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I Can’t Breathe

We know it was a lynching and wanted to directly share the words of one of our correspondences.

I Can’t Breathe by Kevin Rashid Johnson
We Can’t Breathe: On the Lynching of George Floyd. by Kevin Rashid Johnson:

On May 24, 2020, a crowd of onlookers witnessed the slow death by asphyxiation of a handcuffed Black man in Minneapolis.

This was a public lynching.

Only, unlike in times past, this crowd didn’t cheer but instead pleaded over and over for the cop who murdered George Floyd, to let him breathe; to take his knee off his neck and let him up. Several times onlookers tried to physically intervene, only to be themselves threatened with pig violence.

Also, unlike days of old, this murder was filmed for the world to also witness. And Minneapolis exploded! Thousands poured into the streets in protest.

Until just a few years ago, the world and Amerika at large denied that Black and Brown people in Amerika were routinely murdered by the cops.

The advent of cellphone technology and social media enabled everyday people to force a world in denial to bear witness to the reality of our lives under racist imperialist occupation.

Proportionally, more of us are murdered today by cops than were killed by lynch mobs during the Jim Crow era. And just like during Jim Crow, our killers are protected by a system that closes ranks to villainize the victims and portray our abusers as well-intended arbiters of justice. They’ve even crafted language to recast these killings as benign and something other than murder. Instead of calling it what it is, they’ve coined the euphemism, “police-involved shootings.”

What they are is a continuation of lynching. The cops have always participated in this sort of violence. They’ve never been a source of service or protection in our communities.

Black and brown people have always been corralled into marginalized spaces of Amerikan society where we’ve lived a suffocated existence. We were suffocated to death by everyday Amerikans at the instigation and participation of their elites, political leaders, and often the cops when we were hung from trees.

The lynching by suffocation of George Floyd, like that of Eric Garner in 2014, as they protested over and over “I can’t breathe!”, is but a continuation of the same in a racist capitalist society that must be fundamentally overturned. We’ll never be able to breathe free until it is!

Dare to Struggle Dare to Win!
All Power to the People!

-Kevin Rashid Johnson, MOD New Afrikan Black Panther Party

Black and Proud


“Black Is Beautiful”-The Original Black Panther Party

Hotep (Peace)!!!

Take notes!!!!!!!!!

“Follow in the footsteps of your ancestors, for the mind is trained through knowledge. Behold, their words endure in books. Open and read them and follow their wise counsel. For one who is taught becomes skilled.”

-Selections From The Husia: Sacred Wisdom of Ancient Egypt (Selected and Retranslated by Dr. Maulana Karenga page 50)
James Baldwin, the great Afrikan American writer once said, “To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage.” This statement is very true. If you are Black and conscious, White supremacy and the system of racism keeps your blackness in a constant state of rage. You become more and more angered with White domination and with Black oppression. Whiteness constantly and consistently challenges Afrikan people on their blackness through the neocolonialism in Afrika; Eurocentric education; police brutality (i.e. Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, etc); Black to Black violence (i.e. Dariun Albert, Hadiya Penalton, Dawn Riddick, Nakeisha Allen, etc); the denial of reparations; the negation of a Black agenda by elected officials; White racial violence (i.e. James Byrd, Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbey, etc); Europeanization; Arabism; the controlling and concoction of Black leadership; the validity of Black unity; the validity of Afrocentricity; the validity of the Black Libration Flag; the validity of Afrikan History; the validity of Afrikan culture; the validity of Afrikan spirituality; the validity of independent Black schools; the validity of Black liberation organizations (i.e. the Moorish Science Temples of America, the Universal Negro Improvement Association, the Nation of Islam under the leadership of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, the Us organization, the New Black Panther Party, the Original Black Panther Party, the Republic of New Afrika, the Black is Back Coalition, Black Lives Matter, etc); the validity of Black nationalism; the validity of Pan- Afrikanism; the validity of Black Power; the validity of Black revolutionary struggle; the importance of Black marriages to Black people; the emasculation of Black manhood; the high incarceration of rates of Black people; and Black self hatred. However, as you age with time you learn how to keep your rage in the spirit of Ma’at (Kemetic for balance). Kemet is the original Afrikan name for Egypt. Ma’at is an ancient Afrikan ethical and moral philosophy for truth, righteous, reciprocity, and balance originated in Kemetic (Egyptian) spirituality. It is very hard thing to do in a world controlled by white hegemony. White supremacists and racists will work to destroy your blackness. Some of your own people will attack you on your blackness. And even some of your own family members will attack you on your blackness. White supremacy and the system of racism are so interwoven into our world that many people embrace whiteness (light, bright, and anything and everything close to Europeans) over blacknes. For some Black people, being Black is too hard for us to live in this world. White hegemony dictates and defines Whiteness as the only thing that matters in the world. In response, some Black people develop issues of self-hatred. A huge part of Black liberation struggle is freeing ourselves from Black self-hatred with a love for our blackness.

Oppression regulates a people down to lowest realms of society. White supremacy and the system of racism have made Black people an oppressed group in America. Mixed between the march and movements against White supremacy, and the system of racism, is the struggle against Black self-hatred. This oppressive mentality of anti-blackness rears its ugly head in our community socially everyday (i.e. movies, reality shows, t.v talk shows, radio talk shows, social media, music videos, rap music, etc), and even amongst many family members.

Culturally, to rid ourselves from our blackness, some of us desperately try to find the one ounce of white blood in our veins. This, we believe, will help us justify us not being Black. We will say, “oh I am not Black, I am German.” Or we say, “oh I am not Black, I am French.” Or we say, “oh I am not Black, I am Spanish.” And some of us say, “I am not Black, I am bi-racial.” We try to be everything else except what God intended us to be-Black. If you are Black and proud, this really hurts our Afrikan centered Black conscious soul. However, this is the struggle for blackness. Unfortunately, without a national movement for Black liberation, White hegemony has beaten some us Black folk down in this new millennium. Some of us have given up on blackness. They, many White people and some Black people, do not want to accept the fact that Black self-hatred is a consequence of White supremacy and the system of racism.

Consequently, the purpose of White domination is to reduce Black people down into oppressive conditions in America, and in the world, to be exploited as group of people. Black self-hatred has been a tool used by our White oppressors to keep Black people from being Afrikan centered in their Blacknesss. If Black self-hatred is pervasive in the Afrikan American community, then Black people will never seize power for ourselves to be on equal footing with everyone’s culture in America and in this world.

However, there are many us that have not given up on blackness. I happened to be one of many Blackmen that have not given up on blackness. Afrika has been in my spirit, heart, and mind since 1990. That is the year I became conscious of my blackness. Prior to 1990, I knew nothing about the value and the importance of my blackness. I, like many Black youth growing up in the post Civil Rights and Black Power movements of the late 1970s, and the 1980s, were not taught on our blackness. Most leaders and organizations of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements had vanished, or became irrelevant, due to US government co-optation and repression. The schools in our neighborhoods, religious institutions, and many family circles did not teach us our Afrikan History, Afrikan culture, and Afrikan spirituality to help us develop an Afrikan centered Black conscious love for our blackness.

In this new millennium, young people call your awareness to blackness being “woke.” These type Black people are just conscious of their blackness. However, the “woke” Black person has not reach the level of consciousness to apply their blackness to Black liberation struggles.

Prior to the millennium, when you embraced your blackness, it was called Black consciousness. These type of Black people are conscious of their blackness. They work to help empower Black people in government, non-profits, community-based organizations, schools, colleges, universities, the business sector, and in religions institutions.

However, in Afrocentricity, there is deeper level of blackness. It is called-Afrikan centered Black consciousness. These type of Black people used Afrikan centered Black consciousness as a pathway for independent Afrikan centered education, nation-building, self-determination, independent politics, independent businesses, and Black liberation.

When I was a college student, my path to Afrikan centered Black consciousness started with Afrocentricity through the Nation of Islam. Both movements were very popular in my community of Newark and East Orange, NJ in the early 1990s. They both survived the onslaught of government co-optation and repression.

After the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad departed in 1975, his seventh son, Warith Deen Mohammad (former named Wallace Muhammad) took over the leadership of the mighty Nation of Islam. In three years, the Nation of Islam, the largest Islamic organization in America was dismantled. There was no more Nation of Islam. It was replaced by Sunni Al-Islam. All of the Nation of Islam’s Mosques were closed for public meetings that were at one timeused as a platform for organizing Muslims and Black people for liberation struggle. They were turned into a masjid (Arabic for mosque) now just used for salaat (Arabic for prayer). The Fruit of Islam (F.O.I) and Muslim Girls Training-General Civilization Class(MGT-GCC), the weekly military training of Muslims, Blackmen and Blackwomen,were abolished. Its’ Black liberation theology on Al-Islam was replaced by a moremoderate American, and some aspects Arabic centered theology. After three years,the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, who join the Nation of Islam under the most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X, could not take the destruction of Nation of Islam moving forward. He left Imam Warth Deen Mohammad’s leadership. He saw how the fall of the Nation of Islam, help set the Black community back deeper under the yoke of oppressionin America. Therefore, he went on to rebuild the work of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam to fight against White domination and Black oppression. He reestablished the F.O.I and MGT-GCC for the training of Muslims, Blackmen, and Blackwomen to help empower Muslims, Blackmen, and Blackwomen.

I joined the local Nation of Islam Mosque called-Muhammad Mosque #25. I was a committed member of the Nation of Islam. But after given a knowledge of my Black self through the teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, I became a exposed to Afrocentricity.

The movement of Afrocentricity is an Afrikan centered intellectual and cultural movement challenging White supremacist and racist notions about Black people, Afrika, Afrikan History, Afrikan culture, Afrikan spirituality, Black people, World History, Caribbean History, western religions, and American History.

I started studying the great master teachers of our culture to cultivate my Afrikan centered Black consciousness, such as Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop, Dr. John Henrick Clarke, Dr. Yosef Ben Jochannan, Dr. Ivan Van Sertima, Dr. Asa Hilliard, Professor Jacob Carruthers, Professor Ashra Kwesi, Tony Browder, Professor Dr. Runoko Rashidi, Professor James Smalls, Dr. Naim Akbar, Dr. Lenard Jeffries, Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, Dr. Marimba Ani, Dr. Charshee McIntyre, Dr. Amos Wilson, Dr. Maulana Karenga, and Dr. Molefe Kete Asante.

I went from being born Carlos Cortez to being reborn as brother Carlos X. I went from not knowing who I was in this world culturally to knowing my Afrikan roots.

In turn, my Afrikan centered Black consciousness help me develop my love for my blackness. And I wanted a name that reflected my new blackness in me. I did not want to go to the egunguun (ancestors realm) with the name of a European conqueror. Names like Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Jackson, O’Tool, Hudson, Marquette, La Salle, Cavelier, Albuquerque, Pizarro, Leon, Soto, Nunez, Vasquez, Velazquez, Lopez, and Cortez were given to Black people by our slave masters and European conquerors.

After a few years pondering over an Afrikan name, I chose Bashir Muhammad Akinyele in 1995. Bashir Muhammad Akinyele has been my legal name since 1996. That was the same year I left the Nation of Islam.

However, it was Islam as taught by the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad that help me develop my Afrikan centered Black consciousness love for blackness. Therefore, I accepted the name Muhammad. It is Arabic. It means one worthy of praise or who praises much in english. My middle name is Muhammad. The name Muhammad is Islamic in origin. And if you qualify yourself as a good Muslim, Muhammad is the name the Nation of Islam member earns. With my sojourn in the Nation of Islam, I had earned the name Muhammad.

The name Bashir, my first name, means one who brings good news. It is also Islamic in origin. However, I choose my first name after the name of an Original Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army political prisoner named Bashir Hammed. I came to know brother Bashir Hammed after being inspired to write letters and visits to community activists in prison through political prisoner community activists Baba Zayid Muhammad, Tayari Onege, and T.J. Witicker. Original Black Panther Bashir and I became good friends. He became my primary source history teacher on the revolutionary struggles of oppressed people in the world. Bashir Hameed was framed by the US government’s racist counter intelligence program called, COINTELPRO, to neutralized the Black liberation Movements in the Afrikan American community. In the 1950’s, 1960s, and early 1970s, the US began a secret campaign to destroy all Black leaders, Black Power organizations, and discredit all Black nationalist ideologies in the Afrikan American community that threatened White domination. Original Black Panther Party member Bashir Hameed became one of its many victims. Unfortunately, Bashir Hameed went to the egunguun (Yoruba for ancestor’s realm). He died on August 30, 2008 at Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock, NY. As a Muslim, Bashir Hameed had his Janazah rights at Masjid Dar Salaam in Elizabeth, NJ.

The name Akinyele is Afrikan. It is my last name. Akinyele comes from the Yoruba people of Nigeria. It means a strong one befits the house, or one of valor is in the house. Although my first and middle names are Islamic, I specifically chose Akinyele to connect me culturally to mother Afrika.

Eventually, community activist Baba Zayid Muhammad had organized an Afrikan community naming ceremony for me in Newark, NJ at the W.S.O.M.M.M (the Women In Support of the Million Man March) community center. It was there that my name, Bashir Muhammad Akinyele became official in the Afrikan centered conscious community.

During American slavery (the Maafa), the slave masters legally and violently forced Black people to accept bondage. The politicians and White slaver masters in America made it illegal for us to bear our Afrikan names. But the slave masters did not stop at just taking away our Afrikan names. They made it illegal for Black people to speak our own Afrikan languages, practice our own Afrikan religions, follow our own versions of western religions (i.e. Judaism, Christianity, and Al-Islam), to know our own Afrikan History, and to practice our own Afrikan cultural traditions (i.e Yoruba, Kemetic spirituality, etc). But most importantly, the American slave system (the Maafa) made sure that Afrikan people hated blackness.

Ultimately, US slave masters did this to disconnect us culturally from everything Afrikan to turn us into an negro people. The concept of negro is an European concept that disconnects a people to their history, culture, or a language.

We had to bear the names and cultures of our White slave masters. To this day, this is why many Afrikan Americans do not have Afrikan names and cannot speak our own Afrikan mother tongue.

American slavery (the Maafa) lasted for 250 years in America. It accumulated billions of dollars in wealth for America and White people for generations. American slavery made the United States the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world. When American slavery ended in 1865, Black people never received an apology, nor a penny in reparations to repair the psychological, cultural, social, and economic damages done in the Afrikan American community for hundreds of years.

But the European Slave-Trade (Maafa) lasted for 400 years. It was international. White slave masters from all over Europe were importing Afrikan people from Afrika to many parts of their colonialized new world in the Western Hemisphere, such as Canada, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, the Bahamas, and Granada. To this day, this is why there are millions of Black people in the North and South America. The Maafa, or the European Slave -Trade, uprooted and displaced Black people to the new world. However, Black people transported our Afrikan cultural traditions, such as cornrows, soul music, and the drum. The word Maafa is Kiswahili for great disaster, which forced Black people from Afrika to the world. Kiswahili is an Pan Afrikan language spoken in many parts of Afrika. It is the language of the Afrikan / Afrikan American holiday called-Kwanzaa.

In certain parts of the Western Hemisphere, new people of Afrikan descent emerged, such as Jamaican Haitians, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Brazilians, Latinos, and Afrikan Americans.

Struggling to liberate one self from the vestiges of American slavery (the Maafa) to embrace blackness is dangerous. Many of us know White supremacy and the system of racism will work to discredit and attack Afrikan centered Black consciousness. But we also know that some of our own Black people, our co-workers, and family members will work to discredit and attack our Afrikan centered Black consciousness as well in America and in the world. In our world, blackness is viewed as a threat to White domination. Personally, I have been attacked by some White people, some Black people, some education colleagues, and some family members because of my strong embrace of my blackness in this world. Dr. John Henrick Clark, the great Pan-Afrikanist and historian, taught us that one of the most powerful thing the European (Whites) did to Afrikan people (Blacks) was colonialize our minds.” Unfortunately, some people have developed a disrespect for blackness.

However, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught the Blackman and Black woman to be proud of being Black. He, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, said that the original man and woman of the planet earth are Black people. The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, said this in his Lessons to the Lost-Found Nation of Islam in North America, “we are the maker, the owner, the cream of the planet earth, and God of the universe. If that is too ‘religious’ for you to accept as actual facts, then study the humanities and science of the secular world. Many histories and sciences reflect the teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad by showing us that we as Black people fathered and mothered all people (humanity) on the planet earth (i.e. Afrikans, White people, Asians, Latinos, Native Americans, Arabs, etc), created civilizations, inspired the world’s religions, and established standards of beauty.

If you read Dr. Ivan Van Sertima’s book, They Came Before Columbus, it documents Black people from Afrika traveling to foreign lands to help build civilizations in places that the Whiteman calls North and South America, such as the United States, Mexico, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Columbia, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Chile’, Honduras, Bolivia, and Peru.

If you read Charles Darwin book, The Origin of Species, he discusses that Afrika most likely is the birth place of humanity. Darwin said these things back in the 1800s!!! With the discoveries of the oldest recorded human bones in world history in Afrika by anthropology Drs Louis S.B. Leaky in 1959, and Donald C. Johannson in 1974, science now says conclusively that humanity’s birth place is in Afrika.

If you read Dr. Yosef ben Jochannan’s book, Africa: The Mother of Western Civilization, he documents Afrika’s Kemet (Egypt), and many other Nile Valley civilizations, contributed to the development of western civilization and western religions. This is why when Egyptologist Count C.F. Volney went to Kemet (Egypt) with Napoleon Bonaparte’s team of European scholarly professionals in 1798, he jumped at the opportunity. At this this time Napoleon was the Emperor of France, but he had an interest in the ancient world. They discovered that Kemet was a great Black civilization in Afrika, and that she influenced the world. Volney writes in his book, Voyages on Syrie Et En Egypt on pages 74-77, “Just think that the race of Black men, today our slaves and the object of our scorn, is the very race to which we owe our arts, sciences, and even the use of speech. Just imagine, finally, that it is in the midst of peoples who call themselves the greatest friends [White people] of liberty and humanity that one has approved the most barbarous slavery and questions whether Blackmen have the same kind of intelligence as Whites!”

If you read Dr. Runoko Rashidi book, African Presence In Early Asia, he documents Black people leaving Afrika to spark civilization on the continent of Asia.

Afrika’s presence is all over this planet. We can try to run way from our blackness, but as the respected Black nationalist freedom fighter Dr. Khalid Abdul Muhammad once said, “you can’t run from your Black self Blackman and Blackwoman.”

In summation, blackness has made me an effective Afrikan centered history teacher (I graduated from Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ in 1993 with Bachelor of Arts degree in History), a committed community activist, a better human being, and a proud Blackman. However, when you stand on your blackness Black people prepare for battle. Blackness is a threat in America and in the world.


Asante sana (Kiswahili for thank you very much) for reading my commentary.

O Dabo (Yoruba for go with God until we meet again)!!!

-Bashir Muhammad Akinyele is a History Teacher, Black Studies Teacher, Community Activist, Chairperson of Weequahic High School’s Black History Month Committee in Newark, NJ, commentary writer, and Co-Producer and Co-Host of the All Politics Are Local, the number #1 political Hip Hip radio show in America.

Note: Spelling Afrika with a k is not a typo. Using the k in Afrika is the Kiswahili way of writing Africa. Kiswahili is a Pan -Afrikan language. It is spoken in many countries in Afrika. Kiswahili is the language used in Kwanzaa. The holiday of Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26 to January


Ramsey Orta Support Needed!



This is what a hero looks like.

Ramsey Orta is paying a heavy price for filming the cold blooded murder of Eric Garner by an NYPD officer.  He’s a political prisoner, and as such we formed a small support group to provide material support while he’s in prison. For those who can, please send $5, $10 or whatever amount you can afford for his commissary so he doesnt risk being poisoned by the COs who constantly write him up for the smallest infractions.

Our goal is to raise $500 to meet his needs while incarcerated.  He is due for release in early July.

Also send a letter to Ramsey so he knows and the guards know he has community support.

The photo above shows Ramsey Orta holding his friend Eric Garner’s youngest daughter, Legacy.  On July 17, 2014, Ramsey not only witnessed the murder of his friend, but recorded it on his phone, as the NYPD murdered Eric with impunity. By turning over the footage to the  New York Daily News, Ramsey ignited a firestorm of national and international awareness about the extra-judicial lynchings being carried out by police forces all over this country. Ramsey Orta is the young hero most responsible for the grass-roots growth of the cop watch movement. Without Ramsey Orta, no one would know what happened to his friend Eric Garner. Even though there were two other NYPD chokehold executions on Staten Island prior to Eric Garner’s, they are not generally known:  Ernest Sayon in 1994, and Alfred Nelson in 2002. Al Sharpton knew about Nelson, but chose not to help his family, and ultimately abandoned Ramsey after promising to protect him by moving him and his family off Staten Island. Instead, he left him to be targeted and harassed by the NYPD, who have had it in for Ramsey ever since he released the video. They planted evidence, and indicted him on bogus charges of gun and drug possession. They attempted to kill him with rat poison when he was on Riker’s Island. They targeted and arrested Ramsey and his family, so that in order to protect his mother from prosecution, he ended up agreeing to a plea deal of 4 years jail time.
Ever since he entered jail in October of 2016, Ramsey has been persecuted as the political prisoner he is. He was moved to a succession of jails which put him far away from his loved ones, most especially his fiancée, and a large number of supporters. Probably because of numerous unfounded violations brought against him by corrections officers, he was denied parole in August, 2019, and thrown into solitary confinement yet again, immediately after testifying against Daniel Pantaleo (the NYPD officer who choked Eric Garner to death) in May. He must wait until July of 2020 for his release from jail.

Ramsey is currently at Mohawk Correctional Facility. He needs our help:
(1) You can donate to his PayPal account. He uses his PayPal donations for commissary, phone calls, and packages.  First you need to create your own account and go to Then click on “Send.”

‘You Promised You Wouldn’t Kill Me’

Atatiana Jefferson, Natasha McKenna and the other black women we forget.


A mourner paying respects before the start of the funeral service for Atatiana Jefferson.
Credit…Stewart F. House/Getty Images

DALLAS — On Thursday, I went to the funeral of Atatiana Jefferson, 28, who was shot to death by a police officer from outside her bedroom window this month. My companion there was Rhanda Dormeus, whose daughter Korryn Gaines was also killed by the police in her home. As we watched people file by the coffin, we thought, “This can’t keep happening.”

Ms. Jefferson was killed after a neighbor noticed her doors were open in the early hours of the morning and called a nonemergency police line for help. The two officers who responded did not announce themselves as the police as they sneaked around the yard and peeked into the house.

The death of Ms. Jefferson has mobilized activists, community members and commentators to demand sweeping changes. But if history is any guide, the masses will not recognize her name, as they do Eric Garner, Michael Brown or Tamir Rice. It’s not that we lack stories of black women killed by the police; rather, it seems that we don’t know what to do with them.

Consider Natasha McKenna, who died in early 2015 days after six sheriff’s deputies in Fairfax County, Va., shackled her outside her jail cell, wrestled her to the ground and then shocked her with a stun gun over and over. “You promised you wouldn’t kill me,” she pleaded. Those words should have become a rallying cry. Instead, most people have never heard them.


The families of these women often suffer in relative obscurity. Their daughters’ deaths don’t elicit the marches or news coverage that could catalyze accountability. When most people think about anti-black violence, like lynchings or police killings, they think about men. Women rarely come to mind first. That’s why I created the #SayHerName hashtag to counter this tendency.

It’s true that more men of all races are killed by the police than are women. But black women make up less than 10 percent of the population and 33 percent of all women killed by the police. Data released by the Fatal Interactions with Police research project indicates that from May 2013 to January 2015, more than 57 percent of black women were unarmed when killed. And they are “the only race-gender group to have a majority of its members killed while unarmed.”

They are killed in many of the same circumstances as men, but critically, their being female does not inoculate them from the rapid escalation — often fueled by race-based fear — that often happens. Police officers with eager trigger fingers don’t care if a woman’s child is next to her, or India Kager and Korryn Gaines might still be with us, or if a child might die during a police raid, as Aiyana Stanley-Jones’s tragic death illustrates. Being elderly, homeless or mentally incapacitated does not seem to give police officers pause, as the losses of Kathryn JohnstonMargaret LaVerne Mitchell and Pearlie Golden reveal. Neither does being in one’s own home, or Michelle Cusseaux and Kayla Moore’s lives might have been spared.

The silence around black women is not simply a matter of indifference. It happens even in spaces created for them. When I and a group of bereaved mothers who lost daughters went to the 2017 Women’s March, only mothers of men killed by the police were invited on stage. I still remember the devastated looks on their faces when they realized their losses would remain obscured.

If we want to get a broader sense of the problem here, we have to be able to critique both race and gender conventions and stereotypes, and usually class, too. We must consider implicit and explicit biases against black women. Their interactions with the police may be different from those of white women and, in some ways, black men as well.


All black people would be safer with police reforms that reduce their interactions with law enforcement in public and at home. Black women are more likely than black men to engage with police officers when they knock on doors making welfare or mental health checks. These seemingly benign nonemergency calls can put them at risk.

In 2017, Texas enacted the Sandra Bland Act, named for a woman who died. A key provision is mandatory de-escalation training for police officers. But it’s unclear whether the officer who killed Atatiana Jefferson underwent such training; his behavior on the night of her death suggests that neither he nor his partner followed police protocol.

So simply altering police training won’t protect black women. We must create penalties and disincentives around the use of excessive force. It’s a damning indictment of a broken system that the Sandra Bland Act, which ostensibly sought to prevent future deaths, didn’t seem to have any impact in Ms. Jefferson’s case.

Ms. Jefferson’s mother was too sick to attend her daughter’s funeral. In a letter that was read aloud, she wrote, “You often said you were going to change the world.” If her senseless killing catalyzes reforms that ensure policing is about protection and service, rather than fear and punishment, then she will have changed the world


The Low to No Cost of Killing a Black Man

New York’s feeble slap on the wrist for Eric Garner’s murderer-in-blue is yet more proof that US policing cannot be reformed.


source: The Low to No Cost of Killing a Black Man 

Police are now the sixth leading cause of death for young Amerikan men

Police use of brutal force is now considered a top 10 of death for young American men – and you’re at 2.5-times greater risk of being killed by a cop if you are a black man, a new study reveals.

The names of men like Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown have made headlines and became core to the Black Lives Matter movement in the US.

But they’re only three out of thousands who have died in encounters with police in the US in recent years.

Previous official statistics have placed police brutality below the top 10 causes of death for young US men, due largely to the way these deaths are coded by coroner’s offices.

In fact, police have been responsible for so many fatalities in recent years that encounters with cops are now the sixth leading cause of death – just behind cancer – for young American men, according to a new Rutgers University study.

‘We’ve never had reliable federal data system that’s tracked police-involved deaths,’ said Rutgers criminal justice professor and lead study author, Dr Frank Edwards, who based the research on media reports, not flawed federal data.

‘It’s important to emphasize that police violence is a threat to public health and police are responsible for…producing a lot of years of life lost.’

Just last week, court recordings detailed how yet another young American – Tony Timpa, 32 – was killed by police after the unarmed man called 911 during a schizophrenic episode.

A day later, a New York Police Department judge recommended Garner’s killer, Daniel Pantaleo, be fired.

Each year in the US, an average of about 1,100 people men and women are killed in encounters with the police, estimate the Rutgers researchers.

Cops are the seventh leading cause of death for African American men of the same age group, falling a spot lower only because HIV is also a leading cause of death for this group of men, unlike their white peers.

Nonetheless, people of color are at far greater risk of dying at the hands of law enforcement than are white men or women.

For black men, the risk is two-and-a-half times greater, meaning the odds they will be killed by police are one in 1,000.

Native American men are also at a high risk when they encounter police. They are 1.5 times more likely to be killed under these circumstances

Latino men face a 1.4 times greater risk of a fatal cop encounter than their white counterparts do.

On the whole, police officers are a lesser danger to women, who are 20 times less likely to be killed in encounters with law enforcement than men are.

But black, Latina and Native American women are between 1.2 and 1.5 times more likely than white women to be killed by police officers.

And police violence has only increased in recent years, surging by about 50 percent since 2008.

Yet National Vital Statistics reports have undercut the number of deaths caused by cops by about 50 percent, due to cracks in the system of cause of death coding used in coroners offices.

Instead, the Rutgers team used media reports – which have been shown to catch nearly all of the deaths captured in Vital Statistics data, as well as about 50 percent that the official numbers do not capture – to make their fatality estimates.

Dr Edwards hopes that the glaring revelation that police officers are the sixth leading cause of death (just behind cancer) of young adult men will encourage Americans to look at police violence as a public health issue.

‘When someone is killed by police, it doesn’t just affect them,’ Dr Edwards explained in an interview with

‘It affects their family, their community, their friends – those spill-over consequences can have really negative effects.’

In 2017, Erica Garner (pictured) died of an asthma attack that triggered a heart attack, three years after her father was killed by cops

Cops tend to Eric Garner after he was placed in ‘chokehold’

And those consequences weigh more heavily on communities of color.

‘When an unarmed black man is killed by police, black people in that area have an increase in depression,’ said Dr Edwards, citing previous research.

‘When the victim is white, there’s no change.’

There are also more illnesses in heavily-policed and often black and Latinx communities.

Eric Garner died after Staten Island police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, put him in a forbidden chokehold in 2014.

His last words, ‘I can’t breathe,’ became a rallying cry for activists calling for an end to police violence against black people in the US.

For three years, his daughter, Erica, helped to lead the effort, but in 2017 she suffered a catastrophic asthma attack, which triggered a heart attack and ultimated killed her.

She was just 27, and had lived under immense stress after her father’s death.

Last week – five year’s after Eric Garner’s death – a New York Police Department judge finally recommended that Pantaleo be fired.

‘How long it took for that to happen is consistent with the idea that, if we treat [police violence] as harmful to our communities, the community can have a stronger role in deciding how those paid employees behave,’ said Dr Edwards.

He says that looking at police violence as a public health concern may help us shift that perspective toward the needs of the community, and away from situations that unnecessarily pit police officers against the communities they’re supposed to serve.

‘Police have become first responders to all circumstances,’ Dr Edwards said.

‘Police themselves will tell you they are not equipped to respond to many of the situations’ – like mental health crises – ‘that they’re sent out to – but they are trained in fatal violence.

‘There are many communities in which interactions with governments [and their enforcers] are always hostile, and a public health approach can help us think about ways we can do it differently

Institutionalized Impunity for Killer Cops

  1. The cops that caused the deaths of Eric Garner, Sandra Bland and countless other Black people are protected by a “social contract” with the rulers of the nation, sais New York City activist Shannon Jones, of Why Accountability. The arrangement provides killer cops with impunity in return for maintaining control over people of color.