“In this video clip are brief examples of two mentalities, integrationist and nationalist. In the points raised for both, one has caused a sense of apathy among our people and stunted our growth, the other the door is still open and it’s not too late. Your opinion is welcome.”
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By Elliot Booker — 3 years ago
More African-Americans appear to be taking an active interest in their right to bear arms since the election of President Donald Trump, gun club leaders and firearm sellers say.A national African-American gun club has doubled its membership since Election Day, and gun sellers say they’ve noticed more black customers buying firearms.At Stoddard’s Range and Guns in Atlanta, one thunderous clap after another reverberates through the room, mixing with laughter and the smell of gunpowder. A group of men are bonding over a hobby they love. Moments later, their weapons empty and a stream of hot shell casings on the floor around them, each man holds up his target showing clusters of bullet holes.They are members of the National African American Gun Association, a group that has added 9,000 members since Election Day, said Philip Smith, the group’s national president. The group launched on Feb. 28, 2015, and added 4,285 members over the same time period the year before, between Nov. 2015 and Feb. 2016.“I’d be lying to you if I said Donald Trump hasn’t affected our numbers,” Smith said. “They have jumped off the roof.”
‘You know what, let me get a gun just in case’In 2008, overall gun sales surged after President Obama’s election. Weapons dealers attributed the increased sales to fears that Obama and a Democratic-controlled Congress would move to restrict gun ownership. In contrast, overall sales of guns and ammo dipped immediately following Trump’s election.NAAGA leaders say that the recent increase in their membership is driven by different concerns. One of the group’s newest chapters formed in response to the election result, launching just weeks after Nov. 9, and now counting 66 members.Dickson Amoah, the chapter’s president, said several members were alarmed byattacks on African-Americans at Trump’s campaign rallies and hateful rhetoric from Trump supporters on social media. That motivated them to organize the new chapter, he said.Smith cited the recent rise in the number of hate groups in the United States as one factor in NAAGA’s growth. “I think the main thing that has really changed is that two years ago, fringe groups were just that: fringe groups,” he said. “But now those fringe groups are kind of like, ‘It’s cool to be racist,’ and they’ve taken that and we — our community sees that, and it scares us. You know what, let me get a gun just in case something happens, just to make sure.”
A more diverse clienteleSeveral gun store owners also said they have noticed a shift in their clientele.Junior Joseph, the owner of a gun shop near a black community in Orlando, Florida, said for years most of his customers were white men. But since the election, he said he has been making more sales to black and Latino shoppers. Kevin Jones, a gun dealer in Ohio, said he had also seen more black customers coming in, particularly older women.Not every gun store has seen this kind of trend. At one shop in Virginia, a clerk said they’ve seen more women shopping for guns, but hadn’t noticed an increase in African-American buyers.Justin Clyde, the manager of Stoddard’s in Atlanta, said the perception of typical gun buyers continues to change. “Your normal response was probably gonna be, you know, 40-year-old plus white guy,” Clyde said. “It’s not the case at all. Here in Atlanta we have a large demographic of different people, and it’s a wonderful thing. Our store, we see huge groups of people that, you know, don’t fit that mold, don’t fit the normal, I guess, stereotype, and it’s a lot of fun. It makes it more fun, more dynamic, and it’s pretty cool.”
A fraught historyRates of African-American gun ownership have typically been lower than those among whites. In 2013, 21% of black households said they had a gun, compared to 46% of non-Hispanic white households, according to the Pew Research Center. In 2014, 19% of black households reported owning a gun, compared to 41% of non-Hispanic white households.While Smith’s group of NAAGA members was hanging out at Stoddard’s, about a dozen other African-Americans not affiliated with the group passed in and out, both men and women. A group of older patrons started talking about how buying and owning a gun wasn’t always an option for African-Americans.When Martin Luther King Jr.’s home was firebombed in 1956, he applied for a concealed carry permit in the state of Alabama. Local police at that time had the right to determine who could and couldn’t get a license. King’s application was denied, despite the fact that his life was frequently threatened.Being a legal gun owner while black can also be a dangerous proposition today, black gun owners say, pointing to the death of Philando Castile, a licensed gun owner who was shot by a Minnesota Police officer during a traffic stop last July. Castile’s girlfriend said he clearly told the officer he was legally carrying a gun before he was shot. The officer involved was charged with second-degree manslaughter and two felony counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm.But that doesn’t deter NAAGA’s growing membership. They say the Second Amendment should be for all Americans and it’s a freedom they plan to exercise and encourage.NAAGA says nationwide, black women make up the largest share of the group’s new members. For new gun owners like Antoniette Singh, a retired disabled woman who has bought two firearms in the last five months, it’s about safety and security. She says that as a victim of assault she believes her guns give her a fighting chance against anyone who tries to attack her. The group has helped her learn how to handle her weapons properly.Group meetings across the country focus on teaching new gun owners each state’s gun laws, and helping first-time gun owners feel comfortable with their weapons.Michael Cargill, the owner of a gun shop in central Texas, said a group of 100 black women had recently called asking him to set up a class on gun safety and the proper way to shoot.He attributed the recent wave of interest in owning a firearm to a few factors. “Because of the climate in the White House … people in the African-American community and other communities are concerned about their safety,” he said. “I’m seeing people who want to learn how to shoot and then have us help shop for the right gun.”“It’s something that I haven’t seen in years past,” he said.To read more Click or Copy link:http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/27/us/african-american-gun-club-trump/index.html#a-f83e75d4-7d64-4606-b226-e6353f439b10Post Views: 503
By Elliot Booker — 2 years agoWritten By A. French
Posted September 30, 2017
In 2015, NerdWallet conducted a study based on US Census Bureau Statistics Data, analyzing entrepreneurial activity in the black community for 107 US metropolitan areas (those with populations over 100,000). Based on that study, a ranking of the best 10 metropolitan areas for black entrepreneurship was provided.
Using the same methodology and, for the most part, the same databases, Blacktech Week has taken a new look at those metropolitan areas, to see whether the same level of attractiveness for black entrepreneurs still holds. We also looked at how those same cities ranked on Kauffman Foundation’s 2017 Index for Startup Activity, to showcase how black entrepreneurs actually fare in cities ranked on the Kauffman list. The ranking is based on a total of 7 metrics measuring the economic environment and the success of black-owned businesses in each metropolitan area.
Results show that Southeastern states have a higher concentration of black businesses, with Georgia, Louisiana and Alabama each having two metropolitan areas among the top ten areas with higher percentages of black businesses in relation to the total businesses.
How different is the 2017 top ten ranking in relation to the ranking of 2015? Not much, the ten top metropolitan areas remained the same, although some changes in rank took place (the most notable change was Atlanta losing the leading spot and Memphis, TN emerging as the new leader).
Best metropolitan areas for black owned companies in 2017
1. Memphis, Tennessee (2015 rank: 3)
Memphis dethroned Atlanta as the best metro area for black owned business. With an average annual revenue almost equal to that of Atlanta, Memphis has a lower unemployment rate (the lowest among the top 10), lower cost of living index, and higher percentage of black owned businesses (2nd nationwide). The city has its own Black Business Association and has a powerful cultural life, with recent growth in showbiz, manifested in a significant number of major motion pictures filmed in the area and bio science and manufacturing.
2. Montgomery, Alabama (2015 rank: 2)
Keeping its second ranking, Montgomery has the highest percentage of black businesses nationwide. Among organizations that provide support for black-owned businesses are the Alabama State Black Chamber of Commerce and the Montgomery’s Chamber of Commerce Minority Business Development Task Force.
3. Atlanta-Sandy-Springs-Marietta, Georgia (2015 rank: 1)
While no longer holding the #1 spot for the greatest metro area for black businesses, Atlanta remains a powerful enclave for black entrepreneurs. Among the top 10, it has the highest number of businesses per 100 habitants, with almost 10. Black business owners have the support of the Atlanta Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce. The cost of living index has incremented slightly in the last 2 years (from 93.6 to 95.6), but unemployment has decreased (from 6% to 4.5%). According to the Kauffman Index (which measures entrepreneurial activity and growth at the national, state and metropolitan levels), Atlanta had a 0.43% rate of startup activity in 2016, meaning that in a given month 430 adults out of 100,000 habitants became entrepreneurs. Also, the opportunity share of new entrepreneurs (that is, the percentage of new entrepreneurs that became so out of spotting an opportunity rather than by necessity) was at 75.49%, that is, of every 4 new entrepreneurs, 3 of them took their chances because they saw a market opportunity rather than out of necessity (for instance, because they were unemployed).
4. Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria, Virginia (2015 rank: 4)
The nation’s capital has the highest median annual income for black residents for all the metro areas ($ 40,297). At the same time, Washington metro area is the 1st nationwide, according to the Kauffman Index, in terms of business growth, which represents the growth of startups in terms of number of employees over the last 5 years. Some of the institutions that support black entrepreneurs are the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce and BizLaunch, an entrepreneurship program. I3 recently opened at Howard University which is DC’s first community space dedicated to Inclusive Innovation and startup incubation.
5. Savannah, Georgia (2015 rank: 6)
The coastal city has a significant industrial and economic activity. Besides the Port, manufacturing, military and tourism are important economic drivers for black business owners in the city. It is also an important black cultural hub, with a significant Jazz musical heritage.
6. Baton Rouge, Louisiana (2015 rank: 7)
Cost of living index in Baton Rouge increased from 91.3 to 96.1, but so did median annual income for black residents (from $18,047 to $23,136). The city has an important petrochemical industry, with the 4th largest refinery in the US and 10th largest in the world. It has a strong mix of cultures, forming the basis of the city motto: “Authentic Louisiana at every turn”.
7. Durham, North Carolina (2015 rank: 5)
Durham has the 3rd highest average annual revenue for black owned business, among the top 10 areas presented in this study. It has a strong start-up culture, with several accelerators, co-working spaces, and entrepreneurial convening places. The cost of living index has increased in the last 2 years, though the unemployment rate has significantly decreased from 6.1% to 3.8%.
8. Baltimore-Towson, Maryland (2015 rank: 8)
Baltimore keeps its rank among the top 10. The Baltimore Office of Sustainability offers support for black entrepreneurs, having different programs specially tailored for different context, for instance, one targeted at black moms and dads who wish to launch a startup. Unemployment in the city has been declining, although an important number of manufacturing jobs have been lost in the last years. On the other hand, the Kauffman Index for Main Street Entrepreneurship, which focuses on small business, shows a large increase in the survival rate of small business in the last years (the percentage of small business created 5 years before which were still operating).
9. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Florida (2015 rank: 10)
Despite the state having some of the lowest wages in the nation, the metro area has experimented the best of 3 worlds in the last 2 years: median annual income for black residents has increased significantly (from $16,091 to $23,309), cost of living index has decreased (from 112.6 to 106), and unemployment has also decreased (from 5.7% to 4.2%). Besides this, the Kauffman Index puts Miami at the 1st place nationwide in startup activity; in particular, it has a rate of new entrepreneurs of 0.56% (tied for greatest in the nation with Los Angeles metro area) and a very high opportunity share of 81.09%, so that of every 5 new entrepreneurs, 4 of them took their chances out of spotting an opportunity rather than experiencing a necessity.
10. Richmond, Virginia (2015 rank: 9)
Finally, Richmond keeps its place among the top 10 best metro areas in US for black-owned businesses. It has the 2nd highest average annual revenues for black-owned business among the top 10 list, only behind Washington. The Jackson Ward neighborhood is commonly referred as “the birthplace of Black capitalism” and is considered the second “Black Wall Street”, after the Greenwood district in Tulsa, Oklahoma.Post Views: 487
In a Rigged Court System, Innocent Black People Wait Years for Their Day In Court, Forcing Some to Accept Plea BargainsBy Elliot Booker — 4 years ago
May 14, 2016 | Posted by David Love
Throughout the country, the court system is rigged against poor people and communities of color, and Bronx County in New York City is a most extreme and poignant example of a nationwide crisis.
Although there is a constitutionally guaranteed right to a speedy trial, in practice that guarantee does not extend to those without means, particularly the Black and Latino folks who live in places such as the Bronx — the poorest and Blackest county in New York. These are the people who are arrested and charged with frivolous misdemeanor offenses under a “broken windows” philosophy of policing. And when faced with an under-resourced and broken-down court system, they may wait years for a jury trial — their lives disrupted, their psyche damaged, and often they are compelled to take a plea.
On Wednesday, the Bronx Defenders — a legal advocacy group providing civil and criminal legal services to the indigent — filed a federal class-action lawsuit against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; Janet DiFiore, Chief Judge of the State of New York and Chief Judicial Officer of the Unified Court System; and Lawrence Marks, Chief Administrative Judge of the Unified Court System. The suit, Trowbridge v. Cuomo, filed on behalf of thousands of Bronx residents, claims the state courts are failing to give people their due process and their day in court, making justice an illusion.
The day the lawsuit was filed, Atlanta Black Star spoke with Robin Steinberg, the Executive Director of the Bronx Defenders, on what prompted her organization to take action.
“About three years ago we collaborated with The New York Times on a series on delay in the Bronx … and we hoped that that would bring about some systemic change,” Steinberg said. “What we began to see was not only was there no structural change, the delay problem was getting worse. And in fact, it has gotten worse since The Times did the investigative piece three years ago,” she added. Ultimately, the time had come to do what we need to do, the courts need to come in,” Steinberg said, with the goal to “compel immediate political will” to change the state of the courts in the Bronx.
For the head of the Bronx Defenders, it says a lot that lawyers have to sue the governor and the courts on behalf of their clients because the system is failing.
“It says the clients we represent and the community we represent is one of the most marginalized and overlooked communities in New York City, as is the case across the country. They have very little political power, no access to political power and have been under-utilized and marginalized. This does not happen in the tony community in Manhattan,” Steinberg insists.
The statistics gathered by the plaintiffs paint a picture of a serious epidemic of disparities. As of January 2016, there were 2,378 misdemeanor cases pending for over 365 days in the Bronx, and 538 cases pending for over two years. Last year, although there were 45,000 misdemeanor arraignments, there were a mere 98 misdemeanor trials. And for those select few who get a trial, they must wait 642 days on average for a non-jury bench trial, and 827 days for a trial by jury, which is 99 percent higher than in Manhattan, 66 percent higher than in Brooklyn and 48 percent higher than in Queens.
Meanwhile, under New York’s speedy trial statute, prosecutors are required to be ready for trial within 90 days of arraignment for class A misdemeanors (such as assault, theft and drug possession), 60 days for class B misdemeanors (such as harassment, marijuana possession and stalking), and 30 days for non-criminal violations.
“You have to wait 99 percent longer in the Bronx. You wait longer in the Bronx than any other borough…It speaks to how we resource certain communities and under-resource others,” Steinberg noted. “This has been a known secret for years, and we hope to compel some change.”
Moreover, there are human faces behind these numbers, with a heavy toll taken in terms of lost jobs, frayed relationships and damaged well-being. This is the tax levied on the poor and on people of color. For example, John Carridice suffered through 1,009 days and 20 court dates before he had a trial and was acquitted. Sarah Bello endured 1,166 days and 33 court dates before her charges were thrown out. Joseph Bermudez was also acquitted, but only after 1,258 days and 38 court dates. On at least 16 occasions, both parties were ready for trial, but no court rooms were available.
Michael Torres, 43, had to appear in court 14 times for misdemeanor marijuana possession, typically waiting up to six hours at a time. As a result of numerous absences from work, he was fired. Although his case was dismissed after 877 days because the arresting officer could not recollect the incident, for this father of two, the damage had been done.
“After waiting all that time, I wasn’t even able to have my day in court,” said Torres. “I did everything I was supposed to do, but the system failed me – I joined this case because I want to ensure this doesn’t happen to others.”
One of the devastating effects of the epidemic of court delays is that people are forced to enter into plea agreements to make the case go away. According to The New York Times, 97 percent of federal cases and 94 percent of state cases end in plea bargains. The implications are that the courts are not used for the adjudication of cases and deciding who is guilty or innocent, but for deal making. Rather, the courts become what the American Bar Association, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association and others refer to as a “McJustice” system — one which operates based on the assembly line principles of a fast-food restaurant. For the indigent it means there is a premium placed on expediency over high-quality treatment.
“The truth is that what happens when you have this kind of delay is people end up with an unconscionable choice to come back in to court every month for 833 days — which is a form of punishment — or plead guilty. There is no way to end this punishment unless you plead guilty,” Steinberg said. “Clients continually miss work, miss childcare, miss appointments. It is the system’s best way to extract a guilty plea.”
The Bronx Defender chief shared that when public defenders advocate to their client to stick it out longer and wait, their clients — faced with the torture of court delays — have a right to take the plea, and often do.
Although this lawsuit is about the Bronx courts, and by extension the state of New York, this is a case with national implications. There are other jurisdictions like the Bronx. For example, in downstate Illinois, which does not include the Chicago area, 56 percent of pending misdemeanor cases were over a year old as of 2014, according to the Bronx Defenders. In North Carolina, 16.5 percent of all pending misdemeanor cases were over a year old, while 7.7 percent were older than 731 days, according to the state’s 2014-2015 Judicial Report. Moreover, even in a state with a better track record such as Wisconsin, 19 percent of misdemeanor cases are pending more than 180 days, with 95 percent of the cases taking 360 days before resolution. The state guidelines say that only 5 percent should be pending for that long.
“People need to keep their eyes on this because it is a national problem,” Steinberg emphasized. “People need to pay attention and defenders need to pay attention because our clients’ lives are deeply impacted,” and their humanity is not being acknowledged, she argued.
It is no accident that the Bronx is the poorest borough of New York City and the poorest county in New York state. Further, the South Bronx is the poorest congressional district in the entire nation, according to the U.S. Census, with 38 percent of people living below the poverty line, including 49 percent of children. Bronx also has the highest proportion of people of color of any county in the state, with a population that is 43 percent Black and 55 percent Latino, with whites accounting for 10 percent of the county, according to the most recent Census figures. Not surprisingly, 95 percent of Bronx misdemeanor arraignments involve people of color, the highest percentage in the city.
Meanwhile, those poor and Black people who are subjected to a dysfunctional and unresponsive court system are the ones facing the massive and frivolous arrests, heavy-handed monitoring and racial profiling by the police. In recent years, the New York City Police Department has come under fire for a stop-and-frisk policy that has ensnared hundreds of thousands of city residents, typically Black and Latino young men. As a lawsuit filed against the NYPD by the Center for Constitutional Rights revealed, 85 percent of those targeted by these “suspicionless and racially pretextual stop and frisks” are Black and Latino, who make up 52 percent of the city’s population. According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, more than 4 million New Yorkers have been subjected to police stops and interrogations since 2002, with nine of 10 people being completely innocent.
Ultimately, Steinberg believes this is an issue that will resonate among the public, even among those who are far removed from the court system.
“People will be shocked by this. It is something that is relatable — even if you aren’t touched by the criminal justice system and live in an affluent white community — because it is such a basic issue of a right to a trial,” she said.
“If I have to go to the department of motor vehicles for one day I am outraged,” Steinberg offered. “Imagine if you have to go every day for three-and-a-half years. You see this playing out as people struggle to keep their heads above water. They’re living with the economic and psychological toll of this hanging on their heads.”Post Views: 360