Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
FBI Chief Gets the “Ferguson Effect” All Wrong

FBI Chief Gets the “Ferguson Effect” All Wrong

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

In Comey’s mind, there is no such thing as mass incarceration.”

FBI Director James Comey put his boss in an uncomfortable position this week, blaming the movement against police brutality in Black America for increases in crime in some cities. Comey was talking about the so-called “Ferguson Effect,” the theory that intensified scrutiny of police since the rebellions in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore has caused cops to be less aggressive in carrying out their duties, allowing crime to flourish. The FBI chief painted a picture of a digitalFort Apache, the Bronx, with cops cowering in their squad cars “surrounded by young people with mobile phone cameras held high,” waiting to capture them on video. Comey said the cops feel like they’re “under siege,” and are reluctant to get out of their cars.

Actually, I think that’s a very pretty picture, and I wish it were the case everywhere in Black America. In the next scene of that movie, the occupation-army-in-blue would turn around and drive back to the suburbs where they live, never to return – and Black folks would take up the task of providing security for their own communities. Now, that would be real “community policing.”

Director Comey also put himself, at least rhetorically, on the wrong side of the White House when he questioned the very existence of “mass incarceration” in the United States. The U.S. prison population has grown eight-fold since 1970 but, as Comey points out, each of these prisoners has been locked up one at a time. Therefore, in Comey’s mind, there is no such thing as mass incarceration.

Obama has brought not a single federal prosecution against killer cops.”

All this is quite embarrassing to the Obama administration, whose job is to convince Black people that a kinder, gentler police force is on the way and mass Black incarceration is nearing an end, and that all this can happen without fundamentally changing power relationships in America. It’s a scam, of course. The administration’s version of community policing would actually increase police penetration of the Black community, in the guise of community relations, multiplying the points of contact between police and the people. Pro-active policing merges with predictive policing, which is racial profiling on steroids. Obama is only seeking to put a smiling face on an even more intrusive, higher tech Mass Black Incarceration State.

The cops shouldn’t be so nervous. Obama has brought not a single federal prosecution against killer cops. Police impunity is not threatened in any way by his so-called reforms – most of which have been recommended by the cops, themselves. Obama and his political twin, Hillary Clinton, want to strengthen the grip of police power, by putting Black people back to sleep.

The only group that can be counted on not to cooperate is the Black street. Those young Black folks that FBI Director Comey talked about are armed with their phone cameras – and that’s not the only tool that Black hands can hold, a lesson learned with the first modern Black urban rebellion in Harlem, in 1935, and re-learned over the past year in Ferguson and Baltimore.

The next chapter of Black history will be written in the streets. The effects will be bigger than Ferguson.

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

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20151028_gf_FergusonEffect.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:51am EDT

 

Find Out What the “Or Else” Is: March with the Black Is Back Coalition in Washington, Nov. 7

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“The only way to shield Black children from killer cops is through Black Community Control of the Police.

The struggle for justice begins with a demand. Not with an empty threat that everyone knows is a bluff – like the Nation of Islam’s “Justice or Else” bait-and-switch, which left hundreds of thousands of Black people dangling in the Washington Mall with no hint of direction for the future. And, we definitely don’t stand a chance of getting justice by holding racial sensitivity sessions with an infinitely corrupt, profoundly racist war criminal like Hillary Clinton. Who cares what goes on in her wicked mind – a mind we already know too well, based on decades of experience.

What we know is that “Power concedes nothing without a demand – it never has and it never will.” Frederick Douglass’s voice resounds across the generations, yet presidential candidates are allowed – no, beseeched! – to come up with their own ideas for bringing justice to Black people, without having to grapple with actual Black people’s demands. And we know that an aging Muslim minister can summon a million Black people as a backdrop, speak for two hours, and make not one substantive demand of those in Power.

The Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations has a demand: Black Community Control of the Police – now, and in every Black community in the United States. The Black Is Back Coalition will rally and march on the White House on Saturday, November 7, as it has every year since 2009. This year, the theme is “Black Power Matters” – because the power of a mobilized people is the hammer that backs up the demand for Black Community Control of the Police.

“Impunity is the law of the land.”

It’s the proper demand for Tamir Rice, whose murder at the age of 12 by a Cleveland cop has been declared a “reasonable shooting” by two law enforcement “experts.” The only way to shield Black children from killer cops is through Black Community Control of the Police. That’s why Black Power Matters – because only Black Power can ensure that Black Lives Matter.

So far this year, the police have shot dead 789 people, 28 of them unarmed Black people. But only 12 police officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter, and not one officer has been convicted this year. Impunity is the law of the land, and will always be so until we demand, and then seize, Black Community Control of the Police.

How is Black Community Control of the Police achieved? With great difficulty, and sacrifice, and disruption of the ruling order – because it is the ruling order that is killing us. That’s why, on the Sunday, November 8, the day after the rally and march on the White House, the Black Is Back Coalition will convene a conference at the Blackburn Center Auditorium, at Howard University, to discuss concrete strategies for ending the reign of terror, poverty, miseducation and mass incarceration that has been methodically inflicted on Black America.

Black Community Control of the Police is the most fundamental demand that can be made at this juncture in history – and Black lives will only matter if Black Power Matters. Make it matter, on November 7, in Washington.

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

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

For information about the Black Is Back Coalition and the November 7 march on the White House, go to http://www.blackisbackcoalition.org

 

Direct download: 20151021_gf_BlackIsBackMarch.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:49am EDT

Confederate Flag Wavers Arrested Under Law Designed to Imprison Blacks

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Every law that can be abused for political purposes will be disproportionately deployed against Black people.”

Lots of Black people thought it was good news, this week, when a grand jury in Douglas County, Georgia, indicted a bunch of Confederate flag waving white boys who spewed racial abuse and threatened Black guests outside a child’s birthday party, this past summer. It’s hard not to celebrate on those rare occasions when your enemies are getting hammered by the State. The white marauders in Douglas County, which has gone from just 8 percent Black 25 years ago to 44 percent African America today, carried banners demanding that the Confederate flag be “respected” – their response to the image problem that Johnny Reb has been having since the Charleston church massacre.

However, Black folks should not be celebrating the Douglas County prosecutor’s decision to indict the white supremacists for participating in “criminal gang activity,” in addition to charges of making terroristic threats. This is the first time that Georgia’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act has been used in such overtly political circumstances. If we have learned anything from the modern mass Black incarceration regime that has been in place since the early Seventies, it is that every law that can be abused for political purposes will be disproportionately deployed against Black people. The Georgia gang statute was designed to circumscribe the movements and constitutional liberties of Black and brown youth, as are similar statutes and gang injunction laws in effect all across the country. It was conceived as an anti-Black law, and its one-time use against racist whites does not change the nature of the law as an instrument of mass Black incarceration. The gang statutes are throwbacks to the Black Codes imposed on ex-slaves after the Civil War, when freedmen were not to allowed to gather in groups of more than three people at a time. One isolated circumstance of racist white boys getting caught up in a law designed to ensnare Blacks, is not a sign of progress.

“The gang statutes are throwbacks to the Black Codes imposed on ex-slaves after the Civil War.”

In fact, it is a very dangerous precedent. The Douglas County prosecutor argues that the gang law can be applied to “any type of activity that occurs with a group that’s organized that commits a crime.” This legal formula is similar to the way the RICCO anti-racketeering laws have been used to swallow up whole neighborhoods of Black teenagers, as happened last year when 100 young people at two neighboring housing projects in New York’s Harlem were charged with conspiracy to murder, largely based on postings in Facebook.

Douglas County prosecutor Brian Fortner, a white Republican, says he will continue to use the gang law against people who don’t “respect the rights of all of the citizens to feel safe and secure.” The Southern Poverty Law Center thinks the prosecutor acted appropriately – but the Center also classifies Min. Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam as a “hate group.” How would the law be applied to Black activists marching or congregating and waving Red, Black and Green flags and shouting “Killer Cops Out of Our Community!” – and maybe using the word “pig”? Would that be a criminal conspiracy, punishable by 15 years in prison? And if flags are indictable signs of criminality, what about leather jackets and Black berets. Think about that, while you’re applauding the prosecutor for coming down on some low-life Georgia white boys.

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

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20151014_gf_GAGangLaw.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:45pm EDT

Tell the New Education Secretary: Charter Schools Flunk Out in New Orleans

Tell the New Education Secretary: Charter Schools Flunk Out in New Orleans

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The gap between Louisiana charter schools – meaning, mainly, New Orleans – and public schools was the biggest in the country.”

Arne Duncan, the outgoing U.S. secretary of education, will be succeeded by an even more rabid professional privatizer of public education. John B. King, a Black and Puerto Rican native of Brooklyn, New York – and, like President Obama, a product of Harvard and Columbia universities – has spent his entire teaching career in the charter school business. King is a hit man for school privatization – the perfect credentials to take over from presidential buddy Arne Duncan, the ghoul who obscenely declared that “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina.”

Corporations stand to make hundreds of billions of dollars from privatization of education, so it pays to tell lies about what happened when Katrina provided the opportunity to illegally fire 7,000 New Orleans teachers, the majority of them Black, replacing them with young, largely white, non-union and ultimately temporary staff, and then converting all of the city’s schools to charters. The privatizers claim that test scores are way up in New Orleans, but studies show that it’s all propaganda and phony numbers. Charter schools do what they have always done: they select and retain students that tend to do well on tests, and discard the rest. That’s called “creaming” – taking the better-performing students right off the top. But, in New Orleans, the creaming preceded the charter school coup. One-third of the Black population was driven from the city, never to return. The schoolchildren among these displaced Black persons were disproportionately poor – precisely the demographic that does relatively worse on standardized tests. They never showed up for class in New Orleans newly charterized schools, leaving a more affluent mass of students to take the standardized tests. But, the charter schools continued the creaming students, in an attempt to boost the test numbers, especially at selected schools – all the while claiming that underperforming students were not being displaced.

That was a lie. For example, a study by the Education Research Alliance showed that a preparatory high school somehow lost-two-thirds of its students when it converted to charter. The school claims it doesn’t know where they went, but keeps bragging about how great things are for the kids that remained and for the new students, many of them non-Black.

New Orleans’ charter school system flunks.”

Most of Louisiana’s charter schools are located in New Orleans. A study by the Network for Public Education found that the state’s charter schools performed significantly worse than conventional public schools. The gap between Louisiana charter schools – meaning, mainly, New Orleans – and public schools was the biggest in the country – which had a lot do with Louisiana overall scoring the fourth lowest in the nation. Even by Louisiana standards, New Orleans’ charter school system flunks – even after controlling for factors of race, class and qualifications for special education. And the entire nation’s education system will also flunk, if given over to the lying privatizers, like John B. King. But, don’t expect the Black Misleadership Class, masquerading as members of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, to save us. Leadership Conference CEO Wade Henderson had effusive praise for Arne Duncan, and for his Black and Puerto Rican protégé, who will undoubtedly become an even more effective educational evil than his outgoing boss, the obscene Mr. Duncan.

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

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20151007_gf_JohnKing_NOLACharters.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:55pm EDT