Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Reverend Pinkney-How I became a political prisoner

Rev. Pinkney and his wife Dorothy. Rev. Pinkney was held as a political prisoner for 21⁄2 years because he led the community’s
challenge to a corporate backed mayor in Benton Harbor.


TBR-BENTON HARBOR, MI —  I am Reverend Edward Pinkney, a national and community activist, who tragically, became a political prisoner in the state of Michigan on December 15, 2014.  I was sent to prison with absolutely no evidence a crime was ever committed. The Berrien County trial court and Judge Sterling Schrock, along with prosecutor Mike Sepic, stole 30 months of my life.
On July 26, 2016 the Michigan Court of Appeals rejected my appeal. The three-judge panel, Kelly, O’Brien, and Hood, better known as the three blind mice, stated Rev. Edward Pinkney must have told somebody to change the dates on the recall petitions. This was ridiculous. There was absolutely no evidence to support their theory. I was convicted by an all white jury that was motivated by something other than the truth, but it is bigger than that. The powers that be will crush anybody who stands up today. It’s me today, and you tomorrow.
I have already completed the 30 months that was forced on me as the result of a Jim Crow trial that accused me of altering dates on a recall petition against the puppet Mayor James Hightower, who lost the last election by a landslide.
The prosecutor and judge formed a partnership and instructed the all white jury to convict me without any evidence. I am an innocent man tried, convicted and sentenced to die in an effort to isolate and silence me against the power of the land grabbing, job out sourcing, criminal Whirlpool Corporation, with its headquarters in Benton Harbor. This is a company who refuses to pay taxes or hire Benton Harbor Black residents. My unusually harsh sentence was imposed by Judge Schrock.
I appealed the judgment of the Michigan Court of Appeals with the Supreme Court on Sept 3, 2016. On May 17, 2017, the Court asked two questions about the case, (but refused to ask about the insufficiency of evidence.) The questions are about whether the Berrien County trial court violated the Michigan Rules of evidence, the first amendment and due process for allowing “evidence” against me to be admitted under 404b based on the prosecutor’s allegation that I was politically and socially motivated (indicated by my political and social activity, which was 100% legal). The allegation was that it was likely I committed the illegal act of forgery because it promoted my political goal of having the election recall go forward. This was nonsense.
Question number two was whether I was ever charged with a crime. The only statute that was the basis of the felony counts (168.937) set forth a penalty provision for forgery that is prohibited by other sections of the election code and does not set forth a substantive crime that can be the basis of a prosecution.
The scale of Lady Justice is imbalanced, especially against people of color. We must continue to fight against this grave imbalance to ensure a humane, just future for people of color, the homeless, the poverty stricken, for the whole weary and for the beaten populace of America. All across our country, we must continue to speak truth to power. We must demand that justice be served for all people.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

In Times Like These

TBR-Editor-in-Chief Leighton Bradford
Humanity seems to be at the cross roads of understanding. The idle minds of some, purports the concerns of the many. Our judicial system should always ask, “What is just”? The law embraces wealth and familiarity, whilst bodies fall by the wayside.  Are we experiencing a social upheaval? Do presidential elections require the assimilation of the masses? Is the Electoral College a form of hegemonic destabilization? The Electoral College purports a kingdom! Bob Marley said, “Brain wash education” “Here comes the con man, coming with his con plan”. The prophet Bob Marley foretold the countering of continued European supremacy! The African Diaspora has always been under assault! This group has not countered the Eurocentric view of racial intelligence. Europeans lay no claim to the accomplishments of Nubia or Kemet. Aliens from outer space did not assist with the monuments there of. Individuals of African descent created the mathematics and science associated with the Kemet (Egyptian-[Non-Arabic]) structures. Please remember Australopithecus aferensis. 

 Blacks need to gravitate towards archaeology and anthropology. It’s about academic civil rights. The overall theme of this piece revolves around Black intellectual property. The Pan-African ideal is muted by the female headed household of Black women. You can’t wear the Black man’s pants!  The NOI, NAACP, CBC, Black Law Enforcement officials need an exorcism of faith! To Black cops, WTF?  Step up to these racist cops? Select Europeans continue to emasculate our race by instilling fear with the most recent police shootings.  Black single mothers have had too much of a burden in raising our children. The existing power centers of our culture need to form an alliance.  Relieve the pressure associated with our single headed house Nubian queens. They unknowingly help a white supremacist cause.  White supremacist, including law enforcement, judges, and uncle tom prosecutors, manipulate our race within the justice system.   

 While a few Europeans stifle the accomplishments of individuals of African descent. We need to understand the laws of physics!  The average European intellectual does not respect our capabilities. Albert Einstein’s laws of relativity were originally copyrighted by the progenitors of Kemet (Egypt). The Neanderthal has not fully integrated individuals of African descent.  Incarceration is the heir apparent symbol of the new plantation. The iceman cometh! This can be seen with the Anglo-Saxon fascination with barbaric cinematic conquest. The supposedly powerful WHITE persona! Images seen within the entertainment industry perpetuate a myth. The Isle of Man digs that.  Ultimately the struggle continues for individuals of African descent. I discovered a more universal leader while living in Austin, TX.

            Dorothy Turner, a leader of the Black Citizen Task Force, Austin, TX was the Harriet Tubman of our times.  A strong black woman; moreover, who demanded justice for her people. She stood up to the white supremacist of Texas!  I will never reveal her strategy, but I was willing to die for her cause! The traditional enclaves of African movement organizations are bankrupt of ideas and response! Individuals of African descent need to table new ideas. Baby boom generations are you tired? Allow the next generation an opportunity to bring about change. The sagging pants of our youth are why the universe scoffs at our existence.  If ever a time required justice, it must be now.   The LBGT cause undermines what Black people continue to strive for. At the expense of our offspring. With that being said God bless.  What is just? It certainly is not the accelerated salaries of the current barristers.  We need to address rogue judges! LAWYERS! So call jurisprudence evades the poor and common man. Currency determines what is supposedly just! Does the southern European still think he rules the earth? They seem to not have gotten over their defeat within the civil war. Racism is a sub-routine of the recent Black shootings. Black police officers either you with us or you’re not? We need to shop, buy, and support Black business! I ask my beautiful Black sista’s go natural you’re sexy without all of the European weave!  I suggest an edict from Black Consciousness, buy from Black owned business!


Monday, April 17, 2017

5 Misconceptions About Economic Bubbles And People Who Warn About Them

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Stop the Raids!


RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act of 1970) laws were initially designed to prosecute powerful organized crime syndicates like the Mafia. Over the past few years, RICO has been used to excessively charge young people of color from low-income neighborhoods as if they were gangsters.

Click here to sign this petition to Congress:


We are asking you to act now to #ReformRICO and stop prosecutors from using these federal laws, originally designed to take down the Mob, to score easy convictions against poor communities of color. Innocent teens and young adults are often forced to take plea deals when faced with first-degree conspiracy counts on which they can face a maximum of 25-years-to-life in prison.

The overwhelming majority of those charged never see trial. RICO laws are disastrous and have ruined lives, torn apart families and contributed to the enormous racial inequities we have come to expect with mass incarceration.

Click here to add your name.

Trump's inaugural pledge for "law and order" is coded messaging to law enforcement agencies, both local and federal, that will empower them to continue their abusive, racialized policing. This will mean more arrests and more incarceration at a time when America should be moving away from needless punishment of Blacks and Latinos.

Collaboration between local police departments and federal law enforcement in large, military-style "gang" raids have been cheered on by sensationalized media reports. The reports describe these young men as all being dangerous and part of organized criminal enterprises -- which they were not.

Over the past few years we have seen the emergence of a bipartisan consensus for criminal and civil justice reforms. Movements are growing across our nation urging legislators to change unfair laws that hurt families and communities of color. A wasted $80 billion a year spent on prisons actually dehumanizes inmates, many of whom are detained in inhumane conditions, some tortured in solitary confinement and denied visits or communication with their families.

Sign this petition, spearheaded by family members of those charged with RICO.

After signing the petition, please use the tools on the next webpage to share it with your friends.

This work is only possible with your financial support. Please chip in $3 now.

-- The Team

P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Frances Fox Piven, Lila Garrett, Phil Donahue, Sonali Kolhatkar, and many others.

 Blowing The Whistle On Drones

As one of the very few drone whistleblowers in the world, Cian Westmoreland needs and deserves our support.

Cian is the first recipient of the Drone Whistleblower Fellowship. In the past he was a U.S. Air Force technician who worked on the drone program. Now he takes to heart a statement by Martin Luther King Jr. that remains crucial in 2017: “Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.”

Please support the work of Cian Westmoreland by making a tax-deductible contribution to the Drone Fellowship Program of the RootsAction Education Fund.

Speaking clearly about compelling moral issues, Cian offers a blunt perspective on the U.S. drone war: “In this war on terror, we have become terror. Drones are heartless by design, and the act of killing through them can become routine and bureaucratic.”

Cian reports: “I have been connecting, speaking, writing and helping where I can all over Europe.” He has put in a lot of time in Germany, which hosts U.S. military bases directly involved in the drone war.

When Cian speaks out, he is educating activists, journalists, elected officials and the general public. In early winter, for instance, he spoke to 3,000 “hackers and hacktivists” from around the world at the huge Chaos Communications Congress in Hamburg. There he addressed “the Global Assassination Grid.”

At the Hamburg conference, “I spoke of the various layers of dehumanizing elements in the drone program to include the structural, political, and psychological. It was not only understood but well received. A professor of mathematics at Cambridge University approached me afterward and said that he’s noticed the problem of students not connecting their work to real life, and that my talk inspired him to go back and show my speech to them.”

It’s far from easy, living out of a suitcase, far from home, doing this kind of work. The pressures are severe, and the resources are thin. Please help Cian Westmoreland keep going with a tax-deductible donation to the Drone Fellowship program.

It’s vital for Cian to be doing what he’s doing at this time. As he explains: “Germany is now getting prepared for Trump’s world, and Germans are now at a point where they are discussing the need to take a normative stance against Trump’s stance on Muslims and the brutal war strategy of annihilation that the Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis, is promising.”

Cian adds: “It appears that Germany is now deciding how they will work with the United States. Will they be compliant or will they resist?

Meanwhile, Cian is also engaged in public outreach elsewhere in Europe, most crucially in the U.K. and Italy where two other critical pieces of the global drone infrastructure are based.

We hope that you’ll keep supporting Cian Westmoreland’s important work as a drone whistleblower. You can show support now by making a donation to the Drone Whistleblower Fellowship.

For Cian, stepping forward as a whistleblower has been very difficult -- and morally imperative.

Now, your tax-deductible contribution -- in solidarity with Cian Westmoreland’s whistleblowing work -- is needed to support the first Drone Whistleblower Fellowship.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Simon Reeve, operated a ‘drone’ in breach of CAA New Zealand rules sentenced.

Drone sentencing a ‘beacon of awareness’
for new aviation rules – CAA
At Kaiapoi, on 5 January 2015, Simon Reeve operated a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) in a

control zone in close proximity to a helicopter conducting firefighting duties over the Pines Beach


The helicopter pilot was not aware that the RPAS was operating in his proximity. Further RPAS

flights were carried out over a beach fire at the same location on 20 January. The Civil Aviation

Authority (CAA) decided to prosecute the drone pilot.

CAA General Manager - General Aviation, Steve Moore said CAA’s decision to prosecute three

charges was based on the following factors:

· Seriousness of the offending;

· Serious risk of harm;

· Breach of Section 44 of the Civil Aviation Act 1990 [Dangerous activity involving aircraft] Civil

Aviation Rule 101.13 X 2 [Hazardous Operations]

On 6 May 2015 the District Court Judge, G S MacAskill, found Mr Reeve guilty on all 3 charges. Today

Judge MacAskill sentenced Mr Reeve to make a $500 payment to charity and discharged him

without conviction on the charge of unnecessary endangerment. He was sentenced to pay a $250

fine for each of the other charges of flying a model aircraft in controlled airspace without Air Traffic

Control clearance.

“The CAA respects the decision of the court and considers that any penalty in this case, irrespective

of the conditions of the sentence, provides a very clear signal to RPA (drone) operators that they

need to follow rules that are in place to ensure the safety of all.

“These are not toys, they are a new form of aircraft and need to be treated with respect and flown

responsibly,” Mr Moore said.

Mr Moore continued “This case has become a beacon of awareness of the new RPAS (drone) rules

that came into effect last August.”

“This outcome should come as a timely reminder to all RPAS users – fly within the rules. And think of

others when your unit is in the sky.” He said.
look up RPAS (
Intending or new drone operators are advised to check the
or CAA website and Contact: Mike Richards, Manager Corporate Communications (Media phone 0800 222 697)








Wednesday, May 18, 2016

U.S. Senate approved the Whistleblower Appreciation Day Resolution.

This month the U.S. Senate approved the Whistleblower Appreciation Day Resolution. But if the government had put you in prison for telling the truth about torture, you probably wouldn’t feel appreciated.

As CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou says, that Senate resolution is “no joke.” When whistleblowers reveal grim secrets that the public needs to know for the sake of democracy, the government’s goal is not only to punish -- “it's to ruin, professionally, personally, and financially.”

John served two years in prison for shedding light on the CIA’s torture program -- a steep price for telling the truth about some awful consequences of undemocratic power. NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake has also paid a steep price. They need your help!

With vindictive prosecutions, the government wrecked their personal finances.
Please click here to make a tax-deductible donation now. Half of every dollar will go directly to John and Tom, while the other half will go to the Whistleblowers Public Education Campaign that they co-chair.

Below are some comments from John and Tom.

John Kiriakou:

“The United States Senate in July passed the Whistleblower Appreciation Day Resolution. No joke. Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus chairman Senator Chuck Grassley said that the resolution would designate July 30, 2016 as a day to recognize ‘the role whistleblowers play in shining a light on fraud, waste, and abuse... Workers who come forward to report fraud or misconduct in their agencies are frequently punished by their superiors for simply telling the truth. These brave citizens should not be penalized, they should be praised.’

Somebody should tell the Justice Department. The War on Whistleblowers has been a hallmark of the Obama Administration’s judicial policy. Legitimate whistleblowers are charged under the Espionage Act, a draconian law meant to punish traitors and spies, not truth tellers. Leakers with political connections or who are friends of the President get a pass. The goal is not just to punish. It’s to ruin, professionally, personally, and financially.

“Still we went into this with our eyes open. It might sound crazy, but we would blow the whistle again. We don't need the Senate's ‘appreciation.’ What we need is for the Justice Department to respect the laws already on the books, to support whistleblowers exposing waste, fraud, abuse, and illegality.

“Over to you, Tom.”

Tom Drake:

“Congress has yet to invite John or myself in front of Congress to testify before any committee regarding our whistleblowing on torture and mass surveillance, respectively. We both came forward at great risk and to this day are the only two people who have paid a very high price for exposing government wrongdoing and criminal conduct regarding these two state-sponsored programs.

“Prosecuting whistleblowers under the Espionage Act sends a most chilling message to anybody who dares to expose critical information on government conduct vital to the public interest done in the name (and under the cover) of National Security.

“Our whistleblowing turned our lives upside down. It will take years for us to recover from the ordeal of the government criminally prosecuting both of us as vindictive and malicious punishment for exposing their criminal conduct involving torture and mass surveillance.

“We would not break faith with the Constitution. We upheld our oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic (including our own government), faithfully serving our country in the line of duty at the CIA and the NSA -- even when our agencies didn’t and wouldn’t.

“We are eyewitnesses to the dark side of history. It is the truth tellers and the whistleblowers who are key to sounding the alarm and holding our own government to account. Please support our education campaign to get the word out that informs the public and holds up a mirror to those in power who abuse power.

“Thank you for your continuing support.

Jesselyn Radack, The New York Times: "Whistleblowers Deserve Protection Not Prison"
The Huffington Post: "The One Man Jailed for CIA Torture Tried to Expose It"
Jane Mayer, The New Yorker: Thomas Drake -- "The Secret Sharer"

Grass Roots Organization RootsAction-Questions U.S. Foreign Policy
Since the end of the Cold War, the United States of America has systematically violated the prohibition against the threat or use of force contained in the UN Charter and the Kellogg Briand Pact. It has carved out a regime of impunity for its crimes based on its UN Security Council veto, non-recognition of international courts and sophisticated "information warfare" that undermines the rule of law with political justifications for otherwise illegal threats and uses of force.

                                    Former Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin B. Ferencz has compared current U.S. policy to the illegal German "preemptive first strike" policy for which senior German officials were convicted of aggression at Nuremberg and sentenced to death by hanging.

                                    In 2002, the late U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy described post-September 11th U.S. doctrine as "a call for 21st century American imperialism that no other nation can or should accept." And yet the U.S. government has succeeded in assembling alliances and ad hoc "coalitions" to support threats and attacks on a series of targeted countries, while other countries have stood by silently or vacillated in their efforts to uphold international law. In effect, the U.S. has pursued a successful diplomatic policy of "divide and conquer" to neutralize global opposition to wars that have killed about 2 million people and plunged country after country into intractable chaos.

As representatives of civil society in the United States, the undersigned U.S. citizens and advocacy groups are sending this emergency appeal to our neighbors in our increasingly interconnected but threatened world. We ask you to stop providing military, diplomatic or political support for U.S. threats or uses of force; and to support new initiatives for multilateral cooperation and leadership, not dominated by the United States, to respond to aggression and settle international disputes peacefully as required by the UN Charter.

We pledge to support and cooperate with international efforts to stand up to and stop our country's systematic aggression and other war crimes. We believe that a world united to uphold the UN Charter, the rule of international law and our common humanity can and must enforce U.S. compliance with the rule of law to bring lasting peace to the world we all share.

This petition will be sent to all the world's national governments.

Click here to sign as an individual.

Click here to sign as an organization that you are authorized to sign on behalf of.

After signing the petition, please use the tools on the next webpage to share it with your friends.

This work is only possible with your financial support. Please chip in $3 now.

-- The Team

P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Coleen Rowley, Frances Fox Piven, Lila Garrett, Phil Donahue, Sonali Kolhatkar, and many others.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Reverend Pinkney: The Civil Rights Leader You May Not Know

TBR- Special to TBR, Reverend Edward Pinkney
In the struggle to preserve civilization and the rule of law, Reverend Edward Pinkney stands in virtual isolation against a very real fascist threat in the tiny lakeside town of Benton Harbor, Michigan. His ability to stand up against the fascist machine, his organizing abilities, and his endless goodwill and positivity put him in a category with civil rights heroes such as Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks.
Pinkney will without a doubt go down in history as either a great civil rights hero who fought-off a racist and fascistic tide in America, or he will go down as the civil rights activist who warned the world that

 "fascism is coming to your town next" but whom no one listened.
Please help us keep Pinkney out of prison to continue his fight against the Whirlpool corporate takeover in Michigan. Visit to help Rev. Pinkney avoid life in prison. He can't fight fascism from a jail cell!

Contacts: 269-925-001
David Sole
Joe Peery
Submitted by Polly Hughes: 217-638-5314

"ACLU of Michigan Supports Release of Faith Leader, Activist, in Election Fraud Case
Constitutional rights violations alleged in case of Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor"
GRAND RAPIDS—The trial of Rev. Edward Pinkney, 66, of Benton Harbor violated his constitutional rights according to a motion filed with the Michigan Court of Appeals. Supporters of Pinkney—including ACLU of Michigan who filed an amicus curiae brief backing the motion—are calling for his immediate release on bond pending appeal.
A veteran community activist from Benton Harbor, Pinkney was convicted last November on five felony counts of forgery based on allegations that he changed five dates on a petition intended to recall Mayor James Hightower. Currently in Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater, he maintains his innocence and faces 30 to 120 months in prison. According to the ACLU brief, his appeal is “almost certain” to lead to the reversal of the conviction. Pinkney has already spent over seven months in prison since his sentencing last December. Visitors from around the state attempt to monitor his health and safety.
“There are so many violations of Rev. Pinkney’s rights it’s hard to believe. Three witnesses stated emphatically that Rev. Pinkney was not present when another person altered the petition,” said Michigan civil rights attorney Hugh Buck Davis. “The prosecutor in the case was allowed to use Rev. Pinkney’s community activism as evidence. This is a serious violation of the Reverend’s First Amendment rights and due process. When the defense attorney raised objections, the judge called his constitutionally-based arguments ‘emotional rhetoric.’”
Pinkney and his supporters believe his human rights activism has made him a target of political persecution by local government and business interests. According to Davis, "Given the thousands of irregularities in election petitions in Michigan every year, it's clear that this is political prosecution in retaliation for successful community and electoral organizing. They like it until it looks like you are going to win. Two-and-a-half to ten years? He's a political prisoner.”
In just one recent example, Pinkney’s arrest warrant for the non-violent charges was served by a SWAT team surrounding his home at gunpoint. Such tactics, Pinkney says, are designed to intimidate all Benton Harbor residents who speak up against Whirlpool Corporation and local officials. Supporters charge that the unjustified prosecution amounts to election fraud.
Pinkney and other members of the Benton Harbor community group, BANCO (Black Autonomy Network Community Organization), have led multiple petition drives to recall local officials as one strategy of their campaign to promote democracy, civil rights, and economic justice in the county. Whirlpool Corp. is headquartered in Benton Harbor, which is 96% African-American and has among the highest unemployment and poverty rates in the state. Mayor Hightower’s opposition to a city income tax that would have affected Whirlpool Corp. resulted in the community’s effort to recall him.
BANCO and Pinkney have protested the four emergency managers, appointed by the governor under Michigan’s controversial Emergency Manager Law, who have operated the city instead of democratically-elected officials. BANCO was also among the most vocal opponents of the Harbor Shores golf course and luxury development that appropriated lakeshore land formerly designated as a Benton Harbor city park.

Updates at: @FreeRevPinkney
Facebook: Detroit Organizing in Support of Reverend Pinkney

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I Did Not Serve In Iraq, To Return To A War Zone.

TBR-Garett Reppenhagen, Iraq War Veteran, Contributor

 As an Iraq War Veteran, I understand the dangers of firearms and the importance of keeping them out the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.

As a Coloradan, I also have a deep and abiding respect for our national tradition of gun ownership in this country and our rights to defend family and property.

I believe it is possible to hold both of those views simultaneously -- that there is a way to change our gun laws while respecting the constitutionally protected right to bear arms. Ensuring all Americans pass a background check to guarantee that those who carry weapons are law abiding citizens would be a good first step.

As the debate over gun violence prevention reignites after yet another mass shooting, it's important that veterans (our nation's foremost experts on weapons), military family members, and VoteVets supporters make our voices heard.

Sign my petition: Tell Congress to pass commonsense gun laws that will keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.

Throughout my military experience, I trained and performed combat missions with a conservative magazine limit. Every soldier carried a full combat load and the magazines were constructed to minimize malfunction and to be effective in tactical situations.

Currently some states allow the same size magazines I was issued as a Cavalry Scout and in some cases the clips they are allowed to carry have a larger capacity. Basically, these laws allow our citizens to be more combat effective in our communities than I was in Iraq.

In the military, every recruit is scrutinized for any moral deficiency and criminal history before entering basic training and being issued a weapon. But here at home, criminals are able to get their hands on this kind of firepower without even passing a background check.

It makes no sense, and Congress must act.

Sign my petition: Tell Congress to pass commonsense laws that will keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.

During the Iraq War, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld compared the violence in Iraq to Chicago, saying about both, "It's a tough part of the world."

We should strive for better. And if Congress acts on this issue, we can save lives.

Thank you for reading,

Garett Reppenhagen
Iraq War Veteran

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Some thoughts on "Straight Outta Compton".

TBR-Speech Thomas of Arrested Development

I applaud Ice Cube, Gary F Gray & Dr. Dre because they know how to tell a great story! The accurate portrayal of a hiphop producers heart.... wanting to make something special...well done. The vicious sharks that swim in music industry waters...greatly exposed. The acting, promotion and soundtrack... superb! In a country where excellence in black film on the big screen isn't seen enough, it's proudly exhibited here.
But from the perspective of the ancestors, they got some explaining to do. Centuries of struggle by our men, women and children who were thoroughly desolate with only one hope. The hope that through their perseverance, future generations would have it better than they did. Many died for that very reason.
That's the African-American legacy.
It was just two weeks ago, we all were discussing how soiled America still is from the horrors of slavery and the following systematic racism.
Blacks for hundreds of years purposely portrayed in every advertisement, news article, play, TV show and movie as dangerous, vile, uncaring, simple, roguish brutes, with intelligence a tad higher than a monkey. Year after year, decade after decade, century after century... And here we are today - as white trigger happy cops shoot blacks. It doesn't matter if they're unarmed, cuz in the minds of so many, blacks are always armed with centuries of dangerous propaganda. And a lie can run around the world twice before truth can get her shoes on!
And in comes Hollywood pushing yet ANOTHER movie with that same ole narrative... Straight Outta Compton! With the convenient subtitle - "the worlds most dangerous group"
Is that literal or it's figurative? None of them came from the most dangerous of street life but Easy E. right? I often hear that they're dangerous because of Cube's defiant lyrics & fierce determination to speak "truth" to power. Ummm, that sounds honorable.
But I'm sure I can come up with a few more suggestions more appropriate than NWA. The black panthers for instance might be better suited for such an honor. With fierce determination they defied an entire system at risk of their very lives! They REALLY fought for justice and most paid the ultimate price. An epic bio pic that shows how these brave young men and women organized change for all races and genders, showing true devotion mixed with legal prowess... that's a film suggestion! And can I get a witness that NWA's "F*** the Police" is only the prevailing anti-police brutality anthem BECAUSE the music industry championed it. It didn't take the FBI long at all to see that NWA was ultimately a harmless group because their other songs & political savvy was thoroughly misguided and non-directional. As opposed to the earlier & less popular "F*** the Pigs" that the black panthers often shouted as they persevered through police harassment as actual freedom fighters, not as drug dealers and pretend thugs. Historically there were activists that started as thugs but TRANSFORMED into purposeful revolutionaries.
I've heard some say, the title "most dangerous" is as far as MUSICAL groups are concerned.... Ummm wouldn't PUBLIC ENEMY better fit that definition? But see a movie like that would simply be too dangerous, it might cause people to do more than ooo and aaah over the financial success of a music producer & rapper who made nice movies and headphones. It might cause REAL change.
NWA may be the most dangerous, but not because they fought against a racist and oppressive system... but because they were effective ambassadors of that very system! I like to call it white supremacy on wax! Who else could have done such a great job at spreading the age old message that blacks are morally sub-human? Many things white supremacists say about blacks is what NWA confirms in their most popular songs. And yes, in 2015 Twitter is going nuts praising the film and much of the hiphop world is bowing down to NWA as heroes in the genre. But I applaud a good number of blacks that "don't believe the hype"!
Bio pics about rap artists are few and far between, but take notice to WHICH rap movies Hollywood green lights for major motion picture release? And have you ever thought about WHY these particular movies?
Biggie's Notorious, Eminem's 8 Mile, 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Trying and NWA's Straight Outta Compton! Most of which come straight outta Jimmy Iovine's & Dre's storehouse of thuggery, and celebrate the "American Dream" thru gritty accounts of drug deals, crack addicted communities, strip clubs, friends that deceive each other and gun battles gone wrong. And then the inevitable transformation from rags to riches. As they live happily ever after (in their death though). Oh yeah, Biggie was about right, that if you're're nobody til somebody kills you!
To quote Public Enemy... "Burn Hollywood Burn!" They're pretty much about money and judging by this past weekends ticket sales... THEY'RE WINNING! Stay tuned for a Tupac, Ice T and whomever else da cap fits bio pic for us all to swoon over!
Feed us our illusions, Hollywood has no skin in the game, it's just money to them. But don't we as blacks literally have skin in the game?
It's our SKIN that signals brainwashed cops to pull us over just because we didn't use a turn signal. Or blow our brains out for trying to start our car while being questioned. Or get choked to death, spines snapped, or just walking home wearing a hoodie.
There's gotta be a point where we WEIGH the pains we feel from years of being mis-represented against the joy we feel seeing another black thug soliloquy on the big screen! The pain lasts for years, the joy last 2 and a half hours. You do the math.
There's gotta be a breaking point when we make a critical decision. Directionless expression or real freedom? I know, I know... no one screams when Scorsese does a gangster film, why pick on rappers? Because Jewish people aren't making these movies WHILE simultaneously getting shot down in the streets by their own kind, arrested in astronomical rates and their rappers literally getting assassinated like they were in a Middle East war zone!
When is enough... ENOUGH!?
Consciousness didn't start with NWA, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar's "To Pimp a Butterfly", nor ‪#‎blacklivesmatter‬.
It's been in full effect since slavery and we must keep our eyes on the prize to reach the finish line!
On the big screen, these rappers are portrayed as bigger than life heroes and even somehow "freedom fighters"! But TRUE heroes like Julian Bond, Garvey, Harriet & Parks deserve a bio pic, because they served US all! But would we support it?
It NEVER was enough to have a conscious song or two on an otherwise "white supremacist" gangsta record. It's not enough to have things "go in cycles"... (people say that to me all the time about music)
It's about standing on the shoulders of those that stood before us until we get out from the ditch that hides our humanity!
Our values are so backwards that fathers, mothers, educators, intellectuals & activists don't fill today's memes and murals. Instead it's Tupac, Biggie, NWA and maybe a Jay-Z. The murals you see painted in the ghettos, (I've even seen em in the outskirts of Africa!) Memes of these rappers floating around on the Internet and interviews at the end of albums with their "prophetic" words. 3D holograms of them in front of wooing crowds. Supposed martyrs packaged and shrink wrapped in a CD. "Heroes" of the people - celebrated, applauded, jailed and assassinated, with a level of admiration that you'd think they died because of political resistance or activism, but no. It's simply a petty beef or a record executive hungry for more money.
We have so lost our way, that we celebrate their temporary success - in lieu of our own lasting success.
Behind the riches of every Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Easy E. or Suge Knight are quiet little Jewish & White guys in polo shirts that are even richer than them.
They play golf and listen to Bach while they count their money. Meanwhile we wallow in these decadent, century old stereotypical, blaxploitation flicks and albums, their kids fly in private jets and vacation in Belize. Our kids suffer just walking to school.
Yes, Straight Outta Compton is very good and yes, these men have immense talent, but Italian mafioso refused to sell crack to their own communities. They insisted on separating their families from their illegal business.
We sell this "crack music" to our little kids and we infest the whole world with it!
It is NOT just entertainment. We are getting killed in real life. We influence Africa, South America and everywhere there's poor people that need inspiration. It has never been simple entertainment and it has far out reached the block.... it's racist propaganda. And it hurts the soul of humanity!
And by the way ITS NOT HONEST, it's not what we see in the hood. It's an embellishment of it, it's "reality" on steroids, it's someones story on performance enhancers! And the things that destroy these communities has become a Satanic virus, packaged and shipped out to every other community to infect those that were previously healthy.
That's my problem with NWA - not the music (it's brilliant) NWA endorsed the worse traits of the hood, promoted these traits and to justify their lust for fame they revised their purpose claiming it's a noble freedom of speech movement.
And many have bought that revisionist history, poured it in our glasses & ummm that kool aid taste sweet! White supremacy is happy, blacks got our thug heroes and the world keeps on turning.
So, sit and eat your popcorn, sip a Coke, enjoy a well-deserved break from lifes stress.
I know I did. I also know I made Ice Cube, Dr. Dre Gary Gray and a host of white dudes a bit richer! I'm alright with that. May God bless em.
But even as I'm entertained by the film, I know that unless we change our dynamics and moral infrastructure as black people, WE really are the entertainment. The silly blacks that can't realize the difference between an Arnold Schwarzenegger fiction and a propaganda missile aimed at the very demise of our freedom, dignity and culture.
GIL scott was right....The revolution will not be televised it will be screened in a theater near you.
Two thumbs up.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Pro Se, “For one's own behalf; in person. Appearing for oneself

TBR-Leighton Bradford, Editor-in-Chief
Pro Se, “For one's own behalf; in person. As in the case of one who does not retain a lawyer and appears for himself or herself in court”.

Allowing attorneys to advertise on television undermines jurisprudence. As a result, justice goes towards the highest bidder? And if the plaintiff does not have the means; the cold weal of market forces should not dictate who receives justice. In college a professor once asked me what is just? My retort-apparently not the merits of my study within his class?  Not the current judicial process-fairness must come into play. The bottom-line or a profit margin must not influence due process. Our court system seems to reward association and alumni legal status. You rarely see a barrister accepting pro bono work? Honestly! Do you think an attorney is going to give weight to someone who is financially challenged?  Its obvious that the integrity of this profession is diminishing. The routine of the lesser courts judicial system trumps substantive or procedural due process. “So and so, for the people”!
Substantive Due Process:

The substantive limitations placed on the content or subject matter of state and federal laws by the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

In general, substantive due process prohibits the government from infringing on fundamental constitutional liberties. By contrast, procedural due process refers to the procedural limitations placed on the manner in which a law is administered, applied, or enforced. Thus, procedural due process prohibits the government from arbitrarily depriving individuals of legally protected interests without first giving them notice and the opportunity to be heard.

The Due Process Clause provides that no person shall be "deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law." When courts face questions concerning procedural due process, the controlling word in this clause is process. Courts must determine how much process is due in a particular hearing to satisfy the fairness requirements of the Constitution. When courts face questions concerning substantive due process, the controlling issue is liberty. Courts must determine the nature and the scope of the liberty protected by the Constitution before affording litigants a particular freedom. (

Procedural Due Process:

noun due process of law, legal fairness, legal safeguards, protection against deprivations, protection guarantees, protection of deprivation of accepted legal principles Generally: fundamental fairness Specifically: Fifth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment
Associated concepts: 
procedural due process, right to confront accuser.(legal dictionary)


To that claim, Judge Hillman wrote: "To require the town to provide any greater level of procedural due process at the pre-discipline stage would unnecessarily intrude on the town's interest in temporarily removing an unsatisfactory employee and in efficiently administering its personnel system”.

The aforementioned text offers insight into the basic concept or meaning of due process. The blind fold has been lifted off of the face of justice within Desoto and Shelby County courts; and legal venues throughout our nation. The good ole boy system includes people of color as well.  A receding culture holds on to the last vestige of social stance, in lieu of social change. The Thwarting of Black males is the presumed understanding. Meaning; male individuals of African descent have an unsaid prison social contract.  The privatizing of prisons requires Black souls! The various state legal bars lack the oversight as it relates to its wayward offspring. Routine or manufactured precedent prevails. A first responder remarks “When the judge etc...” becomes an obvious flag of a manufactured precedent. This person or entity knows the outcome?  The incident has an identified result. The almighty dollar seems to dictate jurisprudence. Lawyers will seek fortune and will not embrace the constitution or serve the needs of the ongoing public with due diligence. Money or paper, should not dictate whether or not justice is served!  The body politic is not best served with the hold host of barristers! The modern day paper chase is an embarrassment towards the profession. Individuals of African descent continue to be wronged within our justice system, but our white house leadership concentrates on foreign or alternative lifestyles? The white house seems to scoff at the fundamental needs of individuals of African descent; moreover, forgoing public opinion. The working man needs to rebuke a system that cultivates an exclusive lawyer stance.  The poor continue to suffer from the lack of due process. The recent Supreme Court decisions do not integrate the constitutionality of a given subject, but offer biased political remedy. County, State, and Municipal provinces make their own rules, and scoff at constitutional attributes.  If an individual wants to embrace a pro se stance, what say the body politic? Is it a guaranteed loss? Do lawyers feel insecure about an individual representing themselves? It’s all about the paper “G”! The legal profession is diminished when justice is associated with the bottom-line. The constitution becomes a mere parchment adopted by old white dudes unless it’s given defined meaning. The United States will become a tier below a third world country if finances influence the outcome of court decisions.