Plainclothes Police Officers are Terrorizing, Robbing and Killing Black People

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Plainclothes or undercover police officers are engaged in an inordinate amount of killings, suggesting there is a fundamental problem with the practice of placing law enforcement out of uniform.
In the New York Police Department, plainclothes officers are involved in fatal shootings far in excess of their numbers on the force, as The Intercept reported. An analysis of 174 fatal shootings by NYPD on-duty officers since 2000 found that plainclothes or undercover officers, who are approximately 6 percent of the force, were involved in nearly one third — 31 percent — or 54 of those killings.
According to a 2016 report from the NYPD, plainclothes cops accounted for nearly half of officers involved in “adversarial conflicts” in which police are in confrontation with a suspect and intentionally discharge a weapon. Specialty units such as anti-crime units, which proactively pursue people on the street, claim one-third of these gun discharges. These elite units of plainclothes officers, unlike their uniformed counterparts, do not respond to 911 calls but instead pursue violent criminal activity while or before it takes place. Typically, undercover officers patrol without body cameras, use unmarked vehicles, and operate without accountability. Further, unlike beat NYPD cops who may form relations with the community, plainclothes police are known to instigate, harass and engage in aggressive and dangerous behavior.

Plainclothes officers have long been associated with death in the Black community, failing to protect and placing Black lives in harm’s way. In the 1960s, the NYPD used Black undercover officers to infiltrate Black radical organizations through the department’s clandestine operations, the Bureau of Special Services, or BOSS. The NYPD was monitoring Malcolm X up until his assassination. Undercover agent Gene Roberts was a member of Malcolm X’s OAAU and the minister’s chief of security. Known as “Brother Gene,” he unsuccessfully administered CPR to the fallen leader at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem. This man who betrayed Malcolm went on to infiltrate the Black Panthers. FBI agents worked undercover in the Nation of Islam, including John Ali, the NOI national secretary. Another undercover NYPD agent, Ray Wood, who infiltrated the Bronx chapter of CORE, was reportedly seen running out of the Audubon at the time of the assassination.

Over the past few decades, plainclothes officers have been involved in the slayings of a number of Black men. For example, in 1999, members of the infamous NYPD street crimes unit killed Amadou Diallo in a hail of 41 bullets because they reportedly thought he was a suspect and mistook his wallet for a gun. Although the NYPD disbanded the unit, the brutality against Black people continued unabated.

Another casualty of undercover police was Sean Bell, who was shot to death in 2006 at his bachelor party, hours before his wedding. Undercover officers opened fire on Bell’s car with 50 shots, killing Bell, 23 and injuring two others. In 2013, Kimani Gray, 16, was fatally shot by members of an anti-crime unit in Crown Heights. The officer who choked Eric Garner to death in 2014 on Staten Island on suspicion of selling untaxed “loosie” cigarettes was working in plainclothes as well.
The Baltimore Police Department abolished plainclothes policing because of a “cutting corners mindset” among crime fighting units, as the Baltimore Sun reported, and as a result of federal indictments against seven officers who were engaging in robbery and extortion of Baltimore residents, filing false police reports and fraudulently collecting overtime pay. Members of the Gun Trace Task Force acted as both cops and robbers, stealing large amounts of money from Black men with no recourse. Such units charged with fighting and reducing crime have violated the rights of the public.
Undercover police are also a common fixture of antifascist protests, infiltrating crowds and student activist groups that oppose the presence of white supremacist hate groups on college campuses. As white extremist groups continue their demonstrations, police arrest anti-racist protesters, sometimes at home or their place of work, in an effort to intimidate left-wing and racial justice activists. This as campus, state and local police face accusations they protect and collaborate with white supremacists. For example, when white supremacist Richard Spencer was scheduled for a speaking engagement at Michigan State University in March, 200 officers from eight different departments were present that day, including nine undercover officers, of whom two were campus police.

As plainclothes officers violate the civil rights of Black people, sometimes they are taken to court and made to answer for their crimes. In 2014, a federal jury awarded art student Jordan Miles, 22, $119,000 for a 2010 false arrest and beating from three white Pittsburgh police officers. Because of his race and dreadlocks, the police, who reportedly assumed Miles was a drug dealer, rolled up in an unmarked car, without identifying themselves, asking for drugs, money and a gun. Jacqueline Little, a Philadelphia resident and IRS employee, sued the city and three plainclothes officers who pulled her over, claimed she had drugs in her possession, and falsely arrested her. She admitted herself to a hospital after sustaining injuries from the tight handcuffs while in police custody. Meanwhile, Glen Grays, a New York postal worker, was nearly struck while making a delivery by an unmarked NYPD police vehicle, then arrested in his uniform. The officers involved had a history of various civil rights complaints filed against them.
It is clear that plainclothes police are a problem, particularly where Black people are concerned.

By David Love/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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Liars Club: Ollie North and General Kelly

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Oliver North is a liar. He was also part of a conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine. Furthermore, he was part of another conspiracy to build, arm and train mercenaries to fight a public/private enterprise known as the Contra war in Nicaragua. He is a shameless egocentric maniac loved by several million US television viewers who watch his nonsensical FOX series War Stories. When he was forced to testify about his activities in the aforementioned crimes, he did what most dishonorable crooks do. He snitched, spreading the blame around, implicating then Vice President George HW Bush and hinting that President Reagan was also aware of what he was doing. In other words, he wasn’t the kind of Marine who would fall on a grenade to save his brother-in-arms. Despite his non-heroism, North ultimately took the fall and was convicted of a few counts of lying. As it turned out, the conviction was overturned on a technicality after then president GW Bush pardoned several of North’s co-conspirators. Draw your own conclusions.
I was surprised when I read that Oliver North was to become the president of the National Rifle Association (NRA.) Not because that doesn’t make perfect sense, but because I figured he would have a job in the Trump White House by now. After all, he is an arrogant self-centered protofascist who thinks his military career qualifies him as an expert on all policy matters, foreign and domestic. Kind of like that Marine in the Trump White House, John Kelly.
Kelly’s most recent comments regarding the separation of children from their parents when a family is caught illegally crossing the border are a perfect example. According to Kelly, it is “not cruel” to separate children from their parents. After all, the parents are breaking a law and the law, of course, is the law, no matter how discriminatory it is or how arbitrarily it is applied. Kelly followed these remarks by telling an interviewer that immigrants did not have the necessary skills to live in the United States. Either Kelly is ignorant of the demographics of immigration or he is intentionally using xenophobic and racist rhetoric in his campaign against migration. Either way, both remarks reveal a deeper fear and hatred that abounds in current regime in Washington.
Something else Kelly said last week was that he was not rich. As far as I can tell, he is worth around 4.5 million dollars. While that may not be rich to billionaires, let me tell you it is rich to most of the rest of us. The question I have though is how does a career military officer become a multimillionaire? This question leads me to wonder as to what types of graft and inside dealing did he participate in to accumulate that wealth? I have friends and relatives who retired from the military as officers and have nothing close to that amount of assets unless they went into the private sector after their military retirement. Kelly did no such thing. In fact, his career took him from the Marines to Homeland Security. From there, he was appointed to his current position in the Trump White House. Like most of the individuals in Congress, it appears that General Kelly took advantage of his position to fatten up his bank account. While Forbes magazine claimed in a December 22, 2016 article that most of Kelly’s worth came from his military pension, they did not break this number down or state where the rest of it came from. An article on military pensions dated January 9, 2014 reported that a four-star general with forty years in the military would receive $237, 144 a year, with cost of living increases raising that amount each year. If one counts Kelly’s original enlistment from 1970-1972, he was in the Marines for forty-two years. Now I don’t understand high finance like a stockbroker on Wall Street, but I can do addition and multiplication. I just can’t figure out how anyone collecting about a quarter million dollars a year for two years can have made that into 4.5 million . In other words, if Forbes magazine is correct when it writes that Kelly made almost all of his 4.5 million dollars from his military pension and he had only been collecting that pension for less than a year when the Forbes article was written, how did he get to be worth 4.5 million dollars? Even when one adds the income Kelly reported on hispublic disclosure form he submitted before he was appointed by Trump to head DHS, the numbers do not seem to add up. Maybe Kelly had friends who helped him invest some of that money? If so, I would like to meet those kind of people because they got some serious mojo going on. More likely, however, is something a little less magical.
Milo Minderbinder is a character in Joseph Heller’s classic satire of modern war, Catch-22. Minderbinder is a sergeant who buys and sells everything and anything he can get his hands on, from prostitutes to military weaponry. Furthermore, he sells to anyone, no matter what side they might be on. Journalist John Sack had a similar personality in his new journalism work on the Vietnam war, the book titled M. The difference between Minderbinder and Sack’s profiteering cynic was that Sack’s character was a colonel, not an NCO. I bring these characters up primarily in relation to a potential, yet unverified source of General Kelly’s financial fortunes. It is a fairly well known fact, after all, that millions of US dollars went missing during the heyday of the US military occupation of Iraq. Most of that money has not been officially recovered. Other generals, like Kelly’s fellow Marine, Mad Dog Mattis, end up on the payroll of defense contractors (Mattis sits on the board of General Dynamics)–a much safer and legal way to engage in profiteering of war makingand preparing for war. As for Kelly, he was on the board of DynCorp—a security outfit known for its mercenaries in Iraq and its coziness with Homeland Security—for a while before he became head of DHS.
Like Oliver North, General Kelly is an embarrassment to some of his fellow marines. The arrogance and self-importance of Kelly and North leaves a sour taste in the mouths of those who believe they served all those in the US, not just those whose politics they agreed with or whose bank accounts they could benefit from. Those Marines (and their fellows in the other military branches) did what they did without expectations of reward during or after the time in. Many of them have only their consciences to consider when their deeds in uniform are remembered. From where I sit, the longer Kelly and Mattis serve the current regime in DC, the more I can see just the kind of consciences they have.

By Ron Jacobs/CounterPunch

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Nashville T-shirt company releases design to benefit Waffle House victims

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Nashville T-shirt company releases design to benefit Waffle House victims

Image: Project 615 via WKRN

 

A Nashville T-shirt company known for its philanthropy has created a new design to honor and benefit the victim’s of the Waffle House shooting in Antioch.

 

Project 615’s latest shirt is a redesign of the Waffle House logo and reads “Spread Love.”

“Due to the recent tragedy at a Waffle House in Nashville, Tennessee, we are reminded just how important it is to Spread Love,” said Project 615.

“With heavy hearts, we created this tee in hopes that in some small way we can create a ripple effect to spread love after such a tragedy and to bring any relief we can to the victims who were impacted.”

All profits from the shirt will be donated to the victims of the Waffle House shooting. It is priced at $29.99.

To order, click here.

Source: Nashville T-shirt company releases design to benefit Waffle House victims

 

Posted by Libergirl

African-Americans Feel Left Out of the Gun Debate

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As the Parkland kids enjoy an outpouring of support, many who have been fighting for gun reform for years are wondering why no one is listening to them.

Weeks after the Parkland shooting, Johnetta Elzie, a civil rights activist who rose to prominence during the 2014 Ferguson protests, scrolled through her Twitter feed like most Americans, observing how the media treated the Parkland students fighting for gun reform—and she was perplexed.

These students’ ideas and voices were welcomed, she observed, while her voice and others like hers had been shunned and even ignored just four years earlier after the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. Even though, to her, they were all speaking out against the same thing: gun violence in America.

 The difference was that Elzie had been protesting police violence, specifically, which she believes is a major part of the broader gun violence debate. While the Parkland kids were lauded, she was labeled a “threat actor.” FBI agents attempted to contact her about her plans to protest at the 2016 Republican National Convention, a tactic she insists was meant to intimidate her and her family. Similar complaints and calls to action by advocacy groups like the Black Youth Project 100, Black Lives Matter, NAACP chapters and the American Civil Liberties Union were criticized and classified as attacks on American law enforcement heroes.

More at Politico.com

Posted by Libergirl

The Gun Industry’s Favorite Trick A major gun maker may have declared bankruptcy in order to avoid real change.

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Remington, the weapons giant that produced the semi-automatic rifle used in the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, declared bankruptcy in a Delaware court filing Sunday. Across social media, people applauded the company’s demise following a very good run, if more than 200 years of profiteering off products with no explicit purpose other than murder can be summed up as good. Like so many gun manufacturers, Remington seems to have succumbed to a sales drop brought on by the election of the gun industry’s self-declared “true friend in the White House,” thus ending the panic-driven gun rush of the Obama era. Just days after the March for Our lives, Remington’s fall appeared as a hopeful sign that the gun industry has real weak spots. That, or an industry titan is just putting on a different shell game this time around.

On Twitter, Georgetown University law professor Heidi Li Feldman pointed out an issue largely uncommented on in other reports about Remington’s Chapter 11 filing. In 2015, one living survivor and the families of nine Sandy Hook victims filed suit against Remington, accusing the gun maker of marketing a war weapon to civilians. A Connecticut court dismissed the case in 2016, but the state’s Supreme Court is currently weighing whether to reverse that decision and allow the case to proceed. The Remington bankruptcy filing stalls the process, halting the case for a period.

“The people who own gun companies really, really do not want to see a precedent established which permits the sort of suit the Sandy Hook plaintiffs are bringing to go forward on the merits,” Feldman told me. “When you file for Chapter 11, you stay any pending litigation. That means the Connecticut Supreme Court isn’t going to hand down their decision while Remington is in Chapter 11. This gives the people who will be running the company while it’s in Chapter 11 a chance to try to negotiate a settlement with the Sandy Hook families.”

Feldman suspects that Remington, in an effort to get the Sandy Hook plaintiffs to drop the suit, might come to an agreement on any number of settlement terms. And while “Remington isn’t going to give away the store, so to speak,” Feldman notes the company may agree to some plaintiff demands as a way of effectively getting ahead of more broad-based regulation in the future. That is, Remington would likely be willing to make a deal as long as it views that agreement as low-risk for its long-term bottom line, and most importantly, a stopgap against more broad-based industry reform.

“If there’s a rising tide of hostility towards the availability of a product, and you want to minimize the chance you’ll be regulated legislatively, one thing that companies do is take the pressure off politicians to enact regulations by making various commitments,” Feldman said. “It’s a shrewd move. Just as an example, gun companies might be willing to commit to, say, age-based restrictions on who retailers can sell guns to in order to take the edge off of social pressure, and therefore political pressure, to regulate the age at which people can buy guns. They preserve more of their market by giving up a little bit of it. If you are a business operating against the background of potential regulation, you may want to avert the pressure for there to be formal legal regulations because that may be more draconian than what you would want. That way, you don’t have to be forced into a more comprehensive oversight regime. That’s what’s really going on here.”

If Remington is able to arrive at a settlement plan that ends the lawsuit brought by the Sandy Hook plaintiffs—who are likely more motivated by mission than money—there are multiple benefits for the gun maker.

“There’s a tremendous value to Remington to having the plaintiffs withdraw the suit. Which means that the issue of whether or not people can generally bring causes of action like the one the Sandy Hook plaintiffs are trying to bring would be put to one side. That’s quite valuable to Remington. It’s worth enough for them to think creatively, especially in light of the galvanization of public opinion against the manufacture and sale of assault weapons, to think about doing some self-regulation that they wouldn’t have thought about even six months ago,” Feldman says.

If the case were to move forward, so would the discovery process. And as Los Angeles Times writer Michael Hiltzik notes, “That process could unearth reams of internal communications that could be embarrassing if they indicated, say, that Remington deliberately structured its marketing to feed a market of young adults harboring fantasies of mass mayhem.”

In the meantime, as Feldman notes, Remington has plans to keep right on manufacturing and selling guns from the soft perch of Chapter 11 protection. While what precisely the company’s future holds is unclear, the example of Colt Holdings Co. might offer some insights. In June 2015, Colt filed for bankruptcy protection. Six months later, in January 2016, it emerged from Chapter 11 with a new government contract to produce M4 and M4A1 rifles for the military and a focus on expanding business and selling more guns than ever.

According to Remington’s court filings, its bankruptcy claim absolves the company of $775 million in debt. The gun manufacturer predicts it will emerge from Chapter 11 by May. Lawyers for the Sandy Hook families have said they do not anticipate Remington’s bankruptcy filing will “affect the families’ case in any material way.” Remington is also involved in another ongoing lawsuit, which charges its Model 700 rifle has a trigger defect that causes accidental shots to be fired. That class action suit is also likely to be affected by the bankruptcy filing, though how is still unclear.

Remington first announced its plans to seek Chapter 11 in February. It delayed its filing after the Parkland shooting, likely reasoning that making the move on the heels of a mass shooting would be a massive PR disaster. But with growing momentum and the impending Connecticut Supreme Court decision, the gun maker needed to make a move sooner than later.

“There’s been a cumulative sense that we may be at a turning point in terms of regulating the gun industry,” Feldman told me. “And it was in Remington’s interest to seek bankruptcy protection and do their reorganization before anything like that happened.”

By Kali Holloway / AlterNet

Posted by The NON-Conformist

The Racist Origin of the Second Amendment and the Rise of Black Gun Ownership

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Two members of the Black Panther Party are met on the steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento, May 2, 1967, by Police Lt. Ernest Holloway, who informs them they will be allowed to keep their weapons as long as they cause no trouble and do not disturb the peace. Earlier several members had entered the Assembly chambers and had their guns taken away.Two members of the Black Panther Party are met on the steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento, May 2, 1967, by Police Lt. Ernest Holloway, who informs them they will be allowed to keep their weapons as long as they cause no trouble and do not disturb the peace. Earlier several members had entered the Assembly chambers and had their guns taken away.

Siwatu-Salama Ra, 26, will likely spend the next two years in a Michigan prison. In early February, a Wayne County jury found the six-months pregnant Black mother of a toddler guilty of felonious assault and felony firearm possession. She was sentenced last week.

Outside her mother’s Detroit home last summer, she pulled a gun on a neighbor, who Ra says used her vehicle to hit her car with Ra’s 2-year-old daughter inside, and then tried to “run over” her and her mother. The firearm was not discharged, in fact, Ra alleged the gun was not even loaded. Her attorneys argued that her actions were in self-defense. An appeal is underway.

Ra is a Concealed Pistol License holder. Her case — which centers on self-defense with a firearm in a Stand Your Ground state — is happening during a national debate over gun laws and the Second Amendment, which states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The debate over an individual’s right to bear arms was reignited since last month’s mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, where 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz took 17 lives, has been framed as yet another partisan conflict that has divided the country. Those on the right support the Second Amendment, and those on the left are calling for either its repeal, or tighter gun control. But the reality is more nuanced: some on the right support gun law reform, and some on the left support the Second Amendment.

In particular, many people of color say they have good reason to be protective of their right to bear arms.

In Dallas, Texas, Yafeuh Balogun describes himself as being “on the left side of things” even though in 2008 he co-founded Guerrilla Mainframe, a political organization that supports the Second Amendment and the basic right to defend yourself. Guerrilla Mainframe is also a community organization that provides programs for food, clothing and shelter, health and wellness, and self-defense, which includes firearms safety and training. It is part of the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, a coalition of several organizations with a common goal of educating and arming African American communities to “defend themselves against police brutality and fratricide.”

“I think a lot of people, especially African Americans, are really starting to wake up to the idea of self-defense, especially when we have a megalomanic like Donald Trump in office.”

Balogun seems to be correct. Gun sales, and gun club memberships among African Americans have gone up since the election of Trump, whose campaign was backed by the National Rifle Association. However, gun sales in the overall population have gone down since the election.

After the Parkland shooting, corporations such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kroger, and Walmart raised the minimum age for firearm sales from 18 to 21. The Florida Legislature also raised the state age for gun purchases to 21. But reform advocates don’t think that goes far enough. They’re calling for a ban of assault rifles, such as the AR-15, which has been a weapon of choice for mass shooters. Some are even calling for a repeal of the Second Amendment.

Balogun doesn’t think banning assault weapons will stop the violence — mass shootings, or otherwise. “It is the culture, the political climate, [racism, capitalism, imperialism, sexism/genderism, and anti-immigrant policies] in America that creates the violence. America has always been a very violent place from its inception. So, banning assault weapons does not cure it.”

And he may be right, according to historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.

Dunbar-Ortiz writes in her new book, Loaded: A Disarming of the Second Amendment, “While gun-rights proponents are hard-pressed to offer a legitimate reason for civilians to own assault weapons, they are used in a very small proportion of gun crimes. Most crimes involve ordinary handguns.”

The type of gun, Dunbar-Ortiz asserts, is not the problem. The problem is that people want to interpret the Second Amendment as being about more than individual rights.

Total gun deaths in the United States average around 37,000 a year, she writes, “with two-thirds of those deaths being suicide, leaving 12,000 homicides, a thousand of those at the hands of police.” Mass shootings, although horrible enough, account for only 2 percent of gun killings annually.

In an interview, Dunbar-Ortiz explained that the right to have a gun comes from the Bill of Rights. “And the Bill of Rights is about individual rights,” which at the time it was written meant the rights of White men who needed guns to dominate slaves and Native Americans.

There’s a misconception that the Second Amendment is about state’s rights and arming a military. It’s not, she says. The establishment of a standing army is in the Constitution. The establishment of formal militias, which became the modern-day National Guard, is in the body of the Constitution — it’s constitutional law, she adds. Collective rights are already in the Constitution.

“So the Bill of Rights is the right for each individual to practice whatever religion they want, freedom of speech, and so forth. And to arm themselves.” There was a period in time, she said, when it was against the law for the new settlers not to carry a weapon.

“But it doesn’t work for freedom movements,” said Dunbar-Ortiz. “It was created for domination of people of color — for slave patrols, and militias to kill Indians. So, it still has that element”: Now it is used to criminalize people of color, she said.

Throughout history, gun control laws have been used against people of color as a tool to invite brutal state responses. Consider the Black Panthers who armed themselves, the Native Americans who fought in the Battle of Wounded Knee, Black Lives Matter protesters, the Standing Rock uprising.

We’ve witnessed it more recently for individuals like Philando Castile, who was killed by a fearful police officer in 2016 for legally having a firearm during a traffic stop.

In 2012, a Black Florida woman, Marissa Alexander, was sentenced to 20 years for firing a gun at her estranged husband who she said was attacking her. She had a permit for the gun. Since her release last year after serving five years, she has sided with Florida Republicans and become an advocate for gun ownership and stand-your-ground defenses.

In fact, many Black people are against tighter gun laws because those laws, even more so than drug laws, continue to be used disproportionately to put them into the criminal system.

According to the 2009 report Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the US Criminal Justice System, Black people are arrested for weapons crimes at a rate 4.4 times higher than White people. FBI data for 2016 shows weapons violations at the city, state, and federal level were used to arrest Black people 42 percent of the time, and White people 56 percent. Black people make up 13 percent of the population.

Chanel Tillman of the Black Gun Owners Association in Jacksonville, Florida, said she could only imagine the horrors for people of color if gun laws were reformed.

“If they can remove firearms like that from the masses, that basically…takes them away from us,” Tillman said. “And honestly, I think that’s the biggest part of it [for us]. You can guarantee that there will be some kind of loophole that will affect Black and Brown people more than anybody else.”

Our motto is “Stay armed. Live free.” If you take our guns from us, she said, we are no longer free. “Then they are free to do whatever they want to us, and we have no way to protect ourselves.”

Tillman co-founded the Jacksonville chapter last September, and it now has 32 members.

She said she’s aware the origin of the Second Amendment was to arm White people against people of color and also understands Dunbar-Ortiz’s position that we’re not really “free” if we have to carry guns to protect us.

But, she said, “why worry, if you know you have the ability to protect yourself? You don’t have to worry about it. You just have to be proactive and ready when the time comes.”

And this is the message the national Black Gun Owners Association shares with its membership of 10,000 legal gun owners. Its one-year anniversary is in April.

“Safety and protection of family, that’s the biggest thing. And making sure we’re aware of our rights.” Firearm safety and tactical training are part of what members receive, too, she said, and someone to look out for them.

The association is not a political organization, she said, but exists for their community “to get an understanding of firearm safety and obtain proper training with people who look like them and share the same concerns as them for our people.”

Gun ownership among Black people is about the same things as for White People, she says. “Protection of self, family and property. Gun ownership has always been taught as a pseudoscience for Blacks because of slavery and Jim Crow. We aren’t here to hurt anyone, but protecting our own will come first.”

“We just want people like us to know there are gun advocate groups that are here for them,” she said. “The NRA comes out when things happen to White people, but when things happen to Black people you don’t hear from the NRA,” she said. “So, we’re hoping to bridge that gap. Somebody to stand for us when there’s a gun crime against one of us.”

Meanwhile, Detroit attorney Desiree Ferguson, who is advising on the appeal for Siwatu-Salama Ra’s Second Amendment defense, expects an uphill battle.

Appeals take a long time, and there’s a good probability that Ra could have served the two years by the time there’s a resolution. The hope, Ferguson said, lies with the governor’s office and a possible pardon or commutation. She is also hoping to get Ra released on bond pending the appeal “so that she can be with her family when she gives birth. And not have to be immediately severed from her newborn baby.”

What is certain is that gun control and Second Amendment debates do not clearly line up as left-right issues, and many people of color are faced with uneasy support for a civil right that began as a way to oppress them.

Author Dunbar-Ortiz says, if more people on the left understood the history of the Second Amendment and how it’s been used against people of color, she doubts they would support it.

“They don’t need the Second Amendment to justify self-defense. That’s an international human right. That’s a basic human right.”

By Zenobia Jeffries, YES! Magazine

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Students nationwide stage walkouts for stricter gun laws after last month’s deadly school shooting in Florida

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Students across the country — from middle school to college — began planned walkouts Wednesday, calling on state and federal legislators to enact stricter gun laws one month after the mass shooting at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Seventeen students and staff members were killed at the school in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14. On Wednesday, 3,000 schools across the nation planned to leave class at 10 a.m. local time for 17 minutes — one minute for each victim.

At Marjory Stoneman Douglas, two walkouts took place. Citing safety concerns, student government officials and administrators urged students not to leave campus, but to walk to the football field with teachers. Some students balked at the idea of a chaperoned walkout, saying they wanted to get off campus and spread their message to the broader public.

As students made their way to the football field, past a sculpture of the school Eagle mascot, they walked hand in hand or with their arms around each other. Only a few carried placards. There were no chants. Helicopters buzzed overhead.

David Hogg, 17, one of several students at the school who’ve gained national prominence for advocating gun control, live streamed the walkout on his YouTube channel.

“We have to stand up now and take action,” Hogg said. He interviewed several of his classmates.

“This is about the need for change,” another student told Hogg.

Organized by the youth branch of the Women’s March, called Empower, the National School Walkout is urging Congress to take meaningful action on gun violence and pass federal legislation that would ban assault weapons and require universal background checks for gun sales.

In Massachusetts and Ohio, students said they would head to the statehouse to lobby for new gun regulations. In Washington, D.C., hundreds of students gathered outside the White House, holding signs and marching quietly.

In Maryland, students at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute poured out the back doors of the school and onto the football field. Many of them laid down on the football field. Hundreds of Baltimore students left school to march to City Hall, calling for an end to gun violence in schools and on the city’s streets.

In Illinois, high school students from Barrington to Plainfield to Naperville to Chicago have worked with peers and school administrators and prepared signs and speeches as part of the national movement designed to prevent mass shootings and gun violence that have devastated their schools and communities for decades.

With nearly 3,000 walkouts planned across the country — at elementary schools, high schools and universities — organizers published a “tool kit” online that offered students tips on how to organize, get support from parents and guardians and share information on social media.

Earlier this week, Robert W. Runcie, superintendent of Broward County schools in Florida, notified parents he had instructed staff not to interfere with peaceful student-led protests.

“Such occasions are teachable moments, during which students can demonstrate their 1st Amendment right to be heard,” Runcie wrote in a letter to parents. “In the event students walk out or gather, school principals and assigned staff will remain with students in a designated walkout area, so that supervision is in place.”

Over the last month, students across Florida and the nation have staged spontaneous walkouts, with some leading to disciplinary action. Two weeks after the Parkland shooting, dozens of students at Ingleside Middle School in the Phoenix area were given one-day suspensions after they walked off campus.

In Needville, Texas, 20 miles southwest of Houston, Superintendent Curtis Rhodes warned students that anyone who left class would be suspended for three days, even if they had permission from their parents.

“Life is all about choices and every choice has a consequence whether it be positive or negative,” Rhodes wrote in a letter to parents posted on social media. “We will discipline no matter if it is one, fifty, or five hundred students involved.”

On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union issued advice for students who walk out, saying schools can’t legally punish them more harshly because of the political nature of their message. In Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Texas, some lawyers said they will provide free legal help to students who are punished.

In Parkland, school officials urged students not to leave campus.

“We’re just trying to protect the students,” said Jaclyn Corin, 17, the high school’s junior class president. “We’re telling everyone not to leave campus, but we can’t stop them.”

Hogg said he worried students would be “a group of soft targets” if they left campus.

Yet some students balked at the idea of a chaperoned walkout, saying they wanted to get off campus and spread their message to the broader public.

When the first bell rang Wednesday at the high school, Susana Matta Valdivieso was not sitting in Spanish class. Instead, the 17-year-old junior was hauling a stack of handwritten placards across a community park in the hope that her classmates would eventually come outside and join her.

“I’m nervous and excited because I’ve never spoken in front of a crowd of people before,” Valdivieso said with laughter as she leafed through the speech she had typed up the night before.

While student government leaders and administrators were urging Parkland students to remain on campus and walk with teachers to the school football field, Valdivieso was hoping to coax students off school grounds to take part in a public rally at the nearby North Community Park.

“This is a student-led movement,” Valdivieso said after dispatching two close friends into the school with a plan to lead their classmates outside. “We want to communicate our message to the press and the public.”

In Florida, the Parkland students’ protests in recent weeks have seen some results.

Last week, Gov. Rick Scott, in a rebuke of the National Rifle Assn., signed into law a measure that, among other things, raises the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21 and bans the sale or possession of “bump stocks,” which allow semiautomatic rifles to mimic machine guns.

The walkouts on Wednesday are among several protests planned for coming weeks. The March for Our Lives rally for school safety is expected to draw hundreds of thousands to the nation’s capital on March 24, its organizers said. And another round of school walkouts is planned for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado.

By Jenny Jarvie and Kurtis Lee/LaTimes

 

posted by The NON-Conformist

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