Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
New York Cops Stop Record Numbers of Blacks and Latinos – for Nothing

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

If you're Black and walking the streets of New York City, be careful not to make any "furtive" moves, and make sure not to wear clothing that is "inappropriate for the season" or clothes "commonly used in a crime." The cops consider such behavior "reasonable suspicion" to stop and frisk pedestrians, 90 percent of whom happen to be non-white. This year, the police are on their way to stopping 628,000 persons - joining the two million that have been stopped and frisked since 2004.

New York Cops Stop Record Numbers of Blacks and Latinos – for Nothing

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Making a ‘furtive’ move or wearing a jacket the cops think is out of season is good reason to stop a person on the streets of New York.”

Even as civil libertarians push their suit to halt arbitrary stop-and-frisks, New York City cops are on the way to breaking all records for sweeping Blacks and Latinos from the streets. According to the police department’s own data, at the pace they are going, cops will have stopped, questioned and frisked almost 628,000 persons by the end of the year – more than the whole population of Boston. Last year, stop-and-frisks numbered 531,000 – more than the population of Atlanta. In the years 2004 through 2008, the NYPD stopped almost two million people on the streets. This may be the largest and longest sustained dragnet in urban history, including under conditions of martial law.

Despite all that police activity – and the seething anger it generates in targeted neighborhoods – only one out of ten stops results in an arrest or even a summons. But it’s not as if the police aren’t trying to arrest as many non-whites as possible. Blacks consistently number around half of those stopped by police – although making up only about a quarter of the population. Whites hover around 10 percent of those stopped on the street, while comprising 45 percent of all New Yorkers.

About one hundred thousand more people are stopped and frisked than are arrested the old fashioned way, based on probable cause. The street stops are supposedly based on the lower standard of “reasonable suspicion” – but it’s a reasoning only understandable to police and racists. In order to make the practice appear reasonable, the cops give out cards that explain the kind of behavior that supposedly leads to a stop-and-frisk. It includes:

carrying what appears to be a weapon”;

creating “sights or sounds suggestive of criminal activity” such as ringing an alarm, or running from a crime scene;

making “furtive movements”; and

wearing clothes “inappropriate for the season” or clothes “commonly used in a crime”

In the years 2004 through 2008, the NYPD stopped almost two million people on the streets.”

So, making a “furtive” move or wearing a jacket the cops think is out of season is good reason to stop a person on the streets of New York. In fact, any excuse will do, if you’re Black.

It is this type of institutionalized police behavior that leads inevitably to mass Black incarceration. The process begins with hyper-surveillance of Blacks and browns. Arbitrary stops lead to arbitrary arrests of the unlucky ten percent; to arbitrarily severe charges, followed by higher Black conviction rates and longer sentences under harsher circumstances. The end result is total community devastation. But it all starts with the cops on the block.

Crime has been way down in New York for a very long time. But that doesn’t matter to the police, who justify their racially selective behavior no matter what the crime rate is. If crime is up, that means more stops are needed. If crime is down, the cops say that’s because of the street stops. The only consistent factor is race – the defining element of American life.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.



Direct download: 20090520_gf_nypd.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:24am EDT

Hypocritical Obama “Two-Step” on Human Rights and Racism

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

One step backward: last month, the Obama administration sabotaged the Durban II anti-racism conference, by first watering down the event's language and then refusing to participate. The first Black president of the United States created a coalition of European and white settler regimes - the same powers that inflicted centuries of racist terror on the planet - in defense of the racist Israeli regime. One step forward: Obama expects to steal a public relations coup by joining the UN's Human Rights Council - where he will doubtless pursue the same status quo policies..

Hypocritical Obama “Two-Step” on Human Rights and Racism

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The president thinks he can wash away the shame of his sabotaging of one United Nations anti-racism conference, at Durban.”

Last month, President Obama insulted people of color at home and abroad by boycotting an international conference on racism, known as Durban II. The shameful U.S. action opened the door for Washington’s allies to also pull out of the event, creating a spectacle in which the European and white settler regimes that were responsible for unleashing African slavery and the color-line on the world in the first place, sabotaged a conference to combat the legacies of their crimes. The Durban II affair was doubly bizarre, in that it was orchestrated by the first Black president of the United States. The common perception was that the primary beneficiary of the U.S. boycott, was Israel. But in fact, President Obama betrayed all the victims and the descendants of victims of the racist terror that ravaged every corner of the planet for centuries before Israel was ever founded – not the least of which are the African American descendants of slave trade.

Obama’s main operative in sabotaging the Durban II conference was Samantha Power, who sits on his National Security Council. Power and United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice are the administration’s principal advocates of so-called “humanitarian” military intervention, primarily in Africa. Both women have very selective definitions of the term “genocide,” effectively absolving the U.S. of genocide or crimes against humanity while endlessly lobbying for military action against Sudan and other nations in Africa.

In both foreign and domestic policy, Barack Obama’s doctrine is, Let bygones be bygones.”

Last month, as Samantha Power assured American Zionists that the U.S. would protect Israel from condemnation at the Durban conference, she said her boss would find another venue to explain to the world his “commitments to combating racism and discrimination.” That venue is almost certainly the Human Rights Council of the United Nations – which the United States recently joined after snubbing the Council for years under the Bush regime. President Obama assured United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that he would work through the Human Rights Council on issues of racial discrimination – after he boycotted Durban II.

So, this is what Obama is up to. The president thinks he can wash away the shame of his sabotaging of one United Nations anti-racism conference, at Durban, by joining another organ of the United Nations – the Human Rights Council. Sometime soon, the White House public relations machine will pour on the hype, announcing that Obama has ushered in a “brand new day” in U.S. human rights policy by joining the Human Rights Council. And as sure as the sun rises, the same organizations that lamented Obama’s behavior surrounding Durban II, will issue press releases full of praise for the administration. It is also just as certain that the United States will use its new seat on the Human Rights Council to protect Israel from righteous condemnation for its racist treatment of Palestinians, and to block any calls for reparations to African nations and African descended peoples for the monstrous crimes of slavery and colonialism. In both foreign and domestic policy, Barack Obama’s doctrine is, Let bygones be bygones. Effectively, that puts him on the side of those who profit from racism, past, present and future.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20090520_gf_humanrights.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:21am EDT

Torture lawyers Ought To Be Disbarred

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

President Obama considers U.S. use of torture as an instrument of national policy is best relegated to the past, unpunished - even though a web of international treaties and laws, and U.S. statutes, obligate the executive branch to prosecute the guilty. It has been left to a coalition of activist groups to pursue some small measure of punishment for the 12 Bush lawyers that conspired to make torture, legal. The coalition has filed complaints with state bar associations to pull the torture lawyers' licenses.

Torture lawyers Ought To Be Disbarred

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Former Attorneys General John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales and Michael Mukasey might lose their license.”

Barack Obama is a Constitutional lawyer, but he certainly doesn’t behave like one. In fact, no citizen that believed in the rule of law would say that the U.S. government should, in effect “move on” rather than “dwell on the past” when serious crimes have been committed. Yet that is the president’s effective position regarding torture. The problem is, Obama doesn’t have the legal option to take that position, any more than a district attorney can refuse to prosecute a clear case of homicide simply because doing so might cause some people to get upset.

In the case of use of torture as an instrument of U.S. policy, the United States is obligated by a web of treaties, international law, U.S. criminal law and American military law to prosecute war crimes – one of which is torture. The obligation to prosecute falls to the executive branch of government. That means the buck stops with the president – and he can’t pass on it for domestic political convenience. To do so amounts to violation of myriad laws and treaties. That is, the president himself becomes a criminal when he fails to carry out his duty to enforce the laws.

Unfortunately, the United States thinks it is above the law – a kind of law-free zone. In a sense, the United States is like one big Dodge City, making up the law as it goes along. Its presidents enforce or break the law, as suits them. This applies as much to Barack Obama, as to George Bush, as is shown by Obama’s unilateral forgiveness of torture crimes.

One would think that a Constitutional lawyer – of all professions – would be most anxious to protect that document from being stepped on, especially by fellow attorneys. But, Barack Obama considers the misdeeds of other lawyers in justifying torture and other war crimes to be so much clutter that he’d prefer to be rid of.

Barack Obama doesn’t seem to grasp the monstrousness of the offense.”

So, the citizens are left to their own devices in the case of the torture lawyers – the 12 men who mangled and mutilated the law to make that which was illegal, legal, on behalf of their boss, George Bush. A coalition of organizations with more than one million members has filed ethics complaints with state bar associations seeking to have Bush’s lawyers’ licenses taken away. Three of the twelve are former U.S. Attorneys General: John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales and Michael Mukasey

The coalition calls itself the Velvet Revolution, and includes various anti-war and progressive groups. Their lawyer, Kevin Zeese, provides this legal analogy: “Just as the bar would suspend an attorney who advised a police officer to torture and brutalize a detained immigrant or criminal defendant, the bar must suspend these attorneys for advocating and causing the torture of war detainees.” If Bush’s lawyers wind up being disbarred, they would be getting off easy. A report by human rights researchers says dozens of detainees died during or after interrogation sessions. At least eight were tortured to death. That’s a direct link to capital war crimes. Barack Obama doesn’t seem to grasp the monstrousness of the offense. To him, its just politics. He has abdicated his legal responsibilities in the matter, and lost all moral standing.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.



Direct download: 20090520_gf_DisbarTorturers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:02am EDT