Tag Archives: Texas

Remember Juneteenth: A Day Of Celebration

Celebrate Juneteeth and Father’s DayJuneteenth is the oldest known celebration that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. This celebration dates back to 1865 June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that those enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which became official January 1, 1863.

The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance. Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years.

The story that is often told is of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another story is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. Then there is yet another story that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All of which, or neither of these version could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln’s authority over the rebellious states was in question. Regardless, the conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.

One of General Granger’s first orders of business was to read to the people of Texas, General Order Number 3 which began most significantly with:

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.”

The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation. While many lingered to learn of this new employer to employee relationship, many left before these offers were completely off the lips of their former ‘masters’ – attesting to the varying conditions on the plantations and the realization of freedom. Even with nowhere to go, many felt that leaving the plantation would be their first grasp of freedom.

North was a logical destination and for many it represented true freedom, while the desire to reach family members in neighboring states drove the some into Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Settling into these new areas as free men and women brought on new realities and the challenges of establishing a heretofore non-existent status for black people in America. Recounting the memories of that great day in June of 1865 and its festivities would serve as motivation as well as a release from the growing pressures encountered in their new territory. The celebration of June 19th was coined “Juneteenth” and grew with more participation from descendants.

The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date. A range of activities were provided to entertain the masses, many of which continue in tradition today. Juneteenth almost always focused on education and self-improvement. Thus, often guest speakers are brought in, and the elders are called upon to recount the events of the past. Prayer services were also a major part of these celebrations.

Dress was also an important element in early Juneteenth customs and is often still taken seriously, particularly by the direct descendants who can make the connection to this tradition’s roots. During slavery, there were laws on the books in many areas that prohibited or limited the dressing of the enslaved. During the initial days of the emancipation celebrations, there are accounts of former slaves tossing their ragged garments into the creeks and rivers to adorn clothing taken from the plantations belonging to their former ‘masters’.

Economic and cultural forces provided for a decline in Juneteenth activities and participants beginning in the early 1900’s. Classroom and textbook education in lieu of traditional home and family taught practices stifled the interest of the youth due to less emphasis and detail on the activities of former slaves. Classroom textbooks proclaimed Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, as the date signaling the ending of slavery – and little or nothing on the impact of General Granger’s arrival on June 19th.

The Civil Rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s yielded both positive and negative results for the Juneteenth celebrations. While it pulled many of the African American youth away and into the struggle for racial equality, many linked these struggles to the historical struggles of their ancestors. This was evidenced by student demonstrators involved in the Atlanta civil rights campaign in the early 1960’s, whom wore Juneteenth freedom buttons. Again in 1968, Juneteenth received another strong resurgence through Poor Peoples March to Washington D.C. Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s call for people of all races, creeds, economic levels and professions to come to Washington to show support for the poor.

The future of Juneteenth looks bright as the number of cities and states creating Juneteenth committees continues to increase. Respect and appreciation for all of our differences grow out of exposure and working together. Getting involved and supporting Juneteenth celebrations creates new bonds of friendship and understanding among us. This indeed, brightens our future – and that is the Spirit of Juneteenth. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

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Black History: Did You Know Bass Reeves Was The Real Lone Ranger

220px-Bass_ReevesHistory and the authors of His-Story have differed dramatically throughout time to anything close to reality or truth. In other words, His-Story is nothing more than pure fabrications and downright lies. Let me be blunt and call it what it is; Damn Lies!

Particularly, when it comes to movies “they” say tell as truth about anything that involves black life or black people. I need not remind you but there are more than a few false images that are so obvious that anyone can see there is little truth contained in the story; for example, Cleopatra, Moses, the Ten Commandments and for that matter the story of Jesus, etc. Of course, they have an answer; they call those lies – literary privilege – I call it white privilege.

One such story involves the tale of the “Lone Ranger”! As it turns out, he was a black man named Bass Reeves, who the legend of a white man roaming the west on a white horse fighting crime was based on; yes – a black man. Perhaps not surprisingly, many aspects of Bass’ life were written out of the story, most notably his ethnicity. The basics remained the same: a lawman hunting bad guys, accompanied by a Native American, riding on a white horse, and with a silver trademark.

Reeves was born into slavery in 1838 in Arkansas and named Bass Reeves by his owner an Arkansas state legislator named William Steele Reeves. When Bass Reeves was about eight William Reeves moved to Texas near Sherman in what was known as the Peters Colony. Some accounts say he may have also served Colonel George Reeves, the son of William Reeves, as a slave as well. It was during the Civil War when Bass parted company with George Reeves.

Reeves took the chaos that ensued during the Civil War to escape to freedom, after beating his “master” within an inch of his life, or according to some sources, to death. Perhaps the most intriguing thing about this escape was that Reeves only beat his enslaver after the latter lost sorely at a game of cards with Reeves and attacked him. After successfully defending himself from this attack, he knew that there was no way he would be allowed to live if he stuck around. Reeves fled to the then Indian Territory of today’s Oklahoma and lived harmoniously among the Seminole and Creek Nations of Native American Indians.

After the Civil War finally concluded, he married and eventually fathered ten children, making his living as a Deputy U.S. Marshall in Arkansas and the Indian Territory. If this surprises you, and it should, as Reeves was the first African American ever to hold such a position. Burton explains that it was at this point that the Lone Ranger story comes into play. Reeves was described as a “master of disguises”. He used these disguises to track down wanted criminals, even adopting similar ways of dressing and mannerisms to meet and fit in with the fugitives, in order to identify them.

Reeves kept and gave out silver coins as a personal trademark of sorts, just like the story of the white Lone Ranger’s silver bullets. Of course, the recent Disney adaptation of the Lone Ranger devised a clever and meaningful explanation for the silver bullets in the classic tales. For the new Lone Ranger, I would say more comedic than entertaining. But in the original series, there was never an explanation given, as this was simply something originally adapted from Reeves’ personal life and trade marking of himself.

For Reeves, it had a very different meaning; he would give out the valuable coins to ingratiate himself to the people wherever he found himself working, collecting bounties. In this way, a visit from the real “Lone Ranger” meant only good fortune for the town: a criminal off the street and perhaps a lucky silver coin. Like the Lone Ranger, Reeves was also expert crack shot with a gun. According to legend, shooting competitions had an informal ban on allowing him to enter. Like the Lone Ranger, Reeves rode a white horse throughout almost his entire career, at one point riding a light gray one as well.

Like the famed white Lone Ranger legend, Reeves had his own close friend like Tonto. Reeves’ companion was a Native American posse man and tracker who he often rode with when he was out capturing bad guys. In all, there were close to 3000 of such criminals they apprehended, making them a legendary duo in many regions.

The famed judge known as the hanging judge, Isaac Parker, was appointed as a federal judge for the Indian Territory. Parker appointed James Fagan as U.S. Marshal, directing him to hire 200 Deputy U.S. Marshals. Fagan had heard about Reeves, who knew the Indian Territory and could speak several Indian languages. Fagan recruited him as one of his deputies and Reeves was the first African-American deputy west of the Mississippi River.

Reeves was initially assigned as a Deputy U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Arkansas, which also had responsibility for the Indian Territory. Reeves served in that district until 1893, when he transferred to the Eastern District of Texas in Paris, Texas. In 1897, he was transferred to the Muskogee Federal Court.

Reeves worked for thirty-two years as a Federal peace officer in the Indian Territory. He was one of Judge Parker’s most valued deputies and is credited with capturing some of the most dangerous criminals of the time. During his long career, ending in 1907, Reeves claimed to have arrested over 3,000 felons claiming to have shot and killed fourteen outlaws to defend his own life. He was never wounded, despite having his hat and belt shot off on separate occasions. Once he had to arrest his own son for murder.

The final proof that the Legend of Bass Reeves directly inspired into the story of the Lone Ranger can be found in the fact that a large number of those criminals were sent to federal prison in Detroit.

The Lone Ranger radio show originated and was broadcast to the public in 1933 on WXYZ in Detroit where the legend of Reeves was famous only two years earlier. Of course, WXYZ and the later TV and movie adaption’s weren’t about to make the Lone Ranger a black man, who began his career by beating a slave-keeper to death – now you know. Spread the word and let people know the real legend of the Lone Ranger. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


SANDRA BLAND: Say Her Name!!!

SANDRA BLAND should not be dead. PERIOD!

1000It seems like every week another black person is killed at the hands of the police. With each killing, it gets less transparent, the lies and cover-ups of those cases get more ridiculous. Yet, white America rallies behind and support the killers. They know it’s wrong, and that the police are out of control or dare I say the real terrorist threat to black people. Now it’s not like this is new because the system have been doing this since black people were stolen from Africa and dragged onto the shores of America. This would never be allowed to continue if these acts of terror occurred to a single white person or a Jewish citizen.

I posted a piece from News One yesterday titled “6 Things We Know About Brian Encinia, The Texas Trooper Who Arrested Sandra Bland”. It was shocking and appalling, yet the County has done everything to accuse the victim. This, by the way, is the norm – that is what they do.

The official account of how the 28-year-old black woman they say committed suicide by “self-inflicted asphyxiation in her jail cell after being stopped for changing lanes without using her signal light. is hard to swallow. After a brutal assault and arrest, she perished in a Waller County jail. Her family disputes that Ms. Bland could possibly have taken her own life. Though an official murder investigation is in process, and the Texas Rangers are looking into the case with FBI supervision, there is at present no evidence to disprove the suicide narrative.

But it’s plain to me based on what has been reported that Ms. Bland shouldn’t have died in jail because she should never have been in that cell in the first place. They have released two versions of a dashcam video from the officer’s car that appears doctored to me and they want us to believe something was wrong with the first video. Same thing they said about the Rodney King video – remember. In other words, who do you believe them or you’re lying eyes. The jail video is also missing lapses in time. Naturally, they are not talking about the arresting officer’s confrontational behavior.

Let’s start from the beginning. Officer Encinia pulled Ms. Bland over for failing to signal before executing a lane change. Over the course of an increasingly testy exchange, Ms. Bland explained that she was irritated because she had been trying to get out of the officer’s way when she switched lanes. Instead of handing Ms. Bland a warning or a ticket and moving on, Mr. Encinia asked her to extinguish her cigarette. Ms. Bland refused. Instead of letting that insult roll off his back, Mr. Encinia ordered her to exit her car with threats.

The command unnecessarily inflamed the situation but was legal. What happened next did not appear to have been legal. Though Ms. Bland committed a minor traffic violation and did not seem to be a threat to public safety, Mr. Encinia forcibly removed her from her car. Where de-escalation was required, Mr. Encinia escalated. “Regardless of the situation, the DPS state trooper has an obligation to exhibit professionalism and be courteous,” Steve McCraw, the director of the Department of Public Safety, said. This did not happen in this situation.

No matter what happens with the murder investigation, it won’t change the fact that the encounter should never have gotten so heated, and it was the officer’s responsibility to prevent that. But he was white, and she was simply driving while black! The officer’s paperwork, as is often the case, does not reflect what we see on the video. Then, he claims she kicked him as he was manhandling her forcing her face in the dirt, as one of the reasons for the arrest.

He knew he was being recorded and like so many cases he continued. That awareness should underline that they have no option but to be calm and careful, no matter how insulted they feel. We don’t expect that to be easy at all times and in all situations. Yet, the police are entrusted with the awesome power to legitimately use force on the public and that trust requires restraint and judgment; among other things about when confrontation is necessary and when it isn’t. I see no reason why Ms. Bland shouldn’t have collected her traffic warning and driven on. Instead, she is dead, and nobody can explain how it happened.

In this case and all of the others cases, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Freddie Gray, the Charleston Massacre, and the list goes on and on. It is clear that race is a central theme to all of these killings. The message to black people – man, woman or child – whether in church, at home, in the car, walking down the street, or merely existing are not safe in America and particularly from the police.

The ugly reality is this; the police have declared open season, call it war, on black people and the system of white supremacy says it ok. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


6 Things We Know About Brian Encinia, The Texas Trooper Who Arrested Sandra Bland

As more information comes to light in the Sandra Bland case here’s what we know about Texas trooper Brian Encinia.


White Only Justice

1000The heart-wrenching actions by the police, rather a policeman last Friday McKinney, Texas was about as disgraceful as anything I have ever seen. No, I take that back! This seems to be the norm for the boys in blue, not the exception. What you see in the video below is exactly what black people have been talking about for four-hundred years. What struck me was white residents said, “The cop should have gotten a medal!” This was the same kind of remarks made when Michael Brown and Eric Garner was killed.

In the video, there were a lot of whites present but none were touched. Not slammed to the ground or even talked too. It appeared the fat guy and a few others were acting as back-ups to the cop. But the same narrative was put forth – the cop was afraid for his life. There was absolutely a bias here and his life was not in danger. More troubling was that the crazed cop is a supervisor and is a trainer of other cops, which from what I see the argument that the cops need more training goes away. Black people have said all along that the cops are trained to do what they are doing.

Outrage, of course, but when the issue of race comes up – they act as if it is a red hearing. Then when you watch the reporting on CNN or wherever you can predict what the talking heads will say; “the cops have a hard job or that there are a lot of good cops.” To that I say if the so-called good cops say nothing or do nothing about the bad cops – they are bad too! I am not going to spend much time on this subject so I will say – everybody can see this was wrong.

I am thankful that we now have video that contradict the cops who lie more often than not in their police reports. Walter Scott and Young Tamir Rice’s death was wrong; Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and the daily killing of black people in America all are wrong. In the case the authorities have to think about this cops being fit for the job is a damn shame. Unless and until these folks in blue began to be fired and arrested for the crimes they commit the problem will grow, and God help us all. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


What Would Jesus Say?

It is safe to say that most people believe Jesus is coming back and/or think he is the savior of mankind. Whether you are a believer or not, as a result of the conditions of man might be the reason he has not returned. I’ll tell you that if I were him and see the sad state of affairs man has created, I would seek out a Noah and start all over again!

When I look at the senseless murders due to wars, be it in the streets or against nations or this divided nation whose views on feeding the homeless, the lack of healthcare, poverty, the murders and other acts against religious thinking proves civilization is in despair. Hippocrates use as justification their support of such evil by adding scripture in God’s name. My sense they believe their view is the natural order of things or maybe God’s plan for life. I cannot and will not speak for God, but I do not believe this is what God planned.

When it comes to the wretchedness of government and its leaders, it shameful to see the actions and hateful diatribes about race, the least of thee, and religion. As you know, all of these issues are commonly used by the right-wing nuts to vilify the poor. Admittedly, and shamefully, race is and has always been a stain on the soul of America. As I began to ponder just what kind of country we would have without a government that mandates laws for civilization to exist. What would Jesus or you higher power think!

More disturbing is that religion, God, and Jesus have become little more than instruments of the wicked. For example, on any given Sundays between the hours of 9 AM – 1 PM is the most-segregated hours in the country. I can’t speak to what is in the mind of others except for what they say, and some of the vitriol gives a good indication as to what’s in their hearts. I, in good conscience, rail against the racially charged political environment, and for sure the teabaggers designed declaration of “taking back their country.”

Finally, on the issue of justice and racial justice in particular; maybe understanding that Jesus came from that region of the world where his hue had to be of color could more likely be one of the reasons why he had to be crucified! Just as was the case with the murder of Jesus; there are people who are killing the messenger of truth now.

What I think Jesus would say, as his mission was for the salvation of the least of thee, I think he would say – “Thou shalt not Kill.” And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective.


Stand Your Ground Against Injustice

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History has proven there is only one way to get the attention of unmovable ideologies to achieve change. Matching and protests are strategies, which is nothing more than a good show for the cameras. For example, the March on Washington and the Million Man March produced little in terms of measurable results. On the other hand, BOYCOTT’s work – the Birmingham Bus Boycott and the Martin Luther King Holiday Boycott on the state of Arizona – WORKED! It is time to stop BS-ing and BOYCOTT INJUSTICE and the system that supports connected to it. We will then get change. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Remembering Juneteeth

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We must never forget Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that those enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863.

The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance. Many attempts to explain the two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years.

The story often told is of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another story is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. Then there is yet another story that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All of which, or neither of these version, could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln’s authority over the rebellious states was in question. Regardless, the conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.

One of General Granger’s first orders of business was to read to the people of Texas, General Order Number 3 which began most significantly with:

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.”

The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation. While many lingered to learn of this new employer to employee relationship, many left before these offers were completely off the lips of their former ‘masters’ – attesting to the varying conditions on the plantations and the realization of freedom. Even with nowhere to go, many felt that leaving the plantation would be their first grasp of freedom.

North was a logical destination and for many it represented true freedom, while the desire to reach family members in neighboring states drove the some into Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Settling into these new areas as free men and women brought on new realities and the challenges of establishing a heretofore non-existent status for black people in America. Recounting the memories of that great day in June of 1865 and its festivities would serve as motivation as well as a release from the growing pressures encountered in their new territory. The celebration of June 19th was coined “Juneteenth” and grew with more participation from descendants.

The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date. A range of activities were provided to entertain the masses, many of which continue in the tradition today. Juneteenth almost always focused on education and self improvement. Thus, often guest speakers are brought in, and the elders are called upon to recount the events of the past. Prayer services were also a major part of these celebrations.

The Civil Rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s yielded both positive and negative results for the Juneteenth celebrations. While it pulled many of the African American youth away and into the struggle for racial equality, many linked these struggles to the historical struggles of their ancestors. This was evidenced by student demonstrators involved in the Atlanta civil rights campaign in the early 1960’s, who wore Juneteenth freedom buttons. Again in 1968, Juneteenth received another strong resurgence through Poor Peoples March to Washington D.C. Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s call for people of all races, creeds, economic levels and professions to come to Washington to show support for the poor.

Juneteenth today, celebrates African American freedom and achievement, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. As it takes on a more national, symbolic and even global perspective, the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten, for all of the roots tie back to this fertile soil from which a national day of pride is growing.

The future of Juneteenth looks bright as the number of cities and states creating Juneteenth committees continues to increase. Respect and appreciation for all of our differences grow out of exposure and working together. Getting involved and supporting Juneteenth celebrations creates new bonds of friendship and understanding among us. This indeed brightens our future – and that is the Spirit of Juneteenth. So lest not forget!!! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

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Beaten for Being Black: A Reward For His Service

Keith pic 2Ladies and Gentlemen, there are times when one of my friends makes me aware of a cause or injustice they’d like to share on Thought Provoking Perspective. This case/situation/event happens all too often to people of color but when it happens to a service man in the military for no apparent reason and by law enforcement it should make us just as concerned as the deaths of Martin and Davis, because it can happen to you too.

Beaten for Being Black: A Reward For Service To His Country
As Reported by Nicole Fa’Lon Garrett

“Serve and protect” seems to have become the new “Catch a Nigger, Lynch a Nigger” as was the case in the years we’d hope was long past. From coast to coast, in this “great land” it is ALWAYS open season on Black men. The days may be gone where whites castrated and hung Black men from trees. But whites will shoot an unarmed Black man and not even plant a gun on him. Whites will tie a Black man to the back of a truck and drag him for miles. Or they’ll just beat the Black man until he stops moving hoping that he never rises again.

Keith Wood is a 25 year old father of two who has dedicated his service to this country by joining the army in order to ensure that all of our God given liberties are preserved.

At approximately 2 am on February 23, 2014, Wood, along with 3 other friends, was walking to the parking structure after leaving a concert at Club Chaos in El Paso, Texas. A group of 12-15 El Paso police officers began following them and one of the officers noticed Wood’s Chicago hat and commented, “You’re from Chicago? I hear you Chicago boys think you’re tough.”

Wood respectfully informed the police officers that he was from Chicago, in Texas serving in the military, and was simply trying to go home to his family. Sensing that the officers were obviously out for blood, Wood dialed 911 for assistance. That was when he received the first blow to the back.

At this point, the officers began viciously kicking and beating him with their nightsticks. Wood loss consciousness three times while being repeatedly hit in the head, face, and back by punches and night sticks.

The officers snatched his earrings out of his ears, his chain off his neck, and dragged his Chicago hat through the dirt. Can you imaging being beaten by several officers with nightsticks? How many other young Black men have already suffered this fate?

Wood was not being disrespectful, loud and ignorant, or obnoxious. As a matter of fact, he wasn’t even facing the officers when they struck him. Wood was taken into custody for public intoxication although he was not drunk. He was released without any charges. But he was left to live with the scars of the injustices that Black men must endure in America. Viciously beaten for being born Black.

Keith pic 1Wood has bruises all over his face and body, has chronic headaches, and a contusion. He has been treated by the military doctors three times and has missed work due to the pain. But his biggest wound is to his spirit. Even as he serves his country to secure our liberties, white men in America still see him as just another nigger. Looks like we need to create a task force to protect the liberties of the Black man in America because their liberties are at the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.

Wood has requested a copy of the police report, but has not received it yet, so he does not know the officers names who were involved in this brutal, unprovoked attack.  The officer who struck the first blow to the back was Badge Number xxxx. Another officer wore Badge Number xxxx.

Emmett Till was lynched almost 60 years ago in 1955. But the more things change, the more they stay the same. From the Jordan Davis’ to the Trayvon Martin’s, Black males in America are fair game for anyone who wants to “serve and protect” which is only the new version of “catch a nigger, lynch a nigger.”

How old will your son be before he gets his first blow with a night stick or pistol whipped with a gun? And will your Black male child live to tell about it?

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The information was provided by Nicole Fa’Lon Garrett, author of Double Dippin’, born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s in English from the University of Iowa and Chicago State University respectively. She currently lives in Los Angeles, California where she is a high school English teacher.


The Right to Self Defense

STATEMENT TO THE PRESS
March 1, 2014

From:           Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign
FreeMarissaNow@gmail.com
www.freemarissanow.org

Angela Corey Aims to Increase Marissa Alexander Sentence to 60 Years; Outrageous Targeting of Alexander Impacts All Women. 

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Demonstrating a stunning abuse of power, Florida State Prosecutor, Angela Corey, announced that she aims to increase the prison sentence for Marissa Alexander from 20 to 60 years in the upcoming July 28th trial.  In 2012, Alexander – an African American mother of three in Jacksonville, Florida —  was sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 20 years for firing a warning shot upwards into a wall to defend her life from her abusive estranged husband.  She caused no injuries.  Alexander successfully appealed the unjust trial and was granted a new trial. In November 2013, after serving nearly three years in prison, she was released on bond to home detention until her new trial.

Yet as a consequence of winning the appeal to hopefully secure a more fair trial, Alexander now faces the alarming prospect that the original devastating sentence could be tripled in the new trial.  In the upcoming trial, Corey says she intends to seek three 20 year sentences for Alexander to be served consecutively rather than concurrently, tripling the mandatory minimum to 60 years.

Free Marissa Now member and victim’s advocate, Sumayya Fire, stated, “Remember that this entire case boils down to a woman defending her life from her husband who attacked her, strangled her, threatened to kill her, whose beatings have sent her to the hospital and likely caused her to have premature labor.  A husband who confirmed in a deposition that he beat her, that he was in a rage when he attacked her, and that he has beaten other women with whom he was involved.

Remember that when Marissa Alexander fired her warning shot to save her own life, she caused no injuries.  Now she’s facing the very real possibility of spending the rest of her life in prison for that act of self-defense.  That should send a chill down the back of every person in this country who believes that women who are attacked have the right to defend themselves.  Anyone who believes that domestic violence is unjust should be deeply shaken by Corey’s abusive prosecution of Marissa Alexander and should be advocating for Alexander’s freedom.”

Sumayya Fire and other members of Free Marissa Now believe that Angela Corey has launched a campaign of escalating punishment of Marissa Alexander to shield herself from charges of mishandling trials and failing to secure guilty verdicts for the murders of black teens, Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin, in addition to various lawsuits targeting her office for misconduct, and criticism for a pattern of maliciously over-charging defendants in order to bully them into plea bargains. ”

Corey is on the defense and appears to be substituting vindictiveness for justice,” said Free Marissa Now member, Helen Gilbert. “If anyone still thought Angela Corey was seeking justice rather than making a political power-play, this latest news must erase all doubt. Corey is using the full power of the system to serve her own political ambitions, at the sake of one woman’s life and every woman’s safety.”

Despite Corey’s scare and smear tactics, the national Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign is resolved to fight for Marissa Alexander’s freedom, and for the lives and freedom of all victims of domestic violence.  The campaign calls on the Florida legislature to repeal all mandatory minimum laws, and ensure that judges have discretion over whether sentences can be served consecutively or concurrently.

Jacksonville activist and Free Marissa Now leader Aleta Alston-Toure’ adds, “We also call on all people who want to end domestic violence, who believe in the right to self-defense, and who want to end mass incarceration to support the Marissa Alexander Legal Defense Fund.  Alexander faces $250,000 in legal fees and $2,205 for the ankle monitor she is forced to wear while under house arrest. All these cost are waged against an innocent woman who needs everyone’s help.

A 60 year sentence for Marissa Alexander would not only be devastating for her, her children and family, and her community, it would be a decisive blow to the right to self defense for black women and all women.  Incarcerating Marissa Alexander will send a strong message to all survivors that violence against them will be ignored and they instead will be subject to prosecution if they defend their lives. It is up to us to make sure victims of domestic violence are not forced to choose between saving their lives and spending the rest of their lives in prison. Enough is enough!  Please join Free Marissa Now!”

Contributions to the Marissa Alexander Freedom Fund can be made at http://igg.me/at/freemarissa2. Free Marissa Now can be reached at www.freemarissanow.org, freemarissanow@gmail.com, and on facebooktwitter, and tumblr at “freemarissanow”.

The information in this post was taken from “The Free Marissa Now” webpage in support of the Mobilization Campaign, which is an international grassroots campaign led by a core of organizers representing the African American/Black Women’s Cultural Alliance, New Jim Crow Movement – Jacksonville, Radical Women, INCITE!, and the Pacific Northwest Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander.


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