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AU Ambassador Tells African Americans To ‘Come Home’ And Build

Written by Peter Pedroncelli Jul 05, 2019

AU ambassador
Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao is the African Union ambassador to the U.S. Photo – AU

Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, African Union ambassador to the U.S., has called on African Americans to “come home” and contribute to Africa’s growth and prosperity.

She was speaking to an audience of Black entrepreneurs at a Power Networking Conference in Houston, Texas and urged them to “wake up, organize, go home and take what is rightfully ours,” according to a YouTube video uploaded by Dr. Boyce Watkins, the CEO of The Black Business School.

Zimbabwe-born Dr. Chihombori-Quao is the permanent representative of the African Union Representational Mission to the U.S., according to the A.U.

A former medical doctor, she is the CEO and founder of Bell Family Medical Centers in the U.S. Before taking up her current position at the A.U. in 2017, she practiced medicine for 29 years in Tennessee.

A.U. ambassador calling Africa’s children home

Chihombori-Quao asked African Americans to return home to Africa with the skills and expertise to help build African economies.

“If the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area is going to succeed, it must include the children in the diaspora,” she said.

The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement is a new pan-African trade zone proposed in March 2018 that aims to enable intra-Africa trade among the 55 countries in Africa, Fin24 reports.

Intra-African trade was worth about $170 billion in 2017, but accounts for only 15 percent of the continent’s trade, FT reports.

By comparison, intra-continental trade is at 67 percent in the European Union and 58 percent in Asia.

Designed to boost intra-Africa trade, the African Continental Free Trade Area, which came into effect at the end of May, aims to slash tariffs on 90 percent of goods across a market of 1.2 billion people, according to Moneyweek.

Contracts for massive construction projects are going to companies in China and Europe when they could be going to “the children of Africa” in the diaspora, Chihombori-Quao said.

“So while the rest of the world is strategizing about how to get into Africa, guess who is still sleeping like grasshoppers? Us, the children of Africa. I’m here to say, my brothers and sisters, we must wake up. We have got to wake up, organize and go home to take what is rightfully ours.”

She ended her address with a call for African Americans not to complain about Africa but contribute to change it.

“If we don’t organize in order for us to participate in the development of Africa, let’s not complain when the contract to build the Cape-to-Cairo highway goes to China. Let’s not complain when the highway from East Africa to West Africa goes to some European company,” Chihombori-Quao said.

Organized for almost two decades, the PowerNetworking Conference has gathered Black entrepreneurs looking to connect, grow and prosper with annual events held in Houston, Texas.

This year’s event took place between June 26-29. The dates for 2020 are not confirmed.

During a visit to Los Angeles on June 14, Ethiopian ambassador Fitsum Arega outlined the prospects for investors, companies, and entrepreneurs to engage with Africa’s second most populous country, according to the LosAngelesSentinel.

“Our new, reformist prime minister (Abiy Ahmed) welcomes U.S. businesses to do trade between the U.S. and Africa and the U.S. and Ethiopia. We encourage the Africa diaspora – African Americans – to do business and strengthen this link,” said Arega.

Manufacturing, telecommunications, power and solar energy and entertainment are areas ripe for investment, he said.

READ MORE AT: https://moguldom.com/211045/au-ambassador-tells-african-americans-to-come-home-and-build/

The birthplace of American slavery debated abolishing it after Nat Turner’s bloody revolt

By Gregory S. Schneider June 1

The first thing white people did after Nat Turner’s violent slave insurrection in 1831 was round up more than 120 black people and kill them.

But the next thing white people did was surprising.

Hundreds of them sent petitions to the Virginia General Assembly calling for an end to slavery.

Richmond’s newspapers argued fiercely in favor of abolition. President Thomas Jefferson’s grandson pushed a plan to free slaves and help them settle in the new African nation of Liberia. Even a leader of the militia that put down Turner’s rebellion called for a gradual end to slavery.

In other words, the insurrection almost worked. More than 50 white men, women and children had died in the bloodiest slave revolt on U.S. soil. It forced Virginians to confront the evil that was at the root of their society, and it just plain scared a lot of people. Thanks to public pressure, the General Assembly considered taking radical action.

But the votes fell short. Instead, lawmakers passed harsher laws that made African Americans’ lives even worse. They also aggravated divisions that erupted, 30 years later, in the Civil War.

This year, Virginia marks the origins of slavery in the English colonies. The first captured Africans arrived at Virginia’s Point Comfort in August 1619. The debates prompted by Turner’s insurrection were “the most public, focused, and sustained discussion of slavery and emancipation that ever occurred in . . . any . . . southern state,” historian Eva Sheppard Wolf wrote.

The sword that is believed to have been carried by Nat Turner during his insurrection. (Matt Mcclain/The Washington Post)

The process laid bare how deeply conflicted white Southerners were about the topic. There were slave owners who favored abolition and abolitionists who just wanted to get rid of black people. Petitions poured out from every corner of the state — about 40, signed by more than 2,000 people

In Charles City County, between Williamsburg and Richmond, a group of Quakers sent an eloquent plea for Virginia to remember the ideals that sparked the Revolution.

Slavery was “a system repugnant to the laws of God, and subversive of the rights, and destructive of the happiness of man,” the Quakers wrote. “We, therefore, solemnly believe that some efficient system for the abolition of slavery in the Commonwealth and restoration of the African race to the inalienable rights of man is imperiously demanded by the laws of God, and inseparably connected with the best interests of the Commonwealth at large.”

In Loudoun County, a group of women wrote that they were afraid for their safety. They called for a gradual end to slavery but also the removal of all blacks from Virginia, free and enslaved. A group in Buckingham County wanted an end to slavery out of fear that blacks would soon outnumber whites.

About 30 of the petitions aimed to get all people of color out of Virginia, Root found as he researched his dissertation on the subject. But not all of them wanted to end slavery; several called for purging the state of free blacks so that enslaved workers wouldn’t be influenced by them. Root found most of the petitions in newspaper coverage and compiled them in a book titled “Sons of the Fathers.”

The sentiments were so strong and so numerous that the General Assembly appointed a select committee to consider them. Proslavery legislators fought to keep the committee from taking up the issue of abolition and, in particular, tried to stop the Quaker petition from getting a hearing.

But the House of Delegates voted 93 to 27 to refer the Quaker petition to the committee. And for two weeks in January 1832, the Virginia legislature toyed with the idea of abolishing slavery and emancipating people of African descent.

Thomas Jefferson Randolph, a delegate from Albemarle County, invoked his famous grandfather in calling for a plan to resettle freed slaves in Liberia. The third president, of course, had been shamefully contradictory on the subject. His first act as a young Virginia delegate had been to seek an end to slavery, but he later wrote in his “Notes on the State of Virginia” that blacks were an inferior race. Jefferson also wrote that blacks had been degraded by their treatment by whites. While he maintained in letters that slavery was wrong, he deferred action to future generations.

Randolph proposed letting the people of Virginia (well, the white males) vote on whether to consider abolition. His plan called for a gradual emancipation; the first slaves wouldn’t go free until 1858. But as Wolf noted in her book “Race and Liberty in the New Nation,” the emancipation would begin on July 4, a proposal that “unmistakably recalled Virginians’ attachment to the ideal of universal liberty and the glowing words of Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence.

One Jeffersonian sentiment that carried power during the 1832 debates was the idea that bondage corrupted master and slave alike. Many of the calls to end slavery argued that it had weakened the work ethic among whites and that it hamstrung Virginia’s economy.

William Brodnax, a delegate from Dinwiddie County who led the militia that put down Turner’s rebellion, owned more than 100 slaves but argued to the Assembly that the institution had caused “the decay of our prosperity, and the retrograde movement of this once flourishing Commonwealth.”

Brodnax submitted a detailed plan for abolition and resettlement. He would have charged a tax of 30 cents per white person and used the proceeds to relocate 6,000 free and formerly enslaved black people from Virginia every year. He calculated that “in less than 80 years there would not be left a single slave or free negro in all Virginia.”

As racist as the Randolph and Brodnax plans were, they were benign compared with the rhetoric that flowed from the other side. The revolutionary ideals of freedom and equality that flowered in Virginia had become twisted and gnarled.

William Roane, a delegate from Hanover County and the grandson of Patrick Henry, argued that slavery was an inescapable fact of human society. “I think slavery [is] as much a correlative of liberty as cold is of heat,” he said. Or if that’s not stark enough for you: “The torch of liberty has ever burnt brightest when surrounded by the dark and filthy, yet nutritious atmosphere of slavery.”

Root said that kind of sentiment was what drew him to study the Virginia debates. “I was looking at the drift from the American founders, the drift from the Declaration,” he said. “And, in Virginia in this one moment, you had a prime chance to do something that may have staved off the Civil War.”

But this was not the founding generation of Virginia leaders. Slave owners from Tidewater held most of the power in the legislature. West of the Blue Ridge Mountains, whites were much more indifferent toward or even opposed to slavery — leading to the eventual separation of West Virginia during the Civil War.

Instead of rising to the founding principles of freedom for all, Virginia’s lawmakers stooped to a new idea of slavery as a positive good. Thomas Dew, who at the time was a professor at the College of William & Mary, wrote an essay called “Review of the Debate in the Virginia Legislature,” arguing that blacks and whites could never live together, that slavery was just part of human existence and that everyone was better off because of it.

Over the next 30 years, his essay became a major underpinning of the case for secession.

Ultimately, the General Assembly passed a resolution that was impotent with compromise. While it acknowledged “the great evils arising from the condition of the coloured population of this commonwealth,” it concluded that it was “inexpedient for the present, to make any legislative enactments for the abolition of slavery.”

Having come so close and failed, the legislature followed up by passing a slate of harsh restrictions on people of color, free and enslaved. They cracked down, for example, against preaching, gathering to worship and learning to read.

The outcome managed to “put Revolutionary-era dreams of a free Virginia firmly in the past,” Wolf wrote.

With that passing, of course, the way was cleared for Virginia’s role as the capital of the Confederacy.

In Southampton County, where Nat Turner carried out his rebellion, generations of residents have struggled with how to regard the bloody chapter of their history. Rick Francis, who is white and who lost several ancestors to Turner’s men, said it’s important to remember the impact of the rebellion. That gives him a sense of pride mixed with tragedy.

“Insurrection got it close, got it tight, but nobody could carry it across the finish line and end slavery,” Francis said. “We became in tune with the hardcore slave states from that point on. And we lost our opportunity to end slavery. But the insurrection got us to a point closer than we’d ever been before.”

READ MORE AT: https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2019/06/01/birthplace-american-slavery-debated-abolishing-it-after-nat-turners-bloody-revolt/?utm_term=.f0a779da64f1

The Nation’s Top Black-Owned Financial Services 2019 Revealed

by  Selena Hill
June 26, 2019

The BE financial services companies include the largest black banks, investment banks, asset managers, and private equity firms. These companies manage trillions of assets as they diversify the capital markets and serve the needs of individual and institutional clients from Wall Street to Silicon Valley.

RANKCOMPANIESREVENUES ($M)
1OneUnited Bank656.198
2Liberty Bank and Trust Co.591.541
3Carver Bancorp Inc. (Carver Federal Savings Bank) *590.000
4Industrial Bank433.851
5Citizens Bancshares Corp. (Citizens Trust Bank) *411.073
6Broadway Financial Corp. (Broadway Federal Bank) *407.170
7Harbor Bankshares Corp. (The Harbor Bank of Maryland)282.599
8First Independence Bank257.244
9M&F Bancorp Inc. (Mechanics & Farmers Bank)257.200
10City National Bank of New Jersey167.570
11GN Bank**139.902
12Citizens Savings Bank & Trust Co.103.080
13Unity National Bank93.832
14Tri-State Bank of Memphis82.336
15Commonwealth National Bank47.261

READ MORE AT: https://www.blackenterprise.com/be100s/financialservices/

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About the BE 100s Listing of the Largest Black-Owned Businesses

by  Selena Hill
June 26, 2019

From technology and manufacturing to food services and media, these companies represent the revenue and employment leaders of black business as well as its greatest innovators. Top 100 companies have also demonstrated economic impact by producing more than $25 billion in revenues and employed more than 70,000 workers.

FULL LIST

RANKCOMPANIESREVENUES ($M)
1World Wide Technology Inc.11,287.419
2Act 1 Group2,800.000
3Bridgewater Interiors L.L.C.1,969.340
4Coca-Cola Beverages Florida L.L.C.1,310.000
5Modular Assembly Innovations L.L.C.1,042.690
6Bridgeman Foods *870.000
7Thompson Hospitality Corp.760.000
8The Anderson-DuBose Co.702.856
9Urban One Inc.**440.041
10Hightowers Petroleum Co.434.265
11Fair Oaks Farms L.L.C.342.000
12Millennium Steel Service L.L.C.311.842
13Global Automotive Alliance Corp.274.800
14Millennium Steel of Texas266.023
15Adams Communication & Engineering Technology Inc.253.000
16Baldwin Richardson Foods Co.252.000
17Bird Electric237.890
18Georgetown Metal Processing L.L.C.235.000
19Devon Industrial Group L.L.C.234.000
20Salamander Hotels & Resorts212.727
21Harris & Ford L.L.C.206.000
22Health Resources Inc.204.283
23Trillion Communications Corp.191.000
24Diversant L.L.C.190.000
25H. J. Russell & Co.178.151
26Blue Spring Metals L.L.C.173.000
27Jackmont Hospitality Inc.165.900
28Sun State International Trucks L.L.C.148.500
29Chemico L.L.C.146.000
30James Group International Inc.138.000
31Systems Electro Coating L.L.C.131.175
32Powers & Sons Construction Co. Inc.118.070
33Advantage Living Centers***114.000
34PRWT Services Inc.108.747
35K. Neal Truck & Bus Center****103.500
36The Lewis Group L.L.P.101.858
37Epitec Inc.98.100
38Systems Automotive Interiors L.L.C.97.025
39Summus Industries Inc.96.910
40New Horizon Baking Co.†96.540
41MINACT Inc.94.569
42Mays Chemical Co. Inc.92.700
43Diversity Vuteq92.000
44V & J Holding Cos. Inc.89.000
45Engineering Design Technologies Inc.86.759
46Raven Transport Co. Inc.83.677
47All American Meats Inc.81.220
48Beauchamp Distributing Co.80.809
49Systems Application and Technologies Inc. (SA-TECH)79.000
50Neta Scientific Inc.76.625
51IMB Development Corp.76.000
52Harpo Inc.72.000
53Tolston Holding L.L.C69.450
54Arcade Travel Inc. ††69.287
55Parrish Restaurants Ltd.67.226
56Overland-Tandberg67.000
56The Client Base Funding Group Inc.†††67.000
58UJAMAA Construction Inc.65.000
59Benton-Georgia L.L.C.63.000
60Rocket Lawyer60.000
61C. D. Moody Construction Co. Inc.58.000
62MCLJASCO Inc. 52.336
63Frontier Development & Hospitality Group LLC51.000
64McKissack & McKissack50.000
64The Will Group50.000
66IAP Government Services Group/IAP Design Build L.L.C.††††46.000
67Oakland Consulting Group Inc.42.693
68TME Enterprises 1 Ltd.‡40.779
69w3r Consulting40.000
70Advanced Systems Development Inc.37.538
71General Microsystems Inc.36.800
72B & S Electric Supply Co. Inc.35.483
73Keystone Electrical Manufacturing Co.35.200
74Howard Stirk Holdings35.000
75Rickman Enterprise Group L.L.C.34.000
76Golden Krust Franchising Inc.‡‡ 32.702
77Brodie Contractors Inc.31.000
78TAG Holdings L.L.C.30.874
79JMA Solutions L.L.C.30.000
80TW Constructors L.L.C.28.900
81New England Greens L.L.C.‡‡‡24.300
82ChaseSource L.P.23.000
83Signature Packaging and Paper L.L.C.21.658
84Logistics Systems Inc.21.384
85DigiFlight Inc.20.970
86
TD4 Electrical L.L.C.
20.213
87Premier Management Corp.20.000
88Networking Technologies + Support17.279
89Bithgroup Technologies15.000
89Black Enterprise15.000
89Banneker Ventures L.L.C.15.000
92BCT Partners L.L.C.13.650
93Aire Sheet Metal Inc.12.100
94Mosaic Global Transportation Inc.11.474
95Skyline Industries LLC8.000
96Nursez R us 7.000
97The Roberts Cos.6.800
98Sudu Logistics Inc.5.800
99Cerulean Global Services L.L.C.5.000
100Castle Black Construction4.700

READ MORE AT: https://www.blackenterprise.com/be100s/top100/

The Storied History of the Black Press: ‘The Pillars of Black America’s Struggle for Justice’

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent, @StacyBrownMedia

Since the founding of the Black Press 192 years ago, African American-owned newspapers have served their communities in ways that no other publications have.

Historically, these publications have operated on “shoe-string” budgets, are usually understaffed, and also face other severe limitations. Yet, the Black Press always has maintained its mission as the voice of Black America.

That tradition has held true through many transitions and has continued during the 79-year history of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA). The NNPA is the trade organization representing America’s Black-owned newspapers and media companies. The organization’s members serve millions of readers that rely on the Black Press to provide content not regularly found in other media.

For many, the Black Press is just as essential to the culture of the community as the Black church.

“It is undeniable that the Black church and the Black Press have been, and continue to be, the foundational pillars of Black America’s long struggle for freedom, justice, equality and empowerment,” said NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.

“We know first-hand the power of the pen and we remain committed to helping to ensure and to mentor the next generation of freedom-fighting publishers, editors and journalists,” Chavis said.

On March 16, 1827, The Rev. Samuel Cornish and John Russwurm made history by publishing “Freedom’s Journal,” the nation’s first Black newspaper.

NNPA Chairman Dorothy R. Leavell, who publishes the Chicago and Gary Crusader newspapers, has often described “Freedom’s Journal” as courageous and she regularly cites the newspaper’s motto as one that remains a focus of the Black Press today.

“We wish to tell our own story,” Leavell said, quoting Russwurm and Cornish’s mission that, “for too long others have spoken for us, but we wish to tell our own story.”

Circulated in 11 states and in Europe, Canada and Haiti, “Freedom’s Journal” provided international, national and local details pertinent to the Black community. They denounced slavery and lynching and, among the many features that endeared the newspaper to its readers, were African American community-based marriage, birth and death announcements.

Soon, other Black-owned papers like the Savannah Tribune, The Afro-American in Baltimore, the Indianapolis Recorder, and The Philadelphia Tribune began publishing.

Those newspapers and others, like the Pittsburgh Courier, the New Journal and Guide in Virginia, and The Kansas City Call, have maintained the tradition and continue to deliver news and insights today.

The NNPA honors the history and legacy of the Black Press via The Black Press Archives and Gallery of Distinguished Publishers at Howard University.

Each year during Black Press Week in Washington, DC, a NNPA member is posthumously enshrined in the Archives and Gallery.

“It’s so important we remember our past and remember those whose shoulders we stand upon,” Chavis said.

As community-focused publishers, the news that appears in NNPA’s member publications affects the day-to-day lives of their readership. For example, in Dallas, Texas, where voters recently elected a new mayor, U.S. congressman and Dallas County District Attorney.

For many in Dallas’ African American community, these much-needed changes were underscored through the resilient coverage of the city’s Black-owned North Dallas Gazette, which for decades has provided some of the most in-depth coverage of local elections for a publication of its size.

“We regularly inform our readers on the bills and positions offered by our new congressman and last year, we featured several stories on criminal justice and bail reform,” said the paper’s publisher Thurman Jones.

Since its first issue nearly 50 years ago, the South Florida-based Westside Gazette has maintained the high level of professional, insightful and reader-sensitive reporting that has gained the trust and respect of South Florida’s African American community.

Two of its signature events – “Sweet Potato Pie, Politics and Ice Cream,” and “The White Hat Gala,” – have proven a hit throughout the Sunshine State.

“The ‘Sweet Potato Pie, Politics and Ice Cream’ event is where our politicians come out and actually serve the audience sweet potato pie and ice cream,” said Westside Gazette publisher, Bobby Henry.

“It’s really unique and it gives an opportunity for an intimate formal discussion with those who are vying for political position,” he said.

The “White Hat Gala,” counts as a fundraiser for Sickle Cell Disease.

The Toledo Journal Newspaper in Toledo, Ohio, has been publishing since 1975 and, like the content found throughout its pages, its slogan is an attention-grabber: “Everybody is Somebody in The Toledo Journal.”

“This has made a difference in making our Black community feel important,” said the newspaper’s publisher, Sandra S. Stewart.

“Over the years, we have had an impact in the areas of business, political, social, recreational, religious, and sports, in our community. So, our readers believe in us and know we are fair to our community,” she said.

The impact of the legacy, history and challenges met and overcome by members of the Black Press has not been lost on or squandered by today’s NNPA members. While the Black Press has expanded to include cities and communities throughout the country, including New York, Washington, South Carolina, New Orleans, St. Louis, Chicago, Texas, and California, member publishers have continued to live up to the civil rights mantra of “Soldiers without Swords.”

READ MORES AT: https://www.afro.com/the-storied-history-of-the-black-press-the-pillars-of-black-americas-struggle-for-justice/

Pentagon Admitted to Using Black Soldiers as Human Guinea Pigs in WWII

By David Love – June 24, 2015

Pentagon Guinea pigs

Black enlisted men were used as human guinea pigs in chemical experiments during World War II—not by Nazi Germany, but by Uncle Sam.

As was reported by NPR, 60,000 American soldiers were enrolled in a secret chemical weapons testing program in which they were exposed to mustard gas and the chemical agent lewisite, which causes lung irritation and blisters. Moreover, the U.S. Department of Defense conducted the tests based on the race of the soldiers. Black, Japanese-American and Puerto Rican soldiers were locked in a gas chamber and exposed to the chemicals. White soldiers were used as the control group.

“They said we were being tested to see what effect these gases would have on Black skins,” said Rollins Edwards, 93, of Summerville, S.C. “You had no choice. You did not know where you were going. They didn’t tell you anything.”

Edwards says his skin still falls off in flakes as a result of the testing. For years, the World War II veteran carried around a jar full of flakes to convince people that something had happened to him.

Although the Pentagon had admitted as early as 1991 that the Army tested mustard gas on enlisted soldiers during World War II—and the experiment program was officially declassified in 1993—news about the racial targeting of soldiers was kept under wraps until recently.

This revelation that the Army tested chemical weapons on soldiers of color is both troubling and an outrage, but the concept of Black people being used in medical and other experiments is by no means a new phenomenon. There are numerous examples of Black people being used as guinea pigs in unethical medical experiments. Perhaps the most well-known example is the Tuskegee experiment, in which the Tuskegee Institute and the U.S. Public Health Service studied the natural progression of syphilis in 600 Black men, who were never notified of their condition and were not treated. The tests, which began in 1932, did not end until news reports exposed the inhumane and racist practice in 1972.

But there are other cases beyond Tuskegee. For example, in the early 1800s, Sara Baartman, or “Hottentot Venus,” one of two KhoiKhoi women made into freak show attractions in Europe, was subjected to medical experiments. And modern gynecology was the result of torturous gynecological experiments that J. Marion Sims performed on enslaved women without anesthesia.

Rollins Edwards, who lives in Summerville, S.C., shows one of his many scars from exposure to mustard gas in World War II military experiments. More than 70 years after the exposure, his skin still falls off in flakes. For years, he carried around a jar full of the flakes to try to convince people of what happened to him. Source: AMELIA PHILLIPS HALE FOR NPR
Rollins Edwards, who lives in Summerville, S.C., shows one of his many scars from exposure to mustard gas in World War II military experiments. More than 70 years after the exposure, his skin still falls off in flakes. For years, he carried around a jar full of the flakes to try to convince people of what happened to him. Source: AMELIA PHILLIPS HALE FOR NPR

At the turn of the century, the U.S. Public Health Service conducted experiments on Black prisoners suffering from pellagra, which is a B-13 or niacin deficiency leading to sensitivity to sunlight skin lesions, dementia and death. In 1945, 53-year-old truck driver, Ebb Cabe, was injected with plutonium by the U.S. Atomic Agency after he was taken to the hospital and kept there for six months following a car accident. Cabe received 40 times the amount of plutonium—the key ingredient for a nuclear bomb—a typical person is exposed to over the course of a lifetime. He died eight years later of heart failure.

During the 1950s, the CIA and the U.S. military released half a million mosquitoes with yellow and dengue fever into Black Florida communities, leading to multiple illnesses and deaths. The government wanted to assess the use of mosquitoes as military weapons. Also in that decade, Henrietta Lacks became the first test subject on cloning, without her knowledge or permission, with 20 tons of her cells grown since her death.

During the 1950s and 1960s, poor Black St. Louis neighborhoods were used in Cold War experiments in which the Army, using aerosol blowers mounted on vehicles and rooftops, sprayed a radiation-laced toxin called zinc cadmium sulfide, a fluorescent powder. Thousands likely inhaled the toxins.

In the 1990s, children in Los Angeles were injected with an experimental measles vaccine unapproved by the FDA, and one which had developed a bad reputation for increasing high death rates in Haiti, Guinea Bissau and Senegal.

Between 2006 and 2010, 148 female prisoners in two California prisons—the majority Black and Latino— were sterilized without their consent. Meanwhile, Israel subjected African immigrant women to mandatory contraceptive injections of Depo-Provera, leading to a 20 percent birth rate decline for Ethiopian Israelis.

In 2000, federally funded researchers placed sludge from a sewage treatment plant on lawns and vacant lots in Baltimore and East St. Louis. The communities were told the toxic waste was safe. And in 2012, at least 500 children in Chad were given MenAfriVac—whose side effects include convulsions and paralysis— without notification or parental consent.

Rollins Edwards as a young soldier in 1945 at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. Source: AMELIA PHILLIPS HALE FOR NPR
Rollins Edwards as a young soldier in 1945 at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. Source: AMELIA PHILLIPS HALE FOR NPR

In addition, the CDC hid evidence that Black babies had more than triple the chance of developing autism if they were given an experimental measles vaccine before the age of three.

For years, the Black community has warned of conspiracies against their communities, and were told they were neurotic and imagining things. But as the latest news from the Pentagon shows us, these conspiracies are not theories but reality.

Ghana Rated The Fastest Growing Economy In The World

By Lorine Towett April 20, 2019

Latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) report has rated Ghana as the fastest growing economy in the world. While this is the case for Ghana, IMF notes that many other African countries lag far behind.

IMF predicts that Ghana’s economy will grow at 8.8 percent in 2019, a growth rate it says is the fastest in the world. IMF attributes the projections to Ghana’s improved macroeconomic performance for the last two years and the strong economic growth in 2018 .Last year, Ghana’s economy grew by 5.6 percent, putting it in sixth position.

Ghana is closely followed by its neighbor Ivory Coast with 7.5 percent, and Ethiopia with 7.7 percent. The growth rate of these two countries from 2018 to 2020 appears to be consistent, while Ghana’s growth is predicted to decline again in 2020.

Apart from Ghana and Ivory Coast, South Sudan, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Senegal, also top the list of the fastest growing economies in the world according to the IMF report.

While oil is said to be the sector that is driving Ghana’s economy, other sectors like agriculture, manufacturing and services have shown positive growth. This is according to one Adu Owusu Sarkodie from the University of Ghana. He however still maintains that the main source of growth is the oil sector. “We have discovered new oil fields and companies have started operating, they have intensified their operations,” he said in an interview with DW. Also Read:AfDB Approves USD 14 Mn For Francophone West African SMEs

Papa Ndiaye, Head of the Regional Studies Devision at the IMF’s African Department had dissenting views regarding Ghana’s growth rate. “We don’t expect this growth rate (of 8.8 percent) to be sustained over the medium term. And when you look at it in per capita, that is still smaller than what countries like China have experienced in the past.” Ndiaye said adding that Ghana’s economic growth is expected to slow to a level of around 4.5 to 5 percent.

One Neville Mandimika, an analyst with the Rand Merchant Bank is also of the view that IMF’s projection is “way too generous”.

The Nana Akufo-Addo-led state has a thriving agriculture sector. Not long ago, 200,000 farmers received improved seeds and fertilizers hence increased yields. The sector remains a major backbone of Ghana’s economy. According to Agriculture Minister Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the backup given to the sector has given itva major boost. “We are expecting a bumper crop because of the impact that this great program has had on agriculture, even in its infancy,” he said.

In the IMF list, Angola came last on the list of African countries and economic growth rate has been predicted to be 0.4 percent. Last year it suffered a decline of 1.7 percent. South Africa’s growth rate has been projected to be only 1.2 percent, an increase of 0.4 percent from that of 2018. Resource-rich Nigeria will have a growth rate of 2.1 percent according to the report.

Innovation’ is viewed as a key driver of economic growth. Economists say the development and use of innovations enables firms to increase their productivity, which in turn leads to higher Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Ghana is keen to boost technological innovations and get more young people involved in sustaining and improving the country’s economic performance.

Innovation is especially key for low-income countries. It has been debated before that without innovation, low-income states will not move away from low-productivity.

Ghana has experience significant economic growth and is now categorised as a low-middle-income country but until recently it was ranked a low-income country.

https://weetracker.com/2019/04/20/imf-report-ranks-ghana-fastest-growing-economy-world/

The Ida B. Wells Society provides investigative reporter training to Black journalists

Lauren Poteat Apr 25, 2019

Ida B. Wells
Photo: Ida B. Wells Society

It’s no secret that Black journalists are underrepresented within newsrooms across the nation — especially in terms of specialized investigative journalism.

In March, a dispute between CNN and the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) went viral after NABJ, the Congressional Black Caucus, Color of Change, the National Newspaper Publishers Association and the NAACP called out CNN’s president, Jeff Zucker, over the network’s scarcity of Blacks in senior management positions within the company’s news department.

The dispute brings national attention to the lack of newsroom diversity and inclusion that exists within most news organizations across the country.

Challenging these disparities and presenting new opportunities for journalists of color, the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, is embarking on a nationwide training program. The program’s primary goal is the development of Black investigative journalists, the specialty where Blacks are most underrepresented within newsrooms throughout the United States.

“In a time when mainstream newsrooms remain disproportionately white, where racial inequality continues to permeate every aspect of American life, and where investigative coverage of racial injustice is still lacking, the Ida B. Wells Society hopes to help steer more journalists towards the tradition of our spiritual founder,” reads a passage from the Society’s creation story.

Ida B. Wells was an iconic Black female journalist whose investigative reporting exposed lynching in the late 1800s on a national and international level. The society that bears her name and whose motto is “Be Twice as Good” recently hosted an investigative journalism workshop at Morgan State University, a historically Black university in Baltimore, Maryland. The workshop will be repeated in other locations throughout the country throughout the year.

“Bringing programs like this is important to our institution,” Hamil Harris, former Washington Post reporter and current Morgan State University Journalism Professor stated. “I really enjoyed being able to see different generations come together with a similar purpose of engaging and talking investigative journalism. This was an excellent session and I think everyone involved got a lot out of it.”

Delving into topics that included: sourcing techniques, paper trails, leveraging state and federal Freedom of Information Acts (FOIA), gun reporting and effective ways to pitch and manage projects, the two-day training session was led by the Society’s Co-Founder and a current International Investigations Editor for the Associated Press, Ron Nixon, who emphasized preparation.

“I could talk to you all day about various reporting techniques, but if you don’t have the background research, it’s all just kind of a waste,” Nixon stated.

“Know your subject. Research their backgrounds, what they did and what they do. This will help when figuring out their motivation for even being interviewed and always practice your questions…this will allow you more opportunities when asking questions.”

The training concluded with an in depth review of data journalism, a specialty area that is often overlooked but necessary for precise and accurate story-telling.

Future training session locations will be held at the Center for Investigative Reporting in Berkeley, California (April 25), and the Seattle Times, in Seattle, Washington (July 12–13).

READ MORE AT: https://www.phillytrib.com/news/across_america/the-ida-b-wells-society-provides-investigative-reporter-training-to/article_bda0913c-d18d-571c-b96b-699d712946e9.html

‘We’re not a dump’ – poor Alabama towns struggle under the stench of toxic landfills


“That smell … it makes you want to vomit. The pecan trees, they don’t bear anymore,” said Esther Calhoun, a longtime resident of Uniontown. Photograph: Lynsey Weatherspoon/The Guardian

Oliver Millman

Selma, Alabama

West Jefferson, Alabama, a somnolent town of around 420 people north-west of Birmingham, was an unlikely venue to seize the national imagination. Now, it has the misfortune to be forever associated with the “poop train”.

David Brasfield, a retired coalminer who has lived in West Jefferson for 45 years, thought at first the foul stench came from the carcass of a shot pig. By the time he realized that human feces was being transported from 1,000 miles away to a nearby landfill site, a scene of biblical pestilence was unfolding upon West Jefferson.

“The odor was unbearable, as were the flies and stink bugs,” said Brasfield, who sports a greying handlebar moustache and describes himself as a conservative Republican. “The flies were so bad that you couldn’t walk outside without being inundated by them. You’d be covered in all sorts of insects. People started getting headaches, they couldn’t breathe. You wouldn’t even go outside to put meat on the barbecue.”

The landfill, called Big Sky Environmental, sits on the fringes of West Jefferson and is permitted to accept waste from 48 US states. It used a nearby rail spur to import sewage from New York and New Jersey. This epic fecal odyssey was completed by trucks which took on the waste and rumbled through West Jefferson – sometimes spilling dark liquid on sharp turns – to the landfill.

Outrage at this arrangement reached a crescendo in April last year when Jefferson county, of which West Jefferson is part, barred the landfill operator from using the rail spur. Malodorous train carriages began backing up near several neighbouring towns.

“Oh my goodness, it’s just a nightmare here,” said Heather Hall, mayor of Parrish, where the unwanted cargo squatted for two months. “It smells like rotting corpses, or carcasses. It smells like death.”

Residents started hounding the phone lines of elected officials and showed up at public meetings with bags of dead flies. One man described the smell as similar to “25,000 people taking a dump around your house”. The growing national media attention eventually stung New York and New Jersey, which halted convoys of human waste to the site.

But while the distress lifted from West Jefferson, other communities across Alabama struggle forlornly in a miasma of nearby landfills. Alabama has gained a reputation as the dumping ground of the US, with toxic waste from across the country typically heaped near poor, rural communities, many with large African American populations.

Alabama has a total of 173 operational landfills, more than three times as many as New York, a state with a population four times greater but with just 54 dumps. California – three times larger than Alabama and containing eight people for every Alabamian – has just a handful more landfills than the southern state.

“You take a poor rural area, take advantage of the people and turn their farming land into a dumping ground so a few people can make a profit,” said Nelson Brooke, head of the Black River Riverkeeper organization. “Parts of our state have been turned into a toilet bowl and there isn’t the political spine to stop it.”

Many of the largest landfills are clustered in a region known as the Black Belt, a stretch of counties around Alabama’s midriff named initially for its fertile topsoil but latterly known for the tenant farmers and sharecroppers that helped form the basis of its large black population today.

The low land values and extreme poverty of the region make it a magnet for landfills, with waste hauled in from across the country for as little as $1 a ton. Acceptance of landfills is delegated to counties, causing potential conflicts of interest with local officials involved in waste disposal. Residents are often blindsided by the appearance of new dumps.

“A continual refrain for decades in Alabama is that politicians are selling out the people,” said Conner Bailey, an academic at Auburn University. “It’s a long tradition.

A crucible of the civil rights movement – from the Selma-to-Montgomery march to the Rosa Parks-inspired bus boycotts to the Birmingham church bombing – Alabama’s racial disparity in pollution exposure has become only more stark.

A landfill near Emelle in Sumter county, where the neighbouring community is about 90% black and a third of people live in poverty, at one point accepted 40% of all hazardous waste disposed in the US. Anniston, Alabama, where half the residents are black, won a high-profile settlement from Monsanto after the dumping of so much PCBs, chemicals linked to cancers and liver damage, that a local creek turned red.

“There are still major problems in Alabama resulting from environmental injustice and there does not appear to be will on part of its government to reverse these problems,” said Ryke Longest, a law professor at Duke University.

“Alabama’s history with Jim Crow and preservation of segregation as well as suppressing voting rights made these problems worse by segregating communities and disenfranchising black Americans in their communities.”

Many homes near the sprawling Stone’s Throw landfill, east of Montgomery, are now abandoned. The landfill, which can accept 1,500 tons of construction debris, ash, asbestos, sludge and other material each day, is located in the Ashurst Bar/Smith community, which is around three-quarters African American. Advertisement Sponsored by Arm and Hammer

“It’s almost unbearable to live there, even three miles away my eyes burn and I get nauseous,” said Phyllis Gosa, now retired and living in Selma but still visits family who have owned property in the community since the end of slavery. “It’s our heritage, we are losing who we are. When it comes to people of color, we are still three-fifths of a human being. The 14th amendment doesn’t apply to us. That’s who Alabama is, that’s its legacy.”

Ron Smith, a neighbour and pastor, said there is pressure on black families to sell devalued land to the expanding landfill. He grows blueberries in his back yard but is uncertain if he should eat them. “Our government picked an area where people couldn’t defend themselves,” he said. “This is the perfect area.”

Unlike the 1960s civil rights push, there has been no federal savior. In April 2017 a group of residents claimed that Alabama’s tolerance of the Stone’s Throw landfill had caused chronic illnesses such as asthma and cancer, pungent smells and water pollution, thereby breaching the Civil Rights Act’s prohibition of race-based discrimination.

In December, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided there was “insufficient evidence” for the complaint despite finding that the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) hadn’t properly enforced a requirement that six inches of covering soil be placed upon landfill waste every day. ADEM wrote to the landfill, also in December, scolding it for excessive discharges of copper, oil, grease and “suspended solids” between 2016 and 2018.

However, while the EPA found “a preponderance of the evidence that a lack of enforcement did result in adverse impacts”, other, white-majority, communities also live under this inadequate regime, meaning the blight couldn’t be defined as racist.

The finding follows a familiar pattern by the EPA: the agency’s civil rights office went 22 years without deciding that discrimination laws were broken, despite hundreds of complaints.

More than 40 black residents have now turned to the courts, suing Advanced Disposal Services, which operates Stone’s Throw, and two water utilities for allowing heavy metals, E coli and a cocktail of harmful chemicals to leach into the water supply and, they claim, cause their abdominal cancers.

“Alabama seems to have an inordinate number of these big landfills that have created a variety of problems,” said Ted Mann, the attorney representing the residents. Mann, an Alabamian Democrat who has an abstract painting of Abraham Lincoln in his Birmingham office, said his clients feel “trapped”.

“ADEM doesn’t do much of anything,” he said. “Underfunded, understaffed and woefully and inadequately involved in the environmental issues in our state.”

The crossover between pollution and racism “is hard to not see”, Mann said. “If you see it and you ignore it, it’s because you just want to ignore it.”

Other communities aren’t able to muster legal recourse. Uniontown, half an hour west of the civil rights touchstone of Selma, is a place where nine out of 10 residents are black and the median household income is $14,000 a year. Uniontown’s roads are derelict, the only grocery store closed last year and its elementary school can only afford to educate children up to grade three.

Uniontown is also home to the Arrowhead landfill, an artificial green mountain twice the size of New York’s Central Park that looms over the tumbledown town. It can accept up to 15,000 tons of waste a day, from 33 states. In 2012, ADEM allowed Arrowhead to expand in size by two-thirds.

A group of residents have spent the past decade complaining about a smell similar to rotten eggs coming from the landfill, as well as the site’s coal ash for causing an array of health problems, such as sore throats and nosebleeds (Arrowhead said that no coal ash has been delivered to the landfill since 2010).

The landfill is a “huge hill in the midst of the community,” said Esther Calhoun, who has lived in Uniontown most of her life. “That smell … it makes you want to vomit. The pecan trees, they don’t bear any more. Even the garden that I had, we don’t use it any more.”

But in March last year, a few months before its similar Civil Rights Act decision over Stone’s Throw, the EPA ruled that Uniontown has not been subjected to “a prima facie case of discrimination.”

This knockback has shrouded Uniontown in fatalistic hopelessness, according to local activists. “They are trying to break our spirit,” said Ben Eaton, a retired teacher who speaks in a rumbling baritone and moves around with the aid of a walker. Eaton, now a county commissioner, had just come from a meeting where Arrowhead was asked to pay some fees up front so the county could afford an ambulance service.

“It’s a sort of learned helplessness,” he said. “People are hanging on by a thread right now. Well, my folks have always taught me to go down fighting, even if you go down.”

Mike Smith, an attorney for Arrowhead, said neither ADEM nor the EPA have ever found excessive odor, air pollution or water contamination. “The residents you may have spoken to have been offered multiple opportunities, both formal and informal, to present any evidence of pollution and have failed to do so,” he said.

Smith added that the Uniontown community and surrounding Perry county “benefit substantially” from jobs and “host fee” payments provided by Arrowhead, with the landfill also sponsoring school supplies for the past decade.

ADEM insists it has environmental justice top of mind in its regulatory activities, with a spokeswoman stating the agency went “above and beyond” its legal requirements when consulting with residents living in West Jefferson, Uniontown and Ashurst Bar/Smith.

“The department is confident that it has the resources and statutory authorization to properly regulate and monitor landfills in Alabama to ensure the protection of human health and the environment,” the spokeswoman added.

But even in West Jefferson, where the “poop train” was defeated, there is little hope of a lasting resolution in the tensions between the desire to generate income and community concern over quality of life.

In July, ADEM handed the Big Sky Environmental landfill a five-year extension to its permit. ADEM has also proposed changing the rules so that permits last for 10 rather than five years and has rescinded its environmental discrimination procedures, claiming its existing complaints process is sufficient.

“Let every state take care of their own trash but don’t bring it to Alabama,” said David Brasfield, the retired miner. “We just don’t need it. We’re better than that. We’re not a dump.

“But it will happen again if we let it. We cannot forget it and put it out of our minds. This is my home and I plan on defending it.”

READ MORE AT: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/apr/15/were-not-a-dump-poor-alabama-towns-struggle-under-the-stench-of-toxic-landfills

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As Black Activists Protested Police Killings, Homeland Security Worried They Might Join ISIS

Alice Speri
The Intercept

April 8 2019, 8:23 a.m.

As nationwide protests against police killings of black men began rolling across the country in 2014, federal and local law enforcement who were closely monitoring protesters’ online activities repeatedly expressed a bizarre concern: that the mostly black activists demanding an end to police violence in the U.S. might join with Islamic fundamentalist groups promoting violence abroad.

That concern was unequivocally baseless, and no evidence ever emerged to substantiate it. Still, documents obtained by the government transparency group Property of the People, which were shared exclusively with The Intercept, reveal that officials with the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence exaggerated the significance of isolated social media activity, mostly by foreign accounts, advocating for a connection between the domestic movement against police brutality and foreign terrorism.

In intelligence reports and internal communications circulated around the time of the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and the 2015 Baltimore protests following the death in custody of Freddie Gray, DHS officials fretted that the Islamic State might attempt “to use the situation in Ferguson as a recruitment tool” or call on “Baltimore rioters to join them.” And in July 2016, during nationwide protests against the police killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, a cabinet position, circulated a memo warning that a lone, foreign pro-Al Qaeda Facebook user sought to seize on the protests to urge “‘Black’ Americans to take up arms” and “start armed war against the US government.

A Fixation Born of Bias

These official warnings that U.S. activism against police violence might be exploited as a recruitment opportunity by violent foreign terrorist groups slightly preceded the FBI’s designation of a “Black Identity Extremist” domestic terrorism category, which essentially cast large numbers of the same black activists as potential homegrown violent extremists. As The Intercept has reported, the FBI’s “Black Identity Extremism” label, while first used in a 2017 threat assessment report, originated on the heels of the Ferguson protests, and the first individual the FBI designated as a “black identity extremist” was a young Ferguson protester the agency had entrapped. But just as there is no evidence that a “Black Identity Extremist” ideology actually exists, there is also no evidence that U.S. activists ever saw or in any way responded to sporadic social media calls to join foreign fundamentalist Islamic groups.

If anything, critics say, law enforcement’s fixation on that nonexistent connection is testimony to both their anti-black and anti-Muslim bias.

“They try to make it more scary, it’s like, ‘If we link Islam to it, and we link Muslims to it, then people will see this as a real threat, because nothing is scarier than Muslims,’” Umar Lee, a well-known St. Louis activist, who is Muslim, told The Intercept, referring to the movement for black lives that started in Ferguson. “Nothing is scarier than, ‘Hey, if the Muslims get together with these scary black dudes, then we got a real problem, so we need every resource available to stop this.’”

“They already have a massive amount of funding to do quote unquote counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism, and all these other things that they do,” Lee noted, referring to well-funded domestic intelligence initiatives that have primarily targeted U.S. Muslims. “And they come up empty because the reality is that there are very few, hardly any people that are engaged in these activities.”

Civil rights advocates maintain the documents’ message is both baseless and dangerous.

“Blackness and Muslim identity have been cast as threatening since America’s founding,” said Omar Farah, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, which sued the FBI and DHS to obtain more information about its surveillance of black activists. “No surprise, then, that these documents reveal near obsessive fear of their intersection.”

“It’s inflammatory,” echoed Nusrat Choudhury, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Racial Justice Program. “Just because members of foreign organizations are calling on domestic protesters to join their movements, that does not show those people in the United States are posing any threat of violence.”

The ACLU, which together with the Center for Media Justice also sued the FBI to obtain more information about the secretive “Black Identity Extremism” label, warned that casting individuals who express legitimate grievances as “extremists” risks exposing them to police harassment and stifling a movement that is badly needed. “There are long-standing, deep, structural, racial injustices in America, and people are allowed to call on this country to do better,” Choudhury said. “They’re allowed to do it under our Constitution, and frankly we need them to do it, because that is what has always led to racial justice in America.”

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence did not respond to a request for comment from The Intercept. DHS declined to comment on the record.

Fictional Connections to International Terrorism

The documents obtained via public records requests by Property of the People supplement similar documents previously made public by CCR and the racial justice group Color of Change. The earlier set of documents includes Islamophobic press coverage shared by DHS officials during the Baltimore protests, such as a Fox News story claiming that “Muslim groups seek to co-opt Ferguson protests” and an op-ed warning that the Islamic State, “which has stunned the world for its filmed beheadings and abuse of non-Muslims, is looking to capitalize on growing racial tension in the American city by claiming there is ‘no difference between black and white’ in their society.” It also includes an FBI situation report, issued less than two weeks into the Ferguson protests, warning that “ISIS supporters are urging Ferguson protestors to embrace radical Islam and engage in further violence. They are also reportedly telling any ISIS supporters in the US to travel to Ferguson.”

“Senior federal law enforcement assessing hysterical tabloids about ISIS co-opting the Ferguson protests is foolish,” said CCR’s Farah. “It would be comical if there weren’t dangerous implications for people of color and Muslims who speak out for justice only to be met with militarized police responses.”

The new set of documents, a selection of which The Intercept is publishing with this story, includes more internal assessments and emails exchanged by federal and law enforcement officials between 2014 and 2016.

In a partially redacted document marked for “DHS internal use only,” circulated days after a grand jury in Missouri declined to indict officer Darren Wilson for Brown’s killing, officials warned that “a purported fighter with the Islamic state, posted two images earlier today regarding Ferguson calling for the protesters to swear loyalty to the Islamic State.” The document also noted that the images were “making their rounds on English-language support accounts for the Islamic State,” though it made no mention of whether anyone affiliated with the Ferguson protests actually saw or responded to them.

DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis Ferguson Protests November 20142 pages

In another redacted DHS intelligence document, released at the height of the 2015 Baltimore protests, officials warned that the account of a “presumed USPER,” a term used by intelligence officials to refer to U.S. citizens and residents, had called upon “‘indigenous peoples’ of the Americas and ‘Afro-Americans who are oppressed’ to attack ‘Anglo-American supremacists.’” The report continued: “There were multiple references to the riots in Ferguson, Missouri which was likely designed to resonate with an audience wider than [redacted name] has typically targeted. The messaging reflects

[redacted name’s]

awareness of recent US media coverage of perceived racial and other issues in American society, which the group is trying to exploit.” As in the earlier case, this assessment, too, offers no indication that anyone involved with the protests actually saw the posts.

DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis Baltimore Protests May 20152 pages

In December 2015, in Minneapolis, following the police killing of Jamar Clark, DHS posted a report indicating that it was closely watching the social media accounts of a number of people, and noted that one user “expresses support for Islamic State” and another posted a photo revealing an “Islam Is Life” tattoo. DHS again reported that a “US person posted a call for Islamic State support” in July 2016, days after the police killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling.

DHS Open Source Information Report December 20157 pages

DHS Open Source Information Report July 20162 pages

Shortly after that, as the deaths of Castile and Sterling were followed by deadly attacks on police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a warning based on the Facebook posts of a Bangladesh-based Al Qaeda supporter. The user called on black Americans to draw inspiration from Micah Johnson, who on July 7 had killed five police officers and injured several others at a protest against police brutality in Dallas. “Like the Dallas attacker in US, we appeal to the other negro Americans to jump into the agitation to realize their rights,” the user wrote, according to the intelligence memo. “Pick up arms, like this attacker, against the terrorist US Armed Forces. Fight for your rights.”

Office of the Director of National Intelligence July 20162 pages

The reports quickly trickled down to local law enforcement and fusion centers across the country. In a July 2016 assessment by the Greater Cincinnati Fusion Center, for instance, officials preparing for an upcoming NAACP convention in that city warned that “FTOs such as the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, have encouraged HVEs to conduct attacks within the Homeland,” the memo noted, using acronyms for Foreign Terrorist Organizations and Homegrown Violent Extremists. “These groups use social media to inspire and urge violent extremists to attack targets in the Homeland, including mass gatherings such as the NAACP convention.”

Greater Cincinnati Fusion Center Field Analysis Report July 20167 pages

That assessment listed a number of potential threats to the gathering and included references to a series of recent incidents of white supremacist violence specifically targeting African-Americans. But it also included much vaguer warnings that “ISIL” had recently “released an audio message urging its supporters to launch lone wolf attacks against military and civilian targets within the Homeland.” Theodore Sampson, a member of the fusion center and captain with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, wrote in a statement to The Intercept that the threat assessment, conducted in partnership with DHS, was “intended to support the security and public safety efforts of government agencies and private sector partners in identifying, deterring, preventing, and responding to potential threats during the convention” and that such “threat assessments are designed to look objectively at potential threats towards an event or venue without bias.”

“In 2016, foreign terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and al-Qa‘ida in the Arabian Peninsula had repeatedly called for homegrown violent extremists to conduct attack within the United States.  This messaging was published in al-Qa’ida’s magazine Inspire and ISIL’s Dabiq publication and recordings sent our through the internet and radio.  Additionally, these terrorist organizations and sympathizers utilized social media to encourage attacks within the Homeland,” Sampson wrote. “In this particular threat assessment, the reference to the audio message was to illustrate a recent example of the messaging encouraging lone wolf attacks towards mass gathering events and point out that homegrown violent extremist attacks were a persistent threat to mass gathering events.”

The NAACP, which last month requested that Congress hold hearings on domestic terrorism and “the ways in which Black activists are being tracked and monitored by government agencies,” could not immediately be reached for comment.

Absent from all these documents is any evidence that anyone associated with protests in the U.S. had responded to the exhortations of Islamic extremists — or that they had ever even seen those calls in the first place. Still, law enforcement’s close scrutiny of these isolated instances, even when none of them seem to have amounted to anything more substantial than social media posts, and the fact that these calls were prominently included in intelligence assessment reports, risked conflating, in the eyes of law enforcement, legitimate domestic protest with foreign terrorism.

Ryan Shapiro, Property of the People’s executive director, noted that government efforts to denigrate domestic critics by associating them with foreign enemies was an old and tested repressive tactic. “Since even before the FBI was named the FBI, U.S. intelligence agencies have preposterously targeted progressive dissent at home as tied to enemies abroad,” he told The Intercept. “Today’s obscene attempts to link Black Lives Matter to ISIS and Al Qaeda stand on the shoulders of a century of similar efforts to tar American dissent, especially in struggles for racial justice, as fronts for enemy agents.”

Shapiro also noted that the documents showed a propensity by federal law enforcement to base their “open source” intelligence-gathering on the conspiracy theories of conservative news outlets, which officials uncritically circulated during the protests. In addition to Islamophobic coverage, DHS officials shared during the Ferguson and Baltimore protests, for instance, in July 2016 the Office of the Director of National Intelligence circulated news stories, by Fox News and the U.K. tabloid Daily Mail, about a photo posted on Facebook in the aftermath of the Dallas killings that showed “a man dressed in black slashing a uniformed officer’s throat with a knife as blood spills out of the cop’s neck.” By contrast, earlier that summer, DHS officials monitoring protests in Minneapolis had also shared a story by the liberal publication AlterNet revealing that a local police union leader who had called Black Lives Matter a “terrorist organization” had a history of racist attitudes and was connected to a “white power-linked” bike gang. In that case, however, the officer circulating the story added a comment: “This article sounds like a drummed up hit piece to me,” the officer wrote. “But it’s nonetheless interesting to see all the race-related drama in Minneapolis at the moment.”

Office of the Director of National Intelligence Press Clippings July 20167 pages

DHS Press Clippings June 20166 pages

“Homeland Security is basing terrorist intelligence assessments of Black Lives Matter on articles from Fox News and a British tabloid that literally warns of the great menace posed by Putin’s purported army of hypnotic, shapeshifting super squid,” said Shapiro, referring to DHS officials sharing a report about Islamic State members calling on black protesters to join them by the U.K.’s Daily Express, which also published a particularly outlandish story about the Russian president. “Meanwhile,” Shapiro added, “DHS and other U.S. agencies are contorting themselves to ignore clear evidence of the dire threat from the far right.”

Exposing Activists to Serious Risk

Federal officials weren’t the only ones seeking to associate domestic dissent to foreign terrorism. Starting in Ferguson, a number of elected and law enforcement officials across the country referred to protesters not only by using racist terms such as “thugs,” but also, increasingly, by calling them “terrorists,” a reference that the FBI’s “Black Identity Extremism” report only seemed to validate.

Indigenous and environmental rights activists involved in the Standing Rock protest movement were also repeatedly characterized as “terrorists.” As The Intercept reported, private security contractors hired by the oil company behind the Dakota Access pipeline referred to the peaceful protest movement born to oppose the pipeline as a “jihadist insurgency” — and routinely shared intelligence assessments with law enforcement that portrayed activists as dangerous threats.

At Standing Rock, as in Ferguson, those watching the growing protests also paid particular attention to displays of solidarity with Palestine, with private security in North Dakota, for instance, noting that “the presence of additional Palestinians in the camp, and the movement’s involvement with Islamic individuals is a dynamic that requires further examination.”

“To them, a Palestinian flag might as well be an ISIS flag,” said Lee, the Ferguson activist, referring to the baseless conflation of the Palestinian struggle with Islamic extremism.

“It wouldn’t shock me at all to see misinterpretation of symbols, conflation of different groups, of different racial and ethnic and political and religious backgrounds, under this vector of challenging a Muslim boogeyman,” echoed Choudhury. “It’s absurd.”

FERGUSON, UNITED STATES - AUGUST 16:  A protester waves Palestinian flag in solidarity with Gaza as Americans shout slogans and hold banners during a demonstration against the death of eighteen-year-old unarmed teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on August 16, 2014. Brown, allegedly stole some cigars, shot dead by police in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri on August 09, 2014. (Photo by Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

A protester waves a Palestinian flag in solidarity with Gaza during a demonstration after the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 16, 2014.

Photo: Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Choudhury, who for years has worked to expose an FBI “racial and ethnic mapping program,” noted that following the 9/11 attacks, the ACLU has obtained a number of intelligence documents that revealed the surveillance of Muslim, Arab, Middle Eastern, and South Asian groups, premised on what she called a “totally unsubstantiated” recruitment threat from foreign Islamist groups. The ACLU, she added, also exposed intelligence training material filled with racial stereotypes about people of Arab descent and Muslims, showing the agency’s profound ignorance about the very people it was surveilling.

But while there was never any evidence that foreign extremists’ isolated appeals to U.S. activists had any effect, critics said the mere suggestion exposed those activists to serious risk.Join Our NewsletterOriginal reporting. Fearless journalism. Delivered to you.I’m in

“That is the inevitable result of the creation of such a flawed intelligence product, that it inspires fear, and that it is going to lead to federal and state and local law enforcement’s targeting of black activists based on nothing close to wrongdoing or violence,” said Choudhury. “It’s very dangerous, because it leads to this kind of targeting of human beings here in America, who are calling for equality and justice, just because there are other threats abroad.”

Lee, the St. Louis activist, said that during the Ferguson protests, online trolls and conservative commentators especially targeted him and a couple of other Muslim activists with smear campaigns and racist and Islamophobic attacks, calling them terrorists and suggesting they were affiliated with Al Qaeda. One such smear, picked up widely by right-wing blogs, accused Lee of “threatening to behead critics.”

“Some of those people were spreading rumors that I was in Ferguson recruiting for ISIS,” Lee told The Intercept, noting that even some fellow protesters, when he once joined a protest right after leaving his mosque and while still wearing a thobe, commented “Here comes ISIS.”

But Lee put the blame for smears and harassment campaigns squarely on government-sanctioned racism. He also pointed to the recent vilification of the black and Muslim Congressperson Ilhan Omar as another example of how ignorant and hate-filled campaigns are enabled by official discourse — whether by law enforcement and intelligence agencies or by lawmakers themselves. “It’s institutionalized Islamophobia,” Lee said. “It’s institutionalized crusader mentality.

READ MORE AT: https://theintercept.com/2019/04/08/black-protesters-terrorism-threat-isis/

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