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    Cassandra Chaney chronicles police brutality, African-American community in new book

    Given the increasing attention to unarmed African Americans who have lost their lives at the hands of police, LSU School of Social Work professor Cassandra Chaney examined community sentiment regarding police in her new book titled “Police Use of Excessive Force against African Americans: Historical Antecedents and Community Perceptions.”

    The book delves into how the early antecedents of police brutality like plantation overseers, the lynching of African American males, early race riots, the Rodney King incident, and the Los Angeles Rampart Scandal have directly impacted the current relationship between communities of color and police.

    “Each public incident of mistreatment, such as assault and murder, of African Americans erodes the trust members of this group have of police and makes it more difficult for honorable law enforcement officers to effectively do their jobs,” Chaney said. “As a child and family studies scholar, I know well that these events do not just affect the person, but the families and communities of which they are a part.”

    Cassandra Chaney

    Cassandra Chaney

    Chaney and co-author Ray V. Robertson, an associate professor of sociology at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, further studies how African American college students perceive police in order to delve into how race, gender, and education create different realities among a demographic. The scholars chose to study the attitudes of African American college students because this demographic is typically at a developmental stage of life when they are becoming more aware of their values and what is happening in the world around them.

    “In my experience, African American college students have a lot to say about what is wrong with the world, and they see themselves as potential agents of change. Furthermore, their perceptions and sentiment of police mistreatment, such as assault and/or murder, is based on their personal experience, the experience of family and friends as well as the experience of African Americans throughout the nation,” Chaney said.

    Based on their findings, Chaney and Robertson offer recommended policies and strategies for police and communities to improve relationships and perceptions between the two.

    Chaney recently was awarded a Dean Larry Davis Social Justice Fund grant by the National Association of Deans and Directors for her project titled “Nothing Can Change until It Is Faced: Community Sentiment of Police in Low-Income Disenfranchised Communities.”

    “In this project, I will continue my work in this area by examining how African Americans of different ages perceive members of law enforcement. In particular, this work will examine how attitudes regarding law enforcement form, conversations African American parents have with their children regarding police and strategies individuals and families in low-income communities use to maintain safety in their communities,” she said.

    Chaney is a Black families’ scholar with broad interests in the formation, structure, and function of Black families. In particular, her research examines the narratives of single, dating, cohabiting, and married Blacks, as well as how religion and spirituality support these families, both historically and today. Using a variety of theoretical lenses, she qualitatively explores intimacy and commitment in Black heterosexual relationships, emphasizing how demonstrations and perceptions of masculinity/manhood and femininity/womanhood shape this discourse.

    ONLINE: Police Use of Excessive Force against African Americans: Historical Antecedents and Community Perceptions: https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781498539180/Police-Use-of-Excessive-Force-against-African-Americans-Historical-Antecedents-and-Community-Perceptions

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    COMMENTARY: Trump telling police ‘Don’t be too nice’ is unsettling at least

    Donald Trump, showed up on Long Island recently spewing his propensity for violence and promoting his disdain for former President Barack Obama to the Suffolk County Police department. Turns out the audience was comprised of officers in a police department that has been scrutinized for racial profiling and whose former chief was recently sentenced to prison for beating a man.

    Trump has a burning desire to discredit Barack Obama and a commitment to destroying his pristine image and presidential legacy by whatever means at his disposal.

    Under Obama, the Justice Department opened investigations into more than two dozen police departments, and worked out formal reform agreements known as consent decrees with 14 of them including the Suffolk County Police Department. These agreements were reached in the wake of several nationwide high-profile fatal shootings of Black men by police.

    Upon being appointed Attorney General, probably upon orders from Trump, Jeff Sessions ordered Justice Department officials to review reform agreements with troubled police forces nationwide, saying it was necessary to ensure that these pacts do not work against the Trump administration’s goals of promoting officer safety and morale while fighting violent crime.

    In his address to the Long Island crowd, Trump suggested police shouldn’t worry about roughing up suspects. This was Trump’s subtle attempt to erase the effects of Obama’s policing reform agreements.

    In reference to M13, a violent gang of young men mostly of Salvadorian decent, Trump suggested that police should ignore arrest guidelines and not be “nice” to the suspects. The president spoke dismissively of arresting officers who protect suspects’ heads while putting them in police cars.

    Trump: “I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice.’ Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting the head. You know? The way you put the hand over the head, like ‘Don’t hit their head’ and they’ve just killed somebody, ‘Don’t hit their head.’ “I said, ‘You can take the hand away,’ OK?”  Officers in the audience responded to Trump’s remarks with thunderous applause.

    Such a reaction is, at the very least, unsettling given the allegations of discrimination against the department. The Suffolk County Police Department was investigated for discriminatory policing against Latinos, including an indifference toward immigrant residents that discouraged reporting crimes and cooperation with law enforcement, failing to thoroughly investigate hate crimes, and enforcing immigration policies in a way that encouraged racial profiling. A reform agreement reached between the DOJ and Suffolk County in 2013 required the department to institute a range of reforms. Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions sent a disturbing message to these officers and they relished the news.

    The Long Island gang known as Mara Salvatrucha or MS 13 is known to have about 10,000 members and it’s one of the most dangerous and violent gangs in operation today. They are operational in over 40 cities around the United States. This is one of hundreds of dangerous street gangs operating in North and South America.

    Donald Trump seems to revel in violent and dissident environments.

    During the presidential primaries of 2016, he encouraged violence among his supporters against protesters at his rallies. He encouraged a crowd of supporters to “knock the hell” out of anyone who looked like they might throw anything at him, and promised to pay the legal fees for anyone who took him up on his suggestion. All succeeding rallies were accompanied by some sort of Trump inspired violence. When confronted with the possibility to make good on the promise to pay the legal fees of a man who admitted to punching a protester at a Trump rally in North Carolina, Trump said “No, I didn’t say that, I never said I was going to pay for fees.”

    In a recent attempt to discredit Obama, he asked a group of teenage boys attending their annual Boy Scout Jamboree, “Did Barack Obama ever attend a Boy Scout Jamboree?” He answered his own question with a no but Obama did attend the Jamboree in 2010 via video. He had no interest in other presidents who had or had not attended the Jamboree, he either researched the issue or had someone do it for him and he knew Obama had not attended in person. However he got his expected results when he popped the question, boos and cheers.

    Scouts learn the importance of being “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” How few of those adjectives apply to Donald Trump. A man who can’t control himself to act in a manner befitting the setting, is a man without the steadiness of character to run a nation. A grown man who is so insecure as to seek affirmation in a group of teenagers is not a man with the maturity to lead a nation. A man who is so self-absorbed as to make every utterance about himself and his needs is not a man with the vision to elevate a nation.

    Trump’s remarks has been repudiated by the Suffolk County Police. The Department said they will not tolerate such behavior from their officers. The SCPD has strict rules & procedures relating to the handling of prisoners. Violations of those rules are treated extremely seriously. As a department, we do not and will not tolerate roughing up of prisoners.

    The failure of “Repeal and Replace” Obamacare is a direct result of Trump’s obsession with discrediting Barack Obama.

    His 30 million supporters was not aware that the Affordable Care Act, which they loved and subscribed to, and Obamacare was one and the same. The pushback on “Trumpcare” came directly from them.

    When will the US congress wake up and rid themselves and the American people of this  narcissist, arrogant, manipulative, vindictive, delusional, overbearing, ill-informed, deceitful, inarticulate, and pessimistic aberration to America’s image and reputation?.

    By Walter Smith
    Publisher, Philadelphia Observer

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  • #NSBESpeaks: Our Response to Police Brutality, Racism and Violence in America

    By Matthew C. Nelson, National Chair, National Society of Black Engineers

    It is with a heavy heart that I offer my first official communication as the national chair of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). I find myself in a difficult situation when responding to recent instances of social injustice. A significant portion of the revenue used by NSBE to fund scholarships and programs for aspiring, young black minds comes from corporations seeking to increase their diversity through their relationships with our organization. I hope this letter does not estrange them. However, our mutual goal of a diverse engineering workforce is unattainable when black students are more worried for their lives than about their lectures, and when black employees lose productivity over concerns of prejudice.

    Over the past few days, the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling have peeled back the scab that covers the septic state of race relations in America. These incidents are especially concerning given the manner in which they occurred: Sterling shot while being pinned to the ground, Castile while reaching for his wallet at an officer’s command. Although both officers will face investigations to determine legal culpability, the visceral reaction evoked is one of shock, fear and fury. The most frightening notion is that our compliance with law enforcement officers may no longer be sufficient for survival. Recent events have caused individuals who have made significant contributions to the advancement of science, technology, engineering and math to question the relevance of their education in a society that undervalues their lives.

    However, the value of life is not exclusive to one race or one profession. The solution to addressing the concerns of our community certainly does not reside in the assassination of public safety officials. Incidents like the recent shootings of police in Dallas during a peaceful protest make a hazardous atmosphere even more toxic. Just as we are praying for the families of the black men slain, we pray for the families of the police officers who were struck down while in the line of duty.

    The issues plaguing the black community extend far beyond police brutality. Unemployment, lack of access to services, underfunded educational systems, the prison-industrial complex, black on black crime, etc.: all of those concerns need to be addressed. However, we must not avoid confronting the ugly truths around policing in America. We must hold our elected officials responsible for the conduct of the officers who work on their behalf. A sheriff is typically an elected official. A police chief or commissioner is usually appointed by a mayor or city council. Research your candidates for government offices, and continue to voice your concerns once they begin their terms.

    In addition, leverage your economic power to influence policy. Choose wisely when deciding where you will live and pay taxes. Make the choice to shop and dine in areas where black consumers are welcomed and appreciated, not labeled and harassed. Take note of the response from the LGBT community to North Carolina House Bill 2 and the effect of that response on that state’s economy. Circumstances will not change until the message is made clear: the unjustified use of force against blacks will be met with swift political and economic repercussions.

    Times like these challenge our belief in justice and our faith in humanity, yet we still must march on, carrying the burdens of oppression, discrimination and hatred in a country that often fails to acknowledge our contributions, our place in society and our rights as citizens. Although these events have obviously rocked us to our very core, emotionally and spiritually, this is not the time for us to lose sight of our mission. It is imperative that we continue to expose our people to opportunities and encourage each other to strive for excellence, while engaging in meaningful dialogue about how to navigate today’s world. Cultural responsibility must prevail. For additional resources to help you focus your frustrations on positive outcomes, read the post “STEM and Social Justice: Applying an Engineering Lens to Social Change,” located on NSBE’s website (www.nsbe.org) in the Blog section.

    If you take nothing else from this letter, please understand that as the leader of NSBE, I feel the sa

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  • President Obama gives six-point answer on Baltimore during press conference with Japan

    During joint press conference with Japan’s Prime Minister, President Barack Obama responded to journalist Chris Jansing’s questions on Baltimore with six points.

    Here’s the transcript:

    Chris Jansing. (NBC Senior White House Correspondent)

    Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  As you know, the National Guard is now on the streets of Baltimore — the latest aftermath in a series of what have been high-profile confrontations between black men and police officers.  And there seems to be growing frustration among African American leaders that not enough is being done quickly enough.  Marc Morial of the Urban League said, “The U.S. is in a state of emergency of tremendous proportions.”  The president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund says, “We are in the throes of a national crisis.” 

    Are we in the throes of a national crisis?  What are you prepared to do about it, both in terms of Baltimore and the larger picture?  And what do you say to critics who say that since the death of Trayvon Martin, you have not been aggressive enough in your response? 

    And to Prime Minister Abe, how important is a Pacific trade deal to keeping the influence of China in check, both economically and militarily?  And do you agree with President Obama when he says that failing to complete a deal will simply further China’s influence?  Thank you.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Before I answer the question about Baltimore, I’m going to horn in on your question to Prime Minister Abe.

    I’ve been very clear that TPP is good for American businesses and American workers, regardless of what China is doing.  And we will make the case on the merits as to why it will open up markets for American goods, American exports, and create American jobs.  So this is not simply a defensive agreement, this is something that is going to be part and parcel of our broader economic agenda moving forward.  And when 95 percent of the world’s markets are outside our shores, we’ve got to make sure that we’re out there competing.  And I’m confident we can compete.

    With respect to Baltimore, let me make a couple of points.  First, obviously our thoughts continue to be with the family of Freddie Gray.  Understandably, they want answers.  And DOJ has opened an investigation.  It is working with local law enforcement to find out exactly what happened, and I think there should be full transparency and accountability.

    Second, my thoughts are with the police officers who were injured in last night’s disturbances.  It underscores that that’s a tough job and we have to keep that in mind, and my hope is that they can heal and get back to work as soon as possible.

    Point number three, there’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday.  It is counterproductive.  When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting, they’re not making a statement — they’re stealing.  When they burn down a building, they’re committing arson.  And they’re destroying and undermining businesses and opportunities in their own communities that rob jobs and opportunity from people in that area.

    So it is entirely appropriate that the mayor of Baltimore, who I spoke to yesterday, and the governor, who I spoke to yesterday, work to stop that kind of senseless violence and destruction.  That is not a protest.  That is not a statement.  It’s people — a handful of people taking advantage of a situation for their own purposes, and they need to be treated as criminals.

    Point number four, the violence that happened yesterday distracted from the fact that you had seen multiple days of peaceful protests that were focused on entirely legitimate concerns of these communities in Baltimore, led by clergy and community leaders.  And they were constructive and they were thoughtful, and frankly, didn’t get that much attention.  And one burning building will be looped on television over and over and over again, and the thousands of demonstrators who did it the right way I think have been lost in the discussion. 

    The overwhelming majority of the community in Baltimore I think have handled this appropriately, expressing real concern and outrage over the possibility that our laws were not applied evenly in the case of Mr. Gray, and that accountability needs to exist.  And I think we have to give them credit.  My understanding is, is you’ve got some of the same organizers now going back into these communities to try to clean up in the aftermath of a handful of criminals and thugs who tore up the place.  What they were doing, what those community leaders and clergy and others were doing, that is a statement.  That’s the kind of organizing that needs to take place if we’re going to tackle this problem.  And they deserve credit for it, and we should be lifting them up.

    Point number five — and I’ve got six, because this is important.  Since Ferguson, and the task force that we put together, we have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals — primarily African American, often poor — in ways that have raised troubling questions.  And it comes up, it seems like, once a week now, or once every couple of weeks.  And so I think it’s pretty understandable why the leaders of civil rights organizations but, more importantly, moms and dads across the country, might start saying this is a crisis.  What I’d say is this has been a slow-rolling crisis.  This has been going on for a long time.  This is not new, and we shouldn’t pretend that it’s new.

    The good news is, is that perhaps there’s some newfound awareness because of social media and video cameras and so forth that there are problems and challenges when it comes to how policing and our laws are applied in certain communities, and we have to pay attention to it and respond. 

    What’s also good news is the task force that was made up of law enforcement and community activists that we brought together here in the White House have come up with very constructive concrete proposals that, if adopted by local communities and by states and by counties, by law enforcement generally, would make a difference.  It wouldn’t solve every problem, but would make a concrete difference in rebuilding trust and making sure that the overwhelming majority of effective, honest and fair law enforcement officers, that they’re able to do their job better because it will weed out or retrain or put a stop to those handful who may be not doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

    Now, the challenge for us as the federal government is, is that we don’t run these police forces.  I can’t federalize every police force in the country and force them to retrain.  But what I can do is to start working with them collaboratively so that they can begin this process of change themselves. 

    And coming out of the task force that we put together, we’re now working with local communities.  The Department of Justice has just announced a grant program for those jurisdictions that want to purchase body cameras.  We are going to be issuing grants for those jurisdictions that are prepared to start trying to implement some of the new training and data collection and other things that can make a difference.  And we’re going to keep on working with those local jurisdictions so that they can begin to make the changes that are necessary. 

    I think it’s going to be important for organizations like the Fraternal Order of Police and other police unions and organization to acknowledge that this is not good for police.  We have to own up to the fact that occasionally there are going to be problems here, just as there are in every other occupation.  There are some bad politicians who are corrupt.  There are folks in the business community or on Wall Street who don’t do the right thing.  Well, there’s some police who aren’t doing the right thing.  And rather than close ranks, what we’ve seen is a number of thoughtful police chiefs and commissioners and others recognize they got to get their arms around this thing and work together with the community to solve the problem.  And we’re committed to facilitating that process.

    So the heads of our COPS agency that helps with community policing, they’re already out in Baltimore.  Our Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division is already out in Baltimore.  But we’re going to be working systematically with every city and jurisdiction around the country to try to help them implement some solutions that we know work. 

    And I’ll make my final point — I’m sorry, Mr. Prime Minister, but this is a pretty important issue for us. 

    We can’t just leave this to the police.  I think there are police departments that have to do some soul searching.  I think there are some communities that have to do some soul searching.  But I think we, as a country, have to do some soul searching.  This is not new.  It’s been going on for decades. 

    And without making any excuses for criminal activities that take place in these communities, what we also know is that if you have impoverished communities that have been stripped away of opportunity, where children are born into abject poverty; they’ve got parents — often because of substance-abuse problems or incarceration or lack of education themselves — can’t do right by their kids; if it’s more likely that those kids end up in jail or dead, than they go to college.  In communities where there are no fathers who can provide guidance to young men; communities where there’s no investment, and manufacturing has been stripped away; and drugs have flooded the community, and the drug industry ends up being the primary employer for a whole lot of folks — in those environments, if we think that we’re just going to send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there without as a nation and as a society saying what can we do to change those communities, to help lift up those communities and give those kids opportunity, then we’re not going to solve this problem.  And we’ll go through the same cycles of periodic conflicts between the police and communities and the occasional riots in the streets, and everybody will feign concern until it goes away, and then we go about our business as usual.

    If we are serious about solving this problem, then we’re going to not only have to help the police, we’re going to have to think about what can we do — the rest of us — to make sure that we’re providing early education to these kids; to make sure that we’re reforming our criminal justice system so it’s not just a pipeline from schools to prisons; so that we’re not rendering men in these communities unemployable because of a felony record for a nonviolent drug offense; that we’re making investments so that they can get the training they need to find jobs.  That’s hard.  That requires more than just the occasional news report or task force.  And there’s a bunch of my agenda that would make a difference right now in that.

    Now, I’m under no illusion that out of this Congress we’re going to get massive investments in urban communities, and so we’ll try to find areas where we can make a difference around school reform and around job training, and around some investments in infrastructure in these communities trying to attract new businesses in.

    But if we really want to solve the problem, if our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could.  It’s just it would require everybody saying this is important, this is significant — and that we don’t just pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns, and we don’t just pay attention when a young man gets shot or has his spine snapped.  We’re paying attention all the time because we consider those kids our kids, and we think they’re important.  And they shouldn’t be living in poverty and violence. 

    That’s how I feel.  I think there are a lot of good-meaning people around the country that feel that way.  But that kind of political mobilization I think we haven’t seen in quite some time.  And what I’ve tried to do is to promote those ideas that would make a difference.  But I think we all understand that the politics of that are tough because it’s easy to ignore those problems or to treat them just as a law and order issue, as opposed to a broader social issue.

    That was a really long answer, but I felt pretty strongly about it.

    The press conference continued discussing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. Read it in it’s entirety at www.whitehouse.gov.

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