News Release Archive - African American

Will Biden Continue Bombings?

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As thousands of troops were deployed to Washington, D.C. during Joe Biden’s inauguration, Rev. Silvester Beaman gave the benediction, saying: “We will make friends of our enemies. We will make friends of our enemies. People, your people, should no longer raise up weapons against each other. We will rather use our resources for the national good and become a beacon of life and goodwill to the world. And neither shall we learn hatred anymore. We will lie down in peace and not make our neighbors afraid.”

As of a few days ago, the U.S. government has now been bombing Iraq for 30 years.

Chris Wood of airwars.org just tweeted: “Amid discussions about what Biden’s foreign policy might look like, it’s worth noting that he’ll be inheriting U.S. military actions at a post-9/11 low. The U.S. declared around 1,000 strikes last year across four theatres — down from 13,000 under Obama in 2016. … Given this low level of U.S. military engagement there’s clearly an opportunity for the incoming Biden administration radically to rethink overseas actions.”

See Sen. Rand Paul’s questioning of Biden Secretary of State nominee Anthony Blinken about the U.S. government’s wars in Libya, Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Mali and numerous other countries.

KATHY KELLY, kathy.vcnv@gmail.com, @voiceinwild
Kelly is a peace activist and author working to end U.S. military and economic wars. She just wrote the piece “About Suffering: A Massacre of the Innocents in Yemen” which states: ” Yemeni children are not ‘starving children;’ they are being starved by warring parties whose blockades and bomb attacks have decimated the country. The United States is supplying devastating weaponry and diplomatic support to the Saudi-led coalition, while additionally launching its own ‘selective’ aerial attacks against suspected terrorists and all the civilians in those suspects’ vicinity.” AFP reports that Blinken stated yesterday, regarding support for Saudi Arabia’s attacks: “our support should end.”

DAVID SWANSON, davidcnswanson@gmail.com@davidcnswanson
Swanson is executive director of World Beyond War and campaign coordinator of RootsAction.org. He was just on an accuracy.org news release on Blinken.

Desmond Tutu: Biden Should Stop Israeli Nuclear Cover-up

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The Guardian just published a piece by Archbishop Desmond Tutu titled “Joe Biden Should End the U.S. Pretence over Israel’s ‘Secret’ Nuclear Weapons: The cover-up has to stop — and with it, the huge sums in aid for a country with oppressive policies towards Palestinians.”

Tutu, a Nobel peace laureate, is a former archbishop of Cape Town and, from 1996 to 2003, was chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The piece states: “Every recent U.S. administration has performed a perverse ritual as it has come into office. All have agreed to undermine U.S. law by signing secret letters stipulating they will not acknowledge something everyone knows: that Israel has a nuclear weapons arsenal.

Part of the reason for this is to stop people focusing on Israel’s capacity to turn dozens of cities to dust. This failure to face up to the threat posed by Israel’s horrific arsenal gives its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, a sense of power and impunity, allowing Israel to dictate terms to others.

“But one other effect of the U.S. administration’s ostrich approach is that it avoids invoking the U.S.’s own laws, which call for an end to taxpayer largesse for nuclear weapons proliferators. …

“Israel in fact is a multiple nuclear weapons proliferator. There is overwhelming evidence that it offered to sell the apartheid regime in South Africa nuclear weapons in the 1970s and even conducted a joint nuclear test. The U.S. government tried to cover up these facts. Additionally, [Israel] has never signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. …

“Amendments by former Senators Stuart Symington and John Glenn to the Foreign Assistance Act ban U.S. economic and military assistance to nuclear proliferators and countries that acquire nuclear weapons. While president, Jimmy Carter invoked such provisions against India and Pakistan.

“But no president has done so with regard to Israel. Quite the contrary. There has been an oral agreement since President Richard Nixon to accept Israel’s ‘nuclear ambiguity’ — effectively to allow Israel the power that comes with nuclear weapons without the responsibility. And since President Bill Clinton, according to the New Yorker magazine, there have been these secret letters. …

“The incoming Biden administration should forthrightly acknowledge Israel as a leading state sponsor of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and properly implement U.S. law. …

“Israel’s per capita gross domestic product is comparable with that of Britain. Nevertheless, U.S. taxpayer funds to Israel exceed that to any other country. Adjusted for inflation, the publicly known amount over the years is now approaching $300bn. …

“South Africa learned that it could only have real peace and justice by having truth that would lead to reconciliation. But none of those will come unless truth is faced squarely — and there are few truths more critical to face than a nuclear weapons arsenal in the hands of an apartheid government.”

Available for interviews:

GRANT F. SMITH, gsmith@irmep.org, @IRmep
Smith is director of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy. He was featured on an accuracy.org news release last month, “How Biden Could Advance Peace and Save Hundreds of Billions in Funds: Will Biden Finally Acknowledge Israel’s Nukes?

Tucson Police Chief: Reformer or Serial Cover-up Artist? What Might Real Reform Be?

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DENNIS J. BERNSTEIN, dennisjbernstein@gmail.com,
Bernstein is the award-winning journalist and executive producer of “Flashpoints,” broadcast from KPFA and syndicated on Pacifica Radio.

    He just wrote a three-part series for Who.What.Why. titled “Fatal Errors“: “Police Brutality in Tucson,” “Shot by Police in Richmond, CA” and “Police Reformer — or Cover-Up Artist?” 

    Bernstein said today: “Chief Chris Magnus of the Tucson PD really wants you to think of him as a reformer. But while he was tweeting about how he would never allow this kind of in-custody police killing that he had witnessed in the 8:46 second killing of George Floyd, the chief’s men had done the Kenosha cops one better. Their in-custody suffocation of a brown man went on for over 12 minutes and the chief covered it up for over two months, even as he commented as a reformer about George Floyd.

“Carlos Adrian Ingram-Lopez desperately pleads as he drops to all fours, naked, disoriented, and terrified in a darkened corner of his grandmother’s Tucson garage. He wails and screams as three officers swoop down on him, forcing his face into the floor as they double handcuff his arms behind his back. He offers no resistance, apologizing, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I love everybody.’ He cries out for his grandmother to help, ‘Nana, ayúdame! … Please give me some water. … I can’t breathe!” See video.

“‘Tranquilo! Chill the f– out, man,’ shouts Officer Ryan Starbuck, bearing down on the man’s back.”

Bernstein’s three-part expose, “Fatal Errors” examines Chief Magnus’ record in the two cities where he held sway and scrutinizes his actions in two deadly cases where young Latino men died in custody when there was no justification for their deaths.

U.S. Bombings in Africa: Why Are People Unaware?

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On Sept. 15, the New York Times reported: “U.S. Military Seeks Authority to Expand Counterterrorism Drone War to Kenya.”

The Times reported: “The U.S. military’s Africa Command is pressing for new authorities to carry out armed drone strikes targeting Qaeda-linked Shabab fighters in portions of eastern Kenya, potentially expanding the war zone across the border from their sanctuaries in Somalia, according to four American officials. …

“Col. Christopher P. Karns, the command’s chief spokesman, declined to comment on the new authorities. ‘AFRICOM certainly recognizes the need to apply consistent international pressure on Al-Shabab and to monitor their activity, presence, and actively confront them in order to prevent their spread,’ he said in an email. ‘This can take several forms.'”

TUNDE OSAZUA,  jebho108@gmail.com@osazuae
Osazua is coordinator of the U.S. Out of Africa Network, a project of the Black Alliance for Peace, which is having an International Day of Action on AFRICOM on Thursday.

The group notes: “October 1, 2020 is the 12th anniversary of the launch” of AFRICOM, “a command structure with bases that are now in dozens of African nations. Yet, the existence of AFRICOM has escaped the awareness of not only the general public in the United States and the world. When four U.S. soldiers were killed in the small African nation of Niger, even members of the U.S. Congress were unaware of the U.S. military’s presence in the country and the extent of the U.S. military presence throughout Africa.”

Osazua said today: “U.S. military efforts and drone bombing through AFRICOM are typically portrayed as an attempt to fight terrorism, but, instead, they have been shown to increase terrorism as civilians in the countries that the U.S. bombs are driven to oppose the forces that kill their friends and family members and join terrorist groups. AFRICOM’s operations have also caused untold numbers of civilian deaths, and the U.S. fails to properly account or atone for these civilian casualties, despite the slightly increased media scrutiny.

“The International Day of Action on AFRICOM on Oct. 1 provides an opportunity for all of us to call on the U.S. to respect the wishes of African people and demilitarize the African continent, so Africa can begin to be a zone of peace. That way African countries can begin to provide for the needs of their people without the burden of AFRICOM and U.S. involvement.”

Debate Confusion, Trump’s Racism and Biden’s Praise of Police

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Newsweek reports in “Did Donald Trump Condemn the Proud Boys and White Supremacists?” that at last night’s debate moderated by Chris Wallace, President Trump, when asked to condemn white supremacist violence, said “Sure I’m willing to do that,” but then told the group the Proud Boys to “stand by.”

NETFA FREEMAN, netfa@ips-dc.org@Netfafree
Freeman is co-writing a forthcoming book, Community Control Over Police, and recently wrote the piece “Community Control Vs. Defunding the Police: A Critical Analysis.” He is also an organizer with Pan-African Community Action and an analyst at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Freeman said today: “Corporate media’s moderation and coverage of the debates is just as complicit in mass confusion. Biden’s rejection of community control over police is comparable to Trump’s refusal to denounce the white supremacist Proud Boys.

“Everyone knows Trump is racist. But for the questions not to be softballs they should have asked Biden about the connections between racism and policing. Only a month ago we saw in Kenosha and other places amiable interactions between police and right-wing militias mobilized against anti-racism and anti-police brutality activists. Yet Biden manages to get in praise of police and a denunciation of so-called violent activists with no interrogation from Wallace.”

Protesting Trump’s Israeli-Gulf “Fake Peace” Deals

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President Donald Trump is holding a ceremony Tuesday at the White House for the recent deals between Israel and the small Gulf states of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. See “Trump ‘peace’ deals for Israel, UAE and Bahrain are shams. They boost oppression, not amity” by Noura Erakat at NBCNews.com.

A coalition of over 50 groups are simultaneously holding a protest (from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET) and a news conference (at 1:30 p.m.) outside the White House at BLM Plaza.

HUWAIDA ARRAF, huwaida.arraf@gmail.com, @huwaidaarraf
RANIA QAWASMA, raniaqawasma@gmail.com, @raniaqawasma
Arraf is a Palestinian-American human rights attorney and Qawasma is a Palestinian-American architect. They are among the activists organizing the protests.

Arraf said today: “The U.S.-brokered agreements of the UAE and Bahrain to normalize relations with Israel are predicated on sidelining the most impacted population — the indigenous Palestinian people upon whose land and lives Israel has built its settler-colonial state. These cynical attempts to paint arms deals and cyber-spying contracts as efforts to promote peace, while Palestinians continue to suffer the indignities of violent occupation, racism and apartheid, should be widely condemned.

“Israel’s systemic and systematic violations of Palestinians’ most basic rights must be sanctioned, not rewarded, as the governments of the UAE and Bahrain have done and as the US continues to do by providing Israel with $3.8 billion per year of American taxpayer money.”

The coalition of groups, which include American Muslims for Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, the International Solidarity Movement and the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation, referred to the deals as “fake peace plans.” They also noted regarding the UAE agreement that “within a week of the deal’s announcement, a secret clause within the deal to sell tens of billions of dollars in weapons to the UAE was revealed. On September 11, 2020, it was announced that Bahrain — another repressive Gulf country involved in the brutal war in Yemen — will also sign a deal to normalize relations with Israel, also without any concessions for Palestinians. It is understood that Bahrain would not be able to make such an agreement without the tacit approval of Saudi Arabia, the leader of the war in Yemen.”

Background: See The Real News interview from 2018 with scholar As’ad AbuKhalil: “Saudi Arabia’s Unholy Alliance with Israel.”

How Racists Have Manipulated the Post Office

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Commondreams reported recently: “Postmaster General Urged to ‘Immediately Step Aside’ as North Carolina AG Backs Probe Into Campaign Finance Fraud Allegations.”

CLARENCE LUSANE, clusane@igc.org
Lusane is author of $20 and Change: Harriet Tubman, Andrew Jackson, and the Struggle for a Radical Democracy (forthcoming from City Lights Books) and The Black History of the White House.

He said today regarding Trump’s repeated attacks and statements about the Postal Service and mail-in balloting: “Regrettably, the Post Office has been used politically before by past administrations to disrupt efforts at racial justice or black progress. In the 1830s, President Andrew Jackson, Trump’s favorite predecessor, sided with local officials in South Carolina who stopped the mail distribution of abolitionist materials. … Jackson, who had been a slave trader and a slaveowner … proposed federal legislation that would ‘prohibit, under severe penalties, the circulation in the Southern States, through the mail, of incendiary publications intended to instigate the slaves to insurrection.’ …

“In the early 20th century, the postal service went after Nashville black activist Callie House. In 1894, she founded and led the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty, and Pension Association that sought to win pensions for African Americans who had survived slavery. The movement grew to over 800,000 according to researcher Mary Francis Berry. Like other organizations of the period, she used the mail to solicit and receive donations for her movement. Unhappy with the effort by this black group, Postmaster General A. S. Burleson charged her and other Association leaders with using the mail to commit fraud in 1915. The U.S. government argued that since black survivors of slavery would never receive a pension, her campaign was criminally misleading. After her arrest and nearly year-long imprisonment in 1917-1918, the organization faded.

“Perhaps, most famously, the same law used to go after House was used against Pan-Africanist leader Marcus Garvey. Long under scrutiny by U.S. law enforcement for his strong advocacy of black repatriation to Africa, the newly formed Bureau of Investigation searched for a means to destroy him politically. Garvey’s Black Star Steamship Line, funded in part by mail solicitations, was in financial trouble, and this became an opening for his enemies. Using informants and perjured witnesses, Garvey was charged with mail fraud and convicted. He was sent to prison in 1925, although he was released and deported two years later.”

Destroying Black Cemeteries: Development or Desecration?

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MARSHA COLEMAN-ADEBAYO, nofearcoalition at aol.com, @BethAfrCemetery
Coleman-Adebayo is the president of the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition, which is organizing the largest of a series of protests on Friday at noon to “honor the dead at Moses Cemetery” in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside of D.C. (Moses Cemetery 5204 River Road Bethesda, Maryland.)

Last year, the Washington Post published her piece:”I was Arrested for Defending a Cemetery in Montgomery County.” On Wednesday, she was interviewed for a major segment on “The Kojo Nnamdi” Show on WAMU, the main NPR station in D.C. Also see recent piece in National Geographic: “The Fight to Save America’s Historic Black Cemeteries,” which quotes her.

Coleman-Adebayo said today that the “Black burial site at Moses Cemetery, a historic 18th century site, is being destroyed” to put up self-storage units. “Hundreds of trucks have removed massive amounts of dirt and potential remains, funerary items, and graves. Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition has been protesting desecration of this site since 2017.

“Recent developments have influenced the protest. … Observers have photographed a gravestone being dug up and ignored by the archeologist hired” by the builders.

The group states that letters and protests directed at various political figures such as County Executive Marc Elrich and State’s Attorney John McCarthy have produced no meaningful results.

Coleman-Adebayo is also a former senior policy analyst with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Labor Day: Tipping Point for Restaurant Workers?

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Labor Day is Monday. Many restaurant workers are increasing their organizing and their demands for ending the tipped minimum wage. Last year, the House passed a bill doing just that, but the Senate refused to consider it.

ABBY GINZBERG, abbyginzberg@gmail.com, @wagingchange
Ginzberg is a Peabody award-winning director, producing documentaries about race and social justice for over 30 years. She has just released the film “Waging Change.”

She said today: “In honor of Labor Day, we are doing a national free virtual screening of ‘Waging Change,’ which reveals a disaster hiding in plain sight — that restaurant workers in 17 states make only $2.13 an hour and have to get to minimum wage by relying on their tips. Only seven states require that workers be paid the full minimum wage plus tips. With the pandemic, the situation for tipped workers has gone from bad to horrendous as many do not qualify for unemployment due to their low wages.” The trailer is here.

SARU JAYARAMAN, saru@onefairwage.org,   NIKKI COLE, nikki@onefairwage.org, @onefairwage
Jayaraman is the president of One Fair Wage, Cole is the group’s national policy director. Jayaraman said today: “Coronavirus shutdowns throughout the pandemic have exacerbated the problem of the tipped minimum wage. Many service workers are being denied unemployment insurance because their wages were literally too low to qualify. And now they’re being forced back to work without safety protocols and paid sick days for a sub-minimum wage of under $5 an hour in most states, when tips are down 75-90 percent in most parts of the country. … Black workers are tipped less because of implicit bias, and women are subject to twice the rates of sexual harassment when they aren’t paid a base, living wage.”

CHIEADZA KUNDIDZORA, ladychikundi@gmail.com
A restaurant worker, Kundidzora said today: “As an African American woman who has worked in the restaurant industry for over a decade, I have seen and experienced the damage done to women workers who are forced to rely on tips to survive and feed their families. It is past time to end the tipped minimum wage so that restaurant workers have the opportunity to earn a living wage without being dependent on sexual harassment in order to survive.”

Ginzberg is making segments of the film available to news outlets, including clips covering the following topics: overview of tipped minimum wage by states; wage theft in the restaurant industry; sexual harassment in the restaurant industry (featuring Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez); racial inequities in front vs. back of the house; reliance on public assistance; the tipped minimum wage as a legacy of slavery; and the little known fact that the House of Representatives passed a bill to end the tipped minimum wage in 2019, which has not been considered by the Senate.

Trump in Kenosha

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President Donald Trump is scheduled to travel to Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday, where Jacob Blake was shot repeatedly by police in the back.

DENNIS J. BERNSTEIN, dennisjbernstein at gmail.com, @burn_stick
Bernstein is the executive producer of the program “Flashpoints” and just wrote the piece “Don’t Expect Justice for Black People in Kenosha if Sheriff Beth Has His Way.

KEVIN ALEXANDER GRAY, kevinagray57 at gmail.com, @kevinagray
Gray is a civil rights organizer in South Carolina. He co-edited Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence which scrutinizes the impunity of perpetrators of violence to African Americans in U.S. society.

He is also author of Waiting for Lightning to Strike: The Fundamentals of Black Politics, which connects various issues, such as the drug war, to issues of oppression of African Americans and police violence. The book also lists Confederate and other memorials.

Many of his writings — including his essays “Rolling Back the Police State,” “What It Feels Like to be Black in America” and “Back to the Jim Crow Future” are available at Counterpunch and The Progressive.