Breaking News

When the past is present…

 

Cause of Fire at Mount Zion AME Church Ruled ‘Natural’

By Phil Helsel and Pete Williams, NBC News

Investigators in South Carolina said Thursday that a fire at a historic black church this week was most likely sparked by natural causes and that no criminal intent was found.

The-Mt-Zion-AME-Church-in-Gree

The State Law Enforcement Division, or SLED, said the investigation into the blaze that gutted Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church on Tuesday was conducted with help of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as well as local officials.

“Based upon the scene examination, the fire debris analysis, witness statements and a lightning strike report, the cause of the fire was best classified as natural,” SLED said in a statement, adding that the investigation is closed.

Tuesday’s fire occurred in an atmosphere of heightened tensions in South Carolina after a white gunman opened fire at another historic black church, Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, and killed nine people in what authorities have called a racially motivated attack

At least seven black churches have burned in the South since the massacre at Emanuel AME, authorities have said. Newman said three fires that have been investigated were determined to have been caused by natural or electrical causes.

“If in fact there is evidence to support hate crime charges in any one of these cases, the FBI, in coordination with the ATF and local authorities, will work closely with the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices to bring those forward,” Newman said.

Mount Zion has been the target of racial hatred in the past. The church, founded more than 110 years ago, was burned to the ground on June 20, 1995, by two members of the Ku Klux Klan.

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Donald Trump says African-American youths ‘have no spirit’

By Kiran Moodley, the Independent

On the same day that a New Hampshire poll put Donald Trump second in the race to be the Republican Party’s nominee for president in 2016, the New York mogul said that African-American youths had “no spirit” and blamed Barack Obama for dividing the country.

Mr. Trump was talking at the annual dinner of the Maryland GOP on 23 June, which state officials said would draw in over $100,000 for the party in the Northeastern state.

Talking with reporters, he spoke briefly about race relations in the country following the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina last week and after President Obama discussed the matter with Marc Maron, with the country’s first black president using the “N-word”.

Mr Trump said that African-American youth had reached “a point where they’ve just about never done more poorly, there’s no spirit, there’s killings on an hourly basis virtually in places like Baltimore and Chicago and many other places.”…

“There’s no spirit. I thought that President Obama would be a great cheerleader for the country. And he’s really become very divisive.”

Mr Trump was speaking as a Suffolk Unversity poll in New Hampshire put him in second place behind former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the brother of former President George W Bush and the son of the 41st President, George H W Bush…

Mr Trump also commented on the US-Mexico border, relaying a conversation he had had with some Mexican waiters, telling the audience that he gets on really well with people from south of the border.

“I love Mexicans. I’ve had tremendous relationships with people in Mexico. But we need a strong border. I said we need a wall!”

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Woman Removes Confederate Flag In Front Of South Carolina Statehouse

By Hilary Hanson, the Huffington Post

A woman scaled a flagpole in front of the South Carolina Statehouse on Saturday morning and removed the Confederate battle flag.

“We removed the flag today because we can’t wait any longer,” Bree Newsome, 30, said in a statement released by activist group Blackbird, which was helping out with press but did not facilitate the event itself. “We can’t continue like this another day. It’s time for a new chapter where we are sincere about dismantling white supremacy and building toward true racial justice and equality.”

Newsome now faces a charge of defacing monuments on state Capitol grounds, The Associated Press reported. The offense carries a possible fine of up to $5,000 and up to three years in prison.

Newsome did not act alone, but was part of a larger group of activists who wanted to see the flag come down. Newsome, who is from North Carolina, is black, but the group she is part of is multiracial, according to the release.

She made it about halfway up the pole when authorities commanded her to come down, but she continued to go up and remove the flag, which was padlocked in place. She was arrested, along with a man and a woman who accompanied her to the Statehouse grounds in Columbia. James Ian Tyson, 30, is facing the same charges as Newsome, according to the AP.

The flag was raised up again about 45 minutes later.

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White Supremacists More Dangerous To America Than Foreign Terrorists, Study Says

By Julia Craven, the Huffington Post

Nine people were added to a long list of lives taken by domestic terrorism when Dylann Roof allegedly began shooting inside a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17.

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At least 48 people have been killed stateside by right-wing extremists in the 14 years since since the September 11 attacks — almost twice as many as were killed by self-identified jihadists in that time, according to a study released Wednesday by the New America Foundation, a Washington, D.C., research center. The study found that radical anti-government groups or white supremacists were responsible for most of the terror attacks.

The data counters many conventional thoughts on what terrorism is and isn’t. Since Sept. 11, many Americans attribute terror attacks to Islamic extremists instead of those in the right wing. But the numbers don’t back up this popular conception, said Charles Kurzman, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Kurzman is co-authoring a study with David Schanzer of Duke University, set to be published Thursday, that asks police departments to rank the three biggest threats from violent extremism in their jurisdiction.

Law enforcement agencies reported they were more concerned about the activities of right-wing extremist groups than Islamic extremists in their jurisdictions (about 74 percent versus 39 percent) due to the “menacing” rhetoric used by some of these groups — and that they were training officers to take action when they saw signs of potentially violent individuals, Kurzman and Schanzer found…

Accused domestic terrorist Dylann Roof.

Accused domestic terrorist Dylann Roof.

The accused Charleston shooter is currently being investigated under domestic terrorism charges by the Department of Justice — a move that acknowledges the long history of anti-black terrorist attacks

And while most officially acknowledged anti-black terrorism cases occurred during the eras of slavery, Reconstruction and Jim Crow, as recent news demonstrate, this type of terrorism is still an ongoing concern.

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Thousands Walk Hand In Hand To Show Support For Mother Emanuel Church

By Sebastian Murdock & Donovan X. Ramsey, the Huffington Post

On Sunday evening, hours after Emanuel A.M.E. Church opened its doors for the first service following the killing of nine of its congregants Wednesday, thousands in Charleston took to the streets in a show of support and solidarity.

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A line of people packed Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, stretching more than two miles from the town of Mount Pleasant to the city of Charleston. Observers on the bridge, and thousands more at the base, joined hands to create a “unity chain,” then held a moment of silence that lasted five minutes in honor of the fallen.

Last Wednesday, 21-year-old Dylann Roof joined a Bible study at Emanuel A.M.E. Police say just an hour into the service, Roof removed a gun from a small pack he was wearing and began shooting. When the gunfire ceased, Tywanza Sanders, Ethel Lance, Cynthia Hurd, Rev. Sharonda Singleton, Myra Thompson, Susie Jackson, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney and Rev. Daniel L. Simmons Sr. were dead.

Police estimated that 10,000 to 15,000 took part in Sunday’s gathering, according to the Post and Courier. Cars drove slowly past the bridge, taking in the sight and honking horns in solidarity as people chanted “Charleston strong!”…

Strangers could be seen holding one another. Many held handmade signs promoting peace, love and unity.

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“Forgiveness is key to unity,” one sign read. “We stand united,” said another.

Many in the crowd expressed gratitude through tears at the way the city had handled the senseless violence. Others handed out cold water bottles to those battling the evening’s sticky humidity.

“I think that the victims of the church shooting are really being honored in such a positive, positive way,” said Elizabeth Gearhart, 18. ”It’s such a great example for the rest of the world to see.”

Jill Johnson, 55, walked through the crowd with a copy of the Post and Courier raised above her head, with the headline: “Hate won’t win.”

 Read the full article here.

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Racism Is Not A Mental Illness

By Julia Craven, the Huffington Post

An act of terrorism unfolded on American soil last night when Dylann Roof allegedly killed nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Impromptu memorial outside Emanuel AME Church.

Impromptu memorial outside Emanuel AME Church.

The victims were attending a Wednesday night Bible study. Roof reportedly sat in on this service for about an hour before going on a shooting rampage. His intention was “to shoot black people” — a plot that had been in the works for at least six months. Sylvia Johnson, a relative of one of the victims, said Roof told his targets, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”

Yet mainstream media has already begun wondering what really might have motivated him to kill — as we often do with white murderers. Fox News analysts ignored the racist flags on Roof’s clothing and suggested the attack was religiously motivated, while The Daily Beast made sure to let America know Roof was “quiet” and “softspoken.” Other outlets cited his use of a medication that assists with addiction recovery.

And, of course, some have already questioned whether Roof was mentally ill

This narrative — which is not afforded to people of color — feeds into the assumption that incidents like what happened at Emanuel AME Church are isolated tragedies executed by lone gunmen. Essentially, it excuses the system that allows racialized terrorism to keep happening.

Only around 22 percent of mass murderers suffer from clinical mental illnesses, while the rest are just people with narcissistic and paranoid personality traits like entitlement, self-righteousness and resentment. They strike back at people they both know and don’t know. At the time of the killings, they’re usually feeling a combination of murderous rage, utter hopelessness and suicidal despair — but these things are not mental illness, Stone wrote in the journal Violence and Gender this past May.

What we know of Roof so far echoes these facts, Stone told HuffPost. Men like this, said Stone, are susceptible to white supremacist ideology because it has the ability to “[reverse] a feeling of worthlessness and inadequacy.” Historically, white supremacy has been attractive to disenfranchised white men, explained Stone, because it gives their suffering meaning and it gives them a cause to rally around…

Dylann Roof

Dylann Roof

Racism is not a mental illness. Unlike actual mental illnesses, it is taught and instilled. Mental illness was not the state policy of South Carolina, or any state for that matter, for hundreds of years — racism was. Assuming actions grounded in racial biases are irrational not only neutralizes their impact, it also paints the perpetrator as a victim…

Racism isn’t a mental illness, but the psychological, emotional and physical effects on those who experience it are very real. And I’m exhausted.

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Texas teacher’s Facebook rant about McKinney pool party gets her ‘relieved of her duties’: report

By Jason Silverstein, New York Daily News

Karen Fitzgibbons lost her job after a Facebook post that said blacks are “causing the problems” and advocated racial segregation…

“This makes me ANGRY!” Karen Fitzgibbons, a fourth grade teacher at Bennett Elementary School in Wolfforth, wrote in her racist rant Wednesday about Corporal Eric Casebolt of McKinney, Texas.

School photo of fourth grade teacher Karen Fitzgibbons

School photo of Karen Fitzgibbons. Inset: Corporal Casebolt wrestles a teenage girl to the ground.

“This officer should not have to resign. I’m going to just go ahead and say it…the blacks are the ones causing the problems and this ‘racial tension.’ I guess that’s what happens when you flunk out of school and have no education,” she wrote, as reported by KCBD.

Fitzgibbons went on: “I’m almost to the point of wanting them all segregated on one side of town so they can hurt each other and leave the innocent people alone. Maybe the 50s and 60s were really on to something.”…

Shortly after posting her tirade, which she wrote along with a news article she shared about Casebolt’s resignation, Fitzgibbons deleted her entire Facebook account — but it was too late for the 16-year veteran of the school to back away from the backlash.

Fitzgibbons was “relieved of her duties” due to her “offensive, insensitive and disrespectful” post, the Frenship Independent School District announced Thursday.

Fitzgibbons issued an apology Thursday, saying she “let my emotions get the best of me, and instead of taking a deep breath, vented in an inappropriate way.”…

Casebolt was suspended, and eventually resigned, after video of police presence at a suburban pool party showed behavior his own boss later deemed “indefensible.”…

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This Father’s Day, Let’s Shatter the Myth About the Absent Black Father

By Kirsten West Savali, theRoot.com

Fact: More young black fathers are raising their children at home than are not. If you’re surprised, keep reading.

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Black men are present and engaged fathers who love their children.

Black men are present and engaged fathers who love their children.

I needed to write that twice, in hopes that it cuts through the racist and patently false narrative amplified by mainstream media that the majority of black fathers are scurrilous beings who are locked up and tuned out, low on education and high on weed—too busy getting busy to get a business of their own…

“People think they don’t care, but we know they do,” said Joseph Jones, president of the Center for Urban Families, an organization that works to support African-American fathers, to the Los Angeles Times. “We see how dads are fighting against the odds to be engaged in the lives of their children.”

In 2013 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study that I’ve cited often over the years, “Fathers’ Involvement With Their Children: United States, 2006-2010” (pdf). It does a great job shattering some pervasive myths about African-American fathers. The findings include the fact that more African-American fathers live with their children (2.5 million) than live apart from their children (1.7 million).

Of African-American fathers surveyed who live with their children,

* 78.2 percent fed or ate meals with their children daily, compared with 73.9 percent of white fathers;

* 70.4 percent bathed, diapered or dressed their children daily, compared with 60.0 percent of white fathers;

* 82.2 percent played with their children daily, compared with 82.7 percent of white fathers;

* 34.9 percent read to their children daily, compared with 24.9 percent of white fathers;

* 40.6 percent helped their children with their homework or checked to make sure that they finished it daily, compared with 29.3 percent of white fathers.

* Of the fathers who live away from their children, African-American fathers outperformed white and Latino fathers on nearly all measures surveyed, including reading to their children daily, helping them with homework and changing their diapers.

Read the full article here.

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‘Are you an African American?’ Why an NAACP official isn’t saying.

By Justin Wm. Moyer, the Washington Post

A controversy is raging over whether a prominent Washington state civil rights activist and Howard University graduate who claimed she was African American is actually white.

Rachel Dolezal, 37, is the president of the Spokane NAACP and has claimed to be the victim of a number of hate crimes. As questions were raised about the veracity of some of her reports this week, a white couple from Montana came forward to claim that Dolezal is their daughter.

Earlier this week, KXLY4 asked Dolezal about a photo posted to the NAACP chapter’s Facebook page of a black man identified as Dolezal’s father…

“I don’t understand the question,” Dolezal said. She walked off-camera as Humphrey asked: “Are your parents, are they white?”

Dolezal did not return requests for comment.

In a telephone interview with The Washington Post and others, Lawrence and Ruthanne Dolezal of Troy, Mont., said Rachel Dolezal is their daughter, and that they are Caucasian.

“There seems to be some question of how Rachel is representing her identity and ethnicity,” Lawrence Dolezal said. “We are definitely her birth parents. We are both of Caucasian and European descent — Czech, German and a few other things.”

The Dolezals provided The Post with family photos of Rachel as well as what they said was her birth certificate…

Purportedly a photo of Dolazel as a child, provided by her famiy.

Purportedly a photo of Dolezal as a child, provided by her estranged parents

Lawrence and Ruthanne Dolezal, a Christian couple who adopted four young children — two of whom are black — while Rachel was a teenager, said her decision to misrepresent her racial background, if that’s what she’s doing, may be related to her family and social justice work.

“The adoption of the children definitely fueled her interest as a teenager in being involved with people of color,” Ruthanne Dolezal said. “We’ve always had friends of different ethnicities. It was a natural thing for her.”…

Lawrence Dolezal said. “And ever since then she’s been involved in social justice advocacy for African Americans. She assimilated into that culture so strongly that that’s where she transferred her identity.”

He added: “But unfortunately, she is not ethnically by birth African American. She is our daughter by birth. And that’s the way it is.”

Rachel Dolezal did not return requests for comment. However, she dodged questions about her race this week after allegations that some hate crimes she had reported were fabricated.

“That question is not as easy as it seems,” Dolezal said after being contacted by the Spokane Spokesman-Review at Eastern Washington University, where she is a part-time professor in the Africana studies program. “There’s a lot of complexities … and I don’t know that everyone would understand that.”

She added: “We’re all from the African continent.”…

Read the full article here.

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Civil War vet to be honored 98 years after burial

By Susan Skorupe, Reno Gazette-Journal

Scott Carnal was born a slave in Virginia about 1844 and died a free man and a Civil War veteran in Dayton, Nevada in June 1917.

On Sunday, the Historical Society of Dayton Valley gave Carnal the ceremonial burial he probably didn’t get nearly 100 years ago.

The grave of Private Scott Carnal.

The grave of Private Scott Carnal.

“We want to see that he has the military funeral he probably never had,” said Linda Clements, the ceremony coordinator.

Much is known about Pvt. Scott Carnal, thanks to Clements’ and others’ research into military, census and other public records. John Riggs of the Sons of the Union Veterans started digging for details earlier this year, obtaining information through military records…

Carnal was born in Rock Alum Springs, Virginia, later part of West Virginia. He later was sold to John Campbell of Louisiana. In 1863, Carnal ran away and joined Company K, 1st Kansas Colored Infantry of the Union Army, later the 39th USCIN.

“He managed to be a soldier for only a few months,” Clements said. “He was in the Battle of Honey Springs in what today is Oklahoma, and was wounded by a musket ball in the left thigh.”

Treated and discharged from the Army in October 1863, Carnal earned a pension of $8 a month. He had difficulty working because his leg wound didn’t heal properly. Doctors told him if he didn’t have the leg amputated he would die, but Carnal went to Colorado to work in mining.

“But he ended up running a fruit stand,” Clements said.

In March 1874, doctors amputated Carnal’s leg in Denver. He applied for and received military disability, but his leg didn’t heal well and he couldn’t wear an artificial limb. Carnal moved to a veterans’ home…

An honor guard fires a ceremonial salute.

An honor guard fires a ceremonial salute.

Eventually, a government official determined that Carnal’s pension was long overdue and he was awarded the funds…

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