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[l] at 7/1/20 3:55pm

Die Jim Crow Records, the first record label for current and formerly incarcerated musicians, has recorded music in five prisons in Colorado, Ohio, Mississippi, and South Carolina.

The label released their first album on Juneteenth—BL Shirelle’s “Assata Troi”—and now they have released a single, “Domestic Terrorist,” by a musician who is unnamed in order to protect them while they remain incarcerated.

“The way I grew up, when they roll up, you froze up—or you hit the fence,” the unnamed musician raps. “Never minding your guilt or your innocence. We live daily with the threat of domestic terrorists.”

“Or you hit the fence” is given an intensity with background vocals that attempts to communicate the feeling a Black person may experience as they are shoved up against a wall and frisked by police for simply being Black.

Nearly 20 percent of police are United States military veterans. In Dallas, a study found the city’s police were more likely to fire their weapon if they were once enlisted soldiers.

Anonymous connects the wars in the Middle East to the war in Black or minority neighborhoods by describing an officer in a police unit who “did some tours in Iraq. He came back. He did decided to give back, badge on his chest, vest on his back.”

Musing over why he joined, the musician suggests he may have been looking for more action. Or maybe he was “motivated by the unnatural stats that justify heavy patrols in neighborhoods that are Black or minority.”

“Maybe he was nervous, post traumatic from his service. It only took a second for him to see insurgents,” Anonymous adds.

The track ends with a chant for Amadou Diallo, a 23 year-old Guinean immigrant who was shot 41 times and killed by the New York Police Department in 1999. (His death has inspired a number of artists in and outside of hip-hop.)

According to Die Jim Crow Records, the track is a counter to President Donald Trump, who described the activists who were protesting police brutality as “domestic terrorists.” It turns the political discourse to put attention on the real culprits for fear and dread in Black communities.

“As a measure to protect the artist, who is currently incarcerated, DJC and the artist have decided it is best for this song to be credited to Anonymous for now.”

DJC credits Trvp Lvne and dr. Israel, who respectively provided the beat and mixed the track at revolutionsound in Brooklyn. Both have worked on several DJC music.

Trvp Lyne worked on BL’s debut album released in June, and in fact, BL is thanked for her work supporting music created by incarcerated musicians.

Listen to “Domestic Terrorist” from Die Jim Crow Records:

Domestic Terrorist [Single] by Anonymous

The post Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Domestic Terrorist’ From Die Jim Crow Records appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, The Protest Music Project, Die Jim Crow, Police, Protest Music Project, Protest Song of the Week]

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[l] at 7/1/20 1:30pm

In the wake of protests that swept the United States after Minneapolis police murdered George Floyd, teachers, unions, and activist groups across the United States have renewed pushes to remove police from school districts.

Several school boards voted or are in the process of voting on resolutions that would defund school police forces

On June 23, the Los Angeles School Board voted against a proposal to slash the budget of the Los Angeles School Police Department by 90 percent over the next two years and rejected two other resolutions related to school policing. But teachers, unions, and activists have not abandoned their effort to remove police from schools in L.A.

In fact, two days later, the United Teachers of Los Angeles officially passed a resolution to eliminate school police in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

“We should not be turning over discipline of our children or our children’s mental health to police officers. We should have the resources that make wellness a priority on all campuses, not policing,” said Georgia Flowers, an elementary school teacher in Los Angeles.

Flowers explained at her elementary school they have several students with special needs, but the school psychologist is only retained 1.5 days per week and other support staff aren’t provided.

“We end up routinely calling police to deal with children who are having reactions to trauma in their lives because we don’t have anything else,” Flowers added. “Police get called in to do non-police work because the funding is not where it should be. The funding is not being provided to address the things that would help our children to heal.”

Unlike L.A., the Oakland School Board in California voted to eliminate police from schools throughout their district on June 24.

It was a victory for a movement led by the Black Organizing Project that began in 2011 after an Oakland school police officer shot and killed 20-year-old Raheim Brown, who was sitting in a car near a high school during a school dance.

“The police in our schools don’t add educational value, it’s a punitive measure to criminalize youth.” said Amanda Seaton, a special education teacher at an Oakland Elementary school. “One of my first years teaching, the police were called on a first grade Black student, a young Black boy at a school I was working at that was majority Black. Basically the police were called on him to ‘teach him a lesson’ because he had too many tantrums in the mind of school leadership. I don’t think those are the kind of lessons we should be teaching any students and they’re often reserved for Black students.”

School boards in the cities of Minneapolis, Denver, Madison, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon also voted to remove police from school districts.

Law enforcement presence in schools began in the 1940s in response to youth-led racial justice movements emerging ahead of the civil rights era. In Oakland, a school police force was created in 1957 partly in response to Black migration to the city after World War II as schools began integrating.

“Policing creates a lot of stress for a lot of students. As a teacher my concern is those stress levels contribute to difficulties in learning,” said Ben Evans, a middle school science teacher in Seattle. “People outside of education don’t understand the impact of the structure and functioning of our schools that set kids up for the school to prison pipeline. It’s simple things like the strict behavior guidelines, trying to run a school like how a prison functions. The presence of the police in that system has a very strong impact in terms of that school to prison pipeline.”

Student led-organizations, teachers, and community groups are pressuring their local elected officials to do the same and remove police from schools in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, St. LouisTacoma, and several school districts in Maryland.

“There is a culture clash that happens when police are in schools,” said Maria Fernandez, senior campaign strategist with the Advancement Project, a non-profit based in Washington D.C. that has led a campaign for police-free schools over the past two decades. “Education and schools need to be a place of learning, developing, and nurturing of young people, and police are there to enforce criminal code, so there’s a fundamental contradiction to those things.”

The mayor-appointed school board of Chicago, Illinois, recently voted 4-3 in favor of delegating the decision to remove police from schools to local school councils. Currently, the city spends $33 million to fund police in Chicago schools.

A recent report conducted by #CopsOutCPS found over the past decade Black students have been targeted by school police in Chicago at four times the rate of white students, despite making up 35.9 percent of the student body.

The Chicago Teachers Union, along with student and community groups, are maintaining pressure on local officials, especially  because the school board is expected to vote on whether to renew the $33 million contract with the Chicago Police Department some time over the next two months. (The current contract expires at the end of August.)

“We’re not saying take them out and do nothing else. We’re saying stop spending on something that is harmful to students and spend it on what we know supports genuine community safety and harm reduction in our school buildings,” said Jenine Wehbeh, a teacher at Murphy Elementary School in Chicago. “We need to disinvest and defund police while funneling resources into self determination, well funded public schools, smaller class sizes, school nurses, restorative justice, counselors, and social workers.”

The post Prioritizing Children’s Wellness Over Cops: The Movement To End Policing In Schools appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Featured Reporting, Latest News, The Bullpen, Abolition, George Floyd, Police, Public Schools]

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[l] at 7/1/20 8:19am

Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola welcome Vincent Bevins, the author of The Jakarta Method: Washington’s Anticommunist Crusade and the Mass Murder Program That Shaped Our World, to discuss his book.

He was the Brazil correspondent for the Los Angeles Times and the southeast Asia correspondent for the Washington Post.

Watch the interview by clicking the above video or go here for audio version.

As Bevins contends, United States-backed violence that occurred in Brazil and Indonesia in 1964 and 1965 “greatly reshaped the world.” He examines the dark history and legacy of anticommunism in two of the most populous countries.

Bevins offers a brief overview of the politics in Indonesia and the Third World and how there really wasn’t any opposition or fear of communism until it was fueled by the U.S. and factions within the Indonesian military.

Sukarno was removed from power in a CIA coup and replaced by Suharto. Bevins highlights who each of these figures were and describes the massacres that occurred.

Later in the interview, Bevins offers his view on the parallels between the 1960s and now. He comments on the economic warfare that was used against Indonesia, U.S. training of military officers from Indonesia, and the way in which the U.S. media justified the bloodshed that occurred.

The post When US Backed A Mass Murder Program In Indonesia: Interview With Vincent Bevins On ‘The Jakarta Method’ appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, Unauthorized Disclosure Podcast, Book, Brazil, CIA, Indonesia, Shadowproof Podcasts, US Foreign Policy]

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[l] at 6/25/20 1:25am

The United States government expanded their indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to criminalize the assistance WikiLeaks provided to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden when staff helped him leave Hong Kong.

Sarah Harrison, who was a section editor for WikiLeaks, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a former spokesperson, and Jacob Appelbaum, a digital activist who represented WikiLeaks at conferences, are targeted as “co-conspirators” in the indictment [ PDF ], though neither have been charged with offenses.

No charges were added, however, it significantly expands the conspiracy to commit computer intrusion charge and accuses Assange of conspiring with “hackers” affiliated with “Anonymous,” “LulzSec,” “AntiSec,” and “Gnosis.”

The computer crime charge is not limited to March 2010 anymore. It covers conduct that allegedly occurred between 2009 and 2015.

Prosecutors rely heavily on statements and chat logs from Sigurdur “Siggi” Thordarson and Hector Xavier Monsegur (“Sabu”), who were both FBI informants, in order to expand the scope of the prosecution.

In March, Judge Anthony Trenga dismissed the grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, that was investigating WikiLeaks. U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who refused to testify before the grand jury, was released from jail after spending about a year in confinement for “civil contempt.” She was still ordered to pay $256,000 in fines.

Activist Jeremy Hammond, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his involvement in the hack against the intelligence consulting firm Stratfor, refused to testify as well. Trenga ordered his release, and he was transferred back into the custody of the Bureau of Prisons.

Prosecutors accuse Assange and other WikiLeaks staffers of engaging in “efforts to recruit system administrators” to leak information to their media organization.

WikiLeaks Openly Displayed ‘Attempts To Assist Snowden In Evading Arrest’

“To encourage leakers and hackers to provide stolen materials to WikiLeaks in the future, Assange and others at WikiLeaks openly displayed their attempts to assist Snowden in evading arrest,” the indictment declares.

It notes Harrison (“WLA-4”) traveled with Snowden to Moscow from Hong Kong, leaving out the part where the State Department revoked his passport and trapped him in Russia.

During an interview for “Democracy Now!” in September 2016, Sarah Harrison said WikiLeaks understood Snowden was in a “very complex legal and political situation” and needed “some people to assist with technical and operational security expertise.

“I went over there, as the person on the ground in Hong Kong, to help him, not only for him, himself, because he had clearly done something so brave and deserved the protection, I felt, but also for the larger objective to try and show that despite [President Barack] Obama’s war on whistleblowers, that actually there was another option.”

Harrison added. “At the time, the Obama administration was intent upon putting alleged source Chelsea Manning into prison for decades—as she is now in prison for 35 years—and we really wanted to try and show the world that there are people that will stand up, there are people that will help. And The Guardian, for example, did not give any additional help to Edward Snowden as a source, as a person there, and we wanted to show there are publishers that will help in these scenarios.”

Prosecutors note WikiLeaks booked Snowden on “flights to India through Beijing” and Iceland as examples of how Assange engaged in an alleged conspiracy.

At the annual Chaos Computer Club conference in Germany on December 31, 2013, Assange, Appelbaum, and Harrison participated in a panel discussion called, “Sysadmins of the World, Unite! A Call to Resistance.” (Assange appeared via video.)

The indictment criminalizes Assange’s speech in support of Snowden and any future whistleblowers and twists his words into a prime example of WikiLeak “encouraging” the “theft of information” from the U.S. government.

Prosecutors even omit particular words to make the message Assange shared seem more nefarious than an endorsement of radical transparency.

From the indictment:

…Assange told the audience that “the famous leaks that WikiLeaks has done or the recent Edward Snowden revelations” showed that “it was possible now for even a single system administrator to…not merely wreck[] or disabl[e] [organizations]…but rather shift[] information from an information apartheid system…into the knowledge commons…

But here is the full quote :

… And we can see that in the cases of the famous leaks that WikiLeaks has done or the recent Edward Snowden revelations, that it’s possible now for even a single system administrator to have a very significant change to the—or rather, apply a very significant constraint, a constructive constraint, to the behavior of these organizations, not merely wrecking or disabling them, not merely going out on strikes to change policy, but rather shifting information from an information apartheid system, which we’re developing, from those with extraordinary power and extraordinary information, into the knowledge commons, where it can be used to—not only as a disciplining force, but it can be used to construct and understand the new world that we’re entering into.

Assange’s video message to Chaos Computer Club conference attendees in 2013. (Screen shot from “Democracy Now!” broadcast.)

Assange encouraged young people to “join the CIA. Go in there. Go into the ballpark and get the ball and bring it out—with the understanding, with the paranoia, that all those organizations will be infiltrated by this generation, by an ideology that is spread across the Internet. And every young person is educated on the Internet.”

“There will be no person that has not been exposed to this ideology of transparency and understanding of wanting to keep the Internet, which we were born into, free. This is the last free generation,” Assange added.

The government presents this message as evidence that WikiLeaks solicits government employees to steal classified information. However, what Assange did was appeal to young people to help the public address a crisis of corruption in government by forcing transparency at a time when the government abuses the classified information system to conceal waste, fraud, abuse, and other illegal actions.

Appelbaum is singled out for saying Harrison “took actions” to protect Snowden, and “if we can succeed in saving Edward Snowden’s life and to keep him free, then the next Edward Snowden will have that to look forward to. And if we look also to what has happened to Chelsea Manning, we see additionally that Snowden has clearly learned.”

This is a fairly innocuous observation numerous people in the news media, including this author, have shared. It means if whistleblowers do not believe they will be punished with decades of prison or forced to flee their home country then we will have more whistleblowers because they will not believe it so dangerous to come forward.

At no point does the Justice Department attempt to connect the alleged “recruitment” of “hackers” or “leakers” to an actual individual, who heard these words and acted upon them.

Of course, the Justice Department refuses to accept the public benefit that came from Snowden’s disclosures. He still faces an indictment for allegedly violating the Espionage Act, which is why he remains in Russia, where he obtained asylum in 2013.

On May 6, 2014, the indictment alleges Harrison “sought to recruit those who had or could obtain authorized access to classified information and hackers to search for and send the classified or otherwise stolen information to WikiLeaks by explaining, ‘from the beginning our mission has been to public classified, or in any other way, censored information that is of political, historical importance.'”

It is one of the clearest indications that the “conspiracy” charge is a not-so-subtle effort to criminalize the journalism of an adversarial media organization that the United States has spent the last decade working to destroy. At no point in this statement does Harrison ask any specific persons to steal information.

If what Harrison did—and by association, Assange supported—is a crime, then there are countless news media organizations which pride themselves on publishing documents they obtain from sensitive sources that must worry they are opening themselves up to prosecution if they boast about their work in a public setting.

Conspiracy Charge Depends On Statements From Paid FBI Informants

The section of the indictment on Assange’s alleged role in “conspiring” with “hackers” mentions a “Teenager, who Assange met in Iceland. This individual is Sigurdur “Siggi” Thordarson.

As Wired Magazine reported , “When a staff revolt in September 2010 left the organization short-handed, Assange put Thordarson in charge of the WikiLeaks chat room, making Thordarson the first point of contact for new volunteers, journalists, potential sources, and outside groups clamoring to get in with WikiLeaks at the peak of its notoriety.”

Thordarson was fired from WikiLeaks in November 2011 after the media organizations discovered he embezzled about $50,000.

After the FBI asked to talk with him in person following his termination, Thordarson “begged the FBI for money. Agents initially ignored his requests, but eventually they paid him $5,000 for “the work he missed while meeting with agents” in Alexandria, Virginia, where the grand jury investigation was empaneled.

In 2013, WikiLeaks stated, “Because of requests from people close to him and his young age [Thordarson] was offered the opportunity to repay the stolen funds, which amounted to about $50,000. When it became clear he would not honor the agreement the matter was reported to the Icelandic Police.”

Thordarson apparently embezzled funds from several other organizations in Iceland that were not related to WikiLeaks. The Icelandic authorities process charges of embezzlement.

“It has materialized that the individual has engaged in gross misrepresentations of different types to obtain benefit from a range of parties,” WikiLeaks added. “We will not identify him by name in light of information that he has recently received institutional medical treatment.”

“In light of the relentless ongoing persecution of U.S. authorities against WikiLeaks, it is not surprising that the FBI would try to abuse this troubled young man and involve him in some manner in the attempt to prosecute WikiLeaks staff. It is an indication of the great length these entities are willing to go that they will disrespect the sovereignty of other nations in their endeavor. There is strong indication that the FBI used a combination of coercion and payments to pressure the young man to cooperate,” WikiLeaks contended.

Hammond was the target of an FBI operation. As Dell Cameron previously reported for the Daily Dot, chat logs, surveillance photos, and government documents showed it was Monsegur who introduced Hammond to a hacker named Hyrriya, who “supplied download links to the full credit card database as well as the initial vulnerability access point to Stratfor’s systems.”

According to Hammond, he had not heard of Stratfor until Monsegur brought the firm to his attention. Monsegur transferred the details for at least two stolen credit cards.

In December 2011, Monsegur gave “AntiSec” or the group of hackers targeting Stratfor access to the private intelligence firm’s systems. He pushed Hammond and others to “unknowingly transfer ‘multiple gigabytes of confidential data’ to one of the FBI’s servers. That included roughly 60,000 credit card number and records for Stratfor customers that Hammond was ultimately charged with stealing,” according to Daily Dot.

Anthropologist Gabriella Coleman wrote in her book, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous , that AntiSec went to the WikiLeaks internet relay chat server. Monsegur was largely unaware. A deal was made to provide files from Stratfor to WikiLeaks.

”When talking to WikiLeaks,” Hammond recounted to me, “they first asked to authenticate the leak by pasting them some samples, which I did, [but] they didn’t ask who I was or even really how I got access to it, but I told them voluntarily that I was working with AntiSec and had hacked Stratfor.” Soon after, he arranged the handoff. When Sabu found out, he insisted on dealing with Assange, personally. After all, he told Hammond, he was already in contact with Assange’s trusted assistant “Q.”

Thordarson was “Q.” 

According to Hammond, Monsegur attempted to entrap WikiLeaks by suggesting the organization pay him “cash for the leaks.” But WikiLeaks already had the documents they planned to publish.

The U.S. government had a deadline in June 2019 for submitting an extradition request. It seems improper to add these substantial details to the request, especially since a one-week hearing was already held.

While the conspiracy charge includes sensational claims of collaboration with hackers, it is no less of a political charge than the seventeen Espionage Act offenses Assange faces for publishing information.

The additional sections in the indictment represent an attempt to give the illegitimate prosecution a greater veneer of criminality. Unfortunately, it does not take much to scrape it off and expose the contempt for press freedom that still lies behind this vindictive prosecution.

The post US Government Expands Assange Indictment To Criminalize Assistance Provided To Edward Snowden appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, Edward Snowden, FBI, Julian Assange, Justice Department, WikiLeaks]

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[l] at 6/24/20 4:11pm

Die Jim Crow is the first nonprofit record label for current and formerly incarcerated musicians, and on Juneteenth, the label released their first album, “Assata Troi” by BL Shirelle.

Shirelle, a deputy director for Die Jim Crow, told Shadowproof she is relieved to have the project out because she has a body of work that the label can stand on. “I can put it in the marketplace with anybody, with any hip-hop record that’s been out.”

The label obtains access to facilities, and they collaborate with prisoners. They lay down instrumentals, record vocals, and mix tracks with professional equipment.

Over 50 musicians in five prisons in Colorado, Ohio, Mississippi, and South Carolina have been recorded, and according to producer Fury Young, they have a huge backlog of unreleased music.

In October 2019, Die Jim Crow raised $50,000 through Kickstarter to launch the label. They also released an EP in 2016, which included two tracks that featured Shirelle.

Shirelle’s mother was a crack addict, and Shirelle sold crack when she was 12. As she shared with Interview Magazine , Shirelle was sentenced to 10 years in a prison in Philadelphia after she was shot by police “multiple times and beaten while in handcuffs.” She was accused of assaulting a police officer.

The name of the album means “she who struggles is a warrior,” and it is filled with hip-hop, electronic, and rhythm and blues as she confronts some aspects of her life after incarceration that she found difficult to accept, like questioning her faith.

Assata Troi by BL Shirelle

“Conspiracy” is Shirelle’s favorite record on the album. “It’s huge, theatrical. It’s cinematic,” Shirelle said. There’s the guitar solo at the end. “The beat is amazing.”

Shirelle heard the beat for “Conspiracy,” and immediately thought, “It needs a story, number one, and it needs a story of incarceration.” She decided to tell a story about how one may be accused of conspiracy because in Pennsylvania the state has the most juveniles sentenced to life in prison. Many of those sentences stem from conspiracy charges.

“Most of them weren’t exactly aware of what was happening or even if they were aware of a robbery or whatever, a murder ensued and they have to pay for the rest of their life,” Shirelle said.

She made it a “very harsh record” so people could think about the company they keep and realize what could happen.

“If you’re 14 and you get life, your parents and everyone else is going to be there for you for some time, but eventually they start to get used to you not being around,” Shirelle suggested. “[It’s] similar to a death, and you don’t get the support that you think that you’re necessarily going to get. Only those who are supremely blessed get support from their family during a complete life sentence.”

“I wanted to make it very harsh so that people understand that people adapt, people adjust to you not being around,” Shirelle added. “It’s a very unfair scenario when people are [sentenced] to life for something they had no idea what was happening.”

“I got the beat first from my producer. My main producer, his name is Trvp Lvne . He produced eight of the ten records on there. We developed my sound together. There’s no me without him-type thing.”

Assata Troi by BL Shirelle

For “Generational Curse,” Shirelle heard the beat and was reminded of the era of hip-hop that she remembers hearing when she grew up. It sounded like something from Jay-Z, like the era of Roc-A-Fella records or “The Blueprint” (2001).

It bears some similarity to the single released from the album, “SIGS,” in that she confronts her past while also showing her confidence in herself and her artistic abilities.

“At this point, regardless of how Die Jim Crow is, we are the first nonprofit record label for incarcerated musicians in history. That’s a fact,” Shirelle declared. “So I felt as though it was a time for me to express that I know who I am.”

“I know where I’m going, and I’m going to go there with or without whoever. It was a time for me to talk my shit and also express that I’m fully aware of my past. and I’m fully aware of how I want to kind of change the narrative or break the curse in my children, and I don’t want them to have to experience the same things I did.”

Shirelle would never recommend people sell drugs to their mother, like she did, however, she believes all that she’s survived has helped her become an adult, who would do well raising children.

Assata Troi by BL Shirelle

“Til I Go,” which concludes the album, features a phenomenal song-stealing alto saxophone solo from John Heinrich.

The song is one of the most personal tracks on the album. Shirelle took the fact that many black people grow up as Christians and never question the word of God. As they take in more and more information about the world, they question their faith.

“You start to question tradition versus free thought. And you have that fork in the road, where you have to determine which way you’re going to go,” Shirelle shared. “For me, I didn’t give the answer. Because the answer is different for everyone. But I gave my answer in a very abstract way by singing the Lord’s prayer throughout the hook, and then at the end, it becomes [more] clear. You can hear what I am saying. You can hear that it’s the Lord’s prayer.”

Shirelle has never met Heinrich, though she hopes to meet him in the near future as they collaborate on future projects.

The joy of simply creating music comes through on the record. For example, “Phantom Cookie” features a toy piano in one section of the song.

Most of the songs, Shirelle was involved in making the beats. She said they are musically sophisticated beats. They aren’t 808s, a beat popularized by hip-hop artists in New Orleans.


When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Shirelle was traveling from Philadelphia, where she is based, to New York to work with Fury Young. They were finishing “Assata Troi” and had to cancel a couple sessions as it became more dangerous to travel.

“I was going there every week at the time. We were paralyzed with fear for a couple weeks.
I said we gotta do something. We got to get our hands dirty in the situation,” Shirelle recalled.

Shirelle’s wife is an essential worker, and they came up with an idea to host virtual benefits and weekly talent shows, where they raised funds to purchase personal protective equipment that could be sent to prisoners. So far, they sent over 9,000 masks.

While prisoners at facilities they visited already loved and respected Die Jim Crow, Shirelle believes this established a level of trust that demonstrates the label has their “best interests at heart.”

Over 500 prisoners have died from the coronavirus while incarcerated, and there have been anywhere from 2,000-4,000 new cases reported in prisons throughout the United States for the past two months.

Shirelle is understandably concerned about the way in which the pandemic is impacting incarcerated individuals.

“One of your biggest fears is getting sick, especially for women,” Shirelle stated. “A lot of times we’re not diagnosed with cancer until we’re in stage 4 or terminal inside of prison. No matter how many times we tell them there’s something wrong. Please check me out. Please help me. We’re losing weight, and we’re losing 100 pounds in nine months. They still won’t help until it’s too late.”

Shirelle continued, “Coupled with everything that’s going on as far as the protests and police brutality, being a victim of police brutality, doing six years for assault on a police officer for simply defending my own life, I see that I’m happy, and I’m hopeful that people are fighting and people are protesting and people are marching.

“People are doing the things that they need to do for change, however, I’m a little startled at how quickly we were able to flip the switch from the pandemic to this.”

“I just hope we can keep multiple things on our minds at the time. I hope that we can multitask, and I hope that throughout all this, as we’re fighting, we don’t forget about the deliberate indifference to health care inside of prisons and being exposed to COVID-19 inside of prisons.”

“If we have to be the torch to keep that going, we’ll be the torch. So, hopefully it doesn’t die out,” Shirelle concluded. “That’s also very serious, very important, very scary, and I just want to keep that in the forefront of everyone’s minds.”

Listen and support BL Shirelle’s “Assata Troi” at Bandcamp

The post Record Label For Current And Formerly Incarcerated Musicians Releases First Album appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, The Protest Music Project, Coronavirus, Die Jim Crow, Hip Hop, Incarceration]

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[l] at 6/22/20 4:22pm

For this week’s “Unauthorized Disclosure” weekly podcast, Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola present a conversation that was recorded several months ago on Angola history: Portuguese colonialism, Black anti-colonial resistance, United States imperialism, and the way in which this history reverberates during President Donald Trump’s administration.

The conversation features Prexy Nesbitt, who is a presidential fellow at the Peace Studies Department at Chapman University in Orange County, California where he teaches Southern African History, and Marissa Moorman, who is the author of the book, Powerful Frequencies: Radio, State Power, and the Cold War in Angola, 1931-2002.

Our conversation begins with Marissa, who provides a brief background on Portuguese colonialism in Angola and the rise of black Angolan resistance that ignited a struggle for independence.

We pay particular attention to Jonas Savimbi, who was the militant leader of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). Savimbi sought support from the U.S. government, and the government was willing to provide support during the Cold War because they believed Angola was a crucial battleground in the fight against the Soviet Union.

The Clark Amendment was repealed in 1985, which removed a prohibition to providing covert or overt U.S. assistance to militant groups in Angola. It was the result of a lobbying effort by conservative organizations like the Conservative Caucus, the Heritage Foundation, and the American Security Council, as well as Senator Jesse Helms, Representative Jack Kemp, and Representative Claude Pepper.

Savimbi was promoted as the leader of “true anti-communist freedom fighters.” The militant leader even traveled to the United States in 1985 and hired a publicity firm called Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly for $600,000/year. It was tied to President Ronald Reagan, and one of the partners at the firm was Paul Manafort. The firm was largely successful. Reagan said during the tour, “We want to be very helpful to what Dr. Savimbi and his people are tying to do.”

Later, Marissa and Prexy talk about the civil rights movement and solidarity work with struggles against colonialism in southern Africa. They address how developments in Angola led to fractures in organizing, including among Black activists in the United States.

To listen to the conversation, click on the above player. Or you can also find it here.


Below is an edited transcript of the conversation.

GOSZTOLA: The reason I brought you both together to have a conversation—Well, first off, I know Prexy. Prexy was my professor when I was a student at Columbia College Chicago, and I’m glad that I still know Prexy, and we’ve remained connected. But we were talking last year in 2019 about some of the history around Angola. And Jonas Savimbi in the media he was treated as a rebel. He was a fighter who the U.S. government armed and supported. And also I heard you discuss that Paul Manafort, who is a figure that the U.S. public come to know from the Trump administration. He’s in prison right now. He was involved in this imperial makeover of selling Savimbi to the United States, as someone that needed to be supported.

I wanted to bring you both in to talk about this connection that the Trump administration and our present-day politics has to this history of Angola. And I wanted to talk about this part of the world that I’ve never covered with this show before. Later on, I want to talk about the civil rights movement and the solidarity work that you both are familiar with and the struggles against colonialism in southern Africa and the intersection between movements.

I’d like to begin with a brief background on Portuguese colonialism in Angola and the rise of black Angolan resistance that ignited that struggle for independence, just so people can know about this country before we start to describe how the U.S. government came to support a militant group in Angola back in the 1980s.

MOORMAN: I’ll jump in there since Angola’s my area of expertise, and I write on contemporary Angolan history. The Portuguese were in Angola for a very, very long time. I won’t go into the deep history, but I will just say that Portugal was a kind of maritime power in the 15th Century. In the 1480s, they first landed in northern Angola and encountered the Congo kingdom. At that time, they were roughly the same size, the kingdom of Congo and the kingdom of Portugal.

And what started out as diplomatic relationships, and as a diplomatic kind of dislocation from Portugal to in this kind of the coast of west Central Africa very quickly turned into a very different set of relations in which Portuguese traders began buying war captives and selling them across the Atlantic into the slave trade—first, on islands on the west coast of the African continent but eventually to Brazil and to the Americas and sort of beginning the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Angola has a deep long history imbricated with the history of the Americas and with the United States in particular because of course, as we’ve been reminded in the recent discussion and the work done by the New York Times on 1619 and other newspapers, that the first enslaved Africans to arrive in the United States were in fact Angolans. There’s a deep history between these two hemispheres of the world and very particularly between the United States and Angola.

That early history has a huge shaping impact obviously on Angola and other places in the world. By the middle of the 19th Century, we begin to see a shift in Europe’s relations with the Africa continent from the slave trade to what was called the legitimate trade. And here we see movements for abolition and then eventually the institution of colonial rule, which comes to replace these trade-based relationships with land occupation and the institution of colonial administrations on the African continent beginning in the late 1800s.

The Berlin Conference is in 1884 and 1885, and it’s after that European powers begin to establish themselves on the continent and in the form of various kinds of colonial rule. There are a couple of exceptions to that. South Africa is one of them, where Europeans set themselves up earlier.

In Angola, the Portuguese then have to show that they have effectively occupied the territory that they’re claiming. That’s very difficult for them to do because during most of the period of the trans-Atlantic slave trade they were really based only in coastal cities and very little presence in the interior. They try to establish that throughout. It takes them a long time in the early part of the 20th Century. But by the late 1930s, they have territorial control over Angola.

Not too long after that, really by the 1950s, Angolans start to organize themselves and begin to think about separating themselves from Portugal in a more formal way. So across the continent, across the rest of the African continent, we also see the beginnings of nationalism and of formal parties being formed to resist colonialism. And we see the same sort of timeline happening in Angola. That however gets pushed off because of several factors, among them the fact that Portugal is by that point under fascist rule and is unwilling to give up their colonies.

Portugal also had colonized Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau, the islands of Sao Tome and Principe, and Mozambique, and it really needed those territories and the primary products, the things that were produced there, cotton and other things, in order to keep their economy afloat.

While the rest of the continent started to win their independence in 1960, that’s sort of the flagship years for independence on the African continent, we see southern Africa, where Angola and Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, are all located, actually going the opposite direction. So things get worse there. We see the entrenchment of white colonial settler states. That stalls the development of nationalistic politics there. So, I’ll pause since I just spoke a lot.

GOSZTOLA: The next thing to map out is what these two key groups were. There was the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, known as the MPLA. There was the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, or UNITA. And there were fault lines between these two groups, and it set the sort of future for the liberation struggles, as I understand it in Angola.

MOORMAN: There were actually three movements. As I mentioned, in 1960, a large number of countries on the African continent. Things go the opposite direction in southern Africa in general and very specifically in Angola. Two movements had formed by the 1950s, and this despite that actually it was illegal for Angolans to engage in any kind of political work. Whereas other colonized places—people could form political parties—that was not the case in Angola or in Mozambique. That was actually illegal. People did it nonetheless.

We see the development of these two nationalist movements; first, the National Front for the Liberation of Angola, known as the FNLA. It’s formed really in the second half of the 1950s. It starts as a different kind of organization first, but it’s firmly in place by the mid-to-late 1950s. And then we see the formation of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola.

Now, the MPLA continues to be in power in Angola. They have always claimed that they were founded in 1956. But that is not true. The first president of the party, Mário Pinto de Andrade, eventually admitted in the 1970s that 1956 was a fiction, and the party didn’t actually form until 1960.

We’ve got the FNLA forming in the late 1950s. The MPLA formed by 1960, and then by 1966, Jonas Savimbi, who had been a member of the FNLA, breaks away and forms UNITA or the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola. These parties had different interests. They come from different bases, and that shapes these movements in a very, very profound way. And so when UNITA is formed, there’s already an anti-colonial war going on in which these—what started out as parties then became liberation movements—are fighting the Portuguese government and Portuguese military in Angola.

I could go into greater detail about their different bases and constituencies, but it can get a little bit confusing. I will say the MPLA was far and away the party with the greatest national vision. While it had grown up in and around the area of Luanda, the capital, and the interior of the province of Malanje, they really were the first to develop the idea of a national movement.

The FNLA initially grew out of a political organization that developed in the north of Angola based predominantly among the Bakongo people. Although that said, there were people from other ethnic groups in the FNLA, and Jonas Savimbi was one of them. Jonas Savimbi hailed from the central part of Angola. What is today the province of Huambo, and he was from the Ovimbundu ethnic group.

These were not strictly ethnic-defined political organizations. In many ways, they shared much more in common in terms of their historical sociology. All of the leaders and all of the movements had been mission educated and grew out essentially from colonial elites, but they begin to develop greater differences over time and greater political differences and different visions for what an independent Angola might look like.

The MPLA takes a much more kind of democratic socialist position and eventually a more strictly socialist and communist position whereas the FMLA and UNITA are much more interested in thinking about protecting commerce. They come from historically areas where trading was quite important. But all of them I would say recognize the deep and powerful inequities, economic, social, and political, which Portugal had instituted in this colony. And all of them fought to overturn that form of exploitation, and it’s really over time that we begin to see them develop differences of political opinion and in part precisely because of what you laid out in the beginning, which is the ways they get involved in the Cold War in order to assert power one group over the other.

Basically, we see them all fighting from 1961, both within themselves or against each other and against the Portuguese military and government. That starts to shift on April 25, 1974. There’s a military coup in Portugal in which the very generals who were fighting wars not only in Angola but in Mozambique and in particular in Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau, where the PAIGC led by Amilcar Cabral was incredibly successful both politically and militarily.

The generals got tired. They overthrow the fascist government in Portugal, and that allows for transitions to independence in Angola and Mozambique.

GOSZTOLA: Let’s introduce Jonas Savimbi. Let’s get into who he is. I see one of the policies that does not get enough attention and obviously there are people who have a lot of powerful interests who don’t want us to talk about it. But the U.S. has a very rich history of arming people who can fight what they see as freedom fights. In many ways, they’re just serving the interests of the United States.

Savimbi had an agenda for Angola. Let’s talk about his rise to a leadership position in UNITA, and then get into what made him appealing to the U.S. as someone they could support.

NESBITT: Marissa has really laid out a very important part of the background, and one of the points that she made very, very eloquently was the role that the church missionary organizations played in consolidating and determining the direction of these liberation movements.

For example, the UNITA organization was very oriented to the congregational church of the United States, coming out of the southern part of Angola. The FNLA had a very strong Baptist orientation. The MPLA had a very strong orientation to the Methodist church, and these connections [turned] out to be very important later.

Savimbi is educated in Europe. He is very much a product of the church missions’ sending him to Europe, first to Portugal then he goes to Switzerland. He is very ambitious from the very, very get go. He is very bright. He is a great linguist. He has extraordinary connections that he develops all over Europe, many among these church forces. He is very influenced by the growing numbers of people in Europe, Africans in Europe, like Kenyans for example—[Jomo] Kenyatta was a great influence on him—to get involved with these independence movements that are sweeping through Africa. And he decides from the beginning that he wants to come in at a very high level.

He has some connections with FNLA, the movement run by Holden Roberto. Incidentally, Holden Roberto is a brother-in-law to Joseph Mobutu, who had been involved in the overthrow and assassination of Patrice Lumumba. So I think he found that was not exactly a comfortable movement to work with and being around Holden Roberto was not his cup of tea.

So he goes and approaches the MPLA and he says basically to the MPLA in meetings with some of their leadership and other representatives, he says that he wants to become a member of the MPLA but come in at a leadership level. He doesn’t want to come in as an ordinary cadre joining the organization and have to fight to gain his recognition from being a regular member. He wants to start out as a leader. And he is turned down with that. That’s not the way in which the MPLA recruited people.

He begins searching about for his own base, and that base he decides is going to be in central Angola, away from the MPLA base, more in the rural areas. And he also decides that he is going to get support from the Chinese government. He declared a kind of a Maoist for a period of time, and that he was going to get support from two other forces and that was the United States and South Africa. He begins talks with all of these as he begins to develop a movement inside the country. To his credit, I must say he is one of the leaders who from the beginning really bases himself among the peasantry of Angola and in the countryside. He just doesn’t just do this from rural foreign capitals.

For example, Holden Roberto of the FNLA literally never went inside Angola to struggle. He did everything that he did running FNLA from the Congo or from Europe or American capitals. But Savimbi is very different. He gets this support. He’s talking to all these different forces at the same time, these different outside forces, and has rejected any kind of position with the MPLA and FNLA, and he creates UNITA.

He immediately becomes quite an attractive figure to the United States, and on this, incidentally the book [In Search of Enemies] by John Stockwell, the former CIA station chief in the Congo, is an excellent source for how much the United States saw Savimbi as an attractive person to work with. That he would be very good at pushing the interests of the United States in this region, which as Marissa has pointed out are increasing because of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. So the United States is very interested in finding its own hobby horse that it can ride in this region, and Savimbi becomes that hobby horse.

Helping Savimbi and employed by Savimbi is Paul Manafort, who your listening audience is currently in jail for his role helping an American-based kind of tyrant known as the President of the United States. I first came across him as far as him being a registered foreign agent for Jonas Savimbi, and I must say, and I have to mention to you, that at the time I was working for the Mozambique Liberation Front for the FRELIMO government, trying to mobilize people in the United States to keep the Reagan administration out of its Cold War motivations from joining into destroy the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) because it was socialist. So I must mention that.

Manafort is being paid by UNITA, and UNITA is giving Manafort massive amounts of money. And in this time, incidentally, Manafort is not submitting forms that he should submit—that I had to submit—as a registered foreign agent of a foreign government of the Justice Department. So that’s when I first noticed that this guy was a bit irregular. But it becomes a tremendous amount of money that Manafort being given by Savimbi and the various conservative organizations that are backing Savimbi and his UNITA organization.

These are all kinds of organizations—the American Enterprise Institute, Coors Foundation, the Conservative Caucus, the Free Angola Foundation, the Heritage Foundation. And then other organizations that I hope to talk more about, Black Americans for Free Angola.

It’s an incredible story about this support that Savimbi is able to get with Manafort lobbying for him in the United States and then of course this becomes even stronger because the United States overthrows the law that existed called the Clark Amendment, which it is passed in 1976. It had initially prohibited the United States from giving money and arms to Savimbi and getting involved militarily in the Angola affair, but this law is overturned and particularly under the Reagan administration they start giving immense amounts of money to Jonas Savimbi and his UNITA organization.

Now, one other thing, then I’ll yield my discussion for a moment. It’s very important that you bear in mind, and I think Marissa made mention of this, that there was passed early on because of U.S. partnership with Portugal and NATO. There was passed the huge annual amount of money that we paid to the Portuguese government to help facilitate Portuguese colonial wars all over—in Angola, in Mozambique, in Guinea-Bissau. They would not have been able to maintain those wars had it not been from the kind of money that came under what was called the Azores package that provided annual military supplements to Portugal, the poorest country in Europe. So it’s very important that we bear that in mind as a background to the specific work done by Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly, the PR firm that Savimbi brings in.

Let me also finish by saying lots of the money that Savimbi uses to pay Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly, we’re talking about serious amounts of money. I think there was probably about $1.5 million annually. Lots of that came directly from the apartheid South African regime that was then given to Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly by the apartheid government that was then given to Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly. So from very early on, [Manafort] is expert, is adroit at playing off these different conservative forces in bolstering up one of the most vicious hitmen that emerges in this whole story, Jonas Savimbi.

I met him several times, and I don’t think I have ever known a more evil human being and more cunning. He was a brilliant person. He was a top-notch speaker. He could articulate incredible messages to any kind of audience in any kind of language. But his base political instincts to go for the throat of people were very evident from the very beginning.

MOORMAN: I want to rewind. I left us off right at independence, and this period Prexy just covered—It’s important to understand. Angola wins its independence after the Portugal, and even though these three parties, there’s an attempt to make it a peaceful transition, that quickly falls apart. Independence is set for November 11 of 1975, and by June of 1975, we see that these three movements, UNITA, the MPLA, and the FNLA, are fighting each other, despite the fact that they’re supposed to be forming a unity government. And that’s when things get really, really messy. It’s kind of coming up to the date of scheduled independence, and that’s when they start looking and scrambling, much more self-consciously, looking for support to shore up their movements. They’re all doing this.

The MPLA went equally to the USA. They were not far behind Savimbi or Holden Roberto in that move. So it’s very murky, and it’s unclear who will support who in this period. In fact, what we see and what Stockwell’s book demonstrates is the United States was in fact funding both Holden Roberto and Jonas Savimbi at the same time.

Meanwhile, the MPLA had a kind of rocky relationship with the Soviet Union but had a much closer relationship with Cuba. Cuba helped the MPLA in the 1960s, when Che is in the Congo there are initial contacts. But it’s really only in 1974-75 that Cuba becomes a key ally for Angola, and it’s really with the support of Cuban troops and with Soviet weapons and some Soviet military advisers coming in a little bit later, only after independence is declared, is the MPLA able to take the capital and declare an independent Angola in the name of the MPLA.

The result of that also means that there’s basically a civil war that breaks out immediately. Savimbi and Holden Roberto together declare a Republic of Angola in Huambo that falls apart very quickly, and again we see Angola born under the sign of civil war. So it’s terribly complex, and this whole period wrought with fluctuating policy over how to handle independence on the African continent, the first wave in the 1960s and then how to handle this second wave in particularly what’s happening in southern Africa with the tightening of apartheid in South Africa, with some Soviet involvement in places, and with the apartheid government in South Africa beating the drums using anti-communism and the ideology of the Cold War to gain further support for itself from the U.S.

It’s a tremendously complex situation and one that’s uneven. As Prexy pointed out, after all this confusion in 1974-1975, the U.S. Congress passes the Clark Amendment so that the U.S. is not funding and does not fund anybody. That actually works for about nine years, and then in the mid-’80s under Reagan the U.S. gets more involved once again.

NESBITT: Marissa is bringing out very important things. One other dynamic that’s going on throughout this too that’s very important is that there is a lot of coordination amongst the movements fighting against Portuguese colonialism. There is an organization, in fact, called concep. It was the council of coordinating entities that were coming out of the Portuguese colonies. In fact, if one was to really trace the roots of Cuban engagement with the MPLA, one part of that would be the speech that Amilcar Cabral in 1966 in Havana, Cuba, where at the Tricontinental Conference he really steals the show, Amilcar Cabral the leader of the PAIGC in Guinea-Bissau.

But this same Amilcar Cabral was also very close and was part of the founding of MPLA in Angola, and they all had relations with FRELIMO in Mozambique and with FRETILIN in East Timor. That was also a Portuguese colony so all of these movements had very close relationships with each other. That dynamic continues throughout this period that Marissa is talking about, and it’s very important to be aware of that also.

GOSZTOLA: As currently we have our politics playing out, there are many who examine U.S. foreign policy and say that we have entered a New Cold War. So I bring that up to say that we’re going to go back, and I’ll ask about how specifically Savimbi sold himself. How did Manafort help Savimbi and others and how did these right-wing groups say that this is the group that can fight Soviet imperialism, or this is the group that can stave off the communists? And how was that promoted within Congress and in civil society in the United States? I’d really like to get into that aspect.

NESBITT: One of the important things to bear in mind is this is the midst of the Cold War and that Savimbi is a master at playing to U.S. anti-communist sentiments and credos. So he says that he is the one who is going to champion free enterprise in southern Africa. He is the one who is going to protect U.S. economic interests and keep the Soviet Union from taking over the whole region. He plays that card also with the South African government and says literally—he goes to South Africa. He invites South African leaders to his bases in Angola, and they’re able to come because they have this military presence that’s very powerful in the region. And with their military they come right to his headquarters at Jamba, and there they discuss strategy.

In fact, it’s out of this same Cold War sentiment that when the South Africans go into Angola to fight—Because their interest is also to stop SWAPO, the Southwest African Peoples Organization, the movement for liberating southwest Africa from South African control. So the South African interest is to also stop and militarily defeat SWAPO, which is fighting in northern Namibia but also in Angola.

The interest of the South Africans is, yes, they want to do this war too against the Angolans. And so they come to the United States playing on U.S. Cold War instincts, U.S. interests and stopping the expansion of the Soviet empire, stopping the bears. They say to them we want to invade Angola. Will you go with this? And Gerald Ford agrees, and then they don’t go, and there was a real bitter moment that the South Africans still talk about when the United States fails militarily to join with South Africa in invading Angola and stopping this expanding what they call the Soviet menace that was taking over southern Africa.

In this, you also see the crass racism of the United States’ policy making decisions—[Henry] Kissinger’s attitudes toward this, the attitudes of [President Richard] Nixon—their attitudes just resonate with the view that the Africans involved in this are being led by the nose by the Soviets or the Cubans, and they could have no thinking of their own this. Throughout all this, you have expressed this fundamental Cold War attitude that these wars are what’s going to keep America safe.

So the people who go along with this are some of the same people from history that we know as being amongst the worst—Orrin Hatch, Bob Dole, Claude Pepper, Henry Hyde from my state in Illinois. I remember horrible meetings we had with him, where their whole attitude was that we got to stop the communists. As Reagan said, if we don’t stop them here, they’ll be coming on the golf courses of Texas the next thing we see, and people were seriously being sucked in by this Cold War mentality at that period. It’s interesting how much Trump seems to be trying to revive that approach.

GOSZTOLA: And for you Marissa, but also Prexy if you have anything, what is the impact of all of this on the Angolan people themselves? What is the result, the cost to efforts among people at the grassroots who are struggling for their liberation? What does having the U.S. step in do to their efforts?

MOORMAN: The costs are, of course, high, but I will also underscore that when we talk about the situation and how it impacts Angola we often lose sight of the fact that the Angolans are making their own decisions. The MPLA are making their own decisions. Savimbi’s making his own decisions. They are not just being swung by the interests of the Soviet Union, the interests of South Africa, or the interests of the United States.

I think, as Prexy was very rightly pointing out, the racism of our own leaders and policymakers and the racism that permeates American society in general keeps us from understanding and seeing in fact what it is that different groups they are trying to do and why they are engaging with who they are engaging.

At the same time, Angola’s current situation is both a result of this history but it’s also the responsibility that Angolans have made for better or for worse. But having the U.S. intervening and South Africa intervening and having a rebel group fighting a civil war in Angola obviously made independence incredibly complicated. Right, all of the energies and finances that would’ve gone to building a new country really went into a new war effort. So that had a tremendously devastating impact.

They were invaded by South Africa several times. Much of southern Angola was being bombed throughout the 1980s by South Africa. And this had a devastating impact on the capacity of the Angolan state to develop and meant that very much of the budget was being always poured into military and things like that instead of education, despite some real successes in terms of education in the days of early independence.

Angolans, the MPLA in this case, they were the ruling party—They made their own decisions, and even after the end of the Cold War and after changes in the region, after the fall of apartheid, the Angolans, the UNITA, and the MPLA continued to fight until 2002, and that is firmly their own responsibility. Even after foreign powers pulled their resources from the civil war, the war continued a full ten or twelve years than when it might have. Part of that has to do with their personalities. Savimbi just never was going to share power. The MPLA also eventually made the decision that they were going to need to defeat UNITA militarily.

NESBITT: And kill Savimbi.

MOORMAN: Absolutely. All the negotiations had failed. So the result is that we see that Angola basically from 1961, when the anti-colonial war breaks out, until 2002 is at war. That’s a very long time. That’s never going to be good both in terms of political practice, infrastructure, and the economy, and in terms of what that does to people.

NESBITT: What Marissa has just said is so important because it also created a country that was so completely run by war. You couldn’t move in Angola. It was landmined. You couldn’t go out on the ground because it was so landmined.

The whole country because of all of these forces fighting each other, the whole country was landmined. And I remember making a trip through rural Angola, and when we’d get out of vehicles to stop, we had to have people show us where to walk away from the vehicle because the landmines were everywhere; more landmines than anywhere else in the world except maybe Cambodia.

In this, let me tell you, the United States munitions company made a lot of money because they were very involved, as was the Soviet Union and the Chinese, in landmining this whole country. So as a result, Angola had the highest amputee populations anywhere in the world. This immediate visible physical manifestation of what Marissa has laid out, this country at war throughout this period of time.

I want to speak very quickly about another thing that’s very important that comes right along. There was tremendous confusion throughout this period in the U.S. black American population. Because Savimbi’s appeal often, as he made these trips to the United States—and this was worked on systematically by Savimbi and his handlers, like Manafort and also a woman by the name of Florence Tate, who ran Florence Tate Associates. They deliberately sowed confusion among black Americans, and others, but especially black Americans by saying that the war was a war against these mestizos that were the MPLA and that they were the pure Angolans. UNITA represented the pure Angolans.

As a result you had organizations like the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) out of New York, recruiting and mobilizing mercenaries, black American mercenaries, to go and fight against black people in the MPLA forces in Angola, and it was a very serious issue in black communities in the United States, where people who were keeping up with southern Africa it was a serious issue as to which position you took. Were you supporting UNITA or were you supporting the MPLA government?

And it was the work of particularly Walter Rodney, who we brought to the country, and he did work speaking all over the country, and the solidarity organizations that were willing to take on the race aspects of this and talk about it and move it beyond black people versus light-skinned mulattos and move it to a better understanding of the whole thing. That really there were moments where there was almost manifestations of armed struggle within black communities, the black mobilized solidarity groups in the United States around the question of Angola.

People might be interested in more information about this. I wrote an article for the Black Scholar called “Angola Is A Part Of All Of Us.” I’d hearken back to what Marissa said in the very beginning and that was the tremendous numbers of African Americans, who are descended from slaves who were brought out of Portuguese Africa, especially out of Angola.

GOSZTOLA: You mentioned, Prexy, earlier in our conversation, the Black Americans for Angola, and maybe now is a good point to throw out a few more specifics about this group.

NESBITT: That group was not by itself. There was also Black Americans United in Chicago. There was the African Americans For Peace and Democracy in Angola. These were all front organizations that were setup with CIA money. This is talked about a great deal by Stockwell, the book that I mentioned earlier, the guy who had been the CIA station chief in Congo and handled much of the shipment of arms to UNITA. He has talked several times and written about these front organizations that were setup by UNITA in particular utilizing color antagonisms inside of the black community to promote and to recruit people to support UNITA.

One of the most dramatic manifestations of this was what happened down in Mississippi, where it split the family of Medgar Evers entirely. There were other groups, cities, where organizations were split over whether you supported UNITA and Savimbi or whether you supported what was viewed as the Soviets and Cubans intruding on Africa. This was a tremendous divisive question that divided the left up at that time in a very serious way.

I remember being a part of the group of people, along with the American Friends Service Committee and the Methodist Church and Black Scholar, who met with the MPLA and the Cubans very early on. And I have to say that the MPLA and Cubans recognized right away that doing solidarity work on this question of angola in the United States was going to be a very hard and difficult question.

I also want to say that I urge people to read Amilcar Cabral’s writings about all of this period. Because the other countries were very aware of how the conservatives and UNITA’s forces and the South Africans were going to use this as a way to drive wedges within the solidarity anti-apartheid organizations, the organizations who were trying to work on ending colonialism, ending apartheid. It was very, very serious work in that period.

Also, one quick illustration of this: Another big supporter of UNITA was Sun Moon of the Unification Church. And I remember going to a testimonial dinner of the elected black representatives in Congress in that late ‘70s, maybe it was even mid-80s.

Much to my surprise, I found that every member of the Congressional Black Caucus had been given money—only a few had turned it down—by Sun Moon, who was one of the biggest people supporting Savimbi and UNITA, which meant also supporting the South African apartheid regime at that time because they were inseparable.

It also meant supporting Portuguese colonialism because you’ve got to remember UNITA, Savimbi made a direct alliance with the Portuguese colonial army so that his main military target of UNITA for many, many years, long before the period of the final confrontation between UNITA and MPLA that Marissa was talking about, even earlier UNITA had been involved in capturing MPLA soldiers working hand in hand with the Portuguese colonial army.

GOSZTOLA: As we near the end, I’m hearing two things that are worth highlighting as we conclude. First off, I’m sensing that this was possibly and probably toxic even to just the anti-apartheid movement and probably divisive at a moment when people needed to come together around that.

We see this currently. I won’t get into any specific struggles. But you can have solidarity completely around one conflict in one country and then that other country divides people entirely and then disrupts that work in showing solidarity with people who are fighting independence. It sounds like that’s what was happening back during the era of Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, and if you wanted to go back further, Richard Nixon as well.

But I also listened to what we’re talking about and hearing from you, the conservatives, these organizations that are lobbying government, the ability to arm these particular groups, to covertly be involved in supporting factions in certain countries. I see what’s happening particularly with Trump in Latin America today, what still is happening in Cuba, and I think that very much connects to what we’re talking about in our conversation right now.

Any final thoughts you each want to add before we conclude?

NESBITT: One small quote, and I really want to hear Marissa’s thinking on this, because it also manifests itself in ways in what is presented culturally to us. The question of this use of race as a way to divide up the solidarity movement plays itself out also in the South Africa struggle because there you have for a long time the question of many African Americans, who wanted nothing to do with the African National Congress of South Africa because they had white membership.

I remember being a part of an organization that we fought this struggle, this tension very vigorously in Chicago, and it’s only with the appearance of Nelson Mandela as this sort of figure that transcends all of that, but comes from an organization that is multi-racial, the ANC—With the appearance of Mandela, you get people who then previously only supported the PAC [Pan African Congress], who then say no, they were really secretly supporting the ANC as well throughout that period.

It has to do with this fundamental question of who is the enemy and how do you define the enemy. And I think that this really surfaced in a big big way, fascinating and instructive way, in the Pan Africanist Congress of 1974 held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, when there was a big discussion between the African Americans, who were present, and the southern Africans about the question of who you fight against.

How do you define the enemy? And I think it’s fair to say that the Southern African liberation movements had long since decided they were fighting against an enemy that consisted of structures, not of individual people. But this was a big topic at that Pan Africanist Congress in Dar es Salaam in 1974.

MOORMAN: I’ll just add, and I think what Prexy is pointing out is fundamental, which is the ways in which it is hard to educate ourselves about what is going on throughout the world. It should be easier than ever, but in some ways it’s harder than ever. And we need to do because in order for there to be a real kind of grassroots democracy, which is essentially what we were witnessing in the 1970s and the 1980s—the end of the Civil Rights Movement and with the rise of Black Power and Black Nationalism. That made African Americans and others in solidarity with the Civil Rights Movement think more about what was happening globally.

We begin to see people making connections between what is going on in the United States with what’s going on in other countries. We see this massive mobilization in the U.S. in support of independence on the African continent, but mostly it’s a bit later in support of the anti-apartheid movement.

The state, the U.S. interests, they start to fight their own people. That’s essentially what we see here. Savimbi pays Manafort. Manafort then gets engaged in sort of capturing part of the American imagination so that people will support people like Savimbi, and there will be contest over what should the U.S. role be in South Africa and in fighting apartheid. All of these things are connected, and I think the fact that they’re so tremendously complicated and that we have actors at very different levels trying to do things, one at community levels, and then kind of interference by state bodies to promote its own interests. And then at the same time the state isn’t one thing.

I think throughout this period and in the moment that we’re living now we see that there are people in the government who don’t agree with what’s happening. We saw in the 1980s that people in the State Department had a very different position than [Henry] Kissinger. People on the ground, people who worked in the U.S. embassies on the African continent, people in the Africa bureau told a very different story than Kissinger told.

And so what we see then is conflicts between different branches of government. I think that’s something that we’re also witnessing right now and that should concern us, and we also we can’t be naive about how some actors, certainly in this society and others, will promote their own self interest above the interests of a particular country or of the sustainability of a particular governing system in a country.

So I think we need to be tremendously skeptical and careful. We need to learn how to listen, and we need to learn how to do research and follow the money and follow the facts.

NESBITT: And read about these things. I don’t know Marissa if you have this same experience, but when I teach so many of my students about this stuff, one of the common refrains I hear from them is, but Mr. Nesbitt, how come I didn’t know about this earlier? Why didn’t I hear about this earlier? How can it be that we never knew about these things happening that we weren’t talked about them in schools?

These have so much bearing on our lives, and that’s a piece that I tried to address when I wrote my piece, “Angola Is A Part Of All Of Us.” I think Angola is part of an ongoing saga that just like Marissa says we have to look at carefully. We should know the history of it just as we have to know the history of the founding of the United States that process is so interconnected to other processes taking place all over the world, especially in the Africa that Americans so often confuse with being a single country.

MOORMAN: Yeah, I think this is happens in every nation that we tend to be inward looking. But it’s particularly so in the United States and particularly dangerous because the U.S. is a world power. People for good reasons are concerned with day-to-day issues, economic issues, their own struggles, but it really behooves all of us to look really carefully at the role that the United States has played in the world. Not in a flat way, not in saying it’s always bad, but in seeing all the complexities and thinking about what it means for us, what it means for our day-to-day, what it means for getting involved in new wars, etc.

NESBITT: That history, it reverberates. It’s all over. It keeps coming back to hit us. It’s a necessity for us to know what’s happening in the rest of the world.

The post The US And Anti-Colonial Resistance In Angola: Interview With Prexy Nesbitt And Marissa Moorman appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, Africa, Angola, anti-colonial resistance, cold war, Paul Manafort, Unauthorized Disclosure Podcast]

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[l] at 6/19/20 1:25pm
Editor’s Note

Shadowproof has always had a space on its website that covers musicians who are speaking to present social and political moments, and in the past weeks, the world has witnessed an explosion of music that grapples with racial injustice and amplifies the movement for black lives.

There is no lack of lists featuring artists who have recorded songs with lyrics that name-check Black Lives Matter or use the protests as a backdrop for their music. However, we put this particular list together to acknowledge musicians (primarily Black musicians), who are using their influence and platforms to amplify activism.

The list of ten artists is by no means exhaustive, and undoubtedly, there will likely be a need for another list to acknowledge artists we missed. But this will hopefully introduce music lovers who have a passion for social justice to some new artists that deserve to be in rotation.

Irreversible Entanglements – The Code Noir/Amina

Moor Mother (Camae Ayewa) is a poet in Irreversible Entanglements, which describes itself as a liberation-oriented free jazz collective. They formed at a Musicians Against Police Brutality event after the New York Police Department murdered Akai Gurley, and on March 20, 2020, the ensemble released the album “Who Sent You?” featuring “The Code Noir/Amina.”

Over an uptempo rhythm and foreboding horns, the ensemble reckons with past demons. Moor Mother pays homage to Black ancestors who withstood, endured, and survived centuries of exploitation. Then her poetry turns to agitation for action from humanity. “At what point do we stand up? At the breaking point? At the point of no return? At what point? At what point do we pull each other up, up out of the void, up out of a hell? At what point? At what point? At what point do we give a shit? Do we stand up and say something?”

While the coronavirus spread through communities, Moor Mother launched a collaborative series called “ANTHOLOGIA” that featured freestyle poems she wrote in March. The series raised money for the Afrofuturist Affair’s Futurist Fund, which was put toward disability justice.

Who Sent You? by Irreversible Entanglements

Durand Jones & The Indications – Everybody’s Got A Right To Live

The modern soul group, which formed at Indiana University in Bloomington, consistently sought ways to show solidarity with protests for Black lives. On May 30-31, the group donated all proceeds from their online store to the Minnesota Freedom Fund in order to ensure protesters were bailed out of jail. They dedicated their protest song, “Morning In America” to the movement, lamenting the fact that it was just as relevant as when they wrote in 2017 and would have been relevant in 1992, 1965, 1955, etc.

For the Poor People’s Campaign’s massive Digital Justice Gathering on June 20, the group recorded a cover of “Everybody’s Got A Right To Love,” which Rev. Frederick Douglass Kirkpatrick and Jimmy Collier sang in 1968. The song became the “central message” of the campaign.

The group transforms the earnest declaration into a finespun groove. Durand sings, “We are down in Washington fighting an age-old sin—systematic murder done by age-old men.” With lyrics from the 1960s, it grounds present struggles for justice in the history of action for human rights.

Nnamdi – Rage

Based in Chicago, Nnamdi Ogbonnaya is an experimental hip-hop artist, who recorded an EP called “Black Plight.” He raised more than $10,000 by selling the EP on Bandcamp and donated $4,000 to Assata’s Daughters, a group organizing black women on the south side, and $4,000 to EAT Chicago, which works to build social and economic equity among Black Chicagoans in the informal economy. Nnamdi also donated $2,000 to support those in the community who were in immediate need of food and housing.

“They kill us dead in the street, outside so everyone sees,” Nnamdi raps over a grimy guitar riff. Referring to cops, he adds, “They stand and watch while we bleed.” He concludes, “Had to burn it all down just to be heard, but we still ain’t heard.”

The track represents the anger and exhaustion Nnamdi and so many other Black people in the United States feel daily. “It comes from years of racial discrimination, police brutality, media sharing snuff films, peaceful protests ignored,” as Nnamdi previously shared.

Black people are often told they cannot express rage. That only compounds the feelings of exhaustion, misery, and despair. “Rage” is a righteous expression of what it means to live in a country with no accountability for cops and what it means for black men to be killed repeatedly with no systemic change whatsoever.

Black Plight by NNAMDÏ

Noname – Prayer Song (Featuring Adam Ness)

Fatimah Nyeema Warner, known as Noname, challenged “celebrity accounts” to match her $1,000 donation to the Minnesota Freedom Fund way before any corporations came around to sharing statements with the bare minimum they could say about “Black Lives Matter.” She routinely boosts the work of activists involved in jail support, direct action, and defunding the police. Abolition of police and prisons, along with “radical unity,” is central to her support for Black lives, and it comes with a critique of capitalism.

On “Prayer Song,” which appeared on her album, “Room 25,” Noname takes on the perspective of a cop and flows through several examples of how the cop gets off on committing brutality. “My mama finally seen her baby on Channel 2. She love me better when I be keeping the streets clean.” Noname specifically references how police murdered Philando Castile.
As Noname noted, “Every systemic structure existing for the purpose of human subjugation and exploitation is explained beautifully in a book somewhere, likely authored by a person of color.” Noname urged her followers to “consume more revolutionary content. Don’t allow this moment to be filtered through the establishment class media outlets. This includes social media. Read books about socialist revolutions. Watch documentaries/interviews about socialist revolutions. We become what we consume.”

Room 25 by Noname


Elise Okusami (Oceanator) – If You Miss Me at the Back of the Bus

A number of EPs and compilations to raise funds for groups have been produced since police murdered George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Elise Okusami, known as Oceanator, recorded a cover of “If You Miss Me At The Back Of The Bus” to support Survived And Punished New York, which is part of a coalition committed to “eradicating the criminalization of survivors of domestic and sexual violence and the culture of violence that contributes to it.”

Oceanator frequently produces cover songs that reimagine popular tracks but also help create space for Black musicians to defy expectations that are typically dictated by genre. This tune was written by Charles “Chuck” Neblett, a civil rights activist who was part of The Freedom Singers. It was written as organizers fought in the 1960s to desegregate a pool in Cairo, Illinois, and Pete Seeger recorded it.

Oceanator consistently promotes the work of activists while seeking ways to incorporate the joy of creating music and collaborating with artists, who also share her commitment to justice. She also has put together multiple threads to introduce people to independent black artists who deserve acknowledgment.
Tear the Fascists Down by Oceanator

B.L. Shirelle – SIGS

Die Jim Crow is the first nonprofit record label that produces music by current and formerly incarcerated musicians. BL Shirelle is a deputy director who travels to prisons. “All we want to do is produce great music by talented artists who deserve to be heard—whether they’re on the inside or the outside,” Shirelle told Interview Magazine.

Her debut album, “Assata Troi,” was released on Juneteenth. It includes the track, “SIGS,” which stands for “shit I gotta say.” She spits lyrics that deal with growing up as the child of a crack addict and selling crack to her mom at the age of 12. So much of what she raps about involves breaking a cycle and realizing rights that people think should be given were never given to her.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Shirelle extended her work with incarcerated musicians to providing personal protective equipment to people trapped in prisons. Ten thousand masks were sent to eight prisons in seven states.

“As a survivor of police brutality— I was shot by the police multiple times and beaten while in handcuffs, I had the opportunity not only to live through it, but fight back and live through it,” Shirelle shared. “It gives me a feeling of survivor’s remorse and mental trauma every time I see this stuff but also a sense of responsibility.”

Moses Sumney – Rank-and-File

“More than half-baked gestures of love, more then a call for “peace” from both sides (as if “both sides” have equal power and antagonize equally), we need restorative justice,” Moses Sumney declared. “We need to demilitarize and dismantle the police force. We need convictions of the crooked cops in the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor cases. And we need white allies to proclaim BOLDLY that BLACK Lives Matter.”

Moses Sumney is a Black musician who has built an identity through music that defies binaries. “grae,” which was released in 2020, has garnered critical acclaim for its ambitious effort to explore the spaces in between and for redefining how artists may sonically construct a song. And Sumney also recorded an EP in 2018 called, “Black In Deep Red, 2014,” that was inspired by what he witnessed in Ferguson, Missouri, after a grand jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for murdering Mike Brown.

“Rank & File” evokes what it is like to be at a protest where militarized police forces are lined up ready to follow any order they are given to attack demonstrators. “Puppets, erect/With batteries set/They charge for a while/and fall right into rank and file/When they forget/That we cut the checks/They get really riled.”

Sumney has promoted the work of fellow black artists and encouraged people to donate to funds that support Black trans people because Black trans people are “more likely to be jailed and face higher rates of prison violence.” He understands people need to “get uncomfortable.” Black Americans have “contributed boundlessly to culture and infrastructure with little structural return,” and they are at least owed a population that finally recognizes why complacency with structures of white supremacy must be shaken.

Thee Sacred Souls – Give Us Justice

Thee Sacred Souls, a modern soul group that is part of the esteemed Daptone Records family, recorded a tune “in memory of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the many other black lives lost to the hands of racism.” They pledged to donate 100% of proceeds to various organizations beginning with the Movement for Black Lives.

“Could’ve been me. It could’ve been me. Lying on the concrete, there’s a knee against my neck. Pleading for my breath. Pleading for my breath,” Black singer Josh Lane sings. “There’ll be no peace. There’ll be no peace. Until there’s justice. Until there’s justice.”

Lane acknowledged Floyd, Arbery, and Taylor each joined a “disturbingly long list of unarmed black humans taken away from us with a murderous rage disguised as American valor. Black people’s lives were stolen from them by white men who felt free to decide their fate, who felt they had the blessing of this country to murder in the name of justice.” Lane concluded, “We won’t accept the crucifixion of police and white vigilantes upholding justice!”

Wyatt Waddell – FIGHT

“When all the protests were happening, I spent a lot of time trying to process everything that I was feeling,” Black Chicago musician Wyatt Waddell wrote. “It is the artist’s job to reflect the times that they live in. I knew that was something I always wanted to do, but I had to grow into that role.”

Not only did Waddell reflect the times, but he composed a rousing toe-tapping rhythm called “FIGHT!” that took that pain and suffering and turned it into a shot of positivity one can inject into their soul to rejuvenate them in moments of exhaustion and despair.

Waddell sets the scene. Police tanks are lined up against protesters. Yet, as he sings, there can be no backing down from staring officers in the face and getting sprayed with mace because people are done seeing dead bodies in the street.

Through the track, Waddell raised more than $1,000 that was donated to Chicago Community Bond Fund, Black Lives Matter Chicago, and Greater Chicago Food Depository, and he is still using the track to raise money for Black lives.

FIGHT! by Wyatt Waddell

Jamila Woods (featuring Noname) – VERY BLK

The infectious word play of “Very BLK” immediately grabs one’s attention as Jamila Woods affirms what it means to be a Black woman. She takes the possibility that a cop may turn her into a “chalk line” after she says “I can’t breathe” and disarms this dreadful prospect. Each lyric is delivered like a child jumping rope on a school playground, and it leads into Woods saying, “I’m very black, black, black,” and promising to fight back against racial oppression.

Woods has boosted efforts to defund the police and remove police officers from Chicago schools, as well as a campaign for cancelling rent. She has urged people to donate to Black trans organizations, Assata’s Daughters, community arts centers, Black artists, and Black-owned businesses.

More than anything, much of Woods’ music is a celebration of Black lives. Her album, “LEGACY! LEGACY!” paid tribute to Black icons from Betty Davis to Eartha Kitt to James Baldwin to Sun Ra. As she described, it was a collection of “sonic and lyrical monuments” that acknowledge the ways they pushed beyond the margins to make amazing cultural contributions.


The post Ten Musical Artists Who Amplify And Support Anti-Racist Organizing appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, The Protest Music Project, Anti-Racism, Black Lives Matter, Protest Music Project]

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[l] at 6/18/20 4:39pm

We’ve watched the recent rise in awareness of Abolitionism with pride at Shadowproof. The movement to abolish the prison industrial complex (PIC) is one we have supported and covered since we launched the site five years ago.

There are many understandable questions at this moment about what abolitionist organizing and demands look like. In particular, readers seek critical abolitionist analyses of reforms, and they’re curious about non-carceral interventions in violence and other harms being developed by communities most impacted by policing. 

Shadowproof is mobilizing resources and our platform to raise the visibility of the movement to abolish the PIC. We are calling on independent journalists to pitch us stories on the following :

  • Grassroots abolitionist organizing to take power and resources away from policing, prisons, or other arms of the carceral state (like defunding police, etc.)
  • Examples of transformative justice, community accountability, and other non-carceral anti-violence processes that exist in most impacted communities
  • Critical analysis of reformist-reforms and exploration of non-reformist (abolitionist) reform proposals around the country

Shadowproof is primarily interested in reported pieces and will give priority to journalists who have demonstrated an understanding of and experience with the abolition movement. We would also like to note that Shadowproof is committed to the safety and privacy of our sources. We are open to discussing anonymity and other ways to protect individuals featured in our reporting, as we acknowledge the sensitive and often dangerous nature of anti-violence organizing.

Please review our freelance submission guidelines for instructions on pitching Shadowproof. We look forward to hearing your ideas!

The post OPEN CALL: Freelance Journalism On Prison And Police Abolition appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Announcements, Latest News, Prison Protest, Abolition, Freelance Journalism, Open Call, Prison Abolition]

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[l] at 6/17/20 6:19pm

A federal court declared an “ag-gag” law in North Carolina unconstitutional and barred the state government from enforcing key parts of the law against journalists or whistleblowers.

Judge Thomas Schroeder concluded the state’s Property Protection Act violated the First Amendment and removed multiple provisions from the law, leaving parts that did not target speech intact.

North Carolina was the fifth state to have their “ag-gag” law struck down by a federal court.

“Ag-gag laws” are essentially corporate-backed farm secrecy statutes that are intended to suppress and criminalize speech about industrial agricultural production. They are especially designed to discourage employees from taking photos or recording video that may expose abuse or misconduct.

On June 3, 2015, the North Carolina General Assembly overrode a veto by the governor and passed the Property Protection Act, which amended the law to provide a “civil remedy for interference with certain property rights by creating a civil cause of action for the owner or operator.”

It empowered the attorney general and chancellors of state universities, where animal research and experiments are conducted, to file civil lawsuits that could result in steep fines—$5,000 for each day a “violator” committed offenses.

The law was challenged by a coalition of organizations, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Center for Food Safety, Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), Farm Sanctuary, Food and Water Watch, Farm Forward, the Government Accountability Project, and American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

As a coalition, the organizations claimed the law would discourage them from “employment-based undercover investigations to document and expose animal abuse” or inhibit their ability to collect information from whistleblowers and investigators that could be incorporated into their advocacy work.

ALDF told the court it was prepared to conduct undercover investigations at state-owned facilities, but preparations were “thwarted” by the passage of the law.

Similarly, ASPCA halted the funding of investigations in North Carolina because they feared they would be targeted and held liable.

Each of the organizations highlighted ways the law undermined their ability to produce content that was central to their missions because the law prevented information from reaching them.

The federal court in North Carolina acknowledged [PDF] one key difference between the law and many of the other “ag-gag” laws that have been deemed unconstitutional. However, because it empowered private citizens or entities to bring lawsuits did not mean it satisfied constitutional guidelines.

As Schroeder described, the law empowered the state government to “identify speech—or in some cases conduct that includes speech”—and enforce the prohibition against this speech. IT was the University of North Carolina Chancellor or the North Carolina Attorney General, who would represent targeted state agencies.

It is also likely that the law was struck down because it had no discernible purpose outside of discouraging undercover investigations. North Carolina has a trespass law to protect private property, and the judge was presented with zero evidence to show that the trespass law was deficient.

“The ASPCA is proud to have been a part of this lawsuit and applauds the court’s decision, which is a huge victory for farm animals and the fight to create a more humane, transparent food system,” ASPCA stated . “Ag-gag laws are unconstitutional and have no place in our society.”

Yet, the victory came a week after the Iowa state legislature passed its third “ag-gag” bill. It was tucked into legislation that was drafted to deal with the impact of the coronavirus.

“The latest bill would create a new crime, ‘food operation trespass,’ for anyone who enters a location without permission where a ‘food animal’ is kept or where meat is sold or processed,” The Intercept’s Alleen Brown reported.

The first Iowa “ag-gag” law was declared unconstitutional, and the second Iowa law was challenged in federal court.

Altogether, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, North Carolina, and Utah have each seen their “ag-gag” laws defeated by lawsuits brought by organizations impacted by them.

North Carolina also is notorious for its pig farms, which can smell like decomposing bodies if waste is illegally sprayed.

For years, according to residents, “North Carolina regulators shielded the identities of polluting farms, burying public complaints against them and leaving those who lived nearby with few avenues for redress.”

A law like the one struck down is the kind of law that helps North Carolina coverup the impact of agribusiness on the environment in communities throughout the state.

“Studies show that consumers are concerned about the welfare of farm animals, due in part to undercover videos showing horrific conditions and abuse of animals on factory farms. Big Ag should focus on shifting to more humane farming systems instead of seeking to punish those who expose the cruelty currently happening on farms,” ASPCA concluded.

The post North Carolina ‘Ag-Gag’ Law Aimed At Suppressing Whistleblowers Struck Down By Federal Court appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, ag-gag laws, animal cruelty, Big Agriculture, North Carolina, Whistleblowers]

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[l] at 6/17/20 9:50am

The following was originally published at Ongoing History of Protest Songs.

The most powerful protest music can perfectly encapsulate the moments and moods being experienced by society. At times, it can even come across as eerily prophetic.

Originally, Killer Mike and El-P, the rap duo known as Run the Jewels, planned to release their fourth album on June 5. They released it a couple days early as a response to protests against police brutality place that unfolded after innocent black lives, like Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, were murdered by officers.

On social media, Run the Jewels made the following statement, “Fuck it, why wait? The world is infested with bullshit so here’s something raw to listen to while you deal with it all.”

“We hope it brings you some joy. Stay safe and hopeful out there, and thank you for giving two friends the chance to be heard and do what they love.”

The album was made available for free download on their website, but fans had the option of donating to the National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Fund.

One key track that was viewed as rather prescient was “walking in the snow,” which features the chilling lyric, “And every day on the evening news, they feed you fear for free. And you so numb, you watch the cops choke out a man like me. Until my voice goes from a shriek to whisper, ‘I can’t breathe.'”

“I can’t breathe” referred to the last words of Eric Garner, who was choked to death by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, but sadly the words took on new resonance since those were George Floyd’s dying words too.

The lyrics also serve as an indictment of the news media which promotes a fear-based narrative.

Michael “Killer Mike” Render addressed the media during an impassioned speech in his hometown of Atlanta.

“I love CNN. I love Cartoon Network, but I’d like to say to CNN right now karma’s a mother. Stop feeding fear and anger every day. Stop making people feel so fearful. Give them hope,” Render declared.

In these times we need music to get us through, few artists provide a soundtrack for the moment like Run The Jewels.

The post Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Walking In The Snow’ By Run The Jewels appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, The Dissenter, George Floyd, Police Brutality, Protest Song of the Week, Run The Jewels]

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[l] at 6/16/20 5:38pm

Northrop Grumman, the third largest military contractor in the world, was allegedly involved in falsely accusing CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou of “revenge porn.”

The false accusation allegedly resulted in his arrest, improper charges, and a police raid that violated his privacy rights.

A civil lawsuit further claims the false accusation contributed to the “loss of contact” with his three children, who are eight, 13, and 15 years old.

He seeks damages from Northrop, John Bamford, an Arlington County police detective, and his ex-wife Heather Kiriakou.

In 2007, Kiriakou was one of the first CIA officers to publicly acknowledge that torture was official United States policy under President George W. Bush. His outspokenness on torture led the government to target him with a leak prosecution under the Espionage Act.

He pled guilty in 2012 to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA), when he confirmed the name of an officer involved in the CIA’s Rendition, Detention and Interrogation (RDI) program to a reporter.

Kiriakou was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. He was incarcerated at Federal Correctional Institution Loretto in Pennsylvania, nearly 200 miles away from his children.

He is currently a co-host of the “Loud and Clear” radio program on Sputnik, a writer whose work is regularly featured at Consortium News, and an author of four books, including his most recent book, The CIA Insider’s Guide to the Iran Crisis .

Much of his commentary involves advocacy that is critical of United States foreign policy, which may directly challenge Northrop’s business interests.

According to the complaint [PDF], Heather was allegedly involved in an affair with a Northrop executive. John contacted Northrop’s ethics office in July 2018 to inform them that he “possessed documents” showing Heather, a director at the corporation, and an executive “fraudulently billed” the company for “business travel.” However, they were engaged in “tens of thousands of dollars” of “personal travel” that involved cheating on him.

The ethics office allegedly “instructed” John to transmit the documents he claimed he possessed, but subsequently, Northrop shared the documents with Heather and engaged in retaliation.

On August 9, 2019, John Bamford, a detective with the Arlington County Police Department, arrested and charged John Kiriakou with “two counts of illegal dissemination of photographs.”

Bamford obtained search warrants on October 11 for John’s person, vehicles, and home to investigate accusations of “revenge porn” that were apparently false.

The lawsuit contends Bamford knew the search warrants violated the Fourth Amendment because they were not supported by evidence of “revenge porn.”

John’s home was raided on October 15, and Bamford allegedly violated his constitutional rights when he detained and searched John with an “army of two dozen Arlington County Police and FBI officers nearby.”

Over seven and a half hours, electronics and other items from John’s home were apparently inventoried and seized. A 2016 Vespa LXV scooter was impounded for three weeks before authorities finally returned it.

The photos showed Heather in a bikini with a thong-style bottom. They were taken by Heather, and they were in emails to “her Northrop Grumman lover,” according to the complaint.

“Heather Kiriakou’s motivations for her knowing, intentional, false, and malicious accusation was to secure a litigating advantage in a pending child custody dispute with plaintiff, to diminish her sense of guilt over her adultery, and to retaliate against plaintiff for exposing her adulterous affair in the course of whistleblowing on defendant’s business travel fraud via Northrop’s ethics hotline,” the complaint argues.

The charges were dismissed on March 16 after a judge barred him from seeing his children.

John Kiriakou is seeking damages for “severe emotional distress” including loss of contact with his children, “acute depression requiring psychiatric care,” and “alienation from friends and professional colleagues.”

Bruce Fein, an attorney representing John, told Shadowproof he took on this case because he was somewhat involved in helping John when the CIA and Justice Department “had a problem” with him.

He feels John has been “totally, completely maltreated by the justice system,” and it is time for relief. “This is one way he can have justice vindicated.”

With regard to Northrop’s alleged actions—and inaction, Fein said, “This is the no good deed goes unpunished standard in Washington, D.C.”

The ethics office was willing to take anything and “investigate” it. “And they turn around, and if you want to create a chilling effect, this is what you do. Submit it, you follow our directions, and we come back and get you,” Fein added.

As Fein acknowledged, they may learn more in discovery. But it appears once Northrop obtained documents from John they shared the information with Heather. She turned around and falsely accused John of “revenge porn,” and the military contractor never acted on any evidence of fraud.

Northrop Grumman has a history of whistleblower retaliation. In 2009, the military contractor settled a whistleblower lawsuit for $325 million. It was the largest military contractor settlement at the time.

The corporation retaliated against a scientist named Robert Ferro, when he tried to reveal how “faulty electronic components” were sold to the U.S. government for “military and intelligence-gathering satellites.”

Paul Solomon audited Northrop’s subcontract for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Air System Program. Solomon was removed from the program in 2007 after he discovered Northrop, along with Lockeed Martin, were “concealing from the government the true cost overruns” of the project.

Back in 1989, James Holzrichter worked for a division of the corporation in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. He uncovered evidence that showed the contractor was “falsely inflating its materials costs” to increase government reimbursements. When he confronted executives, Northrop fired and blacklisted him.

The post Northrop Grumman Accused Of Fueling False ‘Revenge Porn’ Allegations Against CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, John Kiriakou, Northrop Grumman, Whistleblowers]

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[l] at 6/15/20 12:12pm

Soccoro Diaz is a domestic worker and worker leader at the Women’s Action and Solidarity Alliance (ALMAS). After fires devastated Santa Rosa in northern California, Diaz says she was forced to work “cleaning homes in the evacuation zone.”

“I got very sick and got very strong physical reactions being exposed to smoke and toxic ash. It got me sick for several days,” Diaz told Shadowproof.

The experience of working in such dangerous conditions made her more passionate about the safety of domestic workers.

“There is no reason to be sent to work in unsafe conditions without proper protection, and without pay that really merits the risk you’re putting yourself through,” Diaz added.

Diaz is one of several domestic workers, who supports a bill in California called the Health and Safety for All Workers Act, which is before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The bill would amend the California Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1973 (CAL-OSHA), which currently excludes domestic workers.

On June 18, the committee will announce which bills will move on to a full Senate vote. A full vote will occur at the end of June.

This legislation was co-sponsored by Equal Rights Advocates, the California Domestic Worker Coalition, Worksafe, and the California Employment Lawyers Association.

It would provide domestic workers with the same necessary safety protections as other workers in the state, including personal protective equipment (PPE), health and safety training, and legal protection against retaliation should they need to advocate for their own health and safety in their workplace.

Senator Maria Elena Durazo, who authored the bill, said, “The fact that the Senate Labor Committee passed this bill indicates that it is the right thing to do, especially under the circumstances of COVID-19 and fire season.”

Over 300,000 Domestic Workers In California

Domestic workers have long been excluded from nationwide worker protections.

According to Rhacel Parrenas, a professor of sociology and gender studies at the University of Southern California, the exclusion of domestic workers from CAL-OSHA goes “back to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 during the New Deal. It excluded domestic workers and agricultural workers, jobs dominated by Black people.”

This exclusion was also seen in the 1935 National Labor Relations Act and continued up until the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act. Yet, throughout the 20th century, Black and non-white women comprised the majority of domestic workers within the United States.

There are 2.5 million domestic workers within the U.S., and according to the National Domestic Workers Alliance, over 90 percent of domestic workers, including caregivers, house cleaners, nannies, and home health aides, are women. The vast majority are minorities and immigrants.

According to Durazo, there are over 300,000 domestic workers in California with two million households employing domestic workers. That number is expected to grow 52 percent by 2022.

Domestic workers are overwhelmingly low-wage workers, with as many as 23.4 percent of those workers living under the poverty line. This is troubling because most domestic workers are also the primary breadwinners for their families.

With the  COVID-19 pandemic still raging throughout California, many domestic workers have been left without proper PPE, fearing for the health and safety of themselves and their loved ones. Yet, prior to COVID-19, domestic workers were without proper PPE during the Californian wildfires of 2018, leaving them vulnerable to toxic ash and smoke.

Not only would this legislation make it mandatory for workplaces to provide PPE for all domestic workers within California, but it would also inform and educate workers about the coronavirus pandemic.

‘Our Work Needs To Be Valued And Protected’

Diaz’s passion surrounding the bill was inspired by her personal life during the pandemic. Her brother was diagnosed with COVID-19 and was hospitalized in the intensive care unit (ICU) for weeks.

“I’m thinking that when he gets out of hospital he’ll need a homecare worker, and when I think of that person, it makes me think of all the homecare workers who are part of our coalition and feel at risk and not protected,” Diaz stated. “It brings it closer to home that my family may need to hire someone like that. Our work needs to be valued and protected like other workers are protected.”

“Our right to occupational health and safety has been a long time exclusion. Ten years ago, we were fighting for domestic workers’ bill of rights. When we were trying to get the bill passed, they wouldn’t let us include occupational health and safety,” Diaz added.

Cha Murdock is a part-time caregiver and full-time worker at the Pilipino Workers Center, where she organizes caregivers through teaching them about their rights, protections, and laws.

Like Diaz, Murdock says she too was inspired by this pandemic to fight for the bill.

“A week before the shutdown, in early March, there was talk of coronavirus at the facility I was in and it was still open. Tons of people come and go inside the facility I work at.”

Murdock claimed that her boss had told her that they couldn’t protect her if she wanted to continue working. She chose to stop her part time work at the facility.

“I’d rather not work and protect myself than open myself to the virus. If I’m sick, I don’t have protection or health insurance, so all the money I earn will not be enough. I don’t want to get my husband sick,” Murdock shared.

House cleaners who are consistently exposed to toxic chemicals which affect their health and skin will benefit from the legislation, she added.

We Don’t Know When The Next Fire Is Going To Be

Since the pandemic, activism for domestic workers’ rights has moved online to Zoom, a video-chatting application that has soared in popularity.

“We have had to do lobbying in a way we were not used to. It was urgent to keep moving forward because we needed the bill to pass,” Diaz said. “We started doing everything in a virtual Zoom meeting. We did two lobby days with different legislators and a hearing with the labor committee, which was many hours of us on a Zoom call waiting for the labor committee to read the bill.”

Murdock especially enjoyed the experience of virtual lobbying and organizing her members and leaders for the labor committee’s Zoom call.

The Pilipino Workers Centre initiated town hall meetings to inform and educate members, said Murdock. “Every two weeks we do a meeting. We are increasing membership and educating people more and identifying funding groups with undocumented people.”

Galeon shared, “On a personal note, the bill will help the relationships between employers and employees. There will be a breakthrough of understanding. It’s about us and the future of domestic workers of this and the next generation.”

There is a Spanish saying that Diaz would like to share with lawmakers and elected officials, “Toca al corazon.”

“It means touch your heart and think of yourself as a human being, who may get sick and need a homecare worker. They need protection and to have their work valued.”

“We don’t know when the next fire is going to be or how long COVID-19 will last,” Diaz continued. “I think about how if we were included in CAL-OSHA I wouldn’t have gotten sick after the fires. So many people I know wouldn’t have gotten sick because we would have a right to protection.”

It made Diaz “feel good” to see four out of five members of the labor committee vote to advance the bill.

“I’m going to continue [to be] in this fight until we pass this law. Thousands of us need this protection, and I hope that there is the support of legislators and the governor,” Diaz concluded.

The post California Domestic Workers Fight To End Exclusion From National Workplace Protections appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Featured Reporting, Latest News, The Dissenter, California, Coronavirus, Domestic Workers, labor, Workers Rights]

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[l] at 6/13/20 10:44am

On this edition of the “Dissenter Weekly,” host and Shadowproof editor Kevin Gosztola highlights a few police whistleblower stories.

Cariol Horne is a black Buffalo cop, who was fired in 2006 after she attempted to intervene when her white colleague, Gregory Kwiatkowski, put a black man in a chokehold. Kwiatkowski sued her for defamation. She also lost her pension.

As the world reacted to Buffalo cops pushing over 75 year-old peace activist Martin Gugino, who fell on his head and bled on the ground, Horne renewed her push for “Cariol’s Law,” a law she says would help protect officers like her who witness abuse by fellow officers.

Later in the show, Gosztola recounts what happened to Lorenzo Davis, a Chicago police investigator who found cops were responsible for “unjustified” shootings and refused to change his findings. Davis was fired and won a $2.5 million whistleblower reward only to have it slashed by a court to $100,000.

This week’s stories:

Police Brutality In Three Acts

Chicago Police Investigator Fired For Resisting Orders To Change Findings Against Officers

Whistleblower Lawsuit Alleges Albuquerque Police Department Failure On Rape Cases

Federal Bureau Of Prisons Locks Down Prisoners And Takes Away Communications Amid Protests



Send tips and feedback to editor@shadowproof.com

This show is brought to you by Shadowproof.com, a 100% reader-funded press organization. If you enjoy our work, you can support us with a donation or by subscribing for $5/month or more: https://shadowproof.com/donate

The post Dissenter Weekly: Whistleblower Cops Who Challenged The Blue Wall Of Silence appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, The Dissenter Weekly Update | Shadowproof]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/13/20 10:44am

On this edition of the “Dissenter Weekly,” host and Shadowproof editor Kevin Gosztola highlights a few police whistleblower stories.

Cariol Horne is a black Buffalo cop, who was fired in 2006 after she attempted to intervene when her white colleague, Gregory Kwiatkowski, put a black man in a chokehold. Kwiatkowski sued her for defamation. She also lost her pension.

As the world reacted to Buffalo cops pushing over 75 year-old peace activist Martin Gugino, who fell on his head and bled on the ground, Horne renewed her push for “Cariol’s Law,” a law she says would help protect officers like her who witness abuse by fellow officers.

Later in the show, Gosztola recounts what happened to Lorenzo Davis, a Chicago police investigator who found cops were responsible for “unjustified” shootings and refused to change his findings. Davis was fired and won a $2.5 million whistleblower reward only to have it slashed by a court to $100,000.

This week’s stories:

Police Brutality In Three Acts

Chicago Police Investigator Fired For Resisting Orders To Change Findings Against Officers

Whistleblower Lawsuit Alleges Albuquerque Police Department Failure On Rape Cases

Federal Bureau Of Prisons Locks Down Prisoners And Takes Away Communications Amid Protests



Send tips and feedback to editor@shadowproof.com

This show is brought to you by Shadowproof.com, a 100% reader-funded press organization. If you enjoy our work, you can support us with a donation or by subscribing for $5/month or more: https://shadowproof.com/donate

The post Dissenter Weekly: Whistleblower Cops Who Challenge The Blue Wall Of Silence appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, The Dissenter Weekly Update | Shadowproof]

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[l] at 6/10/20 5:32pm

Proposals for police reform by Democrats are distressingly similar to prior proposals that have done nothing to fundamentally change policing. In fact, the vast majority of provisions in legislation introduced in Congress were recommended by a task force convened by President Barack Obama five years ago.

George Floyd was murdered by four Minneapolis police officers on May 25. Video showed Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane as Floyd repeatedly told them, “I can’t breathe.” The killing sparked more than ten days of intense rebellion.

Protesters also reacted to the death of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by Louisville police on March 13 in a “no-knock” drug raid carried out against the wrong home. The narcotics officers that raided her home were not in uniform, and individuals inside the home thought criminals were burglarizing their residence so they fired their weapons at police.

A veto-proof majority of the Minneapolis City Council plans to “dismantle” or “abolish” the Minneapolis Police Department, which is under state investigation. Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender rejected “incremental reform” and declared, “Our commitment is to end policing as we know it and to recreate systems of public safety that actually keep us safe.”

City Council members do not know what a “whole new safety apparatus will look like.” Jeremiah Ellison, a member of the City Council, hopes to spend the next year talking with the Minneapolis community about what should replace the police department. However, Democratic Party leaders are hesitant or opposed to completely reimagining the role of police.

Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House Democrats introduced the “Justice In Policing Act” on June 8.

It proposes “additional standards” for “early warning systems” to identify police who routinely engage in “problematic” conduct. It proposes improved “use of force” procedures, “civilian review” procedures, traffic and pedestrian stop and search procedures, improvements to administrative due process requirements, further incorporation of video monitoring technology, increased training, and changes to juvenile justice and safety.

The legislation additionally includes tens of millions of dollars in funding for law enforcement grants that would go toward the “study of management and operations standards of law enforcement agencies.” Funds could be applied to “pilot programs” for “reforming” training, hiring, and recruitment.

Part of the omnibus legislation contains the “Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act,” which does not stop the use of military-grade equipment at all. Instead, it notes $500 million worth of property was transferred to law enforcement and $6.8 billion worth of weapons and equipment were transferred to police in all 50 states and four territories in fiscal year 2017.

All the section apparently aims to do is ensure police inform the Defense Department of how they plan to use military-grade equipment since they do not currently have to provide such information to the federal government.

Members of Congress also propose $5 million a year for a Justice Department task force of bureaucrats that would be called the “Task Force on Law Enforcement Oversight.” It mandates the collection of federal data on traffic violation stops, pedestrian stops, frisk and body searches, and instances where officers use “deadly force” and contains an anti-lynching law.

It calls for the establishment of a “national police misconduct registry,” as well as the adoption of a “civil remedy” for anyone injured by “racial profiling” and a ban on federal “no-knock” warrants.

The legislation would expand the budget for grants from the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office so more grants can be offered to police departments to hire additional officers, particularly officers who may be willing to live in the communities which they police.

Grants to enhance “civilian oversight” of “community policing” could be awarded by the COPS office, but if the grants were awarded to law enforcement agencies, officers would effectively determine what “civilian oversight” looked like.

‘A Wistful Desire To Return To The Halcyon Days Of ‘Officer Friendly”

Justin Hansford, the executive director of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center, wrote in Policing The Planet, “The idea of community policing emerged primarily in response to the social movements of the 1960s.’

“After generations of state repression produced racial unrest in Detroit, Watts, and other cities across the country, police recognized the need for a change in tactics,” Hansford recalled. “Building upon a wistful desire to return to the halcyon days of ‘Officer Friendly’ walking the beat, reformers promoted the idea that increased community contact would result automatically in increased community trust and goodwill.”

This is what the task force convened by Obama sought to do after uprisings in Ferguson and Baltimore in 2014 and 2015, which were sparked by police who killed Mike Brown and Freddie Gray.

“The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing” proposed a “national crime and justice task force” to review “all components of the justice system.” It recommended law enforcement policies emphasize “de-escalation” and mandate “external and independent criminal investigations.” It recommended the collection of “use of force data,” as well as “demographic data” from stops, frisks, searches, summons, and arrests. And it recommended policies prohibiting racial profiling and ticket quotas.

Some of the recommendations were emblematic of the misplaced focus on how much black citizens “trust” law enforcement. For example, it was suggested that officers should carry business cards for distribution during encounters.

The task force further suggested that the Justice Department “develop and disseminate case studies that provide examples where past and present injustice and discrimination were publicly acknowledged by law enforcement agencies in a manner to help build community trust.”

Like Naomi Murakawa, associate professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, argued in Policing the Planet, “Black people don’t trust the police and they are correct not to. If we were to actually embrace that logic, the interventions would necessarily go deeper. The solutions then would not be about encouraging the police to behave more courteously (addressing people as “sir” or “ma’am”).”

“They have to be about addressing the project of policing, which I believe is the core of real critique in this case,” Murakawa added. “What is it that the police are doing? What is the scope of their power? What is the scale on which they operate? Not just the courtesy and respect with which they are performing each arrest, but why are there so many arrests? For so many little things? That is precisely the issue that is, for the most part, not being taken on by the Obama administration.”

Democrats’ plans for reform would further entrench “community policing” in such a way that tools of racial oppression and mass incarceration would likely persist.

Law enforcement typically have a “military siege mentality of racial conquest,” which means “community policing” risks turning any interactions into threats to black lives, according to Hansford.

“Door-to-door surveys become excuses for warrantless searches into the homes of unsuspecting community members,” Hansford contended. “Child registration programs, like on that took place in Mike Brown’s apartment complex a few days after his murder, become tools for intimidation. Meetings with handpicked civic and religious leaders become, at best, opportunities to gain additional community buy-in to already entrenched conservative ideals and, at worst, sites for law enforcement propagandizing.”

“Police are rewarded for making more arrests; prosecutors are rewarded for gaining more convictions with longer sentences. Why would these actors not use the tool of community policing for their own professional self interests?”

Hansford concluded, “Penetration of community life is a more effective means of civilian control for the state. In the face of mass resistance to mass incarceration, mass reeducation of the populace may be simply a smarter repressive approach than brute force alone.”

‘No More Band-Aid Or Temporary Fixes’

The “Justice In Policing Act” raises the issue of police using military-grade equipment, but remarkably, no provision attempts to deal with the policing of mass demonstrations, which has resulted in countless examples of police brutality over the past weeks.

Adam Marshall, an attorney with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, called attention to the fact that it would add a Freedom of Information Act exemption for law enforcement officers’ names.

The American Civil Liberties Union described the part of the legislation that would direct “hundreds of millions more” in funds to law enforcement as a “nonstarter.”

“There can be no more band-aid or temporary fixes when it comes to policing, which is why we are calling for divestment from law enforcement agencies and reinvestment into the black and brown communities that have been harmed by over policing and mass incarceration. The role of police has to be smaller, more circumscribed, and less funded with taxpayer dollars,” stated Kanya Bennett, senior legislative counsel at the ACLU.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden opposed “defunding the police” during a CBS interview. Instead, Biden claimed he supported “conditioning federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness” and whether they are “able to demonstrate they can protect the community and everybody in the community.”

The Biden campaign backs $300 million for COPS grants, increased diversity in police hiring, increased funding for body cameras, and increased funds for public schools, summer programs, and mental health and substance abuse treatment.

But what the Biden campaign and other Democrats refuse to acknowledge is the reality that all of their proposals, were pursued to some extent after Philando Castile was killed by an officer in a St. Paul suburb in 2016.

“The year Philando Castile was shot and killed during his 49th routine traffic stop, this one for a broken tail light, the Minneapolis Police Department was halfway through a highly respected, three-year program designed to restore trust between the community and police,” Tessa Stuart, a staff writer for Rolling Stone, recounted. “Two years later, MPD had, by its own account, implemented a host of the trendiest police reforms: body cameras, de-escalation and crisis intervention training, mindfulness training. It even rewrote its use-of-force guidelines to emphasize ‘the sanctity of life.'”

Back in 1968, the Kerner Commission examined what led to riots in 1967 and offered its own recommendations. The recommendations in their report are nearly identical to what Democrats propose in the aftermath of the George Floyd protests.

* Review police operations in the ghetto to ensure proper conduct by police officers, and eliminate abrasive practices.

* Provide more adequate police protection to ghetto residents to eliminate their high sense of insecurity, and the belief of many Negro citizens in the existence of a dual standard of law enforcement.’

*Establish fair and effective mechanisms for the redress of grievances against the police, and other municipal employees.

*Develop and adopt policy guidelines to assist officers in making critical decisions in areas where police conduct can create tension.

*Develop and use innovative programs to ensure widespread community support for law enforcement.

*Recruit more Negroes into the regular police force, and review promotion policies to ensure fair promotion for Negro officers.

*Establish a “Community Service Officer” program to attract ghetto youths between the ages of 17 and 21 to police work. These junior officers would perform duties in ghetto neighborhoods, but would not have full police authority. The federal government should provide support equal to 90 percent of the costs of employing CSOs on the basis of one for every ten regular officers.

The use of words like “Negro” and “ghetto” may date it, but Democrats could have taken this list and called it the “Justice In Policing Act,” and it would not be that much different.

Alex Vitale, author of The End of Policing, concisely argued, “As long as the basic mission of police remains unchanged, none of these reforms will be achievable.” That is, the United States will always have racist and brutal police officers.

“There is no technocratic fix. Even if we could somehow implement these changes, they would be ignored, resisted, and overturned—because the institutional imperatives of the politically motivated wars on drugs, disorder, crime, etc., would win out. Powerful political forces benefit from abusive, aggressive, and invasive policing, and they are not going to be won over or driven from power by technical arguments or heartfelt appeals to do the right thing.”

Vitale further contended, “They may adopt a language of reform and fund a few pilot programs, but mostly they will continue to reproduce their political power by fanning fear of the poor, nonwhite, disabled, and dispossessed and empowering police to be the ‘thin blue line’ between the haves and the have nots.”

The majority of Democrats are unwilling to interrogate or meaningfully challenge the system of “broken windows” policing that underpins so much of what leads to violence, like the murder of George Floyd.

“The problem is not police training, police diversity, or police methods. The problem is the dramatic and unprecedented expansion and intensity of policing in the last forty years, a fundamental shift in the role of police in society. The problem is policing itself,” Vitale concluded.

And, unlike most establishment Democrats, activists pressing for the “defunding” of police grasp the fact that policing is the problem.

The post Democrats Push Reforms That Will Not Fundamentally Change Policing appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, Abolition, democrats, George Floyd, Police Reform, Policing]

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[l] at 6/10/20 10:01am

Members of Congress obtained disaster loans for their businesses through the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

The program has been embroiled in controversy since it launched in March. Large corporations received multimillion-dollar loans. Minority-owned businesses were shut out of aid.

According to news reports, Texas Representative Roger Williams and Missouri Representative Vicky Hartzler both received PPP loans for companies they own, indicating a clear conflict of interest regarding the program’s distribution of federal aid.

Roger Williams Chrysler Dodge Jeep told the Dallas Morning News the dealership received a PPP loan.

“We applied through our local bank and have been able to keep over 100 employees on payroll and prevent their families from experiencing further hardships during this unprecedented pandemic,” the company said in a statement. The dealership did not specify the loan’s amount and Williams did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this story.

“This is a man who used his position of power and influence to get into that two-week window,” said Julie Oliver, his general election opponent. She told Shadowproof his wife and children are employed by the dealership. “Were they the beneficiaries of PPP to the detriment of small businesses in our district?”

Williams’ most recent financial disclosure report indicates his wife makes nearly $80,000 annually from the dealership.

In Missouri, Hartzler’s husband, Lowell Hartzler, applied for PPP loans for the family’s businesses.

“As small business owners, my husband Lowell and I…took action to ensure the continued ability to maintain the employment of all team members during this time,” Hartzler said in a press release on her website. “Like millions of small businesses across the country and nearly 47,000 small businesses in Missouri, our family businesses applied for and received PPP loans to ensure our employees could remain employed and the business could pay expenses.”

Hartzler did not clarify which businesses were granted the loans and for how much.

Her most recently filed financial disclosure report from 2018 indicates that Hartzler’s family owns farms and a tractor company.

Hartzler defended her decision to not support a ninth congressional oversight committee for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. She said she already supported three other such committees.

The congresswoman did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

‘We Haven’t Even Gotten A Response To Our Application’

Under the CARES Act, the PPP is designed to help small businesses (those with 500 or fewer employees) and businesses in some industries with more than 500 employees maintain their payrolls and pay other expenses like rent, mortgages, utilities, and interests. These loans do not need to be repaid if the company keeps their staff on payroll for eight weeks.

Members of Congress receiving PPP loans for their businesses raises questions about favoritism in the process. Transparency about which companies are receiving these loans is crucial.https://t.co/BAvlOD8Bpw

— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) May 4, 2020

Williams has an average net worth of roughly $67 million and is one of the richest members of Congress, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Hartzler’s net worth is more than $9 million, and she is one of the top 100 richest Congress members.

While Williams and Hartzler secured disaster loans, many small businesses are still struggling to obtain relief.

“We haven’t even gotten a response to our application for our very small business. Crickets,” Deborah Smith Photography said in a tweet.

More than 30 percent of small businesses have yet to receive to PPP assistance, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau survey of 90,000 small businesses.

Small business owners have reported website glitches, application submissions falling on deaf ears, and too many rigid rules that won’t help keep their companies afloat.

Corporate behemoths, however, have been able to access PPP funds. That includes corporations, who have representatives’ spouses on their payroll.

Fiesta Group Inc., a publicly traded company, received two federal loans totaling $15 million in April. Robert Powell, who is Florida Representative Debbie Mucarsel-Powell’s husband, is the vice president for legal at Fiesta Group.

According to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings, Fiesta Group returned the monies after fervent public backlash.

Seventy-four members of Congress (including Williams and Hartzler) own businesses or have relatives or spouses who own businesses. These businesses—large and small—range from farms, ranches, real estate and marketing agencies, automotive dealerships, construction companies, law, consulting, and investment firms, manufacturers, and even salons, distilleries, plumbers, pharmacies, and dentistry practices.

The list of members includes representatives and senators with an estimated net worth topping $20 million and reaching into the hundreds of millions of dollars, like Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Representative Rick Allen (R-Georgia), Representative Markwayne Mullin (R-Oklahoma), and Representative Vernon Buchanan (R-Florida).

Of this number, only 14 of them responded to repeated inquiries stating that they did not apply for federal loans, including those with considerable wealth: Representative Don Beyer (D-Virginia), Representative Buddy Carter (R-Georgia), Representative Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Senator Mike Braun (R-Indiana), Representative John Rose (R-Tenn.), and Representative. Jim Costa (D-Calif.).

The CARES Act does contain a conflict of interest provision prohibiting members of Congress or their immediate families from receiving aid. However, as detailed in a House Ethics Committee memorandum released in April, this clause is only restricted to emergency relief funds.

“The prohibition in § 4019 of the CARES Act is limited to the emergency relief funds described in § 4003. Thus, members or businesses in which members or certain individuals in their immediate family have an ownership interest may be able to apply for assistance under other parts of the CARES Act, such as the Paycheck Protection Program,” the memo reads.

This subtle loophole has permitted lawmakers like Williams and Hartzler to circumvent potential conflicts of interest and access government relief.

Both the Ethics Committee and the SBA declined to comment.

Bill Proposed To Make Loans To Elected Officials Public

In response to politicians and corporations benefiting from the program, Representative Katie Porter (D-Calif.) introduced legislation this month to make PPP data public.

“Full transparency of PPP data is the only way to quickly and fairly show who is using this program to line their pockets,” Porters declared.

Just a couple days before her announcement, Porter criticized Williams for taking out a loan and called for greater transparency of the relief program.

“His estimated net worth is in the tens of millions, but he still took out a PPP loan for his car dealership instead of chipping in to keep workers on the payroll,” Porter wrote in an editorial for NBC News. “Williams could afford to pay his workers for months and still be in the richest 1 percent of Americans, but instead he’s passing those costs onto taxpayers.”

Oliver commended Porter on her proposed bill. “If we don’t have that measure of accountability and transparency, then the questions can be asked,” Oliver added.

As the famous saying by historian John Dalberg-Acton goes, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And so, without a clear check on power, political corruption runs wild.

The post Congress Members Obtain COVID-19 Loans Through Small Business Program appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Featured Reporting, Latest News, The Bullpen, CARES Act, Congress, Coronavirus, Roger Williams, Vicky Hartzler]

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[l] at 6/9/20 3:27pm

Donna Murch and Kay Whitlock join Beyond Prisons to think through the question “how do we get through this?”

Donna posed this question on social media in April as the COVID-19 pandemic peaked and motivated this conversation. We begin by thinking through who the “we” is in that question, and then we attempt to define what we mean by “getting through this.”

Donna points out that racial capitalism and the unraveling of already weak systems is making it clear who the “we” is. Kim shares how this moment has for me triggered an eerie feeling of calmness that is a trauma response to other experiences in my life. And Kay shares how this moment has allowed her to stop pretending and to think about how we can use our collective energy in this moment.

We talk about the importance of imagination at this moment and the need to share the testimony of people directly impacted by this crisis.

Finally, we discuss the rise of authoritarianism and how media reports of COVID-19 are filtered through racial-ethnonational lens. We end our conversation with some thoughts on mutual aid and how this crisis has the potential for teaching us greater responsibility for each other.

(Note: this conversation was recorded in April).

Kay Whitlock, a longtime activist and organizer in progressive social justice movements, lives in Missoula, Montana. She writes frequently on issues of structural violence in U.S. society. She is co-author of Queer (in)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States and Considering Hate: Violence, Goodness & Justice in American Culture and PoliticsShe is currently working with sociologist Nancy Heitzeg on a forthcoming book: Prison Break: The Deceptive Terrain of Criminal Justice Reform. 

Professor Donna Murch’s teaching and research specializations are historical studies of mass incarceration/war on drugs, Black Power and Civil Rights, California, social movements, and postwar U.S. cities. She is currently completing a new trade press book entitled Crack in Los Angeles: Policing the Crisis and the War on Drugs, which explores the militarization of law enforcement, the social history of drug consumption and sale, and the political economy of mass incarceration in late twentieth-century California. In October 2010, Murch published the award-winning monograph Living for the City: Migration, Education and the Rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California with the University of North Carolina Press, which won the Phillis Wheatley prize in December 2011. She has published articles in the Journal of American History, Journal of Urban History, OAH Magazine of History, Black Scholar, Souls, Perspectives, New Politics, and Jacobin.


Created and hosted by Kim Wilson and Brian Sonenstein

Edited by Ellis Maxwell

Website & volunteers managed by Victoria Nam

Theme music by Jared Ware

Support Beyond Prisons

Support our show and join us on Patreon. Check out our other donation options as well.

Please listen, subscribe, and rate/review our podcast on iTunesSpotify, and on Google Play

Visit our website at beyond-prisons.com

Contact us at beyondprisonspodcast@gmail.com

Kim Wilson is available for speaking engagements and to facilitate workshops. Contact us at beyondprisonspodcast@gmail.com for more information


The post Beyond Prisons: How Do We Get Through This? feat. Kay Whitlock & Donna Murch appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Beyond Prisons, Latest News, Prison Protest, Shadowproof Podcast Series, COVID-19, Shadowproof Podcasts]

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[l] at 6/4/20 4:31pm

Days after Minneapolis police murdered George Floyd and sparked a rebellion, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz claimed state officials “assessed that up to 80 percent of those protesting or rioting came from outside Minnesota.” He suggested “far-right white supremacists” and “organized drug cartels” were responsible.

“We are now confronting white supremacists, members of organized crime, out-of-state instigators, and possibly even foreign actors to destroy and destabilize our city and our region,” Walz declared on May 29.

With a curfew in place, Walz deployed the state’s National Guard and insisted that “United States intelligence agencies were providing the state with information about who was behind the protests.”

Yet, according to the Washington Post, an unnamed “federal law enforcement official was not aware of any intelligence about cartels infiltrating the protests.”

Anonymous U.S. officials also indicated they were “skeptical that foreigners were taking part in protests or had helped organize them.”

Minnesota Public Radio analyzed county jail records and found 83 percent of people, who were arrested in connection with the protests from May 28-29, were from Minnesota. “Fifty-six percent were from Minneapolis or St. Paul.”

President Donald Trump seized upon this falsehood to reinforce his administration’s belief that “anarchists” and anti-fascist groups (“antifa”) were responsible for violence. It eventually led the Justice Department to impulsively label “antifa” a “domestic terrorist organization,” even though there is no such organization because “antifa” is a movement.

As the Post acknowledged. “Leaders at the federal, state, and local levels said large numbers of outsiders had seized upon protests begun by Minnesotans to advance their own political agendas.” But the officials offered no evidence for this assertion, and they contradicted each other.

This is but one example of how efforts by officials to blame “outside agitators” for looting, vandalism, and arson flopped. It contrasts sharply with events that unfolded in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, and Baltimore, Maryland, in 2015.

During the Baltimore uprising that occurred after police killed Freddie Gray, CNN aired a segment, where anchor Don Lemon and correspondent Sara Sidner attributed the “unrest” to “professional protesters,” who were not from the city.

When a grand jury refused to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the murder of Mike Brown, Missouri authorities drafted contingency plans and sought intelligence from U.S. police departments on “out-of-state agitators, fearing that fresh riots [would] erupt.”

Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, who burnished his reputation as the city cracked down on protesters, declared, “Many a criminal element that have been coming to Ferguson are not from the area. Tonight, some of those arrested came from as far away as New York and California.”

While ABC News examined jail records and challenged Johnson’s claim, the sense that officials were spreading claims about protesters that were probably false was not as pervasive in media coverage.

In Washington, D.C., WUSA9, a local CBS News affiliate, investigated claims by President Donald Trump, Attorney General Bill Barr, and others that “rioting and looting” that erupted was the work of “outside agitators.”

“Of the 104 arrests reviewed by WUSA9, 79 subjects listed their residence as within 20 miles of D.C. Of those, 50 live in D.C. itself,” WUSA9 reported. “Only one person arrested over the weekend, a 29-year-old man from North Carolina, listed an address outside of either D.C., Maryland, or Virginia.”

Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat scrutinized the claims of Seattle officials, like the city’s police chief, who declared, “What we can’t have is people coming into this city and literally tearing it up.”

“Police listed general addresses for 62 of the people picked up Saturday and Sunday for looting, assault and other crimes,” Westneat wrote. Only two of the arrestees were from out-of-state.

“All the rest are from Washington state. Twenty-three have Seattle addresses, while the others are from close-in Puget Sound cities such as Kent, Federal Way, Bremerton or Sea-Tac. Three are from Eastern Washington cities,” Westneat additionally noted.

The Baltimore Sun editorial board published clearly articulated why saying the chaos was the product of “outside agitators” is so pernicious.

“The claim in 2020 that this is all the fault of outside agitators is made for the same reason it was in 1964: to deflect blame — blame for the violence and blame for the underlying circumstances causing it all,” the editorial board argued.

“It’s much easier for a politician to point a finger at people from afar than admit that the unrest is rooted in deep racial division and long-standing inequities, in systemic and individual racism; in police brutality; in lack of quality education, health care, housing and job opportunities; and in the simmering anger that comes from knowing that nothing of consequence is being done about these social ills.”

“Blaming outsiders avoids having to admit some responsibility for these maladies,” the Baltimore Sun added.

It is possible journalists did not try to prove the “outside agitator” narrative this round because they sympathized with the rage that was sparked. Like everyone, they watched a video, where over a span of eight minutes Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane participated in the murder of George Floyd who said, “I can’t breathe.”

Three men, one an Army reservist and the other two former members of the Navy and Air Force, allegedly plotted to commit violence at protests in Las Vegas. They were charged on June 3 with “conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism, material support for committing an act of terrorism, and multiple explosives violations.”

The FBI says they identify with the Boogaloo movement, which has members from the left and right but what supposedly unites the movement is a desire for a violent uprising against the U.S. government.

In the past, CNN and establishment media outlets would hold this case up as proof that the government claims around “outside agitators” hijacking protests were correct. Yet, a day after the indictment, CNN.com published an article cautioning readers.

“The narrative of the ‘outside agitator’ has long been used to undermine protest movements in the United States. Even Civil Rights Movement leader Martin Luther King Jr.—often invoked in conversations today about how people should demonstrate—was referred to by Southern white people as an outside agitator,” CNN’s Harmeet Kaur declared.

It might as well have been published by Jacobin because it summarizes how the “outside agitator” label has been used to discredit movements, distract from underlying causes of protests, ignore how movements are connected across states, justify violence against protesters, and prevents movements from growing.

Riots Are Homegrown

As time passes and the public processes what unfolded over these ten days, from the time George Floyd was murdered to when all four officers were charged, it is worth recalling the work of John P. Spiegel, who was a psychiatrist who studied urban riots extensively in the 1960s.

Spiegel contended “only rioting and violence seem to spur the white community to act on the problems of the ghetto.”

“The contemporary ghetto riots,” as he termed the rebellions of the 1960s, grew “out of the failure of the civil rights movement in its attempt to achieve normative readjustment for black people through nonviolent protest.”

The Anti-Riot Act was passed as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and during a hearing on the legislation, Spiegel outlined why it was inappropriate to suggest “outside agitators” were responsible for riots.

He assessed that the role of alleged “outside agitators” was typically so infinitesimal that they would not alter events.

“If it had not been the outside agitator, it would have been an inside agitator,” Spiegel said. “So the situation would have developed in that direction probably anyway.”

Reflecting on his work studying riots, Spiegel testified, “Riots are homegrown so to speak. They occur because of problems within the city, and there are usually enough people within the city who are agitated by the integrating event, sufficiently agitated by it, to increase the tension and sort of direct the energy of the people toward the ‘Roman Holiday’ stage. So that it certainly doesn’t require an outside agitator to produce the riot.”

To Spiegel, there were four stages in a riot—the spark, the confrontation, the “Roman Holiday” event, which is when youth typically feel emboldened to throw rocks and bottles and taunt police, and war, when adults join the youth in their acts against police.

Correspondents covering protests frequently sought to distinguish those looting, vandalizing property, and setting fire to buildings as individuals who are not part of peaceful protests and therefore they have no message. However, those acts did not occur in a vacuum. The message was the acts themselves, which so offend authorities and show that a population refuses to no longer obey “law and order” because it fuels their oppression.

[Note: In 2019, the Anti-Riot Act was declared “unconstitutionally broad” by a federal judge.]

‘Right Out Of The Russian Playbook’

Remarkably, the most incredible example of how the “outside agitator” narrative flopped may have come from Susan Rice, who was President Barack Obama’s national security adviser.

On May 31, Rice appeared on CNN’s “The Situation Room” and blamed Russia for the rioting in Minneapolis:

RICE: We have a problem here, Wolf. We have peaceful protesters focused on the very real pain and disparities that we are all wrestling with that have to be addressed and then we have extremists who have come to try to hijack those protests and turn them into something very different.

And they probably also, I would bet based on my experience, I’m not reading the Intelligence today, or these days, but based on my experience, this is right out of the Russian playbook as well, but we can’t allow the extremists, the foreign actors to distract from the real problems we have in this country that are long-standing, centuries-old and need to be addressed responsibly by new leadership.

BLITZER: You’re absolutely right on the foreign interference, because we know for decades, the Russians, when it was the Soviet Union, the communist, they’ve oftentimes tried to embarrass the United States by promoting the racial divide in our country, but what you are suggesting, Ambassador is that they’re still trying to do that? Is that what you’re saying?

RICE: Well, we see it all the time. We’ve seen it for years, and, frankly, every day on social media, where they take any divisive painful issue whether it is immigration, whether it is gay rights, whether it is gun violence, and always racism, and they play on both sides.

Their aim is not simply to embarrass the United States, Wolf. They’re aim is to divide us, to cause us to come into combat with each other. To disintegrate from within, and I would not be surprised to learn that they have fomented some of these extremists on both sides using social media.

Rice continued:

I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they are funding it in some way, shape or form, and that is something that we need to take seriously, but we cannot allow it to distract us from the real problem that is an American problem, that we alone can address and we need leadership desperately, Wolf, that doesn’t demonize peaceful protesters from — frankly from Colin Kaepernick to those who have tried peacefully protest in recent days.

Neither Rice nor Blitzer had any evidence to support their belief that Russia could be stirring up chaos in Minneapolis and other parts of the United States, and what this statement showed is how deeply Democrats are indoctrinated into this New Cold War belief that Russia is behind all dissent and turmoil.

In many ways, Russiagate is the ultimate “outside agitator” narrative, and it has dominated the political discourse throughout Trump’s administration. This is dangerous when the White House is occupied by a counter-subversive president, who is hostile to social justice movements and will deploy the military to crush rebellion.

Rice even suggested it may be “fine” to designate antifa as a “terrorist organization,” and with widespread reports that arrested protesters are being questioned by the FBI about their associations with antifa or their views about the movement, this represents the bipartisan consensus that will allow Trump’s Justice Department to target some activists.

Fortunately, the claims of Russia being behind “outside agitators” never gained any traction.

The post Attempts By Officials To Blame ‘Outside Agitators’ For George Floyd Protests Failed appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, Black Lives Matter, Outside Agitators, Policing, Protest]

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[l] at 6/4/20 9:33am
“I am scared to go outside. I called the clinic and it’s just too expensive. I’m with family in my house and trying to keep this a secret. I just saw the news about Ohio and that scared me that I can’t get an abortion in time. Now, they did it in Texas. I don’t know what to do.” — Statement from a woman seeking an abortion during COVID-19. Published with permission from Shout Your Abortion.

The fury of the anti-choice movement is always in Kwajelyn Jackson’s face.

Protesters stand outside of the Feminist Women’s Health Center in Atlanta, Georgia, where she works. They harass her doctors. They destroy clinic property. They break COVID-19 social distancing rules. They hound her patients, who are mostly poor and black or Hispanic.

Patients are sometimes at the clinic to get abortions. Other times, they are there for a pap smear or a prescription.

“Our patients and our staff just have to endure when people are yelling at them and being intentionally cruel,” said Jackson. “There’s not much we’re able to do besides encourage our staff to not engage.”

But as executive director of the clinic, it’s not enough for Jackson to provide care and ignore the negativity outside.

Throughout Jackson’s career, she has fought for abortion access at every political level. She canvasses for voting rights, which were recently compromised in Georgia. She reads the news to track anti-choice victories against reproductive health care, but she says the media only covers the loudest voices. Inside the reproductive rights movement, there are people who are just like her.

“There are certainly some very stalwart opponents to abortion access and reproductive justice, but there are also some very well-informed, very vocal champions,” added Jackson. “I am acutely interested in people who take public office because they want to make an impact on the lives of people and they hold that responsibility as paramount. That’s what I’ve got. I’m not interested in politicians who use placating language and act like celebrities.”

With COVID-19 bringing the abortion access debate to a fever pitch, pro-choice advocates like Jackson are challenging all progressives to do better than placate politicians.

There is a moral imperative to act. Access to reproductive health care is a matter of life and death, and the pandemic has reminded many activists of the urgency of now.

With COVID-19 bringing the abortion access debate to a fever pitch, pro-choice believers are being forced to ask themselves: am I an outspoken, well-informed champion of abortion and reproductive rights, or am I no better than a placating celebrity politician?

Furthermore, do we all have to be as passionate and engaged as Kwajelyn Jackson in order to preserve abortion rights in this country? The answer, spoiler alert, is yes. Progressive action is officially a matter of life or death.

The Danger Of COVID-19 Abortion Clinic Closures Is Real

Mainstream attention toward abortion rights has grown somewhat louder recently, thanks to the extreme strides achieved by anti-choice politicians.

Since 2016, President Donald Trump has accelerated the Christian fundamentalist agenda with lightning speed. From his 150 pro-life federal judge appointments to the case currently before the (anti-choice) Supreme Court that could effectively end abortion access, many reproductive rights advocates are reckoning with facts that Jackson already knew: Roe v. Wade is fragile, and the state-by-state patchwork policy for reproductive health care is a disastrous model.

With COVID-19, Republicans in states like Ohio, Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Alabama and more used the pandemic as a reason to chip away at abortion rights. Those states’ governors tried to categorize abortion as an elective procedure that would waste personal protective equipment.

So far, their efforts were squashed on a federal level, but they loom heavily over abortion providers and patients.

In April, a temporary ban in Tennessee was implemented by Governor Bill Lee then blocked by the federal courts. But the decision came after dozens of women were turned away for a procedure that depends heavily on timing.

According to a study from the Guttmacher Institute, the ban increased Tennessean women’s driving distance from 26 miles to 119 miles to get to the nearest clinic—if that clinic was even open.

“Forcing people to overcome these challenges in the middle of a global pandemic places unconscionable burdens on them, and the consequences fall hardest on people who are already struggling to make ends meet and those who are marginalized from the health care system,” declared Guttmacher Institute principal research scientist Rachel Jones.

Some clinics that are not affiliated with Planned Parenthood or hospitals paused service deliberately because they were unequipped to serve patients during COVID-19.

Many of these clinics depend on patient care to stay financially afloat while others could not afford the massive sanitization and personnel efforts required to work through the pandemic.

The Abortion Care Network (ACN), an organization of 125 independent clinics across the country, said 92 percent of their member clinics are in financial straits. Three out of five abortions are currently performed at independent clinics, and the majority of them are in danger of shuttering.

“On-the-ground access to abortion care is changing every minute,” according to Nikki Madsen, executive director of ACN. “If we lose those clinics, there would be 10 states that would have no care after 11 weeks of pregnancy, and four states that would have no care at all.”

A total lack of abortion care would disproportionately impact the nation’s poorest women, as well as women of color who already face a myriad of inequalities when it comes to reproductive health.

For example, black women are three to four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related causes due to discrimination and a lack of health care access.

“Without these clinics, it is a very dire situation,” Madsen warned. “We’re talking about completely losing bodily autonomy. Maternal mortality among black women will skyrocket without independent clinics. If you’re forced to have a child, the child’s health outcome is usually poor.”

“Many of these clinics care for women through a pregnancy, as well as for women who want to end them.”

From Political Indifference To Bold Action Kwajelyn Jackson. Credit: Natasha G. Del Toro

Kwajelyn Jackson. Credit: Natasha G. Del Toro

For decades, privileged progressives and pro-choice politicians were largely quiet on the issue of abortion, often lumping it in with other topics or taking existing rights for granted.

“The supporters of abortion rights kind of rested on our laurels after we got the Roe v. Wade decision,” said Kelly Baden, vice president of reproductive rights at State Innovation Exchange, a nonprofit that identifies and cultivates progressive state politicians and candidates. “It took a long time for us to catch up.”

According to the Pew Center, 61 percent of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in most or all cases. One in four women have an abortion before they turn 45, according to Guttmacher.

Reproductive rights advocates say recent developments have forced this silent majority to finally take action.

“As things have gotten more extreme, people have wanted to help however they can,

and they’re not sure where to start,” said Kat Green, managing director of nonprofit advocacy group Abortion Access Front. “We’ve definitely seen an uptick in people wanting to get involved.”

There’s a lot of work to do. The right-wing minority has made forceful gains in its decades-long cuture war on abortion rights.

No longer can pro-choicers get away with saying that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare,” as Bill Clinton urged in 1992. Reproductive rights also cannot remain the sole responsibility of women’s nonprofits and grassroots organizations.

Democratic presidential candidate Joseph Biden voted in 1981 in favor of a constitutional amendment that would have given states veto power over Roe v. Wade. That measure failed. In 2007, Biden wrote that his views on abortion were “middle of the road.” He has waffled back and forth on the Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of federal funds for abortion services except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of a woman.

Then, in a 2019 New York Times abortion rights survey, Biden said that he would instead aim to codify Roe v. Wade and fight for abortion access.

Biden’s politics are the result of too much passivity and complacence on the part of pro-choice organizations that align themselves with the Democratic Party.

“It is too little too late,” Green said. “We’re getting lip service because there are crises happening right now. They’re paying attention to abortion because they can’t not.”

These days, anti-choice Democrats are finding it harder to exist in the Democratic Party. Former congressman Dan Lipinski, an outspoken anti-choice Democrat from Illinois, lost his incumbency this year to progressive challenger Marie Newman. Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Kirstin Gillibrand did not shy away from abortion during their presidential campaigns. High-profile congress members, such as Rep. Ilhan Omar from Minnesota, are using their platforms to speak explicitly about the issue.

We are seeing a nationwide assault on reproductive healthcare and abortion rights during this pandemic,Omar told Shadowproof. “I will continue to fight against efforts by Republicans to reduce access to reproductive healthcare because your zip code shouldn’t determine whether or not you have access to the health services you need. We do not need to wait for a poll to speak out on behalf of women’s rights. We do it because it is right.”

Omar is not alone. Congressional representatives are still overwhelmingly male and white, but each year, the makeup of newly elected officials becomes more racially diverse and women-friendly.

In response to Trump-era extremism, a small swathe of of outspoken pro-choice female candidates of color ran for state legislatures and won, even in red states.

“There’s evidence that people who resist Trump are becoming a part of actual governing,” stated Baden. “I have found that, certainly anecdotally, they’re a different kind of legislator. They’re born of social justice movements.”

Democratic Georgia State Representative Rennita Shannon was elected to office in 2017. She speaks openly about the fact that she herself had an abortion in college and has no regrets.

When Georgia’s strict six-week ban went up for a vote in 2019, Shannon spoke non-stop at the podium in hopes that the state would table the bill. Filibusters, however, are not legal in Georgia. In the well-documented incident, Shannon’s microphone was switched off and she was urged to step down by security and fellow Democrats.

“It was not difficult for me because I know that abortion care is health care,” said Shannon. “But people say ‘it’s better to be spoken about in the closet.’ What you’re doing is saying that your constituency ought to feel shame.”

Anna Eskamani, who is 29 years-old, is the first Iranian-American to be elected to office in Florida, where a strict parental consent law passed this year. As a state representative, she has been a leading force in attempting to repeal the law.

“We’re going to show up for this issue whether it’s convenient or not,” Eskamani declared “There’s this issue of Democrats only caring when they have to.” But she added, “My hope is that our courage to talk about these issues inspires those of a more senior generation to understand that our values are the same, and it’s okay to be out loud about it.”

Representative London Lamar, who is also 29 years-old, is the only Black woman under 60 in the Tennessee legislature. Lamar has fought against her state’s strict heartbeat bill, which would ban abortions as early as six weeks and force mothers to view an ultrasound if they are seeking the procedure.

The bill was shut down by the Tennessee Senate last year, but Governor Lee announced a new version in January that he hopes will pass the Senate and higher courts.

Lamar fought against the short-lived COVID-19 abortion ban too.

“A large amount of people in Tennessee believe that abortion should be legal, but unfortunately a lot of those people are not taking part in the political process,” Lamar contended. “So you have a bunch of men sitting here trying to tell me what abortion is.”

“Young people are more supportive of reproductive rights in general, but they don’t vote. We have to make sure that young people are not just tweeting, but that they understand advocacy and are committed to action.”

Roe v. Wade is not enough

What is clear to on-the-ground activists is that major change needs to happen surrounding reproductive rights. Kwajelyn Jackson believes COVID-19 may be a potential springboard for this change.

“All of the seams are showing. All of the flaws are clear,” argued Jackson. “COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated all the gaps and inefficiencies and neglect that exists in the systems that have been set up to protect the people of the United States.”

Jackson continued, “We need big pendulum swings. We need things to look significantly different. Incremental change is not sufficient any longer.”

Right now, Roe v. Wade remains the only barrier between Republican efforts and total abortion bans in their states, which is why right-wing politicians are eager to topple it.

But Roe v. Wade, which is now a 47-year-old decision, has proven to be light on details and vulnerable to attack.

In 1992, for example, Planned Parenthood v. Casey weakened Roe by allowing states to pass abortion laws as long as they don’t pose “undue burden” on patients. Since then, Republicans have seized on the vague standard by proposing and sometimes passing a mishmash of restrictions.

“Credit goes to the women of color activists who have done the work to say Roe v. Wade isn’t enough,” said Baden. “The movement is getting more intersectional and more sophisticated in its understanding of what the actual issues are.”

When they’re not on the defensive from Republican onslaughts, advocates dream of full protections—not just a federal abortion legality protection.

True protections begin with things like strong sex education laws in schools, no-cost prescription availability, accessible gynecological and family planning care, universal Medicaid and Medicare coverage for reproductive health, transportation, access to medication abortions and access to clinics without fear of protesters or violence.

“I would be in favor of some strong federal and state protections for abortion rights,” concluded Baden. “This includes a broader set of policies that would actually help people who need or could need abortions that truly is comprehsensive. Everything from paid family medical leave to higher minimum wage. Abortion is just one key part of these human and reproductive rights.”

The post Many Abortion Clinics May Not Survive COVID-19 Unless Progressives Take Bolder Action appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Featured Reporting, Latest News, The Dissenter, Abortion, Coronavirus, democrats, Reproductive Rights]

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[l] at 6/3/20 5:13pm

Kim and Brian sit down for an extended conversation on the current Black Lives Matter protests, policing and police reform, media literacy, and more.


Created and hosted by Kim Wilson and Brian Sonenstein

Edited by Ellis Maxwell

Website & volunteers managed by Victoria Nam

Theme music by Jared Ware

Support Beyond Prisons

Support our show and join us on Patreon. Check out our other donation options as well.

Please listen, subscribe, and rate/review our podcast on iTunesSpotify, and on Google Play

Visit our website at beyond-prisons.com

Join our mailing list for updates on new episodes, events, and more

Send tips, comments, and questions to beyondprisonspodcast@gmail.com

Kim Wilson is available for speaking engagements and to facilitate workshops. Please contact beyondprisonspodcast@gmail.com for more information

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The post Beyond Prisons: Reflecting On The Protests appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Beyond Prisons, Latest News, Prison Protest, Shadowproof Podcast Series, Abolition, Black Lives Matter, Media Literacy, Police Reform, Policing, white supremacy]

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[l] at 6/3/20 9:25am

The post was originally published at Ongoing History Of Protest Songs.

On May 25, George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis by a white police officer who placed his knee on Floyd’s neck. He uttered the words, “I can’t breathe.” Three other police officers served as accomplices to the murder.

In the aftermath, there were countless protests throughout America and other countries. The ongoing protests and the differing responses to them call further attention to the racial divide that exists.

The anger and sadness felt during such traumatic events can be hard to express. If you happen to be a musician it is only natural to want to express your feelings in song, which is exactly what Chloë Nixon did.

The 16-year-old singer-songwriter wrote “I Can’t Breathe,” a poignant tune that articulates her feelings on the tragedy.

“I couldn’t help but use the most powerful language in the world to speak on the tragic injustices towards black people that have been occurring,” Nixon wrote. “I dedicate this song to George Floyd and family, all other victims and their families, humanity, everyone in pain, and everyone lost during these difficult times.”

“Know that it is crucial to fight for justice and make sure it is known that we see the toxic conditions of our system and that we will not tolerate it! Also know that humanity must keep our vibrations of love and strength!”

Nixon also declared, “We must invest more in the victimized communities and stop investing in the privileged ones. When we unite, we shall overcome. We shall not let any entity take our attention away from the justice that we are fighting for.”

In the history of protest movements, it is often the young ones who speak the loudest. The previous generations have failed them, and they won’t take it anymore.

For those of us who are older, it is important that we listen and support youth, who desire a better world than the one we are currently leaving to them. Those of us who are white need to listen to black people and amplify black voices. Only then will lasting change be possible.

The post Protest Song Of The Week: ‘I Can’t Breathe’ By Chloë Nixon appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, The Protest Music Project, George Floyd, Police Brutality, Protest Song of the Week, Racism]

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