How to Get Racism Out of the Criminal Justice System
Michael Brown and Eric Garner died because of the actions of individual police officers, but “the broader issue is the excessive levels of contact that people of color have with the criminal justice system,” said Nazgol Ghandnoosh, research analyst for The Sentencing Project, in Washington. Ghandnoosh is author of the study, “Black Lives Matter: Eliminating Racial Inequity in the Criminal Justice System.” She said “excessive contact and excessive punishment happens at all stages” of the system, from arrest, trial, sentencing and incarceration.
NYPD Goes Machine Gun Crazy
Blacks and civil liberties advocates were shocked at New York City police commissioner Bill Bratton’s plans to establish a 350-man, machine-gun toting Strategic Response Group to deal with both terrorist attacks and peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstrations. Bratton has also endorsed raising the punishment for resisting arrest from a misdemeanor to a felony. Both measures are “public threats to protesters,” said Josmar Trujillo, of New Yorkers Against Bratton. If resisting arrest is made into a felony, it could act as “a checkmate” against claims of police brutality, said Trujillo, because it’s harder to sue cops for brutality when you’re facing felony charges.
The Long Death Penalty
“America’s prison problem isn’t going to be fixed by a few timid reforms around the edges,” said Kenneth Hartman, executive director of The Other Death Penalty Project, which advocates on behalf of the tens of thousands of men and women facing life in prison without possibility of parole. The nation must decide if it is wrong to dehumanize and torture human beings as a matter of policy, said Hartman. Nearly seven million Americans are under some form of criminal justice system control, a population larger than every U.S. city except New York.
Remembering Phil Africa
Memorial services were held for imprisoned Move Family member Phil Africa, who died under suspicious circumstances while serving a 30 to 100 year sentence in the 1978 death of a Philadelphia policeman. “His life is an example of true resistance,” said Pam Africa, a veteran organizer who is active with both the Move Family and the campaign to free political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal. Demonstrations are set for May 13 to mark the 30th anniversary of the police bombing of the Move Family home that killed 11 people, including women and children. “Stand up, continue to fight,” said Pam Africa. “We’re gonna shut this mother down” on May 13th.
“Sweet Mickey” Should Step Down in Haiti
U.S.-backed Haitian president Michel “Sweet Mickey” Martelly, who has been ruling mainly by decree, promises to hold elections by the end of the year. But, will they be free and fair? “He can’t hold even an honest carnival, much less an election,” said Kim Ives, an editor of Brooklyn-based Haiti Liberte newspaper, quoting Senator Moise Jean-Charles. Martelly was “shoe-horned” into the presidency by the United States and United Nations occupiers, in 2011. “That is why most of the opposition is calling for Martelly to step down and for the UN to leave before elections are held,” said Ives.
Towards a Socialist South Africa!
Irvin Jim, secretary general of South Africa’s metalworkers union, NUMSA, the nation’s largest union, recently granted a series of interviews with Paul Jay, of the Baltimore-based Real News Network. NUMSA is leading a campaign to form a genuinely socialist political party to challenge the pro-capitalist African National Congress government. “We need the full implementation of the Freedom Charter,” the 1955 document advocating collective ownership of basic industry and finance and redistribution of the country’s land, said Irvin Jim. The South African regime is becoming more repressive, he said. “We are championing the interests of the working class. Yes, there is a risk of being killed, but we can’t be preoccupied by that.”
Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 11:00am ET on PRN. Length: One hour.