More than 50 politically left-of-centre groups in the United States have signed a letter to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, warning he could lose Black voters’ support unless he commits to more transformative policing reforms.
Biden’s criminal justice agenda has drawn renewed attention following weeks of nationwide protests since George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes even after he appeared to pass out.
The letter, spearheaded by Black organisations like Black Voters Matter, expressed disappointment in Biden’s proposal to provide $300m to a federal community policing programme, arguing that doing so would only exacerbate the problem of over-policing.
“We are here to tell you, unequivocally, that that is NOT the answer,” the letter reads.
Floyd’s death galvanised demonstrations throughout the country, and triggered some around the world, over police mistreatment of minorities, a decades-old issue that has given rise in recent years to movements like Black Lives Matter.
Biden has proposed banning chokeholds by police officers, ending the militarisation of police forces and making it easier to hold officers accountable for misconduct, among other reforms. Congressional Democrats have introduced comprehensive legislation containing many of the same proposals.
But Biden has declined to support “defunding the police”, a phrase embraced by liberal activists in the wake of Floyd’s death that refers to redirecting police funds to other community needs such as affordable housing and education.
His opponent in November’s election, Republican President Donald Trump, was expected to sign an executive order on Tuesday calling for modest changes in policing policy, including better police training.
The letter urged Biden to do more than simply “make amends” for policies he favoured in the past that they said have led to the mass incarceration of Black Americans, including the 1994 crime bill he helped author.
Lewis Hamilton is set to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement by ‘taking a knee’ when the 2020 F1 season kicks off in Austria next month.
The F1 star has championed anti-racism and civil rights action across the globe in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minnesota.
Hamilton has used his standing as one of the world’s best-known athletes to get his message across, particularly on Instagram, where he has more than 16m followers.
The 35-year-old has put pressure on high-profile figures to follow suit and has received the backing of F1 chief Ross Brawn in his quest to promote equality.
The Daily Mail now report Hamilton is planning to take action when he gets his sixth World Drivers’ Championship title defence underway at the Austrian Grand Prix on July 5.
Sources close to the Mercedes ace have indicated he is determined to publicly show support for the Black Lives Matter movement at the Red Bull Ring, which is set to host two races next month.
F1 have no plans to censure drivers, with a spokesman saying: “This is a very important issue and we support anyone who wants to show their support in the fight against racism.”
Hamilton, who is likely to ‘take a knee’ in a show of solidarity which has been repeated across the planet, became the first black driver to compete in F1 when he made his debut for Ron Dennis’ McLaren outfit in 2007.
He has gone on to write his name in the history books, winning 84 Grands Prix on the way to securing his six titles.
As well as calling for action to be taken around the world, Hamilton has decried F1’s failure to embrace multiculturalism, with few people from minorities being offered chances in the sport.
Speaking to Italian outlet Style Corriere della Sera in April, Hamilton opened up on why F1 needs to better reflect society’s diverse makeup.
“There is a saying we use in the UK: ‘You can’t be it if you can’t see it’,” Hamilton said. “Kids need to see successful people who look like them to know that their dreams are achievable.
“Sadly, in Formula 1 today, there is an overall lack of diversity: not only among drivers, but also among engineers and mechanics.
“If we don’t make the effort to create pathways to give those from different backgrounds a chance, we will all be to blame.”
On the CBS special, Justice for All hosted by Gayle King, George Floyd’s brother Philonise said he believes Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with second-degree murder in Floyd’s death, knew exactly who Floyd was as he pressed his knee into his neck.
Not only that, Philonise said he believed it was personal, and he’s not the only one who sees it that way.
Both Floyd and Chauvin used to work security at El Nuevo Rodeo, a nightclub in Minneapolis that was burned to the ground in recent riots. Floyd worked security inside, while Chauvin was paid to sit in his squad car outside the club when he was off-duty. Former co-worker David Pinney said that not only did Floyd and Chauvin know each other, but they had a contentious history.
“They bumped heads,” Pinney said, adding, “It has a lot to do with Derek being extremely aggressive within the club with some of the patrons, which was an issue.” “Is there any doubt in your mind that Derek Chauvin knew George Floyd?” CBS correspondent Jeff Pegues asked. “No, he knew him,” Pinney replied. “How well did he know him?” “I’d say pretty well.”
Chauvin had a history of complaints against him, and the former owner of the club, Maya Santamaria, was not surprised by what she saw in the video, except that it went as far as it did.
“I was not surprised when I initially saw his knee on his neck, to be honest,” Santamaria said. “Because I’ve seen Chauvin do stuff along those lines. What surprised me was that he didn’t stop right away once George was obviously, ya know, saying, ‘OK, OK.’”
Santamaria also believes race was an issue for Chauvin.
“Do you think Derek had a problem with black people?” Santamaria was asked. She replied, “I think he was afraid and intimidated.”
California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom wants a statewide standard of police use of force as his state is dealing with protests in response to the death of George Floyd.
Newsom tweeted, “Protesters have the right to protest peacefully – not be harassed. Not be shot at by rubber bullets or tear gas. Today I am calling for the creation of a new statewide standard for use of force in protests. Acts of violence against peaceful protestors will not be tolerated.”
Protesters have the right to protest peacefully — not be harassed. Not be shot at by rubber bullets or tear gas.
Today I am calling for the creation of a new statewide standard for use of force in protests. Acts of violence against peaceful protestors will not be tolerated.
Newsom elaborated during a press conference he wanted to ban the “carotid holds,” a hold that puts pressure on the sides of someone’s neck.
“We train techniques on strangleholds that put people’s lives at risk,” Newsom said during a press conference. “Now we can argue that these are used as exceptions. But at the end of the day, [a] carotid hold that literally is designed to stop people’s blood from flowing into their brain, that has no place any longer in 21st-century practices and policing.”
Newsom has traveled the state on a listening tour to get ideas from residents.
He said he wanted to collaborate with law enforcement officials, California Legislative Black Caucus and community leaders on drafting the language for the new standards.
The unrest throughout California and the rest of the country began after Floyd, an unarmed black man, died after a white officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
“The world watched as the 200 lb. weight of a police officer was leveraged on the neck of George Floyd for over 8 minutes,” Democrat Assemblyman Mike Gipson, the lead author of the legislation, told the Los Angeles Times. “We all witnessed this execution. This was far beyond the existing law that authorizes a peace officer to use reasonable force to effect the arrest, to prevent escape or to overcome resistance.”
Muriel Bowser, Mayor of Washington DC, America’s capital, has painted the street leading to the White House with giant Black Lives Matter text.
The move comes days after United States President, Donald Trump, ordered the U.S Park Police and National Guard troops to disperse peaceful protesters outside the White House so he could walk out of the place to St. John’s Episcopal Church for a photo-op in which he held up a Bible.
In a Twitter post on Friday to commemorate the birthday of Breonna Taylor, another black man, who died in the hands of police, Bowser said the act was out of determination to make America a great land.
She said, “Breonna Taylor, on your birthday, let us stand with determination. Determination to make America the land it ought to be.”
The mayor has also renamed the street Black Lives Matter Plaza.
She added, “The section of 16th Street in front of the White House is now officially “Black Lives Matter Plaza”.
Donald Trump was earlier accused of having a walk from his White House cabinet to a historic church in the vicinity, which had been nearly burnt down by Black Lives Matter protesters.
President Donald Trump has busted the claims that he had ordered to disperse the protesting crowds from nearby Lafayette Square, as he was to make an on-foot visit to the historic St. John’s Church, within a short walking distance from the White House grounds.
“They didn’t use tear gas,” Trump told Fox News Radio interview, thereby contradicting multiple protesters’ and media reports that tear gas was deployed to move them away from the church – the detail which has been eagerly chewed over by Democrats and their supporters.
“Now, when I went, I didn’t say ‘Oh, move them out.’ I didn’t know who was there,” POTUS recounted, after he was accused of making the visit merely for a “photo op.”
After the much-debated walk, he and his officials posed briefly for a number of pictures holding a Bible near the church, which had been set alight hours before by the protesters.
In his further comments to Fox News, Trump went on to lament the racial issue as “a sad one” calling for this “injustice” to be promptly resolved.
POTUS earlier sparked criticism, namely among Pentagon’s current and former officials, with his threats to deploy military forces in states that proved unable to contain violent riots, which peaceful protests have grown into in recent days, following the death of Afro-American Minneapolis man George Floyd at police hands last Monday.
The president called on local authorities to “get tough”, taking a dig at some states’ too lax approach to the protests which have in many places spilt out into violent clashes with police, arson and looting of shops and malls, as demonstrators opposed not merely Floyd’s death but police brutality in general.
The nationwide social unrest has prompted instant action from both local and federal authorities, with over 40 states imposing curfew hours, usually starting at 8 pm and ending at 5 in the morning. Separately, National Guard troops were called in to effectively maintain public order.
The wave of violence across the US has affected members of the media reporting during the events.
On 1 June, Sputnik journalist Nicole Roussell said she was fired at by police while covering protests in Washington, DC, despite identifying as being a member of the media. A stinger grenade left a couple of welts on her hip and thigh.
A day before that, the Russian Embassy in the United States sent a protest note to the US State Department after a Minneapolis police officer pepper-sprayed RIA Novosti reporter Mikhail Turgiyev in the face. Turgiyev was attacked along with a VICE Magazine crew after the protests ended and all journalists identified themselves as being members of the media without resisting the police.
On the same day, police in Minneapolis opened fire at a media team from the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle that was attempting to cover the ongoing protests in the northern city. Stefan Simons and a film crew were shot at by police on Sunday evening as they tried to report on an incident that saw a man drive a tanker truck into a crowd of thousands of people on a Minneapolis highway.
On 30 May, CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and an accompanying media team were arrested and later released by law enforcement officers while attempting to cover the riots.
The large-scale riots in the United States were triggered by the death of African-American man George Floyd in police custody in late May. Video footage of his detention, which has been circulating online, showed Floyd saying that he could not breathe as a police officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes. A county examiner in the US state of Minnesota in a medical report ruled that Floyd’s death was a homicide.
It’s unbelievable that the life of an average black man is now valued at a 3-year prison term.
Take your time and envisage an “ideal” American society where a typical white supremacist has the right to pull his trigger at random — by error or commission — towards a group of protesting blacks, and gets a pardon from the court judge without apologies.
This undated image released by the Hennepin County Jail in Minneapolis shows Allen Scarsella, who was convicted on 1 February, 2017. Source: AP via Hennepin County Jail.
Allen Scarsella was convicted on 1 February, 2017, after he shot at a group of five black men who sustained life-threatening wounds. The victims were lucky to have survived the attack but you and I can’t deny that sting of gut feeling when justice is denied.
The cold-blooded racist unleashed terror at protesters during a Black Lives Matter rally which organised after the death of Jamar Clark, who was shot and killed in 2015 by police officers from Minneapolis.
Scarsella’s belated sentencing was passed on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. Sadly, his prison term will see him spend only 15 years behind bars.
Our hearts were broken because the heartless murderer was far from showing remorse in court but rather received an undeserved mercy. He expressed readiness to live with the consequences of his action forever but showed a psychotic hatred for black folks, and would have probably smiled at the judge if handed a life sentence.
Better still, the white Minnesota man was apparently ready to give heavens a big hug if that kindhearted judge had considered capital punishment as a deserved gift.
There’s no doubt that Scarsella will likely kill again, either as an inmate or a free man, if he survives 15 years in prison.
Yesterday’s court judgement begs the question of implementing capital punishment against calls from right activists who think the time for executions is over.
In an ever-changing world where crime, gun violence, terrorism and racial profiling has become the order of the day, making a choice between life sentence and capital punishment has become a pressing issue which we no longer need to spare for another innocent life.
No apologies was tendered by Scarsella in court. He looked convinced that supremacists like himself and other terrorists with bird brains should have a right to decide the fate of other “less beings.” Whatever makes them think that any life — black, brown or white — is expendable! Killers don’t deserve any mercy! Not even in a free country like the United States of America.
The prosecutor requested an approval for a maximum 20 years stipulated by the laws. However, this Bloomington man was handed only 15 years and two months.
According to a report from The Associated Press (AP), Scarsella got his conviction in February. He was sentenced for an assault which occurred at an encampment located very close to a north Minneapolis police station.
The 25-year-old psycho also faced riot charges for endangering the lives of five black men who were taking part in at a Black Lives Matter protest.
Standing before the Hennepin County District Judge Hilary Caligiuri, the accused murderer said: “I recognize the severity of the events of November 23rd, 2015.”
The shooter revealed that he was at the crime scene with three of his friends who accompanied him to the encampment. He admitted getting angry after a group of demonstrators chased them away because they wore masks.
“I’ll live with the consequences the rest of my life,”the convicted shooter said in his statement.
Judge Caligiuri said it’s hard to understand why Scarsella committed the crime, adding that where he got his “repugnant and racist ideas” remains a mystery.
“The only saving grace for the night was that all victims survived,” Caligiuri adds. “It’s a miracle.”
In truth, Scarsella go t a break that no black would ever have, and this sparked raw emotions in court.
The only witness who appeared during the trials was Clark’s cousin, Cameron Clark. He sustained gunshot wounds in the leg and foot.
“If that had been me I would have been looking at 25 to 30 (years) for shooting five white people,” Cameron Clark said, adding that the shooter should have been charged with attempted murder.
It was regrettable that Scarsella faced only a first-degree assault resulting in great bodily harm.
*Send us your comments on gun violence and racism in the United States.
Why do they feel the need to mention he is white after showing a picture of him in which the size takes up half of the page? Whenever its a black suspect, they don’t show his photo and don’t mention his race.
Sentenced? This guy deserves a medal not a cell. BLM is no different then ISIS.
The US has become a war against race. Wise up America we all members of the Human race. GOD doesn’t see color!!!
Can’t the protestors at least defend young black men of honor, quiet heroes going against the grain by wearing their pants around their waist; refusing thuggery, weed-smoking, and hustling; those who marry one woman, have all their kids with that one woman, proactively raise those kids to be successful, productive citizens, and love only their wife and no other woman; those who work an honest job with integrity, intensity, and discipline, no matter how menial the work? (Note: selling illegal cigarettes on the street or bootleg CDs on the corner doesn’t count as honest work!)
If a protest were held against the oppression of such young black men, I’d be the first to join in.
Yet every time I hear of a black man being killed by the cops, he’s not the man I just described. He’s almost always a criminal thug I have no desire to defend. Hardly our best, and hardly what Dr. King died for.
It’s Easier to Blame Everyone But Yourself.
You see, unlike those men recently shot, I do not fear for my life from the police. Quite the contrary, my life is made safer by the police who stand between me and people like Sterling, who is much more likely to break into my car or stick me up at night compared to any harm that might come to me from a police officer.
The fact is, the police are not shooting black men like me. Why? Because I am not a criminal, and when the police stop me, I politely do what they say, and they leave me alone.
I do not run away, fight back, or mouth off. It’s really pretty simple.
Why is no one asking how these men’s families and communities failed them so badly that they became criminals or thugs? If you look up “tough” in the dictionary, my grandmother’s picture will come up. If you were raised under her and acted up, after she got done with you you’d wish the police had gotten to you first. I’m glad my father was raised in such an environment.
Discipline happens in the home, and it starts early. When it doesn’t, the police are left to clean up the mess of deeply broken human beings who were already doomed before their first interaction with the law.
It’s totally unfair to ask the police to treat hardened criminals with kid gloves.
Will they unequivocally call for an end to the welfare, food stamps, and government subsidized housing that have replaced the black father, and thus return the role of family provider to the black man where it belongs, not the government?
So no, despite the prevailing atmosphere of hysteria, I’m not afraid of being killed by the police. Quite the contrary: sadly, the data shows I’m much more likely to be victimized by a fellow black man than by a white police officer.
So may the police remain sharp, aggressive, and strike fear into criminals so the good people don’t become victims.
The 2016 ESPY Awards has come and gone but the contributions from NBA’s famous four at the event–Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James–especially with their outstanding Black Lives Matter messages, will forever live in our memories. It gives us solace hearing the idols pass across a message of love and peace.
The event held Wednesday July 13, couldn’t have come at a better time, after the world just witnessed a week riddled with gun violence and fear.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul Deliver Powerful Black Lives Matter Opening Speech at ESPYs.
Losing Alton Sterling and Philando Castile to police violence was horrible. And then the retaliation from Micah Xavier Johnson couldn’t have made it any better.
A total of 12 police officers were wounded at a Dallas Black Lives Matter march and five deaths were recorded, sparking huge protests and condemnation all around the world.
Image: Carmelo Anthony
Anthony, who plays as a forward for the New York Knicks, reportedly opened the presentations with a statement on behalf of Paul, Wade and James.
“The four of us we cannot ignore the realities of the current state of America,” he said.
“The events of the past week have put a spotlight on the injustice, distrust and anger that plague so many of us. The system is broken. But the problems are not new, the violence is not new and the racial divide definitely is not new.” “But the urgency for change is at an all time high,” he added.
Image: Dwyane Wade
Dwayne Wade who plays for the Miami Heat was the next to pass across his message. The famous basketball star begged people to put an end to racial discrimination.
In his words: “Not seeing the value of black and brown bodies has to stop but also the retaliation has to stop. The needless gun violence in places like Chicago, Dallas, not to mention Orlando it has to stop, enough. Enough is enough.
“Now as athletes it’s on us to challenge each other to do even more than we already do in our cow communities.
“The conversation cannot stop as our schedules get busy again. It wont always be convenient, it won’t. It won’t always be comfortable but it is necessary,” the basketball star said.
Image: Lebron James
As the comments rolled in, famous Lebron James [Wade’s former teammate at the Miami Heat], argued that feeling “helpless and frustrated by the violence” is not acceptable. And he used his time on stage to ask viewers to consider a call to action.
The player who’s currently a free agent said: “It’s time to look in the mirror and ask ourselves what are we doing to create change… I know tonight we are honoring Muhammad Ali, the ‘G.O.A.T.’ but to do his legacy any justice let’s use this moment as a call to action for all professional athletes to educate ourselves, explore these issues, speak up, use our influence and renounce all violence.
“And most importantly go back to our communities, invest our time, our resources, help rebuild them, help strengthen them help change them.”
James who seemed not to be satisfied with the efforts from fellow stars urged them to do more than they’re doing at the moment. The legend born in Akron, Ohio, said summed it up by saying: “We all have to do better.”
Image: Chris Paul
Paul [a guard for the Los Angeles Clippers] wasn’t left out in the speeches. The handsome player says he has a nephew who is also a police officer.
In his words: “[My nephew] is one of the hundreds of thousands of great officers serving this country.
“But Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Laquan McDonald, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile.. this is also our reality,”he says, naming the last victims of police brutality in the inexhaustible list.
“Generations ago, legends like Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommy smith. Abdul-Karim al-Jabbar, Jim Brown Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe and countless others… They set a model for what athletes should stand for. So we choose to stand in their footsteps.”
Image: Stephen Curry
Superman Stephen Curry was on-ground to give his acceptance speech for the record-breaking performance award. He thanked his fellow NBA stars for their opening words and had this to add.
“That’s what sports is all about… thanks for what you do,” the Golden State Warriors player said.
Steph is currently the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, won after an amazing season.
“Brave Lady in Baton Rouge – Brave man in Tiananmen Square.”
As racial tension rises and protests against police brutality rage in the United States an image of a young woman standing defiantly before heavily-armored riot police has drawn comparisons with the 1989 Tiananmen Square “Tank Man”.
The photograph of the lone black woman standing up to officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is being adopted as a representation of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Brave Lady in Baton Rouge – Brave man in Tiananmen Square,” one tweet read.
The photograph has spread on social media after it was taken by Reuters photographer Jonathan Bachman on Saturday.
Mr Bachman said the woman was arrested without violence but did not say anything or resist.
“It happened quickly, but I could tell that she wasn’t going to move, and it seemed like she was making her stand,” Mr Bachman told The Atlantic.
“To me it seemed like: `You’re going to have to come and get me’.”
Protesters have taken to the streets after two black men were shot and killed by police in Louisiana and Minnesota last week.
Five Dallas Police officers were also killed on Thursday night when a man opened fire on officers during a Black Lives Matter protest.
The horrific events was reportedly triggered after Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were shot and killed by police officers.
The G-Unit rapper says on Instagram that he is not surprised by the most recent incident where five police officers were killed in Dallas, but expresses a change of heart after reflecting on the lives that were lost.
Image: 50 Cent
“This is not a game out here, police have gotten away with shooting so many people and not being punished for it,” he writes in the caption for a picture of a Nintendo Zapper video game controller.
“People are fed up.
“I saw CNN report on Cops being shot and the sad part is my first thought was, Good because I’ve seen so many graphic images of cops wrongfully shooting people but when I think about it, the officers that were shot are not guilty of anything. They were protecting protesters.
“Their families must be devastated. My condolences to those families of the officers that lost their lives that night.
“But we also can’t ignore the fact that black people get treated unjustly by law enforcement everyday.
My condolences also go to the families of Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile,” he added.
Sterling and Castile were shot and killed by police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Falcon Heights, Minnesota this week. Both incidents were captured on video and sent the world into shock.
People and governments all around the world are decrying police brutality, calling for an end to modern injustices.
Famous rapper Drake made a rare statement expressing his grief at the deaths and saying that after seeing the video that he was “disheartened, emotional, and truly scared.”
The Game and Snoop Dogg led a peaceful rally in Los Angeles yesterday to meet with the LAPD and discuss the current state of fear in America between cops and the Black community.