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Archive for the month “July, 2013”

What will it take for the youth to take over the American government?

I do not know about you but for me the result of the George Zimmerman trial was a real disappointment. In the last post, I put up videos and did not write anything because I wanted to take sometime away from the blog, so that I could think about the case. I have decided to break down the issues surrounding the case over several posts.

This post will touch light on why the American government looks like this.
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and not like this.

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When Trayvon Martin was killed, people took to the streets because George Zimmerman was not arrested right away; he was arrested about 45 days after the incident. I believe the youth represented a large majority of the protesters in 2012 and they make up the majority of protesters today. So with that said I want to continue fueling that youth power.

One would think, after seeing the public outcry after Trayvon Martin’s death, that George Zimmerman’s trial would result in the prosecution of Zimmerman. Because the public through petitions and protesting expressed that they wanted to see a fair system. On Change.org, about 2.2 million people signed a petition for the prosecution of  George Zimmerman. Any one in their right mind would just look at the number of petitions and see that the public have spoken. Than how is possible that the trial ended the way it did?

The video below is Democracy Now’s coverage of George Zimmerman’s Trial. The person of focus (the person who I want you to pay attention to) in the video is executive director of Dream Defenders, Philip Agnew. Mr. Agnew is a young black man who is sharing knowledge, wisdom and hope with other youths.  Phillip Agnew points out many important things but for this post I will isolate quotes that will benefit my argument. Which is that the current judicial system is old and out-dated. The system needs more youth, people of color and women who are able to think differently than the ‘old white man mentality.’

Crucial statements made by Philip Agnew:

I watched CNN, as I watched HLN, I never saw a young person of color on there able to speak.

And what we see is a system not built for people of color, not built for the poor, and not built for young people.

I think we need to look at the environment that created a situation that grew a George Zimmerman and that snuffed out a Trayvon Martin.

The quotes above represent the reality of the system,  the youth are rarely given a chance to directly influence the present and future of this country. Which is important because the youth are the ones who have to live in the future America, not the older people who take up room in the American government now.

Below is a video about a group of African Americans and Latino teenagers, who were falsely accused and charged with raping a woman in 1989. The video below is  Democracy Now‘s coverage of the documentary called, The Central Park Five (2012).

Nermeen Shaikh: Donald Trump took out full-page ads in four city newspapers calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty so they could be executed.

Nermeen Shaikh: But in 2002, the convictions in the Central Park Five case were vacated after the real rapist came forward and confessed to the crime. DNA evidence confirmed he was the sole attacker. This came after the five defendants had already served sentences of almost seven to 13 years for the assault. To this day, their case continues to impact how the criminal justice system treats juvenile offenders.

Jim Dwyer: A lot of people didn’t do their jobs—reporters, police, prosecutors, defense lawyers.

Amy Goodman: Right now New York City is refusing to settle a civil lawsuit brought by the five men whose convictions were overturned after they spent years in prison, and now lawyers for the city are seeking access to footage gathered for the new film.

Sarah Burns: -I became fascinated by this story, this miscarriage of justice and how it had happened.

Nermeen Shaikh: One of the people, Jim Dwyer, I believe, from the New York Times in the documentary says that the way this case was represented in the media had to do—like the people who were actually convicted were proxies for other wars that were being fought in the city, had to do with crack cocaine coming into these neighborhoods, increasing rates of poverty, etc.

I thought that it was important to include the video above because it works as a reminder of how cruel the American judicial system has been to people of color in the past. America has changed since its birth, it was once a country that allowed slavery, than slavery was abolished but still a black man was prevented from being seen in public with a white woman. It took some time for segregation to be seen as something that is wrong, but still America was not an innocent country. Because it took part in immoral activities like using the war on marijuana as a tool to deport unwanted Mexicans. In 1989 America was a country that wrongly accused young black and brown boys of raping a young white woman. Because we all know that a white man would never do anything like that. This cruelty is in many ways is still present even though today we have a different America. The racial demographic of America is changing, the Census Bureau estimates that by 2050, one in three people living in America will be of Latin descent. And if the current trend continues, as it is now, by 2100 half of the entire population in America will be of Latin descent. So the judicial system should reflect the changing racial demographic of America.

The next videos below feature Democracy Now‘s coverage of Kenneth Chamberlain’s death.

Officer Stephen Hart: Mr. Chamberlain!

Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.: Don’t do that, sir. Don’t do that. Don’t do that, officer. Don’t do that. Don’t do that. Don’t do that. Do not do that! I’m telling you I’m OK!

Officer Stephen Hart: Open up the damn door, nigger!

Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.: I’m telling you I’m OK!

Officer Stephen Hart: [inaudible]

Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.: I’m telling you I’m OK.

Mayo Bartlett: But when you have the complete tapes, you know that he’s telling them repeatedly, for at least 15 minutes, that he’s fine, he’s OK, and he doesn’t need help.

Mayo Bartlett: And it’s clear that the White Plains Police Department and the city of White Plains as a whole turns a blind eye to these things.

Juan Gonzalez: The vice president of a bank, who claimed that he threw him to the pavement, beat his head on the pavement, broke his nose, while arresting him for disorderly conduct.

Juan Gonzalez: And then, finally, Sergeant Fottrell, one of the supervisors on the scene, who is facing a—who just finished a trial from an African-American woman who claimed that he used a stun gun on her while arresting her, although he was acquitted in that trial.

Juan Gonzalez: Three of them were facing, at that very moment that they were in Chamberlain’s house, charges by citizens who claimed that they had abused them. So, this is part of what you’re looking at in terms of calling for a federal investigation of the White Plains Police Department?

I included the videos above because it shows where the American government is at today. It does not matter that a black man occupies the presidential seat, people of color are still considered second class citizens through the eyes of the judicial system.

The video below features Democracy Now‘s coverage of a documentary called, Gideon’s Army. This documentary follows the lives of young public defenders who work in the deep south, helping people of color  and the poor.

Amy Goodman: In some states, it’s estimated 80 percent of people facing felony charges cannot afford to hire their own lawyers.

Amy Goodman: Often the lawyers appointed to handle their cases are faced with overwhelming caseloads and virtually no resources. The problem is especially bad in the South. The average caseload for a public defender in Miami-Dade County, Florida, at any one time is 500 felonies and 225 misdemeanors.

Amy Goodman: I mean, the figures are astounding. The U.S. has the largest imprisoned population in the world—what, two million people.

Travis Williams: I really became a public defender to fight the system, to make sure the police are held accountable, to make sure that the court system is held accountable to make justice work.

Amy Goodman: Talk about the significance of what it means to say 90 percent of people charged with a felony actually plead guilty. They don’t go to trial.

Travis Williams: They do not go to trial. You know, we have an FBI statistic, is 12 to 13 million people get arrested. So, from those people, many millions will be charged. If 90 percent of those people are pleading guilty, we are funneling people into the prison system. We are not giving them their day in court, which is what the Sixth Amendment—you know, you have the right

Amy Goodman: The facts and figures in this film—I mean, the average caseload for a public defender in Miami-Dade County—I read this already, I’m going to read it again. In Florida, Miami-Dade County, at any one time, 500 felonies, 225 misdemeanors—what, 725 cases. How is it possible? If you’re working 40 hours—and I know you work more, but 40 hours, this is like three minutes a case. How do people deal? How do lawyers deal with this?

The story about the public defenders above is an important one. Because it shows how hard one has to fight if they want to bring change to the system. The young people featured in the video represent the change that we need to see in the judicial system. Instead of the system fighting the change it sees by throwing people in jail, it should welcome the change by educating people, provide jobs, providing universal healthcare, etc. Because the people who are being criminalized (people of color and youths) are the ones who are going to guide America in the future. The only way we will get to see a better America is if everyone is welcomed to the table.

Peace!

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What will it take?

Below are videos of Democracy Now’s coverage of the peoples reaction to George Zimmerman’s Trial.

Posted on July 15, 2013

Posted on July 15, 2013

Posted on July 16, 2013

Peace!

Egyptians are not Satisfied

I woke up to news about peaceful protests that turned violent in Egypt. I personally did not think that there was going to be so much friction in Egypt this early. I did anticipate some friction due to the journey that Egypt took  to get to this point. As well as the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood rose from the ashes of the 2011 uprising. It is not easy for a country to go from so much unrest to peace. Not to forget it is really hard to make everyone happy.

So, from what I have read, it seems that the Egyptian military suspended the constitution and ousted elected President Morsi. The reaction from the world is split. I have supported the uprising in Egypt since day one but I have to admit, the region to me is very complex.

Below I have provided a video that hosts individuals digging deeper into the issue surrounding Egypt. It was posted on Al Jazeera on July 4, 2013.

The video below is news coverage from Al Jazeera about the ousting of President Morsi; it was posted on July 3, 2013.

I wanted to add comments from world leaders about the steps that the Egyptian military took. I copied this from Al Jazeera. It was posted on July 4, 2013.

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The Egyptian army’s suspension of the constitution and removal of President Mohamed Morsi has drawn mixed responses from world leaders:

European Union

The EU has called for a rapid return to democracy in Egypt.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said: “I urge all sides to rapidly return to the democratic process, including the holding of free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections and the approval of a constitution, to be done in a fully inclusive manner, so as to permit the country to resume and complete its democratic transition,”

“I strongly condemn all violent acts, offer my condolences to the families of the victims, and urge the security forces to do everything in their power to protect the lives and well-being of Egyptian citizens.”

Saudi Arabia

Saudi King Abdullah sent a message of congratulations to Adly Mansour ahead of his appointment as interim president.

“In the name of the people of Saudi Arabia and on my behalf, we congratulate your leadership of Egypt in this critical period of its history. We pray for God to help you bear the responsibility laid upon you to achieve the ambitions of our brotherly people of Egypt,” the message said.

Turkey

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamic-rooted government, which had formed an alliance with Morsi, spoke out in favor of the ousted leader. Turkey’s foreign minister slammed the overthrow as “unacceptable” and called for Morsi’s release from house arrest. Turkey itself was hit last month by a wave of protests against Erdogan’s perceived authoritarianism and attempts to impose his conservative views on secular society.

Iran

Iran was disappointed at the fall of Morsi, with a prominent legislator saying the leader failed to reshape Egypt’s powerful military and other security agencies. After Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, the new leadership formed military and security forces loyal to the clerics and others. Morsi’s government had ended more than three decades of diplomatic estrangement with Iran dating back to the revolution, when Egypt offered refuge to Iran’s deposed shah.

Tunisia

The ruling Islamists in Tunisia, the cradle of the Arab Spring, condemned the overthrow as a “flagrant coup”. Ennahda party leader Rachid Ghannouchi expressed astonishment, saying the overthrow undermined democracy and would feed radicalism.

Iraq

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki expressed support for the Egyptian people’s choices and congratulated Egypt’s interim president, a spokesman said. The spokesman, Ali al-Moussawi, added that Iraq is “looking forward to boosting bilateral relations” and is “certain that the new president will move on with the new plan in holding elections and safeguarding national reconciliation”.

Syria

Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday praised Egypt’s protests against their leader and said his overthrow by the military means the end of “political Islam”. Assad, who is seeking to crush a revolt against his own rule, said Egyptians have discovered the “lies” of the Muslim Brotherhood. He spoke in an interview with the state-run Al-Thawra newspaper.

“What is happening in Egypt is the fall of so-called political Islam,” Assad said. “This is the fate of anyone in the world who tries to use religion for political or factional interests.”

United Arab Emirates

The UAE welcomed the change in Egypt, according to state news agency WAM, and praised the Egyptian armed forces.

“His Highness Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the foreign minister of the UAE, expressed his full confidence that the great people of Egypt are able to cross these difficult moments that Egypt is going through,” WAM said in a statement.

“Sheikh Abdullah said that the great Egyptian army was able to prove again that they are the fence of Egypt and that they are the protector and strong shield that guarantee Egypt will remain a state of institutions and law,” it added.

Qatar

Qatar’s new emir congratulated Egypt’s Adli Mansour after he was sworn in as an interim leader. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, “sent a cable of congratulations” following the swearing in.

The foreign ministry said: “Qatar will continue to respect the will of Egypt and its people across the spectrum,” the source said. Qatar was alone among Gulf Arab states in celebrating the 2011 Arab Spring revolt that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.

United Kingdom

The UK urged for calm in Egypt, but stopped short of calling the military intervention a coup.

“The situation is clearly dangerous and we call on all sides to show restraint and avoid violence,” said Foreign Secretary William Hague. “The United Kingdom does not support military intervention as a way to resolve disputes in a democratic system.”

The UK called on all parties to move forward and “show the leadership and vision needed to restore and renew Egypt’s democratic transition”.

“It is vital for them to respond to the strong desire of the Egyptian people for faster economic and political progress for their country,” stressed Hague.

This must involve early and fair elections and civilian-led government, he said.

United States

The US State Department expressed concern over the military intervention.

The US ordered the mandatory evacuation of its embassy in Cairo, just hours after the army deposed Morsi. A later travel advisory confirmed that “the Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency US government personnel and family members from Egypt due to the ongoing political and social unrest.”

US President Barack Obama released a statement saying he was deeply concerned by the decision by Egyptian military to depose Morsi, and called for a swift return to civilian government.

“No transition to democracy comes without difficulty, but in the end it must stay true to the will of the people. An honest, capable and representative government is what ordinary Egyptians seek and what they deserve,” Obama said.

“The long-standing partnership between the United States and Egypt is based on shared interests and values, and we will continue to work with the Egyptian people to ensure that Egypt’s transition to democracy succeeds.”

However, the US also stopped short of calling the military intervention a coup.

Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane, reporting from Washington, noted that any country involved in a coup was not entitled to aid from the US.

Germany

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the military intervention was “a major setback for democracy in Egypt” and called for “dialogue and political compromise”.

“This is a major setback for democracy in Egypt,” Westerwelle said during a visit to Athens. “It is urgent that Egypt return as quickly as possible to the constitutional order… there is a real danger that the democratic transition in Egypt will be seriously damaged.”

“We call on all sides to renounce violence. We will watch developments in Egypt very closely. And then make our political decisions.

“Political detentions and a political wave of repression must be avoided at all cost. Now this is about returning to the path of democratic order.”

France

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Paris took note that elections had been announced in Egypt following a transition period after the army ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

“In a situation that has worsened seriously and with extreme tension in Egypt, new elections have finally been announced, after a transition period.”

France hoped a timetable would be drawn up respecting “civil peace, pluralism, individual liberties and the achievements of the democratic transition, so that the Egyptian people can freely choose their leaders and their future”, he added.

 

We hope for Peace.

San Francisco Celebrates Gay Marriage

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Last week was a huge week for supporters of gay marriage. This is because on Wednesday (I believe it was on this day), supreme court justice Anthony Kennedy, denied voter-approved Proposition 8, which went against gay marriage. The argument behind the rejection is that private backers, who are the voters, had no legal standings to fight a case in court. The LGBT community have been waiting 4 1/2 years since the last time they had freedom to marry.  In 2008 was when Proposition 8 was passed.

The timing for this ruling could not be more perfect because this past weekend (June 29-30) was PRIDE weekend in SF. So the city went bananas this past weekend. I had to work out of the city but I could tell that everyone from around the Bay Area and from around the world was in San Francisco; the areas around SF were empty.

This was a crucial step but of course there is more to do. Thumbs up for Equality!

Here are articles and links to more information on this matter:

From The SF Examiner

And from The Guardian

Below are PRIDE pictures.

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Peace!

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