Log in

Blog Post

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   Next >  Last >> 
  • 30 Aug 2018 5:08 PM | Ron Wynn (Administrator)

     CULTURAL REFLECTIONS III
     

    A. Oliver found guilty

    When a Texas jury found former police officer Roy Oliver guilty of murder August 28 for shooting and killing 15-year-old Jordan Edwards,  it marked one of the rare times that a cop has been convicted in a criminal proceeding. Many times prosecutors don't even bring these officers to trial, or they are simply booted off the force but don't face any criminal penalty for their actions, no matter how egregious. But in this case Oliver's actions in firing into a car full of youngsters trying to get away, plus the subsequent attempts at covering up his actions by claiming that the teens had tried to ram him with their car, was too much for the prosecution to stomach.

    Indeed prosecutor Faith Johnson called Oliver "a killer in blue," and had sought a 60-year sentence. The defense argued for 20 years, and Oliver got 15. While it no doubt will be appealed, this case is a blueprint for the importance of video cam footage. It was dash cam footage that showed conclusively that Oliver and his fellow officers, who are now facing various charges of conspiracy and lying on a police report, were trying to cover his tracks when he claimed that he had to shoot in self defense. While Edwards mother was disappointed that he didn't get anywhere from 25-50 years, at least she knows her son's killer will be going to prison.

    Sadly, the same things can't be said for the families of  Michael Brown or Tamir Rice or many others, young and old, who have been shot and killed in highly questionable shootings. The next headline case begins next week in Chicago, where Jason Van Dyke goes on trial for the 2014 murder of Laquan McDonald. Here's another situation where a police officer initially claimed that someone was trying to attack them, only to later have that contradicted by video footage. McDonald was shot SIXTEEN (16) times by Van Dyke, who emptied his weapon within seconds of arriving on the scene.

    One of the things that you often hear in supposed defense of police officers is that "this is a tough and thankless job." Yes, it is, and yes, it should be because police officers take an oath to protect citizens. No one is forced to become a police officer. Their job is only easy in a police state. The role of the police is to arrest suspects and bring them in for trial, not to perform summary executions. Certainly if someone attacks or shoots at a police officer, or if someone is threatening the lives of innocent citizens, then they are authorized to use deadly force.

    But what really irritates so many Black citizens is the disproportionate number of Black suspects that get killed, especially unarmed ones, as opposed to all the times you see Whites brought in alive, even those who've fired on police or killed others prior to their arrest. The Dylan Roof case, where he kills multiple Blacks in a church, then gets a chance to eat lunch before being brought in alive, is just one case among many that really rile and aggravate the already bad relationships between police and the Black community.

    These are rough times in many neighborhoods, and police are needed to protect communities from predators. But when police emulate or utilize the tactics of criminals, then citizens in turn have no more respect for or trust in them than any other criminals. Until there are more convictions of police who betray their oath, and more willingness of police officials to understand and try to deal with the distrust that so many ordinary citizens have towards them, a bad situation will only get worse, and the problem of crime will go unresolved.

    B. - "Black KKKlansman Controversy"

    Spike Lee's latest film "Black KKKlansman" has gotten some of his best reviews in many years, and plenty of coverage. But it wasn't until last week that it encountered any substantive negative attention and it came from someone who has previously cited him as an influence and inspiration. Director Boots Riley, whose current film "Sorry To Bother You" explores racism in telemarketing and public relations, attacked Lee for "doing a propaganda film for the police department."

    The main story is about '70s Black cop Ron Stallworth, who managed to convince KKK leader David Duke that he was a supporter of his cause, and somehow even became a card carrying member of the Klan. His White Jewish partner infiltrated the Colorado Springs branch of the KKK using Stallworth's identity, and the two eventually foiled a plot to destroy the Black Student Union at Colorado State University and disrupt a major event. But Day's piece, which can be read online via the Black Agenda Report, also accuses Lee of misrepresenting his film as a completely true story, when there are multiple elements that are fictional.

    "The real Ron Stallworth infiltrated a Black radical organization for three years (not for one event like the movie portrays) where he did what all papers from the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (Cointelpro), that were found through the Freedom of Information Act, tell us he did -- sabotage a Black radical organization whose intent had to do with, at the very least, fighting racist oppression. Cointelpro papers show us that these police infiltrators of radical organizations worked to try to disrupt the organizations through things like instigating infighting, acting crazy to make the organizations look bad, getting physical altercations happening, and setting them up to be murdered by police and others. Ron Stallworth was part of the Cointelpro. Cointelpro’s objectives were to destroy radical organizations, especially Black radical organizations."

    Riley goes on to say that while the FBI also infiltrated the KKK and Neo-Nazi groups, they didn't try to disrupt or destroy them the way they did the Black Panthers and other Black radical organizations. He doesn't tell people to boycott or not watch the film, but does harshly criticize both Lee and Stallworth. Lee thus far has not attempted to defend the film, nor directly respond to Riley's comments other than to disagree with the contention that the police are the enemy.  "Look at my films: they’ve been very critical of the police, but on the other hand I’m never going to say all police are corrupt, that all police hate people of color. I’m not going to say that. I mean, we need police."

    Setting aside the undeniably sad aspect of one gifted Black director attacking another, and one who influenced him to get into the business in the first place as well, Riley raises some important points. My initial impression upon seeing "Black KKKlansman" was that it was indeed a true story, but I allowed for some creative license. However if it's true Stallworth was part of Cointelpro that definitely changes my views regarding him. Also the portion featuring him in conflict with a Black woman he became involved with during the undercover operation was apparently also a fictional creation.

    I agree with Lee though that ALL police cannot be dismissed or assumed to be enemies. However far too many are engaging in acts of misconduct or brutality, and the entire institution as a whole has been sullied. It is very hard for people to trust those they deem corrupt, and too many Blacks for too many decades have seen police engaging in violent, criminal and often fatal actions without retribution or punishment. It is way past time for police officers who do not endorse or embrace brutal tactics, nor engage in misconduct, to stand up and speak out against those who do, as well as insist that police unions stop routinely defending any and all actions done by officers.

    I still think "Black KKKlansman" is among Spike Lee's better films, but some truth in advertising might have prevented this. Had he simply said or at least said more prominently that this film is "based on a true story" or was "inspired by a true story," then even if Riley makes those claims, they carry less weight because this wasn't being marketed, presented or even implied to be a completely accurate account. Instead, there's now a controversy, and what should be a moment of triumph is instead shrouded in dispute.

  • 16 Aug 2018 2:15 PM | Ron Wynn (Administrator)

    Police reform remains hot issue

    By Ron Wynn

    It has taken two deaths and several rallies, but now it seems Nashville will finally get a chance to create a citizens review board, or community oversight group, or what anyone wants to call a coalition of citizens who will assess and examine police behavior in controversial and questionable situations.

    The Davidson County Election Commission voted 5-0 August 15 to add a proposed Metro Charter amendment to the November ballot that would establish an independent police watchdog entity. They validated nearly 5,000 signatures (4,801 to be exact) on a petition to make it a referendum issue.

    The local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) immediately announced plans to challenge this in court, an action that only worsens relations between law enforcement and the Nashville Black community. The police are now not only perceived as an invading or occupying force, but one also afraid of community scrutiny.

    The mayor continues to waffle, saying he supports creating this board in principle, but has differences with the group Community Oversight Now. It's more likely he doesn't want to be viewed in some corners as politically supporting anything endorsed by Black Lives Matter Nashville, who's also involved with this petition, and has called for the resignation or firing of police chief Steve Anderson.

    Meanwhile there's no word from District Attorney Glenn Funk's office (at least not up to now) over whether he intends to press for any type of indictment against Andrew Delke, the 25-year-old officer who shot Daniel Hambrick (also 25) four times last month as Hambrick was fleeing. 

    Hambrick's family has demanded Funk pursue a murder charge, but that is highly unlikely unless the TBI investigation produces something more shocking than what's on the video. That footage has now appeared on "Good Morning America," "CNN," the BBC, and pretty much every online Black and news website.

    Judging from some of the things said during two marches held over the weekend of August 11-12, folks have had their fill of excuses and rationalizations.

     Everyone from the NAACP to the Ministerial Alliance and the ACLU is demanding change. Even chief Anderson called the video "very disturbing," and publicly said the policy being taught at the police Academy regarding foot pursuit was under review.

    ALL their policies need to be under review in light of not only the two shootings over the last two years, but the exhaustive report compiled by members of Gideon's Army which showed a glaring disparity in traffic stops that was racially based. 

    There is a crisis in policing and a lack of confidence in them from the people who most need their services. Nothing breeds contempt faster among the citizenry of law enforcement than police misconduct and brutality, and no one benefits from it more than criminal predators. 

    They delight in the fact their actions won't be reported because people are too disgusted and/or afraid of the police to enlist their aid in riding neighborhoods of their presence.

    Right-wingers can spout all the "Law and Order" rhetoric they like, but until police are not only willing to interact with the communities they patrol on a regular rather than crisis basis, but also stop resisting any attempts at oversight or input from citizens, they will never get either the trust they need or the co-operation they seek.

    Ferguson Revisited

    Captain Ron Johnson was a native of Ferguson, and had been in law enforcement for three decades when his entire life changed.  When a young Black man named Michael Brown was killed by a white policeofficer on August 9, 2014,  Ferguson exploded. 

    After five days of unrest,  Johnson, a veteran State Trooper,  was placed in charge of restoring peace to his hometown.  The next 13 days were a mix of triumph and defeat. Johnson spent parts of each day marching with protesters.

    He was suddenly on demand for CNN interviews, but he also became a pariah to many of his fellow police. One officer once even asked him if he were now "one of them,"  as though he had suddenly joined enemy forces.

    Johnson joined noted author Alan Eisenstock to write the new book "13 Days In Ferguson" (Tyndale),  a detailed account of his experiences.  It shows both the suspicion and contempt many Black citizens hold for the police,  and the equal amount of resentment and distrust these officers have for the people they've taken an oath to serve and protect.  

    Johnson frequently feels totally isolated, as the people he's trying to help doubt him, and his fellow officers feel he's betrayed them. Anyone who wants a candid look  inside 21st century police attitudes, and some understanding of just how wide the divide currently is between cops and ordinary citizens, particularly Black ones,  will find "13 Days in Ferguson" eye-opening material.


    T.

  • 02 Aug 2018 5:01 PM | Ron Wynn (Administrator)

    Cultural Reflections - August 2, 2018

    This is the first in the weekly series of blog posts I'm calling Cultural Reflections. I will discuss cultural and political issues here and this is exclusive Everything Underground content.

    Cultural Reflections

    By Ron Wynn

    I - Mike Epps' memories

    Before reading Mike Epps' new memoir "Unsuccessful Thug  - One Comedian's Journey From Naptown To Tinsel Town" (Harper Collins), he was hardly my favorite comic or actor.  I'd seen him here and there, most notably in "Showtime at the Apollo," and also a couple of episodes of the forgettable network TV show "Uncle Buck."

    In addition, he was in several films, but not being particularly enamored of what's presented these days as Black comedy, I passed on most of them. When I heard he was tabbed to play Richard Pryor in a forthcoming biopic, my reaction was less than exuberant.

    But now, after reading "Unsuccessful Thug," I've become a Mike Epps fan. Not so much for the comic routines, but for the searing, frank and often compelling narrative he presents here, one totally at odds with my experiences.

    I grew up in the Jim Crow era as the son of two educators with only one sister. Epps came up in a large family, didn't have much relationship with or knowledge of his father for years, and eventually found himself attracted to the lifestyle of a criminal.

    Two things saved him from that dubious fate. The first is he wasn't very good at it. The second and more important reason was he could make people laugh. While that was problematic in school and often even in peer settings, it became the means by which he not only survived his rough early years, but became a star.

    This volume initially takes you inside the turbulent world of contemporary black youth, and later into the arena of Black Hollywood. Epps details in stark fashion some of the things he did, others he considered, and describes the time he spent in jail as eye-opening. 

    Once he even had to call the police to rescue him because a dog had trapped him inside a home he was trying to rob. The scenario is so absurd, yet tragic,  it helped finally show Epps he wasn't cut out to be a thief or a gangster.

    Fortunately he did have show business savvy and comedic skills, and the book's second half shows him slowly but surely climbing the cinematic and television ladder. He meets and becomes friends with many of the most recognizable faces today among Black actors, while also becoming aware of the pitfalls of success, and the relentless competition even those Blacks who've achieved some degree of fame face. 

    He also discusses being typecast by casting directors, how and why certain projects work and others fail, how it feels to perform in front of large audiences, and ultimately his joy at being tabbed to portray his idol Richard Pryor,. Sadly, after meeting him, Epps sees his not so great side and the impact drug abuse had on Pryor in his later years.

    Mike Epps' story is an instructive one, particularly for members of my generation who don't realize how totally different the circumstances many Black youth face today are from what they were even in the '70s and '80s, let alone the 50s and '60s. 

    Too many older Blacks are quick to dismiss and degrade youth, exaggerate their defects and problems, and lament their lack of respect or knowledge of Black history. But given the circumstances described in "Unsuccessful Thug," which by no means are novel or unique to Mike Epps, it's more a wonder how many young Blacks today are NOT involved in crime, nor do any of the things a lot of older folks are constantly complaining about and claiming they do.

    While I'm not part of the demographic that has made Mike Epps a star, I would recommend without reservation everyone read "Unsuccessful Thug." I wish him well in all his future endeavors, and will in fact go see his portrayal of Pryor whenever the film gets released. My feeling is that will be Mike Epps' finest performance.

    II - More police controversy

    Nashville recently became the latest city to face the issue of controversial police behavior and a questionable shooting. When the story surfaced that 25-year-old Daniel Hambrick had been killed by police officer Andrew Delke (also 25) at a traffic stop, the reaction was immediate and intense. It became even louder once it was discovered that there was no body or dash camera footage available, just some surveillance footage. 

    There was also the question of whether Hambrick had a gun, and if he did had he pointed it at police. When the autopsy report revealed that Hambrick had been shot in the back, even more questions emerged. Now the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) is officially probing the case, and a demonstration was held last weekend by several members of not only his family, but also the overall Black Nashville community, plus some concerned Whites as well.

    There are three different issues that must be addressed with this case. The first concerns exactly what happened. If it is determined that Hambrick was shot while fleeing, then there seems a clear cut case of procedure being violated. Police officers are only supposed to use deadly force to save themselves or save civilians, not to shoot anyone trying to get away. 

    A second issue concerns the absence of body and dashcam footage. Stories have since shown that while thousands of dollars was allocated last year to outfit Nashville police and police cars with the proper equipment, only a handful of officers and/or cars have it. A lot of excuses have since been floated regarding why, but bottom line is the city didn't put any real effort and nor did the police department in getting this technology out there so it would be available in case something like this happened.

    The third issue involves oversight. Nashville lacks a civilian oversight board, something that the police chief and union are dead set against happening, but which should have come to pass decades ago. In too many cities the police investigate themselves whenever a questionable shooting occurs. In too many cases District Attorneys are also so closely linked to police departments they hesitate to bring charges against cops, even those obviously corrupt or who have grossly violated procedure.

    The Nashville and state branches of the NAACP have also called for an independent and objective investigation. Communities need police protection. There are predators out there with no compunction about robbing or killing people, and sadly there far too many of them in Black communities. 

    But it does no one any good to have police emulating the behavior of criminals while claiming to be enforcing the law. All that does is breed distrust and make people resistant to aiding police when they do need help. For all the rhetoric about so-called "Black on Black" crime, the vast majority of African-Americans are law abiding folks. They just have seen way too much police brutality and injustice in their time to blindly fall in line behind any "law and order" rhetoric. 

    The only way for police departments to overcome that hostility is to to be far more transparent, and also willing to let the people they are sworn to protect be involved in assessing whether they have violated procedure in certain situations.

    Nashville now has its mayor chosen for the remainder of what would have been Megan Barry's term (2 more years). So the voters will soon see whether David Briley also lets the police chief and union dictate how he responds to the call for a citizen's advisory board, or whether he actually does something that should have been done years ago and oversees the creation of such an organization.

    on Wynn


    I - Mike Epps' memories


    Before reading Mike Epps' new memoir "Unsuccessful Thug  One Comedian's Journey From Naptown To Tinsel Town" (Harper Collins), he was hardly my favorite comic or actor. I'd seen him here and there, most notably in "Showtime at the Apollo," and also a couple of episodes of the forgettable network TV  show "Uncle Buck." In addition, he was in several films, but not being particularly enamored of what's presented these days as Black comedy, I passed on most of them. When I heard he was tabbed to play Richard Pryor in a forthcoming biopic, my reaction was less than exuberant.


    But now, after reading "Unsuccessful Thug," I've become a Mike Epps fan. Not so much for the comic routines, but for the searing, frank and often compelling narrative he presents here, one totally at odds with my experiences growing up in the Jim Crow era, being the son of two educators, and only having one sister. Epps by comparison grew up in a large family, didn't have much relationship with or knowledge of his father for years, and eventually found himself attracted to the lifestyle of a criminal. Two things saved him from that dubious fate. The first is he wasn't very good at it. The second and more important reason was he could make people laugh. While that was problematic in school and often even in peer settings, it became the means by which he not only survived his rough early years, but became a star.


    This volume initially takes you inside the turbulent world of contemporary black youth, and later into the arena of Black Hollywood. Epps details in stark fashion some of the things he did, others he considered, and describes the time he spent in jail as eye-opening. Once he even had to call the police to rescue him because a dog had trapped him inside a home he was trying to rob. The scenario is so absurd yet tragic it helped finally show Epps he wasn't cut out to be a thief or a gangster.


    Fortunately he did have show business savvy and comedic skills, and the book's second half shows him slowly but surely climbing the cinematic and television ladder. He meets and becomes friends with many of the most recognizable faces today among Black actors, while also becoming aware of the pitfalls of success, and the relentless competition even those Blacks who've achieved some degree of fame face. He also talks about being typecast by casting directors, how and why certain projects work and others fail, how it feels to perform in front of large audiences, and ultimately his joy at being tabbed to portray his idol Richard Pryor, even after meeting and seeing his not so great side and the impact drug abuse had on Pryor in his later years.


    Mike Epps' story is an instructive one, particularly for members of my generation who don't realize how totally different the circumstances many Black youth face today are from what they were even in the '70s and '80s, let alone the 50s and '60s. Too many older Blacks are quick to dismiss and degrade youth, exaggerate their defects and problems, and lament their lack of respect or knowledge of Black history. But given the circumstances described in "Unsuccessful Thug," which by no means are novel or unique to Mike Epps, it's more a wonder how many young Blacks today are NOT involved in crime, nor do any of the things a lot of older folks are constantly complaining about and claiming they do.


    While I'm not part of the demographic that has made Mike Epps a star, I would recommend without reservation everyone read "Unsuccessful Thug." I wish him well in all his future endeavors, and will in fact go see his portrayal of Pryor whenever the film gets released. My feeling is that will be Mike Epps' finest performance.


    II - More police controversy


    Nashville recently became the latest city to face the issue of controversial police behavior and a questionable shooting. When the story surfaced that 25-year-old Daniel Hambrick had been killed by police officer Andrew Delke (also 25) at a traffic stop, the reaction was immediate and intense. It became even louder once it was discovered that there was no body or dash camera footage available, just some surveillance footage. There was also the question of whether Hambrick had a gun, and if he did had he pointed it at police. When the autopsy report revealed that Hambrick had been shot in the back, even more questions emerged. Now the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) is officially probing the case, and a demonstration was held last weekend by several members of not only his family, but also the overall Black Nashville community, plus some concerned Whites as well.


    There are three different issues that must be addressed with this case. The first concerns exactly what  happened. If it is determined that Hambrick was shot while fleeing, then there seems a clear cut case of procedure being violated. Police officers are only supposed to use deadly force to save themselves or save civilians, not to shoot anyone trying to get away. A second issue concerns the absence of body and dashcam footage. Stories have since shown that while thousands of dollars was allocated last year to outfit Nashville police and police cars with the proper equipment, only a handful of officers and/or cars have it. A lot of excuses have since been floated out regarding why, but bottom line is the city didn't put any real effort and nor did the police department in getting this technology out there so it would be available in case something like this happened.


    The third issue involves oversight. Nashville lacks a civilian oversight board, something that the police chief and union are dead set against happening, but which should have come to pass decades ago. In too many cities the police investigate themselves whenever a questionable shooting occurs. In too many cases District Attorneys are also so closely linked to police departments they hesitate to bring charges against cops, even those obviously corrupt or who have grossly violated procedure.


    The Nashville and state branches of the NAACP have also called for an independent and objective investigation.


    Communities need police protection. There are predators out there with no compunction about robbing or killing people, and sadly there far too many of them in Black communities. But it does no one any good to have police emulating the behavior of criminals while claiming to be enforcing the law. All that does is breed distrust and make people resistant to aiding police when they do need help. For all the rhetoric about so-called "Black on Black" crime, the vast majority of African-Americans are law abiding folks. They just have seen way too much police brutality and injustice in their time to blindly fall in line behind any "law and order" rhetoric. The only way for police departments to overcome that hostility is to to be far more transparent, and also willing to let the people they are sworn to protect be involved in assessing whether they have violated procedure in certain situations.


    Nashville now has its mayor chosen for the remainder of what would have been Megan Barry's term (2 more years). So the voters will soon see whether David Briley also lets the police chief and union dictate how he responds to the call for a citizen's advisory board, or whether he actually does something that should have been done years ago and oversees the creation of such an organization.



    Cultural Reflections

    By Ro

    Cultural Reflections

    By Ron Wynn


    I - Mike Epps' memories


    Before reading Mike Epps' new memoir "Unsuccessful Thug  One Comedian's Journey From Naptown To Tinsel Town" (Harper Collins), he was hardly my favorite comic or actor. I'd seen him here and there, most notably in "Showtime at the Apollo," and also a couple of episodes of the forgettable network TV  show "Uncle Buck." In addition, he was in several films, but not being particularly enamored of what's presented these days as Black comedy, I passed on most of them. When I heard he was tabbed to play Richard Pryor in a forthcoming biopic, my reaction was less than exuberant.


    But now, after reading "Unsuccessful Thug," I've become a Mike Epps fan. Not so much for the comic routines, but for the searing, frank and often compelling narrative he presents here, one totally at odds with my experiences growing up in the Jim Crow era, being the son of two educators, and only having one sister. Epps by comparison grew up in a large family, didn't have much relationship with or knowledge of his father for years, and eventually found himself attracted to the lifestyle of a criminal. Two things saved him from that dubious fate. The first is he wasn't very good at it. The second and more important reason was he could make people laugh. While that was problematic in school and often even in peer settings, it became the means by which he not only survived his rough early years, but became a star.


    This volume initially takes you inside the turbulent world of contemporary black youth, and later into the arena of Black Hollywood. Epps details in stark fashion some of the things he did, others he considered, and describes the time he spent in jail as eye-opening. Once he even had to call the police to rescue him because a dog had trapped him inside a home he was trying to rob. The scenario is so absurd yet tragic it helped finally show Epps he wasn't cut out to be a thief or a gangster.


    Fortunately he did have show business savvy and comedic skills, and the book's second half shows him slowly but surely climbing the cinematic and television ladder. He meets and becomes friends with many of the most recognizable faces today among Black actors, while also becoming aware of the pitfalls of success, and the relentless competition even those Blacks who've achieved some degree of fame face. He also talks about being typecast by casting directors, how and why certain projects work and others fail, how it feels to perform in front of large audiences, and ultimately his joy at being tabbed to portray his idol Richard Pryor, even after meeting and seeing his not so great side and the impact drug abuse had on Pryor in his later years.


    Mike Epps' story is an instructive one, particularly for members of my generation who don't realize how totally different the circumstances many Black youth face today are from what they were even in the '70s and '80s, let alone the 50s and '60s. Too many older Blacks are quick to dismiss and degrade youth, exaggerate their defects and problems, and lament their lack of respect or knowledge of Black history. But given the circumstances described in "Unsuccessful Thug," which by no means are novel or unique to Mike Epps, it's more a wonder how many young Blacks today are NOT involved in crime, nor do any of the things a lot of older folks are constantly complaining about and claiming they do.


    While I'm not part of the demographic that has made Mike Epps a star, I would recommend without reservation everyone read "Unsuccessful Thug." I wish him well in all his future endeavors, and will in fact go see his portrayal of Pryor whenever the film gets released. My feeling is that will be Mike Epps' finest performance.


    II - More police controversy


    Nashville recently became the latest city to face the issue of controversial police behavior and a questionable shooting. When the story surfaced that 25-year-old Daniel Hambrick had been killed by police officer Andrew Delke (also 25) at a traffic stop, the reaction was immediate and intense. It became even louder once it was discovered that there was no body or dash camera footage available, just some surveillance footage. There was also the question of whether Hambrick had a gun, and if he did had he pointed it at police. When the autopsy report revealed that Hambrick had been shot in the back, even more questions emerged. Now the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) is officially probing the case, and a demonstration was held last weekend by several members of not only his family, but also the overall Black Nashville community, plus some concerned Whites as well.


    There are three different issues that must be addressed with this case. The first concerns exactly what  happened. If it is determined that Hambrick was shot while fleeing, then there seems a clear cut case of procedure being violated. Police officers are only supposed to use deadly force to save themselves or save civilians, not to shoot anyone trying to get away. A second issue concerns the absence of body and dashcam footage. Stories have since shown that while thousands of dollars was allocated last year to outfit Nashville police and police cars with the proper equipment, only a handful of officers and/or cars have it. A lot of excuses have since been floated out regarding why, but bottom line is the city didn't put any real effort and nor did the police department in getting this technology out there so it would be available in case something like this happened.


    The third issue involves oversight. Nashville lacks a civilian oversight board, something that the police chief and union are dead set against happening, but which should have come to pass decades ago. In too many cities the police investigate themselves whenever a questionable shooting occurs. In too many cases District Attorneys are also so closely linked to police departments they hesitate to bring charges against cops, even those obviously corrupt or who have grossly violated procedure.


    The Nashville and state branches of the NAACP have also called for an independent and objective investigation.


    Communities need police protection. There are predators out there with no compunction about robbing or killing people, and sadly there far too many of them in Black communities. But it does no one any good to have police emulating the behavior of criminals while claiming to be enforcing the law. All that does is breed distrust and make people resistant to aiding police when they do need help. For all the rhetoric about so-called "Black on Black" crime, the vast majority of African-Americans are law abiding folks. They just have seen way too much police brutality and injustice in their time to blindly fall in line behind any "law and order" rhetoric. The only way for police departments to overcome that hostility is to to be far more transparent, and also willing to let the people they are sworn to protect be involved in assessing whether they have violated procedure in certain situations.


    Nashville now has its mayor chosen for the remainder of what would have been Megan Barry's term (2 more years). So the voters will soon see whether David Briley also lets the police chief and union dictate how he responds to the call for a citizen's advisory board, or whether he actually does something that should have been done years ago and oversees the creation of such an organization

    n Wynn


    I - Mike Epps' memories


    Before reading Mike Epps' new memoir "Unsuccessful Thug  One Comedian's Journey From Naptown To Tinsel Town" (Harper Collins), he was hardly my favorite comic or actor. I'd seen him here and there, most notably in "Showtime at the Apollo," and also a couple of episodes of the forgettable network TV  show "Uncle Buck." In addition, he was in several films, but not being particularly enamored of what's presented these days as Black comedy, I passed on most of them. When I heard he was tabbed to play Richard Pryor in a forthcoming biopic, my reaction was less than exuberant.


    But now, after reading "Unsuccessful Thug," I've become a Mike Epps fan. Not so much for the comic routines, but for the searing, frank and often compelling narrative he presents here, one totally at odds with my experiences growing up in the Jim Crow era, being the son of two educators, and only having one sister. Epps by comparison grew up in a large family, didn't have much relationship with or knowledge of his father for years, and eventually found himself attracted to the lifestyle of a criminal. Two things saved him from that dubious fate. The first is he wasn't very good at it. The second and more important reason was he could make people laugh. While that was problematic in school and often even in peer settings, it became the means by which he not only survived his rough early years, but became a star.


    This volume initially takes you inside the turbulent world of contemporary black youth, and later into the arena of Black Hollywood. Epps details in stark fashion some of the things he did, others he considered, and describes the time he spent in jail as eye-opening. Once he even had to call the police to rescue him because a dog had trapped him inside a home he was trying to rob. The scenario is so absurd yet tragic it helped finally show Epps he wasn't cut out to be a thief or a gangster.


    Fortunately he did have show business savvy and comedic skills, and the book's second half shows him slowly but surely climbing the cinematic and television ladder. He meets and becomes friends with many of the most recognizable faces today among Black actors, while also becoming aware of the pitfalls of success, and the relentless competition even those Blacks who've achieved some degree of fame face. He also talks about being typecast by casting directors, how and why certain projects work and others fail, how it feels to perform in front of large audiences, and ultimately his joy at being tabbed to portray his idol Richard Pryor, even after meeting and seeing his not so great side and the impact drug abuse had on Pryor in his later years.


    Mike Epps' story is an instructive one, particularly for members of my generation who don't realize how totally different the circumstances many Black youth face today are from what they were even in the '70s and '80s, let alone the 50s and '60s. Too many older Blacks are quick to dismiss and degrade youth, exaggerate their defects and problems, and lament their lack of respect or knowledge of Black history. But given the circumstances described in "Unsuccessful Thug," which by no means are novel or unique to Mike Epps, it's more a wonder how many young Blacks today are NOT involved in crime, nor do any of the things a lot of older folks are constantly complaining about and claiming they do.


    While I'm not part of the demographic that has made Mike Epps a star, I would recommend without reservation everyone read "Unsuccessful Thug." I wish him well in all his future endeavors, and will in fact go see his portrayal of Pryor whenever the film gets released. My feeling is that will be Mike Epps' finest performance.


    II - More police controversy


    Nashville recently became the latest city to face the issue of controversial police behavior and a questionable shooting. When the story surfaced that 25-year-old Daniel Hambrick had been killed by police officer Andrew Delke (also 25) at a traffic stop, the reaction was immediate and intense. It became even louder once it was discovered that there was no body or dash camera footage available, just some surveillance footage. There was also the question of whether Hambrick had a gun, and if he did had he pointed it at police. When the autopsy report revealed that Hambrick had been shot in the back, even more questions emerged. Now the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) is officially probing the case, and a demonstration was held last weekend by several members of not only his family, but also the overall Black Nashville community, plus some concerned Whites as well.


    There are three different issues that must be addressed with this case. The first concerns exactly what  happened. If it is determined that Hambrick was shot while fleeing, then there seems a clear cut case of procedure being violated. Police officers are only supposed to use deadly force to save themselves or save civilians, not to shoot anyone trying to get away. A second issue concerns the absence of body and dashcam footage. Stories have since shown that while thousands of dollars was allocated last year to outfit Nashville police and police cars with the proper equipment, only a handful of officers and/or cars have it. A lot of excuses have since been floated out regarding why, but bottom line is the city didn't put any real effort and nor did the police department in getting this technology out there so it would be available in case something like this happened.


    The third issue involves oversight. Nashville lacks a civilian oversight board, something that the police chief and union are dead set against happening, but which should have come to pass decades ago. In too many cities the police investigate themselves whenever a questionable shooting occurs. In too many cases District Attorneys are also so closely linked to police departments they hesitate to bring charges against cops, even those obviously corrupt or who have grossly violated procedure.


    The Nashville and state branches of the NAACP have also called for an independent and objective investigation.


    Communities need police protection. There are predators out there with no compunction about robbing or killing people, and sadly there far too many of them in Black communities. But it does no one any good to have police emulating the behavior of criminals while claiming to be enforcing the law. All that does is breed distrust and make people resistant to aiding police when they do need help. For all the rhetoric about so-called "Black on Black" crime, the vast majority of African-Americans are law abiding folks. They just have seen way too much police brutality and injustice in their time to blindly fall in line behind any "law and order" rhetoric. The only way for police departments to overcome that hostility is to to be far more transparent, and also willing to let the people they are sworn to protect be involved in assessing whether they have violated procedure in certain situations.


    Nashville now has its mayor chosen for the remainder of what would have been Megan Barry's term (2 more years). So the voters will soon see whether David Briley also lets the police chief and union dictate how he responds to the call for a citizen's advisory board, or whether he actually does something that should have been done years ago and oversees the creation of such an organization



  • 30 May 2018 7:26 AM | Athena Salisbury


    https://harlemnightsfundraiser.eventbrite.com

    THIS EVENT IS 21 AND OLDER!

    The Rose Project & Empowered Living Inc are collaborating to present:  

    Harlem Nights- A Fundraiser Party.                                                                 

    Are you ready to party with a purpose? Join us on June 15th at 8 pm as we raise awareness and funds to change our community! The need for therapeutic services such as mental health assessment and domestic violence prevention are increasing day by day. Those in need of assistance often don't receive the proper care due largely to no financial resources. We need your help! The monies raised during this event will go directly to those in the community that are in need. The Rose Project and Empowered Living Inc are committed to serve those without a voice. With your help, we can expand programs and offer prevention education. Together we can change our community, making the future brighter for all.

    Ticket Pricing:

    FOR EU MEMBERS, PLEASE USE PROMO CODE: EUMEMBERS TO RECEIVE A DISCOUNTED RATE ON GENERAL ADMISSION!

    Everything Underground Pricing: $30 ($32.64 with online fee) Save $5

    General Admission: $35 ($37.92 with online fee)

    Table of 8 Pricing: $240 ($ 254.19 with online fee) Save $40

    (only 10 tables remain)

    Students- Discount rate applies: $20 ($22.09) Student ID must be shown at the door to honor ticket price. Must be 21 years and older.

    THIS EVENT IS 21 AND OLDER!


  • 19 Mar 2018 2:42 PM | Yahudah Ben Yisrael

    Set Free Community Development Corporation

    1109 Candy Mountain Road

    Birmingham, AL 35217

    Greeting in the name of YAHUSHA the Messiah, I pray that all things are well with you.

    My name is Yahudah Ben Yisrael, I am not Black, I am not Color, I am not a Christian, and I am not an African-American. I am a Hebrew Israelite from the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Tribe of Judah.

    This Is My Project

    Worship Center: please note that the first phase of our project is to secure a Worship Center with a Commercial Kitchen and a Chapel. We are going to have Bible Study Monday – Friday from 4:00 PM to 4:55 PM. This is where we will go over the Scriptures and teach people how to live according to the Torah (The Law of Moses). Dinner will be served from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM for all who attend the Bible Study.

    The Kingdom Community: this is the second phase of our project. Each person who get saved and commit to living according to the Scriptures /Torah will be given the opportunity to move into The Kingdom Community, please note that this community will be outside of the city, it is going to be a place where we can grow our own food, raise our own animals. We are going to purchase 125 acres of land in each location. This will allow us to have 200 families in each community.

    Housing: each person or family will purchase their own home of their choice from the list that will be provided for them. They will have ½ acre of land, lot size. We will show them how to secure the money to buy their home.

    Income: each person or family will be given the opportunity to participate in our Cash Crowd Fund Opportunity, and our Network Marketing Opportunities as well so they can receive enough money to pay cash for their home or pay it off in two or three years. And with that, we have a Car Program for $75 per month, Insurance, Tag is included. Halleluyah!

    Education for the Community: We are going to build a Community Center. Included in this Center: Private Free School, Fitness Center, Gym, Computer Lab, Recording Studio, Chapel, Kitchen, and office space. Please note that we have the License and Contract to operate this School.

    Locations: we are going to have one location in Birmingham, Alabama and one location in Atlanta, Georgia, both will be the same. We know that many finances are needed. Will You Join Us And Support Our Project? Listen To This Sizzle Calls, Decide, Yes Or No!  (605) 475-4960 PIN CODE: 411872# THEN Hit 6#.

    We are a 501 (c3) organization. EIN: 16-1773544

    Elder Yahudah Ben Yisrael – Overseer

    (205) 212-0517 Call Or Text.


  • 16 Jan 2018 6:37 PM | Delores Thornton

    Marguerite Press, Inc., & Arts for Lawrence present Black Voices the Grand Finale on Saturday March 3rd  at Theater at the Fort. One performance only don't miss it. Written and Directed by Delores Thornton.

  • 12 Jan 2018 12:56 PM | Anonymous

    “Everybody was like: ‘What’s happening? Is this your date? I don’t understand. Why is this guy here?’” Ms. Saint John said. “It was such a beautiful, human moment,” one that was chronicled on her Instagram account, @badassboz, where she has more than 40,000 followers.

    “We’re all rushing in our lives, and I was so concerned with getting from here to there, and if not for the moment of humanity where we just started talking, that connection would not have happened,” she said. “What a miss that would have been. What a miss!”

    This story was part of what convinced Arianna Huffington, a founder of The Huffington Post and a high-profile member of Uber’s board, that Ms. Saint John was the right person to shepherd Uber out of its recent thicket of legal and ethical scandals.

    Photo

    From left, Andra Day, Lisa Vanderpump and Ms. Saint John at the Women of Influence Awards in 2016.CreditMatt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

    The two women first met at a dinner in Las Vegas last January hosted by Kristin Lemkau, the chief marketing officer of JPMorgan Chase. “We had an instant connection,” Ms. Huffington said. That night, she posted a photo of herself with her arm around a beaming Ms. Saint John on Instagram with the hashtag #thecoolkidsdinner.” The next month, Ms. Huffington attended Ms. Saint John’s 40th birthday party in Los Angeles. (Another Instagram opportunity: “Hard to imagine what she’ll do by 50!” she posted.)

    “Sometimes it takes you months to get to know someone,” Ms. Huffington said. “With her, I felt like she has this incredible capacity for intimacy and for sharing her story and for sharing others’ stories.”

    And, Ms. Huffington said, “She’s great at social media.”

    Indeed, while women have long feared that putting family pictures on their desks might impede their climb up the corporate ladder, Ms. Saint John has broken the glass frame: posing in a bikini with her “baddies” on a beach; snapping a selfie as her daughter, now 8, tags along on a business trip; and posting the last red-carpet photo she took with her husband, Peter Saint John, who died of Burkitt lymphoma in 2013.

    “I’ve been told that I overshare,” she said. “Sometimes I get criticized for it, but how else would I be if not all of me?”

    Ms. Saint John knows it might seem overly calculating of Uber, which has been accused of fostering a hostile work environment for women, to hire an African-American single mother to make over its public image. She doesn’t care. “To me, there’s no sense of tokenism because I know I can do the job — I’m qualified to do the job, I can do a great job,” she said. “Being present as a black woman — just present — is enough to help exact some of the change that is needed and some that we’re looking for.”

    She amplifies this presence with statement-making ensembles like the ruffled, lilac Marni skirt and crop top, gold-encrusted Chanel purse and stiletto heels she wore on a recent morning at Uber’s San Francisco office. “That’s my own personal thing,” Ms. Saint John said of her interest in fashion, so distinct from the hoodie aesthetic around her.

    She has stood out from the crowd since her family settled in Colorado Springs when she was 12, after an itinerant childhood spent in Connecticut, Washington D.C., Kenya and Ghana, where her father was a member of the Parliament from 1979 until the 1981 coup d’état there. Her mother designed and sold clothes and ensured that Ms. Saint John and her three younger sisters stayed connected to their culture, especially once they moved to the Southwest.

    “The first few months were really hard,” Ms. Saint John said. “Having a name that people can’t pronounce” — it’s BOZE-mah — “having a mom that refused to serve pizza on Friday nights when friends came over. She was like, ‘No you’re going to have this pepper soup, I don’t care if you’re sweating.’” (She’s come to appreciate that steadfastness: Accepting an award at an arts fund-raiser hosted by Russell Simmons this month, Ms. Saint John thanked her mother for ingraining her love of African culture.)

    Photo

    Arianna Huffington, second from left, and Ms. Saint John last month. CreditJason Henry for The New York Times

    Ms. Saint John became captain of the cheerleading squad and track team. In her sophomore year, she ran for student council under the tagline “Ain’t Nothin’ but a Boz Thing,” inspired by her anthem of the moment, Dr. Dre’s “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang.”

    “I just thought it was so cool, but nobody got it,” she said. She lost, “but it was a great lesson — you need to connect on your audience’s level, not on your own.”

    Ms. Saint John attended Wesleyan University, ostensibly to prepare for becoming a doctor but managing to teach a class on Tupac Shakur, with a professor’s supervision, in her spare time. She got into medical school but lobbied her parents for a yearlong sabbatical. “They agreed, which was their mistake,” she said.


  • 02 Jan 2018 1:39 PM | Athena Salisbury
    Empowered Living Inc. is proud to present The Vagina Monologues 2018! Currently, there is an epidemic of your women/girls being sold and forced into human trafficking rings. Often those who are victims of trafficking, are held for over 10 years or more before being rescued. Unfortunately, numerous are killed, often their bodies are never found. Because we live in the Midwest, our state is one of the most saturated areas for trafficking. Our efforts to bring awareness and end violence against women and girls needs assistance from everyone in our local community. 


    How can you help? Empowered Living Inc.'s production of the Vagina Monologue has the main goal to raise awareness while raising funds to assist those in need. With the monies raised, we can offer services such as mental health therapy for free or at subsidized pricing. Empowered Living Inc. is an excellent resource and we are working to change our community so that this epidemic can be slowed down and eventually eliminated.

    The Production of the Vagina Monologues will take place on February 9th,10th and 11th at the historic Madam Walker Theatre. For More information on the event and how to purchase tickets, please visit our website and social media links below. Let's take a stand together and change the world!

    Tickets: https://%20elivday2018.eventbrite.com

    Website: https://empoweredliving4.wixsite.com/events

    Facebook: @elivdayindy

    Twitter:  @elivdayindy

    Instagram: elivdayindy

     

  • 07 Nov 2017 12:42 AM | Nicole Kearney

    One of the most common forms of startup financing is family and friends funding. It usually comes after or in tandem with the entrepreneur invests their savings or uses their credit cards to fund their idea. Family and friends funding happens before a bank or angel investor would show interest. Family and friends are typically an entrepreneur's best opportunity to secure money. They are usually investing in the entrepreneur more so than the idea.

    Someone in your direct connection group may also be able to offer more than money. After assessing their strengths, an entrepreneur can consider bringing them on board as a board member or advisor. This can be a helpful way to engage their talents and lead to further business introductions. These introductions could potentially lead to future funding.

    One thing to take into consideration before taking family and friend money are the what ifs. What if the business doesn’t succeed? How will the entrepreneur deal with sitting at a family gathering with someone whose money they have lost? One way to help avoid confusion is to have formal agreements in place. The agreements will clarify the terms, risk, and rewards to the potential investor.

    Another way to accept family and friends money is a gift. Crowdfunding is often the vehicle used. It builds on the entrepreneur's network trading perks or gifts for monetary contributions to the entrepreneur’s idea. Many have found this model to work for them. The timeframe is typically 30 to 90 days and the amounts range from $25,000 to $150,000.

    Entrepreneurs seeking family and friends money as their initial source of funding can use this as a marketing test. If they don’t understand the idea or fail to invest, then perhaps the idea needs to reevaluated. For many angel investors, it’s a red flag if your idea can’t attract family and friends financing.

    An entrepreneur having ‘skin in the game’ is seen as an asset when seeking to fund. If you’re not willing to invest in you, why should others? Make sure you have at least an executive summary and financial projections done. Include in them how the money will be used. Present these to your family and friends as you would any investor. It shows them you are serious.

    Be ready to answer questions, do presentations and if a prototype exists; show it. Anything you can do to show what you have already invested into the idea and how the funds invested will be used to grow the idea into a startup into a company. Now, go raise some money.


  • 21 Sep 2017 1:32 PM | Ron Wynn (Administrator)

    Bernie Casey truly deserved the title of "Renaissance Man." Casey, who passed away Wednesday at 78, achieved fame and distinction as both an athlete and later a performer and man of the arts. The grace and flair that he displayed on the football field and track later was easily shifted  to the passions of painting, poetry and acting.

    Casey initially gained fame while at Bowling Green University, where he starred in football and track. He was eventually drafted by the San Francisco 49ers, and spent most of his eight years in the NFL with them, though he was traded to the then LA Rams late in his career. Though he only made one Pro Bowl in 1967, Casey was a steady and reliable wide receiver, and he completed his NFL tenure with 40 touchdown receptions.

    However Casey had always deemed himself more a man of arts than an athlete. Upon retirement, he returned to his alma mater, earning a Master's of Fine Arts from Bowling Green.  He'd already developed his painting skills, and increasingly Casey also turned to writing, eventually having multiple books of poetry published.

    But it was as an actor that Bernie Casey enjoyed a second major stint of praise and recognition. He appeared in 35 films dating from 1969 till his death, beginning with a role in "Guns of the Magnificent Seven," one of a handful of sequels to "The Magnificent Seven."

    Casey proved quite versatile over the years. He was in art-house style productions like "The Man Who Fell To Earth," also appeared in "Never Say Never Again," Sean Connery's tongue-in-chief brief return to the role of James Bond, Agent 007. 

    Depending on personal preference, some fans may view his role in the satirical "I'm Gonna Get You Sucka'" was a high point. Others would argue for "Revenge of the Nerds," while the Sci-Fi freaks would lobby for his role in "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."

    Whatever the case, Bernie Casey made his mark in multiple areas, and leaves behind a solid legacy of achievement and accomplishment, both in athletics and the arts. 

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   Next >  Last >> 

Copyright (C) Everything Underground, Inc. All rights reserved.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software