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?”
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By Elliot Booker — 1 year agoBy
The post-hurricane devastation facing Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the lack of attention being paid by the federal government to necessary relief efforts. The lack of media attention to the death and destruction facing these U.S. citizens — who are not white and many of whom are of African descent — speaks to their second-class citizenship rooted in white supremacy and systemic racial discrimination.
With nearly half of Americans not realizing Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens — and even Donald Trump apparently not realizing the people of America’s island territories are citizens, or that he is the president of the U.S. Virgin Islands — these Black and Brown territories are American colonies and possessions of conquest in every manner.
The reason why the island territories — not only the Caribbean islands, but also Pacific islands such as Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands — are subjected to separate and unequal treatment, and are not states, is because of the Insular Cases, a series of racist Supreme Court decisions, of which the first were written by the same court that gave us the endorsement of racial segregation in Plessy v. Ferguson. These cases established the racist framework governing nonwhite territories of the United States. The island territories, inhabited by so-called alien races, were designed to give the United States control over the seas but second-class citizenship to their inhabitants. These cases are why these Black and Brown territories — as opposed to former white-controlled territories turned states — are subjected to the control of Congress, and no territory has become a state since Alaska and Hawaii in 1959.
At the time, Alaska and Hawaii had already been established as sovereign territories incorporated into the United States, with full constitutional safeguards and a pathway to statehood. The American court system rationalized that Alaska was in a different classification from Puerto Rico because it was on the North American continent. Hawaii, which the U.S. annexed in 1898, was a distant island populated by nonwhite people like Puerto Rico, yet Congress quickly granted full citizenship to its residents in 1900. Further, the United States was changing its definition of a territory, as Slate noted, opting for a European model of expansion to rescue the savages — a white supremacist message which presidents such as McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt endorsed. Further, President William Howard Taft — later Supreme Court Chief Justice — had a personal bias against Puerto Rican people which proved decisive in the fate of the territory. Taft believed they were unable to understand institutions of “Anglo-Saxon origin” such as the jury system, and he supported citizenship only if the territory was not granted statehood. The American attitude towards these nonwhite possessions reflected both the racism of the day, but also a desire to economically exploit these islands and establish military bases on them.
In one of the Insular Cases, DeLima v. Bidwell, the high court found that Puerto Rico was not a foreign country within the context of tariff laws. In Downes v. Bidwell, the court ruled that Puerto Rico was an unincorporated territory under the control of Congress, but without the full protection of the U.S. Constitution. “If those possessions are inhabited by alien races, differing from us in religion, customs, laws, methods of taxation, and modes of thought, the administration of government and justice according to Anglo-Saxon principles may for a time be impossible, and the question at once arises whether large concessions ought not to be made for a time, that ultimately our own theories may be carried out and the blessings of a free government under the Constitution extended to them. We decline to hold that there is anything in the Constitution to forbid such action,” the court wrote in its opinion.
In Gonzales v. Williams, the Supreme Court said that a woman from Puerto Rico who moved to New York was not an “alien immigrant,” but rather a “noncitizen national.” In 1917, Congress granted citizenship to people in Puerto Rico.
Formerly the Danish West Indies, the U.S. Virgin Islands became a United States territory in 1917, when the islands were transferred from Denmark for $25 million. Residents of the islands were granted full citizenship rights in 1932 through an act of Congress. Before that time, U.S. courts regarded the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands not as citizens but as “nationals,” which in U.S. colonial policy referred to “inhabitants of colonies to whom the rights of U.S. citizenship were not conferred.”
Meanwhile, the PR crisis has the potential to change Southern politics, particularly in Florida, potentially giving Democrats an advantage. The states with the greatest influx of Puerto Ricans between 2007 and 2009 were, from highest to lowest, Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland.
More than 1 million people of Puerto Rican descent live in Florida, doubling their number since 2001 as a result of a weak economy back home, and as many as 100,000 more are expected to relocate to the state as victims of Hurricane Maria. Leaning heavily Democratic and voting in large numbers, Puerto Rican voters in the mainland voted for Hillary Clinton by a 3-to-1 margin. The Puerto Rican diaspora in Florida and elsewhere, angered by Trump’s inaction in addressing the needs of the storm-ravaged island, and displaying a perceived insensitivity to their plight when he threw paper towels to a crowd during his visit, could galvanize and make a difference in the 2018 and 2020 elections. Although treated not unlike second-class citizens back home, where they cannot vote in national elections, Puerto Ricans on the mainland can register to vote anywhere and participate in races for the Senate, Congress and President, in what may prove the ultimate revenge.
This revenge is against Republicans and Trump — who ignores their plight post-Hurricane Maria and exhibits the racial bias of white U.S. leaders and policymakers a century ago. But this opportunity for payback by Puerto Rican voters also reflects an ability to impact politics on the mainland, after years of political exclusion and marginalization back home, and a colonial limbo status denying them statehood on the one hand, and independence and self-determination on the other.Post Views: 71
By Elliot Booker — 2 years ago
The Associated Press
Sam DuBose was pulled over near the University of Cincinnati campus for a missing front license plate. Walter Scott got stopped for a broken taillight in South Carolina.
Neither black man got out of the traffic stops alive.
Former university police Officer Ray Tensing, 26, is on trial for murder in Cincinnati in the July 2015 fatal shooting of DuBose, 43. Former North Charleston, South Carolina, officer Michael Slager, 34, is on trial for murder in Charleston in the April 2015 fatal shooting of Scott, 50. Both officers, who are white, have pleaded not guilty.
The cases are among a series across the country since mid-2014 — from the fatal shooting of a 12-year-old boy in a Cleveland recreation area to that of a 66-year-old woman in her Bronx, New York, apartment — that have raised a national debate over race and policing.
A summary of other deaths of black people after police encounters:
The 43-year-old man died in July 2014 in New York City after a white officer placed him in a chokehold during an arrest for selling loose cigarettes. A grand jury declined to indict the officer who put Garner in the hold or any of the other officers involved in the arrest. The city agreed to pay a $6 million civil settlement.
The 18-year-old was shot and killed in August 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. A grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson, the white officer who shot him. The Department of Justice also opted against bringing civil rights charges against Wilson. The death of Brown, who was unarmed, led to months of sometimes-violent Ferguson protests and became a catalyst for the Black Lives Matter movement, which rebukes police treatment of minorities.
JOHN CRAWFORD III
Police in the Dayton, Ohio, suburb of Beavercreek responded to a Wal-Mart store in August 2014 on a call of a man waving an apparent rifle. A white officer fatally shot Crawford III, 22, who was carrying what turned out to be an air rifle from a store shelf. Police said they believed it was a real gun and that he didn’t respond to their commands to put it down. A grand jury declined to indict the officers. The U.S. Justice Department has been reviewing the case.
Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke is charged with first-degree murder in the Oct. 20, 2014, shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald. Van Dyke, who is white, was charged in November 2015 on the same day that the city, under judge’s orders, released dashcam video showing the 17-year-old McDonald being shot 16 times. Van Dyke has pleaded not guilty and is free on bond. The video has prompted local and federal investigations of both the shooting and the Police Department.
Peter Liang, a rookie New York City police officer, was convicted Feb. 11 of manslaughter in the November 2014 death of the 28-year-old Gurley. Liang was patrolling a public housing high-rise with his gun drawn in 2014 when he fired and a bullet ricocheted off a wall, hitting Gurley. Liang, an American of Chinese descent, said he had been holding his weapon safely when a sound jarred him and he accidentally fired. In April, a judge reduced the conviction to negligent homicide and sentenced Liang to five years’ probation and 800 hours of community service. An attorney for Gurley’s family said in August that New York City reached a settlement of more than $4 million with the family.
Twelve-year-old Tamir Rice was fatally shot by a white Cleveland police officer near a gazebo in a recreational area in November 2014. Officers were responding to a report of a man waving a gun. The boy, who had a pellet gun tucked in his waistband, was shot right after their cruiser skidded to a stop a few feet away. A grand jury in December 2015 declined to indict patrolman Timothy Loehmann, who fired the fatal shot, and training officer Frank Garmback. The city in 2016 agreed to settle a federal lawsuit filed by Tamir Rice’s family for $6 million.
The 25-year-old man entered a Baltimore police van in April 2015 shackled but alive. He died of severe neck injuries suffered during the ride that followed. His death led to rioting. Prosecutors in July 2016 said they were dropping charges against the remaining police officers awaiting trial, leaving no convictions against six officers who were charged initially in the case. Gray’s family agreed to a $6.4 million settlement with the city in September 2015.
Former Tulsa County volunteer sheriff’s deputy Robert Bates, age 74, was sentenced in June to four years in prison on a second-degree manslaughter conviction in the April 2015 death of Harris, 44, an unarmed and restrained black man, during a sting operation. Bates, who is white, has said he confused his stun gun with his handgun. That shooting led to the temporary suspension of the reserve deputy program after a report found poor training of the volunteer officers, a lack of oversight and cronyism. Bates is appealing his conviction.
WILLIAM CHAPMAN II
Former Portsmouth, Virginia, Police Officer Stephen Rankin was sentenced Oct. 12 to 2½ years in prison for fatally shooting William Chapman II, 18. Rankin shot the unarmed Chapman on April 22, 2015, after responding to a shoplifting call outside a Wal-Mart store. Prosecutors allege Rankin killed Chapman “willfully, deliberately and with premeditation.” Chapman’s body was delivered to the medical examiner with handcuffs still bound behind his back, according to news reports at the time. Some witnesses said Chapman was combative, and one said he knocked away Rankin’s stun gun, according to the reports. Rankin, who is white, was fired after the shooting.
Michael Slager faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted of murder in the shooting death of Scott in April 2015 in South Carolina. The shooting was captured on cellphone video by a passer-by. Slager told investigators Scott had grabbed his Taser and pointed the stun gun at him as they fought on the ground. Slager was fired by the North Charleston Police Department. There has been a $6.5 million settlement between North Charleston and the Scott family. Slager also faces federal charges including for allegedly violating Scott’s civil rights.
Ray Tensing faces 15 years to life if convicted of murder of Sam DuBose, killed in July 2015 near the University of Cincinnati campus. Tensing’s body camera captured much of the traffic stop, although the two sides dispute what conclusions can be reached. Tensing’s attorney says DuBose was using his car as a weapon that could have killed him. The university fired Tensing, hired outside consultants, and restructured its public safety department. The school also reached a $5.3 million settlement that includes free undergraduate tuition for DuBose’s 13 children.
A federal prosecutor announced in September there was insufficient evidence to file civil rights charges in the July 2015 fatal shooting of Stewart, 19, by Officer Connor Schilling. Schilling, a white Memphis, Tennessee, police officer, shot Stewart during a struggle following a traffic stop that escalated after an attempted arrest for outstanding warrants. Schilling has said he shot Stewart because he feared for his life. He retired due to a disability, police said, in a move that allows him to receive disability pay. A grand jury in November 2015 declined to charge the officer.
Jeremy McDole, 28, was sitting in his wheelchair when he was shot and killed in September 2015 in Wilmington, Delaware, after police received a 911 call about a man with a gun. A bystander’s cellphone footage showed officers repeatedly telling McDole to drop his weapon and raise his hands, with McDole reaching for his waist area before shots erupted. The Delaware attorney general’s office decided against criminal charges against four Wilmington police officers involved, although investigators concluded one officer showed “extraordinarily poor” police work.
Former Columbus, Mississippi, police officer Canyon Boykin, who is white, was indicted in September for manslaughter in the shooting death of Ricky Ball, 26. Boykin, facing trial Nov. 28, has said he shot Ball because the man appeared to point a gun at him during a foot chase in October 2015. The city fired Boykin as he was trying to resign, saying he had broken department policy by not turning on his body camera, by inviting his fiancee to ride along without permission, and by making derogatory social media posts about African-Americans, women and disabled people. Boykin has sued the city, claiming violations of his constitutional rights.
A Florida grand jury cleared two police officers in September who fatally shot Semer, an unarmed black motorist, in April 2016 as he fled. Prosecutors said the man’s actions gave the officers a reasonable belief that their lives were in danger. The St. Lucie County Grand Jury cleared Fort Pierce police Sgt. Brian MacNaught and officer Keith Holmes for the shooting of Semer, 21, during a traffic stop. Prosecutors say their investigation showed he refused to get out of his car and then tried to drive away, clipping Holmes and dragging MacNaught. Both officers are white.
Sterling, 37, was shot to death July 5, 2016, as two white officers pinned him to the pavement outside a convenience store where he had been selling CDs. The killing was captured on cellphone video and circulated widely online, sparking widespread demonstrations across Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II were placed on administrative leave. Neither officer has been charged in the case, which was turned over to federal investigators.
Castile was shot and killed July 6 by officer Jeronimo Yanez, who is Hispanic, after being pulled over as he drove through a St. Paul, Minnesota, suburb with his girlfriend and her young daughter in the car. His girlfriend began livestreaming on Facebook shortly after the shooting and said Castile, 32, was shot while reaching for his ID after telling the officer he had a gun permit and was armed. Yanez and his partner, Joseph Kauser, who was present for the shooting, were placed on administrative leave. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has turned its findings over to a county prosecutor, who will review the case.
The 13-year-old Ohio youth was fatally shot by a Columbus police officer Sept. 14 after running from police investigating a reported armed robbery. Police said he a pulled a BB gun that looked like a real firearm. Officer Bryan Mason, who is white, was put on administrative desk duty while the investigation into Tyre King’s death continues. The attorney for his family has asked for a Justice Department review.
KEITH LAMONT SCOTT
The North Carolina State bureau of Investigation is reviewing the fatal Sept. 20 shooting of Scott by a black Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer. Scott, 43, was sitting in his vehicle in the parking lot of his Charlotte apartment complex when he was shot by police trying to find a different man. Police video showed officers shouting for Scott to drop a gun numerous times as he slowly backed out of an SUV. Scott’s family said he did not have a gun and was reading a book. The shooting, part of which was recorded by his wife and shared widely on social media, caused days of violent protests and a state of emergency to be declared in Charlotte.
Tulsa, Oklahoma, police Officer Betty Jo Shelby was charged with first-degree manslaughter on Sept. 22 in the shooting of Crutcher, an unarmed man. Shelby, who is white, shot the 40-year-old Crutcher on Sept. 16 shortly after she arrived on a street to find his SUV stopped in the middle of the road. Crutcher was seen without a weapon and with his hands up on videos from a patrol car dashboard and a police helicopter before Shelby shot him. Police Chief Chuck Jordan has said that Crutcher did not have a gun on his body or in his SUV when he was shot. Shelby has pleaded not guilty and is on unpaid leave.
In the San Diego suburb of El Cajon, a police officer opened fire on Ugandan refugee Alfred Olango within a minute of arriving at the scene on Sept. 27. Olango’s sister had described her brother as mentally unbalanced in multiple 911 calls. Video released by police shows the officer approached the 38-year-old man with gun drawn, as Olango paced in a strip mall parking lot. Olango pulls something from his pocket, takes what police call a “shooting stance,” and aims something at the officer, who then fires his gun. A second officer fired his Taser simultaneously. The object in Olango’s hands turned out to be a 4-inch electronic cigarette device. The two officers were placed on leave as the district attorney investigates.
New York police were responding Oct. 18 to a 911 call about an emotionally disturbed person when Sgt. Hugh Barry encountered Danner, 66, in her Bronx apartment. The mentally ill woman picked up a baseball bat in her bedroom and tried to hit Barry, who fired shots that killed her. New York’s mayor rebuked him publicly the next day, and he has been stripped of his badge and gun and placed on desk duty while the state attorney general’s office determines whether the case falls under its authority to investigate police shootings of unarmed civilians. Police are also investigating the officer’s actions.Post Views: 42
Report: White D.C Residents Outliving Their Black Peers by At Least 9 Years, a Gap That’s Persisted for Over 15 YearsBy Elliot Booker — 3 years ago
July 2, 2016 | Posted by Tanasia Kenney
A recent study by Georgetown’s School of Nursing and Health Studies revealed stark disparities between the measures of health for D.C.’s white and African-American residents.
According to the report, the average Black man in D.C. has a life expectancy of 68.8 years, a whopping 15 years shorter than his white counterpart. Meanwhile, the average Black woman is expected to live 76.2 years, nine less than the average white woman.
The 16-page analysis, titled “The Health of the African-American Community in the District of Columbia: Disparities and Recommendations,” examined social determinants like tobacco use, access to care, education, and air and water quality. The study linked several racial differences in health to the “structural or institutionalized injustices in social, economic, political, and environmental systems.”
According to the Washington City Paper, authors of the study used data from the U.S. Census Bureau, National Institutes of Health, and other federal and local health agencies to compile their report.
While the Affordable Care Act has helped more D.C. residents gain access to quality healthcare, the NHS report found that African-Americans haven’t benefited as much as other racial groups. For instance, Black men are still the most likely group in D.C. to be homicide victims. The study also found that the majority of the city’s older residents are struggling to get basic needs like housing.
“Historically, we’ve placed more emphasis on the health care system as a means of addressing the problem and less emphasis on complex social factors,” NHS assistant professor and report author Christopher King said in a release. “We can have the best health care in the world, but if we don’t live in communities that make it easy to make healthy choices, we’re less likely to see an improvement in health.”
Other racial disparities included in the report include:
- African-American residents are six times more likely to die from diabetes-related complications.
- Black residents are twice as likely to die from coronary heart disease and have high blood pressure than their white counterparts.
- The rate of obesity for African-Americans is 43 percent, the highest in D.C.
- African-American residents are “more than two times more likely to report 15-30 days of poor mental health.”
- 2013 infant mortality rates: 9.9 per 1,000 among Black residents, compared to 1.7 per 1,000 among white residents.
- Black residents are 3.5 times more likely to live below the poverty line.
Despite the disparities and dismal measures of health, the report managed to deliver a few doses of good news, too. For example, over 90 percent of Black adults and children in D.C. are medically insured. Another “85 percent of Black residents receive routine medical checkups — the highest percentage of all racial and ethnic groups” in the district.
“As the city continues to experience rapid growth and economic progress, proactive efforts are needed to address policies, practices, and norms that perpetuate segregation and inequitable distribution of resources — disproportionately burdening African American residents,” the report reads.
As solutions, the authors suggest healthcare and hospital reforms, asserting that medical institutions apply “a racial equity lens in how care is delivered” and ensure “leadership at all levels is a reflection of the community served.”
The extensive report will be submitted to Mayor Muriel Bowser and the D.C. Commission on African-American Affairs, Washington City Paper reports.
A similar report released by the Centers for Disease Control in May found that the national life expectancy gap between Blacks and whites had actually decreased. The average Black person in America has a life expectancy of 75.6 years, 3.4 years less than the average white person. That’s the smallest gap on record thus far, Atlanta Black Star reports.
“Blacks are catching up,” University of Pennsylvania demographer Samuel Preston told The New York Times. “The gap is now the narrowest it has been since the beginning of the 20th century, and that’s really good news.”Post Views: 33