House Negro Alert: TAVIS SMILEY: ‘IF YOU’RE BLACK OR BROWN,’ NOT A LOT OF ‘GOOD REASONS’ TO TURN OUT TO VOTE.


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On Sunday’s broadcast of ABC’s “This Week,” PBS host Tavis Smiley acknowledged the Democratic Party has not given some minority voters the inspiration to turn out to vote in this election cycle.

 

“If you’re black or brown, if you’re — let’s be frank about this — if you’re black or brown other than helping to save the Democrats’ hide, give me three good reasons that you turn out to vote this time. Now, I’ll catch hell for saying that,” Smiley said.

 

“I’m not suggesting that people ought to stay at home and sit on their hands but what I’m suggesting is neither party has focused clearly on the issues of black and brown voters to inspire them and motivate them to turnout in 2014,” Smiley added. “And we may say the same thing in 2016.”

 

Steve Harvey Calls Tavis Smiley & Cornel West Uncle Toms For Criticizing Obama

 

 

TAVIS SMILEY: That’s a good point. And I think that issue would probably play better. And a lot of the reasons it might not be the top of the agenda is that Democrats respectfully know that they haven’t even done everything they could have done on this issue.

 

The slogan that it could have been worse is not a winning slogan. And I think the economy is certainly better now that we expected it would have been a couple years ago. I think the president gets some credit for helping put what policies that have turned this economy around slowly.

 

Having said that, there’s been no real fight even by Democrats for increasing the minimum wage to a living wage in this country. That measure can only go so far if you don’t have the record to back that up.

 

There’s a front-page story, George, as you know, in “The New York Times” today. They talk about the black vote is what the Democratic Party is relying upon now to save the Senate. News flash: if you’re relying on the black vote, in a midterm election — and I’m not suggesting that black voters don’t care about this — but if you’re relying on that vote, then I think it’s uninspired because we have double- and triple-digit unemployment in the African American community.

 

And again, if the message is something other than employment and what we’re going to do for you, then what’s the reason to go vote?

 

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SMILEY: But if you’re black or brown, let’s be frank about this. If you’re black or brown, other than helping to save the Democrats’ hide, give me three good reasons and you turn out the vote this time.

 

Now I’ll catch hell for saying that…

 

No, I am not suggesting — I’m not suggesting that people ought to stay home and sit on their hands. What I’m suggesting is that neither party has focused clearly enough on the issues of black and brown voters to inspire them and motivate them to turn out in 2014. And we may see the same thing in 2016.

 

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I don’t ever have to say much about Tavis Smiley, his predatory lending scam against HIS OWN BLACK people, the very same Black people he and his partner in stupid, Dr. Cornell West, profess to love, say all that needs to be said. Read from a plethora of reports on his agenda below:

 

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From All Voices:

 

Melissa Harris-Perry compares Tavis Smiley to Tuskegee syphilis study‘s black nurse

 

It is no secret that there has been some very “bad blood” flowing between, on one side, Dr. Harris-Perry, and on the other, Tavis Smiley and Princeton Professor Dr. Cornel West. Indeed, I have written about their ongoing feud in the past. The attention has mainly been focused on Drs. West and Harris-Perry. Today, however, Dr. Harris-Perry exponentially ratcheted up her critique of Smiley by directly comparing his role in the Wells Fargo bank’s now defunct “wealth building” program to nurse Rivers’ function during the TSE.

 

Wells Fargo will pay at least $175 million to settle lawsuits charging that it discriminated against African-American and Hispanic borrowers in violation of fair-lending laws, the Justice Department announced last September.

 

Wells Fargo is this nation-state’s largest residential home mortgage lender. From 2004 to 2009, the bank allegedly engaged in a pattern of discrimination against qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers. Deputy US Attorney General James Cole said the bank’s discriminatory lending practices resulted in over 34,000 African-American and Hispanic borrowers in 36 states and the District of Columbia paying higher rates for loans solely because of the color of their skin.

 

Wells Fargo also will pay $50 million in direct down-payment assistance to borrowers in cities most targeted by the bank: Washington, DC; Chicago; Philadelphia; Oakland; San Francisco; New York City; Cleveland; Riverside, Calif.; and Baltimore.

 

The problem Dr. Harris-Perry has with Tavis Smiley involves his contracting with Wells Fargo — for a reported $4 million — to organize and orchestrate putative “wealth building” seminars in black neighborhoods nationwide starting in 2005. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan demurred and called these seminars nothing more than sales pitches for high-rate subprime loans through Wells Fargo.

 

Since the settlement, however, Richard Prince has reported in his “Journal-isms” column that Smiley has promised to sever all ties with Wells Fargo. Interestingly, until recently Wells Fargo sponsored Smiley’s radio show on Public Radio International (now canceled), and underwrote the annual C-SPAN-televised “State of the Black Union” conference that Smiley organizes (now defunct). Smiley’s foundation also distributed Wells Fargo materials to young people at foundation events.

 

“I cut everything off with Wells Fargo,” Smiley declared. He said the move cost “a lot of money”; he would not say how much. Smiley said his relationship with Wells Fargo was a “package deal.” In return for the company helping to finance his radio show, he went on the road for Wells Fargo.

 

On her show today, Dr. Harris-Perry argued that the seminars only appeared on the surface as a way to help black borrowers build wealth. They were actually just the opposite. By signing up for subprime mortgages they could not afford, foreclosure was the inevitable result. Often the bank would not even try to help the defaulted lenders, nor would it even attempt to re-sell the foreclosed properties. Instead, it let them sit in once “nice” neighborhoods, essentially abandoned. The run-down and abandoned appearance of these homes spread blight throughout their neighborhoods. In many cases, whole neighborhoods were simply destroyed.

 

In the now settled lawsuit filed by Attorney General Madigan, it was charged that from the outset Wells Fargo’s plan for the “seminars” was to target black borrowers for higher-cost subprime mortgages, not for wealth-building. And the seminars were a part of the bank’s overall illegal and discriminatory practice of steering black and Hispanic borrowers into riskier and more expensive loans, the suit said.

 

Opinion:

Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry is essentially calling Tavis Smiley a traitor to his race for his role in Wells Fargo’s “wealth building” scheme in black communities. Her comparison of him to Nurse Eunice Rivers is telling. She knew that the men she was “treating” for syphilis were not being treated at all, but were, in fact, being destroyed by her and the government’s efforts. It is not clear, however, whether Smiley knew beforehand whether Wells Fargo was simply trying to further feather its own substantial nest at the expense of poor black and Hispanic mortgagees. He says he did not know. That, to me, seems incredible. How could such an otherwise astute businessman and media mogul not know, or at least suspect, that something nefarious was going on here?

 

And then there is his relationship with Walmart. The retail giant has been under fire for years for its reprehensible treatment of its employees. Yet Walmart has been a staunch supporter, advertiser and sponsor of many of Smiley’s business ventures.

 

I once wondered why Melissa Harris-Perry has never deigned to have Tavis Smiley or Cornel West on her show. Now I do not have to wonder any more.

 

Thank you All Voices.

 

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From The American Prospect:

 

When the NAACP filed suit against Wells Fargo for allegedly targeting black people regardless of income or credit history or sub-prime loans, the bank became a symbol of how greed and racism contributed to the outsize effect the foreclosure crisis has had on the black community. In court affidavits, former Wells Fargo employees testified that the bank deliberately targeted the sub-prime loans — or “ghetto loans” as they were referred to internally — at “mud people.” In Baltimore, for example, 71 percent of the homes vacated due to foreclosure on a Wells Fargo loan were in black neighborhoods. Wells Fargo was the eighth largest recipient of bailout money — they received $25 billion.

 

Wells Fargo, however, has also long been a sponsor of the State of the Black Union,Tavis Smiley‘s annual black political symposium. Mary Kane reported that Smiley had been hosting “wealth building seminars” in black communities since 2005 — according to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the seminars were part of Wells Fargo’s attempt to lure black voters into buying sub-prime loans. One employee was even told she was “too white” to speak at one of the seminars — the company wanted a face nervous black folks buying a home for the first time could trust. A black face. Someone well-known and trustworthy. Someone like Tavis Smiley. Wells Fargo maintains they have done nothing wrong and are fighting the suit.

 

Smiley would also hardly be the first important black political figure to have ties to sub-prime lenders. As Stephanie Mercimer reported for Mother Jones last year,Charles Steele Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference defended sub-prime lenders in the Washington Post last year, Al Sharpton has cut commercials for LoanMax, Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition has worked with Compucredit on “job fairs and economic summits,” and the Urban Leage has worked with the Consumer Financial Services Association to conduct “financial literacy seminars.”

 

Following Kane’s article, Richard Prince reported that Smiley was cutting all ties with the bank.

 

“I cut everything off with Wells Fargo,” Smiley declared. He said the move cost “a lot of money”; he said he did not know how much.

 

I’m not sure how much moving away from Wells Fargo cost Smiley. But if the information in the suits against Wells Fargo are accurate, probably less than the folks who lost their homes because the bank foreclosed on their “ghetto loan.”

 

The revelation of Smiley’s efforts in helping Wells Fargo sell sub-prime loans in the black community is likely to further erode Smiley’s standing among black folks. During the 2008 campaign, Smiley criticized Barack Obama for not attending one of his symposiums, which many felt was somewhat self-serving and unfair. At the time, Smiley said, “Just because Barack Obama is black, doesn’t mean he gets a pass on being held accountable on issues that matter to black people.”

 

Thank you The American Prospect

 

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From Febone 1960.net Blog:

 

Wells Fargo Uses Tavis Smiley For Subprime Loan Trap?

 

 

Did Tavis Smiley help Wells Fargo herd black people into subprime loans? Yes, according to information contained in a lawsuit filed recently by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. The suit alleges that Smiley was the hook used to draw in potential customers for subprime mortgages.

 

You might be familiar with the “Wealth Building” seminars that Wells Fargo conducted beginning in the year 2000. Smiley was the headline speaker at these events, held in Baltimore; Chicago; Richmond, Va.; and San Francisco. The seminars were advertised aggressively in black media and aimed directly at black communities. They were a huge success. Often, standing room only audiences would hear Smiley speak about how he mostly disliked banks while strongly urging attendees to invest in real estate as a sound strategy to build wealth.

 

Turns out that keynote may be responsible for many unsophisticated, would-be home buyers being particularly vulnerable to the subprime loan slop Wells Fargo allegedly intended to push toward them:

 

But what appeared on the surface as a way to help black borrowers build wealth was actually just the opposite, according to a little-noticed explanation of the “Wealth Building” seminar strategy, contained in a lawsuit recently filed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

 

Wells’ plan for the seminars all along was to target black borrowers for higher-cost subprime mortgages, not for wealth-building, the suit charged. And the seminars were a part of the bank’s overall illegal and discriminatory practice of steering black and Hispanic borrowers into riskier and more expensive loans, the suit said.

 

According to a former Wells Fargo Home Mortgage employee, one of these “Wealth Building” seminars held in Maryland was planned for an audience that would be virtually all African American, the suit said. The plan for the seminar was for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage employees to talk about sub-prime mortgages, although they were directed by Wells Fargo Home Mortgage to use the term ‘alternative lending’ when marketing these products.” The former employee, who is white, was scheduled to speak at the seminar, but was told by a manager that she was “too white,” and that only black employees could make presentations, the suit said.

 

Wells Fargo, one of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders and a recipient of $25 billion in government bailout money, has denied all the charges in the Illinois suit, as well as other allegations of unfair lending. The bank did not respond to requests for comment on the seminars. Smiley, an author and advocate who hosts the late-night talk show, ‘Tavis Smiley,’ and who organizes the State of the Black Union symposiums each year, also declined comment. Source: Suit Alleges Trusted Black Figures Drew Minorities to High Rate Loans, Washington Independent

 

These are extremely serious allegations that will play out in the legal arena. But having worked with Smiley during the last “State of the Black Union,” I do not believe he intentionally set out to hurt black people or poor people in general. That would be like me believing that Wall Street intentionally set out to destroy its own money-making schemes.

 

There are at least two glaring takeaways from this. For Smiley, I’m sure he’s learned the hard way to be much more careful about how people use him and his established goodwill to sell stuff. I am skeptical of all corporations. But the other takeaway is the observation that this white company used a black spokesman to instantly gain trust and credibility where it had done little work on the ground in the black community to EARN it themselves.

 

All of us need to be particularly cautious when any company pushes a black person to sell you something they want you to “feel” good about and not understand.

 

Thank you Febone 1960.net Blog.

 

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From CLUTCHMAGAZINEONLINE:

 

In 2007, the NAACP brought a predatory lending suit against banking giant Wells Fargo — and eventually, 14 others like it, including Citibank and HSBC — for lobbing unfair and discriminatory practices against brown folks. Last year, in the first formal enforcement action and largest consumer-enforcement fine ever imposed by the agency, the Federal Reserve strong-armed the Wells Fargo powers-that-be into paying $85 million in restitution for allegedly steering borrowers—again, of the Black and Latino variety—into high-cost, subprime loans, though they never really admitted any guilt.

 

Then, in the beginning of 2012, the company also agreed to a $175 million settlement in a fair-lending case for saddling the same kind of customers with those cursed and dreaded adjustable-rate loans, forcing them to unknowingly pay more than white borrowers. Between 2004 and 2009, Wells Fargo was showered with accusations and findings that pointed to the active pimping of our communities. It’s not a secret, it’s not classified information. It’s all over the news, corporate press releases and the web.

 

So it stands to reason that, even if he didn’t know anything about their underhanded financial debauchery before, Tavis Smiley could’ve, at the very least, performed a simple keyword search online (“Wells Fargo, African-Americans” works quite nicely) before agreeing to galvanize the masses and lead them into “wealth-building seminars.” Hosted by Wells Fargo for five years until 2009, the events, held in Black communities, were introduced as part of the company’s reparations package following its reign of lending tyranny. Tavis was the face of the effort and lent his celebrity and credibility to get attendees involved in the programs. Incidentally, Wells Fargo also helped to finance his radio show.

 

For leading the lambs to slaughter, he was paid a handsome $4 million. All we got was shafted with what Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan called “nothing more than sales pitches for high-rate subprime loans.” Tavis severed his relationship with Wells Fargo and issued a statement about his involvement, throwing in that closing the deal caused him to lose a great deal of money, but the damage was already done. Before you sign up for any endorsement deal or business partnership, it’s your responsibility to know who you’re working with.

 

So on her show last week, Melissa Harris-Perry took Tavis to task, albeit a little late, comparing him to Nurse Rivers, the woman who infamously led some 600 men into deception about the real purpose of the Tuskegee Experiment with syphilis. (Mmmm…ouch.) One consciously allowed the people under her care to be put through agonizing medical trial, the other rallied the troops to jump over the financial cliff.

 

Now, we already know there’s bad blood between her, Tavis and Dr. West. There’s nothing worse than when a group of highly intelligent, highly influential, highly visible Black folks with a heavy dose of media influence and airtime dedicate their energy to volleying digs back and forth at one another. It’s exhausting for the viewer (namely me) who just wants to know the issues without being sucked into the commentator’s personal vendettas. I love me some Melissa Harris-Perry — this video right here is part of the reason why — but it took a little dirt-digging to come up with this one. Still, Tavis deserved to be called out for his double-dealing. That obligates her to stay squeaky clean, though, because best believe he and Dr. West are going to be on the prowl for the next round of retaliation. Scholars gone wild…even better than Real Housewives.

 

Thank you CLUTCHMAGAZINEONLINE.

 

Tavis Smiley and Cornel West

 

From The Wattree Chronicle:

 

A QUESTION FOR BOTH TAVIS SMILEY AND CORNELL WEST

 

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Mr. Smiley, do you intend to return the Millions of dollars to the people who lost their lifesavings and homes that you reportedly made from herding poor Black people and Hispanics into the Wells Fargo “Ghetto Loan” Scam? And Dr. West, in your learned opinion, what is the appropriate course of action for your friend and associate to take, in accordance with the “prophetic tradition,” of course?

 

A discrimination lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice, and several articles, including one seeded on Newsvine entitle, “Tavis Smiley – “Ghetto Loan” Peddler for Wells Fargo,” closely associates PBS talk show host, Tavis Smiley, with the Wells Fargo Bank scam targeting poor and middle-class Black and Hispanic borrowers. The article quotes Kelvin Boston, host of “Moneywise, and Keith Corbett, of the Center for Responsible Lending, as calling Tavis Smiley “the big draw” of the Wells Fargo scam. Specifically, the article states the following:

“Smiley was the keynote speaker, and the big draw, according to Boston [host of “Moneywise”] and Keith Corbett, executive vice president of the Center for Responsible Lending, who attended two of the seminars. Smiley would charge up the audience — and rattle the Wells Fargo executives in attendance — by launching into a story about how he hated banks, and how they used to refuse to lend him money for his real estate projects in Compton, Calif., and elsewhere… But what appeared on the surface as a way to help black borrowers build wealth was actually just the opposite, according to a little-noticed explanation of the “Wealth Building” seminar strategy, contained in a lawsuit recently filed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

 

“Wells’ plan for the seminars all along was to target black borrowers for higher-cost subprime mortgages, not for wealth-building, the suit charged. And the seminars were a part of the bank’s overall illegal and discriminatory practice of steering black and Hispanic borrowers into riskier and more expensive loans, the suit said.”

 

Subsequent to the law suit, Richard Prince reported in The Washington Independent that Smiley issued a statement indicating that he would sever all ties with Wells Fargo until charges that the company steered minorities into higher-rate loans are resolved. The article went on to say,

 

“Wells Fargo sponsored Smiley’s radio show on Public Radio International, and underwrote the annual C-Span-televised “State of the Black Union” conference that Smiley organizes. Smiley’s foundation also distributed Wells Fargo materials to young people at foundation events, he told Journal-isms.

 

‘“I cut everything off with Wells Fargo,’ Smiley declared. He said the move cost ‘a lot of money’; he said he did not know how much.”

 

On July 12, 2012 Charlie Savage reported in the New York Times that Wells Fargo Bank agreed to pay $175 million to settle the discrimination suit which, according to the Department of Justice, targeted over 30,000 Black and Hispanic borrowers for subprime loans with a higher interest rate than for similarly situated White borrowers between 2004 and 2009.

 

State Of The Black Union

 

What makes it particularly ironic that Tavis Smiley would be associated with this scheme to target poor and middle-class minorities is that Smiley is the primary promoter of what he calls “The Poverty Tour,” along with his friend and associate, former Princeton professor, Cornel West. During the tour, on their joint radio talk show, and on numerous media appearances, Smiley and West have gained a reputation for being President Obama’s harshest critics, indicating that the president is not sufficiently focused, and “accountable,” to the nation’s poor and minority community.

 

In a statement by Wells Fargo put out after the bank agreed to a settlement of $175 Million, they said that while not admitting to any wrong doing, Wells Fargo agreed to a settlement of the law suit because the bank felt that it was the right thing to do.

 

CNNMONEY quoted Mike Held, president of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, as saying, “Wells Fargo is settling this matter because we believe it is in the best interest of our team members, customers, communities and investors to avoid a long and costly legal fight, and to instead devote our resources to continuing to contribute to the country’s housing recovery.”

 

The settlement includes Wells Fargo paying the Black and Hispanic victims of discrimination $125 million in compensation, and an additional $50 million in down-payment assistance to borrowers in the affected communities.

 

So the question that remains is, if Wells Fargo Bank feels that paying compensating to the poor and middle-class victims of this scam is the right thing to do, shouldn’t Tavis Smiley, the most strident advocate of “accountability” and fervent crusader for the interest of the poor, feel obliged to do the same? Certainly, benefiting from the misery of the poor and minority community would run counter to Mr. Smiley’s zeal for the need of the powerful to maintain accountability.

 

We’d also like to put that question to Smiley’s friend and associate, Dr. Cornel West. What do you think your good friend and associate should do, Dr. West? What does the “prophetic tradition” dictate is the proper course of action?

 

We’ll be anxiously awaiting your response.

 

Thank you The Wattree Chronicle.

 

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Fmr Wells Fargo Subprime Loan Officer: Bank Targeted Black Churches for Subprime Loans 1/3

 

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Up until two years ago, Elizabeth Jacobson was the top producing loan officer in the subprime division at Wells Fargo. Today she is speaking out against the practices of her former company. Earlier this summer, she filed a sworn affidavit with a federal court in support of the city of Baltimores lawsuit against Wells Fargo for pushing high-interest, subprime loans onto African Americans in Baltimore and the Maryland suburbs, leading hundreds into foreclosure.

 

 

 

Subprime loans target black churches, at taxpayers expense!!!-2/3

 

 

 

Subprime loans target black churches, at taxpayers expense!!!-3/3

 

 

 

ALL OF THIS WAS GOING ON WHILE CORNEL WEST WAS SAYING THE FOLLOWING ABOUT OBAMA (NOTICE THE WELLS FARGO LOGO):

 

Cornell West on Barack Obama

 

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Princeton professor not pleased about Obama’s snub of Covenant With Black America conference

 

 

 

Cornel West: Obama is ‘Republican in Blackface’

 

 

 

Cornel West Introduces Barack Obama

 

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Cornel West Introduces Barack Obama at the Apollo Theater, Nov. 29, 2007

 

 

 

As evidenced by the above videos, The Dr. Cornell West loved Barack Hussein Obama’s dirty boxers until he imagined Barack snubbed Cornell’s  Covenant With Black America conference. The dislike Cornell has comes from this petty bullshit. Not to mention Barack’s social secretary made the mistake of ignoring a request from Cornell for additional 2009 inauguration tickets…thus was born Dr. Cornell West’s “issues with Barack.”

 

The moronic Tavis Smiley had Barack on his PBS TV show….

 

Barack Obama on Tavis Smiley

 

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Obama 2012: Are you in? http://my.barackobama.com/tavis3vid

Tavis Smiley interviews Barack on October 18, 2007.

 

 

 

The “story” of the split between Barack & Tavis is said to be born from Barack not accepting an invite to a Tavis function shortly after Barack took the Oath Of Office. Barack had a previous commitment and sent 1st Lady Michelle in his place. That made Tavis very unhappy with Barack. Now personally I’d take Michelle over Barack any day…

 

Can you say petty ass Black folks?

 

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Rashad Robinson, ColorOfChange.org: #Ferguson Says “Shut It Down For #MikeBrown!”


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The tragic police killing of 18-year-old Mike Brown hit home for millions across the country. The horror of losing a loved one, to senseless, racially-motivated police violence is a daily threat in the lives of Black people in America. In a time when law enforcement kill Black Americans at nearly the same rate as Jim Crow era lynchings,1 discriminatory and violent policing is a national crisis.

 

National leaders are paying more attention to racial profiling and police brutality than they have in years, due to the hard work of Black youth and community leaders in Ferguson and across the country.2 In order to capture the momentum of this moment and secure long-term, systemic reforms that transform policing nationwide, we need the federal government to intervene and set a higher standard of policing.

 

Demand a strong and enforceable federal prohibition on police brutality, a nationwide investigation into police violence in every state, and defunding of federal grants that incentivize abusive and militarized policing.

 

While we continue to fight for justice for Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Ramarley Graham and so many others whose lives have been taken at the hands of racially-motivated and violent local law enforcement, the federal government has a clear role to play in overturning the conditions that led to these tragedies, and setting a higher standard of policing across the country.In key ways, the standards, policies, and practices of the executive branch set the tone and tactics of local and state law enforcement.

 

For decades, our communities have worked tirelessly to combat the wholesale criminalization of Black Americans and the unimaginable police violence that threatens our children, parents, and friends every day. A walk to the store or drive to the mall have long held the risk of an unwarranted search, false arrest, or death. But we are in a historic time and how we capture this time will impact generations to come — the kind of world our children live in, the types of freedoms they have to fight for.

 

With Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation approaching, now is the time to push the Department of Justice to do much more.5Widespread public pressure can keep this issue at the top of the administration’s agenda, and push them to move forward before this major change in DOJ leadership. Next week, community members in Ferguson are organizing a Weekend of Resistance to build momentum for a nationwide movement to end police brutality.6 We need your support to move federal officials beyond symbolic actions to systemic reforms that protect the civil and human rights of all communities.

 

Join us in calling on the Obama administration, DOJ, and other federal agencies to take immediate action to strengthen police accountability and end discriminatory policing.

 

Thanks and Peace,

 

— Rashad, Matt, Arisha, Lyla, Jamar and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
October 18th, 2014

 

Help support our work. ColorOfChange.org is powered by YOU—your energy and dollars. We take no money from lobbyists or large corporations that don’t share our values, and our tiny staff ensures your contributions go a long way.

 

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Black Genocide: Honoring Those We Lost To Senseless Violence.


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Black genocide

We Charge Genocide: The Crime of Government Against the Negro People” is a document accusing the United States government of genocide according to the UN Genocide Convention. This document was created by the Civil Rights Congress (CRC) and presented to the United Nations in December 1951.

 

The document pointed out that the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide defined genocide as any acts committed with “intent to destroy” a group, “in whole or in part.” To build its case for black genocide the document cited many instances of lynching in the United States, as well as legal discrimination, a series of incidents of police brutality dating to the present, and systematic inequalities in health and quality of life. The central argument: the US government is both complicit with and responsible for a genocidal situation based on the UN’s own definition of genocide.

 

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From The:

Malcolm X Grassroots Movement

 

The Black Nation Charges Genocide! Our survival is dependent on Self-Defense!

 

The Black Nation Charges Genocide! Our survival is dependant on Self-Defense!

 

Mike Brown, Ezell Ford and Eric Garner are among the latest victims of the ongoing genocide of Black People in the United States of America. Every 28 hours in the United States law enforcement, vigilantes, or security guards extra-judiciously murder a Black person. It is imperative that we as a people act upon every tragedy and hardship inflicted upon us by the government and the corporations to address the systematic genocide of our people in a protracted, programmatic, and strategic way.

 

The United States of America, as both a state and a criminal enterprise, has proven time and time again throughout its entire 238-year history that where Black people are concerned, genocide is the order of the day. The mass extrajudicial killings of Blacks aren’t just the result of rogue police officers and crazed racist vigilantes; it is a state sponsored program of containment designed to keep the Black nation in a position of subservience and subjugation to the White settler colonial nation.

 

The United States Government and the vast reactionary sector of the settler colonial nation who’s interests it was designed to represent, has been engaged in a war on Afrikan people from the time of its inception to the present day. The United States Government continues to lose legitimacy through its actions against our people. Through its refusal to address the ongoing human rights violations against the Black Nation the United States has shown itself to be the perpetual facilitator of the suffering of the Black Nation.

 

We cannot and should not count on our enemies – like the courts, and other forces of the US government or transnational corporations – to protect us. We have to protect ourselves. Justice for Mike Brown, Ezell Ford, Eric Garner or any of the hundreds of other Black women, men and children extra-judiciously executed by vigilantes, security guards and police every year will never be found in the courtrooms of the United States. Marissa Alexander is potentially facing decades in prison for firing a warning shot to defend herself and her children against an abusive partner while George Zimmerman is walking free after murdering Trayvon Martin in cold blood. Even in cases where the verdict apparently is in favor of our people, like in the conviction of Theodore Wafer for the murder of Renisha McBride, these sorts of trials uphold the status quo by not addressing the root issues behind the oppression of our people in a systematic way. The United States Government does not even have the right to try these cases because it is the primary architect of the state of emergency and continuous crisis the Black Nation is forced to endure. We cannot afford to be distracted from the work that must be done to insure the survival of our people.

 

The rebellion our people are waging in Ferguson must be supported. But, spontaneous rebellions are not enough. The only way we are going to successfully defend ourselves from genocide is to build a massive social movement with self-determination and self defense as its central unifying principles. We need a coordinated movement that strategically takes on the systemic oppression and exploitation that prevent Black people from exercising self-determination and human rights.  We have to defend ourselves if we want to survive.

 

We call on people around the country to support The Organization For Black Struggle based out of St. Louis, Missouri in their efforts to secure the resources to hire a full time organizer. They have been working since 1980 to fill the vacuum left by assaults on the Black Power Movement and have been providing critical leadership in support of the people’s struggle. To connect with The Organization For Black Struggle visit http://obs-onthemove.org/.

 

The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) believes that an essential part of our Movement for survival must be Self-Defense Networks.

 

We think there are two types of Networks that we have to build:

 

 

New Afrikan or Black Self-Defense Networks are alliances, coalitions, or united fronts of Black organizations whose purpose is to defend the New Afrikan or Black community from external (the police, FBI, white terrorist organizations, etc.) and internal (agent infiltration, intra-communal violence, etc.) threats to its safety and security.

 

People’s Self-Defense Networks are multi-national (or multi-ethnic and/or racial) alliances, coalitions, or united fronts whose purpose is to defend their communities against mutual enemies and threats and advance a common agenda based on shared interests, hopes, and aspirations.

 

Oppressed peoples and communities can and will only be secure in this country when they are organized to defend themselves against the aggressions of the government and the forces of white supremacy and capitalist exploitation.

 

The Every 28 Hours Campaign proposes a model for organizing:

 

  1. The formation of Black Self-Defense Networks to defend our people and combat police terrorism. These Networks should seek to build Copwatch programs, engage in mass rights based education trainings for the community, serve as first responders to acts of Police Terrorism, and help coordinate mass resistance to these acts via mass mobilizations and direct action. These Networks should also be encouraged to engage in offensive campaigns, such as referendums to institute Police Control Boards.

 

  1. The formation of People’s Self-Defense Networks to defend the lives and interests of all oppressed peoples’ and exploited classes against various forms of state terrorism. These People’s Self-Defense Networks would work as multi-national alliances to engage in a broad manner all of the tasks mentioned above to defend oppressed peoples and targeted communities, such as LGBTQ2GNC communities, against institutionalized racism, white supremacy, institutionalized sexism, patriarchy and state repression be it racial profiling, gender profiling, stop and frisk, mass incarceration, or mass deportations.

 

  1. Waging campaigns for local referendums to institute Police Control mechanisms – i.e. community based structures that have the power to hire, fire, subpoena, and discipline the police on the local level. And waging massive, non-compliant campaigns of resistance employing BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanction) strategies and tactics on statewide, regional, and national levels.

 

  1. Forming People’s Assemblies, on local, citywide, and regional levels to engage in program and demand development initiatives that will enable the people to engage in the broad implementation of people’s programs for self-defense and mutual aid.

 

The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) and the Every 28 Hours Campaign seeks to strengthen organizing initiatives within Black or New Afrikan communities for self-defense, by presenting these initiatives with a comprehensive analytical framework and practical organizing tools to ground and unite them.

 

MXGM offers to Black and other oppressed communities three resources

1) Operation Ghetto Storm, a full report on the 2012 extra judicial killings;

2) Let Your Motto Be Resistance, an organizing handbook for self-defense; and 3) We Charge Genocide Again!, a curriculum for the Every 28 Hours Campaign, to further this objective

 

Links:

 

Operation Ghetto Storm: 2012 Annual Report on the Extrajudicial Killing of Black People

http://mxgm.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Operation-Ghetto-Storm.pdf

 

 

Let Your Motto Be Resistance

http://mxgm.org/let-your-motto-be-resistance-a-handbook-on-organizing-new-afrikan-and-oppressed-communities-for-self-defense/

 

 

We Charge Genocide Again!

http://mxgm.org/we-charge-genocide-again-new-curriculum-on-every-28-hours-report/

 

 

For more information on these resources or trainings please contact Taliba Obuya at taliba@mxgm.org

 

For coalition building and Self-Defense Networks please contact Watani Tyehimba at watani@mxgm.org.

 

Malcolm X – The House Negro and the Field Negro

 

Published on Feb 29, 2012

The House Negro and the Field Negro, speech by the great Malcolm X, after the March on Washington (1963). Malcolm X was still in the Nation of Islam.

 

 

 

Malcolm X: “Negro and the American Promise.”

 

Published on Apr 21, 2013

June 24th 1963. Dr. Kenneth Clark conducts probing interviews of N.O.I. leader Malcolm X, SCLC leader Martin Luther & Playwright James Baldwin in the hour long special examining the racial crisis in America. Dr. Clark and his wife fellow psychologist Mamie Phipps Clark, used dolls in their 1939 psychological experiment to gauge ego and self esteem in young Black American children. Black children identified with the Black dolls, but children of either race tended to view the White dolls favorably and the Black dolls unfavorably. The study concluded the Black American children internalize society’s negative stereotypes of Black Americans, Dr.Clark: “Two out of three African American children rejected the brown dolls.” Clark’s results were published in a 1950 paper, “Effects of Prejudice and Discrimination on Personality Development.” The Clarks paper on the “doll tests” was cited by the US Supreme Court in its landmark 1954 ruling, Brown v. Board of Education

 

 

 

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The Black Genocide Continues:

 

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Jordan Davis’ parents asked prosecutors not to seek the death penalty in Dunn trial

 

Michael Dunn won’t face death in his Friday sentencing and that will not bother Jordan Davis’ parents. They never wanted the state to execute Dunn.

 

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Justice 4 #JordanDavis: #MichaelDunn Sentenced to Life In Prison NO Parole. plus 105 years for lesser charges. Justice has been served. One down, So many more to go.

 

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From The Daily KOS: Since St. Louis Has Decided Against Releasing A Report, Here’s The Timeline Of Mike Brown’s Murder.


 

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Since St. Louis has decided against releasing a report, here’s the timeline of Mike Brown’s death

 

by Shaun King for shaunking

 

Mike Brown, an unarmed teenager, was shot and killed in the middle of the street by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson on a hot and hazy Saturday afternoon on August 9, 2014.

 

For over two months, people have practically begged the St. Louis County Police Department to release a detailed incident report of the shooting. Rather quietly, it was recently announced that the police will not be doing any such thing. In an interview with the Washington Post, Officer Brian Schellman, spokesman for the department, confirmed that that the police have no intention of releasing it whatsoever. Schellman said there are only two conditions in which the report will ever be released: If the grand jury in the Darren Wilson case decides against an indictment, or if Wilson is indicted and the report is used in court. Otherwise, we won’t be seeing it.

 

With this absence of information, the public has practically been forced to piece together public evidence to create a timeline of the day.

 

Below is a working theory of the killing of Mike Brown based on five things: six eyewitness accounts, confirmed audio of the fired gunshots, dozens of photos from the Aug. 9 shooting scene on Canfield Drive, visits to the crime scene by volunteers, and the publicly released autopsy results.

 

The typical police firearm usually holds 12-15 rounds (up to 17) to a magazine with possibly one bullet in the chamber, and Wilson may have nearly unloaded his entire gun during this incident.

 

Amazingly, a young man living in an apartment on Canfield Drive was using a mobile app called Glide in which he was recording a message to his girlfriend during the final moments of Brown’s life. The time stamp and location of the recording were authenticated by the technology company.

 

From the moment Mike Brown first saw Darren Wilson until he was laying face down, dead, on Canfield Drive, was less than two-and-half minutes. Jump below the fold for the timeline.

 

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Before Glide App Video Messaging Audio:12:00 PM: Mike Brown and Dorian Johnson are casually walking in the middle of Canfield Drive. This was/is a common practice on this street on a Saturday afternoon in this neighborhood. They notice a police SUV coming toward them. 

12:00 PM: Officer Darren Wilson, driving past them, slows down and tells them “to get the fuck on the sidewalk.” Brown remains silent while Dorian Johnson tells Wilson that they are just a minute away from their destination.

 

12:00 PM: Wilson, having passed them by, violently puts the car in reverse, screeching the tires in the street, nearly hitting Brown and Johnson, who are forced to jump out of the way, stops right next to them, and thrusts open his door. The driver’s side door only opens only a few inches because it hits Mike Brown and ricochets back into Wilson.

 

12:01 PM: A struggle ensues at the window of the police SUV, which causes Brown to lose his red, fitted baseball cap, found at this exact location after the shooting. Wilson immediately grabs at the neck of Brown as Brown tries to pull away, Wilson pulls his weapon, and threatens to shoot Brown. Brown’s hands remain outside of the SUV, and he uses the vehicle as leverage to pull away.

 

During this struggle, the first shot is fired from inside the vehicle by Wilson. It hits Brown in his chest/arm area.

 

Fearing for their lives, Brown and Johnson flee in different directions. Brown loses one of his flip-flops approximately 20 feet from the SUV. Johnson hides behind a black Monte Carlo.

 

Wilson, gun drawn, exits his SUV and prepares to fire at a fleeing Brown.

 

Begin Glide App Audio:

12:02:14 PM.: Wilson pursues Brown as he flees some 100-plus feet from the police vehicle.  During the pursuit, firing at the back of Brown, Wilson fires shots two (12:02:16 PM), three (12:02:16 PM), four (12:02:17 PM), five (12:02:17 PM), and six (12:02:17 PM)within milliseconds under three seconds, missing a fleeing Brown.

 

12:02:18 PM: Shot seven grazes Brown’s right forearm, at which point Brown turns aroundto surrender. There is a three-second pause after shot seven, as Wilson continues his pursuit of a surrendering Brown, closing the pursuit gap significantly. Brown, with his hands up, says, “Okay, okay, okay. I’m unarmed, don’t shoot…” Before Brown can finish his plea, Wilson begins to fire the last four shots that hit Brown.

 

12:02:22 PM: In just under two seconds shots eight through eleven strike Brown (making the encounter from shots two through eleven mere milliseconds under eight seconds.)

 

Shots eight and nine (12:02:22 PM) strike Brown’s arm/hand while Brown’s hands are up. Brown’s hands come down and he staggers forward a few feet in the direction of Wilson.

 

12:02:23 PM: While falling to the ground, Brown cradles his arms close to him as Wilson fires shot ten (12:02:23 PM) into his eye and shot eleven (possible fatal bullet fired at 12:02:23 PM) into the top of his head.

 

12:02:25 PM: Brown is dead on Canfield Drive—over 108 feet away from Wilson’s SUV. The time from the confrontation at the SUV to Brown’s death takes just about one minute.

 

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(Vincent Heck was a key contributor to this report.)

 

ORIGINALLY POSTED TO SHAUNKING ON WED OCT 15, 2014 AT 08:22 AM PDT.

 

ALSO REPUBLISHED BY DAILY KOS AND COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT.

 

Thank you Shaun King & DAILY KOS

 

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Someone YOU Should Know: Pfc. LaVena Johnson…..Does Black Life Matter?


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I don’t have the words, so I’ll just shut the fuck up and compose this post.

 

Death of LaVena Johnson

 

LaVena Johnson
Born July 27, 1985
Missouri United States Florissant, Missouri, U.S.
Died July 19, 2005(aged 19)
Iraq Balad, Iraq
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Army seal United States Army
Years of service 2003–2005
Rank Army-USA-OR-03.svg Private First Class (PFC)
Awards Army Good Conduct ribbon.svg Army Good Conduct Medal
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg Army Commendation Medal

 

LaVena Lynn Johnson (July 27, 1985 – July 19, 2005) was a Private First Class in the United States Army whose death, officially ruled a suicide, has attracted international attention amid allegations that her death was actually the result of rape and murder.

 

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Biography

The daughter of Dr. John Johnson, a service veteran, and Linda Johnson, Johnson was born and grew up in Florissant, Missouri.

 

The 5’1″ African American honor student enlisted in the Army immediately after graduating from Hazelwood Central High School. She was deployed to Iraq and stationed in Balad. She had been there for eight weeks before her death on July 19, 2005, nine days before her 20th birthday.

 

Death and controversy

Johnson’s death was officially ruled a suicide by the Department of Defense. However, her father became suspicious when he saw her body in the funeral home and decided to investigate. The Army initially refused to release information, but did so under the Freedom of Information Act after Representative William Lacy Clay, Jr. raised questions about it at the congressional hearings over Pat Tillman‘s death.

 

The autopsy report and photographs revealed Johnson had a broken nose, black eye, loose teeth, burns from a corrosive chemical on her genitals, and a gunshot wound that seemed inconsistent with suicide. Several reporters have suspected that the chemical burns were to destroy DNA evidence of a rape.

 

A spokesman from the House Armed Services Committee said in June 2008 that the committee was looking into Johnson’s death, but they were not yet committing to a formal investigation. Christopher Grey, chief of public affairs for the U.S. Criminal Investigative Command for the Army has said that the case remains closed as far as they are concerned.

 

Following a February 2007 KMOV news report on Johnson’s death, an online petition addressed to the House Armed Services Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee was launched. This was followed by the creation of an official LaVena Johnson website dedicated to developments in prompting a new Army investigation of her death. The petition closed on May 24, 2008 with nearly 12,000 signatures; preparations are being made for delivery to the two committees. In July 2008, the online black activist group Color of Change launched another online petition calling on Henry Waxman, chair of the House Oversight Committee, to conduct a hearing into LaVena Johnson’s death and the Army’s handling of her case and others like it.

 

A documentary film about LaVena Johnson’s family struggle for justice was made in 2010, directed by Joan Brooker and titled LaVena Johnson: The Silent Truth.

 

On July 19, 2011, the criminal justice students in the Cold Case Investigative Research Institute (CCIRI) run as a student club by three universities, selected Johnson’s case, as their case for investigation. The CCIRI’s crime scene reconstruction will help shed light on this case that has attracted worldwide attention.

 

The Silent Truth (Trailer)

 

Published on Jul 1, 2014

Murder or Suicide? On a military base in Iraq, PFC LaVena Johnson is found dead, shot in the head. The Army rules it a suicide,her family believes it is murder. “The Silent Truth” follows the Johnson’s pursuit of truth and justice for their daughter.

 

 

 

The Silent Truth – LaVena Johnson

 

Is there an army cover up of the rape and murder of women soldiers?

 

Ninety-four United States military women have died in Iraq or during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).  Of these deaths some twenty occurred under extremely suspicious circumstances; defined by the Army and the Department of Defense as ‘non-combat related injuries,’ with the additional characterization of ‘suicide’.

 

‘The Silent Truth’, tells the story of nineteen year-old U. S. Army Private LaVena Johnson, who was found dead on the military base in Balad, Iraq in July, 2005, her death determined by the US Army to be suicide by a self-inflicted M-16 gun shot.  Through interviews with Ms. Johnson’s parents, Dr. John and Linda Johnson, this documentary tells the story of the family’s struggle to find the truth surrounding LaVena’s death, and their continued pursuit of justice for their daughter.  As Dr. Johnson explains it — from the day his daughter’s body was returned to him, he had grave suspicions about the Army’s characterization of her death as suicide.

 

He says that while viewing his daughter’s body at the funeral home, he developed concerns about the bruising on her face. He was also puzzled by the discrepancy in the autopsy report regarding the location of the gunshot wound.  Dr. Johnson, a U. S.  Army veteran and a twenty-five year U. S. Army civilian employee who had counseled veterans, was mystified about how the exit wound of an M-16 shot could be so small. The hole in LaVena’s head appeared to be more the size of a pistol shot rather than an M-16 round. He questioned why the exit hole was on the left side of her head, when she was right handed. But the fact that military uniform white gloves were glued onto LaVena’s hands, hiding third degree burns, is what deepened Dr. Johnson’s suspicion that the Army’s investigation into the death of his daughter was flawed.

 

As the documentary will show, over the next two and one-half years, Dr. and Mrs. Johnson and their family and friends, through the Freedom of Information Act and Congressional offices, relentlessly requested that the Department of the Army supply them with all documents concerning LaVena’s death. With each response of the Army to their demands, another piece of information/evidence about LaVena’s death emerged.

 

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Most shocking, was a CD Dr. Johnson received of photographs taken by Army investigators of his daughter’s body as it lay where it had been found, as well as other photographs of her disrobed body taken just prior to the autopsy.

 

These photographs reveal that LaVena, a small woman, barely 5 feet tall and weighing less than 100 pounds, had been brutally beaten. The photographs of her disrobed body showed bruises, scratch marks and teeth imprints on the upper part of her torso. The right side of her back as well as her right hand had been burned and there was clear evidence of sexual assault.

 

As the Johnsons explain in our interviews, despite the bruises, scratches, teeth imprints and burns on her body, Lavena was found completely dressed in a burning contractor’s tent. There was a blood trail outside the tent.  She apparently had been dressed after the attack and her body moved into the tent and set it on fire.

 

On April 9, 2008, Dr. John Johnson and his wife, Linda, flew from their home in St. Louis for meetings with U.S. Congress members and their staffs, requesting that the Army reopen LaVena’s case.  There they met with Representative Clay from Missouri, his staff, and representatives from the Army’s investigative unit.  The Army maintained its position throughout the dialogue and had no answers for the Johnsons when contradictions in the evidence were pointed out.  They steadfastly insisted that LaVena had shot herself.

 

Today the Johnsons are continuing the fight to have their daughter’s case reopened by the Army and are still requesting a congressional hearing into the obvious cover-up.  As filmmakers we are following this renewed effort, and have initiated our own meetings with Congressional members of both the Armed Services Committee and the Oversight Committee.

 

Interviews with our Military Consultant, (Ret.) Colonel Ann Wright will also be included in the film. Colonel Wright will provide an overview of sexual abuse of women troops in the military, its alarming increase, and describe several other suspicious ‘suicides’, that have yet to be resolved.

 

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KILLED IN IRAQ: PFC LAVENA JOHNSON: MAY HER DEATH NOT BE IN VAIN; ONLINE PETITION STRIKES A CHORD WITH BAISDEN

 

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By D. Morton Glover, www.bmorenews.com

 

(FLORISSANT, MISSOURI – February 17, 2014) – Have you heard of the case of Private First Class LaVena Johnson?

 

Born July 27, 1985, Private First Class LaVena L. Johnson died in Iraq on July 19, 2005. The US military said that it was suicide. Others doubt it. Others believe she was brutally beaten, raped, mutilated and murdered in Balad by her own fellow soldiers. Needless to say, her family does not believe it is an isolated incident … at all.

 

LaQuay Juel recently shared news about the case … and its status. He created an online FaceBook page (LaVena Johnson Petition). It has since picked up lots of support.

 

The Johnson Family Story

 

Published on Jul 14, 2012

Nineteen year-old Army PFC LaVena Johnson, was found dead on a military base in Balad, Iraq in 2005. The U.S. Army ruled Lavena’s death a suicide, but an autopsy report and photographs revealed Johnson had a broken nose, black eye, loose teeth, burns from a corrosive chemical on her genitals, and a gunshot wound that seemed inconsistent with suicide. LaVena’s father, John Johnson, shares his family’s fight to get answers from the military about his daughter’s death.

 

LaVena’s story is the eighth mini-documentary that Protect Our Defenders has produced about military sexual trauma. http://www.protectourdefenders.com

 

Protect Our Defenders Foundation is a human rights organization. We honor, support and give voice to the brave women and men in uniform who have been raped or sexually assaulted by fellow service members. We seek to fix the military training, investigation and adjudication systems for sexual harassment, assault and rape –systems which often re-victimize assault survivors by blaming them and failing to prosecute perpetrators. http://www.protectourdefenders.com

 

 

 

 ProtectOurDefenders

 

 

The Epidemic of Military Rape

 

 

 

Panayiota’s Story

 

 

 

Darchelle’s Story

 

 

Rebecca’s Story

 

 

 

Who Killed PFC LaVena Johnson???

 

 

 

Michael’s Story

 

 

 

Jenny’s Story

 

 

 

Heath’s Story

 

 

 

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Justice for Pfc. LaVena Johnson?

 

By 

 

PFC LaVena Johnson


It’s not easy to shock me anymore, but during a recent a conversation with a former female Marine about military rape, I received the shock of my life when she adamantly stated: “Military rapes are few and far between, and most of these bitches are filing false charges.”

 

Whoa. It’s not that I don’t believe false charges are sometimes levied. But to say that rapes are few and far between demonstrates the deep-seated denial currently in place. As her words sank in, I suddenly felt my face grow hot, and the distinct image of Pfc. LaVena Johnson’s raped and bloodied body surfaced in my mind.

 

Pfc. Johnson had been in Iraq for six weeks when her dead body was found inside of her tent in July 2005. The autopsy report received by the family from Army CID raised more questions than answers, so her parents, Dr. John Johnson and his wife Linda requested photographs of the death scene. Their suspicions were confirmed when the photos revealed severe injuries such as a broken nose, blackened eye, loose teeth, burns from a corrosive chemical on her genitals, and a gunshot wound to the head. Despite the strange array of injuries, the Army has remained steadfast in its determination that Johnson committed suicide.

 

Since that time, the Johnson’s have attempted to move heaven and earth to get her death reinvestigated by the Army. When that didn’t work, they put together their own team of experts. And guess what? It is their opinion that before Pfc. Johnson was murdered, she was raped.

 

I’ve known about PFC Johnson’s case for a long time. When I started the organizationMilitary Families for Justice along with retired Lt. Colonel Tracy Shue, widow of Colonel Philip Shue USAF, and Kimberly Stahlman, widow of Colonel Michael Stahlman USMC, LaVena’s was the first case we featured on our website. Over the years, we have witnessed people turn a blind-eye to the story. So much so, that we’ve often wondered if LaVena’s case would be taken seriously if she were not African-American.

 

We talk about it often, and every time, the conversation inevitably turns to the movie adaptation of John Grisham’s book, A Time to Kill. If you’ve never seen the movie, a black man kills the white men who raped his little girl. There is a scene when the defense attorney, portrayed by Matthew McConaughey, is giving his closing argument and asks the jury to close their eyes while he describes the brutal rape of his clients little girl. As he guides their imaginations through the horrific, prolonged attack, quiet tears start rolling down their faces. He repeatedly asks “Can you see her?” And just about the time their minds are fully immersed in the raw brutality of what happened to this young black girl, he abruptly switches tactics and tells them to “imagine she is white.” This leaves the all-white jury aghast and shocked; emotions they had not expressed when imagining the victim as black. In their minds, it had not been quite as horrible while they pictured a little black girl being raped and beaten.

 

Despite a considerable amount of media coverage, including a LA Times article by investigative reporter David Zucchino, the Johnson’s have not received even a modicum of justice in LaVena’s death and I cannot understand why. What’s the harm in reopening the investigation? Is it really because — dare I say — LaVena is black? The Johnson’s have never played the race card in their quest. But I am willing to pull that card. I can’t help but wonder if the military investigators and politicians in Washington D.C. would be so blind if she had white skin, blond hair and blue eyes. I suppose this is a question best left to them and their conscious.

 

Recently, there has been some rumblings of hope as Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced legislation to improve the military justice system for rape victims. The problem with this initiative is that it only helps those who are alive and able to speak for themselves. While this could be triumphant for sexual assault victims, it does nothing for alleged victims like LaVena. And how could it? As far as the military system of justice is concerned, LaVena killed herself, and since her family has no independent unbiased forum in which to have their own evidence judged that’s the way it will remain.

 

The answer to this problem may lie in The Bill of Rights for Bereaved Military Families. It’s an idea Military Families for Justice has been trying to get introduced to Congress. If adopted, it would provide the independent forum families like the Johnson’s need. The concept of giving rights to military families is not new; the United Kingdom already has something very similar in place under its Military Covenant that extends to a service members family, allowing them to speak for the deceased. So why can’t the United States do this? The point is not to prove the military right or wrong, its purpose is simply to seek the truth, whatever that may be. We have made many calls to both Senator Gillibrand as well as her co-sponsor Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine). A representative from Collins’ office did show genuine interest in the idea and as of this writing we are waiting for their next call. Time will tell.

 

In the meantime, the dignified determination of the Johnson family soldiers on. Sometimes I wonder how they keep from mentally snapping just like the fictional father in Grisham’s story, but they remain dauntless. An example of their courage is visible in the 2010 Midtown Films documentary The Silent Truth. The film deals with the subject of military rape and how it has been swept under the rug for too long. It also reveals the trauma a family endures by simply asking for logical proof. In the film, I was awestruck by Dr. Johnson’s fierce love for his daughter as he delivered a warning to the military:

 

My daughter was beaten, raped, murdered, set on fire and then tried to burn her tent down with her body in it; and your evidence says that. So it will be a cold day in hell before I stop, and I mean that with all my heart.

It is an assault on the very fabric of our nation to ignore the pain, injustice and pleas for help from members of our Armed Services and their families. If you don’t believe these tragedies are occurring, open your eyes and look at LaVena.

 

Pfc.LaVena Johnson -The Silent Truth

 

 

I just do not have the comprehension how this could ever be ruled a suicide. Do YOU? I am saddened and ashamed that I have never heard this tragic story until right this moment. What does that say about the AmeriKKKan system of justice. More puzzling and shocking is this….what does it say about the AmeriKKKan system of media reporting. Would I have seen this on AmeriKKKan news outlets if Pfc.LaVena Johnson had been blonde haired and blue eyed?

 

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