Category Archives: National

Florida GOP Try to Halt Felon Voting

Florida conservatives have attempted to limit the reach of Amendment 4 which granted individuals convicted of a felon to vote.

Florida conservatives have attempted to limit the reach of the progressive Amendment 4 which restored the voting rights of individuals convicted of a felon.

By Free Radical 

One of the silver linings of Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum ‘s loss to Republican Ron DeSantis was that voters still approved Amendment 4 which restored voting privileges to individuals who were convicted of a felon. Many onlookers had even hoped that this Florida model could be replicated across the country. Nonetheless, to their chagrin, the state’s conservatives are attempting to limit the statute’s reach.

On Tuesday, the Florida House passed the Criminal Justice Committee bill which will require individuals who have been convicted of a felon to first pay all “financial obligations” before voting. This includes court fines, fees, and civil case settlements. Before Tuesday’s bill, people convicted of felons only had to pay restitution to the victim of their crime before voting.

“It’s blatantly unconstitutional as a poll tax,” Democratic Florida Rep. Adam Hattersley told local reporters.

Perhaps these developments should not come as a surprise. Many observers figured that Andrew Gillum would have won if Amendment 4 was passed. Not surprisingly, the eventual gubernatorial victor DeSantis advised against the implementation of the referendum before certain provisions were clarified.

Kirk Bailey of the Florida ACLU reasoned that Tuesday’s bill was “overbroad, vague, [and] thwarts the will of the people … This is exactly what we were worried about from the beginning.”

He added that the bill conjures up decades past when financial obstacles were established to stunt voting rights and “will inevitably prevent individuals from voting based on the size of one’s bank account.”

The Florida Senate will review a similar bill and if passed, each chamber will have to settle on a common piece of legislation to be signed by the governor.

Evers Home to Become National Monument

The Evers family on their wedding day.

The Evers family on their wedding day.

By Free Radical

The Jackson, Mississippi home of Medgar and Myrlie Evers became a federally recognized national monument this past Tuesday. The site served as both a home and a headquarters for this married couple of revered freedom fighters.

Medgar Evers was a central figure in the heroic civil rights struggle in Mississippi and became one of the leading figures in the national movement to end decades of Jim Crow racism. As early as 1954, Medgar attempted to desegregate the University of Mississippi. Though he was unsuccessful, he helped James Meredith, who became the first Black student to attend the college eight years later.

Medgar gained greater acclaim as the field secretary for the entire state of Mississippi. With this position, he maintained a demanding schedule which included the investigation of murders of African-Americans, developing new NAACP chapters, and boycotts of white merchants who practiced segregation. His work also attracted the attention of White supremacists who enacted a virulent campaign to threaten him. These threats became real when he was assassinated by avowed racist Byron  De La Beckwith in his driveway while returning home in 1963. Not until nearly three decades later would De La Beckwith be convicted of Evers’s murder in 1994.

Myrlie Evers had long spearheaded the struggle seeking justice for her husband’s murder. Yet she was also a celebrated freedom fighter in her own right. She was selected to head the NAACP in 1995.

The Evers home is currently managed by Jackson based HBCU Tougaloo College. The family donated the home to the school so that it could organize tours and handle its upkeep in 1993. The home was designated a national landmark in 2016. With its new status as a national monument, the home can be made accessible to even more visitors.

Minnie White Watson, who has curated the home since 1997, and was once mentored by the Evers family, believes that the federal government “can afford to do things that possibly we could never do.” The home is in need of a parking lot and bathrooms according to her.

While the home’s new national monument status is a a cause for celebration, it has also sparked controversy. Through Twitter, the Republican Mississippi Governor, Phil Bryant, thanked President Donald Trump, and the the state’s two GOP Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith for making the Evers home a national monument. Hyde-Smith gained infamy in recent months when during her Senate campaign against her African-American opponent, Mike Espy, she remarked that she would have no problem attending a public hanging. Mississippi was notorious for lynchings of Black men, very similar to the slaying of Medgar Evers.

Senators Hyde-Smith, Wicker, and Governor Bryantogave their support to making the Evers home a national monument only recently. However, U.S. Representative Bennie Thompson, who also hails from Mississippi, had been advocating that the Evers home become a national monument for nearly two decades. Bryant failed to acknowledge Thompson’s pioneering work in any public address.

This omission greatly upset Karen Bass, who chairs the Black Congressional Caucus. In speaking with reporters about Governor Bryant’s remarks, she noted, “There is no way in the world that he should not have acknowledged the decades of work that Congressman Bennie Thompson has put in. So for him to specifically ignore him is really just an example of his pettiness.”

These sentiments were shared by Myrlie Evers. In a radio interview, she fumed, “And how dare anyone on my husband’s life and his death take claim for something that they were just the opposite of. I’m incensed, Joe. My daughter told me, ‘Mom, be calm, be cool.’ I will be darned if I can be calm and cool. … I can’t be calm, I can’t be still, I can’t be quiet.”

No Charges for Police Who Killed Stephon Clark

By Free Radical

Stephon Clark and his children.

Stephon Clark and his children. The two officers who killed Clark were not charged by the Sacramento DA.

On Saturday, Sacramento District Attorney Anne-Marie Schubert announces that she would not indict the two police officers who shot and killed Stephon Clark. Clark, a 22 year old Black Sacramento resident, was killed by two police officers in his grandmother’s backyard on March 18, 2018. The two officers, Jared Robinet and Terrence Mercadal, who are White, claimed that they believed that Clark had a gun when they encountered him. After killing him, and failing to conduct any life saving measures, they came to find out what they believed was a gun, was actually a cellphone.

Despite this revelation, Sacramento County District Attorney Schubert’s press conference focused on the events leading up to the deadly shooting. She mentioned that the officers responded to a call of someone committing vandalism, which DNA evidence suggested it was Clark who committed these acts. Schubert also used cellphone records and internet searches to show that Clark had committed acts of domestic violence and had issues with mental health. Particularly, he threatened to kill himself.

Sequette Clark, Stephon’s mother said that these revelations were immaterial. “What matters is how those officers came with lethal force around a corner, on a vandalism call, after my son and gunned him down — when he had nothing but a cellphone in his hand.”

Observers also pointed out that police officers Robinet and Mercadal were not aware of Clark’s history when they shot at him twenty times, hitting him with seven bullets.

Quenta Givens, a neighbor of Clark’s grandmother, said, “I feel like she was charging him with his own murder.” She continued, “Why are we judging him? He’s already been killed. We should be judging the cops — that’s who did it!”

The investigation that led to the DA’s decision was completed by the Sacramento Police Department in October.

An internal review of Robinet and Mercadal’s actions and if they are firable offenses are ongoing.

While California’s attorney general will also review the case, other state officials have pledged reform in the wake of the Clark decision. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg expressed, “I will use my influence, my time, and my experience as a former legislative leader to help the parties change the standard to better protect both the community and our officers.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom acknowledged the need for “systemic reform” and “the hard truth — our criminal justice system treats young black and Latino men and women differently than their white counterparts.”

Kamala Harris, a US Senator who hails from the state and who is running for president tweeted, “Today’s news is a tragic and all too painful reminder that our criminal justice system is deeply flawed and lacks accountability. Our fight for justice continues.”

Presidential Candidate Harris Supports Reparations

By Malcolm Speaks

In a recent interview, Senator Kamala Harris showed support for reparations for African-Americans.

In a recent interview, Senator Kamala Harris showed support for reparations for African-Americans.

Senator Kamala Harris of California and 2020 presidential candidate recently stated in an interview that she supports reparations for African-Americans.

In an interview with “The Breakfast Club” radio show, Senator Harris said she was in favor of some form of government reparations for African-Americans.

When asked about her position on reparations, Senator Harris said: “I think that we have got to address that again. It’s back to the inequities.”

“America has a history of 200 years of slavery. We had Jim Crow. We had legal segregation in America for a very long time,” she said. “We have got to recognize, back to that earlier point, people aren’t starting out on the same base in terms of their ability to succeed and so we have got to recognize that and give people a lift up.”

The senator then spoke about her Livable Incomes for Families Today, the Middle Class Act tax cut plan that would provide middle class and working families with a tax credit of up to $6,000 a year, or $500 a month, to address the rising cost of living in the U.S. as an example of how inequity can be addressed.

When asked if her comments mean that she is “for some type of reparations,” Senator Harris responded, “Yes, I am. Yes I am.”

The California Senator also showed support for reparations in a statement to The New York Times when she said “We have to be honest that people in this country do not start from the same place or have access to the same opportunities.”

“I’m serious about taking an approach that would change policies and structures and make real investments in black communities,” she said.

During her interview with “The Breakfast Club,” Harris also said “there is no question” that the criminal justice system is “deeply flawed” and that “there is systemic racism in the system.”

“We have a problem with mass incarceration in particular of Black and Brown men,” she said.

She also spoke about police brutality against black people: “There is no question that no mother or father in America should have to sit down when their son turns 12 and start having the talk with that child about how he may be stopped, arrested, or killed because of the color of his skin.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren has also expressed support for a form of federal reparations in the form of special home-buying assistance to U.S. residents who are affected by “redlining” in poor and nonwhite areas, according to The New York Times. The senator also announced a Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act this past week, which can also assist “minorities” that are affected by limited access to early childhood services.