Thursday, July 29, 2010

Shirley Sherrod/Black AIDS Institute at NABJ


Actress Regina King and Phil Wilson, Exec Director of the Black AIDS Institute.


I had a very high regard for Shirley Sherrod, the USDA worker who was fired after a tea partyer falsified videotape, the NAACP condemned her along with Fox, and she was fired by the Obama Administration in this 'post racial' society.

After seeing/hearing her today in person that regard has climbed tremendously.  She appeared as an uncoached, genuine, sincere sister who cares about the rights of her people and of all people. She was unwavering in telling the NABJ that part of the problem is that many in the Civil Rights movement wanted to shield the young from the pain and suffering of that time and as a result, many people today don't know their history.

She also said another problem is that people are just so afraid!  Afraid to do what's right, but God knows what's right she said and right will win in the end.

I KNOW THAT'S RIGHT!

She said Pres Obama needs to reexamine what happened to her because the entire media wasn't to blame.  That rests with Fox in terms of media, and his administration in terms of it letting Fox dictate how he will govern.

When she asked her supervisor what's wrong/why was she being fired, she replied that she would be the subject of Glenn Beck that fateful night. 

Breitbart/they had to know he was targeting me, she said.

More facts:  she will file a lawsuit!!! and she has not even read the 'job offer' which was in a draft form she said. She also said when asked about Breitbart apologizing that at this point if he hasn't she doesn't even want it.

And definitely she refuses to give an interview to Fox!!!

She's received hate mail and death threats/called derogatory names, etc. 

She was pained by the NAACP's actions but said she would never do anything to diminish their value.

Darned.  Fox foiled again! in its attempt to divide and conquer - at least not all the way.  One side did take the bait.

There's so much more going on right now...

The Black AIDS Institute's Phil Wilson and actress Regina King launched the partnership with the NABJ:  Test 1 Million Campaign.

In part, the campaign's asking journalists to get tested at the convention and in their local communities and to write about the experience.  The effort is as named intended to get a million and more to know their HIV status.

I'm prepping for my panel participation on Minority Media Ownership - the Final Call's influence, relevancy, maintaining in hard times for papers and Black outlets especially, and our readership.

I was able to finally meet Syracuse University Professor Francis Ward, one of the founders of the NABJ, who is the facilitator of the panel.

One thing that's clear to me as I enjoy fellowshipping with other Black journalists is that there is no paper like the Final Call Newspaper!!!! I already knew that but it's good to say it:  it's good to be free.

THANK YOU HONORABLE MINISTER LOUIS FARRAKHAN for this blessed opportunity to serve in this capacity.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Final Call at the National Association of Black Journalists Convention


We're heerrrrr!  Sis Nisa Islam, Sis Charlene, and Sis Beatrice
at the Grand Hyatt Downtown San Diego


San Diego is the spot for this week as Final Call staff writer Sis Nisa Islam and I will hit beautiful San Diego to attend the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Convention and Career Fair.

I was invited by Professor Francis Ward of Syracuse University to be on the panel regarding how readers between 9 and 18 get their news through the various technologies - Twitter, FaceBook, blogging, on their cell phones, and how this is impacting Black media ownership.

I've never met Prof. Ward before and am excited about the meeting, however, I've known Bro. Danny Bakewell, Sr. for as long as I've been writing for the Final Call, and that's about 14 years this year.  I've covered his efforts when he was at the helm of the Brotherhood Crusade and I've contributed to the LA Sentinel often.  A highlight was when He, John Mack (current president of the Los Angeles Police Department Commission and then president of the Los Angeles Urban League) and I participated on a Black History Month (now called African American Heritage Month in LA) panel at KTLA Channel 5 with the late veteran broadcaster Hal Fishman.

It's always a humbling and exciting learning experience when I can attend any type of conference or seminar on behalf of the Final Call, but what makes this one special is it's put on by our people, my colleagues, and a lot is going on in the industry that we'll all hash out in terms of the future of the Black press, and other things.  I'm going to be focused on how to perform better and looking for whatever products, ideas, etc., that can help me do that.

Other very important highlights of the week will be that I will get to see my sister Nisa Islam.  I've spoken to her briefly since the transition of her two sons, Idris and Khalifah, but I will be able to actually see her and give her a big warm sisterly greeting from the Western Region.

The other is that on Thursday morning, the same day as the panel I'm on, Shirley Sherrod, the unjustly ousted USDA worker, will address context and consequences at 8 a.m.

Well, gotta go.  I'm still in current week writing deadlines and my train leaves in an hour!

Peace.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Muhammad University of Islam Launches the Drive for Five Campaign - Support Independent Education


Help the Muhammad University of Islam launch The National Literacy Campaign


FinalCall.com News
The Nation of Islam is presenting a live Web-A-Thon fundraiser on behalf of Muhammad Univeristy of Islam (MUI), Tuesday July 27, 2010 at 7:30pm.  Web-A-Thon organizers are expecting, Allah (God) Willing, a special message from the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan from Los Angeles California. See full details below!
 
Tuesday, July 27, 2010 at 7:30 P.M. Central @ NOI.org/Webcast/MUI
 
Please join us for our National MUI Web-A-Thon Fundraiser
On behalf of Muhammad University of Islam (MUI)
 Allah (God) Willing, we will receive a special message from
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan from Los Angeles, Ca.
 July 27, 2010 MUI Web-A-Thon
This year's theme for MUI's 2010 Education Conference is:
"Developing a Nation of Readers"

Literacy is the essential requirement for the teaching of any subject and the
essential requirement for the comprehension of any subject being studied.
Reading is a fundamental life skill and our highest civil right.
The entire world has moved into an information-technological era requiring
each of us to take part in education, science, mathematics, industry, business
and various professions which demand high levels of literacy. What was an
acceptable 
level of literacy in 1940 has now become marginal.
Please Help MUI Launch The National Literacy Campaign by
visiting your local NOI Mosque or Study Group to Participate Live! 

Tuesday - July 27th, 2010 @ 7:30 P.M. Central Time
For those unable to participate in person, join us
http://www.noi.org/webcast/mui-web-a-thon.html

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dr. Ava Muhammad launches weekly radio show - "Elevated Places


As Salaam Alaikum!

If you already have heard, heard of, seen this sister, then enough said!  I can't wait!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

An Open Letter to Black Leadership by Minister Louis Farrakhan

An Open Letter To Black Leadership by Minister Louis Farrakhan

BY THE HONORABLE MINISTER LOUIS FARRAKHAN 
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Minister Louis Farrakhan
NATIONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE HONORABLE ELIJAH MUHAMMAD
AND
THE NATION OF ISLAM

IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, THE BENEFICENT, THE MERCIFUL.
I BEAR WITNESS THAT THERE IS NO GOD BUT ALLAH AND I BEAR
WITNESS THAT MUHAMMAD IS HIS MESSENGER

AN OPEN LETTER
TO BLACK LEADERSHIP

July 19, 2010

To the Spiritual, Political, Educational, and Economic Leaders and to our Sports and Entertainment Giants:

May this open letter find you well and in good spirit as we search for a solution to the many problems that we face as a people.

Most of you have benefited in some way from a relationship that you have with members of the Jewish Community. Some of you have become very wealthy and are able to live in the best manner that you choose because of this friendship. However, have you ever noticed that no matter how rich and powerful some of us have become, we have never been shown how to network with the wealthy and learned of our people, pooling our resources that we may produce for our people that which would grow us from a begging position as little children to become masters of our own destiny?

The Jewish people have maximized their wealth by networking with their people and others in America and the World, thus they have become masters in banking, trade, commerce and have parlayed their wealth to become masters in every field of human endeavor. At the same time, we as their friends amass wealth for ourselves, our families and a few people who benefit from us but never have we done anything collectively to benefit the masses of our people.

It is not that we would not desire to do this; it is because we have not been shown how. Our distrust and disunity prohibits us from doing what the Jewish people have done.

These books that the Historical Research Department of the Nation of Islam has published, “The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews: How Jews Gained Control of the Black American Economy Volume 2” and “Jews Selling Blacks” are being shared with our people to show us how we were completely undone and how others have benefited from what has happened and continues to happen to us. We cannot deal effectively with our so-called friends as men and women without this vital knowledge.

Whenever the Light of Truth has been shone on them, they reach for you to defend them against the Truth that uncovers the horror that has been done to us. They have always been successful pitting us against each other thus keeping them from facing the Truth of their real relationship with us. As they call upon you to denounce me as an anti-Semite and, because of the favor you believe you owe them for what they have done to help make life comfortable for you; I am asking you tostand down. I am asking you to read this research and then discuss it with your Jewish friends. Would you condemn me as an anti-Semite for exposing the research that shows them as being anti-Black? I am asking you to stand down and let them come out to me to defend their record and history of their relationship with us that we compiled from that which was written by their own scholars, historians, and Rabbis.

If you become an apologist for them in this hour, you will be seen by the masses of our people as a modern day Uncle Tom who believes you owe more to them than to the masses of our suffering people. If you attack me at their insistence you will be seen as an enemy of the rise of our people as well as an enemy of your own rise; for you can never be free to rise above the limitations placed on you by them until you know the absolute Truth of your relationship with them. Being an apologist for them will be dangerous for you as the masses of our people are awakening and are increasingly angry at the reality of our condition. No matter how popular you may be and desirous you may be to defend your so-called friends, it is dangerous for any of us to defend those who are the architects of White supremacy and are the architects of the destruction of us as a people.

Most of you are afraid to face such a formidable and powerful enemy. So, I implore you to stand to the side and let them come out to defend themselves and argue against the Truth that I and we speak and write.

I will prove to you and them that Allah (God) is Present and He is with me. As David went out to Goliath and defeated him in the face of the fear of King Saul and the Children of Israel, likewise, I can assure you that I will be victorious over your and my enemies with the Help of Allah (God) and His Christ (Mahdi).

Thank you for reading these words.

I Am Your Brother and Servant,

Respectfully and Sincerely Submitted,

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan
Servant to the Lost-Found
Nation of Islam in the West

HMLF/km

Friday, July 16, 2010

NATION OF ISLAM YOUTH RETURN TO THE MOTHERLAND






While speaking to my beautiful sister Saajida Shabazz of New York recently, she informed me that several of our youth in the Nation of Islam were on a journey in Egypt and I was very excited for them and interested in learning about how they went, what they were doing, and why.  This is what she shared.  Thanks Sis Saajida!!



Nation of Islam Youth Return to the Motherland

By: Saajida Shabazz




Nation of Islam youth, from Muhammad Mosque #7, did not let obstacles stand in their way of their 1 month sojourn to Ancient Kemet, commonly known as Egypt, Africa. Their enthusiasm was driven by their love for learning and exploration. These New York youth understand the importance of traveling the world and not limiting oneself to one particular community. Their hopes are to learn much on their journeys, which encourages them to see the world from a vast scope and it makes them aware of different cultures, religions, and way of life up close. The believers of Muhammad Mosque #7 are proud to be represented in the Motherland by Bro. Emmanuel Muhammad, Bro. Jaleel Muhammad, Sis. Aliyah Muhammad, Sis. Annisah Muhammad, Sis. Sajeeda Muhammad, and Sis. Maleeka Muhammad.   


This enriching experience was made possible through the International Youth Leadership Institute program (www.iyli.org ) in New York. This is an excellent program that, “…prepares Black and Latino secondary school students to assume active leadership roles in their community and global society.” Through the program, IYLI students are able to enjoy different activities, learn from their participation in various seminars and guest speakers, and establish a family bond with their peers and group leaders. This program is beneficial to our communities because, “IYLI reinforces a belief that individuals can improve their society and their world by first developing themselves.” While in Egypt the students have experienced seeing the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinxes, riding camels, and sailing on the Nile River, etc. 

Obtaining the funds for the trip to Egypt was no easy task for the youth; however they worked diligently to bring forth their goal into reality. They fundraised, collected donations, and the IYLI program facilitated the auctioning of goods to assist with the expenses. The students worked together and were also supported by their families, friends, and religious organizations. 


The youth from Muhammad Mosque #7, along with their IYLI family, are blessed to be able to serve as an inspiration for all those who may allow life challenges to discourage us from our goals. This just goes to show, when you have the help of Allah (God), family, and your community- YOU CAN ACCOMPLISH WHAT YOU WILL!         


Pictured in the photos are:  Believers of Muhammad Mosque #7 - Bro. Jaleel Muhammad, Sis. Maleeka Muhammad, Sis. Sajeeda Muhammad, Sis. Annisah Muhammad, Sis. Aliyah Muhammad, and Bro. Emmanuel Muhammad.  

 
 MM #7 Youth and their International Youth Leadership Institue group, with the Pyramid of Giza in the background.
 
 IYLI Students and Group Leaders. 

'My son was murdered!'

BY CHARLENE MUHAMMAD -NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT
grant_trial07-20-2010.jpg
Diverse groups of protesters rallied at Leimert Park in Los Angeles after the verdict was announced. Johannes Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. He could face between five and 14 years in prison. Photos: Malcolm Shabazz

Family: Manslaughter conviction of ex-transit cop won't end fight for justice

LOS ANGELES (FinalCall.com) - “My son was murdered! He was murdered! He was murdered! He was murdered! My son was murdered, and the law has not held the officer accountable the way that he should have been held accountable,” declared Wanda Johnson after a jury convicted Oscar Grant, III.'s killer guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

wanda_johnson07-20-2010.jpg
Student minister Keith Muhammad consoles Oscar Grant III’s mother, Wanda Johnson after the verdict was announced on July 8. Photo: Charlene Muhammad
The decision, rendered July 8 at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center, means the jury felt former transit cop Johannes Mehserle committed a negligent act and used a firearm in the process. He could be imprisoned anywhere from five to 14 years.

Mr. Grant was lying face down on a station platform, with his hands behind his back, when Mr. Mehserle, then a Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) police officer shot him in the back at close range on Jan. 1, 2009.

Ms. Johnson said the battle is not over. “Even though this system will fail us and let us down, God will never fail us, nor will he let us down and I will trust in him until I die. ... We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places and we will continue to pray without ceasing because we know that our deliverer, Jesus Christ, the Lord our Savior ... will deliver us.”

Before the verdict was announced, Oscar Grant's family, Jack Bryson (whose sons Jack and Nigel were with Mr. Grant that night), their supporters, and even some members of the media, locked hands from row to row and prayed. With all of their heads bowed, and under heavy police watch, Ms. Johnson prayed first, and then Student Minister Keith Muhammad of Oakland.

Immediately after the clerk read the verdict, disappointment, sadness, and disgust ran across the faces of some in the public seating area. Reporters scribbled their notes feverishly and some people stared ahead for a few moments.

Judge Robert Perry had deputies take Mr. Mehserle into custody and his sentencing is set for Aug. 6. As he was being led from the courtroom, he mouthed “I love you guys” to his family, who sat near the court's entry doors, shielded by sheriff's deputies.

In a quiet, somber meeting in another area of the courthouse, the Grant and Bryson families met with John Burris, their attorney, and sorted out their next steps. Already waiting for them on the second floor was Cephus “Uncle” Bobby Johnson, who, like his sister the day before, was shut out of the courtroom by deputies for arriving a few minutes late.

Mr. Johnson told The Final Call that the system let the family down in many ways—in particular by denying evidence into trial that would have shown the shooter's state of mind. That evidence included Mr. Mehserle slapping a Hispanic woman and getting kicked out of school, failing to identify the Grant shooting as accidental on a post-shooting form required of all officers, and beating up a Black man within 35 days of shooting the man's nephew.

“This really has stuck a dagger in us to a degree to where we know today that we must begin this fight from this point in order to seek justice ... It hurts us as a family to have been going through this the past 19 months to hear that there's a possibility that this man who committed murder may be able to go home and eat dinner after Aug. 6,” Mr. Johnson said.

While the families were collecting themselves, dealing with their first emotions after the verdict, and Mr. Johnson was speaking with The Final Call, a member of the court's media staff apologized for interrupting and asked them how long they would be because there was a lot of media waiting to talk to them outside of the court.

“Let them wait. We'll be there. We've been waiting for justice for almost 19 months,” Mr. Johnson responded.

When asked if he felt any consolation in seeing Mr. Mehserle handcuffed and taken into custody, Mr. Bryson replied, “No, not at all. You brought us all the way to Los Angeles for this. We could have done this in Oakland.”

Before escorting the delegation to a press conference, Atty. Burris said the decision was a compromised verdict that did not accurately reflect what the former officer did to Oscar Grant that night, but he felt the voluntary manslaughter conviction was better than no conviction at all. It was an historic verdict—the first case where Atty. Burris had seen an officer convicted of any crime against a Black male.

“The next test of course is when and how much time the officer, Mr. Mehserle, is sentenced to jail. Under traditional, regular notions, he should be going to jail for the rest of his life, for the rest of his life, but yet, he very well may get a sentence that does not even require him to go to jail, which would be the ultimate insult and travesty as I could imagine,” Atty. Burris said.

The jury's deliberations for six and a half hours after the family waited for justice for 19 months was a travesty of justice itself, but justice cannot be compromised, said Min. Muhammad.

“Be crystal clear we are not satisfied. Be crystal clear God is not satisfied! It is written in the Bible that God declares that he hears the moaning and the groaning of a people that have endured this kind of suffering for 400 years and that when God hears that kind of suffering know for a surety that if the system of justice will not do justice while it is in the hands of the system of justice to do, that God himself will relieve the suffering of a mother and of a people that have attempted to see that this system would work,” he added.

Grassroots youth and community activists held peaceful demonstrations in Los Angeles and Oakland but by that evening rioting had broken out in Oakland. News reports indicate 83 people were arrested after a group allegedly stormed businesses and vandalized property.

According to Min. Muhammad, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums asked the Department of Justice to intervene and announced after the verdict that the Justice Dept. is conducting an independent review of the case to determine whether federal prosecution is warranted.

“No verdict can ever replace the loss of a son, a father and a friend. Our condolences continue to go out to the family of Oscar Grant during this trying time. Understandably there is grave concern in the community,” said California Democrat Barbara Lee in a press statement.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Oscar Grant's killer issues apology

I just received this letter from a source dated July 4 from Johannes Mehserle.  Despite what he says in the letter, the Grant family has indicated it's not received any apology - letter or otherwise - since he shot and killed Oscar Grant nor did any witnesses on the platform that day hear him say anything like I'm sorry or it was an accident.  Here's the letter
:


Ex-cop convicted of involuntary manslaughter


"My son was murdered!  He was murdered..." declared Wanda Johnson after Oscar Grant, III.'s killer was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for shooting  him in the back at close range on New Year's day 2009.

The day the verdict was announced on July 8, emotions were high, hopes were high, but realities set in.  There is no justice for the Black man and woman in the United States.

Look for coverage in the next edition of the Final Call Newspaper.

www.finalcall.com

pictured above - left to right:  Jack Bryson, Wanda Johnson, Student Minister Keith Muhammad of Oakland, and Cephus Johnson (pic by Charlene Muhammad)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Exclusive: Oscar Grant’s Family Speaks Out As Jury Deliberates

Just received the video from our recent (Jasmyne Cannick and I) interview of the Grant family, Jack Bryson, Student Minister Keith Muhammad, and Aidge Patterson, organizer with the L.A Coalition for Justice for Oscar Grant.  

Thanks Jasmyne!!

(Her coverage is at lasentinel.net/jasmynecannick.com, and I've a post below from yesterday.)


Inglewood Police Brian Ragan facing possible termination

Remember Officer Brian Ragan, the Inglewood Police officer who shot and killed 38-year-old Kevin Wicks, a Black postal worker in Inglewood, CA?  Well I'm told by several sources that as of yesterday, Ragan was set to be fired within 48 hours on matters that have nothing to do with Wicks' killing. 

The Final Call is working on an further updates in the case now.  

Meanwhile, here's a previous story we ran shortly after the killing.  

 

Justifiable Homicide: Black Youth in Peril



Police shooting raises questions on review process
By Charlene Muhammad
Western Region Correspondent
Updated Aug 12, 2008 - 2:21:00 PM


 

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (FinalCall.com) - Officer Brian Ragan of the Inglewood Police Department was already under investigation for the shooting death of an unarmed man in May when he fatally shot a 38-year-old postal employee at his home on July 21.

Family members and friends told The Final Call that at about 12:30 a.m., Kevin Wicks was in his home, minding his own business. The next thing they knew, paramedics were carrying him out on a stretcher, without any explanation of what happened.

“We are severely hurting by this and it’s like all of our lives have been taken. My daughter’s very distraught. She was very close to him. My grandson is very distraught as well because they saw them bring him down the stairs with his left arm just dangling down like he was a slab of meat,” said Nadia Battle, Mr. Wicks’ sister.

According to Ms. Battle, her daughter Natisha Meloncon called the police to report a domestic violence disturbance within the complex. She lives on the lower level and her uncle lived upstairs.

The 22-year-old called police to check out a ruckus that was coming from a vacant, open unit next door to her uncle’s, but they went to the wrong address, her mother said. No one in the complex said they heard police identify themselves upon arrival, nor did they hear any warnings prior to shooting, Ms. Battle said. “Natisha’s window was open and she was listening, because she was afraid about the dispute and over the language she was hearing the people use, but she didn’t hear the police say anything,” Ms. Battle added.

The police department reports that when officers knocked on Mr. Wicks’ door, they identified themselves as police officers. He allegedly answered the door with a gun, which was licensed and registered in his name, raised it at the officers and Officer Ragan fired and killed the 19-year-postal worker.

“My brother’s only been there since March and he’s had a lot of incidents happen. One neighbor who is always drunk was beating on his door early one morning. There was a transient sleeping on his door step with a knife in her hand, and the next door apartment was vacant and left unlocked, so a lot of transients were going in there,” Ms. Battle explained.

Officer Ragan has been placed on administrative leave again, but depending on the department’s investigation and Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks’ determination, he could be back on the streets by the time Mr. Wicks is put to rest.

Sgt. Gabriela Garcia, a police spokesperson, said the review period for officer-involved shootings ranges from as little as one day to one year. Chief Seabrooks weighs the psych evaluation and total circumstances so it is not unlikely for an officer to be back out in the field while the investigation is still ongoing, she explained.

Officer Ragan and his partner claimed in the Michael Byoune case, which happened in early May, that two Black males fired on them from a moving car. But no weapon was found and family members say the men were fleeing a shooting at a popular Inglewood hamburger stand.

Officer Ragan was returned to the field about a month after that shooting and community residents and leaders say just because Sgt. Garcia deems it “not uncommon,” that doesn’t make it right.

“Of course we’re outraged at any murders whether it’s at the hands of gang members or police and we’re not going to accept it no matter who it is. This just doesn’t happen to White folks and I don’t care if you have a Black female police chief or White one, all of them are racist because Black life has no value. I’m not anti-police. I’m anti-anybody who kills Black people. What will you tell us this time, that your life was in danger again? That this postal worker was a gang member?” asked Tony Muhammad, Nation of Islam Western Region student minister.

Although the police dispute that the officer went to the wrong address, Kevin Hackie, a private investigator and retired law enforcement officer, agreed that the officers erred.

“The officers did go to the wrong house because I’ve already talked to the person who made the 911 call and Inglewood P.D. has not even spoken to her as of yet. She gave them the description of two light complexioned Black females and a male, close hair cut driving a green Chevy Lumina,” Mr. Hackie said.

Mr. Hackie said the officers should have waited for sufficient back up, gotten on the P.A. system and called for their suspect to come out with his hands in the air if he wouldn’t open the door, unless they had knowledge that someone’s life was in grave jeopardy inside.

“Unfortunately, after being a cop for 18 years, I’ll tell you this, any cop that ever tells you he never did something against the law is a damn lie. All cops walk both sides of the line, but it’s gotten to the point now that in a sense you just have rogue cops out here. The bottom line is, at this point, I won’t say it’s a racial issue, but a lot of cops still have that John Wayne syndrome,” Mr. Mackie said.

Ms. Battle is praying for people to come together because there are a lot of good police officers, including some of her family members and friends. “If I could talk to the chief, I would tell her that they need training and they need to revamp their whole system, because the one they are using isn’t working,” she said.

Oscar Grant's mother shut out of courtroom proceedings today - missed the door by 1 minute!



Pictured here Cephus Johnson, Student Minister Keith Muhammad, rear-Salih Muhammad and James (8) Muhammad make an impromptu statement to the press outside of the criminal court (and below) Wanda Johnson, her brother Kenneth Johnson, and rear Melvin Muhammad)


After arriving to the courthouse just one minute after the proceedings began to select a replacement juror, Oscar Grant, III's mother, Wanda Johnson was not allowed into the courtroom to witness the selection process for another juror.

Due to medical issues facing one juror, the trial proceeds without another full day of deliberations.

One Sheriff's deputy let her in the outer foyer, but another stopped her from entering the courtroom.  "He said we'll tell you what they said.  He said they were going to only deliberate until 11-11:30 and he shut the door and went back in.  It was a full house.  It's ridiculous that I couldn't get into my own son's murder trial but that's the system," Johnson said.

The jury will be deliberating for about another hour and eight minutes.

"The Bible teaches that justice stands afar off and equity cannot enter because truth has fallen in the street.  We've waited 18 months.  We'll survive another day but we're hopeful that whoever sits on this jury will bring back a guilty verdict in 2nd degree," said Muhammad, an advisor to the family.

Allan Parachini, the court's public information director just informed the media that on Friday the jury sought clarification on provocation.  Specifically, they asked:  according to section 570 of the juror instructions we would like clarification as to provocation.  Can this provocation come from other sources other than the suspect(s).  Parachini said he could not interpret the jury's request, which came in at 3:45 on Friday.

Where this all leads he said in terms of the jury composition is, relying on seat no, stated race and stated gender, there are 4 White females, 3 White men, 3 Latinas,  0 Latino males, 1 Asian Pacific female, and 1 male declined to state (juror no 54/seat 9)

The jury is actually scheduled to deliberate until 11:45 today and further notice will be given to media.  

Min. Keith just asked how should / will the victim's family be notified, in light of Ms. Johnson being disallowed into the courtroom by one minute's time today.  Parachini said the prosecutor's responsible to notify them but he will do his best to do so; he asked for a point of contact for the family.

A post verdict news conference by court is probably in the works but he's forwarding everyone to the Alamada County District Attorney's Office.

After the verdict, the DA in Oakland will make a statement; no media availability will be made by the prosecution team here in L.A.  Parachini made it clear that he's not representing the DA's office but is only helping to coordinate media for or with them.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Jury deliberations a critical stage for family of Oscar Grant III






Jury deliberations stalled today in People vs. Mehserle, the murder trial of the former Bay Area Rapid Transit District police officer (Johannes Mehserle) who shot and killed 22-year-old Oscar Grant, III. on January 1, 2009.

 
Today some activists and media reported to the courtroom before hearing that one juror called in sick and community activists/leaders in L.A. and Oakland stand ready to give their reactions to the verdict.

But the family of Oscar Grant, who mostly addressed media about trial proceedings over the last three weeks, took a rare opportunity to voice their concerns over other issues surrounding the trial.  Cephus Johnson, Grant's uncle, said today that they are in a very critical stage for various reasons.

"At this point it's very stressful.  There's much anxiety and, of course, much sleepness night.  This issue concerningthe fact that the jury has to start all over again regarding the deliberations has brought to our attention that we may have to stay another week," said Johnson, also referred to as "Uncle Bobby".

A lot of their stress also stems from financial hardship caused by taking time off work, the expenses of back-and-forth travel from Oakland to Los Angeles for more than 3-4 weeks now, and just the entire ordeal, from Grant's shooting, to having to hear the former BART officers lie in court, he said.  

For one, he told the Final Call and L.A.-based journalist Jasmyne Cannick (on this issue for the Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper and KJLH Radio) during an exclusive session in the Sentinel's conference room this morning, they are disappointed that they have not received support from the political sector, especially those that seem to be utilizing their names and the name of Oscar Grant.

Their claims "that they've actually been with this movement since the beginning has caused us to raise some questions of their true motives.  Besides the issue of the jury and the question of these new faces that we're seeing now that seem to have taken notice of the case causes us to raise questions as to what this is all about," Johnson said. 

 

Grant's mother, Wanda Johnson, attended the session, however, under advisement of her attorney, could not interview.  She was also accompanied by Student Minister Keith Muhammad (Muhammad Mosque #26B/Oakland), her brother, Kenny Johnson, Jack Bryson/father of 2 sons-Grant's friends/involved in the incident, Beatrice Muhammad (Student Protocol Directress, MM#26B) and Aidge Patterson (organizer with the L.A. Coalition for Justice for Oscar Grant).



"There have been people that have stood with us, a coalition of activists from Oakland and Los Angeles, they've stood with us, been with us, supported us, embraced us, loved us, even financially helped us in ways they could, been to court with us, and utilized their 1st Amendment right to speak to the injustice of police brutality and for that we are much indebted and thanks go forward to that community, and to that very few politicians and clergymen, and I mean very few, thanks, but to all of the others that have risen to the occasion now it really bothers me that now they can proudly state our name, and what they're doing, and how they're helping, and yet, we haven't even met them," Johnson said.

One of the 'new found friends' includes a non-profit organization out of the Bay Area that has so far raised some $5,000 in the name of Oscar Grant, Johnson said.  They found out about the foundation that is geared to help youth in Oakland over the 4th of July weekend. 

"That could be a good thing but the sad part is we knew nothing of this yet the solicitation of money has been advertised and implemented and thereby actually given, yet we're starving, trying to get here to L.A. without any real financial help.  It does affect us personally when Oscar Grant's name can be used for that purpose, but no one speaks to us as a family and even ask us or give an idea that this is something they might consider, so it's hurtful because we're straining to be here and we might have to be here another week," he said.

Johnson then openly thanked those who have backed the family and the movement for justice for Oscar Grant:

Councilwoman Desley Brooks-Oakland, Lynette Sweet and Carol Ward Allen (BART Board of Directors), Assemblyman Sandre Swanson for AB1586, J. Alfred Smith, Pastor, Allen Temple, Rev. Tommy Smith of Hayward, and the most faithful that they have come to truly love, Min. Keith Muhammad, whom he said has been at their side from the very beginning.  Grant said that others, like Pastor Gordon Humphreys, who kept his church doors at Olivet Missionary Baptist Church open for free since the incident, has allowed the community's town hall meetings to flow.

"The community needs to know that these are the types of people they can go to when there are true issues in the community that need to be expressed and for support," Grant said.

In Los Angeles, he and Min. Keith pointed out the L.A. Coalition for Justice for Oscar Grant, Student Minister Tony Muhammad (Nation of Islam Western Region Representative), Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad (the Urban Issues Breakfast Forum), and Dominique DiPrima (the Front Page @ KJLH), Rev. Lewis Logan (Ruach Christian Community Fellowship) among others.

Min. Keith proceeded to point out that the L.A. community needs to be as informed about the case as the Oakland community has been but the media has done a good job of keeping much of it out of the local press.

People need to know that Oscar Grant was killed within 3o seconds of a police officer yelling racial epithets at him.  The videos and other courtroom testimony contradicts much of the officers' statements and defense claims, he said.

"The devil is in the details and you'll find that there was a lot of devilishment that went on in this case. The coverups began immediately.  If there were not a video tape we would not be sitting here right now," Min. Keith said.

Jack Bryson, whose two sons, Jack and Nigel, were with Grant when he was killed almost 19 months ago, said he can't let this one go and that the system must hold BART and its former officers accountable (referring to since-fired officers Anthony Pirone - whose aggressive acts prompted 5 witnesses to begin filming his interaction with Grant and his friends on the train, and who called Grant a b---h a-- n----r, and Marysol Domenici.  Trial evidence and other videos revealed that there was no angry mob blocking her from reporting to the platform as she told investigators. 
 
"Each police officer and each expert that took the stand committed big time perjury just to stick together on White supremacy.  Remember Marion Jones?  They took her from her baby for six months because she said she didn't use steriods.  Oscar Grant was murdered and these officers were able to come into court and tell lie after lie after lie and I think this is something that the Justice Department should look into," Bryson said.

The L.A. Coalition for Justice for Oscar Grant has set up an info line for anyone wanting information on activities once the verdict hits.  

Text message the word TRIAL to 213-973-3434.  

At 5 p.m. on the day of the verdict there will be a mass action in Leimert Park in Los Angeles at 43rd and Degnan.

In Oakland, according to Final Call sources, a mass action is planned to take place at 14th and Broadway.

Look for post verdict coverage in the print edition of the Final Call Newspaper next week and back here.

Also, more on this interview will run in this week's issue of the L.A. Sentinel.

Peace.


Photos/Charlene Muhammad, Beatrice Muhammad

(White cap - Cephus "Uncle Bobby" Johnson / Grey suit-tan tie, Min. Keith Muhammad / Blue warm up jacket, Wanda Johnson / Blue t-shirt/Oscar Grant tattoo, Jack Bryson / Grey Oakland sweatshirt, Kenny Johnson / light blue t-shirt, Aidge Patterson / tan shirt/brown head wrap, Beatrice Muhammad)  Sis. Jasmyne Cannick (white shirt/hair locks) and I (headpiece) are at the other end of the table)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Oscar Grant murder trial

Will Grant murder trial be repeat of Rodney King verdict?

BY CHARLENE MUHAMMAD -NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT

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Demonstrators gather during an all day protest outside of courthouse in the Oscar Grant murder trial of former BART officer Johannes Mehserle. Photo: Charlene Muhammad
LOS ANGELES (FinalCall.com) - Closing arguments began in late June in the murder trial of the White former transit cop who shot an unarmed Black passenger in Oakland.

As a verdict nears, some analysts and activists wondered whether L.A. would see a repeat of “Rodney King.”

Rodney King is the Black motorist whose infamous 1991 videotaped beating by members of the Los Angeles Police Department drew national outrage. A predominantly White jury acquitted three of the officers, deadlocked on one, and set off six days of rioting throughout South L.A. The period became popularly referred to as the “1992 L.A. Rebellion” and the “Rodney King riots.”

“The acquittal of the officers that beat Rodney King triggered one of the worst riots in American history. If the jury with no Blacks acquits Mehserle, it will be silence in the community. It will come. It will go. You will hear angry statements from some youth leaders. You will hear angry statements from the relatives from Oscar Grant, but as far as community anger, rage, you will hear nothing,” predicted Dr. Earl Ofari Hutchinson, political commentator and talk radio host.

The reason is a lack of local and national media attention and what appears to be a lack of emotional engagement and public attention, except for a consistent contingent of youth led protests and scrutiny from community leaders and activists in the Bay Area since Johannes Mehserle shot 22-year-old Oscar Grant, III. on a station platform on Jan. 1, 2009, he said.

According to Dr. Hutchinson, one parallel is that White officers are accused of victimizing Black men, but a difference is there is no sense of a city on edge in the Grant murder as with Rodney King's beating.

The LAPD was on trial, not just the four officers who beat Mr. King, because of its long, well documented history of brutality against Blacks and Hispanics, Dr. Hutchinson told The Final Call.

The sordid history includes an almost relentless war with LAPD which spawned beatings, riots, brutality, and murders, but the analyst and writer felt the same relationship doesn't exist with BART.

“Rodney King was just waiting. King was not isolated. King was not an aberration. King was part of a pattern of abuse from a police department to a community. ... Those four officers that beat Rodney King weren't just seen as four rogue cops. They were seen as the face of a brutal police department but Mehserle is seen as just one bad cop,” Dr. Hutchinson said.

Aidge Patterson, an organizer with the L.A. Coalition for Justice for Oscar Grant, said the system has set the stage for a repeat of Rodney King by lying to people's faces.

“They're trying to tell us what our eyes see is not what the truth is. They're trying to cover this murder by another one of their foot soldiers up but at the same time I see an amazing effort of people across the state to have this cop locked up and let them know they don't have the ability to get away with it like they did back then,” he said.

“As the trial of Johannes Mehserle comes near its conclusion; the city of Oakland fears the response shown in L.A. after an acquittal in the beating of Rodney King. Those whose anger led them to the streets of Los Angeles to protest an unjust verdict were justified in anger. Oakland should learn that the road to peace is the proper administration of justice. Minister Louis Farrakhan teaches us that injustice creates an imbalance of mind; and when the mind is imbalanced, so too can be our actions,” said student Minister Keith Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam mosque in Oakland.


“Our hope is that city leadership will take courage, stand together, and demand justice. There is no need to wait for the verdict to call for peace and calm; demand justice now. This case has zero Black members of the jury. This case should have been monitored closely by the federal government. City leaders should stand on the mountain top and demand justice. Then the people may feel that government is on their side and not the side of rogue police, who are trained to cover their tracks,” he said.

“Remember, Johannes Mehserle is the first peace officer in the history of California to face a murder charge for unjustified homicide or murder. Remember, no peace officer in the country has ever been convicted for murder while on duty. Sean BellAmadou DialloElenor Bumpurs, and a long list of other police killings have all been considered by courts, justifiable homicides. Cities are paying millions of dollars to settle lawsuits; yet no criminal court has convicted an officer for murder.”

News media indicate the Oakland Police Department recently simulated a riot to prepare for the Mehserle verdict, but rebellions only occur when people get fed up with police injustice and terrorism, Mr. Patterson noted.

Instead of preparing for war against its own citizens, Oakland police should prepare to create better relationships in communities and a society that's just and better for everyone, he added. Instead, they would rather send the message to the people of Oakland that whatever the verdict is, there's nothing they can do about it, Mr. Patterson continued.

“They've made Johannes Mehserle into a victim in this case and he's nothing but a brutal killer.It's like they've been egging the people of Oakland on to smash on the people but they could have done this better. They could have put African Americans on the jury, even African Americans that like police, but they made it blatantly obvious that they've drawn a racist line in the sand,” Mr. Patterson said.

He believes a lack of media coverage of the first cop to be tried for murder in California was intended to quiet people down, the same way media refused to show bodies returning from wars." They learned from Rodney King how they're going to show these cases. This is obviously one of the most historic cases in the entire country and it should be on every news station, but they're good at keeping people ignorant.”

Teen Abuse

Teen Abuse: A Growing problem

BY CHARLENE MUHAMMAD AND NISA MUHAMMAD 

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‘We're raised in a culture that says it's okay for violence to be our way of [resolving] issues, so we focus on that. We don't know how to dialogue, negotiate.’
—Sulaiman Nuriddin

(FinalCall.com) - Once upon a time, a teen date involved seemingly harmless activities such as a trip for fast food and maybe the movies, but today, increasing numbers of teen girls are subjected to dating abuse and violence.

For 16-year-old Mia Williams, dating started out nicely. The young man was sweet and kind. She thought he was the right kind of guy for her, but things started to change. She was not sure what happened.

“He really wanted to do it (have sex) and said that if I loved him then I would want to do it too,” Miss Williams toldThe Final Call. That's when the trouble started. He became controlling and abusive, always telling me what to do, where to go and what I couldn't do. It got real crazy.”

“One day, when I just got fed up, I told him, ‘Look. You're not my father and I don't have to do what you say.' That's when he slapped me,” she said.

According to violence prevention advocates, this type of teen dating violence is on the rise among America's youth population.

Teen dating violence is a type of intimate physical, emotional, or sexual violence between people who are in a close relationship. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has determined it a public health problem that leads to poor performance in school, drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, depression, and even suicide.

According to the CDC, 72 percent of 8th and 9th graders reportedly “date” and 1 in 4 adolescents report verbal, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse from a dating partner each year. About 10 percent of students nationwide said they were physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past 12 months.

“I never thought I would be the girl getting hit by her boyfriend but I was. He made me think it was my fault and if I would just act right it wouldn't happen. I believed it too at first. Then I heard my mom talking to a friend of hers who was married and whose husband hit her and my mom told her it wasn't her fault,” said Miss Williams.

“That got me thinking about my situation and I told my mom. She hit the roof. She told me to break up with him and that she would get me help. I didn't even know I needed help,” she added.

Most people don't, according Cristina Escobar, senior coordinator of development and communications for Break the Cycle, which addresses dating violence exclusively. Usually when people think about unhealthy relationships, they think about adults, not youth But teens imitate adult behavior and are not immune to domestic violence, she said.

Ms. Escobar cautioned that dating violence is not restricted to children with low self-esteem, or who live in dysfunctional families. The reason people miss the seriousness of it is because there is a tendency to dismiss young relationships as puppy love and just a part of growing up.

Ms. Escobar explained that the problem can begin as early as 12- years-old and isolation is the easiest sign to spot. Youth might see their friends starting to withdraw from their friends, families, and activities that used to define them or give them pleasure, or drawing away from the world. One person's world gets smaller while the other person's world gets bigger.

Another early warning sign is control.

“A lot of relationships struggle and talk about who wears the pants and makes the decisions, but it's really looking for those instances where you feel you're constantly walking on eggshells, or whether it be in picking who you talk to, when you talk to them, what you wear, that feeling of constantly being on edge is really a strong warning sign that something's not right there,” Ms. Escobar told The Final Call.

Break the Cycle urges youth who find themselves in an abusive relationship to talk to a friend, parent, teacher, or counselor, someone they trust to support them and to create a safety plan ahead of time to avoid a serious, dangerous situation.

“We're raised in a culture that says it's okay for violence to be our way of [resolving] issues so we focus on that. We don't know how to dialogue, negotiate, or have conversations, so we grow up with these issues,” said Sulaiman Nuriddin, men's prevention program manager for Men Stopping Violence, which works to end men's violence toward women.

According to Mr. Nuriddin, teen dating violence does not just begin in the home from watching mom, dad, or primary caretakers, but it is also filtered in the community through schools, peer groups, fraternities, and then a micro-community of churches and media until it grows and grows.

Seventeen-year-old Dante Anderson never thought he would strike a girl, so when he did hit his girlfriend, he was as surprised as she was.

“I'm not sure what happened. I was angry and just hit her. I was immediately sorry and wanted to make things better. Things just got out of control and I lost it,” he told The Final Call.

According to Dr. Rozario Slack, a Chattanooga, Tennessee-based consultant who works with teen boys on developing healthy relationships, some guys feel that when girls say yes to sex, they have surrendered their sexuality and will do just about anything. When she finally feels empowered to say no, he thinks she is lying, he said.

Dr. Slack said that girls become objectified because when sex enters the relationship, boys' minds send them a message of entitlement and ownership. In addition, he said, the boy feels, “‘That's mine,' not ‘she's mine' ... She becomes property and in his mind ‘I can do whatever I want to her.'”

According to Lena Cole Dennis, founder of Communications Communities and Connections and former outreach and education director of the Jenesse Center, men could help put an end to such thoughts and abuse by teaching young males how to resolve conflicts within instead of striking out. They could also teach them how to defend themselves without being destructive.

Ms. Cole said that her own friends are petrified of having a healthy relationship discussion with their 12-year-old daughter because they do not want to ruin her innocence, but a conversation around healthy relationships does not have to just focus on sex, she said. They could be taught how to treat each other, how not to hit or talk badly about one another, and how to be secure in themselves around their friends.

“Relationships aren't always about sex! Society tells a little boy and girl that's going to be their girlfriend, their boyfriend, and we tell them about condoms, and they might not even be thinking about sex. That's teaching control,” Ms. Cole said.

(More information on teen dating and domestic violence warning signs and resources may be found at www.jenesse.org, www.breakthecycle.org, www.menstoppingviolence.org, or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.)