The Criminal Injustice System: Colorado is no different from any other State.
The findings of a recent Colorado Department of Public Safety report can be found in any other state. Africans-in-America men and women in Colorado were disproportionately arrested or issued citations last year, and were more likely to be sentenced to prison than other racial groups.
The report found that despite comprising just 4.2 percent of the state’s population, blacks accounted for 12.4 percent of arrests and criminal summonses. While blacks were arrested at three times their proportion of the population, Latinos made up 23.3 percent of arrestees and whites 61.8 percent. Latinos comprise 22.2 percent of the population and non-Hispanic whites make up 69.1 percent..
In the state’s district courts, blacks were sentenced to prison 24.9 percent of the time, compared with 16.9 percent of Latinos and 17.7 percent of whites.
Fidel Castro: Freedom Fighter and Hero to Africa and African People.
Fidel Castro’s recent death brings to mind the Cuban Revolution. On January 1, 1959, Castro, a lawyer, along with his brother Raul Castro and the Argentine Che Guevara led the efforts to overthrow Fulgencio Batista, the American puppet who oversaw the cesspool of America’s wealthy-the Mafia controlled hotels and casinos of Cuba. Castro paid a steep price: besides the continuation of an economic boycott of more than 50 years, he also survived hundreds of CIA assassination attempts.
Also during this time, January 1961, the CIA assassinated Patrice Lumumba in the Congo. In 1974 Castro sent Cuban troops to Angola to support the MPLA’s revolutionary government against the CIA back invading forces of apartheid South Africa. When President Jimmy Carter proposed easing the Cuban embargo if only Cuba withdrew its forces from Angola Castro refused.
One recalls President Ronald Reagan extolling the virtues of being a freedom fighter. At the same time, Regan vetoed legislation sanctioning apartheid South Africa. Reagan’s veto gave support to the apartheid regime and its efforts to suppress the human rights of the majority of its citizens who just happened to black. At the same time, South Africa, with the CIA’s help, was fighting to suppress the independence movements in Angola and South West Africa (Namibia) and the majority of its citizens who just happened to be black. It is of note that South Africa was reluctant to directly confront the Cuban troops in Angola who had moved to Angola’s border with Namibia. This reluctance helped SWAPO, the Namibian revolutionary rebel forces, to maintain its safe haven in Angola to attack South African forces in Namibia. The UN brokered Namibia peace deal provided for Cuba to withdraw its forces from Angola in exchange for South Africa withdrawing its forces from Namibia.
With Castro’s help, Africa overthrew some of its last vestiges of colonialism. Today, Africa is free of the horrors of colonialism thanks, in part, to Castro’s efforts. Upon Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, he thanked his friend Fidel for his support.
Many African people are also supportive of and thankful to Castro and Cuba for granting political asylum in 1984 to Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army member Assata Shakur (Joanne Chesimard). Shakur was convicted in 1977 of murdering a New Jersey police officer. She was serving a life sentence when she escaped from prison in 1979. She is now on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List with an award of up to $2 million for her capture. Many believe the FBI and its illegal COINTELPRO surveillance program targeted Shakur and other Black Panther Party members for their political affiliations. Every nation has a sovereign and legitimate right to grant political asylum to people it considers to have been persecuted.
Black Panthers such as Eldridge Cleaver, Huey Newton and Raymond Johnson all spent time in Cuba in the 1960s. It’s speculated that as many as 90 Africans in America were living in Cuba under asylum. Besides supporting several wars of liberation in Africa, Cuba trained doctors from Africa for free through its Latin American School of Medicine and, through the Congressional Black Caucus, extended scholarships to the school to U.S. students from underserved communities.
Yes, Fidel Castro was not perfect. No one is. And yes, Fidel Castro was a hero to Africa and African people.
Law-and-Order: What does it really mean?
President-Elect Donald Trump campaigned on and, in part, was elected on a pledge for “law-and- order”. One is, therefore, reminded of a 1994 interview with John Ehrlichman, the former Nixon domestic affairs advisor who spent time in prison and is quoted as saying:
“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
Likewise, Nixon’s Chief of Staff, H.R. Haldeman, is quoted as saying: “Nixon emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks” “The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.” Nixon then came up with the War On Drugs and the Southern Strategy.
Now Trump’s appointment of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn for national security adviser, alt-right media mogul Stephen Bannon for chief strategist and Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama as Attorney General gives civil and human rights advocates legitimate concern. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez has said that “no senator has fought harder against the hopes and aspirations of Latinos, immigrants, and people of color than Sen. Sessions.
People of color are thus forewarned whenever they hear a pledge for law-and-order.
The Petition to Posthumously Pardon Marcus Mosiah Garvey
Recently, the family of Marcus Mosiah Garvey filed a Petition requesting President Obama to posthumously pardon Marcus Garvey for his mail fraud conviction. The government alleged that the UNIA-ACL offered stock purchases in the Black Star Line: before the UNIA in fact own the ship during the stock offer.
The Petition asserts that Garvey’s conviction was an injustice for several reasons. One expressed reason was that the judge presiding over the trial was a member of the NAACP which actively encourage the government to take action against Garvey.
The War on Drugs is a War Against Africans in America:
The recent Associated Press and Huffington Post re-release of
statements attributed to John Ehrlichman, President Richard Nixon’s
Domestic Policy Counsel, confirms what many already knew to be the
truth-that the war on drug is mainly a war against African people in
According to Ehrilichman, during and after the 1968 election, Nixon felt that his two main enemies-black people and the anti-war hippie left-had to be neutralized. Because it could not be made unlawful to be black or against the war, black people had to be stigmatized with heroin use and the anti-war left hippie movement stigmatized with marijuana use. After his successful law and order campaign, Nixon sought to increase the federal government’s criminalization of both drugs: vilification, raids, arrests, prosecutions and mass incarceration followed.
Today, with many European Americans succumbing to the methamphetamine and heroin epidemic and both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates family members and friends having been affected, drug use is viewed as a public health crisis.
In this light, President Obama’s efforts to grant clemency to non-violent drug offenders languishing in federal prisons under excessive sentences should be lauded and encouraged.
Courts Are Impeding Fair Disclosure In Criminal Cases:
So says a November 17, 2014 joint report issued by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and VERITAS Initiative at Santa Clara Law School. This study discloses “one of the major problems facing the nation’s criminal justice system today: the failure to ensure full, fair and timely disclosure of information favorable to an accused person in a criminal action.” The study reviewed claims under Brady (Brady v. Maryland, the Supreme Court declared that failure to disclose favorable information violates the constitution when that information is material) litigated in federal courts over a five-year period. The report recommends 3 proposals for increasing fair disclosure in criminal cases. First, in each case defense attorneys should request, and judges should grant ethical rule order for the prosecution to disclose all favorable information in accord with the American Bar Association Model Rule 3.8(d). Second, the judicial rules and policies should be amended to require fair disclosure of information. Finally, the most effective mechanism would be to adopt legislation codifying fair disclosure in criminal cases. View the full report at www.nacdl.org/discoveryreform/materialindifference.
Clemency Project 2014:
Earlier this year, the Department of Justice announced Clemency Project 2014-an initiative to entertain clemency for federal inmates whose sentences would be shorter today due to intervening changes in the law or policy. A working group comprised of lawyers and advocates including the American Bar Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Federal and Public Defenders and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) seek to assist federal prisoners who are serving unnecessarily harsh sentences for non-violent offences. Lawyers are encouraged to provide pro bono assistance to reverse the unduly harsh prison sentences that were imposed upon so many.
Limited Reliability of Eyewitness Identification:
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has released a comprehensive report focusing on the limited reliability of eyewitness identification which can result in mis-identification and wrongful conviction. Titled-Identifying the Culprit: Assessing Eyewitness Identification, the report concludes that it is crucial to implement eyewitness identification procedures that will achieve increased accuracy and reliability. The report discusses the “frailties of eyewitness identification testimony” and the need to improve practices for both obtaining eyewitness identification and their use in court. The NAS identifies specific deficiencies in identification procedures used by many law enforcement agencies that add to the inaccuracy of eyewitness identification and endorses several science and research-based recommendations aimed at improving the accuracy of identifications. The report suggests specific improvement to strengthen the value of this evidence at trial, including pre-trial inquiries and allowing eyewitness identification expert testimony.
Lawyers Descend on Ferguson:
Over the past week, lawyers from California to New York have descended on Ferguson, Missouri in the wake of the grand jury decision not to indict white officer Darren Wilson who in August shot and killed 18 year old Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. The Lawyers have responded to calls from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the National Lawyers Guild, The Missouri Chapter of the ACLU, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and protest groups in Ferguson to monitor police behavior in the wake of the grand jury decision. They will also take an aggressive legal posture-filing quick lawsuits to fight potentially shoddy jail conditions, onerous bail bonds and civil rights abuses. Diane Balogh, of the Missouri ACLU, said the organization has held a dozen training sessions with 100 legal observers in recent weeks. the ACLU is providing the lawyers and legal observers with a mobile phone app allowing them to upload video of police behavior to a secure central database. Ferguson police have been wearing video devises since September.
No True Bill:
What a travesty, farce and miscarriage of justice. The Ferguson, Missouri grand jury decision to return a no true bill against officer Darren Wilson is a travesty, farce and miscarriage of justice. The Prosecutor-turned defense attorney-Bob McCulloch is to blame. The Brown’s family attorneys were right: McCulloch should have recused himself from the very beginning and request the Governor appoint a special prosecutor. McCulloch has extensive connection to law enforcement. His father, mother, brother, uncle and cousin all worked for the St. Louis Police department. His father was killed while responding to a call involving a black suspect. In his diatribe announcing the grand jury’s decision to return a no true bill against Wilson, McCulloch never mentioned that Brown was unarmed.
While the grand jury is charged solely with determining whether there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed and whether the defendant committed it, the prosecution’s evidence is generally only considered. Here, McCulloch’s unprecedented decision to permit the grand jury to consider all the evidence-both state and defense-means the grand jury actually conducted a secret trial behind close doors. McCulloch’s decision not to ask the grand jury to return an indictment is further evidence that the whole proceeding was a farce. As a result, the grand jury’s return of a no true bill against Wilson was a foregone conclusion.
Wilson’s self-serving depiction of what happened defies logic. Nothing he says-including that Brown never raised his hands to signal a surrender-can be believed. The Brown family must now wait to see if Wilson will face federal civil right charges.
One consequence of this travesty, farce and miscarriage of justice is that all law enforcement officers should now be required to wear body cameras.
The Department of Justice to end racial profiling by federal law enforcement:
In Atlanta yesterday, December 1, 2014, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he will soon issue guidelines to once and for all end racial profiling by federal law enforcement. He promised the new guidelines will institute rigorous standards and robust safeguards to end racial profiling. Holder’s announcement comes on the heals of the White House announcement of a 263 million spending package-which includes more body cameras for police officers that will capture their interaction with the communities they are charged with protecting.
In the meantime, the Justice Department continues its investigation of whether officer Darren Wilson violated the civil rights of 18 year old Michael Brown who was unarmed when Wilson shot him 6 times.
Black Lives Don’t Matter:
The recent New York City grand jury decision to not indict officer Danny Pantaleo for the chokehold death of unarmed Eric Garner adds to the conclusion that Black lives don’t matter. Garner’s death was ruled a homicide. He was accused of a misdemeanor-selling loose cigarettes. He died as a result of Pantaleo’s use of a chokehold that the NYPD banned in 1993 after numerous people were killed in police custody.
One question posed by Garner’s tragic death is whether it matters if police officers are required to wear body cameras. Garner’s death was caught on a cell phone video. Still the grand jury found that there was not enough evidence of probable cause to indict. It leads one to conclude that body cameras on police officer will not lead to the indictment of the guilty. It will lead, however, to a visual record of the guilty getting away with murder.
The tragic death of 12 year old Tamir Rice is further evidence that Black lives don’t matter. Rice, holding a toy pistol, was shot and killed within two seconds of the officers arriving. I will not be holding my breath to see if the officer is charged in Rice’s death.
Department of Justice issues new anti racial profiling guidelines:
Recently, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued new anti racial profiling guidelines. The new guidelines contend “[B]iased practices…are unfair, promote mistrust of law enforcement, and perpetuate negative and harmful stereotypes. Moreover-and vitally important-biased practices are ineffective…[and] simply not good law enforcement.”
The new guidelines expand the characteristics that law enforcement cannot use for profiling in “traditional law enforcement” to include: race, ethnicity, gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identify. Critics contend, however, the new guidelines open new loopholes as these same characteristics can be used in the case of national security, immigration enforcement, or “authorized intelligence activity. “Interdiction activities in the vicinity of the border and “protective inspection, or screening activities” are noticeably exempted.
As FBI Director Comey noted: the new guidance “will have no effect” on his agents behavior.
Nationwide Call For Special Prosecutors In Police Brutality Cases:
In the wake of the no true bill returns in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, many criminal-justice reform advocates are calling for special prosecutors in all police brutality cases. The close relationship between the prosecutor and law enforcement bring into question the prosecutor’s loyalties in police brutality prosecutions. Daily, prosecutors call on law enforcement to help them win their cases. In police brutality cases, prosecutors are call on to prosecute the same people they depend on daily for their success.
The release of the transcript of the Michael Brown grand jury proceeding highlight the call for reform. The prosecutor, Bob McCulloch, had been asked to recuse himself and request the Governor to appoint a special prosecutor. In addition to the close relationship with law enforcement, McCulloch’s father, mother, brother, uncle and cousin all worked for the St. Louis Police department. McCulloch’s father was killed while responding to a call involving a black suspect. In the end, McCulloch put on what many called a closed-door trial and did not ask the grand jury to return a true bill. Though there is no transcript of the Eric Garner grand jury proceeding, there is a cell-phone video-tape recording of the officer using a choke hold the NYPD banned in 1993 after numerous people were killed in police custody.
The requirement of a special prosecutor in police brutality cases, it is argued, would alleviate the local prosecutor’s burden of dependency om law enforcement. Thereby the victim-and the victim’s family who the prosecutor is suppose to represent-would have a better chance of seeing that justice is done.
The Prosecutor Knowingly Presented False Testimony To The Michael Brown Grand Jury.
According to prosecutor Bob McCulloch, he knew witness 40-Sandra McElroy-lied in her two day testimony to the grand jury investigating the death of Michael Brown. After officer Darren Wilson’s self-serving account of the incident appeared in the paper, McCulloch presented McElroy’s fabricated testimony to the grand jury. McElroy’s account of the homicide tracked Wilson’s account that Brown charged at him in a football like stance precipitating Wilson to shoot Brown in self defense. Wilson’s account of the killing has also been recounted by pundits justifying Wilson’s action. McCulloch contends that McElroy was not even in Ferguson when the incident occurred.
McElroy suffers from a bipolar disorder and is not receiving treatment. She has a history of making racist remarks including calling Blacks N***** in a journal entry. She has had trouble with her memory since being thrown through a windshield in a 2001 auto accident.
McCulloch’s conduct in knowingly presenting false testimony to the grand jury is disturbing and troubling. Such action may constitute an ethical breach. Under Missouri Rules of Professional Conduct, lawyers are prohibited from offering “evidence that the lawyer knows to be false.” McCulloch contends the grand jury gave no credence to McElroy’s two day testimony. McCulloch’s conclusion is self-serving and without foundation, however, since the grand jury deliberation is secret and McCulloch cannot be present.
Under Missouri law-MO Rev. Stat §56.110-the presiding judge of the criminal court can appoint another prosecutor if the prosecuting attorney demonstrates a conflict of interest or bias.
North Miami Beach Cops Stops Practice Of Target Shooting Mugshots Of Black Teens:
The North Miami Beach Police Department has recently stopped the practice of using the Mugshots of Black Males-some of them teenagers-for target practice. North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis said that the department has a variety of pictures for target practice, including whites and Hispanics. Besides being a questionable and troubling practice, it begs the question of whether it is evidence of racial profiling? When one of these individuals is spotted on the streets will the officers think target, shoot to kill?
Protection For Those In High Places; Doom For The Rest Of Us.
The Department of Justice is contemplating seeking to indict former CIA Director David Petraeus for sharing classified information with his biographer/mistress Paula Broadwell. Senate Intelligence Committee chair Diane Feinstein has requested that Petraeus not be prosecuted because he has “suffered enough”-the affair with Broadwell is over and was extremely embarrassing to Petraeus. This special treatment of people in high places brings to mind President Bill Clinton’s-who on his last day in office-pardon former CIA Director John Deutch after several of his unclassified laptop computers at his home contained highly classified intelligence information.
Contrast this special treatment with what Ex-CIA official Jeffrey Sterling is facing. A jury in northern Virginia has been selected in his multiple count federal indictment charging him with espionage. Sterling allegedly told a reporter about a botched operation that sent flawed nuclear designs to Iran. The information Sterling allegedly leaked was extremely embarrassing to the government but not detrimental to the national security.
Is this further proof that it is not what you know but who you know?
Will there be a new Darren Wilson Grand Jury?
In a letter to St. Louis County Circuit Judge Maura McShane, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund is asking that a second grand jury be convened to investigate officer Darren Wilson’s killing of unarmed Michael Brown. The letter contends that prosecutors presented false witness testimony, erroneous instructions on the law and preferential treatment for Mr. Wilson. She is also being asked to appoint a special prosecutor.
A grand juror has sued Prosecutor Robert McCulloch in federal court for the right to speak publicly about the prosecution’s handling of the case. Seven St. Louis area residents also filed a bar complaint against McCulloch alleging he breached ethical rules by presenting incorrect legal standards and knowingly false testimony to the grand jury.
The 4th Amendment Is Weaken Again:
The Supreme Court has put another nail in the coffin of the 4th Amendment with its recent ruling in Heien v. North Carolina. An officer stopped Heien’s vehicle for what the officer though was a violation of the “stop lamp” law when one of the brake lights is out. While the Supreme Court agreed with Heien that the law requires only one light to be operational, the Court concluded that the officer was reasonable to believe that there was a violation of the law.
After the stop, Heien consented to the search of his car which resulted in the discovery of a baggie of cocaine. The Court ruled that the cocaine is admissible against Heien. Though the officer is mistaken of the law, his mistake is reasonable and the evidence is admissible.
Restoring voting rights:
The out-going Governor of Kentucky-a Democrat–recently signed an executive order restoring voting rights to non-violent convicted felons who have completed all the terms of their convictions. The order applies to up to 180,000 felons. Kentucky is one of the few states that permits the Governor to restore voting rights of felons upon application. The Governor contends the old system is unfair. Studies show that felons able to vote feel more responsible to society and are less likely to return to prison.
Previous efforts to restore voting rights would pass the Democrat-controlled legislature but die in the Republican-controlled senate. Whether the Governor can by-pass the legislature through an executive order is debatable. The Governor contends the state Constitution gives him the power to restore voting rights.
The recent debate on whether to permit Syrian refugees to immigrate to this country brings to mind how the African came here. Those who note that this country is a nation of immigrants are in part correct and generally argue in support of Syrian immigration. Americans at the time welcomed Africans coming to this country; the African had no such desires.
We must never forget that the African was kidnaped and brought to this country against our will. We are not immigrants; we are the victims of the greatest crime ever committed against humanity.
Thought the African came to this country long before Columbus and traveled to this continent and the world over before anyone else, it must never be forgotten that we are here today not by choice or our desire but because of our ardent efforts not to be brought here in the first place.
Teenager shot 16 times:
The recent release of the dash-cam video showing Laquan McDonald-a black teenager- being shot 16 times by white Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, finally exposes once and for all and for all to see what many knew all along: that the tired-old excuse that “I feared for my life” is nothing more than a worn-out lie. And police officers-and their unions-do lie.
The police account in the coroner’s report said that the teen lunged at officers with a knife leaving the offer to open fire shooting the teenager 16 times. The video shows however that the officer shot McDonald from about 10 feet away while the teen was walking away. The officer continues to shoot while the teen is on the ground. Van Dyke felt the need to shoot the teen twice in the back while emptying his 9 millimeter. And then reloads. Recent developments reveal that Chicago police officer erased a Burger King video tape of the murder.
In bringing a murder charge against the officer only one day before the court-ordered release of the video, the prosecutor professed the egregiousness of the officer’s actions. Where law enforcement had the video for over a year and fought against its release, begs the question of why did it take over a year for its release, to utter the year-late outrage and bring a first-degree murder charge? The murder, does however answer another question: Yes, Black Lives Matters!
Supreme Court Vacancy
For now, Senate Republican leaders have declared that it is fruitless for President Obama to nominate a Supreme Court Justice to replace Judge Antonin Scalia who recently died. Within hours of Scalia’s death, the Senators declared that they will not consider nor hold hearings on any Obama nomination: since this is an election year, it is best that the American people have a say in the nomination by their vote in the upcoming election. The next president that the people vote for, and not Obama, should make the nomination.
It is apparent that Senate Republicans have no respect for the United States Constitution. Article 2 Section 2 of the Constitution provides that the president shall nominate, and by and with advice and consent of the senate, shall appoint judges of the supreme court. By not carrying out their responsibility to advice and consent the president on his nomination to the supreme court, the senators are saying in effect-damn the constitution. And if these congressional men and women have no respect for their own constitution, should anyone else?