Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

New York City - a place imagined as a center of liberality - is a mega-human rights violator, where 8:30pm curfews are enforced to make minority neighborhoods into "ghost towns." In the Bedford-Stuyvesant section, police "are told to make arrests for incidents they have not seen and probably didn't happen, all to meet quotas and clear the streets."

 

New York City Beats Arizona Hands Down in Police Abuse of Citizens

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"The NYPD is without a doubt the worst violator of human rights in the United States - by volume."

There is a growing crime wave on the streets of New York City, a public menace that has assaulted the bodies and minds of nearly 3 million residents in the last six years. The source of the crime wave is the NYPD, without a doubt the worst violator of human rights in the United States - by volume - and arguably the most racist police force of any major city.

The ringleader of this crime wave is multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the once-Republican now independent mayor of New York since 2001 and - in quantitative terms - the nation's worst human rights abuser. Every year since 2004, Mayor Bloomberg has demanded, and gotten, a bigger body count of detained New Yorkers: some 575,000 persons stopped-and frisked in 2009, nearly 90 percent of them Black and brown.

What civil libertarians fear will happen in Arizona under that state's new, anti-immigrant laws, has been happening every day to Black and Latino residents of New York. Men, women and children are routinely stopped and often arrested right in front of their homes and while sitting on their stoops. Many have been stopped tens or scores of times by cops working under harsh quotas and under orders to clear the streets of everyone by 8:30 at night - a de facto and illegal curfew on the Black and the poor - in, of all places, New York, the City That Never Sleeps.

The horror stories are finally reaching the general public because of recordings made secretly and delivered to the Village Voice newspaper by a disgruntled cop. The tapes, recorded in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn over a 17-month period, reveal a lawless police department in which patrol cops are instructed to arrest people first and make up charges against them, later. Cops are told to make arrests for incidents they have not seen and probably didn't happen, all to meet quotas and clear the streets. One particularly oppressive and profane supervisor summed it up for his men: "I want a ghost town.... The less people on the street, the easier our job will be."

"Cops are instructed to arrest people first and make up charges against them, later."

Another supervisor is heard saying, "They don't own the block. We own the block. They might live here, but we own the block. We own the streets, here."

Community members that complain about police abuse are vilified as "the bad guys."

The police department operates like a hate machine, grooming officers to hate residents and giving residents every reason to hate the police. One young man interviewed by the Village Voice said he has been stopped 14 times just since New Years Day.  "You can't stand on the sidewalk and talk or sit on someone's stoop," he says.

The sheer intensity and duration of the six-year police assault on poor, minority neighborhoods, in a city where gentrification is a public policy priority, is reason to suspect that Mayor Bloomberg's reign of terror is designed to drive out New York's unwanted classes. 

On tape, Bloomberg's cops rant and rave that they'd like to "blow up" buildings and make streets into "ghost towns." And then their boss can bring in a new population - and the cops can start acting like human beings, again.

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: 20100526_gf_NYPD.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:18pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

Rev. Al Sharpton preached that her death was a "breaking point" - but he's said that too many times before. Even the police execution of a child fails as a catalyst for change. "These issues are the result of a legacy of enslavement which has seemingly permanently inscribed an archetype of Black people as property and predators."

Her Name Was Aiyana Jones

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared A. Ball, Ph.D.

"Police brutality and mass incarceration are just not seen by Black leadership as issues worthy of popular attention."

Her name was Aiyana Jones. She was 7, Black, in a poor family, living in Detroit and was killed by the police. She was the victim of an unbroken and thoroughly vicious cycle of police brutality, followed by temporary, short-lived outcry and then the soon-to-come oppressive silence or worse, acceptance. Most will never hear the story, fewer will hear and follow up on it and fewer still will have yet another name to list during self-aggrandizing moments on podia, panels or in various forms of media commentary. The national eulogizer Al Sharpton spoke at Aiyana's funeral this week and said, again, that "this child is the breaking point... enough is enough" which I am sure a search would show he has said in one form or another at the never-ending cavalcade of funerals he does. But is it really enough? Is Aiyana really a "breaking point?" Absolutely not and we know it.

Precise numbers are hard to pin down but one study concluded that from 1990-2005 an average of one person per day was killed by the police. And in Chicago, for example, of the 84 people killed by police since 2000 only one was determined to be unjustified. But between under-reporting and unjust legal conclusions of incidents that are reported there remains this unbroken cycle. This cycle is irritatingly too easy to foresee and has, of course, already begun in the case of Aiyana Jones. This includes the obligatory and already mentioned Sharpton eulogy, followed by some basic local and national news coverage. Some have raised important questions about, for instance, the television show "The First 48" which was there filming the police raid which led to Aiyana's death and the role of what has to be euphemistically called "reality" t.v. in general in encouraging more action or prompting a greater degree of excessive behavior among the police. Some have asked about the "muted media" whose lack of substantive coverage prevents an appropriate societal education about police brutality or race in America. Of course, others prefer to focus on allegations that the Jones family was not well liked in their community and were themselves seen as a bad element, especially since the police were there looking for a murder suspect who was found either in or right next to the Jones household.

"One study concluded that from 1990-2005 an average of one person per day was killed by the police."

But other news reported recently speaks to the true nature of this cycle. For example, Black Agenda Report carried a story last week that was a follow up to the Jena Six case, the last major pre-Haiti earthquake cause celebre, which showed that rather than progress there has only been further repression and targeting of families and individuals who supported the six Black victims of that case. The federal probe into police killings of Black people in post-Katrina New Orleans is still on-going more than 5 years later.

And Jon Burge, the former Chicago police chief who "ran a torture ring that abused approximately 200 suspects" during the 1970s and 80s, finally goes on trial this week, decades later.

During a recent discussion with the powerful sibling duo of Michelle and Leslie Alexander whose scholarship and activism centers around the history of criminalizing Blackness the two made the point that these issues are the result of a legacy of enslavement which has seemingly permanently inscribed an archetype of Black people as property and predators demanding levels of "social control" which are only viewed as extreme or unjust if applied outside that context or outside those communities. They also both noted the "human rights nightmare" of police brutality and mass incarceration are just not seen by Black leadership as issues worthy of popular attention precisely because they often involve segments of our communities we'd rather escape from or simply not acknowledge. It is the concern summarized by Obama's willingness to defend his similarly-classed Skip Gates while dismissing as issues the killings of the under-classed Sean Bell or Oscar Grant. And it is also why this cycle is so vicious and why it is predictable that this little girls name will soon be added to the list of the forgotten. Her name was Aiyana Jones.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Jared Ball. Online go to www.blackagendareport.com.

Jared Ball can be reached at jared.ball@morgan.edu

Direct download: 20100529_jb_ayana_jones.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:14pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It was like pulling teeth, but Tea Party star Rand Paul finally blurted out his core, racist ideology in front of national TV cameras.  Property rights trump Black rights, every time. "White supremacy is the connective link that holds the 'Tea Party' together - that, and relentless media coverage."

 

Rand Paul Tells On Self and Fellow Tea Partyers

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"White people in the aggregate will try to preserve the essential elements of a White Man's Country in perpetuity unless the state intervenes."

Finally, a moment of clarity in American politics! Rand Paul, the Tea Party champion and winner of the Republican senatorial nomination from Kentucky, thinks business owners have the inalienable right to refuse service to Black people. It only took a few minutes for MSNBC's liberal-minded Rachel Maddow to pry the truth out of Paul - to make him elocute his racist beliefs before a national audience. What an idiot, say pundits of the left and right. If only Rand Paul had stuck with the code words that respectable white Republicans and Democrats deploy to sanitize an essentially racist American political conversation, he would still be the media's fair-haired boy. Instead, he's now the "Mad Hatter" - for blurting out on Maddow's show beliefs he and his Texas congressman father, Ron Paul, have always held, and which have served both men well in the white nationalist movement called the Tea Party.

Father and son Paul have never made a secret of their bedrock belief that the right to do whatever one wants with one's private property is the fountainhead of their of liberty. It is an idea fundamentally at odds with evolving human values, an obstacle to the advance of civilization, itself - but one that resonates deeply among whites who pine for the days when Blacks were the collective property of the white citizenry. "Our niggras," as the white folks used to say.

"Property rights is a legal construct to preserve what's left of a White Man's Country."

Just as "states' rights" was polite political cover for slavery and, later, legal segregation, so is property rights the legal construct to conserve what's left of a White Man's Country. That's what the Tea Party's kind of "conservatism" is all about. White supremacy is the connective link that holds the "Tea Party" together - that, and relentless media coverage.

Fox News anchor John Stossel last week expanded on Rand Paul's racist opening, to declare that elements of the 1964 Civil Rights Act should be repealed. Activists at the Internet-based Color of Change are calling for Stossel's head, or woe be unto Fox News - as if Fox does not thrive in a racist environment. Color of Change says, correctly, that "market forces," left to their own devices, would have perpetuated Jim Crow segregation, since whites overwhelmingly preferred to shop and travel and dine in white-only environments. Which is to say, that white people in the aggregate will try to preserve the essential elements of a White Man's Country in perpetuity unless the state intervenes. The market is responding to a racist demand.

There is a significant demand among white Americans to rid their lives of Black people. That's why Blacks are more segregated in housing and schooling than 40 years ago, and why about half of U.S. prison inmates are Black. Whites demand that it be so, in the economic and political marketplace.

Rand Paul seems to be sorry that he threw his Tea Party mob too much red meat. He says he can live with the Civil Rights Act, despite principled objections. And I'm sure he can. Money can still buy distance from all but a few Black people. The White Man's Country is still a going concern.

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: 20100526_gf_FoxAndPaul.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:08pm EDT