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Posts from the ‘Racism’ Category

Podcast: British Citizens Are Being Stripped Of Citizenship, Then Killed In US Drone Strikes

This week marks our 10th episode of Unauthorized Disclosure. To celebrate, Kevin Gosztola and I spoke with independent journalist Aviva Stahl about her killer piece at The Nation on how the UK is stripping dual citizens of their British citizenship in an arbitrary and secretive process called citizenship deprivation.

Some of those subjected to citizen deprivation, often while out of the country, have subsequently been killed in US drone strikes, while others have been kidnapped, tortured, renditioned and imprisoned by the United States, suggesting a degree of collusion between the US and UK in what amounts to a clearly racist policy.  As Aviva points out, citizen deprivation “creates a two-tiered racialized system of citizenship…because only dual citizens can be deprived, either someone who is naturalized or someone who has foreign-born parents.” “It basically means that white so-called indigenous citizens kind of maintain all of their citizenship protections but people of color don’t,” she explained.

In the discussion portion, Kevin and I talk about how former RT anchor Liz Wahl’s on-air resignation was stage managed and continues to be exploited by a cadre of neoconservatives who want to reignite the Cold War. You can read more about these Cold War hawks in a piece I co-authored with journalist Max Blumenthal at Truthdig.

Keep in mind that these are the same people who crafted and pushed for the illegal Iraq war. These are the same people pushing for war with Iran. These are the same people who wanted to bomb Syria. And now, these same people are using Russia’s inexcusable belligerence in Ukraine to push for more US military involvement in Eastern Europe.

To understand why neoconservatives are so toxic, look no further than Iraq, which just marked the 11 year anniversary of the US invasion, a crime against humanity that transformed Iraq into the blood-stained hellhole that it is today.

You can listen to the episode here or you can subscribe to it for free on iTunes here.

Below is the transcript of our interview with Aviva: Read more

Jury: Police Killing Of Unarmed Anaheim Man Justified Because Victim Dressed Like Gang Member

Manuel Diaz with his daughter in undated family photo.

Manuel Diaz with his daughter in undated family photo. (OC Weekly)

On July 27, 2012, 24-year-old Manuel Diaz was shot in the back of the head by Anaheim police officer Nick Bennallack. Officers then stood over Diaz, who was unarmed, for three minutes, watching him twitch and bleed out before doing anything. It was an execution.

Almost two years later, a federal jury has rejected a lawsuit against the officer and the city filed by Diaz’s mother claiming police used excessive force. Why? Because it happened in a neighborhood where there are gangs and Diaz was, according to police, dressed like a “gang member”.

Read more

For Marissa Alexander The System Is Working Exactly As Its Racist Architects Intended

Marissa Alexander (MSNBC)

Marissa Alexander, undated family photo (Lincoln B. Alexander/AP)

If ever you needed proof that the system, from the institutional to the individual, is stacked against people of color, look no further than Marissa Alexander.

Florida state prosecutor Angela Corey is seeking to put Marissa Alexander behind bars for 60 years because she had the audacity to defend her life.

Alexander, a 33-year-old black mother of three and survivor of domestic violence, was initially sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot into the wall of her home in 2012 with her legally owned gun to scare off her abusive husband, who’s violence is well documented. No one was harmed but Corey prosecuted anyway.

After nearly three years behind bars, Alexander was granted a new trial.

But Corey—the same prosecutor who failed to put Trayvon’s killer in prison, who refused to address race during the trial of Jordan Davis’ killer and who leads the state in prosecuting black children as adults—is now aiming for three 20 year sentences for Alexander, which amounts to a life sentence.

This is an outrage, for sure, but unfortunately it’s not at all surprising. I say that because the criminal justice system is working exactly as intended by the white racists who built it.

This is after all the same system that punishes victims of police brutality who are lucky enough to survive, like Kwadir Felton, Leon Ford Jr., Lamont Earl Dukes, Glenn Broadnax and Andre Fiorentino.

This is the same system that required massive public protests to even consider prosecuting the man who killed Renisha McBride.

This is the same system that sentenced John McNeil to life in prison for shooting a white man who was coming at him with a knife.

This is the same system that views black children as disposable, shutting down their schools while shuffling them into prison.

And the list goes on.

Yet we keep looking to this backwards system as the solution to securing justice for the countless people of color this nation has wronged. How much more proof do we need that the system is fucked before we stop trying to “reform” it and start trying to dismantle and rebuild it? I don’t know the answer to that, but it’s something to think about.

In the meantime, you can support Marissa Alexander by donating to her legal fund.

Podcast: Jordan Davis, Colorblind Prosecutions And ‘Presumed Guiltiness of Black Bodies’

UD3On this week’s episode of Unauthorized Disclosure, Kevin Gosztola and I speak with independent journalist and filmmaker Raven Rakia about the Michael Dunn verdict, Jordan Davis’ defiance of respectability politics, the lack of outrage over police killings, and how structural and implicit racism work together to perpetuate what Raven calls the “presumed guiltiness of black bodies.”

The prosecution’s omission of race from the Dunn trial, explained Raven, “plays to the need for a colorblind society…so people don’t have to take responsibility.”

I encourage you to read Raven’s moving response to the Dunn verdict here. Also, follow her incredible work on twitter at @aintacrow.

In the discussion portion of the show, Kevin and I talk about the nuances missing from US media coverage of the protests in Venezuela and Ukraine, the LAPD’s Israel-inspired love affair with drones, the US Border Patrol killing a Mexican man for allegedly throwing rocks at the officers chasing him, a terrible court decision that absolves the NYPD of wrongdoing for spying on Muslims, and the the disastrous implications for press freedom in the aftermath of the David Miranda case.

Unauthorized Disclosure is finally available on iTunes! You can also download it directly here or you can listen to it here.

Below is a transcript of our interview with Raven.  Read more

LAPD Travels To Israel, Falls In Love With Drones And Mass Surveillance

The HoverMast-100, an Israeli surveillance drone. If the LAPD had their way, they'd would be watching you with this.

The HoverMast-100, an Israeli surveillance drone that the LAPD hopes to add to its arsenal. (Image source: Sky Sapience website)

The Jewish Journal has an incredible write-up on the Los Angeles Police Department’s recent visit to Israel.

For nine days early this month, eight of the LAPD’s highest ranking officers toured Israel on a trip organized by LAPD Deputy Chief and commander of the Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau Michael Downing, and headed by LAPD Information Technology Bureau commander Horace Frank.

While it’s unclear how much the trip cost taxpayers, Frank told the Journal that the trip was financed with “grant funding that was available for us to look at emergency technologies and best practices.”

Since 2001, the US government has doled out tens of billions of dollars in federal grants to local and state police departments in the name of fighting terrorism, so it’s likely that the grant that paid for the LAPD’s Israel trip came from DHS.

Though LAPD officers have visited Israel in the past, this appears to have been the most high-level trip to date. But it wasn’t your typical propaganda tour.

Instead of stopping at the Western Wall or Yad Vesham, officers visited Israel’s private security firms and drone manufacturers, most of them formed by former members of Israel’s top-secret 8200 Unit, which, like the NSA, engages in mass spying and cyber warfareRead more

Michigan Authorities Collude With Tar Sands Company In Jailing Nonviolent Protesters

In the fourth episode of our podcast (we’re working on a name, I swear), Firedoglake’s Kevin Gosztola and I speak with Chloe Gleichman from the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI CATS) about three Michigan activists who face up to two years behind bars for participating in nonviolent direct action to prevent the construction of an Enbridge Inc. tar sands pipeline. 

Last summer, three members of MI CATS—Vicci Hamlin, Barb Carter and Lisa Leggio—locked themselves to excavators at an Enbridge construction site to block the the expansion of a pipeline that ruptured in 2010, flooding the Kalamazoo River with 800,000 gallons of crude oil. On January 31, the three were found guilty of misdemeanor trespassing and resisting and obstructing police, a felony that carries with it a maximum two year prison sentence. Their sentencing hearing is scheduled for March. Until then, they are stuck in prison because the judge denied them bond.

It’s a crime how little attention this story has received. These nonviolent activists are on the front lines of preventing the transport of Canadian tar sands oil, which threatens the health and safety of the entire planet. Their communities are directly impacted by the havoc these pipeline companies and their dirty product wreak. Meanwhile, the system that’s supposed to be protecting them is instead colluding with oil companies to muzzle and imprison their victims. These brave activists need and deserve our support.

After speaking with Chloe, Kevin and I go on to discuss several underreported news items, including a massive coal ash spill in North Carolina, the rising child mortality rate in Detroit that rivals third world countries, the PTSD crisis in poor inner-city neighborhoods that’s going untreated, the cover-up of a lynching in a Texas sundown town, the outrageous George Zimmerman celebrity boxing match (it’s since been called off, thank god) and the trivialization of terrorism at the NATO 3 trial (good news since we recorded, the prosecution lost!).

You can listen to the episode here:

I’m not sure when but very soon you will be able to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, where you can download it automatically. But before that can happen, we need to come up with a name. In the spirit of listener-powered media and community engagement, we’d love to hear your ideas for possible names and of course we will credit you and give you many shout outs if we your suggestion is the winner. You can leave your recommendations in the comments section or tweet us at @kgosztola and @raniakhalek. We look forward to hearing from you! Read more

Unarmed Man Shot And Killed By Houston Cop For Wearing A Hoodie While Black

Jordan Baker

Jordan Baker (Source: ABC 13)

Jordan Baker, a 26-year-old Houston Community College student and father, “took his last breath in a trash-strewn alley behind a Northwest Houston strip center” on Thursday, January 16, all because he was a black man wearing a hoodie.

Houston police officer J Castro, an 11-year veteran who was moonlighting as a security guard for the strip mall that night, was on the lookout for hoodie-wearing armed robbery suspects. Castro says Baker, who was unarmed, matched the description and he shot and killed him as a result.

The police version of events, as reported by the local ABC affiliate, follows the predictable “he wasn’t cooperating and the cop was scared for his life” script: Read more

How NSA Spying Impacts Muslim Communities and Cultivates Islamophobia

In the second episode of our new podcast, Firedoglake’s Kevin Gosztola and I speak with Gadeir Abbas, a staff attorney with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), about the NSA surveillance as it relates to and impacts Muslim communities. This part really stood out and should leave you outraged:

The saddest thing I’ve ever heard as a CAIR staff attorney, and I hear lots of sad things, was when a young guy told me that when he goes to the mosque to pray, his mom warns him to be careful. And the mom warns him to be careful because there’s an understanding based on experience that the mosque is likely filled with informants and infiltrators that are not there to make us any safer but there to extract information from innocent Americans by any means necessary.

That’s right, for once a conversation about NSA spying that focuses, not on white dude bros, but its impact on marginalized communities. Gadeir also breaks down the roots of NSA spying, which was cultivated and justified through the vilification of Muslims.

Next, Kevin and I discuss several news items, including the brain-dead Texas woman kept on life support despite her and her families wishes because she’s pregnant, a series of unfortunate Stand Your Ground cases in Florida and the NATO 3 trial being largely ignored by the mainstream media. We also ponder the likelihood of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio offering to send the NYPD to attack Iran for Israel given his over-the-top masturbutory speech to AIPAC last week. Read more

Jersey City Man Shot In the Face And Blinded By Cop Faces 30 Years In Prison

Kwadir Felton, with his attorney Brooke Barnett, reacts to verdict handed down by jury on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 in Jersey City. Felton was found guilty of aggravated assault and other offenses after being shot by Sgt. Thomas McVicar on Jan. 10, 2010. (Reena Rose Sibayan/The Jersey Journal)

Kwadir Felton, with his attorney Brooke Barnett, reacts to verdict handed down by jury on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 in Jersey City. (Reena Rose Sibayan/The Jersey Journal)

Kwadir Felton, 22, was shot in the face by Jersey City Police Sgt. Thomas McVicar on January 10, 2010, and went blind as a result. Yet it is Felton who faces up to 30 years in prison for aggravated assault of a police officer.

McVicar says he was forced to open fire because Felton, intending to rob him, pointed a gun at him, which was allegedly found lying next to Felton after he’d been shot.

But Felton, who was 18 at the time, adamantly denies that he was armed. He testified that he had just left a baby shower and was on his way to his girlfriend’s house when he heard someone call his name and say, “Yo, you little black mother fucker, you better get the fuck down before I blow your fucking brains out.”

“There’s no reason to have a weapon on me,” Felton told the courtroom. “That’s not me. I was raised better than that.”

Nevertheless, as happens in most cases with black defendants, the jury sided with the cop last month and found Felton guilty on all counts, including aggravated assault of an officer and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. Read more

Black Man Charged With Attempted Murder of Cops Who Nearly Killed Him Says He Was Unarmed

Andre Fiorentino (Photo courtesy of Andre's sister, Arden Hunt)

Andre Fiorentino (Photo courtesy of Andre’s sister, Arden Hunt)

(See update at bottom.)

Andre Fiorentino, 32, says he was unarmed when two Coatesville, Pennsylvania, police officers opened fire on him last month outside his home. He was struck several times and nearly bled out while shackled face down on the ground in front of his mother and 14-year-old son.

Just one day after the incident, the authorities determined that the shooting was justified based on police claims that Fiorentino was armed with two guns and shot at them twice, prompting officers to return fire. Fiorentino has since been charged with attempted murder of two police officers.

But his family isn’t buying it.

Fiorentino’s sister, Arden Hunt, contacted me a few weeks ago about her brother’s case. She pointed to several holes in the police narrative about what took place that night and expressed dismay at the authorities for spending less than 24 hours investigating the incident.

“They justified the shooting within 24 hours without talking to my brother,” Hunt told me. “He couldn’t even speak. He was in an induced coma.” Read more

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