Philando Castile killing: decision to indict cop represents a concession and not a sea change

Jeronimo Yanez (Courtesy of Ramsey County jail)

While we rejoice about the decision of Ramsey County prosecutor John Choi to indict St Anthony policeman Jeronimo Yanez for the unwarranted killing of Philando Castile we have to be clear about what it means and what it doesn’t. It is indeed a win. But just because the system has chosen to do the right thing this once while failing to in hundreds of other cases of police misconduct does not mean it works. The truth is this is an aberration an exception to the rule.

In fact an indictment usually comes as a result of the system having almost no choice, usually they were caught red handed on camera coupled with a community and sometimes national protest demanding prosecution. And of course then and only then will this sly system prosecute, while using terms that make it appear to be moral, principled, just and conscientious which of course it is not.

Without question if the governor’s “business as usual” not been disturbed by days of protest demanding prosecution; if the rich people who live on Summit Avenue in St Paul had not had their peace disturbed; if millions of people not been exposed to the heartless, callous and cruel actions of officer Yanez who even threatened to shoot Diamond Reynolds, while Philando sat bleeding to death; there would be no prosecution.

And let’s be clear an oppressive class system buttressed by White Supremacy may have found it easier to indict a cop of color. Yanez is Latin. And the same system that encourages this criminal behavior will be counted on to prosecute one of their own. Definitely hold the cheers.

The big business newspapers like the Star Tribune would have us believe that a lack of training caused Yanez to kill Philando, but quite the contrary. Yanez didn’t render aide to Philando as he sat bleeding to death because he was trained not to. He was trained to keep his gun fixed on Diamond Reynolds and her four year old because he was trained to see them as threats. He was trained to see Philando as the potential enemy in a class and race war in which he voluntarily signed up to defend the interests of the ruling class.

Make no mistake, the system supports and encourages this police behavior. Spilling the blood of those who are in any way resistant to the system says to the others, ‘this is what is in store for those who resist.’

This decision does not change or redefine the role of the police or why they exist in our society.

Every time a cop a hits someone with their stick or maces or shoots someone it is to remind them of their place in this society. This is what is in store for recalcitrant, impudent and rebellious workers/slaves. All the speech making and pontificating about community relationships is just cover for their real role.

In fact our joy has already been tempered by the fact that the prosecution and indictment of a cop for injuring a citizen, (which is so hard to come by) does not mean conviction.

In Cincinnati, University of Cincinnati policeman Ray Tensing killed motorist Samuel DuBose in July 2015 almost in cold blood. The video of the shooting was made available for all the world to see, Cincinnati gave in and prosecuted Tensing, that is they charged him with murder. The circumstances surrounding DuBose’s death were similar to Philando’s.

But a jury of Tensing’s “peers” couldn’t bring themselves to convict him of second degree murder.

Unfortunately too many people believe that the police exist to “serve and protect” “them. So they are susceptible to all the finer points of capitalist/bourgeoisie law which support the police ability to kill citizens as long as the cop can claim to feel his/her life was in danger.

Sensing an opportunity to propagandize, the Star Tribune in a recent editorial on the Castile decision tried to use the first indictment of a cop for killing a citizen in Minnesota in almost 50 years to say that this proves that “justice is not irrevocably one sided.”

But that is not true justice is still as one sided in this country today as it was yesterday.

The difference in this case was the set of circumstances and the political environment and the protest. This decision in no way signals a sea change, police violence which strives under both Republican and Democratic administrations is here to stay.

While it sounds right to talk about police accountability, in truth the police are not accountable to us, but to this social, political, economic system’s ruling class. Real accountability to the citizens will only come about when citizens rise up and restructure, reconstruct or remove the current system.

justice then peace

Veterans Day: peace should have been the focus


Last weekend practically every sporting event was inundated with commemoration of the Veterans of US wars. As was the orginal intent of its original name Armistice Day, the day should motivate somber reflection and an honest assessment of just what US veterans of wars have been asked to do.

“Thank you for your service,” people say to the veterans of wars fought for almost anything but “our” that is working folks interests. While the impulse to honor and respect those who would lay down their lives for others is understandable. in this case it is nevertheless misguided.

Moreover US Service men and women are not in our employ but in the employ and service of US imperialism the ruling families, the Corporate heads, the Big Banks and to a lesser extent the military industrial complex and all who feed at the US military defense trough.

In the same vein, responses to the Colin Kaepernick anthem protest highlights the misconception that the veterans of US wars were “defending our freedoms.”

The sheer repetition and the general acceptance of this assertion does not make it true.

In fact it is far from the truth the last time soldiers have defended our freedom was when the Union responded when attacked by the Confederacy at Fort Sumter.

A quick glance at recent US Wars indicate they were not fought in defense of the country. In fact they were fought for the military industrial complex the pentagon, the corporations, the Big Banks in a word the ruling families. It accomplished lots of things like expanding new markets for US goods, acquired new materials and minerals for the market and finally it sends the message that US imperialism is not to be challenged, but it has little to do with our freedoms.

Consider that with the exception of World War II (which was also fought by working people on behalf of their respective Bourgeoisie) all US wars have been wars of aggression.

Was the US attacked or threatened by North Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and to a lesser extent Pakistan? The answer is a resounding no!

Defense was not the motivation for the myriad of other lesser known or little remembered interventions in Grenada, the Dominican Republic, Panama and Haiti and the former Yugoslavia. They were little more than Imperialist interventions; gangsterism by means of the State.

Consequently, what makes this misconception that US troops are fighting in our defense so pernicious is that real people suffered in this imaginary defense.Lots of people were either killed maimed or displaced. Human beings were murdered, wounded and made refugees. US soldiers were not defending themselves against these peoples, but rather the peoples attacked were defending themselves against the US military, which had violated their sovereignty and invaded their country.

Those peoples who been victimized by US soldiers (supposedly defending our freedoms) surely have a different take on all this and may sometimes be tempted to wonder what kind of people are these that would let their young be so easily used to commit such unspeakable acts.

November 11 the original Armistice Day, was meant to be a day for reflection and remembrance of how savage, barbaric and ghastly war could be. It was set aside to glory in and admire peace.

Those who fought in WWI were simply sicced on one another, they had no previous grievances, all of the participants shared the same lot in life. They worked for a living and had all been either at the mercy of the earth, as they sought to tame it to feed themselves or were at the mercy of the industrialists, who also had to be softened to assure that workers could eat and enjoy a little of the produce of their sweat.

US president Woodrow Wilson said when pronouncing the holiday in the US in 1919, “in America the reflections of Armistice Day [is significant] because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

The point of the observation was to renunciate war once and for all. Of course because of the ravenous appetite of global capitalism it was inevitable that the carnage be repeated in the form of World War Two and with a vengeance.

Soldiers from WWI have been recorded as saying they heard the voice of God when hostilities ceased.

Years ago those opposed to the Iraq War naively chanted at anti-war protests, “Peace is patriotic.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Peace and advocates of peace are not seen as patriotic but “problematic” by those who seek to tame and conquer the world for the sake of profit, by any means necessary.

Next Veterans Day we should honor those who have suffered and or served by doing all we can to bring about peace, even if that means ushering in a system designed to do just that, because this system is not designed for peace. And we should honor the holiday by telling the truth and cease offering up our young as cannon fodder to those who barely look out for their welfare at home.

justice then peace

Hurricane Matthew be damned US government again deporting Haitian refugees


The Republican president elect Donald Trump, no rather the Democratic administration of the Black American Barack Hussein Obama in a very callous and cold hearted move, has ordered the deportation of Haitian asylum seekers to the island in which nearly a thousand died and a million have been displaced by Hurricane Matthew, which tore through the south eastern part of the country less than 40 days ago.

Making matters worse, Haiti has been hit by torrential rains which is stalling clean up and adding more flooding to the already devastated landscape.

Haiti incidentally was still recovering from an earthquake in 2010, one in which US and European NGO’s exploited to line their own pockets while little of the estimated billions actually went to the Haitian people.

According to a Miami Herald article this week written by Jacqueline Charles entitled, “U.S. government quietly resumes deportations to Haiti” the US began shipping Haitians back last Thursday and it was hidden in the midst of the excitement around the US presidential election.

The US had stopped deporting Haitians who arrived here illegally after the 2010 earthquake and had even granted most asylum seekers temporary protective status. Before that US policy appeared somewhat racist as it allowed Cubans leaving Cuba (who were predominantly white) to stay and acquire citizenship but automatically deported the black Haitians.

But in late September US policy changed again and the US resumed deporting Haitian immigrants after Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson claimed “the situation in Haiti has improved sufficiently.” Of course at the time of that announcement it was not clear what measuring stick the US was using to declare that the situation in Haiti had, “improved sufficiently.”

When the storm hit, the US again suspended its policy because how could they send Haitians back into the chaos the storm created.

But with all the heartlessness it could muster the US government, has done just that. A little more than a month after yet another disaster it proved to be in a rush to yet again deport human beings from this Black island back to certain chaos.

“It’s completely outrageous given the devastation Hurricane Matthew caused and the inability of Haiti to receive deportees,” said Steven Forester, a longtime activist in South Florida’s Haitian community, who was quoted in the article. “The only thing that has changed in Haiti is that the vast devastation affecting two million people in Haiti is no longer in the headlines.”

“No matter which way they do it, it’s wrong and goes against every humanitarian impulse that we as Americans share,” said Attorney Randy McGrorty, executive director of Catholic Legal Services who was quoted in the Herald article.“ It’s very shameful.”

Shameful indeed, but is it really against the American humanitarian impulse? US citizens for the most part are good people, but they have also shown a great capacity for nativism, that is to care much more about themselves or other countries that share similar ethnic makeup.

During the summer’s election hoopla scarcely a word of solidarity was issued about the bombings that occurred in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iraq while French flags were waved when bombings happened there.

Pierre Esperance, executive director of Haiti based rights organization,the National Network Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH) was quoted in the Herald article saying the resumption of the flights was “unacceptable.” “Frankly, the American government isn’t showing solidarity with Haiti….now is not the moment to start repatriating people,” he said. Exactly.

Coincidentally, the people in charge of making this heartless decision about a Black country are Black as well. US Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is  an African American. The ancestors of US slaves surely didn’t struggle to be free from slavery, Jim Crow segregation (North and South) and institutional racism and injustice in general to see progress that includes Black people in high places, who behave the same as others in high places have behaved. They held out hope that Black people would be the conscience of America a role that Blacks once admirably played.

Hopefully Americans of all races will be outraged by this news and rally, write letters, petition and protest around the country to denounce such a heartless move by the Obama administration.

justice then peace

Election reflection: Stop the sky is not falling (it already was)

Demonstration against G8 Summit in Le Havre

Donald Trump’s election has people (many of whom are not usually prone to desperation but thoughtful analysis) giving in to despair, hopelessness and the blame game. Somebody tried blaming the revolutionaries, the Russians, the rednecks and even their cat for the Trump win.
Some said this is what happens cause they shut out Bernie. But if Bernie was really for us he would have run as one of us and not as one of them a damned Democratic party loyalist.
Don’t blame the brother on the street who didn’t vote, don’t blame the third party candidates. Place the blame where it belongs on the system, which orchestrated this charade in the first place. And some blame should be place on ourselves for thinking that anybody but us is going to save us.
No this is what happens when people continue to pretend that a party dedicated to the advance and maintenance of US Imperialism is going to save us.
And trust me the nativists,xenophobes, Islamaphobes, homophobes, racist, and sexist Neanderthals will get their comeuppance when they find out real soon that hate don’t warm nobody’s belly. Hatred,ignorance and stupidity won’t put a single piece of meat or vegetable on their plate. They too are in for a rude awakening. Their billionaire hero isn’t known for his fair treatment of the working class.Wait til they figure out that Trump and his people see them as no more than “po” Crackers, hillbillies and rednecks in a word: suckers.
And what do you expect from these poor folks who have been mis-educated and misled and fed a constant diet of White supremacy and patriarchy? Everything that ever was or ever will be, was manifested by and for White people, the sun (according to what they have been taught) rises and sets on their pale carcasses. And how can we forget this society literally hates women!
Add to that a regular diet of right wing propaganda FOX NEWS, CNN (yes CNN too) the obese fella and the other right wing radio and internet talking heads, who incidentally get rich propagandizing poor folks against their own interests.
People are disappointed and disillusioned. But they shouldn’t be, it was a Democratic administration that watched as my Indian Brothers and Sisters were roughed up on Standing Rock. Its head man Barack Obama patronizes us as his bodies of armed men and women shoot us down in the street. He hands out token paroles while a whole percentage of our population rots away in their stinking gulags. And we act like there is a “worse.”
Last night some folks slept in the streets, not because there aren’t resources because we agree with the rich and greedy that that’s how it should be. The Democrats under Obama continued the wars and the killing and the damned droning and the torturing and we have been silent about it because we don’t care about Brown Muslims either, while crying that things are going to get “worse.”
In the meantime the US led by our Democrat “friends” partnered with its sworn enemy Al Quaeda and creates ISIS. It was the Democrats whose president was the first to kill a US citizen (al -Awlaki) and his 16 year old son. It was the Obama administration that bailed out the Big Banks.
Nationally, some of my Muslim brothers and sisters are crying all over twitter, revealing they really don’t know who they are living among since they JUST got scared. They should have been scared the day before yesterday.
The liberal pundits and talking heads had nothing to offer but fear and trembling. Shaun King actually predicted,” people will be ripped from their homes,” maybe he doesn’t know that the Obama administration set records for ripping immigrant parents from their children. It happens everyday in the US. “People will be made to feel like strangers in their own homes,”he said. Where has King been? I know a lot of folks who feel like that all the time. In fact Black people have generally been made to feel like that since they were set free from slavery.
Van Jones has so little confidence in our (regular folks) ability to change our conditions that he was blubbering on CNN like a fifth grader asking, “How does he explain it to his children.” Tell them the truth.
Tell them the whole damned painful truth. And that is this filthy, rotten, low down, trifling, evil, good for nothing system was never designed to give us what we want peace, justice, equality, fair play fair pay equal pay a quality public education, decent and affordable housing for all, real universal healthcare….
We have to stop kidding ourselves; the pants suit wearing, cheating husband having, Haitian earthquake fund stealing, welfare denying, black children hating, militaristic (“e came we saw he died”) email denying, lying Hilary Clinton wasn’t going to save us.
Malcolm X once said, the present American “system” can never produce freedom or justice for the Black man/woman [or anybody else]. A chicken cannot lay a duck egg because the chicken’s “system” is not designed or equipped to produce a duck egg. In order for a chicken to produce a duck egg its system would have to undergo a drastic and painful change…or REVOLUTION.”
We have to stop messing around, stop being INDIVIDUALS, give up our bribes and build our own party, educate ourselves about this system, organize and mobilize a fight back every time an injustice raises its ugly head.
Discipline will be required. Dedicated study will be required. We will have to live simpler, need less and want more for others.
We know deep in our hearts what is required to save ourselves, creation and ultimately humanity. And everybody knows what that is (yes you do). The prophets have told us. But this won’t happen by pointing fingers, despairing or whining, we have to muster the guts to organize and do what needs to be done to literally save the world and the planet.
“We have nothing to lose but our chains”
justice then peace


Election 2016: the Eve of Destruction


All the hand-wringing and conversation around this election plays into the hands of the power structure. Change, real change for the better in the US has never come through the ballot box. Real change comes from the streets not the presidential suites.

As someone once said, “if voting changed anything they would make it illegal.” The truth is on November 9 despite all the fear-mongering by the Democrats and the Republicans most of us working class folks will still be looking for real change.

Of course the fix is in!

The next president will not be your neighbor Sister Sara who makes sure that nobody in the neighborhood goes hungry or Brother Hassan who visits everybody that he knows is sick, or Sister Debra who volunteers at the school tutoring kids who are struggling in Math. It won’t be Sister Darlene who cries at the site of a neighbor strung out on drugs. It won’t be the strike captain that makes sure everyone is taken care of while they are fighting to get their fair share from the greedy bosses. It won’t be a sisters or brothers (note Sister and Brother is a designation for any human being who acts like one) who have committed their lives to fighting injustice. It won’t be Coach Wilson who spends his own money making sure the kids in his youth football program get a meal after practice.

So should folks refrain from voting? Not necessarily, but if you are going to vote for what you want!

If your kid needs milk you don’t come home with vinegar because “those were the only choices” on the shelf you keep shopping until you find milk. In that vein maybe if folks voted for what they REALLY wanted they might get it; maybe not now, but eventually.

Consequently the leftists, the Socialists, the revolutionaries the real progressives of generations ago and currently are were right to use elections to push their programs of equality and egalitarianism. They used to be called symbolic campaigns, supported supposedly by protest voters.

However, there is no such thing as a protest vote, the very idea is oxymoronic. Either you have the right to vote, or you don’t.

Supposedly the idea of voting is to choose what you want to see in your locale your State and the federal government. Ideally that means choosing a platform a list of things that one wants to see implemented and chose those people who are going to work to see they are implemented.

This runs counter to those who say vote just because. We ought to not be so critical of those who sit out the vote they because they are being honest and they have sense enough to know that the game is rigged and that rich folks who call themselves Democrats or Republicans aren’t really going to represent us regular folks.

Many of us vote so we can appear to be important, to be part of the game, one of the big people. So we go along with their charade, their game, their hustle, because it makes us feel like we are a part of something, we had a hand in our democracy Bigger lies have seldom been told.

A young lady working an early voting booth asked people if they had come to vote so enthusiastically that she almost convinced me that all my worries about the ruling class privatizing Social Security or continuing their fake War on Terror or the high unemployment rate in my Black neighborhood would be alleviated.

What this concentrated six months of bourgeoisie noise accomplished was keeping us distracted from what we can do and what we can affect and that is the ability to organize. November 9 will come as a relief because we and Black people especially can go back to organizing and doing for self and we can once and for all give up the illusion that because someone looks like them they are going to go to bat for them.

Today is looked on by some ominously as if they/we are on the eve of destruction.

But many of us are already all but on the edge of destruction. No matter which way the vote swings little poor children will not be receiving a quality public education, some young Black men will seek to kill one another because of the color of their clothes, West Chicago, South Baltimore, Camden, East St Louis and tons of other ghetto’s will still be in existence.

Blood will be spilled for oil and we will be told it’s a war against terror by the STATE terrorists themselves. Someone’s children will go to school from a homeless shelter or the streets, someone’s child will be found with a needle in their arm, another’s daughter will be laughed at by rape culture, the iron bars will close behind somebody’s child who was smoking a joint to get some relief from this so-called shangri-La, somebody’s Momma will be shoveling dirt on their child’s grave who was victimized by the armed bodies of men licensed to kill. The pipelines will be built, forests will be cut down, minerals will be unearthed no matter the cost and the polar ice caps will continue to melt…..

“Though I walk through the Valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil…” because when all the bourgeois noise and distractions are over which is what that this election really is, we are left with our mouths, our brains, our hands, our pens, and our feet and the knowledge that we can organize!

justice then peace

Oregon, Standing Rock and Manifest Destiny


The treatment of the Oregon occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon protesters and the Standing Rock protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) by the US government, again highlight the double standard when it comes to the treatment of colored folks and whites. But at the heart of the different responses to the protests (one is pandered to and the other is violently resisted) they share in common something equally sinister profiteering.

Oregon at bottom is about exploiting of public property for private profit and the DAPL is about exploiting the environment (no matter the cost to the environment, in this case the Standing Rock water supply) for private profit.

Ammon Bundy and his crew were found not guilty of federal conspiracy charges last week by a jury of their peers. In a move similar to the state of Florida’s thrown case against George Zimmerman, which allowed him to get away without answering for his killing of Trayvon Martin, the US government threw the case. Much like the Martin case the government overcharged the seven Oregon occupiers and put on a half-hearted prosecution. Half- hearted because the government’s heart wasn’t invested in convicting a group of mislead dupes who in affect are doing its bidding and that of its corporate and finance partners.

In other words it’s the Settlers vs the Indians all over again. The US ruling class won’t be satisfied until all Native and now federal land is in the hands of the profiteers, in this case the logging, coal, mineral and gas industries who simply see the environment as something to exploit for money making.

The Bundy’s and their ilk were protesting government control of Western land; period Initially they were said to be defending a rancher family the Hammonds who had been convicted of starting fires on federal land. But that was used as cover by Ammon Bundy and his brother and the assortment of right wing militia and patriot and White Supremacists who gathered with them at the reserve in Burn, Oregon.

The Bundy’s are playing the part of new Settlers who invade federal land and Indian protected lands, pick a fight with the government and try to gain sympathy for the cause which they hope will eventually effect government policy.

In this case they want the federal lands ceded to the States. The Bundy’s are part of the “Free the Lands” movement which is partly funded by the Koch brothers those notorious rich brothers who consistently work on changing public policy to fit their money making schemes. In this case they want to open federal lands so they can deforest them and make money logging with its new acquisition Georgia Pacific.

So far there has been little support for the idea. Westerners don’t support it and studies conducted by States examining the idea have found the costs of maintaining the lands prohibitive.

Ironically, the occupiers want the government to give them something which didn’t belong to the government in the first place, but was literally stolen by their ancestors and the US government from western Native tribes.

Bundy a devout Mormon alleges that “god” told him to take over the Muellar reserve, but in reality it was a Higher Power “corporate greed” that has been whispering in his ear.

And what’s the deal with White people who claim to be close to god but hate God’s people especially if they are colored? Bundy in a New York Times interview after his escapade in 2014 wondered out loud about “the Negro,” “are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy?”

So add to the mix White Supremacy, Manifest Destiny ( the religious inspired right of the settlers the White folks to take anything that belongs to Colored people’s hell even the Colored folks themselves) and the profit motive and it’s not difficult to understand why the Settlers were let go and the Indians were arrested and overcharged after being attacked by two legged dogs driving military vehicles wearing riot gear armed to the teeth who proceeded to mace, beat, fire rubber bullets, and sic four legged dogs on peaceful protestors, seeking to protect the Standing Rock water supply.

Incidentally, the original pipeline was re-routed to run adjacent to Indian land, water supply and sacred sites after the predominantly White city of Bismarck, ND complained that the it was being built too close to its water supply. Apparently when considering another route the same concern was not afforded the Indians. After all it’s okay to pollute colored folks water (think Flint)..

The disparate treatment of the two protests reveals that those who run this country after all this time still have no respect for Indians their culture or their land. They have but one god: money one motivating principle the profit motive. They won’t stop their drive to exploit and subdue the earth and all its resources until they are resisted, by words or blows or both.

justice then peace