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Soulvine: racial profiling, Black-on-Black crime, Van Brown

Columnist Betty Pleasant on racial profiling, Black-on-Black crime, Van Brown

Soulvine: racial profiling, Black-on-Black crime, Brown vs. Ali

Whose lives matter?

Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the other day a landmark piece of legislation (AB-953) to protect Black and Latino Californians from law enforcement’s racial profiling tactics and excessive use of force which frequently results in the death of unarmed Black and Latino men, women and, in some states, children.

ComptonHerald.com | Betty Pleasant

Soulvine is commentary by Betty Pleasant

The new law, was written by San Diego Assemblywoman Shirley Weber and it requires, among other things, that California cops collect data on the people they stop, including their race and/or ethnicity, the reason they were stopped and the outcome of the encounter. Hallelujah!! This puts an end to that putrid nonsense emitted by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck that two of his cops stopped Ezell Ford when he was unarmed and walking along Florence Avenue because the mentally-challenged man was “engaged in suspicious behavior.” Beck won’t tell us what Ford was doing when his cops stopped him and killed him. Apparently, it’s an LAPD secret. But no more.

This law, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2016, has a lot of very good stuff in it, including providing leeway for the state attorney general’s office to establish additional rules and regulations about the cops‘ use of body cameras, the disposition of their videos and the tightening of rules concerning the falsification and/or withholding of evidence by law enforcement.

The Black Lives Matter movement erupted around the country after the unarmed teenager Michael Brown was killed by a white policeman in Ferguson, Mo. last year. Los Angeles’ Black Lives Matter activists took on the issue of cops taking black lives and staged a series of protests against the cops — just the cops. But with the murders of Angelenos at an all time high all over the city and in the suburbs, and with the killing of Black folks by Black folks occurring almost weekly in South L.A., I was compelled to find out if those black lives mattered to the movement’s local organizers.

So, I called Melina Abdullah, the most prominent organizer of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, and asked her why Black lives ended by Black Angelenos do not matter to her movement. She responded: “Violence within the Black community is an extension of white supremacy.” Okay. Then she said: “Our emphasis is on ending state- sanctioned violence. We mourn the lives lost to violence in the Black community and we recognize the need to stop it,” Abdullah continued, adding: “as organizers, we respect and support each other in doing the work for which we are best suited.”

I asked Abdullah what proactive steps have her group taken to stop the violence in the Black community and she replied: “We respect the leadership within the Black community — we have for years.” Then she named some anti-violence activities by Black Lives Matter which other long-standing groups reported to me as having been organized by them, not by BLM. In fact, the virtual omnipresent activist Najee Ali emphatically stated: “I’ve participated in all the ‘stop the violence’ activities held in the community and [the] Black Lives Matters people didn’t attend any of them, let alone organized them.”

Why are Black people are killing each other in Los Angeles and how can they be stopped?

I went looking for the organizers of the activities and spent three days interviewing community leaders who are, in deed, grappling with the problem. I interviewed the Rev. K.W. Tulloss, western regional director of the National Action Network; the Rev. Lewis Logan, Ruach Christian Community Church; Pastor Nathaniel Martin, New Life Institutional Baptist Church; Pastor Jonathan Moseley, Grace Temple Baptist Church; activist Najee, a NAN official and head of Project Islamic Hope; the Rev. Najuma Pollard, Word of Encouragement Community Church; Pastor Michael Fisher, Greater Zion Church; and Cornell Ward, gang interventionist for the Unity One Foundation, who is the former head football coach at Compton College.

I first set out to learn who is killing Black people and why are they doing it.

Ward, who works directly with anti-social youngsters, keeps statistics on violence in the Black community and at the time we spoke, Ward began the conversation by stating “in the preceding week, there had been 22 murders, including three at funerals; 31 shootings and 33 arrests in the Black community.” Ward opined that the present violence is the aftermath of the “crack” cocaine epidemic that gripped the community some 30 years ago.

Ward, as well as Rep. Maxine Waters and other community leaders, believed at the time that South Los Angeles residents were deliberately targeted by the CIA to become “crack” addicts. So, between 1984 and the early 1990’s, large numbers of Black and Latino Angelenos were hooked on “crack” which was readily available for a very low price. At that time, one dosage of “crack” could be obtained for $2.50. The “targeted” residents were too loaded to work, so they laid around having sex and making babies who were not raised right.

Ward said the present killers in the community are doing so because “they are not in their right mind. They have never had good parenting because their crack-filled parents didn’t teach them the difference between good and evil; life and death; and love and hate. They respect nothing and are completely indifferent to basic human values.”

And then there is the county’s Foster Child Program, which Ward calls a “cash cow” for foster parents and a death knell for everybody these.

Ward, who has written a book entitled “There’s A Way Out,” which will be published in December, said there are more than 10,000 foster care children in South L.A. in situations where they get no love from people who are paid to babysit them, and that 98 percent of the potential “killer kids” not in foster homes have issues in their erstwhile family homes. He said these kids either have one parent or no parent and a complete lack of resources with respect to food, shelter and love.

“If we just had food, clothes and shelter, our gang killings and robberies would go down,” Ward said. “There are so many things we don’t know about our children’s history that can either hinder them or help them make better decisions,” he continued. “It’s a war out there and boys are generally identified as the warriors. But it was two girls who did the drive-by killings at a murdered man’s funeral the other day,” Ward said.

“The 1998 Rand Report on Youth Violence details the problem and issued solutions, but no one is paying it any attention,” Ward said. “Instead, the government has crafted a system that is designed to fail. We need to elect new leaders who are committed to enacting new policies aimed specifically at ending youth violence. If they want it to stop. It would stop,” Ward said.

“Absent that, I believe the answer to your questions and the solution to our problem is in the church,” Ward continued. “We are a God-loving, church-going people who know the difference between right and wrong and having that knowledge and the church’s leadership, we shall overcome again,” he added.

I spoke with the Rev. K.W. Tulloss, western regional director of the Rev. Al Sharpton-founded National Action Network (NAN), about the problem, which he called “very alarming and escalating.” He noted that “the victims of violence are no longer limited to altercations among young people, but we are now seeing people in their 40s and 50s being gunned down on the street for no reason other than whatever is in the minds of the murderers,” Tulloss said.

Back in July, NAN started the “Occupy the Corner” movement through which ministers, their congregants, and other concerned residents stand on the corners in the roughest neighborhoods in South L.A. sharing resources about jobs, after school programs and housing, and also serving dinners to hungry individuals and families. “We’re doing everything we can think of to fulfill the communities’ needs,” Tulloss said.

The ministers named at the top of this column organized their members into “accountability groups” and “cease fire groups” and scour their neighborhoods encouraging people to get involved and remain relevant and alert to the churches’ effort to bring peace to the community.

100 Days of Peace

To counter rumors that gang bangers had declared 100 days of killing in the community, NAN declared 100 Days of Peace (also referred to as “Push 100”) during which the ministers bolstered their community awakening efforts by conducting 100 nights of prayer for peace. One of them told me, “The prayer fuels our faith and our faith fuels our action.” Push 100 ends on Halloween, Oct. 31.

None of the people I interviewed could tell me where these killer kids are getting their guns. It seems to me the police ought to know. Speaking of the police, isn’t it odd that the Oregon police stormed that college the other day and came upon an armed White man who had killed nine people and wounded several others at the college and the best all those cops could do was wound the guy? Leaving the man to run off and kill himself? White cops kill unarmed Black people for nothing — for moving too slow, or too fast or not at all — but they’re standing there in front of an armed White man who has just killed nine people and shot up a bunch more and they exercise enough restraint to merely wound the guy?! Cops don’t wound Black people; not even a 12-year-old Black boy holding a toy gun.

Brown vs. Ali

HOLY COW! (I could call this something else, but Jarrette won’t let me use profanity, which is my first language.) Micah Ali, president of the Compton School Board, was set upon by Van Brown, the husband of Compton Mayor Aja Brown at a public event, recently. It seems that Van Brown was upset with Micah because the Compton Unified School District has taken steps to remove the illegal marijuana dispensaries that operate near Compton schools.

Witnesses said Brown was extremely agitated and even went so far as to grab Micah’s arm and threaten him. So, what’s the deal here? Do the Browns own any of those illegal marijuana dispensaries that the school board (and, no doubt, parents) want removed? Micah is an elected public official who is doing his job. He’s supposed to remove that trash. And Van Brown isn’t an elected anything and he should have been arrested for accosting an elected official.

This is the second piece of mess about the Browns that has been directed to my attention. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas went all out of his way to get Aja Brown elected mayor of Compton. He needs to reign this couple in before something bad happens.

Disclaimer: The opinions and views expressed in this commentary are not necessarily the views of the publisher.

Betty Pleasant is a contributing writer and columnist for the Compton Herald. She was formerly a reporter at the Los Angeles Sentinel and a columnist at the Los Angeles Wave.


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