Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
Justice Dept Refuses For 20 Years To Comply With Federal Law Requiring It To Gather National Police Brutality Stats

Justice Dept Refuses For 20 Years To Comply With Federal Law Requiring It To Gather National Police Brutality Stats

A BA Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

We're all supposed to be impressed with the fact that Attorney General Eric Holder parachuted into Ferguson MO the other day to wrap his arms around the local top black cop and get briefed on the pending federal investigation into the police killing of Michael Brown. But we shouldn't be.

For the last 20 years, since 1994, Violent Crime Control & Law Enforcement Act obligates the Department of Justice to collect statistics on the extent of brutality and excessive force used by police officers, and to make those findings available to the public. 20 years down the road no such stats exist, because the Justice Departments of the Clinton, the Bush and the Obama administrations have all simply ignored the law and refuse even to try to gather the information. Let me say this again: the Clinton Justice Department defied the law and refused to gather national stats on police misconduct. The Bush Justice Department thumbed its nose at the law and also refused to gather national stats on police misconduct, and now the first black attorney general, who sometimes even utters the phrase “mass incarceration”, which he recently discovered, selected by the first black president who says if he had a son, his son could be Trayvon Martin – Eric Holder and Barack Obama have likewise shown no interest whatsoever in fulfilling their legal duty when it comes to assembling a national database of police misconduct.

 

This should not surprise the president's apologists, who will surely counsel us that he has to be president of all the people, including the police. Everybody knows black and brown people are the disproportionate targets of police violence, so enforcing laws which particularly benefit black and brown communities are something we must not expect. Perhaps after the president leaves office, they'll tell us, he'll speak out more forcefully on this. Maybe the “My Brothers Keeper” initiative can get some charitable dollars to organizations like , or PUSH or the Urban League to help more of our young boys to pull their pants up so they won't get beat down.

Let's get real. The Republicans haven't stopped Obama and Holder from doing this, they stopped themselves. Like every cop on the beat, the Obama administration chooses which laws to enforce, which ones to bend and in what direction, and which ones to ignore. Obama's DOJ has resurrected the century old Espionage Act, not to prosecute spies, but to threaten and to imprison whistleblowers who tell the truth to reporters, and to journalists themselves if they do not reveal their sources with decades in prison, like Chelsea Manning, and on so-called “secret evidence.” So when you think about it, it's entirely logical that a president and attorney general who place such a high priority on protecting their torturers, their bankster friends, and the official wrongdoers of past and future administrations should want to protect the police from scrutiny as well.

It's time to shed some illusions, not just about this president but about the whole political class that claims he or any president can be “held accountable.” Barack Obama and his Justice Department are no more interested in justice than the administrations of ten presidents before him, and uncritical black and brown support has made this president less accountable to black and brown people than any in living memory.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and remember --- Facebook and Twitter don't necessarily show you everything we or similar sources publish. The only way to keep up on the latest Black Agenda Report is to subscribe to our free weekly email updates at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe. That's www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a state committee member of the GA Green Party. He can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
Direct download: 20140827_bd_DOJ_scofflaws.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:52pm EDT

Organizing 101: Don't Do Another Ferguson March or Rally Without Getting The Digits

Organizing 101: Don't Do Another Ferguson March or Rally Without Getting The Digits

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

At a meeting I attended last weekend, a lady told me an inspiring story, but not as inspiring as it should have been.

In a social media exchange, somebody asked her if an event on the Ferguson murder was happening nearby. Probably not, she replied, and suggested the questioner put one together. She did just that, starting a Facebook page, and hawking it on Twitter and other social media platforms. With only a few days lead time, a couple hundred people showed up. They sang, they chanted, they felt the strength that only comes from connecting with others in a just cause. And they dispersed.

Did anybody pass out a sign in sheet, I asked? Did you get the digits of the folks that showed up? I asked this because getting those digits is the first lesson in organizing 101, it's what we did before anybody ever heard of social media. Back in the day if we got 4 people, or 40, or 400, we got those digits.

I also asked because Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, causes.com, change.org and other social media platforms DO NOT give the organizers of petitions or events ANY of the contact information on the people you're supposedly “organizing” because the corporate social media business model ain't never been about helping YOU do good, it's about mapping the people you touch, the people you influence and who influence you so they can sell that to marketers.

All the social media platforms can and do manipulate their algorithms and hashtags for commercial purposes, and their systems are private property. If they wanted to squelch your political activism tomorrow, or just show you more cat videos, or if the people who turned out last time simply were not on Facebook or Twitter for a day or two, they might never know about the next meeting or demonstration or even the murder that prompted it.

The answer to my “did you get the digits” question was “no”. Nobody passed a petition, a sign-in sheet or volunteer cards. Nobody got anybody's email, phone numbers or the best times to call.

In fairness it's an easy mistake to make, but a costly one. Remember the Million Man March? Organizers remembered to pass the hat but didn't pass a sign-in sheet, so there was no Million Man Mailing List or phone tree. Talk about missed opportunities. Most Occupy encampments didn't take names or contact info either.

When you have an event, publicized by social media or the radio, like so many of the Troy Davis and Trayvon Martin and Ferguson and other happenings, and you don't get those digits you are completely at the mercy of Twitter, Facebook or the radio station to recontact those people. Radio is a great way to get a crowd, but you rarely have access. Also you may have noticed that whenever radio stations take the lead, they put the Al Sharptons or their local equivalents at the head of the crowd. If you don't want to listen to those guys, you gotta get your own list, so you can get your own crowd. Most people are not already affiliated with any existing organization. That's a piece of Organizing 101 as well.

I'm not saying don't use corporate social media or radio when you can get it. But take it from an old school organizer: if you're depending on Twitter, on Facebook, on corporate social media and the radio to get your crowd and you don't pass a petition, a sign in sheet to enable you to keep in direct touch, or have the most enthusiastic among them sign volunteer cards you ain't got no movement, because YOU cannot MOVE it, only they can, and only when, where and for as long as THEY want to.

You want a movement – every crowd, every meeting, every flashmob – you get those digits.

Next week we'll talk a little about Organizing 102... what to do with them.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and remember --- Facebook and Twitter don't necessarily show you everything we or similar sources publish. The only way to keep up on the latest Black Agenda Report is to subscribe to our free weekly email updates at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe. That's www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a state committee member of the GA Green Party. He can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
Direct download: 20140827_bd_get_those_digits.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:34pm EDT

Obama Schemes to Attack Syria, Under the Guise of Fighting ISIS

Obama Schemes to Attack Syria, Under the Guise of Fighting ISIS

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“Nobody wants ISIS defeated more than Syria and its soldiers.”

President Obama is preparing to do something horrifically dangerous in Syria and Iraq. The rise of ISIS has crippled the empire’s decade’s old strategy of deploying Islamic fundamentalist fighters to do its dirty work in the Arab and Muslim world. ISIS, the Frankenstein birthed in the cauldron of America’s quest for regime change in Syria, has turned on its U.S., Saudi, Qatari and Turkish masters to establish its own caliphate, to which thousands of other Islamist fighters are flocking. Even U.S. corporate media now acknowledge that the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels that Obama wants to shovel $500 million at, are virtually non-existent. They were always a mirage, creatures of western propaganda. The Islamists were the only force that could challenge the Syrian army on the battlefield, and now that they are rallying to ISIS, or running away, Obama does not know which way to turn.

Certainly, the U.S. can bomb ISIS positions in Syria, and is already making preparations to do so, but that is not the war Obama wanted to fight. Three years ago, when Obama launched his dirty war against Syria, the plan was for Muslim jihadists to shed their blood to overthrow President Assad. Once the filthy deed was done, the jihadists were expected to allow NATO and the corrupt kings of the Arabian peninsula to pick the next rulers of Syria. The CIA was playing Lawrence of Arabia, using the jihadists as cannon fodder, to be cast aside when it came time to split up the spoils.

Such was also the plan in Libya, where NATO and the same gang of royal Arabian thieves funded and armed the overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. The Libyan jihadists have also failed to cooperate with the empire’s scheme.

The global jihadist network that the Americans and Saudis created in the 1980s has declared its independence, and Washington has nothing to replace them. American boots on the ground are unacceptable to both the people of the region and the U.S. public. Obama and his minions say the U.S. and its allies will crush ISIS – but that will be like smothering one’s own child in its crib, and would remove all hope of the U.S. achieving its strategic goal of regime change in Syria.

Watch for the Big Switch

If Obama was serious about wanting to crush ISIS, the best and most logical ally would be Syrian President Assad, whose army has so far prevailed against every flavor of jihadist the U.S. has been able to throw at it, including ISIS in its previous incarnations. Nobody wants ISIS defeated more than Syria and its soldiers, more of whom have died in this U.S.-engineered war than any other group, civilian or rebels. If making the region safe from ISIS were the goal, Obama would coordinate his moves with the Syrian military. But he’s lying – just as the Bush administration lied to make the American people believe that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11. The U.S. goal was not to avenge 9/11, but to invade Iraq. In the same way, Obama is compelled to respond to the defection of ISIS from western control, but his goal remains to overthrow President Assad. And, he will tell any lie, or combinations of lies, to somehow turn U.S. bombs on the Syrian government, under the guise of fighting ISIS. You can bet that the CIA is burning the midnight oil, seeking a pretext to turn this strategic U.S. defeat into an excuse to directly attack Syria. And that’s what makes this moment so dangerous.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20140827_gf_ObamaISIS.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:49am EDT