NNPA STORIES -
CASH IN THE APPLE 8-21-14
By Cash Michaels
THE REAL REASON - There seems to be some confusion about why we get massively upset when a police officer kills one of us, versus when one of us kills one of us. The answer is really simple - WE'RE ALREADY massively upset about black-on-black crime. WE'RE ALREADY massively upset when young, innocent children in our community are killed in senseless, needless acts of violence. And we're certainly massively tired and upset that everyday in our community, we have to bury another one of our young people because of wanton violence. Indeed, it SICKENS US. AND YES, we've marched our streets, started youth programs, advocated for more youth opportunities, gotten the churches that want to be involved involved.
We have worked hard against the grain and the tide of despair which comes with illegal drugs and guns THAT COME FROM THE OUTSIDE INTO OUR COMMUNITIES. We have tried to develop partnerships with government and law enforcement to rid our community of the very things that tear families apart, and make our streets killing fields. We do promote education as the key towards giving our young people better choices. We even work with the formally incarcerated, helping them to turn their backs on crime, and forge ahead towards productive lives.
To be clear, we, as a community, are so, so exhausted from the constant struggle of just trying to achieve and maintain what is considered to be a drug-and-violence-free normalcy, that we've admittedly become numb to the constant loss of young life, the ever present sadness compounded to such an extent that, as if we're working in an emergency room, we hear and see AND feel the tragedy, but yet our collective survival mechanism won't allow us to repeatedly grieve at each and every instance.
The wanton slaughter of ourselves has unfortunately, and regretfully become the norm. Changing that norm of our youth killing each other, is the mission we're so desperately trying to solve. And yet, we're keen enough to understand the difference between some stupid fool of a kid thinking that the power of life and death is his, and when someone we depend on for the ultimate safety of our community hides behind the color of law to take our lives at will. The badge still means something to our community. We still respect good, honest, committed law enforcement, and we're proud when some of our own join the force for the purpose of protecting their community.
AND THAT'S why, when someone with the badge decides to violate that trust society insists we invest in him, it shakes our foundation. If an agent of the state can kill any of us at will without sanction, then as we struggle to save our community from within, who can we trust to maintain order and justice from outside? Who is really there to protect our rights as American citizens if the government itself is violating our constitutional rights? What meaning is the law, when the law is targeting you, and those like you, with injustice, terror and death?
When there is clear evidence that those who represent the law are targeting you, then YES, you need LEADERSHIP to stand up and speak out to challenge that injustice. Getting on CNN or FOX to stop black-on-black crimes is fruitless because they are outside of the community. They have no investment in your community. The violence that occurs IN our community must be resolved BY our community IN our community, or else it isn't our community anymore. So if one gangbanger kills another on my block, I shouldn't expect to see Rev. Al or Jesse on the corner the next day. I need to be out there, with my neighbors and area churches and businesses, talking about what we can do to make sure it doesn't happen again. Jesse and Al have led "Stop the Violence" marches and movements many times before in an effort to spark local efforts, so this business of saying they've done nothing is false. They make it a point of only getting involved in situations they've been invited to get involved in. That's one of the reasons you rarely see either one of them in North Carolina. Rev. Barber has this territory covered, and told them so. So blaming them as ambulance chasers - that dog don't hunt!
But when there is a question of whether the law is targeting us, that has to be played out on a much larger canvas, and the only way to draw attention to it, and ultimately build pressure for change, is to go visible, meaning you use every weapon at your disposal, including them if you decide to. So let's be clear - stopping black-on-black violence is a community effort we have to solve in concert with our local governments and law enforcement. We have to fight for more opportunities for our young people, and quite frankly for our entire community. People with good jobs don't have time to create havoc because they're building families and communities. Better educational opportunities for our children IN our communities further creates hope. Leaving the four walls of the church, and going to our young people with a strong message of hope is very important. Getting the flow of illegal drugs and guns off our streets is key. Getting our businesses involved in training and creating opportunities is essential. Getting our media to become more constructive and supportive of the community in the transmission of their messages is vital. Voting in the right representation at election time is essential.
None of the above is Jesse or Al's job. ALL of it is OUR job collectively! And instead questioning what they're doing and why, why aren't their critics showing us what THEY'RE doing, because if they're doing something better, everyone would know about it by now! I'm looking for the courage in our community to face our demons and win, while leadership gives voice to our broader concerns in the most effective ways they know how. CAN AND WILL WE DO IT? That's the REAL question at hand!
Make sure you tune in every Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. for my talk radio show, ''Make It Happen'' on Power 750 WAUG-AM, or online at www.myWAUG.com. And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my blog, ‘The Cash Roc” (http://thecashroc.blogspot.com/2011/01/cash-roc-begins.html).
Cash in the Apple - honored as the Best Column Writing of 2006 by the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Columnist Cash Michaels was also honored by the NNPA for Best Feature Story Journalist of 2009, and was the recipient of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP’s President’s Award for Media Excellence in Sept. 2011.
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian in your life. Bye, bye.
CHAVIS COMPARES FERGUSON
TODAY, TO WILMINGTON THEN
By Cash Michaels
Ben Chavis has seen it before.
A small racially-divided town with a large black population under white minority control, with virtually no African-American elected leadership and few, if any, blacks on its police force, in the midst of growing racial tensions that boiled over with protests, violence, and national headlines.
That was Wilmington, NC in 1971, when young demonstrators took to the streets to peacefully protest racial discrimination in the public schools, and white supremacists and police came into the black community on a mission to do violence.
The episode led to the infamous Wilmington Ten case.
Rev. Chavis was there as the leader of the peaceful protests that were marred by the violent white supremacist reaction. And based on what Chavis has seen of the tragic events over the past two weeks in the small Midwestern town of Ferguson, Missouri – where a white police officer fatally shot an 18-year-old unarmed black teen named Michael Brown, setting off riots and violent confrontations with police – the comparisons, he says are eerily similar.
“I believe that there is a correlation between Ferguson, Mo. and Wilmington, NC,” Chavis, currently the interim president of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, said in a telephone interview last Saturday evening in North Carolina.
In both cases, Ferguson today and Wilmington over forty years ago have large black, mostly poor populations governed by the white minority. Published reports have the population in Ferguson at around over 21,000 people, with upwards of 75 percent black. The town City Council has only one African-American on it, but the school board doesn’t have any.
And the Ferguson Police Dept. has only three black officers of a reported force of 53.
“The community is not represented in its own institutions of power,” stated The Washington Post.
A number of factors could account for this, Chavis says, including a general malaise of hopelessness, suppression of the black vote, and “apartheid-like” conditions where the whites who are in power don’t want to share that power.
Adding to all of that, over 50 percent of the black population in Ferguson is under the age of 25, thus contributing to the general malaise in the community.
“I guarantee after this situation, voter registration is going to be increased in Ferguson, as well as voter turnout,” Rev. Chavis said. “This is going to require long-term transformation.”
The racial events between Ferguson and Wilmington are over 40 years apart, and yet Rev. Chavis agrees that, based on his experience, there are several striking similarities.
In Wilmington on Feb. 6th, 1971 after several days of widespread violence, a police officer fatally shot a young black man named Stephen Mitchell, and just like in Ferguson, claimed it was in self-defense.
In Ferguson, police claim that Michael Brown tried to take an officer’s weapon, something witnesses dispute, and the officer, Darren Wilson, was justified in chasing Brown, shooting him six times, twice fatally in the head. That incident touched off several days of street violence.
In Wilmington, the police chief claimed that Stephen Mitchell was brandishing a firearm when he was killed, and his officer was only defending himself.
Chavis held a press conference two days later in Raleigh, saying that Mitchell didn’t have a weapon when he was fatally shot.
In both cases, the young black male victim was vilified by the police as criminals who deserved what they got.
The similarities don’t stop there.
After Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, local police donned military gear and weaponry, and manned armored personnel vehicles obtained from the federal government, to quell local protest demonstrations, looting and fires. The Missouri governor ultimately called out the National Guard.
In Wilmington over forty years ago, local police donned riot gear to patrol the streets during several nights of violence and fires. NC Gov. Bob Scott offered to send in the National Guard, but Wilmington’s mayor and police chief told him it wasn’t necessary.
Only after a white man named Harvey Cumber was killed after he exited his truck with a rifle and aimed it at a black church, did Scott then ordered the National Guard to roll into Wilmington.
“I did have flashbacks,” Rev. Chavis admits, thinking back to Wilmington after witnessing the “militarization of the police” in Ferguson. He also said that the tactic was also used in South Africa by white police years ago during uprisings against the apartheid regime.
The disturbances in Wilmington, and now Ferguson, both garnered national and international headlines.
“There are parallels, and one of the things you learn from the Wilmington Ten case is that the African-American community has to be organized, has to be mobilized, but we also have to translate our anger and frustration into votes. We have to get more of our people elected, more of our people in charge,” Rev. Chavis said.
“In that kind of population [in Ferguson], there should be an African-American police chief, there should be an African-American prosecutor.”
Indeed, given the dearth of black-elected leadership in Ferguson – a community which has seen its poverty and jobless rates virtually double in the past decade - Chavis doubts that Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson will even be indicted by local authorities, even though federal indictments based on possible civil rights violations are still possible given the ongoing probe by the US Justice Dept. ordered by President Obama.
If there’s a more current connection that Ferguson has with Wilmington, it’s that long before Michael Brown was killed, Wilmington was beset with a series of police incidents where suspects were being gunned down.
In one such case, lawyers for the family of Brandon Davone Smith have written the US Justice Dept. seeking a probe into his October 13th, 2013 shooting death.
The July 10, 2014 letter from attorney Katherine Lewis Parker of Tin, Fulton Walker and Owen Law Firm stated that three days after Smith shot and wounded a New Hanover County Sheriff’s Dept. detective on Oct. 10, 2013, three days later Smith, unarmed, was “…shot dead by three officers, firing a total of 24 shots.”
Online postings by other area law enforcement officers suggested that Smith was to be shot dead on sight, as opposed to be captured alive and brought to trial, Parker wrote.
Atty. Parker requested a DOJ investigation because local officials have refused to reveal the circumstances of Smith’s death.
SERA REACTS TO
N&O SLAM STORY
By Cash Michaels
The title of the story was, “City-funded Southeast Raleigh Assembly no longer serves its community, critics say.”
And if that wasn’t enough to get Rita Anita Linger’s blood boiling, the rest of The News & Observer newspaper’s August 15th portrayal of the Southeast Raleigh Assembly (SERA) outraged the organization’s president and CEO beyond all measure.
“To say that we have changed our focus away from the original mission and don’t do economic development work any longer is irresponsible, an uninformed response and frankly, just plain ignorant,” Linger said in a fiery statement.
According to the N&O story, SERA,”…is coming under fire, accused of failing in its core mission.”
“Community leaders, including a Wake County commissioner, are voicing concerns about [SERA], a task force created in 2001 with the mission of “developing long-term economic development solutions for southeast Raleigh.” Critics say the organization, which has become a nonprofit, largely funded by tax dollars, is no longer focused on that goal.”
The N&O story goes on to quote Wake County Commissioner James West, a founding member from his days as a Raleigh City Councilman, as saying SERA’s “…original goal was to look at economic competitiveness in the Southeast Raleigh area and to create more opportunity for the area to be thriving.”
“I don’t see as much of that done [now],” West is quoted as saying.
The story quotes small business owner Chandra Wells as saying she does “…need some help” by way of business advice, and she wishes she “…could get some support, but I am doing fine.”
The N&O story does not say, however, whether Ms. Wells had ever requested business assistance from SERA, or any other economic development agency. Indeed, the story, written by N&O staffer Claire Myers, does not even allege that SERA has ever refused assistance to any Southeast Raleigh business when asked.
What Myers does make clear, however, is that, in her assessment, SERA’s most effective program to date, “Dancing in the Park,” has everything to do with promoting individual health and wellness, but nothing to do with stimulating economic growth and prosperity in the city’s most embattled area.
The clear inference from the N&O story, which quoted other critics of SERA, is that ever since it changed from a city advisory group focused exclusively on Southeast Raleigh economic development with appointed members in 2001, to an independent but city-funded nonprofit agency with a broader, more comprehensive Southeast Raleigh agenda that also encompasses economic development, SERA doesn’t have much to show by way of its original charter, and thus, is a waste of opportunity and taxpayer dollars.
SERA Pres. Linger strongly disagrees, and mounted a terse pushback on the N&O story, calling it “…an unethical piece of journalism…irresponsible…[and] defamatory.” In a recent email to SERA supporters, Linger alleges that Claire Myers is really an N&O intern, and that the person truly behind the piece is Colin Campbell, who she accuses of trying to “…make the city of Raleigh look like poor fiscal managers, while disparaging one of the nonprofits it helps to do good work.”
Calling on Raleigh city leaders to publicly take a stand in support of SERA, Linger continued, “This is slanderous. This organization is not comprised of a bunch of black buffoons dancing in the park to hip hop music. We take our charge seriously and to be slandered this way while facilitating a summer program is despicable. Our goal [is] to reduce cardiovascular disease and get people paying attention to nutrition and obesity reduction is part of our work.”
Indeed, Linger continues, SERA is on point with its original mission statement.
“The mission was created over 10 years ago when SERA was an Advisory Board and remains the same as it has over the past 10 years including as per its original mission “to enhance the quality of life for southeast Raleigh residents”” Linger says. “While economic development was only one piece of the mission pie, SERA, Inc.’s method to implementing community development is achieved through a holistic approach, helping residents to become successful in every aspect of their lives and several additional services have been provided to support the holistic approach.”
Linger points to the 2006 “Southeast Raleigh Competitiveness Assessment” report issued by Dr. James Johnson at UNC – Chapel Hill’s Kenan –Flagler Business School which called for the predominately-black community to not only welcome diversity, but also seeks ways to improve citizen quality of life in an effort to attract overall investment and economic development.
Linger says that upon her hire in 2009, “…seven large community focus groups were held for community members, community leaders and community and business stakeholders at City Hall to come and participate in programming conversations relative to SERA’s new role as a non-profit. Based on those community focus groups, it was decided the mission should remain the same with some additional enhancements. Thus our mission remains the same and our cadre of programs work to support that mission.”
She adds that while Dancing in the Park may be SERA’s most visible program, it is not the agency’s signature program.
“Our signature programs include the Negotiating Our Way program (NOW) which served over 8,200 people this past fiscal year and includes supporting residents via phone calls and in person meetings. What the N&O intern did not bother to report was that over 4,000 of people initially making contact through NOW, became program participants of SERA including our economic development program. People who are interested in starting a business, getting coaching around their business come to us regularly for support. Just in this month (August), SERA has actively supported and coached four small business owners to hone their business skills and develop a strategy to effectively market and enhance income revenue streams for their business. In addition to community residents who are both employed and unemployed, SERA work with ex convicts who are interested in learning re-entry strategies that will assist them in becoming marketable and finding employment and so that they can become effective members of their community. Our reach is vast and most of our programs are not held in public parks but in community centers and one on one in the SERA offices,” Linger says.
She adds that a business plan seminar is scheduled for October, in addition to a hands-on business seminar for senior citizens and SERA’s Youth Entrepreneurial Technology program graduates 40 to 60 young entrepreneurs annually.
“There are mentorship and business programs for youth and adults facilitated on a monthly basis and includes everything from managing credit, getting a loan, starting a business and building self-esteem. Our workshop for young women and their parents held this past week at the Walnut Creek Wetlands was standing room only. Our partnership with Fertile Ground Food Cooperative is moving forward and is focused on developing a good cooperative model as the first step toward a network of community owned enterprises,” Linger says.
“We to date have been successful in accomplishing all of our goals as an organization. We are transparent and open and are building capacity and momentum each year. Our community members, partners and funders appreciate our voracious efforts to serve our community. We have served over 16,000 residents in Southeast Raleigh and the Greater Raleigh area this past year. Those residents are all the better in aspects of business & equity, youth development, mentorship, quality and affordable housing, transportation and quality of life as per our mission. SERA’s Board of Directors is comprised of many prestigious community leaders and support SERA’s longstanding mission, direction and productivity level,” Linger says.
Supporters of SERA and Linger have also responded.
“I want to take this opportunity to voice my opinion and STRONG recommendation of SERA as a VALUABLE Community Resource,” wrote businessperson Nazim Pasha. “They practice what they preach.”
“I want to take this opportunity to voice my opinion and STRONG recommendation of SERA as a VALUABLE Community Resource,” wrote businessperson Nazim Pasha. “They practice what they preach.”
“I am very shocked at this very short [sighted] article regarding the change of mission and impact SERA, Inc. brings to SE Raleigh and beyond,” wrote Deeanna Burleson, another SERA supporter. “Not only is SERA, Inc. meeting its initial mission of economic development, but they are accomplishing this through many avenues. Strong economic development is not about throwing money at a person or a business, but in developing the human resource (the core of economic development). By using the approach of comprehensive development of the citizens of SE Raleigh, SERA, Inc. IS strengthening [their] economic well-being.”
73-year-old Magda Yankelowitz emailed Linger, telling her she was “so sad” to see the N&O article, asking, “How can they tell such lies about SERA?”
“If it were not for you and your staff, I would never have been able to begin to launch my catering supply business. You made the connections for me, met with people for me and helped me to develop a business plan to implement my business. I have gone from being homeless to with your help to being able to begin my business.”
“Thank you and the staff so much for everything you have done to help me,” Ms. Yankelowitz concluded.
NCNAACP WANTS STATE HIGH COURT TO RELEASE REDISTRICTING DECISION NOW
Special to The Carolinian
Rev. Dr. William Barber, II, President of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, has called on the N.C. Supreme Court to release its opinion in the North Carolina redistricting cases without further delay. The cases have been pending there since plaintiffs’ appealed over a year ago and oral arguments were held on January 8, 2014. Rev. Barber said that the Court’s “failure to issue a ruling effectively bars the courthouse door to the plaintiffs and the many North Carolinians who seek a remedy from the legislature’s unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.”
U.S. Supreme Court announced a month ago that it will review a case challenging Alabama’s legislative redistricting plans which emphasizes the need for a decision from the North Carolina Supreme Court in its long pending redistricting cases. “The Alabama case raises important constitutional issues of racial gerrymandering similar to those raised by the pending challenge to North Carolina’s districts, yet the North Carolina Supreme Court has failed to issue a ruling,” said Rev. Barber. “This is an instance where justice delayed by the North Carolina Supreme Court is justice denied.” The issue in the Alabama case is whether it is constitutional to draw redistricting plans in order to achieve specific racial quotas, a central issue in the North Carolina case as well.
There was a trial in the North Carolina redistricting cases in June 2013; the trial court promptly issued its ruling on July 8, 2013. The North Carolina Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case on January 6, 2014. Yet there still is no ruling from the North Carolina Supreme Court. On May 22nd, a federal district judge in North Carolina commented on the delay by the North Carolina Supreme Court while ruling on a preliminary injunction motion in a separate North Carolina redistricting case: “we are not convinced that the North Carolina Supreme Court will issue a decision in the state litigation in a timely manner.” It therefore refused to stay the federal case to await a decision from the North Carolina Supreme Court and directed that case to proceed to trial.
In contrast to the present case, when there was a challenge to the constitutionality of legislative districts following the 2000 census, the N.C. Supreme provided effective expedited review. The Defendants in that case filed a Notice of Appeal on March 5, 2002, and in just seven weeks, on April 30, 2002 the Supreme Court decided the case and declared the plans unconstitutional. By contrast, it has now been over a year in these cases since plaintiffs gave notice of appeal and six months since the cases were argued. Reverend Barber pointed out that “the North Carolina Supreme Court has demonstrated by its prior decision that it can act quickly in redistricting matters. In the pending cases, whatever the ruling, delay is making it impossible to have a timely final resolution. The court must act now; further delay is intolerable.”
TRIANGLE NEWS BRIEFS 8-21-14
PROPOSED WCPSS STUDENT ASSIGNMENT PLANS WEAK ON PREVENTING HIGH POVERTY SCHOOLS
The first draft of the Wake County Public Schools 2015-16 student assignment plan was presented to the school board by system staff on Tuesday, and it’s designed to have students attend school near where they live without changing, shorten bus routes and better controlling school populations. Diversity through assignment, however, is not a feature, and as a result, the plan may send more low-income students to racially-isolated high poverty schools. A second draft plan is scheduled for October, with a final draft scheduled for November to be voted on by the board in December. A small number of students throughout the system will be affected, officials say.
GOV. MCCRORY APPOINTS ROGER ECHOLS NEW DURHAM D.A.
Even though Durham Chief Assistant District Attorney Roger Echols is not scheduled to officially take office as Durham D.A. until Jan. 1st, thanks to winning the May primary, Gov. Pat McCrory has decided to appoint Echols to take over Sept. 1st. Former Judge Leon Stanback has served as interim D.A since 2012, and says he’s ready to step down now, especially since he knows that Echols, who he has worked closely with, is ready to takeover. Echols is a graduate of UNC – Chapel Hill. He earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law.
“OUR YOUTH MATTERS” BREAKFAST SYMPOSIUM AUGUST 23RD
Our Youth Matters (OYM) Quarterly Breakfast Symposium for Middle/High School Students, Parents and Young Adults is scheduled for 8:30 – 11:30 a.m., Saturday, August 23, 2014 at Sheraton Raleigh Hotel, 421 S. Salisbury Street, Raleigh, NC 27601. The event will provide opportunities for attendees to learn about a myriad of available resources through small group and individual interactive sessions with business executives, educators, government officials, youth programming directors and community outreach coordinators. For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 919.522.9635.
STATE NEWS BRIEFS 8-21-14
DURHAM CITY MANAGER RESPONDS TO ALLEGED POLICE RACISM
[DURHAM] Are “racial bias and profiling present in the Durham Police Dept. practices?” After six-month investigation, that was the conclusion of the Durham Human Relations Commission after hearing testimony from citizens last May, and 34 recommendations for change were offered. This week, Durham City Manager Tom Bonifield issued his response, agreeing that Durham police officers need racial sensitivity training, citizen complaint form will be available online, and a new public affairs manager will be hired. The Durham City Council will hear more from Bonifield at tonite’s council meeting.
STATE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE RISES TO 6.5 PERCENT
[GREENSBORO] Even though the state economy is improving and jobs are being added, North Carolina’s unemployment rate went up one-tenth of one percent in July from 6.4 to 6.5 percent, according to the NC Dept. of Commerce. Almost 16,000 jobs were added in July, though, sending a confusing signal to analysts as to what is really happening. Employer surveys show that the state has added over 89,000 jobs in the past twelve months, lending to the lowering of the jobless rate from a year ago of 8.1 percent. The current national unemployment rate is 6.2 percent.
GOVERNOR APPOINTS MARK MARTIN AS NC SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE
[RALEIGH] Gov. Pat McCrory has appointed Senior Associate NC Supreme Court Justice Mark Martin as chief justice, succeeding outgoing Chief Justice Sarah Parker, who is stepping this month because she’s reached the mandatory age of 72. Justice Martin is running for reelection in the Nov. 4th elections. McCrory has called Justice Martin “a man of integrity and humility.” Martin leads the state’s High Court starting Sept. 1st.