LYNCH FINALLY SWORN-IN - Last week, after a prolonged five-month delay, The US Senate finally confirmed US Attorney Loretta Lynch to become the 83rd US Attorney General of the United States, succeeding Eric Holder. On Monday, Lynch, flanked by her father, Rev. Lorenzo Lynch Sr. and husband, Stephen Hargrove, was officially sworn-in by Vice Pres. Joe Biden. AG Lynch, a North Carolina native born in Greensboro and raised in Durham, is the first black woman to serve in the post. [ Photo courtesy US Dept. of Justice]
CHAVIS SAYS BALTIMORE
COMMUNITY MUST UNIFY FOR JUSTICE
By Cash Michaels
He’s seen it many times before.
Black youth, angered by police abuse and racial injustice, peacefully taking to the streets to express their outrage, only later to have that devolve in violence and destruction.
Indeed, this veteran civil rights activist was unjustly sentenced to prison in North Carolina because the powers-that-be wanted to hold him responsible for the firebombing of a white-owned grocery store during the height of the Wilmington race riots in February 1971.
And that’s why, for Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., president of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, and leader of what infamously became known as “The Wilmington Ten,” the wrenching events in Baltimore, Md. this week are all too familiar, and sad.
Thanks to years of police abuse and oppression, magnified by the decades-long negligence of city and state leaders to rebuild Baltimore’s African-American community after the tumultuous 1968 riots that ravaged neighborhoods, Baltimore exploded Monday as hundreds of high school students, later joined by adults, attacked the police, looted and burned local businesses, and even torched a new $16 million senior living facility.
What did not get as much attention were the numerous peaceful demonstrations that had been held there previous to Monday’s tumult.
As many protestors later expressed to the media, they were frustrated not only by the imposed impoverished conditions they’ve had to endure all of their lives, but the perceived slow injustice in the wake of the fatal alleged police abuse of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Baltimore man who died from severe injuries while in police custody after he was arrested on April 12th.
Over two weeks later, Baltimore Police officials have not been able to fully explain why Gray was even arrested, or how his spleen was severely ruptured once police made contact with him, dragged him to a police van, and transported him to jail. Gray eventually was taken to the hospital, where he died a week later of injuries his family’s attorneys charge six Baltimore police officers are directly responsible for.
No less than four investigations are underway, including one by new US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who called the rioting “senseless.”
Pres. Obama echoed that sentiment, but added that police officers must be held accountable for the numerous instances of alleged abuse that have come to greater light thanks to social media and the ready availability of citizen video.
A police report on the Freddie Gray case is expected to be handed over to a Maryland state investigator on Friday, but anxious Baltimore citizens are also expecting to get a full accounting of exactly what happened as well.
If that doesn’t happen, many observers fear that Baltimore could see a recurrence of the violence and destruction that gripped the west side of the city after Gray’s funeral Monday.
Since Tuesday, Baltimore has been in relative peace, with community leaders coming out to call for order, and begin the cleanup process in aftermath of the riots.
According to Dr. Chavis, the way forward, regardless of the police report on the Freddie Gray death, must be one of young and old working together to become an even stronger, and more vital community.
That did not happen in Wilmington when he was called to come in February 1971 to assist black students who had boycotted the New Hanover County Public Schools because racial violence perpetrated against them by white students, teachers and administrators.
“The continuing drama in Baltimore, Md. today is reminiscent of what happened in Wilmington, NC in 1971,” Dr. Chavis told The Carolinian in a exclusive phone interview Wednesday from Detroit.
Chavis went on to say that young people today, just like in Wilmington over 40 years ago, were becoming more outspoken because of the continuing series of police abuse cases that have permeated the media over the past several months – from Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and Eric Garner in Staten Island, NY to Walter Scott in North Charleston, NC and now Freddie Gray in Baltimore.
“I believe what is going on in Baltimore is symptomatic of what’s going on across the country,” Chavis added. “If not for video, we would not know how to demand justice for [the victims].”
Noting the dreaded conditions that African-Americans have to live in in places like Ferguson and West Baltimore, Chavis said, “Poverty and injustice, particularly when it’s longstanding, gives rise to uprisings and unrest.”
When Rev. Chavis counseled the black student boycotters in their quest to demonstrate against the racist white Wilmington power structure at the time, he taught them to do so employing Dr. Martin Luther King’s philosophy of militant nonviolent confrontation.
He says he hopes that now that the destructive nature of violence to the community has become evident, that the young people in Baltimore will also learn, and then adopt the same nonviolent, civil disobedience character and principle in their movement for justice.
“When we speak out and stand up, it is very important that the people control the narrative,” Dr. Chavis continued, “and not allow the perpetrators of violence to control the narrative.”
The NNPA president said it would be a “tragic error” if Baltimore city leaders were not “transparent” in releasing their report on the Freddie Gray incident when promised on Friday, May 1.
“Truth is always…therapeutic,” he said.
What is ultimately important, beyond bringing about the justice and equality that demonstrators seek as they challenge police abuse and social injustice, is making sure that the deaths of Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner and other victims “…are not in vain,” meaning that young people’s movement must remain nonviolent and strategic in order to bring about the best results.
And while there seems to be friction between today’s youth leaders and established civil rights leaders like Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jessie Jackson, Dr. Chavis says the community is strongest when young people realize that older leaders have the experience and wisdom to help navigate their movement, while those older leaders must realize that young people have the energy, focus and passion to get the job done.
That is the key to the way forward for Baltimore, and other communities across the nation that are mobilizing to bring about positive social change, says Dr. Chavis.
“There will be no peace in Baltimore until there’s justice,” Chavis says.
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S REMARKS REGARDING POLICE ABUSE AND THE BALTIMORE RIOTS
[Editor’s note - During a joint press conference in the White House Rose Garden Tuesday with Japanese Prime Minister Abe, President Barack Obama, in response to a reporter’s question about the recent series of alleged police shootings and the v violence in Baltimore in the wake of the Freddie Gray alleged police abuse case, said the following:]
With respect to Baltimore, let me make a couple of points. First, obviously our thoughts continue to be with the family of Freddie Gray. Understandably, they want answers. And DOJ has opened an investigation. It is working with local law enforcement to find out exactly what happened, and I think there should be full transparency and accountability.
Second, my thoughts are with the police officers who were injured in last night’s disturbances. It underscores that that’s a tough job and we have to keep that in mind, and my hope is that they can heal and get back to work as soon as possible.
Point number three, there’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday. It is counterproductive. When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting, they’re not making a statement -- they’re stealing. When they burn down a building, they’re committing arson. And they’re destroying and undermining businesses and opportunities in their own communities that rob jobs and opportunity from people in that area.
So it is entirely appropriate that the mayor of Baltimore, who I spoke to yesterday, and the governor, who I spoke to yesterday, work to stop that kind of senseless violence and destruction. That is not a protest. That is not a statement. It’s people -- a handful of people taking advantage of a situation for their own purposes, and they need to be treated as criminals.
Point number four, the violence that happened yesterday distracted from the fact that you had seen multiple days of peaceful protests that were focused on entirely legitimate concerns of these communities in Baltimore, led by clergy and community leaders. And they were constructive and they were thoughtful, and frankly, didn’t get that much attention. And one burning building will be looped on television over and over and over again, and the thousands of demonstrators who did it the right way I think have been lost in the discussion.
The overwhelming majority of the community in Baltimore I think have handled this appropriately, expressing real concern and outrage over the possibility that our laws were not applied evenly in the case of Mr. Gray, and that accountability needs to exist. And I think we have to give them credit. My understanding is, is you’ve got some of the same organizers now going back into these communities to try to clean up in the aftermath of a handful of criminals and thugs who tore up the place. What they were doing, what those community leaders and clergy and others were doing, that is a statement. That’s the kind of organizing that needs to take place if we’re going to tackle this problem. And they deserve credit for it, and we should be lifting them up.
Point number five -- and I’ve got six, because this is important. Since Ferguson, and the task force that we put together, we have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals -- primarily African American, often poor -- in ways that have raised troubling questions. And it comes up, it seems like, once a week now, or once every couple of weeks. And so I think it’s pretty understandable why the leaders of civil rights organizations but, more importantly, moms and dads across the country, might start saying this is a crisis. What I’d say is this has been a slow-rolling crisis. This has been going on for a long time. This is not new, and we shouldn’t pretend that it’s new.
The good news is, is that perhaps there’s some newfound awareness because of social media and video cameras and so forth that there are problems and challenges when it comes to how policing and our laws are applied in certain communities, and we have to pay attention to it and respond.
What’s also good news is the task force that was made up of law enforcement and community activists that we brought together here in the White House have come up with very constructive concrete proposals that, if adopted by local communities and by states and by counties, by law enforcement generally, would make a difference. It wouldn’t solve every problem, but would make a concrete difference in rebuilding trust and making sure that the overwhelming majority of effective, honest and fair law enforcement officers, that they're able to do their job better because it will weed out or retrain or put a stop to those handful who may be not doing what they're supposed to be doing.
Now, the challenge for us as the federal government is, is that we don't run these police forces. I can't federalize every police force in the country and force them to retrain. But what I can do is to start working with them collaboratively so that they can begin this process of change themselves.
And coming out of the task force that we put together, we're now working with local communities. The Department of Justice has just announced a grant program for those jurisdictions that want to purchase body cameras. We are going to be issuing grants for those jurisdictions that are prepared to start trying to implement some of the new training and data collection and other things that can make a difference. And we're going to keep on working with those local jurisdictions so that they can begin to make the changes that are necessary.
I think it’s going to be important for organizations like the Fraternal Order of Police and other police unions and organization to acknowledge that this is not good for police. We have to own up to the fact that occasionally there are going to be problems here, just as there are in every other occupation. There are some bad politicians who are corrupt. There are folks in the business community or on Wall Street who don't do the right thing. Well, there’s some police who aren’t doing the right thing. And rather than close ranks, what we’ve seen is a number of thoughtful police chiefs and commissioners and others recognize they got to get their arms around this thing and work together with the community to solve the problem. And we're committed to facilitating that process.
So the heads of our COPS agency that helps with community policing, they're already out in Baltimore. Our Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division is already out in Baltimore. But we're going to be working systematically with every city and jurisdiction around the country to try to help them implement some solutions that we know work.
And I’ll make my final point -- I’m sorry, Mr. Prime Minister, but this is a pretty important issue for us.
We can't just leave this to the police. I think there are police departments that have to do some soul searching. I think there are some communities that have to do some soul searching. But I think we, as a country, have to do some soul searching. This is not new. It’s been going on for decades.
And without making any excuses for criminal activities that take place in these communities, what we also know is that if you have impoverished communities that have been stripped away of opportunity, where children are born into abject poverty; they’ve got parents -- often because of substance-abuse problems or incarceration or lack of education themselves -- can't do right by their kids; if it’s more likely that those kids end up in jail or dead, than they go to college. In communities where there are no fathers who can provide guidance to young men; communities where there’s no investment, and manufacturing has been stripped away; and drugs have flooded the community, and the drug industry ends up being the primary employer for a whole lot of folks -- in those environments, if we think that we're just going to send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there without as a nation and as a society saying what can we do to change those communities, to help lift up those communities and give those kids opportunity, then we're not going to solve this problem. And we’ll go through the same cycles of periodic conflicts between the police and communities and the occasional riots in the streets, and everybody will feign concern until it goes away, and then we go about our business as usual.
If we are serious about solving this problem, then we're going to not only have to help the police, we're going to have to think about what can we do -- the rest of us -- to make sure that we're providing early education to these kids; to make sure that we're reforming our criminal justice system so it’s not just a pipeline from schools to prisons; so that we're not rendering men in these communities unemployable because of a felony record for a nonviolent drug offense; that we're making investments so that they can get the training they need to find jobs. That's hard. That requires more than just the occasional news report or task force. And there’s a bunch of my agenda that would make a difference right now in that.
Now, I’m under no illusion that out of this Congress we're going to get massive investments in urban communities, and so we’ll try to find areas where we can make a difference around school reform and around job training, and around some investments in infrastructure in these communities trying to attract new businesses in.
But if we really want to solve the problem, if our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could. It’s just it would require everybody saying this is important, this is significant -- and that we don't just pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns, and we don't just pay attention when a young man gets shot or has his spine snapped. We're paying attention all the time because we consider those kids our kids, and we think they're important. And they shouldn’t be living in poverty and violence.
That's how I feel. I think there are a lot of good-meaning people around the country that feel that way. But that kind of political mobilization I think we haven’t seen in quite some time. And what I’ve tried to do is to promote those ideas that would make a difference. But I think we all understand that the politics of that are tough because it’s easy to ignore those problems or to treat them just as a law and order issue, as opposed to a broader social issue.
That was a really long answer, but I felt pretty strongly about it.
STATE NEWS BRIEFS 4-30-15
MORAL MONDAY MOVEMENT CELBRATES SECOND ANNIVERSARY
[RALEIGH] APRIL 29TH was the second anniversary of the Moral Monday Movement, the NCNAACP-led massive demonstrations at the NC General Assembly to protest what organizers call the “repressive” policies of the Republican majority there. Almost 1,000 people were arrested during those protests. This week, led by NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber, demonstrators from across the state were back at Jones Street to pray, and demand an expansion of Medicaid for the poor, and an elimination of restrictions on voting, among other issues.
STATE HOUSE SEEKS TO CHANGE EXECUTION MEDICAL MANDATE
[RALEIGH] Members of the state House are working to remove the requirement that a doctor be present at executions to monitor a prisoner’s vital signs, and then legally declare him dead. North Carolina has not been able to carry out executions since 2006 because the State Medical Board has refused to allow doctors participate in executions. A proposed bill will allow any “medical professional, ” including any licensed physician assistant or paramedic, to take the place of a medical doctor during an execution, though a doctor would still have to legally certify that the inmate is dead. Critics say the bill is flawed because in cases of a botched execution procedure, a doctor would not be present.
ADVOCATES CONTINUE PUSH FOR ANTI-POLICE BRUTALITY BILL
[RALEIGH] In the wake of growing controversies involving alleged instances of police brutality across the nation, advocates for a North Carolina bill that, if passed, would require more training against racial profiling by law enforcement, more civilian complaint review boards, and better data collection from officers in the event of a police shooting, pushed for its passage again this week. Republican opponents counter that North Carolina already has enough laws on the books to prevent racial profiling, but bill sponsor Rep. Rodney Moore [D- Mecklenburg] disagrees, saying that North Carolina needs to do more to hold its law enforcement officers accountable.
TRIANGLE NEWS BRIEFS 4-30-15
RALEIGH CITY COUNCIL APPROVES DORTOHEA DIX DEAL
Amid controversy, the Raleigh City Council last week unanimously approved the $52 million deal with the state for the Dorothea Dix Hospital campus. The city hopes to turn the 308-acre property into a destination park. Approximately 109-acres will be leased back to the state for 10-25 years for the state Dept. of Health and Human Services can continue to occupy its facility there. The NC Senate this week decided to drop its bill opposing the deal.
RALEIGH CHARTER HIGH SCHOOL RATED TOPS BY WASHINGTON POST LIST
The top North Carolina high school on the Washington Post 2015 list of America’s Most Challenging High Schools is the Raleigh Charter High School, which ranked number 119 out of 2300 high schools across the nation. Twenty-two public and private high schools in the Triangle area made the WP list. Other schools included East Chapel Hill School (#3 in the state) and Woods Charter School in Chatham County (#4). Enloe High School in Raleigh was sixth in North Carolina.
WORKERS MARCH REMEMBERS CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENT
Activists marched from the site of a fatal Raleigh construction accident this week to commemorate the three construction workers who died, but the many workers statewide killed on the job in North Carolina. Approximately 109 people were killed on the job in 2013. Marchers say Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry isn’t serving the state’s workers well. Groups sponsoring the march included the AFL-CIO, the NC Council of Churches, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee and the NC Justice Center, among others.
CASH IN THE APPLE 4-30-15
By Cash Michaels
LET’S CELEBRATE WLLE AGAIN - OK, spread (share) the word WLLE fans...BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND...mark your calendars for this Saturday, May 2nd, 2:30 p.m. at Olivia Rainey Library, 4016 Carya Drive (off Poole Road) in Southeast Raleigh...once again we celebrate the legacy of 570 WLLE ("WiLLiE") Radio, featuring the now updated documentary "WLLE: The Voice of the Community" starring radio legends "CD" Chester Davis, Sweet Bob Rogers, J. Willie Moore, Bro. James Thomas, Mrs. Margaret Rose Murray, Frank Roberts, Jimmy "JJ's House Party" Johnson and a special tribute to Ray "Dr. Jocko" Henderson. PLUS, we'll hear from loyal WLLE listeners like YOU! It's FREE and open to the public, So spread the word and MARK THE DATE...Saturday, May 2nd, 2015...2:30 p.m. at the Olivia Rainey Library, 4016 Carya Drive (off Poole Road) in Southeast Raleigh! ALL WiLLiE listeners are welcome to come, remember and celebrate!
TENSION – Talk about a news-filled week! It actually all started Monday with the both the swearing –in of North Carolina native Loretta Lynch as the nation’s newest US Attorney General at exactly the same time that alleged police abuse victim Freddie Gray was being funeralized at a Baltimore church.
And then, later, our television screens showed young people in Baltimore taking to the streets, throwing rocks at police officers in riot gear, and looting local businesses. It wasn’t long before we also saw cars and buildings set on fire, with gangs of young people running the streets, looking for more trouble.
But if you ignored the predictable media hysteria Monday, you also saw leaders in the West Baltimore community also take to the streets to stop the violence and destruction. They stood in front of small businesses, waving marauding young people away. Ministers marched, and asked young people to put down their rocks and stones.
Unfortunately, the fires that claimed a CVS Pharmacy, and tragically, a senior citizen retirement center still under construction, along with images of armies of police officers in riot gear and firefighters rushing from one blaze to another, took over for the rest of the evening.
When daylight came Tuesday, yes, we saw the destruction in the aftermath, and the tears of those who worked for years to build their community.
But we also saw the heart of the Baltimore community – the longtime residents – who came out with brooms and shovels to clean up and get their neighborhoods back in shape. These were people who have always loved Baltimore, and were determined to start the healing process immediately.
GOD bless them.
And while those people were slowly but surely starting the healing process, the president of the United States weighed in, saying that while he certainly doesn’t condone criminal destruction, he also doesn’t condone how politicians have ignored the vital needs that the impoverished have experienced in communities across the nation, needs that have gone unanswered and have led to despair and lack of opportunities.
But the news didn’t stop there. At the US Supreme Court, the justices were listening to arguments on why same-sex marriages should be made legal across the nation. Historic for sure.
So that was just Monday and Tuesday of this week. Events that we had to pay attention to because they shaped our world. What will they ultimately mean?
Only time will tell.
MOM OF THE YEAR? – Everyone is applauding that apparent mother in Baltimore seen grabbing her hooded son whom she saw throwing rocks at police, and repeatedly hitting him in front of news cameras. They see it as a parent taking control of her wayward kid, and letting him know who’s boss. And they say it’s about time.
I agree with them, and I agree with anyone who says more parents should be taking stronger control of their kids.
Even the police commissioner commended “super mom” for publicly disciplining her child. He told reporters that more of Baltimore’s parents should be doing the same thing.
Here’s the problem. If that woman had been seen hitting her son in public the week before, that same police commissioner would have had her arrested.
Here’s the problem. If that woman had been seen hitting her son in public the week before, that same police commissioner would have had her arrested.
I also find it funny that he’s telling parents to control their children, and he can’t even control his grown officers from abusing innocent citizens. So there was a lot of hypocrisy on tap in Baltimore this week.
A lot of hypocrisy.
A lot of hypocrisy.
THE MEDIA – I applaud the citizens of Baltimore for making sure that the media got the correct story the day after the riots, a story of a proud community who wanted to send a message to the world that they will rebuild their community. Why is this important? Because the media coverage has certainly contributed to the violence and destruction in Baltimore. You had news anchor using the terms “thugs” and “criminals” during their coverage, not once bothering to use their time to find out what the true source of tension for the violence was. That’s irresponsible, but of course, these folks are in the business for ratings, not journalism or clarity.
This week was not a proud week for the media. One can only hope they’ll do better.
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.waug-network.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.