The Truth Behind Chicago’s Violence No, Chicago is not an exceptionally dangerous city.

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The bloodletting in Chicago last weekend, with 74 people shot, 12 fatally, was enough to horrify even locals, who are relatively inured to chronic slaughter at the hands of gun-wielding felons. “Unbelievable,” said state Rep. La Shawn Ford, a black Chicago Democrat who went so far as to call on President Donald Trump for help.
The shock was also evident beyond Chicago. Rudy Giuliani blamed Democrats in general and Mayor Rahm Emanuel in particular. The mayor’s legacy, he tweeted, is “more murders in his city than ever before.” Everywhere, there was agreement that the city’s mayhem is out of control and in urgent need of measures to contain it.
But don’t believe the hype. There are not, in fact, more murders in Chicago than ever before. The number of homicides peaked at 920 in 1991. The death toll last year was 674—and that was down 15 percent from 2016. This year, even with the latest frenzy of shootings, the number of homicides is 25 percent lower than it was at this point in 2017.

These are real signs of progress, however tardy and insufficient. If this year’s trajectory holds, it would mean some 280 fewer people dying violently this year than just two years ago. Another year on this trend line would put the city about where it was in 2013—when the number of homicides hit the lowest level in 48 years.
Contrary to popular myth, cynically promoted by Trump and other outside critics, Chicago is not an exceptionally dangerous city. In terms of violent crime, it is less afflicted than a number of large cities, including St. Louis, Baltimore, and New Orleans.
Republicans blame unbroken Democratic control of Chicago for its mayhem. But partisan coloration is an unreliable indicator of crime patterns. Of the 10 states with the highest rates of violence, seven voted for Trump. Los Angeles, whose homicide rate is enviably low, has had only Democratic mayors since 2001.
It’s easy to blame the mayor for the persistent bloodshed—and former police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who is running against Emanuel in the February election, does not pass up the opportunity. McCarthy headed the Chicago Police Department from 2011 to 2015, and he claims credit for the improvement that occurred in that period.
But he was also in charge of Chicago police when an officer shot and killed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald—a gross overreaction that police labored to cover up. The spike in murders began just after the release of dashcam video showing the victim walking away from police before being riddled with bullets. The revelation, which contradicted official accounts, sparked public outrage, particularly among African-Americans.
One problem in Chicago is the dismally low number of homicides that police are able to solve—about 1 in 6. But the department’s poor reputation among many of the people most at risk discourages the sort of cooperation from citizens that cops need to catch the killers.
The city’s record of failing to discipline officers who resort to unjustified lethal force is corrosive. Last year, WBEZ reported that since 2007, the city’s Independent Police Review Authority had “investigated police shootings that have killed at least 130 people and injured 285 others”—and “found officers at fault in just two of those cases, both off-duty” incidents.
The Chicago Reporter provided additional evidence. “From 2012 to 2015, the city spent more than $263 million on settlements, judgments and outside legal counsel for police misconduct,” it found. If police want more help from the communities they serve, this is not the way to get it.
Despite these failures, the decline in homicides suggests that the city and the department are doing something right. But what that might be is hard to determine with any confidence.
The fight against crime can’t be restricted to more or better policing. Chicago’s crime problem is concentrated in a small number of poor, blighted, mostly African-American neighborhoods. Those areas owe their plight largely to a sordid history of systemic, deliberate racial discrimination and violence, endemic poverty, and official neglect over decades.
The conditions that breed rampant crime in parts of Chicago came about not by accident but by policy. The recent attention shows that people here and elsewhere care about the violence. Do they care about fixing the causes?

By Steve Chapman/Reason

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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Charlottesville belies racism’s deep roots in the North

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A southern city has now become synonymous with the ongoing scourge of racism in the United States.

A year ago, white supremacists rallied to “Unite the Right” in Charlottesville, protesting the removal of a Confederate statute.

In the days that followed, two of them, Christopher C. Cantwell and James A. Fields Jr., became quite prominent.

The HBO show “Vice News Tonight” profiled Cantwell in an episode and showed him spouting racist and anti-Semitic slurs and violent fantasies. Fields gained notoriety after he plowed a car into a group of unarmed counterprotesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

Today this tragedy defines the nature of modern racism primarily as Southern, embodied in tiki torches, Confederate flags and violent outbursts.

As historians of race in America, we believe that such a one-sided view misses how entrenched, widespread and multi-various racism is and has been across the country.

Jim Crow born in the North

Racism has deep historic roots in the North, making the chaos and violence of Charlottesville part of a national historic phenomenon.

Cantwell was born and raised in Stony Brook, Long Island, and was living in New Hampshire at the time of the march. Fields was born in Boone County, Kentucky, a stone’s throw from Cincinnati, Ohio, and was living in Ohio when he plowed through a crowd.

Jim Crow, the system of laws that advanced segregation and black disenfranchisement, began in the North, not the South, as most Americans believe. Long before the Civil War, northern states like New York, Massachusetts, Ohio, New Jersey and Pennsylvania had legal codes that promoted black people’s racial segregation and political disenfranchisement.

If racism is only pictured in spitting and screaming, in torches and vigilante justice and an allegiance to the Confederacy, many Americans can rest easy, believing they share little responsibility in its perpetuation. But the truth is, Americans all over the country do bear responsibility for racial segregation and inequality.

Studying the long history of the Jim Crow North makes clear to us that there was nothing regional about white supremacy and its upholders. There is a larger landscape of segregation and struggle in the “liberal” North that brings into sharp relief the national character of American apartheid.

More from Brian J Purnell/Jeanne Theoharis/TheConversation

Posted by The NON-Conformist

I Went From Prison to Professor – Here’s Why Criminal Records Should Not Be Used to Keep People Out of College Stanley Andrisse was once branded a career criminal and served time in prison. Today, he is a professor at two medical schools and an advocate for higher education for those who’ve served time.

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Beginning next year, the Common Application – an online form that enables students to apply to the 800 or so colleges that use it – will no longer ask students about their criminal pasts.

As a formerly incarcerated person who now is now an endocrinologist and professor at two world-renowned medical institutions – Johns Hopkins Medicine and Howard University College of Medicine – I believe this move is a positive one. People’s prior convictions should not be held against them in their pursuit of higher learning.

While I am enthusiastic about the decision to remove the criminal history question from the Common Application, I also believe more must be done to remove the various barriers that exist between formerly incarcerated individuals such as myself and higher education.

I make this argument not only as a formerly incarcerated person who now teaches aspiring medical doctors, but also as an advocate for people with criminal convictions. The organization I lead – From Prison Cells to PhD – helped push for the change on the Common Application.

My own story stands as a testament to the fact that today’s incarcerated person could become tomorrow’s professor. A person who once sold illegal drugs on the street could become tomorrow’s medical doctor. But this can only happen if such a person, and the many others in similar situations, are given the chance.

There was a time not so long ago when some in the legal system believed I did not deserve a chance. With three felony convictions, I was sentenced to 10 years in prison for drug trafficking as a prior and persistent career criminal. My prosecuting attorney once stated that I had no hope for change.

Today, I am Dr. Stanley Andrisse. As a professor at Johns Hopkins and Howard University, I now help train students who want to be doctors. I’d say that I have changed. Education was transformative.

US incarceration rates the highest

The United States needs to have more of this transformative power of education. The country incarcerates more people and at a higher rate than any other nation in the world. The U.S. accounts for less than 5 percent of the world population but nearly 25 percent of the incarcerated population around the globe.

More from TheConversation

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Aretha Franklin, the undisputed Queen of Soul, dies at age 76

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Aretha Franklin — the first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and known as the “Queen of Soul” for powerful anthems like “Respect” and “Chain of Fools” — died Thursday morning at her home in Detroit. She was 76.

Image result for aretha franklin

Image: E! News

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHR1bJFQsMk

Born March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee, to C.L. Franklin, the most prominent black Baptist preacher in America during the mid-20th century, and a gospel singer, Aretha Louise Franklin began performing in front of her father’s congregation at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, which she considered her hometown. She became a star on gospel caravan tours with her father, known as “The Million Dollar Voice,” who became her manager when she was 14.

More from Google News via NBC news

Posted by Libergirl

Freedom Rider: Russiagate Covers Up Black Vote Theft

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“The Democrats want our votes, but if we aren’t allowed to vote at all they pretend not to know.”

“They want me on, as long as I talk about Russia. And I said, ‘What about black voters?’ ‘Well that’s race issues.’ The reason I’m allowed on MSNBC is because I’m with people like Joy Reid and Al Sharpton and others. Where’s the pale faced guys? Because they consider the vote theft issue a racial issue, and that ain’t their viewers.”
Greg Palast

The corporate media and their friends in the Democratic Party are whipping up so much hatred and disinformation that it is almost impossible to discuss Russia or its president, Vladimir Putin. Putin is a multi-purpose villain. He is blamed for the vote theft conducted by white Americans against black people that resulted in the Donald Trump presidency.

Because so much of the ginned up vitriol is conducted on orders from the Democratic Party, black people have joined in spreading the misinformation. The headline for a recent article in The Root proclaimed , “Evidence Shows Hackers Changed Votes in the 2016 Election but No One Will Admit It.” The alleged hackers in the story are said to be Russian. But apparently too much was alleged in this piece because The Rootlater removed the article with a disclaimer . “This story was an opinion piece asserting there was evidence that hackers changed votes in the 2016 election. However, a number of statements in the piece are disputed by experts. As a result, we have pulled it down for editorial review, and will update it once that review is completed.”

“Black people have joined in spreading the misinformation.”

What is clear is that the Republicans stole the 2016 election for Donald Trump with a combination of voter suppression and outright theft directed against black people. Trump supposedly won the state of Michigan) by a 10,000 vote margin, but more than 75,000 votes  cast in majority black cities Flint and Detroit went uncounted because of “malfunctioning” voting machines. An additional 449,000 voters in that state were purged from the rolls through the infamous Crosscheck  system.

The National Security Agency (NSA) planted a story of Russians breaching voting data. That claim was and is still denied by some of the states alleged to be victims. Like almost every other charge lodged against Russia there is no corroboration from a disinterested source. It is true that the state of Georgia mysteriously deleted voter data  from servers.That happened because the scope of vote theft carried out with a paperless and easily hackable voting machine was about to be revealed in a lawsuit.

But all talk of stolen elections is forbidden in this country, even though it happens on a regular basis. While Republicans are the vote thieves the Democrats say little or nothing about the resulting defeats and the loss of their most loyal constituents’ citizenship rights. That is just one of the reasons they need to flog the Russiagate horse incessantly. They have nothing else to offer and are no more eager than Republicans to be associated with black people. They want our votes, but if we aren’t allowed to vote at all they pretend not to know.

“More than 75,000 votes cast in majority black cities Flint and Detroit went uncounted because of “malfunctioning” voting machines.”

Rootcolumnist Michael Harriott writes eloquently about the Republican vote theft schemes that guarantee victory for them. He rightly points out that purges of black voters  are accelerating with millions of people at risk of losing their rights. But he lost objectivity when he claimed that Russian hackers breached voting systems and actually changed votes. Even Robert Mueller says that did not happen. But the trauma of the Trump presidency and the irresponsible behavior of those explaining away their role in the debacle creates bad journalism. In the retracted piece Harriott actually uses the obsolete word Soviet not once but four times. Apparently the correct word Russian isn’t scary enough.

The 2016 election is a story of miscalculation by many people. Trump didn’t think he would win, the media who gave him free air time did so because they didn’t think he would win, and Hillary Clinton was so certain of victory that she didn’t campaign in the states that flipped and gave him an electoral college win. A sustained get out the vote effort and protection of the franchise by the Democrats might have countered the electoral larceny that made Trump the 45th president.

Who are the real villains in the story of the 2016 presidential election? Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee, the greedy “consultants” who made off with $1 billion in campaign funds and still didn’t get their person into office, and Republicans who have perfected vote thievery. They will strike again and they will do so without any help from Vladimir Putin.

By Margaret Kimberley/BlackAgendaReport

Posted by The NON-Conformist

The 19 black radicals who are still in prison after four decades

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Some African American rebels, including Mumia Abu-Jamal and members of Move, are still incarcerated for their actions during the 1970s black liberation struggle.

Image: Lisa Terry/Getty Images

 

More from the Guardian including this accompanying story .

 

Posted by Libergirl

 

‘Stand Your Ground’ Did Not Kill Markeis McGlockton Michael Drejka’s decision to shoot was inconsistent with Florida’s self-defense law.

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Markeis McGlockton and Michael Drejka both overreacted during their brief, fatal encounter in the parking lot of a Florida convenience store last week. McGlockton overreacted by pushing Drejka to the ground, and Drejka overreacted by drawing a pistol and shooting McGlockton in the chest.

Although it is hard to see how Drejka’s use of lethal force could have been justified, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri declined to arrest him, claiming his hands were tied by Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. But that is not true, and Gualtieri’s misrepresentation of the law has renewed misguided criticism of Florida’s approach to self-defense, which contrary to popular misconception does not give a free pass to armed hotheads who claim to have fired out of fear.

The incident that ended in McGlockton’s death began when Drejka approached Britany Jacobs, McGlockton’s girlfriend, as she sat in her car outside the Circle A Food Store in Clearwater. Drejka was upset that Jacobs had parked in a handicapped spot, and the ensuing argument attracted the attention of McGlockton, who was in the store buying candy for his 5-year-old son.

Video from a surveillance camera shows McGlockton emerging from the store, walking straight up to Drejka, and pushing him down. Within five seconds, Drejka, sitting on the ground, draws a gun and fires once. McGlockton staggers back into the store, grabbing his chest.

After collapsing in front of his son, McGlockton was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Drejka, who has a concealed carry permit, told police he fired because he was afraid McGlockton was about to attack him again.

“We’re precluded from making an arrest in this type of a situation,” Gualtieri claimed at a press conference the next day. “Stand Your Ground allows for a subjective belief by the person that they are in harm’s way,” the sheriff said, and “we don’t get to substitute our judgment for Drejka’s judgment.”

To the contrary, the law requires police and prosecutors to assess the judgment of someone who uses deadly force, which he is allowed to do only if he “reasonably believes” it is “necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.” It is not enough to claim you shot someone because you believed he otherwise would have killed or maimed you; that belief has to be reasonable in the circumstances.

The video shows McGlockton backing away when Drejka draws his gun. Even assuming that McGlockton was not done with Drejka after the shove, Gualtieri conceded that Drejka “probably could have” fended McGlockton off simply by brandishing the pistol. The implication is that Drejka did not reasonably believe shooting McGlockton was necessary, which means there was probable cause to arrest him.

Gualtieri obscured that point by erroneously asserting that the Stand Your Ground law, which was enacted in 2005, established a “largely subjective standard” for the use of lethal force. The question, he said, is not “what I would do, what you would do, what the public would do, what someone else would do.” What really matters, he suggested, is “the person’s subjective determination of the circumstance they were in” and “the fear that they had.”

Not so. Because a shooter’s assessment of the situation has to be reasonable (even if it ultimately proves to have been mistaken), it does matter what other people would do in the same circumstances. In that respect, Florida’s criteria for self-defense did not change in 2005, and they are similar to those that apply throughout the country.

The signature feature of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, as the moniker suggests, is that people attacked in public places do not have a duty to retreat. But that rule, which most states have adopted and Gualtieri said he supports, did not figure in the sheriff’s decision.

Gualtieri emphasized that someone who legally uses force in self-defense is immune from arrest under Florida law. But he never satisfactorily explained why that description applies to Michael Drejka.

By Jacob Sullum/Reason

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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