April 30, 2009

Obama on First 100 Days: 'Pleased, but Not Satisfied'

On his 100th day in office, President Obama laid out how far we've come in the first 100 days, and how far we have yet to go.
"I am pleased with our progress, but I am not satisfied," he said.

What are your views of the first 100 days?

Global Day of Action for Troy Davis

Drumbeats from Sojourner's Place inform us that Troy Davis' latest and last appeal for a new trial was denied and his stay of execution will expire on May 15, 2009.

Amnesty International has just released plans for a Global Day of Action for Troy Davis. Amnesty International has designated May 19th for groups and individuals around the world to organize demonstrations, vigils, teach-ins or any other public event in an effort to show Georgia that the executing Troy Davis "would be an unacceptable travesty of justice." As such they are asking the assistance of all in agreement with to be both visible and as loud as possible.

In an effort to show Georgia that the whole world is watching, the Global Day of Action for Troy Davis will be marked by a rally on the Atlanta Capital Steps sponsored by Amnesty International and the NAACP. Other activities being organized throughout the globe include information tables, candlelight vigils, letter-writing campaigns, panel discussions, and public demonstrations. Suggested themes of this global initiative include: "Shout from the Rooftops" - emphasize your outrage at the injustice in this case; you could even hold a demonstration on a rooftop; and "We Are Troy Davis" – emphasize your solidarity with Troy.

I am inviting all villagers to participate in this Global Blogging Day of Action for Troy Davis by writing a post on May 19th. In doing so, include the graphic seen at the beginning of this post as a show of solidarity. This is an official event for the entire blogosphere registered at Amnesty International by Sojourner. I hope you will decide to participate by leaving a comment on this blog. You can also sign-up on Facebook.

It is also important for each of us to take other actions such as:
  1. Urge Georgia Governor Perdue to exercise leadership on behalf of Troy Davis
  2. Visit GFADP to see what activists are doing in Georgia.
  3. Clergy and Religious Leaders can add their name to sign-on letter created by Amnesty International.
  4. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. It's quick and easy using the ACLU's website.
  5. Text "TROY" to 90999 to help spread the word with your cell phone.

Please do not contact the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles directly right now, as doing so could be detrimental to Troy's case. Instead, you are encouraged to contact Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue.

Other Available Resources:
Mark your calendar. I hope to see high villager turnout on May 19th. Will you join us?

Twitter in Plain English

My mom and my brother's godfather are both new to Twitter. They both are trying to figure out what all of the fuss is about Twitter. I thought that they would both appreciate this video overview:

What ideas, advice or guidance would you give to a Twitter novice? What do you wish someone had told you about Twitter when you first joined?

April 29, 2009

Is This Commercial Post-Racial, Racist or Just Plain Bizarre?

I need villagers to take a minute or so to watch the following television commercial from Red House Furniture.

I need your feedback ... it this commercial racist? post-racial? or simply brilliant marketing on the part of a small town entrepreneur?

Wordless Wednesday: Kentucky Derby Calisthenics

April 28, 2009

'E' for Excellence Award

We are honored to receive the 'E' For Excellence award from Maryannville. Maryannville is a popular blog created by Mary Ann. Mary Ann traveled from border-to-border and coast-to-coast before settling in a town with zip code 'E-I-E-I-O'. I met Mary Ann during the Blogging-To-Fame contest two years ago. She is a powerhouse blogger. As such, it meant alot when she shared this award with us.

The rules state that after receiving the Excellent Blog Award, you must pass it on to 10 more excellent bloggers. Here are the ten bloggers that I would like to share this award with today:
Congratulations to each of 'em for doing what they do! I hope that all villagers will take a moment to visit these ten Excellent Bloggers.

Can Arlen Specter (D-PA) Join Bob Casey (D-PA) at Obama's Breakfast Club?

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) reminding himself to invite Sen. Arlen Specter to the next breakfast meeting with President Barack Obama.

April 27, 2009

Possible Homicide by Taser

I suppose that we should not be surprised that civilians are now using tasers to kill each other. Colorado Springs police say that two men were fighting when one pulled out a taser and struck the other.

The next step is for a taser to be used at a schoolyard. When will we get serious about this safety issue?

I renew the call for all villagers to sign our online petition asking for congressional hearings on taser abuse.

April 25, 2009

President's Weekly Address: 'Calling for Fiscal Discipline'

This week the President reiterates a theme that has been a hallmark of his career, namely that "old habits and stale thinking" will simply not help us solve the new and immense problems our country faces. Listing off several specific changes he intends to bring, he describes his guiding principle:
"To help build a new foundation for the 21st century, we need to reform our government so that it is more efficient, more transparent, and more creative. That will demand new thinking and a new sense of responsibility for every dollar that is spent."

I gotta tell you ... I've never been more proud of my president than I am of Barack Obama. When you consider the level of difficulty his presidency had upon his inauguration ... don't you have to give him a grade of 'A' on the first 100 days?

April 24, 2009

Day of Blogging for Justice: End Taser Torture in America

Bloggers all over the world are continuing a tradition from last year by participating in the 2nd annual Day of Blogging for Justice against the rising pre-trial electrocutions by police officers against Black children, women and men.

Did you know that 16 Americans have died so far in 2009 ... another 72 North Americans died in 2008 ... all from being tasered with a minimum of 50,000 volts of electricity from the police. [SOURCE]

To put it bluntly ... this shyt needs to stop! It is unacceptable for us to turn a blind eye to this growing trend of taser torture in America.
"The issue is not whether or not the taser can be used in a high percentage of cases to reduce death or physical trauma to officers and civilians alike. The issue is whether or not it's OK to kill the rest through ignorance and rationalization just because it's a small percentage ... The successes aren't the problem - the failures are. They're being told that tasers are non-lethal, so they blast away until people can't move. They're killing people by accident."
In Miami, FL the police used a taser gun on a 6-year old boy at his school. In Cincinnati, OH the law says that a youngster can be shot with 50,000 volts of electricity from a taser gun. Efforts to raise the minimum age for this police action failed.

I've shared other examples on my blog in the past:
  1. Valreca Redden (Trotwood OH) - pregnant Black woman tased by Officer Michael Wilmer when she went to police department for help.

  2. Eugene Snelling (Austin TX) - tased by Officer Thomas O'Connor driving with his mother on Thanksgiving Day.

  3. Donnell Williams (Wichita KS) - deaf Blackman tased in his own home.

  4. Major Lemon (Madison WI) - Blackman tased while holiday shopping at the local mall.

  5. Xavier Jones (Coral Gables FL) - Tasers deployed by two police officers killed this Blackman.

  6. Darryl Turner (Charlotte NC) - unarmed 17-year old Black youth killed when Officer Jerry Dawson decided to fire at him with a taser gun.

  7. James Garland (Miami FL) - unarmed and naked 41-year old Blackman killed by police taser gun while disoriented in the street.

  8. Baron Pikes (Winnfield LA) - Police officer Scott Nugent indicted for murder because he tasered a handcuffed 21-year old Blackman to death.

  9. Terrance Kennedy (Dallas NC) - Police killed another Blackman in North Carolina with their taser guns.

  10. Marcus Moore (Freeport IL) - unarmed 40-year old Blackman killed by police with their taser guns.

  11. Robert Mitchell (Warren MI) - unarmed 16-year old Black youth killed police taser guns.

  12. Gary Decker (Tucson AZ) - unarmed 50-year old naked man killed by police taser guns while in his own hotel room.

  13. Michael Jacobs (Ft. Worth TX) - unarmed, mentally impaired 24-year old Blackman killed by police taser guns on his own front yard in front of his parents.
The successes aren't the problem - the failures are.

How many more Black folks need to be executed by the police before the Congressional Black Caucus does something about it? I encourage all villagers to immediately sign online petition demanding a congressional investigation into Taser Torture in America.

Today is a Day for Blogging Justice so that we can bring as much attention as possible to this issue. I am not asking for elimination of all tasers by the police. I simply want:
Frankly, it is time to end the unwarranted and unjustified deaths of Black children, women and men from pre-trial electrocutions using taser guns.

What say u?

Unique Building * Longaberger Basket Company (Newark, Ohio)

I must admit that I hadn't heard of this building until I saw this photo ... and I live in Ohio! This monument is the world's largest basket, and it's also the seven-story corporate headquarters of the Longaberger Basket Company.

The basket is a replica -- 160 times larger -- of Longaberger's Medium Market Basket. It's 192 ft. long by 126 ft. wide at the bottom, spreading to 208-ft. long by 142-ft. wide at the roofline. It is a magnificent sight -- especially at night.

Dave Longaberger, who founded the company, was the business visionary who not only tapped into the demand for hand-woven party baskets, but who dreamed up the idea of running his growing organization from the world's largest replica of one. His company moved into the Brobdingnagian picnic packer in Newark -- their new corporate headquarters -- on December 17, 1997.

April 23, 2009

Splash Award

The Electronic Village is going to share blogging awards more frequently in the coming weeks. Today, we share the 2009 Splash Award with some deserving blogs. This is an award given to alluring, amusing, bewitching, impressive and inspiring blogs.

The Rules:
  • Put the logo on your blog post.
  • Nominate up to 9 blogs which allure, amuse, bewitch, impress or inspire you.
  • Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
  • Let them know that they have been splashed by commenting on their blog.
  • Remember to link to the person from whom your received your Splash award.
My nine nominess for a Splash Award are:
  1. Field Negro - Field still provides the most amusing posts about current events every day.
  2. Sojourner's Place - SjP created one of the most alluring blogs in the afrosphere. I love the look, feel and content of her blog.
  3. A Political Season - Aaron (does Alaine every post?) provides the most impressive and well-researched political blog posts in the afrosphere. The only problem is that he sees things from the skewed perspective of the Republican Party.
  4. Black Women Blow the Trumpet - BWBTT is one of the most bewitching blogs in the afrosphere for Black men. The blog's purpose is to uplift Black women ... which means the posts are often hard on brothers. I can't wait until my daughters were old enough to read and appreciate it!
  5. Black Web 2.0 - Angela and Markus have put together a truly impressive team of bloggers to share tips, reviews and video interviews on everything related to the next generation of the Internet.
  6. Afro-Netizen - Chris was the first blog to add us to their blogroll when we first got started. I'm impressed that the brother was part of a multi-million dollar buy-out of his company (and blog) last month!
  7. daddyBstrong - MacDaddy inspires me this month with his series on Black poets that we should know.
  8. What About Our Daughters - Gina inspires with her actions. She created both the Michelle Obama Watch blog and the Blogging While Brown Conference.
  9. Regina's Family Seasons - Regina inspires me with her blog posts about hr family. She keeps it real and she serves as a strong matriarch for her peeps.
I hope that villagers will take a moment to visit my nominees for this Splash Award. I also hope that each of my nominees will take a moment to share this Splash Award with other deserving blogs.

April 22, 2009

NAACP to Erie Police: 'Slap on the Wrist is not Enough'

Villagers will note that we reported on the disgusting video of Erie police officer James Cousins last week. Our interest was piqued by his reference to taser abuse. However, the inhumane way in which he talks about the mother of a slain Black man in his town brought on the wrath of the NAACP.

NAACP president Ben Jealous shared the following update with us:

Dear Wayne,

I have an update on the Erie police scandal that I wrote to you about yesterday.

James Cousins II, the officer caught on the YouTube video making fun of a homicide victim and his grief-stricken mother, has been suspended for 10 days without pay. And he's been ordered to complete alcohol counseling.

It's a slap on the wrist. And it's not enough.

To add insult to injury, the Erie police department issued a badly written, typo-filled letter of apology to the victim's mother. And there has not yet been an apology from the mayor or police chief.

But, the good news is that the pressure that you, the NAACP, and thousands of other NAACP supporters put on the mayor of Erie, Pennsylvania is working. The officer's punishment for his inappropriate and shocking behavior has been increased. And we won't let up until the mayor orders an independent investigation into the practices and policies of the Erie police department -- a department with a history of racial bias and discrimination.

We've also requested that Attorney General Holder ask the Department of Justice to conduct a thorough investigation into the pattern and practices of the Erie Police Department.

I know that like me, you are committed to seeing justice done in this case. But more than this single case, together we must work towards highlighting the unfair and biased policing in our communities.

The NAACP is committed to ending racial profiling and curbing police brutality and other forms of unequal justice for African Americans and Latinos.

Thank you for standing with us,

Benjamin Todd Jealous
President and CEO
What say u?

Day of Blogging for Justice: Standing Up Against the Police Pre-Trial Electrocution

Villagers, have you noticed the continued taser murders of Black children, men and women by police officers around the nation?

The UN's Committee Against Torture has declared that taser use can constitute a form of torture, while USA: Amnesty International has an ongoing concern about the use of tasers. In the view of the AfroSpear, the issue of Black people being tortured with tasers rivals the current political discussions about the Bush torture memos and torture in the United States.

The AfroSpear is calling on all bloggers to join us in a Day of Blogging for Justice: Standing Up Against the Police Pre-Trial Electrocution on Friday, April 24, 2009.

The rules are simple:
  1. Share a post on your blog focused on your concerns about the tasering of Blacks folks.
  2. Send an email to AfricanAmericanPoliticalPundit@gmail.com so that we may document everyone's participation.

I hope that we can count on the blogging community to step up and support this blogging campaign. Here are some examples of what bloggers have been reporting on the police pre-trial electrocution:

I hope that bloggers will participate and I hope that blog readers will read, comment and support our Day of Blogging for Justice: Standing Up Against the Police Pre-Trial Electrocution on Friday, April 24, 2009.

Wordless Wednesday: Tell Me More About Earth Day...

April 21, 2009

Village Interview: Abdul Kargbo (T'ings 'n Times)

This is a continuation of our Village Interview series. Today, we are pleased to invite you for a seat under our baobob tree to read interview with Abdul Kargbo, an active blogger in the afrosphere. His blog is known as T'ings 'n Times. Bro. Kargbo is part Russian and part Sierra Leonean, part Muslim and part Jewish. He lives in the Washington DC area. He expresses his ecletic viewpoint with photos and radio commentary. However, I encourage you to visit his blog to best enjoy his humor and intelligent analysis of current events. I think you will enjoy this blogger interview!

Q1. What were you like when you were younger?

Depends on how you define younger. As a child I was cerebral, anxious, and a bibliophile. As an adolescent I was somewhat introverted, still anxious, uncomfortable in most social settings, and I read much less than I did as a child. In my 20s I went through a rebellious phase (I rebelled against systems and philosophies of authority, not against individual people and not in my behavior). I became more extroverted but still felt uncomfortable in social situations. I also drank a lot, which probably helped make me extroverted. Today I'm more comfortable in social situations, still enjoy the odd drink, and am reading again, though not as frequently or consistently as I'd like.
Q2. Name a famous historical figure, living or deceased, you would like to meet and tell us why.

I would like to have met an African who had been ripped away from their homeland and forced into bonded servitude anywhere in the New World. I would like to have heard first-hand about the consequences of enslavement on the mind, body, and spirit of the African. I would have liked to know how s/he coped with the daily abuse and humiliation, how they felt about the people who controlled every aspect of their lives, and the hope, dreams, and aspirations they had had for themselves and their descendants before they were enslaved and what became of those plans after they found themselves in bondage.
Q3. Name a person in your community who is relatively unknown to the rest of the world, who you believe is significant in some way, and that you would like the rest of the world to know more about.

There's a guy who's been running an English-language school in my neighborhood for about 20 or so years now. Who knows how many immigrants have passed through this school, and how can you measure the impact this school has had on people's lives.

Q4. What are two items in your 'bucket list' ... things you want to do or accomplish before you kick the bucket?

Visit or live in India. Write a memoir.
Q5. Describe your first experience on the Internet?

I remember using computers before there was Windows. Windows were introduced at my college in my freshman year. One day we went from the black screen with the orange text and the cursor that was a blinking underscore. The next day, we had windows, with icons, spinning hourglasses, and arrow-shaped pointers. I used the internet a lot for usenet groups, which had all sorts of information.
Q6. Tell us about your current blogging career and how you got into it.

A friend of mine suggested I create a blog, because I was always ranting and raving about politics, social commentary, etc., basically stuff that bothered the hell out of me. I would also forward newspaper articles with my two cents attached, or respond to articles other people sent out with a running commentary. The blog was great for me: I was a natural. I wrote about everything: politics, race, social criticism, responses to current events, whatever. It was cathartic too, to get all that stuff out of my head.
Q7. Who are the two bloggers you read the most and why? Include their links and tell us why we should subscribe to their feeds.

Despite being a blog writer, I'm not a dedicated blog reader. I guess I'm just not big on commitment. I read news and opinion articles online and the odd blog, but I'm not a dedicated reader of any one site. One of my favorite sites, however, is Unique Muslimah, written by a young Muslim woman. She's a great writer, very insightful, spiritual, and soulful. Her posts are intimate yet pure. As a modern, Westernized male, I find her perspective enlightening and her writing uplifting. Another favorite blog is Racialicious, a blog collective run by an Asian woman. Racialilcious, as the name implies, examines at contemporary race relations, including the way race and racialized images are portrayed in the dominant culture.
Q8. Where are you taking your blog over the next 2-3 years?

I'm in a bit of flux right now as I'm finding my interests going in different directions. I'm torn between keeping my blog general or "specializing" in something like race/racism or religion. But my interests are too broad and I do enjoy voicing my thoughts on a variety of topics. In the end, I'll probably stay general. Most importantly, I'll be happy simply to continue writing. I'm afraid that I'm burning out...
Q9. What is your 'killer post' over the past year ... the post you are most proud of?

Man, this is like asking a parent which of his kids he loves the most. As I said already, I've written on a lot of topics so some posts are great in the context of what they cover, but other posts might be better because of how they're written. I have to confess that I often return to reread some of my older posts. I also have to confess that I think I've gotten better as a writer so I like most my more recent posts more than some of my previous ones. So I'm going to have to pass on that one ... I'm proud of all my posts.
Q10. What is your 'biggest noise post' over the past year ... the one that you took the most heat over from your readers?

Every post I've ever written on race/racism and hate crimes draws a lot of heat, mostly from overt racists and other ignorant people. I wrote a series of posts in response to Dr. Watson's thinly veiled reference to Black/African people's intelligence deficiency, and that brought a LOT of bigots out of the woodworks. The same thing happened in response to a series of posts I wrote in response to the beating death of Luis Ramirez, a Mexican migrant in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. But by far the most controversial post that had NOTHING to do with race or hate crimes was one I wrote about foodies.

For some reason, this one really rubbed people the wrong way. I basically argued that people who can afford to treat food and eating as a hobby—i.e., foodies—are over-privileged and out of touch with the reality that most of the world's population does not have the luxury of choosing when, let alone what, they will eat. It seemed people were upset that I would refer to foodies—who self-identify as such—as an affluent clique. After all, most of my detractors argued, foodies are simply people who enjoy food. All types of food. To which I say, everyone enjoys food. Some people just don't have the luxury to make a hobby out of it.

The lesson I learned is that affluent, over-privileged people don't like to be accused of being affluent, over-privileged, and out of touch.

I hope that this interview points more keyboards towards Abdul Kargbo, a remarkable blogging talent! Don't let this brother burn out...

Vanessa Minnillo and Detroit Lions Could Use iD by Landau

The Detroit Lions have a new uniform logo and design at the same time that many young ladies are turning away from Miss. California in favor of Vanessa Minnillo as their role model.

Methinks that all of these folks could use the talents of iD by Landau to build the right look for their corporate identity. iD by Landau is renowned for creating functional, trendsetting styles that Generation Facebook wants to wear, in flattering hues for all skin tones.

Vanessa Minnillo fans will be happy to know that the feminine fit garments, created by iD by Landau, keep female employees looking and feeling their best. More importantly, I'm convinced that she is rockin' these cool chef jackets when she is in her own kitchen.

My hope is that the Detroit Lions will get a cool chef shirt for the folks in their concession stands. Why should the good stuff only be on the playing field?

If we can grow our blog a little more perhaps we will create a coordinated image with some tasteful rhino logos that make us look. Are you ready to see villagers sporting these chef coats from iD by Landau?

--==[ Sponsored Post ]==--

April 20, 2009

NAACP Call for Action: End Racial Profiling Act and the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act

I am pleased to see that the NAACP is weighing in on the YouTube video of an off-duty Erie police officer that we shared with you last week.

NAACP President Benjamin Jealous wants the Department of Justice to launch an investigation into the Erie Bureau of Police's handling of the incident. The call for a federal probe is the latest fallout from the YouTube video of off-duty Erie police Patrolman James Cousins II joking in a bar about a Black man who was the victim of a recent Erie homicide and about the victim's mother and her reaction at the crime scene. [SOURCE]

"We have grave concerns about the chief because he has not treated this officer in the way one would expect," said Jealous, "We would expect that he (the officer) would be suspended without pay. We would suspect that they (police) would call on somebody from the outside to investigate. That's why we've gone to the DOJ."
During the interview, Jealous decried Cousins' behavior and called for his resignation.

Andre Horton, the president of the local NAACP chapter, said he plans to hold a news conference Tuesday to discuss the video and the police investigation into it. He also said he expects national representatives from the NAACP to join him in Erie later this week.

"That video is just despicable," Horton said. "And the thing is, is he just caught this time? Had he not been caught on video we'd just be going on as if we had no problems. When we all know we do."
Villagers, I picked up on this video because the Erie cop in the video talks about his use of taser guns in the past. I'm convinced that police officers are not following the use of force continuum. Officer Cousins appears to be totally untrained and insensitive to his responsibility when it comes to using a taser or to being a compassionate human being.

NAACP President Ben Jealous issued the following call to action:

Working with the NAACP, you can help change this situation:

First, e-mail Erie Mayor Joe Sinnott and ask him to order an immediate independent investigation into the practices and policies of the Erie police department and to establish an independent civilian review board to investigate citizen complaints.

Second, ask your member of Congress to co-sponsor legislation to provide long-needed regulation of harsh and careless police actions throughout the United States, the End Racial Profiling Act and the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act. These bills are designed to curb outrages like the New Year's Day shooting of unarmed Oscar Grant by transit police in Oakland; the police shooting of Robert Tolan on his front lawn in Bellaire, Texas; and the questionable death of high school football player Billie Joe Johnson, killed in what was described as a "routine traffic stop" in Lucedale, Mississippi. NAACP branches are grappling with each of these cases.

The Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act also includes provisions to assist local law enforcement agencies in doing more effective screening of candidates for law enforcement jobs before they are given the power to use deadly force and then during in-service reviews. It also supports the creation of local police accountability and review boards with subpoena power, independent investigatory power, and staffing and other resources needed to provide local community oversight of their law enforcement officers.

While most police officers are courageous public servants, continued police abuses are harming our communities and eroding the trust needed to both prevent and solve crimes. Take action now and help us do something about it.

A lot to chew on villagers. What say u?

Unanswered Questions in Taser Killing of Michael Jacobs by Forth Worth Police Department

The questions continue to be asked ... but remain unanswered. Did this Blackman, Michael Jacobs, have to die?

24 year old Michael Jacobs died Saturday, shortly after Fort Worth police shot him with a taser stun gun. Family Spokesperson Kyev Tatum says, "He did not need to die that way. He really didn't."

For that reason, family spokesperson Kyev Tatum says the family will be filing a federal civil rights complaint with the US Department of Justice for wrongful death. Tatum explains, "When the police department showed up at the house the first time, EMS Medstar showed up as well, the attitude of the police department was unwarranted because they sent EMS away."

Jacobs' parents called police to their home on Ava Court Drive about 10:30am yesterday to help control him because he'd gone off his medication. Tatum says the young man has been diagnosed with paranoid schzophrenia and bipolar disorder. Police say an officer tased Jacobs after he went from agitated and uncooperative to combative.

Kyev Tatum says Jacobs went unconscious and officers called EMS back, but did not do CPR on Jacobs in the meantime. He says, "For whatever reason noone tried to revive him. You send EMS away, you don't provide CPR and then from the time it takes EMS to get back to the scene, the young man expired. And that we believe is murder."
Villagers, what are your thoughts on this case? Do you think that this young man deserved to die?

April 19, 2009

Sunday Inspiration: Psalm 46:1

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Sometimes we get in over our heads with all the obligations and things we have commited to do. We try to cope with feeling overwhelmed in order to get everything done. If we share our load with the perfecting presence of God our burden becomes easier and the load will be lighter. He is our help in whatever trouble we find ourselves in.

Anyone know what I'm talking about?

Fort Worth Police Taser Michael Jacobs to Death in Front of His Parents

Another senseless death from taser-wielding police. This time Michael Jacobs, a 24-year old mentally impaired Blackman was killed when 50,000 volts of electricity entered his body from the taser gun of a Fort Worth police officer.

This death occurred earlier today. Michael's parents ... who called the police in the first place ... watched the light go out of their son's eyes as he died on their front lawn after being tased by the police. Do you think that these parents called the police to their house with the intent of watching their son being killed?

Charlotte Jacobs, Michael's mother, told relatives that her son was writhing on the ground and foaming at the mouth while he was being stunned, and she begged for the officers to stop. Would the police have tasered a white boy in front of his parents? I think not...

Family members said they believe that police officers used excessive force to subdue Jacobs, who had been diagnosed with mental illness. It seems that they don't teach the use of force continuum down in Texas. Why else would these officers kill Michael Jacobs on his own front lawn?

They have been to the house many times before and they know Charlotte," said Helena Wigfall, 37, a cousin of Michael Jacobs. "That’s why we don’t understand why today was so different."

Kyev Tatum, a Fort Worth pastor who spoke for the family on Saturday, said the parents are asking for an outside investigation as well as someone other than the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's office to perform an autopsy.

"The family believes it was a wrongful death," Tatum said. "The mother was making a cry for help, and it has turned into a tasing death. There have been no answers as to why police used a Taser instead of the manpower that was available to them."
Villagers, am I the only one troubled by the increased frequency of these taser-related executions?

I Went to the Summit of the Americas and All I Got Was This Lousy Pumpkin

April 18, 2009

President's Weekly Address: 'Efficiency and Innovation'

With the process of going through the budget line by line in full swing, the President uses his Weekly Address to give some examples, big and small, of how the Administration is working to cut costs and eliminate waste.

The President also announces two new key appointments, Jeffrey Zients as Chief Performance Officer and Aneesh Chopra as Chief Technology Officer, who will be invaluable in streamlining the way government functions through efficiency and innovation.

What do you think of this week's message?

2009 BDPA Conference: Early Bird Registration Extended to 4/30/2009

Police Taser 50-Year Old Naked Man to Death in Tucson

Villagers ... it looks like the police killed another person with their non-lethal taser.

The Tucson Police Department responded to a complaint about too much noise in a hotel room. They opened the door and found 50-year-old Gary Decker naked in the bathroom holding a seat that he had apparently torn from the toilet.

An officer tased Decker with 50,000 volts of electricity when Decker grabbed one of the officers. Officers were able to handcuff Decker and remove him from the bathroom. Decker died while in their custody.

Decker had been in town for roughly a week for a temporary job as a furniture liquidator. He lived in Kentucy.

Now he is dead. Does anyone truly think that police officers couldn't contain a 50-year old naked guy in a hotel bathroom without resorting to deadly force?

When do the police catch on that tasers shouldn't be used because they are too lazy to abide by the 'use of force continuum'?

Darris Dawson's Killer Claims Self-Defense

Villagers may recall the murder of Staff Sgt. Darris Dawson and his mate in Iraq last year. The Article 32 hearing for Sgt. Joseph Bozicevich, a 3rd Infantry Division soldier accused of shooting and killing his fellow platoon leaders on Sept. 14 came to an end this week with the defense arguing the killings were in self-defense.

If found guilty of premeditated murder, Bozicevich could be sentenced to life in prison or put to death.

Read more.

High Schooler Sues Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) Over Stimulus Stalemate

In South Carolina, high school senior Casey Edwards has "filed a lawsuit asking the S.C. Supreme Court to decide who -- Gov. Mark Sanford or the Legislature -- controls $700 million in disputed federal stimulus money." Edwards believes that state schools need the funds, and there are indications that the court will "act swiftly" on the case. [SOURCE]

"I've had a great experience in my Chapin schools," said Edwards, who said she sold Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwiches to raise money for a Dillon County school last year after seeing a documentary on the poor conditions at schools along the Interstate 95 corridor. "Every student should have that same quality of education."
Well done little sista!

April 17, 2009

Troy Davis Loses Death Penalty Appeal

Drumbeats from Sojourner informed us that Troy Davis' appeal was rejected by the federal appeals court in Atlanta yesterday. In the 2 to 1 opinion, the court ruled that Troy was unable to establish by clear and convincing evidence that a new jury would not find him guilty.

Troy was convicted of killing off-duty Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail. The 27-year-old former Army Ranger was shot three times before he could draw his weapon. Davis’ innocence claims have attracted international attention. They rely largely on the recantations of key prosecution witnesses who testified at trial and on statements by others who say another man told them he was the actual killer.

See local news video report

The lone dissenter, Judge Rosemary Barkett, wrote:

To execute Davis, in the face of a significant amount of proferred evidence that may establish his actual innocence, is unconscionable and unconstitutional.
Troy is left with a 30-day stay of execution so that he can appeal to the US Supreme Court. His chances are slim when you consider that the US Supreme Court declined to hear his appeal last October.

I watch a TNT television series called Saving Grace. One thing that it showed me was that even divine intervention cannot stop death penalty executions. Even so, I hope that Troy Davis has a last chance angel like Earl.

What say u?

16-Year Old Taser Victim Robert Mitchell Described as Storyteller and Jokester

The Electronic Village has been following the Robert Mitchell story since he was tasered to death last Friday. The Warren police want to find a way to justify the death of this 5'2", 110-pound teenager. However, the more we learn ... the more heinous his murder by police taser seems. The Detroit Free Press interviewed Robert's older sister and younger brother. [SOURCE]

The last time Reasha Ardis saw her little brother, he was begging her in typical teenage fashion to drive him to the store.

"Not now, Tazzy," she said because she was tired after work. "Next time I see you."

Robert Mitchell, nicknamed Tazzy by his family -- as in the Tasmanian Devil cartoon character because of his boundless energy -- died the next day after being zapped by a Warren police officer with an electronic stun gun.

"Now I'll never hear him ask to go to the store or to borrow a dollar, all that simple stuff," said Ardis, 25.

As the Macomb County Prosecutor's Office continued its investigation into the April 10 death, Mitchell's family readied for an 11 a.m. Saturday funeral at Second Ebenezer Church in Detroit.

They have called on Warren to at least suspend the two officers involved in the incident. But they're trying to focus on the good times they shared with 16-year-old Mitchell.

"He was the storyteller of the family," said Ramell Savage, 14, one of Mitchell's three brothers in a brood of seven.

Mostly, Mitchell was a normal teen, they said. He loved music, played football with his brothers and bummed rides from older relatives.

He was with two older relatives April 10 when police pulled over the car Mitchell was riding in to investigate an expired license plate, authorities said.

Mitchell, who had no criminal record and was a special education student, allegedly ran, leading officers into an abandoned house in Detroit.

Warren police have said that one of the officers shocked Mitchell once with a Taser when the teen resisted arrest. He quit breathing afterward. Attempts to revive him failed.

But Ardis said she doesn't want her brother to be remembered just for his final moments.

"He was the jokester," she said. "He could just come up with a joke out of the blue and get you laughing.

"I'll miss that."
Villagers, what are your thoughts as you learn more about this taser killing?

A Parent's Worst Nightmare: The Real Story Behind Carl Walker-Hoover's Suicide

Essence Magazine interviewed Carl Walker-Hoover's mother this week. Just a few days shy of Carl's twelfth birthday (April 17), his mother is speaking out. Astonishingly calm and with great resolve, Sirdeaner Walker spoke to ESSENCE.com about what she believes the school did wrong, Carl's final days and the question that will forever loom in her mind — why?

ESSENCE.COM: You've received a lot of support from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. Do you believe Carl was struggling with his sexuality?

WALKER: No, there was no indication of that. Carl was just 11 years old. I don't even think he reached puberty yet. His voice hadn't started to change. This is bigger than a gay issue. In fact, I'm worried about one of Carl's friends who is being picked on as well because she's overweight. That's why it's bigger than a gay issue. These kids will tease you over anything.

ESSENCE.COM: What happened on the day Carl died?

WALKER: Usually I drive Carl to the bus stop, but that morning I had an early conference call at work. When I got home that evening, he was sitting on the couch with his backpack. He has a big, rolling backpack that apparently knocked into a TV stand in his classroom that day. Carl told me that the TV [accidently] hit a student and she went off saying, "I'm going to kill you." And that's how it started. Carl came home very upset thinking he was going to be suspended. I started making supper and then he just went upstairs. I called his name and he didn't answer me. I went up to get him and that's when I found him.
Read the rest of the interview.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free number is 800.273-8255).

Thank Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) for Leadership on Criminal Justice Reform

I've shared with you the plans Senator James Webb (D-VA) has for prison reform in an earlier blog post. I'm pleased to tell you that Sen. Webb is a man of his word. He introduced a bill, National Criminal Justice Commission Act that could lead to badly needed prison reform.

I encourage all like-minded villagers to send the Senator a thank you note! I joined with ColorOfChange.org folks to send him the following thank you note:

Dear Senator Webb,

Thank you for your devotion to reforming America's broken criminal justice system and addressing the deep inequities that have come to define it. By introducing the National Criminal Justice Commission Act, you've helped spark an honest conversation about the serious problems plaguing the system, and created an opening for the kind of broad, sweeping reform that is so badly needed. I want to thank you for your courageous leadership on this issue. I pledge to stand with you in your continued work for a more just and effective approach towards stopping crime and keeping our communities safe.

Villager :)
We stood up last November and voted for change. Now it is time to be the change. What say u?

American Violet -- True and Traumatic Story of a Black Woman

Adrianne George is an award-winning blogger and one of my kinfolk in the AfroSpear. She reached out to me about a film that impacts all of us in the African American community. Here is what she shared with me:

Be on the look out for AMERICAN VIOLET--a dramatic and troubling new film produced by Samuel Goldwyn Films. It is an excellent film that opens in many cities on April 17th. This is not a comedy about a Black Woman going to jail--it is a REAL STORY about a REAL BLACK WOMAN--Regina Kelly (shown in photo)

If you are interested in hosting a screening in your City call Goldwyn Films and ask for Winnie or Liza @ (212) 367-9435.

Based on true events during the 2000 election, AMERICAN VIOLET tells the astonishing story of Dee Roberts (critically hailed newcomer Nicole Beharie), a 24 year-old African American single mother of four young girls living in a small Texas town public housing project, who is barely able to make ends meet. (Dee Roberts's story is a fictionalized version of Regina Kelly's true story)

While police drag Dee (Regina) from work in handcuffs, dumping her in the squalor of the women’s county prison, the powerful local district attorney (Academy Award® nominee Michael O’Keefe) leads an extensive drug bust, sweeping her housing project with military precision. After 17 hours in jail, Dee learns she has been charged as a drug dealer.

Even though Dee has no prior drug record and no drugs were found on her in the raid, she is offered a hellish choice: plead guilty and go home as a convicted felon or remain in prison, jeopardizing her custody and risking a long prison sentence. Her choice is even more difficult since the father of her girls is living with a woman who is a convicted child molester.

Everyone should see this film. It helps explains why millions of citizens from our community are in prison and why people who plea bargain and lose their rights are ending up on the streets.

Regina Kelly, mother of 4 girls who is the true woman behind this story, is a brave sister and deserving of our support. She survived years of harrassment from the District Attorney for having the audacity to sue him and win. She is a public speaker--please keep her in mind if you have conferences and need a speaker.


Well, villagers ... the next step is yours. Will you make effort to support this film in your community?

April 16, 2009

CNN's Anderson Cooper on the Carl Walker-Hoover Suicide

CNN’s Anderson Cooper covered the story on Carl Walker-Hoover and Eric Mohat, and the daily anti-gay bullying which drove these boys to kill themselves. Check it out. He did a nice job.

This story hits home for me. One villager gave the best possible advice for any of us that have young 'uns in school - 'Be on the scene and be seen!'

NAACP Investigates Excessive Use of Tasers by Police

I was glad to see that the NAACP Frederick County Branch is seeking information and testimony from people about alleged excessive use of Tasers by police. NAACP has been looking into the use of tasers after the death of Jarrel Gray in November 2007 by Frederick County Sheriff’s Office deputy Corp. Rudy Torres.

An internal investigation done by the Frederick City Police shows that deputies never checked Gray's pulse after he'd been shocked twice. His pulse wasn't checked until emergency medical personnel got on the scene four to five minutes later. The medics discovered Gray was in cardiac arrest and started doing CPR.

Gray, who is
hearing impaired, had been one of four people fighting in the parking lot of the Gresham Court East townhouse complex around 5 a.m. Nov. 18. Cpl. Rudy Torres had said he ordered all four people to show their hands, and when Gray did not comply, he used a Taser.

The internal investigation includes interviews with two men and a woman who were friends of Gray's and with deputies on the scene. One witness told investigators Gray, who had his hands in front of his pants, was very drunk on Grey Goose vodka and didn't want his grandmother to see him that way.

Witnesses on the scene had yelled to Torres that Gray was too drunk to comply with an order to show his hands. Gray, according to Torres, repeatedly told him he was not doing anything.

None of the witnesses said Gray moved, spoke or showed any sign of consciousness after the first shock. Yet, 23 seconds after the first shock, Torres tasered Gray a second time because Gray refused to show his hands.

Another deputy on the scene told investigators that after Gray was tasered, he was on the ground with his hands beneath him. He said it looked as though Gray was struggling to keep his hands beneath him. The deputy thought Gray "must have something very important he doesn't want us to see." When Gray was rolled over by deputies, the deputy said he thought Gray had "passed out."

Torres, who has been cleared of wrongdoing by a grand jury, said he didn't realize Gray was in medical distress until CPR was being done. Gray died three hours later.

The medical examiner said the cause of Gray's death was a combination of the method of restraint, in this case the Taser, alcohol intoxication, and Gray's anatomical unique makeup.
Gray's family filed a $145 million federal lawsuit against Frederick County.

I hope that all NAACP branches take on this investigation into taser deaths and the use of force continuum in their local area. It is beyond time that these extra-judicial-electrocutions stop.

I wonder if there is an NAACP branch in Australia?

Why Did Robert Mitchell Run? Because of Cops Like James Cousins

Warren Police officials keeps asking why 16-year old Robert Mitchell ran away from officers who stopped the car in which he was a passenger for a traffic ticket. The answer can be found by listening to the profanity-laced rantings of Erie police officer James Cousins.

Cousins is heard on a YouTube video joking about the death of Rondale Jennings, who was shot and killed in March outside the Bullpen Tavern.

Cousins also talks about using his taser on someone.

Cops like this put a chill down the spine of many in our community. Cousins was suspended with pay. The cops who tasered young Robert Mitchell to death returned to work with pay after a weekend vacation.

I read that the cops in Vermont want the 'shock and awe' of taser power. When is enough going to be enough with these tasers?

This Week in Blackness * Season 2 Premiere

We are happy to bring our villagers the season premiere of 'This Week in Blackness' Host Elon James White chops it up about the latest in Blackness and keeps the awesome flowing.

April 15, 2009

Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) May Go Civil War On America and Pull Texas Out of the Union

I must admit that I didn't pay much attention to the Tea Parties taking place around the country today. I figured it was primarily a bunch of noise from rich Republicans and the Fox Network. However, it seems that Texas governor Rick Perry was feeling very comfortable with the Texas Tea Party.

The folks at Texas Politics blog provided this audio-tape of Gov. Perry indicating that he wouldn't be against Texas pulling out of the Union. Listen to Gov. Perry for yourself:

Speaking with reporters after a tea party rally in Austin today, Gov. Rick Perry said Texas can leave the union if it wants to:
"Texas is a unique place. When we came into the union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that," Perry said. "My hope is that America and Washington in particular pays attention. We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, who knows what may come of that."
Perry also was asked whether the tea party anti-tax rallies are part of a growing national movement.
"I have never seen the power of the grassroots as antimated and as focused and as coordinated...It is a very powerful moment in American history.

"I would suggest that members of congress who are filing for election or re-election in eight months are listening."

"They're hearing everyday working folks saying, 'Listen, it's out of control. We're trying to live our lives and you're strangling us with your spending and your taxation
Is the anger and frustration of the Republican Party so strong against the Obama administration that they are actually talking about pulling out some Confederate Civil War strategy in the 21st century?

Carl Walker-Hoover's Mom Speaks on Suicide and the School Yard Bully

The Advocate shared an exclusive interview with Sirdeaner Walker, the mother of Carl Walker-Hoover, the 11-year-old student who killed himself last week following relentless bullying at school:

On April 6, Sirdeaner Walker came home, walked up the stairs to the second floor of her home, and saw her son suspended from a support beam in the stairwell, swaying slightly in the air, an extension cord wrapped around his neck, according to police. He apologized in a suicide note, told his mother that he loved her, and left his video games to his brother.

Walker said her son had been the victim of bullying since the beginning of the school year, and that she had been calling the school since September, complaining that her son was mercilessly teased. He played football, baseball, and was a boy scout, but a group of classmates called him gay and teased him about the way he dressed. They ridiculed him for going to church with his mother and for volunteering locally.

"It's not just a gay issue," Walker said. "It’s bigger. He was 11 years old, and he wasn't aware of his sexuality. These homophobic people attach derogatory terms to a child who’s 11 years old, who goes to church, school, and the library, and he becomes confused. He thinks, Maybe I'm like this. Maybe I'm not. What do I do?"
Days prior to Carl Walker-Hoover's suicide, he confronted a female bully who verbally accosted him... serving as a catalyst to his suicide. The school’s response was to have the two students sit beside one another during lunch for the next week to encourage conversation.

Carl's mom is demanding action from the school. Perhaps it is time for each of us to look at our own situation to ensure that there aren't any young 'uns experiencing this inner turmoil in our own neighborhoods.

What say u?

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts Calls for Independent Investigation Into Robert Mitchell Taser-Killing by His Police Officers

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Warren mayor Jim Fouts questioned whether police should continue using Tasers in his city, following the death last week of 16-year-old Robert Mitchell. [SOURCE]

Fouts called for an independent investigation to determine whether Tasers are safe.

You can’t overlook the tragic death of a human being,” Fouts said.

"I'm not a critic of the Taser nor am I a devotee," he said. "What I am interested in (are) the facts," Fouts said. "Anytime there is a tragic death you need to re-evaluate. We want to make sure we have a safe, crime-free city and balance that with no tragic, needless death."
I wish that Mayor Fouts went a step further and demanded the resignation of the two officers involved in Mitchell's death.

Mitchell, a sophomore at Kettering High School in Detroit who had a learning disability, was riding in a car driven by his cousin. The car was pulled over for an expired license plate. Mitchell was unarmed, 5'2" tall and weighed all of 110 pounds. There was simply no need for the Warren police offers to taser him to death.

"It was just senseless," said his grandmother Charlotte McGlory of St. Clair Shores. She described Mitchell as a quiet boy who stayed out of trouble. "That was a misuse of power," she said. "We want justice."
Can anyone provide an explanation for why this young teenager had to die?