Arise America reviews TheRoot.com’s list of the five worst states for black people to live in today. Arise News anchor Julian Phillips says the results of the study might surprise you.
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“Time for an Awakening” with Bro. Elliott 10-20-17 guest National Action Network Pa. Chair Paula PeeblesBy Elliot Booker — 2 years ago
“Time for an Awakening” for Friday 10/20/2017 at 8:00 PM guest was Activist, National Action Network Chairwoman Pa. Chapter, Paula Peebles. We talked with our guest about the fight against the Temple Univ. stadium project, and the struggle to maintain the integrity of the Black community in the mist of gentrification, among other topics.Post Views: 110
By Elliot Booker — 3 years ago
AFRICANGLOBE : Editorial Staff
Police kicked open an 84-year-old Oklahoma woman’s front door and pepper-sprayed her during a search for her son, who was being hunted after allegedly failing to stop at a stop sign.
Police in the city of Muskogee, near Tulsa, released body camera footage of the incident that took place at about 2.30am on 7 August.
The video shows an officer kicking the front door open, shouting commands and tasering Arthur Blackmon, who appears to be standing still with his hands up, holding a mobile phone. About 30 seconds after Blackmon is tased, officer Michelle Casady is heard telling Geneva Smith, who is backing away: “Turn around, face that way now, or I’ll spray you.” She directs a brief burst of spray at the elderly woman’s head, causing her to reel.
“Hey! My mother is 84 years old, motherf*cker!” Blackmon yells, as she falls to the ground and cries, “Help me, Jesus.” A few seconds earlier, Smith had refused to get on the floor and told officers, “I ain’t turning round.”
Officers were chasing the 56-year-old after he allegedly ran a stop sign, drove to his mother’s house and failed to obey instructions to stay in his truck, then dashed into the home and refused to come out, according to police footage.
The Muskogee Phoenix said that Smith, who is Black, was initially cited for resisting an officer, but the citation was dropped, while Blackmon was charged with drunk-driving, obstructing an officer, driving with a suspended license and illegally carrying a weapon.
“I just came out and asked them what was going on and they just pepper-sprayed me,” Smith told Fox 23 local news, adding that she was taken to jail, then the hospital after falling ill, and still felt pain in her eye more than a week later.
Rex Eskridge, the chief of police, told the station that the department released the footage to be transparent. “Videos can’t give you the full sense of what happened but at the same time they do either validate or expose any warts that you might have,” he said.
The department has allegedly launched an internal investigation to determine whether officers complied with policy. Police said in a statement that they used “non-lethal force” because the mother and her son repeatedly failed “to comply with lawful commands”.
A spokesman said that police entered the house only after repeatedly attempting to make contact, then hearing yelling and a cry of “call 911!” from inside, prompting concern for the residents’ safety, especially given that the truck they had chased was not registered at that address.
“We can’t ignore the fact that there was wrong on both sides,” said Derrick Reed, a former local NAACP president and current city councilman for the ward where the incident took place. He praised the police for releasing the footage and being responsive to the concerns of community “leaders”, who are now waiting for the results of the investigation.
Muskogee police made news locally last year when they pepper-sprayed an African American mentally disabled man during an alleged search for a missing person at a home in the city, and nationally when an officer fatally shot a Black man who was allegedly fleeing then stopped to bend over and pick up what appeared to be a gun in the road.
“We have worked in Muskogee to build relationships with our police department and so I can’t say that all the force is bad but that night was a horrible night,” Reed said.
“Looking at the video, anyone would think there could have been other avenues that the Muskogee police department could have taken that night so the outcome wouldn’t be so horrific. Anyone seeing the video has to put in their mind that whether she was Black or white she was somebody’s grandmother, 84 years old, and there were seven police officers in the room … the image that’ll never escape my mind is there was an 84-year-old woman, pepper-sprayed, and could we have done something differently?”Post Views: 92
By Elliot Booker — 3 years ago
By Barrington M. Salmon Aug. 7, 2016
For more than two decades, Black farmers have driven tractors to Capitol Hill and walked the halls of Congress, coaxing, cajoling and confronting lawmakers.
They have also filed lawsuits, protested and demonstrated. All of this an effort to correct an admittedly egregious legacy of racism and discrimination by the US Department of Agriculture.
Despite high profiled settlements several years ago, just last month, three dozen farmers and their supporters from Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kentucky descended on the steps of the United States Supreme Court. At the rally and demonstration, the protesters promised to fight until they’re heard and one of their members, Bernice Atchison, filed a writ with the Supreme Court.
“[Former USDA Secretary Dan] Glickman acknowledged that the agency had discriminated against Black farmers. We have dealt with bias, discrimination and double standards,” said Georgia Farmer Eddie Slaughter in front of the court. “We had supervised accounts which meant they had power over our money and county loan officers discriminated against Black farmers. It’s been nothing but fraud, deceit and breach of contract. Our damages are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. They have persecuted us and now, 35-40 percent of Black farmers have been run out of the business. They were supposed to return one and a half million acres of land to Black farmers but didn’t.”
Slaughter concluded, “We’re here to say Black farmers of 2016 are the Dred Scott of 1857. He demanded to be free. The fraud and corruption amounts to economic terrorism against Black farmers. We don’t have anyone standing up for us. The Congressional Black Caucus or President Obama could have created a national investigative commission. But they’ve done nothing. Equal justice under the law does not exist in this.”
Bernice Atchison, president of Black Farmers of Alabama, agreed as she recounted her long ordeal since the USDA seized and sold 239 acres of family land.
“My husband’s father died and they sold the land on the steps of the courthouse,” she explained as she held an armful of folders. “I’ve been fighting since 1983. I’m 78 years old. It’s been a long time for me. I have enough evidence that it would take a truck to haul it away. I walked the halls of the Capitol Hill with (the late) John Boyd, going from office-to-office.”
In 2004, Congress asked Atchison to testify before a subcommittee.
“They said my face was the face of the 66,000 Black farmers who’d been denied and said my due process had been violated,” She recalled. “Congress called me as an expert eyewitness before them and a judge gave me standing in the court. I’m the most impacted but I haven’t been paid. They’re punishing me. We’re asking for justice not a set amount.”
Atchison said she has a case on the docket that she filed in 2014. But, she says she and her colleagues have hit a brick wall.
“It’s been 20 years that farmers have been saying that they’ve been mistreated and we’re still losing land,” said Gary R. Grant, president of the Black Farmers & Agriculturists Association & The Land Loss Fund. “Where we had one million farmers, that number is down to 20,000. Many farmers feel a sense of helplessness, a number are suffering from disease and health issues we’ve never dealt with such as diabetes and high blood pressure. They’re wiping us out. The land isn’t disappearing. It’s been stolen from us.”
Grant said there has been no Congressional investigation into the assortment of alleged abuses by local farm service agencies.
“Not a single employee at USDA has lost their job,” said Grant. “Between 1981 and 1996, 64 percent of Black farmers have (disappeared) and only one person was forced to retire but with full benefits.”
Repeated attempts to secure comments and reaction from the USDA were not successful. However, a 1994 USDA study examined the treatment of racial minorities and women as the agency was weathered allegations of pervasive racial discrimination in the way its employees handled applications for farm loans and grants to primarily Southern black farmers. Between 1990 and 1995, researchers found that “minorities received less than their fair share of USDA money for crop payments, disaster payments, and loans.”
The final report noted that the USDA gave corporations 65 percent of loans, while 25 percent of the largest payments went to White male farmers. Further, 97 percent of disaster payments went to White farmers, with less than 1 percent reaching black farmers.
The study highlighted “gross deficiencies” in the way the USDA collected and handled data which muddied the reasons for the discrepancies in treatment between Black and White farmers in such a manner that the reasons couldn’t easily be determined.
Carol Estes, in a story about the travails of Black farmers in a Yes! Magazine article headlined, “Second Chance for Black Farmers,” details one of the many challenges.
Estes reports, “The USDA does provide a remedy for farmers who believe they’ve been treated unfairly: They can file a claim with the agency’s civil rights complaint office in Washington, DC,” she said. “There’s a hitch, though. Ronald Reagan shut down that office in 1983, and the USDA never informed farmers. So for the next 13 years, until the office was reopened by the Clinton administration, black farmers’ complaints literally piled up in a vacant room in the Agriculture building in Washington.”
The farmers who congregated in front of the Supreme Court cited figures ranging from 14,000 to 40,000 cases they say the USDA has failed to process. The official put in charge of unblocking the bottleneck is a part of the problem because he’s made no effort to facilitate the processing of the backed up claims, they charge.
The farmers have received two settlements, Pigford I and II, class action lawsuits which together have allocated about $2.25 billion to tens of thousands of Black farmers. The first lawsuit was settled in April 1999 by US District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman. And in December 2010, Congress appropriated $1.2 billion for 70,000 additional claimants.
The judgment was the largest civil rights settlement in this country’s history. While some see the settlement as a victory, for most Black farmers it’s bitter-sweet because the settlement payments aren’t enough to buy farm equipment, give farmers long-term comfort; and in no way makes up for the destruction of rural Black communities and the theft of land by government officials, they say.
For example, the farmers detailed the travails of Eddie and Dorothy Wise, North Carolina farmers who were forced off their 106-acre farm in January by 14 heavily armed sheriffs and federal marshals. They said this happened without the couple being granted any hearing. Wise, a 67-year-old retired Green Beret and his wife, a retired grants manager, lived on their farm for more than 20 years. After being evicted, the Wises lost their property and are living in a hotel. A GoFundMe page is soliciting help for the family. Supporters have raised $6,000 toward the $50,000 goal.
“Nothing has been done to enhance the opportunities and fairness. What they’ve been doing is working to manipulate and separate the black farmer from his community where he lives, and critically himself,” said Grant.
Lawrence Lucas, who worked with the federal government for 38 years, said little has changed at the agency.
“There’s a reason why they call the USDA ‘the last plantation.’ The civil rights problems there have not been fixed,” said Lucas, president emeritus of the USDA Coalition of Minority Employees. “Ninety-seven percent of Black farmers did not get the debt relief promised in the agreement. Things are not better, which is why we have to stand up.”
The farmers said the White House, the US Department of Justice, Congress, the Congressional Black Caucus and civil rights leaders have done little to bring this long-running saga to a close.
“Cases have not been processed and no investigation has been undertaken,” Lucas said.
Oklahoma resident Muhammad Robbalaa said he was at the rally “because a fighter doesn’t quit.”
He said, “I have an older brother who lost his land in 1983. He had a stroke after we fought a battle with the State Supreme Court,” said Robbalaa, 75. “They ruled that it was other folks land and they gave it to White folks. I’m still in the cattle business and my daughters have come back and joined the business. I originally owned 250 acres of land but now I’m on leased land.”
Grant, Slaughter, Atchison and the other farmers said the government has colluded, nothing’s changed, they are further victimized and the land they own continues to be seized and stolen.
“People think that Pigford and $50,000 settled all our issues, but it hasn’t. You can’t even buy a tractor with just that,” Grant said. “They continue to take and foreclose Black farmers. The (lawsuit) assured us a hearing before foreclosure and that has not happened. All we want is justice and equality.”Post Views: 148