Black Agenda Radio for Week of November 16, 2015
Prison Reformers Distort Facts to Make Obama Look Good
In 2013, President Obama’s Justice Department went into federal court to prevent the retroactive reduction in prison sentences for people convicted under the old crack cocaine laws. The case was U.S. v. Blewett. As a result, about 6,000 inmates were forced to spend additional years in prison. However, according to members of The Sentencing Project, a highly respected prison reform organization, President Obama should not be blamed for keeping thousands of offenders incarcerated under an admittedly racist law. “That was a decision made by lawyers studying constitutional law and applying that in a specific case,” said Sentencing Project advocacy counsel Jeremy Haile, at a telephone press briefing to push for passage of another bill that would – finally! – retroactively scale back crack cocaine sentences. BAR executive editor Glen Ford said Obama seemed to have one prison policy for the public, and another for the courts. “You certainly could make that interpretation,” replied Robert Craemer, a political consultant for the Sentencing Project. But, “whatever sins there may have been in the past, I think they are definitely committed” to passage of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, now before the U.S. Senate. “I’ve been told that by people at the very top of the administration – the White House,” said Craemer.
Black Is Back Coalition Holds Conference at Howard U.
The Russians are correct to help the Syrian government defend itself against U.S.-backed jihadists, said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations. The Coalition held a national conference at Howard University’s Blackburn Center, under the theme “Black Power Matters.” Much of the event focused on global developments. The U.S. “has funded every criminal with a gun and a bomb in the Middle East,” said Coalition chairman Omali Yeshitela. “The modern jihad that people are so upset about was created by the Carter regime” nearly 40 years ago.
Margaret Kimberley, senior columnist for Black Agenda Report, said Black people need to build a movement with a global perspective. “It’s Putin who has proved beyond any doubt that the United States was lying about wanting to get rid of ISIS,” she said. “We talk about Black Power mattering. But, if we don’t speak against imperialism then we’re not talking about the whole picture.”
One of the Coalition’s principal demands is Black Community Control of the Police. “It’s a demand that calls for the dismantling of the occupation army that the Black Panther Party identified and described back in 1966,” said BAR executive editor Glen Ford. However, much of the new crop of Black activists “don’t know the meaning of the word ‘demand.’ Movements are defined by their demands, and to that extent, the two factions that go under the heading BlackLivesMatter network and Campaign Zero have dropped out of the movement and dropped – or jumped, or leaped – into the Democratic Party.”
Herdosia Bentum, president of the International Uhuru Movement, who hails from Ferguson, Missouri, is coordinating a campaign to charge the U.S. with domestic genocide against Afrikans. The project involves knocking on lots of doors. “The most important thing as an organizer is going to those houses and sitting down and talking to people,” said Bentum. “Because, they understand that one of the biggest crimes is poverty.”
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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.