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What happened to Jonathan Ferrell?

ferrell-1-0915Let me check my watch. What time is it? Is it 1963? Maybe it’s… 1973? In these long, bygone eras, a black man could not walk in just any old neighborhood and knock on any old door. There were rules. These rules were unwritten but were, nonetheless, enforced. If you were a black man walking in the wrong neighborhood, you were assumed to be a burglar. It was okay, even expected in some places, for the police to come, question you, arrest you and take you away. I guess one of my big problems is that I’ve been reading The New Jim Crow. Michelle Alexander clearly illustrates how a new system was developed during the Civil Rights movement which specifically targets people of color and locks them up for years at a time. Jonathan Ferrell was a young black male who apparently wrecked his car. This Florida A&M University student reportedly crashed and looked for help.

In this society, you can’t crash and crawl out of your car in a daze and you can NOT go bang on doors. You can’t do that. In our society, we are completely inundated and bombarded with images of violence. Therefore, the homeowners didn’t think that Jonathan Ferrell was looking for help. Instead, they pushed their alarm panic button. This summoned the police. Now, you know where this goes from here. If somebody had called an ambulance, I believe that Jonathan Ferrell might be alive today. Instead, the police were called. Jonathan Ferrell is now dead.

From TP:

Officer Randall Kerrick, 27, of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) in North Carolina is facing charges of voluntary manslaughter after fatally shooting Jonathan Ferrell, 24, a former Florida A&M football player who had apparently been seeking help after surviving a major car crash early Saturday morning.

CMPD officials called the shooting “excessive.” “Our investigation has shown that Officer Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter,” said CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe in a statement. “It’s with heavy hearts and significant regrets it’s come to this… Our hearts go out to the Ferrell family and many members of the CMPD family. This is never something easy.”

The Charlotte Observer reports that the car crash was so severe that Ferrell likely had to “pull himself out” of the wreckage. He then walked to the nearest house, about a half mile away, to seek assistance. But the local resident whose home Ferrell arrived at was frightened that he was attempting to burglarize her after not recognizing him.

The resident then made a 911 call and three officers arrived at the scene. According to police accounts, Ferrell, who is African-American, acted “aggressively” and charged towards the officers. Officer Thornell Little of the Hickory Grove division of the CMPD responded with an unsuccessful attempt to fire his Taser at Ferrell. Police say that when Ferrell continued to charge toward the police, 27-year-old officer Randall Kerrick discharged his weapon several times, eventually killing Ferrell.

By |2013-09-17T21:09:55-04:00September 16th, 2013|Race|Comments Off on What happened to Jonathan Ferrell?

Don Cornelius dead at age 75

If you are over the age of 40, you understand the impact that Don Cornelius had on American life. Back in the ’70s, it was rare to see shows that involved Black people. Soul Train provided an atmosphere which promoted music and cultural harmony. Don Cornelius’ influence on our society cannot be underestimated. My prayers go out to his family and friends.

From RS:

Don Cornelius, who created the long-running R&B and dance-music showcase Soul Train, was found dead in his home in Sherman Oaks, Calif., early this morning. He was 75. Law enforcement officials suspect suicide; the body was found with a gunshot wound to the head.

Trained as a journalist on WVON, an African-American talk radio station in his native Chicago, Cornelius conceived of Soul Train during the Civil Rights movement, noting there was no showcase for black music on national television. Soul Train debuted in 1971 and quickly became a popular stop for major acts such as James Brown, the O’Jays and Michael Jackson. Cornelius hosted the show from its inception until 1993; Soul Train ended its long run in its original form in 2006.

The show had a huge influence on popular culture and the pop charts. One of its themes, “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia),” became a hit record, and references to Cornelius and Soul Train have appeared in dozens of songs over the years. Cornelius famously closed each episode with the parting words, “We wish you love, peace and soul.”

(Read more)

By |2012-02-02T04:41:29-04:00February 2nd, 2012|Music|Comments Off on Don Cornelius dead at age 75

Shame on You (Update)

Watch this shocking video:

In the 1960s, during the civil rights movement, we saw peaceful marchers attacked by vicious dogs and high-pressure water hoses. We saw massive arrests. Today, the #Occupy movement is being confronted by massive arrests. So far, there are no high-pressure water hoses. So far, there are none of those of vicious attack dogs. Instead, protesters are being sprayed with pepper spray. Why? I just don’t understand how the police justify pepper spraying nonviolent students. I think it would be different if the students were attacking the police. I think it would be different if the students were destroying property. I think it would be different if the students were actively doing any of a number of things. They are simply sitting and protesting.


UC Davis President has issued a statement stating that she was appalled and two of the police officers have been suspended.

From James Fallows

Let’s stipulate that there are legitimate questions of how to balance the rights of peaceful protest against other people’s rights to go about their normal lives, and the rights of institutions to have some control over their property and public spaces. Without knowing the whole background, I’ll even assume for purposes of argument that the UC Davis authorities had legitimate reason to clear protestors from an area of campus — and that if protestors wanted to stage a civil-disobedience resistance to that effort, they should have been prepared for the consequence of civil disobedience, which is arrest.

I can’t see any legitimate basis for police action like what is shown here. Watch that first minute and think how we’d react if we saw it coming from some riot-control unit in China, or in Syria. The calm of the officer who walks up and in a leisurely way pepper-sprays unarmed and passive people right in the face? We’d think: this is what happens when authority is unaccountable and has lost any sense of human connection to a subject population. That’s what I think here.

Less than two months ago, it seemed shocking when one NYPD officer cavalierly walked up to a group of female protestors and pepper-sprayed them in the eyes. The UC Davis pepper-sprayer doesn’t slink away, as his NYPD counterpart did, but in every other way this is more coldly brutal. And by the way, when did we accept the idea that local police forces would always dress up in riot gear that used to be associated with storm troopers and dystopian sci-fi movies?

If you watch the whole clip, you see other police officers beginning to act “human” in various ways — taking off their riot helmets, being restrained rather than unbridled in use of force, a few of them even looking abashed or frightened as they walk off.

This Occupy moment is not going to end any time soon. That is not just because of the underlying 99%-1% tensions but also because of police response of this sort — and because there have been so many similar videos coming from cities across the country.

By |2011-11-21T20:36:12-04:00November 21st, 2011|Civil Rights, Occupy Wall Street|Comments Off on Shame on You (Update)
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