Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Slaying of African Americans by Police Require Federal Response

By Mildred Robertson

Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland , and the list goes on and on and on.... So many lives snuffed out for no reason.
And no one is accountable.

The police officer who murdered Eric Garner used an “illegal” choke hold. That’s a violation of police policy, but not a prosecutable offense. The fact that Eric kept repeating, “I can’t breathe…I can’t breathe,” seems to be irrelevant. Clearly, the intent of the choke hold is to restrict the airway. And the fact that paramedics and police officers alike stood and watched this unarmed citizen suffer and eventually die, convicted of nothing and guilty of at most, being big, black and selling loose cigarettes,  does not appear to give authorities or many in the main-stream public pause.
Mike Brown was an obvious threat. Again, big and black, he had just robbed a corner store…right? The police officer was so in fear for his life that he shot a fleeing Brown in the middle of the street, leaving his body lying there for hours. It was almost like the days when they would leave black people strung up on a tree so that all could see what happens to bad Ni_ _ as.

The cop who shot Tamir Rice was probably given bad information, and assumed he was in danger. So it was okay for him to shoot the young boy playing with a toy gun. I mean, how was the officer to know Tamir wasn’t a grown man with a loaded weapon? And of course, it would be too much to ask that he take a moment to investigate the situation to determine the threat. I mean after all, Tamir was black, and he was male…obviously a potential threat.  And this officer had only about 2 seconds to determine whether Tamir was a boy or a man; whether it was a gun or a toy. In those 2 seconds, he snuffed out a young life, and society does not appear to believe he should be held accountable.

And then there is Sandra...Angry Black woman that she was. On her way to a new chapter in her life, her journey was interrupted by a traffic stop that went horribly wrong when Texas State Trooper Brian Encina pulled her over for failure to signal. Bland, who was initially accused of only a traffic violation, was later forcefully removed from her vehicle, threatened with a Taser, and manhandled because she refused to put out her cigarette. She was then arrested for battery on a police officer, and inexplicably died several days later in police custody. Suicide, they said. Sad, they say, but no one is responsible other than Sandra herself.
All these “Oops” moments have received a pass from those supposedly set in place to protect the public from abuse of authority. Grand juries have refused to hold any of the officers in these and numerous other murderous situations responsible; that is, even when a grand jury is convened.

The grand jury system, clearly flawed, seems to give undue weight to the perspective of the officer. The fact that you were murdered by a police officer makes you no less dead. And your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is not diminished because it is a duly sworn officer who chooses to deprive you of these God-given rights codified in our Constitution. They must be held accountable.
The fact that a black life can be snuffed out for little or no reason, and this action can be deemed unfortunate, but “reasonable,” by institutions supposedly designed to protect citizens from corrupt governance is overwhelmingly disheartening. And the fact that there is no cohesive, organized government response to these actionable assaults on American citizens is blatantly outrageous.

Just as the Civil Rights Movement required a federal response to local assaults on its citizens, so does this current assault on the Black community by authorities sworn to protect and serve them. It is clear that many police departments and local municipalities have a symbiotic relationship that makes it difficult, if not impossible to bring to justice those officers too corrupt, biased or untrained to serve communities of color with fairness and objectivity. It is imperative that outside forces bring pressure to bear on these entities so that a general expectation of justice and fairness in the review and prosecution of police misconduct and/or criminal acts can be attained.  
Until such action is taken, people will continue to gather in the streets. Social media will continue to churn with accounts of injustice and inequality, and social unrest will continue to grow. Without a unified government response we will continue to be a divided nation catapulting toward anarchy.

That is a place where no one really is accountable.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Harvard Professor Promotes “Willie Lynch” Theory as Basis for Growth of Terrorist Organizations

By Mildred Robertson

In an essay published on LinkedIn on November 14, 2015, Harvard Professor Cass Sunstein wrote an essay titled, “Why They Hate Us.” Sunstein posits that terrorists are made, not born…and on that one point we agree. However, Sunstein goes on to say that terrorist organizations are born of the proclivity of like-minded people to come together in such groups. He believes that the group-think that occurs in these types of organizations pushes members toward a more radical and violent posture.
At first blush, his thoughts appear to be logical. But if we choose to dig a little deeper, we find that Sunstein has it backward. The fact is that acts of intolerance, prejudice, hatred, bigotry, cruelty, criminality, social and economic injustice, and other societal offenses endured by members of the group crystalize to a point that it appears the only solution is revolution. By sharing their individual struggles with societal ills, these individuals develop a collective resolve to make a change, even if that change requires violence or self-sacrifice.

This sense is heightened when those in power trivialize their complaints, protect and make excuses for perpetrators of acts perceived as offensive or unlawful by the group, refuse to provide due process to members of the group, and when the group itself is denigrated, ostracized, pursued and criminalized.
It is primarily the Willie Lynch theory, whereby open communication among oppressed people is prohibited to reduce the possibility of rebellion. In the not-to-distant past, it was illegal for groups of blacks to gather. The slave master knew that it was easier to manage slaves individually than collectively.

Right now on our own shores, “Black Lives Matter” is being treated thusly. Many in the media are demonizing the group and blaming them for social unrest in cities across the country. It would appear, from media coverage, that problems in our inner cities between Blacks and police are a result of folks in BLM stirring people up.
The fact of the matter is BLM is stirring the pot, but the ingredients are provided by a society that does not value Black Americans and other people of color.  It is automatically assumed that if a police officer pulled his or her gun, it was justified…that if an officer takes a shot, it is because he or she has no choice, if an officer tases a suspect, it was because he or she was in danger…and this, in the face of eyewitness accounts and video that testify otherwise.  It is assumed that, if a suspect has a criminal past, he or she is guilty of whatever the accusation, or that they somehow deserved whatever they got, even if the trespass for which they are gunned down turns out to be without merit.

It is this discrediting of worth, this indifference to humanity that strikes at the heart and soul of each Black person in America. How can a society support the shooting of a young boy playing in the park with a toy gun, the assassination of a man in handcuffs, or the choking of a man selling loose cigarettes on a street corner?  How can no one be accountable for such miscarriages of justice? How can the victim become the one that is demonized? 
As we look to the East to truly understand why they hate us, we must accept responsibility for our actions. True…terrorists are not born that way. It is our acts of indifference, prejudice, hatred and imperialism that provide fertile ground for the growth of unrest, dissatisfaction, and the desire to find someone…anyone who will listen to the horrors that have been witnessed; from the injustice that has been inflicted and the crimes that have been committed against marginalized people at home and abroad.

It is these acts that nurture hate and resentment, not the conversations of those who have been pushed to those extremes.

Note: This essay in no way implies that terrorism is an acceptable method of creating social change. It is simply an observation that we as a society carry some responsibility in the creation of social unrest and the growth of terrorist organizations by both our action and our inaction.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Friday, June 19, 2015

Dylann Roof - Troubled Youth or Domestic Terrorist -You Decide

By Mildred Robertson
Troubled youth.  That’s what the media has to say about the terrorist who calmly entered a place of worship…sat beside his intended victims for at least an hour, and then with malice and forethought brutally slaughtered nine innocent human beings.  He said he wanted to start a race war. But politicians, media and others hesitate to call it a hate crime.
This is only one example of the pathology that governs race relations in the United States today.

In this supposedly post-racial society, obvious inequities are overlooked much as the emperor’s nakedness in Hans Christian Andersen’s fable went not unseen, but unacknowledged. At least until someone had the strength of character to speak the truth.

So the Boston marathon murderer was immediately identified as “a terrorist”… and that was an accurate description. But Dylann Roof is no less so. He took innocent lives for no reason other than to make a sick, demented point.
While sages agree that the Boston marathon killers’ actions represented the intent of the entire Muslim religion to destroy America – Roof’s rampage, they say, represented the hateful intent of a lone murderer.

While Roof’s action occurred under the backdrop of a state that fought tooth and nail for the right to fly the Confederate flag and continues to do so today even after this heinous crime, few in South Carolina are comfortable calling this a hate crime.

While the South Carolina and American flags fly half-mast, the Confederate flags still flys high; irreverent to the lives of nine more Black people snuffed out by racism, hatred and bigotry. South Carolinians walk daily on paths named with great pride after what I would call ‘infamous” heroes of the Civil War.

The killer, demonstrating his ignorance as well as his bigotry, claimed he must carry out this heinous act to keep Blacks from taking from White Americans. Ignorant, because it was, in fact White America that wrested this land from the Native Americans who were its first inhabitants… bigoted because it was the slave master who brutally raped Black women stolen from the bosom of Africa, ripped black babies from the arms of their mothers and sold them to parts unknown and beat and murdered Black men who would object. 

 No one wants to talk about these facts.  But they are a festering wound that is reopened every time a Black youth is shot while walking in a neighborhood where he has every right to be….is manhandled for swimming in a pool…is choked to death on the street for alleged minor misconduct…is shot down in broad daylight for infractions that might not even result in a night in jail.   

And then there is the flip side…where a Black woman is jailed for defending herself from a known abuser…or the manner in which Mr. Roof was apprehended in comparison with the brute force used against Blacks who have committed far lesser crimes or no crimes at all.

Until America has the strength of character to cry out “the emperor has no clothes;” until we as a nation admit that there are inequities and disparities that relegate an entire race to second class citizenship, then race relations will continue to spiral down to the point that Mr. Roof will get what he prays for. A nation so divided that we take up arms against one another.