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Jackson Hopeful After Key Economic Meetings; Set to Strategize with NNPA, Rainbow/PUSH

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

WASHINGTON (NNPA) - The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. emerged from separate meetings with new General Motors CEO Edward Whitacre Jr. and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner full of hope this week. But he is still looking forward to major forums next week, where the heat will be turned up and strategizing for economic justice will continue.

Jackson, CEO of the Chicago-based Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, believes that new levels of Black business participation are on the horizon as activists continue to press for economic inclusion and fair share in hiring, contracting and advertising dollars.

“This is the time to apply the affirmative action laws, Title 6 and executive orders,” says Rev. Jackson in an interview with the NNPA News Service. “We want parity in employment, parity in executives, in entrepreneurship and in business."

An initial public offering worth billions, plus $300 million in fees to begin managing the public resurgence of General Motors, must be subjected to affirmative action and racial inclusion laws or the federal government will find itself in violation of economic inclusion mandates, according to Jackson and based on a recent executive order issued by President Barack Obama.

Jackson points out that 60 percent of GM now belongs to the U. S. federal government.

Jackson met with Whitacre and Geithner, making clear the need and the demand for fair share for small and Black-owned businesses, including the 200 members of the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

On the heels of his own Rainbow/PUSH convention June 12-16 in Chicago, Jackson will be among the keynoters on a “Crisis in Black America” panel at the NNPA 70th Anniversary Convention in New York, where he says he will discuss further the plan for unrelenting Black inclusion. NNPA conference information is available at www.nnpa.org. Rainbow/PUSH conference information is available at www.rainbowpush.org.

“We want fair share to go to NNPA,” says Jackson, who has fought alongside NNPA Chairman Danny Bakewell for inclusion in advertising dollars for NNPA Newspapers and economic parity for small and Black-owned businesses in general. As a long list of White-owned newspapers have gone out of business during the economic crisis of recent years, most Black-owned newspapers have survived, but under great duress – largely because of longstanding race discrimination.

Both Jackson and Bakewell have argued that this would not be the case if federal dollars, such as the $300 million in fees and the general budgets of publicly-owned companies , were adhering to affirmative action laws.

At Jackson’s conference, these issues will be discussed in forums with officials from the Small Business Administration, the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) and the Treasury.

U. S. Rep. Maxine Waters, a foremost Black business advocate in Congress, among other congress people, as well as Bakewell will also be at the Rainbow/PUSH convention.

The discussion will continue among civil rights leaders on a Friday panel at NNPA’s annual summer conference to be held June 16-19.

Bakewell, this week, pointed to an executive order issued by President Obama two weeks ago that set forth plans for small businesses to benefit from federal dollars.

“Our president should be given credit for that significant move,” Bakewell said.

The president’s memorandum directed the heads of all executive departments and agencies to develop more opportunities for small businesses to participate in the Recovery Act. The memo specifically calls for heightened participation of businesses owned by minorities, women and economically disadvantaged individuals in the $500 billion in federal purchases made annually. "The Federal Government has not consistently reached its small business contracting goals," the Obama memo asserts. "Small business contracting should always be a high priority in the procurement process."

The memo establishes the Interagency Task Force on Federal Contracting Opportunities for Small Businesses. Geithner, the Peter Orszag, director of the Office of management and Budget, and Karen Mills, administrator of the Small Business Administration will serve as co-chairs of the Task Force.

"Obtaining tangible results will require an honest and accurate accounting of our progress so that we can have transparency and accountability through federal small business procurement data. Additionally, we must expand outreach strategies to alert small firms to federal contracting opportunities," the memo states.

Ken Smikle of Target Market News, a foremost authority on Black business inclusion, said in a news story published last week by the NNPA News Service, that Obama’s “memo addresses many of the issues on which Black media owners have been seeking action from the White House. It includes directives that were addressed in Executive Order 13170 issued by President Bill Clinton in October 2000. That executive order required all executive branch agencies, including the military, to engage in affirmative action to include minority owned businesses in the procurement of advertising.”

Smikle wrote, “Groups, including the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters and the National Newspaper Publishers Association, in April called for enforcement of the Clinton executive order in the allocation of hundreds of millions of dollars in Federal advertising.”

A goal of the Obama memo, as stated, is “improved collection, verification, and availability of Federal procurement data and provide accurate data on the Federal Government's progress in ensuring that all small businesses have a fair chance to participate in Federal contracting opportunities.”

It continues, “In developing its recommendations, the Task Force shall conduct outreach with representatives of small businesses and small business associations …This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of any necessary appropriations.”

The President is also pressing for public accountability for the group, calling for the creation of a Website within 90 days that will monitor the progress of the Task Force and "that illustrates the participation of small businesses, including those owned by women, minorities, socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, and service-disabled veterans of our Armed Forces, in Federal contracting."

GM filed for bankruptcy protection June 1. The company will now become two parts, a "new" GM and an "old" GM. The former will hold on to plants, dealers and brands that the company will drop or divest. The new GM will acquire the assets the company desires to keep.

Although Jackson is hopeful, he is determined to fight until tangible results appear.

Beyond the conferences, “We must keep applying pressure. That’s what we must do. Civil rights strategy is that we expose contradictions and keep applying pressure. That’s what we do.”

Family of Beaten Teen, Community Leaders Reject Police Investigation Results

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By James Patterson, Special to the NNPA from the Indianapolis Recorder –

INDIANAPOLIS (NNPA) - The completion of one facet of the investigation into the police beating of an Indianapolis teenager has apparently not put the issue to rest – only raised more questions.

A police internal investigation connected to the May 16 beating of 15-year-old Brandon Johnson resulted in the firing of one of the five officers involved, and a letter of reprimand given to the another. Police said the other three officers that took part in the altercation followed police department guidelines and would not be disciplined.

Public Safety Director Frank Straub and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Paul Ciesielski announced the results at a 10:30 a.m. press conference at the City-County Building in Indianapolis on Thursday, June 10. Ciesielski recommended that Officer Jerry Piland, a 3½-year veteran of the force, be fired over his aggressive tactics during the arrest of Brandon and his 14-year-old brother, Vincent Johnson. Police said Piland struck Brandon in the face with an open hand and may have kicked him in the face as well after the teen was under control. Piland was suspended without pay pending a hearing before the Indianapolis Police Merit Board.

MPD Officer Stacy Lettinga received a written reprimand for what her superiors said was using poor judgment in initiating the arrest. Officers David Carney, Jake Clouthier and Sgt. Josh Shaughnessy were cleared of any wrongdoing by the investigation. Lettinga, Carney, Clouthier and Shaughnessy had been placed on administrative duty with pay during the investigation. Piland, who was off duty and in street clothes when he took part in the arrest of Brandon, was reassigned to desk duty.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard released the following statement: “The internal investigation spearheaded by Director Straub and Chief Ciesielski balanced the real and legitimate concerns of the Indianapolis community with the need to be fair to the officers involved and thorough in its examination of the facts. Public safety can only be job one if the police act within the letter of the law, the guidelines of their training, and our fellow citizens and public safety officers treat each other with mutual respect. This incident is an indictment of neither the courage and bravery of our police force, nor the spirit of our neighborhoods. I support the conclusions of the internal investigation and the disciplinary recommendations.”

However, the results of the IMPD internal probe were not acceptable to the Johnson family, their attorney, and several prominent Indianapolis Black ministers and community leaders, who held a press conference at the family’s home in Warren Township about three hours after the police released their findings.

The family, who stood with their attorney and a group of prominent Indianapolis ministers and community leaders, including Bishop T. Garrott Benjamin Jr., made the following demands: “The remaining four officers involved be fired; a federal monitor of police brutality cases in Indianapolis; an external federal investigation of the case from outside the city; an immediate review of police staffing policies to weed out nepotism, racism, sexism, and the culture of violence and croynism; and that police intimidation be halted,” among other demands.

While the family’s Indianapolis lawyer, Stephen M. Wagner, acknowledged the gesture of the apology given by Public Safety Director Straub, the results of the investigation “are disappointing, to say the least,” he said. The investigation did confirm many of the crucial facts as the family believed them to be, Wagner said. The attorney said Brandon came outside and inquired as to why Vincent was in handcuffs. When Brandon was asked to remain across the street from where his brother was being detained, Brandon complied. He was then asked to get an adult before the officer would speak with him. He went into his home and got his 18-year-old brother, Wagner said.v When Brandon was asked to stay at a distance across the street, explained Wagner, Brandon ask the officers, “Why is my brother in handcuffs? At that point, Officer Carney approached him, rudely, and said, ‘You are going, too.’ With no physical provocation whatsoever, Officer Carney clocked him and knocked him to the ground.

When he was on the ground, and this is in the words of the chief himself, Officer Carney grabbed Brandon’s hair and then administered strikes to him. According to the chief, Carney then continued to strike him as other officers joined. Let me give you a little translation. An open-hand strike is police talk for a punch. From that point forward, additional officers joined in. Officer Clothier; Officer Piland, who was off-duty but who decided to join the fray when he arrived. Then the three of those officers continued to punch or kick or knee-strike Brandon. Based on this investigation, only Piland, who curiously was not placed on administrative leave during this incident, faces disciplinary action.

“What about Carney, who started it all?” asked Wagner. “Who knocked my client down without any physical provocation whatsoever? What about Clothier, who wrote a fanciful report afterwards in an attempt to cover the actions of the officers? We all know of Clothier’s history on the department. And what about Shaughnessy, the supervisor on the scene, who should have stopped the beating; maybe the only person on the scene they would have listened to?

“The police chief said that Clothier, Carney and Shaughnessy followed procedure. If this is proper police procedure in Indianapolis, then we need some new procedures in Indianapolis,” Wagner said. The family is awaiting the results of the Department of Justice investigation, “and are hopeful that criminal charges will be brought against all officers who had a part in this assault,” he said. “Until that time, we are left with partial justice and what we seek is full justice.”

Brandon’s mother, Chantay Chandler, said the internal police investigation was a complete slap in the face to her son. “I am grateful that at least one bad cop is off of the street but, however, it was a lot of wrongdoing here today and there are a lot of officers that need to be removed as well,” said Chandler.

Joining the family at the press conference were several prominent ministers, including Bishop T. Garrott Benjamin, Pastor M.E. Drane and Rev. Mmoja Ajabu of Light of the World Christian Church, Rev. Richard Willoughby, president of Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis, Pastor Lionel T. Rush of Greater Anointing Fellowship, and City-County Councilor and mayoral candidate Jose Evans.


New York's Black Leaders Challenge Cuomo's All-White Ticket

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By Nayaba Arinde, Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News –

NEW YORK (NNPA) - On Saturday, June 5, there was a not-so-secret secret meeting of leading Black politicos discussing what to do about gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo and his all-White ticket. Was it the equivalent of shifting deck chairs on the Titantic? Or bolting the barn door when the horse done bolted? The clichés abound, but the reality is, Black folk are asking, “What’s going on with our leadership?”

The National Action Network president, the Rev. Al Sharpton, said he called the meeting in order to hash out a united front in view of Attorney General Cuomo’s run for the governor’s office.

“Frankly, I think this kind of situation should have already happened,” said a slightly perturbed Sharpton. Noting that he is often out of town, the civil rights activist added, “I assumed local leaders were dealing with him. This should have been negotiated when we had more leverage, but now we’re going to make the best out of a bad situation.”

On June 5, about 30 people met to ponder over the potential political dilemma of Cuomo heading the pack in an electoral season, which sees not one Black or Latino picked to run on a statewide slate.

“The recent Black leadership meeting regarding the all-white state Democratic slate is after the fact and too little too late!” said Brooklyn City Councilman Charles Barron, who decided to not attend the meeting. “Here we have a situation with a city with a majority Black and Brown population—and no one is running who represents our interests.”

The Cuomo-Robert Duffy (Rochester’s mayor) ticket presents a veritable political minefield, which observers say could effectively see Black folk losing recently won gains, with no elected official in place with a genuine investment or interest in progression or even the equitable distribution of resources and policies.

The meeting, according to Sharpton, was an attempt to check that downward spiral before it begins. The minister told the Amsterdam News that Cuomo called him after hearing that members of the Black community were aggravated by the “lack of diversity” on his ticket. His pick of former Rochester Police Commissioner Duffy, an upstate white man, created a mini ripple.

Sharpton told Cuomo that he was very “anxious and concerned” about what the all-white ticket means: “After having a Black state comptroller in Carl McCall, a black lieutenant governor in David Paterson and then a Black governor, now we have an all-white statewide ticket. What does that mean for the Black and Brown empowerment process in the Black and Latino community? He said well, ‘I’m gonna have a diverse administration and I want to sit down and talk.’”

In order to discuss strategy and agenda, and trying to avoid what he called “a media circus,” Sharpton called a meeting of noted Black folks at an off-the-radar location at the Mt. Vernon church of the National Action Network’s chairman of the board: Rev. Frank Richardson.

In the room were politicos such as former state Comptroller H. Carl McCall, (whose run against Cuomo in 2002 created much consternation for the current attorney general), Mt. Vernon’s State Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, the NAACP’s Hazel Dukes, State Sen. Malcolm Smith, Congressman Greg Meeks, Council Member Inez Dickens, Harlem’s State Sen. Bill Perkins and political operatives Bill Lynch (former deputy mayor) and Roberto Ramirez.

Sharpton told the AmNews, “We came out with four main points: We want a meeting with [Cuomo] about whether he and the party will put resources and energy behind maintaining control of the State Senate by the Democrats, because if they maintain control, then John Sampson will remain the majority leader; and we will have a Black person at the table for all decisions. All decisions go through the governor, the majority leader and the speaker. If the Republicans have the majority, we won’t have a voice.

“Secondly, we want to know who is going to be in his administration and in what position. What are the appointments going to look like across the board? Who is he going to appoint as the commissioners, the heads of agencies and authorities? What will happen to Paterson appointments?

“Thirdly, who is going to be on his transition team? And who is going to be our representative in the campaign?”

Sharpton added that the group was also seeking a meeting with Paterson. “He can make four-year appointments even before the next governor takes office, and he can grant some pardons. There are some things he can do for political prisoners and for cases such as John White.

“The third meeting we will be seeking in the next couple of weeks is with the Working Families Party. They may put up a candidate, and we want to see if we have some options there,” said Sharpton.

With Long Island Republican Rick Lazio the only declared opponent, it would appear that a presumptuous assumption is being pushed that Cuomo is a shoo-in for the November election.

With his father, Mario, the former governor, warning Andrew not to be cocky and overly confident in assuming that the seat is his, thoughts turn to how this sense of entitlement came to pass.

In recent months, the major media undermined Paterson, battering him daily with sensationalist headlines about the beleaguered Aqueduct deal and the stories about Paterson’s aide, who was allegedly involved in a domestic violence incident. The New York Times insinuated that they had a story so outrageous that Paterson would be forced to resign. That tabloid piece never materialized, but the damage was done.

There was no analysis of Cuomo for months, while there was a full frontal assault on the current governor. Knowledgeable political sources determined that Cuomo might have been the source of the innuendo that led to the salacious stories.

Back in February at the height of the tabloidesque hype, Paterson told the Amsterdam News regarding Cuomo: “I’m not going to blame or start any rumors about anyone else, when I have no more information than the people who started rumors about me. When I can prove it, I’ll talk about it. Other than that, I have nothing to say.”

The outcome, however, was that a campaigning Paterson suddenly announced that he was pulling out of the race. An undeclared Cuomo was crowned his successor, prior to any announcement that he was running and months before the actual election.

While so many Black leaders simply seemed to fall in line, there has been some opposition, however.

Perhaps the most vocal is Charles Barron. “Firstly, David Paterson should have stayed in the race and given Cuomo some opposition,” he told the AmNews. “Secondly, Black leaders should’ve put the heat on Cuomo and conditioned their support for him based on him picking a Black lieutenant governor.

“Thirdly, Paterson should have never selected Gillibrand for U.S. senator, but since he did, Black leadership should’ve run a candidate against her—she is beatable! Fourthly, Black leadership should’ve fielded a candidate for attorney general candidate. I believe Esmeralda Simmons of the Center for Law and Social Justice would’ve been an excellent choice. With five whites in the race, Esmeralda Simmons would’ve had a great chance of winning.”

Barron continued, “So one wonders what this after-the-fact Black leadership meeting was really all about. Was it to ask Cuomo for diversity in government?

“Perhaps we’ll get the top position on the governor’s staff. Maybe we’ll get some Black commissioners or some other deals will be cut with Black leadership. One thing we won’t get is Black power. It is time for Black leadership to protect the Black masses from the Cuomo types of this state and not be Black vote getters for Cuomo when he has made no commitment to our Black communities, our Black agenda or our Black empowerment.”

The AmNews reached out to Cuomo but was unable to get a response.

Is he trying to lay back unchallenged? Sharpton replied, “Well, we’ll see what happens with the Working Families Party.”

“Paterson should have told Cuomo that he wanted a Black person on the ticket, and I want the Senate preserved before I announce that I am not running,” said an attendee at the meeting.

State Senator John Sampson told the AmNews, “The concerns of Black and Latino leadership about the lack of diversity on the gubernatorial and other state Democratic tickets are important and valid. New York State is a racial and ethnically diverse one, and our politics should reflect this social reality. However, I believe that there is an opportunity for constructive dialogue so that the new gubernatorial administration will be sensitive to this issue.

"However, important though diversity is, I believe that in the final analysis it is about picking the best possible candidates to contest these elections that would allow the Democratic Party to win in November.”


Latest Report Shows Racial Money Divide Has Quadrupled

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Special to the NNPA from the Louisiana Weekly –

(NNPA) - The wealth gap between White and African-American families increased more than four times between 1984-2007, and middle-income white households now own far more wealth than high-income African Americans, according to an analysis released on Monday by the Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP) at Brandeis University.

IASP, in a research brief, also reported that many African-Americans hold more debt than assets and at least 25 percent of African-American families had no assets to turn to in times of economic hardship. The fourfold increase in the wealth gap, it said, reflects public policies, such as tax cuts on investment income and inheritances, which benefit the wealthiest and persistent discrimination in housing, credit and labor markets.

“Our study shows a broken chain of achievement. Even when African Americans do everything right—get an education and work hard at well-paying jobs—they cannot achieve the wealth of their white peers in the workforce, and that translates into very different life chances,” said Thomas Shapiro, IASP director and co-author of the research brief.

“A U-turn is needed. Public policies have and continue to play a major role in creating and sustaining the racial wealth gap, and they must play a role in closing it,” said Shapiro, author of The Hidden Cost of Being African American: How Wealth Per petuates Inequality and the co-author of Black Wealth/White Wealth.

Wealth, what you own minus what you owe, allows people to start a business, buy a home, send children to college and ensure an economically secure retirement. Using economic data from the same nationally representative set of families from 1984 to 2007, the IASP analysis found that the real wealth gains and losses over the time demonstrate an escalating racial gap.

Over those 23 years, it said, the racial wealth gap increased by $75,000 — from $20,000 to $95,000. Financial assets, excluding home equity, among white families grew from a median value of $22,000 to $100,000 during that period while African Americans saw very little increase in assets in real dollars and had a median wealth of $5,000 in 2007.

Summing up all assets and debt, one in 10 African Americans owed at least $3,600 in 2007, nearly doubling their debt burden in real terms since 1984, IASP said.

The growth of the racial wealth gap significantly affects the economic future of American families, it said. The current gap is so large that it would pay tuition at a four-year public university for two children, purchase or make a solid down payment on a house, or provide a nest egg to draw upon in times of job loss or crisis.

“The gap is opportunity denied and assures racial economic inequality for the next generation,” said Tatjana Meschede, a co-author of the policy brief.

Notably, IASP’s analysis found that by 2007, the average middle-income white household had accumulated $74,000 in wealth, an increase of $55,000 over the 23-year period, while the average high-income African-American family owned $18,000, a drop of $7,000. That resulted in a wealth gap of $56,000 for an African-American family that earned more than $50,000 in 1984 compared to a white family earning about $30,000 that same year.

Those figures, IASP said, make it clear that higher income alone will not lead to increased wealth, security and economic mobility for African Americans. Consumers of color face a gauntlet of barriers—in credit, housing and taxes—that dramatically reduce the chances of economic mobility, it said.

Indeed, the data indicate that the general trend in lending, in which consumers of color pay more for accessing credit, increases their debt and blocks opportunities to move forward, putting them at a severe economic disadvantage. These are concerns that must be addressed through the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, now being debated in Congress, and other policy changes, IASP said.

“The data suggests we need renewed attention to public policies that provide real opportunities for advancement by reducing barriers to mobility inherent in our tax system and increasing transparency, regulation and access in our housing and credit markets,” said Laura Sullivan, another co-author.

Several factors help explain why improving targeted public policies would reduce the racial wealth gap and lessen the increased reliance on debt. One factor is that over the period studied there was an increasing dependence on credit markets to make ends meet. Among those with no financial assets, credit is often an emergency resource to help cover a job loss or medical emergency.

A second factor is that deregulation of the lending market brought a proliferation of high-cost credit, including securitized subprime and predatory loans, payday lending and check-cashing stores. Consumers of color were targeted in this market and resorted more frequently to credit card debt and other forms of high-cost debt in the absence of assets or extended family resources to draw upon.

“This data makes a critical contribution to the debate today about how to ensure greater economic security and opportunity for all our citizens. A racial wealth gap affects all of us because it means that a large portion of the population cannot contribute to building the wealth and strength of our nation, and that is a drain on us all,” said Meizhu Lui, director of the Insight Center for Community Economic Development’s “Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative.

Poisoning Of Nigerian Children Linked To New Mines

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Special to the NNPA from the GIN –

(GIN) – Recently reported deaths of more than one hundred children in the northern Nigerian state of Zamfara are being blamed on polluted water pools where the children play.

The deaths of 163 Nigerians, most of them children, were reported by Dr. Henry Akpan, the health ministry's chief epidemiologist, as “lead poisoning caused by illegal gold mining.”

The villages affected are in remote parts of Zamfara, one of Nigeria's poorest states in the arid Sahel region on the southern fringe of the Sahara desert, where many people work as artisanal miners and subsistence farmers.

Zamfara was recently hailed for newly-discovered subterranean wealth in gold, copper, iron ore and manganese. President Goodluck Jonathan inaugurated a mineral processing plant where he directed miners to respect international environmental practices.

But according to health officials, the natural resources were a double-edged sword. Tools, soil and water contaminated with large concentrations of lead began taking victims back in March and the government was slow to respond.

Abubakar Garba, a 40-year-old sheep farmer in Giadanbuzu, said in a press interview with Reuters that four of his six children died from lead poisoning two months ago. The four were all under the age of 10.

"The government of this country does not know where the poor live. They do not want to know what goes on in our villages," Garba said while fighting back tears.

"If it were their children, it would not have taken them so long to discover these problems."

The Blacksmith Institute, a New York-based nonprofit “working in highly polluted locations in the developing world with the intent of mitigating human health risks from pollution,” according to their website, is taking part in the clean-up.

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