Two Jamaica-raised baristas at the newly opened Starbucks in Jamaica, David Merrick and Nigel Armstrong, who met barely a month ago but have already branded themselves the “dynamic duo,” are excited the store will offer job training for youth in the community.
Starbucks held a preview opening for its new store at 89-02 Sutphin Blvd. Monday, the first of at least 15 stores that will open throughout the United States to hire and train youth in diverse and urban communities. The store officially opened Tuesday at 6 a.m.
The store includes an onsite classroom space available to local nonprofit organizations to provide job training and skills building programs for young people in the area.
It is part of the chain’s goal of hiring 10,000 opportunity youth, 16- to 24-year-old individuals who are not in school and not employed.
Merrick, 23, who volunteers for LIFE Camp founded by Erica Ford, said the initiative will give kids an alternative study spot to the library and keep them occupied.
“Honestly, I feel like it’s a good thing because as a kid, you kind of don’t learn what’s going on at a young age,” he said. “So this is definitely a way to get kids at 16 and 17 off the streets and actually introducing them into the workforce and the work environment.”
For Armstrong, 20, the store will be a “home away from home” for kids in the area.
“I know they’re going to have a lot of youth coming in and out of here, so to make that connection with them is going to be really big,” he said. “I feel like they’re going to be looking to us for guidance. I feel like it’s going to be really big for us and for the youth.”
Alisha Wrencher, the store manager, who has worked for Starbucks for 18 years and was born and raised in Jamaica, handpicked all 17 employees, who range in age from 16 to 36 and hail from Brooklyn, parts of Queens and Jamaica in the Caribbean.
“I know how much this store can do to create a brighter future for our opportunity youth and am honored that Starbucks chose me to lead this new store,” Wrencher said.
Borough President Katz, who has launched the Jamaica Now Action Plan to revitalize Jamaica, praised the selection of the borough as the beta site.
“We understand that this is a prototype for the rest of the nation, but just to be clear: It started in Queens,” Katz said, her words met with applause from the crowd.
Starbucks has partnered with the Queens Community House, Queens Connect’s lead agency, and YMCA’s Y Roads Centers, which will be utilizing a dedicated training space within the store specially created by the Starbucks design studio.
The Jamaica store is the first in a nationwide initiative Starbucks announced last year to deepen investments in at least 15 similar U.S. communities by 2018 by opening stores with the goal of creating new jobs and engaging local women and minority-owned vendors and suppliers. The next location will be in the West Florissant neighborhood of Ferguson, Mo.
“One of the things that we’ve learned over the time is that we can’t do it alone,” said Rodney Hines, director of community investments for Starbucks retail operations.
Candice Cadogan, a Brooklyn-born barista raised in Cambria Heights, and Jermaine Slater, a newly promoted shift superviser who was born in Jamaica in the Caribbean and raised in Jamaica, led a coffee tasting for Guatemala Finca Monte David, one of their small batch Reserve coffees.
The article was originally published in the TimesLedger Newspapers.
The Grant Agreement was signed on behalf of the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt by the Minister of International Cooperation and on behalf of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development by Mr. Abdulwahab Al-Bader, Director-General of the Fund. Photo Credit: Kuwait Fund
A Grant Agreement was signed today in Cairo between the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, whereby the Kuwait Fund provide a Grant in the amount of US$ 20 Million to help finance projects aimed at relieving socio-economic impacts in the education sector within Egyptian host communities of Syrian refugees.
The Grant Agreement was signed on behalf of the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt by Her Excellency Dr. Sahar Ahmed Mohamed Abdel Moniem Nasar, Minister of International Cooperation on behalf of the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt, and signed on behalf of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development by Mr. Abdulwahab Al-Bader, Director-General of the Fund.
The Projects aim to address the education needs of Syrian refugees in host communities in the Arab Republic of Egypt, by raising the level of educational services provided to them, by supporting projects in the educational buildings sector, to ensure the continuity of providing the required education services in the areas where there is a concentration of refugees.
The Projects consist of the construction and equipping of about 30 schools with multiple educational stages in the Provinces of Cairo, Geza, Alexandria, Demyat, Deghaliyah and Sharquiah. The Projects are expected to start at the beginning of Year 2016, and to be finished before mid-Year 2017.
The total cost of the Projects is estimated at about US$ 20 million and the Kuwait Fund Grant will cover 100% of the cost.
It is worth mentioning that the number of development finance extended by the Kuwait Fund are 40 loans to the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt or to public entities in the Arab Republic of Egypt with a total amount of about KD 721 million (equivalent to about US$ 2.4 billion). The Fund has also provided Egypt with ten technical assistance and other grants with a total amount of about KD 2.983 million (equivalent to about US$ 9.8 million) allocated for financing technical and economic feasibility studies for certain projects and financing other activities. Kuwait Fund also administered two grants provided by the Government of the State of Kuwait to the Arab Republic of Egypt, amounting in total to about KD 4.8 million (equivalent to about US$16.8 million) for the purpose of reconstruction of some schools that were affected by the earthquake in 1992, and the reconstruction of some villages that were damaged by floods in 1995.
Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development in Kuwait City is AllAfrica.com’s premium partner.
The press released was published on AllAfrica.com.
So, there really was no need — no need at all — for The Fix to weigh in on the mushrooming controversy about this year’s crop of all-white Oscar nominees.
This is interesting and arguably important cultural news — not politics, per se. But it became political when the actress and Fox News commentator Stacey Dash decided to share her views on it. Then, while she was at it, Dash decided to tell millions of people that the celebration of Black History Month and the very existence of the cable entertainment network, BET, are counterproductive and perhaps even racist endeavors, that should be ended.
Just to be clear, this is what Dash said:
We have to make up our minds. Either we want to have segregation or integration. If we don’t want segregation, then we need to get rid of channels like BET and the BET Awards and the [NAACP] Image Awards, where you are only awarded if you are black. If it were the other way around we would be up in arms. It’s a double standard. Just like there shouldn’t be a Black History Month. You know, we’re Americans, period. That’s it.
Dash has a right to her opinion. She has a right to express it where she wishes. And we also have a right to point out that, on both the facts and the philosophy behind them, she is just about dead-wrong in ways that matter far from the entertainment news page.
Dash’s comments — part and parcel of a set of widely deployed but utterly false equivalencies — are essentially repeated, with some modifications, somewhere in America every day. They form a portion of almost any discussion of race on and in conservative media outlets. They come up at public events as if they are really novel and grave philosophical questions. And, because this pseudo-intellectual gobbledygook is so widely believed, they are ideas that really shape our politics and all too often linger in the background of horrible news events.
And, of course, on Wednesday we saw just how quickly Dash’s ideas leaped from her mind to the Fox News audience to the loudest bullhorn in all the land: Donald Trump. Trump repeated Dash’s sentiments in a Wednesday television interview.
Now, there are just a few problems.
First off, Dash got her facts plain wrong.
The BET Awards, hosted by Black Entertainment Television (BET) since 2000, aim to recognize talent in whatever shape, form or racial and ethnic package, particularly that which may not be celebrated elsewhere. And in the 15 years since the awards were created, white artists, actors, technicians and entertainers of all races and ethnicities have been nominated and won BET Awards. Most have been black, but certainly, really, not all.
To get specific, a quick look at the names of nominees for BET Awards since 2012 and the count of non-black artists nominated approaches two dozen. And that, again, is just the last three years. The same can be said about other years and BET Award winners.
And BET’s non-awards programming — while reasonable fodder for other critiques, I would say — also by the way includes white, black, Latino and Asian actors. Doubt that? Take a look at the cast list for shows such at “The Game,” “Being Mary Jane” and others. We could go on.
Finally, while the NAACP Image Awards were created in 1967 to recognize the “outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts, as well as those individuals or groups who promote social justice through their creative endeavors,” there is nothing about that criteria, the list of nominees or award winners since that must be or is all-black.
In that list of nearly two dozen non-black people nominated for BET Awards are people like Justin Timberlake, Iggy Azalea and others. Singer Sam Smith won a BET Award last year (that story is interesting for other reasons too). Latina actresses America Ferrera and Sophia Vergara have each been nominated for NAACP Image awards four times. White actresses Dakota Fanning and Sandra Bullock have also been nominated. Angelina Jolie has also received more than one Image award nomination. And, little people like Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Carlos Santana, Bono, Al Gore and Smith have all won NAACP Image Awards too. That’s all true.
BET exists in part because networks like MTV refused to air music videos created by black artists. Something similar can be said about the still-apparent reluctance of the Academy — the trade group behind the Oscars — to meaningfully diversify, and the many studios, producers and directors in control of content or the performances ultimately considered for a golden statue. And we can look to Oscar’s long history, its nominee list and a rundown of past winners to prove that too.
Sally Stiebel and Mark Ein attend the BET Honors 2012 Pre-Honors dinner at the Corcoran Gallery of Art on January 13, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)
So those are the facts. Now what about the broader social and political philosophy embedded in Dash’s comments? Think on this for just a moment, because the following list is also connected to Dash’s jumbled ideas.
How often have you heard some person express somewhere the notion that white Americans aren’t allowed to name an organization, a school, an event, a place “the white” anything? For these people the tyranny of political correctness makes such a thing impossible.
How often have you heard that racial and ethnic minorities are, unfairly, free to do just the opposite, subjecting white Americans to a kind of ceaseless, in-your-face reverse bigotry and themselves to a type of elected segregation each day? How many times have you heard someone say that the very existence and name of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and any number of historically black colleges, universities and organizations represent a modern-day kind of racism which is bizarrely accepted because the people who benefit or are at the helm are not white? Finally, how many times have you heard someone say some version of this: “Where is/why can’t we have a ‘White History Month?'”
This is harsh, but it must be said. We don’t believe that anyone allowed to use the stove alone is actually that obtuse. This is only the kind of thing that a person can say after first deciding to willfully ignore or embrace half-truths and falsehoods concocted to distract or even displace the well-documented reasons that black organizations and institutions exist. And, you also have to be willing to ignore what they do and who they serve now. Further, to believe that white history, white contributions to the arts or anything else are ever neglected, rejected or omitted wholesale in any setting in the United States requires all of the same.
White Americans are the group with the longest and richest history of race-related violence, racial exclusion enforced by violence and intimidation and — even as of today — allowing all manner of major and essential social structures and services to remain substantially separate and unequal. White Americans have benefited from this system and still do today. Some more than others, to be sure, but, that’s the truth. And, maintaining these distances and benefits typically rank among the goals of those who seek to create exclusively white institutions, organizations and places today.
To put this really simply, the NAACP and the KKK are not the same. Black History Month and a white nationalist celebrations are quite different. They don’t do the same things. They don’t have the same goals, and they have not shaped America in the same ways. To pretend that such a thing is even close to true is to tell oneself a mighty set of mind-warping lies. It insults the bravery of the men and women — black and white, Latino, Asian and Native American — who did the work to secure hard-won bits of equality. It ultimately gives those who engage in this line of thinking cover to avoid truths about this country’s racial past and present. But that does not make it accurate.
Dash’s claims that the existence of Black History Month and things like BET, the BET Awards and the NAACP Image Awards are what impede American progress toward racial oneness lie somewhere between that school of thought and what her defenders will no doubt say is genuine hope. They will claim that Dash was expressing a sincere and well-intentioned wish that black culture, black art, black history, black life will take a place at the table with every other venerated, researched and carefully documented American thing. They will insist that, on its face, there is nothing at all wrong with that.
They will insist that should be a goal in a pluralistic and democratic society. They will ignore what is and talk about what should be. They will pretend that if black, Latino and Asian Americans just stopped talking about race and ethnicity and shuttered every institution and organization created to recognize, accept, educate, employ or empower them when no one else would, racism itself would somehow magically disappear.
Yes, for those who agree with Dash, racism will dissipate via the ultra-reliable route of denial.
What we can say about Dash — an actress best known for co-starring in the 1995 movie “Clueless,” a spin-off TV show and playing the female lead in a series of films and television shows marketed primarily to black audiences — is that she picked a mighty odd place to dive deep, given her own career history. Dash’s acting resume (click the link above) includes a multi-episode arc on a show called The Game. One of those episodes ran on BET after the show switched networks and BET essentially rescued it from cancellation.
The inaccurate information and false equivalencies she dispatched in that Fox News interview rest on Dash’s shoulders. She said them. But Fox also began making Dash a network regular, providing social and political commentary after the actress declared herself a Mitt Romney voter in 2012, was attacked for it online and later made some disparaging comments about President Obama. That appears to be about the sum total of Dash’s commentator credentials.
There are many well-informed black, Latino and Asian actors and actresses who may even share Dash’s views who could have been summoned to explain them without the factual problems and absurd equivalencies that riddled everything Dash said. They probably wouldn’t have expanded their view on what’s really an inside-the-entertainment-industry controversy to include so many other things or at least have been mindful of where and how they have earned their own living. And certainly, there are many, many black conservative historians, social and political scholars, former candidates, political consultants, pollsters and researchers who, at the very least, know something about American history and their own respective industries.
It’s really up to Fox News to answer this question: Why aren’t more of those people on air?
UPDATE: This post has been updated to include information about Dash’s role on a BET television program.
The article was published in the Washington Post’s The Fix.
While Africa has unanimously been pegged the new frontier, with foreigners from various parts of the world looking to see how they can cash in, they better keep their sights on African entrepreneurs, such as 27-year-old Fabienne Dervain (pictured), who is looking to compete head to head with outside competition.
With several top-tier American businesses, such as Uber and Facebook, expanding in to Africa, Starbucks announced that it would be joining the expansion last July.
And while coffee isn’t currently the beverage of choice for most Africans — even though it was discovered in Ethiopia during the 9th century — Starbucks is hoping to change that preference around.
However, before Starbucks can become the coffee of choice in Africa, Dervain, based in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, hopes she can beat them to it with her own homegrown coffee shops.
As the owner of Couleur Cafe (pictured), Dervain has seen her entrepreneurship dream turn into a reality.
“I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I didn’t know I would have been one so early.”
Dervain started her business with $60,500 of her personal savings and some family support.
In addition to opening the store, the funds helped her to purchase the heavy equipment needed for her enterprise as well as refurbishing.
And she is making headway.
While she initially began Couleur Cafe with one employee, now her business, which she says she invests 100 percent of her profits in to, has been able to add six more employees.
But as with any endeavor, establishing her business hasn’t been easy.
“Being a woman, young entrepreneur in this country is very difficult. People tend not to respect you, and people tend not to take you seriously.
“They think you are like an amateur or just joking and having fun.”
Still, Dervain refuses to allow gender and age discrimination to hold her back. In fact, she hopes her presence will inspire other females to get in to business.
“I definitely think I can be a role model to women, because I dared to start my business, and I’m here, I’m staying, and I’m going to develop my business.”
As for her future plans, Dervain is looking to expand her dream by giving her international competition a run for their money.
“I actually want to become the Starbucks of Africa. I have a big vision for the next five years.”
When you arrive in Europe for the first time, the first shock you get is seeing how overpopulated the place is, especially the western part.
A small country like France, which is five times smaller than the Democratic Republic of Congo, has about the same population – 67 million inhabitants. The UK is smaller than Gabon, but has a population of more than 60 million inhabitants, compared to Gabon’s population of just over 1.5 million. The worst example is a micro country like Belgium (just over 30000 km square, 167 times smaller than the Congo) which has a population of 11 million. That’s 365 people per km square, compared to the DRC’s rate of 30.
The first question you ask yourself is how they manage to feed themselves in a resource-poor continent like Europe? Why do they have so many kids when Europe is already the only continent to send more than half a billion economic and political refugees to other richer places of the world during the last five centuries? Is it because of the high fertility rate of their men or because of the cold weather which forces them to spend lots of time inside with only one activity left … copulation!
For many people concerned about overpopulation, Africa takes the centre of attention because of the recent growth of its population. But the concept of overpopulation is a fraud and a convenient ideology, because it ignores impact per capita (per one person) and focuses on simple numerics.
In reality, the USA consumes 25% of the world’s resources while its population is only 5% of the total. The west as a block – the USA and Europe – represents slightly less than 15% of the world’s population, but its consumption far outstrips most of the rest of the world, with one study finding that the US, Europe and Japan together suck up 80% of the world’s natural resources.
Africa, as a whole, has a population smaller than China, and a total GDP which is half that of a small country like France. Considering that it’s an already overpopulated continent, it’s surprising that many European countries give incentives to families to make more babies. And, for an already underpopulated continent, Africa is crowded with western overpopulation experts giving money to NGOs and governments to stop population growth. In the meantime, China is abandoning its one child policy to boost its population.
It is only in Africa that we talk about having population reduction funded by western NGOs and governments. Is it because Africa does not have resources to feed 2 billion people? No. It’s because some other nations want those resources for their own people instead.
I hope you won’t bite on this new covert war on the poor – another distraction from the real culprits. The world is overpopulated, so let’s have less rich people. That should be the real agenda.
Mawuna Remarque Koutonin is the editor of SiliconAfrica.com and a social activist for Africa Renaissance. Follow @siliconafrica on Twitter.
The America you dreamt of is an America you never conceived of.
You are officially black. In your country you were just you, no color attached to your identity, but now you are black. Stop saying I am Nigerian, I am Zimbabwean, or I am Kenyan. America doesn’t care about any of that, in America you are simply black. You will try to fight, deny, and resist every time someone calls you black. You resist your newly prescribed blackness because a ladder of racial hierarchy exists in America.
Sooner than later, you will realize your blackness puts you at the bottom of this ladder irrespective of the educational or financial status you acquire. Every rejection of your new found blackness will be an attempt to move away from the bottom of this ladder, to resist the label that the color of your skin has subjected you to. It takes some time getting used to, you know, this whole race and being black thing, but sooner that later you will understand America’s tribalism and you will learn to navigate through it.
People will hold stereotypes about you. Some might ask if you’ve lived on trees and or jungles and others won’t even ask, they’ll assume you did. Others will think your entire existence has been defined by hunger and poverty. In case you haven’t noticed you sound different, you do. And people will not fail to remind you of the obvious, your accent. Some may laugh and others will make you repeat words and sentences over and over again because they are unable to “understand.” You will be very confused and will think to yourself, “But I speak better English than you.” Despite all these, do not be ashamed of your identity. Don’t allow people’s ignorance harden your heart towards them. As much as you possibly can, dismantle these stereotypes by telling the other stories they haven’t been exposed to.
White Americans will say you are better than American blacks, but please do not fall for this trap. You will be told you behave better, work harder, and are more educated than American blacks. You will be tempted to agree and will sometimes want to shout, “YES, I’M NOT LIKE THEM, WE AFRICANS ARE DIFFERENT!” Just don’t…don’t even think it.
The praise of your acquired characteristic and culture becomes a justification for white Americans to perpetuate discriminatory treatments towards American blacks. These statements of praise have an underlying message of, “If Africans can do so well then surely racism has nothing to do with anything, therefore, American Blacks are to be blamed for their condition in America”. This problematic line of reasoning sustains cultural racism. I beg of you, refrain from nodding in agreement when you receive such faulty praise.
Navigating through America’s complex social construct is a process. The sooner you become conscious of the nuances involved, the better for Black America as a whole.
If 2014 was the year many people began asking hard questions about problems with policing, 2015 was the year we started getting answers that showed just how big these problems are.
Motivated by a series of high-profile killings of black males over the last half of 2014 — and particularly young victims like 18-year-old Michael Brown and 12-year-old Tamir Rice — the media spent much of 2015 focusing intently on the sorts of complaints that many poorer communities and communities of color had raised.
Incidents that may only have been covered locally in years past continued to get front-page treatment across the country in 2015, bringing with them broader implications for the overall state of law enforcement in the U.S. As a result, the nation got a closer look at the ways bad policing anywhere can corrode the public’s trust in the entire institution.
Perhaps most importantly, we realized just how little we had known about trends in police violence and misconduct. In the historic absence of federally collected data on many of the most harrowing statistics, outlets began their own tracking efforts. They came up with a number of reports about the size and scope of controversies in policing. Together, national and local reporting confirmed police departments in the U.S. suffer from a variety of systemic issues.
But we didn’t need statistics to see the disturbing patterns evident in the year’s most contentious cases. The facts in many police shootings remained sharply contested, long after prosecutors effectively ruled in favor of officers. Official statements sometimes conflicted with the evidence presented to the public. Time and time again, the public was left wondering how shootings that appeared avoidable or unnecessary could also be “justified.”
These controversies were further enflamed by a legal system that sometimes operates behind closed doors, asking the public simply to trust that justice was done. And it didn’t help that the entire process crawled along at a languid pace that in some cases appeared to be both a function of careful calculation and careless indifference.
While there is hope for incremental police reform heading into 2016, the legal foundations that allow officers and departments to uphold the status quo remain fully intact. To get a better sense of what, if anything, we can expect to change in the new year, here are some numbers from 2015 that you should keep in mind.
Because their list includes all manners of death, it counts people who died in police custody, or after being struck by stun guns or police cruisers, as well as those who were shot.
Black civilians were far more likely than people from any other race to be killed by police in 2015, with 6.87 deaths per million people. That’s more than two times the rate of Native Americans, the second most likely group, who were killed at a rate of 3.4 per million. The rate among whites was 2.84 deaths per million.
Police in California were involved in the most civilian deaths this year, killing 207 people, according to The Guardian. With the figures adjusted by population, New Mexico saw the highest rate of people dying at the hands of police.
Ninety of those — 88 men and 2 women — were unarmed. Eighteen of the unarmed civilians were Hispanic. With 36 unarmed black victims in 2015, black communities suffered a disproportionately high rate of police violence in this particularly troubling metric as well.
The Post also reported that the large majority of people who police shot and killed were either wielding weapons, experiencing a mental episode or threatening self-harm, or refusing officers’ orders. But in 60 percent of cases in which police fired upon civilians exhibiting what the Post calls “less threatening behavior,” the suspects were black or Hispanic.
For years, this was the closest figure to an official accounting of civilians killed by police. Now that we have more comprehensive data, it’s clear that using the FBI’s parameters — felons killed by officers in the line of duty — has likely led to a severe undercounting of this statistic.
The FBI announced plans earlier this month to improve its tracking of violent police encounters. By 2017, the agency says, it will be able to provide more information on incidents in which an officer causes serious injury or death to a civilian.
The number of days that passed before a prosecutor announced that officers would not face charges in the fatal police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty said Monday that a grand jury had determined that two officers were justified in driving up to Rice as he was playing with a toy gun at a park and shooting him within a matter of seconds.
The wait of more than 13 months attracted criticism from the family’s lawyers, who repeatedly accused the prosecution of deliberately stalling the case in order to come to a decision that wouldn’t hold the officers accountable for the shooting. While the prosecution waited to announce its final conclusion, it courted controversy by releasing a number of findings by independent experts who said they believed officers were justified in opening fire on Rice. The announcement came during the slow stretch between Christmas and New Year’s, meaning it’s safe to call this a news dump of significant proportions.
Beyond the inevitable questions about whether grand jury reached the correct decision, Rice’s case exposes a much broader problem with the often sluggish pace of the legal system responsible for bringing officers to justice in cases such as these.
The age of the youngest victim of a fatal police shooting this year. Jeremy Mardis, an autistic boy, was shot by Louisiana police in November.
Mardis was in the car with his father when Marksville city marshals Lt. Derrick Stafford, 32, and Norris Greenhouse Jr., 23, approached and opened fire, discharging at least 18 rounds. Police body camera footage of the incident showed Mardis’ father, who was also shot and critically wounded in the incident,with his hands raised at the time of the shooting, according to a lawyer for the family who had viewed the video.
The shooting drew attention to a small-town police force that has been plagued by problem officers, including Stafford and Greenhouse, who had both been named in a number of civil complaints. Other reports suggested there was an escalating turf war between two law enforcement departments in Marksville, and that the two officers may have been given more leeway to patrol the town and issue citations as a result.
Stafford and Greenhouse have been indicted on first-degree murder charges and remain in jail.
The number of shots fired at Walter Scott, a 50-year-old black man, as he ran away from North Charleston police officer Michael Slager following a traffic stop in April.
Police initially described the shooting, recorded by a bystander, as a response to a scuffle in which Scott had overpowered Slager and gotten control of the officer’s Taser. Slager feared for his life when he pulled the trigger, authorities said. The subsequent release of the video called this narrative into question and quickly led to Slager being charged with murder in the killing. He remains in jail.
The video was played over and over again online and on cable news, once again exposing the power of bystander footage to change the trajectory of a police shooting case — and leading to further concerns that the death of black people has become a spectacle in U.S. culture.
The number of officers charged this year with murder or manslaughter for their involvement in on-dutyshootings,according to Philip Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green State University who has researched police killings. This includes a number of officers who were charged for incidents that took place in previous years.
The average over the past decade has been closer to five officers charged each year, Stinson said. He believes the increasing presence of bystander video has played a role in the uptick this year.
Stinson, himself a former police officer, told HuffPost earlier this year that the increased attention being paid to police brutality may have also contributed to the rise in prosecution, though he added that it’s too early to tell whether 2015 will be a statistical outlier or an early indication of an upward trend. At any rate, he said a handful of charges likely wouldn’t eliminate skepticism about the general failure to prosecute police officers.
The number of officers convicted this year on murder or manslaughter charges stemming from on-duty incidents.
This serves as a reminder that 15 indictments only looks like progress given the overwhelming resistance to charging police officers — and that the few officers who do face serious charges for their involvement in police killings are rarely actually punished for their actions.
The number of fatal on-duty shooting incidents a single officer has been directly involved in over the course of his career, according to a Washington Post review of police shootings in 2015.
That officer, a sheriff’s deputy on a SWAT team in Broward County, Florida, pulled the trigger in three fatal shootings from 2009 to 2011. In June, he shot for a fourth time during a deadly confrontation with a suspected bank robber.
The Post reported that 55 of the officers who fatally shot civilians this year had previously fired their weapons in other deadly on-duty shootings. A number of others had been involved in two previous incidents.
Only one of the nation’s 60 largest cities went the entire year without a fatal police shooting, according to a report by Mapping Police Violence, a project headed by activists in the Black Lives Matter movement. That means 59 of the largest 60 cities saw law enforcement kill at least one civilian this year.
Police in Riverside, California, didn’t kill a single one of the city’s more than 300,000 residents in 2015. About 170 miles north, in Bakersfield, population 360,000, police were ranked the most lethal, killing at a rate of more than 13 people per million, more than three times the national average. They killed a total of five civilians this year.
A separate graph from Mapping Police Violence compares deadly police violence to overall levels of violent crime, and finds that there’s no correlation between the two numbers. This knocks down the popular argument that police are more likely to kill people in high-crime areas, ostensibly as a response to a threat posed by a suspect or other members of the community.
Among 27 large cities across the nation, only Albuquerque and New Orleans have finished equipping their officers with body cameras. The Justice Department had previously investigated both city police forces over allegations of civil rights violations by their officers.
Many U.S. cities of all sizes have begun to explore police body cameras as a tool for fostering transparency and accountability. The vast majority of departments currently find themselves in the planning stages of their programs, however. Some are still waiting for funding, comparing different devices or testing the use of cameras with a small portion of their officers before rolling out the equipment more widely.
While police and the public tend to agree that body cameras are a good first step toward rebuilding trust between departments and civilians, the slow speed of getting the technology up and running has only exacerbated concerns that police could end up making sure body cameras won’t bring about the change many had hoped to see.
The number of days it took for Chicago to release a video showing an officer fatally shooting Laquan McDonald, a black 17-year-old who was killed following a confrontation with police.
The publishing of the dashboard camera video followed a lengthy court battle in which authorities reportedly worked to suppress the chilling footage of officer Jason Van Dyke gunning down McDonald in the middle of a busy street. County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced first-degree murder charges against Van Dyke shortly after releasing the video. The series of events led some to claim Chicago officials were intent on covering up the incident, and that they might have been successful had a whistleblower not aired concerns that the shooting wasn’t going to be adequately investigated.
The footage offered a dramatically different account than the one initially provided by police after the shooting. While officials claimed McDonald had lunged at officers before the shooting, the video — which police said was recorded without audio — showed Van Dyke firing the first shot from about 10 feet away and firing the final shot nearly 15 seconds later, as McDonald lay seemingly lifeless on the ground.
The figure led officials to admit that something had to be wrong, with one LAPD commissioner telling the Times that it “strains credibility to suggest that … there were zero instances of biased policing.”
Police officials said that the lack of action on these cases is in part due to the difficulty of proving that officers knowingly initiated a civilian interaction because of the civilian’s race or other physical factors. But the remarkable record also leads to further questions about whether police should continue to be allowed to investigate themselves if they consistently find that they did nothing wrong.
The amount paid out last year by the 10 largest U.S. cities for settlements and court judgments involving police misconduct cases in their departments,according to a Wall Street Journal report. These cities paid out more than $1 billion over five years, with the annual total increasing nearly 50 percent from 2010 to 2014.
Taxpayers in these cities are typically on the hook for these payments, meaning that they can end up getting victimized twice — both as the direct casualties of police misconduct and the unwilling enablers who must eventually pay for that misconduct.
As the Sun reported, that money “would cover the price of a state-of-the-art rec center or renovations at more than 30 playgrounds.” And this doesn’t include the nearly $6 million the city spent defending officers against these claims.
This money could have gone to much better causes in other cities as well. In Chicago, for example, the $521 million taxpayers coughed up in police misconduct cases between 2004 and 2014 would have been enough for the city to cover nearly the entire cost of a new, state-of-the-art research hospital being built downtown.
The number of officers killed in attacks suffered in the line of duty this year, according to an independent count compiled by the Officer Down Memorial Page, a website that tracks law enforcement deaths.
While critics tried to combat the increasingly vocal push for police reform by branding this activism as a “war on cops,” it’s now clear this claim was bogus. Police may have felt like they were “under attack” — it’s difficult to hear public criticism when you have so long been insulated from it, after all — but these were never physical threats. Data shows that non-lethal violence against police is also on the decline.
And if this so-called “war on cops” was supposed to be coupled with an increase in crime because officers were too scared to do their jobs, that also didn’t pan out. While some cities did see disturbing increases in murder rates, the overall rate of violent crime and murder — including in many of those same cities — has still been in decline for the last 25 years. That trend is projected to have continued in 2015.
Let’s all remember that as we talk about policing and the pressing need for reform in 2016.
This article was published on Huffington Post Black Voices.
Guyana has called for diplomatic assistance from the African continent as it seeks to deter aggression from neighbouring Venezuela over a border dispute, writes Ifa Kamau Cush.
The provenance of Venezuela’s aggression against Guyana is its 1841 protest against Great Britain’s delineation of Guyana’s western boundary, eponymously known as the Schomburgk Line, named after Robert Schomburgk, a British surveyor and naturalist. At the time Guyana was a British colony.
Incapable of confronting the British militarily, Venezuela asked the United States to arbitrate the dispute. The US government convened an American boundary commission in 1895 in which Venezuela participated “enthusiastically”, according to historical records. The British government participated under protest. Venezuela was enthusiastic because America was its ally; thus, it expected a favourable outcome.
On 3 October 1899, the American boundary commission rendered its decision: the Schomburgk Line will stand! Venezuela ratified the commission’s decision.
For sixty-three years following that decision, official Venezuelan maps showed the Essequibo region as belonging to Guyana, says the Venezuelan author Francisco Toro, writing in the 12 June 2015 edition of the Caracas Chronicles.
According to Toro: “If you know anything about international law, you probably know that accepting territory as belonging to someone else on official maps puts a serious dent on any attempt to convince people that, ‘Oh wait, that land is mine’.”
Immediately after Guyana became independent from Britain in 1966, Venezuela took advantage of Guyana’s small size and population and began plotting to seize the Essequibo territory. In fact in 1969, Venezuelan-trained and equipped Guyanese secessionists declared an “Essequibo Free State”.
Guyana’s current president, David Granger, wrote about this insurrection in his 2012 book, National Defence: “Armed with rifles, machine-guns and anti-tank ‘bazooka’ weapons, the rebels easily seized Lethem, the district centre, and all outlying areas, killing several policemen and imprisoning ‘coastlander’ government employees in the process.”
However, within 24 hours, the rebels were routed by soldiers of the Guyana Defence Force and order was restored.Where blatant military aggression failed, Venezuela tried bribery and resorted to economic sabotage. In 1978, during a state visit to Guyana, the Venezuelan president, Carlos Andres Perez, offered to finance the upper Mazaruni hydro-electric project if the Guyana government would agree to cede 31,000 square kilometres of territory to his country. Guyana’s then president, Forbes Burnham, rejected the proposal outright!
Venezuela subsequently opposed all efforts on the part of Guyana to obtain the financing needed to exploit its hydroelectric potential, frustrating the country’s industrialisation programme in the process; thus stultifying its economic growth. Fast-forward to 2015 and the same strategy by Venezuela, of using military threats, bribery, and the co-option of Guyanese citizens, still prevails.
Over the past several years, the Venezuelan government has purchased rice from Guyana at obscenely exorbitant prices – paying almost twice the world market price. Political observers saw this as a gimmick on the part of Venezuela to build a constituency of Guyanese rice farmers and their beneficiaries to pressure the Guyanese government to accede to Venezuela’s territorial demands, similar to the strategy employed in 1969 when Venezuela organised Rupununi ranchers to secede from Guyana.
However, with the election of a new government headed by President David Granger on 11 May 2015, observers believe that Guyana now has a leadership made up of individuals who are more patriotic and committed to the preservation of Guyana’s territorial integrity. No wonder, soon after the May elections, Venezuela stopped purchasing rice from Guyana, hoping, experts believe, to trigger unrest in the rice-producing areas of Guyana.Additionally, with the announcement by ExxonMobil of the discovery of oil in Guyana’s territorial waters, Venezuela has once again invoked what Francisco Toro describes as a “childish fantasy” the idea of the country being a “threat to world peace”.
Last May, the Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro, reacting to the oil discovery in Guyana’s waters, issued a decree claiming the area as Venezuela’s.A well-placed source at the Washington DC-based Organization of American States urged Venezuela to respect international law in its dispute with Guyana. The source, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, noted that President Maduro’s decree “affects Guyana as well as Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and Columbia”, raising tensions and contributing to the destabilisation of the region.
While President Granger sees Venezuela’s decades-old aggression as “a fishbone in our throats”, choking his country’s economic life, he, nevertheless, is committed to a diplomatic solution. In that regard, his government has reached out to several global, continental and regional bodies, including the United Nations, the African Union, Caricom, and the Commonwealth to build global opposition to the Venezuelan aggression.
“We are a small nation of less than one million people. Venezuela has a population of over 25 million,” says Granger. “A military confrontation between our two nations will not be in Guyana’s best interests.”
Legal experts believe that a settlement must be imposed by the International Court of Justice. However, Maduro’s government in Caracas, bolstered by support from what Dr. Gerald Horne of the University of Houston describes as a “feisty and combative” elite, is reluctant to take this matter before an impartial panel of judges, fearing another 1899 result, a good 116 years after Venezuela ratified the American boundary commission’s ruling which established the western border of Guyana.
What is happening reminds one of a pattern of Venezuelan behaviour towards its small island neighbours in the Caribbean. In 1816, after Simon Bolivar, eulogised as the founder of the Venezuelan nation, suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Spanish forces, he landed on the shores of Haiti to be enthusiastically welcomed by the Haitian revolutionary leaders who, a few years earlier, had routed France’s slave-owning army and established an independent African state.
The Haitians gave Bolivar boats, arms and soldiers. That assistance enabled him to eventually defeat Spain, creating the country we now call Venezuela. Strangely, after defeating the Spanish forces with the arms, materiel, and men provided by Haiti, Bolivar’s Venezuela refused to recognise Haiti’s independence, thus, hastening that country’s capitulation to France’s $21.5 billion extortion requirement, camouflaged as repayment of French expenses on the island. It took Haiti over 150 years to repay. The country never recovered!
Eduardo Galeano, the Uruguayan author of the seminal work, The Open Veins of Latin America, said this about Bolivar’s perfidy in a 2004 article in Progressive magazine: “Not even Simon Bolivar recognised Haiti, though he owed it everything … Haiti gave him everything with only one condition: that he free the slaves [in Venezuela] – an idea that had not occurred to him. The great man triumphed in his war of independence … Of recognition, he made no mention!”
This is why many observers say Venezuela should not be allowed to continue to treat its African-descended neighbours in such a cavalier manner again. It is why Guyana’s new government under President Granger is appealing for diplomatic support from all African nations, and other nations of goodwill, to help bring Venezuela to see the wisdom in good neighbourliness and stop bullying little Guyana for a piece of territory whose boundaries were settled 116 years ago.
Ifa Kamau Cush
The article was published in New African Magazine.