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Sun May 03, 2015 at 04:04 AM PDT

R.I.P. A Garden Grew in Oakland Today.

by jpmassar

Reposted from jpmassar by a2nite

Oscar Grant Plaza filled Saturday afternoon with a couple hundred people come to the first #BlackSpring event in Oakland. The organizers came up with a great idea, an its already spread across the twitterverse.

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Reposted from Community Quilt Project by Yasuragi

TrueBlueMajority's quilt

It breaks my heart that this quilt is needed -- yet it is needed, urgently.

UPDATE: The situation is dire.  CelticLassie's brother and sister-in-law are on their way.  When they arrive and all the tests are back, hospice will be consulted and decisions made.  We will pull out all the stops to get this quilt done and will need the messages ASAP.
A little backstory: CelticLassie survived cancer as an infant.  Otteray Scribe and his wife (a nurse) adopted her from St. Jude's, determined to save her life.  They lovingly nursed her to health with great success.  Up until now, she's had a very active and happy life.  But the monster (cancer) appears to be back.  Since Christmas, CelticLassie has had some trouble walking and has been in pain.  A few days ago, she fell and broke her hip.   When the hip was imaged, a huge pelvic mass was found.  The doctors think the mass has weakened her bones, thus the fracture.  It is also pressing on other parts.  Long story short, CelticLassie is in agony and is likely to be in the hospital for an extended period.  We are going to make a community quilt to support her spirit through this ordeal and would welcome loving messages from you for her.

Clinic 1989
CelticLassie with her new big sister and mama

1st day B&W
CelticLassie's first day home, here with her father

As you will see below, she grew into a strong and lovely young woman with an infectious smile, a spirit for adventure, and a deep love of her family's Scottish heritage.  She is an accomplished piper, too -- not easy!  Some more photos below the orange cloud...

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Reposted from Community Fundraisers by JekyllnHyde

I am joining Most Awesome Nana and several others in the Community Fundraisers group in strongly supporting this community effort for elenacarlena.  Ever since she joined Daily Kos, Elena has been a strong and regular presence while participating very widely and quickly becoming a valued community member.  As an example of this commitment, we have worked closely together (along with JoanMar, 2thanks, Tortmaster, and others) behind the scenes for the past year in helping to finalize and post weekly diaries on police brutality and Medicaid expansion through the Support the Dream Defenders group.  As you know, she is also a regular diarist for the War on Women diary series.

Please help Elena through this difficult time for her as well as her beloved pooties and woozle.  On behalf of the entire CFs group, thank you.  JekyllnHyde

Welcome everyone to our Derby Day Party!

We are going to have a horse race (also known as the "most exciting two minutes in sports"), a few mint juleps, and a good time raising funds for our fellow Kossack, elenacarlena. Everyone is invited to join us to make a comment, tip, rec, republish, share on Facebook, promote on Twitter, send good vibes, or donate.

Elena is always ready to help others with information, good wishes and when possible, money. But now she is the one who needs help. Many of you read her previous diary and responded with great kindness. Unfortunately, the situation has not yet resolved itself. She still lacks enough funds for her special needs cats.

Please follow me below the bourbon fudge swirl for a few words from Elena.

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Reposted from ExpatGirl by poco

Early in the Ferguson case, Megyn Kelly conducted an interview with an ‘anonymous source’ who claimed that Michael Brown had severely beaten Darren Wilson to the point the latter required medical attention for an orbital socket blowout. It didn’t matter that it was a lie. The story took hold and, to this day, many continue to believe that Michael Brown attacked and severely beat Darren Wilson.

Thursday evening, Kelly condescendingly interrogated Jason Downs, a lawyer for the Gray family. Throughout, it was clear that she never for a second thought the police would be held accountable. Her prime and arguably only concern was whether or not the Gray family would accept exoneration of the police department.

As reported by Crooks & Liars:

Rather than discuss the substance of the case with Gray family attorney Jason Downs, Kelly seemed obsessed with ferreting out whether the family would properly react (as Kelly so determined) to the results of an official investigation into Freddie Gray’s broken spinal cord and death while he was in police custody.

Kelly’s racial hostility came out early and in what seemed a Freudian slip.

KELLY: So when you people, when you hear people say there need to be murder charges – ‘cause we’ve heard that, we’ve heard that from some of the folks leading these protests, they need to be charged with murder – you don’t agree with that yet.

The police were not exonerated. But rather than accept the result herself, Kelly instead turned her attention to smearing Freddie Gray.

Just as she did with Michael Brown, last night’s Kelly Files featured an anonymous guest from the Baltimore Police Department who claimed that Freddie Gray was a police snitch. The 'source' went on to say that his "personal guess" was that Gray ran from police after making eye contact because, at that moment, he had probably been "distributing narcotics in that alley". When asked by Kelly what Gray had been charged with, he repeated the now thoroughly debunked "switchblade" lie.

As reported by Raw Story:

Kelly said the officer, who went by the pseudonym “Mike,” had asked for his identity to be concealed out of concern for his safety. But instead of challenging the officer for his uncorroborated claims just hours after six of his fellow officers were indicted in connection with Gray’s death, she responded, “That’s interesting. That’s new information I had not yet heard.”

Kelly also alluded to a leaked medical examiner’s report saying that Gray injured himself while in the van after being stopped on April 12, pointing to footage of him standing and “apparently stepping into that van” as proof he was not injured outside. She did not mention reporting by the Baltimore Sun and WBAL-TV contradicting that claim.

Disgusting. Now we know how another dead man is going to be thrown to the wolves after having the audacity to lose his life to the police. And we once again have Megyn Kelly to thank for getting the ball rolling.
Reposted from ExpatGirl by Yasuragi

The Baltimore Sun is reporting that all six officers in the Freddie Gray case are out on bail.

All six police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray were released from the Central Booking and Intake Center downtown Friday night after posting bail, court records show.

The four officers facing felony charges posted $350,000 bails; the two facing misdemeanors posted $250,000 bails.

Contrast this with Leslie Salzillo's excellent diary yesterday: Public Defender Describes Vile And Illegal Conditions Of Baltimore Citizens Being Held In Jail.

As of yesterday, protestors, rioters and those who broke curfew had been detained in filthy, overcrowded conditions for days. Basic necessities like water and medical attention were being withheld. Many were being detained without any formal charges being laid.

Knowing all of this, I was still not prepared for what I saw when I arrived. The small concrete booking cells were filled with hundreds of people, most with more than ten people per cell. Three of us were sent to the women's side where there were up to 15 women per holding cell. Most of them had been there since Monday afternoon/evening. With the exception of 3 or 4 women, the women who weren't there for Monday's round-ups were there for freaking curfew violations. Many had not seen a doctor or received required medication. Many had not been able to reach a family member by phone. But here is the WORST thing. Not only had these women been held for two days and two nights without any sort of formal booking, BUT ALMOST NONE OF THEM HAD ACTUALLY BEEN CHARGED WITH ANYTHING. They were brought to CBIF via paddy wagons (most without seat belts, btw--a real shocker after all that's happened), and taken to holding cells without ever being charged with an actual crime. No offense reports. No statements of probable cause. A few women had a vague idea what they might be charged with, some because of what they had actually been involved in, and some because of what the officer said, but quite a few had no idea why they were even there. Incidentally, I interviewed no one whose potential charges would have been more serious than petty theft, and most seemed to be disorderly conduct or failure to obey, charges which would usually result in an immediate recog/release.

And then there is this:
Roselyn Michelle Roberts, a 43-year-old grandmother, faced two charges of fourth-degree theft and burglary. The court heard that Roberts suffered from manic depression and earned around $60 a week babysitting her grandchild. The state’s attorney argued for a $50,000 bail. Judge Owens revised the figure to $100,000 citing two pending cases against her and a record of eight prior convictions.

The court heard how Antonio Jackson, a father of one who works as a warehouse labourer, was allegedly caught with a pair of tennis shoes still with their price tag. He was not arrested at the scene of looting and his public defender argued he would lose his job if not released. The state’s attorney requested $50,000 bail. This was revised by Judge Owens to $100,000, who cited a single occasion when Jackson failed to appear at a scheduled court date.

And this:
The 18-year-old pictured smashing a police car with a traffic cone, in one of the defining images of the Baltimore riots, is being held on half a million dollars’ bail and may face years in jail after his stepfather persuaded him to turn himself in to authorities.
You read this right. The six officers charged in Gray's excruciating death received speedier due process than people who stole tennis shoes and stayed out past curfew. And all six had bail amounts $150k to $250k lower than an 18 year old who turned himself in after smashing a car window.
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Reposted from JoanMar by 2thanks
MLK makes a point.
If there is one name that has been uttered more often than Freddie Gray's over the past week, it has been that of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. We know that the criminal, heartless Right Wing Media have been doing their darnedest to claim the civil rights icon as their own. They have been on a mission to remake Dr. King into their own image. That last sentence isn't even exactly true; they have been busy whittling down the man into a one-dimensional, wishy-washy, mealy-mouthed battering ram to be used against the very people for whom he fought.

Let's take a look at what the man actually preached ... and let's place his words in context and in the spirit in which they were intended.

Become mal-adjusted:

I never intend to adjust myself to the tragic effects of the methods of physical violence and to tragic militarism. I call upon you to be maladjusted to such things. (Martin Luther King, Jr., “The Power Of Nonviolence” (1957).)
What did Martin Luther King really say about riots as they have to do with political activism and civil rights (and not the results of ball games)?
I contend that the cry of "black power" is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro. I think that we've got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. (Martin Luther King, Jr., "The Other America".)
In other words, no justice, no peace. It is an act of malice - intended to inflict serious psychological damage - to demand peace from the hurting and disenfranchised even as you dispense justice to only those who share your skin color and or socio-economic background.

After using the word "thug" to describe young rioters in Baltimore, Erin Burnett was asked, (paraphrasing as best as I can remember) "Then what do you call members of the police who broke Freddie Gray's spine?" To which Ms. Burnett replied, "I don't know what happened. I will wait on the courts to decide. You remember how that whole 'hands up don't shoot' was found to be a total lie."

Michael Brown and Freddie Gray are dead. Justice, some wise person said long ago, should not only be done, but also be seen to be done. There's no justice to be seen anywhere in these cases; primarily because journalists are very well adjusted to, and accepting of, these incidents of injustice happening again, and again, and again.

What if we were to apply this quote from Dr. King to American Law Enforcement Officers?

Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: It seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.
The police are the patriarchal formal leaders who have been foisted on our communities and invested with the power to slap us upside the heads if mothers won't do it; or eliminate us if and when they feel like it. Violence is the tactic used to whip us into shape.  When the oppressed revolt, however briefly, against aggressive over-policing, they are castigated and condemned as "thugs." No winning for black folks.

What to do about this fucked-up state of affairs?

One awesome member of Support the Dream Defenders said this:

"In times of uncertainty and turmoil in the past, Americans have fought back in four principal ways: at the ballot box, by long-term populist appeals, with protests, and through legal action."
Protest is of the utmost importance right now. We applaud and support those who have taken to the streets to let their voices be heard, those gathered in New York, in Philadelphia, in Washington DC, in Chicago, in Ferguson, and in Baltimore.

As our young people and others of good conscience take to the street, we invite our friends to help us with the fight on the legal action front.

We need revolutionary changes to policing in this country. We do not claim that we have all the answers, but the Michael Brown Over-Policed Rights Act provides at least some of the answers.

As you may know, Support the Dream Defenders crowd-sourced the Michael Brown Over-Policed Rights Act at Daily Kos in the fall of 2014. Over 700 Kossacks supported our effort. Our finalized bill quickly gained the support of the NAACP and the ACLU. The NAACP forwarded our bill to members of Congress, and we distributed it to members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other progressive members of Congress. President Obama signed into law a small piece of our bill in December 2014. The Department of Justice included part of our bill in their recent report on Ferguson, Missouri. Our state version of the MBOPRA is currently in committee in the Kansas legislature. The final version of our law: Michael Brown Over-Policed Rights Act of 2015 (Federal)

Action Steps:

Please contact your U.S. senators and representatives and ask them to support our Michael Brown Over-Policed Rights Act.

Two helpful websites:

How to Contact Your U.S. Senator

How to Contact Your U.S. Representative

Please note the information to include in an email to your representative or senator, such as your address, etc.
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Reposted from shaunking by a2nite
Freddie Gray being loaded into the police van
Freddie Gray being loaded into the Baltimore Police Van.
Again, because the Baltimore Police refuse to release any real statements from the officers involved in the April 12th arrest and April 19th death of Freddie Gray, we are forced to become citizen investigators. As more facts become evident, it is increasingly clear that what happened on April 12th violated multiple department policies and caused catastrophic injuries to Gray, who was completely unresponsive by the time police arrived at the Western District Station.

The police as you will see in the photo below,

In this article, I exposed the lies that Freddie Gray caused his own injuries. He didn't.

In fact, on April 24th, the police themselves admitted that Freddie Gray was severely injured and in need of medical attention before he was placed in the van.

Baltimore deputy police commissioner Kevin Davis confirmed Friday that Freddie Gray, who was taken into custody after fleeing from police had already been injured before he was carried to the police van.

"And quite frankly that's exactly where Freddie Gray should have received medical attention," said Davis. "He did not."

What they aren't saying is that it is an egregious violation of multiple department polices for police to ignore the injuries of someone in custody. Every single officer and spectator who saw and heard Freddie Gray during his arrest knew that he was critically injured and in excruciating pain.

His legs were limp, his neck already appears to be in great pain, and he is yelling in discomfort. This is a textbook case of someone needing immediate medical attention. Yet, instead of calling medics for a man who clearly wasn't a flight risk or taking Freddie Gray on a two minute ride to the precinct, they began a fatal 40 minute ride which effectively killed him. He never spoke another word again.

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Fri May 01, 2015 at 01:02 PM PDT

Black Kos, Week In Review

by Black Kos

Reposted from Black Kos community by Yasuragi

Commentary: African American Scientists and Inventors
by Black Kos Editor, Sephius1

John P. Parker (1827 – February 4, 1900) was an African-American abolitionist, inventor, iron moulder and industrialist who helped hundreds of slaves to freedom in the Underground Railroad resistance movement based in Ripley, Ohio. He rescued fugitive slaves for nearly fifteen years. He was one of the few blacks to patent his inventions before 1900. His house in Ripley has been designated a National Historic Landmark and restored.

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Reposted from Eclectablog - eclectic blogging for a better tomorrow by Yasuragi

Originally posted at

Shoot 'em?

Teana Walsh, an assistant Wayne County, Michigan prosecutor posted this on her Facebook page after watching images of protesters and rioters in Baltimore following the homicide of Freddie Gray:

So I am watching the news in Baltimore and see large swarms of people throwing bricks, etc at police who are fleeing from their assaults ... 15 in the hospital already. Solution. Simple. Shoot em. Period. End of discussion. I don’t care what causes the protestors to turn violent...what the “they did it because” reason way is this acceptable. Flipping disgusting.
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Reposted from chaunceydevega by a2nite

Baltimore’s young people responded to the police theft of Freddie Gray’s life with protests that eventually grew into a spasm of violence. While the direct motivator, Gray’s death is not the only direct cause of the uprising. The protests and violent exhalations by Baltimore’s black youth (and others) are the result of a long pattern of police abuse, harassment and violence toward that city’s African-American community in the context of systemic class inequality, custodial citizenship and mass incarceration.

The causes of black urban unrest in the United States are not “unknown unknowns.” Rather, they were described in great and compelling detail by the 1968 Kerner Commission, which was tasked by President Johnson with determining the causes of the urban riots during the 1960s.

The reasons young people in Baltimore and other parts of the United States have been moved to street protests in response to police violence are only mysteries to those American policymakers and members of the public who choose to live in a state of denial.

(White) America is a country with a limited historical perspective and a very short-term memory. As Gore Vidal famously said, “We live here in the United States of Amnesia. No one remembers anything before Monday morning. Everything is a blank. They have no history.”

Thus, the American people are robbed of any meaningful social or historical context for the police abuse in Baltimore, Ferguson, and the many other locales where police thuggery and state violence are routinely visited upon black and brown Americans, as well as the poor and the mentally ill, with relative impunity.

White riots and pogroms against Black Americans are a fixture of American history. But the corporate news media enables many white Americans’ intentional forgetting and mass amnesia.

Here, the uprising and righteous anger of black young people in Baltimore (and elsewhere) is almost by default described as a riot. Deeper questions about class inequality and racism are removed from the dominant media frame and replaced by tired, trite and profoundly unsophisticated claims that the uprising in Baltimore was caused by absent black fathers, broken homes and an urban culture of poverty and violence. In everything but name, Baltimore’s black youth have been branded by the news media and American opinion leaders as feral street urchins: this is the language of racialization and dehumanization.

Many Americans in the news media and elsewhere are reluctant to acknowledge how the angry and violent response by Baltimore’s young people against the illegitimate, cruel and repeated acts of police brutality and killings in their community could be logical and wholly reasonable—and solidly within the American political tradition.

The White Racial Frame—a system of belief that legitimizes and normalizes white dominance and privilege in North American society—has produced the language of “riots,” “black pathology,” “thugs,” and “criminals” that is commonly used to describe the Baltimore uprising. The White Racial Frame does the work of white supremacy and helps to maintain political, social and economic systems of white privilege and unearned advantages. The White Racial Frame also distorts historical fact by erasing America’s long tradition of white-on-black violence across the colorline.

The language of “riots” to describe “urban unrest” as something unique to black Americans is a relatively recent phenomenon, one that can be traced back to iconic images of burning cities in the aftermath of Dr. King’s assassination and the tumult of the 1960s. But the use of phrases such as “riot” or “mob” can also be seen in the latter part of the 19th and early 20th centuries to legitimize mass white racial violence against black Americans during the era of Jim and Jane Crow. Newspapers such as the New York Times featured headlines such as “Mobs of Blacks Retaliate for Riots”; “Negro Mob Terrorizing the Citizens of Jacksonville”; “Negro Mob in South Shouts for Lynching”; and “Negro Mob Killed Sheriff.”

The racist news narrative continues in the present, where the urban uprising against police violence and brutality in Baltimore has been described by right-wing propaganda sites such as the Drudge Report and other media outlets as a “race war” and/or “anti-white” violence.

In fact, in the United States, “rioting” and “race wars” against people of color are almost exclusively the domain of white Americans.

During the 1863 New York City draft riots, white people ran amok, killing black Americans and destroying the African-American community’s churches, orphanages, businesses and schools.

In 1921, over a 24-hour time period, whites destroyed the prosperous black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma. White rioters used machine guns and dropped bombs (in what may be one of the first recorded uses of a plane for that purpose) on the black community. Conservative estimates suggest that at least several hundred black people were killed.

In East Saint Louis, whites engaged in a pogrom against the black community. Like Chicago, this was part of the “Red Summers” in which whites attempted to reassert their control and dominance over the black community in the aftermath of World War I.

Scholars such as James Loewen estimate that as many as 3,000 black communities were “ethnically cleansed” by white violence and other means of intimidation

Historian Gregory Downs has suggested that as many as 50,000 black Americans were killed by white racial terrorism in the 30 years following the end of the American Civil War. This total may not even include at least 4,000 blacks who were victims of lynchings by whites across the South and other parts of the United States.

As the late Joel Olsen described in The Abolition of White Democracy, white riots against black Americans and other people of color were a way of creating a sense of communal identity across lines of class and ethnicity. Thus, “whiteness” was nurtured and in many ways created by white violence against non-whites generally, and African Americans in particular.

White riots and other types of mass violence against the black community enriched white Americans through land theft, the destruction of black businesses and as a way of enforcing a regime of racial terrorism that economically and politically oppressed the black community in such as a way as to directly (and indirectly) fill white America’s coffers.

By most empirical measures (land taken, people killed and number of occurrences—there were 26 white-on-black race riots during the year 1919 alone) white Americans are the country’s most successful, adept and skilled rioters. White America is an expert on rioting and race wars; black America is a neophyte amateur with little to no experience in such matters by comparison.

Nevertheless, the corporate news media has recycled Ronald Reagan’s and the Republican Party’s language of “law and order” and “black pathology,” and obsess over images of black young people “rioting” against the Baltimore police. Many in the corporate news media will also emphasize what they believe is wrong with the “black family,” “black culture,” and the black community’s supposed inability to “control” young black people in the aftermath of the Baltimore uprising.

The right-wing media and its politicians will heavily emphasize this narrative. Fox News host Bill O’Reilly told his viewers that:

“The facts then dictate that racial persecution really isn’t the problem in Baltimore. Something else is in play. And that something else is personal behavior…These idiotic thugs who are rioting and looting are hurting their own people, and because the entire world sees pictures of blacks rampaging, all African Americans are affected…It is long past time for police agencies in America to have a no tolerance policy towards brutality on the part of officers…But it is also long past time for African-American communities across America to begin to police themselves.”
Republican 2016 presidential candidate Rand Paul suggested that the Baltimore uprising was caused by absent black fathers:
“The thing is that really there’s so many things we can talk about, it’s something we talk about not in the immediate aftermath but over time: the breakdown of the family structure, the lack of fathers, the lack of sort of a moral code in our society. And this isn’t just a racial thing, it goes across racial boundaries, but we do have problems in our country.”
Paul’s and O’Reilly’s comments are part of what is known as the Southern strategy, which was created by the Republican Party in the aftermath of the civil rights movement with the goal of using white racial resentment and anti-black and brown bias to win over white working- and middle-class voters.

However, much more important questions will not be asked by pundits and politicians.

How are America’s police pathological in their violence, racism and brutal killings of black people?

Are America’s police deranged in how they imagine unarmed black and brown people as some type of imminent threat to be dispatched with due haste and extreme prejudice?

Is America’s police culture sick and pathological in how citizens have been tortured to death, sexually assaulted and otherwise violated and abused by police officers?

If there are only a few bad apples in America’s police departments, why don’t the good cops throw them out en masse?

Are America’s police more like a street gang than public servants?

It is easy for the mainstream news media to opine and lecture about “pathological” black communities that are supposedly plagued by “bad culture.” It is far more difficult to talk about America’s broken police and its culture of violence and disrespect toward non-whites and poor people that led to the killing of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, and so many other black men and women across the United States of America.


Fri May 01, 2015 at 10:24 AM PDT

R.I.P Ben E. King


Reposted from Bend Over Here It Comes Again by Denise Oliver Velez

It is being reported that Ben E. King has died of natural causes. He was 76.

Bestest cover of Stand by me ever.

Reposted from Brainwrap by Yasuragi

Thanks to reporters Mark Puente & Wesley Lowery for the screen shot:

The official list of charges against the 6 officers (not 1, not 2, not 3...six) is out:

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