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Protest in New York City against the death of Stephon Clark, March 28th 2018. (REUTERS/Gabriela Bhaskar, via PBS)

Killed so far in 2018: 10
Last update: June 21st 2018.

A very incomplete list of unarmed Black people killed by police so far in the US in 2018:

Those I have done posts on have a bolded link.

format: date: name, age, town, state, cause of death.

  1. January 20th 2018: Arther McAfee Jr, 61, Longview, TX, Gunshot.
  2. February 13th 2018: Ronnell Foster, 33, Vallejo, CA, Gunshot.
  3. March 14th 2018: Shermichael Ezeff, 31, Baton Rouge, LA, Gunshot.
  4. March 15th 2018: Cameron Hall, 27, Casa Grande, AZ, Gunshot.
  5. March 18th 2018: Stephon Clark, 23, Sacramento, CA, Gunshot.
  6. March 22nd 2018: Danny Thomas, 35, Greenspoint, TX, Gunshot.
  7. April 8th 2018: Juan Markee Jones, 25, Danville, VA, Gunshot.
  8. May 14th 2018: Marcus-David L. Peters, 24, Richmond, VA, Taser.
  9. June 11th 2018: Robert Lawrence White, 41, Silver Spring, MD, Gunshot.
  10. June 19th 2018: Antwon Rose, 17, East Pittsburgh, PA, Gunshot.

For now I am following the Washington Post database. Be warned that their overall number of unarmed Blacks killed seems suspiciously low. They count holding toy guns and shower heads as being “armed”.

If you know of any police killings of unarmed Black people by the police in 2018, please tell me in the comments below. Thanks!

I will update this post throughout the year.

– Abagond, 2018.

Source: Washington Post.

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zero tolerance immigration policy

separation-of-parents-kids-at-us-mexico

June 12th 2018, McAllen, Texas: Mother and child: After fleeing the violence in Honduras a month ago, crossing Mexico, and crossing the Rio Grande on a raft, a two-year-old girl cries as US Border Patrol searches her mother. (John Moore/Getty Images)

The zero tolerance immigration policy (2018- ), also called family separation, was rolled out in the US in April 2018 by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Over this past Father’s Day weekend it has become infamous for separating children from parents who cross the south-western border, putting the children in cages.

An Ipsos poll on June 14th and 15th asked 1,000 people in the US age 18 or over if they agreed with this:

“It is appropriate to separate undocumented immigrant parents from their children when they cross the border in order to discourage others from crossing the border illegally.”

Overall:

  • 27% agreed,
  • 56% disagreed,
  • 17% unsure.

By party:

  • 46% Republicans agreed,
  • 29% Independents,
  • 14% Democrats.

Only 32% of Republicans disagreed!

The policy is opposed by the United Nations, the American Academy of Pediatrics, 300 US Catholic bishops, First Lady Laura Bush, the Southern Baptist Convention, and even Franklin Graham.

President Trump blames the Democrats for the policy. President Obama did separate some children from their parents at the border, but not as a general practice – he thought it would be unworkable.

It is unworkable: it is already overloading the courts and makeshift prisons down in Texas. Due process of law is more in form than substance. Tent cities are being set up to handle the overflow.

There is nothing in the law that requires it. It is a choice made by Trump, something he could end at any time.

Refugee crisis: the US is dealing with a refugee crisis coming from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, three countries it has screwed up. The moms and pops are fleeing the drug violence and failing states down there.

Catch and release: Under Obama they were allowed to seek asylum, a right under international law, whether you have the right papers or not. While the US government sorted out a family’s claim, it was kept together at a detention centre. If the claim did not hold up, they were deported as a family. The right-wing calls this “catch and release”, as if they were animals.

Zero tolerance: Under Trump the parents are charged with the crime of entering the US without the right papers, even when seeking asylum. They are sent to jail while their children are sent to Health & Human Services (HHS) – thus the tents and cages. Since there is no system in place to make sure children are returned, parents can be deported without them. And HHS has already lost at least 1,475 children, some of them almost certainly to traffickers.

Ports of entry: Trump’s government says asylum seekers should present themselves at “ports of entry”, like a checkpoint. In practice, though, you can still be arrested and separated from your children.

Trump says he is trying to protect the country, that without borders there is no country. Somehow, in the days before Trump, the US managed to take in millions of people from all over the world, many of them refugees seeking a safe haven – just like the Hondurans, Salvadoreans and Guatemalans of today.

Trump is not protecting the US – he is protecting White rule.

– Abagond, 2018.

Update (June 20th): President Trump is going to sign an executive order to temporarily undo the family separation part of his border policy.

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Remarks:

This was on the soundtrack of “Loving Vincent” (2017), an animated film about Vincent Van Gogh made out of paintings in the Van Gogh style. In the video you can see still pictures from that film. The man in the yellow jacket is Van Gogh himself.

The song is a cover of Don McLean’s “Vincent”, which went to #9 across the Anglosphere in 1972.

McLean:

“I was sitting on the veranda one morning, reading a biography of Van Gogh, and suddenly I knew I had to write a song arguing that he wasn’t crazy. He had an illness and so did his brother Theo. This makes it different, in my mind, to the garden variety of ‘crazy’ – because he was rejected by a woman. So I sat down with a print of Starry Night and wrote the lyrics out on a paper bag.”

To me it is a song about the tragic beauty of life, with Van Gogh himself as a Christ figure:

Now I think I know
Oh, what you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they’re not listening still
Perhaps they never will.

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Lyrics: 

[Verse 1]
Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and gray
Look out on a summer’s day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul
Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colours on the snowy linen land

[Chorus]
Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now

[Verse 2]
Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflect in Vincent’s eyes of China blue
Colours changing hue
Morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain
Are sooth beneath the artist’s loving hand

[Chorus]
Oh, now I understand
What you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now

[Bridge]
For they could not love you, love you
But still your love was true
And when no hope was left in sight on that starry, starry night
You took your life as lovers often do
But I could have told you, Vincent
This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you

[Verse 3]
Oh, starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frameless heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can’t forget
Like the strangers that you’ve met
The ragged men in ragged clothes
The silver thorn of a bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow

[Chorus]
Now I think I know
Oh, what you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they’re not listening still
Perhaps they never will

Source: Genius Lyrics.

separating children from parents

“Immigrant Children” by Rob Rogers, June 1st 2018. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette refused to print this political cartoon. It fired Rogers two weeks later.

Separating children from parents has a history:

1855: Frederick Douglass, who was Black:

“The practice of separating children from their mother, and hiring the latter out at distances too great to admit of their meeting, except at long intervals, is a marked feature of the cruelty and barbarity of the slave system. But it is in harmony with the grand aim of slavery, which, always and everywhere, is to reduce man to a level with the brute. It is a successful method of obliterating from the mind and heart of the slave, all just ideas of the sacredness of the family, as an institution.”

1943: Anne Frank, who was Jewish:

“Dearest Kitty,

“…

“Terrible things are happening outside. At any time of night and day, poor helpless people are being dragged out of their homes. They’re allowed to take only a knapsack and a little cash with them, and even then, they’re robbed of these possessions on the
way. Families are torn apart; men, women and children are separated.”

2015: Russell Begaye, who is Native, was separated from his parents as a boy to be sent to Indian boarding school. Here he defends the Indian Welfare Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978, which in 2015 was under attack in the courts by the right-wing Goldwater Institute:

“There is nothing more devastating than seeing a Navajo child being taken from their parents. …

“Imagine your identity being erased. Imagine not being able to see your mother and father. Imagine knowing you have family but not being able to see them. The separation is too much. Now imagine children who are separated from their families and cultures for the entirety of their lives. ,,,

“Native Americans are just as good as any other society on earth. We love our families and will stand with them. We need to make sure that every Navajo child in state custody or foster care doesn’t have to go through life wondering who they are or who their parents are.”

2018: CNN reporter Jim Acosta asked White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders about President Trump’s policy for those who cross into the south-western US without proper papers – whether they are seeking asylum (not illegal) or not (a misdemeanour):

ACOSTA: How is it a moral policy to take children away from their parents?

SANDERS: It’s a moral policy to follow and enforce the law.

ACOSTA: Can you imagine the horror these children must be going through? When they come across the border, they’re with their parents, and then suddenly they’re pulled away from their parents? Why is the government doing this?

SANDERS: Because it’s the law, and that’s what the law states.

ACOSTA: It’s not. It doesn’t have to be the law. You guys don’t have to do that.

In fact it is not the law – just a Trump policy that he can end at any time.

Jeff Sessions, head of the US Department of Justice, defended the policy by quoting Romans 13 – which used to be quoted in the US in the 1840s and 1850s to defend slavery.

– Abagond, 2018.

Sources: “My Bondage and My Freedom” (1855) by Frederick Douglass; “The Diary of a Young Girl” (1947) by Anne Frank; Native News Online (2015); Media Matters (2018); Vox (2018).

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594

Razan al-Najjar

Razan al-Najjar (1996-2018), an unarmed Palestinian nurse from Gaza, was shot dead by the Israeli army on June 1st 2018. A picture taken just moments before show her with her hands in the air and wearing a white lab coat clearly marking her as a medical worker:

Al-Najjar shown at right.

She was just 21.

She was shot while approaching the border fence between Israel and Gaza to help someone wounded by the army. A sniper shot her right through the chest from over 100 metres away.

Great March of Return: The fence has been the scene of largely non-violent protests by thousands of Gazans every week since March 30th. They demand that they be allowed to return to Israel where their families were pushed out 70 years ago. Some still have the keys to their old houses. Israel has made Gaza into an open-air prison for the past 11 years.

By the numbers: Since March 30th:

  • 0 Israelis killed
  • 4 Israelis wounded

compare that to:

  • 118 Gazans killed:
  • 3,895 Gazans wounded by live ammunition (40 of which lost a limb)

Of the dead, 14 are children, 2 are journalists and 2 are medical workers.

How far gone do you have to be to shoot at children, much less medical workers?

Al-Najjar, a nurse, had been at the protests since the beginning and said she would be there till the end. She worked some 13 hourse a day, providing first aid so that the wounded could live long enough to reach a hospital.

Al-Najjar:

“people ask my dad what I’m doing here without getting a salary. He tells them, ‘I’m proud of my daughter. She provides care to the children of our country.'”

The Israeli army, just like the police in the US:

  • Says it was following proper procedures.
  • Promises to do a thorough investigation.
  • Is unaccountable: the United Nations’ attempt to condemn the violence and protect Palestinians was blocked by the US. The US gives more military aid to Israel than to any other country.
  • Smeared the character of its victim. They put out a video edited to make it seem like al-Najjar was acting as a human shield.

meanwhile the press:

  • Repeats the army’s lies without fact-checking them: the video that was taken out of context was right there on YouTube.
  • Leaves the army out of the headlines: “A Woman Dedicated to Saving Lives Loses Hers in Gaza Violence.”

And when I say “the press” I mean not the Israeli press but the New York Times!

Netanyahu and Trump

The policy to use live ammunition on protesters goes straight to
the top:

  • Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot,
  • Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

International law: UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials applies here. Live ammunition is only to be used as a last resort to prevent “the imminent threat of death or serious injury” or “the perpetration of a particularly serious crime involving grave threat to life.”

Most of the world is repelled by Israel’s behaviour, but not the US, which aids and abets it.

– Abagond, 2018.

Source: mainly Google Images; Human Rights Watch; Heavy.

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the 1960s

May 20th 1962: Diahann Carroll on “What’s My Line”

This is my master post for the 1960s. It should have all the main posts I have done – or should do – on the 1960s, especially in regard of US Black history. Add your own suggestions!

1960Nigeria, Niger, Gabon, Somalia, D.R. Congo, Cyprus, Sharpeville massacre, SNCC, SDS, neocolonialism, CFA franc.

1961: John Kennedy, Freedom RidersLumumba, Trujillo, Bay of Pigs, Berlin Wall, Brown Corpus.

  • book: The Wretched of the Earth (Frantz Fanon); Nobody Knows My Name (James Baldwin); Black Like Me.
  • film:
  • television:
  • music: 
  • word:
  • invention: man in space (Yuri Gagarin), UTC.

1962: Algeria, Uganda, James Meredith, Cuban Missile Crisis, Vatican II, Warhol.

  • book:
  • filmJames Bond
  • television:
  • music:
  • word:
  • invention: Telstar

1963: Lyndon Johnson, Kenya, Martin Luther King JrMalcolm X, Medgar Evers, Birmingham protests, Letter from Birmingham JailBaldwin-Kennedy meetingMarch on WashingtonThe 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.

1964Vietnam War, War on Poverty, Tanzania, Muhammad AliFannie Lou Hamer, Freedom Summer, Schwerner-Chaney-Goodman, Civil Rights ActThat Norman Rockwell painting“Racism is dead”, John Powell (killed by NYPD), gentrification.

1965SelmaVoting Rights Act, Immigration Act, Moynihan Report, Black illegitimacy argument, affirmative action, Watts riot, Northeast blackout, Asian brain drain, Indonesian mass killings, Ford LTD,

1966Black Power, Stokely Carmichael, Black Panther Party, Afros, model minority stereotype, Donyale LunaTwiggy, Cultural Revolution (China), Indira Gandhi, Peace Corps in Niger.

1967: Flower Power, Loving v Virginia, Thurgood Marshall, Biafra, Six Day War, Gaza, Holocaust denial, Huey P. Newton, H. Rap Brown, Detroit riotRiverside speech, Poor People’s Campaign, Noam ChomskyThe Responsibility of IntellectualsMcLuhanWhite ethnographic gaze.

1968: Red Power, The Southern strategy, George Wallace, RFK, MLK killedRFK killed, Kerner Commission, “Black is beautiful”, Naomi SimsJohn Carlos, Fair Housing Act, blue-eyed/brown-eyed exercise, Orangeburg Massacre, My Lai, the whole earth, Christie (Barbie’s friend), tokenism, Prague.

1969: Richard Nixon, Fred HamptonCointelpro, The Occupation of Alcatraz.

– Abagond, 2018.

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524

On May 24th 1963 Robert Kennedy met with James Baldwin to discuss race in the US. I already did a post on the meeting itself. This one is mainly about what Kennedy and those who knew him said about it afterwards.

Baldwin brought at least 15 people. Among them were Lorraine Hansberry, Lena Horne, Harry Belafonte, and Kenneth Clark (he of the Doll Experiment). This was just weeks after the Birmingham protests – fire hoses, police dogs, Bull Connor, King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, all of that.

Enter Jerome Smith: The “cocktail-party patter” was soon swept away by the fury and anger of Jerome Smith. He was a Freedom Rider and CORE activist whose face and jaw had been badly beaten by police.

Kennedy tried to shut Smith down.

Blacks closed ranks behind Smith. Then came the flood: they spoke like it was their one chance to tell Robert Kennedy what they truly thought, their rage running free. He had never seen so much naked, Black pain before. It shook him.

Tone argument: After the meeting Kennedy was in a rage:

“They don’t know what the laws are. They don’t know what we’ve been doing or what we’re trying to do. You can’t talk to them the way you can talk to Martin Luther King or Roy Wilkins. They didn’t want to talk that way.

“It was all emotion, hysteria – they stood up and orated – they cursed – some of them wept and left the room.”

Ad hominem: Baldwin, Kennedy noted, was a homosexual (using an impolite word for that) and a “nut”. And:

“[A] number of them … I think, have complexes about the fact that they’ve been successful, they’ve done so well and this poor boy had been beaten by the police.”

Kennedy said they felt guilty that:

“they really hadn’t done their best … hadn’t done what they should have done for the Negro. So the way to show that they hadn’t forgotten where they came from was to berate me and berate the United States government.”

No ghetto pass for Kennedy: Nicholas Katzenbach, who was not at the meeting but who worked under Kennedy at the time as deputy attorney general (the Rod Rosenstein of his day), said:

“Bobby expected to be made an honorary black. [The meeting] really hurt his feelings, and it was pretty mean. But the fact that he thought he knew so much – and learned he didn’t – was important.”

From Baldwin’s FBI file, which even lists his extracurricular activities from high school. (Via MuckRock)

FBI surveillance for Baldwin and friends: Kennedy started or continued FBI surveillance on many of those who came to the meeting – even Rip Torn, who was White. Much of the 1,884 pages in Baldwin’s FBI file are from after the meeting.

In the long run, though, Robert Kennedy had enough honesty and empathy to understand that what they told him was more or less the truth:

“I guess if I were in his [Jerome Smith’s] shoes, if I had gone through what he’s gone through, I might feel differently about this country.”

Robert Kennedy five years later: May 15th 1968 in Detroit. One month later he would be dead. (Andrew Sacks/Getty Images, via NPR)

– Abagond, 2018.

Source: Google Images; “What Truth Looks Like” (2018) by Michael Eric Dyson.

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