News Release Archive - People of Color

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.”

“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.

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

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.”

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

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

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?

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?

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.