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A Little Bit of Justice – Judge Overturns Marissa Alexander Conviction And 20 Year Sentence

 

Under the category “Special Laws for certain people”…

Marissa Alexander at sentencing

JUSTICE: COURT FINALLY OVERTURNS MARISSA ALEXANDER’S 20 YEAR SENTENCE

A Florida woman who claimed to be a victim of abuse was sentenced to 20 years behind bars for allegedly firing a warning shot during an argument with her husband was granted a new trial.

The appellate court ruling erased a decision by a jury that took just 12 minutes to convict Marissa Alexander, a mother of three, of aggravated assault.

The conviction of Alexander, who is black, sparked outrage and cries of a racial double standard in light of the exoneration of George Zimmerman, a white Hispanic, for the death of Trayvon Martin, who was black. In particular, outrage aired on social media and among some lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Alexander unsuccessfully tried to invoke Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law as the same prosecutors who unsuccessfully worked to put Zimmerman behind bars told the court that she did not act in self-defense.

In granting the new trial, Judge James Daniel also seemed unmoved by the Stand Your Ground defense.

“We reject her contention that the trial court erred in declining to grant her immunity from prosecution under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, but we remand for a new trial because the jury instructions on self-defense were erroneous,” wrote Daniel.

Alexander testified that, on Aug. 1, 2010, her then-husband, Rico Gray Sr., questioned her fidelity and the paternity of her 1-week-old child.

She claimed that he broke through a bathroom door that she had locked and grabbed her by the neck. She said she tried to push past him but he shoved her into the door, sparking a struggle that felt like an “eternity.”

Afterwards, she claimed that she ran to the garage and tried to leave but was unable to open the garage door, so she retrieved a gun, which she legally owned.

Once inside, she claimed, her husband saw the gun and charged at her “in a rage” saying, “Bitch, I’ll kill you.” She said she raised the gun and fired a warning shot into the air because it was the “lesser of two evils.” The jury rejected the self-defense claim and Alexander was sentenced under the state’s 10-20-life law, sparking outrage over how self-defense laws are applied in the state.

A Florida appellate court ruled that jury instructions, which unfairly made Alexander prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that she was acting in self-defense, were wrong — and that there were other incorrect instructions that self-defense only applied if the victim suffered an injury, which Gray had not.

The Lynching of Laura Nelson. The Old Jim Crow…Just Like the New Jim Crow

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2014 in The New Jim Crow

 

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Police Misconduct and Brutality…Again

Why is it the police in Florida can arrest a black man at his job 258 times for being at work…

And can’t get a murderer like George Zimmerman off the street and not pulling guns on women?

In the second incident this week to make the news concerning racial profiling, police abuse, and brutality – “Get Tough on Crime” laws have turned into a mechanism of racial harassment and brutality. The first incident (or more properly series of incidents) were in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, where officers harassed, beat, and videotaped black men they accosted on the street, threatening them with arrest if they didn’t sing or dance on video for the officers amusement. A series of videos uncovered by local paper posted at a local Police internal message board, by the Motor City Muckraker, show black men in the town being stopped and harassed by police, and forced under threat of beating or arrest to sing or make animal sounds.

 

 

The case in Miami Gardens, Florida is even more vicious.  A local store owner, tired of having his employees and customers summarily harassed and arrested by Miami Gardens Police, while doing nothing more nefarious than taking the trash out, minding the store, or purchasing a Lottery Ticket,  installed a video surveillance system. What the videos show is Miami Gardens Police harassing, arresting, and using force to arrest people on manufactured grounds over a year.

Here, a store employee (Earl Sampson) taking out the trash is arrested for “trespassing”…

Earl Sampson has been stopped and questioned by Miami Gardens police 258 times in four years.

He’s been searched more than 100 times. And arrested and jailed 56 times.

Despite his long rap sheet, Sampson, 28, has never been convicted of anything more serious than possession of marijuana.

Miami Gardens police have arrested Sampson 62 times for one offense: trespassing.

Almost every citation was issued at the same place: the 207 Quickstop, a convenience store on 207th Street in Miami Gardens.

But Sampson isn’t loitering. He works as a clerk at the Quickstop.

So how can he be trespassing when he works there?

Earl stocking the shelves…And arrested for trespassing…

Now admittedly Miami Gardens has a crime problem. It is a poor area, and robberies and shootings are not uncommon. However, it is hard to see how arresting law abiding citizens on trumped up charges, while they are at work – is doing anything to stop the serious crime problems.

How “Zero Tolerance” Policing Helped Bad Cops in Florida Create a Civil Rights Nightmare

The Miami Herald has published a stunning, maddening story about alleged persistent police harassment of blacks in the city of Miami Gardens, Fla. (You should read the entire Heraldstory; it will raise your blood pressure and ruin your weekend, but you should still read it.) For years, police would come to a convenience store in a transitional neighborhood and hassle black customers and employees in the name of proactive crime prevention—regularly citing and arresting men for loitering or trespassing, even when they weren’t.

One man, an employee of the store, was “stopped and questioned by Miami Gardens police 258 times in four years,” with almost all of these incidents happening on store premises. He was arrested 62 times for trespassing, and, again, these were arrests for being on the grounds of the store where he was employed. These incidents and others were recorded by video cameras installed by the store’s owner for the express purpose of documenting police misconduct:

The videos show, among other things, cops stopping citizens, questioning them, aggressively searching them and arresting them for trespassing when they have permission to be on the premises; officers conducting searches of Saleh’s business without search warrants or permission; using what appears to be excessive force on subjects who are clearly not resisting arrest and filing inaccurate police reports in connection with the arrests.

The harassment continued even after the store’s owner asked the cops to leave him and his employees alone. Since then, the store’s owner has reported police harassment of his own. “I ’m going to get you mother-f—–,” he says one cop told him during an allegedly gratuitous traffic stop.

How does something like this happen? Blame it on endemic racism, yes, and on bad apples in the police department—but also blame it on a short-sighted local crime-reduction policy that, in retrospect, was always, always ripe for abuse. The convenience store incidents began when police convinced the store’s owner to enroll in the department’s “Zero Tolerance Zone” program. In Miami Gardens, when a shop becomes a Zero Tolerance Zone, the owner signs an affidavit authorizing the police to enter the premises when the owner is absent and question, eject, and/or arrest all those whom they suspect of being up to no good. The website of the Miami Gardens Police Department notes that the program is “designed to reduce the number of individuals who are sometimes seen trespassing and loitering on private property without legitimate business.”

Miami Gardens does have a serious crime problem—murders there have “more than doubled” in recent years, says the Herald—and, in theory, this program is meant to address that problem by keeping potential malefactors on their toes and off the streets. In practice—at this one convenience store, at least—by authorizing police to act in the owner’s stead, the “Zero Tolerance Zone” just made it easier for bad cops to abuse power.

The fact that Miami Gardens police kept arresting that one particular employee even after it was very clear that he worked at the store is baffling, and obviously indicates that more was going on here than simple overzealousness. But the alleged police misbehavior is rooted in the idea that cities can keep their streets safer by keeping poor black men off of them, and that it’s up to an individual cop’s discretion to determine what sort of behavior is and is not appropriate.

The “Zero Tolerance Zone” initiative sounds similar to the controversial stop-and-frisk programs that have been deployed in New York and other cities, where police officers are encouraged to routinely stop and question people on slim grounds—“suspicious behavior” is a favorite excuse—in hopes of seizing guns and drugs and stopping crime before it starts. In both programs, cops have been accused of routinely exceeding their authority against people who have no real means of stopping them from doing so. Inevitably, the people being stopped and questioned are minority residents of crime-ridden areas—police have no incentive to deploy these tactics in rich white neighborhoods with minimal street crime. Inevitably, when cops are authorized to engage in this sort of proactive policing, some cops will overdo it, and trample citizens’ civil rights in the process.

This all comes down to the goddamn stupid, silly, racist “broken windows” theory of crime prevention that encourages police to treat the symptoms in hopes of curing the disease. This doesn’t work in medicine or crime prevention. “Broken windows” theorizes that disorderly neighborhoods invite criminal behavior, and that cracking down on quality-of-life violations can make neighborhoods safer. But while taking a hard line on public disorder might make the streets cleaner, there is little evidencethat the strategy is an effective way to reduce crime. (Broken-windows policing was most famously applied in New York during the Giuliani administration, but the decline in the city’s crime rate during that timespan probably had more to do with the end of the crack epidemic than with the NYPD taking a hard line on jaywalking.)

More broadly, there will always be crime in poor neighborhoods as long as these neighborhoods lack good jobs, good schools, good mental health resources, and other things that truly help make neighborhoods stable. Thinking you can stop crime by ticketing loiterers (or manufacturing bogus charges against people who look like loiterers) is the sort of willfully obtuse policymaking favored by shortsighted, indifferent leaders who value appearances over results. As a long-term crime-prevention strategy, broken windows is intellectually bankrupt; as a short-term strategy, it is a recipe for civil rights abuses. If the allegations are true, the Miami Gardens story makes this all painfully clear.

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2013 in The New Jim Crow

 

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A Strong Message From a Young Brother at UCLA

In 1996, conservatives managed to re-segregate California Universities. Heavily financed by conservative funding groups like the Koch brothers, conservatives were able to flood the airwaves with racist messaging to sway voter opinion. Using their most effective Uncle Tom, Ward Connerly as a front man, and threatening Asian students and parents with restrictions – conservatives were able to put a thin non-racist coat of paint on the New Jim Crow.

As a youngster growing up, may of my peers thought going to a UCLA, USC or Berkley would be a dream come true. These were the days before Affirmative Action, and the number of black folks on the campuses was actually larger than it is now. And that was back in the late 60’s, when the Southern School I went to only had a half dozen or so black males on a campus of about 10,000 who weren’t on sports scholarships.

California schools have joined the ranks of “Old Miss” and Alabama back in the days of legalized Jim Crow. How things have changed! The University of Mississippi’s demographics include a 16.85% black student population. The University of Alabama has 14.1% across it’s campuses. UC Davis has 2.3%, UC Berkley 2.7%, and UCLA has 3.3%…

The New Jim Crow…Indeed.

Now, one of the ways to fight back against this by the athletes could well be to go to other schools where the environment is more comfortable. Ergo, if one has 3 scholarship offers – you may want to consider Old Miss over UCLA. I imagine, if the Universities start losing the tens of millions of dollars they make from College Atletics, Bowl Games, and TV rights – they may rethink segregation. Worked at University of Alabama, where legendary Coach Bear Bryant showed the administrators at his school they couldn’t win recruiting players by race. Losing $30-40 million a year in revenue tends to bring folks to the table.

 

UCLA Has More NCAA Championships Than Black Male Freshmen

The black students at University of California, Los Angeles, sent a strong message about diversity at their school. Namely, the fact that there isn’t much when it comes to African-American males, a troubling fact for one of the state’s most elite institutions.

A group of students, led by Sy Stokes, posted a video voicing their concerns about the number of black students on campus, and their message is hard to ignore. Stokes, a third-year Afro-American studies student who identifies as black, Cherokee and Chinese, recites a spoken word poem in the video, citing blaring statistics about the university’s diversity issue.

According to the school’s enrollment statistics, African-Americans make up 3.8 percent of the student population. In the video, Stokes points out that black males make up 3.3 percent of the male student population, and that 65 percent of those black males are undergraduate athletes. Of the incoming men in the freshmen class, only 1.9 percent of them were black.

In an interview with the Daily Bruin, Stokes said he almost dropped out of UCLA during his first year because he felt isolated and uncomfortable. Although he eventually found his niche in the minority community, he said he wanted to raise awareness about the school’s lack of diversity before the university’s application deadline on Nov. 30.

“We had to do something to put our issues on the map,” Stokes said.

In an email statement to the school paper, Janina Montero, vice chancellor of student affairs, said administrators acknowledge the need for more diversity and are attempting to work within the state’s admission parameters.

“We certainly recognize that the low numbers of African Americans and other underrepresented students on campus does lead to a sense of isolation and invisibility,” Montero said in her email statement. “It is difficult to eliminate this painful imbalance without considering race in the admissions process.”

The state of California voted down affirmative action in 1996 and passed Proposition 209, which banned state schools from considering race, gender, ethnicity or national origins in their admissions processes. Black student enrollment has severely decreased since that provision and critics are saying that has to change.

The students’ video adds to the ongoing affirmative action debate both inside and outside of the state, raising awareness about diversity at institutions around the country. Stokes said he feels responsible for spreading the word about the unknown challenges of being a minority student at UCLA and the ongoing lack of diversity on campus.

“Being the cousin of Arthur Ashe, I feel as though it is my responsibility to uphold the strong voices of the Black Bruin community,” he said. This school has experienced unacceptable instances of injustice recently, and many people are not aware of what is happening at this university.”

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2013 in The New Jim Crow

 

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The New Jim Crow – Racism or Class?

An interesting view from Author Robert D. Putnam on inequalities in American society and the economy. Putnam believes that racism isn’t the major impediment to economic mobility in the country anymore – class is. And as far as that goes he may be correct. However, in weighing whether racism is an issue – a lot depends on just what you define as “racism”. The conservative view of that is “we aren’t hanging you from trees and burning down your homes anymore – so there is no racism”. Of course to anyone else with an IQ above freezing water – racism is a lot more nuanced that just physical acts of depravity. I mean – just because you aren’t shooting me – doesn’t mean you aren’t trying to kill me with a knife.

Robert Putnam: Class Now Trumps Race as the Great Divide in America

Robert D. Putnam, author of Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, issued a strong warning to anti-poverty advocates at a forum on social connectedness at the Aspen Ideas Festival Saturday, urging the audience to get beyond talking about poverty and race and start thinking about social mobility and class instead.

“Those two conceptual moves, framing it as poverty and thinking about it as a matter of race, have a very deep history… and I think both politically and analytically that’s an almost fatally flawed framework,” said Putnam, the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, in response to remarks from co-panelists Anne Mosle, vice president of policy at the Aspen Institute, and Mario Small, chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago.

“You say poverty to most ordinary Americans, most ordinary voters, they think black ghettos,” he continued, whereas over the last couple of generations “class, not race is the dominant — and becoming more dominant — dimension of difficulty here.”

“Relatively speaking, racial differences controlling for class are decreasing while class differences controlling for race are increasing in America,” he said. “Non-white folks with a college education are looking more and more like white folks with a college education and white folks who haven’t gotten beyond high school are looking more and more like nonwhite folks who haven’t finished high school.” Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2012 in The New Jim Crow

 

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The New Jim Crow – Charter Schools

One of the problems with Charter Schools such as those recently implemented in Louisiana – is that they short circuit all of the existing Civil Rights laws.  Particularly in Lousisana the changeover to supposedly “private” schools enables religious discrimination.

The Old Jim Crow – Just Like the New Jim Crow – Now Dressed Up as Charter Schools

Segregation Fear Sinks Charter School

Nashville school officials have rejected a proposal to open a charter school in a middle-class part of the city, highlighting a broader national battle over efforts by operators of such publicly financed, privately run schools to expand into more affluent areas.

The Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools board voted 7-2 Tuesday night to reject an application by Great Hearts Academies, a nonprofit that operates prep-school-like charter schools, for five new establishments.

The Arizona-based group planned to open its first Tennessee school in a middle- to upper-middle class area in west Nashville, after being invited by parents who either were unhappy with local public schools or said they favored choice in education.

The board denied the application because members worried that low-income parents wouldn’t be able to easily transport their children across town to a school on the west side, meaning the plan could effectively cause “segregated schools,” said Olivia Brown, spokeswoman for the district.

“Rather than enhance diversity in the district, this would send us in the opposite direction,” said Edward Kindall, one of the board members who voted against the plan. “I went to segregated schools and this gets us dangerously close to separate but unequal.”

The school board also approved, by votes of 9-0 and 8-1, two other charter schools Tuesday, both of which will cater mainly to low-income students. Mr. Kindall backed both schools.

Dan Scoggin, chief executive of Great Hearts Academies, said the school would have been open to all students, and that his organization planned to build other schools elsewhere in the city. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2012 in The New Jim Crow

 

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Congressional Black Caucus Pushback Against Tea Party Begins

Well… The fuse is lit on this one. And while it has been a long time coming, derailed by a number of other issues…

It’s about time.

I have argued on this site that the Congressional Black Caucus needs to take a more aggressive approach in Congress to fight back. Maybe these guys are listening?

The New Jim Crow implemented since the Bushit stole office has been focused on “disparate impact”. Ergo, attacking those elements of the economy, and government policy which disproportionally favor minorities. An example of this is that more minorities tend to work for the Government than private industry due to historical and ongoing discrimination in the private workplace. So privatization of Government work results in transforming a Government workforce which is 40% Minority, to a privatized workforce which is less than 10% minority. The net result of this is a 54% drop in net wealth in black families, compared to an 18% drop in white families net wealth. Almost across the board, the Tea Baggers have pushed policies which exacerbate the impact of the economic recession in minority communities.

Essentially the Old Jim Crow, dressed up in a suit and tie.

Democratic Rep: Tea Party Would Love To See Black People ‘Hanging On A Tree’

 

 A leading voice in the Congressional Black Caucus told supporters last week that Tea Party-affiliated lawmakers are devastating the black community economically and would be happy to see black people “hanging on a tree.”

Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.), the CBC whip, told attendees at the CBC’s Job Tour visit to Miami that the Tea Party is actively taking steps to keep down the black community and other vulnerable populations.

“This is the effort that we’re seeing of Jim Crow,” Carson said. “Some of these folks in Congress right now would love to see us as second-class citizens.”

“Some of them in Congress right now of this Tea Party movement would love to see you and me … hanging on a tree.”

An audio and partial video of Carson making the remarks first surfaced on Tuesday on Glenn Beck’s website, The Blaze. When contacted by The Huffington Post, Carson’s office confirmed them and didn’t back down, saying they were in response to frustrations felt by many around the country regarding Congress’ inability to boost the economy.

“The Tea Party is protecting its millionaire and oil company friends while gutting critical services that they know protect the livelihood of African-Americans, as well as Latinos and other disadvantaged minorities,” Carson spokesman Jason Tomcsi said in a statement.

Tomsci specifically pointed to GOP efforts to cut funding for child nutrition, job creation and training, housing assistance and Head Start, a national program that promotes school readiness, as examples of ways the Tea Party agenda hurts vulnerable populations.

“A child without basic nutrition, secure housing, and quality education has no real chance at a meaningful and productive life,” he said. “So, yes, the Congressman used strong language because the Tea Party agenda jeopardizes our most vulnerable and leaves them without the ability to improve their economic standing.”

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2011 in The New Jim Crow

 

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The New Jim Crow – Does Google Marketing Data Empower Racial Discrimination?.

Is Google Empowering a New Generation of Jim Crow?

This from a 3 part series on how Google collects user data and utilizes it as a product to sell to companies wishing to market products.

The question is, and remains – how is that data utilized by companies? Turns out the data can not only be utilized to segregate consumers by income – but by race.

The implication here after the sub-prime mortgage scandals targeting blacks and other minorities for higher priced, and predatory loans, is that the basic tools for racial discrimination are present in the data collected by Google. Tools which will be utilized by the folks who brought you higher interest rates for black folks on everything from cars to houses – to further economic and job discrimination.

This is an excerpt from the article – follow the link and read the entire article to understand how it works.

The Cost of Lost Privacy, Part 2: “Pain Points,” Discrimination and Advertiser Use of Google Data

Reempowering Racial Discrimination: This targeted price discrimination based on behavioral tracking, unfortunately, directly enhances the most traditional kinds of racial discrimination. Study after study has shown that employers, financial lenders, car salesmen and other merchants continue to charge black and Hispanic customers more for the same service when they can identify them.

For example, a study by the Urban Institute using paired “testers” — one white person and one person of color with similar economic profiles — found that non-white homebuyers received less favorable financial terms from mortgage lending institutions. Job seekers face similar discrimination with one study, where nearly identical resumes were sent to 1300 help-wanted ads, found that resumes with a “white-sounding” name were 50 percent more likely to get a call for an interview than one with a black-sounding name.

The Internet was supposed to let people escape such easy discrimination, but behavioral tracking makes such identification trivial. Add together someone’s taste in music and a few more characteristics and you have an almost perfect proxy for race. As Rebecca Goldin, a George Mason University professor, argued in a 2009 article, it’s clearly illegal to discriminate based on race, but if companies offer loan rates based on their shopping habits, it raises the question of “would it be legal or ethical to use the kind of music one buys to determine his or her loan rate?”

Given that we know straight up racial discrimination happens all the time in these commercial transactions, what the Internet supplies is a multivariate datamining opportunity to discriminate in ever more precise ways that may largely escape legal scrutiny.

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2011 in The New Jim Crow

 

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