Colorlines

NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

Black St. Louis Cops Issue Statement, Stand by Rams

Black St. Louis Cops Issue Statement, Stand by Rams

A group representing St. Louis’ black police officers issued a statement this Monday* standing by five Rams players who entered Sunday’s NFL football game doing “hands up, don’t shoot,” widely perceived as a gesture of support for Ferguson protesters. The African-American group’s support directly contradicts that of the St. Louis Police Officers Association, which issued its own public statement against the Rams and has raised significant financial support for former officer Darren Wilson. The statement appears on the Facebook page of the Ethical Society of Police, which describes itself as “the primary voice of African American Police Officers in St. Louis City,” and according to its Web site, dates its founding to at least 1968. Their statement reads in full: 

ST. LOUIS CITY AFRICAN AMERICAN POLICE OFFICERS SUPPORT THE RAMS PLAYERS ACTIONS 

The Statements of the St. Louis Police Officers Association does not represent the opinion of a majority of African American Officers. 

General Counsel, Attorney Gloria McCollum, on behalf of THE ETHICAL SOCIETY OF POLICE- St. Louis, STATES: 

“THE ETHICAL SOCIETY OF POLICE, is the primary voice of African
American Police Officers in St. Louis City, and as such it COMPLETELY SUPPORTS THE ACTIONS OF THE ST. LOUIS RAMS FOOTBALL PLAYERS IN WHICH THEY SHOWED SUPPORT FOR THE FAMILY OF MICHAEL BROWN BY ENTERING THE STADIUM WITH THEIR HANDS UP.

We think that their actions were commendable and that they should not be ridiculed, disciplined or punished for taking a stand on this very important issue which is of great concern around the world and especially in the community where these players work. 

THE STATEMENTS OF THE ST. LOUIS POLICE OFFICERS 
ASSOCIATION DO NOT REFLECT THE OPINIONS OF THE MAJORITY OF AFRICAN AMERICAN POLICE OFFICERS IN THE DEPARTMENT BECAUSE THERE ARE NO AFRICAN AMERICAN OFFICERS ON THEIR GOVERNING BOARD AND THEY HAVE A MINIMAL AMOUNT OF AFRICAN AMERICAN MEMBERS. 

The Ethical Society of Police has been the primary bridge between African American community and the police department for many years. The Ethical Society will use its best efforts to continue to work with the community leaders and the Department of Justice to address issues that affect our community such as racial profiling, police brutality and disparities in hiring and disciplining practices of African American Officers. 

GLORIA J. MCCOLLUM, General Counsel for the Ethical Society of Police, - St. Louis, Misouri

 

*Post has been updated since publication to correct that the statement issue date was Monday, December 1, not Tuesday, December 2.

What Does it Feel Like to be a Black Mother During Ferguson?

What Does it Feel Like to be a Black Mother During Ferguson?

In a powerful essay over at Bustle, Mikki Kendall breaks down what it feels like to be a mother in the precarious minutes, hours, days and months between the time when Darren Wilson shot and killed Mike Brown and now—after a St. Louis grand jury declined to indict Wilson.

Here’s a snippet:

“In other words, you do everything you can to help bring this crisis to public attention because, while you’re waiting for justice for one mother’s baby, you have to keep your hands busy and that might as well be doing the work of trying to make the world see how violently threatened all of our Black babies are. And that’s really what it feels like to be a Black mother at this moment in America: Complete terror at knowing the real vulnerability our kids face simply by existing, pressing urgency to do what we can to illuminate and solve the conditions that create that threat, and desperate outrage when justice isn’t doled out fairly.”

You can read Kendall’s entire essay over at Bustle.  

Chicago Approves New Minimum Wage: $13-an-Hour

Chicago Approves New Minimum Wage: $13-an-Hour

Just in time for the two-year anniversary of the fast-food workers’ Fight for $15 campaign, Chicago yesterday adopted a higher minimum wage. The city’s new $13-an-hour wage floor is expected to be phased in by 2019 and comes less than a month after nearly 70 percent of Illinois residents voted, in a nonbinding referendum, for a new $10-an-hour state minimum by 2015. Fast-food workers kicked off their fight for a $15-an-hour minimum wage with national strikes in November 2012 and have been at the forefront of calls throughout the country for similar increases from low-wage workers in other industries like healthcare and retail.

The Illinois state minimum remains $8.25-an-hour. Some officials, according to Northern Public Radio, are worried that during this session the statehouse will consider business-backed legislation prohibiting municipalities from raising their minimums above the state’s. Franchisee owners are mobilizing nationally to counter the growing union-backed movement for a higher minimum wage, the Wall Street Journal reports.

San Francisco recently became the second U.S. city this year to join Seattle in adopting the highest minimum wage in the country at $15-an-hour.

(h/t NPR)

Cosby Sued for Sexual Battery, NYC Grand Jury Decision, Mike Brown’s Stepdad Investigated

Cosby Sued for Sexual Battery, NYC Grand Jury Decision, Mike Brown's Stepdad Investigated

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:

  • Brian Williams slow jams the immigration executive action news on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”:

    TAGS: Morning Rush

    Are Police Unions Choosing Labor Rights Over Public Safety?

    Are Police Unions Choosing Labor Rights Over Public Safety?

    Are police unions choosing labor rights over the public’s safety? That’s the question Conor Friedersdorf raises in a provocative op-ed in The Atlantic today. It’s a timely look at allegiances given the St Louis Police Officers Association’s letter threatening boycott and condemning Rams players’ “hands up” gesture during Sunday’s pre-game introductions as well as its fundraising effort for Darren Wilson. Friedersdorf culls examples of police unions’ influence in protecting the jobs and pensions of officers who have been disciplined. One such example is Oakland policeman Hector Jimenez, a case that reporter Ali Winston covered for Colorlines in 2009 and 2011. As told by Friedersdorf:

    In 2007, [Jimenez] shot and killed an unarmed 20-year-old man. Just seven months later, he killed another unarmed man, shooting him three times in the back as he ran away. Oakland paid a $650,000 settlement to the dead man’s family in a lawsuit and fired Jimenez, who appealed through his police union. Despite killing two unarmed men and costing taxpayers all that money, he was reinstated and given back pay.

    There are other egregious examples like Chicago’s Jon Burge, 66, who, despite torturing at least 100 black men while police commander, this year got to keep his $54,000-a-year pension. His supporters on the pension board, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, were police officers.

    Friedersdorf notes that, “[not] every officer who is fired deserves it, [and not] every reinstated cop represents a miscarriage of justice”—but his small sampling of disciplined-then-reinstated officers, alone, also illustrates a need for reform.

    Read the full story at The Atlantic.

    Father of Cop Who Killed Tamir Rice Says Son Believes He Acted Properly

    Father of Cop Who Killed Tamir Rice Says Son Believes He Acted Properly

    Fred Loehmann, father of one of the two police officers who shot and killed Tamir Rice in Cleveland on November 22, says his son Tim Loehmann believes he had no choice but to shoot the 12-year-old African-American boy, the Northeast Ohio Media Group reported. 

    “He’s living his life,” Loehmann said of his son Tim, an eight-month rookie with the Cleveland police academy. The officer was with his partner, veteran Fred Garmback, when they sped up to a park gazebo where Rice was playing with an airsoft gun. In an exchange that lasted just two seconds, Loehmann jumped out of the car and shot and killed Rice as his partner Garmback pulled up to Rice. “I had no choice,” the elder Loehmann recalls his son telling him.

    Rice’s shooting death came amidst the final days of tense anticipation as the nation awaited a St. Louis grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, a black teen.

    A funeral for Rice is being held at 11am ET on Wednesday, NBC reported. 

    Former NFL Player-Turned-Actor Terry Crews on What Makes a Man in 2014

    Former NFL Player-Turned-Actor Terry Crews on What Makes a Man in 2014

    A highlight of a new interview with “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” actor Terry Crews is when he tells a story of his 6-year-old son’s shame at having to admit feeling afraid in front of him (12:45-15:07). He saw himself in his son’s vulnerability and handled it in a way that’s perhaps different from how he grew up in 1970s Flint, Mich. Crews recently keynoted a Canadian conference, “What Makes A Man,” and sat with Elamin Abdelmahmoud* to talk feminism (“it scares men”) and manhood.  His talk comes at a time when a number of high-profile and beloved male entertainers—Bill Cosby, Ray Rice and, in Canada, Jian Ghomeshi—are forcing public and revelatory conversations about the bounds of appropriate manhood. Crews, who’s spoken openly about growing up watching his father hit his mother, doesn’t mind all the debate though. He thinks it gives men an opportunity to re-direct and choose healthier ways to be.

     

    * Post has been updated since publication with the correct name of Crews’ interviewer, Elamin Abdelmahmoud of “The Agenda with Steve Paiken.”

    Sony’s Race and Gender Gap, San Francisco Stands With Ferguson

    Sony's Race and Gender Gap, San Francisco Stands With Ferguson

    This is what I’m reading up on today:

    TAGS: Morning Rush

    Bill Cosby Resigns From Temple University Board

    Bill Cosby Resigns From Temple University Board

    Temple University issued a statement today confirming that Bill Cosby has resigned from its board of trustees. Cosby is a Temple alum and had been an active supporter of his alma mater where he has been a board member since the 1980s. Several colleges and universities have now cut ties with Cosby, but among them Temple University may be the one with which he is most closely associated.

    Up to 20 women have stepped forward in recent weeks alleging that since at least 1965, Cosby had drugged and sexually assaulted them. One of those women is Andrea Constand, former director of operations for Temple’s women’s basketball team, with whom Cosby settled a civil suit in November 2006.

    (h/t USA Today)

    Chris Rock Talks Race Relations, Comedy And More

    Chris Rock Talks Race Relations, Comedy And More

    Ahead of the December 12th opening of his new movie, “Top Five,” comedian Chris Rock sat for a long interview with New York magazine’s Frank Rich. They cover a bit of everything from Rock’s comedic influences to working around his daughters’ school year. As usual, Rock’s at his best when dissecting race in America:

    When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before….

    So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. …

    It’s about white people adjusting to a new reality?

    Owning their actions. Not even their actions. The actions of your dad. Yeah, it’s unfair that you can get judged by something you didn’t do, but it’s also unfair that you can inherit money that you didn’t work for.

    Check out the “Top Five” trailer above and read the rest of Rock’s interview in New York magazine.

    Janay Rice: ‘I’m a Strong Woman and Come From a Strong Family’

    Janay Rice: 'I'm a Strong Woman and Come From a Strong Family'

    Janay Rice broke her months-long silence over the Thanksgiving holiday. In an interview with ESPN’s Jemele Hill that was done back in November but published over the weekend, Rice addressed the assault she survived by her husband, former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, and video of the incident that went viral and sparked a national discussion about domestic violence. 

    Looking out over the media, I became angry, seeing all the people who had been covering this and adding to the story. I wanted to tell everyone what was really on my mind. When it was my turn to speak, I said I regretted my role in the incident. I know some people disagreed with me publicly apologizing. I’m not saying that what Ray did wasn’t wrong. He and I both know it was wrong. It’s been made clear to him that it was wrong. But at the same time, who am I to put my hands on somebody? I had already apologized to Ray, and I felt that I should take responsibility for what I did. Even though this followed the Ravens’ suggested script, I owned my words.

    Later, she describes the fallout from her husband’s dismissal from the Ravens and indefinite suspension from the league (a decision that was recently overturned on appeal):

    I’m a strong woman and I come from a strong family. Never in my life have I seen abuse, nor have I seen any woman in my family physically abused. I have always been taught to respect myself and to never allow myself to be disrespected, especially by a man. Growing up, my father used to always tell my sister and I, “We don’t need a man to make us, if anything it’s the man who needs us.

    [snip]

    I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve realized how strong I am. People ask me how I’ve gotten through this and I honestly cannot put it into words. I have grown closer to God. My faith has gotten me through each day. It’s been hard accepting the fact that God chose us for this, but at the same time it’s put us in the position to help others. We know our incident led to very important discussions to hashtags of “why I stayed” and “why I left.” If it took our situation becoming headline news to show domestic violence is happening in this country, that’s a positive.

    Read Rice’s full story at ESPN, or watch a portion below.

    Ferguson Walkout Planned, Holiday Sales Down, World AIDS Day

    Ferguson Walkout Planned, Holiday Sales Down, World AIDS Day

    Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:

    • Obama will be holding a meeting with cabinet members, civil rights leaders and law enforcement officials to talk about Ferguson
    • Did you like “Breaking Bad”? A trailer for a spin-off named “Better Call Saul” is here
    TAGS: Morning Rush

    Darren Wilson Would Like to Teach Others About Use of Force

    Darren Wilson Would Like to Teach Others About Use of Force

    In the second installment of Officer Darren Wilson’s interview with ABC, he revealed that not only is his new wife, fellow Ferguson police officer Barbara Spradling, pregnant, but that he’d also like to move on from the aftermath of his killing Michael Brown by giving back to others.

    “I would love to teach people. I would love to give more insight on … into the use of force and anything I can,” Wilson told ABC. “Anything that I can get out of this career I’ve had so far and of the incident, I would love to give to someone else.”

    [VIDEO] Ferguson Makes Black Friday Protests Different This Year

    [VIDEO] Ferguson Makes Black Friday Protests Different This Year

    Black Friday used to be known as a retailers’ cash cow and the (sometimes deadly) kick-off to Christmas shopping. Since the 2008 recession, however, the biggest shopping day of the year appears to be turning into a symbol of one long holiday weekend of national protest—and this year striking Walmart employees with support from fast-food workers have company. Inspired by Ferguson and galvanized by the grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson, disparate calls are gaining steam for an economic boycott this Friday in honor of Michael Brown. This Black Friday could mark the popular merging of low-wage labor fights for economic justice with social justice fights for human and civil rights—all concerns that affect working class communities of color.

    “Our campaign is separate from the Walmart protest but we stand in solidarity and support their efforts,” wrote Mike Latt* in an e-mail to Colorlines. Latt is president of marketing for Blackout for Human Rights, which is leading a national social media (#BlackOutBlackFriday) and offline campaign to boycott stores this Friday. Latt told Forbes that the nonprofit, formed by “Fruitvale Station” director Ryan Coogler, wants to, “encourage those sick of the status quo to spend their Black Friday doing something more useful than shopping.”

    Other hashtag campaigns drawing similar inspiration from Ferguson, Forbes reports, are #NotOneDime and #HandsUpDontSpend. In St. Louis, the Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition and other groups according to the local Fox affiliate, are separately calling for a weekend boycott November 19-December 3, 2014.

    St. Louis labor leader Bradley Harmon of Communications Workers of America on a recent WorkWeekRadio podcast (9:40-12:39) connects the dots between Mike Brown’s death, the grand jury’s decision and disenfranchisement among St. Louis’s youth:

    Before Mike Brown got shot 47% of young black men in St Louis couldn’t find work and…that’s what Gov. Nixon should’ve declared a state of emergency about a long time ago….So many young people are being left behind by this economy. And then when Mike Brown was shot that’s another example of the way that government is failing working class people. The kind of interaction that Mike Brown got from the government, the services that he needed, the school that he went to, the social services that should have been there when his family was having hard times…the kind of support that should’ve been there for his family wasn’t there from the government and the kind of interaction that he did get from the state of Missouri, the city of Ferguson and the St. Louis County government was bullets from Officer Darren Wilson.

    Listen for more, as well as a statement from imprisoned Mumia Abu-Jamal (1:05-2:54) reacting to the grand jury decision, below:

    Calls for a national economic boycott this Black Friday to protest police brutality are coming at a time when even mainstream press debates whether Ferguson shows that cops who kill get off too easily.

    * Post has been updated since publication to correct the last name, Latt, not Ladd.

    Police Release Video, Officers’ Names in Tamir Rice Shooting

    Police Release Video, Officers' Names in Tamir Rice Shooting Play

    At the behest of Tamir Rice’s family, Cleveland police released audio and video of the shooting that claimed the 12-year-old’s life at a local playground four days ago.

    In it, Rice is shown walking around a park with a BB gun in his hand, looking fairly bored and talking on his cell phone before a police cruiser pulls up. The two responding officers appear to shoot the boy immediately after leaving their moving police car. Those officers were identified as Frank Garmack, 46, a six-year veteran of the force, and Timothy Lowman, 26, who had only been with the department since March. Both officers are on administrative leave, which is standard after fatal shootings. 

    “We are honoring the wishes of the family and releasing this and also in the spirit of being open and fair with our community,” Deputy Chief Edward Tomba said at a press conference this afternoon. Tomba called the shooting an “obvious tragic event.”

    In Cleveland, Tamir Rice’s Family Asks Police to Release Video

    In Cleveland, Tamir Rice's Family Asks Police to Release Video

    The family of a 12-year-old boy who died Sunday morning from a police-inflicted gunshot wound to his stomach is asking the mayor and the police department to release video of the incident. What’s known of this still-developing story is that the tragedy unfolded Saturday afternoon when two officers responded to calls of a “man” pointing a gun at people in the park. The replica gun was a toy. There are reports that dispatch did not relay crucial information to the officer, however, that the gun “was probably fake” and that the guy was “probably a juvenile.” The officer, on the force less than a year, fired twice and at least one bullet hit Tamir Rice, reports say.

    Today at 1 p.m. EST, police “will provide additional updates and audio and visual evidence from the use of deadly force,” according to a November 25 post on a Cleveland Division of Police Web siteThe medical examiner’s office, which ruled Rice’s death a homicide, has so far denied requests for more information, according to Northeast Ohio Media Group. The officer’s name has not yet been released.

    Rice’s killing comes as Cleveland’s police department is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice to determine whether it regularly uses excessive force. Cleveland residents have been protesting both the Tamir Rice shooting and the Ferguson grand jury decision.

    CNN Inadvertently Airs NYC Protesters Chanting ‘F*** CNN!’

    CNN Inadvertently Airs NYC Protesters Chanting 'F*** CNN!'

    During last night’s protests for Mike Brown in New York City, this happened on CNN. And it was awkward:

    More Protests for Ferguson, More Trouble for Bill Cosby

    More Protests for Ferguson, More Trouble for Bill Cosby

    This is what I’m reading up on today:

    TAGS: Morning Rush

    Here’s A Preview of Darren Wilson’s First TV Interview, Airing Tonight

    Here's A Preview of Darren Wilson's First TV Interview, Airing Tonight

    After a series of “auditions” with news anchors, first reported by CNN’s Brian Stelter, police officer Darren Wilson appears to have selected ABC’s “World News Tonight” or anchor George Stephanopolous for his first interview since fatally shooting Michael Brown on August 9. 

    Watch the teaser above. The interview airs tonight at 6:30 p.m. EST on “World News Tonight.”

    How Lesley McSpadden Learned About the Grand Jury’s Decision

    How Lesley McSpadden Learned About the Grand Jury's Decision

    Michael Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, visibly broke down before a crowd of supporters and a phalanx of cameras last night as news spread that a St. Louis grand jury decided not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of her unarmed, 18-year-old son. McSpadden learned of the decision, according to USA Today, through a phone call received by Benjamin Crump, a family attorney, minutes before the public announcement. 

    [She] cried and shouted when Crump told her there was no indictment and that the prosecutor was willing to meet with the family. ... Her body vibrated with pain as she jumped to her feet. “I do want to meet with him right now,” McSpadden screamed. “What do you mean no indictment?!” She then ran out of a hotel room followed by family members.

    Wilson, like Brown’s family, issued a public statement last night stating in part, “Officer Wilson followed his training and followed the law.” Wilson’s testimony to the grand jury in which he describes encountering and ultimately shooting Brown, has been publicly released (see page 195). At one point, Wilson, a little under 6 ‘4” and 210 pounds to Brown’s 6’ 4” nearly 300 pound frame, describes grabbing him: “I felt like a 5-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan.” Summaries can be found at CNN and the Washington Post

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