June 30, 2010

Free the Scott Sisters: Two Life Sentences for $11 Robbery Just Ain't Right

Gray-Haired Witnesses Fast for Justice was held on June 21, 2010, calling attention to the growing numbers of incarcerated Black women and the gross over-sentencing in cases such as the Mississippi Scott Sisters, Jamie and Gladys. The Scott Sisters received double-life sentences each in an alleged armed robbery of $11.00 in which no one was harmed or injured, and for which they have steadfastly maintained their innocence. This outrageous case became all the more urgent when Jamie Scott, now in the 16th year of this draconian sentence, suffered kidney failure in January 2010 and has had several close calls with death as a result of poor medical treatment in the prison.

The rally began at the Department of Justice with a small but spirited protest and speak-out against the prison industrial complex, the disparity in arrests, sentencing and treatment during and after incarceration, particularly of Black people. Supporters came from as far as Boston and Mississippi to proclaim that the Scott Sisters be released from prison, as well as all those suffering under the MDOC system, one of the worst prison systems for medical care in the country.
We are here to represent those who came before us,” stated Gray-Haired Witness B.J. Peak-Graham, "Our Ancestors cry through us demanding all justices denied."
Atty Sam Jordan was very thorough and spoke with great conviction, as well as Gloria & Clarence Bolls, Donnie Finley, Chioma Oruh, and more! They were each eloquent and adamant that an investigation into the case of the Scott Sisters needed to be a top item on the Washington agenda and that enough is truly enough for this devastating case!

Later that afternoon at Lafayette Park, the energy was still very high and a lot of information was shared with attendees and passersby. Brenda Branson, Spoken Word and Slangston Hughes were among those who brought the power to bear on this system during their hard-hitting and impassioned spoken word presentations, and the crowd was visibly moved by a beautiful musical performance by Khadijah “Moon” Ali-Coleman. The many speakers who brought dynamic information to the rally included Returning Citizens United, UNIA Pres. General Senghor Jawara Baye, Clinton Alexander, Atty Nkechi Taifa, Mike Johnson, revered community mother and esteemed elder Mama Nia, and more, that made for a very meaningful day of education and information that lit up the entire square and reached everyone within earshot. Atty Ann Wilcox also took the stage and spoke in solidarity on behalf of the local Green Party and the Gray Panthers.

Portions of the rally were very moving and being in the shadow of the White House made them all the more poignant.
Gray-Haired Witness, Jamia Shepherd, read from heartbreaking letters from Jamie and Gladys Scott, one in which Jamie wrote: “I’ve been robbed of so much by the state of Mississippi until I can’t feel anymore. But in the midst of this pain, I do also feel the love and support from each of you. Please stay strong in your stand for justice. One day we shall overcome. I just pray my day won’t be too late.”
The organizers were uplifted by those in attendance as well as all of those who supported but were unable to attend, and all expressed their love and admiration for the awe-inspiring courage and fortitude of Mrs. Evelyn Rasco, the true engine behind all of the organizing that goes on with respect to her beloved and suffering daughters. The movement is growing and all of the people who are organizing on behalf of the Scott Sisters around the country and world will be heard!
We come from a history of struggle, we must relearn that we don’t just lay down and accept injustice!” said Gray-Haired Witness Marpessa Kupendua.
 The women vowed to remain consistent and continue to move forward in the spirit of Ida B. Wells on this case and in other efforts to demand an end to the demonization and dehumanization of the Black community in general and Black women in particular in the future.

I encourage all villagers to find a way to support the Scott Sisters ... even if it is simply with the power of your prayer!

June 29, 2010

Good News Tuesday: Angela James, Black Woman Enters Hockey Hall of Fame

Angela James was a trailblazer on the ice, a fierce competitor who piloted Canada’s national women’s hockey team to four world championships. James blazed another trail when she was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame last week.

James, 45, is the first Black woman voted into the hall and the second Black player ever to receive the honor. She joins Grant Fuhr, a Black five-time Stanley Cup-winning goaltender with the Edmonton Oilers, who entered the Hall in 2003. She will be formally inducted into the Hall, located in Toronto, in November.

On behalf of everyone in women’s hockey, I am truly honored,” James said. “As a kid, I went to the Hall and was in awe of those who had been inducted. I am delighted to be able to join them.”
James was dubbed “the Wayne Gretzky of women’s hockey” in Canada and is regarded as one of the first superstars of modern women’s hockey. She had a distinguished playing career at Toronto’s Seneca College – where she currently works as a sports co-coordinator – leading her team to several championships. The school retired her number 8 jersey.

She moved on to the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association in the late 1970s, where she led her in scoring in eight seasons and was named its most valuable player in six seasons. In 1990, she was selected to the Canadian national team for the inaugural Women’s Champion in Ottawa. There, she powered the team to a gold medal by scoring a tournament-leading 11 goals in five games.

James was the driving force in leading the Canadian women to more gold at championships in Tampere, Finland in 1992, in Lake Placid in 1994 and in Kitchener, Ontario in 1997. She also powered Team Canada to gold medals in the Three Nations Cup tournaments in 1996 and 1999.

In all, James was a medalist in 12 national championships and won four world championships. She was named MVP at eight Canadian championships, scored 34 points in 20 games over the first four world championships in 1990, 1992, 1994 and 1997. She is the only Black Canadian to captain her country’s national hockey team.

Back in the days when we wore pink uniforms, we did what it took to get our game on the map,” James told the Canadian Press. “We didn’t care if we were wearing polka-dots, we just wanted to play.”
For all her goals, medals, and awards, James never played in the Winter Olympics. In a controversial move, she was left off the women’s hockey team.

I don’t look at this as retribution,” James told The New York Times of her induction and the 1998 Olympic slight. “I look at this as a great day for women’s hockey.”
Her Olympic exclusion – which many said was like keeping legendary New York Rangers team Captain Mark Messier of the Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team – didn’t stop the accolades from coming.

She received Hockey Canada’s Female Breakthrough Award in 2005, was inducted into the Black Hockey and Sports Hall of Fame and the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2006.

Two years later, she, Cammi Granato, and Geraldine Heaney became the first women inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame. Last year, James was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

I encourage all villagers to take a moment to share some love with Hockey Hall of Famer Angela James for being such a remarkable athlete!

June 28, 2010

Blog Safari #38

I invite curious villagers to join us as we sojourn through our next blog safari. We use these occassional blog safari expeditions to enjoy the flow from talented bloggers out in the afrosphere. I hope you enjoy these suggested blog posts!
Let us know if you come across any remarkable posts that should be shared in our next Blog Safari!

June 27, 2010

Am I Not Human? US/Mexico Border Killings

We support the 'Am I Not Human?' blogging campaign that lights up on the 27th of each month. I encourage all villagers to find a way to support this effort to shine a light on human rights abuses taking place all over the world.

This blog tracks taser-related deaths. One of these killings occurred at the US/Mexico border near San Diego. It turns out that these border killings are more frequent than I imagined.

As a result, this blog joins with Human Rights Watch, American Civil Rights Union and others in calling for the US government to conduct a prompt, thorough, and transparent investigation of the recent killings of two Mexican citizens by US border agents. The increasing number of episodes in which migrants are killed or wounded by border agents, raises grave concerns about possible unlawful use of lethal force.

Border control agents shot and killed Adrian Hernandez, 15, on the evening of June 7, 2010, at a railroad bridge connecting Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, with El Paso, Texas, after rock-throwing migrants confronted agents during an arrest. In a separate incident, Anastacio Hernandez Rojas died on May 31 after being electrocuted by border control agents on May 28 with a taser gun at the San Ysidro border crossing.

"The increasing number of border patrol killings make it clear that an open and thorough US investigation is needed," said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. "Any border agents found responsible for using excessive force should be held accountable."
According to the Mexican government, the number of incidents in which Mexicans were killed or wounded by border patrol has increased significantly in the past three years. Five Mexicans were killed or wounded in 2008 by the border patrol. The total in 2009 was 12, and there have been 17 incidents already in 2010.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said in a statement that in the June 7 incident, agents encountered a group of suspected illegal immigrants entering the United States and arrested two of them. The others fled across the border and began throwing rocks at the agents. One agent fired several shots, killing Adrian Hernandez. The victim's family says that he was not involved in the rock throwing and had not crossed the border.

In the earlier incident, the San Diego police said that Hernandez Rojas, 42, attacked the border patrol agents as they prepared to return him to Mexico. One agent allegedly struck Hernandez Rojas with a baton, and then another agent electrocuted him with a taser gun. Hernandez Rojas stopped breathing and showed no pulse. He was taken off life support three days later. Hernandez Rojas reportedly had been in the United States since the age of 14. He had been deported after a traffic violation, returned to the United States and was rearrested on the afternoon of May 28.

The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials provide that authorities shall, as far as possible, apply nonviolent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms. The Basic Principles provide that if the lawful use of force and firearms is unavoidable, then the authorities must use restraint and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offense. Lethal force may be used only when strictly unavoidable to protect life. The Basic Principles also call for an effective reporting and review process, especially in cases of death and serious injury.

June 26, 2010

Weekly Address: Finishing the Job on Wall Street Reform

President Obama continues to have a remarkable series of legislative successes during the past 18 months. Today he is very close to signing legislation that reforms Wall Street. He uses his weekly address to talk about it:

June 24, 2010

BDPA Foundation and Eli Lilly Scholarship Offer $2,500 Scholarships for High School Senior and Current College Student

The BDPA Education and Technology Foundation is proud to open up the application period for any graduating high school student or current college student interested in the 2010 Eli Lilly and Company Scholarship for BDPA Students!

The purpose of the Lilly/BDPA Scholarship is to recognize outstanding minority students, with an interest in information technology, who make significant contributions to society. Applicants must excel academically, show exceptional leadership potential, and make an impact on their communities through service to others.

Lilly/BDPA Scholars will be awarded a one-time $2,500 scholarship that may be used to pursue an information technology focused degree at an accredited four-year college or university of their choice. The Lilly/BDPA Scholarship may be used to supplement benefits from the college or university a student plans to attend and fellowships from other foundations or organizations. Students may use the scholarship to cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, room and board, and other college-related expenses.

Scholarship winners will be selected based on the application, essay, and letters of recommendation.

To be eligible for Lilly/BDPA Scholarship, each applicant must:
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the United States
  • Be a graduating high school senior or current college student in good standing at the time of their application.
  • Demonstrate academic achievement (minimum GPA of 3.0)
  • Exhibit leadership ability through academic or civic involvement and participate in community service activities
Complete application packet must include the following:
  1. Application Form
  2. Current transcript
  3. 500-word essay on “Why Information Technology is Important”
  4. Two letters of recommendation

Click here to download application!

Scholarships will be awarded only to students who fully meet the scholarship requirements. All application materials must be RECEIVED on or before July 9, 2010 in order to be eligible. Incomplete, e-mailed or faxed applications will not be considered!

We will announce the Lilly/BDPA scholarship winners during the 2010 National BDPA Technology Conference in Philadelphia, PA.   We are very proud of our past Lilly/BDPA scholarship winners:
  1. 2007, Daniel Puente (University of Texas)
  2. 2007, Christian West (Northwestern University)
  3. 2008, Khalia Braswell (North Carolina State University)
  4. 2008, Lee Reed (University of Michigan)
  5. 2009, Hung Vo (Georgia Institute of Technology)
  6. 2009, Carrine Johnson (Palos Verdes Peninsula High School)
Do you know any high school or college kids looking to study in a technology-based field during college? Can they use a $2,500 scholarship? If so, you need to share this information with them right away!

Any questions?

June 23, 2010

Troy Davis Fights Death Penalty in Federal Court

Villagers should know that an evidentiary hearing for death row inmate Troy Davis is taking place today in a Savannah federal district court. According to his sister, Martina Correia, Mr. Davis is in a great spirit and prayerful about the pending outcome.

Troy is in total prayer, asking God to deliver him. He says people keep asking him why he’s not upset or broken down by now. It is because he believes God is protecting him," said Ms. Correia. [SOURCE]
Today's hearing was ordered last year by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Troy was sentenced to death for the 1991 killing of Mark McPhail, a police officer in Savannah, Georgia. We have posted before that the State of Georgia should not kill Troy Davis because there is no physical evidence tying him to the crime and seven out of nine witnesses have recanted or contradicted their testimony.

The high court ordered a federal judge in Georgia to determine whether there is evidence "that could not have been obtained at the time of trial (that) clearly establishes petitioner's innocence."

For more information please log on to: www.troyanthonydavis.org or read past Electronic Village blog posts.

Wordless Wednesday: World Champion Los Angeles Lakers

June 22, 2010

Budget Director Peter Orszag is Leaving Obama Administration

President Obama is being bombarded with a never-ending list of challenges and issues. Today, we learn that his Budget Director Peter Orszag is resigning.

In the midst of fielding comments about Gen. Stanley McChrystal's insubordinate comments, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Orszag will be leaving the administration next month.

"It's an enormous task," Gibbs said of the budget director. "Peter has been instrumental in, for instance, this year's plan to freeze non-security discretionary spending for three years and has decided to leave before we get into the creation of the next budget. He's been here for two budgets."
Orszag was the 37th person to serve as the director of the Office of Management and Budget. Most of his predecessors were never heard from again on a national level. However, some left this position to go onto to higher public service.

  • Rob Portman (OMB, 2006-2007) is now running for the US Senate in my state of Ohio.
  • Mitch Daniels (OMB, 2001-2003) left the office and successfully ran to become governor of Indiana.
  • Franklin Raines (OMB, 1996-1998) is the only African American to serve in this office. He went on to serve as CEO of Fannie Mae during a time of great distress for that company.
  • Leon Panetta (OMB, 1993-1994) is currently serving as Obama's CIA director.
The administration is looking at a number of "talented candidates" to replace Orszag. That new budget director's challenges will include billions and trillions or projected budget deficits and federal debt.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., praised Orszag, and noted that his successor "will face tremendous challenges in righting our long-term fiscal imbalance and starting to close our enormous gaps in the debt and deficit. I look forward to working with whoever that Director is to tackle these historic problems facing our country."
President Obama is accepting Orszag's resignation today. It is likely that he will accept another resignation tomorrow from Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

Our president needs our prayers as he handles the nation's business.

Taser Death: Daniel Sylvester (Crescent City, CA)

We are sad to report another taser-related killing in America. This time it happened in Crescent City, CA on June 22, 2010. Two unidentified Del Norte County sheriff's deputies shot 35-year old Daniel Sylvester with their taser. Sylvester was handcuffed and had trouble breathing. Sylvester was given CPR at the scene and in the emergency room at Sutter Coast Hospital, but he could not be revived. Sylvester was pronounced dead by emergency room staff.

The Sheriff's office came to Sylvester's home as a result of a 911 call that described him as a man with a history of psychological problems who was “out of control”. The reporting party said that he or she and the other residents were scared and had left.

Sylvester's mother tells a different story [SOURCE].

Elaine Sylvester -- who said she witnessed Daniel Sylvester's exchange with deputies -- said the accounts by Del Norte Sheriff's Office officials in the local paper are not at all what she saw.

Elaine Sylvester says that Daniel Sylvester had mental health problems and that his medication had recently been changed. On June 22, he was acting frustrated, she said, and began yelling. Elaine Sylvester said that she and others in the house left, and that she tried to reach mental health workers, but the department was not open at 6:30 a.m.

Elaine said she called 911 and told the dispatcher that she was concerned for Daniel's well-being, but that he was not a threat to anyone else.

I wasn't at any time afraid he was going to hurt me,” Elaine Sylvester said. “I just wanted someone to calm him down.”
Elaine Sylvester said she met the responding officers down the street and reiterated the message, and said there was no one else in the home. When the deputies got to the house, Daniel Sylvester was in the front yard near the door, she said. When officers tried to talk with him, Elaine Sylvester said, her son said they were scaring him and to go away. He backed into the house and tried to close the door, Elaine Sylvester said, and the officers followed him inside, where they began to taser him.

For hours she didn't know whether her son was dead or alive, she said.

It seems that the police used poor judgement. The young man was not armed. He was not in attack mode ... he seems to have been retreating back to his home. Was it really necessary for this pre-judicial electrocution by the unidentified police officers?

Please let our blog know if you have any additional insights or information to share on this taser-related death.

Good News Tuesday: Cheryl Terry, BDPA Epsilon Award for Outstanding Technical Contribution

Cheryl Terry (Wells Fargo Bank) is one of the winners of the 2010 Epsilon Award for Outstanding Technical Contribution presented by National BDPA and WorkplaceDiversity.com.

BDPA Epsilon Awards recognize individual achievement by technologists who are nominated by BDPA chapters or corporate sponsors.

Nominees for the Epsilon Outstanding Technical Contribution Award are presented to individuals who perform technological functions and have designed, managed, developed, or assisted in the development of a product, service, system, or intellectual property that is a substantial achievement. The nominee’s work is the prime consideration, regardless of title or degrees earned.

Cheryl Terry is a systems architect who ensures availability and security of several of Wells Fargo’s most business-critical systems in the mainframe and midrange environments. For the past two years, she has served as Chief Systems Architect for the Mainframe Resiliency Program and achieved many successes around enhancing Wells Fargo’s mainframe environments, helping to ensure that her customers can transact business with the bank when and how they choose. Additional standout accomplishments: Cheryl authored a Living Target Architecture document for Wells Fargo’s mainframe groups and implemented an online wiki that has fostered collaboration across these groups and serves as a fully searchable online reference book complete with cross-links and diagrams.

The Electronic Village congratulates Cheryl Terry on her 2010 Epsilon Award for Outstanding Technical Contribution. I hope that many villagers check out career opportunity at Wells Fargo Bank!

I look forward to networking with Cheryl Terry at the 32nd annual BDPA Technology Conference.

June 21, 2010

America I AM: The African American Imprint Comes to Cincinnati Museum Center

America I AM: The African American Imprint
Presented by: Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal
Saturday, June 19, 2010 - Sunday, January 2, 2011

American's other story features artifacts collected from every period of U.S. history, including texts, religious items, music, narrations and media conveying a journey rom struggle to triumph. Discover five centuries of African American history. It's the American story, like it's never been told before, through more than 250 rare and stunning artifacts from all over the globe. The Cincinnati exhibition will also include the Cincinnati Black Brigade Flag; artifacts from Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin; and rededicated Spirit Gallery, showcasing the African American church in Cincinnati.


Order & Box Office Information
Box Office: (513) 283-7000

Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal
1301 Western Ave.
Cincinnati, OH 45203

June 19, 2010

Meet Democratic Senatorial Candidate Alvin Greene (D-SC) [Video]

Some shyt doesn't really need much in the way of commentary. That being said ... do you have any thoughts on candidate Greene?

June 18, 2010

Taser Autopsy: Death of Ron Petruney Was 'Accidental'

Ron Petruney was a 49-year old man in Washington County (PA) who needed help. Instead Sgt. Charles Mutich and Sgt. Robert Lemons electrocuted him with 50,000 volts from their taser guns three or four times on November 17, 2009. Ron Petruney died four days later.

His family was told by a jury of six that Petruney's death was of natural causes and the police officers use of taser guns were not a factor in his death. [VIDEO]

It is totally unbelievable to think that being tased four times "is not a factor" in this man's death.

Dr. Abdulrezak Shakir, of the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office, testified that Petruney's medical history included epilepsy and depression.

Shakir said the autopsy report showed that Petruney had a pre-existing heart condition and likely died because of stress on his heart, not the effects of the four jolts (50,000 volts each) from the police taser gun.

It appears that this coroner's inquest was designed to justify the police actions rather than seek truth and justice. Why else would the jury be allowed to hear testimony that Petruney had several run-ins with police in the years before his death. What possible relevance is that information to the facts of his death?

Police have defended their actions, saying Petruney had mental health problems and had bitten an officer in the past. Sgt. Charles Mutich and Sgt. Robert Lemons won’t face any criminal charges in this taser-related electrocution.

Petruney's family is upset at the ruling and I hope that they file a civil suit to get to the truth and justice of this case.

Does anyone know race (or national origin) of the dead man?

June 17, 2010

Perp Walk: Former Celtics Star Antoine Walker Faces 12 Years in Prison

Former Celtics star Antoine Walker is only 33-years old. He earned over $110 million in his 13-year NBA career. He was a NBA all-star when he played with the Boston Celtics. He was a NBA world champion when he played for Miami Heat in 2006.

Now, Walker faces 12-years behind bars because of his inability to pay $822,500 in gambling debts. County prosecutors in Las Vegas say he failed to make good on 10 checks totaling $1 million written to Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood and the Red Rock Resort. He has since paid back $178,000.

Walker filed for bankruptcy last year and he is now reportedly broke. The Toronto Star ran an article alleging that that 60 percent of NBA athletes “go broke” five years after retiring.

Antoine Walker is a cautionary tale for other African American atheletes who feel that their success between the lines gives them carte blanche to do whatever they want outside of the lines.

When will we learn?

June 15, 2010

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) Accuses Barack Obama of Favortism Towards Blacks over Whites in America

Did you hear Iowa congressman Steve King's racist rant against President Obama? Here is some of what he had to say:

When you look at this administration, I'm offended by Eric Holder and the President also, their posture. It looks like Eric Holder said that white people in America are cowards when it comes to race. And I don't know what the basis of that is but I'm not a coward when it comes to that and I'm happy to talk about these things and I think we should. But the President has demonstrated that he has a default mechanism in him that breaks down the side of race - on the side that favors the Black person...
Take a moment to listen to his full comments on the show:

King, a four-term lawmaker, made similar remarks about Obama in a speech last month.

"When he had an Irish cop and a Black professor, who’d he side with?” King said. “He jumped to a conclusion without having heard the facts. And he ended up having to have a beer summit. The president of the United States has got to articulate a mission. And instead, he’s playing race-bait games to undermine the law enforcement in the state of Arizona and across the country."
I'm beginning to sense more and more of a right-wing agenda of hate that is being laid out along racial lines. Will the Tea Party and others in the Republican Pary go along with this new race-based campaign strategy? Or will someone in the GOP man up and tell Steve King to shove it?

What say u?

Taser Death: Michael White (Vallejo, CA)

We have a hot ghetto mess in Vallejo, CA. Vallejo police electrocuted 47-year old Michael White with multiple shots from their taser gun.

Here's the story as we understand it. The police indicate that an elderly woman in her 60s called 911 on Tuesday (June 15) afternoon to report that her neighbor, Michael White, assaulted her at her front door. The injured woman had escaped the neighbor’s grasp and he had returned home.

Four unidentified police officers arrived on the scene and went across the street to White's home. The police say that White was delusional, irrational and uncooperative. A struggle ensued as police officers tried to control White. At this point, two of the unidentified police officers decided it was time to jolt Mr. White with 50,000 volts of energy from their taser guns. I imagine that if you pump 100,000 volts into somebody ... they are tame enough to handcuff. The police indicate that Mr. White was taken into custody at this point.

The police then tell us that fire personnel and medics responded to the scene and White continued to be combative as he was placed on a gurney, put into an ambulance and taken to the hospital.

Michael White died in the emergency room of Kaiser Permenente Vallejo Medical Center at 5:22 pm -- less than an hour after the police arrived at his home.

Of course, we don't know Michael White's version of the story. He's dead.

The police spent a great deal of energy sharing the past criminal history of Mr. White. The police reported to the White has an extensive criminal record, with White's family agreeing that he has had his run-ins with the law before.

"Since 1990, he's been arrested for 14 different criminal violations ranging from theft, grand theft, forgery, numerous drug violations including transport of drugs, assault with a deadly weapon, assault of a peace officer, resisting arrest and parole violation," police said.
I'm not certain how that is relevant to the pre-judicial electrocution that took place on Tuesday afternoon.

Vallejo police dismissed a claim by members of a White's family that police killed him with excessive force.

"No, we did not murder Michael White. The autopsy's indicating ... excited delirium as the positive cause of death," said police Lt. Abel Tenorio.
Preliminary test results from the Solano County Coroner's Office indicate White had cocaine in his system. A full toxicology report is expected within two weeks.

The two unidentified offers who electrocuted White remain on duty. The Vallejo Police Department generally places officers on administrative leave after such an incident to evaluate them and check their mental health, however, in this case, the officers felt they did not need time off because they felt none of their actions caused White's death.

"We're continuing the investigation, and we're waiting for the autopsy reports. We have a preliminary finding, but we'll continue the investigation, talk to witnesses and have the (district attorney) review it when it's complete," Tenorio said.
I ask villagers to let us know if you learn anything new about this taser-killing.

Tune In Tuesday: Kenny G Video is Unworthy of His Music

I woke up this morning with an ol' school song by Kenny G on my mind. Do you remember his hit, Hi, How Ya Doin'? from back in the day? I decided that I wanted to share it with other villagers so I sought out the video.


I suspect that if I made a list of the top 10 videos that ruined my audio-image of a song ... this video would be on the list.

What music videos do you recall that ruined the great audio visuals that you had in your mind?

Good News Tuesday: Jack Thomas Fights for Human Rights in Frederick MD

Our minds float to places like Gaza, Somalia or Haiti when we think about human rights. As such, it intrigued me to learn about a man willing to take up the fight for human rights in his own home town.

Jack Thomas Sr. became involved with the Frederick County Human Relations Commission in 2006 after the controversy surrounding the arrest of six African American students in Jena LA, resulting from the beating of a white classmate. [SOURCE]

Thomas joined a rally at the Frederick County Courthouse to bring attention to the Jena Six, the severity of the charges and the appearance of racially motivated circumstances that led to the beating.

"I felt like I owed it to myself to get involved in the community," he said.
Thomas, 55, was born and raised in Frederick , attended Frederick High School, college at Bowie State University and graduate school at Colorado Technical University, where he received a master's degree in program management.

An information technology specialist for 33 years, Thomas has lived and worked in Minnesota, Colorado and Florida and worked in IT-related positions for telecommunications, banks and insurance companies.

He has helped develop background systems and applications for these companies to ensure everything from their websites to their ATMs worked properly.

Thomas works in Virginia for Freddie Mac as a technical project manager consultant.

In 2001, Thomas moved back to Frederick to be closer to his extended family and friends.

"I felt like it was important to get back home," he said.
One change to Frederick that he noticed was the dispersal of a once-vibrant Black community, he said.

"That sense of community that existed back then has changed significantly," he said.
Now Black residents have integrated into the community, which he described as having positive and negative consequences.

"It's really good in that people get to branch out and be involved in other things," he said. "We're all one country."

On the other hand, "it's always bad when you lose sight of where you came from," he said.
Thomas had taken small steps to engage himself in the affairs of the community, but the Jena Six served as the final incentive he needed.

He spoke with the former chairman of the Human Relations Commission, Sam Bennett Jr., who encouraged him to join the volunteer group, where he serves as treasurer.

Through the years, Thomas has seen his share of people treating others unfairly. Overall, the rights of citizens in the United States have become more equal than in other places he has traveled, such as Ghana. Still, he said, improvements are needed.

"I try to make a difference, so we can bring about some equality and equal rights for all people in the Frederick area," he said.
Jack Thomas reminds all villagers that it is important to make a difference in our own neighborhoods ... our own communities.

Seek not for fresher founts afar,
Just drop your bucket where you are.

Wisdom is right in front of the man with understanding, but the fool does not see it. He roams all over the world in search of what is right under his nose. The fool is like the proverbial cow who always thinks the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. The wise man sees plenty of green grass in the field where he is. The fool can be enthusiastic about what might be if only things were different, and he was someplace else, or somebody else. He can dream of the opportunities of the future in far off places, but the wise man sees the opportunities before his eyes right where he is. Which of these two kinds of vision you have will determine the success you make of your life.

June 14, 2010

Taser Death: Jose Alfredo Jimenez (Harris County, TX)

The Houston Chronicle reports that another taser electrocution has taken place in America. This is the 81st such death in the past 18 months.

An unidentifed Harris County sheriff pulled over a white pickup for a traffic violation on June 14th.  The driver, Jose Jimenez, was asked to get out of his vehicle. We don't know what was said ... but, the deputy indicates that Jimenez hit him in the chest and began running away. The deputy says that he caught up to Jimenez about 75 feet away from the traffic stop and pumped him with 50,000 volts of electricity from his taser gun.

"He (the suspect) fell to the ground and hit his head," said Christina Garza, a sheriff's spokeswoman.
Paramedics were called to the scene to drive to save Jimenez's life with CPR. He was eventually taken to the Houston Northwest Medical Center. Jose Alfredo Jimenez died at the hospital.

The incident remains under investigation. Please POST A COMMENT ('Village Voices') if you have any additional information to share on this taser-related electrocution.

June 13, 2010

Taser Death: William Owens (Homewood, AL)

Teenagers that break into cars should be arrested. They should be tried and sent to jail for their crimes. Teenagers that break into cars should not be electrocuted by their arresting officers. Someone forgot to give the memo to an unidentified Homewood (AL) police officer. This officer pumped 50,000 volts of electricity from his taser gun into the body of 17-year old William Owens when he tried to flee. [SOURCE]

"After a continued struggle the officer handcuffed the suspect who for unknown reasons became unconscious and collapsed. Homewood fire and rescue transported the suspect to UAB where he never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead," said Homewood Police Lieutenant Ken Atkinson.

William's cousin Erica Owens says she lost her grandmother the day before William passed away and now she wants answers about his untimely death.

"We want to know what happened to him. We really don't know what happened to him. We just know that he got tased and now he's dead and the police won't tell us nothing," said Erica Owens.
Herzing University President Donald Lewis says the campus was closed at the time, but people sometimes use their parking lot after hours. Lewis says it is not a high crime area and describes the event as highly unusual.

Homewood police confirm that an officer has been placed on paid administrative leave as the Alabama Bureau of Investigation and the Jefferson County Coroner's Office investigate the incident and the cause of death.

"It would be both premature and unreasonable for this department to answer or attempt to answer any questions, respond to any comments, or speculation in order to allow this investigation to be completed. To do otherwise would pose a substantial possibility of confusing or delaying independent and objective analysis of this incident and would be grossly unfair to all parties involved," said Lt. Ken Atkinson.

Of course, the police were not above trying to cover their asses. Several hours after they killed William Owens, police arrived at Owens' home to tell his mother he was dead. Before doing so, the family said police officers asked whether Owens had any health problems including high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease.

"She told them he had just left the doctor and nothing was wrong with him," Erica Owens said.

A lawyer for the family is calling for a grand jury investigation into the death.

"The Homewood police killed this kid. They Tased him to death," said attorney Byron Perkins. "There's no reason in the world that this 17-year-old kid should be dead."

Please let us know if you have any additional details about this taser-related death.

June 12, 2010

Update on Taser-Torture of Anastasio Hernández Rojas [Video]

The groundswell of outrage against the Custom & Border Patrol (CBP) for their brutal taser-related killing of Anastasio Hernández Rojas grows day-by-day. Mexican activists regularly meet at the border to protest the behavior of the CBP officers that killed Rojas earlier this month as shown in the above photo shared with this blog by AFSC-San Diego.

The case for law enforcement officials was not helped by the images and sounds of the Rojas beatdown as caught on the following (grainy) video:

The family of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas shared their thoughts on his death, which occurred after border agents beat and shot him with a taser gun. A family spokesperson and other human rights groups are very clear in their condemnation of the actions of border agents.

What are your thoughts on this case?  Also, does anyone have a digital photo of Mr. Hernandez-Rojas that you can share with me.  I haven't been able to locate one yet.

June 10, 2010

District Attorney Will Not Charge Cops Who Tasered Daniel Barga to Death

Daniel Barga, 24, died after being taken into custody following a disturbance in the backyard of a upper-income home in Cornelius, Oregon that was less than half-mile from his residence. Cornelius police officer Mark Jansen found Barga in the backyard covered with blood and refusing to cooperate, police said. Jansen used a Taser, which delivers a 50,000-volt shock, in an effort to subdue Barga. Barga died while in Jansen's custody.

Cornelius Officer Mark Jansen and the other two officers involved in Barga's death (Forest Grove Sgt. Dean Foster and Officer Scott King) will not face criminal charges. [SOURCE]

This result was inevitable after the autoposy in which the medical examiner said that the young man died from "excited delirium" due to the toxic effects of psilocybin, or hallucinogenic mushrooms.

June 8, 2010

National Caribbean American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

I was inspired by one of my consulting clients to create a groupsite for HIV/AIDS Awareness.  As such, I've learned that there are many communities who try to raise awareness as well.  For example, today - Tuesday, June 8 - is the fifth annual observation of National Caribbean American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, intended to increase awareness about HIV among communities hailing from the Caribbean Islands, one of the most heavily affected regions worldwide.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) tells us that the Caribbean has been more affected by HIV than any region outside sub-Saharan Africa, and has the second highest HIV prevalence among adults (1.0%).

UNAIDS estimates that 19,000 Caribbeans died of AIDS and an additional 250,000 were living with the HIV in 2006. In 2005, there were a reported 38,133 new HIV diagnoses among Caribbean Americans living in the U.S.

For further information about HIV among Caribbean Americans, resources, and events to recognize the day, see the following sites:

- AIDSInfo National Caribbean American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day web site:

- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Caribbean American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day web page:

- Caribbean People International Collective:

Friends and Family Speak Out on Dragging Death of Anthony Hill

Anthony Hill was a son, a father, a military veteran and a friend to many. His dragging death in South Carolina was shocking on many different levels. One of his friends recently posted the following video on YouTube:

Mr Hill's cousin, Karen Hill said, "I don't know enough about the truth right now to say anything, but I'll say it like this: he needs to be punished for what he did, because that's a sad way to take somebody's life. It's hurtful to see him die like that, not just for me but his mom and sister."
Karen said her cousin Anthony was a quiet person who kept to himself, but he would help a stranger. [SOURCE]

Taser Death: Terrelle Houston (Hempstead, TX)

Terrelle Leray Houston was a 22-year old man who went to visit his estranged wife on Tuesday, June 9th in violation of a restraining order. Hemptead police officers ... including Sgt. Byron Fausset ... received two 911 calls and arrived at the complex to investigate. Upon their arrival, police learned the people involved with the disturbance left the area.

One person was still around ... Terrelle Houston. Houston did what any young Black male in America would do when the flashing lights of a police vehicle approaches and you know you are in the wrong place ... he took off running. He was unarmed. He was not dangerous to anyone. He simply took off running.

"Upon officers' arrival, the suspect fled," Chief David Hartley said. "Was chased by officers, was tased and the suspect did not recover."
Terrelle Houston's life ended that night when Sgt. Byron Fausset decided to implement pre-judicial electrocution with this taser gun. After officers noticed that Mr. Houston was having difficulty breathing, he was transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. His wife is mourning his loss.

Some witnesses said Houston was wet when he got shocked.

"They hit him with the Taser four times while he was already wet," witness Dex Lewis said. "It been raining out here just about all day."
Community activist Quanell X said the death could have been prevented.

"This young man had no previous medical conditions. He was in good shape. He did run from the law enforcement officer, but that is still no excuse to tase a brother in a puddle of water multiple times, causing his death," Quanell X said.
Police and the Texas Rangers are investigating the incident.

There doesn't seem to be muct to investigate. A young man tried to visit his wife. Sgt. Byron Fausset electrocuted him in violation of recent federal ruling that order police not electrocute people with their tasers unless they pose an immediate threat?

His widow is calling on law enforcement agencies statewide to temporarily stop using stun guns. The taser-killing happened right in front of her eyes. She questions the response he got after losing his breath.

"I just seen when he was running, and he slipped, and when he fell to the ground, the man was just Tasing him," said Calvinette Houston.
She will never forget the scene she saw on Tuesday night. Not only questioning the amount of force used against her husband, Terrell Houston, but what happened after he was subdued.

"And then he waited maybe 20 minutes before he called EMS," she said. "And it took EMS 15 minutes to get here."
Sgt. Byron Fausset, who used his taser multiple times to kill Terrelle Houston, is on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.

OURstory: Ballot Box

The Ohio Historical Society is loaning a ballot box from the post-Civil War era to the America I AM exhibit when it comes to Cincinnati Museum Center on June 19.

All proud Black voters know that the 13th Amendment ended the system of slavery in America, while the 14th Amendment granted citizenship and the rights that came with it to African Americans. The 15th Amendment guaranteed the right to vote. These three (3) admendments to the US Constitution had a deep impact on our society.

After the 15th Amendment was ratified, African Americans sent 17 Black representatives to Washington – 15 to Congress and two to the U.S. Senate -- in a remarkable period of American history known as 'Reconstruction'.

I share this information in the hopes it will remind us 21st century citizens that freedom is never free. Many of our ancestors went through quite alot to get us the right to vote. Let's not take it for granted!

June 5, 2010

Obama's Weekly Address: Speaking from Louisiana on the Oil Spill

Speaking from Grand Isle, Louisiana, the President discusses the hardships local residents and small business owners are facing as a result of the BP oil spill. He pledges to make sure those responsible do not shortchange them.

Jasper-Style Lynching of Anthony Hill in South Carolina [VIDEO]

Some trends need to be squashed before they can get going. Our nation has a horrific history with lynchings. We can ill-afford to allow racist white folks to begin using their pick-up trucks for lynching of Black folks.

Today I heard about another African American man being dragged on a rope behind a truck. This time the murderous hate crime occured in South Carolina, where Anthony Hill, 30, was dragged for 10 miles behind the truck of a 19-year old co-worker.

Police followed a trail of blood to the mobile home of 19-year old Gregory Collins. Collins was a co-worker of Mr. Hill at a local chicken-processing plant.

The police demanded that Collins come out - but he refused. After a three-hour stand-off, police forced him out by using tear gas. He was wearing an empty gun holster.

Sheriff Lee Foster, who has been in law enforcement for 35 years, told a local news conference it was 'one of the top three most violent crime scenes he's ever seen'.

Police believe Hill was killed at Collins' mobile home with a shot to the head, and then his body dragged behind a pickup truck.

I recall the tremendous public outcry when James Byrd was dragged to his death in Jasper, Texas. There was less attention when Brandon McClelland was dragged to his death. Even worse, the white racists that killed young Brandon were never convicted of his murder.

I hope that this miscreant (Gregory Collins) feels the full weight of the law. More importantly, I hope that they put him in the same jail cell as a 350-pound Black lifer who can do a little draggin' of his own! 

June 4, 2010

March Protests Taser-Murder of Anastasio Hernández-Rojas at San Ysidro Border Crossing

Several dozen people chanting “justicia” marched at the San Ysidro border crossing to protest the death of Anastasio Hernández-Rojas, a Mexican citizen who died after being electrocuted with 50,000 volts from the taser gun of unidentified U.S. border agents. Hernández-Rojas, 42, had lived in San Diego since he was 14 and had five American-born children. [SOURCE]

As evening rush-hour commuters streamed past, the protesters gathered at the southbound pedestrian crossing, just yards from where the incident took place.

We’re touched by the story, the fact that this man was in the United States for so long,” said Donna Havrilak, who drove down from Fallbrook. “He was treated inhumanely.”
The protest was organized by the Raza Rights Coalition and the American Friends Service Committee.

AFSC staffer Christian Ramirez said, "The story of Anastasio is the story of many migrants who have been ripped apart from their families as the result of our failed immigration system. Tragically, this particular incident will end in death."

Black Unemployment Rate Falls to 15.5% in May 2010

People of African descent in this country need to get serious about the economic condition in our community. Perhaps it is up to us ... not President Obama ... to take steps to improve employment, opportunity and hope in the Black community.

A new employment report released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows us that the unemployment rate for African Americans dropped to 15.5% in May 2010.

The mainstream media will focus on the bigger picture -- 431,000 job were created last month. The unemployment rate edged down to 9.7 percent. However, total private employment increased by a less-than-forecast 41,000 jobs.

Taser Death: Jose Martinez (Waukegan, IL)

An unidentified Waukegan police officer electrocuted 53-year Jose Martinez on May 29 for no good reason. Martinez was unarmed. Martinez was not threatening himself or others. The unidentified police officer simply didn't think that the life of Martinez was worth taking the time to do something other than pull a taser gun and jolt 50,000 volts of electricity into his body. [SOURCE]

Details remain sketchy on the circumstances surrounding the taser-related death of Jose Martinez. It is possible that Martinez was targeted by mistake.

The details we know are simple. Jose Martinez, the father of three grown sons, was over 6 feet tall and weighed about 250 pounds. A graduate of Waukegan High School, he served in the Marine Corps from 1975 to 1977. The unidentified Waukegan police officer pulled his taser gun and used it. Martinez stopped breathing and was taken to Vista Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Lake County Coroner (and blogger) Dr. Richard Keller is trying to pull a fast one on the public. The initial autopsy report says that Martinez suffered a cardiac arrest (in other words, his heart stopped pumping).

Dr. Keller knows that his heart attack would not have occurred this past weekend without 50,000 volts of electricity being shot thru his body by the police.   

"He did have a heart condition, demonstrated on autopsy," Keller said. "We listed cause of death as heart condition and tasering as a contributing factor to his death."
The cause of death should have been ruled HOMICIDE. Instead, we get this "cardiac arrest" bullshyt.   This is not the first time that Dr. Keller has been accused of unethical behavior.

Waukegan Police Chief Artis Yancey said the death is under investigation by the Lake County Major Crime Task Force and declined to elaborate. I suspect that Chief Yancey knows that his police officer did wrong and that is why you don't hear the usual comments from him about 'standing behind the officer 100%' or 'the officer followed all taser procedures'.  Of course, the fact that Yancey is known to sleep with the wives of his officers may be one reason he is keeping a low profile.

The powers-that-be in Waukegan rushed the autopsy and tried to cover-up the taser electrocution for a number of days. The wife of Mr. Martinez was not notified of his death for four (4) days.

Rick Martinez, the victim's brother, a U.S. Army helicopter pilot who lives outside of Atlanta, Ga., said Jose might have been misidentified by police, who were called to the store on a complaint of a disturbance by someone who was panhandling.

Armando Martinez, 58, of Waukegan, another brother of the victim and a former Waukegan police officer, said the woman who was clerking Saturday night told the family that it was a different man who was causing problems at the store. He said he heard that police chased Martinez in the parking lot, stopped him with a Taser, then couldn't revive him.

"I was devastated," said Martinez, who left the police force after he was stabbed breaking up a bar room fight about 20 years ago. "Until the task force releases its report, we won't know -- was use of a Taser justified. We will find out what happened, then we'll see what action the family wants to take," Martinez said.
I think that the police made a big mistake on this one. What say u?