President Obama Recounts Personal Experiences with Racial Profiling

barack and michelle obama 450x315 President Obama Recounts Personal Experiences with Racial Profiling

President Obama Recounts Personal Experiences with Racial Profiling (Photo Credit: Pete Souza/White House)

President Obama and the First Lady discussed their own experiences with racism with People magazine, in light of the incidents of racial profiling and the police officer-involved deaths of black males. Michelle Obama said, “I think people forget that we’ve lived in the White House for six years. Before that, Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs.”

More from Michelle Obama:

I tell this story–I mean, even as the first lady–during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn’t see me as the first lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn’t anything new.

President Obama added, “There’s no black male my age, who’s a professional, who hasn’t come out of a restaurant and is waiting for their car and somebody didn’t hand them their car keys.”

He alluded to the recent deaths of Michael Brown and Tamir Rice by two white officers:

The small irritations or indignities that we experience are nothing compared to what a previous generation experienced. It’s one thing for me to be mistaken for a waiter at a gala. It’s another thing for my son to be mistaken for a robber and to be handcuffed, or worse, if he happens to be walking down the street and is dressed the way teenagers dress.

Of course, President Obama’s critics will make it seem as though he is just trying to appease the black community. Never mind the fact that he is biracial.

Sandra McElroy, Key Witness in Darren Wilson Case, Has History of Lying to Police, Racism

sandra mcelroy 450x331 Sandra McElroy, Key Witness in Darren Wilson Case, Has History of Lying to Police, Racism

Sandra McElroy, Key Witness in Darren Wilson Case, Has History of Lying to Police, Racism (Photo Credit: KMOV/Twitter)

Sandra McElroy, “Witness 40,” in the Darren Wilson case, may have helped to exonerate him, even though she has a history of lying to police and blatant racism. This is yet another reason why many blacks are convinced prosecutor Bob McCulloch really didn’t want to prosecute Darren Wilson. How else can you explain putting someone in front of a grand jury with such a spotty history, that also includes mental illness?

The Smoking Gun released a report identifying Sandra McElroy as “Witness 40.” It would seem that she completely fabricated her story about Michael Brown’s shooting, but has not even been charged with lying under oath. Looking at her history, McElroy was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 16 and told the grand jury she hadn’t taken her medication in 25 years. She also admitted that a car accident in 2001 left her “struggling with a faulty memory.”  This is the person you put on a witness stand? Really?

In the weeks after Brown’s shooting–but before she contacted police–McElroy used her Facebook account to comment on the case. On August 15, she “liked’ a Facebook comment reporting that [witness Dorian] Johnson had admitted that he and Brown stole cigars before the confrontation with Wilson. On August 17, a Facebook commenter wrote that Johnson and others should be arrested for inciting riots and giving false statements to police in connection with their claims that Brown had his hands up when shot by Wilson. “The report and autopsy are in so YES they were false,” McElroy wrote of the “hands-up” claims. This appears to be an odd comment from someone who claims to have been present during the shooting. In response to the posting of a news report about a rally in support of Wilson, McElroy wrote on August 17, “Prayers, support God Bless Officer Wilson.”

…Commenting on a September 12 Riverfront Times story reporting that Ferguson city officials had yet to meet with Brown’s family, McElroy wrote, “But haven’t you heard the news, There great great great grandpa may or may not have been owned by one of our great great great grandpas 200 yrs ago. (Sarcasm).”

Federal investigators, not McCulloch and his team, were suspicious of McElroy’s account. For example, she claimed she was in Ferguson, which is 30 miles from her home, because she had planned to drop in on a high school classmate who lived in the neighborhood but got lost. She changed her story again on November 3 after she revealed she kept a journal. That never came up before. Her report to police matched Wilson’s testimony which was leaked to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch days before:

McElroy, again under oath, explained to grand jurors that she was something of an amateur urban anthropologist. Every couple of weeks, McElroy testified, she likes to “go into all the African-American neighborhoods.” During these weekend sojourns–apparently conducted when her ex has the kids–McElroy said she will “go in and have coffee and I will strike up a conversation with an African-American and I will try to talk to them because I’m trying to understand more.”

…McElroy’s last two journal entries for August 9 read like an after-the-fact summary of the account she gave to federal investigators on October 22 and the Ferguson grand jury the following afternoon. It is so obvious that the notebook entries were not contemporaneous creations that investigators should have checked to see if the ink had dried.

The opening entry in McElroy’s journal on the day Brown died declared, “Well Im gonna take my random drive to Florisant. Need to understand the Black race better so I stop calling Blacks Niggers and Start calling them People.” A commendable goal, indeed.

Read more at The Smoking Gun

CA Police Chief Chris Magnus Defends Joining Police Brutality Protests

chris magnus black lives matter sign 450x251 CA Police Chief Chris Magnus Defends Joining Police Brutality Protests

CA Police Chief Chris Magnus Defends Joining Police Brutality Protests (Photo Credit: Video Screengrab)

Chris Magnus, the police chief for the Richmond Police Department in California, is defending his decision to join a protest against police brutality while in uniform. He said, “I would do it again. I would like to be a little more prepared for, perhaps, the fallout.”

Magnus was seen on video holding a sign that read “#BlackLivesMatter.” He said the thought it was harmless to hold up the sign, since “the idea that black lives matter is something that I think we all should be able to agree on.”

The Richmond Police Officers Association released a statement blasting Chris Magnus for engaging in political activity while wearing his uniform. To that, Magnus said, “It certainly wasn’t intended to be a political statement, it was intended to be a human statement.”

Al Sharpton, Families of Black Men Killed by Cops, to March in Washington DC

police gun 450x303 Al Sharpton, Families of Black Men Killed by Cops, to March in Washington DC

Al Sharpton, Families of Black Men Killed by Cops, to March in Washington DC (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Rev. Al Sharpton and the relatives of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice will stage the “Justice for All” march on Saturday along Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. to protest the deaths of unarmed black males at the hands of white police officers. The march comes as Tamir Rice’s death was ruled a homicide. The 12-year-old was fatally shot by Cleveland rookie cop Timothy Loehmann.

The family of Trayvon Martin, the teen who was gunned down by volunteer neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, will also be joining Sharpton for the march.

Members of several civil rights organizations will also take part in the march, set to begin at noon. There will also be speeches outlining the legislative agenda the protesters are calling on Congress to enact, including an end to police vilence and to reform that grand jury system, specifically when police officers are involved in deaths.

Al Sharpton said the reason for the march, “All over the country we all need to come together and demand this Congress deal with the issues, that we need laws to protect the citizens in these states from these state grand jurors,” USA Today reports. Other marches across the U.S. are also planned for Saturday.

Minister Jonathan Gentry: Rev. Al Sharpton Just Wants to Keep Himself Revelant

al sharpton reliable sources 450x231 Minister Jonathan Gentry: Rev. Al Sharpton Just Wants to Keep Himself Revelant

Minister Jonathan Gentry: Rev. Al Sharpton Just Wants to Keep Himself Revelant (Photo Credit: CNN video screengrab)

Minister Jonathan Gentry and National Urban League President Marc Morial clashed during an appearance on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” over Rev. Al Sharpton’s multiple roles and any conflicts those roles have caused. Sharpton hosts hhis own show, “Politics Nation,” on MSNBC, has the ear of President Obama and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, runs the National Action Network, and pops up when called by families grappling with cases of police officer-involved shootings.

Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter wondered if Sharpton’s multiple roles posed one or multiple conflicts. Many have held similar positions on Al Sharpton. I must also add he appears on the Tom Joyner Morning Show once a week to give his take on any hot-button issues trending.

Stelter noted that Sharpton and Garner’s widow Esaw Garner both appeared on NBC’s Today show the day after the grand jury decision, just one example of Sharpton’s roles conveniently reinforcing each other; NBC is the parent company of MSNBC, on which Sharpton’s show appears.

He wants to pick and choose issues that can keep himself relevant,” Minister Jonathan Gentry said. “This man wants to come in and just perpetuate hate into generations, when a lot of these incidences don’t even have to do with race. But when he comes into the equation, he makes it about race. He forces that down your throat, and wants to change the way you think, and poison a community into thinking it’s all about black and white.”

National Urban League President Marc Morial saw no problem with it. “We are in an age of opinion journalism,” he said. “It’s a different world when it comes to television hosts. When you look at cable television, you see lots of hosts who wear different hats. Sharpton may be more well-known, but I don’t think he’s that different.”

CNN commentator Errol Louis pointed out that Sharpton’s new platforms were a savvy evolution of his previous work. Source: Mediaite

The family of Akai Gurley, who was fatally shot by rookie cop Peter Liang in the stairwell of the Pink Houses, publicly dissociated itself from Rev Al Sharpton. TMZ reports, Gurley’s aunt, Hertenceia Peterson, who said she was speaking on behalf of the slain man’s mom, said,  “Al Sharpton came in, put his name on the situation, but has not even made one single call to the parents to Akai.” She also said, “all Sharpton sees “is money and political gain and that he is turning the tragedy into a circus.””

DOJ to Launch Civil Rights Investigation into Eric Garner Chokehold Death

eric garner 450x364 DOJ to Launch Civil Rights Investigation into Eric Garner Chokehold Death

DOJ to Launch Civil Rights Investigation into Eric Garner Chokehold Death

Attorney General Eric Holder said the Department of Justice will launch an civil rights investigation into the Eric Garner chokehold death after a Staten Island grand jury cleared NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo. Holder said the probe into Eric Garner’s death will be “independent, thorough, fair and expeditious.”

Good evening.  I want to provide an update regarding the case involving Eric Garner, a Staten Island resident, who died tragically in July.

Since Mr. Garner’s death, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the Civil Rights Division and the FBI have been monitoring the local case closely while allowing the local investigation, led by the District Attorney’s office in Staten Island, to proceed first.

Earlier today, the grand jury declined to return an indictment in this case.  Now that the local investigation has concluded, I am here to announce that the Justice Department will proceed with a federal civil rights investigation into Mr. Garner’s death.

This afternoon I spoke with the widow of Eric Garner to inform her and her family of our decision to investigate potential federal civil rights violations.  I have been in touch with President Obama and Mayor de Blasio regarding our decision as well.

Our prosecutors will conduct an independent, thorough, fair and expeditious investigation.

In addition to performing our own investigative work, the Department will conduct a complete review of the material gathered during the local investigation.

We have all seen the video of Mr. Garner’s arrest.  His death, of course, was a tragedy.  All lives must be valued.  Mr. Garner’s death is one of several recent incidents across the country that have tested the sense of trust that must exist between law enforcement and the communities they are charged to serve and protect.  This is not a New York issue or a Ferguson issue alone.  Those who have protested peacefully across our great nation following the grand jury’s decision in Ferguson have made that clear.

As the brother of a retired police officer, I know in a personal way about the bravery of the men and women in uniform who put their lives at risk every day to protect public safety.  The vast majority of our law enforcement officers perform their duties honorably and are committed to respecting their fellow citizens civil rights as they carry out their very challenging work.

It is for their sake as well that we must seek to heal the breakdown in trust we have seen.  Earlier this week, I traveled to Atlanta to begin a series of interactions to begin this process – and officials around the country at every level of the Department of Justice will continue this vital ongoing work.  As the Justice Department’s independent investigations into the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner proceed, I will continue these conversations as we seek to restore trust, to rebuild understanding and to foster cooperation between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

I know that substantial numbers of people in New York and across the country will be disappointed and frustrated by the outcome of the state grand jury proceeding today.  I know many will plan to voice their disappointment publicly through protests.  This is the right of all Americans.  But as I have said before, throughout our history, the most successful movements have been those that adhered to the principles of nonviolence.  I urge all those inclined to demonstrate tonight and in the days ahead to remain peaceful in their demonstrations, and not to engage in activities that deflect our attention from the very serious matters our nation must confront.  Source: Justice Department

Officer Darren Wilson Resigns From Ferguson Police Department

darren wilson1 450x324 Officer Darren Wilson Resigns From Ferguson Police Department

Officer Darren Wilson Resigns From Ferguson Police Department

DARREN WILSON RESIGNS:  As if we didn’t see this coming, Officer Darren Wilson, who gunned down unarmed teen Michael Brown on August 9th, has resigned from the Ferguson Police Department.

He issued a letter stating that his “continued employment may put the residents and police officers of the City of Ferguson at risk, which is a circumstance that I cannot allow.”

“I, Darren Wilson, hereby resign my commission as a police officer with the City of Ferguson effective immediately. I have been told that my continued employment may put the residents and police officers of the City of Ferguson at risk, which is a circumstance that I cannot allow. For obvious reasons, I wanted to wait until the grand jury made their decision before I officially made my decision to resign. It was my hope to continue in police work, but the safety of other police officers and the community are of paramount importance to me. It is my hope that my resignation will allow the community to heal. I would like to thank all of my supporters and fellow officers throughout this process.”

[…]

He said he acted without receiving a severance package, although he said more talks may be held on that topic. He said he has been told he is not involved in any internal police investigation. Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The fact is, he can’t be a police officer in any other city in the state of Missouri. If you kill someone and it becomes national news, then there’s little chance that you can go back to life as normal.

Response to Michael Brown Grand Jury Decision: Blackout Black Friday Boycott

blackout black friday 450x282 Response to Michael Brown Grand Jury Decision:  Blackout Black Friday Boycott

Response to Michael Brown Grand Jury Decision: Blackout Black Friday Boycott

BLACKOUT BLACK FRIDAY BOYCOTT — that’s one response to the grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the Michael Brown shooting. The drum-roll beats louder on social media to hit Corporate America “where it hurts” over Brown’s shooting death.

The Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition is organising the ‘No Justice, No Profit’ boycott campaign on Thanksgiving Day (27 November), through to Sunday. Black Friday is traditionally the day that kicks off the Christmas buying period with retailers across America offering big discounts to jump-start the busiest shopping days of the year.
Dacia Polk, of the New Black Panther Party, said the coalition wants the whole of St Louis to participate in the boycott this weekend.

“We are asking you to withdraw your participation the entire weekend,” she said. “There will not be business as usual in America while our people are being killed.”

“The death of Michael Brown was groundless, was senseless, it was a miscarriage of Mr Darren Wilson’s legal duty to serve and protect,” said the Rev Spencer Lamar Booker, pastor of St Paul AME Church. “No matter how convoluting his and others’ attempt to make a legal argument, an illegal act was committed called murder.” Source: IBT Times

The grand jury decision has led to rioting, looting and arson. Several businesses have gone up on flames. This is no way to protest against a perceived wrong.

It’s interesting to note that prosecutor Robert McColluch pulled off something very interesting in Ferguson. Check out what FiveThirtyEight had to say.

Former New York state Chief Judge Sol Wachtler famously remarked that a prosecutor could persuade a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich.” The data suggests he was barely exaggerating: According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases in 2010, the most recent year for which we have data. Grand juries declined to return an indictment in 11 of them.

Wilson’s case was heard in state court, not federal, so the numbers aren’t directly comparable. Unlike in federal court, most states, including Missouri, allow prosecutors to bring charges via a preliminary hearing in front of a judge instead of through a grand jury indictment. That means many routine cases never go before a grand jury. Still, legal experts agree that, at any level, it is extremely rare for prosecutors to fail to win an indictment.

“If the prosecutor wants an indictment and doesn’t get one, something has gone horribly wrong,” said Andrew D. Leipold, a University of Illinois law professor who has written critically about grand juries. “It just doesn’t happen.”

Grand Jury Reaches Decision in Michael Brown Shooting Case

michael brown1 450x335 Grand Jury Reaches Decision in Michael Brown Shooting Case

Grand Jury Reaches Decision in Michael Brown Shooting Case

The grand jury has reached a decision on whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the Michael Brown shooting case.

The Washington Post reports press conferences are being prepared by the county prosecutors’ office and Gov. Nixon.

The announcement gave no indication on whether Darren Wilson will be indicted for the teen’s shooting death.

Ferguson Activist Bassem Masri Clashes with CNN Host on Media Coverage

bassem masri 450x252 Ferguson Activist Bassem Masri Clashes with CNN Host on Media Coverage

Ferguson Activist Bassem Masri Clashes with CNN Host on Media Coverage (Photo Credit: Video Screengrab)

Ferguson activist Bassem Masri (@bassem_masri) got into a heated discussion during his appearance on CNN during Michael Smerconish’s show Saturday morning. Smerconish challenged him whether he thought his heated rhetoric is helping the tense situation in Ferguson in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s shooting death by Officer Darren Wilson.

Bassem Masri responded, “I don’t think we should be looking at citizens about how they react towards their public servants [police]. It should be the other way around.”

Smerconish asked Masri how he could reconcile his stance towards the police when Michael Brown’s father, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have called for peace in Ferguson. Masri was part of a group that attempted to shout down a live CNN reporter, Sarah Sidner, last month. He was also accused of spitting on a police officer. Masri said he has been “very calm.”

Masri told Smerconish that he knows what transpired during the fatal encounter between Officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown, saying the teen was shot multiple times despite having his hands up. He said Wilson should have shot to apprehend and not to kill.

Bassem Masri challenged Smerconish over the media’s priorities saying, “There’s blood on the streeet and you’re worried about words. Come on man! That’s what journalists are missing right now. Why don’t you investigate something real. Why don’t you worry about us getting killed?”

Bassem Masri also had a very confrontational interview with Reliable Sources’ host Brian Stelter last Sunday. He is among a group of local activists rejecting the mainstream media for “distorting” the news. He told Stetler, “We’re not going to be just laying back and letting anybody paint whatever narrative they want when it comes to our community.”

Watch the heated interview between Bassem Masri and Mike Smerconish:

Here’s the reaction on Twitter about Bassem Masri’s CNN interview: