June 3, 2013
April 19, 2013
Dr. Kermit Gosnell is accused of running a house of horrors. And we can all agree that the crimes for which he is accused are horrific, gruesome and unspeakable. But there is a story behind the story that some are missing in this case, and that is the issue of race.
As it turns out, Gosnell allegedly treated his patients of color—his regular clientele— differently from his white patients. White suburban women are said to have been brought into a separate area that was cleaner than the facilities reserved for poor, minority and immigrant patients. Gosnell reportedly provided better, more hygienic conditions for his white clients because they were “more likely to file complaints” about receiving second-rate care.
Read more HERE.
On Monday at the University of California Washington Center, the high court judge said that the law an “embedded” form of “racial preferment.” According to Scalia’s interpretation, the Voting Rights Act was enacted as an emergency measure, but now amounts to a federal racial preference system for black people that discriminates against whites.
“Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes,” Scalia said. “Even the name of it is wonderful, the Voting Rights Act. Who’s going to vote against that?”
April 9, 2013
February 6, 2013
From the New York Times:
Kirk Noble Bloodsworth, a beefy, crew-cut man whose blue T-shirt read “Witness to Innocence,” took the microphone in a church hall here and ran through his story of injustice and redemption one more time. Twenty years ago, he walked out of a Maryland prison, the first inmate in the nation to be sentenced to death and then exonerated by DNA.
So, what do you make of a country where a third grader brings a gun to school to ward off bullies?
an 8-year old boy brought a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun to his elementary school two days in a row for protection, and to scare off three girls who were bullying him. The weapon was in the boy’s backpack and belonged to a relative. And surely somewhere in this nation of unacceptable levels of violence and gun worship, there are those who think that is a good thing, to arm children to protect themselves. More guns will make us all safer, right? Inkster, Michigan
After the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, America, it seems, is waking up to the need to stem the tide of violence in this country. But there is nothing new here. Whether we look at the shooting sprees and mass murder of young white men in the affluent suburbs or rural areas, or the epidemic of gun violence in communities of color in
Chicago and elsewhere, violence is part of the fabric of . America
From the beginning, this country has used violence to solve its problems. Years of dehumanization of others will do that to you. And this was always the case, from the enslavement of Africans to the genocide of the indigenous population, and from the regime of lynching in the Jim Crow South and elsewhere, to the acts of terror waged against civil rights workers, antiwar protestors and organized labor.
Speaking out against the Vietnam War in 1967, Martin Luther King said “I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government.” Dr. King’s words are even more relevant today than when he spoke over four decades ago.
has the most powerful army, accounting for 58 percent of the military expenditures made by the top 10 military powers. With high gun accessibility and the highest rate of gun ownership in the world, America leads in deadly gun violence. Nearly 70 percent of U.S. U.S. homicides are committed with guns, and 70 percent of the weapons seized in drug war-ravaged Mexico are traced back to the U.S. Gun proliferation is bolstered by an anachronistic and obsolete Second Amendment, and promoted by gun manufacturers, who bribe lawmakers and hold the public hostage in the process.
’s love affair with violence extends to its overly-punitive, disproportionate system of justice. With one quarter of the world’s prisoners, the America is the largest jailer in the world. Prisons are the largest repository for the mentally ill, with more people receiving mental health treatment behind bars than in hospitals or treatment centers. As budgets for education and social services are slashed and jobs are scarce, the American way is to lock up and even kill our perceived problems rather than to build up people and rehabilitate them. U.S.
Moreover, our continued reliance on the death penalty in the
is a prime example of what happens when a society perpetuates a vicious circle of violence. While capital punishment was long cast aside in Europe, U.S. Canada, Australia and elsewhere, the barbaric practice still finds a welcome home in - at least for now. The America U.S. is part of an unsavory alliance of nations who lead the world in executions - including China, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and . But the winds of change are blowing. Yemen
For a nation conditioned by violence, it is hard to break extremely old and equally bad habits. After all, people are comfortable with what they know, comfortable with what they were raised on.
January 23, 2013
Actor and human rights activist Danny Glover has created controversy for comments he made on the Second Amendment. Speaking at a recent event at Texas A&M University, Glover said the purpose of the amendment was to preserve slavery and keep down Native Americans.
Similarly, responding to the argument that a gun control measure lacks the votes to pass through Congress, Fox News’ Shepard Smith compared guns and slavery. Smith offered, “
Glover and Smith are not the only people to make a comparison between gun control and social movements such as the struggle to abolish slavery. For example, others have made references to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Whether appropriate or not, slavery and civil rights have become part of the debate over gun control.
With regard to slavery, there is evidence that the Founding Fathers had that institution in mind when drafting the Second Amendment.
January 15, 2013
From Huffington Post:
With the death penalty a hot topic of discussion in Maryland these days, lawmakers in that state have a golden opportunity to repeal an outdated, cruel and unjust practice.
Death penalty repeal is in the air. At the urging of the NAACP, Maryland CASE and others, Gov. Martin O'Malley and state lawmakers are paving the way for a repeal vote in the legislature. When it comes to government-sponsored executions, Annapolis needs to let it go, and apparently is about to do so. And the reasons why they should are clear.
Click HERE for more.
January 14, 2013
While today’s NRA takes hardline positions against even the most modest gun control measures, this was not always the case. Throughout its history, the NRA supported gun control, including restrictions on gun ownership, and was not focused on the Second Amendment.
But the organization had a change of heart in the 1970s when the Black Panthers advocated for an individual right to bear arms. Ironically, the Panthers were the founders of the modern-day gun rights movement, which became the purview of predominantly white, rural conservatives.
January 2, 2013
There was no movie made about Anthony Fletcher, but there should be one.
Although we don't know for certain how many innocent people sit on Pennsylvania's death row, we do know that six innocent men have exonerated in the Keystone state over the past 30 years. Those who are condemned to death in Pennsylvania are disproportionately from Philadelphia, and overwhelmingly black and Latino, with the highest proportion of racial minorities of any death row population in the U.S.
One of those Philadelphians is Anthony Fletcher, prisoner #CA1706, who has been on death row for two decades. Fletcher should be a free man today. And if there is justice, he will be a free man.
An honorably discharged Army vet who had learned to box in Germany and became a lightweight prizefighter, Anthony "Two Guns" Fletcher came from a boxing family. His uncles were fighters, and his mother Lucille was the first African-American female boxing judge in Philadelphia. Anthony was the sparring partner for Sugar Ray Leonard in preparation for his win over Marvin Hagler, and made a name for himself by beating such greats as Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, Harry Arroyo, Johnny Bumphus, Jimmy Paul and Livingstone Bramble. But a detached retina and a bout with Bell's Palsy slowed down his career.
Now Fletcher is in the fight of his life, a fight to prove his innocence, and a fight against an out-of-control justice system. And for years in Fletcher's hometown of Philly, under the reign of the infamous district attorney Lynne Abraham, that system kept tallies on expendable black men, aiming to win rather than seeking true justice.
Fletcher, then 37, was sentenced to death in 1993 for the robbery and murder of Vaughn Christopher. Christopher, 26, a crack addict, suffered two gunshot wounds. Fletcher does not deny that he was at the scene, but maintains he was railroaded. The devil is in the details, and those details point to a grave injustice.
Based on the account by Fletcher and people close to the case, Christopher had robbed Fletcher at gunpoint for $50. Weeks later, Fletcher saw Christopher from a distance while driving in his car, confronted him regarding the stolen money and punched him. Vaughn pulled out a gun from under his shirt. Fletcher quickly placed his hands on Vaughn's forearm in an act of self-defense. The gun discharged, two bullets struck Vaughn in the thigh and abdomen and he fell to the ground.
Christopher's injuries were not life-threatening. Yet he bled for hours in the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, and died because his mother, a Jehovah's Witness, refused a blood transfusion.
The D.A. said it was a homicide, and sought the death penalty for Fletcher. Lynne Abraham, who was known as "America's Deadliest D.A." for her overzealous use of the death penalty, did not pass up the opportunity in what was at best a case of self-defense, and as worst a simple assault if not an accident.
Fletcher maintains this was payback, given that Abraham wanted Fletcher to testify at a murder trial, in which a member of the Junior Black Mafia was tried for firing into Fletcher's car and killing his cohort. Anthony--who ducked to save his life and says he never saw the shooter-- attended the trial but changed his mind about testifying.
The prosecution painted Fletcher as a coldblooded drug dealer who murdered Christopher over a drug debt. Their case rested on the eyewitness testimony of Natalie Renee Grant, a self-professed addict who had a long criminal record. She testified that the incident stemmed from a drug deal and that Fletcher murdered Christopher execution-style and fled the scene. Anthony's bungling defense failed to challenge Grant's unsubstantiated hearsay testimony. Meanwhile, Grant--who faced with prostitution and theft charges--was given probation in exchange for her testimony.
Fletcher's witnesses were barred from testifying.
No gunpowder test was performed on Christopher's clothes, which the police misplaced, and his weapon was never admitted as evidence to prove it contained Anthony's fingerprints. Surely, had there been fingerprints, the prosecution would have used such evidence against him.
There were other problems with the case. For example, Fletcher and his supporters maintain the prosecution used as evidence falsified hospital records and an autopsy report containing photos of two African American men purported to be Vaughn Christopher.
In addition, the prosecutor claimed Anthony's nickname was "Two Guns' because he carried two guns on the street, a fallacious claim his defense lawyer failed to challenge. The defense also declined to allow his client to take the stand.
Further, the prosecution claimed Fletcher shot Christopher once in the thigh and once in the back, which does not square with the autopsy report. And Hydrow Park, the Chief Medical Examiner who conducted the autopsy, did not testify because the D.A. said he was unavailable and failed to notify him of the trial date.
Park's underling Ian Hood-- who was unlicensed in Pennsylvania and disciplined by the state board for pretending he was a licensed medical doctor- took the stand instead. Hood, who testified there was no physical struggle despite the bruise on Christopher's chest, recanted his testimony in 2003.
Meanwhile, Common Pleas Judge John Milton Younge vacated Anthony's sentence in 2004 and ordered a new trial, citing as prejudicial the failure of Dr. Park to testify, Dr. Hood's erroneous testimony-- which was contradicted by the autopsy report that proves Fletcher's innocence-and ineffective defense counsel. But the retrial never occurred, as Judge Younge pursued a Superior Court seat and the court failed to find a replacement judge. The D.A. appealed the decision, and four years later, the state Supreme Court ruled against Anthony Fletcher.
Allegations of missing and fabricated evidence, sketchy witnesses, prosecutorial misconduct and crappy lawyering. Don't forget racial overtones. These are some of the essential ingredients of the death penalty. And this is what put Anthony Fletcher and others on death row in Philly and elsewhere around the country.