By: Antone White
The U.S Constitution body of rules and principles endows protections and enforcements of private rights( as to life, liberty and property). The constitution body of rules reposes ultimate power in the people, by the people and for the people of the United States to preserve and maintain a liberty thesis of “Freedom, Justice and Equality”.
The genius of the “Constitution Protection” was established to safeguard its democracy against the will and tyrannical effect of a government to imprison and exercise complete control over its citizens; stemming from the oppression of England’s Star Chamber. The protection ordains that an individual’s life, liberty or property can only be stripped away by due process of law; from results in either a plea of guilt (by the individual) or by a jury of its peers upon proof of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
The foundational role of due process is that all citizens have entitlement to a presumption of innocence! Otherwise, a person may not be convicted of a crime unless the government proves them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; without any burden placed on the accused to prove its innocence. Due process grounds citizens’ the right to a trail by jury. Thereby, according to an underlying provision in the “Due Process Clause” of the U.S Constitution, “ no courts, nor any officer of law may presume a person guilty of a crime enough to demand sanctions ( as to life liberty, or property).
However, congress legislated a policy imputed by the United States Sentencing Commission in 1984; the Federal Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Guidelines. Spanning three decades, almost four, these guidelines have eroded the foundational tenants of America’s Democracy bringing forth a Jim Crow climate that systematically demoralizes criminal defendants “Constitutional Protection”, at sentencing.
At sentencing, the courts are authorized to consider “relevant conduct” for the purpose of calculating the sentencing guidelines, which may include uncharted crimes that otherwise are inadmissible at trial.Even more, the courts are permitted to extract offenses from acquitted and dismissed charges which consequently nullify principles of the 5th Amendment of the constitution that decrees ..” no person shall be held to answer for an infamous crime, unless on the presentment of an indictment of a Grand Jury, nor be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process.
In a constitutional system that relies upon the jury to stand as a great bulwark and neutral arbiter between criminal defendants and government bent on depriving them of their civic duty; hereof, an axiom adhered by Judge Millet of DC Circuit Court of Appeal:
“Allowing courts at sentencing to materially increase the length of imprisonment based on conduct for which the jury acquitted the defendant guts the role of the jury in preserving individual liberty, and preventing oppression by the government”.
The unfairness perpetuated by the use of uncharged, dismissed, and acquitted conduct to heighten criminal defendants sentences in federal court are uniquely malevolent. As well as a dubious infringement of individuals rights to due process and trial by jury.
Imagine the abhorrent act of a man or woman’s sentence being double, triple or virtually scaled to a lifetime of imprisonment for crimes or otherwise conducts for which they were neither charged nor convicted. One wonders what the reaction of the jury would be if the jurors were told at outset:
“If you convict the defendant on one charge, but deadlock or acquit them on the other count, that the court may utilize a different standard of proof and consequently sentence the defendant as though he was convicted of both “
Would this resonate with the jury as being fair and worthwhile of their time and effort while still respecting the admiration for our system of justice? I sincerely doubt it!
For the constitution to have meaning it must not be pure words we recite but also the words we live by as Dr. Martin Luther King Junior emphasize from Birmingham jail or April 16, 1963.
“An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law”
*For more information on the Star Chamber, read article “Star Chamber: How Secret Courts Fuels Mass Incarceration”
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By Elliot Booker — 5 years ago
April 24, 2016 | Written by David Love
In this election season, as the age of Obama comes to end, Black America finds itself at a crossroads. And with the first Black president soon leaving office, the issue of a Black political agenda — or lack thereof — is placed in the spotlight. The questions that arise are whether the two-party system serves the African-American electorate, if Black voters are forced to select between the lesser of two evils, and whether a Black independent political party — or a coalition with other people of color and white progressives – is necessary as a counterweight to donkeys and elephants to ensure that their interests are protected.
At present, Black voters are presented with a Democratic Party that most African-Americans support — even amid decades-long charges that their vote has been taken for granted — and a Republican Party that has emerged as a focal point of white nationalism and is viewed as hostile to Black interests. Meanwhile, within the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders vie for the Black vote and support of the Black Lives Matter movement, with many Black pragmatists attracted to the former, and idealists attracted to the latter. But are African-American interests being served?
The notion of a Black party is by no means a new concept.
As noted by William A. Darity Jr., Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, an independent Black political party was Malcolm X’s objective at the end of his life.
“I think this is the kind of work that we should have been engaged in a long time ago, well prior to Obama’s election as a Democratic Party candidate. We should not have had high expectations of what his candidacy would be because it was squarely within the two-party system,” Darity told Atlanta Black Star. We should have developed a party for a long time.”
Such efforts were attempted. For example, the preamble of the National Black Political Agenda, also known as the Gary Declaration — an outgrowth of the National Black Political Convention of 1972 — states that “all truly black politics, must begin from this truth: The American system does not work for the masses of our people, and it cannot be made to work without radical fundamental change (indeed, this system does not really work in favor of the humanity of anyone in America).”
In 1980, Black nationalists convened to form the National Black Independent Political Party, out of frustration over the Democratic and Republican Parties.
“The National Black Independent Political Party aims to attain power to radically transform the present socio-economic order. That is, to achieve self-determination and social and political freedom for the masses of Black people. Therefore, our party will actively oppose racism, imperialism, sexual oppression, and capitalist exploitation,” its charter stated.
Darity notes that the successes of past third parties have been tied to the personalities of individual candidates such as Ross Perot or John Anderson.
“Their parties were so associated with them that there was no way to sustain them when their candidacy was done,” he said, adding that a viable third party needs its own base and cannot be dependent on an individual candidate. The professor, who focuses on inequality, believes a third party is necessary in addressing the problems faced by African-Americans. He finds the concept of a party focused on social inequality in America “an exciting prospect.”
“It is essential because the national imagination is deeply constrained by the two-party system. There is no effort to solve the degree of racial inequality, joblessness and poverty, and the existing two-party system will not dramatically change those positions,” Darity said.
“One of the obvious issues is, Blacks are an outvoted minority in this country, unlike South Africa, so there would have to be coalition politics. And those coalitions would have to be carefully crafted so they would be in line with our interests,” he noted.
Darity warned, however, that Black people must be careful about what their interests truly are.
“There is a slippery slope of Black people blaming Black people for our condition. It’s what I call the Bill Cosby point of view — the idea that our problems are a consequence of our actions…which is a complete misanalysis,” he argues. “It’s not sufficient that this is anchored around Black folk. The ideological component of that party is crucial also.”
To advance his argument, Darity pointed to his research on the causes of Black disparity, including the finding that Black people who have college degrees have two-thirds of the net worth of whites who never finished high school. Further, studies have shown that Blacks who have finished some college or have an associate’s degree have a higher unemployment rate than whites who dropped out of high school. These studies are a “powerful indicator” of the problems faced by African-Americans not of their making, Darity insists.
Dr. Randall Miller, a historian and professor at St. Joseph’s University, believes the idea of a Black political party — not necessarily an exclusive party but one that “would push the interests of Black people to the forefront, and would drive policy and practice” geared towards African-American concerns — is a good one.
“One could also make the case that in terms of effectiveness, and in terms of unity of interests coming from the Black community — Black Lives Matter a case in point — doing it within the present party structure, at least in the short run, might be the most effective,” Miller told Atlanta Black Star. “There’s a lot of urgency in these issues. What happens historically with third-parties is they are short-lived, and don’t succeed. If organized well enough, they drive certain issues that force people to address them,” he added. “The extent you can mobilize public interests and support could mean one of the two parties would have to take up the issues.”
To make his point, Miller noted how through external pressure from the Civil Rights Movement, and internal pressure from Fannie Lou Hamer and others, the Democratic Party adopted policies of concern to African-Americans.
“The danger in doing so is it co-opts it and mutes it,” Miller said of movements that align with a particular party. Ultimately, he believes that for third-party politics to succeed, a “radical transformation of white views is needed.”
He thinks, however, that there is also much potential for third-party successes on the local level.
According to Vincent Hutchings, Professor, Department of Political Science at the University of Michigan, the challenge for any third-party effort is that the laws as written by the two parties discourage a third party from emerging.
“Unlike other advanced democracies, the U.S. makes it difficult to form a third party,” Hutchings told Atlanta Black Star, noting the winner-take-all system in which a party wins with a majority of the votes and not a plurality.
“The people who are there want to keep it that way,” he said.
Ultimately, because the rules do not favor a third party, “the third party would ultimately have to replace one of the two parties in order for that to happen,” Hutchings added.
Although the prospects are difficult, however, he believes such efforts as a Black independent party should be encouraged.
“A case is to be made for a party outside the Democratic or Republican Party. Just as the system is rigged to prevent the rise of a third party, the system is set up as to not be responsive to the interests of African-Americans,” he noted. “It’s set up in part because of the nature of the electorate. Most of the voters are white, and given the peculiar history of this country, they are not inclined to embrace the sorts of policies that would be necessary to address longstanding racial inequities,” Hutchings said.
Given that the system will make no substantial efforts to address these intractable forms of inequality, Hutchings said, it makes perfect sense to consider political structures outside the traditional two-party system.
“The issues that African-Americans and others face in this country can be described succinctly: For multiple generations, the United States has afforded privileges to people classified as whites. We are not only living with the residue of that, but the process is going on in 2016. The issue is not one about Black disadvantage and inequality, but white advantage and inequality that is sanctioned by the state,” he noted, emphasizing the need to address white supremacy and the privileges afforded to white folks.
“That portion of the population, on balance, will be reluctant to give up that power as a rule. Whites are reluctant to recognize they possess disproportionate advantage and give up anything that would diminish that advantage, and that is whether whites belong to the Republican or Democratic parties,” Hutchings said.
Further, he believes that addressing the concerns of Black people “means taking something away from whites,” which none of the presidential candidates are inclined to do, because “it is not in their political fortunes to do so.”
In addition, the political science scholar views a Black coalition with other groups “as being desirable, though not realistic in the short term.” However, he also noted that “at one time it was unrealistic to consider abolishing slavery or giving women the right to vote. History is peppered with things that were once unrealistic.”
Moreover, there are inherent difficulties to establishing an independent Black party, which would require a great deal of grassroots organizing, funding and internal unity. As Frederick Douglass once said, “If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
For example, as Hurumia Ahati wrote in “An Independent Black Political Party: Posing an Alternative to Asses, Elephants and Rainbows” in the National Black Law Journal in 1988, the party may be labeled as separatist and not desirable for some Black people over being involved in a white-dominated power structure.
Hutchings anticipates some internal barriers to the success of such an organization. “
Other Black people will be resistant,” he contends. “Given the depressed disadvantage of many African-Americans, you understand why they cling their allegiance to the Democratic Party, because the other party wants to make things even worse. So a solution outside the two-party system has some risks. The risk is that the current allegiance to the current Democratic Party might facilitate the success of the Republican Party,” he noted.
“We also risk sticking to the current strategy. Things are bad, the Democrats are not going to make them better, and the Republicans will make them worse. So, pick your poison.”
Join OMCBV&C the movement is now!! Go to http://www.iamoneofthemillion.com/
By Elliot Booker — 1 year ago
“…to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.”
~ Assata Shakur
For the past 65 years, the United States of America has avoided answering for its continued crimes against humanity, through the strategic use of “window-dressing” reforms, and handpicked “Negro” ambassadors. The use of Black entertainers to protect America’s image against foreign accusations of human rights violations, was a strategy devised by the Eisenhower administration during the Cold War.
When we examine the modern day Criminal Justice Reform movement, it readily exposes itself as another attempt by America, to cover its long trail of human rights abuses. The movement, as currently constructed, was birthed in the early 2000’s by the Brookings Institute, and was meant to serve as a Democratic Party, policy carrot, during the 2004 election. As fate would have it, this initial push for criminal justice reform was drowned out by the sound of the nations war drums, and wouldn’t be picked up again for more than a decade.
During Barack Obama’s 2nd term in office, the issue of Criminal Justice Reform was put back on the table as a strategic policy baton (i.e. hand-off to Hillary Clinton), for succession planning. Rapper Jay Z, having replaced Reverend Al Sharpton, as Black America’s #1 surrogate for the Democratic Party, was at the forefront of the newly revived, Brookings Institute, reform discussions. Serving as Barack Obama’s Chief Hip Hop Ambassador, Jay Z was given unprecedented access to the Democratic Party’s media outlets, to lead the public discussion on the need for reform.
Jay Z, like Eisenhower’s “Jazz Ambassadors” before him, has very little awareness of how his hard-won political capital, within the Black Community, is being mined for the political gold needed to finance the Democratic Party’s domestic and foreign agenda. On the local level, neoliberal criminal justice reform was needed as the policy center-piece for the 2016 presidential platform of Hillary — My Prisoners at the Governor’s Mansion — Clinton.
It was strategic enough, as a policy, to ingratiate Hillary Clinton with the Black community — by presenting it as something she was “doing for us” — while at the same time it could be pitched as non-race-specific policy, to avoid alienating the Democratic Party’s, racist, white voter base.
To add even more weight behind this political gambit, Obama summoned his version of Eisenhower’s “Jazz Ambassadors” to the white house, in the middle of a hotly contested Democratic Primary between HRC and Bernie Sanders, for a so-called “Criminal Justice Reform” summit (4/15/16), which was nothing more than a thinly veiled Hip Hop recruitment gathering for Hillary ’16.
On an international level, it was the strategic cover America needed to drown out the continued claims of human rights violations, as evidenced by the disproportionate number of Black men, and growing number of Black women, being held in America’s political concentration camps.
Enters Meek Mill
The November 2017 sentencing of rapper Robert “Meek Mill” Williams, was the catalyst needed to galvanize Jay Z, the State, and the Democratic Party’s billionaire donor-base, around a single issue: PROBATION REFORM.
The lunacy of Meek Mills arrest and imprisonment, was so outlandish that it made international headlines, positioning Meek as America’s new, most iconic “Political Prisoner,” overnight — The former being, Mumia Abu Jamal.
Meek’s arrest was political gold for the Democratic Party’s reform agenda, because it provided a grassroots movement, that appeared organic enough, to move full steam ahead with neoliberal criminal justice reform. Meek’s release also symbolized just how this new “reform” movement, would be used to drown out advocacy efforts on behalf of Political prisoners.
Just as Obama’s rise to the presidency, forever deafened the cries for justice by African Americans, Meek Mills ascendancy as America’s most iconic political prisoner, has aided in silencing the cry for justice by the Afrikans that have been held captive, since before Meek was born.
Meek’s Cinderella debut, and helicopter ride to the Sixers game, completely overshadowed, Mumia Abu Jamal, who on that same day, was finally back in court for his long awaited hearing to have his case reopened.
Articles you may find interesting: How “Bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform” Institutionalizes a Right-Wing, Neoliberal Agenda
But even beyond Mumia, the great tragedy, and injustice of this corporate-owned reform movement, is that it has allowed American policy makers to spin a narrative that U.S. Mass Incarceration is somehow the result of a “broken system,” and not the direct result of neoliberal policies intended to deal with the threat of Black radicalism.
The sad irony here, is that two Black men who are the products of America’s fear of creating a new generation of George Jacksons and Fred Hamptons — Meek Mill & Jay Z — are both having their ignorance weaponized against the same group of political prisoners, who were the impetus for the neoliberal era of Mass Incarceration in America.
That any Black man in America would be willing to entertain a discussion on Prison reform, that doesn’t involve the release of these political prisoners, and the pardon of those still in exile (e.g. Mama Assata Shakur) is the deepest of tragedies.
But even with my deep feelings of betrayal, I still continue to hope that our Brothers Meek Mill & Jay Z, will experience a legitimate awakening, as they had no control over the manufacturing of their consciousness, which has ultimately shaped their character.
In the wake of the generation of George Jacksons and Fred Hamptons, America sort to provide itself with an army of Jay Zs and Meek Mills, from which they could handpick the winners and losers. The consciousness of this new generation of black male youth has been manufactured to embrace hyper capitalism, and rugged individualism. Thoughts of collective struggle, don’t have a chance of entering such a mind, without the light of a proper political education.
“As a slave, the social phenomenon that engages my whole consciousness is, of course, revolution.”
~ George Jackson
This lack of proper analysis, is one of the reasons why Jay Z can name drop scholars like Ruthie Gilmore, to score criminal justice points, but wouldn’t be caught whispering the names of any of our political prisoners, in earshot of his corporate sponsors.
This inability for Jay Z to wrestle with his own contradictions, makes him the perfect running back on behalf of the State, and corporate America’s private interests. Sometimes I ask myself, “does he realize how he’s being used to run interference, or is he blinded by the prestige and corporate deals that come with being useful?”
In no case was this more evident than his “Obama approved” trip to Cuba in 2014. Six-months ahead of Obama publicly announcing that he was easing restrictions on travel to Cuba, Obama skillfully uses his Hip Hop diplomacy to signal a change is US policy with Cuba, the same way Nixon used Ping-pong diplomacy, to signal a change in foreign policy with China.
What was despicable about Jay Z allowing himself to be maneuvered in the interest of US foreign policy, was the Obama Administration also added Assata Shakur to the FBI’s most wanted list, and placed an additional one-million dollar bounty on her head, within one-month of Jay Z’s return from his Hiplomatic excursion to Cuba.
To date, Jay Z has never come out an condemned the Obama Administration, or America, who he assisted with changing their Cold War policy towards Cuba, even as they doubled-down on their Cold War policy towards Assata.
To be fair, I genuinely believe, that both Meek Mill and Jay Z feel they are doing the right thing. The challenge I have with them, is they’ve both shown just how willing they are, to abandon the struggle of their people, when it aligns with their economic interests.
During his visit to the Breakfast Club to discuss “standing up for reform,” Meek Mill was asked by one of the hosts (at the 18:18 mark), if he’s concerned with his activism around prison reform “f*cking with those peoples money?”
All y’all gotta do is give me a warning, I’ll get out y’all way. I aint here to sacrifice my life for everybody… I’m here to sacrifice my life for my family and my son…
This one statement by the famed freedom fighter, sums up the consciousness of an entire generation — where the movement builders of yesterday, have been replaced by the brand builders of today. This notion that I will fight for my people, as long as it comes with corporate endorsements, speaking fees, a one-way ticket to the island of Black excellence — and no resistance from my oppressor, is the prevailing consciousness of our generation.
This cancerous mindset, as well as the aforementioned reasons, is what led me to write this open letter to you (Dr. Shakur). Marcus Garvey once said, “What you do today that is worthwhile, inspires others to act at some future time.” It is my hope that by writing this open letter, it will inspire others to examine and confront their own fears, as I have done my own.
Only time will tell if the island of Black excellence, can be transformed into an edifice of maroon resistance, or if it’ll remain America’s decadent colonization scheme, for it’s newly manumitted slaves — who falsely believe that the chains of mental enslavement can be broken with dollars.
“The ends you serve that are selfish will take you no further than yourself but the ends you serve that are for all, in common, will take you into eternity.”
~ Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey
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Corporations Boycotted North Carolina over the Bathroom Bill, When Will They Stand Against Racial Injustice?By Elliot Booker — 5 years ago
As the events unfold in Charlotte in the aftermath of the murder of Keith Scott — another Black man by police — questions arise as to what it will take to bring about real change in the realm of racial justice in North Carolina, and the role that corporate America will take.
As part of the so-called “new” South, with a large corporate presence and urban professional transplants from the North, the state wants to have it both ways. President Obama won North Carolina in the 2008 election, and a city such as Charlotte represents growth, progress and diversity, as The Washington Post reported, with “buttoned-up business (a banking center, an airline and retail hub), a multicultural melting pot and a farm-to-table haven.”
And yet, the state has elected a Republican-led, white supremacist state government, with a governor and a legislature that has sought the wholesale deprivation of Black voting rights, leading to the NAACP-led Moral Mondays movement.
Then there is the so-called “bathroom bill” known as HB2, which challenges a Charlotte city ordinance regarding gender-neutral bathrooms. And while the legislation has been known as an anti-LGBT law, it also eviscerated local ordinances, making it illegal for localities to expand the protections of state laws governing minimum wage standards, job discrimination and public accommodations, as the Charlotte Observer noted.
So while North Carolina had positioned itself as more cosmopolitan, progressive and tolerant than its neighbor bordering to its South — South Carolina, which had been embroiled in a Confederate flag debate of late — the state has paid a price with HB2.
According to Facing South, while state officials wish to downplay its impact, a corporate boycott of North Carolina has led to losses in the tens of millions of dollars. Over 200 companies and organizations have expressed their opposition to HB2, and they are taking their business out of the Tar Heel state. For example, PayPal canceled its planned $3.5 million complex, Deutsche Bank placed a corporate expansion on hold, and the NBA will take its All-Star Game elsewhere. The purpose of this and other boycotts, Facing South noted, is “to raise the economic and political costs of doing business as usual, to the point that decision-makers — whether lawmakers or corporate CEOs — are forced to change course.”
But what will it take for corporate America to respond to the calls for racial justice, in the midst of police violence against Black people? If they can take a stand against HB2, certainly these companies can demand that local and state governments do more and enact reforms if they want the dollars to continue flowing.
With a high-profile police killing and a continued effort at Black voter suppression — despite a Supreme Court decision rejecting North Carolina’s voter ID law and other voter restrictions — the time seems perfect for corporations to use their political muscle to benefit Black folks. White reactionary lawmakers believe they can get away with disrespecting African-Americans. For example, U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger, who represents parts of Charlotte and its suburbs, said Blacks are protesting in Charlotte because “they hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not,” as NBC News reported.
And in some cases, with blood on their hands through their role in profiting from slavery, these North Carolina-based companies have a debt to pay Black people. For example, Bank of America admitted its ties to slavery, as two of its predecessor banks had dealings with the slave trade, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Further, a third predecessor accepted slaves as collateral on loans, as Your Black World Today reported. Two companies that were incorporated into Wachovia — now owned by Wells Fargo — owned slaves and accepted them as collateral on loans or mortgages. And the founder of R.J. Reynolds, Richard Joshua Reynolds, came from a large slave-owning family of tobacco farmers. These companies can, at a minimum, support a boycott in North Carolina and a movement around racial justice, and provide support to the descendants of enslaved people in the form of employment, scholarships and community programs.
Writing an editorial in NBC News, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II — president of the North Carolina NAACP and founder of the Moral Mondays movement — summed it up best when he called the riots in Charlotte “the predictable response of human beings who are drowning in systemic injustice.” It is not about Black people hating the police, he noted, but rather people of all races “rising up against systems of injustice that shield officers who kill but leave millions defenseless.”
Declaring that “it’s the ballot or the riot,” Rev. Barber wrote that as hopeless as things may seem, we know what needs to be done to change the conditions that led to Keith Scott’s death.
“Right here in North Carolina, we have seen how people impacted by unjust policies can come together in coalitions across color and lift up a moral agenda that embraces the good of the whole,” he said. “This kind of coalition movement building is not easy, and we cannot win the change we need in a single election. But every step forward in this nation’s history has come from movements like this one.”