News Release Archive - African American

First Sign of Normalcy: Ramp up Evictions

MALIKA CONNER, malika@righttocounselnyc.org@RTCNYC
Director of organizing for Right to Counsel NYC Coalition, Conner said today: “The CDC eviction moratorium set to expire July 31 doesn’t go far enough to protect tenants: It stops landlords from evicting only some tenants and doesn’t prevent landlords from suing. It also prioritizes landlords’ profits over tenants’ needs by requiring tenants to pay what little money they have towards rent.

“The current eviction protections in New York State, enacted through the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act (CEEFPA), protects most tenants from eviction, but only if they submit a hardship declaration form. These state protections are set to expire on August 31 and must absolutely be extended to prevent a health and homelessness crisis.

“Neither of these so-called moratoriums stop landlords from suing tenants wholesale, which is a serious cause of anxiety and stress for tenants and puts hundreds of thousands of families in immediate risk of eviction when they expire.

“Right now, despite these protections, there are more than 236,000 households across New York State with eviction cases in Housing Court. During the pandemic alone, landlords sued more than 65,000 tenants for eviction. That’s a nearly 40 percent increase in eviction cases since March 2020 and tens of thousands of families at risk of losing their homes.

“We cannot let these protections expire while New Yorkers are still reeling from the pandemic. Many tenants are without work, are struggling to pay for necessities like food and healthcare, and continue to endure poor living conditions in apartments neglected by landlords throughout, and even before, the pandemic. A recent study by UCLA also found that the number of coronavirus cases and deaths ‘increased dramatically’ in states where eviction moratoriums had been lifted.

“Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature must act now to stop mass evictions. The CEEFPA must be strengthened and extended beyond August 31st so all tenants are protected. Along with its many horrors, the COVID-19 pandemic taught us some important lessons. One of those lessons is that we can never again accept the routine inhumanity of the housing court eviction machine. Allowing the eviction protections to expire is simply not an option and will quickly reel us back to overcrowded, superspreader housing courts and families facing homelessness.”

Haiti, Cuba and U.S. Interference

KIM IVES, kives15@gmail.com, @kimives13
    Ives is the English language editor for Haiti Liberté and has recently been interviewed on “Anti-Empire Project” and “Democracy Now!” and other programs following the assassination of Jovenel Moïse.

    The New York Times states: “Haitian Officials Say U.S.-Based Suspect in President’s Killing Was Seeking Power.”

    Ives states that many in Haiti assess that the assassination is linked to wealthy families in Haiti. Ives notes: “Moïse’s government had issued an arrest warrant for Reginald Boulos, perhaps the most prominent member of this sector, and was on the verge of seizing his facilities in Haiti. On top of that, the entire bourgeoisie was panicked” because of the “growing organization of armed groups in Haiti’s impoverished shantytowns. Their leader, former police officer Jimmy ‘Barbecue’ Cherizier last week declared a ‘revolution’ against the bourgeoisie, saying that the people were preparing to raid their grocery stores, banks, and car dealerships.” See “Suspected Assassins of Haitian President Moïse Trained by US, Linked to Pro-Coup Oligarchy” by Dan Cohen, which quotes Ives. Ives also notes that Boulos hired a D.C. lobbyist two days before the assasination of Moïse.

    Ives also notes: “There had been dozens of protests against Jovenel Moïse over the past months, but they hardly made a blip on the mainstream media’s radar. Contrast that coverage to the hullabaloo being made about one protest in Cuba and you get an idea of how dismissive and downplaying the U.S. scribe press is toward protest against a Washington ally.”

The BBC states: “Cuba protests: Thousands rally against government as economy struggles.”

JAMES EARLY, earlytempos@gmail.com
    Early has visited Cuba many times over 45 years. He is the former Smithsonian Institution assistant secretary for education and public service and was director of its Cultural Heritage Policy Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

    He said today: “First we have to face the material reality inside Cuba — a decades-long U.S. bipartisan economic sanctions war which was intensified by Trump and continued by Biden-Harris. Cuba is especially vulnerable to this because of its dependence on limited natural resources and its own self-critical attempts to rectify its economic policy. The U.S. government economic war, despite U.S. corporate projects desirous of normal economic relations with Cuba, was designed to undermine the economy and compel the people to rise up against their elected officials. And they are elected, though their system is different from others.

    “And prior president Raúl Castro had called for more self-reflection and self-criticism to consolidate the county’s achievements over the past 60 years, and to rectify its errors and failures independent of the U.S. blockade. So, we’re seeing these protests in the U.S. media significantly orchestrated via Cuban dissidents inside and outside Cuba openly funded by the U.S. State Department. What we’re not seeing is that the current president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, has said that the Communist Party and the Cuban government are obligated to improve their performance in collaboration with a proactive critical citizenry. Despite the economic woes suffered by all Cubans, there is a refreshing, open critical debate mostly to improve the existing inefficiencies of the economic and political system in Cuba. ….

    “This even includes people calling for a return to corporate capitalism. What’s needed is that the Cuban people have that open debate about their own internal development. They can’t have that with the U.S. government waging an economic war or talking about some sort of interventionist humanitarian salvation. Such claims from the Biden administration are ridiculous given their backing of the brutal Colombian government or the apartheid Israeli government’s constant attacks on the Palestinians.”

    People in the U.S. should “demand that the U.S. government abandon the economic blockade and allow Cuban citizens and their government to address and resolve their own internal disputes within the frameworks and protocols established by the community of nations that overwhelmingly vote against the U. S. blockade.”

    See from UN on June 23: “UN General Assembly calls for U.S. to end Cuba embargo for 29th consecutive year.”

    See in-depth pieces and interviews with Early from The Real News with Early, including on Cuba.

Image source: Wikipedia

Haiti and the Disaster Foreign Manipulation Has Wrought

The Miami Herald reports in “Haiti President Jovenel Moïse assassinated in middle-of-the-night attack at his home“: “The assailants apparently claimed to be agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, according to videos taken by people in the area of the president’s home. Moïse, 53, lived in Pelerin 5, a neighborhood just above the hills in the capital.

“On the videos, someone with an American accent is heard yelling in English over a megaphone, ‘DEA operation. Everybody stand down. DEA operation. Everybody back up, stand down.'”

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said: “These reports are absolutely false.”

See Wednesday Institute for Public Accuracy news release on Haiti. Also see Twitter list on Haiti.

AMY WILENTZ, awilentz@uci.edu@amywilentz
Wilentz is author of numerous books on Haiti including The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier and Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter From Haiti. She can talk about the history of Haiti and how U.S. interventions have “inspired enmity and disgust” among the Haitian people.

See Twitter thread on U.S. interventions in Haiti.

CHRIS BERNADEL, cbernadel@protonmail.com@Blacks4Peace
Bernadel is on the Haiti Committee of the Black Alliance for Peace; both of his parents are Haitian immigrants. See the group’s statement from Wednesday: “Will the Biden administration and other political players use this moment as the pretext for military intervention, as was done in 1915? Will interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph attempt to consolidate power under the pretext of the current state of siege? Will the Core Group find a new willing puppet, more pliable than Moïse, to bring ‘stability?'”

EMMANUELA DOUYON, [in Haiti] emmanuela.douyon@gmail.com@emmadouyon
Douyon testified in March before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs on what Biden administration policy on Haiti should be. She said today: “Since last June, with the collective of activists, NOU PAP DOMI (We Will Not Sleep), I have been actively denouncing the increase in violence in Haiti and urging the authorities to act accordingly. A friend and fellow activist, Netty Duclaire, was killed less than a week ago along with 18 other Haitian citizens. I am mourning and now comes this terrible news.

“Never would I have imagined that the head of the country would be assassinated. If he can be assassinated in his home, who is safe in this country? Whose life matters in this country? How are we supposed to keep going and keep burying our loved ones?

“We, young activists, Petrochallengers, tried to warn the international community with the hashtag #freeHaiti but it was to no avail. We are not receiving the kind of support we need whether it’s from the UN or other countries and organizations. This partly explains why the situation keeps getting worse and we can’t see the impact of all the aid received, not to mention that because of corruption there is at least one notable case of mismanagement of aid money: the Petrocaribe scandal.

“I am shocked by the news of the assassination of former president Jovenel Moïse. This shows the extent to which violence reigns in Haiti. Justice must be served. We, the Haitian people, must stop the current political crisis and end the vicious cycle of violence.”

Supreme Court “Drives a Stake Through the Heart of the Voting Rights Act”

MARJORIE COHN, marjorielegal@gmail.com@marjoriecohn
Cohn, professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, recently wrote the piece “Supreme Court Drives a Stake Through the Heart of the Voting Rights Act.”

She writes: “Divided strictly along ideological lines, the Supreme Court construed what was left of the historic Voting Rights Act (VRA) to uphold two Arizona voter suppression laws that civil rights organizations had challenged for disproportionately burdening voters of color. This decision sends a dangerous signal to states that the courts are likely to uphold their voter suppression laws that make it harder for people of color to vote.

“In Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, the Court’s six right-wingers ruled, over the dissent of the three liberals, that Arizona’s ‘out of precinct policy’ and ‘ballot harvesting’ provision did not violate Section 2 of the VRA. Section 2 forbids any voting procedure that ‘results in a denial or abridgment of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race.’ …

“’In recent months, State after State has taken up or enacted legislation erecting new barriers to voting,’ [Elena] Kagan wrote. ‘Those laws shorten the time polls are open, both on Election Day and before. They impose new prerequisites to voting by mail, and shorten the windows to apply for and return mail ballots. They make it harder to register to vote, and easier to purge voters from the rolls. Two laws even ban handing out food or water to voters standing in line.’

“The ball is in Congress’s court. Two federal voter protection bills are pending, the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. In addition, the Judiciary Act of 2021 would increase the number of Supreme Court justices from nine to 13. That could provide an opportunity to dilute the right-wing agenda of the current six members of the Court who voted to open the floodgates of voter suppression legislation.”

“The Terrible Origins of July 4th”

MARGARET KIMBERLEY, margaret.kimberley@blackagendareport.com@freedomrideblog
Kimberley is author of Prejudential: Black America and the Presidents which was published last year.

She just wrote the piece “The Terrible Origins of July 4th,” which notes that among the grievances toward the British monarch outlined in the Declaration of Independence were: “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”

Kimberley explains the context: “The men who every school child is taught to think of as ‘patriots’ had two concerns which pushed them to declare independence. First, in 1763 the British emerged victorious after the end of a conflict against France. It was known in Europe as the Seven Years War and in America as the French and Indian War. The American moniker existed precisely because the French allied themselves with indigenous nations against the British. British victory brought them French held territory west of the Appalachians in the region now comprising midwestern states, but they knew they could not easily end indigenous wars if settlers along the eastern seaboard were allowed to go further west.

“Because of continued resistance from leaders such as Pontiac of the Ottawa nation, King George III issued the Proclamation of 1763, which forbade settlement west of the Appalachian mountains. One of the speculators poised to become a wealthier man if settlements were permitted to move westward was George Washington.

“He was not alone in his wish to conquer the entire continent and to get rich doing it. Property claims had already been made in these regions, and neither he nor the rest of his cohort were going to let British treaties with indigenous people stand in their way. They largely ignored the edict and went wherever they wanted to go.

“Their second concern was whether the British were committed to continuing the previously unfettered right to slave holding. In 1769 an enslaved man named James Somerset was purchased in Virginia and brought to England. He eventually escaped but was recaptured and was in the process of being sold to Jamaica. But Somerset had friends who went to court on his behalf. In 1772 a judge ruled that enslaved people could not be forcibly removed from England.

“The ruling didn’t end slavery in British territories and in fact it lasted in those regions for 50 more years. But even this narrow decision was too much for white Americans who feared that the crown might undermine or even end their right to slaveholding.”

Kimberley blogs at Freedom Rider and is editor and senior columnist at Black Agenda Report.

Relatives of Chicago Police Victims Oppose Ex-Mayor Rahm Emanuel as Ambassador to Japan

Victims and relatives of victims of police brutality in Chicago while Rahm Emanuel was mayor released a joint statement Thursday against the reported plan by President Biden to nominate Emanuel as the U.S. ambassador to Japan.

“During his eight years in office, Emanuel displayed contempt for communities of color,” says the statement. “He showed callous disregard for terrible losses suffered by the families of those who were killed or brutalized by officers of the Chicago Police Department.”

The 28 signers of the statement declared: “The possibility that Rahm Emanuel will become the U.S. ambassador to Japan is abhorrent to those of us who continue to mourn the loss of our loved ones due to police violence that he aided and abetted as mayor of Chicago. … No president who is truly serious about stopping brutality and murders by police would nominate Rahm Emanuel for an important government post. …. Rahm Emanuel became a symbol of lethal disrespect for Black lives. Making him a U.S. ambassador would make the U.S. government a similar symbol.”

Emanuel was mayor of Chicago from 2011 to 2019.

Five of the signers are willing to talk to journalists:

They are reachable via DELMARIE COBB, dlcobb@thepublicityworks.net

DOROTHY HOLMES
Holmes is the mother of Ronald “Ronnie Man” Johnson, who was shot in the back by CPD the same week that Laquan McDonald was killed in 2014. Video featuring Ms. Holmes is being released today. She says: “Rahm Emanuel covered up the murder of my son.”

AREWA KAREN WINTERS
Winters is the aunt of Pierre Loury, killed by CPD in April 2016. Pierre was shot in the back as he was climbing a fence fleeing from the police. Video featuring Ms. Winters is being released today.

EMMETT FARMER
Farmer is the father of Flint Farmer, killed in June 2011. Police officer Gildardo Sierra shot him in the back three times as he lay on the ground. He didn’t have a weapon. Sierra was involved in multiple shootings as an officer.

KENYATTA BRAND
Brand is the sister of Rekia Boyd, who was killed by off-duty officer Dante Servin in 2012. Servin was drinking, then driving when he saw young people in the park. He shot at one of the young men, killing Rekia. State’s attorney Anita Alvarez undercharged him — manslaughter instead of first or second degree murder — and then the judge pronounced a mistrial instead of requiring the state to charge him correctly.

MARTINEZ SUTTON
Sutton is the brother of Rekia Boyd.

Colombia: La Resistencia

FORREST HYLTON, [currently in Brazil] forresthylton@gmail.com
Hylton teaches history and politics at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia-Medellín. He just wrote the piece “La Resistencia” for the London Review of Books.

He writes: “Long one of Latin America’s most conservative countries, Colombia is undergoing a sea change. The second general strike in as many years evolved rapidly into a nationwide urban insurrection. ‘La Resistencia’ has endured for a month in the teeth of ferocious repression. …

“Soon after the protests started on 28 April, the proposed tax reform package that had triggered the strike was withdrawn, proposed healthcare reforms died in committee, and the finance minister and the foreign minister were forced to step down. There were (toothless) calls for dialogue and de-escalation from the international community. Yet the overwhelmingly non-violent protests have continued, as has the government’s response using deadly force.

Ninis (young people without education or job prospects) from urban peripheries have been the leading force on the barricades and they have faced the brunt of police terror — some of it captured on cell phone videos, including sexual assault, torture and murder — in Bogotá, Medellín, Pereira, Cartago, Buga, Tuluá, Cali, Popayán, Pasto, Bucaramanga and Barranquilla. They and their families account for perhaps half the population, and on the rare occasions they are interviewed, they say things like: ‘We have no future because they have taken everything from us, even fear. We have nothing left to lose.’ This was already true before Covid-19 hit, but lack of basic income support during the pandemic has made daily life impossible.”

International Commission Charges that U.S. Police Violence is Torture

KERRY McLEAN, kerrymclean@gmail.com
McLean is an international human rights lawyer and the spokesperson for the Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence, which just released their extensive report [PDF].

The commission was set up by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, National Conference of Black Lawyers, and National Lawyers Guild “to examine whether widespread and systematic racist violence in policing against people of African descent” in the U.S. constitutes violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The report finds “a pattern and practice of racist police violence in the U.S. in the context of a history of oppression dating back to the extermination of First Nations peoples, the enslavement of Africans, the militarization of U.S. society, and the continued perpetuation of structural racism.”

These conclusions were drawn by twelve Commissioners — judges, lawyers, professors and experts from Pakistan, South Africa, Barbados, Japan, India, Nigeria, France, Costa Rica, Antigua and Barbuda, the United Kingdom, and Jamaica — who held public hearings from January 18 to February 6, 2021.

The Commissioners “find violations of the rights to: life, security, freedom from torture, freedom from discrimination, mental health, access to remedies for violations, fair trial and presumption of innocence, and to be treated with humanity and respect. … The Commissioners find that U.S. laws and police practices do not comply with the international standards on the use of force, which require legal basis, legitimate objective, necessity, precautions, proportionality, protection of life, non-discrimination, and accountability. …

“Many Black people are killed in broad daylight to intimidate communities and because officers don’t fear accountability.”

Hollywood Spins the ’60s

DAVID CLENNON, djjc123@earthlink.net@daveclennon
Clennon is an actor and activist who recently wrote three pieces about how Hollywood spins the 60s. The first is “Hollywood’s New Blackface,” which states: “I don’t believe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or Fred Hampton would have been satisfied with the presence of more Black faces on our movie screens. The display of diversity has very little to do with a radical transformation of a political economy that screws so many to reward so few. …

In “How Hollywood Neuters the 60s: Sorkin’s ‘Trial of the Chicago 7’ Sentences American Radicalism to Oblivion,” Clennon writes: “If you need a dramatic hook, exaggerate the minor tactical differences of opinion among the good guys. And put your money on a far-out casting choice: Sacha Baron Cohen as ‘Abbie.’

“Instead of telling the story of eight political activists vs a corrupt, unjust legal system serving the Empire, the ‘Trial’ filmmakers exaggerate and fabricate tactical disagreements among the defendants themselves. As the two principal antagonists, they select the sober grassroots activist, Tom Hayden, and the madcap agitator, Abbie Hoffman, for conflict and contrast.”

And in “A Radical’s Complaint and Fan’s Appreciation of an Exceptional Actor,” Clennon writes: “It seems 2020 was the year for Hollywood to trivialize and marginalize the 1960s. To American citizens who participated in those struggles, ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’ and ‘One Night in Miami…’ and ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ are an insult and an injury. … And, as one who lived through the period, my greatest grievance over ‘Chicago 7’ is this: The shabby writing, and the miscasting of Dave Dellinger marginalizes and diminishes one of the most admirable political organizers and moral leaders of the anti-war struggle. …

“Each of the four men [Ali, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and Malcolm X] gets an epilogue, after the ‘One Night in Miami’ is over. In his epilogue, we see Ali receiving his new, Muslim name from the leader of the Nation of Islam.

“Why did the filmmakers choose that event to put their period on the story of Muhammad Ali? Would it have been too controversial for movie-goers to see, instead, a far more courageous act in Ali’s life? Would it have been too dangerous to show Ali publicly refusing to be conscripted into the U.S. military machine, when hundreds of thousands of American troops were slaughtering three million human beings in Vietnam? The young boxing champ we see in ‘Miami’ in 1964 made a heroic moral stand in 1967, and was banned from boxing for three of the most important years of a boxer’s career. (He also had a five-year prison term hanging over him, until the Supreme Court reversed his conviction in 1971.) If the filmmakers were serious about capturing something special in those four men, why did they omit the single most significant decision of Ali’s life? …

“I believe that ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ is inauthentic history. It features a false rendering of the real, historical, Fred Hampton. It makes me wonder, ‘What would Boots Riley have done with this tale?’

“Outsourcing. Off-shoring. Importing worker talent.

“In the last six years, Hollywood has put four historical African-American figures on screen:

Martin Luther King in ‘Selma’ (2015)
Harriet Tubman in ‘Harriet’ (2017)
Malcolm X in 2020’s ‘One Night in Miami…’
Fred Hampton in ‘Judas and the Black Messiah.’

“Every single one of these African-American characters has been portrayed by an Afro-British actor.

“Now, just as African-American characters — fictional and historical — are beginning to appear in movie and TV scripts, African-Americans have to compete with imported talent from the UK and other parts of the British Commonwealth to play those parts.

“Blackface on Black faces.

“It’s not just a trade imbalance, it’s a glaring moral deficit.”

Clennon asks, “What is Hollywood’s message to African-American actors? Black Livelihoods Don’t Matter?”

What Does the Conviction of Chauvin Mean?

MAX RAMEAU, afrimax@niainteractive.com
NETFA FREEMAN, netfa@ips-dc.org@Netfafree
Rameau and Freeman are writing a forthcoming book, Community Control Over Police, and wrote the piece “Community Control Vs. Defunding the Police: A Critical Analysis.”

Freeman said today: “There is a struggle to control the narrative of what the Chauvin conviction actually means. This struggle is between, on the one hand, the people whose actions in the streets nearly a year ago sent then president Trump fleeing to a bunker and forcing the prosecution of Chauvin. And on the other hand you have the ruling class establishment trying to uphold the illusion of shared interests and obscure notions of systemic change. The same President Biden claiming the country must ‘confront head-on systemic racism and the racial disparities in policing and the criminal justice system’ is the same Biden who has sped up the flow of military gear to police departments, exceeding in this first quarter of 2021 such transfers under his predecessor.

“Real justice for the Black and Brown working class against the repression of police requires a power shift. It requires putting such forces and all the resources allocated to it under the collective democratic control of those most directly impacted by this repression.”

Also, see recent Institute for Public Accuracy news release: “Did Biden’s Pick for Border Agency Cover-up Police Killings?