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Archive for August 22nd, 2014

Holder has a Compelling Case in the Brown Killing

Posted by Admin On August - 22 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Holder has a Compelling Case in the Brown Killing

New America Media

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Attorney General Eric Holder has a compelling federal case in the Michael Brown killing if he decides to bring civil rights charges against Ferguson, Missouri cop, Darren Wilson.

He’s certainly taken almost unprecedented lightning fast first steps in that direction. He’s got a phalanx of FBI agents assigned to the case. He’s authorized an autopsy by a crack medical examiner from the military. He personally travelled to the city to review procedures with civil rights division attorneys and investigators. None of this would have been done without the personal approval of President Obama, who already has made more statements on the Ferguson furor and the Brown killing than he has on any other racially charged flashpoint issue during his White House tenure.

There are several factors within federal law that Holder has to look at to make the final decision whether to go forward with a prosecution. There has to be a “compelling interest” that the defendant’s conduct could constitute a federal offense and that there is sufficient evidence against the defendant that the government can obtain a conviction.

There are clear elements of each of these hard federal prosecution requirements in the Brown killing.

The compelling interest is probably the easiest of the requisites to satisfy. Wilson did not charge Brown with a crime; the 18-year-old was stopped by all accounts for jaywalking. The allegations that Brown was a suspect in a convenience store heist, and that he smoked marijuana, and even that he may have actually had some physical altercation with Warren came way after the fact. Multiple eyewitnesses have been absolutely clear on this crucial point. He was shot on the ground with his hands up. An independent autopsy has confirmed that Brown could not have been shot during a scuffle as Wilson, police, and an anonymous eyewitness claim.

The key point is that he was on a public thoroughfare when he was killed. The right to freedom of movement without the danger of undue harm is a fundamental right that’s enshrined in constitutional law and public policy. It’s inviolate. The courts have repeatedly upheld a citizen’s right to freedom of access and movement in public places.

Though there was no apparent racial motive in Wilson confronting Brown, his action clearly violated Brown’s right to exercise his freedom of movement. This directly impacts on an individual’s right to life and liberty. This civil right was violated the moment Wilson presumed that a young black man walking in a public thoroughfare had committed a crime. The safeguard of that right must be a fundamental concern of federal prosecutors.

The Brown case also strongly points to systemic issues of excessive force by police. The obvious excessive force that was used was the slaying of Brown. This strikes to the heart of another basic right of citizens, namely the right to life and liberty, and again the freedom from undue harm. His killing once more raised deeply troubling questions about the power of the law to protect citizens from their unimpeded right to life and safety. Federal prosecutors play a major role in insuring that where there’s the suspicion that an individual’s rights might have been violated solely because of their race and gender that the power of federal law is brought to bear to insure that right is protected.

Wilson was a police officer and the charge that he abused his power in killing Brown under the color of law is the linchpin of federal prosecutions of local police officers. This was the rationale that federal prosecutors used in the Rodney King beating case to bring civil rights charges against the four LAPD officers that beat King. The crucial legal point was that they acted in an official capacity when they violated King’s rights.

The Justice Department scrupulously goes to great lengths to shield itself from the charge that it’s bowing to media or public pressure to prosecute. This is why the percentage of civil rights prosecutions it authorizes is infinitesimally low, especially against police officers. Yet in the Brown slaying there are crucial federal interests in insuring the rights of individuals to be free from undue harm because of their color, age, and being in a public area merely because someone perceives they shouldn’t be in and then acts on that perception with no cause other than that belief or perception.

Holder will give serious consideration to the civil rights violations in the Brown killing. This alone sends the strong signal that civil rights violations will always be subject to full and public scrutiny by federal prosecutors. This is exactly why he has a more than compelling reason to not only consider a Warren civil rights prosecution, but has a compelling case for a prosecution.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a frequent MSNBC contributor. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KTYM 1460 AM Radio Los Angeles and KPFK-Radio and the Pacifica Network. Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson

Photo: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

NAACP Calls for A Special Prosecutor to Investigate Michael Brown’s Shooting

Posted by Admin On August - 22 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

From: Cornell William Brooks
President and CEO

We need to talk about Ferguson

Not about the protestors—the vast majority of whom are peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights. Not about police militarization, either, which has only escalated tension on the ground.

We need to talk about justice for Michael Brown. Justice rests in the hands of one person: St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, a man with deep personal, family, and professional ties to the local police department.

This is the man who is supposed to remain unbiased, present evidence to a grand jury, and bring charges against the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown…

Send an urgent message to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Attorney General Chris Koster demanding the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate Michael Brown’s shooting.

Mr. McCulloch’s father was a police officer killed in the line of duty in 1964. His brother, uncle, and cousin all served in the St. Louis Police Department, and his mother was a clerk in the department.

It is impossible to believe he can remain unbiased in this case. So far, local investigators and law enforcement have been slow to speak to witnesses, eager to arrest journalists and attack peaceful protesters, and surprisingly quick to release unrelated video “evidence” only meant to distract from the investigation. Does this seem unbiased to you?

We want justice and transparency, no more, no less. We can still restore trust in this case, but only if Governor Jay Nixon or state Attorney General Chris Koster acts today.

Urge Governor Nixon and state Attorney General Koster to appoint a special prosecutor, in the name of an unbiased and transparent investigation into this shooting:


In solidarity,

Cornell William Brooks
President and CEO

Madigan Announces Record $300 Million for Illinois’ Pension Systems, Consumers in Bank of America Settlement

Posted by Admin On August - 22 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS
With Settlement, Attorney General Madigan Has Recovered a Total of $2.8 Billion for Illinois Homeowners, Communities & Pension Systems

CHICAGO, IL – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced a record $300 million settlement with Bank of America as a result of the bank’s misconduct in its marketing and sale of risky residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) leading up to the 2008 economic collapse. The settlement includes $200 million in relief to fully recover for losses incurred by Illinois’ pension systems and $100 million in consumer relief.

The agreement is part of a national settlement forged by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and also joined by attorneys general from California, Delaware, Massachusetts, New York and Kentucky. The settlement includes recoveries for RMBS issued by Countrywide and Merrill Lynch, both of which were acquired by Bank of America.

Today’s settlement is the latest in a long line of enforcement actions Attorney General Madigan has taken against Bank of America and its subsidiary Countrywide for abuses, discrimination and misconduct that contributed to the financial crisis. As a result of all of the enforcement actions that Madigan has taken against the perpetrators of the economic collapse, she has recovered a total of approximately $2.8 billion for Illinois consumers, communities, county recorders and pension funds.

“This settlement resolves the fourth enforcement action I have brought against Bank of America to fight the widespread fraud that was at the root cause of the economic crisis. Bank of America, and in particular Countrywide, were major players in virtually every aspect of the market that caused the crisis, from shoddy loan originations and discriminatory lending to African Americans and Latinos to fraudulent marketing of mortgage-backed securities,” Madigan said. “This settlement is my latest fight to hold Bank of America and Countrywide accountable for destroying our economy and the financial future of so many Illinoisans.”

The settlement with Bank of America stems from an investigation by Madigan’s office which revealed that between 2006 and 2008 the bank failed to disclose the true risk of RMBS investments to Illinois’ pension systems and therefore misled the systems when they invested in the RMBS market.

The settlement requires Bank of America to pay a total of $154.2 million to the Illinois Teachers Retirement System, $2.6 million to the State Universities Retirement System, and $43.2 million the Illinois State Board of Investment, which oversees the State Employees’ Retirement System, General Assembly Retirement System and Judges’ Retirement System.

Bank of America also will provide at least $100 million in consumer relief, including assistance for homeowners as well as funding for blight reduction. An independent monitor will be appointed to oversee the relief distribution.

Today’s settlement is the third and largest such agreement that Madigan has secured as part of her work on the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group under President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. Madigan has reached similar agreements with JPMorgan Chase & Company for $100 million to Illinois’ pension systems, and with Citigroup for $44 million to the state’s pension systems and an additional $40 million in consumer relief.

The settlement is also the latest action for Madigan against Bank of America and Countrywide that began even before the economic collapse.

In June 2008, Madigan filed an historic lawsuit against Countrywide that led to an $8.7 billion national settlement for deceptively placing thousands of Illinois homeowners into ultra-risky and unaffordable subprime mortgages. The settlement was reached with Bank of America after it acquired Countrywide, and it established the nation’s first mandatory loan modification program.

Two years later, in 2010, Madigan again filed suit against Countrywide and Bank of America for illegally targeting African American and Latino borrowers for sales of the lender’s poorest quality and most expensive mortgages during the height of the subprime mortgage lending spree. The lawsuit led to a $335 million national settlement reached by Madigan and DOJ that provided restitution to harmed Illinois borrowers and represented the largest settlement of a fair lending lawsuit ever obtained by a state attorney general. In addition, Madigan and DOJ secured a $175 million national settlement with Wells Fargo to resolve similar fair lending allegations.

In 2012, Madigan was a lead negotiator in the $25 billion national mortgage settlement with the country’s largest mortgage servicers, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Ally Bank, formerly GMAC, that addressed allegations of widespread “robo-signing” of foreclosure documents and other fraudulent practices banks employed while servicing mortgages of struggling homeowners. As a result of Madigan’s leadership, Illinois borrowers have received over $2.4 billion in direct relief.

Currently, Madigan is litigating against the national credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s, alleging that the company compromised its independence as a rating agency by doling out high ratings to unworthy, risky investments as a corporate strategy to increase its revenue and market share.

Local Attorneys Volunteer to Watchdog Chicago Police

Posted by Admin On August - 22 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

From: First Defense Legal Aid

The recent killing of Mike Brown, a Black youth in Ferguson, Missouri has a nation questioning: who polices the police? How the Chicago Police Department members treat people is an issue 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With new police accountability ideas on the table from civilian oversight to video recording, it is important to know that in Chicago, First Defense is one of the best-kept secrets, evening the playing field between suspects and police and prosecutors.

First Defense is unique to Chicago, watchdogging the police by deploying volunteer attorneys to police stations when someone calls a toll-free Hotline to alert them to an arrest. The attorneys take shifts of 6 hours/mo each because they are concerned with protecting people’s rights in the first 48 hours after a police stop. In 2015, the group will celebrate 20 years of the Hotline; their wish at this anniversary is for all of Chicago to know their number.

“Procedural justice in police custody requires access to an advocate. It’s nothing new, but by the time a public defender can be appointed, typically after 48 hours being alone with police and prosecutors, it is basically too late,” says First Defense Executive Director, Eliza Solowiej, “we are providing real access to the Miranda rights we all know but are almost never attainable.”

Witnesses to any questionable police tactics or uses of excessive force by officers while taking people into police custody, can call 1(800) 529-7374 anytime of day or night. Attorneys go into every Chicago police station and check on the arrestee, documenting any injuries, evidence of abuse, or reports of misconduct. Our attorneys visit all of the stations where Chicago police hold suspects and determine how long the person has been in police custody and how much longer they can legally be held before they are charged or released. They can advocate for medical treatment and help document what happens at the station.

They also ensure a person in custody can assert his or her right to an attorney, against unreasonable searches, and to remain silent under the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Chicago police practice is to allow an arrestee his or her phone calls at the end of processing. This limits a person’s ability to call for a free attorney when it matters most, so the group is working hard to spread the word that anyone can call as soon as they know someone was arrested, with their name, birthdate and last known location.

Through providing for and watchdogging the rights of arrestees, First defense helps police culture such as the ‘code of silence’ be transformed, and police stops safer for Chicago youth when split-second decisions can make the difference between life and death. The relationship between communities and police, and public safety increases when more people access their rights.

For more information, contact: Eliza Solowiej, Executive Director, First Defense Legal Aid

(773) 354-8581


Also available for comment: youth impacted by police violence, outreach workers returned from prison for wrongful convictions, and volunteer attorneys on how filling the gap in access to free legal defense can help transform police culture for the better

Former Teacher and Coach Convicted of Sexually Abusing Minor

Posted by Admin On August - 22 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

A south suburban school teacher and coach has been convicted of repeatedly sexually abusing a 14-year-old female student, according to the Office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.

Idris Bridgeforth, 42, of Riverdale, was convicted after a bench trial of Criminal Sexual Assault (Class 1 Felony), 2 counts of Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse (Class 2 Felony), and Indecent Solicitation of a Child (Class 2 Felony).  Bridgeforth faces a mandatory prison sentence of 7-22 years when he is sentenced next month.

According to prosecutors, Bridgeforth was the victim’s basketball and track coach and frequently drove the victim to and from sporting events.  On multiple occasions between December 2011 and June 2012 Bridgeforth inappropriately touched and sexually abused the victim while they were in his vehicle.

On June 2, 2012, the victim received multiple text messages from Bridgeforth in which he indicated that he would like to be more intimate with the victim, and that he would use protection.  Several days later, the victim’s mother observed a text message late at night, and curious to see who was texting her daughter she began reading through older messages.  The victim’s mother recognized the phone number attached to the messages as Bridgeforth’s.  She then verified it with school administrators and immediately contacted law enforcement.

Bridgeforth was arrested on June 6, 2012 and text messages between Bridgeforth and the victim were recovered from the victim’s iTouch.

Cook County Judge Erica Reddick convicted Bridgeforth today after a bench trial at the George Leighton Criminal Courts Building in Chicago.  His next court date is scheduled for September 24th.

State’s Attorney Alvarez thanked Assistant State’s Attorney Elizabeth Ciaccia as well as the Chicago Police Department for their work on this case.

Chicago Jews Say NO! to Israeli War Criminals At JUF

Posted by Admin On August - 22 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago members say they will interrupt former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren to say “shame on you” at Jewish United Fund celebration of Israeli war crimes. The event was scheduled to take place August 21st at the Chicago Hilton & Towers, Grand Ballroom, 720 S. Michigan Ave., in Chicago

Jewish Voice for Peace – Chicago, is a local chapter of large and growing grassroots network of Jews organizing in solidarity with Palestinians against the injustice perpetrated by the Israeli government. Participants include both American Jews and Israelis.

Members of Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago will disrupt the Jewish United Fund’s celebration of Israeli war crimes perpetrated during Israel’s recent assault on Gaza. JVP members will repeatedly interrupt the featured speakers throughout the event, denying injustice an uncontested platform in our community. As Jews we direct shame and rebuke toward the event’s organizers and the featured panelists, who include former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren and an Israeli soldier who has served in Gaza.

Jewish tradition “compels us to not only shun injustice, but to openly rebuke those who practice it,” they stated. Israel’s most recent attack against the Gaza Strip has killed over 2000 Palestinians, a majority civilians, yet Michael Oren and the Jewish United Fund have been unflinching in their support. Reported Israeli war crimes include the targeting of fighters’ family residences, the bombing of civilian infrastructure and UN buildings, and the leveling of whole neighborhoods and towns throughout Gaza. Omer Hecht, a participant in the action who served in Israel’s armed forces, describes Israeli actions in Gaza as “collective punishment for political gain.

“Israel is committing war crimes with brutal and destructive force against some of the poorest and most disenfranchised people on earth,” Hecht said. “As a Jew and as an Israeli, I cannot stand idly by. As an American and resident of Chicago it is my duty to stand up and say, no more! Not in my name!”

All the while, the JUF has remained silent about Palestinian suffering. JUF is shirking the duty to call out gross immorality and must be held accountable. Furthermore, the ostensibly charitable fund has devoted resources to promoting Israel’s geopolitical agenda, coordinating rallies and deploying Israeli talking points in its materials.

“JUF claims to represent Jews, but they’re in denial about the growing numbers of us who support Palestinian rights,” said Michael Deheeger, a JVP protestor who left work in the Jewish non-profit world over programming complicit in oppression of Palestinians. “As an American Jew, I stand up to say shame on Israel for war crimes and shame on the Jewish United Fund for its silence. The way forward for the Jewish community is solidarity with the Palestinian call for a nonviolent, global, boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement.”

For his part, Oren served as ambassador during the 2009 Gaza War, which killed over one thousand Palestinians. As a 2011 UN commission accused Israel of deliberately targeting civilians, Oren and other top Israeli officials should be facing international war crimes trials, not touring and raising money over dessert. People like Oren and his supporters will meet growing rebuke from Jews across the world if Israel does not end its illegal, 47-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, guarantee equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and provide a just settlement for all Palestinian refugee populations.

VIDEO/PHOTO: Live coverage with photo will be available on Twitter via the @ChicagoJVP account. Video will be made available on the JVP Youtube page after the action

Jewish Voice for Peace (www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org) is a national, grassroots organization dedicated to achieving a just and lasting peace that recognizes the aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians for security and self-determination. Jewish Voice for Peace has over 175,000 online supporters, over 40 chapters, a youth wing, a Rabbinic Cabinet, and an Advisory Board made up of leading U.S. intellectuals and artists.

For more information, contact: Benjamin Chametzky
Phone: (618) 319-3462
Email: benchametzky@gmail.com

Phony Government Grant Scam Targets Northern Illinois Residents, Warns the Better Business Bureau

Posted by Admin On August - 22 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL -  A steady stream of scams have been reported to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) throughout the summer and there seems to be no end to that trend. Most recently consumers have contacted the BBB about calls regarding U.S. Government Grants. The scammers claim to be representatives of the U.S. Federal Government and place calls to individuals informing them that they are the recipient of guaranteed grants.

Carol Finstein of Waukegan received a call with an offer for a federal grant. “They said that there was a federal grant available to anyone that was either a senior citizen or disabled. They said that I was entitled to $7,000 but there were legal and other fees to pay in advance.” Ms. Finstein was told that she should make the payment using a GreenDot card. “It started with $500 and they kept asking for more and finally added up to $2,400. I borrowed the last $300 they asked for from a friend.”

The story the scammer told Hosea Blakely of Rockford was slightly different. “I received a call from a Mr. Watson who told me that once a year guaranteed U.S. Government Grants are issued and I would receive $8,600. All I had to do was place a call and within 30 minutes the money would be deposited into his account.” Mr. Blakely was not asked for any advanced payments, only his account information.

“These kinds of scams often have two goals,” says Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “First, they want to milk trusting consumers out of their money and secondly they target them for identity theft.”

“Senior Citizens are particularly vulnerable in large part because they are at home during the day to receive the calls and they often get taken by surprise by these fast talking con artists,” Bernas added.

That was not the case with Mae Nichols, also of Rockford. “I received a phone call saying they were from the United States government and they wanted to give me $8,000 for being a good citizen. All they needed was my credit card number or banking and they would put it in there. I told them I can wait, just mail it to me. When they said no, I hung up on them.”

Additionally, Bernas notes, “While it’s true the U.S. Federal Government does give out billions of dollars each year in grant money, most grants are given to help students pay for college or for specifically defined reasons such as for research or to businesses in particular industries.”

There are a few basic rules that can keep you from losing money to these government grant scams:

  • Don’t give out your bank account information to anyone you don’t know. Scammers pressure people to divulge their bank account information so that they can steal the money out of the account. Always keep your bank account information confidential. Don’t share it unless you are familiar with the company and know why the information is necessary.
  • Don’t pay any money for a “free” government grant. If you have to pay money to claim a “free” government grant, it isn’t really free. A real government agency won’t ask you to pay a processing fee for a grant that you have already been awarded – or to pay for a list of grant-making institutions. The names of agencies and foundations that award grants are available for free at any public library or on the Internet. The only official access point for all federal grant-making agencies is www.grants.gov.
  • Look-alikes aren’t the real thing. Just because the caller says he’s from the “Federal Grants Administration” doesn’t mean that it is true. There is no such government agency. Take a moment to check the blue pages in your telephone directory to confirm whether or not the agency exists and is legitimate.
  • Phone numbers can deceive. Some con artists use Internet technology to disguise their area code in caller ID systems. Although it may look like they’re calling from Washington, DC, they could be calling from anywhere in the world.
  • Take control of the calls you receive. If you want to reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive, place your telephone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. To register online, visit donotcall.gov. To register by phone, call 1-888-382-1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236) from the phone number you wish to register.
  • File a complaint with the FTC. If you think you may have been a victim of a government grant scam, file a complaint with the FTC online, or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261.

For more tips on protecting yourself against a data breach, visit www.bbb.org, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Chicago NLG Legal Observer® Arrested While Documenting Ongoing Police Violence in Ferguson

Posted by Admin On August - 22 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

At approximately 12:30 AM on August 20, St. Louis County Police arrested Max Suchan, a Legal Observer® with the National Lawyers Guild (NLG).

Suchan, a Chicago law student, traveled to Ferguson to document police misconduct and help protect community residents’ First Amendment rights in the wake of Michael Brown’s murder.

Prior to Suchan’s arrest, the police repeatedly charged the crowd on Florrisant Ave., appearing to target unarmed black youth for arrest. The police pushed the protesters down the street and gave dispersal orders without clear directions for how people should leave. Suchan observed several police in riot gear pointing their guns at an African-American man, forcing him roughly to the ground before placing him under arrest. While attempting to ask the arrestee for his name so he could be tracked in jail (a standard Legal Observer® procedure), Suchan was also forced to the ground and arrested. He was booked at the St. Louis County Justice Center in Clayton and released several hours later. Suchan was released with a pending application of warrant (“PAW”), meaning that the County has 30 days to press charges if they so choose.

Following his arrest, Suchan stated: “I am shocked by the extreme level ofviolence police exhibited towards residents in their own community, as well as Legal Observers® and members of the press. I observed numerous arrests where people seemed to be singled out by police in a “snatch and grab” fashion, merely because of the color of their skin. I observed several residents arrested while trying to negotiate an exit route with police. Several of my co-arrestees were bleeding and had bumps and cuts on their faces from being thrown to the ground. The police are terrorizing Ferguson and those who support the struggle for police accountability and an end to racial inequality.”

For the last five days, the NLG has had a team of Legal Observers® on the ground in Ferguson to monitor police activity and offer legal support to protesters. The NLG has been documenting rampant police abuse at demonstrations, working with local organizations on coordinating bail and providing other legal support, and organizing criminal defense attorneys to represent arrestees. The Guild has extensive experience doing mass defense work for movements for social and political change, including Occupy Wall Street.

Even during his hours-long detention from inside the police van, Suchan continued doing mass defense work, documenting the cases of co-arrestees and monitoring police activity. He will be back on the streets as Legal Observer® tomorrow.

*The National Lawyers Guild was formed in 1937 as the nation’s first racially integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.*

Communist Party USA Calls for United Militant Non-Violent Action of Civil Rights, Youth, Labor and Communities to Address Ferguson Crisis

Posted by Admin On August - 22 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Letters To Editors

From: John Bachtell, National Chairman  CPUSA

Let us turn grief and anger into action and change

The grief and heartbreak of Michael Brown’s parents and Ferguson’s largely African American community is unimaginable. We share that sorrow and grief.

We also join the universal demands to prosecute the officer who committed this horrendous killing.

Our nation should be deeply disturbed by this murder. Michael Brown’s story and those of Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Stephon Watts, John Crawford, Ezell Ford and countless other young African Americans murdered by racist police officers is all too familiar.

We should also be outraged and alarmed by the presence in Ferguson of police laden with weapons suited for a war zone confronting its citizens and denying the right to peacefully protest. It is a scene reminiscent of the US occupation in Afghanistan or Iraq.

This is a moment for deep national reflection. It strikes at basic issues of humanity, equality and democracy. The cause of Michael’s death is not hard to see. It is the fruit of institutionalized racism and hate within the Ferguson police department and political establishment. Ferguson is 67% African American, yet only 3 of 50 officers are black.

In Ferguson and communities across the country, policing is routinely based on racial profiling and “stop and frisk” policies targeting young African American and Latino men.

Instead of guaranteeing public safety, police departments are too often occupying powers. Communities of color are dehumanized; residents are constantly under suspicion and viewed as animals. Police officers imbued with racism and hate, armed with guns and impunity to commit crimes against citizens makes for a deadly mix.

A recent study showed that police officers kill 400 people a year, including 100 African Americans. And this is just a small sample of what is actually reported to federal authorities. It is time for a national database of those killed and wounded by police so we can see the full extent of the crisis.

It is in the vital interests of all communities – black, brown and white – to have police departments that are not above the law, that serve and protect all residents, including African American, Latino and other people of color – not just white and wealthy residents.

The investigation by the US Justice Department and FBI into Michael’s killing makes it possible to overcome the intransigence of local authorities and bring the light of day to Ferguson’s police department and attain justice.

But we must go much further and take steps to actually change police practice. It’s time to bring police departments under the authority of the communities they serve.

It’s time to establish civilian police accountability councils with public authority to investigate, subpoena and charge officers engaged in crimes and corruption.

It’s time to fully integrate police departments at every level, end the practices of racial profiling and stop and frisk, policies that emanated from the failed “war on drugs” and which have resulted in mass incarceration of mainly African American and Latino youth.

It’s time to repeal the section of the National Defense Authorization Act which arms local police departments with military style weapons, armored vehicles, helicopters and combat assault rifles.

Let us turn our grief into action. Let us honor the life of Michael Brown by changing that which led to his tragic death.

For more information, contact Joe Sims 917-402-9220 or joesims@cpusa.org

Chicago Human Rhythm Project Celebrates 25th Anniversary Jubalee Oct. 7 at Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park

Posted by Admin On August - 22 - 2014 1 COMMENT

JUBA! Awards Presented to Chicago Philanthropists Patti Eylar and Charlie Gardner and The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

The Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP), celebrating 25 years as the nation’s premier presenter of American tap dance and contemporary percussive arts, honors Patti Eylar and Charlie Gardner and The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation with its JUBA! Award at Jubalee, CHRP’s annual gala benefit supporting performance, education and community programs that reach more than 20,000 people every year. This special evening, hosted by Bill Kurtis, takes place October 7 at 5:30 p.m. at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.

JUBA! Awards and performances

At this year’s Jubalee, celebrating its 25th season, CHRP honors Patti Eylar and Charlie Gardner with the JUBA! Award for their longtime generous support of Chicago Human Rhythm Project and the entire dance community. In addition, CHRP honors The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation with its annual JUBA! Award for Extraordinary Commitment to Community and Culture for its long-term support of cultural organizations of all sizes through direct grants and smaller grants through the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and Prince Charitable Trusts. These honorees played pivotal roles in the establishment of CHRP’s shared dance space, the American Rhythm Center, which will provide a platform for multiple organizations during CHRP’s next 25 years. Eylar, Gardner and The MacArthur Foundation join the distinguished company of past JUBA! Award recipients, including Gregory Hines, Bill Irwin, Mayor and Mrs. Richard M. Daley, Ted and Susan Oppenheimer, Bill Kurtis and Donna LaPietra, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The evening begins with a cocktail reception and a silent auction, followed by performances featuring CHRP’s resident ensemble BAM!, the Greg Spero Trio Movement Revolution and CHRP’s youth outreach programs from around the city. The evening concludes with dinner, a live auction and a dessert reception where guests can meet the performers.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is Honorary Chair of the Jubalee. Co-Chairs include Lane Alexander, Judith Blank, Michael Foster, Diana E. Harris and Cari and Barry Shein.

Tickets to CHRP’s 25th anniversary Jubalee are $250 and $500.To purchase tickets or tables, or for information about sponsorships, call 312-542-2477, ext. 203, or visit chicagotap.org.

Photo: Cheryl Mann


This presentation is supported by the Arts Midwest Touring Fund, a program of Arts Midwest that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional contributions from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and General Mills Foundation. CHRP is supported by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Target, The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The Arlen and Elaine Cohen Rubin Charitable Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Kansas City, The Jeanette & Jerome Cohen Philanthropic Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Kansas City, National Endowment for the Arts, Illinois Arts Council Agency, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, L&L Hardwood Flooring, Peoples Gas, The Service Club of Chicago, The Walmart Foundation and generous individual donors.

Chicago Human Rhythm Project

Founded in 1990,  Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP) builds community by presenting American tap dance and contemporary percussive arts in world-class and innovative performance, education and community outreach programs. During the last 22 years, CHRP has produced multiple community-based collaborations involving shared revenue programs, concerts and touring opportunities, including:

  • annual National Tap Dance Day concerts, featuring an array of tap and percussive dance artists
  • a shared revenue program designed to assist Chicago’s budding tap community to build capacity through audience development, created in 2001
  • Thanks 4 Giving, another innovative shared revenue program launched in 2005 as part of its annual Global Rhythms concerts at the Harris Theater, through which CHRP has partnered with more than 100 Chicago-based nonprofits to raise funds for a wide variety of service agencies
  • participation in the 5th Anniversary Beijing International Dance Festival, assembling 70 artists to represent the United States
  • establishment of the American Rhythm Center (ARC), providing a shared, affordable and sustainable education, rehearsal and administrative facility for several leading Chicago arts organizations in the historic Fine Arts Building
  • curating the first ever, full-length performance of concert tap dance on a main stage of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on December 7, 2012

CHRP’s vision is to establish the first global center for American tap and percussive arts, creating a complete ecosystem of education, performance, creation and community in a state-of-the-art facility uniting generations of diverse artists and the public.

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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