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    Congress moves George Floyd Justice in Policing Act measure forward

    The House Judiciary Committee has introduced the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, the first-ever bold, comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, end racial profiling, change the law enforcement culture, empower communities, and build trust between law enforcement and minority communities by addressing systemic racism and bias.

    In a conference call with the Black Press of America just before voting on the measure, members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC)said the bill should help save lives.

    “This is a real historic day here in the capital as last week we introduced the Justice in Policing Act, and today we amend the bill,” CBC Chair Karen Bass (D-Calif.) said during the conference call.

    “We call it the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, and I call it historic because this is the first time in many years that Congress has taken up a bill dealing with policing and I’m sure it is the first time that Congress has introduced such a bold transformative piece of legislation,” Bass said.

    The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would establish a national standard for the operation of police departments and mandate data collection on police encounters.

    If it becomes law, the bill would reprogram existing funds to invest in transformative community-based policing programs and streamline federal law to prosecute excessive force and establish independent prosecutors for police investigations.

    It would also eliminate no-knock warrants and ban chokeholds.

    “The idea that a chokehold is legal in one city and not the other, the idea that no-knock warrants are okay in one jurisdiction and not in another is very important. That must end,” Bass said.

    A bill crafted by Republican South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, and an executive order issued by President Donald Trump, ask only for studies to be done on matters like no-knock warrants and chokehold bans, and have little bite, Bass and her CBC colleagues noted.

    “In essence, their bills take the teeth out of this bill. This is not the time for superficial action,” Bass warned. “This is the time for us to demonstrate our ability to address the people who are peacefully in the street every day with comprehensive legislation.”

    The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020:

    • Prohibits federal, state, and local law enforcement from racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling.
    • Mandates training on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling for all law enforcement.
    • Requires law enforcement to collect data on all investigatory activities. saves lives by banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants.
    • Bans chokeholds and carotid holds at the federal level and conditions law enforcement funding for state and local governments banning chokeholds.
    • Bans no-knock warrants in drug cases at the federal level and conditions law enforcement funding for state and local governments banning no-knock warrants at the local and state level.
    • Requires that deadly force be used only as a last resort and requires officers to employ de-escalation techniques first.
    • Changes the standard to evaluate whether law enforcement use of force was justified from whether the force was “reasonable” to whether the force was “necessary.”
    • Condition grants on state and local law enforcement agencies’ establishing the same use of force standard.
    • Limits military equipment on American streets, requires body cameras.
    • Limits the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement.
    • Requires federal uniformed police officers to wear body cameras and requires state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras.
    • Requires marked federal police vehicles to have dashboard cameras.
    • Hold police accountable in court.
    • Makes it easier to prosecute offending officers by amending the federal criminal statute to prosecute police misconduct. The requirement in 18 U.S.C. Section 242 will be amended from “willfulness” to a “recklessness” standard.
    • Enables individuals to recover damages in civil court when law enforcement officers violate their constitutional rights by eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement.
    • Investigate police misconduct.
    • Improves the use of pattern and practice investigations at the federal level by granting the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division subpoena power and creates a grant program for state attorneys general to develop authority to conduct independent investigations into problematic police departments.
    • Empower our communities to re-imagine public safety in an equitable and just way.
    • This bill reinvests in our communities by supporting critical community-based programs to change the culture of law enforcement and empower our communities to re-imagine public safety in an equitable and just way.
    • It establishes public safety innovation grants for community-based organizations to create local commissions and task forces to help communities to re-imagine and develop concrete, just, and equitable public safety approaches. These local commissions would operate similar to President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
    • Change the culture of law enforcement with training to build integrity and trust.
    • Requires the creation of law enforcement accreditation standard recommendations based on President Obama’s Taskforce on 21st Century policing.
    • Creates law enforcement development and training programs to develop best practices.
    • Studies the impact of laws or rules that allow a law enforcement officer to delay answers to questions posed by investigators of law enforcement misconduct.
    • Enhances funding for pattern and practice discrimination investigations and programs managed by the DOJ Community Relations Service.
    • Requires the Attorney General to collect data on investigatory actions and detentions by federal law enforcement agencies; the racial distribution of drug charges; the use of deadly force by and against law enforcement officers; as well as traffic and pedestrian stops and detentions.
    • Establishes a DOJ task force to coordinate the investigation, prosecution and enforcement efforts of federal, state, and local governments in cases related to law enforcement misconduct.
    • Improve transparency by collecting data on police misconduct and use-of-force.
    • Creates a nationwide police misconduct registry to prevent problematic officers who are fired or leave one agency, from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability.
    • Mandates state and local law enforcement agencies to report use-of-force data, disaggregated by race, sex, disability, religion, age.
    • Makes lynching a federal crime.
    • Makes it a federal crime to conspire to violate existing federal hate crimes laws.

    By Stacy M. Brown
    Contributing Writer

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    Black News Channel launches in America, teams with newspapers nationwide

    In a joint teleconference broadcast live from the Four Season’s Hotel in New York’s Financial District, the Black News Channel (BNC) and the National Newspaper Publishers Association announced the official launch date and time for the nation’s first 24-hour, 7-days a week all-news TV channel that will focus on African-American news.

    The new channel promises to inform, educate, and empower nearly 50 million African Americans now living in the United States.

    The potential for the network appears almost limitless.

    BNC will immediately have the potential to reach 33 million households daily in all the major media markets across the nation.

    Combined with the millions of readers who consume information from NNPA’s Black-owned newspapers and media companies each week, the BNC could quickly become the top destination for all who want to consume African American news on TV and on mobile devices.

    BNC, which officially launches at 6 a.m. on Friday, November 15, 2019 has agreements with Charter Communications, Comcast, and DISH TV. The network already has commitments for carriage in major African American hubs like Atlanta, New York City, Chicago, New Orleans, Houston, Philadelphia, Detroit, Washington, DC, Baltimore and Los Angeles.

    Tallahassee, Florida, houses BNC’s headquarters, and the network will have news bureaus around the country, including Washington, D.C. and New York City.

    Former Republican U.S. Congressman J.C. Watts is chairman of BNC, which is backed financially by business mogul and Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan.

    “This platform will create a venue for the African American community to have a dialogue to talk about news, education and cultural things,” stated Watts, who added that the network has been in the planning stage for many years.

    “I had an afro when I started this,” Watts referenced.

    “It’s especially important to have the Black Press of America join us in this venture. I bet most people don’t realize that there are 223 African American-owned newspapers in the NNPA, and that’s content for us,” Watts stated.

    “We suffered a big blow with the loss of Ebony and Jet, publications I grew up reading. But I still read the Black Press in Oklahoma City, growing up.”

    NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., who participated in the teleconference, said the NNPA’s partnership with the BNC is a profound win-win for Black America.

    “This year marks the 192nd year of the Black Press of America. Black Americans striving for excellence in all fields of endeavor give life to our culture that attracts and impacts all people. We set trends for ourselves and others,” Chavis stated.

    “We’re not a cursed people, and we are a blessed people. We continue to strive for excellence, and to have Shad Khan announced as a primary investor for the launch and sustainable development of the BNC is of major significance,” Chavis said.

    Kahn told NNPA Newswire that the decision to back BNC was easy once he looked at the mission and the business model.

    “I am a big believer in the fact that we have a number of communities, obviously especially the African-American community, who are underserved,” said Kahn, a magnate in the auto equipment industry.

    In addition to the Jaguars, he owns the Fulham Football Club of the English Football League, All Elite Wrestling, and the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto.

    “I hope that as time goes on, this becomes a bridge to connect all the cultures, including obviously south Asian. But I do believe there is an undeniable calling for everything the Black News Channel will deliver to African American television audiences, who have historically been underserved in an era where networks have otherwise successfully targeted news to specific demographic groups and interests. My decision to invest is an easy one because we get to answer that calling,” Kahn explained.

    Both Watts and Kahn promised that BNC will give a voice to the varied experiences of African Americans and will not just tell a segment of the story but will tell the entire story.

    “We will inform, educate, inspire, and empower the African American community,” Watts added.

    BNC will have three primary anchor teams who will host the network’s evening newscast, morning newscast, and mid-day D.C. Today Live broadcast. In addition to primary anchor teams, BNC also will have high-profile expert contributors who will add commentary and information to each newscast.

    The network will work with historically black colleges and universities to ensure that all African Americans have a voice.

    A BNC correspondent will examine life on the HBCU campuses and explain why the experiences students have at these institutions of learning are so meaningful in the cultural development of many students’ lives. The weekly one-hour program will focus on what is happening at HBCUs that is good, positive, and uplifting.

    Additionally, one of the many topics will include Sickle Cell Diseases, the blood disorder that disproportionately affects African Americans.

    Veteran TV anchor Kelly Wright, who will host a 6 p.m. show on BNC, said his inaugural program would include a segment on the NNPA’s missing black girls national series.

    That series spotlights the more than 424,000 African American women and girls who have gone missing in the United States over the past half-decade.

    “We’re not looking to be Republican or Democrat. There will be current affairs, but we are culturally specific to the African American community. MSNBC, Fox News, CNN may have African American faces on their news shows, but they are not necessarily covering the community from a cultural perspective,” Watts said. “We’re not looking to be left or right. We will be authentic and true to enriched and diverse African American experience.”

    By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
    @StacyBrownMedia

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    Grambling State approved to offer cybersecurity degree

    NNPA Newswire–Grambling State University has been approved to offer the state’s first Bachelor of Science degree in cybersecurity. The University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors provided their approval and support for the university’s program, according to a news release. The next step in the process is approval from the Louisiana Board of Regents.

    Students will be eligible to begin enrolling in the program in fall 2019.

    “With the vision of your team and the support of this Board, we are confident Grambling is prepared to educate cybersecurity professionals the market is demanding,” said Board Chair Al Perkins. “These graduates will be equipped with highly sought-after skills to protect us as technology becomes more prevalent in our daily lives.”

    Grambling State faculty member, researcher and a member of the Louisiana Cybersecurity Commission Yenumula B. Reddy, Ph.D., has been spearheading the new program’s development.

    “We are excited about the work of Dr. Reddy and his team,” said Grambling State President Rick Gallot. “Their continuous innovation in research and the classroom are paving the way for this program. We are excited for the impact their leadership and our system-level support will have on our state and economy.”

    The news comes on the heels of an October report issued by the University of Louisiana System that said Grambling State University has doubled its fiscal health score since FY 2016, increasing from a 1.30 to a 2.60 as of the most recent report.

    The fiscal health score, developed by the Louisiana Board of Regents, measures overall organizational health, factoring in important components including debt, revenue, and ability to operate.

    “It’s been a team-wide effort,” Gallot said. “As a part of our commitment to innovation, we’ve engaged new talent and alumni from across the U.S. who not only understand our charge but offer us expert perspectives and thought leadership.”

    Leading the University’s fiscal health initiatives team is Martin Lemelle Jr. the University’s Chief Operating Officer and Interim Vice-President of Finance. The initiative also includes team members who offer experience from higher education, Silicon Valley, and public accountancy.

    “We’re an example of what’s possible when we partner,” said Lemelle. “The key to our successes has been a university-wide combination of collaboration and commitment. We’ve seen innovative ideas from every area, from our controller’s office to our academic units.”

    The outputs of these collaborative teams are having a direct impact on the institution’s bottom-line. Some of those outputs include:

    $1.2 million in annual savings through participating in the Department of Education’s Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Program;

    Overall expense reduction of more than $6 million;

    A 320 percent annual increase in grants from federal and state government initiatives; and

    Realizing new revenue opportunities that include an increase in third-party commissions and its “Look for the Label” program which focuses on increasing licensing royalties.

    “Grambling State University is experiencing a renaissance. Its vastly improved fiscal health is yet another indication of the effective leadership and hard work occurring at all levels of the institution,” University of Louisiana System President Jim Henderson said. “From its enrollment numbers to its operations, it’s exciting to see the rapid and significant advancement of this historic institution.”

    By Stacy M. Brown
    NNPA Newswire Correspondent

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    Historians rank President Obama’s legacy highly

    Supporters and critics alike may eventually come to view President Barack Obama’s two-term White House tenure the same way.

    His determination for change never appeared to cause him to stumble on his goals, be it Obamacare or commuting the sentences of so many who were imprisoned for so long — primarily because of antiquated laws that punished mostly low-level minority drug offenders.

    Even as Obama is set to leave office, he took unprecedented steps to retaliate against alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    Obama labeled Russia’s action as significant, malicious and cyber-enabled and sanctioned six Russian individuals and five Russian entities while ordering dozens of Russian diplomats to leave the country.

    The president also gave them and their families just three days to pack up and leave.

    “These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior,” Obama said in the statement released by the White House.

    It’s the kind of action that some said will make them miss the progress of the past eight years and critics will come to realize that Obama’s place in history will be a lofty one.

    “The biggest tragedy of the Obama presidency was the relentless and often irrational unwillingness of Republican lawmakers to work with him to achieve meaningful objectives,” said Mario Almonte, a public relations specialist who also blogs about politics and social issues. “Even so, many years from now, when the history of his presidency comes into better focus, our society will come to recognize the enormous impact Barack Obama had on American culture and possibly world culture as the first Black president of the United States.”

    And, as Kevin Drum a writer for Mother Jones wrote, Obama has moved forward on eight substantial executive actions over the past month – aside from the Russian sanctions – including enacting a permanent ban on offshore oil and gas drilling in areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic Seaboard; he’s refused to veto a UN resolution condemning Israel’s settlements in the West Bank; designated two new national monuments totaling more than 1.6 million acres – Bears Ears Buttes in southeastern Utah and Gold Butte in Nevada; and he’s instructed the Department of Homeland Security to formally end the long-discussed NSEERs database.

    Obama has also instructed the Army Corps of Engineers to deny final permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline where it crosses the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and he’s issued a final rule that bans the practice among some red states of withholding federal family-planning funds from Planned Parenthood and other health clinics that provide abortions.

    Also, the outgoing president completed rules to determine whether schools were succeeding or failing under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

    “He was most effective as a normal president, and he helped put the presidency back on a human scale,” said Stephen Walt, a professor of international affairs at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. “He was a devoted and involved father, a loving husband, a man with acknowledged – albeit – vices, and someone who made it clear that he did not regard himself as omniscient.”

    “As president, he showed that effective governing requires careful deliberation, discipline, and the willingness to make hard and imperfect decisions, and he let us all watch him do just that.” Walt said future historians will give President Obama “full marks” for never acting impulsively or cavalier.

    Daniel Rodgers, the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History, emeritus and historian of American ideas and culture who taught at Princeton University, wrote that what buoyed Obama’s aspirations was not a program, but a dream that in his person, the people might come together and shape politics to their will and common aspirations.

    “That was what the ‘we’ in the brilliant ‘Yes We Can’ slogan in the 2008 campaign was essentially about,” Rodgers said. “He has not called the nation to new feats of courage — ala Kennedy — to make war on poverty — as Johnson did — even to dream more freely than ever before — as stated by Reagan. What Obama’s words have called for is for Americans to be the people they already are.”

    The single, biggest impact on Obama’s presidency has been the shattering of psychological obstacles in the American psyche toward electing a non-White president, Almonte said.

    “When Hillary Clinton first ran for president, her gender was a major issue among voters. The second time around, it was not,” Almonte said. “With this psychological barrier removed, in future elections, we will see candidates from all walks of life, genders, nationalities, and possibly even lifestyles pursue the presidency with greater ease than they could have before.”

    Even as Donald Trump and other Republicans promise to do all they can to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known as Obama’s signature piece of legislation, historians wrote in New York magazine that it has been the president’s greatest accomplishment.

    They noted that presidents from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton failed to accomplish a passable affordable health care law.

    “Obamacare is easily the signal accomplishment of this president, assuming current efforts to unravel it will be defeated,” said Thomas Holt, the James Westfall Thompson Professor of American and African-American History at the University of Chicago.

    “It’s an achievement that will put Obama in the ranks of [President Franklin Delano Roosevelt] with social security and Lyndon B. Johnson with Medicare because of its enduring impact on the average American’s well-being,” Holt said. “He won’t need bridges and airports named after him since opponents already did him the favor of naming it ‘Obamacare.’”

    The Affordable Care Act’s progressivism stands out as the embodiment of Obama’s best intentions, said Nell Painter, an American historian notable for her works on southern history of the nineteenth century and a retired professor at Princeton University.

    “Some three million poor people have gained access to health care, thanks to the extension of Medicaid. But those people will not be in deep-southern states where poor people are numerous, but Republicans rule,” Painter said. “I see this convergence as a consequence of watermelon politics, as unsavory a legacy of Obama’s time as Obamacare is fine.”

    Finally, one historic trend-break that occurred during Obama’s presidency that has major significance for the well-being of African-Americans has been the beginnings of a decline in the national prison population, after decades of expansion, said Gavin Wright, professor of American Economic History at Stanford University.

    “The Obama Administration deserves a fair share of credit,” Wright said. “In 2010, Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, reducing prison time for convictions involving crack cocaine.”

    Wright said, “Under Attorney General Eric Holder, sentencing guidelines were made retroactive, leading to the release of thousands. To date, the reductions have been small compared to the total incarcerated population, but the reversal is historic, and its disproportionate significance for African-Americans is evident.”

     

    By Stacy M. Brown
    NNPA News Wire Contributor

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