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Hardy L. Brown

Rodney King Can We All Get Along?

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By Hardy L. Brown

None of us know why we are born into this world but happy we were after we live in it for a while. We struggle to find our place and legacy worthy for someone to recognize and to remember. Now I am sure Rodney King was floundering around to find his place, when on March 3, 1991 his legacy found him. King and some friends were returning home around midnight when he had a run in with the Los Angeles Police Department. King had been drinking and true to the history of some White police officers, they overreacted to the actions of an African American man.

What happened to Rodney King that night had been repeated thousands of time throughout America’s history to Black men and no one believed their story. Some of us have experienced abusive behavior from officers who wanted to show us who was boss. Only this time, what transpired over the next fifteen minutes, was Rodney King’s destiny being recorded by a witness. George Holiday was still up that night and had a video camera and decided to record the beating that took place and now etched in our memory.

Even with that video footage the Black community did not react violently only to say this type of treatment goes on all the time. Many people thought King had this beating coming to him after the police leaked that King had a criminal record. The system tells all of us, criminals have no rights that the public should believe so what is the big deal, especially if the person is poor, African American or Latino.

But then charges were brought against the officers and the trial was moved out of Los Angeles into Simi Valley where an all-White jury of King’s peers found the officers not guilty in 1992. That is when all of the frustrations minorities felt bubbled to the surface and spread across Los Angeles and afterwards, America. No one could believe that after the jury saw the video that had been aired around the world that the four officers could or should not be found guilty for their actions. I recall President George Bush, Sr. and Mayor Tom Bradley say I cannot believe the verdict. The video does not lie is what Mayor Bradley said.

This is when Los Angeles erupted into a fiery furnace and left some 53 people dead and billions in property damages that Los Angeles is still in the process of rebuilding.

Now back to King, he did not ask for this legacy nor did he know it was coming, it was thrust upon him. Some have tried to say now that he was a civil rights leader. He was not. King was not active nor to my knowledge even a member of the NAACP or any other civil rights organization. It seems King’s purpose for being born was to shed light and truth to a problem that has and continues to plague relationships between police and our community.

But then Rodney King was asked to try and quell the riots where he said on camera to the world “Can We All Get Along?” He went on to say we should not make it hard for our older and younger people in the community.

My question to us today after King’s death is, can we all get along? In our communities can we find common ground to coexist and thrive? Can we improve our race relations with each other? Can we improve police relations with the community? Can we improve better relations between Democrats and Republicans? Can we improve relations between teachers, students and parents? King asked back in 1992 if we can just get along and the question remains the same; can we all get along?

Hoping the City of San Bernardino Find its Moral Compass

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The City of San Bernardino is trying to understand and get a handle on the rash of homicides that have happened in the city, making it the murder capitol of the nation during the month of May. According to reports, it is difficult to lay blame on any one thing such as gang warfare, unemployment, or out of school youth.

Some of the victims are from other cities and adult aged and the incidents are happening in every area of the city. The city council had the police department give a special report to them and keep them up to date as they investigate these homicides.

In addition to these problems, the city is still faced with budget problems like every city in the nation, which will hamper or limit preventative solutions. However, they must unite as a council and move forward in trying to govern a city with many issues.

They city has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state as well as the highest poverty rate in the nation. They have public safety employees associations that they must find consensus with if they are going to solve the long-term budget deficit problems. Other city departments are beginning to feel the pinch of no money for their services. One must ask the questions: What is a city with no parks? What is a city where streets are unclean? What is a city with no libraries? What is a city where street light are out at night? What is a city where all other services are not there when you need them? It is not a city.

From observing the interaction of all council members, some are still bent on keeping certain departments out of budget conversations but I don’t see how. The state and nation has budget woes that trickle down and further impact local government. And we have a voting public that is reluctant to approve any increase in taxes until they see better cooperation between political parties and a fairer system on who gets the money.

So it will behoove all elected officials to begin looking for more win-win solutions before the baby is thrown out with the bath water and everyone will wonder, what happened to the baby when the house becomes quiet. The city will not become quiet it will get very noisy. I remember going to East St. Louis when they ran out of money and the council was not working together. The streets were lined with trash left at the curbs from no pick up by the city. Streets were dark from no replacement of lights that needed replacing. The city parks were overgrown with weeds, and police calls went unanswered.

I know each council member thinks they have the answer but they must work together before the city can move forward. I told my pastor several weeks ago that the city appears to have lost its moral compass. When I was in the Boy Scouts I learned of the importance of a good compass pointing to the true north when you wanted to head in a given direction. To me the true direction is to put the city’s citizens first and the personal agendas of others second. This is what taking the oath of office is all about once you are elected to office.

At each council meeting, someone from the clergy opens it with prayer and they pray for unity over the deliberation but once the deliberations begin, personal agendas come out and divisions set in on the votes. Let me say to them find common ground on the critical issues of the city and put the moral compass as your guide so the city can thrive once again.

Half Time Election Report of 2012

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We are in the middle of the National Basketball Association Championship Basketball tournament and on television at each game they have the halftime report where commentators sit and evaluate the first half while forecasting the second half. This past Tuesday, we held the primaries of our 2012 presidential and state elections. I will give you a half time report of races we were interested in and proposition 29, which did not pass.

In November, we will see President Barack Obama facing Mitt Romney for president. In San Bernardino County Josie Gonzales won her seat for the 5th District outright while James Ramos and Neil Derry will face each other for the 3rd supervisorial seat on the board.

In the 31st Congressional District Gary Miller will face Bob Dutton and both are Republicans.

In the 35th Congressional District Gloria Negrete McLeod will face Joe Baca and both are Democrats.

In the 47th Assembly District Cheryl Brown will face Joe Baca Jr. and both are Democrats.

In Riverside County Judge Craig Riemer retained his seat on the Superior Court.

For Mayor of Riverside Rusty Bailey will face off with Ed Adkison.

In the 41st Congressional District Republican John Tavaglione will face Mark Takano a Democrat.

For the 31st Senate District Republican Jeff Miller will face Richard Roth a Democrat.

In the 61st Assembly District Republican Bill Batey will face Democrat Jose Medina.

The new open primary brought about some unexpected winners with people of the same party having to compete against one another for other political party supporters. This will and should produce a different kind of campaigning in the second half of play. In San Bernardino County, the voters selected people of the same party to go against each other while in Riverside they selected people of a different party to face each other.

It will be interesting to see what the second half will produce for us the voters. It is clear to me that voters are tired of those individuals who are only interested in themselves or party issues while the taxpayers suffer from these gridlocks. Congress and Sacramento must listen to the people and recognize to quote Rodney King, “can’t we all just get along”.

There will be a lot of money given to various candidates from outside of any given district, while most local citizens will have to volunteer to make up the difference. I will urge the voters to look closely at what candidates are reaching out to all citizens in their community before they vote in November.

Get Out The Vote Tuesday June 5th

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Tuesday June 5th is Election Day in California and you do not want to miss out on voting for your representative. Candidates have walked neighborhoods, phoned voters, mailed material to your homes, placed ads in the newspapers, held meet and greet coffees, printed yard signs all with the objective to listen and educate you, the voter before you vote.

If you have already voted that is great but if you are one that likes to go to the polls, please do not forget to vote on Tuesday. Now if you are one of those people who think your vote will not matter, remember Gigi Hanna’s recent win by 4 votes for San Bernardino City Clerk. So you can see your vote counts.

No on Proposition 29

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By Hardy L Brown

Proposition 29 is controversial in the Black community because some say a no vote is consent towards the spread of cancer in our community. Others say a yes vote is consent to provide employment to members outside of the community with no accountability to the public. I know from personal experience that some will continue to smoke reducing food to family members with the knowledge that smoking is harmful to their health and well-being. While both sides have good arguments, as a former smoker and grower of tobacco, the best approach one might argue is to make tobacco illegal altogether. Of course I am not going to advocate that because unemployment would go up and the tax revenue would go down for our government.

The people supporting this proposition are also saying adding one dollar onto the already 87 cents tax on cigarettes will discourage smokers and will give us an additional $700 million a year for research. I have heard this all my life as a boy growing up in the tobacco country of North Carolina and as a smoker of cigarettes in a community of smokers, tobacco chewers and snuff dippers. But that didn’t stop people from using tobacco products.

One thing that is bad about this $700 million is that no one can change the law for 15 years nor would the legislature be able to change the law or have any say over how and where the money is spent. Remember what happened to First 5.

The only thing that has remained constant on both sides of these arguments is who is going to make money off of the poor people who use tobacco which is a legal product. The makers of tobacco products want to sell their products and make money while the “do gooders” want to make money to line their pockets in the name of doing a good thing. Both are targeting the same population which comprises of a disproportionate number of Black people. Neither side is providing jobs nor offering business opportunities to African Americans to make our communities healthy.

I remember when the only corporations in America that were doing business with Black people were the tobacco and spirit companies. Then along came many organizations that criticized them for doing that, but offered nothing to replace the jobs or business opportunities that would have been lost. So many people kept on smoking and drinking to hide the emptiness left from not having financial resources. Now I am not advocating that we should keep on using tobacco products but I do not think the poor users should be taxed without getting some financial benefits from the $700 million a year pot of funds that will be created. The way Prop 29 is written, the people of California might be the biggest losers with the African American community being hit the hardest.

How many Black researchers are going to be leading the research? How many law enforcement agencies are going to add diversity to their departments to keep under age Black youth from buying tobacco products? How many researchers will reach into the heart of the Black community for a serious study and preventative education programs? How many procurement opportunities will be given to the African American small business owners as they build buildings, buy office furniture, and hire employees? How many health research offices will be in our communities where our people live?

While I am in favor of finding a cure for cancer, Proposition 29 is not the way because it is misleading. I urge a NO vote on Proposition 29.

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