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Community Rally Protests Punching Incident And Lack Of An Apology By Officer

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Special to the NNPA from The Seattle Medium –

(NNPA) - Members of the African-American community have taken to the streets to show their displeasure with the chain of events that have stemmed from the punching of a Black female teen by a Seattle police officer.

The group, led by Blacks in Government, are demanding an apology from the chief of police to not only the girl but also to the community, revisions of alleged police policies that allow for officers to punch people in the face, and for more police accountability to the community.

According to a statement outlining their demands, protestors are asking for a clear statement that the officer’s actions and behavior are inconsistent with proper police policy.

"We understand that the police guild maintains that the officer acted consistent with police policy under such circumstances,” read the statement. “We are aggrieved by a police policy that includes punching girls. If this is policy then we demand that policy be changed.”

According to James Bible of the Seattle-King County NAACP, the manner in which the apology that was issued by the young woman who was punched in the face to the officer was misrepresented by SPD.

“There has been a misrepresentation to everyone about the apology that took place,” said Bible.

“There was an apology, but there was not acceptance of her apology by the officer,” he continued. “What there really was, was a berating of her by the office of how what she did was wrong.” The story gets even more complex.

“There were two wrongs, but we only got one apology,” said Charles Oliver, president of Region X of Black in Government. “Why is he getting an apology, she was the victim!”

The over-riding message from the rally was that Black men in our community were not going to sit-by and let anyone, especially police officers, put their hands on Black women.

“I want to make it clear, you don’t put your hands on our sisters, I don’t care who you are,” said Min. Milford Muhammad of the Nation of Islam.

“You will never, ever, be able to justify putting your hands on no Black woman,” continued Min. Muhammad. “You can arrest her, but you won’t put your hands on her.”

“If I were here when that officer put his hands on that sister, I would have stepped between them and said that you cannot do this,” said Alton McDonald of the National Action Network. “For too long, our women have been strong. It’s time for our brothers to stand up and stop White supremacy.”

In addition, organizers vowed to not let history repeat itself as they made reference to past police incidents where officers seemed to be rewarded or glorified for their “unjust actions’ against African Americans.

“I’m getting sick of these cops coming down here mistreating our youth and getting promoted,” said Oliver. “If the officers think they can come to Seattle and continue doing what they do, they’ve got another thing coming.”

“That officer should be suspended until a full investigation has taken place,” said Min. Muhammad.

The bottom line for protesters seems to be respect. Respect for women, children and for the African American community as a whole. Organizers vow to stay with this issue until justice prevails and the victim/community are made whole.

“We want people who say they care about us to recognize that there was a girl involved in this too,” said Rev. Carl Livingston. “We’ve been quiet much too long, but we cannot be quiet any longer.”

Pastors Cite Racial Discrimination in Police Captain Suspension

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By Yasmine Regester, Special to the NNPA from the Carolina Peacemaker –

GREENSBORO (NNPA) - A Greensboro police captain has been placed on administrative duties after filing grievances on behalf of himself and other police officers. A press conference regarding the recent actions taken by the Greensboro Police Department against Captain Charles Cherry was held June 24 by the Pulpit Forum at New Light Missionary Baptist Church in Greensboro.

Cherry is the commander of GPD’s Eastern Division and has served the department for the last 23 years. Cherry’s suspension comes at the beginning of Greensboro Justice Summer, a grassroots movement organized by Beloved Community Center along with other faith based and social activism groups to organize and inform the public of their rights and to address issues surrounding the Greensboro Police Department.

Cherry was placed on administrative duty on June 7, pending a Fitness for Duty evaluation based on the following reasons: 1. writing and submitting grievances on behalf of several officers; 2. an inability to accept reasonable responses from department supervisors, and 3. his physical reactions in front of subordinate employees.

On June 9, Cherry was prohibited from the Maple Street police station and squad line-ups for the Eastern Division or any other divisions. He has also been stripped of his badge and gun. Cherry must also be evaluated by the department psychologist before being permitted to return to active duty.

Cherry sent an email to his employees on June 17 giving the reasons why he was placed under evaluation via the recommendation of a Bureau Commander. He also provided explanations of his actions. Cherry was accused of writing and submitting grievances from several officers who expressed the need for his assistance in writing such grievances. In the memo Cherry states that doing so was not in violation of Departmental Directives or city policy, however, it was one of the reasons provided as to why he is undergoing a Fit for Duty Evaluation.

Cherry told the Peacemaker he felt his employees and the community have a right to know why he was placed under Fit for Duty Evaluation. “I sent the memo to explain to my employees, and I also want the community to know because I serve them. I feel like they have a right to know what is going on.”

The pastors of the Pulpit Forum are citing racial discrimination and double standards within the GPD, which they say is the basis of the content in the submitted grievances. In a press statement released by the Pulpit Forum the pastors state, “This devious and unconscionable action is about covering up the culture of corruption and double standards within the GPD, pure and simple. It is a retaliatory measure…”

They also do not believe that hiring a new police chief will help alleviate the situation and are concerned the city will try to sweep the issues out the door with Police Chief Tim Bellamy when he retires on July 31.

The Pulpit Forum has written letters to the city manager’s office with a list of 97 questions addressing issues they believe need to be discussed publicly by the police department. Members of the forum have also spoken before city council on several occasions but have yet to receive any response to their list of questions.

Rev. Cardes Brown of New Light Missionary Baptist Church and president of the NAACP Greensboro branch, has been quite vocal in addressing members of city council as well as Mayor Bill Knight. Brown had been a supporter of Police Chief Tim Bellamy when Knight made a statement during a political forum in 2009 that he believed the chief only got his position because he was Black.

At the press conference, Brown stated that he owed Mayor Knight an apology for challenging his statement.

“I first challenged the statement because of Bellamy’s credentials. But now I do believe that Bellamy was made chief because he was Black and he could be used to show favor on the force. I believe Bellamy was willing to go along with things requested of him,” said Brown.

Rev. Nelson Johnson of Beloved Community Center added, “I think the apology from the Mayor was called for, because when you are placed in a high position such as mayor, you can’t play with stuff like that. But I do believe the chief is incidental to this.” The pastors and supporters demanded an apology from the mayor on more than one occasion but never got a response.

Johnson explained that he has access to several officers’ grievances because he and Rev. Brown have been asked to be spiritual advisors to them. “These grievances cite racial discrimination, harassment and hostile work environments. I think an interview with the city manager would be helpful because that is where everything has stopped,” said Johnson.

According to Johnson, city manager Rashad Young has a stack of grievances currently on his desk and the majority of them were filed by Blacks and other minorities. Under city policy, Young is required to respond in a timeframe of 20 days per complaint filed.

According to Michael Speedling, Assistant City Manager of Public Safety, Young is in the process of responding to the grievances as well as getting a response to the 97 questions presented by the Pulpit Forum.

'Africa's Worst Dictator' Wants To Spiff Up His Image

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Special to the NNPA from the GIN –

(GIN) – The President of Equatorial Guinea, once called “Africa’s Worst Dictator”, will get an image upgrade from a former aide to President Bill Clinton. Lanny Davis will receive $1 million for the job.

EG President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who seized power in 1979, is believed to have stashed about $700 million in private accounts from the first wave of revenues from offshore oil.

Davis, a regular cable news presence told the Huffington Post this week that he agreed to the contract because the African leader expressed sincere hopes of modernizing his country and implementing major political reforms.

Earlier this month, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said it would delay awarding a controversial prize named after and funded by the Equatorial Guinea president after protests from over 270 organizations and former Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Oil-Coated Fish Found Near Exxon Wells In Nigeria

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Special to the NNPA from the GIN –

(GIN) – The appearance of oil-coated fish are raising fears for the fishing industry in southern Nigeria where a leakage was reported near a pipeline owned by ExxonMobil.

MPN, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, on May 1 confirmed leakage at one of the company's offshore platforms in south Nigeria in Akwa Ibom State.

Rev. Samuel Ayadi, Chairman of the state chapter of Artisan Fishermen Association of Nigeria (ARFAN), told the Nigerian news agency they could no longer cope with the spills.

"We no longer make reasonable catch, and after fueling our outboard engines, we toil day and night, yet the catch does not cover the fuel costs.

"It is hope that keeps us going; we have been running at a loss and have been praying that God will turn things around."

Ayadi said that fishermen operating along the Atlantic shoreline recorded four oil spills within the past six months on Dec. 4, 2009 as well as March 24, May 1, and June 21, 2010.

According to the Ministry, since May 1, about 300 barrels of crude have leaked from one of ExxonMobil offshore platforms in southeast Akwa Ibom State. The story was first reported in SaharaReporters.com, a citizen journalism website.

Kagan Scrutinized for Confirmation This Week as Black Support Grows

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By Hazel Trice Edney, NNPA Editor-in-Chief –

WASHINGTON (NNPA) - Former Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan, President Obama’s pick for the U. S. Supreme Court, has gained more Black civil rights support as she goes before the U. S. Senate Judiciary Committee this week.

Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, who said in May that the LCCR would await decisions from more of its some 200 organizational members before it announces a formal endorsement, has released an updated statement announcing the organization’s endorsement of Kagan.

“The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights today announces its support for the nomination of Elena Kagan to be Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court and urges her speedy confirmation.

"In every step of her career, Elena Kagan has highly distinguished herself through her outstanding intellectual credentials, her independence of thought, and her strong respect for the rule of law. She is fully qualified and ready to serve on the Supreme Court,” Henderson said in the statement.

This adds to a significant list of civil rights organizations, which have chosen to back Kagan, despite deep concerns that Obama failed to continue diversifying the court by nominating a Black woman. The NAACP also endorsed Kagan while the Black Women’s Roundtable, led by Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civil Participation, expressed strong disappointment that the court still has no Black female justice.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund also came out in support of Kagan last week despite some reservations.

The NAACP-LDF released a report last week stating, “Notwithstanding some concerns detailed in this report, LDF supports Elena Kagan’s nomination to be the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Our review of her record leads us to conclude that she has the professional credentials, respect for the institutional roles of all three branches of federal government, intellect and independence of mind, ability to build consensus, and commitment to justice required of one who would serve in this critical role.”

The National Bar Association, representing 44,000 lawyers, judges, law professors and law students in 80 affiliate chapters in the U. S. and around the world, had also recommended a Black woman appointee. NBA President Mavis T. Thompson said the organization hopes to eventually support Kagan, but would wait to learn “more about the nominee's sensitivity to issues of race, gender, class discrimination and to affording equal opportunity to all segments of our society.”

The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has also withheld support of Kagan, noting questions that still remain on her protection and defense of civil rights while the National Urban League this week announced support of Kagan.

Meanwhile, Kagan will be questioned intensely this week by members of the majority Democratic Judiciary Committee, who will decide her fitness as an associate justice for the Supreme Court to replace long-serving Associate Justice John Paul Stevens. Predictably, Republicans have threatened a possible filibuster if the nomination advances to the entire Senate for vote. They say she is too liberal and has never been a judge. She is ultimately expected to survive all challenges.

Henderson and the LCCR are apparently poised to battle on her behalf:

“We also urge Senators not to be swayed by a small number of ideological extremists who have been grasping at straws to characterize her as having an ideological agenda,” he said in his statement. “While the Senate should thoroughly explore her views, it is abundantly clear to us that Elena Kagan is a consensus-builder who will play an important role in healing a fractured Court and in protecting the rights of all Americans.”

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