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Sunday, September 25, 2016

California May Deny Families Right to See Locked-Up Loved Ones

Excellent Article by Tele Sur on SB1157 the In Person Visiting Bill which was passed by Legislatures and is sitting on Governor Jerry Brown's Desk! If the Bill is not signed by September 30th it will die! The Sheriffs Union is lobbying against the Bill! Over 18 Counties in California only have Video Visits. That means families who want to see their incarcerated loved ones are out of luck.

Anita L. Wills

Follow this link to read the article:

California May Deny Families Right to See Locked-Up Loved Ones

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Look at the Twenty-First Century Lynchings of African American Males

     Most of us associate the word Lynching with the Klu Klux Klan and White Militia. We see a black body swinging from a tree and think about Billy Holiday singing, Strange Fruit. There was a spike in lynchings, after the Civil War, when newly freed slaves were set up on by mobs of whites.  They were beat, tortured, and mutilated and sometimes burned alive. The most typical lynching was one in which the body was hung from a tree. There were in fact lynching's throughout America before and after the Civil War. There is even a city in Virginia named Lynchburg. 

    In the past Lynchings were attended by crowds of whites, some of whom posed at the site with their children. Now we are in the twenty-first Century, have an African American President, but little has changed. Today's lynchings are primarily of young black males, throughout America.  It is an epidemic of killings by white Police Officers,  which has left the community depressed and afraid. The community is caught in the middle of armed thugs and racist policies that allow Police to shoot and kill with impunity. Not only are they afraid of a young black man with a gun, they are afraid of the Police.  The latest killing of Kenneth Harding by the San Francisco Police brought up the image of, "Strange Fruit",  which Billy Holiday sang so well. 

            “Lynching is the practice whereby a mob--usually several dozen or several hundred persons--takes the law into its own hands in order to injure and kill a person accused of some wrongdoing. The alleged offense can range from a serious crime like theft or murder to a mere violation of local customs and sensibilities. The issue of the victim's guilt is usually secondary, since the mob serves as prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner. Due process yields to momentary passions and expedient objectives.”[1]

         When Lynching came to fruition in America, there was little distinction between black men and women.  Just as slave women worked beside the men in fields and were whipped like men, they too were subject to Lynching. Frederick Douglass spoke extensively on the methods used against slaves to control them. The goal was to psychologically break them down until there was no resistance to the Authority of the Master.  
      In an article written by William S. Mcfeely titled, Capital Cases: A Legacy of Slavery and Lynching: The Death Penalty as a Tool of Social Control; Frederick Douglass pens his feeling about witnessing the shooting of a slave named Demby. 
        According to Mcfeely; “Slavery in the United States was an immensely complex system. Crucial to its maintenance was the threat, often carried out, of the pain of the whip, the anguish of forced separations by sale, and the finality of death. Frederick Douglass recalled from his childhood the shooting of a slave named Demby by Austin Gore, an overseer on the huge farm on which Douglass (Frederick Bailey), lived.”
Douglass describes the scene of Gore taking up a whip:
      "He had given Demby but few stripes, when to get rid of the scourging, he [Demby] plunged himself into a creek, and stood there at the depth of his shoulders, refusing to come out. Mr. Gore told him that he would give him three calls, and that, if he did not come out at the third call, he would shoot him. The first call was given. Demby made no response, but stood his ground. The second and third calls were given with the same result. Mr. Gore then . . . raised his musket to his face . . ., taking deadly aim . . ., and in an instant poor Demby was no more. His mangled body sank out of sight, and blood and brains marked the water where he had stood." 1
      Demby was killed in full view of the other slaves, as a means of instilling fear and terror, and as a means of control.  The killings of African American males like Ramerley Graham and Trayvon Martin, bring up those images.  Ramerley was killed by Police in New York, who busted into his apartment and killed him in front of his family members.  Trayvon's killing was glossed over by Police who refused to arrest George Zimmerman, his assailant. 
     Although slavery has long been abolished, the tactics are the same and the impression left on those who witness the killings is a psychological wound that may never heal. Here in the Bay Area, on New Years Eve of 2009, a young black man, Oscar Grant was shot and killed in full view of passengers who were riding BART.  After killing Grant, the Police scrambled to collect cell phones and cameras from Passengers riding the train.  The footage from those cameras told the story and resulted in the sentence of Officer Johannes Mesherle.  For the murder of this young man, he served less than two years in prison.

Murder Most Foul

      It is interesting to note how careful the police are in approaching and arresting white males who actually have committed crimes. In the case of Hans Reiser, a forty-two year old white male.  He admitted to beating and killing his wife, thirty-one year-old Nina Reiser, at his home in the Oakland hills on Sept. 3, 2006. He remained free for two years after his wife disappeared, as Police searched for clues of her whereabouts. It turns out that she was buried in the Oakland Hills, not too far from the home of Reisers mother.  
     After being offered a deal by the District Attorney, which does not include any strikes, or the death penalty, he led Police to the body.  Not one shot was fired when Police were investigating the brutal murder of Nina Reiser. He was free to go about his life and possibly even kill his children, who he had in his custody.  He received a sweet heart deal from the District Attorney's office of fifteen years to life.  His life is of value because he is, after all, a White Male, and he could be out in as little as ten years. There are few young males of Color who receive deals like that in California Courts. What is of note is African American Males who have been killed by Police have, by and large committed no crimes.
     Another noted Murderer is Jared Lee Loughner, who killed six and injured thirteen on January 8, 2011. He was the shooter of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Gifford (D.Ariz).  He was taken by Police without one shot fired, and he did it. He took a plea and received Life in Prison, thus sparing himself the Death Penalty . Troy Davis, and African American Male, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death, could have used the mercy shown Loughner. Even after murdering a nine year old, Loughners' rights were fully protected. He received Justice, a fair trial and his Constitutional Rights were not violated. 

Police Killings of African American Males in the San Francisco Bay Area

 Raheim Brown

     On January 22, 2011, Oakland Unified School District Officers, accosted and shot Twenty- year old Raheim Brown in the face and body. Although not a Policeman, the officers were armed and patrolling the area around Skyline High School. Raheim and his girlfriend were parked up the street from the High School, when confronted by the District Officers. One of the Officers reached across Raheims girlfriend and shot him three times, in the chest and head. They then beat his girlfriend so severely she was hospitalized and is still traumatized. Raheim was later accused of pointing a screwdriver at the Officers, while he and his girlfriend sat in the car.  No action by Raheim Brown warranted his murder by these School Patrol Officers. Yet, no charges were filed against either officer and Batt is often assigned to  demonstrations in which Raheims family are participants. The family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Oakland Unified School District. Oakland Unified School District Officers, accosted and shot 

 Kenneth Harding 

        Kenneth Harding, a nineteen-year old African American male, was killed in full view of the residents of Hunter’s Point in San Francisco California, on July 16, 2011. He was shot in the neck and Officers administered no first aid and did not allow to assist him, as he lay dying. In fact the Officer stood and watched as he died. His crime was not showing Officers a $2.00 Muni bus pass and running.  The Officers vilified Kenneth and his family, who at the time lived in Washington State. They stated that Kenneth was wanted on a rape charge and had a criminal history.  What technology do those officers have that tells them someone has a record? So it is okay to use someone who has a record for target practice?  I have gotten on Muni many times and been waived to the back because one or the other machine was down.  Muni is not going to go broke from someone avoiding a $2.00 fare.  
      Danica Chatman, the mother of 19-year-old Kenneth Harding, has filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that her son's civil rights were violated and that he didn't get proper medical care.

 Alan Blueford

      Just after midnight on Saturday May 6th, Alan Blueford and two of his friends were waiting for some girls to pick them up on 90th Ave., in East Oakland. Alan and his friends were discussing the Floyd Mayweather fight. He spoke to his parents to let them know his whereabouts.  Not long afterwards a car  pulled up to them with its lights off, and Alan ran. Officer Miguel Masso gave chase and a few blocks later shot Alan, who was laying on the ground face down.  After shooting Alan, the Officer also shot himself in the foot. Over a dozen witnesses said that Alan had no weapon and posed no threat to the officer. This Officer is now on PAID Administrative Leave, while the case is being investigated. This is common in most Police involved Shootings. There is no curfew in Oakland, no Gang initiative, and no real reason to approach these young men, other than their race. 
      According to the coroners report Alan was shot while laying on the ground. Why would Officer Masso shoot this young man, while he was in the surrender position? The Police would not administer nor allow anyone else to administer CPR or First Aid as Alan lay dying. The Police changed their story to the family and the media several times in the days after the shooting. The Blueford Family are fighting back and have formed a, "Justice for Alan Blueford Coalition."

The Blueford family and the Justice 4 Alan Blueford Coalition are demanding:
  • Officer Miguel Masso be fired and charged with Alan’s murder.
  • OPD Chief Howard Jordan be held accountable for lying to the Blueford family.
  • An end to stop-and-frisk and other police practices of racial profiling.
  • The repeal of the Police Officers’ Bill of Rights, that shields violent cops from prosecution and keeps them on the street.
Contact: Justice for Alan Blueford or Justice 4 Alan Blueford; 
Website: Justice 4 Alan Blueford Coalition;  Justice for Alan Blueford (Facebook)

Derrick Gaines

       On July 20, 2012, Officer Joshua Cabillo shot Derrick Gaines as he was running away. The bullet went through the teenagers neck, but may have been meant for his skull. We know that he was not aiming for his legs, buttocks, or torso. This was a kill shot one that ended the life of Derrick Gaines. He will not face criminal charges for shooting Derrick Gaines. After all it was in the, Line of Duty, although he left out the part about, Protecting and Serving.  Derrick Gaines was not robbing anyone or assaulting anyone, in fact he was walking with some friends. Most young people are told to travel with friends as it is dangerous to go out alone.
     Derrick and his friends were at an Arco gas station at Westborough and Gellert boulevards, in south San Francisco. Since the victim is deceased there is no one to testify on his behalf.  His death has stirred tensions in South San Francisco, with friends, family and supporters of the teen questioning whether the boy was targeted by police because he was black. His family has retained attorney John Burris, known for filing police misconduct lawsuits in high-profile cases. "What resulted in this poor decision was the loss of a life. There is, however sufficient evidence to show that Gaines was not armed, nor pointing a weapon at police.   The family is now  being represented by Oakland Attorney John Burris.  

 Mario Romero

       Mario Romero was shot numerous times by Vallejo Police Officers while sitting in his car with his friend Joseph Johnson.  The incident took place on September 2, 2012 in North Vallejo (California), about 4:30 am.  Police contend that when they approached the car, Romero reached for a gun in his waistband. However, Johnson stated that Mario was shot in the chest and slumped over almost immediately. He had no time to reach for anything during the ambush by Police.  The Police later identified the weapon as a pellet gun, a fact which family members dispute. 
      His sister witnessed the entire assault and stated that the Police stood on the hood of the car and reloaded before continuing to shoot. Johnson stated that Mario's body took the bullets that were aimed at him.  He believes that the Police were trying to kill him but instead riddled the dead body of Mario with bullets.  A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the daughter and family members of Mario and Joseph Johnson.  

Civil Rights Attorney John Burris had this to say:  

      "There is no curfew in Vallejo and it is not illegal for citizens to sit in their car."   Mayor, Osby Davis,  said he will ask the City Council to call on state Attorney General.  Kamala Harris to conduct an independent investigation of Romero's case.
      Romero's mother, Cynthia Mitchell, is represented by another Oakland-based attorney George Holland. He also is president of the Oakland chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  "What happened to Romero can happen again," Holland said. "Young men in Vallejo are living in fear."
     "We believe that this issue is a large part of a bigger issue in Vallejo," Burris said. "There's a systematic problem in the department, not just in this one case."
     [Romero's was the the fifth Vallejo officer-involved shooting death since May 25 (2012). All of those killed by Vallejo Police were African American Males. ]
     "It is an astronomical number for a city the size of Vallejo. It is not illegal to sit in your car at 4:30 am, I call it Racial Profiling."

Oakland Police Department - Riders Assault and Harrass African American Young Men

     The Knight Riders were a group of Oakland Police Officers accused of terrorizing African American males mostly in West Oakland.  The Media seems to side with Officers by stating that the Officers assigned to patrols in West Oakland, only harassed street-corner drug dealers. In fact they were accused of beating and kidnapping suspects, as well as falsely arresting innocent people. They covered their tracks by filing false police reports and obstructing justice by lying about their actions.
      It was a rookie cop who blew the whistle on his the Gang of Four. The officers -- Clarence "Chuck" Mabanag, 36; Matt Honung, 30; Jude Siapno, 33; and Francisco "Choker" Vazquez, 45 -- were fired  after an internal investigation led to misconduct charges. The alleged ring-leader, Vazquez, is a fugitive and apparently fled the country nearly two years ago. They were a mixture of Hispanic and Asian Officers assigned to a predominately African American Neighborhood. The four were named in a series of 17 civil rights lawsuits involving about 115 people that they had arrested. 
   The city of Oakland agreed to a multimillion- dollar settlement that could resulted in structural changes within the Oakland Police Department. Only rank and file Officer were arrested and charged yet there are other victims who were not heard. They tell of high ranking Officers threatening and harassing them.  None of the charges have made a difference in the treatment of those who were shot and killed by Oakland Police Officers, since the s0-called Settlement. 
   A Jury of majority whites from outside of Oakland acquitted the Officers of most of the charges. This is typical in so-called Liberal California, that Suburban Whites are used to sway a jury.     

In Conclusion

     There is an epidemic of Police Shootings of African American Males throughout America.  This is not to diminish the Black on Black Crime which is also prevalent.  The police are not our friends and not here to protect us, no matter how much taxes we pay. We are paying our own abusers, those who actually believe they can circumvent the law. So far they are able to kill our young men at will and walk away.  Most attorneys will not take cases against the Police, as they know the Courts are not sympathetic.
     The Politicians, Courts, DA's, and Media back the Police up when it comes to the killing of African American Males.  The fact that the Police are killing young men for no other reason than they look suspicious is cause for concern.  Looking suspicious is highly subjective and requires profiling. In order to profile someone you should be unbiased in your assessment. In these cases the Police are profiling a African American Males  and becoming Judge, Jury, and executioner.  Maybe the Police should just Protect and Serve, the job they are hired to do.  
    In order to combat the killings we need community involvement and a Police Department that knows and respects our community. They Police have no respect in our community and are seen as an occupying force. It is no different then the White Militia who patrolled our community and killed at will after the Civil War and during the Jim Crow Era.  Right now it is taxation without Representation.  We are paying people to abuse and disrespect us in our own community.  The solution is to have our own and Police Our Own.

Partial Roll Call for Strange Fruit in the San Francisco Bay Area

  • September 2, 2012 - Mario Romero, Twenty-three years old, shot by Vallejo Police while sitting in a parked car.
  • June 5, 2012 -Derrick Gaines, Fifteen Years Old Shot by Police in South San Francisco
  • May 6, 2012 - Alan Blueford, Seventeen Years old, Shot by Officer Miguel Masso in Oakland CA
  • September 25, 2011 - Arthur Raleigh witnesses say he was shot by Police while his hands were in the air.  Although only one Officer was identified witnesses state there were three officers, including one who stepped on the victim while he was laying on the ground bleeding. The Police were identified as either white or light skinned Hispanics.  
  •  January 1, 2009 - Oscar Grant, Twenty-Two years old; shot and killed by BART Police Officer, Johannes Mesherle, Oakland CA  
  •  July 22, 2010 - James Rivera, Sixteen Years Old, shot and killed by Stockton Sheriff Deputy's (over 30 rounds fired into his body), Stockton CA
  •   November 8, 2010 - Derrick Jones, thirty-seven years old, shot and killed by Oakland Police, Oakland CA
  • January 22, 2011 -  Raheim Brown, Twenty-years old, shot and killed by Oakland Unified School District’s police Force,  Oakland CA
  • July 16, 2011 – Kenneth Harding, Nineteen years old, shot by MUNI Police Officers over a Seventy-five cents fare, in San Francisco CA
  • May 6, 2012 - Alan Blueford shot and killed by Officer Masso in Oakland California. 
  • June 5, 2012 - Derrick Gaines, Shot and killed by police in South San Francisco. 
  • September 2, 2012 - Mario Romero, Twenty-Three years old; shot and killed by police in Vallejo California
       All of the young men mentioned here, besides being African American, were killed by Police Action and vilified by the media. It appears that these young men were targeted because of their race and perceived status (in other words racially profiled).
  It is interesting that the media and courts will consider the mental health of white males who kill, even those who are privileged, but not African American males living in Urban Areas. It would seem that their mental health would be considered more so than white males.  They suffer from unemployment, poor schools, lack of opportunities, broken homes etc., it should be a no brainer.  
      There are Rogue Police Officers, who are killing our children for sport, and bragging about it with their brother Officers.  The song Billy Holiday sang about, Strange Fruit is as relevant as it was in 1929.  Not only are the victims, "Strange Fruit", so are those who prey on them, Police, Courts, Politicians, and a Community that sits idly by…, Strange Fruit Indeed!   

Derrick Gaines 15 years old
Raheim Brown 20 years
Oscar Grant 23 years
James Rivera 14 years