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Now What? The Country Waits for Developments in Michael Brown, Ferguson Case

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By Herb Boyd
Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News

The shots fired by Officer Darren Wilson that cut down Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., Aug. 9 are still echoing. The fact that they were caught on audio both clarifies and complicates the scenarios surrounding the unarmed teenager’s death.

On the audio, which was inadvertently recorded by a resident who lives near where the incident occurred, a quick volley of shots is heard, followed by a brief pause, and then several more shots.

According to a forensic expert who analyzed the audio, at least 10 shots were fired—a cluster of six, followed by four more. Two autopsies, one independently completed for the family, conclude that Brown was shot six times.

That pause is certain to be of critical importance to the case in which a grand jury has already begun weighing the evidence. Attorney Lopa Blumenthal, representing the man who recorded the shots, expressed her concern about the pause. “It’s not just the number of shots,” she told Don Lemon on CNN. “It’s how they were fired. And that has a huge relevance on how this case might finally end up.”

Blumenthal refused to release her client’s identity, but she did explain that the recording was made during a conversation he was having with a friend on a video chat service. A mutual friend of theirs facilitated getting the recording to the lawyer and she, in turn, with his consent, reached out to the FBI.

Much will depend on how the pause in the audio is interpreted. It would seem to support indictment, because the pause, whatever the length, should have given the officer ample time to evaluate the situation after the first round of shots.

The audio will be added to the mounting pile of evidence and the competing narratives from witnesses about what happened on that fateful day.

Meanwhile, Brown was put to rest Monday after stirring remarks from the Rev. Al Sharpton, an account of which appears elsewhere in the paper.

Push to Recruit Black, Latino Nurses

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Heart Association Teams with Macy’s for Scholarship Program

By Stacy M. Brown
Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer

Arihanna Venable enjoys talking with her patients as she performs physical exams, takes their blood pressure and, sometimes administers medicine to help soothe wounds or illnesses.

However, when Venable looks at so many other registered nurses, she finds a glaring and often troubling trend.

“Not many of them look like me,” said Venable, 33, of Southeast. “We just don’t have a lot of black registered nurses and I think if we can somehow change that, a lot of our patients will feel more at ease and they’ll be more likely to come in and see a doctor before they encounter serious health problems.”

Venable counts among the 5.4 percent of African-American nurses in the nation. A small minority, considering there’s an estimated 2.5 million registered nurses in the United States. Latinos also are in the minority as just 3.6 percent hold those positions.

Because of the lack of minorities who serve as registered nurses, the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” campaign and Macy’s department store have continued its three-year partnership in which 16 scholarships of $2,500 each are awarded annually to help increase the number of diverse health care professionals.

Health care officials said the need for the scholarship program can be found in the fact that tuition hikes at colleges and universities and dramatic cuts to graduate medical education funding across the nation have forced many students to find new ways to pay for college.

In an effort to ease the burden and increase the number of underrepresented minorities in medicine, the American Heart Association and Macy’s, the association’s national sponsor, offer aspiring registered nurses the “Go Red Multicultural Scholarship Fund.”

Registration for the scholarship and more information about it can be found at www.GoRedForWomen.org.

“At Macy’s, we are deeply committed to supporting diversity throughout everything we do,” said Holly Thomas, Macy’s group vice president of media relations and cause marketing.

“As the founding national sponsor of the American Heart Association’s ‘Go Red for Women’ movement, we are able to extend our reach into an underserved population,” Thomas said. “This includes raising awareness and creating long-term impact by helping increase diversity within the next generation of health care professionals who we know provide life saving support to a multicultural population.”

The latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Northeast show 11,030 registered nurses working in the Greater Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area with an average annual salary of $77,550.

However, there aren’t many blacks or Latinos among them, officials said.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” said Eva Gomez, a registered nurse and scholarship judge for the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” campaign, which has raised more than $50 million since 2004.

“As the demographics change and more ethnically and racially diverse populations grow, there will definitely continue to be a need for health care providers who mirror these patients,” she said.

Gomez said having diverse providers makes it possible to deliver health care that’s meaningful, culturally appropriate and patient and family-centered.

Deidre Woods-Walton, a registered nurse and president of the National Black Nurses Association in Silver Spring, Maryland, echoed Gomez’ comments about having a diverse pool of nurses.

Cameroon Soccer Star Felled By Stones Hurled In Stadium — Was it Race?

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Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News

Aug. 25 (GIN)—Soccer star Albert Ebosse Bodjongo of Cameroon was killed almost instantly by a stone lobbed from the bleachers in the Tizi Ouzou stadium of north-central Algeria this weekend. He had been playing for the home team and made its only goal before the stone-throwing incident occurred.

The Algerian Football/Soccer Federation lamented the death of the 24-year-old Ebosse and urged that soccer be suspended indefinitely at all stadiums in the country.

Ebosse was the leading scorer in the Algerian league in the 2013-14 season with 17 goals. Nonetheless, he became a target when fans of the home team, which lost 2-1, began throwing objects as the players headed off the field.

According to Algeria’s Al Watan newspaper, “For years now, violence has crept into the stadiums and spills onto the streets, bringing with it a climate of fear and insecurity.”

An investigation into Ebosse’s death, and a deeper inquiry into soccer hooliganism in the country in general, has been ordered by the Algerian interior ministry. But the incident is believed to present evidence of growing racism among Algeria’s majority white population, according to online debates at media sites.

“FIFA doesn’t give a damn about Black players,” declared “Bob+Jazz,” a reader of Cameroon Online from Canada. “They won’t do a thing. Look at the racism Black players face everyday in Europe, what sanctions has FIFA ever given to any European club to discourage it? If this had happened to a white player, you will hear it on CNN 24/7.”

“Stone thrown from the club’s own fans, even when he scored a goal,” wrote “Sameboy” on the same site. “That should tell you how Blacks out there have to work 100x to achieve the fame whites enjoy. It’s a pity … We need follow up and not just words.”

Black African refugees from embattled countries south of the Sahara have also faced hostility in Algeria, especially from the media. A front-page article in the Arabic daily Al-Fadjr warned of “thousands of Africans invading the streets of the capital, spreading epidemics and other social ills such as trafficking in counterfeit money.”

On the other side, Ali, a retired teacher, told the AFP news agency how he bemoaned the “lack of humanity” of his fellow Algerians and the “racism” of parts of the media.

Sociology professor Fatma Oussedik, in another AFP interview, said the mounting racism showed by Algerians towards fellow Africans from south of the Sahara smacked of a crisis of identity in the continent’s largest country.

“When we hear Algerians speaking about Africans, we find ourselves asking where in the world we are,” she said. “This rejection of the other, it’s a kind of self-denial.”

Jamaica: Help for Schools in Drought Stricken Areas

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Special to the NNPA from the New York Carib News

CMC – Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has instructed that action be taken to help schools cope as the dry spell continues to affect the country.

With the countdown now on to the start of the new academic year, a meeting will held with several Government Ministries, and a plan of action will be outlined early next week.

Water Minister, Robert Pickersgill, says schools in parishes experiencing severe drought could be could be impacted and as a result the ministry will also focus on hospitals and infirmaries in areas adversely affected by the reduction in rainfall.

The National Water Commission (NWC) in collaboration with the Local Government Ministry will be supplying water to schools in affected areas.

The NWC has already assisted some schools in the Corporate Area, that are experiencing challenges with their supply, by providing water tanks.

PIckersgill has urged school administrators to place importance on establishing catchment and storage facilities.

“I am encouraging all schools to establish additional facilities for storage, so that in the absence of regular supplies, water may be supplied to them and stored. After all, we are all aware that ‘water is life’,” he said.

Although the island has been experiencing some rainfall in recent days corporate communications manager for the NWC, Charles Buchanan, says there has not been much improvement in the country’s water supply.

“It is still severe, and, in some places, worsening ,” he said.

Buchanan said both rural and Corporate Area water systems were under pressure and this was likely to increase for the reopening of schools.

Beyond Ferguson: Time for Young Black Leaders

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By Freddie Allen
NNPA Senior Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – During a rousing, standing-room only town hall discussion dedicated to the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and police killings of young, Black men across the nation, Ron Daniels, declared, “a state of emergency in Black America.”

Daniels, president of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW), a group devoted to the social, political and economic empowerment of the Black community, said that there are two Black Americas.

“Some Black people are doing quite well, unless they get stopped for driving while Black, they’re living in the suburbs and exurbs,” said Daniels. “But in the urban inner city areas, America’s dark ghettos, as Malcolm X would say, ‘people are catching more hell than ever before.’”

One of those people was Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager who was shot to death in the middle of the road in Ferguson, Mo., by Darren Wilson, a White police officer. Brown’s lifeless body was left face down in the street for more than four hours as onlookers snapped photos and videos with their smartphones and news of the shooting spread on social media.

During the town hall discussion, Hilary Shelton, Washington, D.C. bureau chief for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), said that he grew up in St. Louis and knows Ferguson very well and saw it transition from a town that was majority White to one that is 67 percent Black.

Shelton noted that only three of the 53 policemen that serve Ferguson are Black. The mayor is a White Republican and five out of six councilmembers are also White.

“When you have a scenario where everything is set up as if it were some occupying force and that occupying force is suppressing rather than protecting those communities, you end up with the kind of response that we got with Michael Brown,” explained Shelton.

Ron Hampton, a former executive director of the National Black Police Association, said that the Black community can’t look at the Michael Brown killing as a single incident in time.

“[The Michael Brown shooting] is the continuation of the assault and the attack on Black men and women in the Black community,” stated Hampton. “The militarization of police departments started after Vietnam. Police departments received military equipment after the Vietnam War, after Desert Storm, and after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

And now that equipment is being used in the War on Drugs waged in the Black communities.

Adding Black men and women to the police department is not enough, said Hampton.

“You can add six more police officers or 20 more Black police officers to the Ferguson police, but if we don’t address the systemic issues around the culture the policies and practices of the police department, residents will continue to be brutalized by police officers,” he said.

Nkechi Taifa, senior policy analyst for the Open Society Foundations, said that the treatment of Brown’s body after he was shot and killed was reminiscent of how Blacks were treated after they were lynched, a tactic used to instill fear in the hearts of slaves and later freed Blacks following the Civil War.

“It was terrorism then and it is terrorism now,” said Taifa.

Jasiri X, a hip hop artist and activist who traveled to Ferguson to protest the killing of Michael Brown, said that George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black teenager in Sanford, Fla., and although Michael Dunn was found guilty of attempted murder, he was not found guilty in the killing of Jordan Davis, an unarmed Black teenager in Jacksonville, Fla.

“If we are continually shot down and no one is to blame, then what do you think is going to happen if this happens over and over and over again?” asked Jasiri X. “Ferguson is simmering right now, but so is New York City, so is Chicago, and so is Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.”

Jasiri X continued: “If Darren Wilson is not indicted, what do you want us to do? If you’re not going to give us justice, we have to ask what’s wrong if we take justice?”

Barbara Arnwine, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, asked a different question.

“The question is: What is the Justice Department going to do? The Justice Department can bring civil rights charges in this case, but if they’re going to do it, they can’t drag their feet,” said Arnwine. “Remember, this administration goes out in December 2016. It is imperative that charges are brought right now. All the elements that are required are there. The question of intent will be the hardest that they will have to deal with.”

Arnwine added: “We don’t want to be sitting here a year from now like we are with the [civil rights case against George Zimmerman] asking, ‘what happened?’”

The panelists presented a range of recommendations from mandating body-worn cameras and dashboard cameras for all police departments to police accountability review boards and building a comprehensive database of shootings involving law enforcement officials.

Taifa said the Black community has to be more creative in seeking justice, possibly turning to the United Nations and filing a petition under International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Daniels lamented the missed opportunity to use economic sanctions and boycotts to force reforms around the “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida following the tragedy of the Martin shooting and the not guilt verdict in the George Zimmerman trial. Daniels said that no national leaders would call for an economic sanctions campaign in Florida and wondered aloud if their corporate ties had anything to do with their silence.

“The economic benefits from this chump change that [corporations] are giving us is not worth taking the fire out of our movement,” said Daniels.

Jasiri X said that he was concerned about the intergenerational divide that he observed during the protests in Ferguson.

“When night came and the young people had to face off against tanks, snipers, and tear gas, they felt abandoned by the elder leadership,” said Jasiri X.

Jasiri X stressed the importance for elders in the Civil Rights Movement to support young leaders as they organize new groups to fight for social justice and political reform.

Jasiri X said that actor and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte met with more than 40 hip hop artists last year to guide them in using their art to talk about mass incarceration, violence in the community, and violence against women.

“[Belafonte’s] not trying to grab the mic and get on the mic,” said Jasiri X. “He’s using his wisdom and knowledge to guide and direct us.”

Daniels agreed.

Daniels called on young civil rights activists such as Jasiri X to take the lead in the current movement around police violence, calling it a matter of principle.

“Those that are being most affected, those that are being stopped and frisked and shot down on the streets and harassed are young people. They should be at the center and the lead,” said Daniels. “We need to step back, we need step aside, we need to move over and let them speak.”

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BVN National News Wire