Category Archives: guns

Gun Ownership Among Black People Is Growing Rapidly and It’s Women Who’re Leading the Charge

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) — Sitting in a classroom above a gun range, a woman hesitantly says she isn’t sure she could ever shoot and kill someone, even to protect herself. Couldn’t she just aim for their leg and try to maim them?

Her instructor says self-defense is not about killing someone but is instead about eliminating a threat.

If the gun gets taken away by a bad guy, the instructor says, “I promise you, they’re not going to be having any sympathy or going through the thought process you are.”

Gently, she adds that if the student isn’t comfortable with the lethal potential of the gun, buying one might not be for her.

Marchelle Tigner, known to her students and others as “Tig,” is on a mission: to train at least 1 million women how to shoot a firearm. She had spent no time around guns before joining the National Guard. Now, as a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault, she wants to give other nonwhite women the training she hadn’t had.

“It’s important, especially for Black women, to learn how to shoot,” Tigner said, noting that Black women are more likely to be victims of domestic violence. “We need to learn how to defend ourselves.”

It’s hard to find definitive statistics on gun ownership, but a study by the Pew Research Center released this month indicated that just 16 percent of “non-white women” identified themselves as gun owners, compared with about 25 percent of white women. Other Pew surveys in recent years have shown a growing acceptance of firearms among African-Americans: In 2012, one found that less than a third of Black households viewed gun ownership as positive; three years later, that number had jumped. By then, 59 percent of Black families saw owning guns as a necessity.

Few states track gun permits by race or gender. But a recent study by gun-rights advocate and researcher John Lott showed that Black women outpaced other races and genders in securing concealed carry permits between 2000 and 2016 in Texas, one of the few states that keep detailed demographic information.

Philip Smith founded the National African American Gun Association in 2012 during Black History Month to spread the word that gun ownership was not something reserved for whites. He figured it would ultimately attract about 300 members, a number achieved in its first month. It now boasts 20,000 members in 30 chapters across the country.

“I thought it would be the brothers joining,” Smith said. But instead, he found something surprising — more Black women joining, most of them expressing concerns about living either alone or as single parents and wanting to protect themselves and their homes.

In recent months, he said politics also have emerged as a reason why he finds more Blacks interested in becoming gun owners.

“Regardless of what side you’re on, in the fabric of society right now, there’s an undertone, a tension that you see that groups you saw on the fringes 20 years ago are now in the open,” he said. “It seems to me it’s very cool to be a racist right now. It’s in fashion, it’s a trend.”

On top of that, the shootings of Black men and boys around the country have left Smith and others concerned that racism can make a Black person a perceived threat, even when carrying a firearm legally. He and his organization take pains to coach members on what to do when stopped by police, but not everyone is comforted.

“It’s disheartening to think that you have everything in order: Your license to carry. You comply. You’re not breaking the law. You’re not doing anything wrong. And there’s a possibility you could be shot and killed,” said Laura Manning, a 50-year-old payroll specialist for ADP from Atlanta. “I’m not going to lie. I’m just afraid of being stopped whether I have my gun or not.”

At the training session in Lawrenceville, a town just outside Atlanta, about 20 students gathered on a recent Saturday morning to go over basic safety lessons and instructions. They started with orange plastic replica guns as Tigner demonstrated proper stance and grip. They are taught not to put a finger on the trigger until it’s time to shoot and to keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Tigner plays to their protective instincts by telling them always to know what is beyond their target so they don’t accidentally shoot a young child or another innocent bystander.

After about an hour in the classroom, the women walked downstairs and into the Bull’s Eye Indoor Gun Range. Some flinched as the crack of gunfire blasted from a series of bays. They were each shown how to load a magazine and given the chance to do it themselves — several of them struggling to get the bullets into the spring-loaded magazine with their long fingernails. Then, they took turns firing a Glock 19 semi-automatic 9mm at targets about 5 yards down range.

“The bad guy’s dead. He’s not getting back up,” Tigner tells one student who beams with pride as they look over a target riddled with bullet holes.

Jonava Johnson, another student, says it took her a long time to decide to get a gun. For years, she was afraid of them after an ex-boyfriend from high school threatened her and shot and killed her new boyfriend in front of her. She was just 17.

Flash forward about 30 years and her daughter was sexually assaulted in their home. At the time, she thought about getting a gun for protection but decided to get a guard dog instead. But she has since changed her mind.

“I think that’s the way it’s always been in the Black community: It was never OK for us” to own a gun, said Johnson, 50. But now? “I hope I never have to kill anybody, but if it comes down to me or my children, they’re out.”

By Associated Press

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Michele Bachmann Calls Minneapolis Cop An ‘Affirmative-Action Hire’ Adding to Unwanted Attention Brought to Somali Community

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The killing of an unarmed Australian woman by a Minneapolis police officer who is a Somali-American has turned an unwelcome spotlight on the city’s beleaguered Somali community, where many again find themselves on the defensive.

The city’s police chief said Officer Mohamed Noor’s race and ethnicity had nothing to do with the July 15 killing of Justine Damond, who was shot after she called 911 to report a possible rape. But negative comments have included former U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s recent statement that Noor was an “affirmative-action hire by the hijab-wearing mayor of Minneapolis” — an apparent reference to the fact that Mayor Betsy Hodges has worn a head scarf when meeting with leaders of the city’s Somali-American community. Bachmann also suggested Noor may have shot Damond for “cultural” reasons.

But Mohamud Noor, a community advocate who is not related to the officer, said the shooting “has nothing to do with the Somali community, period.”

“It’s easy to target individuals who are from a small minority community and say, ‘See, I told you so,’ rather than focusing on the issue we have, which is a police issue.”

Damond, a white, 40-year-old spiritual teacher who was engaged to be married in August, was shot by Officer Noor as he sat in the passenger seat of a police vehicle. Noor’s partner, who was in the driver’s seat, told investigators he was startled by a loud noise immediately before Damond approached the squad car. Noor fired across his partner and through the driver’s side window, hitting Damond once in the abdomen.

Police Chief Janee Harteau, who resigned Friday, criticized Noor’s actions but said he was well-trained. On Thursday, she dismissed the notion that he was an affirmative-action hire, saying: “This is about an individual officer’s actions. … It’s not about race or ethnicity.”

From Sunday until noon Friday, the city had logged 55 complaints to its civil rights division, many expressing concern or anger about the shooting. Several were characterized as derogatory, discriminatory or anti-Muslim. At least one death threat was made against Noor.

Minnesota is home to the largest Somali community in the United States, roughly 57,000 people according to the latest census figures, most of whom live in the Minneapolis area. The immigrants have been coming to Minnesota from their war-torn homeland since the 1990s, drawn by generous social services and the sense of community among the diaspora.

Minneapolis has made an effort in recent years to hire more Somali officers to ensure the department “reflects the city,” and Hodges said that effort will continue. The Somali officers on the force are seen as community role models, and are among the success stories of the immigrants in Minnesota.

The Somali community also is seeing its political influence grow. Ilhan Omar gained worldwide attention when she was elected to be the United States’ first Somali-American state legislator last November. Her election followed that of Abdi Warsame to the Minneapolis City Council in 2013. He was the first Somali elected to a U.S. city council. Somalis also serve on the Minneapolis and Mankato school boards.

But there have been troubles along the way, too.

More than 22 young men from the community have left the state since 2007 to join al-Shabab in Somalia, and roughly a dozen people have left in recent years to join militants in Syria, including the Islamic State group. In November, nine men were sentenced on terror charges for plotting unsuccessfully to join the group and fight in Syria.

Separately, a 20-year-old Somali-American went on a stabbing rampage at a shopping mall in St. Cloud last September, wounding 10 people before an off-duty police officer fatally shot him.

Community, city and government leaders have worked to combat such violence, with programs including a pilot project designed to counter violent extremism by bolstering social services for Somali youth. State funding was allocated to similar programs to help keep the community engaged.

Farhio Khalif, a Somali and women’s advocate, called Damond’s shooting “unacceptable” and said the incident has taken a toll on local Somalis.

“We didn’t do anything wrong,” she said. “We are Minnesotans. We come together and light the candle as Minnesotans and treating us as different is unfair. … Just like in the Somali terrorist cases — this community is not a terrorist community.”

Abdirizak Bihi, another community advocate, said when other officers have fatally shot people, city leaders have typically reserved judgment until all facts are in and the police union has stood up for the officers. In this case, he noted, the union hasn’t been vocal and the police chief spoke out against the officer’s actions.

“What in the world is that supposed to mean?” he said. “This was completely different because of his ethnicity, and that’s what scares the hell out of us.”

By Tracy/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Pro-Gun, Pro-Labor and Anti-Racist, Redneck Revolt Is Trying to Steer Whites Away from Trump, Right-Wing Militias

In the era of right-wing populism, white Americans are not monolithic in their support of Trump but rather are reacting to the current circumstances in different ways. Donald Trump did garner a majority of whites’ votes in last year’s presidential election with his ‘dog whistle’ slogan ‘Make America Great Again’ that appealed to white fears about losing their country and his overtly racist talking points. However, beyond his core base of supporters that embraces his reactionary policies of white nationalism, other white folks have decided to resist by packing Congressional town hall meetings, protesting in the streets and organizing for positive change.

Still another group of whites has taken a far different approach. Just as the civil rights movement had the SCLC, SNCC, CORE and the NAACP alongside the Deacons of Defense, the Black Panthers and the Black Power movement, some white anti-racism groups are employing methods of direct action to seek justice and fight back against their racial brethren.

Redneck Revolt is one of those organizations. The word “Redneck” conjures up certain images, particularly for a Black audience, and those images likely involve Confederate flags, pickup trucks and overt racism. This, however, is not what the Redneck Revolt is about. Think John Brown, the Free State of Jones or the Young Patriots. The Young Patriots, in particular, were a group of poor, white migrants from Appalachia who found common cause with the Black liberation and freedom struggles of the 1960s and joined forces with Fred Hampton of the Chicago Black Panther Party. This was part of the original Rainbow Coalition, which included the radical Puerto Rican group the Young Lords. Together, the coalition fought against racism and capitalist exploitation in Chicago and beyond.

Fast forward 40 years. Redneck Revolt formed in 2009 as an outgrowth of the Kansas-based John Brown Gun Club, a firearms training project, as Alternet reported. The group seized on the contradictions of the Tea Party movement, which attracted working-class folks who were hit hard by the policies of the wealthy, yet came out in favor of those same policies, which benefited the rich and exploited the poor.

According to its organizing principles, the group is anti-racist and anti-fascist and is comprised of working-class and poor people standing up against white supremacy. Redneck Revolt also advocates for “organized defense of our communities” and calls itself an “above ground militant formation” that is here to defend community and takes a stand against capitalism. The group believes that it is working in the tradition of working-class whites who have a history of “rebellion against tyranny and oppression” as opposed to the other working-class white tradition of being “foot soldiers of genocide and oppression.”

“In the periods before widespread adoption of white supremacist ideals, the white working class openly rebelled and found common cause alongside slaves, natives and other people being attacked and exploited,” the group says in its statement of principles, noting that in light of this cross-racial unity, the rich created laws in favor of white workers at the expense of nonwhite workers and servants to drive a wedge between them.

Redneck Revolt says it wants to incite a movement of white working people that will lead to the liberation of all working people regardless of race, religion and other designations. They occupy white spaces such as gun shows, NASCAR races and flea markets, according to Raw Story, and offer themselves as an alternative to the right-wing militias and white supremacist hate groups.

“In an age of a growing reactionary right wing and continued attacks on marginalized communities, it is paramount to discuss the role that armed defense can play in growing and developing liberatory social movements,” the group says.

“This is the sort of organizing essential to combating right-wing populism,” said Bill Fletcher Jr., a racial justice and labor activist who is the former president of TransAfrica Forum and a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies.  “This organizing must confront race while directing white workers toward a realization as to who their actual fight should be with, as opposed to blaming Black people for the ills of the white working class.

“This is not about diversity trainings but organizing against the Right and centering the struggles against racism and capitalism.”

​At a time when the white reactionary politicians and organizations racially scapegoat Black people, Latinos, Muslims and others, groups such as Redneck Revolt are part of an antifascist (sometimes referred to as antifa) movement that acts as a militant left-wing counterforce to neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan and alt-right nationalists in the streets.

In areas where the extremist white-nationalist right has held pro-Trump “free-speech” rallies — places such as Portland, Oregon, Harrisburg, Pa., Pikeville, Ky., Berkeley, Calif., Asheboro, N.C., among others  — a coalition of groups including the Redneck Revolt is responding and challenging the rhetoric and actions of what it sees as a dangerous trend in America of a new outpouring of pro-white groups that are ready to be violent against those it considers a danger to the country and their way of life.

Redneck Revolt sees itself as embodying the fight-back spirit of John Brown and laying claim as a white working-class organization that will challenge the policies, rhetoric and actions of Trump and his supporters.

By David Love/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

An Ill-Advised Lawsuit Against Black Lives Matter Activists

Last July, Gavin Long, a black, 29-year-old former Marine, ambushed police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, killing three officers and wounding three more before being killed. Now one of the wounded, who was rendered permanently disabled in the shooting, has filed a federal lawsuit against the Black Lives Matter movement and activists including DeRay Mckesson and Johnetta Elzie, whom he blames for inciting the attack.

Image: Time Magazine

The unnamed police officers’ injuries were so grave, and so grievously unfair, that it’s not hard to understand this officer’s urge to hold someone accountable. But blaming Black Lives Matter is wrong.

Passages like the following are typical of the complaint:

In 2016, as a leader of BLACK LIVES MATTER, DERAY MCKESSON and the other Defendants planned the Summer of Chaos, Weekend of Rage, and used the internet and social media to organize, stage and orchestrate protests and to attend and/or lead multiple protests and violence that accompanied the protests including, among many others, those in Ferguson, Missouri; Baltimore, Maryland; McKinney, Texas; Dallas, Texas; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The Baton Rouge protests, in large part, took place outside the Baton Rouge Police Department located in front of the former Woman’s Hospital on Airline Highway. This place is the same area where this shooting took place.

More from The Atlantic

Posted by Libergirl

Number of US police shooting victims to approach 1,000 by end of year – report

Number of US police shooting victims to approach 1,000 by end of year – report

Fans On Colin Kaepernick’s Statement That Modern Police Forces Derive from Slave Patrols: He’s Right!

Amid news that a Minnesota police officer was acquitted of manslaughter in the killing of Philando Castile, actor Michael B. Jordan and free-agent NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick have weighed in — and the latter has made a damning declaration.

Jordan posted on Instagram a list of several Black men and women who have been killed at the hands of police without a conviction.

“They want us to feel helpless & right now I feel it,” he wrote Saturday, June 17, before posting a list of questions wondering how to tackle the issue. “I know I’m going to be a part of the change, and not just today, every day until we see real change … I am Philando Castile.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVddgPNBosX/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=7&wp=640#%7B%22ci%22%3A0%2C%22os%22%3A1346.63%7D

Castile’s girlfriend streamed the aftermath of Officer Jeronimo Yanez shooting the motorist after he reached to show Yanez his gun registration. Castile bled out in front of his girlfriend and her daughter and outrage poured in from around the nation.

Kaepernick looked at the historical implications of yet another police officer being acquitted over the killing of a Black person, comparing present-day cops to the slave patrols first developed in Carolina colony in 1704, according to Victor E. Kappeler, Ph.D. professor at Eastern Kentucky University’s College of Justice and Safety.

View image on Twitter

A system that perpetually condones the killing of people, without consequence, doesn’t need to be revised, it needs to be dismantled!

I think @Kaepernick7 has done a lot of good. Comparing cops to the slave patrol is where he loses me. No better than wearing the pig socks.

More from A Moore/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Ex-Seattle Police Chief Condemns Systemic Police Racism Dating Back to Slave Patrols

On Wednesday, President Obama met at the White House with law enforcement officials and civil rights leaders. President Obama hosted the meeting one week after the fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, and the killing of five police officers by a sniper in Dallas. While the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile made national headlines, they were not isolated incidents. According to a count by The Guardian, at least 37 people have been killed by police in the United States so far this month. That’s more than the total number of people killed by police in Britain since the year 2000. Overall, police in the United States have killed a total of 585 people so far this year. We speak to former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper, author of the new book “To Protect and to Serve: How to Fix America’s Police.”

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: On Wednesday, President Obama met at the White House with law enforcement officials and civil rights leaders. President Obama hosted the meeting one week after the police—fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, and the killing of five police officers by a sniper in Dallas.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The roots of the problems we saw this week date back not just decades, date back centuries. There are cultural issues, and there are issues of race in this country, and poverty and a whole range of problems that will not be solved overnight. But what we can do is to set up the kinds of respectful conversations that we’ve had here, not just in Washington, but around the country, so that we institutionalize a process of continually getting better.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: While the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile made national headlines, they were not isolated incidents. According to a count by The Guardian, at least 37 people have been killed by police in the United States so far this month. That’s more than the total number of people killed by police in Britain since the year 2000. Overall, police in the United States have killed a total of 585 people so far this year.

AMY GOODMAN: After Wednesday’s summit, President Obama said the nation is “not even close” to resolving issues between police and the communities they serve.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We’re going to have to do more work together in thinking about how we can build confidence that after police officers have used force, and particularly deadly force, that there is confidence in how the investigation takes place and that justice is done.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, our next guest writes, quote, “American policing is in crisis. … Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are two of the most recent casualties in what has become a deadly epidemic.” It may surprise you to learn who wrote those words—not a Black Lives Matter activist, but a former big city police chief. Norm Stamper is the former police chief of Seattle, Washington. He joins us now from Los Angeles, California. His new book, To Protect and to Serve: How to Fix America’s Police. He recently wrote an article for Time magazine called “Police Forces Belong to the People.” His previous book headlined Breaking Rank: A Top Cop’s Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing.

Norm Stamper, welcome back to Democracy Now! As you look at what happened in the last week alone, not to mention what has happened in the years since you were the chief of police in Seattle, what are your comments about how police are trained to deal with communities of color?

NORM STAMPER: You know, the training of police officers is a very prominent theme in the conversation about police reform, and it’s, of course, very, very important. But there are much deeper and important issues, as far as I’m concerned, namely those associated with the institution itself, the structure of the organization, the culture that arises out of that structure. It’s paramilitary. It’s bureaucratic. It insulates and isolates police officers from the communities that they are here to serve.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So what would you say, Norm Stamper, are some of the systemic problems of police violence? And what do you think has led to—you referred to the paramilitary nature of the police forces now. What do you think accounts for that?

NORM STAMPER: I think what accounts for it—there are several factors, one of which is that in 1971 Richard Nixon famously proclaimed drugs public enemy number one—drug abuse—and declared all-out war on drugs, which was really a declaration of war against his own people. And overwhelmingly, young people, poor people, people of color suffered, and have continued to suffer over the decades as a result of a decision to put America’s front-line police officers on the front lines of the drug war as foot soldiers. And then we wonder why there’s such a strain in the relationship between police and community, and particularly those communities that are entrenched in poverty and other economic disadvantage, communities that historically have been neglected or abused or oppressed by their own police departments. So we really intensified and escalated the country’s war against poor people with that drug war. And we have spent $1.3 trillion prosecuting that war since the 1970s, incarcerated literally tens of millions. Please hear that figure: tens of millions of disproportionately young people and poor people and people of color. What do we have to show for it? Drugs are more readily available at lower prices and higher levels of potency. It’s time for us to end that drug war. That began the militarization of policing, without a doubt.

9/11 is another milestone, for obvious reasons. The federal government began throwing military surplus at local law enforcement agencies, such that, in terms of how they look, in terms of how they’re equipped, in terms of how they are weaponized, America’s police forces look more like the military than domestic peacekeepers.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to remarks made by the New York police commissioner, Bill Bratton, who was speaking Sunday on Face the Nation.

COMMISSIONER BILL BRATTON: Police officers come from the community. We don’t bring them in from Mars; they come from the communities they police. And over the years, increasingly, we’ve had much more diversity in policing—Muslim officers, increasing numbers of African-American officers, Latino officers. And that’s a good thing, because the community wants to see that. And that’s part of the way we bridge the divide that currently exists between police and community, a divide that has been closing and a divide that we hope, over time—and certainly here in New York, I can speak for our efforts here the last several years, myself and Mayor de Blasio—to not only bridge the divide, but to close it.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. Your response?

NORM STAMPER: Our police officers do, in fact, come from the community. As Bill Bratton said, they don’t come from Mars. They are of us. They live among us. They are motivated by a variety of different interests in becoming a police officer. It’s not that—that the candidates that we’re selecting, necessarily, are poor candidates. It is what happens to them when they get acculturated by this law enforcement structure that makes it clear to them that they are on the front lines of a war against their own people. And so you get police officers heading out to put in a shift who are feeling that the people are the enemy.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, I want to turn to Republican Senator Tim Scott, who spoke on the floor of the Senate Wednesday about being the victim of racial profiling. Scott is one of only two African Americans in the U.S. Senate.

SEN. TIM SCOTT: In the course of one year, I’ve been stopped seven times by law enforcement officers—not four, not five, not six, but seven times in one year—as an elected official. Was I speeding sometimes? Sure. But the vast majority of the time, I was pulled over for nothing more than driving a new car in the wrong neighborhood, or some other reason just as trivial.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: That was Republican Senator Tim Scott speaking Wednesday. So, Norm Stamper, can you respond to what he said, and also whether you think the police is plagued with systemic racism?

NORM STAMPER: Well, let me start with that question. The short answer is yes. I can also cite another example closer to home for me. A former King County executive, Ron Sims, African-American man, man of the cloth, spoke to a reporter recently and said, “I have been stopped eight times by the police. And invariably the question seems to be ‘What are you doing here?'” Do white members of our community get that kind of treatment? In blunt terms, it is racist. It’s a racist action on the part of an officer, if he or she does not have reasonable suspicion that a person has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime. That’s what the law says. And yet that law is systematically defied by police across this country in unlawful search-and-seizure, stop-and-frisk situations.

But there’s also systemic racism. It goes back as far as the institution. And I know President Obama made reference to the long history, the centuries-old history, of the relations between police and community, and particularly communities of color. Policing in this country has its origins in the slave patrols. And from decade to decade, generation to generation, there are still police officers in this country who act with superiority, who act in a very authoritarian, very dominant way. Part of that is their training, and only some of that, by the way, takes place in the academy. Most of it takes place in the locker room or in the front seat of a police car, when the senior officer tells the junior officer, “Forget what they taught you in the academy. You’re in the real world now.”

From DemocracyNow

Posted by The NON-Conformist