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EXCLUSIVE: Experts Say, ‘Throw out Cosby Conviction’

“It is also a fact that Black men are more likely to be prosecuted and then given severe sentences than white men, even though rates of criminal activity are similar. This system bias is most evident in murder cases when offenders are black and victims are white but has been shown in other forms of violence. This is unjust, and it may be that victim impact statements are part of this problem…”

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By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Contributor
@StacyBrownMedia

Doctored or lost tapes and an apparent and open conspiracy has led multiple legal experts to conclude that Bill Cosby’s upcoming sentencing on assault charges should be postponed – if not thrown out entirely.

“America should be outraged,” said Dallas, Texas attorney Paul Saputo.

“This kind of information is called ‘Brady evidence,’ which means evidence that tends to show that a person is innocent.”

Like numerous others who reacted to an NNPA Newswire exclusive on Monday that revealed a tape played in court during Cosby’s trial in April may have been doctored, tampered with, or have parts that were not entered into evidence, Saputo said he was disgusted by prosecutors in the case.

“Nationwide, prosecutors have an independent legal duty to disclose this kind of evidence. But too often, this goes ignored,” he said.

“And the consequences are generally little more than a slap on the wrist. If state prosecutors knew about this doctoring, they ought to themselves be convicted of felonies and sentenced to prison. Of course, this probably won’t happen. Sadly, the officials charged with protecting the public are often the biggest violators and virtually immune,” he said.

Professor Michael Vitiello of the Pacific University McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, Calif., said the allegation of a doctored tape might end up getting Cosby a new trial.

“There are a number of ways that the issue might have arisen. One, if defense counsel really had reason to know that the tape was doctored and failed to act, plausibly it could lead to a claim of ineffective counsel,” Vitiello said.

“Two, if the defense team can show prosecutorial misconduct, for example, in withholding exculpatory evidence, that too might lead to an order of a new trial,” he said.

A third possibility is that the defense could claim newly discovered evidence, but that’s more improbable, Vitiello said, while wondering if Cosby alerted his attorneys at the time the tape was played that something was amiss.

Cosby’s spokesman Andrew Wyatt declined comment.

Justin Hansford, a law professor at Howard University’s School of Law, said the trial played out in the public eye and a damning picture of the iconic comedian’s behavior was painted by prosecutors.

“Everyone deserves a fair trial, and it would be unfair if the evidence against him was doctored,” Hansford said.

On Monday, NNPA Newswire broke the story that a recording played in court that appeared to incriminate Cosby was either doctored, had parts of it erased or the full tape was never submitted to authorities.

“What’s not on the tape … Mr. Cosby said to her, asked her point blank, ‘Are you accusing me of date rape?’ Mr. Cosby was incredulous because he knew and Gianna [Constand] knew that he and [accuser] Andrea’s relationship was consensual,” a courthouse source said.

Gianna Constand continued, according to the source:

“She said no, she wasn’t accusing him of date rape but then you get to see her real motivation which was money because she said to him, ‘Bill, things are tough, I don’t know how I’m going to make it’ and this is a married woman saying this so Mr. Cosby just goes on to apologize for having the relationship with her daughter and she told him that his apology was enough and that she didn’t want anything else.”

Montgomery County officials have “began a search for who leaked the information in the same fashion as President Trump seeking to find the writer of the New York Times Op-Ed,” a source said Tuesday.

“This is the sound and fury signifying the lynching of a legacy,” a source said.

Meanwhile, a new filing by Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele has furthered ignited conspiracy theorists who’ve long said Steele and trial Judge Steven T. O’Neill have colluded to bring Cosby down.

Steele filed a motion this month asking O’Neill to permit as many as 60 women who have accused Cosby of inappropriate behavior to testify at his two-day sentencing beginning Monday, Sept. 24.

A slew of Cosby supporters and even those who claim they’re neutral have expressed their curiosity about whether there’s collusion between the judge and the prosecutor given that shortly after Cosby’s conviction, O’Neill announced that he’d be sentenced over two days.

It appears to many that, although Steele just filed the request to have the accusers testify, his intention was known by O’Neill months ago – a legal no-no.

“Why is no one reporting on Mr. Cosby’s sentencing. Steele filed a motion to allow ‘accusers’ to make statements three days ago, yet two months ago, O’Neill set aside two days for sentencing … before the request,” famed private investigator Scott Ross who worked on cases for Cosby, Michael Jackson, Robert Blake and others, wrote on Twitter.

“I read the motion for multiple ‘victims’ to testify. This was clearly predetermined with O’Neill and Steele when it was announced months ago that two days were set aside for sentencing,” Ross said. “Why else would you need two days?”

This is a real concern, said Chrysanthi Leon, an Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice, Women and Gender Studies, & Legal Studies, University of Delaware.

“It is also a fact that Black men are more likely to be prosecuted and then given severe sentences than white men, even though rates of criminal activity are similar. This system bias is most evident in murder cases when offenders are black and victims are white but has been shown in other forms of violence. This is unjust, and it may be that victim impact statements are part of this problem,” Leon said.

Further, it’s easy to see how allowing untested accusations into a sentencing hearing could be unfair to a defendant, said Kathryne Young, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

“This practice has garnered criticism from legal scholars in the past,” Young said.

Conspiracy theorist have also pointed to a number of rulings by O’Neill favorable to Steele, including going against former District Attorney Bruce Castor’s deal with Cosby to not use his civil deposition with Constand to prosecute him.

O’Neill also refused to allow key testimony from witnesses who totally contradicted Constand’s story or painted her as an opportunist who admitted to shaking down Cosby.

“What is happening to Cosby, as bad a man as he undoubtedly is, should never happen to anyone in America,” Castor said in a series of emails to NNPA Newswire earlier this year.

“I’m 36 years in the justice system, much of it at a pretty high level and I’m disgusted that any citizen entitled to the presumption of innocence has been treated this way,” Castor said.

Legal experts also have expressed concern that O’Neill refused to rule on whether the 12-year statute of limitations in the case expired, thus avoiding any prosecution of Cosby. Instead, he sent the matter to jurors, who didn’t appear to consider it.

“That’s [always] a pretrial ruling made by the judge,” Ross said.

Steele argued that the alleged assault occurred in January 2004, which meant when he filed charges on Dec. 30, 2015, the statute was only hours from expiring.

However, testimony and a masterful point-by-point, day-by-day presentation of Cosby’s schedule from Dec. 2013 through March of 2014 by attorney Tom Mesereau revealed that Cosby was not in Pennsylvania at all when this alleged incident occurred.

If the incident didn’t happen in Jan. 2004, based on Constand’s own testimony, then it either occurred in 2003, which would mean the statute had already expired when charges were brought against Cosby, or the alleged assault didn’t happen at all.

“A judge plays many roles in the courtroom,” said criminal defense attorney, Joshua Rogala. “He will consider the aggravating and mitigating factors in the case… mitigating factors will call for greater leniency.”

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2 Comments

  1. Joshua Cosby

    Joshua Cosby

    September 12, 2018 at 5:15 am

    @StacyBrownMedia @NNPA_BlackPress @BillCosby Is Very Innocent He’s Not Guilty. Im Ready For 60 Accus… https://t.co/SAFZIbEErs

  2. ryan max hendel

    ryan max hendel

    September 12, 2018 at 7:48 am

    @StacyBrownMedia @NNPA_BlackPress why am i again the only person holding the #BillCosbyIsInnocent po… https://t.co/jkS45mlKVV

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Family Awarded $1.1M By Baltimore County

THE AFRO — The controversial death of Baltimore County resident Tawon Boyd in police custody has led to a $1.1 million settlement for the family. The deal comes after a contentious battle in federal court during which county officials argued Boyd’s death was an accident. 

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Baltimore County Police were summoned to the home of 21-year-old Tawon Boyd in Sept. 2016, because he was in mental and emotional distress. After being severely beaten by police, four days later he was dead. (AFRO Photo)
Baltimore County Police were summoned to the home of 21-year-old Tawon Boyd in Sept. 2016, because he was in mental and emotional distress. After being severely beaten by police, four days later he was dead. (AFRO Photo)
By Stephen Janis

The controversial death of Baltimore County resident Tawon Boyd in police custody has led to a $1.1 million settlement for the family.

The deal comes after a contentious battle in federal court during which county officials argued Boyd’s death was an accident.

But, A Dwight Pettit, who represents Boyd’s family, countered with expert testimony that said Boyd’s death was the result of positional asphyxiation and a brutal beatdown by police.

“We were satisfied, the family is satisfied,” Pettit told the AFRO. “We knew there would be a very conservative jury in federal court.”

The incident raises more questions about the procedures for investigating police custody deaths; including a series of rulings that classified the death of African-American men who died during police encounters accidents, but outside experts has argued were due to excessive force.

Boyd’s ordeal began when he called police on Sept. 18th, 2016 to his Middle River home seeking assistance for a possible intruder.

When police arrived Boyd first tried to get into a parked car, and then ran to a neighbor’s house across the street, according to court documents. It was at that point Boyd’s fiancé said police began trying to restrain him, which devolved into an unnecessary beatdown.

“Defendants Garland, Seckens and Bowman punch and kick Mr. Boyd in his head, face and all over his body while he is on the ground. Mr. Boyd does not strike any officer back or attempt to strike any officer back, but moves his arms as best as he could in a protective position to cover his body from the attack he is receiving,” court filings alleged.

The lawsuit also contends a Baltimore County EMT unnecessarily administered Haloperidol (Haldol) a muscle relaxant and treatment for schizophrenia to Boyd during his encounter with police. The filings alleged the drug caused cardiac arrest.

Three days after Boyd was hospitalized he was taken off life support due multiple organ failure and swelling of the brain.

The Maryland State Medical Examiner ruled Boyd’s death an accident. “It is unlikely that restraint by law enforcement caused or significantly contributed to his death based on the reported circumstances and timeline of the restraint,” The Baltimore Sun reported. The Sun also reported that use of a drug called N-Ethylpentylone, or “bath salts,” also contributed to his death.

However, outside pathologists hired by the plaintiff said during depositions that Boyd died as result of the beating and positional asphyxiation, a condition that arises when excessive weight is placed upon on a person lying on the ground.

The settlement came after federal judge Ellen Hollendar allowed the lawsuit to proceed to trial against the officers on counts of excessive force and unlawful death. The county had argued that the officer’s response was reasonable and that the officers were not responsible for Boyd’s death.

This article originally appeared in The Afro.

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Two years later, mother still grieves

WAVE NEWSPAPERS — LaTisha Nixon stood under a large oak tree in front of the apartment where her son died of a methamphetamine overdose she says was injected by Ed Buck, whom she referred to as a sexual predator.  At a remembrance on the second anniversary of Gemmel Moore’s death, before a gathering of family, friends and supporters, Nixon reflected on the journey to seek justice for her son.

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LaTisha Nixon (Photo by: wavenewspapers.com)
LaTisha Nixon (Photo by: wavenewspapers.com)

WEST HOLLYWOOD — LaTisha Nixon stood under a large oak tree in front of the apartment where her son died of a methamphetamine overdose she says was injected by Ed Buck, whom she referred to as a sexual predator.

At a remembrance on the second anniversary of Gemmel Moore’s death, before a gathering of family, friends and supporters, Nixon reflected on the journey to seek justice for her son.

“My child is gone,” she said. “I can’t protect him anymore, but I can’t let go. The best thing I can do now is get justice in the best way that I know how to get justice.”

Moore, 26, a gay black man who worked as an escort, was found unresponsive in the apartment of Buck, 64, a white man who is considered a prominent donor to Democratic Party candidates, in the early morning hours of July 27, 2017.

According to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s report, Moore’s nude body was found in the living room along with 24 syringes with brown residue, five glass pipes with white residue and burn marks, a plastic straw with possible white residue, clear plastic bags with white powdery residue and a clear plastic bag with a “piece of crystal-like substance.”

The coroner’s office ruled Moore death as an accidental overdose of methamphetamine.

Moore left behind a journal chronicling his complicated relationship with Buck. One journal entry implicated that Buck was responsible for introducing Moore to methamphetamine.

“I honestly don’t know what to do. I’ve become addicted to drugs and the worst one at that. Ed Buck is the one to thank. He gave me my first injection of crystal meth.”

In the aftermath of Moore’s death, other young black gay escorts came forward to tell of their drug experiences with Buck. The men alleged Buck enjoyed watching the effect the drug had on them and would offer payment in exchange for allowing him to inject them with meth.

Family and friends suspected that it was Buck that injected Moore with the fatal dose of meth.

Following an 11-month investigation by the sheriff’s department, County District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s office concluded that “admissible evidence is insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that [Buck] is responsible for the death of Gemmel Moore.”

Eighteen months later, on the morning of Jan. 7, 2019, a second black gay man was found dead in Ed Buck’s apartment.

At the time of his death, Timothy Dean, 55, worked as a fashion consultant in Century City. The circumstances surrounding his death were similar to Moore’s.

Coroner’s investigators report noted that Buck’s apartment was littered with clothing and sex toys. Investigators collected three sealed glass vials, three syringes and two glass pipes. One of the pipes contained methamphetamine. One of the vials was labeled “naloxone,” the medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. The report also noted two pieces of thick, clear plastic tubing was found near Dean’s body.

The coroner determined that Dean also died of a methamphetamine overdose.  The sheriff’s homicide investigation into Dean’s death is ongoing.

Buck maintains he was not responsible for the deaths of Dean and Moore. His attorney, Seymour Amster, described Moore as a “good friend” of Buck’s and said that Dean and Buck had been friends for 25 years.

After the district attorney’s office declined to bring charges against Buck for the death of her son, Nixon filed a civil wrongful-death lawsuit filed last month against Buck, District Attorney Jackie Lacey and Assistant Head Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum.

In the lawsuit, Nixon stated that her son died after being injected with a lethal dose of crystal meth by Buck, who has a “well-documented history of isolating black men for predatory sexual encounters.”

The remembrance for Moore was organized by social activist Jasmyne Cannick and the political action group Color of Change. During the event, many called for Lacey’s office and the Sheriff’s Department to do their job and bring charges against Buck for the deaths of Moore and Dean.

Others expressed fears that as long as Buck is free, financially vulnerable gay black men are at risk.

“Justice needs to come his way for the sake of other potential victims,” said Maurice Kitchen, who knew Moore and has spoken at previous vigils and protests calling for Buck’s arrest. “We’re going to do our best to prevent a third victim or even a fourth.”

“We’re not only going to make sure Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean get justice, but we’re going to make sure that other people that didn’t die, but have to live with the trauma that stems from all the things he’s done to them, get the justice they deserve.”

Nixon has lost count of how many times she has flown in from her home in Texas to Los Angeles to bring attention to Moore’s death. She expressed her frustration that Buck has not been criminally charged in the death of her son or Dean.

“I’m angry. Something should have been done by now. We shouldn’t still be here. I can’t stop because I’m worried that there are other young men in danger.”

This article originally appeared in the Wave Newspapers

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Ohio State Sen. Cecil Thomas: Tracie Hunter’s Conviction is Unlawful

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “No one is above the law, including judges and prosecutors,” Thomas said. However, in an Aug. 13 letter to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, Thomas said Hunter’s prosecution and subsequent conviction violated the law.

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“The judge refused a motion for a retrial after he refused to poll the jury, in clear violation of the law and at the request of my attorney,” Tracie Hunter told NNPA Newswire during the annual National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) annual convention in Cincinnati.
“The judge refused a motion for a retrial after he refused to poll the jury, in clear violation of the law and at the request of my attorney,” Tracie Hunter told NNPA Newswire during the annual National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) annual convention in Cincinnati.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Former Judge Tracie Hunter, who became Hamilton County Ohio’s first black juvenile court judge, is receiving support from Ohio State Senator Cecil Thomas, who argues that her conviction should be overturned.

Thomas said Hunter didn’t receive a fair trial and that she appears to have been the victim of corruption.

After being convicted of providing confidential documents to her brother in an attempt to help save his job as a corrections officer and exhausting her appeals, Hunter was literally dragged off to jail last month.

“No one is above the law, including judges and prosecutors,” said Thomas. However, in an Aug. 13 letter to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, Thomas said Hunter’s prosecution and subsequent conviction violated the law.

On Sept. 17, 2013, Prosecutor Joe Deters filed a motion requesting special prosecutors for the case against Hunter.

On that same day, Judge Beth Myers filed an entry with the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts appointing special prosecutors, to fully investigate Hunter.

“By filing the motion without due diligence, Judge Myers subsequently appointed Prosecutor Joe Deters’ lawyers and friends who have represented [Deters] in personal litigation,” said Thomas.

One of the attorneys is a partner in the law firm that represented Deters in his divorce, the senator noted, adding, “There are numerous examples that will show just how close these attorneys are to Deters.”

When publicly questioned regarding the appointments, Myers said she “dealt with things as they were presented to me. I will continue to do that,” according to Thomas.

Deters has maintained that he didn’t recommend the appointments and that they were done strictly by the Common Pleas Court. However, Thomas said the appointed lawyers have twice referenced Deters’ role in the appointments.

“Joe Deters requested a special prosecutor because he had a conflict. As such, by law, his only participation is to make the request and provide reasoning,” Thomas said.

“Judge Myers’ role is to decide whether to honor the request and if so, to appoint with the assurance that there are no conflicts,” he said.

“It appears neither Deters nor Myers followed the law to assure Judge Hunter received a fair trial, free of any biases and [Myers] appears to have played a role in unlawfully securing a public contract,” Thomas said.

By appointing Deters’ lawyers, any reasonable person can conclude there are inherent conflicts, Thomas continued.

“First, the mere personal relationship speaks for itself. Second, by honoring his recommendation to hire his personal lawyers, in essence, [Myers] played a role in using her public office to secure a public contract of approximately $700,000 for the personal lawyers of another public official,” Thomas said.

A spokeswoman for the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office said they hadn’t seen the complaint.

Yost’s office declined to comment.

As Thomas submitted his letter, attorneys for Hunter formally asked that she be released.

The judge who carried out her sentence is reportedly waiting for the special prosecutor in the case to respond before deciding.

Hunter, who’s also a church pastor in Cincinnati, has had the support of so many including The Coalition for a Just Hamilton County which is composed of members from the Interdenominational Ministry Alliance; the Cincinnati Chapter of the NAACP; the local chapter of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network; the Black United Front; the Southern Christian Leadership Council; the Nation of Islam and others.

“They’ve tried to stop me from telling my truth and all I have is my truth,” she told NNPA Newswire in June.

She said she had mostly refrained from giving interviews because the local media has only used sound bites to try and embarrass her.

“I’ve lost hope in the justice system which is why I became a judge in the first place,” Hunter said. “I’ve not lost faith in God even though they’ve tried to drive me out of this city.”

Stacy M. Brown

A Little About Me: I'm the co-author of Blind Faith: The Miraculous Journey of Lula Hardaway and her son, Stevie Wonder (Simon & Schuster) and Michael Jackson: The Man Behind The Mask, An Insider's Account of the King of Pop (Select Books Publishing, Inc.)

My work can often be found in the Washington Informer, Baltimore Times, Philadelphia Tribune, Pocono Record, the New York Post, and Black Press USA.
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Mayor Bottoms Urges Immediate Senate Action on Gun Safety Legislation

ATLANTA DAILY WORLD — Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms joined 214 bipartisan mayors from across the nation signing on to a letter from The United States Conference of Mayors urging immediate action from the federal government on gun safety legislation.

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Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. (Photo by: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)
By ADW News

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms joined 214 bipartisan mayors from across the nation signing on to a letter from The United States Conference of Mayors urging immediate action from the federal government on gun safety legislation.

“Public servants—from the local level to Washington—have an obligation to protect the lives of those we are entrusted to serve,” said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. “We need strong leadership willing to take the necessary measures to prevent heinous, senseless acts of violence. If we are truly serious about preventing one more family from knowing the pain of losing someone to another gun tragedy, we need Congress to enact commonsense gun safety legislation immediately.”

With over 250 mass shootings in 2019, the United States Conference of Mayors is urging the nation’s leaders to work with Congress, the Administration, and others to develop holistic remedies to the scourge of gun violence.

Read the full letter at this link.

This article originally appeared in the Atlanta Daily World

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Florida Cop Investigated for Planting Drugs During Traffic Stops

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Mary Maddox said Officer Zachary Wester’s behavior would have gone undetected had it not been for the eagle eye of an assistant State Attorney who was responsible for reviewing evidence in the pre-trials of the accused.

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The video, which Wester recorded after mistakenly believing he had shut off his body and dash cam, shows the officer pulling a woman over for an alleged traffic violation.
The video, which Wester recorded after mistakenly believing he had shut off his body and dash cam, shows the officer pulling a woman over for an alleged traffic violation.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

A Tallahassee, Florida attorney said as many as 30 clients were victimized by a dirty police officer who was caught by his own body cam footage planting drugs in a woman’s car and arresting her.

Mary Maddox said Officer Zachary Wester’s behavior would have gone undetected had it not been for the eagle eye of an assistant State Attorney who was responsible for reviewing evidence in the pre-trials of the accused.

Wester’s misdeeds came to light in a video first posted online by the blog, Rare.

The video, which Wester recorded after mistakenly believing he had shut off his body and dash cam, shows the officer pulling a woman over for an alleged traffic violation.

Wester then claimed he smelled marijuana and conducted a search of the vehicle.

While searching the car, the officer could be seen putting substances into compartments before claiming that he found methamphetamine and marijuana.

Wester arrested the woman and proceeded to continue that practice of planting evidence to effect an arrest. One man, who was allegedly victimized by Wester’s activities, was arrested and charged $1,100 in fines and court fees and sentenced to one year in jail.

Seven months into his sentence in Sept. 2018, the state attorney’s office dropped the charges along with 118 others involving Wester, who has been terminated from his job.

Now, the state’s attorney is conducting a criminal investigation into the former police officer’s activity.

Rarereported that nine individuals have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit accusing Wester and two other Florida deputies of planting drugs and making an illegal arrest. They’ve also sued the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

“[The alleged victims] suffered grave mental anguish, pain, and suffering, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, embarrassment, humiliation, lost employment opportunities, lost wages, and emoluments,” Maddox said in the lawsuit.

She reportedly plans to add as many as 20 more individuals to the lawsuit.

“This represents only the tip of the iceberg,” Maddox said.

Stacy M. Brown

A Little About Me: I'm the co-author of Blind Faith: The Miraculous Journey of Lula Hardaway and her son, Stevie Wonder (Simon & Schuster) and Michael Jackson: The Man Behind The Mask, An Insider's Account of the King of Pop (Select Books Publishing, Inc.)

My work can often be found in the Washington Informer, Baltimore Times, Philadelphia Tribune, Pocono Record, the New York Post, and Black Press USA.
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Mass shootings, widespread death, White hatred permeate America

NNPA NEWSWIRE — According to authorities, Patrick Crusius, the 21-year-old White male identified as the shooter, drove nearly 10 hours from his hometown of Allen, Texas, about 30 miles north of Dallas, to carry out an act of domestic terrorism and a hate crime against the Hispanic community. Mr. Crusius surrendered to police shortly after his reign of terror, leaving many baffled as to why he didn’t take his own life like many mass shooting suspects.

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Mourners gather at a vigil following a nearby mass shooting Aug. 4, in Dayton, Ohio. Multiple people in Ohio have been killed in the second mass shooting in the U.S. in less than 24 hours, and the suspected shooter is also deceased, police said. Photo: AP/Wide World Photos
Mourners gather at a vigil following a nearby mass shooting Aug. 4, in Dayton, Ohio. Multiple people in Ohio have been killed in the second mass shooting in the U.S. in less than 24 hours, and the suspected shooter is also deceased, police said. Photo: AP/Wide World Photos

ByRhodesia Muhammad and Bryan 3X Crawford,Contributing Writers
@TheFinalCall

“Ya basta!” Estela Reyes-Lopez pleaded, which means “enough” in English.

“Twenty lives were taken from us because of some young man filled with so much hate, so much ignorance, so much hostility toward people he doesn’t even know,” said Ms. Lopez, the media and public information officer for Centro De Salud Familiar La Fe, the center for faith and family health, a non-profit social justice organization based in El Paso.

It was a hail of bullets that sent families who were back to school shopping, screaming and running for their lives, when a gunman opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, around 10 a.m. Aug. 3, killing at least 22 people and wounding more than two dozen.

According to authorities, Patrick Crusius, the 21-year-old White male identified as the shooter, drove nearly 10 hours from his hometown of Allen, Texas, about 30 miles north of Dallas, to carry out an act of domestic terrorism and a hate crime against the Hispanic community. Mr. Crusius surrendered to police shortly after his reign of terror, leaving many baffled as to why he didn’t take his own life like many mass shooting suspects.

A manifesto apparently posted on social media by Mr. Crusius outlined his intentions and his racist and anti-immigration views, said authorities. Perhaps he surrendered that he wanted to be heard.

Just 12 hours later, another gunman opened fire in a crowded bar in Dayton, Ohio, early Sunday morning, on Aug. 4. Connor Betts, 24, killed nine people, including his own 22-year-old sister, in less than a minute, authorities reported. Thirty-one other people were reported injured. The suspect was eventually shot and killed by police. Authorities are saying the two shootings are not linked.

During an Aug. 5 press conference, President Trump said the nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and White supremacy. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated,” he added. “Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart and devours the soul.”

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the shootings were clearly, at least in part, a result of Mr. Trump’s divisive, racist rhetoric and condemned the president’s proposed legislative fix for strong background checks for gun users and tougher immigration laws. Many questioned why Mr. Trump connected the two issues, especially since the shooting suspects are U.S. citizens.

Many social media users’ disdain for the U.S. government, including the president for hesitancy and refusal to call these mass shootings what they really are hate crimes and domestic terror.

Student Minister Abel Muhammad, Latino representative of the Nation of Islam, said, “President Trump’s rhetoric has emboldened and lit fire to many extremist groups. There is a hesitancy and a slowness in labeling this in what seems to be apparent to every one of us. So many of our Black and Brown brothers and sisters are being killed for far less. Yet, somehow these extremists who take the life of our people somehow always makes it safely to be arrested without incidence. But our people unarmed can’t seem to make it out of a traffic stop.”

“It’s absolutely a sign of the times as the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has been warning the American people for years now, that the injustices within the country create an imbalance and if not addressed the results of ignoring and not trying to create a remedy would be acted out in acts of violence. We see that coming into existence more and more as the times are getting darker,” Student Minister Muhammad said.

“After a tragedy like this, there is a time to be sad and there’s a time to mourn. But this situation that we are living right now in our community, this has been building for a long time,” said Ms. Reyes-Lopez, who shops at that same El Paso Walmart with her family. “These clouds have been circling. This thunder has been building and this lightening have struck. And we’re very angry about it. Many of the people I’ve spoken to in the last 24 hours have told me, friends, activists, people that have had their feet on the ground for a long time, said, we are talking about voting, we’re talking about legislation, and gun control.”

These mass shootings are happening more often. On February 14, 2018, 17 people were killed when a gunman opened fire at a high school in Parkland, Florida. On May 18, 2018, 10 people were killed at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas. On November 5, 2017, 25 people were killed at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. On October 1, 2017, 58 people were killed when a mass shooter opened fire from a hotel room at the Harvest Music Festival, at a Las Vegas strip in Nevada. On June 12, 2016, 49 people were killed at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

On June 17, 2015, 9 people were killed at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Dr. Abdul Haleem Muhammad, southwest regional student minister of the Nation of Islam in Houston said, God loved us so much, he set up a military structure and security apparatus for his servants, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Minister Farrakhan, and the Nation of Islam in anticipation of the current dark days. “If we love our people as much as Allah (God) loves us, we will be found teaching and training our people to make our neighborhoods and institutions safe places to live, work, play, learn, and pray. Offering thoughts and prayers or finger pointing is not sufficient today,” Dr. Haleem Muhammad stressed. “Love is a verb. We must show and prove the unequaled wisdom Allah has taught us through his Christ and Messiah.”

Student Minister Abel Muhammad agreed that this is not the time for finger pointing. “This is what has angered me, the response has been politicized, where Democrats are pointing at Republicans now trying to win the Latino votes by saying, ‘oh look what they’ve done, they’ve allowed this to happen because of their gun laws’ when for eight years the Democrats had charge of the Congress and the presidential office and they were not able to fix anything in terms of immigration or in terms of those things which ill-affect our people.”

Dee Woo, operations manager of KTEP FM, El Paso, a public radio station, commended the residents of El Paso for being a strong community that bands together in times of need. She believes parents are the root of the hatred that leads to mass shootings. “Parents need to stop teaching racism and hatred at home. And, they need to address it with their children as early as two and three years old, because as we’ve seen, children will play with other children because they want to play with other children and for no other reason but to have fun. And it doesn’t matter who it is or the color of their skin. So, stop teaching the children racism and prejudice and instead start teaching them universal love, which is respect for one another and being able to help one another,” she told The Final Call.

Others say separation is the only solution. That there are already two Americas, one White and one non-White.

Jay Hernandez, a resident of El Paso, noted, “Some in the Latino community in El Paso may have been injured but didn’t seek treatment because of their lack of citizenship and I think that’s hurtful and disgraceful. This is America, yet we don’t have the freedom to shop for school supplies for our children.”

“I think it’s a wakeup call,” added Student Minister Abel Muhammad. “I hope ultimately, the only good that can come of this is that perhaps our people will awaken to the fact that these people do not see us as their brothers, they do not see us as their equals. They have no desire for truth, or fairness, or equity or justice with us if they’re not in a position of superiority, not based on truth or goodness, but simply on their Whiteness and we as subordinate and subservient to them. They don’t even want us alive in their presence. Hopefully, as harsh as that may be, I think it’s waking up people to understand and to look at what is it that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan are offering, which is the best and only solution, separation from these people.”

There has been an average of one mass shooting every 12 days in 2019, with the total so far being 18.

All told, as many as 102 people have been killed this year in mass shootings, with many of them being committed by White men; all of whom adhere to and embrace the ideology of White nationalism.

Compounding the issue is the reluctance to paint these men as what they are: domestic terrorists.

The emergence of Donald Trump on the political scene in America has brought feelings of White pride mixed with concern about Whites acting out in public spaces every day. Videos capture White men and women berating, harassing, insulting and even calling the police on Blacks and other non-White people. Social media is flooded with clips showing the differences in the way law enforcement treats White perpetrators of crime, versus treatment of non-White people who don’t have to be committing a crime to be forcibly attacked—or even killed at the hands of police officers.

All of this could, and should, be very easily categorized as acts of terrorism. But in a society where the thought appears to be only Muslims can be terrorists, White domestic terrorism gets softened to “mental illness.”

“No one is safe. And the days of thinking something like this can never happen to me are pretty much over,” political commentator and activist Mark Thompson, told The Final Call. “[White people’s] fear of genetic annihilation, as Dr. Frances Cress Welsing described it, is enabled by Donald Trump. He can dismiss these mass shootings as mental illness. But White supremacy is a mental illness. To believe that you are a superior race that is supposed to be separate and distinct above every other race, is a form of mental illness.”

“In America, the dangerous are seen as endangered,” Ibram X. Kendi, director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University, wrote in an op-ed for The Atlantic. “Leaders treat white-nationalist terror, not as a broad social ill, but as a fringe problem that will become extinct on its own. To portray white terrorism as an outlier is to ignore America’s entire racial history, not to mention its present.”

Technology and media are part of the phenomenon with White terrorists able to amplify their views through mainstream and social media. And on these platforms, the idea that only Black and Brown people are dangerous can spread like wildfire.

An FBI bulletin disseminated through the agency’s office in Phoenix, Arizona, found conspiracy theories, like people from South America are invading the United States, can contribute to domestic terrorist threats.

“The FBI assesses these conspiracy theories very likely will emerge, spread, and evolve in the modern information marketplace, occasionally driving both groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts,” the memo read in part.

“White folks are upholding a slavery amendment—the 2nd Amendment—that was meant to use violence to keep Black and Brown folks in check. But the 2nd Amendment is now being used in the killing of White folks themselves,” Mr. Thompson explained, adding, “Firearms are an instrument of White supremacy and the enforcement of racist oppression.”

In May, testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee, officials from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department, that there are more than 850 open cases of domestic terrorism in the United States; 40 percent of them have involved racially motivated violence. However, there is no law on the books in America against domestic terrorism. Perpetrators of these crimes, who are labeled as homegrown terrorists, are often prosecuted using other statutes. This makes it extremely difficult to even prosecute someone as a domestic terrorist in this country.

Thus, charges can be left to the whims of prosecutors dealing with those who commit acts of extreme violence.

After the most recent tragedies, the possibility of making mass shootings, which authorities describe as shootings with four or more victims, capital crimes was raised.

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