CASH IN THE APPLE FOR 08-31-16
By Cash Michaels
WHAT YOU STAND FOR - Up until Monday morning when I was asked to comment on the Colin Kaepernick controversy, I was familiar with the story in passing. A black NFL superstar quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, who for the pass several exhibition games, has refused to stand with the rest of the stadium in honor and respect for the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, our national anthem.
Needless to say, when a multi-million dollar star athlete refuses to join the rest of his countrymen in paying tribute to the nation that has given him the opportunity to be rich beyond anyone’s dreams, that’s going to make news, and it has.
Just like Colin Kaepernick wanted it to.
By now you’re very familiar with argument against what Kaepernick is doing. As an American citizen of some privilege, CK has the gall to disrespect the very symbols of American freedom others fought and died for. This country has always prided itself for standing for freedom no matter what trials and tribulations it was going through…including slavery.
Being an American was, and is, many maintain, the greatest blessing any human being can be bestowed with, because no other country in the history of man has been a beacon of freedom, justice and opportunity as American has been. Home of the greatest military fighting force in history, home of the greatest democracy ever, home of where, with hard work and sacrifice, an individual’s dreams can come true.
How dare Colin Kaepernick turn his back on America, refuse to bow down to its greatness and blessings. He should be punished, CK’s critics insist. He should be made to understand how selfish and unjust he’s being.
But all of that brings us to the other side of the argument…the side Kaepernick says he represents.
CK says he hasn’t “turned his back” on America, on his country, but rather his country has turned its back on him and people like him.
True, America is the “land of promise,” but CK says his country is not living up to its promise of freedom, justice and equality when black people are being shot down in the street like dogs by police officers, and our criminal justice system little to hold them accountable.
CK says its hard to honor America’s promise, when the nation routinely refers to its citizens of color as less than all other citizens, by calling them “minorities”
The word “minority” has only one meaning – less than. Black, yellow and brown American citizens are just that – American citizens, and nothing less. So why is it acceptable to routinely remind everyone that there are less of them, and more of whites, if everyone is a full citizen deserving of equal rights and protection?
And CK says despite lots of lip service about how blacks and Latinos have a fair chance of achievement and accomplishment in American society, then why do many still find it almost impossible to find meaningful employment, or assistance in opening small businesses?
Yes, refusing to stand in solemn silence is a slap in the face to other Americans, but allowing one group of Americans to pass laws to deliberately deny another group of Americans their right to vote and fully participate in this nation’s democracy is also a slap in the face….to all Americans, and should not be so readily accepted.
Colin Kaepernick says if his silent protest and high visibility brings attention to these hypocrisies, then so be it. He’s willing to take his punishment, just like Muhammad Ali did when he gave up his championship title after refusing to serve in the US Army, or when Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood strong with their Black Power salutes at the 1968 Olympics.
CK is making us think….what is the value of citizenship if the same Americans who insist on standing at attention for the pledge and national anthem out of respect for our war dead and ideals of freedom, conveniently ignore the indignities and injustices burdened by other Americans, just they’re “minorities” and don’t have the privileges of the majority.
And for the record, CK is free to express his concerns in the peaceful manner that he chooses.
Afterall, Colin Kaepernick is an American.
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.
WOULD BLACKS BENEFIT FROM
NONPARTISAN VOTING MAP?
By Cash Michaels
On Monday, several retired state Supreme Court justices and judges – co-led by former Chief Justice Henry Frye of Greensboro - along with the nonpartisan advocacy group, Common Cause, released their simulated version of what a nonpartisan Congressional map of North Carolina could look like if state lawmakers stopped using redistricting for partisan advantage.
The result – the 13 congressional districts were fairer, and more competitive.
In the simulation, Mecklenburg constitutes the 13th District. In the latest legislative rendering, Mecklenburg is the Twelfth.
If state lawmakers employed the nonpartisan approach to redrawing all thirteen voting districts for 2020, when the next redistricting is scheduled, not only would NC’s congressional districts be constitutional, but African-American voters would still be able to elect black representation to Congress not only from the First and Thirteenth Districts (which are covered by the 1965 Voting Rights Act), but possibly also the Fourth District as well, says Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause.
And that’s because all three congressional districts, which would be predominately Democratic, would produce black-white coalitions of voters that could readily elect an African-American to Congress.
It could be done, Phillips says, if the state legislature would adopt a nonpartisan redistricting commission to draw the maps. Members of both parties have expressed interest in establishing such a panel in the past, but the lure of controlling the redistricting process exclusively for partisan goals has always won out in the end.
Several weeks ago, the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the 2011 NC Congressional maps, drawn by the Republican-led NC General Assembly, to be unconstitutional because the First and Twelfth districts were drawn to “stack and pack” black voters, meaning that they were moved out of swing districts in order to give white Republicans a better chance of winning close races with white Democrats.
In doing so, Republicans were able to dominate the North Carolina Congressional delegation 10 – 3 over Democrats, with Rep. G. K. Butterfield in the First, Rep. Alma Adams in the Twelfth, and Congressman David Price in the Fourth.
Because of the appellate court ruling, the March congressional primaries had to be postponed until June with no runoff races while the legislature redrew the maps supposedly to ignore race, instead putting a premium on Republican partisanship, maintaining the 10 to 3 congressional ratio.
The 2016 map has also been challenged, but will stand until the federal courts say otherwise, if they do.
According to Phillips, the First, Thirteenth and possibly the Fourth are drawn to be Voting Rights Act [VRA] compliant in the new simulated nonpartisan map. Black Democratic voters in those districts control the primary process.
In the First District, black voters are 42 percent; the Thirteenth blacks are over 34 percent, and in the Fourth, blacks are over 31 percent.
Coalition voting is feasible in these areas, as proven historically elsewhere prior to the 2011 redistricting by the re-election of Sen. Dan Blue in Wake County and Sen. Floyd McKissick Jr. in Durham.
In the simulated version, because of how people are clustered across the state, says Phillips, there are several congressional districts that are decidedly Democratic, some that are predominately Republican, and possibly a handful that are considered tossups, meaning candidates from either party could win.
“At least that would be map that is more in line with where we are as a state,” says Phillips.
Instead lopsided congressional delegations like 10-3, congressional elections could easily produce more even results like 7-6. But again, state lawmakers would have to commit to establishing a nonpartisan redistricting commission.
Phillips says the next step is to continue to educate the public about the possibilities of nonpartisan redistricting, so various sessions will be held across the state, in hopes of convincing lawmakers that this is something North Carolinians want.
Republicans may pay more attention, says Phillips, especially if Democrats this fall successfully make considerable election gains in the state House and Senate, not to mention other key offices. The GOP may not want to be targeted by Democrats, Phillips says, the way Republicans targeted them when the 2020 redistricting rolls around.
PETITION TO REOPEN
LENNON LACY CASE
by Cash Michaels
Two months after the Federal Bureau of Investigation closed its probe of the Lennon Lacy hanging case, the latest in a series of online petitions is being circulated to reopen the investigation.
A group called “Tools for Change” started the petition earlier this week, saying that Lacy’s family deserves answers. Thus far, approximately 500 people have signed the online petition (https://www.change.org/p/fbi-reopen-the-investigation-in-the-death-of-lennon-lacy). It is the latest seeking support since the case was closed.
Lacy was a 17-year-old black youth whose body was suspiciously found hanging from an outdoor swing set August 29, 2014 in the Bladen County town of Bladenboro. According to family members, he was last seen the night before in good spirits because his high school football team was to begin its season the following day.
But when Lacy’s body as found, he was not wearing his sneakers, but someone else’s. Many people point to that fact as proof that the young man was murdered, and did not commit suicide as local police, and eventually the FBI maintained.
The NC NAACP joined with Lennon Lacy’s family in demanding that the Bladen County District Attorney investigate, and by December 2014, the FBI took over the probe after the US Attorney’s Office agreed to step in and make it a federal civil rights case.
But in June 2016, th FBI advised Lacy’s family that their investigation was completed, and they could find no new evidence to contradict earlier findings that the teen’s death was a suicide.
According to the petition, there are several unanswered questions in the case that deserve another look. They are:
1. It took investigators less than five hours from the discovery of the body to decide there was ‘no evidence of foul play’ and the cause of death seemed like a suicide. Four days later Lennon's death was officially ruled as a suicide although there was no suicide note and his family and friends described him as being excited about life.
Question: What was the criteria used for the quick rulings of no foul play involved and cause of death was suicide?
2. The shoes found on his feet at the scene were a size-and-a-half too small. There were no laces and the shoes didn’t belong to him. The Coroner placed the shoes in the body bag but the shoes were missing when the body was brought to the Medical Examiner's office
Questions: What happened to the shoes? Who did the shoes belong to?
3. The two belts used to create the noose didn't belong to Lennon. Lennon was wearing sweatpants with elastic so he didn't need belts.
Question: Who did the belts belong to?
4. There was no evidence found at the scene of anything Lennon could have used to kick away in order to hang himself. There was no swing to act as a step to reach the beams. He would have had to jump 21 inches off the ground, placing his head in the noose during the jump if he didn’t use something to kick away.
Question: What were the mechanics used to accomplish this self-inflicted hanging?
5. Question: Why did the investigators refuse to let County Coroner Hubert Kinlaw photograph the scene and threatened to confiscate his camera if he tried to take photos?
6. Question: Why was Lennon’s hands not bagged to preserve evidence?
7. Questions: Why was no DNA collected from items found on Lennon but not belonging to him? Why was there no DNA collected from under his nails?
8. Question: Why didn’t the local police come to the house, search Lennon’s room, look at his phone, inquire about the clothes he was wearing, the sneakers found on his body or the belts used for the noose during the four days between the discovery of the body and the conclusion of suicide?
9. A lady cutting grass discovered Lennon’s body and called 911. She took the body down from the noose although there were no secondary cuts found on the belts.
Questions: How did a 52 year old woman of small frame get Lennon down? Did she untie the noose or cut it? How was she able to hold the cell phone in her hand, talk to the dispatcher and manage to take down a male who stood 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighed 209 pounds? Why did she tell the dispatcher it was a suicide?
10. Undertaker stated it seemed as if Lennon had been in a terrible fight and his body badly beaten with facial indentations over both cheeks.
Question: Did investigators look into the undertaker’s concerns about Lennon being beaten the night before the hanging?
11. Lennon’s mother smelled bleach on him when identifying his body. A lady of interest to the family, concerning Lennon’s death, was on videotape nervously buying large quantities of bleach at a convenience store around 1:00am on August 28th, 2014. It was also reported by witnesses and social media postings Lennon had been at the home of this lady late in the evening before the hanging.
Question: Why was the lady never questioned in the death of Lennon Lacy?
12. The son of the lady who reportedly brought the bleach told investigators Lennon had planned on killing himself by suicide. The male also stated he was best friends to Lennon. The home of the woman and her son was never searched although the Lennon family had been suspicious of them from the beginning. The mobile home has since been removed.
Questions: Why didn’t the best friend who didn’t attend the funeral report that Lennon was planning on hanging himself to authorities or Lennon’s family? Why was he with Lennon the night before?
13. Questions: Who was the person allegedly arrested for desecrating Lennon’s grave after his burial? How come there is no arrest report pertaining to the crime?
14. Question: What happened to the new pair of Jordan sneakers Lennon was wearing when his family last saw him late on the night of August 28th?
15. Lennon’s girlfriend, a 31 year old Caucasian woman, has publicly stated she had been warned about seeing Lennon. The man who warned her was boyfriend to the woman who brought the bleach and stepfather to the allegedly best friend who said Lennon was planning on killing himself. They all lived together in the trailer behind Lennon’s home. One of the leading investigators on the scene during the morning of the hanging is cousin to the man who told Lennon's girlfriend to stop seeing him.
Questions: How come the man was never questioned? Why was the trailer Lennon was at the night before the hanging never searched? Why has the trailer been moved? Where is the trailer home now?
There has been no indication by federal, state or local authorities that they intend to reopen the Lennon Lacy case, unless compelling new evidence is determined.
KAINE HAILS NC VICTORY
AGAINST VOTER ID
By Cash Michaels
If there was any doubt about the importance of North Carolina as a battleground state in the upcoming presidential election, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) has come here to put all doubts to rest.
Not only has the state changed demographically since the 2012 presidential contest that saw Pres. Barack Obama lose by just 100,000 votes to Republican challenger Mitt Romney, but Sen. Kaine, the vice presidential running mate with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, made it very clear recently in an exclusive interview that the campaign is paying very close attention to the recent US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling striking down North Carolina’s voter photo identification law, which the three-judge panel made clear in its ruling was geared by GOP lawmakers to suppress the African-American vote.
Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has petitioned the US Supreme Court to stay the appellate ruling and allow voter ID to be reinstated for the November general elections. During their many visits to the state, both GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (who as in Winston-Salem Tuesday) have come out in favor of voter ID.
Right after the appellate ruling, Sen. Kaine, who visited Asheville, Fayetteville and Greensboro earlier this month, said given his 17-year experience as a civil rights attorney in Virginia and year as a Jesuit missionary under the military dictatorship in Honduras, he was very sensitive to the voting rights struggles of African-Americans in North Carolina.
During the interview, it was clear Kaine has been following North Carolina’s voter ID case very closely.
“The thing that is very disturbing in North Carolina and in many states is this concerted effort, especially since Pres. Obama was elected in 2008, to really curtail [black voter] participation, whether its erecting new challenges with respect to IDs, or making it harder to register [to vote], reducing early voting,…when you see these things happen, it’s tragic.”
Sen. Kaine, who has litigated voting rights cases, was impressed with the appellate court’s unusual North Carolina ruling.
“When you get a court to declare its striking down voting restrictions because there was an intentional effort “with surgical precision” to put up barriers [to voting] in front of African-Americans, that is such a rare factual finding by a court. In this case, they made a finding that it was intentional discrimination.”
Sen. Kaine said he’s been telling North Carolina audiences “…if anybody tells you your vote doesn’t matter, you should tell them, “it sure matters to the other side.” A lot of folks are working hard to make it harder for you to vote. Please value your own vote as much as somebody else values trying to stop you.”
When asked why he feels there is a clear choice between Clinton/Kaine versus Trump/Pence, Sen. Kaine says he boils it down to three questions – 1) In terms of the economy, do Americans want a “You’re hired president” or a “You’re fired president” when it comes to who has the better plan to grow the economy and create 300,000 more jobs in North Carolina; 2) On the international front, “do you want a trash-talker or bridge-builder?” Clinton, as a former secretary of State and diplomat, already knows how to build alliances with foreign leaders.
“Trump is trash-talking everybody but [Russian Pres. Vladimir] Putin,” Sen. Kaine maintained, noting the only foreign leader the Republican president speaks highly of
Finally, Kaine says character is also a deciding factor between Trump and Clinton. “Do you want a kids-and-family first president, or a “me first president?” Kaine asks rhetorically, noting that Clinton has been involved with children and family issues long before she entered public life, while during his business career, Donald Trump has rarely identified himself with a family cause or issue.
The first of three presidential debates is Monday, Sept. 26th, followed on Tuesday, Oct. 4th by the only vice-presidential debate between Sen. Kaine and Gov. Pence. Each debate is scheduled to be carried live by the four major broadcast networks, PBS, C-SPAN and the three major cable news outlets.