Tag Archive | African-American

Good Kids and Bad Police in New Jersey*

Good Kids and Bad Police in New Jersey*

By Esteban Guevara

Last month the New Jersey Assembly passed bill A1114 76 to 0. This legislation, which was proposed by Democratic New Jersey Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, makes it mandatory for public schools to teach children in their social studies classes, from kindergarten through grade 12, “how to interact with law enforcement officers.”

This bill will have detrimental effects on our communities which are already under siege by the police and are confronting poverty and gentrification. The bill scapegoats children and youth for deeply-seeded systemic issues. All progressive people should reject bill A1114 and continue to fight against it alongside the communities who the police harass, humiliate and murder on a daily basis across the country.

The police murder people

Let’s cut to the chase. Wanton police terror is a reality in poor urban communities of colour. Recently, we have seen too many cases where the police have shot and killed unarmed Black and Brown people.

The proposers of this legislature claims that this bill will improve community and police interaction. However, since the shooting and death of Michael Brown, 14 teenagers have been killed by the police. Invoking the names of Tamir Rice 12, Cameron Tillman 12, Vonderrit Myers Jr. 18, Laquan McDonald 17, Carey Smith-Viramontes 18 , Jeffrey Holden 18, Qusean Whitten 18, Miguel Benton 19, Dillon McGee 18, Levi Weaver 18, Karen Cifuentes 19, Sergio Ramos 18, Roshad McIntosh 19 and Diana Showman 19 is heartbreaking. Their murders unequivocally prove that our children are not the ones who should be taught how to interact with the “authorities;” the police are the ones who should be taught how to peacefully interact with us.

The police as an institution cannot be reformed. Racism and corruption permeate all levels of the U.S.’s largest gang.

In spite of all this, the Democratic controlled New Jersey Assembly sponsored this legislation that will only shift onus on how the police interact with our communities from the police department onto our children.

Bill A1114 will bolster victim-blaming which is already utilized by the media when they report cases of civilians dying at the hand of the police. This bill can be implemented as soon as 2018 if it passes the state Senate.

We need to fight for laws that protect and empower vulnerable communities. The Amistad bill— which requires New Jersey schools to incorporate African-American history into their social studies curriculum—would be one important step forward.

Resistance

The people are standing up to Bill A1114. A campaign called Good Kids, Bad Cities initiated by community organizers and the National Independent Black Parent Association has created a petition against the bill which will be presented to the New Jersey Assembly.

On Friday June 30th, a large group of community members and activists from Black Lives Matter NJ, Students of Color NJ, Anakbayan NJ, and the Party for Socialism and Liberation gathered against the racist bill in Trenton and marched from the train station to the New Jersey State House.

At the State House, we held a rally where the community announced six demands that need to be addressed immediately. Throughout the protest, the police sought to intimidate and threaten organizers. They did not allow us to enter the State House even though it is a public building. There was media coverage as the crowd swelled and many community members and bystanders joined the call for action proving that there’s power in unity.

The Democrats: not our friends

Bill A1114 demonstrates that it does not matter if it’s on the federal, state, or local level, the Democratic Party and its representatives do not represent workers. They only seek policies and laws that maintain the status quo, benefit the most powerful and protect repressive state institutions. The true resistance remains in grassroots organizations that fight fearlessly and remain independent of the Democratic Party.

In memory of the youth and all the victims slain by the police, we vow to stand strong against Bil A1114 and every measure that harms our people. We remain in solidarity with all the families mourning their fallen children. To paraphrase Caribbean revolutionary Maurice Bishop: “The greatest way to honor our fallen warriors is by picking up the weapons they left behind.”

Source*

Related Topics:

New Jersey Town Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuit With Islamic Group for $3.25mn*

Gentrification of #HarlemIsHarlem*

Gentrification and Police Terror Continues in North Sacramento*

Black NYPD Officers Sue the Department, Were Pressured to Meet Quotas of Black Arrests*

From Public Schools to Indoctrination Centres*

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From 15 Million Acres to 1 Million: How Black People Lost Their Land*

From 15 Million Acres to 1 Million: How Black People Lost Their Land*

By David Love

Slave Quarters at the Hermitage plantation,Chatham County, Georgia

 

At its height, Black land ownership was impressive. At the turn of the 20th century, formerly enslaved Black people and their heirs owned 15 million acres of land, primarily in the South, mostly used for farming. In 1920, the 925,000 African-American farms represented 14% of the farms in America.

Sadly, things turned for the worse, as 600,000 Black farmers were forced off their land, with only 45,000 Black farms remaining in 1975. Now, Black folks are only 1% of rural landowners in the U.S., and under 2% of farmers. Of the 1 billion acres of arable land in America, Black people today own a little more than 1 million acres, according to AP.

During the Obama administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture settled with Black farmers for $2.3 billion for their longstanding claims of discrimination in farm loans and other government programs.

Over the years, Black people have lost their land through a number of circumstances, including government action, deception and a reign of domestic terror in the South that forced Black people from their homes through threats of violence and lynching. That terror and economic exploitation precipitated the Great Migration, which resulted in the uprooting of over 6 million Black people from the South and their relocation to the North, Midwest and West between 1916 and 1970.

How we lost the land is an untold story.

An investigation by AP documented the process by which people were tricked or intimated out of their property. In this study of 107 land takings in 13 Southern and border states, 406 landowners lost over 24,000 acres of farm and timber land and 85 properties such as city lots and stores. The property, which today is owned by white people and corporations, is valued in the tens of millions of dollars. In recent years, groups such as the Federation of Southern Cooperatives in Atlanta and the Land Loss Prevention Project in Durham, N.C., receive new reports of land takings on a regular basis, while the Penn Center in St. Helena Island, S.C., has gathered 2,000 such cases. One story from the AP provides the context by which families lost their land to thievery and violence:

After midnight on Oct. 4, 1908, 50 hooded white men surrounded the home of a black farmer in Hickman, Ky., and ordered him to come out for a whipping. When David Walker refused and shot at them instead, the mob poured coal oil on his house and set it afire, according to contemporary newspaper accounts. Pleading for mercy, Walker ran out the front door, followed by four screaming children and his wife, carrying a baby in her arms. The mob shot them all, wounding three children and killing the others. Walker’s oldest son never escaped the burning house. No one was ever charged with the killings, and the surviving children were deprived of the farm their father died defending. Land records show that Walker’s 2 1/2-acre farm was simply folded into the property of a white neighbour. The neighbour soon sold it to another man, whose daughter owns the undeveloped land today.

Land is among the most important assets people can own. Certainly, for the rural society in which many African Americans traditionally have lived, land represented prosperity, intergenerational wealth, family and community. According to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), land can be “a vital part of cultural and social identities, a valuable asset to stimulate economic growth and a central component to preserving natural resources and building societies that are inclusive, resilient and sustainable.”

“It’s more about land as a home, it’s about economics and culture, all rolled up into one,” Jennie L. Stephens, executive director of the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation said. Based in Charleston, S.C., the organization serves 15 counties in the Palmetto State, including the Lowcountry, where Gullah-Geechee have struggled to hold onto their ancestral homelands on the Sea Islands in the face of development, gentrification and corporate intrusion. For generations, families have had the land, procured through the blood, sweat and tears of their ancestors, until many are forced to sell it.

The Center promotes sustainable land use to help historically underserved families realize the wealth-building asset of their land, and prevents heirs’ property owners from losing their land. Under the concept of heirs’ property, a form of communal land ownership found among rural communities of the South, both Black and white, numerous heirs of the original landowner are co-owners of the land, each owning a percentage share. They may be 20, 30, 40 or more people scattered around the country, and in some cases, have never visited the land and may not even know they are co-owners. The problem arises when corporations and developers entice family members to sell their share, becoming family members themselves and forcing a partition sale, a court-mandated auction sale of the land, all without notice to the other family members.

“It is a real issue,” said Tish Lynn, director of communications at the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation.  Lynn said that across the Southeast and throughout the country, land has been in the hands of African-American families through heirs’ titles, passed from generation to generation without a clear title to the land. Rather, land was passed through oral tradition, without access to the judicial system or the ability to hire a lawyer. Although heirs’ property is a rural characteristic rather than a racial one, for Black people who have had more than their share of exploitation, the suffering is compounded.

“I talk about it as an injustice. We call it legalized theft. We’re trying to level the playing field by clearing the title,” Lynn said.

Jennie Stephens noted that while the issue of land loss is not new, it is receiving more attention these days. Indigenous Black landowners now find themselves grappling with the same land loss issues facing Native Americans. Once thought to be the most unproductive land, now everyone wants to live in the Sea Islands area. Lynn calls the Charleston coastal area a magnet, with “40 new people coming every day, and the attraction of industry, Boeing, Volvo and the desirability of living here has logarithmically increased the pressure of development.” Hurricane Hugo helped shine a light on issues facing the coast as forests amid these heirs’ properties were destroyed. With few laws on the books to protect landowners, it is easily lost and families torn apart.

“We started to look at the tax-assessed value of the land of all the individuals we provide legal advice and counsel,”

Stephens said of the clients whose land her organization seeks to protect, which is roughly 300 people each year.

“Over the last year, the tax-assessed value is $38.4 million,” she noted.

Hilton Head Island is a most salient example of once-predominantly Black-owned land that is now in majority white hands, due in no small measure to partition sales. Beaufort County, S.C., which includes Hilton Head, was 57% Black in 1950 but is now 77% white, as The Nation reported, with Black farmers falling from half of all farmers throughout the state to only 7% today.

For heirs’ property owners, clearing the title to the land is a key to helping them use it as an economic engine.

“When natural disasters occur, they cannot access FEMA funds because they don’t have clear title. You can’t apply for any other housing rehab programs that require clear title. Where does that leave you? You need a bucket or you have to move,” Stephens said.

“Oftentimes, landowners don’t come and ask for help until there is an emergency or there has been an increase in the [tax] assessment of the property. … If people don’t receive help in title issues, the land will be lost. The land will become a gated community. Boeing is expanding, Volvo is expanding. Some of our folk are already being asked, ‘Do you want to sell your land?’”

The land loss these Black populations are experiencing is a gentrification issue transposed onto rural communities, as Lynn noted. While it is an economic issue, it is also an environmental one, as Stephens emphasized:

“Once the land is lost, it is not left green anymore. Now, you see these condos with asphalt. It does not only impact the landowner but entire communities,” she noted, adding that people who moved there because they loved the way the land looks are themselves changing the way the land originally looked.

There is some relief in sight for heirs’ property owners in South Carolina, in what could signal a trend for the rest of the South. In 2016, then-Gov. Nikki Haley signed the Clementa C. Pinckney Uniform Partition of Heirs’ Property Act, named in honor of the state lawmaker among the eight murdered in an act of racial terror at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church in 2015. The law allows co-tenants to buy out the shares of land speculators — making it difficult for land to be sold through the courts — and allows judges to consider factors such as the sentimental, ancestral and fair market value of the property.

While the Pinckney Act is one example in the right direction, throughout the nation, Black wealth is continuously undercut. For example, the Great Recession, and the attendant subprime mortgage crisis that preyed upon Black and Latino homeowners through institutional racism and discriminatory lending, was a period of historic losses of wealth. According to the Urban Institute, Black families lost 31% of their wealth between 2007 and 2010, Hispanics 44%. As a result, the racial wealth gap continues and Black folks find themselves hamstrung, unable to build for the future and pass down their legacy to successive generations.

“If you can get people to maximize their potential through land, they don’t need a handout,” Jennie Stephens said, underscoring the importance of owning the land and building family wealth.

“It is time for your child to go off to college. Maybe you have had trees growing for awhile. One person who has clear title, they had the trees cut off their land and were able to send their children to college without student loans. That money was not a loss to their family, literally that wealth was passed to their family,” she added.

“That’s a very simple example of wealth building, the fact these children can come out of college without a student loan. You’re starting out and not in the negative. And if your parents managed that land, you get to go back and cut the trees again. If you have clear title, you can get a mortgage and a home equity line of credit.”

Source*

Related Topics:

Gentrification of #HarlemIsHarlem*

U.N. Agenda 21 Still Advancing Worldwide*

Gentrification and Police Terror Continues in North Sacramento*

How the Gullah/Geechee Nations Are Fighting Against Culture Vultures Set on Destroying Them*

Puerto Rico: Push the Poor out so the Rich can Move in*

Detroit in the New Fight for Water Rights*

Water as a Weapon in Baltimore*

Chevron and Exxon: The Criminals Behind Katrina*

Interactive Map Reveals the Horrific History of Lynching in the United States*

Interactive Map Reveals the Horrific History of Lynching in the United States*

“Today’s police shootings of unarmed African-American men and the mass incarceration of black people are a legacy of slavery and lynching.”

Google.org — Google’s philanthropic arm —partnered with the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to fighting for racial civil rights and created an interactive website showing the dark and harrowing history of lynching in the United States. The website reads:

Lynching in America was a form of terrorism that has contributed to a legacy of racial inequality that our nation must address more directly and concretely than we have to date. The trauma and anguish that lynching and racial violence created in this country continues to haunt us and to contaminate race relations and our criminal justice system in too many places across this country.

Apart from an interactive map that chronicles almost every documented lynching against African-Americans between the 1830s and 1960s, the website provides audio stories, photos, videos, and an extensive 77-page report of one of the ugliest parts of American history.

“This site features painful stories of America’s history of racial injustice. In order to heal the deep wounds of our present, we must face the truth of our past. After slavery was formally abolished, lynching emerged as a vicious tool of racial control to reestablish white supremacy and suppress black civil rights.

More than 4,000 African Americans were lynched across twenty states between 1877 and 1950. These lynching were public acts of racial terrorism, intended to instill fear in entire black communities. Government officials frequently turned a blind eye or condoned the mob violence. The effects of racial terror lynching are still felt today.”

Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, says the goal of the project titled Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror is to “spark a national dialogue about a subject that is too rarely discussed yet is crucial to understanding racism today.”

“Today’s police shootings of unarmed African-American men and the mass incarceration of black people are a legacy of slavery and lynching. Black people are seen through a lens of racial difference that presumes their guilt, resulting in wrongful arrests, convictions and death sentences.

“I think our history has created a kind of smog that we all breathe in. We don’t even talk about the fact that we are living in a polluted environment that has been corrupted by this history of all kinds of racial inequality. We want to change how we think about this era in America.”

Source*

Related Topics:

Trauma Has Trickled Down for Generations*

U.N. Team ‘Concerned’ About African Americans*

African-American Autism and Vaccines*

CDC Admits MMR Vaccine Increases Autism Risk, Particularly in African American Boys.

African-American Women and Childbirth

Africa’s Auschwitz: The Concentration Camp the West Erased from History*

The U.S. is Waging a Massive Shadow War in Africa, Exclusive Documents Reveal*

James Baldwin Issues a Wake-Up Call to Black America*

African Woman Schools U.N. Delegate on Why Pushing Abortion is ‘neo-colonialism’*

Police Killing Indigenous Americans at Astounding Rate*

‘We Charge Genocide’: Systematic Murder & Oppression of Blacks Continues in U.S.*

 

 

Officials Face Involuntary Manslaughter Charges for Flint Water Crisis*

Officials Face Involuntary Manslaughter Charges for Flint Water Crisis*

“Everyone has to die of something,” said one of the accused.

By Yessenia Funes

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced charges relating to the investigation into the water crisis on April 20, 2016, in Flint, Michigan. He is leading this investigation and announced new charges today. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

 

The investigation over the water crisis in Flint, Michigan is ongoing, with Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announcing felony charges against two new individuals today (June 14) and additional charges for four others.

The predominantly Black city of nearly 100,000 saw toxic levels of lead in its water back in 2014 as a result of the city and state deciding to switch its drinking water source. The water is still not 100 percent safe to drink. But the lead wasn’t the only issue with the water after the switch: A Legionnaire’s disease outbreak overtook Genesee County, where Flint sits, and killed 12 people in 2015 and 2016. Legionnaire’s is an extreme form of pneumonia caused by bacteria and afflicted—but didn’t kill—another 79 people.

Nick Lyon

Nick Lyon, the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), is being charged with two felonies: misconduct in office and involuntary manslaughter for the death of 85-year-old Robert Skidmore, one of the 12 who died of Legionnaire’s disease during the outbreak. Lyon is the highest-ranking official to face charges in the investigation.

This is what Schuette had to say about Lyon on Twitter:

Mr. Lyon failed in his responsibilities to protect the health and safety of citizens of Flint.

— A.G. Bill Schuette (@SchuetteOnDuty) June 14, 2017

After allegedly being informed of the growing legionella situation in Flint, Nick Lyon failed to inform the public of this health threat.

— A.G. Bill Schuette (@SchuetteOnDuty) June 14, 2017

This threat cost the life of Robert Skidmore.

— A.G. Bill Schuette (@SchuetteOnDuty) June 14, 2017

The MDHHS’s chief medical executive, Eden Wells, is also facing a felony charge for obstruction of justice and a misdemeanour for lying to a peace officer. She allegedly provided false testimony to a special agent and threatened to withhold funding for the Flint Area Community Health and Environment Partnership if the partnership didn’t stop investigating the Legionnaire’s outbreak in Flint. Schuette said this about her on Twitter:

Ms. Wells, as the Chief Medical Officer of Michigan, similarly failed to protect the health and safety of citizens of Flint.

— A.G. Bill Schuette (@SchuetteOnDuty) June 14, 2017

During the investigation of the Flint Water Crisis, Wells allegedly attempted to withhold funding for programs designed to help victims.

— A.G. Bill Schuette (@SchuetteOnDuty) June 14, 2017

Ms. Wells then allegedly lied to an investigator about material facts related to the investigation.

— A.G. Bill Schuette (@SchuetteOnDuty) June 14, 2017

The four individuals for whom the state is adding charges include Stephen Busch, a water supervisor for the state’s department of environmental quality; Liane Shekter-Smith, former chief of drinking water and municipal assistance at the department; Howard Croft, previously the director of the Flint Department of Public Works; and Darnell Earley, the former emergency manager for the City of Flint.

The state had already filed charges against these individuals, but Schuette is now giving the four an additional felony charge of involuntary manslaughter related to Skidmore’s death. “Our charge is to determine what laws, if any, were broken,” Schuette wrote on Twitter. “And if so, to hold violators responsible. I owe that to the families of Flint.”

Lyon’s charges are most explicit in the warrant packet the attorney general’s office provided online: It alleges that the MDHHS director knew about the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak by at least January 2015 but failed to notify the public until a year later. He can face up to 15 years for this crime.

“At that time, Defendant [Lyon] knew that Legionnaires’ disease was deadly and that, if no mitigating steps were taken, the outbreak was likely to occur again,” the document goes on. Lyon later said, per the warrant, that “he can’t save everyone” and that “everyone has to die of something.”

Gov. Rick Snyder is standing by Lyon and Wells, who currently hold positions with the state, writing in a statement:

“Director Lyon and Dr. Eden Wells, like every other person who has been charged with a crime by Bill Schuette, are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Some state employees were charged over a year ago and have been suspended from work since that time. They still have not had their day in court. That is not justice for Flint nor for those who have been charged. Director Lyon and Dr. Wells have been and continue to be instrumental in Flint’s recovery. They have my full faith and confidence, and will remain on duty at DHHS.”

Residents and activists have been vocal in that they want to see Snyder face charges too as many find him responsible behind the lead-tainted water. Schuette said at the press conference today that investigators have attempted to interview Snyder on his role in the manmade disaster, but they have been unsuccessful.

“We only file criminal charges when evidence of probable cause to commit a crime has been established,” he said.

Schuette launched this criminal probe in January 2016 after the state requested that former President Barack Obama declare a state of emergency regarding the dangerous lead levels in Flint’s water supply. Now, the case is entering a new phase, as Schuette explained in the press conference: prosecution.

Source*

Related Topics:

Flint City Council Votes for Moratorium on Property Liens for Unpaid Water Bills*

Flint Threatens to Kick 8,000 Families Out of Their Homes if They Don’t Pay for Poison Water*

Flint to get New Pipes after $87mn Settlement*

A Water Crisis Like Flint’s Is Unfolding In East Chicago*

City Threatens to Turn Off Flint Residents’ Water*

In Flint, Level of lead in Children’s Blood Leads to a State of Emergency*

Gentrification of #HarlemIsHarlem*

Gentrification of #HarlemIsHarlem*

Harlem is the latest area of NYC to be overrun by white people seeking to take over the historic district and rename it. (Source: Max Pixel)

 

Are Black people losing Harlem to gentrification? And what is SoHa? Gentrifiers want to rename Harlem between 110th and 125th Streets SoHa for Southern Harlem. We have been here before. Welcome to the world of gentrification. This latest move has local residents furious, amid this latest attempt to rob Black people of their culture and their community.

Some realtors and store owners are making the move and attempting to rebrand the neighborhood, as NY1 reported. This is an effort by some interests to make the area appear trendy in an effort to appeal to outsiders. The name evokes images of other trendy Manhattan communities such as SoHo, Tribeca, NoMad and Nolita. However, the rebranding effort has Harlemites concerned that this initiative will only whitewash this capital of Black America and erase the history of this unique and historic part of New York City in the process.

Community and political leaders are speaking out.

“How dare someone try to rob our culture, and try to act as if we were not here, and create a new name, a new reality as if the clock started when other people showed up?” said State Senator-Elect Brian Benjamin at a recent news conference, according to NY1.

“No real estate company, no coffee shop, no business should be using the term SoHa to refer to Harlem,” added Danni Tyson, a Community Board 10 member and real estate broker.

Tyson noted that Harlem already has a wonderful brand name that is known all over the world.

Rev. James Booker Jr., of St. John AME Church on W. 131st Street said that rebranding Harlem to increase profits for the New York real estate board would greatly diminish the economic strength of New York City. “Folks wanna change the name so they can move a lot of us who look like us out,” Rev. Booker told the New York Daily News.

One spoken word poet, Jaylene Clark, captured the sentiments of the community regarding gentrification with her poem “SpaHa” (short for Spanish Harlem) a few years ago:

Other folks have taken to social media to express their outrage and indignation, and express concerns over what is in store for Harlem and what needs to be done in response:

Ya’ll want to live in Harlem but don’t want to accept it’s cultural history and name then stay the F out of Harlem. #SOHA #NOtoSOHA #FOH

— Jem (@JemClassic) May 27, 2017

#SoHa? No it’s called #Harlem, an area with a rich history and a vibrant community. Don’t whitewash history.

— Tony H (@tonyhemp) May 26, 2017

Just hope the #SoHa controversy leads to a real conversation about tenants rights, property ownership, and equitable community development.

— Hayling (@BrotherHayling) June 1, 2017

Go ahead, tell me you live in #SOHA so I can punch your #gentrification dumbass until you start bleeding kale #NYC

— Zo (@zo_718) May 29, 2017

Home to such iconic institutions as the Schomburg Center and the Apollo Theater, Harlem has served as a cultural, political and economic center for Black America over the years and has cultivated generations of Black leadership. Now, Harlem, not unlike so many other cities across the nation, faces gentrification as indigenous Black residents are pushed out of communities they can no longer afford, becoming strangers in their own neighborhoods. From Atlanta, Austin and Baltimore to CharlestonMiami, New Orleans and San Francisco, gentrification is impacting people everywhere. This, as low-income people are evicted in order to make way for high-tech startups, hipsters and the well-to-do, those who have no stake in these spaces they invade and claim as their own and no appreciation for the people they displace.

This most recent controversy in Harlem comes as the New York borough of Brooklyn emerges as the most expensive place to live — in the country. Last year, Bloomberg reported that Brooklyn outpaced even Manhattan and San Francisco in its cost of living. The median sales price for housing is $615,000, and it takes 98% of Brooklyn residents’ median income to afford a monthly payment on a place to live. Investors dominate the market in Brooklyn, where 70% of people rent and rental prices are increasing.

In the Bed-Stuy section of Brooklyn, where gentrification has taken hold, the famed two-story mural of the late rapper Biggie Smalls has been threatened with destruction. As Vibe reported, a landlord — who claimed he received complaints from tenants who claimed the mural received too much attention from tourists—  planned to remove the mural from the side of a building to add more windows and raise the rent. The creators of the mural reached an agreement with the landlord and the mural will remain for now.

But this is not over, as so many of our cultural institutions, our living spaces and our communities are whitewashed, rebranded and renamed, and the people threatened with removal, all for the sake of profits for others. Where does it leave us if we cannot even name our own home, much less live in it?

Source*

Related Topics:

Gentrification and Police Terror Continues in North Sacramento*

How the Gullah/Geechee Nations Are Fighting Against Culture Vultures Set on Destroying Them*

Dear White People – an Open Letter*

Puerto Rico: Push the Poor out so the Rich can Move in*

Water as a Weapon in Baltimore*

Koch Brothers Made a Fortune from Hurricane Katrina Victims*

Chevron and Exxon: The Criminals Behind Katrina*

 

Flint City Council Votes for Moratorium on Property Liens for Unpaid Water Bills*

Flint City Council Votes for Moratorium on Property Liens for Unpaid Water Bills*

Council president Kerry Nelson: “Enough is enough. I’ve made up my mind tonight to do what I need to do for the people who elected me.”

By Kenrya Rankin

A trash bag filled with empty water bottles and water filters outside of a house on March 17, 2016, in Flint, Michigan. Flint continues to work through the effects of water contamination. Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

 

Last month, Flint, Michigan, officials informed more than 8,000 households that if they do not pay outstanding water bills, a lien will be placed on their property, setting them on a path that could lead to foreclosure. But on Wednesday (May 17), Flint City Council passed a resolution that, if approved by Mayor Karen Weaver, will institute a yearlong moratorium on the policy of issuing liens.

Many residents stopped paying their water bills when it was revealed that the water being delivered to their homes via the tap contained dangerous levels of lead. The state subsidized the city’s water costs from April 2014 through February of this year, but stopped after announcing that the water’s lead levels were within federal guidelines.

Michigan Radio reports that council members were moved to act after receiving calls from constituents. “Enough is enough. I’ve made up my mind tonight to do what I need to do for the people who elected me,” council president Kerry Nelson said.

The resolution says that properties with delinquent balances going back to April 2014—when the city began drawing its water from the Flint River—will not have liens placed on them. Eight council members voted for it, and one abstained, citing unanswered legal questions.

“The ordinance can’t go back retroactively, and pull liens off of houses that have already been lost. That was the main reason,” council member Eric Mays told Michigan Radio.

Nelson said that both the city attorney and chief financial officer asked him not to pass the moratorium for the sake of the city’s finances.

“It’s time out for that,” Nelson said.

“The people of this city are suffering. They’re troubled, they’re at their wits’ end…. We’ve got to do what we can do. I’ve done what I can do.”

The American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund also lobbied for the moratorium, prompting a May 16 statement from Weaver. From that statement:

I welcome the support and input of the ACLU of Michigan and the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund as this difficult and unfortunate situation has brought another dark cloud over the city and the progress being made to recover from the water crisis. The City of Flint is legally obligated to comply with some city and state statutes that are not suitable or appropriate when you consider the extenuating circumstances we are still facing.

Source*

Related Topics:

Flint Threatens to Kick 8,000 Families Out of Their Homes if They Don’t Pay for Poison Water*

Flint to get New Pipes after $87mn Settlement*

A Water Crisis Like Flint’s Is Unfolding In East Chicago*

City Threatens to Turn Off Flint Residents’ Water*

In Flint, Level of lead in Children’s Blood Leads to a State of Emergency*

Europe and U.S. Dodging Demands for Slavery Reparations*

Europe and U.S. Dodging Demands for Slavery Reparations*

European Slavery lasted over 400 years on estates in the Caribbean and The Americas. Now the descendants of African slaves are demanding not just apologies but also atonement for the greatest crime against humanity ever known to mankind

 

By Earl Bousquet

The recent furore in Grenada over whether slave history has a role in tourism promotion is an important development that fits smack in the middle of the ongoing Caribbean discussion on reparations from Europe for slavery and native genocide.

Today, over 180 years after abolition, descendants of African slaves in the Caribbean, North and South America are demanding reparations for slavery from Europe – and the United States.

In the Caribbean, the demands include apology and atonement for 400 years of both slavery and native genocide; in the USA it’s about compensation for African American descendants of slaves; and in South America, today’s descendants of Africans (who arrived both as shipwrecked mariners and slaves) are demanding their fair share of recognition, equality and atonement.

Africa and the Caribbean experienced the brunt of the brutal slave trade that saw Europeans sail to West Africa, kidnap millions of men and women and ship them like animal cargo to the newly colonized ‘West Indies’ captured through wars of extermination against the original native ‘Caribs’ and ‘Arawaks’.

While the focus of British and French slavery was mainly concentrated on the Antillean (Caribbean) islands and mainland territories (including Haiti) that they claimed to own, the Portuguese and Spanish concentrated on South American mainland territories such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, as well as the larger islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico.

In the case of the USA and South America (except in Brazil), African descendants form small minorities, unlike the 15 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member-states, where they form an absolute majority, in each case.

CARICOM governments have thus easily and collectively agreed to a joint approach to the European Union (E.U.) member-states that benefited from slavery, inviting them to discuss reparations by way of acknowledgement and atonement.

The E.U. countries have so far resisted engaging the Caribbean in any discussions whatsoever on reparations, the likes of former British PM David Cameron saying during an official visit to Jamaica that traditional aid and assistance given by Britain since independence to the former colonies has sufficed.

But the response by the Britain, Denmark, France, The Netherlands, Portugal and Spain, thus far, (or lack thereof) is very much unlike when France demanded reparations after the first African slaves in the Caribbean – and the world — successfully revolted.

Haitian slaves, led by Toussaint L’Ouverture, rebelled in 1791 and declared their independence in 1804. Not even in Africa had a free nation yet been born and the humiliated slave masters enlisted the support of the French government to make the former slaves pay dearly for their freedom.

In 1825, France demanded 90 million gold francs to recognize Haiti’s independence — the same amount demanded in compensation by the former slave masters.

Historians and economists agree that this high cost paid by Haiti to France over 122 years (payments continued until 1947) is largely responsible for the country having been almost eternally anchored in poverty.

In 2003, Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide called on Paris to return the 90 million gold francs, by then estimated at U.S. $21 billion. Soon after, however, he was swiftly and secretly taken hostage by U.S. and French forces and exiled to South Africa.

French President Francois Hollande, in May 2015, ahead of a visit to Port au Prince, said Paris “will repay its debt” to Haiti – only to later retract, saying he only meant repaying France’s “moral debt”.

The Hollande disappointment notwithstanding, no other concerned E.U. member-state has even mentioned the possibility of considering paying reparations for slavery – in the Caribbean or North or South America.

Same in the USA, where not even President Barack Obama accommodated calls to initiate reparations moves and to pay to survivors the wages of the slaves who built the White House.

In 1865, Union General William Sherman set aside thousands of acres of land for newly-freed American slaves, by way of a special field order. But President Andrew Johnson soon returned the titles to the original white owners. Freed slaves were also each promised “40 acres and mule” to start their own lives. But here too they were disappointed.

The U.S. Congressional Black Caucus has for the past 28 years backed a bill called HR-40, submitted annually by Michigan Rep. John Conyers, calling for a commission to study “the Reparations Proposals for African Americans Act”. Designed to examine the negative effects of slavery, it also seeks to “recommend appropriate remedies”. But HR-40 has long been referred to the House Judiciary Committee, where it has since remained…

U.S. blacks are somewhat divided over what mechanism to use to assess the real costs and value of slave wages and related rates of conversion over the centuries slavery lasted.

Likewise, white Americans largely reject calls by blacks for reparations, some seriously arguing that ‘slaves were freed by the Civil War’ and ‘blacks benefited from affirmative action’ government policies over the years.

The reparations movement is however gaining traction across the hemispheric horizon.

The momentum has just begun in South America, with an International Reparations Conference held in Cali, Colombia in March 2017, essentially to outline a road map for the movement for recognition and inclusion of the African-descended minority across the continent.

The African Americans are encouraged by a 2016 report by the Geneva-based United Nations Working Group on People of African Descent, urging U.S. lawmakers to implement reparations, citing “a legacy of colonial history, enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality.”

Also, according to an exclusive poll released in March 2017 in conjunction with a new PBS Series ‘Point Taken’, 40% of US ‘millennials’ think there should be reparations for African American descendants of enslaved people.

Indeed, some of the leaders of the revived reparations movement in the USA are confident enough of the momentum gained thus far to conclude that ‘this could be reparations’ best chance since 1865.’

In the Caribbean, the governments’ approach is naturally quite different from North and South America – more diplomatic than agitational, seeking dialogue over confrontation.

In March 2014, the CARICOM governments unanimously adopted the ten-point plan to demand “Reparatory Justice for the victims of Crimes against Humanity in the forms of genocide, slavery, slave trading and racial apartheid.” The E.U. member-states that built their imperial wealth on slavery were also duly informed.

A CARICOM Regional Reparations Commission was also appointed (chaired by the vice chancellor of the University of the West Indies Sir Hilary Beckles), with national reparations committees also established in member-states.

The Caribbean hasn’t put a price tag on slavery, even though a sum of US $17 trillion is often mentioned. Instead, it’s seeking a mutually agreed CARICOM-E.U. approach to what forms the atonement will take, to the common and mutual benefit of all the CARICOM states and peoples.

Failing this negotiated approach, the Caribbean countries reserve the right to file formal criminal charges against the culprit E.U. member-states at the International Criminal Court (ICC)).

Citing the will of the Western world to proudly acknowledge and atone for the Jewish Holocaust, reparations paid by the U.S. government to Japanese interned during World War II, reparations made to U.S. native peoples and Britain recently being ordered by its own courts to pay reparations to tribal Kenyan ‘Mau -Mau’ independence fighters, CARICOM feels it has a very good case.

Those demanding reparations for slavery everywhere are also buoyed by the U.N.’s declaration of 2015 to 2024 as the Decade for People of African Descent.

The CARICOM Prime Ministerial Subcommittee on Reparations (led by Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart) met in late April 2017 to review European responses to their request for a negotiated settlement.

In the meantime, the 15 member-states, including Haiti, are preparing their individual legal cases for collective submission to the ICC, should the culprit E.U. member-states continue to dodge and dither to duck their individual and collective responsibilities for the greatest ‘crime against humanity’ known to mankind.

The reparations demands by African descendants in CARICOM, U.S. and South American states do have the backing of regional and international entities, including similar non-governmental Europe-based movements and an increasing level of interest and support from African states and entities, including the African Union (A.U.) and the Pan African Congress (PAC).

The European and American governments today may continue to duck their responsibilities. But the results of the strong reparations demands on them, whether achieved today or tomorrow, also offer added hope to the likes of the Australian Aborigines and New Zealand’s Maori first peoples, who may have received formal apologies, but continue to feel treated less than equal in the lands they first inhabited.

Meanwhile, the Grenada ‘slavery and tourism’ discussion is an interesting starting point to revive earlier discussions on the establishment of a national reparations committee (NRC) for Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique.

That will not only be in line with the reality of the vast majority of CARICOM member-states (where NRCs exist), but will also facilitate ongoing discussion across the three-island state on reparations and related issues during the U.N. Decade for People of African Descent, which continues until December 31, 2024.

Source*

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