the claim that his crime bill was being given a bad rap.

“Here’s what happened,” Clinton said. “Let’s just tell the whole story.”

“I had an assault weapons ban in it [the crime bill]. I had money for inner-city kids, for out of school activities. We had 110,000 police officers so we could keep people on the street, not in these military vehicles, and the police would look like the people they were policing. We did all that. And [Joe] Biden [then senator and chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee] said, you can’t pass this bill, the Republicans will kill it, if you don’t put more sentencing in it.”

“I talked to a lot of African-American groups,” Clinton continued. “They thought black lives matter. They said take this bill, because our kids are being shot in the street by gangs. We have 13-year-old kids planning their own funerals.”

Throughout the spirited defense of his policy, Clinton continued to be interrupted, and he repeatedly seemed to single out one protester.

“She doesn’t wanna hear any of that,” Clinton said to the protester. “You know what else she doesn’t want to hear? Because of that bill, we have a 25-year low in crime, a 33-year low in murder rate. And because of that and the background check law, we had a 46-year low in the deaths of people by gun violence, and who do you think those lives were? That mattered? Whose lives were saved that mattered?”

For several minutes, the discussion of the crime bill, Clinton’s exchange with the protester and the crowd’s attempts to yell and chant over her were missing one thing: any mention of Hillary Clinton, the one Clinton running for president this election cycle.

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2016 in BlackLivesMatter

 

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Painting Injustice in Louisiana

This one starts with the case of Mac Phipps, jailed in a state, Louisiana,  that incarcerates more of it’s citizens than any country in the world since Pol Pot’s Cambodia.

Her Son Is In Prison, And She Paints The Faces Of A Broken Justice System

The brushstrokes in Sheila Phipps‘ paintings tell the story of a broken criminal justice system in Louisiana — a state notorious for having the highest incarceration rate in the world.

It’s a mission that Phipps, a visual artist who’s been painting since the 1980s, took up after her son, McKinley “Mac” Phipps, a former No Limit hip-hop artist, wassentenced to 30 years in prison for a 2000 nightclub shooting.

“My son was wrongfully convicted in 2001 and is now serving time for a crime he didn’t commit,” Sheila Phipps said.

The visual artist said that in the beginning she could barely face the pain of her son spending such a large portion of his life behind bars. To cope, she went to her art room, took a brush in hand, and in a series of meticulous strokes captured the element missing from her life — her son — on canvas.

“I was frustrated, and it helped me deal with the stress of everything,” Phipps told The Huffington Post.

When Phipps finished the painting of her son, she initially viewed it as a personal accomplishment. After all, it was intended to be therapeutic — a brief escape from the harsh reality of the situation. However, an emptiness remained. It prompted her to capture not only her son’s story but also those of other inmates in Louisiana who are in similar situations.

“I knew my son was not the only one who was a victim of the criminal justice system,” she said. “So I started to research other cases where individuals were convicted with questionable evidence or received excessive sentences.”

Phipps said her son ultimately became the inspiration behind her series of portraits of incarcerated men. Although she never intended her personal expression for public view, she gradually began showing her paintings as they emerged, gathering them in a series titled “Injustice Xhibition.”

The exhibit features seven incarcerated men: McKinley “Mac” Phipps Jr., Warren Scott III, Jerome “Skee” Smith, Earl Truvia, Stanley Stirgus, Rogers LaCaze Sr., and Jamil Joyner. …Read More Here

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2016 in BlackLivesMatter

 

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