News Release Archive - African American

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?

Did Biden’s Pick for Border Agency Cover-up Police Killings?

The New York Times reports in “Not Your Usual Police Chief: Biden Picks Trump Critic to Run Border Agency” that “Chris Magnus, the Tucson police chief who carried a Black Lives Matter sign at a protest, was chosen to lead Customs and Border Protection.”

But journalist Dennis Bernstein examined Magnus’s record as police chief in both Tucson and Richmond, Calif. Bernstein’s three-part expose, “Fatal Errors” examines 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.

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

Last year he wrote an in-depth three-part series for Who.What.Why. titled “Fatal Errors.” The pieces included: “Police Brutality in Tucson,” “Shot by Police in Richmond, CA” and “Police Reformer — or Cover-Up Artist?”

    Bernstein said: “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 Flyod.

“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.”

    Following the killing of Ingram-Lopez last year, his family settled for $2.9 million in December.

“Bad Apple” Argument Obscures Systemic Nature of Racist Police Violence

MARJORIE COHN, marjorielegal@gmail.com
Cohn, professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, just wrote the piece “Calling Chauvin a ‘Bad Apple’ Denies Systemic Nature of Racist Police Violence, which states: “As the murder trial of Derek Chauvin for killing George Floyd proceeds, the prosecution will try to portray the defendant as a ‘bad apple.’ In his opening statement, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell alerted the jurors that they would hear police officials testify Chauvin used excessive force in violation of departmental policy to apply restraints only as necessary to bring a person under control. However, this argument obfuscates the racist violence inherent in the U.S. system of policing. …

“Black people who are unarmed or not attacking police are 3.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white people, the Brookings Institution found. … More than 75 percent of the time, chokeholds are applied on men of color. …

“Prosecutors were compelled to bring charges against Chauvin because the whole world had seen him kill Floyd. After massive protests erupted following the horrifying video of Chauvin’s torture of Floyd — now known to have lasted nine minutes and 29 seconds — the MPD [Minnesota Police Department] fired Chauvin and prosecutors charged him with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. They later added a charge of second-degree murder.

“But what would have happened if eyewitnesses had not recorded Floyd’s death? Would Chauvin have been fired and charged with murder? …

“For nine minutes and 29 seconds, Chauvin continued to choke Floyd as several bystanders watched, many visibly recording the killing. Chauvin didn’t try to hide what he was doing. As eyewitness Genevieve Hansen testified, Chauvin looked ‘comfortable’ with his weight on Floyd’s neck.”

Roots of Anti-Asian Violence and Military Prostitution

CHRISTINE AHN, christineahn@icloud.com@christineahn
Ahn is executive director of Women Cross DMZ and coordinator of Korea Peace Now!
Following the shootings in Atlanta, killing eight workers in massage parlors, six of Asian decent, she pointed to statements made by Red Canary Song, a grassroots collective of Asian sex workers and their allies. She also urged people to “draw the links between U.S. militarism in Asia with its hundreds of U.S. bases, violence against women, and human/sex trafficking.”

U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken is in South Korea and said he condemns the Atlanta shootings: “We are horrified by this violence which has no place in America or anywhere.” Ahn tweeted in response: “Yet the U.S. has no problem waging violence against Asians through its forever wars and military occupation. Biden should do the right thing and end [the] U.S. oldest war with North Korea. That would help mitigate the jingoism and orientalism against Asian-Americans which fuels violence.” Ahn signed a just-released letter: “71 Korean American Leaders Call on President Biden to Formally End the Korean War.”

She added: “The roots of anti-Asian violence stems from the long history of U.S. wars and militarism in Asia and Pacific. When you can drop thousands of bombs and splatter napalm and agent orange on millions of Asian lives, that dehumanization will come home to roost.”

She spoke of a “clear linkage between the anti-Asian violence in the U.S. with its violence dominating Asians with its imperial wars” and will be on a panel Thursday at 8 p.m. ET: “The Feminist Case for a Peace Agreement to End the Korean War.”
Journalist Tim Shorrock tweeted that he has written about an example of what Ahn is talking about. “Between the end of the Korean War and the 1990s, more than a million Korean women were caught up in a state-controlled prostitution industry that was blessed at the highest levels by the U.S. military.” See his article: “Welcome to the Monkey House: Confronting the ugly legacy of military prostitution in South Korea.” Shorrock added: “One of the shocking things I learned while researching this article was how the U.S. military prostitution system in South Korea was modeled on the Japanese military’s ‘comfort stations’ in World War II.”
Also see: Sex Among Allies: Military Prostitution in U.S.-Korea Relations by Katharine H. S. Moon, reviewed in the Journal of World History

Will Biden Continue Bombings?

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

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?

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?

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.”