Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
From Hanrahan to Daley to Alvarez, Protecting Killer Cops is a Chicago Prosecutorial Tradition

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon


From Hanrahan to Daley to Alvarez, Protecting Killer Cops is a Chicago Prosecutorial Tradition

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The city of Chicago yesterday released a video it had held for 400 days of a police officer apparently murdering a young man with a knife walking away from him. Police announced that the officer, who'd been on paid leave that entire 400 days, would be suspended without pay. Cook County States Attorney Anita Alvarez's office, which had “investigated” the case that entire time finally announced that Officer Van Dyke would be charged with first degree murder.

Upon viewing the video, as hundreds of thousands of people have by now, the obvious questions are why the Cook County States Attorney took 13 months, instead of 13 days or 13 hours or 13 minutes to come up with that murder indictment? Unfortunately this easy and obvious question has an easy and obvious answer. Anita Alvarez is the same states attorney who deliberately sabotaged the case against the killer cop who shot Rekia Boyd by charging him with manslaughter instead of murder, a charge which the judge was forced to dismiss, neatly immunizing the killer cop from further prosecution.

States Attorney Alvarez is part of a long tradition of Chicago prosecutors who aid, abet and sometimes hire and directly supervise killer cops to do what they do. Before Richard M. Daley was mayor for twenty years he was the county's top prosecutor who accepted and carried to court all the cases built upon the torture of innocent black men by Chicago Police commander John Burge. And when we talk about infamous Cook County States Attorneys nobody should forget that the 1969 murder of Chicago Illinois Black Panther leader Fred Hampton was executed by a squad of Chicago cops (except for the lead sergeant, whose identity and affiliation are unclear) under the direct supervision of the states attorney's office.

Alvarez comes up for re-election in November 2016, and people are pointing to a rival in the Democratic primary election as the one to vote for. Should a tidal wave of public indignation ends the political career of Anita Alvarez next year it will be a kind of justice, but only of a very limited sort.

Edward V. Hanrahan was thrown out of office by a tidal wave of public disgust over the assassination of Fred Hampton. His political career was over, but not much else changed. And now, just as then there are a lot of things that need changing in Chicago.

The city just had a reform candidate for mayor who barely seemed to notice the Chicago Police black site at Homan Square, an issue that should have been a rallying point for black Chicago around his campaign. That same reform candidate kicked off his campaign and stump speech with a pledge to hire a thousand more Chicago cops, in a city which already has one of the highest police-to-civilian ratios in the country, and which clearly protects its corrupt and brutal cops from any accountability to civilians. And let's not talk about Chicago's media, which, when the Homan Square story broke in a British paper, spent its reporters time trying to debunk instead of investigating it.

The enabling of killer cops is a tradition in Chicago, as it is around the country. Anita Alvarez can and should be swept from office next November. But it will take a lot of elections, and a lot more than just elections to change the system that brought us Hanrahan, Daley, and now Alvarez.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a Chicagoan now living in exile near Marietta GA. He's a member of the state committee of the GA Green Party and can be reached via email at bruce.dixon(at)
Direct download: 20151125_bd_hanrahan2alvarez.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:55pm EDT

Israelis – Not Muslims – Cheered in Jersey City on 9/11

Israelis – Not Muslims – Cheered in Jersey City on 9/11

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“By making only a partial correction of Donald Trump’s prevarication, the corporate media were telling their own lie about what happened on 9/11.”

The corporate media don’t like Donald Trump. They used to like him a lot; in fact, Big Business Media are responsible for making this minor multi-millionaire into a household name. But Trump is on their hit list, nowadays, because the Republican presidential candidate insists on telling his own lies, rather than sticking to the list of official lies parroted by corporate media every minute of every day.

Donald Trump told a really “HUGE” – as he would put it – lie when he claimed to have watched thousands of Muslims cheering in Jersey City, New Jersey, as the World Trade Center came down on 9/11. Every corporate news outlet in the country rushed to debunk Trump’s fictitious account. The Washington Post offered psychological theories for why Trump gets away with telling fantastic lies. The New York Times said there was no evidence that Jersey City Muslims cheered the destruction on 9/11. CNN said it never happened. And, they were right.

However, by making only a partial correction of Donald Trump’s prevarication, the corporate media were telling their own lie about what happened on 9/11. There was, in fact, celebration in Jersey City on that fateful morning, and the incident did, briefly, make a major news splash. But the people doing the cheering weren’t Muslims: they were five young Israelis in a white moving van, who were observed in Liberty Park ecstatically taking pictures of themselves framed against the smoking ruins of the Twin Towers. As ABC News reported, the five were later arrested at gunpoint near the New Jersey Giants football stadium. Most U.S. intelligence sources believed the men were Israeli spies, and that their “moving company” was an Israeli intelligence cover. They were detained for a while, and then deported.

“Who is the biggest liar?”

In the year before 9/11 scores of young Israelis posing as “art students” were arrested after penetrating U.S. Defense Department and other classified sites. Both stories made national news. The corporate media could not have avoided running across articles on the “cheering Israelis” when they set about debunking Donald Trump’s “cheering Muslims” account. But, not one of them dare to mention that, yes, some people were seen celebrating 9/11 at Liberty State Park in Jersey City.

I was in a different part of the park on 9/11 morning, alone except for two young Israelis with very expensive cameras, carrying phony New Jersey press credentials, who claimed to be Polish but spoke Hebrew to each other. The two young men were giddy with joy at the destruction that the three of us were observing across the Hudson River.

Later that day, I learned from local and national news outlets about the five Israelis who were dancing with delight about a mile upriver from me and the two other Israelis. Articles about Israelis celebrating 9/11 would have come up in any search to correct Donald Trump’s tall tale – but the corporate media kept that part of the story from the public. They censored their own correction of Donald Trump. So, who is the biggest liar? Trump, who lies to advance his own personal interests, or the U.S. corporate media, who lie to the people on behalf of the State of Israel, and Zionism.

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

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at


Direct download: 20151125_gf_CheeringIsraelis_9_11.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:23am EDT

Black Agenda Radio for Week of November 23, 2015

Black Agenda Radio for Week of November 23, 2015

ISIS and the White Lives Matter Movement

Although civilians in Nigeria, Iraq and Syria have suffered the highest casualties from jihadist terror, these crimes “get no attention, especially because in most of these tragedies Western governments are the primary responsible parties, said Ajamu Baraka, an editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report and a founder of the U.S. Human Rights Network. Baraka authored an article in the current issue of BAR titled “The Paris Attacks and the White Lives Matter Movement.” Most Europeans and Euro-Americans exhibit an “inability to recognize the humanity of other people” – a form of psychopathology, said Baraka. ”They advance the notion that they are the upholders of a humanitarian tradition, while at the same time are responsible for the most horrific acts known in human history.”

Black Power Through Sustainable Development

Activists with Cooperation Jackson looked forward to joining huge demonstrations in Paris, later this month, to influence United Nations negotiations about climate change and to promote their Jackson Just Transition Plan to create environment-friendly employment in predominantly Black Jackson, Mississippi. However, French authorities have declared a state of emergency. Cooperation Jackson spokesman Kali Akuno said Black Power has everything to do with sustainable development. “In the 21st century, I don’t think there’s anywhere else for many of us in the United States to go,” said Akuno. “None of the other industries are producing anything that is going to employ us very intensely. We have to realize that the masses of Black people are completely disposable to this system, and we have to come up with the concrete alternatives, ourselves.”

Protestors Mark Anniversary of Tamir Rice’s Murder

Stop Mass Incarceration Network activists confronted Cleveland’s mayor and disrupted traffic on a major thoroughfare to mark the date, a year ago, when a white cop shot to death 12 year-old Tamir Rice. The local district attorney accused Rice’s mother of having “economic motives” for demanding justice for her son. “For this district attorney to impugn anybody’s motive is beyond disgusting,” said Network co-founder Carl Dix. “This is a guy who’s heading a secret grand jury process who has leaked three reports that say the police who murdered Tamir Rice were justified in doing so.” The cops shot the child two seconds after arriving at the park where he’d been playing with a toy gun. “They charged at him like they were some Wild West gunslingers who had their prey in their sights,” said Dix.

Bill and Hillary Clinton Might Face Indictment

In an article in Harpers magazine, investigative reporter Ken Silverstein predicted that newly-released Clinton Foundation tax returns could get Bill, Hillary and daughter Chelsea indicted on money laundering and influence peddling charges. “As secretary of state she paid particular attention to Clinton Foundation donors,” said Silverstein. Now, after years of filing false returns, “the shit is hitting the fan” for the former – and possibly future – First Couple.

Cuban Official Remembers Jim Crow

Kenia Serrano, president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship of the People, spends much of her time greeting visitors to her island nation. But, this month she led a Cuban delegation on a tour of U.S. cities, starting with New York, where she expressed pride in the great changes the Revolution has made in the lives of the people, especially Black Cubans. “In Cuba, we have a Fifth Avenue similar to the one in New York City. Black people couldn’t walk on Fifth Avenue” in Havana. “Before the triumph of the Revolution, Black people could not work in the banks.” Even the “mulatto” Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista “was not allowed to go to the bourgeois clubs in Cuba,” said Serrano.


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.


Direct download: blackagendaradio_20151123.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:20am EDT

Baltimore Study Sheds Light on Bankers’ Scheme To Expel Blacks from the City


Baltimore Study Sheds Light on Bankers’ Scheme To Expel Blacks from the City

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“Some neighborhoods will live, and some will die, to be born again as gentrified communities.”

A new study of bank lending practices in Baltimore shows that whites get twice the number of mortgage loans as Blacks do, even though Blacks outnumber whites two to one in the city. Baltimore is 64 percent Black, with a quarter of its population living below the poverty line. However, the study found that the banks continue to issue mortgages in some low income neighborhoods – the ones where white people live. Yes, Baltimore still has some poor neighborhoods where whites are the majority, and if you live in one of them, you are far more likely to get a mortgage from the bank. But, if you live in a neighborhood that’s 80 percent Black or more, your chances for a mortgage are a much slimmer.

So, what are the Lords of Capital really up to? The data shows that the banks are willing to put money into low-income neighborhoods that still have large white populations, but will do nothing to stabilize low-income communities where Blacks predominate. The implications are quite clear, but the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, which seeks to draw public and private investment into the cities, and which commissioned the study, doesn’t seem to get it. They issued a statement, warning that failure to provide credit to prospective inner city homeowners will cause their neighborhoods to “continue to deteriorate” – as if the banks don’t know that!

“They know exactly what they are doing.”

The bankers are perfectly aware of the consequences of their lending policies. Some neighborhoods will live, and some will die, to be born again as gentrified communities valued at many times the previous worth of the land and buildings. When Black neighborhoods are killed, the banks make a killing. The banks have other plans for Baltimore’s remaining white low income neighborhoods. White folks always get different treatment; that’s part of the privilege.

For the time being, the banks have decided to keep those poor white enclaves stable, through the magic of mortgage money. But, the bankers have condemned the Black sections of town to a death spiral of social and physical deterioration. They know exactly what they are doing: inflicting the maximum social pain on Black people, in anticipation of fantastic financial gains for bank shareholders after the Blacks are forced to disperse.

In a white supremacist society like the United States, the very presence of Black people lowers property values – not because of anything within Black people’s control, but because of white people’s behavior in the marketplace. The banks are the most important institutional participants in the white supremacist marketplace and profit the most from it. Baltimore is what it has become, mostly because of the banks, who also had a lot to do with deindustrialization and the collapse of the blue collar job market in the Baltimores of the nation.

There’s a lesson here, but one that groups like the National Community Reinvestment Coalition will never learn. They spend much of their time trying to get bankers to do the right thing – which is an absolute impossibility – when the real task at hand is to get rid of the banking class and nationalize the banks so that we can make rational investments of the people’s money in jobs and housing for the folks who live in places like Baltimore.

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

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Direct download: 20151118_gf_BaltimoreBanks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:46pm EDT

Black Agenda Radio Weekly, November 17, 2015

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.”


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.


Direct download: BlackAgendaRadio_20151116.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:25pm EDT

What Good Are Our Black Politics When 3 of Every 8 Black Children Under 6 Are in Poverty?

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

There have never been more black elected and appointed officials, more black corporate and military functionaries, more black faces on TV and in the movies than there are right now. There's been a black family in the White House for seven years already and the first lady is from the south side of Chicago. But what does it really mean to black children in places like Chicago's south side all around the country?

The plain and simple answer is not a whole lot. Current census data pegs the percentage of African American children under 6 who are growing up in poverty at 38%. That's three out of every eight black children in the US. It's been just a little higher once or twice in the several decades that particular statistic has been kept, but never by much, and not since the early 1980s.

Why? Politics isn't just about voting, elections and political parties. Politics broadly speaking is about how we humans arrange our collective affairs. And black politics, as far back as anybody can recall, black politics has never been aimed at confronting those who wield power, or contesting for that power. Black politics has always been about representation, about which black faces would best serve as designated spokespeople for the rest of us, which of them might best broker for our interests. Brokers don't contest power.

The current waves of mass incarceration and gentrification would have been impossible without the active collaboration of large groups of black preachers, black business leaders and black politicians, the kind of black political class which views its own glittering careers as the indisputable proof that something great is being accomplished on behalf of the oppressed.

So far, the newest wave of so-called “movement activists” are walking down that same well-traveled road. They're asking for more representation, with themselves as the brokers this time. They want town hall meetings and to their own presidential debates. But as Glen Ford points out, they don't have demands.

They're not proposing abolition of the crushing burden of student and consumer debt.

They're not championing laws that would make the kinds of mortgage fraud perpetrated by the big banks illegal, or which would let cities snatch underwater homes from the speculators.

They're not educating or organizing parents and communities to resist the wave of school privatizations or to opt out of the standardized testing which provides the fake justification for them.

They're not speaking or mobilizing against the permanent warfare state which swallows fully half the nation's revenue, money which could be spent transforming cities, industries, economies, and tens of millions of lives.

They're not building new political organizations that value and practice democracy internally, that prefigure the world we deserve.

This new movement crowd has lots to say about the slippery nebulous demons of white supremacy and institutional racism, but almost nothing against the state and corporate actors who exercise real power. Like the classes of broker-leaders before them, they don't have answers to gentrification, or the housing crisis or mass incarceration, or much to say to the three out of every eight black children in poverty, except to point to their own careers, while declaring how they love their blackness, and that of the pretty first lady in the White House. And yours too.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a partner in a technology firm. He lives and works near Marietta GA and is on the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him via email at bruce.dixon(at)
Direct download: 20151111_bd_confronting_the_state.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:26pm EDT

The Middle Age White Male Die-Off: When Skin Privilege is Not Enough

The Middle Age White Male Die-Off: When Skin Privilege is Not Enough

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

A generation of poorly educated white men who came of age in the Seventies and Eighties are suffering dramatic levels of psychological instability.”

It appears that white middle aged men with no more than a high school education have not adjusted well to their declining economic and social status in the United States. That seems to be the logical conclusion that can be drawn from a study by two Nobel laureates in economics who found that the death rate for white men of lower educational attainment between the ages of 45 and 54 has been increasing, while every other racial, gender and economic group has been living longer. The study was conducted during the 15 years between 1999 and 2014. The findings came as a shock – not just because the life expectancy of non-college educated white middle aged males was going in the opposite direction than everyone else, but also because the heightened mortality rate of this particular cohort is not due to the most frequent killers, like heart disease and diabetes. Instead, these low-income white men are committing suicide or dying from the complications of substance abuse at previously unheard of rates. So many of this group are dying by their own hands, or from illnesses based on self-destructive behaviors, that they have dragged down the life expectancy of the entire white middle aged male population, regardless of education and income.

These low-income white men are committing suicide or dying at previously unheard of rates from the complications of substance abuse.”

Clearly, we are looking at mass psychological problems, rooted in class, race, and gender at a particular point in history in the United States. These suddenly at-risk white men are by no means the most endangered U.S. demographic; Black and Hispanic men still die much younger than whites, but their life expectancies are gradually improving, while the opposite is true of the at-risk white cohort. Even more intriguingly, white relatively uneducated males who are older or younger than the 45 to 54 group are not dying at such high rates from self-destructive behavior.

What the numbers are telling us, is that a generation of poorly educated white men who came of age in the Seventies and Eighties are suffering dramatic levels of psychological instability, so that they drink or drug themselves to death or kill themselves outright. The death rate for this group rose 22 percent during the study period. The researchers noted that the incomes of households headed by people with only a high school education fell by 19 percent during the same period. But, that’s true for less educated households of all ethnic groups and both sexes, and only the white males of a certain age began dying at alarming rates – as if much of their group had been emotionally destabilized.

Working class people of all ethnicities have lost a great deal of economic ground under late stage capitalism in America, but the uneducated white males have also lost what they were led to expect was their special place in the racialized pecking order. Late in life, they find that white skin privilege can’t buy security or serenity in the age of austerity – and their worlds fall apart.

You might say they died from a White Lie.

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

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at
Direct download: 20151104_gf_WhiteMalesDying.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:17am EDT

War Abroad Breeds Homicidal Indifference At Home: St. Louis Garbage Fire Creeps Toward Nuclear Weapons Waste Dump

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Underground fires are notoriously hard to control or extinguish, and they often burn for years. One of these, a smoking, stinking garbage fire in a St. Louis MO landfill is at least five years old, and it now rages 1200 feet or less from a cache of buried nuclear waste left over from the Manhattan Project, the World War 2 effort to build the world's first atomic bombs. There are no barriers between the creeping subterranean garbage fire and the nuclear waste. Should the fire reach the radioactive material one of the likely results will be a plume of deadly radioactive smoke directly over the St. Louis airport, the city and nearby suburbs, including Ferguson.

Authorities have known about the fire creeping toward the nuclear waste dump for some time, but only in October were they finally forced to make public their emergency plans to be executed in the event that the smoldering garbage fire reaches the radioactive waste. The report calls for the use of sirens, SMS text messaging and other means to spur the evacuation of affected areas, and calls for the mobilization of first responders and volunteer resources, the cooperation of hospitals, businesses, schools and other local institutions.

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment says the nuclear waste was dumped in suburban St. Louis in 1973. Even without the approaching underground garbage fire, the atomic waste site near the St. Louis airport is leaking radiation, and lies in the floodplain of the Missouri River.

Local residents are not reassured by the pronouncements of the EPA, the federal agency in charge of the atomic bomb waste site, that there is little danger to the health and safety of the 2 million plus residents of the St. Louis metro area, and are urgently demanding more public information and accountability.

Local officials are making noises about suing the owners of the landfill over the long burning fire, but this does nothing to protect the public. No corporation and no insurance companies can possibly cover the cost in property, lost business or human lives caused by a radiation disaster in a big city. This is why no insurance company anywhere in the world will cover a nuclear reactor, it's something only a government can pretend to do. And pretend is absolutely the right word here. The government after all has for decades displayed a kind of homicidal indifference to the well being of people in the greater St. Louis area.

In 1994 the US Army admitted that in the 1950s it had deliberately sprayed sprayed certain poor neighborhoods in and around St. Louis with toxic and radioactive dust. Much like the Manhattan Project secretly dumping its radioactive waste on the outskirts of big cities, this time the army was testing its ability to wage war not against foreign aggressors, but against civilians going about their own business on the other side of the planet. It seems that the local topography around St. Louis, in the opinion of army officials, resembled that of some Russian cities they might want to target in a future war. Some unknown number of local residents died.

The first obvious lesson here is that war overseas breeds a kind of murderous indifference to civilian life at home. The folks who manufactured the nukes used on Japanese cities in World War 2 didn't mind dumping their radioactive garbage on the outskirts of an American city, and US military officials who considered poisoning Soviet civilians in the 1950s didn't shrink from testing their methods on American civilians.

The second, and equally obvious lesson is that you probably shouldn’t believe much of what the officials of a government that would do such things will say. Right now the EPA says not to worry, that it will come up with a solution to the problem this year. We'll see.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the GA Green Party. He can be reached via email at bruce.dixon(at)
Direct download: 20151031_bd-st-louis-nukes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:49pm EDT