• The Cartoonists vs. The Fundamentalists

    It Even Happened in America

    By Matt Wuerker, Cartoonist

    As we bury the brave, martyred cartoonists of Paris (yes, they’re the real martyrs), and as the debate rages about how best to respond to this savagery, it might be instructive to remember an earlier confrontation between fundamentalists and cartoonists in our own country.

    This one, which took place about 30 years ago, turned out to be another seminal test of free speech and the latitude given to cartoonists and satirists.

    The outcome was somewhat different from what happened in France — but no less important. (more…)

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  • Longshore Workers Have Answer For Clearing Ship Congestion

    Let Us Do Our Jobs

    By Robert (“Bobby”) Olvera Jr., President of ILWU Local 13

    The Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s busiest container Harbor facility and second-ranked Port of Long Beach, handle about 40 percent of America’s imports, with an estimated $1 billion in cargo moving through the ports every day.

    Hundreds of thousands of jobs in the region are connected to the two ports.

    Terms and conditions of employment for longshore and marine clerk labor at the ports are governed by a contract between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) which is comprised of stevedoring, shipping, and marine terminal companies. The labor contract expired in July 2014. A new contract is under negotiation. (more…)

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  • RL NEWS of the Week: Jan. 21, 2015

    Garcetti Announces POLA Changes
    SAN PEDRO —On Jan. 21, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that his deputy mayor for City Services, Doane Liu, will become deputy executive director and chief of staff at the Port of Los Angeles.
    Liu will assume his new position on Feb. 1. He will continue to help oversee the Mayor’s Office of City Services until the transition to a new deputy mayor is complete. A search for his successor, coordinated by Garcetti’s Chief of Staff Ana Guerrero, is already underway. The Mayor’s Office of City Services advises the mayor on policy related to and oversees the:

    • Department of Water and Power
    • Department of Public Works:
      •  Bureau of Contract Administration
      •  Bureau of Engineering
      •  Bureau of Sanitation
      •  Bureau of Street Lighting
      •  Bureau of Street Services
    • Department of Transportation
    • Department of Recreation and Parks
    • Los Angeles Public Library
    • Los Angeles Zoo
    • Department of Animal Services
    • Department of Cultural Affairs
    • El Pueblo de Los Angeles
    • Department of Aging
    • Department of Disability

    Liu was appointed to be one of four deputy mayors by Garcetti in July 2013. His office is focused on the mayor’s goals of restoring the city services that make our neighborhoods livable and attractive while providing excellent customer service to our residents and businesses.
    Liu was previously chief of staff for Councilman Joe Buscaino and served as chief of staff for Councilwoman Janice Hahn, deputy mayor for Mayor James K. Hahn and district director for Rep. Jane Harman. He was also senior vice president of government banking at JP Morgan Chase and vice president in the real estate industries group at Security Pacific National Bank.
    Liu graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and received a masters in business administration from the University of Southern California. He and his wife live in San Pedro and have four grown children.
    Mayor Garcetti appointed Seroka as the Port of Los Angeles’ new executive director after his unprecedented effort to assess all departments and require all department heads to reapply for their positions. In addition to Liu’s new chief of staff position, Seroka announced the following members of the port’s leadership team: Marla Bleavins, chief financial officer; Ron Boyd, chief of Port Police and Emergency Management; Mike DiBernardo, marketing and customer relations; and Tony Gioiello, development.
    Port of Los Angeles Container Volumes Up 6 Percent
    SAN PEDRO — Container volumes at the Port of Los Angeles increased 6 percent in 2014 compared to 2013.
    Total volumes reached 8,340,065 Twenty-Foot-Equivalent Units (TEU). It was the third busiest year in the port’s history, just behind 8.4 million TEUs in 2007 and 8.5 million TEUs in 2006. Current and historical data is available here.
    In December 2014, overall volumes increased 1 percent compared to December 2013. Total cargo for December 2014 was 658,567 TEUs compared to 653,358 TEUs in December 2013.
    Container imports in December increased 4.4 percent, from 322,500 TEUs in December 2013 to 336,674 TEUs in December 2014. Exports declined 12 percent, from 172,261 TEUs in December 2013 to 152,112 TEUs in December 2014. U.S. exports have been declining in recent months due to weaker demand abroad and a stronger U.S. dollar, which makes U.S. goods more expensive.
    Combined, total loaded imports and exports fell 1.2 percent, from 494,761 TEUs in December  2013 to 488,786 TEUs in December 2014. Factoring in empties, which increased 7 percent year over year, overall December 2014 volumes (658,567 TEUs) edged up 1 percent compared to December 2013 (653,358 TEUs).
    Current and past data container counts for the Port of Los Angeles may be found at:

    POLB Sees Third-Busiest Year Ever
    LONG BEACH — Cargo container trade climbed 1.3 percent in 2014, bringing the Port of Long Beach its third-busiest year ever behind the peak years of 2006 and 2007.
    This past year’s overall volume rose to 6,820,806 TEUs or twenty-foot equivalent units. Imports increased 1.8 percent to 3,517,514 TEUs, exports declined 5.9 percent to 1,604,394 TEUs, while empties rose 8.2 percent to 1,698,898 TEUs. Empty containers are sent overseas to be loaded with cargo.
    For December 2014 alone, the port moved 567,237 TEUs through the Harbor, a 2.6 percent decrease compared to December 2013. Imports dropped 5.1 percent to 276,516 TEUs. Exports fell 11.2 percent to 131,496 TEUs. Empties rose to 159,225 TEUs, an increase of 11.5 percent.
    Port officials attributed the growth in 2014 overall to strong relationships with the shipping industry.
    For the latest monthly cargo numbers, click here.
    For more details on the cargo numbers visit www.polb.com/stats.

    Long Beach City Council
    Officeholder Expense Funds
    LONG BEACH — On Jan. 20, The Long Beach City Council voted 5-3, with District 3 Councilwoman Suzie Price, District 5 Councilwoman Stacy Mungo and District 7 Councilman Al Austin opposed, to make amendments to this ordinance that governs officeholder expense funds.
    The will set the officeholder expense account limits for city council members at $30,000 per year and $75,000 for citywide officeholders (mayor, city attorney, city prosecutor and city auditor).
    These are not city funds but money that elected officials can raise from private contributions that may be used to offset the costs of being in office, such as: providing refreshments and supplies for community meetings, advertising or contributing to community organizations.
    Civic Center
    The Long Beach council voted 7-0, with Councilwoman Suzie Price absent, to authorize the city manager to execute a contract with HOK Inc. for professional design review and entitlement consulting services related to the Civic Center master plan development.
    HOK Inc. is a subconsultant to ARUP North America Limited, the firm that the city hired to help with civic center bid proposals.
    The contract would not exceed $216,676 for one year and the city manager would have the option to renew it for an additional one year period.
    Ed “Pops” Davenport Park
    The city council voted 8-0, to approve an application to the Department of the Resources Recycling and Recovery for a grant that would help pay for the installment of a landfill cover system and landfill gas collection on the 55th Way Landfill, a former waste landfill that operated between 1945 and 1948.
    The land was purchased by the former Redevelopment Agency as replacement parkland on which the North Police Substation was built. It is scheduled to become Phase II of Davenport Park but must first undergo abatement due to its former landfill function.
    If the grant is received, it will offset the cost of landfill abatement, allowing more of the $1 million budgeted for Phase II of the park to be used for its design and construction.

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  • Charmaine Clamor Lives Through Her Voice

    By Melina Paris Music Columnist

    On Jan. 16 and 17, the Torrance Cultural Arts Foundation presented a show with gifted vocalist Charmaine Clamor. She performed in the intimate dinner setting of the George Nakano Theater.

    Clamor appeared at this theater six years ago, so her performance was awaited with great anticipation. The speakeasy setting offered the perfect ambiance in which to enjoy Clamors rich vocal style. She has been compared to exceptional vocalists such as Nina Simone, Julie London and Cassandra Wilson.

    Clamor, who was born in the Philippines, is the originator of Jazzipino. She describes Jazzipino as the new musical genre that results from melding traditional Filipino melodies, languages and instruments with the soul and swing of American jazz. (more…)

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  • Garcia Delivers His First State of Long Beach Speech

    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

    In his first State of the City address, Jan. 13, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia touched upon the city’s achievements, challenges and plans for the future.

    The 28th mayor of the city touted the Long Beach’s drop in violent crimes. On Jan. 7, a preliminary report was released showing that Long Beach ended 2014 with the lowest number of violent crimes in 42 years. Compared to 2013, violent crime decreased 3.2 percent, with a 17.8 percent decrease compared to the city’s 5-year average. Murders dropped more than 30 percent. Property crime dropped 4.8 percent. The total Part 1 crime reduction was 4.6 percent compared to 2013 and 6.3 percent less than the 5-year average.

    Garcia also celebrated development of an Economic and Property Development Department, the creation of a Technology and Innovation Department and commission, and commercial growth.

    “Work has begun on an expansion at the Pike that will mean $68 million of new private investment,” Garcia said. “This project includes opening a new H&M store, the expansion of Restoration Hardware and other high profile retail outlets that we will be announcing in the coming weeks…. In 2014 alone, we made incredible progress Long Beach won awards in technology, equality and transportation.”

    But there are also challenges as the escalating tension between the Pacific Maritime Association and the ILWU.

    “I am confident the management team and the Harbor Commission are addressing the systematic challenges that contributed to congestion,” he said. “I urge both sides to work with the federal mediator to reach an agreement that protects the jobs and goods that flow through our port.”

    He said the recent drop in oil prices also challenge improvement and operating revenues. Garcia recognized that some parts of the city, specifically, central Long Beach, are still dealing with high poverty and unemployment rates, as well as crime.

    “This is unacceptable,” Garcia said. “The residents of central Long Beach need access to health care, education and good jobs.”

    Garcia said he wants to meet challenges throughout the city with innovation, educational opportunities, and sustainability, technology and civic engagement.

    He announced plans to build at least 4,000 new residential units in downtown Long Beach within the 10 years that follow. He highlighted the council’s recent approval of a new civic center with an expanded Lincoln Park, city hall, port headquarters, a hotel and residences. He believes the project will generate $2 million a year in new revenue.

    Garcia called on the council to review the progress of the Sustainable City Plan. He also promised to continue advocating for the reconfiguration of the breakwater at a national level.

    There are also plans in the horizon to have a new city website with an only city hall component, as well as open data.

    “The world is rapidly changing and the Long Beach must adapt, quickly,” he said. “I know we are up to the task because we are not afraid to dream.”

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  • RLn ANNOUNCEMENTS: Jan. 15, 2015

    Jan. 17
    Coastal SPNC Port, Environment Committee Meeting
    The Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council’s Port & Environment Committee Meeting takes place, at 9 a.m. Jan. 17, at The Corner Store in San Pedro
    Venue: The Corner Store
    Location: 1118 W. 37th St., San Pedro

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  • RL NEWS Briefs: Jan. 13, 2015

    Suspect Fires at LBPD Officers; Leads Police on Pursuit
    LONG BEACH — On Jan. 10, 22-year-old Joseph Gonzales was booked for attempted murder, evading police, child cruelty that could result in possible injury or death, assault with a firearm on a police officer, felon in possession of a firearm and parole violation.
    The incident that led to his arrest started at about 2 a.m. that day, when Long Beach Police Department officers responded to a residence on the 6500 block of East Rosebay Street to investigate a shooting involving a domestic dispute. The incident resulted in two officer involved shootings and injury to one officer. (more…)

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  • The Importance of Being Charlie

    By William C. Below Jr.

    At 10:30 on Wednesday morning, January 7, I was slogging through my routine at the gym on a small side street off the Place de la Bastille in Paris’ eleventh arrondissement. About a block from there, across a broad and curving tree-lined strip that covers a navigable canal leading out of Paris to the north—the Boulevard Richard Lenoir— is a patchwork enclave of industrial spaces and bland apartment buildings from the 19th century mixing with even blander social housing from the 1970’s and 80’s. On a short street within that enclave—rue Nicolas Appert—are the offices of Charlie Hebdo.

    Charlie Hebdo (which translates to “Charlie Weekly”) occupies a unique place in French consciousness. It’s a mix between National Lampoon, Mad Magazine, The Onion and Fritz the Cat. Add to that a healthy portion of Voltaire’s anti-clericalism and what might be called “radical cheekiness” and one begins to get some sense of the magazine. Its main contributors that were gunned down Wednesday, the cartoonists Cabu, Wolinksi, Honoré and Tinous, all took up their pens during the events of May 1968, the apogee of student and civil unrest that rocked France. They choose satire as their weapon of choice at a time when French society was in the midst of massive upheavals. The status quo and the errors associated with it, notably the atrocities committed by the French forces during the Algerian War, inspired numerous forms of rebellion, but theirs was with the pen; it was about societal change through derision and satire—and constantly testing the limits of tolerance of institutions that espoused liberty but just as often sought to squelch it. In another time and context, they might have been heroes to the very individuals who gunned them down. But while its humor can be scathing, Charlie Hebdo is not mean-spirited. It does not spread hate. It is a slayer of sacred cows. Its tone is cynico-humanism. But the role of national gadfly is not without risk. It has been criticized by the Christian right and by Muslim and Jewish associations. The previous offices were firebombed in 2011. Stéphane Charbonnier, the magazine’s unrelenting editorial director, among the victims Wednesday, was on Al Qaeda’s hit list and had constant police protection. The officer protecting him, a muslim, was summarily executed in the rue Nicolas Appert Wednesday.

    On Wednesday morning, as I was leaving the gym, two brothers were making their way to the offices of Charlie Hebdo a block away. Within an hour the self-described jihadists had forced their way into the offices and, calling out Charbonnier by name, executed him. Within minutes, twelve people were dead, most of them shot in the head. I learned about the massacre from the LA Times. I was crossing the Seine by bus, picking up my daughter on the Left Bank when I received the push notification. The shock was compounded by the news of who the victims were. These were cartoonists that were well known by the French public. Each contributed to the press through outlets other than Charlie Hebdo. Each had a reputation beyond the magazine. It’s as though the most recognizable names in US political cartooning were summarily executed. Cartoonists? Really? The effect was ghastly and hugely disturbing, a reaction that would be shared by the country and the world.

    Everyone in our circle took to Facebook. Ahmed, who works in the building next to the Charlie Hebdo offices was on the phone with a client when he thought he heard firecrackers—the mind doesn’t immediately turn to thoughts of Kalashnikovs, or doesn’t want to. Later, as he evacuated the building he saw the bodies, an image he can’t get out of his mind. Later, we went to meet with him. The area was cordoned off. Flowers had begun to accumulate at the foot of the barricades. The global press corps had gathered with its equipment and transformed an otherwise quiet street that I go down twice a week. A familiar and unremarkable neighborhood corner had been transformed into a scene of death and horror the world was now gazing on. We hugged and Ahmed bravely went back to work.

    News the next morning that a policewoman had been shot just south of Paris introduced a small voice of dread that gradually grew louder over the day. Paris had had a string of terrorist attacks in the summer and fall of 1995 and all of us wondered if Wednesday’s massacre was the start of another awful series. Over the next two days, as the manhunt for the two terrorists played out, sirens and emergency vehicles were constantly present throughout the city. This came to a head on Friday morning. Walking to an appointment, my wife Amy and I encountered a huge convoy of police vehicles speeding eastward on the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, sirens blaring. As police surrounded the brothers in Dammartin outside of Paris, a hostage situation had broken out less than two miles from us on the eastern edge of the city. That afternoon, the world watched in real time as four more victims died, this time singled out for being Jewish.

    Three nights of spontaneous gatherings followed the carnage, at the Place de la République, a ten-minute walk from the offices of Charlie Hebdo, and throughout France and the world. President Hollande announced a Unity Marche set for Sunday to pass directly under our windows. Before the end of Friday, some 60 world leaders had chosen to attend in solidarity.

    Saturday night was a sleepless one, punctured by the sounds of barricades going up and sirens. And then there was the doubt: How could 60 heads of state, let alone the rest of us, march safely through the streets of a city on high alert? By 9 am Sunday, the street beneath our flat was blocked by dozens of riot vehicles. The synagogue down the street was cordoned off with military personnel standing guard with automatic rifles. This is the new status quo for synagogues and Jewish establishments throughout the city. By 4 pm, a huge crowd had gathered in the square downstairs, the mid-point in the symbolic route from Place de la République to Place de la Nation. Soon, the leaders of 60 countries would appear before our building, accompanied by the families of the victims of the massacres. We joined the crowds marching towards Place de la Nation, a crowd subdued, dignified and resolute. It was the largest gathering since the liberation of Paris. The takeaway: when you mess with cartoonists, you mess with the very foundations of a free society.

    The protest brought some comfort and sense to an otherwise tragic and extremely disturbing week, where the ugliest violence hailed down on a neighborhood then set a city, a country and the world into movement. As the throngs poured into the place de la Nation just blocks from the supermarket where 4 Jewish individuals were gunned down 48 hours previously, there were no speeches, no one to bring the week to a proper end… if such a thing were possible. It wasn’t a destination, it was a process; a demonstration, not a conclusion. In the end, the million and more people disbanded and went home, each to deal with horrors of the week privately.

    Paradoxically, one advantage of a reasonably functional democracy is the luxury of apathy. We expect the great ship of state to continue its course as we go about our busy lives. But, as France and the world learned, it is a fragile luxury, even a dangerous one. Charlie Hebdo was a weekly test case of one of the founding principles of the French Republic, and indeed of all modern democracies. With the massacre of its staff and the murder of three policemen and four individuals because they were Jewish, the luxury of apathy has been suspended. For how long, only time will tell.

    [portfolio_slideshow id=8636]

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  • Why “I Am Charlie,” Whether or Not I’m on the Same Page as ‘Charlie Hebdo’

    I had never so much as heard of Charlie Hebdo when I awoke to news of the murders in Paris last week. And I still knew next to nothing about the publication when I, along with millions of others, proclaimed my solidarity with the publication and its writers, along with the principle of free expression, by taking to social media with the hashtags #iamcharlie and #jesuischarlie, the latter reportedly becoming one of the most Tweeted hashtag in history.

    What I did not have a grasp of until later was how divisive Charlie Hebdo has been over the years, with many charges of racism—particularly Islamophobia—being left at their doorstep.

    I now have a sense of why, but I refuse to debate that matter on its merits, because in the context of the killings it is completely irrelevant. I am Charlie because when free expression is persecuted, I stand up for the expression, regardless of its content.

    Say what you will about Charlie Hebdo: no-one can accuse them of being cowards. In 2006, for example, the magazine was one of the only publications in the world willing to reprint the drawings of Mohammad that had incited so much controversy when originally published by Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten a few months earlier.

    Nine years later, few major media outlets dare to display even benign images of Mohammad. The television network Comedy Central, for example, barred South Park from depicting Mohammad in both 2006 and 2010, despite having allowed a depiction of Mohammad in the 2001 South Park episode “Super Best Friends”.  Associated Press, the world’s largest news organization, censors all images of Mohammad, along with any “deliberately provocative images” (as an AP spokeperson told the Daily Beast), regardless of their newsworthiness.

    Jyllands-Posten is one of those publications who have toed that line, and they admit to the real reason: fear. As the editorial staff explains* in a recent piece entitled “Violence Works,”

    Some editors have tried to rationalize their decision [not to republish such cartoons] arguing that all are well aware [what] the drawings look like, and therefore there is no reason to bring them again and again. Well, we also know what [Danish Prime Minister] Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Barack Obama or the falling twin towers in New York look like, but it does not stop us from publishing pictures of them when they are the focus of the news flow. [… T]he reason why no one has reprinted the famous drawings, of course, fear. Everything else is excuses. Fear, however, is a legitimate feeling, not least for the employees of this newspaper. We have lived with the fear of a terrorist attack for nine years, and yes, it explains that we do not reprint cartoons, whether it be our own or Charlie Hebdo‘s. […] We are also aware that we therefore bow to violence and intimidation […].

    If for no other reason than its mass and scope, the World Wide Web is far more robust in these fights than the print world ever was, and so the controversial Charlie Hebdo images are not hard to find. The Huffington Post, for example, republished a few of the newspaper covers that constituted part of the offense for which the murderers felt Mohammad must be avenged.

    I shared the Huffington Post article on Facebook, a move that was greeted by my anthropologist friend, whom I hold in the highest regard, making clear her displeasure. “I actually think it is a shame that they republished these. (And I was disappointed to see your own version earlier),” she said, referring to a bearded stick-figure drawing— labeled “The Prophet Mohammad,” who I have saying, “Je suis Charlie!”—included with my #iamcharlie Tweet. “Of course I believe in free speech, and that Charlie Hebdo had the right to publish this in the first place, and certainly the violence this week in Paris has been horrific, but I don’t think we should be celebrating this racist, Islamophobic and frankly offensive (potentially hate) speech.”

    The point she misses is that these acts are not celebrations of Charlie Hebdo, any more than finding Charlie Hebdo offensive is to approve of the murders. Sharing the content the murderers claimed as their justification is a means to highlight just how completely without justification the murders are. Many in the world who have heard of the Paris attacks will not have seen the images in question. To share them is to reify the idea that 12 people were murdered over frigging cartoons and nothing more.

    On the other hand, to discourage or prohibit the sharing of the images—especially while talking about how terrible they are—leaves the conceptualization of the crime in a morally more nebulous state of the murders being perpetrated because the victims themselves did something so repugnant that we ought not to look at it, even when reading news articles about the killings, of which the drawings are undeniably a seminal part.

    Had I been old enough to be cognizant of the pertinent issues in play when in 1977 the National Socialist Party of America maneuvered to march in Skokie, Illinois—a predominantly Jewish community where one of every six residents was a Holocaust survivor—I would have vehemently supported their right to march there or anywhere. The march never materialized, but let us imagine that it did, and that offended Jews gunned down a dozen Nazi marchers as they passed through Skokie’s main square. In such a case I would have felt compelled to stand in solidarity with the Nazis against the barbaric act of murdering those who offend us with their words, ideas, or mere presence.

    This would not have meant I was standing in solidarity with Nazism. Even were I not Jewish on my mother’s side, even if one-quarter of my bloodlines did not run through Poland, even if I did not have relatives who perished in the Nazi death camps, I would hate the Nazis and all they stand for.

    But when it comes to Nazism, I do have skin in the game, and yet I would unequivocally stand with the Nazis against any and all who would physically attack them over the expression of their horrendous ideas. This would not be my standing up for the Nazis’ freedom of expression so much as my own, because when it comes to freedom, there is—or should be—no dividing line based on taste or content, save perhaps for the “clear and present danger” limits on free speech, such as incitement to riot (see Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969) or the classic example of falsely shouting “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater (see Schenck v. United States (1919)).

    It is never mainstream expression or opinion that needs protection: it is the minority opinion, the unpopular belief, the expression generally deemed odious. Our First Amendment is only as good as its breadth, and our lip service in favor of freedom of expression is worth only what we’re actually willing to do to support it.

    Surely there is a time to debate the merits Charlie Hebdo‘s content—or even to protest and boycott the publication should one feel the world would be better off without it. But that time is not in the immediate wake of its staff members being murdered over that content. No matter how wrong the ideas expressed in Charlie Hebdo may be, that wrong is so far exceeded by the wrong of murdering people for expressing themselves that the only appropriate response is to stand against the attackers and all they represent.

    This isn’t about a magazine or its cartoons. No matter what Charlie Hebdo has published, #iamcharlie #jesuischarlie.


    *Note: For the purposes of this article, the original Danish text of the Jyllands-Posten editorial was rendered into English by Google Translate.



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  • Police and Racial Profiling: The Great American Tragedy

    By John R. Gray, Guest Columnist

    Several folks approached me about the seeming proliferation of young Afro-American men being killed by white police officers.

    To begin it is a horrible tragic situation for the victim’s family, and perhaps, the police officers involved.  We all should feel pain when any family loses a child unnecessarily to some holocaust-like misunderstanding of judgment, intent or motive, leading to an urban combat death.

    But, for young Afro-American males, there is concern about what we all know of as the imperfect world. Part of the imperfect world is the caveat of racial profiling, which has emerged as another one of America’s unsolvable problems.  Doctor, doctor, “Who do we call?” How about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention? Save your energy don’t call Attorney General Eric Holder. He is the most hated person in the American criminal justice. (more…)

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