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When the past is present…

 

The Unflattering History of the Cop Who’d Run Over Black People

By Mike Mullen, Citypages.com

Sgt. Jeffrey Rothecker is very, very sorry about a recent Facebook post advising Twin Cities residents to run over Black Lives Matter protesters demonstrating on Martin Luther King Day. We know this because Rothecker issued a statement to that effect, with the help of a PR firm, saying he was “extremely sorry” to everyone: The people of St. Paul, his fellow officers, his family.

Sgt. Rothecker arrests a protester at the 2008 Republican Convention in St. Paul, MN

Sgt. Rothecker arrests a protester at the 2008 Republican Convention in St. Paul, MN

What we don’t know is whether Rothecker is sorry for leaving nearly identical and equally offensive Facebook posts in November, back when Black Lives Matter protesters were trying to draw attention to Jamar Clark’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police.

If Rothecker didn’t regret those posts before, he probably does by now.

Posting under the moniker “JM Roth,” Rothecker took the fight right to the people he disagreed with, replying to posts on the Facebook page of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, a local progressive nonprofit. According to Becky Dernbach, communications director for NOC, Rothecker was a “serial troll” around the time of Clark’s death and the resulting protests…

Rothecker wrote, “They should’ve ran them over. Obviously their parents never taught them not to play on the highway. If drivers would’ve just kept driving, any idiot that wants to walk onto the highway and risk getting hit, it’s their fault and not that of the driver.”

He added “F BLM” and “any others that support what they are doing.”

In a later exchange in the same thread, Rothecker espoused a similar legal viewpoint, writing that drivers are within their rights to deliberately run someone over, so long as they “stop and speak with police.”

It should be noted that Rothecker’s not a particularly accomplished driver himself. According to police department personnel records, complaints have been filed against Rothecker over the years, and seven were upheld, resulting in discipline. Three of those were for car accidents.

In 1998, Rothecker was blamed for not turning on his lights and siren while heading to an “emergency,” resulting in an accident. In 2007, Rothecker was “pulling out of headquarters to respond to a call when [he] hit a post,” which internal affairs ascribed to “driver inattention.” And in May 2014, Rothecker was in another accident while driving his cop car, this one blamed on his failure to yield…

Rothecker has been placed on leave for the January posts encouraging drivers to plow through crowds of protesters on Martin Luther King Day. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and the city’s police department have strongly condemned his message. Just about the only people supporting Rothecker are under professional obligation to be in his corner. The St. Paul Police Federation helped Rothecker release his statement of contrition earlier this week, and, in their own release, noted that Rothecker is an honorably discharged military veteran with 22 years on the force.

“He has many supporters in the community and among his fellow officers,” reads the statement…

Read the full article here.

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ABHM Founder’s Day Gathering 2016: Black Voices Matter!

Celebrate Black History Month with an Evening of Arts and Culture

February 27, 2016
Centennial Hall • 733 N. 8th Street • Milwaukee

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Blk Voices Historic Struggle

Please join us in celebrating the civil rights legacy of ABHM’s founder, Dr. James Cameron, at our Gathering for Racial Repair and Reconciliation. This annual event also serves to build community and raise funds to operate the museum’s public programs.

This year’s program, Black Voices Matter! An Evening of Arts and Culture, dramatizes the historic and enduring struggle against violence and oppression by black artists and writers.

With this performance, Hansberry-Sands celebrates its 35th anniversary!

With this performance, Hansberry-Sands celebrates its 35th anniversary!

5:00pm – Doors open

  • Unveiling of a new museum exhibit  by the Milwaukee Public Library
  • Release, sale and signing of the new illustrated, expanded edition of Dr. Cameron’s inspiring memoir, A Time of Terror: A Survivor’s Story

6:00pm – Curtain rises on Black Voices Matter! an ensemble of 3 one-act plays

Marti Gobel as Ida B. Wells

The multi-talented Marti Gobel as Ida B. Wells.

Narrator: Robert Smith, UWM Associate Vice Chancellor for Global Inclusion & Engagement

Talkback Moderator: Eric Von, Milwaukee talk radio show host

ToT front w back excerpt

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Launch & Signing

A Time of Terror: A Survivor’s Story will be released to the public for the first time. The book, which retails at $24.99, will be available at an event discount of $20 for 1 copy or $30 for 2 copies, when pre-ordered with a ticket. (If you want more than 2 copies, please write to us at sales@atimeofterror.info.)

Books at the event: A limited number of books will be available for purchase immediately following the performance, so it is best to pre-order books with your tickets by 2/21. Pick up your pre-ordered book at the event by showing your ticket.

The late Dr. Cameron’s son, Virgil, will be on hand to sign books, along with the writers (Reggie Jackson, Dr. Robert Smith, Dr. Fran Kaplan) who contributored new material to this expanded edition.

lifewrites-press-logoTo read excerpts from the book or for more information, click here.

A Time of Terror is published by LifeWrites Press, a project of the Dr. James Cameron Legacy Foundation.


Proceeds from ticket and book sales support the ongoing public programming of America’s Black Holocaust Museum. 

The Legacy Foundation is very grateful to the Wisconsin Humanities Council, the Milwaukee Public Library, our Corporate Sponsors, and our Community Partners for making this Founder’s Day Program possible.

 

Stephen Colbert Let DeRay McKesson Interview Him About His Whiteness

By Zeba Blay, the Huffington Post


The “Late Show” made a bold move on Monday night when #BlackLivesMatter activist DeRay McKesson, named one of Fortune magazine’s “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” of 2015, came on as a guest to discuss his new anti-police violence initiative Campaign Zero, the mission of #BlackLivesMatter and why sentiments like “All Lives Matter” are disruptive to the movement.

“You know, it’s such a distraction,” McKesson said. “If ‘All Lives Matter’ was true, then we wouldn’t have to be out in the street. The police have killed 26 people just in 2016. We have so much work to do.”

Watching a key black activist on a popular late night talk show speaking candidly about police brutality, the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and the Democratic debate was amazing enough. And things got even more interesting when Colbert asked McKesson to help him understand his white privilege.

“I might be the whitest person you ever met,” Colbert said. “So I might have the most privilege of any white person you’ve ever met. How do I identify that in my own life?”

“What you can do is extend that role so you can dismantle it,” McKesson suggested. “You can create opportunity for people. You can amplify issues in ways that other people can’t, and you can use resources to create space for people.”

In response, Colbert switched seats with McKesson, encouraging him to “ask me about being white.”…

The 8-minute interview proved that it is possible to have frank and even funny conversations about race and white privilege in the mainstream.

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebrates 30th Anniversary

By Kate Brumback, the Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — The King Center in Atlanta is set to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday Monday at Ebenezer Baptist Church.mlk

The commemorative service caps more than a week of events meant to celebrate the slain civil rights icon’s legacy. The overarching theme of this year’s celebration is “Remember! Celebrate! Act! King’s Legacy of Freedom for Our World.”

“What most people around the world want, whatever nation they live in, is the freedom to participate in government, the freedom to prosper in life and the freedom to peacefully coexist,” said King’s daughter, the Rev. Bernice King.

The theme of freedom is especially meaningful this year, she said, because it is the 50th anniversary of her father going to Chicago to highlight the need for open and fair housing. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in January 1966 announced plans for the Chicago Freedom Movement.

In a nod to that legacy, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro is set to speak at Monday’s service…king_statue

Among the highlights of the events leading up to the commemorative service was a two-part discussion on Jan. 9 — part one was The Race Factor and part two was Rights vs. Responsibilities — that was part of the King Center’s series “The Beloved Community Talks,” which focuses on King’s philosophy of nonviolence. Part of that philosophy involves having truthful, candid, intense, uncomfortable conversations without anyone feeling demoralized, Bernice King said.

“Conflict is inevitable. Differences are inevitable. We will never get to a place where we will all agree on everything,” she said. “We have to have a manner of dealing with each other where we respect the dignity and worth of the person.”…

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Congressman Wonders If Congressional Black Caucus Cares About All Black Lives

By Julia Craven, the Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) says he’s heard a lot about how the criminal justice system and other institutions treat African-Americans from the Congressional Black Caucus.

Representative  Sean Duffy, (R-Wis)

Representative Sean Duffy, (R-Wis)

But on Thursday, he wondered aloud on the House floor why the CBC wasn’t more vocal about “how their communities are targeted in abortion.”

“Here are some stunning facts. The African-American community is 15 percent of the country as a whole, but accounts for 40 percent of the abortions. Fifteen percent of Americans, 40 percent of the abortions. In New York City, the most recent statistic is that African-American women had more abortions than live births,” he said…

Non-Hispanic black women actually accounted for 36 percent of the population that received abortions in the U.S., according to a 2011 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whereas white women accounted for 37 percent — but black women were about three times more likely to receive an abortion.

“My liberal friends, Congressional Black Caucus members, talk about fighting for the defenseless, the hopeless and the downtrodden,” Duffy added. “There is no one more hopeless and voiceless than an unborn baby, but their silence is deafening. I can’t hear them. Where are they standing up for their communities, advocating and fighting for their right to life?”

What Duffy didn’t express was any understanding of why so many black women have abortions. CBC member Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), however, provided the congressman with that context in a statement she delivered on the House floor on Friday:

“I don’t expect Representative Duffy to understand why his comments were so offensive, nor do I anticipate him apologizing for them. What he and so many of his Republican colleagues fail to understand is the underlying context behind high abortion rates in African American communities. High rates of abortion are related to poverty and lack of access to prevention services. A number of African American women face multiple barriers to accessing quality, affordable health care, which can lead to higher rates of both unintended pregnancy and abortion.”

History, culture, and disparities in educational attainment and wealth all factor into the abortion rate for black women — and contribute to the broader racial and economic inequalities the CBC is actively fighting against…

Read the full article here.

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Diversity Policies Don’t Help Women or Minorities, and They Make White Men Feel Threatened

By Teresa L. Dover, Cheryl L. Kaiser, and Brenda Major, the Harvard Business Review

U.S. companies spend millions annually on diversity programs and policies. Mission statements and recruitment materials touting companies’ commitment to diversity are ubiquitous. And many managers are tasked with the complex goal of “managing diversity” – which can mean anything from ensuring equal employment opportunity compliance, to instituting cultural sensitivity training programs, to focusing on the recruitment and

Business People Icons

Business People Icons

retention of minorities and women.

Are all of these efforts working? In terms of increasing demographic diversity, the answer appears to be not really. The most commonly used diversity programs do little to increase representation of minorities and women. A longitudinal study of over 700 U.S. companies found that implementing diversity training programs has little positive effect and may even decrease representation of black women.

Most people assume that diversity policies make companies fairer for women and minorities, though the data suggest otherwise. Even when there is clear evidence of discrimination at a company, the presence of a diversity policy leads people to discount claims of unfair treatment. In previous research, we’ve found that this is especially true for members of dominant groups and those who tend to believe that the system is generally fair.

All this has a real effect in court. In a 2011 Supreme Court class action case, Walmart successfully used the mere presence of its anti-discrimination policy to defend itself against allegations of gender discrimination. And Walmart isn’t alone: the “diversity defense” often succeeds, making organizations less accountable for discriminatory practices.

There’s another way the rhetoric of diversity can result in inaccurate and counterproductive beliefs. In a recent experiment, we found evidence that it not only makes white men believe that women and minorities are being treated fairly — whether that’s true or not — it also makes them more likely to believe that they themselves are being treated unfairly…

The implications of this study are troubling for the ways we currently attempt to manage diversity and foster inclusion in our organizations. Groups that typically occupy positions of power may feel alienated and vulnerable when their company claims to value diversity. This may be one explanation for the lackluster success of most diversity management attempts: when people feel threatened, they may resist efforts to make the workplace more inclusive.diversity2

So what can managers do? First, they must appreciate the potential effect of diversity messages on groups that have traditionally been favored in organizations. Of course, this isn’t to say that managers should avoid discussions about or efforts to increase diversity in order to spare the feelings of their white male employees. However, managers committed to fostering a diverse workplace may need to spend a bit more time crafting messages and designing programs that are more effective because they come across as more inclusive.

Second, managers should know the limits of diversity initiatives for minorities and women. Currently, diversity initiatives’ strongest accomplishment may actually be protecting the organization from litigation — not protecting the interests of underrepresented groups. Women and minoritiesthrive in environments that support diversity. But extolling the values of diversity and trying to train employees to value it may not convince minorities and women that they will be treated well, and may not increase their representation in the workforce. In order to foster fair, inclusive workplaces, diversity initiatives must incorporate accountability. They must be more than “colorful window dressing” that unintentionally angers a substantial portion of the workforce. Diversity policies must be researched, assessed for effectiveness, and implemented with care so that everyone in the workplace can feel valued and supported.

Read the full article here.

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‘Black Girls Vote’ looks to get young women to polls

By Yvonne Wenger and Mary Carole McCauley, the Baltimore Sun

Danyell Smith wasn’t shy about walking up to total strangers at the Security Square Mall over the New Year’s holiday weekend and asking them, “Baby, are you registered to vote?”

Mykidra "Nyki" RObinson shares a high five with supporter Tiffany Simpson.

Nykidra “Nyki” Robinson shares a high five with supporter Tiffany Simpson.

Though Smith is a volunteer with a group called Black Girls Vote, neither she nor her organization aims to sign up only those people with two X chromosomes. They’re eager to enlist anyone and everyone eligible to cast a ballot — males and females, teenagers and senior citizens, African-Americans and Caucasians.

That’s how 18-year-old Omarion Costello of Catonsville found himself holding a clipboard and filling out a registration form while Smith helped him navigate the unexpected pitfalls of the election process…

It’s that kind of respectful but assertive approach that demonstrates why the group can sign up as many as a hundred new voters at individual pop-up events. On a recent morning, it didn’t take Smith long to persuade Costello to go one step further and volunteer to work as an election judge…

Black Girls Vote was founded by Nykidra “Nyki” Robinson after a man was shot and killed over the summer in Hanlon Park, not far from her home. Registering people to vote — especially young African-American women — is part of the 33-year-old’s plans to help change her Northwest Baltimore neighborhood and others. She wants to use the nonprofit to improve public schools, the job market and access to health care.

“It’s a new year. It’s time for new things. We can’t sit back and make excuses,” Robinson said. “Our vote is our voice. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a GED, or if you have a PhD, we’re all the same.”

The nonpartisan group is planning “pop up events,” like the one Friday, at hair salons, nail parlors, restaurants and big box stores.n_robinson

The group is made up of about 15 core members, all but one of them women. Robinson said. Their hope is that registering a voter will be the start of a relationship. They plan to stay in touch with the people they sign up, and find creative ways to remove barriers that could prevent them from going to the polls for the April primary or November election…

While the State Board of Elections did not have a racial breakdown on registered voters in the city, data show 56 percent are women. Of the women registered, 9 percent are between the ages of 18 and 24…

A first generation college graduate, Robinson earned a degree in business marketing from Frostburg University. She grew up in an apolitical home in Randallstown, the daughter of a mail carrier and laborer.

She said she had long considered how best to make a difference in her community after buying a house in the Hanlon-Longwood neighborhood about eight years ago. She registered the domain name Blackgirlsvote.com in May, but she said it was the 24-year-old man’s killing in August that prompted her to act…

“It’s economics,” she said. “Who am I to judge? Desperate times call for desperate measures.”bgv

The group will focus on the Baltimore area for the 2016 election with hopes of expanding. Robinson said they are seeking community feedback to develop an agenda. Next, they’ll dissect the platforms of various candidates to see how they align…

Read the full article here.

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America’s Self-Destructive Whites

By Fareed Zakaria, the Washington Post

Why is Middle America killing itself? The fact itself is probably the most important social science finding in years. It is already reshaping American politics. The Post’s Jeff Guo notes that the people who make up this cohort are “largely responsible for Donald Trump’s lead in the race for the

AngryWhiteMAnRepublican nomination for president.” The key question is why, and exploring it provides answers that suggest that the rage dominating U.S. politics will only get worse.

For decades, people in rich countries have lived longer. But in a well-known paper, economists Angus Deaton and Anne Case found that over the past 15 years, one group — middle-age whites in the United States — constitutes an alarming trend. They are dying in increasing numbers. And things look much worse for those with just a high school diploma or less. There are concerns about the calculations, but even a leading critic of the paper has acknowledged that, however measured, “the change compared to other countries and groups is huge.”
The main causes of death are as striking as the fact itself: suicide, alcoholism, and overdoses of prescription and illegal drugs. “People seem to be killing themselves, slowly or quickly,” Deaton told me. These circumstances are usually caused by stress, depression and despair. The only comparable spike in deaths in an industrialized country took place among Russian males after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when rates of alcoholism skyrocketed.

Deaton speculated to me that perhaps Europe’s more generous welfare state might ease some of the fears associated with the rapid change. Certainly he believes that in the United States, doctors and drug companies are far too eager to deal with physical and psychological pain by prescribing drugs, including powerful and addictive opioids. The introduction of drugs such as Oxycontin, a heroin-like prescription painkiller, coincides with the rise in deaths.

But why don’t we see the trend among other American ethnic groups? While mortality rates for middle-age whites have stayed flat or risen, the rates for Hispanics and blacks have continued to decline significantly. These groups live in the same country and face greater economic pressures than whites. Why are they not in similar despair?

The answer might lie in expectations. Princeton anthropologist Carolyn Rouse suggested, in an email exchange, that other groups might not expect that their income, standard of living and social status are destined to steadily improve. They don’t have the same confidence that if they work hard, they will surely get ahead. In fact, Rouse said that after hundreds of years of slavery, segregation and racism, blacks have developed ways to cope with disappointment and the unfairness of life: through family, art, protest speech and, above all, religion…

The Hispanic and immigrant experiences in the United States are different, of course. But again, few in these groups have believed that their place in society is assured. Minorities, by definition, are on the margins. They do not assume that the system is set up for them. They try hard and hope to succeed, but they do not expect it as the norm.trump_campaign

The United States is going through a great power shift. Working-class whites don’t think of themselves as an elite group. But, in a sense, they have been, certainly compared with blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and most immigrants. They were central to America’s economy, its society, indeed its very identity. They are not anymore. Donald Trump has promised that he will change this and make them win again. But he can’t. No one can. And deep down, they know it.

Read the full article here.

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More Police Officers Facing Charges, But Few See Jail

By Shaila Dewan and Timothy Williams, the New York Times

What was once a rarity has now become increasingly common: police officers facing criminal charges in the deaths of civilians. In Albuquerque, two officers will stand trial in the death of a homeless man. In Cincinnati, a campus police officer has been charged in the fatal shooting of a man during a traffic stop. In Chicago, where a video captured the death of Laquan McDonald at the hands of the police, an officer was charged with murder.

Demonstrators in Cleveland on Tuesday, after a grand jury declined to indict police officers responsible for the shooting of Tamir Rice.

Demonstrators in Cleveland on Tuesday, after a grand jury declined to indict police officers responsible for the shooting of Tamir Rice.

But even as high-profile police shootings have attracted more scrutiny over the past year, one thing remains clear: The law gives the police the benefit of the doubt.

That was the case on Monday, when a grand jury declined to indict two Cleveland police officers in the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

The local prosecutor said the shooting of the boy as he played with a toy gun in a park was tragic but not criminal…

Though the Rice family and others criticized the report as biased toward law enforcement, many experts agreed that the law was on his side when he recommended against indictment.

And even as the number of police officers facing charges has notably risen, driven by video evidence and a national debate over law enforcement tactics, convictions have proved as elusive as ever…

Such legal realities leave a wide gap between an unnecessary police shooting and a criminal one, a gap that, barring a new Supreme Court ruling on police use of force, must be filled by better policies, training, accountability and supervision, experts say.

“These are important policy discussions that need to be addressed,” said Philip M. Stinson, a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio and a former police officer. “We have a problem with police subculture. We have a problem with poor training, lack of training. Many police departments have cut in-service training because of budget cuts. Many departments used to send everybody every month, but now they don’t have the money to do that.”

Despite heavy sanctions, like millions paid out in settlements over police mistakes, police departments have resisted change, Mr. Stinson said. “But it’s gotten to the point now where people of all walks of life are paying attention. We’ve gotten to a tipping point.”

William Johnson, the executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, had a broader view of how to bridge the gap.

William Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations

William Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations

“The anger on the part of protesters is misguided if it’s focused on the grand jury,” he said. “If they want change, what they need to look at is training, on the part of officers, but also training on the part of the community to understand how the criminal justice system does work. And also in, I don’t know how to put it, but common sense on the part of the public.”…

This year, 18 police officers were charged in fatal on-duty shootings, compared with an average of fewer than five a year over the preceding decade, according to Mr. Stinson’s research. That does not include the six officers indicted in the nonshooting death of Mr. Gray. Of the 18, 11 of the cases involved some sort of video evidence, Mr. Stinson said, adding, “In some of these cases, I don’t think the officers would have been charged without it.”…

Even with indictments, juries will remain reluctant to convict police officers absent evidence of malice, said Eugene O’Donnell, a former officer and prosecutor who now teaches at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. “Tremendous incompetence, the worst kind of training, disregard for people is really not enough,” he said. “You’re going to have to go beyond that because the police are different.”

Some jurors in police cases have later made a distinction between determining whether the officer should have fired and deciding — as the law instructs — whether the officer could reasonably have feared bodily harm.

Read the full article here.

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Grand Jury Could Still Snare Trooper Who Arrested Sandra Bland

By Michael McLoughlin, the Huffington Post

​A Texas grand jury next month may consider whether the state trooper who threatened Sandra Bland with a stun gun during a routine traffic stop last July should face charges related to the incident.sandra_bland

After the same grand jury chose this week not to indict any officials from the sheriff’s department or county jail where Bland died, her family’s attorney, Cannon Lambert, called on federal prosecutors Tuesday to seek charges against the trooper.

The special prosecutor handling the case said that trooper Brian Encinia’s conduct during the violent altercation could be the focus of the grand jury when it meets again next month. Encinia, who is white, was filmed on his patrol car’s dashcam threatening Bland, an African American, with a stun gun during her arrest on July 10.

Bland’s family and supporters called Tuesday for federal charges against Encinia. A lawyer for Bland’s family told The New York Times that federal prosecutors should launch a case against Encinia because he used excessive force and had no reason to arrest Bland in the first place. Lambert told the Associated Press he plans to file a motion to force Texas authorities to hand over a report by the Texas Rangers into Bland’s death…

Bland was found dead on July 13 in her cell after her arrest. A medical examiner ruled the 28-year-old’s death a suicide, and grand jurors announced Monday that no law enforcement officials had committed a crime while Bland was in custody.

Bland’s family has maintained that they do not believe her death was a suicide, and filed a federal lawsuit in August over Bland’s arrest and incarceration.

The 52-minute video of Bland’s arrest was a major factor in making her story one of the biggest law enforcement scandals in a year filled with policing controversies…

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.