Thursday, December 25, 2014

THE PANOPTICON REVIEW PRESENTS TWENTY OUTSTANDING BOOKS OF 2014

Please Note: The following list of books is not organized according to any personal hierarchy of the relative value of each individual book. Rather it is a list that seriously considers ALL of the books listed here to be of equal intellectual and cultural value and interest, albeit for different reasons. The bottomline on this list is that each one of these books is extraordinary and invaluable in their own right and represents some of the very best writing published in the United States in 2014.
--Kofi Natambu, Editor

The Half Has Never Been Told:  Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism
by Edward E. Baptist
Basic Books
2014

The Counter-Revolution of 1776:  Slave Resistance And the Origins of the United States of America
by Gerald Horne
New York University Press
2014

 
The Other Blacklist:  The African American Literary and Cultural Left of the 1950s
by Mary Helen Washington
Columbia University Press
2014

Just Mercy:  A Story Of Justice and Redemption
by Bryan Stevenson
Spiegel & Grau
2014

The Divide:  American Injustice In the Age of the Wealth Gap
by Matt Taibbi
Spiegel & Grau
2014
This Changes Everything:  Capitalism vs. The Climate
by Naomi Klein
Simon and Schuster
2014

Malcolm X At Oxford Union:  Racial Politics In A Global Era
by Saladin Ambar
Oxford University Press
2014

Stokely:  A Life
by Peniel E. Joseph
Basic Civitas Books
2014

 
Black Prophetic Fire:  In Dialogue with and Edited by Christa Buschendorf
by Cornel West
Beacon Press
2014

Masters Of Mankind:  Essays and Reviews,  1969-2013
by Noam Chomsky
Haymarket Books
2014

This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed:  How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible
by Charles E. Cobb, Jr.
Basic Books
2014

 
A Fighting Chance
by Elizabeth Warren
Metropolitan Books  (Henry Holt and Company)
2014

 
SOS--Calling All Black People:  A Black Arts Movement Reader
Edited by John H. Bracey, Jr., Sonia Sanchez, and James Smethurst
University of Massachusetts Press

2014
 
Louis Armstrong:  Master of Modernism
by Thomas Brothers
W.W, Norton and Company

2014
Herbie Hancock:  Possibilities
by Herbie Hancock  (with Lisa Dickey)
Viking
2014

 
The Universal Tone:  Bringing My Story To Light
by Carlos Santana   (with Ashley Kahn and Hal Miller)
 
Little, Brown, and Company
2014
 
Becoming Richard Pryor
by Scott Saul
Harper
2014

 

Brando’s Smile:  His Life, Thought, and Work
by Susan L. Mizruchi
W.W. Norton and Company
2014

 
Gil Scott-Heron:  Pieces Of A Man
by Marcus Baram
St. Martin’s Press
2014

 
Citizen:  An American Lyric
by Claudia Rankine
Greywolf Press
2014


HONORABLE MENTIONS:


Death Of A King:  The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King's Final Year
by Tavis Smiley
Little, Brown and Company
2014 
 
Brothers Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You?:  A Memoir
by George Clinton
Atria Books
2014
 

 
The Invisible Bridge:  The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan
by Rick Pearlstein
Simon and Schuster
2014

Redemption Songs:  Suing For Freedom Before Dred Scott
by Lea Vandevelde
Oxford University Press
2014

The Night Malcolm X Spoke at Oxford Union:  A Transatlantic Story of Antiracist Protest
by Stephen Tuck
University of California Press
2014

Losing Our Way:  An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America
by Bob Herbert
Doubleday
2014

Monday, December 22, 2014

Engagement Or Evasion?: The Politics Of Confronting the Stark Reality of White Supremacy As Doctrine and Practice in the 21st Century


https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Panopticon-Review/342702882479366


All,

To Ms. Melanie Curtin:
 
This is a great piece and right on target. Thank you for writing it.  Truth is always refreshing and very much needed and appreciated these days. 

Now please call the President of the United States. I seriously think he needs to talk to you immediately and at length...whether he wants to or not...

Kofi

The Thing About White Privilege
by Melanie Curtin
Director of Communications at OpiaTalk
Dec 16, 2014

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about sexual harassment. I was struck by a comment by one of my male friends after reading it: “I’ve never really thought about this kind of thing before, but I’ve been asking my women friends, and every single one of them has stories. One even kinda has a stalker, and I had no idea. It’s like this whole other world exists that I knew nothing about.”

Technically, he and I live in the same world. We shop at the same grocery stores. We take the same subways. We walk the same streets.

Yet I live with a kind of fear and danger on a daily (and nightly) basis that simply doesn’t exist for him. He doesn’t carry his keys between his fingers to stave off potential attackers in parking garages. He hasn’t had a man take his penis out and masturbate while staring at him at a bus stop. His friends don’t ask him to text to let them know he got home safely.

That world is invisible to him. I’ve spent my entire life dealing with something he just … doesn’t.

It’s not the only invisible world.

I’m a young white woman in America. By definition, I live in a different world than black or brown people. I’m not worried about the way my name sounds or whether my picture shows up in a resume search. People don’t stop me at the airport because of what I’m wearing or cross the street to avoid me at night because they’re scared of me. I’m not afraid when a cop pulls me over (which, by the way, only happens when I’m actually doing something worthy of being pulled over for).

In my world, travel is easy, jobs are plentiful, and the police are on my side. It would be easy for me to think this is how it is for everyone.

It’s not.

Fact: I am privileged in this country just because I’m white.

The thing about white privilege is the same as that of male privilege: When you’re privileged, the other world is invisible to you. You literally can’t see it. You aren’t pulled over and harassed by cops, so you think no one is. You don’t worry about how your name sounds on a resume, so you think it doesn’t matter. But just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

The unrest sweeping the country isn’t just about Ferguson. It’s about that invisible world. It’s an accumulation of the pain and rage and outrage over the Mike Brown and Eric Garner-like incidents that occur all over this country every single day. It’s about the things those of us in the majority simply don’t experience.

Truthfully, I often feel helpless when it comes to race relations in America. I feel ashamed when I think about a grand jury reviewing the evidence of a cop who shot an unarmed person six times – six times! – and moved not to have the case go to trial (not to convict -- simply to go to trial). I feel nauseous when I watch the tape of Eric Garner getting asphyxiated by police with a chokehold that is literally illegal. He was murdered by a group of human beings who are supposed to protect people, and then another grand jury failed to indict (again, not to convict, simply to go to trial). All I can think is, “How could they possibly do that?”

Maybe because of white privilege. Maybe because when it’s not happening to you, it’s easy to think it’s “not that bad.” Maybe because it’s simpler for those (white) people on those grand juries to continue ignoring the invisible world that has suddenly become visible and thrown screaming in their faces.

I don’t know.

I do know that a first step is getting real about the difference between being black versus white in America. And just like with sexual harassment, if we think this “issue” is only an issue outside the workplace, we’re deluded:

Job applicants with white sounding names are 50% more likely to receive a callback for a job interview than applicants with black-sounding names, even when all job-related qualifications and credentials are the same.
White men with a criminal record are more likely to get a callback for an interview than black male job applicants who don't have a criminal record, even when all requisite qualifications, demeanor and communication styles are the same.
 

White women are far more likely than black women to be hired for work through temporary agencies, even when the black women have more experience and are more qualified.
That middle stat in particular blows me away. You’re more likely to get an interview if you’re a white male criminal than a black male citizen.

I think for white people, the reason white privilege is uncomfortable is that we don’t want to think of ourselves as racist, or benefitting from the effects of it. But it’s easy to be biased without even realizing it, and the stakes are too high for us to ignore the fact that we are part of the fabric of this country in which we live. The fact is, progress happens faster when those of us who are advantaged acknowledge that, then fight like hell alongside everyone else to get to the day when we’re not.

So let’s all be mindful of our biases, particularly those of us in the privileged majority. Especially for those in a hiring capacity, whether a recruiter, the leader of a startup, or a restaurant manager -- be conscious. Consider your tendencies. Stay aware. Because the new hires and promotions of today are the managers, CEOs and role models of tomorrow. We can all be part of a virtuous cycle.

Racism and police brutality are not the ‘fault’ of all white people just as male sexual harassment of women is not the ‘fault’ of all men. However, it is our collective responsibility -- and opportunity -- to change things. We’re only going to 'solve' women’s rights by working with women and men, and we’re only going to get to equality for all races by having all races participate.

In other words, it’s not a ‘black’ or ‘white’ or ‘brown’ problem. It’s our problem.

I’ll be bringing my privileged ass with me as we work to fix it.

nytimes.com/firstdraft 

All,

Oh please Mr. President. Grow up!  Stop being so damn petulant and defensive and above all GET A CLUE.  It's hopelessly INFANTILE to react to clearly warranted criticism and continued public scrutiny of you and your administration on this issue in such a brazen self serving manner. "Why bother?" in this context is the churlish egocentric response of someone who suffers from the delusion that American racial history is not what it so clearly is—and remains-- whether any of us like it or not.  Please be aware here that "any of us" also includes YOU Mr. President... 

BTW: "In the aggregate" is a slyly evasive rhetorical phrase at best.  You should be aware that when you talk like this you sound not like a statesman or national leader but a mere HACK POLITICIAN....

Kofi 

December 22, 2014   
First Draft
New York Times

As Racial Tensions Grow, the President Is Asked to Speak Up



When asked on Friday about racial issues during his end-of-year news conference, Mr. Obama replied, “Like the rest of America, black America in the aggregate is better off now than it was when I came into office.”

Mr. Obama has declined to respond directly to African-Americans who have said in recent weeks that they’d like to hear more from him on the topic.

“If critics want to suggest that America is inherently and irreducibly racist, then why bother even working on it?” he told reporters on Friday.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Relentless Persistence And Deadly Resilience of White Supremacy In the U.S. in the Arts, In Our Politics, And In Our Daily Lives

All,

Be it the arts or politics or just everyday life the venal doctrine and practice of WHITE SUPREMACY in the United Hates NEVER SLEEPS.  It's on its evil mission 24/7/365 no matter who or what it tries to hurt or destroy and its slimy PROPAGANDA never ends.  Can I get a witness?...

Kofi

http://www.theroot.com/blogs/the_grapevine/2014/12/sony_execs_were_warned_not_to_cast_denzel_washington_because_black_leads.html
 

Sony Execs Were Warned Not to Cast Denzel Washington Because Black Leads Flop Overseas


In a leaked email, an unnamed producer warns a Sony executive about casting Washington as a lead because of racism.

By Yesha Callahan
Dec. 18 2014
The Root


For the last two weeks, Sony has been dealing with the backlash that’s occurred since the emails of high-level executives were hacked and released. From emails calling Kevin Hart a whore to racist comments regarding President Barack Obama’s movie tastes, it’s safe to say that some of these executives are having the worst month ever.


But it’s not over, not by a long shot.


In recently released emails discovered by Radar Online, a Sony executive was on the receiving end of emails from a producer who warned the studio about casting Denzel Washington, stating that Washington should not be cast in films that will be played overseas because he’s black, so they’ll flop.


According to Radar, a producer, whose name was removed from the emails, sent the concerns to Sony Chairman and CEO Michael Lynton. In the emails, the producer suggested that Sony not cast black actors in films with an international market. “No, I am not saying The Equalizer should not have been made or that African-American actors should not have been used (I personally think Denzel is the best actor of his generation),” the producer stated in the email.


“I believe that the international motion-picture audience is racist—in general, pictures with an African-American lead don’t play well overseas,” the producer wrote. “But Sony sometimes seems to disregard that a picture must work well internationally to both maximize returns and reduce risk, especially pics with decent-size budgets.”


Ironically, The Equalizer went on to make $191 million at theaters worldwide, and almost half of the ticket sales were international.


Unlike the previous Sony emails, it’s unknown whether Lynton shared the same sentiments as the unnamed producer. But I’m sure it’ll be only a matter of days before this unnamed producer is actually named.
For more of black Twitter, check out The Chatterati on The Root.

Yesha Callahan is editor of The Grapevine and a staff writer at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.

Like The Root on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/denzel-washington-blacklisted-foreign-audiences-racist-article-1.2050776

Denzel Washington blacklisted? Producer says racist foreign moviegoers a reason to reconsider black actors, Sony email hack alleges

'The international motion picture audience is racist' a producer claims in a shocking Sony email leaked by North Korea-backed hackers, The mail was part of a pitch to drop two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington from future starring film roles.

by Jason Molinet
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Friday, December 19, 2014

New York Daily News


“The Equalizer” – and equality – are under fire.

An unnamed producer questioned whether two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington should be cast in films dependent on foreign box office returns because those moviegoers are racist.

That’s the latest damning Sony email leaked by North Korean-backed hackers after Washington’s role in “The Equalizer” grossed a hefty $191 million worldwide, but fell short of total ticket sales overseas, Radar Online reported.

“I believe that the international motion picture audience is racist — in general pictures with an African American lead don’t play well overseas,” the producer wrote not long after “The Equalizer” debuted Sept. 26. “But Sony sometimes seems to disregard that a picture must work well internationally to both maximize returns and reduce risk, especially pics with decent size budgets.”

The producer sent the email to Sony Chairman Michael Lynton, suggesting the motion picture company avoid black actors such as Washington to appease international markets, according to Radar Online.

'The Equalizer,' which starred Denzel Washington, saw 47 percent of its ticket sales come from overseas versus an expected 65 percent return, something an unnamed producer attributed to racism in an email leaked by hackers.  


The Equalizer,' which starred Denzel Washington, saw 47 percent of its ticket sales come from overseas versus an expected 65 percent return, something an unnamed producer attributed to racism in an email leaked by hackers.

“The Equalizer” saw 47 percent of its ticket sales come from overseas versus an expected 65 percent return, something the producer attributed to racism.

“No, I am not saying ‘The Equalizer’ should not have been made or that African American actors should not have been used (I personally think Denzel is the best actor of his generation),” the producer wrote, according to Radar Online.

But casting black leads in films is sure to limit profits, the producer noted.

“Casting him is saying we’re ok with a double if the picture works,” the unnamed producer said, using a baseball term to hit home his point. “He’s reliable at the domestic (box office), safe, but has not had a huge success in years. I believe whenever possible the non event pictures, extra ‘bets’ should have a large inherent upside and be made for the right price. Here there isn’t a large inherent upside.”

No Licensing in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
  Clemens Niehaus/Geisler-Fotopres Denzel Washington, a Mount Vernon native, has appeared in 43 films that have grossed a combined $2.2 billion.  

The 59-year-old Washington, a Mount Vernon native, has appeared in 43 films that have grossed a combined $2.2 billion.

Follow on Twitter @jmolinet


https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Panopticon-Review/342702882479366

Darren Wilson Wasn't the First: A Short History of Killer Cops Let Off the Hook

By Flint Taylor, 
In These Times | News Analysis
December 19, 2014

A sign at the "Ferguson to Madison" Movement, a silent vigil was held for Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and many more. (Photo: Kaitlyn Veto)


The Ferguson grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of African-American teenager Michael Brown is heartless but unsurprising. But it is important to place the case in context with the history of police violence investigations and prosecutions in high profile cases—and the systemic and racist police brutality that continues to plague the nation. In doing so, there are lessons for the movement for justice in the Michael Brown case, as well as for those who are engaged in the broader struggle against law enforcement violence.

What follows, then, is a brief history of similar high profile cases where public outrage compelled the justice system to confront acts of racially motivated police violence—with, to say the least, less than satisfactory results.


Over the past 45 years, Chicago has been a prime example of official indifference and cover-up when it comes to prosecuting the police for wanton brutality and torture.

On December 4, 1969, Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were slain in a police raid that implicated the Cook County State's Attorney and the FBI's Cointelpro program. A public outcry led to a Federal Civil Rights investigation. Despite finding that the raiding police fired more than 90 shots to one by the Panthers, the Grand Jury in 1970 did not indict, but rather issued a report that equally blamed the police perpetrators and the Panther victims.

Outrage at this decision led to the appointment of a Special Prosecutor who, in the face of extreme official resistance, obtained an indictment against the police and the State's Attorneys who planned and executed the raid—not for murder and attempted murder, but rather for obstruction of justice.

The case came to trial in front of a politically connected judge who dismissed the case without even requiring that the charged officials put on a defense. Again, the outrage, particularly in the African-American community was so extreme that the chief prosecutor, Edward V. Hanrahan, was voted out of office a week after the verdict was rendered in 1972.

The Jon Burge police torture scandal provides another stark example. Evidence that had been unearthed over the years demonstrated that a crew of predominately white Chicago police detectives, led by Jon Burge, tortured at least 120 African-American men from 1972 to 1991.

Cook County State's Attorney Richard M. Daley was tendered powerful evidence of this torture as early as 1982, but did not investigate or prosecute Burge and his men. Daley's office continued to use confessions tortured from the victims to send scores of them to prison—10 of whom went to death row, though they were later saved by a death penalty moratorium in 2000 and by a grant of clemency in 2003 by then-Governor George Ryan—during the next seven years.

In 1989, the local U.S. Attorneys' office declined to prosecute, as did the Department of Justice in 1996 and Cook County State's Attorney Richard Devine for the five years directly thereafter. In 2001, due to continuing public pressure, a politically connected Special Prosecutor was appointed to investigate the torture. But after a four year, $7 million investigation, he too refused to indict, instead issuing what is widely considered to be a whitewash report that absolved Daley, Devine, and numerous high Chicago police officials.

Finally, in 2008 the U.S. Attorney indicted Burge for perjury and obstruction of justice, and he was convicted in 2010, and sentenced to 4 ½ years in prison. However, the U.S. Attorney has subsequently declined to prosecute Burge's confederates for similar offenses.

New Orleans

Chicago is by no means an isolated example of how difficult it is to obtain justice for wanton police violence through the judicial system. In New Orleans, a crew of white detectives responded to the killing of a white police officer in 1980 by terrorizing the black community of Algiers, killing four innocent people and torturing numerous others by "booking and bagging" them: beating suspects with telephone books and suffocating them with bags over their heads.

Seven officers were indicted by the Department of Justice for civil rights violations arising from the torture of one of the victims and three were convicted. No officers were charged for the four killings or for the other acts of torture.

In 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, an NOPD officer fatally shot an unarmed black man named Henry Glover, then several of his fellow officers burned his body to cover-up their crime. NOPD officers also shot and killed two unarmed black men on the Danziger Bridge.

After state authorities botched their investigation, the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department indicted the officers involved in the two cases and obtained convictions of some of the main police actors. However, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturned the verdict in the Glover case, and the trial judge, citing government misconduct, took the extraordinary step of granting the convicted officers a new trial in the Danziger case.

New York

In 1997, an NYPD officer sexually assaulted a Haitian-American man named Abner Louima in a precinct station bathroom by shoving a broken broomstick up his rectum. Louima's attacker was subsequently charged with federal civil rights violations, while three of his police accomplices were charged with covering up the crimes.

After Louima's attacker pleaded guilty, his accomplices were convicted, but the Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned their convictions on the grounds that the lawyers who represented the officers had a conflict of interest. After they were convicted a second time, the Appeals Court again overturned their convictions—this time on the basis that there was insufficient evidence of intent.

In 1999, four officers from the NYPD's Street Crimes Unit fired 41 shots at Amadou Diallo, a Guinean immigrant who was reaching for his wallet, hitting him 19 times. The officers were indicted for second degree murder and the case was moved to upstate New York, where a jury acquitted the officers.

In July of this year, NYPD officers arrested an African-American man named Eric Garner, allegedly for selling untaxed cigarettes. They put a prohibited chokehold on him, forced him to the ground face first with his hands behind his back, and shoved his face into the pavement, where he died a few minutes later of a heart attack. The deadly assault, which was captured on videotape, is now under investigation by a Special Grand Jury empaneled by the District Attorney's Office.

Los Angeles

Among the most notorious cases was the brutal 1991 beating of Rodney King by five LAPD officers. A videotape captured most of the brutality and also showed several other officers standing by and doing nothing to stop the pummeling of a defenseless black man.

Four officers were charged at the state level with assault with a deadly weapon and use of excessive force. The trial was moved to a predominantly white suburban county, and three of the officers were acquitted of all charges, while the fourth was acquitted of assault with a deadly weapon and other lesser charges. But the jury failed to reach a verdict on his use of excessive force.

After an angry uprising in the Africa- American community of Los Angeles that left 53 dead and around 2,000 injured, the U.S. Justice Department indicted the four officers, and a federal jury convicted two of them, while acquitting the other two.

This past August, LAPD officers fatally shot an unarmed mentally ill African-American man named Ezell Ford, who witnesses said was shot in the back while lying on the ground. Despite massive protests, there has been no grand jury investigation to date, the autopsy report is yet to be released, and the LAPD has not completed its investigation.

Oakland

In Oakland, California in the late 1990s, a unit of police officers dubbed the "Rough Riders" systematically beat, framed and planted narcotics on African Americans whom they claimed were dealing drugs. Four of the "Riders" were indicted by the District Attorney's Office, and the trial was moved to a suburban county. The ringleader fled the country, and was tried in absentia.

After a year-long trial before a bitterly divided jury on which there were no blacks, the officers were acquitted of eight charges, and the jury was hung on the remaining 27 counts. At the urging of then-Mayor Jerry Brown, the officers were not re-tried.

Also in Oakland, in the early morning hours of New Years Day, 2009, a BART officer shot and killed a young black man named Oscar Grant, who was lying face down, unarmed, in a busy transit station. The shooting was videotaped, and led to militant protests in Oakland.

Another jury with no black members rejected the charge of murder and instead found the officer guilty of involuntary manslaughter. As a result, Oscar Grant's killer spent less than a year behind bars. The Department of Justice subsequently opened a civil rights investigation, but no charges were brought.

Milwaukee

From 2007-2012 in Milwaukee, a unit of white police officers, spurred on by the Department's CompStat program of aggressive policing, stopped and illegally body cavity searched more than 70 African-American men whom they claimed to be investigating for drug dealing. In conducting these searches, most commonly performed on the street, the searching officer reached inside the men's underwear, and probed their anuses and genitals.

After this highly illegal practice came to light, the unit's ringleader, Michael Vagnini, was indicted by the Milwaukee County District Attorney on numerous counts of sexual assault, illegal searches, and official misconduct, while three of the other unit officers were also charged for participating in two of the searches. The unit's sergeant and several other members of the unit, all of whom were present for many of the searches, were not charged.

The charged officers were permitted to plead guilty to the lesser included offenses of official misconduct and illegal strip searches, with Vagnini receiving a 36-month sentence while the other three received sentences that totaled, collectively, less than a month in jail. By pleading guilty, they also received promises that they would not be charged with federal civil rights violations.

Pattern and Practice Investigations

These high profile cases represent only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cases where racist police violence has not been subjected to equal justice under the law.

Recently, the Justice Department declined to prosecute Little Rock, Arkansas, officers who shot and killed Eugene Ellison, an elderly African American man who was walking out of his home with a cane in his hand, while there have been documented reports of unarmed black men recently being shot down by the police in Chicago; Houston; San Antonio; Beaver Creek, Ohio; and Sarasota, Florida.

In 1994, the United States Congress, recognizing that police misconduct and violence was systemic in many parts of the country, passed 42 U.S. Code Section 14141, which empowered the Justice Department to file suit against police departments alleging patterns and practices of unconstitutional conduct, and to obtain wide ranging court orders, consent decrees, and independent monitors in order to implement reforms to those practices.

Although understaffed, the Pattern and Practice Unit of the Justice Department has attacked systemic and discriminatory deficiencies in police hiring, supervision, and monitoring in numerous police departments over the past 20 years. A particularly egregious act or series of acts of police violence often prompts the Unit to initiate an investigation, and its lawyers have obtained consent decrees or court orders in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Steubenville, Ohio, New Orleans, Puerto Rico, Oakland, and Miami.

Last month, lawyers handling the Little Rock cases requested that the DOJ do a pattern and investigation of the LRPD, and the Unit is reportedly now investigating the practices of the Ferguson Police Department. While these investigations are not a panacea, they offer a mechanism for exposing and reforming blatantly unconstitutional police practices, and have also demonstrated how pervasive the problem systemic police violence continues to be.

In light of this history, the pre-ordained failure of a biased local prosecutor to obtain an indictment against Darren Wilson should not surprise us. But the movement for justice for Michael Brown has brought widespread attention to the nationwide problem of systemic and racist police violence and highlighted the movement that has come together to battle against it.

Just two weeks ago, the Brown case, along with the Burge torture cases, was presented to the United Nations Committee Against Torture in Geneva. The movement should now turn its attention to the Department of Justice, demanding a federal civil rights indictment against Wilson a full scale pattern and practice investigation of the Ferguson Police Department, and, more broadly, an end to systemic and racist police violence.

As the history of the battle against racist police violence so pointedly teaches, the public outcry and agitation must continue not only in Ferguson but across the nation. Because as Frederick Douglas rightly stated many years ago, power concedes nothing without a demand.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source. 
 
Flint Taylor is one of the lawyers for the families of slain Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark and together with his law partner Jeffrey Haas was trial counsel in the marathon 1976 civil trial. For more information on the Hampton/Clark case, the history of Black Panther Party, and the FBI's Program to destroy it, visit peopleslawoffice.com.


White House Refuses to Meet With Grieving Black Mothers Whose Sons Were Executed by Cops

By Dr Marsha Coleman-Adebayo and Kevin Berends
Black Agenda Report | Op-Ed
December 10, 2014 
 
DC Vigil For Delegation Of Grieving Mothers. (Photo: Stephen Melkisethian)

"The women will come to Washington to advocate for changing existing laws that provide legal loopholes that allow police to kill their children with impunity."

With Washington reeling from the spontaneous uprisings against police terror that continue nationwide, the Obama administration announced the formation of a commission to investigate police terror against African-American communities and especially its men and boys. Not since the 1960's civil rights movement has the country experienced a popular uprising that cuts across this broad a spectrum of American society's racial and generational barriers. Only two years shy of leaving Washington, the Obama Administration has finally moved to address the most fundamental social and political crises beleaguering the African-American community: police brutality and mass incarceration.

Yet the president's choice of former DC police chief, Charles Ramsey - "known for leading repeated bloody and abusive crackdowns on protesters when he was Washington, D.C.'s chief a decade ago, according to a civil rights attorney who won millions in damages for 100s of citizens attacked by D.C. police" - as his choice of to head the commission is shocking. Ramsey is the unintended - but perfect - symbol for just how tone deaf and removed from reality the administration is.

Lead by cheerleader-in-chief, Rev. Al Sharpton, the administration was forced to quickly convene a roundtable of hand chosen "representatives" after a Staten Island grand jury did not bring an indictment against the white police officer who strangled unarmed black Eric Garner to death. The Staten Island decision came exactly one week after a similar grand jury procedure and finding in Ferguson, Missouri, of no indictment against white police officer Darren Wilsson for killing unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, in August. That decision sparked protests in over 170 cities nationwide.

With the White House in chaos, Attorney General Eric Holder was dispatched Monday, December 1, to Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta—the symbolic "desk" of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—to quell growing dissent and to prepare the masses for the inevitable decision by the DOJ not to seek civil rights indictments of Ferguson police officer/slave patroller Darren Wilson, the murderer of Michael Brown or New York police officer/slave patroller David Pantaleo for the death of Eric Garner.

"The Coalition is committed to sustained actions around the DOJ and its leaders until indictments are rendered."

The lofty symbolism of Ebenezer Baptist Church—at such a moment of racial crisis—was lost on the Administration. But neither Mr. Holder nor the White House could have predicted that the ordinarily sedate audience at Ebenezer would erupt chanting, "Hands-Up Don't Shoot!" and "We Have Nothing to Lose but Our Chains!" The protestors forced Mr. Holder to halt his bland litany of Obama's accomplishments. After making their dramatic point the activists peacefully left the church to the applause of many who had come to hear the Attorney General.

Activists in the Washington, D.C. area under the umbrella of #DC Ferguson.com and led by Kymone Freeman, Program Director, We Act Radio; Eugene Puryear, a recent candidate for the Washington, DC Council At-Large seat active anti-war and social justice organizer; Salim Adofo, National Vice Chairperson, National Black United Front and Kenny Nero, Howard University librarian, activist and organizer have mobilized thousands of young people to march, rally and occupy commercial areas of the capitol.

The www.HandsUpCoalitionDC.com has organized weekly demonstrations in front of the Department of Justice demanding immediate indictments of police officers/slave patrollers involved in the deaths of unarmed African-American boys and men. This week's action will feature nine African-American women who have lost family, loved ones and sons to excessive police violence. These grieving women will grace our capitol from December 9-11, (December 10 coinciding with International Human Rights Day) with their personal stories of courage and resilience in the face of police executions of their boys and men while the US government looked away. The Coalition is committed to sustained actions around the DOJ and its leaders until indictments are rendered.

Ella Baker, founder of the Student Non-violent Student Coordinating Committee (SNCC) said of the attacks against black boys and men: "Until the killing of black men, black mother's sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of white mother's sons, we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens."

"Neither Mr. Holder nor the White House could have predicted that the ordinarily sedate audience at Ebenezer would erupt chanting, 'Hands-Up Don't Shoot!' and 'We Have Nothing to Lose but Our Chains!'"

The mothers, representing a cross-section of black communities from California to Baltimore, will participate in a community town hall, a vigil in front of the Department of Justice and congressional visits. At the ninth hour, the Department of Justice has agreed to an office visit between the mothers and the Office of Civil Rights. The Grieving Mothers Action is being hosted by CODEPINK, the Hands Up Coalition DC and Mothers Against Police Brutality. The women will come to Washington to advocate for changing existing laws that provide legal loopholes that allow police to kill their children with impunity. The mothers advocate effective civilian reviews of police misconduct; transparency in investigations of police officers; a comprehensive public national-level database of police shootings; and significant reforms to the 1033 program and other federal programs that equip police departments with military gear.

Despite thousands of calls and e-mails, neither President Barack Obama nor Attorney General Eric Holder have agreed to meet with the mothers of these slain boys and men. While the President's and Attorney General's deaf ears are consistent with the choice of Charles Ramsey to lead the Commission and their misreading of the public at Ebenezer Baptist Church, it is hard to understand how the two chief law enforcement officers in the country can ignore grieving mothers of victims of the very system that has brought so much turmoil into the American street.

The Hands Up Coalition DC urges the president and attorney general to come out of their protective bubble and open their hearts and minds to the pain and message these grieving women represent. The president should withdraw the appointment of Charles Ramsey—out of respect for the damage Chief Ramsey's style of policing has inflicted on thousands of Americans nationwide. The president should also instruct the Attorney General to drop the charges against Rasheen Aldridge, the Ferguson teenaged-activist who expressed disappointment with the process after meeting with the President in the White House.

The December Black Mothers meeting will pave the way for a larger gathering in Washington DC on Mothers Day 2015.

"Neither President Barack Obama nor Attorney General Eric Holder have agreed to meet with the mothers of these slain boys and men."

The mothers will tell their stories and advocate for changing existing laws that leave families vulnerable to police brutality and accountability loopholes.

"I'm coming to DC for several reasons," said Reverend Wanda Johnson, the mother of Oscar Grant, who was killed in Oakland, California on January 1, 2009. "First, I want to get the laws changed about racial profiling. Second, I want to change the law that allows the District Attorney to try the indicted officer, which I believe is a conflict of interest. Third, I want officers to have to wear body cameras. Lastly, I want officers to be trained not to shoot to kill."

"Our politicians have been epic failures in protecting our families. We have laws that protect policeman, but no laws that protect our families when someone is killed," said Colette Flanagan, the founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality who is traveling to DC from Dallas, Texas. "Our elected officials often turn a blind eye to the killing of our children, so now we are taking our grief to their doorstep in Washington DC. They need to understand that our families are real, and that our sons—who were taken away from us so unjustly–– matter."

Delegate Biographies:
Valerie Bell is the mother of Sean Bell, a 23-year-old unarmed man killed on his wedding day, November 25, 2006, in a barrage of 50 shots fired into his car by New York plainclothes police officers. The officers thought his friend had a gun. The detectives involved in the shooting were eventually acquitted. Valerie Bell is the founder of Mothers of Never Again (MONA), and after 8 years she has finally recorded her thoughts in a book coming out in 2015 called Just 23 (Thoughts from a mother in spoken word by Kisha Walker).

Jeralynn Blueford from Oakland, California started the Justice4AlanBlueford Coalition on May 6,2012 after her 18 year-old son Alan Blueford was shot and killed by a police officer in East Oakland. From there The Alan Blueford Center 4 Justice was established in Oakland, California, as a place to help heal the community. They offer our resources to help restore the community as they struggle against police brutality. She also organized Helping Heart 2 Heal, a conference to inspire, empower, and restore healing for mothers that are suffering with the pain of losing their children and loved ones.

Darlene Cain is a mother from from Baltimore, Maryland. On October 28, 2008, her 29-year-old son Dale Graham was killed by a Baltimore City police officer. Since then she has been dedicated to lifting the voices of those who have had a family member killed by the police but were never given true justice and closure. She is is President and founder of Mothers on the Move.

Danette Chavis, from New York City, lost her 19-year-old son in October 2004. After being shot in a gunfire exchange (not with police), Gregory Chavis died just a block from Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx when police prevented him from receiving any medical treatment. Chavis has been active at demonstrations and is the head of National Action Against Police Brutality. She has launched a petition, now with over 18,430 signatures, that demands national action against police brutality and murder, for all families that have been brutalized and lost loved ones at the hands of the police.

Collette Flanagan, from Dallas, Texas, lost her only son when he was 25 years old on March 10, 2013. Clinton Allen was unarmed and shot 7 times by a Dallas policeman (once in the back), who has since been on administrative leave from the police force, without a gun or badge. Flanagan is founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality, which lobbies for change in police enforcement practices and accountability measures.

Marcella Holloman's son Maurice Donald Johnson was murdered by Baltimore police on May 19, 2012. She called an ambulance when her mentally ill son began to exhibit erratic behavior at a children's gathering. Since Johnson's episodic illness was registered in the police data base, Holloman expected they would take him to the hospital for treatment. Instead of waiting for an ambulance, the two responding officers entered Holloman's home where Johnson was sequestered and shot him three times. Since then, his mother has been active and outspoken against police brutality.

Wanda Johnson's son Oscar Grant was shot in the back and killed by transit Police Officer Johannes Mehserle at a train station in Oakland, California on January 1, 2009. Initially charged with second-degree murder, Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Since the death of her son, Johnson has been active on the Board of Directors of the Oscar Grant Foundation, a resource for at-risk youth of all races who wish to turn their lives around in a positive way. A gospel minister and nation speaker, Johnson has made guest appearances on nationally syndicated television programs, universities and public forums to bring attention to injustices in law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

Constance Malcolm is the mother of Ramarley Graham, who was 18 years old in 2012 when a New York police officer shot and killed him in his own home. Graham was suspected of carrying a gun in public, but no gun was found on him, in the bathroom he was shot in, or anywhere else in the house. Graham's 6-year-old brother and his grandmother witnessed the shooting. Constance Malcolm has since been a vocal advocate against police brutality and has been seeking justice for her son.

Tressa Sherrod is the mother of John Crawford III, a 22 year old who was shot and killed on August 5, 2014 by police in a Walmart in Ohio. A caller phoned police, accusing Crawford of brandishing a gun, when it was really an unloaded BB air rifle on a shelf, an item that is sold in the store. Surveillance footage shows major discrepancies between a 911 caller's account and what really happened. An Ohio grand jury decided not to indict the officer who was responsible for Crawford's death, and since then his mother has been pursuing justice.

The delegation is endorsed by the No Fear Coalition, Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Popular Resistance, World Beyond War, CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, DC Campaign Against Police Abuse, UltraViolet and Defending Dissent.

Code Black Alert: Cleveland, Ohio
More than a hundred people packed a church in Cleveland, Ohio, for the memorial service of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old African-American boy shot dead by police last month. Rice, who was in sixth grade, was killed after a 911 caller reported seeing the boy with what turned out to be a pellet gun, which the caller repeatedly said seemed fake. Video shows Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann fatally shooting Rice immediately after leaving his cruiser, from a distance of about 10 feet.

Code Black Alert: Brooklyn, New York

In mourning for 28 year-old Akai Gurley, shot by police in New York stairwell. Two police officers prepared to enter the pitch-black eighth-floor stairwell of a building in a Brooklyn housing project, one of them with his sidearm drawn. At the same time, Gurley and his girlfriend, frustrated by a long wait for an elevator, entered the seventh-floor stairwell, 14 steps below. In the darkness, a shot rang out from the officer's gun, and the young man below was struck in the chest and, soon after, fell dead.

Code Black Alert: Phoenix, Arizona

Rumain Brisbon, an unarmed black man, was shot and killed by a white police officer in Phoenix, Arizona, Tuesday night. In a string of cases involving unarmed black men dying at the hands of officers over the last several months, another incident hits news.

According to a report published by USA Today, an officer in Phoenix says he felt threatened by 34-year-old Rumain Brisbon, so he used lethal force. The encounter led to Brisbon being shot twice and dying from his gunshot wounds at a north Phoenix apartment complex.

Black Code Alert: Whistleblower

Senior officials at the Social Security Administration (SSA) tried to hide a damning report on a $300 million computer system that lawmakers have called a "boondoggle" in order to protect President Obama's nominee to lead the agency, a whistleblower claimed in an interview with FoxNews.com.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Panopticon-Review/342702882479366


Producer Suggests Sony Not Make More Denzel Washington Films Because The World Is Racist, According to Hacked Email

by Christina Montford
December 18, 2014
Atlanta Black Star


Denzel Washington in “The Equalizer”

More hacked emails from Sony Pictures executives reveal an executive suggesting the company not use Black actors like Denzel Washington because the movies won’t appeal to foreign markets—while backhandedly complimenting him as “the best actor of his generation.”

These emails obtained by Radar Online are only the most recent in a string of correspondences posted by hacker group, Guardians of Peace, in protest of Sony’s newest movie The Interview. The emails were reportedly sent out just after the release of Washington’s most recent film The Equalizer. Written to Sony chairman Michael Lynton, the unidentified producer suggests that Sony should avoid casting Black actors in order to attract the international market, which the producer deemed to be racist.

He or she prefaced the email by saying that they hoped it wouldn’t be seen as “inappropriate or provocative.”

“No, I am not saying The Equalizer should not have been made or that African American actors should not have been used (I personally think Denzel is the best actor of his generation),” the producer wrote.

“Casting him is saying we’re ok with a double if the picture works,” the producer goes on, using baseball jargon. “He’s reliable at the domestic [box office], safe, but has not had a huge success in years. I believe whenever possible the non event pictures, extra ‘bets’ should have a large inherent upside and be made for the right price. Here there isn’t a large inherent upside.”

Though the film grossed $191 million at theaters worldwide, with half of the ticket sales coming from abroad, the producer still claims that Washington’s race is impeding the movie’s success.

“I believe that the international motion picture audience is racist — in general pictures with an African American lead don’t play well overseas,” the producer whose name was removed from the emails wrote. “But Sony sometimes seems to disregard that a picture must work well internationally to both maximize returns and reduce risk, especially pics with decent size budgets.”

The hackers also revealed offensive emails regarding the President and celebrities who adopt Black babies.

Sony pulled the Christmas release of the comedy about an attempted assassination of the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, after the hackers released a note that read:

“Warning. We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to. Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made. The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.) Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment. All the world will denounce the SONY.”

“Sony Pictures has no further release plans for the film,” said a spokesperson for the studio on Wednesday.

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